46 Reasons

This last week has been fabulously filled with new life adventures, and I have enjoyed every single moment.  Here are 46 reasons why:

  1. Last Sunday, I went to church.  I may have been feeling just a little bit lonely’ish.  A dear friend was a few rows away with her beautiful children and a friend; instead of sitting by myself, I sat with my friend and her family.  This just made the service/worship so much sweeter.
  2. Later that day, I met a new friend for coffee.  We had a deeply rich, spiritual conversation that seemed to be the beginning of chipping away at a few of my soul’s survival tactics that really do not serve me well anymore.  I had found a little bag of my Grandma’s Catholic books and it was so incredible to be able to share them with a friend who appreciated them….not planned but incredible.
  3. I feel like my spirit has been napping and I’m waking up to the vibrancy of my being.  It’s just in the air or something…a new (or renewed?) energy
  4. It was a week of fun selfies and spectacular quotes.  One of my favorite is worth sharing here…”If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving.  Otherwise, it’s just, ‘Congratulations about your face.'”  This is the best!!!
  5. On that topic, I have noticed that we as a society can be very mocking and critical of selfie taking.  I say just let people be.  I can only speak for me, but taking selfies after the divorce was a huge stretch for me…it always felt like part of the picture was missing.  Now, I take them not because I am vain…usually because I feel silly, or contemplative, or whatever I feel and this is a way to share it.  So…this week I took a selfie nearly every day and shared it.  Why?  Because it was a lovely week and I chose to share my journey in this way…the end.
  6. Tuesday, I got to work on homework….I did this all week.  It was supposed to be stormy on all the days ending in Y, but that didn’t quite happen.  When it got down to the wire though, it rained…this meant more focus on my paper.  (Don’t ask, I’m just quirky like that!)
  7. Also Tuesday, I made another lovely friend and had a wonderful evening.  All I’m going to say is this…it’s socially awkward when one is on a date, and while on that date, runs into someone they’ve also been dating (not secretly) with their date.  Think that over.
  8. On Wednesday evening, (my actual birthday), I said bon voyage to 45 bonjour to 46! My precious momma and kids took me out to dinner.  Not one of them complained that I chose sushi and we had a fabulous time together.  I am extraordinarily blessed to have gotten that time with the woman who gave me life and the children that I gave life to.
  9. Also on Wednesday, my Facebook wall, text messages and phone calls were inundated with loving birthday messages.  Maybe I’m more like a child on birthdays, but I believe we ALL deserve special love on the day of our birth….find more reasons to celebrate…life is a celebration when you live in gratitude!
  10. I went to the chapel at St. Bernard’s…where my Grandma went to church.  I spent an hour praying, being still, looking around, thinking, and praying some more.  I was relieved that the toenails on Mary’s feet were not painted and were very real looking.  I left with something…I felt like God was letting me know that my openness was a gift, and at the same time asking where I needed closure.  Suffice it to say, there is an entire post to be written about this experience.
  11. The bestest part of my birthday was finding the video of my Momma and Daddy singing me the happy birthday song together.  Daddy was starting to struggle with his memory then, and that memory popping up made my heart incredibly happy.  I think I watched it 100 times throughout my day.
  12. I got flowers on my birthday.  Because my friend loves me and she knows that flowers fill me with joy.  I didn’t expect flowers, but she remembered.  It’s a gift to have a friend who remembers you like this.
  13. Thursday was a busy day at work, and I was reminded through my clients how very fortunate I am to have a home, clothing, food, pets, mostly happy and healthy children, air conditioning, blankets, a toothbrush and not a consistent fear for my safety.  Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
  14. Very good company Thursday night and another birthday dinner.  And…I saw the movie CLUE.  No, of course I didn’t doze off during the movie!
  15. Friday, I took 1/2 a day off work…thank God for a flexible job!   I finished a paper I’d been putting off for way too long, it really wasn’t so bad once I sat still.  Good thing since the paper was due in class that evening.
  16. Friday was the one year anniversary of our divorce.  I didn’t feel broken, ashamed, weary, hopeless and defeated.  I actually felt just the opposite.  I’m coming together, content, peaceful, hopeful and anticipatory.  I’m human so sometimes I struggle, yet this is authentic healing.
  17. Saturday was lovely.  It began early as I awoke listening to my brother sing loudly and cheerfully from the other room.  It was an awesome way to wake up and get ready for a day of class!
  18. My dear brother and friend joined our class Saturday afternoon.  So did one of my classmate/friend’s gorgeous wife.  It was absolutely fun to have their interaction for our discussion and I believe every weekend class should entail some sort of bring a guest show and tell!
  19. After class meant a drink or two with the above mentioned gentlemen and lively discussions!  That was awesome and I think I have now tried every flavor of Moscow Mule at PJ’s except for the one with whiskey…because whiskey is ewww to me.
