Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The LOVE of a young boy's heart

Yesterday afternoon as I was leaving Kohl's Department store on South 27th Street, a young black boy was standing just outside the door and called out something to me that I couldn't quite catch so I leaned in closer and he said, "Could I please have 1 or 2 dollars so I can take my mom out to dinner for her birthday tonight?"

I must admit right here that my "red flags" went up. Who is this boy? Is this some sort of scam? I thought. It's unfortunate how naturally it was for my first thought to be one of judgment, instead of mercy.

But then I looked into his tear-filled eyes and I KNEW. This was NO SCAM - this sweet boy NEEDED HELP. He needed MY help right then.

I knew I wasn't just going to hand over some money to him so I began asking him some questions, and was QUITE astonished, humbled, AMAZED - whatever you want to call it, when he told me his story:

His name Is Breoine and he is 11 years old in the 6th grade. He took 3 BUSES from 60th & Silver Spring Drive to the south side to collect some money that a friend owed him - $26.00 to be exact. It was just enough money to cover both of their dinners plus a soda at Old Country Buffet (his mom's favorite restaurant). You see - it was her birthday and they didn't have enough money to go out to dinner. His aunt was due to arrive at 3:30pm to pick them up, but she could only afford her meal, not theirs.

Unfortunately, his friend didn't show up at the bus stop like he said he was going to. And I don't think he knew how to get to his house and he had no phone to call him. Poor Breoine didn't know what to do.........he told his mom he would be back at 3:30p.m. (it was now 2:30pm) with the money so they could go out to dinner.

He knew he didn't want to return empty handed so he had started walking around in front of Kohl's asking people for a few dollars, hoping to collect enough money and get home by 3:30pm. He told me he really hadn't had much luck collecting anything but a few dollars.

And that's when he ran into ME. Remember - I don't believe in "coincidences" so I KNEW I needed to help him in someway. But how?

Well, I immediately went into action. I knew I needed to get him home safely and very soon, with $26 in his pocket. I knew I wasn't about to put him back on the bus, that's for sure. Plus it was COLD outside.

I asked him if he would feel comfortable coming with me in my car; that I would drive him home and give him the money so he could take his mom out to dinner.  I explained how he should never get in the car with a "stranger", but in this case I felt like God, out of His great LOVE for HIM, placed me in his life at the perfect moment to help him. I told him that he could trust me. He agreed probably out of desperation and hopelessness at this point. What other choice did he have, really?

I brought him first to our house to tell Mark what was going on (I must say he was quite surprised at what I came home with this time :)) I also wanted Breoine to meet my family for some reason. I wanted MY KIDS to meet him because I knew there had to be a lesson to be learned for all of us. Naturally, he was afraid of dogs so poor Daisy May had to be put in a separate room. We invited him in to get warm, offered him some food/drink. Mark and the kids chatted with him a bit. What a nice, sweet, innocent boy......trying SO hard to give his momma a good birthday. Doing whatever it took - Wow! -  now THAT is LOVE in action!

Megan decided to ride along with us and off we went. Thankfully, he knew his address and my little lady (GPS) directed me to his house without a hitch.

I used our time in the car to get to know Breoine better. There are a total of 5 kids (ages 18, 15, 13, 11, 6 - 3 boys and 2 girls), plus mom living in their house. Dad comes around here and there. Actually he said there are 2 different dad's that come around. Mom use to work at McDonald's and was going to school, but somehow is now disabled in some way and out of work and school; "she's in A LOT of pain",  he said. So this year he said no one got ANY Christmas presents because there just wasn't any money. He said in the past they've always gotten shoes, clothes, and maybe a board game.

My biggest concern was whether or not he or his siblings were being neglected or abused in some way. I didn't get that feeling. They weren't going hungry, they had a home to live in.....he obviously loved his mom and his siblings a lot. Good, I thought.

