She’s Honest and True

I find myself continually amazed by the girl who was placed in my life about 8 1/2 years ago. She is honest and true. She is bright and creative. She is loving and kind. She has emotional intuition that blows my mind and I find myself blessed beyond measure that God would choose me to be this girl’s mother. I feel loved by His choice. Tears come to my eyes and a lump forms in my throat as I think of the abundant joy of my daughter.

I know, I know “wait until she’s a teenager” a lot of you parents who are reading this are saying. Ok. I’m sure the day will come when I’ll be pulling my hair out wondering what the hell to do with this kid who has her own opinion and makes her own stubborn choices, and so on and so on and so on. Ok. That day will come. Those teenage years will arrive and I’m sure I have no idea how it will be (comparable to those expectant parents who blissfully await their sweet little bundle of goodness, and those of us who know those sleepless nights smile and nod and think “oh just you wait”).

But this is what I know for now… I have an honest kid who tells me hard things. It’s not only my heart that has been through the wringer, but so has hers. Not only did her parents divorce, but her mom moved her 3 states away from everything she ever knew, to start a new life. This kid has told me some really hard things, with all of her heart, her guts and her tears. And you know what I hope? Is that when she hits those teenage years, that she’ll continue to tell me the hard things. That she’ll continue to be honest with me and with those around her. That she’ll continue to feel the unconditional love of God no matter what path she might take.

I’m currently sitting on an airplane flying home from NYC after my daughter has just spent the weekend with her father. I know it’s not easy for her to leave her dad. I absolutely respect how hard that must be. But I must say that I’m looking forward to getting back to the quiet that is what we now know as home. Gail picking us up from the airport, all of us heading back to work and school; and we move on. We move on. One more step into being an 8 1/2 year old in 3rd Grade. One more step into life together – real and raw, honest and true, being who we are and loving life for all its worth.

Thanksgiving is this week. I have a boatload of goodness for which to be thankful. God is good. My heart and my belly are at peace. Blessed beyond measure and grateful beyond words.

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25 Years

I met her when I was just a little younger than Mathilda. She was an incredible woman; she was kind and funny and smart. She was my first grade teacher and one of the sweetest friends of my life. Ah, the memories.

I lost four teeth in that class that year, and she played “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” and it was a funny joke as the years went by as she would put on that record when I would come to visit her classroom for Christmas when I had moved on to Junior High and High School. I broke my arm my first grade year, falling off the monkey bars. I remember her running over to me, as she was on recess duty, and holding me. Tender memory. Fast forward to junior high and high school and I have fun memories of talking to her on the phone, tying up the only phone line in our house for good long talks. I still have cards that she sent me in the mail – Birthdays and hellos. I was looking through my boxes of memories just recently while unpacking my house and I found the yearbook page from when I was in first grade. I saw her face… it made me pause. My eyes are a little teary now just thinking about it. I cross-stitched a picture for her when I was in high school. It was my first huge detailed project – a school yard with a teacher and students. That was hard work and one of my most favorite Christmas presents to give to someone.

It was the spring of 1993 when I learned that this beloved woman had cancer. The news stopped me in my tracks. It made no sense. I had lost track of her for a little bit as I was busy with my senior year in high school, and when another teacher at Leesburg told me the news, I regretted that I had lost touch and not to mention, such precious time. I graduated from high school a few months later and my friend came to my open house and made sure she was the last person to sign my guest book, she wanted it that way.

I went to college that fall. As time went by, my friend was losing the battle to the cancer. I was losing one of the most amazing people I had ever encountered in my lifetime. I made several trips from Grand Rapids to Warsaw just to see her. The last time I saw her would be just a few days before she passed. Oh, it was a beautiful visit. We laughed. We cried. We just sat together to just be.

Judy Frank, 25 years have passed. I still sit here and write words of my memories about you and I laugh and I cry and I find myself missing you very much. I find myself wondering what life would have been like had God had a different plan with the number of your days. I find myself thinking about how much my sweet Mathilda would just love you and you her. She has found her very own amazing teacher in elementary school and I love hearing about how much she loves her. I completely understand her joy, as I was once there so many years ago.

My dear sweet friend, you remain a treasure. I am thankful that you were, and continue to be, a part of my life and a part of my heart.

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Grace. Daily.

When a song begins to play and it takes you back in time to when you were young, naive and had fallen in love with the someone who you thought would be in your life forever… and you are stopped in your tracks… your heart stops. You can’t breathe for a moment. You can’t help but pause. You pause to remember that there was once this young girl who at one point in time wore rose colored glasses and lived in bliss.

This young girl grew up. She experienced life. Year after year small pieces of her rose colored glasses fell away and she one day realized that sometimes one has to live through the hard in order to experience the good. That sometimes your world has to be turned upside down in order for it to be made upright again.

