Monday, March 31, 2014

What I learned in March

I'm linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for her monthly link up where we share some things we learned during the month. Here, in no particular order are some things I learned in March, (the serious and the absurd). Come on over to Chatting at the Sky to see what others have learned!

1.  I learned to knit. I took a beginning knitting class at my local yarn shop. Oh, what fun that was, and why did I wait so long? Our teacher was Janet, about eighty. She was as spunky a lady as I've seen in awhile. Very patient with the four of us who were all thumbs. One of the most important things I learned in my two week class? "Honey, we don't call these 'sticks and strings'. They are called 'needles and yarn'." What a hoot!

2. Referring to #1, I made my first dish cloth and am on my second one now! I'm realizing what all the fuss is about. Groups of gals get together in this store and knit and solve all the world's problems. I think I'm going to join them soon. Maybe they can solve some of mine.

3. When my daughter was home from college on Spring Break, I think we thrifted every day except the last one. We did seven different thrift stores in seven days. I love to thrift and so does my daughter, but by the seventh one, we had both reached our limit of thrifting for the week! {but we both got some great deals}. I have never done that much concentrated thrifting in one week.

4.  I bought my own thinning shears. I am constantly fighting with my thick hair. I have dreamed for years of owning my own thinning shears. We have a Sally Beauty Supply in town and it was probably a couple of years ago that I priced them. At the time I thought $20.00 was too much. But, this month, I forked over the $20.00, and I have never been happier with my hair! Okay, so I chopped it a little close in one area, but no one will ever see it because I have so many hairs! Again, why did I wait so long?

5. I started Beginning Watercolor last week. It was the first time I'd ever stepped foot in our town's Art Center. Again, I wonder why it took me thirteen years to figure out that about two miles down the road I could take some art classes in my own hometown. I had so much fun in water color class. I can't wait for this week.

6. Always double check your spelling after using Swype on your electronic device. I Swyped a comment to one of the folks I follow on Instagram. Instead of saying "Nice shot" about the picture he took of downtown Des Moines, I accidentally said "nice __it". You get the picture. To make matters more embarrassing, I was on my phone and didn't know how to delete. And to make matters even worse, he is the worship leader at my church. I raced over to my computer to try and delete it before he saw it. I also apologized for my mistake. I guess he'd seen it because he commented back. "__it happens. No problem." {I am so thankful for grace, lol}

7. After twenty years as minivan drivers, we traded off our van for a Toyota Camry. It is "new" to us, and I love being able to drive a car again! *also, it has a sunroof and heated seats*! I'm feeling like I am in a little bit of car heaven. :)

How about you? What serious or absurd things did you learn this month?

Hope you are doing well! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thoughts on my brother and grief

Just last night my step-mother said through the phone, “I hope you never have to go through this.” She had just witnessed her second born pass into eternity after a long fight with cancer.

The priest came to his bedside to confirm my step-brother into the Catholic faith and it was indeed all about faith. The question was asked Greg,

“Do you believe that Jesus Christ died to forgive your sins?” Greg nodded. 

That is all he could do at this point. 

But, he nodded. 

What a wonderful thing that must have been for his mother, and his wife and his brother to see. 

I am so grateful to know that. 

It’s been a struggle this week for me here in Iowa, knowing that my brother was dying in Washington. My body has been acting up. 

In a way, I've needed to make peace with God, too. And, I've needed to make peace with me.

Oh what a twisted irony! Death pulls into focus what really matters. It makes all old outdated thoughts and emotions fade away into the distance, if we let it.

It makes us focus on what is real. 
What is right in front of us. 

The sorrow, the grief bring us together in our common humanity no matter how many miles and how much life has come between us. 

No matter how.

I had prayed and hoped that Greg would be healed in this life. 

But, God, as Sovereign as He is, has chosen to heal my brother's body and soul by taking Him straight through the pearly gates to Jesus’ face.

What a glorious sight he is having right now! The throne room! 

Too many people in my family have already gone to heaven, but really, should I mourn for them?

They are the ones that are experiencing the eternal life that this body longs for. That all earthly bodies long for. They are the ones seeing Jesus’ face and glorying in the communion of saints.

They are the ones with no pain and no tears and no sorrow.

