Worth More in the Box

Birthdays and Christmas were big when the kids were young and still at home. Christmas was so much fun for this Mrs. Claus. I tried to get most everything, if not everything, on their wish list, or spelled out in detail in their letters to Santa. I have a couple of notebooks where I kept track of everything they received, including what was in their stocking, with all the dollar amount totals. It’s how I kept track of every person we bought for, for every Christmas. I think I did a good job balancing it all out. And Christmas was magical.

The only gift I think that maybe was a flop was a go-kart for my two oldest boys. (Really there’s no thinking about it as it still comes up in conversation. It was.) My now-ex, had someone build it and asked me what color we should paint it. We knew we wanted a neon color. Something bright and fun. To this day I do not know what I was thinking as I chose hot neon pink for my sons’ go-kart. So that’s what it was painted. I’m so sorry, boys. It was a little humiliating. Okay. A lot humiliating. I’m just glad we lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere. (Insert cheesy smile.)

Many times the kids would receive gifts that could possibly become collectors items years down the road. My now-ex would tell the children it’s worth more in the box. So my kids would immediately proceed to destroy the box to get the toy out and play with it. Yeah, they were rebellious like that.

When you think of all the things we subconsciously, or consciously, set aside to save for that perfect time, like an antique set of China, maybe a beautiful necklace or earrings, a shirt, a nice pair of boots, perfume, or a sweet little nightie, it adds up to many things that are only sporadically enjoyed, if ever. My question is why do we leave them in the box, the top drawer of the dresser, in the back of the closet, or in the bottom of the hutch? In the long run, are these things really worth more by using less or admiring from the box on a shelf?

Everyday is a gift. Unwrap it and enjoy every bit of it. Don’t put things away only to be used for a moment seven months from now. Use it today and enjoy it. Get that China out when you have that weeny roast. Well, maybe not that. But make it a point to use it for Sunday meals instead of only Thanksgiving or Christmas. If a plate gets broke, it gets broke. In the scheme of things, it’s just a plate. The time together is the real gift.

Last week a man passed away suddenly and way too soon. My best friend passed away at 54. We don’t know if we have a tomorrow or a next day. We don’t even know if we will make it home tonight to sleep in our bed. I say use that perfume. Buy those flowers. Open that bottle of wine. Wear that shirt. Open that box. Don’t wait for certain moments to be special. Make every moment special. Truly, nothing is worth more left in the box. The value is in today.

I would never take back a single moment of watching my kids tear up a box of a possible collectors item. No amount of money can replace the joy on their faces as they opened their gifts or of the sweet memories of Christmases long ago.

Cherish every moment. Make them as special as you can. It’s all we truly have.

Thanks for the coffee time this morning. I appreciate all the moments I am able spend with you.

Have a blessed day and always be grateful. ♥️

Andi

My Faithful Companion

I have a most faithful companion. And the older he gets the more clingy, I mean faithful, he becomes. Hercules was born July 19, 2011, in a town southwest of Atlanta. My now ex-husband, our oldest daughter, Denae, and I made the trek down to Georgia to his cousin’s place as she had the litter of German shepherd pups.

When we arrived she led us into a pen and there we were happily mauled by several little tail wagging, yippy bundles of joy.

I quickly found the pup I wanted. Actually, he chose me. He plopped down right in front of me and stayed there. Cutest thing ever. I named him Hercules. Another male that I fell in love with was solid black and played behind my legs. I named him Zeus. He was quite excitable unlike his brother who was more passive and quite content just to sit at my feet and look up. More like my personality, I suppose. It was hard not to bring them both home!

My daughter unexpectedly was assigned a pup too as Jasmine chose her. She was solid black and quite spirited, as is my daughter. It’s interesting to watch how puppies choose you.

We drove the many hours back home, with Herc being calm and his sister not so much. She must have been a momma’s girl as she was crying for her. Just like Denae, a momma’s girl. The pup didn’t settle down until we played jazz on the radio. Hence, her name, Jasmine. Jazz, for short.

We’ve had wonderful times with these pups through the years. Jazz moved to the Chicago area when Denae moved there. She’s excited to see us whenever we get together. (They both are.)

Herc has started to plump up since I started taking care of his feeding. I need to be more mindful of that. But still he is an incredibly beautiful dog. He’s calm except when one of us isn’t home. He prefers that the three of us are home…and in the same room. That’s when he’s most content. He’s rather protective of my youngest, as German shepherds are known to be, so he gets quite antsy when the boyfriend comes by and takes her away for the evening.

Hercules follows me everywhere when I am home. If I go to my room, he follows and lays on his bed. Even if I run in there quickly just to grab something, he follows. I can hardly turn around without stepping on him. Herc is not allowed in the kitchen. If he thinks I’m leaving the kitchen too quickly and that he might get left behind, he takes the shortcut, which is on my heels, through the kitchen. Once I was leaving for work and went into the garage. I immediately came back into the house to retrieve something I needed and what did I find? Herc in the middle of the kitchen standing like a statue in mid-step. I think he thought I wouldn’t notice him if he stood still. It was hard not to laugh.

Herc has this morning ritual of sneezing on my bare legs no matter how much I dance around the room to get away. And the worst way to wake up is to the sound of a German shepherd puking next to your bed. That’s happened twice. That’s two times too many. He and I both hate daylight savings as it messes with our morning potty time.

When Herc hears me come home he whines until I get into the house. A very annoying feminine whine. I think it’s most annoying because he’s a strong masculine dog and his whine just doesn’t match his appearance. Maybe because he lives in a house full of women. I don’t know. All I know is I’m embarrassed for the neighbors to hear him when I pull into the garage.

One night 2-3 years ago, the girls and I were watching NFL football and talking about different players. All of a sudden, Herc went nuts and started barking. We calmed him down and went back to our conversation. He started barking again and jumped halfway onto the couch which he knows he’s not allowed to do. We calmed him down and after the third time we started to put two and two together. So we mentioned a certain player’s name and away he went, even more excited than the previous times, jumping on each of us and barking. We calmed him down and repeated other names once more. Nothing. He was fine. Weird. And still to this day, if we mention that certain player’s name, he barks and jumps around and gets all goofy. The player’s name? Tom Brady! It’s just too funny. We have no idea how this all came about but we sure have fun with it.

Herc is a wonderful companion. I’ve had many shepherds over the years and none have lived to old age. Herc is now my oldest shepherd as he will turn nine in about a month. I’m blessed to be his owner. He’s forgiving, grateful, and oh, so loving.

Thanks for joining me for coffee so I could introduce you to my Hercules.

Gratitude. ♥️

Andi

Photos: 1-2, me and Herc/ Denae and Jazz on the day we picked them up; 3-5, baby Herc; 6, Herc anxious as he thinks my youngest is drowning in the pool below; 7, enjoying the sun; 8, sad eyes; 9, by my side, always; 10, keeping a watchful eye; 11, my beautiful boy; 12, Herc and me, 2018

Writer’s Block

It’s funny how you can go from having so many words and so little time to having much time but zero words. Imagine me being speechless. Well, I am.

My mind is full.
My heart is heavy.
My pen is empty.

I’ve been struggling a lot the past week and a half. I find myself yet fully clothed at 2:00 am, lying on my bed, and unable to sleep. I thought I might try to write something. Anything.

The last two blogs were posted at my daughter’s encouragement. I guess I must have a bad case of writer’s block.

Life isn’t always what it seems, or what you hope for. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite. But here again, a lesson has presented itself, and it is best to learn from it. There is surely disappointment, maybe some embarrassment, but most definitely a deep sadness, with a great sense of loss. But…life continues. It’s best to dust off your britches and begin your walk again. Falling down is a part of the walk. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. But I’m not.

I think it’s best not to pressure myself and then maybe the words will gradually return. Finding peace in this day is what I need. It’s what we all need from time to time.

Be kind to each other. Remember that communication is the key to every single relationship. Don’t be afraid to talk about hard things because, frankly, life is hard.

Always be grateful. Even when you hurt.
Be grateful for the loves in your life, for every breath you breathe, for the sunshine and rain, and for baby birds and squirrels. We truly have much to be thankful for.♥️

Andi

Life…

I am fortunate to have a nest of baby robins next to my front porch. I sit on my rustic red glider and watch the parents take turns in bringing food home to their four little ones. They are quite homely children with mouths that are disproportionately large for their little bodies. And faces that only their parents could love, but I appreciate.

I spend a lot of time on my porch thinking about many things but today I am admiring this little bird family. The parents work as a unit, tirelessly, all day long for the survival of their family. The little birds’ eyes are not open yet but whenever they feel the movement of branches, they stretch their necks out and open their oversized beaks to accept food from mom and dad.

