An Open Heart – Part II

(To read PART I, click here …)

Expect nothing… Just keep an open heart and an open mind.

Once in Florida with the idea of visiting my dad, Mark and I had also planned on driving a couple of hours to Tampa to finally see his biological son, Marshil, who he hadn’t seen since he was a small boy. Mark remained deep in thought and I could only imagine full of nerves. I pulled a sneaky, going along with Mark’s plan to drive to Tampa, all the while secretly scheming a different one. When I initially informed Marshil that we were going to be in Kissimmee on Father’s Day week, surprisingly, he told me that he, too, was going to be in Kissimmee for a couple of days that week to attend a concert. When I asked Marshil if he had mentioned this to Mark and he said no, I suggested for him to keep it that way. So together, we decided to spring a surprise reunion on Mark.

The big night finally arrived, the meet-up place was at a nice steak joint. Mark was none the wiser. He thought it was just a date night for us as we were to head out to Tampa the next day. Later, when Mark came out of the restroom, there stood Marshil right in front of him saying hello. They embraced and for a moment … time stood still.

Someone said: It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.

As I pensively sat and observed father and son’s mannerisms while listening to their conversation, I was amazed and touched by the connection transpiring right before my eyes. While I think it’s true to say, we expect nothing and hope for the best, my deepest hope and prayer is that these two men, so much alike, would not only reconnect but regain some of those years gone by. Neither one has had an easy life; many filled with pain, discouragement, and regrets with some hard lessons in tow.

Sometime later, I asked my hubby what was his takeaway in meeting Marshil. His answer with misty eyes, “I really like him! And he doesn’t hate me!”

I’ve read that every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes. I don’t know how much of that is true. I only know that these two men have strong work ethics, are likable, lovable, loyal (mixed with a little craziness), and have a record of being a number one, devoted step-dad.

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“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C.S. Lewis

Today the dam was broken. The tide has turned. The waters shifted.

Only God can heal and transform hearts. While it’s true we don’t know what the future holds, I know Who holds our future. I’m giving it all to God to let Him work out the details with all of my concerns, uncertainties, and troubles. He’s a lot better at holding things together than I am anyway. Thank you, Lord, for being the Author and Finisher of my faith!

Here’s to second chances and new beginnings! We all look forward to spending more quality time together with meaningful conversations in the coming days, months, and years ahead. 

Click here to read “My Heartbeat – PART I”

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My Heartbeat – Part I

This past Father’s Day week was anticipation of renewal and adventure. With the ongoing planning, came lots of prayers and nerves into the unknown.  

Let me explain …

As more and more Covid mandates lifted regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing, etc., people were beginning to venture out once again and do some traveling. It was decided that my husband and I would fly to Florida for a one-week vacation. Finally, I was going to be with my dad and celebrate Father’s Day with him. I connected with my sister and she made all of the meeting arrangements.

They said Daddy was in the beginning stages of dementia. My concerns were many … the main one being: will Daddy remember me? Oh, how I prayed that he would! 

In Kissimmee, we met up at an outdoor market, and when I walked up to Daddy, the familiar twinkle in his eyes met me and those eyes still sparkled! We hugged and kissed. Yes, he remembered me! Later when we embraced for a bit longer, I took his beautiful face all in and my tears started falling. He hugged me and looked me in the eye and asked, “Why are you crying?”

I cried because I love him. I cried because God is good and granted me another tender moment with my dad, forever imprinted in my heart. I cried because I miss my daddy. I cried because he is getting older and frail and I didn’t ever want him to forget me. I cried because we live in another state and I couldn’t always be by his side. I cried because I was grateful that I got to know him after he and my mom separated when I was 3 and divorced by the time I was 6. I cried because I knew he wouldn’t always be around for us to visit. I cried because of the dreaded impended reality of a child one day having to say goodbye to their parent. Forever.

To Everything There is a Season Ecclesiastes Saying Cricut image 0

Daddy, if you could see yourself through my eyes, you would then know how truly special you are to me. And I am grateful for our time together.

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When you thought I wasn’t looking

Author: Unknown

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,

and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you feed a stray cat,

and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you make my favorite cake for me,

and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I heard you say a prayer,

and I believed that there was a God to talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I felt you kiss me goodnight,

and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw tears come from your eyes,

and I learned that sometimes things hurt,

but it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw that you cared,

and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I looked….

and I wanted to say thanks for all the things

I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.


Becoming a Mom is watching your heart walk outside your body.


To all the Mommys out there. Your little ones are watching …

always remember your job is important and will make a great

impact for all eternity.

.

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He Completes Me

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

He is the one for me. He is the man who has stuck by my side since day one as my loving confidant, helpmate and best friend. He is the man who loves me, cherishes me, and tells me that I am beautiful. He loves me on my best days and he loves me on my worse days. He knows my past and has never belittled me nor made me feel inadequate. He is faithful, a man true to his word. I can count on his constant love and remain secure in his arms. He praises me in my accomplishments and encourages me in my failures. When I’m happy, his warm laughter melts my heart. When I’m sad or fearful, his gentle touch wipes away my tears.

