Tag Archives: family

God’s Presence?

Have you ever felt God’s presence in your life?  With the tragedy of my sister passing, I feel his presence in my life.  He has something big planned for me.  And even though I have an inkling of what it might be, I don’t know how it’s going to go down.

One of my dreams is to be a writer.  It’s not a dream that I share with people.  I’m afraid that my grammar or poor spelling at times will get in the way so I’ve tucked that dream away.  I also have a fear that no one would want to read what I have to say.  I’ve always had a lot to say.  Sometimes people just tune me out because I can ramble on FOREVER.

Then I wrote the letter to Tanya, straight from my heart.  I know there was problems with my grammar but everyone got message I was trying to get across.

People are also calling me the historian.  I have a lot of memories tucked into my heart and mind.  I need to share those stories to the world instead of keeping them locked away.  One day I won’t be here to share them anymore.  My words will live on if I write them down.

As I said, I know God has big plans for me.  What they are and how they work themselves out is unwritten.  It’s up to me to trust in him to lead him down that path.

It’s been said to collect moments, not things.  I have both.  Some of the things I have are memories of moments that I have collected along my journey of life.

Jesus and God have heard my struggle through this difficult time.

As Robert Frost wrote

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I need to take the road less traveled during this difficult period of time in my life.

The Day I Told My Grandma that the Rubber Broke

Since my sister passed, I’ve decided I needed to share family stories.

When I was a child/ teenager, our family would go to my grandpa’s sister’s house; aka the Farm.  We would have potluck dinners with my grandpa’s family.  The potluck dinners often had Aunt Janet’s baked goods, white salad, deviled and a tray of pickles and olives.  Aunt Janet also would have a big pitcher of sweet ice tea.

One night, my grandma brought a crock pot full of yummy food to the potluck.  It was one of those round crock pot.  The lid was held on by two rubber bands.  When grandma brought in the crock pot, I noticed one of the rubber bands had broke.  So I announced loudly in the presence of all of my family, “grandma, the rubber broke.”

Then I realized what I said.

I retracked my words and told her that the rubber band broke holding the lid onto the crock pot had broke.

That is the day I told my grandma that the rubber broke.

Dear Tanya

My sister died unexpectedly on Sunday the 28th of August.   I have been asked to give the memorial or remembrance about her at her simple graveside funeral.  My mother-in-law suggested I write it as a letter.

Dearest Tanya,

It’s with such sadness that I’m writing this letter to you.  You are now in Heaven shining down on me.  I’ll miss so much about you.  I don’t know if you realize how loved you were when you were here with us on Earth.  So many people have left remembrances of you and your kind heart and sweet soul.

The way I remember you is so much different.  I have lots of memories of us growing up and then as adults.  In Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote “I thank God upon every remembrance of you.”

I can remember the RTA trips to downtown to either play Putt-Putt, shop at the Arcade, or visit the Salem Mall.

I have memories of us traveling by bus to Charlottesville, VA as children.  We would stop in Washington, D.C. on the way there or back.  Also of us traveling to Walt Disney World in 1990.  One of my favorite memories was of us telling mom that the Big Thunder Railroad was a simulated roller coaster.  We ended up in the front seat of the Railroad.  Boy was mom mad at us afterwards.  Mom should know that the back is far worse than the front of the coaster.  Do you remember those Boy Scouts from California that were on the train back to Ohio from Orlando?  We spent a lot of time in their railroad car.  

We went on three Mission trips with the Clayton United Methodist Youth Group – Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati, South Carolina, and Athens, Ohio.  The South Carolina trip was the most memorable.  From Ambo, the train traveling hobo, to people stealing from us, to you being a fake girlfriend to Doug, to traveling to Myrtle Beach, to the Chinese buffet, to losing power at the church we were staying at.  I will always keep those memories in my heart.  Your life was one of Service, one of your favorite bow stations in Rainbow.

