Oh So Grateful!

1000789_602599603108372_472059398_n

 

As I write this post, my precious almost-two-year-old granddaughter is sleeping soundly in the room next door. I know without a doubt it’s soundly because she fell asleep in my arms while I rocked her, while I carried her upstairs and lay her down, covering her with a soft blanket, and ten minutes later when I dropped a jar of blackberry jelly on a tile floor. For those who aren’t as graceful as me (a little sarcasm there) and have never done that, let me tell you it makes an earth-shattering noise that could wake the dead and sends tiny glass shards spraying across the entire kitchen floor. Shards so tiny that a broom will not sweep them and a good vacuuming is required. After which, I peeked in on my granddaughter and the angel hadn’t stirred a muscle. I can’t remember the last time I slept that well. She’s staying with me while we eagerly await the birth of her little brother or sister.

Given the magic of grandchildren, I thought this was a good time to do a gratitude post. My top three things I’m grateful for this past week are:

1.)  My grandchildren. Seeing the looks on the faces of three precious grandchildren when they wake up early in the morning to see me there because their mommy and daddy went to the hospital to give them a new little one. Time spent one-on-one with one of those precious little ones, in whose eyes and behaviors I see glimpses of her daddy, giving me the joy of memories when he was a child. And little arms that circle my neck as she presses her forehead against mine. Watching her dance with all she’s got to the song Let it Go from the movie Frozen.

2.)  A visit from my other son telling me the details of his day with such enthusiasm and passion, leaving with a hug and an “I love you, mom.” Those words are priceless.

3.)  Watching the sunrise, a crisp white blanket of a recent snowfall around me, the mountain backdrop, from the beautiful heat of a hot tub.

gratitude-1.28.19.png

What tops your gratitude meter this week?

***Update and addition to number 1: My three granddaughters have a new little sister and I have a new granddaughter. 

Child of my child, heart of my heart.
Your smile bridges the years between us…
I am young again, discovering the world through your eyes.
You have the time to listen and I have the time to spend,
Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features made new in you again.
Through you, I see the future. Through me, you’ll see the past.
In the present, we’ll love one another as long as these moments last. ― Author Unknown

 

Happy Father’s Day!

happy-fathers-day-images3
Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there, as well as to all of the uncles, step-dads, grandpas, friends, and anyone who is blessed to have the role of dad and make a difference in the life of a child.
You Rock!

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Mary, Mother of Jesus

mother-mary-with-child-jesus

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. Little did I know back then, that role would far surpass any joy I’ve ever experienced. And that it would rocket my capacity to worry past the moon. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since my boys were born. And this month they turn 24 and 27!

Mary, on the other hand, knew she was going to lose her son. She knew she was going to give birth to the Lord of heaven and earth, and knew from Jesus himself what was forthcoming. Could you imagine? I’m not sure–no, I am sure–I would never have been able to handle that with such grace, such trust in God, such beauty, as she did. She was the epitome of what a mother should be.

I’ve kept journals for each of my boys until they were 12 years old. I wrote in those journals every day when they were younger, a little less frequently as they got older, but even then, at least a few times a week. I tried to capture the miracle of everything life gave them every single day – the joy, the hurts, the lessons. When I read those journals, it’s like experiencing those magical days of motherhood again. What a miracle! My boys have taught me the definition of real and unconditional love. They’ve taught me how beautiful it is to see life through the eyes of a child. And through it all, they’ve taught me to trust Jesus.

images511DL4VT

Another miracle of being a mother? I’m a grandmother. And what a joy that is! 🙂

photo 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Signing a Success

Book Signing

My book signing this past Saturday was better than I had even expected. The highlight, however, was not the books sold, but the 11-year old who visited my table. She loves to write and I could see the light dance in her eyes as she talked about it. I saw myself in that little girl and it brought back so many memories of the countless hours sitting in my room or floating in the boat as it was tied to the dock, creating poetry and ideas that carried me to other worlds.

From the encounter with that little girl, I’ve decided to plan an 8-week class that meets once a week at our local recreation center for kids 7-17, to mentor them and work with them on all things writing. I’m so excited to tie together my love of words and writing and my passion for children to help make a difference.

So after the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference I’m attending this weekend, followed by a family vacation, my goal is to further develop this plan. My heart is bursting with joy and my head with ideas! 🙂

Have a great week writing and creating. 🙂

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. -Steven Spielberg

 

Happy Mother’s Day

MN 2013 046

There won’t be any biking today as I traditionally do on Mother’s Day, as the ground is coated with about 5″ of white fluff and the trees are several feet shorter under the weight of the snow. It looks like we went from spring back to winter here in Colorado. But it’s beautiful, I’ll give it that.

To all the mothers, step-mothers, grandmother’s in the role of mother, women who have found their role as mother in any other way, conventional or not, and to all the men who have had to play dual roles, one of mother:

Here’s wishing you an amazing, beautiful day to celebrate the little ones–or not so little–that you nourish, love, guide, teach, and “mother.”

