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Mercy Reigns


Message to my subscribers: I hit “publish” too soon on my draft of Mercy Reigns. I did erase it from the site but it still was delivered to your inbox. Please ignore that one. Here is the full post. ūüôā¬†

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Things have been very quiet on this blog recently.

Major life events were happening and things just felt too overwhelming.

Here is the short version: A couple of weeks ago, we had to close the doors to our business.

Over three years ago, we had entered into a partnership with a family member.  It turned out that our trust was horribly misplaced and we were betrayed.

We have lost our life savings, our investment, the college fund for our kids, the vast majority of our income, and we may lose our home. I can honestly say that we have experienced an unprecedented attack from the enemy as he has tried to destroy every aspect of our lives.

It has been heartbreaking.

It has been devastating.

It has been extremely scary.

The process of forgiveness was very  ugly and it has taken me the better part of a year. (And it is still a battle some days).

This journey has called us to walk by faith in a way that we have never had to do before.

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Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

1 ) I can trust my very good God. 

As speaker and writer Lysa Terkuerst said this past weekend when I saw her at a local women’s conference: “God is good and God is very good at being God.”

Amen to that. He is in full control and nothing takes Him by surprise.

One of the things I love most about Jesus is that He never pulls any punches. He made it very clear to all who would follow Him that “…In Me, you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world, you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! Take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world! I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you!” (John 16;33, Amplified).¬†

The older I get, the less surprised I am when trials hit.  Jesus told me to expect them.

It wasn’t until this brutal season that I realized how much of my life I have spent expecting things to be easy and smooth in this world.

They won’t be. This isn’t Heaven yet.

I no longer hold such illusions. I may have meltdowns from time to time, but I am tough. I have chosen to live through this as Jesus told me to.

I choose joy.
I offer my weakness for His strength.
I accept His gift of peace.
I ask Him everyday for a fresh infusion of His courage.
I am confident that I will see His goodness both in the midst of and at the end of this trial.
I have become the enemy’s worst nightmare. I will not stay down. Each time he hits, I may get knocked down and be black and blue, but I WILL get back up. Every. Single. Time.

I have heard it said that the enemy doesn’t mess with those he doesn’t consider to be a threat to his kingdom of darkness, so I am taking this present season as a badge of honor.

If he thinks I was a threat before, he hasn’t seen anything yet.

2) I MUST preach the gospel to myself every single day. 

This is the only way that I have been able to forgive.

It is crucial that I remember the enormous debt that I owed a holy God and without Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf, I would be utterly without hope. He loved me when I was His enemy and hated Him. ¬†Every one of my sins drove those nails into His flesh and without His grace and mercy, I would be forever cursed.

How can I then turn around and refuse to forgive the one who has sinned against me?

I ¬†can’t.

Jesus doesn’t give any of His followers that option. …even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive.”—(Colossians 3:13).

Forgiveness does NOT mean that everything is okay.
Forgiveness does NOT mean forgetting.
Forgiveness does NOT mean that things will go back to the way they used to be.
Forgiveness on my part does not necessarily mean that the offending party will realize error of their ways.
Forgiveness does NOT mean that you won’t still have ugly feelings.
Forgiveness is NOT something you can do on your own. It is supernatural.
Forgiveness DEMANDS that you cooperate with your powerful Savior and allow Him to forgive through you.
The process of forgiveness may feel like it will be the death of you. It isn’t. He will carry your through it.
Forgiveness is ultimately the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Because it will kill you otherwise.
Forgiveness is the way of peace.

3) His Word is my lifeline.

I have had to cling to the TRUTH of God’s Word with all of my strength.

As Charles Stanley once said, “I don’t care what I see, feel, hear, or think. THIS is what God’s Word says.”

When my world felt like it was collapsing all around me and spinning out of control, His Word was my anchor.

He has given me promises to hold onto during this time and I have allowed Him to write those promises deep into my heart. They are and always will be a part of me.

So rather than face each day with dread, I look forward with a sense of expectation to see what He will do. When fear threatens to overwhelm me, I review those promises and His peace floods my soul.

I have several devotionals that I read every morning and without fail, He speaks to me through them and I have fresh hope to face another uncertain day.

