Surrender 50: Coffeehouse Poetry Readings

What a treat today, to be a guest in grandson Jonathan’s 4th grade classroom during the coffeehouse poetry reading. I joined my son-in-law Josh, and Jonathan’s Nana in the room, along with other parents and grandparents. 

 

I was quite impressed! Miss Tims is an exceptional teacher, in my opinion, to create these monthly events. The theme for February focused on Black History Month, with an additional emphasis on poetry and Jazz. The kids are given a great deal of creative freedom, which allows them to decide what poetry to read or how to interpret and perform a skit. 
 

As Josh and Debi and I took our seats at a festive table, I noticed that even the snacks were connected to the theme and the program for the day. We had Oreos representing 45 records, Corn Bugles for Jazz trumpets, and bubble gum for Bubble Gum Skat, among other snacks. 

   
 

The kids warmed up the crowd with several group performances, including “Charlie Parker Plays Bebop”, “Cool Daddy Rat”, and “Bubble Gum Skat”. I appreciated their entertaining performances and the educational moments that accompanied them. We learned who Charlie Parker was, and watched a short video clip of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye performing skat together during “When the Saints Go Marching In.” 
 

 
As we sipped juice and munched on snacks, each child in Miss Tims class perched on the wooden stool at the front of the room and shared the reading he or she had selected. There was a wide variety of essays and poetry from writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker and Rudyard Kipling. Jonathan shared an essay about a sculpture of Jack Johnson, created by artist William Edmondson. Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion. The kids also shared briefly about historical greats such as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Duke Ellington. After each reading, the audience responded in true coffeehouse style…by snapping our fingers. 

 

What a great experience, for the kids and for their proud family members. None of the children seemed nervous about performing in front of an audience, individually or as a group. What a gift to them, from their wonderful teacher, to have these opportunities to express their creativity and gain public speaking skills. I am looking forward to next month’s coffeehouse event! 

  
  

Surrender 49: Creating a Little Chaos of My Own

With the temperatures reaching a high of 77 degrees today, I totally surrendered to the call of the outdoors. Such a gorgeous day in February was an exciting gift, one I couldn’t wait to unwrap and enjoy. Donning old clothes, gloves, and my straw gardening hat, I sauntered into the warm sunshine and started the process of tidying up the flower and herb gardens surrounding the house. 

 

My priority this afternoon was to cut back the tall grasses, still standing golden and tasseled in a variety of beds. I use a wonderful electric hedge trimmer to accomplish this task more easily. The clumps of decorative grass are cut down to six inches, to allow the new green stalks to appear and grow. 

 
Greg arrived, after a day of playing golf, just as I started working in the yard. He graciously offered his help! Between the two of us, the grasses were quickly cut back. Piling arm loads of stalks onto the brickio, I inhaled the fresh earthy scent of the dried grasses. I was reminded of the hay that my daughter Elissa used to toss into the horse stalls at feeding time. 

  
The trimmer was great at cutting back dry herbs too, and I caught the aroma of lemon grass, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, Russian sage and thyme. With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour today, and a burn ban in effect, I didn’t start a fire in the fire pit. When the wind calms down I’ll burn the grasses and dried herbs in the fire pit, creating a unique outdoor potpourri that smells so wonderfully fragrant. 

 

The surprise this afternoon was discovering that my garden is already stirring from its winter slumber. The weather has been mild, with very few extremely cold days. The grasses, lemon balm and day lilies are pushing tender green shoots through the soil. The clematis has new growth appearing. And the lilac bush is budding. I realize it is unseasonably warm today, and there’s likely to be more cold days coming, but I’m hoping for an early spring. My heart filled with joy, seeing green in the garden today. 

 

I have more to do in the gardens the next few days, while the warm temperatures linger. It already looks differently after today’s labor…trimmed back, messy, bare…and poised to explode soon with every shade of green and riotous color.  I was so inspired recently by the movie A Little Chaos, as the gardeners in that film brought beauty forth from a wild and tangled plot of land. A bit of Eden was created, that contained both order and chaos. I deeply identify with that creative urge, to bring lush, abundant life from the ground that both pleases the eye, and the soul, and astounds them. I too am creating a bit of Eden…a little chaos and wildness of my own. This is paradise found, surely. 
  

Surrender 48: Belated Birthday Post for Eric

I wished my nephew Eric a happy birthday on the actual date of his birth, January 12. At that time, early in my new journey for this year, I had not yet made the decision to do a blog post for every family member. By the end of January, as we celebrated Eric’s younger daughter Aralyn, I thought how fun it would be to write a post for each person in my family, on his or her special day. With that decision came the realization that in our sprawling and growing family, I had missed one person already. This is Eric’s birthday post, belated but heart felt nonetheless. 

