Sunday, May 31, 2009

Here I am to Worship

"Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see"

It's one of the lines of one of the songs we'll sing this week at church. It's also a line that I have sung many, many times through the years.

I remember standing in the kitchen of the married house, and the words just came forth. The song had been stuck in my head, and now I was singing it aloud. It was the moment I realized how true the line was. Over and over again, He had stepped into my dark world, opened my eyes and shown me the truth.

Countless times. Sometimes it was a little something that I had a misconception about, other times, I was just flat out wrong. Often I had chosen - on some level - to look away from the truth, rationalize it or minimize it back in congruence with my perception, or my wish for my life.

When the big truths came to light, the words would get hung in my throat. All I could do is hum and cry, until the chorus:

"Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that You're my God.
You're altogether lovely, althogther worthy, altogether wonderful to me"

So, so true in my world. Thank You, God.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reminiscing.... The Dog

I am in a reminiscent mood. And, it was time for another picture on the blog. So, I opened my "pictures" folder and kept coming back to this one.

As I sit and look at it, I remember exactly when it was taken. It was right after our first "Labor Day Reunion"that we had at the state park. I still have the T-shirt I'm wearing - signed by all of the people in attendance.

And this.... this was my dog. Milaka. I adopted her in the early 1990's, and she was a puppy when we moved to Tennessee. (I'll have to share THAT story sometime.... Talk about forcing one's self across a state line!).

I was living and working in North Carolina. My lab, Sebastian had died several months before, and I was living - dogless - with two cats. It was time to begin again with another dog. A woman that I knew told me of these beautiful dogs: Half Great Dane, Half English Mastiff. BEAUTIFUL dogs. I got two - one for me and one for my ex- (with his permission!).

The red-head was mine, he got the blond. People kept asking me what a "Mastiff" looked like. I explained that they were the English nursery dogs - like in Peter Pan. Again and again, I was asked, "OH...those big stupid dogs?" Well, she was anything but stupid - big, yes. Stupid, no. (but, that's what her name means - and a bunch of other derogatory stuff, I hear...)

I digress... together we moved to TN, then to the womb house, then to the married house. In and out of life with her brother, Beauregard. Years of traveling, of moving, of growth and of change. Unfortunately, she didn't live to the current house. She died in early May 2005.... a week after our separation.

At the moment I knew she would need to be put down, I said, aloud, "Oh, God, you (the dog) are not going to walk through this one with me...." I was truly 'on my own'. Sure, his two dogs were still living with me, but it wasn't the same. Milaka and I had moving, grieving history together. I felt the loss.... deeply.

Retrospectively, I think without her living beside me, I was better able (AKA "forced") to rely on God during that time. There was much grieving - grieving my marriage, "grieving the wish" and grieving for my dog who had spent the previous thirteen years beside me.

Thank You, God for the gift of Milaka's presence in my life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hectic Joy

I am amazed at how quickly this first full week of summer has filled up: birthday party, graduation party, Daisy Girl Scout event - on top of the usually scheduled events, primarily gymnastics, yoga and karate. Yet, as I sat on the deck letting the dog run free in the back yard, I recalled much joy in the day.

It hadn't started that way.... it had been a morning of struggles: Getting the kids bathed, the dog walked, and into the car for our first session in "The Adventure Gym". Both kids were really excited about it - the boy, for sure, and the girl hoping with all her might that she'd be able to participate as well...

We will be heading there weekly for my son's Occupational Therapy to treat his newly diagnosed sensory problems. I sat and laughed til I cried at some of the "games" he got to play. Flying through the air like superman, climbing rope ladders, shooting hoops, zip lines. It is amazing to me to see how the therapist can package his tasks into little gifts that he can't get enough of!

From there, we went to pick up his karate belt at his dad's, a quick ice cream treat, then back to the house for an hour or so before karate. See, he really needed his belt because it was stripe testing: and he earned his second stripe!!

So, there I sat, watching the dog play, with the wonderful summer breeze in my hair, recapping the day. As I said my prayers, one thing kept coming to mind: the ear to ear grins on our faces and the sound of laughter in my ears.

It was a long, hectic day - but it was filled with much joy. The sound of my children's laughter is what I will remember....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What are the odds?

So... yes, I know we've been having this crazy mix of rain and sunshine here lately. you might imagine, that is perfect rainbow weather.

I have seen rainbows twice this week. The first one - a double - I saw after a long day of physically hard work. I was quietly walking the dog, unwinding a little bit.

The second, was at the church, mid-week. I was talking with my aunt on the phone. I was catching up with her when I looked up, and there, stretching from my favorite stand of trees to the top the church building, was another.

I find comfort in the fact that both occurred at the end of long, difficult days, where I was trying to rest, relax and regroup.

They brought peace, and joy and hope. The remind me of the beauty that just pops up in this world from time to time. Sometimes unexpected - though, sometimes, we learn the signs and begin to search.

