The acknowledgment of the moment


View of the Peninsula from the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes

 

I have learned that checking off the things on my BUCKET LIST and really actually following through, can take me waaaay out of my comfort zone. So when we started planning our little YaYa weekend, it was fun to hop on board the planning train but when we actually seemed to have to say if we were “IN” I panicked.  It is one thing, posting the more flattering pictures of ourselves and sharing only the happiest of times, on our Facebook pages than actually spending a few days with our special old friends that we have connected with. Facebook is a funny thing. It allows us to paint a picture of just the things we want to share. You share bits of your vacations and funny or uplifting things, you over share pics of  your kids and then grand kids expecting everyone else to find them just as amazing as you do. But you don’t share your mistakes and regrets and definitely not your fat pictures! Sooooo agreeing to share four full days with friends you have not seen for forty years is a bit out of my comfort zone! But to my surprise I agreed. And I am from the old school… if you commit to something, you follow through.

 

Since I lived the closest, I volunteered to drive down with my car so we wouldn’t have to rent one and I’d be the designated driver. As I picked each old friend up from the airport, we thankfully just slipped right back into a comfortable place that must have been especially preserved for this exact occasion. There is a different kind of appreciation for friendships that have out-lasted almost a half of a century. And it was funny, each friend had a special place in my heart. Especially in the re-connection  as we bonded through messages. As we shared our stories, it was different than when we were kids. As High School friends we thought we knew EVERYTHING about each other back then, but we really didn’t. It was nice to share and listen to one another’s stories of our triumphs and failures, and just all of our history that came in-between forty years.

 

 

We spent hours catching up. Each having our own stories of  joys and heartbreaks that life brings. All of us coming into our own with the wisdom of our experiences. One thing I know we kept commenting on was how privileged we were to grow up in such a beautiful place and wondering if we really appreciated it back then as much as we do now. I think we all just took living so close to the ocean for granted back then. This weekend we spent a lot of time on a memory tour. We visited each of our old houses and all the places that held special memories for us. Our parents were a big part of a lot of our memories, especially the ones no longer here. We all recognized their mistakes maybe more openly than ever before,  but could appreciate where they came from and loved them for the good they brought to our lives. Hopefully our kids will do the same for us someday, forgiving our mistakes and appreciating our efforts. For I know that I’ve made many mistakes in my lifetime, but I think this trip helped me to let go of what I cannot change. We tried to stay away from the obvious stuff, politics, religion, etc.  Funny though, we all met at church and were part of a youth group. The only thing I shared was through all of my ups and downs, mistakes and heartbreaks, I’m not sure I could have survived without my faith. I KNOW I couldn’t have.

 

 

I think what I took away from this experience was that we need to really realize when we are happy. To live in the moment. And as my daughter has taught me, to not always have to take a picture, to put your camera away and just live in the moment and embrace it.  Even if for a second.  To forget about the past or the future. To forget about the finances and the ailments, to forget about what may be or what may not be and to really just take a picture in our heart of the seconds we are feeling happy. When I went to Seattle a few months ago with my daughter  (a BIGGIE  checked off of my bucket list)  and we were all standing in our grandparent’s home. I felt it. The acknowledgment of the moment! I remember thinking… “I am standing in my grandma’s house! WITH the two people who can reeeeally understand how much it means to me. Because they made it happen! I think I knew that this last weekend was important for all of us, for so many reasons and we needed to make it happen. I remember several moments that I embraced that feeling of being happy in those seconds and really acknowledging it. And you know, we don’t need to go on a trip to find it. Sometimes it is just spending time with your kids or husband or going out to lunch with a friend or finding that perfect song on the radio and singing your heart out and really just deciding to be happy. Being older brings a wisdom of appreciation that we lack in our youth. and being okay in our own skin. I loved that we were all happily married or happily single. We loved our kids or were perfectly fine not having kids. Those of us who had grand kids really were finally into being grandmas. Whatever it was, was. And as I get older, I’m not as sad as I used to be when something is over because I had a part in making it happen and now I have the memories!

The Four YaYas at our favorite Restaurant…. The Admiral Ristys in PV

(I’m the one on the right.)

Chris Pickens, Carrier Of God’s Word


 Bible (2)

CHRIS PICKENS

His words are stored inside our hearts,

His life has been a work of art.

