Welcome to my eclectic journey of my life and delights. This year my theme is surrendering my writing pen to the true author, Jesus Christ, while looking forward to the future, reflecting on the past and dancing through my journey.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo GOD!!!!!

Standing to our feet at the end of an awesome performance of Les Miserables, with hands clapping and roars of "Bravo, Bravo" being heralded toward the stage and burying lasting impressions into our souls, we showed our appreciation for the actors and actresses' performances.

Stopping speechless at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, my knees weakened as I stepped back to sit and admire the original painting of  "Washington Crossing the Delaware".  The talent that was displayed through one man's hands left me speechless.

Tears flow down my cheeks as my newly born child is handed into my arms....BRAVO!!

Beth Moore calls those times in our life that create a desire to want to stand, clap and look upward with "Bravo, Bravo God"...  those times when His words, His actions, His creation just bring us to our knees in appreciation.

On June 15, 2010, God brought a "Bravo, Bravo God" moment into my husband's and my life.  We had already been speechless over the generosity of  friends who allowed us to use their condo for time away to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  We had already been humbled as we walked down memory lane.  We were making our way back to our obligations at home in another city when God extended His hand for a "Bravo moment".

We circled back through our home town to stop at the church where our love had began.  We laughed in the parking lot where my husband had proposed to me.  Happily reliving our past memories, we strolled  into the familiar church lobby we had attended from childhood.  Asking the secretary if we could go into the locked sanctuary, we opened the door to more than I could have ever expected.  Strolling into the sanctuary, while having a friendly chat with the church secretaries, opened the scene for our "Bravo God" moment.  I only got a foot onto the still-blue carpet when God's presence...His hand on us.... His greatness in our marriage.... brought tears of gratefulness flowing from my eyes.  I lost it!  I was overwhelmed! I was enveloped in His Love and Faithfulness!

Standing there, my mind went back to every moment of my life that had occurred in this house of God.  From the first year my parents joined, (I was twelve) the years of youth group, years of our courtship, through our wedding, to the funeral of my beloved father-in-law.  The pews, the hymnals, the ceiling, the choir loft, the piano.  I was overcome with joy!

My husband, who had worshiped in this place longer than I, walked to the stage and sat down at the piano.  My tears were expressing my thoughts... he was quiet.  At age sixteen, he had given me wise, brotherly advise as I sat beside him on that same piano bench..  As he sat down, memories just continued to flood my mind.  He began to play like he had done for so many years in this place.  His voice and piano playing had filled these walls on many occasions. Then his gifted hands stroked the keys to play the melody of the song he had written for our wedding 30 years ago.

Bravo God, Bravo God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He finished the complete song, I washed away my tears and we both knelt on the same step of the platform stairs from 30 years earlier. These were the exact stairs where we had knelt in prayer before God so many times on different events in our lives, but the most important of all, our wedding prayer.  We once again prayed prayers to our God and recommitted ourselves in marriage before him.  Our gratefulness for our spiritual heritage which had brought us to this moment were voiced as a prayer offering before our God.

Yes, I have dreamed of those big parties where you renew your vows or a trip to Europe.  All of those dreams were diminished in size as I knelt with my husband of  thirty years, once again where it had all begun.

Words will never express that moment.  I am just trying to put it into words by calling it a
"Bravo, Bravo God Moment".

Can you recall your "Bravo God" moments?  Don't miss them. Sometimes they are in your child's kiss or an emotional event... and sometimes He is just there when life has knocked you down and He extends His arms to lift you up.
My "Bravo God" moment is still etched into my memory as tears flow each time I recall how He ended our anniversary celebration trip.  We serve an Awesome God!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Familiar Place - New Inspiration

