Love

Heartbeat

FullSizeRender

A small crystal clock that once belonged to my mother sits on my nightstand. One classy thing amongst my scattered clutter — 16 books, 2 hair clips, my son’s Legos, and a winged Skylander.

But.

When the world is quiet.

When I’m quiet.

I hear the tick tock beat of time slow and steady.

Her clock. From her nightstand.

Now mine.

In the quiet, she speaks to me of time and timelessness.

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

I’m still here with you.

When I lay in the stillness of night, I imagine her listening to the same the tick tock beat,  and wonder what she thought about.

Then I realize that, at least sometimes, it would have been me.

And I smile.

Thinking of her thinking of me.

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

 

 

 

Back in the Saddle, Again – my weight loss journey, June 18, 2014

Well, friends, this is going to be short and sweet :0)

Honest Confession: The last few months, I’ve found it difficult to focus on my goals. Illness, the loss of my mother, grief, random stress and busy-ness have all jumbled together into a whirlwind that has been disorienting and exhausting. But now, I feel as though I’ve been spit out of the storm and thrown against the ground. A bit bruised, but breathing, I feel not so much like starting again, but picking up where I left off.

I went for a brief walk on my morning break in the basement of my office building. I plan on having lots of veggies for lunch, and I’ve been drinking more water.

My sweet little boy has offered to be my evening walking partner, with the vision of doing our first 5K together this fall (probably a walk-run).

It’s something – that transition from knowing you need to do something and actually taking action. Our troubles won’t be remedied in a day, dear ones, but in the moment-to-moment choices we make for ourselves, the ones we love, and the sweet little ones who love us back.

If you need to get “back in the saddle,” too, don’t worry about swooping up and going for a full-tilt ride. Just lift that first foot off the ground. Afterall, it’s how all great journeys begin. And, yours is going to be great. And so will mine 😉

The Making of a Memoir

ImageAs some of you may know, I’ve been working on a memoir for the last 2 years or so. While I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 5 or 6 years old, I never intended to write a memoir. I thought they were reserved for celebrities or renowned movers and shakers — great minds, innovators, etc. You know, people who’ve made a contribution to the arts or humanity in general.

I am not a celebrity, nor am I a “mover-and-shaker.” I’m just a woman who was a girl with a story to tell.

I’ve written most of my life, writing my first short story in maybe the first grade. I like stories of all kinds, as long as they’re good stories.

When I began writing my memoir, I was actually elbows deep in another project that had completely captured my heart – a fantasy trilogy. Then, I got the call that my mother had been diagnosed with Leukemia, and my mind drifted back in time, flitting in and out of memories that mama had always meant to write down, but didn’t. I decided I would write them down for her, and quickly realized that I wasn’t able to write her story. I had to write my story, and by telling about my life, I would be able to share her life in mine.

So, I set about writing. Joy, pain, suffering, victories, loss, and change.

It has been difficult. I relive moments of my childhood through my grown up filter, and I’m overcome with respect, compassion and understanding for my family that I couldn’t see before. I see my mother’s actions now as a mother myself, and so many things make more sense. I value the journey, and attempt to honor the past.

But, I doubt.

I doubt my talents and skill. I doubt the value of my words, the significance of my endeavor. Will it offer anything to the world, to my readers? Will I do justice to the past? Will I honor my mother?

Then, a friend asked me a simple question. Why are you writing this memoir? You’re wanting to make a contribution, right?

Yes. A contribution.

It may not be published. It may not be praised. It may not receive a Pulitzer.

But all those things are reactions to my work that are out of my control. My job is to create and give. A part of myself, my history, experience DNA – this is what my experience was, and this was my reaction. Maybe it will help you if I share it. Maybe I can contribute to your life.

An offering. A gift.

Do you have something to contribute? Have you been hesitating? Do you doubt?

Remember that there is a purity to a gift given without expectation. When we do our best and offer the world a bit of ourselves unselfishly, good things happen. How can they not?

Be encouraged. Embrace the journey and the things you learn along the way. As you give, you grow, and isn’t that part of the joy?

 

My weight loss journey, May 16, 2014

Image

So, this is me, like 100 pounds ago. I was a size 4 or 6 in this picture. Cute, huh? 🙂 At that time, I sure didn’t think I was cute. My then husband and I were about to file for divorce. He was leaving me for his girlfriend who, in his words, wasn’t as nice as me, but was more attractive. Girls, can I just say right now that we are all beautiful in God’s eyes? It took me years…no, DECADES to really start to understand that thing that I’d heard over and over again through the years. That I am God’s precious daughter, and that He loves me. He knows my heart and created me from the inside out, so he knows the sacred secrets of my innermost being, and sees that they are lovely.

He thinks you’re lovely, too 🙂

This summer, I go into the season the thinnest I’ve been in 3 or 4 years. Now, that’s not necessarily saying much as I’ve gained and lost the same 10 pounds for the last 3 or 4 years, but I’ve finally crossed the threshold and am on my way down again.

