Happy Birthday Old friend, I miss you


Life is so short, and the older you get, you realize that it really does fly by. Five years ago today the father of my children died on his birthday. It was the year my daughter left for school. It was the year of so many beginnings and endings all jumbled into one. It marks a reminder for me just how short life is and yet for me it is but a blink of an eye.

All the emotions are so raw right now. I can close my eyes and be back to the day we first met and then fast forward to today. Babies have been born, lives have been lived with so much joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, ceremonies and celebrations, mistakes and forgiveness all sandwiched inbetween then and now.

For one thing our divorce!

And more importantly my wedding to my husband now. Almost twenty years ago. I am married to a wonderful man I now call my husband. And yet the guilt of our divorce has always been that one door I always left just slightly opened, marring the present.  Even though we became friends later in the years that followed, I never took those first vows lightly or forgave myself my own mistake. But in life, there really is no such things as do overs. Just grace to move on. And today, I think it is finally time. I need to finally let go and love the life and the ones still here.

Happy Birthday my love and old friend, Perhaps today I can finally say goodbye or maybe… just ….”until we meet again.”

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Missing pieces


Like pieces of a puzzle

mixed in with all the rest~

It’s finding all the ones that fit,

that is the biggest test.

The pieces that are missing

have left  spaces we can’t fill~

working around the missing ones,

we keep playing, just until….

God comes in to change the game,

as we stop to step aside~

He shows us that our picture

was always on the other side!

By

Diane Reed

Back Spacing


How much honesty can anyone truly handle? I mean, when you ask someone if something makes you look fat, do you really expect the truth or really want it from a spouse, bff, family member or just a stranger in the next dressing room? The question is, do we really want to know? Well, if I ask. I really do. The problem is, when I don’t ask or when others don’t ask. Sometimes our familiarity truly does breed a bit of contempt.

I know that sometimes, I offer my kids unsolicited advice.  And I am really beginning to try to back off lately. I am not breaking down any doors to give it anymore. Recently I have been in a state of what I might define as “observation Mode” I have seen myself in the proverbial reflection of my disdain and can’t stand it. I can tap out a text of what I may feel is a profound revelation in two minutes and push SEND and then re-read it and think WHO exactly do I think I am?! Somehow, the brilliance of my profound thought is totally lost in it’s unedited version. I have spent a lot of time deleting entire threads full of my own opinions,  that I am not especially proud of. Unfortunately, we can’t always back pedal and delete the memory of the words once they are out there. How nice it would be if we could back-space certain conversations we’ve had. Ya know?

At other times I truly feel that the truth needs to be said and when I don’t say it, I feel as if I have missed some pretty obvious and important opportunities by remaining silent. I’m sure that we all can relate to those conversations that we re-play in our heads as we are lying there on the edge of falling asleep,  long after they have happened and we SO want to insert paragraphs we imagine saying after the opportunity has presented it’s self.

I absolutely kick myself sometimes for not saying things that just needed to be said and so sometimes, even if it comes off as a little abrupt, you had better watch out because I am going to say it, no holding back! Sometimes things just need to be said and put out there for the receiving one to ponder! For too long  I have allowed some things to go unsaid and now at this stage of my life,  I refuse to just sit there and not say anything anymore. And then at other times, you just have to choose your battles and what hill you truly want to die on, and decide if the fight is worth it.

But when all is “said and done” or as the case may be not “said” writing is my way of getting to walk through the rooms of my thoughts and try to make sense of an argument or a conflict or just a missed opportunity to validate a genuine feeling. WORDS are the tool I use to find the missing pieces and connect the puzzle, to find the part of me that is filled with words worth trying on and then to shop for just the perfect fit.

Writing is my soft place to fall, like a whispered prayer, when I own what I write, when all the editing and tailoring is completed.  THAT is when I have reached the perfect moment where I absolutely don’t need anyone else’s opinions. I can look in the mirror of my soul and have something that I KNOW  looks good enough for me, that fits just right and doesn’t make me look too fat!

Flashing Before My Eyes… This Thing Called Life!


I watched as the bus drove away. The year before, I’d insisted that I drive my daughter each way to school. I didn’t trust the bus drivers, or that there were no seatbelts on school busses! We’d moved to the country to give her a better childhood. We lived 12 miles out of town. That meant 12 miles each way, to and from school. What was I thinking?! After the first year, of driving almost 50 miles a day. I succumbed to my daughter’s wish to take the bus. But I enjoyed that first year driving her back and forth. We visited and bonded and talked about everything you could possibly imagine.

I remember commenting on how we couldn’t see cows on our way to school where we used to live and we laughed deciding that they might look out of place on Hawthorne Blvd. On the first day of school, all those years ago,  I argued with myself as I watched her wave as the bus drove out of sight. I knew she would be okay.  She was going into the fifth grade. So funny now when I hear stories of moms putting their kindergartners on the bus, and yet I still  felt as if she was just a baby.  Or maybe I wanted to keep her one for as long as possible because I knew the day would come when she would be driving away in her own car, far, far away from her old mama. Which kind of brings me to my ramblings on this subject. Time does pass us by so fast.

