Thursday, February 28, 2013

her pretty blue eyes

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we deeply love becomes a part of us (Helen Keller). Yesterday while I was browsing through my favorite floral shop, I came across this quote written on a ceramic cross. As I browsed through the store, I kept pondering the words in that quote. I decided that even though I really don't need any more "pretties" in my home, I needed that cross because the words have such meaning. I later found out that the quote comes from Helen Keller. Why did that catch me by surprise?

What Helen Keller lacked in sight she gained in insight. It takes a special person to write such words. Her words mean so much to me because I see living proof of them in my own life & in the lives of my loved ones. As I watch my beloved mother age, it touches my heart to see that her deep loves in life are still very much a part of her. Her love for & knowledge of music astounds me. Music takes her to a Heavenly place. I can see it in her demeanor, in her eyes, & the peace that comes over her as she hears a beautiful piece of music.

Her love for poetry runs deeply through her soul. She loves to hear the poems she wrote long ago. They tell a story of her life, a life of family & love. I need never question what was/is important to her. And yes... she loves the lake. It too soothes her soul. Every day that it's possible, her sweet husband takes her for a ride. They sit & have a sandwich in the car as they stare at the beautiful lake. Each day it's colors have a unique hue. Certainly, a beautiful way to brighten her day.

Her sense of humor still tickles me. She's always been spontaneous & remarkably still is. There's nothing better than a little ride to the candy shop except the gleam in her eye as she enjoys a few sweets. She still loves the snow & the nature that surrounds her home. Her favorite past time is watching the deer & other wildlife pass by her window. Lastly, I  need never wonder if she loves me. I hear it in her voice when I call her. I feel it in my soul when she says she loves me. I see it in her pretty blue eyes as I look into them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

complete with marshmallows

I love snow days! I was thinking of the agony & fun we experienced as we waited to hear if school was cancelled. It was always best when we knew the night before. However, this was rarely the case. I remember getting up early to tune in the Ray Rainer Show (yes, I grew up in the Chicago area) to see if my school was listed. If it was, I did a happy dance & waited for "Cuddly Dudley" to make his appearance on Ray Rainer.

Those blessed snow days of my childhood were the best! We bundled up & played in the snow. We went sledding, & of course, we had hot chocolate complete with marshmallows. If the snow was right, we built a snow man. He always had charcoal eyes & a carrot nose. I think in my mind he came to life (just like Frosty). The best part for me was a worry free day. No school!

So... as I became a mom,  my little ones went off to school, & history seemed to repeat itself. Again, we waited to see if our school was canceled. The radio was on, all ears tuned in. If we found out the night before, we thought we won the lottery. We got some big snows, & we had so much fun! Hot chocolate, yes! Marshmallows, of course! Sledding, our favorite snow day activity! And yes, we built a snowman when the snow was right.

Those days were precious. They were gold. And now... they live on in my mind. Each day we are blessed with a snow day, my mind travels back to some of the happiest days of my life. I see myself glued to the TV, waiting with such anticipation. I remember that feeling. I thought I was the luckiest kid on the snowy earth.

Then I see my own little ones playing in the snow. I see my youngest walking hand in hand with her little friend, so happy to have a snow day. I see the neighborhood kids all gathered in my back yard enjoying the winter wonderland. I'd be heating up the hot cocoa all the while trying to keep up with drying their wet clothes & warming their frostbitten fingers & toes. Those were the days! If we went sledding, that was the best!

Today, as the big snowflakes fell, I slid a few shovels of snow across my driveway. I relived these happy memories. I breathed in the smell of snow. I listened to the snowflakes as they landed on my hood. I watched my dog as he ran & played, tail wagging as if there were no tomorrow. When I came in, I sat down & had a cup of hot cocoa, yes... complete with marshmallows.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My little story...

I'm in the midst of a Bible Study with some friends that have grown very dear to my heart. As I was digging a little deeper this morning, I had a thought (or rather, a question) which I think is worthy  of asking ourselves whether we are in this particular Bible Study or not... How is your life in the Lower Story (that is your earthly life) impacted by knowing there is an Upper Story (God) who may be using your story to bring others closer to Him?

