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, September 30, 2013

Blast from the Past

Do you remember these????

Well, as much as I would love to stay in the "pinch me-is-it-real" movie setting, I had to return to reality and work!  Now work can be fun, but much of what I am doing right now is exactly that... WORK!

God in His mercy knows how to extend grace in the midst of my labor.  My calendar was full upon arriving back home.  My hours would extend my physical and emotional body, but then there would be light at the end of the road, also.

By the second week of daily and night time work, I found myself starting to need a good vitamin B-12 shot, which I didn't get in the natural, but I got it when I walked into this house.

My oldest son is not only a custom home builder, he is also acquiring rental property. His voice just bounced on the phone awhile back, as he gleamed in excitement over his "killer deal" of a rental property.  So as the time came for the repairs and some updating to be finished, he called for me to "Simply Clean" his rental.  My body was dragging as I arrived at the house, which needed some TLC for the new occupants.  This clean had come at the end of an already long week.
Yes I can use Power Tools when cleaning!!

I walked in thinking my son had lost it when he expected me to make this place shine in one day, but then God just reached down with a giggle.

It was the most retro home I have been in in years.  Oh my!... the memories of my teen days just came flooding back as I walked from room to room.  The lights, the knobs, the colors....I felt I had been blasted back into the 70's.  I needed the "Oldies but Goodies" music station blaring through the intercom system.  Can't you just hear the Bee Gees?

Believe it or not, just laughing at all signs of the past while doing a deep cleaning, made my job much easier.

The laughter was the topping of the day when my son showed me a picture he had taken before they started to clean up.  It was a Burt Reynolds poster in the closet! This isn't it..the one he had was Burt baring his hairy chest, something that isn't desired with this generation of females...hair!   Girls...yes, girls had lived in this house.  The evidence was everywhere.  They had left behind their mark...and I am sure a few tears, as they had cleared out what had been their Dad's house.

I kept thinking how life moves on.  This house occupied by a family, the kids grew up and left, the Dad then left this earth, now it is owned by my son.......................life goes on,  as does my own.

After 11 hours of cleaning, the house was ready for the new family.  What tales will the walls tell as this young family comes to occupy it?  What will be left behind when they leave?  Will they enjoy the "blast from the past"?  To them it will be new, because "what was old is now new again."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Roads Ended in Rome

If you have followed me on this journey, you know I felt like I was in a movie.  Everything that happened was literally surreal.  I am still processing all that happened and all God did in my heart.

We ended our movie script with the final scene.  Our son and daughter-in-law sent us to enjoy Rome for a day.  Now to try to do Rome in a day...it just can't be done.  We tried.  Benjamin ran those little legs off and never once complained.  We started on foot at 11:00 am and returned to the hotel around eight.  We had done all we could in Italy.  Benjamin and Stephen were taken in by all that they saw.  We were all just speechless.

It had all started with the invitation.  I cried when it arrived, believing I would never get to go.  It ended when I picked up the sack I had not read at the wedding.  What can I say?  There was nothing left undone.  My son and daughter-in-law had sealed it with a kiss. They had honored us by having our names put on the sack.
  The tears of joy, the tears of inexplicable gratefulness just flowed as I read the sack...

To leave without using the phrase I have used in past blog posts when I felt God just reached down, placed His hand on us and I needed to applaud... well, here it is in the BIGGEST TEXAS ACCENT of PRAISE and APPLAUSE...


Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Heart Just Expanded as the "I Do's" Were Said

As I described this day to a friend, her mouth dropped in unbelief.  Her comment was, "well, that girl and your son didn't miss a beat did they."  She was so right. There wasn't a "t" left uncrossed or an "i" not dotted.  This mother's heart was blessed beyond her dreams.  The surreal movie continued.

We awoke to a rehearsal for the evening ceremonies, which would take place out on the veranda, overlooking the Tuscany Valley.  After rehearsal, we enjoyed a Tuscany Brunch out in the sun room.  Our daughter-in-law was wearing a rhinestone-studded shirt (that spelled out"BRIDE") for the day.  She had time to put the final details into the ceremony, then relax by the pool before going to her room to have her make-up and hair done by a local salon.

