Friday, July 29, 2016

Old Jeans

It’s a seat with a view I’ve grown accustom to.  All around me at the kitchen table are piles of unfinished work projects, daily to do lists, a wellness journal, and current magazines and devotional prayer books.  I’ve carved out this special place in my home with a spectacular window view of the backyard.  This is the seat and position I take gaining inspiration and creativity throughout many winter days. 

A relaxing Sunday in November has me sitting here in my usual fashion.  But instead of grabbing for a task to keep my mind occupied;  I look outside the window to see Ken busy at work.   The “Honey Do” list I gave him days earlier neatly folded in the back pocket of his jeans.  His movements and gestures are effortless as he completes each assignment.  He has a purpose beyond the obvious need to clear and winterize the backyard for the cold days ahead.  His persistence and determination stem from his desire to please me and make me happy.

I am painfully aware of my limitations and wish only to be next to him as he walks back and forth from the house to the garage.  Am I really sitting here feeling sorry for not being able body enough to complete the most mundane jobs?   You bet your ass I am!

There is only one thing that makes me chuckle and lightens my mood.  From my seated position at the kitchen table I take note of not only what Ken is doing but now I am keenly aware of the jeans he has chosen to wear today.    An old faded, distressed washed, light blue denim pair with rips and tears at the bottom of each leg.  I thought these outdated, wide leg hideous jeans were long gone, thrown in the garbage unworthy of a donation to any charity.   But low and behold they have resurfaced.

I don’t want to laugh.  I don’t want to find the humor in his ridiculous jeans.  But I can’t help myself from feeling lucky and joyful.  This man I met as a young wide eyed girl would accomplish all the dreams I held for him.  He would be a great provider, terrific dad and family man.  But in my wildest dreams I could never imagine the love he would hold for me and the outpouring of kindness he displays on a daily basis.   The comfort in which he wears those jeans is the same comfort I feel when he holds my hand to guide my every step.    I would never believe a love could grow deeper and richer with the passing of time.   But ours is a Love like no other - a little worn out , tried and tested from the journey  – very much like those jeans he choose to wear today!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

That Hook

Fishing hook in the sea
Can’t exactly say when it happened but I love Country Music.  Not the old stuff, just todays hits.  I am drawn to a good country ballad or love song (preferring mostly those sung by strong & handsome fellows).  I can’t get enough of those gents singing about love, faith, pickup trucks & beer!

Years ago, my sister Pat and her husband Jim tuned into Country Radio before having any commercial appeal.  I remember thinking them crazy to choose this genre of music and believed somehow they were abducted by aliens from the south!   Ken has always had an appreciation for Southern Rock Bands and crooners like Willie Nelson.  To this day, he loves hearing those songs from the 80’s & 90’s.  But to my surprise, Ken’s Pandora stations are now mostly set with playlists including my new favorite country “Good Old Boys”! 

I must admit my attraction to this style of music had more to do with a hook that grabbed my attention, than anything else.  These melodic and rhythmic verses repeat themselves, over and over getting stuck in my head.  Couldn’t let go of such mind blowing lines as: 
“Got Gravel in my Travel”,
“My Big Green Tractor”,
“God is Great, Beer is Good & People are Crazy” (to name a few)

These days I’m usually sitting back listening and waiting for that softly sung phrase to catch my attention.   And like Country Music I have learned to be attentive to the Hook found in all aspects of my life.  Between the rising of the sun with my morning prayer to the evening sky closing out the day; I find at least one Hook which captures my attention.

Scripture has always been just that for me.  As a child learning verses and now as an adult relearning meaningful Hooks from the master himself, Jesus.  Last week, Ken & I journeyed to mass after a few weeks absence.  Nothing specular happened for that hour – except when I heard a familiar Gospel story.  Couldn’t wipe the smile from my face or stop feeling the same giddiness I get hearing that perfect riff in a country song!

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace” … And I am awakened!

I’ve taken to receiving daily inspirational and uplifting Hooks from many of the apps on my smartphone.   I even have a daily “Seize the Day” calendar on the kitchen counter.  I seldom, if ever, miss pulling off yesterdays “hook” to capture new words meant for my hearing today.  Hooks come from all angles – to help me stay on course and when I stumble across the perfect one – I become aware that a Chart Breaking Hit is surely in the making!

“The healthy wear a crown that only the sick can see” …. And just like that, I’m Hooked!

