This Too Shall Pass

 

The other day, I thought to myself, “This too shall pass.” But not for the reasons you might be thinking. At that precise moment, I was walking with two coworkers and we were laughing after a terrific day of teamwork and humor. We had been swamped with clients but we all pitched in and the day ended up on a wonderful high note.

We remind ourselves that hard times are temporary –

Bad day at work?
Deployment?
Hangnail?

This too shall pass.

There’s a flip side to it, however, that we sometimes lose in the day to day. Good times will pass also.

Great day with your kids?
Relationship hitting all the right notes?
Hair looks amazing?

This too shall pass.

We are told in the book of Peter that we shouldn’t “think it strange” when we are in fiery troubles, and there is great peace in remembering that the fire shall pass. But we are also told, in James, not to boast about tomorrow because the plans are not ours, but God’s.

When things are good, sometimes we forget to be thankful. We forget to take a moment and soak in the moments of joy, focusing on the well-being. We forget, until the hard times come and we have to shore up against them.

This was made abundantly clear to me over the last month or so. At work, things had been really rocky. There were some relationship issues and some other factors that made daily work very difficult. During that time, I relied on God to change things – I knew something had to give, and the difficulties wouldn’t last forever. As I told a coworker, “Something has to give.”

Something changed. Our team realigned and the difficulties were resolved. There is a lot of laughter in our group again, and we are able to provide much better service to our clients. At the same time this changed at work, things at home were really positive and happy as well.

This too shall pass, right?

Fast forward to today – work is still amazing. Home life is in a happy rhythm only slightly broken by the welcome visit by The Folks.

But my mom is in the hospital. A thousand miles from here. I believe she is getting terrific care, and I will go to her when she is ready for my help, but she is sick and I worry for her. I find myself distracted and somewhat exhausted, wondering when I should go, how I can help, and dealing with logistical details so she doesn’t have to worry about them.
And then a quiet voice reminds me, as it did during the happy laughter last week –

This too shall pass.

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(P.S.) – This did pass.  My mom is back at her house, with appropriate meds and home health care available.  And all I can do is smile.

 

Filling Buckets

This week, we’ve all just been running on empty.  Full of the wrong things, maybe, as we try to just get through like we are driving to the gas station with the light on and praying the car doesn’t die.  Our tanks depleted, we’ve neglected laughter and “please” and “thank you” and just felt oh-so empty.

But starting last night, we began doing some things to fill ourselves back up.  A few years ago I read a book called “How Full Is Your Bucket” and it talks about how we can’t really do much for anyone if our buckets (our hearts) are feeling empty or worn out.  It mentions ways to fill out buckets, and ways we can help other people with their buckets as well.

It’s a great book.

The things we’ve done have been small ones, but they’ve helped a lot.  Maybe these ideas will help someone else who is running on empty and needs a little laughter, sunlight, or warmth.

I sat outside in the afternoon sun, feeling the breeze and enjoying the flowers we’ve planted.  A little Vitamin D can go a long way after a horrible long day.

We let our big boy Jack out so he could get some sun (and a good brush).  Hearing him purr and watching him hop-skip-jump to catch moths is a singular pleasure.

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My G got the last 2 pudding cups out of the fridge for us, topped them with some whipped cream, and we had dessert.  Just us.

A coworker was having a rough week and her birthday is coming up – I got to be a part of making her day really special and memorable.  Buckets – filled!

More sun, more flowers – madly thriving purple iris are the last of our beds to bloom and they make an impression that lasts.

 

This post – I love this blogger and the way she writes so much.  Today’s post was just golden.  The lady in 18F had great advice for parents of teenagers.

An apology from my boss, to all of us, for a misunderstanding.  Do you realize how rare it is for bosses to apologize for, really, anything?

Quiet laughter, good food, Lego minifigures (even though I didn’t get the Queen)…  My bucket feelss a lot more ready to take on the world now.

What can you do to fill your bucket today?   Or fill someone else’s?

 

 

 

Thinking Thursday – What’s Your Good News?

