Posted in body, brother, church, death, father, grace, grandfather, grief, heaven, Jesus, life, love, mother, peace, Physical, Prayer, season, soul, Spiritual

I Still Love You

In darkness, in grief, in despair, or even just in the midst of seasons that never seem to end, we need to make space for pause.

~ Ann Voskamp

I still love you even though you left so abruptly. I had even wished it was one of your April’s fool’s jokes. I wondered that whole day on your favorite holiday if you would send a message or telephone to say, “April’s fools! It’s all a joke, I am not really dead.” But not so. You are dead, or least to this world. You have passed onto a much happier, freer life now. How is Heaven, my brother?

I still love you even though we lived so different lives. You a bachelor, no family to attend to and I with 6 adult children and 8 grandchildren. We still shared a love for our beloved mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and our northern friends. We lived in the same childhood home & family tree farm, made childhood vacation memories. We shared a love of the great outdoors, you especially with your hunting and fishing; I with my gardening. It meant the world to me when you came to Dean and I’s greenhouse and brought Grandpa to see our new adventure.

I still love you even though you left without saying those words to me. You left angry at me and our other siblings. You wanted no accountability, live life mortgage-free and a life full of cigarettes, alcohol, women, and gambling. You were writing checks your body could not cash in on anymore. We all can be a prodigal son at times, get off-course to what really matters. I know I have in my life. I had just hoped you would have come around while living on this earth. But I think you are now with those you loved the most, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Paula, your soulmate Eileen, and the Lord. The heavenly reunion was a joyful one, I am sure.

I still love you as you have taught me how to laugh and be unconventional. I think you will continue to teach me lessons. I know you were not a churchgoer, but a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite how many knelt knees and fervent prayers are said, it is by His grace that we are saved and set free. I have my quiet time almost every morning, but this week I am attending Mass every morning, too. Not sure how long God has called me to this, but I feel a peace each morning while praying with others and for others. I did this for various seasons while working in human resources, attended noon Mass at the church a block from my office during some troublesome times and for troubled employees.

“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” ~Norman Maclean

The movie A River Runs Through It reminds me of you. You are the Brad Pitt character, Paul. I saw this movie a couple of days before I learned of the news of your passing, and I told Dean “Paul reminds me of Steve.” The closing words of Norman Maclean’s story, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and ran over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.” To me that river is the blood of Jesus, running through us, the rocks are us, and some of those rocks just have a little bit more sprinkling of raindrops, the blood of Jesus. God rest your soul. I love you, brother Steve.

Posted in answer, anxious, believe, children, choice, day, empty, failure, faith, Family, give, God, grace, heart, house, life, love, mother, people, Prayer, quote, rain, resources, rest, saints, scripture, Spiritual, understand, water, worry

Take, Lord, Receive

It has been a summer touched by St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Ignatius. Their lives still live in God’s people today including in me. A stray puppy became a part of my husband and I’s life one week in August before finding the perfect family to adopt him. After several weeks of packing, donating, moving, repairing, scrubbing, and just plain hard work, we finally put my mother’s villa on the market with the St. Joseph statue buried in the yard. Several willing buyers offered contracts more than what we asked for within 24 hours of being on the market. The closing is in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dean and I have some major household upgrades. We replaced a furnace well over 20 years old, a roof maybe as old, and gutters failing their job even when removing leaves and debris on several occasions this spring and summer. We have had plenty of rain even over the summer. One wall was showing some leakage during a storm prior to the roof and gutters being replaced, so some plaster work will be next. St. Joseph intercedes while God oversees the details.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”St. Ignatius of Loyola

I awoke one day singing from my heart the spiritual song, Take, Lord, Receive. I sang all day long, beginning with my shower and while I worked around the house that day. This song is based on the quote above from St. Ignatius, co-founder of the Jesuit teachings and Spiritual Exercises. I knew I was singing this for someone else besides me. A phone call from one of the kids revealed who. But the words welled up in my heart for myself, too. A yielding I need right now. A yielding of my own heart matters. Worry about things I cannot control, anxiety about the future of those I love, and my lack of understanding for some of God’s people placed in my life. Take, Lord, receive. My liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All I have and call my own … To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Please Lord, give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.”