4) He truly is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider.

We have seen Him provide in miraculous ways for our needs time and time again.

I did a fantastic Bible study by Dr. Tony Evans last fall called¬†The Names Of God.¬† He said something that I will never forget: “God Himself is your Source. Everything else is just a resource. “

Our store was simply a resource. We were not ultimately dependent on it because Jesus is our Source and He has promised to provide for our every need. His resources are infinite so we need never worry that He won’t come through. He will. Every time.

At this particular moment, things look quite scary but we are choosing to rest and rehearse. We are resting in His promises and in His character and we are actively rehearsing the myriad of ways that He has been faithful to respond to our fervent prayers in the past.

5) Prayer is a powerful weapon.

We are incredibly blessed to have amazing friends who faithfully pray for us. (You know who you are and we love you dearly!).

We simply flat out cannot make it without prayer.

Sometimes, when things are dark and you are exhausted and feel like you can’t even pray anymore, just knowing that there are others who are willing to stand in the gap for you is an amazing gift.

Prayer moves the heart of our God. He is not unaffected by our pain. His Word tells us that He is deeply touched by our cries and moved by our prayers. He sees every tear that falls and He responds. 

I remember a Bible teacher once saying that when we combine our prayers with God’s Word, it is like dynamite. I have found that to be true. It has been the ¬†adventure of my life to watch and experience how He answers prayer.

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Those are just a few of the lessons I have learned so far. I will be writing about many more in posts to come.

This morning at church, we sang “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).” One line in that song really touched my heart. It says this: ”¬†And like a flood, His mercy reigns/ unending love, amazing. grace.”

I had tears in my eyes as I sang those words because I realized that even through all the pain of the past year, it has been true:

His mercy reigns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Singing Of The Birds


Photo credit: stevecreek.com

It has been a long, dark, brutal winter in my part of the world this year.

The view out any window in New England is a world of  endless white, the promise of spring seemingly buried forever.

Last week, I met a dear friend for lunch. She asked about the latest on the ongoing trial that my family has been enduring for quite awhile now.

After I filled her in, she smiled wide and said, “Remember, spring is coming!” She reminded me of one of my favorite Scriptures, Song of Solomon 2:10-12, which speaks of the coming of spring and a time of great hope.

That Scripture stayed with me over the next couple of days, so it sprang immediately to my mind like the sun bursting through a cloudy day the moment that I encountered the singing birds.

It was well below zero that morning. The night before, the wind had blown and howled with hurricane- force velocity but the dawn had ushered in a blessed calm and the winds were mercifully stilled.

The instant I opened my eyes, I could hear the birds.

I immediately got up and followed their sweet sound, marveling that even though the earth was locked into sub-zero temperatures, there could be birds singing!

And there they were: two small fluffy birds perched on the bare branches right outside our window. I walked right up to the pane and could see them in great detail. Their little black eyes burned brightly and their brown and black feathers looked they they would be soft to the touch. But it was their singing that completely captivated me. They sat on those branches for probably a solid minute, their voices mingling in what was to me a beautiful symphony. I smiled with delight and wished they would stay all day. I had never before seen birds in that particular location.

All too soon, they flew away and took their lovely music with them.

But in their place, the Scripture my friend had shared with me rang out loud can clear: “Arise My love, My beautiful one, and come away! For behold,¬†the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth,¬†the time of the singing of the birds has come.”¬†

The great Creator God who controls all things had sent my winter-weary soul a message that morning through those two dark-eyed juncos: Winter will soon be over. Spring is on its way. Hope lives. There is always still a song.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers‚ÄĒ
That perches in the soul‚ÄĒ
And sings the tune without the words‚ÄĒ
And never stops ‚ÄĒ at all….
~Emily Dickinson, c.1861

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And Now For Something Completely Different…


Earlier today, I came across a pile of old photos and spent an absolutely delightful time walking down memory lane.

This photo in particular stood out to me and caused me to laugh out loud:

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That is me on the right and my best friend Tracy on the left.

The year was 1987 and the event was my brother’s high school graduation party.