They are really the blessed ones. The ones who have gone before us.

They have paved the way into eternity for us, the ones who are left behind to miss them.

We grieve, but we are not without hope. 

We grieve, 

but we know the Way. 

We also know the Way Maker 

and He has made the way for all of us to

 enter heaven with Him for all eternity.

(I Thessalonians 4:13, John 3:16)

Praise God for Jesus who took Greg’s (and our) place and paved the way to heaven for him!

Just yesterday morning I was remembering Greg as a six-year-old, hanging on to the saddle for dear life, as his Shetland pony, Christie, ran swiftly to the end of the field! 
And. He. Did. Not. Fall. Off!

Greg and Christie

And, then Greg's horse Apache. 
I can still hear Greg saying "Apache" in his little boy voice. 
Why do I remember such things as this? 

In the end, it is only the relationships that we have with people that really matter. 

This is the time for love. 

This is the time for grace.

This is the time for peace and remembering and good memories. 

This is the time for healing. 

God’s light is in each of us who will miss the son, the brother, the daddy. 

Who is to say that the Light does not shine brighter through sorrow and death.

I believe it can. I believe it does.

I do not grieve for my brother who has gone to heaven. 

But, I grieve for his mother, his sister, his wife, his children. 

May their sorrow not be without hope. 

May their sorrow not be without peace and joy.

May the memories we have of the son, the husband, the brother, and the daddy be so joyous and precious that it will take away a little bit of the pain of losing him. 

Teen age Greg and me being Wild and Crazy Guys!

May God’s grace be so thick upon all of us that we can feel the Presence. 

The Holy Presence of God Himself. 

Greg, thanks for the happy memories, dear brother.

You will be dearly missed.

I love you.


Linking up today with Coffee for Your Heart and Three Word Wednesday

Friday, March 21, 2014

how to unearth the {JOY}

Linking up today with the community of writers at Lisa Jo Baker's blog for Five Minute Friday. Today her writing prompt is joy. The idea is to write for just five minutes on the prompt of the day. No backtracking or worrying about perfection. Won't you come and join us?

Sometimes you wake up in the morning with a scowl on your face and you’d just as soon slip back under the covers and pull them over your head. 

Who wants to face a day without joy?

On those days where joy is hard to come by, what do you do? 

The joy seems to be the hidden treasure. It seems to be at the bottom of a stack of folded woolen blankets that have been stored for spring and summer.

One way, and really the best way I’ve discovered to unearth the joy is with pen and paper. Yes, that’s right. 

Two very simple tools. 

You don’t even need a shovel.

See, those negative emotions have been building up over time. 

Maybe over the week, or the month or the year. Or even your lifetime. The negative emotions have taken up residence and need to be sent on a permanent vacation.

1. Take your pen in your hand. 

Poised to write now, you have your journal or just a piece of paper in front of you.

2. Start writing. 

Write down the anger, the pressure, the responsibilities you have. No one needs to see this. This is for your eyes only.

There is something almost magical.

I can tell you from experience.

There is something magical about this process of letting the negative emotions come out of your heart and soul, down your arm and onto the paper.

It’s like draining the sink of dirty dishwater after your chores.

It clears your heart, your mind and your soul.

I strongly urge you to try this technique if joy has been hard to come by for you. 


Thanks for stopping by today, friend! Here's to finding the joy!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

When ordinary is extraordinary

A few weeks ago, during a snow storm (hopefully we are through with those this year!) I was inspired to write this poem. I was thinking about the fact that each ordinary day is really extraordinary, and I want to be mindful of that. I'm linking up today with The Weekend Brew.

Is any day ordinary? Really?
I layed down and slept
I awoke to a new day.

My body is breathing and working and beating
without me having to remind it.

This is a gift.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made
and the snowy landscape today reminds me of
the fact that I am not alone.

It is God who creates snowflakes, each one different.

February Iowa snowstorm

And, it is God who created me.
And you.
Each unique as the snowflakes, yet infinitely more valuable.
We each have different dreams
bursting at the seams.

We're each different, but the same.

We laugh.
We cry.
We love.
We dream.

Our hearts long for beauty

We're really more alike than different
you and I.

Tonight we'll both lie down to sleep.
We will dream
and awake to the gift of
another ordinary day.

