Thursday, August 30, 2007

And Finally, The Azores, Parts 5&6

It started as a rainy day, day 5 in Faja Grande, Flores. It was also our last full day on our beautiful island, being indoors wasn't an option. Emilie and I took a walk in the rain up to the cruz (the cross) which over looks Faja Grande. It was so wonderful to look down over our town, and see it from the cross. As I think about it, I saw it from the cross the entire time.
I saw how the sin, lies, shame, and hurt of my life had been redeemed.

Later in the day other relatives who had traveled with us from the Ca. to Azores arrived (they had been on a tour of some of the other islands in the Azores before joining us in Flores where they would all stay another week, with the exception of Emilie and I).

The rest of the day we enjoyed our little village and time with family

Emilie with my cousin Aaron
Top L to R- Rick,Anna, Steve Emilie, Toni, and Aunt Violet.
Me with my "Favorite Aunt Violet" (my dad's oldest sister).

In the evening we took another walk up to the Poco de Bacalau. My cousin Kennedy joined us.

Day 6, we prepared to leave our Isla de Flores by saying goodbyes to people and family we had met in Faja Grande. I am especially grateful to my cousin Victor who drove me first to the Pointe (the little town beside ours), and then up to a road overlooking Faja Grande. I stood there with a heart full of gratitude to God for giving me this wonderful heritage and family . I stood there in awe of the beauty of my home.

God is a mysterious God. I think of the scripture that says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has prepared for those who love him." I could have never fathomed he had all this, and I know that this is nothing compared to what he has in mind for me -and for you!
I think that this trip was so amazing because I went with my "heart wide open. "

(Muntu bonito means it is very pretty)

How I want to live a life everyday that sees things from the cross, that enters the mystery of God with my heart wide open.
That is my prayer for you (and for me).

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's Friday but Sunday is Coming!

Lyrics to the song Sunday by Tree 63

Nothings sacred, the days are cheap
Truth is thin on the ground
Still our prophets are crucified
Nobody believes we're stumbling
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming

Someones saying a prayer tonight
For hungry mouths to be filled
Someone kneels in the dark somewhere
And darkness is already crumbling
It's Friday, but Sunday comes

Sunday Hallelujah it's not so far, it's not so far away
Sunday Hallelujah it's not so far, it's not so far away

Broken promises, weary hearts
But one promise remains:
Crucified, he will come again
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming
It's Friday, but Sunday comes


Darkness is already crumbling
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming

Sunday, August 26, 2007

5 down, 175 more to go!

I am glad to say we have completed 5 of our 180 days of school (How many more days till fall break?).
Here is one of my favorite moments from this school week- Josie reading her first book.

btw- you should know that Josie has been joining us for school for 2+ years. She has been working on her letters and phonics for some time. My other children were not reading till mid kindergarten.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Where's Waldo?

So I am posting this for no other reason than to make my sister-in-laws, imperfect and we live where we are smile! I think the picture should be called "Strike a Pose," my hubby Michael thinks it should be called "Where's Waldo."
As you can see from imperfect's blog my beautiful sister-in-laws are famous for striking a pose together, can you blame me for wanting to get in on the action?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whole Lot-a Camping Going On

Each summer Michael picks one kiddo to have an overnighter with him in his tent in our yard. This year it was Josie's turn. She was thrilled to have daddy time, to stay up late, to read stories to him from her first and second phonic books- "Sam and Pam can bat" and " Tom has a ham." She also loved snuggling close to her daddy and stargazing.

Josie's favorite thing about camping was going next door to the neighbor's (our very good friends Steve and Melanie) house and making animal noises outside their window.
Why would we do this? Steve and Melanie have a new tent, and it is set up in their living room. They are sleeping in it all week (which I could never do knowing my cozy mattress was down the hall) and doing something campingish every evening. They have already roasted marshmallows over a torch, and last night were playing cards when we -the mountain lion, coyote, and swallow arrived to startle them.

I think tonight Steve should get out his guitar and play Cumbaya while Melanie eats gorp!

Out of Breath

"I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise, I will say this is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice for he has made me glad."

