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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bucket List

In recent months, I have been renting and/or aiming to watch more and more "funny" type movies or TV shows because I have learned how healing laughter really is, can be.

You know the ones ... laugh-out-loud until your belly hurts! I've had people in recent weeks, including Mark, give me some excellent recommendations to watch like the hit show called The Office, which we've watched together from time to time.

My sister-in-law, Kristin, highly recommended and borrowed to us Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage.
This Pastor sure gets it! He has gotten me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants ... not kidding!

Or have you seen The Proposal or Hitch?

Just throwing out some ideas if you are looking for some good summer movies to watch! I have a list of books, too, if you are interested.

Recently, I finally got around to renting from the library a movie called The Bucket List. I remembered laughing at the previews. People recommended it to me. It sure seemed like a funny movie, one that I was after. I was also drawn to its deep underlying themes tucked in there ... lessons to take with me.

Mark & I never did get around to actually sitting down and watching it for whatever reason. I realized later after talking to a friend of mine who really knows me, and who understood what I was really looking to watch, actually recommended I not watch it (I am really glad that I listened!). I watched the trailer and realized how right she was ... that I probably wouldn't have found it "funny" in a way I was hoping for. It has the underlying tone of sadness to it, too, of course. I don't mind the sad, but was looking for more of the funny, if you know what I mean.

So when I found this youtube video that tells the Story, communicates the lessons to us so well, I wanted to pass it along to you. I love how it focuses on the good, even in the midst of some of Life's toughest trials.

Ideas like Friendship. Living in the moment. Enjoying your Life ... each day.

Giving back. Paying it forward. Passing love onto others. Cherishing each moment that is given.

Although I had somehow already learned some of these great lessons awhile ago from my Mom, our daughter, Emily, and my dear friend, Lori.

Whom all died way, way too young, but the gifts & nuggets of truth that I took away from their walk and what their "short" lives taught me ... I find worth sharing with all of you.

I, though, don't want this "idea" of having a Bucket List go unnoticed, as sad as it may appear or seem.

It sure doesn't need to be.

I have one. 

Don't you? Who doesn't? Shouldn't we all?

These are the types of questions that I ponder ... thoughts that swirl around in my head ... ones that get stuck in my heart that I feel I need to share with all of you.

Once again, please hit Pause on my music player before watching this youtube video.

What I love most about this trailer is that we pretty much get the "idea" of what they are trying to say or teach us without any of us really needing to watch the entire film.

In writing this post, I am thinking of our Matthew and his best friend, Alex, whom he's known since he was 5. Even though we had switched schools and then returned to HCS, they still had remained friends throughout. And just sort of "picked up" where they left off.

What they have, what I like to call it is a gift. The word blessed comes to my mind & heart. Thankfulness.

I will share with you a couple things on My Bucket List ... and please feel free to share back. One of them is to go to the Grand Canyon for sure. Because I've been told that that is worth seeing. I do not doubt that for one second. And I will walk on their bridge that has like no bottom! even though I am afraid of heights.

Getting to Hawaii at some point would sure be nice.

However, I'd also love to learn how to ride a motorcycle ... take a photography class ... be able to do some serious pull-ups like some men that I've seen! Do a triathlon. Or a duathlon. Continue my education. Teach.

Or maybe get another tattoo. A family missionary trip to a third world country.

One day at a time.

But you will not catch me skydiving. Just not my thing! But then again, I've been known to change my mind in a flash!

I could go on and on with my list, which can and probably will change as time goes on, but I think we all know that it isn't really in the doing or the getting or achieving that matters at the end of each and every one of our lives.

At least this is what I've learned through it all. 

This is one inspirational quote that I will leave you with that always helps me regroup, as I like to call it ...

"Life isn't about the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away."
My hope is that you enjoy today! And take it all in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Forgive thyself

I have been known to talk too much, or too loud. But then again, I've also been told that people feel comfortable around me & talking to me. I've been told that when I say aloud to people that I know I do actually talk loud & fast ... that I really am just coming across as passionate and fun.

I've spent some time processing both angles.

I've learned recently during my "life review" how important it truly is to not worry so much about what other people think, say, or do. It is a hard, hard thing to work on and master.

I am always a work in progress.

