Category Archives: Family and Friends

Pictures and stories of our dear family and friends

Happy Birthday America!

You are flawed to be sure! But I’d not want to live anywhere else!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
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And Happy 97th Birthday, Dad!
Dad
You were also flawed (as we all are!), but I’d not have wanted anyone else for a Dad! Still miss you, Dad, even after all these years!

Hometown Rewind

What a special time we had last week as we journeyed back to our “Hometown” for a lovely long weekend. Since we don’t have any immediate family back in Doylestown (PA) or even its close-by neighbors, we just don’t get back that way as often as we like. I can’t remember the last time we were both there, and I know it’d been almost 4 years since I made the trip. So there was a lot of catching up to do! We only had four days and there was a lot to cram in! Quilting friends, birthday buddies (sadly, no photo), high school friends, church friends…..

Every visit was a delight. Every visit a treasured memory.

But the initial reason for our jaunt into the Philadelphia suburbs was to attend the memorial service of a dear couple who had been a big part of our teenage years. Not only were they pillars in the church we attended, Leslie and Shirley Cruise were also the parents of some of our very best high school friends. Mr. & Mrs. Cruise (as we called them back then) passed away within days of each other earlier this year. She was 98 and he was 97 and they had been married over 75 years. Although we never knew  it when we were being crazy teenagers at their house, Les was part of the 82nd Airborne Division that parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day. Prior to his death, he was one of the last surviving members of that WWII division. As we learned of his story over the years, we remained in awe of this humble, Godly man. This was a service we were thankful to be able to attend. It was  full of military honor  – 21 gun salute, members of the current 82nd Airborne Division standing at attention during the ceremony,
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and the presentation of the flag to the family.
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The very plane that he jumped from on D-Day flew over the cemetery –
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and then it was available for tours and rides later in the day at a nearby airport.
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It was such a memorable day, from reconnecting with high school friends to paying tribute to one of the last of the “Greatest Generation”. What a legacy they leave behind!

Hometown Weekends! I think we need to schedule these a little more often!
Thanks for coming along for this little trip down memory lane!
Steph

 

 

PS – If you’d like to learn more about this remarkable man and his life and legacy, here is an article written about his service and a video done several years ago.

One more thing – the house in the header photo is the house I lived in before I got married. I think it needs a good power washing, don’t you?  Still, it was fun to drive through that old neighborhood!

Sabbath Rest – O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

My sister Elna loved hymns. Rich, spirit filled hymns that you find in those hymnals in those racks on the back of the pews. Remember those? When cancer reared its ugly head (again) in 2018 and the prognosis was not looking very hopeful, she sat down and shared some thoughts about what some of those hymns taught her.

I really wanted to be here with you today, but since I knew I couldn’t, I prepared a few words ahead of time to share with you all.

Many of you know that I love hymns, and often I am amazed at the discernment and depth of the words. One that struck me last summer, perhaps in some way preparing me for this journey, is an old favorite from childhood—“For the Beauty of the Earth”. I have sung this for years, recognizing it as a hymn of praise and gratitude for all of creation—and in fact, it covers an awful lot of earthly existence in its lines. But I was caught up by the final phrase of the last verse one Sunday morning—it didn’t make sense to me as the words went by, so I went back to it. “…flowers of earth and buds of heaven.”

Buds of heaven?? I stopped to consider what that might be, and have not stopped since! My first thought was that flowers on earth are but buds of what they will be in Glory. But then I went on thinking about it, and it seems like most everything here on earth—all the good things, all the things we are thankful for—are only foretastes, buds, of Heaven. That has been a very exciting thought these past few months, and has set the background for so many glimpses into Glory.

Another light that came on for me was in the sixth verse of “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (Please, please sing ALL the verses!):
Hear him, ye deaf; his praise ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; ye blind, behold your Savior come; and leap, ye lame, for joy!

I have always gravitated to this verse, looking forward to actually leaping for joy, but recently I realized that it is not about me, at all, but about the joy of being with Jesus, and I won’t be able to keep from leaping when I see Him! None of us will!

God, in His great mercy, gave her another four years after she wrote those words. I had a really hard time finding a video that did have ALL the verses. (I also learned in my research that there are many, many verses (like 18!) which I’m sure was not her intent!) This one was as close as I could find. “And leap, ye lame, for joy!”