My first surprise started as I was informed I would need to leave the Villa to go into the city for my hair and make-up!  My daughter-in-law had arranged for her mother, her sister and me to enjoy this wonderful wedding luxury.  Along with the thrill of having someone pamper me for the morning, she also told us two photographers would be following along.  There was a team of photographers for the entire wedding day.  Their main photographer had brought a group to Italy for photo shoots and had arranged for them to come to the wedding to do photo shoots before returning the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

So the two moms and one sister got to giggling as we were driven into town, with a car following us with photographers.  The salon was just wonderful. The photographers took our pictures from beginning to end. They were having fun as they treated us like models.  We laughed as they continued to pose us and flash pictures.  The Italian stylist just played right along with the whole event.  What a joy! How exciting!  What a memory maker, as these two women, with combined 10 children between us, were swept away into this ultra-pampered world.

We returned to the Villa ready for the event of the evening.  We both jostled about, trying to not sweat or go to the pool, but we would need to treat ourselves as China Dolls to keep our makeup and hair fresh and ready.

The afternoon passed quickly as we all watched for details that needed to be finished.  I checked the decor for the wedding...as my daughter-in-law had asked me to be her second pair of eyes.  My son rushed around to check behind me to make sure everything was perfect for his Bride.

The sun began to set.  My camera was put down for the day as the photographers took every picture you can imagine.  There are even tons of just Benjamin and me, posed at different places in the Villa...and no, I haven't seen them yet.  I watched as my sons all got dressed.  I pinned the sunflowers on each of their shirts and lastly, the one on the groom's lapel.  A kiss on his cheek couldn't say all my heart wanted to say.

The Bride's Dad told me to go to the room where his daughter was...she would want me to join them.  As a mother-of-the-groom you never know what is your part.  Unless the new daughter-in-law leads the way, you wait cautiously, so as not to step on anyone's toes.  She opened her arms for me to be apart of all that was going on.  The photographers caught each moment.  She asked if I wanted to put on her garter... I DID!!  The cameras clicked.  She picked up the necklace she was to wear and turned to ask if I wanted to place it around her neck?  I DID!  The cameras continued clicking.  They clicked for all the mother-daughter pictures as well, as I enjoyed the exchange between the two.  She had included us both!!!!!!!!!!  We both were taken in the moments.

I returned to the room with my son, all his brothers, my hubby and the groom's new father-in-law.  All the males were ready to go.  Before the door was opened, I stopped them.  Before allowing him to start toward the ceremony, we all gathered around him to pray.  His father-in-law listened in with total agreement.  The Wright family did what the Wright family does....pray!  We haven't done everything right. We have missed it more times than not, but in the end, we still bow our heads in prayer.

Our son asked his Dad to DANCE... yes, DANCE with him down the aisle, and that's what they did.  There weren't attendants, but each parent had their part.  The mothers would light the candles that would glow in a spiral around the Bride and Groom.  Both Fathers would bring in their children...the Bride and Groom to the center of the spiral.  The mothers would enter the ceremony again by lighting the candle for their child as each child (the Bride and Groom) lit the unity candle.

Each guest's chair had a sack on the chair with a picture of the guest. Inside the sack was a candle for the ceremony, a pamphlet telling about the ceremony and a wooden balsa-wood plane that would be used when the Bride and Groom left.  I saw the sack... I didn't read the sack.  The script on the sack would leave the final stamp of "excellence of honor" for the parents, which I would discover while in Rome the following day.

The ceremony was followed by appetizers in the manicured gardens around the Villa.  The wedding dinner was served out back on the veranda, with it's breathtaking sunset view of the Tuscany Valley.  Following the dinner was the cake cutting and dance for the evening.

