Category Archives: God

Life in Pennyopolis

Penny discovers napkins

Penny discovers napkins with Grandpa Jim

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”
Pablo Neruda

I stood next to Penny while she played with her new toy- a small plastic basketball hoop. As she plunked the ball through the net, the crowd cheered. When she put it through a different hole behind the hoop, numbers would count down on the screen.

throwing-hoopsThis was fascinating to Penny. I sat behind her, not wanting her to fall backwards, while she stood and put the balls through the holes over and over. Every now and then she would turn around, look at me and smile. It was like she was saying “This is so cool isn’t it!”. I was right there with her, discovering new stuff all over again.

My granddaughter Penny was born on January 24, 2016. If you do the quick math, she is now almost nine months old. I raised my own two children, Michelene and John, plus I helped with my grandson Gavin (now 15 years old- wow!). I’m blessed to spend consistent time with Penny these days.

Life in Pennyopolis (as I like to call it) is like looking under rocks all day long. What we take for granted on a daily basis is brand new to her. Every day is an opportunity for discovery, exploration, and learning.

The day starts out with a good breakfast. Scrambled eggs and the comfort of nursing with her mom. Then maybe a short (or long) nap and it’s playtime. There’s at least an hour or two of solid play before the big afternoon nap.

Lots to do in this fancy toy!

Lots to do in this fancy toy!

I know we all have things to do in our adult life but I think we could take a lesson from children. What if our day was made up of learning, relaxation, exercise, and play? We do have work and grown up responsibilities but what if we allowed ourselves the chance to learn something new or really relax? And, connect with others. Penny is a very outgoing child. She loves to meet new people and usually offers them a big smile. People feel drawn to her, just by virtue of her warm and happy personality.

Every time I spend the day with Penny I am reminded of how simple childhood (and life) can really be. Do we need fancy things or lots of money? No. Even with a basket of napkins to amuse us, life can be enjoyable. 🙂

How about elaborate entertainment? No need for it as there is always music. Penny loves music and will often move herself easily to rhythm. Since she was born, her dad has played his guitar and she has listened.

Penny’s mom Jess has a second degree black belt and they do simple exercises together. Penny giggled and laughed the one day when I was witness to this. It was heart warming.

What if we played simply, laughed more, and lived with less? Getting down to basics has it advantages. More down time, less clutter, more happiness. Reaching out to love, connect, and socialize (without substances or social media) allows us to connect on a fundamental, spiritual basis. This is truly the way to live.

“Play is the highest form of research.”
Albert Einstein

penny-with-apples

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Punt and Kick

 

football

Punt: to kick (as a football or soccer ball) with the top of the foot before the ball which is dropped from the hands hits the ground.

black-and-gold-sports-cars-10-free-wallpaper

This wasn’t what I saw, but this is nice!

It’s football season and if you’re from Pittsburgh, chances are you own something black and gold. Driving home from watching Penny the other day, I saw a black/gold car and couldn’t believe it at first. But then I realized- I can believe it- such is the way of the Pittsburgh Steeler pride around here.

Football reminds me of punting. And kicking. Especially when it comes to something challenging or upsetting. A good friend of mine posted on social media this morning. It was a distress call, a cry of pain. I messaged privately and asked what happened. The answer was- someone overdosed.

This is happening a lot around here (and I’m sure) in many other places. Drugs are mixed with other things, with tragic results. I bet if we all thought for a minute we could think of at least one or more persons who have lost their lives in the past year in this way. And it doesn’t have to be drugs. It can be a myriad of other things, including health issues.

How many things do we have control over? The answer- None. We only have control over ourselves (and sometimes we don’t have that either). We can set boundaries with other people with regards to what we are willing or not willing to do. But in the end we can only control ourselves.

If you’ve read my book, you know that I had to surrender when certain parts of my life became unmanageable. It was too difficult to keep fighting at times (and I am a fighter). I see no surrender lately in the political campaign. It makes me feel bad for the candidates when they can’t feel the beauty of tossing in the towel (at least not till later). 😉

So at every turn, they punt. And kick. And slander and beat the other up. I am watching posts on social media, choosing to hide the ones that make me judge others badly or make me not want to be friends with them. I heard something recently that as Christians, we need to be above all the mud slinging, just as Jesus was. He was a great example of peace. Ever been in a tug of war game? How hard did you try and win? Try laying down the rope and walking away. That was Jesus.