  20. I had the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with my baby daddy.  (The wonderful man who I was with for 23 years).  I wanted to apologize to him for things I had done in our marriage that I just needed to take ownership for.  It would’ve been easy to continue to let him own it all, but this honesty is part of my continued healing and hopefully his as well.  I wish everyone had this chance.  Say what you need to say.  Forgiveness.  Compassion.  It all lets us move forward in grace.  If it’s not possible to share with the person, write it out and burn it…do what you need to do to heal…it’s worth it.
  21. Saturday night…topped with a warm bath, clean sheets, a great book and a glass of wine…had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
  22. Sunday began with a yummy breakfast cooked for me by my brother…and coffee…of course, coffee.  I sat on the porch and enjoyed this, read my Bible and enjoyed the magnificent morning.
  23. So…I read all of Corinthians 1 again, beautiful.  In my deep conversations with my new friend, I have felt a bit challenged.  Not in a bad way…in an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of way.  I know my faith is strong.  I am sure of my salvation.  I understand and have many biblical stories and scriptures stored in my heart.  In my quest to grow closer to God, I think it worthwhile to examine my foundational beliefs so I can better explain to others where I come from.  This is absolutely not the same as wanting to right fight and defend.  I want to understand more deeply all of the Bible…in context, not just here and there, for myself more than for anything.
  24. I had an especially sweet afternoon with a handsome, poetic hearted friend.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
  25. Tonight was coffee and a long overdue conversation with someone I love very much.  It was time to hear each other’s hearts so we could just move forward.  I thank God for these moments.
  26. This birthday week has been overflowing with new adventures and healing of old wounds.  In earlier blogs I’ve discussed my love of the words synchronicity and serendipity.  I still love them.  Even more, I love watching them in action.
  27. It’s been a deeply contemplative, prayerful week filled with thought-provoking discussions and earnest seeking.  These things are important to me, so I am thankful for each of these experiences.
  28. My children have been extra peaceful.  I don’t know why, I’m not going to try to explain.  I am intensely thankful for these moments though.
  29. Watching my daughter ice-skate and seeing her joy after she’s learned a new maneuver…priceless.  It was her daddy’s turn to take her this week but he sent me a video.  She wows me.
  30. Seeing the twinkle in my son’s eyes this week, even for a fleeting moment, makes my Momma heart happy.
  31. I have lost 20.3 pounds.  My next size down clothes are beginning to fall off of me.  I might not love that I had to change bra sizes but I do love my mostly steady energy and the way my body is changing.
  32. I see that while I am opening myself to new experiences, I am beginning to find healthy vulnerability again in areas that I had chosen previously kept  walled off.  I’m relieved that this is happening.
  33. I have set boundaries where before I would’ve not done so.  Sometimes, it really is less about fulfilling others expectations and more about taking care of myself.  This especially applies to my journey in dating. Stating my boundaries clearly and expecting that they be honored is just as new as dating.  This is all fresh territory.
  34. Staying in touch with new, new/old, old friends is a gift.  Remember, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold?”  Yes.  Do that.
  35. I look in the mirror and sometimes I look tired.  I see more wrinkles than I used to. I see a belly that housed two healthy, glorious babies.   Guess what else I see?  I see a woman who is lovely and becoming more at peace with herself as time passes.  I see the heart of a child and the strength of a woman.  I see God’s princess.  I see someone who is worthy of goodness.
  36. I have laughed, cried and enjoyed myself this last week more than I have in so long.  I’m not sure why.  Whatever….I’m grateful.
  37. I turned down a fabulous internship opportunity because I knew it would not be the best for my family.  Doing the right thing isn’t always fun.  There will be an even better opportunity, this I know.
  38. I ate cheesecake on my birthday…tempura battered cheesecake with cream and strawberries.  I haven’t had anything like this since April.  Oh my goodness, life is short and enjoying dessert is a luxurious treat!
  39. My puppies, my kitty and even that little lizard make me smile.  God is so cool to even provide us with these little muffinheads….just makes me think how much He loves us to give us these kinds of enjoyments.
  40. I got myself a couple of new books for my birthday.  I don’t buy myself things often and most of my reading time is spent on school books…but I’m so excited to read something purely for pleasure.
  41. My house is an absolute mess.  Parts of it feel like they are literally crumbling under my feet.  (Literally, it’s kind of happening like that).  It’s gonna be okay.  I don’t know how but I know it is.  Trusting the process.  Praying hard!  Remembering, I have a home.
  42. My coffee was paid for twice this week by random strangers.  How’s that for a birthday treat?
  43. Baby tomatoes are still growing on my vines.  I was shaking one of the plants one morning…to shake the pollen down.  Although I was gentle, a little baby fell off the vine and I felt so sad.  So…I buried it.  If I were that baby tomato I’d just use my seeds to make another vine and I’d grow taller and stronger than the original vine.  However, I’m not the tomato, I guess we will see what happens next!
  44. I’ve found lots of new music to enjoy on Spotify this week, I once forgot the love of music that I have.  Like…how do people ever live without music?  TV, I understand but music has to be.
  45. Stella and I came up with a grand book idea…maybe we can make it happen.  That’s pretty hopeful!
  46. I learned that sometimes, you just gotta spill the tea, sis!