The last week or so, I’ve experience something new that I’ve been wanting to share with you. It’s peace. I don’t feel driven to lose 50 pounds in a month, or 100 pounds in 3 months. I feel a new peace with my journey that I can’t quite explain, but I know where it comes from – that same place that brings us all peace that we can’t fathom – our Father’s heart. It was always there, waiting for me and, for some inexplicable reason, I find myself with open arms, accepting it.

If you’re somewhere on a journey, whether for weight loss or forgiveness, healing or a fresh start, I encourage you to open your heart. Open it to the world around you – to the friends and family who love you, and the God who adores you. You’re not alone. You are worthy. You are enough, and you are lovely.

The Language of Motherhood

Image

My husband and son, at the beginning…

My earliest memory of my mother is of her hands. Strong, soft and sure, one holding me fast by the arm while the other sudsed me up with a soft cotton washcloth. I was sitting in the kitchen sink. It was stainless steel, cramped, and cold against my back, even though it was summer. But she had me, and wasn’t going to let me go.

Now, looking back over the last 40 years, I can see my mother’s hands over and over again. Brushing my hair, scrubbing the floor, rolling out dough, pulling weeds, holding her Bible, ironing with steam, sewing a button on, making sandwiches, tucking me in, wiping away my tears, pointing the way, holding my hands and waving goodbye…

Sometimes, often in fact, during my own journey through motherhood, I wish I was more like her. She was a doer, always busy, always with a goal in front of her – she didn’t rest until her work was done. Our house was spotless. Her hands were always busy and full.

Sometimes, when I was young, I would get frustrated. Why can’t we just relax and have fun once in a while? I would ask. Because there’s work to be done, she would say. Won’t it feel good when we’re all done?

Now, I wake up in the morning, feed the cats, feed the dog, feed my son, get my son ready for school, and get myself ready for work. I get dressed and while I’m curling my hair, I see that the bathroom could use a sweeping. I should plan on going to the laundromat tonight after work, but my son has a music concert, so it will have to wait. Backpack? Check. Lunches? Check. I pull out of the driveway…did I make the bed? Uhm…maybe not. Geez, the flower bed needs weeding…I sure wish I was more like mom.

I look at my son in the rear view mirror, and we share a smile, my hands gripping the steering wheel in a tight turn into our busy, busy day. We laugh and talk. At the stoplight, I reach back and we hold hands for a brief moment, our secret signal to one another that everything will be alright. Then, we move on.

We get home at the end of our day, and I fix supper, we eat and do a few chores, and then there’s this precious window of opportunity – about 45 minutes before my little boy has to go to bed. The bathroom floor still needs swept, but I don’t do it. Instead, I sit on the couch with my son, and we read. Or tell stories. Or play Legos. Or watch Green Lantern. Or have a tickle fight. Or just snuggle.

The time goes by, and we say our prayers…a tuck here and a tuck there, and he’s off to sleep.

It’s 8 o’clock. I go into the bathroom. I forgot the broom. Why can’t I be more like mom?

I indulge in a pity party. Mom was a better mother than I’ll ever be. She worked so hard and loved so much.

Then, I hear her whisper in my ear. You love just as much. You work just as much. You are everything just as much, just different. You are just what you are supposed to be.

I came to realize that my mother’s love language was acts of service. Every jar of pickled beets, and every starched blouse; every hot meal, and every clean floor said I love you.

My love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. So, every conversation about my son’s day at school, his favorite Skylander or Pokemon, and every snuggle on the couch says I love you.

So, mom and I are different, but the same.

Our love is different, but the same.

Our mothering is different, but the same.

It’s easy to compare ourselves with others, especially those we hold in high regard. It’s also easy to use that comparison as a way to tear ourselves down instead of building ourselves up without seeing the good that we do. We come to equate different with wrong.

Try to see yourself with loving, truthful eyes. That’s the way those who love you see you, and it’s the way your children see you, whether your bathroom floor needs swept or not 😉

 

 

 

 

What we Leave Behind

 

20140714_095551In the past, my mother had expressed concern over what she had to leave for her children. I remember her being disappointed that she didn’t have a lot of “valuables” to pass on, or a large inheritance to divide amongst her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I would try to reassure her with words like, “Don’t worry mom, you’ve done so much already.” Or, “Mom, that’s not what matters.”

Still, for my generous mother who was a child of the depression, she was worried about supplying our needs far into the future – a future that she would not be able to reach into to help solve our problems.

My mother had known depths of need in her life that most of us are never burdened with experiencing. And she survived. And she made sure we did, too. It may not have always been fun, and it most definitely may not have always been pretty, but we did it. She did it.

Even after giving her family the greatest of gifts – love and inspiration, courage and strength, she worried. Mothers worry 🙂 What kind of legacy could she leave?

