A Great Book, Flashlight and Warm Covers

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When you were a child, did you ever get a good book from the library, you took it home, started reading it and it was so good that you had to read into the night? You even faced the discipline of parents to sneak the book into bed, wait until lights were out, turned on the flashlight, under the covers, and read? Your parents wouldn’t see the light through the blankets, right??? Hahaha! Yep! That was me!!! It still is one of my most favorite things!

img_7892Well, yesterday, I experienced that feeling all over again! I was privileged to receive an advanced read for the book, “Maybe It’s You” by Candace Calvert, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. As soon as I figured out the technical side of downloading it, I started reading. No housework catch up, a few hours break to hurry up and make something for hubby to eat, and back at it again. All. night. long. Laying in bed this time with no covers over my head, but the room is dark and only lit by my Kindle, but the feeling is the same. I felt just like a kid with a great book that I just had to finish… in the dark… but this time, on a device that would have shocked my parents. I think secretly, they liked that I read so much.

Why did I do the sleep deprived thing? BECAUSE! It was THAT good! She totally had me at “chocolate chip sea salt cookie”. It was a story about second chances,  love, truth spoken out of the mouth of a babe, doing what is right even when you know it will cost you, and how grace makes way for forgiveness. Absolutely loved this story. I have been following Candace’s books for years and like all others, this one really spoke to me.  God allows u-turns and second chances. What is in our past doesn’t have to determine our future.  God will see to that if we allow Him.  Candace weaves the story like no other and her personality comes out in her characters. You will find yourself laughing out loud, and then crying along with the characters…yep tears in the dark lit by Kindle light. So… you just have to read until 5 a.m. to find out what happens…just like when I was a kid reading under the covers. AND…you know what? Washington State is mentioned. Tickled me pink!!!!

I would highly recommend this book! I would recommend that you go right now to her website or Amazon and pre-order it! Seriously! It will be hard to put down!!! Sloane, her main character, has a lot to say to us!  Her website is: http://CandaceCalvert.com or Facebook http://facebook.com/candacecalvertbooks.  Here is a link to the first chapter!  http://candacecalvert.com/ChapterOneMaybeItsYou.pdf

 

~JoAnn

A Life Well-Lived…Come On In!

IMG_2953I was thinking this week of how often we want something to be different, and it doesn’t matter if it is in our home, in our hearts, in our minds, or in our family and friends.  We want change.  We often wish something was different that what it is.  If this or that would change, I could be happy.

We have only this…a moment.  A moment comes…passes…and will never come again.  That made me think this week.  I had driven up north this last week to attend a service for a dear cousin of mine who died at the age of 101 1/2 years old. It caused me once again to ponder what makes up a life well-lived?

f0483a56-578f-4b68-bb29-50033addb4bdAs I sat in the chapel and listened to friends and family share what they loved about my cousin, it wasn’t about what she looked like, where she lived, or what she owned, it was about HER.  What they noticed about her life.  It was about her love of life in spite of the hardships, it was her baking of cookies and cakes, her love of flowers and gardening, her hospitality in her simple home, her gentle ways, neighbors and family around, and always seeming to have enough for the extra people to join her around her table.  I personally remember her always making sure everyone was well cared for when we visited.  Perfect hostess.  Loved…because she loved well.  Never a fancy life, but certainly a well-lived life.

We can get so tangled up in life that we forget what is really important.  We choose to remember what we choose to remember.  I like the way she lived her life. It was like “throwing off the old coat with no Plan B”, as my pastor shared last Sunday.  She lost her husband at the young age of, I believe, he was thirty-nine years old, and had to continue on her own with a large family still to raise.  But she did it.  She had great older kids who did their part to make it work, and pressed on.  She had some very young children when that happened.  I’m not saying its easy to live that way.  It has to be intentional, and for some, MORE intentional!  I always admired her tenacity and determination to live her life well under whatever circumstances she found herself.

