Family


Five years ago today I lost my only sibling and someone I loved and admired very much. During those first weeks and months the tears flowed endlessly and still today, the pain is just as intense, but it comes less frequently (although still too frequently). I once read someone’s account of losing a loved one and it was very relatable. Grief is like a tsunami that pours over you with enormous pain. In the beginning, the waves come regularly and frequently. Over time, the waves come less often but the intensity of pain when they hit is still as strong as those first hours and days. 

Much has happened since that awful day. I wonder what Greg’s life would be like if he had lived and as much as I would wish him back in my life, I wrestle with knowing he is healed and where he ultimately intended to be—with our Lord in Heaven.
Recently a friend from my small group in church passed away. She was a mighty athlete competing in iron man challenges, but unfortunately was diagnosed with a somewhat rare and terminal disease that took away her abilities to live in the manner she was used to. We prayed for several years for a cure so she could be healed but in the end she went to the Lord too soon. Later, my wise small group leader said our prayers were answered because when she went to Heaven she was healed. She now has a glorious new body and feels no pain.

I remember many prayers I asked God for concerning my brother. I wanted his relationships to heal, his body to heal, and for him to find peace and happiness. And while he left us too soon (from our perspective), God healed him. He now feels no pain, he is with our Savior, and is awaiting us all in the Kingdom.

My parents, his children, and I miss him every single day. He was a glue and stable force in our lives. He was an amazing role model and I really wish he was still around to be an example of God’s love in his children’s lives. The way he lived his life and accepted me for who I was and his love led me to seek Jesus as an adult. God was in my heart but I was wandering lost for many years until my adult relationship with Greg took off and I saw how God could bring peace, a feeling of content, fun, and love in my life.

He affected many people in a positive way through his mission trips, work with Campus Crusade for Christ, volunteering at church, and being a solid base of support for friends, family, and others who just happened to cross his path.

Greg’s kids and our family and his close friends meant the world to him. He struggled those last years of his life, but was giving his all for his family regardless of how life was hitting him. I will never forget God giving us that last day. Greg called to ask me to come up to visit for no reason—just hey let’s get together. That was a week before he died. I really felt like God gave me that last day to see him and have fun before we would be separated for the decades I would have to live without him before God called me home.

So, I still spend some nights crying because he is gone and because of the fall out of being separated from some of my family members, and for the kids and my parents missing their father and son. But, I will always be grateful to God for giving me the best big brother a girl could ask for.

In Greg’s memory, our family created a charity called the Masterpiece Fund. We are honoring the character and principles my brother stood for by giving funds to people throughout the world who need love and support. Greg’s last bible study included a scripture reading from Ephesians 2:10 which inspired the charity.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for long ago.”

The pain of loss we feel when loved ones die is why we must remember to respect all life. Whether friends or strangers. If death of loved ones didn’t hurt so much we would not respect life at all. I think we need to remember that the death of strangers is as much of a pain to someone else as our loved one’s passing means to us. In honor of Greg, let’s remember what Jesus asked us to do.

“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you.”
John 13:34

Visiting the Holy Land is a dream for many people throughout the world. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all consider this land to be the center of our religious and historical past. But visiting this place has its risks. Growing up I never really thought it would be possible with all the fighting, but over the past few years, as more people I know went there, my parents and I thought it would be a good time to go.

And go we did, just last week. Our timing was fortuitous. Throughout our visit, our Jewish guide kept asking us if we felt safe and asking us to be ambassadors back home, “You can tell everyone that it’s safe—we all get along and the news outlets exaggerate.” At first we agreed. But we did a little minor eye rolling when on our last day she said it again and we silently wondered if she had watched the news the night before. The latest battles between Hamas and Israel were heating up with several deaths of boys on both sides. In the week that we’ve been home, the news outlets are reporting that tanks are rolling and missiles are being launched.

