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Someone’s Watching Over Me

Sunrise 2

“I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

This quote speaks volumes about the last month or so of my life.

My mom was ill almost all of February and now as she progresses in her recovery, I have a chance to look back and reflect on what really happened.

It is clear that I’ve been watched over. And a path was cleared along the way for me.

Twice last month I narrowly missed being involved in a car accident. If I’d have been seconds later or earlier I would have been hit. I was not.

One morning I was scared and worried about my mom. It was at the beginning of her illness and she was very sick. I happened to be standing at my kitchen sink, looking out the window into my side yard. A singular, enormous doe came out from behind the pine trees and began walking towards my house. She stopped right outside the window, just feet away. I froze as I met her gaze and it was as if she looked right through me. I knew at that moment that my mom was going to be ok. To me, that was a sign of Grace.

The truth is, I have had signs all along the way. People have shown up for me, my mom and my sisters. I finally began to tone down my worry when I realized all I had to do was believe. It was really that simple.

I swear God sees things coming. He sends in reinforcements, interceptions and angels. When I remember to truly Let Go, I just stand back and watch the magic unfold.

A few days after my mom was on a new floor, a rehab floor, I walked into her room and there was a sweet dear friend of mine assigned to my mom as her nurse’s aide for the day. Imagine! In a whole hospital full of people, my friend was assigned to my mother. Was this a coincidence? I think not.

When we believe and have faith, our life can be full and rich and bursting at the seams. No one said it was going to be easy. But someone’s watching over me (and you!) and all we have to do is trust.

Do you ever feel like someone is watching over you? Protecting you? Tell me about it!

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Happy Birthday to “The Gavinator”!

My grandson Gavin is one of the biggest blessings in my life. As I write this, he is on the eve of his eleventh birthday, growing out of all of his clothes at record speed. He teeters on the border between being a little kid and becoming an adolescent. He wants to be a grown up but he’s just not there yet. Sometimes he’s so good at arguing his point I think he’d make a great lawyer.

The fact that he is here at all is quite a miracle. My daughter is 29 years old as of this moment. If you do the math that would make her, yep, 18 years old at the time of his birth.

It was a big trauma initially when my daughter told me she was pregnant. I am the oldest of my sisters and female cousins and I was worried about the effect this would have on the family. I said something to my cousin Angie one time about it and she said “You showed us how to handle it”. I don’t know what I was worried about. Everyone was supportive. Thank goodness for open and loving families.

Gavin has taught us many lessons. When he was two or so, he stopped calling my husband “PAP” and started calling him Jim. He still calls him Jim. (He calls me Nana) When he was three, he overheard Jim being impatient and short with me. Gavin stopped him and said, “Jim you were not talking to Nana very nice. I think you need to say you’re sorry.” So in front of Gavin, Jim came to me and said he was sorry.

Jim calls Gavin “the Gavinator” I think because he is a powerhouse. He’s all boy. He likes to ride motorbikes, zoom on a skateboard, catch a fish. Jim loves to show Gavin how to fix mechanical things, take care of the chickens, tell a good joke. The men on my husband’s side of the family have a weird sense of humor and thankfully Gavin knows how to play along.

Gavin told me one day that Jim told him how we came to be together. In a stern voice I said to Gavin, “Tell me what Jim told you.” He said (with a grin) “Nana, you were washing your face by the side of the road one day. Jim was driving by. He stopped and said Come with me and you’ll never have to wash your face in cold water again. So you went with him and he bought you an ax to chop wood.”

I said GAVIN, DO NOT LISTEN TO JIM!!

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says: Grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your children. I laugh when I read this but truly, Gavin is a big reward for hanging in there through some tough times. He is for us, I believe, the opportunity to try again, to do better, to be given another chance. And my daughter? Last year she received her bachelor’s degree. When God gives us a chance to swell up our heart, we should take it. Who knows what it will bring?

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Make Way for the Spring Chickens!

In honor of Spring, I want to invite you over and tell you about our chickens. My husband Jim got bit by the chicken bug a few years ago. A friend of the family happened to give us a baby rooster. That baby rooster somehow fostered a fowl love story for my husband and daughter.

The rooster has long passed on but my husband’s love for chickens has only grown. I have to say, I was not thrilled when I found baby chickens in an incubator in my garage a few years ago. I swore that I would not help with them- ever- because I was so bent on not adding one more responsibility to my full plate. Obviously the chickens have persisted and thrived, due largely in part to my husband’s and daughter’s care. They provide us with ample, or more like an abundance, of eggs.

Initially, I was so skeptical of the eggs that I only used them in cake mixes or as ingredients in recipes. I was a bit nervous about eating them hard boiled, fried sunny side up or scrambled. After a few dozen eggs wasted on cake mixes, I realized my ridiculousness and fried up a few. I was forever changed.

There is something special about the eggs. They are fresh of course but without all the modern things done to the poor commercial chickens, there is a distinctive difference in the taste of them. They are the true definition of Organic. Even their appearance is different. The shells are much thicker and the yolk yellower. Scrambled eggs come out the color of sunshine.

My mother called me recently and warned me about a salmonella scare regarding eggs. She didn’t realize our eggs are salmonella- proof.  There is no way our eggs could have ANYTHING other than goodness.

During warm evenings, Jim lets the chickens out of their coop to run around the yard, scratch and eat bugs. Our trusty yellow lab Ms. Jordan guards them with a sharp eye, her motivation being her daily treat of a delicious egg. Letting the chickens run around the yard like this used to be another source of  annoyance, but “the girls” (nickname for the chickens) have won me over.