We all have a NOW moment.  Will we step out and create the life that we keep thinking IMG_4151about?  Or will we complain because it is less than what we would like it to be, or expected it to be?  Last Sunday in a message by Pastor Doug Cotton, he shared about faith having a voice.  That makes perfect sense to me!  There is a moment when God speaks.  We have that same moment to be used of God or He will find someone else who will do it.  Pastor also talked about the verse where God talks about “faith that comes through hearing”…you are hearing right now as you read this.  It is why I continue to blog.  I want to share some ideas that may encourage you to step out.  I want to do that often enough that it might make a difference for you, and build your faith that you can do it.  We all have that window of time when God is speaking to us.  Satan wants to confuse you about where it is coming from, but don’t you allow it!  Your window of time is when God speaks.  Say, “Yes Lord, I am willing.  Guide my steps.” He will.  Walk through that door He placed before you and keep your gaze straight ahead.

I have a choice to make changes, however small, in any area I choose.  I may make the smallest adjustment that can have life altering change!  It may become the very thing that will change everything else in my life!  If it is God ordained, I need to follow His lead and move forward with it.  I have to trust Him.

 I, for one, have made many changes in the last few years and I am so glad for each of them! Some have not been easy. at. all.  But I wouldn’t change where it has brought me.  I am not going back to the place that I was.  Instead, I am moving on with God’s help!  I’m anticipating what He will do next in me!  I have brought the outdoors in doors and the indoors out, so that we enjoy the beauty of nature in and around our home.  We have made our home a cozy place to live so we ourselves enjoy being here.  We have a contented life.  That is very important to me.

DSC_0259-1What about you?  Is there something bugging you that you need to take action on?  Is your legacy building a life well-lived?    I know I want my life to reflect those ideals.  I want to be used of God.  I want my home to reflect what God has blessed us with, and part of that is a feeling of warmth and love to every guest who enters our home.  I want to be gracious in hospitality.  I want my home to be a place of refuge to dial down and feel comfortable from the time someone walks through my door to the time they depart.  That does my heart good.🙂

Is God calling you to some changes or adjustments?  Are you willing?  Maybe you have made some?  I would love to hear from you regarding your thoughts concerning a life well-lived.  Blessings!

Walking the journey with you…

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Fall Is Here…Are You Ready?

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The other day was the first day of Fall.  Everyone put out their greetings for Happy First Day of Fall!  I, for one, am very glad of the changing season and all for it.  I much prefer the cooler weather, as I have mentioned before.  But the colors are beginning to be amazing, and pictures show the beauty of changing leaves and colors all around us.

What about our own personal seasonal changes?  Do we have seasonal changes?  Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter?  I think we do.  We have times in our lives where the change might be in hiding like the winter and then as we grow in the season of our life, we see changes springing up like Spring and new life begins to show up.  We blossom.  Although Fall comes where we see the changes more evident, I think it’s easy to see how we can mirror the seasons in our seasons of life.  What about that summer season?  Well, I know that I have had times in my life where I was put on the hot seat and it got pretty warm!  Fortunately, we can go the Water source for our supply to cool us down.  But can you begin to see how these seasons can remind us of our personal seasons in life?
Are you in a season of change in your life right now?  Do feel the cool of winter coming on and you feel likeIMG_2913 your branches have been pruned back so far your are they losing your grip on your life right now?  Maybe the fog has rolled in and you can see clearly what’s ahead.

I know for me, this last year has been a season of change in my life.  However, I have come to realize that I can sometimes feel change coming on and I know I’m in for an adventure!  I don’t know what is going to happen, but I know something is in the works.  How do I know that?  Because I have a relationship with Jesus.  I know Him well enough through my relationship with Him, that I can trust Him with the change He is bringing into my life. I know it is going to enhance my life, as well as, draw me closer to Him.  He has “new things” to show me.  His mercies are new every morning.  That means each day I am given the grace to face what my life brings, if I choose to accept it.  If I sit around and feel sorry for myself because all my leaves are falling off, and I’m open and bare to those around me, or even just within ME, then I lose all the work He is quietly doing through my winter struggles.  I won’t see the growth and benefit of Spring growth!  Just as I like the Fall and winter and spring seasons because they are cooler, I also enjoy those personal seasons also.  I have come to understand that each one has meaning for me and builds on the next; from glory to glory, as God tells us.

