Sunday, September 27, 2015

It is a Gray Sort of Day

This picture sums up how I am feeling today. Sort of gray, cloudy and a little lonely. And we all have our days of feeling that way, I know. This particular day is because I miss my mom, this time of year it comes in waves. It is hard to believe that Heaven has been her home for the last 13 years and I always think of her and miss her. However, today it has taken up residence in my heart like clouds that cover up the sun and blue sky and will not allow the bright rays break through. I feel colorless today. And with the grief of missing her comes other feelings of the loss of what was and how it shouldn't be this way. Because losing loved ones is hard. And the I am not always in this place of gray but today I am. Today I wish that she was here and today I wish I could tell her all of the things that are on my heart and know that she would be there only the way a mother can be. I know she would love me and pray for me. She would hug me and she would tell me that there will be brighter days. We would talk about dreams that have been unfulfilled and how those things hurt but there is no way to get around those but to walk through them. We would cry together and we would laugh together and it would be beautiful. But here is the thing, I can't do that with her because she isn't here. And I grieve for me, but I also can celebrate her life. I was blessed to have a good relationship with my mom. I know that I am blessed because not everyone does. So I in the midst of my grief I can celebrate her life as well. It takes away some of the sting of not having her here. It also helps that I can say with full assurance that I will see her in Heaven someday. That brings comfort beyond words. But it is okay to shed tears for the life lost and at the same time to say someday, someday I will see you again. Life lost yet remembered. So someday, mom, someday...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

For Those Who Have Lost Their Moms

I love this picture of my mom and me. Such love!

I miss my mom. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. I have people in my life that I wish she could have met, or there are times I wish I could call her and share all that is going on. Or there are my days that I wish I could hear her tell me it was going to be okay. But that isn't my reality, and for way to many of us that isn't your reality either. It is hard for those of us whose moms now call Heaven their home. And this Sunday, Mother's Day, it hits us pretty hard. My mom has been gone for almost 13 years now and it really just plain stinks. Not for her, she is with her Lord and Savior. She is living as life was meant to be and for her it is beautiful. I wouldn't wish her back for a minute but we are left to grieve. We are here and we miss them. I remember missing a few Mother's Day Sunday church services because it was painful. It was hard and maybe that was the coward way out but unless you have been there, don't judge. It was hard to sit there and watch families together, it was hard two fold, having lost my mom and not being a mom it can feel isolating. So what does one do if they have lost their mom and it is a painful day?

There is no hard and fast formula for getting through this day. If I am being honest it just plain stinks. The first Mother's Day or two, I cried, I was angry,  and I remembered her. It cut me to the very core and to be honest I dreaded Mother's Day. So here I am almost 13 years later and it still isn't an easy day but here are somethings that I have done to make it a little more bearable. I remember her, I still have tears, but I celebrate the legacy that she left behind. And it is a beautiful one! I also, for the last several years, get together to some very dear friends whose son is in the service and isn't in the area. I go to church with them and we celebrate our moms and I am able celebrate my friend too. Sometimes my sister comes along and that is a nice added bonus. But when I was able to, I made a choice to turn Mother's Day into something different, a new tradition. Is it still hard? Yes, there is no doubt. No-one ever takes place of our moms but it is nice to have something to look forward to as well. We both celebrate our moms and we cry together and we laugh together but the point is we are together. So this is what I would encourage you to do, find something that is a new tradition, something that, while it won't take away the pain of not having your mom here, it will give you a new perspective on this hard day. But let me also say this, if you have just lost your mom and the grief is fresh, I understand that. There is no way I could have started this new tradition right after I lost my mom. I had to be ready, I had to let my heart grieve and mourn. It wasn't until a few years later that the Lord knew I would be ready to look at Mother's Day in a new way. And perhaps you are reading this and your mom is still here but you know a daughter or son who has lost their mom, love on them this Sunday. I say this from experience, if you haven't been there, don't give them words of wisdom, just wrap your arms around them and let them know you love them. That is all we need. Just to know even though it is a hard long journey we aren't alone.

For all of you mom's out there from the bottom of my heart wish you a Happy Mother's Day! May you be celebrated well and know that you are leaving a great legacy in your children. I was blessed to have my mom for the 29 years that I did! I miss her every day and I love her and I will celebrate her tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What I Didn't Expect From Cinderella

I spent last weekend with my most amazing 15 year old niece. She is the coolest 15 year old I know. We were invited by a friend of mine to go see Kenneth Branagh's "Cinderella". Neither one of us had seen it yet and so we decided it would a fun event on a Saturday afternoon. We got our snacks, settled into our seats and waited. The movie opens with a young Ella in a field full of flowers. It is, or should be no surprise to us that her mother passes away quickly leaving a young Ella and her father alone.  Before her mother passes away she tells a young Ella, "...a great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer. Have courage and be kind."

