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Now Choose Life

Choose to Live Your Life in Abundance in the after--- after the spouse dies, after the marriage ends, after the kids leave. Join me on my journey of CHOOSING LIFE in my after. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live- Deut 30:19

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March 13, 2019

It's Wednesday! The Peak of the Week for 3-13-19 Here is a list of things piquing my interest this week!!

Thank you to those of you who reached out to me after I shared what I said at a recent women's luncheon! Your kind words have meant so much to me. It warms my heart to think that something I said has helped someone going through a bad time!!

I'm in a rut!! The weather, the time change... so many excuses as to why I'm not moving like I should be (figuratively and literally)!! I'm so ready for warmer weather. How about you? I'm ready to go outside and feel warmth and sunshine! It will come- I know it will. I need patience. These feelings I'm having are such a great picture of life. Sometimes, our lives just seem to be in a rut. I am reminded of what my daughter and I have told ourselves on many occasions- What is going on in life right now, won't stay this way. The good or the bad won't stay!! Enjoy the good and let the bad teach us what it is meant to teach!!

We still have snow!! These pictures are from our weekend. Nice walk in the morning and skiing in the afternoon!! It's been a good ski season. I've actually gotten a little better at skiing thanks to my personal ski instructor and husband!!

Here is my list of things piquing my interest:

10 Women Writers share their must-read books for women's history month-- I have to admit that I haven't even heard of some of these titles, but I love a good book list!! I noticed that a Nora Ephron book made the list. If you haven't ever read anything by her, I encourage you to do it. I love her insights!!

Woman Transforms Rotting Tree Into Library- I love this so much!!! It's creative and beautiful!! I have had many dead trees on my property in Texas, I need to get creative!!

Sadly these dead trees aren't just dead because it's winter. They are dead from the wildfires that ravaged this area
in the past 20 years. The good news is that there is a lot of new growth! Again- another great picture
of how things work in our lives. From devastation comes new growth. 

Sisters Mourning Their Mother--visited by mysterious, friendly cardinal- I love this story and video so much. I don't understand some of the things that happen after a person we love passes, I just know that I have experienced some pretty weird things in my own life!! This is proof that some things just cannot be fully explained.

I hope you enjoy your Wednesday. I surely will- it's hair appointment day!!! Hair day is always a good day!! It's all downhill from here!!

March 11, 2019

What I Said- My talk at a recent women's luncheon!!

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I had the absolute honor of speaking at a women's luncheon back in Texas a few weeks ago. At the time that I agreed to do it, I had been going through a period of stretching myself, and "step outside your comfort zone" was my motto. As the luncheon got closer, I became more and more anxious! Negative self-talk became my norm! Now that the talk is done, I'm so glad that I did it. It was so well received, and everyone was so nice. It was such a positive experience!!

I had no idea what to wear for this. I knew that I would be so nervous that I would want to be comfortable. I found this cute jumpsuit on Amazon!!!

I've had several people ask for a video (which there isn't one). Others have asked for a copy. So I've copied my thoughts below. In all the trainings that I've done over my career, I've never had anything completely written out. This being so personal, I wanted it written out because there were just some things that I wanted to say a certain way. This is pretty much what was said on that Saturday.

Thanks so much to my wonderful friends and family who encouraged me! I'm so glad to have had this experience!!

I had so much support!!

Thank you- I want to start by saying that I am not an expert!!  I now live in a community full of Ph.D. scientists. Where I live places a lot of emphasis on being an expert! What I have learned and want to share does not come from formal education. It comes from the school of hard knocks. But as I’ve prepared for this talk, I realize that I don’t even have a Ph.D. from the school of hard knocks. I’ve lived a very good life. I simply stand before you this morning a woman who suffered a tragedy. It is now my goal in life to help others as so many have helped me.

I worked under the wonderful Ann S when I started as a librarian at the Jr Hi here. She used to always tell us when we went to a meeting or a conference-- “If you get ONE thing out of it, it is worth your time.”

