A Parent’s Happiness

I originally posted this August 22, 2021. I feel it needed to be shared again. ♥️

Words just can’t express the joy that enters the home when a baby arrives. There’s nothing like a baby or two, or even six, to fill a home with love. My first three bundles of joy were born in the hospital. The last three were born at home. Yeah, I’m a trooper like that.

From the moment of conception you become a parent. My daughter-in-law is pregnant with their first child. I watch how she holds her expanding tummy and I love to hear her say how much she loves taking care of her baby. And she is doing just that. She is taking care of her little one. She is a parent. And she will never be anything less.

We spend the next 18+ years nurturing our offspring. We make sure their physical needs are met. That they grow up with healthy attitudes and ideals. We make sure if they don’t know an answer to a question that they know how to find it. We wipe noses, say prayers, sing lullabies, discipline, reward, plant butterfly kisses on sleepy cheeks, play endless boardgames, give them chores, kiss boo-boos, correct their slouching, go to all their ballgames, pray a ton more, teach them respect…ohhhhhh, that list never ends. And with each birthday comes even more challenges and learning processes. (For both parent and child.)

The basic reason for our existence for 20, 30, 40 years is children. And all through those years we’ve laughed with them. We’ve cried with them. Fought for them. Praised them and cheered them on. We watched them have fun with their friends. We saw how sometimes they were treated unfairly. We pay attention to how they treat others. We feel everything they feel.

I recently wrote a blog called Pieces of My Soul and it relates to this post. It’s as though each child receives an actual part of our heart/soul when they come into our world. Well, truthfully they are pieces of us, and with that, we share many things. Feeling their every emotion is part of being a parent.

When a child hits a home run, we feel that excitement as though we were the one holding the bat. And we feel it intensely.

When a child is praised we feel that.
When a child is bullied we feel that as well. When a child makes bad decisions we feel every bit of the repercussions.
When a child is honored we share in that feeling of being lifted up.

So with all this shared emotion, just how happy is a parent?

There is barely a line between us and them. If there’s even a separation at all. And when you have more than one child, it gets even more complicated. That’s a lot of emotion to carry. There is no turn-off valve as a parent or an age when a child no longer owns that portion of your heart.

I had a friend respond to that post Pieces of My Soul. He shared with me something that his father used to say and what he said is exactly the explanation I needed for my own knowledge and for my own peace of mind…that I’m not actually crazy.

A parent is only as happy as his most unhappiest child.

Ready that again.

A parent is only as happy as his most unhappiest child.

One more time.

A parent is only as happy as his most unhappiest child.

TRUTH.

Ask a parent or grandparent if this isn’t so. I believe it to be absolutely true.

There are those who do not understand my ebbs and flows, my ups and downs, or my rhymes and reasons. I always look like one hot mess to them (and I am) and enough so that people try to protect me from hard things. That’s because I appear to be frail and unable to handle stress well.

I’m not frail in the sense of my inability to cope. When you review my past you see that I have survived many things. I think more appropriately I should not be confused with being frail but of one who loves with her whole being. Sensitive. A parent who feels every bit of what her kids feel. A sponge that absorbs all of everything.

When a child suffers from depression, depression becomes a part of us. Same with joy and happiness. We are interwoven. I didn’t even fully understand why I feel the way I do until I read this.

A parent is only as happy as his most unhappiest child.

I cannot be protected from life, nor should I be. This is who I am. If I am unhappy…just maybe I have a struggling child. If I’m ecstatic on another day…just maybe one of my kids received good news. I have six kids. Yes, my emotions might be all over the map. Okay, they are all over the map. My heart is trying to keep up. Add that to all of my own personal experiences and well…yes, I am a hot mess.

I love deeply and with my whole being. I am interconnected and interwoven with the children I bore. I would never chose to be less than that even though my life is tougher because of it.

A parent’s happiness is complicated for sure. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Maybe with this simple understanding, life will be a tad bit easier for all of us.

Just love me for who (how) I am. ♥️

Andi

H.A.L.T.

**this is a revised version of an earlier post.

I read a daily devotion a few days ago. I receive this devotional by email every morning and I scan through it to see if I want to read the whole thing. I read this one on decision making in it’s entirety yet I did not heed it today.

Halt means stop. I did not.

H.A.L.T. is an acronym for many things I discovered. But there is only one which is important to me. This one revolves around decision making. When not to make a decision, to be exact. This acronym is often used during recovery from addiction. If there is a relapse, it is often because one of these was not considered.

Do not make important decisions during a weak moment. These are the four basic red flags of weak moments. Stop to think first.

H = HUNGRY
A = ANGRY
L = LONELY
T = TIRED

If I could add at least one more it would be P = PAIN as this one pertained to me this weekend. I am in a great deal of physical pain. PAIN just doesn’t work with H.A.L.T. although it clearly can cause poor judgment. But I am also very TIRED, mentally and physically.

Evaluate where you are in regards to an important decision. Think about how this decision will work on a good day or even several days from now. How will it affect others in your life?

Think before making a big decision. Definitely wait for a better time if necessary.

A lesson learned once…again. ♥️

Andi

Childhood Reflected in Adulthood

John, my blogger friend, posted something this morning that inspired this post. It’s already been on my mind for such a long time. It’s time to come out.

John has had to overcome so much in his life. From my understanding there was a great amount of family dysfunction in his home and life was less than ideal. He witnessed things that no child should ever have to witness. He watched his mother live in a very dark place of pain. When he lost both parents at a young age, his world went spiraling into his own very dark abyss for years. But…he didn’t remain there. He pulled himself up and is in much better place now although he still struggles at times with who he was and who he is today. He wears his heart on his sleeve, as do I, so I can relate in some respect to his life’s struggles. His past is indeed dark and he acknowledges it. Most importantly he owns it and is conquering it. He doesn’t blame his past or anyone for his life struggles. He owns every bit of it. I don’t know him well, but well enough to say I’m proud of him as if he was my own son.

