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 Generations, Hope, Humor, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Poetry Writing. Family. Growing up, Seasons, The Journey

Where I’m From…

I’ve joined a month long writing group and our first assignment was to get in touch with where we came from. We were tasked with writing a poem…not my strong area! The format came from a poem written by George Ella Lyons. So, today I become a bit more vulnerable in my writing and share with you a snippet of Where I’m From…

Where I’m From…

I am from “Kevin, Mary, Kathy, Mike, Megan, Jeff, Jenny, Matt”
and a kitchen table made from a door!
From children that were to be seen and not heard and ironing hankies.
From the big house on the corner with lots of gardens to weed.

I am from the front pew of church full of legs trying not to swing
and the white baptismal dress passed down.
From real butter and link sausage on Christmas and Easter.
From a teacher, a newspaper man, and seven of eight.

I am from pine needle houses and imaginary horses.
From half cheese glasses of juice, cookie cans above the stove
and hot dogs roasted over the fire.
From Herb Alpert and Firestone Christmas albums.

I am from people who loved me even if they struggled to show it.
From Sunday night pot roast and Wonderful World of Disney.
From beach fires, skinny dipping, inner tubes, bee stings and
the deep blue waters of Bead Lake.

I am from hard times and amazing times.
From a family torn apart…
But a childhood lived well.

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Posted in Generations, Gifts, Grace, Healing, Hope, Prayers, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Our Father Who Are in Heaven…

Early this morning I sat on my patio amidst a spring/summer rain storm taking in the sights and sounds… wrapped in a blanket with a hot cup of coffee.  Our birdhouse hung quiet and seemingly empty.  After a time, Dad swooped in and landed on the birdhouse perch.  For the past two weeks that would have brought hungry and noisy babies to the hole searching for food.  This morning the hole was quiet.  Dad sat there very still, then looked in the house and all around.  No babies.  After 16 days of life, they have flown the coop.  He seemed a bit distraught and worried, yet I sensed calm satisfaction.

Ironically, today is Father’s Day.  I guess he can feel good about raising up his babies and helping them become independent and able to be on their own.

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Today is a day for Father’s to be honored and remembered and celebrated.  For some, today is a happy, joyous day.  Strong relationships with their father/children allow this day to be a day of celebration with or without.  Memories old and new surface and happiness fills the air.

For others, today brings great sadness and heartache.  Father’s lost…relationships tarnished or lost.  Hurt and regret and sadness cloud the day.  I can think of three friends that are grieving the loss of their fathers in the past year and for one, the past two weeks.  While good memories are there, they are buried deep underneath the sorrow and grief that hang low in the air right now.  For some, there are no good memories… only hurt and pain.

I think about the fathers that are suffering today.  Lost relationships with children.  Current relationships that are difficult and challenging… all the while testing that deep unconditional love of a father.  My heart is heavy for them today.

As I’m watching people around me rejoice and struggle, I’m brought to my knees with my own grief and sorrow and joy.  I am clinging to the hope for all of us… the hope of our heavenly father.  Our unconditionally loving father.  Our eternal father.

Much like the father bird this morning, He perches up in heaven watching out for us.  Coming back to see if we are there.  If we are okay.  He coaxes us out of the birdhouse when we need it.   He protects us when we are out and on our own.  He brings us food when we are hungry and can’t find it ourselves.  He is constant…

Earthly fathers can only give what they have been given.  For some that is greater than others.  The roll of a father is precious and difficult and bittersweet.  Today my heart is yearning for every father to feel loved and valued and honored and cherished… not only by earthly beings but also our father who art in heaven.

Posted in Generations, Gifts, Grace, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Questions to Ponder

There Will Be A Day…

One minute everything seems to be okay.  Life seems quiet.  No storms.  Just when you think things are quieting down… taking a turn in the right direction.  Then the phone rings late.  I can hear a voice talking loudly on the other end.  The curtain has once again come down.

I crawl into bed, hoping to just ignore it all and let sleep distract me.  Nope.  It didn’t happen.  Restless and not wanting to keep him awake, I escape to the living room to walk and pray.  Pray about what?  I know nothing about what is going on.  “Discipline issues.”  That’s all he said to me.

Although the sun is shining and it’s vacation, life is still happening around me.  Life has been happening around us for quite a while now and I’ve often wondered if other’s feel the same struggles we do?  It’s like being on a roller coaster… up and down and up and down.  Some times faster than others.

Eight years ago I found myself alone after 8 years of marriage.  I was settling into this new life and then an old life emerged and changed everything.  I fell in love again with a man I’d never really stopped loving. I’m in love with that man today.  Our love changed my world, moving me back from whence I came.

Then reality set in.  I’m in love with someone that is hurt and broken and struggling.  We are a pair to draw from.  I’m the same way.  Just when I think I have it together…I’m reminded that I don’t!.  MY demons rear their ugly heads.

It’s like when you throw a rock into a calm lake.  The rock hits the water and then ripples out.  No matter the size of the stone or the force of the throw, it still ripples out.  Sometime the ripples seem to go out further and further, as if they will never stop.

