Wednesday, April 29, 2009

REVIVING MY BACK YARD

Last year my back yard was blooming about this time. I had the deck lined with all kinds of beautiful flowers. It was a pleasant place to visit, and all the color brightened the view from the bedroom and family room windows. It was special.

Then my life got tuned upside down, and the back yard became a distant thought. I rarely went there for months as I had a yard man take over my duties. He cut the grass and I did minimal work to just keep the yard from becoming over-run.

But that all changed this past weekend as Wanda and I tackled the shrubs that needed trimming and cut back all the dead stuff in the back yard. We re-mulched the front flower beds, and Wanda and her Mother and sister, Kathy, planted flowers to put on the back deck.


The back yard is turning into a friendly place to visit again. Wanda and I worked for several hours on Saturday and Tuesday evening and my aching muscles and newly improved yards are the proof of it.

We have enjoyed the back porch as we have eaten breakfast and sipped morning coffee. Life looks bright again and I have a new spring in my step. That is what love, life, and God's love does for you. They all give you a hope and a future. 

God is good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

WHEN COOL CHILLS SETTLE IN

So what was the almost a disagreement about from last week? 

Several have asked and many probably have wondered.

Last Wednesday, I asked Wanda if there was anything that I did that bothered her or annoyed her. She couldn't really think of anything and then mentioned that the closest thing to bothering her was when I get on the cell phone too long. 

I told her that there wasn't really anything that I could think of that she did which bothered me at this point.

Later that evening after coming home from Wednesday night church, I walked into the house and noticed that she was heading toward the back of the house. I went to my laptop thinking that this would be a could time to make a quick check on emails and write a moment.

After a few moments, she returned to our family room next to the kitchen table where I was typing, but I didn't really notice or stop work on the computer.

After a while of working, I noticed that the room was rather quiet and maybe had a little frostiness and chill settling in. It had gotten quiet, too quiet even for two people. 

I should not have ignored her and kept my nose in the computer. After all, we are still on the honeymoon.

So, I got up and walked over to where she was sitting with her back to me in the recliner and got real close to her face. 

Yes, it was definitely cool and getting frostier by the moment. She hadn't said anything or acted out of the way, but it was a little cooler.

I smiled, got closer, and kissed her on the lips. 

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten on the computer and forgotten you," I said.

The kiss warmed the room and all was well.

As I stepped back I asked, "Do you like the flowers I bought you today?"

"Yes," Wanda sweetly responded. 

Preventive maintenance cures many problems before they start.

I wonder what our first argument will be about? 

I know that it is okay to work on laptops and talk on cell phones and so does Wanda, but I wonder how many marriages have been long frosted over by too much time spent in the wrong places.

Just wondering?

Friday, April 24, 2009

TV or NO TV?

What is the best way to develop a new love and grow a wonderful marriage? 

What about focusing again on the basics of marriage relationships? What about doing what you know to do? What about gleaning from those things you know worked in the first marriage and not including those things that didn't work in the first marriage? 

What about holding hands and praying together as the day begins?

What about listening more and talking less?

What about putting more emphasis on finding what pleases the other?

What about long walks, bicycle rides, and and sweet phone calls or text messages?

What about doing house chores together?

What about being thankful for what you have?

What about less TV or no TV?

Well, we are trying these ideas and more. Good second marriages happen just like good first marriages. It takes interest, effort, and love. It takes a lot of love.

The honeymoon continues.

Almost had a first disagreement, but a kiss ended it before it began. 

The honeymoon continues.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ARE MEN STUPID?

I mentioned to my church some months back that I had a sermon stirring in my heart to preach to men. The working title is something like "Men are Stupid!" Now not all men are stupid, but way too many fail to realize what they have in their wives until it is too late. I always helped Kristy and now I am helping Wanda in our home, but I could have done much more. There is a ton of work that goes into making a home "work". Homemakers are not given enough credit, and homemakers who work outside the home are given even less credit.

I have washed clothes, bought groceries, cooked "some", cleaned house, managed all home issues, and learned a whole lot!

Are men just stupid or what?

Now, I am not single and I should have preached my "Men Are Stupid" sermon before Wanda and I got married. I guess I don't want to belittle myself to her. That probably isn't fair to all the men who will hear the message as they shouldn't be belittled either in front of their spouses.

I am a blessed man twice over as God has given me a wonderful, sweet lady who loves me and is taking good care of me. When I pulled into the drive on Monday afternoon after a full day at the office and other church work, I felt for the first time in over a year and a half that my life was returning back to normal. I don't have to go anywhere, move anything, or deal with any hardship. 

Wanda fixed a beautiful dinner and I sat next to her that evening thinking in my heart how blessed I am. I left for a board meeting later and told the men before we adjourned that when they got home to look at their wives and give them a big hug. The men sat there understanding what I was telling them. They looked at me and knew that they should not take their wives for granted. They saw in my life that situations could change far too quickly.

I hope stupid men can learn. I am trying.

***

I am still trying to post part of the video of our wedding, but am having some technical problems. Hopefully, I can post it soon. It is too funny! My dad and siblings were a hoot!

Monday, April 20, 2009

BEGINNING A NEW LIFE TOGETHER

Our honeymoon continues, but it is Monday morning and I am about to leave for work again. Yes, preachers work more than just Sunday mornings! HA! Wanda is unpacking boxes from her house, and we are moving forward.

When you have a second marriage, there is a comparison to the beginning of that marriage that you have in your first marriage. Our premarital counselor, who lost his first wife due to death, told us that when you marry the first time you leave your father and mother and cleave to your spouse. You don't quit loving your father and mother, but you make your new spouse your first priority. That is true also in second marriages, except you leave your first spouse and cleave to your new mate.

Your love for your first spouse continues, but a new love and new life begins with the new spouse. That is where Wanda and I are now. We are making our new life together. Our love for our first spouses continues and will always be there, but God has blessed us with new love and a new life.

There are many, many other new dimensions to our new life together. In fact, too many to mention or discuss. But there is a peace, a joy, and thankfulness to God for His faithfulness to us. 

This new love came quickly and in an unexpected manner. I would have never dreamed that my daughters would propel me forward with a new life or that Kristy would prepare them to know and accept the new future. There are so many other ways God has affirmed His plan and will for Wanda and me. 

I will post a few other things about our wedding and maybe a partial video of the end of our wedding ceremony. You won't believe what my Dad and siblings did to us at the end of the ceremony. The ceremony was worshipful, sacred, holy, loving, tearful, sweet, and funny. 

Today is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice! Be glad. For His is Lord! We are beginning a new life together. God is good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

THE HONEYMOON CONTINUES

How long do honeymoons last? 

Well, the get-a-way trip part of our honeymoon had to end because life has to gone forward and there is work to do. But, the sweetness of new love is another story.

When we left on our honeymoon, my girls told me to stop and buy ice cream for Wanda if she asked for it. They knew that yhe first disappointment Kristy had with me was when I failed to stop on the Interstate Hwy to buy her some ice cream on our honeymoon. That was a subject that went on for years, but I learned and I assured them that I wouldn't make that mistake again. I haven't!

Blending families and making a new life together takes love, commitment, and give and take. That is where love comes into the equation. Wanda and I have made a commitment to make this marriage an even better ones that we both enjoyed with our first spouses. 

We have also agreed I will handled all the big stuff and she will handle all the little stuff. Thus far, nothing big has come up. HA! That is another little joke, very little.

My girls and Wanda's children have been so supportive as well as both of our families. We could not ask for a better reception among our friends, family, and church.

Now the honeymoon continues with new love everyday. Have we had an argument yet? No, not one. It is inevitable that a disagreement will come, but I would like to believe that we have learned from personal experience that tomorrow is not guaranteed so we must make the best of each day. That is our commitment. We will make everyday count and every day have newday of  love. 

And, if she wants ice cream, she will get it! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A WONDERFUL HONEYMOON



Little Claudia asked her new Nana on Monday, "When you went on your honeymoon, did you find some honey?"

That little girl asked a thought provoking question that could speak to all of us about love, marriage, and life. 

The short answer is yes, we did find some honey. God is blessing our marriage and is touching all of our family in the process. God told me that Wanda would bless me and my children, and that I would bless her and her children. That is happening.

We went to Hilton Head, SC, for our honeymoon and rested, relaxed and enjoyed some recreation! We went bike riding and sailing!





Our first kiss which took place after my father pronounced us man and wife was just the first. We have found a sweetness in life that could only come from God. 

We took a sunset cruise on the sailboat "Stars and Stripes" and I got to sail it. It won the prestigious race called the America's Cup in 1987 when Dennis Connor served as its captain.
I am not a sailor, but I enjoyed acting like a captain for a few minutes as I stood at the helm. There is a lot of skill that goes into sailing. I learned a lot in a brief time at the wheel. It was fun.

The honeymoon continues as we are setting up house. Wanda is working hard to get the house in order as we are merging two houses into one. We have taken some of my furnishing out and added some of hers, and we are purchasing a few new items. 

