Stories For My Children

Grandma Dixie, a.k.a. My Mom

I’ve talked a lot about my dad in the last couple of posts. Today I’d like to share some memories of my mom. None of you had the chance to meet your Grandma Dixie. She passed away when she was 40 and I was pregnant with Michelle. She knew I was pregnant, but we never really had the chance to even talk about it. She died in the hospital of cancer, quicker than we thought possible.

5-year old Mom at their farm in Arkansas.
5-year old Mom at their farm in Arkansas

Dixie Lee Carr was born April 30, 1940 in Little Rock, Arkansas (her last name would later become Schultz when Grandma Ida’s second husband adopted her). My mom was a vivacious woman; very creative, outgoing, and even charismatic. Unfortunately, she was a bit oppressed by my dad – a very dominant personality. She really came alive when he wasn’t around, which is very sad, but true. I think they were happy in the beginning. I’ve seen pictures of them in the early days, both wearing big smiles. When I knew them, though, there was a lot of fighting. Mom seemed happiest when Dad wasn’t home. In fact, she tried to leave him several times with Grandma Ida’s help. I remember being whisked away in the middle of the day while Dad was at work, by Grandma. Usually we went to my great grandma’s house out in Palmdale – the desert. Dad always found us though. He promised mom that things would be different, and they were for a week or two, then the fighting would start again. She finally succeeded in leaving him when I was in my senior year of high school. Dad finally agreed to a divorce, but he kept all six of us kids.

Happier days with Aunt Lois & Uncle Lelon

In all honesty, I kind of understood Dad taking custody of us. Mom was also somewhat emotionally delicate. Six kids was way too much for her. I remember her having several emotional breakdowns as I was growing up, and Grandma Ida would swoop in and rescue her. Grandma was a rescuer. I’ll explain more about that later. I remember we would go to Grandma’s house for a few days and she would basically take care of all of us. Well, this was all before Diana and David were born, so there was only four of us. I guess by the time my parents divorced, mom desperately needed a break. Six kids and an oppressive husband would wear anybody down.

Mom & Dad with the first four kids (standing L to R; Thom, me, and Mike. Dad is holding Pam).
Mom & baby Diana (baby #5)


So, Mom moved from Norco, Ca. (where we lived when they split up) to Huntington Beach, Ca. and Dad hauled us kids to Texas. He was raised in Texas and tried to live there a couple of times, but Mom hated it and we always ended up back in California. Which was also my preference, most of the time. I finished my senior year of high school in Needville, Tx. at Needville Sr. High while living with Aunt Lois and Uncle Lelon. I never quite understood this part: Dad sent me to Texas first, in the middle of my senior year of high school, to live with Aunt Lois and Uncle Lelon. He and the rest of my siblings remained in Norco until right around the time I graduated. Why I couldn’t have just stayed with them and graduated from Norco remains a mystery to me. I wouldn’t trade my time in Needville for anything though, in spite of the fact that I originally didn’t want to go.

Mom at our house in Norco. She may have been watching T.V. When this was taken.

Back to Mom. I think she came to Texas to visit once, after I graduated and was once again living with Dad. I was working as a grocery checker at Kroger in Rosenberg and we were living in a trailer somewhere between Needville and Rosenberg, I believe. We weren’t there long before we moved into a dilapidated farm house off Highway 36 in Rosenberg. It was on a beautiful piece of land, but the house was in terrible shape; slanted floors and no running water. We didn’t even have mattresses on our beds. We slept in sleeping bags on the metal frames. NOT comfortable! Anyway, before too long Dad and I got into it over someone I was friends with and he kicked me out. I high-tailed it back to California as quick as I could and moved in with Mom.

At the time, she was in an apartment in Huntington Beach, working at an electronics company in Irvine as the receptionist. I don’t remember working at all while we were in that apartment. In fact, I think we moved to our condo closer to the beach pretty quick after I moved back because most of my memories are in that condo. It was about a mile from the beach (maybe a little further), and several of my siblings rotated in and out of there while we were there. Thom was there the longest I think. He and I used to ride the bus to the beach every day then come home and hang out drinking Schlitz malt liquor and smoking a little weed (I was a wild child for awhile). I worked the night shift at a Carl’s Jr. down Beach Blvd. a little way from our place. Beach bum by day, fast food worker by night. My mom’s boyfriend also lived with us. His name was Richard Carrville, but everyone called him “Hap”. He was a goofy guy and I never figured out exactly what Mom saw in him, but he was good to her and they even ran a trucking company together for awhile – D&H Trucking.

