Monday, March 30, 2015


Thursday. The time had come. The aroma of the final supper fresh in the air. A few more moments left for any words yet left unspoken. Some words of advice. Some that cut deep. And some final words of reassurance. All spoken out of great love. And deep devotion. With great humility, dusty feet are lovingly washed. Even those of the one who would betray. Bread is broken. Wine shared and savored. Moments to be cherished. Symbols to be remembered.

A little while later, dusk settles in over a sheltering olive grove. Weary followers drift. While gut-wrenching prayers are offered up. Beads of sweat, mixed with that of blood. Final petitions for another way, ultimately relenting to the desire for a greater good.           

Friday. Beaten. Bruised. Humiliated. Scorned. Flogged. Broken, hanging on a cross. Bearing the brunt of the evil of a fallen world. Hopes are crushed. Broken hearts left grappling. 'Does it really end like this?' 'Where do we go from here?' Darkness falls. A veil is torn. One final breath draws out: “It is finished.”    

Saturday. Fresh blood still trails up the hillside. The body lays behind a large cold stone. Loved ones meet in heavy silence. No words sufficient to satisfy their souls. Lost. Alone. Confused. Broken. A jug on the table still holds some of the wine. The basin in the corner still holds dirtied water. What did it all mean? Was it all just in vain? It may seem like a dream if the pain weren’t so real. The void so profound. All hope lost. The final words that still linger in the air now only seem to mock their weary minds and torture their broken hearts. “It is finished” now resonates more than anything else.

“It is finished.”

That’s how it sometimes feels, doesn't it? Finished. A dream gets crushed. A relationship ends. A greatest fear becomes realized in an unexpected diagnosis.

But, it’s not necessarily finished, is it? At least not in the way our worldly minds tend to think. In a way that would lead us to believe that all we are left with are some lingering memories and a cold heavy stone before us.

No, if you are in Christ, you know that "It is finished" is not a resignation, but rather a declaration that a battle has been won. You may not yet see that victory played out, but you can rest assured that a greater work is taking place. And when that stone finally gets rolled away, you will be left singing His praises, wondering how you could have ever had the slightest doubt that He would overcome.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Elusive Sunrise

I am obsessed with sunsets. Sometimes I wonder if they've always been as radiant as they seem these days or if it actually took me that long before I began to notice and truly appreciate them. 
Then, I can't help but wonder how many folks out there may be driving headlong into one... and simply do not see it. And, how could they possibly miss it?

Well, when my sister mentioned the possibility of us heading over to the coast to catch a sunrise one morning during our stay at her place in Florida, I couldn't help but be tempted. Even though I am not a morning person. In the least. But... time slipped away and I suppose we got a bit too lazy and just never made it over there to catch one.

So, while on our stay at Cocoa Beach, on the way home, I had decided that I was going to take advantage of my last chance to catch it rise over the ocean (until who knows when). I kept watching the weather and though the rain had held off for us up to that point, there was a good chance it would be rolling in just in time for the sun to come up that day.


Still. I had to at least try to catch it.

So, though I normally sleep like a rock, I awoke when I heard Dad get up at about 4 a.m. and I did not go back to sleep. I just kept checking the time, to be sure I didn't miss my chance. 

Finally! 6:45! One more glance at the weather app... Sure enough - clouds are rolling in. Gotta hurry!
Got out of bed, like a kid on Christmas morning and threw on some shoes, a jacket and my hair in a quick ponytail. Asked around if anyone would like to join me....

Umm... No. 

Got it.  ;)

Grabbed my phone and key card and snuck out the door. 

You could almost feel the atmosphere swelling, awaiting the approaching showers.

'But, maybe it'll hold off.'

We were only staying one block away from the beach, so I headed into the wind that had kicked up and made my way to the beach access.

There... peeking through the gathering clouds... a little glow of light. 

My sunrise.

Awww... Okay. So, it wasn't quite as glorious as I'd been hoping for. But, it was still beautiful in its own right and worth losing a few hours of sleep for. 

And it was very peaceful out there.

So, I just took my time walking closer to the shore to see if it might manage to peek out some more before being completely engulfed in clouds.

Uh oh... Now, we're talking. 

And just so you have an idea of what the sun was up against that morning...
This was just to the north of where I was facing:

Just a matter of time....
Which would win out... The radiant sun? or the menacing clouds?
Only time would tell now.

Lo and behold...
Just when it seemed that the storm clouds had all but won...

Radiance began to shine forth.

And then took our collective breath away.

There were only a handful of us on the beach that morning, but we were all completely mesmerized. 
A gentleman who was out running, slowed down to snap a picture and say 'Wow! Really beautiful, isn't it!'

And it certainly was.

And just like that...

It was gone.
And I found myself seeking refuge from the rain shower that had now settled in.

