Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

October’s Still Blue

To the surprise of many, it’s still Blue October. After we secured a post-season spot, I celebrated a “Royal” lunch with one of my sons in Cardinals nation.  We wore it proudly.

Royal Lunch

The Royals won the wild card game – and in dramatic fashion – coming from behind, stealing bases, and smashing those timely hits. The hometown crowd erupted when the game-winning hit skipped sharply past the third baseman near the line – “FAIR BALL!!”

That night, life in Kansas City went up a notch. There were celebrations in living rooms (mine included), at watch parties in social establishments, and in workplaces that could not shut down. As the Royals’ manager well stated, “The players didn’t quit, and the fans didn’t quit.”

The team hit the road to play the first two games of the Division Series in California. Personally, I thought if we could just win one game, it would keep us in contention.  In my wildest dreams, I didn’t imagine the team returning to Kansas City with a two-game lead and itching to sweep. I gathered my gear for that first home game.

Gear

My sons and I tailgated with a few friends.  The parking lots were crowded, people were friendly, and we all were there to witness a common goal unfold.

Working More

It was a spectacular Sunday afternoon, a blue October sky.  The aroma of every kind of barbecue item you can imagine was in the air.  Hatchbacks were wide open, music strummed along, fans shared food and drink, and we watched the Chiefs on television from the tailgate next door. Time quickly passed. My son brought a broom, along with many other hungry fans.

Division Championship Game

We scattered to our seats  armed with rally rags and allowed plenty of time to get situated for the opening ceremonial rituals associated with an important game such as this.

Stars & Stripes

I agree with a friend who said, this sight gives me chills each and every time.

FlyoverOverhead

The visiting Angels silenced the home crowd with a first-inning home run, but the home team Royals took control and did not relinquish the lead once attained. Again, the boys in blue would not quit. Hit after hit, play after play, they did not disappoint their fans. The visiting team went home, and the Royals and their fans “PARTIED LIKE IT WAS 1985!” They (we) were division champions, and I got to witness it. “Let’s Go Royals” echoed through the spiral ramp down just like in 1985.  Fans hugged strangers. It was a night to remember, and it would not be the last.

As we moved to the American League Championship Series, tickets were hard to find. But my excitement did not diminish as I watched from afar – rally rag, rally beads, and hope prevailed. The first two games were in Baltimore, and I left for a sisters’ weekend getaway and watch party. All of us were ready to cheer on our Royals!

Sisters watch partysisters watch

The truth is, we might have been a little rowdy; but we weren’t alone. Strangers from two wedding parties left their groups to join us in the library bar when we were asked to leave the more-formal dining room. (Hey, we tried to go there to begin with, but the doors were closed. We were simply looking for a TV and a little food. Management decided to open it.)  🙂

Elms

Love that shirt, “Party Like It’s 1985.” Why doesn’t someone write the song? Why don’t I write the song? Well, someone else did, and I couldn’t have said it better.

Who would’ve dreamed this as the season began early last spring? Many extra innings and sleep deprived, we won the wild card game, swept the division series, swept the league series – it really did happen. I watched the final game in my living room. Pinch me!

Now, we wait a little longer. I’m catching up on laundry because my closet is depleted of anything blue. World Series tickets are impossible to obtain, especially at face value. At this point, it’s a rich man’s game. It’s not so bad. I can experience the thrill from afar. This is so good for our city, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.

I can remember 1985 as memories are made in 2014. For almost thirty years, I tried to convey the excitement, the camaraderie, the full stadium – the good old days – to my sons. Now they know; they have experienced it. It’s happening in their lifetime. Boys, it really is real.

One final note, lest someone be swift to judge and think that I’m concerned and way too excited over such a temporal thing: just know that I rejoice every day that my name’s written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I am thankful for life, breath, health, and a job. I pray that the entire world can live in peace.

But for right now, please, just let me enjoy this ride a little longer.

The ride

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Wishes

There was a small window above the bed.  Two panes latched in the middle and opened out into the room.  I stood on the bed to open the window and allow the gentle breeze to cool the room.  I gazed out at the stars and wished for little-girl things, magical things – to be a princess, marry prince charming, live in a castle, wear long flowy dresses, and dance.  I don’t recall annoying bugs coming through the window, although there was no screen.  By dawn, I pulled the blanket draped at the foot of the bed all the way up to my chin.  The thermometer might have soared during daylight from the bright southern California sun, but we never went out in the evening without a sweater.