 

Eric Mitchell Miller is the younger son of my sister Linda. His birth evened up the grandchildren in the family, giving my mother three granddaughters and three grandsons. 

He may have been the youngest in the family, at that time, however he was always a force to be reckoned with! Eric not only had no problems keeping up with his older brother and his cousins, he wasn’t all that concerned with keeping up with them anyway. As a kid, he was his own unique person, a boy who fearlessly forged his path through life, whether that was doing stunts on the backyard swing set or creating a distinctive fashion statement. Cowboy boots and shorts were always appropriate attire for Eric as a youngster. 

 Eric between his brother Scott and his cousin Nate.  

Eric is still intently following the path of his choosing, as a handsome young man, although it’s been years since I’ve seen him in shorts and cowboy boots. He’s conscientious and loyal, determined and smart, and unafraid to stand firmly for what he deeply believes in. His quiet strength and level head make him an excellent police officer. He serves and protects in the same police department as his cousin. 

  
Eric has a beautiful wife, Tosh, and two adorable little girls, London and Aralyn. He is unfazed by his household of ladies. Rather, they have captivated his heart, and his desire to love and protect them is evident in his actions. 

  
  
My nephew loves music, playing guitar, and attending concerts when he can, of his favorite band. He enjoys order in his life, and yet he also knows how to cut loose and have fun. He loves his job. Most of all, he loves his family. And I love him. The gutsy and independent little boy has grown into a courageous and independent young man. Shine on, nephew. And happy birthday again. 

  
  

Surrender 47: A Little Chaos

I have been anticipating watching this movie for a month. I came upon it shortly after Alan Rickman’s death in January. I was immediately drawn to the story and I’ve searched for an online version to watch. Today I called my local DVD rental store to check availability. The film was in stock and the clerk held it up front for me. Mid afternoon I surrendered to viewing the movie before my last appointment of the day. I just couldn’t wait!

A Little Chaos, which released in 2014, stars Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci and Helen McCrory. It was directed by Alan Rickman, his second time behind the camera. This historical drama/romance is rated R for brief nudity and sexuality and has a run time of 1 hour and 57 minutes.


Set in France in the year 1682, this richly depicted period piece follows the story of two talented gardeners charged with creating the lush gardens of King Louis XIV (Rickman) in Versailles. The fact that one of the landscape artists is a woman, Sabine De Barra (Winslet), creates both tension and interest, from the king and his court to the hired contractors working with her.

Master gardener and court landscaper Andre Le Notre (Schoenaerts) is willing to take the risk of working with Sabine. He is intrigued by her disdain toward order and formality in the gardens, discovering that she prefers wildness or chaos. Andre is in a marriage of arrangement, to a shrewish woman (McCrory) who lacks imagination. His interest in Sabine soon takes a more personal turn.


Others take notice of the hard working and outspoken young woman. King Louis may initially doubt her abilities to create a garden worthy of a king, but he comes to value her wisdom and her practical and honest views of life. The king’s brother, Philippe (Tucci), is charmed by Sabine’s natural beauty, while the Royal Court is curious about who she is.

Sabine, the heart of this story, wants the chance to fully use her gifts to create something extraordinary. Along the way, perhaps she will also find respect, love and healing from her past.

I loved this beautiful film. I knew I was going to when the introduction of Winslet’s character showed her coloring. She used pencils and pastels to create detailed drawings of the plants and creatures in her garden. And the gardening was so appealing to me. Sabine’s wild garden outside her workroom door was gorgeous, especially when lit by candlelight. I made a mental note to add more candle holders to my own backyard paradise.

Andre’s speech to Sabine, about gardening being our search for Eden, was spot on. Only a few have the gift of recreating Eden he said. However we are drawn to tame the wildness and enter the Garden again.


Alan Rickman was superb as King Louis XIV and as the director. The flow of the film, the visually appealing scenes, are a tribute to him. One of my favorite scenes involved Sabine mistaking the king, who was sitting wigless and in his shirt sleeves in a walled garden, for a tree and shrub gardener. They were able to share a simple meal and have a sincere and heart level conversation that continued even after Sabine realized who she was talking to so freely.

Another favorite scene, and unexpectedly so, allowed a peek into the lives of the women of the court. Beneath their finery and their seemingly indulgent lifestyles lay heartbreak and loss and a quiet strength that endured.

