Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

A Note to my Friends who Just Aren’t Feelin’ It.

It’s Christmas Eve.  I have been up since 4:19 this morning.  That’s about an hour too early.  I could have stayed in bed, pretending my body has a bit of common sense.  That’s futile, in my experience.

I might be too excited to sleep. It’s Christmas Eve, you know.  We’ve got chestnuts to roast, and popcorn to string. Well, maybe I would rather read my book and play some ping pong, but still.  It’s a day to enjoy.

I have this buzz in my head.  It’s persistent.  I stopped this morning to acknowledge the buzz; I’ve been hearing it for a week or so now.   I asked God if He’d translate what I’m hearing.   I hope He answered.

I have been thinking hard about my friends and family carrying grief this Holiday Season.  If that is you, then I think the translation of this buzz is meant for you to hear.

I think I’m supposed to say two things:

  1. Tomorrow won’t look like today.
  2. You’re sad, and it’s okay.

My sister, Gail, posted a picture this week of a past Christmas.  She said it was one of her best Christmases.  That Christmas, Gail’s beautiful son, Ryan, was alive.  Ryan was a fun maker.  He was full of joy.

Gail said that she remembers laughing so hard it hurt that Christmas; she has a picture as evidence.  I enjoyed my family too that year.  But, I look at that picture, and I have a different memory.  That  was another Christmas when I faked it.   There have been more Christmases than I want to count when I generally faked having fun, and faked being present.  Grief and sadness keep your mind occupied.

christmas sisters

That Christmas, like so many others, I was wrestling with thoughts of Eddie’s future; trying to make peace with his health that seemed to be in an eternal downward spiral.

One year, on Christmas, Eddie was too sick to take the trip to Iowa to see Scott’s family.  Scott and I made what felt to us like an excruciating decision.  We left Eddie home with my parents for the day while we made a lightening quick trip to drop off presents, hug Scott’s family, and then turned around to come back home.

This decision felt traumatic for Scott and me.  We just had a hard time accepting that this was our son’s life; missing life, really.  It felt like a grave omen.  As we were getting ready to leave for Iowa, I heard Scott sobbing in a corner of the basement.  Scott was grief stricken too. Those were sad days.

That was yesterday.  That isn’t today.  I thank my precious Savior in heaven for showering mercy on this family of mine, and restoring Eddie’s health.  All good things come from HIM.

The fact that our deepest wounds have been healed, does NOT put me in a position of authority to talk about dealing with grief at Christmas.  You may rightfully be thinking, “You don’t know how I feel, Miki.  Your problem is solved.”

You’re right.

That doesn’t change the fact that my heart feels pain for others who have to fake it this Christmas, or any Christmas.  And, I feel compelled to tell you it is okay. YOU are okay.

I want you to know that you are NOT alone.  You are not forgotten.  I prayed for you this morning.  I care about you.  But, I also want to tell you that the God of the universe cares for you too.  I’m not preaching to you.  I’m not interested in converting you.  I just want you to know today, that if you are sad, and you feel hopeless, there is a supernatural hope that can be found through faith.  My faith in Jesus is not my religion.  This faith I have is practical and supernatural., and sustained me  when grief gripped my heart.  This faith of mine yields hope, and that’s what I know you  need.  Hope.  We all need hope.

Hope that a better outcome is ahead.  Hope that we can survive the present.

 

Romans 5:2-6

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

 

 

I want you to have hope.   Today is not tomorrow.  You are not stuck here.

If you’re faking it today, it’s okay.  It’s really okay.  I want to tell you that you are brave.  You got up today.  You showed up.  That is enough.

Be kind to yourself.  Thank yourself for moving along.  That’s all you need to do. You just have to take the next step.

I will keep praying for you today.  I will pray that you know you are not alone.  I will pray that you find supernatural hope.  I will pray that you just take the next step, and congratulate yourself when you do.

You are loved.  This is your time and place on this Earth, and your life has meaning.  I pray you feel God’s love for you this Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

 

Miki

 

 

 

 

Express Blog and Inconsequential Findings

I think I’m posting blogs further apart these days.  It feels like I am.  Quiet moments are not presenting themselves this past month; I’m not good at blogging around noise, or in a crowd.  I prefer no distractions.

Thank the Good Lord for creating Mark Zuckerberg.  Facebook satiates my hunger to express myself.  If you want to bet my Facebook friends that I am their most frequently posting friend,  you’ll win that bet.  I post a lot.

