Archive | November 2012

Love That Transcends

Who really knows you? Your parents? A friend who grew up with you? When I say know you, I mean do they know our hearts and the way we feel and think? Do they know what makes us tick? Do they know how we will react to things and situations? They are the one person who knows all about us, but loves us anyway. A good girl-friend of mine once told me that we could call each other any time day or night and we would be there for each other. They are the one person in our life that we can be “real” with.

My grandmother once told me that I would have many acquaintances in my lifetime, but very few friends. She was right. I can count my true friends on one hand.

But when speaking about unconditional love in the truest sense, the one person in my life that I can say without a doubt showed me that was my grandmother. She was a short, but thin, Italian woman with the most beautiful olive skin and long dark hair that she always wore up in a French twist. She had the biggest, sweetest brown eyes that just radiated with love.

She was kind and slow to anger, but she knew what she believed in and what she did not believe in. Her faith was rock solid and it showed by the way she treated others. Most of all, she had the incredible ability to forgive and let things go.

I grew up in a very tumultuous household and she was the one person I could always count on. She was the only security I had. I knew that I could escape my life when I was at her house. When school would end each year, I would pack up my clothes and I would stay with her and my Grandfather during my summer break. It was a time of peace for me. I felt safe and cared about.

The environment at her house was completely different. I can still remember the way the clean, cool percale sheets felt on my skin as I climbed into bed for the night. The tic-tock of the grandfather clock in her kitchen would lull me to sleep.

At home nobody ever said my name, unless I was in trouble or they needed me to do something. I learned how to become very invisible to stay out of trouble and to avoid any kind of strife. However, when my Grandmother spoke to me, I seemed to matter. She was interested in my life and what I wanted to do, or who I wanted to become. She would say to me, “Dori Jo, you can do anything you set your mind to.” “Dori Jo, I love you.” “Dori Jo, don’t let anyone else define who you are.” To this day, I think there is power when you speak someone’s name to them. It exemplifies how important they are to you.

She showed me by example, that no matter what happens to us in life that we just have to keep pressing on. It’s what sets us apart from those that fail, and those that succeed.

I dreaded the days that the summer time would wind down to an end and I would then have to return home. But with each passing year, I would always leave with more of her love instilled inside of me. So when the bad times came, I could draw upon that strength. During my high school years, a lot of my decisions where based on the question; “Would I let my grandmother down if I did this?” It kept me straight and out of trouble. I never wanted to disappoint her.

It was very hard to see my grandmother get older. It didn’t seem possible that such a beautiful spirit could become so week, and the hands that once brushed my hair as a young girl, could be riddled with arthritis. It didn’t seem possible that the same woman who carried me through so much could forget my name.

I will never forget when I had to move away, and when I returned back into town I had to go see her in a nursing home. She didn’t even look the same. She looked so defeated and disoriented. My heart broke because I knew there was nothing I could do for her. I couldn’t change the deterioration of her body or of her mind. I couldn’t make her eat or give her back her will to live. I wanted her to recognize me and talk to me about things in the past. I wanted her to tell me how proud she was of me. I wanted her to know just how much I loved her. I wanted her to remember how I would tell her every day and that I loved her just as much this day, as I did any other day. As I held her hand I kissed her forehead and told her, “Grandma, I love you so much,” yet nothing come back to me but an empty stare from her beautiful brown eyes. The silence was deafening to my heart.

I didn’t want to leave that room, but I couldn’t bear to see her that way. I didn’t want to walk away from her down that long hallway to the door that led outside. I knew in my heart of hearts that once I pushed that glass door open to the outside, I would never see her again.

I forced myself not to look back at her, and almost as though in slow motion, as I put my hand on the door to leave, I could hear her small sweet voice calling out to me…” I love you Dori Jo.”

Although our body and our minds may fail us, I believe that within us lies the greatest gift of all, that can never fail, and that is love.

This entry was posted on November 30, 2012. 1 Comment

Thankful

I love Thanksgiving more than any other holiday. It’s not about what someone is going to buy us.  It’s all about taking note of what or whom we are grateful for in our lives.  It’s a time to really take stock of what really matters.  It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about all the things that have gone wrong or all the things that we wish we could have or achieve.

I have been trying very hard to change that way of thinking.  Every time I have a negative thought pop into my head I try to replace it with something positive.  This takes practice.  I work in a doctor’s office and every day I see someone who is sick or ailing with something and I think to myself how blessed I am to be healthy. I am not saying this to brag, but to humble myself because I know things can change in an instant and I want to appreciate what I have, when I have it.   I walk past people in wheel chairs or people who can barely walk and I think to myself: Thank you God for giving me these healthy legs to walk to the mail box.  Thank you Lord for giving me ears and hands that still work well so that I can perform my job each day to the best of my ability.

Noticing the little things in each day reminds me that He is alive all around us if we just take our blinders off to really look for Him. You will be amazed at what you will see if you are more aware of your surroundings and what people are doing or are saying.

What do you think you would notice if you put your phone down, shut off your television or went for a walk?  What would remind you of something that you are thankful for?  Try it!

I am thankful for the smell of the fresh crisp air on a fall day.

I am thankful for the sound of my children laughing….there is no better sound.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head when there are many who do not.

I am thankful that my coworkers smile at me each day.  It makes my day better and more tolerable.

I am thankful for each sunset that I see in this North Carolina sky. I have always said that God is the best artist.  No one can paint a picture better that what He creates.

I am thankful that I have friends who care for me.

