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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Last weekend, we took a trip to Corpus Christi to pick up an old piano for our home.  Well, it’s actually more than just some old piano.  It’s a 1903 W.W. Kimball Upright piano and is possibly the most traveled piano around these here parts, ya see.  It’s a family thang too.  It was my Uncle Erol’s mom’s piano and started its journey in Cripple Creek, Colorado.  Traveling a few thousand miles from the mountains to the coast and now to the country, it has found a new home in Texas, ya’ll.

We asked to borrow the vintage piano for our 7-year-old daughter.  She really enjoys making it come to life as she “tickles the ivories.”  As the piano sounds echo through our halls, I reminisce about how many people have made music on that same set of keys over the last 111 years.  Incredible.  (To all of my germaphobe friends, don’t even go there…)

Not being a piano player myself (or a music-playing gal of any instrument really – does a baby xylophone count?  I rocked that as a kid…), I was curious about our new addition and wanted to get some piano history.  I’ll go ahead and share it with you in case you’re ever on a game show and need the low-down:

“Perhaps the most famous of all piano manufacturers in history was the W.W. Kimball Piano Company of Chicago.  William Wallace Kimball founded what was to become one of the largest piano companies in the world in 1857.  Kimball was an amazing entrepreneur and sales genius, and was able to promote his pianos on a nationwide basis that was very much ahead of its time.”  (It’s almost impossible to imagine trying to market without the internet, huh?!)

“By the turn-of-the-century, Kimball was manufacturing around 20,000 pianos annually!  In 1959, Kimball was sold to The Jasper American Corporation under the name of Kimball International.  Kimball pianos were discontinued in 1996.”

So…now you know the scoop.

Anyway, in doing some of my research, it was interesting to read some of the old Kimball piano advertisements as well.  One of them read:  “The test of a piano is the wearing quality, and what we mean by ‘wearing quality’ is a piano that will retain its rich, sweet tone that it should have when it is new.  You fully understand that many so-called pianos do not have good tones to begin with because the makers do not strive for tone perfection.  They look largely to please the eye rather than the ear.”   (Hmmm…)

I love that my daughter has taken such an interest in playing the piano and I eagerly look forward to watching her grow as a musician in the years to come.  When I see her small fingers dance along the keys, I do think about the gift and unique opportunity of making our own music.

We’ve found a temporary home for this piano…until the next family member would like to love on it down the road.  We’re also here on earth in our temporary home.  I wonder what music we’ll make while we’re here?  Will we use “sweet tones” in our words?  Will we instill the “classics” of good character and high morals in our children?  Will we focus on the things that truly matter instead of just “largely pleasing the eye?”  Will we slow down a “beat” or two and spend quality time with those we love before the song is over?

My Aunt Edie said that so much love has been poured into this antique piano.  When we pour love into something, it can indeed make beautiful music.  As my children take on day two of school, I am missing them with a tear or two or ten...okay twenty.  But, I know they are finding and making their own special music along the way and for this, I feel gratefully blessed. 

On a final “note,” my prayers go out to all of the littles in school this year and to their parents and teachers!  Can’t wait to hear your masterpiece…make it a classic!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Read Me!

Photo Credit:  pippalou from
Last weekend, we had the opportunity to squeeze in a quick trip to one of our favorite places – Port O’Connor, Texas.  A POC getaway usually involves some hopeful fishing.  Since my fishing license was up for renewal, I got a new one and was sure to ask this time if they gave full refunds in the event that this license didn’t bring me lucky nets. (heh!)

On this particular fishing excursion, my youngest daughter spent much of the time digging in the sand while my dad and I dropped our lines.  I think the place we chose was a bit too busy with other boats passing by, so the fish were hiding.  (This is what we consoled ourselves with anyhow…)  Then, moments before we gave up, I noticed my dad’s flip-flop floating in the water nearby.  In the blink of an eye, it was out of reach, several yards from the shore bobbing up and down with the pulse of the ocean.

“Dad, quick, grab your shoe before it floats away!” I hollered.  My dad reacted by calmly casting out his top-water lure close to the runaway flip-flop…again and again.  “Dad, I think that flip-flop’s a goner!” I yelled.  Each time he threw out his line, he got closer.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll get it.  Have faith!” he shouted back.

After numerous attempts, he finally hooked the flip-flop and slowly reeled it in.  Despite the fact that the only thing we caught on that trip was indeed a gray flip-flop, I marveled at how much patience, persistence, and faith he had in the process.  He WAS going to get that fugitive flip-flop…without a doubt in his mind.