Our lives have that same effect.  For everythingthing we say or do, there are ripples of effect.  Some good.  Some sad.  Some hard.  Some amazing.  Most of those ripples involve others.  The stakeholders in our lives.  My hurt and pain and choices, all in some way or another, effect those in my life.  My mood and emotions engulf those around me.   Is that fair?

There is an old saying, “you hurt those you love the most.”  Is that fair?  It sends the most confusing message.  I love you, therefore I am going to hurt you.  How many times have we been the recipient of this?  The giver of this?  Our world is made up of fallen beings.  The sin in the garden set that one in motion.  It’s part of who we are and what we do.  Does that make it right?  Are we forgiven?  God forgives.  Some people forgive.  I forgive some people.  I’m fallen.  You are fallen.  Together we are fallen.

My heart that was heavy an hour ago has lightened a bit. The sun is shining and I’m on vacation.  I was also gently reminded that while other can cause grief and heartache for me, I do the same. It’s easy to get caught up in a “they hurt me” mentality,” losing sight of our place in this broken world.

When I think I’ve got my ducks all lined up… then WHAM!  They all fly away loudly!

A song by Jeremy Camp called There Will Be a Day, popped into my head as I sit writing this morning.

 

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have

But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab

The many trials that seem to never end, His endless Word declares this truth

That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings

That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears

No more pain, no more fears

There will be a day when the burdens of this place 

Will be no more , we’ll see Jesus face to face

But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always

In the meantime, as we live in this fallen world with hurting people just like ourselves, we have a hope on the horizon.  I’m holding tight to that today.

I’ve let myself get so caught up in the everyday mire that I temporarily lost sight of what I hold do dearly… my hope in Jesus.  He’s got this one.  He’s got all of the late night phone calls, the tears, the child-rearing heartaches, the relationship struggles, the past hurts and suffering… as well as the joys and celebrations.  We will have all of this with those we love and yes, we will hurt those we love.

But there will be a day…

broken

rapids

shoes

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Posted in Generations, Gifts, Grace, Healing, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Oh, the tangled web we weave…

Seasons come and seasons go.  Autumn is that season when most of what we know to be beautiful and vibrant slowly loses life and dies.  Our once green trees and colorful flowers lose their luster and eventually fall to the ground…either gone forever or lying dormant for the winter.  Some very quickly and some taking longer. No two seasonal changes are exactly the same… each happening at just the perfect moment.

IMG_3113IMG_3117IMG_3118There comes a moment in time when it is our final season.  We won’t go into hiding for the winter and them revive in the spring.  This fall I lost my sister.  She laid down one afternoon and Jesus decided that her seasons on this earth were to come to an end.  The hope in that, is now she is perfect.  She won’t have to endure the hardships that challenged her  seasons… the relationships that break her heart… the weakness that overcame her body. She has been made whole.  Her vibrant beauty will last for eternity.

IMG_3115I know if you asked her, she would have preferred more time on this earth to live, love, and laugh.  In our human minds, her life was cut short.

My sister’s sudden death has taken me to some deep, dark, sad, lonely, and yet sweet places.  I’ve mulled over her life… my place in her life… my life…the lives of my family.

While spending time in Seattle, I have twice now seen the absolute beauty of the orb spiders and the intricate webs they spin.  Early in the morning they are magnificent!

IMG_3094As much as I hate spiders, these little guys and their webs were hard not to look at!  The intricate detail… the consistent patterns.  Some were practically perfect and others had flaws, yet they withstood early morning dew and light winds.  If one was partially or completely destroyed, they began again to rebuild… I’m imagining even stronger.  The resolve of these spiders is worth learning from.

IMG_3100IMG_3102IMG_3104I’ve thought a lot about my life and the life of my sister.  I’ve thought about how each day we are “spinning our web” as we go through life.  Some days our webs seem more perfect than others.  Some days the flaws are hardly noticeable and other days… glaring.  Some days our webs are completely wiped out.  How we choose to deal with that is entirely up to us.

Do we choose to immediately rebuild and work to make it even stronger?  Do we move to a new location where our web might be more protected from the harsh things of the world?  Do we rejoice in the imperfections and see the hand of our Creator in them, or do we hide away and compare our webs (ourselves) to those around us?  Do we join in with the community of others and work to make ourselves stronger through the interactions with others?  Or do we choose to go at it alone?

IMG_3105When I first saw these webs and had an idea to write a blog, the words that popped into my head were, “Oh the tangled web we weave.”  As I’ve spent time thinking and praying and contemplating my life… that statement became very real to me.

This past year my web has seemed very tangled and extremely imperfect.  It’s been taken out several times and each time I’ve had to rebuild.  I wish I could say that it was more perfect and consistent each time I did, but I can’t.  Some storms it has been able to withstand the harsh conditions and others it was completely destroyed.