It’s just been the best birthday week ever and my cup overflows.  The kindnesses bestowed on me are astonishing and I hope I give back well all that I receive.

Grace.  Peace.  Joy.  Mercy. Compassion.

Continue reading “46 Reasons”

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Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.    Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?   It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?  The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.  Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story.  If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result.  The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh­bor came run­ning over and said, “This is good news! Such good for­tune! You are rich, this is amaz­ing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro­ken. The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Yes! This is won­der­ful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?  There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news.  The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.  Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.  My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.  At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.  My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.  Another  consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa.  Again, who knows?  Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.  Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently,  truly believing it’s there?  It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?  Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future?  The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?  Why or why not?  Where did I learn them?  Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.  I don’t have answers.  I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.  I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.  I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.  Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire.  I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.  I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to  Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.  I  cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.  There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1.  Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?  Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.  I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.  I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.  They also make me think outside of my box.  In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.  I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value.  I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?  This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!  It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.  It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.  Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?  My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.  Time to let that illusion go.  Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.  One is not better than the other.  I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,  a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.  Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?  Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.  Is that going to happen ever?  Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.  Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.  The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?  Who knows.  Maybe that’s not the question.

Grief

I recently read that the best cure for grief was to grieve.  Duh, sounds simple enough.  No big deal until one just feels weary of grieving.  The grief “process”; it’s flabbergasting.  It’s an exhausting, painful, crushing, hard to breathe process and every time your get your head above the waves to catch a breath, the wave crashes over you once more, and you are drowning.  Again.

It’s a lump in the throat that says, “don’t speak” or the torrent of tears will come, but what choice is there?  Swallow the bitter bile down into your seemingly empty soul?  It’s the endlessly sour tummy that won’t go away no matter how many Tums are downed or how cautious the diet is.  It’s the tightness across the back that burns and is only alleviated by deep pressure; because the pressure reminds us that we are alive.  It’s the clenched jaw accompanied by tense neck muscles that are holding the world in place and the twitching eyelid that is imagined to be the worst kind of tumor in the anxious, exhausted mind.

It’s joyful laughter when a certain scent, song, memory…anything comes to surface…but then it is followed by an unsolicited, salty rain…running down soft cheeks without warning.  It is the penetrating sense of emptiness that ravishes the soul and the nightmare that haunts in the daytime.  Grief is the reminder of loss….over, and over and over again.  It is said that time heals all wounds.  I find this to be an intricately woven unreality that was designed to protect hearts from further pain.

Grief is obviously front and center in my world today and the effect is snowballing.   I am hurting for people that I love dearly because they lost a man precious to them.  He was a father, a son, a once in a lifetime dream love, a friend, a brother, an Uncle, not- simply…an honorable man who lived to make others smile.  I hurt for my niece and nephew who have never experienced this kind of loss before.  The first time with grief is unlike anything , the last and the middle griefs are no better.

Heartache.  Loss.  Tears.  Unutterable prayers. Pain.  In all of it, the healing has begun, I think.  Maybe the healing begins the minute we even connect and the pain of loss reminds us just how important love and each moment are.  It doesn’t matter right now though, right now is not celebration…right now just hurts.

I cry for their losses.  I cry for my losses.  I cringe at the thoughts running through my mind.  I wish I had a grief formula to follow.  Do blah blah blah and then do yada yada yada and in a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months, everything will be okay.  Getting to the point of celebrating what was before the loss will come but your life has been forever changed.  My life has been forever changed.  This is truth and for now, I’m kinda tired of grief and all that accompanies it.