somebodylovesmeblog

Sharing God's love with the world, one heart at a time.


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One More Day

You are reading this, so I know that God has blessed you with another day. No matter what your circumstance, you have been given the opportunity to:

Have one more day to grow in faith and get to know Jesus in a more intimate way than you knew Him yesterday;

Breathe in the essence of God, allowing His Holy Spirit to envelop your whole being;

Give thanks for the air that you breathe, the feelings that you feel, your senses which allow you to interact with God and the people in your life;

Break free from hanging on to the bitterness and pain that is holding you in bondage…FORGIVEboth yourself and others;

Pray for all the people that the Lord places on your heart, especially including those that make you feel uncomfortable, or those that have hurt you or are living in darkness;

Share Jesus continuously by showing love to those around you…pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart, and you will be guided to the people and the ways you can share His Saving Love and Grace with them;

Enjoy and thank God for the goodness and wonder of the blessings in your life…stop and take time to remember and acknowledge as many as you can. Create a never ending mental list of gratitude;

Offer your daily crosses to the Lord – the boredom and struggles of daily life, your pain, frustration, and sufferings…unite them with the suffering of Jesus in atonement for your sins and the whole world.

Enjoy and savor One More Day…for you are One More Day closer to a wondrous and unfathomable eternal life with Your Father.


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Creative Communication

Today is a gorgeous sunny day, with a gentle breeze blowing.  The kind of day that called me to escape from the confines of the office for a mid day walk.

As I was walking and praying, the Lord filled my senses with the awesome creativity of nature.  He let me know that there is a purpose for each of His creations, big and small,  and that He communicates with us through nature.  He asked me to focus on what I am absorbing  through my senses.

Wow, that got me thinking!

The very first thing I saw was a butterfly.  A perfect reminder of the beauty that is waiting to develop within us.  This beauty blossoms when we trust in the Lord and rest in the cocoon of faith, allowing growth, change and holiness to develop.

I watched as a male bird protected the mother and their nest;  the thought that came to mind was that the mother was protecting the eggs, while the father was protecting both the mother and the eggs.  I then spotted a family of  ducks…which then led me to ponder the blessing of God sending His only Son to us, in human form, through a traditional family unit.  What a wonder and blessing we have in family.

Then there are the trees.  I absolutely LOVE trees.  Each one talks to me in a different way.  Some trees sway gently, with leaves that shimmer, while others are listening in perfect stillness.   Some are firmly planted, with the wisdom and knowledge that come from age and maturity.  Some are stately, protecting the young and the weak under their umbrella of leaves.  Some are reaching out, growing in substance, while others are instinctively reaching up toward the light.   The thought that stands out in my mind is that each one is exactly what it is meant to be.  And each glorifies God.

As the wind picked up a little, I realized that there is always a wind of change in the air.  Life is always changing.  Sometimes the change feels gentle and pleasant, and sometimes it feels overwhelming.  Either way, we must learn to adapt to it…fighting against it only prolongs growth.  This is especially enlightening for me.

The sound of birds singing reminded me that we all have a different song to sing, resulting in a perfect harmony to present to our Father.  We are not meant to sound the same…we are simply to be what God created us to be.

I noticed the variety of wildflowers; some more glamorous than others.  As my eyes took in the whole picture in front of me, I realized that there is beauty in each one, however there is awesome  splendor when viewed as a whole.  Kind of how each one of us is a unique and beautiful creation,  and when we are joined as the body of Christ our beauty is magnified.

Most of all, today I felt the warmth and energy of the sun penetrating my whole being…which reminded me once more of the all consuming light and love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Lord, thank you for creating such splendor for us to enjoy each day. 

We ask that you open our senses so that we may  know you more intimately, and we ask that you overflow our hearts with your perfect love. 

For it is only through your love and mercy that we are able to love the hearts that need you the most.

Thank you Lord for loving us. 

