Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Puzzle

I had intended to write a few more blogs about the “unexpecteds” that we encountered on vacation (like the fresh bear tracks, fur, and feces that kept us from continuing our hike; or like the herd of deer meandering down the street as we were hiking through town) and post the pictures that went with them. However, so much has happened since we got home and there is so much to reflect on that I might just have to hold those thoughts to myself for now.

What I want to talk about right now are jigsaw puzzles. My parents and I have always loved doing them and I remember often coming home to a new puzzle laid out on the card table. (I also remember a bird we had that totally frustrated my dad because it liked to steal and destroy the pieces.) I have a certain way that I like to do a puzzle – the easy way. First I do the entire border and then I start filling in the middle pieces by color and pattern.
Today I was picturing life as a jigsaw puzzle. We are given all these pieces of differing shapes and colors. The border pieces are put together first and I imagine that those are the pieces of our growing up years that form the shape and outline of our picture. We then spend the rest of our life filling in the middle patterns and colors to complete the picture of who we are to become.
But imagine that you are given a box of jigsaw pieces that are completely blank – no colors or pictures, just plain white- and to make matters worse many of the border pieces are missing. It would be frustrating if not impossible to put the border together, and therefore a staggering impossibility to make sense of the middle pieces.
That blank jigsaw puzzle is a wonderful depiction of my life. With so much of the border missing and no color or substance to help define a picture, for almost 50 years I’ve been unable to grasp who I am or to make sense of how the pieces fit together. But recently God has been doing an amazing work that almost defies description. All I can say is that He is beginning to hand me the rest of the border pieces and to add color and pattern to what is there. There is suddenly a border to my life – pieces and colors and patterns that I’ve desperately needed to add shape to who I am and who I am becoming are being found. And that border is now helping me to put so many of the other pieces into the place they belong and to make sense of the overall picture. It is like an epiphany the way the pieces are suddenly finding their place and the picture is beginning to take shape. All I can say is “God is Awesome!”
I will turn 50 in a few months. I know that for some people, that is a difficult birthday, and for some even a mid-life crisis time. Not for me. Right now I feel like I’m undergoing some kind of new birth, a resurrection, a coming together into who I am and who I am created to be. There’s no way I can feel that I’m in “mid-life” when I am just beginning to feel more alive than I ever remember being.
As I said, “God is awesome!”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Unexpected #1

There were lots of "unexpecteds" on this trip to Colorado. The first was an unexpected snow. The forecast the week before had looked ideal for hiking so we showed up in our shorts, shoes, sweatshirts, and backpacks. Ha! Suddenly there is a forecast for a big wet snow (which the locals rejoiced about. I guess it had been a dry, windy, and strange spring for that area.) So, the inner nudgings moved us to a different lodging for the next few days. It was a wonderful motel we had stayed at before, complete with an indoor pool and hot tub, and fresh cookies, coffee, and tea in the afternoons. They had a mid-week special on a king jacuzzi room, so we took it, moved in and hunkered down for the snow storm. It was AWESOME! We swam, soaked, played cards, talked, read, slept, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the snow coming down outside. Usually I want to hike, hike, hike. But this time I was so content to just watch the snow and rest. (God knew what we both really needed.) It was a good heavy wet snow. I have to confess that I was impressed by Woodland Park -they are on the ball when it comes to handling snow and cleaning the streets.
To be continued. . . .

First Blog About Vacation

I have been doing a lot of reflecting about our recent trip to Colorado. Bear with me if there are numerous blogs about that trip.
This trip to Colorado was different for us for many reasons. #1 We had originally planned on going to the ocean, BUT in searching our hearts we realized we NEEDED the mountains. #2 We went as soon as we could out of desperation. #3 We just went - no plans, no reservations, no real destination.
It took us two days just to get from Salina to Colorado Springs. We were both just so exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally that we had to stop in Colby, KS to spend the night.
I'm glad we stopped because that way we hit the mountains in mid-afternoon. It's always so amazing to get there. This time it was cool to see what we thought were masses of clouds hanging in the distance but discovered were actually lots of snow on the mountains. Indescribable! As is the feeling I get every time we arrive - when I hit the mountains I get that "coming home" feeling.
We called Zac to do an internet search for us about a place we thought we'd stay at in Colorado Springs (I was leaning toward supper at a jazz club - thought that would be an awesome experience). However, the inner nudgings moved us on and we ended up in Woodland Park (a small community - a pass through to other places). Our first few nights were spent in a lodge - kinda like a B&B and motel combination.