Here’s the alarming part of my Facebook presence.  My FB activity is an example of me exhibiting self control.  What my FB friends don’t realize is all that stuff I’m saying on Facebook is only HALF of what I WANT to say.

What’s wrong with me?

I give myself little lectures.  I say, “Okay Miki, that’s enough.  People have had enough of your shenanigans.  You’re going to resist the urge to post what’s on your mind for the next week. Got it?  Got it.”

Five minutes later.  Reggie is snuggled in the blankets projecting such cuteness, it would be a sin NOT to post a picture of him. Plus, I need to mention how much I love him.  Because, that’s original, right?  I mean I REALLY love my dog; nobody’s thought of that.    Suddenly, slipping back down the slope.

Sometimes I’ll post something on FB, let it sit for a few minutes, then delete it.  Occasionally, I’ve had friends ask me where a post went.  I just tell them I’m sorry.  I had second thoughts.

What’s a girl with an addiction to writing words, and a head full of silly thoughts to do?

Thanks for the therapy sesh.  I’ve missed this between us.

Now, in the interest of time, I’m going to express blog the rest of my way through this. I thought I might highlight a few random tidbits occupying the space between my ears. This might be how I blog until I have time to go old school, long blog again.  Prepare for your life to be changed:

Bragging

When people say, “I don’t mean to brag”, they mean, “I do mean to brag, but I’d like to be excused for it”.  I generally don’t mind when people brag.  They should leave off the, “I don’t mean to brag” part though.   When I hear that I wonder if I SHOULD mind.

Fitbit

The verdict is in; I’m ready to share the results.   I’ve had my Fitbit for almost one year. It works.

I have a routine I follow each day to get my steps.  It is rare for me to change my routine.  I had a couple of extremely busy days last week.  Time did not allow for my normal routine.  I fell quite short of my step goal on those days.  I realized on those days that my default mode is inactive.  I am not your friend who will bustle around you, fluffing pillows and picking lint off your sweater, because I just can’t sit still.   I LOVE being still.  Love it.

For some reason, my mind believes it’s accountable to my Fitbit; I’m not telling my mind otherwise.

The Fitbit works for me.

Walking

Speaking of steps, my super good work friend and I walk at lunch.  We walk the same route each day.  One day, there was a man who was standing off the sidewalk, more towards the street.  The man was smoking, and yelling something.  He seemed angry. At first, I thought the man may be in charge of some construction in the area.  As we walked closer, we realized there was no construction in the area.

That day, my friend and I decided to change our walking route.

On a different day, I was walking alone.    I was startled when I heard a man yell something in my direction from behind me.  I looked, and I saw the same man who was yelling in the street. This time, he was sitting in a lawn chair, outside of an apartment.  He was a big man, with a big belly.  He was wearing tiny shorts.  Nothing else. It wasn’t  warm.

My good walking friend and I have discussed this man at length.  We have agreed that if he should ever pursue us, we will make every effort to push each other in his direction to save ourselves. I thought I might say “Take her.  She’s younger. She’s smart. She can do your taxes.”

Sometimes it’s just good to have your cards on the table with people.

Faith

Zeke and Olivia are in a church group called “Impact”.  The group is an off-shoot of normal youth group.  Impact is for kids who might be asking themselves, “Why are we doing  this again?”

Impact takes an up close look at the Bible. The kids discuss what they read, and ponder how it may apply to their lives right now.  The other day, Zeke happened upon this scripture in the Book of Romans.  He was excited about it:

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.  So nobody has a good excuse.

Zeke thought this scripture answered a lot of questions for him.  I agree.  God reveals himself to EVERYONE through creation.

I hear from God every morning.   I see the black sky dotted with white stars first, until the sky turns pink as the sun rises.  My eyes take it in, and I know: man did not create this.   I would know it, If I had never heard a single sermon in my life on Earth.   I see an eagle soaring over the river.  I look at my small hands.  No hands like mine put that eagle in the sky. I feel humble.  My heart knows a God like this should be worshiped.

Rebekkah picture

*Photo credit to my friend, Rebekah Brackett.  She is an artist. She captures beautiful pictures of her world, and shares them on Facebook.

Feeling Small, Living Big

Uhgg.  My brain is dead.  My brain is dried out. Crispy. If you grabbed my brain with your hand right now, it  would disintegrate; a thousand brain crumbs would fall from your palm to the ground.  There’s no juice there, people.  I’ve got no flow.