BUT then I asked him if they had enough clothes. He said what he had on was all he owned because his cousin had been stealing his clothes and now there was no money to buy him anymore. Oh my! I thought as my heart was breaking. And all along there was Megan in the back seat saying nothing, just listening. What in the world is SHE thinking as she hears his story?

He didn't want me to drop him off at his house because he figured his mom would be upset with him getting a ride from a complete stranger (good idea!) So I pulled into a McDonald's parking lot within walking and viewing distance from his house and let him out.

Before he shut the door, Megan wrote on a small piece of paper my cell phone number. I told him to tuck it away in a safe place, and that if he ever needed anything, or was ever scared or in trouble, that he could call me anytime.

He smiled and I noticed something different in his eyes when he said "Thank You." And then he shut the door. We watched him walk to his house, and just before entering his door, he turned around and waved at us.

Phew! Our drive home was quiet. I was trying to process it all. It was like I had been in a dream. Did this really happen? I wondered. What are we suppose to do with this information now?

As usual with me, I began thinking about the lesson that was suppose to be learned through all of this, for us, for him. Possibly we ALL needed to learn something from what happened yesterday afternoon.

What I do KNOW FOR SURE is that I learned (and hopefully my kids, too):
  • How strong LOVE is. How LOVE can motivate you to do anything. It can give you Strength when you have none. LOVE gives you Hope
  • How far and deep a son's love is for his mother. Any child for that matter.
  • To be grateful for everything we have. To be thankful to simply have another outfit to change into.
  • HOW MUCH our kids got for Christmas this year, and this family got nothing.
  •  When in doubt, always go with your "gut".
  •  If you feel Peace, then that's a good sign.
  •  You should always try to believe the best in people.
  •  Sometimes you just need to take that "extra step" to help someone out, even if it is out of your comfort zone.
  •  Prejudice serves no purpose. 
  •  I know that I can't save the world, but that I can sure do my part.
I feel appreciative that my kids saw this kind of love in action.
I feel humbled to have been chosen to help him; that I was given the opportunity to extend him grace and mercy because I know that is what I would've wanted if I were HIM.
I am so grateful that I didn't pass him by out of busyness or judgment.
I feel so thankful that we learned, as a family, in a very tangible way about how much we are blessed.

Oh, we have some ideas in the "works" for the Walker family. On ways we can pass along LOVE to their family and to show Christ's LOVE to them even more. To BLESS them, as we have been BLESSED. Isn't that what Life is all about?

May you also be humbled by this story as I have. May you also learn something from his story that will change your life in some way. May you view LOVE in a whole different way, possibly from the view of a young boy who was simply trying to give his mom a great birthday, and the great lengths he was willing to go through to make that happen: to make his mom feel special on her day. Wow!

And to simple see, as I have, that IT IS ALL ABOUT LOVE.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Glory of It All


Oh the Glory of it All
David Crowder Band

At the start
He was there, He was there
In the end,
He’ll be there, He’ll be there

And after all our hands have wrought
He forgives

Oh the Glory of it all is:
He came here
For the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all
for the glory of it all

All is lost
find Him there, find Him there
After night
Dark is there, Dawn is there

After all falls apart
He repairs He repairs

Oh the Glory of it all is:
He came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all

oh He is here
for the redemption for my soul
that we may live
for the glory of it all
oh the glory of it all
the glory of it all
oh the glory of it all

After night
comes the light
dawn is here
dawn is here
it’s a new day
it’s a new day
everything will change
things will never be the same
we will never be the same
we will never be the same
we will never be the same
we will never be the same

Oh, The glory of it all is
you came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all

Oh you are here
with redemption for us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all
for the glory of it all
oh the glory of it all

I am 38-years old and I think this is the first Christmas that I have truly started to grasp The Glory of It All - the true meaning of THIS day - Christ's Birthday: December 25th.

And when I listen to this song by the David Crowder Band, I am humbly reminded, once again, of the true meaning of Christmas Day.

