Anniversary

Steve and his parents
Tomorrow Steve and I will have been married twenty-three years. That seems like forever and seems like just yesterday. He graciously offered for us to have a dinner date tonight and after all the going and coming of the last few months, I opted to cook for us instead. Secretly he was probably glad to not put on nice clothes on a Saturday night in this heat and go out. Anyway, we are going to Chicago next week and have a big vacation planned in September so there will be opportunities later.
Me and my folks
He did ask what I wanted to do. I said – clear the closets in the garage. Steve actually has built himself a workshop in the larger one and he needed more work room.  I knew there was stuff in there that needed to be tossed (example – puppy stuff that Lucy would not use when she was a puppy much less now and old, out of date yard chemicals and car cleaning stuff).  So we got out and got after it pretty early. It was hot but not nearly as hot a yard work!!!!!
It was an interesting exercise. Besides the usual stuff you find, we found some things we had “put up” when we moved Steve’s folks the first time in October 2004. That was a difficult move from their house to assisted living not long after Steve’s Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I am certain we just put stuff places so we could ensure Steve’s Mom we were not throwing everything away.  
Treasures unearthed today included:
Who are these young people?
Steve’s Dad’s dress clothes – why we would have put them in an open box in the garage closet is beyond me.  The (now) funny part of that is that in 2007 when he died, we knew we had “kept” his suit but could not find it. Of course we took care of what needed to be done but I did a lot of head scratching over than one. Needless to say after five years in the dirt and heat – were not in too good shape. My guess is Dad L got a chuckle out of that from heaven today.
Then we found Steve’s Dad’s copy of the folder with our wedding ceremony details. Our copy was lost (Ms Organization loaned them to someone to use as a guide and forgot to get them back AND does not remember who she loaned them to!) so now we have a copy!
We found the entire set of Christmas reindeer Steve’s Dad made.  We knew where two of them were and have them out front every year – we had all of them all the time and did not know it.
We found a small step up that he made that is perfect for JoJo to stand on to reach the sink when she is over here. Actually Steve’s Mom and Dad both would be pleased about that. Steve’s Dad never knew JoJo – he died right before she was born but Steve’s Mom loved her!
And we found an antique piano stool (round) he had reworked so now I have something that is the perfect height for sitting at my bathroom counter when doing makeup etc.
Pretty cool – huh?  And just think it was here all the time.  (We also tossed a lot of stuff, too, and that sort of purging feels good, too.)
I was reminded that today is a microcosm of life in general.  We look constantly for direction without looking in the right place to the Heavenly Father first. We often need to purge the junk in our lives by confessing that we have carried around all that baggage when it simply was not necessary. Good reminder and one I needed today. 
Psalms 34:4 – I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.
Still Choosing Joy!
Cille


The Wedding Participants
Friends and Family!

Traveling Around

Have not blogged in a while but wanted to capture a couple of things shared by my traveling nephew and niece.  Many who have known the McHenry’s know that there is a traveling bug that we come by naturally (or at least some of us do).  My great-grandfather George Austin McHenry had it as he traveled the world as a physician in the U.S. Army.  My Dad has it (and my Mom graciously traveled along). My cousin George has it – he traveled Europe before settling in to make a living and in fact has traveled a great deal since then. I have it (bad). And for sure Chris and Anna Russell have it. 

Chris spent a summer abroad in Barcelona studying between his freshman and sophomore years at GT. Anna, as a senior at Prep, spent Spring Break in Paris. This summer, after his graduation from GT and before he joins the ranks of working adults full time at Microsoft in Redmond WA, Chris decided to take the “grand tour”.  He started in Portugal, has been through Spain including Madrid and a revisit to Barcelona, is now in Provence and headed from there to Monaco, Italy, Paris (to meet up with his sister), London, and then Dublin before returning home.

Two weeks after Chris left, Anna, who will be a junior at MSU this fall, left for a month of studies in Paris (photography and French). Chris will join her there and they will tour London and Dublin together. I am envious. Wow. But (drum roll) Steve and I are going to Belfast and County  Antrim in Northern Ireland in September so I will just have to be cool for now…..

