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Mysteries and Family History: She Started It

Sigh. Unpacking sucks. 

I recently moved and as I slowly (seriously snail paced) unpack my totes and suitcases, I realized there were still things I should have given away…things I just don’t need.

Tonight I started opening my totes of books…I will spare you the number of them…but in one of the totes I thought was books, I discovered my family tree research. More than that…it is multiple notebooks compiled by my Nana Jana. 
When I opened the tote…it smelled like her house and tears overflowed my eyes. I may have hugged notebooks. Her notebooks.

She gave them to me about a month before she died. I didn’t want to take them, because I knew why she was giving them to me.  But she insisted. It was much easier to take them than to argue with her. You really couldn’t argue with her. Ever.

I just miss her. So. Much.

She is the reason I am our family historian and researcher. All the information I started with came from her. She started researching in the early 1990’s. Right around the time she lost her Mom. Maybe it was her way of carrying the legacy forward. Maybe it was the way she dealt with her grief. Not sure 100%. But I’m grateful for the foundation I had because of her.

All the information she gave me she got the old school way…calling and writing letters to the family elders. Then she got stuck. She didn’t know how to proceed.

So in 1996 she asked her granddaughter,  who was going to England for a semester,  to check into some things for her while she was there. The granddaughter was really busy studying and flirting with foreign guys and didn’t really do anything. In her defense…she didn’t know how to look up that kind of stuff.

Then in 1999-2000-ish, same granddaughter..aka me…started looking things up online for her Nana. And got hooked by solving the mysteries for said Nana. 

So my unpacking is currently delayed by me hugging her notebooks and running my fingers over her handwriting intermixed with mine, where I filled in blanks for her. 

Even though I proved conclusively we are not related to William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame)…I did find interesting ancestors and entertained her with stories about our people. It was our thing. Like Scrabble and Dancing with the Stars.

So you have Nana to thank if you enjoy mysteries and family history. Cuz…

She started it.

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Musical Monday…Seasons and Waves

 Ecclesiastes is not necessarily one of my fave books of the Bible. It is said to have been written by King Solomon towards the end of his life…and it leans a tad cynical with a twinge of regret. I usually gravitate towards the creation in Genesis, the love of 1st John, or the smack down truth of Romans.  But there are times when Ecclesiastes is exactly where I am at.

This past weekend was one of those times.

I wanted to know when it would stop making me sad to go to Aldi, when I could see strawberries and not well up, when sunshiny spring days wouldn’t make my heart hurt, and when Friday night would not seem so empty.

Sounds weird…yeah. But Nana used to call me and ask me to run her to Aldi. Sunshiny spring days we’d play Scrabble on the deck. Whenever strawberries were on sale at Kroger or Meijer I’d pick them up for Papa. Friday night for a really long time was Papa date night. 

Saturday was the anniversary of Nana’s departure to heaven. Papa’s birthday is this Friday. And Papa left to join Nana in heaven on the 30th. March was rough last year…and even harder this year.

I’ve heard grief comes in waves. Well it’s quite the swell today.

When I was asking when those memories would make me smile instead of well up…I heard this…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT
Today I’m sad…but thinking of her also made me smile. Same for Papa.

Nana started me on my family tree researching. I loved calling her with breakthroughs and showing her printouts of documents. I miss that. 

I miss being called “Missy.”

I miss her dancing with us in the basement to the 8-Track of silly songs.

I miss Papa date night. 

I miss mall walking with him and him tattling on me to Nana if I bought something while we were there.

I miss looking at the “fake” art, and leaning my head on his shoulder watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

 I will always miss them. 

 Point to ponder while you wander… Enjoy today with your people! Embrace the ups and downs, and use them to cultivate a deeper relationship. It’s worth it.

PS..this is a musical Monday so…here’s The Byrds version of the scripture above…it’s a groovy tune.  “Turn Turn Turn

Okay..so I’m in NY

I’ve been having conversations lately about living vs existing with Jesus, my roommate, and several others. I need to fully LIVE this life and I haven’t been. 

John 10:10 is really on my heart…Jesus came to give us life…abundant life. But we need to choose to receive that gift and really life every day as an adventure.  I was beginning to just sit in a rut of work and Netflix. (11. Seasons of Criminal Minds, Stranger Things,  and the like) And that is NOT who I am. Not even a little bit. So this trip I am on is me returning to me.

What trip? On Thursday I decided to go to a women’s conference in NYC. I flew out on Friday. And now I am in NYC for the weekend. Yesterday I started exploring a little bit and I started to feel alive again for the first time in a while.

