Monday, May 23, 2016

The Plan



Today I pulled out this coffee mug for my morning cup of joe. It was a gift from my daughter-in-law, Holly, several years ago. It makes me happy just looking at it. But I never really thought too much about the scripture reference. So today I decided to look it up:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

As soon as I read the words, I was shocked to feel tears running down my cheeks. And yet, instantaneously, I knew why. It is exquisite and sad at the same time.

He has a plan. But we can't know it. Yet.

I'm feeling melancholy today because it is just a year since my mother died. I miss her more now than I did just after it happened. Why is that? I don't get it, but there it is.

I read the next line:

"I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor - it is the gift of God."

Now I'm feeling a bit of joy here, how about you? Even as God puts limitations on our lives, He does want us to enjoy the fruits of our labors, meaning our families and the food and drink and homes that we obtain through our work here on earth.

My daughter Megan was visiting me last evening and we were discussing how much we love our morning cup of coffee - it is truly sometimes the best part of the morning - we really look forward to that first cup! We joked about it a little, but it really is all the little things that make your day, isn't it?

Very few of us experience huge windfalls such as Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, winning the lottery, etc. Being successful is really in cultivating an appreciation for the life you have, the little things that bring you pleasure where you are right now.

On to more upbeat posts in the near future: we're doing a partial remodel in the kitchen, and I'll share a few pictures. I've shared a few already on Facebook, but we are not finished.

Looks like Summer is here!!!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

David

Today marks the anniversary of my brother's death. Six years ago he made the choice to end his life. My whole family was never the same after. I can't speak for everyone else, but I suspect I'm not the only one who still wonders why.  I don't think my mother ever really recovered from the total, shockingly raw, agonizing pain. There just aren't enough adjectives to describe how a mother must feel. When I try to imagine it I have to give up after a few moments because I just can't even deal with it in a safe, artificial context.  I do know that a mother's love knows no bounds. It doesn't matter what her son/daughter does in life, she will love him/her unconditionally, beyond death, beyond eternity.

However, the beauty of the human heart is that it does heal. And after several years, the good memories begin to crowd out the bad. Over the past couple of years I have found myself recounting fond memories to my children of David and me in our childhood years. I tell them how we played and of the hours we spent swimming in the lake (literally hours!). And I let them know that we stayed outdoors from morning until dark, coming inside only to grab a sandwich for lunch, which we often had to eat outside because we were dripping wet. And how our favorite games were building roads in the dirt with sticks and stones and driving just a couple of matchbox cars around for hours. What a life! I'm pleasantly surprised to see how interested my grown children are to hear these stories.

David and me.

When I think of Dave now, I always see him perched on the bar stool in Mom's kitchen. That's where we all were, all of the time.  Hanging out around the kitchen counter. Just like it is now in my house, with my kids. And so it goes...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moving Right Along...

Ok, so I've managed to check something off my Resolutions list - cleaning the workshop.  Just as a reminder, here is the before:


You can't even see the floor and it was nearly impossible to get through here.

                                                And here is the after:



 I'm feelin' pretty good about this, so I want to keep the momentum going. I'm presently working on organizing the storage room.

It was a wonderful holiday season here in our household - lots of company, lots of food and fun. I hope it was the same for you. Now we have to tough out the cold, dreary months of January through March here in the North, so I guess it's a good time to take care of these inside projects. We're going to do a little remod in my kitchen - pretty excited about that. I'll be posting the progress.

I'll leave you with the photo we put on our Christmas card this year. Think warm sand and sun!

Six of the eight grands - the two babies were up on the deck with their mamas :)


Friday, January 1, 2016

Resolution

I never make New Year's Resolutions. Until now. And I'm going all out this year. So here goes:

1.  I'm going to start by blogging again. I quit because I was having issues with my blog. I moved over to wordpress because I had been told it was more sophisticated. Big mistake. I didn't like it. It didn't allow me the freedom to do the things I wanted it to do. I finally learned how to basically pick up and move everything back over to blogger. Hopefully I have it figured out now, because I really don't want to start over. I like the title and background. And it takes a long time to find a new name for a blog - there are literally millions out there, and every name you can think of is already in use.

2.  I'm going to write every day. It may only be a couple of lines, but if I say it out loud, maybe it will happen.

3.  I'm going to clean the workshop. That's a scary one. The guys are the only ones who use it and it's pretty awful. But I'd like to be able to use it once in a while for a picture framing project, or a painting project, so if I want it cleaned, well, you know how that goes...

4.  I'm going to organize the storage room. Another scary one, and that one is my own fault. It was actually pretty organized at one point, but we sold the ranch this past summer, and everything that we had stored up there ended up being thrown into storage here and now it's time to take care of it. I  DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!! So I have to write it down somewhere in order to be accountable.

