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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fancy Dishes

Photo Credit:  mconnors from
Last Saturday, I went to a Mother-Daughter Tea Party with my eight-year-old daughter.  In preparation for the event, she and I decorated wide-brimmed straw hats with flowers, ribbon, and a copious quantity of hot glue.  We made little peanut butter and jelly pocket sandwiches and bought some nail polish and lip gloss for Bingo prizes.  We also searched our cabinets for the perfect tea cups and saucers.

We don’t typically drink hot tea in fancy dishes over here, so this was sure to be a special treat.  When we drink tea, our norm is sweet tea with lots of ice…preferably the teeny tiny ice that makes it taste extra good.  It’s just ice, you say?  Many will beg to differ.  Just ask any Sonic-ice-lover.  But, I digress.

Let’s go back to the tea cups for a moment.  My daughter actually had a small purple and pink tea cup with her name on it that she had received as a party favor a few years ago.  She grabbed that one.  I opted to take a tea cup from my grandmother’s china set.  I opened the china cabinet and dusted off a lovely piece of tableware with delicate pink rosebuds and silver trim. 

I understood the risk in taking a vintage piece of fine china to a party with lots of little girls.  Gasp!  However, I was up for the challenge.  After all, it’s only a dish.  With my British accent on board and my pinkie raised…I WAS READY!

Over the years, I’ve learned that fancy dishes are meant to be used.  So, I encourage you to get them out and dust them off.  Today.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Not next year.  Are we really promised tomorrow?  Or even the next hour?  Nope.  We’re not.

A friend of mine recently lost his dad in a sudden, tragic farming accident and I can’t stop thinking about and praying for that family.  It has been on my mind for days now.  My heart aches for all of those he left behind.

Father Bentil gave our parish family some wonderful words of wisdom to reflect upon following the man’s unexpected death.  In addition to words of consolation, he said, “Right now is the time.  Right now is the time to offer forgiveness and accept forgiveness.  Right now is the time to offer love and receive love.  Right now is the time to let go of anger.  Right now is the time to visit someone or write that letter.  There is no better time than right now.”

I could not agree more.  What ARE we waiting for?  Our tomorrow may never come.  Don’t we often spend countless hours and an endless amount of energy longing for what we don’t have?  It would certainly be a better use of our time to praise and thank God for the people and things that we DO have. 

Today is the perfect day to use your fancy dishes.  Here is a poem I wrote as I pondered all of this:

Use the fancy dishes,
Follow your dreams, hopes, and wishes.
Tomorrow is not a promised day,
Say right now what you want to say.
Love the ones God brings to you,
Don’t put off what you need to do.
Thank God for blessings, one by one,
A contented heart when day is done.
Don’t yearn for all you don’t possess,
Ungrateful hearts are quite the mess.
Let go of anger; it hurts you more,
Hate destroys you at the core.
God’s grace will help you to forgive,
The soul, then free to love and live.
Use the fancy dishes; life is short, my friends,
Imperfectly beautiful; we don’t know when it ends.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share my blog posts.  I appreciate you!  I was a tad late this week in getting my Sips of Sunshine to you, but I know you are oh so understanding.  With our summer schedule approaching, I also wanted to let you know that the Sips will be a bit more sporadic.  I will be enjoying some time with my family and friends.  I pray that you all have a safe, relaxing, fun-filled summer making oodles of memories…using your fancy dishes, of course!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Fight

Photo Credit:  ainsliejoon from
Some time ago, my father-in-law ran across a deer skull in his pasture.  I understand that this isn’t a rare find.  However, what made the discovery so extraordinary to me was that it wasn’t just one skull…it was two skulls…and their antlers were so tangled up in each other that we could not separate them no matter what we tried.  Twist.  Pull.  Tug.  Twist.  Pull.  Tug.  Nothing.  They wouldn’t budge.

My son wanted to keep the locked pair of antlers in his room, so I have the opportunity to look at and ponder them daily.  When I glance at those antlers, it makes me think about how those bucks fought to their death.  They relentlessly fought and fought and fought, while neither was willing to give in or give up.  It’s powerful really.

What are WE willing to fight for? 

On a daily basis, people fight for many reasons.  Certain personality types fight more often, no doubt.  Other personalities avoid fighting at all costs.  Many moms I know “pick their battles,” in that they only really want to exert the energy when it’s something that truly matters in the grand scheme of things.  Spilled milk?  A messy room?  Not a biggie.  Bullying?  Drugs?  Yep.  Let’s talk.  Then, Momma puts on her boxing gloves and steps into the ring.

In my time on this earth, I have witnessed people fighting for their family, children, love, marriage, friendships, liberty, freedom, spiritual truths, justice, life, faith, and values…just to name a few.

