Stop In The Name Of Love…….

……. before it breaks my heart.

Love is a funny thing.  It’s something we all want and need.  But it is also something we tend to run away from.

We’ve all seen others do it or have done it ourselves.  Just when the love is being poured out on you, you want to run away from it.  We start laying brick upon brick faster than The Flash himself!  Then we stop.  We hesitate, with the next brick still in hand.  Isn’t this the love I’ve been waiting for and longing for?

Drop that brick!  Stop resisting love.  I’m not talking about desires and one night stands or even about the guy or girl that may not stick around.  I’m talking about true love.  Love that accepts us the way we are – baggage and all.  Love that we pour out on someone – with their baggage and all.  Sacrificial love.

Sacrificial love.  It comes it many shapes and sizes.  Currently mine is for the two little girls that I care for.  The daughters of my youngest child.  Is caring for them inconvenient – yes – not all the time.  Is it hard physically – sometimes.  Am I tired – yes.    Could I be doing something else for myself and maybe even making money doing it – yes.

But that love.  That look from their eyes into yours.  It goes very deep into my heart.  It is a love I have longed for and a love I have longed to give.  That love they dish out on you even though you are way older.  It’s a love that they feel secure in when mom and dad drop them off.  They feel safe, they feel at home.

I’ve had thoughts lately of when the kids graduate from the university and find jobs, who knows where, and they will move and begin a new chapter.  Where do I and my husband fit in?  I’ve even thought of hardening my heart, laying brick after brick to my wall that is ever so tempting to build,,,,,, why?  So I won’t get hurt when they say goodbye.  So my heart does’t break in a million pieces when they don’t need me anymore.

Then, like the slowly rising of the sunlight on my window, I realize I can’t live without the love they give me and the love I have for them.  So, we will do our best to follow them and care for them until…. until …. until they have to care for us – Hahahaha.

I’m saying this because the love I have for the grand girls, and for the grand boys we had to leave back east, is stronger and ever growing.  I never want to build the wall of protection over my heart because, no matter how convincing we are in our heads, that heart wants the love.  And with great love can come great hurt, BUT when we surrender to love it comes around to great love again.  Love doesn’t go away.  Love works to heal, to stand, to hold  and to continue.  Love never fails.  Love is truth.

And, Dear Readers, love originated in God.  His heart is so big and so loving and so merciful.  He has taught me to lay down the bricks and let His love come to me.  And that is how, and only how I can give true love to my self, my husband and my kids and their kids and to friends and strangers.   And most of all the only way I can love my God.

Let Love in today and everyday.


cate b

Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes

new shoes
new shoes

Three years ago a lovely little baby joined our family. Our first grand daughter and fourth grand child.  From the start you could see a confidence in this little one that was astounding.  Her mom was attending a University at the time of her birth and her dad was making a career change to also go to school.

They needed me.  I wasn’t working at the time so I decided I could care for this little one.  I was challenged.  She wasn’t sure she really liked me.  She hated having her diaper changed.  After a few months we began to get along better.  I really think she associated me with the fact that when her parents left her with me, that meant they were leaving.  Her intelligence frightened me a little.  But those big blue eyes (eyes of which I never experienced from my own brown/hazel eyed kids) fascinated me and kept winning me over, no matter how mad she was at me.  She made me laugh.

We just celebrated her third birthday and she also has a little sister now who is six months old.  As I have watched her grow into an amazing little girl – it causes me to reflect on my childhood.  On my personality.  I see similarities between her and I.  I see a stubbornness that is familiar to me.  I see an attitude that convicts my heart to soften my attitude towards others without giving up the strong person I have become.

For her birthday, I posted a picture on Facebook, along with a little conversation we had recently:

Me: Hey Lucy, let’s get dressed and I’ll take you out to ride your bike.
Lu: No.
Me: Come on, don’t you want to ride your bike? Get your helmet.
Lu: No ride bike. Can I ride a horse (with big smile)?
Me: Horse? Well, how about a bike ride?
Lu: No bike – I want to ride a horse.
Me: sigh

We share the same love of horses – but as a child I only experienced riding my bike – often (once I learned to ride it)  – she has ridden a horse at least twice now in her young life.  And she fell in love.

A good friend said of this little one: “It’s easy to imagine you as a child Cate!”  I liked that my friend said that.  But the truth is, I wasn’t that way as a child.  I had different parents and different home life.  I didn’t have some of the advantages that this little one has.  Simply because it was a very different upbringing. 

