Thursday, January 19, 2017

You're Here

Dear Deede,

Your heart was the size of Texas. I realize everything is bigger in Texas, but it really is true. To add to the size of your heart was your phenomenal smile. I miss it, and I'm thinking of you more today than other days because today is your heavenly birthday.

I'm not sure why, but I just felt like writing. Since you passed away Jesse took up blogging, and I caught the spirit, and I have found that I really enjoy writing. I'm not a professional by any means, but I love getting to put my thoughts and feelings into words. I have realized that 3 years after you have passed your love still spills out from others that knew you. You loved and cared for so many, and in doing so you taught others to love. I'll never forget how you gave of your talents, time and treasures to so many over the years and how you never expected a thing in return. You loved your Lord, your family, your friends, and almost anybody else that fell into any other category. Your heart was huge.

I will forever remember when I met you on my first trip to Texas to meet Jesse. You welcomed me with open arms, and I remember thinking that I instantly felt like I was part of the family. I'd love to know how many hours we spent chatting my first weekend there, or how many cups of coffee mixed with your homemade cocoa I drank. I still treasure my coffee mug with Texas wildflowers...that is my special memory of you.

Do you remember the last talk we had before you passed away? You mentioned how you hoped the girls always knew how much you loved them and how you wished you could be there for them. Trust me, they know. We talk about it all the time. We still listen to the book with your voice recording. And, since our youngest is a spitting image of you, I think of you almost every day. Jesse doesn't really see it, but I certainly do. Not only does she look like you, but she has your mannerisms, hand gestures, voice inflections, etc. I think at least once a week I say, "You look just like your Grandma. She loved you both so much."

Did you know that your daughters are also so much like you? You'd be so proud of them. We all met in Portland this summer as a family, and there were so many times they did something and I thought, "Mom would be so proud." Audra had set up the room in a super cute way, making them feel so special when we arrived. Do you remember that princess tent you made them when we came to Texas that last time? It was very reminiscent of that. They both did so much to make that trip a wonderful time, paying attention to all the little details, just like you would. And Sarah....who could forget all the crafts and fun projects she had ready for the girls? They were in heaven. Your love for our girls shone through your girls.

About know he never shows his emotions at all, but I know he misses you. I remember watching him hug you for the last time, and I wish he could do that again. You'd be so proud of him and the husband and dad he is to us. He works hard both at home and at work. Jesse loves all his girls, even though he is outnumbered by the amount of estrogen in the house. He takes all our emotions and energy in stride and loves us unconditionally. Like the girls are just like you, he is just like his father. I call him "Ron" all the time. He walks like him, has the same mannerisms, the same laugh, etc.

You are missed, but we are so thankful that you knew the one thing needful and shared the good news with others. You are now free from that horrible cancer and all the worries of this world. You knew what you received through your God-given faith in Jesus: forgiveness of sins, and eternal life in heaven. And now, we look forward to the day we can rejoice with you in heaven.

One of the most vivid memories I have is when we were leaving after our last trip to Texas. Do you remember when we were getting into the car and our eldest jumped out of the car, ran up to the porch and gave you another hug to say, "Te Amo, Grandma?" That was a moment to treasure. I think today is a wonderful day to say that again.

All our love....

Simply put....You're here. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A New Perspective

Before our daughter turned 6 this past weekend we asked her what she wanted for her birthday.  Her answer was rather matter-of-fact, "I'd like some more Shopkins and a new house."

I could discuss my confusion over what the excitement is over Shopkins, but I'll let that slide. It wasn't all too surprising to me that she mentioned wanting a newer, bigger house. She has been in several bigger and nicer homes than ours, and after visiting those homes she has mentioned how she doesn't want to have play dates at our house because it it is "too small and dirty." I'm not going to lie, we have some major decluttering to do, but that is another whole topic for a different blog.

Her response was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about how blessed we truly are in the home we have. This topic has been fresh on my mind since the start of last year when I started to read and journal in the book 364 Days of Thanksgiving by Rev. Andrew Schroer. To say that it brought a shift in my perspective of gratefulness would be an understatement.

The book is set up with some introductory chapters on being grateful. If you grab this book make sure you don't skip those chapters - they are a great way to focus your mind on this book. The author then has a devotion at the start of every two weeks. Then you journal something you are thankful for every day. At the end of every two week period there is an area for reflection. The goal is to not repeat anything during the course of the year to show how much (whether big or small) you have been blessed with in your life.

I have always been grateful for what the Lord has blessed us with, but this helped me see those blessings in things that might even be a trial. From then on I was able to focus on the blessing, not the trial or the stage of life we currently are in at this time. 

As I looked back on the year I had to smile that one thing I wrote about was the very thing my daughter was wanting for her birthday. Yes, what in her eyes is a "dirty" house is actually a sign of our abundance of blessings, let alone the fact that we have a warm house at all. When I perused my journal a bit more I realized it ranged from some "major" things to some things that might seem mundane or inconsequential. As little as those things are in our lives, they are truly still a blessing.

I was thankful for PEOPLE.
You are probably thinking this is pretty obvious. Of course I wrote about my parents, siblings, husband, children, extended relatives, high school and college friends, friends from every job I've had since college, former students, book club friends, church friends, the girls' teachers, the hairstylist I've had for 8 years, our amazing doctors that take such good care of us, etc. The list could go on, but in all seriousness, have you ever sat back and reflected on all the groups of people in your life from early on and what an extreme blessing they have been to you?

