Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fresh Starts

Ah...... the first day of school. Whether it's a new Speed Racer book bag or a bright yellow tank top (and matching bracelet, of course!), there's nothing quite like a fresh start. I'm sure we all remember brand new shoes and crisp untainted notebooks and the excitement of beginning again. My children experienced that this month and surprisingly, so did I.
After almost 20 years at my job, I was given a chance to begin again. It's still the same 'ol building and the same 'ol products, but something huge has changed. We have new owners and along with a few new faces, is a brand new sense of purpose and vision. For those of you that know me well, you know this has been an answer to a looooong prayed prayer. The past few years have been difficult, to say the least, and I have been so uncertain about what to do. But I knew God had a plan and even though I did not see evidence of ANYTHING changing (only seemingly getting worse!) I held on and kept hoping he was hearing my plea. And, boy did he! Things have turned around in an amazing way that I never could have even conceived (I even got a promotion!).
So, I share this for one reason - to encourage any of you that need a miracle. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God hears your cries and he has you, your future, your needs, your dreams, your work, your family, your circumstances, your EVERYTHING safely in his care. Hold on, hold fast, and expect his promises to be fulfilled. He truly delights in giving you the desires of your heart! And not even Speed Racer can keep up with that!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Than Just A Great Summer Read

There are some books that make an impression on your life and there are a rare few that truly make a difference. The Shack, written by William Young, is one of those books. I very offhandedly grabbed it at the airport when I was in desperate need of reading material and only had a few minutes to select something before I was late to my gate. The book was sitting by itself on a bottom shelf. At the time, I think it was #48 on the best sellers list and I was intrigued by the cover and the subhead "Where tragedy confronts eternity". So I made the quick purchase, having no clue how this piece of literature was going to impact me. And that is all I will say. If you read one book this year, or even this decade, make it this one. And when it gets a bit "out there", stay with it.... you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Today, I Married My Son

Today, I Married My Son.

It was a sweet and simple ceremony.
Perhaps it was the beauty of the day with its cool pre-summer breeze and sunny afternoon , but most likely it was the picking of the pretty yellow flowers in the backyard that prompted the sudden proposal. “Mom, let’s get married,” he said holding the big bunch of yellow beauties. A few days before, I had noticed the shock of yellow in the corner of our backyard that we refer to as “the swamp”. I knew it was some kind of weed, but I had no idea the magnitude of it until I was right up on it. It grew high and had coiled, thick, purplish vines with the sweetest little yellow flowers with orange centers. I had asked Riley about coming with me to cut the flowers and he happily agreed. We grabbed a scissors from the kitchen and meandered our way to the swamp avoiding doggy land mines to reach the mammoth weed. He didn’t know, nor did he care what it was, he was just as enamored with the yellow flowers as I was. And, I suppose, that is was prompted his desire to wed. So, there it was, actually the third proposal of my life (but that’s another whole story!) and I thought, do I decline? Should I let him know that typically moms do not marry their sons? Or that the Department of Social Services could be called if word got out? Or at the very least, what will the neighbors say?! Instead, I shrugged my shoulder and replied, “Sure, why not.”
Just as any smitten bachelor, he was elated with my response. We walked hand in hand carefully back through the yard (doggy doo would NOT be the scent you want to remember on your wedding day) and went inside. With my allergies being what they are, an inside wedding was definitely preferable. With such an impromptu ceremony we had to do some improvising, so for music I hummed what I thought at first was the wedding march, but turned more into The Newlywed Show theme song. Riley didn’t notice. He was too busy holding the big bouquet of yellow flowers as he held my hand and we marched around the upstairs. This bridal procession lasted only a few minutes as we circled in and out of my two teenagers’ rooms. There were groans and sounds of disgust. The 16 year old in his judgmental tone said “You’ve GOT to be kidding me,” and my 13 year old girl just rolled her eyes and said, “Mom, that is SO gross”. But Riley and I were undeterred. No one was going to spoil our wedding day even if family didn’t approve (hmmm... seems I've said that before in my previous ceremonies).
We stopped in his room where we stood together and I further improvised having to perform the nuptials myself. “Do you Maureen, take this boy Riley to be your son, to have and to hold, to love and cherish all the days of your life?” “I do,” I answered. “Do you Riley take this woman to be your mom for the rest of your life, to love, honor and obey?” Riley hesitated, as I’m sure his nerves got the best of him, as it happens in many marriage ceremonies. So, after a small nudge, he finally repeated the words “I Do.” He had warned me earlier right before the ceremony that we would have to kiss and so this was the moment. I stated, “Then you may kiss the bride.” On cue, Riley handed me the bunch of flowers as he puckered up. A quick peck and the ceremony was over. Against the backdrop of Spiderman and Lightening McQueen, I married my four year old son.
As I reflected on the ceremony later in the evening, I realize there are a few lessons here:
First, weeds can be beautiful. I’ve always loved dandelions and used to get very upset with my dad when he would mow them down. He would grumble about the lawn, but I thought ours was the most beautiful on the block – no one had as many pretty yellow flowers as we did. And if he let the lawn go, I was lucky enough to have my share of wishmakers to just dream away and ask for all the things I ever wanted. What could be better?
Next, there is the ever-so-sweet innocence of a four year old in love with his mother (as contrasted by the teenagers – more on that later). How could I say no to his proposal? He’s in love with me and I’m going to savor every moment while it lasts. Because it won’t be long before holding my hand will not be cool, and kissing his mom will be an obligation, and picking flowers with his mom will be so lame. Until that happens, I will marry him every day if he asks.
And lastly, there is the opportunity to disgust your teenage children. Why is there such pleasure in that? I haven’t quite figured that out, but I do know that all of their disdain is just show. And I know deep down there is security in knowing that your mom can be playful and have fun and most importantly, to love that much. I think it reassures them to know that they were once loved that much when they were four and that same love never goes away. It changes as they change and alter their way of receiving it, but that it is always there. And it reminds them that there is life after puberty and just maybe they can one day be uninhibited and not socially paralyzed by what their peers or any possible onlooker might think of them. I sure hope so anyway.
So, my suggestion is to stop and smell the weeds and marry your children when the opportunity arises. There’s one marriage you’ll never regret (refer to earlier proposal comment). But that’s another story….

