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!

Generations · Lessons Learned · Questions to Ponder · Quiet Pleasures · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

Ready to fly…

This past week as has been one of deep sadness, turmoil and grief over lost and broken relationships, people hurting as a result of sin, and the effects of just being worn to the bone, both physically and emotionally. Early morning has been my refuge. Sitting in the quiet kitchen with my prayer shawl (a sweet hand-made gift from my sister, Megan) and cup of coffee, waiting for the sun to come up and the birds to awaken… all the while praying relentlessly. My heart has been heavy for my own hurts and losses, as well as for the needs of others in my life and community. I guess that is what happens when I ask God to ‘break my heart for the things that break Yours’ and He answers…

20130525-115821.jpgAs the days would begin to awaken, so would the birds on our patio. We recently became the proud grandparents of some grandbirds. It’s been fascinating to watch the life of these little creatures begin. Watching the birds has caused me to think about people and how we deal with our ‘baby birds.’

When birds are born, they are very needy. The parents take turns flying to and from the nest with food. Each time they are near, you can hear the babies begin wildly chirping. At times you can see the little orange beaks peeking out of the whole in the birdhouse. Momma or Papa leaves and they calm down. This goes on for several weeks.

As the birds get older, the parents stay away more and mom seems to go in the nest less. That was my cue that they might just be ready to leave the nest and fly. Thursday morning, I was able to witness one of the babies come out of the nest and then eventually fly away. It was really fascinating to watch.

This circle of life made me begin to think about the human race and how we are raising our children. I can see from watching the birds that they are raising their ‘kids’ to get out of the nest and fly. Everything they do is preparing them for independence. Are we raising our kids to be independent and ready? Or are we protecting them too much… doing too much for them?

I watched the first bird come out of the nest and sit on the string of bistro lights hanging near the birdhouse. He/she sat there for some time. When I tried to sneak out onto the patio to take a picture, they flew up into the nearby patio cover. There they sat, not quite ready to fly. By the time I came out ready to leave for work, they were gone and the momma was trying to get the second baby out of the nest.

As an educator, I see hundreds of ‘baby birds’ each day. Some seem independent and on their way to future of self-sufficiency and success. Others make my heart hurt. They don’t have the parents caring for them in a way that will produce happy, healthy adults. They live in nests with great turmoil and strife. Inconsistent parenting or no parenting at all cause these kids to lack what it takes to feel confident and secure about their future. When it is time for them to leave the nest and fly, they won’t be equipped and ready. Storms come and they aren’t able to handle them in a strong, productive way. While they want to be independent and strong, the lack of care and feeding in their lives cause them to act out. What they really want is schedules, rules and boundaries… even though they act as if they don’t.

It’s what we all want to some degree. Knowing that mom or day will fly to that nest with food and care at just the right moment. Knowing that when it’s time to leave the nest, they will have support and encouragement… and be ready.

We can learn a lot about parenting from the birds. God was so detailed and articulate when he created the earth and all of its’ inhabitants. While we are the dominant beings on this earth, we sure can learn a lot from all creatures great and small.

This morning, momma and papa are preparing the nest for the next babies. Papa has been relentlessly pursuing momma this week in between getting the kids ready to fly! I anticipate a new batch of grandbirds anytime soon! Thank you, Lord, that something so simple as the birds on my patio can bring me such peace and comfort… and help me to put life into perspective… at just the right time.

 

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Generations · Gifts · Healing · Lessons Learned · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

Tired…

I’m tired. Really tired. So tired that sometimes I can’t sleep, tired.

The dictionary defines tired as “depleted of strength or energy.”

Did I mention that I’m tired. It’s that tired that comes from trying to do too many things at one time; both emotional and physical. It’s that tired that makes you dream about when you get to go to bed next… as you are getting out of bed in the morning. It’s that tired that makes you feel behind before you even start.

Tired body… tired mind. Those are a deadly combination. Ever lay in bed absolutely exhausted and can’t sleep? Nothing more frustrating. All you want to do is close your eyes and… then your brain kicks in! Every little thing you need to do, forgot to do, want to do over… running through your mind like a triathlete!

