Precious Christmas Memories

I don’t remember what gifts I received on Christmas day when I was 3 or 6 or 7. But I do remember coming down the stairs very early in the morning with Steve and Tom to wake up our parents.

I remember packages wrapped in newspaper comics. Opening gifts as fast as we could before Grandma Irvin, who always came early, appeared.

Our aunt and uncle and cousins arriving, everyone happy and smiling. Sharing our new goodies with all and playing in the basement while dinner was made ready.

Family gathered around the table…the table location would change year to year….the living room, the basement and even out in the garage one year. Then guessing who had our name so we could open our gifts. Playing all afternoon while adults talked. Then warm hugs and goodbyes.

We would then pile in the car and head to Aunt Carol’s where we would find Grandma Daft and more cousins. There would be playing and stories and eating Buckeyes, cookies and cheese balls.

It would be dark on the ride home and everyone quiet after the long day but there would be a sweet satisfaction of a wonderful time. We would look out the window, watching snow, never knowing how quickly time flies.

I see the moments now as clear as if they were yesterday. For it’s not the gifts but the memories that linger on. Precious memories. How they linger.

 

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How I Got My Name

This question makes me laugh. My mother was a character. When I was young and would ask how she and dad picked my name, she would always tell the same story. I thought it was the truth for so long.

First, you have to understand that, as children, my mom and her sister, would take all their kids to different places to pass the summer days. One of the places we would go….was to Greenlawn Cemetery. Yes! To play! This is a very large cemetery. Mom and Aunt Bobbi’s father is buried here. The cemetery was green and well-kept and it had a section with a pond. It was an area where there was room to play. So we would actually take food for a picnic and we would spread out a blanket and eat with my cousins at the cemetery!! Afterwards, we would feed the ducks in the pond, and play tag and other games in the clearing near the water. Near by-were nice, but very old, mausoleums-kind of surrounding the water. We would explore them and try to peek in with the hopes to see coffins or anything interesting! I didn’t realize how strange this was!

So, when my mother told me that she and dad saw the name “Donna” on a tombstone and the name “Lynn” on another one, I had no reason to question her! I thought it was strange and it wasn’t a story I would share with my friends, but I believed that my name came off of a tombstone. It was a little secret I carried in my heart. lol I didn’t realize my mother must have smiled to herself each time I asked.

I think I was a teenager when I was talking to dad and he began to tell me that to pick my name, he and mom wrote all the girl names that they liked on a piece of paper. Then they exchanged papers and marked off any that they did not like. They did this until there were two names left. Donna and Lynn. This became my name.

I honestly don’t remember if I went to my mother about this or not! It is just funny to me that what I DO remember is…that I wasn’t surprised at all. I was used to mother’s antics.

So that is how I got my name!!

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What mom was like when I was a child

Mom. So much to remember. Mom was fun loving and people pleasing. She was impulsive and emotional. She was very close to her sister and her mother. As children, we spent a lot of time with both of them. Until I was 5, we lived only a few streets up from grandma…her mother. We would walk over to visit and always had lots of fun. Her sister, our Aunt Bobbi, had a lake and we would spend summer days swimming and winter afternoons skating.

Those were the days when kids played outside most of the day. So, we spent our days playing around cornfields, or in our big backyard where we would play whiffle ball or in our sandbox….playing with neighborhood kids. Mom didn’t know a stranger, so we knew the Cobbs, the Wilsons and others on our street. We got to know them as playmates and friends. When the day was over, mom would call us in for supper. We always had a meat, some kind of potato, vegetable and bread. My dad was very traditional when it came to eating. Mom never had me in the kitchen to learn to cook. Not once. But she did have me and my brothers clean up afterwards. We also had chore lists to accomplish on Saturdays. But we were always allowed to watch cartoons first.

She was always involved in church. From Sunshine girls, to Sunday School to Junior Church. She always had a great big bible and took notes during church. She thought she could sing but she honestly wasn’t the best singer but she did sing alto in choir.

She used to “play” the piano and sing Happy Birthday to us on our birthdays. It was a crazy way to wake up. When we misbehaved, she whipped us with whatever she found on hand…a hairbrush, a hot wheels track or fly swatter (ouch). She allowed us to have a dog, which we loved, and was on our side against my dad about having cats. We eventually won and he secretly adored a few of them.

She had to work when we started school. She worked as a school cafeteria cook so she could be home when we got home from school. She was often tired after working and having to come home and cook and take care of all of us. I wish that as a child, I would have realized that. I often just thought she was moody. I understand so much more now.

