Monday, July 30, 2012

Our "Love Story"... counting my blessings

For months now I've kept a journal of gifts...blessings. In honor of our anniversary, I thought I'd take a moment to highlight a few that I'm most thankful for when I think of our love story and the years that Sam and I've shared.

"Thereto I plight thee my troth"... 35 years ago Sam and I repeated this vow from The Book of Common Prayer to each other... such an old fashioned way of saying I promise to love you forever and always. For those of you who know our story, I think you'll agree that it's quite a miracle of sorts that we're celebrating today. After all, I didn't even know how to spell Sam's last name when I answered his marriage proposal with , "Yes." We'd only been dating for a month. Hoskin without an "s"... details. Praises for the blessing of knowing without a doubt what was far more important and that was that Sam loved God and wanted His love to be the foundation for our love.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." ... a line from Love Story, an iconic movie of our generation. Just one line...another detail... but one that was sure to bring heartache if we'd believed it. Praises for the blessing of marrying a man who knew how untrue those words were. Love is all about saying, "I'm sorry"... they're the most healing words in any relationship. Over the years, we've both asked for forgiveness far more times than we can count... praises for God's gift of grace.

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay." Ruth 1:16 This was the verse embossed on the front of our wedding invitation. Praises for the blessing of literally traveling around the world with my best friend. What wonderful adventures we've shared! Praises also for the valleys of heartbreak and disappointment. To be honest, I wish we could have skipped the valley tours. But then again, if I'm really really honest, it's in the valleys that Sam and I have learned what "plighting our troth" truly means.

Even a short list of blessings wouldn't be complete if I didn't count you, our friends and family, who are a part of our story. How blessed we've been for the past 35 years to be loved and encouraged... lifted up in prayer by you all. Thank you for sharing in our celebration by reading this blog... wish you could all join us for dinner tonight, but unfortunately Sam only made the reservation for 2 :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Most Precious Gift

Trying to put into words my feelings on this day of celebration. My godfather, my Uncle Simon, passed away this morning. I'm sad that our paths won't ever be crossing here again, but count myself so blessed and will forever celebrate his life and legacy. To honor him, I want to share the most precious
of many treasured memories...
the gift Uncle Simon gave me every time we were together.
Simply put, it was the gift of love, but it's how he expressed his love that I'll forever cherish. It was like he threw me a party as he welcomed me into his arms. He celebrated me for being me!
Could there be a more precious gift ?
What a beautiful legacy
of a most special man.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lifting up and Letting Go

I just love this hand...water rushing... love the memory of the wonder.... so symbolic of the heart journey I've been traveling these days... a journey I want to share with the hope that it might encourage someone somewhere to join me as I strive to lift up praise and let go of hurt.

In my last blog I shared that I'd begun keeping a list of moments I count as gifts. What a blessing this has been to journal, count, and recount the simplest of gifts given for my joy by the creator of ALL! Believe me, my hands and heart have been wide open as I thankfully and eagerly receive God's goodness.

On the other hand, though celebrating Lent is not a part of my religious heritage, I've been mindful of this season of soul searching and repentance... this time of letting go of the bondage of sin in preparation for the life giving gift of Jesus we commemorate as we celebrate his resurrection. As I've shared before, life, this past couple of years, has been hard and unfortunately, in the process, I believe that, I've become hard too... the hurts have taken a toll on my heart. If I'm really honest with myself, I'm guilty of claiming God's grace but not sharing it by forgiving as I should.

Matthew 6: 14-15 says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin againist you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." It's a simple as that.

It's as simple as living with my hands wide open... just like D ... lifting up praise and letting go of hurt... letting the precious blood of Jesus wash away all that would keep me from him... all that would keep any of his children from him.

Counting gifts...

20. Walking hand in hand with someone who loves you.

45. Rain! Sky darkening; Earth shaking; Ear splitting

56. The sound of shared mother/son laughter at the dawn of a new day

77. Out of the mouths of babes... Riley: "Grandma, do you love me big or little?"

93. Eating ice cream until my lips are numb!!

124. Morning babbling.... quiet thoughts I can only wonder at their meaning... music to my ears.

137. Hot bath... unrushed... quiet house.

143. Scripture written on my heart to wrestle with the demons of a sleepless night.

149. Bacon... the smell of "home" in the early morn.

167. Picnic with many that we could feel the wind of their wings as they took flight.

174. Riley: "Grandma, I love you the best!" Me: "Do you tell everyone that?" Riley: "Yes." Love this!!! The way we shoud love everyone... the best!

175. Lingering aftershave... so loving, reassuring, comforting, peace giving

185.Goodnight moon in a sea of clouds sprinkled with twinkle stars.