In my observation through life, very few people have had what I call ideal childhoods. Most seem to have suffered from one dysfunction or another. No family is perfect but I do see now that how we respond to dysfunction makes all the difference in the world. If one or both parents does not handle life well it can filter to the children. I know I did not handle my childhood life dysfunction well which then seeped into my adulthood (and parenthood). And I don’t quite know how to apologize for that.

I realize that more and more how much childhood is reflected in adulthood through my own personal life and in the lives of my six children. Through them I see my “flaws” as a parent. Not that they are flawed, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is I see areas where maybe I didn’t love or encourage them enough. I certainly wasn’t patient enough. I see where they are trying to correct things things on their own now and doing a great job of it. Maybe this happens with every generation. I don’t know. I do know my kids are much stronger than I could ever hope to be.

Be mindful of how you handle life’s difficulties, especially around young, impressionable children. Not that you are going to be perfect at everything but more-so that you try to provide strength, love, and encouragement along with the appropriate tools to teach them how to overcome trials. Apologize when you fail. Let them see the well-roundedness of you as their guide through childhood.

Thanks to my kids for continuing to love me through my weaknesses and my failures, from their youth through today. I never meant to let them down.

Thanks, John, for inspiring me today. ♥️

Andi

Photo: St. Joe, MI, June 2017

Denise

I guess I’ll first clarify the Denise I am referring to. Denise is a popular name in my family. My middle name is Denise. My sister is Denise. I guess we were named after my dad because it’s feminine for Dennis. And as if there weren’t enough Denises in our life, my brother went out and married a Denise. But this post is about one of my dearest friends who is also named…Denise.

I met Denise and her husband, Robin, in 1990. Robin and my now ex were good friends during their college years in Chicago. I hit it off with them right away and we became great friends.

When my kids were young, we’d often drive the four hours to visit them for a nice get-away-weekend. We’d get there late on a Friday night since my husband worked during the day. We’d load up the van with kids…and ourselves, with coffee. When we arrived late in the night, Denise would still have a spread of food laid out for us. Bagel chips and spinach dip were my favorite. Denise may not be 100% Italian, but you’d never know it. She looks Italian. She sounds Italian. She laughs Italian. She has that adorable sassy Italian attitude. (Don’t cross her. 😳) And she expresses her love for you through food like a true Italian woman. We’d always leave on Sundays a few pounds heavier. You know she really loved us. I know I sure love my Italian friend.

Denise would make our time special whenever we visited. She’d have things planned out for us. Places to eat or movies to watch. She would have “popcorn picnics” for the kids which meant popcorn and a movie. The kids loved that time with her.

I enjoyed our conversations. When the kids would be busy playing or in bed for the night, we’d chat until one or both of us would start to fall asleep.

Denise and Robin would come here for an annual fall festival. We’d walk all day long and buy fun stuff or early Christmas presents. We’d eat lunch at the outdoor food court. Since this festival is always in October, the aroma of the variety of food grilling is always out of this world. There’s just something about autumn bonfires, smoke, and grilling. We’d eat and then walk some more. I’d have to be careful not to point something out and say I like that, because somehow it would end up in our car. It was so much fun though. I miss those days.

Good memories.

We helped each other through hard times and celebrated together, the good ones. She was always there. And still is.

After my divorce, she and her husband felt they had no choice but to choose a side. They chose me.

A couple of years ago, they knew I was really struggling. So they surprised me by driving all the way down here for lunch. A four hour drive. FOR LUNCH. We went to a Mexican restaurant. It was a great visit. Little did I know they also had groceries for me and the kids. Lots of groceries. And then they drove the four hours back home. That’s what you call true friends.

Denise has been in my life for 32 years now. Half my life. I can’t imagine life without her.

They say if you have 2-3 lifetime friends you are lucky. Well, I am more than lucky. I am blessed. ♥️

Andi

Psalm 118:24

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

It’s a beautiful day. Give thanks to our Most High for what you haven’t expected but received! ~Napz Cherub Pellazo

You will be blessed the moment you realize you already are. ~Bryant Mcgill

Be grateful for this day and for God’s blessings. He has given us so very much. ♥️

Andi

Photos: 1) sunset, courtesy of my friend, Angie P.; 2) my sunrise

Would I?

Would I never love again because I might lose that person?

Would I never have another dog because losing them hurts so much?

Whether loss is through death or someone’s decision to walk away, the pain is horrific. But a life lived without love carries a pain all it’s own.

So I will keep on loving. Because loving equals living. ♥️

Andi

Photos: Sunrise this morning; my sweet girl, Nyx

Feel the Real

With the death of so many lately, and most recently, of my daughter’s beloved dog, Amber, grief has become very real. Not surreal, which is dreamlike. More like a bad dream, or even a nightmare.

When I was grieving, my youngest son, Zeke, told me to let myself feel everything. He told me there’s nothing wrong in that and it’s part of healing. He should know as he has lived through the absolute worst year and a half of his life. So I listened. I did not bury my grief nor did I stifle it.

Feel the real.

I spent several days crying, writing, and printing copies of what I wrote. I know that I will soon forget details and I want to remember. I need to remember. I went through thousands of pictures and had some printed. I made a music playlist. I let myself feel every single emotion. Anger, sadness, pain, love, happiness, failure, gratitude, confusion, joy. I allowed it all to smother me.

On a few of those days I thought my heart might burst. I thought my eyes would forever be red and swollen. I thought maybe I might not ever recover and if I did, would it change me as a person?

I made it through the toughest part although what does it mean to recover? How does one completely recover from the pain of death? You don’t. But that’s okay. It will always be with you. Grieving definitely revealed to me my own mishandling of the past, so maybe it has grounded me. Perhaps I might be a better person.

I felt the real. It was both painful and cleansing. It was necessary and I am glad I allowed myself to feel it all. I still feel it now, but the dagger strikes my heart only periodically.

There is no shame in feeling. There is no shame in grieving. Or, in tears. There is shame in not learning, growing, or forgiving.

