What a week!

Things have been interesting around here lately and I realized that last week was multi-generational for me. Being from a family that actually enjoys spending time together and that lives in rather close proximity to one another, the multi-generational thing isn’t really all that unusual but the way it played out was.

I got to spend an extended amount of time with three of my youngest grandchildren while their parents enjoyed an anniversary celebration far away from anything but each other (now that’s an anniversary!). For several days it was Grams and the kids and we had a great time. Not that everything was peachy – we had our issues but they were minor and at the end of the week the kids still loved me!

My dad, who is 82, experienced what it is like to fall twice within a 10 day period which is not exactly an experience everyone looks forward to. Along with those other wonderful family members I mentioned earlier, I spent several hours in an emergency room and we have spent several more trying to help dad understand the meaning of the words ‘rest’ and ‘very limited activity’.  Not an easy task!

Then my twenty-something daughter was in a car accident. Her car was totaled but thankfully she and the two passengers in the other vehicle walked away with minor injuries. Another trip to the emergency room!

From the old to the young there were changes and adjustments. There was sadness from some missing their parents (or maybe it was just because they didn’t get their way!), from age making itself known in a harsh way and from the realization that accidents happen very quickly. But there was also joy when serious injury could have taken place and didn’t, when a fall didn’t mean a hospital admission and when Grams let the rules be broken since mom and dad weren’t around to know about it!

I feel blessed to have shared these experiences with those I love so much. I have fond memories of my own childhood and am grateful my grandchildren will have the same. I love my children more than I can even begin to express and to be there for them when they need me is a reward. My parents have supported me always and it’s a privilege to do the same for them now.

As I look back on my week of multi-generational care giving, I realize anew how fast the stages pass. I’m sure it was just weeks ago that my children were the age of my grandchildren and I was the young twenty-something. I turned around once and my parents were great-grandparents and I know this to be so because somehow I’m the grandparent! When? How? Watching my grandchildren play reminds me that childhood innocence is a treasure and shouldn’t be rare or rushed. Being with my grown children gives me hope that dreams can become reality and pushing through hardship has rewards. Watching my parents age with grace teaches me that you can still be joyful, kind and thankful even when being launched into unknown territory.

And me….at my current stage? Well, that reminds me that I need to remember to do more than just take up space. I need to look for the good, share the best, spread the joy and thank God that He is with me in every stage and through every experience – the happy and the hard. I want to be carefree and laugh like a child, dream and experience like I’m in my prime and be full of peace when my strength is failing. I want to live for more than just myself, to experience the best of every stage and hear “Well done*” when the time is right. I may not hit every mark but I most definitely will enjoy trying!

O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
Psalm 71:17

Hey Handsome, the only thing missing is growing old with you.
You are in my heart!

*Matthew 25:21

Embrace the Challenge!

In just a few days Ohio will be casting their ballot for, among other things, their choice for a potential President who will guide our nation for the next four years. Needless to say, preparing for this particular election has been a bit different than usual! More candidates to weed through, more diverse personalities and the climate in our country have created some unique perspectives.

Whether you live in Ohio or not, when placing your vote you are not only deciding who will sit in the White House or Congress, you are deciding what kind of America you want in the years to come. Do you want government more involved in individual choices or less involved? Do you want open borders or more accountability for immigrants? What about taxes…should there be more to help with government programs or more left in your paycheck? How do you want your tax dollars spent? What about military, education, environment and international trade? Why do you feel your opinion is correct? Sometimes we have to make choices that will be better for the country as a whole rather than what will make us more comfortable for the moment.

It can be so easy to choose or oppose a candidate based on their personality or the good/bad press. When making such an important decision we need to do our homework and not rely on what our friends, family or coworkers think. It can be difficult to wade through the rhetoric and we most likely won’t find a candidate that agrees with us on everything but maybe we can come close. There are internet sites that will allow you to do a side-by-side comparison of all the top candidates and even allow you to answer questions then see who your closest match is. When you take hype out of the equation, it might be interesting to see who leans the same way you do. Embrace the challenge of finding out!

I encourage you to spend time truly thinking about why you are casting a vote and who it is you are giving it to. Every time someone is elected we give them the right to speak for us; make sure you like what is being said.
As with a lot of things we are used to, the act of voting may not seem overly important….until we are no longer allowed to do it. Research, pray, vote and trust God to watch over America so we as a nation can be a shining light of hope.

