Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ironic play

Five minutes are left of today. All day, I had been thinking of all those affected by infertility and loss.

Charlotte must have picked up on this at some level as she ran around while playing tonight saying, "Look, Mommy, I have a baby in my tummy! I liked being in your tummy. It was cozy."


Seriously, what is going on inside that little brain of hers?!

I've nothing wise or witty or profound to say other than how mothering this greatest surprise miracle continues to be filled with both immense joy and tremendous sadness at the same time. The cross, though, is mine to carry and was uniquely fashioned for only me to carry it. I pray for greater acceptance and peace and for all those struggling with the cross of infertility to feel a tiny bit of peace and grace tonight.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What's in a name?

C=Charisma:  Whether in a silly mood, serious, or even angry, you have a way of captivating others' attention with your big personality

H=Healthy:  I am so thankful for your robust spirit!

A=Always asserting your independence ... "I can do it myself!" is commonplace around these parts.

R=Realllllllllllly loves horses! Long live Spirit!

L=Love you more than you will ever know!

O=Only one who will call me Mommy and I pray that will be enough for you.

T=Three.....and a half!

T=Totally your Daddy's mini me!

E=Energetic...you would play hide and seek all night if you could!



Many thanks to Buckeyes and Babies Photography for these lovely photos! 






You told me today you are no longer my baby girl but that you are now "a big girl" and looking at these photos after having had the chance to snuggle and hold a three day old baby girl tonight has me acknowledging how big you are.  Never forget, you have every little bit of my heart, precious one, no matter how old you are...but time, please slow down a bit! 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Charlotte's First Day of School!

Typing the title of this blog post has me reeling.

I held it together in the days leading up to this morning.  My own schoolwork and work responsibilities have been keeping me soooo busy over the last month.  Adam has been busy with student teaching.  So it was not difficult to keep from thinking of this extra special first milestone for our girl too much in the last few days but here we are all of a sudden experiencing it today!  Two days shy of turning 3.5 years old, Charlotte Annie has begun school.


She loved riding the swing on the playground prior to her registration appointment earlier this summer!

Diving into some of the materials during her Registration Orientation.
She flew through the one-on-one orientations with flying colors.  We have been talking about her school, the playground, her special sticker that will mark her cubby (orange butterfly), her teacher, the new friends she will make, and how fun learning there will be.

She was excited.  She kept saying she was going to be a "teacher, too, just like my Daddy and Mommy" and that she was going to see "so many friends" but that "Dusty and Hershey are going to wait at home".

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the start of the school year got pushed back and the first day fell on a day I'm away from campus which was an unexpected bonus.  So, upon bedtime last night, we were ready!

I woke a up a few times throughout the night, which is typical but when the alarm let me know it was time to start the day, I took a deep breath and started the day.  How hard is it going to be to wake Charlotte this morning?  Will she eat breakfast without any problems?  We don't want her to be hungry!  Hopefully she won't yell too much as I brush her hair and fix it.  All these thoughts were running through my mind as soon as my eyes opened because our girl is not a morning person.  In fact, over the summer, when she took part in a summer program that required her to be at the center by 9am, I had to attempt to wake her over three tries over a 45 minute time span.  When I described this to Sr. Eliana she said, "So she's a human snooze button" which was exactly the way to describe our mornings in getting Charlotte up and ready for the day.  Haha!

So, imagine my surprise when I walked out of the bedroom to find that her light was on in her room and  she was doing this!

She had turned on her light then crawled back into bed and was calmly and blissfully laying in bed with eyes open and this expectant look on her face.  What a surprise!
Thank you, God, for this unexpected blessing of her being pleasant and already awake ready to start the day!  We still had some tears and power struggles in getting dressed but after a few minutes there we were ready to start our day!  Eventually, she ate her toast and drank her milk for breakfast all with time to spare.  Again, this was a small miracle given she usually sleeps until 9:30 or 10am and all this was before 7:15am!  It was such a peaceful and bright way to start this first day!

Soon after Daddy left for school, it was time to go to Charlotte's school!  However, we had to take some photos first!

SO much sass!

Super excited to go to school!
She sang and giggled the whole way there which set my Mama's heart at ease.  Once we pulled into the school's driveway, she recognized where we were and enjoyed watching the older children play on the playground while we waited for our turn to get out of the car.  Everything got extra real for me and I was surprised to feel the hot tears appear in my eyes.  I never thought I would be the mom to cry over this sort of milestone.  I mean, for 17 years (21 if you count the pre-service years), I was and have been on the other side of things receiving and welcoming students into the new school year, summer camps, vacation bible schools, after school programs, parish religion classes, cheerleading practices, and babysitting.  I know, firsthand, the love and energy and support that is poured into each child throughout these times away from parents and caregivers and especially throughout the school day.  I have been that person to console a crying child.  I have been the person to witness how quickly the toddler or infant "forgets" whom he or she was crying for as redirection occurs.  Mentally, I know that the separation in this case is a fleeting moment...but boy did my heart break and crumble at that image and hearing her cries as I had to drive away from the drop off line.  I have worked with Charlotte's school in a professional capacity the last couple years and trust the staff with our precious little one.  Yet I was not prepared for the sudden pangs of, "Oh my goodness, this is really happening and I'm letting her go" as the school appeared at the end of the driveway.  I was surprised I was affected in that way...but then why should it be a surprise?  Mothering has been such a conflict between professional and personal worlds at times.

As we waited in the drop off line, the van in front of us contained a little boy who was born on the same day as Charlotte.  He was having a rough time with the transition so we wound up sitting in the car for about ten minutes as the staff worked with the boy and his mommy.  This was enough time for Charlotte to get antsy and kick off her Minnie Mouse shoes so when it was our turn to pull forward, I had to scramble to find her shoes and put them back on...at this point she became resistant and didn't want to get out of her carseat.  The peace and calm from the morning dissipated in the last few minutes frenzy of trying to get her shoes back on that ended up with the director taking Charlotte into the school in her arms as Charlotte cried into her hands.  I don't think I'll forget that image of Charlotte looking at me over the director's shoulder, crying, calling out my name, and then waving goodbye to me.  Ahhh!  I know (hope) she won't remember that part of her first day and am sure she's happily engaged in exploratory and learning activities and meeting new friends in her new school.  I was thankful for the sunshine this morning, too, because I want memories of this day for her to be bright and full of light - literally and figuratively.  I hope she grows up to value education as much as her Dad and I do and that this first year as a primary student in the preK setting leads to a wonderful experience and journey as a lifelong learners.  She's only there for 90 minutes today as next week marks the beginning of the half and full day options and I can't wait to pick her up and hear how today went.

My parents will be here to provide support and help throughout this month since the busy days for my job won't allow for pick up but at least I can drop her off in the mornings...this part has always been my least favorite part of being a working mom.  We were so fortunate that she arrived over Spring Break which led into summer so I didn't have to deal with the conflicting emotions of being a working mom in the way of physically leaving her with others until she was five months old.  Then, as luck would have it, Adam was able to do the drop offs before starting his work day and then was able to continue with this as a student.  So I got a bit spoiled over the last couple years of being the one to pick ups here and there and to not have to emotionally deal with physically dropping her off as I drove to work.  We absolutely adore the family who takes such amazingly tender and good care of Charlotte while we're at work but I was thankful Adam was the one physically dropping her off in the mornings.  Although the other day when I left the childcare provider's home, I was extra thankful for their large bay window that allowed me to wave goodbye to the children as they excitedly smiled and waved from the living room.

So, this new school year finds that everything has flipped.  I'm the one tasked with the drop offs with this new schedule/routine we find ourselves facing and I didn't know how I would feel about that.  This is another reason I'm so thankful for today's unexpected peace and calm in getting the day started and getting ourselves out of the house as it showed me that maybe it won't be so bad.  I also love that today, the first day for Charlotte (that wasn't supposed to be the first day), falls on the feast day of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  I've always gained loads of inspiration from this saint and reflecting on her life, wisdom, and today's milestone, this quote of hers is bringing me great peace.


