A Birthday Tribute to My Mama

I had planned on writing a Mother’s Day post prior to my one month sabbatical this past spring and am now getting to it as we near my mama’s birthday here in November. Better late than never!

My mama is my very best friend and closest sister in Christ. Every Sunday morning she phones at precisely 10:30 a.m. for our weekly visit and chat. I can’t begin to relate how much her love means to me, but I humbly will attempt to as I blunder my way through this seemingly inadequate post.

“Mama”, as I call her, was the oldest of four girls with a single mom who reared them up in the age when being a single mom was shunned and frowned upon.

When my mama was a little over one year old she suffered a high fever that left her with a rare case of cerebral palsy. So, my grandmother had four small girls to bring up by herself with a handicap to try to figure out and understand which road of proper care was best.

Doctors assured my grandmother they knew what was best and convinced her to put my mama in an institution. (In those days, group homes and in-home care didn’t exist.)

While at the institution my mama was put into a padded room with no books or toys and left alone in seclusion. When grandma discovered this tragedy she wanted to pull Mama out of that dreadful facility but it wasn’t so easy to be done. Amazingly she ended up kidnapping my mama out of that horrible place and never looked back!! How she did this, I don’t know, but I do know she had help orchestrating and carrying out this desperate plan of getting back her precious little girl.

My mama (left) and her sister in the mid-1950s.

My mama was a few years old by now and had to relearn talking since the months of seclusion ripped away her ability to verbally communicate. She did very well and went on to becoming a well educated student and staple in her family of five. Her mom and sisters loved their “Mel” and she enjoyed a happy adolescence and many fun memories growing up.

Fast forward to her college years where at San Francisco State University she met my dad, the handsome, funny, Hispanic guy who won her heart and led her to Christ. In the late 60s they married and in the 70s had my brother, a rainbow baby, which is a baby after a miscarriage. Four years after suffering another miscarriage, they had me, another rainbow baby.

Mama at the Philadelphia zoo, feeding the animals.

Mama told me I was always a fighter since 4 months into her pregnancy with me she started bleeding. Her doctor told her, “If you want to keep this pregnancy then you need to rest!” So rest she did! “You hung in there” she later told me…..lol, I still am!

Mama would stay on the sofa all day and then fix dinner for my dad when he got home. How she managed with a four year old boy is beyond me but I see God’s hand in every part of her life as I still do now.

Mama is a trooper and a fighter and one tough cookie!! She is such a powerful example of what it means to persevere in trials. She never complains and is always more interested in others’ lives than she is in going on about herself. She lives in a lot of pain due to over 70 years of cerebral palsy and presently is battling adrenal fatigue otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Yet, she continues to minister to me and other ladies while enduring these crosses and faithfully speaks the truth in love from God’s word.

Nine years ago. My parents with me holding my youngest.

For years my mama led the women’s bible study at her church and was a prayer partner to the pastor’s wife. She knows how to pray and I believe it’s her prayers that have kept me alive to this day. Her example of godliness has had a powerful impact on everyone she meets and she is loved by many.

I’m so thankful and blessed to have you in my life dear Mama and I love you beyond what these feeble words can express. Happy birthday to you and thank you for your love and for being the amazing woman and mother that you are!

Much love,

Your VivieπŸ˜šπŸ€—πŸπŸ‚

The gang taken in 2018. Mama is in front with her two sisters behind her, then me and my four kids.

Yes You Can

My daughter was able ride her bike without training wheels yesterday!! Whoo Hoooo!! It felt so good to watch her triumph after weeks of being afraid to ride without her training wheels. Plus, her wheel had a slow leak so that hindered her for progress for a time. Her big brother bought her a bike patch and fixed up the inner tube quite easily.

So last night she actually got on her big brother’s bike and rode for the first time ever! Yes!

You can hear me telling her in the video that she could…….she didn’t think she could……but she did!

Here’s the video I took of her (my Monkey) on her brother’s bike. She gives me a big hug at the end. 🀣

Much love,

Viv β˜€οΈπŸ’

Dearly Beloved

I wanted to share a bit of happiness today: Last Saturday, August 3rd, my nephew and now brand new niece got married. Hooray!!πŸ‘°πŸ€΅ The ceremony took place outside and everything was absolutely gorgeous. The event went well except for the fact that the minister got the times mixed up (they are so busy and rightly so) and was late so we sat there wondering what the hold up was. The viola and violin players did a great job continuing to play as if nothing was askew. I saw one muscian mouth to the other “again” and they just kept on playing. At last, much to our relief, the minister finally arrived and the wedding went on smoothly.

As we entered the ceremony there were fans with our program printed on them and bug repellant. So very smart and helpful as it was very humid! It was wonderful being able to attend and take part in the celebration.

