Happy Anniversary Baby, Got You On My Mind

Happy Anniversary Baby, Got You On My Mind

Wow, 26 years, 9 children, 2 grandchildren, 4 states ( 3 of them at least twice), and 15 moves. That is a lot of life being lived together. We sure have had a good time and hope for them to keep on coming.

This isn’t going to be one of those Hollywood style post about the couples that wax poetically on and on about one another’s virtues and then are divorced three months later. I always wonder about those articles, are they PR stunts or are they genuine attempts by the couple to remind one another what it is they really do love about one another – a last ditch effort to get back to what they once had? Marriage is tough ( anyone who says it isn’t, is either lying or just wants to look perfect)and I imagine a marriage under the spotlight can be a pressure cooker.

But being tough isn’t necessarily a bad thing, tough things often get stronger. Just like a piece of fruit left out in the sun that toughens, it often grows stronger making it almost impossible to tear apart. Okay, okay, horrible analogy, but hopefully you get my point, we don’t have to run away from the tough times. If we stick together like a piece of taffy that is so hard to pull apart, it will only help in the long run. Geez, what is this with the bad food analogies today? A whole paragraph of them!

David and I have always tried to remember we are on the same team. We try to keep in mind we are not each other’s enemy. We have a mentality that it is he and I against the world, or maybe somedays, uh, the children, goes a long way for team building. But what I know is we are a two man crew- we think it is important for you as a couple to know it and believe it, for the world to see it and above all, for your children to rest in the safety and security of their parents being “a two man crew” first.

We have spent many a days reminding the children, we are each other’s best friend. We have made a commitment to have time in each day that is just for us. We have gone away together for a weekend of rest and fun for twenty years now and as the children kept multiplying, we started going twice a year. I would rather eat grilled cheese and beanie weenies for a month, then give up that time together. We remember to laugh together, read together, play together- live life together.

Sure there have been moments I have wanted to throw his clothes on the lawn ( I think maybe I did) or hurl a jar of peanut butter across the room creating a half moon shape in the wall ( wait, did that too) and I know he has probably bit his tongue so hard it bled, but who really remembers that stuff? And when we do, it’s too laugh and realize how far we have grown and how small and petty we can make little things.

But oh , if we remember the small things in the tough times.. Like how I still can’t get over how David’s face lights up and how big his smile gets when I walk into a room ( I know, amazing, I have witnesses). It makes me feel blessed every time. He lights up for me, thirty pounds overweight , stretch-mark-riddled, tired ME. Or how genuinely glad we are to see each other at the end of the day. Or how we know the little treats, meals and sweet gestures that perk up a long day. It’s how he still holds my hand everywhere we go. It’s how he still ask the girl who hates to give back rubs, ” You wouldn’t want to rub my back would you?” and oddly I do want to and smile while I comply. And how the creature of habit girl gets the great adventurer to eat Thai for the fourth week in a row, when he would rather be conquering a new cuisine. It’s that he still makes my knees buckle when he flashes a grin and throws a ball cap on top of his head. It’s that good, bad or indifferent days we are committed to one another. We know that we were created for one another and we are in it for the long haul.

Happy Anniversary Baby! You are always on my mind and in my heart! Love you!




My daughter Grace and I were out one afternoon in search of a treat to soothe our sweet craving. The road we were traveling down is a road we find ourselves on often. It’s a two-lane road in the city. Parked cars are lined down one side of the street in front of their owners’ homes; there are duplexes, apartments and single family homes. On the other side of the road stand a few homes, but most of the land is occupied by tennis courts, a playground, a community center and pool and just as you reach the top of the hill, a large shopping complex. During the daylight hours, the road is abuzz with people walking and playing, cars being parked, and vehicles traveling to their destinations. There is plenty to get distracted by and plenty to observe.

