Gathering Afterwards


No one tells you how different it will be.  And if they do, you probably won’t be able to wrap your head around it or believe them. I really didn’t realize the connection that my mother made for me and the rest of my extended family.  A connection that wasn’t so obvious to me at the time but is now upon our gathering together in her absence.

It was the way you didn’t want to leave when we had family gatherings.  Where sitting around her large oval dinner table with lots of food, laughing, and enjoying the antics of a cousin, niece, or nephew.  Or more than likely Mom saying something outlandish, flirting with an in-law, or encouraging a little one to crawl up in her lap.

I can’t really describe it to you.

We’ve had a couple of gatherings since her passing one year ago and it’s not the same.

Even though she may not have been the instigator of the memory made or the antic occurring it was still relevant to the connection of her.  We still laugh together, eat together, and celebrate family moments but it’s not the same.

To be honest, my biggest fear is losing connection with my siblings.  Not the love for one another but the gift that was given to us through being raised together.

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I once had a friend that knew us while growing up and then I didn’t see him for many years.  In conversation all those years later, he admitted that he was always impressed with the closeness/bond that our family had.  Primarily talking about my siblings, my mom, and myself.  I remember stating and thinking that I never felt we had that much of a closeness.  At least not any more than any other family I knew.  That observation from the outside made me feel lucky though. And with the death of both our parents it’s made me realize how true it is.

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Today as I remember that memory I celebrate the extended family that was given to me. The bond created in family isn’t always from joyous moments, dinners around the table, or cheering at ballgames together.  Sometimes it’s created by too much yelling and witnessing bad things or sleeping in a car periodically.  Sometimes it’s from just living in the house together with those that know what no one else knows.

Whatever creates the bond, it’s important to hold on to it.  There’s no bringing our mother back, but I have three people in my life that can remember her with me and who know what I’m talking about when I say I miss her.

Mother and I 2014

It will take all four of us to continue to nourish the bond/relationships and to be an example to our own children.  I pray daily for them and I look forward to the future of our family.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I

He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

God In My Pocket


 

The porch swing swayed slowly, the moon was bright and round, the country sounds of some of God’s creations were singing to me last night.  As I sat on the swing, pondering what lies ahead,  I prayed.

In my time of prayer I realized something that I already knew but recognizing it this night helped me to feel some calm.  God has power.  Power that created man, woman, animals, the sun and moon, and so much more.  Power that not only created things but can be loving or a wrath.

I think we tend to look at God as only a loving God most of the time.  One that is here to aid us, help us, fix us. And while He is here for us, He has great power to use at HIS discretion.

Power that can heal a terminal patient or give them peace in death.  Power that can save a child in danger or help them many years later to deal with the trauma inflicted on them.  Power to give us abilities to love, care for, protect, or teach others.  Power that no one else has.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every

In realizing this power I have come to find peace with letting go of a particular situation that ultimately I have had no power over.  One that God created.  One that God will tend to. One that God will be there for, no matter what the outcome is.  Even if those involved do not worship Him.  God is real and God has power.  He extends grace although we sin daily.

My own life has had some major hurts, superb joys, heartbreaking moments, and much love.  Whether I recognized or acknowledged it (or not) in the midst of ALL those times “God was in my pocket.”  He provides good and love and care, so even in the bad He is there to aid me with anything.  He provides the strength when I can no longer do it.

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I will still have bouts of worry and doubt.  I will still battle depression and probably become angry at times with Him. I will pray, I will ask for forgiveness, I will take the sacraments, and I will continue to try.

From this day forward I plan to do my best to remember, I can get through or I can rejoice even more  just because…….

I’VE GOT GOD IN MY POCKET!

 

Grace is a gift,

Julie

It’s Been Too Long – The Word


I’m back at spending time in God’s word daily.  I had been away for quite sometime.  The attempts were there to get back to it but it didn’t stick.  I have to admit when I spend some quiet time in God’s word in the morning it helps for me to be calm.  I’m back at actually writing my prayers out and making a short grateful list.  I can feel some of the darkness fall away bit by ever so small bit.  It’s only day 2 but I need to acknowledge the good things more often to retain them in my mind I’ve decided.

