Miraculous Monday: Little Green Blessings

Little Green Blessings

I always wanted a Christmas wedding.  I had fantasized as a young girl of bridesmaids in red velvet trimmed in white fur and snow covered Christmas trees lining the cathedral aisle.   When the man of my dreams proposed in October, I knew a large formal wedding could not be planned in a couple of months and I wasn’t going to wait another year.  We had a life to get on with.  So we decided on a Spring Break wedding, landing on St. Patrick’s Day. A red color scheme was abandoned for emerald green and gold lame’.

The wedding was glorious.  Satiny emerald dresses reflected candlelight and brass lanterns adorned the sanctuary.  I was wed to my best friend in a fairy tale setting complete with carriage ride to the reception. Jewel toned emerald colors and delicate white flowers surrounded our nuptials.

 

***

Bailey had Christmas money burning a hole in his pocket, so we went shopping. We stopped into one of my favorite stores and my son walked past a sale table and screeched to a halt. Sitting on the fifty-percent-off-after-Christmas-sale table was a nutcracker. Not just any nutcracker, mind you. This was a baseball player in a kelly green and white pin stripe uniform.

My son in all of his 8 year old wisdom exclaimed, “Momma! This would be perfect for me. I collect nutcrackers, my room is green, and baseball is my favorite sport!”

Green Nutcracker

I checked the price tag. Though it was 50% off, it still would use up all of his money. I told him he could afford it, but it would take everything. He stood in front of that sale table for eons, trying to decide whether or not to give it all up for that nutcracker. Finally, with eyes downcast and wrinkled brow, he decided he couldn’t let go of all the money and we left the store without the nutcracker. I assured him it was always better to wait if you weren’t certain about a purchase.

For weeks, he talked about the nutcracker-that-got-away. I couldn’t believe he was so attached to the idea of a baseball player nutcracker. Months later as I tucked him into bed, his chubby face was crestfallen, pinched eyebrows and pouty lips broke my heart.

“What’s wrong, Bailey?”

“I was just thinking about that nutcracker.”

After all this time, it still weighed heavily on his mind? I was sure he would have forgotten about it by now.

“I made the wrong decision. I should have bought it.” His lip quivered and a tear slid down his rosy cheek.

My heart fractured as I gazed into his glistening eyes. “Well,” I asked, “are you gonna be able to stop thinking about it and get some rest?”

“Probably not.” His voice cracked.

My heart wrenched right out of my chest and shattered on the floor to see him so miserable.  “Well, do you want me to get you something to sleep with?”

“Okay.” He swallowed back tears in a forlorn voice.

I walked to my closet and pulled out a hidden gift, unwrapped the tissue and held it behind my back. I took it to him and said, “Will this do?”

I revealed the Little Green Baseball Nutcracker that I had returned to purchase for his birthday. His face lit like a bonfire, joy exploded onto his features. He reached for the nutcracker, then swerved around it and grabbed me in a bear hug and sobbed into my hair.

“Thank you, Momma.” His little voice broke, his tender eyes weeping tears of joy.

We hugged and cried as he stroked with reverent awe, the little green blessing. Finally, he settled down, we wiped our tears with gulps and shudders and laughter of relief and wandered into the land of dreams.

 

***

It sat on the side walk in front of the antique shop, tiny and green and just the right size for the three year old walking along, hand in hand with me.

Little Green Rocking Chair“Mommy! Look!” She tugged on my arm and pointed at the perfectly sized rocking chair. Slipping her fingers out of mine, she ran to the chair and backed into it, bottom first.  A bright smile dawned on her face.

“Come on, sweetie. Let’s go inside.” I had one thing on my mind, finding a chest of drawers for the nursery before the baby came. I pressed my fist into my back and waddled into the store

Dayla pouted out her bottom lip and scowled, but obeyed and followed me into the musty smelling shop.  A longing glance at the perfect green rocking chair, still moving back and forth, carried her through the door.

I found the dresser and negotiated a price, arranged for it to be delivered and called Dayla from the front window. “Time to go, baby.  What are you looking at?”

“My rocking chair, mommy. It fits me just right, did you see?”