Those are just a few things but I challenge you to make a list of the things that you are thankful for and tape it up to your bathroom mirror where you can see it at the beginning of each day.  You will be amazed at how life doesn’t seem so bad if you remind yourself each day of all the blessings we really do have.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Touch Me

I have three children and it amazes me how they are all so different in many ways.  I remember my oldest daughter who is 19 years old now.  Once she was able to walk, anytime I would try to snuggle with her or hold her, she would stiffen up and aggressively wiggle her body out from my arms.  I would secretly wonder why she was like that.  I think I needed to hold on to her more than she wanted to be held.  She was perfectly happy though so I let her be.

Then my second daughter was completely different. I pretty much carried her on my hip until she was four years old.  I remember my then mother-n-law telling me that I needed to put her down or she would never walk.  I cherished each day and the fact that she liked the comfort of my arms.  I knew that eventually she would be grown and I would miss those days.

Then there is my son.  He’s a little bit of everything but he has a kind heart and he always makes me feel cared about.  As they have gotten older, of course any kind of hug in public is taboo.  I don’t mind because I remember being that way with my parents as well. It’s a teenager “thing” I guess.

There is a book I once read called “The Five Love Languages” written by Gary Chapman. It explains that on some level we all have certain things about us that we want or need in order to feel loved or appreciated.  If you break it down, most of us can be categorized down to one or two of these languages.  The thought is that we tend to treat others the way we want to be treated. If we observe how someone treats us, it is a clue to what their love language is.  For instance if your spouse or significant other is always giving you gifts, maybe that is a clue that they themselves love to get gifts.

Here are the languages:

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gifts
  4. Physical Touch
  5. Words of Affirmation

I think that over time, our languages change depending on our life experiences or just our level of maturity as well.  When I was young and in my first marriage I admit now, that I needed a lot of quality time because I had grown up in a home that I felt invisible in and I needed that to somehow make me feel like I mattered.  Now that I’m older I feel almost smothered by the thought of having to spend so much time with someone because I have been so independent for so long now.

However, no matter how long I have been independent or confident in who I am, the thing I miss the most is touch.  I am wired to want it. I do not recall any memory of my mom hugging me or saying that she loved me.  Physical touch is something that I seem to need at the deepest level. There is something about someone hugging me that touches something deep within me.  I’m not talking about a hug from a stranger, because that can just be creepy!  I mean a hug or a touch from someone who knows me, and knows my heart.  Maybe I like this person as a good friend or maybe I might like them as more than a friend.  Our hands can give so much when we use them to share how much we care about someone. Our hands can carry the power to end an argument or convey our love for someone in one moment if we use them in love.

A hug or a touch makes me feel cared about and protected because there are days when I feel like I am alone and there is nobody here to protect me, from whatever it is that I am worried about.  I am getting older and I don’t want to be alone the rest of my life.  I long to give someone everything I have in this heart of mine, which as an adult who has experienced a lot includes:

  1. Trust– If we love someone, trust is the number one element that allows the other person to be who they are and it allows them to live life to the fullest and maybe, just maybe it makes them love us more because we are saying to them:“ I know you love me. Now go have fun because I know it is me that you will come home to.”
  2. My heart– Once I love someone, nobody can divert my attention or make me want something different than what I have already been blessed with.  Nobody is perfect and I learned a long time ago that I am not going to make somebody change who they are.
  3. Confidence– That I can spend a day by myself without worrying everything is going to fall apart if I don’t spend each moment with you.
  4. Laughter– because life is short and things can change in a moment.  It is good to laugh.  It is essential.
  5. Touch– because without it, I keep the love that I was meant to give away to myself and what good does that do?

So I remember the days when my children were young and I used my hands to nurture them or comfort them when they needed me.  Now when my children surprise me with a hug out of the blue, or when someone I care deeply for touches me or wraps their arms around me in a protective way, my heart smiles and I am reminded of how much I love them and how much I am loved in return.

This entry was posted on November 12, 2012. 5 Comments

Everything Changes

In the cold of winter there was a tree that I had been parking in front of each morning as I arrived at work.  There was a time when that tree was bare and brittle.  It had no leaves and nothing about it looked appealing or inviting.  It offered no comfort or shelter for the birds.  I often felt like that tree. Nothing in my life seemed to be going as it should.  I felt like so much had been stripped away from me that I had nothing to offer.  I couldn’t comfort anyone because I myself could not be comforted.  I couldn’t offer anyone the shelter of my love because I didn’t feel taken care of or loved myself. Somehow parking in front of that tree each day gave me some sort of comfort.  I could relate to it every time I looked at it.  I would actually get mad if someone parked in “my” spot in front of this tree!  After all I considered it my tree, and I’d cry if I wanted to!  Ecclesiastes 3: 4 says that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I would look at the tree and tell myself that I would only allow myself to feel the way I did for a certain amount of time because I knew that God wanted a better life for me.  I just didn’t know how to do it.  Everything seemed overwhelming.  The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months.  However, as time passed, the tree started to look a little better. First it grew pretty pink flowers and as summer came it filled so full of bright green leaves that you could barely see the branches that they grew on.

I realized that like the tree, life changes. Nothing ever stays the same. Seasons come and go.  People come and go.   Heartaches come and go.  I could look at things differently, and focus on the good things in my life that God had given me.  By searching out the beauty around me, or in other people, my focus began to change.   Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t change, I began trying to notice any positive I could, even if it was the smallest of things.  Here are some examples:

I have three healthy children who love me.

I have a home of my own.

I have a car that starts every day.

I have a job.

I have friends who care about me.

I have a faith that carries me.

So, even though everything changes maybe we should just roll with those changes, knowing that somehow things tend to work out and there is always something good to focus on instead. I took a picture of the tree when it was full of leaves as a reminder that changes will come, but in the end I pray that  my life will be full because that’s the way I choose to see it.