Experiences · Generations · Gifts · Grace · Growth · Hope · Intentional Self · Lessons Learned · life happens... · love · marriage · My Journey · Prayer · Quiet Pleasures · Uncategorized

Adulting

What a year it’s been with 5 months still to go! Some years have come and gone and been full of heartache and sadness… harder than others. 

2018 has been a year full of change, excitement and wonder!! Busy. Full. Fast.

Both my husband and I turned 55. Double Nickel!  Fifty Five! Who is 55? It always seemed that old people were 55. Well now we are and we are not old! Funny that perspective change as we age! 

I have three bonus children. Our youngest graduated HS. When I moved here 12 years ago he was 6. Our oldest got married a few weeks ago. When I moved here she was about to turn 10. Our middle daughter is weeks away from having a baby boy. When I moved here she was 7. 

As we have watched them grow up and journey through the many family challenges we’ve had, our conversations at times were about where they would land when they became adults. It always seemed so far off. Some days we wished them old and wise… away from the tumultuous teen years. Other times we wished them to stay young and innocent. 

Today we sit in awe and wonder at the changes in the past 6 months. No more school events. We have a new son-in-law.  Soon we will be grandparents… Papa B and Nana J! We are now eligible for a level of senior discounts! AARP baby!! It all feels a bit surreal. 

So far on this journey, we have all made it! And it hasn’t been without joys and sorrows.  Honestly, there were moments when I wasn’t sure we’d ever make it to this point. So here we are and I am full of excitement and deep emotion. We joke about all of the kids now officially “adulting.” I guess then we are “adult adulting!” 

This time in life always seemed like a dream to me and so far off. Now it’s here and it’s grand! We love “adulting” with the kids! We do miss the days when they were younger, but this time of life is wonderful! As I’m having conversations with our momma-to-be about her life and the new life she is about to begin, I think back on all of the things I did that were good bonus parenting moments and all of the not-so-good bonus parenting moments. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every day and His grace abounds! 

We all grow and change. We’ve all said and done things we’ve regretted and things we remember fondly. This doesn’t feel like a new chapter but a whole new book! Volume 2 – “Adulting!” 

I couldn’t have imagined what this would be like. I can’t even really describe it now. We are in the next phase of all of our lives and it is exciting and scary. Lives are changing and people are growing old. 

(The growing old thing is another blog for another day.) 

I’m sitting here in a new office space typing this and I’m looking at a wall decoration from a dear friend hanging directly in front of me… HOPE is what it says. I am hopeful and confident that the good things the Lord has started in our family will continue as He walks us all through the next phases of our lives. We can’t look back with regret and we can’t look forward with anxiousness. 

We are…

Right here. Right now. Just as we are. Loving no matter what…even when it’s difficult. Challenging relationships at new levels. Leaving behind the things that were hard and being hopeful for the things to come.  

Life is a gift and everyday we get to choose how we spend it.  I am choosing to be full of HOPE and excitement for what is next for all of us. 

Expectations · Experiences · Grace · Hope · Intentional Self · love · My Journey · Prayer · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey · The New Year · Uncategorized

2018… A New Year

Last day of 2017.

I’d be lying if I said I’m sad to see this year end and a new year begin.

I know it’s just a day on a calendar but there is something about anticipating a fresh start… a do-over of sorts.

I don’t want to dwell on 2017… in less than 16 hours it’s over! Bye bye!

This morning I’m up early reflecting on the past year… things that happened and did not happen. I made health and fitness “resolutions” last year and… well,  here is sit older and in worse physical shape than I’ve ever been. Hmmmm….

I made a resolution to”be closer to God” yet I spent most of the year staying away from church and keeping God at a  stones throw. Thankfully that has been restored… and rekindled.

So, in 2018, I’m resolving to not make resolutions… you know that list you make. The list that is full of things that are all about being a better person… usually on the outside. I’ve got journals full of them! If I lined them up they would probably all look the same!

2018… it’s weird to say and hard to believe. 18 years into the 21st century. 55 years after the year I was born. What does it bring?