“It does? Show me.”  I grinned at my precious daughter as she dragged me out to the side walk. Frustrated with my pace, Dayla ran ahead and hugged her chair, then planted her bum in the seat.

“See, Mommy? It’s juuuust right.” She rubbed her chubby fingers along the arm rests and kicked the rocker into high tilt, face beaming with satisfaction.

I watched sheer joy dawn across her face.  This child was not one to ask for every little thing.  She rarely got attached to objects. I waved to the store clerk, struck a bargain and loaded the tiny green rocker into the van.

Dayla was ecstatic.

“Oh Mommy! Thank you thank you thank you! Oh Mommy, it is perfect! Oh my! Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Dayla kept the words of gratitude rolling all the way home in a chorus of jubilant repetition in her Shirley Temple voice.

My eyes welled with tears to hear such deep and heartfelt appreciation pour out of a three year old. “Dear Lord,” I thought, “Let my heart be so full of thanks when you send blessings my way.”  I glanced into the rearview mirror to see Dayla wagging her head emphatically, fist wrapped possessively around the little green rocking chair.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

***Green Yard

I was never really fond of the color green, red or blue was more to my liking, until these little green blessings started infiltrating my life.  Green has become one of my favorite colors.

I cannot see the color green without thinking about the good things in my life.  Emeralds and satin, pinstriped baseball nutcrackers and little green rocking chairs have become symbols of love and family for me.

The marriage is dissolved, the feisty daughter is grown and going to college, the cherub boy drives away from me every day into his own adventures and I am left with a thankful heart.  Thankful, because I know that little green blessings aren’t just in my past, but surround me, uplift me, and call to me from a hopeful future.

Green Herb GardenA sprig of mint struggles up through dried and yellowed ancestors to wave at me from my garden; a little green blessing buds for my tea cup.  A postcard from a foreign land displays green and lush hills and whispers heartening words from a kindred spirit; good news breaks open a smile.  A children’s book featuring leprechaun’s beckons to me from a book shelf; I tuck it in my arms, a gift for a future grandbaby.

I will always look for these emerald drops and it won’t be hard to find them.  They crop up everywhere as gifts to brighten my journey.

“Oh thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you, for little green blessings.”

 

In Loving Memory of Roger Brothers

My uncle passed into the arms of Jesus yesterday. When we lose someone, the first thought that crosses our minds is ‘did he know how much I loved him?’

I tried to remember if I’d ever told him how much he meant to me. Did I say ‘thank you’ enough for him to hear? Did I express how important he was? A blog came to mind. I wrote it in December 2012 after reading a status he posted on Facebook. His words were worth repeating then and they are now.

Uncle Roger, I know this is a busy welcome home week for you. You have so many people to catch up with, your dad, my dad, other’s who have passed ahead of you. For all I know the next hundred years or so maybe completely devoted to staring into the face of Jesus.  But when the time comes to check in on us. Know that you are ever loved. You are important to our lives. We are richer, more confident, happier for knowing you.

Thank you.

So, readers, once again I give you

Be a Doer, not a Don’t-er

There is a man in my life that has been there for me through thick and thin.  As a child he was my playmate, big brother, aggravation, torturer, and friend.

Image

My first playmate!

When I was sixteen and my parents divorced, he was there to support me. We traveled in a singing group with my aunt and her family the summer it all fell apart.  He was a rock for me. He sang and played at my wedding. Part of why we bonded was that we both love to sing for Jesus. He would write the songs and push me to sing higher, lower, or better.  He spent hours over a keyboard writing songs and making tracks for them so I could make an album.

He is still in the studio, making music!

He is still in the studio, making music!

Then he spent more hours in the studio, mixing, singing back up and adding effects.  He never asked for payment.  He would just say “When you make it big, you can pay me.”  I honestly felt like he thought I could do it. When my marriage began to fail, he gave me sage wisdom and support through it, while encouraging me to stand in my faith without wavering. When I found an outlet for my grief and pain and decided to write a curriculum to help children of divorce and start a non profit ministry, he called me to California and promoted my vision alongside his and Connie’s ministry. www.heartworkvillage.com www.conniebrothers.com He has always been there for me.  I love him, dearly.  So, now, I introduce to you the writings of my uncle and friend, Roger Brothers. The following was posted on Facebook 12-8-12.