 My prayer is that each of you gets at least one Take Away from what I have to say today.

April 29, 2012, my world changed forever when my husband of 26 years passed away. Very Suddenly- Very Unexpected. I found myself a widow at the age of 48.

I’m not going to tell that story today, I want to talk about the aftermath of that tragedy.

Not long after R passed away, Tina T came by my house with a book from the GriefShare in one arm and a hug for me with the other and told me about an organization called GriefShare which is a Christian Grief Support Group. I immediately started getting the emails.

One day in the summer, the scripture Deut 30:19 was the focus of an email.

Deut 30:19 says

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

That scripture changed my life and changed my outlook. I had been trying to show my children how to grieve as Someone Who Has Faith. My kids and I had discussed it—We wanted to grieve as a family of faith. But, this verse made me realize that I had to do more-- I had to be an example of how to choose life even in the midst of losing their dad!! I wanted them to go on to live full lives. I needed to do that as well.

Many Bible commentaries will say that this scripture is referring to choosing God. I believe that. I also believe that Jesus saying “ I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” in John 10:10 also goes along with this verse. God wants us to live our life, not just exist in it.

Duet 30:19 is an imperative- a command for us to choose to live our lives in obedience and living it to the fullest. We have a choice daily of how we live. Our life should be more about quality-how we live than it is quantity-how many years we live!!

So how do we choose life when tragedy strikes? It may look different for every single person, but I will share with you what helped me choose life and move forward. I clumsily muddled through and luckily had family and friends who extended grace to me at every turn.
My mother and sister with me at my table. I love getting to use my Fireking dishes!!
The absolute 1st thing you have to do to choose life is:
  1.  Accept Your Life
You have to come to terms with your reality---Take just a minute and really be honest with yourself- what is your reality this morning?
            I would love to think that looking out at all these beautiful faces, it’s all
          good, but I know too many people who are dealing with really hard
          Realities this morning.

            Children not doing well in school-- kids with addictions-- Moms- there is nothing worse than a hurting child. Death of people we love, marriages that have REAL problems, Cancer, MS, Parkinson's, and Dementia diagnosis--

Y’all- everything I just mentioned has happened to someone close to me in the past year. Tragedy is part of our lives.

I met a young woman in a GriefShare group that I led whose mother had died 10 years before. She had never accepted her mother’s death. She had let her grief become her identity- it was just who she was. She had allowed her grief to paralyze her in life. She is a great example that:
Before you can take a step forward, you have to accept your life- whatever cards you have been dealt. You have to accept it in order to deal with it. Not dealing with it only prolongs and sometimes adds to the heartache.

It meant so much to have some of my daughter's friends there!!

The 2nd thing you can do is
2.  Take Care of Yourself-- Spiritually, Physically, and Emotionally

Take care of yourself
            --Spiritually-- If you are in a good place in your life, start now for those troubled times by reading your bible and strengthening your faith. Make sure you know God’s word. Make sure you have a firm foundation for your life so the tidal wave doesn’t completely wash you away. This takes self-discipline-I don’t really like the word Self Discipline!--------- stick with going to church, stick with reading your bible. Even when you don’t feel like it. It will make all the difference later on if you do.

I did try to take care of myself spiritually by attending GriefShare. It helped me so much!! I am a big believer in Christian counseling! I also knew that I had to turn into my faith- the faith that I said I believed since I was a little girl. Would I turn from it just because things hadn’t gone the way I wanted? No. I made a choice to continue walking in faith.

Take care of yourself
                Physically- Exercise- make sure you move- getting outside in nature is good for the Soul. There is just something about fresh air and getting your heart rate up.