 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made, so that men are without excuse  Romans 1:20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tribute of Love

31824_1483460607859_5366974_nEleven years ago today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, my father passed away.  It was very touching that his life ended on that special day, because he was a very conflicted man who was much in need of mercy…as we all are.  Through conversations with him later in life, and also through the enlightenment of my own personal journey of faith and forgiveness, I know that he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and I also know that he felt humbled by the love and mercy of  Jesus.  He felt small and knew that he let his God and his family down in many ways…as we all do.

This is a tribute of love to the man that God blessed me with…to be my earthly father.

I love you, Daddy, and miss you so very much.

My father was born to a large family.  He had six brothers and three sisters.   One of those sisters, at a very young age,  burned to death when he was a child.  The family lived in squalor, and none of his, nor his siblings’ needs were met in any way.  They existed in a world devoid of nurturing.  I am talking about physical needs that were not provided…including food, security and  basic shelter.  I am also talking about these children living in a situation where they received no protection at all from the evils perpetrated on them,  no sense of safety and shelter that would help for them to know their self worth, and no emotional needs met at all.

At this time, I am setting aside the issues that I grew up with, and would like to focus on the good that my father did for me and for our family.  When I really think about it, he gave us most of what he never had.  His intention was just that…his desire was to provide his family with everything he and his siblings lacked.

Dad, I now realize the fullness of what you gifted to us…to me and my sisters.

Although you never had the security of a place to call home, you blessed us with a stable home.  It was a small house, however, I never even noticed it was small.  As a child, I took my home for granted, and it gave me a sense of comfort.  That was your intention.

Although, as a child,  you never knew where your next meal was coming from, you blessed us with three meals on the table every day.  I am not sure how you and mom did it financially, but we ate well, and were exposed to many different foods that my friends never even heard of, let alone tried.  I have always had an appreciation and thankfulness for many different foods.  That was your intention.

Although you never had much of a formal  education or exposure to cultural arts, and that always bothered you, you filled our home with the music that you never experienced as a child.  I am talking operas, movie and play soundtracks, and also Shakespeare.  I still have memories of all of us, sitting in the dark, listening to ‘Macbeth.’  I also know almost every song from any play that I have ever seen at a theater, and also all the songs from old Disney movies.  We played all of them over and over.  I love and appreciate music…all kinds.  That was your intention.

Although you never had the luxury of books in your childhood,  you filled our home with bookshelves, that were overflowing with books.  Again, I am not sure how you and mom found the money, but you provided us with a set of encyclopedias, beautifully bound sets of classic children’s tales, The Great Books, and countless others.  I absolutely love to read.  That was your intention.

Although you had to quit school at an early age, you and mom made sacrifices to ensure we all attended Catholic Schools from elementary through high school.  You chose to make our education a priority, and somehow the tuition became available.  I have a love for learning that will continue for my lifetime.  That was your intention.

Although you and mom lived a difficult life, you struggled through it, and remained together until the end of your life.  Neither one of you was perfect, as none of us are, however, you fit together and loved each other unconditionally.  Joe and I have been married for thirty six years, living through the struggles, which brought us closer together.  I am blessed with a wonderful husband, and an amazing relationship with him and my sons, and my sons’ wives.  That was your intention.

Although you never had the comforts and pleasures associated with family and extended family, you blessed us with a childhood filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I appreciate and treasure all of my family…my sons, their wives, and all of the relatives that I am close with and the ones I am reconnecting with.  I realize the importance and blessedness of family.  That was your intention.

Although you never had vacations as a child, and never had the opportunity to experience wonder with your parents, you blessed us with camping trips to many parts of the country…always filling our days with historic visits and also the enjoyment of nature.  I have a love for museums, and also for God’s beautiful creations.  I remember the first time standing over the Horse Shoe Falls at Niagara Falls and feeling like I was in heaven.  Also the sights and sounds of the campgrounds we camped at.  I love to share those simple kinds of pleasures with my family and the people I love.  That was your intention.