I want to say that it is totally your business what you do as a parent, as long as it’s not abusive in any way.. TOTALLY. But as a Christian, you have to decide what club you want to belong to and raise your kids in. The “Don’t” club, or the “Do” club. If you raise them in the don’t club….don’t do this….Christians don’t do that…..they will grow up to resent Christianity. Instead, we taught our kids (which are all in the ministry) to be a member of the “DO” club. Remember, the Apostle Paul said “All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient.” Teach your kids the things that are expedient, and they will love you for it, and love the church, and serve Christ.

Image

He is in there, can you find him? Look under the Santa hat.

No one here was raised any stricter than I was. I was raised in the “Don’t” club. I was taught that it was a sin to go to football games, movies, baseball, basketball. go bowling, to the fair, rodeo, and anywhere else that was considered fun. One of the biggest fights me and my Dad had was when, at 16, he would not let me go to the Beaumont Fair. I was not allowed to participate in sports, play in the band, dress out for P.E., etc. etc. I earned my P.E. credits washing jockstraps. I was ridiculed, called names, and thought to be a weirdo. ANYONE who went to school with me knows I was a miserable, wretched outcast until about the 11th grade when I began to change things. 2 Weeks after I graduated, I left for Louisiana. Anything to get out of the don’t club.

Image

Roger loves his grandbabies.

So, believe me when I say, you had better not teach your kids to be members of the don’t club. Thank God, I have come out of all that legalism, and have raised my kids differently. Be a do-er, not a don’t-er! Love!

Roger and ConnieRoger and Connie Brothers currently live in Texas where they pastor 123 Church.  They have touched lives over many years across the nation.  Check out Brothers Family Ministries at http://www.ConnieBrothers. com

10 Things Yo Mamma Didn’t Tell You about Back to School, the College Years

Photo Credit: _skynet via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: _skynet via Compfight cc

10) He’s too old for first day pictures. As a mom, it doesn’t matter how old they are, you want to commemorate all those firsts with pictures. As my youngest walks out the door for his first Freshman class, it takes everything I have not to run for the camera.

9) Paying for college books is crazy expensive. When two kids are in college, you’ll have to take out a second mortgage for books alone.   Chegg.com is your lifeline to saving your retirement fund from the textbook black hole.

Photo Credit: emilybean via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: emilybean via Compfight cc

8) Your heart is capable of shriveling grief and swelling pride all in the same moment.

7) Letting go isn’t just a Disney song. It’s a fact of life. They have to learn to live without you.

6 ) Adjusting to the different parenting stages is just as hard as the developmental stages of childhood. With each stage, you must learn to adjust your style. Boundaries become more and more fluid until you are left with influence only. The amount of influence you will have on them as adults is directly correlated to your ability to give increased independence through the stages.

Photo Credit: Shawn M. Smith via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Shawn M. Smith via Compfight cc

5) Every time the door slams when they are kids, you grumble. Every time the door slams when they are adults, returning home, your heart leaps for joy.

4) Staring at the dot on the “find my phone app” map doesn’t help the ache go away.  You’ve been telling yourself you need to know where he is in case of the Zombie Apocalypse, but face it, he will be the one saving you from Zombies. When did he get so big?

3) There really are times when the movies get it right. Those moments when you look across the room and see the little five year old instead of the twenty year old really happen. More and more often as they drift away into their own lives.

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2) If you did it right, she really doesn’t need you, anymore. And that is a good thing, no matter how it shreds your soul to know it.

1) You will always be “home.” No matter where you go or where you live, your heart will be the safe haven they come home to visit. Leave the door open. This is not the end.

My Daddy’s Hands

Praying old hands
This week has been a week of sorrow as we made final arrangements for my father, Don Brothers. Though we will grieve for a long while, the advice of several of my family members rings in my ears, “Remember the good things.”

Slogging through the stages of grief, my mind keeps returning to an image. We were told that he was found in his apartment, on his knees, with his hands folded one on top of the other on the floor with his face pressed against them.  This was his praying position. My daddy left this world praying.

Yeah.

That sounds right.