IMG_2857As I navigate through the “falling off” in my move further from my kids, grandson, and family and church family, He is drawing me closer to Him.  He has given me NEW things.  He has given me a new environment.  He has also set me apart, to have fewer distractions.  He will do that sometimes to finally get our attention.  However, I believe that He has new endeavors for me to involve myself.  He may be leading me to the point where He wants to do NEW things through me. Now THAT isn’t a new thing…He always wants to do new things through me.  I know He works through those who are willing to be used.  Now that is exciting!  It’s scary at times.  It’s lonely at times.  But He is never separated from me, unless I separate myself from Him.  He speaks through His Word, through people around me, and He may speak to another person’s heart to invite me to be involved in a “new thing”.  I just need to be willing to be obedient when He gives me something to do.

So…I am looking forward to falling leaves and changing colors.  Even the winter season where I can settle in on a cool evening and read or do what will grow my life through the leafless, bare branch times, and help me come out in the Spring with new thinking, new ideas, all new creative ways to live my life for Jesus, and even people to do that life with!

Here is a photography thought photo for you:

XT1In photography editing, you can have something called a filter or preset that is used to enhance your photo.  One click or maybe two, and supposedly, your picture is better.  Click and done.  Boom!   But God isn’t a one-click-and-done kind of God.  He wants to keep molding us until we go home to heaven.  He adds light where it may be dark.  He will give contrast in order to enhance what we see.  He will give clarity so we can see clearly what He desires us to see.  He can blur some of the hurtful things so they aren’t so much a part of our picture.  However, I would like to suggest that you don’t set your life and thinking on a preset.  You would be limiting what God wants to do in you by a click-and-done fix.  Give Him full access.  Let Him give you the settings.  The view through His viewfinder is SO much better.  He has a mega zoom lens and can see the end from the beginning.  He wants a life for you better that anything you can imagine.

I would encourage you not to look at this season of Fall in the same way again after reading this post.  Let the leaves fall.  It’s a good thing.  Remember something is falling off, so that, new growth will come.  Look at this time as a time of change.  Let winter come, because Spring and new growth are on the way!

Walking the journey with you…

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Hello? What Did You Say?

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Today is Sunday, and I am sitting here with my laptop out on the picnic table, my mocha sitting on the table next to me, and the soft winds are blowing.  What a great afternoon!  I love what I’m hearing…quiet.  So I thought I would share a few words about what I heard today in church.  It really struck a chord in me and I hope it gives you pause for thought and changes the way you “hear” also.

I have heard many different ideas about hearing the voice of God.  But today it really made me think about the hear AND the doing.  We sometimes want that hotline to heaven to tell God what we want in our life.  But the truth of the matter is, we need to answer the hotline FROM God when He calls us.  He knows what is best for us.  My pastor, Doug Cotton, talked about the fact that “the greatest thing we can do for God is to listen to Him.”  Our reality is that we ask God to change our life, or circumstances, instead of listening for what it is that God may be asking US to change.  He probably tried to tell us some things, but we didn’t hear it or didn’t obey it, and then we live out the consequences of those decisions or disobedience.

I have heard speakers talk about God pursuing us, and then I have heard some who say God doesn’t pursue us, we pursue Him.  Well…do we???  Do we pursue relationship with Him?  Do we spend time with Him?  After all, how do we get to know someone if we don’t spend time in their company?  We might be able to have a general conversation, but the deep things will not get discussed.  Why?  Because we don’t know the person well enough to trust them with our “stuff”.  But what happens when we DO get to know them, or they have been our friends for years and years?  We can talk to them about the hard stuff, the struggles, and the questions.  We trust them.  When your kids call, you know their voice.  When you call your pet, your pet knows your voice and comes.  We know when our friends or family calls us because we recognize their voice.

It is the same with God.  We have to know Him, know He answers, know He cares, and know Him wellIMG_7572 enough to recognize His voice, so that, we can respond to Him and what He may be doing in our lives or wants us to do in the lives of those around us.  We need to recognize His voice in His Word.  As Pastor Doug said today, “We need to listen and act on His behalf.  We need to steward the Word of God.  The closer you listen, the closer to God you get.”

