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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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.

Enjoying The Moments

Winter has come early. Last Friday it snowed, and today we have a coating of freezing rain. The school district wisely closed for the day because things are pretty slick out there. I still got up at my regular time of 5:30am because I enjoy my morning quiet, it is my time before the rest of my family begins to stir. 

I have my hot coffee (with dairy-free almond milk vanilla creamer). I have a load of laundry going, fed all the pets and let them out to take care of business. Now, I get to sit and just enjoy… for the moment.

The front window is covered in icy freezing rain so the world looks distorted as I gaze out onto the side yard. The smaller kitchen window, protected by the deck roof gives a better view. The sky is a cold gray, smoky smudges on the outside pallet. The wind gauge is quickly spinning around telling me the breeze is going to be cold this morning on my walk over to the barn. The grass looks crunchy coated in the coolness of ice. 

Thanksgiving is just a week away. Time is quickly slipping through the hourglass, and I don’t feel ready. I haven’t shopped for the big meal yet. (How long does a turkey have to thaw again?) Anyone that knows me, knows Christmas truly is my most wonderful time of the year. I love to decorate! With that said, I also love Thanksgiving. For me, it is a time to ponder and think about the year past and all the things big and small that I am thankful for. I don’t want to forget thankfulness….gratefulness….blessings in the midst of the frantic and hectic holiday season. 

So thankful for: 

*family *a loving husband that I genuinely enjoy hanging with *my young adult children–they are good kids *my grandchildren–there is nothing better than being a grandparent *a warm house that God blessed us with 9 years ago *Warm blankets *furry friends *a full refrigerator *hot drinks *colorful socks *a comfy bed *yummy dairy-free ice cream (it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream always) *friends, old and new *plans with my peeps *Christmas shopping *my mom, who is my biggest encourager and without whom I would not be the woman I am today *my sister whose funny texts keep me laughing *my master’s degree *my students that make me smile, and their families that make me feel like part of the family *

My cup runneth over…

Where God Will Take Him

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He had already been through so much before I even met him. This dark-haired teenager (who was already sporting a beard)  who loved teasing and joking around was to be my new student. This young man had heart surgery just hours after his entrance into this world. He had neurological, skeletal, cardiac and breathing issues. The doctors told his parents their son might never run and might only walk with an odd gait. They said he might talk in a way only those close to him would be able to understand. Over the three years I worked with him, he was in the hospital, had to have respiratory therapy, seen heart doctors, and struggled with academics.

It would be so easy for him to give up. He could have become angry at his lot in life… defiant due to his disabilities. But, that is not my friend, Keith’s, story. He is choosing how his life is going to play out. At twenty-six years old, he is an overcomer. He is not defeated, he is delivered. He has not given up, he has grabbed hold. He does not seek pity, he only wants to push himself.

Keith does not know a stranger. His social life is more exciting then most, and if you want to see him you need to make sure you get on his calendar. He is one busy young man! Keith is not afraid to ask people if they “know Jesus”. His heart might not be typical for one his age, but it is big. His heart is big because he loves people. His sweet innocent spirit is refreshing in what can sometimes be viewed, by most, to be a cynical and difficult world.

A couple of years ago, Keith got involved in adaptive climbing. He has conquered competitive climbing, winning in national competitions, and is now on his way to represent the USA in the World Paraclimbing Championship in Innsbruck, Austria in about a week and a half. I am praying for Keith as he travels from Ohio, USA, half way around the world to compete. I am proud of him.

God often times will expand our horizons beyond what we seek. A couple of years ago, Keith had no idea where God would take him. The same goes for each of us. No matter where you might find yourself right now, even if you are in a seemingly impossible spot, God can make a way when there seems to be no way. All things are possible with God.

This is one of my favorite verses, and a wonderful reminder for us all.

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV

 

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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Whitewater And Time

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I don’t know if it is the fact that I am older, (not ancient mind you, but wiser…that is my story and I am sticking to it) but time seems to be roaring through the weeks much like a raft on whitewater rapids. I’ve been white water rafting before and ended up flying off the raft when we hit exceptionally rough water. I was completely disoriented as the water went over my head, and the roar of the water filled my ears. Thankfully, I was able to right myself and get back in the raft. I was soaking wet but safe. So, yes. That is how I feel about time right now. Time is fast. So fast. No slowing down. No turning back. Once this day is gone, it’s gone.

