Tag Archives: sisters

Detour

C511F7CC-7EF5-4894-A435-627DFE814A92As so often happens, life is full of twist and turns. This morning I am sitting in the Savannah airport waiting for a flight north. I’ll meet up with my sister Joie in Scranton, and we’ll continue north to help care for our dear sister, Elna. When I left her last month we were very hopeful that the three tumors they found in her brain would be treatable and the crisis would be averted. However, while those tumors could be treated, she has not been able to regain her strength to actually endure the treatments. No one knows but our Lord what the days ahead will look like, but I knew (as did my sister Joie) that I needed to be there. Gary graciously said – Go! Stay as long as you are needed (or that my heart needs to be there). And so I am on my way. We covet your prayers as we face the days ahead – knowing that while Heaven is such a good thing for Elna, still we pray for more time with  her.  He is holding her and keeping her and we are trusting in His goodness to her.

A dear friend said to me “Hurting deeply is a beautiful sign that we have been blessed to have loved deeply.”  Yes, how blessed we are!

Steph

PS – I worked hard to get this blog up-to-date this last week because it could get pretty quiet in this little corner of the internet for the next little bit. You understand, right? Thanks!

Nieces

I have been blessed with six lovely nieces. Over the years we’ve kept track of them, rejoiced at their weddings, celebrated at the birth of their children and prayed for them in their times of need. One of the blessings of my recent trip to Vermont was being able to spend time with three of them and getting to know them on a whole new level!
First there was Heather, Elna’s oldest daughter –
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Let’s face it – 20 hours on the road and sharing a Econo-lodge double room sets the stage for a fair bit of conversation.
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Since Heather was the driver (and bless her heart, she did ALL the driving), I figured it was my job to keep the stories coming, right? There were historical stories (about her grandparents and great grandparents), there were travel stories (yes, I have a few of those), there were family stories (we do have a fair number of family members in common), and there were sister stories (her sister, my sisters – whatever!). We didn’t come close to solving the problems of the world, but we did share our hearts as she kept the pedal to the metal (within the speed limit of course!) heading north. I think one of the reasons we kept up the steady stream of stories was because when we paused we would remember just why we were in that little Honda for hours on end. It was easier to keep talking than to focus on the unknowns ahead.
Heather, that was a very long road trip we shared – and I’ll be treasuring each mile for a long while to come.

Then there was Chris, daughter #2 from the Fitzpatrick clan.
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Chris moved to Bradford (the same town where Elna & Henry live) last summer after she took a job at Dartmouth. She not only shared her lovely guest room with me,
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but she fed me, loaned me her car, supplied me with all sorts of winter gear and even convinced me to hike into the cabin after a fresh snow!
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It was a grand and beautiful day and a totally unexpected addition to this little Vermont jaunt.
Chris – Your hospitality was stellar! We are all so thankful you are close by Elna – and that you loves her so!

And then there was Bethany – Daughter #2 of Elna & Henry.
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Bethany, her dear hubby and two sweet little boys live in Utah, and she had flown in for the weekend. Given the limited visitor schedule, I didn’t get a lot of visiting time with Beth over the weekend (her first priority was time with Elna of course). However, since I was trying to figure out just how and when I was going to get back Florida and she was flying home on Monday, it seemed that a plan which involved getting to an airport via Beth was a good plan indeed. Thanks to some travel agent-type magic, Chris found me a flight out of the same airport, on the same airline, on the same day and virtually at the same time. Once again, God had worked out those details.
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And since the airport in question was JFK in New York City – it was another road trip in the making! We didn’t have as much time together as Heather and I, but it was still precious heart-sharing time.
Bethany – I was honored to share the time with you!

And so I could see God’s hand even in the uncertainty of those Vermont days.  He was holding us close – and we could feel it in every hug we shared.

UntitledThis past Sunday two of those nieces (along with several other family members) gathered at Elna’s for a big family visit. It might’ve been exhausting, but judging by the look on her face – it was well worth it!

Thank you for your prayers for Elna and our family. They have been appreciated – and felt!

Steph

 

 

 

PS – the header picture is from 2003. I can’t remember how we got all those girl cousins (except Sydney who was only 13) to our house but love this sweet memory. For those of you who know us  – L-R: Hannah, Heather, Lara, Chris, Abby, and Bethany =)

 

Was it just last week?