187. Friends to the rescue...

194. Home sweet home... Vanessa resting in her own bed.

195 Celebrating Sam- 60 years!!

204.Pei Wei take out and happy grandchildren... relaxed in the fireplace...cozy<3

220. Riley wearing skeleton jammies: "Dogs eat bones... but a dog won't eat my leg.. Right, Grandma?"

229. Friends joining me for dinner.... loving and supporting

230. Friendly Riley...Red, yellow, black and white... young, old... Riley befriends them all.

232. Dinner and loooong night with sister friends.

238. Trees ready to burst open... spring is in the air!!

240. Hope in my heart for happy days to come.... blessed!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Favorite Gifts

When I think of challenging years, 2011 has to take the cake! Our family faced what seemed like impossible trials... yet when I look back through the lens of my camera, I realize the blessings far outweighed the darkness. I think that's true for all of us. Life is hard, but God is good.... always.
One of the most inspiring books that I've read recently is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. It's as though she'd been in my shoes traveling along side me. Her trials were not mine, as mine are not yours... but pride, fear, and feelings of a fist clenching effort to control what can't be controled are not that uncommon. What began as a dare for her, proved to be lifechanging ... a dare to simply list 1,000 list 1,000 moments that affirmed God's love for her and to give thanks.
I'm excited to have begun my own list for 2012 and will share moments as I can...
1. Morning coffee with Sam
2. The blessing of having someone to miss
3. Helpful neighbors... locked myself out of the house while wearing my Cookie Monster jammies :)......
8. Fall kissed leaves dancing in a sea of blue
9. Grandma's carved wood headboard

.....but before moving on, I wanted to share just a handful of the gifts God blessed me with this past year.

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And to think 2011 was a crazy hard year.... so very thankful for the blessings

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What's on your list?

"Snuggling" is always #1 on my list!

Of course "quiet time" is a must on any list... some of my favorite quiet times are spent just counting my blessings.

"Learning and exploring" are tops on our "school" list.

Can you imagine a list without "ice cream"?!!

"Capturing precious moments" always seems to make it on my daily to do list.

Riley has "making new friends" on her list wherever she goes.

Dash can cross off "choose a fall pumpkin and visit a farm" from his list.

We all have lists... whether written or not. Lists of things we want to do, goals to achieve, chores to accomplish, places to go... things we need to buy. This past week, Riley really began to grasp this concept. As we walked through Toys R Us one afternoon, she shared what she liked and wanted and asked me to buy her selections for her. My response was that she needed to remember to put them on her Christmas or birthday wish list. Pretty soon, rather than asking for her heart's desires, she began telling me that she needed to put them on her list and was as happy as if I had made the purchases that day.

For several weeks now, she has helped me write our grocery lists. The teacher in me just loves seeing how she already scribbles from left to right and puts one scribble under the other to make a list. On one of our Walmart trips this past week, I decided to empower her (...also wanted to keep her busy and focused) by placing the list and a pen to cross things off the list in her hands. My plan worked perfectly until she turned the tables on me and learned just how powerful the written word can be. We were at the end of our list... all of our items had been crossed off when we found ourselves in the bakery section. Riley spied some orange frosted sugar cookies with fall colored sprinkles on them and asked if we could buy them. Being the clever Grandnanny that I am, I asked her to check our list. Knowing that they weren't on the list, I thought that would be the end of that. Riley had a different idea though... if the cookies weren't on the list, then she'd just add them! She proceeded to plop herself down on the floor of the store and with her all powerful pen wrote, " o r a n g e s u g a r c o o k i e s " What's a Grandnanny to do? Well, of course I gladly bought the cookies and gratefully added another treasured memory to my heart ... truly a moment worth far more than the extra pennies I spent for the added treat to our list.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My "Grandnanny" Diary

"Baby" Brother and "Big" Sister at Houston's Children's Museum

He may be the "Baby" but he carries a big stick

The Princess

I arrived home on my birthday after completing week 1 and 2 of being a "Grandnanny"... precious moments! For the most part, things went smoothly ... thankful for the angels God has watching over us all. My fall down the stairs could have been so much worse, and the wallet I left on top of the car while buckling Sleeping Beauty (R's chosen princess persona for the day) and Mr. D. could have been found by a dishonest opportunist rather than the good Samaritan who brought it to the bank around the corner completely intact! Riley was so thankful that my wallet had been returned because, as she explained to me, " I needed it to buy beautiful dresses for my precious grandchildren," but was disappointed that she'd forgotten to ask for a lolly pop while in the bank... talk about an opportunist!!!

Anyway, by way of an explanation to my readers, it's my plan to do a bit of online journaling each week that I'm with these little ones in order to relive unforgetable moments that I'm sure I'll forget if I don't write them down... like Riley reminding me, "Grandma, don't forget to say your pears," and Vanessa trying to explain the concept of "floating" at the hospital. Riley easily mastered creating AB patterns, "reading" from left to right in the word book she's making, and the proper way to hold scissors during our school time... but floating to her requires floaties which she graciously offered to share with her mommy as she headed off to work :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best of Both Worlds

Hiking with Sam in Big Spring State Park...