Grief is the most unwanted part of life. Regardless, it is a part of life. We can fight it all we want but that only adds resentment and pain to our life. That’s why we need to make sure we make every minute on this earth count toward something good. It minimizes regret later.

Be grateful for every second of life. And let others know just how much they mean to you every chance you get. There is no shame in that either.

Live like there’s no tomorrow. ♥️

Andi

Photos: Charlie and Amber🎚;Taylor🎚 and Chelle🎚; Dad🎚and me in Italy

Depressed or Depression?

Depression is a very real thing. It’s something that is hard to see or understand. It often runs deep and dark. It can be disguised by laughter or hidden by an outward appearance of happiness. Listening to what someone is not saying is probably key to recognizing depression.

I do not live in that darkness although I think some have wondered about me. What I am is a person who thinks deeply and feels everything intensely. I carry the woes of this earth on my shoulders and in my heart. I am a healer of sorts without the ability to heal everything. I am often unable to fix things in my own life so I feel trapped. Caged. I may have moments or days where I feel depressed but my life is not grounded in depression.

My life is quiet, subdued. Boring, actually. But my mind is not. My mind is adventurous. It is daring, challenging, motivating. It is always questioning and forever dreaming. It’s filled with what if’s and possibility. It is also stifling, fearful, and conflicting. Maybe this is due to being a Gemini and the twins rarely, if ever, agree on anything.

Being deep in thought is serious business to me. I might be thinking of a situation I could have handled better. Or maybe how I need to handle a current situation. I could be taking mental notes of something I need to write about. That happens more often than not. I get quiet. My face and jaw are often tense. I tune people out sometimes. Not intentionally though. I’m just buried in thought not depression.

There is a difference in depression and being depressed. We all get down at times. Life isn’t fair. We feel cheated and often we are. Loved ones are taken from us. Someone else gets the promotion we were counting on. Friends leave on a misunderstanding. A divorce that caught us off guard. Gas is 5 cents cheaper two miles down the road than where we just filled our tank. Life is not fair. And sometimes we feel buried beneath all the unfairness. It’s why we need Jesus who gives us hope of a better place. A place of fairness. Heaven.

Listen intently to those closest to you. Listen with your heart because not everything is audible to your ears. Being depressed fluctuates with the ebb and flows of life. Depression is deeper and much harder to recognize. We are simply passing through this life to something better if we cling to Jesus as our Savior. We need to lean on His promise, and onto each other. ♥️

Andi

My Morning

I woke at 6:00 on my day off. I guess it’s okay to stay on schedule. But I didn’t get out of bed until after 8:00. I write a lot in bed so it was time worth spent. But then I had to get up. Now I’m sore.

I opened my blinds and it was a breathtaking glow. I let Nyx outside, slipped on my boots and grabbed my phone. Wearing only my jammies and boots, I ventured out into the 3 degrees morning.

My mind is heavy but the crispness of my breath and the sight before my eyes lifted my spirit. Nature has a way of doing that for me.

I praise God for such a gift. He knew exactly what He was doing in His design of the earth. He knew that nature would bring us great pleasure. But He also knew it would be a place of peace and solace.

And for that I am forever grateful. ♥️

Andi

If I Could, I Would

If I could talk to my younger self, I would make that young girl understand just how short life really is. I’d tell her that every minute of every day counts for, or against, something.

I’d insist that she be true to others but especially to herself, and not to worry so much about what others think about her. I’d instruct her to be faithful to God and serve Him, even when life hurls meanness and confusion her way. I’d tell her to make better decisions and think of the consequences before committing to anything, or anyone.

I’d be adamant that she be a better listener, a better mom, a better friend, to love even deeper, to serve others, and live life more compassionately…and with far less judgment.

And I would tell that girl to dream bigger and work harder to make her dreams reality. I’d want her write more often and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

And lastly, I would insist that she not compromise or settle for less than who she is, or what she deserves.

These are just a few things I’d share with her. I would hope she’d listen.

What would you tell your younger self?

Andi ♥️

Things Familiar

I never understood how people could say that they are ready to die. Working in long-term health care I heard that a few times. You’ve heard it in movies and read it in books. But how can they say that? How can they feel that way? I always felt there was just too much life here for anyone to want to leave. So it was beyond my comprehension.

I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2021. I was a little timid though about stepping foot into 2022. My hopes were that it would be easier than 2021 and 2020. But this new year started in grief. Much grief.

Now I am beginning to understand more clearly.

As we age, the things that were familiar throughout our life change, leave, or die. So this makes leaving easier and staying, harder.

Tonight, I stood out on my deck and I thought of Amber. She would slowly walk around the yard like Eeyore and graze. I remember how much she loved the snow. Then I thought of Herc and Jazz. The three amigos are gone now.

As I looked around my yard, in my mind I saw Chelle by the bonfire, and Taylor kneeling on the porch with the kids. Both are gone. And both treasures to me.

It’s coming up on a year that Dad passed, and Mom died a few short years before him. These four people were so very important to me. I can’t even put into words…

I understand now.

Things familiar.

When things/ situations/ people begin to change or leave, your world becomes a tad bit smaller and a whole lot lonelier. I understand now.

Cherish your youthful years and fill your life with much living, laughing, and loving. Make every single day count. And be ever so grateful for things familiar. ♥️

Andi

Charlie & Amber: The Tale of Two Hearts That Beat as One

Born September 16, 2007, Amber had a destiny. Her destiny was Charlie.

We brought her home after choosing her from a litter of wild, dirty boys. Amber was lighter in color, as the boys were more like an Irish setter in color and less of my idea of what a golden retriever should look like. She came to us, sat at our feet, and melted our hearts. She was going to be the most perfect gift for our daughter, Charlie.

She sat on my lap on the drive home. And truthfully, she was a muddy, smelly mess like her brothers. On our way home, I called our oldest daughter to get ready to bathe her. This little pup needed to be perfect when we surprised Charlie.

Denae bathed that little girl 4 times to get all the mud and whatever else off of her. Denae then dried her off and wow…what a beautiful pup.

