Tuesday, December 31, 2019

An Audience of One

I have written and spoken in public about the fact that I do not make New Year's Resolutions.  It is something I have never done.  And I find myself on this New Year's Eve resolute to avoid doing so yet again. I feel that resolutions set people up for failure and disappointment. The reason is because most resolutions are Me Focused. Rather than a resolution that is Me Focused, consider all the ways that you can help and encourage others. And rather than doing it once or even twice, discover new ways that you can incorporate it into your life so that it becomes a habit. If a situation presents itself at any point throughout the year, act immediately to participate by giving of your time, your talents and your treasure. A heart change often takes place and then it will enable you to desire to help others, even when you feel you may have nothing to give.

My mother was a giver, a lover, an encourage-er, a pray-er.  We didn't have much when I was a child and at times, we relied heavily on the kindness of others. Food, vegetables, canned goods, sometimes even camp tuition being paid for or money for gas and insurance would be dropped off, and even left on our front porch or in our mail box without any fanfare.  When my mother knew who the kind person was that gifted us something, she would thank them and make a recycled card. She would also sit with them, hold their hands, and pray earnestly with them. For their marriage, for their children and sometimes grandchildren, for jobs, for deep heart hurts, for finances, for vehicles, and often for answers to prayer.  She accepted the gifts of kindness, the gift of friendship, and knew that what she could give in return, was her time, and her ability to pray.

When my mom prayed, it was never filled will fancy language. She was never out to impress anyone with her ability to pray or say beautiful words. She prayed for others, but prayed to an Audience of One.  She knew her gift was intercessory prayer. She had the ability to drop everything at a moment's notice and pray. Pray diligently, pray earnestly, and sometimes, until there wasn't anything left to pray for. Her prayers of Thanksgiving were often why people would even seek her out in the first place.  When ungratefulness or bitterness would settle into someone's heart, when hopelessness and despair permeated someone's life and took up residence, my mother knew it was time to kneel. She prayed with people. She cried with people. She modeled prayer for people who couldn't yet pray for themselves. She showed hurting, sorrow filled people how to be thankful, even when it hurt. She prayed through the ungratefulness and bitterness, against the hopelessness and despair. She prayed until it hurt less. Until sorrow became but a shadow and the Joy of the Lord was on full display.

My mother's gift was the gift of prayer.  And what a mighty gift that was. Today, I am so thankful for her example, her witness, and her ability as a parent to show me how important it is to give and also graciously receive.  And sometimes that gift, is the gift of prayer.

This New Year, I will be praying. For my friends, and family and neighbors. For the people who approach with tears in their eyes and are not yet able to verbalize their need.  I will hold them in an embrace, and pray for them quietly in their ear, so only they can hear.  I will share cups of coffee and share Truth and Pray.  My prayers, like my mother's, will not be eloquent or perfectly worded. But I will will continue praying, because I know those prayers are said, for an Audience of One.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Emily Dickinson lived a full life.  A life she desired. Maybe not the kind of existence that others would have sought out, but she was content. She wrote constantly and the majority of her relationships with others consisted of only correspondence. She lived a solitude adult life, often avoided people and began to decline visitors.  She loved her younger sister and her sister-in-law most, and spent the majority of her time in their company.  She had written over 1800 poems in her lifetime, yet less than a dozen were published while she was alive. At only 55 years of age, a kidney ailment claimed her life. It wasn't until 7 years after she passed away, that her younger sister, Lavinia, discovered and published a large volume of her work. Not until 1955, was a mostly unaltered collection of her poetry made available.

Her poetry is something that I have come to adore.  In high school, while at the Forest Lake library,  my mom pointed out her collection. She looked at it, pointed to it and made direct eye contact with me saying, "Read it. You will never be sorry."  Not only did I read it, I devoured it.  I didn't understand some of it,  yet other portions, I felt like I could have written myself.

I often come across the following quotes and they cause me to pause.

The brain is wider than the sky.

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.

Tell the truth, but tell it slant.

Forever is composed of nows.

I think the last one is my favorite. When I first read that quote all those years ago in high school, I wondered a lot about it.  I thought it was one of those quotes that would mean much more to me as I aged than it did to me at that moment.  I was right. It does.

I have learned how fleeting each and every moment really is.  That those times we enjoy, sometimes the moments, few and far between, are to be savored.  Whether they are spectacular or seemingly mundane, those moments only happen once.  I find the importance of taking a mental picture. Of committing the moments to memory. Memories that I hold dear, and treasure.

This Christmas was the quietest Christmas my husband and I and our kids have ever experienced. No running, no racing. No stressing. We went to the Christmas Eve service at church and came home to have a lovely, mostly already prepared dinner with my mother in law and her husband.  I had cooked all the sides the day before and only needed to set the table and my husband prepared a splendid main dish. Today, it was just the four of us. The kids opened presents and Josh made a great breakfast.  We read, watched the end of a Christmas movie and I even took a nap. We had a great afternoon family walk as it was almost 40 degrees. We enjoyed a taco dinner and then watched The Santa Clause. My kids and Josh enjoyed frosted brownies. All together wonderful. Peaceful.  We will celebrate with my family on New Year's Day.

The peaceful Christmas that we experienced has been committed to memory. The now is one of the little pieces that adds up to forever.  Times with family, not focusing on anything else. It makes me want to experience about 100 more of these peaceful Christmases. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

All Of It

I wonder sometimes what my children and my husband think I do each day.  If they wonder how many hours I spend with clients, how many hours I spend in transit, or even how much time I spend at home working on mundane tasks such as laundry and dishes and packing backpacks for the next day.  I wonder even if they view it as work. Because I am self employed, I am not accountable to anyone except for the clients that I schedule appointments with. I keep my own schedule and my days are my own.

Most days are actually filled with clients, writing and editing.  Sometimes a bit of housework for good measure.  But I have found that it is all work.  Don't get me wrong, work doesn't have a negative connotation to me.  Work is important, fulfilling and essential.  Work is something where I see results.  I complete important tasks and then I am able to see the fruits of my labor.  But work sometimes can also be all consuming.

I work a lot at night on my laptop.  I catch up on emails, respond to client questions, and research purchasing decisions for clients. I write a lot of short stories, edit other people's work and occasionally write a blog post.  I edit my own writing, other people's newsletters and even map out plans for future writing commissions and projects.  It is all work.

There are times when I have to work when my kids are still up and awake in the evening. Once I get them fed and settled and occupied, the work begins. I have had to shush my kids quite a few times, especially this week, because for some reason they often select the room that I am working in to sing entire scores from musicals or they decide that watching Star Wars at full volume is a appropriate.  And I am easily distracted.

