And boy do they! Change, that is....so quickly! I moved back home to Washington with complete confidence that going home was my final lifetime move. Not so fast! Two and one half years later, I began to feel a stirring. OK Lord, what's going on ? I was determined to give my new life there time and proper adjustment. Longing for purpose I naturally got involved in my new church and enjoyed the groups I contributed too, the neighborhood Bible study I established, the gospel teaching of our pastors, and volunteering at the local cancer center. My son and family came as often as they could, my sis and I enjoyed occasional biking and a few odd ventures, and my brother and wife visited often. Then why was I feeling so disconnected? I found myself shamelessly inviting myself to be included in others lunches, ventures etc....I guess you might say, I just wanted to be included in establishing meaningful friendships. Why was it so hard to establish friendships? I know now, and understand that age, already established friendships, and the fact you really can't go home again, all contribute to it. Oh yes, I had dozens of acquaintances but with the exception of an old (not old, old) but a neighbor from years ago in Spokane who just happened to be living there, I did not,...connect. She was a dear and tried her darndest to find time for me. Her life was so full at times I felt like I was intruding in it! She will be missed as I hope she misses me.
And then there was Shirley. My 83 yr old neighbor! What a darling! My move to Washington was fulfilled in that one dear soul. If for no other reason I moved there, it was for her.
One day she came knocking on my door with a question that only the Lord could have placed on her heart. "Can you tell me more about why it is so important to get to know Jesus?" She explained that she had listened to me speak of Jesus and His influence in my life several times during our conversations, and she had no idea of what I was speaking. My heart nearly exploded! "Lord please give me the words to clearly explain Your love for her and how You willingly died even for her." I invited her in and she listened intently as I went through the gospel story. Jesus touched her heart, she invited Him in and with a complete humble heart asked if she could join my Bible study so she could learn more of this Jesus who was now residing in her heart. Oh what joy to watch her learn and grow in the Lord! Thank you Lord for using me as Your instrument to introduce this one who had never heard the Good News of Jesus. This appointed moment showed me that even when I felt like an outsider, God used me in the most important thing in life...introducing another to Him.
I imagine I could have stayed but life has a way of moving us on. Why? I have yet to totally understand that. Loneliness does funny things. I'm grateful for the time spent with my dear family back there and I purpose to visit often. My time there was productive and I know He used me in wonderful ways, so I do not regret giving it a try. Once again my heart aches for those I left, but it is also full of happiness to be back in Minnesota again. Things have changed here also, as expected. Time does that your know. People change, circumstances change, but I know the Lord will open new doors if I simply allow Him to do His work in me. Just to know I have family close by, relationships to reestablish, and to feel the excitement of waiting to see how things unfold. Who knows what the future will bring.. Right now I expect to finish life here, but God may have different plans. I'm just gonna buckle up for the ride!
Saturday, March 7, 2015
The decision came quickly after months, maybe even years, of contemplation. The weak morning light had just begun to slip through my window as I turned to swing my feet to the floor from my warm bed. I lingered on the edge of my bed, sensing that my soul had a calmness on this very early day, that I hadn't felt in a long time. "Lord, I'm going to move aren't I?" Yes, was the answer felt deep within. I suppose I should start from the beginning shouldn't I? It isn't as simple as it appears by my words, for I had been praying for months regarding this. My Minnesota life of the past 16 years had been full of monumental events. The joy of births, being with my girls, watching my grands grow, establishing a home to love, new friendships, great jobs, but the dividing event for me was the death of my husband. From that moment on, my life changed, my 'new normal' began and I just couldn't settle in. Nothing felt like home, nothing or no one could fill that void. Let me explain. Death is so final. There are no tomorrow's, there are no future planned dreams, no growing old together, no companionship, no partner to bounce things off of, no one to share thoughts or intimate moments that no one else would understand. I was lost as only one who has experienced a spouse's death could be. The deep grief eventually passed and I began to climb out of that darkness into my new path lit by the Lord. I saw His provision of a friend who lost her husband one week before mine, of genuine church friends who, as much as they could, provided comfort, and the help and understanding of my daughters, and my son who called every week. But they were also challenged by their own grief. I embraced it all, I was grateful to all, I thanked my Lord for His presence, but still I was alone. It's amazing how one can hide their emptiness behind a smile, by church activities, by volunteering, by attending the grands sports events, by joining