On clear days, I could see the snowcapped mountaintops through the larger dining room windows.  I wished for the snow to come down from the mountain, but it never did.  On Sunday evenings, I watched my favorite show, The Wonderful World of Color and drifted into that wonderful, magical world.   Tinkerbell sprinkled her fairy dust to set the tone for the evening show.  At the end, I thought how marvelous it would be to go to Disneyland.  After all, we weren’t that far away.  But POP (Pacific Ocean Park) was much closer, less expensive, and fit our conservative budget.

We moved away when I was nine years old without ever going to Disneyland, and Mr. Disney died just one year later.  But his spirit lived on.

This past week, I watched Saving Mr. Banks and remembered the magical wishes and feelings of long ago.  I appreciated learning the real story behind Mary Poppins and making the movie.  I wished I sounded beautiful when I sang along.  Movies like this and Secretariat warm my heart – true-life stories – wholesome, goodness, and hope.  And in case you’re wondering, yes, I loved Pollyanna too.

All of those created characters and animated movies, too many to mention, have etched our hearts and our children’s.  During my childbearing years, I decorated the nursery with a Disney theme – Mickey and Minnie, Goofey, Donald Duck – bright, bold colors and wished and prayed for my babies and the lives ahead of them.

In more recent years, I have accumulated a rather large collection of Jim Brickman CDs to choose from.  But if I need a little spring in my step, a little cheering up, I put in his Disney tribute, The Disney Songbook.  Before I know it, I’m **trying** to sing and dancing right along with those penguins and Dick Van Dyke.

I’m not sure if being intrigued with magical fairy tales ignited my faith and belief in real-life miracles or vice versa.  It doesn’t matter, the feelings are similar and I choose to believe and hope.  Sometimes life deals out sorrow and misfortune in bucket fulls.  I, for one, wish that the spirit of Mr. Disney lives on forever, that someone picks up the torch and continues to run with hope, laughter, singing, dancing, dreaming, and magical times so that we can ride along for a while too.

Who knows, maybe someday I will actually get to Disneyland back in sunny California.  When you wish upon a star …

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To Be A Mother

I went lurking around on Facebook one night when I couldn’t sleep and saw a comment by someone … could it be; is it sheShe was thin as a young woman and this woman is thin, longer hair and a bit graying.  Maybe it is.  I traveled back in time 22 years or so.  My, how she rocked that grand piano in our church, what a gift!  And she came to us when we were so needy when our former pianist moved away.  She was a school teacher, married, and longed for a child of her own but had difficulty conceiving.  Well, it just so happened that our church had prayed in a few miracle babies, so I’m thinking she came to the right place.

Several months passed, maybe a year or two … time does get away.  It was our monthly women’s ministry meeting.  At the end, our leader offered  a time for individual specific prayer and asked that she play the piano.  Compassion and empathy filled my heart as I watched her play.  My family was complete – three little boys.  She had none.  No one at that particular moment was praying for her.  It seemed a bit awkward, but I couldn’t ignore the internal nudge, the compulsion.  I moved toward the piano and knelt down beside her.  I didn’t know if she could hear me (remember, she really rocked the piano).  After a couple of minutes, the keys stopped abruptly, she grabbed my hand.  Many tears fell.  I left that evening with an overwhelming peace and relief.  I know that many others prayed as well over these months.  Nine months later, she delivered a healthy baby boy.  Shortly thereafter, she moved away with her husband and newborn baby.

I surmised if this is she, this young man I see in the picture with her on Facebook must be that miracle baby, but wait; there’s a young lady in the picture too.  Did she have another?  Was she blessed a second time?  I had to take a chance and asked, “Are you the one?”

And so, as I drifted back to sleep, I pondered motherhood.

They come into our lives, so innocent, so adored.  We are so blessed.  We do not know what the future holds; but we hope, pray, and believe for a wonderful, full life.  We’re riding high and really feeling that Proverbs 31 woman who can “laugh at the days to come.”

And the days come.

