Peace Through the Storms of Life

I have to laugh at myself, so this coffee pic seems appropriate.

Hello, Thursday morning friends! Thanks for stopping by this morning. I’m reminiscing again, but for a different reason.

NOTE: I accidentally entered the wrong date. This was supposed to post on Thursday!

Once upon a time, I had three beautiful aunts. Actually, I had one more out west, but I never met her. And oh yes, there is my uncle’s wife in Idaho I never met, too. But that’s another story.

My brothers and me with Aunt Edna’s kids, minus one not born yet. We were a handful!

Tennessee family. I had three lovely aunts, my dad’s two sisters, Jenny and Fran, and his brother’s wife, Edna. Growing up in a close family meant a lot of love. My aunts were like “other mothers” to me. Sometimes, I could talk to them more easily than my own mother. But, I always knew Mom would hear about it. They were all great friends who told each other things like that.

Aunt Jenny and Aunt Fran died several years ago, within days of each other. Aunt Jenny always looked after her younger sister, so I joked that she stopped by the nursing home on the way out and  took sis with her. And that was okay. Our hearts hurt, but we knew where they were.

This week, Aunt Edna left. She was a survivor. She survived colon cancer and lived with a colostomy for many years. She endured many losses in her life. But her love stayed strong. Though she was little, she was a fierce warrior where her family was concerned.

11738096_10205150625025104_478638103348948120_n
Mom on left, Aunt Edna on right.

I like to think she passed that fierce love to all of her children—those she gave birth to, those she loved like her own kids, and the numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who called her “mammy”.

My heart aches at this loss. But if the alternative is not to have love, then I say it’s worth the pain. I’ve experienced great joy in life because of these three women who loved me unconditionally. I think it would be a greater loss and heartbreak to go through life alone.

Aunt Jenny, always smiling.

A kiss going in, a kiss going out, and sometimes, a kiss just because. That’s what we said about Aunt Jenny, but it could easily be said of all the aunts. They never missed an opportunity to show affection and love, because they had learned the value and importance of physical touch, and making your feelings known.

Peace through the storms of life, that’s what unconditional love provides. A shelter in the storm. Knowing you’re loved and accepted somewhere, by someone. In this in-your-face, confrontational world, it may be an old-fashioned concept.

Aunt Fran & Me (I’m the little one).

Or, maybe it’s a southern thing. All I know, is I will miss their hugs and kisses.

I’ll miss Aunt Edna’s voice. But the love is still there, because she never missed an opportunity to pass it on.

So, now it’s our turn. The baton is in our hands.

Real Life and Romance

Hello, Thursday morning! Have you had your coffee yet? No? I thought you looked a little bleary-eyed. Oh, wait—that’s a mirror—I’m the bleary-eyed-one. Be right back.

I don’t think there’s any way I can top last week’s post. It was a winner. It’s apparent to me, my readers like real life stories, especially when it involves romance. Which may be why I especially enjoyed one of the reviews I found on my latest release, Rebecca’s Legacy:

Thank you, Caroline Gabor!

As a young reader, I enjoyed biographies. The real-life stories of some of my favorite people interested me. That’s the appeal of writing non-fiction, I suppose. Getting to know folks better, especially when extraordinary things happen.

Which is probably why I was always fascinated by my maternal grandmother’s life. I was only two when she died, so I have no memory of her. Only snippets of stories my mother told over the years. For some reason I was never privy too, my grandfather left her and his two daughters behind in Seattle, and moved to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he cleared out their bank account before he left.

Right off, you’ll probably think how horrible that was, and figure the family hated him afterwards, but that’s not really what happened. He was angry when he left, because he wanted to move, and my grandmother didn’t. So he took all his hard-earned cash and went away, probably thinking she would relent.

He should’ve known better.

Grandma and Bernie Alonzo, 1952

Audrie Leon Packnett Christy (Alonzo), my grandmother, was of Austrian/native American descent (both came from her father). I hear she had a strong will. “Sit up straight, Joan.” My mother told me how she’d demand that her girls stand tall. Straight shoulders. No slouching. Walk like a lady. Maybe some of those demands are the reason my mother left home at an early age. She was still in high school when she went to live with a friend in a small downtown apartment.

Mom married at seventeen, her sister married at fifteen. My grandmother remarried around the time my mother left home. There are a lot of blanks in this story. My mother never talked about that time, and I’ve never pressed her to tell. I wonder, though, because my step-grandfather said of my grandmother, “She was the love of my life. I will never forget her.”

I know he was the one who drove my mother to the hospital when I was on my way into the world. My grandmother named me, and was the first, after my mother, to hold me. I think she created a bond that’s never left me.

I look through Mom’s old photographs and dream up stories to fill the holes. One day, I’ll tell the stories.