It’s been over a week. Our first week of SOWER work here at Lake Swan Camp is in the books. The monthly SOWER newsletter is complete and scheduled for next week. The backlog of emails has been sorted through, credit card statements have been printed and reconciled, and I finally feel like I have enough time to give proper attention to assigning words to last week’s Sisters’ Winter Getaway.
I think in order to truly convey how precious this time with my sisters is, a little back-story is needed.

Sisters


In the years since that pre-cruise post, we’ve actually had good success in adding a Winter Getaways to the rotation – once in Florida and then last winter at a sweet cottage on the southern tip of Lake Winnipesauke in New Hampshire.
So that brings us up to Winter 2022. Elna’s cancer has not gone away. Nor do we expect it to. But she’s holding her own and we stand amazed at the kindness of our Heavenly Father, who numbers our days, that he has given her these last four (mostly) good years. (And of course, we continue to pray that He gives her many, many more. We’re selfish that way!) Between cancer and COVID and the fact that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow, we knew that Winter Getaway 2022 needed to happen!  The cottage was reserved, the airline tickets were booked, and we prayed earnestly for good health for all of us (and our husbands!) so that nothing would impede this precious time. (With Omicron galloping through the country, I confess I stayed out of crowds for the three weeks preceding the trip just to be on the safe side.)
And in God’s goodness – nothing did!
From our first meal together
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to our last
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(and actually the only two meals we ate out!)
it was a grand time.
Once we got to our cottage, it was pretty much a repeat of last year’s goodness.
*Bird watching (from the comfort of the cottage)
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(How many birds can you see in this picture?)
*Avocado toast eating (complete with ‘crunchy salt’ and Everything Bagel Seasoning)
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*Game playing (Boggle, Wizard, Speed Scrabble (aka Bananagrams), Skip-bo were our favs this year)
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*Puzzle puzzling (4 – 1000 pcs puzzles!)
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As you might have noticed, we had an special guest over the weekend. We welcomed Joie’s daughter Christiana (a recent Vermont transplant)who came and helped with the puzzling and gaming and eating!
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And since she was here for the mini-blizzard (they called for 6-14 inches but we only got 4-6)
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she did also a great job of digging us out!
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For us, this is the perfect blizzard day activity.
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As for the chocolate eating – while there are no specific pictures of the chocolate that was consumed, if you look carefully at the first puzzle picture, you’ll see that it was always close by!

Such a beautiful week.  Memories made, memories refreshed.  I still don’t think I’ve found quite the right words to describe just how precious time with my sisters is, but this feeble attempt will have to do. What a lovely miracle from God when the sisters you were born with turn out to be your very best friends.  And we cannot thank God enough for every moment we get to be together.
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If you’d like to see some additional pictures – you can check them out HERE!

We’ve been through a lot

As sisters that is.
There’s the “Who’s turn to have the doll” trauma.
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Let’s not forget the Era of the Bangs.
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Which apparently ushered in the Perms.
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Then there were our fashion trends –
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Not even sure what was going on here.
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Our upholstery phase?

Yes, as sisters we’ve been through a lot! Bad hair cuts and questionable fashion choices aside, we’ve shared joys and disappointments, tears and laughter (oh, so much laughter), losses and gains. I do not for a moment take for granted the precious bond I have with my sisters and I thank God for them every day.

Today we celebrate Elna’s birthday,  so – Happy Birthday to a treasure of a sister and the dearest of friends. You are one of the kindest, bravest, most resilient people in my world and I am blessed to call you both a sister by birth, and a true sister in Christ.

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We even do the “no heat in the morning, bring coffee” situations together!

Happy Birthday, Elna! Hugs coming your way next month!