We all have a God-given responsibility to use the gifts He has bestowed on us to fight for something.  Each one of us has a purpose.  We can greatly influence those around us when we get inspired to stand up for something we believe in.  It’s contagious.  Maybe someone is waiting for you to spark their fire too?  It just takes one spark.  Just one.  Maybe it’s yours they need?

I read somewhere that there is no greater purpose than giving your heart filled with compassion and love.

As my daughter wrapped up her soccer season, we had the amazing opportunity to be in the audience of Chagy the Clown.  Have you ever heard of him?  Well, I hadn’t either before that night.  Now, that is a man who gives his heart with compassion and love (and a HUGE dose of laughter!). 

Per his website, Chagy has trained with some of the best retired clowns from Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.  He also has a Masters Degree in Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a focus on Missions.  (Laughter AND Jesus…what a winning combination!)

Chagy’s main purpose is to reach the unreachable.  He is the founder of the “Circus of The King” (Circo Del Rey), a mass evangelism outreach ministry.  The Circus has been ministering to the public in Puerto Rico and the United States since 1994.  Thousands have heard the good news of Jesus Christ through these “Center Ring Crusades.”  In addition to the Circus, Chagy has been performing his own solo show for audiences of all ages since 1992.

His circus-style clown training and his theological education have allowed him the ability to minister everywhere from the smallest of churches to the largest of stadiums.  Chagy has visited and ministered in at least thirty different countries.  He told us that he was in Iraq recently and only about ten miles from incredible danger.  But, he was so focused on his goal of bringing Jesus to the people there that nothing could stop him.  He was willing to die as he brought hope to the hopeless.  Wow.  Just wow.

As we approach Memorial Day, I cannot help but think about all of those courageous men and women who have gone before us…fighting for what they believed in.  With the sea of red, white, and blue flags adorning the roads, I reflect on that level of bravery and intense love for our country and its freedoms.

A couple of years ago on Veterans Day, I wrote a poem called, “A Military Heart.”  Many of you have read it before, but for all of those who haven’t; I thought I would share it again.  It expresses my deep appreciation and love for those who fight for what they believe in:

A military heart is unique, it must be true,
The blood that pulses deep within is red, white, and blue.
Its love is like a fire that grows when it is shared,
For complete and total strangers, they have truly cared.
All heroes past and present, at war and at peace,
My admiration for you all will never ever cease.
Veterans who went by choice or those who had been drafted,
I feel that God took extra care with certain hearts He crafted.
He had to make them strong and brave, but tender all the same,
He knit them in their mother’s womb and knew them each by name.
It would take a special heart to leave loved ones behind,
To kiss and hug good-bye with Old Glory on their mind.
The countless sacrifice they made for freedoms we enjoy,
For every man, every woman, every girl, and every boy.
For those who have such passion for our great U.S. of A,
Who’ll stand for life and liberty, so we can speak and pray.
If you see a warrior, please give them all our love,
For the heart that beats within them is a gift from God above.
We’re thankful, oh so thankful, for that heart we have admired,
For giving so unselfishly, although it may be tired.
We’d never know of its fatigue - it’s hidden way inside,
For that heart is full of love, as deep as it is wide.
On Veterans Day and all the days that come before and after,
We thank you for allowing us a life of hope and laughter.
To wake each day knowing what you must have seen and heard,
It’s hard to find the thoughts to share - there isn’t just one word.
What can we say?  What should we say?
A debt we just cannot repay.
I think I’ll just say thank you from the bottom of my heart,
I’ll pray for you - thank God for you.  That’s certainly a start.
I’ll do my best to wake each day full of gratitude,
I’ll make a daily effort with a thankful attitude.
I’ll live to nurture peace – I’ll try to do my part,
And I’ll thank the Lord everyday…for your military heart.

What moves YOU so deeply that it stirs “the fight” within?

This Memorial Day, let’s reflect on what WE are willing to fight for.  I know that I will especially remember to do this, as I pass by the locked antlers in my son’s room.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy M-Day

I thought it was interesting how my son decorated a cake for me over the weekend.  He wrote “Happy M-Day.”  He basically just used the dash to stand for the word “others” in the rest of the phrase Happy Mother’s Day.  It might not sound that fascinating at first glance, but I guess I find it remarkable because for 364 days of the year, we, as moms ARE certainly doing for “others.”  However, on M-Day, we take the time to celebrate the “M”…meaning “me/mom.”  I like that.