things, simply trying to make sense of life through busyness. It helped, and I truly felt blessed, and yet I was still alone. March 7, 2015 I never did finish that blog. I abruptly stopped because I remembered something my kids said to me about my writings...."they're depressing!" As I read back through this, I saw their point! However, I also have a point! This is my blog, my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences, my emotions....my life. If what I write depresses anyone I have a solution! Click off! Having said that, I shall continue. Yes, I did move...back "home" to Washington State. Nearly one year now. This time I chose to go back to where it all began, and by that I mean my married life, the birth of two of my children and warmth! My third child was born in Spokane....not so warm! It was a bittersweet move. My prayers for clarity had been answered. My home sold barely one day on the market. A new home purchased over the internet with the help of my sister and son who dutifully examined the possibilities. They chose it, I accepted their choice and have been enjoying my somewhat compact, comfortable townhome since then. I simply trusted God that He would make it my home and He did! My adjustment did not come that easily. Does it ever, when a major lifestyle change happens? The summer was wonderful though! Hot but not humid, blue cloudless skies, bike riding, enjoying my sis, visits from my brother and sis in law, son Jon just a few hours upstate allowing me to spend time with my granddaughter that had been limited to a few visits a year. Many friends from high school came visiting, I spent time searching for a new church home and found one! I hopped a plane in October to return to Minnesota to watch grand Luke play in his final year of football and cannot begin to tell you the pride that filled my heart. How did this chubby cheeked little joy become this tall, muscular, physical young man in such a short while! My eyes were opened that night. Time does move on, more rapidly as I age, but not without leaving behind the most precious memories that I hold closely to me now. I had been carrying on my shoulders the guilt of moving away from all of them, especially Finn, who got short changed from years with grandma, but as I visited and enjoyed spending time with each grand those October days, I realized their lives were opening up to them...how prideful of me to think they needed me to guide their journey. Selfish in fact. We had our time, we played, we loved, we cried, we filled important roles in each others lives...we were blessed. This won't end simply because there are miles between us. I know they will stop and remember me through the years, and all that we shared. That can never be lost. As for Finn...plans will be made to make sure he spends time with grandma that's for sure! It will be precious time, yes, until he too opens that door to independence and grandma is no longer needed as much. The circle of life? Yes, but a circle holds so much! I have a new life here. It's becoming a part of me as time goes by. The crippling sense of guilt for leaving those friends and family I loved, has been replaced with happiness and joy to be opening up a whole new journey here with my son and family, not to mention my sis, bro and so many that helped shape my life in the past. My 8 yr old grand, Dakota has given me so much pleasure! Her expressions of love by her colored pictures, her giggles, her hugs, her Facetimes....her tears when she has to leave, all speak to my heart. Yes, I am 'home' now. God willing I will have many years to establish friendships, continue to embrace my family both here and in Minnesota and just to thank God for blessing me with the memories. I heard it said that eventually our children, our grands just don't need us any longer. I beg to differ. They may not need us physically but they will always need our memories. And as I grow older and life has given me all it can, I can sit in my chair and fill my heart with those memories that will still put a smile on my face and a warmth in my soul.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
As dawn slowly opened the new day, like a shade being gently raised, I sat in my chair in an overly quiet room, both hands cupping my warm mug of coffee, while watching the barely visible falling snowflakes come down. It reminded me of memories. Last night there was an exchange of thoughts on Facebook that gave me an unsettled feeling about the Christmas season we celebrate now as compared to the 'then' in my life. Sensibly I know things have changed, but emotionally I want to hold on to old traditions. Therein lies the anxiety. The today theory of 'keeping it simple' makes sense in this activity driven society, but the age old practice of keeping tradition in Christmas tugs at my heart. Oh, we don't have to sparkle and shine, place do-dads throughout every visible surface, but neither should we plunk a pre-lit tree down and call it good! Instead of making it a chore, let's make it a time of reflection. If you are a young married couple, begin to make those traditions, begin to determine to transition into making memories through the years. If you are a middle aged couple living a stressful life full of responsibility toward family and employment, stop the madness for a moment and just enjoy the beauty of the season. Help your children to remember the reason for all the preparation. We buy the gifts for one another to commemorate the one true gift God gave us through His Son Jesus. We decorate the tree