Mama: November 2014

Facebook Memory: November 5, 2014.  Six months later after this posting, mama fell in rehab, hit her head, attempting to get to the bathroom, 3am in the morning. Hours later she was rushed to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage from which she never regained consciousness. She was recovering from hip surgery and it was going well up until this point. Prior to this, she had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for a few years; 2014 was a turning point as far as the severity of the disease. When I came for an extended visit to give daddy a break and spend sometime loving on mama she hardly recognized me. It was then that I truly started to grieve. I will always cherish the time I was able to be there. In spite of the heartache at times, I experienced a deep joy in loving them and pouring into them. I was very aware of the faithfulness and goodness of God during this difficult time. There were tears and laughter, but love was always in the mix. :

“Wednesday, November 5th, 2014. We went to the Senior Citizen’s Center for Spaghetti and bingo. I took a picture of the last of some of daddy’s flowers that he brought in for mama. Pretty with the yellow deck in the background. After bingo we head out the door and drive down the road to Uncle Billy’s Barber shop. We usually sit around and chat while he cuts hair. Sometimes the customers join right in with the mini ‘ family’ reunions. Laughter and tales of days gone by oft come up. I learned this day for instance from Uncle Billy, that their mom, my grandma Atwell…or granny….had no sense of smell. He said it was because of a run in with a skunk…a direct hit in the face. I love these little meetings….and I love his barber shop where he has been cutting hair for about 30 years. The building has been there since the early 1900’s. Most of the adjacent storefront shops are empty, including the Crawdad Hole where many of the locals came for years to grab a bite in the little cafe and then listen to a little bit of  bluegrass, country and gospel. Uncle Billy said this little strip will soon be a relic of the past. It truly feels like you’ve walked through a time warp into the past….a lot of history there.”

My Life: Transition/ Diabetes/ Turning 64

He Knows My Name

Transition:

noun:

the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.“students in transition from one program to another”:

synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation,conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover; segue, shift, switch, jump, leap progression, progress, development, evolution, flux.
From the time we are born into this world until the time we leave it, we are always in a state of transition or flux (continuous movement, instability, inconstancy; going from one circumstance, moment, situation, to another). During childbirth, the transition period when the contractions start and the baby begins to move through the birth canal can be and usually is the most painful time. This can be true in life too. Looking at the state our world is in right now, there is no denying that there has been a shift, and we are in transition, the Bible calls it ‘birth pangs.’ (Matthew 24)
 ∼
I just turned 64 years old, on August 23rd. It felt like any other day, to be honest, and though we celebrated, I felt like I was 25 years old again, questioning God about the ‘purpose of my life.’ Quite frankly, I had been feeling like the baby who is ‘stuck’ in the birth canal, perhaps more like the ‘mom’, wondering when the baby is going to be birthed, and tired or weary of waiting. It’s not pleasant, and though I had two C-sections, our first was stillborn: I was induced and the contractions were excruciating! I know full well, that God is faithful, and He is a God that fulfills and keeps His promises, but as the word says, ‘the flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing.’  So, I continue to wait, pray and believe, that what He has promised He will do.
One of the areas I find myself struggling in is my health: Diabetes. I’m used to being a little more in control, and now I’m floundering. I  manage to keep myself up most of the time through worship, prayer, the Word, and a sense of humor, but there are certain days, my health affects my outlook. It’s been called the ’emotional’ disease. I have been visiting my diabetic nurse educator almost every week, and soon will see my doctor again also. I’m in transition when it comes to my health. I have had some bad experiences with very low blood sugars (which put me in the hospital two times since the end of December), and have caused me to panic when they start to drop, because I’m never sure how low they are going to go, so most of the time my sugars are elevated (not good long term). I am soon to get a Continuous Glucose Monitor (Dexcom) which will help me monitor when my sugars are going up/down/ and how fast or slow. This should help tremendously. It will set off alarms when and let me now either way. I’m blessed to be able to have this kind of technology available to me.
Our family is also going through transition right now. In recent years we have experienced the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and my father-in-laws passing, then my mother 6 months later. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, saying good-bye to my mother. Over the last few months, my mother-in-law has had to give up driving, and we are now in process of looking for assisted living which is very difficult to find, and the waiting lists are very long. We are confident God has this, and that she will find a good fit, but it is very stressful for her as well as for us. There are times I think about what she is going through, look at what she is giving up and I can’t help but put myself in her shoes down the road. There have been times I have wanted to weep for her as we have walked through this process with her, and the struggle for her to let go. It’s made me want to ‘lighten the load;  just start tossing and getting rid of stuff I don’t need…all the unnecessary junk we tend to accumulate through the years. I’m letting go…things just don’t mean as much as they used too. When I start to go inward, I think about friends and family who have had to let go of loved ones, forced to evacuate due to fires or flooding, sink holes, dealt with health issues worse than mine and the list goes on.Transition can be very painful and life altering, but it can have it’s rewards too. I’m very thankful for the Presence of God in my life, and that I do not have to walk this walk alone.
I don’t think this is a bad thing, this transition, although it can be difficult and overwhelming at times…I fully expect the end result to be good.  Aren’t we, as Christians, going from ‘glory to glory?’ I constantly remind myself, God is IN CONTROL, He knows everything that we are going through, every heartache, every struggle, every season of our life, He is there. He was there when I was born; when I was diagnosed with diabetes, the times I almost died. He was and is there during my greatest joys, my deepest sorrows, when I was overwhelmed with fear, when I was full of doubt and when I was full of faith. He will be with me when I transition to ‘glory.’ He knows us intimately…and during these days of transition, our time on earth, He will not forget us nor abandon us…those of us, called according to His name. ❤

