2021... so far
Given that writing is one thing I enjoy doing more than most other things, it’s surprising that the frequency of my writing has diminished so considerably. Each past entry mentions that I haven’t posted in awhile and this one is no exception. It’s been almost a year since my place of work told my co-workers and me to take our computers and go work from home. It was supposed to be 2 weeks. The addition of 2 new Grandchildren has been a delightful turn of events this year. Surviving the last few months of the Donald Trump presidency was something of an achievement. I have lots of topics to expound on but still, my writing was neglected.
On the Covid 19 front, I’ve fared pretty well. I’m so thankful to be working. I work at a company that makes medical devices so I’m happy to be helping in a miniscule way. I’m happy to learn that my husband and I can spend every waking moment in the same house and still really love each other. And in addition to that, we still like being together. I finally got it right this time. I’m also thankful for all of the first responders and health care people who take care of the sick. I get very emotional thinking about hospitalized people being separated from their loved ones as they lay there and suffer while healthy loved ones can’t spend the last few minutes with their people. I can’t imagine how that must hurt. The nurses and doctors must take on that burden and it’s quite unfair to everyone. I feel fortunate to be one of the few who have not been negatively impacted so painfully. I miss seeing my son and his family weekly like I used to, sure. However, this could have happened at any other time in history, but I’m glad it’s now. I can see my lovies’ faces using face time or messaging. Also, if staying home is going to keep everyone safer, I’m happy to do it. I’ll be honest here. I’m an introvert and I don’t have a problem with staying home. As time goes on, I become more introverted. I don’t like wearing a mask. I don’t want to sound whiny but I would rather eat the 3 years expired cereal in the cabinet than go food shopping. I will wear my mask though and know that it’s such a small inconvenience compared to the potential alternatives. One thing I’m sure everyone can agree on… Covid 19 sucks.
I’m quite contemplative today. Over the weekend, the seed pods on the ends of our Lilac bush were brown and dried. As I watched the birds at the bird feeder this morning, I noticed that the seed pods suddenly are now green. What a difference a day can make. I think it will be like that when Christ comes back. When He returns, everything will be full of life again. Those of us who have had the privilege of knowing Him and accepting His love and grace will be raptured and the new day will be so very different than the last. I still marvel at His ability to provide for us. I marvel even more at His patience and loving kindness that is continually available to us. In contrast, I look at the world and at how completely deceived so many people are. People are finding their identity in how they feel, how they want to be seen, what they want to achieve and so many other fleeting and transient things. Feelings change. What God sees is all that matters. What we achieve means nothing if it’s done in our own strength. We are loved just as we are by a God who is eternal and unchanging. He won’t let us stay as we are, of course. He will show us and teach us and it will all ring so true because He is the one who is all truth. Some people are instantly transformed. Some people, like me, are handled carefully, one truth at a time. It would seem to me that God knows us enough to know what will work if we would allow it. The fact is we must allow it.
The air is cool and fresh this morning. The birds are singing. I feel peaceful as I come out of “doing my Bibles” as Haven would say. I’m fully wrapped in God’s good grace and I don’t want to end my time with Him this morning. I wonder what difference this day will make. Today may be nothing of note or it may be significant. Either way, I’m happy to be here, with God, writing this post.
November 03rd, 2018
I can’t seem to keep up with the time that I have and I’m not sure at all of where it goes. As I sit here I’m wondering how it could be possible that my grandson will soon turn 2? How could it possibly be that my husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 9. Is my son really 27? I can’t slow it down and I don’t bother to try to. I do try to be happy with my efforts each day to make at least one person laugh. It’s one of my goals to compliment at least one person every day. It’s my normal. I’ve always been that way. I enjoy making people happy, helping them be successful and contributing to their well being. Given the swift passage of time, I thought I’d write a letter to anyone who has or will interact with me in any capacity.
Today is the day that I wanted to tell you that you are loved. There is no way you can destroy this love. There is no thought, action or word that can destroy this love. It’s free to me, to you, to anyone who wants it. Do you want to have it? Do you want to know it? I’ll tell you what to do. Where ever you are, I want you to stop thinking about the next task you must complete. Stop the thoughts of how angry you are at that person who just offended you. Stop thinking about the mistakes you just made or the ones you can’t let go of. Set all of that aside. In your heart or out loud, say, Lord, I’m here and I want to know you. Say, “Lord, I’m an imperfect person, just like everyone else. I do things that You wouldn’t like based on what is in Your book. I’m sorry about that. Please, may I have the love that Bonnie says You have for me? “
Here is the thing. This won’t solve all of your problems. It won’t make the events of your life easier. He will, however, stay with you through all of the events in your life. He will be with you through the good, the bad and the mundane. He will love you in a way that you’ve never known. Undefiled, pure, righteous and true love is what God has for you. He will give you His strength. He will give you His courage. He will show you what matters and what doesn’t. You might even be surprised to find out that some things you worry about don’t matter at all.
