Category Archives: commitment

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

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Calling all men . . .

I Promise . . . . . .

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog, I want to thank the men who recognized the need in my children for a male presence. There were many, my dad, my brothers, and wonderful men from my church family. Youth pastors played huge roles in my children’s lives.

To the men who complimented my daughter, who gently teased her, who showed her how a man should treat a woman, how a dad should love his children and how a husband cared for his family, I am eternally grateful to you.

To the men who took my son on father/son fishing trips, to the men who mentored my son, who pointed him to Jesus, who showed him how to be a man, how to shave, how to treat a lady, who showed him how to protect and care for the women in his life, I can not express my gratitude.

Men, I want to challenge you to look for the fatherless around you, take a few minutes to think about how you can fill the gap, how you can serve that single mom that has no idea how to teach her young son how to grow up to be a man. She probably won’t ask, a single mom is used to doing it on her own, she may not know how to ask or where to look for help. If she is like me she won’t even know, when asked, how to articulate what she needs.

This is what she needs: she needs whole families to take her children on outings, she needs for her children to see how whole families interact with each other. She needs her children to see you treat your wife with respect, she needs her children to see you hold your wife’s hand, and hug your children. She needs you to show her son how to shave, how to change the oil on the car, how to set up a tent, how to fish, and how to play ball. She needs you to take her daughter with your daughters on an ice cream date, she needs you to show her daughter how a man should treat a woman, how a daddy treats his daughters.

God blessed me with amazing friends and family that recognized what I could not express, my children would not have grown into amazing adults with out my God, friends and family. Thank-you is too small a word to express my gratitude, but it is the only word I have.

Thank-you.

 

Calling all fathers . . . .

Story time

Are you a father or a dad? There is a difference, I read once that just about any man can father, but not all fathers are dads.

Below is a paper written by my son, Jason. I found it when going through his notebooks after he passed. (You can read that story here). I ran across it again this week and I have to tell you my heart hurt and still hurts for this boy turned man who came to realizations that no child should have to. Before I give too much away, here are Jason’s words:

Why did I come? The first woman he made those vows to was my mother. This was where I finally realized that I didn’t want to be like my dad, the man I used to idolize.

Growing up there were rare occasions when I got to spend time with my dad. I knew all those times, he was an important person. My dad would get us into video game arcades where the machines were rigged to let us play for free. He knew the owner of the slot-car track in South Salem, so we wouldn’t have to pay to race. We could go to stores after hours so we were the only ones shopping. My mom would tell me, “your dad knows a lot of people,” and I’ve come to realize that was all there was to it, but it seemed like more when I was younger.

The wedding was in my father’s back yard. It was western themed. My dad along with the groomsmen all wore suits and cowboy hats. There were barrels laying around. Torches illuminated the yard. As impressive as the wedding was, the only thing I could think about was the fact that my dad had gone through this same ceremony with my mom over 20 years ago.

The first thing I remember is going to the park with my dad. He was pushing me on the swing and I, being the AD/HD 3 year old I was, started wondering what it would feel like to let go. It hurt, a lot. The whole way home I was crying and my dad kept saying, “if you don’t shut up I’m never taking you anywhere again.” It turned out that my collarbone was broken. He’s told me since that he feels bad about yelling.

As my dad stood at the altar, he was slightly taller than an average man and slightly more muscular than the average gorilla. His suit and cowboy hat in stark contrast to his normal gym shorts and t-shirt with missing sleeves. The sleeves were ripped off out of necessity rather than any sense of style. Nicely polished cowboy boots replaced his normal sandals. His straight brown hair stuck out just under his hat, and his beard and mustache were shaved off.

Several years back, just after he divorced his fourth wife, my dad called me. He asked me if I thought he could make money as a computer technician. Three months later he was a licensed computer tech. In another month he know more about computers that anyone I’d met. He’s always been like this. Whenever he gets tired of what he is doing he moves on to something else. About a year after the computer job he took a job repossessing cars. About six months later he called me and asked if I wanted to help him fight forest fires on a helicopter for the summer. He didn’t end up fighting. He tore his Achilles tendon while leg pressing something over 1800 lbs.

The minister performed a traditional wedding ceremony. So, despite being outside, in cowboy hats, the normal vows were read, “Through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.”

My parents got divorced when I was 4. I vaguely remember my dad driving away. I didn’t see him or hear from him much after that. After he married his third wife and moved to California, I only saw him two weeks out of the year. He always seemed to work nights, no matter what his job was. When I did visit I’d play Nintendo and wait for my dad to wake up. He would always have something to do before work, so I’d only get to see him for a few minutes. When he’d get home from work early in the morning, I’d always be awake to greet him. All he’d say was, “I’m beat son, I’ll see you when I wake up.”