As tough as it is when we lose someone we love, I say this. Feel your feelings. Get all mushy in them, as if you are in a wonderful warm bath for hours and your skin gets all pruney and wrinkly. Then, get your football and go kick a few in the back yard (or where you can’t hurt anyone). When you’re tired and worn out, take a rest. After that, pull up your pants by the belt hooks and get back in there. There’s work to be done.

Philippians/4-13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

 

 

 

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God Delivers

Cook Forest 2016

Cook Forest 2016

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
Chad Sugg

There’s a chill in the air when I wake up at dawn. The grass is covered with dew and my legs get wet when I walk Jordan outside in the morning. Our garden has turned pale and most of the tomato plants have withered.  I see trees dropping leaves to the ground; fall is here.

The days seem to fly by anymore. Where did the summer go? It seems to have passed by in a blur. This was the first time in years that I didn’t mind the heat (hot flashes are finally backing off!) and I relished more backyard activities than ever.

throwing-hoops

Beautiful Penny- now 8 months old!

I did so much this summer. I helped my mom, babysat Penny (love it!), and hosted the baptism. I coordinated eight events for my business (x 2 or 3 pre-planning meetings each plus rehearsals and day of duties), entertained fussier details than ever before, and accommodated bigger expectations. I am thinking that my days as a planner are numbered and my days as a writer are coming in closer. There is a fine line between control and grace. I started my event planning business as a way to bring grace in closer to brides and their families. Thankfully, this has happened many times. But sometimes the personality clashes, obsession to details, and unreasonable expectations begin to do me in.

When it seems that I am about over the edge, God sends me a sign. Last weekend’s wedding was a good example. It had a daunting weather forecast. The ceremony and reception were due to take place in a botanic garden, with a tent attached to the back of a gorgeous, 100 year old barn. The prediction was thunder and rain at the exact moment of the outdoor ceremony. If that wasn’t bad enough, more stormy weather was in store the rest of the evening.

At the rehearsal the venue coordinator suggested a last minute tent over the lawn (the ceremony area). The groom and I looked at each other and quietly said NO. The family was in agreement. No tent. We practiced a rain plan ceremony inside, on the dance floor, as a backup just in case.

Morning dawned on wedding day. I started watching the storm path from 9am, checking it each hour. I do this primarily because I feel responsible for the safety of the guests. The barn is a large outdoor structure and 138 guests were expected. Dancing and a sit down, three course dinner were part of the evening.  I said small prayers all morning, lit my candle next to Panayia, and turned the rain issue over to God.

By early afternoon, the storm was moving away from the garden site. By 3pm, we had placed all the chairs for the ceremony out on the lawn, such was our confidence in the predictions. The storm completely veered off to the north, leaving my bride and groom with a partly sunny, beautiful wedding day. Perfect temperatures- not too hot or cold- were the miracle of this day.

God delivers. That’s all I can say. Grace presents itself in the most obvious ways sometimes. I told the family that my perfect wedding weather average was pretty good but even I was impressed! I don’t claim to have the pipeline; I just have faith.

white-chairs

view-of-the-tent-and-garden

A gorgeous day for a wedding!

Check out my latest post on the Orthodox Christian Network by clicking HERE.

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Penny’s Baptism

With Paul and Kristina at Altar

From L to R, Godmother Kristina, John, Jess and Penelope, Godfather Father Paul. Thank you to Joe Indovina for these pictures!

On Sunday morning, July 31, I walked Jordan outside very early. We live next to a large field and lately, I noticed two young bucks with emerging antlers were often there to greet us. On this day, there were three. Three young bucks. They stared at Jordan and I for a moment and then dashed off.

Three GardeniasI took note of this and then looked at the gardenia plant I had been nursing for three months. It had three gorgeous blooms. My first thought was three for the Holy Trinity of my church. These spiritual signs felt significant to me. I often look for signs of God in nature.