Maybe you’ve already done all of that and you know what I’m talking about. I thank God for you. If you are going through difficulties right now, Lord, please help him or her. Jesus, please draw near to this friend of mine and pour out a blessing on them that would be precious to them. Please make it something personal that only you and they know about. Please show them the depth of the knowledge you have of them so they will know exactly how deeply You love them.
That’s what I want you to know today and always.
Strong Women Beget Strong Women
The first ¼ of 2018 has come and gone. The cold has lingered longer than it should. This week has been the first week that felt like springtime. It’s a welcome change! I’ve been watching the “News” and noticing that there is a decent amount of momentum in the fight against social injustice. I appreciate the momentum of women’s movements (for the record I’m pro-life). I stand with those fighting discrimination. Anti-bullying is a worthwhile cause. It’s about time that people stopped being apathetic about things that should never happen.
I’m seeing that it’s true that we never stop changing. Life never stops changing. Aging is something that creeps up on you. Before you know it, you’re 48 and there is so much life behind and it’s pretty amazing. There were ups and downs and here I am. I look forward to what’s ahead. I think about the number of times I’ve heard lately about strong women doing incredible things. I’ve given a lot of thought to the millions of strong women doing very seemingly mundane things. Things that are helpful, kind, encouraging. I’m one of them. I try to be anyways. I think of both of my grandmothers, my Mom, step sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, step daughter, co-workers and friends; there are so many. My blog post this month will be about them. About us.
My Nana. I was able to take for granted that she loved me very much. She was tough as nails. She was strong and fierce. Even though Margaret (Peg), aka Nana, was married, because of the times they lived in she practically raised her 7 children by herself. My grandfather was away for a number of valid reasons, from being in the armed services during 2 wars to working and other things. It was just the way it was then. When I look at photos of her younger days, it’s hard to imagine that she was ever anything but my grandmother, but there she is in the pictures. She was so beautiful all of her life. Peg was quite a no-nonsense type of person. She didn’t often cry. On the other hand, she was always there for us. She put a lot into being a great role model. She was always spending time with my cousins and my brothers and me, taking us to different places, or doing different things. We spent a lot of time with her and Grandpa growing up.
Nowadays, she’s on that celestial shore, but she’s still very much with me. For example, when I was working at a company where there were some people who were harassing me, I heard her voice in my head when I would feel hurt. It would go something like, ‘Oh knock that off’! Or ‘Stop being so dramatic’! Does that sound to you like a negative thing? I’ll tell you, it’s absolutely not. I hear those words and her voice in my head and I pick myself up and I move on. I love and miss that voice. This woman raised 7 children mostly by herself. This woman worked hard, loved and taught us and she was fantastic! These are average, every day things that people do but to me she did incredible things.
My Grammy. She was a single mom in the 40s and 50s. I don’t know the story but she was with my grandfather (by blood only), but he left and married her sister. I don’t know the timeline or the story. I know my father made sure we never met his father. From what I understand, after that, she worked as a cook in a bar somewhere in Boston. That’s all I really know about her life before she was my Grammy. She was my edifier. She was my encourager. Grammy was my friend. I was her Lovey Dovey, or Lovey for short. She loved the Lord. She loved watching the birds outside. She enjoyed company and friends. She loved her son, my Dad, like crazy. Grammy spent time with me playing Go Fish and Crazy 8s. She made sure she had my favorite cereal on hand for when I went to stay with her. When I was with her I felt secure and special. I had long red, unruly hair. She’d pat it down with her hands and push it off of my face and tuck it behind my ears. She’d kiss my head and say, “Let me see that pretty face!” Oh how I wish I could sit with her again. Grammy (Ruth) must have been devastated because of the things that happened in her young life. She never showed it and for whatever reason, I wouldn’t ever know about those hurts she had. She had nieces who were her son’s half siblings. It could not have been easy but she loved all of them. She loved her sister. She didn’t waste time on all of that negativity. She dedicated our time together to enjoying each other’s company. She was a very strong yet still soft hearted, loving woman. She was extraordinary.
