Alive

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So we got to the end of the weekend, and I laid my head upon my pillow feeling simply fulfilled and alive.  And I thought back over the weekend trying to figure out what it may have been to make me feel this content, this happy, this restful, this peaceful, this settled.  Yep, I was feeling all of that and more.

There was the delightful little person who came to spend an evening with us while his mommy and daddy were away.

There was the evening just Duane and I, with games, hot chocolate, cookies, & Christmas music.

There was an afternoon of successfully finishing up some projects around the house.

There was the Sunday morning message on Christmas – the joy AND the pain.

There was the truths of scripture that made an impact on my heart.

There was the accomplished feeling of doing something hard at the end of that cold 5th mile.

There was Christmas Caroling for a bed-fast friend.

There was a lively game around the coffee table with friends and cookies and hot chocolate.

And I thought about that if it were possible, I would re-create each of those moments so I could feel this Alive all the time.  But the truth is, this real aliveness, can’t be created by me.  This aliveness comes from something deeper – a soul awareness of my Creator.  A soul connection with my Creator reflected in all the wonderful little connections over the weekend.

The connection with a little person over fisher-price farm animals eating out of their trough.

The connection with my church family over games, scripture, charoles.

The connection with my husband over games, running, working.

These are all reflections of the deeper connection that I so desire with my Savior.

May God continue to stir in me more awareness of Him.  And especially now as I think of what this time of year represents.  Jesus – God Himself – coming into my world, for me.  Because He longed for connection with me.

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My Grateful

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I’m a list person.  Just ask my husband.  I love them; He, not so much.

In honor of Thanksgiving this week, this is my Grateful  list.

1.  The suprise of finding out I didn’t have to work today after all (after getting over my initial annoyance about the fact that I had crawled out of bed before six to show up at work on a day I had off).

2.  Pumpkin spice lattes – Duane bought me one on the way home from work (which I didn’t do) this morning after picking me up 5 minutes after dropping me off.

3.  The Faithfulness of God – So glad that no matter how crazy this life can be, God is constant and good.

4.  The ladies that gather with me for book study.

5.  Social media – Sometimes I hate it but mostly I’m grateful for the opportunity it gives me to connect with friends and family who live far away.

6.  My keyboard/piano – I’m renewing my relationship with it after it sat mostly silent for 3 1/2 years.

7.  Soups – We might just live on them all winter.

And since ‘7’ is the perfect number, I’ll stop with this although this is definitely not an all-inclusive list.  I’d need the skies to be parchment for an all-inclusive list.  And before you think I must be a pollyanna with a grateful list that large, let me remind you that the amount of sky I see when I look up outside of my house isn’t as large as some parts of the world.  Just saying. Though my list could get pretty large.

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Missing these days of eating breakfast and drinking coffee out in the back “yard/patio”.

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Just grateful that seasons come and go. And here’s to hoping this cold season moves along very quickly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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This Season

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It’s a party of one out along the river today.  Just me, this book, some snacks, and a journal. I’m watching all the traffic on the schuykill, grateful that I’m not commuting home from work at the moment.
Beautiful lingering warmth on this fall day. If only autumn lasted forever.
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I love autumn enough that I’ve brought it inside. Enough that I’ve cooked it delicious pumpkins and apples.

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I’ve sipped it’s cider and pumpkin lattes.

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And I’ve gathered with friends to learn more about relationship and the creator of this wonderful season.

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In Community

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Little Lib and I needed to get out the other day, so she hit the stroller, and I hit the sidewalk and we took ourselves a little walk.  Me, in hopes of her falling asleep; her in hopes of having another stranger gush over her (at least I imagine her living her life waiting for the next smile and doting on from big humans).

It was when I was approximately five blocks from my house and about two blocks away from the coffee shop, that it dawned on me – an iced-coffee would be perfect on this warm muggy day.  Insert problem.  I had left the house without my wallet.  I decided to press on to the coffee shop with the hope that potentially we had earned a free coffee by now with our rewards card.  Immediately upon entering the shop, I explained my dilema to the barista.  She asked for the name on the card to look it up and as she did that, when on to say that if we hadn’t earned a free coffee, I could just take it and come back and pay for it later.