I had the imagination and an imaginary horse.  I loved that horse.  But I greatly lacked in the confidence this little shows at such a young age.  As many arguments that we have (and yes, you can argue with a two year old) and the many time – outs she receives, I cannot help but love her so much that it makes me cry – good tears.  I take it very seriously the task I have been handed to help care for and raise this little one.

I had no idea that when I accepted the challenge of caring for this lovely that I would be smitten.  That, like the Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small, mine grew that day.  It grew more and more at each argument – “Calm down, Mammy, just calm down” – and other similar occasions.

This little one taught me about love and encouragement and hope.  Not only for her, but for myself and others.  I can see that she travels to the beat of a different drum, so to speak.  And that will be a challenge for her as she matures and goes off to school and other places where some may not understand her beat.  I know this because I go through this.  I did as a little child, and I was gently pushed into the corral and told to just obey and do as you’re told.  I made it through childhood :D.

Parents, we have to know our children.  It’s a day to day process as they grow into a child.  We have to take the time to know their personality.  You can have four children ad each one will be diversely different.  We cannot grow them the same way.  It’s work.

And grand parents, we can bring hope and love and encouragement to them like no other can.  They aren’t ours to raise completely. but our wisdom and cookies can go a long way.

I thank God for my five grand children.  Some I am closer to than others, but the love I have for them each is huge.  I pray often for ways I can show them.  Ways that I can help them.

I cannot walk in their shoes, but I can encourage them to find their own beat and walk in it!

going places
going places

Enjoy – one of my favorite singers –

cate b


Prisoner of Hope – The Colors of Hope

part 12 ……. cropped-dscn0438.jpg

I have a friend who loves to tell stories of hope.   They’re the kind of stories where you could sit back and close your eyes and see yourself in your daddy’s lap, holding onto every word, feeling safe and secure.  No matter how many times I hear his stories I get more out of them.  I hear things I didn’t hear the last time I listened.  I cry and I laugh.

One of his stories talks about perspective.  At least, that’s what I get out of it.  I think perspective is very much intertwined in life.  I grew up in a home where the perspective was very negative.  Because of that, I grew up thinking I was basically something other than I am today.  In this hope story my friend talks about – well,  I don’t want to spoil it for you so you need to go to: and listen to Best View in Town.   

When something throws a wrench in your life and suddenly you’re facing a crisis or a dilemma that you just don’t understand, at that very moment you have a choice.  Well, that’s not very fair of me, actually.  When you lose someone a lot goes through your head or you are very numb, or both.  But once you get through the news of what happened and you get through the plans of burial and memorial or what have you, it is then that you make a choice.  At least it was for me.

How will I go through life now, you wonder.  We all have different personalities and different thought processes.  Some, when they loose a loved one, get rid of all their stuff and reminders.  Some keep everything as it was. And I’m sure there are countless other ways to deal with the hole in your life.  I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way.  For me, I knew I had to move forward as best as I could.  I knew my daughter would have expected that.  Her personality was one to never want any of us to not do what we were suppose to do because I something she did or something going on in her life.  So that made it a little easier to pick ourselves up and move forward.

About perspective – I was thinking about my life, now that’s it’s been eight years since we lost Vanessa.  I like puzzles and I like mysteries.  But I like them to be completed and solved.  I was thinking about how my life was like a jigsaw puzzle – I pictured all these pieces laid out on a table – some were put together and some waiting.  But what I saw so far were black pieces.  No color.  I love colors – so to picture this was a bit un-nerving to me.  I realized these black pieces were how I felt about the loss we have as a family.  Life feels black sometimes.  But then I saw that I only saw part of the puzzle.  That God saw the whole puzzle – he has the “box” so to speak, with the completed picture of my life on it.  He sees the end result.  He has the “best view in town”.  That is when I realized that hope has color.  Hope has a view that is good and sees more than what is right in front of it.  It’s not a which on a star – it’s a deep routed view of what our life truly is and can become.  I want to always choose life and always choose hope.  It is a daily choice for me.  But it is colorful and I believe it is right.

hope in Pink

cate b

I want to thank you for reading the last 12 “chapters” of my journey.  I will continue to blog about ………. life.  But the Prisoner of Hope series will be expanding and publishing as a book.  I do invite you to continue reading my posts and join me in the book that is in process.

