Her Children Will Rise and Call Her…

Decades ago there was a woman who identified herself as wife and mother. She had a heart for Jesus, and this would come to sustain her more than she may ever have imagined. It is easy, in such a role, to find yourself in the details of sack lunches, ironing shirts and after work embraces, greeting your husband at the end of his day. When her husband found himself unfaithful and interested in a life & family with someone else, leaving her and her four daughters, it may have been hard to imagine herself at all- for a minute…

These days this scenario is almost expected, and there are programs and plans to help. Decades ago, this was not the case. To be the left, carrying the load, well- I can only imagine she endured judgement and bigotry at times, at the hands of others maybe so trapped in their fear. An absent husband/father and the either compassion or disapproval of others will not put food in your daughters’ bellies, so this beautiful woman had no choice.

She rose.

In an era where men were still handed most opportunities, she marched into a bank and offered them herself. She presented herself with such honesty: this would be her first job, she was an abandoned single mom, she knew she would work hard, and she did. Many years later she would retire from that very same bank. Times were so different then that, truthfully, we may have a tough time even understanding how isolating and brave this all had to have been. While her friends were lunching and sharing in each others lives, this beautiful soul would miss class parties and the like, just to keep power on in her very modest apartment. These days single motherhood is such a thing, and working mothers are very common, but this story is more. Even though single motherhood and working motherhood are among the most common elements of todays society, the fact that this woman’s life fell utterly apart and she rose in the morning, rising to give her daughter’s life. Rising to create a life that was so full of something bigger than any dollar could buy.

Rising up and moving past is not something common these days either, but maybe that has never really been on trend…

Beyond that, any of us who have been parents for any point in time know that parenthood is hard. So hard, and going at it alone only multiplies that. This incredible woman raised four incredible women. Women who went on to raise incredible kids. While no one is perfect, these 5 women have set the standard for keeping family at the center of the vitalist of priorities, also in a time when family grows less and less important.

There is not a person out there who could not learn something life affirming from knowing these girls or their mother. These days, most of girls themselves find themselves grandmothers. Their family has seen illness, loss, struggle, death and heartbreak. The tragedy which altered their world at the start of this story did not cripple or eternally victimize these five women, though it could have. It did not create an opportunity for them to settle down and live off of charity. It did not inspire deep, life long rebellion and acting out. Did it devastate them? yes. This woman, whom I admire beyond words, worked hard every day for her family.  In rising above and with such courage, she planted the seeds which would grow what was necessary, in her daughters, to stand throughout the heartaches and struggles they would face. She fought hard, for her family. She prayed hard, for her family. She was in the trenches for these girls, without ceasing. What began as clothes on their bodies and heat in their home continued through dating, marriage, childbirth, some divorce, heartbreak, health problems and even burying one of her own beautiful daughters. She still stands strong for these girls and their children, and their children’s children. Having known this beautiful soul since I was sixteen, I have to believe that if we are earning “jewels in our crown”, in heaven, for the beautiful things we do on this earth, this woman is going to have a castle filled to the brim with jeweled crowns.

Her daughters continue her legacy, rising up and fighting for the ones they love. They are united, kind and supportive and their children have become this as well. Among them is so much success, many geographical locations and, at the core of everything, family.

When I was challenged to write about a woman, a heroine, whom I have known in life who has gone above and beyond, sacrificed and inspired, there was no one else I could imagine. I met this soul when I was sixteen, visiting her tiny apartment with her granddaughter, who was my friend. I had no idea the ways that this woman would be so important in my life. She has stood beside and fought for me more than any one I’ve had. She is tiny in stature and fierce in heart, even so much as going up against my husband 18 years ago for his own adultery and abandonment. There she stood, taking him on and this man of 5′ 11″ towered over this tiny little woman and yet the only thing he was feeling was terrified. She, one of her amazing daughters (who would become my mentor and one of my dearest friends) and her own mother made three of four people who attended my wedding shower, when the world I’d lived in had all but thrown me away. I have recovered from miscarriage in her home, cried on her shoulder, prayed beside her and had so much loving conversation.

