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?

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?

Circle of Friends · Grace · Hope · Prayer · Seasons · Standing in the Gap · Struggles · Uncategorized

Standing in the Gap…

I love to pray.  I love when people reach out for prayer and I can intercede on their behalf. I don’t take prayer lightly.  When I say I will pray for someone, I pray.  I stand in the gap for them.

A friend recently asked me what I meant by “stand in the gap.” She had her idea of what it meant, but she wanted to know what I meant by it.

I once heard “standing in the gap” used and I liked it.  It was a different way to say I’m praying for you. It originates from the Bible verse in Ezekiel 22:30.

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  (NLT)

The wall in this verse refers to people united in there efforts to resist evil. It was unsuccessful because it was built on religious rituals and messages not founded on God’s will. The people were crying out for spiritual reconstruction. (Taken from NIV Life Application Bible Commentary)

When someone is hurting and in need of prayer, I like to stand before God in that space where the enemy resides as he tries to intervene and destroy.  Cries for prayer send the enemy into action. He slips into that gap between the person and God.  I like to stand in that gap and keep the enemy out, calling on God on their behalf.

When I’m reaching out for prayer, I’m not always at my strongest spiritually.  I love knowing that I can reach out to others to stand in that gap and keeping that space holy and sacred… keeping the enemy out.

Standing in the gap…

When we pray for someone we are doing just that. It’s not a fancy version of praying or better than praying.  It IS praying.  We all do it when we reach out and pray for another soul. This brings me great comfort.

Grace · Healing · Prayers · Struggles · The Journey

#lovewins

This morning I’m irritated.  I’m irritated because it’s way too hot for the end of June and I didn’t sleep worth a darn last night.  I’m irritated because it’s only 9:15 and almost too hot to be on my patio.

This morning I’m also disappointed.  I’m disappointed in myself and in people in general.  Why?

Yesterday, June 26, 2015, our US Supreme Court ruled that all states must honor gay marriage.  For the past 24 hours I have remained quiet on the issue, only checking a few “like” buttons on people’s FB posts.  I’ve only checked those on which I know only a few people will see that I agreed with what they said…those whom share the same belief.

Thus enters my disappointment in myself.  I’ve not felt strong enough to publicly expose my views on the topic of gay marriage.  What will those who believe differently than I think of me?  Will they publicly call me out on FB and possibly unfriend me?  Will life-long friendships be lost because we disagree on an issue that I believe is tearing our nation apart?

Even as I type this I can feel a sense of anxiety coming over me.

Several years ago, an older gentleman came to my door asking if I was a registered voter.  I told him I was.  What transpired next shocked me on many levels.  He was delighted to hear I was and instructed me to sign his petition.  I calmly asked what the petition was about and then proceeded to tell him that I will absolutely NOT sign because I did not agree with it.  He proceeded to tell me that was a shame and walked away from my  doorstep.  And that was that.  I closed the door and realized that I had a very  strong opinion on the issue. That was the beginning of me realizing that I don’t have to support what everyone thinks I should or says I should.  I am free to believe in whatever I choose to support.

I am a Christ-follower and have been for 29 years. I’m not a deep theologian or master of the Bible.  I’ve often joked during deep theological discussions with my brother that he is more “Charles Wesley” and I am more “Max Lucado!” ( No offense Max!  Your  writing is straightforward and easy for me to understand!)  I would not say I’m very deep in my theological thinking but I love Jesus with everything in my being.  I need things spelled out pretty plain and simple.

As a Christ-follower, I’ve always been pretty swayed by what I’m involved with.  If the masses are believing it then I must as well.  I’ve never really allowed myself to disagree with what everyone else is agreeing with.  I’m a peace-maker and don’t want to rock the boat.

FB has become a place for people to share political and religious opinions.  I totally stay away from politics.  I might share a “religious” thought but have never told another person that what they believe is right or wrong.  I just share my heart  hoping to encourage one who needs it and leave it at that.  I’m not scripturally strong, but love The Word.  Can I quote it?  Not much.  Can I pull out a verse on the fly to make a point?  Not really.  but I’m okay with that.

Yesterday, FB blew up!  Rainbows and #lovewins were and still are everywhere.  Along with those are many scripture references and downright words of hate and malice.  Thus my disappointment in people.

As I grapple with making my heart known publicly, I have resolved to NOT apologize for my beliefs, nor do I need to justify one way or another what I think and feel.

Am I risking friendships?  Possibly.

Does that make my heart sad? Yes.

