Choosing to Really See (An Empower Up Project Story)

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I was blessed to write a piece for The Empower Up Project yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, this amazing community/website “was created to provide ALL women with a platform where we can help each other grow, succeed and collaborate.” It was founded by the awesome Kim Albano, a leadership and development consultant doing the work of lifting women up and helping them go after their dreams. I am honored to play a little part in her vision of empowerment with a grace story that I wrote in view of my sister’s joy-filled perspective on life despite her daily struggle with the effects of breast cancer.

For those of you who are new to Grace for the Wasted Space and don’t know my sister’s story, check it out here. For those of you who need some light shed on your dark path right now, come on over to The Empower Up Project and see what I learned while watching my sister go through the greatest battle of her short life. Maybe you know someone that needs a little hope in this season. Maybe you need some?

I’ll leave you with this heartfelt quote from my piece and hope it resonates with you:

“We don’t have to say much to understand each other’s hearts. The seagulls squawking over a child’s sandy snack in the distance say what we’re both thinking: There’s just not enough to go around, is there? Or so it would seem. There are too many unfulfilled needs to be met. Too many broken hearts to be mended. Too many desperately lost to be saved. “

The Grey Sweater

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Hey gang!

I’m over on Her View From Home today talking about the very personal topic of losing my Dad. I have been on a journey in and out of grief for the past five years. People say that time heals and, on some level, I agree. I also believe, however, that allowing the memories to linger even it causes pain is okay, too. I’ve learned how to trust in the goodness of God despite life getting more and more unpredictable. I’ve gone through anxiety and depression due to the very uneven terrain of my life.

But, there is one thing I know. I am stronger because of the pain. I am able to help others in their grief because I know what it feels like to endure hardship. I can be a voice for those who don’t know how to speak about their loss. And I will press through the feelings to get to the deep truth of security in Christ.

I will write until I can’t write anymore if it helps YOU. So, I invite you to participate in my journey of growth through grief and read my piece HERE. 

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The Grey Sweater

A Time to Heal

hold on to the promise of freedom that tomorrow morning brings.

It’s spring. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the daffodils and daisies awakening to the morning sun. Colorful lilies are frequenting the open fields and tulips are adorning the neighborhood gardens. What a wonderful display these lovely flowers put on for our enjoyment!

It’s easier for me to smile when I have glittering yellows and blues in my line of sight. My day is inevitably brighter when the warmth of the sun melts the frost from my wintry pale soul. Longer days make me jump with glee because it just means I get more time to spend outside in the healing rays. That’s what the sunshine is by the way. Healing. Oh, how I need some of that these days. My winter was harsher than years past due to a family tragedy and my heart hasn’t had the chance to really recover just yet.

Recovery. That goes right along with healing, doesn’t it? Maybe the welcoming smile of the cumulus clouds above are inviting me into a new space. A sunny place. One where I can run and play as I did when I was young. How I miss the ease of childhood, the naivety that youth brings, the fresh discovery that lingered in the air of my early years.

I want to be there again. Before life became wrought with trauma and pain. But I can’t go back. None of us can ever go back. We have to live with that truth. The funny thing about truth, though, is that in a strange and unguarded way,  it sets you free. Even when we don’t realize it, acceptance of the simple things that have always been and will always be, liberates the hurt right out of us.

Take the earth beneath our feet. It may be wet with dew or dry with cracks, but it’s still there for us to walk on. And it always will be. Those bulbs of spring that are awakening to new life after a long slumber in the dark can be counted on to make an appearance every year. Sure, a late frost might threaten their blooms but even so, they can be replanted, reborn.

Reborn. Another one of those words that brings comfort to my nostalgic heart. The pure simplicity of starting over in a world that is constantly on the edge of disaster makes me hopeful for the new.

Sing loud and strong, springtime song.

I have been in the frigid dark for way too long.

So I open my eyes and squint at the sun. I let the truth whisper through the wind that my time for renewal has arrived. And I hold on to the promise of freedom that tomorrow morning brings.

Home Sweet Home

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Home. There’s nothing like it. It can be a feeling that certain memories conjure up. A picture from when you were 5 that takes you right back. Smells from the kitchen during Christmas-time. Whatever home is for you, you know it when you feel it.

My childhood house was sold a few years ago. I was a married adult with 4 kids when this happened. I had been away from the house for 12 years. Yet, it hurt to say goodbye. And everytime I go back to my hometown, I get sad when I pass by this place I called home for so long.

Is it because of the structure,  paint color, or swimming pool out back? Yes and No. I miss that house because of what it represents. 

You see, the structure provided stability to my ever-wandering teenage self. It gave me a foundation to hold on to when boys broke my heart. I may have been a restless soul but I never left without the possibility of return. It never even occurred to me to leave it for good. Yet I did drift away for many years, forgetting how amazing that strong house had been to me. That’s what a good framework does, though. It gives you a solid covering but never forces you to stay under it.

