Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

No Pushing; Stop Pulling March 8, 2016

 

Calvin is nine in dog years, translated to human time – he is about 52ish.  Maybe because he lived on a leash in hot Florida for the last three years, maybe because he is older and not as strong anymore, he wiped out in the MI winter snow.  Result:  torn miniscus or ACL.  Either way, he stopped using that leg for a while.  Thanks to a wise and conservative vet, Calvin is being given time, lots of time, as much time as he needs to heal.  There was an initial prescription for some medicine to reduce the swelling and give initial pain relief.  He also got daily chews to support joint health and encourage joint strength.  I advocated for the continuance of walking this 80 pound lab for his mental health.  The vet agreed but said “no more freedom.”  He is leash restricted.  No zooming around until the healing is complete.

For nine dog years I’ve walked with Calvin.  He is pretty good though not stellar at staying right beside me.  He would prefer to be in front with a bit of strain encouraging me to walk faster.  Not now.  His brisk jog lasts  only a half mile if that.  The rest of his walk is s..l..o..w.  If you would meet Calvin for the first or fifty first time today, you would not see his internal injury on his outer body.    So you would question his limp or hesitation to go up the stairs or clearly painful struggle to lay down.    Its been over six weeks since the wipe out.  And actually, he wiped out once which led to a limp, but the second wipeout a week later took the injury to a more serious level.   When we walk, he does not want to be pulled.  Nor does it help at all to push him to a faster pace.  He is still on the DL.  Pet owners – do you get it?

I get it in human years, in human pain, in human experience of having part of me injured.  But its not on the outside where everyone can see.  In fact, I am trying to keep the outside intact so I can keep interacting with life that I love – the relationship with my husband/best friend; relationships with family, long time friends, new friends in the making; work; play; volunteering; errands; keeping my house and clothes clean; exercising; walking Calvin.  It has been a compact six months of hard – loss, old wounds re-opened, previous emotions of significant loss re-opened, moving, change, more moving, more loss, and all kinds of unfamiliar, new, learning.  It is intense and this most recent loss has wiped me out.   NO PITY PLEASE.  The reason I am sharing this is NOT for the sake of personal condolence.  It is to give a voice to people you know, that may not be able to say, “I’m wiped out.  There is hurting places on the inside you can’t see.  I need time to heal, and it’s not something that can be rushed.”

You who’ve been there, or are there – do you get it?

People who are reading this, look around you at the those you know and interact with.  There might be one or more who is like Calvin, like me right now.  Please, no pushing.  Don’t pull us.  It won’t help the healing for you to try to speed us up or tell us to “keep our chin up”, or say to someone else, “It’s been long enough.  They need to move on now.”  Everyone is unique and what is going on inside might be more complex than you understand, than even they understand.  So how they heal and the time it takes will be unique.  Think about the internally injured person right now.  Take a deep breath.  Another one.  Let go of your need to have them get over it and get better already.  If you can’t, you would love them best by giving them space from you and your need.    If you can, replace the pushing with hugging.  Drop the rope you are trying to pull them with and extend an invitation to have a beer, or a wine and cheese, or ice-cream or go to a funny play. Someone unexpectedly extended the invitation to really listen yesterday.  Those kindnesses are loving and helpful.  But be ready to hand out the rain-check graciously if they can’t say yes this time.   Keep on living your life and let them live into theirs even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Even if it takes a while for them to be like their old self.

I read these words today; words of a person who was overwhelmed by troubles:  “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”   This was a statement made to God by a man named David.  (Ps 56).  It struck me that I know God cancels my sin, but then goes and collects my tears.  I wonder what he does with them.  Maybe he taps people on the shoulder, or knocks them on the head and sends them out to love the hurting.  Sometimes He does something Greater and floods the hurting with Peace and Comfort that is more profound than people can offer.  I know this personally too.

And one last thing – if you are the one with the hurt who is pushing and pulling on your old self to pull itself up by its proverbial boot straps, I grant you permission to let the old self off the hook for what it cannot possibly accomplish.  There is work for grief to do.  Let it do its job and have its way.  For if it completes the unique task it has, the old self will return whole and changed and equipped with compassion it did not previously have.  It is worth the wait.

