Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look what He can do -

I couldn't wait to blog this. It only happened about 1 hour ago, but I couldn't wait to write it all down. I love love writing it all down and having it make sense and flow into a story.

But I also didn't want to blog it. Because I didn't want to "cover up" all the beautiful posts below. Is that silly? Am I the only one who thinks like that? It's not like a page is turned, the post is below it, and will still be in view. Just not the first view. And sometimes when I blog something from my heart right over something else from my heart that meant something totally different, people kind of go "whuuut? she's like a rollercoaster!!". Or at least, that's what my oversensitive self-conscious tells me until I tell it not to care. ;) Am I the only one? HAHAa. Please say I'm not the only one. Please. Leave me a comment and tell me it's not just me.

And please say that you like reading posts about what I discovered about my heart in the rain. And that you like looking at mediocre pictures that I take of light bokeh. And that you don't care that I can't write like a poet, you just like hearing my heart anyways. ;)
*tries to almost take it back, because I sound too honest*

Too late for it all, because my heart is steaming full ahead, and the wind that I felt calls me to write. Write and share the glory. Write!!

*Note: Italics in the post below are what my soul poured forth in those moments. Bold and Italics is Scripture. This isn't always how I blog, but it's true for this post. :) *

I wish you could have seen it. The thunderstorm blew in so fast, that in 5 minutes, we went from sunset evening to rolling, rumbling, swirling clouds of royal blue with winds that promised rain. Lucy Mae and I raced back inside to avoid being pelted with small sticks and pinecones, and then I pushed the button to raise the garage door. To watch in safety.

There wasn't any lightning, and I do love the wind. I love the glorious wind. It so often feels like the very breath of God filling all the air around me. So I threw safety aside, and stepped out onto the driveway. The wind was blustering through the trees, and lifted the hair away from my face, going in and around my whole self. Like it was emptying me of me, and filling me with itself.

I could look down our driveway, towards the North, where there were no dark rainclouds, but only the light light teal blue clouds that had been pushed ahead.

"Look what lies up ahead there. That is so beautiful."

I raised my head and tilted my face to the sky. Water started to spatter across the pavement, it began to drip onto my forehead, and slide down my cheek. The wind began to blow furiously, and the silence poured itself intensely into a pressure that comes right before all the rain comes down.

and in the silence and engulfing wind, my heart calls out -

"Is this what being next to You feels like?"

"Is this. Is this like what it is?"

I ran back inside the garage as the wind pulled apart the blue clouds and bumped them all together into different shapes, twirling inside each other, and smoothing out into lines of dark grey. With a pause and then a swoosh, the heavens opened and the rain came out.

"It is. Because You have created this. You have made this! You have made this thunderstorm, and made it to rain! You glory in this, and I marvel at this! Rejoicing in what you do, is glorying in You! Praising You is being close to You."

"But this is small. This is a lot of joy over a small rain. This is a small glimpse of how magnificent any rain or anything will be. This is joy in part, then it will be joy to the full!"

"There is MORE. More than all this little joy. This is a lot, but there is more!"

the bokeh of lanterns....

The smell of fresh water filled the air, pulling me into the presence of peace. No lightning, no thunder, no grumbling roar or bright illumination. But the neighbor's light that always glows so comfortingly in the darkness of night spilled across it all. Through the waving palmettos and elms, you could make out the wind. You could make out where light turned into dancing patterns through the drops of water on the pavement, turning into misty reflections.

Nothing but joy and excitement .... and my heart exulting -

"Look what He can do!!!! HE brings forth the wind and the rain!! "

Our own light turned the water streaming down into threads of silver -

My heart ached, thinking about those hurting tonight. A best friend of my best friend, losing her baby. The grief that is shared. The tears that are being shed. The raw pain.

The light across the way turning into a heart.
"Look, my soul. Look and remember this all."

"Look what He gives and provides. Look what light does in the camera!"

The wind and streams of water begin to die down...there is a tangible shift in the air, as the front passes over, and the earth begins to sigh. The fresh wetness hangs in the softer breeze, and I creep close to the pitter pattering water that flows over the edge of the roof.

I cautiously hold one hand out, afraid to bring the camera too close.

I bring my heart out instead, and I pray as I leave the little moment of glorious grace.

