Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life's Surprises

For the past couple of days, the grief has been heavy on my heart and spirit yet again. I know this is normal and have learned to work with the grieving process instead of against it. Still, it is so very painful.

Again, I was so overwhelmed with loneliness and missing my dear husband that I could feel depression hovering over me like a heavy thunderstorm about to erupt. I went through all the stages of crying, being angry, bargaining with God.....it goes on. However, in a short while I did realize what was happening and I began to pray that the Lord would let me rest and would deliver me from the throes of this pain.

Then, something absolutely unexpected and hilarious happened. A precious teenage cousin has graciously accepted me as her friend on Facebook. She posted new pictures of herself and her new beau. I commented that he was a cutie, but I suppose she thought him to be a hunk, huh?

Today, this so sweet young girl sent me a message.....'what is a hunk'?!!! Do ya suppose I'm showing my age girls?! I laughed until I cried and nearly had to make a quick trip to the necessary room! I've got to get out more and get back among teens! I don't want to turn into an old lady!

As though the Lord hadn't already fulfilled His promise to me, I went to check the mail expecting to find the usual daily paper, various catalogs, magazines, BILLS and just what I call 'File 13' mail. But, to my great surprise, what did I find? An envelope from a cyber friend who lives in Florida. I opened the envelope to reveal the cutest hand made package and enclosed was a beautiful charm bracelet with a charm attached with my nickname, 'Di', on it! Now, can you get any better than that?! I was more than thrilled and surprised beyond belief!

What turned out to be a sad and lonely day, the Lord quickly turned into a day of laughter and joy, with an exciting surprise attached! Isn't that just like God?!

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
St. John 16:20

Monday, March 30, 2009

God Is Taking Care of You!

(My nephew, Jacob, who is always doing something nice for someone!)

Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for?
THAT'S GOD talking to you through the Holy Spirit.

(My nephew, Adam, who is struggling to come back from a failed relationship.)

Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to?
THAT'S GOD wanting you to talk to Him.

(Me with Daddy and Momma. I won't look around and see Momma here, but one day soon, I'll greet her at Heaven's Pearly Gate!)

Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven't seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them?
THAT'S GOD. There is no such thing as coincidence.

(My nephew, Jared, with his daughter, Allyson Ann. He certainly didn't plan for her, but what a wonderful blessing she is!)

Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn't even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you needed, but couldn't afford?
THAT'S GOD knowing the desires of your heart.

(My nephew-in-law {and in heart!}, Brian, when he was in Iraq. We are SO proud of him!)

Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it was going to get better, how the hurting would stop, how the pain would ease, but now you look back on it.
THAT'S GOD passing us through tribulation to see a brighter day.

(My nephew, Caleb, who is just a technological superman!)

Have you ever wanted to throw your computer out the door while exclaiming expletives at the top of your voice? Then you remember that computer savy nephew.
THAT'S GOD reminding you that He has supplied your need.

(Me and Terry at my parent's 40th Anniversary Vow Renewal Ceremony, 1997)

Have you ever felt absolutely alone and forsaken? Then found an old picture of your life in happier times?
THAT'S GOD reminding you that you that HE has the supply for all your needs.!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. "

Phil. 4:19 (NIV)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This story was shared with me through email by a very dear friend. It touched my heart deeply. I pray it will touch yours just as deeply. I will never see my 'thorns' in the same light again.

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied.

Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered.. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer....

"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched - was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left with no flowers!"

"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

"Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.

"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement . . twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too . . fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love....Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart...The first year's arrangement is always on me."

The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: "My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are You A Person of Good Influence?

Ilene 'Maw' McDonald & Mr. Carl Stewart
(This picture was taken about 1985 on the grounds of our church.)

My 'Maw' would be red with embarrassment if she knew I was posting this picture! She never had a place in her heart for any other man than my 'Paw'. Although he passed away in 1966, she never remarried or even considered it. She was totally devoted to Paw, her family and her Lord. There was need or time for anything else.