I hope my children grasp this much, much sooner than I have.

Every year at this time I struggle with: How many presents are too many for the kids? Are we spending too much money? Did we do this or that ENOUGH this year in Jesus' name for HIS birthday? How do we keep JESUS as the center of the holiday in the midst of all the chaos? How do I, me - personally, Lori, keep Jesus as MY focus?

I struggle with feeling like each year that we have failed them (and God) in someway. Like we didn't focus on JESUS enough or something. I know it's not about feeling guilty, but it is so EASY to go there. 

Well, this year as I watched the kids tear into their presents (isn't that a crazy sight to see?), I realized that they DO know what THIS day is about. It is what they've heard and been taught all of their lives. They know THIS DAY IS ABOUT JESUS, but they are simply kids, naturally getting caught up in all the "fun", just like we adults can so simply do as well.

What they DON'T GET, at least I don't think so, and what I am just starting to get right now is,  
The Glory Of It All.

He could have shown up in the richest, most beautiful mansion clothed in rich garments, but instead.......God sent His only Son to Earth in the form of a baby under those dire circumstances to RESCUE US because we sure needed it, and God knew it. He was willing to watch His only Son suffer and die out of His LOVE FOR each one of us. That is how much He wants us restored to Him.

It's that simple: JESUS is the GIFT. 
 And it is all about Love.

If we could ALL just grasp that TODAY, Christ's Birthday...It's all about LOVE.

The GIFT of forgiveness. The GIFT of redemption. The GIFT of eternal Life.  The GIFT of peace and calm in the midst of the storms of Life. The GIFT of a relationship with Jesus.

I imagine the Christmas "tag" attached to Jesus's sweet little foot saying:
TO: My Child
FROM: With Love from God

Just like any other GIFT given to us by any dear loved one, we have to accept HIS GIFT into our hearts with thankfulness and gratitude.

And to be willing to CHANGE, or at least try to.


BUT we have to let His Love IN. Love is calling out to YOU. And I believe Love is worth taking the chance for.

You will never be the same; I know I haven't been.

Then you will KNOW that you have never walked this path of Life alone, and that you never will; that you have a Father in Heaven who Loves you beyond measure; One who will never leave you; One that you can count on; One who frees you from your guilt, lightens your load, gives you strength and peace to make it through Life's darkest moments. And to have the security of KNOWING that you are being carried through ALL the hills and valleys of Life.

Wow! What a gift!

So I end this post with a these words for all of my family and friends but particularly for my children: Matthew, Megan, and Luke; and also those I have yet to meet and call Friend:  

That you also may also grasp The Glory Of It All this Christmas Day and everyday, as I think I finally have after 38 years. I guess I'm a work in progress.

As you can see from our "Christmas photo", we are all doing very well and are extremely blessed. We are so thankful to the One who's birthday we celebrate today.

    Merry Christmas to you & your family!





Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Health update

I saw Dr.Borden (Lyme disease doctor) yesterday and wanted to "update" people who are following me on my health journey.

As I figured, my body is in an ACTIVE state of fighting off Lyme disease right now, more so than ever before. I sort of knew this because of how bad some of my symptoms have been in the past 3 months. It seems every symptom I have has either intensified or changed in some way. Or I have new symptoms now to add to the mix. What is going on with this, getting worse and worse instead of better? I have often thought over and over.

So I reported to the doc that I've been dealing with this awful, chronic pain in my neck/shoulders/back that is a "new" symptom that my current pain medications aren't even touching. It has actually been quite comical in our house lately if you are able look for the humor in the situation: Mark on the floor doing HIS back stretching exercises for HIS back problem, and now me, with mine. If you were a fly on the wall you would definitely think: It sure looks like they are getting OLD in this house.

Dr. Borden says this is a good sign (what?), and a very strong indicator that my body is FINALLY at a place of being able to get rid of Lyme disease.

