Posted in Circle of Life, Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

2016… What a Year!

2016… oh what a year! It’s one that will go down in history for so many reasons. I’ve managed to NOT let the stress of things of the world get me down.  I’ve felt sad about the losses of well-known people who have passed away… people I’ve grown up with. I’ve managed to keep my emotions out of the presidential election. All I can do is pray for the days to come. I have no control of the worldly events of the past year.

All I can really control is the events of my life… and even those are not always controllable.  I can think about the past year but can’t change a thing that has already happened.  The story is written and published.  All I can do it reflect on the words on each page, take what I can that will propel me positively into the new year and then close the book, placing it carefully on the shelf with the other 53 books.

2016 was a year. A year of hard work, new relationships, loss, struggle, new memories, career challenges, laughter, tears, loving, choosing to love, growth, new beginnings, dreams lost and dreams being realized…

There are some definite things I can take away from 2016. While I’d like to take away only the positive, I realize that it’s some of the tough things that will change me and motivate me in the coming year.

Here are my take-aways from 2016:

  • I have infinite worth! Enough said!
  • I am the only one that can determine how my day will unfold. It’s not the responsibility of my husband, friends or co-workers… it’s mine.  I choose my attitude towards the day.
  • If I don’t include God in my day things tend to go south. Unfortunately I’ve allowed this to happen one too many times.
  • Everyday is a gift – wrapped with a beautiful bow. I get to choose how I open it and what I do with it.  Some gifts can be large and fancy, while others might be little and seemingly unimportant. It’s up to me to look at each gift and cherish what it brings… not wishing and hoping for more or different. Gifts are all around us and sometimes we miss them. It’s the tiniest things that can bring the greatest joy!
  • Just when you think you’ve loved something so much and losing it will leave you empty forever… think again! Be bold and risk loving again!
  • Two kittens are better than one! Just saying!  sleeping-kittens-12-31-16

As we move into 2017, my prayer for everyone is that we will all believe in our infinite worth and value.  I pray our lives will reflect that.  For me that means taking better care of myself… believing that I’m worth investing in.  Even when that investment is difficult but necessary. I pray we all have others in our lives to share the journey. I pray that we can all do the two simple things that God asks of us… love God and love people. This feels more important than ever with the coming months and changes in our nation.

May 2017 bring abundant love, grace and passion in each of our lives. I leave you with this prayer.

“And now may the courage of early morning’s dawning,

And the strength of eternal hills at noontime,

And the peace of open spaces at evening’s ending,

And the love of God abide in your hearts now and forever.” Amen.

                 – Harry K. Zeller, from the BRETHREN HYMNAL

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Posted in Circle of Life, Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, love, marriage, Miracles, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Just Another Day…

August 2, 1997.  It was just another day for most. It was a big day for me. Happiest day of my life… or so they say. For 7 years it was a day that was celebrated. Today, 19 years later, it’s just another day.  One day closer to summer being over and getting back to work.

Today I find myself filled with emotion. I’m sure it’s not all about that day 19 years ago, but that is a part of it. The part of me that came and went in 7 short years.  That is not what I envisioned on that sunny day in San Luis Obispo. It was a whirlwind relationship that happened fast. He was taken by my “worship girl” lifestyle and I with his wild side and in love with being in love. Some of his first words to me were, “you are perfect the way you are.”  That should have been a red flag, but it only fueled my desire to be loved and love.

Over the last 19 years I’ve loved and lost. I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve had my heart filled and emptied. I’ve had dreams come true and dreams shattered. I’ve come and gone. I’ve hurt and and been hurt. I’ve loved and been loved… and reloved.

Life gets so busy that sometimes I forget to stop and remember. I am a “date remembering” girl, but this far out, today would have been just another day had I not heard the date on the morning news.

August 2…

Emotions came flooding back. I think that I now have a storehouse of memories that the Lord wants me to keep in a special place.  They no longer contain anger or hurt or regret. They are sweet and part of who I am today. Had I not journeyed on that short path with the amazing man that “fell in love with me” I might not be sitting where I am today… living the life I have now. It’s funny how one life decision can determine the days to come.

I have some wonderful take aways from that seven year union 19 years ago.  My first kiss… and so on and so forth!! (insert blush)  A beautiful bonus daughter who is now a mother of a sweet little guy. Family that will always hold a special place in my heart. Seven years of adventures with my “Marlboro Man!”

It’s not what I thought would happen. But it did. Things ended and ten years ago I decided to move away from the memories and at the time, the pain. Of course I was swayed by a tall handsome Irish boy from my past.

