Grace – When and Where You Least Expect It

I was gifted with some grace encounters yesterday – in the form of statements, questions, and conversations.  I wasn’t looking for it, and almost missed them.  The words kept circling back through my consciousness though, poking and prodding until I recognized them.  When you consider all the words you hear in a day, it is easy to miss some of the important ones.  It is interesting the way God chooses to keep replaying key words and phrases until you “get it” – and He is so patient.  Sometimes, He even sends illustrations to highlight what He wants you to know.  For me, He occasionally thumps me on the noggin to get the message through.

Mindfulness, being fully present in the moment – I think this is a key piece in catching grace on the first go ‘round.  It is important to slow down, savor the moment – explore all it’s possibilities – before you let it go.  Multitasking is a good thing, sometimes.  There is a time and place for it – but I think it should not become the default mode of operation.  It is so easy to rush through everything to get on to the next “thing”.  After a while, if you stop to take a breath, you might wonder what the purpose of all that rushing is?  Bill has encouraged us to start exploring our stops more fully.  This week, we embarked on our first “away from Cadillac” adventure.  We have made this particular trip many times before and never really explored.  At his urging, we sat down and made a list of things and people to see.  Although I don’t remember his exact words, Bill’s point was that he didn’t want us to leave town with the thought “Gee, I wish we would have checked out (insert people, places, things here) – maybe next time”.  Not that we don’t ever plan on returning here, instead – fully appreciate the here and now.  Then, do the same next time we visit.  Instead of planning our departure as soon as we arrive somewhere – plan and fill our moments before we leave.  Carefully and thoughtfully plan those moments, and make sure those plans include exploring and seeking out joy.  Sure – you may have some less-than-joyful items to attend to, but that is the “grace thing” – you can also have time for joy.  And leave time to just marinate and consider the amazing things you have found.  Quiet moments to reflect, time to just listen – to birds, to bugs, to the sounds of the world waking up as well as the settling down for night – this is important as well.  Otherwise, what have you gained?  Accomplishing tasks, rushing to get through them – sometimes necessary, yes – but don’t let it be the reason that drives you.  Quit putting off enjoying life for the myriad of reasons that are so readily available.  Enjoy people, places, moments HERE and NOW.

Yesterday, I had a conversation that questioned my commitment to a goal I identified.  It was a conversation that I needed, although I didn’t realize it at that time.  On the surface, it was about one goal.  Gracefully, that question just kept swirling around in my mind, until I realized that it was challenging my commitment to so much more.  As the conversation progressed, a few more phrases found their way into the loop being replayed in my mind.  I am grateful that God chooses those messages, and highlights them as needed.  Even more grateful for the messengers he chooses to make me uncomfortable enough to recognize the need for change and growth.  The church my mom attends has a practice of asking “where have you seen God this week?”  I love that practice – it encourages you, at least once a week, to be mindful.  I am working on adopting that and adapting it to “where have I seen God and grace today?” and being mindful and alert to note those God and grace sightings.

I believe that God takes full advantage of the opportunity when we are able to open our heart and mind to His leading.  Yesterday was one of those times.  Honestly, I know that grace opportunities and God moments are always present – the challenge is to keep heart and mind open, slow down and be mindful and intentional, and recognize what is right before our eyes.

Oh, and by the way – it’s good to pull out those secret, seemingly ridiculous, “things you’ve always to do/be but were afraid you would be laughed at” and try them on.  Instead of laughter, you might be surprised at the amount of support you find!  (Just another instance of grace :D)


Whack-a-Mole, Angels, and Vexatious Persons (VPs)

AKA obstructions to grace, givers of grace, and creators of grace.

This appears to be one of those “seasons” (to coin a phrase from a “VP”) when life starts to feel like a game of Whack-a-Mole, and I have the job of trying to fill in for the other 4 moles besides manning my own hole.  You know – just when you think it’s safe to pop your head up, WHAM – there is that dang hammer.  Also, you know with a fairly high degree of certainty that the game will probably go on for way too many rounds.

