Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Four Gifts of Wisdom!

 Kicking off the Christmas Season, I had the wonderful pleasure of attending a Christmas brunch with my son's girlfriend Heather, and her mom Marie.  What made it even more special was that my sweet, beautiful daughter, Jenna went too!
The room was incredibly decorated...every table had a different holiday theme.  Each hostess gave a great deal of thought to the table presentation they created for their guests.  The table I sat at had a "girly" dress-up theme--very clever...complete with "girl talk" coffee cups to boot! Some table themes were red, glitter and gold, some had wonderful Nativities, Santa, Reindeer, even an animal print!  The gathering of women was as eclectic as the table themes--young, middle-aged, older.  A true festive holiday spirit filled the air!

The coffee was delicious and the buffet food served was excellent...but the best was yet to come.  After an hour of visiting the decorated tables, and eating a wonderful meal (served by the men of the church BTW--impressive!) a high-energy, Christian speaker took the stage.  Her name--Jan Silvious.  

You know, it is times like these that I know God hears my prayers.  I know He is listening to me, because her pearls of wisdom spoke to the many challenges I have faced, prayed about and experienced...especially in the past year.  I can't help but think her words were a gift for many of the women in the room!

To me her words spoke to the change or "life" that happens to all of us--the good, the bad and the ugly!  

I would like to share the four "gifts" she gave each woman in the room!  

  • When something happens that truly hurts us, is unfair or upsets us, remember this is ONE event in a LIFETIME of events, we will move on, we need to move forward! 
  • What might have been doesn’t exist, so don’t EVEN go there!
  • The last chapter of your life is not written YET!
  •  There IS a God, and you're NOT Him! 
Just wanted to share!

Preparing the way the Lord!  Being still and listening...

Psalm 46:10 


I Lasso Understanding, Patience, Faith, Hope!




Thursday, December 2, 2010

How are You Spreading Christmas Cheer?

 According to Buddy from the movie "Elf", he feels, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!"   I have to admit, I am one of those people who listens to Christmas music throughout the year.  I find Christmas carols trigger a happy memory, or put me in a good mood.

Mother Teresa says, "It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you . . . yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”


Buddy the Elf isn't far off when he says, "...smiling is my favorite!"  


I Lasso a great, big, cheerful smile!






How are you spreading Christmas cheer?  
I know that I need to work harder on spreading Christmas cheer.  
As I prepare my heart during this season of Advent, I am going to try harder to look beyond myself, and look for ways I can be a gift to help others!

 







Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tradition



Whenever I think of family traditions, this song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof - "Tradition" runs through my head!

When Joe and I met in Dallas over 26 years ago, we were Texas transplants.  Both of us had recently relocated to the metroplex.  We both were living far from any family.  I have four brothers and one sister plus my folks--all in five different states.  Joe's parents and brother were on opposite ends of the US-- New York and California.  So when we had our first baby...our daughter, Sara, it became crystal clear that holidays for us were going to be different.  Spending the holidays with family was not a reality for us.  Sunday dinners with the folks was not going to be a part of our world as a family.  As our first Christmas with Sara approached I clearly remember talking to Greg, a co-worker of mine, about missing family during the holidays...I just didn't know what the Gautille Christmas was going to look like in our home.  He too lived far from family and said he and his wife started their own "traditions" (yes...when I hear that word, I hear the dairyman,Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing TRADITION).

Greg  mentioned going to a Christmas tree farm and chopping down their annual evergreen became part of their Christmas ritual

...And so it began for the Gautille household too--incorporating the old fashion tradition of choppin' the tree down and strapping it to the roof of our mini van!  Now, 25 years later, it is a beloved TRADITION!  Over the years we have refined the tradition...we now go on search of the perfect pine the Friday after Thanksgiving--intentionally dodging the madness of shoppers on Black Friday.  This also allows us to secure a good tree.  Oh...my bad...did I mention that the trees are not the magnificent, full, fresh cut New England pine trees.