Even though that is true, I want to remember the days. I want to cherish the moments, and that is difficult to do when one feels the spray hit her face and feels herself being pulled under into the churning basin of time. Why do I always feel like I have to rush when my heart’s desire is to just slow down?!

Stay awake. Stay afloat. Keep my head above the water. Enjoy the minutes.

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A reminder to open my eyes and really see what each day brings. Let’s face it, some days are going to be better than others. I’ll admit there are days when I am glad it is time for bed because I am exhausted and just want the day to be done. But, most of the time I don’t want to check the minutes and hours. I want to hold them a little longer. Laugh harder. Smile more. Cry if I need too. I want to hold hands and hold hearts. I want to admire the sunset, pet the dogs and cats, write the email. I want to smell dinner cooking, look out the window, get tan and be barefoot. I want a little more time. I can’t change the clock, but I can change my attitude so that those moments seem longer and fuller.

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It’s Complicated…

Life.

Just when I think I’m in for some smooth sailing, something happens. It never fails. As it goes, people are always just coming out of a trial, about to go into a trial or find themselves smack dab in the middle. In the middle of the mess and muck. Sometimes it isn’t even your fault. You had nothing to do with it, and yet…..there you are.

I am the type of personality that does not enjoy confrontation. I am not a drama mama. Just give me my front porch, a super cold iced tea, and a good view. I find myself wishing life was that uncomplicated and easy, but alas, it is not. Oh, sure. There are “seasons” of easy, some smooth sailing, but the storm is always on the horizon. Something is looming…..ready to steal my peace. We all live in a broken, sin-cursed world. Sometimes the pieces of broken are jagged and hard.

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From my own personal experience, I have found it to be true that it is indeed the hard, choppy waters that grow me and make me strong. The big waves that threaten, lead me to call out to the One who can calm any storm. The wind and the waves hear His voice and obey. I listen for Him and He reminds me that He is the Prince of Peace, the Great I AM, and the Beginning and the End. There are no surprises with God. He’s got me covered.

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I know in my own life, when my (late) husband was first diagnosed with an incurable heart condition at age 32 (and I had just turned 31, and our son was 5), he could no longer work, he was declining into a black hole of depression because of this…..my life felt out of control. A tsunami of doubt and fear of the unknown was looming over me and I was scared. Scared I was going under. Smack dab in the middle of this horrible time, God met me. People, I will admit, it wasn’t easy. Part of me was in denial, and the other part was terrified. I was young, my husband was young, our son was young……and as my husband was looking death in the face, I was brought to my knees. Crumpled. Begging. Crying. I was drowning. God brought me through this time in my life. It will be 18 years ago this November that my husband went home to Jesus. Looking back, I can honestly say, I know things now, I can relate to others that are hurting, in ways I never would have been able to before. I tell my friends, I am an “empathetic free-cryer”. My heart aches along with theirs. When you have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, you know Jesus in ways others cannot understand unless they have also been through it. He carried me on the days I could not walk.

Several years later I remarried to a man who had also lost his spouse when he was in his thirties. In the first five years of our marriage, we sold both our homes, built another home out of state, and moved. Right smack dab in the middle of building our dream farmhouse in what once used to be a cornfield in rural Ohio, my husband lost his job. It was in January 2009 when the economy took a nose-dive and a myriad number of people were getting laid off. The loss of a job is always a hard thing, especially when it wasn’t expected, and especially when one is already committed to building a house! There were a lot of tears, fear of the unknown, and worry about losing everything we had already sunk into our dream house. The huge tidal wave was approaching fast and I was scared it would take us all, my husband, our children, and me, under. It was hard to breathe, as the waves pummeled us. I remember one night in particular when my husband and I prayed and cried……. We were reminded that no matter what happened, even if we lost everything, God was still good and He would not leave us nor forsake us. We would come out of this situation one way or another. It is one thing to say you trust God, quite another to actually live that out. It was our time to show God we trusted Him.

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Life is complicated. It doesn’t always work out the way we had hoped. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen to bad people. In the midst of all the ups and downs, tears and laughter, mountain tops and valleys…God is there. You cannot go wrong by placing your trust in Him in whatever circumstance(s) you find yourself in the middle of.

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