They remind me that in the midst of my crazy life here on this earth, God is present and all is well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome Summer

Some people declare summer to have started after Memorial Day weekend, or after the end of school, or by some date on the calendar. For me, it's all about fireflies. Once the fireflies have started lighting the night sky, it's summer in my book.

I have a hazy dream-like memory of an evening of catching fireflies. I was very young, visiting the home where my grandmother grew up. Those details I know only because of being told. I've seen little clips of this evening from time to time in my mind's eye. And every summer, as I see the first firefly, those few seconds of dream-scene get pulled to the forefront of my thoughts.

There are times that I wish I remembered more about it - though the fact I remember it at all is amazing. I don't recall what made that evening so special - but the memory is almost magical.

Soon, MY children will start begging to stay up late to catch fireflies. I will have to let them from time to time, and perhaps one of those evenings will follow them into adulthood.

This world is so amazing in it's creation - the seasons, the critters, the way it all just FITs - perfectly. Thank you God for this beautiful, beautiful world I live in....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Working Together

"Many hands make work light" sure was the theme for the day. We were working hard getting my friend moved out of her old house and into the new. Most of the big things had already been moved, and we were doing the detail work.

There had been the yard sale and what remained was sorted into the Goodwill pile and the dump pile. There were still the few last minute things to move, ...and then the cleaning.

My son did his part by searching for forgotten coins. "Mom! Lift me up so I can see on this shelf!" he say. I'd lift him as high as I could, and he'd inspect it. By the end of the day, he'd collected $1.87 in pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters.

I was the "muscles" of the operation. Hauling things here and there. It's actually a job I enjoy - it has quick results! I was also dubbed the "Eagle Eye", pointing out little things that she'd forgotten here and there.

At lunchtime, another friend dropped by, bearing a sandwich, chips and a drink. She picked up a mop, and together the three of us cleaned the house from top to bottom - literally!!

It was a good day of service. It was a day I could "pay it forward" for those that helped me move. It also reminded me of how much I cherish living in community. There were many, many years, I lived in isolation. I can't even begin to imagine being there still!

Many thanks to those who pulled and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Those who loved me and challenged me, and those who stood by my side as I figuratively "cleaned house".

Thank you God for the community of people you have brought into my life! I couldn't live without them!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day '09

This weekend, we participated in a Cub Scout service project: placing flags at the National Cemetery outside of Nashville. I had been sent this story just a few days ago, describing the inspiration for the national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner. (YES! it is worth the ten minutes to hear it through....)

We gathered early in the morning, my boy in his uniform, my girl refusing to wear her Daisy tunic. There we stood, surrounded by many, many scouts and their families. A brief welcome and one of the troop's color guard "presented the colors". We all joined in singing the national anthem.

As the words of the song pressed on, the story of it's origin (whether true to the letter or not) replayed in my mind. I realized, as I stood in the National Cemetery that I was also surrounded by great men and women who served our country.

As we headed out to place a few of the 35,000 flags that morning, I tried to impress on my children what an honor it is to place these flags, and what a gift to return a tiny bit of service to these men and women.

Each flag that we placed, exactly 12 inches from the marker, was accompanied by a "thank you", and much gratitude.

A happy and safe Memorial Day to you all....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gotta Love on My Kids

I've just gotta love on my kids today. They have been wonderfully graceful and patient this past week. Between Grandma's funeral and our Saturday of Service, they have been very, very patient. All of that in the midst of end of school excitement!

Yes, of course, we've had our moments. Being "dressed up" is something the boy and I don't particularly care for. Jeans and flip-flops are more my style. The girl, well, now that's another story!

During the Saturday of Service, they entertained themselves and cared for the Itty-Bitty Kitty, while I helped with my friend's yard sale and bathroom cleaning. Yes, yes, some of their "entertainment" involved the question, "Mom, can I get THIS?"

Overall, they are growing into wonderful people, and I feel blessed to be given the honor of mothering them. They certainly are a gift from God.


Little do they know that as I type "Saturday of Service" again and again, I'm getting the feeling it will become one of our family traditions....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remembering Moments of Joy

As I sat down to write this, I was in a foul mood. It had been a long day - including some pool time, which is great, but the sun-drain had hit... By the time I was ready to sit and write, I had just realized my boy didn't have the required kerchief for his Cub Scout Uniform... that of course we needed for the morning.... EARLY morning.

Why I worry, I don't know. The situation worked out, thanks to a ridiculous commute, a telephone pole and a willing dad.

It was as I messaged a friend that I remembered the joy of the day. We started the morning with the kitten eating her first solid food meal (no bottle!). From there, I packed for the day - lunch and towels - and we headed first to school to pick up report cards, then to the pool a the local Y.

There are new rules there this year. Good rules. Rules that promote safety and parent/child interaction. (for example, the parent of a child who cannot swim, must stay with the child who cannot swim - or put the kid in a life jacket).

