Friday, December 26, 2014

Starry Skies

It came upon a midnight clear and more than ever I felt the shifting of what was and what will be.  The settling in of letting go while opening my arms to what is coming.  This year has absolutely knocked me down again and again and again.  I continue to stand up, dust off and step forward as gracefully as I know how.  And to be fair, for every loss, every hurt, every heartbreak I have faced I have been presented something to celebrate.  My blessings have been multiplied.  Praise God for the way HE gives when HE takes away.  The way HE places before us our very fears, doubts and worries right alongside the tools and the people and circumstances to overcome, if only we are willing to seek them and do the work.  Everyday is a choice.  We get up and we can choose to face our giants, fight our battles, celebrate our victories or we can sit down on the path, stay right where we are, linger in the dark instead of walking forward in faith while we seek the light.  Each year I silently and privately focus on a word, a saying, something that has spoken to me.  I write, meditate and pray while allowing myself to grow.  This year I didn't consciously make an effort to find that was placed before me.  It was HOPE, for no other reason than the fact that it was literally all I could hold onto some days.  HOPE without my FAITH would have been pointless.  Thank God for the promise of each new day and what is, as well as what is to come.  If one believes this is really all there is how do they rise from bed each new morning?  I have a beautiful life, and much of what I have is more than some people will ever know, I don't discount or take a moment of it for granted.  The first thoughts when I rise in the morning are praise for the little faces that look up to me, the arms that hold me, the roof that shelters me and food that fills me.  I fall asleep each night in prayer whispering silent gratitude for each and everything that brought me through day even when that gratitude is tired eyes and fingers because my business is thriving amidst challenging times.  I realize that the challenges we face are a gift we are unwrapping.  Sometimes we don't see the value right away, but nothing is without reward if you can embrace what is being offered.

2014 has not been my friend.  I am ready for a fresh start and a new beginning while facing the reality that just because we are hanging a new calendar doesn't mean we will smile more and grieve less.  Real life.  It isn't for the faint of heart.  I am certain we all have seasons we must face that challenge us and grow us.  I am stretched and desperately looking forward to my season of rest, of basking in the beautiful, a place of peace and joy.  I know it is coming, that is a promise.   The burdens we face today are temporary.  Nothing lasts forever.  We are all just passing through on our way to what is next.  Learning to accept, appreciate, allow what is, is just a mountain to climb on our journey.  I keep stepping, one foot in front of the other, not always quickly and admittedly there are days I have to tie a knot in my rope and hang on, but for everyone one of those days I am given a day that I can skip and dance and run ahead with anticipation of what lies ahead.

My walk these days is all about transparency and authenticity.  I want to be real, all the time, every day.  I don't want to put on masks or dress up any of the stuff that makes me who I am.  I often feel perhaps the world would feel a little safer and kinder if we all could see the struggles our neighbors faced.  If only we could borrow the shoes of the lady who just screamed at you on the phone, or the person who cut you off on the highway, or the man who shows up at your office everyday asking for candy and speaking nonsense.  If we could see where another has been and what the dark looks like through their eyes we might have a little more understanding, compassion, presence and acceptance.  We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, no two alike, hand crafted pottery, stained glass, snowflakes.  Sometimes the world around us just needs to step back and look a little longer and harder to see the art of our hearts.  We never know the call someone has just received, the news from the doctor, the loss of job, the broken marriage, the too long day to make ends meet, the flat tire when they were already late, the child that abandoned, the dementia that stole a loved one, the broken heel on a shoe, the homesick heart, the inability to just say no when the addiction has taken hold.  We don't know how or why anyone makes the choices they do, but it isn't our place to judge.  Maybe if we had made the same journey we would stand in the same place they do.  Boundaries for ourselves, love for others, what a concept.