As always, I am documenting everything. From the moment I received my first Fisher Price camera as a kid (does anyone else remember these?!)

to a Polaroid I received as a young teenager, to the GIANT video camera my parents gave me when I was in my 20s, I was forever capturing moments with a camera. (still am).

Let’s note a few things about this photo, shall we?

* I was so¬†skinny! Although at that point in time, I probably thought I was fat, as girls are prone to do. Totally insane. I don’t imagine that I will ever see the number 110 on a scale again in my life.

*Can we take a minute to appreciate the fabulous¬†80’s hair? A mullet at its finest, I tell you!

Speaking of mullets, I simply must digress for a moment to present you with a visual tour of the fact that in my youth, I apparently loved mullets. Observe:

Nevermind the mullet: what in the world am I wearing?!

Nevermind the mullet: what in the world am I wearing?!

Here I am in all my mullet glory with some younger cousins.

Here I am in all my mullet glory with some younger cousins.

Can you imagine that I must have thought that that looked good?!

Can you imagine that I must have thought that that looked good?!

Tragic, isn’t it? I think we can all agree that the mullet should never, ever return.

*Notice the boom box. That was the newest thing because it was so¬†small! When I showed this to my daughter, she laughed out loud while holding her tiny iPod in her hand. And it was playing a¬†cassette tape. I had spent many an hour hunched over Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 40 to make the perfect graduation party mix tape. That tape was filled with the vocal stylings of The Bangles, Heart, Bob Seger, ¬†Bon Jovi, Huey Lewis and the News, Michael Jackson, Springsteen, etc. The soundtrack of my youth that fills me with happiness for a time when life was easy ¬†carefree, bright and fun. (Those same songs are all on my iPod today. 80’s music makes me all kinds of happy).

*Tracy was content to follow me around all day holding that boom box so that my video would have the perfect soundtrack. I can be heard several times telling her to do this or that.

I was so bossy.

(Some who know me and are reading this are no doubt saying, “Was?”)¬†

Moving on…

Tracy was an incredibly sweet person. She was my best friend since we were five years old all the way until her death in 1990. I still think of her all the time and sometimes she appears in my dreams. In those few seconds that we all have between first awakening from a dream and coming to full consciousness, I am smiling and ready to reach for the phone to call her.

And then I remember that she is gone and the familiar sadness settles over my heart.

This year, I will turn 50 in March and she would have been 50 in July.

I have gray hairs and crows feet. I will celebrate my 23rd wedding anniversary this year.

She is forever 25 and blonde, a bride of only 8 months.

I miss her so much.

*That sun-drenched, laughter-filled  day turned out to be one of my happiest and that very video is one of my absolute treasures. My videocamera caught many moments of fun and silliness, (including my brother getting a cream pie smashed in his face), and when I watch, I can still see those who have left us laughing, talking, celebrating. A day that is long  gone, but forever captured.

I only had a few still photos from the day:

My late cousin David and me

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Tracy and me

Tracy and me

The last scene of the video is everyone at the entire party dancing to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. Every single time I watch it, it brings both laughter and tears. If only life could be so carefree and full of joy all the time.

Pick up your camera or your phone and capture some photos and video of your loved ones today.

“We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it’s too late.”—Marie Ray

 

 

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A Single Candle


It has been two weeks since I heard a snippet of his story on NPR and I cannot get the word picture he painted out of my mind.

photo credit: patriotguy

A holocaust survivor from Poland was telling his story on NPR as my husband and I ran errands.

In a voice that was both tremulous and tinged with steel, he described his wedding day. He had married his bride in a church lit only with one candle as the bombs fell on their city.

It was at that point that Doug and I arrived at our destination and we exited the car, never to hear the rest of his story.

How I wish I had listened to the program in its entirety! I never even got his name.

In the weeks since, the image of that wedding has continually played on the edges of my mind. How old were they? How did they meet? What made them get married at such a perilous time? How many guests, if any, were in attendance? How long did their marriage last?

Imagine the intense emotion of such a wedding day.

Love and and joy mixed with fear? Perhaps tears of both happiness at having found love and sadness at the reality of war that threatened to take it all away in a heartbeat?

Most of all, I love the glorious defiance of that  moment in time.

Amidst the ravages of a world torn by the ugliness of war, love was triumphing in that church.