So here is the kicker for you.  We are responsible for how we hear.  Pastor Doug said today, “We are responsible for manage what we hear and how we hear it.”  I don’t know about you, but that was a light coming on in my mind that I have to be more diligent in that area.  Here is an example:  maybe God spoke to your heart to buy a person’s coffee, and you thought, “That’s kind of embarrassing to do that God. I don’t even know that person.”  Or you might think, “Things are a little bit tight right now God.  I don’t have a lot of extra.”  But when we obey, we put our circumstances in God’s hands and trust Him to take care of the details.

So…we come back to that same question.  ARE we listening to Him?  And then the bigger question is, are we obeying what we hear?  Boy!  How many blessings have we missed out on because when God wanted to use us to bless someone, we didn’t obey.

There are many voices out there in the world to listen to.  We can get tuned out to God’s voice too if we aren’t careful.  We are either with Him or not.   I am challenging you with this post to tune in.  Dig deeper.  Lean in closer and get to know the whisper of God.  Let Him know you can be depended on.  I will leave you with one last quote from today’s message from Pastor Doug, “One of satan’s names is ‘thought caster’.”  Now if THAT doesn’t cause you pause, you better get to the end of this post and grab your Bible.  He wants to interrupt our thoughts and messages from God and twist them all up.  He wants to cause us to doubt ourselves and not move forward.  He loves to render us ineffective.  Watch out!

IMG_5689Challenge up!!!  Unlock the door of your time schedule, to open the door to some great communications.  I have found that the more time I spend with God, the more time I WANT to spend with Him.  Get into some quiet time with God, so that, you can hear His voice loud and clear!  However, then… the BIG step is, obeying what you hear God speaking!  You will know through various ways that you are on the right track.  What are a few?  Here are a few I heard from today’s message:

  • Circumstances change
  • Counsel – seek out a few people to talk to
  • You have peace
  • Dreams and Vision
  • The Bible
  • Whispers from the Holy Spirit
  • Asking God to confirm His message – this is one of mine but I ask Him to do that, He does.

We can get in the habit of listening to our own voice…that’s not good.  Remember, God will confirm through some of the above ways, that you are hearing Him and not yourself.  If we aren’t aware of where our thoughts come from, we open the door for satan to add his two cents, which is never good.

I am very thankful to be attending where I have the freedom to come and worship and get great timely messages to implement into my life.  I always want to grow and become more and more of what God wants me to be.  I hope that is also true for you.

What has God been whispering to your heart?  Does this resonate with you?

Walking the journey with you…

PS  I just enjoyed seeing a deer cross our back lawn, and two blue birds with black heads that were absolutely gorgeous walking across the yard to the trees!  Yes…enjoying the moment.

PPS  I have started writing over at http://www.heartandsoulescapes.com with a completely different format.  I hope you will cruise on over and check it out!

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A Dream Come True

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What did you do on this Labor Day Weekend?  It is some times a fun time with family before school starts, last camping for a while, maybe BBQ, or maybe it is a day to kick back with NO labor.  But, it is always a nice time when you have a three-day weekend!  So…Happy Labor Day to each and every one of you!

Dreams DO come true!!!  Today, I wanted share with the you the importance of not giving up on a dream.  We all have them whether we verbalize them or not.  For myself, I speak them out whenever possible, but I also write them down.  I have a book that I keep with my current year’s goals and dreams tucked away in it.  Do you know that I was told in my prayer time going into this year?  I was told that we would have a great year.  But, it would also be a year of change.  A great year?  What does that mean?  What does it look like?  I didn’t get specifics.  I just had to trust what He said was true.

From the time I was little, I have always had goals and dreams.  I did little jobs to earn money.  When I was almost old enough (they let me start early because I was eager to make some money), I picked strawberries and earned enough for school supplies that I could pick out.  In upcoming years, it was a new bike, clothes for school, or whatever else I needed.  It was a help to my parents too because they didn’t have to buy that item or items.  Times were hard for them.  So I have always been focused on working for what I wanted and needed.  I am not likely to give up on something that I feel is important or something I would like to achieve.  But one thing that always accompanies my goals and desires is, prayer.  I pray over those goals.  I pray for change, understanding, wisdom, things I desire for my family and their goals, and just about anything that involves my life or environment.  It is just what I do.