"Please don't let me ever forget what this feels like. This ... being - close to You. Please let me always feel Your pleasure when I glory in the littlest things that You give for our joy."

"Please don't let me grow out of the knowledge that finding joy in You is like being right next to You. That's a joy I never want to lose, and I only want to gain more and more and more, until it is all fully realized in the Holy Place, where I will cast my crown before Your throne and kneel in exultation of pure. fulfilled. exulting. magnificent. overwhelming. realized. JOY."

Praying for those hurting tonight .... be still, my friends. God is at Thy side.
With so much love, and rejoicing in grace poured out daily upon me,
~ Jean Marie ~

"God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.
For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth';
Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength."
~ Job 37: 5-6 ~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My lovely friend Lauren -

So I have this drop-dead gorgeous friend. and her name is Lauren.

you already knew that? Well, aren't you special. You must know her too. ;)

We here in Florida think she's something miiighty special. We like having pictures taken with her. We like smiling. We like hugging. and we like dancing together. ;)

Like these three lovies. I am so thankful for their friendships - it means so much!

Tricia, EmilyCase, and Lauren at a dance in January.

So the drop-dead gorgeous best friend named Lauren .... has turned 23 today. As I gleefully reminded her last night, she was turning OLD AS THE HILLS. She was grateful. not. But I have to give something back. She gives me an awful hard time about being 28 days older. So now we are both 23. I have decided 23 is the age of Graciousness & Gracefullness, Gorgeousness and Generousness.
(yes, I know its supposed to be Generosity, but just flow with me)

So this is her birthday post....and I was sure that I had blogged last year for her birthday and guess what. I did not. Not on her birthday at least. Isn't that SAD? I'm sorry, Lauren! *smile*

So I was getting ready to blog again, for the 2nd time today for a birthday, and I found this picture, and I sort of went to pieces. Because it's my favorite portrait of the spring. Ooohmyword. I adore grey and I adore Lauren and I adore that steel wall.

and it just looks so Jane Austen. So perfectly-lovely Lauren. Mm-WAH!

(inserts yell of Jean Marie like delight about it)

Okay. Back to birthday blogging. ;) On my Mama's birthday, we were up in Palm Coast, and called the Hopes to see if they'd like to go to Mama's birthday dinner with us. And they said they would. And so we went out and had a delightful time and shared dessert and sang. ;)

So these pictures are all from June 17th, 2011. :)

Dear Lauren - you are pretty. Thank you for being my friend. I love you. The End.

Ok, I realize that I can't just write that, but I was looking through pictures from when I was little today, and I thought that's exactly what I would have written if I was 10. :)

Lauren - I am so grateful for you!! Ahh, Let me count the ways:

1. You are my HTML Intellect Person. You keep me sane when I mess something up, and you tell me how to make other things work, when clearly - I missed something important. ;)

2. You let me take pictures of you. AND you let me blog them AND You smile in the pictures.

3. You encourage me in photography. I don't think I've ever heard you tell me anything other than "You can do it. It takes practice, but you will get it!!". You share tips, and critique photos and give feedback and teach me how to do it all better. :) Thank you, thank you!

this is what happens when a Nikon d40 takes a picture of a flashing Nikon d90. Awesome, huh?

4. You take pictures with me, anywhere and everywhere. We were in the bathroom at the Country Club for Mama's birthday, and when Mama came to get us, she told everyone that we were probably "having a photoshoot in the bathroom". How well she knows us. ;) haha.

these are going to go fast now:

5. You hold me when I cry.
6. You pray for me when I can't pray for it, or don't want to anymore.
7. You love my family.
8. You love Lucy Mae (and she loves you!!)
9. You talk about dogs with me for hours. (hahahaha)
10. You make delicious food, and I get to eat it sometimes.
11. You love going to the beach, and you love everything about the beach like me.
12. You came down and watched the last shuttle with us.
13. You listen when I need to talk, and talk when I don't know what to say.
14. You let me have a lot of sleepovers at your house when I was too tired to drive home. ;)
15. You talk into the night when you know its important.
16. You tell me that for the 19384th time, I didn't send a pic with my e-mail. HAHA.
17. You love your friends and are very loyal and forgiving.
18. You serve your family and work hard for your family's business.
19. You laugh hysterically at something I said, which makes me feel wonderful. :D
20. You tell me its okay to be quiet when I'm feeling out of it and you just have a good time with me anyways.

