What Did I Get From Him?


Dad Collage

The few last weeks I’ve been thinking of my Dad more often.  It seems when I watch my husband and our nine year old daughter together,  my own dad comes to mind.  As I pondered thoughts I was trying to figure out what “things” my own father taught me as I grew up.

When I wrote this piece for his funeral I meant every word.  Many things to be grateful for but yet a 46 year old daughter longing to recall exactly what he taught her is puzzling.   My parents divorced when I was 11 and he was basically absent the couple years before that more or less.  It’s hard to think of any of my daughters being without their fathers. Fortunately they all have had active ones their entire lives.  I hope they realize what a blessing that is.

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This post isn’t a bashing on my deceased father, it’s a thought process.  It’s how I deal with things that fester and instead of letting them grow into something ugly, I’ll turn it into something good.  That working through words will weave an acceptance to an area of my life.

I think he may have even been okay with it.  Writing letters.  I suppose he taught me that. After the divorce we wrote to one another. This was my only real connection with him. He didn’t get me every other weekend or call.  He wasn’t much of a talker.

I recall playing poker with my Dad once, I’m sure there were other times too.  I think I remember it so well because it was Christmas time and my brother and I ended up walking home from our grandparents house.  His pickup broke down and it was freezing out.

There was the time Dad and I were in my Grandpa’s pickup.  YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE came on the radio and he sang to me.  It was funny.  There was more turmoil than laughter in my childhood so this memory is very precious.

He didn’t teach me to ride a bike or even drive a car. Elementary and high school graduations he didn’t attend or the birth of my first daughter.   The absence of him as I began dating was hard but I had a good replacement at the time.  My step-father came into the picture when I was around 14.  I still longed to have my Dad present in my life but Bob really was a good father figure.

I can look in the mirror and see physical traits that resemble my Dad.  But as the youngest of his four children, the question what did he teach me that enables me to conduct my life the way I do is present.

Yesterday I was watching this music video, my Dad came to mind.  I showed it to my youngest daughter, the one that seemed to “give him a new reason to live back in 2008”  as my husband put it.  Johnny Cash always reminded me of my Dad, the physical traits mostly and his size.  As I watched the video with my daughter I couldn’t keep the tears away.

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Almost three years and I still miss the man that I am not sure taught me much.  I’m okay with that I guess.  I am not so very curious for the words I have placed upon this post have brought acceptance I suppose.  Hugs from that little girl he thought was pretty special made things better too.

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Julie

Stable Force – Motherhood


Spring has arrived and it came in with quite a lot of busyness!  Our family grew by a couple more humans via my daughter and son-in-law.  Our youngest turned nine.  NINE!  I can hardly wrap my head around that one folks!

As I’ve spent a few days in March cuddling newborns it takes me back to each one of my own daughter’s births.  All three had a unique arrival into the world, only two from my womb, but all just as precious.   I’ve also been reminded of the absence of my own mother.  She would have unwrapped the swaddled babies and inspected their tiny toes counting each one first thing!  She would have given advice from her own days of  being a mother to an infant.  I find myself doing that with my daughter  too, only I’m trying really hard to just step back.  Allow her to experience what she has before her, in her own way.

Mom and Daughter

I’m quite a bit more emotional than my daughter the new mother. Writing is a way for me to commemorate an experience all while locking it in, (for I know the days will come I’ll forget).  So, here goes.

I’m writing today because last night the simple act of dressing a newly bathed baby made my chest fill with warmth and pride burst from me.  And I wasn’t even the one doing it!  My daughter was.  Witnessing our children doing things in life always has some sort of effect on us, doesn’t it?  Whether it is a musical concert, sharing at playtime, a fit in the store, dropping a toy for the 100th time, or having them display their own parenting skills.

All these little nuggets in life bring forth different emotions and each have their place in our lives.  I think, in my own opinion, being a stable force in my child’s life is essential to a relationship.  Raising my children has not been always sweet moments with bragging rights attached.

There’s been times I’ve wanted to hide under a rock, scream from the street corner, and throw my own kind of fit! My hope if my daughters were asked they would say that Mom was there, even when she was mad at me or vice versa.

I hope I have raised my children with a good combination of love and discipline.  If I haven’t, then I think I failed as a parent.

(Disclaimer: I am not a parenting guru nor think that I am!)

