Monday, May 30, 2011

She's a MTWI Champion

Hey! My sister, Donna, is a champion in lots of areas and here is one you may not know about!

A pencil or more in every glass!

And here is the proof!

She did it! Did you get it?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yesterday's Treasures

I remind myself that I have not looked at these things one time since my marriage to Bob 15 years ago.

But I did so love being a Mom!

As did my Mother . . .

As did Dale's Mom

This is tough stuff . . . growing old . . this cleaning out mandate.

Yesterdays Treasures are Tuesdays Trash

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Together Day

What do you do with an anniversary of a death? A wife lost her husband, kids lost their daddy, Grandpa lost his son, and siblings lost their brother.

We packed eight of us into a seven passenger car and went to watch a ballgame. I had such a happy heart seeing Grandpa with the kids.

It was a relaxing, beautiful, splendid day.

The kids and adults enjoyed each other and cared for each other.

There was a spirit of camaraderie and joy and peace.

We ate lots of ballpark food.

There were home runs and a few fireworks and our White Sox won!

I believe that Andy would be pleased with our together day.

One of my hubby’s favorite songs came to mind today.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Monumental Task

In anticipation of moving to a smaller home, I have been trying to give away and throw away and recycle (Yes, of course, Susan) and in any case reduce the amount of things that we have acquired.

Stored in our basement was a large box of cards that I have had for twenty-three years. Most people would say if you have not looked at it in all of those years, don’t even open it. Just get rid of it. But I couldn’t. For twenty-three years, from time to time, I have thought of that box and intended to go through the cards one more time before I toss them.

Twenty three years ago on May 4th, my first husband died at age thirty-nine. Our sons were ten and twelve years old at the time. Because my husband was young, and because it was a very public death—Dale was a social worker and murdered while at work by a disgruntled employee and also because he was a good man and very respected and left two sons, we received many cards. I do not know how many but I do know that on one day we received over 100 cards. I have a laundry basket full of cards.

At the time, I read the cards but some days I read them quickly. I always intended to go back when things were not so busy and read the cards carefully and give them the attention that they deserved. And now it has been twenty-three years.

I told my second hubby, Bob, that I would not move the box but I was going to take the time to read the cards. I am in process. It is a much longer process than I expected. Many random thoughts come to mind as I read.

  • Inexpressible gratitude overwhelms me. My heart is full of appreciation and love and gratefulness—to God—to Dale—to family and friends and to people that I did/do not know.

  • Prayer makes a difference. Many people prayed for our family. James 5:16 says, The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. My sons both love God and serve Him as do their wives and children. Thanks to all of those people—friends, family, acquaintances and strangers that prayed for us. To God be the glory!

  • I have regrets. I am deeply sorry for not finishing my thank you cards. I just got so far behind and discouraged that I never got them finished. And people were so very good to us. I deeply regret my neglect!

  • These cards were chosen with care. I started reading the cards with a resolve to read every word—to ponder the cards and appreciate the effort it takes to choose a card. I know that the cards were chosen with care. Some of the cards brought tears to my eyes. Various people underlined a word or words in the cards emphasizing hope or concern or comfort.

  • Names from the past keep surfacing. There were so many people that I had not thought about for years. Some of the people that sent cards have died. I received many cards from dear friends of our parents and aunts and uncles and the generation just older than me at our church. Even a few much younger than I, have died. I was amazed as I went through the cards at the number of people that are in heaven with Jesus and perhaps greeting, working with, and praising God with Dale. It was wonderful to think on them and their influence in my life, in Dale’s life and ultimately in our sons’ lives. The cards had a big ripple effect of memories.

  • Simple acts of kindness make big impressions. A card was signed “from Gregory, your custodian.” Many people mentioned that Dale always smiled at them. One was from the couple that sat behind us in Sunday night church for eight years and watched us as a family sitting together—from someone that enjoyed watching Dale garden and fix his car while her son, a neighbor boy, looked on. Another who said that only one time had she ever given a personal prayer request aloud in church and Dale was the one that prayed for her request.

  • When prompted to act, do it. There were so many letters from friends—from when Dale was a little boy and a high school friend and a friend from graduate school. There were letters from children and two younger cousins of Dale’s still in their twenties wrote notes and sent money. And there were multitudes of letters from co-workers some that knew Dale well and some that only worked with him on one case. There were personal letters from government officials—our state representatives, people impressed with Dale’s integrity and work ethic. There were letters from people that heard the story on the radio. There was a letter from a boy that wished he could have been on Dale’s baseball team because he was on Dale’s team last year and he was a nice coach. My second grade Sunday School students wrote notes and drew pictures. Some made me smile at their innocent tender expressions. One little boy drew a picture of man laying in a coffin and just simply said, “Dear Mrs. Rowell. I’m sorry. Love, Brent” Friends of friends sent cards and wrote notes. How often I have had good intentions and not followed through! Many wrote that it was hard to write a note but they did it anyhow! Some even sent more than one card.