21. You steal my purple sweater because you love it.

I just had to throw this one in .... it was the most graceful, old-fashioned Secret Garden looking picture ... and then I was like "you know, it'd be better if that sleeve wasn't draping down", and Lauren was like "oh great." then I couldn't look at the picture without laughing! ah, real life. ;D Hahahahahaa!

22. You love me, and you display that love in friendship in such a dear, precious, tender, close way that I want us to be friends forever. I love being friends with you. My Lowie.

23. Most of all! - You love Jesus. You love Him, and you want to serve Him wholeheartedly ... doing everything for the glory of God. Being His child in every way. And He shines through you in beauty, in peace, in joy, in rest, in excitement, in laughter, in hard times and good. You are beautiful with the light of Christ upon your face, my dear friend and sister.

And there are 23 reasons why I love being friends with you, and sisters in Christ!! :D

Thank you for blessing and encouraging me, and for being such a dear friend to me. Thank you for sharing memories and life and valleys and mountains. The Lord will always be gracious, and He will always be faithful, and His plans for our dreams are better than we can imagine!

I'm stealing that verse you blogged this morning, because I'm praying it for you now. :)

"For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother's womb.
My praise shall be continually of You."
~ Psalm 71: 5-6 ~

May our praise be continually of the loving Savior we adore, and flow from our hearts with gratefulness! Knowing that He will always uphold you, wherever you are, Lauren.

I love you so much, dear sister in Christ! Happy 23rd birthday!!!!
I hope you had a beautiful and fantastic day. :D and that this made it a little more bouncy. :)
Love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

See EmilyCase's post for her here. :) "Delightful Lauren"

To my beloved piano teacher -

When I think about trying to tell someone about my piano teacher, I get, well ... rather stuck. And as I wrote her a birthday card, I told her that if I tried to tell her everything she is to me, it would end up like a BOOK. could see how that would take too long for now. :)

Truth is, before she was my piano teacher, she was our dear family friend, and her family were our dear family friends, and before she was my piano teacher, she was Kimberly's piano teacher. Well, at whatever age I was that I decided I wanted to play as well, I simply wasn't....attentive or ready enough. ;) Mrs. Drobnick has often said that she tried everything to hold my attention and I was just not there yet. ;) hahaha.....I do remember looking in awe at her hands that could span soo many more keys than my little ones could. And I LOVED to swing my legs on that piano bench. That actually didn't stop until I had to use the pedal.

So, we waited a little while for me to be a little older, but Kimberly still had lessons. Lessons were at Mrs. Drobnick's house. Kimberly would have her lesson, and I would be enthroned somewhere on a couch with a TV tray and a wonderful lunch and dessert, watching a movie, drinking lemonade or chocolate milk and being completely happy that it was "Lesson Day". :D Hahahaha. And then I'd skip over to Grandma Dorcas's house that was built onto the house, and knock on the door, to be welcomed in for a hug and some candy, and a little chat.

It's no small wonder that I didn't try to move in sometime to the Drobnick's house. ;) Interestingly, I adored their black and tan dachshund Chloe, and thought the sun rose and set on her. And their German Shepherd, Katie. I always thought that B & T Dachshunds were the best dogs ever. I always wanted one. And now .... I have one, and I know that they are the best dogs ever. ;)

In short, I adored (and still do) the Drobnicks, and loved taking lessons once I got old enough. I still, though, have a smaaaaall habit of trying to play out what Mrs. D. says and not quite listen to what she's saying before I play it out. ;)

(My 2nd recital. Spring Recital, May 2nd, 1997. I was almost 9, and Kimberly was 10 1/2)

Mrs. D. took a break a few years ago, and I tried to play with another teacher. Don't get me wrong, the other teacher was wonderful and a great pianist....but I didn't practice enough because I wasn't going "to disappoint Mrs. Drobnick". ;)

Then she started teaching again....and in the last four years or so, something has changed in the way I play. I don't know ... mostly filling the piece with emotion instead of getting the notes right. Of course, I try to get the notes right...but it's no longer my highest priority. If I like the way I play it, and the way I play it means something .... forget the way it was written. ;)

This has become the biggest thing for me in recent years and recitals!! As somewhat of a perfectionist in music, I want it to be perfect, the moment to be perfect, and because I did it that way. Mrs. Drobnick has never ever been an advocator for perfection. :) She loves it when we pour our hearts and souls into our pieces, and emerge loving what just happened.