MOther Daughter Wedding

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Farming Grace Daily

When I became a mother at 17 I knew nothing, although my mindset was different!  My first child was a practice run so to speak. 🙂  Then the second one came along and she was completely opposite of the first one.  By the third it’d been so many years I almost felt lost and quite unsure again (at first).

But as I sit here today I realize that the gold nuggets of this life as a mother are not always wrapped in beautiful boxes with big bows or grand gestures.  Sometimes, it’s just the act of saying no, using a somewhat firm voice, cuddles, or talking it out later. Or that the third piece of candy is fine or getting a C on a paper isn’t the worst thing in the world.

That stable force is built on combinations of strength, discipline, tenderness, and care. My wish for my own three daughters is that they are able to display this in their own motherhood experiences.  That the example they were given was worthy.  I love you girls!

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Julie

Their Mother. A Mother.


I’m not even the one that became a first time mother but my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride this past week.  My middle daughter gave birth to a couple of beautiful boys. Although I am thrilled to grow the number of grandchildren I have, it was my job as mother that I felt so emotional about. In fact, I still am feeling it.

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When I became a mother in 1988 I had no idea the impact it would have on my life.  The paths it would take me on, the pains I would feel or the joys I would treasure. I will assume that my daughter doesn’t either.

With my oldest two daughters the majority of their childhood I felt like I wasn’t a very good mother.  Looking back, the mentality of worry of just that subject was the only real thing that was a hinderance.  Somewhere along the lines I began to accept the type of mother I was, improve upon what I have learned, and go forth even if it ended in a mess. I’ve taken the knowledge I gained from raising the two older ones and am trying to do a better job with their little sister.  I’m far from perfect but you know what, that’s okay. I love each of my children and they know it. Them knowing it is key.

Motherhood changes as our children grow in their own lives. Twenty four years I’ve cared for, battled with, laughed with, and loved the woman who I call my second born.  It’s almost difficult for me to put into words the experience of watching her become a mother herself.  Actually each of my adult daughters have given me grandchildren and it’s a struggle to come up with the right words to describe  what the experience was like for me. Their mother.  It’s a treasure although filled with worry and excitement.  The child I called my own becoming something that I am.  A mother.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that becoming a grandmother once again was great, my mother instinct takes top slot though.  Perhaps it’s so prominent because of the type of relationship my daughter and I have.  Perhaps it’s because I know what her future looks like in a sense.  Perhaps it’s just that the caring nature within doesn’t stop.  I want to make sure she has what she needs now in both emotional and physical support.

Witnessing from a close distance my own children as mothers takes my breath away periodically.  On occasion I have to keep my mouth closed, sometimes I have to speak up. Sometimes it just means sweeping the floor or washing a dish or making a quilt or cuddling with one of the four grandchildren.  Whatever the need I hope they know I’m still here, even if they are mothers themselves. That as their mother, I’m still mothering. And although it’s not always easy, it’s still a pleasure.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Julie

Sewing Generations Together


K, my middle daughter  had a close relationship with my mother.  It was closer than I ever had with Mom and at times I will admit I was jealous.  But my mother and I were quite different, just as my daughter is from me. With both relationships I can see more of myself in my mother than I ever thought and the same with my daughter and me. There were hiccups made along the way by all parties, but we never let that completely break the bond of family.

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The relationships we have with family, in my opinion, is what enhances what we are or will become.  Every occurrence, including family creates something to one’s life, whether it’s more of a connection or a disconnection.

My daughter is about to become a mother (to twins)  herself and in the course of her pregnancy we’ve become closer. Actually since she moved out of the house across the country six years ago our relationship improved and grew. (Sometimes distance is good for a reality check folks!) During those six years she moved back quite close, and  my own mother passed away leaving a hole in both our hearts, along with the rest of our family.

If you’ve followed along here at all you’ve probably noticed my mother was one that could sew, craft, paint, basically create naturally. I don’t feel I got that “create naturally” talent but  I dabble in sewing and crafting.  When I did quilt it was with my mother.  K. enjoys sewing and she spent time with her grandmother learning to sew and embroidery.

I figured out the best way to honor my mother, share about a generation that is gone, and give my daughter and grandson’s a gift to treasure was to make baby quilts.

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At my daughter’s baby shower this past weekend I gave her the quilts, it was a surprise. This is what I placed with the two quilts I made telling the story for generations to come.