I want to throw this out there!
 5 am gym classes are the best!!!! On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I knew it wouldn’t be long and I could get up to go to class

 I had support in so many areas, but my running friends were the best.     
 Beth, Ami, Angi, Donna, Laura W and our sweet, Laura C-- all ran with me at times. Beth and Laura C even trained for a marathon with me!!
Having that marathon in my future kept me outside running and getting exercise that my body so desperately needed to help me deal with the stress I was under.

 I watched what I ate. I ate healthy meals. I was worried that my body would succumb to the stress. Eating good foods that nourished my body was something that I could control in a life that I felt was out of control.

 AND I took the horse pill vitamins that my sister spent way too much
 money on just for me!! She was so worried about me!

               Emotionally- go to therapy if you need to, talk to friends, go to church- feed your soul. Emotions are all over the place after a tragedy! Do things to help keep them in check. My mother and my friend Pam S were a huge help in listening to me. They helped me realize if my thoughts or worries were irrational. Irrational thoughts can be very scary!! Don’t let them get a stronghold on your life.
I’m a huge believer in writing down thoughts!! Write and then write some more. I call it verbally vomiting on the page. It’s a release like no other. Write down your thoughts and get them out of your head!!  
Writing---- so cathartic- I started with a journal and then a secret blog. I had to find a purpose for the pain I was in. I’ll be honest. I will never know that purpose in R dying. What I had to find was a purpose for the pain I was experiencing. I didn’t want it to all be in vain. That is why I write my blog, that is why I lead grief support groups, that is why I lead a women’s group at my church--all of which require thought and writing. All those things feed me emotionally and spiritually-- they give my life purpose. They give my pain purpose.

One of the greatest themes!! Donut Worry/ Be Happy!

And thirdly--
3.  Maintain Hope--

Max Lucado calls despair and hopelessness our enemy. Think about that for a minute- it’s an enemy that wants to destroy your life. Don’t let it!!

It takes work to maintain hope. The saying- Time Heals All Wounds isn’t true- Time and a lot of hard work Heal wounds.

Pat C told me one time--  One thing a cancer patient can do is- Go shopping and buy clothes for next season. It gives you hope that you will be healthy to wear them in the next season. And, a little shopping always helps!

I love the scripture in Job 42:12--- “God blessed the 2nd half of Job’s life greater than he had the 1st.”  Yes, it really says that in the bible. I took that as a promise to me from God. I prayed that God would do that in my own life. I knew he could bless the 2nd half of my life greater than the 1st.
Good things CAN and DO come after tragedy!!

My great childhood friend Ronald called to check on me a lot that first year.
One night he told me-- Always have something down the line to look forward to. It gives hope.

That’s such good advice!! It might have been a trip to see my parents, a race I was running with Beth and Laura, my kids coming home from college, meeting Laura and Lori after school on Thursdays to talk, or my sister coming to spend a Wednesday night with me so I wouldn’t have to go all week at home by myself. I always tried to have something on the horizon to look forward to. It just helps to think of the good things that you know are coming.

I had two other very close friends there, and we didn't get pictures together!! Lori and Suzanne- thank you!!!

AND- OK I’m baring my soul a bit here!! I had what I call a plan C.

Obviously, in tragedy, our plan A hasn’t worked out. Plan B might be a safe, easy way of moving forward. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m pretty much living my Plan B.

But I believe in having a Plan C after a tragedy.

This came to me in of all places- Paris!! My kids and I were in Paris the summer after R passed away. Just picture it- we were eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Beautiful!! I was taking in the architecture of the city and basking in the sun --And then- fighting. My grown kids were bickering about something. All of a sudden, Paris wasn’t so beautiful! I thought to myself,--How am I going to do this- I don’t know if I can do this!! My kids can’t even get along. I looked up to see a beautiful Parisian woman riding down the street on a bicycle. Who was she? Where was she going? I sat there thinking about her, and I thought-- that can be me someday. I can get my kids through college, I can retire from school; I can move to Paris to teach English--- that can be my life.