Other women I think about are the women who are or were a big part of my life. When I was a child, our family had 3 main babysitters. There was Eileen, Linda and Kathy. Eileen was super strict but she was good. My one of many memories of her that I will share was a day when I was crushed. I was sitting on my bedroom floor sobbing at age 6 or 7 because I got in trouble again. I had a giant pile of stuff on my floor that I was supposed to clean up. Eileen, my Godmother, came upstairs to find me sobbing next to the enormous mountain of stuff that was sitting there. She sat down with me and told me not to worry. She said she would help me. We began to go through everything and soon enough the mess was gone. That was Eileen. My hero. Linda was the one I would run to when things got too bad at home. She always had an open door for me. She wasn’t living right so going there was a bad influence. It’s ok though. She was there for me. Kathy was the one with the level head, she’s kind, generous and she laughed at the things that I did that my Mom would rough me up for. I was babysitting her son one day and either he or I broke her electric frying pan. I can’t remember who actually broke it. I stuck the pieces back together and put it back on the shelf thinking she’d not notice. She did notice. She didn’t yell at me. She just laughed when I finally confessed and she told me not to worry. My memory of that day is hazy but what I do remember was that I didn’t get in trouble. That was a big deal. She was my role model and treated me the way I decided I would treat my children (child) someday. Kathy and Linda stayed in my life until I was in my 20s. I don’t see them anymore but without them, I wouldn’t be me. Eileen has since passed away but I think of her often.
My step sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, step daughter, co-workers and friends are all such a big part of who I am whether I am in touch with them anymore or not. It’s the women who offer an ear when I just want to talk. The ones who welcome me into their home with open arms and hearts. The ones who send me sympathy cards when my favorite musician dies. The ones who tell me the truth even though it will be hard for me to hear. The ones who go to NYC to spend a weekend with us and are just good company the whole time. The ones who show up when I host a holiday. It’s all of those wonderful, strong women who influence me. Alternatively, it’s also the women who hurt me or offend me. Some are full of envy and malice toward me. It’s the ones who cheat, lie and steal to get ahead and leave me behind. The ones who are giving their opinion when they think they are telling the truth but are really just being mean spirited. The ones who kick me to the curb until they feel like being my friend again over and over and get upset when I finally put my foot down. It’s all of these women. These strong and fierce women who do seemingly mundane things. In reality, these relationships are powerful and help me to grow. It’s not always easy and is sometimes very painful. Regardless, they’ve all helped to make me stronger. These women are amazing.
My Mom. Sigh. How do I tell this story without hurting feelings or causing a ruckus? I’ll start with the adult years. My Mom is a sweet, endearing woman. We have a good relationship and we worked hard for it. My Mom is so strong that she was able to turn herself from being a severely manic person, and was all her life; to someone I love and cherish. Mom is bi-polar. Being raised by her was traumatic, confusing, heartbreaking, and painful. All of that said, eventually, she got diagnosed as being bi-polar. With a diagnosis, she was able to take medicine that would help her to feel “normal” for the first time in her life. Mom looked at herself honestly for the very first time. She was devastated by what she had done and how she treated my brothers and me. My Mom pulled up her bootstraps and began working towards healing our relationship. That had to be so difficult. To me, that is amazing strength. That is enormous love.
I’ll wrap this up with me. I survived through that upbringing. It was pretty ugly at times. It was pretty sad at times and because of it, I rebelled and spent my teen years abusing alcohol, drugs and my own sense of dignity. I was not living right. I was promiscuous. I got pregnant at 20 and the father told me he wanted me to have an abortion. I agreed to it but the day I was supposed to go, I canceled. I went ahead and stayed pregnant. I raised my son by myself with God’s help. I built a stable world for him and did my very best by him. I made mistakes but I own them. I left my dreams behind me. I looked toward the future for my son and took raising him very much to heart. He was my reason for all the good things I did. God is the one who gave me strength to do them. The women who raised me and were a part of my life gave me strength to raise him. I turned my life around and managed to make it pretty good. I myself was diagnosed with clinical depression and PTSD. I actively work on ways to minimize that these days. That wasn’t easy. At times, it’s still not easy. When it’s not easy, my Nana pushes me along. I didn’t realize that going from day to day was so hard until I felt better. Now it’s not so hard about 90% of the time. Now, I see the sun shine and I’m thankful for it. I receive a text from my husband I’m thankful for it. If someone pays me a compliment, I’m thankful for it. Gratitude is a mundane, yet powerful attitude to have.
When I look back, I don’t see a life of abuse. I don’t look back and see that I sacrificed my dreams to have my son. I look back and I see that my childhood taught me how to recognize pain in others. I can help them. I look back and I see that my dreams were not really all that important. I wouldn’t trade being a Mom and now a Grandmother for anything in the world. It gets to me sometimes that people put their wants before everything else. My dreams were just things I wanted to do. I have a full time job and it’s a good one. I don’t do the things that I love to do as a job, but that’s ok. Some of the dreams I had were things I wanted to do because I thought I’d be cool if I did them. Some of the things I wanted to do, I do now. I play guitar, sing. I cook. I write. I create, take photographs. I look forward and I wonder what my dreams should be now. I’m working on that. Maybe I’m living my dreams. It’s ok.
