Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Full of Hope and Wonder...

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; ..., and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This has been a wonderful year full of Hope and Wonder for our family...Sometimes it is hard to see all the blessings before us as we watch our lives unfold before us in a way we never ever imagined.  

In this past year, my youngest child, my son Christopher, graduated from Northern Arizona University in May. After an fun "road trip" home, he settled in town and started his Masters Program at University of Houston. Last March he invited me to share his Spring Break with him in California. It was a great trip! The following month, my daughter Claire, graduated from her residency in Jacksonville, Florida.  She got engaged at the very top of a beautiful lighthouse in San Augustine, Florida and will marry next spring. She moved home, passed her board certification, and opened her private practice in Katy, Texas. Her twin sister, my daughter Nicole, and her husband Brian, had a great year, enjoying Andrew, my first grandson, who is 18 months old.  I was privileged to join my mother for two full weeks in France enjoying much of my family, some great food and wine, and some much needed downtime to walk the streets of St. Jean and enjoy overlooking the sea...almost daily.  It was good for my soul.  It gave me peace. I decided to abandon FEAR. It has been a wonderful year...As it comes to a close, I look forward to a Christmas full of family and friends and you.

When I think of all we have done and how far we have come, it amazes me. It inspires me. It gives me hope, and I'm filled with wonder. I do realize, as you do, this is not the life I had imagined. However, I believe God calls us to see the blessings that surround us. To chose Joy even though we are suffering. To see the small, bright light of a candle, during the darkness of long nights. To breathe in Hope and breathe out Fear, Pain, Loss... 

What do you Want for Christmas?
by Ann Voskamp
 
"I don't want a Christmas you can buy.
I don't want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds me,remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus."

We are called to begin again, to live again, to start again, as a young, small child did, so many years ago in a damp stable on a cold, dark night, with only bright stars to light His way...

Christmas Prayer -  
by Howard Thurman


When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.

Let us begin anew, looking forward to a bright new year, full of Hope and Wonder. 
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully bright New Year!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being Thankful...

Parisian Flower Boxes, September 2015

Being Thankful...

As the world watches over Paris, I watch over you. In light of last weeks tragic terrorist events in Paris, it is hard to be positive when the City of Lights has been plagued with darkness. As I spent hours keeping vigil, I thought of you and about Thanksgiving and the ability to see beauty come from ashes.  

Even in the depths of despair, you can be thankful. It's OK to see beauty again. Feel free to smile. Go outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. It doesn't take away the pain,but it does give you pause to breathe. Just Breathe, and
Be Thankful.

We had two new members join our Modern Widows Club this month. We all cried and then we all laughed. We felt the pain, but we looked for the hope to ease the pain. 
In our Houston Chapter, we are over 60 strong.
We are a part of  #OneMillionWidows. 
 We are lonely, but we are not alone.
It's OK to smile.
It's OK to hurt. 
But it's also OK to Let Go! 
To live your sweet life now to the fullest. 
To enjoy your family, your friends, your new found freedom.
 I realize how strange this new life feels. 
It's way too tight... doesn't fit quite right. It's uncomfortable. 
But it belongs to you and it's time you start to own it. 
Your new life; it is where you live. 
Right Here and Right Now. 
It's REAL.
Be Thankful...

What does being Thankful mean? 
To see the flower sprouting towards new life in the concrete. 
To see the stars in the same sky that my family sees in France and to Hope. 
To dream that someday we will have Peace. 
We will love again. We will laugh again. We will enjoy our life again. We will. 
I promise you.
Be Thankful.

No matter what you are doing for Thanksgiving, find a way to celebrate your life. 
What ever it is that you have; wherever it is that you have it, be grateful. 
Thankful is a destination. 
It is not a day on the calendar, or a bird in your oven, or even too much pumpkin/chess/pecan pie. Thankful is in your heart. 
It can sustain you if you let it. Let a tiny bit of Joy out of you. 
Let a smile warm your heart. 
Have a bite; take a sip; enjoy your time with family and friends. 
Be Thankful

