Tag Archives: Norma Moslander

This woman.

My mamala.

mamala and me

She has been teaching me about childlike faith and following Jesus for 54 years,  6 weeks and 4 days.  Each time I get to see her,  I learn more about loving life and finding joy in the beauty around us.   Whether it’s a clear blue sky, a Cocker Spaniel’s floppy ears, hedgeballs (the woman can get some distance on those things, “bowling” them across the yard) or falling leaves ~ all of life is to be treasured, enjoyed and celebrated.

norma moslander with blake, her 11th great grandchild

This was the day mom met Blake , Elise-the-Niece’s baby boy, and my mom’s 11th great-grandchild.  they were fast friends.

To my mom, there is nothing that isn’t just {{wow-isn’t that wonderful!}} stunningly, marvelously, unbelievably fascinating.  She has 75 years and counting to back it up (even though, people, even though the beginnings were hard, tragic, even, the middle was challenging and the things she faces these days are heavy on the heart)!  Still, she can give you a million reasons to stay the course because God will be faithful.

I drink them up, all her reasons.  I soak her in.

Is it any wonder I still want to be just like my mom when I grow up?

Happy Mothers Day, mommies far & wide

ESPECIALLY-Happy Day to my own sweet mom

Oh, sweet mamala.  You make me laugh.  And cry, sometimes, too, from laughing so hard. But mostly you just make me smile, and feel loved!  My whole lifelong I have had a most amazing mom, but I only really-really got to know her deeply after my kids were older and she was my current age (too busy in life).  Then I finally got to see her heart and understand her soul and mind and how much I really finally began to hope-hope-hope to grow up to be just like her.  It is my aim and deepest wish to somehow attain to become as wonderful as my mom, if that is even ever possible.

Happy Day to all MOMS far and wide

I fear I’ll forget some important acknowledgements, but if I could just say to a FEW women I know…

Happy Mother’s Day to Heather, Amy Jo, Patrice, Candi, Pearly-Q and Marilyn.  Your kids range from newborn to fully grown and I learn so much from you, time and again.  But especially today, to my Marilyn.  You raised 2 lovely, lovely children, who gave you more babies.  A couple of months ago, you lost one – except that he isn’t lost, we know this.  He has just gone on ahead.  And today on Mother’s Day, since Jason isn’t here to join Kori in saying it, I know he knew and so I will say, You are one of the best moms on the planet and I know your children never ever have doubted your love and affection for them.  So happy Mother’s Day, sweet Marilyn.

Dana, my sweet, you look at your children with such deep affection and reverence.  I am inspired by your love for them and your capacity to love the children around the world.  Your heart is big enough to do all God is calling you to, this is evident.  So many children to come…

I also wanted to say Happy Mother’s Day to my little sister.  Tami has not birthed any babies in the physical sense, but no one can deny the place she has held in the hearts of teenagers and kids everywhere as she and her husband have led youth groups and churches across the country.  Everybody loves Tami and if anything had ever happened to us when my kids were little, she was going to have all 5 of mine!  :)  As an aunt, she is superb, and she’s carried my mommying burdens with me many times.  So on this day, I recognize the nurturing gift and godly woman and mother figure she holds to many, many people looking for a spiritual mom.  You are wonderful, Tami.

Stef – what an honor I have had to get to watch you become a mom when Sawyer was born, and to get to walk the halls with you for Wryder’s birth.  The care and details you pour into these babies, how you invest in giving them a loving home and a wonderful life is amazing.  I hope you can see that God trusts you with them – that you are the one He knew could do this.  You are a lovely mama.

And my friend Stephanie, I have to say Happy Mother’s Day to her!  Steph, you have proven that even though it is hard and there are battle wounds, you can blend and watch a family thrive.  I love that you and your son joined yourselves to your handsome love and his children and are beating all odds.  Yesterday to see the joy, the happiness, the this IS working for us, we are family: priceless!  Well done, Stephanie!

Plus TWO nieces:  My niece, Lori because she has LOTS of kids and never loses track of them or faith in them.  And recently-lots of extra-mommying has been happening.  Happy Mother’s Day, Lori.  AND Elise-the-Niece gave birth to her baby boy, Blake Matthew, at 00:04 this morning.  HAPPY Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to My Daughters, Tara, Stephanie and Jovan

Tara was born just before Mother’s Day in 1979.  I took her to church that morning, just 4 days old.  I heard the Mother’s Day sermon and felt the awe of what had just been delivered to me.  By God Himself! Beauty.  These women – are so good at what they do, so far beyond what I ever was.  I am constantly amazed as I watch them  raise their own {8} lovely children.

And Happy Day to the ones who made me a mom: Tara, Stephanie, Dessa-Poo, Rocky and Stormie-kins~

Every Mother’s Day I think I should be thanking my 5 kids.  Plus the ones who call me mom, now, the ones I did not have to labor over (blessed!).

