Monday, January 7, 2019

My inspiring great-great aunt Grace Wilson

On January 5th, my great-great Aunt Grace passed away.  She was 100!  The last time I saw her was at my cousin's wedding in October 2014.  Here she is with me, her brother Warren, my mom and my kids:

She was my grandmother's aunt and sister to my great-grandfather who I blogged about here.
I was named after her. (Mary Grace) 
And she is the one who planted the seed for my love of cards, stickers & sending love in the mail.

Every year I would check my mailbox the week before my birthday because she always sent me a card.  I always got excited because that card was an indicator that my birthday was really coming!  The envelope had stickers on it and was festive plus there was money in that card.  Nowadays, I really love stickers and love to decorate envelopes too - passing it on!  I remember how it felt to see that envelope!  Definitely a happy memory to think about.  
(I might still have my childhood sticker book.  And I might still have stickers she sent me.)

I am sentimental about SOME things! #packrat

The other thing that was great about Grace is that she'd take the time to write a note in her cards, often writing on the back.  I always appreciated the extra time she took to do that.  I want to share one here for anyone who knew her... she mentions her brother, and her husband Stan in this note who passed away years prior.  She had no kids.  (Marlene is my grandmother who will be 80 next month.)


I have moved a lot and got rid of many cards and notes but did save these two.  I suspect they were the last she sent me.  Above was a birthday card.  In 2010, I had my third child and sent her a birth announcement.  She replied and told me about moving into the assisted living facility where she lived til her last day.  I love that she played the piano and seemed so grateful for her care!



I left my hometown when I was 15 and was never really close to Grace but I just love who she was and always wished I spent more time with her.  She was thoughtful, kindhearted and oh so chatty!  I'm so glad that I was able to receive a little piece of her generosity through her cards.  And I love that we share the love of them and writing notes.  

She lived life well to the end. She will be missed.  Here is her obituary from the Telegraph Journal:

Source
Thanks for swinging by,
Mary


Monday, November 26, 2018

Christmas stressing you out?


I listened to a really great Podcast I wanted to pass on called Loving My Actual Christmas with Alexandra Kuykendall.  It was on the Focus On The Family broadcast.  Here is the link:

This is an excellent Podcast to listen to if you are stressed about Christmas in any way at all!  I definitely related to the guest, author Alexandra Kuykendall because there have been years that I too have been anxious to the point of being resentful.  As she says, we women are often the orchestrators of the holiday and our task lists are lengthy.  This conversation was filled with great insight and reminders to shift my focus back to what is good.

My first take-away was that Christmas is messy and imperfect and it was that way since the day Jesus was born!  Mary probably didn’t want to travel pregnant or give birth in a barn!  

Alexandra: “So Christmas entered humanity’s story when things weren’t perfect. And the holiday enters our lives every year when life isn’t perfect.”

My second take-away is that Christmas accentuates the struggles of our lives that we feel all year.  If we’re lonely, we’re lonelier at Christmas.  If money is tight all year, it’s even more so at Christmas.  Family struggles peak during the holidays.  So I think that perspective was something so good to point out!  

They talked about expectations and opinions (including the kids’) and traditions and how we want them to look.  She wrote a book where she looks at hope, love, joy and peace and what those words really mean.  They are often just words decorated on pillows but they have a deep meaning especially this time of year.  It was a really thought-provoking conversation and I would encourage you to listen to it (and probably read the book if this all hits a nerve.)

Here is the last bit I really liked.  Rather than risk losing its meaning with my paraphrase, here is what Alexandra said:

Alexandra: “Well, the good news is that we have good news, right? So the Christmas story is God entering in the middle of grief. He enters the world for us, especially for us that are grieving. He came for the brokenhearted. He didn’t come for the people who already had a joy-filled heart. He came for the brokenhearted. So that - if you think about the characters in the Christmas story, there was a lot of grief in there, a lot of disappointment, a lot of unmet expectations…”

And later she says:  “You know, this is a crazy time for me, too. I’ve got all the same to-do lists that you do. But I am living under this umbrella of peace because my heart knows that I am loved and because I remember that the reason we do this whole crazy making in the first place is because God changed the trajectory of humanity when He stepped on to Earth as a baby, and we celebrate that now. And that is what gives me peace, even though I’ve got a lot of wrapping still to do.”


Thrilled to learn that she also has a Podcast called "Open Door Sisterhood".  I subscribed to it because I like how she words and packages things.  

Anywho... just wanted to pass this on in case anyone else is feel anxious about the upcoming holiday!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Roses and thorns


I’ve been attending a moms group and we played Rose and Thorn.  It’s a game where you share something good and something bad from your week.  I really liked that idea!  Great to share a little good and get a little real too about the hard parts of the week.
I am also attending a weekly bible study.  We’re studying 2 Corinthians and today in chapter 12, we read where Paul talks about having a thorn in his side. 
With roses on my mind, it got me thinking how they are a good representation for life.  We all live among a garden of roses.  Some days we dwell on the thorns and are sad.  Some days the thorns prick us and we bleed.  Some days we see the buds of hope.  And other days the bloom is open and fragrant.
I think we need to be careful to not get too down because of the thorns.  It can be hard to not focus solely on them, especially when we’ve been hurt.  It’s hard to look up and see the soft petals that bring us so much joy. 
To add… we receive flowers from people as a way to know they love us.  Blooms sooth our souls and brighten our day.  Roses are a gift, even with their thorns attached.  We see the whole of them and they’re beautiful.  I think our lives are like that.  A gift from God even when painful and we get hurt. 
Roses are the most romantic and well known flower.  Just think about the occasions we give them… The ones where people’s love are at an all-time high… proposals, weddings, Valentine’s Day yet they are the ones that hurt us if we don’t handle them carefully.  Same with our lives.  They’ll hurt us too if we don’t handle things right.  If we dwell on the negative, play victim and sit in our misery.
So today I’m thinking about my rose and thorn of the week.  I want to be sure to always think about both parts and not just the thorns.  My prayer this week is that I’d focus on the big picture of what’s going on in my life and not get hung up on the snags or thorns that can really frustrate me.  
haha... I want to stop and "smell the roses".  
How about you?  What are your rose and thorns this week?  
Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Book Review: The Magnolia Story


When I stayed in a hotel for a month I had cable (what a treat!) and watched Fixer Upper for the first time.  Oh my word, I love that show!  I never saw a designer whose style I liked more than Joanna Gaines!  And her clothes!  Oh wow… love her look too.  I might have recently bought new sandals with her in mind!  Ya... and posted it on Instagram! #dork

I recently read The Magnolia Story and love them even more!  The book is written by Joanna with add ins by Chip.  It was a fun book to read, so much so that I read it in a few hours one day. 

The way these two interact is fun.  Chip, who has big ideas reminds me of my husband.  Her “go with the flow” attitude is one I admire and envy.  I really want to be more like her when I grow up!

(I realize I am waaaay behind the times since they wrapped up the series and most people are watching reruns, but hey… I’m a little slow sometimes and newly obsessed!)

If you’re looking for a fun read and you are a fan of their work, then definitely check it out.  Thanks Kim for the recommendation!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary