January 31, 2012

another day in the park

It has become a tradition.  Empty Bowls and soup in the park
This year was different... and maybe, sometimes, even a great tradition can use a tweek.
This year we juggled two events, but we had four to share the fun.  Two to sit in the park... and two creating art in the street.

I'm not totally sure how it all came about, but Cam and a friend signed up to paint Chalk Art in the street... and then decided they needed a real artist to work with them.  She was baffled and flattered, and the truth is she is a real artist... and my heart just smiled that he sees her that way, too.  So we left them... creating.

Two hours early, we set our chairs in line.  We weren't even first.  He had the newspaper and a book, and I had tossed some yarn in the bag... so there we sat, chatting and reading and crocheting.  The thought passed that we should do this more often... sit and enjoy the park.  The line behind us stretched on around the bend, out of our sight... and I can't help but be thrilled that this fundraiser is already a success, and that we came early!

The chalk artists scooted over into line with us before the clock struck eleven... and the the hunt began.  The perfect bowl.  How do we choose one out of 1,500?  The colors, the shapes... each holds its own beauty.  And soon, each will hold hot steaming soup.

The day stretched on in togetherness.  Artwork came together, and was admired.  It was a beautiful day.


January 25, 2012

for me... and them

Saturday I took eight hours all for myself... and the world did not fall apart. Not the whole world, and not even my little corner of it. As I write that, I wonder when it even occured to me that that could be a possibility? But some days, I do feel it. That if I stepped out the door, or stepped away... life would begin to unravel. That is quite a lot of pressure on one small life. And the fact is, that pressure is all created by me.

I am quite blessed with a husband who wants to be by my side and share the weekend together. He will drop me off at Hobby Lobby while he does his own errands, and then browses with me for just-a-bit when I am not quite finished wandering. Most of the time, if I tell him I have lunch with the girls planned, he'll smile & nod and off I go. But then, there are those other times... the times when I see his face fall in disappointment, or he jokes that I'd rather go with the girls than spend the day with him, that keep me from even suggesting it. I want to please him. Him... and everyone else. I suppose I don't even have to say where that leaves me...

I kissed my two goodbye as they headed out for math and horses before the thought raced through my head that I would not see them between their activities and mine. Calling them back, for one more kiss, I let them know that I was going to work on our scrapbooks and that I might not see them before bed, and they both cheered about the scrapbooks, even saying how much they missed me doing it, and one even added in how much she loves them. And when I said goodbye to Eric hours later? He sent me off with a have fun, and followed up with an I love you text.

I was gone just over eight hours, and nothing fell apart, broke or even shifted. I'm not sure they even missed me. I had fun. And... I might even go back next month.


January 24, 2012

a prayer request

i actually had something else to post today... but it seems there is something so much more pressing than my silly story. my dear friend needs prayer, and it broke my heart to hear her say desperately. somehow the bad cells have broken through all of our prayers and she is asking for wisdom for her doctor, so that he might find the right thing to fight these cells. i would also ask for God to give him a compassionate heart today.

and isn't it just like this beautiful soul to not ask for anything for herself? but i am asking. for her resolve to remain strong, for her to see hope in her doctor's eyes, for her to feel cushioned by prayer, no matter what the plan might be. for there to still be a plan... please God. and always, for healing on this earth. even through my tears and heartache, and facts, i cannot give up on this part of my prayer.

update: thank you for your prayers... for ann, for her doctors, and for me. i just received a note from her that insurance approved new medication and it is a go. so... when she comes to your mind, would you pray that the new medication will knock these bad cells right from her body?  xoxo


January 23, 2012

what i cannot buy

Winter is my favorite Florida season... cool breezes, warm sun, and a lack of humidity weighing down the air. Perhaps the only downside is the oh-so-dry skin... and so I went searching for moisture. The shelves held endless options, and I only knew that I didn't want this one, because it was far too much thinking for me. My eyes bounced between pretty bottles and the prices, searching for a happy compromise. And then, I saw the one for me... one that included a touch of happiness. Didn't someone once tell me you couldn't buy happiness? 