Lily will ask, "What are you doing?"

To which I will reply, "I am conducting business."

She usually giggles at this response and says something like, "Business. So much business."

The other day, I couldn't figure out what was taking Lily so long to get ready.  She was upstairs and I had already called her 3 times. I hollered up and asked what she was doing. She shouts in return, " Business! I am conducting business!"

Really, anything that occupies our time can be business.  I may have pulled a child of mine aside at church this morning to "conduct some business".  AKA, that child needed to be disciplined in a public place.

My husband and I went out today to finish Christmas shopping, to the grocery store and out to lunch.  The kids stayed home. Sure, we could have brought them with, but wanted to spend some time together and get a last few small gifts for Zach.  We had business to attend to.

Josh and I are making an asserted effort to spend time together or at least in close proximity as much as possible.  (We both work a lot and have a lot of evening commitments.) This evening after I fed the kids, Josh and I sat down to play a few hands of cards.  The kids kept interrupting with additional food requests and questions about iPad passwords. I turned to my daughter and son and said, "Guys, your dad and I are conducting the business of playing cards. We will be with you in a bit."  They already think we are weird, so a statement such as this isn't surprising.

All of it really is business.

Excuse me.  I have more business to conduct this evening before putting the kids to bed.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Letter To That Girl

I had just turned 18 and was so excited to start my Freshman year of college at Crown in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota.  It was the fall of 1993, and I was looking forward to starting my life as an adult. I was majoring in vocal music performance and taking challenging Bible classes and enjoyed the freedom that campus life provided.  I went to school with my best friend and was making new friends from all across the country.  I didn't know what was in store with this new adventure,  but I knew that I was now in charge of making my own decisions and set out on an uncharted path.

All of these years later, I look back at this young woman who was all of 18, yet thought she possessed so much knowledge and wisdom. I see a girl whose smile was always painted in bright colors and who kissed a few too many expectant lips. I also see a girl who had a lot to learn.

A Letter To That Girl,

Girl, listen. And listen closely.  I am you, 26 years older, and dare I say wiser. I want you to know a few important truths that might make life a bit easier.

There will be young men and even older gentlemen who pay you too much attention too soon.  Walk away from all of them.  Except that first one.  That first important one, (you know who he is) is the one that will teach you about what love isn't and about what you should look for in a lasting relationship.  That older gentleman will also hold your hand like he means it.  Remember the warmth it brought and remember to always be the last one to let go.  Whether it is a handhold or an embrace, hold firm.  And when he tells you you were important to him and you will be missed, believe him.  Know that your presence made a difference, even though it was only for a short time.

Work hard at school and then at work. Never cut corners, always put your best foot forward and be the person others can count on.  Pay attention, take notes, commit everything you possibly can to memory.  Be on time, stay late and be an example for others.  I promise you, you will do well.  You will apply for jobs that you are unqualified for, but because of your conversational skills and confidence you will be given a chance. And you will succeed many times over.  Never doubt your abilities.

When you meet your future husband, remember that you are young and cover your relationship with a whole lot of grace. Love will hit you hard and fast and you will realize what true love is all about. Do not let your heartache over your own parent's divorce make you doubt your relationship.  Your parent's relationship failed, yours will not. You will grow up together. You will be each other's best friend and you will seek each other out for comfort and encouragement.  You will love your husband through many mountain highs and valley lows. But your love for each other will remain constant. Do not lose heart. Your desire to walk with the Lord as you walk side by side will be the focus in your marriage.

You will struggle with health issues and bizarre diagnoses. You will see many doctors. Some amazing, and some you will believe should have chosen a different profession.  Those few amazing ones will set you on the right path, find medications that will help you long term and perform surgeries that will fix your broken and failing body.  It will be anything but easy. You will suffer, but you will suffer well.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Remember, He is the author and perfecter of your faith.  And your faith and dependence will grow during these trials.

You will be blessed with two amazing kids, but it will not be on your own timeline. You will wait for children.  Do not let this waiting crush you.  Spend time with your husband and enjoy each other's company.  When they are born, you will feel ill equipped, because you are. Rely on your amazing mom and equally amazing mother-in-law. They will help you, love you and pray for you. Do not give up. Even when you feel completely depleted. Because the joy you will experience from being the mother to Zach and Lily, will overwhelm you.  What a treasure these kids are.  You will grow and mature as a parent and you will actually be the mom that others seek out for advice and prayer in parenting. (I know this is super hard to believe.  But it is true.)

These are all big picture pieces of advice. But there are also a few small things you need to know.

It is okay if a friend walks away.  Those friendships were only meant for a season. New friends will come into your life and you will hold them dear.

Hold his hand in public. Don't be afraid to tell him that you love him. Because at the time, you will.

Be the person that doesn't share secrets that were shared in confidence. You will become the woman that is often sought out because you know how to remain silent.

Write that book. Write all the books. Take every writing and editing gig that comes your way. Do it sooner than later.

Love your mom more even when she drives you crazy.  She won't live a long life and it is up to you and your sister to make the time that you have with her absolutely amazing.

Stop at every house that has Christmas lights.

Be willing to get caught.

Your work can wait until your children go to bed.

You don't need 16 bins of Christmas decorations.

Always carry a blanket in the trunk of your car. There will be impromptu picnics and downpours. There will be splendor. Let me repeat. Always carry a blanket in the trunk of your car.

If someone compliments a belonging, give it to them as a gift. You will have too many things. You will have all the things. You won't need most of them.

The perfect brand of jeans is from the Kohl's. Sonoma brand. You won't find them until you are 38. Buy 6 pairs. They will fit you perfectly and you will be able to buy them off the rack.  I know this sounds like a figment of my imagination, but believe me. You will try on every pair and never find a nicer pair of jeans.

Say no to clients when your calendar is too full. Put your family first.  Refer clients elsewhere when you know it isn't a good fit. The money doesn't matter.

Try being less confident at times. You will be a bit overwhelming but do not change who you are.

You won't always get what you want.  And 18 is when that starts becoming a reality.

Spend less money on things, and travel more.

Kiss your husband like it is the first time, every time.

And girl, read your Bible. Every. Single. Day.

Remember these things. And know that being 44 is just as amazing as being 18.