Posted in children, cry, Elisabeth, Emotional, Family, fear, flower, God, grandchild, health, love, mother, Physical, Prayer, Rachel, Spiritual, strength, thankful, trust, Women in My Life

Dear Mom

Mom, I miss you. I needed you this week. I needed your listening ear. I got scared, too scared to trust for little while. I let the world bother me to the point I was doubting who I was. I am still your daughter. Even if you are not here with me, reminders like the female cardinal bird at the feeder last evening that seemed to peer through the window pane at me. This is my first Mother’s Day in my 60 years without you, Mom. If you were here you would be telling me “God gave you the strength and brains to get through this tough patch in life.” You’d also say, “count your blessings, be thankful.” You were always so strong. Well, maybe not always, but most times. Tougher than me for sure. I remember tears from your eyes just a few times. But mostly you plugged through things, complained when you had enough of Dad or one or all of us kids. Social injustices fired you up. No angel, a tough cookie that was very independent in most aspects, and gave that same tough love to me and those around you.

I sought God this week. He answered my cry, and sent other people in my path to pray for me. Mother Mary, other heavenly saints, and probably you and Dad, too prayed for me. My cries turned to gratitude. I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful for my children. I am thankful for my whole family, Dean’s, too. I am thankful for my jobs, and my retirement around the corner. I am thankful for the physicians caring for me and our girls, Rachel and Elisabeth. I am thankful there are medicines to keep our health. Rachel found a new doctor, a better one. She made it to California with her family, and are on the way back now. Praying for the traveling angels to guide them along the way. Those grandbabies got to put their toes in the ocean for the first time while in Malibu! I am thankful for where God has me right now. He has much more for me to do but also to rest and relax more. “Flex your gratitude muscle to fight off fear,” author Ann Voskamp encourages me. And it works. Stronger to fight off doubts and let God’s love win. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven! We left flowers for you!

Posted in art, battle, believe, blessings, challenges, community, crown, death, die, differences, faith, Family, friend, friends, God, health, heart, hope, Jesus, job, life, mother, neighbor, pain, scripture, together, trust, veteran

Broken Pieces

In 1944 and 1945 during the World War II, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick A. McDonald walked where the places of worship once stood. Shards of stained glass scattered the streets. He sent selected pieces to his home in Seattle while the war was coming to an end. He did know the intent other than to preserve what he witnessed while serving as a chaplain. Years later he and a colleague commissioned artist to use the shards of glass for what would become masterpieces of art. The exhibit is owned by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. “The exhibition is a metaphor for what division breeds — and for what happens when people set aside differences and try to build something out of the broken pieces,” quoting Indra Neelameggham, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

Life has no guarantees, no refunds. Conflict, poor health, toxic relationships, lost jobs. Or worse yet; war, a painful death, domestic abuse, and becoming homeless. These real struggles plague our lives either for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Like the sharpness of broken glass pieces, sometimes life feels like your heart is cut out while the pumping blood spews.

For a few weeks the church next door shared this message on their marquee sign, “Broken things become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” Do you believe that message? If not, it is a walk of faith for those broken things to become blessed things. Faith in our God, not in our own abilities or those of others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5.

Posted in authors, children, death, deed, faith, friend, friends, God, husband, mother, peace, Prayer, scripture, sinful woman, strength, woman, Women in My Life

Bathed In Prayer

My heart has been so heavy these past few weeks.  Thoughts have run through my head over and over.  I could not publicly write about it until today due to finding the words, as well as work and travels. The ramifications of the COVID pandemic are many.  Like a spider web, it’s intertwining in every aspect of our lives.  It is about protecting self and family.  For me it is also about the 4,000 employees I work with as an HR professional.  If COVID wasn’t enough, then the international racial riots in response to a bad police officer’s apparent murder of a black man.  How do you and I deal with all this negative news and multiple lives affected with such hatred?