The light of that single candle was piercing the darkness.

No matter how brutal and awful this world  can be,  love is always stronger than hate.

Set me like a seal upon your heart…for love is a as strong as death…it flashes fire, a most vehement flame, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. —Song of Songs 8:6-7

Even the smallest light  pierces and overcomes the darkness.

Hope is more powerful than despair.

Bravery conquers fear.

Love always wins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Angel Named Mike


Our pastor’s words at the end of the church service struck fear into my heart.

“There is freezing rain out there and it seems to be icy. Please be careful going home, everybody.”

I live in the mountains of northern New England. I am well acquainted with winter but I really have had enough of it.

Driving in snow is bad enough but ice absolutely terrifies me.

Things didn’t look good when my mom and I exited the church and her car was completely encased in ice. Why we didn’t just turn around and go back into the comfy, warm church to wait it out, I’ll never know.

We took a million baby steps to the car and sat there for a good ten minutes until the defroster melted the ice so she could see to drive. She insisted on driving because she was concerned about my blood pressure. I have only had two accidents and they both involved ice. That feeling of having no control over my vehicle was terrifying and it still haunts me.

We started out very slowly and made the decision to take the road that runs along the lake rather than risk the main road where people go much too fast under any conditions.

All was fine until we rounded the corner and the lake came into view. Suddenly, the road was like a skating rink and all control was lost. The car started to spin and slide from one end of the road to the other.

To our horror, we began to hurtle toward the boat launch. Miraculously, we came to a sudden stop right before we would have slid down the boat launch into the lake! We also narrowly missed hitting a parked truck.

It took several minutes until Mom felt okay to put the car into gear and keep going. We did fine on the flat part of the road but trying to get enough traction to get up the fairly steep  hill that would lead us toward home was another matter altogether. Her tires spun and we began to slide backward down the hill.

Mom valiantly tried to back the car into a driveway but couldn’t do it. So, she attempted to pull into a driveway across the street, sliding all the way. The car ¬†finally came to a stop, half on the sidewalk and half into the driveway.

Our hearts were pounding right through our chests and we tried to catch our breath now that we were stopped and in a relatively safe place.

If you are ever in a crisis situation, you would want my mom  there. She remains calm and is the picture of efficiency.

The person you do NOT want with you if you are in a crisis situation is me.

I was shaking. I was crying. I was a mess.

I called my husband (who didn’t feel well enough to attend church this morning) to tell him what had happened. He tried in vain to get me to calm down and finally told me he was going to call the police and report that we were stranded and get back to us.

I just felt so helpless so I started to pray. “Jesus, please take care of us and get us safely home.” We were literally less than five minutes from home but it seemed like miles.

No sooner had I finished that prayer when a man walked (slid) up to our car. He was around 60 years old, had salt and pepper hair, and a wide smile. He explained that his name was Mike and he lived across the street. He had seen our troubles and walked over to see if we were okay.

I couldn’t believe I was meeting the man who I had disparaged for the past 7 years that we have lived here.

You see, he owns a junkyard.  There are a lot of No Trespassing signs everywhere as well as a fierce looking German Shepherd standing guard. His house/business is on my path when I walk into town and I have always wondered who lived there, thinking what a shame it was that this eyesore is located in such an otherwise pretty area.

And now here he was right in front of me, nice as can be.

Seemingly unbothered by the freezing rain, he stayed with us for the next hour, chatting amicably, spinning lots of stories, and doing a wonderful job of taking our minds off our situation.

He shared his life story which has been filled with hardships; yet he remains a cheerful person who is willing to lend a helping hand to those in need when he can. He is a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, fiercely independent and occasionally some salty language slipped through.

As I listened to his stories, I could feel my heart rate return to normal and my breathing came much easier.

At one point, he suggested that Mom pull up further into the driveway so any other out-of-control cars would not hit us.

Not even 15 minutes later, a truck that was coming down the road too fast lost control on the ice, hit the back of a car  just a little further up the road that had gone into a ditch, and slid crazily all the way down the hill  finally coming to a stop right where our car had been!

He would have certainly hit us and since he was traveling at a pretty good speed, I shudder to think of the damage that we were spared.