Each morning I read that line, and I smile. {Ah, so maybe there really is a little happiness blended in with orange blossom and bamboo!} But I know the truth.  Happiness can come and go, like the breeze that whispers through the trees or a warm chocolate chip cookie. No, you can't cling to happy. So you must choose joy. Joy sticks when happy flees. Joy lights the path when the sun can't shine through the clouds. Joy holds your heart in the dark of night. Joy is Jesus... and what He has done for me brings something to my soul that could never be purchased. Life, hope, unconditional love, and grace.

Yes, I may have put a price on a little happiness, but joy is priceless.

I've got the joy joy joy joy
Down in my heart...where?
Down in my heart...where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart...where?
Down in my heart to stay


January 18, 2012

yes... in a good way

He leaned in, kissed me softly, and asked if this trip made it more real.  I nodded...

The other part of our weekend trip was a couple hours north of Seaworld... to visit a college.  The last time we were passing through, school wasn't in session and all was eerily quiet.  Yesterday was quite the opposite.  The lots were full, the sidewalks were bustling... and there was an excitement that was practically contagious.  And I could see her there.  I could see her sitting in the courtyard with her paintbrush, or rushing along with the rest of the crowd.  It wasn't hard to picture her, book open, lazing under a tall oak, Spanish moss blowing in the breeze.  And as we visited with students over at the teaching zoo, she fit right in. 

So yes.  This trip made it all more real.  But in a good way.  I see the world opening wide, and the excitement dancing in her eyes tells me she is ready to embrace it.  And truly, there could be nothing better.

January 17, 2012

what would you do for a klondike bear?

We returned to Seaworld this weekend... because our passes were still valid, because we could combine it with a college visit, because... it is her birthday. The fun has been endless, and a true gift of time together. My heart has twisted & turned... and without naming it before, I know now that their hearts desires have certainly become my own.

Saturday, we saw the polar bear move. It was Johnnie, and I cried. I also jumped up and down and took pictures & video. He stood on his favorite rock and his mouth was open, and my heart believes he was singing a little birthday tune for his biggest fan. After logging hundreds of minutes at the icy window, her wish came true. And mine.

Yesterday we returned to the Arctic... and Klondike had just settled in for his day long nap. We enjoyed seeing him stretch and wriggle until he was finally comfortable, and then we decided to go on with our day. But after lunch, she decided to go back. And there she sat. For hours. I would pop in and check on her, we'd sing What would you do for a Klondike bear? and I would listen to her whispering to him... please, won't you come on over here? For my birthday? I told her to stay... that this is how I thought she would would spend her day, and it was okay. So she stayed, on the verge of turning into a girl-sicle.  And finally, just before five, Klondike was on the move.  I was off riding with Cam, but Eric was there with her... telling her it was okay to stay even though it was so close to our meeting time.  And the smile in her heart melted mine in the telling. 
Happy birthday, sweet girl. 
For eighteen years we have made dreams come true together, and I am so excited to watch as you take those dreams, make them bigger and brighter,  and make them your very own.  I love you.


January 13, 2012

a reluctant gift

I pin it over my heart and think of my beautiful friend... and I whisper the ceaseless prayer.   Healing, Lord... on earth.  Please.  If I spoke it one hundred times a day, I wouldn't feel like I did enough, and yet... for Him, it is.  The teal rhinestones sparkle and I think to count them as a gift... and then I pull it back.  I don't want to be thankful for this ribbon, I want to damn it to hell.   I don't want to be aware of the cancer and the sickness, I want to stomp it into the ground.  I want there to be no reason for this ribbon.  I just want healing.  And in the mess of my thoughts, I know the truth.  God can take the biggest messes and create something beautiful from them.  And in this mess, He makes good on the promise.  He shows me the grace in her eyes and in her heart.  He shows me her gratitude for the right now.  He teaches me that even this can have a purpose... so that He may be glorified. 

I still want that healing on earth.  I want it with all my heart.  And I know deep down, whether I bury my head in the sand or become aware, the sickness lives and wonderful people visit the poison palace for hope and healing.  So I wear the sparkling teal with honor... and hope that one day there will be a miraculous cure.  And I decided, reluctantly, that it is indeed, a gift.