My version of success is having a stable foundation in Jesus and living a peaceful life, helping when I can. I’m strong. I know that. I’m thankful for that. I say I survived a lot but really, it was just life. It’s just my story. While people are standing up for a lot of social injustice, I also see it going too far. A little girl should not be kicked out of daycare for calling her friend her best friend. That happened. That’s taking things way too far. My beliefs differ from the mainstream. I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t expect anyone else to believe what I do. It’s nice when people I meet do though. I can tell you why I hold so tightly to Jesus and God’s word. It’s because He first loved me. It’s because He is reliable. He is my rock, God, Savior, King, Friend, Counselor and my Father. There have been women in my life who showed me that God isn’t about sacraments and holidays. I show young women who seek the Lord that He loves them. I live my life hoping to be a blessing to them. It’s not that I don’t want to live the dreams I left behind. It’s that I feel like I’m doing well. I don’t always feel this way but overall, I’m very grateful for the way things have gone for me. I do mundane things. I’m not super fancy or popular. I’m pretty sure that some think I’m peculiar. I don’t mind that either. In fact, it sort of makes me smile.
Without the strong women who did mundane things, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without them, I would be a lesser person. Without the strong women in this world who do mundane things every day, this would be a very different world.
C and B Creative 2018
We have good news. We need wedding photos for our website. If you or someone you know are getting married, we are offering our services for a very low price. We will take all of the traditional photos such as rehearsal dinner, before the wedding getting ready, special wedding photos and photos during the reception for $400.00. You will get electronic copies of all clear photos along with prints of the best pictures. In trade, we will post many of your wedding photos on our website to help advertise that we will be available for weddings.
Looking through a lens, creating a depth of field that is going to highlight the beauty of the subject, is my goal when I push down that button on my camera. People are my favorite subjects. Catching the look in their eyes when they look at their newborn child. Capturing a familiar glance or expression for their loved ones to enjoy. Stopping time in the life of the subject and apprehending that moment for them to share and reminisce about. Each person has a story and an accumulation of experiences, both good and bad. I think about that when I take photos of people. It’s an honor to freeze that moment in time for them.
Flowers and plants are also a favorite subject of mine. I can’t imagine a life where flowers didn’t exist. From dandelions to roses and everything in between, I love all of them. Sometimes I catch the light just right and a photo of a flower is suddenly a work of art. I have 2 favorite flower photos that I took in Ipswich Massachusetts one Easter. I had no plan to find the perfect flower that day. Craig and I were on our way to my son’s in-law’s house for dinner. We were early and we drove by an old castle. Of course we stopped. I got some really great shots that day. There were many spring blooms around and they did photograph well. There was a tree that was through an archway that caught my attention. I believe they were some hearty species of magnolias. The background of the photograph is rich and brown with mottled spots of light. The flowers are elegant and clear. The flowers captured my eye and the camera saw what I saw. It makes me feel satisfied to be able to photograph something and have it come out the same way I was seeing it. These photos evoke emotion. I have been told that by people quite often. I think that may be why they are my favorite.
C & B Creative may not be raking in the dough (yet) but I can’t think of any other way I’d like to be spending my time. We recently purchased a new camera for Craig. We will be taking a course in the near future with an accredited online school. We see things so differently and I find that it often comes through in how we take pictures. We will add Craig’s perspective to the mix and I’m sure it will move us forward in our pursuit. What does success look like to me? I’m not even sure yet. If I gauge our success in monetary measure, it’s probably not going well. If I gauge our success by how well others receive our work, I may say that we are doing quite well.
We are booking for summer sessions right now. We are available evenings during the week and weekends. Please consider us for your next family photo shoot, head shots for business cards, events, product photography for businesses and weddings.
2018, I'm Ready for You
It’s December 31, 2017. It is the last day of a very memorable year for us. Today, the end of one year and beginning of a new year, is really just another day. However, it is a day that prompts us to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are aiming to go. 2017 was both one of the happiest years of my life and also one of the saddest years of my life. It was one extreme to the other. My goals for 2018 are dim at best. Usually I’ve already made some plans for the following year by this time in years past. Not so much this year. There are things we hope to accomplish, Lord willing of course. We have no travel plans or anything of the sort for reasons entirely beyond our control. All I’m truly hoping for is a year where I get more serious about living for my sweet, loving Lord Jesus. I feel now, like I am too far away. I seek Him and find Him but it’s not like it has been before. I don’t see the same clear direction I used to see. I know it’s me and I know I need to figure it out. That is my only real plan for 2018.