So, my kids took their swim tests. My daughter passed, no problems. My son, not so much. He was told he could practice and take it again. So, he and I went to the shallow end of the pool, and together, we went through what he was doing and how he could improve his strokes, and thus his endurance.

Within the hour, he wanted to try again. I thought he could pass it, so he asked permission to try again. He had to wait patiently for about ten minutes for another life guard to be available to test him. We walked to the deep end, he jumped in and began to swim.

About 3/4 of the way across the 25 yards was the moment of truth. I could see the look in his eyes. He knew he had to finish to be able to go on the slide (his FAVORITE thing), but there was some doubt beginning to creep into his face.

I had been walking along the pool edge with him. At that point, I walked to the end, looked him in the eye, and said, "you are ALMOST here... keep swimming, you can do this!" The doubt left him and his smile widened. It was all he could do to contain his joy as he exited the pool.

Mid way through typing this out, I realized that the same thing happens in my own life. I get a chance to try again. At that moment of doubt, when I'm not quite sure if I'll be able to accomplish the task at hand, someone shows up and cheers me on. God sends someone or something to stand at the end to encourage me and give me a 'high five' when it's over.

He asked me if I was proud of him for passing his test. I told him "yes, I am. But I am more proud about your perseverance!"

God, grant me the perseverance of my son.... And thank You for those along my path who remind me of these wonderful, wonderful moments when my mind is too focused on the new problem that has surfaced before me.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Let me preface by saying that yes, I know this picture is blurry. The original is blurry, but it is here for a reason. It was included in the slide show.

It was a bittersweet day: Grandma's funeral. Such a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy, because we know that she is in a better place. Joy because we know that she is "free of the cage" that her stroke, eight years ago, trapped her within.

It stole her ability to choose the words she wanted to speak, and her ability to retain certain bits of information. But, it could never take her joy, her love or her gentle, compassionate spirit.

It was a long day for children. Visitation, the funeral itself, and the burial afterward. Three seven year old grandchildren sat as quietly as they could, showing their respect in a way only they can in a situation that was - as my son said - "BOR-ing".

But, as he sat on my lap - all 70 pounds of him - I realized he was listening. He brightened as the pastor read his name as one of the "Joys of her life". But it was during the scripture time that I realized he wasn't lost in the Pokeman DS replay surely going on in his head.

The pastor was describing the person that Grandma was, and summed it up with Proverbs 31. On Mother's Day, our pastor had called 31:28 to the attention of the children. As the pastor read these words during the funeral service, I could see the cogs turning in my boy's brain. All of a sudden, the ton of bricks on my lap sat up straight, turned, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You are blessed".

He is right.... I am blessed... beyond my wildest imaginings, I am blessed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Choosing to live in Gratitude

At work, at home, or out in the world, I notice people tend to fall into one of two camps: Gratitude or Victim.

It's not so much the external events that designate placement, but an internal choice of which glasses to wear. I've seen people experience life-changing trauma and their view continues to be out the window of Gratitude. For others, life is pretty good by most standards, and still their outlook comes from a place of bitterness with a song of "poor me"...

I have lived in both camps - and I have jumped from one to the other (and back!) many, many times. I am fortunate to have had a friend who would point out the victim in me when I didn't see her. "I have to do this, I have to do that..." would bring reminders that I choose to do them all.

Many times it didn't seem like a choice. But it was - I was choosing to do what was necessary to care for infants and keep my job. It was the right choice, even though I didn't feel like doing it at the time, and didn't feel like there was another option. There is always another option.

I wish I knew a way to move someone permanently to a position of gratitude. My patients with an "attitude of gratitude" seem to do better as they recover from their injuries compared to those who focus on how they've been wronged. If only they would believe me when I remind them of how blessed they are. If only they knew the power of gratitude.

Focusing my attention on what I have been given rather than on what I lack has made a tremendous impact on my life... Life changing. Literally. My perspective influences every decision I make.

Every choice: Gratitude or Victim. With each event or interaction, I am given the opportunity to choose. What will I decide? How shall I view it? Will I remember?

I have much for which to be grateful. Even in the midst of grief and struggles. In the whirlwind of the end of school year schedule, I am blessed.

Very, Very Blessed.

I choose Gratitude!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Next Right Thing

I'm noticing that May and December are about equally busy. The end of the school year bustle is WELL underway. Actually, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! There is hope! For my kids, their school year will end a day early. (TODAY!)

Sometimes I wonder how we get through it. If I look at all the things that need doing, I get overwhelmed, almost to the point of being paralyzed, sometimes.

That happened to me years ago, before a gathering of (at that time) un-met friends. Well, we knew each other (via the internet), we'd just never met face to face. But when an invitation for a gathering was sent out (by me), and people began replying affirmatively, I realized HOW MUCH I had to do to prepare for their arrival.

I froze. All I could do is sit there in my house. I had NO IDEA where to start. Finally, someone said, "Just pick one thing and start there." It was the best advice ever!

