Sunday, September 28, 2014

35 Years of Friendship

35 years - that's a LONG time. That's how long I've been friends with Donna and Kenny Fox. I met them at their wedding and both of them were in my first wedding. So many memories (some of which shall never be made public), lots of laughs, birth of children, children growing up, graduating, getting married. I'm not sure how 35 years went by so quickly, but it seems like just a couple of years ago our husbands were playing atari until 3 am and then reality sinks in and I realize our children are older than we were when we met. And while I have a different husband - he was welcomed into the fold. Sometimes we have let too much time pass between visits, but one thing never changes - we always pick right back up where we left off.  The new rule is one long weekend visit per year and I'm already excited about next year.

Here we are on the Ferry to Martha's Vineyard. What a beautiful day. Lunch on the cliffs at Gay Head Light House.

 Here Donna and I shopping in Falmouth, MA - Hula Hoops were involved later on. I'm sad to report that neither of were able to hoola hoop.....that is really hard.
 Donna and Kenny - still happy after 35 years.
 My handsome hubby, Mike and I enjoying the ferry ride.
Thanks for sharing your timeshare and making this great weekend possible.  Love you both. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


My childhood was not a happy, classic story. In today's world, it isn't even uncommon. Sadly, my childhood was marked by physical abuse of my alcoholic father committed against every member of our family. When my dad was not drinking, he was a nice guy, which is why he could win people over for a period of time. But alas, the demons would never leave him alone and before long he'd be off drowning the pain, memories, fears - with alcohol and that person was NOT a nice person. He was violent, angry, physically abusive, mentally abusive. Many beatings were received for what ever reason he had convinced himself of at the time.  And my mother took the worst by standing between her children and her husband.

In one night of a haze of violence, my Father was gone for years. Life became lean and simple, but it was quiet and safe.  My dad would pop in and out of my life over the next 30 years. Always sober at first and drawing us in with his fun personality and stories, but it was always short lived. The pull of the alcohol always won him back.  It was a vicious cycle that eventually killed him in May 2003.  We had ended our relationship several years before and Rick and I were not part of his service.  I sent flowers and a picture of Rick that was put into the coffin with Dad.

You do what you go on and you live your life. Part of me always wondered why Dad could not give up the alcohol. I often wondered why he never apologized for his actions. I think he felt that because he was an alcoholic that was explanation enough.  It wasn't, not for me.  For my entire adult life, I wondered what happened to my dad to make him so broken and tormented him so badly that he drank to escape. Every little girl wants to feel loved and protected by her father. Looking back, I think he was so broken, he didn't know how to love his wife and children. 

A few weeks ago, my Uncle David, came back into lots of Cope Family members lives via Facebook. A wonderful thing is going on there. I am learning so much about my father's family, getting to know family members and loving it.  Discovering cousins who have much in common with myself. Yet, the one question I hadn't asked of my Uncle David was tell me about my dad, the good, the bad, the ugly. I was ready to see if I could finally make some of the puzzle pieces fit, find clarity and some answers to what broke my dad and maybe understand why he was the way he was.

My Uncle David was kind enough to write me a long, detailed email (and I'm sure doing that brought many painful memories back to him, as well). His email put some of the missing puzzle pieces into the puzzle of who I am. As I had suspected, my grandfather was a mean man - my dad left home early and joined the army and went to the Korean War. He was in and out of their lives too. Sober for a while and then the drinking would always resume and he would be gone again. When I read those words, I cried and my heart broke for this family. The siblings fought and held grudges, going for years without speaking to each other. I see the same pattern wanting to repeat itself in this generation. It needs to stop. I pray it will stop. Carrying grudges doesn't hurt anyone but ourselves. Bitterness and unforgiveness will destroy only ourselves.

I listened to the words of this song by Nicole Nordeman - called Someday.  Cope Family - there is still ink in the pen of our family story. We can't change the past, but we can make the future better.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Unexpected Surprises from Facebook

Friday morning I found a Facebook PM in my "other" box. If someone isn't your friend, that's where Facebook sends message. I rarely check that box, but for some reason, I just felt like clicking on it and low and behold, there it was -

Are you Don Cope's daughter? He was my brother.

A message from my Uncle David - who I didn't even know was still alive. Thankfully, he is and he discovered Facebook and began searching for family.

As a person who has come from a family that is fractured and extremely dysfunctional, for a variety of reasons, far too long for a blog post, these two little sentences took my breath away. My late father and I had not spoken for years preceding his death. I had lost contact with my Uncle Charlie in Louisiana, who was my dad's brother in law.

and there it was....

Are you Don Cope's daughter? He was my brother.

I could have ignored the message - but I felt it was time to break the long standing tradition in my family of no communication and carrying grudges. I've long since forgave my dad for how he was and how he treated his family. Carrying around bitterness and unforgiveness only hurts you. And Uncle David had never done anything to me - so I put my fears out of my mind.