While watching my bird family, I recall the other day at work when I noticed a broken blue egg under a tree. I wondered if a storm disturbed the nest and the egg fell out or if it had hatched. If an egg breaks prematurely we might think how sad that a little bird died. This made me think of other baby animals that died too soon, and my mind slipped back in time to the early ‘70’s.

We had a small dog named Heidi and she had an unplanned pregnancy. We discovered she was having difficulties when she was ready to deliver and we had to take her to the veterinarian. The doctor performed surgery as the puppy was just too large for Heidi to birth on her own. During the surgery it was discovered that there were actually two pups. The second one didn’t survive in utero. It was all white and much smaller as its lifeline was cut off by its larger brother. But….we still called it a puppy even though it wasn’t born alive. And we were sad that it didn’t survive.

Then I started thinking a little deeper….this is how my mind rolls.

When cruel people discard bags filled with puppies or kittens, our hearts break and we get mad, as we should. Abuse of animals should not be tolerated. We now have laws that make animal cruelty a felony. We have laws that protect caterpillars, eagles, and sea turtles, just to name a few. But I wonder why human life is regarded much less than any of these.

Granted, birds and animals mate for procreation. Human sexuality is designed by God for procreation and pleasure. The latter though comes with great responsibility. Momma bird has this innate wisdom of motherhood that life continues through her body. And she graciously accepts that. She knows that she is the vessel designed to carry life, a life completely separate from hers. Humans should understand and accept the same.

Just as we refer to the unborn of a dog as a puppy, or a kitten to a cat, an unborn human is a baby even though we try our hardest to dehumanize it by using scientific terms. When abortion is being considered, the term fetus severs the attachment to human life. When a woman visits her doctor for her monthly prenatal checkups, neither she or her doctor refer to her child as a fetus. They refer to the life within her, no matter what stage of development, as a baby. This denotes attachment to human life.

Why do we have such a difficult time understanding that human life is more sacred than those of the animal kingdom? How can we willingly remove life from a woman and be fine with that, yet we cry over a stillborn pup, a commercial about abused animals, and a broken robin’s egg? How are we not held accountable for taking a human life yet charged with a felony for an abuse of an animal? Abortion procedures are barbaric. If those procedures were performed on an animal, people would be livid. Where is the logic in this? Where is the heart for human life?

I watch my robin’s nest and rejoice in the fact that they work as designed by God. I wish the human race was just half as wise as a robin.

Thanks for stopping by for coffee today. You may or may not agree with my thoughts here, regardless, I wish you a wonderful day filled with love, beauty, and happiness. And robins.

I’m grateful for you. ♥️

Andi

Photos: my baby robins 😍

Why?

Isaiah 55:8, 9

I have not been inspired to write lately. In fact, this is my first post in a week. I’ve never gone a week without having something to say. Or several somethings. It’s not due to lack of things to write about. There are plenty. But although I’m buried in thought, the words have just not been there for me. My daughter, Charlie, told me I need to try. So here I am. My Sunday blog.

A certain man suddenly passed away this week and it made me question why. He was just shy of his 64th birthday and so full of life and energy. He and his wife have dealt with heartache and struggles together over many years. But he was a stronghold. As a Christian man, he was an inspiration to many, including my son. And when I see the horribleness of so many, I wonder why such a good man was taken. Not that I wish death on anyone. I just wonder why.

I think about many things. And lately, I’ve had more time to spend on thinking. Which is good though because today’s world offers a new list of things to ponder daily. I often envision God above looking down at us with the view that we see from an airplane. Only He sees and hears everything, and all at once. He knows the conversations in the cars traveling down the country roads, as well as kitchen conversations, and those conversations in a mechanic’s garage. What do our thoughts and conversations look like to God? How does our wisdom appear to Him?

We watch children interact with one another and they speak with such sureness as they play. Their level of sureness equals their level of knowledge. So we view them as children because of their lack of knowledge.

What about us?

We are adults but doesn’t God view us as children? How does our level of sureness measure with our level of knowledge? When I try to figure things out, such as the reason behind a tragic death, I fall short. As much as I’d like to think I’m wise enough to have correct answers often, I do not. My thoughts do not compare to God’s because His wisdom is far superior to mine. Just as mine is greater than a child’s.

So when we cannot understand why this happened or that, I believe we can rest assured that God has a reason, and the answers we seek may, or may not, reveal themselves at another time. We need to be okay with unanswered questions and find peace that some things happen for His purpose and not for our understanding. And while we might be upset and even angry, God says in Romans 8:28, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

We need to trust God even when things don’t make any sense to us at all. Just as a child trusts his parents during difficult times. We use the knowledge we have to reassure, and where we lack in knowledge, we trust in God.

For God says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8,9 ESV

Thank you for stopping by today. My Sunday blog is now posted because of gentle encouragement from my daughter.

Always be grateful.♥️

Andi

Photos: blooms picked for me, gifts from my youngest daughter

Spiritual Encouragement for Dark Days

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

The days of Covid have been long and hard. The numerous difficulties and challenges it presented has caused many to lose hope. Even to the point of death. And before this Covid ordeal ended, before we were able to bounce back from the damage it continues to cause, our world has crashed again. Only this time, the blood is on our hands. People killing people and burning cities for a “cause”.

I feel deflated, confused, and sad. Maybe even a little scared. It’s just almost too much to handle, much less comprehend. I’m sure your heart aches as does mine. I believe we could use a little spiritual encouragement about now.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! Psalm 31:24

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

I am hoping that you might meditate upon a verse or two throughout this coming week. Find comfort, peace, and reassurance in God. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope during these dark days. He is ever-present even when you don’t feel Him near.

My heart is grateful this morning as I write from my porch swing. Always be thankful for the little things. It gives us strength to get through the hard things.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Wishing you peace today. ♥️

Andi

Photos: beautiful vase of birthday flowers from my manager; my peaceful porch swing view as I write this blog.

The Ant

On my day off, I did my best to relax and just enjoy the quiet. I was outdoors most of the day, mowing, trimming bushes, and just lounging around.

I was lying face down on a lounging chair just staring at the deck when I saw a rather large black ant walking toward me. I’ve been having an issue with big black ants inside my house. I worry that carpenter ants are chewing up my home. So with that thought I smashed the ant with my fist. As soon as I hit him, I felt ashamed. And I wondered why I did this. He was, after all, outside and not in my home. Ants are hard workers and he was just doing his job.

This ant was dead, or so I thought. His abdomen was very smashed, with a clear liquid draining from his body, and he kinda rolled up into a ball. I felt sad that I took a life. Well, he must have needed to take a moment because he gradually tried to right himself. He took his time as though he was evaluating the damage I had caused. Finally, he stood as tall as he could and began to walk in the same direction as when I abruptly stopped him. His backend was dragging as well as his two back legs, but he kept going. He continued on his mission, peeking in-between the slates of the decking, just as he was doing prior to the smashing. He fell into one of the openings, and I believed he was gone for good. But no. This ant was tough. He was resilient. He was the super hero of the ant kingdom. He pulled himself back up and out even though his body was greatly damaged. He didn’t give up. Do ants feel pain? I do not know. But my heart hurt that I caused such injury. After a bit he finally turned around and headed back in the direction he came from. Did he realize that he could no longer do his job efficiently so he headed back home? Could his ant family mend him? Or would he become food for them? I don’t know. All I know is I felt terrible.

This ant didn’t give up even though his body was greatly damaged. Often, I have wanted to give up for lesser things.

This ant showed great perseverance. He was so dedicated to his assigned duty that he pushed through his injury and kept going. He was dedicated to his family too as he knew he was part of the chain of survival.

But then maybe he also knew when it was time to quit. How many times have I tried my hardest to make something work when realistically there was just no way possible it was ever going to? I would torment myself in the trying. I would feel guilty to even think about quitting. I pressured myself with what would others think? It was very difficult to make myself stop because, in my mind, it just had to work…or so I thought.

Yesterday I talked about making our surroundings smaller. I listed some suggestions on what we can do to accomplish that. I mentioned watching a bug because of this ant encounter. Sometimes the smallest things can teach us the greatest lessons. All we have to do is watch, listen, and pay attention.

Thank you for stopping by for some coffee time with me. I’m wishing you a great weekend. Try to find time to connect with nature. There’s much peace (and learning) in life’s simpler things.

Always be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Make Your Surroundings Just a Little Smaller

Take time today to reflect on good and positive things in your surroundings. I made the tough decision to get off FaceBook. I’m still on Instagram currently, but that may go as well. I have never been on Twitter or other social media. With just making the decision to get off FB, I slept better that night. And I have slept well for the past three nights now.

I’m not going to hide my head in the sand and pretend that all is well in our world. But I am going to make my surroundings smaller for a bit. We need to stay informed. And I will. But I don’t need to watch the bombardment of horrible videos in my newsfeed as a constant reminder of how cruel people can be to one another under the disguise of a cause. My heart cannot take it.