.... and when we feel it too, we begin to see that perfection is not, and has not ever been ... the goal.

I've said it before - my Daddy made my memories of childhood be filled with guitar music and bluegrass, he taught me to love music, and Mrs. Drobnick taught me everything else.

All that being said .... over the years something has deepened. Not only is she my beloved piano teacher, she has become a best friend as well. Confidant, encourager, comforter, and teacher.

There have been days when I am simply not. up. for. it. Not any of it. Not any piano, not any music, and not any life. And I'm sure she has so many days that she doesn't want to teach. But she always comes to the front door with a welcoming smile on her face and a hug waiting for me, and patience when I didn't practice. ;)

Oh me. The horrible student. ;)

But something of grace has fallen upon these past few years of lessons.

I've come in many days with a heavy heart and eyes smudged with wet mascara, and in the middle of the lesson, it all comes out, and she pats me on my back. Then we go on, and when I leave I get a long hug, a wave out the door, a called "I love you!", and my trek down their steep hill of a driveway is with a smile and a lightened heart. Through the rain or heavy heat, through the dash under showering water through the dancing blossoms of spring, or the slow walk under the windy bending branches and past the jasmine bushes that smell like Heaven.

And I've come to the heart feeling that its when all is surrendered, and all is given, and all that this is is the moment when He is here .... that I am led by music to the places of worship before His throne. That the stillness when the music stops and the silence is deeper than us two breathing. When I open my eyes and realize they had been closed and feel the gospel explained yet again.

(June 3rd, 2011. Spring Recital ~ Me pouring out my heart, and Mrs. Drobnick sitting close.)

Music plumbs the depths of my soul. Music is when words fail, and says what we cannot. :) I don't think I ever feel so vulnerable than when I sit down and open my heart and pour myself into a piece. There have been so many times when I have, and simply lost it at the end. It was okay, because I've always said "I play for Jesus first and for His glory, then for Mrs. Drobnick, and then for everyone else.".

Sometimes its just easiest to say that we speak music together. :) Its often funny, because I will say one thing, that as I say it, it makes no sense whatsoever, but she is delighted and says "YES! that will work perfectly! let's do it!", and so we write it in. I love that she knows exactly what I mean, and I love that she teaches me with so much patience and grace and I love that she loves me more than making sure we use all the time in the lesson for only piano.

She is not only my beloved piano teacher....she is best friends to my Mom, the Mom of one of my best friends, and the Grammy to some of my favorite children in the world. She is husband to a guy that has been one of my favorite people in the world, even though when he looks like he might tease you, you should watch out. ;) HAHAa. She has walked valleys that no Mother ever wants to, and praises her Lord through all the questions and tears. She is one of the Godliest, most precious women I've ever known, and obviously, I adore her. :)

She has blogged God's truth from the Bible and years of Saints and encouragement amid honesty, and you can read it here - MaryCathD's Blog. If you read it over the course of a year, and then read it again, or just read it all in one day! Wow. ;) I promise you will be blessed. Because I have been. Over and over and over. :)

For those days when life made no sense and all I wanted to do was weep and weep, because God did not heal when we asked Him to, or when there was no visible promise of healing, you reminded me that He is worth it. He is worth it, and Heaven is worth it.

Thank you for so touching my life and holding me close through some of the weeping.

I love you more than you will ever know.

You have blessed me and my family, and we love to call you our extended family.
Thank you for all your years of teaching and love and recitals and "good job" on my writing tablet. Thank you for that cup of tea that meant the world to me. Thank you for all your hugs amid tears, and laughing about nothings. Thank you for pushing me when I needed it, and always telling me I could do it. Thank you for telling me that you will never be disappointed in me, and for reminding me almost weekly over the years Who we play for, and why we play that way. I know I will always remember you teaching me our favorite hymns and pieces, and your smile when I would finish. Such glory.

I hope to always play the piano, and always feel God's pleasure when I play for His glory.