in remembrance of this, a special place to sit and contemplate the many blessings from above. Through the years my daughters and I have exchanged tree ornaments. A simple thing, but as I place each one on the tree an extraordinary thing happens....my heart remembers. I smile, I cry, ....I remember. It's not just a tree, it's a memory and I cherish each memory held close to my heart. Last night, unable to sleep, I crept out to the living room, plugged in the tree lights, wrapped up in a blanket and began a journey back in time to memories that bring warmth and happiness to my soul. Our early married life was a time of want, as most young marrieds will atest too. My mom gave me some of her old Christmas ornaments and a few odds and ends to set about our very small basement apartment. I kept those things for many many years even when we could afford to start making our own way. She wanted us to start making our own traditions and memories, just as I hoped mine would also. We did. The one tradition that went on for years was the annual trek to chop down our own Christmas tree. I would pack a lunch, pour hot cocoa into the huge thermos, make sure the cookie bag was full for snacks, dress the kids like eskimos and head up to the mountains outside of Spokane. Many times what we deemed to be the 'perfect' tree turned out to be a replica of a Charlie Brown tree when set up at home, but who cared! It was in the making of a memory that counted..the special togetherness, that marvelous taste of warm cocoa going down into a very cold body after tromping through the snow for what seemed like hours! The drive home always ended the same....a huddled mass of my children's bodies, crumpled together in exhausted sleep while Dennis and I silently sat with that peaceful feeling that all was right with the world at that exact moment. Those were good days, memory making days...traditions in the making. But those days end, yes, teen years arrive and the aloofness that comes with it! Nonetheless, Christmas becomes very much the responsibility of the mother. She sets the tone, she decorates, she bakes, she shops, she keeps joy in her heart rather than resentment for non participation of said teens! I,as many mothers went through that stage. But guess what! One day they begin to remember the memories, the warmth of the decorated house, the smell of baking, the specialness of Christmas...and then they wish to start their own memory making. I saw that in my own children and felt the pleasure of their joy. I still believe in Christmas, I still want them to embrace it, to take the time to slow down, remember, smile, cry and have the desire to pass it all down. I am alone now. It is I who bring the boxes down, who places the tree and finishes it. It is I who still pre-heats the oven to receive the homemade cookies and breads. It is I who still loves the traditions of Christmas, the memories, the reason, the whole Christmas package! But it really isn't just "I"...for "I" comes with a full heart, a grateful heart for having made those memories that still remain deeply within me. No, I am not alone. I have it all packed away deep within, and that fills my life to the very top!
Monday, November 11, 2013
My feet hit the floor this morning at precisely 7:04. Felt good to sleep in! After the common morning doings, I turned on the bathroom sink faucet for the cat's routine drink fix. (Darn cat won't drink from a bowl!) Grabbing my warm, fleecy robe, wrapping it tightly around me, stepping into my well worn slippers, I walked into the living room, flipped on the fireplace, clicked on the lamp and padded to the kitchen to perk up some essential go get 'em coffee. Automatically my hand reached for the accustomed banana. I stood leaning against the cupboard quietly nibbling on said banana. It started as a little chuckled snort, expanded to a tiny laugh and exploded into uproarious laughter! Good grief! I'm a living groundhog day! Is this what living alone has come to? Simplistic routine with the occasional break when I have to be somewhere in the morning? Someone once told me that as we age, routine becomes part of our identification. Break that routine and life becomes disorganized and fills us with annoyance! I saw that in my grandparents, my parents and even some single or widowed friends, but oh Lord, please don't let that happen to me! But often what we don't realize is that sometimes what we don't want, we get. Just so happens that 'routine' snuck up on me like extra pounds so my jeans don't fit! I suppose routine gives a measure of control to our lives, but really, can I just NOT make my bed as soon as I arise? Can I brew a cup of tea instead of coffee? Can I cook up some brown sugar oatmeal instead of my usual banana and toast? Can I leave my hair a disheveled mess instead of grabbing the brush? Why shouldn't I sit around in my PJ's for awhile instead of jumping in the shower and slapping on some useless makeup? Oh Lord, help me to find the spontaneity in life that fills my life with unexpected joy! I don't want to be predictable and boring. I don't want to settle into a common routine. Yes, there is comfort in routine, but not to the point that my whole life would be upset if I didn't stick to it! Lord, thank you for this vision of my life that can only help me not become the old, crabby lady who falls apart if things aren't exactly in order! Help me to live life a little more loosely, laugh more, reach out more, love more, take more chances and to never give up hope. Does that carpet really need vacuuming today?
