This Road We Walk

At what point do you stop believing what you see

 and reach for the golden ring that passes by each waking turn?

At what point do you grasp at the straws that lie scattered at your feet

and build with them a mansion spun in gold?

At what point do you take the stars and toss them wild to the wind

to wish on them the million dreams that fall in a twinkling shower before your eyes?

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Is it possible that simply trying to see with new eyes

might be all it takes to

reach beyond hope

dance beyond dreams

and live beyond every obstacle that jumps out like a monster in a long and lonely night?

And so with heart in hand, and bravely or not,

you wrestle with demons, and find solace in sunsets, and count all the bleating sheep that wander past your sleepless nights

… And you walk on.

Over the ups and the downs. Through the ins and the outs. Past the rights, and forgiving the wrongs

…. you walk on.

With each weary step, every unsure nudge, and all the inevitable stumbles along the way

… you walk on.

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And you look for his footprints on the narrow, dusty trail.

And you listen for his small, still whisper in each rage storm.

And you reach for his hand that reaches to you

holding-hands

… and you walk this Calvary Road together

finding that, somewhere along the way

– in the pit of your deepest fear and in the corner of your furthest dream –

you begin to taste the sweetness of this gentle Truth:

You are right where you are supposed to be

– tethered to His love forever –

with new eyes to see.

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A big shout out to Mor, Jenson Lee, Tim Parkinson and Lee (Shoothead), all @ Flckr Creative Commons respectively.

Joining with Lyli, Jennifer, and Kate

On your mark, Get set…

TrafficSignal         In the beginning…

I learned pretty early in my time here on Earth, that I don’t like beginnings and endings. Beginnings brought the ever-looming reality of endings that inevitably caused pain. Whether those beginnings were for projects, or stories to be written, or new recipes, I decided I would avoid them as much as possible…

like I’m doing right now

Take Two

In the beginning…

I don’t like writing beginnings and endings. They can make or break a piece; the responsibility is too much. I remember in high school I’d procrastinate until the 11:59th minute. Not because I didn’t do the research, or put in the time, but because of those darn beginnings and conclusions.

And it wasn’t just in writing. It was everything. I didn’t know how to begin a friendship — so I wouldn’t. I didn’t know how I would possibly finish a project — so I never started. Or I started so many stinkin’, imperfect times that the motivation peetered out and I was left with an unfinished mess…The end.

 

Geesh!

Take Three

In the beginning…

Sigh.

Beginnings suck.

Take Eleventy-billion

So, here I am. On my mark. Getting set. Still wrestling with this ‘interesting’ character flaw and I read:

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Bah-dah Boom, bah-dah Bing!  Ouila! Done deal! (Insert a little happy dance.) No more worrying about beginnings or endings! No more false or floppy starts. No more faltering or fall-flat endings. What a relief! And now all I have to do is the ‘in-between’ stuff. NO sweat.

So yes,  there’s this beginning in January.  There are hopes and dreams and heart-felt commitments to make them come true. And yes, soon enough we’ll see the ending approaching and there will be December again. And we’ll look back and see all the ways that we succeeded and failed. We’ll see that we tried hard, and loved big, and if nothing else we tried hard. But in-between? Ah, in-between, is the good stuff. In between is Life: God-given, wonderful, glorious, messy Life.

Wahoo! Bring on the good stuff. On your mark, get set…  (I’m good to go. How ’bout you? )        

ButterflyGirl

photo by stevendepolo (creative commons @ flickr)

Everyday Promises

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Last year, something remarkable occurred:

I actually kept my New Year’s resolution.

Seriously.

… the whole year!

I don’t think I’ve ever achieved such a feat intentionally. Sure, I’ve renewed good intentions and yes, I’ve restarted some wavering beginnings… but an honest to goodness New Year’s commitment? Nope. This was a first.

It started simply as a New Year’s project with me and my fourth grade students discussing the tradition of making resolutions– nothing special really.  But every now and then these kinds of conversations can become magical moments.

…And Magic happened that day.

We talked of why promises are important, even those — and maybe especially those — to ourselves. We shared ideas of new beginnings and second chances, and discussed the value of making resolutions that were real and serious and worth keeping.

We touched on the usual New Year’s intentions of better health and mind and spirit. But most importantly, we talked of pledging ourselves to changes that would make a difference in the world around us, and in those people’s lives we touch everyday.

