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 Fun, Gifts, Grace, Hope, My Journey, Quiet Pleasures, The Journey, Uncategorized, Vacation

Sacred Indulgence…

This past week I went on a trip to visit my sister. Away from home. Away from all of the responsibilities of my daily life.

While on my little getaway, we snuck away for a few days to a spa on the bay.  On our way up we detoured and visited the tulip fields – a bucket list item for me. We took a sonic drive off the beaten path and the scenery was spectacular. Once to our destination the sun began to peak out. Our room was beautiful and the view spectacular. We ate out, walked along the water, shopped, and strolled around the little town.  We also just relaxed and did a little bit of nothing.

While this was amazing, I found myself thinking about all of the things I should have been attending to at home during spring break.

Many people I know take these little trips all the time. It’s their normal. Not mine. This isn’t even a once a year even for me. It was truly a treat!

My ability to let down and relax is difficult. After all, I should be home taking care of my responsibilities. Now was the time to test a new way of thinking and acting!

On our last evening, we scheduled massages at the spa. Wow! The experience from start to finish was wild.  Like nothing I’ve ever done. It was all about me the entire time. Life is rarely all about me. I’m all about everyone else from my job to my home. I spend most every day taking care of others.

I found parts of the spa experience easy to partake of, while others were difficult. The hardest part was not talking for an entire hour! And for that one hour I did absolutely nothing! I was completely still except for the actual massage happening. That doesn’t even happen when I sleep, as I toss and turn all night!

The massage was just part of a week of indulgences.  An indulgence is the attitude of allowing yourself or someone else to have something enjoyable. It was a wonderful time! I had to step out of myself and let people “indulge” me. I had to…no, I GOT to… receive rather than give. That is a tough one for me.  It is difficult for me to let others do for me. I am much more comfortable giving than receiving.

As I’ve contemplated the week, I’ve been drawn to think about my relationship with the Lord. I’m good at giving to Him. I give Him my “prayers” or lists of things I’d like Him to help me with.  I give Him time most days, but honestly I’m usually pretty busy during that time. The hard part for me is what I’m going to call a “sacred indulgence.” It’s that time where I get to let Jesus love on me and I do absolutely nothing but receive from him. It’s that time when I am being still and know that He is God… He is in control, not me. Quieting myself to receive all that He has for me. Indulging in His grace and love. It’s free and I don’t have to travel far from home. It costs nothing but my intentional, uninterrupted time and willingness to let go and let Him love on me…a sacred indulgence. 

Posted in Gifts, Grace, Healing, Hope, Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Spring Rains…

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We are teased with the spring sunshine and warmth.  Then the rains come. Spring rains… it’s necessary for the earth to open up and grow and flourish. Without it life would not bloom and blossom.  Life would wither and die.

I longed for the sunshine this morning as I awoke after a restless night.  Those first morning rays glimmering through the newly budding maple trees are stunning and life-giving.  They bring a feeling of hope to the day.  I can see God’s handiwork and loving touch as I look out into my yard.  Not today… it was raining.

At times, the spring rains can close in on us and feel like a dark shroud… if we let it.  I determined myself this morning to see the rain as a gift.  A gift to our earth.  A gift to my soul.

Rains wash away the dirt and grime, providing a fresh sheen on everything. They clear out the sky so when the sun does shine, it’s extra blue an clear!  It’s worth the wait.  The same way it refreshes our earth, it also refreshes my soul.  It’s a pause in my heart to let Jesus clear out the dirt and grime that have built up.  I’m a bit more hopeful as I await the blue sky that will peak through eventually.

In the meantime, I’ll hunker down and take this pause to rest and refresh as I listen to the drops hit the metal patio cover.  Hopeful for what is to come…

“God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing a wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.  We fall to our knees – we call out, “Glory!”  (Psalm 29:9)

Posted in Gifts, Grace, Healing, Health, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Just For Today…

Today I have a day.  A week day.  A bereavement day.  A day all to myself.  A day to rest.  A day to invest in some self-care.  A day…

Awake before the crack of dawn because of the time change, I reluctantly got out of bed much earlier than I had hoped.  If I’d lay there any longer, my mind would have gone to all of the things that I should be doing at work on this day I’ve taken for me.

Up and holding a hot cup of coffee I sat to enjoy the quiet of the very early morning.  Instantly my brain goes into list-making mode.  Looking around at my house that has seriously been neglected for the past 6 weeks, I began to create my to-do list for my day off.  Added to that list was an errand for my husband.  Both of us working full time makes mid-week errands a bit more difficult.

Suddenly, I had a long list of things that needed to be done.  Excellent!!  I have an extra day to try to get ahead!  WHAT?????

What happened to “my” day?  A day to lay low.  A day to recoup all that has been lost over the past busy weeks.  A day to call my own.  A day to rest with Jesus and find some peace.

Hmmmm… that thing we call “life” has once again gotten in the way.  Why is it so hard to put aside all of the stuff we need to get done and just be?  The dishes are done.  The leaves are raked (for now!).  Can laundry wait one more day?  The dust will still be on the mantle tomorrow and will gladly wait for me, adding to its already beautiful collection!  How horrible would it be to crawl back in bed with a good book?  The bank closes at 5:00.  I’ve got time!

Ahhhh, time.  That precious thing that I’m not very adept at managing.  Tomorrow I’m back on the gerbil wheel hitting it hard.  For now… just for today… I’m going to work hard at not working hard!

I’m going to enjoy this cool fall day all snuggled in my warm house – thankful for all of that which I’m blessed with.  I will not feel guilty that I should be working and that many of you are working right now.  I’m laying guilt at the foot of the cross and basking in this day set before me.  My heart is full of thanksgiving…

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Posted in Circle of Friends, Fun, Grace, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized, Vacation, Wordless Blog

Summer 2013…

The summer of 2013 has come to an end … too much to write about and too complex to summarize in words.  Ups, downs, joys, sorrows, laughs, friends, milestones, celebrations, growth, tears, healing, sunshine, family, loss … I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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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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