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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The healing has begun

When I had considered "blogging" about 6 months ago and needed to decide on a title, intuitively I knew it was to be called "Healing Begins" after the song by Tenth Avenue North. It seemed perfect and fitting for me and my journey thus far.

I knew that the main singer Mike had written this song to his wife when she came to him with a "confession" of some kind. I never did figure out the "sin" that she confessed and now I see that that doesn't really matter.

All I do know is that this song impacted me in a great way, then and now. What it really is saying to each and every one of us...what it has taught me.

In recent weeks I've come to truly learn and appreciate what freedom there truly is in laying my heart open in front of another human being. How healing that is to do - on so many levels.

And what I've learned mostly is that the fear of doing that is so much greater than it really needs to be. After all...love is the safety net and it is okay to fall.

It just is.

So in my quest for "healing", in my prayer to Be Still...and Know that He is God...I found healing in the exact way I needed, instead of in the way I wanted.

I've learned that actually allowing my "walls" down to shatter hasn't been so scary after all. I've learned that admitting our mistakes to one another is healing. I've learned that letting others in is healing. I've learned that being willing to change for something better is key. 

And I have learned that it is better on the other side. Much, much better.

There is this freedom in simply resting instead of striving. There is freedom in that sound - the sound my walls made when they came crashing down.

I know that my physical body has been working very, very hard towards physical healing of Lyme disease. And it has fought hard. I mistakenly thought that my prayer for "healing" would manifest itself in my physical body.

I never knew that God had a different plan than mine. That's the hard part I think - trusting that His plan is better than ours. And trusting that it is all good.

So you might ask: what is it Lori that knocked your walls down?

And I would answer simply with...

Love.

That is where the Light meets the Dark. And that's where true freedom is found.

That is when Healing Begins. Then and only then.

May the song playing in the background encourage, inspire, and uplift you as it has for me. May you also see for yourself that the possibility (because it is there) for healing to begin in your own life is real and within reach.

Simply reaching Up and Out...to Love...

It is as simple as that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lessons I've learned from my dogs

I have owned many pets in my life...cats, dogs, hamsters, birds...even a snake! I tend to be more of a cat person, but oh! - what I have learned from my dogs is priceless.

Our first family dog was named Dusty. She was a Springer Spaniel and what a delight she was! We use to put pink bows in her ears and pretend she was our playmate. She was a good sport about it most of the time. We knew when she had enough. Then my parents decided to breed her and our house became a place filled with puppy smells, noises, and chaos...what fun!

My dad was an avid hunter and Dusty was a birthday gift to him from my mom. Dusty retrieved many, many different kinds of animals for my dad in her life, but what she gave to our family far exceeded her hunting skills.

You see, Dusty was my very first real best friend and my greatest teacher about Love. She was just always there for me - no matter what. She always just seemed to know when I felt sad and she would just come. I didn't even need to ask.

And then the day came when cancer took hold of her and it was time to say goodbye. That was a hard, hard day. And I didn't think I could ever open my heart up to love like that again.

That time came years later after I got married and we got Cally who was a black Labrador Retriever so full of energy and life that there was never a dull moment with her around! I think of her "bone obsession" and laugh big - she could play ball for hours and hours and hours...

When the kids came along, she naturally took on her role of loving, protecting and serving them as well. Not once with all of the kids pulling on her ears or jumping on her back for a ride did she ever lash out in anger. Not once did she even growl at them. And even though she did take a back seat to them, she never once held it against us. She just continued to just love, love, love...always wagging her tail even up until the very end.

At 12 years old Cally needed to rest because she had served and loved us so well. And we needed to release her to go to Rainbow Bridge because that is where her reward would be. And did she ever deserve it. Her life and the lessons she taught us will never be forgotten. The joy and love she gave us will always be in our hearts. Her love and service to her master, Mark, was unwavering up... until her last breath.

This past summer we were willing to love again...and now we have Daisy May who is 2 and a Pomeranian Poodle who has definitely brought a new kind of love and excitement to our home! Just come hang out at our house for awhile and you will see what I mean - often I can see out of the corner of my eye Daisy May chasing one of our cats all around the house, up and down the stairs, out the patio door... it is quite comical actually. Sometimes I am convinced that she thinks she is a cat and not a dog. She does after all prefer their food to hers. I've given up that battle a long time ago. :)

I wonder what is it that keeps a person, like me for instance, going back for more with these four-legged creatures? What is it that allows us to risk a broken heart again?