But, the rain of a thousand storm clouds couldn't put a damper on that beautiful moment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Trip to South Florida

I finally made it down to see my sister and her family in South Florida, where they've been living for the past year. And aside from the eight hours it took for me to get there... by plane... it was a really good trip.
Spent the first couple of days just lazing about and taking it easy. Just enjoying the time away from it all. 
   (View from Emery's bedroom window)

That Monday, we all headed out to the children's museum in town. It was pretty fun. Emery had a blast with the flight simulators. Savannah loved playing with all the magnets and seeing how high she could stack them. I personally could've hung out and watched the sweet little otters all day long. So busy... doing absolutely nothing. After the museum, we enjoyed a tasty dinner beachside. 
The next day, Jodi had arranged for she and myself and the kids to ride horses on a trail ride nearby. Who'd have guessed... Trail riding in South Florida. But, it was fun. I hadn't been in... let's just say: ages. Which my butt reminded me during the ride, and my legs promptly reminded me upon dismount. But, it was fun. 

   (The 'gang'... Savannah and Emery on their horses, me and my 'Prince' and Jodi on Sierra.)

After the ride, the kids didn't seem too determined to head to the butterfly house, so we decided to hit the beach again instead. Beautiful day for it, too! And we were not the only ones who thought so! (Emery's decided it shouldn't be the Sunshine State, but rather the Retirement State. Haha.)
But, the kids had a blast playing in the cold water and building sand castles... while Jodi and I just enjoyed the sun and the breeze... and the view.

   (Sum Beach... Sum where)

By the next day, it was time to head home. Mom and I decided to take the 'long way' home and drive up the coastline instead of I-75 and take our time getting back. Glad we did. The first day, we were able to take in the Kennedy Space Center and were there most of the day. Very impressive. That night, we had a yummy dinner at a steakhouse that came recommended by a friend of Mom's. Good call.

The next morning, I was bound and determined to catch the sunrise. Jodi had mentioned us doing that one morning while at her place, but we never made it. So, I knew this was my last chance of seeing it rise over the ocean... until who knows when. No one wanted to join me, but that's okay. It was well worth the getting up early and getting rained on shortly thereafter. It was absolutely beautiful.

   (Captivating Sunrise at Cocoa Beach)

While we were in Cape Canaveral, Jodi mentioned to me another place that may be on some interest while we were in the area. Just down the road from Kennedy Space Center was an Old Testament Tabernacle replica. Sounded pretty interesting, so we went ahead and stopped by on our way out of town.
Though there were only 4 of us there to see it and we had not reserved ahead of time, they were gracious enough to sit us down and go over all the significant parts of the Tabernacle with us and uncover the actual replica for us outside and walk us through it. Very touching. And evident that it is near and dear to the folks who operate the place. So glad they took the time with us.

   ( )

From Cape Canaveral, we made our way up to old St. Augustine. I hadn't been there in... ages either. 
I have fond memories of St. Augustine and it's still just the sweetest place. Wish it hadn't been so brisk and windy that day, but we still enjoyed the visit. Savannah enjoyed the art shops they had there. 

   (Making our way up to the fort. I was enamored with the clouds that day. They looked painted up there.)

By that evening, Mom and Dad said they were tired of eating, but Mom needed to eat something to take her meds with, so we found a local little seafood place just up the road from where we were staying. It was just like our hometown Neely's seafood restaurant. Sweet little family-run place. So, Mom and I just placed an order and took it back to the room to eat with Dad (who just wanted dessert) and Savannah.

That wrapped up the trip, just short of the 5 remaining hours to get home. But, it really wasn't bad. Good weather. Not much traffic. And lots of good memories.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What a Single Woman over 40 Needs Most

Woke up this morning to several Mommy friends of mine sharing a link on Facebook:

Probably should've just left well enough alone, but below is my rebuttal on behalf of all the single ladies (now that Beyonce seems to have moved on).  ;)

Please know that it's all in good fun and maybe just a reminder to all of us that the grass is always greener and we all have pretty much the same desires at the end of the day. 

1. Sleep - The uninterrupted kind.
    Sleep - The interrupted kind.

2. Coffee - Plenty of it.
    Wine - A little bit of it - in good company.

3. A hot shower - Alone.
    A hot shower - And someone who even cares if I do shower.

4. Appreciation - Spoken words. Written words. Just let us know you notice.
    Appreciation - Spoken words. Written words. Just to know we're noticed.

5. Some time alone with Dad.
    Some time with... just about anyone.

6. Regular time with girlfriends.
    Regular time with girlfriends.

7. A creative outlet. - An old one. A new one. Maybe one yet to be discovered.
    A creative outlet - An old one. A new one. Anything to keep our minds preoccupied.