Fredricksburg, Texas is the Bed and Breakfast captial of the Hill Country.  The city holds fond memories for my husband and I.  Many day trips have been spent there, as well as milestone events celebrated at Bed and Breakfast Inns.  While returning to our stomping grounds during our anniversary we took off for Fredricksburg.  Memories of the past were enjoyed, while new creative inspirations were gathered.  Strolling down through this city with camera in hand, I returned with ideas to copy on a lower budget.
The city welcomes you with Sunflowers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Know for their crops of peaches we had to bring home a sack full to enjoy, therefore peach cobbler.
I loved this soup tureen....not in my budget at this time.  Went the following weekend to a garage sale...$3.00
Mine is a little smaller...but we are downsizing....sorry older ones we won't be using this when you come.
I loved this suitcase and the idea of putting a collection into the suitcase
My suitcase find came at a neighbor's garage sale....$7.00 and my vintage photo collection, free, the pictures are of our family.

My next adventure is finding a piece like this to stencil myself....this piece sells for $3000.00!!!
 An older chair and ottoman to reupholster like this one....I am on the hunt.

So long Fredricksburg, your atmosphere was wonderful, your homemade chocolate was divine, your memories always embedded in my soul....hope to see you before another decade passes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Spiritual Birth

Continuing in my journey with Mommy's Piggy Tales, I am sharing my life at age five this week and then combining my school years.  For many, this year is the year of Kindergarten, but when I was five, Kindergarten wasn't mandatory in my school district. Therefore, my mother kept me at home with her. I would enter my school years at the age of 6, while enjoying age five at home with my mom and sister.

My parents are Christians; therefore, I was raised in the church.  I hold certificates of my promotions out of each year in the nursery, as well as certificates for my participation in Vacation Bible School each year.  My father held the seat of Chairman of the Deacons throughout my life and my mother held other positions open to the women in the church.  VBS was usually the largest event of the year.  My mother was always a worker and believer in this ministry of the church.

With that background, it would be assumed that my sister and I would be in attendance for every church service.  VBS was no exception and an instrument in my spiritual training.  This event holds cherished memories of us loading up the station wagon with neighborhood children and heading to the church.

August of 1966 saw Vacation Bible School finishing off our summer.  I would make a lifetime-altering decision during this VBS.  By the end, I had committed my life to Christ.  Because of my young age, my parents made an appointment with the pastor to make sure he felt confident that I knew what I was doing.
After our visit with the pastor he told my parents he felt sure I knew what I was doing.  I had a clear understanding that I was a sinner, that nothing I could do would get me into heaven and that salvation was a gift that couldn't be earned.  With his reassurance, I was allowed to make the next step by myself.

One Sunday evening, I knew it was time to come before the congregation at the altar call to publicly accept Christ as my Savior and Lord.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Beside me in the pew was a very tall man, or at least tall to a five-year-old.  I would have to ask him if I could get by him.  Laying my fear aside and with great determination, I asked to pass.  I stepped out into the aisle. The invitational song was being sung... maybe "Just As I Am".  My memory says it was the longest walk you could walk, whereas reality was I was in a very small church.  The long walk ended at the hands of my pastor, who then knelt with me in prayer.

Believing in complete emursion into water for water baptism, I completed my act of obedience weeks later.  I will not forget that either.  I know God sees our hearts and must have smiled when a scared girl went into the water for baptism.  I was so short that when the pastor leaned me back my feet went out from under me and I came back up with a splash!  I am sure the angels giggle at the site, as well as the members of our congregation.

From the moment of my salvation, I would desire to tell the world about Christ.  My parents said that I would share Christ with anyone who would listen.  I remember talking to all the neighborhood children.  My walk with the Lord  and more understanding would grow through the years.  I would always share my beliefs to every friend.  I have never doubted my decision, nor do I remember life without my relationship with Christ.  Jesus would remain my strength through different hills and valleys of life.

So, as I continue with this journey, I will truly be sharing His-story, because He is the author of my life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Otters, Lions, Beavers and Golden Retrievers - Oh My!!!

Otters, Lions, Beavers and Golden Retrievers...beware!!!

Do you have these animals living at your house?  Well I do!  A FAMILY CAN BE A REAL ZOO!