Although you had an inner turmoil inside, you found solace by just sitting and ‘being’ with God.  You loved nature and spent hours on end just basking in the simple pleasures of the outdoors.  I also find comfort and oneness with God when I am at one with nature…surrounded by His beauty.  That was your intention.

Although you didn’t have many things to be thankful for as a child, or any worldly reason to even believe in a loving God, you chose to bring us up in the Catholic Faith that was passed on to you from your birth.  I am sure, like me, for most of those years you did not understand the gift you were given.  However, the Lord covered you in His mercy, and with the light that He instilled in you and mom, we were lead to the Church…to the Masses every week, and also to the Sacraments that drew us closer to the Lord.  Even when we did not fully understand things.  I finally am learning and being brought into the fullness of that faith, with love and grace that I never even imagined.  That was your intention.

On this day, Daddy, I would like to say that I love you and appreciate all that you blessed me with.  And I pray that you are encompassed with the all consuming love and light of the Blessed Trinity…the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May you truly rest in the peace and love of the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 


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A Closet Full of Memories

It was time.  The closet in our spare room was jam-packed.  It got to the point where I could  hardly  access anything, due to the sheer amount of stuff in there.  Ok, a lot of it belongs to my mother, who lives with us.  But I must admit, as I started to empty the closet and sort things out, I found lots that I even forgot I had!

While I was cleaning and organizing, I couldn’t help but go through everything.  I really didn’t have anything else pressing to do, so I decided to slow down and enjoy the process.

A few hours later, my heart was warm and full, and I had a lump in my throat.

What I found were memories.  Lots of them. 

There was a big bag filled with old slides from my growing up years.  Those slides were digitized and posted a while ago…why is it so different to actually hold them in my hands?  Probably because my dad was in charge of the slides and pictures, and he has been gone now for eleven years.  I do miss him!  How much fun it used to be for our family to watch the slides and the home movies together.  Those were special times.

The next thing I looked through was my husband’s old photo album.  Why did I never before appreciate the pure genius of my mother in law, who insisted he put Vaseline on his lips, and wear a red shirt every year for his school pictures?  And then arrange the photos next to each other so the progression can be seen?  And oh my gosh, there is a picture of him when he was about 4 years old, and I clearly see the image of my youngest son.  If the picture wasn’t in black and white, set in the sixties, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two of them.  And why does seeing pictures of my husband as a child make me smile and tug at my heart?

I found a framed copy of my oldest son’s green hand prints on white paper, dated from when he was 2 and a half years old.  The glass is broken and I really want to reframe it and send it to him as a surprise.  For some reason, I am not ready to part with it.  He would not yet appreciate the  innocence and tenderness of the child he was way back then.  He always kept me on my toes, forever chasing after him to keep him out of danger.  However, even as a young child, he had the hugest heart and was very intuitive to people’s needs.  He is still like that.

My youngest son is a graphic designer.  Not only did I find his high school and college art portfolios, but I also found pictures he drew when he was really young, and some from middle school.  Those pictures  brought back memories of when he was in grade school and sold his black and white pencil drawings to his friends.  We found out later that not only did he he accept money for his artwork, he even charged extra for color.  He used to say “I AM an artist.”  He was right!

In the corner of the closet, I found a beautiful china tea set, given to me as a gift, that is  inscribed with bible verses.  I am holding onto it, because I look forward to sharing tea with a future granddaughter (or granddaughters).

The last things I sorted through were all the wrapping papers, ribbons, and bows.  I am known for saving bows, and we keep reusing them over and over.  I have a lot of them!  Some have pieces of birthday or Christmas wrap attached.  I realized that I was looking at years of memories, with my sons, and their wives.  All of us together, tearing through birthday or Christmas gifts.  Laughing, hugging, and enjoying each other’s company.

I was overcome with the  knowledge and feeling, that without even realizing it, we were creating memories through all those years.  Memories that we are blessed with, and that can never be taken away.