I think it’s this back to school business.

You’d think that someone with no flow would have the good sense to stop writing.  Well, I don’t care if I’ve got nothing to say.  I’m going to say it anyway.

Where do you suppose you’re going to find wisdom like what I just said there, if I quit writing?

Exactly.

What’s that?  You think I’m kind of like a public servant, and you admire my bravery for writing even when I got nothin’?

Woah. Do me a favor. Don’t repeat that.  I’m shy about getting attention, and more than a little modest.  I’m appalled by the thought of making up pretend conversations in a blog to flatter myself.  That’s sick stuff.

On the last day of summer, my head was brimming with ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm.  I actually wrote out a few of my thoughts,  and saved them for when I had time to write.

Where did all the enthusiasm go?

Do you remember I told you that I was meeting with a group of women this summer?  We read the book, “How to Choose Joy When Happiness isn’t Enough”, by Kay Warren.  We finished our book club at breakfast on the last day of summer.   I was inspired by this book, and I think the other women were too.

Isn’t it funny?  And, by “funny”, I mean super irritating.  Within a week of finishing this book, and feeling like I understand how to access real joy and contentment,  I find myself struggling to remember what I learned.

Maybe if I tell you what I learned, it will help me remember:

There is practical wisdom in this book, I couldn’t begin to remember everything I thought was useful.  I’m definitely keeping this book to refer to later.

 I’m going to just tell you two ideas that impacted me the most.  The first idea is probably something you already know: Joy can NOT exist in the absence of gratitude.  Here’s something interesting about the group of women who read this book.  We all seemed to agree that the older we get, the mores successful we have become at seeing small stuff.  Is that just across the board, a true fact about aging?  Or, was our group unique?

Here’s how it works for me: I thank God for how soft my sweater feels against my skin, for the thick cream in my coffee, and for SURE, I thank him for this huge tree I walk by almost every day at lunch. I see that tree. I stop for a few moments to just take the tree in with my eyes.  I thank God for being so kind to make that tree, and for the power he has to create something as big, and beautiful as that tree.  Seeing that tree elevates my mood.

I know.  I’m well on my way to being a crazy ol’ lady.  We learned that joy grows more easily in a heart fertile with gratitude.  It’s easy to be grateful, if we start breaking life down to all the details.

tree picture

The other important part of this book was what I would call the author’s overarching theme.  If you walk away from reading this book without understanding this part of the author’s message, then you may want to consider a reread.   This is it. This is what Kay Warren is trying to say God has impressed upon her heart to share: Joy is a choice.  

The author stated this in a hundred different ways.  But, I understood her to say that I am an active participant in my ability to obtain joy and contentment in a life guaranteed to be filled with its share of sadness and pain.  The author didn’t just tell us it was our choice, and leave at that though. She gave us tools and insight on how to go about choosing joy.

One of the women in our group has a tremendous challenge in her life.  She didn’t ask for the challenge, it was given to her.  In one of our first meetings, this woman said something like, “Oh, choose Joy.  That sounds simple.  I’ve got to wake up tomorrow and face complicated and grueling decisions and tasks, but I’ll just start singing “Amazing Grace”, and choose joy, and then I’ll be all zippedy doo da…life is sure grand.”

I paraphrased what my friend said, but you get the idea.  I thought my friend made a GREAT point.  When she said that,  I was really hoping Kay Warren had something profound to share.  Because anything I said, I’d be whipping right out of my big, fat hiney.

I had squat on that huge life question.  All’s I really had was the dumb idea to have the book club.  That’s where my ideas ended.

Whew!  Kay Warren DID have her sister’s back.  She had some good ideas that were practical, useful and inspiring.  By the end of the book, we all felt like we had learned some things to take along with us in our lives.  It was a good book.  I recommend it.

Here’s the brave book club.  Our numbers started bigger than this, but do you remember how busy summer is?  Brutal.  I was grateful to have even one other person, besides me, by the end of the summer.

book club

I have had more on my mind than choosing joy.  I have been thinking about living big.  At least, I was, before back to school crushed the thinking out of me.

This lady I like shared this passage from Corinthians on Instagram the other day:

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.
We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.  I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

This passage speaks to me.  The smallness I feel comes from within me, but I’m not meant to live a small life.  God is asking me with great affection to live a BIG LIFE.  

Am I reading that right?  I hope I am.