You from 2020

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Stars

When I was a small child, I can remember my dad's appreciation of all things outdoors. He loved the woods and lakes and all wildlife that surrounded.  He found beauty in each snowflake, treasured the fresh air that could only be found in country living and turned to God's creation to supply for our needs.  He chopped trees and spent many hours ensuring we would have heat for our home by means of the basement fireplace.  Ahead of his time, he installed solar panels to the side of our home which created solar energy to heat our home and water.  By collecting solar energy, he made sure we had clean, and warm water from our well. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and knew that he could always rely on these skills to provide much needed food for our family.

I also remember my fascination with how much my dad loved the air that we breathe. Yes.  The air that we breathe.  He would take in air through his nose with such appreciation, one would think he was a wine connoisseur.  He would stand as straight as a tree, lift his chin, close his eyes and concentrate on breathing in. As he held his breath for a brief moment, I would often see a glimmer of a smile at the edges of his mouth. Usually, while his eyes were still closed, he would say, "Ah, how refreshing." Or, "Do you smell that?  That is beautiful."  Sometimes even, "I wish I could bottle this fresh air."  He would then open his eyes and return to the task at hand.

I learned over time, that his appreciation for the air that we breathed, wasn't common.  My dad took time to be thankful for the air while others didn't even think about it at all.  He viewed the air that we breathe as a gift.

My dad tried to teach me about the stars and the moon when I was young.  He watched the night sky as if it was the best movie he had ever seen.  He would point and I would follow his finger.  He would find books that would teach me about astronomy and space and give them to me as special gifts. Not for Christmas or a birthday, but from one admirer of the night sky to another.

I knew a young man in high school who was also fascinated by the night sky.  He would linger, in awe of the lit darkness far longer than anyone else.  When everyone had retreated or carried on their merry way, he would still be standing with his hands in his pockets, his jacket pulled tight around his neck and his head bent back a bit to take in the splendor.  I remember smiling at him as I silently watched him enjoying the the vast display.

When he called on the phone, his conversations never began with Hello. "Kelli, go outside right now and look to the north!  The stars and constellations are breathtaking! The Northern Lights are amazing. You won't believe the size the moon tonight!"  And then the line would go dead. He had only a moment to share his excitement with me, before the beauty beckoned him to return outdoors.

Now, all these years later, my 16 year old son is a lover of the outdoors and the same night sky. Even in winter, he will exit the deck door without a jacket to take in the first stars of each night. He will shout and count as the stars appear. When he returns indoors, he will yell, "Mom! Did you see the moon? Look at the stars!" And I will grab my jacket and return to the deck where we can take in the sights together. I love this time with my son. I love that he seeks out the darkness to discover the light.

I like the kind of people who get excited over the stars at night.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Walk With Me

I welcome the night. I welcome the stars and the moon. I even welcome the drop in temperature.  I welcome sleep and the restoration that occurs when I shut off my mind for few hours.  I welcome the peace that sweeps over me. 

Winter in Minnesota can be brutal. I can't pretend that it isn't. Even just today, an almost blizzard hit mid day when I was running errands.  I exited my car to fill the tank with gas and the wind hit me hard and fast. But then I saw the evergreen trees and the giant slow falling snowflakes.  The silence, even while in a gas station parking lot, was immense.  Beauty surrounded and I took my time to enjoy the sights before me.

I have never enjoyed any winter activities.  I don't snowmobile, I don't ice fish, and I do not ski. I enjoy winter walks, but on well plowed paved paths and when the temps reach 30+ degrees. But one thing that I have found that I enjoy is solitary winter walks.  Walks where I can see my breath. Walks where the moon seems to be so close, that I could actually reach out and touch it. Where the stars shine so brightly, they always light my way home.

My son and daughter have learned to appreciate the beauty of winter even though they have yet to find comfort in the freezing temperatures. Within the next 24 hours it will be in the negative temps again.  The windchill will make it even worse.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our family Christmas. My husband's side of the family will gather and share a meal and wonderful treats. We will give and receive gifts and we will enjoy the time we have together. Cousins will race and play until they can't race and play any longer. Adults will laugh and share stories of Christmases past. And at the end of the day, when we return to our own homes, smiles will linger, stomachs will be full, and contentment will remain.

These cold days are days to be treasured.  Adventure can be found around each corner.  And tomorrow night, will not disappoint. Even as the temperatures dip, a walk will need to take place.  Sometimes I believe the stars and moon beckon me. The silence of a moonlit walk can be the perfect end to a beautiful day.

So join me, near and far. Take that walk, wrap up in your scarf and mittens.  Pull your hood close and locate your boots.  Let's take in all that this winter has to offer.  Enjoy the silence. And report back about the joy you found in a solitude winter walk.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


By: Kelli J Gavin
Writers Unite!

Stop telling me what to do.

I don't need your guidance.

I have the instruction manual right here! 

It is in English and I can understand each of the simple steps!

If you say "Righty Tighty or Lefty Loosey" one more time, I may punch you in the throat.

It's a screwdriver, not a sledgehammer.

You continue to act as if I never fended for myself before I met you.

How do you think all of the Ikea furniture was assembled?

Do you think I haven't replaced a license plate on my car?

For the love of all things Holy, go find something else to do.

I am not a child who needs supervision.

Believe it or not, I was the one who attached the new knobs on the kitchen cupboards and drawers.

You even told me how great they looked. 

Did you think they magically appeared?

Maybe I applied them with duct tape and they miraculously stayed in place?

If you can trust me to function on daily basis and run this household, why is it that attaching a new door knob must be above my skill level?


Take your stupid screwdriver. 

The screws are on the floor.

Do it yourself.

If you need me, I will be in search of the sledgehammer. 

-This is the perfect example of why I love listening to other people's conversations.  

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Apparently, even after all these years, I am still surprising myself. One would think that at 44, I would have figured out who I am and how I operate. One would be wrong.  I am a faulty,  messy, distracted, fair weathered individual. I can be on it one day and completely scattered the next.

Actions speak louder than words.  And those actions sometimes have severe consequences. Severe enough consequences that can ruin relationships, change the course of a life and even cause a complete breakdown of person's ideology.

I find it disconcerting that I am always able to detect, point out and even call out poor behavior and decisions in someone else's life before I am willing to admit, confess and conquer those same behaviors and decisions in my own life.  I call out someone else's sin before I am willing to come face to face with my own.  Plank and speck. I even justify my judgement and need to convict others of their sin, forgetting that I can not be nor ever will be the ultimate con victor, the Holy Spirit. Taking on that job isn't one that I ever wish to have, especially when dealing with my hot mess self each and every day.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Those planks tend to be messy, huge, and life stalling.  The existence and presence of so many planks can often blind and deter me from even attempting to take a step forward.  Usually because I have been focusing on fixing everyone else.  And when I pause, on days like today, and acknowledge that some serious personal housekeeping needs to be tended to, a knee is bent, a request for forgiveness is made, thanksgiving and praise is given to a loving Savior and an acknowledgement occurs of the grace and love that is bestowed to me each and every day.

