Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Three R's ... #3 "R" -- Coming Out of the Milestone

Today was "the day" ... 

We've joked in my house this week that Granny only has one more year as a 40-something, then will be ready to knock over another decade.  Last year I reached my milestone of "48" and today I said hello to "49".
(You can read my 2 previous posts about how personal it has been for me to reach 48) 

 So now to close out this milestone year, I've looked deep into the mirror at the person staring back at me
 for my third "r" ...


 Here's just a few things I've learned about myself over the past year --

  • God in all of His omniscience and glory designed me as me ... nobody else can fulfill His plans & purpose for me.  And just as He designed me, He accepts me. 
  • The greatest joy I have is when I think of others before me.  I am truly at my worst when I feel selfish & self-centered.  That's not to mean that I need to do everything for others, but I know what God expects of me ... and I need to obey His call on my life.
  • Although I value what others think of me (going back to my previous post), only God defines me. The saying "what others think about me is none of my business" is a truthful statement.  That's between them and God ... not me.  [Unless I've hurt or offended anyone (which I hope I haven't).  But if I have, I pray they will come to me so we can get it straightened out.]
  • Being "positive" doesn't mean I'm a naive person ... it just means that I choose to accept that God has life under control. I may not understand, and I may not fully grasp the "whys", but I can hang on to my Father's promise that He knows His plans for me & it's all for my good.
  • When I feel overwhelmed, the safest place for me to be is on my knees.  I admit I have some anxiety over situations that are beyond my control ... but when I take deep breathes of God's peace and reassurance, I can give it all to Him to work things out for His glory and my good.
  • If I dwell on the past so much, then I miss the present.  My husband has told me that I'm really "not much good with too much time on (my) hands" ... and he is correct.  So, I prefer to learn from the past but live for today. There's times when I backslide on this, but I endeavor to keep my eyes set on the present.
  • I am blessed.  I am so blessed.  I am so very blessed.  Thank You, God, for Your blessings in my life.  I know that I take them for granted ... but thank You for allowing me to be blessed. 

And as I wrote this last post in my 3 part series, it occurred to me that I simply do not have another "number" that I consider "milestone-worthy".  I truly have never thought about any other number being monumental since I turned 16 in 1980.  And now, 33 years later, I'm breaking out of my one & only true milestone.  It's never bothered me about "getting older".  I never hesitate with answering when asked my age.  I've always been thankful for every birthday no matter what the "number".  

However, today, August 24, 2013 was a monumental day for me.

My husband started my day off with a little breakfast for the 2 of us, then we were home for some play time with Lucy & Tag.  Afterwards, the 6 of us had a special birthday lunch at Carrabba's (and leftovers for dinner!) ... 'Joe had to take Tag on a little drive after lunch, so ...
Lucy, her Mommy, Grandad & Granny all went to a new bakery across town personally owned & operated by 'Joe's aunt & uncle.  Then back home for some more family time (and I even got some Lucy-time all of my own ... oh how I love this little girl!)
And I got my birthday phone call from my parents this morning during breakfast.
(I don't know if they will ever know how thankful I am for both of them. I truly love my parents & all that they mean to our family.)

And so going forward ... 
with no "milestones" on my horizon ...

I continue to praise God for His unending grace & mercies
I continue to thank Him for His boundless blessings
I will continue to be where He needs me most

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Three R's ... #2 R -- In the Looking Glass

My "silent milestone" year has been a growing year for me. To most people, milestones are reached by the decade or even 5 years ... but my milestone was reached last year when I turned 48 years old.  You can click here  to read my post from last year's reaching this milestone, and then my recent post click here on my week of coming out of this milestone.

Which brings me to my second "r" of my past year ...


 My 48th year has been a time for me to look back over my life at where I've been 
and God's unending grace & mercy.  I don't think my life's experiences have been any coincidence of bringing me to where I am today.  All of these have shaped me into the person that I am now. Some have been positive experiences while others have been quite the opposite ... 
but as I reflect on even the challenges, one verse of Scripture comes to mind -- 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, KJV)

Not everything will always BE good, but God already worked it out for HIS glory ... 
I'm just His vessel to be worked through.  And not every experience we have in life will be a 
"Christian experience".  There's challenges that we all have to go through in order to bring us closer to the Throne of Grace. Just as Job faced his life experiences, we face ours.

So, back to my reflections ...

When our son-in-law was on his first deployment during their first married year, our daughter took a "6 word memoir" challenge.  As she read me hers I began to think 
"God, what would my 6 words be?  How can I possibly sum-up my life in just 6 words?"
So, I thought about it for a couple of days, then He gave it to me ...

being where God needs me most

Seems kind of simplistic and almost a "duh" moment.  But, there's certain points in my life that have come full circle.  When I was a little girl, my parents & I lived with my Granny and aunt.  I have that common life experience with my granddaughter & grandson.  I know just how important the grandparent relationship is to young children. Just as my relationship with my own Granny was priceless, I pray that my relationship with my grandchildren will be priceless to them too. 

