Words to live by:

"With man this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's been a long while...and what a ride it's been!

It has indeed been awhile since I last wrote...things have settled now, but are about to crank back up as a new school season approaches quickly. I think I'll just let my thoughts flow...as I feel a bit...well, i'm not really sure of what I should call how I feel right this moment....so I'll just let you decide...


The past months:
when I last wrote, our community had just experienced devastational tornados.
I had assisted in the relief efforts and my heart had been ripped out by the lives lost, homes lost, lives tossed upside down, and equally as much-the love shown neighbor to neighbor throughout our community.
We all have watched and heard about miracles on every street that was affected.
God's hand has been outstretched...
As I sit here 3 months later (almost to the day)...
wow...3 months its already been???..
there is still much work to be done, and there are still remnants of lives torn apart.


I drove past the home that I assisted during the "relief efforts" (I think that's the term we have used so much)
last week...
the land had been cleared and there was a new mobile home in place where the home that was ripped apart had once stood...
I slowed down and stared...
My heart was racing...
Me and my children looked at what was still devastation...
I wanted to knock on the door...but I drove past. 
My heart still beat faster as I looked at what once had been...
and what had now become.
After I had worked in the relief efforts the first week of the storm...a co-worker (Kim Morgan) suggested that I design a tshirt for us to sell for relief effort fundraising...
I did...
and within 30 minutes, the shirt was completed (the design anyway).
Within the first 4 weeks, we had sold enough shirts at $15 per shirt to raise over $10,000.00 to give toward storm relief victims and and workers...
Sidenote: I might add that most all of these sales were from FACEBOOK. Who says facebook is all...well, you know.
PRAISE HIM IN THE STORM was the phrase we used on the shirt...and yes, we STILL-- PRAISE HIM.



School ended...my son's 6th grade year,
  My daughter's first college year, and she hasn't skipped a beat...She's still in college without a break...she's going year round...she's determined!



I took a very impromtu trip to NEW YORK CITY..the place I love the most...with a friend, my daughter, and 2 of her friends...
much needed...
much fun...
much laughter...
just much.








The night we returned home was the night our lives took another turn.
Some of you will know what I'm talking about...and to the others, well...I never want to bring anyone into an unsolicited conversation...that's rude.
I'll put it this way:
Sometimes, life is going along as you think it should---
the way you have it planned--
in such a way that it's almost like you've made a checklist and you've checked it off ever so neatly---
and then------
it comes to a screaching hault...
no warning...
no signs...
no preface...
just hits you dead in the face.
It's these unexpected times that hit hardest...
things happen...
people leave your life without warning...
people you love.
Your children hurt...
you hurt.
You wake up the next morning and shake your head, thinking it was a dream the day before...
and then you realize...
it wasn't.
You try to be strong,
for your children,
you keep going,
go to work,
routine motions,
routine smiles,
tears out of nowhere,
it just...
hurts.
You try to make sense of it.
You try to blame someone.
You try to ignore it.
You try to get mad.
You try to pray it away.
You cry.
You hurt.
and then,
you finally realize...
HE is still ---and always will be--- in control.
There is a plan.
HIS plan.
          “Forget the former things;
           do not dwell on the past.
           See, I am doing a new thing!
           Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
                                                   Isaiah 43:18-19

He is truth...He speaks it in His word...Be still and Know that HE IS GOD...
He is perfect...we're not...Far from it, I might add.
It's no one's fault...
It's in the plan.
Acceptance...who created this word...this action...
yuch!
But acceptance is the only thing to do.
Acceptance...Faith...Trust...Know...
that God always takes care of his children.
He will NEVER forsake the ones that serve him...the ones that have given their lives to Him...Never.
I teach this...I know this...
and now, I have to BELIEVE this...and LIVE this.