Years ago, when there were five children in our home, a friend gave us the books "The Treasure Tree" and "The Two Trails" by Trent and Smalley.  I had read books on personalities, (that was a big thing in the late 80's), but I hadn't read one that put it in such easy terms for my kids.

I remember first reading on personalities - Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic - "Personality Plus" by Florence Littauer, many years ago.  I guess I was too wise in my own young eyes because I didn't like being put into any category.  Well, age brings some wisdom and when the different personalities started to display themselves in my own home....well, let's just say I became a believer.

I wanted my children to accept each others personalities and not become prideful in their own eyes.  I would use illustrations about how we were each part of a recipe and without one of the ingredients, the end product wouldn't taste good.  I wanted us to embrace our differences and not allow them to tear us apart.

So, when these books hit our home, we had a high schooler, a middle schooler, two elementary scholars and a toddler.  The personalities were in full swing.  The Lion had entered his teen years, the otter was playing through his middle school years...on and on!

These books have helped my children see how to work together and appreciate each others' strengths.  They enlighten them as to the value of each of the personality types.

Personality Checklist
Lion - daring and unafraid of new situations, likes to be a leader, ready to take on challenges, is firm and serious about what is expected, makes decisions quickly 

Golden Retriever - always loyal and faithful to friends, listens carefully, likes to help others, is a peacemaker, doesn't like it when others argue, patient and willing to wait for something 

Beaver - is neat and tidy,notices details, sticks with something until done, asks lots of questions, likes things done the same way, tells things just the way they are

Otter - talks a lot and tells wild stories, likes to do all kinds of fun things, enjoys being in groups, likes to perform, full of energy and always eager to play, always happy and sees the good part of everything

Now most of us are a combination, but we usually have a dominant side.  Our family is very heavily weighted in the Otter department, with the other personalities spread through the rest of us.  Our otters tend to steal the stage and the rest of us have learned how to create order out of the chaos that they might sometimes leave behind....but we never have a dull moment round here.  They are also the ones missed when we have a lion/beaver planned family gathering (even though the other personalities have shown up) because the party tends to be less entertaining.

These little children's stories have helped us...and me, to remember the strengths and weaknesses associated with each of our personalities.  They have allowed us to give grace to each other and to understand the various personalities as God adds to our family.  God has given each of us our own special outlook on life...but isn't it a good thing he didn't make us all alike?  Variety is the joy of having a family!!!  We get to know these personalities at home first and then we can embrace them in the world.

How have you taught or learned to accept different people's personalities?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life with Cousins Begins

This journey link with Mommy's Piggy Tales has already been sweet.  I have pulled out pictures, stirred my memory and laughed with my children.  Looking back reminds me of how our perspective on life can change who we are and who we will become.  Recounting my earlier days of mishaps had always been seen as funny and never told in the tone of "you were a hand-full."  This has reminded me to keep the joy in re-telling my own children their stories...yes, my heart may have stopped when my daughter rode her bike down the indoor stairs, but the message behind the story has always been what an "overcomer and independent" girl she is.

Reading others stories this past week, I saw such healthy perspectives.  I pray as I walk through the rest of this journey, I will continue to see my past in the light of the beauty it was, because it is my story, given to me by God, the author of my life.

I don't remember stories from my pre-school years, nor can I get them out of my mom, but then again, we are both pushing upward in our years.  I do remember that it was the years of cousins.  I was blessed to have five cousins and my sister, all of us stair stepped in age.  Our mothers must have enjoyed gathering together to discuss their children and the joy of parenting.  Special bonds were built at an early age, along with precious memories of being with each other.

I would visit my grandmother at her farm near Ft Hood on many summer weekends.  My cousins would meet us  from their home in Houston.  My grandfather had this old bouncing swing on the front porch.  We would spend hours bouncing on the squeeky springs, while pushing it back and forth to produce great height.  The swing was an old seat from a truck.  We would hold onto the middle of the bottom of the seat, swinging the seat out over the edge of the porch. Our bodies would glide underneath...of course, you also learned when you let go to move out of the way before it plowed you over.
My grandfather trained horses and we all started riding at an early age.  The thrill of coming from the city to the farm will always be etched in my memory.

