When I was a young girl, I dreamed of the things I would do and the places I would go when I got older. At one time I thought I would move to Germany, and while there, I was going to marry a German man and live happily ever after. I discovered the German language in junior high school, fell in love with the country and I still love it today. Well, part of the dream came true. Bob comes from a strong German background, and we have lived happily ever after. As to moving away, well that didn’t happen.
Bob and I have both lived here since we were very young, and after marriage, we have stayed right in the same town. He had a good job, and our families were here, so we just never moved away. As the years went quickly by, the kids grew up and had families and stayed right here. We would never want to leave the kids and grandkids. Then our parents were suddenly older, and we were needed to help them. The time to move away…well, it became just a distant memory.
I suppose many people would think I missed out on a lot by living in the same place as I grew up. By never moving away and living somewhere exciting. But, while my life might seem boring to some, I have had the benefit of a close family. My mother was born here, and spent all her life here except the first five years of her marriage. Her family have all lived here except for a couple of them who lived away for short periods of time. See, I bowl with my cousins. My family has a family Christmas party every year, and we have to rent a hall to hold us all. My boss says I’m related to half the town, and he might not be far off. Many of my clients are relatives. I work with my daughter and granddaughter. I attend the sporting events of my grandsons. It takes three rows of chairs to hold our family at church on Sundays. I might run into my family at the mall or Walmart. Many of my friends on Facebook are relatives. And, my sisters are some of my best friends.
Yes, my life has been spent surrounded by family in one form or another. I grew up around grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I guess some people would think that boring, but there is something to be said for knowing what is going on in your family’s life. Something to be said for getting to know the babies, and knowing your grandparents through the years. Something to be said for being there for the good times and the bad times. Something to be said for being where you are needed. Yes, some people would say I have really missed out on life, but to that I would have to say, “I haven’t missed a thing. I have been blessed with the best life there is. A life of contentment, knowing right where I belong.”
I have been blessed a number of times in my life with what could only be classified as an unlikely friendship. These would be friends you find where you would least expect, or people you would least expect to be your friends. We’ve probably all had friends like these.
Often, as we get further and further from our high school days, we are able to look back at people we would not have been friends with because we were in different circles. Now, all that doesn’t matter anymore, and you are able to see things you have in common, and with that, a friendship is able to grow.
Sometimes, some of the dearest friends are the children of friends who have now grown up. Now while I’m sure most of you could not imagine some of your friends children as friends, but I have been blessed with a very dear friend whose mother was also a very dear friend. And I established that friendship after about 25 years had lapsed since I had seen her mom. Very unlikely.
Once in a while friendships are born between people who have never met, but were drawn together for a variety of reasons. I have met friends due to an error in an email address, the sadness of loss, and mutual faith. These friendships have become very dear to me, even though all we have of each other, is the internet, some letters, and a picture, but the blessings have been so great, and I an so grateful.
And sometimes, someone you would never expect to be your friend, becomes your friend through a random act of your kindness. Acts of kindness reach so much further than we expect or could ever know. You simply filled a need, answered a call…you were there. And from such a small thing, grew a friendship that will last a lifetime.
There is really no way to do justice to what these friendships mean to me. I’m sure by my stories some of my friends will see themselves. I just hope they will also be able to see how important they are to me and how dearly I love each and every one of them.
Most of my life is spent running here and there. I help care for my mom, and my in-laws, I work, I go to as much of my grandchildren’s activities as I can, Bob and I walk 2 hours 5 days a week, and we bowl. Basically, we live our life, but once in a while, I like to spend a lazy Saturday just sitting around in the quiet, maybe reading my Kindle…doing nothing really.
I think everyone needs a day, now and then, that is just for self. Our lives are so busy these days. You watch shows about the west, and while they worked hard, it just seemed like a more peaceful, easy time than today. The work day ended and the family spent time together reading, sewing or listening to someone play music. There was no rush to go here and there.