Pray for rulers and for all who have authority
so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives
full of worship and respect for God.
1 Timothy 2:2

Old and New

Here we are, ending our eighth year since Eric died. It seems almost impossible. Can it really have been that long ago yet often seem as though no time has passed? Isn’t it odd how that happens – that time can fly and stand still all at once?

Most people are now used to me being a ‘single’; I actually have friends who never knew me as a married person. Another fact that seems odd to me but, hey, it’s reality. Reality is that my life is vastly different than it was nine years ago. Many, many things are different; not bad, just different. Adjustments have been made, new ventures enjoyed and life is still a precious gift.

I have adjusted to sleeping alone, bypassing the mens department when shopping, not making coffee daily….or twice daily….or even more often 😊. I no longer automatically expect Eric to be home when I get there nor do I pick up my phone to give him a call when something amazing happens. I am used to traveling without him, making changes to our home and knowing there is no one else to consider when writing events on my calendar. These things that once were such typical parts of my life exist no longer, but I have adjusted. And I am happy.

However, I have not adjusted to praying alone, not starting the day with a hug and a kiss or being pampered on a regular basis. I don’t like checking the box that says ‘widow’ or trying to find a handyman for all those annoying projects around the house. I miss having a truly honest sounding board and being the center of his attention. It’s sad to have memories that no one else shares because the only other person who experienced them with you is missing. These are adjustments I have not made. But I am happy.

Out of necessity, people who used to be central parts of my life are people I hardly see any more. I might not ‘see’ them at all if it wasn’t for Facebook! Looking at their pictures, reading their posts and realizing how far apart we’ve grown can make me rather nostalgic. Then I think about all the new friends God has blessed me with and I get almost giddy. I have renewed friendships and enjoy the company of some people I did not know nine years ago. I count myself very blessed because of them! And I am happy.

So many emotions. So many questions. So many tears. Loosing a spouse is a roller coaster ride at best, a horrible nightmare at it’s worst. It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day decision to come out on the other side and be able to say “I am happy”. It may be a different kind of happy, but it’s happy. There was a time I was not convinced I would ever be able to say that. And since I’m still moving forward, maybe someday I’ll be able to say it is the same kind of happy I used to have. Maybe my heart will be full again in all aspects. Who knows. But if not, it’s ok because I am happy now. I am amazed at God’s faithfulness and kindness. His grace truly is amazing and His patience must be, well, indescribable! If you are walking this road as I have, take heart because you do not walk alone. Jesus walks with you and He slows down when you need to and prods you a little when you need it. You will be happy, truly happy, as you allow Him to mend your heart. You can trust Him …… He loves you beyond compare.

…“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,…
Jeremiah 31:3-4

https://www.youtube.com/embed/eUHRDCYnFfg“>Enjoy this beautiful song.