A Little Chaos was all I hoped it would be, and more. I enjoyed the story, and I loved the part that Alan had in creating such an enchanting  movie. I will be purchasing the DVD to add to my collection.

And I was inspired. The weather will be unseasonably warm the remainder of the week. I will be tending to my gardens, getting my hands dirty, preparing for the awakening that will come next month as spring coaxes flowers and plants from their long slumber. I will be creating a little chaos, a bit of Eden, in my own backyard.

Surrender 46: If I Cared for Myself…

Today’s post could be titled Being Love, Part 2. As I allowed love to guide me yesterday, I came across a wonderful post by another blogger, Allison Kenny. Her article was titled “If I Took Care of Myself Like I Take Care of my Daughter…”. Allison lists the ways she would care for herself if she had the same level of love and care for herself as she does for her child. I was captivated. 

                       Read Allison Kenny’s post here. 

At the end of Allison’s post, she asks, 

If you took care of yourself like you do your daughter…what might you do?

  

I took that question seriously, and I’ve thought about it since yesterday. I have two beautiful daughters, a beautiful daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. I also have a handsome son, two handsome son-in-laws (Nate Pugh will be the second one soon), and four handsome grandsons. I know the level of love and care that I show to them all. For this time of reflection, I chose to change Allison’s phrase slightly, and run with it. 

If I took care of myself like I take care of my grandchildren I would…

play more

be totally myself

tell myself “you are kind, you are smart, you are important”

put on a leotard and a tutu and dance my heart out

sing my favorite song as loudly as I can

wear my favorite color more

If I took care of myself like I do my grandchildren I would…

absolutely believe that I cannot fail

cheer for myself

be present by spending time with myself

encourage myself to be okay with my best efforts

celebrate my successes

cry when I’m disappointed or sad

If I took care of myself like I do my grandchildren I would…

splurge on myself

buy yummy treats after a long day

have dessert before dinner sometimes

play in the mud and enjoy it

hug and kiss with abandon

accept myself exactly as I am

If I took care of myself like I do my grandchildren I would…

take walks through the neighborhood

enjoy a bubble bath

play a new video game

say “I love you” so, so many times

say yes to myself a whole lot more than I say no

not be afraid to ask for what I want

If I took care of myself like I do my grandchildren I would…

paint each toenail a different color

sleep with a cuddly stuffed animal

binge watch a new show

pretend 

tell jokes

say frequently to myself, with great enthusiasm as I attempt new things, “Oh WOW!” (Bit of an inside family joke 😃)

This was such a heart opening experience. And now, it’s your turn. 

If you took care of yourself like you take care of your daughter (son, grandchild, lover, pet, nephew, niece)…what would you do? 

  

Surrender 45: Being Love

Today was Valentine’s Day, a time traditionally set aside to express love to the sweethearts in our lives. My theme for this day was about being love. I thought about the ways that I care for myself, which I’ll share another time. Primarily I expressed love and joy to my family today. 

 

I created Valentine’s Day gift bags for the grandkids, and presented the adult kids with bags of peanut brittle, made with love from Papa Bob’s recipe. Yes, peanut brittle is typically considered a  Christmas treat, however, I’m anything but typical. I declared it a Valentine candy.  

Greg joined me in making deliveries to each household. We had a fun afternoon chatting as we drove, appreciating our remarkable kids and our adorable grandchildren, finding much to be grateful for. I am thankful for Greg, and his willingness to help out and to chauffeur me around. 
 

First stop was to see granddaughter Aubrey, who was with her mommy and little brother AJ this weekend. The kids immediately swapped stuffed animals, which was perfectly fine, especially since they were in agreement about the trade! AJ calls me Yaya too, which I adore, and this cute little boy makes me laugh with his charming ways! Brittany and the kids very sweetly gave Greg and me boxes of candy to take with us. 

I appreciate Brittany and the connection we continue to share. She keeps me updated about events going on when Aubrey is with her and let’s me know how she and the kids are doing. Caring for one another is so much bigger than how relationships are defined. Brittany and AJ will always be family. Off we went, to continue deliveries, after hugs and “I love you’s”.

  
 

Next on the list of stops was daughter Adriel and her fiancé Nate. Adriel worked last night and had not been up for long. She and Nate were preparing to get outside for a bit, while the temps were in the 50’s and the sun was shining. We visited briefly and I loved on the “granddogs” and “grandcats”, who are all as sweet as can be. 