Lord, thank you for the blessings of our family and friends, for all the memories we have in our hearts, and also the ones we have to look forward to.  Help us to cherish the times we have together, and to always know that you are the source of those blessings.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17


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Looking Outside of Ourselves

Recently, I was reading a convert’s testimony, and one of her thoughts flew out at me.

The idea is, that being human, we tend to compare ourselves and our lives to those that have more than us.  This tendency, coupled with the intense marketing of Hollywood and our culture, many times leads us to covet what we don’t have.  It’s such an “exciting” world out there, and we are missing out!  We start to focus and want (the catch phrase for this desire is “dream”) all the things that we feel we are missing out on.  Material possessions, status, beauty, glamor, lifestyle, education level, etc., start to dominate our thoughts.  We may even begin to wonder why God hasn’t blessed us with these things.  Why would He provide certain things for  others, and not for us?

When we allow our thoughts and heart to dwell on what we don’t have, we are stuck in the “me” position.  As much as we don’t want to face the truth, that is a very selfish place to be.

Instead of looking at all that WE don’t have, the better focus would be to open our eyes to the people around us that have much less than we do.  Not to feel “better” about ourselves in comparison, but to learn to be content and grateful for the gifts God has blessed us with, and look for ways to help our brothers and sisters.

In essence, we need to change our focus from looking toward ourselves, to looking outside of ourselves and seeing a world in need.

Lord, thank you for all the grace and blessings you have bestowed on me through your loving Spirit.

I ask that you open my eyes to the ways I can share your love and the blessings in my life, with all those who are in need.

Please enlighten me to become more aware of those who are hurting and lonely, and open my heart so I know how to be of help to them.

Reveal to me those who are hungry in order that I can share with them…not only food, but also love and friendship.

Open my heart and  fill it with compassion, for those who are traveling a dark path without You.  Help me to be there in love for them, instead of judging them.

Help me to always be grateful for the mercy  you have bestowed on me, and empower me to always search for a way to love those you place in my life each day. 

For it is through that love, that they will see your face when they look at me.

The Happy Prince   This is a beautiful story of selfless giving.  It has been my favorite since I was a child.  There are parts I literally can’t read out loud because they touch my heart so deeply.  Enjoy.


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New Traditions

Although traditions that have been in our family for years will always have a special place in my heart, I need to share a new tradition that my husband’s side of the family started this year.

Actually, our niece, Heather, suggested this idea.  It sounded interesting, however I didn’t realize how awesome it really was.

Each person, or family, received a name.  We were not to send a gift “for” that person, we were to send a box of items that depicted “who we are”.  You see, our family is a large one, and we are strewn all over the country.  We are losing touch with each other a little, and don’t know about each other’s daily lives or special interests or talents.

The first blessing of this tradition is actually choosing the items that will represent yourself, or your family. Our family box represented my husband, me, and my mother who lives with us.  After much thought, we made our selections.

My husband works hard marketing and screen printing  graphic tees for our business, so we included two tee designs.  He also loves to brew beer, so a bottle of his latest brew was lovingly wrapped  and added to the box.  Since I read so many inspirational and spiritual books, I chose to include “The Promise” by Jonathan Morris, a book that opened my eyes in so many ways.  My other contribution was homemade cookies that I love to bake each Christmas.  (as a side note, I am still baking more and will be baking until New Year’s Day probably!!!)  My mom parted with one of her beloved “Beanie Babies”…a bright red Cardinal.  She LOVES Beanie Babies, and does not part with them easily.  However, she made an exception for the “Family box.”  Not only is the Beanie Baby one of her treasures, but the Cardinal is Ohio’s State bird, which is our hometown…both my side and my husband’s side of the family.  She also included a Word Search book, because she spends hours a day finding words!  The last thing we threw in was a White House Ornament to represent the Northern Virginia/DC area where we make our home.  We sent our box, with love, to my sister in law and our niece.