One of the things I love most about vacation is the people I meet. At the lodge, we met Judi. Judi was awesome (and she made the world's best waffles.) I tend to like to really dig to get to know people whenever I can and I got to know Judi over breakfast one morning. Judi's story was cool and she'll probably never know how much she encouraged me that day. Her story is one of the steps it took to find her place and "falling into" a job that she is just so designed for. She gave me renewed hope that all the pieces that are happening in my world are being designed and put into place to prepare me for what God has ahead.
To be continued. . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beautiful Babies

Mr. Ri-Ry

Miss Muffin

An Afternoon with Ri-Ry.

Now where did you say my mommy and daddy went?

Yep, I can do carrots.

Granny wore the little man out.

Everyone feels good after a nap.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Day with Miss Muffin

Sliding in the park.

Climbing in the park.

Swinging with Granny.

Tired from beating up Grandpa.

Just being Raegan.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Blog that Wrote Itself

I had a dream last night that was really strange and somewhat distressing. In the dream, my parents had this huge contraption (I'm not even sure what it was), and my job was to take it all apart and fit it back into its original box. If you've ever tried to put anything back in its original container, then you know what I was facing. The contraption was HUGE and the box was slim and narrow. The task was virtually impossible, and I woke up in the middle of trying, kind of tired and out of sorts.
I know from Joseph in the Bible that some dreams have an underlying meaning. I've been thinking about it this morning and wondering if this is one of those dreams. Maybe the dream signifies how I feel about everything that's been happening these many months. The situations have been big (and not of all them are just about my parents). I've been trying to systematically break things down and deal with what pieces I can. I've been trying to make things fit into a pattern that is managable and frankly, sometimes there is no pattern and manageability. Most days I feel like I'm just wingin' it, I don't know what to do, and I'm often left feeling that I haven't done enough. I just do the next thing to the best of my ability (sometimes after turning in circles wondering what the next thing is).
I always thought that this time of life (post empty nest) would be easier. I had visions of what Dick and I would be doing. . . .this wasn't in my visions. Things were hectic when the kids were home, yet life was more defined. With kids, you usually know what the next thing is. There are mileposts to meet, activities, events, lesson plans, but everything has a course and somewhat defined outcome. I basically had an overall picture of where we were going and what I had to do. Each day "fed" itself into accomplishing the next milestone.
Now everything feels muddled. I don't know where we're going, and it feels like the dreams we did have have been religated to a foggy back burner where maybe they simmer but we just can't see them. Often it seems there's a crisis here and a crisis there, and I just have to put out fires (or patiently sit by while they burn themselves out.)I do still spend each day thanking God for all the little blessings, but I also spend a great deal of time fighting doubts. (The voices in my head have been uglier lately, too.) I find I'm more tired and I fear I'm forgetting how to laugh. (In fact, if I had any prayer request at this moment, it would be that God would bless me with a real belly laugh. I haven't done that in a long time.)
I think I'm going to re-read Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." It's an excellent and inspiring read. He talks about the 4 quadrants in which we live our lives, and I know that I am spending too much time in Quadrant 1 (the crisis quadrant) and that is detrimental to my health. I need some inspiration, some impetus to get me back into a healthy outlook and daily walk. I just have this feeling that if I keep in the track I'm in, it's not going to be good. This blog is a revelation in itself. How I got from describing a dream to my need to re-read a book shows you the convoluted path my days and thoughts seem to take.
In thinking it through, maybe the meaning of the dream is really not about my parents but about me. I was (and often am) trying to live within the expectations of others (my parents wanted the contraption put back into its original box.) The dream would have played out so much better if I had just followed my instincts and gone and bought a bigger box to put the contraption in. I know that I am too much of a people pleaser, always wanting everyone around me to be happy. Somehow, I think, I need to figure out how to bury my fears that if I let people down, they'll stop loving me. Just because they judge my actions or choices as wrong in their eyes, it doesn't mean I'm wrong. Who are they to judge me any way? I have a Master that I stand or fall to.
Life is squeezing me and grinding me right now. And I think maybe it's time that I stood up. Maybe it's time I grew up. Maybe it's time I went out and bought a bigger box and instead of giving in to everyone else's expectations, it's time I did it my way.