Memory Bouquet : Pieces Of April

Pieces of April

Published on Apr 7, 2015 (revised from my original post on Youtube)

I originally made this video for a dear friend, a free spirit of sorts, and a nature lover. I loved this song as a young teen/adult, though I was limited to mostly country in our home, there were times, when I was finally able to drive, that I would, as soon as I left the driveway, crank the music up, and it wasn’t usually country. It seems like yesterday I was driving the folks Chevy and headed down the highway…listening to this song, ‘Pieces of April’ . I am thinking a lot about family these days, my family of origin mostly, and how fast time is slipping away. So, as I look through picture albums and video’s lately, I am making ‘memory bouquets’. When I come across a video of my mama’s grin, laugh, mannerisms, or beautiful face and/ or  a video of my daddy laughing and teasing, well…sometimes the tears threaten to come to the surface; other times  I catch myself smiling or laughing…but always I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and love.

So, over the years, I’ve become a collector. A collector of memories, through pictures, video’s and more. I have a Memory Bouquet…full of life, love and laughter. Times of joy and laughter, times of pain and sorrow…but through it all  a wonderful ‘bouquet’ of memories. I’ve learned through the years how, to pray, to forgive, to push forward, to endure, to love, to sing, to overcome, to speak my mind, to break through intimidation and fear and to fight for what I believe in. I’ve learned to laugh through the pain, I’ve wept in times of joy,  praised God in the storm, stood on His Word, and sat at His feet in worship and surrender. God is constantly working in my heart…pruning, watering, breaking up the shallow ground, and shining His light in the dark places. I am ever so grateful He knows how to love me to life, picks up the broken pieces, looks beyond my faults and sees my needs. He tends to me like a well watered garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hula Hoop Challenge; And the Winner Is….;)

I’ve been feeling a bit blue lately, and decided to go through some of my old video’s.  I have a few gems such as this one.  Recorded and uploaded in 2015 I couldn’t help but laugh! Laughter certainly IS good medicine. 😀

My husband is an engineer, but there is this ‘little boy’ in him that comes out around our grandchildren, especially our oldest granddaughter, but ALL the grandchildren gravitate towards him. I do have a cameo appearance here, but my granddaughter and I both lost it when Papa took up the challenge. I was trying so hard not to laugh behind the camera. I treasure these moments in our lives, they pass so quickly.