Fortunately, God sees the very real need to send angels to remind you that it will all work out.  They are the givers of grace.  A friend that sends you an email with just the very words you need to hear.  Meeting a friend that you haven’t seen in a very long time – and she blesses you with some advice in a conversation that was completely unexpected.  Even the simple things – finding little reminders – that help you remember the game will eventually end.  Little things like finding heart-shaped stones, or hearing a song with lyrics that touch your heart.  When the game ends, you will be stronger, more agile, and MUCH more adept at dodging the hammer.

Then there are the VPs – most annoying when they are people that you love, respect, and look to for guidance and direction.  You know – you have them in your life as well.  They are the ones who bring you great joy MOST of the time.  (Otherwise, at times like this, you want to slap the snot out of them.)  This could even be expanded to include vexatious situations (VSs).  These people and situations challenge you in a couple of ways.  First – to not “lose it” completely – and actually slap the snot out of them, or in the case of a VS – not to just throw your hands up and walk away.  Second (and the reason they are in your life) – to grow your grace.  VPs and VSs then become creators of grace.  Because you know, in your very soul, that your VPs and VSs will indeed help you create more grace, you also get a lesson in love.  Because you really can’t slap them silly, now, can you?  Even if they are taking turns holding the hammer……

Disclaimer – I believe that we are all VPs at many points in our lives – to those we love, as well as to strangers.  For the very reason I just mentioned….(heaven forbid I offend anyone reading this).


Making Memories



Today is Memorial Day.  I understand the tradition and solemnity that comes with this day, and honor that.  This day also causes me to reflect on the importance of making memories – the good ones – that will comfort you in the future and bring you smiles (and sometimes tears will accompany).

We are camping at my Mom’s house this week, and planning a trip with her next week.  I am so excited that she is planning trips with us.  This really means a lot to me.  My Mom is amazing.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.  There has never been a time in my life that I felt truly alone, or without someone who loved me unconditionally.  Mom and Dad were always there.  To this day, I know that I can pick up the phone, and Mom will be there – to listen, love, and support.  Yes, Bill does this also – but a mother’s love can’t ever be replaced.  This is the woman who has seen you at your very worst (– and hopefully your very best) and will still answer the phone when you call.

I can always count on Mom to be “in” for my latest wild idea, recipe, or spontaneous adventure.  No matter where we are, when Mom is present, it just feels like going back “home”.  We laugh a lot, sometimes cry together, but mostly – and I am so thankful – we create wonderful memories.  I realize how blessed I am to have this relationship – not everyone has this.  I look forward to celebrating this ability to make memories and plan to exploit the ability as much as possible.

The really important thing to recognize is that you don’t have to do extravagant things, or extreme things.  Some of the best memories are in the ordinary, the everyday stuff you do together.  We walked the dogs together yesterday morning, and some funny stuff happened.  We laughed long and loud, and are still giggling like school girls about it.  Today we are going to buy some flats of flowers to plant – something we do together every year.  I have no doubt that there will be considerable laughter, much dirt, and love and joy that surpasses the imagination.

Go out and make memories.  Let down your guard, drop your protective shields.  Feel – the good and the hurt – and cherish those feelings.  Find joy in the ordinary everyday – because it can turn magical and wondrous right before your eyes!


Big Scary Goals (BSGs)


A year ago, right about this time, I was worried about being able to run a 10k.  My goals for 2016 were to run a 10k and to complete the Adventure Triathlon in Cadillac.  Okay, those weren’t my only goals, but my fitness goals.  Up to that point, I had completed a couple 5k runs, and a 4 mile run in Alaska.

