Bloom Where You’re Planted

Dan and I watched a movie the other night called Passengers.  It was about a guy on a spaceship that was travelling to an outpost to start a new life.  He and all the other 5,000 passengers were placed in suspended animation in these special pods for the 90 year journey.  Something went wrong with his pod, and he woke up on the ship with 89 years still left in the journey, rather than waking up 4 months before arriving at their destination as planned.

It was a very thought provoking movie, because I think we all go through periods where we struggle and rail against how things are versus how we thought they would be.  As a child you think that adulthood will be this wonderful thing because you can do whatever you want, rather than just what your parents and teachers tell you to do.  And it is a wonderful thing, but you have to deal with your responsibilities, so it’s not as easy as your childhood fantasy envisions.

As a young couple you imagine having children, and how awesome it will be to become parents.  And it is awesome!  But you cannot fathom just how overwhelming it can be until you’re living the reality.  The complete and utter exhaustion you feel when your infant is waking up every two hours to nurse and you can only daydream about ever actually sleeping again.  The unbelievably large number of times that you will have to clean pee, poo, and “spit up” off your baby, yourself, (and any and every) nearby surrounding.  The utter defiance of your strong willed nearly two year old who no longer wants to wear what you picked out, but insists upon choosing her own outfits as she learns to assert her independence.  Thankfully, these moments are balanced out by hearing your child excitedly exclaim “Mama!” or “Dada!” as soon as they see you.  And the peace of feeling them contentedly snuggled into your arms or sitting on your lap.  And the sheer delight of hearing them laugh or giggle, truly one of my favorite sounds in the world!  And the overwhelming joy that fills your heart when they hug you, or give you wet, slobbery “smooches”, or say, “I love you”.

Don’t even get me started on how completely wonderful it is to experience these things as a grandparent.  My heart nearly burst the first time Lila said “I love you” back to me!  And the aching joy I felt when I had her giggling and laughing uproariously when we played “This little piggy” during a car ride, sustains me when we have to go months without flying up to visit.

Life can be very challenging.  We all go through tough times where we worry about our family, our friends, our finances, our health, and every other situation that tests us.  But constantly thinking that life would be better if only we lived, worked, had, or did something or somewhere else, robs us of the joy of loving where we are at.

Do you ever stop to consider that the trials you are going through are moments of learning?  They are teaching you something, and preparing you for the next moment in life.  Are you learning patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love?  Are you gaining wisdom and experience so that you can deal with the next challenge in your life?

Instead of yearning for the next thing, the next place, the next person, appreciate the wonder of this moment in life.  In other words, bloom where you’re planted!  Don’t worry, life will keep on happening.  And soon enough you’ll grow, leaves reaching toward the sun, growing stronger, and branching out.

sunrise 10-22-18

A Little Help

My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter flew down for a visit this week, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day at the beach.  We walked the beach, built sand castles, played in the ocean, and were enjoying the wonderful day.

ocean play

A couple in their young thirties were walking past, and I complimented the gentleman on his cool track chair.  I like seeing people who are differently abled have the tools and technology to be able to enjoy something we take for granted, like enjoying a day at the beach.  He asked my husband and son if one of them would be willing to carry him into the water.  He explained that he would drive his chair closer to the water so it wouldn’t be so far, and his wife demonstrated the proper lifting technique.  Our son quickly stepped forward and helped his wife carry him into the ocean.

Everyone enjoyed playing in the water, and the gentleman tried to give me tips on mastering the boogie board.  “Start swimming before the wave gets to you so that you’re going the same speed as the wave.”  I did more bobbing like a cork than truly riding the waves, but it sure was fun!  I was truly impressed by his swimming skills because the waves were quite strong and breaking pretty hard.  Even when they washed over his head, he continued to swim with just the use of his arms.  His wife frequently walked up to shore to check on his sweet service dog.

When we took a little break, our son let the dog sniff his hand, gave him some pets and back scratches, and the dog backed into his legs for more pets and attention.  He obviously sensed that our son loves his own dogs and knows just how to give a proper back scratch and rub! 🙂  The couple spent an hour or two playing in the surf before our son helped carry him back to the track chair.

As a rather shy person, I was thinking about how hard it has to be to ask someone, a complete stranger, for help.  Especially asking them to do a more physically demanding and personal task like carrying you into the water.  How hard is it for you to ask for help?  Is it easier for you to help others than to ask for help yourself?  We all need a little help sometimes.

Life can feel challenging at times, and that is the perfect time to pray and ask God for help.  If you’re not used to prayer and talking to God, it can be awkward because you may feel like you don’t know what to say.  I think just having a conversation like you would with a friend is a great way to start.  Say what’s on your mind (it doesn’t have to be out loud, it can be a conversation in your heart).  God listens.