I’ve learned though, that I can NEVER stop rebuilding.  I must always spin again and call on the help of others if needed.  My web must not be isolated from those around me.  Community is important and essential. Thank you, to those of you that have been or are, a part of my community and imperfect, tangled web I call my life!

IMG_3119PS… I have the name of a fabulous web designer!  Message me for His name!

Posted in Generations, life happens..., Questions to Ponder, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Uncategorized

A Legacy Left Behind…

I recently spent the afternoon with a dear friend of a very very long time. We went on a photography adventure! Before arriving at our decided-upon destination, we made a detour to the cemetery so we could check on her dad’s headstone. What a peaceful and beautiful place…

IMG_1303-2 IMG_1306 IMG_1308There were no other people around… just the sprinklers working hard to keep the lawns beautiful. The sun was shining and it was wonderful. My friend had spent a great deal of time in the cemetery growing up visiting the graves of her family. She took me on a tour of this amazing resting place on the hill.

We ended up in the oldest section of the cemetery grounds. The place was filled with large tombstones. We had to get out and explore! These were the final resting places for people born in the 1800’s. It was breathtaking.

IMG_1325The monuments represented men, women and children. Some were very old when they passed and others were very young. This tombstone was for a 20 year old wife. We were stunned when we did the math and realized how young she was. Her monument was large and beautiful. I wonder what kind of a legacy she left behind after 20 short years on this earth.

IMG_1322If only these stones could talk. The stories they would tell. We saw names that were obviously well-known people from our community… with the family name still alive and well. Most were probably just ordinary people who led ordinary lives. Lives that left a legacy during a time where grand things were created to remember them.

Imagine if each tombstone suddenly had a movie screen, showing the person’s life. How fascinating that would be… hopefully. What if the legacy we left behind was not so positive? Would you want anyone watching your life play out after you are gone?

We live in a day and age where cemetery burials are fewer and further between. Many people opt for cremation and then the scattering of the ashes. You certainly don’t see fancy tombstones such as the ones we visited. Out of sight… out of mind. If there is nothing for people to visit, will they remember us?

When I see really old grave stones, it makes me wonder if anyone living today actually knew the person. When I’m gone, how long will it be before no living person remembers me? I won’t have a grand tombstone as a reminder of the life I lived. Hopefully, the legacy I leave will be delible enough that a large monument won’t be needed to remember me.

IMG_1314 IMG_1319 IMG_1318 IMG_1317 IMG_1340 IMG_1342 IMG_1323I realized on that afternoon that a cemetery is a place with no stress or worries. Peaceful… quiet… serene… calming… prayerful. I look forward to visiting again soon.

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Posted in Generations, Humor, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Seasons, The Journey

It’s Only a Number…

This year’s birthday sentiments started a bit earlier than my actual day after posting about a weekend getaway celebrating my upcoming 50th birthday. Another post mentioned that seeing 50 on a card seemed seemed a bit harsh for a few moments! I’ve decided to make a list of all of the birthday comments I’ve received this year around age. Thanks to everyone for the good wishes, but especially the advice and wisdom. Come to think of it, most of these comments are from those who have gone before me! It truly is wisdom!

1. It only hurts for a bit… hang on!
2. It’s the new 30… you are as old as you think!
3. You are as young as you feel!
4. Welcome to the world of AARP!
5. It’s just a number!
6. Just means you’ve been awesome for half of a century!
7. It just keeps getting better after 50… honest!
8. You start getting great discounts!
9. It’s just a number that man created, but if you feel young, you’ll be young.
10. In 10 years you will wish you were 50, so live it up!
11. Welcome… it’s actually not too bad over here!
12. Remember that age is a matter of mind over matter… except when your body joints crackle!
13. In reality, it’s the last day of your 50th year when you hit 50!
14. It’s the 26th anniversary of your 24th birthday!
15. It’s the start of the next 50 years of my life and I get to make all of the choices!
16. Just tell yourself, “I am only ___” and you can, in your mind, become that!
17. Just numbers… that’s all!
18. Look on the bright side. In 5 years you can order off the SENIOR menu at Denny’s!

I’ve been blessed with 50 years on this earth. I’m encouraged by all of the well-wishes I’ve received thus far. I’m encouraged to make every minute count and live life, not based on a number, but on love and friendship and the privilege of serving others.

Yesterday, I found out that a friend from HS passed away suddenly. A few weeks ago on FB, she posted pictures from her 50th birthday celebration and of her new grandchild. While her death most likely had little to do with her age, it tends to put things into perspective. The perspective is that no matter how young or old we are, life is fragile and can be taken from us in an instant. Whatever age we are, we need to embrace our life in the here and now. Love those around us. Make choices that will leave a positive mark on our story. We never know when the number after our dash will show up (1963 – __ ). What story lies within the distance between those numbers, be it long or short? I believe the story that my friend left behind blessed many many people and will continue to for years to come. That is the kind of legacy I want my dash to hold.

I’ll leave you with this… no matter your age, just remember these words… RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE AS OLD AS YOU’VE EVER BEEN!