And thank you to my boys, Benjamin and Alex, who have made me the most grateful, blessed, and happy mama I could ever hope to be. My life has been beyond beautiful–and never boring 🙂 –because of those two amazing boys who have turned into amazing men. I couldn’t be more proud!

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” ― Rudyard Kipling

Living With Compassion

 

Live Simply

If there’s one thing that can turn a bad day into a good one every single time it’s connecting with my Compassion kiddos. I can be having a terrible day at work, but if at the end of that day I come home to find a letter from one of my three kids in the mailbox, it’s like the dawning of a new and better day. I learn so much from them on how to be thankful for the smallest things in life, about praying for one another and asking for prayer for our families, and that less truly is often more.

I look at today’s kids with cell phones in kindergarten, people of all ages texting or otherwise immersed in phone or computer games and social media instead of connecting with one another in person and it makes my heart heavy. Trust me, there is no judging going on here. Me, my children and my grandchildren are all active participants of this movement. But it saddens me, nonetheless, to see that we’re moving away from personal contact with others, from living relationships with others, to cyber relationships.

I watch as we in this country become so obsessed with things, when my Compassion kiddos are simply trying to stay fed and clothed. And yet they’re happier and richer than anyone else I know. One of my kids, Alex Mandari, from Tanzania sent me a letter last week thanking me for his birthday money. With it he bought clothes, shoes and food. Buying all that with the small amount I sent him shows me he’s a master at making the most of a dollar. He tells me what he learns at the Compassion Center on Saturdays, about the goodness of God, how it’s important to listen to Him, and tells me every time he writes that he’s praying for me and my family. He’s a fifteen year old boy going on fifty in terms of wisdom and life lessons.

I began my sponsorship with these three angels wanting to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. To share what I have with those who have not. However, what happened is that they are the ones who daily make a difference in my life. They teach me about faith, unconditional love, and the power of prayer. They teach me that giving is a gift to the giver. They give to me of their lives, their worlds, their enthusiasm and zest for life, and the best part of humanity I could ever hope to experience. They aren’t just my sponsor kids, they’re part my family. And I’m so richly blessed!

Alex M. Amede Mamounata

Alex, Tanzania, 15                         Amede, Togo, 8                      Mamounata, Burkina Faso, 10

I have come across criticism a time or two for sponsoring outside of my country when we have so much need here. My answer is that thank goodness there are so many people with so many different interests. My answer is that it doesn’t matter where you give and who you give to, only that we give to each other. My passion lies with these three children and the people who make up their worlds, and also the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m so fortunate to have these passions laid upon my heart.

I would love to hear how you volunteer your time and support others and to hear how it has enriched your life, the giver of self, time and finances. It has paid me back far beyond what I’ve expended. 🙂

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

Carpe Diem

Happy Father’s Day

Fathers Day

Wishing all the men a Happy Father’s Day and a giant Thank You for the difference you make to children. God Bless You!

“Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.”

-Naveen Jain

 

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday morning after I finished my run, I walked out on the pier that graces the park, as I usually do, to enjoy the view while I cooled down, stretched, and practiced some end-of-workout meditation. Usually, I’m alone on that pier because it’s typically early in the morning.

Yesterday morning was one of the rare occasions I wasn’t alone out there. Besides the birds flying overhead, including the eagles that frequent that area, there was a young man on his cell phone, oblivious to my presence. His cap was cocked a bit, his pants riding too low, feet shuffling in contradiction to the attitude he worked hard to portray. I wasn’t fooled. Something about him touched my heart.

I  felt like it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to turn around and leave, leaving him to his private conversation, but hearing what he said to the person on the other end made me unable to turn away.

“My dad called me, dude, and he said, ya know, I’m really sorry for what I done. I know I never got to know Cory very much and what I done was really messed up. I shoulda at least called. And then he says…”

Those words, and the ones that followed, were laced with some colorful expletives, but I saw that young man as a confused little boy who was trying to make sense of words spoken by a father who had been missing from his life.

I walked out of listening range to allow him privacy, yet nonchalantly watched his body language say what I couldn’t hear his words say.

My heart broke for him.

Having worked with children from broken families when I was a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and in the counseling office of a high school, I saw so many confused, neglected children trying to make sense of life. And oftentimes those children made poor choices in the process. Choices that unfortunately too often defined who they were to the people subjected to those choices. People who didn’t know their story.

While I’m not making excuses for negative behavior, and I certainly believe consequences are necessary to teach (teach, not punish), I think it’s important to also understand what these children may have lived through. And may be still living with. The hell that is very possibly their reality on a daily basis. There were more than a couple of times that I spoke with my husband about a troubled child and told him I so wished I could take him/her home to show him/her what love, stability and safety look like. To which my practical husband responded the same way each time. “Honey, they aren’t puppies. You can’t just take them home.” 🙂

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to give a shout out to all the father’s, stepfathers, uncles, grandpas–to all men–to never underestimate the powerful role you play in the lives of the children whose lives you touch. They see and hear so much more than you realize. Especially by what is not being said or done. Be courageous and fearless in teaching them morals and values, in loving them no matter what and through all things. Thank you for making the difference in the life of a child–if even just one. Because that one will make a difference to another, and that one to another…

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Parenting may not be a walk in the park, but as happens with a walk in the park, it’s a beautiful process. One in which you can see the fruits of your labor, some seasons just happen to be better and easier than others.