This was taken at Uncle Rick’s house, I believe while we were living in Huntington Beach. L-R sitting is Pam, me, and Mike. Mom is in the chair behind us.


Eventually, Mom got me a job at the electronics company she worked at – Delta Electronics – as their Document Control Clerk. It was actually a really interesting job. I worked a lot with the engineers, made blueprints, and kept track of all the schematics and blueprints that the engineers used. I enjoyed it. I met two of my best friends in the world there; Bob Scott and Tanja Devitt. Bob was an engineer and Tanja was a secretary. They were important parts of my life for many years. I’ve lost touch with both of them now. The last time I talked to Bob was when Josh and Matt were just little guys. Tanja I last spoke to shortly after we moved into the John Thomas house – some 30-years after we first met. She was my maid of honor at my first wedding to Jim VanKeirsbulck – another story for later.

Anyway, this is the beginning of the end of Mom’s story. She got very sick while we were both working at Delta Electronics. I remember having to drive home from work because she was too tired to do it. She ended up being diagnosed with lung cancer (she was a smoker and so was Hap). At first, it was Hap who took her to all of her doctor appointments and treatments, but eventually it interfered too much with his work (he was a trucker) and Grandma Ida came to help. I continued working at Delta, going to the beach as much as possible, and basically living in denial of the fact that my mother was dying. Strangely enough (or maybe not so strange) I feel like I got to know my mom better than I ever had growing up. There was a short period of time when the cancer went into remission and I’ll never forget it because some of my favorite memories with her were made in that short little window of time.

At the time, I was dating an adorable guy named Pete Capello. Pete was very outgoing and my mom loved him! He was Italian and a dancer (and that’s all I’m going to say about that). He and I used to go clubbing and one night Mom went with us. We had so much fun! I think Mom was kinda in her element; socializing and flirting. She looked very happy that night. We didn’t stay out too long for her sake, but it was plenty long enough to create a great memory. Another night, it was storming and we heard that the waves were really high down on the Huntington Beach Pier. Mom and I hopped in the car and drove down to check it out. We ended up taking a walk on the pier, in the rain, with the waves crashing over the side of the pier. It was awesome!! I will never forget it as long as I live! In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a real smart thing to do as storms have wiped the end of that pier out a few times. I don’t think we walked all the way to the end though, so we were fine.

Shortly thereafter, Mom went into the hospital for the last time. The last time I laid eyes on her; Grandma Ida, Uncle Sandy, Uncle Rick, and myself were standing around her hospital bed. She was completely incoherent under the effects of morphine. It was very sad. I went home and later that night, Grandma woke me up to tell me she was gone. Twenty days before my twentieth birthday, I lost my mom and Grandma lost her daughter. To this day, some 40-years later the memory still makes me cry. I wish I had known her better and I am thankful that I got to know her as well as I did.

My mom was creative and crafty. She sewed most of my clothes for me when I was younger. She could draw like nobody’s business. Thom inherited that talent from her. She had a green thumb and could grow anything. She was a wiz in the kitchen. She could make the most amazing meals out of seemingly nothing. She adored our brother, Mike, even though she used to throw her hairbrush at him when he was trying to talk to her while she was on the phone. I’m pretty sure Mike was her favorite. She called him “Mickey Mouse”. Her nickname for me was “Brandy”. No one else has ever called me that. She and my grandma spent countless hours at our kitchen table in Santa Ana, surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke and coffee steam. My mom always had poodles! From the time I was little and we lived in Garden Grove, I remember her having a poodle. I hate poodles, but she loved them. Her favorite flower was the red carnation. I had one in my bridal bouquet in her honor when Jim and I got married. The yellow rose was her and Dad’s flower, according to Dad. I remember thinking she was so beautiful when she would dress up for a (rare) night out with Dad. She loved to laugh, and she was a fighter. Her ancestors were Irish and she had that same spirit; feisty lovers of life. She gave cancer a run for its money, but it just wasn’t enough. Her grave stone in Westminster Memorial Park on Beach Blvd., says “Thy will be done”. I don’t know why it was His will to take Dixie Lee Miller from this world at the young age of 40, and leave six kids motherless, but it was.

