For Everything there is a Season…

I usually do any deep reflecting at the end of the year, after Christmas and right around the New Year’s celebrations.   That is when I think of the past year and ponder what the new year will bring.  That is the way I have done it for years and years (and if I was truthful, I would add another ‘and years’ to that statement).

So, it has been unusual for me to begin to reflect this early in the year.  This time of year is when I complain about the heat and the mosquitoes, if nothing else, I am a creature of habit. Specific things for specific times.

I have a great-niece (actually, I have six nieces that are great) but this is actually a great-niece as in my niece’s daughter,  hopefully that made sense.  She is a wonderful young woman, (as is her sister), and she recently graduated from high school.  Her Facebook posts reflect those of a recent graduate.  They are filled with emotion and excitement, determination, anticipation and mixed in with all of that, is a measure of uncertainty and if I am being truthful, fear.    This is an exciting time for her.  Her whole life is before her.  A vast hallway filled with open doors and adventures.  She is standing in the doorway, ready to embark on the rest of her life.

Yesterday hubby and I were having a conversation with some friends.  We were talking about our age and how quickly we came to the point we are.  We talked how we felt on the inside versus how we ‘looked’ on the outside.  It’s a conversation I have had several times in the past few years.  In fact, I find myself saying the same things while having these conversations.

This morning I woke up in a pondering mood.  I lay in bed as I thought of my life.  I really could see many opportunities that I passed on.  I realized that my vast hallway filled with open doors had many doors still open or halfway closed, all covered in cobwebs for not being used.  I wondered if I regretted not exploring them.  As I dressed for the day listening to my creaking joints and looking at my gray hair, it occurred to me that, yes, I am as old as I look, no matter how young I may think I am.

I know these were deep thoughts for a Monday morning, but, when my mind starts a journey of thought, I determine that I will see it through, with or without my first cup of coffee.

A couple of songs went through my mind.  The first, by the Byrd’s , “Turn, Turn, Turn”  and then just a snippet of Frank Sinatra’s classic, “I did it my way”  But, for the latter, the only phrase that stuck in my mind was “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”.

There were two things I took away from my morning musing which, obviously I am going to share with you.   The first, I did not explore all that was available to me, but, I would not travel back down that vast hallway just to see what I missed.

Secondly, each part of our life is a new season.  Each part of our life finds us at the doorway of a hallway.  That hallway may not be as long as what it was when we were freshly out of school, but, nevertheless, it is a hallway filled with open doors.  We each have new things to discover and explore.  New adventures await.  So, by this afternoon, this white-haired, creaky lady, who still feels like she is eighteen, albeit a very slow-moving eighteen year old is about to take a step from the doorway into her hall.

I also leave you with a quote from Ecclesiastes, which is where the song mentioned above came from.  This is Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 from the New Living Translation.   It sort of sums up how I am feeling on this Monday afternoon.   11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Thank you for stopping by today, hope you are having a good day.   Cathi (DAF)

 

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Weeding…

When we bought our first home there was no landscaping in place except for a small patch of grass in the front yard with a lone star-pine tree planted there.  I loved the star pine, Hubby did not.  It did not last long in the front yard and eventually the landscaping never truly took hold.  It was a thorn in my side the entire time we lived there.

When we were looking for our new home, landscaping was a must for me.  I wanted landscaping in place and that was one of my must have’s.

We found our home and yes, it was landscaped.  We found our home almost three years ago next month.  The front yard was covered in leaves, but, underneath you could see spring appearing in the form of daffodils, irises, crocuses, and hyacinths.  I was thrilled!  In the back yard in back of the pool was a large area garden.  It was overgrown, but, I was certain it would be an easy fix.  Ahhh… the dreams of a potential homeowner!

That garden has been the bane of my existence since we moved in.  The first summer I did nothing to it.  It was fascinating to see what bloomed and where.  During the winter I cut back some things and discovered things that had been hidden.  A rose-bush, some ground cover, a few trees.    But, I never quite got complete control of the area.

This month I went into the yard.  Garden gloves on my hands.  Loppers and clippers were my weapons of choice.  I made the decision, anything higher than 18 inches was gone.  I know.  I know I have just made gardeners cringe.  I have just made gardeners gasp in horror.  I attacked this area.  No more ‘Mr. Nice Guy’.  I started at the edge and worked my way into it, tackling sections at a time.  I am still not done.  There are still some things that are as tall as me standing.  But, not for long.