I think what I’m hearing is that I’m NOT to live in obedience to my insecurities, or focus on my shortcomings.  I’m not to withdraw, or hold back, or create a facade to hide me.  All that is small.

For me, living a big life is measured in terms of my investment in people; encouraging, serving, loving the people I was dropped in next to on Earth.  Does it get bigger than that?  I can’t let my smallness stop me from living a big life.  How thrilling that I don’t have to.  A big life sounds super fun. I like fun.

I did this first book club/Bible study feeling very, very small.  I am small.  I know it.  I’m not a good book/Bible study leader.  That’s not false modesty.  I promise I hold this belief with every ounce of my soul.  There are times I laughed at my ineptitude.  I had to laugh, because the other option is feeling crummy about what I lack.  I don’t like feeling crummy.

I’m so glad I’m not letting the reality of my smallness stop me from living big.  God says, don’t do it, Mik!  He calls me, Mik. We’re just like that.  It’s an inside joke.

If you’re a woman, I’m inviting you to live big with me.  We’re doing another book club/Bible study this fall.  We’re meeting every other Sunday evening at 5pm.  Location tbd. Somewhere around Prairie du Sac.

 If you live in Pakistan, India or Switzerland, and you read my blog, may God bless you like mad.  Wow.  How did that happen?  I so wish you could join us, so we could ask you about Pakistan and stuff.  Perhaps you could live big, and start your own study where you live, and we can do this in tandem?

We’re shooting for a start date of Oct 4th.  We have not made a final decision on the book yet, but it will definitely be a book written to inspire us, and to help us grow in our Christian faith.  If you’re sort of iffy on the Christian stuff and church, but you’re intrigued, I wouldn’t let that stop you.  I’m not much for feeling like people all have to agree on everything to help each other grow.

If you start, and decide it’s not for you, I don’t get hurt feelings. It’s a gift.

I’m excited to live big.

You in?

Making Brave Decisions and What’s Wrong with Reggie?

Do you have a hard time accepting things at face value?  I do.

Lately, when the family is hanging out in the living room, Reggie has been slipping away to Scott’s and my bedroom.  We suddenly realize he’s gone. We get up and look around.  We keep finding him lying on our bed (or under) in the dark.

Why does he do that?  Do you think he’s sick?  Or worse, do you think we hurt his feelings?

You’d be pretty surprised to know much space a problem like my dog’s hurt feelings occupies in my brain. I’m glad you don’t know.

Our family is experiencing something new.  College recruitment.

Parents should get manuals for this stuff.  Wait. There probably are manuals somewhere.  Forget I said that.  I don’t want to read a manual.

But, poor Eddie. It’s just like when those dumb suckers let us take him home from the hospital for the first time.  We didn’t have one single idea what we were walking into.  We had no real experience to make us confident we’d succeed as parents.  We looked like adults, but we knew the truth. We were just two kids.  Kids can’t raise babies.

Well, maybe kids can raise babies. Eddie is still alive. Yay!

This little baby is now walking around like an almost big man.  I think this almost big man is probably assuming his parents are mature and adult enough to help him make his first gigantic life decision.

Sorry, Eddie. We’re STILL just kids.

College sports.  There’s a lot going on there.  I know very little about this subject.

We received a postcard in the mail last week.  The card said that if our child athlete doesn’t have at least 25 colleges/universities pursuing him/her, then we’re not doing an adequate job of promoting him as parents.  Which, of course, means we should hire professionals.

Don’t you think that was a stupid advertisement?  My sister-in-law is a college coach.  She says that outfits like that are trying to play on parents’ egos.  Weird. Because, it sounds to me like they just sent me an invitation to chaos.  Because we all need more of that, right?

Eddie is talking to a small handful of schools.  He’s  trying to figure out which wrestling team and college/university to choose.  He’s trying to figure out where he belongs next. Even on a small scale, it can feel overwhelming

Scott and Eddie just did Eddie’s first official school visit.  I sent Scott and Eddie no less than four texts reminding them to take pictures for me.  They said they forgot.  I wish they wouldn’t lie.  Did I really think they were going to stop and ask the coaches and wrestlers to take selfies with them?  A girl can hope.

I had to settle for a pictureless summary of their visit.

Scott and I have not had to make THAT many big, life decisions.  When we do, it’s rough.  I think there are two separate things making the decision making process especially difficult for us.  Scott is EXTREMELY slow to commit to anything;he wants to make the exact right choice.  For him, no decision is better than the wrong decision.  His perfectionism slows him down.