That was years ago. And yes, my baby has since moved four hours away and I am happy for her. In fact, I envy her life. She is right on the edge of new and exciting things just bursting to give birth.  Her life is filled with new pages to fill in books yet to be written, new relationships to be made and dreams to come true.

I remember once when I was nine. The little neighbor boy and I were playing at the beach. Our parents were visiting nearby on the sand in a little area where they had set up camp for the day.  Suddenly a huge wave pulled us out in an area where we could not reach the ground. I remember him grabbing my hand as we struggled to swim under the wave that had overcome us. Coughing and sputtering we looked at each other, amazed we had survived. Still holding hands, we suddenly let go~

I often wonder if he remembers that event. I always will. Our moms are still in touch. I barely think of him except for that time. Funny, what our minds store, isn’t it?

Back in those days, I didn’t have a lot of life to flash before my eyes but since then when I have had those life flashing before me moments, my mind always touches on those few seconds in my life when I knew I was in deep trouble, drowning with the boy across the street, my little friend who grabbed my hand and held on to me for dear life. I have felt that feeling lately. It reminds me of that bus driving away, my life flashing before my eyes, feeling the distance growing as I watched  it drive away with my baby in it, on that day so many years ago. I remember that memory of the near drowning flash through my mind as I was rushing around pregnant, trying to find my son the day he went to the wrong gate. And I remember it when my dad died, when my first husband died. It is something that I can’t make happen, it just does. Like one of those little books you flip through and it animates the drawings. And today I feel the pain of letting go of the past, of trying to grasp the future and hanging on for dear life, as if watching my life flash before my eyes.

Last night we were driving home from a church event, when a car flipped over and down a hill right in front of us. It all happened  in a split second. We live out in the country so it is pitch black except for the head lights. My husband swerved over to avoid the  car that had been in front of us as we all pulled over and stood frozen. My husband called 911 and  said “Someone has got to be dead down there” when in our amazement, we watched a young kid climb up the hill with only a cut on his hand.

I have felt like that in my life, all the way back as far as that drowning experience.   God has been there through all the moments. And last night was just another example. The way it happened, we all could have been killed.  Funny but it happened so fast.. I prayed a quick prayer and somehow I almost expected that kid to pop out of the dark and be okay. And if you follow my ramblings and read my blog… you know what I am talking about as I touch on a few more stories and blessings I have lived through as I think of them all in slow motion, unlike the flash before your eyes moments but blessings that I count daily.

I expected my family to not have been hurt by the earthquake. And I expected my best friend to survive her latest bout with stage four cancer. God is so good. But what about the times, when our prayers aren’t always answered the way we want them to be? Maybe in God’s infinite wisdom, He knows more than we do? Sometimes He answers our prayers the exact way we would like.  And at other times,  Well, I knew my dad was dead before we were officially told, I knew my first husband was going to die when he told me he was sick and somehow I knew he was going to go quick  and it would be on his birthday. Strange and yet, comforting to know that there is so much more to God we can tap into if we really go there. Sometimes I get a quick glimpse of understanding God is controlling things more than I ever imagine. And I could actually be more involved in it all. And then I get in the way and forget to get involved. Kind of like my life. I have been so stuck lately. On my own little island in my own little life.

God is a mystery. Our life is short. Some of us are done sooner than others with what we are given. Some of have longer lessons, some have more to learn, and others have more to teach. I have felt that drowning feeling lately, the life flashing before my eyes, kind of kick me in the butt kind of reminder and I am not going to waste it. Life is flashing before our eyes every single day. I am going to slow down the pages and jump back in the story and stop being stuck somewhere in the middle. I need to reboot and keep moving on.

I know now that I am going to write.

I am going to open up my own empty book and begin a new chapter. I will not waste the life that  God spared in that wave so many years ago. I am going to begin to fill new pages and live this thing called life again!

The Wrong Gate!


Just another empty nest story….

My heart goes out to Mamas this time of year. It’s that notorious time of letting go… For some, it is an exciting time of new beginnings. For others, it is a time of dread. I know both too well. The one place I feel like a true expert. Once upon a time, I left both my babies their first day of school. My son was a little different because I worked when he was a baby so the sting of leaving him on his first day of school was a bit muted after leaving him with sitters and at Day Care but I do have a few stories that were memory makers.

Though I loved him dearly, my first husband was a little selfish and careless when it came to parenting. Funny, because when I first met him, I watched him with his little niece and he obviously loved her very much. As I watched him color with her and listened to their  conversation and the sweet exchange,  I KNEW that I wanted him to be the father of our future children. Don’t get me wrong, he ended up being a good dad in many other ways but in his youth, and theirs, at a pretty crucial time, when I needed him to be seriously responsible, he just wasn’t. One shining example is when my son was about two, I woke up the next morning to a big mess. I had waitressed the night before while my husband babysat and I guess he had a small party with some of his regular friends over or so I thought. Obviously some other friends of his I did not know came over that night as well.

As I was cleaning the mess up from the night before, I frowned when I noticed a treasured mirror my very best friend had given me was laying on the coffee table. Puzzled,  I thought that was odd and wondered why it was there until I saw my son pick up a straw and stick it in his nose. Horrified, I realized exactly why he did that and what his innocent eyes had witnessed the previous night and my nightmare began.

