The Proverbial Bottom – “Just believe”


There comes a time in everyone’s life where we each have a day of reckoning. Much more than an “AHA” moment, more like a series of lessons that all come together at once. Similar to those mountain top highs that we experience at a High School youth camp when we are touched by a certain speaker’s message or just the praise songs sung around a campfire. Promising to God and ourselves the magnificent change we are about to make, really believing that we can make those changes…. That is, until we come down off of that mountain to face the real world. And are hit by “life.” When we are younger, it may be peer pressure, school, home life, whatever pushes our buttons that help us fail at being that person we really want to be. And yet as adults with decades behind us, we have a clearer picture and are more aware of our daily mistakes. Though we try to live right, have faith, be patient and kind, love our neighbors, our family, even our enemies until something happens that tests that faith and we  hit that bend in the road or the proverbial bottom of where we end up in a crisis, when we feel as if we have failed.

The older we get, more “stuff” gets in the way. And we feel more of an urgency to take account of our lives. But in a more surface matters of the heart kind of way. Believing that it is genuine but still becoming easily discouraged or offended. And not remembering that down on your knees kind of faith. Until that is, we start losing loved ones, or dealing with health issues, or financial crisis, relationship issues,  or whatever will send you to that proverbial “bottom” of where we hit when we feel helpless…. It is only then when we stop and take a good look at everything in a way that we haven’t for a while, maybe even not since that High School Camp experience.

I’ve had several crisis in my life. And have tried to renew my faith each time. But looking back, in a very primary kind of way. Though I genuinely meant it each time and was going through a kind of information gathering process. I don’t really believe that I understood this thing we call faith as much as I feel I do now. (And am still learning about it.) Through deaths and divorce, illnesses, financial stuff and getting on my knees kind of catostrophes. Everytime, making promises and praying for answers and receiving those answers but not continuing that walk of faith in the good times as well. NOW, realizing that even as I failed to follow through, I needed to go through those times of not following through, to land where I am now and to know that I need to keep getting down on my knees,  going in my prayer closet and giving it all to HIM daily. Not just when I need something but also to thank Him for His answers.

Recently a friend of my husband’s died and at the Memorial they gave away a book called Proof of Heaven, written by Eben Alexander M.D.  a Scientist and Brain Surgeon who got sick, and had a near death experience that he didn’t believe in as a Scientist and Surgeon beforehand. I highly recommend the book!  The one thing that really poked my heart was where he shared the (3) feelings of heaven that impacted him most… He said that he felt this overwhelming feeling of… (1) Love, (2) no fear, and (3) that he could do no wrong. The last one hit me the most and I was overcome by something inside of me that is so hard to explain. The realization that everything the Bible teaches us is about forgiveness and non judgement hit me with such a powerful impact it made me cry. I never really truly understood just how much I have felt like a failure in my life. To feel as if I could do no wrong would simply be heaven for me.

I believe that when we hit bottom, we are supposed to learn from those times. To rise up stronger than before. God has put people in my life with examples of strength that humble me. And make me count my blessings. To think that I don’t have it “so bad” and yet I wonder, why are they so strong as they continue to be a servant without complaining? And somehow I think that as I go through each trial, I am just beginning to learn how to fall on my knees, on my face and just believe. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Why haven’t I gotten that yet? Though mountain top highs are great memories of times when we felt as if we could almost touch the hem of our Lord, there is something about reaching a point in our life where we have to stop snatching back those prayers we  lay at HIS feet, and truly get down on our face where we are closer to the hem and just humbly believe that He is in charge and let Him be. Only then will we feel what it truly feels to be free.

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, “for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor fasake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight Proverbs 3:5-6

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Readjusting Our Gratefulness


 

I can still get up from a chair without using my hands. But if I am sitting on the ground, forget it! I have to practically get on all fours to get up. And it’s not attractive! Okay, now a lot of you sitting in a chair, just tried to get up without using your hands didn’t you? I’m blessed to be able to. I don’t take it for granted. Especially as the years catch up with me.

The older we get, or at least the older I get, the aha moments seem to hit like darts. Little realizations that would have been handy to “know” a few decades ealier. Perhaps why they refer to the wise “old” owl rather than the wise young owl and so on. Unfortunately, with age and the beginning of loss, also comes losing loved ones, friends, family and mentors that have taught us all that wise stuff.

