Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Follow the Leader

I just can't do it!

I can not allow the month of April (my favorite month) to come to a close and only have posted on Embrace the Grace twice!

If I did, it would be for ever and always.......April, 2014 (2).  

Readers would ponder and question, "Sheri could only think of TWO things to post about?  Sheri couldn't come up with even one more story of encouragement to share?"

That will never do!

Yes, I plan to write all about the PROPOSAL!  It's a story you will truly love.  (Pun totally intended!)

Yes, I have other thoughts to write about and elaborate upon.

But this story is time sensitive.  It will lose its potency if I wait until April, 2015 to tell it.  And since some of you are just now finishing off the candy in your kids' Easter baskets, it will still be relavent.

So here goes.......

We intentionally planned to share our Easter dinner on the Monday after because of all the excitement on Sunday.  In the early afternoon I dashed to the store and snagged several items from the Easter candy aisle that had already been marked 50% off.  Along with other things,  I chose thirty plastic eggs filled with candies.

About twenty minutes before the grands were to arrive, Poppa and I headed outside to "hide" all the plastic eggs in plain sight around the back yard.  The smile on my face stretched from ear to ear and froze there.  I was so excited!  Our first real Grandbaby Easter egg hunt!

Kristin produced two brightly colored paper bags.  (Because Noah is still a little young to search for Easter eggs, we opted for an outfit to mark his first Resurrection Celebration.)  When Abby and Spencer burst on to the scene, we quickly herded them toward the back door.

"Look at what I have for you," said Poppa holding up a single blue egg.  "We have lots of these hiding outside for you.  When we go out, you start looking.  You'll see them all over everywhere!"  He handed each toddler a paper bag.

Spencer understood right away and started jumping up and down.  I think there was even some squealing.  Abby looked over at Brother and did a "foot-on-the-ground" jump; then beamed up at Poppa.  (If Brother can, she can!)

Frank opened the door and yelled, "GO!"

Meagan had the camera on ready.  Abby looked a little confused until I took the toe of my shoe and "uncovered" the egg closest to her.  She steadied herself, bent from the waist and fumbled with chubby hands trying to secure the purple beauty for her green bag.

The camera clicked wildly, attempting to capture the look on that little face - shining with victory!

Spencer had dashed off in the direction Poppa indicated.

In just a moment, victory was his as well!  His joyous shout echoed off the fence.  Short legs pumped purposefully as he dashed back toward us.

"Yook!  Yook!  I found two!"  He clutched an egg in each hand.

What happened next made me cry.

"Yook, Abby!  One for me...............and one for you!"  Big Brother carefully deposited the pink egg in Abby's paper bag.  Then he turned and ran back toward Poppa just as if every three year old child gladly shares when given the opportunity.

Yep, I cried.  Meagan and I both cried.  When we told the story later, Poppa and Kristin cried.

The phrase that comes to mind for closing?   "......a little child shall lead them!"  May it ever be so for us all!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Such Fun!

My heart is full to over-flowing!

While life is never dull; seldom slow; hardly ever boring........the past ten days have taken us to warp speed and have caused my head to spin a bit!

Ten short days ago, I was blissfully enjoying a day of shopping with the girls and babies.  We were looking for the final elements needed for perfect Easter outfits.  (I ended up repeating a faithful skirt and blouse that looked "Easter-y".)

Riding in Joy's car meant joining in with the impromptu "sing-along" led by Spencer and Abby.  Favorites like "Bress de Yord O my shoul....." and "Oh, happy day! He wajsed my shins away..."

Periodically, Abby called out from the back seat, "YOUD!  Noni, shing Youd!"  Which means, "Turn up the volume! Get more involved! This is important!"

Just before reaching the next store, Spencer quietly starting singing, "Up frum de grabe He aroj..."  (Up from the grave He arose.)  I thought, "Oh, how precious!  He knows the first part of our favorite Easter song."

But he didn't stop with the first phrase.  He sang the ENTIRE chorus!  By himself!  Complete with hand motions on the last three lines!

Tears immediately sprang to my eyes as I looked over at Joy.  She was shaking her head and smiling.

 "That was supposed to be a surprise for family sunrise service," she said apologetically.  Grandma Linda started teaching it to him during her last visit.  Joy had helped him finish learning it and even Abby got in on the action.

No Easter basket, new frock, nor hat and gloves available in all the world could have made my Resurrection Celebration more special!  (No, I don't wear a hat.  But it would be fun, don't you think?)

