Christmas mornings started at home with our parents then transitioned over to Gram’s and Aunt Nancy’s for a HUGE ham breakfast with our entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins) before watching Gram and Aunt Nancy unwrap the multitude of gifts exploding from under the tree each year. We were allowed to wear our jammies and bring one gift to show off, which now I realize was probably the only way they were dragging us away from the newly opened presents and dreams fulfilled. Mom and Dad recognized the gifts were nice and made us happy yet knw the greatest gift they could ever give us was time together and time with our family. Thanks Mom and Dad! A gift so many have never experienced ~ thanks for always putting family 1st!
After our bellies were full, our cheeks sore from laughing and everyone thankful for yet another blessed Christmas celebration we returned home so mom and dad could nap. Heidi and I were told to “rest” but we were kids so of course we played ever so quietly. I remember the year we each were given sleeping bags. Heidi wanted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle one and I was torn between Snoopy and Barbie. On Christmas morning we were so excited to open those sleeping bags – must be Santa was confused on which to choose too since both were under the tree for me. Or maybe one of my wonderful aunts picked it up – I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember. I do know this was probably the only year when we “rested” we actually fell asleep with our sleeping bags side by side on the livingroom floor.
After napping, dressing in one of our new outfits from under the tree we loaded back into the car and headed to Fulton to join the Hogan clan for our evening Christmas celebration. This was my favorite – we were surrounded not only by the same aunts, uncles and cousins from our typical Sunday dinners and earlier that same day but our great aunts, great uncles and 2nd and 3rd cousins were there. It was GREAT! Aunt Kit and Uncle Buss had the house decorated top to bottom with the aroma of homemade foods seeping from the cracks in the door as we climbed the cement steps to the top. Laughter and loud “discussions” could be heard with the cheers from the livingroom aroused the boys curiosity.
The younger kids were allowed to jump on Mark’s bed (shh…don’t tell him, lol) One night we were jumping and it broke. We all jumped off the bed and laid ourselves across his bean bag chair and the pillows before an adult came in – no one came. Hmm…didn’t they hear the bang? We all laughed and laughed, made the bed back up before leaving the room and left. During the next week when Aunt Kay arrived at my Gram’s she said “Oh girls…did Mark’s bed happen to break on Christmas eve?” We just laughed and so did Aunt Kay…she said Uncle Buss didn’t find it nearly as funny as we were. Which of course made us laugh all the more. The next time we went in Mark’s room we were told “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” by Uncle Buss and he winked at us. What a teddy bear!
On this last day of March it isn’t important who broke the bed or who caught us. I believe it is important to have memories of being together to carry us through when the ones we love so dear…are gone. Heidi and I were always together as children, usually dressed alike until those teen years. I had a unique style and Heidi, sporty. The Lord blessed me with a sister for eighteen years…I cherish every moment I remember. I pray you have the same…
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
The orange lit cross was the wreath we hung on the Heidi Allen Command Center that first Christmas, along with a community tree lighting. Thank you New Haven!
The four cousins. Heidi, Missy, Shawnacy and myself standing in front of the limo at our cousin Mark and Melanie’s wedding. While growing up it was common to see the four of us together. Our parents loanes us out to the other when vacationing or traveling. Gram and Aunt Nancy picked us all up to bring us to dinner and church. And most importantly…we were each other’s best friends and confidence while growing up. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle or get through together. This had been modeled by our parents…Missy and Shawnacy’s father, my Uncle Jim and my mom, Sue – are brother and sister.
This is a family favorite photo. There is a nicer one where we are actually looking at the limo and “posed” yet I like this one since it truly reflects our personalities. Do you see that precious girl in the yellow? Why of course it is that beautiful little sister of mine – smiling! Always…my forever memories of Heidi are the constant smiles. Then Missy, the eldest in the group. She looked out for us and tried to keep us in line but we were quite the trio to control. Then there is Shawnacy, Missy little sister. Oh my gosh – with that red hair and all those freckles. Too cute. Firey disposition and spunky…great Irish combination. And then there is me…who knows what I was up to. It looks like I was trying to run away. I’ve always been a touch moody, lol.
While this is one of my favorite childhood photos it also brings sadness to my heart. Missy and I were each the oldest with Heidi and Shawnacy as our baby sisters. When together we functioned as a whole, 100% fun, troublesome and full of life. Yet on April 3, 1994 Heidi was kidnapped and on June 29, 1995 Shawnacy was taken from us in an motorcycle accident. The four cousins were now two – the two “older” siblings were left. How would we live without our little sisters? This was a mystery for many years for me.
Thankfully ten years after Heidi’s disappearance I was introduced to this wonderful person, Jesus. I opened up my heart and invited Him in and I haven’t been the same since. Although there is still pain and hurt, I know I can do anything with God’s strength and love.
During lunch the other day at school someone commented on the blessing of having extended family – the memories and blessings of knowing your family and spending time with them. Thankfully I have enough memories I could spend every day sharing a different family memory. Yet if I spent all my time blogging, I wouldn’t be making memories with my daughter and family. I like family traditions so I’m going to keep it going.