Eventually, a salt truck came by to treat the roads. Mike informed us that he thought we would be okay to  take one more run at the hill.

Then he saw the looks on both of our faces.

“Would you feel better if I drove the car up the hill for you?” He asked. “My nephew just came over and he can follow us and give me a ride back down the hill.”

Mom gratefully accepted his invitation and he helped her across the car and settled her into the passenger side with utmost gentleness.

He drove with ease to the top of the hill and took another look at my mom, who was white as a sheet by this time at the thought of getting back behind the wheel.

“You know what? I’m just going to go ahead and drive you lovely ladies home,” he announced, motioning his nephew to follow him. We only lived another half a mile away. He delivered us right to our front door.

“What can we do to thank you?” I asked as I shook his hand.

“Not a thing!” he waved his hand dismissively. “Just say a prayer for me the next time you go to church. I was happy to help.”

He looked at my mom and smiled. “She reminds me of my mama, God rest her soul, and I would have wanted someone to help my mama if she was in this same situation.”

With a cheerful wave goodbye, he climbed into his nephew’s SUV and off they went.

Jesus answered our prayers by sending us an unlikely angel in the form of Mike.

Sometimes He answers our prayers in the strangest of ways, but they are nonetheless beautiful.

We will be forever grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Broadway Revue


This past weekend, our daughter participated in “100 Years Of Broadway” at her high school.

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She had never done anything like this before and wanted to surprise us (which she certainly did).

She has always been very shy about singing in front of us. The only time we have ever heard her sing is when she is in the shower. We were watching TV one night when a most heavenly sound floated downstairs. I muted the TV and we listened, spellbound to the clear, beautiful voice coming from above. I even went to stand outside the bathroom door so I could hear better.

The haunting, gorgeous sound literally brought tears to my eyes.

We heaped praise on Julia when she came  downstairs but she was so embarrassed that we let it go. She has never been one to seek the spotlight.

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So imagine our surprise when she invited us to opening night to watch her perform!

She had decided that since this is her senior year, she would go for it and try something she had never done before.

Her solo was “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” with another cast member.

She was a revelation.

Broadway-0121
Broadway-0125
Broadway-0132
Broadway-0140She was sassy.

She was bold.

She was fearless.

Her voice soared through the auditorium and we were amazed.

Later, she told us that person after person went through the cast line and said “I had NO idea that you could sing!”

Julia had broken out of her comfort zone and it was a beautiful thing to behold.

And as I watched her receiving praise, it reminded me not to sell anyone short, as we have no idea what talent might be lying dormant that will leave us stunned with wonder when it is finally revealed.

Let’s never think that we know all there is to know about our loved ones. There is always more to discover if we are willing to see, to listen, to ask.

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I experienced so many emotions during the show.

“Send In The Clowns” had me stifling laughter. Several decades ago, my family and I attended my cousin Bobby’s wedding. As soon as we opened up the program, my dad and I burst out laughing, right there in the pew. There it was, right before the processional: “Send In The Clowns.”¬†

This struck us as so hysterically funny that we could not contain ourselves. The harder we tried to stifle the laughter, the more we failed until we were red-faced and helpless to stop the mirthful tears.

“Stop it!” my mom hissed, mortified by our shenanigans.

By the time the bride walked down the aisle, we had managed to compose ourselves. But I can never hear that song without a smile breaking across my face.

“Try To Remember” brought a sweet ache to my heart. That was one of my dad’s favorite songs and I have many memories of him singing it.

And there was the joy of all those classic Broadway songs that had toes tapping and hands clapping. A true feel-good evening was had by all and the applause was prolonged and enthusiastic for these talented kids.

 

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Broadway-0269  Broadway-0351-2Two days later, Julia and I were driving in the car talking about the show.

She mentioned that she loved the song “Try To Remember.”

I told her that that was one of her grandad’s favorite songs. Then I mentioned that she must have inherited her amazing singing voice from him. (He was the only member of our family who could sing).

“I remember him singing all the time,” she said wistfully.

Julia was only 5 years old when her beloved grandad died so I’ve never been sure how much she remembers of the man who adored her.

I love that music still binds them together across the years and that a part of him still lives on in her.

