That Which We Will Not Give Up

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Friday, Sept. 4: What are you passionate about?

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This one is not as easy as it sounds.  I tend to rule with my emotions, so on any given day I could be passionate about any given thing, depending on my mood.  Hence, the need to filter through all those emotions to land on my true passions.  As I have gotten older, things have shifted and I’ve been learning to curb the emotional tide that can overpower reason from time to time. I truly believe that our passions our woven together with God’s purpose for our lives, and as such, require careful curating.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Maybe the real passion comes from those things that emerge as the non-negotiables.  Sometimes, we waste our energies and passions on causes that aren’t ours to bear.  It’s rather like the overuse of the word love (guilty here, too!).  We use love to describe everything from the latest trendy socks, to food, to our job and the people we’d do anything for.  Sometimes in all that love, it’s hard to know what love really is.  It’s more than a word to describe a feeling.  It’s an action that springs up from our very depths and will not be squashed.

For example, I love Pizza, but I could survive without it.  I love my husband and I don’t even want to think about surviving without him.  Obviously, the word love here is used to mean more than one kind of love.  I think it’s the same with passion.  Some things on our passionate list may have more priority than others and listing them together may seem shallow.  But, as long as we understand the difference, then I think everything I”m passionate about from the mundane to the world changing can make peace with being on the same list.  From that list, I can then narrow my focus to those that are non-negotiable. Those that I will hold onto for dear life. Those that most define my God-given purpose.

Some of my current passions, in no particular order, are: Alzheimer’s, my husband, my family, chocolate, Italian food, Writing, decorating and organizing my home, napping, watching Blue Bloods, the current political and moral climate, enjoying a girls day out, taking drives, snapping pictures of everything, day dreaming and my faith in God and the gift of salvation.

I must add here, that I think the things we are passionate about don’t necessarily mean that we love all of them.  Sometimes, our passionate focus on something can stem from our desire to fight back against that which we we truly hate.  I also think that some passions are for a season and some are for life.

A prime example of this is the fact that my mother has Alzheimer’s.  I’m very passionate about Alzheimer’s during this season of life.  Not because I love the disease ( I truly hate all that it represents), but because I love my mother. I’m passionate about protecting her and helping her, not because I want to make decisions for her, but because she needs me to and I love her, so I want what is best for her.

Alzheimer’s was not on my passion radar until it knocked on my door. Whether or  not it continues to be a passion hinges on a lot of variables, one of which could mean that I too may one day stare this ugly disease in the face.  I passionately hope and trust not, but it is not mine to decide.

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Another current passion that made my list is Blue Bloods.  It’s just a TV show people.  No big deal.  Really, could I be any more shallow.  Is it a true, fight to the death, passion? No, of course not.  But, during this season of life it represents a lot of things to me: time spent with my husband, a chance to unwind from the real world, a glimpse into a family dynamic that speaks of love, service, trust and passion.  All the things I think are important for family to cling to in times of distress.

Especially in times of distress.  Those are the times we most clearly need to be passionate.  Much of life requires us to fight for our needs to be met, to fight for what we believe in, to fight for what feeds our soul. It is during these times that we need to know what we will not give up.  

I can give up Blue Bloods, I can even (hope I don’t have to) give up chocolate, or a lot of other passions, but there are a few that I will fight for such as my faith, my husband, my family my friends, and the need to be creative.

Writing is a gift from God and I know it is woven into the very fiber of my being.  Even in those times when the well seems to be dry, or I am frozen to publish anything  I still know that writing is a part of me.  I still know that my survival hinges on being able to express my thoughts in words; being able to paint you a picture with my words.  That is why I keep writing, even the mundane, so that I don’t lose touch with the passion of laying down words, because I don’t want to miss the day when the purpose in the passion shines through in the most brilliant of ways and my soul sighs in blissful contentment. 

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Finding purpose and passion in grace,

Teresa

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Checking In

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Just checking in with an update.  Change is still happening around here. Due to both our computers being in the shop for two weeks my tweaking was interrupted.

I want to carve out some time over the next couple of weeks to finish the new look of the blog (note:  nothing is written in stone so the tweaking may take awhile).

Also, I’m hoping to finally get back on a somewhat regular writing schedule. More on that as thoughts develop.  I know I don’t want to obsess over the “rules of blogging” whatever they may be.  I don’t want to worry about statistics and who may or may not be reading my blog.  I figure that God sends the people that need to read what I have to say.