When I pick up the pieces that have been mended not by own hand, a step forward is then possible.  Not only possible but commanded.  That first step is to love others, to serve others, to pour into the lives of other people.

Each time this happens,  I remember what I was taught as a child. Be the one that addresses the planks, not the puller of specks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Too Many Battles

Too Many Battles

By: Kelli J Gavin 

  Life.  It is hard, isn't it?  Daily, sometimes, more of the hard stuff happens and it seems to pile up. Pile up so much that it can be debilitating. The heft, the burden of life can weigh so much, that it is immobilizing.

  When I was in high school, I was struggling during my junior year.  School, a couple of challenging classes with excessive amounts of homework, play practice, church youth group, babysitting. There seemed to be never enough hours in the day to accomplish what needed to be done. I was tired and I needed a break and there wasn't any break in sight.  My mom saw how much I was struggling. She saw me wipe tears away as I entered the kitchen. She saw me studying until 9 or 10 p.m. every evening.  She saw me become more and more quiet. 

  "Kelli, I know you have been under a lot of pressure with so much going on. I don't know that we can make school ever go away, but you can take a step back from a few other things. Knowing that you have made a commitment to be in the play, I would like to propose that maybe you take a break from babysitting and youth group for a month, maybe longer.  I know that you like the money you make from babysitting, and that you like spending time with your friends at youth group, but what if you just didn't attend for a bit? You can focus on school, homework and play practice. You can make sure that you get to bed at a decent hour each night. What do you think? Should we try it and see how it goes?"

  I started to cry.  I was so thankful because I felt like my mom was giving me permission to take a break.  She was giving me permission to pick my battles and letting me know that she knew I had probably picked too many. She was enabling me to put battles back that I shouldn't have picked in the first place.  Over commitment had become the biggest battle in my life.

  Now, as an adult, as a married mom of two teenagers, I feel I have learned a wise lesson from my mom.  I have learned picking my daily battles is essential. I find myself whispering, "Too many," to remind myself that most of the battles that I face were never intended for me to fight. 

 Today, I had the day off of work, but a to do list a mile long.  Deadlines looming, work contracts, errands, and groceries.  It took me 3 hours to finish everything on my computer alone.  But then I looked at my battle list for the day.  Too many.  Fewer. Put some back.

  Tomorrow is a new day without as many battles that need to be fought. And when something happens that may change my course, something unexpected that may weigh heavy on my heart,  I will remember my wise mother. I will give myself permission to take a break.  I will pick my battles, and when I realize that I have picked too many, I will put a few back.  I will focus on the new day that I have been given. I will be thankful for those family and friends that surround me. Because those are people that bring me joy daily.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


By: Kelli J Gavin 

When my grandmother passed, I felt defeated and utterly broken. She was the last of my grandparents left and I mourned the loss of our truly great matriarch. She was bold and vibrant, loving and forgiving, and an inspiration to anyone who had the honor to be in her presence.  Her loss spurred such a season of mourning and grief in my life, that I worried I would never pull myself from the miry pit where I seemed to dwell. 

Receiving a phone call from my grandmother's attorney was the last call I expected two months after her passing.  My grandfather passed away the summer before and I was under the impression that in their old age they had spent everything they had and that was left were the social security and survivor benefit checks that faithfully arrived each month in the mail and the equity in the roof that covered their heads. When the attorney left two and then three messages on my answering service, I knew I needed to make time to return his call. 

"Ms. Garlow, thank you for calling back. I was concerned that you had moved or that I was going to have to stop by your place of business to ensure contact. I would like to request a meeting as soon as possible.  I have sold your grandparent's home, liquidated a small life insurance plan which paid for your grandmother's funeral and final expenses and hired a small company to clear out their home. Anything that is sentimental and all furniture is now housed in the dinning room on the main floor and the rest of the home is vacant. The final sale will be complete the first of next month and I need you to claim anything that you wish to keep and give me the final instructions for the disposal of the rest of the physical property. Could we meet this Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the house?  We should be finished by 11 a.m.  Please bring a truck or trailer and at least two people to carry and pack the furniture and belongings." Mr. Smithers spoke so quickly, I wasn't tracking.

"Mr. Smithers, I am sorry.  What did you say? 9 a.m. this Friday?  I already have a truck and don't anticipate wanting to keep more than I can haul.  I will hire two men to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and they can start loading while we finish any paperwork and other business." I replied. 

"Splendid.  I will see you then.  You should know that there were instructions about a few pieces, but we can talk about all that when we meet. Have a good day and I look forward to seeing you." Mr. Smithers quickly hung up the phone. 

Pondering Mr. Smithers comments about instructions on a few pieces,  I found my mind going down rabbit trails the next few days.  Calling to secure a team of two men from the local college service agency,  I also made sure that I had plenty of thick blankets and boxes paper for anything that I chose to take with me. Busying myself with preparations for the meeting on Friday made me feel better.  I noticed by Thursday morning, I didn't feel so sad constantly.  I was still mourning, but didn't think that sudden tears were threatening to flood my cheeks at anytime.  

Friday morning as I pulled up to my grandparent's home, I couldn't help but smile as all of my childhood memories came rushing back to me.  Times spent running in the backyard sprinklers, sitting on the back porch eating watermelon with my grandfather, and helping my grandmother decorate the large home each Christmas.  Beautiful memories that I knew I would always hold dear. 

Mr. Smithers greeted me at the front door as I reached the top stair of the front porch. "Wonderful, I am glad there was a close parking space by the curb. This street is usually quite full, even during the day. I have the papers ready to go here in the dinning room."  

We both sat down and he pushed two pens in my direction.  There were flags on each page and I had no desire to read each document, so I quickly sifted through and signed each spot.  Three packets had been prepared for my signature.  Two pertaining to the sale of the home, and the last pile was for the distribution of a few small leftover investment assets, liquidating and closing bank accounts, and selling everything that I didn't want. I also signed a form which reimbursed Mr. Smithers for his extra time spent on everything involving clearing out the home and hiring packers and movers. 