I pulled things up from their roots.  I have tossed them into a big pile of debris.  I have cut back trees, hoping some will return stronger and not caring if others ever show themselves again.  I am determined to see what exactly is in that garden.  To start at the bottom and see what survives and what can be transplanted.

It has been therapeutic for me.  I am seeing something accomplished.  I am seeing what lays beyond the glancing eye.    I am digging down and pulling out the dead stuff, the weeds that have taken hold and died and covered the fragile green things underneath.

Yes, I have found a spiritual lesson in this all.  How often have I allowed dead things to cover me up?  How many times have I left things blocking my new growth?  How many times have I allowed things in my life to be smothered by things that are decaying?

Yes, I do know that this is still January and some of what I am uncovering is going to be exposed to the cold of the rest of winter, but some of this needs to be exposed, to get the light, to get the air and get the chance to breathe.   Myself included.

I am always amazed by this time of year.  It is still winter, but there are signs of spring.  Tiny green shoots.  Soft green leaves.   An image of hope that contrasts the bare trees and the dormant grass of the yards.

Being outside, working, pulling things both in the garden and in my body, I am filled (not only with aching muscles) with hope.  For each year spring comes.  It comes for me also.  New growth.  New hope.  New adventures.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Hope your day is filled with a hint of spring.   Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

And time marches on….

It’s been two months since I last wrote on my blog.  Truthfully, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long, and I had to check my stats to actually prove to myself that it has been.

Two months, eight weeks, sixty some days, more hours than I care to figure out.  It is time and it has passed by.

In this time I have spent time with friends.  Had meals out with friends.  Cleaned my house several times.  Done a ton of laundry (well, not really, it just seems that way).  Ironed for several hours (which I really do not mind).   I have gone on a women’s retreat at the beach.  I have written and taught a Bible Study.  I have made holiday plans for both Thanksgiving, and Christmas and New Year’s.   I have even addressed most of my Christmas cards and started to plan our neighborhood party.

Time passes.  Seasons fly by.  Our area has been hit with two tornadoes.  The green leaves have changed to bright colors and have started to fade and fall all over.  The last of our tomatoes have been brought indoors and we watch them wondering if they will ripen any more.

The holly berries have appeared and the camellia’s are budding, waiting for the holidays to come so they can start to bloom.  Soon the birds will perch on the holly trees ridding them of the bright red berries.

And time marches on.  Seasons continue to pass.  The sky gets dark earlier and the cold sets in then.  It is the beginning of winter and I am happy for that.  I have started to decorate for Christmas already.  I have never done this this early before and have found myself enjoying it more than I imagined.  Somehow, it brings a sense of settling in.  A sense of preparation for Christmas.  A feeling of not rushing to do it all and trying to grasp the joy of it all.  A feeling of looking forward to not only the gift giving, surge of activity, but of actually thinking of what Christmas is.   I can look at the angels and think of the host of angels that appeared over that manger.  I can look at the trees that are up and decorated and think of the people who will gather around them and be grateful and so thankful for them.

Yes, time is marching on and there is a peace to all of it.  Thanks for stopping by.  I do appreciate it.  Cathi (DAF)

God’s Artistry….

Our home is surrounded by woods, in our backyard and across the street.  It is amazing and peaceful.

Each morning as I take the dog to the back yard to let him roam and do his business, I look at the woods behind the house. I repeat a verse of my favorite poem by Robert Frost, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” .   Each morning the stanza, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  But, I have promises to keep.  And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”  This echoes in my thoughts and has become a sort of prayer for me.  I look at the woods, hear this verse and then ask the Lord that I make the most of my day and keep the promises I have made to others, knowing that there are many hours before I go to sleep.

This morning as I stood looking at the woods,  I could hear our stream flowing, and the wind rustling through the trees.  I realized that I could see a pathway through the woods today, which has always been there, but, is hidden well during the summer months.

I came inside thinking about this. God is an amazing artist.  Each season He paints masterpieces for us to enjoy daily.  During the summer, He uses a palate of greens and blues.  The woods are deep green, hiding the browns and grays of the bark of the trees.  The green overtakes everything and somehow all I focus on is the brilliant shades of green surrounding me.  The summer months remind me of a sauna.  Not one of my favorite things.  They are hot and stifling.  Being  outside in the summer is hard for me.  I work outside and enjoy what I am doing, but, I do have to concentrate hard and in doing so, I miss much of the surrounding beauty there.  In summer the colors have feeling to them.  Each breath you take in the summer, to me, is inhaling the blue of the sky, the green of the grasses and the trees.  Summer invades me top to bottom.