Have a great weekend, friend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

looking back to see

Today I am linking up once again with the community of writers at Lisa Jo Baker's blog for Five Minute Friday. Free writing with no back tracking. Writing just for the fun of it. Today, her prompt is crowd.

Lately, pieces of my history have been chasing me. 

Like ducks that crowd around the one feeding them bread, my memories of childhood seem to be vying for attention. 

My story seems to be begging to be told.

I have several bags of pictures of my childhood and the people and places represented there. 

But, where to start? 

Do I tell about the places of my childhood?

The pump house where my dad went to check daily for working operations?

The chicken house where I found the litter of kitties?

The one eye’d cat that scared me almost to death walking across the yard when I was three?

My old barn, where the light streamed in through the cracks in the roof and I could see the particles of dust in suspension?

me, already looking back

My aunts and uncles who came to visit from Gothenberg, Nebraska and the one Great Uncle who got on my swing-for-two and took the time to visit with me and hear me jabber?

Which of these memories competing for attention do I go with? Where do I start?

My husband used to tell me, "if you don't take a picture, 
that means it didn't happen."
The older I get, the more I feel that if it doesn’t get written 
down, it might mean I might forget that it happened.

I am so thankful for these piles of memories that I have in zip-lock bags. They are pieces of my life. Pieces of my history that I never want to forget.

I started the blog Live the Silver Lining in attempts to get some of these memories down.

I don’t ever want to forget.

I want to remember where I came from. It helps me to understand where I’m going.


How about you? Do you have a story that is just begging to be told? Where do you think you would start if you told it?

Blessings to you friend,

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

on risk and vulnerability

I'm linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart and with Beth at Three Word Wednesday.

Not worrying too much about the order of things, but putting in main characters who have influenced me and main events that have affected me, I wrote my spiritual narrative two weeks ago. 

When I sat down to write, I was surprised how easily things came to me. I started out with the overused line, "I was born...". Seemed like a logical place to start, and I wasn't worrying too much, remember? 

My tendency and "tapes" tell me to worry too much. I tried to shut those off, so the writing could come out. I wrote. And, before I knew it I'd filled up nine single spaced typed pages with size 12 Arial font. I didn't know it would get this long, but I have five decades to cover. 

This assignment was given in a class on spiritual mentoring. The idea is that it is important to know ourselves before we can begin to walk alongside another. 

*I also had a partner listen to me read my story and give feedback. 

Where does she see God at work in my story? What events point to His work, His intervention?

I had never done anything like this. 

The night came to read my story. 

I had gone back and changed words and sentences here and there.

Writing it brought up old emotions that I'd thought I'd dealt with. My body was affected during the writing, and I needed an extra trip to the chiropractor.

I knew this was important work.

My listening partner listened attentively. She prayed for me before I started. And, after I finished reading, she looked down at her notes and shared where she could definitely see God's presence in my story. 

To get this type of feedback is a true blessing.

The next week, it was her turn to share. I felt privileged to hear.

Her narrative was very different. (shouldn't it be?) She went with more sweeping themes in her story, instead of specific events and people. Hers was about seven pages shorter.

The key here is that hers was different than mine. Not better. Not worse. Different.

How my old tapes play tells a lot about me. Driving home from group that night, I heard old familiar put downs. 

"You told too much in your story."
"Yours was too long."
"She didn't like your story."
"You aren't good enough."

My struggles usually center around using my voice. Feeling like I share too much is a shame trigger for me. Feeling like what I say is dumb after the words are out can lead to a true vulnerability hangover. Intense.

What do I do with these low hanging feelings? My path of least resistance is to find someone to blame. That person usually happens to be me. 

Yesterday, after letting these low hanging emotions stick around for two weeks I finally emailed and thanked her for listening with care to my reading two weeks ago.

She wrote back. She said she loved hearing my story. 

She said, "sharing your story totally brings a deeper understanding.  I think that is one of the beautiful that you can be honest with fellow Christians and add depth to life!"

Her email words became a gift to my soul. A confirmation that I and my story are not too much. That I am not somehow flawed in writing a nine page narrative.

I felt the lies that I'd been hearing for two weeks melt away.

I was reassured in my belief that vulnerability is risky, but it is beautiful.