I appreciate these two animal loving, hard working, soulful young adults who plan to marry this fall. They care for one another and for others. They care for themselves too, being mindful of their health and fitness. After hugs and “I love you’s”, off we went to Carl Junction. 
 

  

Daughter Elissa, son-in-law Josh and grandson Jonathan were having a relaxing day at home, enjoying hot drinks and playing games. Elissa was also perusing Pinterest for inspiration. We had a running joke all day with Elissa about the winter storm. It never materialized, in spite of a winter weather advisory. That didn’t deter us in the least from talking as if it had. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and my family and I are blessed with an abundance of it. 

I appreciate Elissa’s and Josh’s quick wits and obvious enjoyment of each other and life. Jonathan and Dayan, who was with his dad this weekend, possess the same keen sense of humor and love of fun. After laughter and playful teasing, hugs and “I love you’s”, we headed to Carthage. 
  

  
Son Nate was still working, so we stopped by the house to catch grandsons Joey and Oliver before they left to go to their dad’s. I got to chat with them as they sorted through their gift bags and look at the clever M&M’s they received from their mom and Nate this morning. The candies, in their favorite colors, have the kids’ names on them and expressions of love. Aubrey’s stash is waiting for her in her room. Such a creative idea! 

We met Nate at the police station, where Megan joined us after dropping the boys off. I got to see my son’s new office. We enjoyed chatting and hearing more about Nate’s recent birthday celebrations. I appreciate Nate and Megan as they parent their active, growing kids well and carve out time from their busy schedules to spend quality time together. I’ve seen them navigate through challenging situations, beyond their control, with grace and a deep love for each other that sustains them. After a time of catching up, watching the kids’ birthday video for Nate, hugs and “I love you’s”, we headed back toward Joplin. 

  
I missed getting to see Dayan this afternoon, after having the opportunity to see everyone else. We communicated by text earlier in the day, since he’s with his dad, stepmom, and younger siblings all weekend. 

Greg made the suggestion that Dayan and I use the FaceTime feature on our iPhones to have a chat. That was a great idea! In a few moments, Dayan was visible on my phone, showing us the homework he was working on and making us laugh with a view of the lamp he was using in his room, a replica of the leg lamp from Christmas Story. Papa told a joke and I filled Dayan in on our afternoon and evening of deliveries. I appreciate Dayan’s flexibility and that he took time from his studies to talk. It brought joy to my heart to see him and talk to him face to face, and made the day feel complete. 

 

What a wonderful day, celebrating with my family, being love, and being loved on. I am so deeply grateful for each person, and the gifts of themselves that they bring to our family and to the world. 

“Every one of us has inside of us the innate power to heal and help another through the impact of our love.” Deeya 

That’s the amazing power of being love. 

  

Surrender 44: Beautifully Unique

I had the opportunity today to spend time with two of my five grandchildren, along with daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh. Papa Greg joined me on these adventures. One of the joys of being a grandparent is celebrating the accomplishments in the lives of these precious kids. 

 

The first event was an award ceremony at Missouri Southern State University, where granddaughter Aubrey was honored. During halftime of the Lady Lions basketball game, elementary and middle school children from Joplin and the surrounding towns received certificates and recognition for academic excellence. 

  
Two students from each class in these area schools were nominated by their teachers to receive the Most Improved Student awards. The kids not only had to demonstrate excellent academic progress, they also had to possess the desire and the self-motivation to excel. 

I’m so proud of Aubrey, who is a first grader, for being her bright little self and desiring to be the best she can be as she learns. Aubrey’s mom, little brother AJ, and Nana Beth and Papa Tom were proud spectators along with Greg and me. Her daddy had to work today, so it was my honor to be present as she was recognized. 

  

While Aubrey’s mom and other grandparents took her out for a celebratory lunch, Greg and I drove to Pittsburg, KS to do the same with grandson Jonathan, Elissa and Josh.  Jonathan, who is a Boy Scout, recently won first place in his troop’s pinewood derby competition. He also was awarded the Most Unique award. 
  

That win qualified him to participate in the regional pinewood derby races today, held at the Meadowbrook Mall in Pittsburg. Although he didn’t win that competition, I’m so proud of Jonathan for all of his creative work, his determination and his follow through on this project. He’s a smart young man who likes to compete. I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the future. We arrived just after the races completed and enjoyed a festive lunch at Del Rio. 

