Month: November 2015

With Arms Wide Open

One of the memories that I cherish when I think of my son, Nathan, is that when he was a child he trusted me completely.   He would stand at the edge of the pool and I would watch him try to work up enough courage to jump into the pool.  He was just a little boy and he wasn’t too sure about what would happen if he just jumped in the water.  He would look up at me with those big blue eyes and while he was trying to be brave and wanting me to be proud of him, he really just wanted me  to be waiting in the water to catch him with my arms wide open.  

On this day, I jumped in the pool and turned around and said, “Jump, Nathan!” and he did.  No hesitation.   He would blindly jump and trust that I would catch him.  I never missed, I caught him every single time.   His complete trust in me was evident because he never hesitated when it was time to jump.  In his eyes, I was strong enough to catch him.  I was there to protect him and he knew it and he could trust that I wouldn’t let him fall. 

I actually remember the day when Nathan worked up the courage to jump into the pool without me being there to catch him.  I told him how proud I was for his courage and how brave he was.  Truth is,  a little part of me is still sad because that seemingly trivial event was the beginning of his independence.  He was growing up and he no longer needed me to be there to catch him.  These days my 29-year-old son is far  too big for me to catch him anymore.   However, I still miss seeing that trust in his eyes.  I long for him to jump, knowing that I would catch him and never let him fall.

I wonder sometimes if God looks at me the same way I look at my son?  There was a time when my son needed me.  He would not jump unless I was there to catch him.   I think of my Heavenly Father with outstretched arms, lovingly drawing me, telling me to jump.  He would catch me.  He would protect me.   I lived a good portion of my life completely trusting God, knowing that He would catch me.  He would always allow me to fall into His arms and I would take comfort in that.  He never missed.   He caught me every single time.

Then one day something changed.  I got confident in my own abilities.  I no longer looked to God like I once had to catch me.   I start to gain my independence and started to think I could make it on my own courage and with my own abilities.   For a while I convinced myself that I was doing great and I didn’t need anyone or anything.

Then I fell.  I came to the clear understanding that I could not make it on my own.

God, my heavenly Father, was waiting right there with His arms wide open to catch me.  He didn’t miss.

For many reasons, we don’t always have that kind of image of God.   Maybe we think of Him as “the boss” and we tiptoe around Him, afraid to make a mistake and get fired.   Perhaps we see Him as “the big man upstairs” and we are afraid He is going to send a lightening bolt to zap us and punish us for not doing this or that.   Honestly, I think we come up with more reasons why not to fall into God’s arms than why we would.   I wonder if it makes our Father sad because all He really wants is for us to love Him and be near Him.  Most of us have spent years in fear of God instead of in love with Him.  Afraid of just about everything concerning God.  And God knows that.

Aren’t you tired of trying to make it on your own?  Trust in Him.  He is just waiting there with outstretched arms waiting for us to jump and fall into His love and protection.

He will never miss.   He is there with His arms wide open and He will catch you every single time.

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Strong in the Broken Places… A Birthday Tribute to my Mom

She loved you before she even knew you.

And from the moment you met in person, it was all over for her.  

She’s sacrificed her own possibilities for the chance that you could have, do and become more. She hurts when you hurt. She hopes when you can’t find hope. She dreams bigger dreams for you than you’ve ever dreamed for yourself.

And she’s convinced you’re worthy of it all…because you’re special… to her you always have been.

Her love is beautifully irrational.  She looks beyond your faults and flaws and sees the very best version of you. She believes that’s who you are.

If belief alone could get you there, she’d hand-deliver you to your destiny.

It’s all because of a woman we call MOM.

Today is my Mom’s birthday. It’s a special day.

Truly, a mother’s love and influence are among the most powerful things a person could ever find in this world.  If you doubt it, compare notes with someone who no longer has their Mom – or someone who never had her to begin with.

For better or worse, no one shapes our lives more than our mothers because they do it from the inside out.  We find their fingerprints on everything – from our grandest deeds to our most tucked away thoughts.

And she was always there for me – and for my brother and my sister (and for many others). Always. Ma, Mom, Mommy. She took this role very seriously and never wavered.  No matter what.

So I will do my best today to say, “Thank you, Mom. I want you to know that I know there’s no way I’d be who I am – or where I am – without you.”

I have said it before and I will say it to my dying breath…  any good quality that I show in my life is directly given to me by my mother.  I have written about her before (click here to read)  in my post called “Confessions of a Momma’s Boy”.  

Hemingway once wrote: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Hemmingway 2My mother was one of those people who healed stronger in the broken places. Despite great obstacles she bounced back repeatedly: an extremely difficult childhood, choices she shouldn’t have had to make at such an early life, scant financial resources, losing a child at thirty-nine, losing her dearest friend (Leta Chandler) and I could add many more examples of things my mom endured but came out stronger and better on the other side.

