Paying Attention to Other People’s “Stuff”

Another week has come and gone.

Last night I realized that when a person is in the middle of his/her own “stuff” it is hard to pay attention to and/or he/she has less patience for other people’s “stuff”. Unfortunately, sometimes our lives are filled with a lot of not-so-great “stuff”!

While last week was a combination of positive and negatives, I managed to find the positives pretty easily. I finished two projects and delivered them ahead of time. Woo hoo! Mailed out two belated birthday gifts. I got to see my daughter and baby boy several times and spoke to my son and texted with him more often than usual. The rain has continued (we really needed it) and the pups are over their kennel cough issues. I went to a couple of wineries to pick up shipments and had a glass of our favorite red while remembering Steve. A hummingbird keeps buzzing my head this morning! (Stinker!! I wonder what it wants?).

But, negatives and sadness has also been a constant presence and I just didn’t have the patience I should have had to deal with it all. But you don’t need to hear all of THAT!

Sadly, I guess what I am trying to say is that for the past several months, although things have improved somewhat, I have been so focused on my own “stuff” that I haven’t really paid close attention to the “stuff” that is going on in other peoples’ lives. I just kind of dug in, circled the wagons, closed myself off and with a very narrow lens, focused on my “stuff” never realizing how selfish I was being. In fact, over the past couple of weeks, I…

  • Worried a friend that she might have said something to hurt my feelings because she had not heard from me and I was really hard to get hold of by phone.
  • Hurt another friend’s feelings. I made her feel like I didn’t want to spend time with her. She thought that I wanted to take a “break” from our friendship. Then I made it worse by fussing at her and telling her that she needs to stop overthinking things and that sometimes things aren’t about her.  (Yes, rude!!)
  • Failed to realize just how hard a time my child is having with her second baby, the loss of her daddy, dealing with the terrible twos all and getting ready to return to work, allllll on little to no sleep.
  • Didn’t know that, because one of our family members continues to battle the demon of alcohol addiction, he lost his job and his sweet wife has been destroyed…again.
  • Found out that another family member has been called back to the doctor for more tests to be run. She’s scared to death as she is a single mama of two littles.
  • Worry that my son is not being forthcoming when we talk about how he is doing…is he really okay or does he just not want to tell me what is going on in his head because he doesn’t want to add to ‘my’ plate.
  • A Ft. Worth police officer died Friday evening after being shot in the head by a criminal.  I didn’t know that because I don’t watch the news anymore!!

So, last night was a wake up call of sorts. I acknowledge that I must take care of myself, grieve and get on with the business of living but I must also remember that the world does NOT revolve around me! I need to focus on others and try to make their lives a little easier. While I may not be able to change their circumstances, I CAN empathize, pray, show a little more patience, offer a shoulder and an ear and, when able to, take some kind of action to lighten their load.

The road to find joy isn’t to be a passive journey traveled alone. It is active, always changing and should include the people whom you care about and who care about you. It’s okay to cocoon, but it is just as important to include others in your safe place where you can work on being healed and where you can help others to heal and find their joy.

So, some suggestions for myself:

  1. I will plan my week out to ensure that I have time to do the things that must be done, as well as, things I like/want to do.
  2. I will call my people (or text if they like that better) to check on at least one person in my tribe every couple of days. Most importantly, I will really listen for their needs.
  3. I will be flexible. If one of my people needs me I will be ready to go!! All the other stuff at home will still be there for me when I get back home.
  4. I will be an encourager. I will sweep the judgmental, frustrated, annoyed feelings out of my head.
  5. I will learn something everyday even if it in how to better help/treat people.
  6. I will be kind to myself by changing my internal dialogue.
  7. I will document/write down at least three things for which I am grateful each day.

Even in our own sadness and grief we still need to do our part to help others. I pledge to do better in this upcoming week and beyond.

“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all peoiple. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1

Thessalonians 5:14-16

 

I’m Happy Happy…yes, I Am!

Okay, well, maybe not Haaappppy Happy, ecstatic happy, but I am happy today, nonetheless.

It has been raining all day and that nearly always puts a smile on my face (as long as I see a little sunshine within a week, I’m good!) but, I digress, that isn’t why I’m Happy, HAPPY today.