My niece has Celiac Disease so the reception was catered by Zoe’s Kitchen which made almost all the food gluten free. I tried falafel for the first time……it was ok. 😁 (A bit of beans and a tad awful.) πŸ˜‚ The gluten free ravioli was delectable. (My oldest daughter and I are still talking about how good it tasted.)

We had family fly in from California our native state. My parents are originally from San Francisco and had my brother there before my dad decided to move to Philadelphia and attend Seminary.

Here I am with my handsome nephew and darling new niece! Love, love, love them!!

They had popsicles at the reception provided by a vendor because of the heat which was an excellent idea!! My kids and my hubby and I sat inside where it was a bit cooler.

Here I am with my big brother! Love him tons, obviously.😍

My precious niece eating the yummy gluten free carrot cake she and her mom made. Can you see the sweetness in her angelic face? πŸ€—πŸ˜

Here are my four all cleaned up and polished. My heart nearly breaks as I look at my oldest two (on the right) because they’ve had to make up for all the times I’ve been unwell by running the household together. God is good though because they can cook and clean doing everything I do yet, I think even better! Xoxo

On the far left is my beautiful and cherished Mama. My beautiful Californian aunt “Auntie Jo” is on the right.

All the desserts were gluten free. I was naughty and had a chocolate chip cookie and four bites of cake. (I don’t eat much sugar because of blood sugar issues.) It was well worth it and I have no regrets. 🍰πŸ₯‚

This picture turned out so well! I was so busy capturing it so I forgot to throw the flowers but isn’t this just great?!

I’m so very thankful we could be a part of the happy couple’s wonderful day! They are truly a blessing in my life and in many others lives too. Both are the sweetest, kindest, and most compassionate souls ever and I’m oh so thankful for my adorable family.πŸ€—πŸ˜„

Much love,

Viv πŸ˜ƒ

It’s Never Too Late….Go Call Your Dad!☎️

My father-in-law and husband had a huge blow up that went unresolved for over 2 years during which there was no interaction, no holidays, no visits, or phone calls.

See, they were so much alike, both quiet, strong, INFJs, who march to the beat of their own drums. Because of this, there were walls of awkward silence, barricading them from reaching out, picking up the phone and hashing it out. Instead, it was silence.

I had prayed hard for years that there could be restoration and removal of hurts, forgiveness, and opened love displayed. God heard my cries and after two years and seven months of silence my husband told his mom in June of 2017, we would like to come visit for Thanksgiving. When she told my father-in-law his joyful response was “Oh sure!” He was happy to know he would see his son and four grandchildren again.

But, in July, about three weeks later, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

The news hit hard.

We would never see him again. My husband would never see his dad, never hear his voice. Never make amends.

It was too late.

Life is hard. Things happen. People make mistakes. Blow up. Yell. Say things that are better left unsaid.

But, at the end of the day, God’s word holds true. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26)

We are never guaranteed tomorrow.

We are only given today.

So, pick up the phone this father’s day. Better yet, go see your dad. Even a card in the mail can melt away hurt and slowly open the lines of communication. (We did this.)

I know these relationships can be tricky, stressful, messed up, and hard but honestly, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. You may never get another chance to make things right. I’ve seen it and lived it with my own eyes and l hope this post I write encourages someone out there to try to make things right. All we can do is try and leave the rest up to God. He is Healer of hurts. He helps us forgive. He can bring about reconciliation.

Please, this Father’s Day, go call your dad!

Much love,

Viv πŸ€—

Purr Love

Whiskers twitching, sniffs the air

Cat smells something’s cooking there

Door cracks open, swift as light

In runs Katniss smells delight

Chicken roasting in the oven

Scents of poultry she’s been lovin’

Nows the chance she’s waiting for

Dropping gizzards on the floor

Gizzards, gizzards, lizards, yum

She does eat lizards just for fun

Spoiled rotten mama cat

We dote on her since losing Jack

Mama cat so brave and smart

Purring love into your heart

Treats, and treats, and treats galore

We’re cuddling Katniss more and more

Written by Vivian Joy, June 2019.

You Were A Good Boy, Jack

“Hey Mama.” My son waited until I turned to face him as I awoke Wednesday (April 10, 2019) morning. “Jack is lying in the road.” As I hurried to grab my glasses and shoes, deep down I already knew the outcome of finding my sweet kitty Jack lying in the road. He was always too skittish and scared to just lie there . . . .

My son and I were quickly able to grab a towel and carefully place his broken body onto it as we carted him away from any more vehicles that might crush him further.

He never knew what hit him. It was fast, and based on how his body appeared as he lay there, he had flown up into the air and was gone probably before he hit the ground.

My husband pretends to not greatly like cats but the look on his face as I told him Jack was killed said otherwise.

