I showed up

I showed up and I showed love. I wanted to show and make a difference. I wanted say all the things that needed to be said. I wanted to show up and see a novel ending a cliché movie ending, where a father on his death bed forgives his daughter. I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to make it happen but I showed up and I showed love and that’s all I did.

It didn’t happen the way I thought it would. It didn’t  make for a great moving and inspirational story. It didn’t happen the way it would have in a book or in a great Hallmark movie. There isn’t any real reassurance forgiveness happened but what I do know is, I showed up and I showed love.   There was peace in the room, because it wasn’t my love alone, it was Jesus loving through me. I believe that God has given me the gift to show up and show love, to show up and show His love

No matter where my father- in- law was in his life, no matter where my sister-in-law is in hers and the choices she’s made, I can show up and I can show love. I really can’t do anything else, that’s the Holy Spirits job, but this is what I know: I know when my father-in-law passed away he had peace. He passed away peacefully. He quit struggling his breathing calmed, he turned his head and went to sleep. Not at all how his doctors expected his passing to be not at all how any of us who knew Frank thought it would be. My sister-in law, Jodi lost her mom, her brother and now the last one in her family, her father.  She had been out of communication with her father’s side of the family for over a year.  I was able to find her and talk to her and I told her I loved her.  I told her when fathers can’t protect their daughters from what they perceive is a very dangerous decision often they show it in anger, often they pull away, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love it means that they feel helpless and they don’t know what to do so all they do is stay away.

I went  to Nebraska and saw them, first Frank, then Jodi and then the extended family.  We had dinner together and I told them about Jodi, my sister-in-law, how she was living, how she was doing and it encouraged them to say “We love her”  ‘We want to see her and talk to her.” “We want her to know we don’t judge her decisions.” I was able to share that with Jodi and she called them, and the healing begun.

I did not go back for my father-in-laws funeral for I was there just days before he died. I was able to see him, talk to him, pray with him. I talked to my sister-in-law Jodi she attended the funeral and she talked about  how she reconnected with the family on her father’s side. How she began to understand how he could love her even though he was silent towards her this last year. She began to hope for the future. She began to see love from her family, She began to see what was torn apart be put back together.

The perfect story ending would be if I could say how I went in there and told my father-in-law how it should be, what he should be, and who he was being  and he needed to correct it.  If I told him he needed to forgive his daughter and he needed to  give her that peace. He would ponder what I had said  and he would call her and we would all come together and be there in that hospital room forgiving and loving, laughing and crying. It didn’t end that way.  But it ended with peace, it ended with a family reuniting after my father-in-law passed away. It ended with hope.

And I believe it’s because I showed up and I showed love.

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Maybe

Iphone autumn 2013 007

I love Autumn. I was born in the fall, an autumn baby, maybe that’s why I love this time of year. I have never been into astrology, the stars or my horoscope, but maybe there is something to be said for being born at a certain time a year and loving that season. Today I walked in Maple Valley along the Cedar River, the leaves are falling and the salmon are spawning. The fish are bright red, dying and decaying. I guess that’s what the leaves are doing too, turning bright red, yellow and orange and falling to the ground: but in their death it’s bright and beautiful.
Maybe this is one of God’s way of showing us not to fear growing old, that there’s a beauty in death, that if we live a full life, complete our life cycle, near the end of our life maybe we can bring joy and happiness to those around us by showing our best colors.

It seems we’ve come to be a culture of dreading taking care of our elderly, thinking it as a burden. Instead of worrying about how to take care of our elderly maybe we could sit back and look at their bright colors; take in all that they have lived, all that they have loved, all that they have lost, all the wisdom they have gathered: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Maybe if we sit back and we look at moments of their lives as leaves turning bright colors we will see their beauty. Just as I strolled down the walking path listening to the leaves quietly fall to the ground, maybe if we slow down and listen to our elderly as they stroll through their past, stroll through their wisdom, stroll through what they’ve learned in life, maybe then we will see a beauty in what they have to offer.

