I continue to be amazed by how this year has not looked like I anticipated back as the end of 2015 rolled around, and I began pondering what 2016 might be. God is surprising that way.
One of the biggest things I am learning is to just keep moving forward and through it. I am learning to continue to trust the process when it appears in surprising forms.
Last week I typed a quick update about the next step I was taking with the Lay Counseling Certificate, that of acceptance, and was blown away by the number of views on the blog and words of encouragement through text and facebook likes from so many.
It has been that way since.
When Angela launched the Go Fund Me site, she set $8,000 as the target goal, which felt so high to me. She reminded me that in addition to tuition, there were plane tickets ~ which she had researched ~ and travel expenses for four trips. I felt grateful for an objective friend who could help me count the cost ~ literally.
Four days after the fundraising site launched, I was able to ask Angela to adjust the goal from $8,000 to $6,950 to reflect money that has come in in both on and offline, as well as an early registration scholarship that I received. Already I am seeing provision for this road ahead.
I continue to move forward.
I will continue to ask Angela to adjust the fundraising page to reflect the actual amount still needed and to update the blog with ways that funding has been supplied. There are stories behind stories and so many connections that the process can feel overwhelming ~ in a good way. Good overwhelming is still overwhelming.
Thank you for walking with me, Friends, and for encouraging me through this process. I am already learning and growing, and it’s only the beginning.
Seeing a large picture of my face pop up in my facebook feed was more than a little disconcerting and overwhelming. There are lots of feelings swirling, but mostly I feel humbled after seeing Angela’s work on the site and reading the words that others wrote as testimonials.
Please check out the page here to read more about what I am already doing/have done and consider contributing to the cause, if you wish. Any amount, large or small, including the investment of prayer for the journey ahead is most welcomed.
I am fully confident in God’s provision for the task that I have been given. I know that he has been faithful and will continue to be. This is the biggest jolt from my comfort zone, yet.
One of the unique aspects of this program is the in-person, group work that is done to better equip participants to sit with others in-person. To do that, one must be physically present. In-person. To be in-person means I must travel from east coast to west. To travel costs money, and though I plan to do all I can to keep costs low, I appreciate having a friend who is helping me to count the cost realistically.
I am committed to using any funds raised solely for this purpose and for furthering my education in the area of counseling, as I firmly believe that this is the chapter that is beginning to open for me on the edge of my next season.
Thank you to all who have encouraged, been curious with, cheered me on, walked alongside, allowed me to walk alongside, or just clicked around on the blog. However you have arrived, I consider your presence in my life a gift.
Be Blessed, Friends!
This is half of the inside of a card created by Angela in fall ’15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate. The other half was full of words of encouragement meant just for me.
My husband celebrates his birthday on January 10, a day that comes on the heels of a big season of celebrating ~ Christmas, New Year’s Eve, our Anniversary. It arrives before the tiniest bit of breathing room, and we celebrate two of our children at the end of the month.
He has always been gracious and low-maintenance about his day. His only request is the cake. It is a chocolate layer cake with three textures ~ cake layers, mousse middle, and ganache frosting. It is divine.
This year, with all of the busyness, he said, You don’t have to make the cake. I will just pick out a cake at Costco.
Now Costco has wonderful cakes, but I wrestled with the fact that the cake is one of the few special things I do for his birthday, and I really wanted to bake it, as always. I made up my mind to just do it.
Mixing up the wet ingredients, then the dry ones to add to the batter, I realized that I had measured the wrong amount of salt. I haven’t baked for awhile! was running through my head.
Dumping the dry ingredients into the trash, I measured again, carefully this time, and continued with the recipe. I poured beautiful batter into greased and lined pans. They baked while I began the mousse filling.
Pulling the pans from the oven, my first thought was, I don’t remember the layers looking so flat, but there are a lot of things I don’t remember that turn out fine. I continued.
Cooling the cake, I fluffed up the mousse and frosted between the layers. It was time to mix up the ganache and pour it over the top of the cake. This plate that I have the cake on makes it look really small. I’m sure it’s fine, though. No one will notice.
Smoothing the thick chocolate over the top and letting it drip down the sides of the layers, I returned the cake to the fridge to rest for the evening. It would be ready for the birthday celebration the following day.