The devotion for today was fitting for my life as well.  Luke 8: 22-25 , do you know it? If not, click on it and take a gander.  It’s simple but boy did I need that reminder.  My storm has subsided at times but it’s still an ever present rain many days.  So, hearing this simple story of Jesus taking care of things and having faith was a gentle push to the thoughts I need to be having.

That even though our financial situation isn’t great, God will take care of us.  Although I can’t shake the darkness and the new medicine has some really yucky side effects when starting, it will be okay because no matter what He’s got my back.  That even though my faith has been shaken and I wasn’t the true follower I needed to be in the past couple years, HE STILL LOVES ME.  GOD FORGIVES.  He has always and will always have me my back.

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I know there will be days when I falter but I am given the opportunity to start again.  That’s all I can do.  Start again.

Pushing towards the light of grace but it’s freely given,

Julie

 

The Ugly Parts


You know that thing going around Facebook, the Love Your Spouse Challenge?  Well I was cringing every time I got onto Facebook because I figured one of my friends would nominate me eventually.  It happened.  I’m on day 3 by the way.  Until today I didn’t post anything gushy with the picture, just the facts of when it was taken.  In fact, I didn’t get real gushy today but it was more wordy and the truth.  It’s a start, right?

Anniversary Trip ARKANSAS

See a happy time.  I wanna go back. I loved that trip!

Oh sure.  I could have just not did it but then the facade of our marriage might be in jeopardy! The view of my life from the outlet of social media in danger!  Don’t act like you don’t think this way (on occasion).  We want others to think and believe that our lives are beautiful and picture worthy and that the ugly never enters.  It does.  The ugly makes it appearance and it brings you to your knees.  To the point of “get me outta here!”   Which in reality means get in my car, go for a long drive, and turn up some Aerosmith or Zac Brown Band or something of that nature.

Disclaimer here – I love my husband but it takes more than love to make a marriage work.  Divorce isn’t in our language so don’t go telling others our marriage is over please.   Just wanted that documented.

Struggling times, problem times, hiccup in the road times. Whatever you want to call them  – happen in marriage.  It’s the ugly truth and hiding it I suppose is the “norm”, sometimes I just wanna buck the norm!  Sometimes I don’t want to feel alone in this struggle after 13 years of marriage. The frustration.  The loneliness.  The anger.  The sadness.

I’m an expressive person where my husband is not. I don’t necessarily need to share my dirty laundry with the world. Or perhaps I do since I’m blogging here today.  Maybe I’m angry at the world because sharing your dirty laundry is frowned upon.  Then again that would make me a hypocrite cause when I see some of the things posted on Facebook I want to reach through the computer screen and smack the person that posted it!

Do I seem a little feisty today?  Yes I am but it’s milder than it was two days ago I promise. Perhaps snarky is a more accurate word.  I don’t want depression, marriage issues, struggles, and grief to be something that people shy away from when seeing it in others.  I don’t want to feel uncomfortable or have them uncomfortable.  But I am.

When a couple of friends have reached out, I now feel embarrassed and ashamed.  I feel like by now I should have it back together.  That I should be happy with the newer house, the healthy kids, the hard-working husband, the easy job I have, and so much more.

They’re right. I should.  This darkness won’t go away though.   The heaviness that I feel is not dissipating.  Although hearing God’s word yesterday did help.  Then again this morning reading and writing in my prayer journal.  It’s a start right?

Whether it’s depression or marriage issues or work issues or family issues hang on.  If you are struggling out there know you are not alone.  Others in this world are in the midst of something not so sweet and beautiful.  The point is to move forward.  Right now I feel like I’m stuck in a spot of mud but I know in the back of my mind I will get out.  I will move forward to a better day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in an hour.  I don’t know when but it’s coming.

I’m pushing to the light of grace.