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As my daughter read the card and opened the boxes I could tell this gift meant a great deal to her.  She didn’t say much as she isn’t a touchy feely kinda gal but she didn’t have to. (hint: one thing we differ at, but I still love her!) 🙂  I think my Mom would have liked this.

quilts

Just as my mother sewn one generation of love into blankets and outfits,  I  followed her lead.  Someday it will be K. sharing the story, making blankets, and loving her grandchildren.  I hope these are still around to share!

In today’s world, whether it is a family unit, friendships, any collection of people seem to be torn apart like a piece of fabric loosely sewn. The different personalities, selfish mindsets, non-respect, and many other factors from the outside word are participants to make this occur.

Folks, gather your people and keep them sewn tightly together.Weave a bond that even in the darkest time you are still united in some form.   For when they are gone there will be a rip in your heart and only memories to share. Let’s sew the generations together, shall we?

Julie

Mirror Reflections & What to Remember


When I see my reflection in the bathroom mirror I often wonder about the features of my face that I have. Normally, it takes me on a journey in my mind where I end up  recalling images of my own parents..

I see many physical traits  that came from my father.  The dark brown hair, the eyes, and definitely the nose!   I look less like my mother but I have other attributes that I inherited from her.  They come into play when I use my brain and interact with others or work physically hard.

The reflection in the mirror also gives me ample view of my flaws.  I see them as flaws where others may not even notice them.  We all deal with the image in mirror, don’t we?

The current bible study I attend, “Mirror, Mirror” by Susan Senechal, stated the following.  “we’re seeing our reflections as in a fun house mirror – warped and distorted.”

As I read those words I felt a bit of a weight off my shoulders, then as the following was shared I felt even more of a release.

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That release is actually more like feeling loved.  Loved in a manner that is hard to wrap my head around because of the sins of this world.  But in the Word I can find the truth that reminds me that Christ loves me and died for my flaws and sins.

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Although I have only read one session of this particular bible study I find it to be helpful and a learning experience.  Not just because I’ve been reminded that I’m beautiful and a creation from God.  I have also been able to learn more about Jacob, Esau, Levi/Matthew, and hit several books of the bible while bonding with other Sisters in Christ.

I wasn’t paid to tell you about this bible study or about God.  I just felt moved to share what I experienced.  If you find yourself needing to be reminded of the love given from Christ you can find your copy of the bible study here, here, and even here.  Oh and by the way, they sell bibles at all those places too if you are in need of one!

I hope the reflection in the mirror that you see is one that reminds you of the love you have from Christ.

Feel free to download the Mirror Message for the week!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

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The 26th – And how it came and went.


Today marks one year since my mother passed away.  I had a restless night of sleep, by morning my anxiety level was pretty high.  I don’t know if it was due to the anniversary of something so hard or the depression or the fact that I’m traveling this weekend.

I’m heading out to  spend the weekend away from home with some girlfriends.  At the time of scheduling the trip I thought it would be a good idea for me to be away from home.  I still feel that way – mostly.  Honestly I always get anxious about traveling due to a medical issue I have.  I know being away from home won’t make me forget but perhaps a nice distraction and opportunity to relax.

After taking my daughter to school I spent the morning in my kitchen.  As I have stated before, cooking seems to be my therapy.  Maybe it calms me because I can control what goes in when and it can be done in a certain order. All the while anticipating something good coming out of my actions.  I don’t have to talk or feel or think of anything else while pouring the ingredients into the metal bowl.  I even thought of my mom while baking the cake.  It wasn’t sad but glad she was such a good cook and baker.  A gift she shared with me.

The weekend away is needed for more than one reason and I know I will enjoy the laughter, comradity, and memories made with my friends.  Although I won’t be able to control the ingredients that will make up this wonderful time, I can participate with as much as I can muster.

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Written later……

The weekend away was enjoyable and good for me.  I felt up and down throughout the weekend.  I haven’t laughed that much for so long.  And I needed that.  The laughter with girlfriends is so very awesome! Thank you to my friends that spent time with me and also listened when I did share my feelings.

I’m actually publishing this on September 3rd, what would have been my mother’s birthday.  But no more birthdays exist for her.  No more angel food cakes or family gathering to celebrate her life.  I did get to spend the morning with my two sisters and visit with my brother on the phone.  That was a good way to spend my day.  A really good way.