I recall hearing once (in the throws of this child rearing thing) a M.O.P.'s speaker say that "I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his courts with praise."
And it struck me that I don't.
Often as a stay at home wife, mommy, teacher, referee, cook, cleaner, nurse, banker, taxi...
I don't get close to the gates, because I am spinning in too many directions, and I find myself out of breath.
Recently I found that I had I.C. (Interstitial Cystitus), and a week later found that I have another medical problem that needs answers and healing.
This isn't a time to be out of breath, this is the time when I need the Breath of God.
So, I run to the gates with thanksgiving... Thank you Father for Michael and how he places everything else aside to love me. Thank you for Noah's smile and the way he looks at me, just as he did when he was young, delighting in his mommy. Thank you for Emilie's gentleness and tender heart, and thank you for Josie's enthusiasm for life. Thank you that you are big enough to handle everything that concerns me, because I am not. Thank you that you go before me and behind me. Thank you that you go before and behind my children, and that you write their lives... the gates already open, I'm in once again, finding what I need- a good dose of the Father's comfort, peace, truth (perspective), and hope.

I'm praying that you will run to the Fathers gates with thanksgiving in your heart, that you will find relief as God breaths new life into you, that you will rejoice as he makes you glad.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school. I am now mommy and teacher to a Kindergartner, 3rd and 4th grader- Aahhhhhhh!
Josie was lying in her bed asleep last night as I sat next to her in tears, "please don't grow up, please, please, please stay little." I spent their little years dreaming of what they'd be like when they were big, now I spend their days wanting so much for them to be little.
Josie woke ready to learn, ready to begin the next chapter of her life. I can cry for the pages of life not to turn, I can sit at the bedside of each of my children pleading with God to let me keep them just as they are, I can attempt to hold the pages open a bit longer, but then I must mourn their turning, kiss them good bye and tell them how I love them, and finally- I must turn with them. Thankfully I know the One who turns the pages, and I know the One who has written their lives. I come to him with great expectations knowing he has more for them than I can grasp or imagine.

Because we homeschool, we want to make the first day of school a memorable day for the kids. We always start the school year off with a special first day of school breakfast.
And we always take first day of school pictures (the school photographer is hot! So is the guy who works in the school cafeteria).
I have to point out that Josie is wearing my dress from when I was little.
And of course a class picture too!

Here are some words from Sarah Markley's blog the best days of my life
"Its my selfish wish that they will run ahead as fast as they safely can, but really never lose sight of where they came from."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nana is 60, And Happy 40th!!

This weekend we went to S.L.O. to celebrate my mother-in-law's 60th birthday, and my in-laws 40th wedding anniversary (coming up later this month). We all surprised them by sending them to a spa at Avila Beach for brunch and a soak in the hot springs, followed by wine tastings at various wineries, but at their last winery as they arrived for tastings, a chorus of Joneses & Cheney's surprised Nana by singing Happy Birthday! It was a great surprise! We had a wonderful lunch there at the winery, and blessed her with a frame filled with family photos and "60 Things We Love About Mom."