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See the light in the corner?  It’s there and I’m heading for it. 

Julie

The Climb. The Example.The Trying.


Written prior to today.

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A few of our recent family outings have reminded me of how my lifestyle not only hinders my ability to enjoy things but my families as well.

I begin this post with that statement because on a recent trip where physical endurance was needed I struggled a great deal.  I struggled to the point of tears behind the sunglasses and the feeling of failure on my mind. All while being surrounded by many and in a beautiful setting.

STarting to go

Sure, I made it back to the top of that 3/4 mile steep dirt path but there were several stops and a lot of emotion.  Some would say, “you made it” or “the water fall was worth it or stop being negative”.  But you know, today, it’s just hard.  Almost too hard and loneliness is mixed into the realm of things.

Some days bring an emotional hardship and some bring physical.  Finding a balance is difficult when dealing with depression and lack of will power.  Yes there are days of goodness and solitude as well.

The part of that first statement about my mental and physical status affecting my family is what I want to address now.  I see the way my negative thoughts that shoot from my mouth make their way to my daughter’s ears.  When I’m not leading my daughter to be physically or mentally healthy she plays it out in front of me.  Keeping my husband and family from enjoying events due to my in-abilities  isn’t fun for them either.

I was thinking back to when things started to falter in this shell of a person God created.  The events leading up to this day. The changes from two or three years back made their way to my thoughts on this warm afternoon.

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It makes me uncomfortable to think of those things and even more so because I have not been stronger.  The fact that I have gotten to the weight I have, my depression isn’t kept at bay, and the realms of my daily life boggle me at times.

This creation of me, it isn’t at it’s best.  I’m not sure when it will reach a better place while on earth.  I can’t promise I will try today or tomorrow but I will try again.   I will walk the path and continue to find my way.

My hope is to reach a point of health and presence and balance.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

I’ve Been Itching….


Untitled designI’ve been itching to write on this blog.  I don’t know why but I miss it.  Okay I do know why.  I feel a freedom here that I do not feel on my other two blogs. Which is sort of odd because I know some that followed me here also follow me at Farming Grace Daily.  I’m a peculiar specimen I suppose. I even contemplated starting yet another blog and calling it Pushing Forward with Grace 2.0.  Is there a name for this type of thinking?

I am who I am.  A person, that at times is calm and cool and reflecting just what is acceptable in this thing called society.  While my inner self is fuming with emotions and wanting to burst out like a bull in a pen!  Yet, just existing on some days to make it from the time I raise my head from the pillow then lay it back down at nightfall.   I’m sure some of you can relate.

The last couple years I have found myself strong, in control, weak, alone, loved, forgotten, celebrated,  crushed, and so much more.  The curve balls that have been thrown into my daily living have sometimes hit me in the gut and others made me soar.

At the moment I’m just surviving.  That’s it.  I’m just here.  That’s how I feel.  I used to be one that went with my gut and trusted it, not so much anymore.  I used to be one to be decisive in my decision-making, now I falter with questions more than move forward.

I’m a thinker and that’s how I am wired.  It’s a positive and a negitive. I was once told by a boss and friend that my expections of myself were just that. A strength and a weakness.  I agree.  But it’s hard to shake a mentality that one has been raised with and lived with for 45 years.

So, perhaps I feel more comfortable writing about me over here because I can relate more to PUSHING forward with grace, verses FARMING grace daily.  When I think of farming I think of growing something and sharing it. (hence sharing grace with others)  In the past couple years, I don’t feel like I’ve been a very good farmer.  I know I haven’t given it nearly enough as I should have.  Pushing, in my mind makes me think of  working towards something.  I suppose I am struggling with that positive and negitive attribute of mine that I previously mentioned.

This is all the words I have for today.

Julie

 

I don’t plan to share these posts on social media.  I feel this is writing for myself, a theraputic way to move this through this journey, yet perhaps help another, or get insight from those outside my world.  God bless your day .

 

 

 

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#pfwg44thbirthday – The Finale!