The trees aren't quite as bad as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, they are more along the line of a tree drawing from a Dr. Seuss story.  We have had Christmas trees that had an 'S' shaped or worse, a zigzag trunk.  We have had the most beautiful trees that were completely bare on one side--but against the right wall the tree was perfect!  We have been known to tie our tree to the banister in order to keep it in the tree stand and not fall over...

So you may ask,  why would we drive an hour and a half each way, and pay money for an ugly Christmas tree that we strap to the roof of our car and haul it back home?  Tradition!  Because if truth be told...this IS a Christmas gift!

Because for one day we slow down from the chaos in our lives, we all load into the SUV--even the dogs, and we spend the next hour and a half singing Christmas carols, talking, reminiscing about Christmas' past, being a family. And following our adventure at the tree farm--which includes: going on a hayride, trying valiantly to chop our perfect tree with saws that are awful, eating delicious Christmas cookies and yummy brownies, drinking apple cider, taking picture--lots of pictures.  Then we load into our SUV again with our fresh evergreen firmly strapped to the top of the car and head home...singing, laughing, reminiscing...just being.
Tradition!
I believe traditions are the very fabric of a family!

 PICTURES FROM THE PAST FEW YEARS

The Walls Family Christmas Tree Farm

Ducati doesn't want to miss anything!




My beautiful daughters Sara & Jenna

Joe securing the tree to the car

Moose and Ellie are pooped out!







Ryan & Sara Corl with Moose and Baby Corl!




Ryan, Jenna, Adam, Heather and Sara


Adam, Joe and Ryan

Me and Ellie

We are missing Jenna in this picture!  Great day!

I Lasso the traditions we began with our family!

Monday, November 22, 2010

How do You Really Lay Down Your Life for the Brethren?

We know love by this that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. ~ 1 John 3:16
                                                                             

In trying to understand what this means, I found this and wanted to share it.

Dying to Self
When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely provoked and you don’t sting and dwell on the hurt, the insult or the oversight, but your heart is at peace, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ
THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When your good is spoken of as evil, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, when you reach out and the door is closed in your face and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patience and with love
– THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any unpunctuality, any interruption or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with folly, wastefulness, spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured
–THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any people, any clothing, any shelter
THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good words and when you can truly love to be unknown
THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and you honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances
 – THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

When you can receive correction, reproof, encouragement, advice or exhortation from “one of less stature than yourself “and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart
 – THAT IS DYING TO SELF. 

Dear Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bring me to a place of humility before the cross so that I willingly die to myself in order that I may live in, with and through you alone. Amen.


I Lasso the opportunity to die to myself!

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Lord, thank you for life; we live as your Church, in faith and hope.

Lord, thank you for love; we love in our families, in work and in play.


I am thankful for my entire family!

Lord, thank you for prayer:  we pray in our joy and our sorrow, in laughter and silence,

Lord, thank you for this world:  we delight in rainbows and skyscrapers, sand dunes and icicles, friendship and music.

Lord, thank you, Amen.


I Lasso gratefulness and thankfulness of my life!


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Forgotten Holiday

Trick or Treat is over. The costumes, cobwebs and candy aisles in supermarkets are now on clearance.  This Sunday we turned our clocks back.  It seems to me that the minute Labor Day has come and gone--the focus on the holidays is all around us.  Once jack-o-lanterns have spoiled and are thrown out, this usually (unfortunately) means out with Autumn, too!  The end of Halloween seems to signal the fierce onslaught of Christmas carol jingles, glitz of Christmas decor not to forget the timeless Santa, Rudolph and Frosty images hitting the airwaves of radio, and TV, and in every aspect of the retail world around us.  And alias--the Christmas Commercialism begins to barrage us.

I was born the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so naturally, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving.  However, I have been guilty of the familiar hustle and bustle of the Yuletide that seems to push right past the month of November, going from October straight into December...this year, I really want to try to savor Thanksgiving.  I, for one have so much to be thankful!

Having a place to go is Home.
Having someone to love is Family.
Having both is a Blessing! 