When we were older, she was very faithful to attend all of our extracurricular events. She was at our ball teams, our musicals, or whatever we were doing. And she was our biggest fan!

She was very encouraging to me. She always told me how beautiful she thought I was, told me how I could do anything I set my mind to and thought I was super talented…whether I was or not…in her mind, I was all that.

She was very supportive toward dad. We visited his relatives a lot. That involved traveling and keeping up with them. She was very willing to do that. She went to his softball games and followed his lead spiritually, even when she didn’t always agree. She sometimes let her feelings be known, which went dad, did not go very well. But they always worked things out eventually.

She was very playful. She played a lot of practical jokes on dad, some he did not always appreciate. But we thought they were funny.

She never knew a stranger. She would travel to my house to come to my Ladies Retreats and everyone in my church got to know her and thought she was the greatest ever. When I was a child, we would to to the grocery store and she would talk and talk to the check out person. I would always ask who the lady was, thinking that they must have known each other with all the talk. She never knew who they were. She was just naturally friendly to all.

I know it was hard on her for me to move away. She didn’t give me a hard time….too much. I feel so sorry for her now. But I was grateful my brothers were near. I miss her phone calls!

When dad was gone, she missed him terribly and I think she suffered more than we knew. She continued to be faithful and to keep up with her kids and grandkids. We were all shocked when she got so sick and passed away. But I think she really wanted to be with dad.

So we have many memories about her…which is appropriate because her life motto was “Make memories.” She made our childhood a great one. Writing this reminded me of that. I miss her very much. Thanks mom!!

 

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Things Mom Said To Me

 

 

 

 

 

Things Mom Said To Me:

Don’t make me come up there!
Sit up straight.
Because I said so, that’s why!
If your friends told you to jump off a bridge, would you?
Clean your room.
Do you have on clean underwear?
Maybe later.
A little birdie told me.
Don’t sit too close to the TV, it will ruin your eyes!
How do you know you don’t like it until you taste it?
I didn’t ask who put it there, I said, “pick it up!”
If you are too sick to go to school, you are too sick to go outside.
Get out in the car before we are late for church!
Turn your lights out!
I’m not telling you again to get out of that bed!
I am not going to ask you again.
Your lips are so red, you don’t even need to wear lipstick.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Just wait til your dad gets home!

Those are fun things to remember. But these are the things I remember most.

You can do anything you set your mind to.
You are beautiful.
You have my beautiful feet.
You will always be my baby.
You will do fine…you always do.
You will be a good mother someday.
God loves you.
I will always love you no matter what.

Proverbs 15:4a “Gentle words bring life and health.”

I am thankful for mother who loved God and her family!

 

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Spina Bifida Fact Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

Spina Bifida is the number one disabling birth defect in the world.

Approximately 30 percent of the general population in the United States has some form of spina bifida.

One in every 1000 babies are born with spina bifida.

In western Pennsylvania, approximately 1000 people have spina bifida.

Spina Bifida is more prevalent in those of Irish and northern European ancestry.

The cause of Spina bifida is still unknown, although a combination of genetic and environmental  factors are suspected.

The disease occurs in the fetus during the first month after conception.

The most obvious sign of spina bifida is a small cyst of fluid and nerves on the back of the baby at birth.

The cyst often results in some form of paralysis of the lower body and bowel. Bladder incontinence may also result.

One of the side effects of spina bifida  is short stature. Allegheny physicians have discovered that the monitored use of growth hormone is an effective treatment for this condition.

Many people with spina bifida have subtle learning disabilities, even though their IQ scores are normal.

Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in cavities in the brain and usually accompanies spina bifida.

Until the 1950s, patients with hydrocephalus rarely survived. The advent of new infection fighting drugs has greatly increased survival.

Today, 80-90 percent of people born with spina bifida survive and live full, productive lives.

By Robert F. McKellar

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Disappointment

carrying a broken heart

Yes, today I feel like I am carrying my heart on my shoulders….my broken heart. These are hard days because I am a positive person and I am a people pleaser…and I want to be a God-pleaser. So, I am also carrying a big invisible box of GUILT!! But some days, you just can’t hide it!!

I feel like I work really hard not carrying my burdens around on my shoulders. I try not to talk about my heavy feelings TOO much but if someone asks (they rarely do), I am more than happy to pour it out and share. And that feels good. My normal outlet is to talk to Steve and to (sometimes) rail at the Lord…then apologize!! lol. But He can take it and He knows my heart anyway. And it usually ends with my acceptance.