 

 

 

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Think Before You Speak


One of my Facebook friends posted something poignant this morning.

She showed a photo of her son walking toward his plane on his way to basic training. He will be gone for 7 months and she wrote about how much she would miss him and that the tears were plentiful.

I got a bit misty-eyed reading her post and left a supportive comment.

My son just left yesterday to head back to college and the ache is real.

Josh-s Luggage-0005It was with great sadness that I read a comment one her friends left after mine.

It said, “Time to cut the apron strings.”

Those words struck me as unnecessary and cold.

Why in the world do we always feel like we have to give advice?

Why can’t we just let people feel what they feel, sit ¬†quietly beside them, offer words of encouragement, or just say, “I’m sorry.” and leave it at that?

Yes, as moms, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. We raise our kids to be self-sufficient and independent, fully knowing that there will come a day when they leave the nest to begin to live their own story. That is good and it is right.

However…the pain of them leaving is still very real. There may be regret over things done or things left undone. There may be sadness over how fast the time went and a longing for the days when they were young and you were their whole world. The quiet in the home may seem deafening at times. There may be concern about some of the choices the kids will make, driving us to our knees in fervent prayer. There may be that wish for the time to say just one more thing, give one more piece of advice, to experience one more hug.

There is nothing wrong with that!

It is not a place we want to stay indefinitely, of course, but for crying out loud let a mama be honest about the fact that she is going to miss her boy!

Let’s not be so quick to put in our two cents the next time someone shares their feelings with us. If your advice is wanted, it will be requested.

In the meantime, just give them the dignity of letting them feel what they feel and extend the beauty of grace in the midst of their struggle.

Then  your corner of the world will be a kinder place.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Moment In Time


This photo makes me all kinds of happy.

Mom and Josh-0005-3My son goes back to college tomorrow after a wonderful holiday break.

After dinner, he turned to my mom and said, “Will you rub my head for awhile?”

Ever since Josh was born, he and my mom have shared a very special bond. She rubbed his head from the time he was a toddler and he never outgrew it.

The fact that he is a college freshman and will be 19 years old in less than three months matters not at all. The unconditional  love they share is a beautiful thing and I was so grateful that I could capture this moment in time.

My mom’s favorite role in life is that of grandma. And she is a stellar one. (I love that she was even wearing her favorite “Grandma” sweatshirt. I couldn’t have planned it any better!).

Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Photographs capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

That is why I love what I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Many Faces Of Buddy


Ten years ago, we got a puppy named Buddy.

He is a Bichon Frise and he was 5 pounds of furry, white cuteness.

Buddy0000

He was playful, fun, sweet-natured, and energetic. He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but we all love him.

All of us except my husband, who tolerates Buddy at best.

Guess who Buddy loves more than anyone in the world?

My husband.

itsbuddy!0000

As cute as he is, Buddy can be temperamental. When we are gone for longer than Buddy would like, he leaves us little “presents” as a sign of his displeasure.

Every morning without fail, he picks up his favorite toy, a blue rubber barbell, and walks all around the house whining loudly as if he has lost his best friend. This goes on for at least ten solid minutes.

The first time we left for a vacation, we innocently packed our bags and left them in the foyer to load into the car in the morning. Buddy promptly took one look at the luggage, somehow knew that that meant that we were leaving, and had a nervous breakdown. He drooled copiously. He vomited. He tried to attach himself to one of us, any of us, so that he would not be left behind. We assumed he would be fine once we left.

My brother (who was watching Buddy for us) called two days later, sounding exhausted. Buddy was such a nervous wreck that Jeff had barely gotten any sleep. Buddy was refusing to eat or drink. He was not sleeping. So, Jeff was forced to take him to the emergency vet ER, where they had to hook Buddy up to IVs to hydrate him and prescribe tranquilizers so he would sleep.

(After getting the bill, it was my husband’s turn to have a nervous breakdown).

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When we lived in Florida, my brother thought that Buddy might enjoy running on one of the beaches that welcomed dogs. He was absolutely terrified of the sand and ended up vomiting everywhere…including all over Jeff’s truck.

Buddy never went back to the beach.