WHAT?!?!!  Did I hear her right?  Are we becoming a part enough, that we’re trusted to come back and pay later?  Do we belong?

We’ve been desiring to connect more with our neighborhood ever since we made the move two and one half years ago.  We have friends who work right here in the community and thanks to them we have made some connections.  We see the value of working in the community you live in, but we also choose to believe that there were other ways of connecting to the community without Duane working right in this neighborhood.

I grew up on a small town and my dad owned a business in that small town.  My dad was on several different boards and committees in that town.  When we first moved there many, many moons ago, my father could pretty much tell you the family name of every house in the entire town.  Everybody knew everybody.  The gas station attendant would tell me to bring the money later when I showed up to buy milk for my mom with too little money.  That type of thing happens in a small town where everyone knows everyone.

But in this big town? . . .

It’s been harder then we realized it would be, connecting to the community.  Goodness, it’s been hard enough just getting to know people on our block.  From the beginning, there were a few neighbors we connected with, but getting to know the rest of them has beeen a slow process. We’d walk down the block during the block party thinking “now here’s a good oppportunity to meet people”, only to discover that on our block, everyone invites their families and friends over for block parties, so 75% of these people aren’t even our neighbors.  Sigh.

But slowly, we’ve been getting to know more people.  And that coffee felt like confirmation that this is becoming our home. I realize, it could mean we’ve been frequenting the coffee shop far too often.  But I’d like to think that maybe it means we belong here.  That this is our town.

 

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I Wonder if Mommas Pray more

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That was the thought going through my head at 2am.  I had just spent an hour bouncing her cute 26lb one year old self back to sleep.  Prayers, or should I say one prayer, were repeatedly being wafting heavenward – “Please let her stay sleeping, please let her stay sleeping. . .”.

And then. . . but that kind of prayer life isn’t really what develops a deeper relationship with my Father, is it?  Not the kind I know He wants, and I want as well.

And my prayers changed a bit.  More along the lines of “Thank you for giving me the strength to care for this darling child.  Right now, I’d prefer sleep, but I don’t really need it.  I can stay awake and care for this child.  You provide the strength I need.  In you, I have what it takes.”

I do desire more of a prayer relationship with God and I know He wants to hear our needs and sometimes desparate pleas.  I’ll continue to bring them to Him, but I want more of a relationship then that.

I’ve had situations where I’ve had to call on a friend or family member for help.  Seems like more now with having a little darling child we’re responsible for right now (thanks Janell).  But in order to have a satisfying relationship it needs to be more then just me requesting help from them.

And in order to have a more satisfying relationship with my Father, I want to bring more to the conversation than asking for things.

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Lighter thoughts on Mother’s day

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So I heard some men at work the other day talking and laughing and joking AND wishing each other a “happy Mother’s Day”. I shook my head at how crazy those men are (you can’t take that Lenny serious) and went about my business.

I walked off the bus later that day and half a block from my house an elderly man stood on the sidewalk. As I approached him, he wished me a “happy Mother’s Day”. I smiled and politely thanked him, allowing him to believe what he wished and not feeling the need to explain that “well, actually, I’m not a mother”. As I passed by him, I heard him mutter, half to himself, half for my ears, I believe, “you’re supposed to say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ back”. I almost paused right there on the sidewalk. Are you serious?! Do we really say “Happy Mother’s Day” to anyone just like we would say “Happy Memorial Day” or “Merry Christmas”?

Is this a clash of cultures? A generation gap?

Or am I just simply clueless? Does everyone out there wish the men in there lives a “Happy Mother’s Day”.

Whew! I might have to study up on Mother’s Day a bit.