I realized that my son’s own father was not going to be the one watching him ever again or at least for a very long time. I promptly went back to school to get a job so that I could work  in the day, put him in Day Care where I knew he would be well watched without coke heads partying in front of him. And even though that may have been a one time incident and little did my husband know that his own barely two year old baby  unknowingly toldl on him, I freaked out enough to realize that it was up to me to take care of my baby. So between my mom and a neighbor, I found safe child care. Sometimes a mama has to do what a mama has to do. And it is ALWAYS about putting the safety of your kids first. Period. I don’t think I even made a big deal about it. I just adjusted things and filed the information away realizing what I was dealing with.

Fast forward, a few months, I finished school, was working and had my son in what I thought was a good school when we ran into the Director of that school. I loved her. She was amazing, or so I thought until my son totally freaked out when she came up to him at a local Fair. I had no idea why, and it didn’t matter. I promptly removed him from that school and put him in a Christian School until we finally moved and I was able to stay home. By then I was pregnant with his sister and had enrolled him in the public school around the corner. He was in second grade and I walked him to school the first day.

He was already showing signs of not needing his mom by then. Though I could tell that he was a little happy that I was there. I had packed his lunch trying to imagine him eating it and thinking of me, lovingly putting in all his favorites, how funny. Now I know he wasn’t thinking of me at school while he was eating his lunch!!! As a young mom, it helped to imagine that anyway~

He had a new backpack and new clothes he could care less about but it made me feel better  knowing  his shoes were new. I prayed all the way to school that he would find a new friend and like his teacher. As soon as he saw the first glimpse of the school, he dropped my hand. Ouch. He puffed up and marched into the line of his new second grade class. Leaving me totally in the dust. Double Ouch. I smile as I think back at how I felt back then. I decided to not make it worse by trying to kiss him but I did remind him what gate to meet me at when school was out. “I KNOW mommm!” He stated as he followed his new class to their classroom.

When school got out that day, I was excited to hear about his day. I watched for him. I watched for his class. I thought I saw his teacher. But I never saw my kid. I panicked. I went to his class. It was empty. I went to the other gate. Everyone was since long gone. I finally went to the office. I was barely four months pregnant but I felt as if I was going to go into labor right there when they told me to call the police! I ran home crying, hysterical. My neighbors had their screendoor opened and I didn’t know what to do or who to call so I told my friend across the street the whole sorry story. She immediately got on the phone and cussed out the office saying “WHO tells a pregnant mother to call the police?” Then we hopped into my other neighbors car promptly drove back to the school.

So let me clarify, I had come from the arms of a private school where anyone picking up my child practically had to give their blood type before they would release him from their care, to a school that loses your children and then takes no responisbility after they have done it! I laugh now but you have no idea the feeling I had back then. I can still feel it even though it was almost 25 years ago. Well, obviously we found him. My friends and I split up and one of them came back with him in tow…. He had gone to the wrong gate! Oh my gosh. Really?!

I guess my point of sharing this story is: we all have those memory making moments… The first days of school, the first time you let go of the back of their bike without training wheels, the first time you watch them drive off with their fresh new license in hand. And then off to school or to whatever life they are heading to. The thing we have to adjust to is that no matter what the age, 7 or 17 or 32…. when they take that metaphoric hand out of ours it hurts a little. We let go in different ways throughout the years. And then we finally adjust to that empty nest. Or do we? Yes, we do. We start writing our own second chapter. We realize that we made all our dreams come true in our first chapter and become inspired to write the next and then the next, only imagining what we can do!

Like I always say, I will always see the little feathers stuck at the bottom of my nest and remember that my own little birds once filled that nest giving me a lot of joy. And know that even now, they sometimes will end up at the wrong gate. But my prayer is that there will be a lot more right gates than wrong… and that sometimes they will come home to let me hold their hand from time to time and I will understand when they need space, and pray that they will always know  that I will be okay when they let go but will always be here  with an outreached hand and a soft place to fall as needed. Because…. I’ll love you forever and forever your mommy I will always be.

Just Where I am


I’m on fire, overwhelmed by YOU

I lift up my hands and fall on my face~

You are here

in this place~

I touch your hem and feel your grace~

Oh Lord you find me

Just where I am~

Apart from the flock

The wayward lamb~

Lost in the world

Now in your hands.

Just where I am~

I was lost and yet I felt YOU there

I walked away

Thought no one cared…

I was outside looking in

You didn’t care where I’d been

The world buried me

Till you found me

And carried me

Now in your hands

Just where I am

The one you loved

Just as I am…

Our Off Ramps


The other day when I was driving out of a parking lot, I saw a homeless woman with a dog, set up for her shift, sign in hand, as I drove past her, I had my obligatory dollar to hand her. Not sure if it was the dog that got to me or the guilt of not knowing how to really help, but I was ready as I drove by. When she reached for the money, for a split second our eyes met and we connected in a way that words can’t explain. It was as if I realized in that fragile moment how blessed I was to be the one giving rather than the receiving. Because, even though my husband is out of work and working on a new business opportunity, it is not quite “there” yet, and we are praying as we get to that point of living on faith…we still have a roof over our heads and are blessed.

