Tell him

I sat with a mom of a struggling son. Sighs of exhaustion and tears of grief crept in and out of the conversation. What is the plan? She asked. I love plans, goals, and achievement, but today that was not the answer. Words roamed my head, remaining silent…… the plan….. The plan is to be fascinated by his strengths, grateful for his tenacity, impressed by his resilience and wowed by his spirit and in awe of his story. The plan is to encourage his small steps while loving him large. Everyday, simply dwell on the great. Never ever lose sight.

The words of advice finally came out. “Be careful who you listen to. Don’t worry about what people think. There is no race to finish line. There is no perfect decision or perfect mom. There is no shame in making a mistake. There is time. And maybe try this…..listen to his pain spoken and unspoken in the quiet of the night when all is still and not stirred up.

And when he goes to bed, sit near him and whisper the words you long to say. Share words of love that can enter his restful soul while he isn’t struggling through the day. Tell him you are sorry he hurts. That he doesn’t have to fit in. Forgive those who hurt him. Forgive yourself. Tell him you love him and you will always do your best. Tell him of his gifts. Share your hopes. Encourage his dreams. Tell him you understand. Tell him anything you have on your heart. Tell him he is enough. Pray for him. Do this every night until you know all is well.”

I did this tonight in the quietness of my room, picturing him sleeping, while I spoke to the heavens. Good advice I thought. I wish I had heard it years ago. But today I realize this angel named Beau has taught me well.

The secret message

As I walked out to the driveway I could see Ty cleaning the Pathfinder. He had a bucket full of soapy water and several bottles of tire cleaner lay next to his feet as he scrubbed the vehicle. Tears welled up in my eyes as the realization of getting rid of Beau’s car hit me. You see, I was the one Beau gave his car to.

When we were pregnant we needed a vehicle other then my truck that would be safe for our new little one and Beau wanted to travel across the country during that time. Sleeping in the back of my truck with its topper seemed like the perfect, logical trade so Beau and I switched cars. As Beau and I switched keys and exchanged paper work, he told me that he left me a secret message in the Pathfinder. He told me it wasn’t easy to find and I would find it at the perfect moment. So, you can imagine the anxiety I was feeling as the day came to sell the Pathfinder. I was a wreck because I hadn’t found Beau’s message. I felt terrible. I had looked intensely for the past year and finally the day had come to let it go.

Ty noticed my tears and asked me why I was crying. “I didn’t find it,” I said between my sobs. “Didn’t find what?” he replied. “I didn’t find Beau’s secret message and I’m sick about it.” I said. Ty’s shoulders dropped and he looked toward the ground. He slowly began to laugh. Yes, laugh! It was beyond me why on earth my husband was laughing at me as I was standing in the driveway crying.

“Oh Lis…I didn’t tell you.” He began to say. “The last day we saw Beau, you ran out to the Pathfinder to grab something out of your purse. When you left, Beau began chuckling under his breath. When I asked him what he was laughing about he replied. “There is no message. I just want to see how long Sis will look.” He said with the biggest grin on his face.

You see, this story gives you just a glimpse of Beau’s incredible personality. His fun loving nature was truly a gift. I know Beau was looking down with a smile and probably a good belly laugh when I finally figured out his scheme. Beau always reminded me to enjoy every minute God has blessed us with and to HAVE FUN!

Good one B-man…you got me.

You do not have to be Good

You do not have to be Good

It was the anniversary of my brother’s death and I found myself unusually emotional.  I have managed to focus on the silver linings of his death.  Silver linings may sound insensitive, morbid even, but the thought of knowing he is safe has profoundly ruled over my grief.  I found this day was different; as if it finally sunk in he was gone.  I needed an explanation, a distraction and another silver lining to get me through the day.

