Overcoming … with Gratitude

Recently, Eli, who is my youngest,
posted a photo on Facebook and
taught me a lesson about
overcoming (fill in the blank)
with gratitude.

 

In the photo, he was wearing a plaid flannel shirt.
A shirt that once belonged to his dad …
a mighty man who died 20 years ago.

Eli posted:
I came across (my dad’s) old shirt and had to try it on.
I was surprised to see that I still barely fit into it.
So many years have passed and
I still felt like a toddler trying on my dad’s clothes.
He was such a big man and part of me hoped
I would fill it out after all this time.

But then it dawned on me
that I was meant to be my own man
and make my own path.

As I put the shirt away to find again another day,
I thought about how lucky I was
to be in such a wonderful place in my life
with so many loving supportive people around me.

I miss you Dad and
I am so thankful to be from your bloodline
but I am so joyful that my life played out the way it has.

He closed with,
“I’ll see you on the other side some day.”

(Eli “helping” his dad, Jay, (Hot & Hunky) with a plumbing project. – 1996)

4CBE274E-178E-4359-823D-6788B74927E5

A84341AA-0E19-45B0-8D71-D0BE52BDC110

 And just like that,
I was in a puddle.

Grief is like that.

It comes when it comes and
there is no predicting when it will
turn your life inside out
and upside down.

Grief can knock you down,
but it doesn’t have to knock you out.

Read More

30 Day Challenge

Instead of making
New Year’s resolutions this year,
I’m going to take 30 Day Challenges instead.

Girlfriend, I’ll be honest,
I run out of rockets fast.

Setting goals for an entire year overwhelms me.
But 
I can
manage,
tolerate or
endure
almost anything …
if I know it’s only for 30 days.

Can’t you?

Some goals are just too big.

How successful do you think you’d be if you tried to:

Lose all the weight you’ve gained since you were 13?
Not very!
Could you stop eating chocolate for 30 days?
Sure!

Think you will read the entire Bible in a year?
Probably not!
Could you read a chapter every day for 30 days?
No doubt!

Want to get out of debt this year?
That would be great, but ambitious.
Could you put an extra 10% of your paycheck toward debt for 30 days?
Oh yeah!

Going to be more productive this year?
Giving up all your vices like Netflix or Facebook or Candy Crush?
Tough to go cold turkey on your favorite time wasters!
Think you could c
ut back to 20 minutes a day for 30 days?
No problem!

Read More

Wonder & Joy For All Seasons

Can I confess that
when the calendar rolls over
to December 26th,
a sweet relief falls on me?

There is no more pressure to
send one more card or
shop for one more present or
bake one more cookie or
attend one more holiday gathering.

It is finished.
I’m grateful and I’m relieved.

Christmas comes with its
own set of stressors.

For some,
this Christmas has been a season of dread.
The death of a loved one has left
empty spaces at tables and in hearts so vacuous
that facing the cheerfulness of the holiday
was nearly impossible.

Christmas 2016 is past.
December 26th comes
with a deep sigh of relief.

For others, Christmas evoked
unexpected emotions.

Empty nesters slept in on Christmas Day,
missing the pre-dawn promptings from
children eager to open presents under the tree.

Read More

Merry Christmas!

I feel like such an overachiever for getting Christmas cards done this year
and bonus points for getting them in the mail before Dec. 25!

I just wish everything in my life
was functioning so efficiently.

I’m months behind on my next writing project,
my bathrooms are in desperate need of a scrubbing,
my checkbook is dangerously close to being overdrawn,
I have no idea where the Christmas decorations are and
the number on my scale is at an all-time high.

Merry Christmas!
woo hoo!

Read More

The Present of Presence

 

Our holiday season got off to a rough start,
starting with Thanksgiving.

I planned to serve Thanksgiving dinner at 12:30. 
At noon, the turkey wasn’t close to cooked.

I’d calculated the cooking time,
the resting time,
the carving time,
so that everything would be hot and ready at the same time.

Tick.
Tick.
Tick.

An hour went by and still that bird was not done!

Mashed potatoes and stuffing,
sweet potatoes and green been casserole
waited impatiently in warming ovens until 3:30
when that bird finally surrendered enough
breast meat to give each person a sliver.

Arrgh!

Girls, it was the ugliest looking plate of food
I’ve ever served on Thanksgiving.
Tasty, but ugly.

Interestingly, holding dinner hostage gave us
all time to really catch up,
watch the Lions win,
play some board games with the littles
and some even took a short nap.

Read More

The Secret to Being Thankful is Focus

The secret to
being thankful
is focus.

When I learned to drive motorcycles,
I discovered very quickly that
where you look is
where you go!

Through the curves,
around the obstacles
or
into the ditch!

In this season of busyness and frivolity,
it’s easy to lose your focus.

If you’re anything like me,
you start to focus on what everyone else is
doing,
decorating,
devouring,
or delighting in.

Comparisons take up the space
in my mind and heart that
God is supposed to inhabit.

Instead of being thankful for what I have,
I focus on what
SHE has,
or what SHE does,
or what SHE gets
or how SHE looks.

I compare home decorating skills,
culinary prowess,
the number of Christmas cards received,
the extravagance of gifts,
and the size of her dress.

Read More

Trusting God with Big Changes

I don’t love change.

Anyone else with me?

In my quiet time this morning,
I realized I was sitting on 20 year old couches,
looking at walls painted 20 years ago,
dressed in pjs and robe that were,
yes, you guessed it,
about 20 years old.

Girls, change challenges me!

I barely like change even when it’s my idea!

But,
keeping things the same
is no safeguard from pain.

Things break and wear out.
Children grow up and move away.
Friends die or move on.
Opportunities evolve and disintegrate.

Change is necessary.
Change is good.
Change is inevitable.

Read More

Old Faces on New Friends

Every morning,
the “Walkers” powered past my house,
merrily chatting away as they exercised. 

Trim and fashionable in their cute outfits,
and bright athletic shoes,
this cluster of women was oblivious of
my longing to be included in their lives.

New to the neighborhood and
new to parenting,
I was desperate for a friend.

Still dressed in my pajamas,
with my hair in a wadded pony,
I wanted to holler out the window,

“Hey! I’m lonely.
Would you be my friend?”

Figuring that strategy might make them walk even faster,
I devised another plan to intercept them.

Many evenings after supper,
I put my baby in his stroller and casually traced their route
hoping for a chance meeting that
would get me invited into their circle.

Instead, I encountered Bob,
an elderly man with thick, white hair and
sparkly blue eyes.

Read More

Flourishing In Life Requires Living In Community

There was a time when girls learned how to
 flourish in life from other women
in their community.

Women in the family.
Women in the neighborhood.
Women at church.

Side by side or hand in hand,
wisdom and advice
was dispensed and practiced.

I learned to peel hard boiled eggs,
mend a torn shirt,
and walk in high heels
from the women who loved and nurtured me.

I learned to dress with style,
listen to a boring story with an engaging smile on my face,
and host a party
from watching the women in my neighborhood.

I learned to study the Bible
pray with expectancy, and
treat my husband with love and respect
under the tutelage of the women at my church.

Living in community is important!

Even though women tend to be relational,
we are losing our connectivity
due to the demands on our time
and
the abundance of virtual relationships.

We hide behind busyness and
pretend that “liking” a Facebook post
is the same as personal engagement.

It’s not!

 

Read More

Live Loved Even When You Feel Left Out

 

The conversation turned awkward with the realization
that I hadn’t been included in the festivities
my friends were reminiscing about.

Not included.

 

Smiling faces beamed in the Facebook photos
of a wedding I wasn’t invited to.

Not invited.

 

The note read,
Your uncle died last month.
I’m so sorry,
we just forgot to let you know …

Not remembered.

 

What do you do when
you feel left out?

 

A variety of options pop into my head.

Hide.

Curl up in the fetal position and
suck my proverbial thumb till the hurt goes away …
till the next time or the next trigger reminds me
I’m not enough.

Pretend.

Post my own fun pictures,
Talk about my recent exploits.
Put on my happy face and say it doesn’t matter.
But it does, doesn’t it?

Retaliate.

Blast a nasty text or post with tags galore,
but that never goes well.
Even if I get some temporary relief or satisfaction,
inevitably,
a harsh response only causes more hurt
and often bigger regret.

Run.

I can run away, but I can rarely outrun the hurt.

Instead of running away … 

Read More