As you can see by the pictures, we don’t have the run of the mill white chickens. We have Araucanas and Buff Orpingtons. Their eggs are a beautiful soft green and light brown color. It’s convenient for Easter as we will probably just hard boil them!

If you have a bit of space in your back yard, the motivation and a good chicken book or mentor, there’s no reason you can’t have your own chickens. Just remember to make the coop very secure or intruders like raccoons, possums or foxes will make a delicacy of your chickens.

I have to admit, there is something about being able to live off your own land that makes life a bit more meaningful. When we plant our garden in the summer and have abundant vegetables, I remind myself how lucky we are to be able to grow and provide food for ourselves.  Jim’s newest hobby is bees and he’s put in a couple of hives. I can taste the honey already. I’ll bring you around again when I’m ready for that story.

A big thank you to my daughter Michelene Cain, for these beautiful pictures!

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Jordan, the Wonder Dog

I’d like you to meet a special member of my family. This is Ms. Jordan. Just like any other family who has a beloved pet, we think Jordan is just the icing on the cake. We are not sure of her exact breed, but obviously she is a lab/retriever mix. And, she seems to have the gifted traits of both of those breeds.

We didn’t have to pay a cent for Jordan. My daughter Michelene was at a friend’s house one day and when she came out to her car to leave, there was a buttery colored pup sitting by her car tire. Mickey said it’s as if Jordan was saying  “what’s happening! what are we doing next!?” Mickey knew where Jordan lived so she walked to the house, knocked on the door and inquired as to her availability. The next thing you know, she was ours.

Jordan has been with us almost five years now. Her biggest claim to fame is her reputation as a fearless hunter. She will not allow any wild animals in her yard. Raccoons, groundhogs, possums, beware! She grabs any intruder by the scuff of the neck and they are (gulp) history

The reason for this? One reason could be our chickens. We have a coop on our property that is home to nine chickens. When Jordan was maybe a year old, a possum got into the chicken coop in early spring (in the middle of the night!) and the noise should have woke the dead. As soon as we opened the door to the coop Jordan moved in and that poor possum never knew what hit it.

Since then, Jordan has become very protective of the chickens (we call them “the girls”). Every morning, Jordan checks the girls with Jim (my SO) to make sure everyone is ok. When all have been accounted for, Jordan receives her prize: the oh so yummy treat of a fresh egg.  Jordan lays it on the ground, cracks it open gently, licks out the insides, then delicately eats the shell. To watch an 80 lb dog eat something so gently just makes you shake your head in amazement.

The chasing of small prey though has unfortunately had its consequences. Jordan has compromised the ACL muscle in her back right leg. At first, she would limp on and off but gradually this became more of a problem. We took her to the vet, xrays were done and options were discussed. Low and behold, Jordan now wears a harness with a flexible leg cuff that enables her to live just about normally.

The harness/cuff apparatus was an expensive package($400- $500).  Coincidentally (or not!), I received a bonus from work just about the same time we realized Jordan was going to need the harness. Not long after I got the news of the price of the harness, I was in my car. I couldn’t help but feel sad and sorry for myself over spending my bonus on this expensive apparatus. Geez, easy come easy go, I thought. As I was driving the two lane road to work, I noticed a large semi truck coming towards me, on the other side. This truck had a fancy wind deflector on top of the cab. I looked up at the right moment and noticed the word on the wind deflector: JORDAN.

Well, I burst out in laughter. My anger and irritation vanished. I realized at that moment my bonus money was for Jordan, not me. It came through me, that’s all. This event stayed with me for a while. I honestly believe God sees things coming. He sends gifts (opportunities!) through others because he knows what we are going to need. If we are paying attention, we’ll notice they are truly gifts.

I hope I said thank you that day for the bonus which enabled us to give Jordan the gift of a normal life. If not, I’m saying it now, in front of everyone. Thank you!!

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Christmas….Keeping it simple

English: Plateful of Christmas Cookies

Keep it simple!

I am a self-professed over doer. Like anyone these days, I want to keep my job, get everything done at home, be prepared for what may happen next, decorate my house beautifully for Christmas, make everyone a batch of delicious cookies; the list goes on and on.

What I realize of course is that I set myself up for my own impossible goals. Then, thankfully, my sense of reason kicks in and I have my AH HA! moment. My consciousness reminds me ya can’t do it all!

Gone are the days (hopefully!) when my plate was never full enough for me. I was always thinking how much more can I possibly pack into my day? Even when I think I’m taking it easy I can challenge myself to look closer and question my own schedule. Can I snip a few things here or there? Squeeze in an extra nap? Cut back my Christmas list just a bit?

This year, I am paying a single mom to make cookies for me. Baking is not high up on the priority list for me and Jillian loves to bake. This isn’t costing me a fortune (I am rich in many ways but not when it comes to my pocketbook!) and I love this young girl I am giving this task to. We will both be winners on this one.

I am having a large crowd on Christmas Day for dinner. Last year, I insisted on using real dinnerware, silverware, etc. for 25 people. It was very nice of course but my plumbing almost backed up from all the dishes we washed. This year, it’s going to be beautiful paper plates, holiday paper napkins wrapped around good plastic silverware and easy food offerings (some pre-done!) that are easily warmed up.

The perfect Christmas does not have to be perfect. It can be a last minute guest, a batch of botched cookies that you laugh over, a chance to reconnect with an old friend. This year, I want my holiday to be more about relationships- I want to spend time with my family and friends that mean the most to me.

So for me this year, I’m open to whatever may come my way. Hopefully it will be a less intense, more deeply satisfying connection to the true meaning of Christmas.

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