I always wanted 2 things~

There are two things I always wanted as a kid (well, other than marrying David Cassidy or Davy Jones) was to be skinny and to be a great singer.  To me, anyone I admired was both of these.  Unfortunately, I was born as a tall girl with skinny legs and wider hips.  I also have a lower voice which works really well for creating harmony to other great singers, but I was never going to win any awards.

This may sound a bit shallow but as a middle child in a family of 6 girls I just wanted to stand out. I wanted my identity to be connected with my two “wants”.  I had so many friends in elementary school and even High school who wore between a size 6-8….I wore a size 10 and in a beach community where a bathing suit was a regular clothing requirement; I really struggled. 

I remember starving myself, drinking vinegar, or making myself sick simply to reach the goal of being a skinny girl.  I look back at that now and it makes me sad.

Now, I am a Mimi to some incredible world changers and I would never want them to be fixated on goals that clearly don’t represent their value at all!! I want them to clearly know that they are special, amazing, and full of promise.

Recently I have been taking my grandchildren through a gratitude Journal and as I ask them key questions the little girl in me is taking notes……I wish I would have been more comfortable with the person that I was and even more appreciative of the healthy, strong  body I’d been given!

In this journal there are good questions that have led me into nostalgic and meaningful thinking:

  1.  What do you appreciate about yourself?
  2. What’s your favorite feature?
  3. Where do you exel?
  4. What do you want to thank your body for?
  5. What do you think others love about you?

                            Wow!

As I ask myself these questions – ponder them as you assess yourself!  Are you content with who you are?  Do you love you? Can you appreciate the view others have of you??

Sadly, we tend to speak to ourselves with critical comments; I know I sure do.

Maybe this year we can break that chain of criticism and move to love and appreciate how special and unique we are. 

Because – we are amazing and unique and special– Every one of us!!

Looking forward with hope~

This is the season when so many of us take some time to look back over the closing year and look toward the year ahead.  This year will be an especially interesting time of reflection for me and I can only imagine, for many of you as well.

A big part of my time of reflection is to ask God to help me to see the past year with fresh eyes and I also ask Him to give me a guiding “word” for the coming year.  Last January the word was “relinquish” and I didn’t necessarily find that word to be very inspiring at the time. Now, as I reflect on the past year I see how profoundly that word served as a reminder to me that 2020 was not a year I would be able to control.

2020 has taught me many interesting things; though there are elements that I have sincerely not enjoyed.  However, I have seen myself “grow up” in some areas realizing that the inconveniences of 2020 have revealed how much I have simply taken for granted in my life: going to church, travel, eating out, gathering with friends and family, shopping, exercising in a gym, coffee dates, trainings and events, and living a mask free life.  

2020 has been a catalyst for revealing to me my need to be grateful, flexible, creative, and patient in finding ways to still keep activities and relationships fresh in my life. Whether birthdays, meetings, or holidays – it has all looked different.

Certainly it is my hope, and yours, that this is not our new normal but that we are learning to combat our present challenges and can go back to life as normal. This year took us all by surprise and between Covid and the election all of us got a bit churned up; worry, challenged relationships, inability to dream about the future, and even anger.  It is my hope that as we take time to reflect and move forward into 2021 we will be able to address those negatives and find a way to see all the good that we may have missed by being distracted by them.

As I’ve reflected and prayed over the past week I received my word for the year, another interesting one.  God gave me the word “Guard”.  The verse that came to mind to support its meaning is “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

After 2020 I can understand why this word is necessary and I look to see where it applies to my life in 2021.

It’s time to lift our heads and dream again, replace good life practices where we’ve gotten discouraged or lazy, and set good goals for 2021.  As we know, a lot can change in a year; be on the side of good change for you and for those you love.

Happy New Year. Be blessed.

Sometimes we don’t see the whole picture~

This past week my husband and I have been in Scottsdale, Arizona to get some time together and to make some memories.  I’ve learned a lesson or two while being here.

We went to beautiful Sedona, Arizona for a couple of days!! So beautiful.  One day we went on a hike at a state park. High above our trail was an incredible adobe house overlooking the entire park! I imagined how lucky the owners knew they were to be able to live in such a place! I imagined they loved their home!

As we hiked higher and higher up the trail we noticed that there was a chain link fence all around the property and the grass was way overgrown; it didn’t really look as lovely as I had hoped and it didn’t look like the owners valued it as much as I assumed they did…..sometimes things aren’t as perfect as they seem.

On our trip I have posted so many lovely pictures of our trip; Greg and I look so happy and energetic!! Those seeing these posts on Facebook must have thought- Boy! Those two are so lucky….I wish I could have a trip like that!! Yet, to be completely honest; I spent 4 of those days really sick! Really sick.  I still did stuff but…whew, I didn’t feel well!

Why do I share these two examples??? Sometimes, especially on Facebook or Instagram we see posts that appear to express a perfect person, a perfect life, etc. YET, you may only be seeing a tiny part of the real story!!

We can all tend to compare ourselves to what appears perfect until we get really close or until we get the whole picture!  There’s always a backstory so be thankful for who you are, what you have, and the life you live!! The grass is not always greener! 🙂

Social media is fun until we compare our life to another! Remember……..we always project our best selves…..but it may not be the whole story! Love your life and your story!

A fresh look this Thanksgiving~

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This Thanksgiving feels different this year; don’t get me wrong as I am still incredibly grateful for my faith, family and friends.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am completely smitten with my grandchildren, so my heart is very full.

What feels different this year is the experience of a Covid/Election year; It has filtered the way I now see life.  As I sit and ponder the past year I realize that I have learned a great deal about myself as I have weathered all the collective challenges that 2020 has brought into my life.

I am choosing to be grateful for all that I have learned and continue to learn as I look with hope into the coming year.  I wanted to share some of the tidbits I’ve learned in this interesting season:

I don’t mind being home.

I had a lot of closets that needed to be cleaned out.

Cooking new recipes can be fun.

Not hugging people hurts my heart.

I’m not a zoom person. I can do it but I love to be present with people.

I am fortunate to live in a place of wide open spaces; being outside fills my soul.

Hallmark entertains me which could make me a cheesy person.

A steady diet of the news causes depression. Time alone with God brings hope.

I am more creative than I thought I was; there are lots of ways to accomplish a goal.

I can remain in a vibrant relationship with God even if my church is closed.

Instacart is good.

Having a dance party with yourself is not a bad idea.

It is possible to smile with my eyes.

That it’s easy for me to feel hopeless when a hard season shows no ending date.

I have a greater appreciation for many, many opportunities and options I once easily had.

I miss traveling.

Wearing a mask makes my nose run and I am afraid to sneeze as someone may think I’m sick.

Adult color books are a good thing.

Extra time with my family is a blessing.

Politics are volatile and I need to focus on changes I CAN inspire.

Yoga pants can complete an outfit.

Most of all, I’ve learned, like so many of you, that I am more resilient than I thought I was.  The challenges have pulled me closer to things that matter the most, balanced my busyness, and caused me to be grateful for each day. I choose to be grateful for it all.

Have a meaningful Thanksgiving as you ponder all that means the most to you this year.

The Hardest Blog I have ever Written~

I started blogging many years ago to take the simple experiences of life and see how, if I paid attention, they were profound in my life.  Seasons and Assignments has been my way to express my thoughts and hopes, hurts and growth, and deeper messages for over 8 years. I have appreciated those who have followed me and my thoughts.  

Today I am feeling that I must express a deeper honesty as I watch what is happening on the political scene and as I continue to be astounded by the lack of kindness in our country.

I need to engage you in an honest conversation.  If you have not walked a mile in my shoes then I actually don’t want a response from you; but if you have~ I want a forum with you.

It was 1977, I was 17. I was celebrating my graduation by attending a “Keg Party” being held on someone’s property far from my hometown. Poor choice. Bad choice. My choice.

By 10:30 at night I had been “date raped” while I laid there passed out by drinking too much hard alcohol.  Those who have trusted me as a leader are now aghast and possibly standing in judgement, yet this is a truth of both my life and faith journey with God.

As a virgin I was devastated, broken, angry,  and disappointed in myself!!! 

WHY had I gone there? Why had I made myself so vulnerable? Oh Lord, …..I am broken.

It was even more shocking when I learned that I was pregnant weeks later………I was scared and in need of much council.  I was from a very religious family and I decided on my own that they would hate me and ask me to leave my home; I have learned over the years that was simply not true!

With nowhere else to go; or so I thought,  I went to Planned Parenthood where a nurse played into all my fears and encouraged me, if not pushed me to do the “right” thing as a single 17 year old to abort my baby; having a baby would ruin my future opportunities.  They assured me it would cost me nothing; they could get finances in 24 hours!! (imagine that!!!)

The following day I entered the waiting room and looked into the eyes of 16 other teens who had also been “advised” that Planned Parenthood could “fix’ this problem.  ALL of them had scared, sad faces and their eyes matched my own.

Following the “procedure” I saw them again in the recovery room; many of them crying, despondent, and seemingly broken.  NO mother ever wants to take the life of her baby! How does a young girl reconcile that choice?

As you vote this year and you STAND for women’s rights please be very careful not to assume that Planned Parenthood is all about women; they are not. They are about income!

I was never, ever offered counseling or any post checkup after the “procedure” Never a phone call……..nothing. They had already made their money off me! I was now very unnecessary, as were the 14 to 16 year old teen girls who visited their office almost every week.

What people never talk about is the sadness, depression, self- medication, and suicide that follows a young girl who is led into this “best choice for your life”….to take the life of your child. As a teen you are simply afraid….you don’t have enough maturity to have hindsite.

I wanted help, mature conversation, and support; but I was simply a financial commodity. NO Compassion, NO concern, and No help.

I spireled emotionally for years.

I bravely share all of this simply because in the arena of politics I am seeing women standing steadfast for Planned Parenthood without every really understanding what they are about………I  grieve that I had the “procedure”…..I wish I had given my child life and a healthy family…..I wish…..I wish…… I wish I’d have had a Pregnancy Resource Center to guide me rather than Planned Parenthood every day of my life.

God is my refuge; he has healed me and given me grace to heal and I am grateful everyday. I just please don’t want anyone assume you know the intent of Planned Parenthood……there is so much you do not know and do not want to know.

……only respond it you’ve stood in my shoes…..otherwise I appreciate your silence.

Kindergarten taught me all I need to know~

Kindergarten! Remember your first years of school? I do! We had cool desks, recess was fun, I loved it when my teacher read books, and when we had a tiny rest time after lunch we were awakened by a Princess wand–It was magical to me.

Kindergarten is where we all learned some of the basics of life: Share everything, Play fair, Don’t hit people, Don’t take things that aren’t yours, Say sorry when you hurt someone, don’t say naughty words, Flush the toilet, and taking an afternoon nap is really, really good!

This week I was upstairs in my home and I heard people being calling names, saying “shut up” and “You are stupid” from my living room. I was so shocked I ran into my living room to handle the situation and realized that these behaviors and words were coming from two men who want to be the leader of our great nation. My heart sunk as I realized how far we’ve slid in our rhetoric and interaction at the top leadership of our nation!!

I would never have allowed a 7 year old watch two men act in a way that in their young lives would cause them to be disciplined AND I would not have wanted them to think for a minute that this is the BEST America has to offer!!

It doesn’t matter where I ,or you stand politically I am grieved by how we represent ourselves on the world stage. America is better than this, America is full of incredible people who learned very early on how to be a considerate , respectful human beings.

Normally when I write I want to give one or two action steps to move toward greater growth; for me it is to NEVER be contentious in my personal life and to never set an example for my kids and grandkids that would look like these candidates in any way.

By the way, one of the last things that kindergarten taught us was that warm cookies and milk are really, really good! I agree, especially chocolate chip!

Hazardous

Much of California and Oregon have been experiencing smoke-filled skies for weeks and it’s been dangerous and unhealthy. The fires causing the dark skies have been even more devastating; heartbreaking.

As we would watch the weather app to check out the health of our outdoor air one term showed up day after day after day- HAZARDOUS!! This meant to warn us to stay inside! Don’t go out! In thinking over 2020 I believe the word HAZARDOUS is a good description for the majority of our experiences!

Within two weeks all our lives turned upside down! COVID became a reality and with it we were to withdraw into our homes, stay in small family clusters, shut down schools, stores, eating venues, and churches. We began wearing masks, being severely cautious of everyone around us, we stopped hugging, shaking hands, and sadly even looking at one another!

During this time the political rhetoric became louder and louder; friends and family members were pitted against one another on Facebook and in private. Anger at police started a long series of both peaceful marches and angry riots around the nation; it continues even today.

Then, thinking we couldn’t handle another crisis, wildfires consume thousands and thousands of beautiful NW towns and forests displacing whole communities and even causing loss of life.

Forgive me for the seemingly negative blog but when we take a look at the challenges all of us have collectively experienced it’s just stunning and I often think that many of us a a bit numb, at least I have found myself there from time to time.

I have missed life as I knew it, I have missed gathering with those I love, I have missed traveling to see friends and family living far from me, I have missed joy-filled conversations that now seem to center around the challenges we are facing, I have missed smiles between strangers out and about in stores and public places, I have missed hugs and handshakes- though I have to admit I have not hesitated once to hug those I love when I get the chance to see them.

In this time I have not found God to be distant, He has been my strong source of encouragement and hope each day and yet I have still needed to grieve the changes surrounding my life and others. I have had to allow myself to be sad and grieve numerous times to be truly honest.

I don’t know when life will look like it did before or if we will simply live in a “new normal”. What I do know for sure is that in the midst of this past HAZARDOUS year and also in the season to come the people we love and care about will always be our richest source of joy. I have learned to truly treasure those with whom I share my life with such a greater appreciation than ever before; making a priority to care for those who live close and regularly reaching out to those who are far away. Jesus has always called us back to loving people because He knew that we need each other- that’s not going to change in the coming season.

Friends, 2020 has truly been like the twilight zone in many ways but we are resilient, God is good, and we have one another! And…..if you need to cry every once in awhile give yourself grace; you are human.

Perhaps there is someone needing to hear from you this week. Could you take a moment our two to reach out ? It could make the difference between HAZARDOUS and GOOD in the life of someone you love.

You will find what you focus on!

A couple of years ago, after a 4th of July head-on collision I decided that my small car would not be enough to make me feel safe anymore; I needed something bigger!  I went into the Toyota lot and saw a brand new 4 Runner; still in plastic wrap without even one mile on it and I said “ I’ll take it”.

Heading home I felt like I was so lucky because I hadn’t seen very many royal blue 4 runners around!  Once I bought it I saw them EVERYWHERE!!  Because I was focused on mine I saw a car just like mine almost every day!!

I had dinner with a sweet friend tonight and she used the example that we find what we are focused on; what we are looking for and I heartily agreed! What we focus on we find!

Why does this matter? Well, because in this interesting season in history there is pain and there is joy, there are disappointing people and there and amazing heroes, there is hope or there is hopelessness, there are opportunities to dream again and there are ways to get stuck……we will find what we focus on!

What are you looking for in this season?  What are your eyes focused on?  Are you downcast? If so you will find reason to be so.  Are you hopefilled? If you are you will find opportunities to walk out hope!

What we focus on we will see more than ever before!!

Can I be honest?  The past 6 months have had some of the sweetest moments and some of the most challenging times of hopelessness; of sadness.  I am learning to look for what/who is inspiring, live in hope, and begin to dream again.

In our collective sadness let’s try to focus on what is good, what is lovely, and what is hopefilled…..and then let’s pass it on to everyone we meet!! Want to join me???

So I have a sister………

This story began when I was 6 years old and I had a broken arm.  It was summer and I attended Vacation Bible School at Pajaro First Assembly.  There were many, many children that attended that year but there was a really nice girl who I met.  She helped me carry things because of my broken arm and we became new friends.

Even after Vacation Bible School was over we continued to spend time; I would invite her over to my house to play on our 54 acres of apple trees. We had such fun and became good friends.

The story is long and involved but after seeing the need in her life; as well as that of her baby sister, my parents were given legal guardianship of both girls and my family grew from four girls to six overnight.

The reason I share this story is because I find it fascinating how God’s plan in our lives can be so creative.  Over the years she and I have grown as “sisters”. No, we don’t share the same blood as she is a mix of Spanish and Native American  and I am Irish and Scottish yet we share the same heart and love for one another.

Alberta Wray has been my friend, confidant, coach, and encourager throughout my life; God in His wisdom knew I would need her in my life.  As you look at your life in hindsight is there someone God gifted you with in a creative or surprising way?  If so , thank Him for it because it shows that He knows what you will need; who you will need to navigate life!

Alberta has impacted the lives of hundreds of people all over the world, she is a wonderful human; I’m glad she’s my sister.

5 Truths about Life~

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This has surely been a season of learning, hasn’t it?  So many of our lives and the way we have lived our lives has been turned upside down.  Nevertheless there are some life truths that remain the same no matter what season of life we find ourselves in!

There is no mistakes, only lessons to learn.

The challenges we face are an incredible opportunity to find our grit, to stretch and to grow IF we allow them to! An incredible part of this learning is that we can then, in turn, support others when they face similar challenges.

Life is a journey, not necessarily a destination.

Our lives are full of seasons and assignments.  Our lives are full of experiences, relationships, memory making, as well as challenges.  If we live our whole life to finally make a million dollars we will ultimately miss out on all the journey has to offer if we are blinded only by the goal.

If you don’t believe in YOU, it will be hard for others to.

If you don’t see good in yourself, if you constantly talk about your flaws it may become all others can see in you. And it is true that if we don’t believe in ourselves we will make choices and act on our negative self-focus.  Work on loving yourself, believing in yourself, and choosing to focus on the talents and gifts you bring to the world. If you believe, others will too!

There is a big difference between loneliness and solitude.

During this pandemic I have learned something new about myself.  I actually like being alone and I’ve had a great opportunity to test that out.  My life has always been lived in a very social way and yet this time of solitude has been good for me.  Being lonely is a different experience because it speaks of the absence of people who care and who love you~just feeling alone. Loneliness is painful, solitude can be life-giving.

The world is full of voices but not necessarily inspiration.

This unique season in our culture has created an opportunity for there to be many, many voices.  There’s opinions, rants, education, politics, news, and medical updates but there’s not a great deal of inspiration.  I am always moved when I read an article or see a post where people are doing good, where senior couples are still crazy about each other, and when children show love to everyone regardless of the color of their skin! We need more inspiration…always.

Everyone deserves a fresh start.

Our lives are always in process.  Sometimes people find themselves making wrong choices, causing harm, or breaking the law.  It would be easy to decide that there is just no hope.  But there’s always hope and the story of a persons life is not over until it’s truly over.  God is so good at giving second chances and so should we.