And ....I responded.
Yes, I am. Would love to talk with you and re-connect!

By the end of the weekend, Uncle David had connected, I think all, of the cousins from the Cope Children, Lida, Linda, Don, Corrine, and himself David. My friend list has grown since Friday. My family has grown. That little hard spot in my heart, that I thought was dead, started beating again.

I want my son to know about his family and where he came from.

I'm beyond happy.  The rain, sleet, freezing rain and snow couldn't dampen my spirits today.  
I'm thankful for this gift God gave me - so thankful.

And thank you Uncle David, for reaching out to us.

Here's to the future and getting to know everyone.

Here are pictures of my Grandma and Grandpa Cope. I had never seen a picture of my grandfather until today.  


Monday, February 17, 2014

Skyline Vineyard Church

Almost 2 years ago, Jeff and Diane Wright asked me a question and I had no idea what I was agreeing to when I said yes. Not to mention I had to question their sanity for asking me such a question.

The question?

We are starting a church in northern Virginia and we want you on the team. Will you join us? You could have knocked me over with a feather and I did say to them - "you DO realize that I am a mess, right?" And they assured me that was why I was chosen.

I had no idea how much work would be involved in launching Skyline Vineyard Church. People have already come and gone and that is how it goes in the life of a church. I had no idea how much work God would do in my personally during these past two years and there's LOTS more work going on.  I'm a Work In Progress - a WIP. But isn't that really what we all are? A Work in Progress?

As the alarm goes off at 5 am on Sunday, as it does every Sunday, I groan and reluctantly roll out of bed. All the while reminding myself that I'm not doing this for me. I'm doing it for them. For the people who will come who need to feel the love and acceptance of a God who reaches down from heaven and redeems and restores everyone who comes to Him.

There are several of us who roll out of bed early every Sunday, drive to the storage facility where Skyline Vineyard Church is stored, load up our vehicles and drive to Falls Church High School and transform the Little Theatre into Skyline Vineyard Church. I know none of us loves rolling out of bed every Sunday but we all do it for the same reason - for the people who need Jesus and the healing that only He can bring to lives. For those who have been burned by life and even the church - those who are just tired and worn out and looking for a safe place - that's what it's all about.

We are all quiet as we being the weekly routine of loading vehicles. Some of us shivering in the cold. But we warm up or the caffeine kicks in and we start being more animated.  Once we load up and get to the school, the transformation begins. FIRST things first, the coffee is put on to brew. Skyline can't happen without coffee. Then the chairs are put in place, production equipment, cables and lighting are set up. Sound checks begin. Carpets are put down, tables covered with table cloths, pipe and drape go up and in about an hour - Skyline Vineyard Church is ready to welcome the people God brings to us each week.  We have coffee, we worship Jesus, our children are taught about the great love of Jesus in SkyKidz and we hear a message from the Pastor that is applicable to our daily life and often comes with the intro of a movie like the Matrix or even the hit TV series, Breaking Bad.  Yeah, our church is cool like that.

We've been doing this weekly since September 2013. Most of us haven't missed a week, but a few have had time off needed for weddings, anniversaries, and vacations.  I have to be honest, when its raining or super cold with ice on the ground - I don't look forward to set up.  But it seems on those Sunday's is when God really shows up big and new people are there and someone says on the way out, "this feels like home" and I'm humbled all over again and so very thankful that I GET to do this, week after week.

And then we take it all down, load it onto the trucks and into storage it goes again until next week. Some of us go to lunch, others leave for other commitments, me - I like to go home and take a nap before I send the Pastor the weekly recap of attendance and offering, send out thank you notes and send emails. Yes it takes up my entire Sunday. It takes up the entire Sunday for a team of about 15 dedicated people, who want nothing more than for someone to feel Jesus and his amazing grace and love.

Did I know what I was signing up for almost 2  years ago?  Nope.  Did I realize it would be the most challenging and yet rewarding thing I've ever done? Nope.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely. I am allowed to be part of something that makes a difference in people's lives and that makes it worth my time.

So if you ever want to check us out - Coffee is on at 10 am. Service starts at 10:30. 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church, Virginia. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014 - Snow Day!

It was a snow day. We don't get many significant snow storms in our area so I always try and find as much magic as I can. What I love most is the silence a major snow storm brings to our area. It isn't often you can HEAR the silence. It's magical and it doesn't happen nearly enough....silence that is.
 After the roads were cleared, the hubby and I went for a drive and it's always a time to grab the camera and grab some photos - it's what we do.

 This photo was taken around 5:30 am - before the plows got going and people were trying to get out. What is it about us that makes us think we HAVE to get to work, we MUST get out of the house? Why not enjoy your coffee, have breakfast with your family? Play in the snow with your kids?  The work will always be there. I know I don't do anything that is critical to anyone's survival - selling IT equipment and software to the govt does not make anyone's life better.
 15 inches was the measurement early this morning and it's snowing again.