Writing is not a competition.  It is a conversation between like minded individuals. There is room for my voice, your voice and all the writing voices to be heard.  My blog won’t be for all readers, but it will be exactly the spot that others will need to be.  So, I trust that those who need me and those I need will find their way here and become part of a community. If you are already a “regular”, thanks for sticking by me in the lean times.

I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and encouragement.  I know the latest trends say that blogging is dying.  I know a lot of people don’t engage in conversation.  I just want you to know that I value your conversation and try my best to respond to all comments.   I also value your right to remain silent, so I never want anyone to feel pressured to leave comments.

I pray you will find the  conversation here uplifting and insightful.  My hope is that all who enter here will feel at home and find a sense of place.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Writing in Grace,

Teresa

What I Learned In March

I always think I’ll keep a list of things I learned. But, of course, I don’t.  Then at the end of the month, I’m left wondering just what I learned, or even if I learned anything.  I search the depths of my mind for any morsel that will prove that I do pay attention to what is happening in my world. 100_2932 Evidently, this month a few things stuck (mostly from the past few days, hours even), so here goes in no particular order:

1.  I learned that I like the taste of Trader Joe’s chocolate chips better than the store brand or that popular brand (you know the one with the cookie recipe).

2.  I learned that Homes.com has vastly overestimated the value of my humble little cottage.  I mean, I don’t live in California.  If I did, it would be worth what they say it is. 100_2871 100_2879 3.  I learned that I love, love, love the newest DQ Blizzard, the Fanniversary Blizzard in honor of their 75th anniversary.  Go get you one now or as soon as possible. Thanks, Gwen for making me want one.

4.  I learned that Conway Twitty’s real name is Harold Jenkins (I may have known this before, but forgot – it sounded familiar when I was reading about him).

5.  I further learned that the name Conway Twitty was a compilation of two cities – Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas.  Nowadays people seem to use their own names, but back in the day it was very popular to have a stage name, especially if your original moniker was deemed uninspiring.  I heard one time that the way to choose your name if you were a country singer was to choose the name of your first pet and your Mother’s maiden name.  In case you were wondering mine would be Mittens Maddox.  (A gray cat with four white paws named Mittens at my grandmothers that I claimed.) If you’re interested, my husband’s would have been Boots Logan. Ok…moving on.

6.  I further learned that during his 35-year career, Conway had over 100 albums and 55 number one singles.

7.  One time a lady was having a heart attack at one of his concerts and refused to leave with the paramedics until she heard Conway sing Hello, Darlin’.  Seems someone got a message to him, and he sang the song for her so she’d go to the hospital.

All the info in numbers 4-7 came from this website where you can find much more information about him.  Click on over to read the rest.

8.  I was getting a little scared about my blogging break and the fact that words wouldn’t come, but then a couple of other bloggers (here and here) really encouraged me to embrace this time and see what God is teaching me and to journal with pen and paper.  I’ve been slowly, but surely taking their advice.  Thanks, Barbie and Deidra for your encouragement it is helping.  I’m learning to take this season in stride and let God set the pace. 100_2797 9. I’ve also been more intentional the past few days about making time to be in the word.  For me, it seems to sink in better at night, so I’m learning it’s ok for me not to be a morning person.  I’m learning that it’s ok to fit my mold and not everyone else’s.

10.  Just tonight, I became aware of some thoughts I have about my writing and how I want it to impact others.  There is more to learn here as the thoughts are written down and processed.  As I was praying about my writing, one thing I realized is that I want my writing to make people feel like they have come home.

11.  I also realized that I love the sound of a pencil scratching across paper.  I usually write in my journal with a pen.  Tonight I wanted to jot down a thought before I forgot, and a pencil was all that was available, so that is what I used.  It was so satisfying to actually hear my thoughts glide across the page.  That means I need to get my bouquet of pencils sharpened and ready.

12.  In case you didn’t know, that bouquet of pencils comment in number 11 is a reference to a quote from You’ve Got Mail,  probably my most favorite movie ever. Ever. I knew that, but you might not have. Now you do. Go watch it, and you can thank me later. Although I can’t imagine why you haven’t already seen the movie.  Also, this reminds me of my friend Cindy who once got me a bouquet of pencils for my birthday because she knew I loved that quote from the movie. That is a good friend. PM.mail.quote 13.  I discovered that a bunch of supermarket Roses can be arranged in Blue Mason jars and give days of enjoyment, and they are even more enjoyable when you share two of your three bunches with friends. 100_4258     100_4278   What about you?  What have you been learning – please feel free to share in the comments.

Would you like to join the party?  Go on over to Chatting At The Sky and see what other people are learning in March.