These days, it's how I like to handle my tasks. Some are prioritized by external deadlines, some by internal. Some are recurring - but the ones I like to tackle most are the ones that once they are crossed off, they are CROSSED OFF. Done.

Some days, there isn't enough time to complete one of *those* jobs. Sometimes, it feels like I am being surrounded by recurrent jobs, and that there will be no time to complete those, never mind the *other* things I have to do.

But when I start to freeze - or walk aimlessly back and forth - I stop and remind myself to breathe, and pick ONE THING - one five minute job - complete that. Then, I can move forward with the NEXT right thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moving on...

I got one of those calls today that remind me of how UN-fixed plans really are. Schedules are not really "set". My timing is merely that... my timing.

The call was from my ex, letting me know that his mother had died the night before. The day continued, but the rest of the week got put on hold, awaiting plans for visitation and the funeral.

I thought back to my father's funeral, and my friend, Karen's death. "Love never ends", I reminded myself. I remember the acuteness of the loss, and how time eases the pain. There will be things that pop up from time to time that remind us of her, and we will revisit it briefly. One day, those reminders will bring joy for the life.

On my return home from the Elementary School, I sat to read my email. In the stack was a note from my first ex-husbands step-father. He was letting me know that his wife, my first mother-in-law, had died, early last week. "She always loved you," he wrote.

And I realize how greatly I have been blessed. How fortunate am I to have had TWO mother-in-laws who "always loved me". Despite the divorces, we have kept in touch. A gift indeed!

I am also grateful to have been able to see both of them fairly recently. Neither one was in great health, and I know that they are both "free" now of that which restricted their lives here on earth these past few years. The are moving on... to bigger and better things.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A New Addition

Well, we have opened our home and our hearts to a new addition. "Cassie" is a nearly six week old kitten that our friends have been raising since two days after her birth.

She arrived at their home, orphaned, but was taken in, fed, loved and cared for.

We have visited her several times - once or twice before she even had her eyes open. Sunday evening, she arrived at our home for the first time.

My daughter has claimed "mom" status (with the contingency that "Granny Lin" be responsible for litter box duty). Her brother will be "uncle". I, of course, will be "Granny Lin". Jake-the-Dog is something along the lines of The Big Bad Wolf in her eyes. (Honestly, I'd put my money on the cat!)

She is sweet and loving, and we are grateful to have her in our home. I can tell already, by the way Amelia so sweetly prayed for her tonight that the itty-bitty-kitty will be a blessing to my daughter especially. Having to feed her in the morning MIGHT even motivate her to get out of bed without a struggle.

Thank you God for loving hearts, gentle spirits and the willingness of people to reach out to those in need.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Needs vs. Wants

The debate between "Needs" and "Wants" pops up in my life from time to time. Usually right after I receive my tax return, or have a month with some overtime in my paycheck.

I keep a running list of things that I "need" and things that I "want". That way, if I come upon - say a church yard sale - I have an idea of what to look for.... it also helps keep impulse buying to a minimum.

Most things are pretty easy to sort onto the appropriate lists. But sometimes the lines are blurred. I mean, I don't "NEED" it, but it sure would make my life MUCH easier or function more smoothly if I had it. It is with those items that I struggle.

I was fortunate this past week. My son has been wanting a new mattress. He is a bit of "The Princess and the Pea" sort, and his was "uncomfortable". (But, he had one, so did he NEED one?) Fortunately, the one I found at the church yard sale, suits him wonderfully!

The funny thing is - as I have spent the past week sorting some items onto their respective lists - one song, that we will sing this morning, brings it all back into perspective.

"All I have needed Thy hands hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, Unto me..."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jesus, Bring the Rain...

I found myself singing and signing those words as I walked my dog. "Jesus, bring the rain..."

I had been trying to sleep during the day, in preparation for working an overnight shift. It's been a while since I've done that - well, the working the overnight part.... I do like to nap! I sent my kids to school and crawled back into bed. My phone, that could go a week without ringing, had a 30 minute repeat cycle. I ignored them all, and rolled over- again and again.

Then, I heard the thunder. I rolled over and opened one eye to peek at the sky through my window. Sunny. Weird... I must have actually fallen asleep. I closed my eyes again. The thunder repeated itself. By the third time, I looked at the clock. 11:30 AM. "Well," I thought, "If the dog and I are gonna walk, I'd better get up and do it now..."

I got up and got dressed. After brushing my teeth and putting in my contacts, I grabbed the dog's leash, and headed out to greet him. The sky was still sunny, though there were some darkening clouds in the direction of the thunder.

As I walked, I began to feel the discomfort of the humidity. It was hot...and humid. Ewww. I felt a drop, and then another. The lyrics came out about that time. As I thought about the last time I walked in the midst of a little "sunny thunder", I wondered if hail would be a part of this experience as well. Nope. Just a few sprinkles.