Another favorite at my grandfather's farm was the swing he hung from a beautiful sprawling oak.  Another recycled item, a metal seat from a tractor, spun from the branches by  two large chains.
I would enjoy this swing for years.  While swinging through the hot summer breeze, I would belt out my own melodies.  The breeze would flow through my hair as my imagination would take me to places I had never seen.  This swing would leave me a lifetime reminder of it's milestone as one of  my "happy places" with a chip on my front tooth.  My sister, in good sibling rivalry, would race me to the swing to see who would get it first.  I must have been ahead, because my sister pushed me into the edge of the metal tractor seat... it and my front tooth collided.  I can still rub my tongue across the chip that occurred so many years ago. Yes, I do need to get it filled... in so doing I may look better, but I will have removed part of my history.

The other joy was my cousins on my mother's side.  Mom had a younger, single brother who was at our mercy.  We would be sent into his room to wake him. (I can so understand that now that I have older sons.)  We would all attack him at once.  There were five of us on him, all girls, giggling and tickling him.  He was always such a source of laughter in my life.  He later would marry a woman by the name of Jeannette....there would be two of us in the family.  The Lord must have needed his laughter in heaven because he was taken home at an early age.  Like my Aunt Bet, both were single while I was little and they marked my life with precious memories before they left this earth.

At home was my sister and me.  The family story of this time of my life was the fact that I was blessed with a full head of hair when I was born, unlike my sister.  She would be bald for years.  My mother would make every effort possible to keep people from thinking she was a boy.  I guess I felt I should take after my grandmother, the beautician.  When my sister's hair had grown out enough for my mother to put it in a tiny little curl on the top of her head....well, if you are holding your breath, you have guessed.  I took a pair of those scissors that were plentiful around my sewing mother's house, and I proceeded to cut that curl right off her head!  Yes, my mother was horrified.  My sister and I have laughed through the years that I must have thought it looked silly.... who knows what I thought, but it has been a family tale ever since.

One of the few times we had snow in Austin, Texas....I remember making snow ice cream. 

As I read through my baby book, I saw that I had pink cakes for most of my early birthdays.  I was a true girl. This picture is me at age 4 - if the hair was cut differently and you put boys' clothes on me, you would see my four-year-old son now... oh my! The book says I loved to sing and dance at an early age.  Lessons and the love of the arts would follow me throughout my life.

I was also in a neighborhood with alot of girls...so between girl cousins and neighbors, I was raised in a girl- dominated world.  Our precious neighbors would become long time friends.  There was a family on one side with six kids and on the other side was five.  Between our three little houses, there would be 15 children!

Wow! too wordy I know...but this is my story!  To reflect back at His goodness is just amazing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Remembered and Renewed

Revisited, Remembered, Recommitted, Re-energized, Returned, Renewed Love......priceless!!!
*Thanks to our precious kids and daughter-in-law that help us celebrate our 30th.  Our daughter did a photo shoot for us....how much fun!  Our friends gave us the use of their condo  during our return to the places of our young love.

Connected to Wordless Wednesday and Alicia at A Beautiful Mess

Saturday, June 12, 2010

30 Years - I Would Still Say "I Do"

Below is the most  beautiful wedding song in the world, my husband the composer.  The words seem to hold more significance today than when they were so tenderly song by a life-long friend 30 years ago.

To My Knight in Shining Armor...I LOVE YOU and would say "I Do" all over again.

"Once in Every Life" by William G. Wright

Flowers lay on the ground, white lace adorns her gown.
Down thru the ages precious this time when love ones are gathered round.
Quietly vows are made,
Silently prayers are prayed,
Spirits united, living as one, now on the alter laid...