Happy Birthday to the best piano teacher in the world, and my beloved friend!!!
~ Jean Marie ~

P.S. I think one of my first recital pieces was called "Window shopping". ;) and it was a DUET. :)

(looks like this blog post DID almost turn into a book. ;)
"The Book of the Best Piano Teacher in the World, who also happened to be a best friend of mine and one of the Godliest women I know. Stories of our lessons together." haha. ;D

Thursday, July 21, 2011

She's Home -

"At 5:57 am EST, Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down on Runway 15 on July 21. After 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles, the landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida brought to a close 30 years of space shuttle flights." ~ NASA

This morning was so beautiful. It was sweet and special and as we held our breath in anticipation with out-of-towners and people who've lived and breathed Space Age, I stood next to my Momma, and watched as Atlantis flew home, dropping out of the sky at a speed so fast, you had to pinpoint her almost immediately.

It was beautiful and fittingly so. Because this is my life. She and Columbia, Discovery and Endeavour (and Challenger, indirectly) have been my life for all my 23 years. Space Age and Space Station Program has been the air I've lived and breathed since I was born.

It was a perfect moment, and in all the struggling and hurt and anguish and disappointment between watching her go up, and waiting for her to come home ..... JOY was supreme and PRIDE ruled over to watch her glide into her Homeland and her Home. Here with us. With those that love her the best.

Momma and I stayed there at the docks as night turned to dawn, and dawn flowed like a dream into sunrise. Dolphins quietly surfaced, drawing "oohs" and "awws", and Manatees showed up to surface as well, their air bubbles following them, and the seagulls began to fly over the Indian River.

She had drawn cheers from me, and from all of us as she coasted into landing. The pier rang with our joyful exultation, and clapping. My heart won't ever forget the sight of her flying in so perfectly, wings in full view, a seemingly tiny figure, but in detail enough to know her well.

After the dawn, the sun began to open up her eyes and began to pour her color all upon the water, the sharing began. Everything from showing each other pictures on cameras, to listening quietly to the live audio feed on the iphones from NASA, to taking each other's pictures, to latecomers taking pictures of the live iphone feed, to talking about past landings and launches, to just lingering there. Not wanting to leave. Staying in the moment. Being near.

I don't think it could have been more perfect or amazing. I was so so blessed.

It was so peaceful and beautiful in a way I never ever expected. Today, what I anticipated as being such a horrible day for me, God graciously turned into one of the most joyously-deep moments of my life, to tuck this last memory into a treasure trove of Space memories.

God has been good, and kept our men and women safe. He has preserved us, and always will. His love with never fail us, and His plans for us are farther than we can go in space, or ever will go. He loves us more than all Earth and Space and Moon and Sun. He will do great things!

and She is Home, here. She is Home to stay.

I am Home here. I am Home in the Lord. Home in the Lord always to stay.

Welcome Home, Atlantis. You will hold a place in my heart forever that nothing can touch. You and Discovery, Endeavour, Columbia, and Challenger and all my NASA family. I salute you in pride and hold you forever in my heart with joy.

With love,
~ Jean Marie ~

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don't miss 5:56AM EST tomorrow-

Don't miss 5:56 AM EST tomorrow morning, Thursday, July 21, because ........

ATLANTIS is coming back! She's landing tomorrow morning. And you can watch it HERE. LIVE. on NASA TV. you won't believe how amazing it is. Until you watch it. :)

So join me. And pray a prayer of thanks that she's home safe with her precious cargo of 4.

or you can watch NASA tv at FLASH UStream here -

With pride,
~ Jean Marie ~

John Greenleaf Whittier -

Photo taken in late a special place where peace comes down to rest on me.

" Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace."

~ John Greenleaf Whittier ~

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 things I'm thankful for -

Five things I am thankful for today:

1. Beautiful shade under an oak tree shared with an old friend. Dog-sitting is so great when the dog really loves to lay on your tummy in the shade and get head rubs and look cute. :) (I'm also really happy that a secret project I did today turned out well.) :)

2. The light underneath that tree was so gorgeously filtered at 3pm. The breeze was rustling the oak branches, and I couldn't believe the natural white light that lit up through my lens. I adore natural light like that. I also adore any summer breeze that lifts the heat from my face. :)

3. I'm thankful for the sun, and the way it makes beautiful color off my lens. I love how the most common shape I get out of sunflare is a square cross. Jesus, keep my heart on the cross.

4. Pretty purple flowers. I don't think I've ever taken a picture of these before, even though we've had them around the house since I can remember.