Although that seems scary and may keep people from traveling there, the sad fact is, there were dozens of people (at least) killed by gunfire on the streets in our own backyards just over the weekend. So, perspective is in order. We live in a fallen world and you have to make choices whether or not to get out and see the world the way it is.

Overall, the trip was great. There were some instances where it was next to impossible to envision the way the landscape was 2,000 or more years ago. But I think in general what I took away was the reality of the hard terrain that Jesus and his disciples (and the ancient people of the land) traversed. Lots of hills, vast deserts, and hard rocks added some serious damage to my already bad knees. But we had it easy with our air conditioned rooms, cars, restaurants with plenty to eat, and time to leisurely enjoy the days. When I think of Jesus walking up the steep slopes with his friends in 114 degree heat, I can only thank Him once again for his sacrifice and His love for us.

The land has played host to different cultures for many thousands of years. Its history can be seen in deep layers of tells (man-made hills) across the country. Much of it has yet to be unearthed but so much has been discovered already that we can now see how our ancestors lived. But more on that later.

I will be writing about the details of our trip, starting in Jaffa, a 4,000 year old city, then on to Jerusalem’s old city, to the desert heat at Masada and the Dead Sea, up to the gorgeous Sea of Galilee, and ending in Tel Aviv with a nice swim in the Mediterranean. For now, a few pictures to get started.

Genesis 13:17

“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

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On June 8, 2013 two of my favorite people in the entire world celebrate a rare and wonderful  milestone. My parents, Greg and Carol have been married for 50 years!

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These two people have blessed me with a fun, exciting, and loving upbringing. To this day, they still help me with the basics of growing up. They share their wisdom, patience, love, and kindness with me and the rest of our extended family as well as a plethora of friends around the globe. They deserve much happiness and love from all of us.

So what does it take to be married to someone for 50 years? Who knows. I’m not sure there is a formula—except the basics like love, trust, generosity, kindness, laughter, joy, forgiveness. You know what that sounds like to me? The fruit of the Spirit. These two souls have God’s Spirit working in them and through them and it shows.

My dad and my mom probably have some other words of wisdom on how they’ve stayed together for so long. Maybe some selective hearing, some earplugs, some giving up of the remote control and so forth. All I know is that I love them and I am so glad they are taking care of each other.

Congratulations mom and dad!!

Below are some photos from their wedding. I can see some of my cousins in there plus and aunt and uncle and some grandparents. The wedding photographer was a friend  who took some shots for them and the getaway hot rod mobile is there—the thing that made dad look “cool” back then, I’m sure.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

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Mom with grandpa Crowe

Mom with grandpa Crowe

The Wedding Party.

The Wedding Party.

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

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The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

With Grandma Andrews.

With Grandma Andrews.

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The hot ride!

The hot ride!

Mom and grandpa Crowe

Mom and grandpa Crowe

There once was a little girl who loved to sing and dance and play with her brothers and sisters. She was the fourth of five children and always a favorite among her family. Her early life started out in Indiana but then the family moved to the west side of Cleveland where her father worked in the Presbyterian church. Every summer they packed up the family car and drove way up north to an exceptionally beautiful lake in Michigan. It was on Walloon Lake that she learned how to sail and swim and made many friends.

As a young women she spread her joy and love to the kids who attended the local camp on the lake where she worked as a counselor. Singing, dancing and playing games with kids continued through her summers and then on to her years in college.

A very generous aunt and uncle saw the potential in her and sent her to Wooster where she made more friends and spread her joy and love to the people she met there. An adventurous one, she moved to New Mexico after college to work there for awhile before heading to New York where she lived with her older sister and her nephews and nieces. She earned a master’s degree and then got a job at Cornell University.

It was at Cornell that this young woman met the love of her life and then went on to spend the next 50 years with him. This beautiful young woman took care of her husband and soon had a little baby boy. This special boy was born while she lived with her husband on base in Munich, Germany. The army nurses weren’t exactly helpful to this new mother as they dumped sheets on her bed and told her to make her own bed (right after giving birth). She was a tough one this young woman!