I have written and deleted more than once as I write this piece, trying to wrap up and spill out a recollection of what this year hurled at me.  I guess I am not in a place to put the words to paper of the hurt because I am still working on the healing.  Letting go, again and again.  Trying to say goodbye when you miss the hello is hard work.   I guess we all do it differently.  Many times this last year I have smiled at how things were healing and feeling better and easier only to spend the next day in a pullout letting the tears pour down, being dropped to my knees while pleading for comfort from the pain.  And there was August the gift and the time that balanced it all.  I am certain I am not alone.  There are others who have strolled this same road before me, and many who will walk behind me.  My HOPE is that no matter how dark it gets you can look up and see the starry sky.  It is my go to place when I am homesick, or lonely, or missing loved ones past.  Just 5 minutes and a quick glance helps to softens the edges of my heart.  I have always equated the stars to holes in heaven where loved ones shine down.  Choosing stars to represent people who matter to me.  A little place to say goodnight, or hello, or I am thinking of you. 

Missing the memories and the magic of the years behind, missing the people who made the magic happen in my life.  Trusting that what is coming is something equally as beautiful if I am willing to accept it.  Letting go of the preconceived notions of what Christmas must me, would be, could be, or should be....because it is what it is and that in itself is enough.  Cheers to New Years, may this one be unforgettable for its celebrations, memories made, possibilities and smiles.  May there be more hellos, welcomes, come on in's that there are goodbyes.  May the walk be gentler and the rest plentiful.  My HOPE.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving Grace

Finding my way back to Five Minute Fridays....where the writing is real, unscripted, unedited.  A place to link up with a crowd of encouragers to splash our words all over the pages.  To free our minds and our hearts and just write without worrying.  Todays prompt:  GRACE

THE UNMERITED, EXTRAVAGANT FAVOR WE EXTEND TO ONE ANOTHER.  Born of love and spooned out like compassion as we learn to give it away freely, with an expectation for nothing in return.  Not something that must be earned, traded or repaid.

It is an offering that springs from the depths of soul as we pour it out over those whose lives we can bless.
I offer it to you as we journey down the road of life.  When you stumble over the pebbles in your path and you fall down deep into a murky crevice.  I climb in next to you, and I wrap my arms around you and I begin to climb slowly and carefully out, I carry you and I drag you and I get underneath and push you.  And we step on.

I look back and see you have stumbled over the same pebbles and fallen back down.  This time I crouch down, and I reach in to grab your hand but I don't fall in myself.  I grip firmly and I help to steady you while you climb out, slowly and clumsily trying to find your footing.  We walk on.

Again, I turn my head to see you losing your footing as you cross the same small pebbles and you begin to tumble down.  This time I watch and I wait and when I see you flailing, and shouting and trying to find your way out alone I speak encouragement and I wait with my arms wide open to hold you when you get back up.  We journey forward.

And there you go, and this time I know you see them right in front of you, but you choose to cross the same pebbles and again you fall.   This time so hard.  You are broken.  You hurt.  You yell and you cry out how unfair it is.  You want someone to help you.  You scream that the pain is too much to bear and you can't do it alone, but you have forgotten that you are never truly alone.  And that is where the problem begins.  I don't walk back.  I wait and trust.  I pray for you and I whisper words of love and reminders of who you really are.  I beg you to do the work yourself, to look up instead of down, to move slowly and to plant your feet firmly.  And I wait, as I always will.  I will shine my light for you, even in the darkest hour.  I won't point and laugh.  I won't bet against you.  I won't allow myself to hear all that you aren't.  Because I know that just around the corner, there is a mountain I must climb, and I may slip and need your hand.  And when I reach I know you will be there.  We all fall down sometimes.  But me, I accept you.  I don't agree with you.  They are different, you know.  And so this time when you rise, and you stand and you begin to dust yourself off, I will be there with a shovel and a broom to help you fill in the hole and smooth away the pebbles.

Because that is grace and HIS grace is enough for the both of us.

Friday, October 5, 2012

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Day 2 - What is the hypotenuse of a right angle?

