Being Seen

Last week there was a knock at my door. The dogs were going crazy. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw an orange jeep in the driveway. I don’t know anyone with an orange jeep. I figured I’d find out, as I walked to the laundry room door, keeping my barking, maniac dog at bay.

“Are you Dawn?”, a kind face asked. “Yes”, I replied. The woman introduced herself as she handed me a container full of cookies. “You like cookies, I hope?”. “Yes, I do”.

“I left my husband doing yard work at home”, she said with a smile. “I told him I was going to meet Dawn”. I felt humbled. Truth is, it was nice to meet her.

This woman standing on my porch, is the bus driver on my rural road. Even though I no longer have school age children, I would always be outside feeding the horse and chickens in the early morning hours when she went by. She would cheerily honk the bus horn at me and I would wave. I never saw her face. I didn’t know her name. I did know that she made me smile each morning as we both participated in our regular morning routine.

As the school year was drawing to an end, and summer break was awaiting, I decided to send her a card through the school transportation department. I just wanted her to know I appreciated her. I wanted her to know that something as simple as a friendly bus horn honk each morning made me happy. It made me glad to live on a country road.

I am trying to be more mindful of my interactions with people. A smile to someone, a genuine compliment, an act of kindness. We are all in this life together, and sometimes it is just the simple act of “seeing” someone else that can have a profound effect.

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It Has Been Far Too Long

Today marks exactly four months since I have posted. That is far too long.

I just celebrated my 51st birthday this past week. I am still not quite sure how I feel about being 51, not that I have much choice about my age. The saying about time not stopping for anyone is true. Although some of my days have seemed long, the years have moved swiftly.

There are things that I am passionate about, and other things that mean very little to me. Over the years I’ve learned to be more mindful of what I say and do in my daily life. I actually attempt to slow down and ask myself, “Is this important? Is is relevant to me? Will it make a positive difference?” And yes, long before I ever heard of Marie Kondo, I’d ask if this action is bringing me joy? With that being said, I am going to share some of those parts of my life that matter.

  1. People matter. Relationships. Talking with my husband. Cards from my mom. Texts from my sister that make me laugh. Watching my kids as young adults, making decisions. Grandchildren that I would do anything for. Coffee with a friend. Smiles from complete strangers. Listening to other’s stories. Responding to people. Hearing them. Really seeing them. This network of people that hold the strings of life together.
  2. Time is valuable. What do I choose to spend my time on? Finally realizing after all these years that it is okay to take time for me, to relax. To be quiet. To read. To just breathe. It is not a waste of time to do nothing in particular. Some days that is the best way to spend valuable minutes.
  3. My relationship with Jesus. Not just a church icon. Not the Sunday School picture version of Jesus. Not church ritual or a holiday necessity. Jesus, the only Son of the living God. The One who knows me by name and sees me in both my good and my bad and loves me. I am reminded of what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is not always easy, in fact most times it is not easy. People laugh. They shake their heads. I want to see them as Christ does, people drowning in their own selves, not even aware of their need for a Savior, but loving them anyway. Years ago I was that person. In a broken world, full of hurting people, I need to be light in the darkness.
  4. Do my passions align with my time is valuable? Relationships are important? Following Jesus? I don’t want to waste myself on things that don’t really matter. I give my time to advocacy for those with disabilities, bringing awareness to human trafficking/sex trafficking especially of minors, education and research on vaccines and medical freedom, and teaching children how to be lifelong learners. I will never be rich from my passions, but these things definitely light up my spirit. What things make you a warrior?

No matter your age, what are some things that make your life better?

Every Moment An Adventure

Her hair is a wild halo of brown curls. She pushes it off her face with a quick swipe of her small hand. Her arm has the remnants of a purple marker, a reminder of her artistic ability that will wash off at her next bath. She is full of energy, bouncing and jumping, running and riding. Her bounce horse is sporting a pair of jingle bells for the season. They ring loudly as she rides her horse into the last lap, heading for home! Her sweet childish laughter rings out, infecting all those around her with a smile. I believe it is impossible to be sad when in the company of this sweet toddler. She is the pint-size embodiment of blazing hot sunshine….not the sunshine of a warm summer day, more like her going 100 mph with her hair on fire. Just sayin’.