Bam! That’s when it hit me: I needed to hug Dad everyday.

It seemed, at first, like such a small, silly thing. Then, it stung with accusation: “Jane! People need hugs; they need touch everyday. You know that! You and Chris have each other… how could you have forgotten Dad for so long?” I was discouraged and dismayed all at once. Yet, from somewhere in the crossfire, I knew that this was a problem worth resolving. A promise worth keeping.

… At first hugging Dad was a little awkward. At first it felt contrived and stilted. And yes, at first, it did feel like a small and silly ritual designed to ease my guilty heart.

But this is what I can tell you now, one year later:

Everyday, as I reach to hug Dad and he reaches back from his sofa perch, I still see his eyes brighten and the twinkle return, and I see each yellow tooth flash in excited joy.

Everyday, I watch him sit taller and reach out further, and when he holds me I hear his gentle Eastern Colorado croon,”Ohhhh, I was just wonderin’ about you, Lady.” Pat, pat, pat. “Have a good day, didya?”

And everyday, with that simple squeeze, I always realize I am more blessed than he.

Yep.

Magic happens.

New. Every. Day.

But that’s the wonder of New, isn’t it? … whether or not that “Something New” begins as a promise on January 1st,  or on the next day, or on a lifetimes of Next Days after that.

Every new moment we’re given is opportunity for simple choices, secret challenges and sweet second chances to reflect, repent, revise, re-form, rebuild, restore, renew, revive, re-create and re-solve again. Everyday we can re-solve all the problems of our daily madness with simple resolutions of Love — resolutions that reach into lives beyond our own, and yet somehow rebound their miracles right back to us. Amazing.

So this year, I won’t be looking for any big, hyped-up, self-improving promises. Nope.

This year I’m going straight for those new and fresh ones … those “small and silly” ones. This year I’m going to practice starting fresh. I’m going to make daily promises that are real and serious and worth keeping.

This year I’m counting on seeing Magic happen everyday, in all the lives I touch along the way.

How ’bout you?

Here’s wishing you a new year, filled with new moments that are packed to the top with daily and exponentially amazing miracles.

Dad

The Perfect Gift

I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been dancing this particular step called Not Good Enough: Not tall enough, not cute enough, not social enough, not ‘Whatever’ enough. And I spent a lot of years blaming it on my dad and his perfectionist ways.

In my early adolescent memories, I have these laser-sharp images of my dad listening to me play the piano, and at the end of each song he’d say, “That was beautiful, honey, but you could have…” Then he would critique whatever it was that he thought could have been better.

I never heard the “That was beautiful, honey.”  I never heard the love in his voice, or see the pure enjoyment on his face when I played. I never heard the heart that was giving me the highest praise of trusting me with gentle suggestions.  I only heard, “It’s not good enough.” I only heard “You should have…” Consequently, I spent a lot of years trying to play that perfect song for him.

I never did.

After a while, I just stopped trying. Instead, I got A’s in school to try to tip the perfection scales in my favor. But by then, Dad was worried about his retirement, and not quite the gung-ho cheerleader for good grades that he had once been.

And to be honest? I was done. I thumbed my nose at all things Dad thought perfect: Catholicism, Education, Order. I didn’t even fight for “Better” anymore. Instead, I fought for “Why try?” and “Who the hell cares anyway?” I became the perfect rebel that didn’t care.

But the sad truth was I did care. I always cared. And the sad truth was it wasn’t Dad’s perfectionism anymore, it was my own. I just didn’t know it.

So outwardly I rebelled, but secretly I strove for Perfect in those deep-down dark places where no one would see the desperation of how much I cared. And when I couldn’t find perfection in me, I tried to find it in experiences. And when that failed, I looked to others. And when people failed, all I was left with was a bankrupt soul. Imperfect. Ugly. And flat on my face.

But it was there, he found me– my Prince Charming– my sweet, Nazarene rebel. He took my “Not Good Enough” monster and slayed him right in front of my eyes. It was there, he lifted my face, and showed me Love in those big, brown, beautiful, caring, Mideastern eyes . . . with not even the teensiest hint of critique.

It was there I finally found all the perfection I would ever need.