It is more difficult than you may think, to decide on a few things that depict your life, or your family.

The second blessing comes with receiving the box that your “giver” family assembled for you.  Our box was from our niece, her husband and daughter.  As we were opening each package, we actually felt the spirit of their family.  It was a beautiful and fun experience.  There was a handmade bracelet and hand drawn notecards, created by my great niece, a bottle of  a favorite local beer, Ohio beer glasses crafted in their town, handmade birdseed ornaments which they handed out to neighbors as gifts this year, local Tony Packos relish and a Carruth Angel that was created by an amazing local artist.  They have many Carruth pieces displayed in their backyard, and now we have one more to lovingly display in ours.  My niece also added some PB2 (powdered peanut butter) which she loves in smoothies and ice cream.  I had never heard of “PB2” before, but it sounds interesting and we are looking forward to enjoying it!  She also creates beautiful handmade cards, and tucked one of the most beautiful cards I have ever seen in the box.  The card  listed all the items and what they meant to each of them.

The third blessing from this tradition, lies in all of us sharing about what was in the box we received. We have a group message going on, and it is exciting to see pictures and descriptions of each family’s box.  What a fun way to get to know each other in a deeper way!

Right now, my heart is completely full of the warmth, love, and appreciation of family.

Thank you Lord for the amazing gifts of love and family.  Help me to always look for ways to share those gifts with all the people you place in my daily life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17

 

 


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The Joys of Christmastime

It really makes me sad when I hear someone say that they are super stressed due to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Many are frustrated and have closed their hearts to Christmas because of the commercialization and materialism that seems to have taken over the beauty and holiness of the season.

As Christians, and children of God, we are called to share the light of Christ with the world, one heart at a time.  For me, the Advent and Christmas Season is a wonderful time to do just that.

Amidst the tacky and commercial decorations, relentless Christmas music, and the barrage of holiday marketing hitting us from all angles, sometimes it is very difficult to stay focused on the Truth.  Sometimes we tend to drift over to the realm where parties, food, drink, and the “perfect” gifts dictate the atmosphere and the spirit in our hearts.

Don’t let that happen to you this year.  The beauty of Advent and Christmastime is already waiting in your heart. All you need to do is open your heart and will to God’s Holy Spirit, and your Christmas Season will be perfect in God’s love.

I can’t help myself…I love Christmas and all that comes with it.  I choose to look past the commercialization and materialism, and focus on the things that bring joy and love.

Here are some of the ways that either bring love and joy to my own heart or ways I find to share that joy and love with others.  We are all unique, and have different ways to experience and share the joys of Christmas.  God made us to be different; we are blessings to each other when we appreciate the ways of love from each person in our lives.  Maybe my thoughts and Christmas traditions will help to open your heart to some of the things you’ve felt were missing.  It’s easy to close ourselves off when we feel overwhelmed.

It’s open season for Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day through mid-January.  We have many Christmas CDs and we enjoy them often.  My mom lives with my husband and me, and she really loves the music.  My husband enjoys a little of it, so I have to be careful of the amount of time those Christmas tunes are playing.  The reason I love to listen and sing Christmas music is that it fills me with joy, and it also brings me back to being a little girl.  Remember the wonder of Christmas when you were a little child?  I still love to feel that way.

Our Christmas tree and inside decorations are very special to us.  Not because they are perfect or trendy…but because there is a lifetime of Christmas memories attached to most of the ornaments and decorations.  There are family ornaments from over fifty years ago, and then from the years of building our family with our sons.  There is our Nativity Scene under the tree that was a gift from my parents when I was still single.

Are the “things” themselves the most important thing?  No, the memories attached to them are blessings from God.  All of God’s gifts are good, and we are very thankful for all the memories; even the “bad” ones.  Like the Christmases when we lacked the money to buy ANY gifts for ourselves or anyone else.  But you know what?  I can truly say those were the most beautiful Christmases, because we were surrounded by the love of God, family and friends.