Another reason I was anxious for today was I didn't know how I would manage the big emotions of this big first milestone.  Each milestone we experience with Charlotte comes tinged with sadness knowing it is the last time we will experience something like this with a child.  It was her first day of school but also the only or last time Adam and I get to experience this.  I'm currently reflecting on accepting God making me the way He has and saying YES to my own existence...not the existence I had thought I would experience but here right now the way things are.  In the days leading up to this milestone, I had wondered how I was going to handle it all and if I was going to be bitter, angry, resentful, disappointed.....but I'm at peace.  I'm so thankful I was able to be there and present for her (in spite of the sad departure during drop off...again I'm hoping this is just a blip on the radar screen of her first day of school!) and to trust enough to let her go....even just for 90 minutes.  However, I have decided she must live with us until she is 30 and she can just go to college wherever I am working.  ;)



Time to go pick up my girl!  <3
She LOVED it!  She jumped up and down when she saw me in the pick up line and excitedly said, "Mama!  Mama!  I want to wave goodbye to all my friends!"



Once we got home, we played outside for a little bit and then she immediately took a nap....who is this child?!  The girl who never naps and doesn't like getting up early, got herself up early today and is now taking a mid-morning nap! 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

PIC ME (part 4)

I can't believe it's July.  That means it has now been five months since the Dating to Marriage talk I helped give when teaching abroad.  So tonight seems as good a night as any to share with you what the "M" stood for in my little acronym.  Anyone remember what the first couple letters represented though?

Image result for pop quiz gif

"P" - pray for your future spouse and the three part prayer

"I" - be more intentional...with your time...dating....and to be selective with whom you choose to invest in or spend your time with while discerning marriage so as to not waste anyone's time.

"C" - center yourself on Christ







Now for the "M"..........drum roll please..........








I recommended that the listeners of the talk allow themselves to be matched.  This may seem obvious when thinking about the vocation of marriage but within our dating culture and climate, sometimes we are closed off to being matched even when it is something that we say we want.  What I mean when I say that is that sometimes we have a certain stereotype or certain person in mind when we envision our future spouse.  

We need to be willing to let go and to allow ourselves to be matched with the person God has in mind for us.  This may mean that we need to be willing to be single for the time being which might seem contrary to what the desired result may be.  God may still be working on that person or on you.  He may still be pruning the branches and getting you ready such as when the branches are pruned to bear fruit and make better wine (John 15:1 -2).

I also think that allowing yourself to be matched means to let yourself meet others in different ways even if unconventional.  

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”  

If what you've been doing is not bringing you closer to your future spouse then maybe a different way of achieving this dream is needed.  I sometimes look at others who are so determined to try to meet someone the same way a family member did...for instance, trying to find someone while in college because so and so met his or her spouse as a college sweetheart.  I wonder if perhaps the pressure to repeat their parents' love story, or what happened to a cousin or some other relative, might be a bit much or too intense at times for some of the folks I encounter.  Or maybe someone is determined to go out to dance clubs or bars every night in a city since that is "where all the singles hang out" and yet the right person is not found time and again.  Yet others might stay in and instead lament over the lack of prospects in that town rather than hitting up the social scene.  

No matter the situation, I still say...."Be matched - - or be willing to be matched!"....maybe doing so means you will need to switch up the scene or activity or scenario!  

Maybe it means putting yourself out there and going to a new club or group.

Maybe it means trying out a new hobby to meet new people through that avenue.

Or maybe it could mean to set up an online dating profile!  ;)  

Catholic Match is what was successful for Adam and me to meet six years ago.  He had set up his profile on a Saturday night and by lunch time on Monday, we were matched thanks to the interwebs.  He joked that he should have gotten the three DAY subscription rather than the three month one!  

My point is....take down the walls, remove the defenses, be vulnerable (but smart about it), and put yourself out there to be matched.  

Who knows...maybe someone you know will introduce you to a friend - - dare I even say a big sister might do this for her little brother?! :D 

Maybe the meeting you missed because you got lost will allow you to strike up a conversation with the seemingly random person in the elevator that might lead to more conversation.  

