The other day I got a “blast from the past” as my daughter and son-in-law on a recent road trip to California sent pictures back to me from a life of ours 20 years ago when we lived in Fortuna. Greg was the pastor of a small church for 3 1/2 years, our daughter was 14 months old when we moved there – and our son was born there 3 years later. Consequently, we have many good memories of our time in that place. I think everyone would agree with me – the best times of your life are when your children are small – and it is no different for us, however the humble beginnings and places we’ve lived while raising them.
After visiting that town that Ashlee hardly remembers because she was only 4 years old when we moved away – she called me that night and said, “Mom – how did you live there? There’s nothing there!” So true – and yet – we were happy. We did not have cell phones, computers or any way of social networking. I went to the park with Ashlee and worked on crafts during the day. A stress break for me back then was baking. Life was incredibly simple as we lived in the parsonage right next to the church – so we hardly ever needed the car except to go to the store and on occasion to the mall in a nearby larger town. Fortuna was small – with one or two grocery stores – but they did have a Papa Murphy’s pizza which was called “Murphy’s” back then. And you should see the one story hospital where Shawn was born! The town and circumstances did not dictate to us if we would be content and full of joy in our “job” – we simply were. Home is and always has been where our heart is. How fortunate for us in our many moves throughout our ministry life – that we have always rested and relied on that fact. It doesn’t matter that our children are now grown-up and live away from our home – we established our family home many years ago with them – and they still remember and forever keep it in their hearts.
This song from the recent winner of American Idol, Phillip Phillips – says it all. I wanted to share it with you today.
Enjoy and God Bless!
I’ve been reflecting this past month on the events of 10 years ago. It is the anniversary of purchasing our home in the Seattle area.
Time has a way of sneaking up on you, and for me – this journey happened slowly at times and at other times very quickly.
Ten years ago our daughter was 14 and a freshman in high school. Our son was 10 and in the 4th grade. That seems like a lifetime ago when they were that age – and at the time, it seemed as if time moved very slowly.
But in between the swim meets, choir concerts, endless baseball and basketball tournaments we knew these were the best years and we tried to enjoy them and hang on to every minute, knowing that once these days are gone – they are gone.
When 10 years comes and goes it is a funny thing – we say to ourselves and others around us, “What happened??” And we are truly surprised when things don’t stay the same or when we do something and our bodies don’t feel the same as they used to in the “good old days”. I truly do wonder where we got as much energy as we had to be running all the times with kids and their events and I know I couldn’t do it today without paying for it!
As I reflect on yet another Mother’s Day – I realize this is the first one where we are true empty-nester’s – our daughter has been married for the past 2 1/2 years and our son is going to school in Southern California – so it is my first Mother’s Day without him in the area.
But I also think to myself, “Wow – what great well-balanced grown up kids we have! We must have done something right – or maybe they turned out in spite of us – either way I’m thankful and grateful for all of God’s MANY blessings poured out to us in this last decade and the ones before that.
I am looking forward to a great future in this next decade and the ones to follow as God wills it for each of our lives and can’t wait to reflect back on those memories. But mostly I’m learning to live in the moment and enjoy the journey along the way.
Where we’re you 10 years ago?
I remember where I was 24 years ago tonight. I was in a room in a hospital in New Castle, PA – getting ready for 5 hours of hard labor to have my first-born child – Ashlee Renee. I went into labor on her due date of August 5th and she was born at 2:27 am on August 6, 1987.
So much has changed since I was 26 years old. We’ve lived an entire lifetime since then – crisscrossed the country a couple of times and have finally wound up back in the Pacific Northwest.
Everything about life changes when you have a baby – our doctor told Greg and me that we would enter the hospital as two people – and leave as three. Our life really changed and we discovered that Ashlee was the new boss of our home – deciding when she would eat and sleep – and most often in those first few months – she was at an opposite schedule – so NO ONE slept much. I remember not minding – she was precious and I had prayed for a girl and she was PERFECT.
Happy Birthday, Ashlee – you will be 24 in 6 hours!
Where were you 24 years ago today?
Image via Wikipedia
I just found this great couple on twitter. They call themselves The Gypsynester. They are a couple who find themselves in mid-life with an “empty nest” – and decide to travel the world and write and blog about their experiences! They are funny and quirky and all the things I love!
The reason I can relate so well with them – they are empty nesters who know the ropes. This article that they wrote, My Dirty Little Secret describes perfectly all the feelings and humor surrounding the subject that I can totally relate too! With our son just one month away from leaving home for California and embarking on a whole new world – I find myself feeling just like this Mom in this article. You will find them wildly funny and if you too, are an “empty-nester” – or soon to be “empty-nester” – you will be able to relate and find the humor in your situation too.
Enjoy and God Bless!
Image via Wikipedia
Heard another great message from our pastor, Stephen Collins yesterday morning. He has begun a series on “The Beatitudes”. This question was asked:
Are you happy? Is this really what you want? Will that alone satisfy you long-term? When feelings change and emotions are fickle?
The most profound statement came in the middle of the message. ‘When we settle for just being happy – we aim too low’ – missing out on God’s blessing in our lives’. Sometimes, God doesn’t want us to be happy. Sometimes there are lessons in the ‘gift’ of pain and hardship in our lives. The most significant changes in our heart and character come when life is not ‘happy’ – but dark and sad.
For me – I know this is a true statement – and sums up just what I have learned and lived through over the past 2 years – as I grew and discovered God’s ‘gift’ of hard times, both personally, in my relationships and spiritually.
If we accept the ‘gift’ in the way it is intended – then God can do His greatest work in us – bringing us more than just ‘happiness’ – but a blessed and meaningful life. And sometimes what may feel like the end of the world – may only be the beginning of a great and rewarding life.
Are you happy? Is that what you really want? Or do you want more? Do you want God’s rich blessing poured out in your life. I know I do. I want to reap the reward of choosing to do the right thing – when doing that goes against everything I may be feeling. It means doing right by people and relationships – and being the right person. Living by character and integrity – rather than emotions. And when I do stray away and don’t choose what is right – at least initially – then knowing how to get back on the right path – hard as it is – to reconcile and fix it – and keep my heart open.
I am more than happy. I am blessed. I understand this now – but it took a couple of hard lessons to really believe it. I’m blessed with a wonderful family, a man who loves me with everything that he is – and friendships that mean everything to me. What I lost – God has richly replaced – and has taught me a great many lessons in the process. Things I could not have learned – just by following my heart and emotions because I ‘wanted to be happy’. When we see life as a journey – and know that there is a much bigger picture than just personal happiness – we will not want to aim so low.
Are you happy? Are you wishing for more than that? I invite you to share in some hard times – and think of them as a ‘gift’ – an added blessing to enhance your character and integrity. I wish you more than happiness, my friend. I wish you a life of blessing and purpose – a holy calling in which you give up ‘personal happiness’ for something richer and deeper. To see people the way that God sees them. To understand there is a lost world out there – and your unique gifts have placed you right where you are – to influence those that He has entrusted to you. Use them today.
Be more than just ‘happy’ – be blessed and be a blessing to those in your life.