So here I am in 2016…God spoke to my heart this year about this being a great year and a year of change.  Here are just a few thoughts regarding changes:

  • Directed to Study, even more
  • Major financial decisions
  • Felt strongly that we needed to move to a place of calm and quietIMG_4151
  • Get back even more to enjoying our surroundings
  • Sold our house
  • Finding a quiet place to live
  • Many challenges in the purchase and selling of our home
  • A major move
  • Problems with our financial lender
  • Death of many friends and family
  • God drawing me to a more simple life
  • Living in peace in my home and life
  • Preparing for our retirement years
  • God’s provision in answered prayers in our finances
  • Our commitment to tithe in a way we hadn’t done before
  • Call to spiritual change and challenge in both of our lives
  • Feel impressed to prepare our lives for what may come
  • Bring back more music into my life
  • Pray faithfully when asked
  • Pray diligently for my family and friends
  • Get into a regular “heart dropping” this month which has gotten a bit more slow
  • A prayer answered in one area of my family

IMG_4083All while these challenges and changes were happening this year,  I felt God telling us to be faithful.  New things were coming, but we must be faithful with our current situation.  So we have.  We have managed to do some of the things we wanted and most of the things we felt God calling us to do.  We have made decisions together and asked God to lead us in those decisions.  It hasn’t been easy.  In fact, it has been really hard at times.  Timing…there is that THING that we have to keep turning over to God.  I am getting better at that, but I haven’t arrived.  I am so grateful God is patient about that.  We keep moving forward.  We prayed that we would be faithful to accept and live in God’s timing.  When it didn’t happen, maybe we just had to accept it won’t happen.  When we get to that point of turning it over, then it allows God to work.

All that to share how faithful God has been as we come into Fall of this year.  It is totally exciting to me!  Something that I have wanted, dreamed of and prayed about for many years.  In fact, every

time I saw one, I would shout out there goes my _____!!!  What is that you ask??!?!??  My Mini Cooper!  Yesterday, I drove home my dream car…. my Mini Cooper that was  years in waiting for. When I quit worrying about it happening, God carefully worked out the details for it to become a reality, and to show His faithfulness for what He told me at the beginning of the year.  I believe God wants us to be blessed.  I don’t believe it is about just things either.  I don’t feel that way about my car.  I have had many clunkers in my day, believe me.  But I drove what I had and was happy to have them.  So now, God graciously worked out for me to have my dream.  I am very thankful!  I loved my Lime Squeeze and she served me well.  However, I am thrilled to have this sweet little car to drive!

Now, before you get excited about God blessing with “things”, I want to say that God will bless us with His love anytime we are willing to accept it.  He will provide us with what we need, but He is a God who will also bless us with things we want too.  He blesses us so we can be a blessing.  When we are faithful with little, He is will bless us with much.  Not always “stuff”, but He may also bless us with our family, our good health, our friends to walk through life with, or maybe someone who is a great mentor in our lives.   We have been blessed this year so that we in turn can bless others that He brings our way.  Yes.  I believe that everything I have or will have comes from the Lord.  I believe that with my whole heart.  So every time I get in my car, I thank Him for it.  What a wonderful way to be reminded of what God can do.  I kept believing no matter what the circumstances looked like.  He completely provided for our present circumstances.  Everything that we are doing in our home as well.  But we are to do something with it…use it for His glory.  All of it.  We are willing to do that.  We are extending our gratitude by tithing what He has given us.  I  believe He likes to see us turning our life over to Him…in everything.  I want my home to feel welcoming and a safe haven.  I believe that is what God wants for our home, but He wants that in our lives as well.