I have some amazing, positive, upbeat, and giving friends. Today they seem to be flooding my Facebook feed with acts of kindness, generosity and strength. I have cried more than once, looking at these clips, and I thought I’d share some of them.

But first, today’s question:

What Is Your Good News Today?

Here are the stories that have had me so emotional today.

The Hug Lady

First, Fort Hood’s “Hug Lady,” Elizabeth Laird, received some happy mail when former President George W. Bush heard she was in poor health. He wrote it to encourage her, and to applaud how she has supported our Soldiers (and families) here.  I have met this lady myself and she has hugged my husband three times. The story about how the community is repaying her vast kindness just keeps getting better. The photo in this post also makes me smile because it reminds me that we once had a President who truly loved his troops (and had to make hard decisions), and that he has not forgotten us.  The video shows her joyful smile. 

No Boundaries

 

Then there is a story of Haben Girma, a deaf-blind woman who has graduated from Harvard Law School. My sister-in-law is blind, and she has done many activities similar to the ones in this story. She has also received her PhD in archaeology, which may seem like a “sighted” field.

 

As another reminder of kindness, my friend Chuck (himself a kind and giving person), posted this link about Kid Rock surprising “his biggest fan”. The joy in this kid’s face is palpable.

 

Chuck also posted about a high school football team manager who has autism, and his team’s sweet actions. I love how the opposing team celebrates, too.

 

One last one –

 

Last Active Duty Veteran’s Day

Technically, active duty servicemembers are Veterans. And they are acknowledged as such during the parades and the ‘we thank you’ promotions at various restaurants.

When I think of Veterans, though, I think of people who have quietly gone about their ordinary lives, rightfully proud of their service. I think of my Dad, who is proud of his short time in service. I think of My G’s dad and grandather and uncles and cousins and their long lineage of service. I think of Brother Sam at my church, wearing his Class A’s on Memorial Day and looking just as dapper as he must have looked when he first joined the service 50 years ago. I think of my stepmother and my friends Penny, and Anne, and Maggie – all women who joined and had to prove themselves in what is still today more of a man’s world. I think of my husband’s and my friend, Desiree, who is still active duty in an Army of great change.

When I thank a vet, I do not thank my husband because his service is ongoing. I thank these other people in my life.

I just don’t think of my husband as a Veteran. We’ve been too busy being Active Duty. The uniform isn’t worn for special days – it is an everyday thing. He wears it more often than he wears his blue jeans! He doesn’t go to parades or special events for vets because he is usually finishing up with some field duty or other work that the military is still requiring of him. Or he’s simply tired and wants the quiet of home.

Next year, though, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we will have been a civilian family for a few months. I don’t even know what that will feel like. This is his last Veteran’s Day as an active duty Soldier. Eventually, God willing, he will be one of those older vets with their service pins on their caps, shakily saluting the flag as it goes past. That is my fantasy for the future.

Today, he simply took off his boots and hung his uniform at the end of 24 hour duty. He slid into bed at dawn, until the next time. Next year, I can hug my husband and “thank a vet”.

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Talk about an understatement….geez.

So what am I thankful for this 11th day of the 11th month?  I am thankful for all of those who remember. I am thankful for the veterans of wars long-fought and long ago who are still with us. I am thankful for these men and women and their dedicated service.

Tuesday’s Ten: Interview

A few years ago, I was writing a different blog and I used to do a “Tuesday’s Ten” count each week. I liked the format because it was quick, had bullet points (I love these) and it allowed me to summarize several short thoughts concisely. I tend to be wordy, so the short format was challenging for me.

This week, I’ll begin this series with some GREAT news.

  1. I applied to a job last week that sounded like an amazing fit.
  2. I got a call YESTERDAY for an interview to be held TODAY.  Fast turnaround!
  3. I learned that I must iron clothes the night before I need them.
  4. No one noticed any creases.
  5. The interview went GREAT!!  What a wonderful conversation it turned out to be.
  6. Reading interview tips the night before an interview is actually a really good idea and one I think I’ll continue.
  7. Later, because I. GOT. THE. JOB.
  8. Yes, already!  I hadn’t even sent out the thank you note yet…
  9. I am so excited and happy today I can’t stand myself.
  10. I’ve had some good jobs go south, and some bad jobs get better – but for today I will celebrate.