As I handed that dollar bill out the window as I drove past her in my newer than not car, I felt an invisible line seem to fade, a veil lift and wondered about her story. I prayed a silent prayer and hoped that she had water for the dog. It was so hot and I wished I had some water to give her.

Sure, I know, the skeptics may say she is better off than me. Giving money like that doesn’t help. But I selfishly couldn’t just drive by and she seemed to be doing pretty well because the car in front of me and behind seemed to hand her something as well. The skeptics may be right or they may just be telling themselves that to ease their own consciences. The fact is that we all aren’t too far away from being in her shoes, jobless, homeless, and overwhelmed. I know it is hard not to judge but we need to take our disdain and do something productive with it.

This morning, I saw that same woman near the off ramp of the freeway. I noticed right away because there was a squad car there with his lights on. It happened to be at a stop light, so I got more time to survey the scene and I watched the officer, a young, good looking, guy, smiling and animatedly talking to this woman with what seemed like respect and grace. They seemed to be in the midst of a friendly conversation. I am sure he was instructing her to move for safety purposes but witnessing the interaction gave me hope for her. I said a little prayer as I drove by for both of them, praying that perhaps he could help guide her to some resources and it made me think…

Sometimes we find ourselves in predicaments that feel out of control and try to take matters into our own hands. We forget to go to God for the answers or we do and don’t wait for HIM. Instead we stand at the off ramp of our life and beg. And sometimes God has to guide us in another direction because HIS way is a much better way for us in the end.

Turn On That Fan Please!


This weather is messing up my beauty sleep! Once again, I am up feeling old and worn out and so very reflective. I promised myself that I was not going to be looking backwards.. But I guess I am kind of feeling sorry for myself. I am kind of angry tonight. I am mad and so darned hot;  and I have just realized that summer is almost over and it kind of sucked big time this year. I gained back about twenty of the fifty I lost last summer and have a pretty good idea why. It is that old anticipation thing again. I have to have something to look forward to.

Like Pooh says…Although Eating Honey is a very good thing to do, there is a moment before you begin to eat it which is better than when you are.

 I need something! I mean give me something, can’t ya?! When I was little, my dad would send us to Seattle during the summer. All of our family lived there and when my dad moved us due to his job, he promised that he would send us back there every summer and he did.  I guess it spoiled me. I mean, I always had Seattle. When things went wrong, I remember thinking about Seattle and that I had that to look forward to and for some reason it made the wrong in my world a little easier to take.

I think of those times a lot during summer. Every so often, I will get a little surge of a melancholy sort of mood and remember when life was a bit simpler and picking berries in the woods, a few blocks away or walking to the Lake was as good as going to Hawaii for all I knew back then.

I remember spending hours laying out. The sun did it’s job. The tanner the better. Though we always seemed to survive that token burn. Sunscreen wasn’t even invented back then and baby oil was our tool of choice. Today the sunburns we got as kids have turned into age spots and wrinkles. I look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back. In my head, I am still that thin tan young girl turning every thirty minutes like a piece of bacon.

I always get excited when the pool opens. But I haven’t gone yet. We have only taken our boat out once this year and summer seems to be almost gone. And today, I feel old and glad that it is almost over because this heat is crazy. The air conditioning is blasting and every fan I can find is on me. Even the cat has found a cool place to land. The animals seem to be surviving. But I just feel like an old grouch.

And then I decide to get up early, I set my alarm and decide to get up before the sun has a chance to heat up. To not give in to the aches and pains and the sunburn of today.  And as I walk to our lake, I realize how blessed I am. I begin to watch people as they begin to stir. Pulling their boats to the lake or getting up for their own morning jogs and I realize that I live in a beautiful place, a place that people drive hours to get to. I begin to grasp the fact that my very own backyard is their vacation.

God has been talking to me lately. He has been gently nudging me, encouraging me to find the joy in the morning He promises and you know what? I think that I am finally beginning to understand just WHO the Holy Spirit is, He is that voice that tells me to buck up and put one foot in front of the other, to stop walking backwards and to realize that it doesn’t matter where we are, with God we can find the refreshment in The Holy Spirit as we walk into His Light daily. He is like the fan, the relief of His presence refreshes my hot and tired spirit. He is my Seattle and yet so much more, because vacations end but HE is constant, just waiting for us to board daily.

For his anger endures but for a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning                                                                                                                                      Proverbs 30:5

My Fork In The Road


There comes a time when we all reflect upon different things in our lives. We find ourselves at that proverbial fork in the road, that metaphoric mirror, the hour glass that symbolizes everything that came before and suddenly realize how quickly it all seems to have passed us by. It is that point in time when we realize that we stand at a crossroads and make ourselves take a long hard look at the choices we have made and who we are.

I have decided that I am going to stop looking back. I am going to embrace today. I can’t change any of my choices. I can’t go back and un-do anything I have done. And yet I am finally at a place in my life that I am beginning to appreciate. In all of my rubber necking and looking behind me, at where I have been, I have begun to see that today is actually not so bad.

I don’t want to wait until tomorrow when I am mourning the good old days that are today. I have spent so much time looking back that I haven’t taken the time to get to know what I do have. A wonderful husband that has looked the other way for far too long. Forgiving me for my indiscretions, patiently waiting for his turn. The man who loved me for longer than all the ones who have come before him.