It’s been thirty years since then. Everything changed that day, and yet sometimes it feels like nothing changed. I’m still Jane. I still wrestle the monsters that shout, “Not good enough.” I shake my fist at this fallen, imperfect world, all the while reflecting its ugliness every time I judge, or point my finger, or shake my head and mutter in self-righteous indignity.

And sometimes I still try too hard to play that perfect song for my Dad again …

But then comes that gentle suggestion that whispers I might be judging my heavenly Dad the way I used to judge my earthly one. I am reminded that God isn’t waiting to hear a perfect song, or critique an imperfect life, and he isn’t worried about retirement — Instead, He’s waiting with love in His voice and enjoyment on His face.

He’s waiting to help me find my way to that simple Bethlehem stable, hoping I’ll unwrap again the Love that lay bundled in the manger.

And the very Truth is:

He waits for me, and He waits for you, every moment of every day.

Perfect Love. Perfect Peace. . . The Perfect Gift.

And for this recovering perfectionist, this is definitely news of great joy!

 

Merry Christmas everyone.

In Tragedy’s Wake

So lost at sea

we search for land

some direction to set our sights on

a sign that says we’ll be okay

–adrift, tossed, and turned around–

we no longer know

from where we’ve come,

or which way

to now go

And above,

so far above

the sun shines its direction

east, west, here, there

But we’ve come too far without compass

and we’ve lost our bearings along the way

Which way is nearest?

Which way is furthest?

Which way do we put our hope?

One mile is as one thousand

and this distant sun that holds our answer

now holds our fate

— brutal, harsh, and taunting–

So in desperate thirst

we shake our fists

and spew our anger

and lash out at each other

as our hearts scream

“What has happened to us?”

“Where do we go from here?”

But we’ve come too far without compass

and we’ve lost our bearings along the way

— and we’ve forgotten

there’s no one to blame

— and we’ve forgotten

to hold each others’ hand

And we’ve forgotten

that we’re all just looking for home.

…we’re all just looking for home

Oh sweet Jesus

please guide us home

Kaleidoscope

This week I wrote report cards for my fourth grade class. I wandered through the piles of scored papers — the mounds of mental notes — and I put a grade on a child’s blossoming life. Sigh. It’s not easy, grading. It can sometimes feel too clinical, impersonal, even harsh. And then come the comments — the real grade. The words that need to give life, hope and encouragement but often have to entwine some truthful ‘ow-ies.’ Sigh.

And this year the principal is reading every. single. report card. So, now, in essence,  I’m the one being graded. Sigh.

…I’ve been sighing a lot this week.

So, today I woke up exhausted, still tumbling in the kaleidoscope of last week, mixed together with all the pieces of my life that often collide — things unfinished, not started, some forgotten. Some needing loving attention. Some I thought I discarded, yet are still maddeningly there, tumbling with all the rest.

And then I thought about this blog.

Already there are beginnings of blogs I have stashed away that someday will be dragged out, worked on, published. Already I feel a sense of commitment in this area even though I intellectually know that its just a small thing in the big scheme of things. Already there are apologies I want to make, and computer things I want to tweak, and an internal ‘deadline’ I want to keep. (Can you sense another sigh coming?)

But today, I’ve just decided,  I’m laying the sighing aside. I’m going on a rare date with my hubby. I’m leaving our “Alzy Land” in the hands of a sweet friend who has a heart for Dad, and Chris and I are going to laugh, and eat, and buy a Christmas tree — and enjoy, this day — this precious gift of time — this moment.

Today, I’m going to leave my life ungraded. Or better yet, I’m going to leave the grading to a God who took the test for me and thankfully passed with flying (resurrection) colors. (I’m not going to even revise or edit this blog post.) Sigh.

Now THAT is a good sigh.

Instructions Not Included

 

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I don’t know what I expected when you first arrived. A catatonic version of your old self? A distant stranger?

Would that sweet twinkle now be missing from your eyes?

After one long month of uncertainties, you and Chris were finally coming home. Chris: wearied, burdened, but calmly resolute. You: lost, confused, with the dreaded “A” word newly branded across your brain. Everything within me screamed from the depth of my gut: “Warning! Danger! Alzheimer’s Patient: Proceed at your own risk.”

… all I knew was fear.

Chris’ voice had sounded tired. Stressed. “We’re just arrived. We’ll be at the curb.” I had driven one hundred miles to take you home. Your new home. Your into-forever home. A new beginning for us all.