It wasn't until I was planting a few plants brought to me by friends that I really experienced some rain. Not much, but just enough to remind me of how much I like to walk in the rain.

I hope to have a real rain-walking experience in the near future. Until then, I'll just sing about it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gratitude in the Next Generation

I recently spent several hours helping to prepare the church yard sale. Stuff to sort, stuff to price. Lots and lots of STUFF - some pretty cool stuff, too. (and, yes, I am thrilled to have contributed so much of my STUFF to the sale!)

One of the things I found is a book. Actually, it was shown to me by another mom. It helps bring biblical concepts, and stories to kids through activities and crafts. I figured I'd peek through it and see if we could do a project or two over the summer.

Well, my daughter got a hold of it (Yea God!!). That night, she ran out of her room, "Can I borrow your Holy Bible?" (Hers got lost sometime that night - HOPEFULLY in the field and not in the "for sale" stack!) I looked at her quizzically. "It's got REAL SCRIPTURES in it!" she said, nodding her tilted head repetatively, giving me her impish smile and eyes that begged 'please, please, please'. I couldn't refuse...

The next night, I found out she had been doing "fill in the blank"s. She'd look up the verse and fill the missing word into the blank on the page. I paused and said a silent "yea God!" when I realized my little girl had been looking to the bible for answers. I had no idea how to navigate a bible at her age! And no idea there was any use to.

(Guess I'd better get studying to keep ahead of her on content... :) And some answers for our "fashion" struggles...)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Handprints of God

I am grateful to see Handprints of God - to use my friend's words. They are everywhere. This I know. I've seen them - I've been told of them. Over and over again, they appear... I know that they will continue. God in action.

And, on the days that I feel like I've been kicked in the gut, I cling to them. I know His hands are there - holding me. Preparing the way.

Thank you God, for Your hands, and for the tracks they leave in my life and in the lives of those I love.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Abundance All Around Me

I like to spend as much time as possible out of doors...

In the process of taking a walk, a hike, tending the earth, or simply sitting quietly watching the birds, the clouds, or the breeze making the leaves of the trees dance, I learn much. I learn about my self, my thoughts, my feelings, my nature. I also learn about the world around me.

These past few days, there has been a reprieve from the abundance of rain. The sun is shining, the wind blowing gently over the plains that are my yard. And there, I putter.

I've made my rounds through the gardens, and one thing has made itself very evident to me. Despite the economic crisis, there is abundance in this world.

My lilac has bloomed for the first time since I have been in this house. The Clematis (above) are overflowing their trellises. The beans I put in the ground moments before it started raining have sprouted and grown several inches. There is hope of raspberries!

Every where I look, signs of abundance. I have never seen the holly so densely berried! I can just hear the birds singing with joy and full bellies when these berries ripen.

So, in the midst of a world focused on lack, I will focus on the abundance and blessings that surround me. The birds of the air and the lilies of the field are well cared for. So shall I be.

Thank You, God!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yea God!!

"... And all that I can say is 'Hallelujah'!!" Those lyrics so fit right now!!

It happened! It really happened! God in action is such an amazing thing to witness! Sometimes, it's even more fun to witness it in the lives of others. This God story belongs to one of my friends.

I believe in letting people tell their own story, so I will share, very generally, my perspective on it - and how it parallels my life.

Her marriage had ended in divorce. It meant a lot of change - including finding a new home.

I'd visited with her a month or so ago. She'd caught me up on the events of finding the house she was trying to buy. I knew at the time, from what she had said, that God's hand was all over it. But, there were still a *few* obstacles to overcome from the time we walked through it to the closing.

One by one, the solutions came. Miracle after miracle (seriously!). And now... she owns a house!! It is so much more "her" than her "married house" ever was. It's nothing short of perfect!

And you know, while I am trilled and excited for her about the fact that all of this worked out - perfectly timed - the house itself isn't exactly what I am so delighted about. I feel like I can see that she has been given a wonderful, wonderful gift. But.... It's still wrapped!

What she doesn't (completely) know is that it gets better.... so much better! As little by little she moves into her new home, her new life will begin. It can't help but be a life that is centered on the fact that God moved mountains to provide for her.

I believe she will find a peace there that she hasn't ever experienced before. True, genuine, God-centered peace. And THAT is why I cry out "hallelujah!!" YEA GOD!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Times are Changing

I'm beginning to notice it. Times are changing. I'm noticing it in the day to day, and in the unpredicted surprises that have been arriving in my life. The days are longer, the breeze is warmer. I find myself lingering on my deck in the evenings, and making it out there before waking the kids in the mornings.

The humming bird feeder is hung, and I wait expectantly for them to arrive. Spring continues to bloom in great splendor! Yet, even some of the "expected" things are different.

The irises were moved along the fence line last fall, after the dog came to join the family. When I transplanted them, I remembered them being purple, maybe one or two "different" colors, but certainly not yellow. Not only are there yellow ones, but they are PRIMARILY yellow, plentiful, and TALL.