John and Jess arrived at our house before we all departed for the church. I realized I forgot to tell Jess that Penny would get her new christening dress after her baptism. I decided to check my vintage stash and I found a little white dress that I knew was from a past baptism. Jess said it would fit and it did. Penny is wearing it in the picture below. My mom told me a day later that it was my sister Mary’s baptismal dress.

PK and Dad

There were so many other special things about Penny’s baptism day. Aunt Joy sent a beautiful heirloom ring that was given to her by her parents on her sixth birthday. Gold and tiny, I gave it to Jess for safekeeping until Penny is a little older and can wear it. My friend Daleen sent an embroidered handkerchief that I placed in the box with Penny’s dress. My friend Cathy sent the very first card and it was on the gift table at my house. It was Jess’ departed brother Alex’s birthday weekend and I thought of him many times. Friends came from miles around, as far as Minnesota, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Penny was in her usual joyful mood. She is such a happy child! Smiling at everyone, including her godparents Kristina and Paul, made us all feel blessed to be a part of this amazing day.

Christening box

At the picnic at our house afterward, Jess’ mom Ann had “Penelope Katherine” bottles of wine for favors. John made his special brisket (awesome!); Chris’ Watermelon Feta salad was a huge hit. Aunt KC brought her famous stuffed grape leaves. I made American potato salad (10 lbs worth!) and topped it with shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon. That was definitely popular!

The sky got a bit dark at times and I felt a sprinkle while in the yard during the picnic. I held my breath and hoped it wouldn’t pour. It didn’t! We had 40-50 people at our house and getting them all inside might be a bit challenging! Later I found out that only a few miles away was a downpour enough to create puddles on the road. There are some things that are grace, pure and simple, and this was one of them.

I will have a lifetime of memories from Penny’s baptism day. Thank you God for such a beautiful day! Here’s a few more pictures I want to share with you!

The Stockdale Gang

The Stockdale Gang greets Penny

My Magnificent Church, Holy Trinity Ambridge PA

My Magnificent Church, Holy Trinity Ambridge PA

The Font

The Font

Penny in her carrier

Beautiful Penny

Father Emmauel and Paul

Penny loved Father Emmanuel's bible

Penny loved Father Emmanuel’s bible

Amma and Boston

Amma and Boston

Women Photo

Kristina, Penny, Me and Jess

Around the Font

The Celebration

Father and Penny

Father Emmanuel captivates Penny

Happy

It’s over! Back to Mom and Dad!

Penny and her buddy Alex

Penny and her buddy Alex

Cain Family

Family

John Jess and Penny back of church

John, Jess and Penny

 

 

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As Sweet as Honey

My daughter Michelene and granddaughter Penny, on a beautiful summer day.

My daughter Michelene and granddaughter Penny, on a beautiful summer day.

She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

Tupelo Honey, Song by Van Morrison

We are in the full throes of summer aren’t we? It’s July already and there’s lots of sunshine, beautiful flowers, and fourth of July fireworks. Perhaps you’ve already been to the beach and back? I am enjoying delicious fruit pies (peach!), the birds singing outside my window at early dawn, and honey (strawberry) moons.

I remember now what it was like to relish the longer days of summer. Instead of wishing for cool fall weather all the time (the hot flashes are finally backing off!), I am enjoying my morning coffee outside with a good book. I try to leave my cell phone in the house. Why ruin a perfect morning with technology?

I’m also spending lots of quality time with my granddaughter Penelope Katherine. She’s as sweet as tupelo honey. 😉 She just turned five months old and I can see her personality developing right before my very eyes. The little things she does, like touching my face with her sweet hands just melts my heart. God bless Penelope.

My husband Jim and daughter Michelene had their first Honey Party in June. It was a great success with thirty guests who sampled different seasons of honey, learned to be good bee ambassadors, and had ice cream sundaes topped with the honey they spun that afternoon. The future bee ambassadors, the children, are just magic. I love how they participate, ask questions, and smack their lips over the ice cream sundaes.

Love the little one with the raised hand!

Love the little one with the raised hand!

Simple pleasures are the best. Lately I am relishing those. It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. I’ve done four events already (for my wedding/event business) and learned something at each one. My book has done well, actually it has exceeded my expectations. I started a new page on Facebook called “Recovering Perfectionists” and I’m enjoying the quest to find material to post.