Once in every life, someone comes along and love begins.
Once in every life, dreamers make their dreams come true.
Passing down of life unending,
God's eternal plan for man.
Still the same through time descending,
Starts with just the holding of a hand...

After the last "I Do,"
Love will come shining through.
Hope for tomorrow,
Joy for today,
Life will begin anew.
Even as years will pass,
The flame kindled here will last.
God's perfect union, holy, devine, 
It's richness is unsurpassed...
Once in every life,
Dreamers make their dream come true.                                 

What is life without the living,
Daring to be someone new?
What is life without the giving?
Sharings only possible with two...

Once in every life 
Someone comes along and love begins
Through the joy and through the strife,
This love will last forever
Now as man and wife,
A bond no one can sever.
God's true love comes only                                                                    
Once in every life

Our 20th Anniversary in Hawaii.

The gift for a 30 year wedding anniversary is a pearl.  Knowing the pearl story makes the gift even more appropriate, because only through different struggles in a marriage can we enjoy the jewel it produces.

So this weekend we leave to go back to where our love ignited.

Hand in hand, strolling down over 30 years of memories will bring us back to younger years.  Gazing in each other's eyes with desire that has been tried and true will remind us of the foundation our love was built on.  Laughing at how things have changed, as well as us, will remind us how physically everything changes. Returning home, having recalled our vows and God's faithfulness, we will have rekindled our love and commitment to our marriage covenant.  An anniversary celebrated with each other will establish once again why I said, "I do".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Life Story - Birth

John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the U.S. president, Mickey Mantel signed a $75K major league baseball contract, the 23rd Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, Bob Dylan made his singing debut in New York City, the Bay of Pigs Invasion occurred, the American civil rights movement was in full swing, Six Flags over Texas opened, the Berlin Wall construction began and I, Janette Cunningham, was born into the world.

I am joining with Janna at Mommy's Piggy Tales to document the history of my life from birth to age 18. As I have gathered my pictures and stories I can truly see it is "His-story".

The year was 1961.

So here it goes.....and yes, my pictures will start out in black and white, because that was the medium for most pictures back in the 60's.

I am a first-born child.  My mother is Loetta Jane Ayers Cunningham and my father is Kenneth Jay Cunningham.  I was born on January 8, 1961, in Austin, Texas.  My full name is Janette Cunningham.
My parents did not give me a middle name.  My father claimed that they did not give me a middle name so I would use my maiden name as my middle name when I married.

Janette is pronounced Jeanette.  My mother's name is Jane, so my name is Little Jane!  Jane and Janette also mean "Grace".

My claim to fame is the fact I was born on Elvis Presley's Birthday!  This was the year of his movie, "Blue Hawaii" and hit song, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You".  Elvis had moved into what was called his irrelevant years, as soul music was making it's hit in popularity.

I was born right before my father graduated with his Civil Engineering Degree from The University of Texas.  So, I was raised a native Texan, as well as a Longhorn.

I am the first grandchild on my mother's side and the second on my father's side.

I was the fourth generation on both sides of the family, with three great-grandmothers still living.  I scared everyone by getting into my great-grandmother Powell's medicine bag and getting out her heart medicine.  So, along with eating half of a roach at my grandmother's house, I kept them all running.  My great-grandmothers, as well as my grandmothers, all lived into their 90's.  Strong countenance and long life is an inheritance I received from these wonderful women.

My life and my future husband's life would start crossing even before my birth. My parents lived within two blocks of my future husband's family before moving to the home where I was born. My mother worked in the same office with my future brother-in-law, while pregnant with me. 

During my early childhood, two of my aunts lived with us, creating a deep bond to both of these special ladies.  My Aunt Bet would take me for the weekend to my grandparent's farm.  One trip left me with a life-long souvenir when I hit the front dashboard of the car with the corner of my eye.  This became a special signature between my aunt and I through the remaining years of her life.  Throughout her life, she would be a constant encourager and mentor to me on marriage and parenthood. The Lord took her home to be with Him on the birthday of one of my six children.          