Fall is breaking through now.  This morning reminded me of the fragile line that divides seasons.  You have to look for it, or you miss its gentle passing.  One day is hot and humid, the next is warm and breezy.  It’s that hint that comes gently into the air.  That hint that changes the palate from dark greens to greens that are slowly fading.  The greens of the trees are fading into yellow and rust, while leaves dance like confetti.   The sun teases the eye and you see things highlighted that you hadn’t seen for a while.   A path to the stream at the foot of the hill.  A bird house that usually blends into the trees, illuminated by an autumn sun.  A deer path across the street that invites your eye to follow as far as you can.

My imagination stirs in fall.  I see God’s handiwork and I get excited.  He is the original artist.  He created colors.  He created depth.  He created sound.  He created.  Today, as I took my dog out for his morning break, I walked into God’s gallery.  I felt the warmth of the sun, heard the whisper of the trees, saw the dance of the leaves and saw paths waiting to be walked.

 The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  But, I have promises to keep.  And miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.    Happy Fall.  Enjoy the masterpieces surrounding you today.   Cathi (DAF)

Junctures…

The sun shines different ways in winter and summer. We shine different ways in the seasons of our lives. ~Terri Guillemets

In April of 2013 I wrote a post titled “One is Silver…”.   I have thought of this post several times the last week or so.    It was one of those posts that was on my heart when I wrote it and one I think of often.

In it, I talked about friends, old, new and those whom I had just met.   Seasons move on and it is always fascinating to me to see how things change over the years.

Having just reread this post I smile as I realize those friends who I knew were going to move into a different part of my life, have.    I cannot imagine my life without them now.  They are a part of the vein of my life that gives breath and laughter to me.

There were some who were in an autumn phase of friendship, and now I  look back and realize that those friendships were not cared for and sadly, they are dormant.  Sometimes too much time passes and it is hard to renew and start over.  I store the memories in my heart and pray for them, but there is a mixture of resignation, regret and acceptance that this is where we are as friends.

Other friends are slipping into different categories and it intrigues me to see the changes.  It is like I am standing at one of those car wash facilities where you stand at a window and see your car progress through the line.  You see what is happening with the car, but, you are helpless if you notice a window is opened a crack.  You can see the damage slip into the car, but there isn’t anything you can do until the car travels to the end and you can grab a towel to get it dried.

Some friendships are that car with the open window.  You can see the crack in the window and know that something is going to happen.  It is like it is out of your grasp, but there is nothing you can do to change it at the moment.

No, I have never left a window open in a car wash, but, I have imagined it often.  I use it as an analogy for the purpose of this essay on friends.    Sometimes that crack is there, you see it, but, it really isn’t doing anything, so nothing changes.

Other times that crack can let everything fly through and you end up with all this debris thrown about inside.

In thinking of this with friends, I realize that sometimes that debris is necessary.  Change is necessary.  Reevaluation is necessary.   Growth is different in each of us.  A tree’s branches do not grow the same length all together.  Each limb has its own unique character.    It is the same with people.  They are part of your heart, part of your life, but often times life itself, and circumstances and health all get intertwined and friendships suffer.

The good ones are renewed in time.  They come back stronger, fuller.   The joy is greater, the laughter is louder and the heart is more comforted by the other.

Thank you for reflecting with me on friendships.  I appreciate your visit here.

 When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen

I will continue to think on my friendships.  I strive to be a true  friend,  for we need true friends in this world that is harsh and unfair and at times, unlovely.  So, to my friends, those silver, those gold, those who have a patina and those who are a bit rusty, know that my heart carries you with me.  You have helped to shape me into who I am and for that, I am grateful.  As the season of autumn approaches, know that I am here.  A little bare of leaves, as it were, and a little exposed, but rooted down in the bonds that tie us together.  Thank you for being you.  Cathi (DAF)

Thinking on Disappointment…

I have been battling disappointment.  Someone has let me down and it has blindsided me so completely I have not been able to wrap my mind around it.

The truth is, that it isn’t the first time I have experienced disappointment from this person.  But, I usually can just look at the situation and get over it.  For some reason, this time is different.

I try my best to not be a disappointment.  My daughters have always told me that the worst thing I could ever say to them is that I was disappointed.  Although I have said it to them at times, they could never disappoint me.  The joy and life they bring to my heart is a constant source of peace to me.