I can still see her smile and I know she would be crazy about all of you! I so wish you could have met her! I can only hope that through these stories and the few pictures that I have, I can somehow keep her memory alive enough that you can feel like you know her just a little.

Until next time!
I love you bunches!
Mom 😊💕

November, 2018

Grandpa Miller a.k.a. My Dad – Part 2

When last we left off, dad was in his heyday at The Sundown; shooting pool and playing poker. Well, as I mentioned, he had a day job. At this point in time I think I was in second grade at H.B. Anderson Elementary in Garden Grove, California.

Dad drove a truck for the old White Front stores that don’t exist anymore.

I don’t know what kind of truck it was, but it wasn’t an eighteen wheeler. It was more like a delivery truck and he stayed local. Quite often, he would take me with him on his deliveries. I loved doing that with him, and he always took me somewhere cool for lunch; a burger joint in Newport Beach, a hot dog stand in Anaheim. It was an adventure to a 7-year old. My dad was a foodie before it was a thing. He loved to eat out. I’ll never forget one particular time, he and mom took me to a nice restaurant called “The Dream Machine”. It’s not around anymore. I’ll never forget what we ordered! It was called the “Viking Feast” and it came out on a huge wooden plank; all kinds of meat and vegetables. You attacked it with your fingers and it was so fun! I felt really special and grown up that night.

Another favorite restaurant was the Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse. It is very famous and still around. They have a strict “no ties” rule and if you wear one inside they cut it off and hang it from the ceiling. It’s a very rustic place with trees growing inside it and amazing food! I can still taste their steak fries!

We went there just as often as we could. The whole family loved it! Then there were the cheapy nights when we went to Pup n’ Taco, a privately owned chain of fast food restaurants in Southern California. They haven’t been around since the 80’s, but the fact that they lasted something like 30-years is amazing to me! The cheapest food I’ve ever had. Possibly the reason I have never liked hot dogs. 😂
Well, enough about food. You probably get now, why I like to eat out so much. I think it’s genetic. 😉

Oh! I just flashed on a memory from the apartments we lived in across from The Sundown and Stater Brothers. Across the parking lot from us there lived a family with several kids, all redheads. One day my brother got in a fight with one of their boys. My Uncle Mavis was visiting at the time (my dad’s uncle. I’ll share more about him in a minute) and he and dad were watching from our apartment door. Keep in mind, these guys are old school country boys. Kids fighting is entertainment to them. Well, the neighbor seemed to be getting the upper hand on my brother so who does Dad send in to help? Me! Fortunately, I was a bit of a tomboy and had no problem with dad’s request. Once I joined in the sisters of the other boy did the same. It was pretty much a free-for-all and I couldn’t say for sure who won, but my memory tells me we did. 😉. Keep in mind too, we were all under 10-years old. Not a lot of injury was inflicted on either side, but Dad and Uncle Mavis had a good laugh.

Uncle Mavis! What a character he was. He was my dad’s uncle so really my great uncle, but we just called him “Uncle”. I loved that man to death! He was loud and boisterous and did magic tricks like the old “watch me pull a quarter out of your ear” trick. He also used to make us these old-fashioned wooden airplane things that he whittled himself. They’re actually called Hui Sticks or Magic Propellor. You rub the stick up and down the notches and it makes the propellor spin.

We were enthralled with them – especially the fact that Uncle Mavis made them. We thought he was magical! He taught me how to play chess and how to float on my back in the pool. He and dad would argue all the taboo subjects; politics, religion, whatever – and they would get LOUD! Uncle Mavis had one of those voices that just naturally projected anyway, so when he actually yelled. Wow! I adored him. Sadly, I lost track of him as I got older and didn’t even know when he passed away. Your Aunt Diana found out what happened to him while doing some of her genealogy research. Apparently, a nephew or somebody lived with him toward the end and wouldn’t let anyone have contact with him. Diana can tell you more of THAT story.