God bless you all in your journey of hope.

Prisoner of Hope – The Beauty

part 11 …….

The thing about hope is, it is always there.  Just within reach whether we want it or not.  Everyone hopes.  We hope for good weather and we hope for a great day, we hope for so many things.  But, to me, real true hope is not wishing.  It goes so much deeper than a wish.  Hope is solid.  Hope is strong.  Hope is tangible. Hope is spiritual.  Hope is just plain real.

I use the title Prisoner of Hope.  It is taken from scripture – God says, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”  Zechariah 9:12  I am not a bible scholar, at all.  I just know that this passage speaks deeply to my heart.  I know that I feel comforted when I read it.  There are many “prisons” in life, in our hearts.  And when God can tell me that I am a prisoner of hope – well, what a glorious prison!  I see a cell with no walls.  I see freedom.  I personally believe that this hope and freedom only comes from him.

It’s because of that hope that I know we will see our daughter, sister, friend again in eternity.  Does it ease the pain of loss?  Yes, but it still hurts.  But I have hope.

A dear friend, who I will call “J” in this post, recently wrote to me. She was like a sister to our daughter.  Therefore, another daughter to us.  Needless to say, the loss of Vanessa was difficult for J.  But I read the most beautiful words in her letter to me.  They speak of another person’s journey of grief and loss and pain.  But I saw beauty in these words:

“Grief over Vanessa has been put on a distant shelf and I have not gone there.  I even avoid pictures, not conscientiously, but I do.  Yet I dream about her a lot.  It breaks into my mind and feelings whether I choose it or not.  In the few days since I received your package I have thought and remembered a lot and have been  surprised at the amount of emotions that have come out. I realized I have been robbing myself of the beauty of grief.  It sounds weird, but grief in this last week has not been terrible, but beautiful.  There is hope in it and sweet memories.  Yes, I miss Vanessa and tears flow as soon as I think of her, but it is sweet right now.”

J put it so sweetly and clearly.  The pain and the beauty – when you have hope.

butterfly heart

Cate B

to be continued …….




Prisoner of Hope – Anniversary

part 10 …….

Sometimes I think I live in a sheltered world.  What I mean is that words that imply more than one thing seem to only imply a positive meaning in my head.  For example, the word anniversary is defined as:

anniversary |ˌanəˈvərsərē|

noun ( pl. -ries)

the date on which an event took place in a previous year

I always think of nice thoughts tied to the word anniversary.  But when it’s the death of a loved one I don’t like to use that word.

January 10th marked the eight year “anniversary” of our daughters death.  Eight years have flown by in some ways.  I actually thought it would get better as time went on.  That the wound would somehow lessen.  Wrong.  But I will say the wound becomes sweeter.

Death is a part of life.  There is a sweetness especially when you realize that this life is a part of eternity.  This is the first part.

butterflyAnd that is where my hope lies, anchored in the One who takes me through life’s ups and downs, the easy and the hard.  And because of that Hope I will her when I get there.

Cate B.

Prisoner of Hope – Know You Are Loved

part 9 …….

I’ve had a heavy heart all week.  Our daughter’s birthday was last Saturday, the 27th of October. She would have been 36 years old.

But that is not the entire reason for my heavy heart.  We still wish her a happy birthday and she is in our thoughts all day long.  But this year Hurricane Sandy came with a vengeance upon the north east coast of America.  Our oldest son and wife and kids (He wrote the last blog I posted) live in the area that was predicted to receive a direct hit from this horrific storm.

We prayed like crazy for protection and for winds to shift.  They packed bags and left the area to go to a friends.  They were safe and received minimal damage.  As a matter of fact I found out that the wind did shift slightly that night and hit further north as we all saw on our TV sets.  That is where my heavy heat comes in.

I cry when I see devastating events fall on my fellow human beings.  I don’t wish this on my greatest enemies and am greatly saddened over some political posts I’ve seen where people wish it would hit Washington, etc.  I say that those posting such thoughts do not know what they are saying.  No one deserves such heartache and loss.  And I believe they didn’t realize what they were wishing.  I also feel totally helpless.  I’m far from the needs that have risen back there and I just have to pray.  So many are heart broken – of course.  Some may not even be able to rebuild on the property they loved and felt safe and at home just a little over a week ago.  I’m warm and dry and have food and clothing.  So many don’t right now.