So…my wish for you this day is that you make your surroundings just a little smaller. Enjoy what is in front of you. Sit outdoors and do nothing but breathe. Feel the sun on your face. Watch a bug. Plant a flower. Listen to the birds sing or the laughter of children playing. Go on a short hike. Play fetch with your dog. Just stay away from the news and social media and give your heart and mind a rest. You deserve that peace if only for a single day. Your overall well-being depends on it.

Be well. Be safe, my friends. Pray earnestly for our world and for each other. Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being — to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame. ~Elizabeth Taylor

Photos: my photos of beautiful orchids at a greenhouse I visited

Being Human

Yesterday I posted a blog which was not in line with my usual blogging. It was harsh. It was controversial. It didn’t include pretty pictures. It didn’t contain poetic verse. Maybe it even seemed mean and hateful. And while it wasn’t in line with my usual writings it was in line with being human.

Usually at the end of the year when Thanksgiving leftovers are but a sweet tasty memory and the anticipation of Christmas festivities has come and gone, I begin to reflect on the previous 365 days. Years ago, I would get pretty sad at the thought of leaving the year’s memories behind, but now I get anxious at the thought of moving forward. The last few years have been difficult and I reluctantly moved into a each new year wondering what problems would be lurking within each new month. But not this last New Year’s Eve. No. This past New Year’s Eve, I was ready. This new year, 2020, was going to be my year. The year when finally everything was going to come together. I felt it down into my bones. And for the first time, in a very long time, I was excited.

January started out great and with much optimism, but by the end of the month, my son got very sick, and then my youngest daughter. It wasn’t long before another daughter became very ill and was sick for a long time. By the time March was here, I was also down for the count. Was it an undiagnosed Covid19 attack on my family? I don’t know for a fact, but we had the symptoms. Testing wasn’t available at that time.

But things became even more serious as March progressed and Covid19 fears filled our homes, businesses, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. Well, I don’t need to explain to you what’s happened since March. We’ve been living it together.

Now we are living through another national, and worldwide, crisis. I’m not going to get into details as I did that yesterday. This year hasn’t turned out as any one of us imagined or desired. We are all let down as highlights of summer activities are being cancelled. Little league can move forward without spectators. Races are postponed. Disney is closed. Fourth of July celebrations are now being cancelled. Beaches were closed, then opened, then closed again. I believe they have reopened once more. I’ve lost track. So much of our life has shut down this year. Tension is running hot and heavy. People have had enough. With that being said, I want to explore the title of this blog a little further.

Being human doesn’t suggest that we are one-sided. Let’s face the facts here. This year has tested each of us. Maybe for the first time in our lives we are feeling the deepest recesses of our most inner being. Places we’ve never touched before. Emotions have fluctuated to new highs and lows, and stayed longer in places that make us uncomfortable, angry, irritable, and sad. We’ve shown the many different sides of us during the past couple of months. I have seen strong people breakdown. I have witnessed the tears of those who are typically always happy. You are not one-sided. I certainly am not either.

While I was not overly anxious or excited about my last blog, it was still a part of me and my human side. Right or wrong, I am not the only one running off high emotion at times. I believe each of us has had our moments of anguish mixed with heated discussion. And that’s okay, within reason.

I want to put that blog behind me. Not because I’m ashamed or feel the need to apologize, but because I want to focus on the softer side of me. I want to inspire, not condemn. I want to help you to reflect, explore, and dream as I journey through these myself. Together, I want us to find hope and peace and happiness. My ultimate goal (besides heaven) is to plant flowers in my corner of the world. Does this mean I won’t ever show another side of me? I can’t promise that. I won’t promise that. It’s all a part of being human. I just happen to put my thoughts down in writing for all the world to see while you may have your moments when hanging with your buddies around a campfire.

Being human isn’t always poised and graceful because life surely isn’t. But recognizing that we have many different sides to us is important. It makes us who we are. Focusing on the kinder, softer side of us is challenging sometimes, especially in today’s heated world, but well worth the effort. Being human is a gift. Using our humanness for good is where we will find the most happiness and peace.

Thank you for returning to coffee with Andi. I appreciate you so very much. I am drinking keto coffee today and it is pretty good. Share a cup with me and then go out and make this day amazing.

Be grateful, especially on these “human” days. ♥️ Blessings still abound.

Andi

Photos: an afternoon drive to Cataract Falls (upper) and Leiber State Park, May 31, 2020.

Dear Rioters and Looters

**fair warning**
This blog was written yesterday prior to removing myself from FaceBook. This blog could be considered a continuation of my last post on FaceBook. You may find this to be harsh and controversial. You may not like me. You do not have to proceed. These are my thoughts and my opinions. -Andi

Dear Rioters and Looters,

I hope that while your child watches Frozen on your newly stolen TV, or as your wife watches her favorite cooking show, you never remember how you pushed someone down and out of the way so you could take it home.

I also hope that you find great satisfaction in the huge pile of new clothing on your bed, even though they don’t fit. And I hope it never crosses your mind that someone, somewhere, needs decent clothes to wear.

I hope the gaming items you pulled out from behind broken glass bring you a fair amount of money as you sell them. And I hope the cuts on your hands and arms don’t require medical attention, or that the scars aren’t a constant reminder that you took from someone else.

I hope the parties you throw are super fun with all the alcohol you stole from a business that someone built from nothing to support his family. I hope the drunken stupor dulls your remembrance of a life you destroyed.

I hope you never see yourself on video as you attack an innocent bystander or destroy property just because you wanted to make a statement, were paid to “protest”, or because you felt the power. I wouldn’t want you to have sleepless nights.

I hope that when you kicked in that window and severely cut your leg that the police officer who aided you, and saved your life, didn’t hinder you for too long so you could get back to kicking in storefront windows.

I hope the blood on the street, or the man you left in a heap on the concrete, don’t haunt your dreams at night as you rest comfortably in your bed.

I hope your little girl, who runs into your full arms after a day of looting, doesn’t notice the blood on your clothing and ask how it got there.

I hope you never recall that officer’s face as you watched him brutalized by your buddies, not giving a second thought that he too, has a little girl at home waiting for his open arms.

No. I lied.

I don’t hope for any of these things.

I hope you are tormented both day and night with your hateful acts against innocent people. I hope you remember vividly the businesses you destroyed and the livelihoods that will never recover. I hope the new scars on your body hurt every time you look at them. I hope you never forget the screams, the blood, the pain, and the chaos.

This is not about Mr. Floyd. This isn’t about racism. This is about hatred and evil, power and control. This was an event just waiting for the right circumstance, the perfect opportunity, to come up out of the darkness and show its ugly head. Sadly, Mr. Floyd’s death was that moment for you. Hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people of all races and color are now suffering at your hands.

I don’t care what color your skin is. This is about the heart and mind of all people. There are good and bad in every color, in every race, and in every profession. If you just could have stepped back for a second you would have seen and heard the cries of a united people here in America, mourning the death of George Floyd. But you didn’t wait a second. You listened to the powerful ones who told you to seek and destroy. You didn’t listen to your own heart. You will have to live with that for the rest of your life. Tell me, is this the legacy you want to leave for your children?

Do you realize you are an expendable pawn in someone else’s agenda? Your life is worth the same as the man whom you pulled from his own rig and severely beat. You aren’t more special. You aren’t more privileged, or honored. You are a pawn, and you have done someone else’s dirty work.

What is your reward? Money? Stolen goods? A scarred body? Memories that you can’t erase? Don’t you realize that you will be tossed to the wayside when they are done with you. Don’t choose to be a pawn in a madness that is not yours.

There is never a reason to retaliate with violence. Had you waited just a little longer you would have seen our nation come together as ONE, to see that justice was served. But you chose not to wait even a second longer. Now the situation has escalated across the world and brought on even more complicated issues, and broken lives to contend with…and, yes, even murder.

The media and the those with an agenda want to keep us in this state of division. For what purpose, I do not completely understand. But when I saw a picture of what the media referred to as “rednecks”, armed and protecting a business, I realized again just how crooked the media is as they only showed half the photo. Their picture was of two white men only, when actually there were two white men and two black men, all armed, standing together in UNITY, to protect a business. The media didn’t want you to see the “whole” picture. All I can think is they must be getting paid quite handsomely under-the-table. But what they don’t realize is that they too are just pawns. A useful tool to keep our country divided. A tool that will be discarded when it’s work is done.

Floyd’s siblings and girlfriend all agree that this violence is something he never would have wanted to happen. His girlfriend said he loved the city and would not have wanted it destroyed. If you just would have waited…but you didn’t. Reacting without thinking. It always makes things worse.

Yes, I want you to remember and to never forget. I want you to feel in your heart the very pain you inflicted upon others. Because through feeling you may have a change of heart. And that is my prayer for you.