Reading to Riley and Dorian...

4 years ago, I began this blog as a way of sharing our travel adventures. Though we've been home from overseas for over a year now, the adventures continue.

First there was Thailand, then Malaysia, followed by South Africa. Corpus Christi was our next stop, before Sam's job took us to Midland. Keeping up with us has become much like tracking hurricanes in more ways than one!!

As of this past Friday, I'm excited to share that I have the perfect job. For the first time ever in my career, I get to travel! I'll be working (hard to call a labor of love working, but it's my "job") a 7 and 7 schedule and couldn't be more pleased. I'll be spending 7 days in Houston being a "grandnanny" to my 2 precious grandchildren while Vanessa pursues her nursing career working six 12 hour night shifts. Then, I'll fly back to Midland to be with Sam and will fill my days by substituting for Midland ISD.

I'm so blessed to have this opportunity... truly the best of both of my worlds!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dancing With Rainbows!

The Joy of Being One!

Happy Birthday to Dorian Alexander Stone Hoskin

aka DASH, Mr. D., D Man, Prince Charming

Whatever we call him, he's a wonderful blessing!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shower or Bath?

For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm a bath taker. I LOVE the luxury of a long soak in the tub. It has nothing to do with getting clean... it's the experience. Unfortunately, it's an experience I'm having to choose to limit in these drought days. Water, something that I've take advantage of for most of my life, is running out here in west Texas. We need rain... lots of rain, but not the gully washer kind, we need a looong gentle soaking in order for it to make a lasting difference.

Again, for those of you who know me well, you know that this blog isn't about the current weather challenges. During my quiet time a few weeks ago, God placed this object lesson on my heart... just wanted to share.

I love to be showered in the refreshing, life giving word of God. But if that's all I ever do... a quick splash here and there, then before you know it, my heart is at risk. A good visual might be kind of like a dried up sponge. For me to be all that God has purposed me to be, then like the sponge, I must be immersed... making and taking the time for a looong soak in His holy presence. Fortunately when it comes to God's word and His presence, I don't have to choose. He blesses me with momentary glimpses of His being and delights when I choose to stay awhile... soaking in the glorious grace filled gift of His love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's All About Roots!

It's been a long while since I've posted... life for Sam and me has been crazy hard this past year, but at the same time oh so, so, so, blessed! One of my most special blessings was celebrating 34 years of marriage to my guy. The picture above was taken on our anniversary at Monahan's Sandy Hills State Park...kind of a self portrait of sorts.

As you can see, Monahan's isn't exactly a tropical paradise...lots of beautiful sand, warm breezes...verrrry warm, but NO water. It's a pretty harsh environment, especially this year with the drought and all, yet if you'll notice on the top of the hill, there's a small forest of lush green mesquite. One has to wonder how the mesquite has managed to thrive while the grasses and other bushy vegetation have withered and died.

Of course the answer is it's all about roots! The hardy, drought tolerant mesquite can draw water from the water table with its tap root that, according to Wikipedia, can be as long as 160 feet. Pretty cool! I remember my dad instructing my brothers and me on the fine art of weed pulling, and much to our frustration, always insisting that we get the root along with the weed because he knew that roots were the weed's life link.... Reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the sower. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Matthew 13:20

It was a purposeful choice of words when Jesus said "when" trouble comes... rather than "if" it comes. Trouble, valleys, disappointment, heartbreak... whatever you want to call it... life.... it will come, but praise be to God that He has given us His perfect unconditional love in which to plant and grow the roots of our souls, his Spirit to encourage and counsel us, and brothers and sisters in Christ to walk by our sides. I can't imagine my life without Sam... How blessed I am to love and be loved by a man who is so deeply rooted in the sacrificial love of our Savior that he would lay down his life for Vanessa, Riley, Dorian and me.... Truly, figuratively speaking, he already has.... over and over again.

So very thankful.... for God's love..... for Sam ..........and for the green of mesquite trees!

P.S. I posted this blog a few days ago, but just this morning reread in my journal notes from my study of The Purpose Driven Life and found these verses- Let your roots grow down into Christ and draw up nourishment from him. See that you go on growing in the lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth. Colossians 2:7 (LB) Blessed are those who trust in the Lord... They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT) Love how God gives gifts of affirmation like this!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wishing you and yours a silent night....

I don't know about you, but there is something about this song... like chatting with someone who understands. This has been quite a year for our family. Our life, like yours I'm sure, is both overflowing with blessings and challenges. For the blessings of a new job, a new home, and a new grandson (just to name a few) we're so very thankful.