Have you seen your family lately? If not, pick up the phone and call them. Email and postal mail work yet I believe there is something powerful in human contact and hearing a voice in a coversation that is lost via email. There has to be some truth in this since I haven’t found a single Scripture saying “Jesus text his disciples…” or “Jesus dropped a quick email to his father before healing the blind man…” Who can you call today? What relationship in your life can be healed with God’s help and a phone call? I’m praying for you and blessed family time today…
Heidi wasn't able to celebrate her own wedding day yet she had dreams...
She knew what colors she would have and who she was going to marry...
Thankfully she was my maid-of-honor for my wedding. I didn't understand why things happened the way they did back then yet am thankful today...Many have seen this photo on a couple of her missing person's flyer - today I share the entire picture with you in honor of a man who means the world to me. This
Isn’t she beautiful? Oh my goodness…the things you forget until you take a trip down memory lane via a photoalbum or three. This photographs was actually taken in the upstair’s bedroom at my grandmother’s house. Behind me (and cropped out of the picture) was our Great Aunt Judy. We were “helping” put up the new wallpaper, or should I say, I was helping. I dwelled on including this photo for the obvious reason – I look terrible! Yet…that ear to ear, full mouth smile on my model-like little sister…melted my heart. How could I not include it?
The photo has been cropped so you can’t see Heidi sitting in such a model pose for the camera as I turn with a full-side view of my less than slender shape (hence the reason it is cropped above our waists, lol). Do you see the scowl on my face? I believe I was thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me, she’s sitting here posing for a picture while I slop this wall paper ick on the wall!” Aunt Judy is standing on the ladder on its topmost ledge applying the wallpaper while looking out the window. From her view she could easily see our house, my parents. It was a fun day and I have many happy memories of wall papering with my our great aunts and aunts.
Another thought crossed my mind (Pat, grab your tissues) as I reflected on this photograph. Two of the three people in the photo are no longer with us and both left the same weekend. My great-aunt Judy passed away after a horrific and valient battle with cancer on April 2, 1994. Yes, the day before Heidi was kidnapped one of our dearest great-aunts passed away. Our family was saddened with the loss yet at peace knowing she wasn’t suffering anymore.
Looking to Easter we were all at a loss to celebrate our first Easter without her…we didn’t know that in less than twenty-four hours not only would Aunt Judy be gone but Heidi would be missing and there wouldn’t be an Easter dinner celebration in 1994. I am so blessed to have grown up in a family focused on God and family. Getting togther, helping each other out and being there when we were needed was instilled in us from birth…This dreadful weekend was a test of character, strength, endurance and perseverence.
Between our Irish dispositions, our family ties and unity and our faith…We will survive!
Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Encyclopedias, dictionaries, journals, diaries and more filled the shelves in my grandmother’s dining room. I loved that bookshelf! The shelf directlyl behined and level with my sister’s head in this photo always held some activity we could do – word games, coloring sheets and review sheets. My Aunt Nancy’s recyclable pile from her 4th grade classroom. We could play school or simply take one and relax. Behind me is the buffet holding Gram’s linens, party supplies, decks of cards, dice, candles and more. To the other side, a view to take your breath away. Hay fields with the creek at the bottom. Today the view would be one of the new County Route 1 zooming through this same vision…causing it to get squiggly before vanishing. The county may take the property but the memories will remain with me.
Our family gathered EVERY Sunday at Gram’s house and for all our party celebrations. Today’s photo is from one of Heidi’s birthday parties. She is the cutie-pa-tootie in the marroon. I’m that stylish chic in the blue and white – notice my wrists. Have you seen them before? Why yes you have, they are rubber bracelets. Ours were a simple circle. Our generation must have been pleased easier since ours didn’t have shapes to attract us. How much fun!
Life is a gift from God. He doesn’t have to create us yet he chooses too. My Gram loved life and lived it to the fullest. She hosted each and every party she could at her house, birthdays were no exception. Sitting around the table, we were reminded to be thankful for all the family gathered there with us. We don’t know what tomorrow holds so we need to enjoy the now.
As Heidi unwrapped her gifts she was surrounded both my family and friends. Everyone around the table was smiling or laughing, Heidi brought this out in anyone she met. Heidi turned eighteen years old the September prior to her kidnapping ~ celebrating this last birthday sitting at the same table as she had in the years prior.
The following year we had a choice to make, we could sit and mourn in the silence of the dining room or we could celebrate…to live for the living. As a family, we joined our beloved community. We laughed, smiled and celebrated her turning a year older.
We chose to celebrate in honor of Heidi!
I pray you choose to live life and celebrate each day with your family and friends.
No one knows what tomorrow holds…thankfully we know who holds it, God.
Cherish your loved ones, make memories and smile!
Heidi did…a joyous example for us all.
Green pastures, swimming and a lawn chair on the perch…welcome to the family homestead. Heidi’s caption for this photo said “Twins?!? Boy do you remember this all through our childhood?” Our (once again) matching outfits was her focus yet as I flipped through the album I noticed something more important…we were growing up.
Is that smile amazing or what? She was always smiling and me…I have that mischevious grin on my face, which is also common. I’m not sure of the holiday yet the dresses lead me to think possibly an easter but then there isn’t any snow in the background, lol. Regardless…I want you to look beyond our outfits and enjoy the beauty enveloping us.