We've sort of come full circle is what he said. You see, when I first came to him back in May, I had already been taking strong antibiotics for 8 months and getting nowhere. I had already seen 15+ "doctors", I had already "tried" everything. I was at the end of my rope. I went into that appointment knowing he was my last ditch effort. I think he knew it, too, but took on my case with a strong confidence that he could get me well, as he has seen it happen many times before.

But because I, and my vast load of "specialists" weren't EVER treating the cause of WHY I was sick, but rather the "symptoms"......is WHY I couldn't ever get well.

Dr. Borden's treatment approach goes after the CAUSE of disease - period. Even if you have cancer (he & I had a very interesting talk about that, by the way). He deals mostly with Lyme Disease and all of its nasty friends, but is always after the CAUSE of why someone is sick.

In my case, Lyme disease had attacked my whole endocrine system, particularly my thyroid and adrenal glands. The bacteria gets in your body and "attacks" different organs and glands causing major disruption. Taking all the hormones in the world to "treat" my low hormones wasn't ever going to help because they weren't the CAUSE of my sickness. Eating a gluten free diet because I have Celiac Disease wasn't going to cut it either. Spending a year working with a nutritionist to change around my diet didn't help either. Taking every and all different supplements weren't the answer. Repeating and adding on more and more "tests" wasn't going to get me there either.

That is what I've been doing since 2002, but had already felt sick the majority of my life.

Some clarification is probably needed at this point: along with Lyme Disease, it is very common to also get coinfections, that are often WORSE than lyme, mimic a "parasite", come in groups, and are very often missed (as in my case). Plus, the craziest thing is - the blood tests for coinfections are even more unreliable than the ones for Lyme.

The CAUSE of WHY I've been sick all of these years IS Lyme, but because of the coinfections "being in the way", there was no way of getting at the lyme bacteria itself. Get it? I finally got it, once he explained it that way to me.

That's what Dr.Borden's goal was: to get all the other "infections" out of the way so we could directly ATTACK and ERADICATE Lyme Disease - FINALLY.

Well friends..........I am now at that point in this long, long health journey. With so many ups and downs, I can't even count.

I NEEDED to know - so I just asked him, with much trepidation, because I have asked THAT one question thousands of times it seems: How long until I feel better?

He only paused for a second (he's always remained the confident one). Of course, (because it's in my nature, which isn't always a good thing), I didn't wait for his answer. Instead I said again: Please DO NOT tell me years, please. Maybe by next summer? Is that even a possibility?And he said, Definitely. 


I sort of sat there, stunned for a moment by his answer. Are you serious? I thought. I'm only looking at living like this for less than 6 months after ALL of this time? Seriously? Oh my! I don't even KNOW what it FEELS like to feel HEALTHY. Will I even recognize it when it comes? All of these thoughts swirled around in my head as I was paying my bill, gathering my new medications, and wishing him and his staff a Merry Christmas.

I believe God whispered through Dr. Borden at that PERFECT moment exactly what my soul needed to hear, especially at this time of year: HOPE.

Hope that I WILL finally beat this disease once and for all. Hope that there IS a light at the end of this tunnel. Hope that I WILL feel healthy and strong and ALIVE soon. Hope that this journey has been worth it; that I can use what I've learned to help someone else.

Thank you to all of you who have hung in there with me; those who have been there to lean on, talk to, cry to, vent on, whatever....you know who you are and I hope you know how much I appreciate all of the support and encouragement along the way.

Please pray for me if you think of it, that I am able to continue to "hang in there" while I patiently wait for Healing to come. That I stay Hopeful.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Unbroken

I must share a secret with you: I really had hoped and prayed for physically healing while we were in Mexico, particularly on one of those early mornings that I watched the sun rise.

In my mind's eye, it was the PERFECT setting: just me (and naturally God, too) standing on the edge of the ocean waves - the cool morning breeze blowing on my face; then closing my eyes as I begin to feel the sun slowly rise; to feel that MOMENT of surrender; to let in that love and warmth from the sun's rays, all throughout my body, and God healing it.

