Yesterday I was going through some office papers when I stumbled across a note that Jim wrote to Gavin last year. I was supposed to post it to my blog but somehow I completely forgot. (please forgive me Jim)
While Jim and I were on vacation last year, Gavin assumed most of the care of our home, including our 13 year old dog Jordan. During a shopping experience at the Nantucket whaling museum store, Jim picked a beautiful compass for Gavin as a gift. He gave it to him when we arrived home.
Without further ado, here is the letter Jim wrote to Gavin.
Compass: A tool often used to help with direction.
While proving yourself this past week by taking care of the house, chickens, and the dog, I was thinking of myself when I was your age. I don’t think I would have done as good a job as you did. Most likely, I would have declined direction or refused the instructions offered to me, thinking that I knew better. Most of the time in my life, when I found myself lost, it was because I declined to use the tools and direction that were so freely given to me.
My hope is that if you use this compass to know the direction you’re starting in, you will always be able to find your way home. But please remember that it works best if you know where you are starting from.
Hopefully, with some Good Orderly Direction, you will never get lost. Always know that I love you. Jim
PS. Clean up your room, stand up straight, and listen to you mom (lol)
When I found this yesterday it melted my heart. Gavin is going to be 17 this coming April. Hard to believe. It feels like yesterday that he was just a little guy.
Thank you Jim for helping me clean out my office and for writing this beautiful letter.
You might remember that this past June I happened to be at Susquehanna University. It was there that I stumbled upon a Kindness Rocks Garden and stopped in my tracks. It captured my attention and so much so that I contacted my daughter’s childhood friend, Steph, who worked for the Recreation Department of Findlay Township.
I told Steph about the Kindness Rocks Garden and asked if there was a chance that we could make one in Clinton Park. “Sure!”, she said. And that was the beginning.
Since I am turning 60 this month, I wanted to do something to honor my friends and community. Creating this project filled the bill. On Thursday, November 9, about twenty new and old friends gathered to paint rocks and write inspirational sayings on them.
Armstrong Telephone gave us a grant and through them, we were able to buy all of the supplies. The Kindness Rocks website has a pdf form that makes it so easy to get everything you need. The oil based markers were terrific. We also had pre-painted about 25 rocks, just to get the evening started.
My deepest thanks to Steph, Findlay Township, and everyone who turned out! We will be creating the actual garden in Clinton Park this coming Spring of 2018. I promise to keep you posted here and on social media. If you live in the area and would like to make rocks for this project, feel free! We would welcome groups or individuals who love to create. Feel free to contact Findlay Recreation at 724-695-0500 extension 240.
Here’s what a fabulous evening it was.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou
I was on a girl’s weekend with a few of my friends. We happened to be at Susquehanna University, a beautiful campus with lots of quiet and flowers. I wanted to stay in the shade and decided to walk under a line of trees to keep cool.
Turning a corner, I saw the large flat stones. It stopped me right in my tracks. Here’s what it said.
How fitting that this should be on a college campus. So many people of all ages probably go to this school, work and study hard, and sit among the trees on a gorgeous day. Maybe on a tough day they need to see this. Perhaps they pick up a rock and take it back to their room. It’s possible it will make their day a little brighter.
I decided to be needy and so I took a rock. It said, “You are Worth It.” I love it. I brought it home and placed it in the soil of my growing fig tree. I hope the tree will note this message and feel free to grow tall and strong. I did briefly wonder if I should not take a rock since I didn’t have one to leave. I don’t think this is the main purpose. I think the rocks are there for the taking.
I would have loved to be in the room when these were being painted. How did the painters decide what quotes to choose? There were some rocks with only one word on them. Others had more sayings. Since then, I’ve looked up the Kindness Rocks website and wow, there are so many more wonderful rocks!
I told my friend Ms. Child about the Kindness Rocks. She thought maybe she’d start one in her area. Lo and behold she went on the website and it turns out there is one near her! She’s excited about creating some rocks of her own and visiting the project. How cool is that? To find out if there is a Kindness Rocks project in your area, click HERE.
This is bigger than you think. Check out the video.
I love this wonderful idea. A landmark birthday is looming this year and I’ve already reached out to my township to ask them for an opportunity to start a Kindness Rocks project in my local park. If you live near me, let me know if you’ll come and paint with me.
PS. The Kindness Rocks website is full of information! Many gorgeous rocks and a downloadable “how to” on the best materials to use.
“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.
This 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.
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.
“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.
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.
A gorgeous day for a wedding!
Check out my latest post on the Orthodox Christian Network by clicking HERE.
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.
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.
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 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!
Believe 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.
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!
She kept us all waiting but finally on January 24, shortly after midnight, Penelope Katherine made her entrance!
We are all so excited for Jess and John. Penelope is absolutely beautiful. In her little pink cap and wrapped in Grandma Jean’s blanket, she is the prettiest sight.
It’s been fourteen years (almost fifteen!) that my grandson Gavin was born. In that time he has grown so fast and provided us with so much joy. I am looking forward to many wonderful times ahead with both of my grandchildren. Michelene is already promising walks in the woods. I’m sure Jim will teach Penelope how to fix things. I will share some Greek recipes. It takes a village and we are all excited about spending time with Penelope.
We can’t wait until her other grandparents arrive to meet her. I’m sure Jess and John have been talking to them and sending pictures. We wish them safe travels as they come to share in our joy.
Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers. We truly appreciate them!