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
I AM A GRANDMA… Turning 70 jolted me! I mean, how did that happen? One day you’re a young woman having babies of your own and the next your grandchildren are nearly old enough to have babies! Heaven forbid that should be right now, but yes, that is a reality! I was married and pregnant at age 18 and in retrospect cannot fathom how we navigated those years without complete failure. Naïve, or should I just say, ignorant, regarding the nature of being a wife and mother, yet stubborn and willful enough to act as if I was in complete control, I fooled everyone…even myself! My unmarried sister used to give me her outdated magazines and from them I would feverishly glean information from their pages when there were articles regarding marriage and child rearing! Can you imagine? There must have been some good stuff in them because I raised three beautiful, well rounded successful children and managed to stay married for 47 years before he died! I must give some credit to my own mother, as many times I would remember how she handled raising 5 kids of her own on little or nothing, and try to emulate those things. Reaching back into memory, I would think of my own grandmothers insistence upon good manners, respect and a woman’s ‘duty’ to keep a clean house and a decent appearance. These were things she taught my mom and then she passed to me. I often wonder if my children remembered my actions and then in turn put them into practice. My son once said, ‘I want to raise my kids just like you and dad did’ so perhaps we did something right! As a grandparent now, I look at my grands with pride and deep joy! I worry, I celebrate, I enjoy, I participate, I pray. Life is different for them, even from when their parents were growing up and definitely from the ’olden days’ when I was growing up. Sometimes I feel so insignificant when it comes to sharing their lives but the Lord frequently reminds me that my most important role as a grandmother, is to actively pray for them. My ‘words of wisdom’ as my grand Hannah calls them, are important too, whether taken to heart or just packed away to be unfolded later, but to pray is my most powerful weapon against all the odds presented to them in this age of peculiar happenings. Yes, 70 did jolt me, but by the same token it gave me time to reflect on the importance of having the privilege to be called ‘grandma.’ I may not get enough time with them nor be as important as I’d like to be in their lives, but being on the sidelines cheering them on, smiling with pride and praying daily for them gives me the most important job on earth. Thank you Lord for that privilege! “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” Proverbs 17:6 “They (me) shall still bring forth fruit in old age!: Psalms 92:14
Monday, April 15, 2013
The day has come. I've been telling myself this is the day I officially become old, the day when the last season of life begins and I better pull up my big girl panties and deal with it! 70!! What????!! How can this be! My 'insides' feel 18, my mirror suggests otherwise...whom do I believe? The mirror. I awoke last nights sleep around 11:45pm, looked at the bright red digital numbers, counting the last minutes of being 69..wanting to stop the clock, reach back and pick a time when everything was so perfect, so day to day, never thinking this time of life would come so quickly. But here it is, wrinkles, gray, sags, bags, and such a profound reluctance to leave my youth. I've always told myself I would age gracefully, never trying to fool the world with vain procedures, but simply be thankful for the years I had been given, the memories that were formed, and the love that endured before he left me way too soon, leaving an empty space in my heart and life that will forever be there. Even if there is a 'someone' out there to walk these last paths by my side, that space will always be reserved for him. I still feel the same, to age gracefully that is, but the reality of time raised it's head and smiled as if to say..."it's time", time to simply begin to enjoy life, to raise grateful hands to God for all He has given me an all He still has in store for me. It's a bittersweet time, a time of sadness at what is done, yet joy for what is still out there. These could be years of negativity, always striving for that 'something' that never quite occurs, or it could be years of pure joy and happiness, casting my cares on the One who loves me and wants the best for me always. I choose to trust in that...to reign in those thoughts