Ah, what’s next? I am trying to take it easy (honest!). I love to challenge myself but lately status quo is just fine. Good enough is really good enough. I want to take time to stop and smell the honey. I’ve got a big lavender patch outside of my door and I often sit next to it. It’s ok to take time for ourselves. The bigger stuff can wait.

 

 

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I’m Going to Graceland

Sunrise in my own back yard

Beautiful sunrise in my own back yard.

I’m going to Graceland
Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I’m going to Graceland

Paul Simon, Graceland lyrics

In my high school and college years I was a huge Bob Dylan fan. Despite his gnarly voice I loved his poetic words and hobo way of singing. About ten years ago, Bob was coming to a local amphitheatre not far from my house. Paul Simon was coming too. I wasn’t a big fan of Paul’s but I thought what the heck, I’m going.

A profile of Dylan smiling, wearing a hat, coat, and scarves

Bob Dylan’s Desire album-  one of my favorites.

Paul played first and I was blown off my feet. He was fabulous. Bob came out afterwards, probably stoned, and his voice was worse than I ever remember. Paul and Bob sang a few duos; Paul saved the whole night in my eyes. Bob really didn’t need to come. This was the first and only time I ever saw Bob in concert.

My daughter bought me a cd of Paul Simon’s greatest hits a few years after that concert. I play it in my car and sing or listen while I’m driving. My favorite song? Graceland. I was singing it one day and realized the words.

I’m going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There’s some part of me wants to see Graceland
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there’s no obligations now
Maybe I’ve a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

(Graceland, Paul Simon)

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Graceland as we all know is Elvis Presley’s house. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s very nice. When I looked up the meaning of this song as written by Paul Simon, it didn’t say anything about a deity. It mentioned the breakup of his nine year marriage and the trip he took to Graceland with his son.

But look at the words again in that paragraph above. I think of heaven when I read and hear those lyrics. Graceland = Land of Grace= Heaven. Some part of me wants to see Graceland. I do. I’m going to be the big six- oh next year and I wonder sometimes how long I can keep it up. Life is tiring, expensive, and there are some not nice people here. There are also upsetting things, trial and tribulation things. For reasons I cannot explain, some part of me wants to see Graceland. Yes, I really do. I also miss my deceased loved ones- my dad, my yiayia, friends who have passed on.

I may be obliged to defend every love, every ending or maybe there’s no obligations now. Yes, I’m guessing I will asked to give an account of my life when I get to heaven. I hope God takes it easy on me but I’ll understand if He doesn’t. That’s His job. Maybe I’ll be let off the hook for some of my bigger transgressions. That would be nice. And no obligations. Wow, even more tempting.

Maybe I’ve a reason to believe we all will be received. No matter what, I feel loved, cherished and accepted. God is smitten with me and you, I am sure of it. What He sees in me sometimes, I don’t know. But clearly I am adored and I try and remember that every day. Hopefully despite my shortcomings, I will be given entrance.

Lest you think I am going anywhere fast, relax. I have no plans to do so (but recognize this is out of my hands). I am blessed and loved; I have endless thanks to give for my life and those in it. I hope I live for a while yet because I have a bunch of other plans. 😉

I’m thinking of taking a road trip to Memphis. Anyone want to meet me there or ride with me? Let me know….

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Lipstick and Grace

Daleen's Lilacs

I have a guest blogger today! She is my friend from the West Coast, Ms. Daleen of Sunday’s Child. When I read this post, I admit to crying just a bit. 🙂 Friendship can be that way. God has blessed me with amazing friends.

Here’s her sweet post. Please leave a heartfelt comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win an autographed copy of my book!

Admit it, we have all said it.  “Geesh, I need some new friends.”

While in algebra class, it was easy to find a study friend.  During ballet practice, friends were there to help us learn. Moving with the Army, we met new friends every 4 years.

However, once you go over the 50 year mark, new friends are few and far between.

Most of us have settled down, take a class now and then, same job or work from home, same church friends, same neighbors, not many faces change.