She was such a sweet little lady. When Paw died, she was very young....only 55 years old. I know now just how young that was because I am only 51. I had expected to be able to spend many, many more years taking care of my Terry. Maw expected to spend her life taking care of her Herbert. When he died suddenly of heart disease, she was devestated. I understand that now. Many, many times she told my sisters and I that we were all that held her together at that time. We spent every weekend with her and later she became our sitter when Momma was working the night shift.

She spent the week with us for the first few weeks. Then, she said it was time to go home and she did. Since we were in school, we couldn't spend the weeknights, but we spent every weekend! I don't know who had more fun, Maw or us! She'd pop huge dish pans full of popcorn and we would lie in the floor watching T.V., eating popcorn and knowing we were living the life of Riley, whoever that is! Life couldn't have been any better.

On those nights, when there was nothing on T.V., or after the stations signed off, we would sit and sing hymns from her old copy of her Grandfather Atkinson's old hymnal or read the Bible out loud together. I still have that hymnal now and treasure it more than if it were the finest gold. Those early years of singing hymns with Maw, reading the Bible with her and just spending time with her was one of my earliest influences for the importance of being a Christian.

Maw went to church with us on Sundays. She always said she didn't have anything to give the church, but that it sure gave her something. She was so wrong about that! She was so loved by all the kids and so respected and loved by the adults. When she went home, it was a sad day indeed for the people of our church, but what a celebration was held in heaven!

Mr. Stewart is the grandfather of one of my brothers-in-law. He was a very tall, large framed man with a deep and resounding base voice. I used to love nothing more than to sit and listen to him sing in that resonant voice, lifting praises to his Heavenly Father. He was an elder and deacon in our church. He was a great Bible teacher and leader. He was never afraid to stand up for what he believed and would do so with deep respect for those who disagreed with him.

I remember one of his favorite songs being "The Fountain Free". He would stand straight and tall and sing with all the love for Jesus within him and smile while tears rolled down those wrinkled cheeks...."will you come to the fountain free,will you come tis for you and me; thirsty sould hear the welcome call, tis the fountain open for all". Oh what joy that memory holds for me!

Even after having to go to a nursing facility to live, his family would bring him to church for visits and he would rise and stand as tall as his frail body would allow and sing in that still deep and sweet voice. To me, that is the voice of heaven!

These precious people were two of the first influences in my life for Jesus Christ. Because of their love of Jesus and their living example of what He wanted us to be, I know the love of Jesus and His grace and mercy in salvation today. When it comes my time to walk the golden streets of heaven, I look forward to seeing them again and telling just how much their lives influenced my own.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Welcome Spring!

Click on picture to enlarge. Sorry for the quality; it is much better when you enlarge it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be Still....

My life since well before Terry's home going has been filled with stress and the trials that come with caring for a terminally ill individual. For months now, I haven't known real rest or peace. Every waking moment has been full of the needs of my husband, my mother-in-law, my Dad and before her own home going, my Mom. Even when I slept, the sleep wasn't peaceful or restful. I could not sleep deeply, too afraid someone would need me during the night.

Momma's suffering finally ended and the Lord took her to her heavenly home on April 20, 2006. On August 12, 2006, my life was uprooted as we moved into my mother-in-law's home to take care of her after she fell and broke 6 vertebra in her back. Daddy was so emotionally and physically sick, he too almost died within that first year after Momma went home. In the middle of all that, we learned Terry had terminal liver disease.

Turmoil was my way of life. Everyone needed a piece of me and there was nothing left over for me. I struggled and begged the Lord to give me strength so I wouldn't fail my loved ones. He did. In ways I could have never imagined, the Lord met my needs and kept me on my feet, even when my own health was wavering.

After Terry went home, I couldn't understand why I wasn't rebounding as I thought I should. I fought the grief and determined that other women had lived through this tragedy and so would I! I plowed ahead in spite of warnings from my body that it had been neglected for far too long. I would not give in to this; I was stronger than that!

Then, it happened. My body failed me. I was angry with my failing body, with the Lord for allowing it to happen, with Momma and Terry for leaving me, with Daddy and my mother-in-law for still needing so much of my attention when I had nothing left to give. I still would not stop and rest and allow my body time to heal and give attention to it's needs. I was struck down with pneumonia in both lungs, yet I forced myself to plow forward.