We want everything perfect.  We handle everything with kid gloves.  Even family members must sterilize to hold this precious one. Wash, wash, wash.  We stay up on the latest and greatest trend for caring for our gift from God.  They are dependent on us for every single thing.  Nothing can go wrong here.  Surely if we do our best, it will all work out in the end.  Soon we learn that we are not perfect, no matter how hard we try.  Accidents happen, life happens.

  • I rested for just a moment leaning against the sofa and forgot that I hadn’t put up the gate. It had been a busy laundry afternoon up and down the stairs.   I heard the walker wheels hit the tile and arrived at the bottom of the stairs at the same time as the walker, precious cargo still in the seat.
  • I thought I was doing the correct thing taking my children to church.  I had my five-month old baby bundled in my arms.  The three of us scooted to the car after service against a bitter January wind.  In a matter of seconds, not understanding exactly what happened, there we were sprawled on the parking lot.

Most of the time, everything is okay.  All is well in the end regardless of our mistakes.  But sometimes we are imparted grace to deal with the consequences of our mistakes and our poor choices.  We are placed on earth to live out our lives.  We have choices to make each day.  We learn as we go, even from our mistakes, and pray for wisdom to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

There are so many decisions to make with our new responsibility.  Do we make adjustments in our finances and way of life and stay at home full time, or do we return to the workforce?  Surely if I devote myself to full-time, around-the-clock motherhood, that will be the best thing.  But is it, was it?  In later years, we wonder, shoulda coulda woulda …. we don’t really know.  We’ve prayed, asked for guidance.  But then we still have to make decisions.  We do the best we can.  And grace is there to help us through.

As our precious little ones grow, we guard their hearts as much as we guarded their physical well being the first few delicate years.  We protect them from influences that we see as evil.  Sometimes, against our better judgment, we have to let go.  Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong.  There are more choices to make, and we move on.

  • Spank or timeout?
  • Pre-school?  Private, public, or home school?
  • Competitive sports, recreational, or no sports at all?  Do we spend money on dance lessons?
  • When do we allow them to sleep over with a friend – maybe never?

We say “yes,” and we learn to say “no.”  And we wonder if we are right.  When someone hurts them, it’s like they’ve penetrated a knife straight into our heart.  We cannot separate ourselves from that child.  We are one, or so it seems.

And we pray more as they become teenagers.  We draw lines and boundaries, but we learn to let go even more – to let them make choices.  We have to.  That is the natural order of things.  We pray for wisdom to know.  Who can know the answers?  So we pray and receive grace.  And we live with choices.  We rejoice in their accomplishments and are there when they fall.

  • What college do we suggest?  Maybe it’s not the right time.  Maybe it never will be.
  • What we want may not be what they want. How do we influence?  When do we influence?

And one day, that precious baby is grown.  Sometimes we receive a call, sometimes not.  Will they be home for Christmas?  Will we be home for Christmas?  No longer can we fix things.  Maybe we never could.  We still pray, but they may not be aware.  We pray that they are making good choices, but it is out of our control.  We love them and we pray some more.  We hope that they think we were a good mother.  We wonder ourselves.

We compare with others whose lives seem to be perfect and wonder where we went wrong, and we see others with even greater difficulties and count our blessings.

We reflect on all the years.  There was laughter, there were tears.   Most of us made it, a few did not.  Who has the right to judge the whys and the hows?  Are any of us almighty, all-knowing God?  I think not.  We did our best and even when we didn’t or couldn’t, we really were not the one in control.  We pointed as best we could, but in the end, they have choices also.  And their lives are separate from ours.  They are individuals.

We still love; we still pray.  But the choices are theirs.  They must own them.  (“… The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son …” Ezekiel 18:20).

Somehow we find peace with it all – the triumphs and the mistakes.  We leave the mistakes with the one who can cover them, the one who can soften.  Because He is the perfect one, the father of us all.  It’s hard to imagine that He loves them more than we love them.  They must come to know this too.

There are those who never had these joys and sorrows.  They never had the choices, it was not their choice to be childless, and they do not know why.  Some mothers have had to face the unthinkable – the loss of that precious one, the empty arms of the young mother and the empty nest of one lost later.  Loss is loss, no matter the age.  These are questions without answers.   I don’t understand but am amazed that somehow His grace truly is sufficient for everything.  Somehow, some way they go on.  My heart goes out to the ones who have had to learn this extended grace of God.