2018 promises this…

365 days

52.18 weeks

8,765.82 hours

535,949.2 minutes

31,556952 seconds

What we do with that time is up to us. What will we fill our days, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds  with?

Here’s what I hope to fill my time with…

Love more… judge less

            Listen more… talk less

               Pray more… grumble less

                   Move more… eat less

                        Sleep more… worry less

                              Serve more…sit less

                                  Play more… strive less

                                      Connect more… hide less

                                           Encourage more… complain less

                                                 Live more… enjoy the moment… 

                                                      Love who I am and where I am right now. 

I’ll leave you with a few words to encourage as we embark on 2018.  It’s like getting a brand new journal – never been written in!  Ready for a new story!

“So, let’s take heart, keep on, fight the good fight, pray continuously, and do not grow weary.  There is nothing better than giving up everything and stepping into a passionate love relationship with God, the God of the universe who made galaxies, leaves, laughter, and me and you.”                              -Francis Chan

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

 

new year

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

 

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

 

 

Circle of Life · Death · Grace · Hope

A Legacy Left Behind…

It’s been a whirlwind since getting the text that dad was back in the hospital… probably pneumonia.  I made a visit that evening to visit him with my brother.  This felt familiar.  At this point in his 90 year old life Dad had made many of these visits.  He was in good spirits for the most part and talked of getting out of there the next day.

The following night I went back to see Dad and we were told that he was more or less given the directive to go home and call hospice.  He would continue to get aspiration pneumonia and there was nothing they could do.  Wow…

Dad was angry.  He hadn’t really given the end of his life much thought, after all the Zags were gearing up to begin a new season.  He told us it was overwhelming news.  Of course…

Three days later they moved him to a care center to rehab and regain strength to be able to go home.  After a visit with four of my siblings a few days later, I knew deep in my heart that he was not going home.

Five days later my dad made a difficult and final decision.  He chose to begin End of Life Care… to begin dying.  He would no longer eat or take his medications.  Any form of swallowing was more and more difficult and he was choking to death.  That was Monday.

I spent the afternoon with him on Tuesday.  He was alert and in fairly good spirits.  He struggled to talk so conversation was minimal.  We held hands and I spent a great deal of time looking at his blue eyes.  His blue eyes that were beginning to lose their life.  His blue eyes that he passed on to me.  His hands were soft and his skin transparent.

IMG_9546

Thursday I went to spend the afternoon with him.  One of my sisters had come from Seattle to say goodbye.  They had some sweet words and I love you’s.  I was also able to look Dad in his blue eyes, holding his hand and tell him that I loved him… very much.  He looked back at me and told me he loved me deeply… deeply.  Those were are last words spoken to each other directly.

An hour and a half after arriving he took out his iPhone and played Mahjong one last time.  Shortly after that he began to slip away. Trying to make him as comfortable as possible we put him in his favorite Zag sweatshirt.  We left the room for a time and when we came back everything had changed.  No more alertness or ability to have conversations.  He was now actively dying.  His breathing changed.  It was just a matter of making him comfortable and waiting… waiting.  Deep in his soul he was probably relieved.  Several days before he told my sister it was taking a long time.  He passed peacefully 14 hours or so later holding the hand of his wife.

What must go through your mind as you lay dying… knowing you are dying.  I learned that once they begin this process, it is more of a spiritual battle than physical.  His body no longer needed anything, but his soul had to make the transition.  We all prayed that he had made his peace with Jesus.  He as expressed earlier in this journey that he had made a great many mistakes in his life and was not sure what was next for him.  My dear brother shared with him from the gospel of John.

“To all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he has given them the right to be called children of God.”  John 1:12

It is that simple.  We’ve all made mistakes… he was not alone.  For my dad it came down to one truth… and only God knows what happened in his heart.

I believe God gave my dad a gift.  The gift to time to say goodbye and try to mend some fences.  It’s been a long and tumultuous battle in our family.  Great heartache and sadness, along with wonderful times and sweet memories.  Each of us that he fathered has our own story to tell from our time on this earth with him.  Some of us a little more difficult than others.