Our daughter lost her life in a natural disaster.  It was of such a smaller magnitude than 9-11, Katrina, Joplin, MO and now Hurricane Sandy – but not to us or those who were involved.  The homes that were lost in La Conchita, California in January of 2005 have not even been rebuilt and probably never will.  People have relocated and are trying to go on with their lives.  Seems only a few even remember that day.  Most people we meet didn’t know it happened.  That’s Ok with me.  What isn’t Ok is that I should ever take loss of other lives and properties too lightly.  I’m not saying you all need to think like me – but think.  Think of others and the things they have had to endure.  Most people have experienced loss to some degree or other and it’s hard for everyone of them.  Many have learned to keep it private so we never know what they’ve had to endure.  I understand that to some degree.  It’s MY grief, it’s MY loss and I don’t always want to share it with others.  But I’ve found sharing it has mostly brought out their losses and grief and it’s totally beneficial to us both.  THAT is a good thing.

My perspective changes when these bad things hit the news. Heck, my perspective changed when we lost our daughter!  Suddenly some things are not so important any more.  I do believe it is OK to desire “things” – big houses, nice cars, etc.  But when great loss becomes a reality I tend to look at my life and my view changes.  I reflect on what I think is most important and what are the things I really want and need.

This is where my Hope and Faith play a big part.  The God I love and serve, Jesus Christ, offers me a security that no home or job or other human can bring.  It goes deep.  God the father gave his son, Jesus to us.  To make a way for us to be with him.  It cost him great pain to watch the people that he loved beat and kill his only son.  It gave him great joy on the resurrection to make a way for us.  He understands loss.  He never promises us a life of no pain or loss.  But he does promise us hope and love and a relationship that never goes away.  He is truth and I am grateful.

My prayers are for those who lost this last week.  For those who are in the midst of such a devastation and may be feeling helpless.  For the first responders and neighbors of so many.  Know that God is aware and it is he who can carry us through.  Know you are loved.

cate b.


Prisoner of Hope – The Five Steps

part 8 …….

The following is written by my son, Jonathan.  He is our oldest and just 20 months older than his sister.


The Five Steps



There is a possibility

A slight improbability

That she is alive and safe

From this catastrophe


God, I feel betrayed

This just isn’t fair

That her life was delayed

Do you even care?


I’m the one unhealthy

I’m the one that is sick

My life taken would make sense

But death has no respect


I’m awake and breathing

Tomorrow will be the same

Right now there is nothing worth doing

Tomorrow will prove to be the same…..


Today is the day brand new

I have accepted and will prove

I do not know better than God

Living with her loss is what I must do

cate b

be continued …….

Prisoner of Hope – The ‘What Ifs’

part 7 …….

‘What If?’  That is one of the age-old questions isn’t it?  It can be comical when we go off into our imaginative worlds and day-dream of things if they were different:

What if there was an actual money tree?
What if bee’s produced butter?
What if yahoo was called yagoo?
What if 16 year olds could buy and drink alcohol?
What if we lost WWII?
What if the walls could talk?
What if the U.S. took over Canada and Mexico?
What if dogs had gills?
What if there were no what if questions?

As you can see from the list I found that most of those are not even to be considered or answered.  For example, what if bees produced butter?  Well then they would also produce milk and graze in fields probably and then maybe the cows would be our honey producers and our pollinators.  See what I mean?  No sense even going there except in a total imaginative way because it ain’t gonna happen.  What is, is.  Bees do not nor will they ever produce butter.

Now I suppose that if we lost in World War II our present day world, as we know it, would be vastly different.  Also, the one about the sixteen year olds legally buying and drinking alcohol, that goes without saying.  And I, for one, have a very imaginative mind.  But after all the thoughts have run through my head it comes down to one fact:  It isn’t that way – it is what it is.

I realize that doesn’t sound very hopeful does it?  I’m a believer of change.  I’ve known many people who heard the “word” from the doctor of their condition not being very hopeful, but when putting their energy and hope in prayer and other life changes and surrounding themselves with others who believe and stand with them – it can change from hopelessness to hope!  That is a wonderful thing.