I love my grandchildren, all five of them, and I am proud of each one of them as they discover who they are and what their gifts and talents are. I am reminded this evening, as a winter advisory has been issued with the possibility of light snowfall, that they are each as beautiful and as unique as snowflakes. No two snowflakes are alike, and no two grandchildren are either. I am blessed, and grateful to be their Yaya. 

  

Surrender 43: Avocado for Breakfast

I’m not a good breakfast eater, even though I understand the importance of this first meal of the day. I tend to skip breakfast entirely or grab something easy. 

Every source I looked at stressed how crucial it is to break the long fast between dinner the night before and the new day’s meal. Eating a healthy breakfast boosts metabolism, curbs cravings, provides energy and better helps to maintain or even lose weight. Breakfast can even stave off serious illnesses. 

  
“After a healthy breakfast your blood sugar increases a little bit, but it will take a while for your body to absorb it,” says Eric Rimm, Sc.D., a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “So you might not be hungry for lunch for 5 hours. If you don’t bother with breakfast, though, the prolonged fasting might lead to a bigger than normal boost in ‘hunger hormones’ such as ghrelin, encouraging you to overeat at your next meal and leading to spikes and dips in glucose. Over time, if your pancreas is constantly producing insulin to compensate for high levels of glucose, it will burn out and you’ll develop diabetes.” 

Today I surrendered to starting my day off with a healthy breakfast. After drinking a cup of warm lemon water, I decided to try a recipe that I saw a picture of online, one that featured eggs and avocados. I didn’t save the recipe but I recalled what the finished product looked like. I was eager to see if I could duplicate it. 

 

After washing the outer skin, I halved a ripe avocado and removed the pit. 

   

I sliced off the rounded portion from each half, so that the avocado would lie flat, and cut a hole in each slice, leaving the peeling on. I added those chunks of avocado to my plate, to eat with my breakfast. 

 

A non-stick skillet was heated over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. I added the avocado slices and cracked an egg into each cavity. One yolk broke. It tasted fine…it just wasn’t as pretty! After sprinkling salt and pepper over each slice, I browned the first side and then carefully turned the slices and continued cooking. 

 
When the egg whites were set and slightly browned, I removed the avocados from the heat. 

These were delicious! The yolks were slightly runny, which is the way I like my fried eggs. They could be cooked longer for a firmer yolk. The outer skin isn’t consumed, and the cooked avocado easily separated from its peel. 

Avocados are super foods, full of nutrients and good fat. I love them in salads, on sandwiches, made into guacamole or sliced and eaten plain with my meal. And now, I can enjoy them for breakfast!

I might become a breakfast eater yet! 

  

Surrender 42: Too Late or Not Too Late, That Was My Question

I dearly love how the Divine answers the deeper questions of my heart and soul, sometimes before I’m even aware that I have asked. The series of synchronicities that occurred this week, a phenomenon I call a strand,  arrived in response to a thought that I had. I didn’t consciously realize at the time that I was actually pondering an important question. 

I was recalling the pull toward writing that I first acknowledged as a child. And how grateful I am to have journeyed full circle, back to that passion. In the midst of that reminiscing the thought arose that perhaps I waited too long to return to writing. With a bit of a start, I realized how old I actually am. I feel like I should be in my 30’s…but my children are all in that decade of life. 

  
I shrugged off that rather stark train of thoughts, however, at a deeper level, a question went out into the universe. A doubt was attached to it. It wasn’t long before the Divine began sending answers back. The first to arrive, last Sunday afternoon, was the above meme that my good friend Mark Semple posted in one of his group pages on Facebook. I commented, “What a relief!”. And I meant it. It was heartening to remember that these people made shifts and welcomed new adventures, profitable ones I might add, later in their lives. 

  
I didn’t think much more about it, since I had not yet discovered the depth of my thoughts, until Tuesday, when more answers arrived. And more came the next day. As of today, I have received six messages of encouragement, via different sources, all around the question I was asking in my heart.

The email I received Tuesday from She Writes couldn’t be more plain. In the subject line it states, Yes you ARE ready to write! Author Jenni Ogden goes on to share her encouraging story of becoming published in her 60’s. When I notice repetition, it raises my awareness. This email caused me to wonder, and say “hmmm”. 

 

Yesterday more confirmation arrived via email. My friend Mark, and TUT creator Mike Dooley, both sent notices about a free video series for writers. The speaker, Reid Tracy, is the CEO of Hay House, the publishing company Louise Hay started at age 60. See the first photo meme at the beginning of the blog post…yes, that Louise Hay. 

