Oh So Grateful!

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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.

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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

 

Remembering 9-11

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The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom. —Rudy Giuliani

Go forth in Love.

No Regrets

No Regrets

Why is it that we often don’t realize how much a person means to us until they’re taken from us. Whether it be a move, an illness, life getting in the way keeping two people apart, or death, it’s not until the person is gone, the relationship as we knew it changed forever, that we wish we would have known, would have had some warning, and we stop and wonder what happened. And then in moves the destructive visitor of regret. Sometimes he stays for a moment, sometimes a day, sometimes weeks, months, or even years.

I’ve lost too many people who are important to me, from my grandparents (one grandmother in particular) to my step-daughter to several friends. And each time I look back and wish I would have done something different, said something different, or didn’t say or do something that I did, or simply wish I’d taken more time to give them. Each time I’m haunted by the moments these precious people wanted to spend time with me but I didn’t take the time to give them. And how, afterwards, when it was too late, I’d give anything for another chance, because I would make the time.

When someone wants to spend time with you, it’s an honor. A privilege. A compliment.

It’s all too easy to ponder the moments when that harsh word was spoken instead of being patient, when annoyances caused a hard heart and deaf ears, when things in life that don’t matter stole time right out from under us robbing us from what does matter, and guilt moves in to reside alongside regret.

Guilt and regret will destroy you if it’s given so much as a foothold.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the most recent brutal cycle of beating myself up after learning a dear friend has cancer that has spread significantly, is that I’m strong enough to not allow guilt and regret to hold me hostage. There’s no room for them at the Inn. Instead, I can let the past be the past, learn to be a better, more loving person, honor her by living a life of humility and kindness that she’s shown me, and devote time to help her travel her difficult journey.

No matter how devastating the curveball life throws at you, the best thing you can do is learn the lesson if there’s one to be learned. Get back to making room and time for the people in your life by re-evaluating your priorities.  Wake up each morning with a renewed promise to live a life of love and service. Each day is another opportunity to love, be kind to others, and let the people in your life know you love them. Don’t hesitate to give that hug, make that phone call, say that “I love you.” It’s never too late to show the people who are important to you just how important they are.

The only way to make sure you’re happy is to love and care for others, even when they don’t do the same. Spread love in the ways you know how, because the love you give is its own reward. 
― Connor Chalfant

We All Bleed the Same

You know how you can hear a song a hundred times and then on the hundred and first time you hear it, you really hear it? Or is that just me?

I’ve listened to We All Bleed the Same by Mandisa on the radio several times a week and while it always gets my attention, this past weekend it hit me up along side the head. There’s so much truth to the words in this song that it’s painful. Our world has gone so sideways with all the hate, judgement, violence and intolerance. So many groups fight against each other. Why can’t we fight for each other? Why can’t we look for the similarities rather than the differences?

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.
― Mahatma Gandhi

My challenge to you this week is to look deep inside of yourself and see if there’s a cause, or even just one person, you can fight for. Let’s make the world a better place by showing kindness to those who are different than us, tolerance to those who have different beliefs than us, and love to all.

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James

The Bucket List

Bucket List Post

How many of you have a bucket list? The movie, The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a 2007 movie in which two terminally ill men (Freeman and Nicholson) set out to accomplish a list of things they want to experience before they “kick the bucket.” I guess I took that movie to heart. Why wait until we’re dying to experience life? Each day we’re all one day closer to the end of our days. And at the risk of being cliché, not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. That shouldn’t be a depressing or distressing thought, but rather one that inspires you to truly live.

I recently reviewed my bucket list and realized how few of them I’ve accomplished, much less remembered. I updated it, removing things that no longer held interest, adding some items that have piqued my interest over the past couple of years.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years – Abraham Lincoln

Some of them I’m especially passionate about, namely:

  • Ride on a train,
  • Travel the New England coastline,
  • Perform a random act of kindness every day for a month,
  • Get to know 10 people from different countries.

While I’m an advocate for kindness by everyone, toward everyone, I’ll admit I’m not consistent in consciously looking for ways in which to practice acts of kindness. Work keeps me busy and preoccupied, life gets in the way, the lure of the television set and electronics, and…well, practicing acts of kindness gets placed on the back burner. Until I review my bucket list and remember.

Riding on a train and traveling the New England coastline are dreams that require minimal planning to make come true and are affordable. So there really is no excuse. Except, as with random acts of kindness, life happens and they become a “someday” item on the agenda, if I remember them at all.

And getting to know 10 people from different countries? That one I’m especially passionate about. Not simply meet, but with whom to share life. And, yet…yup, you guessed it…without the reminder, the effort falls to the wayside. So making an effort to meet and get to know people outside of the those that I stumble upon as I go through each day doesn’t happen.

