Nine Years of Joy

Our Grandson Noah turns nine years-old today. Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday I held him in my arms for the first time. 

SelfieNoah has filled those nine years with love and joy, There are people who carry joy with them wherever they go. Noah has that gift. Any encounter with this joy-giver always makes me feel better; better about myself; better about life; better about this world. Noah has spirit. He has an amazing sense of adventure. He’s often the life of the party. He’s always looking for the good time; the big laugh; the happiness in every situation. He’s fun and funny. And he shares his boundless joy!

Noah is moving forward at record speed. He is growing in leaps and bounds. He seems to be in a hurry to get on with life; to learn more; play harder; face new challenges; enjoy new adventures; love more deeply. He is always looking forward to his next test; his next game; his next school year; his future. 

Noah and meStill, as he races toward that future, I know that he remembers to look back, too. For that, I am forever grateful. I hope when he looks back, he sees the love and security he has in being part of this family. I hope when he looks back, he sees that he has been nurtured and loved beyond measure. I hope when he looks back, he can take pride in his home; his school; his church; his community; his country. Those will be the building blocks of that future he seems so ready to take on.

Sometimes when I fear my future, I think of Noah and how he will conquer this world someday and make it a better place. Come to think of it, he already has. His kindness and joyfulness are much-needed antidotes for the sickness and sadness and corruption that I see in the news every day. When we are together, he and I, we share our stories – mine of boyhood memories of long ago; his of successes or challenges on the ball field or in the class room – we connect in way that is both physical and spiritual. Noah meets my every need, just by smiling at me; holding my hand; embracing me; telling me that he loves me.

Noah and NanaAs much as I need this beautiful boy,  I believe he needs me too. My love for him is unconditional. I’d  like to think that I love Noah the way that I hope God loves me. No proof of worthiness required. No test of loyalty needed. No apologies necessary.

Just boundless love and eternal joy.

Peace,

Denis 

P.S. Happy Birthday Noah Boy!

P.S.S. This is one of Noah’s favorite songs. 

 

 

Go Debbie, It’s Your Birthday!

My wife celebrates another birthday today and I love this life that we share.

Our story is not all that unusual. Small town kids who met and fell in love and according to the experts got married too young. We fell in love and there was no way out! Most of our journey together has been unplanned. I’ve heard it said that man plans and God laughs. But what about us? Stumbling through life and making the most of it without any plans. Sometimes I feel like we’re still those nineteen year-olds rushing down the aisle into the unknown. But here we are (a few years later) still side by side on this crazy ride. We have a saying in our home “funny trumps all!”. We laugh and love and remain grateful for the joy of our life together. Our laughter rings out and it can even drown out our tears. I’m sure we’ve still given God plenty to laugh about, planned or otherwise, but we’re laughing, too.

GlacierThe older I get the more I realize that where we’re headed is nothing compared to being on this journey together. On the darkest of days, when all seems lost, I look beside me and know that everything will be alright. When happiness abounds, I know that it’s because of the love that Deb brings into my life. 

Here’s what you need to know about my birthday girl: If you are in need, she’s the friend/sister/daughter/mother/grandmother to call on. If you need a laugh, she will always deliver. If you need someone to hold or if you need to be held, her arms are always open wide. If you need to cry, she will cry, too. Debbie has this incredible gift of making you feel that when she’s with you, no one else is more important or more needed at that moment than you. You have her complete undivided attention. She gives her entire self.

And as for me, well when Deb walks in the room it’s like everyone else fades into the background. All the light in the space seems to be emanating from her. She just gets to me. So we fell in love and there was no way out. But why would I ever want out?

So go Debbie, it’s your birthday! Thanks for all the love and laughter. It’s been a wild ride.

Love,

Denis

 

 

My Sweet Petunia

Today our granddaughter Anna is eleven years old. When she was born she was tiny and pink and delicate and was truly a breath of spring. I said then that I thought she looked like a petunia and the name stuck. My sweet Petunia!

The name just fits. Like she fits. Perfectly. Tunies

Most people call her Anna but often I still call her Petunia – probably always will. “A petunia by any other name is just as sweet.”

She is a beautiful child – inside and out. Her beauty emanates from her soul. She has such a loving spirit and she exudes joy! And I am sometimes the welcome recipient of that love and joy.

