God’s Peace, and the Power of Prayer

I have so many things I’d like to write about, but I can’t, due to the incredibly personal nature of them. About health. Work. Family. Sickness. Siblings. Parenting.

All the normal things of life.

But I can write about peace, and God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.

With the many difficult things I’ve been going through lately, I can tell I’m being sustained by friends’ prayers for me and my family. Because of these prayers, I don’t have anxiety about the unknown future. I’m not experiencing stress or great sadness. I’m a little fatigued, but I know it could be so much worse.

There are literally friends all around the country praying for my family, for the various things I’m facing. And God hears each prayer. They come before Him as incense, the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8). They are forever before Him as He sits on His throne.

And I am welcomed – no, invited – to come into the throne room with my prayers and petitions. Scripture tells me that I can come boldly before His throne (Hebrews 4:16). In fact, He longs for me to do so. He tells me to bring every concern to Him (1Peter 5:7).

The other night, I awakened around 3am with a rush of anxiety. Yes, it hits occasionally. And my first thought was, “Oh, no! All my prayer warriors are sleeping!” Funny, eh?!

For those of you who are praying, thank you. My family and I are so grateful. Your prayers keep us going, knowing that we are being lifted to the King of kings.

We don’t know what the future holds. None of us do. But, as the song says, we “know who holds the future.” God has everything under control. He’s working all things for our good. He is trustworthy.

I am at peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

National Pet Day

In honor of yesterday as National Pet Day, I wanted to write a post that shared the furry friends who have been part of our life over the years.

We started with a stray cat we found under our car in our first apartment. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of Jenny before she was reclaimed by the local drug dealer in our complex!

Next came Maggie, who we had before we had children. She was our first baby, and I think she thought she was human. She was with us for 16 years.

Then we had Alex – a kitten who hid in Chris’ underwear drawer, and who was an awesome companion to Maggie.

Next came Allie.

We found Bob when he’d been hit by a car. “Bob bites” might have been our daughter’s first sentence.

Then Arthur. The opposite of Bob. Our son learned to stand by pushing off of Arthur’s belly. He was so tolerant!

Then we got Abbie and Archie, who we had for 15 years.

Next came Ella, a hound dog who stopped listening whenever she caught a great scent.

Finally, we acquired Annabelle and now Henry. They have bonded well, and keep us company all day – and night – long!

We love our fur-babies!

“Year 2 ! It’s a tradition!”

I met my only cousin on my dad’s side last night for an event and dinner. It’s the second time in two years. Before that, it had probably been 10 years since we’d seen each other.

We didn’t grow up together with lots of cousin visits. I have a few pictures of us as kids – she’s a little older than me, and her family lived far away, so we just didn’t see each other much.

We reconnected via WordPress University – a blogging class that WordPress offered several years ago. We both blog – she about her family genealogies, and me about depression as a Christ follower. We were excited to share comments back and forth as we read each other’s blogs. She has done quite a bit of research on our grandfather, and it’s been so fun to read about our grandparents and their families.

A year ago, she told me she was coming to the area for the Virginia Festival of the Book. So I found a presentation on mental health books, and we met there. We enjoyed the panel, but had even more fun at dinner and a wine bar. I spent the night in her hotel room – she showed me love letters from our Papa Joe to his wife Kitty. We really had a great time reconnecting.

This year’s Festival of the Book rolled around, and we met for a panel last night, then went to a local pub. It was fun again to connect and catch up. And we made plans for June when my folks visit, to take a trip to Washington D.C. and see places of our dads’ and grandparents history! She’ll be the guide, as she knows the places. But we’re expecting “the trip down memory lane” to spark some stories from my dad. I’m excited!

And I’m so happy to have renewed a relationship. The older I get, the more important family is to me. So I’m thrilled that “cuz” and I have a new tradition. Two years and counting!

Papa Chuck

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather lately – my mom’s dad. I won’t go into all the reasons why he’s on my mind, but I think I may be grieving his death. Seems a little strange, since he died over 40 years ago, when I was 12. Even so, I find myself thinking about him, and wishing he was still in my life.

There have been milestones when I really missed him. Like when I presented at the High School State Optimist Club Speech Competition – I took second place. And when I got married – I think he really would have loved my husband. And when my daughter, and later my son, were born – I wish he could have met them.