My dream is to prove that love can cross any boundary, physical or otherwise. Nothing can stop love except unloving people. And this past year, with so many issues demonstrating anything but love, it’s especially important. There’s so much hatred, judgement, and intolerance in the world today, that it’s frightening. I want to be part of the movement to bring back love, compassion, kindness, and acceptance. It occurred to me this past weekend that while criminals in our country are considered innocent until proven guilty, those from other countries and nationalities or different race and religion than our own are often not afforded the same benefit. Instead they’re forced to prove their innocence. Where’s the fairness and justice in that? Why have we as a nation gone so far astray by separating “us” and “them.” Why can’t it just be “we?” “All” innocent first.

It’s all about Love. Acceptance. Kindness. Compassion.

I have three sponsor kiddos through Compassion International who I treasure, all three from different countries in Africa: Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Togo. That’s a start. And I’ll be printing my bucket list and keeping it handy to view frequently, reminding me in the midst of the chaos and busyness of life, what’s truly important.

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When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. William Arthur Ward

The Month of Hearts

Live, Love, Celebrate Life

February is the month of hearts and love. Anyone living on this planet is aware of Valentine’s Day, whether we’re fond of it or not. The card, flower, and chocolate industry can attest to how popular Valentine’s Day is. We celebrate and honor our “true love.” I also celebrate my kids, adults now, but that has never made me stop, as well as my grandchildren. I love them every moment of every day and try to show them as often as possible, but I cannot resist the lure of Valentine’s Day.

This year, however, my focus has been on the entire month rather than one day. February is American Heart Month. As I mentioned in a previous post, health issues have been my companion the past several months. When the cardiologist told me a pacemaker was necessary, I felt the earth crumble beneath me. I wasn’t nearly old enough for a pacemaker! And I was in perfect shape! I exercised regularly, I ate super healthy, I was filled with gratitude and joy. How can this happen?!? It was explained to me that my heart muscle was very strong (thanks in part to working out and eating a healthy diet), but the electrical component wasn’t working. In essence, I needed an electrician for my heart. That electrician came in the form of a pacemaker on January 17th.

I have never felt better. Approximately 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That’s an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.

Instead of allowing myself to wallow in the yuck of self-pity and disbelief, I’m so immensely grateful. I’m grateful that medical technology has given me new life. I’m grateful that it was caught in time before I became a statistic. I’m grateful that even though I thought my life was amazing before, that it’s gotten even better. I’m grateful for the medical professionals who have been so remarkable. And I’m grateful there’s an entire month dedicated to the heart instead of just one day. Typically my wardrobe consists of a lot of black and green. This month I proudly sport a lot of red.

My suggestion to you is:

Follow your heart, listen to your heart, protect your heart, and love with your whole heart. That is the essence of life. 

Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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Happy Valentine’s Day! 

My One Word

Kindness

As the New Year approaches–much too quickly, I must add–I’ve been preparing for, and contemplating, my one word for 2018. My One Word is an experiment developed by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen to help people get past the disappointment of not being able to keep News Years Resolutions.

I used to be one of those that set New Years Resolutions with all the best intentions and, each year determined that “I was going to make it this year.” I was lucky if I ever made it to the end of January. Of course, the type of New Years Resolutions I set was a problem, too. The expectations I had for myself exceeded what was humanly possible.

From there I tried New Years Goals. For these goals I lighted up a bit, lowered my expectations to a human level, but still was unable to keep them. Once again, the type of goals I set, despite being on a human level, were still based on extremely high expectations. Since then I’ve learned to set bite-sized goals. Along with that change, I don’t hold myself accountable to flawlessly execute each goal the entire year. I’ve learned to give myself permission to mess up. Messing up doesn’t mean I’ve failed. Getting back on track after I’ve messed up means I’ve succeeded.

In the middle of these transitions, I came across My One Word. I’ve incorporated this genius idea into my goals. The concept is to decide upon a single word that signifies something you would like to work on throughout the year. In the past I’ve chosen Grace, Silence, Love, and Risk. My One Word for 2018 is…

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How can one go wrong with Kindness. And practicing it daily can only bring positive results.

I would love to hear if you decide to use the My One Word challenge for 2018, if you have used it in the past, or if you were to implement it, what word would you choose?

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James

 

A Rich Abundant Life

This past weekend I was fortunate to attend a women’s retreat through my church. Typically, when I get home from work in the evenings I long to stay in my home office with my computer, or at least within the walls of my home with my dogs and my husband. On weekends, I don’t venture too far from home, either. Being an introvert, and after spending so much time at a day job surrounded by co-workers and fielding phone calls and office visits from the outside, quiet time at home is heaven.

Since these kinds of activities are well out of my comfort zone, the fact that I’d signed up for the women’s retreat surprised me as well as my husband. I paid the fee the moment I signed up, knowing if I didn’t I would find an excuse to back out.

I’m filled with gratitude that I persevered and went. Not only was the scenery breathtaking, the experience taught me far more than anything has in a long time and has grown me in ways I desperately needed to grow.

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At some point, I can’t remember exactly when, I closed myself off from relationship with others. And I found out I wasn’t the only one who did so. Playing it safe seems to be more popular that I’d imagined.

