Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

On Father's Day, I always think of my dad.  He was a man of great intelligence, integrity and humor. But it was his family that was always most important to him. He cherished his wife and five daughters.  Next month, it will be five years since we lost him, and I miss him so much. So, today, I honor him. 

On Father's Day, I always think of my husband, Bud. He is a man of strong convictions who loves his God, his country and his family...especially his new granddaughter!  He has a tender heart that is easily touched by the blessings in his life as well as the hurting of this world.  I love him so much and have been privileged to raise two incredible children with him.  So today I honor him.

And today, for the first time on Father's Day, I think of my son, David.  A dad of only four months, his life was completely changed by the arrival of sweet Ella!  I love to watch the two of them together...they are totally smitten with each other!

So today I honor him.  Like his grandfather and father before him, he is a man of integrity who loves and serves his God, and cherishes his wife and daughter. And he knows how to make us laugh!   I could not be more proud!

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walking Companions

Nearly every day on my way to work, I drive by two women who are out doing their morning walk together.  One wears a bright fluorescent yellow safety vest and the other wears a bright fluorescent orange safety vest. And regardless of the weather, they are out there pounding the pavement at about 6:15 in the morning.

Over the past year my admiration for these women has grown as I have watched them plod on through the darkness in pouring rain, and freezing snow, bundled up to the max.  And to be honest, there have been a few times that, due to the weather, I've thought it might of been wiser to just take the morning off.

But yesterday morning was beautiful with glorious blue skies and early morning sun.  So when I spotted the walkers it made me smile because I knew they were soaking up the beauty.  Actually, I envied them that they had the time to be out there taking this early morning walk  instead of on their way to work. 

And it made me think...not for the first time...what makes them get up and out there every morning regardless of the weather.  Last winter when it was literally freezing and slippery outside, what possessed each of them to climb out of a warm bed, pile on the layers of clothes and those vests and head out into the dark, cold morning?  Was it the desire for exercise? Maybe.  But I'm a walker and I know that when it's really nasty outside, I choose my elliptical or...just being honest couch.

I have to believe that the reason for the success of this daily routine is a commitment to their friend and walking companion.  Somewhere along the line, they must have agreed to do this thing together and to hold each other accountable. 

So when that alarm goes off in the wee small hours of the morning, signalling that it's time to get up, the fact that someone else is waiting for them, ready to face the elements together, has to motivate and encourage them to do it.  They are willing to keep going through the darkness and cold.  And then when they get a beautiful morning like yesterday, they get to share the beauty with their friend!

These thoughts ran through my mind as I drove past the women yesterday and it made me feel good.  Then I heard God saying  to me, "Laura, I'm your walking companion.  I've made a commitment to be there for you on every one of those dark, cold mornings. Together, we'll make it through.  And together, we'll rejoice on the bright sunny days!  The only question is, how committed are you to Me?"

You see, it just doesn't cut it in a relationship if the commitment is only one-sided.  I know that God is committed and He will be there for me when that early morning alarm goes off.  The question is, will I get up, put on my walking shoes and meet Him or, simply turn over, pull the covers over my head and remain where I am?

"Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth."  Matthew 28:20

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Friday Night Thought...

Yesterday I learned that layoff notices will be going out at my work starting the week of July 11.  Around 185 people will lose their jobs.  There's a part of me that wants to yell, "It's not fair!  It's not suppose to be this way!"

Tonight, I read this quote from an email my husband had sent to me the other day.

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."

In the coming days of pain and upheaval for so many people, I want to make the difference.  What are the circumstances of your life that are not the way they are "supposed to be" but where you have the power to make the difference?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, It's Been Forty!

A couple of weeks ago, this little gem arrived in my mailbox! After a brief moment of confusion followed by a slightly longer moment of denial, I realized what I was looking at.  This was the invitation to my forty year high school reunion! That noise you heard was me choking on the word "forty."

I'm not good with math, so until this arrived in the mail, I could almost convince myself that it really hasn't been forty years since I graduated from high school.  But this changes everything. That big 4-0  printed on the postcard makes it pretty hard to deny. It was a very long time ago that I cheered along with my classmates, "We are the Vikings, the mighty, mighty Vikings. Everywhere we go-o, people want to know-o, who we are. So we tell them.  We are the Vikings...." Wow!  There's a blast from the past.

