I’m a slacker.

So, clearly I am unable to blog regularly. I work. A lot. Since I last blogged, I went to Italy, then the Caribbean, had knee surgery, and moved to Texas. So I’m not without valid excuses.

I have to say a move to Texas was just what I needed. I have family and dear friends in California who I miss desperately, but there is something empowering about starting over in a new city. I can go anywhere in the city and not wonder if I might be put in an awkward situation. Now THAT feels good, for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Yesterday at church, my take-away from a sermon on Jonah was this quote:

“Disobedience affects everybody in the boat.”

Isn’t that the truth? I think it’s a sad world when one person chooses disobedience, regardless of the fact that it will affect everyone in the boat. And they simply do not care. It is the ultimate selfish decision. On another note that may or may not be related…

Today is one year to the day that my [almost] ex and I officially separated and, being April Fool’s Day, it was as good of a day as any to sign and mail divorce papers back to California. (OK, it wasn’t planned that way, but I just received them and had to wait to get them notarized today.) What a strange thing to see his signature on papers I never believed in or wanted, but he couldn’t wait to sign. Surreal. There is so much that will be revealed one day. For now, I know the truth. God knows it, too. And that should be enough. I was a far from a perfect Stepford wife, but I hold my head high and move on. I am settled and enjoying my little rental house, and I am back in a routine. I have some cool upcoming trips to look forward to, and I will travel with a smile.

God is good.

All the time.

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33…different from what I imagined.

No, I’m not 33. That ship sailed 21 years ago.

33 years ago today, in a small apartment in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I woke up full of anticipation for what I thought the rest of my life would look like. When I got married on January 4, 1986, it was with the intent to be married until death parted us. I thought we were both on board with that plan. Life, however, has a way of happening. I can choose to be bitter and angry at the ultimate betrayal, humiliation, and life change that was not of my own choosing. Or…I may accept it with grace and move on with my own life. I remained on board with the original plan, but I could not force my dream on anybody else. I will never regret this dance and the fact that it gave me four daughters, three granddaughters, and a lifetime of memories. Like anything, it was mostly a good dance. Until it wasn’t.

The days of mourning are past, replaced by anticipation of what God has in store for me. His love is full and perfect and He has good things planned. I have an upcoming trip to Italy, a Caribbean cruise, a move to Texas, a Norwegian Fjord cruise, a Rod Stewart concert in the U.K., a private Beatles Tour, and the list keeps growing. I’ll be fine. Maybe even better than I have been in years. The day included Mary Poppins, and an evening spent with friends. Different from what I thought 33 would imagine, but different is not always bad.

Perspective

Perspective can be funny. It's taken me several weeks to process the loss of a young family friend to cancer.

Things that make me weep:
Hearing a mother pray for the audience at her son's funeral.
Seeing a father, overcome with grief, sob over the coffin of his firstborn son.
Watching strangers in a small town stand on street corners holding #teamnoah signs and orange balloons to show support to the grieving family.
Holding your youngest child as she weeps at the thought of how difficult life can be at times.

Things that make me smile:
Hearing a selfless mother pray for an audience of people who loved her son.
Seeing a tough police officer/father not afraid to show emotion.
Seeing a community come together to show support.
Seeing just how sensitive my daughter's heart is and how she aches for others.

Sometimes life is not fair. I am honored to have known one of the strongest fighters around. Rest in the Lord's arms, sweet Noah. You fought the good fight and you won. I'll see you in Heaven.

I Thessalonians 4:14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."

Two weeks

I know there are better titles but titles often elude me and I went with the first thing that popped in my mind. 

The answer is: Two weeks.

The question is: How long did my dad just spend with me in California?

I made Dad an offer he couldn’t refuse. I flew to Albuquerque and drove him back to spend a couple of weeks with our family. Ahead of time I fretted. The house isn’t clean enough. The guest sheets are only 250 TC. I work too much. The hot water goes out after 3 1/2 showers. Sometimes a 3 year old who lives here throws tantrums. The cat is weird. I don’t cook every day. Dad might get bored.

You know what? All of those things happened. Tantrums, leftovers, weird cat, working, and yes, I’m sure some boredom.

But (every good story always has a but!) it was good. I dare say it was even great. Dad spent time with two of his great granddaughters and got a glimpse into our life. We ate steak and chile rellenos and drank coffee. Lots of coffee. We had good talks about spiritual things, recipes, dinosaurs, Spain, parenting (I’m still apologizing to my parents), family history, our Texas ranch and other childhood vacation spots. We visited Yosemite, had fish & chips at the beach, drove to Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks and marveled at God’s creation. We stood together near the world’s largest tree with tears in our eyes and agreed that the very spot felt like a cathedral. 

I learned I am more like my dad than I ever knew.

And I am so incredibly proud of that.

I love you, Dad. Next time you come, we’re looking at apartments for you.


Paul

About 2 1/2 years ago during an internet genealogy search, I found a treasure: my dad’s first cousin, Paul. I got to meet him in Dallas a couple of times in his latter years, and correspond with him. My life became richer for having found him.

A few weeks ago I missed a call on my cell phone. One look at the caller ID told me news was coming that I did not want to hear.

At 91, and in his own home, Paul went home to Jesus. He had prepared mailings for his family to fill in the date and mail when the time came.