*as a side note. It is very important to share your story with someone who has earned the right to hear it. Someone you feel safe with. I felt safe sharing my story with this person in this setting.

How about you? Do you have a story about how being vulnerable felt very risky, but you took the risk? Do you ever have a vulnerability hangover after sharing something personal?

Blessings to you today, friend!

Friday, March 7, 2014

What the ashes mean

Today I'm linking up with the fabulous community of writers at Lisa Jo Baker's blog for Five Minute Friday. This is just for fun. No backtracking and rewriting. This is writing for five minutes straight for the fun of it. Come on over and read what others are writing on the word willing. Or better yet, set your stop watch and join us today? All are welcome!


For the first time in my life, I had a cross made out of ashes drawn on my forehead on Wednesday.

I didn’t grow up around conversations of Ash Wednesday or of Lent or of what are you going to give up for 40 days till the resurrection Sunday?

photo credit--Google

The pastor started out by answering this question: 

What are the ashes all about anyway?

I was glad for this, well, because I really didn’t know. I had an inkling, but that is all. He said that in the Bible, ashes are a symbol of grief, repentance and of prayer.

Oh, now that began to make sense. I can relate to all of those. They embody me. They resonated.

The ash cross drawn on my forehead. 

At first I didn’t want that. I leaned to my husband and said, do I have to? But, by the end, I truly wanted that picture on my forehead.

I was all in.

See, by the way he explained it, the ash cross is just a reminder of my humanity. 

My frailness and my need for a Savior. 

It doesn’t mean I am dirty. 
That I am unworthy. 
Or unimportant. 

Rather, a true reminder of who I am and who I am not. 

A reminder of who Christ is and where I am in relationship to him. 

I am his daughter.


Yes, I am willing to remember this. 

I am willing to remember my humanity in light of Christ’s divinity. 

In light of the suffering he paid for me. 

In light of his Light and Salvation.

Yes, I am willing to remember that there is nothing that I can do to grow myself.

That my mess doesn’t get the last word. 

But that God is my History Maker and Life Changer and he promises to make a message out of my mess.

How about you? Did you grow up with the tradition of Ash Wednesday? I'd love to hear what it means to you.

Thanks for stopping by today, friend!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On finishing well

I'm linking up with Holley Gerth today for Coffee for Your Heart, and also over at Beth's for Three Word Wednesday. Blessings on your Wednesday!

She's shown up for all seven small group times in a row. She doesn't live too far from the church, but the winter has not been friendly to drivers here in Iowa the past few weeks. This hasn't stopped her.

She steps into each group meeting with a charcoal gray Columbia coat, and fashionable black knee high boots.

And, she must be about eighty years young.

I wish I could have heard her whole story. You see, she always wore a smile and a certain dignity about her, even though there had been pain.

One of the pieces of her story contained a broken relationship.

She didn't leave it there. 

She pursed the brother who in his 70's hadn't spoken to her in decades. 

She offered him forgiveness and healing where there had been years of pain and alienation.

Where the bridge had been washed out but good, she built a new one.
She planted seeds of forgiveness and empathy in the garden of their relationship, and watered those with large buckets of understanding.

I could see the results of this forgiving and repairing and mending work in her eyes as she spoke.

I could see the peace that the courage to face her fears had brought her.

She wears the peace well.

I see no retirement here. 

I see no "sit-on-my-porch-and-rock-my-life-away" mentality.

She's vibrant, sparkling and very much alive. 

I want to be like her now.
I want to be like her then, in thirty years.

It's made me ask myself,
"How can I finish the race like she's finishing?"

Faith more than intact.
Forgiveness flourishing.
Peace like a river.
Joy bubbling over.
A burning desire to influence others and make a difference.

Thirty years from now, I want to be the sparkling woman who walks into the room bringing peace, joy and a wisdom beyond my years.

I want to be influencing.

I want to be living with passionate purpose.

I want to leave a legacy of beauty and hope for those who have crossed my path.

I'm sure when Nadine entered the room that first night of group, she had no idea that I would be sitting there. She didn't know that for seven straight weeks I would be watching her and hearing her and taking mental heart notes.

It was a very small thing, her deciding to attend the same group as I. But, her decision has made a lasting impression on me.

Thank you, Nadine.

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