Then tonight I had another blast from the past when Sally, one of our cheerleaders, called to talk to me about the reunion.  Let me just say right here that never...I  repeat...never did Sally ever call me while we were in high school.  Not that she wasn't a nice girl, it's just that we didn't quite hang out in the same circles.  Go ahead and guess which group I belonged to:  popular-had-a-boyfriend-since-first-grade girls or quiet-shy-always-blushing girls.  Yeah...

But tonight, Sally and I were practically BFFs. At least we were once she figured out that I wasn't the Laura that she thought she had called but another Laura whom she insisted she remembers.  And she probably does; we didn't have a very big graduating class.

Anyway, we chatted and chatted and chatted. I kept waiting for her to get to the part where she asked me to volunteer for something.  But she never did.  She just wanted to invite me to the reunion.  And you know something, I think she would actually be pleased if I did show up.

Still, I don't plan on going to the reunion.  I did attend my twenty year reunion and had a fairly good time.  But I remember thinking then, "I don't need to do this again."  And that was twenty years ago!

So, in August, when those members of the Class of 1971 gather for our forty year reunion, I hope they have a wonderful time together.  I'll be picturing them fondly...all looking like their senior pictures in our yearbook!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lessons from My Garden

I love yards with beautifully manicured lawns and gorgeous flower gardens.  I love them... I just don't have one because, truthfully, I hate yard work. Maybe it was all those summers growing up when my sisters and I spent hours weeding flower beds before we could go play. All I know is that I would be very happy if I could afford to pay someone to come and weed my gardens. That, however, is not going to happen.

So over the past couple of weekends, I have made an effort to spend a little time getting to know the weeds that have overtaken a very large flower bed in our front yard.  And while this weeding project is still a work in progress, I have gleaned a few lessons from my garden.

First, my stiff joints and sore muscles have been reminding me that I'm not as young as I used to be.  It's been hard to acknowledge that I'm really not as strong as I once was and that there are definite limitations as to what I can and cannot do.  To admit this to myself is a bit frightening.  To admit it to others is humbling.  I realize that I don't want to move into this stage of life where I occasionally need help.  I much prefer being the one able to give help. 

When I first approached this rather overwhelming weeding project, I knew that there was no way that I would come close to getting that bed cleaned out in one morning. So I decided that I would only work for an hour and I would focus my efforts along the front edge of the flower bed.  With my gardening gloves, trowel and kneeling pad, I set to work pulling out the enemy weeds. 

I hadn't been at it for very long when I noticed that I was having a hard time sticking with my original plan.  Sure I pulled weeds from along the front of the flower bed, but there were a whole lot of them a little further back in the garden that seemed to be calling to me.  Suddenly, I realized that I was in the middle of a classic case of "scope creep."

I had never heard of "scope creep" until a couple of years ago when I started working on a few projects at work.  The idea is that when you start a project, you set the parameters and the limitations that will define what the scope of the project will include. However, if you aren't vigilant, it is very easy for other things to creep into the project that weren't part of its original scope.   It's a sneaky thing, and a sure fired way to sabotage a project.

And there I was, allowing "scope creep" to derail my plans for my morning of weeding, making my limited time less effective than it should have been. My time in the garden showed me the value of discipline and focus in accomplishing my goals.

My garden taught me one more lesson:  If you are making progress, it doesn't matter if anyone else can see it. 

Did I mention that this is a VERY large flower bed with LOTS of weeds in it?  I worked hard for the hour that I had allotted to spend in my garden.  At the end of that time, I stepped back to admire my work and it was clear to me that I had made a difference! 

However, someone driving by my yard, would only see a garden that still needed a lot of work.  There are still lots of weeds in it.  But because I knew what it looked like before I started working, I was able to see how much better it is now. 

My garden taught me not to become discouraged if others can't see the progress that I'm making in my life.  They don't see the big picture...the before and after shots.  But I know the changes that have come through hard work and that encourages me to continue working until all the weeds are gone.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

I just got home from Costco where I was the recipient of a random act of kindness.  I know!  With their giant carts that take up half an aisle and their congestion-causing free sample stands, patience and kindness aren't always at the forefront of people's minds when they are shopping there.  Or maybe that statement just reveals something less than stellar about myself...hmmm.

