45 years ago my boyfriend stopped by my house after work and I wasn’t home. He left this note. I was sad that I had missed an evening of riding in the woods with him, and that he had already gone home. I knew I would see him again though.
I was sixteen and he was twenty. We got married just four months after this picture was taken and were together until his exit to Heaven on November 7, 2014.
I found this note while going through some keepsakes after Frank’s passing, and still feel the same as I did the first time I read it. I love you, too, Frank!
I recently made a new friend who shared her story with me. Her story is an ongoing one because she deals with difficulty every day. As she shared the details of her struggles, she also shared evidence of the strength she draws from our Lord to carry on. She has an undeniable peace about her.
This young woman’s mother, a strong woman herself, has a disease that may inevitably cause her demise, but can never take her life. Her life is in Christ, so if the disease claims her body, she will simply step over the threshold into perfect life with Him. Meanwhile, my friend helps to care for her mom and draws strength from God both emotionally and physically to power through the difficult days. Each day she has an early morning devotion that lifts her faith and sets the tone for that day. She strives to keep her mom, her family, and herself in good spirits despite the disease.
That is not her only struggle, however. My new friend spoke of the issues she encountered as she and her husband grew their family. They experienced a difficult pregnancy that ended in the stillbirth of a son at twenty-seven weeks. After the doctors informed the young couple of the son’s physical abnormalities and the handicapped life he would have faced, they knew that God had spared their precious son this tumultuous life and were at peace. They are certain they will see him again in Heaven. Their faith in God was tested, but He constantly gave them reminders of His love and care through the months that followed. And their faith is even stronger than before.
She also spoke of her two other precious children, a boy and a girl. Again, the details of each of their births were not in line with the normal course of conception, growth, labor, and delivery. Let’s just say they are each a beautiful gift from God, made more precious by the difficulty this mother experienced.
Her little girl was born with an unusual condition, which causes her skin to tear easily and her joints to quite often dislocate. My friend told of the first-aid kit she keeps in her car to repair skin tears, and of the times she has to put her daughter’s joints back into place. She said she refuses to make her little girl miss out on life because of this anomaly in her body. Other folks get a little squeamish as my friend takes care of an ugly skin tear or pops her daughter’s arm back into place at the shoulder. Her friends say they just couldn’t do that. I love the statement she made about God giving her this particular little girl. She said, “God gave her to me, because He knew I could handle it. I would be the right Mama for her.” Oh, what strength! And what confidence this woman has in her Lord and Savior!
We women are nurturers and deal with things emotionally. That is simply how God made us. That said, I am amazed at how He strengthens and uses our emotions and character traits – love, compassion, fortitude, perseverance – to help us be the women we need to be.
After conversing with my new friend, I felt empowered, believing that God is able to strengthen us no matter what we face each day. My difficulties are certainly different from hers, but the same God who empowers her to wake up each morning and face the day with joy and determination, can and does do the same for me.
He can and will do it for you, too.
I had planned on posting more poetry about six weeks ago, but school ending and other stuff kind of got in the way. Hope these still bring a smile or a good memory.
The Beautiful Ocean
I stand frozen like a statue
admiring the beauty of the lapping waves.
She slowly moves back and forth
like a butterfly gracefully flying.
She acts like a mirror
reflecting everything in sight.
As I slowly walk away
she says goodbye
in a soft voice.
What Am I?
I slowly creep through the grass
I cannot move fast
I am like a worm
crawling on a leaf.
I tell stories to kids in the sea
about what good adults they will be.
I won against the hare
because I took my time.
He thought he would win
because his legs are faster than mine.
I may look young, but
trust me, I am old.
I am talked about horribly in this world.
You should check the things you say,
because you will also be old and slow one day.
The wind blew,
moving my hair around.
I closed my eyes
and heard her whisper my name.
She held me as her own
while I rested in the grass.
I remembered the love in her voice
as I drifted to sleep.
When I awoke, I reached out
but could not find her.
My eyes teared up
as I remembered her.
School is out and I have now retired. Twenty-nine years is enough, I have decided. I plan to do some writing of my own, but I sure enjoyed teaching these talented students. They will always be a part of my heart.