It was Father’s Day and just as we came to the top of the hill, we noticed a group of people step off the sidewalk, move behind the back of the car and begin to venture toward the door of the vehicle. Grace and I both began to speak simultaneously. I said, “Oh, that is so sweet – that older man is gently leading that young adult blind man to put him in the car and he is being very vigilant.” Grace was sharing, “Oh how sweet – that young man has a hold of his grandfather’s arm and is making sure he doesn’t step out in traffic.” We both began to question what the other just proclaimed and politely refuted our different observations.

“No, no, that was absolutely a blind man being led by his grandfather. “No, he was being protected by his grandson from all the traffic.” After a few different variations of the above statements we agreed to disagree about the scene we had witnessed. But here’s the thing: it was still the same two people with a group of people behind them entering the road. There are only a few things we definitely know: the two who caught our eye were both males, they were both African American, one was grandfather-age and one was a young adult, the young adult was holding on to the arm of the older man, and they were getting in a car. Other than that we really don’t know anything else about the situation. We only have our perceptions. And clearly, one of our viewpoints was distorted or maybe even both of them were out of focus.

In life, we all have different perceptions. Not just in the casual observer situations, but the day- to -day interpersonal stuff. With our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, really just about anyone we have a personal relationship or casual contact with, we analyze and view situations differently. We size up people and circumstances based on our own history (or some would say baggage), our mood at the moment, the stress in our life, our own hurts and insecurities, our pride and our selfishness- the reasons behind our contrasting perceptions go on and on.

In life we will always have situations we see differently from others. And it is okay. We don’t always have to agree completely, understand every single detail or even draw the same conclusions. There is a great big world out there and the stories we share and each of our unique perceptions make it an exciting place to live.


Redheads Rule!

We were so relieved to receive this text message this morning:

Emma Jane has arrived!! She has red hair and is 6lbs 7oz., 19 in long! Ashleigh had great doctors. There were no complications and her heart is doing really well.

The above message was music to this Mamie’s ears.

Thank you all for your prayers, comments, and words of encouragement for our family. Your love and concern has meant the world to us!

We are overwhelmed by God’s grace and mercy and the blessing he has added to our family in the safe arrival of Emma Jane Irwin.

Please continue with your prayers. As Ashleigh’s heart rate is doing great the cardiologist will begin the process of stopping the medication to see how her heart responds. The latest reports are Emma is a sleepy, calm girl and while Bella has met and loves her new sister, she is confused she couldn’t hold her or her Mommy ;-). Philip is overjoyed!

Thank you everyone! Praise be to God!

Emma Jane

Answered prayer, sweet baby girl

Philip, Ashleigh and Emma


A Call for Prayer

I have a favor to ask each and every one of you. My daughter-in-law Ashleigh will be having surgery, a c-section to deliver our second grandchild, Emma. Philip and Ashleigh are already wonderful parents to our fun-loving, climb anything and everything, red-headed granddaughter, Bella.

They are living overseas and the surgery will take place in Hong Kong. In the last few weeks they have experienced many different and scary challenges, including a temporary move due to Ashleigh collapsing at almost 35 weeks due to a racing heart of 220 bpm. Ashleigh has a heart condition called SVT (Supra Ventricular Tachycardia) which typically is relatively benign during pregnancy. After a several-days hospital stay along with regularly increased dosages of a beta blocker, her heart rate has stayed elevated around 115-120 at rest. Her OB and cardiologist are both hoping it will decrease and level off to below 100 before surgery.

On Thursday, June 20th, 3:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern time, she will deliver Emma via c-section.

