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Mother’s Day Blessings

This is a repost of last Mother’s Day message. Enjoy!

mothers_day

This is for all of you Moms out there and for all of us whose Moms have already left this world.

The Lord took my Mom home six years ago but this is how I often remember her:

geraniums-in-a-flower-box-laurel-talabere

When I was growing up, one of the houses we lived in had built-in brick planters that bordered the front porch. Every year Mom would plant bright red geraniums in those planters—just like the ones in this photo. They made the entrance to our home look so pretty! I wish I had a photo of her standing next to those gorgeous geraniums but I guess that doesn’t matter because I’ll always have the memories in my mind and in my heart.

Beloved, whether your Mom is still here with you or dancing in heaven, what memory is your favorite about her?

I love and miss you Mom!

Mom(smaller)

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2014 Update: In Mom’s honor, I decided to continue her geranium tradition. I bought a gorgeous red geranium plant the other day and will be buying more in the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see them all in bloom!


SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

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Fireproof [repost]

I am trying to get back into posting more regularly but life keeps getting in my way. The past couple of weeks haven’t been very good for me, so in an effort to get more consistent, I’m going back to posting things by days of the week. Since today is Tuesday, here’s my Tidbit Tuesday blast from the past. The message is just as relevant today as it was last year!

Tidbit Tuesday

FireproofMovie

When the movie “Fireproof” first came out in 2008, I wanted to see it because my son is a firefighter. Simple, huh?

Actually, not so much. Seeing this movie greatly impacted Rick’s and my marriage and we decided to buy the DVD as well as the “Fireproof Your Marriage” Couple’s Kit Bible study. And I also bought the paperback Fireproof to read. If I like something a lot, I want to know as much as I can about it! That’s how I roll.

Our 10-year anniversary was in 2008 so we decided to have a private ceremony—just Rick and me—in which we renewed our covenant vows and exchanged new, matching wedding bands that have three etched crosses on them. Now, please understand that our marriage was not in peril but seeing this movie reinforced in both of us the need to tend to our relationship in a new, special way. Every. Single. Day.

It is so easy to let things slide in order to avoid conflict, but that just causes the little things to pile up into a huge mountain and then watch out! Here’s where a full-on blow-up can happen. One of the things we have learned is to let go of what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and yet make sure we talk over what does make a difference in our marriage. We make sure to be constantly and consistently vigilant to not let the embers of our love die out because of something we said or didn’t say. Or did or didn’t do.

I shared that I would be writing about “enough” this year, but let me clearly state that our marriages are not to be taken for granted. We need to nurture our marriages and our marriage partners every day. This is a case where “enough” is NOT enough!

Here’s a video trailer of “Fireproof” to whet your appetite in case you haven’t seen it. And if you have seen it, I’d like to challenge you to watch it again with a new frame of mind for how much more your marriage can be… even if—as was the case for Rick and me—you think your marriage is already the best it can be.

If you have trouble viewing the video here, click on this for the direct link.

AnnaSmile…..

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Thankful for the Little Things

ThankfulThurs-Gratitude…..

This just happens to be a Thursday so I thought I’d celebrate that by sharing a “Thankful Thursday” post from almost two years ago, titled Thank You Challenge.” I love what the image above states about gratitude. It really ties into my blog tagline:

gratitude turns what we have into more than enough

How about you, Beloved? Look around you. Do you view even the tiniest of blessings with thankfulness and gratitude?

AnnaSmile…..

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Thankful for my Home

Psalm 118_24_Fall-ThisIsTheDay

Rick and I absolutely love where we live in northern Arizona. Although I do miss the vivid autumn oranges and reds of where I grew up in New England, I have lived in several states in my adult life and I have to say that this area amid the mountains and hills is my second favorite place.

Arizona has more than its share of sunshine and gorgeous sunsets, and we totally appreciate both. Neither of us are big-city people so living in a rural area such as this fits us well, and I love the fact that we’re not that far from my children who live in the Phoenix area.

Rick and I are very thankful to God for moving us here. In spite of some setbacks that might have tested our faith if we hadn’t fully trusted God, we’ve been living here for 9 years. You can read more here about that story.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

—Psalm 118:24, 28-29

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AnnaSmile……

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Thankful for My Family

today-thankful-orange…..

my family.

