Be All There

Me, Ash and Ayda

This morning, daylight found me missing my girls and my granddaughter.  I was looking forward to the valentine card my granddaughter had put in the mail, which should reach me today and wishing I could hug her and shower her with kisses.

One thought led to another and I began to remember when mine were younger and how many times I was so busy with some pathetic task that was actually meaningless in the big scheme of things.  They would scoot up next to me, needing some love and affection and too often, I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity.  I never ignored them, but I let a pat on the head with a promise for more attention later suffice when I should have stopped what I was doing and relished the moment.

The more I thought about it, the tears began to roll and I let them.  My husband came to find me and kiss me goodbye and noticed the tears.  I told him I missed the girls and that I was lamenting the hugs and kisses and undivided attention I didn’t always give.  He understood perfectly, and gave me a big hug.

It’s not that I didn’t love my children deeply; I just didn’t know then what I know now.  I was always busy cooking and cleaning and multi-tasking to make sure the household ran smoothly.  If I could go back and re-do things, they would be quite different.

I would throw that mop down and rush outside to catch butterflies or draw chalk figures on the concrete; the laundry could pile up, while we played dress up and the dinner dishes could sit and crust over while I sat with one in my lap, just because.

I share this because I’m older now and I know that it’s all too easy to rush through a day and neglect the most important things, which are not things at all, but people.

We aren’t promised tomorrow and if you have children, they are growing as you read this.  Before you know it, they will be adults and making their own way in the world.  You will have some type of regret because no parent is perfect, but you don’t have to have this one.   Give them the time and attention they need while they want it.  As they age, it isn’t always as treasured.  I am blessed with two loving daughters who think I’m the greatest (at least that’s what they tell me), but I know there were times I could have been “all there” and I let life get in the way.

Goodnight December

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I’m sitting inside, a couple of hours away from 2015, enjoying my Christmas tree for what will probably be the last time this season.  As much as I look forward to what the new year will hold, it always saddens me to pack away the Christmas decorations. There is just something about Christmas; the spirit of love that is in the air, people are nicer, and family members and friends seem more appreciative of one another.

The hubby and friends are outside playing corn hole, there are fireworks blasting in the distance, and other faint sounds outside of parties and traffic in the neighborhood.  Being the introvert that I am, I would rather spend my time quietly reflecting on the past year and meditating on God and what His will is for me for 2015.

This has been a tough year in many ways for many people.  The news has been overflowing with sad stories and bad news and full of fear inducing possibilities.  I hear it said that we could say that at the end of every year, but I have to disagree.

The thing I know to be true is that when I place my faith in God, all of the worry, fear and hopelessness vanishes.  When everything is falling down around me and I feel the strength of the waves of oppression and the heat of the battle, I have an Advocate.  This coming year, that is what I will hold on to.  No matter what situations may arise, God always has a plan.  It might not fit into my self-established agenda, but if I will follow it, all things will work for my good.

Have a happy and blessed New Year – Find out what God’s plan is for you and adhere to it and experience the joy that will follow.

Love and Blessings,

Lisa

When you give up on the white horse, read this

love is

When I listen to young women and even read some of their Facebook posts, I realize one way that we have failed them.  It seems their ideas of love and what it is or what it should be originates from fairy tales or the latest box office hit.   They believe there really is someone out there who will give them chills every time they see them forever.  Honey, trust me; if you have chills it usually means you have a fever and I don’t mean some heat induced love coma either.

For those of you desperately waiting for Brad Pitt’s twin to come riding up on a white horse in all his handsomeness and sweep you off your feet and carry you to his castle, well, have you ever heard the term “fantastical wish”?

Yes, when you meet Mr. Right, there are emotions and feelings and I will even go as far as to say butterflies on occasion, but what is love?  Is it just a feeling or is it something much more?

Love isn’t even remotely about the size of the ring, the exorbitance of the wedding, or how many ways he charms you on social media for all your friends to see (and be jealous!).  It’s certainly not about looks or size because all that will change as time marches on.

True love is an enduring promise; it doesn’t come and go with your moods and selfishness.  And as the hot flames die down, they turn into something warm and stable and more comfortable; like glowing embers that can be reignited.