A few verses from the Bible come to mind when I think of the waves tossing about at sea.  In James 1:5-8, it says, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him.  But, when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you first turn this way, and then that.  If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you solid answers.”

Hmmm.  As we embark on a new school year, there are waves of uncertainty, aren’t there?  Will our college student be okay during his or her first year away from home?  Will our Kindergarten kiddo make it through the first day?  Will I?  Will we pray with the faith of knowing that God hears us and will answer?  Will we be able to balance our endless commitments and activities with carefree timelessness?
Since it’s the back-to-school season ‘round here, it seems I’ve been focusing on time a bit more lately…particularly, how it slips away so quickly.  Is my baby really starting Kindergarten?  Sniff, sniff.

I want to share a couple of e-mails that were thought-provoking for me.  I think they’ve been around a time or two, but they’re worth reading again.  This one is from my cousin’s wife, Donna:

Imagine that you’ve won the following prize in a contest - each morning your bank will deposit $86,400 into a private account for your use.  However, the prize has rules:

  1. Everything that you don’t spend during each day will be taken away from you.
  2. You can’t transfer money into another account.
  3. You can only spend it.
  4. Each morning upon awakening, the bank will open your account with another $86,400 for that day.
  5. The bank can close the account and end the game without warning.  At any time it can say, “Game Over!”
 What would you do?  Would you buy anything and everything you wanted?  Would you spend it on yourself, all the people you love and care for, and even people you don't know?  Would you try to spend every penny because you knew it would be replenished in the morning?

Actually, this game is real and the prize is time.  Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us.  What we haven't used up that day is forever lost.  Each morning, the account is refilled, but the bank can close our account at any time…without warning...

What will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?

I needed the reminder.  I thought I’d also share the following e-mail from Mikey’s Funnies because it was too cute not to:

Mr. Smith climbs to the top of Mt. Sinai to get close enough to talk to God.  Looking up, he asks the Lord, "God, what does a million years mean to you?"  The Lord replies, "A minute."  Mr. Smith asks, "And what does a million dollars mean to you?"  The Lord replies, "A penny."  Mr. Smith asks, "Can I have a penny?"  The Lord replies, "In a minute."

I hear that God has a good sense of humor and on many of my summer days with the kiddos at home, I certainly believed it.  I’m equally sure that God loves us and wants us to know and feel that love every single day. 

I try to be aware of God’s blessings throughout my most ordinary of days, but for some reason, I become acutely aware of them when I’m at the beach.  It might be the miles and miles of ocean, the calming sounds of the salty air, or the fact that I’m usually spending time with my family there.  It’s most probably a mix of all three, but I love being there.

With sun-kissed, sandy toes, I like to look for bottles that have washed ashore.  Since I was a child, I thought it would be neat to find a “Read Me” message in a bottle.  I haven’t found one yet, but if God sent us a message in a bottle with thoughts for this new school year, what do you think it might say?  I’m thinking it would go something like this:

“Be quick to forgive.  Love deeply.  Laugh often.  Be kind.  Be patient.  Pray.  Cherish life.  Help others.  Trust in Me.  Don’t worry.  Nothing is impossible through Me.  Listen to each other.  Remember that you are My child and I will always love you.” 

I’ll remember that fishing trip when my dad caught a foot-long-flip-flop.  But, what I’ll cherish most of all is the memory of seeing the faith of a fisherman.  He fished…knowing he would catch…regardless of the catch.  And, in the words of William Arthur Ward, “Faith is knowing there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.”  Love it!

P.S.  If you need a poem to kick-off your school year, here is one I wrote in August of 2012 called, “Time to Fly.”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Light in Darkness

Photo Credit:  GaborFromHungary at
Boy, did we have a storm on Monday night!  I had a strong feeling that our electricity would go out, so I lit all the candles I own and found batteries for the kids’ flashlights.  The faint smell of sweet vanilla filled the kitchen as the rolling claps of thunder and howling wind rattled the house.  My husband wasn’t home yet, so the kiddos and I huddled together while the bolts of lightning illuminated our country sky.  I prayed for my hubby’s safe arrival, while the kiddos squealed with nervous energy.

It wasn’t long before we heard the familiar jingle of daddy’s keys and I sighed with relief.  With the unpredictability of the weather just outside our window, I craved the comfort of knowing that all my little chickies (and papa rooster) were safe under one roof.

Within minutes, a booming roar of thunder and crash of lightning left us in darkness for almost three hours.  The only light we could see was the flicker of our candles casting strange shadows on the walls.  My son warmed a few leftover pieces of sausage for his daddy over the candle’s flame.  The judges from the Food Network would’ve been so proud.