I sat there watching this fairy tale unfold. Watching Ella face tragedy, her mom passes away and sometime later her dad takes a wife. It wouldn't be Cinderella if her dad didn't remarry the woman we come to know as her evil step mother and as a result she inherits evil step sisters. And as we all know, her father, on his travels, passes away. Ella is left to care for her stepmother and her daughters. They live in her house, and mistreat her and she is always kind but even Ella has her breaking point. So she takes off on her horse for a reprieve. The picture above is from when she first meets the prince, without knowing he is a prince and they have an honest conversation. What first draws him to her is who she is. She is courageous and kind. She is bold and honest. And he doesn't want to reveal who he is for fear his title will make her treat him differently. Ella is beautiful because of who she is, her character. And as I sat there and watched this movie it made me ache. It made me to ache to remember in a time when I believed in beauty, courage and hope. It made me wonder when I became cynical and stopped believing in a bigger truth. It grabbed my heart and made me sad and hopeful at the same time. When did I stop believing that good really does conquer all and evil will not prevail? When did I stop seeing the beauty that is all around me instead of focusing on the sadness and ugliness? Yes this world is full of bad, evil things and as Ella's mom told her at a young age there will be plenty of trials that this life has to offer; but when did I stop remembering, believing, hoping in real truth. The truth that not all of this life is safe but God is always good (to quote C.S. Lewis). When did I stop believing in fairy tales and start to buy into the cynicism? It made me sad and began to renew hope in me all at the same time.

Now, I don't believe that if I believe in fairy tales that I am going to marry a prince and all will be right in the world. At least, not completely. But it did remind me that hope, courage, kindness and beauty are all around us, in us and created by God himself. God who isn't safe but He is always good. It made be believe and remember again it the greatest fairy tale. The one that we are living right now; You and me, the conquering of good over evil. As a child of God this is my story. I have peace in the midst of chaos and the unknown. I have courage, boldness and beauty that surrounds me at all times. I know that though there are great big bad things in this world, I belong to one who has overcome this world and I can walk in peace knowing who I belong to. Cinderella reminded me that to believe in fairy tales is a  good thing and that we need to remind each other to believe too, lest we forget!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sometimes Words Aren't Necessary

I took this on my way to a women's retreat in Milwaukee. The sun was behind me as night was closing in before me. For some reason it stirred something in my heart. The retreat I went to was called  Mosaic, women coming together from different journeys sharing their stories, of loss, disappointment, hurts and dreams that had to die. Beautiful stories that remind us when night is before us the morning sun will rise once again. It may take a while to journey out of that darkness but we are not alone in those moments.

Sharing our stories with one another remind us that we weren't meant to live this life alone. We need one another and that even we are walking through a dark night of the soul, dawn will come again. But sometimes when our hearts are raw and we are in the midst of that dark night we don't need words but just someone to sit with us. We don't necessarily need others to fix things but to come along side and sit in the ashes with us.

There is a song by Jason Gray called "Not Right Now" and the first time I heard it I was in tears. For it put into words how I felt in the midst of dreams unfulfilled and a heart that is raw. It also made me think of others that are walking through tough times. I encourage you to check him out, he is a fantastic singer/songwriter that shares lyrics of tough things that we believers walk through but does it in a very sincere way. These words sum up how we can feel in our pain, when our hearts are raw and we don't understand...

Don't tell me when I'm grieving
That this happened for a reason
Maybe one day we'll talk about the dreams that had to die
For new ones to come alive
But not right now

While I wait for the smoke to clear
You don't even have to speak
Just sit with me in the ashes here
And together we can pray for peace
To the one acquainted with our grief

I guess I just say these things to encourage us to remember sometimes words aren't necessary, we just need to sit with one another. If you are walking through one of those times, or maybe you have come out of a dark night and can see the morning clearly let us love one another and walk with each other through life. Let us share our stories to encourage but let us also remember sometimes we just need to sit in the ashes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hope Again

(I wrote this some time ago but it seems to be appropriate for today too)

Hope, Again

The heart desires this love to be
Doubting still the words written before her
How can these eyes be so blind
But they are marred by disappointments past
Slowly reaching a hand towards His
Love runs deep and grasps her own
A flicker of hope now brought to life
Like a stained glass window reflects light
So her heart begins to hope again

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why So Serious?