Without fail a good Hook teaches me to “pull myself up by my bootstraps, dust off the dirt, grab the one I love and head off into tomorrow – of course, with a cold beer in my hand”

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Into Every Life...


I have worn many different “hats” in my life but the gardening cap never seemed to properly fit me.  I love the beauty of colorful flowers, plants lush with unique shape leaves, annuals and perennials announcing the change of seasons, black mulch to protect the soil below, planters and hanging baskets overflowing in a brilliant display.  Who doesn’t love and appreciate God’s creation in the garden!  It’s just the hard work that doesn’t suit me.

I marvel at my family and friends who spend hours toying in the gardens.  Their ability to name each variety and know details like sun exposure,  best type of soil and the proper amount to water – makes me feel inadequate and unworthy to receive their bounty.

The many years tending to my garden has taught me that a little hard work will yield many days basking in the splendor of their offerings.  And the hard work begins and ends with the weeds.  Those nasty, creeping and climbing vines can ruin and overrun the simplest garden.  It would be impossible to quantify the number of hours I’ve dedicated to their elimination.   (As well as the number of cases of poison ivy I’ve endured)

But that was before. 

Now I can only look at my gardens and be thankful. Gone are my days of donning that ill fitted cap and getting my hands dirty.  Instead I get to watch and enjoy the fruits of so many years of labor.  The money I spent was the best investment and the hours exhausted digging and planting brings new life every year.   But this year, I also get to watch as the weeds creep in and unfold a different kind of beauty. Intertwined in the perfectly manicured beds and arranging themselves for the best position – are the weeds.  It is no longer my task to pull at them and stop their spreading.  I must learn to enjoy how they complement the arrangement and add a new variety of life. Why and who deemed them unworthy of our affection?

My gardens with all the weeds got me thinking, and a lesson was learned.  Our lives are like beautiful flower gardens.  We work to create perfect, uniformed and balanced lives for ourselves.  But in doing so, we waste valuable energy & precious time removing what we deem as unacceptable; that which we do not desire.  Oh, but the lesson I see clearly from my garden is that happiness comes to those whose lives are a little messy, unpredictable and overgrown.  Wisdom and peace can flourish when we learn to live with the weeds, accepting their existence within the beautiful gardens we have grown.         

“Into Every Life…. a few weeds must grow”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Invited Guest

english bulldog wearing lei and party hat.

It’s a reality I cannot escape. Running away only makes it that much harder to deal with. Facing and giving in to all that comes with accepting the invitation, is my only option. For my response to decline would bring me only darkness and despair.

So I consent to the life I have been offered and gracefully take my place as an invited guest.

I remember in my younger days waiting to be included and extended an invitation to any party. Just to have my name among those chosen to attend was all the validation this teenager needed. I grew up with a small circle of friends so there were not many offers coming my way. Today the buzz word is FOMO (fear of missing out). I suffered terribly at the hands of this condition. Didn’t we all?

One of my favorite quotes is “Your life is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. In full knowledge and with all my acquired wisdom, I am certain that God meant for us to fully enter into our lives with Joy and Happiness. Very much like the feeling you get receiving a request to partake in the festivities of a party.

The circumstances involving my illness often put me in the position of being an invited guest to my own life. This is somewhat new and very different in its offering. In the midst of living, I find myself vulnerable and somewhat dependent on others who have chosen (or been chosen) to be with me. Some days I have little strength, I am weary of what I can get done. Watering plants, cooking a meal, driving my car, showering, shopping, cleaning (a mundane list without end); are accomplished with great effort and care. Most times I am at the mercy of someone else to take my hand and guide my faltering steps. I must depend on someone to act as the Hostess; completing simple tasks and caring for the many items on my list. I am perched on a throne of sorrow – observing my life happening around me.

Despair sets in and I allow myself a few dark moments to sit and feel lost….

Soon I remember that God has given me the gift of life and somehow I shake free from my “pity party”. I have been invited to the ultimate celebration by the ultimate Host! Difficulties and obstacles can get in the way of enjoying the banquet before me. But my gift back to God must be a life lived (no matter how hard) in gratitude for being His Invited Guest to a party designed especially for me!

God never promised a life without pain, laughter without tears or sun without rain.
But He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way.

The Least

There is nothing funnier as a parent then seeing your adult children unconsciously mimic you.  My oldest daughter, Megan, can be hear...