One apology that I will make is to my dear friends from many years ago in CA, Gabe and Michael.  They had a marriage ceremony that I did not attend.  I was opposed to what they were doing and I could not justify being there in support.  (At that time I also only watched G movies as well…) I hear I missed a fabulous party!  Today they are two amazing men sharing a life together with two amazing sons!  To you, my friends, I’m sorry that my narrow-mindedness kept me from celebrating with you.

I am blessed with many friends.  Black, white, native, fat, thin, young, old, single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, straight, happy, unhappy, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist…the list goes on.  Regardless of the label or labels that each one may hold, they – no WE, are all people who love and desire to be loved.

I had a very dear friend come to me in tears years ago out at camp.  She was dreading telling me something very important to her because I was a Christian and she was sure I would disapprove and no longer like her.  She shared that she was a lesbian.  I was so sad that she thought I would not still love her after hearing that.  That was the beginning of my eyes opening up.

My world is full of people – gay and straight.  I love them all!  God has called me to LOVE with abandonment, no matter what.  Love God and love people.  I’ve watched my Christian brother and sister, along with their spouses grapple with the reality of a gay/lesbian child.  When a belief system is rocked to the core, it’s difficult.  All of them chose love.  They chose to “stay in the room” with their children; loving and supporting all the way.  That’s how it should be… in my humble opinion.

Sin is sin.  We ALL struggle with it every day.  Yes, God hates sin, but He DOES NOT HATE THE SINNER.  If you are going to disapprove of someone because they want to legally be with the one they love, then disapprove of me… for I’m sure I’ve done something sinful that you disapprove of as well.  Sin is sin… but love is what God calls us to do.  In the words of a very wise young girl back when she was ten (she is now 13), ‘Why does it matter who you marry as long as you love each other?”
We will all have to stand before our Creator one day and account for all we’ve done.  No one is exempt.  I believe in my heart and mind, simple as it may be, that we have God in a box.  Today I chose to love… no matter what lifestyle a person chooses.  I’m elated for my family and friends who finally get to legally share a life with the one they love.  I’m thinking out of the box and doing what God is calling me to do… Love regardless.

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Dedication…

Several mornings ago I noticed two crows perched out on our trailer.  They reminded us of the birds on the Windex commercial!  The sat and didn’t move for a very long time.

IMG_2466Not long after that, I noticed a lone crow sitting in the middle of the yard.  He didn’t move much and when I walked out into the yard he only fluttered and hopped away from me.

IMG_2467The Windex Birds began squawking at me.  I left for work hoping that they would all be gone when I returned home.  These black winged creatures are very noisy at very early hours of the morning.

That evening I went out to water the plants and noticed my little friend was still hanging around, now in a different part of the yard.  I simply walked past him and the Windex Birds swooped my head!  Can you say Alfred Hitchcock?  I began to put two and two together.  The lone crow is wounded in some way and can’t fly.  The Windex Birds are his body guards.  As long as he is here, they will also.  Fabulous!  Every so often they call in all of their friends and the trees fill with loud crows squawking!

Now fast forward to today.  I arrive home from work and our little friend is sitting beneath a fir tree near my car.  The Windex Birds are not as present as they have been.  My little friend is not moving much and has labored breathing.  I think he is not long for this world.  Our neighborhood is filled with cats and I’m very surprised that he has not yet been dinner for one of them.  I found myself praying for him tonight and asking God to take him quickly and not let him suffer.  I know… I’m praying for the crows that keep me awake at night!  He seems so helpless and alone.

IMG_2493 IMG_2499 IMG_2497I’ve learned this week that crows are very smart birds and extremely devoted.  As long as my little bird is around, the Windex Birds will be as well.  They have his back. The have not left. Dedication.

It reminds me of the Marine that never left the side of the young man killed in May.  He was with him 24/7 until he was home and delivered to his family.  And after that, he stayed with the family to walk them through the final details.  Dedication.

It also reminds me of Jesus.  He is with me always.  When I am weak and wounded, he watches and waits with me.  When I am alone and isolate myself, He is with me in my loneliness.  When the enemy tries to attack me,Jesus swoops in to protect me.  He will never leave me.  Dedication.  Reminds me of the crows.

As I said earlier, I think my little friend is not long for this world.  The Windex Birds sense it as well.  They are less aggressive and their presence is not as noticeable.  Too bad my little friend does not have the gift of eternity that I have.  He will leave this world and it’s done.  Thankfully that is not the case for you and me!  We move on to glorious eternity!  And Jesus will continue to watch over us.  Forever dedicated.

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Solitude…

I am one who “needs” to be around others.  Alone time for me has always been difficult.  The first time I lived alone I was a mess.  Growing up in a large family, there were always people around.  For the past 28 years I’ve been in a profession where I am around 200+ people every day.  Being alone has never been easy.