I share this to encourage you to press forward with what is on your heart.  I’m not saying He will give you a car, or even things.  But I do believe He speaks to us differently, and so I remain open to BIG things but I serve a BIG God.  You know what your heart desires.  He will make a way when there is no other way.  Keep your eyes on Him.  This isn’t about my Mini.  It’s about a faithful God who loves me and shows me in all kinds of ways that He does.  And you know what?  It’s God’s Mini.  I am just blessed to use it.

What is your heart pondering?  Tell Him.  Ask Him.  Ask Him to show you.  He is faithful.  He loves to hear your heart’s desire confirmed in prayer.  Why?  Because it just may be Him who placed that desire in that spot of your heart, and now that you have turned it over to Him, He can move.  He customizes His stamp for each of us.  I pray you come to recognize His stamp in your life.

What dreams are you praying about?  How can I pray for you?

Walking the journey with you…

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P.S.  If you would like to share in the name selection for my Mini, please leave your ideas in the comments.  Might be something special IF your name is chosen.

 

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

IMG_5290Here I am finally back at my computer!  I have missed you all and my writing.  But my house has been in a constant state of change now for almost ten months and I am certainly ready for it to settle down.  But that isn’t going to happen for a while.  So… what do you do when life doesn’t go as you planned?  Let’s chat about that for a few minutes.

  • I have lost some great people in my life this last year and many of them unexpected.
  • I have had a move, and that wasn’t something we had been planning either.
  • Circumstances changed and here I am.
  • I have packed a house and unloaded into the new house and found many “oops” that weren’t planned and had to be fixed.
  • I have bought a vehicle, that soon after, required work.
  • I have unexpected expenses again and again in our selling and purchasing of homes.
  • I have just completed putting most of our possessions away, and now I have to “undo” a lot of it to ready the house for window installations at the end of the month.

It never seems to go as we think it will go, even with all the planning in the world.  But I am getting a chance to practice how I deal with it.  Here is a most recent example.  We are making changes in our home and some have been completed.  But as we plan, we find that one area leads to another, that leads to another.  We have our son here doing the work, and so we have to work around when he can be here.

IMG_5295So enter stage left…flooring.  What we wanted will take at least two weeks to get in, and he can’t come back for that, so we have to change our thinking.  We found some flooring at a great price, less than $1.00 a sq ft!  So that was a big savings!  Not the flooring I really wanted, but it was WAY less and it was available for purchase.  Also, my son can install it while he is here.  Next, we look for flooring in our kitchen and dining room.  I wanted wood floors but wasn’t sure how practical it would be for us.  With that in mind, I was going to get vinyl that looked like wood plank.  Well, that can’t happen either because of the special order details. *Sigh*It takes at least two weeks to get it.  So…I have to change to something that I didn’t plan on getting.  However, they have the amount we need, so we changed mid-stream, and are getting what is available and will match the flooring we got on sale pretty close.  Are you getting the picture?  We can plan for what we want, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  For us, money is a factor, and having someone who can do the work is another BIG factor.  We have decided we have to be flexible and change mid-stream if we want to accomplish our home renovations, and have someone to do the installation.  As it turns out, this is a nice alternative that is a wood product.

I can’t always have what I want, no matter how much I would want it.  In this case, I choose to look at it as an opportunity to change it up, and make it look nicer than it was, and have most of the look I want.  I could be picky and say I’m not doing that.  I could spend more money than what is wise just to get my way.  But, then other areas would not get completed.

I think this is a perfect example of life.  We expect our lives to go a certain way. IMG_5283

  • Have this kind of house.
  • Have this kind of furniture.
  • Have this type of job.
  • Drive this kind of car.
  • Always have our family and friends around us.
  • Our kids will follow the Lord.
  • We will never say some of the things that our parents said.
  • Travel to many places.
  • Have lots of fun.
  • Expect that we will get up tomorrow and our friends and family will be there.
  • Expect that if we work, we should be able to have what we want, in most cases.