I have the opposite problem. I almost always  really, really, really don’t have an opinion.  This isn’t the oh-I-am-saying-I-don’t-have-an-opinion-so-you-are-forced-to-make-the-decision-and-I-can-criticize-you-later type of no opinion.  I suffer from REAL opinionless issues. .  Everything sounds good to me; I want everyone to make everyone happy.  I’m your basic, every day coward.

I’ve been praying a lot about Eddie’s big decision lately.  Then, I read this the other morning in the Gospel of James:

But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind.If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.

Hmm.  Never saw that verse before.  Will you check your Bible to make sure that verse is really in there? I think some jackhole might have written that in my Bible to play a joke on me.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tie all this up for you.  I tell you that this verse reversed my indecisive nature; learn from me.  Except, I don’t know.  Should I tell the truth?  Or, should I lie?  I feel like I want to lie, except the truth feels better:  That verse didn’t change anything.  Yet.

Just give me some time with that verse.  Okay?  I’ll read it and reread that verse.  I need to ask God what He means to say to me with that verse.   I might be learning a new way to do things here. Too soon to tell.  When things change, you’ll be the first to know.

Here’s something I do know. Yes. We were like little kids raising a baby, but Eddie is still alive, remember. So far, so good.  And, I think I actually kind of like how he’s shaping up.  I mean, if you had to live with him, you’d see he’s got some rough spots.  He’s kind of a hot mess in the pays attention to detail department.  But, right in the center of all his crusty old man clothes, long hair, inappropriate jokes,  and forgetfulness is a kid who knows himself.  It’s remarkable, really. Considering the confused kids who raised him.

eddie in tree

Secretly (not anymore) I really love that thing inside Eddie.  Knowing his own mind has served him well to this point.  No.  I’m not ready to turn all my parental duties over to that thing inside him, but I think we can at least trust it to guide us in the right direction with this big life decision Eddie’s making. I think. I don’t know. I’m not sure.

eddie eagle senior pic

I Saw Something Beautiful

I saw something beautiful last night.  I didn’t sleep well, and I woke up early because of it. I am feeling a compulsive urge to capture what I saw in words.  The sun won’t be up for a while, but I need to write this now.

Is this how real artists feel?  I always told people I was an artist; they should stop treating me like a normal person.  Artists shouldn’t be expected to do the dishes and go to work is what I have been saying.  Do you think Picasso had to get his own coffee?  It’s hard when you’re the only one who really “gets it”.

Last night we celebrated my Aunt and Uncle’s 55th wedding anniversary.  A lot of years ago, my Dad’s sister, Peggy,  went to a movie with a tall skinny guy she met, named Stan.  These two kids hit it off.  They got married: 3 daughters, 7 grandkids and 55 years later, seemed like a good time to celebrate,

stan peg inviate

My cousins hosted this celebration for their parents in one of my cousin’s backyards last night.  This party was a Pinterest explosion.  My cousins are like that.  If these ladies lived in a cardboard box, the cardboard box would have walls covered in a faux finish; there would cozy lighting and shabby chic pillows cast artfully about so that you’d be jealous of their cardboard box.  You’d wish you could live in a cardboard box too, instead of a dumb ol’ house.

That’s just my cousins; they can’t help it.  They’re not trying to make you feel badly about how every time you attempt style in your house, it looks like you hired a 9-year- old decorator.  Trust me.  These women aren’t doing this on purpose. At least,  that’s what my therapist told me to think about that.

But, we can dig into your insecurities later.  Right now, I want to capture this beautiful thing I was telling you about.

First, I have to go backwards.  My Aunt and Uncle live 2 hours away.  We had 2 hours for Scott (and Zeke)  to hear all the important stuff my brain has been storing.  My family must love our car rides.

I was telling Scott and Zeke about some folks I’ve been reading about in the press lately.  These folks are semi famous for one reason or another.  These folks have always claimed to be hard core Christians.  I mean, from what they’ve told us, this being a Christian thing is their main message in life, and the main thing we should learn about from them.  They’ve spoken about their Christianness with authority.

Recently,  it has come to light, that while these famous Christian people are using fame to convince us of their upstanding Christianness, they are simultaneously orchestrating a heinous private life.  I don’t know why I’m surprised by this stuff anymore.  It’s not a new thing.  I can’t help it though.  I always take it hard.