Finally, my body said 'enough is enough' and cried out loudly enough to get my attention. When I could barely breathe for the pain in my chest, I listened and I listened well! An overnight in the hospital, along with yet another cardiac catherization and several blood tests finally got my attention. My body would no longer allow me to neglect it.

Then, in my daily devotional reading, the Lord brought these Scriptures to my attention. I knew this, have known it for many years, have counseled others in this very area. What was I thinking? Why did I fail to realize that these Scriptures applied to me too? The Lord let me go as long as He could without allowing me to cause irreparable damage to myself. Then, He drew me up short and stopped me in my tracks and made me see what I had been so diligently running from for so many months. My body needed rest and rejuvenation. My spirit needed healing and my heart needed solace from Him alone.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him...." Ps. 37: 7a NIV

"Be still and know that I am God...." Ps. 46: 10a NIV

"My soul finds rest in God alone...." Ps. 62:1a NIV

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matt. 11: 28-30 NIV

After allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart, and after hearing the diagnoses from the doctors and the admonitions about rest, I FINALLY decided to listen to the Lord and do what He had been urging me to do all along. I rested, not just from busy-ness, but from anger and disappointment. I allowed the Lord to re-fill my heart with the love He had been longing to give me.

Now, I am so much better. I know grief will still present challenges and I will have my times of suffering and sadness. However, I pray I remember to rest in the Lord and allow my body time to recover from the stresses it has endured. What an awesome and loving God we serve!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bittersweet Goodbyes....

These are my babies, Mischa (L) and Klinket (R). They are full-blooded Alaskan Malamutes. Mischa is definitely the Alpha male and wants to be the ruler of the roost, always into something! Klinket is so laid back and gentle, happy just to be in your presence. They are now just under one year old. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to my babies yesterday afternoon.

Alaskan Malamutes are very energetic dogs who need a lot of attention and exercise. Because of some health issues, I can no longer take care of them as I should. Therefore, I knew the only answer was to find them a new family. After an extensive search and a lot of heartache and second-guessing myself, I finally found someone who is willing to take them in and give them a home together. They will have a new family of young adults and children.

I am so happy for my babies. This is exactly what they need. I know they will be happy, but it still hurts to see them go! I visited them yesterday afternoon at the kennels and spent about an hour playing and saying goodbye. It was a bittersweet afternoon, indeed!

Goodbye my babies. Have a wonderful life. I will always remember you and the joy and love you gave to me and Terry. I will always love you. You stole my heart the minute I saw you. A piece of me goes with you. Enjoy your new family and be happy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Will Be Here

On this date in 1957, Van McDonald and Thelma Howell were united in Holy Matrimony at the Alcorn County Courthouse in Corinth, MS. Thus began the love story that gave birth to four daughters, three sons-in-law, one granddaughter, four grandsons, one grandson-in-law, one great grandson and two great granddaughters.........my family.

The years between then and now have been filled to overflowing with joy, love laughter, tears, pain, disappointment, grief and goodbyes. Today, Daddy, my sisters and I will go to the cemetery to lay flowers on Momma's grave. I now know Daddy will grieve in ways I couldn't have imagined only two shorts months ago.

He has come so far in his grief. It gives me hope that I too can begin to feel almost normal again. I asked him the other day how long it took him to feel happiness again after Momma went to be with the Lord. In his straight forward way, he replied simply "I haven't yet". However, he has reached a point where he can laugh again and really feel a momen't happiness. He has the joy of the Lord which sustains him and he's beginning to feel the happiness of being surrounded by his family again.

It has been a long struggle for him, but I do see the signs of hope in his face from time to time. As often as not, I also see a tear glistening in his eye and now I understand how the happiness and the pain can co-exist in such complete harmony. He will never get over being without Momma, but he is beginning to enjoy life again. I am thankful for that; for him and for me.

At their 40th Anniversary, they renewed their vows before our church and our families. My niece, Katie, sang this Steven Curtis Chapman song for them. Neither could have known how true these words would be before the next ten years had passed and Momma had passed on to her heavenly reward.