I am sure that I not alone in this endeavor.

I've, also, been called an "interviewer", as well as an "interrogator".

I must admit that I know that I've been both, in good & bad ways. I've messed up more times than I like to think about. Foot-in-the-mouth type thing. Or lacking something called a "filter" when communicating to others.

I like to think of myself more along the terms of interested and curious.

So therefore, I tend to ask a lot of questions.

It is just my natural way, the way I was designed and made to function in the world.

I am truly listening and interested. Really!

Words like curiosity, intrigue, compassion, understanding, mercy, and love come to mind as I listen to others tell their Stories to me. I work really hard at not going to a place of judgment with everyone I meet.

But, of course I do at times - as I am only human after all.

I believe that everyone has a Story.

And that every Story is worth telling because I've learned that there are always lessons (some majorly profound!) to be learned from each & every single day of your Life. In every encounter, or event, or person whom who just "randomly" bump into.

The lessons just will never run out.

They are always for everyone present I truly believe. And although going through things can be pure torture while we go through them, it sure seems that in the end, it does all work out for the good of all.

Somehow, in some way.

If you've been following My Story along, as well as Ours, or if you know us on a more personal level, then I think you will know which neighborhood boys I am talking about, which Family.

For privacy reasons & out of my sense of loyalty, I'd prefer not to use any names.

As I've thought through the past few days and watched as this simple Story unfolded, words such as symbolism, metaphors, and analogies all have come to my mind & heart, but at this moment in time, I am not at a really good place of actually appreciating these words that I love so much.

I've learned through and because of my own Life experiences that I will eventually get there, in my own way, in my own timing.

For some of us, it just takes us a little bit longer to get there.

A few days ago, I woke up from a well-needed nap (I am playing "catch up" from Lyme disease messing with my melatonin levels!) to these 3 boys, plus our Luke, taking care of 2 baby birds that they found without their Mom (this is what I was told anyway).

Of course, I instantly knew what that meant, what it really meant; however, I just woke up & was still a little foggy from my nap.

I asked a bunch of questions, of course! Gave the appropriate advice to at least call the Humane Society, among other things.

The oldest boy nodded. I went about my Domestic Engineering chores , and just wasn't paying close enough attention to what was literally going on at my kitchen table.

Understandably so, I know, but still ...

The boys had realized that their new "friends", whom they had named, were very hungry & thirsty.

Naturally, of course.

Right underneath my nose, I essentially allowed them to feed the baby birds little pieces of bologna and water using a turkey baster.

Yes, this is called distraction and trying to multi-task (not very well I might add!) and dealing with other stressors.

As boys are, especially at these ages, all under the sweet age of 12 did was ... as any kid probably naturally would do ... was to sort of "overdo" it a little bit.

But that little mistake was not good by any means.

They, essentially, started giving them drops of water straight into their open, waiting, flapping beaks ... slowly - at first.

Until I heard, "What is wrong with him. I think he's dead?!" did I 'snap to' & go into my immediate, almost all-too-familiar, emergency-survival mode and realized the water had come out way too fast and they were drenched and shivering to death.


I knew what the death of these birds could very possibly do to these kids, who were essentially, just redirecting their hurt & anger in a good way onto these poor birds, but was most interesting was how much it was actually paralleling their own lives, almost exactly.

The day prior, these boys' Mom had actually moved out of their home into her own apartment.

Well, my "first aid" training & skills kicked into gear.

Did I tell you that this was the day when it was in the 90's & we had our A/C on full blast?

Got them OUTSIDE fast ... I directed fast ... told 1 to get their nest that they had made, another to get a warm towel, put them close together. (Oh my!)

As anyone would've naturally done, I know.

But more importantly, I told them that they needed to talk to them because the birds recognized their Voices, and not mine. I knew that this would bring them comfort, all of us.

I did what came naturally to me, too, and that was to first pray inside over & over & over, especially when they kept saying, "Please don't die on us, please!"

I also grabbed my camera (to keep myself busy), as I love images to always go along with the Story being told.

Finally, both birds "perked" up from being in their natural environment.

I gave Thanks and moved on, however, I knew all too well, personally, about things like stress and the biology of trauma to know that this Story wasn't going to end well.