I’m eager to walk briskly with Calvin again.   Not just because his leg will be better, but because my heart will be too.  For now, slow is just fine.

 

 

 

 

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Wisdom For A Decade September 21, 2014

The Wise Woman’s Stone

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream.  The next day she met another traveler who was hungry and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.  The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.  She did so without hesitation.

The Traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune.  He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.  “I’ve been thinking,” he said.  “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious.  Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”

                                                                                                                                    from The Best of Bits and Pieces

There are a number of especially wise women in my life.  One raised me.  A couple are long time friends.  One is a couple of decades older, a few are a decade or two  younger.  I know this is a gift – to have more than one wise woman who will speak into your life.

Alice is one woman of wisdom who shares what I have to look forward to, prior too each decade birthday.  On the eve of this 50th decade, I would like to pass along the wisdom of the decades I’ve received.

Prior to turning 30 I fought, kicked, bit, pushed, pulled, and attempted to ignore the fact I would not be 20something anymore.  Into this somewhat….ok completely immature and ridiculous behavior Alice the wise woman spoke.

“Laura, the 30’s are the age of wisdom and beauty.”

Well that put a different spin on things.   And so the decade went, where I realized some of the beauty she spoke of was inner, not just outer.

Prior to turning 40, there were no tantrums.  Yet, I wasn’t anticipating what sounded like an older-ish decade with any enthusiasm.  I called Alice.

“Hi Alice,  I was wondering if you had thoughts on what I have to look forward to in my 40’s?  You told me the 30’s would be the age of wisdom and beauty, what are the 40’s the age of?”

Her reply:  “Ugh, aging.  And denial…about aging.”

“Really?!”  I said with a look on my face that  appropriately reflected her answer.  “You are telling me that I am going from wisdom and beauty to Aging and Denial?  Forget it.  I’m tapping out.”

After some thought she said something wonderful that I have found to come true…slowly… over the last 10 years. “Freedom.  You find the Freedom to know and be who you are.”

This week, finishing up being “still in my 40’s” (and saying that A LOT), I contacted the wise woman.  Before I share what she said, there are two things you need to know.

  1.  My physician, Dr. David Thayer in Boulder CO,  has been my MD for 30 years.  The last few annual appointments he said:  “My job is to get you to 100 and then you are on your own.”  I take him seriously.  The whole ‘over-the-hill’ thing I am rejecting.  I think this is the half-way-there mark.
  2. This wise and wonderful friend has spent this year getting to know Cancer, Chemo, Surgery, Needles, Drains, Drugs, Discouragement, Doubt, Pain, Nausea, Help, Healing, Hope, very personally.  I won’t lie, I hesitated calling.  Yet, I’ve known Alice long enough to push hesitation aside.  You see, her wisdom & truth come from a heart and mind tuned into the Holy Spirit; from life experience and lessons learned through rough patches.  I knew I wanted what she had to give.

Here is the actual dialogue:

Me – still in my 40’s:
That time has come again.  Alice, what do I have to look forward to in the decade of the 50’s?
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Alice:
Hi Laura!

It’s so good to hear from you! ❤️

What to look forward to in the 50’s?

Grandchildren! 😀 But that element is outside our control and determination. However it is an effervescent gift beyond words!

By God’s grace my marriage survived the 30’s and 40’s, and I can say the 50’s is the most rewarding decade of all with my husband. Our love has deepened through trial and longevity. We enjoy hanging out together!

This is a quieter decade. Our nest is empty. And that’s okay.

Finally having the guts in this decade (where maybe I’ve grown a little bolder) to pursue God’s call to write full-time. And having the new maturity to cast everything aside that hinders the call (even the very good stuff) as I pursue His will and way.

Finally understanding His choice is the best possible one for me, designed for me — to bless others in His name — as I run the race He’s set before me. (And I fought tooth and nail to avoid his initial call! I was so afraid! 😩)

I think there’s less fear in this decade.

Greatest 50’s gift — God is gifting me with a significant life purpose as scribe. I don’t need to live vicariously and bug my grown kids to create my life. I get to live through my own life! 😀

Hope that helps as you step into a new decade sister! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

Talk soon.
Alice

Alice again – a follow-up reflection:
One more thing —

In my fifties I learned I’m vulnerable to disease. 😥

So now in recovery I try to view each new day as a gift and to be thankful for it.