However, that is not always the case.  So when I feel like I am compromising once again, I realize I am acting out of selfishness.  God has been gracious to me and provided so many blessings!   So, I give myself a spiritual spanking and I decide once again to change how I look at it.  I decide to take the changes willingly.  God knows the future and He knows what is best.  I will choose to trust Him in ALL things.  If I do, I believe God will put His stamp of approval on my efforts to spread our finances around to get the most done.  I want it to be comfortable and cozy.  After all, my home is His home.  He knows how it should look.🙂

IMG_2233It is the really same in other areas of my life too.  I don’t wait to tell people what they mean to me.  There may be changes in my tomorrow which make that impossible.  Do you have situations in your life where it hasn’t gone as planned and you have to adjust your approach and come back in for a better landing?  Practice makes perfect is a saying we are all familiar with.  I don’t agree.  There isn’t a “perfect”.  But, the willingness to keep practicing makes something closer to it, a lot easier to achieve.  I know it isn’t easy, believe me.  Everyday brings another opportunity for me to practice it.  But overall, I am willing to pull up my landing gear and go for another approach.  He allows U-Turns.  He does.  I love that about Him!  He knows the end from the beginning.  Phew!!!  Aren’t you glad?

Walking the journey with you…

 

Update:  Yep!  That great flooring for only $.90 a sq ft just became $2.00.  What we were told when we bought it, turns out not to be true.  It would be nice if the people working with the product, KNEW their product.  So up came the vapor barrier, and down with the glue.  Hence, in increase in price per sq ft.  Advice:  Good deals aren’t always good deals, and our plans don’t usually go like we think they should.  Breathe…

Speaking By Heart

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My friend Shizu is on the far left, and next to her is two granddaughters, and then her daughter-in-law, and then her other granddaughter. The two granddaughters on either side of the daughter-in-law are twins. The granddaughter standing next to Shizu, is the youngest.

It has been a couple of days since I received the message via MeWe, that my very sweet friend passed away.  It was a big blow to my heart.  She had been fighting something like leukemia in months passed, and I had put out a prayer request for her.  She improved, went to rehab to gain strength, and then home.  That was the last communication I had IMG_4936for a while.  I moved and schedules were crazy for us.  But, I hadn’t heard anything negative about her health and so I just kept praying for her healing.  So when I received this message from her son, I was shocked to get this news.  It once again reminds me that I should never put off those “feelings” like I should make a phone call, send a message more often, or write an email.  I had sent messages, but they didn’t receive them because with everything going on, they weren’t staying in touch.  She passed away May 31st, and her son just sent me the message last week.

So, I know for me the process of healing begins with putting my thoughts on paper, so to speak.  I am in hopes that some of what I share will touch your hearts as well, and encourage you in friendship and act of staying connected.

Our relationship started with a sister school program that her home town high school started with the high school I was working at during this time.  I was coordinating home stays for a local program, and I was very excited about students having an opportunity to learn directly by interaction with Japanese students, and also by visiting Japan and learning about the culture for themselves.  So when the school was looking for a sister school, I approached our principal about getting involved.  He was in agreement of the idea and a relationship began.  When we took our first group of student to their school, I was the coordinator for the program and led the home stay in Japan.  My friend Shizu, was my host family. And so…begins a deep abiding relationship between Shizu and I.  I believe the first year we took students to Japan was in 1993.  We had accepted their students a few times prior to this trip.

However, Shizu spoke no English.  Although as is common, they can usually make themselves understood, but they don’t like using the English because they might say it wrong.  I relate.  I didn’t speak much Japanese, although, I had been studying on my own for about a year.  I spent many special meetings teaching the students basic Japanese language and culture.   I could speak basic polite statements and daily living conversation.  But to have a conversation, talk with our hearts, I was concerned and wished so much I knew more of the language.  But this taught me the most valuable experience of my life…we can communicate with our hearts whether we know the language or not.  Shizu and I communicated late into the night each night.  Do you know how we did it?  A dictionary!  She had hers, I had mine.  I about wore one brand new dictionary out the first time I was there, and later, while I stayed at her house various times, it got more of a workout.  We laughed, told jokes, learned about each others’ lives.  We became best friends.

The first stay was so awesome!  I cried all the way to America I think when we left.  I was asked at that time, to stay and teach English.  I would have loved to have done that, but this was not the time to do that with small children.  One of the students who went on the homestay felt the same about her experience on the trip.  I was to be the adult and comfort her.  We comforted each other through our tears of sadness that day on the plane as we left our friends behind.  We didn’t know if we would see each other again.