I began my journey with the distraction of work.  There people in their most vulnerable state surround me.  These people, like Beau, are looking for their purpose, their meaning, and their place in the world.  A group had gathered and a poem was shared. I listened to the rhythmic words flow over me, offering an overwhelming sense of relief, as if this poem was written for Beau and me.  The poem began with “You do not have to be good”.  Members in the group echoed the line and you could feel the sighs as if a huge weight had been lifted.  “You do not have to be good”.  What a simple yet profound statement.  In resolution the poem states “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”  I found myself smiling and wanting to scream the line over and over again “You do not have to be good!”  I wanted Beau to hear me say it….  You do not have to be good.  It was this he strived for, never feeling as if he could be good enough.

It was a sunny day; the sky was a crystal clear blue when I heard this poem.  I pictured him, up there; with the geese… he has found his place.  We all have our place in this world.  Our lives transpire meaning and impact on others.  This simple message gets lost amongst our daily strive to produce, control and for some, survive our lives.   I left the group with another piece of silver lining…. knowing we all are imperfect and our place in the family of things is meaningful, purposeful and profound. His life was profound.

 

Your life too is profound. Never forget that all of God’s creation has a purpose including you.  Find yours no matter how simple and live it everyday.  Would you share your purpose with us, you might be surprised what you find out when you put it in words.

 

0_geese

GRAY…CE

Gray…..ce

Do I love people out of shame or use shame to change them? Am I the person who builds others up or tears them down?  Do I notice my shame, how it feels and hurts so that I can ease it in another? Do I love the unloved?   Do I mentally shake my finger at the mistakes of others or do I realize there could be more to the story?  This is grace. I believe in it, yet I don’t believe I have practiced it well.  It’s time.

In order to begin to live this different life of mine, I have had to breathe grace.  Grace is the space that allows me to heal and to forgive myself.  It prevents me from spending the day curled up in my bed, from believing I am less of a mom because there must have been something I could have done.  Grace has allowed me to be imperfect while still doing my best. 

Grace has grown in me.  It is the space in my heart between black and white.  The gray that creates playfulness in the decisions I make.  The gray of letting go of the need to judge.  The gray space of listening without having to fix. The gray of finding the silly in life’s serious.  The gray that keeps me from making all my decisions dilemmas. The gray that feels like freedom.  This has never been me; I’ve never been a person who found it easy to offer gray space.  But I’m practicing. Gray is my life color these days.  It’s calming and caressing.

I hope to cover myself and those I love in GRAY….CE.  Will you join me?

On the road

I once thought my life would follow the crisp and clean look of black and white like a road set in asphalt with it’s white edges moving me along through the life I planned and dreamed of.  Instead it has been a path, soft and hard, molded around the falls of the trees; guided by the rocks and the roots that creep from the ground and the shifting soil that has responded to what the season has shared.  The path of course is more beautiful, filled with emotion, ups and downs, trips, falls and failures and separation from those loved. It offers trials with lessons begging to be learned, challenges waiting to be solved, and moments to share stories of those who walk, faithful and courageous, stories of miracles had and hoped for.

 It’s really amazing and without this last year, I think I would have missed the path. I would be traveling on the road too fast trying to get somewhere with the least amount of discomfort and inconvenience.  I would still be heeding arbitrary and lifeless man made beliefs and rules of not enough that I had created and placed on others and myself.  Instead, I have slowed to marvel in the lives around me, the messy, imperfect, and yet the most beautiful lives reflected in the people who have been placed in my path.  In this awesome challenge called life, I thank you and Beau for walking with me. Who might you thank today? 

 

winding_road_5

Dance anyway

I love to hear the stories of the person behind the counter, the colleague at the meeting, the neighbor, the waiter, and the stranger.  They are all beautifully different and yet the same, I haven’t heard any without heartache. 

Today I listened to the woman behind the coffee counter who spoke eagerly of her plan to “dance the night away” at a summer concert.  The breeze was warm and the sky was colorful, it was the perfect night to be swept away by musical geniuses.