❤️

Based on this wisdom, I think tomorrow may be the beginning of the Best Decade Yet!   I decided I’m going to strap on my Great Anticipation Cape and leap forward with feet flying, arms flailing, and shouting:  “HERE’S TO BEING HALF WAY THERE!”
 

Day 30: Food Love Stories November 7, 2013

Three Food Love Stories

Key Lime Love

When I turned 40 (yesterday…not really, a few yesteryears ago) my hubby threw me a surprise party.  He planned it via email in one week and no one blew it.  A handmade card from the girls gifted me with “go out with dad and we will stay home alone and pay for your dinner.”  My sweet near 12 year olds offered the gift of bravery and we took them up on it.  JR paid for dinner.  There were 2 calls during dinner which JR took,  passing on the updates from the brave ones.  Of course, they were in on the whole thing.

We pulled in the garage, I opened the door into the kitchen and in 2.5 seconds all of this happened:

  • I noticed the room was pitch black
  • The dog didn’t come to the door
  • The girls would NEVER have all the lights off
  • There was the silhouette of a very tall man dressed in all dark clothing
  • I panicked
  • The lights went on
  • 40 people I love shouted surprise
  • I fell in the doorway.

Horrific fear and delightful surprise slammed into each other.  The next 10 seconds all of this happened:

  • I saw my BFF  sitting on my kitchen stool
  • I went to her and started crying
  • I sobbed, “I LOVE SURPRISES”
  • She laughed and said, “I know you do”
  • I turned and saw all the people and couldn’t say anything
  • Then I saw the table full of everything Key Lime you can think of
  • I indignantly said to my hubby – who pulled off this wonderful surprise,  “Why did you let me order key lime pie at the restaurant?”

He said he didn’t want to blow the surprise over dessert!  It is the best gift he’s ever given me.

Hand Me Downs

When reorganizing my file drawer after moving into our little apartment here, I came across this envelope from my Grandma Rozie (Mother Mary’s mom).  Here’s what was inside:

  • One 4×6 card with a recipe for Never Fail Tomato Soup.  It has a swirly line under the title and this comment:  From Pella’s Choicest Cooking Recipes, green book.
  • “Leanne’s recipe – Delicious” on a Ciba Seeds note page with a recipe for something that has strawberries, yogurt, marshmallows in it and she took it for a potluck in R.Rapids Health Centre
  • 6 newspaper cut outs with recipes for Three Bean Salad, Rhubarb Blueberry Jam, Crock pot Barbecued Roast Beef, Sumi Salad, Creamy Rice Pudding, and Good Moist Coffee Cake
  • A Mutual Telephone Company  ‘tear off and remit with payment’ portion of the bill with a recipe for Penuche frosting on the back.
  • And a newspaper poem.  I’ll just share these few lines:

“All angels don’t have silver wings, Or long gossamer robes of white, Nor do they have haloes,  Of gold that glow both day and night.                                                                       There are those in polyester,  Who hasten to a sick friends’ bed, With love, a bowl of chick soup, And loaf of homemade bread.” 

Foodie language handed down through generations found in an envelope.  That explains a few things I love.

Crunchy Chili and Hard Tack

Michigan in the fall is spectacular.  They have colors there I’ve never seen anywhere else.  Michigan has two of the best things in my life.  1Pyc565026517m

I was just there in soup season, in my sweet spot.  Friday pizza birthday party night was a kitchen that slowly filled up with college students.  They came to celebrate,  meet and be met, and take part in dinner preparation.  I stood in the center of  kneading bread, chopping veggies, grating cheese and thinking, ‘life doesn’t get much better than this for me.’  I laughed when the girls pulled their dough covered hands out of the bowls asking why ‘hers looks different from mine’ and I remembered the missing 1/2 cup of water.  I thankfully handed the many blocks of mozzarella to ‘i want to do something’ helpers.  A meaningful conversation happened by the sink as one shared a piece of her life and learnings so kindly with me.   When it was time for assembly the volume increased around what would go on first, last, on half  or the whole thing.  Evenutally we ate the pizza creations, opened birthday gifts, shared life stories.