Going out in public alone used to terrify me.  I was older than I’d like to admit when I finally went to the mall alone.  I’ve only eaten in a restaurant alone a few times and it was fast food.  Never would I go to a sit-down place alone.  I have never been to a movie alone.  That is on my bucket list!

Today I found myself home alone unexpectedly.  Normally I’d lose myself in a book or movie… or maybe be productive and do some household chore.  The weather today is absolutely gorgeous and I knew I had to get outside.  Yard work did not appeal to me… although it would have been a good choice!

I decided to hop in my car and head to a local winery to scope out a photo shoot location for tomorrow.  I headed to Arbor Crest with my camera in hand.  It is very strange to be at a place and not know or talk to anyone.  It was an hour of solitude and beauty.  I wandered and shot and wandered and shot.  I did run into my niece and her fiancé, but our visit was short and sweet.  I continued on my way, relishing the quiet beauty and sunshine.  There were several other people their alone with a glass of wine and a book.  Hmmm… I might have to try that!  That is very out of my comfort zone, but worth a try!

I’m learning that I need to be okay being alone.  God has me in a season and I’m  not sure what he is preparing me for, but I’m open to try new things and find another side of myself that I’ve not met yet.  I felt great peace and solitude wandering in a beautiful place with my camera in my hand.  Photography is becoming quite theraputic for me and I’m grateful for the opportunities I am afforded.

Here is a glimpse of what I saw from behind my camera lens…

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28 Days · exercise · Grace · Health · Hope · Lessons Learned · life happens... · Prayers · Questions to Ponder · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey

It’s Not a Sprint…

As I continue down this path to better health, I’m learning more and more about myself each day.  Today I ventured out on another walk by myself.  I’m rather enjoying these solo treks as they give me time to breathe, process, let go, pray and just BE.  I decided to head to the high school and walk the track on this sunny day, knowing the entire track would be in the bright sunshine!  I have a routine. First I begin in lane one and each time I loop around I switch to another lane working my way to lane 8.  Walking alone gives me “think time.”

Today I had a huge revelation about myself and why I chose to go to the track and not walk the neighborhoods.  The track is predictable.  I know where I am, where I’m going and how to get home.  When I walk the neighborhoods, I am not always sure where I am.  I get caught up in looking at yards and houses, allowing my mind to get distracted by those things.  On the track, I don’t have to think about where I am or where I’m going.  Being that this whole exercise thing is something I’m learning to like, it felt good to have a little control of the situation.  I like things to be planned out and predictable.  I wish I were more spontaneous and daring.  I love the comfort of the track.

Today there were three high school girls there with a track coach.  They were warming up and then moved to the other side of the track and were working on starts for their sprints.  They were coming out of those starting blocks very quickly.  I tried to steer clear of their work while still keeping to my 1-8 lane progression!  As I watched them come up out of those blocks quickly, I realized something else about my journey.  This journey is not a sprint.  I can’t think that I can do everything fast and furious to get quick results.  I did not get fat overnight and I won’t change overnight.

Today is Day 15 and I was very discouraged over the weekend.  I don’t look different at all.  I feel better, but nothing has changed as far as my body.  Another mindset that I need to let go of.  Just because I have done good things for a few weeks does not mean I’m good to go and a changed woman!  Past failures can be linked to this very mindset flaw.  I’m in this for the long haul, not for a short sprint.  I am changing old habits and old belief systems.  First and foremost, my goal is better health so I can live my remaining days on this earth active and able to fulfill God’s calling on my life.  I want to feel good each day as I get out of bed and have energy to attack the day!  I want to be fit for the day when we have grandchildren!  It is not going to happen overnight.  It’s a daily decision I make to love myself enough to make good choices and afford myself the time to take care of ME.

My initial goal was February.  I can do anything for 28 days.  After that I was not sure what I would do, because deep down I thought that in those 28 days my life would be transformed and I would be “normal.”   I’m still looking to the end of February to celebrate the initial goal I set, but I know that I like this and want to continue into the rest of my days!  I’ve now set another goal for my 52nd birthday and I honestly think I can get there!  Funny thing about it is that it’s going to take time and energy and work… all things that I have to do.  No one can do them for me.  I have to love myself enough to make it work!  My biggest supporter, God, has assured me that He will never let go of me or my dream.  Together… we’ve got this!

So, today I celebrate 14 days of healthy eating and close to 20 miles of walking!  It feels great!  I’m encouraged!  I hope you are encouraged if you need that today.  If I can do this… so can you!  If you are doubting that you can make changes in an area of your life, invite God to join you and love yourself enough to try it today!  One foot in front of the other!  

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