Oh man! I feel like like I could sit here and tell stories all day. Remembering this stuff just brings an avalanche of memories. I should probably write them down while I can still remember them. Like the time I went to a Brownie meeting with a friend from school (still living in the apartments and in second grade). In case you don’t know, the Brownies are a part of the Girl Scouts. Anyway, at that time I rode the bus to and from school. This particular day I took my friend’s bus home with her, unbeknownst to my parents. I don’t remember all the details or how they found out where I was (probably my friend’s mom), but they did and I was in a heap of trouble. The funny thing is, it didn’t even register with me that I might get in trouble for doing this. I was just going home with my friend. Kids! It was a different world back then. We were taught not to take candy from a stranger and that was about the extent of our “stranger danger” training. This wasn’t a stranger though, and my parents never told me I had to come straight home from school – until that day. 😂

Which reminds me of another story, many years later with another little girl. This one wasn’t her fault, but it was a huge scare nonetheless. I was at work one day and my then husband, Art, calls me to tell me that my then 7 or 8-year old daughter never showed up to school. I rush home to find cops at my house wanting a picture of my daughter. I am FREAKING out! Worse case scenarios are running through my head. Almost every police officer in LaPalma was out looking for her. One of those beautiful police officers decides to double-check at school and guess what? Michelle is sitting in her classroom, right where she’s supposed to be. Turns out, she was a few minutes late and the teacher didn’t mark her present! I was fit to be tied and that teacher and principal got an earful! Parenting is such fun! 😂

Okay. I’m done for today. I’m sure there will be more Grandpa Miller stories, as well as stories of many other favorite characters. Until next time!

I love you bunches!
Mom

December, 1989ish

Stories For My Children

Grandpa Miller a.k.a. My Dad

Me & Dad at the Fallingleaf house in Garden Grove

My dad is on my mind a lot right now. This past Tuesday would have been his 81st birthday. And just days before that, I started seeing a commercial on T.V. Featuring the song “Hey Good Lookin'” by Hank Williams, Jr. Dad used to sing that all the time, and would often greet me with an Elvisesque “Hey good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?” Especially if I was in the kitchen.

Your grandpa was quite the showman. He loved to dance and sing, and could do a mean Elvis impression. I know why Grandma fell for him. Despite all the stories of what a terrible father he was (and he certainly never won Father of the Year), he had his moments and definite good qualities. He was also an awesome grandpa!

Our house in Santa Ana (where we lived from the time I was in 4th grade until my sophomore year of high school) had a built-in pool. I even remember the address; 2321 W. Monte Vista. Every now and then dad would play in the pool with us. He would let us stand on his shoulders then dunk himself under water and spring back up, catapulting us into the water. We loved it! He taught me how to dive in that pool.

I’ll never forget it. I was terrified, standing on the edge of the shallow end staring at the two glass dolphins on the bottom, listening to dad’s instructions. I couldn’t do it for the longest time. It was one of the rare occasions that dad actually displayed patience. He promised me everything from a new doll to a new wardrobe if I would just dive in. I don’t remember what finally did it (I was 9-years old), but I mustered the courage and finally dove in just like he told me. The bribe window had already closed, but I felt pretty proud of myself and have basically been a fish ever since. We spent many fun-filled hours in that pool!

Dad with Shelly, Lissy, Josh, and Matt at our Fitzpatrick house in Concord.

Dad liked to entertain too. Pool parties were common occurrences in our Santa Ana house. Grilled hot dogs for the kids and steaks for the grownups. I remember that because I always wanted the steak. Dad had regular Friday night poker parties too. He let us watch as long as we fetched beers for them. The mornings after were our favorite. The poker table was still set up and us four older kids would sit and play with the cards and chips (poker chips). Eventually, dad taught me how to play a few poker games; 5 & 7 card draw and stud, Mexican sweat, 21. He taught me how to shuffle the cards and ante up. I haven’t played in decades and don’t remember a lot of it, but I can still shuffle a deck of cards pretty well.