I take great comfort in the thought that he bent down, closed his eyes in prayer. The next sound he heard was music and the brush of angel wings. When he opened his eyes, the very One he was praying to stood before him with a smile and open arms.

My Daddy’s hands, folded in prayer. His last legacy, his last sermon, his last instruction to us, pray.

Indulge me as I cope the best way I know how. I write.

Daddy’s Hands

By LaDonna Cole

They cradled to the “Tis so sweet” tune.

They penned a poem, an angel’s croon.

They held high the Bible’s truths,

My Daddy’s hands, my Daddy’s hands.

Tying knots in fishing line,

Holding my bike as he ran behind,

Pointing, showing, enfolding mine.

My Daddy’s hands, my Daddy’s hands.

Reaching out to touch my face,

Guiding me to find my place,

Snagging on my bridal lace,

My Daddy’s hands, my Daddy’s hands.

Spread wide to gather, hug, and hold,

Whitened knuckles on wheel chair’s cold,

Trembling where they once were bold,

My Daddy’s hands, my Daddy’s hands.

Turning through crisp Bible pages,

Folded in prayer to the God of the Ages,

A legacy of faith as eternity engages,

My Daddy’s hands, my Daddy’s hands.

You Might Be Traveling with a Carnivore if…

Bahama Mama CropThe über busy Lee University student has finally come through for us and delivered her reply to the prior blog, You Might Be Traveling with a Vegan if…

Mom and Dayla

Welcome guest blogger, Dayla Cole.  Looking at a major in Political Science, Dayla has the heart of a philanthropist, SAM_0653the roar of a feminist, and the compassion of an activist. She returned from a trip to South Africa this summer where she worked at Bethesda Children’s Village with other Lee University students.  I am humbled and proud to call her my daughter.

You might be traveling with a CARNIVORE if…

Your hummus and bell peppers get strange looks

Every stop at a gas station, you pay much more money for your fruit cups and oreos than your carnivore does for her potato chips and soda.

You have to explain, again, why you can’t eat those chips, cookies, cheese balls, beef jerky, ice cream cone dipped in bacon grease….

Ten little words that make you cringe: “What can you eat here? I think they have salad!”

You’re applauded for your vegan concoctions at restaurants, while getting skeptical looks from the waitstaff.

You get to talk about factory farming and unethical business practices over veggies and rice.

You get to connect with your carnivore over her genuine curiosity and open mind. When two people who love each other travel together, there is always room for discussion of ideologies and morality. That’s the beauty of traveling, vegan or carni, you will always get to know your friends better on the open road.

"I don't want salad!" Vegan IHOP adventures

“I don’t want salad!” Vegan IHOP adventures

Words of the Fathers

I have been blessed with a lovable dad, a example of excellence in a step father, an adoring father-in-law, and many wise mentor-fathers in my life. Their words have collided inside of me to bring about a treasure trove of wisdom and phrases to live by. I would like to commemorate the Fathers in my life by sharing some of the quotes and stories they have spoken and lived before me.

&

Reverend Donald Ray Brothers

Daddy and Me

My daddy is one of the most lovable and fun people I have ever known. His jolly nature and passion for the Word draws people. He loves sharing jokes and pranks. I get my happy from my daddy.

That is so good, it would make a minnow slap a whale!

Another phrase that I heard him repeat often…

You are a Brothers!

I wasn’t sure what that meant, growing up, but the way he said it made me believe it was something awesome to strive to live up to.

The Brothers Family

The Brothers Family

You’ve gotta hold your mouth just right.

Those were his words of wisdom when teaching me how to fish. I can still see him jiggle the line and stick out his tongue. He taught me to hunt, fish, pray and love people.

My favorite daddy story is about the time he heard the audible voice of God. Here it is in his point of view.

“My daddy and I were hunting for deer in Colorado and I walked up the side of a mountain, over it into another valley and back up the next mountain. I was looking for tracks and signs and ended up farther away from camp than I had planned and got turned around a bit. So I tromped back up the mountain and spotted the road and headed toward it.  I finally got back to the camp site and realized I had lost my wallet out in the wilderness. My hunting license, deer tags, my driver’s license and all my money, gone!

I got mad at God. Everything that had gone wrong in my life crashed in that moment. All my regrets and all my failures bubbled up into a ball of rage and feelings of being rejected by God. I knew he had turned his back on me.

“You’d do it for my dad, but you won’t do it for me!” (Referring to the year before when his dad lost his wallet and God told him right where to go to find it.)  

So, I set out retracing my steps the next day, hoping I could find it. I walked and walked and knew it was a hopeless situation. I had covered miles and miles the day before. But, I was so mad that I wasn’t any good to anyone back at the camp anyway. I finally gave up and sat down and leaned my back against a tree.

With my head low and my shoulders drooped, I grumbled and mumbled to God about how worthless I was and what a failure I had been.  I felt I would be better off dead and buried than to live a life out of God’s favor. I squeezed the gun in my hands and thought real hard about what to do with it next.

Suddenly, I heard a deep voice as clear as I am talking to you.

“As I did for your father, so will I do for you!”  

I was startled and raised my head. My eyes landed on a dark object just down the hill in front of me. Upside down in the position of a tent, was my wallet. I couldn’t believe my eyes!  Or my ears!  I jumped up and started whooping and hollering and praising God. Tears ran down my cheeks. I rushed back to the campsite and told my daddy the story and we both danced around, embraced, and bawled our eyes out thanking God for his love, forgiveness, and provision.”

Papa and Dayla

Thank you, Daddy, for giving me a legacy of faith and a heritage and foundation based on God.

&

&

&

Harry Lee Gordon, RPh

Harry and Mimi

Perhaps the most intelligent person I know is my step father, Harry.  More than just an appreciation of intelligence, he has given me a sense of integrity, a mentality to strive for excellence, and the love of the endless pursuit of knowledge.

Early in our relationship when things were not going so well, he took me to my room and sat on the edge of the bed and told me. “We are a family now, your mom, your sister, my girls and I. We are going to make it through this transition. Everything is going to be okay.”

At the time I did not value or even believe his words, (angsty teenager), but time and consistency won me over. He was right. We were okay. He wanted me to know that he was not going anywhere. He was going to stay. That is just what I needed to hear in a time when everything had been turned upside down in my world. I didn’t want to hear it, but I needed to hear it and he knew that intuitively.Lighthouse viewing

Through the years he lived in front of me a life of integrity, success, and provision and is one of the people in the world I admire the most. He has claimed my kids as his own grand kids and has loved us and taken care of us in so many precious ways. His generous heart and goodness bind me to him as a daughter.

I see how he adores my mom and it is good for my soul.

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Mom and Harry stroll along Tybee beach.

My favorite Harry story is about a Christmas Carol and a curse.

Every year it is a tradition to go to the Christmas Eve service at First Christian in Wichita Falls, Texas. They put on a pageant, the choir sings and it ends in a candle light service. This year the choir sang Carol of the Bells and it seemed to go on and on and on and we were all hungry and ready to get to the party foods that mom had prepared. We finally left and started back to the car for the traditional party.

I mumbled under my breath, “I thought they would never stop Harkin’ those Bells.” Then realized I had said it a bit too loud. I cut my eyes up to Harry.

Instead of a lecture on good manners, he replied. “Yeah, enough of those damn bells.”

I threw my head back and laughed so hard that tears sprinkled. To this day we can’t hear that song without thinking of that statement.

&

&
&

Larry Dean Cole

Pa and Dayla

Oh my, if there was ever a man in this world who knew how to show me love it was my father-in-law, Larry Cole.  He claimed me as his daughter-in-law before his son and I were anything more than friends. He has lavished love on me and my children from the beginning and no one in my life has ever accepted me the way Dad did.  There was never any doubt that I was his. He loved to call me “Daughter-in-Law.” It was his way of claiming me in the family and holding me there.

Larry

He worked harder than any one I know. He was always about the business of providing for “my bride” and making sure everything was just so. He loved to give gifts, but hated taking them. He loved the holidays and wanted all of us to

His favorite gift ever? We put a snow man in a bottle with instructions. He loved it!

His favorite gift ever? We put a snow man in a bottle with instructions to dump the water into the yard at the first sign of freezing temperatures. He loved it!

be together.