That is one reason why I have struggled with this.  This evening after dinner hubby and I were talking about things on our hearts and mind.  I started to verbalize, for the first time in weeks what I was struggling with.  He listened intently and gave me wise counsel, which I have mulled over in my mind.

So, since this is the place where I am honest with myself, I decided to write about it.    I am not looking for a resolution, but, I needed to write this out.  Mostly for me to see and know that this nagging feeling that has been pricking my heart has a name and a reason.    It is disappointment.

A quote I found sums it up for me: “Nothing hurts more than being disappointed by the person you thought would never hurt you.”    I found this on Iliketoquote.com.

DAF

 

 

Shadows…

It’s only the beginning of August, I know.  But, somehow, during this past week there has been a change.

As I sit and look out to our screen porch, I notice the shadows.  The room is not filled with sunlight like it was just a week ago.  This morning, it is filled with lazy shadows.  The sun has cast its light on the trees and bushes around the house and it filters long and lazy shadows on the screen.  When I went out earlier, it was warm and humid, but not like it was.  There is that ever faint, ever timid feeling that fall is coming soon.

I know school is about to start and families are stocking up on school supplies and clothes, but summer is hanging on, trying to get the last few weeks of swimming and gardening and weeding and sweating out of us.

I love days like this, where you still want to put on a swimsuit, but are also tempted to find a cozy corner and sip something with winter spices in it.  I love when the Lord  gives you a suggestion of the next season all the while keeping it the current one.  It’s a day of smiles at how seasons pass.

Me?  On this glorious day that hints of fall and feels like summer?  I am sitting with my jeans on sipping a wonderful iced coffee.   Hope you enjoy your weekend.  I think I will.  Thanks for stopping by, DAF (Cathi)

Uncovering…

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The front yard before moving in

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The driveway

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Another front yard view

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Our gazebo in the front yard

I have not shared pictures of our home.  I had wanted to wait until it was completed and looked like a spread in a home and garden magazine.  I don’t think that will happen in the near future.

Everyone talks about the joys of home ownership and most of the time it is talked about sarcastically.  I confess, I have done that also.  This home, though, has made me smile.  Each morning I awake, open the drapes and smile when I look outside.  Yes, there is so much to do.  But, it is our home, and for the first time in our marriage, I feel like we are home.  We are no longer in transit.  We are no longer temporary, we are putting down roots and being planted here.

As you can tell from the pictures, there were lots and lots of leaves when we moved in.  We got to some of them last summer, but, we did not make a dent.  Then, autumn came and all those leaves were doubled.  It was beautiful, amazing and daunting all at once.  We joked with one another that raking would be our retirement entertainment.

This spring, we have started once more to uncover.  We uncovered a bit of the front yard by the driveway and discovered  three azalea bushes.  They were small and totally overwhelmed by the leaves.  We were thrilled at the discovery and wanted to see what else was here.

About a month ago, some dear friends came down from Pennsylvania to visit.  She brought me some plants from her gardens and together we planted flowers from home along with some dirt from our hometown.  I welcomed each plant and was thrilled to have combined our past with our future in these little plantings.  They have taken off growing and thriving, reminding me that we do bloom when we are planted where we are supposed to be.

We planted the plants by our gazebo, as they are spreading plants and I could picture them growing down the hillside there.  We raked and cleared a space for them.  Again, we uncovered several things.  Leading up to the gazebo is a stone path, buried and waiting to be discovered.  There were plantings there, hosta, sedum, saplings, all hidden and unable to grow.

Last week, our dear friends who are family came up.  She looked at the large garden by our pool and  gave me ideas for the garden.  It was the first time I could picture what to actually do in the garden instead of just weeding it, and being confused.  She helped identify things in the garden that I didn’t know.  I showed her what I did know and had learned from my friend from Pennsylvania.  Together we discovered more things that have been hidden and overwhelmed.

Yes, this home is a process.  We will spend several years uncovering and discovering.  It is a journey and an adventure.  What I have learned is I also discover lessons about myself.  Uncovering things that are hidden is a lifetime chore.  Each stage of our life reveals something we don’t know about ourselves.  I had thought when I reached my 60’s I would have arrived.  I would be exactly who I am supposed to be.  I am, to a point, but, there are things in me that I am still uncovering.  Areas of my life where I have let debris pile up, stunting growth and opportunity.  I am realizing as I rake and discover that there are places in my heart and mind that need to be raked and brought into the light.  Places that need to grow and discover their full potential.  This, too, will take time.  I may not know a lot about gardening and weeding, but I am learning as I go.