This is my Grandma Mary’s back porch (or is it the front…hmmm – this would be a side bar conversation. I want to call it the back door because it was on the back of the house but it seems someone used to tell me it was the front door because it was the threshold used to enter and exit the house on a daily basis. I don’t remember so I’m sticking with “back door”.) The lawn chair to the right of us was always there yet I don’t have a lot of memories of anyone actually sitting in the chair. Gram said it was there in case someone stopped and needed a rest.
Directly behind us is the pool. Oh my goodness…we had so much fun in that pool. We learned to swim and dive, to float and most importantly how to be safe and have fun. The most vivid memory of the pool is the day the pool broke. A couple of my neighborhood friends joined Heidi and I for a swim. A favorite thing to do was race from one side to the other, kicking off from the side for more force and speed. Now if you look closely at the pool you will notice it isn’t an inground pool or of heavy duty cement walls which would be why my aunt always said (or was it yelled? LOL) “Girls, DON’T kick off the side of the pool or it will collapse!” Yeah right, she is too nervous…guess what?
You have probably predicted what happens next. Aunt Nancy goes inside and all the children in the pool line up stratgically along one side of the round pool. We wait until the water is perfectly calm and everyone is in position…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…GO!!! Down and back…we have a winner. I don’t remember who it was but we decided, “Let’s race again!” We swim to the opposite side of the pool for something different, then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go!! POP!! WHOOSH!!!!
SMASH!! As the force of twelve feet kicked of the side of the pool the side game out and collapsed. The water rushed under the deck wiping out the filter, pump and pool parafanalia with a small bust turning into an erupting dam. It start as a race of agility and speed but it turned into a race for our safety and life. Giggles and laughter turning to screams and shrills brought Aunt Nancy racing out and then one isolate scream “Lisa…help me!” It was Heidi…her tiny frame was being sucked towards the hole and she couldn’t keep from being sucked in. I did the only thing I knew…I went to her and grabbed her arms and upper body while my friends grabbed my feet. I didn’t think, I simply went. Heidi was in trouble and needed help…I had to save her. It is my job…I’m the big sister.
God allowed me to save Heidi on that warm summer day from being hurt or drowning. He knew she had more to accomplish in her life. She may have been a small framed little girl but she grew into a strong, confident force to be reckoned with. She had a passion and joy for life and hers was just starting. I couldn’t save her from kidnapping but I can use God’s gifting on my life to keep her memory alive and help others.
Instead of shrills of fear as the water attempts to drown us…we need to grab a hold of the One person who can save us from whatever drowning we are facing ~ Jesus Christ.
Noise makers, balloons popping, confetti flying and laughter echoing to the tippy-top of Gram’s cathedral ceilings and back down again. One of our many family traditions was for Gram and Aunt Nancy to collect all the kids for New Year’s Eve. We LOVED it! We were allowed to eat whatever we wanted and Gram always had extra goodies made and available for the party. Aunt Nancy bought noise makers, balloons, decorations and games to keep us occupied from the moment our parents dropped us off to the second we fell asleep around the house.
My Gram was an amazing women and probably one of the most difficult losses I experienced next to losing my sister. She was witty, down to earth and had a deeper faith than I had realized until I accepted Jesus as my Savior too. She used to tell me “Write this down Lisa so you don’t forget.” But of course I knew it all and would remember, what a foolish child. I should have listened. Sometimes her phrases, lines or jokes will come back and I try to scribble them on the nearest paper or share them with my daughter so both Gram’s memory and our family legends continue to the next generation.
One of the phrases I remember my Gram telling me after Heidi disappeared was “Live for the living…” to which I would argue, “I am”. As I look back though, I was going through the motions. In the book I’m writing I hope to share how my life changed after Heidi’s disappearance ~ how I have spent years on a rollercoaster of ups and downs and when I’m feeling the most selfish and depressed I can hear my Gram’s voice saying, “Live for the living…” So I lift the covers and put my feet on the floor, start the coffee pot and open my Bible.
As with each of you, I’ve experienced loss throughout my life. At one point I let the loss and despair take me over but no more. Each day I chose to “Live for the living…” and for Jesus. God has gifted us each with unique talents, memories and futures. We don’t know what they hold or how we will respond but God does. After Heidi’s kidnapping this was the same fact that made me take my focus off God – if He knew, why did He allow someone to carry out this terrible act? I still don’t know the answer to this yet when I look back, God NEVER left me or my family. I left him. My book will highlight the instances of God’s protection, guidance and love from the minute Heidi was taken, to today.
With Him, I have the strength to write, share and continue…He has blessed me with much to live for.
With the cover pulled back and a spring in our steps...it’s time to jump into the weekend. Heidi was so much fun and a goof. Running full speed off the diving board to get the most height she gives a “I’m #1” sign before descending to the bottom of the pool as my cousin and I are climbing out of the pool on the side. We are a competitive bunch so I’m sure we were racing to be the next one off the diving board or possibly to make sure we were out of Heidi’s way. Either way…we loved swimming at Uncle Jim’s house.
Heidi and I grew up surrounded by family. Within a couple miles there were two uncles, two aunts, grandparents, cousins and our beloved neighbors who were part of our extended family. Uncle Jim lived within a bike ride’s distance from the house and as long as there was an adult to watch us…the pool was open. We spent a lot of time at Uncle Jim’s house growing up – tracking a lot of chlorinated water across his bedroom carpet to use the restroom or change. (Ugh…no wonder they were telling us to dry off first, the things you don’t realize until you grow up.)