Socks on and socks off, slippers next. In the life of a toddler, clothes are a necessary evil. It is so much easier to run and jump unencumbered without the restrictions of pants and a shirt. Striped leggings, butterfly wings, and Nana’s cat socks. Colors and softness and all things cozy. Fashion sense is less about sensibility and more about fun and freedom. 

A small voice that is just learning to sing Old McDonald’s Farm and Jesus Loves Me floats on the air from the backseat. I turn around to look and she is swaying back and forth to the music in her head. Her PopPop and I sing along. At the end of the impromptu concert, we get a not-standing ovation, clapping her hands and saying, “Good job!” My heart melts and leaks happiness all over.

Thank you, Let’s go!, and Outside?, are favorite words, ones that are used most often. Last night we read Olivia- Countdown to Christmas. In the world of children’s literature, Olivia is a little girl pig. She found the story fascinating and enjoyed sticking Olivia stickers all over the book. That is part of the fun! Being engaged with her and what she is doing is exhausting, and enlightening, and worth every single minute.

Every moment is an adventure. Every day a blessing. 

Psalm 139 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Another Classmate Gone

I am on an alumni site for my high school in Maryland, class of ’86. Yesterday a friend posted that another one of our classmates had passed away, there have been several. Looking at his high school senior picture, I was reminded that we are not here forever. Oh, most of us live like we are going to be here for a long time, and then expect to die peacefully in our sleep when we are one hundred one.

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Life is short, whether we live to be a centenarian or only take a few short breaths at birth. It is all short in the scope of eternity. This verse comes to mind,
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. (James 4:14)

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I pray for Mrs. Tia Coleman, the woman who recently lost nine of her family members in the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, including her husband and children. From a sweet family picture before their adventure to a horrible storm and tragedy that is changing her life forever.

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I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting caught up in stuff on a daily basis that doesn’t really matter. My perspective gets skewed, and I worry too much. I waste my days on this and that, robbing myself of the joy of this life. I need to be more mindful of my moments, my memories, even my mundane.

Life is a wonderful gift.

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Letting Him Go

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If you are a parent, I believe you will understand my heart as I write this post. My son, Kendrick, graduates from university this coming Saturday. I am excited for my son. Four years (that went by way too quickly!) of long hours, studying, a myriad number of tests and field work culminates this weekend. He will approach the stage empty-handed but will leave that same stage with a degree. My son, in his early 20’s, has already had much real-world experience in his major. He is an excellent cinematographer who has witnessed first hand the heartache of hurricane Harvey, made videos for a non-profit that helps people around the world, and was part of a film group that won awards at a local film festival. Working in film entails a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. He would probably also add, a lack of sleep. As his mom, I worry he doesn’t get enough rest, and truth be told he probably doesn’t!

 

 

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I am proud of my son, as any parent would be when their child graduates. But, more than I am proud of his numerous accomplishments in his field, and the wise decisions he has made along the way, I am at peace about where he will go and what he will do in this life. Independent. Intelligent. Wise. A Warrior’s Heart……. and sometimes a little CrAzY. (Sorry, just sayin’.) My peace about him, and for him, does not come from me or how I feel. It doesn’t come from his accomplishments or travels. I am at peace because my son, my dear son, made the most important decision of his life when he was a little boy. He chose Jesus. Everything else doesn’t even compare to that most important, life-changing decision. I realize it is not always easy to walk the walk. I know he has made (and will continue to make) mistakes. But, some of life’s most important lessons come from our failures. Some of my favorite sayings come from this very thing. “This too shall pass”. (Just hang on!) “You can do anything for a short period of time.” (So when life feels overwhelming remind yourself that you will get through it.) and “A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you don’t make the turn.” (Life isn’t always going to work out the way we wish it would. Stay focused. Stay on the road. Who knows? A new and exciting adventure might be right around the corner.)

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As a mom, I have to let my child go. Over the last several years I have had to slowly loosen my grip on him. As a baby, and a young child, he needed me. He needed me to take care of him, keep him safe, teach him well. At almost twenty-three he doesn’t need me in that same way anymore. I am not saying he doesn’t love me or need me, but it is not in the same way. If he reads my post to him he will know his mama’s eyes are “moist” as she types these words.