I guess those feelings of wanting a lazy day, is why Bob and I like being out in the wilderness areas of the Black Hills…hiking. There is no schedule, no hurry, no cars, and few people. That’s what it’s all about. Now while many of you might not consider hiking to be in the lazy day catagory, but it certainly is in that, all thought of responsibility is gone, and it is just you and God’s beautiful creation. That is what puts it in the lazy day catagory!
Now, remember summer vacation when you were a kid. School was out for 3 months. The weather was warm. The air fragrant with flowery scents. The breeze was gentle. You had no cares. No job to go to. No homework. Just days and days of freedom to play, and very little chores to do. It was a time to rejuvenate. Looking back, I think, “Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?” I wouldn’t want to go through the whole growing up process again, but really, who wouldn’t love to go back in time for just one more lazy day of summer?
A few years ago, I found myself sinking into depression. There was so much going on in my life that I had no control over, and I was stressed out to say the least. This situation was so new to me. I had always been a happy person, and now I was becoming angry and bitter, and I didn’t like it one bit, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. My situation had taken on a life of it’s own.
After my Dad passed away in December of 2007, I found myself feeling like there wasn’t much to live for. It wasn’t like I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so sad, that I couldn’t find anything to be happy about. We had fought so hard to get Dad back to health, and we were winning, and then his liver failed, and he was gone. It shook my whole world. Nothing was right, and it wouldn’t ever be right again. Even though I know that my Dad was saved, and I will see him again in Heaven, I missed him so much, and I still do, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to continue on in this depressed state.
I had to find a way back to life. I began to pray for help…for a way back. The Lord guided me first to begin eating better, thereby giving me more energy. Then the Lord began to encourage me to get outside and walk. I started walking on the trail near our home, and slowly began to feel like the fresh air and beauty of God’s creation, and the time spent talking with the Lord began to heal my spirit. I continue to look forward to the warmer months when I can get back outside and recharge again.
I still miss my Dad terribly, but I have been able to move forward with my life. I know I will see him again in Heaven, and I very much look forward to that day, but I know that I have a job to do here. My work here is not done. I am needed here. And my Dad would want me to live a full life.
I know that my life will always have it’s challenges, but the Lord is always there for me. He is my source of strength. I know many people might not find that to be true for them, but they have not been down the road I have. They have not seen the Lord help them to find the way back.
My husband and I had the rare opportunity, at least for January in Wyoming, to take a walk outside on the trail near our home. The day was beautiful. It was 59 degrees out and no wind, which is another rarity for Winter in Wyoming. We love to hike and walk the trails in our area. To be one with nature and just enjoy each other’s company.
We walked along with snow on the sides of the trail, and the occasional passerby on the trail. We know most of these people as it is usually the same people out walking. There is a camaraderie among the walkers. Most say “Hello” and then move back into their peaceful thought world, as do we. It is easy to walk side by side here in total silence, because that is how it feels on the trail. It’s not really a place for lots of small talk…normally.
As we walk along, suddenly there is an outburst of noise. We are at the spot in the trail where there is a house that has a hedge of bushes that always seems to be filled with birds, all chirping at once. A place we have dubbed “the clubhouse” because there are so many birds there year round. As we listen my thoughts wander back to my blog, as a story begins to form in my head…a story of nature’s version of Twitter.
When you are gone, what will people remember about you? Most people don’t want to think about dying, and I don’t either, but I do think about what memories people might have of me when I am gone. I think about the loved ones and friends who have gone before me, and the memories I have of them, and how I would compare. My Dad was a person who never carried a grudge and taught his children never to “let the sun go down on your wrath” which he got from the Bible, as God was the most important thing in his life, above even family, as I also believe God should be. My grandparents who were always giving to those in need and showing kindness to all, also come to mind. My friend Char, who would defend a friend to the very end, is another. So, what will people think of me?
I want to be a giver to those in need, because I have been blessed in so many ways. I have a good job with a wonderful boss, though he hates that word. I have a wonderful family who I love dearly, and I have the great blessing of knowing that I am loved back. I have a sharp mind, and I know the value of that, because my mother-in-law and my uncle both have Alzheimer’s. I have been richly blessed, and if I can pass that along in charitable acts or other ways of helping people, than I will have maybe shown my gratitude to a small degree.
