Friday, April 18, 2014

homemade ice cream...a story of a life well lived

I still struggle to say the words without tears flooding my eyes - hence my lack of posts - but on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, one of God's most beautiful angels gained her wings...
My dear grandma...our beloved "Tata" as we called her.
June 21, 1924 - April 9, 2014
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

She was a beautiful example of a life well-lived...a life walked solely by faith. She loved. She cared. She inspired. She gave. She forgave. She endured. She trusted. She is HEALED!
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile." ~Mother Teresa

That was my grandma in a nutshell. She loved without ever expecting anything in return. She pointed others to Christ not through her words, but through her actions.
I have so many wonderful memories of times shared with her. One of the biggest blessings in my life was having a sweet, simple, innocent childhood and she and my grandpa were such a huge part of that. I loved watching her in the kitchen. She was an AMAZING cook - absolutely no recipes, just "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" and "if you cook it with love it will always turn out good."
I can still hear her laugh and the way her eyes wrinkled and flickered when she couldn't stop laughing. I will never watch a beauty pageant without thinking about my grandma and the fun she, my grandpa, my mom, and I always had.
My grandparents' marriage was a godly marriage in every sense of the word...an example and an inspiration to all of us, her family. I have never met two people who loved each other more than they did. Their faith in God and their respect for each other was the cornerstone of their 57 years together. The way he looked at her, the way she took care of him...even through his 15-year battle with Alzheimer's...these and so many other memories are engraved in my mind forever.
My grandma suffered a great deal of pain in the nine+ years that she had Alzheimer's. But even through the worst of it, when this cruel disease had stolen everything from her, she kept her eyes on Jesus. What a beautiful homecoming that must have been!
We flew in to Puerto Rico the same day she died.  We didn't get there in time.  she passed a little before 1am and we didn't get there until 1pm that afternoon.  My heart will always ache for that, but I know she knew how much I loved her.  My mom and my Aunt Isa often put the phone to her ear so she could hear our voices.  Two days before she died, when she had taken another turn for the worse, my mom sent me a message to tell me that while Tata's eyes had been opened and focused, she had been talking to her about me and the littles, explaining to her why we couldn't be there - how we lived so far away.  My mom said she asked her if she understood, and that my sweet grandma blinked her eyes and moved her head up and down a little to say, yes.  More tears for me.  Tears seem to be in abundance around here lately.  And yet, we choose to focus on the beautiful gift her life was to us.
Just this past Tuesday, April 15th, we had a God wink like no other. My mom called and shared this story with me...and of course, more tears flowed. Happy ones, this time.

She was emptying an old drawer full of recipes, sorting them and deciding which ones to keep, since they bought a new house near us and they're still packing up their other house. She had put them in a box in the kitchen and left to do something else. Later when she returned, there was a single recipe on the floor...my grandma's homemade ice cream recipe.

It was as if my grandma was just letting us know that she is happy and well. Even though we have no doubt that upon her earthly death she was immediately reunited with our Heavenly Father, that little recipe on the floor just gave my mom and I such a sweet sign and memory to behold. In my mind, ice cream = celebrations = happy...oh what a glorious way to spend eternity in heaven with our loving Jesus!

I love you Tata with all my heart.
I miss you more than words can say and yet I am comforted to know you are no longer suffering.
What a legacy of love you've left our family!
'Till we meet again.
Your eldest granddaughter that named you "Tata" by babbling "ta-ta-ta-ta" when I was just months old and you said I was calling you by name...
Te quiero, Tata y te llevo en mi corazon por siempre! 
Jessica
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

joy is a CHOICE

I often find it ridiculous how people assume that those that share a lot of joyful moments in social media, etc. must a) have it all together/have an easy life, b) be lying through their teeth, or c) suffer from some sort of delusional "my life is fabulous" disease.
To choose to put your best foot forward, even in the midst of extraordinary circumstances and adversity requires courage. Happiness is a form of courage. I love that quote by George Holbrook Jackson.
I'm not talking about never being down. There is so much hurt in this world and at times my heart and mind do go there. Where, you ask? To that place where we wonder why some things are allowed to happen, why good people get hurt, why little children are left motherless and fatherless, why hunger and starvation envelop our world, why leaders betray nations, why people that we love dearly get sick and die, why loved ones hurt us, why, why, why. It is an abyss.
But we cannot stay there or we'll drown. Choosing joy is an everyday task. We must get up in the morning and make a conscious choice to see the beauty right in front of us. To let go of the anger and the hurt. To continue to trust and obey. To look for the sunshine after the rain. To forgive those that have hurt us in order to move on. To try, try again.
God didn't promise us that it would be easy, but He DID promise us that He would be there every step of the way. I hang on to that promise with every part of my being. And so I choose to find JOY in the little everyday moments that thread together to make life...and later relish in those memories.
I am thankful for so much, with these two littles Lance and I have been blessed with, at the top of my list.
Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. ~ Mother Teresa
Comparison is the thief of joy. ~Theodore Roosevelt  Isn't that the truth??!

This one is probably my favorite from all of these bunny pics. Anyone care to guess what they were fascinated by?
Pure . innocent . unadulterated . JOY!
Grace, 7 and Hudson, 4 3/4
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~Robert Brault
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

on my mind and in my heart

My sweet grandma has not been doing well. She's been in the hospital twice this week and is there now. She suffers from advanced Alzheimer's - such a heartbreaking disease - and it just breaks my heart to not be able to hug her and tell her how much I love her in person (she lives in Puerto Rico).
This is how I like to think of her (pic circa 1995)...with the beautiful smile and those sparkling baby blues that can tell a story without saying a word.  Always finding something to laugh about...her faith, strength and resilience have inspired me all of my life.  She loves flowers, hence why she grabbed one of the silk ones out of my mom's jar to pose for this picture!

I came across these next 2 pics this weekend when I stumbled upon a box of old pictures while spring cleaning.  This was during one of my mom's visits to PR several years back.  She had just given her a cross I sent her and a picture of baby Grace.  I love how happy they both look!
If you happen to read this and you have a minute or two to spare, will you lift her up in prayer, please? Her name is Virginia, but we all lovingly call her Tata.
This one is a recent one - from January, age 89 - still as beautiful as ever!  Te quiero con todo mi corazon, Tata!
Thank you all so much for your prayers!
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

camping with my favorite little guy!

Hudson's preschool had a fun little camping-themed field trip and Hudson was sooooo super excited!
I always lay out the littles' clothes, but this time Lance helped me. He did great!!
On the bus and ready to go!
A fun hayride to check things out around the farm...
First stop...fishing!
He wasn't too sure about the catfish...
...but he sure loved the worms! ha!
As did most of his friends!
Madi caught a big one!
But when Mr. Brian pulled it out there was no way she was going to touch it! he he he
Lilly either!
And Hudson said NO WAY!
Hanging out waiting for hot dogs...
Smores!
M'mm...M'mm!
A whole new meaning to "Cool Cat"!
Casey's turn!
{Okay, I'm so not a hunter! All of these mounted and dead animals freaked me out!!}
Scavenger hunt!
Such a fun group!
I loved "camping" with you, Hudson!!
Thank you for having us over, Mrs. H!
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