The series is excellent. I’m inspired and further encouraged, and Reid starts right off with saying it’s never too soon – or too late – to begin. The first video concludes with author Doreen Virtue sharing the above quote, along with the story of an 82 year old woman whose book was still within her, waiting to be freed. I was thrilled to learn that she wrote her book. 

It was absolutely not a coincidence that this series is created by Hay House and that it found its way to me. The hint that it was coming was given to me last Sunday. 

  
Another email arrived yesterday as well, from a Travel Writer group. By now, I was becoming aware, not only of the synchronous answers that I was receiving, but that I had a question…a deep question that centered around timing, purpose and ability. I felt humbled. 

  
To slay any remaining doubt that I had, any last lingering question about whether I was too old for this adventure I’ve embarked on, two more memes appeared today, by way of social media. The message? It’s never too late…I’m never too old…to be what I might have been, to dream a new dream. 

Today I was beyond humbled by these timely and incredibly relevant answers. I am grateful, tearfully so. I feel cared for by a God who answers my heart felt questions, even the ones I’m not aware that I’m asking. I feel loved and encouraged. I am surrendering to the flow of creativity and going along for the ride, offering my gifts back to the world and to the Divine.

The full Reid Tracy quote is, “It’s never too soon or too late to start making your dreams a reality – whether it’s a book you’re writing, a new project you were just assigned, a business you’re now running or a wild idea you’ve always wanted to pursue.” 

Just do it, he says. Just do it, Doreen and Louise say. Just do it, whispers the Divine. I’ll do it, I say. It’s the perfect time. 

  

Surrender 41: Happy Birthday Son

Today is my son’s birthday. I wished him a fun filled day this morning. He and his lovely wife both had the day off, and got to spend it together. As I’ve moved through my day, I’ve thought of Nate, allowing memories to rise, one after the other. This boy, now a man, has been such a joy. As a youngster, his antics made me laugh. Now grown, he continues to make me smile, and fills my heart with pride and love. 

 

It’s been a big year for Nate, although perhaps all years are such. Although Nate and Megan had a quiet private wedding ceremony in November of 2014, last May they publicly proclaimed their love for each other, and joined their families together. What a joyous celebration it was!
 

 

In late July Nate, along with his sisters, told his grandfather good bye. I’m so grateful that there was time for the children and their sweeties to visit with Papa Bob at the hospital. Even as his health was failing, and his memory waned, Papa proudly told every nurse who stopped by about his grandkids. Nate was a quiet presence during that challenging time. At the memorial service he joined his dad in carrying his Papa’s casket to its resting place. 

My son is strong, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Although he doesn’t seek attention, he’s a leader of others, by example rather than coercion. He thinks of others, offers help and encouragement, takes responsibility seriously. He accepted a promotion to Sergeant in his police department last fall, after careful consideration. I had the honor of being present as he received his new badge and stripes. 

 

  
Nate is not only a wonderful son, he is also a fun and loving brother, being the middle child between two sisters. Nothing brings me greater joy than watching my kids interact as adults. They laugh and chat and have each other’s backs. As the boy, Nate has always been protective of his sisters. But make no mistake! Elissa and Adriel are just as fierce about their brother. 
 Picture collage by Megan, chronicling last night’s birthday celebration.  

And this handsome young man is an exceptional husband to Megan and father to Aubrey, Oliver and Joey. It makes my heart sing to watch my son with his family…the tenderness he expresses to his wife…the playful way he interacts with the kids. He may not be fully aware of how precious the gift of his presence is, however, he is creating memories with those growing children. And more than that, he is impacting those young lives in ways that will stay with them and guide them as they grow into adults. 

 

I’m very proud of the man my son has matured into. He is loyal, faithful, intuitive, conscientious, just. He’s also witty, fun-loving, creative, musical and artistic. For Halloween last October, me made his storm trooper costume, other than the helmet and boots, which he purchased. He made it because he enjoyed the creative process and the challenge. 

I watched my son last year at the Maple Leaf Parade, tall and straight-backed in his uniform, as he prepared to lead off the event. Unbeknownst to him, I snapped pics as he spoke with the Police Chief and then stood at attention. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable within his own skin. 

  
I remember as a toddler, Nate sat in his high chair at the dining table, as I went through all of our relatives with Elissa, explaining how everyone was related and connected in our family. He listened intently, a two year old trying to follow along. He brightened up as I finished, and added, “And me’s Nathanael, right?” Yes, son, yes you are. And you are so very good at being Nathanael…Nate. You inspire me. His name means “gift of God”, and he truly is. Happy birthday Son. I love you very much!