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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Splendid Torch

 It occurs to me that my last 3 posts have somehow dealt more with death and remembrance than usual... In the last week or so, we have mourned with a sweet family on the sudden loss of their mom, we have "run the race" with Travis as he  honored the memory of 2 firefighters who gave their lives fighting a church blaze, and on Memorial Day, we thanked the many military families who gave their all protecting this great country.

Death.  It comes in many ways.  Some know their fate and meet it head on.  To some, it comes unexpectedly and suddenly.  To all, it comes eventually.  And we mourn.  Grieve for the one we miss so desparately.  For lost moments.  For what could have been.  Always, we mourn.

And yet, my heart still beats with the message that Death for the Believer is one of Glorious Homecoming, a moment immeasurably Beautiful and Holy.  Not to be feared, nor grieved.  A blessing to the soul gaining Paradise, a Comfort and Peace to the loved ones left behind.

This would be the flip side of our mourning.  It is the conversation I want to have with my family.  An intentional discussion to let them know that just as I have embraced Life, so will I embrace Death.  I want them to remember the words I have spoken, that I am in a place of incomparable Magnificence, a place I have been journeying to all my life...

And today, I found a kindred spirit in George Bernard Shaw.  He speaks to this message so much more eloquently than I:

"This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.  Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.  I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.  I rejoice in life for its own sake.  Life is no brief candle to me: it is sort of a splendid torch which I've got to hold up for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

May your torch burn brightly as you journey this life!

Finding Grace in every Moment, Jane

Monday, May 28, 2012

And Some Gave All

                                                                     Photo Credit:  Freedom Isn't Free

We remember this Memorial Day...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Memory...We Run

Today was the Fireman's 5K Run in Ft. Worth, and Leroy and I were blessed to cheer on our favorite (and only) Fireman son!

Travis ran the race well, along with hundreds of dedicated and generous supporters.

The Fireman's 5K began in 1999 as a way to benefit the families of two firefighters who lost their lives while battling a church fire in Lake Worth, Texas.  It has since evolved into a fundraiser to support two very worthy organizations dedicated to grief support when families lose a loved one:  The Compassionate Friends and The WARM Place.

Travis ran to honor those men who gave their lives protecting others, as did his whole Engine Company. 

What an awesome group of young men!

And, of course, Travis' biggest supporters were there cheering him on all the way

You ran well, Travis! So very proud of you!

"Let us throw off everything that hinders...
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
                                           ~  Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, May 25, 2012

Numbering our Days

Ahhh.   What a fabulous week of camping!

5 days of bliss with friends, fun and food at Daingerfield State Park in East Texas.  Recharge for the soul.  Smiles for the heart.  Our group has been camping together for 20 years!  Every summer (or spring, depending on schedules) we get together for a long weekend of camping. 

We've watched our kids grow up through the years, laughing, playing and loving every minute of it! Nothing like getting back to nature, away fromt the phones, the tvs, the malls and just spending time re-connecting. And surprisingly, all our kids still enjoy it, even now that they're full grown with kids of their own! Go figure. Maybe we're on to something!

Here's our week of camping in pictures:

Home, Sweet Home!



Home-made Ice Cream

Campfire Sing-a-longs

Water Fun in the Kayak

Ladies Craft Time

Gluing on the Star!

The Finished Texas Flag!  Gorgeous!

Nature's Very Own Easy Chair

Touched by Beauty this week.

A blessed week to be sure.  Friends help shoulder the load, share the grief and bring laughter back into my life.  We packed and headed home with a lighter heart, ready to face the daily walk once more.  And even as we passed the gates of the state park towards home, my phone rang with news...

A good friend's mother just passed away from a massive heart attack.

Suddenly.  No warning.  Woke up with excruciating pain, called for her daughter, who made it to her side in time to call the paramedics.  She never even made it to the hospital.

Gone.  With a suddenness that takes your breath away.  Jana had no time to call for her dad or her sisters before her dear mama was gone.

Today she was laid to rest.  But the family mourns with a grief that is overwhelming.

And I think to the verse,

"Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
~ Psalm 90:12

For who among us knows the hour that our life will be demanded of us?  None of us are promised tomorrow.  And how do we live our life, our days?   My mom knew her pancreatic cancer was terminal and yet, she fought to see each new sunrise.  Jana's mom never knew that Tuesday's sunrise would be her last.  Do we know?

What a gift we are given each day.  Life.  A sunrise.  Hugs from a friend, love from my family.  Home-made ice cream and swallowtail butterflies.   Lord, don't let me squander even one minute.

Teach me to number my days and gain a heart of wisdom...

May your Grace continue to abide and guide, Always.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Glorious Explosion!

I've come to the conclusion that there are basically two seasons in Texas.


and WET...

For just a few short weeks every year, the two COLLIDE...

and we are gifted with a Glorious Explosion of Color!!!! the gardens

...along the roads


...even in the pasture!

We call it Spring!  And it lasts not near long enough, but oh, do I love the balmy days.  There's a sweet scent in the air, the haze of green everywhere and the vibrant display of nature in splendid disarray.  Winter has had long enough to wrap us in her cold arms of grief.  We are ready to breath deep and welcome fresh starts and new joys.

Mom would approve...

There's the slam of screendoors, the lazy buzz of bumblebees and a tall, glass of ice tea to remind me that summer is soon to follow.  For now, I'm enjoying every last minute of our Texas Spring!

And tomorrow we're heading off for a long weekend camping with friends.

The camper's old, but she's faithful!  This time we explore the Piney Woods of East Texas.  And relax into the rhythm of nature.  No time clocks, no hurry-ups, no conflicting schedules... Just time, precious time to catch up to doing nothing but laughing, loving and living... in the beautiful kaleidoscope of Spring.  It's about time we put that on our schedule!

May your weekend wanderings be filled with bursts of joy and life.  Breathe deep and enjoy every minute.

Escaping into Grace, Jane

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day.  I never dreamed in a million years that you wouldn't be here to hug on Mother's Day.  You know that it's been 5 months since I've heard your voice or squeezed your hand or saw your smile?   I miss you like crazy and there are days I just want to pick up the phone and talk for hours...

Dad is getting up every day and making it through.  It's hard.  He misses you more than words can say.  We stopped by the columbarium today and I think if there was a way, he'd move heaven and earth to bring you back.  He loves you so...

Did you know that Travis finally made it through the Fire Fighter Academy and has been hired locally?  He's so thrilled and he looks so good in his uniform.  Watch over him as he dives into danger, please?  He is such a good daddy.  Autumn and Aubree light up every time he comes into the room.  Autumn turned two in April and Aubree just turned 4 months.  I wish you could have met her.  Little Aubree is an angel, sweetest chubby cheeks and wide innocent eyes.  She snuggles up close and has the most adorable smile.  You would have just loved her to pieces...

Katie and Jordan celebrated their first anniversary a few months back and we all reminisced about their beautiful Wedding at Sea on the Cruise to No Where.  You were there.  What memories we made.  I can almost feel your arms around me as we hugged after the ceremony.  You were there encouraging, supporting and cheering us on as we struggled to turn the potential disaster into a celebration that will always be remembered.  And you were right, in the end love wins out everytime.  It did, and Katie and Jordan are still head over heels in love.  You would smile to watch them...

And me, I'm doing okay.  You didn't raise a ninny!   I know you want us to move on, to live life full and in color.  But... just every now and then, we wallow around in our grief.  It's okay, we don't stay there long, but oh, do we miss you.  I want to feel your hug, to hear your laugh, to walk through your front door and smell your pot roast and sit down to a big family dinner...

I cherish those moments and love the life you made for us.  As our family grows and we with it, I am learning more and more by the example you gave.  I love my daughter and granddaughters more than a heart can express, and am now the Mom and Memaw that they look up to.  Whisper in my ear just what to do to, to love them as you loved me...

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Love you always and forever...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Wait is Over!

Welcome our newest little peeps!

Two safely hatched from a clutch of 3.  We could hear the peeping this morning, but mama peacock had them safely tucked under her wing and wasn't budging!  Late this afternoon she unveiled her brood to admiring fans:

I feel that we should somehow alert People magazine for the exclusive first pics... Brad and Angie move over.  There's some new peeps on the block!

Mama's giving me the evil eye for getting too close to her precious chicks!  But they just beg to be cuddled!  No?  Well, maybe another day...

Precious new life, these farm babies make me smile...

May your weekend be filled with the simple joys that lighten your heart,

                                   In Grace Always, Jane

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Call it Spring Cleaning.  Or needing a fresh start. Or even a bit of insanity... But the blog is getting a redo. 

Hope you don't mind...

I've been fiddling around with the blog design features today and have sort of gotten carried away.  I'm the most technically-challenged one in the family, so it's taking some time.  Forgive the construction dust if you've visited through-out the day.  Not sure I've got it right yet, and I think I've changed pics and colors a thousand times. 

And... it will probably change again.  Just because I can.  I love learning a new skill.  Sometimes I get carried away.  Forgive.

Besides, we're still waiting...  It's driving me crazy!!

And I'm not the only one:

Praying your day was more "settled" than ours.

In Grace waiting still,

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It's Peacock nesting time here on the farm.  And Mama Hen's due date is nearing fast!  We can hardly wait...

Honey, our faithful farm dog, is beside herself with anticipation!

Or maybe it's hunger.  Did she just lick her chops?!

No worries, Papa Peacock has been keeping guard!

Actually, more like Pacing.  Poor Papa!

But the end is in sight.  Only a few more days.  After all, it only takes 28 days to hatch out Peacock eggs.  We're not talking elephants here!

Well, ok, easy for me to say...

But when you're waiting, even 28 days can seem like an eternity. 

And we know a little something about waiting.  Anyone who has lived with cancer knows about waiting...

Waiting for the test results... Waiting for the doctor... Waiting to see if the chemo has worked... Waiting to make plans for the "rest" of your life... Waiting for good news...

And dreading the Bad News with every fiber of our being.

Waiting can be a tortuous time.  Hard on a body, hard on the emotions, hard on the spirit.

Even the Bible Heroes of old had a tough time with the Waiting.  Moses struck the rock in anger waiting on the Israelites to cease their grumbling, Jonah ran in fear rather than waiting on the Lord to equip him for his calling, and Sara grew old waiting on the Lord to give her a son.  Might I add, she even laughed when told she would bear a child in her old age.

Waiting does that to a person.  It's not easy to sink in to the waiting.  How to quiet a mind that's racing with "what-ifs?"  or "could-bes?"  To relinquish the outcome, because it's already out of our hands...

Maybe that's why I love the Psalms so much.  David's perspective is so dead-on.  He was annointed Israel's chosen king when he was just a teen, but he had to wait many years, and endure many struggles before being able to rightfully take the throne.  Yet, through it all, he chose to relinquish the outcome and leave it in God's mighty Hand.  David was honest with the emotional upheaval in his life, we see it over and over in verse.  But his faith rings true as he proclaims an implicit trust in the goodness of God, despite his circumstances.

Psalm 27 is just such a song.  Read it all, keep it close, but for today, let me share the last two verses.  They are a beautiful encouragement for all of us who wait:

"I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."
                 ~ Psalm 27:13-14

If you are waiting today, take courage, trust in His mighty Hand for whatever is coming.  And prepare to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living...

Waiting with you in Grace, Jane

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The March of the Turtles

Spring brings out all sorts of things here on the farm.  Flowers and Bees, Hummers and Weeds.  But this week we've had the pleasure of watching the March of the Red-Ear Sliders!

There was this cute fellow in our driveway:

And then this little lost one up by the barn:

Each one looking for just the right spot to set up house-keeping!  Generally they make it to one of our two ponds.  But sometimes they get a little directionally challenged!  With a little help from a happy Goat Herder and two curious canines, these wayward Sliders made it safely to their destination!

But then I noticed the turtles leaving that lovely pond, crossing our country drive, and making tracks for the other pond, equally lovely, I might add:

A very determined Slider at work here.  The turtle crossing took approximately half an hour.  Of course, he took a snooze along the way, soaking in the sun's rays.  And he was somewhat photo-shy, closing up tight whenever I got near, but eventually he arrived and slunk into the leafy water with bliss:

And so it goes with the Turtle March.  Their inner clock tells them to get moving, and they do!

Sometimes they get lost and end up in a barnyard...

Sometimes they need a little help from their friends, and even if they don't seem to be appreciative, they really are (turtle smile)...

And sometimes, no matter what their mama told them, life looks "greener" on the other side of the road...

And then, sometimes they just have to stop and bask in the sun...

And sometimes they get it right, albeit, rather slowly, and find their perfect piece of Paradise!  Today I've decided there's nothing wrong with taking life slow, and I'm finding a delightful measure of Peace and Joy in the endeavor!

May your day gentle into Slow and give you time to soak up the Beauty all around...

Grace for the Moment, Jane