Posted in Battles, Death, Experiences, Grace, Healing, Hope, life happens..., Loss, love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

The Battle Belongs to Him…

Life feels hard right now. Nationwide, people are angry. People are afraid. People are confused. The next four years feel very unsettled. Social media has exploded with all of these feelings and emotions pouring out everyday. I’ve tried hard not to let myself get too caught up in emotion.

Then there is the next layer of heartache.

For some life is hard right now because of very personal battles they are fighting. Their own battles or battles of loved ones. Some are being fought and some battles have been lost. Some are in limbo… waiting. Illness, relationships, death.

These past few weeks I’ve found myself standing in the gap on behalf of many… most I know and a handful I don’t know but have committed to pray for them. I asked God to break my heart for the things that break His. He came through. Daily I’m on my knees interceding for friends and loved ones and strangers… calling on Jesus to bring each one of these precious people just what they need at just the right moment. Peace. Comfort. Healing. Strength. Closure. Grace. Hope. Tears. Laughter. Memories.

At times I’ve felt so helpless, wishing I could do more. Wishing I could be there to give them a hug or sit and listen. I’ve prayed for them to be able to praise the heavens amidst the storm. I’ve prayed for their memories of their loved one to be sweet and comforting. I’ve prayed for healing. I’ve prayed for the stakeholders in the lives of the suffering, for those people also feel the affects of the heartache. Many times all I can do is pray for God’s will in the situation.

As I’ve been interceding on behalf of others, I’ve been reminded of the battles I’ve fought over the years. Difficult battles. Life-changing battles. Lost battles. Battles of loss.

A few of those battles felt as if I’d never recover. Life would never be the same. I would never have joy again. For when I am in the middle of a battle it is easy to lose sight of the other side. I forget that it is being fought by the greatest Warrior of all.

The battle is already won. Is it the outcome I want? Perhaps not. But the God of Hope will be our warrior and bring us the peace and comfort needed to sustain us as we venture on this earthly journey. The older I get and the more battles I see, the more excited I get for eternity. For this life is temporary and heaven is eternal. One day none of this will matter.

But in the meantime… we need to hold on to the hope of Christ.  No matter if our struggles and fears are for the state of our nation or closer to home… there is hope and the battle belongs to the Lord.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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 Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Seasons…Part of Living

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.

“Things really changed,” she said, “when I started to be more generous to myself.”

“I began to try to live like a tree,” she said…

“Who understand that life is filled with seasons and each one has its worth.                                                                        I stopped fearing the leaves falling away, the bare branches.                                                                                                         I understood that spring would come, that summer would come, that it was all a part of my living.”

Seasons.  I love the four seasons where I live! When the seasons change, so does life around us. We do things differently.  Some seasons are more enjoyable than others.  For me, winter is my least favorite.  The sun does not shine as much and it’s cold. It takes more work to be outside.  Occasionally I’m fearful of driving in winter weather.  The lack of sunshine can cause some seasonal affective issues.  We muddle through it and wait for spring.

Seasons of life are much the same.  We experience things that change as time goes on.

Some seasons are wonderful! When relationships are thriving…life is good.  When our job is going well… .life is good.  When our health is strong… life is good.

At times we go through seasons that are not so wonderful.  Troubled relationships… job stress or unemployment… health issues.

When in a season of struggle, I used to pray for it to be over or not happen at all.  Over time I’ve learned to lean into the struggle and ride the wave…waiting for the Lord to show His presence.  He never told us life would be easy, but He did tell us that He would be alongside us or holding us tight.  It took some really difficult seasons for me to learn this.  I’ve learned to praise Him in the storm.

Be still and know that I am God… my favorite Psalm.  It’s being still in winter and finding the joy of the season I like the least. When things are tough, I’ve experienced great peace while life is crumbling around me.  Pressing in to the Lord helps get us through the difficult time and ushers us into the next season.

I’ll be honest.  I’ve never had a difficult season that has lasted for great lengths of time.  I’ve known people that permanently live in struggle… at least in my perception.  They’ve learned to stop fearing the struggle and find the joys. In a sense, they move in and out of joy and struggles in one day.

Seasons come and seasons go… that is all part of our lives.  I want to be like that tree that stands tall and still as the seasons move around me. I want to be strong, even when I feel weak. I want to be full of life, even when I might be empty. I want to be more generous with myself… even when it’s difficult.

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…

last day

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.

IMG_5708

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