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So Anyway…

So anyway…
She walked into my life one day.
It was a memorable day of friendly conversation.

So anyway…
I asked her about her faith;
she trusted me with her story.

So anyway…
The feelings go deep;
we have an incredible connection.

So anyway…
I wasn’t looking for anyone,
but I found my life partner.

So anyway…
I love her;
she has my heart.

jsm
01.23.20

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Filled to the Measure

There’s something about the thought of being filled to the measure. What does that look like? As I sit here this morning I think of a clay vessel that is gathering water, and after it is filled to the top, to the very rim, a slow trickle of water keeps gently pouring into it. It’s a hot summer day, and those walking by that vessel never have to want for drink. The vessel is continually being filled. No one sees who is filling it, but they trust that it will always be full.

And as I sit here on this chilly winter morning, in the quiet of my house, I sit here reading about being filled to the measure. My heart is continually filled to the measure of all the fullness of God Himself. I can sit and be and rest and know full well that the God of the universe – Creator of my being, Sustainer of my life and Lover of my soul – finds pure joy in my resting in Him as He reminds me of His goodness and love and fills me to the measure of Himself.

Deep breath of fresh air. He moves me.

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Writing….

What does free writing look like? When you have thoughts in your head, and you just write where you’re at and you don’t bother erasing words, just in case someone might disagree with you or get upset that you’re just not living life the way they think you should. So I’m going to write. On this second day of 2020, I’m going to write and let’s see where it takes me the writer, and you the reader.

I met her in June 2017. She’s a photographer, I’m a preservationist (I save old buildings). We became the typical Facebook friends and commented on each others’ posts for months. We all did that – it was a big group of people who met on a tour that day. Fast forward to a year a half later – November 2018. I ordered a calendar from her my second year in a row, and the dialogue began. Dialogue about faith, about the past, about poor choices and bad partners. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and the evolution of a friendship into a relationship happened right before my very eyes and I was blindsided by this woman who I didn’t see walking right into my life. I couldn’t get her out of my head. I found that she started nestling her way into my heart without her even trying. I trusted her with my stories, my past, my choices – all of my shit that would make someone run far away and never look back. But she trusted me as well; just as much as I had trusted her. The friendship went deep. It brought both of us joy. We weren’t looking for a relationship, but one found us anyway. I am grateful.

I asked her why she would take a risk on someone like me; I am, after all, 14 years her junior and a pretty messed up, wounded woman. She said, “Why would I risk giving up something that could be fabulous?” And as this year has passed, no matter what I’ve gone through with family and friends and church and you name it, what I have with this woman is one of the most remarkable fabulous friendships I have ever encountered in my entire life. Not only is it a friendship… it is a remarkable relationship with my best friend. I am grateful.

People thought I would walk away from God because I walked into a relationship with a woman. I have dug in with God deeper than I ever have before. I have prayed my way through this whole journey, and have found nothing but amazing grace, mercy and love from my Creator who sustains me. I have dug into His Word with everything I can muster. I have asked Him questions and asked for guidance, and you know what I keep coming back to? Peace. Even in the midst of the storm of people disagreeing with me, calling me weird, asking me to not be a part of their church, I have found that He sustains me and gives me peace. I am grateful.

There is more of the journey to trek; life’s a constant journey. Long-time friends, and maybe even more of my family, will continue to distance themselves from me. I just wish they would ask me questions. My sister said to me, “I don’t want to fight anymore. That doesn’t bring peace. I want to try to understand you.” Thank you!!! Thank you.

So, Gail Howarth, I adore you. Thank you for being my friend, my companion, my partner and my love. You are a dear, dear soul and I am grateful for you beyond words.

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An Unexpected Journey

My world has changed in a mere year
and I have found myself loving you
deeper than I have ever loved another human.
I didn’t see you coming.

I have lost friends and loved ones
as I have been on this journey.
But there is no shame, no regrets, no apologies.

I have decided that I want to spend
the rest of my days on earth with you.
People won’t agree with me;
it’s not the life they want me to live.

Although you have told me that you love me
and want to grow old with me,
I would never ask you to move
heaven and earth just to be with me.

People think that I’ve left God;
they couldn’t be further from the truth.
I find myself digging into Him –
real and raw, honest and true;
figuring out that I have spent decades
limiting His grace and mercy.

You’re the woman who I call
companion, partner and friend.
I enjoy walking alongside you
as I learn more about you everyday.
I love loving you.
I didn’t see you coming.

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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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