You are better than this.

Andi

Photos: I think there are enough on social media and your local news station. I won’t add to their glory by posting here.

My final thought...
I have faith that our country is going to come together to rebuild, preserve, and protect, and become greater than ever. We have been bruised but God is able to heal and strengthen good people. People who want a better world for their children. There is strength in numbers and I believe good people outnumber the bad.

God is ever present. He is here for us. Call on His name for strength and wisdom during these trying times. He is greater than all. I was reminded today that I wear the armor of God. Let’s put on the armor of God and lay down the bricks and torches. Praise God for His grace and mercy. Be grateful.

We all are better than this. ♥️

My Sunday Blog

Proverbs 23:7

I haven’t had many words to share this week. I still don’t today. But I do have plenty of tears.

There is a great wickedness attacking our country and it’s beautiful people. No matter if you are a believer in God or not, not one of us can deny the evil in this day. A single color is not what is fueling this war upon the innocents of our great land. It’s wicked hearts of all colors.

God doesn’t see color. He sees the heart.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7a KJV

I just can’t grasp the realities of today and the hatred of so many toward people they don’t even know. People who had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the situation that initiated these events. I watched a video of a black man crying in the streets because people destroyed what he’s worked so hard to build his whole life. This video was what touched me the most. I’m sure there are hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of stories such as his. My heart breaks for him and well…for all of us, because he is a part of us. We are a part of each other.

Pray for this to end. Pray for the innocent people who have been hurt or who have lost everything. Pray for the law enforcement and first responders. Pray for our President whether you like him or not. Pray for each other.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Pray earnestly, my friends. God, the Father, needs to hear our pleas, our cries for help and guidance.

Thank you for reading this today. My heart is heavy. My words are few. My tears are endless.

Continue to be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Listen to Your Kids, LL #577

The Overcomer

big bloom, little Mikayla

Once upon a time a princess was born into a large family in rural Indiana. She was a happy baby and was doted upon by her four older siblings. Her eyes were a stunning green and her hair was the blondest you could ever imagine. She could have easily been called Snow White. But this little princess was named Mikayla.

Mikayla, with Thor

Mikayla was the baby of the family for six years. She was very quiet and she rarely cried during her first years. She was quite giggly and found humor in most everything. She did have a difficult time handing off the “baby of the family” title to the last child born into our family who was also a girl. And it was far more traumatic for her than I ever imagined.

When the princess was very young, it was quite evident that the she had a special way with animals. I remember when she was a toddler and we could not find her in the house. I glanced outside and saw her at the dog pen across the yard wearing only a diaper and little yellow rubber boots. The dogs were so happy to see her.

Mikayla and Amber

When the princess turned 12, she received her very own puppy, a golden retriever. She named her pup Amber. She taught Amber to do all sorts of tricks, and the two were, and still are, inseparable. It’s as though they share the same heart. Amber became her best friend.

Mikayla and Amber
Amber

Our home life got busier with homeschooling children in several grades. And while it certainly wasn’t intentional, somehow our princess got lost in the mix, and she became invisible.

Mikayla had a very close relationship with her brother, who was a year and a half older, but she became a shadow to her older sister. The princess longed to have the same attention. She was an excellent student. She worked hard to make the grades and to prove herself. She listened well and did most things asked of her, without complaint. Everyone adored this delightful little girl, but still, she felt invisible to those who meant the most to her. Her parents. Maybe it was because she never asked for anything, was quiet, and always appeared to be content. Regardless of how we look at it, this little girl believed she was invisible. She felt abandoned and replaced as the baby of our family too. We should have been more observant to what was happening and attentive to her specific needs.

Mikayla

As time went on, the princess grew up and became a most beautiful young woman. Mikayla still struggles with some insecurities and trust because of her early years but today she is one of the strongest women you will ever meet. She is strong in her convictions. She holds strong family values and morals. She is strong in the Lord. She is loyal and very loving. Mikayla has taught me so much about perseverance. She is an overcomer. An inspiration. My Life Lesson #577. Listen to what your kids are saying…specifically, the things they are not saying.

Let the past remain in the past. The transition from an invisible little princess named Mikayla to a lovely, young visible woman calls for a new name to reflect this new transformation. A name affectionately given to her, by me.

My sweet Charlie. ♥️

Here’s to new days with new beginnings. Thank you, Charlie, for showing me the strength in overcoming. I love you.

Thank you for sharing this life lesson with me. Some lessons aren’t always easy to acknowledge because they are often learned by mistakes made by us as parents. This one was especially painful for me because I realize just how much she hurt because she felt invisible to me, her own mother.

So…always be grateful for the little things. Especially for the little ones who call you mom. Or dad. ♥️

Andi

PS Charlie has become quite a writer and actually has a blog of her own. Creative writing often comes from the deepest recesses of the heart. She writes from there. It’s evident in her expression and the way her words flow effortlessly, like a cool mountain stream.

You might check out her blog: themerakiwtiter.wordpress.com

Charlie

Rinse & Repeat Kinda Girl

1 John 1:7-9

I have made my share of mistakes along the way. I have sinned both unintentionally and willfully. And I’m quite sure I’m not done yet as I’m a rinse and repeat kinda girl.

I can honestly say though, that I strive daily to be a better person; a better friend, sister, mom, mother-in-law, and grandmother. I never want to be viewed as a bad person; only a good person who has occasionally stepped off the path because I saw a pretty flower that needed to be photographed, but failed to heed the poison ivy, the rabid raccoon, the 20’ dug pit, and the bear claw trap between me and what I wanted to do. This is admission that I have willingly stepped off the path, disregarding all the red warning flags, just to do my own thing. But I also want you to know that not only did I suffer because of it, others suffered because of my indiscretion.

I have written before that sometimes when we wander off the path it’s because there is something for us to learn. And that’s okay. But the truth is that we will probably step off the path in hazardous places because of our own selfish desires to do our own thing. Those are the worst lessons to learn. We should never have that desire to intentionally sin. And no matter how hard we try to rationalize our acts of sinful behavior (to ourselves or to others), God knows the sincerity of our heart and our true purpose for getting off the path.

1 John 1:8, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

God also knew we’d be messing up big time, so He sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. That doesn’t mean we continue to willfully sin believing that grace will automatically free us. No, it means that Jesus makes things right as long as we make our hearts right. We need to repent.

Romans 6:1-2, What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Acts 3:19, Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…

1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

So, yes, I am a rinse and repeat kinda girl. I do not desire to sin willfully, but I will fail God, and you, every once in awhile. Confessing our sins to God, and asking for His forgiveness will help us to heal and get back on the right path. Does that mean the consequences of our sin just go away? No. Some things will remain a permanent scar, but often we can still make bad situations better.

1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I am not the same person I once was. And it is often painful to look back at that girl of yesterday. I will never be perfect but God continues to love me and bless me because I look to His perfect Son for my salvation. I will stand on His Promises.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I can only go by the things I’ve learned along the way and the promises of God. Maybe I make sense to you, and maybe I don’t. But I do hope you can find at least one point to ponder.

Thank you for joining me this evening. Your presence means so much to me. Be mindful of the path you walk this week. ♥️

Andi

Photos: my beautiful clematis, May 23, 2020; People’s Pathway, May 18, 2020

Becoming

Me: Hello God.

God: Hello.

Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together?

God: I would rather not.

Me: Why?

God: Because you aren’t a puzzle.

Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling onto the ground?

God: They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.

Me: You don’t understand. I’m breaking down.

God: No, you don’t understand. You are not breaking down. You are breaking through. You aren’t falling apart. You are falling into place. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don’t need to fall off. Let them go.

Me: But what will be left of me?

God: Only the very best pieces of you.

Me: I’m afraid of change.

God: You are not changing. You are becoming.

Me: Becoming?

God: Becoming who I created you to be. A person of light and love, filled with compassion and goodness.

Me: There goes another piece.

God: Let it be.

Me: So I’m not broken?

God: No….but you are breaking like a new dawn. You are becoming. And that is a good thing.

~Author Unknown
(Paraphrased and edited)

I thought this was a perfect blog for today. Our lives are in a constant stage of change. We need to embrace it even while going through sometimes difficult transformations. Just be mindful of what parts of you are allowing to fall to the ground. Grow and change in a positive way. Just as a caterpillar goes through it’s transformation to become something quite beautiful, so are you.

Thank you for stopping by. Coffee is perfect this morning. Have a wonderful day. And be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photo: July 2017, flowers and butterfly on our float at the 4-H county fair parade.

