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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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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Life Is More Enjoyable

Why is it when I long to slow down, the rest of the world seems to speed up? Do I really want to jump on this merry-go-round that spins me until I feel sick? Faster and faster until I have to get off….

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As a young adult, I used to think I had to be where the action was. The real party didn’t even start until late….and I had to stay up to enjoy it. Life was meant to stay busy. Do things. Stay up. Stay out. Stay moving. Life, with all of its ups and downs, has certainly changed that perspective.

There is so much more to see and experience when I slow down to savor the moments. Slowing is not boring, nor is it always easy, but it sure does make life more enjoyable.

  • Shadows of sunlight in the early evening
  • Summer sunsets
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Bubbles
  • Laughter with my husband
  • Freshly wiped down counters
  • The smell of lavender
  • Cats purring
  • Giving the dog belly rubs
  • A new phone case
  • Checking things off my to do list
  • Sipping tea
  • Emailing family
  • Bare feet
  • Purple nail polish
  • Darkness at 9 pm (which means Fall is on the way!)
  • Grown children that hug and say I love you
  • Help with dinner
  • Folded blankets
  • The warm glow of salt lamps
  • The smell of freshly cut grass

Around The Bend In The Road

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One of my passions in life is to listen to people’s stories. To know people through their stories. To see people through their experiences. To try and understand the meaning behind the expressions.

Everyone has a story inside them. With some, the story leaks out slowly, while with others, it pours out, causing a flood of emotions. Some stories bring sweet memories, and some bring bitter tears. Funny, sad, mesmerizing, sweet. Stories of what is right, as well as some difficult lessons from regrets. Anyone that has lived for any amount of time on this spinning orb, has that story.  Their story. The story that only he/she can tell.

The stories become real and personal. The words wind their way through time and memory, etching meaning into the mundane as well as the miraculous.

This week I am going to begin to tell a story. My story.

I hope you will join me.

 

Finding Beauty

The older I get the more I want to find beauty. To see it in people’s faces. To recognize it in their laughter. To find it in their tears. Life is a struggle (for us all), and so many times I find myself weighted down with all the things that are going on in the world, but yet still…I look for ways to list all the ways that people are beautiful. The smooth, sweet smelling skin of my five month old grand daughter, her contagious laughter instantly changing my mood. The older lady in the store parking lot, smiling at me. The UPS delivery man who is always so friendly and kind, even though I know he is tired. My husband who works hard for me and for his family. The neighbors who offered help, and unconditional support when we lost our beloved dog. My friends who know me, and know my heart, and I theirs. There is beauty. I just keep my eyes open for it.

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I enjoy being outside. I like to take sky pictures… And field pictures… And animal pictures. And yes, people pictures, in my search for beauty. The other night I walked out on the deck, waiting to call the dogs in for the night. The cold, crisp winter air was still as I peered up. The sky was blacker than ink, with sparkling glitter. I find moments like this to be holy. I am reminded how small I am, and how big God is. The intricate workings of the Milky Way, created by the sound of His voice. Beautiful.

Scented soap homemade from a friend, texted messages and voicemails from family and friends, iced tea, and iced coffee, holding hands and holding hearts, baby laughter, and giggles, good books and timeless stories, friendships that have withstood both time and distance, children who are now adults, but still say, “I love you”, pictures on the refrigerator, and smiles from strangers at the grocery store, dogs that lay their heads in my lap and lick me until I pet them, wedding rings and commitment, love and loyalty and fun. God is so good and He chooses to gift me with beautiful people and beautiful moments and ……..

I am so thankful.

 

 

Showing Grace

We always have a choice.

To show grace to others, or not.

Yep, I get it.

Sometimes people do things, and we think we are justified to let them know they are wrong…even if we don’t express those thoughts with words. Many times actions speak much louder than our words ever could. We take the moral high ground, because we are right after all. That’s what we think. We didn’t make the poor choices. We didn’t make the wrong decisions. The “unforgivable sins”. If we act like everything is okay, doesn’t that appear like we are condoning whatever it is? That attitude is so easy to slide into. That we are better because we didn’t do those things.

And yet, it is when we show grace to others, that we are the most like Jesus. Choosing to love….in the midst of the mess. Choosing to forgive…is not accepting less.

When we acknowledge our own brokenness, the darkness of our own hearts, our own poor choices, mistakes, and mess ups, we begin to understand the amazing grace shown to us by Jesus. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He didn’t say, “I’ll wait until you are perfect.” Instead He said, “I love you”.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.