I’ve distanced myself from the one who caused the hurt. I have moved on. Grace. Daily. Grace that holds me up when I just don’t know if I can walk another step. And then finally, when there are more sunny days than gray, I find myself walking with a content heart, in a life of peace. And now I know that even when the song plays I can still walk in strength alongside the One who pours it over me every single minute, hour and day of my life. Grace. Daily.

 

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They Made It

It’s interesting. I saw a sweet older couple on the subway today, being cute little tourists in this big crazy city, and I heard myself say, “They made it.” I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there’s a huge story that only they know, and little old me can only see the present, and I have no idea what their story is that led up to today. But I still find my first thought being, “They made it.” And the sweet little old husband shows care for his sweet little old wife and it catches my eye. “They made it” is an endearing phrase in my thoughts and I find myself smiling for them. Do I yearn for this same care? You bet I do. Did I ever receive this care in my relationship? Yes, but rarely. So much so that I can barely remember receiving it. For the man I was married to had no idea how to give it; he only knew how to take it. Maybe I sound all grumpy by saying that. Meh. Maybe I am. Instead, I think I’m a little tender today as I saw yet another old couple who made it. They endured. They “look” as though they give and take, together, filling each other’s heart tanks. Someday that may happen for me. Someday. Who knows if or when. Until then I’ll continue to smile when I see some little old couple who made it, and I’ll be happy for them.

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A Branch Resting in the Vine

I had this feeling this morning that I was a branch that was about ready to snap. So much going on. So much has happened in the past few months to lead up to this breaking point, and so much unknown coming down the road. I felt like if I had one more thing added to my plate that I was going to snap in two. And I went into the bathroom at work and sat on the floor and melted into a puddle of tears. I know, I know – this whole divorce thing, transition to a new chapter, what-have-you, can make a person feel like they’re riding a roller coaster. I know this. But my goodness, the days when the tears hit and they keep flowing without stopping, are really hard and draining days, and I just want to go back to a day with sunshine. So while I was sitting in my puddle of tears, and I felt like I was a branch turning into a weak twig, something hit me… I am a branch, yes. But I am a branch sustained and supported by the One and only True Vine and a little bit of chapter 15 from the book of John came to mind. And I found myself saying, “God, if you would just reach down and give me Your strength, love, grace, mercy, courage, energy, care, focus… all that You are, and help me to rest in the absolute fact that You, the Vine, can sustain me beyond everything, I would be most grateful. And honestly, all of a sudden, the weakening twig that I had pictured in my head became a little stronger. The acknowledgement of my being pruned all for growth into a deeper understanding of my relationship with Jesus, made for a completely different picture at that moment compared to the one that I had when I first walked into the bathroom to melt into my puddle. So I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, said “thank You God” and marched along to a completely different beat of a drum. I feel enlightened. I know more roller coaster days will come, but I love the vivid picture Jesus gave me to see myself as the branch, resting in the True Vine, and I shall take that picture with me on those roller coaster days.

John 15:1-8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

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Next Chapter Please

Sitting here this evening after receiving news today that my divorce is final. In one moment, the last two years of fighting and pain are over. In one moment, 21 years of marriage is over. Not sure how to feel. I’ll admit, my initial reaction was happy. The chapter is closed. I can move on. And then fast forward just a few minutes when I was sitting in my friend Elizabeth’s office, and as I sat there, the feeling like a ton of bricks hit me hard and the tears came. Sadness. I spent two decades of my life with a person who at one point in time I called my best friend. He made me laugh… but he also made me cry.

This chapter is closed and another one waits to be written. A new path awaits my footsteps. I was singing to Mathilda tonight as she was falling asleep and for the first time in 21 years, I actually felt alone. But it wasn’t a sad alone. It was this independent alone that felt strange. Something foreign. Alone and trekking along on a journey made by my own decisions. I don’t know if I can even articulate it well enough to make it make sense. Alone…. or maybe the word I’m looking for is…. free.

So onward I go. Tomorrow’s another day. A brand new day actually. The world will go on as if nothing has changed; I wouldn’t expect anything else. But me, a little bit of a hole is left in my heart as life as I have known it since I was 22 years old has completely changed. And I will know as I take each step forward that new challenges and amazing things are waiting for me as I take my sweet girl and we journey along.

 

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Match Point

The world lost a good man last night. Les Phipps, you were a gem. You had a very crazy, dry sense of humor that made many of us laugh. I have memories of you from my childhood that I will never forget and I’m glad you were a part of my life.

Tennis. What a sport. You taught me to love the game, and you even gave me my very first racquet when I was 14 years old… yes, I still have it. I have always held it dear, but now it means even more.

I write these words with tears because you are missed already. I look forward to meeting with you again someday on the other side of Heaven. My heart hurts for your dear Mary Lou, but I know she holds the same hope as I do. We will see you again.

You were a good man, Les Phipps. I am grateful to have known you.

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