We had told Charlie she could have a golden retriever when she turned twelve. We kept that promise even though it was several days after her November 10th birthday. Our Christmas tree was up and this little pup fit nicely under it. We called Charlie to come upstairs and well…that was the beginning of a beautiful fairy tale. A tale of a little girl and a golden retriever named Amber.

Charlie and Amber somehow magically morphed into a single being. Their hearts beat the same beat. They knew what the other felt and thought. They were incomplete, lost, if separated. Never have I ever witnessed such a connection between a person and their dog. It was unique and unexplainable. It was beautiful.

I can barely recall life before Amber. It seems like she’s always been a part of our family. She was always a part of Charlie. Today, though, was the day. The day one had to let the other go. It wasn’t what either would voluntarily choose. You know…for one to walk this life without the other. But there really was no choice.

I’ve cried a lot today. I cried for my daughter who lost her best friend. As a mom, I want to make everything better. I want to be a pillar of strength and guidance and protection for my children. But the family dynamics changes as life goes on and the children grow up. And I’m not so good with change even though I know it’s necessary. I want to remove the grief that has ripped through my daughter’s heart like a dagger. But I cannot. It’s something that she has to work through herself as I have had to do on numerous occasions on my own.

My tears were shed because Amber was truly a remarkable dog. She was the kindest and smartest dog I have ever known in all of my sixty years. She carried my daughter through the best and the absolute worst days of her life. Charlie was blessed to have had Amber for over half her life.

Amber wore an endless smile. And, yes, dogs smile. She was happy in life and beyond happy to belong to Charlie. Whenever Amber greeted you, she first had to find a gift for you. It could be a leaf, an empty water bottle, a toy, a long piece of lawnscaping trim that she readily ripped up out of the earth, a piece of trash, a shoe, a sock, even a pair of underwear she gifted my son, Jet.

Charlie taught her many tricks. Amber could do the army crawl. She would sit up tall and fall still to the ground when you shot her with your finger gun. Charlie taught her to Eskimo kiss too, a trick that Amber didn’t particularly like to do so much. She did it perfectly once when Charlie had a really bad day. And then she did it today.

I could talk forever about this dog. Well, maybe not forever, but at least fourteen years worth. She was comical and bright. Once there was a rooster that came onto our property strutting his stuff for the ladies when he had a face off with Amber. She watched him as he yelled at her and flapped his wings to make himself look big and scary while the hens rushed to take cover behind a bush. One by one you’d see their heads peek around the edge of the bush to watch their man confront Amber. But Amber had no interest in hurting him. She was just amused.

I could talk about her feet. The cutest dog feet in all the world. Or her smile which was absolutely contagious. She was motherly to the other dogs and animals and a friend to humans. She was the best of the best.

I know this will be one of the hardest nights ever for my daughter. I know she feels the greatest of all pain. That of loneliness and of loss. But Amber taught Charlie so many life lessons that she will live on forever in every memory and in every beat of Charlie’s heart.

A tale of two hearts that beat as one. The most precious of all fairy tales and I was blessed to witness it from the beginning to its end. Disney couldn’t hold a candle to this true life story.

Amber is missed so much already. She was a huge presence in our family. Amber was one of our family. The greatest dog ever. ♥️

Andi

September 16, 2007 – January 24, 2022

The Backside of Valentine’s Day

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you might recall that I worked for a florist for seven years. For those of you who don’t know, this wasn’t your ordinary flower shop. It was a unique gift shop as well. Ours was the only floral shop in town and the gifts were unique from your big name stores.

design room

prepping flowers and greenery

The store was divided into several areas. In the very back was a storage/ work area. Then the design room where beautiful arrangements were made. Coming up toward the front was an area for prepping flowers, order taking, an area for seasonal events and sorority gifts, and a walk-in cooler. Then there was the store front which was very large and divided into two sections. One area was designated for plants and plant care. The other was where gift items were on display.

plant room

plant work station

And along the back wall was a huge cooler from the 1940’s. This is where we’d display a variety of floral arrangements. That old cooler made the holidays even more special when it displayed extravagant holiday arrangements.

in front of the 1940’s cooler

The floral displays for Christmas and Valentines were my favorite. But I must say that Valentine’s and Mother’s Day were the hardest holidays for me to work. In fact, I grew to not care for those two special days. They are the biggest flower days of the year.

a Valentine arrangement

a Christmas design

Today I’m writing about Valentine’s Day which is coming up soon. This is my least favorite holiday/ special day of all. The floral arrangements that were designed in the back design room where absolutely some of the most beautiful arrangements you’ve ever seen, but the volume of work involved was demanding. Those three weeks or so were a combination of long, hard days and late nights. Throw in weddings and funerals and it was beyond crazy.

Men would call or come in to choose an arrangement to have sent to their love on Valentine’s. They may have included some of our boxed chocolates, a stuffed bear, or a scarf. We had lots of gift selections.

While it appears that Valentine’s is a fun, happy day on the front side, I will tell you my thoughts from viewing the backside of Valentine’s Day.

It was my job to take orders in person, over the phone, or online. Some men knew exactly what they wanted and were eager to spend the money. Some didn’t have a clue what to do or where to start. Still others felt pressured. They bought because it was expected. The idea that they’d end up in the doghouse was mentioned to me numerous times throughout the weeks leading up to that day.

Valentine arrangements

Some men didn’t have much money to spend, but spent anyway. I could feel the pressure placed upon these guys and felt sorry for them. It is as though Valentine’s is the most important day of the year for a man to express his love. Or, for a woman to believe she is loved.

It is disheartening that money-makers place such high value on Valentine’s Day. A way to fill pockets between Christmas and Mother’s Day. Men are pressured to feel they must recognize their significant other on this particular day. It’s not typically the other way around. Marketing this day as another woman’s day is where the money is made. Diamonds, roses, candy, dinner…

a full cooler waiting for delivery

I’m not better nor am I worse than other woman, but maybe with age I see the world slightly different now. Less materialistic. I’d prefer to be shown love and affection in a million other simplistic ways 365 days a year. Just spend time with me.

