Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Finding your JOY

Recently, I have begun following a blog.(  This precious lady is mom to one of my little dance students.  Mother and daughter are both such lights.  Becky's posts reminded me of how I enjoy writing and that I rarely take the time to do anything for myself, so today I'm hitting the keyboard and getting back to it.

CHRISTMAS season is among us.  It's a time of great joy for some, but also the source of stress, sadness and loneliness for others.  I can recall Christmases when I was run ragged, trying to get all of my shopping done, gifts wrapped, parties attended, parties hosted, menus planned...the busyness was overwhelming.

CHRISTMAS season is truly about the HOPE that the birth of CHRIST brings to the world.  Even Charlie Brown and Snoopy get that.  Some people miss that part.

Yesterday, as I was sprawled out on the floor wrapping gifts, I spoke to a friend who expressed relief that she didn't have to do any of that--no gifts to buy or wrap, no hassle, no stress.  I looked across the room at the packages in pretty paper, waiting to be adorned with ribbon and bows, and I did not feel overwhelmed or frustrated, rushed or troubled.  I felt GRATEFUL.

Yes, I am grateful that I can marathon gift wrap on the floor for an hour or so and still get up, move my body and teach dance classes.
Which made me feel grateful for Christmas dances where my students proudly show their parents what they have been learning.  I think of the videos and pictures, the smiles and proud parents and all that stress melts away.

I look at the different wrapping paper scraps strewn across the floor. A different paper for each girl, and I am so grateful I have my girls to select, give to and wrap for.

I chuckle as I wrap up little "happies" for my parents.  My gift selections are simple, and I am grateful they are both still with me to celebrate this year.

And I look at the "practical, grocery list kind of gift" I need to wrap for my sweet husband and again, am grateful for his sense of humor and wit.

My JOY is in my family, my loves, and my love for what I do everyday.

Not everyone has a family surrounding them, but if you look hard enough, you will see there are people all around you who love and care for you.  Lovely neighbors who join you on your morning walks, or co-workers sharing the ups of downs of what you do, friends who are busy, but love and care for you even when they can't be there physically.

I find that I encounter wonderful people wherever I go.  Maybe it's the friendly produce man at HEB, or the sweet checker, a kind parent of one of my dance students, the postman checking to see if I saw the package on my front porch.  All you have to do is open your eyes and SMILE.  And there it is, your JOY.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, MaMa--Remembering You Today and Always

Today would have been my grandmother's 94th birthday.  She would have hated for me to have shared her age with you.  I just wanted to share my reflection of what a wonderful woman she was. 

Perhaps you have had the privilege of sitting at her table and know firsthand what a FANTASTIC cook she was. Perhaps you were a “coffee friend” and you sipped coffee at 4 o’clock and had a piece of her FAMOUS 5-Flavor Pound Cake. Perhaps you can recall a time when she did something special for you or someone you love. Because to know my grandmother was to be filled.

Not just filled with tasty treats, strong coffee or sweet tea, but filled with LOVE.

My grandmother knew what it meant to GIVE. She knew better than anyone that it is far better to give than it is to receive. She was a giver. Before the term “servant’s heart” was made popular in church circles, she embodied what it is to have a servant’s heart. My grandmother served all of her life. She served others—her family, her neighbors, her friends and most assuredly her Lord. She taught us all how great it is to SERVE.

My grandmother was a prayer warrior. We used to joke that she had a hotline straight to God! She prayed through the most difficult losses in her life. She prayed for her family, she prayed for her friends, and she prayed for friends of those people—sometimes people she never knew. She shared her faith by praying for others. She was a real woman of FAITH.

My grandmother was determined. If you knew her well, you know that she was not a patient woman. (and I really RESPECT that quality in others since I might tend to demonstrate a bit of that myself) She was a busy person. She did not sit idle. MaMa (as we call her) was a worker. She said you must do so that you can do. And she did—pick up sticks, blow leaves off the driveway, sweep the porch and vacuum and vacuum and vacuum. That’s why she was never an old person. Even though she might have been chronologically older, she was not an old person. Throughout her life, she continued to DO.

