First Spark for 2018

Over the holidays, I missed a couple Sparks and Awww Mondays with Annie and Sandee, but hope to get back into  a routine now. That said, I’m already a day late to both link-up parties for this week! 😀

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a grand start. Let’s all try to do our part to spark some positivity in our world.


It’s not what we have in life,
but who we have in our lives
that matters.
~J.M. Laurence

Linking up with the bog hops for Sparks at McGuffy’s Reader, and Awww Mondays at Comedy Plus.
  

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Be a Light in Dark Places

May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.
~J.R.R. Tolken, The Fellowship of the Ring

Our church created a Magic Tree from an 85-foot-high sycamore tree in our courtyard. It’s an awwwwsome sight to see in person, and I thought it fit perfectly as one of Anne’s Sparks as well as fitting well with Sandee’s Awwww Monday.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

There are 38 miles of lights on this tree, with 200,000 bulbs…representing each person in our county. The symbolism is each light reminds us of a person in our community that is precious in God’s sight.

As with each bulb on this tree, may we all strive to be points of light in the dark places of this world….especially when it looks like all the other lights are out. Our love can shine in the darkness and light the way.

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy in the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dark, negative storm. There is an obvious universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can all be part of this affirmative change.

Also playing along with other awwww-inspiring photos with Sandee’s Awww Mondays at Comedy Plus.

 

I Believe In…..

Seeing is believing….but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.
~The Conductor on the Polar Express

It’s easy to believe in things I can see firsthand with my eyes. It’s harder to believe in things I cannot physically see. But does that mean they are any less real?

I can’t “see” gravity. What I can see is gravity’s effect.
I can’t “see” air. But, I know I cannot live without it.
I can’t “see” thoughts…even though I could look at the physical place where they originate.

I don’t believe any of us would dispute the “reality” of any of the above intangibles. Just because we cannot physically see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I can’t “see” love. What I can see is the results of love and how it can affect others. And those results often come in the form of feelings and emotions….more intangibles that cannot be actually seen. Generosity, compassion, forgiveness, grace, mercy, hope….all things that cannot be physically seen but stem from the reality of Love.

We’re so quick to say, “seeing is believing,” but the most real things of this life can only be seen when we open the eyes of our hearts…and feel those wonderful intangibles life has to offer.

This is my contribution to Annie’s blog hop called Sparks.
“I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Also adding a bit of “awwwww” for Awww Monday over at Comedy Plus 

Dear Granddaughter…..

In September, we celebrated Peanut’s 9th birthday. NINE! It’s hard to comprehend it was nine years ago I was promoted to being a Nana. A lot has been packed into those nine years…sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago she was placed in my arms, but at other times, nine years seems to have flown by at warp speed.

I put together Peanut’s school photos from Pre-K to her current 3rd grade shot. While they are not drastically different, the person behind the face has transformed in hundreds of ways in just nine short years.

Since time is a fleeting illusion, I want to take a few moments and pass on some Nana wisdom to my first grandbabykin.

Dear Peanut,

You have always been and always will be loved. I loved you before you were even put in my arms as a swaddled baby burrito. That is not to say you don’t do unloveable things….and I may not like you at times….but I always love you and will always be here for you. You can bet on that and be sure to win every time.

To steal a line from the 2016 Cinderella remake, Be kind and have courage. Both are difficult to do. Kindness may be becoming a lost art in our “me first” culture. It takes a lot of work to be kind to people, especially when you don’t like them, are mad at them, or see them as different from you. Extending kindness to family members is sometimes especially hard because there are times we make more of an effort to be nice to people outside our family and save the worst for those closest to us…who love us always!

Have courage. It’s scary to try new things. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones in the way we think and act. I know this from experience. it was scary moving to a new house and school when I was in 3rd grade. It was scary to move to a new town after Papa and I got married….a town where I didn’t know anyone. It was scary when Papa and I moved to Columbia…a town where I didn’t know anyone either. It was really scary when Papa was told he had cancer. It’s also scary to do the right thing when you think others will look at you differently or not like you anymore. This is especially hard when your friends are doing things you know aren’t right, but you want them to like you so you’re tempted to do those things anyway. Don’t. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Keep your faith strong. So many people walk away from their beliefs when they get older, thinking faith is something only for children. Our culture doesn’t encourage strong faith in God. It does encourage strong faith in doing whatever we think will make us happy…or is convenient…or easy. Being an authentic Christian is hard work. It requires we believe and do the right things even when we don’t understand or see the reason. Many times you will be tempted to not make your faith a priority in your life. But, dearest Peanut, your faith will sustain you in those scary moments when the storms of life roll in and tear your life to pieces.

Trust. Trust those of us who love you that the things we do are to help grow you into someone others will respect; someone YOU can respect. Growing up is hard, and there are many times when you’ll think you know what’s best….but you won’t. I ask you trust even when you don’t agree; even when you don’t understand. It’s related to believing and trusting God has a plan for your life….a good plan….even though many times you’ll feel like you don’t agree or don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.

Love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but love yourself as a person of worth. It’s easy to feel like we can never measure up to our culture’s ideas and expectations. I want you to always love who you are, flaws and all. That is NOT to say you shouldn’t try to change areas of your life that need improvement. And, this is not reason to excuse bad attitudes or behavior. You are a child of the King….who loves you unconditionally. If you can love your imperfect self, you can love others despite their imperfections too.

Peanut, you are strong-willed and incredibly talented in many areas. I encourage you to use that strong will and those talents in positive, constructive ways…and never be ashamed of the things you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

In the years to come, you will face many challenges and ride the roller coaster of emotions. I hope by keeping these things in mind, life will be a bit smoother….for everyone involved!

Love always,
Nana

 

A summer palette of color

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year—
it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
~Author Unknown

I haven’t played with the color palette template for a while. I find it interesting to take a photo that really appeals to me, separate out the colors and discover the combinations that makes the photo different…but you just can’t put your finder on why. This was one of those photos. Once I saw the warmth of the colors, I immediately knew it was a summer palette.

These posies were compliments of The Golfer during her surprise visit to see her dad. Arriving at 4:45am July 2nd, she let herself into the house and almost gave him a heart attack when we got up at 6am! She needed to see her dad….and he needed to see her. After all, Florida is a long ways away when major stress hits a family in middle Missouri. And, phone calls really don’t cut it.

She spent the week focusing on her dad, passing on other social invitations to spend hours chatting on the patio and watching TV in the evenings. They took a morning and went to the driving range so “her coach” could offer some pointers on her (LPGA-certified) golf swing. They floated in the pool, soaking up some Vitamin D. She spent Independence Day with us and her sister, The Recruiter. The only things missing were her god-daughters, who were still in Alabama with their dad. But she did get to meet Cabo….her fur baby little brother!

The summer palette…with the warmth of sunny yellows combined with the greens of life. No wonder I like this photo.

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
~Barbara Bush

 

Conflicted

Well, they are on their way to stay with their dad for a month. The Recruiter, Peanut and Twix left this afternoon to make the trek to Nashville for the hand off for the second leg of their trip to Alabama.

And I’m oddly conflicted.

On one hand, with all that’s happened since February, Entrepreneur and I need a break from the endless energy and incessant “whys” of a three year old. And, having both of them since mid-May when the after-school sitter left college for summer break has been both a joy and a challenge. AND, add the fur baby that arrived the beginning of June and…..well…are you tired yet? We are. We really do need this time to regroup and Entrepreneur needs this time to rest due to chemo fatigue. So, we’re down two children….but training a fur baby.

But, on the other hand, each time they leave, the relief is replaced with worry and concern. Call it parental paranoia or whatever. I’m counting the days until their return. When they hit the door again in mid-July, there won’t be much summer left before those back-to-school and after-school activities begin again. In the meantime, my house will be void of munchkin-size clothing lying around, half-drank beverages in the frig, books, crayons, pencils and toys on every surface in every room. Gone will be the bath toys in my soaker tub, and luvies within arms reach of every bed.

I feel guilty about looking forward to the break…knowing the time we have with them is a gift not afforded to every grandparent. Am I ungrateful for that gift if I’m relieved to be relieved of those child care responsibilities? What if something happens to them while they are gone? I would be devastated knowing I was looking forward to time in the empty nest…even if it was only temporarily.

Such is the life of long-distance visitation.

So we try to pack as much as we can into the few weeks of summer before they have to leave. We did picnics and playgrounds; pool time and popsicles; Peanut and I visited a museum and took in a movie; went to our church’s version of VBS (on steroids); and scheduled horseback riding lessons. Plus, we made sure there were times for just hanging out with nothing organized so the mind could wander uninterrupted.

Please enjoy a few early summer childhood captures of our grandbabykins.


A nosefull of posies.


Yes, she is that high. Zoom lens required.


Picnic pupper and his pal.


The University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archeology; artifacts and art ranging from circa 1550 BCE to the 20th century.


Pool time with Papa.


Sittin’ pretty in the saddle.


He loves me……..


An uninterrupted afternoon.


Mermaids do exist!


She was a little uncontrollable at the sprayground!


The epitome of summer relaxation.


Litter mates.

I think I got a little carried away with my pics. But, I’m sure you’ll forgive me. 🙂 I hope everyone’s summer is off to a wonderful start.

xoxo

Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the Glory of Missouri. This is a proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!