Then when you aren’t looking, almost magically,  God hears your prayer and slips a new friend into your pocket.  One of those good kind of friends.  The ones with a fabulous laugh & beautiful heart.  The kind of friend who while talking on the phone,  just as she arrives at an event, you politely say good bye and good luck, then SCREAM, WAIT!  Do you have on cute earrings and good lipstick?  Seriously, she says, oh yes.  Then tells you the kind of earrings and shade of lip stick she chose.

To be honest, you feel a tiny bit guilty that she is making others wait while she finishes the phone call.  (To the world, it looks like an important phone call. Reality check, Lipstick color IS important!) Along with that tiny bit of guilt, you feel lucky.  Lucky that she is your friend and she is choosing to answer your important lip stick question before she races off to put the fine touches on an event.

I write a blog called, Sunday’s Child full of Grace. https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/

Little did I know those five words would help me find a friend.  I write about the grace that swirls around me.

As you well know, life throws us for a loop now and then.  A couple years ago, I was on the ground trying to get back up onto the trampoline of life when Joanne offered me a cup of coffee and a hug.

Two people living on opposite sides of the country, God saw fit to bring us together.  It is Grace pure, sweet and simple.

joanne

I can’t tell you how many times I have written a slip of paper for my grateful jar about Joanne. (I just re-read this, it sort of sounds like I am a weird stalker of some sort.  I prefer to think of it as the Joanne Fan Club!)

Joanne called!

Joanne sent me a good wish card with a picture of lilacs!

 Joanne has a new grand baby!  

Joanne shared some honey!

Joanne published her book!

 

coffee cupBelieve it or not, we have never had a cup of coffee in person.  Honest truth.  We text and say, I can chat in 15 minutes, pour your coffee and let’s talk.  Then we get to put our feet up & drink coffee until the cup is empty or our phone batteries die.  snort.  Yes, we have talked over those annoying beeps.  Oh you don’t know?  After you chat for 3 hours on your phone it starts beeping.  The beeping means, Enough girls……..go live more life so you have something to talk about next time.

We talk about our grands.  We talk about food, husbands, kids, weddings, more food, bees, honey, quilts, cross stitch, blogs, lipstick, earrings, books, writing books, travel, vacations and yes plans to meet one day.

Joanne writes a blog about grace & love. She writes what she lives.  With the amazing ability to make those around her feel covered in grace and goodness, she somehow makes you feel better just by stopping by.

Yes, her writing is a respite in the glorious commotion of the day.  She gracefully & simply refills your spirit.  Her words remind you that there is good out there and there is an abundance for all of us.

One day, she asked if I would help her with her book.  Good Golly, Miss Molly!  I was beyond flattered that she would consider me.  I was rubbing my hands together with glee.  So excited and thrilled that she asked me to be part of her book writing journey.

Oh no, then it hit.  How on earth was I going to look over her writing and make as I call them “gentle suggestions”?  While in school and even when I home schooled, I loathed corrections made with red ink & capital letters.  Urgh.  Seemed so mean and awful and not very encouraging.  I didn’t want to come off as a school marm with a waaaaaay too tight hair bun, slapping a ruler in my hand wearing less than cute shoes.  I didn’t want to judge.

The air quickly leaked out of my (imaginary, celebratory) fancy balloon bouquet.

While I was thrilled for her book accomplishment, I didn’t want, even gentle suggestions  to smudge our  lovely friendship.  We had to talk.

We talked and talked and wrote back and forth and talked some more.

In the end, I used green ink to make my gentle suggestions.  I asked questions.  Some suggestions she jumped on, others she gently let go. We found a way to balance on the see saw.

In the style of friendship, grace guided us through.

Oh yes, I am beyond happy for her and her accomplishment.   I am grateful we worked on part of her dream together.  It was such a huge moment her life, by her sharing, somehow our friendship sort of seems sealed in the grace of the work.

I got to chat with her on the day her book cover was decided.  The day her book was being published, again we talked.  We talked as she drove to her book launch.

joanne book cover

Click on the book to order!

As I tore open the end of that padded yellow envelope, I held my breath, the book, her book slipped gently out and onto my counter.  I was teary eyed.

I am so proud of my friend.  She is (with gorgeous lipstick, sassy earrings and a beautiful smile) standing in the middle of her goal.  Sort of dream like, only for real.