Our parental course may not have been perfect, but it’s never too late to love, forgive ourselves for those imperfections, and find peace with our journey.  And, yes, laugh at the days that have passed.

I awakened a few hours later and checked my messages. Indeed, it was she.  And she confirmed that second miracle baby.  She told me another story.  I smiled at the goodness of God, that He granted the desire of her heart – twice.  It was so nice to reconnect and remember.

I am sure that she dwelt on Psalm 37:4 much as she waited for an answer:  “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

But on that one particular evening when I was compelled to pray, her story reminds me of Hannah.  I reminded God of his word above and that she did that with her gifted ministry to us.  I believe we wailed.

 

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord … and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”  I Samuel 1:10-20.  (NIV)

 

And life continued on …

~ “She” with her miracles a few years ago ~

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Press On

Should I go or not go?  It was almost noon by the time I finally decided to make the two-and-a-half-hour drive.  I packed an overnight bag (just in case), loaded it in the backseat, and pulled out onto the interstate.  Why not?  I had an extra day off over the Labor Day weekend.

It was stormy outside.  The winds of change were, and are, blowing … life, hard decisions to make, choices.  How can I be sure?  I need peace.

I drove away from the storm.  The sun was shining when I arrived.  It wasn’t necessary to ring the door bell, but I did.  She answered the door smiling and gave me a hug.  Three plates were set at the table – an extra one for me.  Chicken and green beans were neatly placed on the plate with plenty of other sides all around.  We bowed our heads as the other one blessed the food.  We ate.  I talked.  They listened then spoke, each offering advice, comments.  Dessert was homemade cookies, and we talked more.

We moved into the living room and listened to music, beautiful worship music, – the entire CD – then talked more, such sweet communion.  Then one placed a prayer cloth on my head, anointed me with oil, and they both prayed.  I felt peace and decided to head home.  I reached to open the car door and noticed my blue suitcase tucked tightly between the front and back seats – no need for it after all.

I placed a CD in the player, pushed the “repeat” button, and listened to a song that I meditated on frequently after 9/11 – those uncertain days, months, and years after our nation had been shaken to its core.  Hard to believe it’s been twelve years now.  This music and these words melted into my soul the entire drive home.

We, as a country, found a way to press on in 2001; and so can I today.  I will never forget and, at the same time, am encouraged as I listen to the words in this song.

Press On.

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Celebrating Life – A Giveaway!

I scrolled down through my blog roll earlier this week and realized my last few blogs have dealt with facing the end of life.  But today, I want to share with you a message of hope and the celebration of life.  I do not understand why sometimes we are granted a miracle and other times we are not.  Sometimes we are forced to face negative things – even sudden, unexpected death – ready or not.  But I don’t ever want to overshadow the positive things in life with negative.

Today and everyday I remember and am thankful for a miracle that dropped into my life five years ago – a miracle that has unfolded each day, one day at a time.  This story is sprinkled throughout the vignettes in Reflections.  So if you’re curious about more details of this miracle, I invite you to click on the link to preview Reflections on the right sidebar of this page.

For no rhyme or reason, my then college-aged son came home on summer break with a malignant tumor.  Local doctors, oncologists, and surgeons could not agree on post-surgical treatment for this rare and unusual cancer.  It was, however, contained and had not spread.  I am convinced the hand of God guided the surgeon’s hand in removing the tumor completely.  Our family and everyone who knew or heard of him prayed – all in the name of Jesus – as we consulted with an out-of-state specialist.

We walked through this valley one day at a time and have walked that way with a peace that no one can understand for five years now.  Just as it appeared for no rhyme or reason, it has not reappeared for any rhyme or reason.  And that is my miracle for which I am thankful every single day.

Then, this past year, my brother-in-law faced a rare cancer.  He endured months of treatment and is still with us today.  We have learned to place one foot in front of the other, all of us, and have lived our lives one day at a time as each day has turned into a week, a month, six months, a year, and five years.  These illnesses did not lead to death and we instead celebrate life, breath, and health and give thanks for every single day.