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Mother’s Day Thoughts

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I remember that Mother’s Day – the one in which, for the first time, I truly cared about the fact that I wasn’t a mother – the one in which I wondered if I ever would be a mother. I hated the exuberant amount of lauding and applauding and lavishing of praise on mothers. I hated even more the attention that was given to “those that aren’t mothers but want to be”. I didn’t accept the gift that year – the gifts being passed out to mothers and “those that want to be”.

There was the next Mother’s Day. The one where I was much more at rest with not being a mother. The one in which the longing was just as great (maybe greater), but peace was greater still. I still hated the recognition given to “those that want to be”. But I accepted the gift that year and chose to focus and celebrate my mother and the fact that due to marriage, I could celebrate two mothers.

Then there was Mother’s Day last year. The one in which we grieved like crazy as we approached the one year marker of loosing one of our precious mothers.

And then there’s Mother’s Day this year. And I’ve been processing a lot – reading others thoughts on Mother’s Day. There’s the single girl who can’t stand how all the attention (in a public setting such as church) to mothers actually blazes negative attention her way. There’s the aching woman who can’t grow life in her womb. There’s the adoptive mother who wrestles with lies of wether she really counts as a mother. There’s the birth mother who so courageously places her babe in the arms of another to raise.

And I wrestle and I struggle with this day. And I hear opinions of how the childless should be treated on this day, and I cringe.  Because the child holders should really hear from the childless before assuming what they want.

I’m all about celebrating mothers. Mothering has got to be one of the hardest jobs on the planet. I watch my friends do it and marvel at how amazing they are. I’m extremely grateful for my mother – her sacrifices, her love, her grace. I’m extremely grateful for the second mother I had for 3 short years. They are worth celebrating and I delight in celebrating them. My friends who so tirelessly and bravely invest time in their children – they’re worth celebrating, also.

But I wonder if Mother’s Day would be better off celebrated at a personal level vs. large attention given it in our church services. It seems that for every person whom Mother’s Day is hard for, there’s another opinion of what feels loving to them on this day. And it’s hard, almost impossible, to get it right, but on a personal level it’s a lot easier. And on a personal level I’m guessing it would mean more to all these amazing mom’s out there as well.

So this Mother’s Day I’m excited to celebrate:

My mom – who continues to offer unconditional love

Mom Ann – who left us two years ago, but I still benefit from the love and care she invested in her youngest born

My sister – who became a new mom two months ago, and was tranformed right before my very eyes

My sister-in-law and dear friend – who became a mom two days ago and already appears like a natural

My older sisters – who have been doing this courageous raising of children thing for years

My friends nearby – who are amazing examples to me and whom I hope to learn from should that mothering day come

I guess my desire and hope is to remind others this Mother’s Day, please don’t assume what the childless want from you.  Be sensitive to where they’re at in relationship to this whole mothering thing.  And please, whatever you do, don’t argue with the woman who is asking that no attention be given her, by insisting that she deserves to be recognized.  Please, let her sit back in the shadows.  Please, don’t call attention to one of the biggest heartaches in her life.

And one more thing, please, go ahead and celebrate the mothers.  It’s what Mother’s Day is about.  Don’t try to make me feel better by saying, “oh, you’re a mother at heart”, or “I’m sure there are many who look to you as mom”.  Because that doesn’t change reality.  The truth is, I am not a mother.  You pretending I’m “almost” a mom, or “as good as” a mom, really doesn’t help.  Please don’t pity me.  Just go ahead and celebrate the moms in your life, please.

May you celebrate well, the mothers around you this weekend.

 

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Minimalist

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A minimalist by definition is “being or providing a bare minimum of what is necessary”.  It’s other things, also, but in the spirit of minimalism, I give you one defintion.  :)

According to that definition I am a far cry from being a minimalist.  But according to middle-class American standards (and my own standards of having to purge), I would term myself “leaning” minimalist.

If I don’t wear it, use it, eat it, read it, need it, it’s simply taking up space.

Even in writing, texting, facebook, etc I catch myself trying to eliminate words (being excessively wordy this time, though).