I have the ability to be sharp tongued sometimes, and that is something I don’t think I want to be remembered for. I think I would rather be remembered for my sharp mind and maybe the ability to use it to benefit others. Maybe to be some kind of advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves on some things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a different job, but if I can help others within my job and my daily life, then maybe I will have a legacy to leave.
I do have the ability to be a caregiver, and I can only hope that in the future I may be able to do it with kindness and patience. Care giving can be very wearing on the caregiver, and there are times we lose our patience. I am very thankful that I have never physically lashed out, but here again, remember that I can be sharp tongued, so I would have to say that there are many ways to lash out, forgive me Lord. I am learning patience, but the lessons can take time to learn. I don’t want to be remembered as an impatient, screaming daughter, who made the remaining years of her parents or in-laws miserable. Please help me to never let that happen Father. Rather I want to be remembered as a daughter who helped her parents and in-laws through their elder years by giving them respect and kindness and dignity.
And most importantly I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren, the Christian values I was taught as a child and continue to learn as an adult. There is nothing greater that I could pass on to them than the knowledge and wisdom that is contained in the Bible, and the importance of daily study and church attendance. I want them to know that the single most important thing they can do and teach their children to do, is to have a personal relationship with God and to personally know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There is nothing more important.
These are some of the things I hope people will remember about me when I go home to be with the Lord. What do you want to be remembered for?
How do you relax? There are as many ways to “get away from it all” as there are people, but for me, the answer is hiking. I love to get out in the forest following a trail, just to see where it will take me. It is so quiet and peaceful. The birds chirping and the occasional butterfly flitting by, just serve to enhance the beauty of the moment. I’m not really a winter person, though I live in a state that sure gets it, but I live for late spring through early fall, when I can get out on the trail with my husband and just enjoy nature at its finest.
We have hiked many trails over the years, but by far our favorite is the trail to Harney Peak in the Black Hills. This is not an easy trail, and definitely not for those who aren’t in good shape, but it is so worth it. On this trail, you will find yourself deep in the forest of the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hills. It is a well traveled trail, but there are many times that you are by yourselves. And the views along the way are breathtaking. When you get to the top, there is a fire tower that used to be manned, but after it was struck by lightning, resulting in fires, several times, they decided it wasn’t the best place for a fire tower. So it became a favorite destination for hikers and horse back riders. The top of the peak is 7242 feet above sea level, which is the highest point East of the Rocky Mountains until you get to the Swiss Alps. The climb takes you up 1142 feet and is 6.8 miles round trip. It takes us 4 hours to make the whole trip, however we always spend at least an hour on top having lunch. The view from up there is completely amazing. You can see 5 states from the top. It is a trip I can never take too many times. We have taken the hike 6 times, and plan to continue to go once a year. Now that is my idea of relaxation.
Hiking has not only been good for me physically, and I have to stay in shape to be able to continue to hike, so it is a really good motivator, but sometimes I think it has saved my sanity. In such a busy world, it is nice to get back to nature so that you can unwind. I highly recommend it.
Many people are busy making…and breaking New Years Resolutions this time of year, but mostly breaking them. Why is it that people have an obsession with New Years Resolutions? Of course, it is really an obsession to improve ourselves, but unfortunately the resolution is rarely combined with the main ingredient needed to achieve success…will power. If we really think about it waiting for New Years Day to start making our improvements is actually the biggest indicator of it’s future failure. If we really want to improve ourselves, and we are determined to succeed, we wouldn’t want to wait for the new year to get started. That is truly the procrastinator’s dream. The idea is that if we have a deadline, somehow we will miraculously develop the necessary will power to succeed, when in reality we spend the interim making our situation worse, but trying to squeeze as much of the bad behavior into our lives before the deadline. It’s during that time that many people gain 10 pounds, or smoke more cigarettes than they normally would. Just the thought of having to quit always seems to serve only to increase the bad behavior in anticipation of losing it. And then, to top it off, most people give up on the New Years Resolution by February. The main reason for that is a serious lack of real commitment to reaching our goal in the first place. If you are really determined to change your situation for the better, you wouldn’t wait. You would make the decision to do it today…no matter how far that is into the year or how close it is to the end of the year. Waiting one more day is the key to failure. Making or not making a New Years Resolution is entirely a personal choice, but usually the need to change presents itself far before the new year, so if you find yourself needing to make some changes, just do it now. Don’t plan to do it later, because very likely you never will.