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During the weekend, I remembered the joy of being connected to a larger group of women, especially Christian women, when my Christian self is the area in which I wish to grow. I remembered the fulfillment that comes with being open to relationships. For far too long, I had been weighing the joy of loving someone against the potential pain of loss. And the fear of loss had been greater.

It we’re not open to others, we’re not allowing ourselves to be available to those who need us. We’re not living to our full potential, living out our purpose to love one another. How can we make a difference in the world if we stick to ourselves, an army of one? How can we make a difference in the world if we’re closed to others? And being open to even one makes a difference in the world. One is all it takes to make a good start. Each one we make a difference to will make a difference to someone else.

The weekend refueled my energy tank. It opened my heart to a life of being open and available to others. God showed me where the fear was coming from and how I was living such a limited life.

Here’s my challenge to you. Search for an area of your life that feels comfortable. Too comfortable. An area in which you tend to fall into a rut because it’s the path of least resistance. Now take some time to explore that area. What if you stepped out of your comfort zone, tried something new, opened your heart to something more than comfortable? The more you resist, the more fear is probably ruling your life. Think of how your life could potentially grow more beautiful and meaningful if you stretch yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

Comfort is good, and it does have its place. But when it comes to living and loving, comfort holds us back from fully living and loving. And if we’re not living and loving fully, we’re only living half a life.

I choose to strive to live an abundant life rich with loving others and being loved.

After you are gone, people may forget most of what you have said and done. But they will remember that you loved them. 
― Steve Goodier

Faith in Humanity

Love One Another

As news channels cover the heartbreaking devastation that Hurricane Harvey left in its wake in Houston, Texas, followed closely by Hurricane Irma in Florida, there was a message that spoke louder than the news anchors I listened to.

That message?  How tragedy can bring a country together.

For far too long, anytime I turned on the news it spewed about all the hatred and divisiveness of our people. You name it, people were hating. Whether it be race, sexual orientation, gender identification, political beliefs, personal beliefs, job choice and the action it requires, misuse of power and those not allowed to use their power…well, I could go on and on. With each broadcast, the news seems to polarize our country with half-truths, pitting people against one another. It had gotten to a point where I was seriously wondering if we, as a country, could ever turn things around again. All the hatred was suffocating everything good.

Listening to the news about the hurricanes, I finally felt a glimmer of hope for our nation and the amazing people who live here. My faith in humanity has been restored. As I hear the countless stories of individuals sacrificing what they have for the needs of those who lost, companies offering time, money, and resources to help a fellow man/woman/child/city/state, and friends and family reaching out to their loved ones in the affected cities, I see God at work. In fact, it occurred to me that this is what Christianity looks like.

  • Unselfish acts of helping another.
  • Accepting and loving, rather than judging, regardless of whether you agree with someone or not.
  • Tolerating others’ views and opinions, different as they may be from yours, accepting that your way isn’t the only way. Even proclaimed Christians have destroyed one another due to intolerance.
  • Forgive even when you don’t “feel” like it. You’ll “feel” so much better after you do!
  • Being of service to others, whether it be time in your already busy life, money that you don’t have in excess, services that you can provide to those who can’t.
  • Being a prayer warrior for those who so desperately need it.
  • Taking just a moment to write a letter of encouragement to someone who feels hopeless and alone.
  • Bringing a meal to someone who doesn’t have the physical capability or the resources to make their own.
  • Putting others needs before your wants.
  • Spend time, even if just an hour, with someone who doesn’t have anyone.

Simply stated…

Love

Above all else, love. The rest will fall into place. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we turned on the news and we heard more stories of love and hope? Stories of  people pulling for each other instead of battling against each other. Stories of people loving one another rather than killing? Stories of people accepting one another’s differences rather than hating because of them?

It IS possible. It CAN be done. But only if we all do our part. Time is at our advantage if we start NOW.

What can YOU do, TODAY, to start a revolution of loving one another?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu

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Beauty in Brokenness

Nature in its Perfectness

I spent a lot of time in nature this past weekend and marveled, as usual, in all of its splendor. The perfect creations as well as the stunning beauty in the broken.

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And I started thinking…wouldn’t it be wonderful if we appreciated people as we do nature, in all of their brokenness and all of their flaws? If we truly accepted people exactly as they are, broken and bruised, and simply admired them for what they have to offer the world?  After all, we’re all a little broken, but each of us is so unique, so beautifully and wonderfully made.

Next time you see glass that’s broken or cracked, hold it up to the light. It’s those cracks in the glass that lets the light shine through. It’s not the perfectness, but the cracks, that create a brilliant light show you otherwise wouldn’t see.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen

Broken and Beautiful

This week may we look for the broken and choose to love them exactly as they are. Don’t judge or try to fix, just accept. Acceptance is the key to greatness and that greatness unlocks the door to bountiful love. And love, pure love, is what the world desperately needs.

“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”                   –Terry Tempest Williams

And now it’s off to the final week of Camp NaNo with its virtual cabins, campfires, and s’mores, and 30,000 words into Shear Murder, book 3 in the Melanie Hogan cozy mysteries.

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