I'm so glad that I have met each and every one of you. 
You bring me Joy. You bring me Peace. You give me Hope. You allow me to dream. 
I'm grateful God gave me you. 
I am thankful that the violence in Paris has stopped -- at least for now. 
I'm grateful my family is safe. I'm delighted I spent time there this summer - In Paris and In France - a country I deeply love because of my great heritage. It is a huge part of me and those that have lost loved ones, reside in my heart, thoughts and prayers. 
I will carry them as I carry you. 
I am...
Thankful we are alive
Thankful we can pray
Thankful we can celebrate life
Thankful we can love
Thankful we can hold hands
Thankful new babies will be born
Thankful young couples will wed
Thankful young people are gaining knowledge to contribute to a better world
Thankful for all that I have and all that I have become and all that I will be
I am grateful for every single second I get to LIVE for the rest of my life
I am Thankful for you too!
Be Thankful TODAY!!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Journey



The business of my life has taken me away from my journal to you. I wanted to share this airplane ride note with you as I traveled to see my daughter graduate…

Hope. Survivor. Trust. Peace; New Beginnings!


It is so hard to find myself in this new life. I see glimpses of him all around me.  I remember him touching me, holding me, teasing me and then he's gone and I’m alone and uncertain of the new direction I want to take.  I miss him. He gives me peace and hope and I can still feel his arms around me in my loneliness and my solitude…

I do know now that I don’t want to live in fear one more second!  
That is screaming loud and clear throughout my life right now. I must trust God and really, truly learn to let go. I don’t know where I’m going or how I will get there.  
But I do know it’s time to go there…

I think that is one of the biggest frustrations of widowhood. 
It suddenly takes you “off-roading” when you had no intentions of doing so. 
You had “plans” with your husband. 
Plans to have children and pursue dreams, to grow old together and to hold hands and 
to retire and travel and live long, strong, great lives… and now we are standing here. 
Alone. 
One. 
Single. 
Widow.  
Looking for some peace.

We need hope. We need trust. We need strength, laughter and lots of love. Where will it come from? How will we find it? What does it look like and how will we know that we have “arrived” at the new place; our new destiny. Our new lives; our new lives without him…
New Beginnings!

Only God knows our journey and He is waiting for us to meet Him there. 
But we don’t’ know how to start… 
In which direction to take that very first step. 
Trusting. Praying Hoping…
Learning to surrender to the will of the universe and the creation of the new you. 

Who is she? 
What does she like? 
What does she love? 
Who will she become?

Come with me. Let’s do this together. It’s all up to us. 
It's time for you and I to become who we were born to be. 
We have to start. With one single step…out of our comfort zone. 
Away from the you you know and you are comfortable with. 
Towards the new you that is all you were meant to be and so much more than we are. 
We need to move to all we can be. 
We just have to start. 
We just have to take one scary little step away from the past and towards a bright future. 

Just. One. Tiny. Little Step…New Beginnings start TODAY!
Let’s go, Love!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

LOVE!!!


Love
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. 
Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version

I love you for all that you are, all that you have been and all you’re yet to be.

Love is a verb

We are here because we have been loved. We are a creation of Love. God loves us. Our parents love us. Our friends love us. We are loved. We are loved, and we have lost love. We are sad. We hurt. We are scared. We cry. We hope to climb out of our grief. How do we crawl out of this pit of despair? We do SOMETHING for someone… Anything for Anyone. Pick one thing you can do TODAY, right now for someone else.  Love is a verb – doing something for someone can save you from bitterness. Do it. I promise


Love Takes Practice

Nicole and Brian had their first child and my first grandson this past year. As young parents, I’m so enjoying watching them grow into all they were born to be. They have really adopted a TEAM approach to raising young Andrew. It is amazing to me how their Tag Team works so well! I’m amazed by their enthusiasm and commitment. Sometimes they make me smile as I remember…. They say”Tomorrow we will be better parents…” and I know they will. There is no doubt in my mind that Andrew is completely and unconditionally LOVED.  I used to write on my mirror when twin girls were young: “YOU ARE THE PARENT!” It’s true. We are the only parents our children get. We shouldn’t forget that. They will have other friends but we must be their loving parents and that takes practice. Do it. I promise…

Love Listens

At 4:45am I get a text from my daughter, Claire. She’s on her way to work at the hospital. I answer. I listen. I love her. She knows I’m there, accommodating my schedule to meet hers, so we can love together as we listen to each other’s lives. Listen to each other with all your heart. God gives us really big hearts to share. I remember when I was expecting our son Chris, we had twin daughters that were 8 and I didn’t know how I could love another human being as much as I needed to. I could! He was born, and my heart filled with so much love, it was truly exponential! I adored him immediately! I used to tell him before he fell asleep after our evening prayers that I loved him more that life itself. It’s true. I do. He hated to hear it, but he knew I believed it. It carries him still. Once when he was away in France with my family and I was home, he sent me a one line email (Chris is a man of very few words!).  It read: “I would swim across the ocean just to see your face.” At that very moment I knew that he would know forever how very much I love him.  Still. Always. Forever. We limit ourselves. There is no boundary on love. Love has no limits. Claire is going to Guatemala soon. She will give medical care for hundreds of under served children needing health, and love. She will love them with all her heart and yet we – her family, her friends, her coworkers – we won’t lose a thing. Because she can listen and love at the same time. She will leave a part of herself there, they will feel her love, but she will still have plenty more left for the rest of us for the rest of her life.