As the school year ends, I want to share some of the great works of my seventh grade students. They wrote poems about their interests with attention to figurative language and sensory details. Enjoy!
At the Beach
Under the radiant sun all day
my family and I sat and played.
We splashed and scared the fish
as small as fleas.
The water, a beautiful clear blue,
refreshed on this exciting day.
As time went by, we sat together
and let the ocean speak to us
in the pink light of the setting sun.
The Best Day
It was a beautiful day.
The sun was beginning to seep
through the lightly shaded clouds.
Then I rounded third base
my heart racing, as fast
as a fox, I slid home.
There was a long silence …
and then the ump shouted,
The crowd erupted like
a thousand horns in my ear.
My smile was too big to control.
My uniform was covered in soft dirt.
It was the best, most beautiful,
As the sun arose across the way
the water waved to me today.
I lay down in the sand,
eyes straight at the sun.
I covered my eyes while humming along
with the seagulls singing their own song.
I went out into the wilderness
with my boat, hoping
to catch a fish or two.
I cast my bait onto the
cool, blue surface
and lay in wait.
The sweet cicadas
sang their song
all around me.
And I will remember
this day as I walk toward
home with my bass of gold
and a smile.
Thank you for reading our work…
More next week!
He Taught Us a Thing or Two, Pt. 5
The poem entitled If, written by Rudyard Kipling, helps us to see why Frank was often called a “real man” by those who knew him. Not only was he tough, he was wise.
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master,”
“If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Mr. Kipling no doubt penned these words after meeting someone like Frank.
I miss your wisdom, Frank, and your comforting words telling me whether whatever was bothering me was worth my time or not.
I miss the hugs that said, “You are okay. Don’t let a problem define you.” (So I wouldn’t. You taught me to learn from the problem, and I did. Every time.)
I miss the heart that soaked up my tears and replaced my fears with love.
I miss you, Frank.
We all do…
He Taught Us a Thing or Two
Part 4 : About Life.
Frank taught us that a key component of a quality life is respect.
He defined respect as “an understanding that someone or something has certain attributes and should be treated in an appropriate way.” This was true for anything from poisonous snakes to sweet gray-haired old ladies.
He also felt that a person should show some respect for themselves by speaking and acting appropriately. When he opened doors for ladies, or retrieved things from high shelves in Walmart for a short person (he was tall), he was just being himself. He had enough respect for himself and those around him to conduct himself well in public.
One thing that upset Frank was disrespectful children. He wondered why parents would neglect to teach their children at least to honor the sacred and important things. Not just God and the church, but gray-haired folks, law enforcement, and institutions like schools and courtrooms. He held in high esteem those parents who taught their children respect, and had a soft spot in his heart for children who learned and lived it. He would do anything for them.
He was never fake. If he didn’t like you, he respected you enough that he wouldn’t act like he liked you. He was cordial to everyone, but only engaged in conversations with people he liked. There were only certain people in his “inner circle” that he would go so far as to laugh and joke with. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the inner circle folks were the ones who respected him the most and showed it.
There is no question that Frank deserved and received respect. He also gave it. He held in high regard those persons and concepts everyone should, like God, and family, and country, but he also respected fellow men and women, particularly those in the military. Anytime he had an opportunity, he paid for their dinner, and it didn’t matter how many were in the party.
We were having lunch with our son and his wife one afternoon at a Mexican restaurant. Frank noticed a table of ten or so folks, one of whom was in military attire. We were seated near them, so their conversation somewhat wafted our way. We understood that this soldier was about to be deployed to a war zone, and the family was enjoying this time with him before he was to leave the next day.
As Frank paid our lunch bill, he also picked up the tab on theirs. He tried to get out of the restaurant without them knowing, but as he was finishing up, the soldier asked for the bill for their table. The cashier shook his head and then pointed to Frank.
The soldier quickly came over to thank him saying, “Sir, that was a large ticket. A lot of food. Thank you.”
Frank choked up and barely could get out the words, “No. Thank you… for your service.” The soldier nodded, shook Frank’s hand and let us leave. Mutual respect.
Frank taught us that true respect is shown, not just spoken.
Thank you, Frank, for the respect you gave me and others,
and my respect for you will go on forever.