Tomorrow morning if you wake up
and the sun does not appear
I......I will be here

If in the dark, we lose sight of love
Hold my hand, and have no fear
'Cause I......I will be here

I will be here When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind I will listen
And I will be here When the laughter turns to cryin'
Through the winning, losing and trying
We'll be together I will be here

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I.......I will be here

Just as sure as seasons were made for change
Our lifetimes were made for these years
So I......I will be here

I will be here And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older I will hold you

And I will be here To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I.....I will be here

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I......I will be here

Oh, I......I will be here.

So, Happy Anniversary Daddy. I know that, in your heart, you are just as married to Momma today as you were on this day 52 years ago. I understand what that feels like now and I understand the sadness I see in your eyes. Know that your daughters love you and admire you for the man and the Daddy you are and always have been. Thank you for loving Momma and for teaching us what real love is all about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Final Iowa Post

This will be the final post in my Iowa trip series. I apologize for having taken so long to have gotten to this post. I arrived home one week ago today, but was very ill and just didn't have it in me to write a long post. I am much better now, Praise the Lord!

During the last week of my trip, Katie's children were sick for most of the week. Finally on Friday afternoon after school, we made a brief trip out to Clear Lake, which is a small resort community about a 10-15 minute drive from Mason City. Of course, the first place the kids wanted to visit was the playground!

Alix and Jaden were having a great time on the playground, so Katie and I were going to take a walk down to the beach, which is within sight and a very brief walk. It was windy, but a nice day, as Iowa days go! The kids decided they wanted to go too. Alix had, by this point, moved to the swings and Jaden to the Jungle Gym. As Alix was dismounting from her swing, she accidentally slipped and fell backwards into a large puddle of ice cold water which had melted below the swing!

Poor Alix was devastated! She began to cry uncontrollably immediately saying "We have to go home!" "We have to go home!" "I spoiled every body's time!" "We have to go home!" Of course, it scared Katie to death because she had her back to Alix and didn't know what had happened, only that she suddenly heard Alix screaming and crying. Katie came running to Alix, maybe not sounding as understanding as she might have because she was simply scared to death!

I told Alix to stop crying, it was only an accident and everything would be okay! Katie put her coat around her and helped her back to the car. She got into the car just shivering! I felt so bad for her, I would have given her MY dry clothes! She was just broken hearted! I told her not to worry, that I'm sure there was a place for us to get her a dry pair of pants. Katie drove to a small shop in town and we inquired about pants for Alix. The shop keeper told up to try to Dollar General store. Well, of course, every small town has a Dollar General! It may not be haute couture, but I'll bet they'll have some dry sweat pants for a little girl!

So, with directions given, we were off to the Dollar General Store! Within in minutes, we were driving into their lot and heading inside. After a brief look around, there they were, a navy pair of sweat pants, size small! Just what we needed to dry out little girls' eyes and behind! So, with haste I purchased the sweat pants and we headed for the car. When there, Alix was no longer crying, but now quite concerned. How would she change? And, what about underwear? Katie took her coat and held it up in front of the window and I told Jaden to turn his head. Alix was then concerned about her underwear because "...they're wet too Aunt Di...", so I told her the sweat pants were thick enough that she wouldn't need underwear.

She quickly changed her pants and put her socks and shoes back on. With the biggest smile on her little face you have ever seen, she lunged between the seats of Katie's car and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me so tightly and saying "thank you, Aunt Di, thank you!", you would have thought I had given her a pair of designer jeans, not Dollar Store sweats! She was so excited. Katie started to pull out of the parking lot and we headed back to the beach. I am so glad we did!

The kids went right to the water's edge, looking for whatever treasure it is kids think they can only find right at the water's edge! Katie and I were constantly calling "Come away from the water!", "Don't' get so close to the water!", "Get back here, you're going to fall in and drown!" or some such admonition! Alix found herself a piece of driftwood, which immediately became her 'exploring stick'!

They walked up and down the beach, digging in the sand and begging up to let them go climb on the rocks. Before Katie could even answer, I said "NO!"; both kids looked at me as though I had completely lost my mind and then at their Mom as though she had best do something for me! I don't think they were accustomed to hearing 'no' from my mouth! Good aunts can't let that be a habit, you know?!