More adventures ensued as they took little baby Greg on the road while they climbed mountains and toured Europe. Back to the states they went and soon had a little girl to round out the family. This young mother stayed home raising these two children, spreading her joy and love to them and everyone she met.

This woman grew in her faith, continued to always be a supportive and loving person, and to this day is the most wonderful mom a girl could ask for. This woman is now a grandmother, spreading her joy and love to four of the luckiest kids in the world. They get to call this woman grandma and know that they are loved and prayed for every day.

Thanks mom. I love you and your story will live on through me and your always grateful family. You have been through many trials in your life and continue to come through them with grace and style. You are a great role model and I’m glad you’re my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,

Your kid.

My baby girl kitty cat is missing. I don’t know where she is or if she’s even alive. Some of you may not understand the love and bond you can feel with an animal, but if you do, you know that our little furry companions are part of our families. And when they are lost, it’s a BIG deal.

My little Karma got out of the house last weekend and instead of jumping over to my neighbor’s deck for an hour to sunbathe and stare at their dog through the safety of the glass window, she got lost and has not returned. I don’t know if Greg the owl got her, or if she got hurt in a fight and crawled somewhere to die, or if some kind-hearted person took her in and is feeding her. What I do know is that even with my other pets around, my house feels empty and I miss her very, very much.

For 15 years Karma has made me mad with her scratching up my paperwork, messed up my computer by sitting on it, stuck her paw in my water glass, meowed in my ear when I was sleeping, punched out the dog she resents, and thrown up in my bed. But, over the course of the last horrible year as I cried and cried over the loss of my family, she comforted me. Is she gone for good? I don’t know. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat. (Look it up if you’re not a Big Bang Theory fan or a physicist.)

What I really was moved to write about today is the profound support and help I’ve been getting from my friends and neighbors. My HOA board sent out a blast email for me to alert neighbors about Karma. Other neighbors have physically gone out looking for her and talked to their neighbors to see if they’ve seen anything. I’ve gotten half a dozen phones calls and lots of prayers and support from work colleagues and other friends.

Ten years ago when I moved into this house I thought I’d be here maybe five years then would go on to bigger and nicer digs. Well, obviously life and the economy got in the way of that. And I’m glad. I’ve refinanced twice and am finally fixing up the place because (and I’m just saying God—don’t make this a test or anything) I’m staying. I’ve never lived around such nice, friendly, caring people before. As I get to know more and more of my neighbors (the place is a townhome community with about 500 units), the more I am amazed at what a great place this is and it’s all because of the people here. I don’t know what the magic formula is. We are a mixed bag of races, religions, and ages. There are singles, families, blue and white collar workers, and long-and short-term transplants and locals. Of course there are occasionally the disagreements and issues here and there but I have to give a shout out to my peeps in Amberleigh—there’s lots of “good Karma” in the hood.

So, Karma is still missing and in between my bouts of tears I am getting by because of the amazing and wonderful caring support of my neighborhood family. How blessed am I? Well, God is putting me through some trials this year but he’s also giving me a great support system to survive the storm.

Oh, and if you see my baby, please give me a shout.

Karma, tuxedo cat missing since March 16.

Karma, tuxedo cat missing since March 16.

Karma, sweet kitty hanging on the neighbors deck.

Karma, sweet kitty hanging on the neighbors deck.

Karma boxing with the Grendel dog.

Karma boxing with the Grendel dog.

Karma on her throne. Have cushion, will sleep. Anywhere.

Karma on her throne. Have cushion, will sleep. Anywhere.

I am guilty of not completely appreciating gifts that have been given to me freely and sit visibly in front of me as I stare past them thinking about something meaningless. It’s like when I go walking down the beach and I look at all the huge beautiful houses and think how cool it would be to live there. Then I chastise myself and turn the other direction and remember that the most beautiful thing in my view is the vast ocean, sky, and beach. The houses are going to get knocked down some day but the gifts of warm sand and cool water and dolphins jumping—those are God’s gifts—all free and all perfectly lovely.