To the 5: You are my trophies and my reward – heritage {!}, not for anything I could have or would have thought to do or be as a mom, but because God can only give amazing gifts, and oh, so He did!  But you’re testaments to Him, He is so faithful and good and He knew I needed the ways each of you challenge me.  I love watching your lives and seeing you become the glory of all God had in mind when he reached into my womb and created your little beings there. I love watching your families grow and seeing His faithfulness poured out over you, too.

dave and jeanie rhoades familyJust recently got this  photo in some of Dad Rhoades’s belongings after his death.  I had never seen it.

Please give me all the way to the end to become the mom God has in mind and I promise I shall keep trying with all my might to get there. You are the proof that God is able to use feet of clay and everyday vessels.  He is just so faithful.  I am just so blessed.

Tara + Dave = Hunter and now Malakai, too (Doesn’t he just make this Mother’s Day all the more special?). Three men and a beautiful woman!  Adoption, so amazing, so sweet.  Our firstborn is blessed with a lovely family.  I love you so.

Stephanie, you started the growing-family thing by marrying Tristan, then giving us our very first grandbebe, plus two more darlings: Gavin, Guinivere, and Gemma May.  The Kelley family, head-turners and beautiful.  I love you deeply.

Tredessa loves Ryan and we love him, too.  And they are a family (we pray for many children for them in the future!). You are a joy and delight as you have always been.  Love you lots!

Rocky and Jovan and all their little women, Averi-J, Amelie Belle and baby-Bailey fill the world with frills and fun.  Rock-bo, you’re blessed and surrounded by love and respect, including mine.

Stormie, our sweet baby girl ~ favorite auntie and love of our lives.  You are the final flourish, the grand finale, the ‘ta-da.’ Love you like crazy, baby girl.

Oh, and one more thing~

Ryan and Tredessa are pregnant!  They told us a few weeks ago and were going to make us stay silent for another month but they couldn’t wait either!  Bebe is due in mid- December and we are so happy. :)  So, Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, Tre-Tre!

It IS a Happy Mother’s Day!


This one is for Stef, who can appreciate my momma stories.  :)

About a year ago my mom and I were reminiscing on the phone about the great time we’d had at the Phipps farm during the Moslander Family Reunion of 2009.  Stef and Wrex set up a roping activity and lots of yard games, brought out the horses for riding and baby goats and cows for petting.  My mom was particularly thrilled when Wrex gave her some tips on roping.  She was able to dead-aim her pvc-pipe “cow” with ease under his tutelage and reflected how great it would have been in life to have known this stuff sooner!  There she was, a 70-year old woman, roping away!


We enjoyed a big barbecue on their spacious property and to my mom’s utter delight, we got a big game of horseshoes going before the sun went down.  She has always loved a good game of horseshoes.

As we were talking about it on the phone last summer, she just started joking around and being silly about it, like she sometimes does to make us smile.

“I didn’t do too good at horseshoes in Colorado.  That ground was so hard those horseshoes just got up and galloped away.  They wouldn’t even stay by the pin.  They even tried to chase Joe down.  He finally climbed on one and rode away.”

Yes.  I wrote it down for future joy.  Just like she used to do with our words when we were little.

Norma’s Angel

My mama’s namesake horse.

My earliest memories, in the apartment on Washington Street in Des Moines, Iowa, include my mom’s horse collection.  She’d collected wooden ones, ceramic ones, and glass ones as a girl and young teenager.  They were displayed on the plate rail around the dining room and on shelves and even my dad’s desk.  I was fascinated by them and occasionally, she’s get one down for me to hold.

At some point, I guess as her “collection” of children grew, she just got rid of them all.

But I always knew she was horse woman.  A little bit cowgirl.  A little bit Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, she grew up wearing jeans and chaps and walking around her town roping things.

Fitting then, that there is a horse named for her, Norma’s Angel.

My mama the horse whisperer

My mom devoted, in every sense of that word, her whole life to God, her husband, her children and her church family.  I would like to challenge anyone to find an enemy to her.  Just is not possible.  She loved anyone who had an issue with her until they could no longer resist her affection and became, instead, raving fans.  Her love is deep and wide.

When my dad took a church in Ohio and she was 55, I believe, she became a professional horse photographer.  It was just thrilling to see her blossom, like a reward from God for all the years of her dedicated service.  They lived in a rural location and her hobby of snapping pictures turned in to assignments for an Ohio horse publication, where her work was featured on the cover many times.

I have always said that both my mom and my sister can speak to the animals.  And the horses especially responded to her my mom’s gentleness and respect by posing sweetly.