I Lasso the opportunity to stop and enjoy November!  
Happy Autumn!  
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Praise You in This Storm



video

Last Tuesday, I resigned from a job I absolutely loved, stressed over, prayed about and truly poured my heart and soul into the work that I did. 


I am experiencing mourning, anger, resentment...but as I try to stay above the fray, as I try to make sense of what happened, as I try to walk with Christ, I feel I am in the midst of a storm--God has another incredible plan for me.


Praise You in This Storm
by Casting Crowns

Chorus:
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

 
A dear friend recently said that I need to greet the unknown with joy and faith. She is so right!



Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Now I am looking for the beautiful rainbow that follows the storm!
I hope it shows up soon!  
God is good all of the time!




I Lasso a beautiful rainbow!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Retro can be so Cool!

I think most of America is experiencing beautiful fall weather!  I know we are in Dallas, Texas!  Sunday in Dallas was truly a "top-down" day!  Yesterday as Joe and I were cruising around in my husband's Ensign Mobile-- a.k.a. 1970 Cougar convertible, Joe reached in his box of music...pulled out Led Zeppelin-- 8 TRACK TAPE! 




I am pretty sure my husband and I were the only people in the Metroplex listening to an 8 TRACK TAPE of Stairway to Heaven yesterday--and truly loving it...ah, the simple pleasures in life!


I Lasso the time I spend with my sweet husband in the Cougar!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Greatest Mark We Can Make!






Every person under the stars can make a difference!  The greatest difference we can make is showing who God is.  

"Here's what it comes down to:  God is love, so by default, if our purpose on this planet is to show who God is, we are born to love.  That's how we make our mark.  We make our mark when we,
..walk the floor all night with a crying baby,

..resist snubbing someone we feel deserves it, 

..reveal our own insecurities to a friend who thinks we're always strong, 

..give gratitude to people who've helped us, 

..or go out of our way to encourage a disheartened friend."  
 
 ~ From Dr. Leslie Parrott, 
Author of the book You Matter More Than You Think



The greatest mark I can make is showing who God is through my actions...showing love and grace especially  in the midst of a storm.


I Lasso showing love & grace!






Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Season for a Reason

I am blessed to believe in an amazing God!  

Every now and then I get knocked off my feet by the twists and turns of life.  I know it is my responsibility to react in the spirit of Christ.  It's not always easy.   But I trust in my BIG God -- that I will grow stronger in my faith as a result of it.  

 

 In the meantime I will take comfort in the words Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh: 


“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, ...and smarter than you think."

Amen! 

         I Lasso Winnie the Pooh wisdom!!




Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Joyful Life with Dogs!

The day I met this sweet puppy Ellie shortly after she opened her eyes!


In a little over a week my Australian Shepherd puppy Ellie will turn one!  I have had great joy anticipating her arrival, she came just in time for Christmas! I have delighted in her puppyhood, most of the time!



Ellie in action at 8 weeks old
Moses, Ellie, Jake at 9 weeks old!

Through this past year I have realized how much Ellie has been an escape for me.  Whether I come through the doors of my home ignoring the sweet wet tongue that greets me...or if I cross the threshold of my home in a good mood, bad mood--she is always so happy to see me!  This is also true for our old soul Aussie, Pirate and Adam's dog, Ducati!

Today Ellie and two of her siblings and another pup will be celebrating  their birthdays together!

I have an Aussie calendar that has wonderful quotes about being a dog lover.  There is one particular quote that was posted on the month of July--and actually one of Ellie's siblings' owner has it as her signature--the author of the quote is unknown...but I love it and want to share it with all of the dog lovers!

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours faithful and true to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion!
Ellie's registered name is Chase Lassos the Moon--Chase is the name of the wonderful kennel she came from, she was part of the New Moon Litter...so I put moon in her registered name.  One of my very favorite movies is It's a Wonderful Life...
I Lasso wishing a BIG Happy Birthday to the New Moon Litter!



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Generosity

Hello "People of the Page"  (Anne Rice uses this expression on her Facebook wall), I think it's clever!

I have looked at the word "generosity"  in many different ways...people being generous with their time in helping someone, an individual giving money to a worthy cause...but in the last month, the word "generosity" has taken on a new meaning for me.

