All Sunshine Makes a Desert

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“All sunshine makes a desert” ~ Arabian proverb  

Do you know people who seem to have sunny and mild temperatures every single day of their life?

There is one couple who have been in my heart for many years.  Through their own hard work and self-discipline, they have gone over and beyond even their own expectations. Their children are successful, bright and are very grounded. Investment ventures continue to grow monetarily. They have the financial means to give to others through scholarships and endowments at the university they graduated and they travel the world.  Social media and their website enable them to educate others.  They are involved in countless organizations bringing goodness into the lives of others.  Good health, strong faith and family ties, many friends, and a life sprinkled with lots of love and laughter grace their daily lives.  It appears they have been exempt from the dark, stormy days some of us have experienced.  The miles have seperated us, and we visit through Christmas cards, random phone calls or texts these days.  We travel in different circles and I often wonder if they have, in some small way, lost touch with what most people live everyday? I am sure they appreciate the sunny days of their life, but if they haven’t experienced the rainy days or the storms how can they possibly understand what it is like?  How would they manage if or when they are hit? To my knowledge they have not suffered any setbacks in their marriage, with their children, or in their businesses.  They are living examples of what a lot of us want to look back on our lives and see.

Perhaps they do not have as much to learn about life as I.  Perhaps they are learning lessons in ways which I cannot comprehend. Perhaps their lessons to be learned will come later.

As I look back over my life, I realize that my most important lessons were learned through the storms in my life ~ disappointments, mistakes and interrupted plans.

Through my suffering I was forced to make key choices.

It took a while, but I realize the rainy, even stormy times were needed to make the flowers in my life grow.

I learned to be flexible, less judgmental and more empathetic.  I learned to keep a level head and maintain a steady pace. I learned to duck from time to time and eventually tried to maintain a positive attitude as best I could.

If all you know are sunny days, how can you endure the glory and majesty of a mighty thunderstorm, the strength of a tornado, or the power of a hurricane?  You would never enjoy the magic and the beauty of a rainbow.

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“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1Peter 5:10

 

 

 

REaD Threads

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. ~ Chinese Proverb

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These are some of the lovely, intelligent women in my book club (two others were absent when this photo was taken).

The inspiration for our book club name is based on a wonderful children’s book The Red Thread written by, Grace Lin.  The story is based on an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects those who are destined to be together. The story is about adoption, but we thought it would be a great name for our little group.

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We celebrate Christmas.

We have quite diverse backgrounds ~ a former actress, an artist, teachers, and a realtor to name a few.

We hail from New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Oklahoma, California, Alabama, and both Virginias.

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We celebrate births!

We all love to read which is why we were attracted to each other in the first place.

We actually talk about the book that was chosen that month. Several of these books have caused us to step completely out of our comfort zone. (Which is a good thing.)

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We have lively book discussions.

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We do lunch and shop.

We have shared many things together over the past few years ~ deaths, births, joys and sorrows, much laughter and even a few tears (some of sorrow, but mostly laughter ~these gals are hilarious!)

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We play trivia, attend plays, and go to concerts.

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We celebrate our friendship.

This is a treasured time in our lives.  We all know that it will end one day, but for now we anticipate and enjoy this monthly meeting.  I am so very thankful that one of my red threads connected me with these absolutely wonderful women.

Fog

The weather today will be mostly sunny with mild temperatures and a very light chance of rain.”

That was the daily forecast of my life until the fog rolled in very unexpectedly.

The first line from Carl Sandburg’s poem “The Fog” states, “The fog comes on little cats feet.”

This is exactly how my fog arrived. It arrived in such a quiet and unsuspecting manner that I hardly took notice right at first. As the fog slowly grew thicker, I began to experience emotions and sensations that were completely foreign to me.

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I could hardly tell if it was night or day.

I had no sense of direction and nothing made sense.

I began to experience an ache in my heart that was almost too much to bear.  It was an ache so deep and came from a place inside which I never knew was there.

Day after day I cried and begged God for clarity and understanding. I wanted Him to carry me through this fog and bring me back into the warm sunlight and mild temperatures.

I felt ignored, forgotten, and misunderstood by the One who loved me the most.  I was hurt and angry.

Gradually, I began to hear His words, “Trust me.”

Over the years, as the fog began to slowly lift, I started to notice things I had not seen before.

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My renewed vision brought clarity, compassion, and comfort.  My days in the fog made me humble, more accepting, and (maybe?) a litter wiser.

Those foggy days taught me that you don’t always get what you want, and helped me  discover so much that I did not know I needed.

 James 1: 2-3  Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, for the testing of your faith produces patience.

Proverbs: 2-3  Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”  – Jagger/Richards

Savoring the Simple Joys

The classroom is abuzz with activity! Laughter and smiles are plentiful this morning and the energy level is high! Today is Valentine’s Day!

They arrived with their decorated boxes and valentines. The hallways are filled with students carrying bag of cards in one hand and assorted flowers or decorative boxes in the other. The much-anticipated day has finally arrived!

Some are so creative with their Valentine boxes!

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The simple joy and thoughtful gestures of hand-made cards and boxes of candy.

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Beautiful words of love that come straight from their hearts.

From the very simple to the more thought-provoking sentiments.

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The anticipation of opening the cards is almost too much for some of them, but they show great patience as they wait for the end of the day.

Then it is time! The smiles return and the chatter starts. “Thank you _____ for the card!” and “l love this type of candy” intermingle with the sound of tearing open envelopes and the cracking of the candy wrappers.

I am so blessed to have this opportunity to savor such joyful times through the eyes of the children in my classroom!

Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

A Rare Find

Since Valentine’s Day is approaching I just have to say a few words about my Valentine.

My husband has a way of making me feel good about myself and I think that is what attracted me to him in the first place. Ever since we met, I have told him how lucky I am to have him in my life.  I jokingly tell him I want the words “I’m so lucky” inscribed on my tombstone.

He respects me and my opinions.  Michael encourages me and he accepts me the way I am. For example, I squeeze the tooth paste in the center of the tube, he neatly rolls it up. My closet needs to be straightened every single week, and his stays neat all of the time. Sometimes when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning or after arriving home from working all day and see my disheveled reflection I always think and sometimes say to him,“Thank you for loving me!” 

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This is one of my favorite photos of M. taken about eight or nine years ago.  I love to see this sweet smile every single day!

Cooking dinner almost every night, making my lunch to take to work, massaging my feet in the evenings (yes, he really does this), and putting me first in all things are daily occurrences in our home.

He makes me laugh and is openly affectionate. Although he has his moments, he rarely complains about anything or anyone and is usually upbeat and positive.

My husband is truly unique and a one of a kind gem.

Ephesians 5:33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Savoring – Greenville, SC

“Yeah, that Greenville get ready to fall in love.”

Last Fall my husband surprised me with tickets to see an upcoming musical production (this month) for my birthday present.  The venue was the Peace Center located in Greenville, South Carolina.

Since this venue is about two hours from our house, we decided to drive over this past Saturday morning and spend the day reacquainting ourselves with this delightful downtown.  We made reservations at one of the hotels on Main Street because it was within easy walking distance to the venue.

Main Street in Greenville has many delicious restaurants and a variety of shops for browsing.  The atmosphere is very relaxed and everyone is friendly.  As you walk along this mile on Main Street you will notice several of the stores have bowls of water and treats for your little canine friends right outside their doors.

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Street musicians are everywhere.  These gentlemen were playing classical selections.  It was delightful!

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This area is a must see.  It is called Falls Park on the Reedy. It is such a tranquil and peaceful setting to take a stroll.  This photo is of some of the lofts, restaurants and hotels located along the river just off Main Street.  On the other side of the street are gentle waterfalls and paved walking trails with beautiful views of the rocky river. There are picnic tables scattered about as well as boulders and benches for sitting. Young people were throwing Frisbees in a big grassy area while others sat on blankets and sipped on warm beverages.  Shade is abundant and I am sure it is a favorite spot to enjoy during the hot summer time.

There are two favorite stores we have to go to whenever we visit:  Mast General Store and Oil & Vinegar.

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There is something for everyone in this unique store!

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Oil & Vinegar – The customer service at this location is first-rate!

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I could not resist buying a few goodies to serve when I host an upcoming book club meetup.

As the day passed we decided to take a break and soak in a little sunshine while we people watched.

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Shortly after this photo was taken we went back to our room to freshen up before enjoying a very casual dinner and the show.

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Look at these milkshakes!!  We did not indulge, but may have to return to Grill Marks restaurant sooner than later to experience this cold and creamy delight!  They have quite an assortment of flavors such as, “Chocolate Brownie Crack” and “Salted Caramel Heath Bar Crunch”.  They even have beer shakes and adult beverage shakes (minus the milk)!

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Peace Center  (notice the hanging sculpture in the lobby entrance – Taking Flight)

Before we knew it, we were back in the car heading home.  I am so thankful to have opportunities such as this to create new memories and savor these moments in time.

Side Note:  In the spring and summer there is a Saturday morning farmers market along Main Street where you can buy homemade goodies and fresh produce.  Also, starting in mid-March through the end of September they have free concerts called Main Street Fridays. The city shuts down the one end of the street. People bring their lawn chairs and coolers while they listen and tap their feet to the beat of the live music. Others get up and dance while others visit the vendors or take their children to some of the activities designed for the younger crowd. We accidentally stumbled upon these two events on our visit last spring and had a wonderful time!  “Yeah, that Greenville!”

Be More Than An “I Love You”

What does it mean to love someone or to be loved by someone?  Maybe it is the security of knowing that we occupy a place in someone else’s heart or the significance we hold in someone’s life.

Maybe it means that in spite of our silly oddities, our looks, and our imperfections someone can see us for who we are and they love us anyway.

We are someone who matters to somebody else.

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Singing softly in my ear

Once in a while the words “I love you” can be just that ~ words.  Over the years I have learned (sometimes the hard way) about love and relationships.  Not just in the romantic sense like the love I share with my spouse, but also the love I share with all my children and grandchildren, my BFF, and my extended family. The most important thing I have learned is: It is the ACTION taken that can create the strength, emotion, and significance of those three simple words.

For example:

  • Supporting each other is essential in any relationship ~ marriage, parenting, friendships.  Have each other’s back.  Celebrate successes and comfort disappointments.
  • Respect one another because you each deserve the other’s respect.  Treat each other the way you wish to be treated as you express opinions, thoughts, dreams and desires ~ make these matter as much to you as it does to the other.
  • Be a safety net and refuge from the outside world.  A person you can always trust.  Strive to create an environment that is a welcoming place of comfort, joy and peace.
  • Commitment takes work, commitment is not easy, and commitment must become a priority. Become the “something that you want to last forever” every single day.
  • Forgive the forgotten item at the grocery store and forgive the forgotten birthday present. Forgive when the other lashes out because they are tired after working hard all day. Forgive the other for not knowing what you needed when you really thought they would or should know. Forgive the other when they fall short even when you know they are trying their best. Forgive because no one is perfect.

Be More Than An “I Love You”