Today, I am sitting here contemplating running my first marathon in September, 2017.  I met and exceeded my 2016 goals by completing the 10K, and 8-mile, and half marathon, as well as the Adventure Tri (although I was the last one to finish – I finished!).  So far this year, I did a back-to-back 10k and half marathon – joyfully with the “Tribe” – the online fitness community.  Those of you who know me, or knew me before all this running stuff – you heard right….I really like running, and biking, and kayaking, and am learning to love swimming.  Guess what another one of my BSGs is?  I am still wrapping my head around 26.2 miles, though, so not even thinking about the word “tri”.

I belong to an online fitness and wellness community that is really amazing.  Through this group, I have made some very special friendships.  Our fearless leader encourages to set big scary goals.  Two very special friends told me that if the goals didn’t scare me to death, they probably weren’t big enough – thank you P & P!  This fitness community is uplifting, affirming, and incredibly supportive.  So, I bought into the whole BSG thing.

I could not do this alone, and have not been doing it alone.  Bill and the kids have been amazing.  They have always been physically active, but never pushed me to join them.  In their wisdom, as I have now learned, you can’t force someone to adopt this journey of health until they are ready.  I mean, truly ready to create change within that will last.  I was a little afraid to admit that I wanted to join them – worried about ridicule, being ashamed that I wouldn’t be good enough or couldn’t do it, generally afraid.  But wait – these are the people that love me!  Their support was instant, positive, and totally had me believing I could do it.  And they continue…Bill enters runs with me, and then encourages me to go at my own pace, even if it means we don’t finish together.  When I decided I wanted to run the USAF Marathon, Walt told me he would be there to run if he could get permissive leave.  He is so much faster than me – the cool thing – he will be there, along with Bill and Ashlyn when I cross the finish line.  Beth and I will get to run in another race together, I can be patient.  Beth and Joe ran with Bill and I in Alaska.  Beth is my go-to when I need to Rock Tape something, or need a good stretch for something that hurts.  My Mom is my lead cheerleader.  We completed a 5k walk together last year.  I wish my Dad could have known what I started doing – he would be right there with Mom on the cheer team.  I took him along in my heart for my first half marathon on Mackinac Island.  We had a lovely run together.  My brother – he is on the cheer team also.  Just waiting for him to decide to do a run with me….Patience – it has to be the right time for him.

Last year, around August, I think, I enlisted the help of another amazing member of my Power Team – “Coach E” – Erik Hajer.  He is the fearless leader of “The Tribe”.  Erik sends me weekly training plans, and we talk once a week.  I know that if I complete the activities in the training plan, my BSGs become totally achievable.  We talk about how training is going, as well as talk through some of the fears and obstacles that interfere with training.  A great holistic approach that works well for me.  The “Tribe” online – what a blessing this group of people is.  Honest about struggles, willing to share in joys and triumphs, tons of suggestions, and wonderful caring shoulders to cry on – the Tribe rocks!  I have been especially blessed by a special Tribe member – she is amazing.  She has the gift of encouraging, challenging, and seeing right through the smoke screen.

I’ve shared with you a little about my BSGs – the blog is even part of one of them – fitness includes more than just the physical.  Bill and I started another BSG officially yesterday.  Do you have BSGs?  You ought to…and they should scare the beejeebers out of you – so much that you really shake in your shoes.  And your heart burns with desire to accomplish that BSG – and you can barely wrap your head around the joy you will live when you accomplish that goal.  A word of caution – one BSG leads to another, and another.  You will feel more alive than you ever have in your life – and trust me – you’re never too old to start.

How to begin….choose your BSG – the one you are afraid to even mention.  At the same time – start building your power team.  Ready?  Set… Go!





May 25, 2017 – The Beginning of Confusion and New Journeys

We turned over the house this morning, and fully embraced our new state of mobile living.  I found it interesting that I had no tears or sadness at leaving the house.  I will miss the beautiful plants and trees we had there, and some special neighbors, but not the structure.

I went shopping for real food, anticipating with joy the opportunity to cook for the first time in 2 weeks.  The confusion began when it was time to cook supper, and continued to bedtime.  It went sort of like this:  “Now where did I put…?”, progressed to “Honey, have you seen…?”, and deteriorated to “Where in the hell did I put…?  Seriously – it’s only been a couple days since I put this stuff away.  It seemed logical at the time.  At the time, it also seemed like there might not be enough storage – and while this still seems true (since we are still unpacking), I am amazed at all the hidey holes in this place.  The good news:  we know where our underwear, deodorant, and toothbrushes are.  Also, we know where Piper is.  The rest is up for grabs.

We ended this “first and last” day by walking over to Lake Mitchell, sitting on a bench, holding hands and watching a magnificent sunset that Bill was kind enough to arrange for us.  I hope we can find tomorrow!


Today we start a brand new week, one that will see us sever ties with the house, and completely leave that lifestyle behind.  I am reminded of the quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain.

It is with gratitude and joy that I welcome this new opportunity, so thankful that Bill is willing to take on this adventure.  I am in awe of the comfort that he has provided for us, his patience as I learn to downsize, and his sense of adventure.

Last week we had a moving sale.  Several people warned me that it would be sad and hard to watch our “stuff” being sold.  Contrary to that idea, it was a joyful experience!  Amazing how much lighter everything feels without “stuff”.  Don’t get me wrong – I have packed away way too much, I know this.  The best part of last week?  Hearing the stories of the people that came to our sale.  Seeing the joy of them discovering “treasures”.  Young couples just beginning to build a home together, others starting all over again for whatever reason, people rediscovering past joys because of something we chose to sell.  It was awesome to be able to follow God’s nudges – the small voice that urged me to give something away, or do a very bad job with math to make purchases possible.  Giving away special “treasures” to kids – just because.  Now we are at the point of donating the rest of the “stuff”, clearing up and cleaning up the house.  We have made some wonderful memories there, happy times, sad times, laughs, tears.  It is my prayer that the new owners will use this property wisely, and create the environment for many more wonderful memories to be made.  I know that eventually, the house will be demolished.  The landscape will change.  But the potential for joy to continue will be there.

As we move on, I know that we won’t be disappointed by doing this.  In my heart, I have a great sense of peace about our new adventure.  Exciting things are in our future.  Having the love and support of our family and friends makes it even better.


I Take Thee William…..and My Firm Foundation

As the packing and purging continue, so does the opportunity for reflection.  You know what they say about hindsight.  It is so awesome to look back and see God’s handiwork in my life.  My parents created a life full of love for me.  Love for family, for others, for learning, for serving, and so many other things.  They continue to do so.  From them, I learned how special marriage could be.  From them, I was excited for the chance to be a mother.  From them, I learned that I could do anything I wanted to with God’s help and my determination.  When my Dad started flying again, I was about 23.  He wanted to be able to take my brother flying, and hoped he would get interested in flying.  Somehow (obviously by God’s design – because never in a million years would I have been interested on my own) I ended up beside my Dad in a little C150 for a ride.  Scared to death, but not willing to admit that to Dad, we went for a ride.  Then, I found myself in the backseat of a C172 on a long cross-country flight during his instrument training.  God flipped the switch, and although I couldn’t explain it, I knew that I had to learn to fly.  That was easily arranged, and I earned my license.  Why is this important?  If I hadn’t learned to fly, I would have never met Bill.

Bill – my Mr. Wonderful (Mr. W).  This man is such a blessing in my life.  We have been on wonderful adventures, cried together, laughed together, and he has put up with a huge amount of grief from me.  Looking back, I can see how I could have done things differently and been a lot nicer.  Instead of dwelling on that, I am just grateful for where I am now.  As we get ready to embark on new adventures, I am so thankful to be sharing them with him.  Looking forward, I am eager to have this move behind us, the road in front of us, and the opportunity to get back in the sky with Bill.  I know that our future, faced together, will be rich and full of promise.  Might not always be easy, but together, we will conquer!  Bill is my cornerstone, the lift that helps me soar, my inspiration.  He is a wonderful father, I see so much of him in our children.  When I said “I do”, I had no idea of the joy that would follow.  I hope that we have set the examples for our children that my parents set for me.  To create that firm foundation would make the circle an ongoing journey.