60 Things We Love About Mom

You always made the best costumes for me, like the Hobo, Superman, Spaceman and the Warewolf. You always went out of your way to give us your best most creative ideas.-Michael • I love that you have always been so creative and have nurtured that in me. You always let me try out whatever crafts or projects you were working on, from tole painting to jewelry making.- Lindsey • You are a great role model.- Jennifer • I always loved when you would visit me during college, You always took me grocery shopping.-Christopher • We have appreciated all of your love, support, cheering, back rubs, tenderness and prayers at the arrival of all of our children... “It’s a boy, and he’s hung!”- Michael & Denise • I always like going in the car with you and Gramps.-Luke • I appreciate you taking time with me to make all my formal dresses.- Lindsey • You are a wonderful listener and teacher.-Jennifer • We loved going to Europe with mom/ nana and dad/ gramps! -Sean, LIndsey, Gracie & Lily • Thank you for being a Den Mother and Soccer Mom, and supporting and encouraging all the other programs and activities I was involved in.- Michael • I will always remember our special time during your pedicures-Michelle • You taught me how to make great chocolate chip cookies.-Jennifer • We are so thankful to have had you in the delivery room for the birth of each of our 3 kids. -Sean & Lindsey • We really liked playing miniature golf with you.- Luke & Nicholas • You treat everyone as an individual.-Charles • Cyndi Presho once told me that after dropping me off for college in Montana, she found you crying in the backroom at the office because you missed me. I didn’t realize how it affected you. - Michael • I always appreciated your support for leaving highschool early and moving to SLO.-Christopher • I love that you are never afraid to dive into a project and get dirty.- Lindsey • “Mmmhm”-Denise • Your support and help with the birth of our two children.-Christopher & Michelle • I liked when we went to tea, and we had peach tea with scones for my 5th b-day. I also liked when we went shopping and to Baja Fresh for my 7th b-day. I like having girl time with you. -Emilie • I liked when you did take me to Disney on Ice, and I weared the Minnie costume, and I holded your hand. And I liked when we went to “Macawoni Greel”, and I liked shopping with you.-Josie • You’re never ending love and support.-Christopher & Jennifer • I love that you never taught jennifer or I to wear make-up, that it was always unimportant and unnecessary.-Lindsey • I like when you read a Christmas story to us. We sit right by you on the chair. We like having family time with you. -Noah, Emilie & Josie • Thank you for your acceptance of me and my choices, that you love me just the way I am.-Jennifer • Your infamous YMCA dance on the back of the boat.-Christopher • I loved hearing of your tenderness, in how you sang hymns to gramps as he went home. He went from your praise to the praise of a heavenly choir.- Denise • It meant so much to me to have your support all throughout the volleyball seasons. You made it to almost every game and tournament, home and away.-Lindsey •
When I am singing in church, you look at me in a way that says, "that's my girl." I love when you delight in me.- Denise • You are incredibly generous of heart.-Charles • I love all the special halloween costumes you made for me and my boys over the years.-Christopher • We all cherish our weekend at the Delta in Callisto, and look forward to more.-Christopher, Michelle, Luke & Nicholas • We love the fun gifts that you bring back for us from your trips with gramps.-Gracie & Lily • I love your gift of hospitality and generosity in sharing your home. When I was dating Michael, he invited a group of us over to the house, I said, "don't you need to ask your parents?" He replied, "no, it is my house too." That was so foreign to me to be able to have people in your home whenever. I want a home like that. In my 14yrs here, I have lived with you twice (as a 21 yr old girl and as your daughter-in-love), I have had weekend events in your home, and I have had more parties there than I can count (most of them with your help, as you grow hospitality in me). Your home is now my home too, and I find it and you to be the home I grew up in.- Denise • You always sees the positives and have a perma-grin.-Charles • You are always ready for a new adventure.-Jennifer • I love that you gave me free access to your sewing machine to learn how to sew. Sorry for breaking it so many times!- Lindsey • I had fun when we walked around the big house and we went to the donut store with Nana and Gramps. -Josie • I love that you always made us the coolest halloween costumes!-Lindsey • You modeled being still and knowing that He is God In those moments just after Emilie's birth as you prayed. Then stayed at my side, when I couldn't be by hers (and thanks for breaking the window to get the camera, I would have missed all those moments with out it).- Denise • Having you involved with Bass Lake Ski School-Christopher • I love how you love my kids, play with them, and connect with them.- Lindsey •I will always treasure our trips to Puerto Vallarta and remember you doing tequilla poppers at a Fiesta.-Christopher • I like that you always sends me a valentines day card and little gift.-Jennifer • I enjoyed hearing that you bragged about me to the gallary owner in Laguna, and wanted to make it known that your son made the images. I often hear you brag about all of us kids. I like that you are so proud of all your children. -Michael • I appreciate how helpful you are when you visit.- Lindsey • So much of who I am is because of you.-Jennifer I so appreciate the close friendship we have even after the years of hardships I put you through. You are very forgiving.- Lindsey • You are very fair minded and diplomatic, which can be a challenge with 4 kids and their SO's-Charles • I like your never-ending creativity.-Jennifer • Softball tournaments at Bass Lake, loved having you at school, except when I hit Lindsey with a tennis ball at recess.-Christopher • I want to be like you when I grow up, for you are not easily rattled by life’s circumstances, you alwasy give room to learn and grow, and you never judge. You listen, love, hope, wait and trust._-Denise • You have always been very welcoming and immediately made me feel part of the family.-Charles • Thank you for passing the “family jeans” to me. -Michael • I appreciate how laidback and easy going you are about holidays and birthdays. And that you never hold a grudge when I forget your birthday, anniversary, or mother's day! sorry again, mom!- Lindsey • I always loved my birthday parties at Malibu Grand Prix.-Christopher • I liked when Nana took me on Space Mountain (my first roller coaster ride) for the first time. I had so much fun!- Noah/ I remember the excitement in your voice when you called and told me my baby went on a rollercoaster and loved it-Denise • You were such a great role model for us and you instilled a good work ethic in us.-Christopher •

