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Posts Tagged ‘#wonder’

Recently one of my daughters and I went for a walk with the beast, on my favorite trail. It was not a bright sun-shiny day, but it was not raining, and in monsoon season here, that is great weather!

As we were coming to the end of our walk, there was a woman with a girl, who looked to be about four, coming towards us. As they were getting closer, I experienced a strong case of deja vu. The little girl, clad in a pink raincoat, and matching rain boots, was puddle jumping.

Immediately, I was carried back to the days when my own kids were preschoolers, out for a walk with the sole intend of puddle jumping after the rain stopped. I remembered the various rain boots and coats, the childish umbrellas, and … the smiles of delight as they approached a fresh, undisturbed puddle, as they plotted and planned how to move as much water as they could in one leap.

I remembered their wonder-filled smiles, and I felt that tug on my mama heart, that tug that said ‘I miss that’, ‘I long for that look, that feeling, again.’

Then I realized that my daughter, at my side, was taking the same wonder-filled delight in the experience that we were both observing. She is almost fifteen, and is all teenage girl. But she is not above the delightful moments of life. She is still filled with awe at the sight of a puddle and a pair of rubber boots. She is still filled with wonder.

Sometimes, as a mom of teens, it is easy to allow my thoughts of when they were young, linger in my mind. Sometimes, as a mom of teens, I forget that the inquisitive, wide-eyed, wonder-filled person I knew in them a dozen or so years ago, is still there. What has changed is that I need to readjust my expectations of how that wonder is expressed.

In my nineteen year old, the wonder might be the way she described the group interview for a position at a camp for kids with cancer. In my twelve year old son, it might be the “advanced graphic for it’s time” in an old N64 James Bond Movie. For my fifteen year old, it might be sharing a moment of delight as we watch a little one jump into a puddle, without a care in the world.

Maybe, like how I delight in a day without rain, even though it is still cloudy, I need to look actively for the moments of wonder in my teens days. Maybe then, when I am a grandma, watching my grandchild jumping in puddles, I will see a mom and her teen walking towards us. I will see them delighting in the joy my grandchild is having. I will see the wonder on that teens face, and I will remember the shared wonder I had with my teen, and it will make me long for those days too.

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I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

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I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

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What a week our household ended April with! What a wonder-filled week!

The week began with our youngest daughter starting her final practicum, in her quest to complete her Special Education Teaching Assistant (SETA) course. 

This time she is placed in a high school, even working with a couple of students who were actually born before her. Challenge is the key God uses, most often, to unlock our most hidden gifts. I pray she opens her door wide and shares her strength, building her character, and using it as a tool to open the locks on her the students she encounters.

Though she intends to continue her education, she will soon be unleashed from this program, certified to work with those students in the margins. Using what she has learned, and who God created her to be, to do her job. She will do her job so very well, for she has been gifted to see strengths in the weak.

I know she is eyeing freedom, desiring to share an apartment with friends, living her life independent from mom and dad.

Last Monday night I sat in a dark gymnasium, heart in my throat, as I anticipated the start of the high school play in which my son was acting. 

The story, by George Orwell, called 1984, has been a time of stretching for my boy-man. My ‘baby boy’ traded in his sweet and affectionate nature for the pure evil of O’Brian. Each performance he had to get in touch with his carnal dark side … yelling, torturing, destroying. 

A couple of weeks ago it was getting to him, greatly. The character of O’Brian was invading him, extinguishing the light with it’s smothering darkness. I prayed. I asked others to pray. Then, last week, the dark was being pushed out by the light. 

The most heart-warming moment of the week was when, as I was chatting with a mom of another character, who I had not seen or spoken to in months. She asked how my son was, because, just days before, her daughter came home saying that they really needed to pray for him, because his character was getting to him. Is there any greater gift, for a parent, than to be told someone is praying for your child?

His efforts and the cost to him payed off in full, as he interpreted well Owell’s character. His (5) performances were believable and authentic. The entire cast depicted the evils of this story so well, and the entire cast, crew and director were as authentic in their support and care for each other.