8. Encouragement - Daily. If possible - many times a day.
    Encouragement - Daily. If possible - many times a day.

9. Permission to have an occasional emotional meltdown - Because let's be honest: Sometimes, nothing feels better than a serious ugly cry.
    Permission to have an occasional emotional meltdown - Because let's be honest: Sometimes, nothing feels better than a serious ugly cry.

10. A nap
      A nap

11. Some romance
      Some romance - And not just vicariously through some chick flick already watched a million times.

12. Some new clothes - (Picking up Costco's latest does not count.)
      Some new clothes - (What's this about Costco's latest? That sounds affordable.)

13. Exercise - If it is not scheduled, it won't happen and it is easy to put our own health behind everything else. Help support us here!
      Exercise - And a reason to even do so.

14. Grace - We're doing our best, but we are still human.
      Grace - We're doing our best, but we are still human.

15. A hand getting the house clean - Family: Pitch in. Get the kids to help. Hire a house cleaner. Just don't leave it all on Mom all of the time.
     A hand getting the house clean - Kitty: Clean your own stinkin' litter box for a change!

16. A good book. And the chance to read it now and then.
      A good book. And maybe a reason to put one down now and then.

17. Yummy food that we don't have to cook - Husbands: Cook for us. Or get takeout. Or take us out. Just feed us something delicious that we don't have to make (or clean up!) once in a while.
      Yummy food that we don't have to cook - Cook for us. Clean up after us when we cook. Take us out. Whatever. Any of it. All of it. Just sit with us while we eat.
18. Some time to ourselves. All alone. - Or at the very least, the chance to use the bathroom without interruption. 
      Some time that is not all to ourselves. All alone - Or at the very least, an occasional interruption.

19. Chocolate - Our own stash. Please don't touch it.
      Chocolate - And someone to share it with.

20. Laughter - Every day.
      Laughter - Every day.

21. Thoughtfulness - A kind note. A spontaneous gift. A box of chocolates.
      Thoughtfulness - A kind note. A spontaneous gift. A box of chocolates.

22. More coffee - At a real coffee shop, without the kids. (Bringing a friend or a book is a bonus.)
      A little more wine - Maybe at a winery somewhere. Maybe even with a friend or two.

23. Unexpected things - Mommyhood can be so mundane. Surprise us! Flowers or a gift. A trip to Paris (we can dream!) Rescue us from monotony.
     Unexpected things - Singledom can be excruciatingly mundane. Surprise us! Flowers or a gift. A trip to... oh, I don't know... the next county over (we can dream!). Please rescue us from the monotony!

24. A vacation - Or at least the chance to plan and dream about one. Even if it is years away, dreaming and planning is half the fun.
     A vacation - Or at least the chance to plan and dream about one. Even if it is years away, with someone we've not yet met... dreaming and planning is half the fun.

25. Prayer - Don't forget: We need it too!
      Prayer - Please don't forget... we need it, too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Not Alone in the Journey

In response to my 'Burden of Hope' post, a couple of posts back, I received the below from someone. (I hope they don't mind my sharing it.) It has meant a lot to me, not only for its reassurance that God is there and hears our hearts' cry, but also for the reminder that I am not alone in my struggle.

  On the subject of hope, I thought I’d share this little personal experience I had. 
Several years ago I was going through one of those spiritual funks that we all have to endure from time to time. I had woken up feeling blue and got ready for work. I couldn’t seem to shake this cloud that had been hanging over me for a while.  I went downstairs, set my lunchbox on the dining room table, and started my morning prayer time as I waited for my car pool buddy to come and pick me up. I started out with “Lord, is there any hope for me, is there any hope for me?” That is also how it ended. It was the only thing that was pouring out of my heart. I kept repeating it over and over and over again. “Lord is there any hope for me?” I prayed that for several minutes until I heard his truck pull into the drive. I opened the truck door, threw in my lunchbox and just as I was about to pull myself up into the seat, I heard the man on the radio say excitedly “Hey! The Lord sent me to tell you that “yes” there is hope for you!" Then the station immediately went to a commercial break. I imagine that my buddy was wondering why I was sniveling all the way on the ride to work. I couldn’t  tell you if I told him or not what had happened. I was pretty overwhelmed with emotion; knowing God had just spoken to me and that yes there is hope for me. With that being said, I still look back and wonder if I’m somehow missing something. With my poor spiritual eyesight am I not seeing what God is laying before me? I’m feeling like a race horse stuck in the gate. But I do know there is still hope and that I’m not walking alone.

I love stories of when God shamelessly speaks to us. I've got a whole journal of such instances that He has spoken to me in my life. And this is a great one. 

But, I also appreciate the honesty in confessing that, even after having received this powerful reassurance, the struggle still remained. 

Sometimes God simply doesn't give us want we want, but He will always give us what we need.

And what we need is Him.

So, even though our hearts may continue to long for something unfulfilled by this world, He will most assuredly meet us on the journey and walk beside us. Should we but invite Him to do so.