His bride’s family owned a catering company. There was rice pilaf, chicken, turkey, spaghetti, punch, soda, wine, beer. The food was as aesthetically pleasing as it was plentiful. In the middle of the cake there were three covered wagons with a working waterfall.

He would miss birthdays. He wouldn’t call for months. He would seem to completely forget about me. But when he did call he somehow made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and I sincerely believe, even now, that at that moment I was. We’d talk about my grades, what I was reading, the latest video games or the computer I was working on building. Whenever we would talk about computers the conversation would end with my dad saying, “well s*** son, I’m impressed.”

The reception, still in the backyard, included dancing. The D.J. played mostly country music. I was expected to dance with my grandmother, the brides mother, the bride. “I’m so happy to be married to your dad.” So was my mom. “He is such a great man.” I used to think so too. “He’s so good with my son.”
(Written by Jason Taylor, September 2009)

I ask again, are you a dad to your kids? Married or single, are you a daddy? I get it, being a single non-custodial parent is hard, it is really hard. Just being a parent is hard, but, they are worth the effort. Our kids deserve the effort no matter how hard it is.

I can’t say that often enough or loud enough, your kids deserve the effort, no matter what the effort is. Don’t let it be too late. Start over, do better, don’t say you’ll do better, do it. You can do it, it will be hard, there will be hard stuff, your kids may act as if they don’t want you. Keep at it, keep trying, your kids are worth your effort. They are worth your best efforts, over and over again. Never give up. Love them with actions not words, not stuff.

In these days before Fathers Day, I am pleading with you, from this momma’s heart, be the daddy your kids deserve.

 

How does God put up with me?

 

thankful6

We live in a world where complaining is just part of our conversation. We whine “this line is too long”, “it took so long for that waitress to bring my food”, “why is this taking so long?”, “I don’t have . . . ” It goes on and on. It has become just how we communicate, we whine, we complain.

I have had a week of listening to just that, there is a lot of change happening where I work, good exciting things, but the path to get there is a little painful. And then there is me complaining about their complaining. Whew, no wonder I am so tired when I get home.

All the while we lose site of the fact that we have a job, a good job. We lose fact that we should count it a privilege to sit in a nice clean waiting room to see a doctor. It should be counted a privilege to wait to have food served to us. We should count it all a privilege.

There is so much we should be grateful for, I have a saying that is a little joking but so full of truth, when I am met with a lot of complaining. “At least you aren’t sleeping under a bridge tonight” This statement is as much for me as anyone. What an abundance we live with.

There are people in hospice that are grateful for just that next breath, there are people living under bridges that are grateful for the sandwich a stranger gave them, there are people who are grateful to have any job even if it is working a field.

How can I be so brazen before God to complain about anything. Anything at all. All that I have is a gift, straight from the hand of God. How is that not enough? How would I feel if I handed precious gems to my children and they complained because it was not gold, or it was not enough. How does God put up with us?

Eve did it, “why can’t I eat that?”. Adam did it “why did you give me this woman to tempt me?”  The Israelites did it “why do we have to eat that?” From the beginning of time God, who has showered us with blessings has had to listen to our ungratefulness.

While thinking about this I wondered why God created us this way? If it were me I sure would have taken that module out, I would have snipped that wire that went to the complaining component. Then I realize complaining isn’t the problem it is a symptom. The problem is that we were created with a longing for something more. We were created with an empty space, We look around for something to fill it. Things, action, anything but what was meant to fill it. How ridiculous we must sound to God.

There is a very real reason we feel unsatisfied. It is a God sized hole. Only God can fill it.  God created that in all of us, I need to remember to fill my complaining corner with God.

I have been sitting here thinking of all the things I tend to complain about, I am ashamed.

Instead of complaining about being stuck in traffic I want to thank God for the ability to travel so easily. Instead of complaining about waiting on the doctor again, I want to thank God I have medical care. Instead of complaining about waiting for my food, I want to be grateful that we can sit in a nice warm space and have food served to me. Instead of complaining about cleaning the bathroom, I want to be thankful that I have a nice warm home to clean.

Do you find yourself in the habit of complaining? How will you show your gratitude today?

Gratitude Production 101

gratitude production 101

Here are all the links to all 7 blogs in case you missed one. Trust me you do not want to miss one. All on the same subject, all so different yet so similar.

Before November gives way to December and all that seems to go with this time of year, make sure to read these. After this week of reading these I feel better prepared to enter this busy season. I will be more intentional with my thanksgiving, more satisfied with what I have, more compassionate to those who don’t have, more focused on the real reason for the season. I will be more thankful.

Take a few minutes, ready them one right after the other, like chapters in a book. it won’t take long. Choose just one or two of the suggestions to try see if it doesn’t change the way you look at celebrating the birth of our Jesus.

