Friday, August 20, 2010

Forever Happiness ...

While cleaning out cupboards yesterday I discovered a small off white, silk mesh bag about 5" wide and six" long.  My friends Tami and Scott sent me a beautiful glass bowl with a wide rim for my 50th birthday.  Along the edge are the words, faith, hope and love.  Inside the bowl set the little silk bag filled with the little cards that read along the top edge, "Wishing You".  The idea was that at my birthday celebration my guests could leave birthday wishes for me!

I took a break from my cupboard purging to read through the thoughtful words of my friends and family.  The second to the last card I read, I recognized his printing, was that of my sweet, wonderful Dad.  His wish for me read, "I wish you forever happiness.  Pop ".  When I read it after the party I remembered thinking how  sweet it was.  When I read it yesterday, all I could think was, "what my Dad wanted for me, was for me to be forever happy "! This card I once thought sweet , today is a treasure, a gift of words from my Dad, his words written, by his hand.  I framed it and put it in a place where I can be reminded everyday of what he wanted for me.

As a Christian, my Father God's will for me is to be joyful.  Ideally as a Christian, an attitude of joy should, be my natural state!  I've learned that there is a big difference between being happy and being joyful.  Happiness tends to be dependent on my current circumstance, my latest reason to wine if you will.  Joy, on the other hand comes from within me and has nothing to do with my current circumstance.

I think most of us are in agreement its easy to be happy when all is going well in our lives, but how can we possibly be joyful when its not?  My big lesson in being joyful ironically came from an evening in the hospital with my Dad when we had almost lost him quite unexpectedly.  I prayed so hard for God to not take him this way, not suddenly! I spoke to God and said "We'll take it as a heads up that you want him God, and I know that You are preparing us, as well as allowing us a few more days with him".  When he made it, when God heard my prayer, my literal crying out to not take him....that is when I first experienced true from the heart joy.  Joy from God in a time I wasn't experiencing happiness.

During those days of heartbreak during and following his death, I was so joyful that God gave us those extra days and provided me the strength to get through them.  The testing of my faith in that hospital was producing spiritual growth in me.  After that  "growth spurt", I became more confident than ever that God hears my prayers and that I will endure any heartbreak that comes my way, because He will carry me through it.

Looking back on my life, that had many trials, many self induced, I now see that those very trials were challenging my faith, a faith that needed to grow and mature.  It took me a long time to get here and I'm so grateful that I at last I learned about joyfulness.

I chose to be joyful at a time of very little happiness and in that I experienced a change on my inside circumstances.  My free time was now focused on learning more of what God has for me to learn.  I don't want to miss any of what He wants for me.

So yesterday when reading my Dad's note I was reminded that both my earthly Father as well as my heavenly Father want the same for me....forever happiness which comes from the joy I am now filled with.

" These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full".
                                                                                                                                            John 15:11

Joy is available to all of us that are willing to humble ourselves and turn to God.
This is what echos from my heart today.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Time Such as This.....

Last Thursday my Son  brought my Mom over for a family dinner...It became evident by the end of the evening she was suffering and in a lot of pain caused by her sciatic nerve which is creating problems in her leg, hip and back.  She stayed with us that night and has been here since.  It was clear she was having enough difficulty getting around that she shouldn't be alone.

I'm at a place in life where I'm fully aware that, life is short. It's been two years without my Dad and it hasn't gotten any easier.  I want to make the best of this time my Mom is with me.  I want it to not only be the best for me so that I can always have these moments, but, I want it to be the best for her.  Even in the midst of the pain she is currently suffering, I want her to see that she can experience joy in the midst of it all. I want her to be proud of how I care for her, I want her to feel loved and not alone.

I try and put myself in her situation at this time.  I'm sure while suffering she misses my Dad more.  I'm sure while having difficulty doing the simplest things she is reminded she is alone in her home.  She has experienced so many changes since losing my Dad.  Not only losing her husband, she has had to leave the home they shared all those years, a home full of memories.  I think she is able to see now the memories are with you regardless of your zip code.  Yes she misses her friends, yet at the same time she has made many in her new place.

She has lost her travel partner, driver, friend and husband.  She has had to watch the family her and my Dad created go through some painful changes since he is no longer with us.  It has been tough for all of us, but we as her their children are or should be doing everything to ensure her heart is at it's happiest.  If there is a single thing that can ensure that happiness, I pray it be done by each of us, their children.

Relationships can be difficult, I'm by no means suggesting this time is easy. Situations such as this require changes to be made in one's schedule,  patience will need to be ever present, adjustments will need to be made here and there.  Very glad I have my son's and daughter in-law near by to help out in any way and a husband who is more than willing to keep my Mom safe and cared for.

My hearts desire is to fulfill the promise Bob and I made to my Dad, which is to make sure Mom is always taken care of.  My hearts desire, my prayer is that I asses the heart in this situation, that it all be done in love. It's so important to me that my Dad is proud of how his family is handling life without him, that we are caring for my Mom as promised. For him to look down and see nothing that would sadden or disappoint.

