Going back

“I caught one! Look! I did it!”  

I loved fishing as the sun came up, on the dock next to the big willow tree.  I was so proud of each catch, always bursting with excitement.

“We are racing! Look! I’m winning!”

My sister was in driver’s seat of the trans-am, and I was in the driver’s seat of the el-camino. Both cars were sitting in the driveway, but we were speeding down the road in our imaginations.  Our determined race faces are so clear to me as I look back, almost 40 years later.

“I want to go faster! Can we go faster?”

Driving the snowmobile, age 5, on the sidewalks of New Baltimore, just before I tipped it over at the curb.  

“Let go! I can do it! I can do it!”  

On my pink huffy bike with the banana seat, braving it for the first time without training wheels.  I felt like Wonder Woman, and I was probably wearing her underoos. The wind was in  my face, and I felt like I was flying.

“Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk.  As long as I can have you here with me, I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans!!!”

Jumping around, dancing, and singing along with Neil Diamond’s song playing on the record player at the babysitter’s house.  I looked forward to Fridays because I could wear my favorite blue jeans,  just for that song, and just for that moment.

Tug of war in the side yard, Red Rover, kickball, go-carts, and up north.  Some of my favorite memories.  If I close my eyes, and go back, I can still feel that childhood joy.  There were so many great moments that I wish had lasted longer.

The one thing they all have in common is adventure. I’ve grown to appreciate my longing for adventure. It seems to keep me alive, eager for the never-ending “bucket list” to be fulfilled.

These are the memories I share when kids ask me to tell them a story. I’m glad they’re there, tucked away but not forgotten. Thankful that there’s so much space left to make more.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Life Lessons from The Lion King

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Lesson 1: There will always be someone, or something, that attempts to deceive you. Don’t listen.  I have experienced this as a single mom.  Choices my children make feel like a reflection of my ability to be a good mother.  My toughest moments occur when I believe the lie that it is my fault, that I am not enough, that I don’t do enough, and that I failed at being a mom.  Once I realized that I was believing the lie, and that it was dragging me down, I saw that their lesson had to be learned, and that their mistake had to be made.  Relying on a strength that is not my own is the secret.  When I am down, I look up.  I reach up, and I am pulled out.  Clarity and wisdom replace the lie.

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Lesson 2: Remember who you are, and what you were created to do.  No one has your fingerprints,  and no one was chosen to do what you were created to do.  Embrace your uniqueness.  Seek the path that has your name on it.  Scar convinced young Simba that his father’s death was his fault, and that no one would ever forgive him.  He had to run away to find his way back.  He had to realize who he wasn’t, in order to realize who he was.  Once he realized that he was the true king, no matter what happened to his father, he realized he was the only one that could fight Scar and take back the land.  

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Lesson 3: Look out for others.  Lift each other up.  Be a village.  Serve instead of looking to be served.  “A King’s most powerful weapon is compassion.”  Mufasa told Simba that he only used his power when he had to.  He didn’t prance around killing animals just for the fun of it, even though he could have.  He genuinely cared about his village, and all of the other parts of the world that made his a better place.  He respected the circle of life.  He looked for ways to teach his son about his true identity, and his rightful place as King. More importantly, he taught him that being a King didn’t just mean power, it included a great responsibility, selflessness, and an awareness of the needs of others. 

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Let’s go!

I’ve always loved bike riding.  The sound of the gravel under the tires takes me back to my pink huffy bike, the breeze in my face, and the feeling of being close to nature bring me to a peaceful place. I get lost in my thoughts, but then my thoughts start to write themselves out in my head, and I follow them.  I commend the baby bunnies who don’t run when I approach.  Their curiosity wins, and their bravery makes me smile.  “Don’t lose your courage,” I tell them.  (In my head, of course).

I spy birds who think I can’t see them through the tress, and deer in the meadows of beautiful purple wildflowers that are just as tall as they are, and huge fish happily jumping out of the water as I pass by.

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I smile at the people I pass.  Some of them smile back, some don’t.  A few of them even look angry when I smiled at them.  It doesn’t bother me though, nothing could steal my bike ride peace.  I hope they find it someday.

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The air seems easier to breathe on the path where I enter the trees.  There are so many of them, and their oxygen fills my lungs.  I can take a deep breath, and I do!!! (without coughing!)

There are a few hills that I coast down, eyes closed, no hands! I love this part.  I feel myself becoming young again, coasting down the streets in the subdivision, feeling “cool,” before racing my sister around the corners.