~ a family celebrating life ~

In celebration of life, I want to share my reflections of family, friends, and faith with you.  I have set aside twenty copies of Reflections as gifts.  All you need do is leave a comment below on this post between now and Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013, to receive your copy, one per person.

Maybe you have a miracle to share or maybe you are hurting and need a miracle, or maybe you just need to read about ordinary people walking through life.  Or maybe you just want to say, please send me a copy.  It’s yours for the asking.  I look forward to hearing from you and will respond privately via email to make sure you receive your autographed copy of Reflections.  Already have a copy?  I happen to think it makes a pretty good gift! 🙂

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TRUST = Faith + Hope

“Faith and Hope” – two words I write a great deal about.  I have come to realize that these two things hinge on another thing:  TRUST.  I cling to faith and hope and am able to because I trust.  Whom do I trust?  Obviously, I trust in my creator, the almighty God.  Don’t misunderstand.  I have moments where I slip up.  Doubt creeps in and that unflattering characteristic of complaining.  I’m thankful for those times when I am jerked back into right thinking, which I experienced this week.

I found myself irritated with a situation.  I was displeased with something I saw as injustice.  But when I read my daily devotional, I was reminded to take nothing for granted.  If I focus too much on something that displeases me, I start taking for granted the very basic good gifts that I see each day – sunshine, flowers, and life.

You see, life is not perfect.  We all know that.  And no matter how hard we work at making our world perfect, it doesn’t matter whether we’re over prayed or under prayed, life is going to happen and life is fragile.  What happens when one of these very basic gifts is snatched away by life’s events?  Then we have to trust that God will heal and provide for us and others in those desperate times of need – during those life events that we do not understand.  Faith and hope well up from within because we learn to trust God in every situation.

I was irritated and focused on something that displeased me until I read two things that brought correction to my thinking:  the daily devotion and an incredible tribute to a young lad whose life was cut short through no fault of his own or anyone in his family.  In my previous blog, “Resurrection Hope,” I mention an encounter I had with a family who had suffered a tremendous tragedy.  I came across this memorial tribute to a beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, and friend.  This family is experiencing trust like never before.  They are trusting God for hope, healing, and faith as they continue their earthly journey.  And as I read, I was once again humbled and prayed that I would not take life, sunshine, and the flowers for granted.

My name is Luke and I am your son, grandson, brother, nephew, friend, classmate and teammate. My life spanned almost 11 years and I couldn’t have been happier than to spend all that time with you. I loved everything about life. If there was a sport, I played it. If there was a game, I played it. I studied when I had to and I loved my teachers even if they had to occasionally get after me. I loved playing with my brothers — Joe, Sam and Tyler — and my sister Anna. I loved being with Mom and Dad and asking them a million questions. I always told my parents I loved them and hugged them every night. I couldn’t wait for recess to play with my friends and especially my cousin Eli. I loved to tell jokes and pull pranks with my friends and on my friends (anyone need 65 hamburgers from Sonic?). I always smiled because I knew it would make others happy. I was told I have cute dimples and I wouldn’t argue with that. I was looking forward to playing baseball this spring on the same team as my brother Sam, and my dad was going to be the coach. I wanted to go to Royals games and to summer camp with Scout Troop 601. My dad is an Eagle Scout and I wanted to be just like him. There was never any chocolate that I didn’t like. I’m sure you will find that hidden bag of candy in my room soon. Just know that it wasn’t my fault! Every time I went to Grammy’s house I’d ask her if she had any Grammy Bars (they are the best!) and if she said no then I’d smile real big, act disappointed, point both thumbs down and say ‘Dang It.’ I wish I had more time to spend with all of you but Jesus must have needed me more. I haven’t asked him why He needed me so soon but I will. I hope you can feel the hugs I’m giving you now and I hope you always will. I will watch over all of you until the day we meet again. I’ll miss Mom and Dad, my sister and brothers, my Grandpa and Grandma, Papa and Grammy. And I’ll sure miss all my cousins — Emily, Allison, Jake, Will, Andy, Eli, Nathan, Zac, Kylie, Tate, Addy, Timothy, Samantha and Alex. And Uncle Chris and Aunt Stef, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Beth, Uncle Alex, Uncle Walt and Aunt Anice, Uncle Tim and Aunt Tara, Uncle Patrick and Aunt Pam, and Aunt Emily Ann — I’ll miss them too. I’m now happy in heaven with Uncle Bubby who has already been here almost two years. He’s showing me all the neat places to hang out. There are many mansions here, just like it says in the Bible, and they are really cool. Most of all I want you to know how much I love and miss you. I’ll see you here some day but in the meantime I’ll be watching over you. Please don’t forget me and my smile.