I have worked for a nonprofit for just shy of 4 years.  The nonprofit is a Christian social service agency.  Since the downturn of the economy in the fall of 2008, we have not only faced soft donations--we have also seen the demand for our services--(rent, utilities, food) has risen exponentially.

My job at this ministry is to promote awareness and to fund-raise.  Because my job requires me to be out in the community, I don't often have the opportunity to interact with the people we serve.  However, I have been blessed with many God moments.  Moments when I know that God has His hand on the angels we serve, and on those who serve them. The past three weeks have been especially challenging emotionally for me.  As I was coming and going from our office building to and from appointments, I encountered several sweet people--we call angels, who came to us for help.  


 My first encounter was a woman in her mid-sixties, casually dressed, well groomed, but had tears in her eyes.  She was trying to get into our food pantry.  As I passed by I stopped to ask if I could help her.  She said she had no food, it was the weekend, and she was very hungry.  I told her that our pantry was closed, but took her into our building before we closed for the weekend and made sure she received emergency food for the weekend, and an appointment to see a caseworker so we could find out the other ways she may need to be helped.  


When I saw her, I saw my mom.  I looked into her eyes and wondered how she got to this place of desperation.  I have learned through my years here that everyone has a story.


The following week I ran into a young couple who didn't seem to know where they were going.  I asked how I could help direct them on our campus...the wife said that the family was facing eviction.  I led them into the building and told them the protocol for receiving services.  I left the couple in the lobby of our ministry, in the hands of our awesome staff who would shepherd them through the (at times) daunting process of paperwork and documentation needed in order to receive services.

Later in the week I received a call from a business associate, who told me there was a young woman in need of help and asked that I call her and try to get her in to see a caseworker.  

When I called this young woman, through an exhausted, tearful sob she explained to me that she was 21 years old.  Her mother died many years ago, and that her father had just died.  She is now the guardian of her 16 year old sister, who has a baby and a toddler.  There was no money, no life insurance left to them following her father's death.  Taking a deep breath, I asked for her name, address and phone number.  I told her I would be in prayer for her and that someone from our ministry would be back in touch with her.   I hung up the phone and prayed.  Having children who are in their early 20's, I couldn't begin to imagine the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, responsibility, not to mention grief this young girl was experiencing.  A caseworker called her immediately and reached out to her for not only financial, but (more importantly) spiritual help--because that's our ministry...we look at the person holistically.


The angel I met this week truly cut to the very core of my heart.  

I was on my way out to a lunch meeting.  As I was descending the stairs, we met.  The administrative offices are on the second floor of our building so I assumed she was in the wrong part of the building. I stopped and asked her if she had been helped.  She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I have no where to go...my mom dropped me off and said I am on my own because I'm 18...I just don't know what I'm going to do!"  In crass terms that another social service agency frequently uses to describe an adult "child:" who has been "dumped" they call "a throw away".  My heart sank as I put my arm around her and took her to our front office to be helped.  


I lift up in prayer these and all of the families that come to us in need asking for God to bring comfort, hope, peace to those in great need.  And I ask Him to guide us in our ministry to the poor.  


What I have come to realize is that generosity is not giving something you have...BUT rather giving someone something she needs.


No matter where your heart is in terms of giving, if you can, please give generously.  Nonprofits are struggling--nonprofits are filling a vital need in society.  Nonprofits are trying to make a difference.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world!"


I Lasso making a difference in the world!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

There's No Place Like Home!

I have lived in the south for nearly 30 years.  Three years in Pensacola, Florida and then 26 years in Dallas.  Dallas is home.  Dallas is where I met the love of my life.  Dallas is the place I gave birth to our three children.  Dallas is the location of many memories Joe and I have created for our children and each other.


But after spending the weekend in  my hometown of Sewickley, Pennsylvania I found my heart to be so joyful.  Stepping back into a town that I experienced as a child, was like slipping on my favorite pair of well worn, broken in shoes--extremely comfortable, like my own skin.  