The weekend was made more wonderful because we got to see our new nephew (just 2 weeks old) Silas Ryan Cheney! Oooh look at those yummy cheeks (his not mine), and all that hair! It's fun to have a baby in the family again (especially when I can hold'm when I want then give'm back).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Being made Real

From the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A conversation between Rabbit and the Skin Horse-

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long , long time, not just to play with , but really loves you, then you become Real." "Does it hurt?" "Sometimes." For he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen to people who break to easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.".... The rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

Grammi's House

The kids and I just returned from my moms. We had a good time, the kids got some spoiling from Grammi (I got some spoiling from Grammi). I also got a much needed break from the everyday... the laundry, floors, toys, fingerprints, taxi'n, bickering, cooking, going... going.. gone. That is how it seems, that I go till I'm gone. I become a mommy so consumed with everyday things, that I forget how much I love the important everyday things- the way my kids feel all cuddled up next to me, listening to them sing "cation bible school songs", Noah's imagination, Emilie's drawings, Josie's personality, a little hand in mine, sweet soft cheeks, and little people kisses.

Tuesday we went to Fairytale Town and to the Sacramento Zoo.
Grammi, Noah, Emilie, and Josie
Three adorable kiddos in the old woman's shoe
Noah hanging from the pirate ship
The girls and zebras show off their stripes
The only tarantula I'll go near
And, a little something fun for the adults too

Monday, August 13, 2007

Azores Part 4- A tour of the isla de Flores

On day 4 in Faja Grande my grandmother rented a van for the day to take us on a tour of the the island (or the isla de Flores).

All the lavender you see in this photograph is Hydrangeas. See how beautifully they climb the rock, the hillside, and frame the road around the isla de Flores.

The isla de Flores is about 30 miles around. It is lush with walls of hydrangeas, many waterfalls, caldedas (tops of volcanos, now filled with water and framed in hydrangeas). Farming and cattle land are divided by hydrangea or stone walls. The drive around the island was so beautiful that at many times I shouted at the driver to stop the car so I could jump out and take photos.
We stopped at a nursing home in one town to visit my grandfather's sister Tia Anna (we all refer to her as Tia Anina, Anina means little Anna). I met her 15yrs ago when she visited California. I was so fond of her then, as she was warm, friendly, and very pretty to me. She is the only one of my grandfather's siblings I have met. I was anxious to see her again. What a delight to find her to be just as I remembered her. Our visit was so quick. I sat close and hugged, and tried to soak up as much of her as I could. Tia Anina never married, and so she never had children, and before I left she said, "I never had a daughter, but if I had I'd want her to be you." Hmmmm- Belonging.

Next, stopped in the town of Santa Cruz, and had some pizza, did some shopping, and visited the beautiful jarden (garden pronounced jar deen). The jarden had animals, a park and a variety of beautiful flowers. At the jarden, we met a man named Moses who was visiting Flores from Oakdale Ca. As some of you know I am from Oakdale ("The Cowboy Capital of the World" and home of the Hershey factory- although my shpeel will soon have to change as the Hershey factory is moving to Mexico). It is crazy to be on the other side of the world and to meet people who are from your neck of the woods.