Inside my house, "stuff" I have held onto is leaving and furniture is being rearranged. I am sure that there is some sort of parallel within my self that I am not yet fully aware of. No doubt, my behavior gives me away....

Soon, school will be out. The kids are looking forward to a later bedtime - I am looking forward to "no alarm clock" mornings! Some of our activities will be the same this year - our annual trek to Massachusetts and Maine, for example. Some are brand new. And some of the old activities - like days at the local Y pool - have new rules.

It's ever changing. That's a good thing. It allows growth. It keeps things fresh. It keeps me from getting set in a rut of life. It keeps me looking to God for direction on the next right thing to do.

So, here I am, looking and waiting for more to be revealed. I have a sense that some of the changes are as inevitable as the seasons. May I be as willing to grow and bloom as the flowers of the field.

May I also be as accepting of the gifts that are being brought my way as I was with the Easter flowers. I might even learn that there is beauty and joy in things that I have avoided thus far.... like petunias. Who knew that in a pot by my new sitting area, they are not nearly as ugly as I had imagined.

Open my heart, Lord.... Give me eyes to see....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

There don't seem to be words to describe what I am feeling. Motherhood is the most difficult joy I have ever experienced! There are some moments that I am not sure how I get through, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

A friend of mine and her daughter have been caring for infant twins. The daughter is babysitting - with Mom's help. My friend said "infant twins are HARD WORK". Oh yes, they are! But, they are so worth the investment of time, energy and love.

It has been an honor to watch the two of them grow into the children they are today. They have unique talents and personalities. Their challenges are different. And, in one sense, I'm grateful they are a boy and a girl. It helps me - and others - to remember that they truly are individual people.

Motherhood has stretched me beyond what I ever thought I could do. It has encouraged me to grab tightly to God's direction and guidance. "HELP ME!!" Spoken or signed, comes out daily, at least.

And, despite the challenges, I have never experienced greater love for another person, than I have experienced with my kids. Nor have I had a greater appreciation for my mother or more empathy for the challenges of raising her children! (Knowing that gives me hope that my daughter won't always think I'm an idiot. : ) )

My eyes still fill up with tears when I remember back to last Mother's Day. The kindergarten classes were having a "Mother's Day Tea". I split my day between the two classrooms. As I stood outside of my son's room, I watched and waited. The children were to escort us to our seats.

When my boy-child saw me, his face lit up, he stood up straight and tall. He picked up the bouquet of paper flowers he'd made, and walked toward me, smiling from ear to ear.

My daughter, wanted to snuggle. She also wanted me to stay with her... just her.

I have story after story to tell...yet it all comes back to feeling honored that I have been trusted with these two little beings. They are a treasure! Truly a gift from God!

So, to all the Mom's out there.... Happy Mother's Day! You are loved at least as much as you love, and much more than you'll ever know!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Managing the Moment....

I just came from the staff meeting at the local YMCA. We started the meeting with a mini Zumba class. If you've not done Zumba, or don't know what it is, well, it's a latin dance - inspired exercise. It's all the rage here, but it's SOOOO not me.

I am not a "group fitness" kind of girl, for one thing. And I don't move that way. Anyhow, it was amusing to say the least....

But the reason I mention it at all is that something that the director said during the meeting part of the meeting stuck in my head. She was talking about not having control over the current economic situation, as an example. She reminded us, however that we could "Manage the moment".

As staff at the YMCA, we could leave our other issues outside of the face to face interactions with the members at the Y. We could "manage the moment" we had with them. We could be fully present with another human being for just that moment.

I liked that! I like the idea of "managing the moment". First of all, it breaks down my life into manageable segments of time. As the school year ends and summer begins it's whirlwind of activity, it's easy for me to become overwhelmed. Secondly, it was a reminder to me of what is truly important in my life. It's not the "other issues" - the worries, the schedule - no, certainly not that.... what is important is the face to face interactions. Being fully present with another human being.

Those are the moments when hearts are touched and lives are changed.

Thank You, God for the reminder of what is important in my life...

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Race to the Finish

It happens every year... the Race to the Finish of school. We're heading into our last two weeks, and MAN, are they filled to the brim with stuff to do. I've gotta say that this is one of the times when I am grateful to have twins. I only have one school performance to attend, one class field trip, one field day, one volunteer appreciation brunch, one luau.

Still, all of those things have been added to the calendar in the next two weeks. They promise me, after that, the "no alarm clock" mornings begin! YES!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all of these events. I love watching my children in their performance, and I enjoy helping paint the flowers that will be the backdrop. I'm just glad we're staring our summer with some lazy days at the pool. We'll need it as we transition into summer.