When I left the park, that young man was still talking on the phone with the same intensity as when I first came by him. My heart gave him a hug and I prayed for him and for all the lost and hurting children.

jimvalvano358465

Peace.

 

 

A Mother’s Day Thanksgiving

English: BBQ - Self Designed.

English: BBQ – Self Designed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been a lazy blogger the past week. That being said, I’ve been breathing new life into revising my novel, The Inheritance, and I’m seeing the final touches being completed in the very near future. Near, as in by mid-June. 🙂

My husband and I are taking a much needed vacation this next week–leaving in the morning–so I will resume blogging after we get back home.

In the meantime, I’m re-posting what I wrote for last Mother’s Day, a day that was so spiritually lifting it took my breath away.

I would like to wish all mothers, wanna-be mothers, aunts, grandmas, moms to pets, and any woman who cares for a child, regardless of whether you gave birth to them or not, a very happy Mother’s Day. Celebrate YOU, the LOVE you give, and the DIFFERENCE you make in the life a child.

And here’s the re-blog:

True to form, my husband agreed to do whatever I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, wanting to be sure my day was perfect.  My list consisted of two things: our first bike ride of the season, 30 miles round trip along the Platte River Trail to Confluence Park in Denver, enhanced by getting a treat from Starbucks, of course, followed by a BBQ in our backyard with my kids. We were on the bike path by 9:00 a.m., the slightest breeze, sun shining bright, trees budding like crazy, grass green as  be. I was in a state of awe as I breezed along the path, all of my senses aroused and drinking in the beauty that surrounded me. And all I could do was pray, giving thanks to a God who is so amazing to care about the most insignificant parts of my life, making them so significant.I saw the wild flowers sprinkled throughout the open fields, like paint on a canvas, and gave thanks for the blessings, too numerous to count, sprinkled throughout each of my days.

English: Wild Flowers in the Crop The rapeseed...

English: Wild Flowers in the Crop The rapeseed crop was dotted with a selection of wild flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw three small children lined up on a fallen log like baby birds in a nest, reaching up to the man standing before them patiently providing water and nourishment for the next leg of their journey. I gave thanks for the supply of living water and spiritual nourishment He provides me to sustain me on my journey of life.In the river below the bank I saw the flowing ripples from a duck that had taken flight. I gave thanks for a God who flows through my veins with love and grace to create the ripple effect to those He brings me to.

A woman in fragile health, wearing a mask protecting her mouth and nose from breathing the dust in the air, yet not afraid to go out and breathe in the beauty of the earth, smiled at me, the gentle crinkling at the corner of her eyes,  as she walked past. I thanked Him for my health and for his loving Spirit flowing to me through others.

I heard a baby crying in a meshed carriage being pulled behind a bike, and I watched the mother stop to comfort her child.  I thought of Mary on this blessed Mother’s Day, the perfect example of obedience and motherhood, bearing and raising a son that became my savior. And I gave thanks for the privilege of being a mother.

In the heat and stillness of mid-summer, with a not-distant-enough sewage treatment plant along one portion of the river, where I usually strengthen my breath holding skills, this particular day I inhaled the sweet fragrance of crab apple blossoms in the gentle spring breeze. And I gave thanks for the ability to smell such sweetness.

Martin Johnson Heade - Apple Blossoms CGF

Martin Johnson Heade – Apple Blossoms CGF (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we walked in the park and I saw a disheveled man, sleeping soundly through the activity happening around him, back pack askew, I thanked God for my home and for the strength to get off the elevator of alcoholism before it hit the bottom floor. And I prayed for this man. That he would find the loving God that has blessed me beyond what I can possibly begin to comprehend.His goodness is everywhere, in everything, and in everyone. I’ve come to believe that what I look for, I will find. If I look for His blessings and His goodness, I will see it. Each morning upon waking, I have a choice whether I will see goodness. And I pray each day I choose wisely.

Share with me what you are grateful for today at this very moment.

“Z” is for…

Zoey and Zig Ziglar

Yes, you read that correctly.  My favorite “Z” word in the whole world is Zoey, my precious granddaughter. There is none so perfect as she. 🙂 Especially in her sassy little leopard print dress.

photo (5)

And Zig Ziglar? I couldn’t think of a better way to end this remarkable blog challenge than with one of his quotes.  This adventure has led me to the good habit of writing every day (which I hope I can keep), it has helped me get to know acquaintances better (My NCW comrades), and has brought some amazing blogging friends into my blogging life. It has been an amazing ride and I hope to stay connected with all of you. Every one of you has a special place in my heart.

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
Zig Ziglar