I remember years ago while I was in distress over the lost of a child due to a miscarriage, an older Christian woman called me to tell me she would bathed me in prayer.  That afternoon I was so tired from blood loss and mourning over the loss of the child I would never know.  My husband then was insensitive to my feelings and said, “Well, you will get over it.  We didn’t really want another child anyways.”  So hurtful to me, but this was how he rationalize the pain of this death.  I slept the remaining day and into the night.  I was able to fall asleep knowing another woman was praying for me.  It was the intentional prayers of another, as well as this person sharing this with me that brought peace to my soul, and eventually rest.  From this I learned to pray fervently and unceasingly for others, as well as for myself.

“All strength that we give away comes over us again, experienced and altered. Thus it is in prayer…” author Rainer Maria Rilke writes.  Strength is what I receive when I pray.  “And what is there, truly done, that is not prayer?” Rilke adds.  I take it that the author speaks of works that coincide with or because of faith and prayer. Holy Scriptures tell us in James 2:14-26 New Living Translation (NLT) “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”

Today our prayers and the works that match those prayers sustain us.  We cannot justify hatred between family members, neighborhoods, co-workers, religions, and races.  Pray.  Pray for the “peace that surpasses understanding.”  Do a good deed towards someone who may be in opposite view as yourself.  If a good deed is not possible right now, then continue to pray.  “Pray without ceasing” until you can.  Bathe yourself and the other person in prayer.

Posted in differences, fall, Family, father, grandfather, love, melancholy, mother, quote, together

Melancholy

The melancholy mood I have been in these past days can be for several reasons.  Autumn is bittersweet.  “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” writes Emily Bronte.  I should be counting my blessings with every leaf I see fall.  The cooler breeze and vibrant colored leaves are so pleasant, but at the same time a reminder that winter is close behind.  The autumn season has held the celebrations of multiple birthdays.  My mother’s 80th this year, cause for a party she is still with us.  But I lost my father and grandfather both during the month of October.  “I Still Miss Someone” a song sung by Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe written by Carl Perkins speaks what I feel today, this overcast autumn day.  Missing Dad and Grandpa.  Missing the love I saw in Mom and Dad.  Despite their differences, they stayed together.

At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together

And I still miss someone …

Posted in children, daughter, education, faith, God, grace, grandchild, husband, love, mother, people, Prayer, resilience, scripture, trust

Mother of Pearl

The mother of pearl stone fell out of my class ring about 3 months ago.  I noticed a hollow cavity in the ring after a shower one morning.  My assumption is it popped out while taking a shower or while I gardened. My sweet husband knew how significant that ring was.  I worked hard at age 40 to finally complete my BA degree, and graduated with summa cum laude honors.  Dean looked up the information, and this ring maker guaranteed their work for my lifetime.  We packed it up and it was sent back to me within a month as promised.  Beautifully restored and cleaned.  Mother of pearl symbolizes restored trust and selfless love.  And this is what my BA degree did for me, restored my trust in people, love, and the reward for hard work.  The mother of pearl stone reminds me of my children, and the selfless love of a mother.  My daughters have done a much better job at this than I.  Being a grandmother has been much easier for me, and still an opportunity for a positive influence.

This week I was reminded at the Fearless Women’s gathering how God is in control.  Whenever we feel like we need to fix someone or a situation, remind self “they are My children”.  God loves our children and others more than we ever could.  He knows best! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:10.   “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” ~ Philippians 3:12.  “For nothing will be impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37.

Posted in brother, father, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, life, live, mother, Physical, purpose, scripture, sister, spirit, Spiritual

Whence

On several occasions I have had an older gentleman ask me “where did you come from” or “from what place are you from”.  He forgets what I told him the last time, so he asks time and again “whence you come from?”.  Here is the definition of the word “whence” and the use of this phase …

  • ADVERB
    from whence (adverb)
    from what place or source.
  • ADVERB
    from whence (adverb)
    from which; from where.
  • to the place from which.
  • as a consequence of which

In the physical realm I came from my mother & father, who met at the grocery store chain they both worked at in the mid – late 50’s, married in 1958.  I am their third child.  Their firstborn is my older brother by 17 months.  And then came my identical twin sister, born 7 minutes before I.  The doctor and my parents were not expecting me, as my mother did not show signs have being pregnant with twins.  Remember ultrasound was not used back in 1960.  Right before my twin sister was born, they felt what they thought might be a “tumor”, but lo and behold, it was me, a 2nd baby barely over 5 lbs.  My parents waited, and my little brother followed 3-1/2 years later.  Mom said “if the pope wanted her to have another baby right after my twin sister and I, he can raise them”.  Born and raised in Missouri, we lived in a small town subdivision for my first 8 years, and then lived on a tree farm in the same county for another 10 years before moving across the state to go to college.