5. Clouds. Clouds getting all glowy and yellow and pink, filling up with the sunset glory just fills my heart up as fast. I love Sunset Clouds, and I love the way they move and shape continually. One second you see a baby, then you see a wave, and then you just see cotton candy. :)

Clouds make me verra' verra' happeh.

Can you see the beautiful Gibson style lady in this cloud? her face is so lovely! dainty.

and look at the sunset light. Summer sunset light has to be one of Earth's biggest glories. :)

I had so much fun with this one. :) Becs assures me that it's good to have an imagination like's proof that we actually can dream of things, instead of just seeing boring clouds. :)

One thing I was not thankful for, and I don't think I will ever be. Skeeters. I have dubiously started calling myself Skeeter Bait. Thank God the Insecticide Man of All Wonderness is coming through tonight to kill them off. (and I can't believe I blogged a skeeter pic. NEH)

Some other precious parts of the day I was thankful for -
* Eating Steak 'N Shake in the car with my Momma, eyes brimming over with love for each other, bouncing around to "Little Bitty" Country song together, and being with her.

*That hilariously disgusting moment when the Greta (the dog I was babysitting), walked past a buzzing horsefly, and chomped it up off the sidewalk. My reaction? "EW. THAT IS NASTY. I AM NOT KISSING YOU ANYMORE." It crunched. and she ate it. and it was EW. But she looked so "queen of the jungle at my kill" that I had to laugh anyways.

* Driving home with alllll the windows down in my Mom's SUV. that's 5 of them. The wind blowing the Country out, Country-fying the rest of the cars....a favorite Josh Turner song on, my hand out the window, flying through the breeze. The way the sunlight spilled gold on everything, and the way my heart beat out "the kingdom of God. This counts forever." like it does in the special times.

* Waving to the neighbors with smiles and hello's.

* That blue heron that flew overhead so gracefully, reminding me that I'm blessed to live in the South. Reminding me that this is Home.

* The most excited and enraptured puppy running around in joy that I'm home after only an hour and a half. Now that is love. :)

* Listening to Mozart and Kate Rusby.

* Getting asked in Walgreens if the pictures I ordered were professional, because I would need a signed consent for them to be able to print them. :) Or did I take them? Yes, yes, I did. Then they had me fill out a form, saying that any more orders are my pictures, and I own them, and that if anyone comes in with pictures, that I can sue (basically). This only made me think of Lena Lamont from Singing in the Rain. "I KIN SUUUEEE....whaaa?" hahahhaha.

But it made me feel awesome and amazing to have them rave about my pictures, and when I told them a little backstory, the one lady put her hand on her heart and said that she almost cried just looking at the pictures. So professional, she said. :) It was sweet. :)

And that was my day .... its the little things that remind me how blessed I am. :)
How was your day? :) What did YOU see in the cloud pictures? :D Do tell.....
With love,
~ Jean Marie ~

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blessed Assurance! -

"Blessed Assurance" by Fanny Crosby

"Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love!

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long!"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stream of Pictures -

Sometimes trying to pour out the fullness of my heart into words, simply isn't enough.

Pictures, even, aren't enough. Because what I would try to explain wouldn't mean that you were there with me, feeling your heart explode and knowing that right then, would only be right then. We'd have to wait until the spinning around in joy moment where God calls Heaven.

We'll have to wait a little longer. When we finally make it Home.

So editing a few pictures to this song can really just make you in the mood for not trying to talk too much, and instead - taking some time, and just .... waiting. Staying close, inside this veil, waiting for the lifting and the ripping of the curtain, singing into the sleepless night,
for He is here. He is here, beloved, by your side, so talk on, and let sleep go for a little longer.

(pictures taken from May 2011 to July 2011)

2 Corinthians 1:7
"And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation."

With love, and long hugs,
~ Jean Marie ~

Monday, July 11, 2011

Since July 11th, 2010 -

Today marked 1 yr. since this - the loss of Mopsie.

It was 2010. 4 & 1/2 weeks before my 22nd birthday, my honorary grandfather had died unexpectedly, and I was still reeling and kneeling in grief. My 22nd birthday came and went with some of the sweetest glories and blessings of friends of the whole of 2010 put together. A time of grace in between deep and desperate valleys.