Every time I ask that question, "Why so serious?', I can't help but think of Heath Ledger's part in "The Dark Night". And now I know that you are hearing his voice too and you are welcome!!!

The picture above was taken when my niece and I went hiking. We decided to do some cartwheels just for fun. It was fantastic!! And it made us laugh.

Lately though I have been thinking about playing. Partly because it was a challenge that was presented in something I am doing called  the 10 Day Do Over.  And partly because it is something that has been stirring in my heart as a believer and follower of Christ. I love life, adventure, laughing, dancing and being with people. But lately it feels like I have been plagued with...I don't want to say stress but just a heavy heart. I realize I haven't been living life abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV) says, "The thief comes only to steal and ill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it ABUNDANTLY." (caps are my addition) See this idea of abundant life comes right out of scripture.

Lately, I have not been living such an abundant life. I have let the stresses, holidays, thoughts and really me get in the way. That isn't my desire or heart. I love to embrace the mess and the greatness that this life offers. As believers and followers of Christ I think that we should love, live and embrace fun. Completely and totally, the problem is that we forget to have fun. Don't get me wrong there needs to be a balance. Life can't be all play because then we would forget to do things like laundry  pay bills, and grocery shop. I am not saying we can be all play all the time. But we also can't be all business all of the time. I know life is hard and we have real struggles in life. I do, you do, being a Christian doesn't make us exempt for those things. In fact if you read scripture we are guaranteed we will encounter trials. So I am not saying we walk around "faking" joy. That would not be productive either. So what am I saying? Are you confused? Don't be. My point is that we can't always focus on only the sorrow that faces us. We need to embrace all of life and we need to get out there and live!!! We need to have FUN!!! Do a cartwheel with a kid, read a favorite book, go to a concert, see a play, go the movies, go bowling, enjoy a dinner with friends, go dancing; do something that will allow your heart to remember that it IS good to enjoy life. God didn't ever think that serving him and enjoying life should be two separate things. He fully intended that we would fully embrace all of life. Our whole lives are meant to glorify him. We should be living fully because we understand what God has rescued us from and that should bring great joy. So have some fun today, remembering that we have been given abundant life. I declare today play day!! Who is with me???

Monday, January 5, 2015

Do I Have To?

This picture was taken about a year ago, I was fortunate enough to take off of work and head to a cabin in the woods for a couple of days. I was able to unplug from everything and just took my journal, bible and computer for music only. It was a much needed retreat and the Lord moved in my heart. You can read about that journey here.

On this Monday morning I would much rather be in that cabin working on my dream than putting on my scrubs to head to my job that pays the bills. Just being honest! Are you with me? Are you wishing you could just stay home and work what is stirring deep in your heart? My passion is inviting women to take a look at those wounds that are keeping them from walking in the fullness of the love the Lord has for them. But today I must put on my big girl pants/scrubs and head to the dental office. I don't hate my job, I love working with people and my co-workers are great as well. But it isn't my dream, but I believe it is necessary right now. It is teaching me so many things and I need to remember it is where the Lord has me for now.

I need to see it for the blessing it is. It gives me the opportunity to be a light for him. It is teaching me to work with all kinds of different personalities and to be His aroma. I need to remember that no matter what I do I work for the Lord. That also doesn't mean I stop pursuing my dream of writing my book and I hope someday to be able to travel and speak to women about the passionate way the Lord loves them and pursues their hearts. That is what I dream and that is what this year is about pursuing my dream. But my dream and what pays the bills for now, they aren't the same but they are not disconnected, because it is where the Lord has me today. So I will dream but I will also keep my eyes open today or I might miss the great ways that the Lord is speaking to me. It means I need to keep a grateful heart that I have a job that pays the bills, but is teaching me to be joyful in all things. I am not working my dream right now, but I know the Lord is working in me and through me during this time. So I will with all my heart pursue my dream and I will with all my heart work in my "real time job" wholly for the Lord. It is what he calls me to do. I am to be faithful in the small things so He can move in bigger ways.

It is a struggle, sometimes daily, but I am grateful for the reminders He stirs in my heart. Life is messy and doesn't usually (ever) turn out how we have planned, but that is the beauty of the Lord. He reminds us that it is not about our plan. He is always calling us to Him because His way is always better. It is perfect. I am jumping all in, but not forgetting who directs my steps. I needed to write this for myself this morning but maybe it might help you too! Here is to a great Monday!!