It isn’t the heinous private life that troubles me.  I’m not in charge of other people.  We are all responsible for our own choices, and the resulting consequences.  What makes it hard for me to recover is the big, fancy, public display of Christian faith.

Do you want to know what super unchristian thought I have when I hear these stories?  I’m going to tell you, because I need Jesus, and here’s how I know it.  When I hear these stories, I think about these people, and I want to say, “Just SHUT UP!  Please.  Stop talking.   Just stop.  Not another word.”

This is what I was telling Scott and Zeke on the way up to my Aunt and Uncle’s anniversary celebration.  I told my family that I was starting to come to the conclusion that people should just quit talking about their faith completely.  Maybe talking about Jesus is the easiest thing in the world to do.  Because, literally, anybody can do it.

I said that I felt like in a world with everyone yammering on (guilty) about how you should live, and what you should believe, there’s nothing new to hear.  I told my family that in a world like this, my actions are my testimony.  My life is my testimony.  I feel disillusioned by all the speeches.

That’s where my mind was at when we parked in front of my cousin’s house.

After we ate dinner, my cousins had a short little program lined up.  My Aunt and Uncle played, “The Newlywed Game”.  That was fun to watch.  Then, my cousins told the crowd what their parents’ happy marriage meant to them in their lives. Everything.

My cousins then asked the five grandkids if they would like to share a few words about their Grandparents.  You could tell this was a surprise request.

stand and peg anniversary

And, this is the beautiful thing I saw.

All five of these grandkids are young adults:  married for a short time, getting married, or going to college.  That sums up where these kids are at in life.  One by one, while holding back tears,  these kids told all of us sitting there how much their Grandparents meant to them.

Each grandchild told their Grandparents that they appreciated all their physical support.  The grand kids said thank you for all the meals they ate  with Grandma and Grandpa,  for the golf games with Grandpa, and for the luxury of knowing Grandma and Grandpa would be there to support them with whatever they chose to do.

The other thing that every single one of these grandkids thanked Grandma and Grandpa for was their faith in Jesus Christ.  These kids explained that Grandma and Grandpa helped them understand that no matter how difficult life became, their faith could carry them.

That’s it.  That’s the beautiful thing I saw.

I saw two young kids who committed themselves to God and to each other 55 years ago.  I saw an imperfect couple who spoke to God privately, daily, asking God for help, asking God  to show them how to raise a family, because they couldn’t do it on their own.  I saw a couple who endured heartache, trauma and their share of disappointment over a lifetime.  I saw a couple who’s faith allowed their hearts to resist bitterness, and to remain content.

I saw a couple who didn’t give grand public speeches about how people should live.  I saw a couple who, in the privacy of their own home,  fell on their knees before God;  Praying to a God they believe is  intimately invested and concerned with the well being of their family and the world.

I saw a couple who  woke up early, without witnesses, and read God’s Word; believing God’s promises were meant for them.

I saw a couple who practiced generosity and kindness every day.  A couple who said they were sorry, who asked for forgiveness.

I saw a couple who’s Grandkids have been watching and listening to their Grandparents.  Those Grandkids received an inheritance from their Grandparents worth more than any amount of money on Earth.

Grandma and Grandpa are towards the end of their lives now.  There will come a day when Grandma and Grandpa will not be physically available to offer comfort and support to the people they love.  But, Grandma and Grandpa’s hearts can be at peace.  Their private lives have been a testimony with impact.  Their grandkids were watching, learning and receiving instruction.  Their grandkids are now claiming their Grandparents’  faith as their own. These grandkids told their Grandparents, thank you.  We will not be shaken.

To me, it’s beautiful.  I can’t know if that’s the life I’m living, but that’s the life I desire.  I can say just about anything to anyone.  But, my family is watching what I do.  I really, really, don’t want to mess that up.

My cousin, Jodi, told me last night that shortly after each Grandchild was born, Grandpa Stan would take the grandchild in his arms and go for a little walk.  On their walk Grandpa would whisper his prayer to God,   committing his new grandchild to the Lord, asking for God’s blessing to cover this new grandchild. Grandpa Stan would also ask God for the favor of building a true and genuine faith in the heart of this new little human.  So that this precious, fragile life would feel security and peace despite what trials may come.

Grandpa Stan performed this meaningful, divine, life altering ritual privately.  Grandpa Stan followed where God led his heart, for the sake of his and his Grandchild’s spiritual lives.  Without an audience, and in front of no one.

It was beautiful.

.

Choose Joy and a Disgusting Story

I can really smell things.  I don’t know what that talent is good for, or how it’s helpful.  It’s true though.  I have always had a good sniffer.

Last night, I was woken up by a smell.  Has that ever happened to you?  Smells wake me up. It’s true.  Toots really wake me up. I feel like that would make a good T-shirt.  “Toots wake me up.”  It’s just cute, and something most people want to read about.

I thought there might be a skunk in our house.  Then, I thought Reggie really needed a bath.  I tried to put a pillow over my face, and then a pillow over Reggie. Nothing stopped that sour, skunk smell.

I reached my hand out to pet Reggie, and instead, set my hand in a puddle. Yep. Reggie peed in our bed.

I yelled, “Reggie PEED!!!”

Scott is fast when he’s disgusted.  He couldn’t get out of that bed fast enough once he heard “pee”.  Thankfully, we made one good decision in our lives; we purchased a heavy duty, water resistant mattress protector when we bought our bed. That’s the good part of the story. The part I’m going to try to think about.  The part I’m going to think about when I’m trying NOT to think about the pee in our bed part.

Poor Reggie.  He looked so shame faced when the lights went on that night.  His eyes drooped, and  he flattened his ears convincingly. I’d forgive him anything when he makes that face. That face doesn’t have quite the same effect on Scott. Scott was fairly unmoved.

I thought Reggie might have a bladder infection.  He doesn’t though.  Do you know why a dog would suddenly decide to pee in your bed, instead of outside?   Help me out.

I think Reggie gets to move into his cozy kennel for a few nights.  The kennel may become his permanent bed.   I gotta admit.  I won’t hate that.  I love Reggie like one of my children. But, our children don’t sleep with us either.  Why does Reggie? Seriously.  I’m asking you.  How does this happen?

We won’t be getting over this pee thing for quite some time. This probably isn’t the last time you’re going to hear about it.  I’ll be working through this for years. It’s called PTSD.

I have the BEST question for you.  Here it is:

What’s it like to be on the other side of you?

What I mean by that is this:  Have you ever asked yourself what it’s like to be the person on the other side of a conversation with you?  How do the words you use, your mannerisms and your general disposition make people feel?

This was the question posed to the group of women I meet with by author, Kay Warren.  Kay Warren wrote this book:

choose-joy (1)

See that title?  “Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough”.  Boy, she said a mouthful there.  I need this book.  Especially now that Reggie uses our bed as a toilet.

Kay Warren is smart.  That girl knows how to break it down.

I’m not going to recap now.  I might in the future.  I just wanted to talk about this one question she asked, because I think it’s so good.  I started to ask myself this question, and I wondered why I had never asked myself this question before.  The fact that I haven’t asked myself this question is telling.  Do you know what I mean?  I hear this word being whispered in my ear…aaarrogaance.  See what I did there?  I was trying to draw out the word arrogance, and make it sound like it was being whispered.  Hey!  Are you listening to me?  I’m talking.  Listen to me.  Because l like to talk, and talk and talk…

Blaach!

I’m sorry I haven’t asked myself these questions.  I’m asking now.  I’m going to try to pay better attention.

Kay warren talked about being a good listener, not interrupting, and offering gratitude to people whenever possible.  Yes.  Sign me up.  I want to be that kind of person.

What would happen if everyone just started behaving and communicating in a way that was always mindful of other people’s best interests?  Sounds like a cockamamie idea, Kay Warren.  Yer just askin’ for trouble planting those kinds of fancy ideas in our heads.

I’m in a bit of a rush today, but I’ll give you a full book report when we’re done. Don’t you worry about that. And, you’ll sit quietly and listen without interrupting, right? Because, you heard the lady.

It’s a Wrap

I already like 2015.  I have a good feeling about it.  Maybe it’s because 2014 was quacktastic.  And, by that I mean 2014 was really good. We’ve got some mo jo going.

I am on my last day of Christmas vacation.  Which is sad for me.  I have enjoyed every single minute of this sucker.  Even the minutes when I was coughing until I threw up.  Just in case you wanted to know about that.  There was some sickness somewhere in those vacation days.  But, who could really notice with all the fun?

I think I can honestly say that this was one of the best holiday seasons I’ve had.  And the reason almost for sure is because Eddie feels healthy.  We’ve had lots of Christmas and New Years when Scott and I  have had to make a mental note to smile in front of all the people we love.  Because, that’s what you’re supposed to do at Christmas. You’re happy.

