A Love Story


 

in laws

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. Psalm 71:9

We just returned from a trip to Texas to visit with my husband’s family. It was wonderful to see my in-laws and spend some quality time together. We were also able to catch up with old friends, and visit our former church. There was a lot to do, but the highlight of our trip was the opportunity to witness a beautiful love story. I knew that my husband’s parents loved each other, but, staying in their home, I was privileged to observe daily, the deep love and affection my father-in-law has for his wife.

Haydee and Gerardo’s love story started in Cuba in the mid 50’s. They were married in 1957 and in 1959 they escaped the Cuban revolution. They immigrated to America where they carved out a new life and raised five wonderful children. Fifty-nine years later they have thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (and counting). Life has been very good to the Garro’s, but every family has its share of sorrows.

Several years ago, my mother-in-law suffered a series of debilitating stokes that left her unable to walk, talk, or even feed herself. This was followed by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Over the years, her family witnessed a vibrant woman succumb to the ravages of old age. I’m saddened that my daughter will never know what a strong and determined woman her grandmother was.

My husband’s father has done everything he can to take care of his wife. Each day a home health nurse assists Haydee to get ready for the day. In the morning, my father-in-law putters about the house doing chores and such. While he works he talks lovingly to his life-long companion despite the fact that she probably doesn’t understand him. After lunch, he sits Haydee up on the couch, and then sits next to her, holding her hand, like high school sweethearts. He speaks softly to his wife; words that I know express his deep love for her.

Every day their routine is the same. It would be easier on the family to put Mrs. Garro in a nursing home. The care she requires is quite a burden. However, to remove her from her home would interrupt the love these two still share. It would also deny their family and friends the opportunity to witness how true love is expressed. Psalm 92:14 tells us this, “They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” Indeed, my in-laws are still producing fruit by setting such a beautiful example.

Blessings on your day.

 

 

The Gift of Another Day


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Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.

Once every four years the calendar gives us an extra day. There’s a scientific reason – the earth rotates around the sun every 365 ¼ days. Those who created our calendar added an extra day every fourth year to make up for this. There’s actually more to it than my brief explanation, but you get the idea – we have the gift of another day this year.

How will we use the extra day?

We take so much of life for granted, especially those of us blessed with families, jobs, and good health. We race to get our commitments completed, then complain that we have too much to do – work, errands, children’s activities and the like. We don’t stop often enough to enjoy or appreciate life’s many blessings. I am guilty of rushing through life like there is always tomorrow.

But life is brief. We don’t know how much time we have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Our extra day falls on a Monday this year, so how about celebrating our “leap day” this weekend? Leave your watch in a drawer and unplug for the day. Think about how you can enjoy – really appreciate – the many blessings our God has given to us. Connect with your friends and family and hold them tight. Savor each moment with them. Go on an outing. Gaze at a landscape, or a sunset. Take a nature walk. Stop to really look at flowers, or a lake, or the clouds. Become aware of the gifts we so often overlook. Live.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Blessings on your “leap day.”

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com (The Living Bible Translation)

Images: google images

Thankfulness – Day 26


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Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we give You thanks for food. Lord, you have blessed us with an abundance and variety of foods and drink. You also gave us taste buds to enjoy the food You have provided. As we feast today keep us focused on You alone, the giver of all good things.

 Ecclesiastes 9:7

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Genesis 9:3

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

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 May your Thanksgiving Celebration be blessed.

Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Family Memories


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I wrote this piece a few years ago just before our family celebrated my in-laws 54th Wedding Anniversary. Today we celebrate their 57th Anniversary. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law’s memory and body has failed her, and now she is home-bound. There won’t be an anniversary outing this year, but there will be plenty of love. As you read, consider creating more of your own lasting family memories. They are priceless. 

The Anniversary Dinner (2011)

My Father-In-Law called the other night. He doesn’t usually call to talk to me, but to talk to his son; possibly because of the slight language barrier. My father-in-law is Cuban and although he speaks fluent English, his thick accent makes it hard to understand him sometimes. I have very little in common with my in-laws, and we have butted heads on more than one occasion (politics, childrearing, working moms, etc.)

Monday night was different, however. Gerardo started out by complimenting my cooking (more than usual) and my home, and then he asked me to plan and prepare a very nice anniversary dinner at my home, to include all the children and grandchildren that can be in attendance. My in-laws will be married 54 years this Sunday. So yes, I’m going to jump up and plan something very nice. He asked for an anniversary cake, steaks and whatever special accompaniments I could come up with. He told me to spare no expense. (That’s a major request from a family that celebrates its thriftiness.)

But there was more to the request. There were the unspoken words. Gerardo fears this may be his last anniversary meal with the love of his life. My mother-in-law is just not well. Since their elaborate 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, Haydee has suffered 2 major strokes and has other health issues. When I met my future mother-in-law (some 18+ years ago) she was still a vibrant woman, talked a mile a minute and could tell you every detail about her children and grandchildren. She cooked for huge family gatherings, able to feed a small army; a skill she honed because of the duties of being a Pastor’s wife, and raising 5 children. Now her memory is faltering and she can barely warm up prepared food items. He didn’t say it but my father-in-law mourns the changes in his wife and he only wishes to celebrate their life together, possibly this one last time. Heroes come in all sizes. In this case it’s a 79-year-old man planning a special outing for his very best friend – he wants it to be very special.

My children are fortunate; they have had the luxury of knowing both sets of grandparents. I don’t know how long that will last. My father was just diagnosed with cancer. So I’m going to make this evening special.  Children and grandchildren are coming in from out of town to surprise Gerardo and Haydee. The meal is planned. I’m pulling out the good china & wine glasses (when was the last time I did that?), table cloths, linen napkins and the like. I’m grateful I planted flowers on the patio last weekend. Haydee will like that. I have croquet, horseshoes and a lawn chess set to ensure a fun family gathering. I’m charging the batteries to every camera I can find. I’ll probably pick up a few disposable cameras too. After all, it’s not about the food, it’s about family.

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Garro, and thank you for the example.

They Are Watching


Cousins 11-28-2013

Psalm 127:3 ESV

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

We don’t see my brother-in-law or his family very often, they are a 12-hour drive away; but they drove in a few days ago for a family visit. My children looked forward to their arrival; my 8-year-old even kept checking the door and asking, “When will they get here?” They did arrive, and it was wonderful to see everyone again, and see how much the children have grown. It was such a joy watching the cousins play together.

As adults caught up on family news, the voices of our children and laughter filled our home. It reminded me what a great gift our children are. Our lives are richer and fuller because of our children. At the dinner table, conversation was fun. From sports to the pet lizard, we tried to cover all the topics. Eventually, the conversation turned to a discussion about our faith. I was so pleased to see my children participating in a conversation expressing their faith, and equally pleased that my in-law’s faith is strong.

Some days can be such a struggle. Getting the kids off to school, then sports practices, homework, and trying to get a family meal on the table can be trying, because the same rushed routine happens day after day. Weekends are even busier with games, errands and chores. Keeping our faith at the center of our lives is hard work. Sometimes it seems that everything we say or do falls on deaf ears. Then there are times you feel too tired to cook the meal for a sick neighbor, or you don’t really have time to lend a helping hand, but you did anyway. You try to set the example.

Then one day, you realize the children were listening, they were watching…

3 John 1:4 ESV

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture:  Openbible.info

Photo:  Rod Garro

Dinner Smells Like Family


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I protect dinnertime. It’s the few moments each day when my family can catch up with what is happening in each other’s lives. My husband and I have the opportunity to instill Christian values into my children, and the conversation is always interesting.

But my children are growing up. Dinnertime is harder to schedule. There are music lessons and sports practices going on in the early evenings. Countless other events are scheduled around mealtime also. What’s a mom to do?

I love to cook, but I work full time, so preparing tasty meals was getting tricky, or so I thought. We just had meatloaf and mashed potatoes the other night. Last night it was chicken. When the kids came into the house to wash up, my daughter could smell the potatoes browning. She had a twinkle in her eye when she said, “I know what’s for dinner!” It really wasn’t the best meal I ever prepared, but she could smell the love in the air. I could tell she was looking forward to dinner.

Dinner conversation was wonderful last night. My daughter volunteered to say grace. We learned about new friends at school, some new scientific facts from my son, and planned our Christmas trip to see grandparents.

Dinnertime is not about the meal. It’s not about how it tastes. It’s about the family.

I’ll continue to protect dinner-time like a mama bear.

Blessings on your mealtime.