So, who DO YOU, think won the Hula Hoop Challenge? hahaha

😀

Aging Gracefully

Hi, there folks.

This is me through the years starting as a baby – high school graduation (last picture). A lot of life, love and laughter. I look at these pictures and wonder, where did the time go, and who is that ‘stranger’ looking at me in the mirror every morning and every night: Okay, okay…sometimes I look more often, but at my ‘age’, I see every line and wrinkle; perhaps against all odds, I’m hoping  that the latest ‘anti-wrinkle’ cream I am using is REALLY going to produce a miracle like it says it does. So far, no such luck. Nope. Not til Jesus comes to take me home will I be without ‘spot’ or ‘wrinkle’, says so right there in the Bible. 😉 Well, maybe I’ve taken it out of context…but sometimes if I don’t laugh, I think I might cry, and believe me, after the cataracts came out a couple of years ago, I came close. One day I thought I was looking  pretty good for my age, and the next day ‘bam’, right between the eyes…, I mean right between my eyes, those little crinkly lines, not to mention every crevice and spot on my face suddenly became much clearer! Of course, the up side was seeing colors and everything  more vibrant and alive…who knew that the ‘orange’ facial scrubber I was using, was actually ‘hot pink’, and the shirt I thought was orange was a ‘hot pink’. Thinking how many times I thought I was wearing black with matching black shoes, to find out one was black, the other blue?

Let’s be real here! In a few days I’m going to turn 64 years old. I’m trying to embrace who I am NOW, not yesterday, bite the bullet (we really don’t have a choice), continue to laugh, love and live. The Bible says there’s enough trouble today, so don’t worry about tomorrow (paraphrased), He’s going to be there for all my tomorrows as He was for all my yesterdays, and today! I think it is wise to plan for the future, but it’s never wise to worry (and this is something I have to lay at the feet of Jesus daily…some days I win, others I really struggle).

Forgive me for rambling just a little bit today (you know us ‘old’ folk do that from time to time, eh)? I got to looking at some of these old photos today of myself through different stages of my young life. I started out pretty cute; chubby and wrinkly…and I was thinking to myself, how ironic that I’m probably gonna end up that way too, yeah…chubby and wrinkly, though if someone calls you ‘cute’ when you get older, it’s usually more about your ‘behavior’, or some quirky habit you’ve picked up unknowingly as you’ve aged . Not too long ago I read a police report about an ‘elderly’ woman, 63 or 64 years old, whose car was rammed into by a desperado who was driving a stolen car. I thought to myself, “Elderly?”  What were they ‘talking about?’ I was 63, and that sounded so foreign to my ears! Never would I consider myself or call myself ‘elderly!’ I cringed at the mere thought of being called  elderly at the ‘young age of 63.’   NO WAY was I going to accept what the dictionary (and some of our society) labels ‘elderly!’

eld·er·ly
ˈeldərlē/
adjective
  1. (of a person) old or aging.
    “she was elderly and silver-haired”
    Synonyms:
    aged,
    old,
    advanced in years,
    aging,
    long in the tooth,
    past one’s prime;
    gray-haired,grizzled,
          hoary; in one’s dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent;
          getting on,
          past it,
          over the hill,
          no spring chicken
         old people,
         the aged,
         senior citizens;
         geriatrics,
         seniors;
         retired people,
         retirees,
         golden agers;
         oldsters,
         geezers
 ∼

Hmm, Some of these descriptions I can accept, but long in the tooth? Getting on? geezer? decrepit, doddering? I think NOT! Doesn’t sound like me at all, nor most of my ‘elderly’ friends! Not yet anyway, and when that time comes, and I do see it coming, I’ll let you know, or as my sister once said to me, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!’ 😀  In the meantime, I’m going to dance the dance of life, and celebrate everyday as a gift from God. As His Word says…I will rise up as an eagle, and my youth will be renewed as I wait on the Lord.