As this year dissolves into the next, I find myself reflecting on the things that have happened in the past year. This was a year of many changes, and some very sad moments. I don’t always deal well with change, and I can say that really, I don’t like it much, but some changes are good ones. One of the agents at work retired, and that has opened the door for me to step into some career changes. I was apprehensive at first, but I find that I like the new work I am doing. I will have to carve out my place again, since this is a different arena than the type of policies I was writing before, and much more difficult to sell, it would seem. I know I can do it, it is just a matter of setting my mind to it, and learning the ropes. My daughter has also made some changes, in that she is now licensed and doing the job I used to do. Her daughter is also working for us now, and that has been a big help, as taking Amy out of the secretary position potentially left us with a backlog of clerical work, which Shai is tackling very well, if I might say so. All in all, I would say that the changes at work will be really good ones once we all get settled into our new positions.
Christopher has kept Corrie, Kevin and me quite busy going to as many games as possible. He is becoming quite an athlete, and has made us very proud. Josh went to his first dance, and had a very nice time, and in the new year he will be keeping us busy in the sports arena as well. Caalab has taken to playing the guitar and is getting quite good at it. I think he would own 20 guitars if he could afford them. Travis is also in a band now, and they have played several gigs this year. Bob has spent most of the year doing what he always does…working on cars, but at least I know where to find him. All in all, my family is doing very well, and any changes there are good ones too.
Loss, on the other hand is much harder to get used to. This year we have had to say good bye to several friends, and my niece’s darling little baby daughter. Loss is always so hard. Our hearts feel like they will never heal and the pain just lingers on and on. Nothing you say can help change the pain and sadness that loss brings, especially the loss of a child. It changes you forever. You will never again feel the innocent joy of having a child, because you know how quickly that joy can change into indescribable pain. It saddens me deeply to see my niece and nephew-in-law in so much pain. They are normally such happy people, and now there is a new look behind the smiles they wear…sadness. Even their smiles show it. It can’t be masked. It will be a long time before that will soften.
This year marked 3 years since my Dad went home to be with the Lord. It doesn’t seem possible that he has been gone 3 years. I still miss him terribly each and every day. He was a stablizing factor in the lives of our family. You knew that he would always know what to do in any given situation. You felt secure in that knowledge. He was the leader of our family, in every way, but mostly spiritually. He taught us the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord, along with our Mom. They lead by example, and we always knew that above all, we must reach out to the Lord, our Savior, and for that I will be eternally grateful. They also taught us not to harbor anger…never let the sun go down on your wrath, forgive and make amends before you went to bed. A good thing for all of us to do. I can only hope that in some small way, my Dad’s legacy will live on in the way that I live my life…at least that is my goal, to live a life that would make my Dad proud.
As 2010 draws to a close, I can only hope that 2011 is filled with joyful times and void of sad times. So as the January 1, 2011 dawns, I wish all of my family and friends a very blessed and happy New Year!!
Bob and I sold our elliptical today. So, we have been trying to take it apart for easier transfer to it’s new home. Do you think we can find any instructions? Of course not!! Why is it that when you have something that you know might be important later on, you put it somewhere “safe” and when you need it, it is so “safe” that you never find it again. I seem to have this problem a lot. Somewhere in my house, there is a very secret stash of really important stuff staying very, very safe from ME!!! That is just wrong!!!