Love is staying when you have every reason to go, its forgiveness whether you think they deserve it or not, it’s being patient when your patience is running out.  Love is what you have, when at the end of a long, horrible day, he can walk in and just know and give you a long, hard hug.  Love is telling you to lie down and rest and let him take a turn with the baby you were up with last.  Love is looking across the room and knowing that person has your back, whatever the situation.  Love goes through deaths, crisis and pain and grows stronger.

Love is making a choice to love on the days you just aren’t feeling it.  Love is caring enough to figure out someone else’s needs before they even ask you to.  Love is a tear in their eye, merely because there is one in yours.  Love realizes another’s dreams and helps them achieve them.

Love is not dragging people through their past and it should never glean satisfaction from an “I told you so”.  Love is not giving 50%, it is giving your all and then some.  Love isn’t easy, it is long-suffering.  Love isn’t for cowards.  Love has respect and would never ask you to do things that make you uncomfortable.

Love is long conversations, marked with smiles and laughter and him grabbing your hand while driving down the road.  Not so anyone can see, but because it’s what he wants.  Love is when he never leaves the house without a hug and kiss and an, “I love you”, because he realizes life is precious and sometimes short.  Love is a text when he knows you are struggling with something that says, “I love you and I’m here if you need me”.

Love can be messy.  It isn’t always dancing through the meadows with a song on your lips and flowers in your hair.  There usually aren’t any castles involved at all unless you go to the beach.  And the closest you might get to a white horse, is his dirty pickup truck.

Do I still get butterflies?  Yes, I do, but more importantly, when they are gone, or fail to appear for a while, I am not discouraged, because I know love is more than that and the longer you fan the flames of love, the stronger and more powerful it gets.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy;

love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely,

does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  

I Corinthians 13:4-7

A Worthy Celebration

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Today I attended a beautiful “Celebration of Life” for a sweet lady who now resides in God’s presence.

The carefully chosen songs and words spoken were filled with love and emotion.  More than once I heard phrases like, “never an unkind word” and “found the good in all”.  It occurred to me that it wasn’t hard to understand why she was loved by many.  She obviously made many feel loved.

After the service, her family and friends reminisced over plates laden with fish and all the expected sides.  There were words of comfort spoken, tear stained cheeks, and hugs.  There was laughter as funny memories were shared and there was a feeling of family and familiarity that permeated the gathering.

Looking around, I saw faces of people who have known each other since birth or at the very least shared memories for decades.  As we shared stories and laughter, I was reminded once again that I am thankful for our small town.  Most of the people who were conversing share memories that span at least two generations.  We are like a large family, replete with the fussing and fighting and making up.  We know more about each other’s business than is convenient.  We know family histories, be they good or bad and some recollections are pristine while others are exaggerated.

One thing I have noticed though; when heartache is felt by one here, for the most part, it is felt by all.  When my family has been hit the hardest, I have found sincere words of concern, loving arms to hug and hold, warm dishes delivered to comfort and we have felt the ardent prayers for our peace.

When I was younger, I always flippantly voiced my burning desire to leave this boring, gossiping town and never come back.  As a matter of fact, my parents did decide to move, the summer after my 9th grade year.  Ironically, when the time came, I departed kicking and screaming and vowing that I would never, ever appreciate our new abode.  I spent the entire summer making sure my parents knew they had ruined my life.

As life would have it, a few years and many addresses later, I made my way back.  I understand why people say they hate it and how they get weary of the drama and gossip.  I have been there and I would encourage young ones to spread their wings and fly after their dreams.  However, if you find yourself lonely and broken, you might make your way back home again.  Yes, everyone will know your story (and might even embellish it), but many will be there to embrace and comfort you.

Today, I was inspired by the words that were spoken. We can be a kinder, gentler community that looks for the good in all.  We should never delight in another’s troubles, but in all things show love and mercy.  I’m thankful for the sense of community and am reminded that to be a part of a community you must interact.   We often find ourselves too busy to care for the wounded and the broken, or even to show up to acknowledge an accomplishment.