Sometimes there are things I want to shout as loudly as I can. Things like “Slow Down!” It seems like we all have so much to do and we can’t seem to convince ourselves it’s ok to relax or do nothing for a bit. It’s an art trying to keep an updated activity calendar! There’s so much jostling and rearranging and squeezing in going on that it’s exhausting just looking at what we have planned for the next 30 days.
Being busy isn’t always the best use of our time. That ‘stop and smell the roses’ cliche has some merit. How many things do we miss when we schedule an activity away from home rather than a game night around the table? Do you notice how blue the sky is and the images the wind creates as it blows the clouds around? Enjoying silence even for just a few minutes can be healing to mind, body and spirit. A good book can’t truly be savored without time to simply sit and read. Slow Down! It’s not a sin. 😊
What about shouting “Failure Isn’t Final”? That’s something I’d like to shout …. often….at myself! We are never going to get everything right. Even with our best intentions we are going to mess up and feel awful about it, maybe even cry or retreat to our solitary place away from probing eyes. No matter how much we’d like to live without making costly mistakes, it’s not going to happen. We now know what not to do and we’ve added a piece to our story that will eventually help someone else. If we don’t try because we are afraid of failing we are only half living. Be wise, be cautious, count the cost but don’t let fear of failure rob you.
“Let Jesus Define You” needs to be shouted continuously. All to often we decide who we are based on what our family/friends/co-workers expect us to be. Even worse, we decide who we are based on the things we know we lack. Why is it so much easier to see our weaknesses than our strengths? And when we see them, why do we stop there? Why don’t we counter those negatives with positives?
We need to train ourselves to say what Jesus says. Yes, I mean train. We have equated humility with not allowing ourselves to believe we are capable, wonderful, efficient or amazing. Humility isn’t being ‘less than’ – it’s making sure those around you don’t feel ‘less than’. Jesus considers us to be precious, anointed, loved, chosen, beautiful, strong…..and many more wonderful things; let’s not buy the lie of the enemy that we aren’t allowed to believe those things. Read the Bible, find out what Jesus says and train yourself to battle the world’s negatives with His positives!
“Have More Fun” Those who know me might say I want to shout this just because I love to have fun and they could be right! I think a day without laughter is not complete. I think doing something just because you enjoy it should be part of every (normal, whatever that is) day. Five minutes of fun beats no minutes of fun. I’ve had times in my life where laughter was not normal and it was too much work to have fun. I’m sure you have, too. Thank God those are seasons and not permanent.
If we take ourselves or our days too seriously, we miss the joy God intends to accompany us here on earth. All we have to do is spend time with each other and laughter comes easily because humans are funny creatures! A good way to make sure your day will include some fun is to learn to laugh at yourself (it’s a big stress reliever, too). Also, make sure when you are filling that calendar you leave some play dates available; they are good for adults as well as kids 😊
I believe we are to enjoy our life and it’s the devil’s job to see that we don’t. It’s easy to slip into ways of thinking that Jesus never intended us to so, as we start a new year, become aware of the ways you are being cheated out of enjoying the life you’ve been given. Then shout to others and spread the good word!

And so I heartily recommended that you pursue joy,
for the best a person can do under the sun is to enjoy life.
Eat, drink, and be happy. If this is your attitude,
joy will carry you through the toil every day that
God gives you under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 (The Voice)

The Daughter

The Daughter was on the couch wrapped in her favorite blanket holding an untouched chai latte while His book laid open on her lap.

How did this work? She’s been pondering it for days and still couldn’t understand. Actually, she had been pondering it for months, even years but the past few days it had been a focal point.

It was that time of year when thoughts of love were bittersweet. Her memories made her smile but they were all of the past and there would be no new ones. No new experiences together to make her heart sing. No surprise gifts, no secrets shared, no future to dream about. But that wasn’t really where her focus had been lately.

The Daughter looked once again at His book. It was this love she was struggling with. This love she didn’t understand. How, when she was so imperfect, could He promise a love that will never fail? Why would He make such a promise? Yet even that wasn’t what truly caused her wonderings.

Taking a sip of the latte and stroking the cat who had joined her on the couch, she pondered the idea that there was nothing she could do to add to that love. He would love her even if she didn’t love Him? But she did love Him, which brought on it’s own set of questions. Just as He wouldn’t love her less if she was awful, He wouldn’t love her more if she was perfect. Say what?! If she fulfills all His plans for her or messes up things completely, the depth of love is still the same? If she looses her temper or keeps her cool, is selfless or selfish, works hard or is lazy, His love stays the same? How wonderful! But wait, that means the jerk down the street and the hussy at work are loved as much as she is? For real? Back to square one: how can this be?

His book says this love is for everyone. His book says a price has been paid for everyone to have the love. His book says….oh so many things about His love. Then she realized something. Maybe she was getting it after all! Doing what would please Him was a way for her to say thanks for His love! Every act of obedience, kindness or giving was like saying, ‘I love you’! While the jerk down the street or the hussy at the office may very well be loved, if they don’t acknowledge the love or ever find joy in expressing love for Him, they lose the benefits of being loved at all. She wasn’t trying to rack up points, she was expressing love! Racking up points was unnecessary!

Maybe one kind of love was no longer in her life, but love wasn’t all together lost. While missing the love of her Handsome, the Daughter was overwhelmed by a Love that was truly unconditional and found pleasure in the gifts she could give.

John 3:16
Hebrews 13:5
Matthew 6:1-4
Psalm 37:23-24

Eric, Seven years is a long time to go without hearing your voice or seeing your smile yet I am forever thankful for the 28 years we had. I can’t wait to see you again and tell you all that has happened but I have a feeling your experiences have been much more exciting than mine! You have my heart; I miss you still. Love goes on.