Our family loves Christmas movies.  There are probably 15-20 movies we watch every year.  These stories bring warmth and joy to our hearts, and we love the tradition of watching them together.  This year, I decided to string popcorn garland, so that was what I was doing while I watched some of those movies.

A Christmas puzzle is a must.  Sometimes two or three, depending on the time I decide to spend putting them together.

Our outside decorations consist of multi-colored lights, a gorgeous wreath on the front door that was a gift from my mother, and a spotlighted Nativity Scene.  We love to drive around to enjoy the beautiful decorations in our neighborhood and surrounding areas.  It’s interesting to me to see the different ways that people decorate and express themselves, and I look for the joy in all.

Although it is time consuming, and I try to remain stress-free during the Holidays, I LOVE to bake cookies.  Lots of cookies.  We eat more Christmas cookies than we should, but the main reason I bake  is to give them away.  I enjoy filling tins with a variety of cookies and handing them out to anyone I feel might enjoy receiving them.

Christmas cards are very special to me.  I love making them out for all the people in my life, and sometimes for those that may not even know me,  but may need a special pick me up.  Sometimes I write thank you notes to those who have had an impact on my life, and slip them in.  With each card I write out, I think of that person and how they have blessed my life.  I also say little prayers for them as I go along.

It’s always fun searching for unique little gifts for people; and we usually participate in a few “angel trees” and community events.  Sometimes we focus on a single family, or there may be someone we know of that is in need.  We have sent gifts of money anonymously, or filled a particular need.  These are all ways to share Christ’s love.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass is when I truly feel the Spirit of Christmas.  When we walk into the Church, the Spirit overcomes me.  This is it.  The preparation, the music and joy, all of the time spent with family and friends, is one with the pure love and peace of Jesus.  Thank you, Lord!

May you find your own special ways of sharing Christ’s perfect love and peace during this  blessed Advent and Christmas Season.  Enjoy all of it, with the heart and eyes of the child that lives in your heart.

 


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Thanksgiving Memories

This is the first year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day without our sons.  They are living across the country with their wives, in Colorado and California.  It’s a weird feeling, because we miss them and wish we could spend this special holiday with them, but at the same time we are really looking forward to having a cozy and wonderful day.  It will be the three of us…my husband Joe, my mother and me.

Sometimes I wonder if my sons savor the memories of Thanksgiving Day in the same way I do.  Just thinking of Thanksgiving brings up all kinds of memories and feelings.

I remember waking up to the sounds of my parents preparing the turkey for roasting.  That would always include a lot of arguing for some reason, but in our house, that was normal.  I loved to watch them stuff the bird, and then pop it in the oven.

Back when I was a little girl, it seemed as though the turkey cooked all day.  I’ve always loved turkey and stuffing, and the smell throughout the house was intoxicating.  I’ve come to realize how my feelings and memories are intensely attached to the aromas and tastes of traditional holiday foods.

To me, traditions convey warmth and family.

The next thing my three sisters and I would do is turn on the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  How we loved to check out all the awesome floats and characters! We would gather together and enjoy the music and wonder of the parade.  Such simple pleasures!

As the morning headed toward noontime, my mom would pass around some appetizers to keep our bellies from rumbling.  This would always include celery stuffed with cream cheese and pineapple, and cream cheese with olives.  (I loved both) There would also be cheese and crackers, and sometimes shrimp cocktail.  And there was always a bowl of whole nuts to keep us busy.  I don’t know what I loved more – eating the nuts or cracking them open with the cool nutcracker!

Thanksgiving would usually include my Grandfather, my Aunt Lillian, and my Great Uncle John.  It was a special day, so we would pull out the tablecloth, and set the table with cloth napkins and silver.  We would light candles.  We didn’t have fancy or expensive china, but I can tell you, I loved those dinners.  It felt so special to me.