Why does that cake look so small? exclaimed my little noticing truth-teller, the minute she opened the fridge the next morning. So it wasn’t just me. The wheels in my head began turning, and doubt that I had added baking soda during the second mixing settled firmly.
I thought it looked a little small, too, added the one whose birthday was being celebrated, but I’m sure it will still taste good.
The tearburst that followed caught us both off guard, as I sat crying about so many things, the least of which was the cake but also about the cake.
That’s what found us lighting candles and singing “Happy Birthday” at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in January. Because sometimes you start with the cake.
It was delicious. A little dense, but oh so tasty. Happy Birthday, Steve! Top o’ the morning to you!
I picked up my fourth-grader from school yesterday. Excitement radiated from her as she shared about her purchases at the Knight Bucks Store, a shopping venue set up with donated items. Students used their incentive dollars, Knight Bucks, to buy gifts for friends and family and then maybe select an item or two for themselves.
There were even people wrapping presents, and they were professionals. They didn’t just tie a plain ribbon around the present, but they used scissors to actually curl the ribbon and make it all fancy.
I don’t know what that says about the wrapping skills in this house, but I was grateful for the teachers and parents who took time to man the store and the wrapping station. I was thankful for the fancy, because through the eyes of my child, it was exquisite.
I got a present for Collie.
Now, Collie is her sister’s stuffed dog who has a personality and a voice all his own. In fact, there is a whole subculture in this house revolving around Collie and Bessie. It made complete sense that when the gift was opened, it was a cow.
From what I gather, Collie was nourished on Bessie milk as a pup.
To be honest, I always felt uncomfortable to hear them talking about Bessie milk, because it sounded like breast milk in their high-pitched, slow-talking animal voices. I realize as I admit this, that breast milk is what all of my children were nourished on, and that the crunchiness-level in our house should make phrases like Bessie milk a non-issue, but triggers abound, and awkwardly using the correct words for body parts and functions continues to remain one of mine.
It’s redemptive that I can push through and allow my children to use correct words for body parts and functions, even though I inwardly cringe.
The excitement that younger sister felt about bringing a gift home to older sister’s treasured stuffed animal was sweet to behold. The joyful playfulness they shared by the light of the Christmas tree, acting out voices of each animal was quietly witnessed by me as I prepared food in the kitchen.
My heart wanted to expand, and at the same time shut down. Hence, the resistance.
I don’t have fond memories of myself at the age of my girls. I don’t look back and feel sweet or fun or generous. When I think of myself at ten and beyond, it’s not with kindness, especially in relationships with my siblings. To witness and focus on the kindness of my girls and the friendship they share at this age offers an invitation to taste redemption.
Sometimes I taste it, and it’s sweet. Other times, it’s a bitter pill of grief that I struggle to swallow. This redemption that shows up in strange places is an invitation to participate in the process. It is an offering of light brought to scatter the darkness.
They are my greatest gifts. They are what God knew I needed, and I cling to that reminder when I’m not so sure.
They are some of my issues. I have helped to create many of theirs.
Five remain at home, one with his foot out the door, but still very much present. It takes many deep breaths and much fortitude to brace for the second half of this parenting journey with the ones who remain.
This is a bag of cheese pulled from the freezer for Friday night pizza.
Several weeks ago, adult child three stopped in unexpectedly. She helped make the Friday night pizza. She also offered to divide the giant bag of mozzarella cheese into smaller, freezer-sized portions, a task not my favorite.
In the weeks following, as I pulled cheese from the freezer, I found hand-written notes on the bags. I love my mama. It’s Friday! and other sweet messages adorned them, written in trademark black Sharpie.
This bag makes me smile so much that I’m keeping it to refill. I love the picture she drew and her handwriting for the words and just everything that reminds me of the huge, undeserved gift I’ve been given to be the mom in the picture.
I’m thankful for moments like this where I am reminded of the redemptive good birthed from the very hard. Many years of pizza making, lots of Fridays, lots of freezing of cheese and sauce and dough, lots of misunderstandings about plans and movie choices and curfews come together in a moment of beauty written on a bag of cheese.
We met in the fall of ’13. God led us to Michigan. Two struggling souls 1,000 miles apart, longing to make sense of their stories.