Any popular story I hear about people moving great obstacles to accomplish bold things simply does not hold a candle to her, in my book. What she had to do (and really, when she had to do it) combined with how her own daughters turned into loving mothers, fierce advocates for their family, and wild supporters of others- that is everything right there. She is a heroine with an amazing heroic legacy.

There is a film releasing on the 31st called The Zoo Keeper’s Wife. (It is based on the novel of the same title.) It is the story of Antonina and Jan Żabiński, a Christian couple who save and house hundreds of Jews during WWII. This not only an inspiring and life affirming story of heroism and faithfulness, but in a time such as this, it is a necessary story of humanity tearing down the walls of religion to help others, regardless of theirs. 

The world is scattered with brave souls, their beauty and their stories there for us to learn from and do with. I am so blessed by knowing this beautiful woman who I have shared with you. Who would you have written about? I would love for you to share. On the 31st, at 12:00 a.m., I will choose a winner (at random) to receive a $25 Fandango card… (comment additionally if you tweet or FB share to be granted extra entires.)

On Marching forth…

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Awhile ago I wrote about battling my own demons regarding what was happening last year, around this time, versus now. I think that maybe I had it all figured out, in my head, that by this point in my life, I would know more. (and let’s be honest, be more…) When I think of a 40 year old wife and mother, there are a series of things that I personally feel shouldn’t be in my plan. (in yours, or anyone else’s, its fine.) How after a 22 year long relationship, I we should not have separated. Sure, life would happen, and there for about a year it would happen BIG, but by that point shouldn’t we have it figured out? Or, how after losing 138 lbs, I shouldn’t gain 20. That doesn’t even make sense. What about how, after so many years, we shouldn’t be living in a tiny apartment crippled by debt.

While it would be true to say that I had other plans, the more accurate reality is that I had other expectations, for me.

Between you and I, I am trying so hard to work through those things and deal with life differently. I don’t want to live with the weight of the feelings that accompany the disappointment in my life and where it’s at. Have I made mistakes? Yes, of course I have. Have things happened which weren’t my fault? Again, of course. At the end of the day, however, it simply doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter.

I feel like my head is a little clearer, and my heart is a little less muddled and stuck in the hauntings of the past year. This is due some to praying about it, some to talking with friends and Chw about it, and due to just realizing truths about myself. This life, until the day I no longer take breath, will be a journey. There will be peaks and there will be valleys. We expect and accept this within the boundaries of the shared stories from the lives and journeys of others, but when it comes to the way we perceive our own life adventures- our expectations are tremendously different.

This month I am journeying forth a little differently. March is always BIG for me, big with the sentiment and big with the pressure. March is my birth month and my birthdays and I have always been without peace. I wanted to share with you how I plan to take control of this journey (in a healthy way) and move forward, navigating through it, to something better…

Me:

  • Do a photo of the day challenge on Instagram.
  • Do a 31 day Scripture writing challenge.
  • Read a fiction book, a memoir and a nonfiction book.
  • Be a better breakfaster
  • REALLY celebrate my birthday, how I want to celebrate it.
  • Choose books or gentle creativity on those days when life (and fibromyalgia) make major functioning too difficult, instead of turning on the tv.
  • continue striving to be intentional in the relationships I hold most dear.
  • Journal. It doesn’t matter how, just that I do.

Home:

  • keep fresh flowers home, when I am home.
  • experiment more with essential oils.
  • keep wholesome and delicious things made so that my family always has something good and desirable to eat.
  • continue the journey of minimizing and striving for less.

Family:

  • celebrate my grandson’s 6th birthday.
  • spend quality time visiting my daughter.
  • celebrate my son’s birthday, though he is far-far away.
  • celebrate my youngest daughter’s crossing into adulthood.
  • make moments momentous, without the aid of stuff.

Create:

  • experiment more with photography.
  • make significant progress on a writing project I am doing.
  • Play around with baking, here and there.
  • Do more with my hands.