My prayer is for this time to be as stress free as possible, to make each and every moment count, in a time such as this.  This is what echos from my heart today......

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wrapping Up the 2010 Road Trip....

I slacked off on blogging towards the end of our trip.  I chose instead to spend every waking moment enjoying my time with our great friends Scott and Tammy, knowing those moments would be mentally recorded for a future "story".

Tammy and I spent a couple days shopping (she is a bad influence...this was determined as fact).  We shared so many laughs and along the way realized more than ever how much alike we are.  The fact that possibly having to ship home some of my purchases just about came to be, however the memories made were greater than the sardine packed vehicle when we left!

To wrap up our time with them we all took a trip about three hours up the road to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Are you ready....we went through the Eisenhower Tunnel at last!

Scott had earned points for his Marriott stays and graciously shared them with us.  They shared with us at dinner that they would be staying Saturday night as well and that they also got us a room for Sunday night!  The 6 week old Marriott was really beautiful and our room was on the third floor with an awesome view.

Once checked in to our rooms we headed to downtown Glenwood Springs for, well a little more shopping.  If I bought really small items they could be squeezed in to a gap here and there. As we entered town I spotted a "Saloon" called Doc Holliday's Tavern.

I knew I had to get some photos of the signage out front and I knew we would have to check out this establishment.  My youngest sister Donna's husband Ralph Holiday was often called Doc Holiday by many.  I loved my brother in law so much as a person and the fact he made my sister so happy.  I was blessed to have known him as he was one of a kind.  I was with him along with my sister and a few other family members when he took his last breath.  I wanted to share this with my sister....and somehow taking note of it and yep, having a few beers inside in honor of my friend  Doc (Ralph) felt right!

We spent a couple hours there laughing and talking about our time thus far spent together. Bob and I bought T-shirts.....for proof we were really there..... We eventually headed back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.  Dinner was at the very popular Juicy Lucy's, a steak house.  The meal was incredibly good, the wine was perfect and the company excellent!

We left Juicy Lucy's feeling full and happy.....we might as well see what Doc Holliday's Tavern looks like at night right?

We found a booth and continued the evening totally enjoying ourselves until late into the night, back in our cab for the ride back to our Marriott.

The next morning we all awoke wondering how we ever stayed up so late all those years ago?  We were used to 10:00 bedtimes....four exhausted adults managed to make it out to breakfast.  It was our last couple of hours with Tami and Scott.  Again with the laughs and talk of getting together real soon.
We said our good byes which are not easy with these two people that we love so much.....we so miss being neighbors!

Bob and I now a twosome for the first time in almost a month headed to the spa.  First stop was down to the vapor caves, and I do mean caves.  Dark and hot, a natural giant stay down there in the dark was approximately 15 minutes, that maybe an exaggeration, but it felt like longer!

From there we had a 30 minute private mineral bath complete with candle light and music. At our 30 minute limit we were led to our 80 minute full body massage(s).  Needless to say, I found myself falling asleep several times...when I inquired I was advised this was fairly typical.  Couldn't have had anything to do with our previous nights late bedtime......

From our massage we parted ways.  Bob returned down to the vapor caves, I up two flights of stairs to my very first facial.  Nothing quite like it, I could get used to this!  Again a few times startled myself awake, again told it was fairly normal....  :-) I'm going with that..

We left the spa feeling great.....but knew it was going to be an early night.  In the morning we would continue our drive to St. George Utah.  When in St. George we stay at La Quinta Inn and Suites...very nice rooms indeed.  We had a pizza delivered and called it a night.

Excited to know as we left St. George the following morning, we were close to home.  We planned on stopping by our daughter Jackie's to spend some much needed time with her and her husband and the grandkids!!!
We brought little souvenirs for each (the shopping wasn't all for me)...and took some photos.

For Gavin we brought, brown bear slippers from West Yellowstone.  These aren't just your average bear slipper.  A little push of a tab on the slipper and you hear the sound of a BIG brown bear!

Our little Aubrie now sports some frog slippers, and yes, they too have a tab to push which allows ribiting (sp) to be heard as she hops around the house :-)

Our big girl Julia we brought a little silver necklace with a heart attached.  I saw this little heart necklace and thought...she was the first Grandchild and she indeed caused my heart to overflow at first sight.
It seemed just right at the time....then I had brief concern she may be disappointed that she too didn't receive some little slippers that made a noise.

When she opened the jewelry box and saw her necklace, her eyes lit up, opened wide and said "Oh, Grandma I love it!" Uggh....there went my heart again....she is indeed growing up.....

So, four hours later we said our good byes to our much loved CA Grandchildren;

One little brown bear........

One happy little frog giggling as she hopped right by us........

One grown up little girl.... sporting her grown up necklace, doing her homework without being asked :-)

It doesn't get any better than this when it comes to ending a month long road trip.

Dorthy said it best, "There's no place like home"........

Love those ruby slippers!

Special thanks to my driver, traveling companion, husband and best friend Bob....I love you to bits!