At Mass, Father Bentil encouraged the husbands, fathers, and children to make Mother’s Day very special for the moms in the congregation.  He challenged them to go out of their way to prepare a delicious meal for the mom in their lives or at the very least, let her choose her favorite (most expensive) restaurant.  I think my hubby and kids were listening and I’m so delighted!  Why?  Because I was the lucky recipient of a tasty breakfast in bed!

My husband gave me a little hint that the kids were planning this breakfast, so I was “forced” to sleep late on Sunday as they worked hard in the kitchen.  Ha ha!  Did I say forced?  I lovingly consented, peeps, I assure you.  You don’t have to ask me twice to get some extra shut-eye.

It brought my heart much joy when the kiddos came in singing “Happy Mother’s Day to you” to the catchy tune of Happy Birthday.  They made eggs, bacon, strawberries with whip cream, apples, oranges, and a tall glass of milk.  They arrived bearing greeting cards, gift cards, and homemade goodies, all stuffed in a tall Christmas bag with at least 100 sheets of tissue paper.  It was perfect!  For that precious moment, I forgot all about how my kids incessantly pick on each other and relentlessly poke each other’s eyeballs out each and every afternoon.  Seriously, folks.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the fun actually started on Friday at my children’s school.  That special day included countless Mother’s Day songs, a Kinder breakfast, as well as a Mommy Day Spa with my second grader.  Yes!  My 8-year-old daughter pampered me in her transformed classroom with a massage, aromatherapy, and a manicure.  There was a potion of several lotions involved and at one point; I had slices of cucumbers IN…uhem, ON my eyes.  My nails were glittery red with some princess crown stickers and I can’t say for sure if there was more polish on my nails or my fingers.  But, I digress.  I applaud the teachers for encouraging such loving attention for the mommas.  It was truly wonderful!

On Friday, my 5-year-old daughter handed me a little Mother’s Day paper that she colored as well.  She filled in all the blank lines so neatly and this is what she wrote, “BEST MOM EVER!  Her name is Hether.  She has black hair and brown eyes.  Her favorite thing is to bake.  She is special because she is sweet.  I would like to buy her a card.  Our favorite thing to do together is smile.”  (That last sentence really made me giggle.  Out of all the things we do together, her favorite thing is to sit there and smile with me!  I LOVE it!)

She also had to go through a list of words and draw a check by them as they applied to me.   She checked off:  pretty, sweet, funny, caring, smart, creative, strong, silly, cuddly, brave, helpful, clever, fancy, polite, and jolly.  (Wow!  I’m humbled!)  Basically, she checked off every single word on the list…except cool.  She obviously thinks that I’m a lot of nifty things, but I’m NOT cool.  BUT…I’m cool with that!  You can’t be everything, right, moms?!  hee hee!

Actually, I have to share something here.  When my 8-year-old daughter was in Pre-K, she had to fill out a similar paper for me.  One of the questions was, “What does your mom do that is funny?”  She wrote, “Nothing.  My mom’s not funny.”  SOOOO….I’ve come a long way, people.  I now have a check by “funny,” so I’m not quite as upset about the “cool” thing.  The important point is that I’m makin’ progress!  Baby steps, baby steps.

Since my Kinder kiddo thinks I’m funny, here’s a mommy chuckle for you from my friend at Mikey’s Funnies:

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out, in contrast on her brunette head.

She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Mommy, why are some of your hairs white?"

Her mother replied, "Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."

The little girl was silent for a while, and then said, "Poor Grandma. You must have been very, very hard to raise."

Mikey also sent this beautiful piece that I found very touching as I reflect on motherhood:

“Your Mother is always with you.  She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.  She's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, and the perfume that she wore.  She's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well.  She's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day.  She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep…the colors of a rainbow.  She is Christmas morning.  Your Mother lives inside your laughter.  She's crystallized in every teardrop.  A mother shows every emotion...happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow...and all the while, hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life.  She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take.  She's your first love; your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you…not time, not space...not even death!”

(Sniff, sniff)

When I think about all of the many beautiful moments of the weekend, I am reminded about the “M” in Happy M-Day.  With all my imperfections, my children still dearly love the “M” that is ME!  Can you just imagine how much our Father in Heaven loves us, despite our shortcomings?  It’s overwhelming really.  On M-Day, and all the days in between, I am reminded that I don’t have to be the perfect mom to be worthy of His great love AND you don’t either.

We are more than what we do, how much we do, or even what we say.  We’re imperfect moms and that is certainly okay.  It’s fine if the to-do list doesn’t ever get complete…we just need to ask ourselves…“Did I love with all I had, from my head down to my feet?”

Happy and everyday!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dance With Me

Photo Credit:  Krusnade from
I received an e-mail from my Uncle Erol the other day.  Tucked neatly inside were some wonderful tidbits of inspiration that I wanted to pass along:

“Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate, and give of ourselves.  None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end.  It can be taken away at any moment.”