What a beautiful day. It was so generous of my grandmother to make this tour happen for us. She must have loved having 2 of her loves together at last, her isla de Flores and her grandaughters. Here grandma is with her sister Marianna at the Point of Mustarda.

Counting on His faithfulness

I have been thinking about turning my please to praise. I have wasted too much of my life saying "why," too much of my life saying "please take this from me." I am not saying it is wrong to have these conversations with God, we need to, he's daddy, so of course we're gonna tell him we are hurting, and of course we are going to ask him to put his band-aid on it and fix it. But what when He doesn't? He doesn't stop being God, and in those times I need all His Godness. I need His strength, truth, power, mercy, compassion, grace, love, tenderness, light, hope... This is what I know- He always works it out for good, He always has His hand in every situation, He is always for me, His love is immeasurable for me, I am His treasure, He delights in me, and even when I have been faithless He's always been faithful to me.

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me.

By Sara Groves

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It has been a very trying week. Trying physically, emotionally, spiritually. Nearly 6 months ago I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy. It was a hard decision to make, the thought of being 33 and having a hysterectomy was a lot to process. But the physical pain I was in from endometriosis was too much, and it was affecting every area of our lives. After surgery and recovery the physical symptoms were gone, however depression showed it's ugly face, and the fight was on. Thankfully, after a few months with counseling, and vitamins (Mannatech), I found myself to feel better than I had felt in years. I had forgotten that I could feel that good physically and emotionally.
In the past few weeks however some of the symptoms have returned.
I find myself sad, I just wanted to be done with that season.
This week I was diagnosed as having Interstitial Cystitis. Meaning the lining in the bladder is thin or no longer, causing severe pain. I will change my diet, and I have begun a new drug, Elmiron. I really dislike using medication to heal my body, I fear the side affects, but this seems like the only option.
The hardest thing about being in pain, is not feeling yourself, feeling as if you have been stolen away. I was just remembering that I like who I am ,and that I really like my husband and kids, I really like life,other people, and God. Being in pain makes me feel as if I am spinning, the little unimportant things set me off too easily. So, today I have sent the kids to a friends for the day (Michael has a wedding), there they will be free to be kids, and I will have fewer things to beat myself up over at the end of this day.
I try to find the good in this, I know that being in pain does make me more sensitive and compassionate to others who hurt. I have seen my own kids grow in mercy, compassion, kindness, and helpfulness. These are beautiful things to see in them, but it is hard, I want them to be carefree kids for as long as they can, but God knows better. I can only count on him for the shaping and molding of their lives in the circumstances of ours.
Need some covering.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A bit of creativity

I married into a family of very creative and handy people (see imperfect ). As a young boy, my husband and his siblings had the opportunity to work alongside their parents. Michael can usually figure out how to do most anything. The Jones family inspires me to think outside the box and to be creative. Here are a few things we have worked on this summer.
This is a buffet on long term loan to us from my sister-in-law Lindsey. Originally it was an antiqued mustardy yellow color, but we decide to paint it red. We added some inexpensive botanical prints on the wall behind it. Any suggestions on what color to paint the frames or how to jazz up the lamp?
More botanical prints above the piano (the frames came a grayish green color). The piano has an amazing story. When we built this house, pre sheet rock, we had some friends over for a graffiti night. We graffiti'd the house with scriptures, hymns, and praise songs. On this spot where the piano is, I wrote "Worship the Lord with gladness- home of our future piano" We did not have a piano at the time, could never afford one, but I had always wanted one, wanted to learn to play, and wanted my children to learn to play. 2 weeks after we moved into our home an acquaintance called, she said she had a piano that she needed to get rid of, she considered selling it, when I came to mind, and she said if I wanted it I could have it! Michael cleaned, stripped, and painted it. The piano tuner came and gave it some love'n too. This fall will begin mine and Noah's third year of lessons, Emilie's second, and Josie's first (with thanks to my mom for her $ help for lessons). The blessing of the piano makes me think about all the other words written on this house, and to have great expectations for all the ways God will use them to shape our lives.
The accent pillows on the couch were sown by me. Lindsey has been my sewing inspiration and teacher. My mother-in-law Cindy helped me with piping on the blue floral pillows.