They were teeny tiny birds after all.

Plus, I knew that sometimes God does answer our most heartfelt prayers with a No, as soft and gently as it may come.

The boys took them home and got back to playing as kids do.

I went about my day. Life moves on. It just does.

The Show Must Go On, even when we really don't want it to or don't know how that will even look.

It just does. Has to. Will.

This afternoon I was informed by them that the 2nd bird had, also, finally died.

It didn't really surprise or shock me, as this is the exact same thing that happened to Matthew's first real pet of his very own, a bird, although we had Cally our black lab at the time. Unfortunately, Megan, who was 1 thought it would be a good idea to put brother's birdy into one of her barbie's dresser drawers because she figured he'd like it and have some fun! I'm sure his bizarre noises made her finally let him out ... to fly away for capture from us.

The next morning Matthew went into something called shock when he went to greet his friend & his friend wouldn't wake up.

He was 3 years old.

That was his first experience with death. And a funeral & burial.

As Life is and goes, as it always will.

It is called The Circle of Life.

Then years later, Jimmy - our cat - accidentally killed a different bird of ours. {Yeah, I didn't learn my lesson apparently!}

Accidents happen. Mistakes too.

As well as personal failures. Broken promises.

However, although this may not seem like that big of a deal to some, for me, Lori, I just can't help feeling awful about the whole darn thing even happening in the first place, all under my watch.

Especially, and most particularly, when they keep saying its "their" fault their birds died. One said, "I gave him too much bologna." Then the other, "No, it was my fault, not yours!" (Yikes, gulp!)

Yet, no matter how much I tell them where their friends are, or what good caretakers they were, or how it truly is my fault; not theirs, I don't think that this simple truth is sinking in. Not yet anyway.

Grief takes some time. It just does.

They will get there ... I know ... and so will I.

Forgiving oneself for simple mistakes that are made every day. Sometimes day after day after day.

One step forward, two steps back ... some days.

I've learned awhile ago to no longer "apologize" per se for who I am, or how I feel, or how I think to others because I learned that that never got me or anyone else to a good place at the end of the day.

But much more importantly, I no longer apologize to myself for these things about me. I learned this most recently how much this doesn't serve me. It hasn't been easy by any means.

I am still in a place of sadness, feeling sort of "bummed out". I just am a very emotional, sensitive person who wears my heart on my sleeve. I feel much more sad for them, more so than the birds.

For all of what they are going through in their lives ... more than the death of their bird friends.

I would "add" the pictures, but I'd rather not (too much negative energy! :), but instead I'd like this "video", "lyrics", "artist" to help me along in telling the story. I hope you get the deeper meaning behind it all.

Please remember to click the "Pause" button on my playlist before you hit play.

Thank you for reading along and especially for those of you 'out there' I know who have been praying not just for me, but also for this Family, these kids. I am deeply grateful and appreciative.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our gifts ... In Honor of

As promised from a recent blog post of mine, I have finally sorted through some very weird technical issues on my end so that I am now able to share the images and music that tell Our Story.

What I have learned about myself recently is that although I have a "way with words" and that I best express myself in writing, and even out loud, that there are many times when I don't really know what I mean so I don't know what to say.

Or I feel liked I've attempted to explain myself in every which way I can, but I still often feel misunderstood.

That is where "images" and "music" and "lyrics" and "inspirational people" and other people's words in blog format come into play. Sort of to help me along in my journey through Life.

I am so very thankful for these gifts. That is what I like to call them, in any case.

Tomorrow marks the ten year birth & death of our daughter, Emily Rose Grade, who never took one breath here on earth. She was "due" July 9th. No cause of death was ever found. We never got an answer to our question of Why?

I've come to realize in the past year that I  don't even need or want an "answer" anymore. 

And although her life was very, very "short," she also has a Story worth telling. 

Please click here to read this beautiful tribute to our baby written from the loving, compassionate, thoughtful heart of a friend.

And then also please click here to read what another Mom has learned through her own loss and suffering, but has so graciously been able to put into words much better than I ever could have; what it is I've been trying to say all of this time. 

I, essentially, am the only one who really got to know Emily, as it was my body that God used as a vessel to bring forth her Life and Death.