I am sitting here, early in the morning of the last day of a trip to Oregon. The visit that brought us here was for a Memorial for my husband’s sweet aunt. Recently, we’d bonded more with his aunt and uncle in the last couple of years and I’d gotten to know Carol in a different kind of way than just a part of my husband’s family in another state. They’d moved near us for a couple of years until health issues brought them back to Oregon. But during the time I’ve been part of this family that linked us, and all the stories my mother in law shared with me, the link that bonded us was writing. Carol was a talented writer and it connected us in a way that passions link people.

We talked a lot about attending writing seminars together. She in fact was the one who told me about the two writing magazines I still receive to this day. And the one that made me more serious about writing my book (still waiting to be tweaked and edited and tweaked some more but it’s finished because of Carol) and starting this blog. In fact, she was one of the ones who faithfully read it and usually commented. In all the other important places she has left a gaping hole for everyone else, I feel silly kind of silly saying I notice a great big hole here. But I do.

A large portion of Carol’s memorial was in the reading of excerpts from her writings. And it made me remember a time when my dad died and I scrambled, looking for anything my dad had written. I guess in a way to salvage a piece of his heart. Writing really is a little bit like a glimpse of being able to see inside someone’s soul. Whether just a note that someone wrote, or a blog or a book or a collection of poetry found in a tucked away journal. Though, I kind of cringe at  the thought of anybody reading  my journals.  I’m not sure I’d want ANYBODY to read a few of those

I guess like in life, you can’t help but wonder, or at least it made me wonder as I sat there remembering Carol,  what kind of memories  and stories would I leave behind? Like me, Carol’s life wasn’t always without pain or good and bad choices that effected her children and their memories, but as I stood a little as an observer and on the outside of all the history that came before I knew Carol, and watched everyone come together in honor of this amazing woman, I had no doubt that her love rose above it all. There was no doubt that she loved and touched every life that was there that day.

I know that I made some pretty significant friendships and reconnected with some others and it made me realize that life is this amazing journey. And it really is all about love and making an effort to make a difference. So someday when we are gone our life will make our loved ones reflect and heal old wounds and reconnect in important ways.

I wonder, why does it take us so long to slow us down enough to realize how important some things are, and how unimportant others are? Perhaps, why He has alloted our bodies a certain amount of time to move fast and then slow us down to GET the things we missed along the way? The other day, I watched my granddaughter jump up from down on the ground when I called her, not using her hands to get up, and I thought… I remember when I could get up not using my hands, when life was still so unlived, and my body still almost brand new and how I probably didn’t even appreciate being able to do that when I could.  And how the older we get, we learn to really recognize the little blessings we missed along the way. And sometimes  we readjust our gratefulness and it sticks.

“It’s Okay Sir, There’s No One In That Car”


eq

Anyone who has followed my blog knows this story… but sometimes I just need to remind myself of all my blessings. So please bear with me as I remember.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, having recently been laid off, but still trying to finish out my “time” when it dawned on me what anniversary it was, and how thirteen years ago today, I was bustling around our little store, turning on the Christmas music and the fireplace. Making hot apple cider and setting out cookies.

My daughter and I had just pulled up in front of our little gift store, Rose In The Woods, to “open” as we waited for our employee Caroline to relieve  us long enough to go Christmas shopping.

All month long I’d hear our customers say… “This is my last gift I have to buy!” and I’d panic, because I hadn’t bought anything yet, besides the gold watch I’d ordered for my husband and just picked up from Pan Jewelers, a local merchant in our building , a few days earlier.

As we pulled up, my daughter Brooke asked to wait in the car but I coaxed her into helping me open, promising that with her help, we’d get out of there sooner to go shop! Just as the Fed Ex guy showed up with a back order of quilts, Caroline, our employee walked in the door as Brooke implored,”No mom pleeease don’t open that box!”  knowing that normally, I took the time to open each quilt and hang them on a fat dowel to display. I decided to compromise saying that she could just price them in their zippered plastic packages and was about to find a basket to put them in when the phone rang and my husband was calling from across the street where he’d recently moved his printing business in order for us both to have more room. Asking if Brooke could run over and  pick up a mug for a customer who was scheduled to pick it up that morning.