My hand cramped near the end of third packet.  As I passed the signed pages and pens back to Mr. Smithers, I glanced around the room at all of my grandparent's belongings.  Hearing a knock on the door and conversation,  the moving men entered the dinning room and introduced themselves. Quickly giving instructions about belongings that I knew I wanted immediately, I asked the two young men to take the china hutch, the two side tables and coffee table that were once in the living room and sideboard from the dinning room. I located the China and kitchen dishes that had been carefully packed and labeled and my grandmother's jewelry, my grandfather's World War II memorabilia and all of the photo albums, journals and family keepsakes. I found my grandfather's black trench coat and my grandmother's furs.  Not sure that I wanted either, I knew I wasn't yet ready to part with them. I placed a star on each box I wanted and then moved a few vases that were still sitting on the sideboard to be wrapped and also placed in my truck.  I didn't have a need for any of the beds, dressers or the dinning room table or chairs, but knew I still needed to locate the sheets and towels.  My grandmother had the most beautiful pillow cases I had ever seen and I always knew someday that I would want those hand embroidered pieces of art so that I could continue to treasure them in my own home. 

As I made my way to the back of the large row of labeled boxes,  I found the sheets and pillowcases in the very last box on the floor placed next to my grandfather's chest. An audible gasp left my lips as I remember the last time that I saw the chest as a child.  

"Never, ever touch that chest.  That chest is your grandfather's and no one is allowed to touch it." My grandmother declared. 

"But what is in it?" I asked.

"That is none of your business.  I have never been allowed to touch it either.  Just promise me, your hands will never even grace the hinges.  Promise me."  Never seeing my grandmother so serious before, I instantly promised her I wouldn't touch the chest.  I was fascinated by the fleur-de-lis metal adornments and the rope handles.  It took everything that was in me to not touch the chest which sat in the basement of their old home.  I always wanted to even get a glance of it down at the bottom of the rickety stairs. And then one day, it was gone.  I knew not to ask about the chest and then I just forgot that it seemed to be missing from the bottom of the stairs.  

"Ms. Garlow. You should know that one of the things that your grandmother had listed in her final instructions was in regard to the chest.  Your grandmother wrote that under no circumstance was I to disburse of the chest on my own. That the chest was for you and it needed to go to your home. That opening it wasn't an option. You have to take the entire chest, contents and all."  I smirked at the attorneys final disclosure.  That sounded exactly like something my grandmother would request. 

"I will take the chest and I promise not to open it until I get home.  I think I am done with putting a star on all the boxes.  Those movers have done a great job loading all the furniture.  I am going to go outside and make sure that they started loading the boxes safely for transport."  When I went outside, I found only one box that should be moved as it was lighter than all the rest.  

Returning indoors I perused the boxes to make sure that each one with a star had already been taken outside and pointed to the chest.  "Don't open it. Just put it on the floor boards of the front seat of the truck."

"Of course ma'am." The second mover quickly replied.  

Mr. Smithers had also been given strict instructions from my grandmother from my grandmother to tell me about who had purchased the home, once purchase papers had been signed and the final sale was pending. 

Once everything was loaded,  I decided to do one final walk through of the home. The amazing home that I loved as a child.  Saying a silent prayer for the family that purchased the home, I prayed for the children, that they would enjoy each room as much as I did. I prayed for the parents that would raise their kids in the home the same way my grandparent's raised my mom and her siblings. Heading home, the two moving men that I hired, followed me in their car. So pleased with their hard work after they had brought all of the furniture and boxes into my home and positioned each where I had requested, I paid the two gentlemen in cash and tipped them well.  I remembered what it was like to be a struggling college student. 

I had requested that the chest be put on the coffee table in front of the couch.  Sitting down slowly,  I steeled myself for what I would find.  Slowly, as the chest creaked open, the smell of cedar and lavender wafted out.  My grandmother had placed the cedar chips and lavender swags to fight against any musty odors that may have sunk in over the years. Sitting in front of the open chest, I stared in disbelief.  

Apparently, the Purple Heart that had always been rumored to have been awarded to my grandfather, had found its resting place inside of the scarred chest.  My grandfather had never spoken of his wartime experiences, and even denied being hurt during war and subsequently sent home.  He had mentioned that so many of his friends had lost their lives, and he was grateful to ever make it home.  I remember my mother questioning if he thought he was diminishing the experience of those that served and gave their lives when he was only wounded and had the rest of his life to live. Whatever the reason, he valued the Purple Heart enough to keep it and store it for safety.  

Next to the treasured medal, was a picture of my grandmother and grandfather.  Oh, how young my grandmother looked. I believed the picture was from when they were dating, and turning it over I received confirmation. A handwritten note from my grandmother read, "Come home to me.  I will be waiting for you. You are loved."  Tears poked at the corners of my eyes.  Underneath, I found my grandfather's class ring from high school, his class ring from college and the small framed award he had received when he had reached 25 years on the job. I also found my grandfather's watch and wedding ring which my grandmother must have carefully packed away after his passing. Beneath all of these beautiful items, I found something I never expected.  There was a single envelope addressed to my grandmother with her maiden name from my grandfather when he was stationed in Europe during the war. The envelope was never sealed, nor was it torn open.  The flap had been neatly tucked inside of the envelope.  

"April 11, 1942

I miss you more each day. Know that I will always love you.  I won't overwhelm you with the details, but I am struggling and concerned that I may never see you again.  My friends are dying. More and more every day.  I have seen so much killing, so much death.  I can't imagine how I will make it three more months, even three more days.  If we are not meant to be married, if I do not return, know that I want you to be happy. Find someone who loves you the way you deserve, someone who will treat you like a queen and give you all the babies you want. But promise me you will be happy.  Promise me.  I need to know this one thing.  I love you.  I love you. I love you. Always. 

Tears streaming down my face, I took the envelope from the table.  The envelope had never been posted. My grandfather wrote this letter and never sent it to my grandmother. Checking the date on the top of the letter, indeed, he returned just over 3 months later to the United States.  He loved her the moment he met her, when he was drafted and was forced to leave her, all while he served his country, and he loved her the moment he was reunited with her after a 13 month tour of duty. He loved her and this letter wasn't meant for her to see, as he planned on returning home to his soon to be bride.  It also wasn't meant for me to see either. Until now.  

That day was the day when I knew that things wouldn't always be so hard.  It wouldn't always hurt so much to continue each day without my grandparents.  I would always miss them, but grief would no longer be so heartbreaking.

Thankful for these treasures, I opened the China hutch which was placed in the new desired location in my dining room. The Purple Heart, the wedding ring and picture, the watch, both class rings and the letter in the envelope were all placed accordingly on the top shelf. A shelf of honor. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Do You Care?