In all seriousness, though, aging gracefully is a struggle for many in our youth oriented culture, and has been for me too at times, especially when you feel ‘young’ but the ‘number’ keeps creeping upwards. Inevitably, we all age but one of the most beautiful of women I’ve ever known was my mother…she was graceful, her smile, the way she moved, gentle. She was always there for my siblings and I, and knew when to call and when to come. This is true ageless beauty; to love others and have a giving heart.   God’s word says it best in 1 Peter 3: 3-4:

 3 Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.

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You Are So Beautiful To Me

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The wrinkles on a time-worn face
Can be symbols of God’s grace,
If through our laughter and our tears
His love has freed us from our fears. —D. De Haan

“Even to your old age, . . . and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” (Isaiah 46:4).

Yes, we can be assured that God will always be with us through every season. My advice: Love Deeply, Forgive Quickly, Laugh Loudly, Be Thankful. In our lives things are constantly changing, but we can be assured that our God NEVER changes and that His love for us is not dependent on our performance, nor what we look like on the outside, or even the crud on the inside. He just loves us. God used this song, ‘I Am’, along with the picture of mama touching my heart gently, to reassure me when I was in the throes of grief, that He is always with me. He is the one constant in life. The words to this song say it all.

I Am

 

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

CHORUS:
I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your heart’s desires
Your heart’s desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide

CHORUS(2x)

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

I’ll Be Loving You

Below is a video, one of my first attempts at editing, along with the caption that is below the video on Youtube.  My husband, Lee, and I will have been married 41 years on August 7th, 2017. I am in disbelief at times how fast the years have flown by. There are times, of course, we struggled and still do, truth be told, but commitment to one another and to God is the key to lasting relationships. I honestly cannot imagine my life without the love of my life.  Have there been times I wanted to throw in the towel, oh, yeah, but God would remind me, after I would complain to Him, that if I wanted peace in my life, that I needed to forgive and to bless.

One thing I have learned and experienced concerning love over the years, whether it is in a marriage or with other relationships ; true love is God centered, it is based on ‘action’ and not on pure emotion. It’s always a choice to love, especially when others have wounded us deeply. It’s not easy.

The pictures of family and friends captured in this video below, only tell a partial picture. In spite of the seemingly carefree and loving environment depicted here; it was not always so, though there were undoubtedly good times where we laughed and loved, there are also countless untold memories of heartache, disappointment, and hopelessness (not just for me, but for all involved at various times).  As I watch this video again, my heart is overwhelmed with gratefulness for God’s Presence in my life. He promised to never leave us, nor forsake us.  I am also very grateful that a loving God sees past our human frailty, sinful nature and our faults (our imperfections) and has made a way for us to experience His forgiveness, love and peace through His son Jesus.

 

 

“Through the Good Times and the Bad Times, God is Always Faithful. As Christians, we cannot really learn to love until we’ve learned to forgive others, ourselves and even God. I have had to repent many times for not walking in love and forgiveness. There is NO LOVE like the love of our Savior, Jesus…and He is calling us, as Christians, to take the high road as the scripture says below, to lay our lives down for Him, and that means to let go of all bitterness and hurt and let God come in and heal our hearts. He is calling the sinner to come and rest and experience the Greatest Love of all time, Jesus, the Lover of our Soul. There are too many broken hearts. I do not regret the storms of life…for in them God has shaped and molded me and I desire above all else to have a pure heart and follow His ways, not because I have too, but because I Love Jesus. This is dedicated to my wonderful husband who is the love of my life, and a special thank you to my friend Sean who made it possible for me to learn to make video’s…and especially to my Father in heaven, and my VERY best friend Jesus, the Lover of My Soul.