An Even Dozen

Here are a dozen things I learned during our Sisters’ Winter Getaway –
1. Don’t be afraid to think ‘outside of the box’ when it comes to planning a Sisters’ Getaway. When we realized that our Winter Getaway was going to be in New England instead of Florida, we began searching the traditional vacation rental websites – VRBO and AirBNB. While we weren’t too particular about location, it did need to be within driving distance from Hanover, NH (for some doctor appointments already scheduled) and it also had to be handicap accessible. Oh, and fit our budget! Nothing was really thrilling us, and we had even begun to check out different hotel/motel/suites options. Good for the handicap part, not so great for the ambiance. In my searches, down at the bottom of the page was a link to Alton Bay Christian Conference Center in the Lake Winnipesaukee area. Hmmmm. Wonder what they might have to offer. There in the Facilities tab was a little sub section called Cottages for Rent. And under that heading was one cottage.
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While there was only the one exterior photo, the description sounded great, and there was, after all, a “D” on the exterior. (The owners probably thought it stood for their family names, but we were pretty sure it stood for Dwinell!). Joie contacted them to get some additional details,  signed the contract  post haste, and we were good to go. I cannot express how perfect this little cottage was for us. Everything, from the view of the lake through the pine trees to the grab bars in the bathroom, was like God had picked it out for us! (And I do believe He did!)
Cottage love
2. Jigsaw Puzzles. There is no such thing as Puzzle Police. We enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles when we’re together– the conversation can continue and it’s a nice cooperative effort. Our first puzzle was a beautiful Vermont scene, but as we got further into it we realized we just weren’t that interested in all those fuzzy fall colored trees. When our rate of “piece finding” slowed to roughly 1 every hour, we decided to pack it up without completing it. (I’m happy to report our consciences were not seared and we were still able to sleep at night.) We like puzzles with lots of interesting things to find. Once we walked away from those evil trees, we enjoyed two other puzzles.
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Also – ALL puzzles work better when there is chocolate involved!
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3. It’s perfectly OK to have avocado toast for a late breakfast every day. It’s quite delightful actually! (We upgraded to some artisan bread after a couple of days – and that added a whole new level of deliciousness!)
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4. Eating two meals a day works just fine on vacation. Especially when Joie has brought all the fixin’s for homemade soup and rice pudding. And is ready to do the bulk of the cooking. (We’ve actually worked out a pretty good division of labor. Joie’s the main cook, Elna is the main dishwasher, and I’m the driver (and avocado toast maker).)
5. While I drink my coffee black 51 weeks of the year, when I’m with my sisters it’s coffee with whipping cream (none of that whimpy half and half for us!) all the way. We may or may not have gone through 7 pints of that liquid goodness during our time together (full disclosure – the rice pudding did use some too!).
6. All three of us are enthralled with watching birds at the feeder.
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Chickadees, tufted titmouses (tufted titmice?), nuthatches, a couple different types of woodpeckers, a pair of house finches, a lady cardinal, juncos, and (we think) a redpoll.
7. The squirrels were pretty fun to watch too!
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We got pretty innovative when it came to shooing them away, but I’d like to report that attempting to throw snowballs at them was less than effective. Though that could’ve been my terrible aim.
8. Meeting up with family is the BEST!!! We had a lovely lunch with Vermont family down in Keene and we’re so glad we could make the connection!
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9. Experiencing a Nor’Eastr during our time called for a little adjustment (changing doctor appointments to video calls), but all in all it was just a beautiful added dimension to our vacation.
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(Catch the snow INSIDE the bird feeder!)
Especially when our neighbor did such a stellar job of keeping us shoveled out!
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10. Lake Winnipesaukee is beautiful! On a crystal clear (and bitter cold) day we took a drive around the lake.
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All those huts are ice fishermen. Brrrrrrrrr
Lake Winnipesaukee
Weir Beach – not so many fishermen here!

11. Waking up with no heat one morning was a bit of a surprise, but huddling together near the little gas stove while we waited for the service guy wasn’t a bad way to spend the morning.
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The furnace was up and warming by 9:30, and the homeowner was very thankful that we were there when it happened. It could’ve been quite disastrous had it happened while the cottage was unoccupied.

12. Spending time with these two women, whom I am so blessed to call both sisters and sisters in Christ, is precious beyond words. We are so thankful for husbands who understand that our hearts need these times, and for a gracious Heavenly Father who orchestrated this year’s Winter Getaway right down to the sesame seeds for our avocado toast garnish.
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Saying farewell is always hard
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but husbands and real life call us back. Until next time, dear sisters, we’ll keep on Zooming! Real hugs are better, but just seeing your faces each week does my heart good!