Health:

  • I reiterate: be a better breakfaster.
  • try, try, try to do the ACV thing.
  • experiment with DIY tooth polish.
  • Be more active.
  • Lose 10 lbs.
  • Be more intentional and deliberate with Yoga.

Spring is such an encouraging time of year. Already I am feeling motivated by it. What about you? What are you working on or looking forward to, this spring?

A house/A home…

I have the heart of a true dog lover…

When Chw and were young and a bit crazy, and two new kids living in upstate New York, we grew our little family with an adorable little roly-poly Golden Retriever puppy named Makaila. Makaila became the very best friend of our little Gen, when she came home to us.251415_10150202049326277_874492_n

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When Makaila was five years old, an adorable little newborn black and barely white puppy fell into our laps. We named her Paisley, for no particular reason other than I had dreamed of getting a puppy named Paisley the night before. Paisley was tiny and dependent and bonded to me very, very deeply. As she grew, my heart wrapped so tightly around that precious little dog.

In August of Makaila’s ninth year, we learned she had bladder cancer and in a very short amount of time she made her way across that rainbow bridge. We had her cremated and her ashes were scattered at a Christmas tree farm, which I still think is the loveliest of things…

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A couple of months later Paisley was lonely for a canine companion and we foolishly jumped at the first puppy we found. She is called Emma and she is a character. She and Paisley never hit it out. Emma can be funny, but she is seldom sweet and often her soul is more fire than love (in a sassy and prideful way, of course). She is the most un-dog any of us have ever known, she has made home what it is and we love her quirky ways all the same.

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Ironic as it seems, this past August was Paisley’s 9th year and she too found her way to the Rainbow Bridge. It was sudden and gut wrenching and a piece of me went with her. I think a piece of all of us, even little Emma, went too. She was the epitome of love in a dog. The most pleasing, comforting, loving, accepting, reassuring creature I have ever known…

Emma has had a tough time recovering the loss of the other canine presence. She lost herself a bit and is finally emerging. My husband assures me there will be no future dogs for us. My heart both sighs with relief at his words, and aches to beg for another.

I love my kids and they make the two of us a family, binding us together and bringing about rhyme, reason and purpose… But our dogs, our dogs have made our houses home. They’ve breathed life when the darker times convinced us there was none. Their wet noses have whispered love into the loneliest of moments and often been the only things that dragged me from the pits of a depression hell in the dark days.

Dogs make the world a better place…

Tell me about any pets you have loved?

Thanks to the release of the new film A Dog’s Purpose (based on a WONDERFUL film, of the same name), which opens on 1/27, I am happy to give away a $25 Fandango credit to one reader! The giveaway ends at Midnight on 1/26! To enter simply comment here with your story of a dog you’ve loved.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. And just in case you missed it, here’s a link to a post I wrote about their charity support.

A dog’s purpose…

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You guys… I am so excited about this movie! I read the book, years ago, and loved it so much. As a dog lover, it is the sort of book that just stuck with me. The movie looks amazing, and emotional, and it seems like a healing balm for my sweet Paisley, whom I lost a few months ago. (She definitely served a purpose!)

I wanted to share the trailer with you, just in case you haven’t seen it, or are just wanting some Friday dog love!

Also, because this is super cool, if you click here, you can upload a photo of your dog and celebrate their purpose in your life! It is a wonderful, interactive way to brag on our furry loves a bit! In addition to bragging on our dogs, we can make a donation to Best Friends Animal society! Even better, for every donation, Universal is matching them up to $25,000! So not only is this a heart warming movie, but their using their film to make an awesome impact!

Connected…

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As I was plugging right along with everyone else, moving toward the beginning of 2016, it was hard to catch my breath. While everyone else seemed to be swimming and gliding along, just fine, I was drowning. I knew that every area of my life was in complete disarray, it was completely unmanageable and I knew the only answer was to let go.

