Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Family Weekend ... Need More Often

Last weekend Dan & I took Lucy on a little quick family trip.  Most of our family had not met Lucy in person and had only seen pictures & read stories on Facebook, emails & phone conversations.  So, our adventure began -- left our house bright & early on Saturday morning and was back to our house by Monday evening -- 
3 states & lots of driving time.

We would have loved to have seen more of the family, but on these whirlwind trips we are grateful for those whom we can visit (even if it's just meeting at a local restaurant for a couple of hours).  We had lunch with several from my side of the family & missed seeing others who could not make it (but we'll definitely have to carve out more time to spend on the next trip!)

While everyone else was being healthy with salads and soups or sandwiches, this is what Lucy and I split
 (and Grandad *had* to finish it for us) ...
yes, it's one delicious stack of double chocolate chip pancakes topped off with whipped cream (and we did have a side order of scrambled eggs -- some of the best we've ever had I might add).
Ahhhhhhhhh ... the benefits of being "Granny" and sharing meals with my little ones!

Then on Sunday, we visited with Dan's parents and his Mommaw --- 
yes, Lucy & Tag are very blessed to have their great-great Mommaw ... 
and they are her only 2 great-greats!


This is a little porcelain poodle that great-great Mommaw gave to Lucy that actually belonged to 
Lucy's great-great-great Mommaw!  
How awesome is that!!!

Even though we missed seeing people from both sides of our families, we had a wonderful trip! 
Lucy was THE best traveling companion ever ... 
and I think we may need to do more of these "grand" trips in the future!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Went to a Funeral Today ...

I went to a funeral today.  Grandad has known this dear lady and her husband around 15 years.  I've known them for the past several years.  The dear friend is an ovarian cancer survivor of over a decade, but the cancer returned ... along with double pneumonia. The doctors were measuring her life expectancy in days and told both her & her sweet husband that she would never walk out the doors of her hospital room.  She told her husband and doctor that she was 74 years old and had lived a good life, and that she was ready when her time had come to leave this earth.  When her doctor left her hospital room, our sweet friend began giving her husband instructions -- his morning medications as well as evening ones, walking with the cane that his doctors had ordered him to use -- only thinking of him and his future well-being as he would prepare to go through his days without her.

Her service today was a beautiful testament of her life -- the heartfelt words her 
broken-hearted husband spoke of as her being the love of his life... her step-daughter's heartwarming memories of her love for life, traveling and photographing animals... a close friend of 25 years remembering her warmth for all who met her... a director at the cancer center choking back her tears as she recounted the heart for others in the desire to find a cure for the disease that she had fought for years but so that others would not suffer as she had.  This wonderful woman had already written the words that would be spoken at her own funeral -- words that she had not dictated or written beforehand.  But simply in who she was during her breathing moments here on earth.

In a couple of my previous posts I've given an excerpt from Linda Dillow's book What's it Like to be Married to Me?  ... where she takes us on a little scene going to a funeral -- our own.  And she asks the question of what would we want our husbands to say of us at our own funeral.  Then I even took this a step further and asked what would I want anyone who has even known me to say at my own funeral.  

And today it hit home.

If I want to leave a legacy of trustworthiness, faithfulness, loyalty, love, forgiveness, reliability, nurturer (do you see the traits I'm hoping for?) ... then how am I living my life right now in order to be remembered by them when I'm no longer on this earth?  I've said it before ... and it's worth repeating (because sometimes I'm a slow learner of my own lessons) ... 

I can't expect 
if I'm not willing to give.

I went to a funeral today ... 
and started living again today.  

He's been my priority for 30 years :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Unintentional Recluse

The summer of 2000 my husband & I bought our current house. We had both grown up in the country but had lived most of our married life in Suburban USA. So in 2000 we bought a house with a few acres in Rural USA about 30 minutes from our Suburban life. 
Here's a couple of pictures of our driveway -- 
and as you may or may not be able to tell, our house cannot be seen from our mailbox.  
And for the past 13 years, this has been "home".  

This was taken last fall during one of the 
overcast days. 

And one of our cloudless fall days last year. 
We love our little corner of the world.