Maybe giving someone a shot at taking you out who defies your usual "type" will lead to something unexpected!  


You will never know if you don't allow yourself to experience the possible matchings!

Friday, July 5, 2019

#welovesha


Many folks have asked what this past semester abroad was like…it’s so hard to think of one word that would summarize all that happened while teaching and living in Austria. 
The one word that I think attempts to capture the experience is “full”.

Being a resident of Gaming, Austria while working in my university’s study abroad program, was quite different from living in Ohio.  We traded in our red brick home on a hill for a one floor apartment that was housed in an old monastery with snow piled almost as high as us out the front door.  The practice was to leave a window open for at least a half hour a day no matter how cold it is and no screens inhabited the windows.  Charlotte called the apartment her “castle” due to the high vaulted ceilings and wooden doors that added to the charm of where we called home from January through May.  As we spent a day in early January flying to Austria, I thought we were flying toward a semester that would consist of “just” teaching and one during which I would not engage in as much scholarship or service.
 
However, the way the semester turned out ended up being very different from what I expected.  A lot of opportunities presented themselves in all three aspects of my job (e.g., teaching, scholarship, and service) and putting it that way feels like an understatement!

Another unexpected blessing of living in Austria this past semester is the beautiful friendships with the women experienced there.  Through the start and growth of these relationships, I was challenged, accepted, loved, able to love, and completely blessed by all that occurred through the conversations and thoughts shared in the relationships.  One such individual I got to know while living on the study abroad campus was the female resident director who oversees the RAs and students in the dorms. 
Sha is unlike any other person I have met.  She is delightful.  She is real.  She is “tell it as it is” and is wise.  She has faced hard times and difficulties in her past.  She is a support if you are walking through a valley in your own life.  She has overcome.  She is struggling.  She is healing.  She is a fighter.  However, I didn’t know these things about Sha when I first met her.  Here is how I recall that first day of meeting Sha.  I had been invited to her birthday party as one of the women of the Kartause.  I remember wondering if it might be awkward that I be there that night given that I had only been a part of the community for a few days by that point.  However, I also remember feeling excited to interact and mingle with the women as I had been in touch with them via email prior to my arrival and had already met some of them in the first few days. 

However, Sha was someone I had not met or interacted with…yet.  That all changed the morning of her birthday party night though.  I attended an all staff/faculty meeting and who sat next to me but none other than this Sha person I had been hearing about via the email invite to her birthday celebration!  I introduced myself to her but there was no time for small talk as the meeting was about to begin.  As we made introductions and got down to business, I recall being impressed by Sha’s passion for what she does via the discussion and questions that came up about student care and the needs of the university.  At some point, during the meeting, when we had a small break, Sha leaned over and commented on my Charlotte and birthstone rings, which was touching for her to notice that small detail about my jewelry.  Once the meeting ended, we were all swept up in conversations as we departed the meeting space but I remember leaving and feeling more excited than nervous about the women’s gathering planned for that evening since I had felt so at ease around Sha and didn’t feel as if I would be intruding.

Fast forward to her birthday celebration that night, where I met many of the other women from the community for the first time; it was time to honor the birthday guest.  Courtney suggested we go around the room and share one word that described Sha as we spoke of the impact she had on our lives.  I really enjoyed getting to know Sha, and the other women, better in this way!  It reminded me of previous retreats I had gone on and allowed me to observe firsthand the close-knitness (is this a word??) and care everyone had for one another.  I really appreciated being able to start my own relationships with these women and to be a small part of this community and continued to feel appreciation for this throughout the whole semester.  It is one of the things I miss the most being back in Ohio - - the close friendships with the other women in Gaming really touched me and I would love to further cultivate those bonds with others here as well.