2017 was memorable with extreme emotions like I said. My own son Ben’s first child was born on January 5, 2017. That day is one I won’t and don’t want to ever forget. There was the bravery of my daughter-in-law, Sarah, birthing Sam with absolutely no drugs. There was Sam’s first cry 10:28:43 am. There was seeing my son meet HIS son for the first time. There was my first time holding my Grandson. There was the first time husband, Sam’s Grandpa, held Sam. So sweet a day that was. I like to play it back in my mind over and over. During the first ½ of 2017 I spent time with Sam and Sarah at least once a week, sometimes twice, while Ben was in class. I had a delightful time getting to know Sam, but also getting to know Sarah better. I grew to love them both much more than I thought I could. There is a deep well inside of me that springs up with love for people and sometimes it surprises me how much love it actually holds. That is a part of me that I like. Since then, we’ve managed to see Sam at least once a week. He’s so much like his Dad but at the same time there are many distinct differences. It feels sometimes like I’m seeing Ben reincarnated. Sam looks EXACTLY like his Dad sometimes. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, that is for sure! We just celebrated the birth of our Savior Jesus and it was one of my favorite Christmases ever. Samuel James Stewart has given me a new and wonderful reason to celebrate. Not that I was lacking. I’m so, so very thankful!!
In August of 2017, the first of many struggles began. This first struggle was not such a big deal. Craig’s car started to break down. We decided to get a new one because we had put a lot of money into it already and it needed about $1500 more work. Since that would work out to about what we would pay in car payments, we got a 2014 Chevy Equinox. It had only 4000 miles on it. Really that wasn’t a terribly bad thing but we didn’t have a car payment at all prior to getting this new car. Taking on new debt was something that we didn’t need. The real sadness came in September. On Sunday evening on September 17, my 87 year young neighbor, friend, mother figure, Billie Raher, called us on the phone. She had fallen and needed our help. Craig and I went over and found her on her couch with a very long and deep gash going from her forehead, across her left eye and down through her cheek. She had fallen in her kitchen. There was a lot of blood out there. I called 911 and got a cold cloth to put on her face as directed by the operator I had reached. Billie was talking and seemed maybe to be in a little bit of shock but I thought, ok – she will be fine. The Paramedics arrived and prepared Billie for the ride to the hospital. She complained to them that her neck hurt. They put on a neck brace which made her complain even more of her neck pain. She went to the local hospital and we followed. We were both in pajamas so we went home to change first. When we arrived, Billie was getting stitches. They were only letting family visit so I got a couple of phone numbers of people she wanted to notify. Craig and I went to the waiting room and called Billie’s family. When her family arrived, we were allowed to go in to see her. We did. She was joking with the Dr. and the rest of us. She was in very good spirits. That was the last time I saw her alive. It turns out that Billie had broken her neck. One false move and she’d die. She died on Wednesday September 20, 2017. My heart is still broken. I still miss her terribly. I could write a whole blog just about that.
Then the second blow came. My lifelong favorite singer/songwriter, Tom Petty, died. So many musicians had died in 2016 and a few more in 2017. My first thought every time, selfish as it may be was, “Thank God it wasn’t Tom”. Then it was. Trying to mourn someone who wasn’t a physical part of your life is a peculiar thing. Many people don’t understand that there can be a true connection to someone famous. I have clinical depression and I started to feel that vortex of dark and brooding emotion envelop me. Tom’s fans were consoling each other, and I tried to be part of it. I had to unplug myself from the online community that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have generated and that I’m a part of. I was being swept away again. I’m okay now but I still can’t hear his songs without feeling that hopeless feeling that comes. Grieving a famous person isn’t an easy thing to do. I hope it won’t take too long to be able to enjoy playing TPaTHBs at full blast once again. Right now it just brings tears to my eyes every time I’ve tried. Even just as recently as a few days ago, I put some Tom Petty on but then had to shut it off.
In November our refrigerator quit working. That really isn’t heartbreaking at all. The trouble it presents is more debt. December, Craig’s Mom has had some bad falls and we are worried about her. She’s all the way in Michigan and so we’re feeling pretty helpless. Craig’s eardrum blew this week and he’s basically deaf right now. The Dr. says that 90% of cases like his heal completely. Let’s pray that Craig is part of the 90 and not the 10.
The thing of note that I find encouraging here is that one good thing that happens can brighten all of the bad things that have happened. My Sammy Grammy time is hands down, far more prominent than all of the sadness and grief that I’ve seen. God has good timing. Another thing that helps is that I have become addicted to Keith Urban’s music the same way that I was addicted to Tom Petty. He’s certainly not a replacement but it sure is helpful. In every instance above, God was actively assisting us in every problem and celebrating with each happy event. Our car is better and cheaper than what our budget was. Our refrigerator was $200 less than the marked sale price and we will have no interest for 18 months. If we pay it off before then, it will be interest free. There are many other examples of God’s goodness as well but again, that could be a blog post of its own.