I think it’s pretty obvious what I am thankful for, on this tenth day of November.  Happy day, indeed.  Also thankful for the note I saw this morning.

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Little G makes me laugh (she’s the “B”).

The Roller Coaster of Retirement

Retiring is a roller coaster, I have come to discover. The years leading up to this last military year have been preparation for the Big Ride. We have been waiting in line, watching the ups/downs/spins/loops from afar, wondering which of those tracks was the one for our actual ride and trying to learn as much as we could.  We could hear the delighted (and terrified) shouts and screams, but it didn’t really affect us because we weren’t on the ride yet. We hadn’t yet committed to the ride, and hadn’t strapped ourselves in.

At the preparation stages, we could watch and learn from those who had ridden the ride before us. Were they reeling from the experience? Where they laughing, crying, looking lost? I don’t know about you, but when I’m waiting for my turn on a ride at an amusement park, I watch all the people around me. I watch the people in line, I watch the ride, and I watch the people who stagger off the ride at the end. Waiting in line gives you a lot of time to prepare and to think about the experience itself, but at a safe remove.

It’s different now. Now, we have official orders in hand. We have started the process and we are getting on the actual ride. Where do we put our stuff? What straps are there?  Where are the safety cushions?  There are safety cushions, right?  No one just lets people get on this ride and allows them to flop all over the place…right?

At the moment, our retirement roller coaster is doing that lovely click click click as the car is getting pulled to one of the ride’s peaks. Just as with most of the best rides, we can’t see over the other side, but we know without a doubt there will be some fast parts and some slow parts and some scary/exciting things we can’t see yet.

Buckle up.

roller coaster

So what am I thankful for this ninth day of November? I’m thankful for the job interview I have tomorrow (more on that to come) and as always, I’m glad for the fact that I get to take this ride with My G.

All the Times of Me

We sang my first favorite hymn today. Most of the songs we sang in church when I was little were pretty quiet and didn’t have much meaning to me. Honestly, as a kid I thought they were all pretty boring. “Down At the Cross” has such an upbeat melody to it and is so easy to learn that I was able to remember the lines and the melody quickly. I sang it loud, and often.  As I sat on the swingset in the yard, as I cleaned my room – my poor mother.  Only today did I realize that the song is categorized under “suffering, loss, blood” in our church hymnbook (but not in the one I have from our old church).

Singing it in the midst of my church family, I could feel all the versions of me singing this same song. The childhood me, swinging in the air. The new-Mom me, singing it to my babies because it was the only song I could think of.  The slightly-crazed me, waiting for the end of another deployment and needing something familiar to hum. And now, the me who stands at the brink of so many changes.

Standing there, the child/the girl/the woman all together and repeating those familiar lines, I felt a sense of peace and even warmth towards the past and present versions of myself. A kindness and even forgiving feeling, letting go of past mistakes and various screw-ups. And I realized anew that this is what the song is about – we are washed in that forgiveness, we are loved despite ourselves, and we are to feel joy in the midst of what might seem categorically to be a tragedy. This is what God offers us.

So what am I thankful for, this eighth day of November?  Today I give thanks for Mrs. Janie Quincey, who chooses our songs for us each week and plays them so well. And I give thanks for the message that I heard, singing between the lines.

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Glory to His name…

Accepting the Glitch

I was supposed to be at an event today, sharing my love for essential oils and hopefully making some money for the holidays. I had things pretty well planned in my head, down to table decorations and the sugar lip scrub I’d make.

It didn’t work out. I wasn’t able to go, for a variety of reasons, and I wasn’t able to find someone to go in my stead. All day I have felt a vague, niggling unease, like I’d forgotten something or as though I were playing hooky.  I felt like I was letting someone down, and honestly that someone may very well have been me.

So mainly I am writing this for myself – get over it.

Sometimes, despite good intentions and the best-laid plans, a decision is made that this particular opportunity isn’t the right one to take. Or situations arise that make the opportunity impossible, or at least a bad fit. Illness, accident, husband’s duty schedule, finances, other options – there are as many reasons for plans to change as there are freckles on my arms. And I am a very freckly person.