Heidi and I spent a lot of time with our cousins growing up. Missy, Shawnacy, Heidi and I were always together – traveling with one of our parents for a summer excursion, to church with Gram and Aunt Nancy or simply hanging out at Uncle Jim’s in the loft or playhouse. You know with four girls within a ten year span of each other – there was laughter and trouble.
One Christmas Eve we were trusted to sit by ourselves in the back of the church since there wasn’t room with Gram and Aunt Nancy. Since we didn’t really want to be there, once the service started and we knew we wouldn’t be spotted we snuck out and walked down to Mimi’s in the bitterly cold snow for a soda. We returned in plenty of time and had planned to meet at the car following the service so we skipped to the car laughing because we had gotten away with it, and on Christmas. Well…as we approached the car we noticed something billowing from the car window, slightly cracked. It was cigarette smoke. Our aunt had snuck out too…this made us laugh more until we realized she didn’t find it funny and we ALL returned back in church for the remainder of the service. It was fun but I haven’t snuck out of any services since then…the lesson was learned.
Heidi’s energy and love of jumping didn’t stop at Uncle Jim’s pool. As the “Tower of Power” playing Volleyball for Bishop Cunningham Jr./Sr. High School she used her love of jumping to inspire her friends to play their hearts out each and every game. Some teams started with a chant or high fives but this group of girls started with the Hokey Pokey. Thankfully I was able to attend almost all of Heidi’s games as assistant coach. I’m not sure how much I actually coached but it provided a second adult for the coach and it allowed me to travel with Heidi to all her games. A win, win situation.
As you start your weekend remember to put your best attitude in and shake it all about…that is what life is all about! I challenge you to “jump” for an opporutnity to spend time with your family, make memories. You never know when a photo will be the only thing you have left to trigger a memory. Thankfully I have both…memories and photos, thanks to my sister! Enjoy your family this weekend!
Energy and vitality of life intermixed with the wisdom and ease of seasoned citizens, uncommon to a modern day nursing home yet a typical day at the Spencer Home. As children we were blessed with ample opportunities to join our Gram at work. I looked forward to spending the day with Gram and the residents, having Heidi there only made the day better. We traveled from one resident’s room to another, up and down the stairs, snuggling on the couch with whoever was watching television, playing board games (which so many of our children today haven’t heard of) and even finally crashing in the afternoon for a nap on the nearest resident’s bed. While Gram maintained order and operated the nursing home, we made friends and played with each other and all the wonderful residents.
The Spencer Home was located about one mile from the D & W convenience store. The building remains today but serves as a private home instead. In 1877 Anna Spencer was born to Daniel and Ruth Jerrett Spencer, their one and only daughter. She wanted to become a registered nurse but never had time to attend nursing school. Her passion for helping others developed after nursing her brother Daniel from TB. In 1937 Anna Spencer welcomed others into her home for care since nursing homes weren’t available in the area. By the second year she had five residents, her brother Richard. She hadn’t intended to open a nursing home but quickly found herself applying for her state license for operation. She had three faithful assistance, one of which was my Gram, Mary Searles to whom her legacy passed to in 1968 after her death.
Heidi and I would race up and down the halls, in and out of rooms laughing and giggling the entire way. One of our favorite things to do was ascend up the back stairs which were steeper and sometimes even “spooky” when the creaking sound echoed up the stairwell while climbing. These were considered unsafe because they were the original stairs, very narrow and steep. We didn’t notice, our feet were smaller than the steps and we would attempt to “sneak” to the top until Gram’s voice would yell from below us “Girls, off the stairs!” How did she always know we were there, I’m sure we were quiet and we always stifled our laughter as started the adventure.
Heidi and I would visit the beauty parlor and one of the residents would use the hairdresser’s tools and make us beautiful. We walked around with pink curlers and hair nets while our hair “set” and had to act like ladies. I think this was their way of keeping us calm and quiet for half an hour but we didn’t realize it. We felt like princesses as we sat in the beauty chair having our hair done.
The best part of spending the day with Gram at the nursing home was going out to the barn. Within the barn were trunks, boxes and furniture of the past. Residents that had passed away or moved to a newer location. It was the “junk” the families didn’t want and the “treasures” Gram couldn’t throw away. Instead it was stored in the top portion of the barn for us to play with. We were allowed to use the furniture, wear the cloths and play for hours as were took ourselves back to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Heidi always looked the cutest since she was tiny enough to wear those smaller dresses and shoes ~ my gosh women were tiny during those times.
I looked for a photo for you, but couldn’t find them but I did find the one above. The sign was repurposed from the political party by my father before recycling was mandatory with fresh paint and life restored by my mother’s talented fingers. I don’t remember Heidi and I “helping” paint as we were probably in the barn or hanging with our friends, the residents.
Family, extended family and our elders were respected and appreciated in our family. The residents were a part of our extended family, and we were theirs. Some never had family come to visit, after registration the nearest a relative came was in the form of a monthly payment.