Okay….here is my heavy heart today…might as well spell it out! Steve and I, who rarely get an evening out, much less a whole three days and two nights, had a trip all summer planned to go to Ocracoke Island. It’s only accessible by ferry and we had a beautiful room with a gorgeous view. I LOVE the ocean and rarely go because Korie can’t participate and I feel bad for her. So, I was going to get sun, rest and relaxation and spend time with Steve!

Yeah, someone putting in a new bridge, destroyed power lines to Hatteras and Ocracoke! The poor owners…they have lost so much money this past week…right in the middle of peak season. I feel worse for them than myself.

But face it…disappointment is painful. I have dealt with it before…living far from family, having a child with a disability (BIG ONE), disappointments with friends, job decisions, death of my parents, dealing within our budget when we have many needs and…yes, I admit…WANTS! Disappointment! We all have to deal with it. Because we live here on this sinful earth!

I know a lot of my disappointments go side by side with my expectations…my team not performing well, tiring holidays when it was suppose to be perfect, news from the doctor that you weren’t expecting, we could go on and on. I need to set my expectations on what God has for me and not want I was hoping for or dreaming of….not easy….but necessary to be content.

Some disappointments come with putting trust and our faith in our friends or loved ones. That is not a bad thing really, but people can disappoint. Emergencies happens, their priorities are different, or they let us down. Realizing that not everything is about me or putting others first, helps when outcomes are different than what was expected.

I must be careful on how I deal with disappointment. If I don’t deal with it correctly, it can turn to depression, anger, or selfishness, to name a few.

Jesus is my encourager! He came to lift me up! But He can only do that if I allow it. I can’t stay wallowing in my despair or hurt.
“Let not your heart be troubled…”
“Take courage”, Jesus told the paralytic.
Romans 15:5-6 says God is our Encourager.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength”

Did I need time away with my husband and have I always wanted to go to Ocracoke? Yes.
Is it the end of the world? No
Is my family healthy right now? Yes
Am I overly abundantly blessed with family and friends? Yes

I need to adjust my thinking today. I need to lift up my head and look unto Jesus! How about you?

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Memories That Remind Me of Dad

DAD

Consistent, baseball, Tennessee, Cutting his own hair, GIGO, vacations, Rom. 8:28, potatoes, Sunday School, family devotions, storytelling, Sunday afternoon naps, Bible, cut-off pants, deacon, basketball, youth group, glasses, spitting out the window, Washington D.C, coach, Bible Conferences, generosity, camping, U-Turns, grandkids, Cincinnati, stomachaches, Big Bear Stores, boats, high fives, Reds, billfold, Old Spice, 5:30, water skiing, prayer, Buckeye games, old-time preachers, computers, visitation, softball, Ohio State Fair, museums, newspaper, walks, Hymn Stories, apple pie, ping pong, discipline, relatives, late night boxing matches, church, honesty, good sportsmanship, “You call it, I’ll cool it”, patriotism, supper time, training union, parades, itching, opinionated, skipping toenails, pork chops, ice, quiet, radio sports shows, driving at night on trips, amusement rides, directions, Ponderosa, missionary letters, mush, hot chocolate, cats, fish sandwiches, Murfield, the zoo, boat motor, cornbread and milk,Southside, coconuts, Wendys, The Waltons, mail truck driver, the Lone Ranger, Mammoth Caves, Daniel Boone Country, trying not to laugh, rides home after softball games, old radio programs, Niagra Falls, “The Three Bears”, Richmond, Lil’l Black Sambo, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, history, doing the bills, The Little Engine That Could, March 25, cream soda, flowers, Lake Erie, studying his SS lessons, shaving, Juicy Fruit Gum, pink candy, Old MacDonald Had A Farm, milkshakes, penny horse rides, peaches, ice cream, suits, sitting on a bus kid, make fudge, Peebles, Ohio, Memorial Day, expectations, long-winded, athletic, benefit of the doubt, drinking from natural streams, Carter Caves, Geauga Lake, campers, Lookout Mountain, brushing teeth with warm water, ticklish neck, toothpicks, thankful, statistics, carpet cleaning, phones, late nights, teaching, growing tomatoes, crochet, frosted root beers, money clip, wood stove, hating pizza small, film reels, hardens, white lawn mower, keys jingling, family.

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Repost of a writing at the first Father’s Day without dad.

heavenWHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE DAD

What is heaven like dad?
Did angels take you there?
Did you just appear, quick as a wink
Or did you climb a golden stair?

Did you go straight to God
Or did Jesus take you to the throne?
Did family escort you
Or did you see Him all alone?