1. O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

2. My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

3. Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
’tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’tis life, and health, and peace.

4. He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

5. He speaks, and listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

6. Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

 

Mother’s Day – 2022

It was a very different Mother’s Day this year for me. Oh, my kiddos called and gave me lots of Momma love, and we even celebrated the day at a lovely luncheon put on by a very special niece and nephew. It was a beautiful spring day (after two solid days of rain) and there was love abounding. But still, it was hard. My lovely Mom has been in Heaven 26 years, but I still miss her – especially on these Hallmark card days. And since I remember well the ‘hard’ of those first couple of Mother’s Days in the years following Mom’s passing, I was especially aware of how hard this day must’ve been for my nieces and nephew who lost their mom just a week ago. Today on social media, Bethany posted these words –

My mother, my favorite person in all the world, is not here, not reachable by phone or touch or text or…but that invisible string maybe… and I’m so glad she gave her life to love. In honor of her daily choice to love and love more and fight and stay standing, I will say as she said “I just want to be more full of Jesus.”

May we all say the same!
And in her honor also –

I will pray rejoicing from my heart
Pray rejoicing from my heart
For in Him my victory’s lifted high
His salvation is my cry
He has overcome my enemies
Our praises scorn the enemy
I delight in His deliverance
The Lord is our deliverance

Pass the promise
To our sons and daughters
God most high, God our Father
We bear witness

There is no one holy like the Lord
Holy, holy is the Lord
Our Rock and refuge is our God
All the earth belongs to God
Do not speak with pride of noble deeds
For the Lord will weigh our every deed
See the strong have lost, the weak have gained
And from the dust my life He raised

Pass the promise
To our sons and daughters
God most high, God our Father
We bear witness

He will guard the feet of faithful ones
He will hold His faithful ones
But the wicked they will not prevail
Not by might will man prevail
He is coming soon to judge the earth
He is coming soon to judge the earth
For the Lord gives power to His King
All Strength to His Anointed King

Pass the promise
To our sons and daughters
God most high, God our Father
We bear witness [x4]

We bear witness [x2]

Walking Elna Home

Last Saturday (4/30) my sister Elna slipped into heaven to meet her Savior whom she had loved since her early teens. As she left this life behind, she was surrounded by her two daughters and husband of 50 years. The room was filled with love. And tears.
Such sweet memories we have of those last weeks with Elna. Some of the sweetest center around her quick wit that continued to surface even as her body weakened.
One evening, before she moved to the hospital bed in the living room, we (Heather, Bethany, Chris, Joie & I (aka the Team)) were gathered around the bed peppering her with questions.
“Do you need another pillow?”
“Do you want to get up to use the bedside commode?”
“Do you want to put your brace on (per the previous question)?”
“Do you want another sip of juice?”
“Do you think you might want to poop?” (Yes, there were a fair number of body function questions being asked.)
Finally there was a pause. She looked at us and said – “I think I need to “Phone a Friend”! Call Dr. Mike – maybe he knows the answer!” Took us a while to stop giggling over that one.

When the day came to move her down the hall to her ‘new digs’ – the hospital bed in the back of the living room – she looked up at Beth (who was gently explaining the move as she pushed the wheelchair) and said with a straight face – “Does everyone have my forwarding address?”

UntitledEncouraging her to eat brought another slew of questions.
“How about a bagel this morning?”
“Maybe some chicken?”
“How about a bite of this brownie?”
“Lora brought some homemade tapioca? Does that sound good?”
When we finally got around to offering her a Pringle potato chip, her face would break into a grin- “I thought you’d never ask!” she’d say in her quiet sweet voice.  More chuckling ensued!

And just in those last quiet days while I was trying to entice her with one of her long-time favorites, a soft boiled egg with buttery toast, the questions came again –
“Are you ready for another bite?”
“Do you want a bite with toast?”
“This bite has lots of yolk. Does that sound good?”
Finally she looked at me – “Are you egging me on?”

Many more memories – and many more tears and smiles – will be recorded here in the coming days. But for now I just want to remember the sweetest sound of her joining us in our hymn sing each night.
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Precious Elna – you were the best of us! We’re so happy for your official New Address, but oh how our hearts are aching!