I have a few favorite trees on the bike path.  They seem to hold many stories.  Stories that are told as people walk by.  Stories that are witnessed as people sit under their beauty.  Stories that float in from the echoes. They wrap their branches around them, and never let go.

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I pass people who are fishing.  Casting out, waiting, or casting out and reeling in immediately.  Each person, with their own way of finding success, or just enjoying the moment.

Tonight, I saw a huge bass being taken off the hook as I rode by.  I wanted to yell, “Great catch!,” like I was from a small town, and this was the local pond.  I yelled it in my head, and the small townspeople yelled back, “Thanks!,” (again, in my head).

That made me smile.

I was still smiling when the next group of walkers passed me by.  I could tell they wondered what I was smiling at.  They’d figure it out, if they looked left and saw the fish. Maybe.

The sunset was beautiful on the lake.  Especially the boat I captured in the middle.  Placed in the perfect place for the picture I took without stopping.  That made me smile too.

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Pictures never do the sunset justice.  It is the experience that a photo cannot capture.

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Great experiences always follow me on my bike rides.  They enter my mind, and then they write themselves.

Tonight I decided to share them with you.

I hope they made you smile.  I hope that one day, we will all be in that town.  We will all smile back at each other, and encourage each other, and that peace will be felt everywhere.

 

Don’t fade away

The people in the pictures began to fade when the future started to change.
Your future, the one where you live life in the right lane, shouldn’t fade. It should be vibrant, and clear.
When you value yourself, know who you are and what you’re worth, you won’t fade.
VALUE: 
the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

We are all VALUABLE.  

Unfortunately, our value has the ability to disintegrate over time, if we let it.

Our value decreases when we don’t stand up for what we believe in, and for who we are.

Our value decreases when we lose sight of where we are, where we want to go, and what we accept instead.

Our value decreases when we go along with things we aren’t comfortable with, hoping that the risk of pain isn’t real.  We hope for the best, and we place our value on a platter.

What you place on the platter can either be cherished or used. It can be appreciated or dismissed. It can be sharpened or it can become dull.

If you value yourself, others will value you.

If your value depends on others, you’ll always be left expecting more.

I’ve recently discovered that my value was determined when I was created. It took me a long time to see it, but it’s always been there. Sometimes, actually several times, I left it on the platter. I didn’t know it was mine. I thought it belonged to the people who gathered around it.

The day I realized it was mine, I adored it. Cherished it. Treated it (myself) differently.

I know it will never fade the way it did in the picture.

It has been with me from the beginning even though I was unaware. It will stay with me until I leave this world and enter eternity.

Vibrant and Clear.

 

 

 

It wasn’t me

Do you think he regrets it? Throwing it all away?

She struggled for a long time, trying to figure out how he could leave.  Leave his kids, his family, his normal life.

Looking in the mirror, after years of seeing the rejection, she finally saw someone else looking back at her.  She saw words on her face that faded as they registered in her mind.

Memories flooded in… words written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror… she didn’t wear lipstick, so whose lipstick was it?… when could someone have been here?… It must’ve been written when he was home during that weekend camping trip she took with her friends… phone numbers written on small pieces of paper in his car… why wouldn’t he throw these away?… “hello? who is this? have you spoken to _____? Yes? This is his wife”… Dinner is ready, on the table, where is he? Endless phone calls that rang straight to voicemail, again… cleared internet histories… guilt became the face he wore, daily.  Denial was his reality.

She asked him these questions, daily, for two years.  She tried to believe the lies, even though her gut told her otherwise.  Her gut became her worst enemy.  The last day of that two years, stuck on the floor, face down on the bathroom floor, she was drowning.  She could hear the kids breaking things in the kitchen, spilling drinks on the carpet, wrecking the house.  Her body was done.  Her mind was gone. Her gut won.

He walked in the door, two hours after dinner was placed on the table.

“Where is your mom?”

“What happened in here?”

“Why is there chocolate pudding all over the couch and all the way down the hall?”

“WHAT IS GOING ON???”

She heard banging on the door above her head.  “OPEN THE DOOR!” Bang. Bang. Bang. “OPEN THE DOOR!!!!” She closed her eyes until the noises stopped.  She wanted the world to stop.

The next day, she decided she would make a call.  The insanity had to stop.  If he wouldn’t tell her the truth, maybe he would tell someone he respected.

A meeting was made.

He told all.  Her gut was right. It was over.

Ten years later, the struggle behind her, as she looked in the mirror again, her mind whispered – “It wasn’t you.” 

Her rejected self, and the words on the face she saw in the mirror… faded.

His choices were made on his own. It was his free will. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but it was his choice.

… It wasn’t me.