So the whirlwind end to my dad’s life has finished.  Yesterday we buried him in a beautiful spot above the river.  Now we each begin to untangle the memories and bring closure to another relationship… our last parental relationship.  We lost our mom suddenly nearly 7 years ago.

cathedral

casket

cemetary

May the God of hope bring each of us to a place of ultimate forgiveness and peace with the man that gave us life.  And may we live our lives out with strength and courage to remember what was good and right, and let go of what needs to be forgotten.  We are his legacy… and we need to live it out with all that our Father in heaven has given us.

Christmas · Healing · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey

Honest and Real and Raw…

Christmas letters.  That one time each year that you can summarize all of the fabulous things that have happened in your life over the past 12 months in one cheery, perfect message!

Susie made the Honor Roll… again… and had the lead in the school broadway production.  Jimmy was voted MVP in each of his 5 Club Sports travel teams.  Your spouse is the best thing that ever happened to you!  The family Disney Cruise was the highlight as you celebrated 30 blissful years of marriage!  Even your family dog was top in his obedience classes.  Ahhh, life is good…. no, according to your letter… perfect!

Can you feel the sarcasm dripping from my words?  If you are a cheery Christmas Letter writer, I apologize.  There was once a time in my life that I was able to write a letter that summed it all up in a perfect package.  Once upon a time.  Then life began happening and I found it more and more difficult to write a letter…eventually stopping altogether.

Do you really want to know how one’s year has gone?  Do you really want the honest truth about each family member and their struggles?  I’m always amazed that on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of cheery Christmas paper, a story can be told that paints a picture of perfection… even when it hasn’t been.

Being that person that wears her heart on her shirt sleeve and is as transparent as one could possibly be, I am no longer able to compose a Christmas letter.  If I did, you would immediately remove me from your Christmas card mailing list and would want to “unfriend” me from sending one to you!  At this point in my life, an honest compilation of our year would be too raw and real.

I joke that FB is like a 27/7/365 Christmas letter!  Amazing family celebrations… fabulous vacations… beautiful home remodels… daily reports of the many things accomplished… perfect children and grandchildren.  I’m guilty at times, for I only like to post positive things or words that encourage.  I don’t generally air my dirty laundry publicly.  When you post a cheery family photo the comments come back that you look so happy and your life is so great!  Really?

My recently posted family selfie at the Thanksgiving table portrayed us all as smiling and happy!  It must have been a beautiful day!  Well, there were moments that were sweet and then there were the other parts that were amazingly stressful and hard.  But the family photo spoke a different story.

What do we want people to really know about us?  Do we want people to know that our life is difficult and full of heartache?  Or do we want people to think that we’ve got it all together?  When you ask someone how they are, do you really want to know?

This Advent season I’ve been thinking about the extraordinary thing that happened to an ordinary woman 2000+ years ago in that plain stable.  What would Mary and Joseph’s Christmas letter have said?  Her journey was anything but easy and beautiful.  They traveled long and far to find themselves without a place to rest while Mary gave birth.  No resort upgrades for them.  No room service or WiFi.  Raw, real and full of grace.  A few visitors.  No family selfie to remember the event.

IMG_9740

I’m desperately trying to find balance in this world of social media.  I want to share in the joys and celebrations of my friends and family without feeling “less than” when I’m done.  I did not take a fancy vacation this summer, but found myself posting river pictures every weekend in hopes that you would all see that my life is not a total loss!  How sad is that?  While my Thanksgiving day was not at all what I’d hoped for, I forced a family photo so you could all think that my life is “normal” just like yours.  It’s not.  It’s the life I’ve been blessed with, but it’s not like most others.  We struggle and grapple and pray… every day.  Christmas this year will not be what my heart longs for, but the photo’s I post of my decorations will lead you to believe otherwise.  Again… how sad is that?

My hope this Advent is that I will not try to be anything but who I really am.  My cries to my Savior are honest and real and raw. I long for honest and real and raw relationships with people.  As the year comes to an end, I will once again re-evaluate whether or not I want to continue with FB.  I long for that connection, but need to figure out how to stay connected without losing my perspective on life.

My prayer for all of us is that this season can be a time to be honest and real and raw with ourselves and those we love. I am going to believe in God’s grace for those things that may seem impossible.