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Resurrection Hope

Winter arrived late this year and has been unyielding to spring.  On Wednesday this past week, I – this one who loves the white fluff – wrote to a friend: “Easter in four days, and we still have several inches of snow on the ground. Wonder what those kiddos will do for an Easter egg hunt?”

Well, my kiddos are long grown.  I’ve had my share of memorable Easters going to Grandma’s, attending church with family, coloring eggs and then hiding them umpteen times, and dawning those new white shoes.  Even if the weather turned out cool and rainy, Easter seemed to solidify that spring really had arrived.  So seeing snow still on the ground two days before Good Friday concerned me – concern for the ones who would have to hide those eggs.  And I have to admit that I was ready for my beloved snow to  leave.  A blade of green grass might just be enough to spring life into my spirit with hope for renewal.

I wanted to post another blog, but something kept drawing me back to the last one I wrote, “I Can Face Tomorrow.”  I re-read it and listened to the song repeatedly which resonated in my spirit – life really is worth living and I can make it.  And then, my week was interrupted.

I found myself in the middle of helping a family return home after a tragic accident (no fault of their own) that left one of five children dead and two others injured along with the mother, who was recovering from critical injuries.  The small part I played in helping them get home left me humbled, full of sympathy, and melted any hardness in my heart that might have formed over my previous difficult years.  I was reminded of those busy days of caring for my three sons, the road trips and trying to make sure everything went smoothly, that they had a good time and were safe.  I was reminded how fragile life really is and that sometimes we have to face blows where life is not kind or fair and we simply do not understand.  But we have to go on – we have to face tomorrow – and we can.

I felt a little lonely this Easter morning.  I missed my sons.  They have their own lives.  My heart still ached for this new family that crossed my path.  I walked out onto the porch and looked over the pond that three days ago was still covered in snow and there was the most spectacular sun.  I hadn’t taken time to notice the snow had finally melted.  Easter egg hunts would go on, and life would go on.

The sun was so, so bright and glistened on the water.  I was reminded that we do have hope for better days.  The sun will rise and shine upon us again.  God will give us grace to continue our journey even in those difficult times that we cannot understand and are unable to comprehend.  And just as the song reminds us, someday we will see those lights of glory – some of us through death and others on that appointed day.  Maybe it will be a day just like today.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)

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I Can Face Tomorrow

It was Easter Sunday 1984.  I stood beside Mother as the pastor prepared to dismiss the congregation but first asked us to sing a song.  Mother grabbed my hand as we began to sing, and our hands swept against the full skirt of my dress.  I remember the dress.

I had made it several weeks before – a spring project to occupy my mind and my time.  The base of the fabric was yellow with a soft plaid of other pastels woven into the fabric.  The fitted bodice had an inset yoke of a crisp white oxford material – a nice contrast to the delicate print.  This same crisp white cuffed the short sleeves.  The gathered full skirt fell from the white belted waist – a very slight waist – as I was at one of my lowest weights ever – 105 pounds.  The low weight reflected my emotional health as well – depressed and anxious.  Would I ever feel good again?  How did I get to this point, and what could I possibly do to pull myself out?  I was 28 years old, had an established career with a good salary, had been married for eight years, and hoped to start a family.  But there I stood not knowing if I could make it through the day, let alone the next week, month, or year.

Why do I remember what I was wearing that day and so many details?  Because it was a defining moment, a crossroad – a moment to which I would cling and consistently remember over the years.  It was difficult, but I joined in the singing … I can face tomorrow … all fear is gone.  The words stuck with me as I stepped out of church that day.  One step at a time turned into one day at a time, month at a time, year at a time.

Life, indeed, continued on and so did I with a little help from others – a praying mother, a non-judging pastor, and a few friends who pointed me in the direction I already knew – one of faith and hope.  A busy life of raising three sons followed the next twenty-five years.  Busy is good, life went by fast, and I have many wonderful memories.