Learning Takes Grace,

Teresa

Nodding to the Not

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I did not choose a word for 2015.  I did not set goals, or make resolutions, or sum up my blog or give a state of the blog address or list my most read post of the previous year.  I did not usher in the New Year with any kind of fanfare.

So far, this has been the year of Not.  So, I guess you could say in my non-conformist ways of not doing so many things that other bloggers seem to do and that I have done in the past, I inadvertently chose the word “not” for my 2015 word.  Except, I did not.

“Why not?”  you may ask.  I don’t know.  I haven’t even written on my blog since December 31, when I wrote an end of the year “what I learned” post about Rearranging Furniture so I could link up with Emily over at Chatting At The Sky.  So, I guess you could say that I sort of did a year end summary. I’ve done these “what I learned” posts before though, so just following my norm.  I don’t think it counts or reverses my not’s in any way.

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So, here’s the thing.  I want to write.  Truly, I do.  I write things in my head all the time.  Almost everything that comes into my world has potential for an essay or story of some kind, so the words are always at the ready, so to speak.  For some reason, I haven’t been. Ready.

There could be a reason for this, or maybe it just is.  Maybe it’s the season in which I find myself currently residing.  Maybe it’s fear that I don’t really have anything to say.  Maybe it’s exhaustion.  Maybe it’s unanswered questions. Maybe I need to find my sense of place.

All I know is that it seems to be a season of unwritten words that float on the outskirts of my mind, just out of reach of pen to paper, or more accurately, finger tips to keyboard.  It doesn’t feel like it’s going to end any time soon.  Or, I suppose, it could end tomorrow. Either way, I have decided to embrace this journey of “not” and see what it’s about.  I am not going to fight “nothing”.  I am just going to rest and see what develops.  Or, not.

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So, I think this means, in case you haven’t already noticed, that I’m taking a blogging break.  There, I said it. I’m taking a blogging break.  I don’t know for how long.  And, I don’t exactly know why.  I hope there is a purpose and it’s not just laziness.  I hope I figure out some things about my writing, or about me, while I’m not blogging.  And, I hope you don’t forget about me because I won’t forget about you, the few, who read my words.

It seems silly to worry that I’ll lose you in the lull, and it seems even sillier, to let the fear of losing you be the reason I don’t take a break, when a break is clearly called for.  I have to trust that when the words are ready to be read you will welcome me back.

In the meantime, please know that I value you and the time you have given to reading my words and encouraging me along the way.  Some of you are silent readers behind the scenes; Some of you are friends and family I’ve known a long time, others are people I’ve met through this fascinating world of blogging and you have become true friends.  I will not forget you and even though I’m on break I will still be reading your blogs or seeing you on Facebook.

I haven’t laid down my pen for good and my hope is that there will still be words put to paper while I’m on break.  I hope there are words written that I can someday share with you.  I appreciate being kept in your prayers while I am on hiatus.

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Nodding in Grace,

Teresa

Rearranging Furniture

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I have come to the conclusion that rearranging furniture  is probably a metaphor for life. We have played musical furniture so many times over the past year and are probably not done yet.  I’m starting to realize that shifting furniture around and making the pieces fit can teach us much about life.  We have to look at our available resources and determine how they can work together to create the space that we need in order to be at our most productive.  This is true of living life to our fullest potential as well as having a home with well-balanced furniture and accessories. Sometimes we have to accept that it might be time for something to go in order to make room.

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This has been a year of accepting that God sometimes rearranges our plans.  My husband has been without an official, includes benefits, job for a while now.  Doors have been slamming all over the place.  I finally changed the way I was praying.  I started asking God to send my husband the work he had for him to do rather than asking God to send him the job we thought he needed. I also asked God to give us enough. It’s not the way we thought we’d be living at this point in our lives, but our needs are being met in the space we’ve been given. God is faithful and he does answer prayer.

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I have  been looking hard at what I’m supposed to be writing. For a long time I resisted writing about my mom’s Alzheimer’s and how it was rearranging all our lives. I didn’t want that to be my story. But, it is part of my story and it shapes  my voice. To leave it out would not be authentic, so I’ve been rearranging and making space to explore the journey in my writing.

One of the highlights of this past year was when I went to a Writers Barn event and soaked in what Emily Freeman and Christa Wells had to say about our writing voice. Emily said, “Learn to respect the story that’s within you”.  She’s right.  Going forward, that is a lesson I will continue to embrace.

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A year is made up of many moments that define our living.  If we can look at those moments and see how the story was written, then we can take the truth from those moments and let them shape the story that is to come.