And he called me his mathematician, it was perhaps one of my favorite roles in life, maybe the one I miss the very most.  I can still remember the way his eyes would light up, a smile washing over his face and he would chuckle that one of kind laugh before he would ease deeper into the language of building, which of course required a lesson in math.  It started with the same question every time, at every encounter.  He would scoop me up into his arms, or drop right to one knee where ever we were and then he'd ask "What is the hypotenuse of a right angle"?  And I would respond in a voice that only a 3 year old can mimic "It's the square root of the sum of the two sides squared".  Mastery, I had it down and I thirsted for the wisdom that he shared at every corner.  This was the way it always started.  From the time I could speak he was teaching me how to crunch a number, how to engineer a bridge, how to build a house, how to do the figuring from within my own mind without ever having to grab a pencil and paper.  I was his favorite student, teacher's pet, and I think I knew it.

My grandpa John, the foundation of my world, the one that remained strong and intact even when others cracked and crumbled.   In my humble opinion there was nothing he couldn't do.  He dreamed big but lived small.

Sometimes I hear the stories of his younger years, and more recently an old friend blessed me with a dvd made of home movies from the 50's and 60's.  It seems maybe he had a wild side a country mile wide but that was long before me.  He raised his family in Fort Seward operating John's Lodge, the local watering hole.  He had a small plane back in the day and though I never flew with him I have heard many a fabled tale over the years.  Eventually he moved to Willow Creek and bought The Forks, another local watering hole.  And that is where my story began.

I love him for the trips we made to the "gasoline store" for candy and the "two bits" he gave me to catch the ice cream man.  For the way he'd let me sit on his lap and steer the car as often as I liked.  I love him for his apple pie and the cinnamon crust that I still cannot make.  I love him for long, lazy summer days at Aunt Alice's pool where he'd throw quarter after quarter into the deep end to give me lessons in diving.  For the way he loved to sing really old cowboy music and play Anne Murray and Willie Nelson on the record player.  I still can't listen to Georgia or Snow Bird without tears rolling down my cheeks.  I love him for his trouser pants, pastel button up shirts, bald head and thick, black framed glasses.  I love him for showing me that it really can get so hot outside that you can fry an egg on the hood of a car.  I love him for the mad blackjack skills he taught me in the midst of math lessons, and the fact that he always made sure I walked away from the kitchen table with my pockets full.  I love him for his barbeque hamburgers full of bell pepper and onion, and for the way he loved to pick up Chinese take out from Raleys and would spend 10 minutes telling the cashier a story, even if there were 3 people in line behind him.  I love him for the driving lesson he gave me in the big yellow attempt to teach me to parallel park.  I told him there wasn't enough room but he insisted I "gun it".  I never argued with him so I gunned it right into the back of a parked car.  He just laughed, he always just laughed.  I love him for taking me to DMV on my 16th birthday and debating the system because he could see no reason why I should have to go to pay the fees and go to driving school when he had already taught me how to drive.  I love him for letting me stay up late and watch Johnny Carson.  And for giving up his place at her bedside so I could sit and hold my grandma's hand as she slipped off to heaven, and I know he did because he knew how much I needed it.  I love him for his big green parka and the budweiser can that he always had in hand.  I love him for the way he would pull the giant, wooden spoon off the kitchen wall and tell me to take "big bites".  I love him for the way he would break two eggs in a glass and swallow them down raw because it was the quickest way to eat breakfast.  I love him for the way he would get up when the phone rang at 3 a.m. to come rescue my sister and I from the phone booth on the corner when my parents were fighting.  And for always making sure we had a couple dimes to keep in our shoes under the bedroom window in case we needed to call him.  I love him for being my ride to school every time I missed the bus.  I love him for standing strong the day I blasted him with the words "I hate you" while I stood broken, enraged, angry, disappointed, abandoned and coming off too many days without sleep, ready to quiet everything in my world and make it all go away.  I love that he was the one who could speak reason and love to me long enough and hard enough to make me listen.  I love him for his washing machine hugs, forklifts, Eskimo kisses and eye winkers.  I love him for reminding me that even though I didn't walk down the aisle with my graduating class the way I should have, I was still his Valedictorian.  I love him for the way he cut my bangs with his barber clippers, at an angle and way too short.  I love him for waiting up to see me while I made the long, late drive the night before the surgery that eventually took him away.  I love him for begging me to bring him a beer and help him escape at the hospital in the days before he passed.  I love him for letting me stand on his feet while we danced when I was a little girl, and for the way he danced with me again the day my grandma left us behind.  I love him for giving me my grandma's wedding ring and accepting it back when he wasn't ready to part with it yet. 

This man, tall, skinny and seemingly frail was also the strongest man I have ever known.  The foundation he laid for me is the one I can always fall back on when a little remodel work needs to be done.  I love him for never doubting, never judging, never making me second guess where I stood in his heart because when I looked at his gentle, kind, sweet sparkling eyes I always, always knew I was number one and that was something I could take with me anywhere.


Monday, October 1, 2012


In an effort to recommit myself to regular blogging, I've decided it's time to dive headfirst into a writing challenge.  The idea is to pick one topic and write about it everyday for the next 31 days.  Keep it short and simple and then link up with The Nester and share as a way to inspire and create community.  MY GOAL is to just write everyday for 31 days, no over thinking, no over editing, and no judgment.  I chose a topic that will allow me much creativity in my posts.  Short and simple aren't really in my vocabulary so I will give it my best dressed effort and let my fingers do the rest.  My Topic:  UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 Day 1:  BuiLDinG ME    

Blueprints, the basis for every well planned building project.  Doesn't construction flow with a little more ease when you have a good set of plans to follow?  You see my plans have been designed, drafted and drawn.  They already traveled through plan check and were permitted.  A site plan was plotted and ground was broke.  Should be smooth sailing right, an easy build?  Not with this girl as project manager.  In 37 years I have perfected the art of change orders.  In the beginning the foundation work was out of my hands, you'll hear more about that later.  There were rooms built, stairs to nowhere, and many closets too, but we will come back to that another day.  We will take a peek through some of the windows, the ones that look straight into my heart.  A few have been shattered, some replaced with stained glass and others still empty, covered over with plastic and duct tape.  A work in progress, that is what I am. Somewhere between the beginning and the now were those middle phases of construction.  There were a few years that I used a whole lot of caution tape, dealt with condemnation, and eventually had to do a little demolition before I could remodel.  As you can imagine this meant more change orders and those things take time and certainly don't come without a price.  New construction and additions are well underway.  The foundation has been patched and the walls are being reinforced.  Everyday brings something new, finishes are being selected and sometimes the choices can overwhelm.  It's good to know that even if the walls come tumbling down we have the ability to start again and rebuild as many times as it takes.  The end product, something grand, something bigger than we could imagine, something intricate, beautiful and unique.  No two alike, each one of us individually designed and handcrafted by the master architect HIMSELF.  Isn't it amazing to know that HE has invested in our eternity.  If only it were easier to sit back and trust that HIS plans were right the first time.  That they were perfectly designed and drawn, ready to build exactly the way he had planned.  If only we believed that we were a masterpiece before we decided it would be best to take matters into our own hands.

Thursday, July 19, 2012



           UNSCRIPTED, UNEDITED, REAL.......
                          No over thinking, just a flash mob of folks who spend five minutes writing with fury, guts and glory, linking up in one place to share stories that pour from the heart.....this weeks topic is.........

         ENOUGH.........ready, set, GO!

Reminders and warnings that time is short, regrets can't be erased, your words too many spoken from wisdom and experience and regrets of your own, they are not enough.  They are heard, they are nagging, but they aren't understood.

That call that comes....the one that parts the hours between day and night.  That message that can't be erased, the one that tells you he has passed, and you read it and rub your eyes.  You read it again and for a moment you question the difference between reality and bad dreams.  But then you go through the dark, down the hall.  You don't knock on the door, you just walk in and you startle awake the boy who has just lost his fishing buddy, his opinionated but hilarious, calloused hand, scraped knuckle, hard working, tell it like it is while cheering you on, always there in every way that mattered, Gramps.  You watch, and you whisper, and reach out and console in all the ways you know how but your mom arms aren't big enough, and your love isn't loud enough to silence the sound of the tears that drop.