This was a family affair...we all hurt from it.
But the one it affected the very most, was my precious daughter.
I stopped for her.
I needed to be nothing but a mother for awhile.
It's fine that others may not understand...I knew what I needed to do.
I stopped my classes for the summer...I simply needed to be a mother for my children..and nothing much more. WHat an important job I have...the most important job---honor---privledge in the world... MOTHER.
I take it seriously...God granted me this role...He had faith in ME...only ME for these 2 children.
I will not let HIM down.
I will NOT let THEM down.
So I was simply there for them...
I talked.
I listened.
I held.
I rocked.
I cried with...
I cried in silence...alone.
I tried to make them laugh...
I came home and sat with...
Simple things.
I learned.
I learned more from my children than they learned from me...
the strength, dignity, poise, class and FAITH my daughter exemplified during this time was consuming to all those around her. We stood back and watched in amazement, awe, disbelief and respect.
THose that didn't see it...chose not to.
I looked up to heaven so many times and stood amazed at what MIGHTY GOD taught that precious child...
and what she in turn, taught me.
I did make one promise to her:..................
that I KNEW, GOD would NEVER forsake her,..
that He would pull her not only out of the pit...
but that he would reward her for being a good and faithful servant.
And of course,
of course...,
OF COURSE!!!!!
He did.
Now.....
after this storm...
there are smiles, hugs, laughter, joy, compassion, love...like never before.
once again: we all have learned how to:
“Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

                                  Isaiah 43:18-19


This trial was hard.
There were people that didn't understand.
There were those that turned away.
There were those that stuck close, like glue.
There were remarks, RUMORS (and just that...rumors), ridicule...
We saw true friendships...ahhhh...our friends...I wish there was a better word...oh, I know:
unconditional---unstoppable---compassionate love
We saw people leave our lives.
We saw hurt--first hand.
We saw true love.
We saw GOD in action.
We saw so much...
But this trial is almost a remnant in our souls...a brief encounter...a moment in time.




Life is moving again...
fast.
About to begin a new school year.
My son---a 7th grader.
My daughter---2nd year of college.
Me?...
About to succeed in one of the greatest accomplishments of my life...
I should graduate from college with my BFA in Graphic Design in December!!!!
YES!!!
I not only will graduate, but with a BFA...a step further than a BA...I never dreamed...!!!!
I will humbly, but loudly (is that a contradiction>?????) say:
I will do this while:
working a full time+++ job,
working an additional part time job,
raising 2 children --- alone,
Choice of a Lifetime,
football, baseball, basketball practices and games...
everything in between---and there's a lot of in BETWEEN!!!
and at the age of 46!!!!
yes! I am proud...not boastful...just unbelievably...
Proud.
I can honestly say it has been one of the hardest things I have pursued...
I am almost there...
Priase God.


I look at what  in 3 weeks, will be 46 years of life...
and at the beginning of this writing I said I would let you decide on how I am feeling...
but now, after writing and thinking...and feeling
I can tell you the answer...


I am astoundingly, unashamedly, unspeakably...


thankful.


And right now...
I'm just goin to...




smile.
It's quite simple.




These are my thoughts,
Dara











Thursday, April 28, 2011

"I will Lord"...I promise. A story of devastation...

Well...I never knew I would write a note to you, my friends such as this...
Devastation.
Tornado.
Lost lives.
Lost homes.
Lost.
Everything.




All day onWednesday, me, my children, and a few friends watched the storms unfold
in front of our eyes.
We watched from the comfort of a recliner and sofa in front of a television...I almost feelguilty of that now as I write this.
yes, we were scared.
yes, we watched in total disbelief.
yes, we prayed.
no, there are some things we simply don't...won't...understand.


We watched intently, as this killer ripped apart Cullman, Alabama. I noticed the look on the faces of the weathermen as they saw the digital numbers on the screen...i could tell they were fearful...i could tell that they simply couldn't say just how bad they thought it really was...
but it was in their eyes.
As we watchedit destroy this small town, we seriously didn't know if anyone survived by the looks of what we saw "live" on the screen in front of us.
Unbelievable...we were struck with silence.
Then we watched as another Killer, this one even bigger than the first, DEVASTATED
Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
As I watched this tornado, demolish everything in its path, all I could bring to my lips, was
Oh My Lord.....
Oh Dear Lord...
God Bless them.


I couldn't believe my eyes...
It was happening to "US"...not "THEM"...
It was on the screen in front of us...it was on the ground for so long, ripping buildings apart like they were plastic toys.  We watched as buildings were sucked up into the debris ball and thrown around like rag dolls.
My stomach churned...i felt sick.
People I knew, and loved, lived in those places.
Are they ok???
I needed to hear from them. Devin, Brett, Matt, April...the names were coming to my mind...
The world of text...I heard from them all.
Thank you Lord.
And then my heart sank, for I knew many were not ok...


The KILLER tornado continued it's path through the state of Alabama, never letting up...it was coming EAST. I felt another wave of guilt as I didn't want it to come to us.I felt so guilty, knowing what so many others had already expereinced and lost...


Then, 2 hours later...we heard the dreaded news.
It was coming through our town...I heard the words:
Alexandria, Saks, Anniston, Ohatchee...
this was us.
This killer had been on the ground for 2 hours...devastating everything that even came close to it's claws.
Lord keep us safe.
I wonder how many others were uttering the same exact words...


We waited...it came...
It went by...
and we were spared.
We went to bed...in our own beds...no electricity but who cared...me and my kids (and our dog) climbed into bed...together.
Thank you Lord.
I wonder how many others were uttering the same exact words...


We woke up today...our power restored...the sun was shining.
All is good.
Is it???
I began to listen to the news...internet...and there it was...devastation.
Up the road about 4 miles.
People were lost, houses were lost, lives changed forever, lives even lost...forever.
I need to help!
I can't sit back in my air-conditioned office and just go on like nothing happened...
Me and 2 other friends set out to help...in any way we could...
just help.


We climbeb into the car and headed out...we didn't know what we were going to do...we didn't know where we were going...we didn't know what we were about to see...
We pulled up to the hardest hit neighborhood.


As we approached, our mouths were opened and our hearts were broken.
It was all the things you've heard before...
trees snapped in a million pieces that looked like matches.
limbs thrown through house walls like spears.
remnants of lives scattered.
Metal building walls twisted around trees like they were molten plastic.


People standing in their yards...just standing...staring...not moving.
Oh dear Lord, help these people!
I wonder how many people were uttering the same words...


We stopped at the first house...we asked if we could help.
There was nothing we could do...it was gone.
The next house...we asked if we could help.
The home owner tried to be kind...but with a half cocked grin, said no thanks...as he pulled a twisted memory out from under a heap of lost memories.
The next house...we asked if we could help.
They said, if you want...
We were told that the home owners had no family in town...they were elderly and in the hospital.
This house had a kitchen...and that was all.


I do believe that the walls left standing were being held up by the rubbish around them.
The elderly couple that lived there was in the hospital...
she was injured but not extremely bad--- considering...
her husband, was sucked out of the back of the house...
The wife had requested that we find her "grey cat"..."She was in the bathroom with me..." she said from her hospital bed...
We just stood there, looking at a home...
gone.
We started moving shredded lumber, broken glass, walls, limbs, metal shards...sifting through the mounds to find anything that could be salvaged.


These people hadn't even seen what was left of their home yet...their life.
I stood staring,---
and from behind my back, as I stood on the phone trying to explain the devastation, my friend handed me the first item she receovered...
the family Bible. It was ironically RED.
My heart felt like it would rip out of my chest. Tears flooded down my cheeks...I wanted to fall to my knees.
but there was work to be done.
I gathered myself together and began the task at hand...
We began to uncover years and years of lifetime treasures.



We made small piles of memories of years gone by.
I didn't know these people...but I soon learned so much about them.
SHe loved Christmas...there were so many remnants of Christmas decorations, and under a heap of torn to shreds items...was a fragile Christmas ornament, a fragile red Christmas lightbuld...untouched...saved.
We found several unscathed Christmas items...we put them into a trunk that somehow survived...I found out that this lady also loved glassware, old bottles, knick-knacks...I found the top of the china cabinet, just the top, that these items no doubt lived in...until now.


He loved and collected model cars...he was a war veteran...he served our country and now we served him.
We found mementos from the many places they had traveled to through the years...
We picked up eye glasses, perfume bottles, one new tennis shoe, scattered jewelry, old photographs,  a  t.v. remote control....(My mind wondered if they were watching the same news as I was, flipping the channels, watching as the state of Alabama was devastated...this remote was buried underneath the cushion of a blue leather sofa)


The cat---!!!!
in the bathroom!!!!
I remembered, the cat...I looked for the cat...
There was no bathroom.
No cat.
We walked through the backyard.
I pulled  a dress that resembled a wedding dress out of a tree.
We found old war medals...a war footlocker...the other new tennis shoe.
As we stood looking over the hill into the midst of twisted trees...i felt like those trees were full of evil...
I'm sorry, but that's what I felt.
I looked at the dark brown streamers glistening throughout the branches of so many of the trees and realized that it was old movie film...no doubt home movies of a lifetime of memories.


And then twisted into and around another tree, was carpet from the floor of the house...in shreds, like someone had taken a knife and shredded it.
I stood on the side of that hill, looking over at the wrath of God...and began to weep.


I didn't feel worthy...
I was standing on two feet...breathing, healthy, talking on my cell phone neatly tucked inside my pants pocket...
I cried...my heart was weak with weariness.
Lives torn apart like the trees I stared at...
I, and many others were spared---for some reason.


We walked back to the "house"...where is stood...yesterday.
We worked for several hours and recovered a few boxes of a lifetime of hard work, a family, a soldier, a mother, a wife, a husband...
It wasn't much...but it's what we did.




One more thing: while cleaning through the rubble...a phone rang...from the pocket of some pants.
It was a cell phone...their cell phone.
It was their son, a truck driver.
He was calling to check on his parents.
To see how they made it through the storm....
he didnt know...
He was told...
He would make it home tomorrow...he was driving...for another day.
He asked, how his home was that was beside the home we stood in...
There was nothing there.
It was gone.
He asked where he would sleep when he got home...
Dear Lord...


It was time to go...to turn my back on this home, and go to my house...that was still there.



I walked away in anguish...I walked over a brass doorknob,  obviously ripped from a door that was nowhere to be found.

I walked past the cars smahed in the driveway. I walked past the crumbled wheelchair.
I stared at the ground.
I thought of a reason I might have been spared...
I had to make a difference.
God needs me...to share His story...to reach those who do not know Him...to just reach---out.
I will Lord...I promise.
Every day.


There have been over 300 deaths reported so far...within the last 24 hours...there are still many missing.


We got in the car...pulled off our gloves...
We drove away.
I stared out the window...saying over and over...it's terrible, it's terrible, it's terrible.
God Bless Them...
This is awful...
Dear Lord...
Oh my Lord...
My body felt weak...my heart was heavy...



I will Lord...
I promise.


These are my weary thoughts,
Dara

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

For Myself...

We travel through each day in a whirlwind of emotions:
things make us smile,
they make us cry,
some things make us remember days in the past,
then there are those times that make us just,
mad.


We are human and we all have emotions.
We display them in different ways...some ways are good,
and then, some just...
aren't
We must think before we act...we must pray before we act...
we must be careful...
for every action comes with a consequence.


I do know one thing for sure...
If we take a minute, rest, count, close our eyes, sit back...
we almost always make a more rational deicision than acting on first impulse.


I do believe that maybe certain decisions are put in our paths in order to test our faith, our resistance, our ability to stay in God's path.
He's always watching us...he loves us...he's not hovering, ready to pounce...
He's our teacher...our Father...He really wants the very best for us...
He simply wants to see how we react...
maybe for future endeavors.


I know something else...
Most always if we use careful judgement and think about the outcome of our actions, we most always come out ahead...and can be proud of ourselves instead of a life of regret.
I shouldn't have...
I should have...
Why did I...
If only...
These words can be haunting.
Sometimes for a lifetime.
And sometimes...,
if we weigh out the total situation...it might not even seem as bad as we first think.
Over-reation...
can be very hazardous.


Hold your tongue...
(You can't put toothpaste back into the tube once you sqeeze it out)
Think about not only YOUR own feelings and emotions...think about the other people involved...look at both sides---


Look at both sides...
truthfully..without jealousy, pride or envy.
("I'm not looking at their side!!! THey are the one that's wrong!!!")And believe it or not...
sometimes it's simply best to walk away...
to forget self-satisfaction...
to forget the "I'm gonna prove a point"syndrome...( I mean, who are you proving it to? Yourself? Because thats really the only person that cares...)to just be the bigger person,
and LET IT GO.


I've seen entire families torn apart for years, and sometimes even forever, until death...
and nobody can tell you what started the problem in the first place...
tragic.
A waste...
What if God didn't forgive us? And arent we supposed to be like Him...


Look at the BIG scheme of things...
Is it worth it?
We're really on this Earth for but a short while...
let it pass.
Smile...
even when it hurts.
And pray...
when nothing else works...
HE WORKS...


There I said it...
if not for anyone,
but myself.


These are my thoughts,
Dara


There goes that pride thing again...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter...


Eternity is waiting for you
After you're finished on this Earth. Through the gift of
Salvation, God gives this priceless gift
To each of us no matter our race, creed, color, age, gender, past or present.
Even when you think He won't accept you because of things you've done, He promises to
Reach out His hand and takes you just the way you are.




One of my fondest memories of Easter was the year my family spent it at my grandparents home in Central Florida. 
I was 10 years old.
I woke up Easter morning and like most 10 year olds, I ran into the kitchen to find the goodies waiting.
I stopped dead in my tracks as I stared at the table in the center of the room.
That was it????
...jelly beans???
There were a million.
All over the kitchen table.
Wow---I thought..."I guess the Easter Bunny was busy this year."
And then, my beloved grand-dad came to the rescue.
I can hear that shaky little voice, "Well, what's that? It looks like something out there under the palm tree in the front yard." (I know, weired to say Easter Bunny and palm tree in the same breath...)
I darted around to find him peering out through the front screen door.
Me and my brother dashed outside to hopefully find the rest of our treasure.
ANd there it was!
Sand buckets cascading over with candy...
And then we saw them!
Easter eggs!
Hidden!
All over the yard...
well,...slightly hidden.
I knew it!!!
Dew still on the ground, didn't phase us at all.
After we found all we could, we gathered our goods and went inside to the smell of fresh eggs and bacon coming from the kitchen.
The million jelly beans were still on the table...this time it didn't look so bad.
We scooped them into our buckets and laughed at the sight of all our treasures.
How perfect we thought...Easter in Florida, sand buckets, grandparents, the smell of breakfast and yummy candy!
What more could a kid want?!


I really do think of that as a fond memory.
Most of us have experienced this at some point, on some level.
Most ALL of us.
But I am sad to think that most ALL of us haven't experienced Easter as it was truly meant to be.


I think---35 years later---of what Easter really is.
Now I know the truth...the only truth.


It's a celebration. 
the memory of a miracle.
The brutal memory of a beating,
of mockery,
of hate.
The memory of a man accused wrongly...an innocent man condemned.
A man hated so deeply that He was wanted beaten within an inch of death.
The flesh was ripped from his back...
a crown of thorns put on his head...
a purple robe slapped on his back...
he was spit on, slapped and cursed.
He carried a massive cross on his bleeding back.
He was unrecognizeable.
His mother watched it all.
She cried as she saw her baby boy tortured.
It was a pain unimaginable.
And yet, they laughed.
He was stripped of his clothes to hang on the cross in total humility.
He hung on the cross.
Took his last breathe on the cross.
As they laughed, he asked forgiveness for all of man...he said, "Forgive them father, for they know NOT what they do."
They laughed again.
THey didn't know.
But He knew.
He was a man...he was God.
The blood stained cross was for our sins.
He took it all...without hesitation...without arguement.
For us.
Me.
You.
The old, young, rich, poor, black, white.
He did it for us ALL---no exceptions.
He laid in the grave for 3 days.
He rose from the grave.
He conquered death.
He promised he would.
And He did.
He ascended into the clouds...to prepare for us a place we can't imagine.
He's waiting for us...right now.
He's coming back.
He promises.
I believe Him with my whole heart.
All he asks in return is for us to love Him back.
He wants us as a child...to give our heart to Him.
He gave His to us.
His name is Jesus.


These are my thoughts,
Dara

Sunday, April 3, 2011

All I have left to say...

Tonight I sit here in tears.
Sometimes life is just full of emotion.

As I sit and think about all that I've gone through in my life...
deaths
sickness
divorce
tragedies
children
success
hard work
perseverance
lonliness
failure
happiness
sadness
depression
joy,
I can only think of ONE thing in my life that changes all of these things...

My salvation.
The day I totally surrendered my life to Jesus...

It wasn't that I was instantly rescued from a lifetime of wrong choices...
or
instantly healed from all the wrongs in my life...

It's just that I found a new,
fail-proof way of dealing with life's question, trials, and problems.

I gave my life to Jesus.
I finally realized that I couldn't do this without His guidance.
I couldn't do it my way---it just wasn't working.
I needed Him.
I needed Jesus Christ.

There are still mountains to climb,
obstacles to face,
trials slamming me in the face,
times that seem to hard to bare...

but now?
I have the ONLY thing that can truly guide me,
                                                                 speak to me,
                                                                           love me,
                                                                               hold me,
                                                                                    teach me,
                                                                                          lead me...
                                                                                              the RIGHT way.
WIth Jesus came:
understanding, peace, joy, compassion, forgiveness, patience, and true love.
I'm not kdding.
All of these things are abundant in my life.
These things do not come from Earthly things...nor do they come from me...
they come only from Him.

I am truly humbled at this very moment.
I have never had people in my life who love me the way that they do now.
I have never had so many blessings poured out on me.
I have never felt such complete safety in knowing that there is someone who loves me no matter
how I act,
what I do,
what I say,
what mistakes I make,
just,   
no matter.

As I felt hands lay on my back tonight in a special time that only comes from the one true God,
I realized that I am living a life I never knew imaginable.
I can't imagine ever turning away from this unexplainable, unspeakable joy.
I can't imagine why everyone on this planet wouldn't want a part of it.
Why wouldn't you, me, everyone, want this?
It's free to us.
The reward is eternity in heaven.
The blessings on this Earth are countless.
The pathway is golden.

I was not perfect when I gave my life to Jesus.
I was a wreck.
I was at the end of my rope as I knew it.
I didn't know what else "I" could do.
SO I just gave it all...
I gave my life...to Jesus.
And He took me...
         he didn't wait for a second...
                     he didn't hesitate...
                               he didn't say "wait a minute"...
                                            he didn't say "change first",
He just took me.
Held me.
Shed tears for me.
Bled for me.
All for me.

It was truly...
the CHOICE of a LIFETIME.
My CHOICE.
I made that CHOICE.

A choice that gave me more than I could have ever imagined.
The only thing left to say,
is,
Thank you.

These are my thoughts,
Dara

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I am thankful...

I've thought a lot today of where I am in my life.
I have a very decent life.
To some it isn't glamorous,
It might not be the "high life",
In fact, it's rather simple.


But my life is full.
So very full.


I have more precious friends than I deserve:
Friends that love me just for me...that have loved me through the hardest of times...that have loved me when I made poor choices...that have never turned their back on me.
I have friends.




I have a wonderful job:
a job that I have never, even one day, dreaded going to. A job that is full of blessings. One that I can use the talents God gave me. One that is full of people who love each other and who love Jesus. One that provides a roof, food, and our needs.
I have a job




I have my health:
I am able to rise each day and do most anything I want to. I can walk, run, skip, laugh, see, hear, talk...I hardly have a need to go to the doctor...I feel good most every day.
I have my health.




I have plenty of things:
I have clothes, a car, beautiful things that hold memories in my house, I have a house, I have a yard, I have a bedroom of my own, I have enough to last a lifetime.
I have things.



I have the 2 best children in the world:
I have a daughter and son who know Jesus. I have a beautiful daughter that is hard-working, caring, intellegent, independant, loving, successful and has a great sense of humor. I have a son that is all boy---a great athelete, one who makes me proud on and off the fields, one that is creative, intelligent, caring, loving, handsome, healthy and warms my heart.
I have 2 kids.




I have a great family:
a mother, 2 brothers, a sister in law, 2 nieces, 2 nephews, who love me and whom I love with all of my heart. One that is there for me whenever I need them...a family that knows and loves Jesus.
I have a family.






I have an abundance of fond memories:
memories that flood my mind each day. Ones that I can share, teach by, laugh at, cry at...ones that I can just remember when I want...Ones of childhood...ones of my dear father...ones that I can learn by.
I have memories.







I have talents beyond my wildest dreams:
I was given many talents, I use those talents to serve Jesus. I don't deserve them all, but as I've been given---I am here to give back.
I have talents.




Last but not least:
I have Jesus. I havent always known Jesus as I do now. I have grown to know him through the years...He saved me...I am guided by him in everything I do...I serve Him...I am blessed beyond measure by Him...He constantly amazes me...He loves me so much He died for me.
I have Jesus.



So as I sit here tonight, I just feel lucky.

I feel taken care of.
I feel blessed.
It's a good way to live.
I don't make excuses for the way I live.
I live the way I think would make my Savior proud...for it's HIM that I will answer to one day.
I won't answer to anyone of this Earth...so I live to please HIM.
I am happy.
Sometimes I'm sad.
Mostly I'm content...for now.
I am thankful.
SO very thankful.

So for today:
These are my thoughts,
Dara

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I took a trip to an old memory...

I took a trip today to an old memory.
 It was an absolutely beautiful day!
 I took a ride out to the reason I sit in this town today...
1973...My dad was transferred to Ft. McClellan , Alabama.
 My father was serving faithfully in the United States Army...with Vietnam in the recent past, we were beginning a new adventure.
 Little did we know, it would be the beginning of much of our future.
My dad had gone ahead of us by a few days, and had gotten our new living quarters secured.
 As we drove onto the "post", I remember driving with wide-eyes through the strange roads, in search for our new home. We passed rows and rows of thriving army barracks...green and white. That's what I remember most, the colors.
Everything was green and white...everything.
I remeber seeing men and women dressed in "BDU's", as they were called, scurrying around throughout the rows of barracks...the men and women that served our country.
 I knew they were to be respected...even then, as a young child.
I was 8 years old and I remember sitting in the front seat of that old station wagon: the typical paneled sides- family style (sorta like the one on the Brady Bunch).
My brother, Michael, was 4 years old and my mother was a young and snappy 29.
Wow, it seems like just yesterday when we turned onto Morton Road... 
 3635A Morton Road.
We had moved from Atlanta...from a residential neighborhood in the outskirts of the big city,
 into an army base in rural Alabama.
It was quite different, but somehow...
 it was rather exciting. 
We pulled into the driveway...we were home.
These days were humble.
The memories flood my mind as I write.
The baby rabbits I caught in the back yard patch of woods...
                          the "fort" I built in those same patch of woods...
                                          the bicycle wreck I had as I hurdled around the curve up the street from our house (the wreck that gave me the scars on my fingers that I can still see as I type)...
                              the lemonade stands at the end of the driveway...
                                        the tennis courts...
                                             the commisary...
                                                     the P.X....the bowling alley...the movie theatre...
it was an entire world of it's own.
 We lived on base for 3 years, and in these few years: 
my other brother, (Chad) was born, 
I witnessed my first death (of my friend Whitney's father),
I made many multi-cultural friends,
and we decided to make Anniston, Alabama our permanent home.
We lived on the base for 3 years.
I went to school on the base (3rd grade--Mrs. Hipp...she was the one who called me out in the hall to tell me I had a new baby borther. 4th grade--Mrs. Campbell--great friend then and we've recently caught back into each others paths, and Mrs. Davis were my teachers--i don't guess I'll ever forget them)
My dad died in 1986 and is buried at the military cemetary of Ft. McClellan , Alabama.
It was a memorable military service, the day after Christmas in 1986...
The 21 Gun Salute---Folding and presentation of the American Flag to our family, and the song "TAPS" played on the bugle...I remember the tear dripping off the face of the soldier that played that song. He didn't even know my father, but he was a brother...in arms.
My father would have been very proud of that day, in honor of a man who served his country for 23 years...served in Vietnam and received the Silver Star and Purple Heart (among many other) prestigious medals...it was a sad, cold wintry day in that McClellan cemetary...
but somehow,
 I know my father was smiling.
I visit him a few times a year...he's not there. But I go there anyway...
 just because.
Ft. McClellan closed it's gates in 1996.
It was a sad day.
The distant sound of the military bugle is reminiscent in the old Buckner Circle. 
It belted out it's magnificant sound every work day afternoon at 4:15.
 If I was in the car with my father during this time, we would pull the car onto the side of the road wherever we were...he would honorably get out, dressed in his starched officer's uniform, and stand at a saluting attention until the flag was lowered.
I was so proud of him at this moment.
It was reverent, honorable, patriotic...it was the way it should be.
I loved that my father served our country.
I love that old base..why, it's the reason I live in this town...
and as I drove through the faintly familiar roads today;
my heart, soul and mind remembered days gone by.
It was really a good drive.
 It's o.k. to remember those days.
Smiles and Tears and Memories...
The last thing I did was walk around an old pond...it was the pond I fished in as a young girl.
There was a children's fishing tournament one Saturday morning--1975 to be exact--
I was 10 years old.
My little brother was competing.
I was bored.
So I picked up an old rod and reel, and began to cast.
I ended up winning that tournament...
I still laugh when I think of the faces of all those little boys when I received my trophies.
I won the category "most caught fish" and "biggest fish caught".
I can still hear the shrieks from me and my mother as I reeled those fish in...!!!
Today, I sat on the edge of that pond and looked into the water..
.there were a million fish swimming right up to the edge where I was sitting.
 They were still there...35 years later.
As I stared into the water and saw the reflection of a 45 year old, middle-aged "child", I caught a slight glimpse of a small little girl with the future in her hands...
or maybe it was the glimpse of an old rod and reel....
I swirled my finger in the edge of the water and watched the fish swim swiftly away.
Oh, they'll be back...
and one day...
so will I.

As I drove around the base today, I took several pictures to savor the memories of a time I choose not to forget...

The Old Pond

My dad...well, he's not here. He's in heaven.
He knew Jesus.

The entrance to the military cemetary...something odd about that open gate...it seems so "final" once you walk inside.

There's still beauty in the still, quietness of that old place.


Springtime doesn't close ...

I just thought this was so fresh and pretty...reminiscent of frogs and tadpoles...new life.
I could almost hear the distant voices singing the old hymns of years gone by...what a joy to see this old church tucked away...but then again, what sadness that it's life was over.

Just a memory of an old, rugged cross...how sweet the sound of Amazing Grace.


I saw this old window on the side of the church building and thought of children peering inside the church during the old-time picnics. I could almost hear the laughter and shrills while they were playing a game of tag...boys chasing the girls with old toad frogs of course.


This old door was barracaded with vines, weeds and winds blowing in the distance. I looked at the outstretched vines coming through the walls of the door as if to say, "there's still life here"...

Reminds me of an old Haiku I am working on for class:
The summer river,
 Although there is a bridge, my
 horse goes through the water.
                                                           Seems a bit sad to me...
An old back door to a whithered building.
The reflection of the beautiful sky in the window pane reminds me that God built us a masterpiece to savor.

A tattered bridge that once was covered by soldiers footprints and combat boots. There are no more footprints on this bridge, but I remembered our Armed Forces still fighting so that "I"/"WE" can enjoy this beautiful country.
I loved the way God exposed this radiant beam of light into the threshold of this door. It was opened and closed so many times by people of another time. The radiant light still gives us hope.

An old walkway grown up with vines and weeds. But looking forward, to the light at the end...

The old walkway turned upsidedown...beautiful architecture...and that previously mentioned green color.

The old pond again...the bridge that leads to a tiny island with a lonely 'green' bench. Serenity.
Another view of the old church...notice the "green" cross. Like I said; everything was Green and White. A picture is worth a thousand words...
God is near...
One more good-bye...

Branches...a reminder of the many roads we can choose within our short time on this Earth.

The end of a beautiful day...what a blessing.