Surely, God wants us to make the most out of every single day.  Let’s make ourselves a promise…from now on, let’s not allow a day to slip by without finding something beautiful to notice.

What we notice doesn't have to be something we see.  It could be a scent, perhaps the delicious aroma of home baked bread wafting out of someone's house or the smell of freshly washed linens.  It could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees or the echo of our children’s laughter.  It could be the way the morning light catches a drop of dew on a spider’s web or roadside flower.  It could be the way our heart dances when a loved one touches our hand.  Let’s look for these things and cherish them.  It may sound trite to some, but these things are the ‘stuff’ of life…the little things we are put here on earth to enjoy…the things we oftentimes take for granted.

Let’s take notice of at least one special something that we see on our lunch hour today.  Let’s go barefoot.  Let’s notice the birds singing their love songs to each other.  Let’s walk on the beach at sunset and not worry about getting sand in our car or home.  Let’s make time tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone or maybe some flowers for our significant other.

“As we get older, it’s not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do.  Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  (Oh, I just LOVE this quote!)

As I reflect on these words above, I am reminded of many things; one of which is a memorable time I had with my son recently.  Just to get it out there…my son doesn’t dance.  He doesn’t care for dancing and never has.  I find it a little strange since my husband and I both adore dancing and have put millions of miles on the dance floor over the years.  Nevertheless, my son always turns into a wet noodle the moment I try to dance with him.  Always.

So, it wasn’t too shocking when I found a crumpled dance invitation at the bottom of his backpack last week.  Surely, he was secretly hoping that I would overlook the paper.  Nope.  Not this Momma.  I found it.

The wrinkled paper was an invitation to a Mother/Son Dance at his school.  I was ecstatic.  My son?  Not so much.  We discussed the dance here and there over the course of a few days and he then shared that he would like to get a pair of boots for the dance.  I thought, “If a new pair of boots will do the trick; I’m in!  I’m SO in!”

After school one day, he and I went shopping to find that boy some boots.  We looked and looked and finally found the perfect pair.  The surprise came when he asked me to dance in the large dressing room to see how the boots felt while dancing.  Did I cry?  Inside…yes…buckets.  But, I held it together on the outside.  I held it together folks!  I did.  It was a moment, no doubt…one that I’ll never forget.  It’s possible that we danced in the dressing room more than we’ve danced in his entire 11 years on this earth!

The Saturday night dance arrived and I was off to scoot a boot with my handsome date (who was now exactly my height with the extra inches of the boot’s heel).  Sniff, sniff!  Where has the time gone?  Time is such a thief!

Anyway, while out boot shopping, we had practiced opening doors for Momma.  So, without missing a beat, he opened the door for me as we entered the dance.  I was extra proud of him that evening.  He was anxious about the dance, but he never left my side.  I saw my son in a new light that night.  The little boy that I cradled in my arms as an infant was now in my arms as a young man.  Whoa.  Mommy moment.

Even though dancing still may not be his favorite thing to do, he selflessly gave of himself that night…for me.  My heart was so full.  I soaked in every moment as we two-stepped.  I wasn’t sure how many more opportunities I would have like this…to have my first-born…my only son…on the dance floor…all to myself.  We did some line dancing and we even made our way through the Chicken Dance and the Cotton-Eyed Joe.  He made several stops at the candy bar in between, but I was so tickled to actually be dancing with him that he could have eaten his weight in chocolate and I’m sure I wouldn’t have minded that night.

I’m fairly certain that I feel a poem coming on, so let me see what comes forth from the keyboard…

Dance with me, my precious son,
The memories, music, and the fun.
A babe, I held you close to me,
In my arms, forever be.
I was there to wipe your tears,
I’ll be here now, throughout the years.
I held your tiny hand in mine,
Now your hands have grown so fine.
How are you so tall and strong?
The years are short; the days are long.
I used to rock you fast asleep,
But, nights were short, my little peep.
I wouldn’t trade a thing, for sure,
In my embrace, you felt secure.
You make me proud; you always do,
Thankful for each day anew.
A pair of boots helped you dance,
That shy, sweet smile; I caught a glance.
Your steps, more steady, time went by,
I held back tears; I will not lie.
God gave me you; you’re the one,
Dance with me, my precious son.

As summer approaches, let’s remember to slow it down and enjoy the incredible moments God has hidden within each day.  Let’s vow to never take a day or a person for granted, as both are a blessing. 

And, when given the chance (even in a dressing room), ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS dance when your son or daughter says, “Dance with me.”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!