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. 

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 · 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.

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 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.

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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.