I have had sooooo many problems with my sewing machines lately that I honestly told my mom that I was seriously considering throwing them out and never, EVER sewing again.  For example, I wanted to embroider some cute kitchen towels for my friend, Deb, to give as a house-warming gift.  What should have taken about an hour and a half to make took, literally…are you ready for this…10 hours to make!!  TEN HOURS!  Yes, I did finish them.  Yes, I did tell her how long it took to make them.  I wanted her to really appreciate them.  Lol

Just one more example for you, I’ve been trying to quilt a baby blanket for two weeks.  It has given me fits.  The thread breaks and breaks and breaks so that I cannot get a good, steady stitch going.  Ugh!  I had to put the quilt away for awhile to keep from ripping it up and throwing it away!

Last night, I needed to get a wall hanging pieced and quilted.  It just HAD to get FINISHED as I promised the person who ordered it that I would have it ready for her prior to September 17th!  So, I sat down at my machine and prayed over that silly thing.

“Please work!”

Applause please!

I pieced the the project with no difficulty at all.  I made the quilt sandwich, looked over at the machine and, as I changed out the presser feet, I prayed over it again.

“Please, Lord. Let it work!”

Hallelujah!  Praise Jesus!!  I had no problems at all and quilted that baby so easily.

So…I’m happy.  I made progress on three projects and I think they will all turn out well.  Photos of the baby blanket and the wall hanging are forthcoming as I still need to bind them. But below are the two towels that took 10 HOURS!

Lol!

Find a little something to make YOU happy today!

Everything has a Season

There is a reason and a season for everything under the sun.

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Ecclesiastes 3 tells us:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 

A time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

In every person’s life we have moments where the negatives “death, breaking down, mourning, losing, rending, etc.” seem to overtake the positives.  It takes a strong heart and a stronger faith to understand that the positives “birth, planting, healing, laughter, embracing, creating, etc.” are just around the bend.

Keep your eyes focused upward and outward and soon the darkness will be replaced by the light…

“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.  Phillippians 4:7.

Today I have joy that God got me home safely last night (after driving through a super hard thunderstorm through which I could barely see to drive, a “low tire pressure” that came on while I was driving in that mess and before a fantastically frightening rain and lightening storm arrived at my home).

I get joy from my two pups, my family and that it feels like Autumn is right around the corner.  The life-giving rain continues to be in the forecast for the next couple of days.

Look for your joy today!  Happy Saturday!!

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Saturdays

Steve used to LOVE his Saturdays. It was start of the weekend for both of us which meant that an adventure of some sort was on the horizon. We might go to a new winery, try out a microbrewery or distillery (yup…we liked our spirits), look for a new restaurant, go to a movie, take a short hike at Lost Maples or just saunter down the sidewalks of Fredericksburg.

Saturday was our day for fun.  They were carefree and filled with companionship and excitement.

Suddenly Saturdays were just dreadfully sad.

You see, he died on a Saturday at 6:16 a.m.

Most people, I have been told, mark an event in terms of months. Leave it to me to take it to an all new level of obsession. Since April 7th, Saturdays became the day for keeping track. A day for marking that one depressingly specific event.

Every Saturday was one more week that he was not here.

Each Saturday morning, I rolled over to look at the time on my iPhone and thought, “Good morning, Honey. You’ve been gone two weeks, two hours and thirteen minutes.” “Good morning, Sweetie. You’ve been gone ten weeks, one hour and four minutes.”

Yes, I even kept track of the hours and minutes. Like I said…I took it to an all new level of nuttiness.

Today I realized that, for the first time since April 7th, I did not automatically know how many weeks it has been since our lives were irrevocably altered.

Today, I caught myself referring to his death in terms of months…not Saturdays. Not hours or minutes.

Today is September 7th and we have survived five months without the gentle giant of a man we called husband, best friend, Dad and Pop-Pop. It has not been easy, in fact, many of our days have been heart-wrenchingly difficult but we are adapting.  We have had  good days. We are learning to live without his comforting presence because we have faith that one day we WILL see him again. Saturdays are, once again, just the beginning of another weekend.

I call that progress.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart all ye that hope in the Lord. Psalms 31:24

The Mask

“I’m so proud of you.”

  (Thank you.)

“You are an inspiration.”

    (I can only hope.)

“You are so strong.”

(I try to be.)

“I couldn’t do what you do.”

  (You, too, will do what you have to if you ever find yourself in my position.)

“I admire you so much.”

  (I appreciate that.)

“He would be pleased you are doing so well.”

(Most likely but he would not be surprised.)

I am a master at appearances.

He knew that.

On the outside…

I appear strong and proud and independent.

I look like I can do all things alone.

I am inspirational and encouraging and have faith that knows no bounds.

I get things done and deal with the daily irritants of life with mostly quiet assurance and strength.

I handle well the grief that everyone expects to overrun me.

But, I am dishonest.  In truth, I am…

Despondent to live without my best friend. 