  • My mother-in-law and I share a love for Dale. I needed to talk to someone during this project and called the best of all people—Mom Rowell, Dale’s mom. Oh my, she is sweet and how wonderful to still have her. I asked if she would like me to keep the cards for her to read but wisely she declined. She told me that she has stacks of cards—birthday cards, anniversary cards, sympathy cards, that she has kept and that she needs to read through and then discard. At age 95, she needs to get started. She says that every year after age 70 is a bonus year because the Bible says that generally people live to age 70 and some to age 80. (Psalm 90:10) She says, “I’ve had lots of bonus years.”

  • There is still sadness. I miss Dale. He was good. I loved him. He loved me. I wonder how life would be different had he lived. I wish that I could marvel over our kids and grandkids with him. We used to stand at the boys bedroom door on our way to bed and marvel at how cute and wonderful were the sons that came from our genes! God chose the best genes from both of us! And now I marvel in the same way over our grandkids. I am reminded of the blessing of being Dale’s wife. I am still amazed that he chose me. What a joy to be married to a godly man. Over and over, people commented about his easy, ready, friendly smile. His countenance reflected Jesus.

  • Renew a right spirit in me. I want to do a better job of “Paying it Forward.” I want to smile more and not be so preoccupied that I forget to be friendly. I want to serve more and be kinder. I want to send thank you notes and sympathy cards. I want to serve others. I want to be a better neighbor and wife. I want to live better and be more responsive and obedient to the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit in my life. I want to reflect Jesus.

I’ll put away a few letters for my grandchildren. Maybe someday when they are older, they will want to know what Dale was like. There is a story in Joshua about the children of Israel crossing the Jordan and God instructing them to build a memorial, one stone for each tribe, serving as a reminder for future generations of what God had done for their ancestors. I will keep twelve cards. These will be “Stones of Remembrance.” I made a stack of cards that touched me with the stories of Dale. Right now, 108 cards have made the first cut.

To Dale, I would quote Philippians 1:3, I thank my God every time I remember you.

By the way, thank you to Rebecca and Donna—my two most faithful blog readers. You have been supportive for all of these years! Thank you! I found cards from both of you . . . do you want to read what you wrote?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother-in-Law

She is Sweet,
and Ingenious.
She is a make-do, get it done, work hard,
don't complain, praise others,
be grateful, give God the glory person. . .

AND she gave me permission, a long time ago,
to call her Mom.

I love you!
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Long live the queen!

Yay! Packages of another sort arrived.

The girls are here!

Hubby wanted to make sure that I shared the experience so I did install three of the packages. Unfortunately, I had another event scheduled in the afternoon and had to leave but grandson David took over and installed two packages by himself as well.

We will check this weekend and make sure that the queens survived. One took off flying as Bob was releasing her but we are hoping she returned to her attendants. It is fascinating to watch the workers care for and feed the queen right through screen covering the queen cage before she is released in the hive. I think it is so interesting that she knows just what to do to take over the leadership of the hive. She was bred apart from the others and is another type of bee. The packages are Italian bees but soon all of the hives will be Carniolans because all of our queens are California Carniolans and will lay Carniolan eggs.

The queen cage was introduced to the other bees four days earlier so the other bees have had an opportunity to get used to and accept her. Each queen has a unique smell and once she is recognized and accepted the other bees are all willing to give their lives to save her.

If our queens do well, the hives will do well.

It is kind of like . . . if mama's happy, everybody's happy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Care Package

“Brown paper packages tied up with string, those are a few of my favorite things.”

And I received one this week.

So pretty! What fun! Unearned. Undeserved.

It was from Brenda.

I love it that she shares my name.

I like that we have birthdays in April.

She has a supportive sister and I have two of those as well.

She loves God, loves beauty, loves people! She gets great pleasure from writing, giving gifts, and reading. I do, too!

It is only fitting that I thank her publicly in a forum that we both enjoy—blogging.

Drum roll . . . here it is. A bag created by her sister, Kathy.

It is sewn with care and precision and it is even reversible.

I interrupted my hubby and asked him to take a picture as I left for my volunteer job at Puente del Pueblo. (I usually carry it with the pretty patchwork but wanted to show the reverse . . .)

Brenda says it has a Spanish feel to it.

I agree!

Con muchas gracias!