Less than 2 weeks after my 22nd birthday, our dog died in my arms on a Sunday.
Less than 2 weeks, and she was gone.

Everything that had made a little sense when I'd come home in the afternoons and the days from long trips to Orlando and back and everything in between, every little comfort that Home had held, my safe haven from life's storms .... none of it made sense anymore. Because that one little joy that spilled over and filled my life 24-7 with friendship and love was suddenly gone.

It was literally the last straw for me. After huge losses and griefs that this couldn't even touch, that losing a dog couldn't even start to plumb the depths of losing someone else, I was a free heart. That's the only way I can think of it. Nothing could possibly touch me now. That was it. I don't even know how many times I told people that. And I can't even explain it. But I felt free that I didn't have to worry about the horrible happening, because it just had. It was a surreal thing to be feeling .... and I'm not sure it even makes sense. But it was how I felt.

I'm not going to lie - it was almost the hardest day of my life. Probably one of the most traumatic, as I had never had anyone, or anything, die right in front of me. I never pray for memories to erase, but I've said countless prayers to remove those nightmare moments from my mind. They are seared in. I pray to forget.

There is a mental block for me. I will physically shake my head, or blink it away, and just make my brain stop. Stop. Maybe next year it will be less raw. Maybe the year after that. Maybe in 9 years I could blog a memory. Maybe I won't think about it as much, and it will fade.

What I didn't tell or blog at the time, was that Kimberly and I were home alone, my parents were in GA on a Sound Project my dad was doing for a church. Alone, on a Sunday afternoon, with a dog that was very sick and the closest open Vet ER 45 minutes away. In so so many ways, though, I'm so grateful that my Mom wasn't there. Mopsie was her dog, and I'm glad that she doesn't have the nightmare memories that I have. My parents really have no idea. I'm glad they don't. Even sobbing it out on the phone to them doesn't come close to actually being there.

A few days later, my parents came home to a quiet house, and we would bury her.
I would pull the weeds from around the piled up dirt at her grave in panic that it had to be perfect and neat.
The thought of it makes my chest ache so badly.

I spent too many nights in nightmares and terror, even after we had Lucy Mae.
Again, up goes the mental block ....

I don't want to remember. I don't want to think about it.

I missed her for 5 months, and 1 week, and somewhere in there, I started begging God for a dog. All I wanted for Christmas was a dog. I didn't care what she cost, and I didn't care what age she was, I just wanted a baby girl dachshund. I wanted her so so bad. I had spent my grieving days curled up with Buttercup (Laurie's dog), taking naps and cuddling with her, and it made perfect sense to buy the dog I'd always wanted. Mom and Dad didn't know how serious I was. ;)

5 months and 1 week after July 11th, I held that prayer answered in my arms, and named her Lucy Mae. My heart broke in a very real way, and then healed in the moments that I realized she was mine. Right then counted forever. :) Grace, prayer answered in a visual, tangible, real way that I could love and see for years. :) Our little Lucy Mae puppy. :)

Since then, she has continued to heal that scar and fill me with joy!! So much joy.

So, today, on July 11th's honor - a few pictures of what God has given after He took away.

He has been faithful.

I love her so so very much.

Today I came home from time with Becs, desperate to be with my puppy. We took a nap together, curled in the blankets, smelling her sweet dachshund smell, waking up to thunder rumble across the sky, feeling her warm self next to my arm.

We played hide and go seek in the dark house, running around and her pretending to be scared, and me giggling in hilarity .... we rough-housed, and she pounced on her toys and wagged her tail. I taught her how to play peek-a-boo, and she took 5 minutes to finally find me hiding in the shower. She kissed my face dozens of times and I kissed her head dozens of times. :)

and then I made that little sign and she chewed it into a crinkled heart and we took these pictures.

and I felt myself heal again. for the millionth time since I knew she was mine. :D

How faithful and gracious He has been!!! It has been heartbreaking and wonderful to see the ways that God has deepened my valleys and my joys!

It is not so much the not-remembering, the praying away the bad to remember the good,
it is remembering that in those moments when we prayed to just let her go, He said yes.
And she was gone. And He was there. He was there.

One more thing I would love to mention - we were so so supported by our dear friends at that time. Between phone calls, and handling everything and comments on FB, e-mails, and here, on the blog - we were so blessed and prayed for. Thank you again!!! It meant the world to me.