Family was everything to him and he instilled in me a sense of family loyalty and showed me how to be a loving and affectionate mom.  By embracing me into his fold, he showed me the importance of a close knit bond between family. His passing was unbelievably hard. I cherish the moments, the years, the holidays and the love that we shared.  Pa, you aren’t here to read this blog, so I will heart-mail a copy to heaven so you can read it there.  But I know these words are not new to you. We have spoken and shared our bond out loud through the years. No regrets, no love withheld.

Just let it seek its level.

Anytime we went to him with a problem, those were his words of patience and advice.

I just want to hear LaDonna sing, I don’t care about all those other people up there.

He was my biggest fan.  I got to sing at his bedside the night he passed away. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was singing along in his heart and so very proud.

You have done an incredible job with those babies.

He told me often how proud he was of me for raising his grand babies to be good people who love Jesus.

He was the strength and glue of the Cole Clan. It was in his embrace that we found shelter, family, and home.

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The words of the Fathers resound in my full spirit tonight. I have been blessed to have such amazing men raise me.

My Pawpaw, and my daddy as a boy.

My Pawpaw, and my daddy as a boy.

My Pawpaw and Grandma Choate

My Pawpaw and Grandma Choate

Be a Doer not a Don’t-er

There is a man in my life that has been there for me through thick and thin.  As a child he was my playmate, big brother, aggravation, torturer, and friend.

Image

Look who is dead in the grass and who is holding the gun!

When I was sixteen and my parents divorced, he was there to support me. We traveled in a singing group with my aunt and her family the summer it all fell apart.  He was a rock for me. He sang and played at my wedding. Part of why we bonded was that we both love to sing for Jesus. He would write the songs and push me to sing higher, lower, or better.  He spent hours over a keyboard writing songs and making tracks for them so I could make an album.

He is still in the studio, making music!

He is still in the studio, making music!

Then he spent more hours in the studio, mixing, singing back up and adding effects.  He never asked for payment.  He would just say “When you make it big, you can pay me.”  I honestly felt like he thought I could do it. When my marriage began to fail, he gave me sage wisdom and support through it, while encouraging me to stand in my faith without wavering. When I found an outlet for my grief and pain and decided to write a curriculum to help children of divorce and start a non profit ministry, he called me to California and promoted my vision alongside his and Connie’s ministry. www.heartworkvillage.com www.conniebrothers.com He has always been there for me.  I love him, dearly.  So, now, I introduce to you the writings of my uncle and friend, Roger Brothers. The following was posted on Facebook 12-8-12.

I want to say that it is totally your business what you do as a parent, as long as it’s not abusive in any way.. TOTALLY. But as a Christian, you have to decide what club you want to belong to and raise your kids in. The “Don’t” club, or the “Do” club. If you raise them in the don’t club….don’t do this….Christians don’t do that…..they will grow up to resent Christianity. Instead, we taught our kids (which are all in the ministry) to be a member of the “DO” club. Remember, the Apostle Paul said “All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient.” Teach your kids the things that are expedient, and they will love you for it, and love the church, and serve Christ.

Image

He is in there, can you find him? Look under the Santa hat.

No one here was raised any stricter than I was. I was raised in the “Don’t” club. I was taught that it was a sin to go to football games, movies, baseball, basketball. go bowling, to the fair, rodeo, and anywhere else that was considered fun. One of the biggest fights me and my Dad had was when, at 16, he would not let me go to the Beaumont Fair. I was not allowed to participate in sports, play in the band, dress out for P.E., etc. etc. I earned my P.E. credits washing jockstraps. I was ridiculed, called names, and thought to be a weirdo. ANYONE who went to school with me knows I was a miserable, wretched outcast until about the 11th grade when I began to change things. 2 Weeks after I graduated, I left for Louisiana. Anything to get out of the don’t club.

Image

Roger loves his grandbabies.

So, believe me when I say, you had better not teach your kids to be members of the don’t club. Thank God, I have come out of all that legalism, and have raised my kids differently. Be a do-er, not a don’t-er! Love! Roger and Connie Roger and Connie Brothers currently live in Texas where they pastor 123 Church.  They have touched lives over many years across the nation.  Check out Brothers Family Ministries at http://www.ConnieBrothers. com