I thought how cool THAT story would've been to tell, especially to blog about anyway.

Well, it obviously DID NOT happen. I'm sure you would've heard about it by now, in some shape or form.

So we've returned from our trip and I'm still trying to "catch up" from before we even left. Somehow, it feels like we skipped Thanksgiving, although we didn't. Instead, it feels like Christmas has come upon me way too fast. I just want to slow the train down.

Since life has been so busy since our return, I am just now coming to terms with the fact that I WAS NOT PHYSICALLY HEALED and I STILL have to contend with the overwhelming, full-time job of healing from Lyme Disease, and all of its little demons, unfortunately. That a "miracle" didn't happen on the shores of Riviera Maya, like I had so wanted. I just wanted my life to be easier, FOR PETE' SAKE! - Haven't I suffered long enough? I thought. Haven't I been dealing with these stupid diseases long enough? I need a break God! Helllllooooooo.....is anybody out there?

In the silence and stillness, I've come to realize that His answer was NO, at least for right now. I'm not too happy about that at all, can you tell?

So I guess I'm pretty much back to exactly how it was before we left: getting back to the business of getting healthy and juggling Life (except now we have the awesome family memories of Mexico as an extra special blessing to lighten the load).

Last week I saw one of my doctors, Dr. Gandy (who I must say is: AWESOME - I just love her), and I see my other Lyme doctor, Dr. Borden on Monday (who is also amazing :) I know healing is slowly happening - IT IS. I know it is a process - I KNOW. I am trying to stay strong through it all, but I have my moment's, trust me (just ask Mark or the kids).

When I got home from my appointment with Dr. Gandy after we had gone through all of my medications and supplements, and discussed which ones I absolutely needed, I decided to go through ALL of my cabinets, drawers, etc. to gather all the "leftover stuff" into one pile. I wasn't sure yet what I was going to do with it all. All I knew was that I was feeling FED UP WITH IT ALL (after all, I DIDN'T get physical healing in Mexico remember? Can you tell that I needed an attitude adjustment?).

As I was gathering and dumping, I just allowed myself to FEEL all of the frustration and hopelessness; the disappointment, and ANGER a person feels from being chronically ill for so long, and I piled those icky emotions right on top of that pile, too. I had to. It felt good. It felt freeing for some odd reason. An outward symbol of surrendering, maybe, even if that change hadn't happened in my soul, yet.

I've added this picture to give you a "visual" of what someone with chronic illness deals with. I look at that pile and just feel pathetic. For me and for anyone affected by that stinkin' thing called sickness. All of the money spent, all of the different medications and supplements I've taken that some have helped, but mostly not. The pile is so large for me because I went around in circles for years trying to get a proper diagnosis, but there are people right now that I know who HAVE to take these many medications every day, otherwise they cannot live with the symptoms. And this is just a very, very small "snapshot" of what I've purchased, taken, or tried in the last 4 years alone, BELIEVE ME (just ask Mark - he does the bills).

 
All I can say is that I am thankful that my "pile" has gotten much smaller, even though Mark looks at what I consider my MUCH smaller pile and says, "Wow, that's still a lot." Yep - he's probably right.

A few days ago, I was "coincidentally" reading an article about an author who was answering questions about her 23-year struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her statement really ignited something within me when she stated, "I hope for a cure, but don't stop living because of it."

First off, I wanted to SCREAM at the magazine (and lady) "Don't settle for that LABEL; that there is a CAUSE to WHY you are still sick; don't stop fighting until you find it!"

And then humbly, I thought, I refuse to let myself be broken by this disease any longer, EITHER. Even if I wasn't healed in Mexico, even if I have to live this way the rest of my life, that I'm done fighting it! I'm done fighting YOU, God! Her words both infuriated me, yet also convicted me.