Proverbs 3:5-8


5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

This is one of my favorite Bible passages. I reflect on it a lot…especially vs. 5, and do not lean on your own understanding. I try to make sense of things and I’m not always very good at it. Sometimes, many times, I read more into a situation than I should, only to my own detriment. Sometimes I misread people. I often misunderstand someone because of miscommunication, my own insecurities, or prejudices. I, sometimes, have my own preconceived ideas and/ or personal desires for a situation to evolve in a certain way and that usually hinders the outcome. The reality is this…if I lean on my own understanding, it typically doesn’t play out very well.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, vs. 6. I didn’t really consider what this means until earlier last week. I think everything you do and say should reflect God. It means you can’t stick Him in a drawer or the top shelf in the linen closet only to pull Him out when you need Him. God needs to be with your every step. Include Him. Honor Him. Acknowledge Him through everything you do.

Do not be wise in your own eyes, vs. 7. This is a tough one for me. Maybe for most people. I think I know situations well enough to give advice, or even in my own decision making, when clearly I am not well suited for either. Believing we know better than God what’s in our best interest is being pretty wise in our own eyes as well. Maybe it has to do with our attitude too. I know in the past I’ve been humbled greatly for thinking I knew it all and had the correct answers…until the crown was disgracefully knocked from my head. Arrogance, selfishness, and pride can make you look pretty foolish when God steps in and takes control of a situation. There’s nothing more humbling than being humbled by God.

I find that as I get older, I have mellowed some. And I am grateful for that. I don’t get angry as easily as before. You realize that there’s no sense in it. A lot of things that upset us are trivial in the scheme of life. Think of all the energy and time wasted on something that won’t even be remembered next week. Handle things more gently and not as if each issue is the end of the world. I admit that my nerves are a little more on edge lately with family issues and this virus and all its inconsistencies, so I’ve reacted in sharper ways than I normally would. I can’t let situations control me. I need to be in control of my reactions. But for the most part, I am a calmer more patient person.

I intend to reflect on these verses throughout the coming week. I hope you found this useful too. Thank you for stopping by today. Have a wonderful new week.

Set aside some time today to give God the glory for all He has done. Thank Him for sending His Son to us. And today, and always, be ever so grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photo: a beautiful bird feeder and an orchid. Taken at a flower shop where I once worked.

I’m Not Ready…

I’m not ready…

…to live a life without little ones under my feet, who hide behind me, holding onto my pant leg, or who fall asleep in their plate of food after running around outside on a sweet summer day.

I’m not ready…

…to sort through boxes and containers filled with one memory after another…of baby clothes, blankets, burp rags, and noisy toys. Of stuffed animals, baby dolls, LEGO’s, cars and trucks, puzzles, and Lincoln Logs. It’s just too hard.

I’m not ready…

…to sort through pictures from not-so-long-ago, of my sweet babies I lovingly rocked while singing made-up lullabies, or reading story books such as, Little Rabbit’s Bath and Froggy Gets Dressed.

I’m not ready…

…to find a new, loving home for my beautiful oak table where meals were once shared and playing dice with Grandpa filled the room with laughter.

I’m not ready…

…to end the annual Holiday Baking Day with my five girls as the guys played video games, stopping only to sneak treats that we’ve made.

I’m so not ready…

…to let go of our school days with silly songs about the planets and the colors of the rainbow. Or to put away the precious Indian Child poem that was each child’s first performance, along with the notebooks, textbooks, workbooks, and library books. Broken crayons, the smell of pencil shavings, rulers, and the Judy clock. Spelling tests. Division. Easy Grammar. I will admit that our homeschool was definitely imperfect, but yet…it was ohhhhh…so very perfect. ♥️

I’m not ready…

…to let go of special people who left this life way too soon.

I’m not ready…

…to come home to an empty house.

Or, to move forward, into the future, alone.

I’m just not ready…

Life happened too quickly. I didn’t heed the warnings from those older than me. I thought whatever moment I was in at the time…would last a lifetime. But it didn’t. And I’d like to have that time back.

Just so you know though, I am truly thankful for each minute spent with my kids while they were growing up and I am very proud of their achievements so far in life. I’m excited about their futures, filled with their own dreams and goals. I just miss them. Terribly.

I’m grateful also, for my life experiences, the good, the bad, and the very ugly. These experiences have made me who I am today. It is my desire to become a better person everyday. And I am blessed every morning that I wake up.

Yes, I am going through a difficult time in life. And, yes, I could keep all my thoughts to myself. But what I’m experiencing is very real. No one should be ashamed to have these emotions. And maybe if I share the things that are heavy on my heart, one person may relate and not feel so all alone. It is my hope anyway. Because there’s nothing worse then feeling all alone.

Treasure your time upon this earth and be ever present in each moment. Moments become memories rather quickly.

Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you will continue to come back. Coffee with you is the absolute best.

Be grateful in all things. ♥️

Andi

Photos: 1-Zeke; 2-Mattea; 3-Mikayla & Denae; 4-Mikayla & Dani and my beautiful oak table filled with Holiday Baking Day goodies; 5-Denae, sitting at her desk; 6-Nathan & Jet working on school; 7-Chelle/ Mom; 8-Jet & Nathan after a great fishing day; 9-five of my children.

Rerouting

Rerouting is sort of a continuation of yesterday’s blog, Reboot. I hope you don’t mind. I had additional thoughts come to mind this morning that I felt had value and worth sharing.

Last October I visited Maine. I put on my big girl pants and ventured out exploring on my own. While it was out of my comfort zone, it was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done (on my own). It was definitely a trip of self-discovery and growth. I rented a car for the first time in my life. I drove to Bar Harbor. I visited the Bangor Police Department to see Tim Cotton and the Duck of Justice. (Google it) I forgot to run by Stephen King’s home though. I did stop at Dunkin Donuts. More than once. Don’t judge me. I like their coffee. I even decided to drive a long distance to Moosehead Lake. By. My. Self.

While on my drive to Moosehead Lake, which was mostly a straight shot from Bangor, my Australian co-pilot decided to take me off the main highway. I obeyed and followed his direction even though I wasn’t understanding his logic. (I think I just came up with another blog topic. “Sheeple”.)

Anyway, I got off the highway and he rerouted me through the country. I had some harsh words for him as I questioned his intelligence. And yes, I spoke out loud. He didn’t respond to me, but kept silent…except for his instructions on when and where I should turn. But…I will never forget the beauty I would have otherwise missed. It was autumn and peak leaf season. Several residents who I came across mentioned it was the most colorful fall they could remember in recent years. I stopped along the rerouted route to take pictures. The views were breathtaking.

My Aussie then rerouted me back to the highway I was on in the first place. On my way back, I noticed there was no construction or any type of issue that he was trying to help me avoid. I still don’t understand his logic, but I’m grateful he rerouted me through the Maine countryside.

Sometimes we need to rethink our situation and reroute. In my mind, I had my own reality of how my life would be at this age. I figured all my kids would be here near me. We’d have Sunday dinners and frequent get-togethers. That’s what I wanted. And, I still do. But that’s not to be. My reality and theirs are not the same. I cannot force my reality on anyone. That’s not fair. I’ve had to learn (and painfully accept) that in a couple of ways lately. I can’t force my reality, my hope, on someone else no matter how right it seems to me. So it’s time to redirect my thoughts, my dreams, and my hope. I basically need to reroute my life. As painful as this is (because remember, this is my realty), I have no choice but to reroute.

Rerouting isn’t easy. You might question it like I did Siri. But you may find that the new route will take you places you never dreamed of. Or maybe the new route will teach you things you need to know and reroute you back to the road you were on in the first place. But I can’t focus on, or hope for that to happen because it may not ever become reality. Holding onto the dream of reconnecting with that road would only prevent me from experiencing what is in front of me. And that would, in turn, only add more heartache to my life. So, I will let go of what I thought was real, (try to) focus on the new route, and plan accordingly.

I hope you benefit from my wordy blogs. I’m just a rambling kinda girl. Maybe someone else could use fewer words to relay their thoughts but that seems to be an impossibility for me.

Thank you for stopping by today. Coffee with a little KerryGold Irish cream is perfect on this day of reflection.

Remember that no matter what your situation is, always be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photos: top – Maine, October 2019; bottom – My oldest daughter, Denae, St. Joe, MI, May 2012. This picture seems to reflect how I am feeling today as I contemplate rerouting my life.

Reboot

There comes a time in your life when things are just so routine that life isn’t fully lived or enjoyed. I was discussing this subject with a friend this morning. I stated that I really don’t want life to go back to normal. Not my normal anyway. He messaged one word. Reboot. Hence the birth of this blog.

My mind has been spinning with ideas and new dreams. My youngest son and his family left everything here and moved to a faraway place for a new beginning with all new adventures. I am very excited for them. These past several days I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this and wondering what prevents me from doing the same. What holds me back? I don’t want my life to return to my old normal. Maybe I do need to reboot. Hopefully, I can make this happen in one way or another. There are many things to consider but life is about change and taking chances. Not sure what reboot means for me. It could mean something wonderful. It definitely means change. I can’t get around that. So only time will tell.