She loved her home. She loved her yard. And she loved her birds! Matthew 7:26 says: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns…”–That’s right! The birds did not worry about storing up food b/c they all knew the way to MaMa’s house! Her favorite birds were the red birds or the cardinals. They never went without bird seed—MaMa saw to that! She kept her hummingbird feeders full of sweet, red nectar and the bird feeders full of seeds. She shooed away the squirrels (at times with a bb gun) and really enjoyed caring for the birds. She really CARED.

She cared for her family like no other. She loved and cared for her husband, my PaPa. She once told me that she was married for a year before she knew he had a fault. She loved and cared for my beautiful Aunt Bobbie throughout her battle with cancer. She loved and cared for my mother and daddy, my brother, my husband and me. And let me tell you how much she cared for my girls. During her time in the Woodlands, she was always uplifted when her great granddaughters came to visit. And in her last years, when she wasn’t able to physically serve others, she gave us an opportunity to serve her, teaching each of us about exponential love and compassion.

My grandmother was WISE. She had clever little sayings that often painted a real picture of her wisdom. Some of my favorites are: “Pretty is as pretty does”; “That’s no hill for a stepper”; “Self-praise is half scandal”; “Roll with the punches”; “Skin a gnat and swallow a camel”. Have I ever told you what she would say when we would come to the door? She kept her storm door locked and would come to unlock the door when you rang the bell and say, “Lift the latch and come in.” And we all came in, one by one, and we were each touched, served, loved, and cared for by her. On Thursday, February 26, 2009, in the early morning, I know that the Lord ran to that door and said to MaMa, “Lift the latch and come in.” And imagine the fanfare with which she was greeted.

It's been almost two years, since MaMa died.  I think of her often and miss her so much.  So on the day that would have been her 94th birthday, I'm reflecting, remembering and reliving many moments I was blessed to spend with a dear, dear lady. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Does God Read My Blog?

Today while walking the 3-mile power walk, I noticed the wind whipping up. Leaves trickled down softly, landing in the road, on the sidewalk, all over the driveway. I watched those leaves twirl and dance to the ground and couldn’t help but smile and think of my precious grandmother. She would have swept the porch three times already and had her blower plugged in and ready to go. She didn’t like an idle leaf on her pavement. It was rare that any leaf idled there long when MaMa was on watch.

I started thinking about all these little things that have been happening. It’s like my grandmother knows how much I miss her and knows she is on my mind. Out of nowhere “Good Housekeeping” magazine began arriving in my mailbox. I didn’t order it. I loved to read them at my grandmother’s house. She always had the latest issue ready for me when I visited. When it arrived in my mailbox, it was like a little gift from MaMa. I wondered how she knew I needed it.

I also have this little red bird that crosses my path from time to time. My grandmother especially loved the red birds! There are many birds flying through our wooded neighborhoods, but this little cardinal always seems to be the same. I only see it when I am alone. I am beginning to wonder if my grandmother isn’t sending it to let me know she’s with me.

This was taken at Christmas 2004.  It was the last Christmas she spent at home. 
She fell and broke her hip February 2005 and spent
the next 4 Christmases at Regent Care Center in The Woodlands.

There are so many things I would like to share with my grandmother. I know she would marvel at my “What’s on Tara’s Table” Facebook page. She wasn’t the most objective person when it came to me (and isn’t that just one of the best things about grandmothers?), so I have no doubt she would delight in each and every post.

This picture of my FABULOUS
Aunt Bobbie was taken at a
beach house in Galveston. 
It's one of my favorites. 
I often wonder what my Aunt Bobbie would think about my latest wine discoveries. She first exposed me to wine and taught me to appreciate it. She would have absolutely LOVED Hubbell and Hudson. Bobbie enjoyed “gourmet” treats like no one I’ve ever known. She was all about the “something special”.