For years now, we've heard there are several "recluses" who live in our county. I actually saw one a couple of weeks ago when I drove by the road this person supposedly lives. 
I can't say "who" it is, but I'm sure several people would recognize the name.  But this person (along with a few others who reside in proximity) has made every endeavor to become (and remain) recluse. They intentionally set out to find the perfect "corner of the world" in which to reside. And for the most part, they have succeeded. 
Most everyone respects their privacy and their desire to remain separated from 
most of the world.  

But what about the unintentional recluse?  The person (or persons) who has not set out on a mission to be separated?  The ones who have just simply lost touch with friends or are not as involved in their community as they once had been? The ones who understand the old "if it's important to you then you'll find the time to do it", but they just truly cannot carve out any extra "time" for that particular "important"?

Would you believe me if I said "I have a friend ..."  ----- yeah, I thought not. 
Well, I at least had to try.  Maybe I should have titled this post 
"Confessions of an Unintentional Recluse" 
-- nah ... I won't get into confessing, but maybe I can help shed some light from my own experience in case any of my readers know a recluse or are one themselves.  
So, here goes ...

I've tried to convince my husband for years that I am not a people-person.  Well, after he's been shopping with me at some of my favorite places, he seems to think that I am in fact a people-person. I admit that there's a few    
well,  several   ...   okay ALOT of people 
whom I've met in passing and have developed some friendships.  I will stop and chat with them some & have even gotten pretty close to a few of them too.  So, although I'm certainly not admitting to anything (that may get back to my hubby),  
I do enjoy my friendships.  Facebook has been an avenue that I have reconnected with several of my past "best friends" (from high school, college, work) and several other friendships have grown throughout our reconnection.  

But then there's times when my life basically is on auto-pilot.   I know that every single one of us can truly say and mean that life is just plain busy. 
I completely understand. 
With 3 generations living under one roof ... 
I completely understand.  
With schedules, routines, space... 
I completely understand.  
Our pastor began a new series this past Sunday titled "Under Pressure" -- 
and I appreciated his statement (in effect) that everyone is under some sort of pressure. Whether it's school, work, home or any kind of related anything -- 
we all have busyness
we all have challenges
we all have pressures

And the good thing is -- God has us all at different stages in our lives. When some people look at our family, they say that they could never live with multiple generations under the same roof, whereas others say they are envious of our arrangement. 
Some look at us and say that we have not a clue what true challenges are in life, 
whereas others ask how in the world we get through everything that's happened over the past few years.

But, the truth is ... if we are children of God, He carries us through whatever the circumstance - trial - challenge is in our life.  And sometimes our day to day life gets put on auto-pilot. We are so consumed with living each day that sometimes one day turns into a week that turns into a month or months ... well, you get the picture.  
I've told many people that it seems like I could juggle more when our daughter was younger than I can now.  Dan & I both worked full-time, we were involved with our daughter's school & church activities, community activities... we were the outreach leaders for our adult Sunday School class as well as youth leaders for our mid-week services.  But now that I stay at home, I can't even seem to write a blog post once a week.

Becoming a recluse did not happen overnight ... and I know it's not going to reverse overnight either.  We carry on day by day as each of us feel that God is directing. We do what we can and we go to bed knowing (hoping, anyway) that we've done our best for that day. And we recognize that we simply cannot do everything. We thank God for His provisions and for His protection over our families. We go to sleep hopeful of God's new mercies in the morning.  We are thankful for our families and our friends. We are thankful that we are able to do what we can for those we are given the privilege to take care of.  

If you know an unintentional recluse -- or you see one in the looking glass ... don't give up on them. It's all for a season as the clock continues to pass away each moment.  Every one of us are in the middle of our own journey.  Your road is not the road that I've been given to travel ... and my road isn't the road that you've been given.  But somewhere and somehow along the way, our roads will connect and we will reconnect. And, speaking from my own personal experience, even the unintentional recluse needs a true friend who may not understand their journey but will never give up on them.   

And so, I am thankful for long driveways ... 
nobody else can see the driveway as I do ... 
nobody else can walk its gravel as I do ... 
nobody else but the One who walks alongside and even carries me.  

(Dan took this picture of me in May 2005 at Chimney Tops Picnic Area in Gatlinburg TN)

It doesn't matter the size of the boulder
God can handle it
and His strength becomes my strength.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Hand-full of Princess

I still don't know how it happened ... 
Lucy turned 5 on September 23rd.
Oh my ... where has the time gone???

