Advent · Christmas · Expectations · Gifts · Healing · Hope · love · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

Expectations…

Expectations. We all have them.  We all have them imposed upon us.

Webster says that an expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Yep… my life has been full of expectations.

My biggest expectations come around the holidays. I tend to have a little Norman Rockwell in me and I imagine perfect family gatherings… like the ones you see on TV commercials and in the movies. Fabulous food (all hot at the same time!) around a beautifully set table (that fits everyone) and conversation that is bright and cheery, reminiscing days gone by.

Like I said… expectations… and this does not happen in my world.

Nine times out of ten I’m disappointed when all is said and done, along with exhausted from trying to make it happen.

My rose colored glasses have gotten in the way of expectations in marriage. In gaining a family after getting married.

Christmas is the most difficult for unmet expectations.  Every year I say I’m not going to get my hopes up and every year I have feelings of disappointment. I imagined starting some Christmas traditions which never materialized.  Some of the expectations I have are not worth sharing, as they are a bit shallow. They have actually been an expectation since I was a child and they have wandered their way into my adult life. Every year I promise myself I won’t let them get me down.

As I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift one morning recently, I came across these words…

                         Expectations can come steal the gifts. 

I’ve come to realize that I set an agenda for God each Christmas. Ann Voskamp says that when we have an agenda for God, we can’t see the gifts from Him. I am missing out on so much because I have MY idea of what I want to happen. As I’ve pondered this truth this past week, I’m praying that I can finally shake my years of expectations and settle in to all that God has in store for me and for my family. This year I’m open to receive His gifts and leave my expectations at the door. Oh the anticipation!

I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope.                             -Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

 

Circle of Life · Experiences · Gifts · Grace · Growth · Healing · Hope · Intentional Self · Lessons Learned · life happens... · love · My Journey · Prayer · Seasons · Standing in the Gap · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

2016… What a Year!

2016… oh what a year! It’s one that will go down in history for so many reasons. I’ve managed to NOT let the stress of things of the world get me down.  I’ve felt sad about the losses of well-known people who have passed away… people I’ve grown up with. I’ve managed to keep my emotions out of the presidential election. All I can do is pray for the days to come. I have no control of the worldly events of the past year.

All I can really control is the events of my life… and even those are not always controllable.  I can think about the past year but can’t change a thing that has already happened.  The story is written and published.  All I can do it reflect on the words on each page, take what I can that will propel me positively into the new year and then close the book, placing it carefully on the shelf with the other 53 books.

2016 was a year. A year of hard work, new relationships, loss, struggle, new memories, career challenges, laughter, tears, loving, choosing to love, growth, new beginnings, dreams lost and dreams being realized…

There are some definite things I can take away from 2016. While I’d like to take away only the positive, I realize that it’s some of the tough things that will change me and motivate me in the coming year.

Here are my take-aways from 2016:

  • I have infinite worth! Enough said!
  • I am the only one that can determine how my day will unfold. It’s not the responsibility of my husband, friends or co-workers… it’s mine.  I choose my attitude towards the day.
  • If I don’t include God in my day things tend to go south. Unfortunately I’ve allowed this to happen one too many times.
  • Everyday is a gift – wrapped with a beautiful bow. I get to choose how I open it and what I do with it.  Some gifts can be large and fancy, while others might be little and seemingly unimportant. It’s up to me to look at each gift and cherish what it brings… not wishing and hoping for more or different. Gifts are all around us and sometimes we miss them. It’s the tiniest things that can bring the greatest joy!
  • Just when you think you’ve loved something so much and losing it will leave you empty forever… think again! Be bold and risk loving again!
  • Two kittens are better than one! Just saying!  sleeping-kittens-12-31-16

As we move into 2017, my prayer for everyone is that we will all believe in our infinite worth and value.  I pray our lives will reflect that.  For me that means taking better care of myself… believing that I’m worth investing in.  Even when that investment is difficult but necessary. I pray we all have others in our lives to share the journey. I pray that we can all do the two simple things that God asks of us… love God and love people. This feels more important than ever with the coming months and changes in our nation.

May 2017 bring abundant love, grace and passion in each of our lives. I leave you with this prayer.

“And now may the courage of early morning’s dawning,

And the strength of eternal hills at noontime,

And the peace of open spaces at evening’s ending,

And the love of God abide in your hearts now and forever.” Amen.

                 – Harry K. Zeller, from the BRETHREN HYMNAL

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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.

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.

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?

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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Grace · Hope · Prayers · Seasons

Changing Seasons…

The temperature and the leaves have fallen.  The trees are bare.  The ground is frozen and covered with the last of the leaves.  Most of them are not even ours.  They have blown from across the way… from the oak trees.  Today is the day to get the last of them up and gone.  The end of the autumn season.

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With a season change comes the time to put away things that you no longer need.  Rakes, flower pots, wheel barrows. All tucked away for the winter.  Some things you have to throw away, for they are not reusable when spring comes.  The two flower pots on my patio that have bloomed beautifully all fall, are now frozen in time.  They still look alive and well, but if you touch them they are brittle.  It’s tough to have to throw them away for they have been a source of life on my patio for many months.  IMG_6233

This change of season should feel a bit like cleaning out… simplifying.  There should be a feeling of excitement for winter and all that it will bring.  Clean yard, neatly stacked wood for the winter fires, snow shovels out, ice scrapers by the back door, scarves and mittens down out of the closet, hot chocolate ready to be made.

I wish it were that easy.  This season change feels more challenging than others have been in the past.  Life has gotten very complicated with all of the things we battle day in and day out – relationships, finances, responsibilities, memories of things lost and hopes for things to come.

Just when I think it’s more than I can handle, God steps in. Like the first evening of November when I walked outside into a glorious sunset.  All the worry that was heavy on my heart washed away for a moment as He revealed that it’s not about me… He’s with me in this change of seasons.

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Of course, I took all the worry back and continued on, waking early in the morning with anxiety and fear.  Wishing, hoping, wondering.  Then He steps in again and lands a letter in my mailbox from a dear friend struggling with breast cancer.  Her words were that of encouragement and love.  Once again, God reminded me of His grace and goodness.  My sweet friend’s words encouraged me to find the blessings throughout the day… to take my mind off the things that are weighing me down.

I’ve let myself get bogged down by all of the leaves falling on me at once.  What I need to do is take one leaf at a time!  Find the blessing and beauty, and do what needs to be done in each moment, covered in His grace and new mercies every day.  The seasons change whether I’m ready or not.

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How are you embracing the season change in your life?  Be encouraged and open to all that the new season will bring.

“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.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you” declares the Lord.    Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)