So then there is 2018 in front of me. What will happen? Of course I don’t know. We hope to get a new pool liner without having to incur more debt by using our income tax return. I am praying for help with my student loan debt. I haven’t really seen any benefit financially from having a degree but I see very clearly the debt that came with it. I don’t know for sure how it will happen but we want to reduce our debt in 2018. I trust that God will meet our needs no matter what. I hope for more photo shoots. I’m hoping for a vacation with Craig, Ben, Sarah and Sam. I hope to be a blessing. I hope to find my motivation to go back to the gym. I hope most that I will lean into the Lord and find the closeness with Him that I’ve enjoyed in the past.
2018, I’m ready for you. In Christ’s name, I pray anyone reading this will have a blessed 2018 as well.
It’s tough to keep up with a blog. It’s been a very long time since I’ve put anything new up. It may be a long time after today until I put up the next one. In any event, here I am today living in today and perhaps today isn’t the best day. Is a bad day the best day to post a blog? Maybe not, but maybe it is. Maybe it’s better to be honest than to try to be positive all the time. I positively know that today’s post will at least be serious, if not maybe a bit cynical. I know because I’ve already written most of it. I positively know that life is not always positive. To live like you can’t ever be negative is probably unhealthy. On the flip side, to live like nothing is good in the world and there is nothing positive is also unhealthy. I prefer truth over kindness – but maybe truth presented with kindness is a preference as well. The truth is though, that sometimes honesty is painful and uncomfortable.
Today. Living in the moment. It’s funny how today is one of the easiest places to be and at the same time, so difficult a place to be. It’s also funny, when it’s something good we’re thinking about it’s called reminiscing or reflection. Things that happened yesterday may have been exciting, happy and thrilling. Thinking about yesterday or another day in the past brings one back there, to that time emotionally. The events of the days past may be crushing, depressing, embarrassing or even shameful. If there is a word for that, I’m not sure what it is right now. It’s easy to replay these events over and over again in our minds. It’s easy but painful to feel ashamed and live in that feeling.
Either way, when we’re in either the happy places or the sad places of the past, we are not here today. The same can be said for thinking about future events. It may be a concert, a party or a vacation we are thinking about. It may be a court date, a test or an event that takes us out of our comfort zone. Where are we then? Why is focusing on something negatively so important a thing that we aren’t looking at what is right here, right now? Preparation for an event in the future might be similar to living in the future. To me, though, preparation is what makes the future a bit easier to bear. We can prepare today, in this moment and enjoy that part of today, right? Instead of obsessing over the thing that is planned in the future, perhaps preparing for it might be better.
It’s a time of self realization for me right now. Do I value my own ways over others? Is it okay to stand firm in a battle that might hurt the other persons’ pride? It has been so long that I have lived a life taking care of someone else, that I don’t really know how to be my own person without feeling selfish. Taking care of someone else is what I’ve been doing for my sons first 18 years and then the last 9 with my husband. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. I feel guilty when I have a feeling of my own that is not in agreement with others perspectives. Reflecting on this is something that seems to be taking more of my attention than it ever did before. There have been things to come up recently which lead me to question whether I allow other people to prevent me from living my best life. I’ve had moments in the past realizing this now and then. I’ve even made major changes in my life at the realization that certain people never actually cared about me but instead, kept me around because I had always been there for them. What a thing that is to wake up to. It’s okay. I played the role well while I played it. There is no ill will. Not from me anyway. I’m as responsible for that as the other was.
What does it mean to be selfless? Is it a personality trait or is it a cultivated, intentional action? I’m seeing now that one can be a selfless person by nature. I think that perhaps I am. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good way to be. I think it’s a good thing to intentionally be selfless. Doing something for someone else based on what the recipient would want, need or would enjoy, is what being selfless means to me. Being naturally selfless, however, can cause frustration, disappointment and pain. When others make plans that involve me or are for me and don’t see or consider what is best for me, what might hurt me or make me happy, it doesn’t feel at all like selflessness. Here they are doing what they want, their way, saying it’s all for me; and all the while there is not one thing they are doing that even remotely feels like something I want, like or need. I’m feeling like I’m always doing what is best for the other people, their way, how they would want it; and then they don’t reciprocate in the same way and resentment grows. I think that’s on me. I can’t expect other people to meet my own expectations of myself. And that’s another thing I do all the time. I find ways to take responsibility for things I don’t like and I may be completely justified. Still, I’m sure it’s my fault somehow.