Iphone autumn 2013 004  Iphone autumn 2013 012

Just a Few More Days, Lord

I had a vision the other night
I was at the Pearly Gates
Standing before the Lord
“Oh, Lord” I cried
“There is so much more to do
I could feed the hungry
I could help the poor
I could call on the elderly
I could rock the babies
I could be a caring neighbor
I could inspire others
I could tell my story
I could tell others about your love
Just give me a few more days
and I will do these things”
The Lord replied
“I gave you a few more days
You used them playing Candy Crush”

Remember the Signs

CS Lewis wrote in his famous Narnia series:
Aslan: “But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

Moses recorded in Dueteronomy:
Lord God: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates”

The world is changing so quickly. We laugh at things that were considered heartbreak 20 years ago. We find things that we considered sweet and normal 15 years ago a bit disturbing. Things that made me feel uncomfortable to talk about 10 years ago are normal everyday topics. Problems my children want to talk about, I couldn’t even have imagined would be part of their lives 5 years ago, but we talk about them because they are now part of our culture. So often I feel overwhelmed with the rapid cultural changes. Some days I’m not sure what I am to be outraged by, what I am to laugh at, what I am to feel disgusted by, what I can share my opinion about. Somedays I think I’m not sure what I am to think.

Then I remember there was a time when the air was clear, when my mind was clear, when I believed because believing brought clear direction to my life. So I go back to the Mountain, I open the Word and I remember. I begin to talk about the signs, repeat the commands, impress them upon my heart, share them with my children. The signs never change, they continue to guide even when things, ideas, values seem to be so muddled. When the signs are clear I am at peace. When the Word is my constant companion I am at rest. When I know what I know to be true I have no reason to fear and I am free to love.

The Years

Easter kids 2

Easter Kids

 

The days are long but the years are short.
A young father spoke these words to me. He was just beginning, I was just finishing. He was enrolling his son in the preschool as I was preparing my youngest for high school graduation. I was reflecting on the past, he was planning for the future. I was longing for the clock to turn back, he was anticipating the clock moving forward.

My children have all graduated, one living for the moment, one planning the specifics for each day, one living in Eternity, and the youngest dreaming of her future. Each one looking to me for nurturing, each one needing me less.

I remember the day I was told I was pregnant with my first. Randy and I had just begun our senior year of college, I went to the doctor to discuss birth control, he informed me I came in a month too late. MyBoy arrived ten days before my college graduation. I held a diploma to one breast and a baby to another.

I remember the day MayBaby was born, the doctor placed her in my arms and Randy and I knew at first glance MayBaby had Down’s Syndrome and our first thought was “What about retirement?” Five days later we took our baby home to love and care for and fill our lives with joy.

I remember the day we were told she would not live outside my womb. Each day felt like an eternity, but the day of her birth came too soon. As I held my little one in my arms she breathed her last breath. I handed my baby to Jesus. I cried for my loss but felt a sincere peace knowing one of our children was in the hands of Jesus.

I remember the day I chose her name. As Randy and I waited a very long week for the results the amniocentesis held, I wondered, “Was my baby whole?” “Would my baby have a disability?” What answer would the test bring? The hours were long. I would have faith, “My baby is healthy.” I would doubt, “My baby is broken.” The Lord spoke to me. “Do not worry, consider the lilies how they grow, they do not labor or spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his splendor is not as beautiful as one of these.” The answer came I would have a “normal girl” I was given a Lily.

As I sit and remember, it was yesterday, it was a lifetime ago. There are so many “do overs” I would like to have with my children, especially MyBoy, my first-born. I would listen more carefully, I would hold a little closer, I would let them feel a little longer. But if I had a “do over” and fixed all the things I could have done better, I may not have the adults that I am so proud of, whom I love so much, who bring me joy, who still call me Momma.