We both rolled our eyes as if to say “we are never going to get out of here” as Brooke ran across the street. And another customer walked in. I’d just found a basket for the quilts when we heard a loud bang and all of a sudden our painted wooden floor began to buckle and roll as the room began to shake for what seemed like several minutes. I can’t say why, but I directed everybody to get in the back of the store and as they did, the roof caved in, right where my baby would have been placing that basket filled with quilts.

Not knowing, that when our roof caved in, it had also slid off of the building onto the cars below, including our car that Brooke had asked to wait in! I ran outside to find my baby still holding the mug, crying in her Dad’s arms as they surveyed the crunched building that used to hold Rose In The Woods. Not yet knowing about the two women killed right next door, I ran to them. As we stood huddled in the middle of Park Street that day, we watched as heroes began pulling the bricks from things.  I  suddenly noticed as they started removing bricks from my car. So I ran over, and choking back a sob I tapped on the shoulder of one of the firefighters and said…”It’s okay sir, there’s no one in that car.”

Filling That Space


Brooke's engagement ring

Something happened the other day that made me really slow down and remember God is in charge in a much bigger way. My daughter lost her engagement ring. All moms hate those calls when that usually bubbly voice is overcome with sadness. In all of the phone calls like that, since she has walked out of our front door into the world she is creating, we have been blessed that more than not have just been fender bender or parking ticket or friendship blip calls and nothing more. But listening to the pain in my baby’s voice and not being able to fix it is devastating. I’ve said before, that a mother’s happiness depends on the heart of her unhappiest child and so since I heard the news, I have woken up every morning praying that she will find it. Though it didn’t cost thousands of dollars, I know that Chase saved up for it and that because he picked it out especially with Brooke in mind….

Brooke and Chase Engaged

She loved it more than any other ring in the world. When she told him she lost it, of course he was sweet and felt bad for her, but showed his true colors by saying all the right things that reminded me of another story, years earlier…

My sweet little niece Adrienne hadn’t had the best examples of loving relationships while growing up. I remember telling her… “Someday, you can make your own life into all the things you missed out on when you were growing up.” And she did. Going out into the world, she dated a bit, but when she found Vance, it was different. He put her first. I am sure she already was in love by the time the accident happened, but I remember her telling me that when she crashed his brand new car on the freeway and called him crying and all he asked was “Are you okay?!” She said at that moment she knew that he was “the one.”

When my first mother in law (her grandma) died, Brookie and I met them for the funeral. We went out to get coffee before the service and though now, I can’t remember the exact story… it went something like this… Adrienne was so happy with the coffee in all her sadness and Vance smiled and said something about how cute she was. It was a silly little conversation, but Brooke saw something in that exchange that  touched her so much that later she told me that she was going to find “a Vance.”

Later, when she grew up a little more and began dating, no guy ever measured up to the love she remembered witnessing all those years earlier. She almost lost faith that there may only be just one Vance out there, until she met Chase. So many small little stories through-out their six years together have all added up to  Chase earning the space she saved so many years ago while watching her cousin’s sweet relationship. She’d been a flower girl in their wedding and felt their love was magic. So years later, she had her template.

Adrienne at the beach

Today, in all of my pain for her in her loss, I know whether the ring is found or not, Chase already said all the right things, just like Vance did.

brooke and chase1brooke and chase4

He loves my baby with the same respect and devotion that Vance loves my sweet niece. And oh yeah as far as happy endings… My sweet niece has created a wonderful little family with God blessing her with the most beautiful children and sweet life. I am sure they’ve had their ups and downs, but it made me realize God answers the bigger prayers.

Adrienne's Family

I pray that Brookie finds her ring, God found her a perfect love. He found her exactly what she asked for. God is definitely a God of answered prayers and he answers in detail!

(Please pray my baby finds her ring!)

What Is A Soul Mate?


quote about looking for the answer in your questions

When I was younger I remember asking: “What is a soul mate?” Back then, I had it all twisted. I used to be able to tell you more of what it wasn’t than what it was… but slowly in the last couple of years I think that I have learned a little more and for me, it is not someone who comes bursting onto the homefront and whisks you off on some wild carpet ride that is sure to eventually lose the wind beneath the seat that carries you…  A soul mate is someone whose soul doesn’t knock into yours but bumps lightly and sticks.

Sophie

It is buying a bike for our granddaughter.

Sophie 2

AND a helmet!