For the challenges, we're also thankful. Challenging times have a way of narrowing our focus... If I were to choose a quote that has been my mantra this past year it would be, "It's not about me." It's about that little baby, our Savior, our Wonderful Counselor, our Prince of Peace...

It's my hope and prayer that in the craziness of this holiday season that you and yours are blessed with Silent Nights...Peace... and Joy.

Merry Christmas with Love,

Tracey and Sam

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fresh From Heaven... Introducing our Dash!

Such pure sweetness... how blessed we are!
"Dash", Dorian Alexander Stone-Hoskin, is the newest member of our family's Club 15. Vanessa's Angel Day (adoption day) is September 15. Riley was born on February 15, and Dash arrived fresh from heaven on August 15!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thinking about my "DASH"

For days now, my suitcase has been packed and I've been waiting... waiting... waiting for the call letting me know that it's time! During my waiting, of course, life has gone on... I've made a friend; found a house; celebrated the birth of my childhood "bestest" friend's 1st grandchild; prayed for a family whom I've never met as they cherish the last days of their young son, Sam, who's dying of cancer; praised God for answered prayers about new jobs; and grieved with a friend as she grieved over her friend's son's sudden accidental death and another as she said goodbye to her beloved brother who'd been a quadriplegic for over 40 years... like I said, "life", or as the poet, Linda Ellis, referred to it "The Dash"

I never cease to marvel at, and be encouraged by, how as one friend so beautifully shared, God always weaves our every experience, into wonderful! It was over a year ago that Mom shared the link to The Dash movie with me. It was meaningful then, but now that I'm waiting... waiting... waiting for Vanessa's "Dash" to be born, it's a part of my every thought. Her little guy's name will be Dorian Alexander Stone-Hoskin, and they plan on calling him Dash. How perfect is that? A forever moment by moment reminder of the precious gift of life and how important our choices about how we live it are, not only for us, but also for all those we touch...praying my dash will always be a blessing to your dash, as your's is to mine <3

P.S. Unless Dash decides differently, he's scheduled to be born on August 15... Now we'll have a girlie and a guy :) Can hardly wait!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reflections of a Beach Comber

This is another blog that's been simmering…. wondering if this experience is meant to be shared. Sometimes thoughts just need time to be pondered… kind of like how soup is always better after a day or two.

Back in April, I went to the beach. I went expectant that God would meet me there… I was searching… listening… tuned in! God was faithful…. always is! At first, I strolled along the smooth sandy area where, only a few weeks ago, I'd collected so many perfect… unbroken shells that I could hardly hold them all. I was praying, singing praises, and also looking for more perfect shells to add to my collection. Unfortunately, there were none. So, I trudged up to the "trash line" and almost instantly found a beautiful "broken" angel wing. Angel wings are considered "good finds" along the gulf coast, so I was both excited and disappointed.

It was at that moment that the lesson came… the one that has been on my heart to share. Praise God, our Father, that He walks the "trash line" searching, not for perfection, but for broken people… people needing and open to being found. When God "collects" His children with all their imperfections, He, along with all of heaven, celebrates! He knows how precious they are… how much potential they have, and though broken, claims them as His own.

As I looked closely at the angel wing, a shell I most likely would have cast aside a week ago because it wasn't perfect, I began to appreciate its beauty. Yes, it was broken, but it was so intricately designed and had value. I was powerless "to fix" the shell, but rather than focusing on its imperfection, I could focus on its uniqueness and treasure it.

I'm the angel wing… we all are… broken. God, our Father and Creator, is the only one who can heal our hurt and restore us to be all that we were purposed to be. We're not the fixers, but we are called to adjust our focus and see what God sees in even the most shattered broken life…

I shared this experience with my bestest childhood friend while I was out in California. She, unlike me, said that she likes to collect broken shells because she can see inside. As I thought about what she said, another analogy occurred to me. What a gift it is to be entrusted with even a moment of vulnerability... to be given a glimpse inside a person's broken heart…to be able to feel empathy knowing one's own brokenness. So often we put up a barrier in relationships with each other and with God when we pretend perfection. No one is perfect. Pretending just gets in the way of real… the real that is required for relationships…

…just some reflections of a beach comber.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Girls

Riley's 2nd Birthday

Mother's Day

4th of July
Busted! Vanessa has had a hard time sleeping lately... seems as though Baby Dash has her in training for the changes that he'll bring when he makes his arrival in the very near future. During her long sleepless nights, she's been reading my blog...maybe in hopes that it'll be so boring that she can't help but nod off :) Anyway, whatever the reason, she's come to the conclusion that I must love Riley more because all my family pictures tend to be of Riley alone. As far as loving Riley more... not true! But with regard to the pictures that I've posted... guilty as charged! So in order to make amends, here's a few pictures of my girl with her girl...
BOTH the loves of my life!