Rearranging in grace,

Teresa

What lessons have you learned this year?  To read what others have been learning hop on over to Chatting at the Sky.

Prompted By Grace

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I will choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day. There will be days, like today, that are just everyday kind of days and you think of things to write that aren’t quite ready to be let loose and so you sit down to write one thing, but when you start typing your stream of consciousness takes over and you find yourself writing a lot of nothing, but if you read between the lines, it says a whole lot of something. (you can breathe now.)

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As a writer there are times when the page is blank and you need  inspiration fast. Other times, there is such a whirlwind of scattered thoughts blowing around on the backside of your mind that it is hard to narrow your focus.  There are even times that you know what you are supposed to write, but you do everything you can to procrastinate, hoping to be let off the hook.  Then, there are the times that you just want to be funny and shoot off a string of clever one-liners and call it a day.  But, somehow that doesn’t seem fair to your reader.  Especially, if you were really profound, or something the last time they read your words.

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And so, you decide to embrace the chaos of the day – the tired, sitting deep in your bones, that demands something be done – and give your readers what you’ve got and hope that it is enough.

Because, after all, Today was just an ordinary day, with a to-do list  that shuffled things around, still begging to be checked. Today was just an ordinary day that checked items off another’s list with the promise of more checks tomorrow.  Today was a day for realizing that you can’t be all things to all people and still be you.

In those weary moments, thoughts were formulating in your subconscious mind like a parallel universe writing it’s own story. That’s when you realize that the only way for it all to make sense is to give the story to the master storyteller.  It’s His story to write, you are just a character that doesn’t even know what comes next.

And that’s okay. Because His grace is enough.  

His grace will help you find your sense of place.

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“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2

Prompted by Grace,

Teresa

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 Note: In case you read this post on 10/3/14 and notice that it looks slightly different, it was edited on 10/4/14 because in retrospect I wasn’t happy with how I left it. And the title was changed.  th.

Prompted by Laughter

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I will choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day. One of the facts of life these days, is that my Mother has Alzheimer’s and much of life is focused around her, which means she could very well be the source of many of my writing prompts.  My goal when sharing stories about my mother is to give her identity, dignity and personality, all things that the Alzheimer’s is only too ready to steal from her.  My hope is that in sharing some of her story those who know her will be comforted and those who may be going through a similar battle will be encouraged.  Because, in spite of it all, there are good days.  And, there is grace.  Always, God’s grace.    

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Today she made me laugh.

Some days my mom makes me laugh.  Other days she makes me cry.  Oh, she doesn’t mean to make me cry, but the Alzheimer’s sometimes wreaks havoc. So, when there is a day we can laugh I count that a good day.

The whole process of how Alzheimer’s  plays with the mind is fascinating.  You watch the memories fade from color to black and white and eventually dissipate and crumble like old photos left too long in the light.  You deal with the confusion and forgetfulness. And, sometimes the anger.  You read the books that tell you what to expect, even though the same books also tell you that no two cases are alike. Basically, you can’t expect.

Every day I see more of her memories get lost in the shuffle.  I watch her steps slow, keeping time to a different beat.  I see her look at me thinking I’m her sister and not her daughter.  I listen to her questions about “where are the boy’s” (my dad and my husband).  I try to explain who people are when they are brought up in conversation. Sometimes there is a spark of recognition, but more often than not, she can’t readily place them.

Still, in all of this, her essence is intact.  She is she and we are graced with petals of her personality strewn about.  On a really good day it is like having a complete flower from the bouquet.  Those are the days we laugh the most. Because they are a gift and we don’t want to squander them.  She loves to laugh and make you laugh.  She is witty and when you least expect it she will pull off a one-liner that makes a spot on point. In those moments she is sharp as a tack. In those moments you can shut out the inescapable journey.

This evening at dinner (sometimes, when I actually cook, she and my father come over and eat with us) we were waiting on the rolls to finish and I was lamenting the fact that my house was once again upside down (lack of space, too much stuff) because all the laundry room storage was strewn around my kitchen in hopes that the furnace guy soon would be here (delayed until next Tuesday).  I said something to the effect that I was so tired of everything being in my way.

In the midst of the conversation Mom piped up and said “You are the only person I ever knew who can see everything in her house at one time.”  And we laughed. Because it is true, lack of storage and space pretty much means everything is on display. It was funny in the context of what was going on in my life and in the tone of voice which she used. It was funny because it was a spot on connection that she was making.

It was, for a brief moment, like having all of her with us and not just the petals. So, I laughed at the comment, but I also laughed with joy, because I knew her.

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Laughing in Grace,

Teresa