The days are long but the years are short. Today I will choose to love, listen and laugh.

 

ZackDona May, MayBaby

Lily Jo, JoBird

Mud Pies

I loved living in the house on Everett Street. I grew up in a neighborhood where the streets had names. Our neighborhood laid  between Burnside and Glisan. Everett Street was between Davis and Flanders. The friend with the pool was at the top of Everett Street and my best friend was on Flanders. the only time I went to Davis’ street was to delivery the afternoon newspaper. I had a series of   gold-fish I  named  after the streets that surrounded my existence.  The first pair was Everett and Flanders, then came  Stark and Division, and finally Burnside and  Glisan. But most of all I loved playing in my backyard.

I loved it back there. We had a Douglas Fir that grew at an angle along the fence line. It had been shimmied  up and slid down so often that the bark was smooth. We had a tire swing, a garden, a green house made of old garage doors , bamboo the neighbor planted but grew on our side of the fence, and the “woods” to play in. The “woods” seemed so big to me, I believed I was really brave when I went back there to explore. Years later, when I stopped to see the house I realized  the “woods” had been the back of the yard my Dad didn’t maintain. One of my special places in the backyard was  a small space  between the house and the neighbor’s fence.  In that space my dad had leaned up an old ping-pong table against the house. There was just room enough for me to play under the table.   It was damp and muddy under there, the perfect place for my “Mud Factory.”

I loved playing in the mud, making all sorts of delectable deserts, I’m not sure I ever offered my family any of my creations but I know my imaginary friends loved them. I loved the feel of the mud between my fingers and toes. Some of it was very thick and smooth, some was thin and gritty, each type of mud served a very important part in my imaginary culinary delights.

This past weekend I gardened. I pulled weeds and dug up bulbs.  I moved plants from this spot to that. I added bowling balls and old rusty buckets so if my plants die or fail to bloom there will still be something to look at. I visited Wendy, my neighbor who has  the gift of gardening, she gave me sedums, a fuchsia plant and some Vinca major. She even brought me a tractor scoop of her home-made compost, made from horse’s poop and yard waste.

I used Wendy’s special concoction and mixed it together with dirt from my garden and bags of potting soil to create my own “dirt”.  I took off my gloves and as I began to mix the dirt with my bare hands the memories of my backyard on Everett Street began filling my thoughts. The picture of my “mud factory” was as vivid as if the ping-pong table was leaning up against my house. When I was young I made mud pies for my imaginary friends. Now that I’m older I play in the mud to create beauty for my family and friends,  and both create the joy of a memory past and the anticipation of a memory made.IMG_0105IMG_0101

Heavenly Sunshine

View from my town. Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain

View from my town.
Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain

The last few weeks I have woke up in a gloom, the grey weather, MyMan traveling, losing my phone, MayBaby talking non-stop about her birthday and summer camp, JoBird getting strep throat, breaking the screen on my Ipod, dirty windows, a messy house, backing into the landscaper’s truck and, and, and…

Today the sun came streaming in the window, and it was easy to begin praising Jesus!

When I was a kid in Sunday School we sang two little choruses: “Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain” and “Heavenly Sunshine.” Not really theologically or Biblically sound songs ..but when the sun shines like today after so many months of grey weather, and my mood and spirit just rejoice from the moment my feet hit the floor and I feel ready to take on the world (or my back yard project), I realized that the song is reminding me—I don’t have to wait for the physical sun to wake me up rejoicing—I can put my sights on the “Heavenly Sunshine”.

I can be so sappy at times but..to tell the truth this is just how I want to wake up every morning!!

“Heavenly Sunshine, Heavenly Sunshine

Flooding my soul with Glory divine.

Heavnely Sunshine, Heavenly Sunshine

Hallelujah, Jesus is mine.”