The backside of Valentine’s Day is pretty much all I see surrounding this day. The pressure placed on men was evident the seven Valentines I worked in the floral shop. Don’t get me wrong, we had many happy customers. But I did feel for those who felt pressured. And there were plenty. Enough for me to question (and dislike) this holiday.

Men and women do not often think alike. We express and receive love differently. Maybe the best Valentine’s gift would be to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Take the quiz. Figure it out. And then simply love each other.

I know this post was lengthy but I finally got it out after all these years. The last Valentine’s I worked was in 2018 and after four years, I still feel the same. It is a day I would love to erase from the calendar. A high-dollar day that is pretty much worthless in my eyes.

Valentine’s Day will arrive whether I like it or not. It’s not the end of the world. Just be grateful for the love you have in your life. And nurture that love every.single.day. ♥️

Andi

Being Stuck

“Just be glad you’re not a tree.”

My father once said this to me. I thought it was silly. I was complaining about a situation where I felt stuck and his point was that I wasn’t stuck.

A tree is bound by its roots. Stuck exactly where it is planted; no matter what weather assaults it; no matter what new buildings crowd out its sunlight; no matter what drought parches its leaves.

A person has roots but they’re not binding. When a person is surrounded by a hostile environment, he can defend himself. When a person is cut off from light and warmth, she can move to a sunnier spot. When water is lacking in one place, we can find an oasis.

I am glad I’m not a tree. I am grateful for the power to choose my surroundings and my companions.

This week I will examine my environment, and where there is turbulence, I will seek calm; where there is darkness, I will seek light; and where there is drought, I will seek nourishment.

I am praying for a week of growth, of positivity, and of gratitude. A week that is filled with love and laughter. ♥️

Andi

Preparing

Time is ticking. And the older I get the faster that ole’ clock spins.

I think the best years of my life were between the ages of 30 and 55. Maybe that’s how it is with everyone. You have kind of settled down by then. Maybe you have your own home and are raising a family. Your kids are on little league. There are a summer camping trips. Fishing. Sledding. Trick or Treating. You feel pretty good, mentally and physically. You are strong. And you appreciate all that you have because you’ve worked for it.

Now that I’m pushing 61, I find that my life has changed dramatically and I find myself preparing. It feels sorta like nesting. You know…like a new momma when she has this amazing burst of energy to clean and pack and get everything ready for the arrival of her new little one. That’s kind of the mode I’m in, only mine is in preparation of my departure. It’s not something I’m choosing to do. It just kind of come upon me all on it’s own.

I look at things around my house. I remember Terry’s Village and a few other catalogs that filled my house with stuff. What a thrill it was make my house a comfortable home for my husband and children. Chelle and I had so much fun shopping through catalogs for hours on end. Looking back is much more comforting than looking forward.

Now I look around my home and questions fill my head. Who would want this? Will they fight over that? Will this find its way to a shelf in GoodWill, or sold in a garage sale. Maybe it will end up of my driveway. Who knows. What is treasured by me isn’t necessarily treasured by others.

Life is short.

I’m not suggesting that my departure is soon. But we really don’t know, do we? I have another friend lying on his deathbed today. I texted him goodbye. He’s a couple years younger than me. We do not know.

I will continue to prepare I suppose. It’s what my heart is telling me to do and I want things simplified for my kids. You look at everything differently from this new angle in life. But it’s a part of life. Just know, I’m not intending to leave anytime soon. I’m just preparing.

Cherish life. It is so precious. ♥️

Andi

Hear Me Whisper

Just sharing a poem I wrote almost a decade ago and just found tonight as I was going through my old laptop.

Hear me whisper…

with your first awakened thoughts
when the house is yet quiet and still
and your heart begins to stir within

when you sip your first morning coffee
as the steam moistens your lips
and the warmth calms your body

Hear me whisper…

as the sun shines upon your face
and makes you pause for just a second
to take it all in

and when you are all alone
wondering where I am, what I’m doing,
and if I still care

Hear me whisper…

when you are in a crowded room
and conversation just isn’t quite as interesting
as the conversation between storybook lovers

when snowflakes melt upon your eyelashes
and water refreshes your skin
and the autumn breeze kisses your cheek

Hear me whisper, my love…

at the close of day
when the lights go out and your body shuts down
and your last thoughts of love fade into darkness

I am everywhere and in everything. I am all the time and I am any time. I am in the sky and in the earth and everything in-between. I surround you.

Hear me whisper….I love you.

By Andi
October 29, 2013

Photos: lavender roses, my favorite rose

Psalm 141

Our world changed very fast in the last two years. I believe it’s slowly been edging towards this for a long time, but once it came together, wow…life as we knew it was gone. Shattered, dismantled, broken.

How have we held up mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? The world, the WHOLE world, changed so quickly. Were we able to keep up? Suicide and depression, along with drug overdoses are at an all-time high. I know I’ve had a harder time with focus and direction.

Life is pretty confusing right now. Actually, it’s infuriating when you think of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of the elite over the last two years that have ruined and destroyed the lives of so many. Not one of us has come out unscathed. All of this is under the guise of control. And sadly, it’s not over.

But regardless, God is still the One and Only in control. And in Him we need to seek wisdom, strength, and refuge.

Psalm 141

1 O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!

2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!

5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.

7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; In you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!

9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers!

10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.

It might be difficult to stay focused on spiritual things when our physical lives are attacked daily from multiple angles and forces. Yet, we need to do our best to stay grounded in God. He is our refuge. He is our comfort. Gather with like-minded people to pull positive strength from each other. Praise God that He reigns above all powers on this earth and be grateful that He loves us. ♥️

Andi

Photo: internet

Charles

I had another reminder yesterday to never put off what I should do. I’m not sure why this was such a difficult task for me. And truthfully, I shouldn’t even refer to it as a task. It should be considered a mission of love.