He’s planted seeds and grown new vines,

And he’s done God’s work all this time.

His eyes reach out and touch my soul,

his body is no longer whole,

this disease has come to take control,

to snuff the flame and take it’s toll.

But, life still lives inside of him,

the light dances, it won’t grow dim!

He still has lessons we must learn.

The fire continues still, to burn!

His mind is wise and he is there,

and hosts a heart, we’ve found so rare.

the numbers climb of those he’s touched,

the ones he’s taught, the ones he’s loved.

We can’t repay all that he’s done,

though if you are one of the ones,

and you are here now reading this,

Please reach out and help our friend Chris.

Diane Reed 2015

When I first met Chris, he had a Bible in his hands and that was always his trademark. He was and has always been the carrier of God’s word. Planting seeds and reaching out to anyone he felt led to approach. I am glad he felt led to our little store, because he changed things up in our lives as soon as he walked through the door!

I have said time and time before that I will never believe that pain and suffering and illness come from God! Or that bad things happen to punish us. I truly believe that God is not sitting up there choosing who to inflict with what. We live in a fallen world and that is just part of the deal. People suffer and die. They have financial successes and failures. Sure, some have brought on their own form of suffering through bad life or business choices or even health choices. But things like babies dying and ALS and meaningless accidents just don’t make sense and probably never will. Though I believe God allows opportunity in every instance and I have known people who have used their pain for God’s glory and Chris IS one of them!!

I will never forget sitting in a pre-marital counseling class when I was 21 with my on the fence non-believing husband to be. Our pastor at the time, Wayne Frase, shared with us something that even I never knew… that his baby son had died earlier in his own marriage. He was sharing the story to teach us that sometimes heart wrenching, life changing events that can come up in marriage, can either break it or make it stronger, and in that moment, I KNOW that a seed was planted in my soon to be first husband’s heart that would later lead to his own decision to accept Jesus as his Savior. At the time though, he was so confused at how this Godly man kept his faith, and yet very intrigued by his faith in God. Later, when my dad who we ALL loved died suddenly of a heart attack, my husband finally made the choice to believe after watching my mom’s strength through losing my dad and all the other little seeds that were planted along the way. Seeds like Chris has planted all throughout his lifetime!

I guess what I am trying to say is bad things happen to good people daily and it is how they handle them that can be used for God’s glory. And that life is not fair. And the formula has never been that bad things only happen to bad people and good things only happen to good people. If that were the case, Chris Pickens would be living on top of a hill in a mansion without infliction! But the fact is that he’s not. He is in need of our support. I have written about my friend before.  (Through Papered Windows) https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/through-the-paper-windows/

But as this horrible disease progresses, my heart was pricked to share again.

One of my best friends, Michele, (Chris’s wife) has been her husband’s caregiver now for about 70 hours a week or more. Chris is totally paralyzed. He can no longer talk and with the occasional flick of one wrist, he is totally dependent. I have never seen Michele complain and she is always smiling. She is now in desperate need of funds to be able to hire capable caregivers to take care of her loving husband and take some of the load off of her. Another friend has set up a fund-raising site for him.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/caring-for-chris/288756 

Also Michele sells Shaklee. We all use cleaning products and need vitamins along with so many other things I never knew they sold that I use everyday!! Please take a look at the millions of things that she sells (on the handy link below) and instead of going to the store,why not support Michele and become a regular customer?! (she is even offering free shipping!) It doesn’t matter where you live within the United States. Why not just decide to order everything you would have gone and bought at a store, through her? And the products truly are so much better than any you might find on the shelves AND…. reasonably priced! If we all did it, we could turn their lives around financially by just supporting their business! Please click on the site below for information there! http://www.healthysteps.myshaklee.com

Michele Pickens

LifeQuest Health

Natural Products Supplier and Nutrition Consultant
714.536.6555 Cell 805.423.2064

lifequesthealth@aol.com

Improving the lives of everyone we touch

If you know Chris and Michele, you have probably read this all the way through because they have touched your life. I remember our friendship when Chris was the one who approached us, invited us to church and embraced our family. Even when they had to move back to Southern California to be closer to family and doctors, I’d hear stories about how he’d take his little scooter to town and witness to many, many people who came to the Lord just by Chris being Chris and sharing God’s Word.