He is now, once again, fully himself. O’Brien is gone, may his character be gone forever, may his lessons forever be remembered.

That week ended in an event centre, watching our eldest cross the stage, have her tassel moved from one side to another, receive a diploma, and pose for a picture.

That short walk was the culmination of six years of hard work … her hard work. I found myself hearing the song If it Hadn’t Been for You, from the musical, Anne of Green Gables, as her name was read to cross the stage.

It was she, who earned the double major (Sociology and Psychology) degree, by studying hard, writing mountains of papers, and working numerous jobs along the way, to pay for half of her schooling costs (the government of Canada helped with the rest … but this too falls in her lap).

As Miss Stacey said, “why she did it herself, with imagination and determination”

I hold on to a fair measure of parent guilt, for encouraging her to pursue education at such an expensive university, and having little to contribute to it’s costs. Though I do know she received a wonderful education, by the relationships she has made, and will continue to have with her profs, who educated, encouraged, challenged and cared for my girl.

The world is now an open book to her. She is well on her way, making plans for the future, her future. Her plans, though not solidified, are to move away. This makes my heart ache, and soar all at the same time. For “hope is the thing with feathers” (Dickinson).

These are the memories of that wonder-filled week. That week that was the culmination of much patience, for each of my children. The practise of patience will continue, throughout our lives. May my three have the patience to pursue what they hope for, all the days of their lives.

 

Romans-8.25

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This is a re-post from about four years ago … but the memories shared here are remembered every spring.

I lost it, and I don’t know where …

I lost it, and I don’t know why …

I lost it, and I’ll never get it back …

It was my creation, my gift, and there is no way to ever fully re-create it 😦

Now, if you know me, you might think I am talking about my losing my marbles … and … you are probably right. But the loss I am talking about is my original post called “Love = Pussy Willows.”

I wrote it, as a gift for my parents, who DID both read the original… before it got lost in cyberspace. But, I wanted to keep it … for me, for my kids. So that when my mom and dad are no longer on this earth, we could be reminded of the legacy of thoughtful, kind and even romantic love, that they shared for each other, and left for us to duplicate in our own lives.

And so, here I go, trying to re-create that which I’ve already created, and is now gone. I feel a bit like I am one of the scientists who created/cloned Dolly the sheep. I am consulting my sieve-like brain cells for what I can recall (not much hope there). I am mixing memories, words and thoughts with the hopes of a carbon copy result. I even consulted others who also read my post, for what stood out to them. The problem is, that as a writer/creator I cannot duplicate my creation perfectly – I may have all of my childhood memories, phrases I remember writing and the help of others, but I can not go back in time.

I cannot duplicate the humidity or temperature of weather on the day I wrote it. I cannot duplicate the food I ate, the exercise I did or didn’t do, or my hormonal levels of that day. I cannot perfectly replicate the motivation I had for writing it.

So, all that said … just like Dolly the sheep, I might have all the exact pieces to clone my post … but, me, as the creator, will never, ever feel it is possible to look on the clone as anything but a cheap imitation of the real thing.

But, all that said, her I go … again.

My parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary on July 24 of this summer. I am so proud of them … (I’ve been married about half that, and I know that each day provides a new opportunity to re-choose my hubby … and he to re-choose me … and lets get real, there are many days we would like to return the other for a refund).

Mom and Dad are a fairly average married couple. They have loved, fought, struggled, and survived each other.

I was blessed to know romantic, but true, deep love and affection through them … and pussy willows.

My memories of pussy willows are so vivid, so clear, and they go as far back as when I was four or five … but they happened for many years!

In the spring my dad would be driving down a country road, usually taking out weekly trash to the ‘Dump’, or driving to my grandmothers house. And, all of a sudden he would pull over to the side of the road and get our out of the car.

Then he would be in the ditch, unaware of the presence of water, or spiders or snakes (yuck!). And he would reach out for what he was after … pussy willows.