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Lonely Mother's Day

This special day I wanted to take time to celebrate my mom and my mother-in-law. They both passed away 2 weeks apart in October 2007. My mother-in-law died from a heart attack unexpectedly, yet peacefully in her bed in the early morning hours. She was cuddled up to her loving husband of 52 years and was so beautiful and serene that it was hard to believe that she was really gone. Her strong faith and her complete readiness to go whenever God called her gave those of us in shock over her death, the comfort to get us through. I am truly blessed for having such a wonderful faith-filled woman as my mother-in-law.

And then there's my mom. Words cannot express the depth of my love for her and the thankfulness I have for such a precious gift of a mom. Her beauty and her charm mixed with her faith, wonderful wit and humor made her such a delight to be around. She became sick right after my dad passed away 3 years ago. She was a breast cancer survivor for 16 years, but the very treatment that cured her then, caused her liver damage which eventually took her life. But I can't help believe that she really died from a broken heart after losing her one true love of 47 years. She and my dad were such a special and rare couple, always putting each other first and modeling what true commitment looks like. Their marriage withstood many challenges and heartaches including the loss of their child, my sister Patti, who died at only 8 years old. But their love and commitment to each other never wavered, nor did their faith and abiding love for God and the church.

So, although today was a lonely Mother's Day, it was a day to remember and celebrate our beautiful mothers and the incredible gift that we have been given in having such loving women that we can call "Mom". For so many years I would secretly bemoan the hectic schedule on Mother's Day shlepping all the kids from one family to the next, selfishly thinking, "Isn't this supposed to be MY day too?" In the back of my mind, I knew that someday I wouldn't have to worry about the schedule, but the reason for that was too unbearable to think about. Today was the reality of that dreaded thought, and now, how I yearn for those harried holidays of back and forth and crazy running around. I missed not having anyone to get a gift for, no one to bring flowers to, and especially no one to kiss and hug. No one and nothing can replace the presence and love of your mom. So, enjoy those you love while you have them to love on.

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms everywhere.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The "M Studio"

Here's my new place to sew pillows, woodburn, mosaic, paint, and just CREATE! I love my "M Studio" (my daughter Maggie named it). Robert, my loving husband, finished out an area in the basement for me (banker by day, handyman on the weekends). My teenage son, David, so eloquently coined a tag line for the studio: "Where ugly things are welcome". Not how I feel AT ALL!... but he's very left brained and just doesn't fully grasp the creative side of life (but I'm still working on him!).

Here's a peek inside my Heaven Born cabinet where I have oodles of flannel, ribbon and all the components used to make the pillows. I saved the cardboard bolt holders from the fabric store so I could easily and neatly store all the many yards of fabric (the bolts are 2 deep on the shelf... that's a lot of flannel!).

Here's a fun wall that pays homage to the "M". A bit self-serving, I know, but I do have a fondness for the special letter and I look forward to someday passing my collection along to Maggie. She is incredibly creative and I fully expect her to carry on the family artist tradition. And it just so happens that the M's are perfect for her too (serendipity at work!).

Speaking of family artists, this photo shows my favorite thing that I own. It is a pair of wooden shoes that my beloved Dad made for me when I was a little girl. He bought them from Holland, Michigan and woodburned and painted the little dutch girl amongst brightly colored tulips and a windmill. I remember clomping around the house in them enjoying the loud racket they made. These shoes not only remind me of my childhood and part of my Dutch heritage, but more importantly, they remind me of my loving Dad who went to heaven August 13, 2004. He was incredibly artistic and spent his whole life creating beautiful things and living a life focused on faith and family. I miss him more than I can say.

Here's some sweet paper birds perched overhead. They're just a touch of whimsy and fun. And that is what the "M Studio" is all about; a place to let your creative wings expand and let your ideas take flight. I'm thankful for this special place that I can call all my own and yet share with all. Thanks for taking a look!.....