Thank You God for the near completion of another year... keep us safe and focused on what is truly important as we Race to the Finish.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

LIfe is a Stage

I remember the years of my late teens and early to middle adulthood feeling like I was cast in a play. My life felt like I was living on stage, performing the roles that were written for me. I had lost the connection between my self and how I expressed it. I lived by a list of "should"s and expectations that may or may not have been related in any for or fashion to what I wanted, dreamed or hoped for. They very accurately reflected what others would have me do - or like or dream.

Apparently, something shifted in the past decade or so. Without my even being consciously aware of it, who I am and what I do are pretty congruous. What made me realize it was a song. I don't even remember the song or the specific lyrics. I do remember thinking, "Wow... that has changed! I don't feel that way any more! I don't feel like I'm performing my life!!"

I feel like I am LIVING it. That is a huge, huge gift!

Thank You, God

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Morning Crisis.... Must Have Coffee....

This will likely seem very strange to some, and funny to others. It is definitely a NEW experience for me. My affection for coffee is a very recent discovery. In years past, I've loved the aroma of coffee in the morning (so long as the espresso machine didn't burn the grounds too much!), but as for actually drinking the stuff, no way...

I found it out of necessity. This winter, burning the candle at both ends, I found myself stumbling down to the cafeteria at the hospital for something warm and caffeinated. At the end of the clinical rotation, the students presented me with a thank you card - and a gift card... to Starbucks. Funny... I didn't consider myself a coffee drinker. Apparently my behavior gave me away.

Tuesday, I woke exhausted. I'd let the dog out at 3 am. Heading back to the warmth of my bed, I looked at the clock. I grinned from ear to ear - I had almost as much of the night left as I'd slept the entirety of Saturday night!

When morning arrived, I wanted a nap, but it was the beginning of a busy week and there was much to do. Plus, it was the only sunny day predicted in the near future. I have wonderful neighbors, but I don't know how kindly they would take to goats roaming the yard - even if they're only borrowed. So, I had to get out and mow my part.

The kids had been picked up by the village carpool, and I began to make my coffee. (Editor's note: the fact that I DO make coffee at home is a recent event - previously, I'd use my coffee maker to brew tea). I filled the back with water, and added the coffee to the reusable filter. I pressed "on" and began to search for the butter to add to my bagel.

Then I realized, it was strangely quiet. I listened intently. What was missing? I went through the mental checklist: kids? At school. Dog? outside. Laundry? not started yet. Coffee maker? THAT's IT! There was no steaming, no dripping.

I checked to be sure I'd turned it on. Yes. Plugged it in? Yes. Pot was properly positioned. Yes. Hmmm.... Electrical outlet tested and reset. Yes. I moved the coffee pot to another outlet. Still no luck. I sighed.

Did I really want to drive all the way to Wal*mart (5 miles) right now to get a coffee maker? That seemed a little ridiculous.

It was then that I noticed the folder on the counter. It was supposed to have been in my daughter's backpack. Her teacher needed the papers inside to pick the clip art for the "Get Up and Grow" program she was creating.

I grabbed my keys and headed to the car. So much for a saved trip to the elementary school this morning....BUT... since I'm out anyway....

A quick stop by Wal*mart proved to have the perfect coffee maker - on sale even! It even has the capability to turn itself on, so I can awaken to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. (And, it's black, so it ties into my kitchen better than the ol' white one did!)

At home, I unpacked it, filled it and transferred the reusable filter from the old pot to the new one. I pressed start. Almost immediately, I heard the steaming and the dripping... in stereo. Oh, how I laughed (and rolled my eyes just a little too!) when I turned around to find the "broken" coffee maker filling the pot with hot water.

After my cup of java.... I napped. (Good choice! I'd have never made it on caffeine alone!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moments of Gratitude: My Village

It has been raining seems like forever. According to, we have gotten more than 60% of our average May rainfall - in less than the first week of the month! Theoretically, that should mean, the REST of May should be beautiful... and dry...

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the rain! I love it when God waters the garden for me. The garden - and the grass - seem to love it, for they are growing like crazy! As a matter of fact, I commented to a friend that if it didn't stop raining pretty soon so I could mow, I'd have to borrow a goat to get the lawn under control!

But Monday afternoon, in my hour at home between a day of chair massage for the elementary school teachers and heading out for my Mommy Mental Health Night (translation: Kid-free grocery shopping and a yoga class!), I was reminded of how much I love my village!

I heard him first. My neighbor who mows my grass. Usually he mows our backyard, and I take care of the front and the detail work. Today, he mowed the front as well. His service has been the greatest gift to me. He started the summer we moved in - "It's hard enough raising kids, don't worry about your yard". I stood in shock. Stunned. Grateful.

My village helps me out a lot. Carpool. Supper club. They help me be at two places at once. They laugh with me, cry with me, pray with me. They keep me sane. They keep me focused. They keep me encouraged. Their presence in my life keeps me reminded of how much I am loved.

People wonder why I am willing to spend a day volunteering my massage skills to give the teachers at the elementary school 10 minutes in the massage chair. "To whom much is given, much is expected", for one thing. I have been given so, so much... it's one small way for me to pay it forward.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons of the Heart

I was talking with a friend the other night. We covered a lot of ground, but the thing that I held onto from the conversation was the difference between "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge".