The residents adopted us as their grandchildren yet we were the ones blessed. Heidi and I enjoyed our time together as we spent a day with Gram and her work family. One of the most important lessons I learned, “Enjoy life…you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.” I didn’t recognize it as a lesson then but as I matured ~ their words, love and time have inspired me.
Thank you for joining me in this tribute to Heidi. I can hear her tapping in oversized shoes and lacy dresses around the antique furniture as the record played the waltz with one of the residents...teaching her step by step.
The steps were merely a pad, the siding a dingy green and the house was surrounded by apple orchards, pasture and green grass. The days were spent playing outside chasing each other, laughing and falling asleep on the swing set for the afternoon. We could walk a few yards on a road only driven on by the locals to reach my grandparents. Once there…the sky was the limit!
Our cutie outfits (as my daughter said) varied in colors, seasons and style yet they always appeared. Take a look at this photograph of Heidi and I, what do you notice? I’m giving a sly look while she smiles at the camera? The interior door is open? The new white screen door doesn’t match the siding?
As my sister and I stand to pose for the picture we are holding hands. My parents must not have made me or I would have been pouting in this photo. We’re both smiling and possibly swinging our arms as we played having a good time until…”Girls stay there. Don’t move!” as mom runs for the camera to catch this price photo of her girls enjoying each other’s company. And we did!
Now look behind us. Do you see our shadows? The way our shadows connect it looks as if it is one shadow versus two. It makes me smile to think God had started to create that sisterly bond of unity and oneness when we were only chitlens. Holding hands…never to be separated…dressed the same so everyone knew we are sisters.
Heidi and I are sisters…her memory lives on within my heart and mind. We might not be dressed the same or able to play in the sunshine or swing our arms as we dance around but there is one thing I have…HOPE! Hope to see Heidi again. What are you hoping for today?
Life is about memories. As it relates to my sister and today’s photo – one of my mother’s favorite things to do was dress us in similar outfits if not the same outfit. You will notice this pattern over the next couple weeks. As we got older, our independent styles started to show in spite of our identical outfits.
This and the remaining photographs you will see over the next couple weeks came from a photoalbum that was given to me by my sister for my wedding. These are her favorite photos of the two of us – I hope you enjoy seeing who she was and her favorite memories and photos of us. I will also be including some of her captions along the way.
The 1st page of this album had a note from Heidi to me,
here is a snip for you:
“We’ve been through a lot…hairstyles, problems, discussing our dream houses, and fighting. (don’t all sisters) It has all had its ups and downs…but I’m so glad you are my sister and I love you!...I also hope this present is the best one. I could have given you presents that were sexy, glamourous, or expensive but this is OUR life together and I don’t want you to forget it when you being your new life. Best Wishes! I love you!! Heidi”
We had a lot of fun as children and spent many weekends and summers traveling. In today’s photograph we were on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Deleware. We stayed with one of my father’s friends, parent’s camp. I remember travleing to the North Pole, Enchanted Forest, The Land of Make Believe (or was it called Fairytale Land?), many beaches, camping and my favorite summer adventures were spent in our back lawn which was on the back end of my parents 7+ acres. There was a bonfire pit, a cooking pit, a wooden floor with tables and chairs, kitchen cabintry with a creek running along side it. It was wonderful. It didn’t cost a lot of money, time or gas to get there and we were able to sleep in our own beds each night. Sometimes we would sleep in the enclosed screen porch and in later years, the trailer. A friend of my father bought a new trailer and gave dad the old one for the back yard. It was great!
I teared up as I looked through this album when I unwrapped it. I laughed, cried and smiled from ear to ear. It was the best gift I was given…who would have known only eight months later how priceless and precious it would be. A gift of who Heidi was to me and who I was to her…never to be forgotten.
At five years old I looked forward to a day with my grandparents and aunt. Generally I wasn't watching out the window for my parent's car to return or the phone to ring yet on one September day...I did. As I played upstairs, ran (made up) errands for my aunt or did odd jobs for my Gram the anticipation built. I was going to be a sister. Mom and Dad were at the hospital..."When will Dad call? Is it a boy or girl? What will they name it? Is it, still an it? When? Why? How?" I'm sure it was the neverending questions that kept the odd jobs and errands coming - as an adult now, I'm sure they were thinking, "Isn't she tired yet?" :)
I was upstairs when the phone rang doing who knows what but I remember my Aunt Nancy yelling up the stairs and barrelling down them as the phone was ringing. I practically fell down the stairs as I opened the door at the bottom I heard my aunt say while laughing, "I think she heard it." She turned and said "You have a sister!" Yipee!
I shouted it and ran to tell Gram (who was already on the other end of the phone, I'm sure) but she acted surprised and danced in celebration with me.
There were days I asked mom to take her back but I know that is normal ~ she required a lot of attention I was used to receiving. Did you know they go to the bathroom in a diaper? I guess she was suppose to come out walking, talking, potty trained and ready to play. Bummer...those days came and I'll be sharing some of those memories with you and you can watch Heidi grow up before your eyes.
I asked my parents permission before starting this series or using any of the photos. Today's photograph comes from an album I put together for my parents as my high school graduation gift to them, as a thank you for all they had done. The photographs for the remainder of the series come from an album Heidi made for me when I married my husband. I will share some of her words along with a photo diary of our childhood together.