Let me be clear.  My house is not magazine perfect.  I think it’s actually my natural messy tendancies that cause me to react and “remove”.  If I have too much stuff, I tend to get cluttered very quickly.  Even the floor of my closet.  If it starts getting chaotic looking, I start looking for shoes to get rid of.  In fact, right now I have a pair I’m considering passing on to my sister.  Wore them only once or twice in the past year.  Definitely warrants passing them onto someone who will make good use of them.

I have to be careful in my de-cluttering though.  I’ve, on occasion, passed something on too quickly.  I’ve got a system down now where I store things in a particular tote that I think I might want to remove.  A couple months later (or when I’m going through another purge obsession) I go through the tote again.  Some things go, some things stay.

And my pinterest boards?  They’re actually driving me crazy right now.  I need a lazy Sunday afternoon, or an unscheduled Saturday morning, to sit down and clean up those boards.  It drives me crazy to have something pinned that I’ll never use.  So yes, my boards have to be gone through every couple months.

We just had a “happy birthday everyone” party in my family – hosted by me.  And everyone got a gift from my house.  The sweater that I put in the dryer, that shouldn’t have been, went to the neice.  The picture that hung in the farmhouse, but never found a place in the city house, went to my mom.  The book we enjoyed reading but don’t feel it’s a priority to have in our library, went to the brother.

And presently, there are books, coffee mugs, and a food chopper collected on the table in the living room.  Trying to figure out if they could be gifted, sent to the thrift store, or saved for fall yard-sale.

P.S.  Just went though this post and eliminated 15 words.

P.S.S.  The fact that I counted them is just my number ocd issue, that’s all (and my need to be a little wordy here at the end).

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All in a Days Work

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4:30am cringing at the thought of getting out of bed.  “I hate this
day” was the rather loud thought that dashed through my brain.

5:00am awake and feeling much more energized and prepared to meet the
day.  Feeling sorry for hating on today.  It’s a gift from God and I
want to cheerfully accept this gift.

6:52 standing in the cold, grateful to see the bus top the hill after
I waited for only five minutes.

7:00 riding the bus and recognizing that though early mornings tend
to be my least favorite part of day, an hour into the day, I’m usually quite
happy about it.

7:05 suddenly filled with dread about the fact that I’m gonna be
meeting lot of people today and some people are really good at making
attempts to ruin other peoples days.  And the one or two disgruntled
customers can somehow consume me and make me forget the 177 pleasant
ones.

8:00 chatting pleasantly with co-workers over breakfast break. I’ve
been up for hours, so “cheerful” has arrived by now.

10:45 “he” showed up – the demanding, belittleing, disrespectful guy.
Forgot about the previous pleasant customers and struggled to know
how to respond, to not take on myself the belittleing message he was
sending my way.

10:48 remind myself that his attitude has more to do with whatever
issue he’a dealing with (and potentially the fact that he forgot to
check the prices before ordering “half” the menu a la carte), then
anything I p0tentially did wrong.

11:10 say good-bye to him. I’m feeling much better about myself since
distancingmyself from his issue and he actually seems slightly happy.  Score!
3:55pm once again waiting for the bus, contemplating the truth that no
one I met today had the power to destroy me.  Neither did the 177
pleasant people have any power to add value to me.  And that kinda
made me happy.

4:00pm happily heading home after another successful day. Grateful for my job.

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11.28

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On this day, Wedenesday, five years ago, 11-28-07,

we stumbled upon this at the park.

My thoughts?  “What a beautiful memorial.  I wonder who died here.”

My boyfriends words?  “Would you like to sit down?”

My next thoughts?  “Oh My Word!!!!  It’s for us!!??!!”

It was a good day, that Wednesday night five years ago.  I didn’t know then how Right a decision we were making.

People say opposites attract, and I’m sure there are ways we are rather opposite, but in the things that really matter. . .  I marvel sometimes how blessed we are that our values and passions and dreams SO match up.  It’s a huge gift.

This day, this 11.28, sadly, we won’t be making a trip to “the bench”.  This 11.28 we’re some 1000 miles away from each other.  I imagine the bench will still be there next week.

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