Do you walk yet on streets of gold?
Do you have a home so fair?
Can you already wear a robe?
Or are you a spirit with no clothes to wear?

Do you sing praises to God
In a voice sweeter than you’ve ever heard?
Do you learn ever day
more and more about God’s Word?

Have you talked to Abraham or Moses?
Has Grandma given you a turn with Paul?
Have you seen the disciples
Have you talked to them all?

Or are you still with Jesus,
Spending your time with Him?
The One you loved and served
And shared with other men?

Can you look upon us dad?
Can you watch us from above?
Do you wonder how we are?
Do you still feel all our love?

Heaven must be wonderful
But there’s so much we don’t know.
If we could see your happiness
Would it be easier to let you go?

We know you are well
With no more pain
But the best part is
That we will see you again.

So wait for us, dad.
Someday we will be there, too.
But, oh, how we wonder what it’s like
And how much we all miss you!

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Repost of what I wrote about dad on the First Father’s Day without him (20 years ago)

I DID NOT KNOW HIM THEN

I did not know him then…
That little boy of five
As he stood at a grave and wondered
Why his dad was not alive

12 Judson's Funeral - Kenny on Thelma's knee, Grandma Hattie Richardson holding Carol JeanI did not know him then…
His life changed that way so.
Did he feel confused or afraid?
Did he feel all alone?

I did not know him then..
As he lived above the store.
As he played with friends but helped his mom
Did he wish for more?

 

 

I did not know him then…
All those summers in Tennessee
As he rode horseback in the fields
Healthy and tan as could be.

I did not know him14 School Pic - 1953 Peebles, OH then…
A school boy in the city
As he cheered for a team that played close
The Reds in Cincinnati

 

I did not know that older boy
His uncle would take in
As he played with cousins he would love
And keep memories that would never end.

 

 

I did not know that teenager
When a stepfather he did gain.
The troubles that would follow,
Would bad memories always remain?

I did not know that high school boy
Who walked long to practice ball
Who showed his talents he possessed
The first “no hitter” baseball displayed in the hall.

012 Wedding 01

 

I did not know the man
Who dated his future wife.
Who decided to marry her
And change their way of life.

I did not know him then.
I only knew my dad
Sometimes he made me happy
Sometimes he made me sad

 

But all the things he lived
Made him what he would come to be…
A man of character and love
That’s what was known to me.

Your daughter, Donna

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My Holland (A Repost)

This is something that I wrote under NOTES on FB on Aug. 17, 2010. I wanted to get it on my blog.

My Holland

I do not even know if I can explain in words my feelings this week. I have lived through sending my oldest to college and the bittersweet feelings that it brings to a parent’s heart. I was right there, fighting the tears and struggling with the inner turmoil that tries to accept such a big change in life.
daughter-leaving-parental-007

So….I am in no way, undermining anyone who is experiencing this feeling in the coming weeks. Many of my friends have children going off to college and my heart and my prayers are with them. I hurt for them on one hand and rejoice with them on the other.

This year, another dimension comes into my thoughts and feelings. These are my own to bear and I don’t take away from the feelings of pain or joy from anyone else. But what I am facing on my own, is the fact that this is the year that Korie is suppose to be packing and going off to college. We are suppose to be done with sports, graduation, that decision of where to go and what classes to take. Korie and Kristin could be going off together. Steve and I could be ready to experience the “empty nest” with no children at home and freedom to explore our own relationship again.

Instead, Kristin goes off alone, I watch other mom’s saying good bye to their 18 year olds full of hopes and dreams. Yes….it’s a bit hard to take sometimes. I wish I was struggling with my goodbyes…Oh, our family has our joys in the little things….so I am not complaining…..I was THRILLED when Korie read GREEN EGGS AND HAM to me all on her own yesterday….so happy to have someone that loves me unconditionally and tells me she loves me everyday. I am a mom most blessed.

But that doesn’t stop my feelings of “what could have been” if God had not chosen me for this task. Most days, I am up for it!!! Ocassionally, on days like today, when school starts up again, I struggle a bit more. I found a poem that best describes my feelings on days like last May, during graduation and days like this week, when college looms around the corner…it’s called:
holland_530x392

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

by Emily Perl Kingsley.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.

But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

3aa

Donna again….So, I will turn back to my “Holland” and see the good things that I have that others don’t. I may mourn some days but when my perspective is correct and I realize that it is GOD that took me to Holland…then I can take a deep breath and enjoy Holland. For in Holland, you are told how much you are loved…every day!! 

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