He was a big man, with a booming voice and even bigger laugh. He adored my grandmother – we called her DeeDee. One time, when I got to visit my grandparents for the week, I watched him twirl her around the floor at their Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance class. They looked so magical and light on their feet; he held her regally.

He was gentle – I remember him petting his adorable new German Shepherd puppy, Noble; later, I recall the firmness with which he trained that dog – firm yet kind. And when I cried all the way home from a visit to their house, he talked to me on the phone and calmed my tears.

He was wise. Every opportunity was a teachable moment, from raking leaves at the lake to eating in the cafeteria. One lunchtime, he let me choose where to sit, and I picked the front of the restaurant instead of the back tables where we usually ate. So mealtime became a lesson in dining room table etiquette – we needed to be on our best behavior if we were going to sit where people could watch us! On another occasion, I remember leaning on a cabinet display when I went with him to the store, and he pulled me back a bit to show me the fingerprint mess I had made on the glass. I think if he’d had Windex with him, I’d have been cleaning off the smudges!

He was a preacher before I knew him. (By the time I recall him working, he had left the pulpit and was a big-wig at a major employer in his hometown.) He loved the Lord, as did my grandmother. Together, they left a beautiful legacy of faith in Christ through their daughters and us grandchildren and the generations following.

He loved to read, and his floor-to-ceiling bookshelf was packed with all kinds of literature. I remember when he took an interest in bonsai trees; I got one from my son for my birthday last year, and I think of Papa pruning his tree every time I water mine. I seem to think his was greener and bigger than mine is.

For that matter, I recall him as “larger than life.” It may be that it’s just from the perspective of a young grandchild, but I remember him as big and generous and kind and loving and firm and gentle, all at the same time.

I know I’ll see him again someday, in heaven. Until then, I’ll remember these moments and many other special times. I’ll try to be the grown woman he would have been proud of. And I’ll sit anywhere in the restaurant, because he taught me which fork to use first!

What’s for Dinner?

What are we having for dinner? Oh, how I hate this question! Ever since I’ve been a grown-up, where I’ve had to decide for myself – or my family – I’ve dreaded the evening mealtime.

I’m not a good cook. I can follow a recipe, no problem, but I don’t love being in the kitchen. My sister got all of that talent (and she’s really good at it)!

I don’t remember how we figured out dinner, those five years before we had children. I do recall making menus when the kids were little, and basing my grocery shopping off of the dinner menus for the week. Usually, I’d plan the main dish – the protein – and “wing it” for the vegetable – canned green beans or frozen corn or salad from a bag. It used to drive my husband crazy! He’d ask, “What’s for dinner!” and I’d tell him, say, hamburgers. And he’d want to know what else, which I never had planned! We’d both feel frustrated at figuring out our dinner routine.

We tried multiple approaches: daily menus in detail, general weekly shopping basics, a cartful of veggies with a bag of frozen chicken breasts. Nothing ever really worked, and dinner always felt a little hodge-podged.

And if my hubby was traveling, all options were open. Popcorn, with sides of grapes and sugar-snap peas? Sure, we can have that for dinner! Or cereal. Or mac-n-cheese. Maybe carrots to round out the veggies, or at least to look like I tried!

The best we’ve done, I think, is since it’s back to the two of us. The kids are grown and gone – they have to figure out their own meals! And now my husband and I eat frozen pizza or carry-out sushi or take-out Chinese (tonight). In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been to the local pub for delicious “‘merican burgers,” and we finish eating before the live (loud) band starts playing! Or we grocery shop together, often with a few recipes we find, the ingredients on the grocery list. Then my husband will cook, and I assist and do clean-up. It works!

Recently, we started receiving Hello Fresh. We signed up for the vegetarian menu, as a way to force vegetables on us. And it’s a cinch! I clean the veggies, he chops and cooks, we eat delicious food, and I clean up the dishes. There are almost never any left-overs; they have the recipe designed for perfect serving sizes. That’s only a bummer when it’s a “keeper” recipe – one of the most delicious ones. But they send the full recipe, not just the needed ingredients, so we can duplicate the meal in the future.

I’m still not great at eating vegetables. I’ll grab fruit regularly; veggies are tough for me. But this meal delivery system has helped.

And while we’re still trying to figure out how to plan meals for two, I’m getting better at reaching for veggies in the produce section.

What’s for dinner? Sweet potatoes and broiled broccoli florets!