I’m thinking about gifts today because last year on this day—a seemingly normal uncelebrated day on the calendar—my brother invited me up to his house in MD to spend the day with him and the kids. Why? No reason, we just hadn’t seen each other in awhile and wanted to spend some time together. There was no agenda and no special events planned. So I went up there and cooked a rice krispy house with the boys that turned out so bad we laughed, took some photos, and proclaimed it a “krispy fail. “

Later we decided to go to a movie. The Lorax was playing and after we laughed at how the kids could memorize every line in the movie but couldn’t remember their homework assignments for the next day. As Greg put it, “If only they would use their powers for good.”

I remember that normal, lazy but fun day very well because it was a gift from God. God gave me that last day with my brother before he died the next week. We spent the day talking about a lot of things and just enjoying our friendship and our family. I will always cherish the memories of that day and thank God for letting me have those precious moments with Greg and the kids.

It sounds cliché when people say things about living life to the fullest and appreciating the moments you have with loved ones, but nevertheless it is true. Just listening to jokes and stories, hanging out and enjoying some fresh air or a warm fire, taking a walk, watching a movie, or playing a game—it’s all precious time spent that lets us be present in each other’s lives. I wish I could spend more time with Greg’s kids like we used to but I’ll let God be in control of the timetable on that one.

In the meantime, I’ll remember that day always. Especially when I go into work each day. Last year my coworkers made these decorations that reminded me of the Lorax trees, and they hang all over our office. At first I was sad each morning when I walked in and saw them and was reminded of my loss. Now I just see the pretty paper flowers and remember the gift God gave me and I’m thankful.

"Rice Krispy Fail"

“Rice Krispy Fail”

On this Father’s Day I wanted to say a special thanks to my father and a give a special nod to my brother Greg who was an amazing father. His children miss him terribly today and I’d like to say to all of you who are missing your dads that I’m sure they would be very proud of you and are loving you from heaven.But back to my dad. I have to hand it to him. He really took good care of our family and worked his butt off to make sure that we were secure and had a bright future. He is and always was very generous. With money, his time, and of course his advice—which I sometimes took but often ignored as a child. A lot of it stuck with me though and I’m glad for those life lessons.

One thing that really amazes me about my dad is that he grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when men were the ones that went out to have careers and be athletes and women were so limited in their choices and certainly not paid equally. Many women stayed home, which as a kid was great. But that is not an option for many today and many women want to have a career outside of the home. Having said that, in my dad’s time, it was all about the boys, not the girls. In fact, I laugh at some of the letters that my grandfather wrote to my parents. He would talk at length about passing on the legacy of our family to my brother and if I was mentioned at all it was an afterthought.

The funny thing is, I never once in my life thought that I could not do anything I wanted to do. I never once thought that my brother was getting more advantages than me or that he was favored. I never once thought that I wouldn’t go to college and get a career and be able to be a CEO or entrepreneur or doctor or Olympic athlete or anything else I could daydream about. You want to know why I never felt limited or second best in my family? Because my dad (and my mom) infused a belief in me that I could chase my dreams and be just as successful as my brother.

My dad left work early on many occasions to come see me play hockey, basketball, lacrosse, softball—even drove miles and miles and sat in damp pools for hours on end to watch me swim for 50 seconds. He was always so proud of me when I did well in school and encouraged my dreams of world dominance. Or at least Olympic or corporate dominance. My dad taught me the same lessons he taught my brother—work hard, be honest, think, be generous, be responsible, mow the lawn before it gets two feet high, read instructions, and go for your dreams.

Thanks dad. You came from a generation where women stayed in the kitchen and kept their opinions to themselves but you raised a woman of a new generation who never thought the impossible was impossible. I don’t know how you made that transition but I’m forever grateful.

To all you dads out there, as your kids, we look up to you, are protected by you, listen to your wisdom (for the most part) and love you. Thanks for being our dads.

1943 Guide to Hiring Women

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