So in this frustration, what can I do or learn or change in myself to help myself evolve and grow? What can I do to help myself be okay? That’s what I’m just not sure of. I don’t want to be all that different than I am. I like who I am. I enjoy doing things for people and having them feel appreciated and seen. I want to live in a way that is pleasing to God and so being selfless is a very important part of that. I want to be who I am but I don’t want to be frustrated or hurt when other people are thoughtless and selfish toward me. When I try to do things that are new and different and I don’t get supported – I don’t want to feel hurt by that. I don’t want to let people walk on me. I don’t want the people who are closest to me feel like they can just discard me like garbage until they either need me again or they feel guilty for discarding me. I want the people closest to me to want what is best for us instead of what is easiest for them in the moment. I especially do not want to become a person who will disregard another person or disregard right to do what is easier and also happens to be wrong. What can I change about myself to make all of this easier for me and subsequently, easier for those close to me?
What DO I want? I do want to be part of the lives of the people I love. I do want people close to me to know me. I do want people to let me be myself. I do want to live the best life I can live. I do want the people around me to partner with me, or at least allow me to pursue that, instead of seeing me as an inconvenience. The trouble with my “I DO want” list is that I have no control at all of most of it. If people don’t want me to be with them, I’m not going to force myself on them and I’m not going to jump at their every beck and call when they feel they can fit me in. Those two extremes don’t work for me. I can’t control what people think of me. I have no control over whether or not people close to me will want to see me be successful or happy.
So where does that leave me? If I draw closer to God and seek His face, I truly feel like I’m loved and valued. It’s sometimes not my ‘go to’ response and that’s unfortunate. Did you think you would get to the end of this blog and have answers? Sorry to disappoint you. I don’t have any answers.
The only answer I have is the same answer I always have. I will pray and I will lean on my Jesus. After all, He seems to like me and He always wants what is best for me even when it’s not easy. I’ll let you know if I figure anything else out.
There are times in life when we have to decide what we want to do next. For example, one could have to choose to move to another community or change jobs. Where to start? Prayer. That is always the first middle and last resource to tap. I don’t mean to imply that prayer is a “resource” to be used. I want to be clear about that. What I am saying, is that a child of God will always be able to rely on prayer for reliable guidance. There are other sources as well but we must carefully discern who or what we turn to for further clarity.
I have made a decision to stop selling real estate. Why? Because it was clearly a major money pit and my efforts were clearly not favored by God. I have made a decision to continue with C & B Creative because my efforts have been favored by God. While I have not made much money, I have not lost any and I feel a great sense of satisfaction as a photographer. I also had to choose to find a full time job and now I have one. Why? Because breaking even won’t pay the bills.
During all of these choices, I have prayed. Maybe not perfectly and probably not as consistently as I should. However, I have prayed and God has answered. My next decision is to decide how to go about marketing C & B Creative so I can both work my full time job and keep the business going. Nothing worth having ever came easily for anyone. I have a degree in business management and so I will be making good use of those skills. My decision lies in – how do I advertise? Who is my target market? I have some ideas. What do I do now? You guessed it. I pray. I will also ask others for advice. I will ask people who have shown support and positivity towards me. Those people who have tried to “put me in my place” while helpful in a way, have only shown me that I need to be more careful about who I’m listening to.
In closing, I would ask for prayer if you are the praying type. The future is foggy but I’ve found something that I love to do that I’m good at and only getting better at. Now it’s time to focus on finding customers and from there, we’ll see.
I'm not sure how we got from September to January so quickly but here we are! Happy New Year!! I have many things to share with the world but tonight I will just give some highlights.
In 2016: I started my own photography business, had surgery on a painful hip injury, found out I was going to be a Grammy and found the music of Keith Urban. I also, during the very last week of 2016, started a new full time job doing Document Control work.
In 2017: I made a commitment to work my way back toward a healthy fitness level. Last week I became a Grammy to the most beautiful baby boy. His name is Samuel and I could not be more proud of my son Ben and his wife Sarah for being the sweetest parents I've ever seen.
Admittedly, the birth of my grandchild took precedence over gym time. I have a playlist and I have a loose plan. I can't do much yet. Just the stationary bike (instead of a real bike because it's winter) and upper body stuff. I will be able to build to the elliptical machine and walking/hiking. Doc says no more lunges, squats or anything that concentrates my weight on my hips. The good news - NO MORE BURPEEEEEEES!!! WOOO HOOO! I hate those things!
I'm off to a decent start for this year. My outlook is good. I have nothing to say about the election or the implications - and that is only because God is ruler over all of this anyway. I have lots of photos to update the site with so I'm going to have to take the time to work on that very soon!
And just a little FYI - when I say "I", I really mean "we". I say this because my husband Craig does all of this with me and I'm incredibly blessed to have him by my side!!
See you soon! xo!