Life goes on and I’m looking forward to staying in touch with his daughter, another newfound cousin I’m learning about in my adult years.

Do.

Do. Little word, big meaning.

Yesterday I visited the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. It wasn’t something that was on my bucket list or I had planned to visit. It was across the street from my hotel and I had a couple of free hours to kill. Once I researched a little bit and learned that they had a special JOHN DENVER exhibit, I knew I had to visit.

You see, as a young girl, I fell in love with John Denver. Not just “Hey I like this guy.” Love. True love, y’all. I watched his [ok, they were corny] movies, owned every album, and had full intentions of marrying him when I was older. Except, you know, he was nearly my parents’ age.

In 1976, my older sister (let’s be real, she’s everybody’s favorite person in the world) had three concert tickets to see John Denver with our mom and her friend. Sister/Laura, in her kindness, gave me her ticket because she knew I would enjoy it more than she would. I was 11 and took in a cassette tape recorder, extra batteries, and made my first bootleg concert tape. [Regarding ‘first’, no comment.] This was my first concert ever and it was magical. But I digress…

Back to the exhibit. There was a filmed interview with John and one of his talking points discussed each individual’s contribution towards creating a better environment.

“There are so many things that need to be done that sometimes it seems overwhelming. I try to remind everyone that no one person has to do it all, but if each one of us follows our heart and our own inclinations, we will find the small things we can do and together we will come up with enough to create a sustainable future and a healthy environment.”

He was an early tree hugger, for lack of a better term. We likely would have never run in the same circles [which would have been awkward had we married, of course].

But tree hugger/environmentalist mentality aside, my takeaway is this:


Find what needs doing. And do it.


From menial tasks like emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the dog bowl, changing the sheets, doing taxes…to the bigger picture. Make a difference in the life of a child, buy a bag of groceries for someone in need, bake a treat for the new neighbors, pray for that person you said you would pray for, help your widow neighbor with the trash cans. There are a lot of things that need doing. And it’s high time for me to start doing them.

Inauguration Eve, 2017

I am sick of the political rants, the hateful memes (both sides, don’t fool yourself), the verbal attacks against those who voted differently, the name calling, continued dissension. Some people seem to just enjoy stirring the pot. I like what Ellen shares here. We really are more alike than different. That doesn’t make YOU right and ME wrong, or ME right and YOU wrong. It means we each love our country and have different ideas on what’s best for our country. AND THAT’S OK. Tomorrow, whether you like it or not, we will have a new President. If you don’t like him, that’s your choice, but unless you denounce your citizenship, the rights and responsibilities of it, and move to another country, Donald Trump WILL be your president. I urge you to stop the negativity, set an example for those around you, wish the man and his family well. Let’s hope he does such a good job that we are all rushing to be the first in line to vote him in again. If not, many of us will vie to be the first in line to let him know “You’re fired.”

I like what Ellen Degeneres has to say about it.

No matter what your political views are, there’s always room to be kind and hope for the best. If you can’t do those things, you need to re-evaluate your thinking.

I’m officially old.

I must officially be old when electronics start to distress me. If you know me at all, I’m the nerd in our family. I have two phones and [cough cough] four laptops. I am fairly well connected, since all of my jobs require this. (And the Macbook is for sale, so technically it shouldn’t count.) Many days I want to toss them all in the pool and walk away. Then I remember I have bills to pay and this is how I make my money.

I recently witnessed a young couple, both with smart phones; yet “he” allowed his phone to dictate every moment of his life. Instead of interacting with those around him, he chose to isolate himself and binge watch shows on his phone. “She,” however, didn’t have her phone on her most of the time. She simply didn’t allow it to come between conversations and relationships. She invested in the people around her, initiated thought-provoking conversations, played games, and looked for ways to help out.

I understand the need to check your phone periodically, but consider unplugging a bit. Leave the phone in another room and invest in the people you are with. Netflix will still be there tomorrow.


Those you love may not be.


2017

What could 2017 look like if we made changes so that a year from today, we could honestly say that we are healthier in every aspect?

Should we eat differently? Start a new exercise routine? Spend more time with friends and family? End toxic relationships? Read the Bible? Go to church? Declutter our home? Volunteer in the community? Give to worthy causes? Stop complaining when we don’t get our way? Cut back frivolous spending?

Do you hope for big things in the coming year? What changes are you making in your life to allow this to happen? 

If we do the same thing we have always done, we are going to get the same results we have always gotten. 

As for me, I am tired of the same results. It’s time to get serious.

 

Go on. Order the bacon.

I have a friend whose adventures I follow on Facebook. She recently posted of a whirlwind trip she made with her young daughter to NYC to see a couple of shows. They took a redeye from California, arrived the next morning and discovered their luggage did not come with them. Frustrating? Yes. Trip ruining? No. They went to the hotel, checked in, and ordered breakfast. Her next picture was of her and her daughter eating bacon, exclaiming that this hotel has the best bacon she has ever eaten. Instead of stressing about the lost luggage, they ate bacon.

Bacon. Who would have thought?

I remember traveling with our daughters. With four young kids, often eating out was a hassle, not to mention expensive. “Can we order extra bacon?” We would gasp at the menu price and usually say, “No.”

20+ years later, to do over, I would order the bacon.