Adding to our Easter excitement was knowledge of another coming surprise.

Mr. Cody McGhee of Auburndale, FL had asked permission from Pastor Frank Hawley to propose to one Kristin Nicole Hawley!

We all conspired to work around his plans - surprising her topped his list of requirements.  I'm saving the details for another post.  It truly was a most romantic proposal.  You'll smile through the entire story.


Frank and I pulled last minute details together preparing to fly to Delaware to speak for a couple's retreat.  Several meetings took place right up until 10PM Wednesday, making sure GGC was set for their weekend.

We got up at 5AM Thursday, packed, dashed back by the office one last time.  Our friend Johnny met us there and we headed for Tampa International.  Fifty minutes later, he dropped us off at the departing area and we joyfully waved farewell.

Joking and laughing, Frank and I navigated our luggage inside, stepping up to the check-in counter.  There were no lines so we were able to exchange a few words with the friendly lady serving as greeter.  As we talked, I fished out my wallet for I.D. Frank started patting his pockets.

"What's wrong, Honey?"

"I can't find my.......   Oh, NO!"

"What?!"  His intense look told me all I needed to know before he even spoke.

"I left my wallet in our car - at the church!"

Please understand, we aren't novice travelers.  We have a routine that usually helps us avoid such disastrous moments.  In fact, we'd only gotten a couple blocks from the church when I realized I'd left my purse on my desk.  We had to turn around and get it.  Frank has most gracious and didn't complain a bit.

That generosity was about to come back to him!

The greeter noticed our scramble and stepped up.  She went directly to a supervisor to ask what could be done.  The only ID Frank had with him was a business card and I had a bank card with his name.

We knew there was NO WAY for us to make our flight.  We'd be flying into Philadelphia later than expected IF we could get someone to bring Frank's wallet to Tampa!

But miraculous favor was resting on us.  There's no other explanation.  Each step along the way, agents accompanied us to explain the dilemma.  The TSA agent did a total pat down and meticulously swiped every item in Frank's carry on bag.

One hour later we were sitting on the plane - as scheduled! 

I hear Abby's little voice, "Shing, Noni!  Shing YOUD!"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thank You!

I've been off line these two weeks because my dad took a fall.

Fortunately, he's doing well - nothing broken.  But it was a nasty spill.  He tripped over a cement parking marker and landed full force on his head.

His glasses went flying.  His arm and knee were both badly scraped.  Because he takes a blood thinner, the bleeding was profuse.  The initial blow caused his right eye to swell shut almost immediately.

Friends got him to the hospital quickly.

The attending physician ordered an MRI; no internal bleeding.  They managed to stop the bleeding from his arm and knee.  Got a strong pain killer on board.  Another friend got him home and settled with an ice pack on the ballooning eye.

The next morning, Dad called me to relay the story.  All the while he was assuring me that he was going to be just fine.

When I got off the phone, Frank and I immediately started making arrangements for me to drive the seven hours to be with Dad.  His feigned confidence didn't fool me for a minute.  Family emergencies demand that everything screech to a halt.

I spent the next four days doing my best to care for my extremely independent father.   One tough assignment!

My dad lives in a very rural part of north FL.    So Monday saw us driving many miles to visit his primary physician - basic report.  His ophthalmologist - vision screening and new glasses.  His dentist - probably a cracked tooth.

Then Monday afternoon around 4, we loaded the car for the drive back to Winter Haven.  Because he still couldn't see very well it meant all the driving fell to me.  And of course, it rained bucketfuls for almost 100 miles.

When I finally fell into my own bed around midnight, I was one tired little girl.

"Little girl?! You're 55 years old, Sheri!"

True.  But don't we all turn back into little girls when we're around our dads?

It wasn't until the next day that I realized how often my husband says, "Thank you."  And conversely, how seldom my dad says it.

A cup of coffee.

A meal.

A laundered shirt.

A retrieved blanket.

All these items/actions merit a thank you from Frank.  And those two simple words do so many things:  affirm, encourage, acknowledge, even heal.

As I pondered the importance of such a simple courtesy in all our lives, I had the privilege of hearing a wonderful sermon on this very topic.

Martha Tennison (a powerful minister and mentor) highlighted the importance of gratitude.  "In fact," she said, "God expects us to maintain attitudes of appreciation.  It helps us stay humble to remember that we are all indebted to someone."

With that in mind, I wanted to simply say - THANK YOU!  Thank you for taking time out to read this blog and journey along with me.

My gratitude is genuine!