family, Living Life, Uncategorized

Once Upon A Time….

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Our love story began long before we ever said “I do” .

 

Once upon a time, there was a 17-year-old young man, handsome, charming, already entering his adulthood. Already full of life experiences, living life to the full, sowing his wild oats, the good and the bad.

 

He and his family were acquaintances and friends with a nice family in the community, a young mother raising her 8 children. His siblings would hang out with the kids of this family, going to school together, going to church together.

 

This young man also knew the family, from the oldest to the youngest, a little, brown-eyed baby girl.

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He grew into a strong, hard-working man, becoming highly skilled in his trade over the course of the next several years, becoming a husband and a dad, and growing grounded in his relationship with Christ.

 

 

In the mean time, that little baby girl was growing up into a young woman in a loving family, with happy childhood days, learning what life was all about, making some mistakes along the way, and growing to love the Lord.

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As a young teenager, she prayed to the Lord about the kind of man she wanted to marry someday. He should be tall, handsome, hard-working, and most importantly, a Christian man.  He would treat her good, and be kind.

 

 
Ironically, or perhaps revelatory of the future, they both happened to attend a Halloween party when she was about 16. It just so happened that she arrived dressed as a man, and he wore a full, womanly costume, complete with a long, blue dress (generously stuffed!), dark wig, and heels. He was quite attractive, actually!

 

One of the party games was The Newlywed Game. Don’t ask me how this fit with a Halloween party, but at that time, it was quite popular and well-known.

 

Guess who was paired up as a couple? And guess who won the whole game? Yep!

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Fast forward a couple more years……

 

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She was now 18, mature, getting ready to graduate from high school, and full of anticipation and dreams about life.

 

 

 

 

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He was now 35 and single.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in town visiting his family in the early 80’s, he went to church with them one Sunday, and she, being a member of the congregation, was also there. Through their friendly conversation, she shared about some minor struggles in her life. He offered a listening ear and a friendship blossomed.

 

A drive to get a soda… good conversation… a friendly game of bowling… soon, their mutual feelings of affection grew undeniably.

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The difference in their years was a clear consideration for both of them. One evening after church, he said to her, “I sure wish you were ten years older.”, to which she replied, “I sure wish you were ten years younger.”

 

Somehow, the vast span of their ages became less significant, as their love changed the perception of time.

 

In the end, they couldn’t deny their love for one another, and as the old cliché goes, “it was meant to be”. A few months later, they were married in that same small church, surrounded by their loving families.

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This love story is my own, and that handsome young man, my husband. No one could have predicted that one day, that young man and that little girl would fall in love and merge their very different lives into one.

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Yet, now, an unbelievable 34 years later, we continue our paths together, the good times and the hard times, going through life’s changes while holding onto each other.

 

As we celebrate our 34th anniversary, I dedicate this post to my wonderful husband, my friend, the one I love.

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family, Living Life, Uncategorized

Baby-Sister Forever

Baby-Sister Forever
Growing up in a large family was wonderful. Being the baby of the family was even better.

 

 

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I know there are stigmas that go along with that. That we are spoiled, self-centered, and get away with everything. That may be so for others, but I think my family was exceptional, so I feel like I escaped some of the negativity that plagues my position in the birth order.

 

According to my personal experience, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to being the ‘baby sister’.

 

First the not-so-fun parts:  For instance, big sisters sometimes take on the ‘mom’ role. I had 5 big sisters but I’m proud to say, they were not forceful in this aspect.

 

However, one particular memory is forever etched in my mind! We visited a small church one Sunday. I was probably about 2-3 years old, simply because if I was any older, I don’t think I would have fit in the ‘torture chamber’ my siblings put me in.

 

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They took me to the nursery and put me in the crib. This was not an ordinary crib. It was more like a wall unit, which had a double stack of smaller, enclosed cribs, and each one had wooden bars which were pulled down to keep a baby or small child safely inside without the danger of falling out.

 

To my recollection, it was more like a cage, and I did not like it one bit! Obviously, as I still remember it! Oh, it’s very comical now and we’ve laughed about it many times.

 

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Debbie would try and try to get this extremely shy little girl to sing, either on a tape recorder or in front of people. “Sing, Robin, sing!”, she would say. I suppose I should thank her, since now I can’t stop!

 

Being called “baby sister” can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.

 

If you’re a teenager who is trying to be more ‘mature’, you don’t want to be called that. But when you reach the age of forty or above, being called baby anything is ok! I don’t mind it at all!

