October 31, 2010

halloween, this year...

I want to wish you a Happy Halloween!
I'm feeling like the Scrooge of Halloween.
One is cleaning her room, and the other is working on a science project. And if these tasks are not completed soon?  No treats, no tricks, no argument.
I wish I had just put my foot down and told them they were just too old to go trick-or-treating... but I never got around to it. I only hoped that no talk of it meant they weren't planning on it.
And I'm wondering... if the pumpkin carving, or lack there of, is going to have the same outcome.
I'm kind of longing for the days where there were no questions, no wondering... just last minute creating.

But I guess, if their projects are completed, there will be plenty of that last minute creating...

October 27, 2010

accepting fall

It takes a while... for the fall air to makes its way to Southwest Florida. The summer heat drags on through September, the humidity hanging on and weighing us down.  And October may or may not feel like copying it's neighbor... but this year it seems as if October has decided to turn its back on steamy, sticky September, and do its own thing.  We may not have enjoyed the crisp fall days that I rememeber, that I dream of... but the air has been cooler and the humidity has been wisked away, making 86 feel downright beautiful.  The breeze has picked up and I find myself smiling... accepting this Florida fall.

The Florida winter is easy to embrace, with cool mornings and sun-warmed afternoons... but it is the fall that leaves me wanting.  Wanting apple picking and colored leaves.  Wanting the chill in the air along with the deepest blue sky.  Wanting steamy cider to warm my cold hands. 
This is our 14th Florida fall... and I am surprised my senses still ache for those things. 

But how many times have I told myself life is what you make it
And so I find myself creating fall.  Baking apple cakes and pumpkin cupcakes... stirring up pots of chili.  Sprinkling faux autumn leaves here & there, and enjoying the scent of that cinnamon broom (along with Yankee Candle's spiced pumpkin.)  This year, we trekked out to the pumpkin patch early... enjoying our orange treasures for weeks instead of days before the urge for carving sets in.

So here I am... accepting this season. 
Knowing that I can wish for something I cannot have, or choose to embrace what is right in front of me.  And time is flying... I've given up on the chance that it will all of a sudden slow to a meander.  All I have is the now.  And the now... is good.  Football games and Saturday band events, silk leaves and pumpkin coffee creamer, recipes from friends and cooling my warm hands on glasses of chilled apple cider.
I will still be envious of those perfect, crisp fall days... but my heart knows this is right where I am supposed to be.  Life is what you make it... and I will make it beautiful.  No matter what the season. 

October 24, 2010

buddy blessed

He brings me more than I give... more laughter and more love.
He shows me what it is to be joyful... in the big and small.
He is a part of my heart... my Buddy.  And I would walk anywhere for him.
We walked last Saturday morning... in the sunshine and crisp air.  And while those steps were towards a brighter tomorrow, I can hardly imagine a brighter today.  A dozen of us gathered as his guys, just moving along the path in conversation and laughter.  Gathered for him... and for the others who carry that designer gene that marks them with Down Syndrome.

This was the first Buddy Walk in our area... and our family was thrilled to be a part of it.  As we prepared for the day, I gently asked my kids if they knew our friend had Down Syndrome... because I don't know if we've ever talked about it... in all these 12 years.  Not because it was a subject taboo... but because it is not who he is; Down Syndrome does not define him, and I just can't imagine that it ever will.   He is simply our friend, simply himself.  Happy, funny, quirky, persistant, stubborn, unpredictable... and full of life.

There is just something about him... that makes you want to go over and above the call of duty, beyond the extra mile.  And if I was thrilled that Eric could join us, our Buddy was even more so.  Of course, it was way-cool that Best Friend Eric was there on segway, just for him.  Because he knows that he is a special kid... the same way that every other kid knows that they are special.  Love and time, laughter and tears... in sunshine and in rain. 
And these two... could not have more fun together if they tried.   Two friends showing the world that the differences are not obstacles, the differences are meaningless... non-existent in the eyes of a true friend.
And they don't even know they are doing it. 