 Plan C is your wildest dream.  Have you ever thought about your plan C??? Having a plan C really helped me get through those terrible days. I always knew that if I wanted, I could completely change my life. We all have the ability to change our lives in some way. Having options is huge. Could I have really afforded to move to Paris? Would I have had the nerve to move to Paris-- probably not; But I had the dream that I could, and it gave me so much hope.

I didn’t know what was going to happen for my future. I’m remarried now, and very happy, but that didn’t always feel like it was going to happen. Trent and I had to work through some stuff.

What if my life with him didn’t work out? What was I going to do? Again, I had a Plan C. I was going to go back to school and take writing classes- do something just for me.

And, when I retired from school, I was going to rent out the house here to an oil company (making bookoos of money remember- this is my wildest dream) and use that money to rent an apartment in NYC where my daughter, M was living at the time.

See--- plan C doesn’t have to always seem completely rational!!! You certainly don’t have to have all the details worked out. But I do believe that if your Plan C measures up with God’s plan for your life, he will work out the details anyway!!

I still have dreams of one day living in New York City- I love it there, but it will probably never happen. But Trent and I dream of one day moving back here and having a couple of longhorns and a donkey grazing in the pasture in front of the house!! Don’t ever stop dreaming!!

Jeremiah 29:11 says- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

God wants good things for all of us.

We need to be so in tune with God through prayer and bible study that we can sense the directions God has for us. I don’t think God cares where I live as long as I serve him when I get there.

I saw a quote on a Grief Support Group that I follow on Facebook- it says: “ Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.” Michelle Rosenthal

Making choices is part of the healing process—May we all make sure we are making Godly choices!!

I don’t know what you are facing today. I don’t know what the future holds for any of us. What I do know is that our futures will be full of Good times and Bad.

How we handle the bad that comes our way makes all the difference in our lives.

I encourage you to live your life and live it to the fullest. It’s the only one you’ve got!

I truly believe that accepting our lives, taking care of whole beings and maintaining hope even in the midst of tragedy can help us choose the full and abundant life that God desires for all of us.

It has been an honor to share my thoughts with you today!!

I'd love to know your thoughts on my thoughts!! How do you "Choose Life"???
March 09, 2019

What I Read- Becoming!!

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The last six months here have shown big changes for me. I have met some friends and have really been enjoying my time with them. One thing that has been huge for me is a Book Club! We met a few weeks ago after reading our first book, Michelle Obama's Becoming!!!

When I suggested this book, I made it clear that I didn't want to get into any political conversations, and everyone agreed that they didn't either. Of course, that was hard to do, but we did manage to keep politics to a minimum!!!

We all enjoyed the book and had some great conversations!!

Here is my take on her memoir:

1. She really is a lot like us!!! I don't know if she would agree with that statement, but I found a great connection to her life growing up. No, I'm not black. I have no idea what it would be like to be black living in this country, but I could identify with her connection to family. She grew up in a close, hard-working family. Her parents expected good things from her and worked extremely hard to support her.

Her first line is, "I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving." I can relate to that. I grew up with parents who believed in the American Dream!! They had big dreams, and "striving" was part of their lives.

2.  I love the relationship she has with her mother because I am close to my mother! Race, age, social status doesn't matter when you have a good mother!!

She said this about her mother, "Our decisions were on us. It was our life, not hers, ad always would be." p. 47  If that doesn't describe the moms of the 70s then I don't know what does. Where did moms lose that mentality??

I love this account of a conversation that she had with her mom about  wanting to leave her job at a high powered law firm in Chicago:

            I let out another sigh. "I'm just not fulfilled," I said.
                 I see now how this must have come across to my mother, who was in the
           ninth year of a job she'd taken primarily so she could help finance my college
           education, after years of not having a job so that she'd be free to sew my
           school clothes, cook my meals, and do laundry for my dad, who for the sake
           of our family  spent eight hours a day watching gauges on a boiler at the
           filtration plant. My mom, who'd just driven an hour to fetch me from
           the airport, who was letting me live rent-free in the upstairs of her house,
           and who would have to get herself up at dawn the next morning in order
           to help my disabled dad get ready for work, was hardly ready to indulge
           my angst about fulfillment.    p. 135

           Her mother's response: "If you're asking me," she said, "I say make the money first and worry about your happiness later." p. 135

Those are words that would have come out of my mother's mouth under those circumstances!!