Do you want to go back to your pre-Covid life? Do you need to reboot? Sometimes change is necessary. Sometimes it’s about letting go. Realizing you need to let go.

I hope that you spend some of your time during this downtime to reflect on your life. Make mental notes or start a journal. What needs to change? What areas need improvement? What’s holding you back? What should you pursue, and what should you let go of? It’s not always going to be easy because change often hurts. But remaining in the same situation is often painful too. Just know that taking positive steps forward just might be the right thing to do in the long run. You never know until you try.

I hope your day is good. Keep a positive attitude. Get outside if you can today. And always be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photos: road trip to Story, IN, May 10, 2020

Back to the Garden

Sometimes something wonderful can come out of an unpleasant situation. While we should always walk away with a lesson learned, once in awhile we might walk away with a gift as well. I recently received such a gift.

Without going into details of my situation, I would like to share with you the gift I received. That gift led to another which, in turn, led to this blog. The first gift I received was the rekindling of a friendship. I made a call to my friend whom I haven’t talked to in years. I was unsure of how my call would be received because of the circumstances initiating the call. Pretty much the first words she spoke were, “Andi, I still consider you to be one of my sweetest friends.” And my heart rejoiced. Gift one: I reconnected with my dear friend.

Our conversation was relaxed and pleasant as if the separation of time and space never occurred. We talked about many things and reminisced about our early homeschooling days. She also shared with me a book that she is reading again. A book that has helped her in coping with life changes, spiritual growth, and finding peace. The book is called A Place Called Simplicity. She gave me a quick summary of the book and I became very interested. So I ordered it. Gift two: the book.

Currently, I’m sitting in my sunroom, reading the book, and writing this blog while still in my jammies. Jammies are perfect quarantine attire. The book is good so far and it inspired this blog. I feel the author is speaking directly with me…over a cup of coffee. I agree that our inner self is fighting to go back. Back to where life is simpler. Back to where we were first designed. Back to the Garden.

God created the world by speaking it into existence. He put thought into every word He spoke and everything was created out of love. When God created man, He designed us intricately and perfectly. And He gave us a perfect place to live. The garden was furnished with everything we would ever need. Although He created one man and one woman, I refer to them as us. And that is because had any of us been in the garden, I believe we would have acted the same as Adam and Eve. They were foolish. Just as we are today.

We are never satisfied, just as Adam and Eve were not. They wanted more even though they had it all. And our history proves we are still in that same mindset. Each new piece of technology comes with a loosely-woven promise to free up our time so we can live simpler, happier, and more peaceful lives. We think we can invent our way back to the place God gave us in the first place. But since that fateful day when Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God, He has been trying to get us back into the garden. (The garden now being a state of mind, an attitude.) And I believe the same as this author, we struggle internally to regain what we have lost. Simplicity.

With the events of today, we have some time to reflect on simpler things. What makes our life more fulfilling? What changes will we make when life returns to “normal”? What will we gladly leave behind? Or, will we fill our lives and schedules as in the pre-Covid days? Have we learned anything?

I, for one, desire a simplistic life. And I hope I can focus on the things that matter most and toss out the complexities whenever possible. God knew what was best for us back in the garden and He knows what’s best for us now. He hasn’t changed. Maybe we were made to slow down for a reason. Let’s embrace this moment in time even through the difficulties.

Thank you for stopping by on this Sunday. I hope your new week is a great one and that you give God the glory for all things good and beautiful in your life. Yes, even for the trials, as they build character, strength, and wisdom.

Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photos: The flower pics were taken a couple years ago from my porch pots. The butterfly pic is from my Jamaican trip a few years back. Pic of me was taken yesterday after a drive out in the country with one of my daughters and two of our dogs. Connecting with nature does the soul good. ♥️

Mother’s Day

Four years ago, was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. I still cannot believe she’s gone. Such a longing I still have for her. I guess the heart doesn’t consider age when it comes to the love between a daughter and her mother. It remains the same.

May 7, 2016
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.
My first without my mom.

Can’t say this is easy because it’s not. So many memories we shared, but even more memories that weren’t made because we’ve lived a great distance apart. This is one of my deepest pains in life. We were connected by phone. That was our lifeline. And while we were very close there are many things I wish I knew about my mom.

I have a hundred questions circling my mind. Answers I really should know, but I don’t. You always think there’s plenty of time. But honestly…there just isn’t. If your mom is not with you this Mother’s Day, I understand. I understand your heartache and your emptiness. But if she is here…ask her tomorrow what her favorite flower is or if she prefers sunsets to sunrises. I don’t know these things and I wish I did. And I have so many more questions I’d like to ask her.

But I do know this…my mom loved me and its a blessing that I can still hear her say my name. I remember the softness of her skin and the way she smelled. And the way her laugh lit up the room. My siblings and I, and anyone else present, would join her and we’d tearfully laugh until our stomachs and faces hurt. Nothing in this life was more in important to her than my brother, sister, and me. Of that, I am sure.

My mother loved to drink coffee. Tomorrow, I plan to drink a cup (or two) in her honor. I love and miss her greatly.

This Mother’s Day cherish your mom, whether in person or in spirit. And if she is here, ask what her favorite flower is.

Always be grateful. ♥️

Happy Mother’s Day!

Andi

Photos: 1st-Mom with us kids at the beginning of the Mississippi River, mid 60’s; 2nd-Mom and I at her home in Fredericksburg, MD, mid ‘80’s, as you can tell by my hair; 3rd-my family, Ft. Wayne, IN, late 70’s; 4th-6th-one of the most memorable laughs, ever! It was a fun night after my oldest’s wedding; 7th-mom and I on her 70th birthday in Raleigh, NC; 8th-My beautiful mom on her 70th birthday. She passed away at the young age of 74.

A Happy Place

St. Joseph, Michigan
North Pier Lighthouses

I found this wonderful place in the fall of 2010 and enjoyed it so much that I have shared it with two of my daughters (so far) and with my friend, Chelle. My youngest is anxiously awaiting for our trip which is supposed to be this summer. We will see if it can happen.

This beautiful little touristy town has much to offer. The beach alone, with its amazing sunsets, is enough to warrant a visit. I do know the lake has been quite angry for months now and the Michigan coastline has suffered serious erosion, as has the Illinois coastline, so I am not sure what condition the beach is in now. But the town is quaint and very artsy. There’s a restored carousel near the beach too. Amtrak has a little station there and the tracks go over the channel on a swing bridge. I’ve never seen one before but it fascinates me. Walks on either of the piers are a highlight. Needless to say, my girls have fallen in love with my happy place.

looking toward the beach
indoor carousel on the right
one of many beautiful sunsets

I look forward to going back many more times. It’s just a very good thinking spot as Pooh would say.

I thought I’d share sweet memories with you today. I’m enjoying my coffee as I write. Thank you for joining me.

Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photos: all mine 🙂

Hard Days

I just can’t imagine life being harder than it is this right now, but I know it certainly could be. I don’t know how to handle each day and I’m feeling pretty lost. Crying is as routine anymore as brushing my teeth and washing my hands.

I cannot say that there isn’t something sinister going on in the world currently. I’d like to think that the politicians and big moneymakers are truly compassionate about the people of the world but I’m beginning to have my doubts. Isolation breaks people. It breaks their spirit and their health. I feel mine weakening. There’s so much that doesn’t make sense and my mind just cannot comprehend it all. My heart hurts. I’m lonely. And I’m emotionally exhausted.

I want to fix things and make everything better and I cannot. It’s quite troubling to me. I feel trapped, like a caged animal. I want to get in my car and just go. My energy is fueled by coffee and anxiety as I don’t sleep well lately.

I am aware that God’s blessings still abound. And I am so grateful. I really am. I cannot imagine how much worse I’d feel if I didn’t have Him in my life. I know I need to rely on God even more and this is a challenge for me. Visiting with my residents at work today has lifted my spirits some. They are treasures.

I will pray for you, my friends, and I ask that you pray for me as well. Pray for those who are sick that they be treated properly and with utmost care. Pray for those who are doing the treating.

Thank you for listening to me. I’ll be fine. No worries. I always bounce back like Tigger.

I need another cup of coffee. And a nap would be good right about now.

Always be grateful. Even when life seems bleak. ♥️

Andi

Photo: Amarillis Lily, 2020

Paths of Least Resistance

We often visualize flowing creeks, streams, and rivers when thinking of this idea of “paths of least resistance”. They will move around rocks and earth to find the easiest path to take them on their journey.

We pretty much do the same thing with the many paths traveled in our lives. It’s not necessarily the best thing, but we still do it. We cut corners. We cut time. We avoid. We quit. Anything to make life easier.