I love you my husband. And I am proud to be your wife. I am truly grateful to the Lord for joining us together to share the remainder of our days. As we celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, may our constant love nourish and sustain each other until the end of time.

You can read about him in Chapter 42 of my book: “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

 

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¡El Chupacabra!

“I can draw just as good as our uncle can, or you,” Big Brother Ruben said matter-of-factly.

“No, you can’t,” I corrected.

“Can too.”

“Cannot.”

“Can—”

“¡Niños! Callense ya!” Grandma cut in. “Dis is why you two can’t be together.”

Ruben and I looked at each other, puzzled by what she meant. But this statement became the reason Ruben and I usually had to trade places during Daddy’s visitation. Because we siblings horsed around and played too “wildly” together, when our daddy would come for me to go to his house for the weekend, he’d drop Ruben off to stay with our grandparents or with Mama. This was the normal arrangement. On rare occasions, we visited together.

My brother loved to tease me to get a reaction out of me. One weekend together at Daddy’s was no exception.

“Com’on, will ya?” Ruben impatiently waved his arm as if it would fall off, standing with the bathroom door open.

Curiosity got the best of me. “Hold your horses,” I said, trying to sound like Mama.

Big Brother looked like the cat that swallowed a pigeon, a canary, or something.

“You better not be foolin’ me,” I warned.

“Don’t be so sentimental,” he said, practicing the use of big words.

“Am not.”

“Are too. And you’re never gonna guess what’s in here.”

“Can too.”

“Can not.”

“Gimme a hint.”

Ruben shook his head. “Negative.”

“Cuz, it’s gonna be nuthin’.” I stomped my foot and crossed my arms, dying to know what was inside. “You just tryin’ to trick me.”

He stood in front of the closed shower curtain and held onto it. “Ready?” Ruben asked, with eyes wide.

“Go on . . . it ain’t nuthin’.”

“It’s too . . . it’s—” With one swoop, Ruben yanked the curtain and cried, “¡El Chupacabra!”

I let out a long scream at the huge form floating in the tub.

Daddy came running out of breath. “¿Qué fue?” he demanded. “What’s wrong? What happen here? ¡Caramba! I hear you all da way outside.”

“Daddy, Ruben told me it’s ‘El Abra Ca Dabra, the goat sucker,’” I whined, mispronouncing the word. 

“¿Qué? ¡Oye! What s’matter wit you?” Daddy demanded in his accent. “Why can’t you play nice? You dun do dat to your sister.” He popped Ruben on the head with his hand.

My brother flinched but kept grinning at me, mouthing the words, “boba,” before he disappeared.

Mija, you know what dis is?” Daddy asked, holding me by my shoulder.

“It’s a pink, dead pig!” I screeched. “Why is he in the tub of water?”

“Gloria is goin’ to make pernil. We gonna eat him.

“Roasted pig? No, Daddy, that’s yucky.”

“Whachu talkin’ ‘bout? I betchu never had it before,” he said, closing the shower curtain. “You’ll see,” he winked, taking my hand. “It’s gonna be so good.”

If my daddy said something, he was usually right.

It was yummy.

Excerpt from “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace“, Chapter 7 – Big Brother

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My Son

Not long ago, my curly-locked hair little boy ran around with deep brown eyes and touched my heart each time he looked up at me.

And then I blinked, and before I knew it, this little boy turned into a strapping young man with a heart as pure as gold, and my core still flutters every time I gaze up at him.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you.

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We Love You, Paul!

There are some folk that come into your life and make such an impact, they remain forever imprinted in your heart. Paul was one of them. As I reflect on a memory of nearly a year ago, I wanted to share with my readers how one man made a difference to those who knew him. He was a godly man – a wonderful husband, father, grandpa, and friend. Although my husband and I had only known Paul a short while, he was one of the most endearing and God-loving individuals we had come to know, love and admire. His charm and wit was a breath of fresh air.

Last year, the ‘Andrew Sisters’ got to perform again for our church’s Sweetheart Banquet. Because of illness, Paul and his precious wife, Joyce, were unable to attend. So the Andrew Sisters went to them and performed “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in their home. It not only brought a smile to Paul’s face but it lightened up our day as well, while we hammed it up and sang (or rather lip-synced) our hearts out!

Paul Daugherty, we honor you. You will forever be missed on this green earth. We looked forward to the Blessed Hope, of that great reunion one day in the heavenlies.

Click here to read about last year's performance The Andrew Sisters – Near You 1947

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Road Less Traveled…my truth

This has been a challenging year for all. Never in a million years did I think I ‘d be alive, witnessing some of the things that are occurring these days! Many are left shocked, confused, angry and some have lost their ever-loving minds over worry, paralyzed in fear!