that try to take me captive and to constantly look up. Why waste these precious years. I have so very much to be thankful for, a marriage of 47 years, 3 beautiful children, 9 amazing grands, God's provision for my life in every season through sickness, adversity, separation, loneliness, but always experiencing His ever present love and guidance. Yes, it's my 70th birthday, yes, I'm a little sad, but no, I won't drown in self-pity, for I have far too much to look forward to! What does God have in store for me? I don't know, but I look forward to each new, beautiful day that He chooses to give me and to give thanks to the Lord...for He IS good! I wish I could reach out and hug each person who has ever crossed my path, adding that special something that only they could add, therefore making me the person I am today. A special touch from each one. Consider yourselves hugged and loved from the deepest part of my heart and soul...you have made my life complete, and I look forward to each blessed year ahead. We may never cross paths again in this journey, yet I take a part of each one of you with me....life is good!
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
As it was pointed out to me by a nameless friend from Virginia, it has been awhile since I've blogged, but at least I have been consistant at being inconsistant! My intentions are pure, my actions slow, but I have no excuses. Yesterday, as a Mentor Mom at our Local MOPS group, I witnessed and was touched by an outstanding lady who spoke to the group with such conviction on how we as women should view ourselves. Not by Ourselves, Others or Occurrences but by how God see's us! We are His, He loves us, He died for us, so there is no greater love than this even though outside factors tend to beat away at our subconscious in ways that lend themselves to our poor self-esteem. When the evil one tries to pull us into that pit of lies girls, we need to look UP! No matter what we've done, said, neglected, felt or been done too, if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are royalty and wear the crown of the King! Now that good news busts my buttons...how about you?!! Why do I feel the need to acknowledge this good news? Well, I've been guilty for a long time of self-pity, neglectfullness, and the worst, feeling unfullfilled expectations. This has resulted in misunderstandings, hurt feelings and alienation from family and some good friends. Damage that hopefully can be repaired with my determination to rectify and change these unfortunate things. I thank God I have a family member who loves to 'fix' things and came to me with a list of my negative actions that I was only remotely aware of. Expecting others to reach out to me, provide me with happiness, turn my loneliness into joy, seems to be the areas of concern. Yes, it is time I turn myself outward and deep six the expectations that are completely self-serving and begin to find the happiness in giving. Revelation lightens the soul! Because I have also been told some of my blogs are 'depressing' I must try to keep them on the lighter side, I, however, created this blog to express my feelings during some very difficult times so perhaps if they come across a little too deep, it is time to stop reading them. Just saying.....but thanks for putting up with my ups and downs and expressions, sometimes very personal in nature. I won't say it will never happen again, as this is my venue of expression...but I surely will try to be more upbeat ok? I really need to close with this quote I read today that I'm CERTAIN was written just for me! (LOL...more self serving!). "Be grateful simply for being alive. When you are grateful for life pure and simple, your life becomes one you can be grateful for. That may strike you as circular or even backward logic, but your attitude really does have an effect on how things work out. When you can't change your life any other way, you CAN still change your attitude! When you do, your life changes. You find more chances to love, and you will be surprised to see how much more love is returned to you. The next time some says, 'it's a lovely day' try saying "YES IT IS!". Today is always the best day of your life!" Blessings to those who love me warts and all and I ask forgiveness to those I've taken advantage of by expectations that should not have been required. Much gratitude to the one who loved me enough to share with me the shortcomings that dragged me down. You are loved! Sometimes silence is required, sometimes it is in the spoken word that brings healing and forgiveness.