Now this was the spring time ritual for my dad, And, as an adult, I have to say he has the eye for the perfectly developed (not too soon, not too late) pussy willows. I always seem to find them as they are just opening, or once they have gone to seed!

But the ritual didn’t end with a bouquet in his thorn punctured hands, and soggy wet feet. No, mom had her part to play as well.

When dad arrived home, with his freshly cut bouquet, he would beckon mom to the door.

And, every year her response was the same, “Oh Denny, pussy willows.” and then that ever-embarrassing (for any child who has hoped and prayed that the stork truly was responsible for the reproduction of humans) hug and kiss … and gaze into each others eyes (I can hear the adolescent within me say “blech”).

Then mom would scurry to the ‘special’ golden-yellow vase, where last years bouquet of pussy willows (cob webs and all), would still be. She would discard the old, and arrange the new bouquet to perfection. Then, the special golden-yellow vase would be set out on display.

The whole experience of the the pussy willows sticks in my head because of how they were GIVEN, and how they were RECEIVED, by each of my parents. If my mom had pestered my dad to go get her a new bouquet … the receiving wouldn’t have been as a gift, but a duty. And if my mom stuck the bouquet in just any old vase, and discarded them after a ‘respectable’ amount of time … the giving wouldn’t have been received in the manner they were given.

I love this way that my parents, unaware, taught me about giving and receiving. And I hope they can receive this post in the spirit it was intended … that of a gift to show my love.

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“You could write about something cheery, for a change.”
(insert sword to the gut)

Those were the words of my daughter last weekend, as I was writing a blog post. I thought I had, but maybe the effects of monsoon season in the Pacific Northwest had gotten to me, and I have been seeing the cup half empty far too frequently. So, here goes, sunshine and lollipops are on there way!

As soon as our conversation finished the word ‘wonder’ surfaced in my mind.

Maybe it is a matter of getting back to the things that are foundational, the things that are imperative in my life. Things that make me wonder make my heart skip a beat, put a smile on my face, and breath fresh air into my lungs (and soul). To  be in a state of wonder is to be reminded that someone else holds the reigns of my life, and that He delights in the way small things can bring me joy, can remind me of His omniscience.

Things like:

  • a sunrise or sunset, bursting with color
  • a spider web covered in morning dew
  • spring bulb plants, poking through the soil
  • a shared joke, complete with full belly laughter
  • standing at a sandy waters edge as the tide pushes forward
  • an elderly couple holding hands
  • putting my arm around my beast, and feeling her lean in
  • the sight of an eagle soaring in sky
  • the sound of coyotes at night
  • a spontaneous hug from any of my kids
  • the scent of my mom
  • snow falling

There are many more things to wonder at! These are the things one cannot buy, the things that one cannot make happen easily. These things, experiences that make us wonder, remind us that we know so little, that our world is so vast.

Ray Bradbury said,

“Stuff your eyes with wonder,
live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.”

The blessing of wonder, is the blessing resulting from curiosity, and from the ability to look for beauty and delight in the world around us.

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I remember vividly, many years ago, being in an elementary classroom, and hearing an adult say,

“This is not right. Bears are not purple.”

I watched the, previously excited and proud, child turn away,

dejected,

disappointed,

disillusioned with her own perspective.

I would guess that what that young child heard was “you are not right.”

My heart sank, as I watched a child lose the wonder, the joy, the colors available through that which the Creator, himself had made available. She also lost confidence in her own perspective of the world in which she lives.

To lose so much, so young, is to have their creativity questioned, their perspective doubted and it diminishes the value and passion for wonder.

As if this blog’s name of itsawonderfilledlife, does not adequately stress how strongly I value the practice of wonder, the following quote is noted on my “About Me” page, and is a reminder to me of how life-giving wonder can be:

“He who can no longer pause to wonder

and stand rapt in awe,

is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”

Albert Einstein

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May we encourage wonder, in children, in adults, in ourselves, so that we see can see how vast, how colorful this created world is for those who choose to pause.

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