We heard the windows lock, the doors close and the last employee leave.  She spun her body slightly as the click to the door took and she headed towards her car.  We asked if she too was going dancing at the concert. She said, “no I’m not going to the concert……but I’m dancing anyway”.  I repeated in a whisper, “dance anyway, I love that”.  

Beau would like that, I thought to myself. 

Nearing the end of a year I have grieved the loss of his smile, hugs, and laugh.  I would love to renew my motherly tears shed when he struggled here on earth, paired with prayers for his heart. I would love to somehow have a do-over when it comes to miscommunications, words spoken or unspoken. I would love to see the uniting of Beau with his brother and sister, to spend Christmas together, to sit quietly by the fire drinking his favorite tea, commending his strength, resilience, his sensitivity, his artistry and passionate heart.  He would want that too.  However, for this uniting I must wait. 

I remind myself, my family and I have danced pretty well this year. For myself, there were times between the silent wailing of my spirit, I danced joyfully to the tune of this life and Beau would be proud.  So, today I will dance anyway, no matter my circumstance and I will be an encourager to others struggling to dance their dance.

Will you dance anyway?

C’est Beau

P-Town 208

Moonlight

More amazing than moonlight

The kayak slid into the water, quiet and stealth. The lake was still, mirror like abandoned after a day of hosting speedboats and rafts, jumping children and dogs fetching sticks. My oars dropped into the water, ripples moving out to touch the shore. There was no wind so gliding was easy.  Getting to a favorite place on the lake was effortless.

The only light came from the moon; it imitated the glow from a door partially opened that offers just enough light to ground you in the delirious wake of the nighttime.  A section of the water was glistening.  The silhouette of the trees were dark, the inset of their reverse lay in the water like a shadow drawn in charcoals on a beautiful piece of art.  To feel such quietness and peace was nearly overwhelming.  To be in such solitude was magical.  To be myself, no person noticing me, no one to care for as they all rested in the night.  There was only God and time to listen.

The cloud drifting in, teasing of a storm was shaped of a hand, reaching over or towards, either was good at the moment.  I felt it was just that, a hand reminding me who carries me. For an hour I drifted, paddled, sat and gazed from moon to sky to water. He had placed such beauty for my enjoyment. Tears made of stories so final and painful were replaced with gratitude and delight; the open sky reminding me of the big picture of life on earth and of home in heaven.  

I sometimes want to make sense of all this, of life’s jabs, nudges, pushes, rips of the heart, it’s pushing and pulling.  I want to struggle and resist, when if I only quit and drift in silence and prayer I might notice what it gives. Tonight I was reminded that if God created the moon with all it’s beauty to enjoy, how much He must care for us all. How true it is he watches over us.  The moon is awesome. And you, you are more amazing than the moon!

                                                                                                moonlight-canoe-trip

Pennies on the tracks

The stillness crept up my spine. The wind in the trees beckoned me to listen to the heavens. I looked up from the train tracks at the railroad ties glistening with oil and tar and smelling of the same.  The tallest fir tree waved gently at me.  Just then a strong breeze blew through, one that caught me by surprise.  My hair blew off my face and the clear sky lay over me. I remember once my beautiful son telling me that God spoke to him in the wind one day while he was camping.  I believe him. And today, my son speaks to me, I promise to listen.

It was eerie, standing on train tracks.  At one time in my life, hearing the metal-to-metal contact of wheels on tracks was soothing.  The rumbling from miles away was a reminder that not all things change.  The train was a piece of my life that was constant and even on a schedule.  It was safe.

But life does change and the train is something I am learning to love again.  It could easily be the place that my son and I would revisit now recalling him as a child laying pennies on the tracks.  Back then we would watch with delight as the train rolled over them, leaving behind a shiny treasure.  But today I revisit it as the place where he lost his life traumatically while searching for himself.

In this moment I am grateful for the lessons he continues to teach me. I have come to understand more clearly that he was an individual caught in the cycle of shame, feeling worthless and broken inside but speaking boldly on the outside. He walked on earth with such sensitivity, sometimes silently and sometimes with intensity screaming for the understanding of those who loved him.