My daughter is a little drama queen. She loves music and singing and acting in plays. She also loves swimming. She lacks any sort of talent when it comes to sports, but can ride a scooter like it was her God given gift. My son loves drawing, golf, swimming and going for walks. Everything he enjoys is a very solitude act.

My husband and I have always enabled our kids to choose their activities.  We never forced them to participate in tee ball, little league or even any team sports. I never encouraged my daughter to try gymnastics, dance or baton like I had when I was young.  But I also never encouraged it.  We never signed them up for anything and then made the go against their will. However, there was a week long summer dance clinic that made me feel like that week was actually going to kill me in the end. My kids swim in the backyard in the summer when they want.  The go for walks and scooter rides. They tell us when they want to go to the golf course, the driving range or Top Golf. We are a content family without surrounding ourselves with the busyness of organized team sports.

We are also content with the idea of our kids not being involved in a ton of other activities. We make it a priority for our kids to attend church youth group on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. We also make sure that if our daughter wants to be in a play or volunteer through school or church, that she is able to do so.  We encourage our kids to have fun through doing the things that they like to do and we don't force them to do the things they may not enjoy just because other kids participate in those activities.  I never want to be a parent that passes on a Keeping Up With the Jones mentality to the next generation.  And that attitude can be formed when it comes to the acquisition of things or the participation in events or activities.

I have been asked if Josh and I have any plans for Lily to become involved in any additional activities.  Um.  No.  What?  Why? My daughter is in 7th grade, has asthma, lacks any coordination whatsoever to excel in any sport, but loves to act in two plays each school year, sing in choir, volunteer after school each fall and at church every other Sunday.  I have full confidence that she enjoys every activity she participates in and doesn't begrudge Josh or I for forced participation. Parents are already talking about college and scholarships and resumes.  My mind can't even wrap itself around the fact that we have two teenagers.  I can't even yet imagine the idea of Lily going to college.

Parents are a funny thing.  Of course we all want whats best for our kids.  But sometimes, parents fall into the comparison game. They even take more pride in the personal accomplishments of their children than they do in anything they have done.  And that pride can morph into a raging machine when they want to make sure that every other parent knows how well their kids are doing in comparison to other children. 

Nope. I just don't have time for it.  A humble brag, yes.  My kid is having fun in a play at school. The performance is this weekend. So proud of her.  Not- My daughter is the most amazing actress ever. - And then try to recruit the entire family and friend sphere to attend a performance of a junior high play.  Or- My kid loves to draw and he has really improved over the last two years.- Then post updated drawings.  Not- print out a million copies and and distribute them to everyone including the lady stocking fruit at the grocery store. 

My goal each day is to love my kids, encourage my kids and point them to Jesus.  My goal isn't to fill their day and frankly my day with more activities and more stress that make them feel like they just want to make it through each day rather than enjoy and savor every moment. 

Do I care that my daughter won't have the most padded resume or activity involvement when it comes to college applications? No. I do not.  But I do care that she has a kind heart. I do care that she enjoys helping others. And I care that she has time to play with friends, time to read, time to play games with her family and time to be a kid.  Because in a few short years, this world is going to ask an awful lot of her. This school will ask her to be an adult in a world where adults aren't very nice to each other.  This world will ask her to compete for positions in school and for jobs.  This world will ask her to focus on everything that doesn't matter rather than focus on the condition of her heart and mind.

So, for now,  I will not push.  I will not sign her up. I will not pester. I will not beg. I will not make her do anything she isn't interested in or be involved in anything she doesn't enjoy.  Because today, we are focusing on her being a kid. On having fun.  On smiling and laughing.  On enjoying this day that we have been gifted.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Never Disturb

Wondering what brought on a rush of emotions the other night, my husband wiped a few of my tears and gently asked me what was wrong.  My feelings were deeply hurt when I reviewed a text history with a friend. I realized that I was the one texting. I was the one asking questions.  I was the one initiating every interaction we had.  I continued to put in the effort and hadn't caught on that the effort wasn't appreciated.  That the effort hadn't been appreciated in quite some time.

I wish I could say that this is the first time it has happened to me. That it was the only time I shed a tear over a friendship when I realized it had played its course. After drying my own tears, I fondly remembered what my mom had said more than once when I was growing up. "Never chase anyone. I don't care if it is a friend or a boy. Some relationships are meant to last. Some, for only a short while. When you learn who will stay, hold on to them."

I think my mom knew a little about relationships playing their course. She had watched friends come and go. She had also grieved as she experienced her marriage to my dad crumble.  A personality larger than life,  she was driven, focused and sometimes too much to take in.  People felt overwhelmed by her.  But I realize now as an adult, that the relationships my mom lost, said more about the person who walked away than it ever did about her.

When someone loves another person fiercely, it can be scary and often disarming.  What if a person was hurt, even expected to be hurt,  and built up a few walls of protection in the mean time?  When all that love is directed at someone, it can be overwhelming. And usually when people are overwhelmed, they either shut down or flee.  And flee was what I saw people do when it came to my mom.  No longer answering phone calls,  not available to hang out or meet for a quick meal. And eventually,  that friend, that person who was once so close, was a fond memory. 

Never chase anyone.  I always listened to my mom. Well, I usually listened to my mom.  I won't chase.  But I also won't fall apart. I will miss my friend. I will miss texting, our late night laughs, our giggles and catching up over coffee. Our meals that turn into 2 then 3 and 4 hours long.  But I will never disturb them again.

And what if another text is received? What if an attempt is made to contact me?  I will love them like I always have, I will remember fondly a friendship that was important to me.  But I will remember the feeling of being avoided and move on. I will move on to the relationships that encourage me, to the relationships that restore me.  The relationships that I plan on continuing to treasure.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

When Surgery Takes It All Out Of Me

I had surgery again this past Friday.  I say again since this is technically the fourth one I have had this year.  Three in January at the same time and now this surgery.  I struggle in many ways when it comes to medical stuff.  Pain meds and narcotics don't work very well for me.  Because of the lack of pain relief, I often turn to muscle relaxers. They enable me to fall asleep even though the pain is still very present.

But this time? This time is different.  The muscle relaxers are also not helping and I have developed an allergic reaction to the glue that covers my stitches that close my external incisions.  To be very honest, I am miserable.  I am tired and so incredibly ready to sit, lay, even lounge without being constantly aware of the pain that is present.