Although we could see no evidence of ice in the lake, we could still see snow along the shoreline of the lakefront homes. Some were just small cottages, but some were multi-million dollar homes that were just gorgeous! I told Katie that's where I wanted to live! She said her too, unfortunately Martin-Brower (Brian's employer) didn't agree with her!

There were also some town houses just off the shore that had just been renovated. I'll bet they were gorgeous inside and just right there on the lake! It was an old building which had been converted into town homes. The building was beautiful, but I didn't get pictures cause I was too busy trying to watch the kids and make sure they didn't turn into road kill!

By this time, the kids are begging to climb into the lifeguard's chair. Katie is saying no and the kids are begging and I'm thinking "cute pics"...............so, I say (very quietly so kids don't hear) "Oh come on Katie, it won't hurt anything. I'll get some cute pics!" So, she says yes and the race is on! Not for the kids............ME! I've gotta get down there and take pictures before they're both up and down and don't want to go back up again!

So, I rushed, well as much as I CAN rush anyway, and got the pictures! I know I'm prejudiced, but I think they're great shots! How could I miss with such great models?! The kids were thrilled to get to climb, I was thrilled to get their pictures and Katie was thrilled to be the 'good' Mommy for an afternoon! It was a good day!
Yes, it had been a good afternoon, but the sun was not setting over the water, the breeze was getting cooler and we were hungry. So, we decided it was time to say goodbye to the lake and head home. On the way back into Mason City, we decided to go to the Northwestern Steakhouse for dinner. I had not been and Katie had been telling me how I just HAD to have a steak there before I left! So, that's where we had dinner.

Katie was SO right! If you are ever in Mason City, IA and love a good Greek steak, you HAVE to go to Northwestern Steakhouse! The steak is so tender, it almost melts in your mouth. It is a quaint little restaurant, very casual, excellent service by very down-home people and just an absolutely sensory experience in every way! Let me warn you though, if you're going, go early. They open at 4 p.m and there's usually a line around the building by 5 p.m. We were so blessed to walk in a bit after 5 and get the last available table. It is, hands down, the best steak I have ever put into my mouth.

So, goodbye Iowa. You and your people have been kind to me. I will never forget you or this trip or the healing it has allowed in my wounded spirit. You hold within your borders four of the most precious souls in all the world to me. Take care of them, they are my family.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Music of My Life

Have you ever sat late into the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep, and found yourself watching infomercials? Well, I did last night.

I was paying bills, balancing bank accounts, etc. and noticed some sort of CD being sold with utmost persuasion on the T.V. Turns out it's a set of CD's of romance songs from the 70's. Now, that's our time.........the time when I met Terry, when we grew to know and love each other, when we were married and started a lifelong journey together.

As I listened to the songs replaying in my living room, I began to replay images of us during those first years together. I listened and remembered and laughed and cried and cried some more, thinking this is the music of my life.

The first time ever I saw your face..............that Saturday afternoon when Terry knocked on our front door and I answered. I was blown over by this gorgeous man standing there smiling down at me! A smile that lit up the sunshine! Eyes that penetrated the depths of my heart before we even said hello.

My eyes adored you.................our first date, a double date with our mutual friend who was dating his friend and who had suggested he call me. We ditched them as soon as we could! We talked for hours about anything and everything under the sun! He opened my doors for me, he held my chair, he placed his hand to the small of my back as he walked me from car to restaurant and back, the perfect gentleman.

If a picture paints a thousand words then why can't I paint you..................a summer of young love, of discovery, of finding who you are so you can know who he is. Barely aware of myself as a teenager, yet already thinking of myself as a woman married to this wonderful man whom the Lord had brought to our front door.

You are so beautiful to me................nothing he did or said was wrong in my eyes. He treated me with respect and he wanted to be with me just as much as I wanted to be with him.

Stuck on you...................oh, absolutely! Stuck and never, ever want to be separated!

And they called it Puppy Love...........yep, that's what Momma called it, said I was too young to know anything about real love and what it took to make it last. Guess we proved them wrong, huh baby!