I met Charles in 2020 in a long term health care facility. I was working there and he was a resident. Charles and I talked quit a bit as we just sorta clicked. When I first got to work, I’d run down to his room and wish him a good day. Then he would ask me when I’d be back to see him. I tried to give him times when I was pretty certain that I could see him. And he held me to it. “Where ya been?” He’d question me sternly if I was late and scold me if I showed up the next day.

Charles had very poor eyesight. I would get close enough to where he could see a fuzzy me. Maybe it was my crazy hair. Of course, at that time I also wore a mask. But he knew my name and my voice.

He would tell me stories of his life. His life was difficult back in the day when he was young and growing up out west. His mother chose to keep his younger brother and sent Charles away. At age 13 he was living in unspeakable conditions and had to grow up very fast. He also told me of his time as a bellhop when a famous actor gave him money to buy lingerie for the girlfriend he brought to the hotel. And Charles did that for him.

Charles had a great sense of humor and would tell me jokes too. He’d try to remember one for every day. Charles would beg me to stay when I visited but, of course, I could not. So many others, just like him, needed one-on-one attention during the frequent lockdowns of 2020.

Charles was a bright light in my day though. One day I was in his room along with his therapist. Charles asked if I was divorced. I said that I was. He asked if I would like to get married again. I said yes. He told the therapist that I said yes. I laughed and asked him if he just proposed to me. And he chuckled a yes.

Charles wanted to talk more about the proposal but I told him I’d have to come back. One of the housekeeping staff ran into me later and told me he’s telling everyone about the wedding and that I needed to get down there and speak with him. My coworker laughed as she told me that he wants a football theme wedding with a football-shaped cake. She also told me Charles said I would have to stay around until he “kicks off”. Then we both had a good laugh.

So I went to talk to him. We joked about the football themed wedding and that I have to stick around until he kicks off. We certainly had a good time that day.

On another visit, Charles told me he was going home soon to live with his granddaughter. He said he wanted me to take care of him there and offered me free room and board and so much money per month. Oh, and I would have to take him out to breakfast once in awhile. Then he said, “And, oh yeah…you have to watch me 24 hours a day.” He laughed and said he needs to be watched. He told me where his house is and I reassured him I’d visit him there.

Well, life changed quickly and in a big way for me concerning my employment there. I had to leave and was unable to say goodbye to anyone. (I posted a blog a year or so ago about that situation.) Prior to that, I knew that Charles was scheduled to go home.

Well, I never made it to see Charles although I thought of it many, many times. Good intentions. Charles died this past week at the age of 92. My heart sank when I saw his name in the paper. Did he wonder why I never visited him again? I will never know. Another regret.

Life is sacred. And oh, so very fragile. It was wrong not keep my word. How many people must I lose before I get it?

Do not push off what could be precious moments until tomorrow or wait for a more convenient time. Death does not care about convenience. Keep your word. Say you’re sorry. And let people know you love and care for them. Honestly, what else truly matters in this life?

Learning. Constantly learning. Perfecting our hearts as we go. That should be our objective. To better oneself. ♥️

Andi

Don’t Wait

Don’t wait til tomorrow
To share your heart;
Don’t wait til the sorrow
Finds it’s place to start.

If you have something important to share with someone, don’t wait. An I love you or an I’m sorry carry much weight in life if left unsaid. So, say it. We are not promised tomorrow. We aren’t even promised that we will make it through this day.

I love many people and I will tell them so. I don’t want anyone in my life to wonder what they mean to me. Not that I’m anyone special. I’m just someone. But I believe it’s good for the soul to hear “I love you” and to know that you are loved.

Sorrow shows no mercy. And it can strike quite unexpectedly. Often sorrow is riddled with regret. Regret is a nightmare to live with. I know.

I love you.

Yes, those three words are overused and abused. But they are also extremely powerful.

Tell someone today, and mean it. Then tell someone else. Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait. ♥️

Andi

i wonder

i walk down a wintery path
in silence i reflect
on the many lives i’ve lived
and of the many hats i’ve worn
…and i wonder
how do i feel about it all?

i look upward into a snowy sky
i enjoy the touch of snowflakes upon my lashes and upon my cheek
and for that moment, i am a little girl of nine
when my dreams of a storybook love first began
…and i wonder
how do i feel about it all?

my head spins as i travel
through the many years
of happy moments
and of the saddest of times
of now realizing the true meaning of lonely
and of knowing the true meaning of love.

sitting in my gazebo, i listen to the silence of the snow
which is broken only by a heavy beat of a scarred heart
and a breath that freezes from my lips
and i realize the fragility of the human spirit
and how that sometimes (many times)
life just isn’t fair.

i walk the wintery path toward home
and i’m met by my delightful offspring
who’ve only just begun their earthly journey
how can i teach them of love and of heartbreak
…when i wonder
how do i feel about it all?

By Andi
January 19, 2013

Photos: a walk on a snowy path near me; my gazebo

New Year’s Eve

Another ending to another year. Besides last year, I don’t think I’ve hated any other year as much as this one. Come to think about it: 2020/2021 = one freakishly long year.

Looking back there are beautiful highlights in the dark places I had to visit. My dear friend provided me a place of comfort during the darkest days of my dad’s passing in Florida. I will never ever forget his kindness and generosity. I met Carlos at the B&B in Florida and his friendship and compassion during that sad time is something I will always cherish. I spent quality time in the Florida sun with my brother and sister who I hadn’t seen for a few years.

I got to know my dad’s wife better and met Dad’s many friends at the Italian bakery.

I spent time away to visit with friends for a birthday party. And time with the lovely Amanda, my friend’s daughter.

I had an awesome 60th birthday party in Chicago at my daughter’s home. I have treasured moments with my grandkids. A drive to and from Florida late this year with my daughter, Charlie, who is the best travel companion.

I saw the goodness of my coworkers and friends who helped me during a time of need.

My beautiful granddaughter, Juneau, was born.

So there are several other bright spots in this dark year. I am blessed.