Wanda is a gift from God to me, my children and grands, and to my ministry. God is so good. He is so good to me.



video

Monday, April 13, 2009

AN EASTER WITH NEW MEANING


Easter was wonderful this year. I had planned on sharing more from our honeymoon, but Easter takes precedence. Wednesday I will share more pictures and info from our sweet honeymoon in Hilton Head, SC.  
My girls and kiddies were home and we all enjoyed Easter worship at Southside Assembly. The choir shared a powerful musical with inspiring testimonies of Christ's redemptive work. There were few dry eyes in church. 

I preached a brief message at the end of the choir presentation and had Jennifer read an excerpt from her blog that I have posted at the end of this post. She wrote it this past week after coming home to our house for the first time since their Mom passed. Her words are pointed and powerful and give new meaning to the victory of Easter. There were few dry eyes when she shared, but her words gave new hope and faith to many who had lost loved ones in recent days and months. Christ is alive! His life gives us hope for eternal life in heaven. 

Saturday night Nana Wanda helped the kiddies paint Easter eggs and prepared the most delicious Easter dinner. After church and Sunday dinner, the kiddies had an egg hunt in the back yard. They all had a blast and really liked the Easter baskets Nana Wanda prepared. They were all charged up from high intake of sugar. I call it hyper-plus. 











Later before Julie and her boys had to leave to return to Tampa, all of us went together to the cemetery for the girls to place Easter lilies at Kristy's grave. Wanda went with us too. Standing at her grave on Easter gave amazing peace and hope. Christ's victory is our victory. He paid the price for our sins on Calvary, but His Resurrection became the first fruits of our resurrection and eternal life. The sting has been taken out of death. We know there is a life to come.

Hallelujah!

Here is a picture of Kristy's grave marker where we all went to the cemetery. Kristy is not there. She is in heaven!


***


Where have I been?

I'm sorry I've just disappeared!

April has been very busy. I've been preparing for VBS, and working on Sunday school stuff. Plus the daily doings of a busy household with small children.

Now I'm in Tampa with Javier and the kids. My dad got married to Wanda on Friday. We arrived late Wednesday night in Tampa and on Thursday before the wedding we drove to Brandon and met Wanda and Paige, her four year old granddaughter.

I wondered how I would feel seeing my dad and Wanda together for the first time. You know what? It felt completely natural. I knew I would like Wanda but I just wondered how it would feel to see them together. There is something about Wanda that is comforting, warm, and a calming love you can feel.

There is much I want to share about the wedding, but I will have to come back later and write more.

Saturday we went to Jacksonville and went to my dad and now Wanda's home.

Dread filled my heart. I didn't want to go inside, but running away solves nothing. What else can one do but push forward? What was I dreading, you might wonder. Honestly, it had nothing to do with the changes. Simply put, that doesn't bother me. It had nothing to do with Wanda. It feels comforting and right that she is there. It was only about the fact that my mother wasn't going to be opening the door, waiting for me.

It was HARD. Harder than I thought to be there. Had I not had two small children and a husband there with me, I would have jumped in the car and driven straight to my mom's grave. Every fiber of my being wanted to fling myself on her grave and dig her out, screaming, "you're not supposed to be dead to us. Don't you know you're supposed to be in your house?"

I've never felt so angry about her being gone, her spirit so far away, so untouchable in heaven. I wanted her 
home. Greeting us in her kitchen. I could see her smile, imagine what she would say and do.

There were many bitter, angry and depressed tears. I haven't grieved like that before. I know where my mom is, my heart is set on the place where she is, my eyes focused on the goal of one day getting there myself. But Saturday's tears boiled down to pity.
I don't regret those tears or letting myself grieve like that. I know God understands and gave me the space to just simply be human.

But you know what, one can't stay in that frame of mind long. It's a dangerous, dark place that pity, depression and anger leads you. They beckon with their cold, sharp 
tentacles. Desperate to wrap pity around one's mind and it's a horrible trap.

Thank God for His mercy and LOVE that are stronger... that are more powerful... and more wonderful than one can imagine. Thank God for His HOPE that is fresh... that flows like river... that fills your heart and gives life!

Sunday was a new day and I woke feeling... released, renewed and refreshed. Ready for a bright new future. Worship at Southside Assembly was wonderful! I went with Jesus by my side and praised my God just steps away from where my mother's coffin once held her earthly shell. I raised my hands in VICTORY because death didn't win! Through Jesus, there is eternal life. I smiled knowing in heaven my mom was dancing along with me! I felt like I was smiling with her, knowing a wonderful secret!


Friday, April 10, 2009

LOVE IS IN FULL BLOOM....