Would you even know what was happening? Would you even know who I was?

I could see you in the distance, as I waited in traffic to pull up to the curb. You steadied yourself against the post, staring at the ground just beyond your feet. Chris hovered nearby, furrowed brow; I could see his already weighted shoulders.

Oh sweet Jesus, can we do this?

Slowly traffic inched ahead.

Can we be who he needs us to be?
Stop. Go. Clutch out, clutch in. Wait. Breathe.

Is there a way not to lose ourselves when witnessing so much loss?
Closer now, inch by inch. The traffic so mercifully slow.

How can we still live, Lord, while his mind slowly dies?
How can we still love, Lord, while we watch all loveliness Fly. Away. Gone.
Jesus?… Can we really do this?


And through my own gridlocked brain, I sensed his answer:
Inch by inch, Jane.
Stop. Go. Wait, Jane.
Breathe, Jane.

Such simple words, but I felt their gentle Truth.

Drawing a slow, deep breath, I pulled up to the curb, and caught Chris’ eye.

And Jane?
Yes, Lord?
It’s really not a whole lot different than taking your first child home.

A smile smacked across my face.  I wasn’t expecting that. I chuckled.

I remembered taking Trevor home. I remember Chris and I wondering why he hadn’t come with instructions. And I smiled remembering, now, that first wonderful, daunting, holding-our-breath night

… a first night like this one.
Okay, Jesus, thanks. I needed that … but the first poopy diaper, I’m outta here.

Smile.

We were going to be just fine.

 

(Postscript, eight years later…)

And we were.

And he was.

And even in the grips of a horrific disease there still rained down a sweet, sweet mercy:

He would never know his journey back to infancy.

Back to the One who loved him first.

 

You’re free now, Dad. Fly away home.

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Carroll Lloyd Williams ~  July 20, 1926  – June 28, 2016

 

The Dance

My father-in-law died from Alzheimers this week. He died peacefully in the hands of a facility full of life and hope and angels dressed in flesh. And though, unmistakably, Alzheimer’s is a hideous and heart-wrenching disease. To those of you living out this life with your loved ones, my heart goes out to you. Yet, I am thankful that this disease is mercifully forgetful, for the one living in its tangled grip. And for the ones watching it play out, dare I say, in struggling past the initial shock and grief, there can sometimes be found – even just briefly – beauty in the ashes. I pray you have moments of beauty, albeit different and stark and always sad, but beauty nonetheless.

In the early years my husband and I cared for Dad at home, until we couldn’t anymore… This poem is the dance we danced. 

 

astaire (1)

We dance this dance
you and I
between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence of life
reduced to a Saturday picture show
whose cutting room floor we waltz gently upon
strewn with
images and scripts
and tangled nests of
stories…

those reel too real stories
that circle tirelessly
and feed endlessly
onto Silver Screens of nickel talkies
and kerosene-lit rooms
spliced with fiddle-played tunes
and a dad who hunts badgers on sunlit prairies
with his 10-year-old son
softshoeing closely beside

On this dance floor we dip
and in dipping we slide
into The Great War
of a 17-year-old sailor
fueled by honor
and duty
and a dream of life at sea                                                                                                                 haunted by Japanese boys with eyes too big and wanting

to forget

Swinging to a different song
we twirl through manhood
past marriage, and fatherhood, and too many years
sliced and forgotten
on Sundowner’s cutting room floor                                                                                                      buried
too far beyond reach to protect

so we glide and sachet and tap past all the madness

… and we gently circle back

 

to Saturday’s picture show and its nickel talkies
and this waltz                                                                                                                                       between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence
of a mind
brought back to simpler memories

 

of Life that keeps dancing on

astaire (1)                                                                                      Dance free now, Dad. Dance free.

The View from here

It was the beginning of my summer, June 14th, 2011 — the last day of teaching my 4th grade class, and the first day of the first summer to shed my empty-nested heart and embrace a new season of Life with my husband. I raced home with a school girl anticipation and excitement I hadn’t felt in quite a while. Bursting through the door, hoping to see matched enthusiasm, I was instead greeted by a look on Chris’ face that told me somehow, somewhere tragedy had struck. As it turned out, 1,237 miles away, my father-in-law (84) had been found wandering, lost, in a hospital parking lot — disheveled, disoriented, distraught…alone.