However, there was enlightenment found in the darkness.  There was no noise coming from the TV or computer.  No hum of the fans or air conditioner.  No sounds coming from the refrigerator or ice maker.  The silence of the house was deafening.  I plopped down in my favorite rocking chair and began to rock back and forth….something relaxing that I’ve always enjoyed.

All we could do was sit and be still.  Together.  In the dark.  We piled into the living room.  My youngest daughter climbed up on her daddy’s chest while he stretched out on the floor.  My son was sprawled out right next to him.  My oldest daughter curled up on the couch.  All of them fell into slumber listening to the monotonous rocking of my chair.  I watched their chests rise and fall by candlelight and listened to their deep breaths.  I thanked God for them.  I prayed for them.  The three hours of a forced “time-out” were a gift to me.  It was in the darkness that some of my greatest gifts were brought to light again.

Another recent experience with darkness involves a zip line.  Yep.  I had never been on a zip line before Sunday.  I opted to try it for the first time in the dark.  Sure.  Why not?  Why the heck not!

I couldn’t see and that was both a plus and a minus.  One perk was that I couldn’t see how high I was.  One drawback was that I couldn’t see ahead of me or behind me.  I knew my hubby was at the end of the zip line waiting for me, so that brought me some sense of calm.  There also happened to be several friends nearby cheering me on.  Two of them were priests, so I felt extra blessed that day, even though my knees trembled a bit beneath me.

The light in darkness was that I truly felt the support of my friends and I knew my husband would be there for me…even though I couldn’t see him.  It reminds me of the faith that I rely on in knowing that Jesus is there for me, even though I can’t physically see Him.

My last moment of “light” that I want to share didn’t occur in darkness at all, but during the hours when the sun shines brightest.  It was during a recent family trip to the Frio River.  I hadn’t been to the Frio in about 30 years, so it was well past time for a visit if I do say so myself.

Even though the river was low, we decided to go tubing.  We rented some tubes and our extended family of eleven was ready to earn the coveted title of, “River Rats.”  Nine folks were well on their way to the title, while two of them were working toward another award…the “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race-the-last-shall-be-first-why-am-I-not-moving?” award.  The lucky recipients were my dad and yours truly.

I have never laughed so hard in my life.  My dad and I insisted on tubing the river.  Goodness gracious!  We don’t need to walk it!  WE. TUBE. FRIO!  WE. FLOAT. FRIO!  So, there we sat on top of two whole inches of water.  The clouds were moving.  The water was moving.  We weren’t.  So, like old dogs with itchy backsides, we scootched and scooted our way over the rocks, inch by inch, getting rashy arms from relentlessly brushing them back and forth against the black rubber tubes.  Our group was WAY ahead of us and we were stuck.  But, we were together and we made the best of it.  We laughed – oh, how we laughed.  It is a great memory.

Even though my dad and I weren’t making much progress at the time, we had each other and it didn’t feel so terrible being stuck there.  Our howls of laughter made things much “light”er.  It makes me appreciate family and friends who are truly there for each other when they are trapped in rocky places along the river of life.

Matthew Kelly reminds me how to handle the rough spots too – “When you fall, get back up.  If a great athlete has a bad game, he doesn’t miss practice, torture himself, or drown in self-pity.  He practices harder and longer.  Get back up.” 

As I’m writing this blog post, I am trying to digest the terrible news about Robin Williams’ untimely death.  My heart is broken for all of those he left behind.  My heart aches for each person, along with their loved ones, who struggle with depression and addictions. 

As Jeff Brown says, “Robin Williams is gone.  Yet another whose gregarious social face did not reflect his inner world.  We lose so many people everyday to unresolved pain that overwhelms their consciousness.  Few are well-known.  Most live anonymous lives.  We must prioritize authentic revealing and emotional release in our world.  We must slow down to see each other deeply and to share our inner worlds so that no one feels alone with their pain.  There are so many of us here, yet so many suffer in isolation.  We have to keep peeling the masks away.  We have to keep sharing our truths.  We have to.”

I pray that we all strive to somehow bring light to those around us.  We don’t know what darkness anyone is battling.  We need to be kind.  Always.  Always.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.  It’s hard to ponder that someone who brought so much joy and happiness to others through movies and comedy, was somehow void of that same joy and happiness himself.  It’s so difficult to understand really.  May we all be kinder than necessary this week and may we be a light in the darkness for at least one person today.

There are countless references to “light” in the Bible, but a few that I’d like to share are:  (John 8:12)  I am the Light of the world.  So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.  (Matthew 5:15-16)  Don’t hide your light!  Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.  (Psalms 119:105)  Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!