A few nights ago, I found my mother’s legacy in the words of my five year old son. As I was tucking him in for the night, stories read and songs sung, it was time for prayers. What had been a nightly request for grandma to feel better had turned into a nightly request for God to tell grandma hi, and that we love and miss her. That night, at that point, shiny little tears started pooling in my baby’s eyes.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” I ask.

“I miss grandma,” he answers with the tiniest of sniffs and the biggest, bluest eyes. He looks at me, questioning. Hurting.

“I miss her, too,” I answer as I wrap my arms around him. “Why don’t you tell me something you miss about grandma?”

I smile to myself and in the milliseconds before he forms his answer, I anticipate a flood of responses. Grandma always had Tootsie-Rolls in her candy dish just for him. She and Uncle Jon always had a bird feeder that needed filling, or a hole that needed “dug” with his little plastic gardening set. Freshly baked cookies with milk in his special blue dinosaur cup. Happy memories.

“I miss her loves!” The words burst out and hang in the air, a look of desperate longing in his little face.

My heart is full of surprise and amazement at the depth and authenticity of my son’s wise-beyond-his-years words. He’s walked beyond the Tootsie Rolls and plastic shovels, Christmas presents and quarter bribery for his good behavior into the heart of the matter – into what really matters.

I held him in my arms and agreed that grandma gave the best loves.

“You know, grandma’s loves are up in heaven. That’s part of what God takes with Him when we die. So, all those loves are still there for you.”

He smiles a missing-his-first-tooth little boy smile and starts to blow kisses to heaven, giving some of the love back that had been poured in.

My mother left a legacy greater than riches or material security. She left a legacy of love that will reach far into the future for generations to come. What will you leave behind?

Worthy; recovering from emotional abuse, January 10, 2014

Image Most of us step into marriage with the greatest expectations of a lifetime spent loving and being loved. Sure, we’ll have our ups and downs, just like everyone else, but we’ll work through whatever comes our way, together, because that’s what people who love each other do, right?

I married my second boyfriend. Throughout high school and college, I can count on one hand the different guys I went out with, so it’s safe to say I didn’t date a lot. I was that other girl, you know, everyone’s “little sister.” I had a herd of “big brother” friends and protectors, but few expressed any romantic interest.

When I married “Don” (not his real name), I was just finishing nursing my wounds from the “big breakup” with my college sweetheart. It had been two years, and “Don” seemed the antithesis of my first boyfriend. He was a few years older, reserved, cerebral, in the ministry, and an east-coaster. My first boyfriend was from Chicago, so dating someone with a completely different philosophy on pizza might be a good idea, right? Word to the wise, don’t base your dating decisions on hand tossed versus deep dish. Just sayin’ ;p

“Don” and I took a lot of walks. He was a great conversationalist and offered a lot of deep thoughts and clever phrases. He was fun in a dark, droll kind of way – Mr. Rochester to my Jane. The romantic in me thought it was a match made in Victorian literature. Ahem.

The first few months of our marriage were nice. Peaceful, quiet, normal, until that morning – the morning “Don” wasn’t waking up for church. He was going to be teaching, and I was supposed to lead worship, but I decided to let him rest a few more minutes since he obviously was tired. When I still couldn’t rouse him, I became worried. He seemed totally unresponsive. I remember sitting down next to him on the edge of the bed, my hand on his shoulder. “Don?” I asked with a gentle shake. Nothing. “Don?” A little louder, a little more urgent. Then, he awoke, but the man who lunged from the bed was no one I recognized.

He was raging, and I was dumbfounded, confused and silent, just watching at first, trying to wrap my head around what was happening in front of me. Words spewed from him like venom. Harsh, unfounded accusations, cruel curses, and anger. Still, the only thing I understood was that I needed to keep out of his way.

I watched what seemed like slow motion as he flew his fist against the hallway wall, leaving a crooked imprint. I remember thinking he seemed so calm and focused on his movements. Elbow back, fist tucked under chin, then a deep breath and BAM, another hit, this time splintering a hole in the coat closet door.

The energy rolled off of him, and he suddenly seemed exhausted. He walked to the bathroom and locked himself inside. Quiet.

I sat on the couch, feet tucked under my knees, nightgown pulled down tight, like a little girl watching a scary movie. The phone sat on the coffee table. I stared at it, weighing my options, my future. All I had to do was make one call. My brother would come and get me, and that would be that. But…

If I made that call, there would be no hope of saving my marriage. No hope of rescuing that happily ever after. My family would lock me in a closet before ever letting me come back, and there would be no vouching for “Don’s” safety. I am the baby of five, and let’s face it, big brothers are big brothers.

That’s when I heard him crying, from the other side of the bathroom door. Obviously, “Don” must be sick. He had never acted that way before. Maybe he needs some medicine, and some counseling. Something must be wrong, and it was my place to help him, wasn’t it?

And so it began. Friends, finding yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship is as easy as a Sunday morning gone wrong. If you find yourself in a situation where you need help, or you see that someone you love needs help, please, be brave. Make the call.

Love you, lovelies.