Dad was actually a pretty talented guy. He was an amazing pool player and won lots of trophies. We even had a pool table for awhile and he seemed to really enjoy teaching us kids how to play. When I was seven or so, we lived in an apartment in Fountain Valley, Ca. Across the street was a Stater Brothers shopping center (apparently they’re still around. ) complete with a bar called The Sundown (also still around!) where my dad spent quite a bit of time hustling for beer money.

Stater Bro’s. back in the day.

He had a day job, but most nights he could be found at The Sundown. Sometimes on the weekends I was allowed to go with him during the day, when it was quiet. He participated in his share of bar fights back then too. I remember him coming home one night, his face a little bloodied and his shirt inside out. He was the sweetest drunk, very loving and affectionate. Quite the opposite of his sober self. He could be and more often was, a bit of a tyrant. I grew up with welts and bruises from his belt, mostly out of anger or frustration. He was not a level-headed disciplinarian.

In spite of the fact that I grew up terrified of him most of the time, I loved my dad and grew to appreciate him and his perspective as we both got older. I have a lot more stories to share about him, but this is getting lengthy. I’ll do a part two next week, so stay tuned! Until next time!

I love you bunches!
Mom

August, 2009

Stories For my Children

Starting At the Start

On the day that I was born, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States and Richard Nixon was Vice President. The top 5 songs in the U.S. were; Elvis Presley – It’s Now or Never, Brian Hyland – Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, The Ventures – Walk, Don’t Run, Chubby Checker – The Twist, and Brenda Lee (my namesake) – I’m Sorry. The popular show on T.V. was this one. It ran for years because I remember watching it.

Gas was $0.31/gallon. A gallon of milk was $0.49, and the average house price was $16,500.00.

Saturday, August 27, 1960 in Santa Ana, California at this hospital, Dixie Lee Miller gave birth to her first child – me!

She and my dad, Bobby Lee Miller, lived in this house. Lee is a popular name in the south. My mom was from Arkansas and my dad was from Texas – born in Oklahoma, but raised in Texas. I know very little of this time as my parents weren’t big storytellers or sharers.

I believe Dad worked for Thrifty Drug Stores at the time. They’re not around anymore
I remember Dad taking us to their ice cream counter when I was older and had a couple more siblings. It was always a treat!

Dad used to bring me home these dolls called Nancy Ann storybook dolls. I believe Thrifty sold them.
I had them all and LOVED them! I don’t know where they went, but I really wish I still had them!

The first house I really have any memory of is this one:
12413 Fallingleaf St., Garden Grove, Ca. It looks very different now. When I lived there that white fence wasn’t there and the front yard was all grass except for a driveway going straight up to the garage. There was also a big shade tree of some kind in the front, not a palm tree. The fence that went along the side of the house was all wood, no concrete. We used to watch the Disneyland fireworks from this front yard in the summer time. The first time I ever ran away was here. I went to my friend’s house across the street. I remember my mom helped me pack a paper sack. I couldn’t have been more than five. I wasn’t in school yet. I’m sure she got a good laugh out of that.

I actually have a lot of great memories from this neighborhood. My friend, Tammy Bywater, who lived across the street. We played Barbies together all the time and my younger brothers played with her brother, Curtis. John Fitzpatrick was a teenager who lived down the street in a house with a pool. The pool had a big bamboo fence around it and he used to babysit us. He drove a car with an “Aoogah” horn and I remember him telling me that the “Aoogah” meant “I love you”. Something I always looked forward to was the ice cream truck with it’s magical music coming from it and this truck: the Helms bakery truck bringing us donuts! I think I liked this one even better than the ice cream truck!

I also have a couple of traumatic memories from this house. Like the time Dad accidentally ran over my baby brother, Mike, as he was backing out of the driveway. Praise God he survived and was just fine, but it was scary. Or the time one of my dad’s friends accidentally dropped hot cigarette ash on my hand. I still have a tiny remnant of the scar. Or when we were about to move from that house to Texas and leave my beloved Grandma Ida. I remember crying in her lap because I didn’t want to leave her. We were very close my entire childhood, but there will be stories about her later.

I think that’s enough reminiscing for one day. We got a new treadmill today and your dad needs help setting it up. We had no such thing when we were kids. We did all of our running around outside. It’s a different world! Until next time.