I grew up in a household full of sisters—5 of us altogether—and although we’ve had our share of rough times and in spite of living so far apart, we are probably closer than ever. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for my precious family!

I love this photo of all of us taken way back in 1995 (I think).

My family

Left to Right: me, Nancy, Palma, Mom, Dad, Julie, Maria

Mom has been home with the Lord since 2007 and we all miss her so much. Dad is living in an independent retirement community these days. He participates in many of the activities where he lives, and keeps busy doing a lot of walking with the help of his rolling walker. In fact, I have it on good authority that he is a speed demon with that walker!

You can read more about us here and here.

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  —Erma Bombeck

AnnaSmile…..

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Thankful for My Children

Eph1-19-23-thankgodforyou

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Can I just say that I have the greatest children? Kathy and Alan—as well as my daughter-in-love, Denise—are such big blessings in my life and I truly do thank God for them every single day.

Last year I shared a bit about each of my children and how special they are to me, which you can read here. I am thankful that they are all walking with the Lord and seeking to follow His will in their lives.

Here I am with them at Alan and Denise’s wedding in 2010:

MyChildren

Left to Right: Kathy, Denise, Alan, me

Kathy, Alan and Denise, if you’re reading this, I love you all so much!

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

 —Ephesians 1:15-17

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AnnaSmile…..

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What if…

Thankful Thursday

Something for all of us to ponder,

not only on this Thankful Thursday,

but every single day…

WhatIf

I read this saying recently and have been mulling it over. I know I’ve shared this with you before but I always want to remember all of these below for which I am thankful each and every day.

My Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ

Calvary

I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.—Isaiah 43:11

My sweet husband: Rick

Rick-Anna05192012-sm

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. –Ephesians 5:31-33

My precious children: Kathy, Alan and Denise (my daughter-in-love)

Left to right: Dad, Kathy, Denise, Alan, me, Rick

Left to right: Dad, Kathy, Denise, Alan, me, Rick

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. –Mark 9:37

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. –3 John 1:4

My loving parents: Mom (now home with the Lord) and Dad

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. –Exodus 20:12

My four wacky and wonderful sisters

Mar2005-Seesters(2)Left to right (youngest to oldest): Maria, Julie, Palma, Nancy and me!

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips. –Author Unknown

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time. –Clara Ortega

All my close and special friends

[Too many to display photos or mention by name but you know who you are!]

friends-are-forever

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. –Bernard Meltzer

 A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. –Donna Roberts

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ –C. S. Lewis

A caring and supportive church family:

CVGraceCrossThis is the actual stained glass cross in our church sanctuary. Isn’t it beautiful?

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. –Acts 9:31

A snug and cozy home in a beautiful part of the country

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. –Isaiah 32:18

 For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. —Isaiah 55:12

Enough food, clothing and everything else I need to be comfortable

He enjoys much who is thankful for little; a grateful mind is both a great and happy mind. –Unknown

My precious Bible

[with tons of hand-written margin notes, highlighted passages and sticky notes marking certain pages]

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. –Psalm 119:2

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

AnnaSmile

Sisters on Vacation

tues

Since I seem to be in the mode of sharing some of my published work with you lately, today’s Treasure Tuesday offering is a story I wrote years ago about one of the times my sisters and I got together. “Sisters on Vacation” was published in a collection of family memory stories titled The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings, published in 2005.

As I read through this again after so many years, I was struck by how much things have changed … and not changed.

I wrote in this story that none of us would miss these get-togethers, but the reality is that for the past several years, my health has kept me from traveling by air. This means I haven’t been able to get together with my sisters for quite a while. That’s a big change.

What has not changed is the constant love, affection and support my sisters and I will always have for each other no matter how much time and distance separates us. In spite of difficulties we have shared in our lives, we’ve always got each other’s backs and are “there” for each other in spirit and prayer, if we cannot be there in person.

To my seesters reading this right now: I love and cherish each and every one of you!