Oldest boy digging our sweet Jack’s grave

God was merciful.

My last cat Percy, had suffered awhile before crawling into the woods to die.

My youngest son thanked God over hotdogs at lunch hours later, for letting Jack die quickly and that he didn’t suffer….

We buried him at the edge of the sidewalk that leads into the woods. It was Jack’s favorite spot. He often napped there to get out of the hot sun in the summertime. He protected his spot from others critters quite often, that and his rather growing and smelly compost heap.

As midday approached his mama, Katniss, caught on and could be seen sitting next to his grave in the very spot Jack loved to lay in for hours. It’s hard to watch her sniff the air and roam the yard confused and wondering where her son is. It’s just her now, her companion is gone and there’s no one around but her to defend the territory, no one to play with, no one’s head to lick, and no one to share the two sided cat food dish with.

I have written more about my precious “Jackie Boy” here and as my heart is breaking, I still feel so blessed to have enjoyed him for nearly five years! He was a sweet boy. Never once hissed at me or any of the others and loved lapping milk every morning before going outside to roam. Sometimes he drank so much he burped his contented “thank you”, as an over-stuffed cat does.

You were a good boy, Jack. As you rest in the land where good cats go, I hope you still have fun chasing butterflies, lapping up milk, and most importantly, having sole posession of the compost heap.

Jack AKA “Jackie Boy”

May 8, 2014 ~ April 10, 2019

Home Is Where The Dog Is (And Cat)

I want share with you some cute pictures and stories of my very own cuddly fur babies!!

My six-year-old Maltepoo, Molly (Moo Moo), my grey tabby Momma cat, Katniss, and her son Jack.

These aren’t just ordinary pets, they’re therapy! Sadly my husband is allergic to cats (asthma) so they stay outside mostly but come into the kitchen for meals.

Moo Moo is hypoallergenic and stays inside mostly which is awesome. She made months of my being bedridden more bearable because not once did she leave my side.

Molly as a puppy with my oldest daughter

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not an angel (who is?) and she is a very clever stealer of food scraps left on the table. Sometimes when she wants attention she will cut loose on my bed dead center! That’s not fun to remedy as I just purchased the new bedspread I waited years for.

She has an extremely loud bark which scares the mailman and acts crazy when company comes with her high energy jumping, shaking, and yips.

But even so, I’m in love with this little fluff ball of super bad cuteness. She has such a huge heart of love for people. She has also taught me what unconditional love truly is. Dogs are God’s gift because they show us just how easy it is to only love conditionally, yet their unconditional love mirrors God’s love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Molly is a total mama’s girl since my husband doesn’t share as much enthusiasm for little yappy pooches. He just likes big old well-behaved labs with low energy that don’t piddle on his pillow (true story).

Fun dog fact: Most dogs have the maturity of a two year old toddler and can understand approximately 250 words and gestures.

Most recent of Molly, the black spots around her eyes have faded.

Katniss, (yes, I named her after the heroine of The Hunger Games) is our “MOMMA cat” she’s blessed us with two kitten litters in 2013/2014.

We ended up keeping a beautiful orange male from her first litter who was struck by a car a year later. That was devestating since he was my daughter’s very own chosen companion.

Jack came in the second litter. He was the runt and really kind of ugly, but there was something about him. Something I could relate to. He was so unporpotioned with huge ears, small head and body. We discovered later after taking the rest to find new homes and be adopted, that his mouth is deformed so he could not easily get enough milk from his mother therefore making him small and unhealthy looking. After he became the only nursing kitten, he plumped right up and is now a handsome, big, strong male cat.

Fun cat fact: The ridged pattern on a cat’s nose is as unique as a human fingerprint. However, cats can’t see directly below their noses. That’s why they miss food that’s right in front of them.

He’s a bit of a whiny mama’s boy and she’ll take a swat at his head quite regularly but both are great cats and gifted hunters.

I’ve seen evidences of the remains of captured or (mostly) eaten mice, moles, voles, rabbits (sniff), squirrels, birds, skinks, lizards, and large bugs. Since we live in the woods, I don’t see snakes slinking around as much as before because we have no mice on account of our cats.

Truly, a blessing but more than that. They are such pleasant relievers of stress. They love like house cats and Katniss will always jump on my lap when I go outside to read and pray. Their purrs are super loud too which I think emphasizes the amount of love given and received by us and them.

Katniss aka Momma Cat

I’m so greatly blessed by our family’s fur babies and thank God for His pleasant gifts of cozy comforts.

Jack our sweet boy

Do you own pets? I’d LOVE to hear about them. Is there one naughty quirky habit your pet does that makes you laugh or drives you nuts?

Percy (our cat killed by a car) my youngest son holding him 8 months prior.

They probably see a bird

Loads of love,

Viv😺