If I could save time in a bottle..................oh, if only! At that tender age, I never knew how much those lyrics would come to mean to us over the years. How we would savor the minutes and grasp them tightly so as to never forget the time God had given us together!

Lady in red............Terry's favorite song after we had been together for a while. Said it always made think of me, always made him want to drop everything and come to me.

The first time ever I saw your face..................a memory only shared by the two of us. No pictures, no movies, just two people searching for something who finally found it in the face looking back at them at our front door on that Saturday afternoon so very long ago. A snapshot held only in my mind's eye, but still as clear as in that incredible moment when first our eyes met.

The music of my life, my love.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Be a People-Builder

"In response to all he has done for us, let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good." (Hebrews 10:24 TLB)

There's a price tag for being a people-builder: It requires unselfishness.

Why should we do it then? Because the Bible tells us to "outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good" (Hebrews 10:24 TLB).

At some point, the Romans confuse the word cristos with the word crestos. Cristos means Christ; Crestos, in Latin, means kindness. In a roundabout way, that confusion can teach us something: Christians should be the kindest of all people.

I want to give you an objective: to be a people-builder for the rest of your life. Begin by writing down the name of one person you want to help build up, then stop and pray.

Ask God to show you that person's strengths. We always build on our strengths, not on our weaknesses. Write down whatever strengths you've seen in him or her in the past.

Then tell him or her, "I've been thinking about you because I really care about you. I wanted to share with you—from my viewpoint—the strengths I see in your life, because those strengths determine what God wants us to do in our lives."

Imagine the impact you could have if you would commit yourself to being a people-builder, if you determined to bring out the best in everyone within your congregation. That's one of the purposes of the church: to help people to grow and to become what God made them to be.

The above is re-printed from a devotional by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church, author of The Purpose Driven Life series.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where God Ain't

He was just a little boy,
On a week's first day.
Wandering home from Bible school,
And dawdling on the way.

He scuffed his shoes into the grass;
He even found a caterpillar.
He found a fluffy milkweed pod,
And blew out all the 'filler.'

A bird's nest in a tree overhead,
So wisely placed up so high.
Was just another wonder,
That caught his eager eye.

A neighbor watched his zig zag course,
And hailed him from the lawn;
Asked him where he'd been that day
And what was going on.

'I've been to Bible School ,'
He said and turned a piece of sod.
He picked up a wiggly worm replying,
'I've learned a lot about God.'

'M'm very fine way,' the neighbor said,
'for a boy to spend his time.'
'If you'll tell me where God is,
I'll give you a brand new dime.'

Quick as a flash the answer came!
Nor were his accents faint.
'I'll give you a dollar, Mister,
If you can tell me where God ain't.'

This was shared with me by a precious friend. It touched my heart so deeply. Leave it to a child to always have the right answer for every question!

You may have guessed that I'm back home in Tennessee now. It's good to be home, but I have to be honest, I came home very sick. My sister picked me up at the airport on Monday afternoon and brought me home. I was so sick, she didn't want to leave me, but I convinced her I was fine. I have no idea what happened for the next 24 hours!

I finally drug my body to the doctor yesterday and found I have double pneumonia. I'm on heavy duty antibiotics and an expectorant cough medicine, so I'm sure I'm going to be fine. As a matter of fact, I already feel some better.

I'll probably take another few days break from posting on the blog just to rest and recuperate. I miss you all and reading your blogs. Maybe I'll at least be able to do that now! Take care all!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Forward.....

I hope you all remembered to Spring Forward before retiring last evening. If not, you were late for church today!

Well, that is, unless you were like me and weren't where you could go. I'm still in Iowa, in Des Moines this weekend. We came down for the weekend so Katie and the kiddos could see Brian for a little while. They haven't seen him except briefly two weeks ago when they drove down to pick me up at that airport. He's still at Camp Dodge doing some military training.