Day One by Traci Castaneda : Thanksgiving Blog Venture Day 1

Day Two by Terry Porter : Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Day Three by Bev Landgren : 365 Days of Grateful

Day Four by Joe Castaneda : Be Thankful. Be Thankful. Be Thankful.

Day Five by Tom Tanner : Rooted, Built, Established and Abounding in Thanksgiving

Day Six by Danny Ray : 3 Ways to Make this Thanksgiving the Best One Ever

Day Seven by Becca Forrest : Intentional Thanksgiving

I am working on a special project for this weekend. Stay tuned!

Have a blessed tomorrow.

Skippidy doo da

wedding day 1

My birthday month has come to a close I have been thinking about the amazing gifts my husband has given to me, not just this last month but from the beginning of us.

I am loved with no expectations, and I have been from the very beginning. When we started dating I really did love my single life, I told him so. I told him that I did not want a serious relationship, I did not ever plan to marry again. He loved me anyway, gently and consistently. No pushing, no expectations, just there accepting me.

Freedom to be exactly me, my husband has loved me for who I am and has never tried to change me. That is such a gift. The next two gifts come in the same wrapping. Knowledge that I am enough. Finally coming to myself. I am 56 years old, I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and I have finally realized that I am who God created me to be. This man has shown me more about how God loves me that any other.

Because of the three gifts above I feel safe. Safe to try new things, to be exactly me, to feel what I feel, to say what I need to say. This is an incredible gift, I have rarely felt this in my life. I have always felt I needed to measure myself, whether real or imagined I did not feel safe enough to really be me.

I can totally invest myself (and $) into a thing that I want to try. Over these last 5 years I have tried so many new things, knitting, soap making, building with pallets, photography and running just to name a few. I have not heard once that I am investing too much. That I am spending too much time or money, nor have I heard one word when I have decided that this particular thing is not for me. He is my cheerleader through all of it.

I have learned to truly relax and to let things go, I don’t have to always be in motion. I don’t have to complete a project the same day I start it. I have learned patience and to pace myself. Gently he taught me these things. It is amazingly freeing and calming. He has taught me the value of total quiet, the peace and comfort of being able to sit next to a person in total silence in peace and not feel like the quiet needs to be filled.

Waking to snuggles every morning and falling to sleep with snuggles every night. This everyday occurrence helps me to let go of the day and readies me to start a new one. I cannot even begin to tell you what a wonderful gift this is.

Really the point of this post is to publicly thank my husband for being the amazing man he is. To thank him for all the amazing gifts he gives me not just for my birthday, but each and every day. They are far more valuable than any material thing.

Skippidy doo da thank you
Lord for makin’ him for me
And thank you for letting life turn out the way
That I always thought it could be

There once was a time, that I could not imagine
How it would feel to say I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A.

Tim, I never thought it possible to grow more in love with time, I did not know that this existed, when you said five years ago that we would be amazing I had no idea. Life with you is amazing. Thank you for all you do for me, especially this time of year. Thank you for loving me as I am. Just when I think I could not possibly love you more, a new day dawns. I love you more than I can say.

I had a day

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I had a day last week that I have been pondering, still unsure of where it came from and what to think of it. Maybe if I write it down I can process it a little better.

This day I wanted to take a break, it was more than that, but I am even having a hard time explaining how I felt. I wanted to not be a mom whose son was dead, I wanted to not be a manager, I did not want to knit, I did not want to not knit. I did not want to take a run, I did not want to not take a run. I did not want to sit out in Jason’s garden, I did not want the reason for it. I did not want to cry, I did not want to feel, I did not want to be sad, I did not want to be happy. I did not want to do anything, I did not want to be idle.

Does any of that make sense? I have heard the expression “stop the world and get off” but have never felt it like I felt it that day. I was at a loss with what to do with myself, I was restless and lifeless all at the same time.

So, I put on my favorite Christian praise station, put on my headphones and made myself take a run. I really did not want to, and I really did not want to not want to.(Hope that makes any kind of sense.)

This is what I sorted out on my run, the fireworks tents started going up this week, these mark the beginning of Jason’s end. I also realized that my favorite season will forever hold some sadness, I am a summer gal, but it holds some darkness now. (I don’t really like that.)

By the end of the run, I felt like I had run to the arms of my heavenly father and he held me close. I cried, we had a long talk. Then I sat in the arms of my husband and he held me close.The world was okay again.

I am a blessed woman, my amazing daughter is just that, amazing. My two step children remind me every day of the love between siblings, and they make me smile. I cannot say enough about my wonderful husband, he makes sure I live the most carefree life possible. He makes sure I feel loved and cherished. And last but certainly not least, my heavenly father who is never more than a breath away.

Yes, the world is okay again, I have regained my balance. I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Is. 43:1-2, 4
Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to Me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
MSG