I spent the weekend with a friend from Dallas, who also grew up in Pittsburgh.  While I am ten years her senior, we seemed to have very similar experiences growing up in Pittsburgh.  And attending the same college, Clarion University.  It was Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion, and Clarion U's homecoming!  The leaves are turning to the beautiful hue of the fall...the rolling hills and the sweet fall weather made for a fabulous time at my alma mater.






I had the good fortune to stay with a long time, dear, dear elementary school friend who truly put the "H" in hospitality!  A friendship that has stood the test of time!






Best of all, I had the distinct pleasure of reconnecting with my cousins, whom I have not seen in ten years.  They welcomed me with so much warmth.  I traveled to Pittsburgh to join my cousins in a 5K walk for the Alzheimer's Association.  My mother and their mother (sisters) both had Alzheimer's and have since passed away.  In honor of our moms we raised money and walked through the Pittsburgh Zoo.  I am so happy that I made the trip, just to reunite with these great people--who happen to be Pittsburghers! 




Going from activity to activity this weekend, the sound of Pittsburgheze was such a welcome friend...
  • Red up a room (when you are cleaning up a room)
  • Gumbands (for rubber bands)
  • Sweeper (instead of vacuum)
When it came to eating...
  • Do you want a chipped ham sandwich
  • A Primanti Brothers Burger (with french fries and cole slaw all in one sandwich)
  • Pop (for soda or Coke)
There were phrases my parents, who were also born and raised in Pittsburgh, did not really allow us to use--but none the less is part of the very fabric of our Pittsburgh culture:
  • Yinz Guys (for you guys)...I personally never said this...but you hear it all of the time! :)
  • Jeet Jet?  No did Jou?  (Did you eat yet?  No did you?)
  • Also, Pittsburghers typically drop the verb to be:  My car needs washed.  Instead of My car needs to be washed.
The best part of being home was the warmth of the people in Pittsburgh!  

 
Sitting in Heinz Stadium--in great seats, surrounded by season ticket holders...everyone around Melanie and me took us under their wing to share the traditions and protocol of being a true, die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan...


FIRST RULE:
  • Everyone made sure we met everyone that was around us...front, back, beside us
  • I heard men yell at anyone who forgot to take their hat off at the beginning of The Star Spangled Banner
  • Never ever, ever drop your Terrible Towel on the ground
  • Silence when Steelers have the ball
  • High fives and fist bump following a great Steelers play
  • "Ah, come on..." when there was a bad call from the referee (or a touchdown from the other team)
These sounds, expressions and acts of kindness took me back in time!  Brought happiness to my soul!  Made me realize just how incredibly blessed I have been to grow up in a warm town with good people.

So I Lasso the 'Burgh in me with joy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

pur·pose

 I know throughout my life I have searched through prayer, through activities, through successes, through failures for my purpose in life.  I have found purpose as a wife, friend and mother.  I continue to be a wife.  I continue to nurture friendships.  But now that the kids have grown and are sort of on their own, I reflect and try to recalculate where I am going, how I contribute to those around me.

So what exactly does purpose mean--Webster defines it as:

 pur·pose 

–noun

  • the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.

  • an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

  • determination; resoluteness.

 So, here I am--in a different, new season of my life trying to determine or hear God's plan for me.  

Psalm 46:10 

~ Be still, and know that I am God.

We are asked to carry our cross.  Does this mean that we are to rise above all things, rise above the conflict that surrounds us, rise above joy that is missing, the frustration that presents itself daily?  Am I not carrying my cross if I choose a path of least resistance? 

I struggle with purpose right now.  While I firmly believe that life is a blessing. Life is good. Life can be lived as long as it is a gift, an offering to the world.  I am truly examining my need to ask myself about how effective can I be if there is so much resistance and conflict all of the time.  What lessons are there to learn?   What do I have control over?  What can I influence or change.  I understand that we can't change people.  When it comes to family, I love unconditionally--and this is not always a "cake walk" but I also know I am "no day at the beach" either.  But whether at home or at work or with friendships can anyone truly influence a different response with a different approach toward individuals?