 

 

 

“Far From Home” (the new Spider-Man movie)

“I don’t think Tony would’ve done what he did if he didn’t know that you were going to be here after he was gone.”

This line was a revelation for me.  Tony Stark sacrificed his life to save the world because he knew that he could trust Spider-Man to carry on the legacy.

Someone else I know made a similar sacrifice.

Here is the revelation I experienced in that moment, at the movie theater when I heard that line: He chose me, and many others, because He trusted us to carry on His legacy –  to love people, and to tell them about His love for them.

The realization that God chose me for this, made me feel like an Olympic relay race runner who has just been handed the baton.

Tony Stark saw something in Spider-Man that told him he could go, and the rest of the plan would work out. He trusted him to carry on his legacy.

Spider-Man struggled.  He didn’t believe that he could live up to what Iron Man did.  He also didn’t want to leave his “normal” life behind.

Again, I can relate.  It is a daily struggle to do the right thing, and not do the wrong thing.  To swim against the flow, to stand for what I have been called to.  To miss out on things that the world takes part in, things that look fun and harmless, until the long-term consequences creep back up in my memories and remind me of all the reasons they are harmful.  Rules were created for our own protection.  Parents do not allow their children to play in the street so that they won’t get hit by a car.  God provides rules for the same reason – so we won’t get hurt.

Back to the movie, there is another character who has traits that remind me of someone…

The bad guy.  He convinces Spider-Man that he was a more suitable replacement for Iron Man.  Spider-Man didn’t even realize that he had been deceived until several scenes later.  The bad guy I know does the same thing. Constantly. The more good we do, the more people we love, the harder the devil tries to dismantle our efforts.  His goal is to destroy us, and to win us over to the dark side.  He tells us we are worthless.  He encourages us to fear rejection, and he tries to make us give up on everything.

I am thankful that the battle has already been won.  I just need to remember that when I feel like I’m still in the battle.  The devil does not have any weapons that can defeat God.

The bad guy in the movie was discovered, just in time.  As always.

It was a great movie.  I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.  Go see it if you haven’t left already!

 

 

Happiness…

People look at me funny these days.  They can’t figure me out.  I kinda like it. Makes me feel mysterious.  I’m not hiding anything, usually.  (ha ha, just kidding). The only things I hide are my thoughts, sometimes.  The conversations I have with myself, healthy ones, where the thoughts make me giggle.

There was a time in my life where I relied on other people to provide my happiness. It was treacherous.  Unreliable. Messy.

I was in pieces.  The pieces were everywhere, with everyone.  The way people treated me determined how I felt. Never whole, always fragmented.

If I were my Raggedy Ann doll, my hair would’ve been frayed, my clothes ripped, dirty, and hanging off of me.  That doll would go anywhere, and do anything to be accepted.

Looking in the mirror, I was missing parts. I lent them out to people who I thought would love me.  They never did.

Eventually, I stopped looking in the mirror.

Until recently.

I took them back.  All of my pieces, frayed hair, ripped clothes, lost parts.  I walked back through the moments, stood boldly, wore my newfound confidence, and… just… took them back.  Amazingly, I did not experience any conflict.  No one fought me.

Once everything was back in its place, I tiptoed toward the mirror.  I popped my head into just the corner of the mirror, and then my whole face, neck, torso, arms, legs, feet…. It was all there.  Whole.

I breathed in every piece, filled my lungs with, um, happiness? Peace? Whatever it is, it felt amazing.

Miraculously, instantly, I realized that I no longer had to rely on other people to feel true happiness.

Everything I need to be happy is inside of me.

I went on a long journey to figure this out.

The road was paved with pain, heartbreak, defeat, and suffering.  Until… I surrendered.

I left it all behind.

Now, the road is paved with strength, peace, wholeness that I see in the mirror, and happiness.

True happiness that wells up and bursts out of me.

It causes me to smile more often.  I used to smile out of obligation, or as a learned response.  Now, I smile first, because I don’t mind if it’s not returned.  I smile because it makes me feel good to smile.  I like how it can transform people.  It is contagious.

Sometimes, I even smile when someone looks angry, just in case it will break through their unhappiness.

I smile because I know that I won’t run out of them.  An endless love flows out over me, from a creator that made me on purpose.

Unique. Just the way I am.  For a specific purpose.

I haven’t figured out what the exact purpose is yet.  I’m learning that everything that has happened along the way has shaped me.  I’m eager to fall in to that purpose, but I am waiting patiently for clarity.

I’ll keep being mysterious.  I like it.

Emotionally healthy.

Has a nice ring to it.

Happiness…