Heartbroken.  I miss his face, his smile, his huge presence, his hands….

Lonely for the man who knew the real me and loved me anyway.

Mad that God took away my heart, my blessing, my one earthly anchor.

Forlorn for the past.  I miss the days when we spent the evenings and weekends with our children laughing, playing games, going on trips, eating at the dinner table, telling about the “highlight” and “lowlight” of our days, bedtime rituals and enjoying just being together.

Broken.  I want my whole family back and within easy reach of a hug and a kiss.

Scared that I can’t get it all done and be all I should be for my kids and grandkids.

Today, the mask slipped.  Fissures appeared and tears silently flowed.  

Tomorrow, the mask will be firmly back in place.

I promise.

No cracks.

No tears.

All smiles.

Inspiration, courage, encouragement and faith will be free and abundant.

All else remains stashed behind the mask.

The Weekend is Here

I’ve been quite busy since the beginning of August.  Helping with the new baby, traveling, visiting with family and friends and sewing.  Today I delivered a baby quilt, bib and burp cloth to the sweet lady who commissioned it as a gift for a friend and then spent some time with my mom.

As wonderful as all of the busyness has been, tomorrow is Friday, the beginning of my weekend!  I’m so excited because, unless something comes up, I get to stay home!!  I get to fill my riding tractor with gas and head out to tame my yard!  It desperately needs a haircut.  I get to clean my house from top to bottom.  Once I finish all of the MUSTS, I get to tackle two yet-to-be made toddler-sized quilts that must be completed by the middle of the month.

Maybe, just maybe, if I get all of the above done, I will actually pick up a brush and slap some paint on a piece of canvas.  I haven’t painted a lick in months!!

Only time will tell but I quiver with the anticipation of accomplishing a few more goals!

What’s on your agenda for the weekend?

Friday’s day is full of dreams, and expectations of what the weekend will bring.  It is a day of transition.  A day that is at the end of the week, and at the start of the weekend..  It lives in both worlds, yet it doesn’t belong in either.  Anthony T. Hincks

 

Family

My daughter-in-law’s grandfather passed away last week. The funeral was on Saturday so I boarded the dogs and drove up to be there for support.

I really was not needed at all as they have a large, loving family that does what all great families do best…they circle the wagons and take care of their own. It was wonderful to be a witness to that first hand and it did my heart good to see that my son is in great hands. He married into a supportive and kind group of folks who, I know, will be there to help out whenever they are needed.

While I was up in North Texas for the funeral I was able to spend a couple of days with Matt and his family. Matt showed me around where he works, Kendall I talked about reality shows, kids, money and such and I played with Landon…not enough, of course. He is just precious, “Imi (for MiMi), you sit here!” “Sit right here!” “Come play with me!” “Hide (with) me!”

So demanding!!

So stinkin’ cute!

So filled with joy…all day long!

He makes my heart soar.

Of course, so does his daddy. Even under the grown up beard, broad shoulders and tall stature, I still see the little guy that he once was. The dimples peeking out from under all that facial hair, the bed head (hair untamed and sticking up in all directions), the sideways glances when I say something ridiculous or when he wants to “stealthily” see what I am thinking, the little fingers clutching his Game Boy (now the iPhone) playing his games, his excitement when sharing the day’s events and his delight at showing me what he has done/made/accomplished…all that Matt was when he was an itty-bitty still shines  through his adult eyes to remind me of the best times of my life!

Bodies may get bigger but the little children inside all of us remains.

Family.

Memories.

Good stuff!!

 

Choosing Gratitude

I had a very nice week.  I got to spend several days with Lauren, Leah and the new baby.  I LOVE spending time with my children and their children.  There isn’t any experience that is much better in this whole world.  We played at the park, enjoyed good conversation, hugged the littles…a lot…and just loved on the part of the family that was present (missed the part that wasn’t).

This weekend has been a slightly different story.  Saturday was 18 weeks; four and half months, since Steve died and for the past two days I’ve missed my Steve…badly.  Parts of each day have been good, productive and comfortable.  But, just when I think, “I can do this! Yes, I can!” an overwhelming sense of loss just comes in waves threatening to drown me in its sadness. 