I know myself far too well to realize that today, will be my tomorrow’s” good old days” someday. I don’t want to look back at today and wish for it again and realize that somehow I disregarded the whole thing because I was stuck in the past. I need to hold onto the blessing of a gift I almost missed. I feel so ashamed that I have invested so much time being distracted and mourning the past that I forgot about the present.

After reading and re-reading everything I have written, I need to add a “Part Two”, a kind of addendum, an epiphany of sorts to honor the one who has been loyal and un-budging, waiting for me to wake up and realize that today is all we’ve got! And to know the best is yet to be!

The Love Template


When I was nine, I wanted to write a novel. When I was twenty, I thought I was ready. I thought I knew it all. Now I am twice the age and I am sure I know even less than I thought I did, over three decades ago. I have always loved the concept of, what I know for sure…. Because the statement alone does not profess expertise of a certain subject, it only explores what I think I know about it as it relates to me.

Take love for instance. If I could go back and rewind my life and insert wisdom in different periods of it, how would I live it differently? What would I tell the younger version of me? Would I have listened? I wonder. How funny it would be if this older version of ourselves could pop in during different crisis in our life and tell us what to do. Would we even listen? I guess, maybe once we realized it was really ourselves, someone who had lived through the messes we got ourselves into and had the wisdom of hind sight, we might, I mean who argues with themselves? Well, cough, choke and sputter. I think I do, every day of my life. I reason with me every day. I berate myself for the insane choices I have made at times and want to ask myself; “Really?” in regard to half the dumb moves I have made over the years and very recently as well.

And yet, I wonder, what have I learned? I question myself all the time. Do I have good advice for myself, let alone anyone else? Do my mistakes and the lessons I have learned from them, hold any value in helping others not make the same mistakes? If I had to say what I really know for sure what would I say?

My advice right this minute is to be true to you. I am not sure that I can truly say that I have done that. But I know that I am working on it. I wish I knew then what I do now. My heart is full as I am filled with regrets. I wish that I would have been stronger and listened to my heart. I am angry now with the adults in my life that pushed their own agendas on me. I understand that they only wanted the best for me. I really do. And yet, it was their version of the best. I was not brave enough then to ask them….”And how is your version of the BEST working out for you?” Because from where I stood… my response would be “not great!” All I know now is listening to them was not being true to me, to what I wanted. It was not just me being young and not wanting to hear what they had to say, it was actually not always the right advice. Just that simple.  Just like today, my kids have to learn for themselves what is right for them. I can’t push my own agenda on them. What might be perfectly right for me, may not be for them. I can share my lessons and hopefully they will have less hard ones by what I share but we all need to learn by our own choices. God gave us that right. It was His idea. We get free choices. Sometimes I wish that He would just tell me what to do but in His wisdom, He gives us all a template, it is our choice how close we stay inside the lines of it.

I  guess it sounds kind of vague when I say that I wasn’t really allowed to love the people I loved, I was pushed and nudged and berated. And I stupidly listened to all the white noise, the voices that criticized me, as my heart was screaming to be heard. All of my life, I have let others tell me what to do. I never really ever relied on where my own heart led me or my gut instincts. I have felt things with my heart and then second guessed myself, asking others what they thought. Now I wonder why did I care so much what others thought, I mean really why? I can’t believe that I put so much weight on everyone else’s opinion but mine.

It started as far back as I can remember. I was told that I should forgive, I was told to look the other way. And then I was told to not forgive, to run as fast as I could, to shut doors, and move on. I fooled myself into thinking that shutting doors was empowering, and giving second chances was forgiving. I put up with things far too long in the name of forgiveness and not wanting to be called a quitter. I stayed in situations that I never should have and yet the time finally came when I was not just hurting me, I was hurting the ones I brought along in my crazy making and I had to save them.

My childhood was filled with uncertainty. I was always worried. I was in such a hurry to grow up so that I could control my own destiny. Mistake number one! Who in this world ever controls their own destiny? And if I was controlling mine, I was sure making a mess of it. And if my template was what I learned growing up, that was mistake #2.

The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. And I think that I have been trying to survive that love ever since. It was intense and new and exciting and terribly, terribly damaging. The abuse that I endured was not so much physical though there was some pushing and shoving and yeah a little more than that, but it was so much more than that. It was so emotionally challenging that I constantly felt as if I were at the bottom trying to reach the surface in order to come up for air.

Everyone had their opinions about that one and I finally succumbed. Between the abuse and people’s well meaning counsel I conceded. We were engaged by that time, so it didn’t mean just a break up, it meant relinquishing a dream we had built together. When it was over, I thought I had died. And I definitely thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain. But when I finally was able to let go, I felt what I thought was empowerment. As I look back, I realize that I was mistaken, what I thought was strength, when the pain seemed to subside, was more like just being numb to it. Now I think it was just part of my heart dying.

Next, there were a handful of guys who I dated, some I remember more than the other, but for the most part, the emotional pull was not there. Maybe I was just not going there again. Falling in love had once been all I ever wanted and now it was something my heart seemed to avoid. Love meant pain I conceded.