Hospital attendants were called. Dad didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know how he had gotten there. He didn’t know he had just admitted his wife of two years for a severe break to her arm. He didn’t even know she was his wife. It was quickly determined that the dementia he was exhibiting, (exasperated by trauma), would need indefinite 24/7 care. In gathering him back to the hospital (to get his wife’s consent to admit him until such care could be arranged), they discovered that her depth of dementia was worse than his … A new season of our lives had begun with a vengeance.

July 5th, 2011, one month and a lifetime later, my husband brought Dad home to live with us.

July 5th, 2011. We began caring for a man who is, sadly, a lengthening shadow of the man he once was.

On July 5th, 2011. We began redefining Life.

My husband Chris and I have been thrust into a world we knew nothing about: caretaking, Alzheimer’s, aging parents, unfamiliar isolation. We have walked this new life cautiously, carefully, and honestly? by the seat of our pants. I don’t know anything more about this insidious disease, or losing someone in plain view, than any one of you out there. What I do know I’ve googled and witnessed in only this ONE elderly man’s life. Plus, I am ‘just’ the daughter-in-law; I can’t speak from the perspective of watching a lifetime of memories being strangled to just a few by this insipid white plaque. I can only speak as one who has loved this man and known him for 30 years, longer than my own father. I can only share Life from my plain (Jane) view.

So, what do I hope for in this blog?

* I hope, from the perspective of this new, much smaller and different world, I will be able to adequately put into words some of the circus of emotions that so often get tangled in heartache, anger, laughter — and yes, even gratefulness.

* I hope that what I have to share through ‘in-the-moment’ poems, stories, questions, jumbled thoughts and prayers, might resonate somewhere in your lives, and we can share that understanding nod that says “I understand” … at least a little.

* I hope this can be one small corner where anyone who’s shared the heartache and hard work of caring for a loved one (young or old, sick or well) can find a refuge, or perhaps a community willing to help each other live Life. Really (still) live Life — even here in the trenches.

If only…

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And there they were,

~ a gathering of clouds ~

spread perfectly above a slice of sky … a window to the universe.

 

Precisely aligned to reflect the beauty of the rising sun, these puffs of vapor were destined for greatness,

designed for magnificence

and clearly meant to become an unparalleled sunrise.

Then…

BOOM!

Nothing.

 

Not even a fizzle.

DSC_2457

In clamoring for a better view of Sun’s entrance, they squeezed shut the slice of sky

pushing,

shoving,

elbowing their way to a better seat.

Loyal only to themselves, they tripped over ambition and became a huddled mass

closing down

even a hint of Heaven’s window

that would have transformed them into Beauty beyond themselves.

 

Instead…

 

Earth kept on spinning

and Sun rose behind a muddle of grey

and this bramble of darkening fluff just kept on shoving and pushing and crowding out Light’s magic

oblivious to the greatness they could have become.

 

… If only they had known.

IMG_1005

 

A Field of Wild Flowers (Small Wonder)

Tell His Story

Coffee for you Heart,

Thought-Provoking Thursdays

Five Minute Fridays

The Dance

My father-in-law died from Alzheimers this week. He died peacefully in the hands of a facility full of life and hope and angels dressed in flesh. Unmistakably, Alzheimer’s is a hideous and heart-wrenching disease and to those of you living out this life with your loved ones, my heart goes out to you. Yet, I am thankful that this disease is mercifully forgetful for the one living in its tangled grip. And for the ones watching it play out, dare I say, in struggling past the initial shock and grief, there can sometimes be found – even just briefly – beauty in the ashes. I pray you have moments of beauty, -albeit different and stark and always sad- but beauty nonetheless.

 

In the early years my husband and I cared for Dad at home, until we couldn’t anymore.

… This is the dance we danced. 

astaire (1)

We dance this dance
you and I
between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence of life
reduced to a Saturday picture show
whose cutting room floor we waltz gently upon
strewn with
images and scripts
and tangled nests of
stories…

those reel too real stories
that circle tirelessly
and feed endlessly
onto Silver Screens of nickel talkies
and kerosene-lit rooms
spliced with fiddle-played tunes
and a dad who hunts badgers on sunlit prairies
with his 10-year-old son
softshoeing closely beside

On this dance floor we dip
and in dipping we slide
into The Great War
of a 17-year-old sailor
fueled by honor
and duty
and a dream of life at sea                                                                                                                 haunted by Japanese boys with eyes too big and wanting

to forget

Swinging to a different song
we twirl through manhood
past marriage, and fatherhood, and too many years
sliced and forgotten
on Sundowner’s cutting room floor                                                                                                      buried
too far beyond reach to protect

so we glide and sachet and tap past all the madness

… and we gently circle back

to Saturday’s picture show and its nickel talkies
and this waltz                                                                                                                                       between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence
of a mind
brought back to simpler memories

of Life that keeps dancing on

astaire (1)                                                                                      Dance free now, Dad. Dance free.

