Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas with Sunshine and Palm Trees

Christmas 2017 found us in Arizona with sunshine and palm trees. No snow to be found but instead the twinkle of Christmas lights on palm trees filled the air! New friends, new experiences and new traditions, mixed with the old became my reality.

The holiday away from all that is familiar and traditional brought with it the opportunity to "do it differently." If there is one thing I have learned in my nearly 70 years, it is that Flexibility is the key to happiness on many occasions. So this year our tree was small (to match our home) and the gifts under it had come in boxes of love sent from the kids far away. Instead of 'hugs at the door" we did love through phone calls and Face Time and kisses thrown through the air.

Christmas dinner was spent at the Community Center with a crowd of other retirees in place of family. There was no turkey nor pumpkin pie. In its' place was ham  and chocolate cake.  Even with those traditions missing  I found that the 'SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS' was in the air.

Through the week different ones had shared their 'memories past' creating opportunity for us to be  reminded how blessed we have been throughout the years.  A story of tremendous sacrifice by parents so one little girl could have a doll to cherish.  A Dad who made Santa come to life, while another read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" story and shared the precious  memories it carries with it only to be revisited every Christmas season. The beauty of  these stories shared is that they come from souls who have lived through some of the most difficult times of this country. The incredible truth is that the love of families and friends, and for many, little miracles along the way, carried them through those times with memories wrapped as gifts, in thankfulness and awe.

As our Christmas cards have arrived this year the recurring message for the season has been "JOY."
I am reminded that  HAPPINESS is something I choose; but JOY comes through knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So this year I have CHOSEN  happiness in this our new setting: but my JOY has come from deep within, as I spend time in the PRESENCE of Jesus!!

I hope your Christmas was filled with happy times and that you found your JOY wrapped in the PRESENCE of Jesus!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Never To Old for Adventure

The Moody's have begun a new chapter in life!  Does that sound like a mantra you have heard before??
 In nearly 51 years of marriage there have been very few moments when 'boring' would have described my life. I walked down the isle to a begin a new life filled with more adventures and challenges than I could have ever imagined, and blessings beyond measure.
Life as a new wife began on the budget of a college student. Thankful for a Mom who taught me to cook, bake and share the bounty, creative casseroles and 'wonders' found their way to the table as new friends pulled up a chair. Living away from home with no telephone to call home, gave us a great opportunity to begin to build a foundation of strength, important to all marriages.
After a couple years, our first 'bundle of joy' entered the world and has lived up to that description for 49 years! The old adage of a baby slowing life down? We didn't get the memo!! A logging camp in Alaska, the addition of our first daughter (joy #2), living on an island, learning to order and receive food by mail, no radio or TV, leaning on one another for support, left us with another brick.
"And now there are 30"
 The  Oregon coast was home for a short time where twin boys (joys 3 & 4) brought a whole new level of life and fun into our family.
Then to a farm in the Willamette Valley and on to southern Oregon to a little bigger ranch and the welcoming of our youngest daughter (Joy #5). God only, could have planned the love, and Joy that  we have felt as each of these gifts were sent to us and the blessing of FAMILY they have made real. Amazing is the reality of variety in personalities and that special place in the heart that they each individually fill.
Montana was our next move, far away from friends and family and all things familiar. New opportunities and challenges for the entire crew became reality.  Each of us discovered that with all the moves and changes we had experienced in life the gift of flexibility had taken root. In the years following that move it has been amazing to see that gift at work in our lives and lives of each of children.
Welcome to AZ
Jim retired 5 years ago and we sold our home, bought a motor home and  have traveled the states, acquiring new friends and chiseling down that 'bucket list."
Following Thanksgiving this year we packed the car with feelings of anticipation of a new chapter in our lives. Nearly 2000 miles later, visits and hugs with family along the way, we arrived in Mesa, AZ.
The past couple weeks we have spent making a little house into HOME! Our first Christmas in many years without family hugs.  UPS, FED EX and USPS have done their best to deliver the love of our children in packages to be unwrapped.
As we again, open our door to new found friends and old cherished friends and family. As we make a place in our hearts for what God has in store for us in AZ. , we rejoice in this NEWEST opportunity for adventure!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Open Heart Open Home

Several years ago I read a book by that title and the title has always stuck with me. Partly because I was taught to make that the goal of my life....