You watch him shatter.  Little pieces that turn big quickly, piercing the heart of a mom who can't be enough to a hurt that is so deep.  And you cry and acknowledge and offer and understand, and it hurts and it aches and it makes you angry and sad and you remember that pain, you've walked through it too.  You remember that only HE is enough.  So you turn and hide, dropping to you knees in your heart and you speak fast and pleading for HIS presence, for the peace and the comfort only HE can give.  You beg that the hurt is only big enough to remind him of a love that was bigger and that the tears only fall long enough to remind him of the laughs that they shared on the lakes that they fished.

You realize that the 20 years he called him Gramps is suppose to be enough, when right now it just isn't.

He calls from the side of the road, late in the night on the drive back home from the first goodbye.  You answer the phone in tears, already knowing that your words and your love aren't enough to quiet the tears on the other end but you try anyway, speaking and soothing and praying and pleading with the only one who is enough to bring the healing.

Friday, July 6, 2012


MMM, It's been a while, too long in fact.  Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo.  The day of the week when we gather around, throw caution to the wind and write for five minutes flat.  No over thinking, no editing, no back tracking, just finger painting with our words.  Then link up, pass the plate and encourage the one who shared before you.  Ready, Set, GO!

This weeks prompt...STORY!

Oh yes, THIS STORY OF MINE, the one that begins with once upon a time......through adventure and comedy, action and drama, births and deaths, abuse and romance, a life that knows tribulation but dances in celebration of the triumphs.

From the country to the city and back again, the plot is unfolding.  The scenes have been written.  A wild cast of characters in THIS STORY OF MINE.  Some shattered and broken, some shiny and new.  Each one soldered together, a kaleidoscope of color, shapes and sizes, these heroes and villains who illustrate the everyday I tiptoe through. 

There are pages, whole chapters in fact that I once wished to erase, to edit and rewrite, to rip out and crumble.  Oh but that was before the season of now.  The season in which HE shows me that without those pages I couldn't be here.  For this is the chapter that HE has punctuated with surrender, grace, mercy, faith, hope and TRUST.  This divine author has written a page turner, but I am flipping the pages as slowly as I can.  Marinating in every moment, listening to the sweet, beautiful music, and breathing in life and love.  When this story ends and the final page is turned, the real fairytale will only be just beginning.

John 1:1 ~In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


Monday, June 11, 2012


Okay, many of you have read this before.  It is something I wrote two years ago for Brandon's 18th birthday and high school graduation.  Here we are, same season, 2 years later.  How is it possible that I have a son turning 20? is unbelievable the way time flies.  While it seems that it should get easier each year to let go a little bit more, it doesn't.  The grip he has on my heart just gets tighter and tighter.  I re-read this today while thinking about him and the fact that as of tomorrow he will no longer be a teenager.....


Once upon a time, I dreamed of a baby, and God blessed me with you.
First I fell in love with the idea of you, then I heard your beautiful heartbeat and I was hooked.  The day you arrived, you forever changed my world and everything that mattered.

Once upon a time, I swaddled you tightly and carried you home,
and you cried, and you cried and you cried, but only at 2 a.m., and I loved you even more.

Once upon a time, I did nothing all day long but hold you in my arms and sing to you. The first time you gazed so deeply into my heart and smiled, my insides melted and ached with overwhelming joy, and I loved you even more.

Once upon a time, at barely 9 months old you stumbled awkwardly across Grandma Judy's living room, wearing a yellow blanket sleeper. Not a step or two but the whole distance, and that's when I realized the world better watch out because you were amazing.

Once upon a time we spent hours chasing butterflies across the backyard, stomping in puddles, pushing trucks through the dirt, and squealing with laughter. And you sampled your first ribs, and pickles and lemons and I giggled at the look on your face.

Once upon a time, you twirled across the stage and dazzled the judges with your dimples, and they crowned you Mr. Hawaiian Tropic Prince and I was delighted.

Once upon a time we moved to Oregon, and I dropped you off at daycare for the very first time. You waved goodbye with such confidence, and I cried. Then came kindergarten and again you trotted down the hall wondering why I had to walk you to class and you couldn't go on your own. And I knew you would be okay but I held your hand anyway.

Once upon a time I watched your first t-ball game, and then indoor soccer, and I realized your were an athlete, I was in awe of you.