January 12, 2012

where you go i will follow

He suggests a walk and my eyes light up.  Really, all I need is a little encouragement. 
We find shoes and sunglasses and head to the safari road.  The air is warm and the breeze is cool... just the way I like it.  We walk at as much of a clip as he can handle right now.  Once in a while, we stop to really look... to soak in the surroundings.  To seek wildlife, to listen for it.  Today there is no low croak of an alligator though... just the buzzing of a million creatures. 

Today... I am brave.  Or... he makes me brave.  We step off the boardwalk and traipse a little further in.  The canopy of trees frame a far off egret, and let in sparkling light.  I want to walk on and on, the fear of around the bend banished with my hand in his.  He tires though, and we turn around. 

Our strides have become a slow saunter... and we have time to talk.  And no excuses.  In the hustle of bustle of living, time seems scant and excuses plenty, but out here it is just us.  We laugh over our silly children and marvel at them, too.  I tuck away a reminder to tell them how great they are when we return.  Heart shaped leaves makes us smile and feel that so-in-love-feeling that we sometimes forget to celebrate. 

I love this walk... and this place has become our place, although who can really own the Florida wild? 

January 06, 2012

oh boy!

His first word was car. Not mama, or dada... car. And it was unmistakeable.  I think it was my first big clue {beyond the obvious} to the differences between little boys and little girls. I have found many more along this fifteen year path... and each is like unraveling a mystery.  But a connection to cars?  I should have definitely expected that.  The way he instinctively knew to vroooom them up and down and around; his choice to curl up with wheels and metal, instead of a cozy yellow bear.  And I would watch, with wonder, the way he lined them up... just so.   {I thought he might end up neat, but I was wrong!}

Yesterday was the day... he earned his learner's permit.  He may not have smiled for the picture, but after weeks of studying and practice tests, he was smiling all around it.  So the driving begins.  Eric says he is a natural... and I am thinking that that just may be one more of those quirky differences. 


January 05, 2012

less broken

We walked in and out of his three month check up today... and as we were leaving, a woman came in on a backboard and stretcher for her own appointment. All at once I realized... that while I have been so thankful, I have not known the extent of how truly thankful I am. Not until that moment.  Life could be so very, very different right now.

I didn't really mean to leave you hanging here... but life kicked in and there was fiesta planning and Christmas preparations.  So let me pick up where I left off... in the emergency room.
: :
I wandered back and forth.  When he called for me, I sat by his side in the small room right next to the nurses station.  And when they slid him over to a new stretcher and wheeled him off for another x-ray, I made my way back to the waiting room, to update my friend.  The cycle continued for hours upon hours before there was finally news.  At least two broken vertebrae (turned out to be 3) and a transport to a different hospital.  I can't recall a time I was more torn... follow him downtown, or head home to children and a few hours rest.  He told me to go home, and even though I knew it was the right choice, it was so hard to send him off into the second ambulance of the night.
Morning came quickly.  I assured them and kissed them, let them know he would be okay.  I wrapped them up in my arms, perhaps more for me than for them, and headed straight for my sweetheart.  I'm not sure I was prepared to see him so broken and in such pain... even though only five hours had passed.  In the light of day, vision is so much more clear.  But in the face of the unknown, I stood strong, trying to convince myself I was.  Within minutes, the routine of x-rays continued... and there I stood, alone and unconvinced of strength.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  And before I could breathe in again, our friend Jim was in the doorway.  Hadn't I called him (far too early on a Sunday morning) only thirty minutes ago?  He had been on his way to church, and yet now here he was.

Nurses came and went.  Eric was wheeled out for test after test.  He was still in the bed, unable to move without great pain, and his breathing was labored and painful... lungs battered and bruised from the impact of the fall.  Doctors made quick reports with not-quite enough info, even they had to wait for puzzle pieces to come together before decisions were made, before surgery could be ruled out.  Through it all, friends and family and Eric's co-workers came by, offering anything and everything we needed.