Several major life changes later and here I sit. I left a wonderful state I had lived in for 20 years and came home. Quit a really good job… got a new one… thankfully another really good one! Sold a home, bought a home, sold a home and bought another one! Rekindled old friendships and started new ones. Left love behind and had the great blessing of getting to relove and marry my first. I said goodbye to a wonderful bonus daughter and now have three more amazing bonus children. Life is good.

Yes, one simple date on the calendar and oh how the memories and emotions appear.  Bittersweet. I am confidently thankful that my Father in Heaven has my journey all mapped out.  On that sweet day 19 years ago, I never in a million years would have thought for a second my life would be what it is now. As wonderful as it is, it would not have made sense then. I’m so glad that we don’t get to see our future.  Just one day at a time… living well and loving God and loving people.

Posted in Circle of Friends, Circle of Life, Experiences, Generations, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, Miracles, My Journey, Prayer, Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Resiliency and Growth Over Time…

today, tomorrow & every day  – THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.  Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Here are my continued thoughts on this amazing book I received as a gift.

She hadn’t always been this way.                                                                                                                         She hadn’t always been as strong and resilient and brave and joyful.

Like any garden or work of art, it had taken her a long time to make things the way there were.   To learn.                                                                                                                                                                                  To arrange.                                                                                                                                                                    To rearrange.

Sometimes, she grew as such in one year as others do in five.                                                                                      It showed in her spirit.                                                                                                                                                                 In her laugh.                                                                                                                                                                          It looked and it sounded like wisdom.                                                                                                                         And she liked it that way.

 53 years.  I’ve come along way. The change really started noticeably happening when I turned 50.  But seeds were planted long before that.  Life events that required me to be strong and resilient and brave… and joyful…regardless.

At times I stayed the same for many years.  Other times I grew more quickly.  I can look back now and see those moments in time.

  • Moving away from everyone and everything I knew and loved, to teach in California at the ripe old age of 23!
  • Moving back home to WA to pursue a job near family and not having success… back to CA I went!
  • Living alone in a strange house during a large earthquake.
  • Getting married at the age of 34… step-parenting with an ex that hated me!
  • Moving to a new city in CA and getting a new job… starting over.
  • Caring for my step daughter as she recovered from a horrific accident and a traumatic brain injury. (This one made me brave and strong and resilient and selfless)
  • Divorce… everything I ever believed about myself was challenged and questioned.
  • Sold my condo and moved back to WA.
  • New job… again.
  • Bought a house on my own.
  • Married the love of my life… step parent to three young children.
  • Lost both parents and one of my sisters.
  • Turned 50 and said, “The hell with it! I’m done trying to please everyone!”

Now I continue on this journey to live a brave and real and gorgeous life!  I’ve got a lot of scars and old wounds to heal, as well as many wonderful memories to hold on to! I’ve listened to many people who have shared wisdom and counsel with me. I’ve shared my experiences with many… passing along the same. I’ve also talked less and listened more. I was recently told by someone very special to me that talking to me brought her peace. That must be what wisdom looks and sounds like. Jesus in skin.

How have you changed over time? What has happened your life to make you strong and resilient?

Posted in Circle of Life, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayer, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

today, tomorrow & every day…

I recently received a very beautiful book from a friend.

today, tomorrow & every day                                                                                                                      THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.                                                 Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Aside from the powerful content of the writing, the book itself is beautiful, filled with illustrations and photographs.  It is put together in the most amazing way visually.  I read the words on the pages and was brought to tears.  This book is speaking to the very place I am in my life and the direction I am heading.

I decided to share it with you… a little bit at a time accompanied by my personal reflections.  You will get to experience the words, but will have to envision the pictures as your heart and mind see them.

It starts like this…

One day she stepped back and took a look at her life.                                                                                        A long, close look. As though it were a city she loved and she was flying high above it,                         so high that she could see the whole thing. 

And she realized something:                                                                                                                                   She liked what she saw.                                                                                                                                           She liked where she had been.                                                                                                                                     She liked where she was going. 

When I read these first two pages, I paused and didn’t really want to turn the page.  These words were rich and powerful. I closed my eyes and imagined looking at my life.  I was overwhelmed. My mind went to more negative thoughts at first, but I was able to change my perspective. I “flew higher” and looked at the whole big picture. I was not completely sold on “liking” what I saw… thus the negative perspective. I realized that I have some work to do! I want to like what I see.  I want to like where I’ve been. And I really want to like where I’m going.

And so the journey began!  I didn’t realize until I opened the pages of this book that I am right here on this journey… at age 53, longing to live a brave and real and gorgeous life… today, tomorrow and every day.  I don’t want to wish away days until something better comes along or changes. I want to be real and courageous today!  I want to live out this life well.

As I unravel years and look closely at my life, I hope by the end I WILL like what I see, where I’ve been and where I’m going. This journey won’t be possible without Jesus, my family and amazing friends.  I have all of those and I’m blessed.

