I Am a Writer

photo (15)There, I said it.  But those words do not come easy.

I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit to being a writer.  To be able to own it.   It almost feels like arrogance as I fight to make that claim out loud.  Claiming to be a writer sounds like I’m admitting to being good.  Published.  And even though I have, enough to be called a writer?  And what is the required amount of  published articles before one can be called a writer?

It’s not hard to admit I’m a runner.  I run a lot.  Not marathons, but I run.  Therefore, I am a runner.

Or that I’m a Christian.  Now that’s a title I wear with joy.  Being a Christian is a fundamental part of who I am.  I’m not a perfect Christian by any means, in fact a constant work in progress, daily.  But I am a Christian none-the-less.

A person who loves books and reads a lot is not only a reader, but frequently labeled an avid reader.  Someone who takes a lot of pictures is a photographer.  Maybe not professionally, but still a photographer, yes?  Or a person who draws or paints is an artist, true?photo (19)

In fact, if it were professionally, it would be a job.  A vocation versus an avocation.  But that’s all that would change.  That wouldn’t change the fact that the writing is happening.

Writing may not be considered a justifiable activity to non-writing folk, especially if a financial outcome isn’t the reason it’s being pursued, which makes it critical to have other writers in your inner circle.  If your writing makes the difference in even one life, then it’s justifiable.  Worthwhile.  A gift to behold.

Writing is what brings me peace and joy.  Well, usually.  And it’s something I practice and work at daily.  That makes me a writer.  And I can own that because it’s what I do.  A lot.

I am a writer.  And being able to claim that feels good.

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All is Grace.

New Month, New Life

July 3rd Fireworks

July 3rd Fireworks (Photo credit: zappowbang)

July is just around the corner, a month that used to be a childhood favorite with 4th of July celebrations of parades lined with colorful floats and marching high school bands, the oohs and ahs while watching amazing firework displays explode and cascade into the brightest colors high in the ink sky, baseball games, watermelon, family fun…everything that is summer.    The past several years, however,  have made me a bit apprehensive as it nears.

Experiences will do that.  Alter the way one sees things.  Kind of the same way an opinion forms around a name because of someone you once knew with that name.

Or the way I can get squeamish in a hospital because of something that is reminiscent of an unpleasant memory.

Too many painful  events began happening each July several years ago, and I realized the approach of the last couple found me holding my breath in fear.

Wishing an entire month quickly away.  Waiting…waiting…until the last day arrived and I could breathe a little bit easier.  Walk a little bit lighter.

This year it occurred to me, whether it was a God moment or spiritual experience is up for interpretation.  Either one is God speaking to me through life experiences.  Using what He knows will get my undivided attention.

That deeply embedded fear is nothing but lack of faith in a God who can orchestrate all aspects from those too small to see to those that can seem larger than life itself.

Rather than wait for the bad to happen, allowing fear and anxiety to entwine its tentacles into every area of my life,  I can give thanks for what I have, placing my focus on good and God.

A Good God.  All powerful God.

If something happens that is unpleasant, I can know and be secure in the knowledge that God can, and will, take me through it if I allow Him.  I can be grateful for the opportunity to practice leaning on Him.  An opportunity to practice perseverance.

When good things happen, which He makes sure does for His children, free of self-involved fear, I can be fully present to be aware of and enjoy it, rather than miss it while in the throes of wishing the month away.

And what an amazing opportunity to get some good quality writing done.  When emotions are raw, whether joy or pain, is when the most poignant writing is created.  The most memorable stories.  Words that flow from a heart that is beating and feeling the pulse of life.

Pen and Paper       This July I will honor the memory, feel the pain, but also celebrate the life of a lost step-child, while hugging my other step-daughter and my sons a little bit closer.

I will likely remember the near-death accident involving my child, but I will celebrate the fact that he is still with me. Whole and healthy.  Because of a loving God who rescued him, knowing his mom had a whole lot of love to lavish on him.

Rather than feel pain at the sight of a dragonfly, a symbol so important to a lost loved one, I can look at it as a sign from a loving God that my loved one is still around me.  Free.

I will strive to help victims of crime, giving them empathy and compassion as only one who has experienced it can.  And I will celebrate the fact that I am a blessed survivor.  Because of a loving God who cares about me so much He saved me from what could have been.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly (Photo credit: Tom Soper Photography)

I will remember a lost family pet, loved as no other pet ever was, and be grateful we found such a wonderful shelter dog to rescue and love.

This July, rather than wait for it to close, the curtains down, I will truly live, love, and experience every moment, every day as a new story to be told and lived.

Grace to You.