Henry Earl Christy, my grandpa, lived in Southern California until he died at the age of 75. His health was bad, but every photo shows him smiling, and most photos include a dog. He also remarried. My step-grandmother’s name was Viola, and that’s what we called her. Never Grandma, or any variation of it, just, “Viola.”

She smoked a lot and usually had an alcoholic beverage in her hand. She had a low voice, and she laughed easily. But, she also dictated where they would live. When Grandpa wanted to live in the Santa Monica mountains to be near a hot springs (relief for his Rheumatoid Arthritis), she put her foot down. It was too cold there. She preferred the valley, so they moved to Paramount.

In Paramount, Grandpa met some of the “movie stars” when they visited the hospital. There’s a picture somewhere, of Grandpa with Betty White. I hope I inherit that one someday. 🙂

He spent a lot of time in hospitals, sometimes as a patient, other times, as a volunteer. Volunteering helped pay the hospital bills. He also became a guinea pig, allowing them to try new procedures, hoping to help others overcome RA and Emphysema. After his death, he left his body to research. I try not to think about that. I’m sure he joked about it. Maybe they’d call him “Joe.” He’d hang out with the other cadavers.

That was my Grandpa. I didn’t know him well, because most of my life, I lived over here, and he was over there. But, he wrote almost weekly letters to my mother, so we knew about him.

Maybe someday, I’ll write that story, too. There’s a romance in there somewhere, I just know it.

The Prayer He Prayed for Us

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday morning! Grab a cup of coffee and  join me. My Thursdays are usually a little less frazzled than the rest of the week. I go through my morning routine, visit and market online, then get out my latest manuscript and start creating.

The last couple of weeks have been a little different, as I’ve completed one book and am starting another. I have lots of preparation to do in front of the June release date.

Regardless of all that, I still want to spend time reading and studying the Word of God. That’s my morning meditation. My breathing session. It’s both relaxing and invigorating. Gets my mind flowing. Oh, and you thought that was the coffee! 🙂

This week, I’m meditating something new. I’m thinking about the prayers of Jesus, and how I can pattern mine after His. He didn’t pray complicated prayers. He had such a close relationship with God the Father, he just carried on a conversation. And then I found this one–

  • Jesus prayed for us. For US. You, and me.
I’m praying not only for them,
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me. John 17:20
  • “Them” and “their” in this passage refers to his disciples. “Those” refers to us—those who come after—those who believe. He goes on to say:
 “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.”
  • And now, we are, “all of them.” He wants us working together, not struggling against each other, because…
“Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.”
  • There’s a purpose beyond our own comfort. Believers should live in unity, loving one another. This is the natural result of our common belief. If you mix yeast into flour, add a sweetener like honey or sugar, then add some warm milk, you will see a natural reaction. We are the yeast and the flour, mixed together. The milk is the Word of God. The sweetener—the honey—is the love.
 Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.”
  • The evidence is love. He loved us first. When the man who would later become my husband first showed an interest in me, I was a little surprised. It was unexpected. But when he acted as though he liked me, and wanted to keep seeing me, I was encouraged to believe in the possibility he might love me someday.
  • Jesus loved us first. You could say He pursues us.
 “Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me long before there ever was a world.”
  • All of this happened because God loved first. We are made for His glory.
So, here’s my prayer for you:
May you glorify God through the life you live today, exhibiting the love of Christ, so others may believe in Him, and become one of “those”.
Scriptures — John 17: 20-25 The Message

A Reason for the Season

coffee, cup, laptop, memeGood morning and happy Thursday! It’s a bit nippy outside my door, and right on time. Christmas is coming.

The movies have started, the malls are brimming with shoppers, Christmas music is in the air, along with a definite aroma of cinnamon. The sights and sounds of the season.

All the rushing around causes me to wonder, am I ready for this? Can I conjure up a Christmassy-feeling? Bake some gingery-spicey things for the aroma, decorate with pretty lights and holiday bows?

Anticipation of the shiny eyes and excited faces of the children on Christmas Eve, watching and waiting, spurs me onward. Put up the tree, hang the lights, bake the cookies.

But, am I really ready? Something’s most definitely missing.

So, I turn my shiny eyes and excited face inward, to remember the One who started it all. As He made a natural entry into the world to begin an unprecedented journey that would span the next thirty-three years.

Yesterday, I wondered what it was like for Him, looking out through brand-new infant eyes. The Creator now a creature, helpless and dependent. Experiencing one of the greatest of all natural miracles–a mother’s love.

My heart brims over with love as I prepare to make a difference.

So, in the midst of all the gift-giving and rushing about, remember what it really means. Let His love shine out of your eyes and into your little corner of the world. Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His love. Help others remember the true meaning of the season.

Jesus.

Click to Tweet: Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His #love. Help others remember the true meaning of the #season. #MerryChristmas