So, to follow my own advice, I’m going to find joy by listing those things for which I was thankful for this week:

    • Rain!  It rained hard and long Friday night, twice on Saturday and a little bit today.  We have needed the rain badly in this area and our crunchy grass, hard soil and our wilting oaks appreciated the wet stuff.
    • Naps. I don’t often nap but I took a couple of short ones!  Niiiicccceeee.
    • Cooler weather.
    • My children, their spouses and their children.
    • Lovely breezes.
    • Antelope grazing and lingering in the back yard.
    • Dishes done.
    • Goats bleating on the hill behind the house.
    • Quail flying up out of the prairie grass and across the road.
    • Laundry done.
    • Sewing machine fixed. By ME!
    • Good wine.
    • Better bourbon.
    • Starting a new book.
    • Finding my mother okay in her home after NOT answering her phone for over six hours!  
    • Planning and scheduling two new adventures.
    • Nutritious, tasty meals.
    • Morning coffee, afternoon popsicles and evening wine all on the back porch.
    • Kisses from my pups.
    • The scent of rosemary and lavender hovering in the air after the rain.
    • Hummingbirds.
    • Butterflies.
    • Memories.
    • Texts from friends.
    • Scheduling time with those friends.

Although it is sometimes difficult….Today, I Choose Joy!

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What are you thankful for this evening?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13. 

New Babies

OH my goodness!

Babies!

Our third grandchild was born in mid-July and he is perfect!  Just like the other two, of course.  Our fourth grand baby will arrive in December…a little girl.  We will then have two of each!

Steve would have loved to be here to hold, love on and spoil the two newbies just like he did with Landon and Leah.  Who knows.  Perhaps he got to meet them in heaven before they were born to their earthly mamas!  It’s okay, Honey Bunches of Oats, I will spoil them for you.

Welcome, Baby Jase, to the family who loves you to the moon and back!

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Joy in the Midst of Trials

They say that all of the “firsts” after a loved one dies are the most difficult. I agree with that to a point because, as we are still experiencing the “firsts” since Steve’s death on April 7th, I have nothing yet with which to compare the statement. Every day is a “first” for now.

Since that totally awful day, we have celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, our what-would-have-been our 35th anniversary, July 4th and today, July 11, our youngest’s 28th birthday without the man that made it all worthwhile. Some days have been harder than others but we are working through it, each in our own way.

Steve has been gone for three months. A quarter of the year!  It has been a tough road yet, day by day, I seem to be able to cope with and come through those crazy moments of sadness and despair more quickly. Honestly though, there was a two and a half week period in June from which I doubted I would be able to recover. Anything that could go wrong did. A lightening storm knocked out the electricity to my home and caused several thousands of dollars of damage to circuits and appliances. Steve’s will was probated during this time and I did not realize what an event that would turn out to be. Probating the will was just so…final. Repairmen traipsed through my home and I wrote endless checks for repairs completed.  I even wrecked my riding lawn tractor!! Some days I literally felt like I was being torn apart at the seams!

Where was the joy? Has there been anything joyful on this new road of life?

Surprisingly, yes! In those darkest of hours when my heart is shattered beyond all repair, when the anger at our loss struggles to escape at everyone I hold dear, when the mere whisper of his name causes unstoppable tears and feelings of intense aloneness and abandonment there has been joy.

There is joy to be found but I caution you…it doesn’t always jump right out at you.

You have to look for it.  Some days you have to dig deep and look HARD for it!

Sometimes joy is as small as our little dog, Darla, curling up next to me in bed, head on paws, staring at me with those deep chocolate eyes as if saying, “I’m still here and I love you.”

Our hummingbirds and the occasional cardinal seem to appear en masse when I am at my lowest. It’s as if God himself (with a suggestion from Steve, perhaps) says, “Go let Laura know that we are here with her. She is not alone.” Oh, when they show up during those moments I bawl even harder but I am grateful and consider it a joy!

An unexpected reimbursement check, a sweet bank employee’s smile, a heart showing up on my phone from a dear friend who is thinking of me, a video sent by my children of their children, an unexpected rain shower, a new flower, FaceTime, a Scripture verse tailor made for me…the list literally goes on and one.

Even in sorrow joy exists.

I challenge you to find joy in your life!!! Even if today has been disappointing or disheartening, I challenge you to look for just ONE thing/person/action that brings you joy.

Write it down.

Tomorrow, write down just ONE thing that brings you joy. The day after, write down ONE more thing and repeat the act on each day following!

Before you know it you will have a long list of things, people, events, or words that have brought you joy and with it you will have developed a new habit of viewing your world through the lens of joy and gratitude.

Life is not easy and the road is not always, if ever, straight and smooth, but our attitude can make the journey more joy-filled!

I’m still sad. I still cry…daily.  There are even days when I think, “Nope. I don’t want to play today!”  On those days, God never fails to show show me something that gives me a smidgen of joy to get through the day.

Ask Him for help to find the joy in your world.

He will!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4