 So (to begin our celebration of Lucy),  she & I went over to see GG & Grandpa 
before we left for Disney in early September.
As you can see, Lucy absolutely LOVES her great-grandparents --
and they absolutely ADORE her!!!

Then came our Disney trip where we celebrated Lucy (and Tag) some more...
(I'll post later why we love Disney so much!)

Then on September 23rd at home ...

And then, today ...
We pulled off her surprise birthday party with a few of her friends! Grandad & I took her to the mall and then to his office for a little while. That gave everybody a chance to get the party set up and for guests to arrive.
It was a success!!!

From the diversion of "window shopping" Christmas ornaments at Garden Ridge --

then on to Grandad's office for a little while.  And then ...

Still hard to believe she's 5 years old ...
or as Lucy says, she's
"a whole hand-full".

God certainly went above and beyond when He blessed us with our grands!

{I can't help but include a pic of the little man ... he's quite the hand-full himself!}

Happy Birthday, Princess Lucy!!!
Granny & Grandad are over-the-moon with you ~~
We love you!

PS -- Have I ever mentioned about the importance of relationships?  
These are 2 of my reasons!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reaping What I Sow

I don't think it's been any coincidence over the past few days that I've been confronted with the passage of reaping what I sow.  And it's just been since Sunday morning that this passage has been so highlighted   okay, that's putting it mildly.  Let me rephrase --- it's just been since Sunday morning that God has made sure that I have seen & heard this passage several times.  

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; 
for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Galatians 6:7

On Sunday morning, our pastor finished up a series called "My Story" ... 
the decisions I make today determine the story I tell tomorrow.  
So, what I sow today ... I will reap tomorrow. 

Let me digress a little --
My second post of my breaking out of my milestone was all about my reflection (CLICK HERE to read)  I gave an excerpt from Linda Dillow's What's it Like to be Married to Me? in which she creates a scene of going to my own funeral.  And she posed this question --
 if my husband were to give my eulogy, what would I want him to say? 
It's after we answer that question,  she says, that we can start living with the end in mind and actually be that person we want others to see us as.  

(Now back to current post...)

So I began thinking of Linda's challenge (broadening the scope to include my husband along with everyone else I've known in my life) ... meshing it with Paul's message of reaping what I sow ... and bringing in our pastor's message of what my story is to tell. Now some people would say I'm stretching Biblical teachings to match with what I personally want to hear and believe -- to satisfy my own agenda so to speak. 
Well, in reality though, this may actually be one of my biggest challenges of all time.  
Here's what I've concluded ...
  • If I want to leave a favorable legacy to my future generations, what am I sowing now that I will reap when I am no longer walking this earth?  Am I kind, generous, fair, just ... or am I negative, self-centered, unreasonable, judgmental?  
  • Do I encourage others in whatever situations they are going through ... or do I set unattainable & unspoken expectations of my own desires?
  • Am I setting a positive example for future generations to follow ... or will they simply say "I sure don't want to be like her"?
  • Will my friends be able to say of me that I was compassionate, caring & a good friend ... or will they say that it just didn't seem like I cared about them at all?
As you can see, this is a daily self-evaluation.  If I want my story to be that I was a woman following God's heart desire for my life, then I had better be praying & seeking His guidance for my life on a moment by moment basis. 
No, I don't have to do things perfectly 
(thank God for His new mercies every day)
No, I don't have to "give in" to things I disagree with 
(thank God that He gave me a brain to reason things out for myself)
No, I don't have to compromise who I am 
(thank God I am a child of The King)

But, the simple truth is this ...

I get to choose what I sow
and therefore, 
I choose what I reap.

This is one of the reasons that relationships are so important to our family, and why we spent many years traveling so much to cultivate & strengthen our relationships with our family. We know that if we desire a relationship tomorrow ... then we need to nurture it today.  Put another way -- I can't expect to have a relationship with my family (or friends) in the future if I'm not willing to put time & effort into them now. 

And, I will add ...
it's never too late to begin or even start over.

... I can see the light of a brand new day ...

Thank God for every breath He allows us to take.
Thank God for second chances at writing our own personal stories.
Thank God for new beginnings.