There are many who have walked this similar journey and have not lived to share.

There are also those who chose to run from the imprisonment of shame and fight for their lives, bringing to the rest of us encouragement, faith, inspiration and hope. Today I commend you.  Although I may not know your story, I know you are amazing.

And to those of us who have yet to fight what we believe is the fight of our lives, there are people who have gone before us.  People who are placed here to teach us; people whom God has prepared to love on us.  Maybe today, be willing to reach out an invite someone on your journey with you.

And for all of us….. be confident, that in our ever-changing story, not yet finished,  God has promised all will be well.

C'est Beau! 

gigantic-chunk-of-railroad-track-stolen-in-massachusetts-workers-have-never-seen-anything-like-it.jpg

 

 

Rocks

I gently place my bare feet one after another over a trail scattered with rocks. I plan each step to offer me the most comfort in getting to my destination. At the same time I wonder, why is it that I don’t put my shoes on? It could be laziness; that’s totally possible.

But no, there is something more. This ritual of walking barefoot as often as I can, winter over snow, spring in the puddles and fall on the crisp sidewalks to retrieve the mail, has more meaning. I realize summer is no exception.

One step placed in the perfect spot brings the shifting of soft dust to cover my toes; two of these successful steps in a row are a total accomplishment, something to savor! Others to follow find rocks pressing against and threatening harm to my slightly callused feet; these steps cause me to flinch and my toes to curl. I hold my breath in order to stuff a screech that I would like to let loose to echo in the silence of the forest. And so it goes. Each step offers something new

I love this connection with the dirt and it’s apparent simplicity that God laid before me. I love that His beautiful creation tugs my heart towards a more prayerful moment. I love that others of all ages have walked there too; many walked barefoot just like me. I love that this imperfect path causes me to feel beyond my comfortI feel pain, I feel childlike, I feel foolish, I feel brave, I feel tickled, I feel strong, I feel nostalgic, I feel light and heavy, I feel challenged, I feel faithful….

Sometimes we work so hard to avoid feeling in life, don’t we?  Yet, to usher in feeling is to acknowledge life and to feel beyond comfort is courageous.   Today I practice feeling with my feet in the dirt and rocks. Tomorrow life may offer me a another path, unchartered, unplanned, filled with intensity, anticipation, hope, pain, happiness, sadness or joy beyond belief.  I don’t know what is coming, but today…..I practiced.

 

Blog picture

 

What feeling will you bravely usher in today?

What if?

What if

Questions have the ability to seek requests, to gather information, to guide us to a destination, to offer more questions, to give us answers.  However, sometimes the questions we ask ourselves take the form of lashing and incessant badgering of not enough.  They might begin like this,

What if I were just better, a better person, a better …
What if I were a different person….
What if I had more….
What If I was more……
What if I had less of (in my case it would be fat!)
What if I could find…..
What if only God had given me…….

What if we a stopped? What if we used questions to ask something greater? What if we used them to meet the needs of others?   What if we took a risk and listened to the words we desire to hear, to our longings, to our gifts.  What if we found some way to give what we so desire or what we have and offer it to someone else?  What if we asked a more beautiful question? 

I suspect these more beautiful questions sound of wind chimes, of laughter, of sighs of relief, much lighter than the constant pounding and darkness of the badgering. They move us out of living in lack.  They move us to a place of praise, gratitude and hope. They are easy to answer right at the moment, no waiting no wondering, and no agonizing. They create relationship and generate compassion. They might sound like this:

What if I took time to listen to God’s calling?
What if in my next conversation today, I was absolutely present?
What if I could teach someone something they had been requesting to learn?
What if I stood up and did a dance right now and celebrated life?
What if I practiced my hugs today?
What if I shared my gratitude with someone for something specific they did for me to meet my needs?
What if I could listen for the bid underneath someone’s words today?
What if I took a risk and created something to share?

 

What is your more beautiful question?