Maybe my rut came from me being in grief. Maybe from fear. Maybe from the weariness of waiting. I don’t know. But I stopped exploring and being spontaneous. I love exploring my Michigan and her cities.And I just stopped. 

I just sorta checked out.

So if you’re in a rut too, get out and explore today. LIVE! Do something spontaneous. 

YES!  Jesus died to reconcile and reconnect you to God. 

YES! Jesus died to take your sin and shame and for your healing, body, soul, and spirit. 

YES! Jesus died so you could be free from the weight of sin and death. 

BUT He also was RESURRECTED so you can LIVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! And He sent Holy Spirit to EMPOWER you to be bold and courageous.  

So dooooooo it! Get out there. Go after what makes you feel alive. 

Point to ponder while you wander…your time on Earth is short…even at Moses’s 120 years…in comparison to eternity. So take some time and ask yourself what makes you feel alive? What really wakes up your soul and makes your spirit do flips in your belly?

Then partner with Jesus and go doooooo it!

You may not be living your dream life right this second…but that doesn’t mean you can’t fully live right where you are! 

PS Want to change? Change your perspective my friends…because true change begins with a changed mindset. You we were given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. Use it. Declare it. Tell fear to go back from whence it came! 😉

Turning a Bad Night Around

Last New Year’s Eve I was supposed to hang out with someone, they bailed on me last minute. I was irate.

New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday…so I did not want to stay home and mope.

But what was I going to do?

Go dancing?

Nah.

Find a party?

Nah.

Call other friends?

Uh…maybe.

Go celebrate with Nanny and Pops?

Yes!

So I stopped at CVS and bought some party hats and sparkling grape juice and showed up to celebrate with them completely unannounced.

Here’s some of the fun we had…

I didn’t know it then, but this was their last time ringing in the new year. A few short weeks later Nanny went into the hospital and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Two months later I lost them both.

I am so glad I chose to interrupt their quiet evening and keep them up til midnight; singing and dancing around their house, and laughing with them.

Point to ponder while you wander… Please take time to celebrate milestones. Be silly! Enjoy the people in your life. Those memories of giggles and sillyness strengthen and buoy you in the sad times. Trust me on that.

Cheers to great memories! And Happy 80th Birthday, Nanny!

 

Why I Loved Him

One of the most beautiful moments of my life was also one of my most heart wrenching.

My sister and I went to the assisted living center where our Boppie (Grandpa) had been living. We knew he only had hours left but being there in that moment made my heart ache and my eyes fill.

When my sister left the room, I asked him if I could pray with him and he nodded. I prayed that he would be at peace and know that He made a difference in our lives. And truly understand our lives were better because he was in them. I prayed he would know how much we loved him.

When I opened my eyes I saw tears streaming down his face. I didn’t realize then what a gift it was. I didn’t know my voice telling him I loved him and his life mattered were the last things he would ever hear on this side of heaven.

But I know now.

I know now that those few moments with him were a precious gift. The value of that time with Boppie was made really clear to me when my sister called to tell me our Dad had died.

I had been trying to get a hold of him for over a week. But I wasn’t worried about it because I was going up there and would see him that next weekend. But that next weekend was 3 days too late.

Thankfully the last time I talked to him I did tell him I loved him. But I wish I would have told him why I loved him and that he mattered.

So in honor of my Daddy I’m going to tell you why I loved him.

I loved him because he had compassion for people. I understand the compassion of Jesus better because I saw it displayed in my Dad.

I loved him because he took me ice fishing.

I loved him because he never judged me when I did something. Laugh at me, yes absolutely, never judgment. 😄

I loved him because he grilled year round. I can still see standing out in the snow; wearing cut off shorts, a t-shirt, winter boots & a flannel shirt. No one can grill a perfect steak like my Dad.

I loved him because he was always proud of me, even when my life was not going well.

I loved him because he could build and fix stuff, and finish pretty much every crossword.

I loved him because he was Grampie Vampire to his grand kids. They were his favorite people.

I loved him because he was all in when telling a tall tale; even to the point of dumping Raisinettes on the ground and eating them to convince my cousin deer poop tasted like chocolate covered raisins. But only if it was fresh.

I loved him because he accepted me as his own when I was a toddler. And even after he and my mom divorced, he still claimed me as his own. He never once referred to me as his step-daughter. Step didn’t exist with him or with his Dad (AKA Boppie who technically was Dad’s step-father).

And I will love him forever simply because he is my Daddy and I am his daughter.

I’m gonna stop here because I’m crying now and I also want to make a suggestion. Please tell your people you love them AND tell them why you love them. They may not realize how special and important they truly are.

Point to ponder while you wander… “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life.” Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT