Shall We Look Back?

It’s New Year’s Eve. I always love looking back at the year on New Year’s Eve. My sister and I have loved this sentimentality for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite New Year’s Eve memories with her was watching some made for TV Liberace movie and the song “I’ll Be Seeing You” struck some chords in our souls and we have since loved that song and loved that memory. Jainie, I love you.

I look back at 2014 with a mix of fond memories as well as heart ache for the lost people in my life.

First, my parents celebrated 50 amazing years of marriage. The toasts that they deserve for 50 years are beyond count. Here’s to many more years, you sweet people.

I went to Italy. It was a life long dream that came true as I trekked over the ocean with some dear friends from grad school. It was an experience that I can never put into words, but I know that it changed my life on many levels.

I turned 40. I love milestones. Looking at my 30s had me in awe. David and I moved to New York City (the untouchable city that this little girl from Indiana never dreamed of visiting let alone living in). I had a baby who changed my life beyond words and taught me more about myself, love and grace in 3 little years than I think I had ever learned in the 37 years prior to her birth. Forty was huge for me. The days leading up to my birthday had me in a weird place thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m getting older. Stop world. Please slow down for one minute.” And then the day arrived and I said, “Come on world, bring it.” And I’ve been feeling the “bring it” attitude since. Forty has been good thus far.

Lost some dear souls this year. Peggy Keeton, the memories I have of you in my life go way back to junior high days. You have always held a very dear place in my heart. Maudine Fee, although I only knew you for a few short years, I feel as though I had known you for a lifetime. You both are whole in the presence of Jesus. I miss you both and I love you dearly.

Got to see Carol Burnett live on stage. For those of you who have known me for several years in my life know that this was something that made me giddy with glee like a kid in a candy shop. Words could not describe the joy that was felt as I sat in the same room with this person.

November marked 20 years that David and I have been together and December marked 18 years of marriage. Where did that time go? Grand Rapids, Columbus, New York City… what’s next I wonder?

Looking ahead to 2015.

I’ll graduate from grad school this year. Wow! That has been a journey. Although there have been times I thought I would lose my mind through the whole experience, I found myself telling people that I was actually having fun and having the time of my life. And it’s true. I love grad school. Looking forward to the doors that may open because of it.

As I look back to when I was a kid and all the grown ups saying “time goes faster the older you get,” I feel as though they were right. It’s flying by and flying fast. Not sure how to hold onto it sometimes. I guess live one day at a time and treasure each day for all that it’s worth. God is good. In the midst of the crazy, the sad, the adventure, the challenge, the amazing and the fun… God is very good. His sustaining grace moves me beyond words. And with that I’ll end my thoughts for this past year and move onto the next.

Happy New Year!

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Feeling Empowered

I have a professor who makes me feel as though I can conquer my greatest fears. She’s an advocate for her students. She listens to some of my craziest ideas, unfinished sentences and feelings of inadequacy. She makes me feel as though she has my back and processes things with me. I think I can speak on behalf of my classmates when saying that she is an amazing person and teacher. And I do know that some of us wish she was our BFF.

I am thankful that I am going through this semester with her at the head of the class. I have been stretched beyond comprehension and have come to the end of this part of the tunnel a completely different person.

Thanks, Vicki. For everything.

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Beautiful and Hopeful

We said good bye to Maudine today. Someone asked me how the service was and I said it was beautiful and hopeful. The songs we sang, the scripture that was read, the song Mark sang and the eulogy that Craig gave; all were just a small snap shot of who this incredible woman was. The slideshow showed some sweet memories that I’m sure were treasures to those who remember their mom, mother-in-law and grandma the way they’d always known her. I only knew her for 4 short years, but for some reason it feels as though she had been a part of my life for so much longer.

I was invited downstairs for dinner with them when we got home. I was a “fly on the wall in Fee-ville” and it was an honor. Sometimes someone was playing a guitar and singing. There was lots of talking and bonding and just being together. I got to talk with Gordon for a little bit and just sit with him. That was a sweet time. So much of the evening I found myself just sitting and looking around at people being together. They’re the Fee’s. Getting together all at one time is not uncommon for this family. However, getting together without the matriarch of the bunch was probably very surreal to them.

My heart is with them as the days, weeks, months and years go by without this sweet woman. Jesus, hold them tight.

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Completely Whole

My friend’s mom went to be with Jesus early this morning. No more pain, no more suffering; just completely whole and renewed in the presence of her Creator.

She said something to me when my daughter was 5 little weeks old. It was something that I took with me and for some reason it kept me sane. This woman with grown children, in their 40s and 50s, said to me, “The years fly by, but the days are eternal.” Yes. This is true. Very true. I hope that when I pass these words along to other moms, that they will calm them the way they calmed me. Thanks, sweet friend.

Goodbye, Maudine. You will be missed. But we know we have hope for a reunion with you and it will be sweet. Enjoy running. Enjoy your reunion with those you’ve been waiting to see again. We’ll see you later. Love you.

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Hearts Are Breaking

My friend’s mother is slowly passing away as I type this blog. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years back, and we have watched her decline from her sharp, witty, clever self for awhile now. She’s a sweet soul, and my heart is broken for my friend and his family as they watch his mother pass and wait to say final good-byes. (Another person passing in my life who has been struck by a sad disease that just takes them away slowly from the people who love them.) I hate this fallen world. I hate the pain. I hate the suffering. I know that while my friend’s heart breaks, God’s heart breaks, too. He hates how fallen this world is; hence the reason He sent His Son. There’s hope for her; she’ll be with Jesus. She’ll be whole again. She’ll be sharp, clever and witty again. Her husband has Alzheimer’s. He’s still sharp enough to know that he’s losing his best friend down here on this earth – his beloved love of his life. God, hold on tight to that man. God, hold on tight to my friend whose parents are slowly leaving. They were his first friends. Be with my friend as his very first friend in the whole world will be leaving soon. But thank you for the grace that you give in abundance as their hearts are breaking. Love on them with everything You are, please.

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A Moment in Time for My Memories

I received one of the best birthday gifts of my life this year when I turned 40; tickets to a Broadway show. Without getting long winded about how I hemmed and hawed over what I was going to see, I will just fast forward to the part where my sister-in-law Meg mentioned the show “Love Letters” of which I knew nothing about. So I looked it up. There staring at me on the page was Carol Burnett. Could this be true? Could I actually have the chance to see Carol Burnett live on stage? This is something I had only been dreaming about since I was a kid.

Fast forward to today. I patiently worked through my day, knowing that at 7pm, one of my long time dreams would become a reality. I got out of work and I nervously walked to the train station with all of the anticipation of Charlie who had won the golden ticket and was finally going to meet Willy Wonka. I had butterflies in my stomach, as did my beloved sister who shares my excitement with me to such a level that only she and I can understand. I met David at the theatre and walked in to quite a lovely, quaint little intimate theatre that I never imagined was on Broadway. Gorgeous place (Brooks Atkinson Theatre for those who are wondering). I had written a letter for Carol earlier in the day, and saw the house manager and asked if she would please deliver. I can only trust that she did (fingers crossed). We got to our seats and I had no words. I had nothing to say. I had been waiting for this moment for so long that I didn’t know what to say. I just know I was happy. And then the lights dimmed.

She walked on stage with Brian Dennehy and the tears flowed. A moment in time that I will forever keep tucked away in my memory.

The play was very well done. The story was beautiful and the two of them did a remarkable job at bringing two characters to life as they sat in two chairs at a table reading love letters. It was the same Carol that I have always known and loved; same hand gestures, same intonations, same facial expressions. I loved seeing all of that in person. Beautiful.

She didn’t sign autographs at the end of the night. She quietly left out another door as we all waited by the stage door. That’s ok though. I was in the same room with a person who was a part of a dream when I was a kid, and as I wrote in my letter to her, “Even if I don’t get to meet you, I can still check this off of my bucket list.”

As Jainie said to me the other day, “Rome and Carol Burnett all in the same year!” Yep. What a way to spend the year that I turn 40. I am happy.

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Ah, Voting

Ah, politics. The thing that gets people so uptight. I hate politics. I hate discussing them because they create a tension that divides people and turns friends, and sometimes even family, against each other because neither side really takes the time to hear the other person’s thoughts.

I grew up voting one party and my thoughts and beliefs have evolved into voting for the other as I have gotten older. Have I turned my back on my core beliefs? No. Not at all. I am in disbelief how I used to judge folks though for voting differently. Now I hope that I don’t judge as I used to and I’ll just vote the way I believe.

When it comes down to it, here’s the bottom line – we live in an ugly, fallen, screwed up world that tries to fix itself by relying on mortal man. The only thing that can fix this country and this world is the love of Jesus. Until that is realized, there will still be tension, there will still be politics and people will still be divided.

I will cast my vote today. A privilege fought for and I am thankful. And as a woman in this country, an additional thankfulness because I know women in other countries today don’t have that honor…. yet.

Until the Kingdom of God reigns beautifully upon this earth… Onward!

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