At The Intersection

end 172nd distant view empty house

For 22 years I have been stopping at this intersection, deciding to turn left or right depending on where my day is taking me. I have watched changes take place at the lot across from the intersection. Twenty-two years ago there was an old farm-house, probably one of the first houses built in the area. It wasn’t much of anything , just a faded green shingled two-story house. It was a big square box, no porch to sit on, no stately pillars to beckon visitors, in fact it looked as if it had been abandoned years ago.

After a few years the old place was sold. Changes began to happen. The old farmhouse was torn down, the weeds cut back and construction began on a new modern designed home. Great care was taken in every detail. Several different roof lines, a dormer for the bedroom, pillars at the front door and windows that covered entire walls. Each day  I would come to the intersection I could watch the construction of this new home take place. When the detached garage began to be built, my husband came home all excited to tell me that the owner of the place was trying a new style construction on the garage. My husband, being in construction himself was excited to go and meet the owner and take a look at this revolutionary feat. I  didn’t pay much attention to what he was talking about, I was just hoping this new way of building and its exorbitant cost would not make it into the construction of our house.

Soon after the new owner moved in, beautifully laid out landscaping began to take form. The Japanese Maple, Alaskan Weeping Cedar tree, the Ornamental Cherry tree were planted in just the right places to create a beautiful scene. The field of grass was manicured to look as if it were a golf course. Over the years the place was meticulously taken care of, no cost spared.

Just a few years ago the place began to show signs of disrepair. The trees had not been pruned in the spring, the grass in the field was growing tall and going to seed. Rumor was the owner had suffered a stroke, there was no one to keep up the property. Soon there were signs that no one was keeping up the house either. It looked as if it had been abandoned. There were signs of break in and garbage strewn around. Soon a post was put across the driveway to make entrance into the property more difficult. This beautiful home, in just  few short years  was looking as if it had been standing  there for year and years, unloved and uncared for.

My man did some investigating and found out the owner had passed away, his mortgage was upside down. His children did not want the burden this  house had become, so they quit paying the mortgage and taxes. The house was foreclosed on and there it has sat for the last few years, abandoned.

The other day when I came to the stop sign and I looked at the deserted house I felt a wave of melancholy sweep over me. Here was a place, a home that was a dream of one man. He spent much of his time, energy,  and money creating a place of prestige and beauty. He was the first  one in the area  with the innovative construction. All the time he sacrificed, all the money he spent all the care he had taken to build a beautiful house was in vain, here it sat decaying with each passing day.

I began to reflect on what was important in my life, where do I spend the bulk of my time and energy, is it in things that will perish and decay after I die? Are the things I put my soul into important to only me? Will my family leave what I hold dear to deteriorate over time?  Will these things that seem to make a big difference now become a burden to children later?  Will my children and those I love, cherish the treasures I have left them or dread the mess they are left to clean up?

Or is it possible I am leaving a legacy of memories of time spent together, games played, meals enjoyed , laughter shared , the memory of being loved and cared for. That is the legacy I long to leave, the memories I desire to give them. I will ask them what is important to them and I will listen to what brings them joy. And each time I stop at this intersection,I will be reminded: what is the legacy I am leaving.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where
moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and
steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus Christ    (Matthew 6:19-21

Hiking With My Father

My Father was a hiker
         sometimes for a day 
                  many days sometimes.

Forests.......Waterfalls.........Lakes........Streams
       always secluded........off the beaten path.........seldom where others hiked
                    quiet......peaceful.......serene.

My Father is a storyteller
                     a humorist
                            a teacher.
He knows the flower of the color
                       the tree of the leaf
                                     the bird of the song
 He knows the Creator of all    
                     He hears the sounds of his Father and he joins in their praise.

.................he may not know
                                 He taught me

I find the trails less traveled                  
        I see the cedar growing from the stump of another
                            moss covering every side of the fir                
                                     I smell the skunk-weed on the breeze                                
                                               I listen for the Heron in the distance. 

I know the Creator                     
           I hear the voices of  His creation    I join their praise.

..................and I think of my Fathers when I hike.