The paint color throughout the house, well, it changed almost as much as my whimsical personality. And I loved that. The more paint that went up, the more freedom I felt to be me. I was, after all, the carefree one with a variety of hairstyles/colors to show for it. Each layer of paint stood for a season in our lives, good or bad. My bedroom was a sunny yellow though, because that had always been my favorite color. The yellow stayed on my walls because, despite the different seasons, I never forgot what made me “me.”

Lastly, the swimming pool in the back yard stands for too much to put into words. Afternoons laying out on a float listening to country music on the radio. Night swims with my high school friends. Deep conversations barely heard above the chirping crickets. Laughing with my sister as we joked about past crushes and how our lives turned out so differently than we thought they would. Mom and dad holding hands on the porch. This pool was an escape, a welcomed time of rest and play, and a distraction from the haunting reality that life would inevitably throw our way a few years down the road.

Home. It’s more than just a word that evokes an emotional response. It’s a way of living that you get to keep in your heart long past the day you move out. A knowing deep down inside that those doors and fences were meant for you to continue to grab hold of even after you leave. They have erected themselves anew in my grown up soul. And no matter where I live, those walls are a part of me. Because those people are a part of me. And no amount of new paint can ever change that.

Some may call this nostalgia or say that I’m just homesick. But I say, forgetting where you come from means you don’t really know where you are going.

photo credit: Wooden door and wooden sleigh via photopin (license)

A Time to Reminisce

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Who doesn’t enjoy a trip down memory lane from time to time?

I have been in a very sentimental mood for the past 2 weeks for reasons that I talk about here and here.  And my ability to care about keeping up appearances has definitely gone in the trash with my mascara streaked tissues.

It’s healing, this looking back and remembering what used to be. It really is. I’ve gone through so many pictures of my childhood and teenage years that my bed has become an enormous scrapbook of cluttered memories.  I cry and cry at the fact that those remembered times will never be the same again because my view is now distorted by major loss.

But after I cry, after I grieve the “never will be the same agains” of my past, I feel like I can breathe just a little bit easier than I could before the tears fell.

Like I can finally take a full breath without falling down from lightheaded-ness. And then I try to be productive for a few hours before the next wave of “what used to be” crashes in on me.

Ya know what I’m learning about the mourning process? It’s okay to be a fragile mess for a while and I don’t have to apologize for it. 

When I give myself permission to be a basket-case and watch sappy chick flicks that I used to watch with my sister and drink hot tea because it was her favorite pastime and listen to our favorite beach trip songs and read old letters just to see her handwriting and relive years past through Homecoming pictures, then I can begin to heal.

I’m not living in denial of the devastating facts involved in my present reality. I’m just choosing to enjoy the heartwarming truths represented in my past reality a little bit longer.

And as I long for what once was, I become more and more grateful for the lifelong affects my sweet childhood memories will have on me. I am eternally grateful for the tangible things that point to happy times.

So I reminisce with purpose, one could say. Tomorrow will come soon enough and I am even better prepared for what may come as I reflect on the joys of yesterday.

“Memory is a way of holding onto

the things you love,

the things you are,

the things you never want to lose.”

The Wonder Years

 

photo credit: SISTERLY. via photopin (license)

Comfort Food

photo credit: Kraft Dinner. Canada's national food. via photopin (license)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most nostalgic meals of my childhood would have to be macaroni and cheese…with hot dogs in it. My dad even had a song he would sing when he was making it to get us excited about the very simple and inexpensive dinner.

“Macaroni and cheese (macaroni and cheese),

that’s what I like (that’s what I like)!”

He would sing each phrase and my sister and I would echo them back in similar fashion. Over and over and over again… My dad could make a song out of anything. In fact, I’ve been told I do the same thing.

What’s funny is that he was trying to get us excited over this dish because it was all we could afford at that time in my young life. We weren’t rolling in the dough by any means. Did my sister and I even notice the slim pickings, though? Nope. We never cared that it was a cheap, quick fix meal. In fact, we loved eating it (even if it was 2 or 3 times in one week!)

I have such great memories of my dad singing cheerily in the kitchen. I remember helping him stir the pot with the noodles and gooey cheese. All I can do is smile when I think about those times.

And, isn’t that really what life is supposed to be about anyways? Being positive in the midst of the not-so-positive situations? Turning little into much by serving it with LOVE?  My parents may not have had a lot of money at that time but they were happy. We were happy. 

So, I gladly make this warm and comforting dish for my children in an effort to somehow, someway, show them that life is in the living, not in the having. And I can only pray that they will look back on these days of frugal living with their own little ones and pass on the gift of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it.