Joh 15:9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 
Joh 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 
Joh 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 
Joh 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 
Joh 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 
Joh 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 

Special thank you to Dave Gregoire, Jenni Springer and LadyJane Fontaine for the use of some of the pictures…I appreciate it..”

Blogging as I Go! Lord, Help Me! lol

The last two weeks I was fighting a terrible sinus infection and am just now beginning to feel somewhat normal. What is normal for me? That’s debatable, and depends on who you talk too, some I dare say, have me in the ‘she’s really different’ category.  Suffice it to say,  in my ‘normal’ state it’s challenging enough for me to figure out the technical side of things: in a brain fog trying to get my thoughts organized and in the direction I want to go is excruciating. In fact, I am currently reorganizing some of my menus and categories which will be my main task today. It’s been helpful to me to view other seasoned bloggers and take note how they (or you) are organizing your blog site. Better I try and do this now, and backtrack a bit, than wait til I’m 100 blogs in or more! So, please bear with me as I continue to press in.

One of the changes I am going to incorporate is to change the Menu ‘blog’ (how original, right?) and relabeled it Heart2heart, because that is very much what I am all about; connecting with others. I have a desire to share my family history, but I also have many things on my heart and in my own life that I want to get ‘out there!’  It’s something that has been stirring within me for a long time; sharing my life experiences, my spiritual journey, and in doing so encouraging others along the way.

The label Vander H. Atwell, will host stories or musings and opinions my father has written over the years as a guest columnist for various local newspapers where he has lived, and lives currently. I would like to feature some of his ‘bluegrass’ videos, and blogs relating to this aspect of his life under his label also.

Precious Memories, will be mostly about my family growing up, family history; Atwells (daddy’s side) and Ramey’s (mama’s side), and the last few years after mama and daddy moved back from California to Arkansas. I have thousands of pictures and video’s…but I have to figure out how to do this in an organized way. Pray for me…;)

Well, that’s it in a nutshell, happy blogging everyone, as I can and time will allow me, I do like to come around and read what you have to share, and I have found some great and interesting bloggers. It’s beginning to come together! I’m still trying to figure this blogging thing out, but I’m closer to my goal than I was, and for that I’m grateful.  I just keep reminding myself, “You Can DO it!”

Addendum:

Just added a Love Lifted Me menu, which will feature scripture, encouragement, worship (I love to worship, and I have been and am currently a worship leader along with my husband).

Gallery was added also. I most likely will add grandparent pages to that as I go along.

 

Van, the Mandolin Man

When I was a little girl I remember daddy buying one of our first pieces of furniture (I say that with a smile, not sure how mom felt about that)…a blonde Fender Guitar and Amp. From that time on he was hooked. He would practice all the time, and over the years he eventually traded his electric guitar in for a mandolin, not that he stopped playing the guitar entirely but the mandolin became ‘his’ instrument of choice. He began playing with some country fella’s in California but it seemed ‘bluegrass’ was what he really loved. I remember some fellas and a couple of gals, gathering around mama and daddy’s small living room when they lived in California; banjo, mandolin, bass fiddle, acoustic guitar and fiddle all joining in the fun. He traveled the circuit and played as often as he could at different events and venues around the surrounding areas.

When my folks decided to return to Arkansas, after living in California for over 50 odd years (mama called it their last ‘big’ adventure), daddy had no trouble finding others to play bluegrass with. His younger brother, Billy, played bluegrass as well, and one thing led to another and soon daddy was off and running. I wish I knew this song they are playing, but suffice it to say we all had a great time that night, and the highlight for me, was of course my mandolin playing ‘pappy.’ My sister once said to me, (both of us having no appreciation for bluegrass or country much when we were growing up), “Listening to daddy play bluegrass is kinda of like having a spiritual experience.” I’m not sure about that, but I got what she meant as only sisters can and do.