Some of my earliest memories of growing up are the many visitors my parents welcomed to our home. From family, to church friends and missionaries those sharing a meal or staying a while, ran the gamut. Some of my fondest and fun filled memories were created around the dining table, stretched to its limits, filled with a home cooked meal and ending with one of Mom's "made from scratch" deserts. Oh, the stories, tears and laughter that were shared over those meals!
Our home was never the fanciest but the love, warm welcome and smell of food in the oven overshadowed any dust and "clutter" those who entered might have seen. Living in a busy house, Momma always said, "If you wait for things to be perfect you will never have someone in!" :) I have reminded myself of that often in the 50 years I have had my own home to share.

When Jim and I began our lifetime adventure it immediately became apparent that we would carry on the example my parents had set. Jim was in college and although our budget was MINIMUM there was always enough for a few more. 
Oh, the memories we made as I learned to make a pound of hamburger stretch to four meals :) Homemade rolls assured no one left hungry!
As time went on, and our family grew, the door swung open even wider and our home became the base for gatherings of neighborhood kids and the 'safe spot' for many who needed it. 

There was the homeless traveler who Jim brought home. He set with us for a meal, took a shower, told stories, and sang Spanish melodies by the fire. He left the next morning with clean clothes, a full stomach and a 'lunch to go.' He left behind a family with grateful hearts. Four young kids warned of the dangers in the world, and a prayer for "Henry" and his safety on our lips.

Or the 16 year old who lived with us until she felt safe again at home.

The teens who lived with us through the summer, 'working in the mill' to pay for school the following year. The family who needed a home away from home so they could care for a sick parent...and the list goes on. 

In the past few years since Jim retired and we have found the joy of Motor Home travels we have added guests  we have met whose homes were far from ours. "Stop by if you are ever in MT." 
Last Summer we had a chance encounter with a couple from Delaware. They were camped at the local Walmart and were missing their family far away. They joined us for a family Bar-B-Que where hugs were abundant.  What a joyful day it turned out to be for all. With the assistance of email we have kept in touch through out the year and next week we will travel to Delaware to enjoy a gift of love returned. 

There is not a need for gourmet food, a fancy house, or a table set with fine linen. Hot dogs, and paper plates will do just fine.  Spontaneous is sometimes the most fun!

It is the hug at the door, the welcoming smile; a meal seasoned with love and shared with joy that creates a refuge for a weary soul. 

Open your heart, swing wide the door of your home and bask in the joy of sharing!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

What Defines You

The Color Of My Hair Does Not Define Me

Getting older is an interesting experience and as many say "not for sissies." It is a road we will all walk down. Others may share with us their journeys but we quickly learn that each individual path has it's own dips and turns and detours.
As the years have added up, I have watched the progression of my friends and their outlook and expectations of life. How is it similar and how is it different from my own?
So much of the way we live out the 'later' years of our lives depends upon our perspective...

For me it started several years ago at my grandson's baseball game. My hair had turned snowy at an early age, but only a couple times had I attempted to change the color. (I always found it such a shocking experience when I passed the mirror that I soon decided it wasn't worth the 'loss of years' :) Pink has been the only color I have embraced.  As I trained for, and then walked the 3Day 60 Miles for breast cancer I wore a 'hint' of pink.

At this particular game I watched and listened as the entire front row of white haired ladies interacted during the game.
As the game ended and we headed toward the car I proclaimed to my family that "I don't want to ever be known as a little ol' white haired lady!!" In the years since I have tried to keep myself active and healthy being able to enjoy my children, grandchildren and great-grandchild!!
As the mother of 5, my 3 boys have always proudly assured me that I have earned every one of my white hairs. They come as a 'badge of honor' for a busy, adventure filled life!