It goes beyond that, though. I had entries about that lady I never met who paid for our groceries at Hy-Vee, the ladies at the library who are always so nice to my children, farmers who work so hard, my customers, the speech teachers I had in grade school, the friendly worker at Kwik Trip with the funny hats that always makes me smile....I'm thankful for the "strangers" in my life. Whether they are close to my heart or new to me, people are a blessing. Do you see what I mean?

I realized I was thankful when I turned CHORES INTO BLESSINGS.
I haven't ever met someone that truly enjoyed doing laundry. I certainly don't. But how refreshing to reframe my mind to the fact that our family has enough clothes to make laundry piles. We are blessed with an abundance of clothes. I'm also thankful for the washer and dryer we have.

Making and cleaning up the table at night after supper...that turns into being thankful for the fridge to store the food to the stove, crock pot and microwave to prepare the food. This doesn't look past the face that due to the abundance of food on our table we are also able to enjoy leftovers.

Jesse has to mow the lawn and shovel the driveway, but how blessed we are to have a lawnmower and snowblower.

I don't like putting sheets on our beds, but we have beds and we have sheets. Do you see what I mean?

I'm thankful for many ABSTRACT THINGS.
Think we could all agree that a night of uninterrupted sleep is a blessing, as are snow days, peaceful moments between children, humor, central air, patience, freedom, technology, grocery pick-up, changes of seasons, music, random acts of kindness...and on and on. When was the last time you stopped and were thankful for something like humor in your life? It may be a little thing, but a blessing all the same. Do you see what I mean?

I'm thankful for my FAITH.
Where would I be without the comfort of salvation, heaven, grace, forgiveness, prayer, trust, peace, baptism, hope, love, joy....this is my foundation. I'm thankful that my parents shared this with me, and their parents shared with them, and so on. This could be an entire blog in itself.

In the end, 2016 was a year to refocus on the blessings. They are everywhere. Bills may overwhelm, challenges at work might pop up, we may fall ill, etc., but God is GOOD. I learned not to only be thankful FOR everything, but be thankful IN all things. 

Simply you see what I mean?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Time Will Tell

Oops....there it went. Did you miss it last night? With a tick of the clock, a flip of the calendar, or the drop of a ball in New York...there it went. The passing of time. It really was just another ordinary day moving into another, but the significance of a new year always makes people stop and contemplate it: TIME.

On our It Works team we were encouraged to have a word for 2017, and since time has been on my mind lately that is the word I have chosen. It probably doesn't come off as the most inspirational word out there, but it ties in with so many facets of my life. I kept trying to replace TIME with something more exciting or motivational, but since it is pivotal to me right now, I kept coming back around to TIME.

A few weeks ago Jesse got intentional with setting personal and professional goals and setting aside time for specific things. At first I thought some of it seemed a little overboard, like who sets an alarm to go TO bed? Seriously, it seemed strange. Yet, as time went on I could see the benefits of it. Jesse was spending more quality time with the girls, helping out more around the house, working hard to improve himself professionally, and our communication improved. When I saw his results I knew it was time to change.

Have you ever tried to do a lot of things, but realized that you weren't really doing any of them very well? That was me. That is me. What I realized was that it wasn't working. I wasn't keeping up with our house, with quality family time, with my business, etc. There were so many times that I got to the end of the day or week and I wondered how I had done so little with my time. How did I squander it all away?  So, I chose to say "no" to some things. It was time to refocus, and the way that I could do that would be with getting organized with my goals and my time. 

I've always been a visual person. so instead of keeping my schedule in my head, I needed it written on paper. I needed a planner. A friend steered me in the direction of a Passion Planner, and it seemed like the perfect one for me. I really enjoy it because it gave direction to my goals, and it helped me focus on my priorities and see how they all fit into my day-to-day schedule.

So, I'm set. I have Week One scheduled and ready to go. I know it is easy to think big when it comes to goals. I realize this will be far from easy, but I'm ready to fight for it. One-on-one time with my girls? Quality family time? Time for personal development? Time to work towards my health goals? Extra time to show appreciation to my customers? Time to learn to be a leader? Time to make new acquaintances and build new relationships? Time to grow in my faith? I'm ready to put the time into making time for these things.

I'm fully aware that just because I bought a planner and I wrote some dream goals it doesn't mean that it will happen. I would be completely naive if I for once thought that since I've made these plans then the following results WILL happen. How brazen of me to think such things because...

...I could plan phenomenal quality family time and circumstances beyond my control could foil those plans.

...I could set some fitness and health goals for myself, but I might become injured or fall ill and that would all be for naught.

...I could have daily goals set and tasks to do to improve my business, all to see not another customer or teammate join my team.

I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the picture. So, will TIME still be my word for 2017? You bet! While I'm excited to have some focus to my schedule instead of flailing around attempting to complete day-to-day tasks, I also know that I am not the one in charge. How extremely frustrating it would be if I did everything that I had planned, only to see things not unfold that way? I can only imagine the utter madness some must feel when they think they "take the wheel" in life. Through this all, I take heart remembering the passage from Proverbs 16:9: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

So, I will be faithful with the talents and strengths given to me. I will high-five the victories, but also pray for the peace and understanding to know that when it doesn't go "my way," it is because our all-knowing God is watching over us. I'm looking forward to 2017, whatever may come my way.

Simply put...time will tell.

Psalm 31: 14 - 15a