She might be a New York statistic today but from 1975 to 4/3/94...she was a living, breathing and precious part of our family.
As promised...for the next two weeks in honor of my sister, Heidi Allen I will be blogging about Heidi! April 3rd will mark the 17th anniversary since Heidi's disappearance. On Monday April 4th I will share an even more important revelation I've had in the past week about my sister's disappearance but you'll have to wait for it.
Upon returning home from the seder dinner at church last night the moon was shining brightly and we had good intentions of staying up until 1 a.m. to see it at its peek -by 10:30 p.m. I was asleep. Thankfully when I awoke this morning and let the dogs out the moon was still glowing brightly and I was able to pause and enjoy its beauty. It was a beautiful shade as the sunrise in the background was breathtaking ~ giving the moon an orangish glow. I wished we still lived in my grandmother's cottage - the view from the large picture window always created warmth and hope down to my bones.
In celebration of the first day of Spring...the sun us shining so brightly and permeates the entire house. I've opened all the blinds to allow it in. If it was a bit warmer I would even open the doors.
With today being the first day of spring and two weeks from the 17th anniversary I've decided to spend the next two weeks remembering Heidi. My hope and prayer is to share WHO Heidi was before her life was taken from her at such a young age. I want you to KNOW her personality and love for life. I will share WHERE we grew up and the simple luxuries life provided. HEIDI was a strong, independent and vibrant young woman. IS there time in your day to learn more about the face on the missing person's flyer.
Be sure to check the blog daily - I will do my best to post each morning so you have the entire day to read, remember, learn and respond. Use my posts to trigger conversation and memories - in honor and memory of Heidi M. Allen.
Our family, well my parents have a new family member. This week they welcomed "Pippy" into the house. She is precious...a little rat terrier. She is a smart little thing. She is a pip when my daughter is around and settles right down after she leaves. The perfect dog for my parents, especially my mom.
The drive to school this morning was an especially nice one ~ windows down and the sound of birds chirping filled the outside around me. A little further down the road the creek rushed with urgency towards its outlet with a slight rippling of "I'm ready for Spring" as the wind and current carried it away. Within a minute a neighbor is out walking their dog and another is walking. I even saw someone raking their lawn...and all this before 7:20 a.m. To think all I did was get ready for work.
Everyone has their spring rituals to do, clean or participate in. A new hobby to start or an old one renewed. I'm thankful this year for the new life blessing my parents. She is a bundle of joy and inspiration bringing some spring to my parents step.
Do you have a spring tradition? I like to clean the house from top to bottom and this year I hope to paint a room too after its been cleaned.
A few more days left in our "Springing Ahead" series. Today I want to use the elephant plant as our photo prompt and inspiration. The weather warmed up to a beautiful 58 degrees F today - windows opened and laughter echoed through the halls today at school. Spring is in the air...
Did you notice the elephant plant straining to reach the sunlight? Do you see how each stem is striving upward, towards the sun they need to grow and survive? I've seen this plant many times entering and exiting my parent's kitchen yet the other day it was yelling "Blog about me...I'm springing ahead!" I paused, reflected and snapped the photo.
As I work on revising and writing my book I pray to continue my writing with God's guidance, strength and love as I strive to help others. I pray to have the same determination and trust in the Son as I grow into the writer and publisher author God has planned for me in my life.
Are you striving and straining for something better? Be like the elephant plant ~ aim High!
I pray you've taken some time to reflect on the "rocks" in your life that you've moved out of your way to blossom and flourish as you were intended for. Take a moment to look at today's photograph. As you look at these two daffodil patches...can you connect it to yesterday's post?
I see two seperate daffodil patches growing from similar soil, with similar sunlight and same in species yet they are different. Some might say the soil is the same yet to physically touch the soil, the one to the right was a bit dryer than the one on the left. The one on the right has some bigger rocks surrounding it yet has bigger blossoms forming. The one on the left may have smaller rocks and less blossoms yet there are more actual daffodils growing in the group.
We are the daffodils - we're all surrounded by the rocks of life with similar feelings, reactions, hopes, prayers and pain while the color and size of the rocks might be different. We all have someone we can talk to and a support network of family or friends, and if you are truly blessed a support network of both family AND friends. I have a theory about why the left bunch has more flowers than the other - a fact you can't see in this photograph is the patch on the left receives more sunlight. It isn't a lot more yet it is more. The bird feeder slightly shades the one on the right when the sun is warming the soil and providing the necessary nourishments for growth.
We have a choice - we can receive the Son completely or we can hide in the shade and move those larger rocks out of the way in our own strength. We may appear to be growing and blossoming with more oomph than the next person yet on the inside...we just can't keep up. Eventually without enough Sonshine, fellowship and community - we will suffer the consequence.
In the fast approaching 17 years since Heidi's disappearance I have learned I need to absorb all the Son and sunshine I possibly can, surrounded by fellow believers and my family. With this...I will persevere and blossom. I might not do it as quickly as the next person but that is okay - God made me to be the best Lisa Allen Buske I can be.