For 7 years, we were in Rainbow together.  Traveling from here to there – Making friends and memories.  I know you got amused with me when I could mess up a room during a weekend away at Grand Assembly.  We were only there for three or four days and the room would look like my clothes threw up in it.  All the dances and installations we attended.  The friends we made who have stepped up to offer condolences or help during this time.  They are not just friends but family.  Family that just hasn’t seen each other in a while.  If you see Mom Gray up in Heaven, please tell her I miss her dearly.  

You and I traveled so much to Pittsburgh to visit family.  When we stayed at grandma’s house, one of us had to be the unlucky one and get the bed with the mattress covered with plastic.  If you were that sister, you had an unsettled night of sleep because the mattress would move every time you rolled around.  Do you remember grandma getting on us about going to church or her telling us about all the boyfriends she had before grandpa?  I will treasure our pictures at the Overlook in Pittsburgh.

Do you remember the one Easter eve that I called you?  I said you have an hour to pack because we are going on a road trip.  We ended up in Illinois for the night before traveling up to Chicago and then onto Kenosha, Wisconsin for the other night.  We went to the Kmart in Kenosha to get our Easter candy.  Such memories.

Our super trips in 2001 and 2002 with mom will remain in my heart.  Listening to Backstreet Boys at their concert, visiting with our grandma in Pittsburgh, and driving through Gettysburg.  Do you remember changing the calendar in grandma’s house with Jamie?  I don’t think grandma realized we did that.  My favorite picture of the two of us is from that trip.  We also created a list of 50 boyfriends for mom on the trip in 2001 – one in each state.  There was also descriptions of a few of the fake boyfriends.  Do you remember how we actually ran into a guy who looked like one of the fake boyfriends?

Thank you for your help with Nick when Will was born.  Do you remember how Nick slept for 12 plus hours the night Will was born?  We didn’t need to worry about Nick and were able to concentrate on our new baby boy.

Thank you for all the times you watched our house while we were traveling.  I’m sure Dobby will miss you.  He does love you so.

I know that I was an annoying big sister.  I was the first one to tattle on you when you did wrong.  I was the one who made you do math problems at Melody Pool.  You were not allowed to swim until you got them done.  Then I allowed you to get the pool.  You thanked me later for tutoring you since you were able to understand the math while in middle school.  I made you help me pack for my Disney College Program on your 18th birthday.  Boy, were you upset with me.  Hey, at least you got rid of me for 4 months after that.

I think most of all I am going to miss calling mom’s house.  If she was unable to talk or was gone, we made up excuses to why she could not answer the phone.  Most of the time it was that she was on a date with some made up random guy.  That random guy always had a Latino name like Raul or Julio.  

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I will think of you.  As it written in Genesis 9:13, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”  You will be my rainbow in the sky.  

I love you so very much.  Teasing mom about her fake boyfriends won’t be as much fun.  

Give a kiss to both grandmas and grandpas for me.  

One day I’ll see you again but until then I’m going to be homesick and miss you so much.  As the song “Homesick” from Mercy Me says “You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times.  And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.  But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry is how long must I wait to be with you.”  

Love your annoying big sister,



Aunt Janet’s Pecan Tarts

These pecan tarts invoke a lot of memories when I eat these.  I can remember going to her farm with my grandparents for family gatherings.  I can visualize food being laid out on the island in the kitchen or members of the family either sitting outside eating their dinner or sitting around their dining room table.  I can see their pond with the weeping willow right by the driveway and the pine trees around the perimeter of the pond.

Many times these family gatherings involved my great-aunt making these delicious pecan tarts.  We lost another member of our family to cancer this past weekend.  Since then, I was thinking about these pecan tarts because they remind me of my family and growing up; however, I couldn’t remember where I put the recipe.

This evening, I decided to cut out some box top for education labels.  When I opened the drawer that I kept those box tops in, I found the recipe for the pecan tarts.  I had put it in there so I wouldn’t lose it.