Anyway, it's Friday, I'm tired and once again, a little bit grumpy. But after dinner I made a quick dash to Costco to pick up a couple of things that I needed for tomorrow.  Since it was still dinner time, the number of shoppers was waning so I was able to get my shopping done pretty quickly. 

As I pushed my giant cart through the parking lot, I heard another cart approaching over my left shoulder. When I stopped to load my purchases into the trunk of my car, a woman went past me, stopping at her car which was parked a couple spaces beyond me and right next to the cart corral.

I had just reached up to pull down my trunk lid when suddenly, there was the woman, reaching for my cart.  I looked at her and she said, "I'll take it.  I'm parked right next to the carts."  I'm sure that my surprise was written all over my face as I thanked her.  "You're very welcome," she said. "Have a wonderful weekend!"
With that she retraced her steps, heading back to her car and the cart corral.

I have no idea what prompted this woman to go out of her way and come back to my car just to save me a trip to return my cart.  We hadn't spoken, or even made eye contact.  But somewhere in her heart there was a spark of kindness that she heeded.  It was unexpected and certainly unmerited but so very much appreciated.  I can only hope that she felt as good on her way home from the big box store as I did!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here Comes the Sun!

It was here.  It really was.  And I was ready with my shades! 
Now what happened to that ol' sun?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Foreign Object Sighting

A foreign object was sighted in our area today. People headed outside to get a better look at it. Folks left work early and traffic clogged the highways as residents sought out views of this unusual sighting.

No one knew how long this was going to be visible and people were giddy at the opportunity to witness this phenomenon. But after a while everyone seemed to relax a bit when it became apparent that this was not going to fade away quickly.

As a matter of fact, according to the weatherman, we can expect to see this object for several days.  We're no longer doing the rain dance because the experts have identified that foreign object as the sun that went missing months ago! 

So we'll be soaking up the rays over the next few days! And I guarantee that a lot of people are going to return to work on Monday sporting sunburns...without a single word of complaint!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blessed by Text

Sometimes it's the smallest things that bless our lives.  I had a tough day today.  Work was frustrating.  It rained when I headed out on my walk.  The library was closed when I got there to get some new books.  I received an email from a friend with some very disappointing news. 

Nothing major.  Just a lot of little bits of yuck.  Then my phone buzzed, alerting me to the arrival of a text.  There on the glowing screen were three little words from my daughter.  They said, "Love you, momhead (her nickname for me). 

I couldn't have asked for a sweeter blessing!  God knew just what I needed and my daughter delivered it!  The two of them are quite a pair :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Object Lessons

Lately, God has been using my commute to and from work to teach me things I need to learn, or remind me of  important things I already know but need to remember.  It's been good.

There has been a darkness in my life for the past few months, both physically and emotionally.  The weather in the Pacific Northwest has refused to let go of the gray, wet of winter.  Here we are on the first day of June and it is pouring rain outside after another day of heavy overcast skies.  After a while, it takes an emotional toll.

For the past several months, there has been a gray cloud at my work as well we wait to hear who is going to be layed off from their jobs.  We are looking at  possibly 200 people being let go.  The uncertainty and distrust is also taking an emotional toll.

So last week as I was driving to work on another rainy, gray morning, the heaviness that I felt was almost palpable. With my windshield wipers going full blast, I looked out the window at the road ahead and felt like crying.  It's been hard for so long. And I truly try to look for the positive in the middle of all of the negative.  Sometimes I'm successful.  That morning...not so much.

But as I continued down the road, I noticed that there was a lightening of the clouds ahead.  And eventually, I could even see some pale blue on the far horizon.  The weather was changing.  I was still in the rain, but the road ahead promised blue skies. 

With rain still splattering my windshield, I felt God reminding me that there will always be dark days.  It's the way life is.  But during those times, I need to keep moving.  For a while, I may have to travel through clouds with no sign of the rain letting up. Or, I might have a glimpse of brighter skies ahead while it's still raining where I am. But I need to keep going. There will come a time when the clouds are in my rear view mirror and I'm under glorious, blue skies.  Because, that too, is the way life is.

So, tonight as I type this with the rain pouring outside my window, and the threat of losing my job as real as it's ever been, I'm choosing to keep moving forward.  And when I finally chase down those blues skies, I'll appreciate them even more because of the dark journey that I've been on for so long.