Sunday, July 27, 2014

Family Reunion Week thanks...


This is our third year of gathering in the rented beach house that is nestled in the dunes there on the point of land with the bay on one side and the sea on the other.  It's comforting to return to the same place these years since my siblings and I, (and our children and grandchildren),  no longer have Mama's house as our place to gather.  The familiarity feels like a warm embrace.  

The sky was blue and clear each day we were there.  That's something we don't take for granted on the Oregon coast where gray skies, biting wind, and drizzle can occur any time of the year.  This year the children played outside on the dunes in summer shorts, only putting on a light sweatshirt or jacket in the evening when we would gather round the bonfire and made s'mores.

I'm not one to go around barefoot, but this place seems to call for it.  Soft sand surrounds the house. The dunes that form a natural barricade from the bay on one side and the ocean on the other are topped with tufts of sea grass.  Keeping sand out of the house is an impossibility,  much less keeping it out of shoes, so a pile of shoes lays on the floor by the back door,  most of us shedding our shoes before climbing the dunes and following the path through the sea grass  to walk by the sea.

The children play on the dunes from morning to night with only occasional adult interference. They can be seen through the large living room windows.  They've been warned not to go over the dunes without an adult.  "If you can't see the house, you've gone too far over the dune." we tell them.  Baths are a must at the end of the night as they come in covered with sand from head to toe.  Sand settles on the bottom of every tub in the house.

My siblings and I comment on the passing of time.  Someone mentions how it seems like yesterday when my oldest granddaughter, eleven years of age, was just a baby.  I comment that my sister's oldest granddaughter was out playing in the dunes last  year, but now she seems to have matured past the point of wanting to play with the younger ones.  My oldest sister mentions that her husband will turn seventy next spring.   We all shake our head in disbelief.  Me, I wonder how I can possibly be turning fifty seven in a few days.  And the reunion itself, we looked forward to it for so long, and how can it possibly be time to say goodbye already?

On the drive home, I notice that the fields of farmland that were green the last time we drove to the sea,  have been cut and the golden hay lies on the ground ready to be gathered up.  Harvest time will soon be here.  The yearly cycle seems to repeat more quickly with every year that I age.  I feel the desire to stop and mourn a bit as I see time passing and us all aging.  Even the youngest of us, my youngest grandson, is already nearing three months old.  I want to stop time, yet I also wonder what his personality will be like at age two.  You can't stop time, I remind myself, so savor the time that is right now.

I thank the Lord for the blessings of each day, writing down the ones I remember.  I savor the goodness that this week contained, appreciating the truth that every good gift comes from God.  I comfort myself when time passes all too quickly, by reminding myself that this life isn't all there is.  Most of my family members have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior so His promise of eternal life means that we will have eternity to be with each other.  I remember Mama's last prayer when she asked aloud that not one of her descendants would be lost, but that all would come to know Christ, come to love Him.  I echo her prayer in the depths of my heart.  Amen, Lord Jesus, so be it.  

I come home and the busyness of unpacking, washing our sandy clothes, and doing some chores that were put off in our preparations to leave, occupy my mind for a while.  It's when I sit down to go over this week's list in my gratitude journal that it all comes flooding back.  What an amazing God! He took our broken family, and has made something beautiful.  Are we perfect?  Farther from it than you might imagine. But we are blessed beyond measure, we are rich in God's blessings, and we are a family that loves one another.  A "thank you,  God" is the least I can give in response.

****************
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little black journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone) 

#4928-#4963

7-21-14-
-the lawnmower suddenly deciding to start when we had given up hope 
and thought we were going to have to finally replace the old thing
-God's gracious provision
-reading 1 Peter on a "Jesus date"
-cooler weather making for a more enjoyable run
-taking the two youngest granddaughters on a walk to play on the school playground 
after not seeing them for over a week while they were on vacation


-the hubs going grocery shopping with me
-sharing a Costco frozen yogurt

7-22-14-
-waking up to the sound of a  summer rain after a long dry spell
-the hubs working from home today
-running errands with him-and him treating me to Chipotle, one of my favs
-stopping our second born's house to borrow something and getting to love on the grands for a few minutes
-getting everything done on today's to-do list

7-23-14-
-the smell of the rain
-baking Mama's oatmeal cake recipe and oatmeal cookie recipe to take to the family reunion

7-24-14-
-five year old granddaughter getting to ride with us to the family reunion


-stopping at Mo's for lunch and meeting up with our second born's family there as well as running into our nephew and his family
-everyone arriving safely

7-25-14-
-beautiful weather






-my grandkids and great nieces and nephews playing together all day in the sand and the sea










-playing Catch Phrase and belly laughs
-campfire time 



7-26-14-
-our oldest brother facetiming us since he's in India and couldn't be here for the reunion
-going crabbing together-what fun!




-my sisters and I finally going through Mama's jewelry 3+ years after her death, 
(and the blessing that there was no greediness or bickering or hard feelings some go through)
-flying the kite




-eating the crab-YUM!


-the hubs and my son-in-law having a safe drive back home in order to preach on Sunday
-youngest daughter's boyfriend joining us at the reunion to meet the whole family
-this whole wonderful, beautiful day

7-27-14-
-many hands make light work-getting the rental house ready for us to leave
-hugs good-bye
-the hubs text that church was really good
-a hubs that encouraged me to stay for the whole reunion even though he couldn't
-the blessing that all of my kids and grandkids got to attend the reunion
-our safe travels home
-home

gratefully yours,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Psalm 92:1-2...