The last time I visited, Chris could no longer take those rides to town and was in a wheel chair full time, by then, but those eyes and that heart still were strong. He is in there, still believing and loving God.  If he has touched your life or if you don’t know him and his story has just touched you… Please pray for them and then if you will,  reach out to him (them) in any way that you possibly can and thank you!!!! And along with just clicking LIKE (which I always appreciate!) How about stopping a minute and looking at Michele’s Shaklee site and perhaps sharing this post on your facebook page or send the link on email to your praying friends and any other site of theirs that you think might help!

And again…

THANK YOU!!!!!

micheld and chris

Chris and Michele before ALS hit hard

I Miss You Lucy


You know that one house and that one friend’s mom that you remember from your childhood? It was the one place you always felt welcome by that one mom who was not yours. You felt special because you knew she really wanted you around and it wasn’t because you were her kid and she had to feel that way. It was your first experience of knowing your worth and feeling valued because of who you were and not because of who you belonged to. Sure, I knew my mom loved me and that mattered to me, a lot. But there is a time in your life when you feel funny and interesting and likable because you are who you are, and only because of that. And someone else enjoys you and wants you around.

I grew up in Palos Verdes California, down the street from Lucy. She was that mom in my memory and always in my heart. I was about eleven when I met her. My mom was an artist when I was growing up and Lucy was always decorating something. I am not sure what ever came of the meeting or if my mom ever painted the mural she inquired about, but I do know that her oldest daughter, Kathy and I became fast friends along with all of Lucy’s daughters. She had four. It was like I hit the Jack Pot meeting them. They all went to a local Catholic School and because they didn’t go to our public school, the neighborhood kids were small minded and slow to embrace them. Well, all I can say is… their loss was surely my gain!

I took turns being good friends with each of her daughters during different stages of my life. And then a few years later, Lucy went through a divorce and met a man named Bob, who she married, bringing two more kids into the fold. It was a wonderful family and I loved each one of them in different ways throughout my life. But Lucy ended up being my friend that I’d go visit years later. I remember staying up late at night for hours at a time talking to Lucy. I loved spending the night at their house and when they moved, I think I went into a small depression. Until, we reunited when my mom discovered a phone number that had gotten “misplaced.” That summer, I promptly moved in with them in Orange County where they’d moved and spent several weeks hanging out with Lucy as she picked out new wallpaper and tile for the 6000 foot home she was building in Fallbrook overlooking their several acres of avocados that Bob was going to manage.

The plan was for me to find a job somewhere in Fallbrook and join them. But between getting very engrossed in a serious relationship and missing my own mom a little more than I thought I would, I didn’t follow through with the final plans to move there with them. Though, I did get a job offer after I’d moved back home. And always kind of regretted not getting to live in that amazing house that my sweet Lucy built for her family and included me in that plan. Even though I never lived there, I visited several times a year for many years until I got caught up in having my own family. Slowly, the visits became less frequent. Though Lucy and  Kathy, attended my dad’s funeral and Bob and Lucy attended my second wedding, and Lucy even came to stay at my house a time or two, I regret letting life interfere with our visits and I often wonder how different my life might have been if I’d moved into that wonderful home.

A few years before Lucy died, I took my daughter to visit her and we had such a neat visit. I wanted to share a piece of Lucy with her and I really feel she “GOT” who Lucy was to me. I will always be grateful that she agreed to go and that we have that memory.

Tonight, while I was driving home, I drove past a house with a long driveway filled with cars and it reminded me of that house in Fallbrook. It always looked as if it was having a party, because of all the cars parked there. But they all just belonged to her family, each in their own rooms or in different parts of the house just living there. And it gave me this warm melancholy feeling. And it made me think. Legacy isn’t just something physical that you leave, it’s not a building or a fortune, but something intangible. Something far more valuable. It might leave a hole when it’s gone that takes your breath away, but even more, it gives you that place in your heart to fall, the one person, or place you remember when no other place works quite as well.