Fact is though, this world is changing. It’s changing inside my little circle and it’s changing on the outside in extreme ways. I’m struggling to keep up and to know what is expected of me and exactly where I belong. I imagine we all have been faced with tragedy, confusion, hardship, and difficult decision making over the past two years. And things need to change. People are not expendable. The challenges of today are unacceptable. Life and livelihood need to be protected.

I am ready to kick 2021 to the curb yet I do not want to leave Dad and Taylor behind. I guess in this new world we live in everyone has lost someone or something. And it’s hard to let go, say goodbye, come to terms with, and move on. New Year’s Eve is always such mix of emotion for me, and I’m usually a hot mess. As I am today.

I do have some positive ideas for 2022 and I hope I can make them come true. I will work diligently to do so. I challenge you to make positive resolutions other than just losing weight. Reach higher. Let’s pray that this new year holds much promise of better things to come.

2022 = the year of promise.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of New Years. ♥️

Andi

Looking Back

Looking back at our past is normal. Granted, there are things back there we’d rather just forget. Regardless, they are our history and an influencer of who we are today. Good and bad memories. Lessons learned. And lessons that still need to be learned.

Looking back can be hard. Especially when the scene is wrapped in love. The hardest of life’s lessons are those seeded in love but cultivated in indecision and fear. It doesn’t typically end well. But still…love remains. That’s the most difficult part of looking back…wondering why we made the decisions we did.

Sometimes life keeps us so busy we don’t have time to look back. Often it’s not until we come across a certain fragrance, a name, a shared love song, a familiar sounding voice, or a tragedy that sends our heart racing back in time.

Such is today.

Do things today that won’t make you cry tomorrow. ♥️

Andi

In sweet, loving memory of F. Taylor Burton
August 5, 1965 – December 17, 2021

John 3:16

I personally do not observe Christmas so much as a religious holiday as a fun family holiday. Not that I don’t acknowledge that Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger, because I do believe, and am beyond grateful that He came to us. But we were never given a date (by Him) in which to honor His birth. If the date was of great importance to Him, He would have made it known to us.

Salvation came to us through Jesus’ death and we pretty much know when His death occurred. Yes, He had to be born. And I do recognize that. If I choose to celebrate His birth on December 25th, okay. If I choose a date in September (early fall might be more accurate), that’s okay too. If I choose to not observe a particular birthdate that is absolutely okay. It is His death that is to be remembered and honored.

The fact remains that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us. Jesus left His Father’s side to come to us in human form and walk this earth among men. Jesus taught us. He healed us. He warned us. He cried for us. He rebuked us. He pleaded for us and He died a cruel death for us. Jesus is the perfect example of love.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. It is packed with love and promise. And it gives us hope.

Celebrate the wonderful birth of Christ but don’t leave Him in the manger. Focus on His teachings…and on His death, burial, and resurrection because that was the sole purpose for His birth. And that is where we find salvation.

Merry Christmas Eve! ♥️

Andi

Photo: my mom’s old nativity

Bound by Time

We have this invisible chain around us called time. We are truly bound by it. Time tells us when to get up, work, exercise, pay bills, pay taxes, take our meds, go to bed, etc.

We truly have no concept of what eternity is. It is not bound by time. It is continual, never ending. Our human mind cannot truly grasp what forever means.

Heaven and Hell are designed to last an eternity. Time has no hold upon them. There are no boundaries or endings. No breaks or timeouts. Only a beginning. And we need to be prepared for that. Once we are on one of those paths, it can never be changed. Which is fine IF we are in Heaven’s eternity.

Living with constant stopping and starting is difficult with all of life’s demands, but we need to find the time to reflect on just where we are headed for our end journey. It is exhausting, this life we live. I agree. And it’s so hard not to get caught up in worldly matters. Even though, we need to stay focused on the bigger picture. That being eternity.

In this life we are most definitely bound by time. Hours, days, weeks, and years….even those milliseconds count. Using our time wisely is what matters most, while focusing on eternity.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the key to eternity in Heaven where time no longer exists. I encourage you to seek Him. Not only the precious baby lying in a manger, but the Man who walked this earth and taught us how to live. The sinless Man who died in our stead.

Have a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing coffee with me today. Be grateful. ♥️

Andi

The Original Klondike Bar

When I was growing up, on December 19th we would get our Christmas tree. Dad would set it up in the garage for a day or two to let the branches relax. That was such a long wait for us three little people!

But now for the past seven December 19th’s, I’ve eaten a Klondike bar. If you’ve never had one you’ve missed out. You should put it on your Bucket List.

My mom loved Klondike bars. (And Peanut Buster parfaits from Dairy Queen.) She passed away in August of 2015 and today she would have been 81. Today is her birthday and I celebrated by eating a Klondike bar. The original Klondike bar.

I have been looking through old family photos. I ran across this one of mom sitting on the curb with her girlfriends. When I think of Mom, I think of her in roles as mom and grandma. We tend to think our parents and grandparents as always “old”.

my mom is in the middle

But when I look at this picture I see a girl in her mid-teens with fun in her eyes, dreams in her heart, and the world at her feet. She was more than a mom and grandma. She was her own person too, unique and beautiful in design.

Happy Birthday to my precious mom. I cherish you still…every.single.day. And I miss you so very much.

As you would write in every one of our cards You are always in my heart…you are forever in mine, Mom. ♥️

Andi

The Warm & Fuzzy of Love

When you were young you may have fallen in and out of love often. As a young girl, I was in and out of love a lot. Probably daily. My hands were my love meters in school. Oh, how they would sweat when I was near someone I loved. And forget trying to talk to that boy. Nothing came out coherent. Much of my young years were spent being in love with singers and actors. I love John Denver. Bobby Sherman. Donny Osmond. David Cassidy. Mitch Vogel. No, Greg Brady. Wait, no…I love Mike from the Monkees. If someone made me feel warm and fuzzy, I was in love.

Love. Maybe we abuse that word just a little.