Has life been perfect?  Absolutely not!  Little did I know on that Easter Sunday twenty-nine years ago that I would face the challenges of raising teenagers, that two well-established corporations would leave me after devoting a decade of my life to each, that I would experience divorce after thirty years of marriage, that I would walk through a cancer shock with my athletic nineteen-year-old son, and that I would battle financial disaster in the twilight of my career – just to mention the highlights of my low-lights.

Somehow I kept walking twenty-nine years ago and am still walking today.  I look back to that defining day not knowing what I would face but somehow believing I could.  And what is the key?  The key is in the song that I sang … because He lives.

My story probably falls somewhere middle of the road when comparing lives – fortunes and misfortunes.  You, too, have a story.  No matter where you fall along this road of life, if you’ve hit a bump, I can offer you the same hope I found all those years ago and again today because I know …  life is worth the living one day at a time.  Just keep walking.  Here’s that song.

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Let It Snow

Why do I love this white stuff that others detest, even abhor?  I don’t know.  Let us reason together.

The first decade in my life was lived out in my birthplace town in southern California.  On clear days, I remember peering out the window in our dining room and seeing white-capped mountaintops.  They seemed close yet were so very far away, especially the white stuff on the top Mother said was snow.  I believed her, although the only snow I had ever seen fall was on Christmas television specials.  I remember longing for the white Christmases I would see with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and the like.  Snow in these programs added magic to the holidays and the Santa story.  But Santa always seemed to make it to our house without the snow and without the chimney.  Thank goodness!

I remember going to my older sister’s Christmas program at school and loving the part where she walked around with a boy in a winter village while singing “Winter Wonderland” and thinking how neat that was.

I remember one year, snow was predicted north of us.  Mother planned a day trip to take us and our friends to play in the snow.  But tonsillitis struck; and I wound up staying with my friend’s mother while she, my sisters, and their friends got to go play in the snow. 🙁

The next year, snow had fallen again north of us and Mother tried her best to get me there.  But by the time we arrived, it had melted. 🙁  Was I ever going to get to see and touch real snow?

I also thought it would be wonderful to wear a fur coat so frequently pretended that my house robe was a fur coat when I dressed up and played “house.”    I watched Mother pack to travel back to the Midwest one autumn for her brother’s funeral (way too young to die) and was fascinated with a cardigan with a fur-trimmed edging going in the suitcase.  It looked like mink, but I’m sure it was just a good imitation.  She told me it could already be cold in Missouri.  I wondered if there might even be snow and thought how lucky she was to get to make the trip, although it was a sad time.  The first thing I remember asking her when she returned was, “Did you wear the sweater?”  (Alas, it wasn’t cold enough – didn’t get to wear it.)

Then the year came that Daddy moved us to the Midwest – the summer of 1965 – and I couldn’t wait for the first snowfall.  As I was getting ready for bed on that first Christmas Eve, the weatherman said there could be a flurry or two but nothing to be concerned about; and, certainly, we didn’t need to expect a white Christmas.  So off to bed I went a little disappointed but at least the excitement of Christmas was still in my heart and I was hopeful that the next few months would produce a few snowflakes.  And, of course, Santa was still very real so there were presents to look forward to.

I woke up the next morning, early as usual, and first thought I had slept in.  The room seemed especially bright.  The house was quiet, and I was sure no one else was awake.  Had we all overslept, even Daddy?  I peeked through the curtains and couldn’t believe my eyes.  SNOW!!!  The entire ground was covered.  In fact, I couldn’t see anything but snow.  I couldn’t wait to wake up my sisters.  And so, my friends, I learned the weatherman does “miss it” sometimes – a white Christmas indeed.  I believe about ten inches were officially recorded and, thus, I finally got my day in the snow with a few more days added on for good measure.  Sisters and I built a snowman and had our first snowball fight.  And while I didn’t have a fur coat, I did have a coat with scarf, mittens, leotards, and boots.

After a few years, the novelty wore off and I realized that snow could also dampen our modern running-to-and-fro lifestyle, but I always appreciated the beauty, especially the beauty of undisturbed snow.