One more thing! As if life isn’t exciting enough, after 8am CST this morning (9am EST & Pittsburgh time), I have a guest post on a blog called Lipstick and Laundry! It’s one of my favorite posts from Katherine’s Daughter. Click HERE to check it out. 🙂
There was a chill in the air as I arrived at the barn that morning. It was a gorgeous, mid September day and the field of sunflowers was awash in color. I always get goosebumps when I arrive on the scene of a wedding and this one was no exception.
My daughter and I got to work, unstacking fancy chairs and putting the pads on them. By the time we were done, the linens had arrived and so had the rest of the staff. A big truck loaded with all the decor pulled up to the barn doors. It was time to set the tables.
There were so many beautiful details about Danina and Preston’s wedding I could go on and on. I’m going to save a few for a post later on my events blog. Instead, I want to tell you about the grace on this day.
Family members gave their heirloom china to display on the tables. Can you imagine rows of place settings and no two the same placed next to each other? Wow. And the father of the bride, Sam, did the flowers on the tables. He took his time and used many of the milk glass vases that Danina had gathered over the few months before the big day.
I had asked Danina beforehand what she was going to carry for flowers. She wasn’t concerned about it and told me that she’d probably just hold whatever was available (this is a low key bride!). Now for some reason before I left home that morning, I grabbed floral wire and a few other tools. I also picked some herbs from my garden- lavender, mint, basil, and a few flowers. I put them in a small mason jar. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I took them anyway.
About an hour before the wedding ceremony, Michelene fashioned Danina a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers and tied it with ribbon. For the groom, best man, and officiant I created a quick boutonniere of herbs and flowers. Later I saw that someone had placed a small sunflower in the mens’ lapels along with my herbs- perfect. 🙂 And what a blessing to be able to contribute something of my own to this beautiful day.
October 8, 2015- I just published more pictures of this wedding on my events IDEAs! page! Click HERE to see them!
Here’s a few more photos of this wonderful day! Best wishes to Danina and Preston! Many thanks to my assistants- Michelene Cain and Jessica Lubert .
“Weaver” in Greek. In The Odyssey, Penelope is the wife of Odysseus who faithfully awaits his return for 20 years. (source)
My daughter Michelene was the only granddaughter on my husband’s side of the family for a long time. She is the oldest, followed by many grandsons- John, Brian, Colin, Jerra, Daniel, Josh, and Jake. (this picture is probably fifteen years old!)
So we were all very excited when my nephew Jerra had a girl. Michelene declared Ms. Deanna the “Princess, Heir to the Throne.” This was a title most fitting since she would be the next in line to inherit the role of Princess Cain.
Now we are expecting a new princess. My son John and his sweetheart Jessica are expecting a baby girl! And she is due on January 9 which is John’s birthday of all coincidences. A girl! How wonderful! So now, we have another princess in line to the throne. 🙂 The name John and Jess are considering for her is PENELOPE.
I have to tell you, I was almost certain that John and Jess would be having a girl. Let me tell you why.
When my grandmother passed away years ago she left a pearl necklace. I asked my Aunt KC if I could have it and she said yes. I wore it on and off and soon the string began to stretch. More than one person encouraged me to have the pearls re-strung.
I took the necklace to the jeweler. They asked what size I wanted it. I decided to convert it from a long strand to a shorter one so it would be closer to my neckline.
When I picked up my new necklace, the jeweler offered me a small bag of the unused pearls. I took a look at those pearls and had only one thought. If someday John would give me a little girl, I would have those pearls made into a bracelet for her.
So here we are. Fast forward probably five years at least. I will have a pearl bracelet made and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
From Somewhere Over the Rainbow
I think it was in mid July that my friend Cathy told me her daughter Harmony and fiance David wanted to be married on August 15. I was fairly sure I would be invited but before I could be asked, I volunteered to come and help with the preparations. 🙂
Cathy and I go back about twenty years. I’ve not known Harmony quite as long but I felt a connection to her from the moment we met. She is a loving soul with a very caring manner. Her heart is big and bold and beautiful. I wanted to be a part of her wedding day.
So when I arrived on the day before the wedding (Friday), Cathy, David and Harmony had already been at work since Tuesday. The yard was ready, the arbor was decorated. The food was bought, the platters were washed and the extra fridge was stocked with drinks. They were expecting 40-60 people. I knew they were on top of it.
The wedding day dawned bright and sunny. We re-arranged lawn furniture a bit so seating would be comfortable. Harmony polished her toe nails (every bride needs pretty toes). Decisions were made on how to present and serve the food. Along with Cathy’s friend Lisa, we put vases of fresh flowers in the bathroom and lit candles. We cooled down the house for the seniors who might need a break.
When the guests began showing up, it didn’t take long for everything to start rolling. Harmony walked down the green grass aisle with her father Michael. David was waiting for her in cool shorts and a summery shirt. David’s friend played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on a ukelele, in memory of David’s mother.
After the ceremony, there was the cake cutting. I heard that the minister said he watches how a newly married couple feeds each other cake. If they feed each other respectfully, they will have a happy marriage. Harmony and David were very loving as they fed each other cake. A good sign.
The whole atmosphere was of a wedding/summer party. Hot and sunny, flowers everywhere, people smiling and fanning themselves. Little children running around blowing super bubbles. Lots of great food to eat, red velvet cupcakes, and happiness.
The next morning, Harmony and David started packing their car early to head back home. Cathy loaded them up with lots of leftovers. As they got into their car to leave, we all started crying (me too). I’m not sure why I was crying but I felt like it was my kids leaving too.
As we waved good bye, I told Cathy how my grandmother used to stand on her sidewalk and watch our car leave when I was a little girl. Yiayia would stay there until she could no longer see us. I get that now. I really do.
Blessings to Harmony and David on their marriage! May God grant you both happiness and many years together!