3.  She lost her father way too early.

"My father-- Fraser Robinson III--had a heart attack and passed away that night, having given us absolutely everything."

Wow- can I relate to that statement!!

4.  Up until her time in the White House, she did all the shopping for her girls.

She shares this thought when she has almost waited too late to find the girls hats to wear when their dad announces that he will run for president.

"It wasn't long before I became less concerned with making sure Malia and Sasha looked like the daughters of a future president than making sure they looked like they at least had a mother."

I could go on and on sharing quotes that I loved in this book. It is well written and gives a glimpse into what she remembers about her journey. Even she admits that " most memories is imperfect and subjective-- collected long ago like a beach pebble and slipped into the pocket of my mind."

That is one of my favorite lines from the whole book!!

I highly recommend that you read this book. I know many conservatives who do not like her. I would hope that everyone would be open-minded enough to hear her story!!!

March 08, 2019

What I Wore- Camouflage --Fashion Friday!!

Camouflage Jeans- Little did I know when I purchased these camouflage jeans last fall from Amazon that I would need them for my son's wedding shower in a few months. I have loved these jeans. I had several people at the shower comment on how much they liked them too. They come in several colors, but I love the camouflage!!

These are the pants I ordered from Amazon. They did work a little magic on the bum!!
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My son is getting married, and I couldn't be more excited. I told his bride-to-be the other day that if I had gotten to order someone for him, I wouldn't have been able to dream her up. She is just perfect for him. She loves to be outdoors, and she is extremely creative and likes to do projects --just like him.

My wonderful friends in Texas had a fun themed couples shower for them several weeks ago. We were all encouraged to wear camouflage for a "The Hunt Is Over" party!!

Here is what I wore. I also decided to share some of my favorite things from the house in Texas.

First, I love my staircase. We bought the wood for the staircase from an old dance studio that had been torn down in Fredricksburg, Texas.

Another favorite item in the Texas house is the sink and vanity in the guest bathroom. I found this antique washstand and had the plumbers make it into a sink stand for this bathroom. I love that the sink looks just like a bowl!!

Another favorite is another sink! Farmhouse or Apron Front sinks have always been my favorite sinks for any kitchen. When we built this house, they were pretty basic. Now there are so many types to choose from!!

People ask me a lot why we decided to keep the house in Texas. These are just three small reasons!  Dr. T and I love this house. My kids love this house. For me and my kids, there are so many memories here. I picked out every single item in this house. It is just a house, but Dr. T and I have decided that we will keep it for as long as we can. It was a great place to raise kids, and we are looking forward to making wonderful memories with grandkids in this old house!!!

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March 06, 2019

Wednesday is the Peak of the Week!! Here's a list of things that have piqued my interest 3-5-19

Happy Wednesday- The Peak of the Week!! Here are some things piquing my interest this week!!

The wildflowers were starting to bloom in South Texas when I was there last week. It's being predicted that this will be the best wildflower season in 10 years!! I can't wait to see it. It just makes me happy to look at a field of flowers!!

Luke 12:27-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[a] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his[b] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

How to Grant Your Child An Inner Life- Wow, am I glad my kids are grown. This article brings up points that I haven't really ever thought about when it comes to the parenting of today VS the parenting in the non-digital age!!

How To Age Well- I need to keep returning to this one over the years. I do want to age well!!

Southwest Airlines- Bridemaid's dress delivery- Just one more reason to love Southwest Airlines!!

Have a great rest of your week! It's all downhill from here!!