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Saw this lily and it made me think of her.

I was a part of her family.  I spent a lot of fun times with her son.  He actually came to the states and I arranged for a great time for him while he was here.  I got to meet her mother, her brother and son, and they had as many questions as she did.  I met her best friends.  But there again, the dictionary could speak what I was unable to speak.  We understood each other.  I stayed at her home several times.  My middle son came with me one year, and my youngest a few years later.  I took my brother one year also and he stayed with one of my exchange students during the homestay time.

Here are some special memories I have with Shizu.

  • I loved a chocolate bread that her bakery in her town made.  Each time I came, she had already made the purchase so I could have it for breakfast.
  • l loved Japanese watermelon so it was always in the fridge when I came.
  • I love Okonomiyaki, which is like a pancake batter that you add cabbage, sometimes egg, and then shrimp was what we used, and a fish base to the batter, mixed and then put it on a griddle like you would a pancake.  In Japan, there are many different shops and they make them in various ways.  There was one particular shop that she liked and took me there, and it quickly became my favorite.  Every time I visited, we managed to get into that shop to eat.
  • She included us when we came at Christmas in the giving of money, which is a tradition for kids to receive at Christmas.
  • She knew things I liked, and we shopped for those things.  I had some clothes she purchased for me and I wore them all out, except one blouse.  I love their clothes because they are very feminine and styles we don’t see here in the U.S.
  • She was concerned for me, when a student was short on money while in Japan, and I helped the student, so she gave me a gift of money so I wouldn’t be short for the trip.  She wouldn’t have known except she was involved closely in the program and found it out.
  • She had a great voice and I loved listening to her sing at karaoke.  I loved going when I was there.
  • We would talk on the phone and be patient with me as we figured out what she was saying.
  • She wrote me letters in Japanese so I could practice my Japanese.
  • She shared her struggles in life with me.  I loved that since that isn’t really their culture to do that.
  • She would teach me to cook,  Didn’t even get upset with me, when for a dinner that included tempura shrimp, I thought she said don’t leave the tails on, and she really meant leave them on.  She did laugh that time as she put them on the plate for guests who were coming for dinner.  It was a great story over dinner that night for her too.
  • I brought her some Caffe DeVita the first year and we had a mocha together.  She asked for it each DSC_0259-1
    time I came.
  • She was such a lady, and very gracious.  Her hospitality was above and beyond.

She wanted to come to America, but was afraid.  At my suggestion,  she invited two other ladies to come with her.  I picked these excited ladies up from the airport.  I had the joy of my life sharing American life with her.  Taking them around see so many things they had only seen in pictures.  Trying different food.  Shopping and more shopping.  My dad was even the van driver for some of the excursions!  He had a good time and they certainly enjoyed him!  I loved paying back with the love and experiences now that it was I who had the ability to share with them.

One night, when I was in Japan on the first stay, she asked me what I felt to be a very deep question and she was nervous to ask.  Her question?  “If something happened in the world and there was another war, and they told us we couldn’t be in touch with each other, would you try to reach me anyway, or would you not have any contact?”  Wow!!!  There was so much behind that question.  There were two other ladies visiting that night, and they eagerly waited for my answer.  I think you know my answer.  I told her, “That I would do whatever I could to find her and continue to be in touch with her.  Her friendship meant that much to me.”

IMG_4953We made a new history during the time I was there.  We loved deeply, took risks, and our lives were better for it.  We both found that we could communicate with our hearts and understand each other.  We were so much the same.  A good lesson to learn and remember.

I know many of you have had the experience of loss in your life.  What did or do you do to work through the process of grief?  I find honoring them to be the best way for me to continue going through.  What is your experience?

There were tears in the shower that morning I got the news, and there have been tears since.  I believe there will be more tears as I work through this time.  I will keep that little light burning for now.  But one thing I know.  I will never forget, my kids will never forget, and she will be forever…my best friend.

Walking the journey with you…