Mom continues to inspire me – I really want to be just like her.  I look forward to the opportunity to travel with her.  Bill and the kids inspire me to want to achieve more, step out in faith, and push to see how much I can accomplish.  My amazing friends help me stay on track.  I live a truly blessed life.

Taking a trip down memory lane can certainly highlight the joys that have filled my journey.

Old and New – Need and Place for Both…

We have our new “rig” for our next big adventure.  We are also in full packing and moving mode.  As I sat yesterday, going through “stuff”, purging and deciding what to save, it occurred to me that I would do well to apply the same concept to my life.  Our new house is bright, shiny and fresh.  Uncluttered and clean, a whole new realm of possibilities.  I get to decide what I am going to put in it, how I will stock the shelves and decorate.  Should I discard all the old, and only purchase new items to fill it with?  Should I just move ALL (OK – well it ALL won’t fit!) the old stuff in there and go on as if nothing has changed?

I am choosing to weed out the less important, some gets tossed, some gets donated/given to someone who will make better use of it, some gets sold.  The cherished items and the really useful things – they get moved into the new home.  Some stuff gets stored for another day – the stuff I still want but can’t have at the moment.  There is also a need for new things because you don’t have what you need for the new.

It sounds so easy to tell someone they need to do this.  It looks so easy to read it on paper.  Put into practice, it is a rollercoaster of emotion.  Add in a deadline…crazypants!  Seriously, discovering treasures that were packed away and hidden years ago, finding stuff that at the time seemed important (and now I can’t even remember what it was saved for), remembering happy times and sad tears – it is joyful, enriching, and exhausting.  It’s also helpful in understanding why it’s so hard to unload personal baggage.  If you’re going to do this, and you have the option and luxury, choose someone special to take with you.  I have had the joy of sharing this cleansing experience with the kids, Bill, Mom, and my brother.  They are awesome traveling companions, willing to share the smiles, tears, and cart out the trash!

A great benefit and source of joy is sharing treasured items with friends that will put them good use, and donating to others that have more need of the item than I do.  Making others happy is always an easy way to improve your own demeanor, a favorite selfish way to add more smiles to the world.

Once I finish with the house, I’ll start an “inside” job.  Although I’m thinking that is already a work in progress.  It’s just that I’m pretty sure my mind is a whole lot more cluttered than the house is/was….

Grace and Gratitude

Gratefully, I am “unstuck”.  Reflection, time, some gentle (and not-so-gentle) nudges from my trusted “power team”, and a good run shook things loose.  Looking in the rearview mirror, and seeing the grace that surrounded me, and continues to be there, my soul overflows with gratitude.

If you haven’t already, find a couple people that you trust to keep your secrets, and appoint them to be your power team – “nudgers” – to give you a shove in the right direction – or, if need be, a kick in the pants to reboot the situation.  Trust may not come easily, but try it anyway.  Give them permission to shake things up for you.  Once you get out of the rut – don’t look back!  (At least for not more than a glance.)  Figure out what happened, and make plans to recognize and deal with that issue.  Thank your trusted pushers.

Relish the joy of rejoining the journey, laugh freely and often, and express gratitude.  Search out opportunities for random acts of joy and kindness to commit.  Move your body, sweat, test and push your limits.

Just don’t look back – you might get stuck back there!

Getting Stuck

Do you ever get that overwhelmed feeling?  I think I’m there.  I have this mental image of being like a truck stuck in the mud – spinning my wheels and flinging mud everywhere – and going nowhere!  22 days….and counting (insert huge sigh and teenage-girl eye roll).

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