With love, and rejoicing in the gift that God gives when we need comfort most - Himself,
and the littler but also very precious gift of Lucy Mae,
~ Jean Marie ~

Free Slurpee Day -

To tell you how much of a non-Slurpee person I am, I have to say that I spelled Slurpee wrong three times writing the title before I got it right. And then I googled it to make sure. I didn't even know what Slurpees tasted like until I met the Fosters. Isn't that SAD? My Mom's shaking her head "no" right now.... ;) Probably so is Momma Foster. hahahah.

So today Becs and I got all gussied up in our boots and skirts and went to Sunrise for smoothies and granitas and went to the park to swing on the swings. You know what else was there? Besides us and the sandhill crane family? The humidity and the skeeters. And after we swang on the swings (is it swang? swung? why am I striking out on grammar today?) for 20 minutes, we started feeling ill. And all thoughts of a lovely photoshoot went out of my head. I was SO not in the mood. So we hopped in the car, sang along to Country and went to Target, and THEN, we stopped by 7-11, and got FREE Slurpies because today is 7-11.

and then....AND THEN I got the Blue Alien Juice flavor that is Strawberry, Blueberry and Lemon, and don't ask me how blueberry makes that color, because we all know it's killer dye. But I can only have that one or the Coke one, because the other ones are killer disgusting or contain enough red dye to put me into hypoallergenic shock. For reals. hahaha.

Which is why my tongue looked like Becca's dress for the whole afternoon.
Look. I didn't edit it to be the same color. My camera could barely focus because it couldn't figure out which blue to focus on, because it blended in. Also - Becca brings the Square out in me. :) I adore Square pictures. Like I adore Killer Blue Alien Juice Slurpees and mah Becs.

SEE? Slurpees and Becs and Jean and hot sun and boots = SUMMATIIIMME!!!
and I know. She looks way smarter than me. Who'd know she's 5 yrs. younger? and actually, who'd care? We are quite the pair. :) Look! I rhymed! ;) Becs'll be a senior next year. *faints*

and I'll be 62. Clearly proved by last night's Scrabble game with mah Momma, when she beat me 270 to 241. Unbelievable. and Unnerving.

This shot kinda sums up us. Totally either unaware or uncaring or just the completely hysterically wrong moment. It would have been greater if I'd been spilling my Slurpee or something.....but please enjoy it knowing that I took SEVEN pictures before I captured this one, and NONE of them were focused on EITHER OF US. Such.A.FAIL. The fact that this one is focused in is probably because Becs was helping hold it steady. But wow.

I love bein' with Mah Becs. We didn't have a spectacularly amazing and huge blasting time, but we took the ordinary day and made it a Fun Ordinary Day. Becs makes anything 5x's more fun, just being together, the two of us!! :) I love...oh wait. I already said that. ;)

There's a peaceful feeling, being with a friend that is totally up for Ordinary Fun. Like singing at the top of your lungs for a favorite Country Song, or feeling the sugar rush to your brain, or getting honked at by an Ambulance at a green light, or talking about life because it matters, or just driving around town and being together. Knowing that it's fun because you are both just YOU. :)

and I love love love that feeling. Because we both love each other like we are. :)
I love you, Becs!!! Thanks for being Ordinary Becca with Ordinary Jean. which, come to think of it, is like Espresso with a shot of....a hurricane, with a shot of something "short....and...sweet.". hahahahahaha.

Becs and Jean *sangin*:
"Pooooooooouuuuuuurrrrr me somethin' tall and strong,
make it a hurricane before I go insane!
It's onnnnly half past twelve, but I don't CAAAARRRRE,
it's Five O'Clock somewhere!!!!

Becs *peers into little slurpee cup*: "these aren't tall. they are SHORT."
Me *waves blue dye cup of sugar": and SUUUGAAAAAHHHRRRRY"

"pppppppoooooouuuuuuuurrrrr me somethin' short and sweeeeeeeeet....." ;)

For more of the Becs and Jean Summer Craze, read HERE. or HERE. or uum. HERE. hhahahaha....HERE. awww. HERE. Ok. gotta' stop. ;)
~ Jean Marie ~

P.S. I'm not advocating drinking anything except root beer or swate tae, or you know.
Killer dyes.