I suppose even today as an adult, we look for that feeling of warm and fuzzy when we attach love to that special person in our life. We base much of our life on feelings. While a feeling might be what draws us together in the first place, often it fades. While that warm and fuzzy is really great, love goes far beyond a feeling.

I ran across this quote and I have to agree. And I think if we spent less time looking at love as a feeling and more as a decision, relationships and marriages would last a lifetime. Of course, it takes both to be on the same page.

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.” ― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

If your committed decision to love someone is packaged in the warm and fuzzy, you have hit the jackpot. But maybe though, that feeling comes automatically with the decision, promise, and devotion to love that particular person. I think perhaps it does.

My dad told me several years ago that at this age you won’t find that warm fuzzy feeling. He said it just doesn’t happen anymore. But I still believe that’s it’s possible in a beautifully committed relationship because you are finally at peace…and peace in your heart is pretty darn warm and fuzzy.

But then again…I am a romantic at heart. And a dreamer. And I have hope.

Wishing you a beautiful day. Be that someone’s warm and fuzzy. What a wonderful world we’d live in if the very foundation of society (home/ family) was sealed in true love. ♥️

Andi

Not Your Ordinary Flower Shop

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a family had a vision and that vision became a flower shop. It began in 1908 and was family owned for three generations before it was sold in 2011. Sadly, it closed in February 2020. It served the community for almost 112 years.

I had the opportunity (and honor) to work there for seven years. I left one year before it closed its doors forever. I started in design and then moved to the front of the store. I was plant coordinator and worked in customer service, taking phone and internet orders, and of course, much one-on-one with in-store customers.

It was a unique flower shop because it offered so much more than flowers. There were gifts and gourmet food items, plants, chocolates and candy…it was a special place for sure.

Everyday was beautiful in the flower shop. The decor was always picture perfect. But there was one time of the year that stood out from all the others. And that was Christmas. It was magical indeed.

We worked hard to put it all together. My boss was blessed with great insight and an eye for detail. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

I am not the only one who misses that shop. Many people in the community miss it too. By this time of the year we would have been done with our wreathing. Many businesses all over town would sport beautiful fresh evergreen wreaths with bright red bows. Orders for Christmas arrangements would be stacking up by now. Sales and specials and new merchandise kept us on our toes but a visit from Santa was always welcomed. It certainly was a busy, but most wonderful, time of the year.

I hope you have pleasant memories to reflect upon that make you feel warm and fuzzy. Like how I feel when I look back at these pictures.

Have a blessed day. Enjoy the holiday season and make beautiful memories. ♥️

Andi

The Magic of Santa; The Truth of Christ

Whether you choose to include Santa in your Christmas holiday or not is totally up to you and totally fine either way. In my opinion.

No matter who you are I’m quite certain you feel the magic in the air, if only just a smidgen.

Make-believe is certainly a huge part of childhood. Santa is a part of that magic for many. The lying part of it though needs to be handled smartly. I wasn’t upset with my parents for lying to me about the existence of Santa. I was more upset about growing older and leaving Santa behind. On the other hand, one of my daughters was upset about this untruth and that I had intentionally lied to her. I still feel bad about that. Clearly, I didn’t handle it correctly then. Everyone handles the end-truth of Santa differently.

When my granddaughter did something wrong the other day, she asked me if Santa saw it. I told her that Jesus did. She wasn’t quite satisfied with that answer because actually, I didn’t answer. I hadn’t thought that far ahead to be prepared. It’s been so long since my kids were little. Maybe I should have said that Santa didn’t see it but one of his helpers did. Me! Be prepared for questions if Santa is included in your holiday with children.

Jesus is truth and our salvation. He was born of a virgin, and walked and taught upon this earth. He was tortured by men and His blood poured out upon this earth. He died for our sins. He watches us twelve months of every year, all the days of our life. He knows our heart, our mind, our soul. Santa is in the picture for about four weeks a year. Never replace Jesus with Santa in the eyes of a child. Just have fun with the magic of make-believe. Figure it out. Be creative and work it into something playful so there is no guilt.

I told my granddaughter that many people do not believe in Santa and that it is perfectly fine not to believe. I explained that Santa is simply a fun part of Christmas. She seemed to understand. Keeping things in perspective. That’s key.

Santa is magical. 🎅🏻
Jesus is truth. ✨

Enjoy your holiday season! ✨🎄✨
Ho! Ho! Ho! 🎅🏻

Andi

In Anger

I’ve had my share of living in anger. Many times for good reasons. Some not so much. And then others because they gave me an excuse. An excuse to do nothing. An excuse to avoid people or situations. An excuse to walk away from God.

Dwelling on anger is a stealer of life. It robs us of moments, hours, days, and years. It is a hindrance to relationships, employment…just living in general. But to be angry in order to control a situation or to use it to our own advantage is a special kind of wrong. Many times we justify our anger to relieve us of responsibility. I know this because I have done it myself.

I was once mad at God. I walked away from Him because I didn’t like how a situation turned out. Then the longer I professed my anger, the reason for it was basically faded away, and it became purely an excuse to not have to do anything for Him.

This can happen in any type of relationship. When the reason we hold onto our anger is so we are no longer obligated to do anything that is desired or expected of us…it’s only a matter of time before walls are built and relationships damaged or altered. In fact, no one wins. And, people, life is simply too short.

An angry Mr. Heat Miser

Are you are angry with how a situation is being handled yet offer zero assistance? Do you criticize from the sidelines? Have you walked the path of the one you are angry with? What measure do you use to solidify your anger? Are you leaning on anger to relieve yourself from responsibilities?

Anger can be a wicked thing when used to justify our actions. There is a purpose for anger when directed correctly. There’s also a wrong way to be angry. Again…life is simply too short to live even a single day like this.

Let go of anger and make amends. An I’m sorry goes a long, long way. ♥️

Andi

I believe LOVE is stronger than ANYTHING life throws at us. ♥️

Photo: courtesy of “The Year Without a Santa Claus”, via the internet