I am loving being able to spend time with my family, and build precious memories with my granddaughter.  I hope that you are enjoying some conversation with God and Jesus, are willing to ask for help, as well as to step forward and help.  We had a wonderful Palm Sunday, and look forward to Easter.  Enjoy this Holy Week in anticipation of the glory to come!
Lila shovels

 

What A Week!

From Illness To Gratefulness

I am finally recovering from a week of influenza and it feels so good to be upright!  I was literally down for the count for a week, laying in bed, slowly walking to the sofa or dining table, and back to bed.  I hate being sick, feeling dependent on others, and not having my normal energy and routine.

My husband was a champ!  He made me food, did the dishes and laundry, and took excellent care of me.  I told him how much I appreciated him taking care of me, and he said, “You’re always taking care of me and would do the same for me.  It’s not a big deal.”  While it’s true that it may not have been a big deal to him, it meant a great deal to me.  When you are naturally a caregiver, it’s interesting to see it from the other side.

When you are constantly taking care of others, of the household, of your children, etc., you can easily get irritated or feel a little bit resentful.  “Gah!  I just vacuumed and you’re tracking dirt everywhere!”  “Ugh!  Sweaty, gross gym clothes to wash and they are laying on top of my outfit in the laundry basket and getting it all stinky!”  And of course you’ll make eggs for breakfast when you’d much rather make banana pecan waffles topped with strawberries and blueberries because you know he’d prefer the protein.

I generally don’t complain about the inconveniences (OK, other than the tracking in dirt!), because caring means that you are doing these things out of love.  And really, it’s not hard to do any of it, and it really isn’t a sacrifice.  It’s just the way it works for your family.  Everybody has to do their part to make their family life work.  Maybe your family dynamic is different, and you’re the main breadwinner, and someone else has more time for the household.  Or maybe you are responsible for everything yourself.  Everybody has to participate in making life work.

But working joyfully, and cheerfully giving, that decision is up to you.  I can tell you that life is happier, you are happier when you move through life with a happy heart.  Is life always easy?  Do things always go perfectly according to your plans?  Of course not!  We all have worries and concerns.  Maybe you are struggling financially, maybe someone you love and care for is sick, or injured, or dying.  Maybe you just feel like life is beating you down.  We have all been there.  Everyone has struggles.  How we face those struggles is the question.

Do you think that you have to carry the burden alone?  On the surface, it may appear to you that you do.  But you don’t.  There is always someone you can talk to, someone who will listen, someone who will lighten the load.

Talk to God, talk to Jesus.  Surrender your heart, look, and listen for the little spark of joy.  There is beauty and happiness everywhere.  What are you grateful for?  What can you do for others?  What small look, gentle touch, gesture of friendship or love can you give?  Because that is the secret.  Opening your heart to God, praying and listening for His voice.  Giving of ourselves, rather than just focusing on what we “deserve”, what I think the world “owes” me.  Be grateful to the one who gives us all the opportunity for everlasting life.

And don’t forget to say thank you to the people God has placed in your life.  The ones who take the time to care for, or be kind to you.  Pet the cute kitty who snuggled you while you were sick.  Hug the loving husband who kept you fed when you didn’t have the strength to make your own meal.  And talk to God, open your heart, feed your soul.  Be grateful for whatever crazy, wonderful life you have.

Lila Prints

Clean it up Grandma!

We recently replaced the trim around our mirrored coat closet doors.  While wiping down the filled nail holes so I could paint, I looked at the mirrored doors once again.  It’s not that I don’t see them every day, because I do.  I walk past them probably 20 times a day.  And I once again glanced at the Lila prints all over them.

I know that I should clean them off.  Some people might be horrified by the fact that I’ve left dirty fingerprints on my closet doors for nearly two months.  But they’re a tangible reminder of Lila’s last visit.  And I miss that baby girl!

Jennifer is very good at Facetiming with us on a very regular basis.  In fact, we got to see and chat with her and Lila earlier today.  It is awesome to have the everyday technology to be able to see and hear people you love by simply making a phone call.  I love the way Lila’s face lights up as soon as she sees me on the screen.  I enjoy seeing her run around the house (with Mama chasing after her to try and keep her in view!)  It’s fun to see her pull book after book off the shelf to look at, “read”, or just toss on the floor.  She played with a new wooden puzzle this morning, and carefully removed and replaced the pieces.  She likes her stuffed lambs, and it’s cute to see her hug them and carry one around.

We are blessed to have the technology to keep the connections.  I love being able to see Lila wave “bye bye”, and to blow her kisses when we have to say goodbye.  I love that she tries to reach through the computer to touch me.  And I so wish that I could reach through the screen and have her here with me!  But for now I have to content myself with the Lila hand and foot print ornaments from the last two Christmases.

Lila ornaments

These simple little gifts are so precious!  They are a reminder of just how little she was that first Christmas, and how much she has grown in the past year.  And since I have them, I guess I really should go clean the Lila prints off the mirrored closet doors!

Lila 1-18-19

Grandma loves you baby girl!

Welcome 2019

The sun has set on 2018 and 2019 is here.  Many people make resolutions of things they want to change or accomplish in the new year.  I remember celebrating New Year’s Eve at our brother and sister-in-laws home maybe 25 years ago when we all wrote our resolutions on a piece of paper, and put them in a shoebox.  Our sister-in-law put the box up on top of the china cabinet and said we should read them in a year.  I don’t recall if that’s what we did, but I do remember that my resolution was for us to buy a house.

It’s fun to recall memories of time spent with people we love.  It may or may not be so pleasant to recall the events of the past year.  Perhaps we have lost someone we care about, or lost a job, had a health scare, or aren’t happy with our current situation in life.  We have little or no control over some of these things, but we can work and make changes to help with others.  Everyone knows that they should eat healthier, and probably need to exercise more.  Taking a different perspective, improving our attitude, and putting in the hard work that is necessary can help us to change things.

One thing though that should be a constant in our lives is increasing our faith and reliance on God.  That may not be a particularly “cool” thing to do in today’s society, where popular culture tells us that even if God is real, we don’t really need Him.  You might think that too.  But what do you do when things are tough?  Who do you rely on?  Who do you thank when things are good and life seems to be going well?

I can tell you that I have faced hard things in life, the deaths of my Dad and all of my grandparents.  The unexpected and shocking death of our 35 year old niece comes to mind.  Like nearly everyone, we have faced financial challenges, health concerns, and dealt with all the normal problems and issues that arise in life.  But the problems have not overtaken me, because I have faith.  Sometimes it seems so hard to put it in God’s hands.  We like to try to control everything.  (Insert sound effect of a buzzer here, eeeee!)  Nope!  We can’t!  I have peace of mind because of my faith in God, in Jesus.  No matter how insurmountable our problems may seem, it will all work out in the end.

If you feel like you’ve lost your faith, or don’t think that you’ve ever had it, I invite you to open your heart.  God does not demand faith.  He doesn’t push His way into your life.  He knocks on the door and waits to be invited in.  That tiny little spark of desire in your heart?  Feed it!  Read the Bible, go to Mass, visit a church, pray, and talk to God.  Nourish your soul.

Go ahead and make your resolutions to workout, go to the gym, eat healthier, lose weight, etc.  But you can accomplish so much more and live a calmer, happier life by increasing your faith.  I challenge you to truly open your heart to God.  Invite Him into your life.  Put your troubles, problems, and desires in His hands.  Trust Him, talk to Him, and let peace and joy enter your life.

sunset 12-30-18

The sun has set on 2018, and 2019 is here.  Let the new calendar year be the beginning of a better year with the peace of Christ in your heart.

A Thankful Heart

What Are You Thankful For?

On this day of giving thanks, it’s not uncommon to reflect on what you are thankful for.  Some families have the tradition of everyone at the dinner table taking turns sharing something that they appreciate.  I am very grateful for the people and experiences in my life.  Even when everything is not exactly how you wish it could be, life is still so wonderful!

For instance, this is the first Thanksgiving that we won’t have either of our children at the dinner table with us.  For the last seven years or so, we have spent Thanksgiving in Tennessee with our daughter and son-in-law and his Mom (and Dad, until his passing).  This year, with the drive being a bit too long to be practical, and flights not working out with Dan’s work schedule, our plans changed.  Our son and his fiancée are out of town for a well-deserved weekend vacation.  So I am grateful that we took them and my Mom (who was visiting us) out to dinner last weekend.

I am thankful that our niece and her family are hosting an extended family Thanksgiving at their home today.  Dan will enjoy the crazy brother bonding time that he doesn’t get to have often enough.  We will be spending time with people we love.  There will be laughter and giggles, food and fun, silliness and seriousness, selfies and photos galore.  We’ll all end up tired, (and perhaps a bit frazzled!) from the noise and inevitable chaos.  But our bellies and hearts will be full after spending time together.

So what else am I thankful for?  I am so grateful for my faith!  Christ has sustained me and my family, and my life is so good because of it.  I think it’s obvious that my family is super important to me!  My husband is my rock, my true love and my best friend.

Dan & I 11-20-18

We have wonderful children (including their significant others) and a granddaughter who brings joy and light into our hearts.  I am also appreciative of every beautiful sunrise and sunset that I am blessed to see in this wonderful, sunny paradise where I live.  The roar and crash of the waves, the gentle breeze, and the soft sand under my toes as I walk near the ocean bring me peace and joy.

sunset 11-20-18

I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving!  Take a minute to reflect and please let me know what you are thankful for.