After all these years, I finally understand the true gift my mom and dad were giving us through our holiday traditions.  They were planting memories of home and family…little bits and pieces of love that will always be in my heart.

You see, it didn’t matter that the glasses and dishes might not have matched.  It didn’t matter that we lived in a little house, and our “dining room table” was actually in our living room.  To tell you the truth, I never even thought about any of that.

Our family was very far from perfect.  In fact, there were things that happened in our house that should never have been – things that were hurtful and confusing.

But looking back, I see that my parents were always trying to find ways to instill family and stability into our lives.  They gifted us with many wonderful memories, and I never want to forget any of them.

Through our own family traditions, my husband and I have attempted to gift our sons with memories that they will carry with them forever, to share with their families.

It was way more than the turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole,  cranberry sauce and pumpkin and apple pies.

 It was the blessing and miracle of family.

And I hope that when my sons smell their holiday meal cooking, and they are enjoying time with their own families, they will always feel us in their hearts, as they are always in ours.

 May we always remember to treasure our family and friends that God has blessed us with.  Have a joyous Thanksgiving!


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Letting Go

It is a beautiful fall day – a little crisp with the sun shining brightly.  My favorite kind of day.  Except that it is rather windy, and you can ask my husband…I do not like wind at all.

I am sitting at my desk at work, looking at the little tree that is right outside the window.  It is my little piece of heaven at work…I love trees and I have the privilege of being able to view them during the day.  So happy I am not stuck in a “cubicle” situation.  It would be extremely difficult for me to be imprisoned in an office all day with no windows!

My little tree is currently covered with gorgeous hues of yellow, gold, and burnt orange. As the wind blows, the leaves shimmer and dance in the breeze, trying so hard to hold on to their branches.  Of course, in time, the leaves will finally submit to the power of the wind, and they will eventually drop to the ground.  As we know, the tree will appear dreary and dead all through the winter, and then burst forth with new life in the spring!

Watching those leaves hanging on for dear life, reminds me of myself.  Most of the time when I go on my daily lunchtime walks, it looks like a completely still day. No wind.  It never fails, once I start walking and praying, the wind picks up and blasts me.  It almost makes me laugh out loud, because in my soul, I know it is God speaking to me.  He is trying to get my attention, to let me know that I should stop trying to hide from the winds of change and growth.  Just like the leaves, I am trying to hang on to what I know, and trying to keep things at an even keel.

I need to stop hiding from Him.

What I am learning is that I need to just let go…and let the wind carry me…stop fighting it.  Stop fighting what God has planned for my life.  I need to submit to the Lord and just let go….why is that so difficult?

Lord, thank you for blessing me in so many ways!  You are the source of all that is good, and you are my comfort through the pain and heartaches of this world.

Please send your Holy Spirit to open my soul to your will, and fill me with the grace to let go of my fears and submit my life and my will to You. 

Help me to let go of all that is holding me captive. 

For I have faith, that just like the leaves letting go and falling to the ground are an indication of the beauty  to come in the spring…so is your loving plan for my life. 

The beauty comes in letting go.

 


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One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, my mother in law, Velma, left this earth and returned to her heavenly home.  As I sit down to write about the blessing that she was (and always will be) in my life, my heart is completely filled with love and many emotions are welling up inside me.

After knowing her for 39 years, and being her daughter in law for 35 of those years, it is easy to see the transition of our relationship, although for some years it was difficult.  Words can never express what I feel for her, and the empty place in my heart knowing that I will never again see her face, hear her voice or laughter.  I will never again feel her hand holding mine or her arms around me.

However, I will always feel her love.