Love Laughs

Life is hard. Sometimes, life is very hard. It just doesn't seem we can make it through the very next second, minute, let alone another day… Really, God? But we can and we do. We Love. We Laugh. We Survive. And we begin again to LIVE.  I know each of you reading these lines have struggles in your lives. But I want to remind you its ok to laugh. To live out loud. To enjoy every single moment of the day, good or bad. I promise there is a pearl waiting for you there tucked in the veil of pain and suffering. There have been days when I’m sobbing so hard, my body is wracked with grief. And then it is almost as if I’m looking down on myself and I say to myself, “Its ok. We can do this – God and I.” Really, we can. And sometimes I laugh. I just laugh out loud to feel good again. To upright myself. To hang on to life when we want to die. You have to. You just have to. I always tried to make Kevin laugh – every day. It was a secret, personal goal of mine for my marriage. I never told him. I just did it. Most days, amazingly enough, even during the pain and suffering of a long term illness, I was successful. I brought him joy and laughter. We shared love and laughter for over 40 years. Today, share a smile, give a wink, go ahead laugh. I promise you’ll feel better. Do it.


Love lends a hand…

A good friend of mine’s son serves in our military. She helped me find a group of young Military Wives Club and this month our Modern Widows Club wrote them Love Notes. We sent Love Notes to 13 women we have never meant and yet, we loved them. We told them. We will pray for them and hold them near us in our hearts. We kept their names so we will remember them. We will share. We will do. We will serve. We will survive because we have loved.  When you think your heart is broken and you are so lonely you only want to die, lend a hand. Help a neighbor. Cook a meal. Volunteer. Share. Help. Get outside your comfort zone and do one thing for someone else. Lend a hand. Be a friend. . I promise you’ll feel better. Do it.

Love loves again
Love can always create more love. Don’t limit yourself. Even when you think you have nothing left to give, you have more love. Always! You have more and more love to give. We are a vessel. God fills us. He fills us up over and over and over again. We chose each day to love or not to love. It is up to us. It is up to you. If you open your heart up just a tiny bit to love another, it is like a door opening up to a field of bright sunshine right outside…. Let it in. Breathe deep and love again. It can be so heard to be vulnerable again, to be yourself again, to breathe again, and to step just outside the door of your broken heart to let it heal and love again. Painful, I tell you. But if you do, you won’t believe how good it feels to love another. To love again, to share your life and your love, with those around you. I promise it will help heal you. Do it.

Love is Love is Forever Love
Love always. Love is forever. It is boundless. It never dies. It doesn't go away. It may change, but it is there. I told our minister days before Kevin passed that I believed love was eternal. That even though we both new Kevin was passing on to a new place, our love would last forever. We would still love each other in two places, both heaven and earth, simultaneously. And forever. Our love has no boundaries. I feel him reach down from heaven and wrap his arms around me all the time; a misplaced ray of sunshine that gently graces my cheek on my way home from work. A kiss from heaven,  the bright sliver of a moon and star shining down for me on my morning walk with Miss Sadie.  He is all around me. I can feel him hold me. Embracing me. Loving me. He smiles down on me and all our family. Always. Forever. Love never ends. It is boundless. It surrounds you. It holds you up. I promise. Believe it. Do it!