 

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As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m finding it difficult to recollect other examples of  ‘baby sis’ disadvantages. Other than the normal sibling teasing, and fighting with one of my sisters over her clothes (she knows who she is!), it was actually pretty nice!

 

 

 

There was the time that Gwen was pushing me on the swing at the city park. I fell off and gashed my forehead. She carried me all the way home, while I bled all over her.

 

And after jumping on the bed one day, I fell off and knocked the wind out of myself. My brother Kevin came to my rescue and pounded me on the back til I caught my breath again. It was very scary and I’ve always credited him with saving my life.

 

Of course, it’s easy to remember more of the positives! My brothers and sisters loved me! And I loved them! They were my playmates, my protectors, my examples. I celebrated their successes, shared their heartaches, and learned from their mistakes.

 

 

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After they grew up and moved out of the house, I spent a lot of time with my sisters and my oldest brother in their homes.

 

 

 

They loved having me there, and I loved it, too. They always made me feel special and loved.

 

And they still do.

 

Come to think of it, maybe I am that spoiled baby sister. But in the best way possible:


 I am spoiled on love.

 

 

 

 

family, Home Life

Uncle Bob

When I was a little girl, there was a very special man in my life.img_2366
My Uncle Bob.

Oh, he was a tall, handsome, funny, and loving man. He always made me feel so special, even when I became an adult. I think he made all of my siblings feel special, too.

He was a secure male role-model for us, the father-figure we all needed at that time.
He never yelled at us, always loved it when my Mother would take us to their little house for a visit. They never made us feel like we were a bother and we were always welcomed.
In fact, he and his family helped my Mom many times, as she single-handedly worked to raise her children with little income, sometimes bringing groceries or big boxes of apples or oranges at Christmas time.
Whenever we went over and I had a splinter, he would give me a whole quarter so that I would let him take it out. A quarter doesn’t sound like much, but at that time, you could load up on the penny candy at the store!

My sister Shelby recently confessed that when she knew we were going to Uncle Bob’s house, she would run her fingers over the wooden porch rails, trying to get a sliver. Sometimes it would work!

 

He would engage my sister Gwen in a game of checkers, using quarters as the game pieces, and somehow she always ‘won’.

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And every now and then he would bring out the favorite toy. It was a wind-up Mickey Mouse that would play the xylophone, turning side to side, bending up and down, while arms alternated in motion. The most interesting and mechanical toy I had ever seen!

 

 

 

 

But what I loved most about going to his house were the music jams.

He would get on the old organ or piano, Aunt Mary would sit at the drums, and whoever else played an instrument would join in. The children were always encouraged to be part of the music. We gathered around, sitting on the floor, and played maracas, the triangle, the tambourine, and other percussion instruments.

The songs ranged from old traditional hymns, to fun old-time ones like “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea”. If you’ve never heard it, here’s a link. Be forewarned, it will probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s a fun song!

There were big band favorites like ‘In the Mood’. Uncle Bob loved playing that one and would just let it go on the organ or piano. And my cousin Marilyn was always requested to sing “Teddy Bear”.

It wasn’t just the music that we loved, it was the special time of gathering together with family and finding joy even when times were hard.

When I asked some of my family to reminisce about the days at Uncle Bob’s house, there was one thing that stood out the most to all of us.

We felt loved.

Faith, Uncategorized

An Unfinished Masterpiece 

I am God’s masterpiece.

Yes, in my present state, I am.

You see, He knows my sin. He knows my weaknesses and mistakes. He sees the areas of my life that I still need to overcome, where I need to choose His will over my own.

But when He looks at me, He sees my potential, the design for me which He placed within the very depths of my being when He thought of me and planned me.

If you were creating a magnificent piece of pottery, as an artist, you have already visualized what it will look like, the colors, the material you want to use, the size and shape, and even the purpose it will serve. Will it hold flowers? Will it be a beautiful bowl for use in the kitchen? Or will it be so unique and intriquing that it will serve as a show-stopping focal piece in the courtyard of a grand hotel?

Now imagine, you see a flaw beginning to form in it, what would you do? Would you mash the clay back into a ball and begin all over again? Would you accept anything less that absolute perfection? Here’s a better question…How can you tell the difference between something that is factory manufactured, ‘cookie-cutter’ style, and something that was literally hand-crafted?

