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Sweet Riley Bell…

Your name was S’mores and Auntie Kim found you and your sister Olivia on Craig’s List. You were a Calico.  I didn’t want a Calico. I wanted a tabby just like Abigail. You were being fostered by a wonderful family through Positive Outreach Spay/Neuter Advocates after being found in a barn on April 24, 2016… the very same day Abigail crossed the Rainbow Bridge. 

When I met you and your sister, you were not that in to me. Auntie was the first to hold you. She knew… but I was skeptical.  I had committed to getting the two of you so home we went. Your foster family was very sad to see you go.  For almost four months no one wanted to adopt the two of you and they fell madly in love with you. I think we were meant to be together and God knew that. When I found out you were born the day Abigail crossed I knew. Funny how things work out like that. 

You warmed to me faster than your sister did. Within hours of our new life together I knew you were not a S’more’s.  I named you Riley Bell.  It just came out of my mouth and it stuck. You were smaller than your sister so you quickly became Little Bit and RB. Riley Bell and Gracie Girl. You two were quite a pair. 

Our three years together were magical. You adopted Papa into your heart quickly as well. You were two peas in a pod.  Your little routines will forever be engrained on our hearts. Papa says he will need to rub my belly and scratch my head before he goes to bed at night as that was your evening routine with him.  

We loved watching you gain your confidence and security.  The first time you splayed yourself out on your back in the middle of the living room was a real turning point. We knew you felt safe and secure to expose your belly like that. It always took you longer to feel safe with outsiders. Auntie was your favorite visitor and you were just beginning to be more brave to be around Omari… on your terms of course!  I had such dreams of the two of you growing up together. 

Your playful spirit was the best!  You loved playing by yourself and when Sissy joined in you would sit back and watch.  I’ll miss watching you rub the little felt  catnip filled hearts and fish all over your head.  I’ll miss the sound of the silly plastic calendar bindings fling all over the house and playing fetch with them.  I think you might have been part dog! You would play and Gracie would sleep! So different yet so alike.

As I’m sitting here with my coffee thinking of you little girl, your sister is laying across my arms as I type.  She spent most of the night sitting in the bedroom window watching outside. She misses you… I miss you… Papa misses you… we miss you.   I’ve cried many tears in the past 16 hours and if you were here you’d me right by my side.  You would be up close near my face making sure I was okay.  Your sensitivity was like no other cat I’ve known. You would nuzzle my face and then I’d rub your head and the purring would begin instantly. 

I’m going to miss early mornings when you would decide to come into the bedroom and search for some loves… purring loudly… very loudly!  My little Purr Girl. Then I’d find you waiting near the end of the bed for us to get up. Then the begging in the kitchen would begin for your nummies! I’m going to miss waking up pined to the bed because you couldn’t lay in between us like Gracie… no you’d lay right on my legs or up against my legs and settle in! 

Oh sweet girl, our lives were filled with your big personality and your tender heart. I’ll miss our snuggles on the couch when you would try to bury yourself behind my arm and back. I’ll miss you sweet little head resting on my lap. I’ll miss our race up the stairs twice a day when it was time to eat. I’ll miss watching you walk through your green tube before heading to your bowl. I’ll miss you being where ever I am. Papa already misses you circling between his legs while he sits in the bathroom and your lap time before bed. My last memory of you two was coming out of the bedroom late Thursday night to see you laying peacefully on his lap getting your nightly rubs. 

Sweet Riley Bell, we miss everything about you. Thank you for teaching us how to love unconditionally. Thank you for bringing love and life to us every day for the past three and a half years. Your time on this earth was far too short. I imagined you growing old with us. There must have been something happening in your sweet body and now you are free to run and eat all you want! 

We love you Pretty Girl… until we meet again. 

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It’s a God Thing

Have you ever had times when things in your life connect? Things that are from different parts of your life? Times when the things you are investing in all seem to be of the same theme? All along the way you see where paths cross and the messages you hear all take you to one common place? 

You hear people say that this is fate… karma… coincidence.

I call it God! 

I call it God seeing my life as a beautiful mosaic that He is creating. A beautiful stained glass window for the world to look through and see Him. I see the roads I’m traveling slowly converging to one central location. I see God helping me let go of the past… old stories and beliefs about myself and others. I see God creating in me a new heart for myself and those around me… friends and strangers. 

I have let the hurriedness of life, coupled with an intense “need” for social media shape me over the years. It has left me exhausted, lazy and searching for thew approval from others. For me it’s been the approval that I have a “good life.” That I’m right on track with the “Jones’s” so to speak. 

I have led people to believe that I have all of my ducks in a row. Oh, I have ducks alright… but they are all scattered about running in all directions leaving treasures everywhere!  

My paths right now include reengaging in my faith community in a meaningful way, spending time with a beautiful group of women and going Deeper as we become apprentices to Jesus, and intensive work with a wonderful friend and health coach doing a 90 Day Transformation. Every day I’m blown away at how these are all connected. The messages and lessons and conversations all have a common theme. 

They have taken me to one central place and it involves me becoming who Christ created me to be. I am by nature a peacemaker and a “taker-carer” of others. My default is others first and me last… if I get to me at all. 

I’m learning that I can still take care of others but I also need to take care of me. A new me. A me that sees my value and worth. A me that chooses to make decisions that nurture my heart, mind, body and soul. A me that knows I am fearfully and wonderfully made… called to bring light into a dark world. A me that loves me.

The past year has changed me. I have an amazing grandson who has helped me see life through a different lens. I want to be the best version of me for him. He is a big part of my “why.” When I’m gone I want him to remember his Nana in a way that speaks to the legacy I left behind. 

His Nana who loved Jesus. His Nana who loved people and saw the world as a safe and wonderful place. His Nana who loved fiercely and had a gentle heart and soul. His Nana who could run and play… laughing until we wet our pants (it doesn’t take much for Nana to do that)! His Nana who had a faith as strong as Abraham. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change takes work every day. Some days it’s easier than others. When my heart is directly connected to Jesus I know I can walk through the day with confidence. 

My goal is for this to be my starting place each morning. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting Him give me direction for the things that are to come. Standing in the gap on behalf of those who the Lord has entrusted me to pray for. After that I will put one foot in front of the other and try to be the best version I me that I possibly can.  I’m not done here on this earth and I want to make every moment count! 

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My Battle…out in the open

It all began with a mirror. 

I’ve been “heavy” my whole life.  Never have I known a time when I was thin or “normal.”  Normal… what is normal? I come from a family of 8 children and 6 were “normal” and two of us were “heavy.” 

While I’ve always been heavy, my self perception has been okay. In my mind I’ve felt that I was just like everyone else. Then when I’d see a picture or see myself in a dressing room mirror I’d seem shocked and dismayed. Regardless, I’ve always worked hard to love myself no matter what.  After all, God created me and He made me pretty darn awesome! 

In the 35 adult years of my 55, I’ve tried every diet known to man. I’ve purchased programs, books, vides and everything in between. I’ve also joined and cancelled gym membership after gym membership.

I can picture myself eating healthy and exercising. It excites me! I can get myself motivated and ready to make a change… tomorrow. I may or may not get started on a new venture to only self sabotage and fizzle out. All the while still feeling okay about myself and this “burden” that I’ve been chosen to carry. I read once that if weight were not my issue to keep me pressed into God, then it would be something else. 

This past week I traveled to Colorado for a conference. This is where my current story begins. I left feeling very aware of my current situation. Clothes were tighter and it was tough to choose what to take. I’m dealing with plantar fasciitis and carrying extra weight does not help at all.  Traveling in the cheap seats on the plane was tough. I was wedged in next to my thin friend for two long hours. Luckily we chatted and that made the time pass more quickly. Upon arriving I could hardly walk from sitting for so long. Add insult to injury, I have to turn a bit sideways to get through the narrow aisles as I walked to leave the plane. 

Everything about the trip there was physically uncomfortable and my self esteem was very fragile. We arrived at the beautiful resort and headed to our room. First things first, I had to use the little girls room! I sat (or plopped) down on the toilet that seemed to be nearly on the ground. I let out a huge sigh and looked in front of me. There, hanging from the top of the door to the floor was a giant mirror. I was sitting on the toilet staring at myself with my pants down around my ankles. Needless to say, I was horrified! I had truly never seen such a sight. I mentioned earlier that in my mind I feel normal. Well, this confirmed my suspicions… I’m not normal. 

It took my breath away. I was astonished and shocked and immediately very sad. It all came together… in that mirror. 

My goal over the past 5 years or so has been to just be healthy. I’m learning to love myself and treat me like I treat those I love. I’ve had success and failures. For the most part I’m healthy… except for my weight. I am good at doing the wellness things I need to do to avoid doctors and medications. But my being heavy has gone too far. I’ve always been able to do what everyone else could do despite my weight and now that has come to an end and that mirror was the final straw. 

I guess I’ve hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” My prayers for years have been for me to be able to “wake up” and make changes before a major medical issue forces me to. 

Now as I sit on the bottom and look up, I’m deathly afraid. I need to make a major life change and I’ve never been successful in the past. This time it’s a matter of life or death. If I don’t turn my life around now I will go down the path of my dear sister Kate whose life was cut short due to morbid obesity and inactivity. 

No more excuses. No more tomorrows. No more. 

As I sit here typing this, I have no idea what path I’m going to travel to get out of the darkness I’m sitting in. There are a million options and programs and things I can do. I know what I need to do. I know how to do it. Now to “just do it.” 

Today I’m going to get on my knees before my heavenly Father and lay it at His feet. That’s step one. I need to stop projecting out how I want things to go. I need to take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. I’ve experienced some hard things in my life but this for me is the hardest. It’s my battle and I need to put on my armor and begin to fight. I’m hoping by making my battle public that you might lift me up in prayer if I cross your mind. Maybe you are facing the same battle as me and we can encourage one another. Maybe you have another cross to carry and your battle feels impossible like mine. I’m going to lean in towards heaven as I travel this path… join me and we can travel together with God leading the way. There is still work to do on this earth and I’m not ready to be done. 

Lord, open me up and let Your light in. Today is a new day full of your mercy and grace. I’m waking up and need You. Amen

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Healing Emotions…

Emotions are powerful. 

I’ve lived in a sea of swirling emotions for the past 3 months or so. Significant birthdays… anniversary… graduation… wedding… grand baby. 

All of these emotions are wonderful… memories made! It’s been quite wonderful! 

I’ve learned that sometimes new emotions can uncover old ones. That is my quiet space this morning.  An old emotion that I’ve worked hard to process and bury over time. 

Not quite…

When I held our grandson for the first time I experienced an emotion I’ve never felt before.  Watching momma with her new son sparked an emotion around something I’ve never experienced. I’ve been struggling to even begin to describe the feelings I am having or why they are so strong. 

This morning I woke after a restless night and it hit me. 

I, as a grand parent, have experienced something that is quite miraculous and beautiful. I now realize that the deep emotion in the depths of my heart and soul is my own personal lack of this experience. 

As people stood around the room talking about their own pregnancy and birth experiences, I sat quietly listening… as I’ve done most of my life. 

I have no children born naturally to me. I’ve not experienced pregnancy nor the miracle of birth. Along with that comes a host of emotions of things lost. I will never be “the mom” that birthed a child. I can’t compare my stories to others… the list goes on.  

I’ve processed most of these over the years. I have always hoped and prayed I’d at least get to be a grandma! My wish came true! 

Wow… little did I know the emotions I’d feel last Thursday when I laid eyes on this little miracle. I can’t compare my emotions with anyone else’s, but now I have a little more clarity as to why mine have been so strong and deep.

I stand in awe of God and how He orchestrates life. The miracle of how He created a woman’s body to bring life into this world. I’ve had the privilege to watch my bonus daughter as she progressed through her pregnancy and listen to her talk about how things have been changing. I’ve been able to take some beautiful photographs of her along the way. Now I get to watch the miracle of motherhood unfold. God has created her to be a mom and she is a natural. I’m witnessing first hand her love and nurturing of this little being that is relying on her and her alone for his life! I’ve tried to imagine what that must feel like from her perspective… it overwhelms me.

Yes, I can honestly say I wish I’d had the privilege of birthing my own child. To walk through the 9 months and experience the miracle of birth. To raise a child that has my eyes or my temperament. To know that when I die, I’ve left a little piece of me behind. God had other plans for my life and that’s okay. I’ve had this beautiful experience becoming a grandma and will have more before my time is up. I am blessed. 

So, today I grieve a little as I look forward with anticipation to our next visit and that sweet time to hold him and dream of the memories we will make with this precious little peanut! 

NOTE:

**This blog is merely a purging of emotions that I needed to process. It’s not a cry for sympathy for anyone to feel bad for me. I’m perfectly happy with my life and where God has brought me. It’s the circle of life and the layers that need to be dealt with along the way**

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#pbnj

Yesterday 

August 2

Twenty-one years ago it was a very important day of my life. Fourteen years ago it became a sad day to remember. Every year when the beginning of August rolls around I have a moment of reflection and a twinge of emotion. Yes, I’m one of those date-remembering people… drives my husband nuts! 

Yesterday

 August 2, 2018

Best day ever! The day our lives changed forever! A day that will now be filled with love and excitement with new memories to be made! The day we became grandparents! 

At 12:49 PM the sweetest, most beautiful little baby boy entered this big big world!    

Back in late December we learned that we would become grandparents in August. We were instantly filled with love and excitement and have anticipated this day since then. 

First thing on the agenda… names! Grandparent names! For reasons not worth mentioning, I did not want to be “grandma.” My sister has a cool grandma name… Jammie M! Since then I knew that if I ever became a grandma I had to have a cool gma name! Nana J…

#pbnj

Papa B and Nana J

I’ve been excited for months, but until yesterday I’m not even sure I knew what I was excited for.  After hearing her water broke, the hours leading up to 12:49 PM on August 2 were emotion-filled with very little sleep.  All I could do was pray.  After getting to the hospital yesterday morning, the minutes seemed to tick backwards.

Anticipation.

Excitement.

Worry.

Tears as I met and talked with a family who welcomed their little Olivia Grace weighing in at one pound. Heart wrenching…

When we finally found out that our little grandson had arrived there were more tears. Papa B was able to go back and see momma and baby. I had told him I wanted my first view of baby to be in person. He felt bad I wasn’t able to go to the active labor room so he took a picture for me.  I resisted looking and then couldn’t help myself. 

That is the moment everything changed. On Papa’s tiny cell phone Baby O was perfect! Tears… so many tears. Now I HAD to meet him in person! 

I am 55 and have no children of my own. I have no schema for a birth nor the wonder of that experience. 

I’ve not had that moment when you lay eyes on that special baby for the first time… until August 2, 2018 as I held him in my arms.

My heart melted into his. 

Nana J holding sweet Baby O. 

Tears were falling out of my eyes! I’ve never quite felt anything like it. I didn’t want to let him go, but the room was filled with all of the stakeholders in his life that wanted a chance to have a moment in his first hours on this planet!                              

So today… August 3… 24 hours later… I still can’t quite wrap my head around it all. I’m struggling with words to describe how I feel.  I’m not blood related to this little man, but the bond I already feel with him is strong. He is the greatest gift for this Bonus Mom! 

I know that God has His hand of grace and protection on this little man and his parents… on all of us for that matter! Many prayers have been whispered for this special boy and I’m hopeful for the amazing life that he is going to have! 

Papa B and Nana J love him deeply already… we can’t wait for the memories we will make with him! We are thankful to his beautiful momma and daddy for letting us share the afternoon with them yesterday… August 2, 2018.

Welcome little man… we love you to the moon and back!

Experiences · Generations · Gifts · Grace · Growth · Hope · Intentional Self · Lessons Learned · life happens... · love · marriage · My Journey · Prayer · Quiet Pleasures · Uncategorized

Adulting

What a year it’s been with 5 months still to go! Some years have come and gone and been full of heartache and sadness… harder than others. 

2018 has been a year full of change, excitement and wonder!! Busy. Full. Fast.

Both my husband and I turned 55. Double Nickel!  Fifty Five! Who is 55? It always seemed that old people were 55. Well now we are and we are not old! Funny that perspective change as we age! 

I have three bonus children. Our youngest graduated HS. When I moved here 12 years ago he was 6. Our oldest got married a few weeks ago. When I moved here she was about to turn 10. Our middle daughter is weeks away from having a baby boy. When I moved here she was 7. 

As we have watched them grow up and journey through the many family challenges we’ve had, our conversations at times were about where they would land when they became adults. It always seemed so far off. Some days we wished them old and wise… away from the tumultuous teen years. Other times we wished them to stay young and innocent. 

Today we sit in awe and wonder at the changes in the past 6 months. No more school events. We have a new son-in-law.  Soon we will be grandparents… Papa B and Nana J! We are now eligible for a level of senior discounts! AARP baby!! It all feels a bit surreal. 

So far on this journey, we have all made it! And it hasn’t been without joys and sorrows.  Honestly, there were moments when I wasn’t sure we’d ever make it to this point. So here we are and I am full of excitement and deep emotion. We joke about all of the kids now officially “adulting.” I guess then we are “adult adulting!” 

This time in life always seemed like a dream to me and so far off. Now it’s here and it’s grand! We love “adulting” with the kids! We do miss the days when they were younger, but this time of life is wonderful! As I’m having conversations with our momma-to-be about her life and the new life she is about to begin, I think back on all of the things I did that were good bonus parenting moments and all of the not-so-good bonus parenting moments. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every day and His grace abounds! 

We all grow and change. We’ve all said and done things we’ve regretted and things we remember fondly. This doesn’t feel like a new chapter but a whole new book! Volume 2 – “Adulting!” 

I couldn’t have imagined what this would be like. I can’t even really describe it now. We are in the next phase of all of our lives and it is exciting and scary. Lives are changing and people are growing old. 

(The growing old thing is another blog for another day.) 

I’m sitting here in a new office space typing this and I’m looking at a wall decoration from a dear friend hanging directly in front of me… HOPE is what it says. I am hopeful and confident that the good things the Lord has started in our family will continue as He walks us all through the next phases of our lives. We can’t look back with regret and we can’t look forward with anxiousness. 

We are…

Right here. Right now. Just as we are. Loving no matter what…even when it’s difficult. Challenging relationships at new levels. Leaving behind the things that were hard and being hopeful for the things to come.  

Life is a gift and everyday we get to choose how we spend it.  I am choosing to be full of HOPE and excitement for what is next for all of us. 

Circle of Friends · Circle of Life · Lessons Learned · life happens... · My Journey · Quiet Pleasures · Quilting · Uncategorized

It All Started With Yogurt…

It all started with yogurt.

Frozen yogurt.

Peanut butter frozen yogurt.

In Palmdale.

Friends asked me to go to a quilt show in Palmdale. A quilt show? Are you kidding me? I don’t quilt. I don’t sew. I don’t even own a sewing machine! I’m the girl who had to do extra credit in junior high to keep from failing my sewing class. (Thank you Michael Todd!) That’s another story for another day!

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Because I wanted to hang with my friends AND there was peanut butter frozen yogurt involved, I agreed to go.

As we strolled through the quilt show, I was drawn to a stack of fabric in deep, rich colors. They were all tied together with a nice bow. I was informed it was called a “fat pack.” Hmmmm, interesting name. Is it time for yogurt yet?

I was again drawn back to this “fat pack” of beautiful fabric. This little stack of fabric that changed my life forever! We started chatting with the ladies at the booth, who happened to be fromLoving Stitches quilt store in Santa Clarita where we lived. They suggested signing up for a baby quilt class and I could use this beautiful fabric! We all agreed this would be fun! So I bought the fabric and signed up for the class! As we were leaving the booth I happened to ask how I was going to sew, as I don’t own a machine. Oh, you bring your own machine! So it begins!

Upon returning home I informed my husband that I HAD to get a sewing machine because I bought this fabric and signed up for a class! Off to Sears we went and I became the owner of a very basic Kenmore. It sews forward and backwards!

Then off to quilt class we went! Little did I know, that when you quilt, you need tools. Pins, scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, rulers… the list goes on! If there is a tool, I just knew I had to have it!

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Well, this sweet little blanket opened the door for a new hobby!

Now we have been sucked in to the vortex of beautiful fabric and stunning quilts!

The next adventure was a “Quilt As You Go By Hand” class. We thought this sounded fun! If only we knew what we didn’t know!

After signing up and paying the fee for the class, we then had to pick out fabric. Yards and yards and yards of fabric… of many different colors. I’m just going to say that I’m not the person you would hire to put together fat packs! We spent hours searching for the perfect fabrics. We had to pick out at least 5 different varieties. I ended up with fabrics in the shades of tan, purples and browns. None of which were any colors in my home or that was ever drawn to. I have a distant memory of the fabric alone coming to $200… and that did not include ALL of the MANY tools and things needed for this class. Thank goodness I already had a sewing machine and a rotary cutter! Oh wait… you couldn’t use either of those! It’s a quilt by hand class. I’m surprised we could use scissors! (Insert sarcasm!)

Well, this class turned out to be far more than I should have ever taken on. Time  and money alone, not to mention skill and patience and desire to have a giant purple quilt made all by hand! The teacher was very strict about the rules. I’m surprised they didn’t turn off the power and make us work by candle light! (Insert more sarcasm!)

Today, I rescued a very large box out of the closet. It was full of fabric that I had stuffed in it 12 years ago when I moved back to Washington from California. It was full of projects started and never finished as well as fabric from all of the quilts I made in the years following the infamous class! My “go to” was blocks sewn together and tied in the corners, not quilted.

We went through a phase of Block of the Month projects. Today I found one of them almost completed and two more all in the baggies I paid for each month! I cringed every time I saw the little price tag on the baggies. Quilting is not cheap!

I realized several things about myself today. First, I have a huge issue with finishing projects. Unless I have a specific goal, like making a gift for someone, I tend to get distracted and move on. Secondly, I am that person that has to have all of the latest and greatest when pursuing a hobby. If it can be helpful then I need to have it. I discovered this today as I unpacked all of the “stuff” that goes along with the fabrics to make quilts! Lastly, I realized that when I left CA, I tucked away a hobby that I really loved. I’ve made a few quilts over the past 12 years, but nothing like I was doing back in the day. Today I unearthed some beautiful blocks and I was shocked that I had actually made them with my own hands. Some literally by hand and others with the aid of my rotary cutter and sewing machine! I actually did some good old fashioned hand quilting as well!

It was fun to pull this out today and relive some sweet memories. It was also very emotional. This period of my life was very different living and teaching in CA. The ladies I quilted with were also the ones I knitted with, read books with , scrap booked with and traveled with. These were good years and good friends!

I brought it all with me to WA, but it was not the same. Along with the actual act of quilting, were the friendships that grew as we spent time together. Friendships deepened by a common thread (pun intended!). Cherished memories that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Each block and each quilt has a story. I’m glad I found them again.

And to think… it all started with yogurt.