 Sisters on Vacation

Pretty in pink(2)

[Here we are together pretty in pink. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]

I was exhausted after being on an airplane all day, but my fatigue was tempered by excitement at seeing my sisters again. I disembarked and lugged my suitcase toward the main terminal for what seemed like miles. As I rounded a curve in the walkway, someone shouted my name. I looked up and saw my sisters standing a few feet away. I broke into a huge smile when I saw the sign they held above their heads: my name imprinted in huge letters, just like a chauffeur would have.

In the next instant, I was enveloped in hugs, all of us trying to talk at once.

My four sisters and I live in various parts of the country. Two live in the Northeast, another two are in Florida, and I live in northern Arizona, all the way across the country. This scattering of family makes it difficult for all of us to get together in one place, but our annual Sisters’ Vacation is something we cherish, and none of us would miss it.

I’m the oldest, and though fifteen years separates my youngest sister and me, the age difference is barely noticeable now that we’re all adults. In spite of the age spread and the various places we live, the similarities among us are striking. We all have some degree of the curly dark hair that denotes our Italian heritage, and we each have two children. No matter where we go, people do a double-take because we all look so much alike.

A couple of years ago, we decided to meet in Orlando, Florida, to do some shopping and tour Universal Studios, and then travel to Largo to reunite with our parents. We hadn’t seen each other in more than a year and were really excited to have this special time together. We got very little sleep that first night as we shared snacks and caught up with the events in each other’s lives. We’re fairly good about keeping in touch by email, but some things just can’t be conveyed through cyberspace.

We couldn’t wait to get to Universal Studios that first day. Even threatening rain clouds didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We were happy just to be together. The nasty weather held off for the first hour, but then the clouds opened up and we were caught in a downpour. We were immediately drenched and didn’t waste any time joining the long line to purchase rain ponchos.

What a sight we were in our powder-blue ponchos stamped with the Universal Studies insignia. It took some time for our clothes to dry under the ponchos, but we kept touring the park anyway. A little rain wouldn’t ruin our day, and the photos we now share prove it: five women with dark, damp, frizzy hair lined up in light-blue ponchos and huge smiles.

5 seesters [We always seem to line up according to age, most times not even realizing it until later. Here we are again, left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria]

When my sisters and I get together, we have the time of our lives. People give us amused glances as they pass by because we’re usually laughing about something one of us has said or seen. That’s when we turn to them in unabashed chorus and proclaim loudly, “We’re sisters, and we’re on vacation!”

Even though we’re a close-knit family, life sometimes gets in the way, making it difficult for us to always agree or be completely comfortable with one another. Differences of opinion, distance, and unresolved disputes have conspired to place a wedge in the constancy of our affection for each other. But when all is said and done, we are five women with a common, very tight-knit bond: we are sisters.

Mar2005-Seesters

[On another sisters’ vacation, we all decided to have our hair professionally straightened. In order of age (again), this time right to left: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]

We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how unique or disparate our opinions are. It makes no difference that we don’t all think alike. In fact, our differences are what make us a strong family unit.

On our last vacation, I was the first one to leave. At the airport, my sisters waited with me as I checked in. We shared one last hug, and then I joined the long line to the security checkpoint. About ten minutes later, as I was inching forward in this seemingly endless line, I once again heard my name being shouted. I looked to the left, and there were all four of my sisters—waving, laughing, and shouting my name. I waved back and threw them a kiss. Several people behind me smiled at our unbridled enthusiasm.

“We’re sisters,” I informed them, nodding at the four women who were still waving at me. “And we were on vacation!”

My family

[Our entire family many years ago while Mom was still with us. As usual, we sisters somehow managed to line up around Mom and Dad in order of age. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Mom, Dad, Julie, and a very pregnant Maria]

Rocking-Chair-Reader

[From The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings. Copyright © 2005 Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company]

AnnaSmile

Happy Father’s Day!

Thought I’d share last year’s post about Father’s Day again…

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers, dads, papas, pops… We love you!

Here are a few photos of my Dad:

Left to right: Dad, Kathy, Denise, Alan, me, Rick

Dad & me

Me & my sisters with Dad

Birthday Collage

Happy Birthday, Alan!

AlanCollage

AnnaSmile

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And in this case, AKA:

MOM-Smile

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