They are blogging there travels. I have read all the posts and looked at all the photos on Flickr. I will only subject you to these two but I think these are significant and well worth sharing.

Chris’ is about his visit to Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
 Sagrada Familia

Anna’s is a recording that is now on YouTube from an impromptu concert at Notre Dame when she had gone to the cathedral to have some quiet time. 
 Notre Dame Paris

Both are wonderful. I hope you will enjoy. 

Protection

American Cemetery at Normandy

In our travels, we ventured several times to the UK.  The best trip was a combined land and cruise tour to the British Isles in 2000. We saw Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, the White Cliffs of Dover, Waterford and Dublin Ireland, Wales, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland (we attended the annual Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle)  and, just across the English Channel, made our first trip to Normandy. There is so much history and I just soaked it up.

My Favorite Cow – Orkney, Scotland

I loved everything we did and was emotionally slammed by everything we experienced, Why? In part, the impact of history and what men did so I could live freely. If you walk away from the American Cemetery at Normandy and are unaffected, you need to stop at the nearest ER for a pulse check because you are probably dead. You cannot go any distance at all without being touched by something from either the first or second world wars. All that stuff about “The Greatest Generation” – I believe it. 

Beyond that, honestly, I believe it was some historical, innate attachment to family from way way back. I was so at home, so at peace, so easy.  It goes without saying that my “bucket list” includes trips back to Scotland and Ireland and very specifically a trip to Northern Ireland (never visited) where my Dad’s family actually came from.  

You cannot travel in the UK without passing pastures filled with cows and sheep. I am certain that when the term “pastoral” was coined as a description for a peaceful place, the hills and valleys of Scotland, particularly, were the example.  When I think of flocks and herds, I think of “stupid sheep” (see and earlier blog entry on that topic) and Psalm 23 comes alive for me.

North Sea – Orkney Islands, Scotland

 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Cows and sheep grazing in Scotland

Last week, someone used Psalm 23 to paint a word picture I had never considered. It was a really terrible day. This person is a new friend and has an amazing witness and just “happened to be there” when I reached my limit to cope with a situation. 

He asked me, “In Psalm 23, what does God do for us?” I had to walk myself through the Psalm (out loud) and it hit me: “He preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”  Right there in the middle of the battle, God is there and providing for us beyond anything or any way we can imagine. He set the best possible white table cloth dinner table for us right in the middle of the battle and we can stop there, rest, be nourished, fully within His protection. He surrounds us with comfort – that hedge of protection we so need while we are fragile. That hedge is far stronger than the hedgerows that separate the pastures in the UK but serves the same purpose for us in that it keeps us from wandering away.

Cille at looking down the cliff at the North Sea

Here we go with another week tomorrow. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I know He does. My cup is full and running over. My joy will not be stolen.

He is Emmanuel, God with us.  I believe.

Back and Forth

Happy New Year.  What an interesting year 2011 turned out to be.  Here are a few of the highlights:
  1. January – Started the year at Gulf Shores.  Of course the Legislature showed up immediately thereafter!
  2. February – Took the folks to McHenry so Dad could sleep in his childhood room and to the Coast to see Celtic Woman and eat at Mary Mahoneys.
  3. April – SINE DIE happened on time! So did, more importantly, Easter!
  4. May – Were on Orlando in May for SAPPHIRE. I worked. Steve played at Universal and Sea World; Moved Steve’s Mom to personal care at The Orchard. Fortunately she adjusted well. She had fallen several times. Thankfully nothing ever was broken!
  5. June, closed the deal on a huge project – biggest of my career (scary).
  6. July – new Fiscal Year, election season in full swing, project kicked off PLUS Phillip and I were sitting in Yankee Stadium on July 9 when Derrick Jeter got his 3000th hit. Took in another Yankees game, saw The Lion King, toured New York Harbor to see Lady Liberty and saw Ground Zero. Great trip. Steve and I also zipped down to Orange Beach in July for a long weekend. He spent his time at the Blue Angels museum in Pensacola. I managed to spend two days down by the water under an umbrella reading and relaxing.
  7. August – I was with co-workers for a week that took us to Burlington, VT and then over the NH White Mountains to Portland, ME. Was a productive and beautiful trip.
  8. September and we were in Montana for a week with Bonnie Burnham at Glacier National Park. Spectacular!
  9. October – were in Texas for the clinching game of the ALCS (how cool is that!)
  10. November – we hosted Thanksgiving for Steve’s Mom and my entire family. I made a trek to Wiggins for the 115th Anniversary of FBC Wiggins.
  11. December –  Carols, Christmas, great family time, and back to Gulf Shores (probably will not be here this same time next year).