My first trip to the Rocky Mountains surprisingly came in the summertime as a baseball mom.  For two straight years, we traveled to Steamboat Springs for a baseball tournament.  One of my sons and I thought it would be really cool to return in the wintertime and learn how to ski.  We kept that secret to ourselves since the remainder of the family didn’t share that sentiment.

A few years later, I visited Lake Tahoe with my sisters and Mother in the fall.  Although there wasn’t enough snow to learn to ski during that week in November, the majestic mountains capped with snow surrounding the lake provided us with some of the most breathtaking views known to man.  And then one winter, I specifically took a winter vacation to Estes Park just to be around the snow.  By that time, I had given up on learning to ski.  It was sufficient to sit around the fire and admire the views.  I still loved snow.

But maybe there’s a deeper reason.  I love my recently-paid-off car.  It’s pearl white, the color I wanted when I purchased the car before it.  I watched someone drive that car off the lot as I returned to make my down payment.  I had to settle for a blue one instead.  So when I shopped for my current car and found it in pearl white, I didn’t hesitate.  My very first car was also white.  I once had someone point out that white is a sign of hope.  And I read that white depicts faith, purity, and perfection.  [Hmm … pondering]

Although I do have an appreciation for the ocean and a tropical vacation, if I could pick only one dream vacation, it would be to hunker down with the fire, cocoa, and my journal with a blanket of snow surrounding outside amidst the mountains.  Yes, I do love snow.  But since I live in Kansas City, I must settle for  four or five blankets a year and appreciate the beauty when it arrives – like the other morning.  While others were cursing the cold and commute to work, I smiled and watched the sun rise up over the winter wonderland on this second day of the brand new year.

I pulled out of the drive in my white hope, and since I hadn’t tired of Christmas music, listened to Kenny G serenade  … sleigh bells ring are you listenin’ … – you guessed it – “Winter Wonderland.”

And one other tidbit that comes to mind:  “Though [my] sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow …” Isaiah 1:18  (NIV)

Maybe that’s why I love snow.

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Hope Deferred

Here I go again – talking about HOPE.

It occurred to me this morning that I speak a great deal about this – HOPE.  If you stroll down my archived blog, you will notice just how much (Hope Again; Hope, Even When We Don’t Want It; even in some that do not have the actual word “hope” in the title).   Seems I blog about what I need most.  I must have HOPE to hang on in my desperate situation.  I know that I am not alone.  We each have our own desperate situations at times.  Mine happens to be a financial predicament, much of which was not my own doing – but that’s another story.  This predicament of mine has continued for a few years.

I find myself chipping away at an iceberg that seems insurmountable, but I am “chipping” away.  The problem is, if I lose focus and stand back to look at the very large picture, I am overwhelmed and hopelessness creeps in.  There seems to be no way out.  To keep my focus on the daily task of “chipping away,” I have to keep the possibility of a “miracle good happen” in place.  So silly or not, here’s what I do:

  • Buy one lottery ticket a drawing, whichever one is the highest (hey, you never know and it’s just a dollar or two) 🙂
  • Keep a vision for Reflections (hey, it could be the next Chicken Soup for the Soul or the next Songbird – the song that changed Kenny G’s life) 🙂
  • Imagine that I write the song of the year that Jim Brickman plays and Carrie Underwood sings (hey, it could happen) 🙂
  • Consider that someone like Donald Trump could read my blog or my book and want to do something to help (sort of like that long-lost, never-known billionaire relative dying) 🙂

So you notice the little happy faces after each item?  These are my miracle possibilities, and they help me stay focused on the practical thing of “staying the course” and slowly chipping away through daily commitment to my job, my source of income.  And someday, just like in that famous race, the unexpected tortoise may come out the winner.

You see how important HOPE is?  We cannot lose it.  And if we lose it, sometimes we need help to restore it.  I lost my hope this week, was overwhelmed, unable to focus, and actually became physically sick from hopelessness.  I am not ashamed to say I called my mother for prayer.  That very night, I felt the heaviness float away. (Thank you Mother and Lucy!)

My hope was restored; and, yes,  the morning brought about another work day – another day of chipping.  But wait a minute, I better check my ticket from last night’s drawing – you just never know! 🙂

WE MUST HAVE HOPE!  HOLD ON TIGHT TO YOURS!

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12  (NIV)

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