The DANCE!!!  My son and I had picked this song. If you have time listen, if not, just visualize a son and mother dancing.  He instructed me "Don't cry!"  Well, you can just forget that.  There I was dancing with my son...the one I would dance around the house with as a child, and hadn't danced with in years, and this mother whose heart was so full....................the tears just fell.  He looked me in my eyes and said, "Mother, all of this is a gift from Katie and me.  Please don't tell me you are paying me back.  It is a gift."  The tears just came streaming down as I received the gift.  Yes, the gift came from my heavenly Father, but it came through the hands of my son and daughter-in-law.  I held on to my son as I we danced with ongoing conversation.  If there were others in the room, I didn't notice them. Just like the time I held him in my arms for the first time...it was just us two. He had given me the most precious gift...HIMSELF.  He had honored his mother with excellence.  They both had carved a place in my heart so deep that, for years, I will be telling the story.

The last bow would be tied on the following day.  For this day, it ended with Benjamin and I retiring early, while the wedding party celebrated into the morning hours.                                                                                      My head hit the pillow in complete joy!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Stories the Cobble Stones Could Tell

Our son had prepared another breathtaking day for us to breath in.  The Bride and Groom went on to Siena, Italy for pictures, while another group of us piled onto a bus for Florence.  We would have only six hours to discover and explore the Birthplace of the Renaissance.  For this history buff, there just wasn't going to be enough time to take it all in...note to self...I AM coming back.

What could these cobblestones tells us?  The footprints of Michelangelo, Dante, Donatello, Leonardo DaVinci... this post can't contain the all the names and events that lived and occurred in this City of Florence.

We tried as hard as we could to pack our day full.  Benjamin and Stephen led the way through the streets of history.  We headed toward Michelangelo's Statue of David.  Once there, Benjamin stood frozen and wouldn't move as he studied the muscles and detail of David and Stephen marveled at the artistry from one piece of stone.  My many art lessons for my children through 25 years of home schooling flooded my mind.  The fact that all beautiful things point to my Creator dominated my thoughts.

After being mesmorized by the timeless statues, we walked (still stunned) into the Duomo, the largest domed cathederal in the renaissance world. Truly, this century produced some of the most amazing architecture and craftsmanship the world has ever seen.  Your physical senses just can't wrap around all that you are seeing.

As we loaded up the bus at the end of the day, I was still reeling like I was in a dream.  On our return trip through Tuscany to the Villa, our minds shifted from the sights and sounds of Florence to the event that had provided such a dream adventure...the rehearsal dinner for our son and his fiance' that was being prepared.

We entered the Villa, dressed for dinner and prepared to honor our son.  Hubby had prepared a wonderful, "Our son is just great!" speech, as well as ending with the strength his new wife would add to his life.  They were both "STARS".

What a joy it was to be able to stand before others and be your child's Biggest Cheerleader.  One guest asked me before "Proud Papa" spoke... "are you going to cry?"  I, matter-of-factly said, "No!, I have done my tears in advance."  I was wrong.  The tears weld up in my eyes for more reasons than I can explain.  You look up and think, "where did the time go?"

Our magical movie fantasy would continue with more "pinch me moments" that I could have never imagined.  Just wait, you will hear how my son and daughter-in-law continued to floor us throughout this surreal, Italian adventure.  I kept thinking "it can't get much better"... and yet it did!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Poggibonsi, Greve, Vinyard and Dive Dining - Oh My!

The movie script would continue to unfold with the rising of the sun on Friday morning.  Anxious to not miss any opportunity, we bounced out of bed to discover Poggibonsi before our planned itinerary for the day.

The three of us strolled down the hill into the city of Poggibonsi (pronounced Pojji Bonsi).  Everywhere you look, there is history and beauty.  We walked through a vineyard and olive trees.  All the scriptures I know by heart concerning the vineyards and olive plants just flowed through my thoughts.  The Roman Civilization history I taught my children for so many years seemed to remind me that each stone I walked on was prepared so God could send His son into this Civilization for us. I started to grasp at a different level the scriptures and history I have enjoyed through the years.

We hurried back to aboard a large, custom touring bus with the rest of the wedding guests.  The two moms overlooked the arrivals as the young adults filled up the seats.  All were yelling, "is everyone here?"  Both moms noticed that their "firstborns" weren't on board.  Her firstborn is a doctor and mine, a business owner.  They walked onto the bus as if to say, "we are older than all of you... and married!  We will get here when we want to get here!"  My daughter-in-law's mother has a joyous and contagious laugh and she looked across at me with the comment, "we are always a mom."