Heartfelt congratulations my friend!  I loved watching you cart wheel through the book writing process.  You inspire us, your readers.

Here is the beautiful part.  The book is good.  Really good.  Each chapter is a nugget of gold. You feel bathed in grace with each page you turn.  You almost don’t want to dog ear the corners.  Ha.  I already have.  I have drawn hearts and underlined inspiring phrases. You feel as though you are sneaking a peek into her world.  Secret gems that you might use in your own jumble of life.  I know the book was written with the idea of reading a chapter here or there with a lovely cup of coffee.  However, once you open the cover, you fall into the pages and are covered with goodness & love.  You can’t put it down. Yes, that good.

Grace, it’s Amazing.

From Joanne: Thank you Daleen for this beautiful post! Friends, please leave Daleen a comment and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of my book! Be sure to check out Daleen’s blog!

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My First Book! Ordinary IS Extraordinary

My first book! The Beautiful Cover is by Karen Captline of Better Be Creative

My first book! The beautiful cover is by Karen Captline of Better Be Creative. Editing by Daleen Wilson of Sunday’s Child.

Today is a special day. I am sharing my first book with you! The excitement of this has been building over the last couple of months and I am over the moon about it. This weekend I will be speaking at the women’s empowerment conference in Ligonier, PA and sharing my story.

When I received the first early copies of my book, I gave one to the mother of my granddaughter Penelope. Jessica is my friend and the partner of my son John. She is the manager of the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Allegheny Valley, PA.

As luck would have it, Jessica, Penelope and I went on a little field trip yesterday. We visited another Restore and stopped for lunch afterwards. We talked about how to market my book and Jess offered to do a review for me. I took her up on the offer!

So here, without any further ado, are Jessica’s thoughts on “Ordinary IS Extraordinary.”

When I read Ordinary IS Extraordinary I was nursing my infant daughter, Penelope, and read most of it out loud to her.
We cried at different parts for different reasons…
I had tears in my eyes when Joanne shared her journey of rediscovering her faith and loving herself.  I smiled as I pictured her as an awkward young person.  Looking down at Penny while we read, I couldn’t help wondering if she would face some of the same challenges in life.
I was inspired by Joanne’s discoveries of growth, as the lens she saw both the world and herself through, changed as her experiences colored the glass.
When I closed the book..I found myself savoring so much of her insights, that I let out a huge breath I didn’t know I was holding…and with it a burden I didn’t realize was there.  As for Penelope, she always loves hearing her Nana’s adventures, even when she’s hungry.
Grab a cup of Jo, your favorite snack, and devote a morning or afternoon to walking in her footsteps.  I know you’ll enjoy the landscape.  The writing is honest and you’ll feel as though she is sitting across from you on that lounge chair, having a coffee, sharing in your delight along the way.
From Jessica Levine
John, Jess, and Penelope Katherine

John, Jess, and Penelope Katherine

Jessica, thank you so much for your beautiful words!

Click HERE to order my book on Amazon. There’s a Kindle version too! You may want to order two books ;), one for you and one for a friend.

When you read Ordinary IS Extraordinary, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at joannejamiscain@gmail.com with your thoughts. If you are a blogger that writes on spirituality, I would be happy to send you a book to review.

Thank you and God Bless!

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When Our Children Become Parents

My son John, with Penelope Katherine

My son John with his daughter, Penelope Katherine

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

My granddaughter Penelope is now one month old. She no longer has that mini newborn look. Her features are becoming more pronounced and her personality is taking shape. Nursing is her favorite pastime along with snuggling. Resting in someone’s arms (especially mommy’s), nice and warm, is her favorite place to be.

It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of Penny’s first month. The excitement of the birth, the few weeks afterwards, and the love I feel towards my granddaughter reminds me of my grandson’s birth fourteen years ago. It feels good to embrace these moments all over again.

Watching my son’s newly acquired fatherhood has been a true gift. Penelope’s mom Jess told me the day after the birth that John said, “I can’t believe how beautiful she is.” I never doubted that he would look into his baby’s eyes and be in love.