Love Is a Verb

John Mayer

Love is a verb
It isn’t a thing
It's not something you hold
It's not something you scream
When you show me love,
I don't need your words
Yeah, love isn’t a thing
Love is a verb
Love isn’t a thing
Love is a verb
Love isn’t a crutch
It isn’t an excuse
No, you can't get through love
On just a pile of I.O.U.s
Love isn’t a drug
Despite what you've heard
Yeah, love isn’t a thing
Love is a verb
Love isn’t a thing
Love is a verb

So you gotta show show show me
(show show show me)
Show show show me
That love is a verb
Yeah, you gotta show show show me
(show show show me)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015: A New Year of Beginnings





2015: A New Year of Beginnings

“Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
~Oscar Wilde

I sit on my green sofa in front of my fireplace as my mind races in search of undefined goals and expectations that have not been prepared or announced. The Christmas cards, no strike that, the News Years cards, no strike that... maybe the Mardi Gras cards, sit unattended on my cluttered coffee table along with photos stamps, coffee mugs, cough drops and tissues...the TV is on and I’m watching some movie in my jammies in front of a fire…2015; Wow…another year, another new year without him. Where do I start? I’m sick, I’m tired, I’m behind and I’m overwhelmed. And yet, a spark starts up my dying embers in my fireplace and a flame begins – again – relighting the hearth with love and hope. It begins again and leaps into life licking the logs for fuel, courage, wisdom hope and dreams… I can dream…

The transformation of my life from six years ago to today be unbelievable….
My husband of over 30 years and the father of our three children was diagnosed with cancer, treated, recovered three times and finally surrendered in death.
During that time, one daughter was in Medical school out of state, one daughter became a Physicians’ Assistant and began working at MD Anderson, where my husband received his treatments, and got married, and our son graduated from high school and moved away to college to Flagstaff, AZ.

Since Kevin’s passing, Nicole and Brian had a baby, Claire is finishing up her residency program in Florida, and Christopher is graduating from NAU and looking at Graduate schools…

But what happened to me during that time was the transition? I went from working, wife, mother and caregiver, living with 5 people, and five animals, cooking homemade meals and being the primary breadwinner full time housekeeper; to me and Miss Sadie, our blue merle Aussie. Overnight, I went from a home filled with 5 people and 5 animals to me and a dog! Weird --Just weird, I tell you!

I knew I was a widow pretty fast... in fact the dark realization came the morning after Kevin passed away.  I woke myself up hearing wailing…my wailing! No really, loud wailing -- a noise that I had never heard before, very primitive, like a wounded animal, so guttural and frightening… I had to look around to confirm it was truly coming from me… it was. Sigh. Sad… I would have to learn how to deal with this and move forward… Somehow….Where do I begin… New Beginnings!

After time passed, I remember the first time I went to an art museum with a girlfriend. As I stood in front of the majestic paintings, I thought to myself…”Oh, I forgot, I DO love Museums!” Who am I without him?! Really, I had NO clue!

Several months later, almost two years after Kevin passed away, I was driving down the street by our home running errands when suddenly, out loud I screamed “I’m single…” Who knew?!! Certainly not me! This was big news to me and I was NOT happy about it. All this time, I thought I was still married! A widow, Right, I get it, but still married…but now I realized I was in fact, not only was I a widow, but also single at that! Strange… Really strange! I know this may sound unbelievable to some of you reading this that are not widows… but being a widow is one thing… We figure that out pretty fast… but that we are in fact SINGLE-- no way! We are married women of our husbands who passed away! That’s a totally different story. Until that exact moment… I truly I NO idea that I was in fact Single for the first time in nearly 40 years! OUCH!!!

It took me a long time after that, back on the green couch, to figure out that I wanted to do something about that… So here were my facts: 
      I do love museums…(I should get out more!)
I am single. Although still a mother, daughter, daughter in law and friend…
I am being led by God to start a Modern Widows Chapter in Houston and…
I would like to go to dinner and sit across the table with a man!

Hmmmm what next? New beginnings! Little by little, I started to put my toe into the pool of new life, new courage, hope and love. 

You MUST Make a Choice to take a Chance to make a CHANGE.

As you sit on Your sofa working on YOUR goals and possibly your belated Christmas cards…Promise me this: You will take a chance and do something new…anything new…your choice! Just DO it!
  • Ride a bike!
  • Take a trip!
  • Try a new restaurant … and eat there alone! I dare YOU!
  • Anything else your heart has longed to do but you didn’t think you had the courage to do…Try it!

YOU CAN DO THIS. I know you can. I have faith in you. I BELIEVE in YOU!!!
Become the Woman you were Born to BE! NO ONE ELSE can be YOU… and YOU have to start creating the New YOU! It’s your new beginning… only yours… and no one elses. You get to pick the size, color and shape of the New YOU! Own it my friend! Rock it! Be it! One step at a time, courageous and BOLD become who YOU want to be as the new YOU! BE Yourself!