This dear, sweet lady may be gone, but today’s look back at her actions and interactions in the memorable life she lived have compelled me once again to re-evaluate my priorities and make sure they line up with my Father’s will.  For that, I am truly grateful.

Leave your mark

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As I turned to walk toward home, I saw the long white mark in the sky.  The beautiful blue background made it very noticeable.  A jet had made it’s mark against the backdrop of today’s seemingly endless blue skies.  As I gazed upward, the stripe began to grow a little hazy, it’s lines less defined.  It became lighter and within a few moments, it was gone.  I recalled watching these streaks in the sky until they disappeared when I was a child and wondered why I was so attracted to this fading puff in the sky.  After all, it doesn’t really leave much of a mark, just a temporary trail; they are actually sometimes called “vapor trails”.  It’s presence is fleeting.  It is big, bold and powerful, for a moment…..but quickly gone and forgotten.

“Leaving a mark” stuck in my mind and the wheels began to turn.  What is my mark, I pondered?  I would hope that it would be colorful, not plain old white, which my 4 year old granddaughter would quickly tell you, is the absence of color.   She has smart parents, but I digress.

I want my mark to be big and bold, but more importantly, lasting and worthy of repeating.  I don’t want it to be meager and shallow, but significant and deep.

Every single one of us is leaving one.  Aren’t you glad to know that if you started out faint and superficial, you have time to broaden your stroke?  If you have left black, ugly marks, there is still time for healing.  If you feel you haven’t left much of an impression at all, you can begin to color and embellish.  Additionally, we can also choose to overlook the marks left by others and encourage them to paint over and start fresh.

Let’s leave marks of kindness, faithfulness, generosity, compassion, integrity, patience and above all love.

Someone needs a Valentine

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I love Valentine’s Day and I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit it.  I have always been a sucker anything heart shaped, although I’ve always wondered where the shape originated from, because it certainly isn’t the human heart.  Add to that my adoration for chocolate and cards with loving sentiments, and I’m a goner.

Today I have perused a plethora of posts and blogs about the hatred of hearts and cupid and even love.   That’s fine, I hate Halloween.  I always thought it odd that parents would dress up their children in costumes and masks where they can’t maneuver around or see very well, and send them out in the dark to beg for free candy from strangers (yes I gave in too), but I digress.  I could start a Halloween haters club.  I could dress up in black and plaster my face with hateful expressions, but I would just fit right in, so I think I will continue to do what I have done in recent years, which is simply ignore it.

Most of the Valentine’s Day haters have one thing in common; they are single.  But, who says Valentine’s Day always has to be associated with “lovers”.   Okay, I admit, it is a holiday about love and cupid and his arrows.  For me personally, still in love with the man I married almost 21 years ago, it is a “lovers holiday”.

However, I also think it’s a great time to acknowledge other Valentines in your life.  We always say, “don’t forget to hug your loved ones”, and “if you love someone, let them know”.  Well, what an opportunity and the retail world is more than ready to help you find the right sentiment.

If you are feeling negative or cynical about hugs and kisses and all things smoochie, opt for celebrating with a friend, or a relative, or your kids!  I have been told that I often look at the bright side of things, and I take it as a compliment, although sometimes I’m not sure it’s meant that way.  In the spirit of looking at things from a “glass half full” perspective, I encourage you to try something new this year.

I assure you that if you choose Valentine’s Day to share a little love, whether it’s a box of chocolates, some flowers or even some of your precious time with someone you love, you will not regret it.  It may even melt away some of your Valentine’s Day angst.  I dare you ❤

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

love is

The writing prompt at The Daily Post, said, “This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.”  If I understood correctly, we are to write from the perspective of someone else.  Here’s my attempt:

“Honk, honk, honnnnnnnkkkk”.  The young man slowed as he came alongside and looked at me angrily and mouthed what appeared to be obscenities.  He continued pressing his horn as he sped by me, my hands gripping the steering wheel securely at the 10 and 2, just like my dad taught me.  Maybe I was going too slow, but better safe than sorry.  The honking incident hadn’t done much in settling my nerves today.

Moments later, my blinker flashing, I carefully turned into the grocery store and found a spot up close.  That walk isn’t as easy as it used to be and although I’m not ready for a handicapped space yet, the closer the better.  Before I opened the door, I plundered in my pocketbook for an elusive tube of lipstick.  I feel like I need some color, but I’m careful in my application.  I don’t want to look like those old women who miss their lips and color outside of them.

Getting out of the car, I glance down at my Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes and have to remember to be thankful I can still walk instead of wishing I could still sport high heels without pain or injury.

Entering the store, I walk toward the long line of carts and immediately sense the impatience of the sharply dressed young lady behind me.  She is obviously in a huge rush, so I hurry to get out of the way and feel grateful when the cart comes apart from the others easily and all the wheels work.

As others pile into the store, I again feel the pressure to move out of the way, to get through the front door and move to the side.  Tears well up, as I realize I’m considered an obstacle or a bother once again.  I long for my love, my soul mate to be here with me, by my side.  His hand would always guide me and his presence gave me comfort.

In the aisle for baking goods, as I struggled to read the ingredients on a jar, another woman, this one large and more interested in talking on her cell phone, than paying attention, almost knocks me over.  I overhear something about “the old fool” to her friend on the phone.  I am older now, but I still have feelings and ears.  What happened to respecting the elderly?

I look at the cases of water, and would love to get some, but I’m not sure I can grip and lift, and then I would have to also get it into the car, and then into the house.  The cart is heavy even without the water, but I manage to get the few items I came for and make it to the check out.

The young man operating the register asks, “paper or plastic?” in a frustrated tone, like perhaps he’d already asked me before, so I answer him and begin to arrange my items on the belt.

Behind me, I notice a beautiful young woman, maybe barely in her twenties, wearing a big smile.  She says, “Ma’m, could you use some help?” I looked at her with damp eyes, her kindness griping my heart.  Before I could answer, she was at my side, unloading my groceries.

Her only purchase was a gallon of milk, so she quickly caught up with me before I made it to my car.  She insisted on helping me put the groceries in my car, told me to have a nice day and carefully closed my door, when I got in.  With that big smile and a little wave, she was gone.

This young lady had no way of knowing it, but this was my first shopping trip ever without my husband by my side.  He passed away just last month and after all the affairs were settled and the family all back to their homes, I found myself alone, with empty cupboards.

My emotional state was fragile and this girl showed me attention, respect and kindness, asking for nothing in return.  I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and into a genuine smile for the first time in a long time.

Daily Prompt: Sweet sixteen

Me and my Celica

Me and my Celica

Remember the year I turned sixteen?  Must I?  What a tumultuous year, a year filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, a veritable roller coaster.

Looking back, meandering down that passionate, tormenting, and at times exciting path makes me smile now.  That is, after I reassure my racing heart that those days are over and we have lived and learned plenty since then.

To highlight the good first, I got a brand new car; a Toyota Celica with a moon roof.  My dad put money down and I made the payments working at my part time bank job.

Dancing was one of my favorite past times and that year and much of my solace came from lessons at Miss Debbie’s School of Dance.  I could work out the frustrations and stress of being a teenage girl through jazz, tap and ballet.  My introversion which I mistook for shyness back then disappeared when performing in a recital.

I suffered what I thought was my biggest heartbreak ever that year and went on to begin a new relationship which would deliver an even bigger one.

Seriously, I must add that this year was a defining one for me and not in a good way.  I lost myself in a young man and gave up on my hopes and dreams and settled for what I had somehow began to believe was all I deserved, much to my wonderful mother’s chagrin.  I won’t elaborate on all the whys and what could have beens, because I believe in the end, I learned a lot and some of that made me who I am today.

There is no reasonable explanation for why I made some of the choices that I made, but thankfully, God is merciful.  Although, I suffered plenty at the hands of love, I made it through that fire intact, albeit singed and in need of tender loving care.

I think sweet sixteen is an oxymoron, and I know many who would readily agree with my assessment.  As for me, I’m much happier now as a forty-something, confident, life loving, secure, blessed and highly favored, woman of God.

Just pick one

Life

I just walked in the door from a nice long, gorgeous walk.