If you read any of my posts, you'll soon get the message on how much I value relationships.  However, this past year has been a time of my learning more about the meaning of relationships and the impact I have on others.  Not that I haven't known this in the past, 
but I've been very keenly aware of my relationships with others over this past year.  
Every word that comes out of my mouth affects my relationships ... 
and even the words that don't come out of my mouth affects my relationships.
Every action ... every reaction ...
every thought ... every single thing ...
impacts my relationships.

Some of the soul-searching questions I've faced this past year have been a direct reflection from the mirror I see everyday.  And some of the most direct questions has been through my reading "What's it Like to be Married to Me?" by Linda Dillow.  Here's an excerpt that has spoken volumes to me in this past year ...

I want to take you on a journey with me, a  journey through your life as a wife; I want to help you live your marriage backwards.
To help you live with the end in view, I want to take you to a funeral ... In your mind's eye, visualize yourself going to a funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the church, parking the car, and getting out. As you enter the sanctuary, you hear your favorite worship song being played, you see the faces of friends and family and feel the sorrow of loss and the joy of having known that is so evident on their faces. As you walk to the front of the church and look inside the casket, you come face-to-face with yourself...
You look at the program in your hand and see that there is to be a speaker, your husband. Now think long and hard.
  • What would you like your husband to say about you after many years of marriage? 
  • What character qualities would you like him to have seen in you?
  • What kind of love relationship would you want him to describe?
  • What kind of love would you have wanted him to have received from you during all those years? 

I know, I know ... sounds kind of morbid.  But in my reflections this past year, 
this excerpt has always come to mind and provoked some questions of my own ...

How will I be remembered when I am no longer on this earth? What will my legacy be?  How am I doing as a wife, Granny, mother ... in all of my relationships?  How will Lucy & Tag remember me?  What will be said of me to my future generations? Will either of my grandchildren or future greats want to have some of my characteristics?

I've heard this statement at many funerals I've attended ...
(Our loved one) has already preached his (her) own funeral. 

Can't this be said of all of us?  I am preaching my own funeral everyday ... 
every choice I make ... every word I speak ... every action I take (or don't take) ... 
every aspect of my life is culminating into the impact I'm making while I'm here on earth 
as well as the legacy I will leave behind. 

So this past year, I've reflected.

I've asked myself some hard questions ...
I've chiseled past what the person in the mirror says to me ...
and I've looked beyond.

This lady is perhaps one of the best descriptions of where I am right now -- 
being in the middle ...
And praying I've been a blessing to someone along my journey in life.

Original artwork by Sheila Atchley Designs
Youth and old age met in the middle
and crowned her efforts with success. . .

As for me ...
I will continue to reflect and grow in my many roles here on earth.
I will continue to learn each day my purpose here on earth.
And I will continue to 
be where God needs me most



Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Three R's ... 33 Years in the Making

This week is the big week for me. It's been 33 years in the making... 
it's the week that I pass my silent milestone...  
it's the week of my 3 R's.

Today, August 18th I begin this week by considering the first "r" ... 


Today marked my dear Aunt's 81st birthday ... and also the day that we said our final earthly good-byes to her 48 years after her birth. You can CLICK HERE to read more about the significance of August 18th for my family. 
My birthday comes 6 days after my Aunt's birthday. And last year I turned 48 ... 
just like she did the day we said good-bye to her in 1980.

And just like I've done every August 18th since 1980 ... 
today I remember my Aunt --

her laughter
her smile
her common sense
her care
her beauty
her love

My Aunts & Uncles have been as much of a part of my value system as my parents & Granny have. I still keep up with them and my cousins & their kids although we live several hours apart. And although I miss each of those who have since gone Home to be with our Savior, 
I miss my Aunt Jacqueline "Hilda"
She was suddenly called Home on August 15 when a drunk semi-truck driver crossed the yellow line. Although her void in our family could never be replaced, she has always been remembered in our hearts for the past 33 years. 

When Dan & I were expecting our baby in 1986, we had no idea if "it" was a girl or boy. We had names chosen for both since I could not have an ultrasound (back then insurance would not pay unless it was a medical necessity -- which thankfully we were not in that situation).  So, we kept the name quiet. Oh we had another name picked out that we mentioned, but then we kept it quiet ... 

until the night our baby girl was born ...
almost 6 years after her Great-Aunt's car wreck ...
"Jacqueline" was born into our family
and my Aunt's legacy continues with her namesake.

So today, August 18th ...

I remember my Aunt Jacqueline "Hilda" and all that she meant 
to me & our family. 

And I begin my week-long process of coming through my silent milestone of 48.