Lately, I’ve been so much more exhausted than usual. Trying to focus on academic things has been a struggle. The only thing that seems to work in the wee hours of sleepless mornings is to hang out with God. Lay it all down at the foot of His cross. This past week I’ve been lost in Matthew, reading about Jesus’ last week on this earth. I’ve been a weeping baby recounting the events leading up to the crucifixion. It really does put everything into perspective.

Today we celebrated the Resurrection! After the amazing service, we gathered and shared communion.. It was a deeply powerful moment as my mother-in-law prayed for all of us. Together we partook of His body and blood. What a poignant moment it was. This weekend not only symbolizes the Resurrection, but the beginning of some long overdue healing and renewed relationships in our family.

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Jesus paid the ultimate price… for me… for us… so that we might live. Live a life that glorifies Him. He does not want us to be so burdened on this earth that we are beyond tired. Our rest is in Him.

Generations · Seasons

Let us give thanks… for the memories…

I love fall!  It’s my favorite season!  In that season is nestled my favorite holiday… Thanksgiving!  I love Thanksgiving because it involves family and friends, yummy food, all the beautiful rich-colored fall decorations, and it in a way, forces us all to stop and really reflect on what we are thankful for.  While I need to be thankful every day (and do try), this time of year brings it all to the forefront.

My sister and I were talking this morning about needing a extra large table on which you could set all of the food and the people at one time.  Platters and bowls circle around the table and the food and fellowship is shared with no one needing to get up from the feast.  Does anyone have a table that large anymore?

I have some wonderful memories of Thanksgivings gone by.  One that really stands out is my brother Jeff and his green beans.  I looked down my side of what seemed like our very large dining room table, only to see Jeff with two green beans sticking out of his nose!  I about fell off my chair with laughter, and my parents… well, their reaction was not quite like mine!  It was a classic moment that will live forever in my memories!

Our table was always fabulous!  Out came the china, silver, crystal and cloth napkins!  We were being “green” and did not even know it!  Not only did my mom cook up an amazing meal (except for the Giblet Gravy), she also set a beautiful table. The table was topped off with intricate place holders for each person attending; created by my talented sister, Megan!  I remember pilgrim hats – “pilgrim boy hats” for the boys and “pilgrim girl hats” for the girls!  My other favorite was the beautiful turkeys with little colored feathers!  She must have cut out 500 tiny turkey feathers of all colors, and glued them to these turkeys that sat at the head of our plates to mark our spot.  I’ve tried to do something similar over the years, but will never live up to her fabulous work!  Thanks, Megan!

I loved the dark meat and the skin!  Grandma made killer sweet potatoes every year!  I was not a fan of stuffing or cranberry sauce, but have grown to love them in my wiser years!  I Didn’t care for olives then either… which was a good thing because my sister, Kate, was the queen of disappearing olives!  I think I remember ten olives on someone’s fingers…. oh, another proud “green bean” moment for my parents!  The fruit salad that my mom always made just got in the way of all of the gravy and potatoes, but was mandatory.  Who on earth thinks about eating healthy on Thanksgiving?  Pumpkin pie was the bomb – especially loaded up with fresh whipped cream!  But the crowning glory was the butter!  Yes, I said it… real butter!  Not the fake stuff!  Three times a year the real stuff came out and this was one occasion!  Oh, the sweet memory of real butter dripping out of my white dinner roll!  Yikes, I feel my chest tightening as I type!

My last Thanksgiving memory worth sharing is one that my dear sister Mary brings up every year!  My first Thanksgiving meal that I ever prepared was in my third year of marriage to my first husband.  I set a beautiful table… well, I tired anyway!  We had cloth napkins and a pretty table cloth!  I washed, buttered, seasoned, stuffed and tied up my first turkey ever!  In the oven it went… timer set…. glass of wine poured.  Life was good!  I took a moment to call Mary to wish her well and she began asking about my turkey!  I shared all that I did and how I was now just waiting for the glorious bird to cook!  It was going to be a fabulous first Thanksgiving!  She then proceeded to ask about the little plastic bag of innards.  “What little plastic bag of innards?” I replied!  I frantically hung up, set the wine aside; untied and unstuffed my bird, only to find a little bag of nasty stuff way in the back.  Out it came and I prepared my bird a second time!  Whew!  Crisis averted!  Thanks, Mary!