This morning, I found myself mulling over one thing after the other that I wanted to get accomplished today.  Knowing that my almost daily walks help me to clear my head and listen for God’s will in the foggy areas, I decided it was time to change clothes, lace up and get out.

If you read my post from a couple of days ago, The Everyday Things, you will know that earlier in the week I received a poignant reminder to slow down.  That continues to resonate in my soul.

It is easy to imagine that the faster we go, the more things we check off that list (you know, the one that never has an ending and is never going to?), the better our lives will be.  So, the outcome from that type of thinking is we hurry to do more.  Wouldn’t you agree?  However, do we do it as well?  Do we focus all of our energy and attention in to one thing and give it our best?

Let me illustrate.  Say, for example, that I feel led to go and visit some of the elderly folks in my community, just to check in and let them know they are loved and appreciated.  If I do something akin to a drive-by, pop in, hello, pop out, goodbye, it’s better than not having done anything.  But, what if I really focus on that person for say, an hour?  What if I look into their eyes, sincerely desirous to see and know their heartfelt needs?  I’m taking the time to discover how I might be of the most help to them, and at the same time, letting them know I really do care about them.

We don’t want to do things just so we can say “I did something”, or feel like I we checked an item off the list, or just “did my good deed for the day”.  The second example involves more sacrifice; it’s more of a heart thing.

Today, as I put one of my new Christmas sneakers in front of the other, I contemplated on this and I knew that I needed to “pick one”.  Pick one thing today, pour myself out and into it.  If there is time left, move on to another, but not at the expense of the first.  This is difficult, especially for women who are so adept at multi-tasking.  That’s a great talent to have in many areas of our lives, but not when it comes to relationships with other human beings.  I continue to pray that I will learn this, let it sink in and make it a habit of my own.

May we all continue to slow down, really listen and love deeply.

The Everyday Things

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This morning the routine I followed was the normal one.  I was logged into my computer and plugging away by 6:00am.  Knowing that I am the most productive in the morning, I try to make the most of my “prime” hours.  Phones, emails and IMs are usually pretty quiet until around 7:00am so I was surprised when at 6:26, I saw an IM blinking at the bottom of my screen.

Quickly, I opened it to scan the contents and smiled to see it was a nice guy from up north and the question he posed was relatively easy, so it shouldn’t take much time.  I hurriedly typed out my response, scanned for typos and hit “send”.  I was done and could now move on to another task.

He thanked me, and then he said something that would change my morning.  He said, “by the way, Lisa, how are you?  Sometimes I ask a lot of questions and forget to ask the really important one, of how one is doing.”

Suddenly it occurred to me that I’ve known this man for many years and had no idea how he was doing either.  As usual, I hadn’t taken the time to stop and ask.  Why are we often too busy to be polite?

This man had (probably unknowingly) just preached an entire message that went straight to my heart and exposed, once again, the selfishness and “much too busy” attitudes lodged there. 

So, I replied, “I understand what you are saying; we all get too busy to slow down and really care, don’t we?  How have YOU been?

He began to tell me that 2013 had been a tough year for him and he was glad to see it go.  He had lost his mother in law to cancer, and while he and his wife were cleaning up her estate, his wife of 37 years fell ill and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.   He lost her in August.

Wow!  I hadn’t known and my heart ached for the grief and pain that must still resonate within him.  With the tears that now filled my eyes making the screen almost too blurry to see, I did my best to convey my heartfelt sympathy and congratulated him on such a long-lasting marriage.  He advised me to cherish every moment of mine and I told him I would heed his advice and take it to heart and we said our goodbyes.

Only a few moments had passed, but I looked at the day ahead with a fresh perspective.  I wonder if he even had a clue how his words affected me today or how grateful to him I am.

Everyone is going through things and I want to know, I want to care and I want to bring comfort when I can. 

Look someone in the eyes and ask them how they are today or tomorrow, and then give them time to respond.  If and when someone asks you the same, give them the benefit of an honest answer.  You might give them the opportunity to comfort you.  We all are blessed when we give or receive.

And, always look for the lesson or the reminder in the everyday things.

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