I hope you can do the same thing...recognize your gifts, your trials and the hope you can have through prayer and a relationship with Jesus. :)
Springing ahead is not always easy. It may seem an easy enough task yet life will sometimes block your path with rocks. We all have rocks in our life that are hindering our ability to spring. The ten years following my sister's kidnapping loss and grief were a couple of my rocks. Anger, tension and fear were another few. At times these rocks were boulders preventing me to spring and sometimes even put my feet on the floor to enjoy another day. It is our view and outlook on those rocks that will not determine IF we can spring but instead...how HIGH we WILL spring!
While out for a walk with my dad and daughter today we were enjoying the news buds bursting through the brown of tree branches - the red and yellow buds striving to the surface from the soil. We ran our fingers in the dirt to clear the leaves blown from the barren branches this winter to make it easier for the flowers to acheive their goal...sunshine. Spring is this coming Sunday with the flowers, trees and even us yearning and hungry for more days of sunshine, warmth and hope to make it easier to spring forward with our daily lives.
While enjoying the sunshine, the walk and conversation with my Dad I said "I wanted to take a picture of a flower fighting its way through the soil for my blog." Both my father and daughter smiled and said, nearly in unison, "Why of course, the blog." We all enjoyed a smile and laugh in love. Less than ten seconds later dad said "The perfect bud is waiting for you under the kitchen window." And he was right...it was even better than I could have imagined. A yellow daffodil was standing at attention absorbing all the sun was providing. The soil was moist and rich with nutrients of mulched leaves, bird droppings and new birth from its restful winter.
Look at the picture again. This time imagine you are the daffodil bursting through the soil with determination, power, strength, hunger, anticipation and hope for all the Son has for you this day. Look around the budding flower. Do you see them? There are rocks...small and large! In spite of the rocks, this flower has persevered and made it to the surface to be enveloped in the warmth of the sun. Just like this daffodil - you can break the surface, break the chains that bind you with a strength, power and hope through the love of Jesus. With Jesus as your friend, holding you in His arms, enveloping you with all these qualities - you will persevere. You will move the rocks that had been weighing you down to come out on the other side in victory!
Celebrate this new day! We all have rocks in our lives and sometimes even a boulder or two yet I choose to keep pushing through the dirt of life and move those rocks and boulders to the side so I can absorb all Jesus has for me as I feel His love keeping me warm and fulfilling all my spiritual needs.
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
With the Sonshine warming my being as it streamed through the panes at school this afternoon I took a moment to thank God for all the blessings in my life. Just like Emil Brunner said, hope is "The positive mode of awaiting the future."
I used to fear the future yet today I embrace it and choose to focus on the postive while I await what God has for me and "wait" for closure as it pertains to Heidi's wherabouts. This week's focus is "springing" and "moving" forward so as I await God's plan on my life and wait for Heidi to be found, I choose to enjoy life with some Tiggerlishes pep in my step each day. This is not always an easy task yet journaling is one way that encourages me and reminds me of all the positive in my life...the hope.
As part of my devotional time I journal praises to God for who He is and thank Him for what He has and is doing in my life. If you don't journal daily I would like to encourage you to journal all the positive and joyful things that happen in your life each day. You would be surprised at the total times God brought you a smile: a child's hug, your child saying "I love you" or "You are beautiful", waking up with energy and breath, a hug from your sibling or simply the sunshine arousing you before the alarm goes off. Take time to reflect and recgonize all the hope and joy you have each day.
Yesterday's Writing Accomplishment: read old documentation about my sister's case and those first hours and days until after Midnight, blogged
Today's Writing Goal: helped with the Oswego Reading Council's annual writing contest judging, went to my Memoir Writing class (which by the way is so educational and fun. I was a tad late due to the judging but no one seemed to bothered. I look forward to this time of writing and community with other writers)
Tomorrow's Writing Goal: Did I hear you say "Finish Chapter 8"? LOL
First an FYI - we went to the ball game and I did some writing between the two games while the other teams played. Yeah...time with family, friends and writing - all at the same time and place! God is good!
As promised I am starting a new series for this week. Today is "Daylight Savings Time", for most this is a sign of Spring coming. I think of this too yet since my sister's disappearance ~ the act of setting the clocks ahead, springing forward or celebrating the onset of Spring has taken on a new meaning.
Heidi was kidnapped on April 3, 1994 ~ which was Easter Sunday AND daylight savings time. In our family and extended family - we all mourn or remember the anniversary differently with different dates or events affecting us more than others. Some years all three have occurred within days of each other while years like 2011 cause them to be seperated and often, extend the pain in remembering 17 years ago.
Out of respect to my family I will not name who experiences the following yet want to share a little bit of how the three markers of remembrance effect us each differently:
April 3rd: This is the calendar date of Heidi's disappearance. This is the date stamped on missing person's flyers across the country and beyond. This represents the date included in all law enforcement reports and media coverage. A date with power as some of my family don't leave their house or associate with the rest of the world on this date in memory of Heidi. A friend of the family shares this date as her birthday, since Heidi's disappearance first things of Heidi's kidnapping when she thinks of her birthday. I struggle with this also and am always thankful when it doesn't fall on a school day so I'm not writing the date continuously throughout the day.
The setting of the clocks: A celebratory act welcoming Spring back to Upstate New York that triggers tears and grief. I have family members who still today, seventeen years later, that can't spring their clocks ahead due to the pain. They have someone else do it for them as if the time hasn't changed. This aspect doesn't bother me as much as the other two yet when I hear "Don't forget to spring ahead tonight" it causes me to stop and reflect - I miss my sister.