Aubri, Levi and Owen enjoyed Disney World this week!
Alivia’s beautiful smile.
Sam meets Chase for the first time!
Jack holding his new brother!
Madilynn loves Chase Philip!


Colorful People!

Learning to be yourself is a worthwhile pursuit but if I am to be myself and you are to be yourself and we are different, then we need to accept those differences in each other. THAT can take more effort than we care to exert!

Anne of Green Gables is one of my all-time favorite movie series. I love the characters, the scenery, the story line…I just love it! One of the things in the show that always makes me laugh is the dynamic caused by the character Rachel Lynde. She is an outspoken, opinionated woman who loves to share her ideas and thoughts – which she considers to always be correct and better than everyone else’s. (Now, stop comparing her to someone in your own life!) Her tongue causes a great amount of consternation for her neighbors and some good laughs for the movie viewer. However, she is a loyal friend who learns to apologize and accept an apology and only wants what’s best (in her opinion!) for those she loves. I’m sure you have a favorite movie, book or TV series that portrays clashing characters much like Anne and Rachel. It’s much easier and more fun to watch them than to deal with them in real life, isn’t it?

None of us is a finished product and we need to remind ourselves that just as we are being refined and reshaped, so are the people around us. The co-worker who drives you totally crazy may be the very one on whom you will depend next year. The neighbor that is always cranky is just being worked on differently than you are. Why do the people around you like different music, different food, different activities than you do? Why do they talk too much, or too little? Why do they want to sit when you want to move or run when you want to walk? Well, why not?! It may be a challenge to figure out how to really enjoy one another but it also may be worth the effort. We’re not always going to gel with everyone, but neither should we instantly throw someone to the side just because they are different than we are. Blasting them for their differences should’t be an option either. Give yourself permission to grow and change and allow them to do the same. This is part of the joy of our journey. Colorful people help make our life more colorful! After all, we are probably a challenge to someone and we know, just as Rachel Lynde does, they could learn a thing or two from us!

Learning to respect others takes time. And effort. And patience…much patience! And prayer. God has created us different for a reason and those differences can bring a special element to our lives. Try not to miss those elements as you go through 2015. There may be a ‘diamond in the rough’ right next door!

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment. Proverbs 18:1

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 1:24

Be Ready!

I have always had fun the few times I’ve been asked to speak at a women’s event, but I don’t consider myself much of a ‘speaker’ so I always have to search deeply for what I should share. If ladies are going to be obligated to sit and listen to me talk, I sure want to have something to say! God has usually led me to remind us all that being who we were created to be is vitally important. It’s the only way to totally fulfill the destiny He has planned for us. It’s really the only way to feel completely alive!

In the past month or two this message has been surrounding me. I am uniquely me. You are uniquely you. This is a good thing. Different is okay. Cookie cutter people are not necessarily something to be desired! God has given us all different tasks, different tastes and different dreams. He may use us in similar but slightly different ways or He may use us in ways totally opposite each other. No big deal…..He has a different purpose for each of us.

That’s usually easier to say than to swallow, isn’t it?! More often than not we deal with what we aren’t instead of celebrating what we are. Why do we have the idea that what we have to offer is not quite as valuable as what the people around us can give? This kind of thinking puts us in a type of cage and keeps us from sharing our uniqueness.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of timing. God is working and things are getting into place; it’s usually not as instant as a Pop Tart! Maybe we need to mature, maybe there are still key people for us to meet or some things for us to experience before God will turn us loose on the world – so to speak!

Several years ago I heard the song I have included here and immediately said to my husband, “That’ll preach!” I still think so. Perspective has a lot to do with how valuable we think we are and we HAVE to remember to view ourselves from God’s perspective. He loves us so much He gave His precious Son for us (John 3:16). He blesses us and thinks precious thoughts toward us (Psalm 139:5,6,17,18). We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:8-10). What God says is so much more important than what others think, what the devil whispers to us or even the negative thoughts we have no trouble dredging up ourselves.

This song has a great lesson.  Don’t sell yourself short! God is aware of you and has plans to put you in the right place at the right time…..be ready! His love for you is awesome!