Everyone always posts perfect pictures on their blogs that make me feel like a failure in my life, how about you? Just to make you-all feel better, I'm posting 'before' pictures of my 'to-do' projects.
This is the workshop.

This is one half of the storage room.

So there you have it. What a mess! Don't you feel better now?
  Anybody else pledging New Year's Resolutions? It seems to be a thing of the past. But it's kind of like dieting. I hear people saying there's no point in dieting because they know they won't stick to it. Well then, yep, you've defeated yourself before you've even started. So, I'm going to aim high and if I'm lucky, I'll achieve half of what I set out to do :)


Happy New Year!
Marie

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Sum of a Life

My mother passed away 2 weeks ago.  And now I am a motherless person, a second-hand victim of cancer, like so many others.  It took less than 6 months. That wasn’t enough time.  Not enough time to ask her all of the questions I now have rolling around in my head. Like how do I gracefully transition into this next stage of my life? A life without children in my house and with lots of time on my hands to do what? She figured it out on her own as she did so many other things.  Now I’m on my own. It feels so foreign. 

For decades she and I have exchanged emails almost daily.  If there wasn’t anything important to share, we at least shared the weather with each other, since we lived several hours apart.  Frankly, I’m shocked at how much I will miss those mundane messages.  Sometimes I hurried through them without much thought.  But several times in the past month I have sat down at my computer and looked hopefully for that email from Mom.  Then I remembered that she wasn’t able to type anymore because of the tumors in her brain.  And I felt so let down.  I knew the end was coming eventually, but when I got the phone call from my brother it was still a shock. 

Now here I am, not knowing how to deal with this sadness.  Mom would know. When I was sad, I would tell her how I was feeling, and she would say. “Well, of course, that’s because…” and she would hit the nail on the head every time. That’s because she knew me before I knew myself.  She would tell me today why it’s been days and yet, I still can’t cry.  I suspect it’s because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to stop.  And because I abhor the emotion.  Stoic is the way to go.  It’s a lot safer.

When I got married, I couldn’t so much as fry an egg.  That’s one area where Mom sort of dropped the ball.  She felt it was so much easier to just do the cooking herself, rather than take the time to teach me, since I wasn’t a very willing pupil.  But she did teach me many more things that were far more valuable in life:

She taught me empathy.  I believe this is the most important thing to teach a child.  She continually pushed me to think about how I would feel in the other person’s place in any given situation.  That has served me well as a mother, teacher, friend.  Trying to imagine how the other person is looking at life helps you understand why they do the things they do.

She taught me to trust my gut.  Probably the best motherly advice she ever gave me.  And I pass that on to my daughters.  So comforting to have someone tell you that you already have inside you just what you need to take care of your baby, if you can just trust yourself.

She taught me to be frugal.  Need I say more…

She taught me to be brave. She was SO brave.  She started a business with no prior experience and made it a success.  No fear.  And she faced cancer the same way.  No fear.

Over the years, all of the tears, anger, worries about little imagined slights and insults, when the end of life comes, all that matters is what a person gives.  I am astonished at this.  I don't suppose that should surprise any of us who are Christians, and yet, we tend to lose sight of what we are here for.  Now, when we celebrate my mother's life, all we can think of to sum up her life is the gifts of her time and loving influence.

Our parents’ influence determines how we raise our children.  And so it goes.  John and I have always believed that the most important thing we do in this life is raise up the next generation.  What a gift it is to have the proper tools for the job.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dear Mama

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Thank you for all of the 'kitchen talks'.  I still go over them in my mind, even though they were 40-some years ago.  Thank you for teaching me empathy.  Thank you for making me want to be a mother.  I know that I've said this to you in the past, but now that we are running out of time, I want you to have these words fresh in your mind. I think of how precious time is now, and I'm grateful that I've always had your example to teach me to drop everything when my own daughters needed some time for a 'kitchen talk'.

I love you Mama

Marie

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Bachelor Uncle

When I was young, I had several uncles, but there was one special uncle that was the 'fun' uncle.  He was the youngest uncle and he always had a joke, riddle or game to play. He was my Uncle Larry, although he often liked to call himself 'Uncle Fud'. He teased us constantly and he didn't really seem like a grown-up to us. This made him very approachable, so even though he was fun, I often was able to share my troubles with him as a teenager when I wasn't able to talk to my parents.

I've noticed that many families have a bachelor uncle like my Uncle Larry.  We have one in our family at the moment, although I doubt he will maintain his bachelor status for long (this mom believes all of her sons are stellar prospects!). These young men are a treasure trove of jokes and endless energy and patience.  They always appear and take over just when the Littles are starting to wear on their parents. They entertain and distract while the table is being set, or just before bedtime.  I'm sure many of you have bachelor uncles in your families.  Bless them and tell them how much they are appreciated :)



[Uncle Dan gives advice to two of his nephews. Not sure what the subject was, but it looks serious. Yes, that is a batman costume :)