No one wants to sit around feeling sad when there are presents to be opened, and carols to be sung.  Putting on a fake smile works.  Just, for the record.  You can trick yourself into having a better time by pretending to be happy.  You can’t give in to how you really feel when you’re sad; sad sacks NEVER have a good time.

My family celebrated Christmas on New Years.  My sister, Gail, and her husband and son from Colorado have been visiting.  There has been lots of laughing, game playing, eating, movie watching, fire building and teasing.

I thought that some day my kids could put all the pages of my blog together into a book.  If my grandkids (cross your fingers) and great grandkids want to know more about who they are, and where they came from, their parents can give them my blog to read.  That is, if my kids are not ashamed of me.  That’s a big “if”.      Maybe when I’m gone, my kids will want to erase all traces of me.  It could go either way.

Because I have this vision for my blog, I want to add a lot of our holiday photos.  Too many to interest you, and I’m sorry for that.  But, if you could just do this thing for my great grandkids, I’d be grateful.

Here was our Christmas: We played lots of games.  The girls like to play cards.  I’m okay with “Old Maid” and “Gold Fish”, but these girls like longer games that involve a little thinking.  I definitely try to stay away from thinking whenever possible.

cards

Grandpa and the boys almost always play Monopoly when they’re together. I hate Monopoly,  but I love Grandpa and these boys.

monopolyThe day turned into evening.  The sparking cider came out, and let’s just say some things happened that are better off not being remembered.  But, my camera was rolling.  So, we have no choice but to relive these things.

Some of my sisters and I leg wrestled.  Surprise! The one sister with long, beautiful legs, ALSO was the leg wrestling champ.  So, thanks, God.  Give her long, thin legs AND make her good at leg wrestling.  Because, she needs more good luck.  I would think that the least I could get in return for having legs shaped like cement blocks, is some strength. And, some kind of championship.

leg wrestling

We also played a game that I found a bit boring, at first.  One person had to go into a closet.  Then, we appointed someone in the circle to be the leader.  The leader had to make subtle motions.  Everyone copied the leader’s motions. The person who was in the closet, now stood in the middle of the circle.  That middle person had to guess who the leader was.  I know.  It’s complicated.  I was getting a little tired of the game until Scott came out of the closet in a headdress:

scott's headdress

The closet we had to wait in was filled with dress up clothes.  Finally.  The game seemed more interesting to me.  We made a new rule that whoever was in the closet had to put on dress up clothes before they came out.  Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for my turn.  I didn’t have much to work with.  A wig, a hat and a sweater.  I came out singing, “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my rag time gal…”  And, of course, there was dancing.

hello my dollyScott seemed like he was repulsed by me in this costume.  So, that for sure made me want to be closer to him:

scott's lap

It’s me, Sweetheart. Just give me a kiss.

We ended the night with a hilarious gift card swap game.  And, Grandma and Grandpa gave everyone some gifts too.  Grandma gave her nesting dolls to Olivia and my niece, Naomi.  Olivia and Naomi love to play with these dolls when they come to Grandma’s.

naomi and olivia new years

Olivia and Naomi

I drove the girls home after our party.  The girls agreed that opening the nesting dolls made them happy, but it also made them sad.  They decided they’re going to sneak the dolls back into Grandmas and leave a note with the dolls.  The girls are going to say this: “Grandma, thanks for the nesting dolls.  We like playing with them at your house.  We know we’re going to have many more years to play with them at your house, so we’ll keep them with you for now.”

I knew exactly what they meant.

After the presents we sang a few carols.  We also sang my nephew, Ryan’s, favorite song, “Love Like a Hurricane.”  We shed some tears too; we miss Ryan.  My niece, Libby, said a prayer, thanking God for reminding us of His love for us through the blessing of family.  Then, then we went home.

A lot of the kids ended up in our living room:

cousins sleeping

As far as I can tell, the only bad thing about hanging out with Scott and my families, is that it eventually has to end.  My kids always HATE getting to that part.  Seriously, Zeke and Olivia go through quite a low point after every good bye.  It’s hard for them.

THAT was our New Year’s/Christmas celebration.  I hope you enjoyed your Holiday, and that you can easily recall all your blessings in this world.  I know I’ve told you this, but for sure one of my greatest blessings are the folks who spend a few moments of their lives reading my blog.  I’m so very grateful for that.

Happy, Happy New Year!  Let’s make lots more happy memories this year.

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