Category Archives: Gracie

My nieces …

are remarkable.

Each of them brings me unspeakable joy.

Sophie, the oldest, was my first. I watched her being born and captured the first photograph of her.

She became, that photograph did, anyway, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/nurses-day-obstetrics-new-baby-exam-150758?aid=133039

Gracie, known to me as Gracie-Bell, was second. I didn’t witness her birth as she decided to create all kinds of drama.

She, like her older sister, is a drama queen.

Gracie has Down’s Syndrome but lives life as though it will end tomorrow. She’s a character and, as you may have imagined, a greeting card as well.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/happy-nurses-day-child-dancing-803906?aid=133039

Life happens as it happens and as it does, I capture it.

It’s what I do.

My daughter, for instance, was a music education major.  She’s chosen a different path, yet still found herself on a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/miss-you-cards/general-miss-you/girl-with-trumpet-music-135567?aid=133039

My dad, an inspiration to me though we often butted heads, is my mentor. Guess what?  Yep, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/dad-father-birthday-cards/general/happy-birthday-dad-farmer-246883?aid=133039

Life happens.

In that life is magnificence.

Live.

Love.

Embrace.

Enjoy.

Time passes, life goes on, memories fade.

Enjoy each moment for there will come a time when nothing, except memories, remain.

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Family. Friends. Creation. Life.

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Nothing matters more.

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Standing outside in the snow …

is one of the most freeing of experiences.

I liken it to standing in the midst of a summer rain while nature falls all around, touching, caressing, permeating my very being and making me one with its magnificence.

How wonderful it is to feel the snowflakes, each different and individual, falling on my skin, touching my lips, landing on my lashes?

The peace of the falling snow is, in itself, a wondrous thing, but to feel it on my skin takes me to a place where my dreams live.

I suppose, to some, it will sound irrational to hear that someone purposely stands outside while the snow or rain falls, or while the wind whips through the air.

It shouldn’t.

It should, instead, be an invitation to feel nature in real time, to partake in her joy as she showers the earth with beauty and marvelous things.

Bask in the magnificence of nature … stand in the rain, stand in the snow, feel the wind on your face.

Find peace in the solitude and realize who you are at your core.

Who you are meant to be.

What you are meant to be.

Listen to the voice of the earth for it is the footstool of Jesus.

Find solace.

Find joy.

Find what you didn’t even realize you were looking for.

Simply be still and let all that creation has to offer overcome you.

It will, without doubt or reservation, change your world for the better.

Listen to the wind, feel the sunshine, bask in the light of the moon, hear the pounding of the surf …

Find sustenance and sublimity in the beauty that surrounds you.

I promise you won’t be sorry.

But don’t simply take my word for it … immerse yourself and find, for yourself, the wonder of nature.

The joy of snowfallSeriously?

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Finding joy in every momentkisses blown from an angel

Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …

Where is that thing …

the TV remote, that is.

My niece Gracie came over for a visit today and the very first order of business for her was to turn on the TV.  She turned it on by the power button on the set (what a concept) and there was nothing but static.

She said “fix it Nini”.  And I stood there, dumbfounded, because I couldn’t fix it.

In order to fix it, I would need the remote and I haven’t seen that particular piece of equipment in weeks.

Or maybe months, I’m not certain.

She frowned at me as though I had popped her brand new balloon with a needle.

But what was I to do?

I don’t know where it is.  I have looked for it so I could watch “Lord of the Dance”, “The Fugitive” and “Wolf”.

I haven’t found it, but I have, most diligently, looked for it.

Mayhaps the elusive mouse that I have been trying to catch carried it off.

I have looked everywhere, even in places that I am certain, without a shred of doubt, that it could not possibly be because who really knows what goes on when I sleepwalk?

But I looked anyway just to satisfy my own curiosity.

It has simply disappeared.

I haven’t had the TV on in months and have had no need of the remote.  That doesn’t justify its disappearance.  It didn’t simply evaporate.

Or maybe it did.  What do I know?

So instead of the TV, I subjected her to my current obsession with John Cougar.  She didn’t seem to mind, not overmuch anyway, but every now and then, she would look at me and shake her head.