I am not a stranger to physical pain and extended recovery times.  I have found that in these down times, I have a lot of time to pray, to read the bible, strategize (future game plans for projects that need to be completed) and to write and edit. I also really do enjoy watching movies.  But I get bored so very quickly.

My kids are returning to school tomorrow.  Josh will leave for work, and Lily is responsible for getting Zach on the bus.  I will have the entire house to myself all day. I have about 10 minutes of energy in me at a time.  If I can shower and get dressed and sit down quickly I will be fine.  Then I will wait an hour and try again for some cereal and coffee.  I will take it slow and probably need a nap after just that.

Surgery has taken it all out of me. All of it. Every last ounce of energy that I had prior is non existent now.  And I am completely content with that. No, the kids laundry isn't folded. The kitchen counters looks like someone may have died on them.  And my kids are just going to have to fend for themselves when it comes to lunches and snacks this week.  But I am content with the fact that things are a bit messy and even more so out of control for a bit.

While my body heals,  my entire body relaxes.  I am not racing from one activity to another. I am not booking clients and working until the late hours of each night.  All of the things that seem so important can wait for a bit.  A week or two, maybe six.  I will sleep and enjoy coffee. I will reread my group bible study and enjoy my friend Michelle Choe's blog at https://deeperriches.com/blog/
I will do all of the things that I wish I had time to do, and not be expected to do anything else.  I will enjoy this time.  I will welcome this time.  I will remind myself that no one wins a trophy for being the most busy person.  It isn't a cool thing to be the busy person who always complains about being busy. Defeats the purpose.  (Lily would call them Attention Seeking Busy Creators.)

Tonight, I will sleep. That is it. Tomorrow I will edit.  That might be it.  Coffee will be consumed.  And yogurt with fruit and honey.
And I will be grateful for a doctor who has the knowledge of how to fix broken bodies.  I am thankful the Lord hears my prayers and meets me wherever I am.  And right now,  that is on the couch in the front living room enjoying the beautiful fall breeze blowing in through the open window.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Spend All My Life

Every single day.  That is how often I fall.  I fall in love with people. With friends. Even with people from afar.  Certain things people will do or say will catch my attention and I am drawn to them.

My daughter has a friend who believes herself to be beyond her 13 years.  She strives to wear the cool clothes that the older teen girls wear. She wants her hair always in a messy top bun.  A few months ago,  I observed that this sweet girl had an obsession with her hair.  She would take it out of its pony tail holder, throw her head over to her knees and proceed to gather all of her hair just to place it back on top of her head again.  Usually I wouldn't give it another thought, but something strange was occurring each time she did this.  She always seemed to be doing it in very close proximity to other people.  She would somehow manage to flip all of her hair into the eyes of the person standing next to her. Or she would cover the shoulder of her friend. It struck me as odd. I don't want other people's hair touching me or being flipped onto my eyes.  I saw one of the girls roll her eyes as she looked at me, and then later, a boy turned and walked away.

I pulled her aside. "I like your top knot. When you put your hair up, try not to do it when other people are standing shoulder to shoulder with you. Do not rush. Take your time to gather your hair all in one hand and put the pony tail holder in with the other.  You can even excuse yourself to the bathroom and do it in the mirror to make sure you got all your hair.  If your pony tail holders don't seem strong enough to hold your hair, let me know and I will order you a set like I purchased for my Lily."

My daughter's friend heard me loud and clear. She could tell I was momming her, but also trying to help, not hinder.  "Thanks. I think I will take you up on your offer for pony tail holders.  My mom has such pretty hair and she doesn't have thin hair like I do.  She never has to put hers back up.  I feel like my hair falls out constantly.  I think if I use a tighter one in my hair, that might help. Thanks."

Right at that moment,  I loved this little girl.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  She was comparing her hair to her beautiful mom's hair and was struggling with her own.  There isn't a teen girl alive that I have ever known that hasn't struggled to some degree with self image.  She needed help, a few pointers, and she felt comfortable taking them from me.  Just another mom. But a mom that cares.

My son loves going to his special needs youth group on Tuesday nights at church.  It is the highlight of his week. When I go to pick him up, I can hardly contain my smile when he dives into arms in excitement and can't wait to tell me everything that he did at Capernaum.  Jake, his 20 something helper, came out to greet me also.  "Mrs. Gavin, your son is amazing.  He loves music and loves the other students.  I enjoy watching him interact with other volunteers and students.  He makes volunteering a fantastic experience for me." Behind Jake, three other volunteers were smiling and nodding in agreement.  Right then, my heart soared with love for each of those volunteers who so selflessly give of their time to serve my family and to love on my son.

My husband leads a men's bible study on Thursday mornings and oversees men's ministries at our campus church.  This past Sunday, we hosted an hour of prayer to uplift a soon to be deployed serviceman and his family in prayer.  We adore this sweet family and consider it an honor to do life with them.

As the men from the bible study were preparing to leave, one of the men pulled me aside and said, "Kelli, thank you for having us.  I want to tell you how much I value your husband and how much I look forward to spending time with him and the other men in the group.  Your husband is a wonderful encouragement to me."  Right there, my heart loved this man who took the time to tell me how thankful he is for my husband.

Sometimes, when I love someone, it is for something they have said, or even something they have done. Other times, I love someone for the words they chose not to say. And love is always present when someone loves my people, my family.

I will spend all my life loving people up close. I will love my children and husband until this world is no longer. Different people and in different ways. The love that strikes anywhere and at any time, in single moments, is something that I want to experience every day for the rest of my life.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

By Order of the Peaky Blinders

I have a vivid imagination.  When brainstorming, I don't just think about practical, every day solutions to problems, I think of oddball, quirky, not able to happen in the real world, and sometimes even downright illogical solutions.  I can blame it on on my writer's brain, even the fact that I love to read and love to watch documentaries. My brain tends hold an inordinate amount of insignificant information that really can never be used at a later date. As in ever. 

Life is often overwhelming. Sometimes, it is problems with one of my kids at school, or with friendships. Sometimes, it is figuring out a way to forgive someone who has hurt me knowing that they will never say they are sorry or change their way of relating to other people. And even other times, it is mending a broken heart over a situation that will never improve. Right now, I seem to be faced by many problems. All of the problems.  Assailed from every direction.  Yes, I know that this isn't actually true. But it feels like it.  

While trying to come up with the solution to world peace, (actually just trying to figure out how to increase my productivity when there doesn't seem to be enough hours in each day) I began to wonder if I just needed to hire a fixer. Yes, a fixer. Someone on the payroll who would swoop in at a moments notice and fix whatever happens to be the dilemma of the hour.  