Memories are sweet, but they can become a bit more faint as the years pass.  When life seems more difficult than usual, memories can bring to mind what was good and right.  Sometimes that is just what we need to take our mind off of the hard stuff in the here and now, and bring some joy from the past to make us smile.  I look forward to making more Thanksgiving memories in the years to come.  While I need to be thankful every day, it’s nice to have that special day each year to bring everyone to a quiet place of thankfulness and to remember.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! 

 

Generations

Generations…

Back in the olden days… you know, the olden days!  What does that mean?  What constitutes “the olden days?”  Is it back when we were not alive or were very young?  The older I get, the more likely it is that I have lived in the olden days.  It seems that the generation that lived in the olden days had it easier than us… life was simpler.  I’ve often thought that I would have done well living long ago… when life was simpler.  

Remember Ma (Caroline) Ingalls… what worries did she have?  She had a little house on the prairie… two rooms with a loft! She did not have to clean toilets!  Her menu choices were small so meal planning must have been a piece of cake!  She lived on the prairie and did not have to mow the lawn or rake leaves.  Heck, in the winter they were snowed in their cabin so she didn’t even have to shovel!  Christmas shopping was a breeze… oh ya, they didn’t do it!  She did not have to send Christmas cards.  I’m sure life was much easier!  

Fast forward to our parent’s generation – early to mid 1900’s.  You know, the black and white time.  As a little girl, I was so sad for anyone living in the olden days… their lives were so gray.  How hard could they have had it?  Moms stayed home and prepared the home for the arrival of their husbands.  Kids played outside, just coming in for meals.  During the depression there was no food so they didn’t even have to come in to eat.  The streets were safer, with no petty crimes – only gangsters… and they hung out in the big cities! Families whistled as they walked down the street and all kids had respectful friends like Eddie Haskel.  I’m sure life was much easier!

Continue forward to our generation – 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.  You know, the time of really amazing hair and clothing!  Our biggest worry was which leg warmers to wear over our stretch pants.  Or did we have all of our homework done in time for Wonderful Word of Disney on Sunday nights… right after Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?  45’s were $1.00 at Newberrys (plus the bus fair to get downtown) and candy really did cost a penny at the Milk Bottle on Garland!  Movies at the Fox were double headers… two for the price of one!  Life WAS much easier!

So, here we are today… 2011… 21st Century… the present day… you know, WAY in the future!  Technology rules our lives.  Phones with a cord are obsolete.  Everything is instant and fast and ever-changing.  Who needs to be ready to watch our favorite program because we will just DVR it!  We don’t watch shows about talking cars or wild animals… we watch crime drama’s and reality TV.  If you don’t like what the family is doing or watching, just pull something different up on your computer or one of the other three TV’s in the house.  Who needs to use good old fashioned verbal communication anymore… we have texting!  Never mind actually getting together to share a meal or visit.  No time!  

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and our youth are living it large!  The world where kids respect adults and care about others… not there.  The world where kids play a neighborhood game of Kick The Can together… not there.  They stand around and text each other.  Words that we would never even have considered saying or actually said out loud are now common language…”it’s just the way we talk.”  A world of “reach out and touch someone” has taken on a total different meaning.  This generation is entitled… or so they think.  

It’s NOT easier, but it’s all they know.  The way we lived was all we knew!  I often think about how each generation truly believed that they were on the cutting edge of technology and life!  Life has always changed, but not at the rate it is today.  I think the Ingalls were on to something moving there family out onto the prairie away from the hustle and bustle of the city!  Some days I long to live in a time that was easier… you know when movies were a nickel and everyone walked barefoot to school… uphill both ways… in the snow!