It’s About the People

photo (13)When my boys were born, and up until they were twelve years old (it was then my oldest son informed me he was old enough to remember well enough on his own now, thank you very much) I wrote in journals for each of them, so that they, as well as me, could know and always remember how important their lives had been since the day they entered this world.  The impact that they, even as babies, had on the life of another.  Me, as their mother, as well as several others they’ve met along the way.

Those journals are filled with pages upon pages of the fun things we did together, the memorable and cute things they did and said, how much I loved them, life lessons I hoped to teach them, and motherly words of advice and “wisdom.”

I never wanted them to forget their worth in the lives of others.  And my love of words and writing was the best way for me to let them know that.

Several years ago I began another project, which at the time, I hadn’t realized how important it would become.

Again, it involved words, as well as people. photo (11)

So many family moments, conversations, dinners, and relationships happened around what many people see as a kitchen table.  But I saw it as so much more.  That table heard so many stories, happy as well as sad, saw a lot of tears, a lot of laughter and joy, and a lot of prayer.

It also kept my kids from getting into trouble a time or two by allowing them to feed the dog beneath its cover.

This project I began was to add to the beauty of the centerpiece of our kitchen.  A green and white checked table cloth with the names of those who have shared a meal with us at that table.  Those who chose to share their lives with us.  Each such an important part of our lives.

As they chose a place to write their name with a thin black Sharpie pen, I embroidered over their handwriting, securing their place at the table.

Each year earned its own color of embroidery floss, so we could always remember when they were at our house.  My boys wrote their names more than once, making it fun to see how their signature changed from year to year.photo (12)

People who have left us for their eternal home  with God, have left a lasting impression at our table, a place we will always feel closest to them.  My husband’s mother and my step-daughter, Becky, being two of those treasured people.

My life has been so hugely impacted and influenced by the people in my life, and each one has left his/her handprint on my heart.

The next name to be written on that tablecloth is Jesus.  Because He is with us at every meal.  In fact, He will have his name in every color since the birth of the tablecloth. photo (10)

Grace to You.

Reclaiming the Carefree Days of Summer

English: An irrigation sprinkler watering a ga...

Watching two of my young grandchildren play with such complete abandon in the pre-summer afternoon sunshine last Saturday, I longed for the days when summer was unhurried, unstressed, and carefree.  The days when summers weren’t defined by days spent within office walls watching the clock. Or when the most beautiful scenery wasn’t my computer screensaver.

I watched my granddaughter, clad in her little pink and white striped Hello Kitty tankini, her long wavy hair tangled and blowing every which way, smiling from ear to ear as sticky sweet juice from the watermelon she was devouring ran all the way to her elbows.

I watched her little brother, my grandson, so proud of his brand spanking new Spiderman swim trunks his mom brought home for him on her recent trip to Puerto Rico, his bare feet running through the grass, squirting his sister with a squirt gun, laughing.

My husband couldn’t resist the urge to play and began squirting me and his daughter through the open patio door, laughing as we squealed–half from surprise,  half from sheer delight.  Delight at playing.  Something as adults we take too little time to do as we get caught up in what we have allowed to become our life.

It was at that moment I decided to reclaim my summers of the past.  When I took time to play, creating memories that have carried me through too many summers that blurred past in a flurry of “planned” activities and to-do lists.

As the official start of summer arrives this week, I’ve resolved to reclaim my childhood.  I’m going to:

*    Just once–at least–run through a sprinkler.

*    Go on an old-fashioned picnic, complete with blanket, picnic basket, and book, and spend an afternoon by the river.

*    Have a guilt-free entire afternoon reading a good book, lying under a tree–a big oak tree if I can find one.  If for no other reason than the poetic magic of lying under the “big shady oak tree.”

Oak Trees

*    Sit on the porch, awning rolled out, cool glass of lemonade or iced tea by my side, doing absolutely nothing but drink in my  surroundings, whether it be the birds on the feeders, the dog frolicking in the grass, jumping on grasshoppers.Iced tea, popular throughout the U.S.

*    Spend a few evenings reclining on the back patio with a light blanket, a cup of tea, perhaps a candle, and star gaze.

*    Lay on my back in the grass with my grandchildren, using our imaginations to see what shapes we can see in the clouds.

*    At least once a day, practice becoming aware of my thoughts.  Rather than allowing several to tumble around within my head like clothes in a dryer, focus on just one, truly savoring that precise thought at that precise moment.

*    Rather than spend my Saturdays running around, crazy, trying to accomplish everything on my list, only do the things that absolutely have to be done that day and only one other item.  The rest will still be there the next day or the next weekend.  And by then may not even need to be done anymore.