I, then realized that because I WAS NOT physically healed like I had secretly hoped for, that I had to make a change in my spirit, a heart change, a CHOICE to NOT fall into despair and hopelessness, AGAIN. Because then, I would be in a far darker place than just having to deal with chronic illness. And I can't go there again - not ever.
I have CHOSEN to stay Unbroken, just like that author. I have made the choice to accept what IS right now as what God wants for me, even though I AM NOT happy about it at all. I, me Lori, wanted to return from our wonderful, AMAZING family vacation HEALED.

But, I AM learning: it really isn't about ME at all, is it?

So when I see my hair falling out in clumps again when I am washing it (an old symptom returning), or when I cringe from the chronic, aching pain in my neck/shoulders/back (a now "new" symptom - I NOW UNDERSTAND WHAT PEOPLE WHO LIVE WITH CHRONIC PAIN FEEL LIKE - UGH!), that I will think This is a good thing! Healing is happening! REALLY! I just need to stay strong! Help me God!

So I continue to put one foot in front of the other, as I've always done. It is sort of how I'm wired, which hasn't always served me or others well at times, I might add.

How I stay and continue to stay Unbroken (I was just recently asked this by someone actually; as if I have the 'secret'; as if 'I have arrived' - NOT!) is: to always keep the lines of communication open with God  - because that is the most important thing of all, that I am so humbly having to learn over and over again along this journey..... then I FILL MY LIFE UP with positive, encouraging people who are willing to walk this journey with me as yucky as it has been, and will get. I continue to keep myself educated about my diseases, and health issues. I continue to be proactive about issues that I feel passionate about.

I control what I can; I stay focused on the goal; I count my blessings; I try to focus on what I DO have, not what I DON'T; I stay open to what God is trying to teach me through it all; I fill my heart, mind, and soul with God's Word so that when I DO have those low moments, something He said pops into my head at just the right moment to help me along; I read and let myself BE INSPIRED; I try to rest my poor, sick body, and be kind to it after all its been through; I try to give back; I try to be loving and kind to everyone I meet; I accept my failures; I try to LAUGH as much as I can (just hang out with Luke for an hour & you will definitely laugh out loud); and I continue to Hope and Trust in the one and only Great Physician.

I encourage you to do this, also, if you are in a trial right now that is ready to break you wide open, and leave you broken. Don't let it.....keep looking UP, and keeping putting one foot right in front of the other. YOU ARE BEING CARRIED! May God bless you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roots & Wings

My mom was really into inspirational poems and quotes. She had a real tender side when it came to stuff like that. I remember watching Little House on the Prairie with her and only she and I would be crying over the simplest thing.

After my dad retired from being a Milwaukee Police Officer, my parents moved "up north" to Montello, WI. Because of my mom's love for writing, she'd often send me long letters and attach coupons or 'kid type' jokes with them. Many times she'd include an inspirational poem or quote. Things she knew I'd appreciate or get a "kick" out of. If not then, someday for sure.

I remember one time she sent me this quote: 

 Parents give their children two great gifts---one is roots, the other is wings.

At the time I read it, I didn't quite appreciate it until now. You see, when I read that quote, my oldest child, Matthew, was just a toddler. My main concerns at that time were definitely NOT about roots and wings. More like changing diapers, getting sleep, and keeping up with a 2-year old!

Now, how many years later, I have recently experienced what this long ago "quote" was saying. And my mom's in Heaven, simply smiling & nodding her head with understanding.

The thing is: No one prepared me for the time when I would have to FIRST give my children their wings. How HARD and PAINFUL that was going to be. I just wish my soft, mommy heart could have been a little bit more prepared for the "sting" that was coming. 

I still thought I had plenty of time to prepare for it. For the Flying, I mean.

I know this is all a very normal, natural process of life, but I guess I thought I had more TIME.