October 22, 2010

in my heart

I thought I was back... where I belong, as my dear friend Richella told me. But the days have passed... and I have had no success putting pen to paper, turning thoughts into words. But there is joy here in my heart. And laughter. And relief. And maybe... the inspiration is slowly making its way to the surface.
I'm looking forward to the weekend... and the love that will reside in it.  The craziness that will drive it.  And in that crazy, I am confident that there will be... contentment.  I'm not sure how or why I can find peace in chaos... but I have come to count on it, rely on it, and live in the laughter.

October 18, 2010

the healing

I knew I was almost there when I laced my sneakers... I could feel the much needed peace closing in. Reaching to remove my earrings, I stopped, and decided to leave them... knowing that I wouldn't hear them jingling over the music, but knowing the knowing was enough.
- - - - -
I came crashing down from a week that had filled me with hope. A week blooming with an idea planted by the One and Only. Both answers to unspoken prayers. But crash, I did. It wasn't one thing... it was a long list of many, not all small. I suppose it was the right mix of hurt feelings, disappointment, grief, hormones and sick... the right mix to break down the good and the joy that I cannot usually disguise. I may have risen to an occasion once or twice, but then fell hard, once again, in the aftermath. It was a pity party for one. Not just me in a corner... but in a hole. And even as there were hands reaching to pull me out, I kept digging. To protect the ugly? To hide from the beautiful?

And finally, after too many days, I let him in and begged him to not interrupt as I spilled all of the ugly into his lap. And when I was done... he sat there in silence. Exhausted by my list, or stunned by my ugly cry, I don't know. But then there was me, wrapped in his arms feeling almost human again. On my way, but so much further than I knew.  Because that was too many days ago. 

I made it through today with a smile. But as exhaustion once again settled in, I could feel the emptiness threatening.
Maybe I could...
What if I...?

And then there was that knowing.  Knowing only one thing that could possibly fill the void that I had created in my heart. Only One... and One I had never turned to in this week of dark days. He was waiting for me... right there in the darkness. Had I ever thought to focus on something besides me I would have stumbled right over Him. Perhaps I did, and chose instead, to cling to the ugly instead of His outstretched hand. But today, I filled His hands with my tears, and laid my ugly at the foot of the cross. And He filled me.
- - - - -
I barely let my legs warm up... because the music was calling me to move forward. And there I was, with just a glimpse of the graying sky... surrounded by garage rubble. Lawn mowers and bicycles... bags of clothes ready to be cast off. But my hands were lifted to the rafters (or the open garage door) praising Him, exalting Him. Running circles on the treadmill... retracing my footsteps, but not my week. Each time the track cycled around, I was further and further away from where I had been... and so much closer to okay.

Refreshed, renewed... bathed in His Reign.
And thankful... so thankful for His love.
For His grace.

October 11, 2010

8th grade band night

Some things are worth waiting for... and I feel like I've been waiting forever.  But there was no threat of rain, no worries at all.  And as soon as I heard that far-off cadence begin, I hurried to the fence to bask in the anticipation.  And then... there he was.  Looking like he fit in, wearing that drum, when I fully expected him not to be.  I turned, and my Mom was wiping away the tears...
It might just be a preview... but I remember when it was her turn, and how excited I was for her. And how quickly the time passed between this and the real thing.  

The time will fly by on its own, without me wishing it away. That I know for sure.

October 10, 2010

love is a verb

He suggested we go to the beach tonight to catch the sunset. And I know... it's not his thing. He knew I was in need of the sand between my toes, the roll of the tide that pulls my worries out to sea, and the roar of the ocean that is like the voice of God to my heart.

I love you, too.
Tonight was a gift... and such a lovely way to end this day of triple perfect 10's.