Is it not true everyday we have to make choices? Is it not a daily decision we make on what we are going to do, and how we are going to react? I for one believe in the power of prayer. Prayer brings results. But I don’t doubt there are days when our prayers cry out, “God, are you there? Are you listening?”

He is. And He does.

I do not pretend to have all the answers. I am flawed. I am an imperfect being trying to serve a perfect God. His ways are higher than my ways. As a Christian, I am not immune to the happenings of this world. Family and dear friends have experienced illnesses, some due to Covid; set-backs due to circumstances beyond their control, and hurtful disappointments because, well, we’re humans.

In Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Less Taken, towards the end he mentions about the road less traveled. I want to be on that road. What does that mean exactly? I’m sure different things to different people.

For me, the road less traveled is to be on the road of steadfastness, not faltering or leaning on my own understanding. I want to be on the road less traveled, collected and in my right frame of mind when much confusion lies before me that I feel overwhelmed. Although at times I may stumble and not know what to do, still I desire to be on the road less traveled in my prayer closet instead of bickering and complaining.

Someone please show me the road less traveled, trusting in God, instead of doubting Him. Lead me to the road less traveled, believing it is well with my soul and the best yet to come. Point me to the road less traveled, where I am not encumbered with the weight of the world with its troubles upon my shoulders.

I want to walk in faith and not in fear. Sing and not scream. Be tender and not hardened. Pliable and not crushed. Teachable and not a know it all.

These are my truths, what I hope to attain some day. I don’t want to follow the crowd of ‘woe is me!’ Rather that I listen in humbled silence to the still small voice that beckons me to be still and know that He is God.

 Whenever I approach two roads of life, I want to be the one who looked heavenward and took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

landscape photography of forest

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In Everything Give Thanks

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!! I'm thankful for all of you, and I just  wanted to let … | Happy thanksgiving images, Happy thanksgiving pictures,  Thanksgiving images

If I’m to be honest, I was bummed out for a couple of days, knowing I would be missing our traditional, family Thanksgiving Day celebration in our home, which has always filled my heart with so much joy. But now instead, I choose to focus on what I do have and count my blessings which are many, giving God thanks and the glory for all in my life!

Even in my worst days, He loves me! I have known Him in the valley, I have known Him on the mountaintops. While I love being on the mountaintops, it was in the valleys where I grew closest to my Lord and learned that the God on the mountain is still God in the valleys.

I am thankful He has giving me health, provision, shelter, a loving husband, beautiful family, and wonderful friends – He has made many dreams come to fruition.

I am a work in progress. Thank you Lord, for not having given up on me, and I know you’re not finish with any of us yet.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in
Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18

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Forever, For Always in my Heart

Soft, velvety cheeks. A round rosy nose. Dark hair like mine, but curly. Eyes, blue that sparkled like the ocean I’d seen in storybooks. I kissed her sweet-smelling face. Her soft, pudgy hand with tiny fingers, curled inside mine.

My sister, Anna, melted my heart. I won’t be alone anymore. I caressed her cheeks and whispered, “I’ll stay by your side for always.”

Soon left with the responsibility of caring for Anna, I became her substitute mother. I loved her and took care of her as best as a seven-year-old could.

Before I knew it, my baby sister turned two. Whatever we did, doing it together was more fun than being alone.

One particular evening, as I gazed into my sister’s baby-blues, a sudden feeling of sorrow swept over me. Tears clouded my eyes. Something burned within my chest. I cried out, “Please God, don’t let nothing bad happen to her!”

Anna gazed at me with her gentle, trusting eyes.

“I’ll protect you,” I whispered to her. “For always.”

Before bedtime, we repeated a child’s prayer Grandma taught me, one that hung on the wall:

“. . . I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep . . .”

That night I clung to my sister and kept the strange premonition to myself.

My legs trembled as I crept to her room and peered through the glass-pane door on my tiptoes. I saw a blinking monitor. Then I saw her—my baby sister—with soiled feet, still in her little, green denim dress, tattered and torn. She lay motionless on her back, her curly, brown hair matted with blood. Her face bruised and swollen, her baby blues closed tight.

I felt light-headed as I slumped on the floor, pulling my knees to my chest, crying.

At the funeral, I held my breath and willed my feet toward the small white casket.

Grandma squeezed my hand. I took my finger and stroked my sister’s face, which reminded me of a plastic doll’s, stiff and cold to the touch. Heavy makeup could not conceal her bruises. Her little head—now swollen from the blow of the car that hit her—was cradled by a bonnet, much too small. She wore a new green dress, cleaned and pressed, without stains. Nor traces of blood.

I glanced up at Grandma. “Your sister’s in a better place now,” she choked. Then I placed a small cross under Anna’s tiny, rigid hands. My tears blinded me.

“. . . If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”

Excerpt from “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

Each year as her birthday approaches, I think about how special my baby sister has always been to me. But those memories turn bittersweet, as it is difficult for me to separate how quickly we had to say goodbye to her, just a month after celebrating her 2nd birthday. Her memory will forever live in my heart, and for that I am grateful.

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