Recently, my oldest child, Matthew, turned 14 and it seemed like, LITERALLY, overnight, we had a different child. It was so sudden, at least for me. After all, he was what I considered my "homebody kid". Out of the 3 of them, he is my most shy and introverted. In fact, he spent the majority of this past summer just hangin' out at home with our new dog, Daisy May. I just didn't expect such a dramatic change, so fast.  

It started with him getting his "own" room. Then wanting to hang out with friends more; then an increase in texting; more time spent on Facebook; more time spent alone. Hmmmm... Something is going on with Matthew. I thought.

Mark & I were recently talking about how fast the kids are growing up, and he reminded me of that old familiar quote: "Parents give their children two great gifts - one is roots, the other is wings." It sparked a conversation between us about this phase in our lives, and how that looks with each one of our children. What we need to do as their parents to give them solid roots and wings. 

And how HARD that is to do in this day and age. How much different the world is than when we were kids. How we WILL falter along the way right along with them because we are learning, too.
And that it is OK to tell them that.

As parents, we all know that someday our children are going to grow up and leave us (as much as we try NOT to think about it, especially for moms). It is simply just a fact of life, and we can't change it. We have to just try very hard to appreciate the moments along the way - to slow down and take it all in. We hope and pray that we somehow fulfill the role of a "good parent"; that we hopefully create productive responsible adults, right?

Maybe even ones that Soar.

I recently pulled out the old scrapbook albums and cried tears of sadness and grief for the quickness of time; how I wish I could just hold Matthew as a baby, completely and utterly safe under MY wings, for just one more hour. 

My tears also fell out of appreciation and remembrance for all the joyful moments we've been blessed with.

But mostly, my tears were for my heartfelt gratefulness and honor to have been apart of all the chapters of his life up until now, as his Mom.

And then the realization hit:  how the next chapter of his life WILL probably fly by even FASTER.
For all of us.

What I know for sure is:  it is our job as their parents to give them roots and wings, as much as it "stings" us. Because they cannot FLY without both, at least not very successfully anyway.

So after my heart mended a bit, I sought out some good wisdom and advice from some dear friends. Barb, who I love to call my "wise mentor friend" shared how much FUN the Next chapter of our lives is going to be. To cherish the old, but WELCOME the new. And she's speaking from the perspective of recently becoming a grandma for the first time.

Then Jami, who has years of experience in not only teaching, but also in coaching, and leading youth groups (and she is also a mom!) shared some very wise, eye-opening, informative advice about this age group that I didn't realize. She helped me face the REALITY of the situation. She helped me see how I CAN move ahead as long as I remain teachable, open, and humble.

I am ashamed to admit after talking to her, how clueless I really am about the "dangers" our kids are facing in this day and age, and how they are facing it at such a younger age than we did.

So what do I do now? That is a good question, isn't it?

For me personally, I will be PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING - It's that simple.
Because I know that Mark & I need A LOT of guidance, wisdom, and support in giving our children  
solid roots and wings. And to TRUST that God IS carrying us, as He always does (because I have a feeling the "teenage" years are going to be rough.)

So I would like to end this post with some words of encouragement for you that I have learned along the way.....

If you are in the same place as me right now, where your heart is breaking because you've had to close a chapter of one of your kids' lives (no matter what age), OR you are closing a different chapter of your own life, and the hurt of letting go keeps you feeling stuck, then I want you to know I UNDERSTAND.

I realize that we ARE going to feel those "stings" along this road of Life as we close chapters. That is just the way it is. But, we then NEED to move onto whatever comes Next with grateful anticipation.
Not sadness over time lost.

To smile because it happened, NOT cry because it's over: TO CHERISH EVERY MOMENT.

The key is (I'm still learning) is to not let the "stings" along the way stop us from enjoying that present, precious moment that will be gone in a BLINK.

So I look forward to this next "chapter" of our lives (sorry Matthew - as the oldest, you get to go first) not with sadness and grief (okay, maybe some still lingers), but rather with anticipation and excitement for what comes Next.