Somehow, by the end of the night, Sha and I ended up being the last ones to leave Courtney’s house.  As we said goodbye to our gracious hostess, I told Sha (after having only interacted with her for a few hours at that point) that she reminded me of the word, “effervescent”, and even now after having gotten to know her over the last semester, I still think this is a good word for Sha.  Merriam-Webster defines this adjective as:

effervescent
ef·​fer·​ves·​cent | \ ˌe-fər-ˈve-sᵊnt  \
Definition of effervescent
1having the property of forming bubbles marked by or producing effervescencean effervescent beverageeffervescent saltsan effervescent tablet
2marked by or expressing an appealingly lively quality an effervescent person/personalitya song with an effervescent melodyShe was a marvel with the press: fresh, direct, effervescent.— Bruce Anderson Conditions being as they were at Brinkley Court … I hadn't expected the evening meal to be particularly effervescent. Nor was it. Silent. Sombre. The whole thing more than a bit like Christmas dinner on Devil's Island.— P. G. Wodehouse

Even after having gotten to know Sha beyond that first work meeting and her birthday party, I stand by this description.  Sha has an appealingly lively quality even when talking about the hard subjects or engaging in a serious topic of conversation.  She spills over wisdom and strength without trying.  The passion and life within her for what she believes in and advocates for has a way of rising to the surface and bubbling over to impact others.  She coordinated an Easter Egg hung for the children of the Kartause, advocated for rights of others, and helped those around her to face insecurities or overwhelming feelings through her counseling/therapist background.  She helped me take a long dreamt about trip to Venice by taking me under her wing and navigating the city of waterways together!

Charlotte also grew to love Sha while we were living abroad.  Too many times to count, she would call out, "SHHHHAAAAA!!!" when seeing her out and about in the courtyard, running down the hallway of the monastery walls to show her a toy, or when seeing her in the pew across from us at mass.  Sha always lit up when she saw our daughter and welcomed her with open arms.  She didn't hide her emotions and her beauty shone through even when crying as sharing a profound thought or revelation.  Don't tell anyone, but I especially enjoyed our walks back to the Kartause after our Book Study nights because we would be able to continue some conversations one-on-one during the three minute walk back to our respective homes as I picked her brain on some other topic or comment made earlier in the evening in the group setting.  Our girls' getaway to Venice was extra special because of the laughs shared ("It's hailing!"), lessons learned (life is too short to drink something you don't like and guard your water taxi ticket with your life), there are time you just gotta take charge ("Make sure Dr. Reister is on the bus!"), and I'll never forget all the inspiring moments (both ordinary and extraordinary) shared with this beautiful sweet friend who is full of life and spirit.  Always ready to serve others, through her words and actions, Sha was the person ready to hold a child, was the one ready to help clean, could spark others into action, or could just sit and be a listening ear when needed.  

This is why when I said goodbye to Sha on May 20th, I did so happily knowing I would see her in a month or so, since she was scheduled to be in Ohio for a visit this summer!  I knew that while I wouldn't benefit from being around her all the time as I had been accustomed to, that I would see her in the not so distant future!  I hugged her knowing it was just a “See you later” instead of a final goodbye.  

However, you guys, in the weeks between then and now, we learned some shocking news about Sha’s health and I wasn’t able to see her again so soon as planned.  In spite of running, dancing, playing soccer, grabbing life and living it - - I mean realllly living it! - - and living every second of life with the friends and colleagues she had made during the past couple years in Austria, she was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer.  What????  Sha is young.  Sha is full of life - - bubbling over with it.  Sha is such a gift to others.  Sha has faced so much in her life and her past and now this?  Why is this happening???  

We don't have the answers and only God knows why she is facing this but what we do know is Sha’s life has been turned upside down at the flip of a coin.  She is currently awaiting treatment in Houston, TX.  No one knows what lies ahead and it’s a scary time for her and those of us who love her. 

However, what we CAN do is pray and keep Sha in our thoughts at all times - - let’s try to wrap her up and lift her as she has inspired and lifted so many by her presence.  If you feel so inclined, you can view this Gofundme page that has been set up to assist Sha with her medical expenses in the upcoming months but, really, prayers are so so so needed.  Prayers to help Sha face this battle that lies before her, to help her know how loved and appreciated she truly is, and to help her to rise up this seemingly unclimbable mountain.  She has asked for space and time to process all this news and information so I’m throwing in there requests for prayers of assuredness and clarity on her part.  Jesus, we trust in you.  Lord, please provide Sha the graces and strength needed to fight this fight.  Provide the medical team with wisdom in helping Sha come up with the treatment plan needed to tackle this.  Allow Sha freedom from the torment, doubts, insecurities, and anything else that may be holding her back from peace at this difficult time.

I was already so incredibly thankful for the Spring 2019 semester in Austria but am now extra grateful for it due to the people I met and the graces that resulted from these encounters.  

Sha, in particular, has helped me to face some scary things in regard to trying to heal from recent wounds, and I pray she receives the same support/blessings in her new surroundings as she seeks to find her way in a new place away from familiar comforts.  God is unchanging and everywhere..may she feel His presence and light during the extra dark days ahead…thanks for reading, friends, and please please please pray.


Sha offered to hang back and cuddle this baby while Mom had to run a quick errand on  Easter Sunday.  This is an example of Sha's selfless love for her friends and even those she doesn't know so well....she quietly stayed back to console a baby and provide a Mom with some grace to get something done while others scurried about and went on with their days.  

My friend the world wanderer!  

"That's you & Sha!" - - said Charlotte when peering over my shoulder and looking at the Venice pictures with me.  This was taken during our fun tourist day of island hopping (we learned the reason these houses are different colors in Burano is because the fishermen, after a long day of work, would be tired and needed color coded houses to know which ones they belonged to)...let's be those color coded houses for Sha sending up prayers and supporting her in any way we can so that she sees and feels the vibrancy of life amidst these dark days. #welovesha

Friday, June 21, 2019

Expanding Horizons

Today is the first day of summer and I got to enjoy beautiful home area views like this as I drove home to my parents with Charlotte.

 

My summer online class is in the next to last week of running. July is right around the corner which is the month I hope to step away from doing schoolwork.....hope being the operative word as July is the only month I don't teach my regular teaching load but there are so many projects in the works at the moment....in a good way!

Yesterday, I received word that a paper was accepted to be presented in the Czech Republic and tomorrow I will be in Philadelphia for a morning workshop at a conference on instructional technology where I am excited to learn new things! Next week, a chapter I am writing for a monograph in Madrid, Spain is due and moving parts are coming together for an exciting research opportunity through a grant proposal that is due in a couple weeks.

Ever since stepping off the planes that brought us back to America from Austria exactly one month ago from today, we have been running around town getting our house and cars back in shape, Charlotte has been loving her time at a new activity center for children and families that opened in our town, I have been home at my parents' house three times, and we have had the unexpected pleasure of connecting with not one, not two, but five members of our Austrian family in Ohio!!  Actually, eight if you count the three students we met in Austria who are working in Ohio for the summer who have already been to our house for dinner!

We had three of the Sisters over for lunch last week. Two of them had been in Austria and it was so delightful to host them in our home! I was especially excited to serve Sr. Eliana coffee from our new coffee machine! She approved!

The day after lunch, while at work, I saw Fr. Jonathan! Again  it was incredible connecting with someone we had gotten close to in Europe here on US soil. Finally, on Wednesday, when teaching at the activity center, I was able to catch up with a dear sweet friend from Austria who is spending time here with her hubby's family. I had to laugh when Courtney said, "It feels like I just saw you!" as a greeting since I felt the same way and am sooooo thankful for these amazing friends we met due to our shared experiences in Austria!

Who would have thought that this one semester abroad would lead to such sweet friendships and afforded me the professional opportunities in not only Austria but also in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain, and beyond as well as locally in Ohio?!

In the next month, now that it is officially summer, I hope things slow down and I can reconnect with those I have not been able to see since fall semester!
Three nephews and one niece were awaiting our arrival at Mom and Dad's house. My niece snapped this photo. When I saw it, I was struck by the visual reminder to take the time to stop and try to sloooooow down in the next couple weeks now that summer is here. Hmm.... Maybe after VBS ends and we show Mason and Braden a good time during the annual summer visit of a niece and nephew! This will be Mason's fifth summer of visiting and Braden's first one...soooo excited! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Closing Time

The class song for my senior class was Closing Time. The lyrics for this redundant number are below...I always thought this song was about being out late at night before the bar closed. I read recently, though, that it is about birth and the baby leaving the womb for the unknown. I couldn't help but think of this song as I realized something tonight in a completely different context.

Nine years ago on this day, I made the decision to leave life as I knew it in York, Pennsylvania to follow a dream down in North Carolina. I prepared to be a special educator from 1998-2002 then in 2010, I made a leap to start working on my doctorate! It is wild to think that I have now been in higher education for nine years!

Looking at these pictures of places where I have been from hanging in our home tonight makes me wonder what beginning will come from some other beginning's end in the next nine years? I bought the Pittsburgh picture in the black frame back in college when Dad and I were picking up last minute Christmas gifts from the mall by my Grandma's house. At the time, I had no idea what life would end up looking like or that four states and twelve years later, I would wind up within 45 minutes of the Steel City again on my way to becoming a wife and mom. The Greensboro painting was a goodbye gift from dear friends as I prepared to leave North Carolina but what the couple who gave it to me could not have known is that this scene reminds me of a special moment. That scene takes me back to the romantic cold night when Adam and I went ice skating in the outdoor rink by those city buildings before winding up at a local brewery a few blocks away where he shared shocking news with me that he was falling in love!

Hmm...I just realized I don't have a picture to represent when I lived in Delaware! I do, however, have some letter tiles that spell out Lewes (the name of the small beach town where I lived) that are in display in the same room. My hometown of Frackville is not represented on this wall either. However, I have a bunch of fall foliage pictures from there hanging up elsewhere in our home so that is probably okay. ;) 

This was a parting gift from the Study Abroad Program. It now hangs in our living room so I can see it every day - - our most recent new and now former home.

When I purchased this during an Art Festival (yeah, Kipona!), I had expected to live in this area for a long time. Little did I know that York was going to become a cherished new hometown. York remains a place I would return to in a heartbeat!

How cute are these magnets created by the same artist who made the prints of York from my Wall of Places I've Lived... I may need a second fridge just for the magnets I want from this stock photo on the artist's website!! ;} 
The last few days I have been pondering how folks set out to move forward and over obstacles, with all these thoughts of literal and figurative places to be, to keep from being stuck in a rut.

Some avoid.

Some run away (think fight or fight) and some deny anything is wrong.

Some face their challenges head on while others bury their heads in the sand.

The main theme that seems to come up is perspective. When one changes how something is viewed and how to live with whatever the "it" is, growth can occur. The other day, I heard an interesting view about suffering. It went something like this: Healing may not look the way you think it will. A person may still die of disease. Yet through that illness, the person was able to offer it up for a loved one or the person experienced a conversion of the heart that may not otherwise have happened. This means the suffering was not in vain even if the person did not experience a cure.

I have been thinking of the concept of redemptive suffering a bit since hearing that reminder. Jesus did not promise things would be easy or that things would stay the same. What he did promise is that he will never abandon us and what a terrific reminder of this through today being Pentecost Sunday! Come, Holy Spirit! No matter where we live or what we have done in our lives to separate us from the Lord...God wants us to come to Him and to rely on Him. Unlike city or state lines, God's grace knows no boundaries.  Sometimes the forgiveness we are seeking has to come from within ourselves.

Closing time 
Time for you to go out go out into the world. 
Closing time 
Turn the lights up over every boy and every girl. 
Closing time 
One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer. 
Closing time 
You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.
I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
Take me home
Closing time 
Time for you to go back to the places you will be from. 
Closing time 
This room won't be open 'til your brothers or you sisters come. 
So gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits 
I hope you have found a 
Friend.
Closing time 
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
Yeah, I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
Take me home
Closing time 
Time for you to go back to the places you will be from
I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
I know who I want to take me home. 
Take me home
Closing time 
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end