I think it is simply called Love. They love us in a way that is so unconditional - it is like they put their whole being into it. It doesn't matter if they are 80 pounds or 8. They just want to love and who can say no to that? That kind of devotion, loyalty, service?

Well, obviously not me...in fact having 3 cats and 1 dog probably shows pretty good evidence of that.

I have learned that dogs are one of our greatest teachers. They teach us how to truly love one another, how to serve one another, how to live, and how to make the most of life each and every day.

They don't hold onto grudges. They live in the moment. There is no such thing as living in the past or worrying about the future. They are slow to anger, quick to love, quick to forgive, and loyal no matter what. They take time to have fun and play and will do anything to get us to join right in. I think they have a greater understanding than humans do about just how short life really is.

They have taught me that naps are a really good thing. They have taught me that there is no fear in loving. They have taught me that it is okay to give your heart away. They have taught me that love is worth it. Love is worth the risk, the chance.

In closing, I would like to honor all of the four-legged creatures that have already gone to Rainbow Bridge, especially those special canines I hold dear to my heart and I like to call my beloved: Dusty and Cally.

I dedicate this blog post to my sister, Tracy, as she grieves the passing of her two beloved dogs, Domino and Buddy in just the past 10 days as they both made their way to Rainbow Bridge to receive their reward...the honor they are due...and to be reunited with all that have gone before them...to suffer no more...to only know Love.

Each and every one of their lives mattered beyond words - furry skin or not. Each and every one of their lives taught us something grand. I know my sister's heart will heal and she will be able to love again...in time.

Because like I already said, love is worth the risk. It just is.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Am I a Basket Lady?

Recently, I have been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing of our house. After all - Spring IS Coming!

I really shouldn't be pushing myself, physically speaking, yet - at this point, however, I've sort of neglected our home is the past 4 years, simply because I've been so ill, and Mark has had to step up to the plate and takeover with so many of the kid and household duties that our home sort of got set aside.

At this point, I think a simple new coat of paint in each room will do wonders...and that's without having to spend much money. However, what is needed is time and energy. Hmm...at this time, I have neither.  

With that being said, and with Spring in the air, I have recently just felt this need to CLEAN HOUSE or something...like "nesting" in a way...I relate it to how I felt before I was about to give birth.

Last month my dear friend, Karie (I knew she was the perfect person to ask for help in my new "project") and she did not disappoint. She is SO good at painting, knowing colors...and how things go together...

Anyway - she painted my entire basement for me, (I am talking literal here - she painted while I literally laid down on the floor with my pillow beneath my head...and we chatted the whole time - it was great!) and she turned our basement, which has now turned into Mark and mine "offices", into something I call simply Amazing! Thank you Karie! (You are welcome to come see it at any time but please give me a holler beforehand okay?)

So now our next room to tackle is the kitchen.

All in due time.

In the meantime I have clearing out and throwing out and simply "just getting rid of stuff".

It feels good. Freeing in many respects.

In this process I realized how many actual Longaberger Baskets I truly have. Wow! Seriously? I have THIS many in our TINY home?

And then I thought, Holy Cow - AM I A BASKET LADY? Sort of like how people think of "Cat Ladies"...

I asked Mark this very question this morning as I was walking around the house with one of my "bigger" baskets hanging on my arm, collecting "stuff" to organize and place here or there...hopefully to just give away to someone else.

I don't think he knew actually how to answer my question. I get that look a lot from him - women, you know what I mean right? That look...the one of complete and utter bewilderment on his face with no words coming out of his mouth.

I then asked him if I was a Cat Lady? After all, we DO have 3 cats! Gulp! I've always said that I consider myself a Cat Lady if I personally owned 4 cats. I knew then that I crossed the line. Plus, I KNEW there was no way Mark would ever allow me to get another animal, yet alone another cat! I just know this about him. He is pretty easygoing about most everything, but...I know the lines to cross and not to cross and this is one of them.

I didn't really get an answer from him either about me being a Cat Lady.

I proceeded to go about collecting and sorting, but then it got me thinking about my blog and this whole idea of being a Lady really means, and what I want most importantly for Megan to learn about what a true lady really is all about.

Do I want to be defined by my Stuff?

Well, of course not. And I'm sure, neither do you.