I have often thought...when something is more work than it's worth, is it time to move on.  Move on in relationships, friendships, careers.  Or is this part of the cross God has given me to work through, to have purpose, to make a difference?

I just don't know.  

I Lasso new seasons in my life!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Carry Your Heart With Me!

When I was young girl, the holidays were always an amazing, almost magical time for me.  The precursor to the holiday season seemed to be when my mom took her "half dozen" to Sears or JCPenney for back to school shopping.  In the northeast, (Sewickley, Pennsylvania to be exact) the school year always started right after Labor Day.  

As the summer would come to a close, and the seasons began to change from summer to fall, I have always thought during the early fall, Sewickley reached a peak of natural beauty.  As the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania approach the month of October, the autumn sun always worked her magic on the leaves.  The golds, reds, shades of green seem to sprinkle color along the hillsides.  

So from the time the first school bell rang--signaling students back to the classroom, my mom turned her attention to decorating the house for fall!  That generally meant she would bring out all of the ceramic items she made during her clay/glaze phase.  I miss those fall leaf candy dishes she had in varying sizes.  But for me the best part of autumn was that Halloween was right around the corner.  Halloween was always incredible, because she would conjure up an incredible "one of a kind" costume for her kids.  The first real costume I remember my mom created specifically for me was the "Gypsy" outfit.  I think I loved the silk scarf and all of the bracelets she let me wear...I remember even winning a Girls Scout costume contest for it that year.  We were Hobos, Hippies, Pirates...but one of the funniest costumes she made was the one she made for my younger brothers.  My mom took felt fabric, cut it into a toga, and made the bottom of the piece jagged.  Then she proceeded to cut many green garbage bags into an ellipse shape.  Then starting from the bottom of this green felt toga looking frock she proceeded to staple these oval plastic green garbage bag "leaves" onto the entire garment, in rows, overlapping one on top of another.  Once the entire piece was covered in "leaves" she started another one, but this time the toga smaller...she was creating the beginnings of the cutest stinkin' custom for Craig and Brian--they went trick-or-treating as the Jolly Green Giant and the Little Green Sprout!

We moved through the Thanksgiving holidays, (which I will share at another time)--just in time for one of the most cherished Official Days Off from School which was just days following Thanksgiving...
DEER SEASON! 


I did not cherish it for the pursuit of the gaming (heck, the movie Bambi scared me for life, as it relates to hunting)...I never wanted to be around or learn to use a gun...but not only did we get out of school--but the entire landscape of the community changed...camouflage clothing became as common place as jeans and a polo shirt.


Then Christmas Season was upon us.  Once again, my mom would bring out the boxes from the basement that held her ceramic poinsettia candy dishes,  Santa, all  which announced the Yuletide Season.  
She would also make a paper banner that read, "Happy Birthday Jesus".  


 
One of her favorite pieces she made in ceramics for Christmas was the green "light bright" ceramic Christmas tree.  You know this type of Christmas tree--it's hollow and had a base that a light bulb would occupy.  This glazed beauty also had holes scattered all over it in order to insert the multi-colored plastic pegs, so when illuminated looked like a lighted Christmas tree--my Dad still has this Christmas treasure!  


As a young mom, I shared with my mom how I loved to look just look at the lighted Christmas tree in the still of the night.  She shared how she would do the same, especially Christmas Eve--after Santa visited.  She would gaze at the packages, mentally checking to ensure each of her children had the EXACT same number of packages.  She would marvel at the work that went into Christmas Morning...and try to savor every moment.  Because once her half dozen awoke...Christmas magic and surprises were over within minutes of tearing into the piles of gifts carefully arranged for each child.


Christmas cookie baking, tree ornament making, the Nativity set, Midnight Mass and early morning breakfast following Mass, champagne...are wonderful memories and traditions that can flood back to me instantly with just the smell of evergreen or the sound of Bing Crosby singing, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"


Memory making, time honored traditions, sights, sounds and even great smells of my youth...I take with me always and I thank my mom, my sweet, sweet mom for these things I cherish in my heart.