It is hard to swallow the disappointing looks from a five year old.

Sorry, Gracie. I’ll try to do better next time.

kisses blown from an angel

kisses blown from an angel

An extra chromosome …

changed my life, as well as the lives of many, many others.  Five years ago, my youngest niece was born with Down’s Syndrome.  She was a tiny, fragile thing who looked as though she would break with the slightest touch.  Her fragility, however, was short lived.  Before we knew what hit us, Gracie was not only growing and thriving, but had managed to wrap everyone who met her around her sweet little finger.  The first time she smiled at me, tears filled my eyes.  The first time she called me Nini, I cried.  The first time she put those precious little arms around my neck and lay her head on my shoulder, I lost it completely.

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The fact that Gracie has Down’s Syndrome is irrelevant to everyone who meets her.  Her charismatic personality and over-the-top laughter make it impossible to see anything but the beautiful spirit she exudes.  She laughs.  She loves.  She thrives.  She plays.  She cries.  She gets mad.  She is everything she’s supposed to be, but because of that little, bitty, extra chromosome, she is so much more.

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Just by being herself, she is an encourager.  It is simply not possible to be in Gracie’s presence and not feel a sense of love and acceptance.  It was evident from the start that she was one of God’s special gifts.  She is blessed in a way that makes her appear larger than life.  Her very being commands attention without ever saying a word and people migrate to her, surround her, find solace in her.  She is, without doubt or reservation, a formidable weapon against everything negative.

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She possesses an innate ability to turn lives around with her genuineness.    She is guileless in everything she does, having no agenda or premeditation.  Her sense of self is unrivaled and her confidence unwavering;  that, in itself, is a testament to the strength and beauty that is part of what makes her who she is.  There are many things I would change in my life were I given the chance to do so.  Gracie is not one of them.

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March 21 is Down’s Syndrome Awareness Day and the purpose of this post is as much to help raise awareness as it is to sing the song of Gracie.    I am more than I was before she came into my life, but not nearly as much as I will be in another five years.  My life changed, for the better, the day she was born and I will never be the same.

To read Watching Gracie Grow, click on the photo below:

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As our Gracie grows …

I find that watching her is one of my most wonderful blessings.  The years seem to have flown by and now, she is just a couple of months shy of her fifth birthday.  She can do whatever she tries to do, follows her sister wherever she goes and can hold her own (especially in the ones she starts), in a good old fashioned wrestle.  She has learned that pouting works with everyone but me and doesn’t even bother anymore.  She just points her finger at me and says things that I’m almost glad I can’t understand.  She has her own mind, her own will and her own ambitions.  She has her own way of doing things and is pretty set on doing it HER way.  Having to share everything and everyone with a sister who is cut from the same cloth makes like interesting, to say the least.

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When Gracie first came into the world, she was early.  Very early.  And she was almost immediately diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.  She won our hearts so quickly, we didn’t really have a chance to absorb the fact that she had Down’s.  We prayed and God answered; she would touch our lives in a way that none of us, not even us optimists, could ever imagine.

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While she says many things that are amusing, there are two phrases she says that melt me like warm chocolate.  “Hi Nini” and “Love you, too, Nini”.  I’ve never once called when Gracie was around that she didn’t pick up the phone and say “Hi Nini”, whether she knew it was me or not.  I love that.  It makes me feel good inside to know that I am part of this beautiful child’s life.  I’m not the only one, though.  Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of being around her; she has a gift.  A gift of encouragement and light.  She never fails to bring joy to anyone who sees her.  It is rather awesome to watch.  She has a special light around her; one that makes everyone want to be near her … makes me want to be near her.  A light that makes even the worst of days insignificant when she puts those little arms around my neck.

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She has come a long way, our Gracie.  From barely hanging on to thriving and living in a world she feels safe in and isn’t afraid to explore.  She reminds me what I want to be when I grow up.  Yes, she is truly a blessing in my life, but by far, not the only one; not by a longshot. (If you haven’t read Watching Gracie Grow, read it here http://wp.me/p1CqmN-m )

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Psalms 100 ~  1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord; all ye lands.  2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.