Pulling a line from one of my favorite romantic comedies, “Sweet Home Alabama”, Velma was “a complicated woman.”  She struggled through a horrendous childhood, one that she spoke of often to me; however, she never fully acknowledged or released the evils and pain she endured.  Instead, she focused her entire being on raising her six children…5 sons and a daughter.  She loved them intensely, and wanted to give them a secure home, in the only way she knew.  That was through homemaking.  She kept house like no one I ever knew, and her cooking and baking were her shining glory.  That was how she showed love…by nurturing.  Velma had her flaws, as we all do.  Deep in her heart, she knew she had these flaws.  She compensated by DOING for people…in so many ways.

When I first met Velma, I was dating her son, Joe, and I was just 17.  She nurtured me…helping me to feel accepted and loved, by inquiring about me and my family, and always feeding me something special.  I remember, she would sit me down, and ask if I wanted a steak.  Then she would reach in the freezer, pull out a steak, and fry it for me. I never had my own steak before…my family always ate “family style”, so that impressed me.  She made the most awesome sausage and pepper pizza I have ever tasted…her pizza dough recipe was the best, and the tomatoes and peppers were home canned.  Simply delicious.  And her cookies, Swedish tea log,  bread pudding and pizzelles.  Yum!

Remember… Velma had six children.  That lead to crazy unforgettable Holidays, filled with her children, grandchildren, food, love, laughter and lots of noise!  The whirlwinds of activity were overwhelming, but how I miss those times!  Those were the years that changed the “in-law” relationships to “family” relationships.

Velma’s greatest gift to me is her wonderful son, Joe.  (my awesome husband) All of my brothers- in-law, sisters-in-law, and their families are also a blessing to me.  We are a family of heart…separated by circumstance and miles.  But we are always there for each other, in mind and spirit.

When I was a very young newlywed, Velma was very intimidating to me.  Since her cooking, baking and cleaning were the best (her favorite line…”that’s the way I do it”), and my self-image was zero, that was an uncomfortable time for me.  In my own mind, I could never live up to Joe’s mother, and I felt inadequate as a wife.  This feeling continued through the birth of my two sons.

I always felt I had to be “perfect” in every way…clean house, perfect wife and mother, perfect food, etc.  And I knew I wasn’t perfect, so I had a real dilemma in my own mind.

Two things happened that changed and molded our relationship.

The first thing was something that probably shouldn’t have happened.  Joe and I were experiencing extreme pain and difficulty in our marriage.  I went to my mother-in-law in despair, and shared what was happening. (through the  years I learned not to share those kinds of things concerning our marriage)  I later learned that while I was at work, my mother-in-law showed up at our front door, and confronted Joe.  She let him know that he had a good, loving wife, and in no uncertain terms, gave him a piece of her mind.  When we talk about it now, Joe gets a chuckle out of the memory.  I feel the love; in finally being aware that she loved me, and thought I was a good wife to her son.

The next thing that changed our relationship was mortifying to me at the time.  I had been a stay-at-home mom, and then had to work part time.  With two young sons, I just could not get it all together.  My house was a mess, and I left it that way when I left for work one morning.  A few hours later, my mother-in-law, who had our house key, had decided to drop over to bring us a few things. Oh, did I tell you how many times she stopped over with bags of food and “supplies”?  So she called me at work, from my dirty house!!!  I had never felt so exposed and embarrassed.  She let me know that the house was now clean, and there were some groceries she brought and put away for us.

At that moment I realized, I never had to pretend to be perfect for her again.  She loved me no matter what.

And I learned to love Velma no matter what.  Because through the tense times, hurtful words spoken, and all that occurred due to human frailty and weakness, I was able to feel her love.  She loved her whole family immensely. And because of that, she left a legacy in her children and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On the morning of her death, she was found, peacefully unresponsive, with hands still holding her rosary.  Although my  family did not arrive in time to hold her hand to say our last good byes, she was surrounded by other loving family members.

She will hold our hearts forever.

We love you, mom.

We know you are in heaven with Jesus and the angels He allowed you to see while on earth.  We know that you are enveloped in His pure love, peace and joy that can never be felt on earth.

We will carry you in our hearts until we meet again.