What are some of the things you can do this summer to reclaim, and perhaps even relive,  your childhood summertime memories?  I would love to hear.

Grace to you.

Honoring All Fathers

For all of the fathers, old and new, step-fathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, and even uncles…never underestimate the role you play in the lives of children, young and grown.  May God, our Father, bless you on this day, YOUR day, to do what brings you joy, rest or play, and for those of us who have been blessed by a fabulous father–or father figure–to give thanks to you and for you.

Grace to You.

 

Fathers Day

Fathers Day (Photo credit: Mark Emery Photography)

Let Go and Let God

When my boys were babies, then toddlers, it never occurred to me that they would ever be anywhere else but home with me.  Home where they were safe.  No matter what could, or did, happen anywhere else in the universe, at least we were together. photo (1)

As they found their way into, and through, adolescence, moments of fear began to take its grip,  choking my ability to be fully present and enjoy our time together.  Rather than trust God to in order to completely enjoy them, I feared that God would take them from me.  That fear took me from them.

Having been that fiercely protective mom–okay, I’ll admit some may have called me that “helicopter mom” since I had a tendency to hover–I tried with all my might to protect and buffer them from painful lessons that had I stepped aside, would have had great potential to help them grow into God-fearing, God-dependant young men.

Sometimes it felt like our lives became a yo-yo. Give them to God, take them back, give, take, give…you get the picture.  I’m forever grateful He gave.

Despite the sometimes paralyzing fear of losing them, and the raw ache at the thought of having an empty nest, God has used my weakness to grow stronger in Him, teaching me how to not only let go so they could grow, but to learn the power  of the simple phrase “Let go and let God.”

He’s teaching me to:

Let go of trying to control every outcome and let God guide the journey instead.photo (8)

Let go of protecting my family with suffocating persistence and let God protect them by giving Him–and them–the space they need.

Let go of trying to change what is not within my power to change,  and let God give me the strength to change what I can. And to know the difference between the two.  (The Serenity Prayer)

Let go of trying to force them to understand me and let God work in me to understand them.  To truly love them with a love that can only come from Him. Exactly as they are.  Exactly where they are.

Let go of the need to orchestrate and plan every moment of my day, and let God lead our day.

Let go of the tendency to regret yesterday or fear tomorrow, and let God help me live fully today.  In this exact moment.

Let go of the need for organized perfection, and  let God help me find the beauty in the messiness of life.

The messiness that can create a masterpiece.  A unique, one-of-a-kind, work of art by the master artist Himself.

Grace to You.

What Do You Mean It’s Not About Me?

“You’re needlessly beating yourself up and trying too hard to find an answer that isn’t there.”

My husband.  A wise man with such wise words.

We had gone on a long, peaceful bike ride this morning, surrounded by nature’s beauty.  At one point we stopped and were sitting in a park as I was filling him in on a text message I had received that hurt a bit.  Actually, “hurt” is a bit too gentle of a word.  It stung.  And the sting persisted stubbornly, intensifying as my mind imagined all kinds of reasons why what was said was actually said at all.

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone

My husband’s words, few in number, quality far surpassing quantity, stopped that sting dead in its tracks.  It all started making sense. All because of a few words.

And as we once again hopped upon our bikes and began riding, it began making even more sense.

When I’m riding my bike, surrounded by birds–both those flying above me and the ducks and geese swimming in the river below the bank–little critters scampering across the trail and in the woods that borders the opposite side of the trail as the river, the green of the trees, the silence…well, I’m able to piece together, and even make sense of, pieces of my life that I had been unable to understand prior to that moment.photo-7[1]

If someone says something hurtful to me, it’s not about me.  Unless I’ve done or said something to earn that arrow, alerting me to the fact that I had acted less than acceptable, it’s not my business to get upset.

What other people do or say isn’t about me.  In fact, the world isn’t about me at all.  Now isn’t that a wake-up call?  But immensely freeing, nonetheless.

It’s not my business to criticize, condemn, nor judge anyone else’s words or actions.

What is my business is to simply treat others with love, kindness, and compassion.  To forgive.  No matter what.  Usually easier said than done, but a work in progress is better than no progress at all.

Whether they return those blessings, or accept an apology I’ve made, isn’t in my control.  I can’t force anyone else to act or speak in love, or to forgive.  God can, and doesn’t.  Rather He allows us free-will.

My husband is a man of few words, but sometimes the words he says are like God speaking through him to me.  Knowing me well enough to know what–and how–I will truly hear.

It only takes a few simple words, spoken with kindness and love, to make a dramatic difference.

Grace to You.