We are at my family reunion on the Oregon Coast.
The weather has been perfect, the time together filled with fun, and the food fabulous!
I've not been online but I couldn't resist sharing tonight's sunset here,
along with an appropriate scripture.
I truly am thankful for the lovingkindness and faithfulness of God in our lives.
My family is a prime example.
When I look at myself and my siblings, our children and grandchildren,
I am overwhelmed at how good, how gracious, how merciful, and how faithful God has been to all of us.

still following,






Scripture and Snapshot


SUNDAY STILLNESS
Inspire-Me-Monday

Also happily linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson.






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Friday Favs...DoubleTree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have no idea if they still do it, but back in the day when you checked into a DoubleTree Hotel
 they would give you a warm chocolate chip cookie.
Not just any chocolate chip cookie, but one of the most addictively delicious chocolate chip cookies ever!

Years ago, after a trip where we stayed at a DoubleTree and ended up buying a half dozen extra cookies,
 I searched online for their recipe and this is what I found.
It sat in my recipe file for all of these years and I never did make them.


This week is a family reunion for my siblings and our children and grandkids so
I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies to bring along.
but in my opinion they are best served warm and fresh.
So I decided to finally try the DoubleTree Recipe.


They did not disappoint!
This is a large, hearty chocolate chip cookie, full of texture from the ground oats, 
and a generous amount of chocolate chips and walnuts.


The recipe says to chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight,
 but I just popped it into the freezer for a half hour or so to speed the process up.
I give this copycat recipe a two thumbs up!



Well, it's almost Friday, friends!
Have a HAPPY, HAPPY Friday
and
a BLESSED weekend!

              1aaadoveladygfairy006    

TidyMomShabby Art Boutique



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Siblings...


My memories of all nine of us, Daddy and Mama and us seven kids,  living together under the roof of the tall, old house on Dartmouth street are few.  Meals crowded around the old wooden table in the dining room eating Mama's pinto beans with ham hock and golden cornbread dripping with yellow margarine, Saturday night baths where we took turns in a tub filled with bath water from the previous sibling, singing together in harmony at church, these are some of the images that float to the surface of the murky memories of my early childhood.

Mama and Daddy had the first five kids close together, one after the other lickety split.  Five years later they had me, and two years after that they had their youngest child, my little brother.  We were "the babies", and as such probably got more attention and doting on from mama and daddy and the older siblings.  

 The year I was six,  my oldest sister, who was already married, had a beautiful blonde baby girl and I became an aunt.   My memories of her are less of her living with us on Dartmouth street and more of her visits home with her babies, two girls and one boy.  I loved that.

As I got into elementary school, I realized that most of my friends came from a family with two or three siblings.  In those moments, my own family seemed freakishly large.  But on the weekends, when we would visit my dad's only brother and his wife and their seventeen children, (yes, you read that right), it made our family seem small and their poverty made our family seem rich.   One of the funniest memories of our Mama is the way she would say, when she made us fried chicken and we didn't eat every single speck of meat off the bone, "Uncle Albert's kids would appreciate that chicken and they wouldn't leave any meat on that bone!"  Never waste anything was Mama's motto to the day she died, and Uncle Albert's children were equivalent to some parents saying "the children in Africa wish they had that chicken".

All in all, I loved everything about growing up in a large family. I have two close friends who grew up as only children.  While I'm sure they have their own wonderful memories, I can't even imagine such a thing as growing up without brothers and sisters.

 Tomorrow, we will drive to the beach where most of my siblings, our children and our grandchildren will gather in a rented beach house for a family reunion.  It has me thinking about siblings and what I love about mine, about how glad I am that I still have the family of my childhood here with me, even with Daddy and Mama living in heaven now.

The summer after Mama died, our oldest living sister, (our oldest sister passed away a couple of years before Mama), planned a reunion.  She was concerned that we would all drift apart from each other now that there was no "Mama's house" for us to gather at.  Each summer since, we have had a reunion.  Some years we've all been able to come, which is such a blessing.  This year our oldest brother, who is a pilot and flies internationally,  has to work, and our youngest brother, a missionary, can't make it.  They will be greatly missed.

Siblings are the only people that truly share and understand your history, both the happy parts and the sad.  It's been interesting and healing to talk about, laugh about, cry about, our upbringing now that Daddy and Mama are gone and we can talk freely without worrying about their feelings.  It's also interesting to see the different perspectives of growing up in our family.  For example, my perspective of half of my growing up years occurring after Daddy left Mama is quite different than my older siblings who grew up with Daddy at home the whole time.  Both experiences had positive and negative impacts on us in different ways.

Siblings are the people that you can look at and see your Daddy's nose, your Mama's hands,  and even your parents endearing and irritating qualities. (Boy, do I have to fight being overly faultfinding and critical like my Mama!)

My siblings get my quirky sense of humor like no one else.  Most of my laughing til I cry episodes happen with my siblings and are usually precipitated by something that makes no sense to someone outside of our family circle.

Maybe it's because I am one of the youngest siblings, but my siblings are some of the people I most want approval from. Maybe it's  an overflow from the desire for parental approval, but to know my siblings genuinely like me and are proud of the life I'm living is important to me.  I'm not saying that I live for their approval or adapt my standards to please them, but I do value their love and respect.

My relationship with my siblings isn't one where we are often together.  We don't talk on the phone daily or even weekly.  We are pretty spread out geographically and we all lead active and busy lives.  Yet, I am confident that if I ever truly needed them, they would be there for me, and vice versa.

This afternoon I will spend the bulk of my time in the kitchen cooking and baking for the reunion.  Tomorrow, the Hubs and I and all of our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren will drive to gather with four of my siblings and most of their children and grandchildren.  Over the next few days we will eat too much, laugh a lot, play games, sit around the bonfire toasting marshmallows and making s'mores, fly kites, and celebrate being a family.  I  thank God for the family He gave me, the siblings He gave me.  Here's to my wonderful, flawed, beautiful, quirky family!

still following,

   





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