I have that faith.  I have that hope.  When my daughter was taken from me in January of 2005 I just couldn’t bring myself to “entertain” those ‘what ifs’.  They came at me with a vengeance.  What if you told her to fly straight to Seattle and bypass going back to Southern California?  What if you had her stay longer visiting with you?  What if you called her and told her to get out of the house that day?  I just couldn’t go there.  She was gone and me entertaining those ‘what ifs’ did absolutely nothing to change what happened.  That is sad to me but a reality.  I know that if I focus on what could have been I get stuck in time.  It doesn’t speak life to me and we had enough of death.  We had to look to life at this point.

We all will go through a loss differently, our grief will be different from each others.  We just shouldn’t go into denial, we need to go  with the punches, so to speak.  Go with the wave of grief that I mentioned in a previous post.  I read the following on another WordPress blog –

“What ugly truths?  The ones that stalk every feeling person when a loved one passes the veil.  Guilt, selfishness, regret, anger, and even sorrow.  All necessary to the process of healing, but all the uglier side of loss.  After all, it is the living who feel the loss most.  Those passed on remember only the love we feel for them.”

I love that quote.  So true.  We, the left behind ones, hurt the most.  We feel the loss the most.  They left us knowing we loved them.  What a way to go.  Really.  It makes me feel very warm inside knowing my daughter knew we all loved her in this life.  She is fine and happy now.  We are here trying our best to go forward without her.  But, when you have faith and are anchored in hope you can see another perspective.  It’s only a passing moment of time until we see her again.

Know, dear reader, that I do not taking her passing lightly.  I do not think anyone should take a loss lightly.  It hurts.  We are only human, after all.  And as a human being, death is difficult.  I pray that as I write my experiences that someone will be touched by my words and build in them a great hope and faith that will carry them through their difficult time.

Cate B

Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.

Prisoner of Hope – Remembering

part 6 …….

We named our daughter Vanessa Joy.  Vanessa has a root meaning of butterfly.  She loved butterflies.  She drew them, she wrote about them and when she would give me gifts they mostly consisted of butterflies – a pair of butterfly earrings, for example.  As a matter of fact, the last gift she gave me was a throw pillow of an asian influence with a butterfly on it.  And when she gave it to me she said, “So you will remember me”.

My thoughts at the time she said that were, how could I ever forget you, and I told her those sentiments in similar words.  Well, when we lost her I began wanting to grasp everything that reminded me of her.  I felt I owed that to her and to myself.

Our son, on the plane from Hong Kong, designed tattoos in remembrance of his sister.  He had in mind for the brother’s to go together and get tattooed, but when I saw them I knew I was to get one.  So did at least 3 other women.



This is the tattoo I have on my left forearm.  Our son implemented her initials in the butterfly.  A V and a J and a B for our last name.

I bought place mats with butterflies, earrings were given to me and other beautiful jewelry.  I have a valance with butterflies.  I could go on and on.  I just needed something tangible to look at from time to time and feel her near me.





Here, on the left, is a picture of Vanessa, the end of December in NYC.  The picture speaks volumes of her personality – she did not want me taking that pic of her – thus the “talk to the hand” pose.


On the right – I found this on my camera just after she left our home to go back to CA.  She took it of herself – I’m sure so I would remember her.

Funny thing about losing someone.  You begin to see pieces of the puzzle of life come clearer. Those few things about “not forgetting” her – she didn’t know that was our last visit together.  Nor did we.  Right across the street from Macy’s in Manhattan, where the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink is, they display two angels blowing on trumpets.  My husband and I went to see the ice skating, and as we returned to meet up with her I gasped and stopped in my tracts.  Vanessa was standing between those angels – looking for us – and I remember clearly my thoughts were, “look at Vanessa among the angels!”

Aren’t these memories both beautiful and painful?  I friend of mine who lost their teenage son shortly before our loss recently said, “Grief changes over time, I would never call it “getting better”.”

It’s so true, the grieving changes.  And that’s OK.  My hope lies deep in Jesus, my very best friend.  We walk through this pain together.  I couldn’t do it alone.  None of us can.

We see Vanessa all around us.  She’s in my husband and I and her three brothers.  You can see her in her nephews and her namesake niece, Lucy Vanessa Joy.  The friends that were close to her carry parts of her around.  It’s wonderful.  Those who leave this earth early are still with  us.  Just look and remember the wonderful things about them.

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
― L.M. MontgomeryThe Story Girl
“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some devine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”
― Alfred Tennyson

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
― Kazuo IshiguroNever Let Me Go

Cate B

to be continued …….

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