My first example is, of course, about me. I believe in one of my first blogs I shared with you about a time in my life, very recently, actually, when I was mad at God. I was angry because I felt I did what was expected of me by God but the situation I was in fell apart anyway. It was disastrous. Regardless, I became angry and I walked away from Him. Granted, I still knew He was there. He continued to bless me in so many ways. I was acting like a child and not speaking to Him, per se. The situation I was in relied on two people to make it work. Not just one. I realized that but still continued to be “mad” at Him. Do you know why? Because being mad at God gave me an excuse to do nothing. It was easy. I didn’t have give Him my time or my energy. I could do what I wanted. My path of least resistance. That went on for a couple of years. Would that have ended well for me? How long before He would have been done with me? He turned His back on His people all through history to teach them lessons. I am glad He gave me the time to figure things out. He surely didn’t have to, but then again, that is why He is an awesome God.

Sometimes, as parents, we follow the path of least resistance in rearing our children. Let’s face it, raising kids is difficult. It is a 24/7 job for 18 years. When we threaten a discipline, we often back out. We threaten and threaten and they repeat, only to get their way because we quit. We are too tired to get up and take the cookie jar away. We pick up all their toys while they watch Barney. We put them in a timeout until they decide when they can get up. We give them treats to stop a tantrum. You understand. We’ve all done it. We’ve followed the path of least resistance to the detriment of our children.

Do we give our all at work? Or do we try to make it look as though we’ve done a thorough job? Do we cut corners? Do we allow a coworker to take blame for our laziness and incompetence? Do we cover up our paths of resistance with lies, excuses, and whiteout?

How about your marriage? Are you giving your all to the one who holds your heart? Do you make that person feel that they are the most special person to you in all the world? Or do you give them minimal time and effort? Do you listen to them? Or better yet, do you hear them? Is your relationship with your phone more important than building and supporting and nurturing your relationship, because marriage certainly does not stop with “I do”. Marriage is a nonstop commitment of working together, of raising each other up, of sacrifice, of loving, and of giving. Don’t follow the path of least resistance in a marriage.

These are just a few examples of how we avoid doing difficult things. And yes, anything of value and everything good, is hard work and truly worth every bit of time and energy spent.

My salvation depended on getting off the path of least resistance. Our children need to learn respect for authority and to realize the world doesn’t cater to their individual desires. Your work ethics demand that you do your job fully and completely because neglect will be most likely be discovered and a career possibly ruined. Your marriage could end in divorce if you continue to avoid the rocks and hills and valleys.

The path of least resistance sounds like the easy way to go, but in the long run, it has devastating and long-lasting affects. Be mindful of the path you are traveling.

Thank you for reading my blogs. I hope you found something of value written here today. Be safe and healthy, my friends. Enjoy the coffee…and always be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Photo credits: first: Mattea, senior photo taken by her brother, Jet, of jetkaiserfilms.com; second: Cataract Falls (lower), November 2019, third: arial view of Maine, October 2019; fourth: Denae, rejoicing on a leaf-laden pathway, fall of 2011

Unraveling

In one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned that I write with me in mind first and foremost. It’s because I need to hear it maybe more so than anyone else. Writing is therapy to me and I typically feel better after writing. But I want you to know something else about me. While I sometimes appear to be this strong woman who has things figured out, I am the furthest thing from that. While I write with determination and conviction, I have great difficulties living it. Tonight, I will be brutally honest. Tonight, my world seems to be falling apart, unraveling. Tonight, I can’t breathe. I’m in all the places I just don’t want to be. And I don’t know how to fix things or make them better. Where do I go from here is weighing heavy on my heart tonight.

All I have ever wanted was a simple life and a close family. Sunday dinners. Frequent gatherings of bonfires and games. Holidays of fun and laughter. But nothing has ever been simple. And complexities keep us from being as close with each other as we once were. I suppose that is only natural. But I don’t have to like it. I was excitedly hoping that my grandkids would grow up around cousins, aunts, and uncles. I wanted them to have what my children did not. The reality is, it’s just not gonna happen. This was my vision, not necessarily theirs. And it hit me hard today. Three of my six children have moved away to start new adventures of their own. My three grandchildren are with them as well. Selfishly, this is an unraveling of my dream.

I want to sell my beautiful home. Financially, I should move. Plus, I don’t need this much space once all the kids leave. I need a place that is more manageable for me to care for. But with all my kids spreading out, I don’t know where to go. Where is home? I feel so absolutely lost. They say that home is where your heart is. Well then, my heart is torn into six pieces.

My hours at work are being cut dramatically. I might even lose my job in health care in a few weeks. Who knows for sure, but I feel I need to plan for that. What do I do? Do I find a place to move and a new job now? I truly don’t know how to handle this. Health care isn’t a surety these days, not even with Covid-19. Not like I thought anyway.

I have so many decisions to make. Big decisions and many little ones. And I am angry that I have to weather this alone. I feel helpless as I watch my life unravel.

As you can see, I am just as human as you are. You have decisions to make and burdens to bear that are just as difficult as mine, only they are yours. You may even have illness or addictions or other things to bear that I do not. We just need to push through these difficult times and do our best and give the rest to God. I once wrote that tomorrow is usually a better day. And if tomorrow isn’t, the next tomorrow will be. I’m holding onto that. I want you to hold onto that as well.

My youngest son and his beautiful little family are moving a long, 14-hour drive from here. We said our goodbyes today. With this sadness, my work schedule being cut, and the chaos in this Covid-19 world, I am overwhelmed, tearful, and somewhat afraid. I just needed to write. Thanks for being here.

Let’s focus on James 1 this week.

Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

PS Just so you know, I am excited for my son and this new phase in his life. I wish him well, and send with him all my love. I just miss my family.

Photo: my photo

James 1

I don’t know about you, but I am greatly troubled with all that is going on in our country. The virus and the political madness, the stresses at work, my personal finances, decisions to be made, indecision, sleepless nights, loneliness…the list goes on and on. I do feel uneasy. I feel unsure. I wonder what is expected of me. I wonder what changes will be thrown at us tomorrow. I wonder why nothing is consistent and or even makes sense. I wonder what is necessary and what truly isn’t. I wonder…

But I do know that God is consistent. He is a solid foundation even in a world of turmoil. I just need to set my worries aside for a few moments so I can read His word. Why is that so hard to do?

I did struggle this past week to sit down with my Bible. I am very easily distracted. I admit that. When I finally opened it up, I thought about which passage I should turn to. I needed something to help me. Something I could meditate on all week long. My first go to book is Philippians, but as soon as I thought of that book, James quickly popped in my head. I thought that was odd and it made me curious, so I turned to James. Where do I turn to in James? I didn’t know, so I started at the beginning.

As I began reading the first chapter of James, a peace came over me as I knew this was the perfect place for me to be. This chapter is packed with wisdom and support.

Below are some of the high points I’d like to share with you.

Verses 5 and 6 made me realize that I often run on my own wisdom rather than seeking His, and that I am like a sea, troubled and stirred up, with many doubts.

I continued…

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial…” verse 12a.

Have I remained steadfast? I have felt beaten and broken, and to the point where I have considered giving up. But I don’t. I come back. Is that considered steadfast? I don’t know. I have a very real human side to me. But I guess that is how He created us. Right? So maybe it’s okay to feel these things without giving up. Finding strength in Him to pull us up and out.

“…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Verses 19, 20

Do I react before thinking? Yes, I still do occasionally. I was much worse in my younger years. Maybe we do mellow as we get older. Still…I need to practice patience. Feelings can be hurt, friendships damaged, and souls lost when we react in haste. You can retract the words later, but you cannot retract the damage done. A reminder to think before speaking or doing.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Verse 22

I desire to be a doer, but am I? It’s easy to hear. It’s easy to verbalize. But do I do? Today is a good day to examine oneself.

These are just a few thoughts to consider from James 1. I hope that this message will give you a little comfort and wisdom for this new week.

Below is a poem I wrote many years ago, but it expresses my feelings today. Maybe you can relate. Just know that there is strength in God and beauty all around us that lifts us from dark places.

WAVES

The waves, swirling, pulling, pushing,
They sweep over me,
They sweep under me,
They trap me and hold me down.

Its darkness swallows me completely,
And I do not know which way to freedom,
Nor which way leads to the pits of hell,
The darkness is so very cold.

Indecision:
One decision can change the lives
of so many,
How is that fair?
How is that kind?

Two choices:
A yes or a no,
Yet, neither are simple,
Although the words are small.

The waves move me about,
Twisting me and turning my body,
As though a dog’s toy,
I am bruised, battered, and beaten.

Most of this, as horrible the reality,
Is surely self-inflicted,
I must control my attitude,
no matter what the circumstance.