I wasn't an only child for long.  My sister was born 14 months later.  During my mother's busy days with two children under two, I established a special friendship with an older woman who lived across the street, whom we affectionately called "Nanny Bell".  I would wander over to her house by myself, so my handyman father had to construct a picket fence from throw away lumber to protect my wandering feet. I would return through the years to visit her after our move.

I would challenge my Dad's construction ability again by falling off the bed, (while mom was having my sister), and knocking out my front tooth.  My Dad then built me a small bed close to the floor for my safety.

During my early years, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and many of my future traits would reveal themselves at my grandmother's house.  The tip-toes would predict what I would do with my feet in later years.  God's precious hand can be traced from the beginning of my conception to my present day life....what an awesome gift this life is!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - No Cells

Joining Wordless Wednesday and A Beautiful Mess - No Cell Wall decor from Wall Words

Wonder why I might want this on my wall?  Technology!?!?!?!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Mother of My Precious Husband...She is 95!!!

Saturday we celebrated my Mother-in-Law's 95th Birthday.  A milestone many of us will never see.  As we gathered around to enjoy her life, I couldn't help but compare her walk on this earth with mine.   Appreciating the fact that God had given her to me as an example, not just a relative, shows that I too have grown in my walk on this earth.

She wouldn't win the most children award....she  had two children 13 years apart.  She didn't understand how full my arms could be while raising four under age 7, but she always encouraged with "don't work too hard."  She excitedly welcomed our announcement at ages 52 and 44 that we were having our sixth child.

She raised two children who have always walked with the Lord and set shining examples of Christ before their children and grandchildren.

She lived a debt-free life...yes, DEBT-FREE.  She and her husband paid cash for every purchase they made...even two houses, while living on one income.  He didn't possess a high paying job, nor did they inherit money, but they knew the value of being content.

Because of this debt-free life, they did and she still does help financially with her children and grandchildren.  The scripture talks about this kind of inheritance...I have seen it first hand.

She didn't home school.  

She didn't have home births....

yet, she supported me when I chose to do both with her grandchildren.  She did threaten to have an ambulance parked outside my house on our first home birth....and she was disappointed that none of our children played in the high school band.  She, however,  become one of my greatest supporters.

She never lived life with full-time stress, as has become the norm for most people today.  Simplicity was her mantra or maybe just pure contentment with nothing to prove to others....something can be learned from that.

She walked the journey of seeing her husband's face blown apart through an accident...standing by his side through numerous surgeries and then loving him tenderly through Alzheimer's disease.  I still remember him chasing her down the hall with a love pat and they were in their 80's.

She calls everyday and keeps up with everyone.  You can ask at anytime how her family is and she can tell you in great detail what is happening in each of their lives.  She also prays for us daily and will call with a Bible verse to encourage us in our Christian walk.
She has never missed one of her grandchildren's events, even though we moved four hours away 12 years ago. She will still make the journey to support and cheer every accomplishment.  Birthdays are still remembered and cherished, as each child receives their annual gift, arriving just on the day of their birth.

She is independent and has lived on her own since her husband's passing to glory 15 years ago.  He would be so proud of her.

She continues to walk out her faith.  She will still invite the newest neighbor to church, while attending herself.  Her large print Bible is continuously open and read.

Her world has been very different from mine (mine not necessarily better) but in the most valuable lessons in life, she has spoken well.  Her priorities are her God and her family.  The world never crept in and stolen from either of these priorities.

I salute my mother-in-law.  She has taught me more than I can read in a book just through the way she has chosen to live her life.  Isn't that the real answer....chosen?  I am sure my appreciation has only come through the many years of marriage, but I am glad I have learned.

This past Mother's Day, it was she who called to tell me what a wonderful mother I was and how proud she was of me..................and she loved me.  What more could I ask from my mother-in-law who set the example before me?
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