October 06, 2010

hello wednesday

As I returned to the treadmill once again, I have fallen in love with the shuffle setting on my ipod.  It keeps me guessing.  And moving.  I even kept moving when the beat slowed to almost nothing and Amy Grant sang Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning my song shall rise to thee.  And I praised Him for the moving and the breathing... and the cool breeze wafting into my garage.  Finally, I stepped of the treadmill and out into the air, walking up and down my {very short} street a couple of times.  The breeze was so inviting... life giving.  And again, I feel His breath on my life, filling it with hope. 
The last song of the morning?  Natalie Grant's Perfect People.
I listen and my voice belts out the song inside my head, not wanting to put on a show for the neighbors...

There's no such thing as perfect people, There's no such thing as a perfect life.
So come as you are, broken and scarred.

Oh God, You know my heart... You see the scars and cracks and the sin... and still, You embrace me. 

Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God
Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections

Here is my heart, imperfect beyond measure... time after time I hold it back from You... and once again, I place it in your hands... so amazed by all You provide.

So look up and see love.
Let grace be enough

My eyes are focused on You.  I feel Your love over and around me.  And Your grace.  My heart cries out a thank you as the tears take their place on my face.  Let grace be enough.  I need it to be...

October 05, 2010

virtual coffee... the real thing

It's Tuesday... time to gather for coffee.
And today?  It's the real thing.  With a splash of sugar-free pumpkin spice syrup.  My throat is feeling better (thank you, doxycyline) and I wil reserve tea-time for this evening when I am craving something sweet.  Tea is under a million calories, you know...
Today, I am wishing we really were meeting up for coffee.  Not only am I feeling better, but my mood is up, infused with hope.  And hope is good, no matter where it is directed. And if we were really meeting today, I'd tell you that fall is in the air, or at least the mirage of fall.  Pumpkin patches are appearing along-side the roads, there is cider in my fridge, and there was chili on my table... even though the afternoons are still reaching 86 degrees. 
If we were really meeting for coffee today... I might share that I had to dish out some tough love this weekend.  Oh, it hurt my heart, but it was necessary.  No yelling, no punishments... just a reality check.  I don't think she quite understands what is coming up in her life... and how soon it will arrive, and while I would move heaven and earth for her, there is a point when it is time to sink or swim.  Oh, I hope she swims.

The rest of the weekend?  Well, it was so nice to have nothing on my to-do list!  And my husband was working, so there was no rush to go out and do something.  I did accomplish a few things... like straighten the garage, clean the floor of my sewing room.  And it seems... there is nothing like cleaning up a creative mess to get the creative juices flowing again.  So I spent some time creating a new bible cover, just for fun.  And... on my way from taking Laura to the barn on Saturday, I pulled into an empty parking lot, sat with my coffee and watched this...
I wish you had been here. 

And if we were really meeting for coffee today, I would tell you that I just had my physical.  And just because we are friends... I might ask you if you have had yours.  Because I care about you.  And friends want their friends to be as healthy as they are, right?  For me it is not the actual appointment that keeps me from going... it is the making the appointment, picking up the phone.  But you are important, and worth the trouble.  I won't bug you... just planting the seed.
join me for coffee!
Happy Tuesday... meeting here with you, in real life or virtually, is a wonderful part of my week.

October 04, 2010

shine on me

Every day this happens.
Kathleen reminded me of that this weekend... and I was glad of it. Sometimes, I forget the brilliance of a sunrise... here, where we mostly bask in the sunset. And so I set to seeking... and finding. Because the sun rises here too, and there is no reason not to enjoy God's work on both sides of the day.
Returning from dropping Laura at the barn, and just wanting to get home, I noticed the most brilliant swatch of fushia hovering just beyond the trees, and the deep lavender clouds splashed across the sky... and in just a breath, the hurry in me stilled, and my soul was focused on the beauty.
Good morning, sunshine. Good morning, Jesus.
I couldn't resist pulling into an empty parking lot... to simply sit and watch the story. Pink and purple hues fading, oranges turing to soft yellows, golden orb shedding rays of glory over all the earth...
His light on my face. His light... on my life.
At the beginning... and the end.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25

This morning, the sun danced in the sky behind me... peeked through the trees at me, and laughed in the mirror. And I had to capture the gift in the moment.
The Son and the sunlight... two gifts I could not live without.