Tomorrow is another day.  Another step forward.  Another opportunity to reach for something better, smile more, laugh alot, and hug those around me.  I’m grateful.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Gathering Afterwards


No one tells you how different it will be.  And if they do, you probably won’t be able to wrap your head around it or believe them. I really didn’t realize the connection that my mother made for me and the rest of my extended family.  A connection that wasn’t so obvious to me at the time but is now upon our gathering together in her absence.

It was the way you didn’t want to leave when we had family gatherings.  Where sitting around her large oval dinner table with lots of food, laughing, and enjoying the antics of a cousin, niece, or nephew.  Or more than likely Mom saying something outlandish, flirting with an in-law, or encouraging a little one to crawl up in her lap.

I can’t really describe it to you.

We’ve had a couple of gatherings since her passing one year ago and it’s not the same.

Even though she may not have been the instigator of the memory made or the antic occurring it was still relevant to the connection of her.  We still laugh together, eat together, and celebrate family moments but it’s not the same.

To be honest, my biggest fear is losing connection with my siblings.  Not the love for one another but the gift that was given to us through being raised together.

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I once had a friend that knew us while growing up and then I didn’t see him for many years.  In conversation all those years later, he admitted that he was always impressed with the closeness/bond that our family had.  Primarily talking about my siblings, my mom, and myself.  I remember stating and thinking that I never felt we had that much of a closeness.  At least not any more than any other family I knew.  That observation from the outside made me feel lucky though. And with the death of both our parents it’s made me realize how true it is.

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Today as I remember that memory I celebrate the extended family that was given to me. The bond created in family isn’t always from joyous moments, dinners around the table, or cheering at ballgames together.  Sometimes it’s created by too much yelling and witnessing bad things or sleeping in a car periodically.  Sometimes it’s from just living in the house together with those that know what no one else knows.

Whatever creates the bond, it’s important to hold on to it.  There’s no bringing our mother back, but I have three people in my life that can remember her with me and who know what I’m talking about when I say I miss her.

Mother and I 2014

It will take all four of us to continue to nourish the bond/relationships and to be an example to our own children.  I pray daily for them and I look forward to the future of our family.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I
He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

Adoption Series 2015 – In Between The Sunsets of Life – Tashley’s Story


 

Adoption Series 2015

 

Our last installment for this series was posted yesterday.  I missed getting it out on this blog.  Please take moment to read a story that was written by my eldest daughter.  It is a story that is dear to my own heart.  Thank you for following our blog and the adoption series!

 

Tashley’s Story

The Habit of Meeting


It’s become a habit now.  One that I think I can not live without.  It’s not a bad habit but one that builds me up and makes me feel stronger in the midst of this thing called life. I’m talking about the prescense of my siblings. Where all four of us are together.

Siblings

Once again,  we had an opportunity to join together this past weekend.  The balance I feel when in their company (all four at once) is something I’ve come to long for. Perhaps it is because ti gives last  connection to both our parents or it’s just that mortality has come into play in my mind more often than not now.

These three individuals bring forth laughter, fun, strength, respect, and even some tears on occasion to my life.   They make me feel I am a better person than if they were not in my life.  I suppose I did not realize this or feel the magnitude of this when my parents were alive.  I’m 44 years old and as I ponder what my life will look like in the future, I do not foresee it ever being with any of them.

I know the day will come when we each pass on and it will be hard for sure.  I’m hoping it will be in the far future but for now I will bask in the glory of what God has provided me.  Three siblings that bring me to a better place, support me, agree to disagree at times, and love.

The bond between us is one that even my own children do not have with each other.  Each set of siblings in this world has a different bond to some degree.  Ours brought us closer for growing up in an environment not so calm yet instruction of how to work hard.  The hugs were present as we grew older and the meaning of family grew in our hearts.  The material items of our parents isn’t worth disagreeing and the opinions or actions of one another doesn’t keep us from loving one another.

We learned from example not how to bond together as siblings, but perhaps as the closeness of our examples was less than desirable we figured out what we didn’t want our relationships to look like.  Good can come from all things and I feel this was it for us.

I hope my siblings know how very much I love them, am grateful for them, and hope that we continue to meet a few times a year.   That our children and the generations thereafter know one another and hear memories of Grandma Frona and Grandpa Richard for a very long time.

If you are fortunate enough to have a sibling I encourage you to reach out to them.  Whether your relationship is spectacular, mediocre, or non-existent.  Connection brings forth something substantial to our lives, even the smallest of connection.

Grace is a gift,

Julie