Anna is petite. She comes from a long line of short women. 5 or 6 generations of my wife’s family is/was comprised of women who stand/stood around five feet tall (or less). Height is probably not in her future. But stature aside, Anna looms large! She is a straight-A student. She’s an equestrian. She is a Girl Scout who is involved in Robotics competitions. She plays basketball and softball. She sings in the Choir. She journals. She loves to perform in theater.

She’s the ALL-AMERICAN GIRL.

I’ve seen her grab the reins of a horse many times her size and take control. While she climbs into the saddle she looks like a natural – and I suppose she is. I still hold my breath every time she jumps a hurdle but she does it with grace and panache. So confident; so capable. Whether she’s playing on a court or on a ballfield or just with friends in the neighborhood, she gives it her all. Smiling, always smiling. It’s hard to contain her joy.

Anna is a mother hen. She looks after her little brother and loves to be with her younger cousins. She enjoys the friendships of boys as well as girls. And she can be ‘the biggest duck in the puddle’. Still, she’s mature beyond her years, ladylike and respectful. Mostly she loves! She loves God. She loves her parents, her brother, her friends, all animals, and even this old curmudgeon.

She has the sense of humor, beauty, and brains of her mother, the inquisitiveness, determination and confidence of her father and, the kindness of her grandmother. She humbles me. 

Some would call her a pre-teen. I’m not really ready for a teenager, but it’s not up to me. Time marches on and she will continue to grow into a lovely young woman. I look forward to what the future holds for a grown-up Anna. But in my selfish heart there’s a little part that wants her to stay my tiny Petunia forever.

Peace,

Denis

 

 

Happy Birthday

Today is my wife’s birthday. I met Debbie 45 years ago while we were both working part-time at a discount store while attending local colleges. Friendship turned into love and love turned into marriage. And the rest is history; her story; our story. There have been plenty of ups and downs but we’ve held on tight. We have laughed nearly every day of our married life (sometimes through the tears). We’ve raised three kids, had multiple careers, lived on two continents, and traveled the world together. We’ve had grand moments and enjoyed simple pleasures. We’ve worked hard; played hard and taken turns carrying one another along the way.

IMG_3774I’ve often wondered why I’ve been so fortunate. I look at other couples and I sometimes feel a tinge of sadness (or is it pride?); realizing they’ll never experience the profound love I’ve known. I witness all the madness in our world and I’m secure in the knowledge that at home I will always find comfort, peace, and joy. Those of you who know Deb, know that she is the heart of our family; that friendships are lifelong; that her word is her bond; and that I’m the luckiest man on earth. Lots of people love Debbie. And her love for others is boundless. But somehow I was one who got to share this life with her. Through all these years; the good days and the bad; through the joys and sorrows; I’ve had this beautiful hand to hold.

I’m a simple man and I simply love my wife. Today seemed like a good day for me to tell her again.

Happy Birthday Deb!

I love you,

Denis

 

 

Full of Grace

Anna9Nine years ago the most wonderful thing happened. My granddaughter Anna entered this world and captured my heart. Nothing has ever been the same since.

Anna has an old soul. She has the gift (shared by few) of being able to walk into any room and sense whatever is needed by those around her. She gives herself completely. When she is with you nothing else matters to her except being in that moment. Whether she’s playing with friends or helping her little brother or just “hanging out” with her grandparents, she takes the time to listen and truly engage in the game or the activity or the conversation at hand. She is thoughtful, polite and loving.

Anna has a mighty spirit wrapped up in one tiny nine year-old body. She laughs big. She plays hard. She prays deeply. And she loves unconditionally. I am humbled by her kindness, amazed by her generosity and honored to be her grandfather.

I see my daughter in her love of laughter, her desire to excel in school and her need to be the family peacemaker. I see my son-in-law in her inquisitiveness and in her joy of learning new things. I see my wife in her deliberate approach to life; always stopping to “smell the roses” and never wanting to be hurried along. She shares her other grandmother’s artistic ability and love of nature. And me? Well she may have inherited some stubbornness and perhaps a talent for writing.