Our first interaction was to trace each other’s body outline onto a piece of long paper that would then be hung on the wall of our My Journey Continues group room and pored over for a week.
Where do you feel shame in your body? What color is it? What did that responsibility feel like to you? I’m curious about why there is no mouth on your person?
(Ok. That last one was made up by me. No one actually said that to me, but I was disturbed by the fact that my curly black hair, blue eyes, symmetrical ears, and cute nose appeared without second thought, but I could not seem to be able to draw my mouth. Interesting.)
So there we were, taking turns lying down, trying to relax in this very vulnerable state, trying not to violate each other’s dignity with markers, trying to breathe. She was very kind.
That week she spoke words of grace and truth to me. During one particular group session when I was becoming increasingly overwhelmed, she offered words of freedom. They were what I needed to hear in the moment, and I was able to be present.
We laughed together.
We cried together.
We danced together.
The week ended.
We stayed in touch.
Through texting and phonecalls and facebook and letters, our long-distance relationship continued. There were moments of hard and moments of laughter. There were words of encouragement and sharing of grief.
There were surprise cards and a precious gift. There was her beautiful heart.
I want to give them back. As quickly as my heart fills with gratitude, I want to say, “No, please keep this, because I won’t be able to reciprocate well enough, and I will disappoint you with my friendship.”
This week a card came in the mail.
A real card from a real friend from far away.
We have only spent a week of real-life time together, but our hearts have connected through email, facebook, texts, and phonecalls since then. She is a precious gift who has encouraged me by her words and gifts across the miles, and this week was one of those times.
It’s been a hard week for my heart.
Another friend met me for coffee last Saturday morning. It was a finally getting coffee date after too many, We should get together sometime-s.
Sunday night she asked if I would be picking my son up from youth group, because she had something for me. I told her that someone would be, and I would be sure they connected with her.
Later that evening there was a tiny gift on the table with a little note. So thoughtful and perfect. I love tiny things. And coffee.
But immediately my heart felt overwhelmed by fear. Fear of not being good enough, thoughtful enough, the right kind of friend.
Which is not what receiving another’s friendship is about.
I am grateful for friends and for seasons and for thoughtfulness. Especially this week, as my heart has been struggling in so many ways, the reminders of love and care from those who struggle themselves mean so much and remind me that we are not alone.
I am not alone.
Thank you, Friends. ALL of you who reach out to others (not just me) when you struggle yourselves. That is a gift.
I experienced this last week when both grown-up girls gave me thoughtful gifts they had picked up on their adventures.
The first I found with a note left on the dining room table upon waking from a nap. Wedding recovery week/first week home with the kids for summer was a blur, and in the midst of this, daughter number two had stopped by. She didn’t wake me from slumber, but Jemima Puddle Duck was waiting for me when I awoke, picked up on one of her travels.
I added Jemima to my shelf of little things that go together randomly, because she belonged. My girl knew it would be meaningful. She gets me in all of my random quirkiness.
A few days later, my newlywed was home from her honeymoon trip. She brought an early birthday gift in the form of a small table to use outside in a corner of the yard. She knew I had been digging and planting back there, and that it was a nice place to get away and sit a bit.
I also like it in the corner of the kitchen where it resides currently. It’s a great place to rest a coffee mug or wine glass, depending on the time of day.
I love my big girls. I love that they get me, or at least try to, and that in the midst of the getting, they give me much grace.
Pier One Imports was my destination for all things copper-y (colored, at least!).
I chose a copper-colored cork cage to collect all of our wine corks, two coppery coffee mugs for our favorite coffee times together, and three coppery spheres.
The spheres have special meaning.
If you look at one, it is dented all around. That one is my man. A bit banged up and dented by the years. In the back there is one made of broken mosaic pieces. That is me. Broken with sharp edges and lots of facets. (It’s also the only one that is completely round with no flattened base on which to stand, unbeknownst to me when I chose it. We had a laugh over it when trying to decide how to display.)
Who chooses a completely round sphere and expects it not to roll away? We improvised a stand for it.
The final sphere looks like leaves are covering it, representing our life and growth together.
There you have my very G-rated anniversary gifts to my husband. We had a low-key celebration that included Taste of Thai take-out and a movie at home.
Just being together, getting ready to grow through another year.