Once upon a time I chased you through the tunnels, and down the slides at Superplay. We discovered Sand Lake and camped, and camped and camped. You yelled to go faster as we tore through the dunes in our sand rail, you had no fear. We celebrated birthdays 3, 4 and 5 and I loved you even more.

Once upon a time our lives changed, and we met a man who loved us both with all his heart. You gained a sister who would turn out to be your worst enemy and very best friend, depending on the day. And that is when my squeaky clean, city boy, went country and began his journey to who he was always meant to be. And I loved you even more.


Once upon a time you asked for a chainsaw for your 8th birthday, and then you fell your first tree in our front yard, and I was scared. You rode on the CAT, and played in the dirt. You caught 1 fish, then 2 and it became a hobby.

Once upon a time you and a boy named Zach, and girl named Chelsea were inseparable. You rode bicycles down hills and hunted for squirrels. You learned the hard way, that you must eat what you hunt, while you barbequed a blue jay.


Once upon a time, you wanted to play football, you were 8, and weighed 52 lbs. We spent all day Sundays on the football field for the next 6 years. We made lifelong friendships on those sidelines. Those Sundays were my favorites.

And then you turned 9, and we bought you a dirtbike. We watched you climb on, take off, and go full speed ahead, right into the side of my car, and I laughed, I just couldn't help it.

Once upon a time you turned 10, and sat upon your papa Kenny's lap while he gifted you your very first gun, and a hunter was born. It was a very special day, and we have the picture to prove it.

Once upon a time you were 11, and I doubted my skills as a parent, I was researching military school, and then you turned 12, and we survived.

Once upon a time we spent days at the beach running in waves, and weeks at the mountain learning to board, and in those vacations we made memories that will last me a lifetime.


Once upon a time, we moved to Redway and met Missy, Jeff, Savannah and Grant, and they became your second family. Although it has never been easy to share you, they have always been there for you and loved you like their own. For that I can never thank them enough, and will eternally be grateful, because you have not only one family to love you, but two. You are a lucky guy.




Once upon a time you headed off to high school and four years of your life have passed by far too quickly. I have watched you wrestle and run, play football , basketball and baseball. It was sitting on the sidelines that I learned and I realized I will always be your biggest cheerleader and fan, and sometimes your toughest critic.

Once upon a time you shot your first buck, and your first turkey, caught your first fish in Alaska, and brought home wild pig for the dinner table. You always seem your happiest when heading off to Nanny's ranch or on to the river for a weekend outdoor adventure, and that is such a big part of what makes you so special.


Once upon a time, you turned 16 and learned to drive, and I was frightened, and appreciative that I wasn't the one teaching you. Once upon a time you stepped of the school bus and into your truck, and I didn't want you to grow up because time was passing too quickly.

Once upon a time you went to your first prom and had your first girlfriend, you were so handsome. You went to your first parties and I worried, and never slept a wink until you were safely home.

Once upon a time you stepped onto the field as a high school quarterback, something you earned and deserved. I took way too many pictures because I was so excited.

Once upon a time I stood by your side while you said goodbye to your grandma, the tears fell freely and my heart broke because I couldn't take away the pain.



Once upon a time you thought I was the meanest, toughest, strictest mom in the world, and I prayed for wisdom. Every boundary I have set, rule I have made, NO I have shouted has been with your best interest at heart. I know that it is hard to believe, and right now you don't understand, but someday you will.........I am the meanest mom ever because I love you more than life itself.


Once upon a time I heard parents talk about how excited they were for their kids to graduate, move out, and become independent, and I just didn't understand. I want the opposite, to stop time, to keep you close and to never have to let you go.


Once upon a time, I wished for a baby and God gave me you...and for that I am humbled. I know that you are destined for great things, and you can have everything you dream of in life. Letting go of control and watching you do it on your own will be very difficult for me. I know you are ready even though I am not. No matter what road you travel, always remember that home is just around the bend, and I will always be there for you with my arms and my heart wide open. I will never be able to express to you how much I love and how proud you make me. I am so excited to see the once upon a times that lie ahead while you make the journey to your happily ever after.