October 01, 2010

camden... in africa

He is the one who, at the most unexpected times, would lean in to me and whisper his excitement about going to see the Serengeti. I would turn to him,  and see his eyes sparkling with joy and expectation, and we would count the months... again.  He is my counter... keeping tabs on the months 'til school is out, the weeks 'til camp, or the days 'til his birthday.  And when the day finally arrives, he is the most joyous... not letting anything get in the way of completely enjoying the moment.  Africa was no different... well, except that it was more
On our first day in Tanzania, when we visited Shanga... I turned to find him and he was already deeply involved in a project.  There he sat, working with two women, safety glasses perched on his nose.  Even though the ladies were both deaf, they had communicated to Cam just what to do, and there he was just clipping away at glass corners.  These women & I exchanged smiles, and I felt a swelling in my heart.  For this boy... for who he is, and how he lives. 
We came to Africa to see the world, and in the world, my son rose to every occasion... and amazed me at every turn.   At home, his personality shines, along with the choices he makes for his life... and somehow in Africa, it was tenfold.  He was Mr. Independent... he was our goodwill ambassador.  He made friends with everyone, everywhere... made the most of every opportunity that was offered, and even created some of his own.  Driving through the city streets, or on long dusty roads, there he was... waving to everyone who passed.  His smile was reflected in theirs as they lifted their own hands to return the hello.  In the villages, or at the lodges, Cam brought out legos or frisbees, and started up a game.  Adults, kids... it didn't matter... there was joy in all the faces.  

In the bag of frisbees we brought, there were also balls... and my unathletic son brought that soccer ball out every time he had the chance.  He loved kicking it around with the kids... and was in awe of the way David (our tour leader) could bounce it around, working it off his legs and knees.  Before long, there was a promise of a soccer match... and Cam became  just one of the guys at the Serengeti Camp, welcome at the worker's side of camp anytime.     

While we did stay together for the first game drive and the last, those were the only times I rode with Cam.  He loved the independence, happiest when he was completely without his family accompanying him in the Land Rover, and sitting in front with the drivers.  And the new friends in our tour group?  They couldn't say enough nice things about him, and were happy to have him along in their vehicle.  And though I was not surprised, I was pleased... because if you are retired and going on the trip of a lifetime, I'm not sure travelling with a teenage boy is on the top of your life list. I was concerned about it at first, not wanting them to feel like they had to be in charge of Cam... but it turned out that he was just fine taking care of himself.
We sat together, that last evening... and shared our highlights from the trip.  I had prepared my heart with what I wanted to share, but by the time it was my turn to speak, I was a mess.  Several people had mentioned how special it was to have shared this journey with our family, with our children, with Cam.  One of our guides shared that Camden was actually the highlight of his trip... even with all of the amazing and extraordinary (even for drivers) sights we had seen. 
Oh, this mother's heart came undone...
He is the one... who captured Africa's heart, even as it was capturing his.  It seemed there was not a person we met who was not taken in by his joy and adventure, by the way he embraced it all.  And when it was time to say goodbye... what started as a high five or a polite shake of hands, ended in an embrace.  And the tears started all over again, watching these grown men pull my son into their arms, thankful just to know him.  On the way to the airport, leaving Africa, he was still waving... this time, hanging out the window as much as I would allow.  People smiled, and waved back enthusiastically... children navigated through the crowd on the side of the road and raced with the bus for blocks, just to keep on waving...

If there was ever a boy who make you smile at the world, it would be this one.
Camden in Africa was... truly amazing. 
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