Until, I met the boy, a boy who rocked my world, different than all the others. He was quiet and yet, a leader among his friends. He commanded respect without demanding it. He was so different than anyone I had ever known and for some odd reason he loved me back. All his friends were blown away and told me so this boy could have any girl he wanted. Everyone thought he would be the last of the friends to marry. And yet he ended up becoming my husband.  He was tan with broad shoulders and very distinct features. He looked a lot like Michael Landon with a little John Wayne mixed in and he took my breath away for years. But it wasn’t just about looks with him. He was special. He had this wonderful heart that I got to see. He had views and opinions and yet he didn’t push them down your throat. He only offered them if you asked. He was perfect in my eyes and I was thrilled that somehow he had chosen me. He would walk into a room years after we were married and I would feel giddy. I loved him so much.

But what do they say? If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are destined to marry an alcoholic. That made me so angry when I heard that because I heard that after I had married him. This wonderful boy had one flaw, his very own pain, not to mention the little gene in his genetic makeup that caused addiction. I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in the very place I had run from. I was worrying about him coming home okay and driving drunk. I was worried about his health and safety, not to mention his job that he had worked so hard to grow in.  And I was the total textbook codependent. An enabler, trying to re-fix what had been wrong in my childhood. This time, I thought I was going to make it work. I think I tried with all my heart until I almost lost it, my heart that is. Finally I realized that I could not save him. But I could save me and I could save my kids and so I did.

Where my dad was not a raging alcoholic, my husband was. I had bitten the head off of the proverbial chocolate bunny and I was in really, really deep. There were a few times that I almost left and my mom talked me out of it. Some of my well meaning friends from church persuaded me to try, guilting me into it by reminding me about all the things I already knew about vows and loyalty and forgiveness. But this time I had my kids to think about. And it was only getting worse. I finally pulled the plug. We had tried before and he was stubborn. He was not budging and so I took my kids and walked away before it was too late. . But I always wondered if it was too late. The guilt I still carry because of my divorce is excruciating. I have read verse after verse in the Bible trying to get some relief at no avail. Intelectually, I realize that God would not have wanted me to stay in the situation that I was in and that all I need to do is put everything at the foot of the cross. I know that and have and do daily, I know, I know once is enough, but I will always second guess myself and wonder “if just perhaps,” I might have left but not been so quick to divorce, if things might have turned out differently. Like they say, hind sight is 20/20. We see things much more clearly after the fact. Yet,  in a way, I don’t. I used to be so sure that leaving was always the right answer. Abandond ship, take no prisoners, sink or swim, every man for himself. And yet with all the tools we have now days, I am not sure that not exausting all the tools is not an option before sealing the deal? It has been a thought I have wondered about since finally relenting and recently going to therapy myself. If nothing else, it has brought up a lot of questions I have begun to ask myself.

I was so in love with my husband and yet year after year, the things I had to deal with helped chip away at that love until it almost went away. I had to wonder if I had ever really been in love or if I had just loved the fantasy. My first husband was a man’s man. His friends came first. I know he loved me but he loved himself more. Years later when he was dying, he asked for me to forgive him. And now, especially after experiencing a good therapist, I have wondered if things had been different, if we had found a Therapist like I have now,  if we could have survived without divorce?

The thing is I was always so concerned about what others thought and yet was so stubborn. It was a crazy making dance I would do. Now I realize that I just wanted their support but not necesarrily their approval.  But at the time, approval seemed so huge. Now I know that it’s not what your mom or your friends or anyone else thinks. It has got to be between you and God. Even though I know I prayed and took it to God or thought I did,  I don’t really think I knew how back then. When my marriage fell apart, it was surreal, I felt as if I was in slow motion. I felt in labor again, the pain was inexplicable. The unfathomable had happened. Like the first break up, though now we owned a house and had kids together. It was so much more than a dream. It was a life, my life, dying. A nightmare except I could never go to sleep to escape.

No one ever taught me to fight. When I was growing up, I lived in this Polly Anna existence. I hardly ever saw my parents even argue and I don’t think they ever did. The handful of things I did manage to see, rocked my world and usually were related to my dad’s drinking but other than that. My mom seemed to just suck it up and take whatever my dad dished out. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was amazing but there was always this underlying piece that just didn’t fit.

I remember thinking as a young girl, I am never going to let anyone treat me like that. I am not sure why I thought that. I mean my dad really loved my mom and she adored him. There was just this perfect little world I lived in that almost teetered on the edge of abuse. Not physically, but in a much more ambiguous sense.

Now fast forward what seems like a thousand years and here I am, still struggling with another man, my wonderful husband who loves me. This time, I had learned, no alcoholics! So I did a one-eighty and found someone almost perfect. He loves the Lord, has never done drugs. He drinks a bit but I have never seen him drunk. In fact, he is always the designated driver for me! He came along when I was drowning. He was God sent, I am sure. He saved us. He loved us. Sure he has his faults but I have to wonder if they seem bigger to me because  of all the ones who came first. When is it his turn? Is my heart so numb that I forgot how to love the right way?