It is what I choose to remember most.  The revolving door of people who love us.  A friend who sat and watched the whole Saturday night emergency room crowd come and go.  Another that put aside his true dread of hospitals and just showed up... every day.  Bleak days (five of them) were laced by their laughter, blessed by their prayers and presence.  I don't think I knew that there were people would go this distance for anyone... let alone us. 

The healing is almost complete.  Another month of intense physical therapy and the doctor expects he'll be back to making the world a safer place.  It has been a long road... but peace and grace have covered us along the way.  And your prayers.  When you sent me a note, I felt love... and when you commented that you were happy to see him up and around, I gave thanks for it all over again.  You have been a part of my healing... thank you.  We are a little less broken these days.

here are the other links of things I posted along the way:
-choose blessings
-holding on
-while we wait
-finding my way
-there is peace

January 04, 2012

conversation hearts

Our mother-hearts conversed... her side spoke of a first Christmas, first steps and a birthday around the bend, while mine shared a college letter and a learner's permit.  Our voices were full of love and amazement, of our children and this time in our lives... but I could see, in her eyes, the weariness.  The harried heart of sitter-seeking and the exhausted wish that running in to grab a gallon of milk wasn't such a production.  Was she counting the years towards my independence?  I wonder if she could see, in my eyes, the grasping of moments.  That I might give up the ease of a sprint through the grocery store for a single last breath of their sweet baby scent?  The regret that I did not just hold them in my arms for all the hours of the day... because there simply wasn't one thing more important than our hearts beating in such close proximity? 

I am still learning that mother-hearts are never without ache.  And that even though we might be years apart in motherhood, the miles between our hearts are short.  And the distance between one and eighteen?  Try not to blink.   


January 03, 2012

more than a gift

have a playful spirit - be curious
find someone you really click with - sound out new ideas
glide through the day with ease - find your life's porpoise
jump for joy

It was their big Christmas gift... a trip to Discovery Cove.  Outrageous?  Yes.  But the timing seemed right.  And when it came down to giving stuff or an experience & a memory, I realized that it was the perfect gift.  We laughed, we splashed, we talked and we really did enjoy the day.  As forcasted, the air dipped far below balmy, but the water was warm.  And once we were in... the fun hardly stopped.  Silvery fish swimming in schools, rays that glided through the water... all within reach.  And when it was time for our dolphin swim... the magic washed through all over again.  Stella, Mareyah and Diego... you are amazing creatures!

We lingered as long as we could... tired, but not quite wanting the wonder to end.  The sun was starting to set, and in the golden rays, I gave thanks.  For being able to give this to them.  For birds that reminded me of Africa.  

For the parks amazing ability to keep us warm.  For God's magnificent creatures.  For a day with my family that was as near to perfection as we might ever get.  And for children who feel the awe of it and are appreciative.  I knew they were... I could see it in their eyes and they said it outloud.  Yes, it was just the right gift. 


January 02, 2012

when the truth is enough

The new year comes and we celebrate.  With smiles and cheering laughter, with a toast and a kiss.  We hardly believe twelve is here... and we raise our glass to hope and love and living. The days to come are filled with the promise of the unknown, but for one pure shining moment, the glittering lights cast no shadow. 

Somehow though, before the sun even rises, declarations surround us.  That this will be the year I... or from now on I will...  I resist.  Me, who celebrates everything and gathers tradition tight to my heart... I resolve nothing.  I think I am afraid.  Or just, in one small instance, practical.  In all of my failing ways, I know that next time December comes around, I do not want to recall the ugliness of a broken resolution, or how I gave up, failed.  Again. 

Yes, there are ways I want to change... things that I want to banish... more I want to accomplish.  But to declare it... makes me want to run and hide.  So I keep my dreams close to my heart, I speak them in prayer to the One who loves me anyway.  And when I fall short, when I feel broken and not enough, I can know one thing.  I am a child of God... and succeed or fail, He loves me.  No goal or dream or word is more powerful than that. 

So when the world has travelled her path once more, and at the end of everyday from now til then... I will know I lived in the truth. A truth that comes to me rightly, and lovingly.  In all of the hope and love and living, I am a child of God, and that has to be enough... because it is everything. 

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