18,000 Officers and Enlisted Men from Camp Dodge, IA

form a living Statue of Liberty

July, 1918

We surprised him after his classes were finished. Then, we surprised him again when Katie told him to get his things cause we had hotel rooms for the weekend! They're all so happy to see each other! I'm so glad we did this. Katie and kids are heading back to Mason City after we all have dinner tomorrow night. Brian will go back to the barracks at Camp Dodge and I will remain at the hotel to catch the shuttle to the airport for my flight on Monday.

By dinner time on Monday, I should be back home in Tennessee. It's been a great trip, but I honestly have to say I'm ready to be home again. As they say, there's no place like home! I hope you all have a great Sunday and don't feel too bad after losing that hour's sleep!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In Loving Memory

If Terry had his choice, I'm quite sure this is what heaven would look like!

Terry E. Chandler
March 7, 1954 - January 26, 2009

Happy Birthday for your first birthday in heaven!
You are forever in my heart.

(I wanted to post a photo essay of Terry's life today, but I could not. The pain is still too fresh.)

Friday, March 6, 2009


Eighteen years ago today, March 6, 1991, at around 11:00 p.m., my youngest nephew was born. So..........


Grandma Howell, Momma and Caleb--ca. 1993

When Caleb was a little fella, he had the blondest hair with the prettiest curls you have ever seen! Charlotte refused to cut his hair till well after his first birthday cause it was just sooooo cute! His only sister, Katie, had her heart set on a baby sister. After all, she already had two baby brothers! For the entire time of Charlotte's pregnancy, Katie prayed diligently and believed the Lord would give her a baby sister.

On the night of Caleb's delivery, she was stoked because she just KNEW she was gettin ready to welcome her brand new baby sister into the world. When Caleb arrived and Ricky came to tell us the news, the first question out of her mouth was "Is it a baby sister?"! When Ricky gathered her up into his arms and told her no, that it was a baby brother, her whole spirit was just crushed! She cried and cried. We went to see Caleb, who was just too precious for words, but it just could not calm her spirit.

We left the hospital with the kids in tow and headed back to Mommas. Katie continued to cry all the way home, which was about an hour's drive. She just could not understand why God had not given her a baby sister! She eventually cried herself to sleep at Momma's house.

The next day, Charlotte and Ricky brought Caleb home and Momma took the kids home to be there when they arrived. As soon as Caleb was at home where Katie could get her hands on him, she was enthralled with him! She mother-henned him and took care of him better than any baby doll she had!!! She held him, changed his diapers, rocked him, played with him...anything she could do to help, she did.

When he was older, because they lived in a three bedroom house and now had four children, my Charlotte and Ricky put Caleb into Katie's bedroom. At night when they were settling in to sleep, Caleb would crawl into his little toddler bed and call out to Katie "Katie, which way are you going to turn your head?" and Katie would answer "I"m going to turn my head toward you baby?" That would be it then. Caleb would settle down to sleep because he felt secure knowing Katie was watching out for him.

As he grew, he started Kindergarten and Katie was responsible for dropping him off every day. She would drive him to his Kindergarten building and drop him off, many times crying after her to take him with her. Many days, Katie went to school crying herself cause she was so upset that she had left Caleb crying.

Uncle Caleb and Alix--June, 2005

When Caleb was 9, Katie got married. His little heart was broken because his Katie was not going to come back home and live with him anymore! He was in the wedding party. He was such a little man, but he stood there and cried throughout the entire ceremony! Later in that same year, Katie and Brian introduced Caleb to his first niece, Alix Joy. Although Caleb was not yet ten, he took to Alix immediately. He loved her and watched over her and played with her....much like Katie had done for him.

Caleb--October, 2008

Now, Caleb is about to become a man! Oh my Lord, where have the years gone?! It seems only yesterday he was using his Dad's umbrella as a parachute while he jumped from the roof of the storage shed! Or tried to eat spiders, or covered his eyes with his hands proclaiming "You can't find me now cause you can't see me!"!!!! So many precious memories and now he's a man. This summer he will graduate from high school.

Caleb and Jacob--Mother's Day, 2008

He is such a tech geek. Not a geek in the wrong sense of the word, but in the sense that he is absolutely engrossed in technology and wants to know everything about anything new in the tech world. He knows more about my computer than me (which isn't saying a whole lot!) and he's my 'go to' guy when I have problems. He's never let me down, he's always known how to fix it and get me up and going again. He has expressed some interest in the military, but hasn't made his final decision yet.