Easter Sunday: A day of celebration as our Lord and Savior rose from the grave to fulfill the Scriptures yet a holiday stirring up the raw emotions of the Easter ham never shared with family so many years in the past. After accepting Christ as my Savior in 2004 I experienced the closest thing to a joyful Easter I had since my sister had disappeared. I personally find the holiday the hardest - holidays have always been a big deal in our family. Everyone gathered at my grandmothers (aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins, and friends if they happen to be visiting) for a day of laughter, "discussion" and fellowship. There were egg hunts, Easter bonnet competitions, coloring & activity sheets (from all the teachers in the family), sports on the television and cards. Thankfully the Lord blessed me with a large set of in-laws who gather on holidays as this makes it so much easier, yet Easter Sunday is still difficult.
Our series for this week is "Springing ahead" to remember Heidi in this first of three markers - reminding us it has been 17 years since she went to work, never to be seen again.
This simple act of daylight savings time is natural yet can be upsetting because it is the visual and tactile reminder of Heidi's kidnapping seventeen years ago. Yet on that fateful morning, it was a saving grace and blessing from God. He used the changing of clocks to help witnesses remember exactly where they were or what they were doing at a certain time because they had to pause and set their clocks ahead.
Life is about moving forward. I spent the first decade following Heidi's kidnapping living in a fog - lost. While the clock and dates moved forward I was stuck perpetually on April 3, 1994. Thankfully with the help of a student I learned there was hope, healing, love and strength to start moving forward. I found a "spring" in my step as I started to truly live and enjoy life.
While daylight savings time is the first of three things triggering remembrance - it is also one full of hope. We don't need to live, struggle and stress in the present because there is hope in the future. We only need to accept it and spring forward into an Eternal glory.
This week I hope to share ways to spring ahead in joy and celebration as we all remember Heidi together.
Does the changing of the clocks bring back a particular memory of that day to you?
Is there one you want to share?
Let's keep Heidi's memory alive - her case in the forefront as we transition towards the 17th anniversary of her kidnapping.
Thanks in adavance for sharing your memories...you can always email me too at firstname.lastname@example.org if you prefer. Noah trusted God and moved forward...le
1 Peter 3:20b - 21
"In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..."
Yesterday's Writing Accomplishment: family fun and revision while at a basketball tournament
Today's Writing Goal: blog, type up notes and revisions hand written during yesterday's game
Tomorrow's Writing Goal: join the judges of the Oswego Reading Council's annual writing contest for the 1st round of judging and then to my Memoir Writing Class! Yeah!
Happy Saturday to everyone! As I awoke this morning I felt refreshed and ready to conquer the world and accomplish great things with my writing. As is custom on the weekend ~ homemade waffles for breakfast. A friend stopped and we enjoyed coffee, waffles and some healthy fellowship. We have plans for supper and are hoping to go to a basketball game this afternoon after I write for a few hours....hmm....here is the conflict or revelation if you will.
I slept until 8 a.m.! This is wonderful yet I thought it was 6 ish in the morning and the potential for at least three hours of writing and attending the basketball game and going to dinner are not a reality. Now it comes time for decision making - to write for two hours and still enjoy the game with my family or stay snuggled into my writing cave until it is time to leave for supper? I could bring some of my writing to the game with me ~ it wouldn't be the first time. LOL I'll let you know.
With this week winding down and a new week starting tomorrow I'm brainstorming my next series. The anniversary of my sister's kidnapping is three weeks from tomorrow so I'm thinking about doing a series directly related to my sister starting on the first day of Spring. For this week though, the jury is still out. Be sure to read tomorrow's blog.
Yesterday's Writing Accomplishment: blogged and organized notes from interview and sifted through bins of information to help me "remember" and direct my writing for my book
Today's Writing Goal: blog, revise, rest, and revise some more
Tomorrow's Writing Goal: FINISH chapter 8 for your sake and mine. Your prayers are welcome - thanks!
Have a great Saturday!
I'm thankful for many things in life and I try to remind myself of these things often. In the past couple months I added a new journaling entry to my prayer time - Praising God for Who He is and Thanking Him for what He has done. This helps to keep my attitude positive and focused in the right direction.
Things I'm thankful for tonight:
A loving and forgiving God
My family and friends
You - those following my blog who believe in me and support, encourage and inspire me through your emails, postings, notes and prayers. (There were nearly 300 hits on my site yesterday and 25 people shared it to their Facebook page! Oh my gosh...thank you so much! Keep sharing with your friends - I was blessed and encouraged!
It is Friday
For time to do some writing
Is there a time of day you find it easier to write or when your creativity is at its prime? If so, when do you think you do your best writing and why do you think you work better during that time frame?
Personally: I like to write at night and seem to get some of my best ideas late at night. The house is quiet with minimal distractions allowing me an opporunity to write, think, pray, cry and reflect so my writing will bring a smile to Jesus' face.
Yesterday's Writing Accomplishment: Interviewed my parents, blogged, HW
Today's Writing Goal: research, blog, and refuel my spirit
Tomorrow's Writing Goal: Revise, revise, revise! I would like to have the next chapter sent via email by Sunday.
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323