Kendrick will have family and friends celebrating with him this coming Saturday. In the midst of the days leading up to this event, my thoughts wander to my late husband, Kendrick’s daddy. He died when Kendrick was just five years old, in the Fall of his son’s kindergarten year. His daddy was there at the beginning of school, and I hope that God allows my late husband to witness Kendrick graduating college all these years later. He would be so happy and proud. Having been so young when his father died, these big life events are bittersweet. Tears of happiness and sadness mixed together.

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Letting go……loving you……Congratulations on your graduation, Kendrick!

 “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 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

When Life Threatens To Bust Me Wide Open

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The things meant to sustain us, are often the things that drain us…

Some days break me. Crack me wide open. I feel exhausted and moody. Eeyore has nothing on me. You all know what I’m saying. We’ve all been there.

It is not one thing in particular, but many small things that chip away at me. The cat puked on the couch. My grand daughter is not interested in hugs and kisses this morning, even when I desperately need her sweetness. My students are not into the lessons I am trying to teach. I am pouring myself into the Revolutionary War and all I get in return is a blank stare. My college classes are drowning me in assignments that I try to squeeze into the cracks of my otherwise hectic life, and my resentment toward my <innocent> professor grows. I am behind in typing my home school summaries. (Parents, please forgive me!) Messes I didn’t make. Muck I didn’t create. And Misunderstandings that I hate.  Life is hard. And all I really want to do is curl up in a blanket, read a book and forget about schedules, deadlines, and craziness.

Just when I was feeling like I was going under for the third time, and life was looking bleak, my husband reminded me of something. He said, “Dawn, remember your one thousand gifts. Remember your practice of writing all your blessings”.  “Yes”, I barely whisper. Blessings. Things that God chooses to gift me with. All the small but great. The subtle but sensational. The soft, and wonderful and silly. I write on the good days, to sustain me through the bad ones. To remind me through the hard. The jagged and broken. On those days when I am fragile and cry over running out of green tea.

When life threatens to bust me wide open, or worse when it punctures me leaving a slow leak of joy….emptying me. I will choose joy.

Today I choose joy. I choose life. I choose to be thankful.

*Rainy Saturdays *Cool Fall-like weather *September *Fall is on the way! *Sleeping in *Wearing leggings and an oversized t-shirt (comfy clothes) *Reading my Chasing Slow book *Quiet house *A husband who loves me even when I feel unlovable *Safety for my children *A grand daughter that turned one a few days ago. *Excellent lab results *The smell of coffee brewing. *A God who whispers to me, calming my soul. *Friends *Second, and third, and fourth chances at getting things right. *Smiles *A new haircut *Old quilts * Dog licks *Netflix *Dancing to music in the kitchen *Gluten-free pizza *Family *Texts from my sister *Laughing

 

Life Still Isn’t Slow…

I am still reading Chasing Slow. The book isn’t a massive volume and I very much enjoy reading it, but finding the time to slow down, on most days, can be daunting. How apropos that I would need to slow down to read about slowing down. Go figure.

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I, probably like most people, have lived a life that has taken many unexpected twists and turns. I often ponder the fact that when I was in high school I didn’t think I’d go to college five hundred miles away, in Tennessee. When I was was in college I never expected to stay in Tennessee after graduation, but to go back to my home state of Maryland to teach. The summer after I graduated from college, I never expected one of my professors to contact me about a special education job in a school in rural Tennessee. I didn’t expect to stay in Tennesse for the next twenty years. I didn’t know when I married at twenty-four that I’d be widowed and a single parent just a short eight years later. I didn’t know if I’d get remarried, especially to a man that lived in Texas. Yep. I married that guy. After a few years we decided to move to Ohio, and build our own house in the middle of what used to be a farm field. All these things, events, this life I call my own, none of this was part of my master plan. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in a Cape Cod style house, in one of the New England states. I’d enjoy leaf peeping during the Autumn months, hikes through the mountains, and spend time reading books of poetry by Robert Frost. Alas, the Master Planner, had other plans for me. Better plans. Special plans. Surprising plans.

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Those of you that know me, know I am not a laid back kind of person…and yes, the world needs people like me! I am the one with the to-do list and the daytimer planner. I like things organized, alphabetized, and accessorized. I love a good surprise if it is a fun birthday gift or a Christmas present, but not so much anything else. If I start something I want to finish it. I don’t like loose ends. Yet, here I am in rural Ohio, surrounded by corn fields, and occasionally the neighbor’s rogue llamas.

Life still isn’t slow….but, I am working on it.

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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