Somehow, amidst the depression, thoughts of suicide, long days of sobbing and aching in my bed and the overall absence of self, I began emerge and realize how disconnected I was. It was on January the fourth, 2016, that I finally realized what my word was supposed to be. Connect…

At that point I identified as a Christian, yet had no actual connection to God. I was technically a wife, yet my husband wanted nothing to do with me. I had a hard time finding anything that defined me outside of motherhood, and my kids were all three spread out over the country, and terribly far from me. I had not seen my son in two years, I was as disconnected as humanly possible from the very small girl I had raised into the 16-year-old she was. I was of no value or worth to the most important people to me, and it was on this tide that I had floated until my life became something more akin to nightmare than what I had hoped for/dreamed of/worked towards. I remember telling whoever would listen, in those early January days, that I felt like every morning waking was like waking to a nightmare rather than from one. I wanted to sleep all of the time because sleep held dreams with my husband, with my kids, with moments which had once been true but no longer were… Awake rhymed with ache, which was all I did and let me tell you- it was excruciating. In my 40 years of life I have never known anguish like I did in those days.

How would I connect? I did not know. What would it mean to me? I could not say. Was I terrified? Absolutely.

Today, on December the 30th, I can’t help but look back.

Important things to note:

  • I no longer feel like that upon waking.
  • I no longer need to sleep to be.
  • I no longer struggle to know who I am, outside of being a wife or a mother.
  • I am both a wife and a mother, by choice. It may aid to define me, but I am something more.

When I was least expecting it, still drowning a little, I found my way to God. It was raw and ugly because I was ugly and raw. It involved Sunday mornings in church alone, (something I had never, ever done before) and these Sunday mornings always involved tears. Words were sung and spoken which reached deep inside of me and began to stitch and sew me into something new, deeper and better. I began meeting and praying with someone who, alongside of me, dissected me, my depression, my need to take care of others and cast aside myself. I bared all to her and she met me there, without judgement and together we trudged through. (This is something I had never, ever done before.)

Slowly I allowed my need to control the perception of others and just let go of that too. It didn’t matter what they thought. I evaluated, with honesty, whose opinions of me truly mattered and the list was very small. As time passed I began to let go of the toxic ones I thought I’d needed. My relationships with my sister and a few friends grew deeper because I found I was more able to engage in those ways, when I wasn’t tugged in unhealthier ones.

Still I ached for my marriage and my motherhood. As the other things seemed to clear and grow me, these two things seemed to kill me more. It was a journey. A necessary journey which I probably could have gone through while still in my family, but life played out differently and I went through it alone. I learned a lot alone. I learned about me, my motivations, patters, limits… These were things I had never really known before. Being the product of a society that touts sentiments such as Where there’s a will, there’s a way, I had naively believed if I could write it on a to-do list or if _____________ over there could do it, I could too and if I didn’t I was lazy and worthless. I grew to not only admit, but fully accept that I am not _______________. What works for them may not work for me… I am a woman whose body has had a hard life. I have a chronic condition which gives me limits and in order for my body to last many more years, (and my heart, and my soul, and my mind) I need to have grace for those limits. They too, do not define me.

I was able to see my son and spend time with him; take an emotional road trip which led to confrontations, endless laughter and healing; I was able make a handful of precious friends; I worked in two entirely different job fields which each taught me a lot about myself and my goals/heart; I reconnected with my mother with whom I’ve been estranged for what feels like a lifetime; I came home and am working on my marriage (something that felt impossible 9-12 months ago); I was there for the birth of my grandson and cut his cord (something I was certain I’d miss so far away) and have been able to spend endless amounts of time loving on him; I was able to fulfill a life long dream of exploring New England in the fall; I reconnected with an old friend who had severely wounded me some 11 years ago; I got back in touch with the writer inside of me who had been buried under so much gunk… And it goes on and on and on… The people I’ve had the chance to meet, the unexpected experiences I have been privy to. Along the way, every second of this journey I would say to myself over and over again: Connect. Connect. Connect. Connect… And I did.

The lamp is worthless unless we plug it in. I had been for years, like that socketless lamp. I am no more.

My word for 2017 is MOVE. The depth of how far this word can reach is intimidating. I knew weeks ago that it was meant to be my 2017.

How will it look? I don’t know, but I am ready…