A Field of Wild Flowers (Small Wonder)

Tell His Story

Coffee for you Heart,

Thought-Provoking Thursdays

Five Minute Fridays

in the settling of the dust

We-are-dust

the dust has settled now

particles of Life strewn through space

finding rest

on window sills

and piano benches

and picture frames that speak of a different time

when the dust was first kicked

up

into Clouds of Life

that followed little boys dressed in ninja gear

and cowboy hats

and dreams too big to hold

racing into summer nights

piled high with sleeping bags and shooting stars

darting through ping pong marathons

and “Happy Shakes” and treks along the railroad tracks

_ _ _ … ~~~ —- _ _ .. ~~ —. _ ~ —

. . . . . . . .

Grains of childhood gone too soon

quiet now

finding rest

in the settling

of dust

dust-in-your-house-1

A Field of Wild Flowers (Small Wonder)

Tell His Story

Coffee for you Heart,

Thought-Provoking Thursdays

Five Minute Fridays

Let Us Walk Worthy

the deep ache of Want

She was gone. And he was walking alone. Her camera in his hand, taking pictures of what life was meant to look like

if she were near his side.

Two weeks gone now, and he was wandering the canyons of Utah. Alone.

DSCN2277

 

You wouldn’t know on the outside.

He smiled and chatted briefly about the coldness of his feet. “Maybe someday, I’ll come back and wear what I need to make it up the Narrows

… maybe someday.”

DSCN2281

Obvious, was the Nikon camera he guarded as he forged through the icy water. We asked him if he wanted a picture of himself in this adventure, framed in all of Zion’s beauty. You’d have thought we had handed him a rare and costly treasure. As Chris started the photographer talk of of cameras and lenses, millimeters and apertures, his face washed red with a clouded uncertainty… He didn’t know what lens he had. He didn’t know his camera’s ins and outs. He didn’t even know the name of the weight that draped heavy around his neck. With a hesitant voice, he offered, “I’m sorry. I don’t really know a lot. The camera is, was my wi… um…I inherited it.”

Carefully he looked into the lens with a faraway smile, and the shot was taken. And another for good measure. Then his words began to tumble into the river at our feet. He apologized that he was going to cry. He’d lost his wife two weeks ago. A two year battle of cancer. His boss had said, “Go. Take as much time as you need.” He went. With his wife’s camera, and a dream, and a new life that didn’t fit right.

Wouldn’t ever fit the same way again.

He said he’d be okay. He said times like this he’d fill up and then overflow, and he’d go sit on back over on the beach right there, and just cry and let it out. He said how thankful he was for the picture.

DSCN2253 (1)

 

We said how we would pray for him in this hard time,

in this new life

and how we were praying even now.

Then, he thanked us and hugged us and we left him alone

… with a picture,

a raw new memory,

and the deep ache of Want.

DSCN2303

 

Looking back, as we headed up the river,

 

I saw him build an altar.

DSCN2295

 

cairn (1)

Linking up with

A Field of Wild Flowers (Small Wonder)

Tell His Story

Coffee for you Heart,

Thought-Provoking Thursdays

Five Minute Fridays

Let Us Walk Worthy

… though I can’t imagine where

 

Early morning shadows sprinkle the lawn revealing splashes of Light

and baby fresh,

spring-popping

green.

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The robin hops through the landscape – stopping to listen – head cocked at the slightest rumble of a worm inching its way near.

The flower turns its head to welcome morning’s light.

And just beyond, a doe and her twins stroll past, looking for greener pastures I suppose…

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… though I can’t imagine where

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Today,

this day,

is a gift.

The birds know it. The flower and doe know it… and the worm that got away knows it too. Chirping in the distance, blossoming and grazing along the sun’s lit path, … inching through the warming earth. Happy to sing their morning song, they welcome the turning of this world toward its Maker.