Buying a sensible car when he really wants a TRUCK! It is driving for four hours to see a one hour children’s play that our daughter is in. It is going to all the counseling sessions at school when our niece needed her Uncle Jim. It is charging our son’s tires and brakes when we couldn’t afford it to make sure that he and our grandkids were safe. And for always stepping up. It is taking my car and putting gas in it and getting it washed and serviced. It is for knowing all the computer stuff and getting up in the middle of the night to fix something for me when I am in the middle of a project. It is for being the kind of son that  is an example to our kids when I fall so short of my own example.

hand from heaven

And it is for loving me inspite of me, for being the hand that reaches down and pulls me up out of my hole. For making me go to church and have friends and keep going even when I am in one of my funks where I don’t even want to get dressed let alone go out. He is the one who shows up everytime and really gets me even when I don’t have a clue of who I am. He is the one who has forgiven me for things I might not have forgiven him for… And how romantic is that? To be loved so unconditionally? How lucky  blessed am I? I used to wonder if it was possible to fall in love twice in one lifetime with the same person. Today my question has been answered a thousand times over, maybe not in the way that I’d originally asked it but now  I know it is very possible.  I used to not know what a soul mate was, until I found mine. Having a soul mate, well… It is feeling connected at the soul and still feeling how we felt in the very beginning.

hug and kissing

The One In The Mirror


This one’s for you Natalie!! Thank you!!! I deleted this one and wasn’t going to post it because it seems as if all of my posts seem to be about some aha moment where I am pulling myself out of a bad attitude… but your sweet note made me rethink it! So as I said, pulling this one out of the trash, AND… THIS one’s for you my friend! 🙂

———————————————————————-

Sometimes it feels as if I have been sucker punched when I look into  the mirror lately. It’s not because I’m not that tanned sized five young girl any longer. It’s much more than that. I could handle that, if that’s all that it was. It is feeling like a failure. As if I have failed me. I feel like a stranger is staring back at me. She looks so tired and worn out and as if there is something missing in her eyes. And it makes me wonder. Where did I go?

I don’t want to see that tired sad older woman staring back at me. And wonder, did I fail her? Did I make the wrong choices? I have so much to be grateful for. Sure, life didn’t really go as I’d planned. But I do have many blessings. I have two great kids and an amazing husband. I have wonderful friends and a loving family. I have fallen in love a few times and had my heart-broken a few more. I’ve had losses and a few bumps along the way but for the most part, life has been good. God has blessed me. So why am I so sad so much of the time? Is it that I feel time is running out? Or that life is creeping up on me too fast and I haven’t done everything that I’ve wanted to? Or even more than a bucket list, accomplished things where I feel I’ve made a difference because you have known me.

standing at window

The other day I was thinking about everything and how I really should be happy. God has answered so many prayers. Sure life isn’t perfect. But I am blessed! I’ve talked about life being this empty book and everyday… you write a new page..

diary gram's But what happens when all the pages are written on????

journal

You get a NEW book

The good thing about living a long time is learning things along the way. We have a lot more to draw from as we go. And if I have learned one thing, it is that life is not over till God decides it is! I realized that I need to start participating in it to find that girl in the mirror that once was there! I know she’s in there somewhere on the other side just waiting to be rediscovered!

mirror middle aged woman

The other day, a man with very sad eyes came to book a room at our event center on the day that it already was booked. My heart broke for him. It was for a Memorial for his wife.  He looked so sad. He shared that it had been very sudden. The things about memorials, is you rarely have a lot of notice. I decided that I was going to make it happen! Though we’d never had such a quick turn over of events in one day, I made the executive decision! And I felt alive knowing that I could do something, no matter how small to help him in his time of grief.

It was a good reminder for me, that life isn’t always a choice. But I can choose to live it while I have the opportunity to do so! He was so grateful when I called to tell him that we would work it out. And it made me happy to feel that I had a tiny bit of power to help. And I have no doubt that  this man was put in my path as a reminder. That I do have the power to choose to live life and live it more abundantly or not. It is my choice. Funny, as I passed the mirror again, I glanced at it  this time, and I  recognized a familiar reflection, someone with life in her eyes, the one living it again!

Deuteronomy 31:8The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

hand from heaven

James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

Embracing The Moment


winnie the pooh in the honey hive

“Though honey is a very good thing.” Said Pooh, “There is that moment right before you taste the honey, that is almost as good as when you do.”

I have always loved Pooh in all of his wisdom but if I were to choose just one of his amazing quotes, I think that the one above, resonates with me most. Because “I” am famous for looking back in regret and not embracing the moment. Last year when I was still working at my old job, a bride was getting married on our property. She was radiant, waiting for her maids in waiting. At first she was very sweet and happy waiting alone. But as they continued to make her wait, she quickly turned from a Princess to a Bridezilla at a fast rate of zero to sixty!

As others listened to her rant and rave and really carry on, (along with a few cuss words that Princesses should NOT know) I quietly took her aside and read her the quote I had on a necklace in my shop… “Listen to this” I said, “Though honey is a very good thing, that moment right before you taste the honey is almost as good as when you do.” She looked at me blinking back tears, as I placed the necklace in her hands and said, “this is your moment right before you get to taste the honey!” It was kind of like a little miracle as I watched and saw her expression change the minute it registered. Her face lit up and I knew she understood. Then she instantly snapped out of it and turned back into a beautiful Princess rushing out the door with her bridal party in tow (that in reality, actually only made her wait for all of five minutes.) “How did you do that?” A coworker asked, and I just smiled. “Magic” I winked.

How many times have you missed the moments that God custom made for you? Not just in changing your own attitude but in helping someone else change theirs?

Carpe Diem.

You Is smart, you is kind and you is important


turquoise mixer

When I was a little girl my mom would sit me on the counter and let me bake with her, she would give me a cup of flour or sugar and let me carefully add it to the bowl. Sometimes, she’d give me my own bowl and let me concoct my own mixture. Of course it was never edible, but those are some of my favorite memories. Growing older is kind of like that. When you are younger, you don’t know how to read the recipes and so the outcome may not be the cake that rises correctly like your mom’s. But as years go by, you learn and by trial and error you hopefully (for your family’s sake) learn how to make a decent finished product.

When I helped to re-open a restaurant that we tried to salvage several years ago, I was training some kids working for us. The order was a hamburger and a hotdog. The young man working, put the hamburger and the hotdog on the grill to cook at the same time. I asked him, “What do you think is wrong with this picture?” He stared at the grill and couldn’t figure it out. So I said, “Think about the end result.” I could see the light bulb go off in his head and he answered. “Oh, the hotdog will finish first and will get cold before the hamburger is done.” Ding ding A+! It was not only a learning moment for him, but it made me realize that it is rewarding to help someone learn and see the light in their eyes when they figure it out.

a+++

Several months ago, I had a good friend at work approach me to complain about one of her co-workers who was brand spanking new. Not only was she young enough to be her own kid, she was fresh out of massage school. My friend had been out of school and doing AMAZING massages for well over a decade. I tried to share with her my hotdog hamburger story and she didn’t get it. So then I said, “think of it like this, You and I can serve Thanksgiving dinner to a large group of people, and by now, hopefully we have for the most part, figured out how to serve everything hot.” She nodded and I continued, “Soooo think of this girl, as if you are helping to teach her to serve her first Thanksgiving dinner, and take her under your wing and teach her how to serve it the same way you do.” I didn’t see the light in her eyes or that she fully understood me, but she graciously told me she’d try.

family dinner

A few weeks later, my friend and that young girl stood with me as they waited for their next clients. And in front of my friend, that young girl gushed about how she (my friend who’d complained weeks earlier about this girl) was the most helpful teacher and how much she loved working with her! Later, I got a text from my friend saying: “I love your Thanksgiving Dinner scenario!”

ducks

My point is, that we need to realize where everyone is coming from. If someone needs mentoring, instead of gossiping and complaining about them, why not metaphorically speaking, teach them to throw the best dinner party ever? No one was perfect at their first job. Someone had to teach you. I’d rather be remembered as the one who taught many rather than discouraged even one.

SONY DSC

I know that after ten years of working at the same place, and now after recently changing jobs, I’ve had to learn new things and am so grateful for my recent teachers and the ones along the way. But I am also learning that age is not such a bad thing, because we gather knowledge along the way and carry it with us as we go. Hopefully causing us to be better leaders and have compassion just remembering how we felt when we were younger. To not make someone feel bad about themselves but to help give them wings for their next step up. For how much better would it be to know you are remembered as a teacher rather than a bully? To remind those that they are smart and kind and important, a message that starts by letting someone add a cup of flour and then a cup of sugar, and slowly bake their own cakes someday.

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

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!