It was interesting, however, when at a meeting last week, a woman across the table, pointed at me as she was talking about "little ol' white haired ladies." When I realized that she was referring to ME as being a member of that group, my first response was "Well, I'm going brown tomorrow!!" Now, I must clarify that she was a stranger and didn't know me at all, nor my lifestyle. But still it was an hilarious moment shared with my daughter who knows my thoughts on said subject.
In watching others walk through the years it is evident that the color of the hair does not prove to be the catalyst for 'old age'. Some people choose to be old long before the first strand of grey appears. That old-adage that you can speak something into existence is a truth for many. They claim, as impossibilities, many challenges of life. With those choices they miss out on many of the "AH HA" moments and the joy of crossing that 'impossible' finish line. 
I have learned that AGE does not need to define who I am or place limitations on my dreams.

The last five years of my life (I've been a 'senior' for several) have been filled with many firsts; activities I never would have attempted as a teen. Why?? Because I have come to realize the true blessing of life and living it to the fullest!! My goal... Enjoy life, endeavor to encourage and inspire others...and bring HOPE where it has lost it's way!

No matter the years marked by the calendar or the color of your hair I invite you to join me in making the remaining years memorable and full of meaning!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

When you have asked for God's protection....

After heading out of Arizona we turned south toward New Mexico and Texas to spend some time with yet more family.

God has been gracious as we have traveled these hundreds of miles; to give us safe travels although there have been opportunities to pause for thanksgiving.

 As we were traveling in New Mexico, the traffic slowed.  Several moments later we passed a pick up in the meridian turned on it's roof with  personal belongings leaving a trail for several miles. After a prayer for the driver we continued on.
Later in Texas we pulled into a rest area for lunch and a little walk.  After an hour or so we buckled up and were ready to go again. It was evident immediately that our plans were to be delayed. The next 3 hours we spent reading the engine manual and attempting to 'fire it up." It was  Good Friday and Easter weekend so the hope of finding help was not very promising.  As a last resort Jim pulled out a safety chip and replaced it again. The roar of a running engine never sounded better!!
In the midst of frustration, we were reminded of something we had read several years ago. The author had challenged.."When you have prayed and ask for God's traveling mercies...don't question when you find yourself delayed.  Instead be thankful for His protection even though you may never know what was in your path!" We decided this was a perfect time to put that into action. Amazing how that changes the perspective!! He loves us THAT much!! (When we stopped for the night an impressive storm had passed through the area ahead of us)

Our travels continued and we arrived safely in Duncanville, TX to the welcoming hugs of our nephew, his wife, and later our niece and family.
In our 50 years of marriage, many of those years have been spent living a far distance from family. Separation is often difficult and family visits become a treasure. This certainly proved to be true as we spent hours these past few days sharing old memories and making new ones.

Easter was spent together,celebrating the ressurrection of our Savior and the blessing of family!

Today found us back on the road excited for the adventures to come.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Home, New Friends, New Adventures

After 3 weeks in Mesa, Arizona we are on the road again...

We stopped in Palm Gardens Retirement Park in Mesa to thaw out after a long Montana winter. After a few days of walking the park, meeting some of the residents and enjoying the fellowship; we purchased a little home! Next winter we will join the other residents, as " snow birds" from Montana.

One of the best things about traveling is the people you meet. Mesa proved to be a treasure trove of new friends and fun activities to be a part of.
The older gentleman we bought our new home from, will be a forever friend. A dairy farmer from Michigan, father of 5 boys and grandfather of 16, was a joy to visit with. We promised to make the house our "HOME" and share some times of joy and love with others.
As the days passed we re-united with friends from our stay 3 years ago, and made new ones. We left town with phone numbers, addresses and promises to keep in touch; until we return next fall.
A writing class full of incredible women and led by a former English teacher was a bonus find for me. It provides a new opportunity to be challenged and learn from others.
The Arizona 'Grand Ol' Oprey" dinner theater provided an evening of good food, laughter and fun.
Finding the Mesa Swap Meet served to quench the need for shopping. Four tents, each a quarter mile long, filled with sales goods of all kinds, gives the opportunity to "shop till ya drop."
Sitting outside in the evenings, watching the airplanes overhead and the full moon through the tops of the palm trees we found peace.
As the time to leave approached we knew our decision to add an Arizona address to this new chapter in our lives was a good thing :)

After moving out of the motor home, we spent 3 nights making a new house, a home! Then it was back to the motor home and  'on the road again!'
 After  a short day of travel we find ourselves in Deming, New Mexico at the 81 Palms Resort for a night of rest.