 A pretty snow covered creek. Beautiful.
 Minion Dave took some time to enjoy the snow too.

Snow is beautiful.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Year...a little late....

Blew right through Christmas and New Years....and here we are, firmly into 2014.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Ours was quiet, peaceful and wonderful. I didn't do as much decorating this year simply because of time and once I convinced myself that was okay - I began to just enjoy the Christmas season.

Here are a few pictures of my decorating - I only had two decorated trees this year, but I loved both of them.

So here we are - it's the 13th of January.  I love January because it's a month where I feel motivated to change things up. I like to clean out closets, rearrange rooms, paint, etc...just get a fresh start for the new year. It's also a time I like to reflect on the previous year and think about what went right, what went wrong, and what I'd like to change in the coming year.

Once thing I did not get enough time to do last year was create art and scrapbook. That is a HUGE part of who I am and this year - once a month I will find a few hours to hide away and get creative again. I'm working on an art planner as I type. Paint and ink are drying and I'm excited to be able to carry around a piece of art every day!

And as usual - I pick a word that I want to apply to my life in the coming  year. I struggled this year with a word - and finally came up with Gusto! I want to live my life with Gusto! I want to serve God with Gusto! I want to have an excitement and enthusiasm for life - because we never know how long we have and I want to live it and I don't want to spend it being grumpy and wishing I had done something fun and exciting. Every day we are alive is an opportunity to live life to it's fullest. I guess that message really hit home today - as a friend I know through scrapbooking lost her daughter yesterday. Mara was only 18 and had one heart transplant that failed and while they were looking for a replacement, God decided she needed an entire new body.  I've been praying for Mara to get a new heart for weeks and God didn't answer the prayer the way I wanted or the way her family wanted - but He decided she needed a new body with wings.  Mara - fly high sweet angel girl.  Hugs and prayers to Heather and the family during this terribly sad time.

So...don't wait until tomorrow - none of us are promised tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankful for my Mother

My mother's birthday was on November 15th. She would have been 89 years old.  She went home to be with Jesus in March of 2004.  I miss her.

Pictures of my mom are on another computer, so I don't have a picture to add of her here at the moment, but I want to tell you about my Momma.

Mother and I were not a really close mother-daughter - we were very different and I was oh so stubborn. Time and life has a way of causing us to re-evaluate people and events of the past.  I wish I had taken time to ask my mother more about her life growing up and her life as a young adult - but I also think there things in her life that were difficult for her to share, with anyone.

My mother was a loving and giving person - she had so many friends. She loved God and loved serving Him where ever needed.

Mother served in the Army during WWII. I love the pictures of her in her uniform. She was so beautiful.

I think the things I remember most about my mother are her courage and bravery. My dad was a violent alcoholic and finally left the family when I was 7 years old and my brother was 5 - cleaning out the bank account in the process.  In those days it was not hip and cool to be a single mom.  You didn't air your "dirty laundry".  My mother worked her butt off to keep a roof over our heads. I know she did without a lot of things herself so that my brother and I had what we needed. My mother never complained and she never said a bad word about my dad, who also, didn't pay child support. Jimmy and I always had food and clothes and a nice Christmas. All I know, is that it was peaceful after my dad left.

When my brother and I were 13 and 11, we went to visit my Dad in Texas. He was remarried and mother said he was okay and not drinking. I can't imagine what she felt putting my brother and I on a plane that summer day.  I couldn't have done it.  Yet, she let us go visit him.  She was brave for sure.

Mother always took us to church - I know it was her faith and relationship with Jesus that got her through all those tough times. When I was in my 20's I decided church didn't have anything relevant to offer and I quit going. My mom, never pushed, but always let me know, God would always be there waiting for me to come back - and 30 years later - I realize how right she was.  So thankful for her prayers and that she was right - God is always ready to welcome us.

When my brother was killed in a car crash, I went to identify his body.  I didn't want mother to remember Jimmy that way.  It was the hardest thing I think I've done.  I cried the entire way to my mother's house and stopped before I went in.  I never let her see me cry - I felt it was my turn to be strong for her.

When her cancer came back - I was with her every step of the way. I knew what she wanted. I knew how she lived and how she wanted to die. I honored her wishes. Thankfully, the cancer took her quickly and she didn't suffer for long.  I was with her when she left this world and walked with Jesus through Heaven's gates. It is a privilege and honor to spend a person's last minutes on earth with them. 

She was brave and courageous for my brother and I when we were little and I was determined to be brave and courageous for her when she needed me.

Today, as I watch my son, Rick, become an amazing worship leader at church, I know how proud she is of him. I know she is worshiping with us on Sunday mornings. 

I wouldn't be the person I am today, without the love and guidance from my mother. I love her and I miss her. But I know I'll see her again one day.