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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. 

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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

 

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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 · 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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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?

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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365 Days of Our Story…

It’s really just another day on the calendar.  12:01 AM and the new day begins.  364 days out of the year I’m sleeping when this transition takes place… completely unaware.  But there is that one time each calendar year I’m actually awake when that clock strikes midnight.  There’s fanfare and noise and kissing.  It seems to be magical.  Poof!  It’s not just a new day… it’s a new year!  Out with the old and in with the new.  Fresh start.  New beginnings.  Resolutions made to NOT make resolutions (oh that’s another blog for another day!).

I woke early this morning.  Oh, how I’d like to say it’s because I was so excited for the new year and all it has to offer.  Nope.  I woke because the heat came on, my bladder was screaming and my worry button turned on… right on schedule.  I was determined to stay in bed and sleep.  But alas, my brain won out and I had to get up.

           Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.

These words are going around FB.  I posted the picture.  It’s kind of exciting!  There is that fresh start we all long for.  Of course I want to write a good one.  Who doesn’t?  I wanted that for 2014.  That story was full of heartache and struggle, while at the same time covered with grace.  Was it the story that I wanted to write?  Nope.  Do we ever get the story we hope for?  As a writer of sorts, the only way to get that story written exactly as I want is to write fiction… create what I want to happen.

Our life story is not fiction.  It’s true mystery, suspense, comedy and a love story.  Each of these genres weave in and out of our daily comings and goings.

My story for 2015 is not yet written.  It’s just beginning.  As I lay awake in the early hours this morning, I felt a heaviness and fear creep over me.  Suddenly, the hugeness of the next 365 days overwhelmed me.  Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?  How?  What if?  The idea of the vastness of what could happen seemed to press down on my spirit.

My life is full of messiness and clutter and unmet expectations.  I imagine that many of us might just feel the same way if we let ourselves truly be honest.  My life is also full of love and blessings and joy, but I let the heartache of 2014 overshadow those.

As I day in bed on this first day of the next 365 days, I began to pray… for that is the only thing that quelled the fear that was grabbing my heart and mind. I can’t look ahead on the calendar… I can only look at today… right now, for anxiety is born when we look at what has not yet happened.

                              “I can’t do it all, all the time,
                                              All I can do is
                                         Just. The. Next. Thing.
                                         Right now, at this time.  
                                               – Ann Voskamp

So my prayer for today and everyday of the next 365 is this…

Lord Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to write the story you have blessed me with.  God, I know my story will be full of mystery, intrigue, love, heartache, loss… for you never promised that fairy tale I have always longed for.  I pray that I will stay on the my path that you have placed me on… even if it seems difficult and doesn’t look like that of others.   Help me to see the surprises and joys and grace that you will place in front of me.  Give me just what I need at just the moment I need it… and let that be enough.  I pray this also for those you’ve put in my life – whether they be near or far.  May You be revealed to each of us in a deeper and greater way this year… and may we keep our eyes and heart wide open each day to see all that you have for us.  Let it be done… let it be so… in Jesus’ name.

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