This photo

So a few years ago when they were pastoring in Richmond, Indiana, some members of their church who were horse breeders and racers had a foal who was not doing too well at all.  The small horse was very sick and it touched my mom’s heart, of course.  She drove out to their place and told them she was going to pray for their little horse.  She did.  She recalls the little horse nuzzling her while she’d speak gently to it and stroke its’ mane.

She prayed and prayed for that little horse and it got better.  When they filed the paperwork, they called that horse, “Norma’s Angel.”

It got so strong it began racing.  They sent my mom a horseshoe from its’ first 1st-place win, a treasure to her.

This past week she got to stop by and see her namesake horse and they shared some tender moments, captured by another photographer.  I happened across it on Facebook this morning and it has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Regal.  Strong.  Powerful.  Gentle.  Beautiful.  The horse yes, but my little mama, too.

I love you so, mamala!



“Live your life and forget your age.”

“Live your life and forget your age.”  -Norman Vincent Peale

This is what women do: they criticize their looks and age and weight and everything about themselves all.the.time.  Don’t ask me how I know.

When I first saw this huge image pop up in a sneak-preview of the wedding photos, I thought, “Well there are the bags under my eyes.  I was still in my sweats.  I didn’t have my mascara on” and etc.  Dumb.  I know.  Very vain.

My mom saw it and said to me “Who is that old woman with all those wrinkles?”  She is 73 and has yet to recognize her loveliness.  Tredessa had already told me that she loved the intensity of the lines on her grandma’s face, the clearness of her features.

And all I could think in response to my mom was, “I so want to be like that woman.”  I love her!  I love her vivaciousness and love for life and picture-taking and horses and her family and her encouraging ways and deep-felt love for people and the belief in the best of them all.   And if the lines on her face were a type of braille, they would read of her unwavering belief in me and love no matter what since the day I was born – even before.

We attack ourselves.  We speak badly of ourselves.  We wouldn’t let first-graders talk about each other the way we talk about ourselves.  Stupid. Waste. of. Time.

Me and my mamala…

me and the momma

I have her nose.  I have her blue eyes.  I even have two, deep, furrowed  lines between my brows exactly like hers.  And I wanna be just like her when I grow up.  I do.  She is the most beautiful to me.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

The basement apartment in Des Moines, Iowa (1959); the Washington Street Apartment (Joe and Tim show up 1961 and 1963); 1310 York Street, just two houses down from Grandma and Grandpa Baker; then the beloved 1723 York Street across the alley from Nancy Lydon (Tami and Danny are born, 1965 and 1966); the Jersey Ridge Road house in Davenport (1971); then the brand new house we built at 5506 North Howell (1972); the corner parsonage in Cedar Rapids (1973); a parsonage right next to the church in Robert, Louisiana (1975); Finally – 4995 ROOSEVELT PLACE IN GARY (1977) – the last of the houses where we all, Ross-the-Boss, Mrs. Moss and all the Little Landers, dwelled together before leaving the sweet (Glen Park C of G parsonage) nest my parents had provided the 7 of us…

“I’ve been around the world and as a matter of fact”*

Dave and I have lived in a few places (Minot, ND; Kokomo, IN; Sioux City, IA; Norfolk, NE; Denver-forever), different houses.  And my parents have been all over since I left their home, too (Hobart, IN; Willard, OH; Richmond, IN; St Joe-MO; Butte, MT; Springfield, MO; back to St Joe-MO).  I visited my parents in their current digs in Saint Joe early in the year.  The house they are living in?  Not home.  No.   But my parents?  Wherever they land, is kinda home to parts of me.  I always need to know where they are and what their house looks like so I will know the space my heart is rambling about in.  Mom and dad are the fixed stars in my sky.  LOVE them!

God, it seems you’ve been our home forever; long before the mountains were born,

Long before you brought earth itself to birth,

from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.  Psalms

“Goin’ back to Indiana” ~ The Jackson 5

While we were at the Moslander Family Reunion last week in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, us old-timers took a late-afternoon,  impromptu drive through the old neighborhoods; saw places we had worked and schools we’d attended and the house we called home.  It is all the same, but so different.  The huge mountain spruce in the fron yard at 4995 Roosevelt Place, trimmed to above roofline and barely clinging to life now, was once a full, thick, green privacy wall between the house and street.  There are pictures there of my brothers in their graduation attire and even my babies running on the lawn from way back when.  The juniper has all been removed in favor of more manageable potted flora.  The dings Tim and my other brothers put into the side of the house playing baseball in the 70’s are still there, a testament to long summer days spent with a bat and ball in hand.

And we actually were just a few blocks from the Jackson family home in Gary, Indiana, btw!

The streets of Gary used to be positively frightening during business hours, the traffic heavier than the city had prepared for.  The business district I used to drive is nearly a ghost town.  Boarded up windows and abandoned buildings everywhere, yet minutes away, there are still quiet neighborhoods with established lawns and trees.  You can buy a beautiful brick bungalow for $15,000 (the for sale signs made of cardboard and black marker) there on an empty street.  The same would cost 1.3 million in Denver.