Any time that I take second-guessing my choice about today, or any other event that might not end up being a good fit for me or my family, is time that is stolen. It is time that I could use building this blog. It is time I could use developing a business model, or filling out job applications, or brushing up my skills. It is time I could use watching a movie with my family, and cherishing our moments together. Time is already finite, and when plans change and a block opens up for other options – I am not going to spend that block of time fretting about what I could or should have been doing during it.

Sometimes we have to shift our personal lives to make room for our professional goals or obligations, at differing levels of success and benefit. Sometimes we have to shift our professional plans when our personal lives take priority. Neither is all good nor all bad.

I wish I could say that I will never have another circumstance where I’ll have to back out of a planned event. I try very hard not to say “yes” until I know it will be a “definite”. I find I say a lot of “maybe” and then follow it up with a final decision. However, there are times when what seemed like a good fit, isn’t. Or times when a schedule gets changed for one member of a family and everyone has to adjust. Semper Gumby- I pride myself on always being flexible. And some days I have to remain flexible enough to accept the glitch when things don’t work out.

So what am I thankful for this seventh day of November?  I am thankful for the chill in the air, the rain we have needed, and the fact that my parents raised me to worry less about what others thought and more about what mattered in the long run.

morning-time-alarm-bell

Thinking Thursday: How Do You Give Thanks?

So November has turned into a full month of gratitude, instead of saving it for one day towards the end.  This is fabulous, though it makes me wonder where everyone is the rest of the year.  When we are truly grateful, amazing things can happen!

Gratitude can ease depression symptoms, make envy disappear, and open doors of service because once we truly see what we are blessed with, we tend to share.

My question for you this week is:

How do you give thanks?

Some families have Thanksgiving traditions where everyone at the table says one thing they are most thankful for.  Some write “thankful notes” and put them in a jar to look back on later, when their outlook is not so sunny.  Some people do acts of service at soup kitchens or the like.

I was brought up to write thank you notes – hand-written and gift-specific, they were very simple things when I was really little and they grew to more detailed and sharing letters as I got older.  I was also raised to say “thank you” for even the smallest acts of kindness, such as a door held open or someone letting me through a tough traffic spot.

Giving thanks can be a simple habit, and it can also be an intentional act of giving back.  This year, I have become more involved with my church’s offering to Operation Christmas Child, where we pack shoeboxes full for little boys and girls to open at Christmas.  We give them things like hair ties, crayons, small toys, and little bags of candy.  We also give them small tools (for the older kids especially), sewing kits, soap/washcloth packs, and toothbrushes.  Our church is tiny, but we have packed more than 200 boxes and we are not quite done yet.  This is a special way for me to remember what blessings I have, and share them as I am able.

Today I am thankful to live in a home with lots of soap. clean clothes, soft pillows and people who love me – I am also thankful to attend a church where the members care so deeply that they send out so many boxes to those who daily live without any of these things.

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Boxes are double, sometimes triple-stacked on those shelves.

Sing Anyway!

There are some things at which I (blush, blush) excel. And there are some things I really enjoy, but have little to no skill.

Singing is one of those things. I love to sing. Sing it loud, sing it soft, sing it all day long – I really love to sing along to music.  The problem is, and I’m well aware, this is not a real skill that I possess. Little G tells me I’m off beat when I tap my foot to a song, and I’ve been told I’m off tune more times than I can count.

You know what?

I still sing at church. I still sing in the car. I still go caroling when I get the opportunity.

Is there something in your life that you really enjoy? Writing poetry, maybe. Or running – maybe you look like you’re trying to avoid falling when you run, or you run like a duck.  (Both of these apply to me.) Do you enjoy arts and crafts, because it soothes your soul, but the results are less than Pinterest-worthy?

Do it anyway.

Sing, write, create, run – do what gives life to your days.

singing

So what am I thankful for, this fourth day of November?  Today I am thankful for music as I drive, and the soft autumn light that turns everything golden.