Like Dr. House. When all of the other doctors have tried to diagnose and failed, Dr. House will swoop in and save the day and his new patient from certain death.  Or, Annalise Keating.  The impossible case where someone is facing a life sentence for a crime that they didn't commit, and Annalise arrives not a moment too soon. Not only through her remarkable investigation skills and expertise at cross examination, she is able to have her client cleared of all charges, a public apology is made, and the accused even receives a trillion dollar defamation and libel suit win. 

And then there is the Shelby Family. Thomas Shelby only needs to hear of an injustice that faces a family member or someone he has sworn to protect, and he immediately comes up with a plan of how to fix it and to make sure  that it will never happen again.  Now, the Shelby brothers may have some interesting ideas on problem solving.  Their solutions often involve action first, and analyze later.  While I do not condone violence or organized crime,  I love the idea of other people caring enough to solve my problem or issue sometimes even before I have had a chance to be concerned about it. 

We are not guaranteed a perfect happy life.  We are guaranteed anything but. Even in the book of John- In this world you will have many troubles... - That sounds like a for sure promise of trouble.  So knowing that troubles will at times abound, what does the second part of verse in John 16:33 say? - But take heart! I have overcome the world!" - Jesus has overcome the world. 

Daily challenges will seem to pile up.  They will overwhelm and continue to bring me to my knees. But I need to remember that this world is temporary.  This world is a mess.  I am not of this world, I just happen to be taking up a temporary residence. So yes, discouragement may set in, but this isn't a place I wish to remain or dwell. 

No,  I don't need a Dr. House or Ms. Keating.  I absolutely think anyone of The Clan Shelby would create more havoc.  It is Jesus. That is who I need. Every single day.  The comforter and lover of my soul. The one who gives me strength, who sees my tears, understands the turmoil and anticipates my prayers before I even speak. 


That is who I need today and every day. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ha! I Don't Get It.

I love a good play on words.  My favorite one currently is this:  Say- Rise up lights. Rise up lights.  This sounds like a person with an Australian accents saying razor blades.  Go ahead. Say it again.  And then again. I will wait.

The other day, a man a restaurant said, "No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationary."

Or the one my teacher told me as a child and I didn't understand until years later- A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

I don't often catch on right away when someone says something funny or uses words as if they alone can quite possibly be punchline.  I am not the brightest bulb on the tree. You can see my gears turning, me slowly catching up, and then arriving at a full understanding of what has been said.  I am horrible at dinner parties.  I will look directly my husband and say, "I don't get it." Or,  "What in the actual what are they talking about?"  He finds humor in this each and every time.  He says the second he sees the corners of my lips turn upwards, he knows that I then get the joke.

I wonder how much I have actually missed over the years? How many jokes I haven't understood and just glossed over or changed the subject? I have a feeling it is a lot.

If you struggle with this also, just know, that you are not alone.  Also always remember, that you can tune a bicycle, but you can not tuna fish.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

It Is All In How You Choose To Look At Things

This day was interesting.  I had delusions of grandeur of how much I would actually be able to accomplish today. I didn't have any clients booked, and my home is a wreck, so I knew I needed to play catch up.  I put five loads of laundry away, and hung up 21 items of discarded clothing that clearly should have been hung up weeks ago.  I replied to 7 emails, and then raced to the bank, to the grocery and to two garage sales for fun.  I also chose to go out for lunch which is something I never do on my own. 

I went to La Hermosa and enjoyed the GF Tacos La Hermosa made with carnitas, onions and peppers.  It was amazing.  I felt bad however, because I went without Josh.  He loved it the last two times we went there and I felt I was cheating on him.  He felt absolutely insulted and questioned my love for him when I volunteered this confession at the dinner table.  (Not really, but he made me promise I wouldn't do it again.)

While there, I got quite a bit of writing done for a short story that is due in October. The waiter questioned me where my family was.  Even he knew that I was cheating on them by even walking into the restaurant without them.  I promised him I would return with my entire family in a few weeks.  

I took a brief rest this afternoon, organized two baskets of clothing for my daughter and gathered two baskets of dirty clothes to start laundry tonight.  I began preparing the vegetables and chicken for dinner, (stir fry)  and panicked when I saw a text from Josh. - Don't forget to pick up Lily from play practice. I won't be done at work until at least 6.

I looked at the clock. It was 4:47.  I needed to be at her school in Cologne by 5:15 and the chicken was in the oven and the water for the rice noodles had just begun to boil.  I put the chicken on the cutting board, shut off the boiling water and hollered for Zach to hurry up and get in the car.  We were both out the door by 4:55.  I even made it to her school with 3 minutes to spare.  

Dinner was completed by 6 pm, and I had the kitchen cleaned up and backpacks packed for tomorrow by 7 and then moved on to start one of two loads of laundry. Lily reviewed all of her vocab definitions for her test tomorrow. The kids are getting into bed now and it is just after 8.

I didn't make a to do list for today.  I rarely do. But when I do make notes, it is usually items of note to make sure I don't forget things we need at the grocery store, or the ideal order of errands. But today, my mental to do list was no where near completed.  

I wanted to get further in the story that I was writing.  I wanted to clear up some of the mess on the main floor and to address the overflowing almost out of season clothing that seems to multiplying in Lily's room.  None of those things were completed.  But there is always tomorrow. 

But I completed errands. I reclaimed my home so that it no longer looks like a bomb went off, only that a small struggle may have taken place.  I enjoyed an amazing meal that I didn't have to make.  I was able to witness two young brothers playing in City Square Park and enjoying the beautiful day.  I found a great puzzle for Zach and a coloring book for Lily at a garage sale. I also discovered 9 items of clothing that I can donate because I will no longer wear them.  I played a few hands of cards with husband after we finished eating dinner together. 

I cuddled with Lily and goofed around a bit when she told me that she loved the note I left of her in her lunch bag.  And I enjoyed spending time with Zach, talking about his day at school, all that he accomplished at work and what he is looking forward to in the weeks to come.  

All of these amazing things were spotlights of joy that I didn't necessarily plan for, but 
yet, I got to experience each one. No, the to do list wasn't completed, and the day wasn't a complete success. But I guess it is all in how I choose to look at things.

I don't work tomorrow. The only thing on my agenda is housework and writing. So tomorrow, I will get a chance to do it all over again.  And that is just fine with me.  Because today was a good day just as it was.

I Was There To Hold His Hand

     Our dad is dying. He is in his final days. My sister Angela is doing an amazing job caring for him in her home. She is overseeing care,...