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New mercies, new hope, a new start.

 

What purpose do I have in this new day?

What Good works are planned for me to walk in since the beginning of time?

What voices need silencing to hear the One Voice that is needful to hear?

 

Be still and know that I am God.

Really know.

 

Quieting the noise of life

long enough to understand

 the certainty of the Life Giver.

 

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Seasons change.

Life happens.

… I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or the day after that or next month or next year.

But this I know:

In this moment, I am loved by a King

I can face this day and all the craziness it may bring

with thankfulness.

Today, in Him, I have a haven.

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Jesus loves me. This I know.

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Old Crusty, be gone!

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We all self-talk. We all have those inner conversations – some analytical, some matter-of-fact that say: “Do this. Go here. … Okay, that’s done.” And then there’s the other conversations – the judgments. The ones that wiggle their way into our hearts and hiss: “That was stupid! Why did you say THAT? I can’t believe I DID that?!”

 

Over the last year, something has changed in my self-talk. Instead of berating myself, I hear myself say, “Good job, Jane.” … or “You can do this, go for it.” or… “It’s okay, you’ll get another chance.”

 

These new conversations tickle me rosy pink every time. It’s nice to be nice to myself. It makes me giggle deep down in the heart of me, where disappointment used to nestle. It makes all remaining Crusties break apart and bounce far away, sent out with the garbage by the simple kind words, “Good job, Jane.”

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Today I heard an old barrage of similar rubbage, “I can’t do it.” These are words I’d like to send running as well. But the thing is: I don’t want to be one of those bubbly, smile-pasted-on, “name-it-claim-it” kind of girls. Because, honestly, the very real truth is: there are some things I think I should be able do, or try to do, that I really can’t do. I simply can’t.

I mean, can’t can’t…

 

So how do I change the self that struggles underneath the taunting of this honest “I can’t.” I know I can’t stay up any later, work any longer – try or pray any harder. I am doing what I can. Sooo??

Sooo…I just stop fighting it.

“I can’t.”

Plain and simple.

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Maybe someone else can. Maybe someone else looks like they can. Maybe someone else is simply satisfied. But that’s definitely not me.

So how do I change the self-talking reality of “I can’t” into one I can live with,

giggle with,

and break apart this old Crusty with?

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yeah, yeah, I know… but. But it doesn’t say I should do all things through Christ, or I will do all things, it says I can. And somehow I don’t thing Jesus is thinking about my growing list of “to do’s.” I don’t think he’s giving me a lot of “shoulds.” Maybe, the “I can” he’s talking about is really just back to the basics:

I can have a great attitude in all things

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can try my hardest, and let the rest go

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can learn to be who he made me to be in the midst of my “to do” list

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can let go the strangle-hold of “I shoulds”

through Christ who strengthens me.

I can do all the needful things

and smile,

at the all the rest

in that “I’m thankful I’m not bored” kind of way.

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Woman and her Savior against the world.

Me and Jesus against the wiles of the enemy.

“To-do’s, schma-mooz”

… I can do all (important) things through Christ

my sweet, Nazarene rebel who strengthens me

and cheers me on

when and where it counts.

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A familiar tune

 

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The new day peaks its head just above the night

and a mourning dove begins his soulful tune,

Waking the Sun, his melody glides the currents of the dawn

 

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Coo, coo-dee – COO, coooo coo

Coo, coo-dee – COO, coooo, coo

 

Why does he sing, this morning minstrel, … what moves him so?

Does he call for his mate to lead her home?

Does he sing for friends,

for family

for loss?

Does he sing for his Creator?

… or maybe, I imagine,

just

for

me?

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Suddenly a flurry of wings breaks the stillness of the air,

catches my eye

and stops the beating of his song.

… I have my answer:

His sweetie’s come home.

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His song pauses for a small moment – a morning peck, I suppose –

and quietly his song starts up again, a duet this time

 

COOooOOOO!

            coo ku

COOooOOOO!

            coo ku

 

In my heart

it calls…

the echo of a familiar tune

 

Hope is real

            Love is all

Life is good

            Love is all

 

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The new day peaks its head just above the night

and a mourning dove begins his soulful tune,

Waking the Sun, his melody glides the currents of the dawn

… a day of hope, I expect.

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