He comes by my house to help me out with anything I might need and has been doing so for quite some time now. I honestly do not know what I would have done without him, his brothers and my other nephew during all the things I have been through over the past months. They have stood in the gap for me and took up the slack that was left when Terry could no longer do the 'man' things around our house. I was determined to do it on my own, but they wouldn't let me!

This IS Caleb, laid back and pretty much relaxed!

So, today my youngest nephew is 18. Wow! I still have a hard time seeing him as a grown young man. Thank you Lord for this wonderful young man who has blessed my life and my heart so very many times just by walking into the room! Happy Birthday Caleb! Aunt Di loves you and is so, so proud of the young man you have become!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Diane, Charlotte and Debra--1962

I am a member of an online group of wonderful Christian ladies who love and support each other through thick and thin. We pray for each other's needs and celebrate each other's victories. Every Thursday, we practice celebrating "Thankful Thursday". In honor of my Pennies, I have made today "Thankful Thursday" on my blog.

Charlotte, Debra and Diane--1964

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. Today, I have chosen to tell you about my sisters, for whom I am thankful every day, but never more than since the loss of my dear husband. They have stood beside me, loved me, prayed for me, cried with me and for me; they could have nothing more for me than they have. I will never be able to love them back enough to adequately appreciate all they have given me.

Diane, Charlotte and Debra--1961

This is one my most favorite pictures EVER of me and my sisters. I'm not really sure why, maybe because it was before I had concerns or responsibilities or cares of this world to make my heart heavy. It was all carefree because Momma and Daddy would take care of everything; nothing for me to worry about.

(Back Row, L-R) Ricky, Caleb, Jared holding Allyson and Brian

(Center Row) Charlotte and Katie

(Front Row) Alix, Jacob and Jaden

This is the middle sister, Charlotte, who is the mother of Katie and her three wonderful brothers, Jared, Jacob and Caleb. She also has three precious grandchildren, Alix, Jaden and Allyson. Allyson is the daughter of her oldest son, Jared. She is a Postmaster Replacement in her town and is married to Ricky, who is a minister and also is an electrical inspector for the State of TN. They have an incrediably busy life, but still find the time for family, making trips to Iowa as often as possible. Ricky takes an annual missionary trip to Ecuador and is a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in their town and is a member of the School Board in our county. I have always admired Charlotte for her quiet personality. She has the ability to love those around her without judgment, yet with appropriate expectations that they live up to their potential.

Adam, Debra and Dwade

Debra is the youngest living sister. She is the mother of Adam and is married to Dwade. Debra is the Dept. Mgr. for paper products at a local supermarket and is a chashier as well. Her husband runs his own business as a green-oriented logger, using horses for pulling the cut logs from the woods so as to incur as little damage as possible to standing timber. He also works at a local company, Thyssen-Krupp, as a machine operator. They are extremely involved in their church and commit a large amount of time to the ministries of the church. They also have my Dad living at home with them. After Momma passed away, Debra and Dwade bought the family farm and moved there. It allowed Daddy to continue to live where he is comfortable and feels at home. Debra is extrememly soft hearted and tends to take on the burdens of those around her. I pray she someday will have the grandchildren she so desperately desires.

Diane as an infant--1957

Everyone says Joyce looked like me.

The youngest sister was still born. Her name was Joyce Ann. She was born on Oct. 6, 1964 with her umbibical cord wrapped too tightly around her neck for the doctor to save her in time. We never saw her, nor even a picture of her, but my grandparents always told us that she looked very much like me when I was a baby. Some may wonder why I would include a stillborn sister whom I have never known in my "Thankful Thursday" post. It is because her very brief presence in our lives touched us and changed us all. Losing her was a great catalyst in my Dad becoming a born-again Christian, which impacted our lives so greatly. So, I'm thankful for Joyce and that I will get to know her when I reach heaven.

My Family

Diane, Charlotte and Debra

Momma and Daddy

December 17, 2004