You see, knowing that I serve a God who is ultimately in control (& by that I mean He will work everything for good for those who love Him) effects how I live my life. It effects how I accept my hardships, what I do with them, how I pray, my willingness to be God's vessel, my Hope, my anxiety, my depression, my joy, my security, how I treat others, & the list continues.

I can't believe I actually thought about my cancer this morning & realized that I am blessed beyond measure for the lessons God gave me on this walk. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined thinking like this in my pre cancer days. This kind of thinking is just not a part of my DNA. I'm the one with fear & anxiety. I'm the one who likes to feel secure, enjoys being stuck in a rut, eating the same thing at the same restaurant time & again. I'm the one who worries before "things" ever come to pass. And... now... here I am sitting here blessed more than words can adequately express.

Of course, this question leads me to another question... What about the person who lives his/her life without the realization that God is using his/her little story as a part of His greater story? What is it like to live life thinking our circumstances are random. Do we just roll the die & see how they land, or does God have His say? If we don't like our circumstances, do we roll the die again? Do we cry out to God? Do we blame Him?

I believe we cry out to Him. I believe He may not give us the answer we would choose anymore then as a parent we give into all of our children's whims. I trust that He will use my story (both it highs & its lows) as a part of His greater story. My desire is for my little story to matter, to not be walked in vain. It may or may not have the ending I would choose, but as long as God is in control, I believe it will have the right ending.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I want to be courageous.

This evening I enjoyed watching the 20/20 Special about Robin Roberts' journey. I love her courage. Recently, I've  have decided that courage is a quality I hope is evolving in me. I want to be courageous. I think we all have different circumstances in life which offer us opportunities to develop our courage. Hardships will come our way; it's how we face them that will define our courage. Robin Roberts said that she did not undergo all of her treatment to live in fear.

I believe fear can be paralyzing. I have been paralyzed by fear in the past, & at times have not made the best decisions because I let my fears rule me. When I look back, I only have regret for my unfaced fears. Being courageous is not easy, but in the long run, I believe it brings satisfaction. Knowing you faced your fears, even if the outcome is not what you hoped, brings peace. Sweeping "things" under the rug brings regret. It's like a roll of the dice, being passive, & seeing how things play out.

Robin also said that no where does it say we are not supposed to be happy. Hardships tend to rob us of our happiness. However, with Christ, I believe it's possible to have joy even in our sorrows. I believe it's how God wired us & is nothing short of remarkable. When we anchor ourselves in the hope of Christ, the outcome rests in God's hand, & the burden no longer resides on our shoulders. Whatever the outcome, we can cling to the promise that All things work for good for those who love the Lord & are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Things will ultimately work out for the best (even if it's not how we hoped).

I can honestly thank God for my trials because they have provided me with experiences I would otherwise never have known. It's through my trials, I have grown, not through my mountaintop experiences. Yes, I love the mountaintop, but I know my character is far more shaped by my challenges. In the end, I want my character to be pleasing to God. The mountaintops make life fun, but having my heart refined is so much better!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"they fail not..."

Today I am overwhelmed in a good way. If you read my blog from yesterday, you will understand where I am coming from. If you haven't, I think you'll catch on. One thing I love about scripture is that it is alive. By that, I mean God breathed. It says so in the Bible; that's how I know this. I also know this because it can have new meaning for me every time I read it. Yes... it seems much of it was written for a different time period, a different culture. Some can easily dismiss its credibility because of what seems to be.

Truth is, it may have been written over 2000 years ago, in a different time period & culture, but it is timeless. It is written just as much for you & me as it was for those who walked the earth 2000 years ago. Because it is God breathed, I believe it is as alive as the Holy Spirit. It is personal. It speaks to me (sometimes even when I'm not looking). It can be offensive because it convicts & corrects. It can be loving, because it has many words of comfort. It can direct, give wisdom, & the list goes on...

I grew up in a Christian church in Waukegan. Throughout my childhood, I heard the words to a beautiful hymn: Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. Thou changest not thy compassions they fail not. As thou has been, thou forever wilt be. Those words are not in correct order, but they are in the order I remember them from my childhood. As adults all around me belted out the words to this hymn, I stood wide eyed in my pew wondering what they meant.

Recently, as I was preparing for my Small Group Bible Study, I came across the scripture which is the basis for this song. It's in Lamentations. Yesterday's Daily Bible verse was the same verse. I just cannot get it out of my head. I don't want to. Here's my realization. It's not profound, but to me... it's deep because it's a new understanding...