When I realized this it made me think. I know a woman who I prejudged. Not in the worst ways but it is something I don’t like about myself. The ones I usually don’t connect with at first, end up being lifelong friends. I know that about me and so I also know that my first knee jerk reaction toward someone isn’t always right on. After several casual conversations, we finally had a chance to really talk and I learned that she is slowly going blind. I mean at this point in my life, and considering my own weary eyesight, I guess we all are to some degree but she really is. She told me that she has chosen her profession to set herself up to be able to support herself since touch and not sight is the necessary tools she needs in her career choice. But no pun intended; this little piece of information made me see her in quite a different light.

That little ephiphanie has led me to a whole new platform, something I never considered before. Something I am very passionate about now. I think that the key is that everyone has a story. I wonder now if I had stayed with my first love and if we had gotten the necessary help, if it would have been different. I know now that he was dealing with his own childhood nightmares, much different than my own. My heart breaks for him as I have learned his story.  I wonder….what would have changed for us if someone had counseled us? An entirely differnt story might have played out for both of us. I do know that even though  it seemed like hell back in those days, I also look back now, at a lot of those days as “the good old days” and challenge anyone going through their own version of hell to not make such  hasty decisions. Because our first loves mold us in ways that never leave us. And if it is really true love, and really worth the work perhaps if you could get help, in the beginning, just perhaps you could not bring baggage to all the other places you end up that aren’t going to measure up to the good old days. And if nothing else, at least you will be satisfied that you tried. Because believe me, the baggage you bring from each relationship to the next becomes pretty heavy!

When I was struggling therapy used to be a dirty word. Oprah was not a household name and self help books told you to meet your love at the door naked, wrapped in cellophane. But when you were wondering where your husband was at 2 in the morning, that advice was about as helpful as telling me to jump off a bridge which was where I was headed when there was no one walking in the door for me to meet in celophane!

But today we have resources. We have counseling and mentors and churches that have much more to offer than they did when I was grasping at nothing but the white noise that bombarded me with the advice I didn’t ask for. In the end, hind sight is 20/20, you never know whether to really stay or go. I wish there was some life line that we could go to and really get God on the line and ask HIM what He would have us do. And in a way there is, He gives us prayer and the discernment to hear Him and yet it is a hard place to get to when you keep getting in the way of the answers. It takes patience and a listening spirit.

So what have I learned in the last three or so decades about love? I would say without a doubt that the Author of Love is God. Now that I am a parent, I understand the ultimate sacrifice of His love in giving His Son to us because He loved us so much and wanted us to SEE the Light. I mean if I know anything for sure, it is that God’s kind of love is the true template for all the others that come after;

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

What I know for sure is:

Love is patient, it puts up with a heck of a lot in it’s own name. It is kind, plain and simple, it is not mean.  Love does not want to see the other one hurt and avoids it at all costs. It is not jealous.  it is satisfied with just being loved back  It is not all puffed up and boastful, it does not brag and cares more about their loved one than themselves. They are proud of , and gives all the credit to the one receiving our love. They care more about the comfort of their loved one than themselves. Love does not lash out or belittle, it does not want to hurt back when their feelings are hurt and it is not easily offended. Love keeps no record of fights and arguments and wrongs we feel were committed against us. It remembers nothing negative. Love does not rejoice in sin or immortality. It is not malicious or violent. Love is honest and  celebrates the truth and everything about it. It protects and shelters the one they love, watching over and caring for without complaining.  Love puts aside it’s own wants and desires and puts the one they love ahead of themself. Love is loyal and true and can be trusted till the end of time because it never will fail or fall short. True love never gives up, it is forever.

And even though I am constantly working on it, and know that I will never measure up to this beautiful template of love we have been given. I am just happy that Love does not keep any record of my wrongs and the very good news is…. I can keep trying and I will because I am finally getting to know the Holy Spirit Who gives me HOPE to be better and love greater.

So I guess my advice would be to never give up. Sometimes it is not how you are loved but how you love that changes everything.

Pedestal Sitters


I am a work in progress. Though, I wish that I could say that I have” arrived” for once and for all! Sometimes I have to admit that I have asked myself, when will it be my turn to be a “pedestal sitter”? How I wish that I could be the mentor rather than always the one being mentored. But I guess we all have our places and someone has to be the  example for the works in progress to give hope to the ones still in progress. At times I have wondered if any of us really ever get there. I mean the ones who are examples, the ones who get to be the pedestal sitters. The ones we think have arrived. What are their struggles? If we really could see them the way their family sees them, would they fall off of the pedestals we put them on? What if we lived with our mentors? Our Pastors and politicians, our bosses and teachers, are they who they really seem to be? Well, the fact is, no one is perfect. Even if they tend to want to keep up appearances, facts are facts and pedestals usually always fall. And in turn the pedestal sitters are just as fragile as Humpty Dumpty.

I remember as a kid, my dad was a high profile businessman. Even when we would go to his company picnics, he seemed to command an unspoken kind of awe, whether professionally or at play, in the office or on the softball field. He was respected in ways I did not understand or appreciate as a child.

 I just saw the dad who would sit in his easy chair and drip something on his tee shirt as he ate and laugh at the “Mr. Murray” that I got to see and realize that even at a young age, I was privy to another side of my dad.