However, I have SO MUCH STUFF! And so much to get rid of. So much to clean out and organize. And I am NOT talking about just my closets and drawers here.

It's a cleansing process - I like to call it. And what better time than Now? The present moment?

So I began to consider what a true Lady is for Megan's sake, for my sake, for those of you reading and maybe thinking about this idea now yourself.

If you are a male and reading this...well, I hope you will learn something about us females out there.

So when I need answers to life's questions I go to God's Word - the Bible. And I knew Proverbs 31 talks a lot about a wife of noble character, but I was more curious as to what God says about it in more general terms...like what it means to be a lady before Him.

I read and studied and prayed and thought it out...I wrestled with some ideas and I think I've come up with what I hope is a good enough answer for now. At least it has helped me and I hope it helps you too.

First off, I learned that I can never, ever be like the woman described in Proverbs 31! What was God thinking putting all of those traits down?

Not only was SHE an excellent wife and mother, but SHE was also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, and on and on and on...PLUS she was held to a high esteem in that society too!

And then God starts talking about her inside parts - her character...just how GREAT that was! Gulp! I read along...

Her words were wise, she gave instructions with kindness,  she wasn't afraid, yet kept careful watch over her home, she was simply trusting, trusting, trusting Him each step of the way...an inner calm - it seemed to me.

And then I realized God had a lot to say about that part of me in His Word as well. That He had a lot to say about my heart. And how to go about cleaning that part of me. And instructions on how to do that. Yet, I do also remember how hard He said that was to actually do and put into practice day after day - the discipline and motivation that takes.

Interestingly enough, there is not one word about her physical appearance at all. Hmm...maybe that is because physical beauty just doesn't last. It just doesn't.

All it says about her clothing is that she was clothed in strength and dignity - her character...who she is inside.

So in dedication to my sweet daughter Megan ~ whom I have in mind as I write this post...

Being a lady before God means first off learning from the Proverbs 31 woman, instead of trying to be her and going there will just lead to its own set of problems.

Secondly, work hard at what you are good at...excel - it is OK! Yet be an encourager, care for other people...be smart, yet careful, ask for advice...be compassionate...honor and respect those you need to...laugh without fear of the future (Megan is and already does all of these things in a very sweet way, as those of you who know her can attest to).

But most importantly, being a lady before God has nothing to do with what you achieve or accomplish, or what you look like or do, but rather on who you are inside...the condition of your heart.

Is it clean? Does it have rooms in it that need to be seriously dusted out, cleaned out or just simply shipped out and hopefully never to be seen again? Or do my rooms just simply need to be repainted a new color?

I know mine does. And probably always will. I've accepted that.

But in the meantime, there is a promise tucked away inside of that verse, at the very end...(I personally love when I find those!)

It says, Reward for all she has done, let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

So in the Promise - as there always is - that is where the hope lies when the going gets tough. And it will.

Being a lady before God means loving Him first with your whole heart and then loving other people in return - just like He says to do.

And the Reward is great! But sometimes the very hard part is trusting in the possibility that the Reward might not come to you here on earth, but rather in the your heavenly, permanent home.

Ohh...if we back up and read closer it sure seems to me that she was blessed in her lifetime on earth.

Her children stood and blessed her. Her husband praised her. She was blessed beyond measure in my humble opinion.

So in the grand scheme of things, in the grand scheme of this thing called Life...the STUFF just does not matter. None of it. Physical appearance. Awards. Achievements. Honors. To-Do lists taken care of....

Nope. 

In the end what matters is...the state of my heart really, before God first and foremost. And then He will ask Dear child, how did you love with the Love you've been given?

So I am now at the end of my post and back to my original question?

Am I a Basket Lady? 

Yah, probably.

Am I a Lady before God?

Yes - in many ways, but (gulp!) also in not so many ways... The thing is - I am learning and growing and then I take two steps back and have to start again. I'm a "work in progress"... And I keep on having to remind myself over and over and over again that IT IS NOT A MARATHON!

So that means, Ahhh...I can slow down and enjoy the view along the way. And with "Spring in the Air" and everything coming to Life again...being Awakened...with the sweet sounds of birds returning home filling the sky, and as I notice my tulips popping out from under the cold, dark dirt...

I don't want to miss a thing...

I hope you also enjoy a very slow, restful Sunday today as you also impatiently wait for Spring to arrive...just remember it will come.

Happy Spring to you!