I've always wondered how God can be compassionate yet at the same time allow some of the sorrows & tragedies that occur in our world. I'm sorry, but it puts a lump in my throat thinking about this. So here's what I've realized: As God allows us to go through our trials, in addition to the fact that He sustains us & never leaves us, He provides joy for us along the way. He allows us to learn our lessons, to grow as human beings, but at the same time, He lets us find our deepest treasures.

This reminds me of parenting. As a mom, I love providing sweet surprises for my children. It's so much fun to see their eyes light up when God uses me to bring meaning to their lives or just  bring them  joy. There's honestly nothing better than that. I work to protect my children (even when they are not aware of the things I do on their behalf). I delight in it. It gives me purpose. I cannot wait to do the same for my grandson who's coming into the world soon!

I think I'm only getting a glimpse of what God is doing for me (both in my view & behind the scenes). I've had a very difficult few weeks, yet at the same time, God has renewed me through His beautiful timeless God breathed scripture. I'm intensely aware right now of what the words of that old familiar hymn really mean. I am feeling very loved. I am thankful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


My mind has been on overload lately. When I ponder the last year & a half, it almost doesn't seem like my life anymore. It seems like it could have been one of my dear friends, someone I comforted rather than all of the kind people who comforted me. I hope I'm a deeper person, & the better for it, but I get a glimpse of my growth only as I face each new trial. It seems it takes a trial to define our character. As a friend of mine once said... It's who we are in a crisis that shows our true colors. When life is good, it's easy to be good.

When life is sad, it's easy to be sad. This morning's Daily Bible Verse says that because God is faithful & loves us, we don't have to be consumed with our trials. In all my life, I don't think I've ever heard/seen this verse  (Lamentations 3:22-23). I have to admit, it is my nature to be consumed with my trials. My brain just naturally gravitates toward my troubles. I think allowing this verse to take hold in my heart would be a healthy step for me.

Over the last year & a half, I think I have learned to enjoy the happy  moments along life's way &  not constantly be dogged by my unknowns. It's true... God blesses us with laughter amidst our sorrows. I find this to be one of the most fascinating paradoxes of life. I have experienced it many times over, & it never ceases to blow my mind. It's like a flower amongst the weeds or the calm after the storm. We see this pattern over & over. It seems that God reaches through our troubles & touches our hearts when our trials are deepest.

As the verse in Lamentations says... His compassions are new every day. Hmnnnn... perhaps the smile that comes as tears stream from our eyes, the rainbow, the flower, the silly joke, a giggle, a kind heart... Perhaps all of these things are an expression of God's compassion. Maybe God truly does count each tear that falls from my eye. Maybe He hurts to see me suffer. Maybe that's why He sends the sunshine after the rain? Maybe that's why the person who suffered so deeply a year ago now remembers  it as if she comforted a dear friend instead of being the recipient of so much kindness?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Today as I was driving home from a visit with my mom, I had many thoughts running through my head. I was thinking about my regrets. I came to the conclusion that truly the only regrets I have are the fears I never faced. The sad part is... now it's too late to face them. The time has passed. My children are grown.

I was thinking about some of the mistakes I've made in my life. I was thinking about some of the sad times, the nervous times, the happy times... you get the picture. As I reminisced through my younger years, for some reason, some of the things I feared in my twenties kept coming to mind. These fears brought regret because I never faced them.

Since then, I have learned that the only way to overcome my fears is to face them. I no longer have the fears I had in my twenties, but it's not because I faced them. It's because time has passed, & they are no longer relevant. The things that troubled me then are no longer issues.

Why am I sad about this? Because I didn't deal with them. I never faced them, & as a result, I didn't grow from them. I let them dictate my life, & therefore, I missed out on the strength that comes from facing your fears. I missed out on learning from them & making every moment as a parent count. I believe I cheated not only myself but my family too. However, I was too blinded with my own fears to see.

Hindsight, of course, is always better. Now, the picture is clear. The damage is done. I can only apologize to others who were affected by my unfaced fears. Thus, I have regrets. As I continue this journey called life, I face my fears, & I want my daughters to see the value in doing so. I want them to be courageous & face their fears. I wish someone would have told me this when I was young.