So a few specific requests:

* The beta blocker will work and bring her heart rate down and stabilize it.
* Emma will continue to tolerate the medicine in utero well and it will have no adverse effects on her health.
* Ashleigh will not go into labor before the scheduled c-section. The doctors feel this could be too strenuous on her.
* Prayers for Ashleigh’s mother, Susan, who is in transit right now heading to help out the sweet family in Hong Kong. She arrives late their Wednesday night, our Wednesday morning.
* Strength, health, energy and peace for our son Philip, Ashleigh’s husband and Bella and Emma’s father.
* All the Irwin family’s friends and family (yes, I do include MYSELF in that group), who love them so dearly, that we will have peace and comfort through this time, and we will have the words and actions to know how to support and encourage them from such a far distance.
* Prayers for all involved in the surgery and the care and health of Ashleigh and Emma before, during and after.
* If the delivery of Emma does not eradicate and relieve Ashleigh’s heart issue, the medical professionals in Hong Kong will be able to swiftly and accurately diagnose and effectively treat her problem.

I know that I have laid many requests before you to take to the throne of our Great God, but I do so because I believe His Word.

Philippians 4:6-8
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Thank you in advance for your faithful prayers. And I pray now for all of you shift workers, restless sleepers and Mommas and Daddies up in the night that you will be burdened to pray specifically during her surgery time.

I would love to pray for you and welcome your private requests through my contact email or please feel free to post directly on this blog post so others can pray for you as well.

Ashleigh carrying sweet Emma at 37 1/2 weeks

Emma crying in utero when they were stimulating her with the ultrasound machine

Emma’s big sister Bella hitching a ride from a new friend

The Irwin family


A Senseless Act of Violence

I sit here today and I cannot get thoughts of the news I heard late Saturday night out of my head. The owner of one of my favorite pizza restaurants was shot and killed in a robbery. It wasn’t in the dark of night – it was at 6:15 on a warm, bright sunny evening. It wasn’t even like the register would have been loaded with money. The restaurant is tiny (it seats 35), does a lot of take-out business, and is only open from 4-8 pm with an extra hour on the weekends. All the details of the armed robbery have not yet emerged, but they don’t have to for me or anyone else to come to the conclusion: what a senseless act.

News like this shakes me to my core for many reasons. A son, a father, a husband, a community member has been taken. Richard Evans was a sweet man. He would wax eloquently about his pizza crust and the importance of how he cooked a pizza pie a certain way. If you were getting your pizza to go, he would recommend half-baked because the trapped steam from the hot pizza in the box would create a water vapor, causing a soggy crust. Pizzas were made to order and his ingredients were fresh. The man was serious about the quality of his pizza.

We stumbled upon his restaurant accidentally. David and I were looking to kill time while Phoebe was at basketball practice and found the restaurant through a GPS search. It’s a BYOB restaurant, giving it an extra dose of charm with the dine-in upstairs. I was at the height of my anxiety/panic/social phobia issues so it was perfect. We chatted with Richard about his world travels, his family, the business, great pizza, and God, and my shoulders relaxed just a little that day. The restaurant and Richard’s easy-going humanity made me feel like a normal member of society.

We pledged to come back and we did, even celebrating David’s and Lydia’s birthdays in January at Cosmic Pizza in his family’s added-on, newly- renovated dining area he was so proud to sit his customers in. He was committed to the community and in it for the long haul.

I am glad we took the time to visit with Richard every time we went in to eat. And I am glad he took the time to share a part of himself with us. And now, each time I think, wow, we could have been at the restaurant last night, I push the thought from my mind. David and I did go out last night for dinner. We chose to share a plate of fish and chips at another local eatery, Molly Malone’s. I am trying to monitor my dairy intake, so Cosmic Pizza didn’t make the list of choices. So it was that I found myself dipping a crunchy piece of Cincinnati’s best beer-battered fish into my malt vinegar instead of biting into a piece of true New York style pizza as Richard Evans was shot multiple times, fled his restaurant and died outside.

His wife worked there with him; his children were there sometimes too in the playroom in the back. I keep thinking of them. I also keep pondering how so often in life we are on the go, on the run and we are such nameless, faceless people to each other that we couldn’t even identify one another in a line-up. His death makes me even more resolved to keep slowing life down, to keep taking the time to connect and hear the stories of the people around me.

Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I don’t want the roaring noise of my own life to cause me to selfishly block out and ignore the lives around me. We can allow our own concerns, needs and wants to suck all the time out of our day if we aren’t careful. If the restaurant stays open, I will not allow this act of violence to keep me away, to keep me afraid. It’s scary when bad things happen and you think, I could have been there, that could have been me, but it wasn’t and so you continue doing what Richard can no longer do here on earth, LIVE!

So I encourage you, go out today and meet one new person somewhere you stop frequently and really engage in conversation, in this life we have been given with them. So maybe you will never have dinner together or be bosom friends, but at least you will have spent a little time as you breathe in and out, living life together a little more personally. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Members of our family celebrating David and Lydia’s birthdays at Cosmic Pizza. Richard snapped the photograph for us.

Kids, Life

Advice for the graduates

My Lilly graduated this weekend. I could wax eloquently about how proud we are of her (we are), how her future is bright (it is), how she was first in her class (we homeschool) and that she has her whole life ahead of her (she does), but what I really want to tell her and her graduating peers is not just platitudes of conquering the world, but some of the truth in those wisdom-giving sayings, as well as a few other thoughts.

* So the saying taken from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor is “the world is your oyster.” Let’s throw out the original violent context from the play and we have a saying ripe with the encouragement that you can make your life anything. Go out there and grab your oyster; after all, oysters have pearls, and so you have riches out there that await you. If you grew up around water like I did and you ever went clamming or looking for oysters in a seashore tidal pool, then you know it is a process and can be hard work. So just remember, Graduates, finding that oyster can take hard work and you most often cannot just stop at one. Life is typically a series of oysters and you have to work. And you can’t just stop at finding one oyster and letting it sit; remember, seafood will stink after a few days.

* Soap operas, TV shows and movies do not depict real life. Sure there may be emotions, themes or an essence about the show we can relate too, but they are larger-than-life caricatures of people. Please don’t go through life expecting everything to work out like a two-hour movie with a neat and tidy ending. Life is great and marvelous, but if you stack your boyfriend/girlfriend, job and social outings up against your favorite show, you will be disappointed. Don’t do it.

* Forest Gump’s “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are going to get,” is true. When I graduated high school, if you had told me I would move 15 times in 25 years of marriage, birth nine children and be a homeschool mom, I would have laughed at you right along with ALL my classmates. But oh what an adventure it has been and a charmed life too amidst the moments of heartache and sorrow. But those were only moments. So be fluid. Let’s define fluid – a substance that has no fixed shape and yields easily to external pressure. Be willing to be fluid and go with the flow.

* Remember to not take yourself or the moment you find yourself in too seriously. Remember it will pass. You may not have a choice in your circumstances or it may feel that way, but both your feelings and the moment really are going to pass.

* “You’re on top of the world” or “at the top of your game.” What do those sayings really mean? If you live your life feeling like you have climbed some mountain peak and the rest is downhill after that one job, one experience or one moment, you will live a life of discontent. You will find yourself undervaluing or under-appreciating precious, sweet moments in your life. Yes, there will be once-in-a-lifetime experiences but don’t live your life longing for them and wasting your days seeking them out; sometimes they just find you. In the quiet, subtle living of day-to-day there are many moments of beauty to be found.

* “Bloom where you are planted.” Your life may take you many far-off places or you may spend all your days in your hometown , but choose to bloom. Just as a flower needs water and nutrients to grow, tend the garden of your life.

* Be unique. Don’t worry about being one of the crowd, but do remember in the crowd there are friends to be made and memories to make. Don’t try to go at this life alone.

* Speaking of alone, cling to your faith. As a Christian, I would tell you, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) If you do that you really can’t go wrong. It doesn’t mean life will always be “a piece of cake,” but it will just be easier.

And a small final piece of advice from the movie Finding Nemo: when you don’t know what else to do, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

It’s a grand world out there – enjoy it!

Oh and eating an organic apple a day, drinking plenty of water and exercise each day can go a long way too! 😉