Tomorrow we will fire up our home on wheels and add another day to this 50th year adventure.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life Changes

Being the youngest in a large family brings with it many changes and phases through life. As the 'baby sister' I spent years being watched over. I was given advise, love and pretty much anything my little heart desired. I was taken on shopping trips with treats, and that dress that was sure to transform me into the cutest thing ever!! Among the memories is a little black patent leather purse, shaped like a Scottie Dog. Yes, as a mom now, I have to admit I was probably a bit spoiled, or VERY WELL LOVED! (Perspective, right??)

In my teen years, when my brothers and sisters were raising children of their own; I was still seen as the baby sister. Our parents were older at that point and there were decisions that needed to be made concerning their health issues. Often those decisions were made without my input. Not,I realize now, because they meant to hurt me, but because from their perspective I was still the 'baby sister.'
There came the day I married, had children of my own and became an equal in their sight. Relationships blossomed and grew and new respect and memories were shared. Then as was bound to happen with the vast differences in age (21, 18 and 16 years) the dreaded day arrived and I have watched their health deteriorate and life as they had known it changed. In many ways I am once again that 'baby sister' on the outside looking in.

Finally, I am a "Big Girl"and sometimes I long for the pigtails and cute purses of days gone by!

It has been a strange place to be at times; that of a listening ear to my siblings, and that of the aunt whose age matches their own.
 I, with my siblings have already been through the health issues and loss of our parents. Constantly the new seasons of life bring with them new challenges and opportunities. My hope is that as I walk through the 'Golden Years' now with my siblings that I learn to value each day!

 It is with a heart praying for wisdom that I share the concerns from both generations and endeavor to be an encouragement and support to both.

Friday, March 31, 2017

50th Year Adventure....

In December of last year (2016) we celebrated our 50th year of marriage with the homecoming of all our children, their spouses and our Grands. We had a week full of food, laughter and love; as the siblings and cousins made new memories and relived the old, together as family.

The kids had planned and hosted a celebration party including our friends and many of their friends; who had become extended family throughout the years. Awwww..the memories; sweet, sweet memories.

As the children left for their homes and lives we begin to plan for "our" celebration. After alot of deliberation we decided on a motor home trip across the states, visiting friends, family and interesting sites.
With our usual collection of hugs from our kids and grandkids completed..we set out on March 13th.

Our sights were set for Palm Gardens in Mesa Arizona for some time of de-winterizing and sunshine. Palm Gardens had been one of our favorite communities on an earlier visit. We had found it to be a community warm with sunshine and friendly people. That, we discovered has not changed!!

With several days of relaxation under our belts we began checking out some of the homes behind the "For Sale" signs. In the process we met new friends and were convinced a new chapter in our life-adventure was about to begin. We began to talk in earnest about making Mesa our winter home. Out came the paper for the Pros and Cons list. The Pros seemed to outnumber the cons and as Jim said "We can do whatever we want! :)" So we are in the process of becoming homeowners in Arizona. Now, I have to admit this wasn't in the original 'travel plans' but if I have learned anything in the 50 years we have shared it is that flexibility makes life a lot more fun and exciting!

We will leave Mesa in a couple weeks, after some time spent creating a new home to welcome us in the fall. Visits with old friends and family, exploring new sites and adding new friends to our book, await us.

Our lives are blessed beyond measure and our hope is to leave a little love and a few smiles along the the way, as we continue to make new memories for the next 50!!!

Join me again as I take a moment to share as life continues to surprise and bless us. Until then I would love to hear how YOUR life is going :) Please leave a comment for me!