If you aren’t aware of what #pfwg44thbirthday is, please take a moment to check out the links below.

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It’s a challenge that has been documented for my 44th birthday.  It’s kind of like a television series.  The finale for this season has arrived!  Grab your popcorn, your drink of choice, ice cream, or chocolate and check out the finale of #pfwg44thbirthday!  It turned out pretty awesome due to the help of some friends.

This finale begins with my Mother passing away in August of this year.  A group of some of my closest friends decided instead of giving flowers or monetary gifts as a memorial they would do something different.

Mother and I 2014

I must say this act of kindness has brought much to me personally than I can even put into words.  And along the way it has helped others a well, which is even better!

The ladies chose to hold an American Red Cross blood donation drive in honor of my Mother.  They chose the blood drive because they knew that donating blood was one of my #pfwg44thbirthday challenges for myself.  When they first told me about the plan I could feel my heart just burst and melt at the same time.

These ladies know me.  They get me.  They care about me.  They want to help others and they are really good at it.  The collaboration of these four ladies brought blood to those who are sick or dying, showed God’s love and kindness through each of them, brought strangers together, helped me exceed my goal of 44 blood donations, and honored my Mother’s life all at the same time.

LLL Gals

These friends and I know that they could not have done it without God’s grace and mercy and help.  We do not serve for our own recognition but for what God has placed within us. It’s only through Him that we are able to do these acts of kindness.

Each time myself or someone from the team  donated blood this past year, I have placed a red stone in a candle that another friend gave me.

Red stone display

I am grateful to each and everyone that chose to donate blood and help me on my journey.  Helping others is a key ingredient in bringing meaning to our lives and joy to others I believe.  I’m glad there are others that are willing to do things to bring those results.

Speaking of results, I’m sure you are interested to know where we ended up being.  I’m very excited to announce that we had 51 donations from December 26, 2014 to December 12, 2015!  We exceeded the goal by 7 donations!   WHOO HOO! Happy dance all around folks! This means if each donation helps saves 3 lives, a total of 153 lives were helped!  That is AWESOME!

I also spent the year writing handwritten letters and notes. I reached my goal of 44 this month. I hope to continue writing in 2016!

I am in the process of putting together another birthday challenge for my 45th year.  I will announce it in the near future on my new blog!  Here are some pictures from our great time donating blood!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

 

 

Only One Post


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Well folks it’s been fun in 2015 hasn’t it?  I mean we have laughed and shook heads in agreement with Honesty Days, touched base with God in the God’s Grace posts, and walked through grieving another death.

I hope that in my Music to my Ears posts you found yourself dancing while reading, enjoyed some awesome stories about adoption, but most of all I hope my writing inspired you.  Inspired you to do whatever God was leading you to do.  Whether it be through an act of kindness, pray with another, speak of His truth to others, or start a new adventure!  I’m so very glad you have joined me in every aspect of the journey.

I’ve written many times about connecting with others.  I know that between us is some sort of device, but I hope that my words have touched you in a way that has brought you joy.  Writing about my life experiences is a way for me to grow, help others, and deal with whatever is at hand.  I feel fortunate to be able to write in a blog setting.

Does this sound like a good bye?  Well,  don’t worry, I’m not. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on family, the holidays, and create a new space for us to meet.  I do have an upcoming very special post in December, just one.  Of course it has to do with #pfwg44thbirthday and you will see if I made my goals!

I pray that your Christmas season is a joyous one and that it holds the true meaning of it all.  Jesus Christ.  May you take time to watch the little ones play, sing, and be silly.  May you see the glimmer in your spouse’s/significant other’s eyes once again, and watch the adult children’s life unfold before you.  Hug and kiss the family too much and eat the good food that has been provided for you, and TAKE PICTURES!  Take moments to be generally kind to the clerk at the store, the elderly one, the ones less fortunate, and the ones alone this holiday season.

May we all encompass Christ’s love and share it too much!  God bless you and I will see you in a few weeks!

Grace is a gift,

Juli