Come along on this journey with me and begin today by stepping back and taking a look at your life.  What do you see?  Do you like it?

Posted in Cats, Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Pets, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized, Vacation/Questions to Ponder

Grief Revisited…

It takes only a song, a smell, a memory shared on FB, a sound, a picture, a date on the calendar… and the grief comes flooding back. Fresh as the day it began.

Today was just that… a date on the calendar. Four months to the day. A time on the clock.  It happened right now. The emotions and sadness and heaviness surfaced back up to the top of the heap.  I’ve worked so hard to let them go… to quell the sadness… to replace the sorrow with sweet memories that make me smile instead of cry. Her reminders around the house have brought me peace and comfort… until today.

Grief doesn’t happen in a straight line.

Those were the best words ever shared with me by a counselor I sat with for a year after my divorce. And how true they were. I’ve shared them with many friends over the past ten years as they’ve walked through the various stages of grief.

Today I was caught off guard and had to practice what I’ve been preaching!

Four months ago the tears were daily… many times a day.  That tapered down to once a day and then several times a week.  Eventually the tears have subsided; replaced by a smile and a little whisper that I miss her.

This afternoon felt raw and fresh.  Tears. That lost feeling deep in my soul. How has it been four months?  It feels like it just happened.

Tonight I’m upstairs preparing a space for a new little kitten (or two!) to join our household. It scares me to turn them loose in our huge old house so I’m creating a space that is smaller and more contained.  Eventually they can graduate to the big house!

As I’m sitting here in my rocking chair that Abigail and I spent many hours sharing, I’m having a moment.  I feel like the widow that visits her late husbands grave asking him to release her to move on and love again. It sounds crazy, but it’s real.  I am, in a sense, asking Abigail to release me to love another kitten or two. Up until now it’s felt like betrayal.  How can I love another cat like I’ve loved Abigail for 16 years?

Tonight’s grief revisited has been a blessing.  It purged another layer of grief and nudged me to begin to prepare for new life in our home.  Once I have the space prepared and the essentials purchased and staged, I will begin the search.  I know God will put the right little eyes and ears in my path at just the right moment.  Our hearts will connect and a new story will begin.

Abigail’s story will not be forgotten.  There will never be another Bubba Girl, but there will be new memories to make and a new one to love and grow with. It’s time. This grief revisited has opened a new door of possibilities and adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cats, Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Healing, Loss, My Journey, Pets, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Our Sweet Girl…

It was a warm Thursday evening in July of 2000. As I strolled past the large box in the garage our eyes met. I stopped in my tracks and said, “You shall be mine and I shall call you Abigail.”

That was our beginning. She sat quietly amidst the rest of the litter as they romped and squirmed. Our love story began in that moment.

The month long wait to bring her home was grueling. After all, our hearts bonded in that quick moment the first time we locked eyes. Anticipation filled my days.

kitten

September 1 finally arrived. I picked her up and brought her home filled with nerves and excitement!  I’d had kittens before, but something about this one seemed different.  Something deep in my soul knew that she would be different.

Abigail Grace…

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In her first 5 years she was Abigail (Grace) Adams.  When you teach 5th grade and US History there is some fun to be had!  She was famous!  Oh I love the innocent gullibility of kids! FYI… she is not related to John Quincy Adams… nor was I for that matter! In those five years many “Abigial” stories were told and she became part of my teaching. The students loved her without ever meeting her in person.

How can a four-legged creature become such an important part of ones life?

Nearly 16 years later this little girl has impacted my life more than I can even put into words.  People talk about the loyalty of dogs.  Don’t ever underestimate a cat… especially this one!

My sweet girl was by my side through a horrific accident of my step daughter, a divorce, a thousand mile move back home, several moves once here and three deaths in my family, not to mention all of the little hurdles life put in my path.  Many tears fell on her sweet little head as I cried and held her… or she held me.

Many say that cats are selfish and only think of themselves. Not my girl. Abigail was very intuitive and knew just the right moment to snuggle in and show her support and affection. IMG_0382

In her first 5 years she was not a lap cat.  She might have jumped up for a minute, but quickly got down.  She only needed to be near us, but not sit with us.

The day back in 2005 that my ex husband moved out I came home to find her in a corner where a piece of furniture had been. Her beautiful green eyes looked up at me with a very sad and confused look. That was the straw that broke for me.  I burst into tears and sat down in the rocker.  Moments later she was sitting in my lap, consoling and comforting.  From that moment on when I sat down she was in my lap or sitting next to me. That continued for the rest of her life.  Intuitive and compassionate she was.