Here are more pictures of our wedding. The top picture is Wanda and me with the three ministers who performed our ceremony. The second picture is our first family prayer as I lead Wanda and our children and grandchildren in asking for God's blessings over our blended family.

The next picture the prayer of blessing over Wanda this past Sunday morning as she became the "First Lady" of Southside Assembly. The following picture is of us cutting our cake at the beautiful reception our church gave us after the morning service. Southside Assembly has so kindly and warmly received Wanda and have made us feel loved and accepted as a couple to lead this great church.

The last picture is of all of our grands. Look at their smiles. It tells all. They are happy and blessed to see God's favor on us.

Last week was a wonderful whirlwind of activity. Our blended family of children and grandchildren all met together for the first time for lunch on Friday before our wedding and had new family pictures made after lunch. It was a really fun, interesting, and exciting time watching the kids connect and the grandkids meet. 
Our wedding was beautiful, sacred, worshipful, tender, funny and exciting. We had our "First Kiss" after dad and my siblings had some fun with Wanda and me drawing it all out. 

We had made a vow not to kiss until our wedding kiss and we kept that vow. As dad pronounced us man and wife, he mentioned our vow to the those in attendance and then looked in his book and pocket for a "paper" with a poem. He could not find it and then asked Janet, my 30 + baby sister sitting in the audience, if she knew where the "paper" was? Then Max spoke up and Tricia, and finally Norma said she had it. Norma then read a poem entitled "The Kiss". 

When Norma finished her poem, dad finally let me kiss Wanda.

Wow! Shebang! 

What a kiss!

I had been asked before we were married, "What will you do if the lady can't kiss?"

My answer always was, "We will take some lessons."

Well, the pretty lady can kiss and we are having a wonderful honeymoon get-a-way at Hilton Head, SC.

God has been so good to us. We are grateful.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MORE PICTURES

Here is a picture of my beautiful wife and me taken on Friday at noon before our wedding. You can tell by our smiles that God has been so good to both of us. We are blessed. Our love story in an incredible journey that began in the heart of God. God spoke to me that Wanda would bless me and my children and that I would bless her and her children. We are seeing that promise coming to pass day by day in our lives.

The second picture is our blended family. Julie and Jennifer grew up as children with Mark and Jennifer, Wanda's children. We have doubled the number of our grandchildren. It was totally amazing to see them connecting and bonding as a new family. Paul, Javier, and Tara are wonderful spouses who add to the group. 

The grands are thrilled to have "new cousins". Claudia wanted to take Paige home with her to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now we have "two Alex's"  and three handsome little guys, Nic, Cole and Lorenzo. 

God has been so good to us. We are blessed of the Lord.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

TODAY, WE WILL BE MARRIED

Wanda and I are happy to announce that today is our wedding day. We will be married at Bartow First Assembly at 7 PM with our children, family, and church families invited to attend. We did not send out invitations but welcome those who have heard the news of our wedding.


Both of us as well as our families have been blessed as God has uniquely brought us together though we all have experienced difficult loses. 


God bless each of you for your love, prayers, support, and unusual kindnesses to us. Wanda and I are grateful to God for the new love He has given us and for the amazing manner that God is blending our families.


Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week, we will share photos that will celebrate our marriage.


On Monday, there will be a beautiful picture of Wanda and maybe a picture of the “Big Kiss”. 


****


Here are two pretty little girls who had just met each other for the first time just moments before this picture was taken. Claudia and Paige will become new cousins Friday evening at our wedding. They will have other new cousins, but this picture was just too cute not to post. Neither of them would call Wanda Nana or me Papa as they both said that they could not do that until we were married. Tonight we will be official! HA!


The second picture was taken as they rode a Merry-Go-Round. They had a ball as they met preparing to become "new cousins", and we had fun watching little ones make new life-long relationships.




Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DON'T MISS FRIDAY'S POST

I am planning on a few further changes in the blog in the next days. I will begin posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and will have more video’s and pictures. My desire is to use this blog to plea for the higher good through personal happenings and insights. 


Those who have followed this blog and my previous writings on Kristy’s blog have been so encouraging to me as well as to my children. This has been an incredible and an amazing journey these last months, and I believe that the Lord has put within my heart new ideas and thoughts to share as I continue in the new path he has directed.


This Friday I will make an important announcement concerning my future. It will include personal interest that many of you have desired to see and hear. I have veiled my personal plans for these last weeks and several months, but this Friday you will know more details of what God is doing in my life.


God has ordered plans for each of us. I have learned that when I don’t understand what is happening in my life that He will yet working it all together for my good.


God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He is so good to me.


Don't miss Friday’s post.