  • First Stop - The Castle of Monteriggioni

Fortified walls!  WOW!  We walked along the top of the walls looking out over the countryside.  I thought of Masada, Jericho...so many fortified cities mentioned throughout all of history.  We were now standing on the top of the walls' lookout, while also looking down into the tiny, yet beautiful city within.

  • Second stop would be two small cities in the state of Tuscany
The local butcher shop, the statues in the courtyard, the tunnels... made you feel like you had just entered a time machine.  You couldn't believe it was 2013 and yet it seemed you had stepped back in time.  So peaceful and charming.  Our guide would walk with us and just share life while telling us interesting tidbits. He shared that 65% of all tourists to this area are Americans.  On the bus he mentions all the movies made here.  I knew many of them...one I especially enjoyed was Letters to Juliet.

  • Our final stop was at an Organic Vineyard and Farm
  •  The owner shared about his life and passion.  He taught us on wines and his prized Balsamic Vinegar.  We toured the barrel rooms, where he stores both the wine and the vinegar.  The Balsamic Vinegar had been aging for 30 years.  He also shared his passion for the essential oils he produces on his farm.
  • My passions were stirred with the gardens, balsamic vinegar and essential oils.
  • We were able to see over 75% of the Tuscany Valley from this vantage point
  • We entered into his little house for an evening meal.  Here, he would teach us through each course...  The organic garlic, the fresh vegetables, the homemade pasta, the wine and vinegar.
  • We finished the meal with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with 30-year-old Balsamic Vinegar... unreal!!
  • The man's passion and way of life was expressed so elegantly, leaving me desiring the same

Our second day ended.  Truly our dreams were being played out in this script, as we rested peacefully under the open windows of the cool, Poggibonsi night air.
Day Three - Florence....please someone pinch me...this is just too surreal!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Act One - Am I Dreaming?

Eighteen hours from the time our feet left American soil, we drove through the gates of the Villa San Lucchese, in Poggibonzi.  I wouldn't attribute the feeling to sleep deprivation, as I now know the meaning behind "pinch me so I know this is real.", which pulsed through my mind.  The surreal reality made me feel as if I had strolled onto a movie set.  All the movies I have seen through the years of Italy flashed before my eyes.  I was truly an extra in a movie produced by my maker with His hand-picked directors, my son and his bride.

Benjamin and Bill's excitement would express itself throughout our adventure through constant talking.  They both began to chatter.  Stephen and I became very quiet and introspective.  The groom's (our son's) excitement just warmed my heart as he strolled us through the 15th century villa and it's manicured grounds. You could almost hear him say, "Did I do good?"  When did my little boy become such a man...
"please pinch me."

We arrived in our room to the second sign of excellence.  They had prepared an itinerary with little medical bags on our desk.  The itinerary letter was sealed with red wax and the initial W!  They reminded all their guests that the purpose of Italy was to enjoy the relaxed nature of their culture.  We were to all put behind the "rat race" of our life for this short time.

One hour from our arrival was the Meet and Greet reception for all the guests.  We assembled out on the veranda, which was dressed with white and gold table cloths overflowing with anti-pasta dishes, pizza and a wine tasting lesson.  The sun slowly descended into the Tuscany hills as we visited with each other. Both sets of parents enjoyed getting to know each other as the four of us looked over the young people who had come to celebrate with our children.

Both my son and daughter-in-law are people persons, as well as very successful sales representatives.  Their desire to make everyone feel welcome led them to play a game with their guests.  We were each given a sheet of paper with about 30 one-line sentences in which we were to guess who the person described in the sentence might be.  I immediately guessed my husband and three sons' descriptions.  With the help of all four of the parents, we also filled in several other slots...but many were left empty.
No, the Fathers didn't plan to match!  

I didn't see myself on the sheet.  I had no clue!  That was fine...I was here to enjoy.

As they led their guests through the guessing game while elaborating on each description, we all became a unified group.  Laughter does bring hearts together.  The list made its way to the bottom.  There was one description that was guessed by everyone to be our oldest son.....