There are ghosts in my life. There I said it. I wrote and rewrote that sentence and there is no other way to say it. Some are more prevalent than others. But they are there. Like an old movie being rewound. Like a character from my past, walking around with me, whispering in my ear. No one else can see him but he is there. Always saying things that I imagine he would say. Is he my voice of reason or judgement? Is she my little child still inside of me clamoring to be set free? Perhaps he is my dad.

How I would love to have my wise old dad show up, when I needed his wisdom the most. And yet sometimes I forget that God IS there, like my dad in a way, always there, always, oh my, that is a thought I love and fear all at the same time. HE knows my every hair. Okay, that’s kind of comforting. But my every thought? That’s downright disturbing! I mean, I stub a toe or pinch a finger and a million words my mother would be horrified to know that I know, pop into my head. Not that I say out loud but they do come to mind more than I would like to admit at times when I am not at my best. And yes, my mother still remarks if she disapproves of me and I still feel a bit like a pre-teen. Do we ever stop being the child when our parents are around? No matter how old I am, I still have the urge to wait for my mom to look the other way before I salt my food.

God never turns His head. He is always there. Though I have treated Him like a vapor and placed Him in an abstract place in my heart and forget He is always watching. No lock will keep Him away and yet He doesn’t force his way in, he waits to be invited. He is the only ONE worthy of a pedestal and yet walks with the servants and finds me worthy at my worst, without a pedestal or a life free from sin. He finds me where I am and gives me a place far better than any pedestal a place of grace to rest and be restored.

For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.
Hebrews 8: 12

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7: 14

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51: 10-12

When A Friend Walks In


I have a co-worker who always says “Good bye my friend” when she or they are leaving. It has always been a very endearing comment and at times, when it has been directed towards me, I have felt very blessed. Not only because I am the receiver of such a comment but because over the years of getting to know the one who has called me “her friend”  I have also grown to know and admire and value the one giving me that title.

Recently, I have evaluated the definition of friend and have realized that if loosely used, it loses a lot of its translation. Over the years I have given many people the benefit of the doubt when calling them my friend and I am sorry to say that I really regret how loosely I have used such an esteemed name for some who were only acquaintances passing through.

A friend is someone you invest two things in, time and love. Some of my friendships have a history attached to them and I used to think that they had card Blanche in receiving a gratis of sorts in the title attached to what would ultimately give them the label of their being a friend in my life. And now I have realized that friendship is not always a “given” if just for the mere sake of being a character chronicled in my life’s story.

A couple of weeks ago, I re connected with a friend from High School. We had been inseparable once upon a time, always together, for most of the years during High School and a few after. I met many key people in my life when I was with her. One of them was a boy I was engaged to and another, my children’s father. We played off of each other. Sometimes she was the voice of reason and other times I was. She actually was more than me but you get the jest of our friendship. We had a great one. Don’t get me wrong, she is still a great person but during our last get together I realized how we are so different. And I am not sure I saw that as clearly back then as when we met that afternoon a few weeks ago.   I saw a side of her I had somehow missed for all those years. And while, I love our memories, I have to give myself permission to move on and not try to pursue a friendship that clearly has outlived it’s time. That may sound harsh but I am on a friendship journey right now and this insight into what is and what never really was, has to be a part of it.

Some people have come in and out of my life quickly and yet as the saying goes… have left footprints on my heart forever, and even in the shortest of times have gained that title as friend. As has the ones who will always have a place in my heart and yet perhaps not in my life and that is okay. There are others who we share time with, make memories with, even good ones, and  grow to love them and then something happens and we realize that it was all a lie. Maybe not all of it, But at the time, we feel like all of it! When we are suddenly hit by the disloyalty and lies that blindside us. It is so unexpected, that we find it hard to trust again. Co workers, who we spend a majority of our time with usually are the ones who we tend to trust more quickly than maybe we should. Some have proven to be diamonds in the rough who have turned into some of the greatest of friends who I am sure will last a lifetime, while others not so much.

So if I call you “Friend” I have sidestepped my past hurts and I truly believe you are who you are. The one I call FriendThey are the ones I would drive four hours to hang out with. The ones who I can share a bottle of champagne with till two in the morning as they just let me cry and talk out my latest heart break. They are the ones who have shopped with me and bought our size five skinny jeans and bikinis and also our not so skinny jeans and cover ups! They have nursed my sick kids back to health when I could not, gone and picked them up when I couldn’t and listened patiently to my writings and encouraged me to write more.

They are the ones who I cry with at the sappy parts in movies and the ones who I share history with that no one else has. They are the ones who love my kids like family and are generous with beyond generous. They will deliver care packages to a sick kid from miles away on a Sunday when I can’t get to them and they will move them as many times as it takes. They are the ones who travel seven hours to see an hour show and make them feel as if they have just walked the red carpet together!  We have spent a lifetime making memories and through it all, I have formed a wonderful friendship template because of them.  I use it to measure all my frienships with.

And even  through the bad times, the times when I have been hurt by the ones I thought were my friends, it is okay, because of the true friends I have, the great ones, the forever ones… the ones who are endlessly loyal and  help me to trust, it is because of them… that I can open my heart for the new ones yet to touch my heart and I trust one more time. Because there is something great that happens when you open up your heart just a pinch and a friend walks in!