“Who says you can’t go home again?” ~ Bon Jovi*

Surprisingly, standing there in the old yard, looking at the house in conjunction with neighboring homes and recalling old times and people from the past, it didn’t seem smaller.  Often you’ll return to a childhood haunt and you’ll just feel like, “Wow-this seems so small now.”  But that wasn’t the case at the Roosevelt Street house, the last home we all shared under one roof, the place my kids remember going to see Grandma and Grandpa Moslander.  It really didn’t seem smaller.

It just seemed like: wow-how did this house ever hold all the life and loud love and laughter and memory and family and patio swimming in a 12-foot pool and Uno, all the huge bags full of 19-cent White Castle burgers after church ball games, or Bronco’s Pizza with 5 pounds of melted, dripping, greasy cheese, and church friends and Lake-effect wind and graduations and marriages and teen-agers and letter writing and boyfriends and girlfriends and Lake-effect snow and family altar and family feuds and kids and toys and books and WGN afternoon movies with our first color TV, first jobs and rusted out cars and Tip Top and Bible study and early morning prayer and first grandchildren and the first few spouses and all the rest of living that the Moslander family brought to it?

How on earth did this modest house on this unicorporated county street handle all that?

And it yet stands as a testament.

The Moslanders were here June 1977 – Spring 1990.  And again in June 27, 2011.  We were here.

* LOVE Bon Jovi’s song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abzbVFuxigg

PUPPY LOVE: my mom and the mutt

Sandy-the-family-dog will soon make her stage debut as Sandy-the-Mutt (her actual namesake) in the local stage production of Annie (while Dave plays Daddy Warbucks).

We rescued Sandy years ago from the landfill where she’d been abandoned and was running wild eating trash and afraid of her own shadow, yet, she has never quit looking like a junkyard dog.  Even our love could not transform her into a beautiful show dog.  And though I fully believed a good grooming would be necessary for her to be a star: NO!  We are to leave her in this sad, overgrown condition for her role onstage.  She is untrained and undisciplined.

  • You can’t take her on a walk without getting your shoulder pulled out of socket.
  • She insists on laying right on your feet and constantly touching you, staring at you and basically loving the stuffing out of you.
  • She gets throroughly head-over-heels excited when you come in the door.
  • When you are eating anything, even though she is never allowed people food, Sandy sits very closely and tries to disguise the fact that she is lusting after your food.  But she isn’t allowed to beg.  So she sits there, acting all nonchalent and doesn’t actually look at you (because she knows that will get her in trouble), but she moves her eyes one way and then the next and then tilts her head so she can clearly watch you eating from the corner of her eye.  “Look away,” we tell her and she does, but then…yes, there it is: the corner of the eye thing again.  She is fooling no one.  I am amused by her persistance for lo these many years.  Hope must rise eternal in her heart that we will just one day give her all of our food.
  • She rolls around on the floor like a maniac when being petted.
  • If you give her a dryer sheet, she rubs her body all over it, because smelling fresh is her one true desire, though smelling fresh is pretty much impossible for Sandy.  She hates baths and thinks she is being punished and after years of hearing b-a-t-h spelled out, she is not fooled by our code.
  • She lives for love and lives to love.  The slightest kindness or gentle word from me and Sandy thumps a Morse-Code message of affection back to me with her ample tail.



Sandy and Dave have gotten closer during this shared theatrical experience, but she is my dog until Stormie shows up.  We were very close, mutt and me, during the Taiwan trip, but the minute Stormie was back on US soil, I was cast aside.  However,  if Rocky is anywhere in a 2 mile radius-her heart belongs to him and him alone.  Period.  He knows her and understands her more than anyone else.  And she pays him back with a fierce covenant commitment and over-the-top adoration.  They are “a boy and his dog.”  But Stephanie originally brought Sandy into the family, so she owns a part of Sandy, too.

She is a sweet dog.  She hates cats and is terrified of birds, but otherwise does not like conflict.  She loves people, seems to believe the best of everyone, and melts at a kind word and a pat on the head.  That is really all takes to be loved by Sandy forever.  She doesn’t really enjoy playing horsie with the grandkids, but is gentle and longsuffering with them anyway.

Sandy is a Phlegmatic-Sanguine.  She loves people and she loves peacefulness and having everybody just get along.  Just like my mom.  No wonder I adore her: the dog, I mean, but my mom, too.  Yes.  They are both lovely and loveable.  And they are very close friends, as well.  They may even favor one another a little.


My mom  and Sandy-the-Dog are probably my two most reliable and exuberant cheerleaders in life, my most trusted allies.  Aren’t they adorable?