Given a box of matches, baseball cards and a blender____________ can construct a house.

Allen and Katie corrected everyone with, "that's Janette, that's Mom!"  To which I shockingly replied with a giggle, "That's ME?"  In the sweet words I could hear them both say, "YES, because you are the most resourceful woman we know!"  My daughter-in-law's dad turned and said, "that is a compliment!"  It was exactly that.  They had described me on their wedding blog as "The Woman McGyver"...I wasn't sure what it meant until that evening... I think I started to glow!

Don't we always wonder what our grown children think of us?  Well, now I know what at least one of my six thinks.  My heart said a "thank you, Lord." right then....what a precious beginning to the movie that God had placed me in.  I was an extra.  I was there to just enjoy and take part in a loving script that my Heavenly Father had written, while allowing my son and bride to direct.  The sun lowered. The Poggibonsi/ Tuscany Valley showed off its beauty.  A Texas mother laid her head down in awe.  It was just the beginning...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Roadblocks to Rome

This is a story of an unbelieving mother and her son who has never taken "No" for an answer.  This is also a story of how our God loves on His own, non-desiring children.  This is a story of joy packed in the middle of tremendous struggles.

Our second-born son Allen has never met a challenge that he didn't conquer by going over the top in achievements.  All you have to do is set a goal before him and he starts to run.  From a young age, he topped out every challenge he was given.  From Awana to sports to music to business achievements, there hasn't been a mountain he couldn't climb with a triumphant victory.

As mentioned in past post, I can see the enemy before me and many times forget the army behind me.

After my son's over-the-top engagement mentioned in my post http://janettessage.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-chihuly-day.html, last August the roadblocks became too hard to overcome in my head.  When he announced the wedding would be in Italy, I guarded my heart by resolving that I wouldn't see the wedding...  HE announced I would be there.  I promised to lose weight, which was just as big of hurdle as the trip would be.

Roadblocks to Rome

Son sent money for passports.  We were rejected twice and the process took double the amount of time it should have.  I continued to guard my heart with the anticipation of not going to the wedding.

He called, inviting ONLY the parents to join them at the courthouse.  Because the wedding would be officiated in another country, they would need to be "legally" married in the states as well.
Both sets of parents were giddy as we arrived at the Dallas Courthouse to see our children joined in marriage.  I felt so HONORED that they had allowed us to witness this event.  The icing on the cake was when both sets of parents, with 71 years combined in marriage, signed their marriage license.
I resolved at that time before the Lord that this was enough.  If I didn't get to Italy, I had been blessed to see the exchange of vows.
Our God is a Big God and He wasn't finished yet.

As the months of unemployment carried on longer and longer, so did my disbelief. Yes, God could take care of us and provide through the unemployment for our needs, but this trip wasn't a need.  Even up to the week before, I still didn't believe that I would see my son get married in Italy.

Ps. 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Oh, what little faith.  Oh, what a loving God. Oh, what a faithful son who was going to fulfill his promise to his mother.  Oh, the answers of so many friends' prayers.  This was to be a lesson to me on how God truly moves the roadblocks, even when we don't even have the faith of a mustard seed.

The story will continue...

Ephesians 3:20-21

New International Version (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Word - HONOR

Italy Bound!!

Our feet have touched American soil again. If you didn't hear me shout more than once over the last week, well here it is in bloggy volume...
               Big God!!!  

The next week or more will be covering this dream, movie-like trip and wedding in Italy.
I am still processing...
I am still in awe!
I am still hearing Bible verse after Bible verse in my head.

Bride and Groom...and friends and family...yes, our son is the one on his belly and our daughter-in-law in yellow.  A picture after a day tour of the Tuscany valley.

The key word for the four days we spent in Italy with our son and daughter-in-law was
The heart of the whole event was a mark of honor...
Honoring their parents, family and friends.

After I recover from jet lag, I will try to put some of it into words.
Others' special words from the Lord over the whole event will be held and pondered in my heart.
It was truly a magical, miraculous milestone in my and my family's life.

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