In the spiritual realm, I am a child of the Living God, predestined for His wonderful plans. “In Him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will … having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit … live a life worthy of the calling you have received”, the book of Ephesians tells us.  This is where I come from, from our Father, Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.Remember From Whence We Came Ephesians

 

 

Posted in authors, book, challenges, change, day, easy going, Family, father, house, lesson, life, mother, people, quote, understand, walk, words

History Lessons

Life evolves, perpetually moving.  Hopefully, forward.  But maybe we would rather live in the past, the good ole’ days?  I dream of the whimsy of unhurried days.  Summer afternoon napping in a hammock under a willow tree.  Leisurely walking the shoreline combing the white sand for a treasured seashell or starfish left behind by the ocean blue waves.  Sunday autumn walks spotting the brightest red leaved tree.  Hot tea and freshly baked scones for a winter snack gathered with my youngsters.  Life is not so easy-going while working full-time hours as a human resources professional.  Commuting, family obligations and responsibilities, bills, and then keeping house for our two homes.  I am sure it is not easy as a carpenter in the summer heat.  Or the 1000 sandwiches prepared for another hungry crowd.  Or the school teacher putting together lesson plans and then teaching them to the 100 & 1 needs of the students you are responsible for.  The disabled or elderly making doctor appointments and their thinning budgets.

Do we really have it all with our careers, 2000 + square-foot homes, high-ticket sports events and concerts, organic foodie plates at $50 per, high-tech computer programs, phone apps, texting, social media posts, networking breakfasts, and so on & so on?  Recent weekends while antiquing for my husband and I’s newly acquired get-away house has prompted history lessons. We ask each other why this piece of furniture or household tool was used back in 1940 or another era.  Think back on those less hurried days, many items make sense.  I better understand my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.  Their tight-fist around the piggy bank,  renovated solid wood tables and reupholstered chairs, no big screen TVs but large radios for the living quarters’ entertainment and news, dishes galore because they did not “go out” to eat, and a plethora of tools to fix that broken whatever.  Maybe life was unhurried because it could not be with the lengthy meal preparations and length of time to repair or build?  Maybe life wasn’t so easy back then.  Maybe it just seems that way, because life is not easy now?  Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote, “Sometimes I wonder if telephones and motor cars are altogether blessings … When my neighbor gets into her car, it is almost sure to run for twelve to fifteen miles before she can stop it, and that takes it way down the road past me.”  Mrs. Wilder recognized how modernization changed her social connections.  I know it affects mine.

I read non-fiction books and articles to find out who I am or who I want to be (or not be).  Marie Kondo encourages us in her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past”.  Such an easy concept, live the now and look to the future rather than the past.  But I would have to challenge those words and their meaning.  I agree with the concept of this book, de-cluttering and making your home or office space functional, becoming a better person.  But the past is why we are who are now, and this will carry to the future.  I rather filter the past, keep the nuggets of wisdom of the past generations, use for guidance.   Learn from and not repeat their mistakes, but I will surely make my own.  That antique end table or butter dish reminds me of past generations’ input into my life, directly or indirectly.  Their legacy, history makes me and you who we are now and what we will become in the days to come.  I ask you to think on someone in your past or from your history lessons.  What is one sentence this person would say to you right now that can effect your today and tomorrow in a positive manner?

Posted in children, father, forgiveness, friend, gift, God, husband, Jesus, love, mother, quote

Gift

The gift, a friend, a child, a grandchild, your spouse, your parent, or a pet.  Unconditional love.  That is the gift.  Sent from God.  Who in your life represents God’s heart and love?  Who have you shared God’s heart by loving them?  Who needs to know that love?

So happy to know God’s unconditional love, His forgiveness, His Son, Jesus my Redeemer and Savior as our example, role model.  No one else is the Perfect role model.  My Jesus.  Your Jesus, too.