July 28, 2014


Yesterday I had the privilege and honor of speaking at my grandpa's funeral.

Grandpa was blessed with a long, happy life, and as his life drew to an end he was then blessed with the opportunity to say good-bye to his children before he peacefully passed away.

When making plans for his funeral, grandpa had asked that the two oldest grandchildren share some of their thoughts at the service. Given that I'm not either of those (I'm more like the 12th oldest), it was a bittersweet moment for me to read through the family's special memories as I stood next to the second oldest grandchild. The oldest grandchild, Steve, passed away six years ago. And we all still miss him terribly.

My cousin began our remarks by sharing some of his special memories of grandpa. Next, I had the following comments before reading through several family stories. I wasn't sure how to end so I googled, "what to say at a funeral" and found the concluding poem.

In 2009 our family collected stories and special memories that we had of grandpa, and then read them aloud to him on his 90th birthday.  As we reminisced about the past, patterns began to emerge in our recollections of him.

Grandpa was a hard worker, a provider, and a helping hand.
He had a servant’s heart and was humble and kind and giving.

Grandpa found joy in life and faced death not with fear, but with peace.

Even only as one man, he had a profound impact on the lives of countless loved ones, and his legacy lives on in his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To all of the family members who contributed the following stories, thank you.

When I’m Gone
By Mrs. Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile,
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile.

Forget unkind words I have spoken;
Remember some good I have done,
Forget that I ever had a heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun.

Forget that I have stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way,
Remember I have fought
Some hard battles and won,
Ere the close of the day,

Then forget to grieve for my going,
I would not have you sad for a day,
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay

And come in the evening
When the sun paints the sky to the west,
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best.

-photo taken by my cousin Rhonda-

July 10, 2014

Who are you...

I've noticed that I've been thinking a lot lately about who I am. Not that I don't know I'm a mom, a co-worker, a wife, etc. But, I mean, who am I? What makes up my being? How am I defined? If asked, can I accurately describe myself?

As the caterpillar once inquired... "Whoooooo Rrrrrr Uuuuu?"
Side question- what's with Alice in Wonderland? Why did society ever approve the use of hookah-smoking caterpillars, drunken party-goers, glutenous walruses, and raging lunatics in children's movies?

Who am I?

Well, first there's the easy stuff. I'm a mom, a wife, a co-worker, a daughter, a sister, a Christian and soon, a student. At one time I had blond hair, I'm legally blind in one eye, and I've had more surgeries than I can count. But, does that really define me? I'm not sure...

A few weeks ago I tried to complete a simple questionnaire that asked about my hobbies. I sat, staring at the question, wondering what to write down. Hobbies? What are those? Do you mean like dressing, feeding, and carting children around; collapsing on the couch as soon as the kids are in bed; and trying to manage a household while still maintaining full-time working (outside of the home) mom status?

Or, do you mean something more like taking long walks, reading books, blogging, organizing photos, and playing piano? I know that at some point in my life I would have listed those as hobbies, but when does something go from being a hobby that I no longer have time for to being only a memory of something I used to like to do...when I had the time, energy and money?

Do my goals and aspirations define me? I hope to build a house some day (we even have the blue prints already); I plan to complete my Master's degree before Ryan finishes first grade; and I am excited about where my career path might lead me. Does that provide framework for defining who I am?

What about my interests? I'm interested in leadership opportunities, career development, and education. On the other hand, I also enjoy time with friends (never enough of that... I miss my friends!), growing beautiful flowers, and developing and nurturing my children. So, can I say that's who I am?

I am passionate about things like supporting the success of students of all ages and backgrounds, creating an environment that encourages meaningful worship at church, and providing knowledge and advice, both personal and professional, whenever possible. Even though I'm still struggling to fully define my passions, can I use them to define me?

I'm self-conscience about my weight. I fear that I'm always saying the wrong thing or making myself out to be a fool. I can't keep my house clean, weeds pulled, or my laundry done, and I hardly ever cook (my husband often makes our meals). My children, most likely, aren't being disciplined the way someone else thinks they should be, and I don't read to them as often as I should. I worry about our finances, wonder why we can't "keep up with the Jones" and feel anxious when we can't afford nicer things or contribute more money when asked. Sometimes I get upset over ridiculous things, I cry at just about everything, I feel like life is a competition and I'm not always winning, and I gossip. Can I leave these things off the list or must I also include them in what makes me, me?

I'm affiliated with one political party, but almost always vote for the other one. I'm not sure where I stand on several social issues. I have strong opinions about some things, but I very rarely disclose them. Because I'm "on the fence" can I use this information to describe me, or must I wait until I know how it all fits together?

I like fresh fruits and vegetables, but never eat enough of them. I prefer salty to sweet. I hate cheese, love meat, and enjoy an iced coffee every morning for breakfast. Does what I put into my body define my being?

I want to change the world, but do it quietly and loud. I want to start things, but once I'm started I wonder why I ever started and how I will ever finish. My body no longer belongs to me. It is often, instead, a vessel used to meet the needs of my children (Who cares if I feel like I might break a hip bending over to pick up a toy while holding my son? He wants the toy and I don't have time to put him down, so....).

I used to have hobbies. I can list some of my interests and goals and aspirations. I am passionate...sometimes. I have faults and defaults. My ideas and feelings occasionally waiver. I do not always recognize the person that I see in the mirror.

But, I suppose, that is who I am.