Tag: family

~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

ring from Dad 1024x576 ~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

I did not go home for Christmas this year, because I wanted solitude and reflection, instead.  But I missed my family very much ~ more than I thought I would.  I received one gift in the mail.  It was from my Dad.  This ring was tucked away inside a burlap pencil pouch.  I cried the instant I saw it.  And then I read the message inscribed on it, and cried some more.  Could my Dad have any idea what this means to me?  Was he inspired?  I don’t know how he meant it, but I know how I received it.

In addition to the sentiment of the ring, the message that is inscribed is perfect and fitting:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13″

I’m sure that it was made as some kind of chastity ring, and that is great, too, but the sentiment goes much deeper for me.  And I think it did for him, too.

Though I have been a pain in the ass for my dad, he has always been constant in my life.  And I love him for it.  And I love him for this ring.  I wear it proudly and thoughtfully.  Throughout the day I am constantly reminded of the message inscribed on it, and inscribed in my heart.  And I believe.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thank you, Dad.  I love you.

ring from Dad II 1024x577 ~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

ring from Dad III 634x1024 ~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

And yes, this is the first time I’ve written in over a year in this space.  I’d like it to become a habit again.  I enjoy it, and haven’t made time for it.  That needs to change.

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share save 256 24 ~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

forgiveness e1354147946549 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

“Do you think they’ll let us in?” I asked my husband.

“Of course.  It’s not like we have to show a homeless bag to prove our status.” he snickered.

We got in the soup kitchen line and received heaping masses of salad, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, ambrosia, turkey, ham, and rolls.  And man, was it all good.

We hoped to find connection here.  From past experience, we’ve learned that sometimes serving without connection isn’t very fulfilling.  So we scanned the room to find some empty seats to occupy, and break bread with the poor and transient.  What would it be like to have their experience with them, instead of lord over them, serving?

Stephen wouldn’t talk to us at first.  Just a nod here and there.  Maybe he was embarrassed.  Maybe he couldn’t hear.  Maybe he couldn’t talk.  Maybe he wanted his space to eat quietly.

It wasn’t until Keri, who smiled at us and started up a conversation, did Stephen come alive and join in.  Keri and Stephen have shared several meals together over the last year at the Food and Care Coalition.  They didn’t know each other’s names, but they knew each other’s faces.

Keri was packing up her extra food she wasn’t able to finish, and a little bit more, to take home.  “Do you have a place to go?” I asked.  “Yes.  Because we’ve been able to eat for free here the past year, I’ve been able to make our rent payment.  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday here – no questions asked.”

She was radiant.  She was friendly.  She was grateful.  She had recently come out of chemo.  Her son, Sam, was with her.  A teenager.  By his shifting weight and rolling eyes, I could tell he was embarrassed by her telling us her story.  I can only imagine what the last year of his life must have been like.  Likely no dad around, a very sick mother facing death, absent from his life as she fought for hers, maybe not always knowing where his next meal would come from.  By her friendly and gracious spirit, Keri defied my preconceived notions of the type of person that would be in a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving.

“Can I get you anything else?” one of the volunteers asked us after our plates were empty. I forget his name, but I can still remember his face.  40’s.  Handsome.  Clean and presentable.  You could say your typical middle-income guy.  He probably owns a house in the burbs, two cars, and a family.  But he admitted that he’d been laid off several months ago, from a University job he assumed he have forever.  As he looked around, it was as if his face was revealing his fear that perhaps next year, he and his family would be here, not as volunteers, but as a family needing a warm meal.

honesty e1354148080720 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

Marjorie was sitting clear in the front all by herself at an otherwise empty table, enjoying the entertainment on the stage (volunteer singers).  She wore a read sweater and had a red bow in her silver hair.  Age had hunched her back over.

I sheepishly pulled into the seat next to her and simply said, “hi.”  “Hi” she quietly but happily replied.  “I saw you sitting here all by yourself and thought that I’d like to get to know you.”  As her kind brown eyes flooded with tears, and then mine in like reaction, she said with a glowing smile, “Well aren’t you a sweetheart!”  Her cheeks were almost as red as the bow in her hair.  She was beautiful, and I told her so.

She was visiting from Kansas her daughter who was in the food line serving.  She wasn’t homeless, or even poor.  She was just old – which appeared to be as lonely and crippling.  She was a different kind of outcast.

Marjorie and I connected, soul to soul.  When time and space no longer separate us, I’m sure we’ll be friends.  I may have made her day by talking with her, but she made my day by asking if I was a student at the local collage.  ; )  (I had to explain that I’m much older than I look!)

I so wish I had captured Marjorie’s portrait.  But it didn’t feel right to ask.

The guy in the Lynyrd Skynyrd hat was hard-looking.  Like, Stephen, he didn’t seem to want to talk at first.  But after Daisy, the seeing-eye puppy in training, came over to visit our table, Todd opened up like a little kid with a big grin on his face.  Who doesn’t love puppies!  This Thanksgiving was not the first time Todd had been here.  Though he never said how long he’s been coming, I got this impression it had been quite awhile.  And when he told me he had no place to go to, I likewise got the feeling he had been transient for awhile, when he said, “they make it harder and harder to even sleep on the streets anymore.”

20121122130038 e1354147797536 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

Unlike Todd, it was D’s first time.  While he was eating his feast, it was Keri who told him about all the facility offered.  In addition to meals, he could shower, get internet service, and in the summers, tend the garden and eat of its fruits.  D was thrilled… how had he never heard of this place before, he wondered.  D has lived out of his car off and on for years so he can pay child support with whatever money he does make.

While D and I were talking, a gray haired man came up to our table to sit down.  His eyes didn’t look right, he walked with a severe limp, and he was signing to us.  Not knowing sign language, I stupidly looked at him and said, “I don’t understand.”  He persisted anyways, as if he didn’t really care that I couldn’t understand.  He seemed just happy to be ‘talking’.  But suddenly, he put his hand up, as if to say, “stop”.  Then he bowed his head in prayer over his food, and dramatically began signing his prayer.  It was so very beautiful.  I wanted to take a picture so badly, and I wrestled with myself, It’s too sacred, it would be rude.  But it’s so very beautiful.  So I took the picture, for better or for worse.

signlanguageprayer e1354147734569 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

My take away from this day was prominent: “But by the Grace of God, there go I.”  And there go you, and your family.  Not that these people don’t enjoy God’s grace.  They surely do.  They are beautiful and warm and friendly people.  None complained – it was amazing.  Keri especially touched my heart ~ after all she had been through, she was so gracious and loving, forgetting about herself and extending herself to others.  She was a true inspiration. She understands the real value of life… people.  In a world of gross consumption and rat racing, I found a peace in many of these people that is not often found.

This experience made Thanksgiving fulfilling, in a way that doesn’t involve stressing over what food to make, getting it made in time, serving everything warm, a mess of dishes afterwards – the result of hours and hours of preparation, only to be over in 30 minutes.  No, that all came on Sunday!  With the kids and grand kids.  And that was worth every second : ).

20121125140435 e1354147576905 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles


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~ Cousin Love ~
share save 256 24 Thanksgiving | Real People, Real Struggles

~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

IMG 20120907 113030 e1347068989863 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

My sweet grandson was over on Labor Day.  He came in from playing outside holding the first two purple flowers.  He handed them to me, “these are for you Grandma Angel!”  After being thrilled about receiving them, he came in with one more, beaming, loving the joy he was giving to me. <3

p20120907 184430 e1347069267394 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

Landon and Korbin.  Grandsons.  Cousins.  Playmates.  Cuteness.

p20120907 184742crop ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

Korbin.  Tea for one.  Sitting on a tea cup.  : )

p20120907 185550 e1347069621726 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

Good to see family that has been away for months.  A game of cards.  Texting.  And an apple.  Off they go again.  Will miss them.  Is Korbin not the cutest?

IMG 20120906 192314 Shaan50 e1347069909798 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

The simple solution for infertility.  We’ll see.  : )  Actually… I have a good feeling about this. I feel like my time is coming.  This morning I wrote about 1200 words on this renewed hope and gut feeling.  Not sharing here.  Not yet.  Meeting with Shirlyn next week for acupressure on my ovaries/fallopian tubes.

IMG 20120906 192249 Shaan50 e1347070230100 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~

Perseverance.  Oh, and I just noticed my horsey in the background between the chairs : )

IMG 20120822 225949 Antonio501 e1347070951829 ~ Family, Flowers, Fertility ~


One of my latest paintings.

“I caught a glimpse of my reflection and saw a divine soul.
A child of the Creator, an heir of the Kingdom.
The light you saw in me set me free.
My life work yet to be, unfurling so delicately.
I’m weaving the parts together that came undone.”

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~ My Family ~

woofs e1345602385564 ~ My Family ~

Officially known as Woofie Marie Kemp.
She has my middle name, and Mark’s last name :-)
Over 7 years old now.  She still acts like a playful pup.
Sweet as can be.  Will submit to a Chihuahua.  Wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Follows me around while I feed the other animals.
Feels lucky she is the only one that ever gets to come in the house.  (wild guess)

duckschicks e1345602722256 ~ My Family ~

When we went to get our chickens, I saw the ducks.
Had to have them.  Had to.
We thought we were getting two females.  We didn’t.  They hump a lot.  A lot.
They are noisy as heck, quacking every time they see us.
They want to be noticed, I guess.
They love frozen peas.
They rule over the chickens – but they all hang out.
The chickens come running out to me whenever I go around the horse.
The one facing this way is mean.  He pecks at my feet and legs.
So I started wearing my cowboy boots every time I go out, so I won’t get hurt.
But he’s missing now.
Some neighbors complained (rightfully so) that the chickens kept coming into their yard and messing things up.  So we had to contain them.  Miss Meany escaped and we haven’t seen her for days.  Smart one.  I wonder where her new home is.

raja e1345603221278 ~ My Family ~

This boy’s name was Photon when I got him.  But I couldn’t connect with it, so I changed it.
I had reviewed many names but nothing was sounding good.
So I asked to have a dream to find out his name.  I did.
I woke up with “Raja” on my mind.  Perfect!
Arabian – to suite his breed.
Pretty.  Yet masculine.
We both seem to love it.
Two people I have met while out riding told me he looks like a ‘Raja’.  Yeeeaah.
He brings tons of joy into my life.
I love him.

201208211609461 e1345603555384 ~ My Family ~

My main squeezie.
Best husband ever.
He has the biggest heart.
I wish everyone knew him like I did.

sepiacrop e1345603720131 ~ My Family ~


It’s not the family I imagined, but it’s the family that I love. <3

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~ Cousin Love ~

photo 921 e1327022507357 ~ Cousin Love ~

Cutest Cousins Ever.  That’s all.

*my nieces, Gianna (10), Savannah (3), Sophia (6)


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