A day later, JR and I arrived at the house loaded with groceries once again and started some beans to soak overnight and prepare ingredients for chili the next day.  Prior to church Sunday, we threw ingredients in 2 crockpots and turned them on high.  What smelled good when we returned for lunch turned out to be chili with hard beans.  I took out a pot and poured one crockpot full into it and boiled away.  Even after 2 hours in the crock pot and an hour on the stove the beans were not very done.  Turns out that crunchy chili went well with the missing baking powder cornbread (aka: hard tack).  Yet, this less than perfect food didn’t take away anything from the joy of sitting around the table with my family and their community of delightful friends.   

Getting the food, making the food, eating the food…this is the love language I speak.

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Day 28: Hearing His Voice November 5, 2013

Final Button 3There are several places I can hear the Originator, Author, Creator.  He speaks the perfect Love Language,  sometimes in conviction, sometimes with clarity, so often summoning me to trust without understanding.  I’m learning to pay attention to His Voice, especially in these places:  ironing space, cooking space, & walking the dog places.  My heart ears are more tuned in, less distracted.  So it is with awe and wonder I receive thoughts from my daughter on baking bread and conflict.  I believe she too is hearing His Voice as she learns the love language of food.

She gave me permission to share.

“Today, baking bread reminds me of conflict.  You see, baking bread takes time. So does conflict. It isn’t something that you can plan into your schedule, or check off of your to-do list. Conflict is often a lengthy process. It is crucial to understand that time spent on resolving conflict is valuable and necessary. Time also allows healing.  It allows those engaged in conflict to come to a new place of understanding. 

You have to stick your hands in the dough and knead it until your forearms are sore. Conflict is the same way:  it requires hard work,  is not “hands-off” or something that one person can back out of.  If they do, the level of conflict might increase, or the friendship could end.  Dough sticks on your hands, fingers, fingernails. Even if you wash it off, remnants remain and crust over until you scratch them off.  Stickiness is also a factor of conflict.  It sticks on your mind, your spirit, your heart.   Sometimes, it does leave small scars that you “scratch” off.  Scars may remind you of the friendship that had to end, or the conflict that improved the friendship.

Baking bread requires multiple tries, and most of the time, much attention to detail. You normally don’t get it right the first time. Or the second. By time five, maybe you have begun to get a handle on things.  During the first (second, third, fourth, fifth) time that you are baking bread, it takes laughter and a great sense of humor to realize that you misread the recipe, and didn’t add enough water to the mix. Once you realize you have misread the recipe, you call your grandma and ask her for help. She gives you wisdom that should have been obvious in the current situation, but clearly that wisdom hadn’t dawned on you. You follow her directions (even when the bread seems hopeless and dry as play-doh) and find that there is hope for the bread (even if it is a little chunky on the inside).   Friendships often need multiple tries.   No one understands friendship or executes it perfectly at any point in life. Laughter is a key ingredient and is always welcome in friendship, and can be used with discretion during times of conflict.  In the midst of conflict, calling a wiser friend, parent, sibling or relative can give perspective, wisdom, joy, and reassurance.

Bread baking is messy.  There may times during the baking process that you need someone to pull up your sleeves and tell you how much flour you have on your sweatshirt. Similarly, friends involved in conflict need to confess their own failures, and express what the other friend did that hurt them.  

Baking bread requires space and creativity & time to rest.   Once you get through the process of mixing the ingredients, you have to let it sit.  And you wait. When the time comes, you punch it down and then let it rise all over again.  Friends must realize that giving each other space during a time of conflict is vital. Space allows for rest, reflection, perspective.  Issues that initiated conflict need time to “sit,” so that they are not blown out of proportion. Sometimes, the issues need re-assessment, or punching down. This re-assessment can allow friends to widen their perspectives, and understand the truth of the issues, not what was assumed.

 Finally, you bake that dough and something beautiful comes from it (hopefully).  You may realize the process is just as memorable as the product.  One of the best parts of friendship is resolving conflict.  Friends may find that conflict helped them to grow as people and as friends.  That’s beautiful.”

 

Here are some pictures of Lauren and a really good friend Scotch, who worked through a lot of conflict.  The results of that friendship…Absolutely Beautiful.

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followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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