So, God, if you read my blog, would you let my grandmother know that I miss her terribly and wish I could share my latest culinary creation with her? And would you tell my Aunt Bobbie that her two great nieces have inherited her love of jewelry and flair for fashion? Could you let them know that I hope there is some way that they could know all the neat things I’m doing? But most of all, could you just let them know that I learned so much from them and hope I am making them proud? And a hug and kiss wouldn’t hurt. Thanks, God. You’re the best!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Doing the Right Thing NEVER Goes Out of Style

Good Samaritans are few and far between these days.  It seems like there are a lot of people who are "all about me" or "what's in it for me". 

Just recently my husband, Charlie, was driving to Beaumont for a retirement celebration for a co-worker.  It was on a Friday that Charlie was off.  He had many things he needed to do around here, but this fellow retiring was a great guy and Charlie felt like it was important to drive over and wish him well.  Lucky for Bob Berry!

On the return trip, between Houston and Beaumont, along I-10, Charlie stopped off for gas.  As he filled up his tank, he noticed a wallet on top of the gas pump.  He opened it up to see who it belonged to and found Bob Berry's driver's license.  Charlie used his phone to look up Bob's address and phone number.  When he called his home, he reached Bob's wife.  Mrs. Berry told Charlie that 80-year-old Bob had been on a joy ride on his Harley when he left his wallet behind.  (Yes, I said 80 years old!)

Later that day, Bob and Charlie spoke and made arrangements for Bob to drive up and retrieve his wallet the next morning.  Bob arrived during our neighborhood Halloween Breakfast. 

Bob and Charlie posing in front of the Harley.
 The best part of Bob's visit was his GREAT story for leaving his wallet behind.  Bob said that he was just finishing up when this limo full of 20-something girls in various stages of dress drove up.  They had flyers for a new club called Girls, Girls, Girls.  They were offering to give him a lift to this new establishment.  Even an 80-year-old man gets distracted by young, scantily clad women.  The good news is that he turned them down and hopped on his bike.  Unfortunately he forgot his wallet, AND he told his wife the WHOLE story when he got home.  We were all rolling!

So during our short time with Bob, we learned that he was a marine and a decorated war vet from the Korean War.  He told us that with getting older, you start losing friends.  He said the friends that are still around can't drive anymore and their wives have to drive them around.  Bob said, "Or they're sick, can't walk or on some medication and can't drink anymore."  He told us that he had to get some younger friends.  So he bought a Harley.  Bob says it's like being in a fraternity.  He has friends wherever he goes.

What a character!  80-years-YOUNG and full of life!
We all enjoyed meeting Mr. Bob Berry.  I don't think our neighbors will ever forget this Halloween Breakfast! 

What we all learned is that it's always fashionable to do the right thing.  It might have taken a little effort to find Mr. Berry and track him down, but we all know the fear of identity theft.  His wallet, in the wrong hands, might have actually MADE it to Girls, Girls, Girls.

But for us, we were blessed to meet this fine gentleman who served our country proudly, who lost soldier buddies in war, who has a new lease on life after doing a little evaluating as his aging comrades began dying off.  I think we all learned a lesson from Bob Berry. 
  1. NEVER, pay attention to scantily clad women with a flyer for a new club.
  2. And, never grow old!

Even Hope and Gracen got in on the fun.
 So it just goes to show you, there are still honest people in this world.  I happen to be married to one.  Mr. Berry offered Charlie something for his trouble, but my southern gentleman shook his head and said, "No, thank you, Mr. Berry.  Meeting you was thanks enough." 

And with that, Mr. Bob Berry climbed onto his big blue Harley and started it up with a roar.  Charlie had mapped out a nice route for his return ride home to Houston.  He turned around and gave a big smile and a wave and was off like the wind.  Safe travels, Mr. Berry!