I Carry Your Heart With Me
by E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                  i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)



I miss you mom! 


I Lasso the wonderful memories I have of my terrific mom!









Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Life is Like a River...



When I was in college I had a silly sign on my dorm room door that read, "Life is like a river..."!
This statement was always a conversation starter.  People would come into my room and try to guess the answer to the statement...but in fact there was no real answer.  However, it was always fun and often interesting to see how different friends and acquaintances would finish it.  I saw the statement as a way to define the journey I was on in college...trying to find myself, trying to strengthen my faith-life, (which was not really fashionable in the late 1970's), trying to discern who were true friends, how I felt about social and religious issues.

This May I will have been out of college 30 years...I am still on a journey.  As my personal little world changes around me with children coming and going from college, a recent marriage and the closeness I feel to my husband of 25 years, losing family members and friends to awful diseases, aging--I am still evolving.  I have been a mother for 24 years.  As my kids take off on their adventures in life...my role as a mother has to be redefined. But, I have great comfort in knowing who I am, what I stand for, and how important my faith is in my life.  Because God never changes...

Life IS like a river...ever flowing.  At times the river is moving through rapids, calm waters, or even stagnant but always moving and changing.  People who enter our lives become ripples or waves...
But the water of life that renews our spirit is our faith in God, He is the one constant.

I Lasso God as the center of my life!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Puppy Ellie

As a young girl, I was number 3 out of six children...we were always referred to as "Boots' half dozen".  Boots was my mom's name.  An incredible lady!  I was blessed to be raised by the most incredible parents.  Both people of strong faith, strong sense of what is important and a moral code that is still with me today.

My mom is holding Pierre
During my childhood we had three dogs...two toy poodles (Pierre and Bingo), but the dog that won our hearts was Sox.  Sox was actually my oldest brother, Mark's dog he brought home from college when Sox was discovered in the dorm room.  My mother embraced having a dog in the house.  The comical thing about having a dog named Sox and a mom named Boots, was the questions I would commonly get from my friends, "Now, Kathie is your dog's name Boots or Sox...I don't want to call the dog and mistakenly call your mom!"

As a married woman, mother of three small children, it took a great deal of convincing to have a dog.  Joe was never allowed to have any pet growing up.  Boy that becomes a challenge...not just in agreeing to a dog, but understanding the a family dog is exactly that...a part of the family!  When Joe finally acquiesced to my plea for a dog, I originally wanted a Springer Spaniel.  But Joe had a Navy buddy who had the "coolest" dog--so if we were going to have a dog, it was going to be an Australian Shepherd!  Well, fast forward 25 years of marriage and we have had three awesome Aussies. 

Pirate, is 15 1/2 , Ellie is almost 9 months old...Holly died shortly after her first birthday from seizures. 




Pirate is moving slowly...I actually thought we were going to lose him last year so I contacted his breeder to see if she would have any litters in the near future...Ellie arrived Oct. 20th...I was able to bring her home the week of Christmas.  I love my dogs.  Since the litter Ellie came from was called the New Moon Litter...Moon needed to be in her registered name...since It's a Wonderful Life is one of my very favorite movies, and the fact that we brought her home the week of Christmas...her registered name is Chase's Lasso the Moon...(Chase is the kennel Ellie came from...so it too needed to be in the name).  I need to work with Ellie more with obedience commands, but truly, I love this puppy!  She has put pep back into the step of Pirate!  He is approaching 16, and doing well!

I think I continue to be amazed at the loyalty and unconditional love our four-legged pets give to us so affectionately!


Stoeckle Siblings with Sox & Abby


I can't close this entry without mentioning Ducati...much like, Mark bringing home Sox, and my mother being so receptive to this intrusion...my son Adam brought home Ducati from Baylor University Humane Society. 



The biggest difference though, is Adam has spent the time and money to really train this sweet dog!  So while Ducati is Adam's dog...we consider Duke part of our family!  While at times it's a three ring circus...I love the life and love these canines bring to our home!

I Lasso our four-legged family members!