I love you bunches!
Mom 😊💕

May, 2019

Stories For My Children

It was recently pointed out to me that the stories of our lives need to be shared. They are not just for us and I agree. My parents and grandparents are gone, as are most of my aunts and uncles. When I think of the stories that went with them, stories I will never hear, I feel sad. Their stories could have shed so much light on where I came from, who they really were, and family history in general.

In a lot of ways, my parents and grandparents were enigmas to me. The world they grew up in was so different from mine. They didn’t share their feelings like we do now. Appearances were everything and dirty laundry was not to be aired in public. You chose a practical career that could make you a good living. “Follow your bliss” was not a thing. Even when they did share stories, they were only the amusing or positive ones.

I don’t want my children and grandchildren wondering who I was when I’m gone. There are many stories that they’ve never heard. So, I’m starting a new segment here for posterity. For my descendants who want to know the stories. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I have a ton of journals that they can read and I even have a couple of mom and grandma “fill in the blank” story of my life books that I’m working on.

Family history is so important, I think. To know who and where we come from is a huge part of our identity. Obviously, I can’t share every nuance of every day of my life. Heck, I don’t even remember every day, but I’m hoping that through these stories, my children will feel confident that they knew me (and if he’s willing to share, their dad/stepdad too) long after we’re gone. Stay tuned!

😊💕

At-Home Anniversary

Day 25 of our state-wide lockdown and my and my husband’s 26th wedding anniversary. It feels a little weird. In the past, we’ve enjoyed a weekend away or even just a day trip somewhere. Last year for our 25th we enjoyed a whole week in Branson, Missouri. This year we won’t be going out to dinner, or to a movie, or anywhere outside our house. And our anniversary is even on a Friday this year! Friday is a perfect night for a night on the town! Normally.

Things aren’t normal right now though. Rich is still working, that much is normal. I’m still at home all day, that’s pretty normal. Except for the occasional coffee date with a friend, shopping with my daughter, or visit to my sister’s I don’t get out a whole lot. What’s not normal for us is the ability to come and go as we please and without a medical mask. The inability to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a favorite restaurant is not normal.

What’s life without a little adventure though, right? Opportunities to be creative are what make us grow and expand our horizons. So, while this anniversary might be different for sure, it can still be special. I just need to get a little creative. 🤔

Three Little Words

There are three words that my children say that I really don’t like and they’re not, “I love you”. Can’t hear that enough. No, the three little words I’m speaking of are, “Don’t tell Mom”. Really?!

First off, my kids are all grown so what do they think I’m going to do? Ground them? I think we’re a little past that. Maybe they don’t want to upset me. They’re being protective. Again, we’re all adults here. We get upset sometimes and we get over it. In my case, I probably won’t even remember by next week so they should take advantage of THAT. Unless they’re planning a surprise of some kind I don’t see a reason for keeping things from me. Doing that probably upsets me more than whatever it is they think they need to keep from me. It makes me feel excluded from their lives and that just makes me sad.

There were plenty of things I kept from my parents when I was a kid because A: I didn’t want to get in trouble and B: I didn’t think they’d understand and . . . I didn’t want to get in trouble. That changed when I became an adult because I couldn’t be punished by them anymore. Also, I came to understand that they understood a lot more than I gave them credit for. Granted, I still didn’t want their disapproval, and that was something I had to get over.

So, to my children who say those three little words even now that they’re grown – get over yourself! I understand that; you’re human, you’re not me and don’t share all of my opinions and beliefs, and that I’m not always going to be happy about every decision you ever make. That’s okay. You’re a grownup now and get to make your own choices and live with your own consequences.

You don’t need to keep anything from me or worry about whether I will disapprove or be upset. I’m a big girl with a big God on my side, not to mention your extremely loving and supportive dad. I can handle anything you can throw at me (some things may require more time than others, but I will eventually always be okay). Never forget that regardless of your choices, actions, and attitudes my three little words to you forever are, “I love you”.

👩‍👧‍👦💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 2

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” -Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭NKJV‬

Around the holidays it is so easy to get caught up in the festivities and preparations, to get frazzled and stressed, and to lose focus on what really matters. It’s easy to forget the real reason for the season. I’m as guilty as anyone. 🙋🏻‍♀️ I lose my peace when I focus on all the “to-do’s” and nothing else. That’s no way to enjoy the season and that’s not how God intends for us to live our lives – all year long.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” -John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
So, the key to a peaceful holiday season? Keep your focus on Christ, trust in Him, and “let not your heart be troubled”.