I've used this picture before, but this is how I remember my Aunt Hilda -- 
she's standing up behind my Granny laughing ... 
and how I've missed her laughs over these past 33 years.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Game We Play While the Kids are Away

Last week the 'Joe family was at the beach ... not for a vacation, but for a military conference that 'Joe had to attend.  Mrs 'Joe had a few meetings to attend, but she was mostly on children-duty.  Small standard hotel room with a preschooler and a toddler ... oh yeah, and she had lost her voice a couple of days before leaving.  Pretty stressful trip, but one that would bring about a possible time-frame of 'Joe's release from his CBWTU (Community Based Warrior Transition Unit) which he has been in since last July upon his release from Walter Reed.  So for the next few weeks, they are still in a  "hurry up and wait" hold with setting up more appointments before his release from his past 18 months of medical orders.

Before they left, Lucy & I decided to play the game that she & her Mommy normally play when they are apart for any day trips -- the picture traveling game.  Lucy had her stuffed animal Fozzi Bear from The Muppets and I had the stuffed animal Lady from Disney's Lady and the Tramp movie.  We would exchange pictures and text messages on our adventures during the week.  
And at the end of the week, Lady & Fozzi ... along with Lucy & her grandparents (and Tag too!) would be reunited.  

So, here's how the week went...

Saying good-bye last Sunday morning -- I knew I was going to miss this girl!

Lady had some chores she wanted me to get done.  So that meant 
no "fun time" for Granny -- it was all house cleaning and catching up on much needed errands & working out.  Lady made sure Granny got some cleaning accomplished that I normally just cannot get done with 2 little distractions at home.

And she really missed Lucy & Tag -- not quite as much as Granny & Grandad missed the little ones though. 

But I think Lucy & Fozzi had the best time ... 
just look at these pictures Granny got ---

Fancy breakfast at the Inn the 'Joes stayed at ...

Fun at a pretty much private beach ... 

Of course a breakfast from McDonald's too!

And then Grandad & Granny took a little day trip on Thursday to see our grands ...
and we sure missed them!

The 'Joe family got home on Friday afternoon and our house has been filled with 
non-stop laughter, chaos and fun since!

PS -- the next several weeks will bring about some major transitions for the 'Joe family.  
Your continued prayers are always appreciated as this young Wounded Warrior family 
continues their journey to see what God has planned for their lives.  
Still many unknowns ahead ... 
but God is definitely the Commander of this family.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 Lessons Granny Learned This Week ...

My Granny always said that the day she stopped learning would be the day she would be Home with her Savior.  
Well, this Granny continues to learn just as her Granny did.
Sometimes these lessons can 
reaffirm what I already know ...
while other lessons can
re-evaluate what I think I've known all the time ...
then there's the lessons that can
be the toughest for me to grasp & understand. 

So here's five lessons I've reaffirmed and learned over the past week:

Making memories with my grandchildren is priceless.
For the past couple of weeks, both Lucy & Tag have been sick with a virus.  It's been a time of cuddling, watching some videos, napping ... a time to just focus on them.  Nothing else in our house matters when these 2 little ones are sick. No matter how old they get, they will always be my grandbabies. 

When I'm focused on God, everything falls together,
But when I lose that focus, everything falls apart.  
That was actually my motto when I taught middle school & high school in a ministry school.  I would tell "my kids" that this doesn't mean that life will be perfect and always go the way I want ... but rather to say that I will live out 
Romans 8:28 and know that God will work it all out for my good.  Just like Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water -- he had to either focus his eyes on Jesus or he would sink.   If I focus my sights on Him, then I will not sink into whatever situation comes my way in life. 
I am His child -- not the world's child.

I have control over my thoughts & feelings.
Sure satan will try to filter in his agenda to cause me to become doubtful, discouraged, disconnected ... only if I allow it.  I have the power and authority to tell satan to get out of my head.  Jesus told him to get behind Him in the Garden ... I can tell him that my thoughts are off limits to him.  I can turn from the negative and turn to the positive ... 
because greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). 

I don't have to wear a cape.
I confess that when I don't accomplish what I want within a certain time frame, I get discouraged.  But I'm learning that I don't have to be superwoman ... God made me to be me.  This lesson kind of ties in the other 3 prior ones.  I've always been my worst critic, so I'm learning more and more to accept me for who I am.  Are there areas that I can improve on? Certainly -- Granny sure doesn't profess to be perfect.  But am I really doing as bad as I think I am? Probably not.  Grandad is helping me to not be so negative on myself.  When he hears me saying something, he will respond by saying 
"I don't want you to talk like that about my wife."  
And if he accepts me, and God accepts me ... 
then I don't have to be superwoman.    

Deep breathing during the day is a necessity of life.
Our household is busy (just like millions of others).  Sometimes I am trying to do 20 things at once ... and sometimes I just simply don't have the faith & trust that things will get done.  And sometimes I forget to just simply breathe ... and realize that things will get done -- maybe not in my time frame, but they will get done.  And then there's times when the aspects of life just weigh heavy.  It's at these times that I just need to remember that deep breathing can 
redirect my focus
reclaim my focus
revive my focus

{And breathing is a good thing}