Mostly, we were surprised at behavior of people who "know better".... well, "surprised", no... "know better", yes, of course. (ourselves included!)

Knowing is one thing. Accepting and living the knowledge is something entirely different. I realized at that point that when God has something to teach me, He's not teaching my head. He's teaching my heart.

Many times, it is something I already "know", but am struggling in accepting or implementing. I can will myself to do the right thing for a while, but unless my heart is aligned with His will, it will never stick. I will always revert to the alliances of my heart.

Perhaps the lyrics of Hillsong's "Hosanna" say it best:

"Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause
As I go from here into Eternity"

Be near me. Teach me. Touch me. Show me. Heal me. Lead me. Love me.

(and here... Here is where I need to create and insert a little video clip which shows my favorite sign: "God-connect". Words cannot adequately explain it. It is just one of those things that must be known and understood.... by the heart!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

God in Action...

I am being given another opportunity to watch God in action. This is something I will never tire of. (Though, I must admit, I'm glad the action is in someone else's life this time.)

I have a friend who is in the process of buying a house. The situation is a little complicated, but as she listens and obeys, the path is being cleared. Obstacle after obstacle is being set aside, and day by day, she is closer to her new home.

I know without a doubt the house will be everything she needs - and I believe it will become even more than that. It will be the sanctuary she desires for herself and for her family. Their refuge. Her cleft in the rock.

In the process, she is being given the gift of learning perseverance and the joy that comes with hard, hard work. When she is done, she will be exhausted. She'll look back and have no idea how it all came together - only through God could it have happened as it did. She will then be given a season of rest. Of that I am certain, for it has been that way in my life after each period of hard, hard work. And then, she will experience joy, and peace.

I look forward to being able to be of service in her process ... especially in regards to the yard. When I saw the house and got the tour a month or so ago, we walked the property as well. I pointed out the different plants and flowers that I knew to be growing there. It will be beautiful... and a gift to watch as each area comes to life.

Currently, it is a challenge for sure, but I see God's hand in it.... it has "blessing" written all over it!

Thank you, God, for blessing my friend.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Little Bits of Progress

There are days where I feel like I am going nowhere. Running as fast as I can on an never ending gerbil-wheel called motherhood. Then, there are other days - like the past few - where I feel like I have actually made some progress. I couldn't tell you what is different except the outcome.

The deck is stained, the mulch is spread. Best of all, I can see the top of my desk and my kitchen counter-tops! Even despite my best attempts at going "paperless", there seems to be a non-stop influx of paper into my house. Piles here and there - some to be sorted and filed, some require an action before they can be thrown away. It just seems to collect here.

Granted, I have a pair of first graders who tote reams of worksheets home every month. I get duplicate newsletters and announcements - but at least I have a better shot than most of actually GETTING the information! I am constantly perusing it, pulling out the "really good stuff" and dumping the rest in the recycling.

The church yard sale is coming up, so I have also been sorting through cabinets and closets. We're inundated with "stuff", and I'm breaking free! Bags of stuff we don't need and don't use will turn into cash for the youth. Win-win in my book!

My CD's are selling on, some books are listed. I even put some of my photographs - mostly of Chaco Canyon, NM - up on eBay. I had framed them to bring to a local coffee shop to display - though I won't tell you how long ago.... I've done nothing but dust them.

I am making progress. It feels so freeing!! As I find space in my closets, in my kitchen and in my garage, I am amazed at how much more deeply I can breathe. Just wait til I tackle the play room!

It's not fast-going, but it's going... Thank You, God!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Permeating the Home

I have been thinking a lot lately about the things I surround myself with, and how that effects me - positively or negatively. TV, music, books, friends, work, and my immediate environment all influence my attitudes and my outlook on life. They inspire and uplift, or ... they drag me down and hinder my progress.

I gave up watching the news years ago. Same stories, really, with different faces, different names. Occasionally, there was some good news. But, you know what? That's not the experience of my life. There is LOTS of good news. There is hope, there is joy, and there is love. I'm not saying that other stuff doesn't exist - it does. I witness it every day I'm at work. I'm just saying I don't need it to be permeating my home.

I was out in the garden when this thought passed through. The sun was shining and everything was lush and green. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Here is peace. Here is joy. Here is God.

It was breathtakingly beautiful. I was in awe of the way the leaves had sprung forth, and how each tree and flower knows exactly when it's time has come to grow and bloom. My heart was full and my spirit light.

I want the same INside my home. I've focused a lot of attention to my yard. For me, that's easy - I love being out in the sunshine, feeling the breeze, tending the earth. But I need to focus the same attention internally.

It's my home. My sanctuary. My refuge from the world. I want to walk in and feel the same as in the garden: Here is peace. Here is joy. Here is God.