It is by it’s uniqueness! Yes, even by it’s imperfections! Those little flaws and variations are evidence that this particular piece is hand-crafted, a one-of-a-kind work of art. There is not another one like it anywhere in the artist’s workshop. Therefore, it’s value increases. In fact, sometimes the flawed piece is more desirable, because of it’s uniqueness.

I know that God already knew that I would be imperfect. Believe me, I know where all my flaws are! Don’t get me wrong, He loves me too much to leave me in my sinful state, and wants me to continually seek Him and submit those imperfections to His will. It is an on-going process.

But He sees my potential. He sees my value and says to me, “Come on, follow me, I know you can do this!”

My favorite chapter in the Bible is Psalm 139, because it is so personal, speaking to me, this flaw-filled human being.

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.”   Psalm 139:13-18

He “knit me together in my mothers womb“, and “all the days ordained for me were written in His book, before one of them came to be“. He saw my potential then, and He sees it now. He is not willing to give up on me!

 

Just like parents, who fall in love with their children, even before seeing their image on the ultrasound screen, believing in the potential that little life holds, and before that child is born, already loving them with every ounce of their hearts.

There is only one you and God truly does love you so.

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This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

 

(Photo credit- publicdomainpictures.net)

 

 

 

family, Uncategorized

The Most Beautiful Mother

Let me tell you about my Mother. She would say, “Oh, there’s nothing about me anyone would want to read about.” She doesn’t know how special she is.

But she is so wrong. You see, there is so much you need to know about this woman! That she lived her life humbly, kindly, with generosity and sacrifice, in spite of the fact that life was not always kind back and that she did not always receive the kind of love which she gave. A woman of high integrity, always holding firmly to what she felt was the right thing.

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There are many things I probably do not even know about her life growing up, maybe some things she does not want us to know, and I realize that my time for hearing her stories is getting shorter. At 86 years of age, these days now are precious.

Her beginnings were meager, her family poor, and her life simple. There is an old black and white photograph of her as a small child, standing in front of a very tiny, little cabin.

Of course, she learned important home crafting skills that were so much a part of life then. Taking the flour sacks and bleaching them until they were white as snow, embroidering them with lovely, intricate patterns, finished edges of lace or crochet. Tucking each precious piece of handiwork away, as she dreamed of a future home in which to use them, and of the family she hoped to have one day.

My Mama was the hardest working woman I ever knew. As I have mentioned before, she knew how to provide for her family, even when money was scarce. She worked all day at home, from early morning til after we went to bed. On occasion, she would work at a local produce processing warehouse, or would pick fruit in the orchard for extra income. An excellent seamstress, she would tailor custom clothing and do alterations. She even once sewed all the cheerleader uniforms for our school district.

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But before beginning her tasks in the morning, she would get up around 4 am, sit in the quiet house and enjoy her morning coffee. In fact, at 86 years of age now, she still does this. I’ve often wished I was a morning person, as I would have liked that special time in the morning. But my body clock didn’t seem to be programmed for that!

Her mothering instincts began early, as she would fashion a baby doll out of just about anything.

I am the youngest of her 8 children. When I was a young teenager, she fulfilled her life long desire to give a home to children in need. She and my step-dad became foster parents.

I’ll never forget the day the first foster child arrived. I walked in the front door after school, when she sneakily told me to go do something in my bedroom.

When I entered the room, there lying in my bed all snuggled up, was the prettiest little Mexican baby girl, with thick, black, curly hair, long eyelashes, and full, chubby cheeks. Just beautiful! I asked my Mom, “Do we get to keep her?!”

From that day, hundreds of children have come through her home, and have called her ‘Mom’. She loved them when their own family couldn’t… or wouldn’t. She gave them the stability they never knew in their own little world. She listened when they needed to talk, helped them find joy and happiness in just being little kids, gave them a mother’s nurturing and comfort when they needed a Band-aid, and shed tears when it was time for them to leave.

I’ve seen her laugh with them, and I once saw her run after a misbehaving little boy who couldn’t believe that ‘old lady’ could catch him!

It wasn’t always easy sharing my Mom with so many, but I knew this was her heart. I feel proud that some of them still adoringly and sincerely call her Mom. That she is so special, that she has imprinted on their heart in that unique space reserved only for our Mothers.

She is a wonderful example of a mother to me! If my children love me the way I love her, I will be truly blessed.

“Her children arise and call her blessed” Proverbs 31:28

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(Photo credits- Robin Abrams, Gwen Lawson)