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF (Cathi)

Life Goes On…

This week saw news of celebrity deaths almost daily.  From my childhood the actor who played Grizzly Adams passed away.  Thought of Saturday evenings in my pajamas, freshly bathed and ready for church flashed through my mind.

David Bowie, my teen years, admiring his artistry, but, not really a fan.  But, his passing was sad.  Knowing that his music will never be fresh from his creativity.  I was saddened to hear that cancer took his life.

Alan Rickman, I will miss.  His characters were all people I either loved to hate, or I just loved.   I enjoyed the movies he made, and the characters he brought to life, he was a gifted actor and I am sad that I will no longer see new work from him.

All the families and friends of these people are in mourning.  We, as a public can read and feel some emotion and then go on with our lives.

Wednesday of this week there was another death I read about.  It is not one that was broadcast nationally.  I first found out on Facebook.  This death hit me hard and made me realize how very precious each life is.  The person who died was a two-year old boy.  I met his parents at a function this past fall.  They were in town from Michigan for a ministry they have started that raises funds for families hit by devastating illnesses.

We were relatively new to the community when we attended this evening.  We saw and met this couple and knew that they had children running around, but we actually did not know whose children were whose.  It was just a fun night.

Last month some friends from our church did a surprise trip to Michigan to see this couple.  They went up to celebrate the final adoption of a little boy this couple had fostered.  I looked at the pictures of this child.  There were smiles all around.  You just felt good looking at these pictures.  You knew it was a blessing in so many ways.

Wednesday afternoon this little boy was put down for a nap.  A nap he did not wake up from.  Today, I watched the funeral on a live stream.  Eloquent words were spoken, and emotions were obvious.   The parents were surrounded by people loving them, praying with them and supporting them.

I know they need all the support they can get now.  Their world is rocked to the core.  But, one thing was spoken during the service today that resonated deep within me.  One of the pastors stated that, and I know I will say it wrong, but basically he said, that this boy lived his whole life.  Even though his whole life was only two years.

He had lived his life.  His life touched people.  His life touched me and I just saw him one evening running around with several other children.  This got me thinking today, how much is my life touching others?

I started this post out talking about celebrities.  Their lives touched others though music, entertainment, movies.  They touched others in their personal lives.  Things we will never know about.  Their families too, are rocked to the core of their beings.   This little boy touched many people, all whom spoke and speak of his smile and his joy of life.

Life is precious.  Each day I am alive I realize a bit more how precious life is.  Since Wednesday all I have wanted to do is hug my grandchildren just to make certain they are okay.  I want to take time to chat with friends.  I want to make certain that, when it is time for me to meet the Lord that I will have touched and ministered to others who will be here.

Thanks for stopping by today and reading.  I do so appreciate it.  DAF

A Time to Look Back…

Today felt like fall.  There was a crispness in the air that made it seem like fall arrived.  It was wonderful.  The sun shone through the trees and it looked different than it did even yesterday.  Fall is making it’s appearance and I am excited.

This afternoon and into this evening, as I sat watching the sun makes it’s journey through the trees, I sat and watched old videos of Little Man.  He starts back to preschool tomorrow, an old pro now, going into the “big” kids class for the three-year olds.

I watched videos of him playing with his play-dough.  Looking at the shapes and telling me the numbers and letters he picked up.  There were videos of him eating, covered with berry juice, and one of him signing and asking for more “bluey’s”… his name for blueberries for a short while.

Earlier, I talked with hubby who is visiting Little Miss this week.  He held her while she was crying, trying not to go down for a nap.  Putting me on speaker, we both talked with her to extend her ‘awake’ time.

All of this made me realize how quickly time passes.  The seasons of the year fly by.  Soon, the leaves will be off the trees.  The sky will be gray.  Snow may fall.

Just as quickly, Little Man and Little Miss will grow even more.  Already Little Man talks to me about the presidents, their first ladies, and tells me about the countries that are on his map of the world.  His world expands daily.

Little Miss grins a toothy smile now.  She pulls herself up and will be walking within weeks.  Soon she will be like Little Man and telling me things she is learning.

A part of me wants time to slow down.  I want to cherish each moment.  But, I can’t slow things down, and honestly, I don’t want it to slow down.  Each season is an adventure, whether it is the changing weather outdoors, or the seasons of a toddler’s life.

I am grateful today.  Today I have spent the day in memories and thoughts of what is to come.  This I have thought all day, I am blessed.  God has been and continues to be good to me.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF