Mommas…

My momma always told me the best sermon is a great example, thus she and daddy (for better, or worse sometimes) taught us daily by their example.  My sister and I know we “chose our parents well” because in the midst of everyday life, there were the daily lessons by example.

As I watch moms today in the grocery store or at the park, it occurs to me how moms must be as wise as Solomon, as smart as Socrates, as unconditionally loving as Mother Teresa, and as disciplined as Coach John Wooden.  My mom demonstrated daily who she was and lived by the legacy she created with sass, grit, humor, and a dash of humbleness.  She shaped our character, expected integrity, and encouraged us to dream big for the future.  We learned to control our attitude and effort because those are really the only two things in our constant control.  And just like her classroom, mom set the bar extremely high but provided a cushion when we stumbled along the way.  Our mom was our first and most important teacher, advocate, and disciplinarian; she set the rules and we followed them (mostly).

While mom’s physical voice is now silent, the echos of her lessons ring strong inside my soul.  I’m grateful and thankful for the example of my mom.  At times I was so busy growing up and then raising two little women of my own, I often forgot she was growing older too, but mom was always smart enough to hold on, and then brave enough to let go on her journey…  I’m abundantly grateful and thankful for the example of my mom (and dad) who raised me well so I could one day be a mom to the two grown miracles who shower my world in JOY!  Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms!

Signs and Promises of Spring…

As spring brings new hope and promise from a long winter and the beautiful dogwood blooms slowly begin to open their petals in my backyard woods, I am reminded today of the powerful story my Granny B shared each Easter:

dogwood3

There is a legend, that at the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this.  In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering, he said to it: “Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross…two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember…”

While digging through some of Granny B’s writings recently, I came across a poem she penned in 1934:

  • In Jesus’ time a dogwood grew to a stately size and a lovely hue; 
  • Strong and firm, its branches interwoven and for the cross of Christ, its timber was chosen. 
  • Seeing the distress at this use of wood, Jesus made His promise still holding good: 
  • “Never again shall the dogwood grow large enough to be used just so…
  • Slim and twisted it shall be with blossoms like the cross for all to see;
  • As blood stains the petals marked in brown and the blossom’s center with the thorny crown. 
  • All who see it will remember Me, crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree. 
  • Cherished and protected this tree shall be; a reminder to all of My agony.”

When Granny moved from her beloved Tennessee to Texas in 1955, she brought a beautiful dogwood tree for replanting in her new yard.  On our recent move from Texas to North Carolina, I brought a sprig of the original tree (still on Aster Street in Dallas) as a poignant reminder of the legend, and of His loving grace in our lives… Happy Spring, y’all!

2018 Stop/Start Mindset…

A friend and I wander along a frigid pathway into the woods for a stroll among the trees, pondering life, reflecting on a new year, and waiting for our annual ONE WORD to find each of us.  Ideas ebb and flow from the past year and project themselves forward to new goals.  At this stage of life, we discuss how it takes great courage, strong conviction, and a consistent growth mindset to move forward some days while other days simply unfold in miraculous ways.  It also takes the bold ability to STOP doing some things no longer fruitful or in our best interest only to START doing other things in the best way possible.  Here’s just a small sample:

1. STOP telling everyone everything on social media. START leaving some things to chance and imagination.

2. STOP comparing yourself to others and worrying about what others think. START marching to your own drummer and the positive path you create, no matter the path may lead.

3. STOP focusing on self and more on others. START helping others and be nice to everyone because kindness matters.

4. STOP making everything a competition in life. START competing only with your best self.  Make your choices, be accountable, accept responsibility, and deal with the consequences (good and bad) of your choices.

5. STOP being like others. START owning who you are, where you are, and tell YOUR story in a caring manner. There is only one “YOUnique” you…

6. STOP fearing failure; no one has it all figured out because nothing in life is perfect, especially on the first time. Failures bring powerful clarity and change in the most positive way! START embracing failure to find personal success (it’s also a recovery step from perfectionism…and one I struggle to release daily).

Our list goes on, but you get the general idea. So, what’s on your STOP and START list this new year? What is something you will commit to STOP and START each day throughout the year?

May 2018 be filled with magic and dreams and good madness in your life.  May you read great books and kiss someone who thinks you’re the wonderful.  May you create art–write, draw, build, sing, play, and live as only you can!  And I sincerely hope somewhere in the next year, you amaze, bless, and surprise yourself (and others) in the most extraordinary ways! Happy New Year!

Treasured traditions…

Most likely you have a favorite holiday tradition or two…something you treasure each year as the season comes ’round again.  Whether it’s placing a special ornament on the tree, watching a favorite holiday movie together, visiting a certain jolly fellow (in our family, the Northpark Santa IS the real Santa), or doing a familiar holiday activity together, you have a tradition you never want to miss.

My sister and I would always write long, detailed letters to Santa each year; it was our tradition together in fact.  My parents would then take us downtown to Titches (yes, I’m that old), to visit with St. Nick to share our letters.  I would never tell my parents what I wrote even though they would do any number of things to make me “spill it” (Momma always said, “You were stubborn that way…”  Go figure?!).  It took me a while to pin down exactly why they wanted to know this personal information.  Writing our letters was a tradition we shared together.  Today, we still write our shopping lists (using email or text) because great minds think alike and we’ve also been known to buy the same present for a family member.  Talking and planning (along with writing) with my sister are traditions during the holidays and everyday I never want to miss!

So this leads me to a question for you to ponder:  What is your favorite family holiday tradition?  In whatever way you and yours choose to define the holiday season and make seasonal memories, here’s hoping you take time to reflect together on special traditions.  If you don’t have a favorite tradition, here’s hoping you start one as you #SpreadJOY this year!

JOY…a simple three-letter word packing a whopping thirteen Scrabble points!

When was the last time your heart was lifted by a wave of pure JOY…when you felt so excited by an unexpected miracle you couldn’t stop yourself from smiling?  When was the last time in a busy day you found a way to spread JOY to someone else?

It’s no secret one of my all-time my favorite words is JOY.  My family and friends know this only too well.  Momma always told me I came into this world “singing robustly with great JOY” and have actively pursued JOY in simple, everyday ways as a constant quest.

This time of year, we see the word JOY all over the place.  You can find it on cute ornaments, in greeting cards, on wrapping paper, and especially on the smiling young faces of those whose eyes sparkle and marvel at the wonder of the season.

Days may be long, but years a far too short.  So why do we reserve JOY only for special occasions, holidays, or stolen moments?  If we want JOY to be the story of our years, JOY must really be the story of our daily lives.  JOY must be the way we choose and the habits we form as we travel on this journey of life.

JOY surrounds us, but we must actually teach ourselves and others the way to find it and how to share it with others, thus leading me to a couple of challenging seasonal questions for today:  How will you share JOY with those you hold dear during this JOYous season?  How will you convey JOY to others who look to you for guidance in finding it within themselves?

It is my sincere hope you give yourself and others the gift of JOY.  Catch, cultivate, and crave it!  If you make room daily for JOY, you may just find JOY is a strong magnet for more.  Invite just a little into your life and see how quickly a little JOY grows.  May great hope, peace, and love surround you and those you hold dear as you #SpreadJOY!

A Happy Hello to 3009…

Life is funny.  Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.  Life is also a real adventure at any age, thus St. Michael and I find ourselves in the midst of just such an adventure, even at our age.

Welcome to our home at 3009; new state and new opportunities to explore.  We discovered years ago when we lived with the intention to be our personal best, life became better than expected.  When we challenged ourselves to pay attention to our intentions, new and profound opportunities openly presented themselves.  How ironic it is we moved in autumn (my favorite time of year) to a place where extraordinary foliage colorfully displays how great it is to let things go!

In truth, there’s no such thing as an ending…just the place where we leave parts of the prior story to create new chapters.  It’s our story, yet when we choose to let go of the control, the fun and unexpected emerge.  As momma would say, “there’s no present like time…,” so we gratefully say hello to 3009!

A fond farewell to 1440…

HOME is where our story begins.  After all, a house is made with walls and beams; a HOME is made from love and dreams.  Such is the HOME at 1440…

We bought the 2.2 acre piece of rugged land in June of 1997 after St. M took a long training run from my parent’s home one sunny afternoon.  As the dove flies, it was less than a mile from their home in our little growing county  community in Texas and the possibilities were endless.  We paid cash the next week for the land and embarked on creating house plans for our builder to construct in pursuit of living the American dream of true home ownership!

Ground-breaking and construction commenced with us taking possession nine months later, very similar to childbirth for home owners really.  We raised two extraordinary little women through their most formative years (along with a few others too).  From family and friends gathering for feasts and fellowship to halving our sorrows and doubling our JOYs, 1440 has been along for the journey.

As my Granny B always noted, “eras have a way of ending all over the place, Bethy!”  So after 20 years, we are passing this beautiful HOME filled with family lore, memories, dreams, serenity, hope, peace, JOY, and great love to the next homeowners.  A growing multi-generational family takes possession today, starting the next chapter within the walls and beams of their “new” house to create their HOME of love and dreams.  Oh 1440…with a grateful and heavy heart, we say a fond farewell as you embrace your new family to provide them the faithful safe haven called HOME.  As A.A. Milne wrote through the observations of our favorite Pooh Bear, “How lucky we are to have had something the makes saying farewell so hard…”