What I find most interesting is just how many lessons I learned from her, in her "short" life, in her life in my womb.

A life that never lived one day on this earth. A life that never breathed one breath of air.

But the impact of a life that has changed the course of the next generation leaves me in a place of awe.

Emily's life taught me irreplaceable, life lessons that have shaped me, her Mother, into who I am today.

Who I know I wouldn't be if never got to know her like I did.

The lessons that continue to grow me and teach me into who I am meant to be, strive to be.

The biggest, most important lesson of all, though, is something I know is very important to share with all of you ~ one we all so easily take for granted and miss. The moments just fly on by, sometimes without us even noticing.

Please take with you from me this important nugget of truth that I have learned. I hope you tuck it close to your heart and remember.

Every single moment of Your Life matters.

It really, really does.

But more importantly, it is learning how not to take any one of those moments for granted.

Or waste them.

Nor one day. Nor one person in your Life. Nor one opportunity to make a difference in the world. Nor one moment to make a wrong into a right.

Don't put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today.

Don't put off until tomorrow telling those you love them that you do.

Don't put off until tomorrow forgiving those whom you need to forgive.

Don't put off until tomorrow living & enjoying your life ... the gift that it is to the world.

For the past nine years every time I see the red, white, & blue colors and seeing Our Flag flying high, I would always feel that old familiar "sting" to my wounded, scarred heart although at the same time I understood the meaning of it all - my freedoms and my thankfulness very present within.

But the reality of it all is that it has also been a reminder to me of what was lost.

Not just a child. Not just a sibling for our children. But the dream.

So this year as that "date" comes again, as it always will ... Tomorrow! ~ July 4th Independence Day ~ I learned and realized that the "energy did change" to this good place of Honoring Her ... Emily Rose.

Her Life. Her Story.

All told through mine ... Ours.

Her Day - the day she met Jesus. The day she went to her eternal Home was and is a day worth Celebrating!

And I just can't help feeling something called Joy this year, instead of only sadness and gut-wrenching pain because I fully know & accept that there will always be hurt, but I am at this place of something called bittersweet when I think of our baby.

But this year, I am feeling so much more of the sweet {Thanks Oprah!}

And that is a really good thing.

It is called faith. The real kind. The kind that truly knows & believes that all is truly well and good, without any doubt and without the need to ask any more questions.

What better time than now, as this decade comes to a close for us, as we move onto the next Season of our Lives, but especially for me, Lori, to finally! be at this really good place of looking at The Flag and The Colors ... all of these signs and reminders and wonders from God ... and Smile! big inside and out because they also, much more importantly, remind me of something much much grander and oh-so-good ~

That is something called Love.

God's Love for me

With humble gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for the gift I was given ... Emily's life ... my time spent with her, and for the good that God brought out of it all, I will not be looking down anymore, but rather I will be looking Up! and lifting my hands even higher to the One who deserves all the Honor and Glory and Praise.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and for always passing along the love, support, prayer, encouragement, friendship and kindness to me, Mark, our family, especially at this time of year.

My hope is that in reading my blog, listening to the music and viewing the pictures that you also will take away some lessons all taught through a beautiful, precious, perfect little dark brown haired girl named Emily Rose. She came very softly and quietly into our lives, and left us in the same way. She left something behind called a Legacy that will always live on through us.

Thank you for remembering our Emily each year amongst your July 4th holiday plans ~ dear friends and family ~ because we do know that you haven't forgotten. That she still is and always will be remembered and honored by so many of you.

To watch and enjoy this video sung by Selah called I Will Carry You, please hit "pause" of my music player first.

{I dedicate this one to you, Emily Rose Grade, dear Daughter of ours in Heaven,
In Honor of You. Your Story. Your Life. 
~Thank you~
Love always; until we meet again, your Momma}

Our niece, Elizabeth Aurelia Edwards

Mark's promotion to Fire Captain

Luke & Grandpa John
St. John's Military Academy

Megan & I at her cheerleading competition

Jimmy ... my curious blue-eyed boy ... always into mischief

Matthew & I ~ 8th Grade graduation

Jonathan & Luke ... cousins & friends

Daisy May just after she was at the groomers, looking pretty darn happy!
Love & Friendship