Pastor Conway's Sermon This Week
Last Sunday the sermon at church was – as always – a lesson directly from the word of God about Him. It got me thinking, I have no physical proof that the reason I am strong is because God is here with me. Anything good in me is from God. I don’t need proof. I don’t need it for myself anyway. I know it’s His strength that abides in me. I am really unable to understand how anyone can stand under the weight of this world without having a relationship with God. More and more every day I wonder how anyone can look around and not be depressed or grieved or angry. I know I would not be able to handle this world without Him. I do get depressed, grieved AND angry. What gets me past it, and through it is the hope that I have for eternity with God. All that said, maybe you don’t feel like you need Him and your life is great without Him. You don’t really need to read this blog post further. If you do read further, that’s fine but know this – God’s word never returns void. It might change you. If you do need peace beyond explanation and want to know you are loved eternally, here are some things right from the Bible God wants all of us to know:
Acts 4:11-12 11 He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone.12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
1 John 5:12 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you
Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psalm 37:28 For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
John 14 14 “Do not let your heart be troubled; [a]believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Listen and Trust
I’m in a waiting period. I think I'm listening carefully for what God wants from me but I’m not. I question myself also based on what the world’s expectations are of me. I believe that being in a waiting period can take a toll. I keep doing things thinking “Maybe this is what God wants.” Now God is telling me “Wait. You will know what I have for you when I provide it. Trust Me.” He already told me to wait. I didn’t really listen. To paraphrase Him – He’s saying stop guessing and know that I do what is best for my children.
I have been waiting for one year and eight months. But have I been waiting? No, not at all. I have spent more money on trying to start a new career over the last few months than ever before in my life. I got my real estate sales agent license in June 2015. Sometimes I worked more than 40 hours a week. I have not closed a single transaction. I have started my own business doing something I love to do; photography. I will continue to do that because I enjoy it and I have made a little money at it – but it’s not what He has for me. I won’t count on that as the thing God has told me to wait for. I usually have some idea of what is coming but I have very little information right now. I have been able to have surgery and go through the recovery period without concern for losing a job. I’m not going to guess that maybe He’s waiting until I’m fully recovered but it has crossed my mind.
Waiting is difficult for me because up until now, in everything I have worked hard, very hard, to provide support for my family and for myself. I started working as a babysitter when I was 12 years old. The moment I was the age for having a work permit, I got one and started working at restaurants. Eventually, I worked other jobs but I never had a time when I had no job. The point of all this: I’ve worked steadily all my life. I’ve worked hard all my life. By being without a job, I feel like I am doing something wrong. It’s against my nature. It goes against everything that I know. I’ve paid dues and more dues. Now, I’m out of my element, out of my comfort zone and not good at waiting at all. I feel like I need to work so I keep doing things and asking; “Is this it?” I have no green light but He doesn’t say no either so I think – oh, this must be it then. It’s not.
Last week, I prayerfully prepared a number of products to sell at a craft fair. I planned and prepared for hours and hours for a big day. In my own strength, while asking God to bless my work, I put many hours into choosing, printing and preparing photos and greeting cards. I said to God, “If I am supposed to be doing this, please let me sell out of one thing, be it small photos, large photos or my greeting cards.” God was very clear in his response. I sold one greeting card. One. That was the only thing I sold all day long. It’s not that the craft fair was slow. The woman next to me was selling her product hand over fist all day. I’m sure she did very well. I’m glad she did well. I got a lot of encouragement and praise for the beauty of the photos I selected but sold only one greeting card. I was crushed. I was devastated. It felt as if I was being punished. It hurt. God said, “No”. The next day I went to church. While worshipping – up in front of everyone – God said, “Don’t you know I love you”? In the songs we sang He said; “Don’t you know you’re my friend?” and “Don’t you know you can trust Me?” As I worshipped, the Holy Spirit surrounded me and comforted me and my tears spilled down from my eyes. As quickly as I felt the pain of my errors, I felt comforted and forgiven. And not so much forgiven as enlightened. I was enlightened to know that I needed to listen. He told me a long time ago to wait. Therefore, I need to wait. I need to trust. I thought I was waiting. I thought I was trusting. Now I know.
I have more to share based on yesterday’s sermon but for today, as I wait, this is what I am to do. Tell you about my story. I am to tell you that if God is telling you something that is simple, listen and trust. Don’t complicate it by saying, “Is this it Lord? Is this it Lord? Is THIS it Lord?” I am reminded of when children are on a long trip and they are asking over and over, “Are we there yet?” I thank God that He doesn’t get annoyed with me. He simply shows me that I’m driving myself to anxiety for no good reason. So I’m waiting but I sure do wish I could know what I’m waiting for. I will trust that He will tell me when He is ready – which will be when I am ready as well.
All photos on this site are the sole property of Bonnie and Craig Truscott. Do not use without permission. I will be blogging about our lives and other items that may interest you here.