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In 2006 I moved back home.  I reconnected with my first love and we began a relationship. I told him about my cat and he quickly shared that he was not fond of cats. I assured him that Abigail would steal his heart and they would be fine. When I told his young son (age 5 at the time) that I had a cat, he too quickly told me that his daddy didn’t like cats. I assured him that all was well. He then told me that no his daddy  really really didn’t like cats and that he would shoot her in the ass! I guess they had many strays that would hang out in their yard and leave their treasures in the gardens!  We still laugh about that today!

Well, Daddy grew to love Abigail and at times their relationship rivaled mine with the both of them! They had daily moments and routines shared only between the two of them. She did steal his heart! No shooting necessary!

daddy

Today it is very quiet around our house.  We both find ourselves looking  and listening for our sweet girl. I have always said that if you audio taped our home you would think we had a daughter named Abigail! She was an integral part of our days… this little four-legged gift.  She loved unconditionally and with a flare that was all her own!  There will never be another Abigail Grace… Gooty Girl… Bubba Girl… Goots… Pretty Girl…Abergooty…Most Photographed Cat on the Planet!  hands

Rest in Peace Sweet Abigail Grace…IMG_9877

Posted in Circle of Life, Death, Grace, Hope

A Legacy Left Behind…

It’s been a whirlwind since getting the text that dad was back in the hospital… probably pneumonia.  I made a visit that evening to visit him with my brother.  This felt familiar.  At this point in his 90 year old life Dad had made many of these visits.  He was in good spirits for the most part and talked of getting out of there the next day.

The following night I went back to see Dad and we were told that he was more or less given the directive to go home and call hospice.  He would continue to get aspiration pneumonia and there was nothing they could do.  Wow…

Dad was angry.  He hadn’t really given the end of his life much thought, after all the Zags were gearing up to begin a new season.  He told us it was overwhelming news.  Of course…

Three days later they moved him to a care center to rehab and regain strength to be able to go home.  After a visit with four of my siblings a few days later, I knew deep in my heart that he was not going home.

Five days later my dad made a difficult and final decision.  He chose to begin End of Life Care… to begin dying.  He would no longer eat or take his medications.  Any form of swallowing was more and more difficult and he was choking to death.  That was Monday.

I spent the afternoon with him on Tuesday.  He was alert and in fairly good spirits.  He struggled to talk so conversation was minimal.  We held hands and I spent a great deal of time looking at his blue eyes.  His blue eyes that were beginning to lose their life.  His blue eyes that he passed on to me.  His hands were soft and his skin transparent.

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Thursday I went to spend the afternoon with him.  One of my sisters had come from Seattle to say goodbye.  They had some sweet words and I love you’s.  I was also able to look Dad in his blue eyes, holding his hand and tell him that I loved him… very much.  He looked back at me and told me he loved me deeply… deeply.  Those were are last words spoken to each other directly.

An hour and a half after arriving he took out his iPhone and played Mahjong one last time.  Shortly after that he began to slip away. Trying to make him as comfortable as possible we put him in his favorite Zag sweatshirt.  We left the room for a time and when we came back everything had changed.  No more alertness or ability to have conversations.  He was now actively dying.  His breathing changed.  It was just a matter of making him comfortable and waiting… waiting.  Deep in his soul he was probably relieved.  Several days before he told my sister it was taking a long time.  He passed peacefully 14 hours or so later holding the hand of his wife.

What must go through your mind as you lay dying… knowing you are dying.  I learned that once they begin this process, it is more of a spiritual battle than physical.  His body no longer needed anything, but his soul had to make the transition.  We all prayed that he had made his peace with Jesus.  He as expressed earlier in this journey that he had made a great many mistakes in his life and was not sure what was next for him.  My dear brother shared with him from the gospel of John.

“To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he has given them the right to be called children of God.”  John 1:12

It is that simple.  We’ve all made mistakes… he was not alone.  For my dad it came down to one truth… and only God knows what happened in his heart.

I believe God gave my dad a gift.  The gift to time to say goodbye and try to mend some fences.  It’s been a long and tumultuous battle in our family.  Great heartache and sadness, along with wonderful times and sweet memories.  Each of us that he fathered has our own story to tell from our time on this earth with him.  Some of us a little more difficult than others.

So the whirlwind end to my dad’s life has finished.  Yesterday we buried him in a beautiful spot above the river.  Now we each begin to untangle the memories and bring closure to another relationship… our last parental relationship.  We lost our mom suddenly nearly 7 years ago.

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casket

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May the God of hope bring each of us to a place of ultimate forgiveness and peace with the man that gave us life.  And may we live our lives out with strength and courage to remember what was good and right, and let go of what needs to be forgotten.  We are his legacy… and we need to live it out with all that our Father in heaven has given us.