My mother is a petite woman, but there is nothing small about her legacy, or the impact she has had on others.  It is a strong, beautiful, vibrant, legacy.

So as I sit here and think of the influence of my mother I want to share a few of her traits that I am most grateful for…

Generous, kind, loving, sweet, caring, honest, fastidious, brave, strong, energetic, resilient, thoughtful, hopeful, selfless. My mother possessed all of these qualities for sure.  But if I had to put it to one word  it would be…

Sacrifice.

In today’s society this word has much less meaning than it did in the past, but this single word describes my mother best.

A child and mother’s life is deeply connected. There is this love that a mother feels for her child. Mothers carry their young and take care of them until they become adults. Mothers make sure that their children are safe and happy. Mothers sacrifice their own happiness just for the wellness of their children.

My mother sacrificed her life for her children.

I am humbled when I think of all that she sacrificed for me.  Being thankful  seems trite but it truly is what I feel.

Thank you Mom for giving me the freedom and space to dream.

Thank you for creating order in our house despite the disorder that you tried to shield us from.

Thank you for pushing me to go to college even when everyone told me I wouldn’t make it.  Though you never had tIMG_0247he chance to go… you are still the smartest person I know.

Thank you for allowing me to disagree with you when we have our “discussions”.  I guess that is just other ways I am like you… strong in principle and knowing what you believe and not being afraid to defend it… even if it’s not popular or easy.

Thank you for showing me how to be a real friend. Thank you for teaching me how to be compassionate and forgiving. Thank you for telling me you loved me every time we see each other and every time before we hang up the phone.

Thank you for being strong in the broken places.

Thank you Mom, you are my rock, my anchor, and my one true North.

I Love You and Happy Birthday Mom!!

 

Principles, Secrets and Keys to Life, Ummm, No Thank You

Last night, as I scrolled through FACEBOOK, I saw post after post giving me a list to fix my life. Well-intentioned principles and keys to having a “good and successful” life.  I even saw some posts that encouraged me tthe-7-secrets-to-successo read the “secrets” on their list that were so freely given by other posts.

After scrolling through the same lists that I have read multiple times in my life, I have decided I have had enough! Although, I will say that I found it humorous that “The 7 Secrets to Success” had eight thumbs up in the picture.

I don’t need to know the “7 Secrets to Success” the “10 Steps to Prosperity” or even the “5 Keys to a Happy Marriage”.

List them any way you wish, call them anything you like…as far as I’m concerned they areordernow all a ridiculous waste of time! No matter how fast I ordered “now” life isn’t that simple.

Even if I pass up the “Limited-Time Offer!” that is “Now Only!” sold at $49.95 offer that wasecret-300x251s “Originally:” $79.95, it won’t make a difference in my life.

I won’t remember the list,  I can’t keep the secrets and I always lose the keys.

My life experience has definitely taught me that life isn’t as simple as a list of solutions.  To be honest, as I’ve watched life for over five decades, it just gets messy.  

There is no list that will fix it.  It’s not that simple.

I know the list makers are just trying to help, but it isn’t helping!  We all want an easy fix, but there is no easy fix, no list or secret that will make life simple.  

It’s life… it’s an individual walk that often wanders around a bit, stumbling and fumbling to find it’s way.

I will tell you that your walk through this life will be hard.  It will be filled with dispointment and loss.  No matter how pretty a picture people want to convince you their life is on FACEBOOK, it isn’t. There are no keys and certainly no secrets. life is hard_0

Life has and ebb and flow to it.  There will be good times and there will by hard times, difficult times filled with regret.  None of us can avoid that. Nobody said it was easy. Why do we think we can solve it by a simple list of principles?

I won’t give you another list of things to do to be happy in this life.  You won’t remember them, more importantly you won’t do them.

But I will tell you the reason most of these lists fail to bring the results everyone so eagerly desires. 

It’s God.

He is the one who gets us through the hard, difficult times in this life.

forsakeHe walks with us and stays with us.  Never abandons us, or forsakes us like our friends can and do in this life.

As a matter of fact…He actually will at times go before us to pave the way through these difficult times.

I’m so glad God didn’t give us a list to get success, secrets to happiness. He made it so much simpler.

We will fail often, but God doesn’t abandon us.  I’ll try the same thing at least three times before I realize it doesn’t work, but it’s worth the education.

Secrets, principles and keys…no thanks.  Just remind me that life is messy, but God will hold our hand as we stumble through it together.  And that is the best advice on making it through this life that anyone can cling to.

And in the end we will laugh at all the lists we created to fix what only a relationship with God could fix.