I believe that Anna will do great things in her life. Truth is, she already has. On more than one occasion she has afforded me a glimpse of heaven. And it’s a beautiful thing. You know, the name Anna means “full of grace”. I suppose nothing else really needs to be said.

Except happy birthday and I love you!

Pawpaw (Denis)

“Children’s children are the crown of the elderly” ~ Proverbs 17:6

 

Birthday Wishes

Today is my birthday. I was greeted by my lovely wife Debbie this morning with a sleepy “Happy Birthday” and her sweet smile, which I cherish all the more because I know that mornings are not typically a happy time for her. Two of my grandkids called on their way to school with their cheery little voices bringing sunshine on this foggy morning. Of course my daughter, my mom, my sister and brother have all called which makes me feel loved as well. Folks at work have been wishing me a “Happy Birthday” which may be more likely because I’m the boss but I’d like to think that a few of the wishes are sincere. Many more emails and Facebook posts add to the feeling of being cared about on this day. Birthday wishes are affirming. They cost nothing to give (expect the Hallmark variety) and they are worth so much to the receiver. I feel especially blessed today. And tonight when I blow out the candles on my cake, it will be my turn to “make a wish”. The only problem is that I have more than one wish. Perhaps the more candles that you have, the more wishes you should be allowed – I hope so anyway.birthday-109a

Here are my wishes:

I wish that I was fluent in Spanish because my Mexican friends speak such beautiful English (and I would like to return the favor).

I wish I had the energy to play all the games that my grandson wants to play.

I wish that my beautiful granddaughters will always keep a little of the innocence that they now possess.

I wish that I would have gotten some of that wisdom that’s supposed to come with age.

I wish that bacon, cheeseburgers, pizza and M&M McFlurries were all calorie free.

I wish that laughter would be a part of every day for the rest of my life.

I wish that I could give more, take less, and always be grateful for what I have.

I wish that all people would be treated with dignity, respect and kindness.

I wish that love would triumph over hatred in our hearts, in our homes, and in our world.

I wish that I might live just one day longer than Debbie (so that she’s never alone and that I’m not alone too long).

Happy Birthday to me!

Peace,

Denis

 

 

 

Don’t Be Fooled By Her Size

When my wife was a little girl she wanted to be Barbie® – tall and blonde and all the rest. But instead God decided to make her Midge® – Barbie’s best friend. Midge is short and brunette and NOT BARBIE. But even though Midge (Deb) is ‘vertically challenged’ you shouldn’t be fooled by her size. She is larger than life. Her circle of influence is boundless. She dreams big. She has more class in her little finger than most folks have in their entire body. And she has more friends today than I have had in my entire life.

The best things do come in small packages

Most descriptions of her include phrases like: big heart; generous spirit; huge smile; hearty laugh; giving friend, loving mother, and caring daughter. These are hardly the images of a mousey little Midge. And Deb does things in a big way, too. Meals are an event. You’ll never leave her table hungry. Holidays are a time for elegant decorating and grand entertaining, and fabulous food.

And if you are in need, she’s the friend/sister/daughter/mother to call on. If you need a laugh, she will always deliver. If you need someone to hold or if you need to be held, her arms are always open wide. If you need to cry, she will cry, too. Debbie has this incredible gift of making you feel that when she’s with you, no one else is more important or more needed at that moment than you. You have her complete undivided attention. And she gives her entire self.

Her children and grandchildren will also tell you that she is a ‘force to be reckoned with’ as well. And most importantly, you should NEVER attempt to hurt one of her children or grandchildren – she’s like a lioness in her need to protect them. And I believe that she would “stare down the devil” if the need arose.

And for me, well when Deb walks in the room it’s like everyone else fades into the background. All the light in the space seems to be emanating from her. She just gets to me.  Deb always tells our granddaughters “that you have to be pretty on the inside if you want to be pretty on the outside”. And she lives those words, too. Her beauty shines through.

Barbie, you might be a statuesque blonde but you’re empty on the inside, I’ll take ‘ma femme petite belle’ over you any day!

Even though I’m over a foot taller than she, I know that she stands well above me in terms of heart and soul. But most of you are already aware of this.

Peace,

Denis

Deb, it’s been my pleasure and honor to “look up” to you all these many years. I love this life we share.  I love you, D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cjgav6VXUxc