Monday, December 6, 2010

My chance encounter with a stranger

One of my unfortunate symptoms of Lyme Disease is waking up at 2 to 4:00 a.m. everyday. It is one of my more frustrating symptoms that I hope will be resolved sooner versus later.

Anyway, while we were in Mexico over Thanksgiving week, my usual 4 a.m. waking would leave me the choice of "finding something to do as to not wake everyone else up" or just lying there, hoping to fall back asleep (this usually does not happen).

So every morning I would throw on some clothes, grab some books to read or whatever, and head out to explore. Oh...and I never forgot my camera.

What is so interesting, and quite comical is that they have these birds there called "zanates" that all gather at sunrise and sunset to do what, I'm not sure. Have a twice daily family bird meeting to chirp about the tasks at hand? All I know is that they were LOUD. At 5p.m. people would all be mingling about, swimming, hangin' out, and all we would hear were these very loud birds, all gathered above our heads in the various trees at this particular area of the resort. They were so loud that it was hard to hear each other talk. It cracked me up every time, for some reason.

Well, this also happened at sunrise. So on my early morning wakings as I would begin my exploring, I'd be greeted by the zanates, and I'd chuckle to myself, and say "Good morning" back to them. There is just nothing that compares to waking up to the sounds of nature.

The first morning of my wanderings, I only saw a few workers getting ready for the day. I also saw a man about my dad's age (late 60s) hangin' around and I asked him if he was also an early morning riser, too. He said he was, and that he was trying to find the best "spot" to check his internet. I smiled at him, and he continued on.

Now the next morning, it was a tad bit rainy outside so I had to sit in the lobby, making sure I picked the perfect spot right by the door so I could see the sun come up, hear the zanates, and feel the breeze on my face. I figured I might as well order coffee from the front desk. Room service very graciously delivered this completely filled tray containing everything I needed for my morning coffee - It was heavenly.

And then along comes the fellow I met the morning before.

I invited him to pull up a chair and join me. He seemed quite pleased to do so.

His name was Bill from upstate New York and I realized that: everyone has a story. Sometimes you just have to ask the right questions because people do want to tell it, most of the time.

I asked him why he was there (a nephew's wedding) and I shared why we were there - just some small talk. Then he began to talk about his life. How he grew up in the military and traveled a lot. He went on to tell me how his wife, who was an alcoholic, had left him and his 2 children when they were little. That, even to this day, there were still much resentment towards her and the "disease." How he was enjoying life with his "lady friend" for the past 8 years. He seemed to be really enjoying his retirement.

I talked some about my history and also my experience with alcoholism in my family. I felt like we really understood each other's journey: the pain of lost relationships, the struggle of living with someone with an addiction, and how much it deeply affects generations. I had several "A-ha moments" while talking to Bill.

We talked for about 2 hours until his daughter finally found him. By this time, the sun had already risen, the zanates had set out to complete their daily tasks, and my coffee was way beyond cold. I figured by this time, my family was getting up and ready to face the day. It was time to say good-bye to Bill.

Friendly pleasantries were exchanged, and he and his daughter left. Later on I saw him with his family at breakfast. He stopped by our table for introductions. He smiled and said, "It looks like you have a really nice family." And off he went...

I have reflected on that chance meeting with my stranger named Bill from upstate New York many times since we've been home, trying to figure out what I was suppose to have learned from him.

You see, I don't believe in "luck" or "coincidence" so I knew there had to be a lesson or lessons I was suppose to have learned from him. Or maybe what he needed, was to learn something from me? You never know what "a chance encounter with a stranger" might really mean. God tells us to never forget to entertain strangers because you might never know when you are actually entertaining angels.

All I do know is: that God must have been trying to teach me a "lesson" that He knew I would not have learned any other way, except through, maybe?, a "Bill from upstate New York"?

Hmm? ... it sure gives you something to think about, at least it does me. You just never know what "lessons" you are to be learning, or teaching, from strangers along the way ...