Enjoy time with family and friends, perform random acts of kindness, and help someone in need this Christmas. There are so many opportunities to serve this time of year and no better way I can think of to keep our focus on Christ when we’re out there going and doing. Slow down a little and even just share a smile. The simplest gesture of kindness can go a long way!

Prayers for a peaceful Christmas to you and yours!
🙏🏻😊💕

In Honor of Mother’s Day

purple petaled glower besode pen

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

A Mother’s Heart

The pain of a child is magnified
In the loving heart of its mother
She carries the burden and feels the hurt
more deeply than any other.
Regardless of the child’s age,
she never really lets go.
The apron strings may have been cut,
but with heartstrings it’s never so.
Joy to joy and trial by trial
she watches her baby grow.
Tenderly caring, worrying and wondering
in what direction their life will go.

The happiness of a child is multiplied
in the loving heart of its mother.
She cherishes the smiles and records the laughter
all stored in her memory forever.
Regardless of the child’s age,
she lives for those happy moments.
Their laughter is music to her ears.
Her children fill up her senses.
Their smiles are her treasure,
their hugs her fortune,
and when they say, “I love you”
her day is won!

The life of a child is held forever
in the loving heart of its mother.
The deepest pain, the greatest joy,
The heart of a mother is like no other.

                                                                                                      © 2019, Brenda Lenz

Moving On

black car on hi way with fog

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

I’m going to be totally transparent here.  I am a dreamer, and I’m a little spoiled.  I blame my husband for the spoiled part.  He does everything in his power to make me happy and  when I really want something, he’ll move heaven and earth to get it for me.  Just as a small example; I decided I wanted a dog a couple months back.  Rich has NEVER wanted a dog.  In fact, he has been adamantly against living with one the entire 27-years we’ve been together.  It is the ONE thing I thought he would never let me have my way on.  I was wrong!  We lived with a little bundle of half beagle/half rat terrier energy for exactly one month. At which time I decided I’m not such a dog person and this particular dog needed a younger home.  My husband spoils me.

This combination of spoiled and dreamer causes me to have a hard time with the harsh realities of life.  I’ve been this way my entire life, even when I was up to my eyeballs in harsh realities; being homeless for one (that story is for another post).  My oldest son once referred to me as an “ostrich mother hen”.  Even he was aware of my need to bury my head in the sand while attempting to control my circumstances  at the same time.  Interesting visual, isn’t it?  😂

I enjoy making things look beautiful, my life included.  So, when things get ugly I do my best to spruce them up.  When my efforts end up being futile I get frustrated, confused, sad.  Eventually, (recently actually) I learned an important lesson.  Sometimes life is just ugly.  Sometimes things are really hard and there’s nothing to be done, but do your best to move on.  Sometimes God’s answer to my prayer is, “No. My grace is sufficient for you.”  Which means that He will help me to move on because that’s what I need to do.  And sometimes I really need His help!

When I’m tempted to try and resurrect something that is long since gone, or recreate the original situation when I don’t like the way it has changed.  Those are the times when I really need the strength, peace, and grace of God.  My kids are grown and they’re not magically going to turn back into 5-year olds.  My health has diminished, I’m aging, and there’s nothing I can do to be 25 or even 30 again.  The one constant in life is change and it amazes me how much I fight against it if it’s not a change I wanted.

In the midst of many changes in my life, I am doing my best to adapt and adjust my attitude. I’m trying to look forward rather than back.  It’s not easy and I have moments when I feel only loss.  Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Attitude is everything.  I believe that.  Every day I need to make the choice to look forward, to have a positive attitude about the future and all the possibilities that are there for me to discover.

God is good and He has good planned for me.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT.‬‬  Sometimes the good takes the path of hardship on its way to me and I have to look hard for it, but it always shows up.  I was never promised a perfect, pain free life.  None of us were.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬. Sometimes things are just hard and there’s nothing to be done except pray for what you need to get through it and move on.

😊💕