When John and Jess found out they were expecting, John was a nervous father to be. I tried to talk to him on a number of occasions but I was too wordy and he, too wound up. Like an organized person on hyper drive, he saw everything that needed to be done- the nursery painted and complete, plenty of frozen meals in the fridge, lots of clean baby onesies ready for action.

It turned out Penelope was on her own schedule. She arrived two weeks after her due date, giving both Jess and John lots of extra time. I called one day to invite them to dinner and Jess told me John was cleaning out closets. By the time Penny arrived, they were both ready.

John and Penny

John and Penny

To watch my son with his daughter is simultaneously a spiritual and hilarious experience. He looks at her like she is the stars and the sky. Then he kisses her hands and nose. Penny stares at him like he is her favorite boyfriend. If she makes funny noises or faces, we all laugh. Baby, Mom, and Dad have a bond of love. If she is crying, John will pick her up and talk to her. Most of the time (unless she wants mommy’s milk) Penny stops crying.

John and Jess are a team. It is reassuring for me to see them in action. They will frequently give each other breaks, taking naps to recharge themselves. John tidies up the house nightly, prepares a nice dinner, then cleans up the kitchen. Jess will nurse Penelope, a full time job at the moment.

A few days ago I spent the afternoon with them. While I held Penny, John cooked dinner. Funky 80’s music played in the background. A great song came on and the four of us danced. It was the best.

I’m a calmer grandmother this time around. Fourteen years of grand wisdom have given me a perspective of when to worry and when to let it go. God has granted us a huge blessing. Her name is Penelope Katherine.

I'm one month old!

I’m one month old!

 

 

 

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In the Company of Beautiful Women

Photo by Mary Yohannan

Photo by Mary Yohannan- Life is Better Through Traveling

“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
Roman Payne

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I believe there are no coincidences. A friend of mine likes to say, “Is it Odd or is it God?”. Spiritual paths and journeys can cross with others at any time. I’ve been blessed to have this happen to me many times.

One of those times was last fall when I was contacted by a friend of mine to discuss a business idea. Tracy and I met for coffee and we had a great talk. During that time I mentioned my blog and spiritual journey, and my quest for putting together a small inspirational book. “Ordinary into Extraordinary” was the working title of the project. Tracy told me she wanted to host an empowerment weekend for women in the spring of 2016. “Can you finish your book by then?” she said.

Always being up for a challenge (and a good kick in the butt), I said yes. At first I was editing my favorite blog posts for a compilation book. This was the initial idea but by month two I was bored, restless, and trying to decide what to do. Enter my fellow blogging goddess, Sunday’s Child. A long talk from west to east coast, lots of encouragement, and a brave idea emerged. Begin a new book, write like there’s no tomorrow, and finish it by the retreat.

As if that wasn’t enough God power for me, enter Karen of BetterBe Creative. I met her just a couple of years ago and she is another goddess. A graphic designer with a beautiful, comforting personality, she has agreed to take on the task of designing my first cover. And guess what? She knows a publisher who can print the book. I’m self-publishing so figuring everything out is up to me and Karen. (PS. this book will eventually be available through the web for purchase- YAY!)

A few nights ago I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the other speakers. Joy Bufalini is missing from this picture (she had to leave first) but trust me, she is as awesome as rest of us.

From L to Right: Yours truly, Mary, Kate, and Tracy.

From L to Right: Yours truly, Mary, Kate, and Tracy.

After we each introduced ourselves and told our little story, I was infused with gratitude for what God has brought together. Tracy and Mary have organized this retreat at the beautiful Antiochian Village in the quaint town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania.The dates are April 1-2. We are motivated entrepreneurs and have all been through the school of hard knocks. We will share our stories with you at the retreat and tell you how we have taken our lemon filled lives and made lemonade.

I realized at our little dinner that this will be a retreat about self love and self care. We the speakers will encourage you to lift yourself up and move beyond the blocks that may be holding you back. The friendship and love we will show you will be with you for a long time. You will be changed by this weekend I promise you.

Click HERE for the registration link to the Women’s Empowerment Weekend.

Check out the agenda!

Agenda for WER April 2 2016

I will be there Friday and Saturday. Come and join us and be transformed.

Blessings!

Joanne

 

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