There, of course, was time with Phillip and JoEllen, other family time, M Braves and the Governor’s Cup at Trustmark Park, spoiling Lucy and Buster – the usual things.  AND it was a clean bill of health year for ALL of us! TYL!

2012 is a quasi blank page – there are projected big family milestones: my parents will celebrate 60 years in August, Ivery and Jimmy 35 years in November, and Judy and Bob 25 years in September (it will be our 23rd in July). Chris will graduate from Georgia Tech.  Steve will retire for the second (and he says final) time from the FDIC. 
It will be a transition year at work – new administrations always bring that. The “big project” continues with a targeted “go live” date of ONE YEAR from today (1/1/2013) so it will be a super intense year work wise. FBCJ is in transition, also, with the preparation and prayerful search for a new pastor underway and with LLG now, today, in the status of interim MoM as he assumes his new role as a professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

There are decisions to be made. Some we know about. Many we do not. Key is that we do not try to force our limits, fears, wants on God. Jeremiah had it right and it needs to apply to all of us as we move into 2012:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when  you seek me with all your heart.”

If God orchestrated our salvation through the events at the manger, cross, and empty tomb, He is capable of taking care of what will end up on the canvas of 2012.

Emmanuel. God with us. I believe.

Happy New Year

Thanksgiving

We had a great day. Everyone from the McHenry clan was here for lunch except Emily and Joel (they stayed in South Carolina and were with friends). Steve’s Mom was here, too – a very pleasant surprise. The dogs, once they got over going nuts when Daddy got here (do it every time) were well behaved. Lucy, in fact was in her element. She is a diva of sorts and she went person to person for belly rubbing and ear scratching.  Buster (who came to us at Thanksgiving four years ago), took the approach of “I am in the room, but will stay here on the edge” – he gets that from Steve I think.

Judy and Mom
Daddy

The menu was – well – one we are famous for – in fact you can expect these things on the Thanksgiving (and Christmas) tables in our family always – roast turkey, Mama’s dressing, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce (only Emily wants the stuff in the can – not sure where that came from), Ivery’s sweet potato casserole (don’t know how she makes it taste so good but mine never tastes like hers), Anna’s sour cream rolls, Judy’s buttermilk pie.  This year there was also a ham, a great new green bean casserole (per Judy from Southern Living), Jessica’s Mac and Cheese (bringing it from her family into ours), apple dumplings, pumpkin pie. Oh yeah – and of course there was sweet tea.  Needless to say, once everyone was gone and the rest of the dishes were done, I took a two hour dead-to-the-world nap.

Chris, Lucy, and Anna
Ivery and Bob

I am thankful for many things. At the top of the list is good health for all of us – after the cancer years, it is great that the reports continue to be good. Am thankful that Mom and Dad are in such good health and love how they cherish the times like today.

Am thankful for the grandkids (those would be my nieces and nephews and their spouses where applicable). It does freak me out that Emily is 30 now and Anna will be 20 in December (the bookends). Chris will be graduating from Georgia Tech in 2012 and moving to Seattle (we are thankful he already has a job). Anna is a sophomore at MSU. Jordan is the manager of BancorpSouth branch at Colony Crossing. Jessica teaches for JPS.  In South Carolina, Joel is the Community Pastor at The Church at Cane Bay – a new church plant – and Emily teaches in the public school system there.  I am thankful that all of us are involved in missions and ministry outreach and that we are all His children.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!