By Andi
July 24, 2011

Be grateful. ♥️
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17a

Find peace in this day. ♥️

Andi

Photos: Maine coast , October 2019

Essential

Lately, this word is being tossed around a great deal. That along with quarantine. Two words that rarely touched our lips are now more popular than mac and cheese.

But this morning, I question the very definition of essential. Those who were essential last week have now been moved to nonessential. This makes me question who really is considered essential and who is not. And who makes this judgment call? I didn’t realize that “essentialality” (my new word), was purely regulated by others and not by need. I confess that I am both naive and gullible. And I am bitter this morning. Someone is still bringing home a handsome paycheck at the expense of others who do the work. Although hours are cut, many have the same workload, and still others are now unemployed. There are jobs that could be done, and should be done, but are now found to be nonessential. Ask the person who has heart disease, diabetes, or cancer and can’t get some of the treatments or surgeries they need. Now it comes down to who is nonessential and who is expendable.

Strange things are happening in our world. Things are very much out of whack and without rhyme or reason. We need to start questioning everything presented to us and get out of the Simon says, “jump” mentality. We aren’t circus animals either.

I would apologize for my rant this morning, but I’m not sorry. Watching our country deteriorate should make all of us angry. It should touch our heart and soul. This is our home. We have a responsibility to do the research ourselves and question every single recommendation and policy that is thrown our way. We do have minds, you know? Let’s use them.

I know this situation is new to us and it’s kind of a trial and error thing, but it’s gone on long enough and we need to start fixing things. Essential people should still be essential. And frankly, we are ALL essential. Every single one of us. The US is our home and we all have our own chores to do to keep our household running smoothly. That’s how I look at it.

You can agree with me or not. It’s okay. I don’t pretend to be smart. I don’t pretend to have the answers or the know-how. I am just calling it as I see it.

Find a way to smile today. I will. Be kind and loving. I’m going to rid myself of the bitterness I woke up with this morning. Writing this blog has certainly helped. Being bitter solves nothing.

Drinking coffee is essential to the start of my day. Thanks for joining me. 😊

Always be grateful, even in these complicated, unfair, and confusing times. ♥️

Andi

here’s a beautiful smile for you
-Amber-
(Photo courtesy of Charlie)

A New Day

A New Day

A new day
bright, sunny
enlightening

A new bond
friendship, peace
sharing

A new outlook
hopeful, promise
forgiving

A new view
reminiscent, reflecting
learning

A new dream
excited, youthful,
yearning

A new lifestyle
optimistic, positive
healing

A new heart
grateful, true,
loving

– Andi
March 8, 2015

I hope this day is amazing. Yesterday, I did some things that made life seem “normal” again. It was refreshing to say the least. It gives me hope. Granted, I do not want some of our old normal to return. I hope we are learning well of what to keep and what to discard. Love and cherish the simple, more meaningful things in your day. Life doesn’t have to be busy and complicated to be good. Spend some time outdoors. You don’t have to do anything but watch the clouds or admire the new growth of green everywhere.

Thanks for coming by every day lately. I may take a few days off. Maybe not. But maybe. I appreciate all your visits. I really do.

Remember to be grateful in everything. ♥️

Andi

Photos: my flowers, 2016

Are you kidding me?

I went to the Blue Store two days ago. (That’s what my oldest boys called that particular store when they were very young. Well, it used to be blue back then.) I have to tell you that I was slightly disturbed at the sign in the entryway. It gave directions on how to walk through the store. My initial thought was are you kidding me? As I walked toward the produce section, I noticed long blue signs on the floor with arrows displaying what 6’ of social distancing looks like. Seriously…are you kidding me?

Then I get to an aisle that I need to go down, only to see a red “Do Not Enter” sign on the floor in front of it. I stand there at the end cap, the rebel in me wondering what would happen if I crossed it, and I take a glance down the store. Red and green signs alternating in front of each aisle. What? Am I really seeing this? The rebel is too tired to deal with Blue Store security, so I move away from the aisle that I need to go down, but can’t because it’s red, and I slide down to the next, which is green. At the opposite end of the aisle that I am now entering correctly, I see a woman backing her cart into the aisle because she cannot enter from that end. So she backs in. Sigh…I just want to go home. This is beyond ridiculous.

When I get near the soft drink aisle, I watch a man flip out as a woman turned down his aisle entering from the wrong direction. He freaked out and started yelling at her that she was not to enter from that end. Oh, my gosh…are you freaking kidding me? This is what we’ve come to? She didn’t deserve to be yelled at like that. Remember you are touching things in the store, touching your face, and using that keypad when checking out. He wasn’t wearing a mask, shield, gloves, or gown. If you are that worried, maybe you should just stay home. Frankly, to see a grown man react the way he did, didn’t make me feel good at all.

Somebody pinch me….

I just wanted to find my things and get out of there. As I’m trying to get through the store, without crossing any lines illegally, instead of music playing overhead, I hear a woman’s voice telling us how to social distance ourselves and wash our hands. This is has to be from a sci-fi movie. None of this can be real.

This is just way too much for my little brain to comprehend. Waaayy too much. How did we get to this place of marking walkways in a store? I’m not sure why they didn’t complete the project by lining the walkways with cattle panels. That’s how I felt.

Do not get me wrong. I’m not ridiculing this virus. I have a lot of questions and concerns about it, yes…but I do know that people get sick, and some die. Without getting into the politics of this thing, I am just wondering how (and why) we got to this place of such fear and panic, irrational behavior, marked by the inability for so many to think on their own. These things do not work in our favor, people. They make us weak. Weak is the opposite of strong. We need to be strong as individuals, and as a society. My trip to the Blue Store portrayed weakness to me. Fear and irrational behavior is spreading faster than the virus. Marking walkways causes an underlying fear. This all makes me feel rather uneasy. Maybe I should stay home. It bothers me a great deal to see society breaking down.

I just needed to vent. We all have our own thoughts on this current event. These are mine. Well, I have more, but I’ll stop here. All I want to say is be smart. Don’t lose your head. Instead, use it. Don’t let others think for you because they will mark walkways in grocery stores. Stay calm. Don’t freak out when someone walks toward you. Be strong.

Remember this is only temporary. (We can only hope.) Be mindful of each other. And wash your hands. If you need to know how to do that correctly, I suggest you make a trip to the Blue Store.

Thanks for being here. My door is always open. I think I will switch to decafe today.

Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

“Why are you anxious?”

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

Matthew 6: 28, 29 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Today is hard. We live in trying times. But still we have many reasons to rejoice. God feeds the squirrels and the birds. He waters the flowers, and gives the earth sunshine. He will take care of us as well. Remember that God is still in control. Be thankful for that.

Don’t be anxious. ♥️

Andi

Photos: Queen Anne’s Lace, one of my favorite flowers. Photos taken near my home.

“No, I can’t”

“No, I can’t.” I’ve told myself this a thousand times. “I can’t do this anymore.”

It’s horrible to feel that low. I’ve been in that place many times. I know how it is to feel helpless and alone. It’s very difficult especially when you have the responsibility of a home, and children who rely on you as their leader. And their leader falls apart.

With the changes of today, I can only assume that the number of people saying, “I can’t” has risen. I am sympathetic towards all the challenges that people are now facing as many are losing jobs, businesses are closing, children are schooled at home, and the future is just a huge question mark. My problems are not near as desperate as others, but that doesn’t make mine any less real or unimportant. I still have to figure out ways to handle mine, just as everyone has to deal with their own. And it’s really hard at times.

But the one thing that holds true for me is that tomorrow is almost always better. And if not tomorrow, it’s the next tomorrow. And I rejoice in that day.

It is very important to realize that just the thought of “I can’t” limits the ability to move forward. Negative self-talk depletes our energy and breaks our spirit. Try to focus on the positive. Take one day at a time. Do what you can, but give the rest to the Lord.

I am grateful for the friends who are a support to me, and for those who call to see how I’m doing. No words can express the gratitude I have for them. One of my best friends recently called because I had been quiet. I talked and he listened. Then he talked. He helped me to see that some of my stress is basically self-inflicted. I put unrealistic pressures upon myself for things I have no control over. I appreciate how he handled the conversation. If you feel trapped, talk to someone. Talking can help to sort things out. Sometimes that’s all you need.

I am thankful to God as He always makes a way. He blesses me continually. I know I shouldn’t worry or stress, but I do. I’m afraid of making wrong decisions. I’m fearful of many things. But He never fails.

I hope that you look to God for guidance and strength. Times are too difficult to handle alone. God is bigger and greater than any problem we have. It’s hard to remember that at times but we should keep Him first and foremost in our mind.

Thank you for reading my blogs. I always hope that each blog gives you something to smile about, or inspires you in some way. At the very least, I hope you realize that you are not alone. I appreciate you.

Always always be grateful…♥️

Andi

Photo: top: sunset at People’s Pathway; bottom: sunrise at my home