Tag Archive | inspirational

You are mine

joining up again with LIsa Jo and Laura … 5 minute writing with the freedom to simply breathe in the process

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Encourage —

to infuse courage

to wrap it around warm and soft like a fresh fuzzy blanket, warm from the dryer

encourage–

to give someone a hand, a lifeline that says

there is hope, there is light, there is joy

there is life beyond this place where your soul has wandered

a life meant for you, designed for you

you – a daughter of the most high God, his little princess

the one he loves

the apple of his eye

the one that puffs up his chest, and waters his eyes

and fills his world

with

a

reason

to save, to rescue, to protect

to teach, to share, to give his son

to lavish all his fullness on the one he’s called his own

You are mine, little one

Take my courage

Take it.

From my hands, reaching out, reaching down

Take it.

It’s free.

Open it, smell it, run your fingers through its softness

breathe deep its truth

open wide its hope

embrace its strength like the spring flower

that pushes up against the weight of Life’s dirt

the lifeless tomb that has held it for the winter

and helped it wait for the time when waiting is no more

Take my courage, little one

past your darkness

past your winter’s night

Burst out from past the weight, one dirt clod at a time

Fill full, fill sweet, fill beautiful with all things Spring

Be the courage, my sweet princess

Take it. Wear it. Enjoy it.

Breathe it deep…

Then give it away.

You were made to give away.

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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 preoccupied with plans of 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.

And it was there on my face, 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 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 occupied with thoughts of 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.

The unbelievable 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.

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