I am a fan of anything Mary Englebright. You can see my very Mary kitchen above. after painting it 4x, I think I finally got the right color of green (I think). This week, after 2 1/2 years of living here, we finally added handles and knobs to the cabinets and drawers. The island was given to us by, you guessed it, Lindsey!

For the outdoors I got some inexpensive pots at Wal-Mart, painted them, and added them as accents in the yard. The hydrangea above bloomed just in time to welcome me home from the Azores!
This easle was from our old house in Bass Lake. The woman who lived there before us was a painter. Like many things, I have dragged it everywhere with us, waiting to find a home for it.
I finally decided to paint it, and to add a chalk board to it. Tucked in the corner of the yard, it is a welcome sign for guests, a place to write scripture or quotes, or a place for the kids to get creative too.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Azores- Part 3

I have been away and unable to blog, email, or function because our computer crashed! Thankfully all was saved, and Mac Daddy was able to fix and improve our computer.

Now where was I...

Day 3, in Faja Grande Flores- We woke to sweet bread, cha (tea) and eggs (fresh from the chicken). We then took a walk with our grandmother around Faja Grande. We saw the 2 houses she and my grandfather lived in, and the homes where my dad and aunts were born. We saw the terras (lands) my grandparents owned and worked. We saw the creek where my grandmother would do laundry. I have to say I had always felt a bit sorry for her having to do laundry for a large family in a creek, but this creek was surrounded by hydrangeas, with a waterfall in front of it, and the Atlantic Ocean at it's left. I wish my laundry room was that kind of escape, my Kenmore from Sears could never compare.
The highlight of our walk was getting a tour of my grandfather's childhood home. I am so thankful to my cousin Leonardo for taking me into each room, telling me of it's history, naming relatives in photographs, telling me more about my Teodosio family. I would have loved to have seen the little boy my grandfather was living, laughing, and playing in his home.

We had lunch at the restaurant at the point (where we met another cousin). Here you can see the rock that is the most western most point of Europe.

After lunch, Toni, Steve, Emilie and I went down to the ocean for a swim. Now I have to tell you I do not like water, I especially do not like water where there are fish and other fishy things. I am often a person who will not do something because of fear (silly fear), and I will later kick myself for not doing it. So here I am standing at the edge of this beautiful, clear, fishy (they were medium sized- aahhhh) Atlantic Ocean. The same ocean my grandfather so often told me he use to dive into and swim. And I did it, I dove in! It was wonderful. I bravely ventured out a little further, and enjoyed being in the waters that once held my grandfather. I wonder if from heaven's window he saw and delighted in me.

In the evening we took a walk up to the Poco de Bacalau (The Pond of Bacalau- a type of fish). A hydrangea path ushered us up a shallow river, past an old mill, and to a pond that was being fed by a beautiful waterfall, with hydrangea walls along side it all. All you can do is sit and take it in. It was breathtaking. Emilie really enjoyed her new friend Marcia (pronounced mar see uh) who joined us for the walk. Emilie does not speak Portuguese and Marcia does not speak English, but the two of them played as if they were old friends.

What a wonder filled day. What a blessing to walk in the steps of my grandfather, to swim in his pool, to absorb the beauty of his home Faja Grande. To better understand the man who is my first love here on earth, and the only man worthy to be my father, the man who walked me to and from school when I was little, the man to pray at my bed side, the man who's face always lit up when I walked in the door, the man who delighted in me, the man to walk me down the isle on my wedding day, the man who was so pleased with my husband when he visited our home and saw how I was treasured, the man who looked at his great grandchildren with joy and tears, who made me stand a little taller because I knew he was proud. Alzheimers and age slowly took him away until God took him home. I miss him everyday, but I rejoice because he is now made new- walking, swimming, absorbing the beauty of God, and His "better than life love."