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Buddy is wearing a cone here because in a fit of neurosis, he would not stop licking his paw, and all the fur was gone. This was our only remedy. (Well, that and some more prescribed tranquilizers).

Buddy always slept with our son until he went off to college. We assumed that he would then be happy to sleep with our daughter.

Not so.

Buddy whined. Buddy scratched at the door.  At one point, Julia left her door open  and Buddy made a beeline for our room, only to be returned to his rightful place. He sulked.

Finally, one night, my daughter appeared at our bedroom door, clutching the white furball, declaring that she was desperate for sleep and could we please let Buddy sleep with us from now on?

We reluctantly agreed.

We haven’t had a good night’s sleep since.

Every single night, Buddy leaps into our bed and proceeds to lick Doug’s face and wag his tail, so delighted to be with his beloved. The more Doug protests, the closer Buddy tries to get to him. He literally just sits there and looks lovingly at Doug, completely obliviousness to the hostility. Doug’s very existence seems to be his reason for living.

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Despite being only 20 pounds, Buddy emits the heat of a furnace. He also tends to sleep sideways, taking up a large portion of a queen size bed. I have woken up more than once clutching the very edge of the mattress while Buddy snoozes away, blissfully unaware of the discomfort he is causing.

He also seems to think that my bright orange earplugs ( that I have to wear in order to continue to sleep in the same room with a husband who snores) are some kind of tasty snack. He literally stalks them. I will find him at various times throughout the day on my side of the bed, straining to reach them on my nightstand, then looking extremely guilty when he realizes he has been caught. Every other week or so, I forget to move them and discover they have vanished when it’s time to go to bed.

Still, with all his neuroses and ridiculousness, I adore this dog.

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This afternoon, Julia decided to give Buddy a good brushing, which  is his second greatest love.

I grabbed my camera and decided to capture those moments. I swear, it was as if Buddy saw the camera and started posing (It is too bad that the groomer left his ears so long, which gave him an unfortunately girly look).

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Buddy-0006See? He is ridiculous, but I love him.

I posted these photos on Facebook and one of my friends wrote, “I hope he’s doing great. He sure is cute.”

My response: “Buddy is 10. Bichons can live to be 20. Doug is full of despair. I, however, love him.”

That about says it all.

 

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A Great Start!


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I had the chance to spend this New Year’s Day at a party with lots of good friends at a home by the lake. I am sure it would have been lovely and I would have had a great time.

However, I decided to stay home with my family instead and welcome in the new year with the people I love most in this world.

That was definitely the best decision.

Sometimes the most magical times happen most unexpectedly and your heart feels like it is going to burst from all the happy.

It began with my son and I meeting in the kitchen to get something to eat. We got to talking and before long, we were joined by my daughter, my mom, and my husband.

As the cold January sun shone through the kitchen windows, life in all its wondrous beauty happened.

My son sat on the kitchen counter while the rest of us sat around the table.

We talked about everything from Jesus to college life to politics to childhood memories, to church, to hopes and dreams to future grandchildren to sports.

There were serious moments but there was plenty of laughter. At one point, I literally had to wipe the tears from my eyes from giggling so hard.

How I treasure moments like this. They cannot be forced; they just happen organically and they are beautiful. It is one moment in time, never to be repeated.  Eventually, we all drifted off to our own pursuits, but the memories of that two and a half hours will always live on in my heart and bring a smile to my face.

Just as I was leaving the kitchen, I noticed that the light from the setting sun was particularly golden and it lit up my son’s profile in a lovely way. So I grabbed my camera (my New Year’s resolution is to not go anywhere without my camera) and started clicking away.

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Eventually, my mom joined her grandson on the counter and they both allowed me to continue to shoot.

Oh the laughter!

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And silly expressions…

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Josh & Mom-0030My heart sang as I clicked shutter after shutter.

Almost more than anything else, I LOVE capturing authentic moments as real life unfolds.

I have realized that I am most at home when  my hands are holding a camera  and my eye is looking through the lens,  constantly searching for beauty to capture in the midst of ordinary days.

I am so grateful for the gift of today.

A new year and a fresh journey beckon…and I am ready.

2015 is off to a beautiful start.

 

 

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