 

It’s been over a year since she has left this world

and yet, sometimes knowing that she’s not just a phone call away any longer,

takes my breath away.

lucy

winnie goodbye quote

 

Through The Papered Windows


paper over windows

When we were in the process of  opening up our store Rose In The Woods This nice man with kind eyes started stopping in pretty regularly just to chat. He began showing up even when there was still paper on the windows and we were still setting up. I remember him peeking in one day, he seemed so interested so I invited him in.

peeking through windows

Even though it was pretty much more of a female type store, he said he was sure his wife would love it. I remember him being one of our first customers, buying his wife some little mice figurines.

store

When he was getting his wallet out he mentioned his hands. I don’t think that at that point, that I would have ever noticed them, if he hadn’t pointed them out but he shared that he had been diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s Disease a few years earlier. He also shared how his wife Michele, was  helping to counteract it’s onset by being pro-active with her own research in nutrition and vitamins along with their strong faith in God. We began talking about where he attended church and I remember thinking that I wouldn’t mind going where he went.

micheld and chris

He told me that his name was Chris Pickens and I couldn’t explain it then, but as I look back now, I know he was planting seeds. There was just something different about him. It was as if I’d gone to church and been refreshed each time he visited. He would share a little something more about his life and his walk with God everytime we met and I was hooked without even realizing it.  Once my husband had been behind the counter at his desk working while I’d been talking. I knew he was trying to get a print order out but I was annoyed that he had not gotten up to meet Chris.

frustrated man behind desk

knew he’d like him.  And later told him that next time I wanted him to get up to meet him when he came in if he happened to be sitting at his desk. I also mentioned that if we ever went to church again, I wouldn’t mind going to his. Which I think perked up my husband’s interest because at that point in my life,  he was definitely more interested in finding a church than I was, because I was so busy getting the gift side of the store set up. But Chris told me that they had a great youth group at his church and since we both benefited from youth groups growing up, we wanted our daughter to experience it.

I’d met my husband at his church when a friend of mine invited me and my kids to hers when I was going through a divorce. But when we’d moved to our town where we currently lived, we just never got around to finding one. But we’d recently talked about wanting to find a good youth group for our daughter who’d just gone into Junior High. So the next time he came in, I encouraged my husband to get up and  meet Chris. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to meet him, it just had never been a good time. They hit it off right away. Just as I thought that they would! And that next Sunday, we all showed up for church and it turned out to be the one that my parents had sent my daughter and her cousin to snow camp from the year before, so she knew some people and felt right at home.

A few weeks later, we were invited to a friend’s 40th  surprise birthday party who we’d met at that church and we sat at Chris and Michele’s table and never looked back! We became fast friends. And Chris and my husband became the best of friends and so did Michele and I. They are those kind of friends that you feel you have known forever  and through them we met Art and Pam! Two more best of the best! The guys went to Promise Keepers weekends together several times over the years and served together  as leaders of the church. Until Michele and Chris moved to Southern California to be closer to family and medical facilities for Chris’s condition and Pam and Art later followed to help care for Chris, I was spoiled by being able to just pick up the phone and know that we could get together on a whim. I have a joke about the friends that I especially let into my heart… they eventually always move away! But I understand. And I am in awe of the friendship that the four of them have and that is why they are all my friends too.

art and pam

And  as I look back at our friendship and how it evolved, it amazes me… that we still question and prod God… begging Him to do this and that… not realizng that HE really DOES have it all planned out… all of these Divine appointments… if like Chris… we just listen and look through those paper windows when HE tells us to!!!!

lighthouse

 

Now I know that his life is just naturally Chris’s own mission field. He is like a lighthouse in this world. Regardless of his own storms he has always faithfully served His Lord!  Some of us may choose to go to third world countries, some may do it from the pulpit and some may do it one seed at a time…touching lives as we go! That goes for all four of my friends that I mentioned here! They have all been on their own mission fields! I love you guys and MISS YOU!

jim art and chris

Good Friends!!!!! (Because one listening heart kept peeking through those papered windows!)

 wizard of oz heart quote

*SIDE NOTE:

Please pray for my friends… for Chris and his healing for Michele and her strength and for Pam and Art as they support Chris and Michele and now for Pam as she has recently learned that cancer has returned yet again. We know God is a God of miracles and that He has answered our prayers before! Please join us as we pray for this wonderful couple. I am a firm believer in this verse:

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:18-20 RSV)

Thank you!