To make the pastry:

  • 1/2 c. butter softened
  • 1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. flour
  1. Mix ingredients well, chill.
  2. Form into 24 small balls and place in lightly buttered (or sprayed with cooking spray) muffin tins.  I use the mini muffin tin.
  3. Chill again.
  4. Shape with thumb and press against up to fit bottom and up the sides.

To Make the filling:

  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. chopped pecans
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  1. Add sugar to butter and mix well.
  2. Then add egg and salt.  Combine thoroughly.
  3. Add nuts; mix well.
  4. Fill tart shells 2/3 full.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is slightly brown.
  6. Remove from pan while warm.

Makes 2 dozen.  These can be frozen.

For more great recipes, visit Potluck Sunday and Colleen’s Kitchen Recipe Swap.

Fourth of July

When you live in a military town, you have great Fourth of July celebrations.  This year was no exception.  On the third, we attended a small parade in the next town over.  We usually do not get to go to that parade because it is usually on the Fourth and our town has a huge parade.  The boys had a great time at the parade especially when participants threw candy.  Later in the evening, we attended the annual block party.  We stayed only about an hour.  It was hot and loud there.  The boys were not happy that we did not stay longer because they did not have enough fun. 

On the Fourth, we went to church.  Our pastor decided to do a colonial litergy to celebrate the holiday.  One of the church members did an excellent rendition of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA during the service.  During the heat of the day, we attended our town’s huge parade.  My hubby had it easy because he sat in the shade while I stayed on the front lines to make sure the boys did not get themselves hurt while running after the candy.  We had to laugh because they did not want only candy.  They also wanted any piece of paper that was given by the participants of the parade.  The Wee One actually growled and got upset because the Stanley Steamer guys did not give him a doorhanger.  The person just laughed and handed him one.  When the hour and half parade ended, I was soaked from head to toe with sweat but it was worth it to see the joy in my boys’ faces.

We rested at home for a while and then headed out again.  The next stop was a relatives’ house for a cook-out.  Since it was so hot, she ended up grilling the food and then we ate in the house.  The boys had fun playing with another child.  When it was time to eat, they did not want to stop playing. 

We stayed there for about 2 hours and then headed home for a few minutes before heading out for one last time.  This time it was so we could see fireworks.  When we went past the high school (right by where the fireworks were going to be launched), we noticed a steady stream of cars heading there.  We decided we better get our rears over to there.  So my sister, the boys, and I headed home to pick up hubby and then headed over there.  We paid the dollar to park in the non premium parking lot and then just waited the hour for the fireworks.  The boys wanted to be read to during that hour so that made the time go by quickly.  The fireworks were beautiful.  After they were finished, we were able to get out of the parking lot rather quickly.

I will post pictures in a different post.

I wish you would dance

Last night, the boys gave the performance of their life time.  They now think they are famous and that their dance video will be in the library.

My mother-in-law offered to pay and take the imaginative one to dance class so last year he took ballet.  This past year he decided to take tap dance.  She then offered to take the wee one to dance class also.  In late November, he started taking a tumbling class.  They practice and practice until it is time for their big show which occurred last night. 

During the actual recital you are prohibited from taking any pictures or video of the performance.  However, you are free to take as many pictures and videos as you want during the rehearsal.  Here are some pictures from the rehearsal.

The Wee One checking himself out in the dressing room’s mirror.  He liked turning those lights on and off which about blinded me when they were on.

The imaginative one in his costume

The imaginative one doing a staying alive pose.

The imaginative one stole the show with his special move and bow.

The wee one loved posing in his costume. 

This is my favorite pose because it shows the Wee One’s personality.

The Wee One acting “normal.”

During the practice, the Wee One had to looking around the stage because there is so much to see up there.  He also twirled around in place.

The Wee One at the end of his performance

If given a chance, I hope you dance.