Life is Beautiful

We moved to this lovely mid-west town, affectionately known as The Burg, two and a half years ago. Little did we know that we would fall in love with this town and it’s people.

Sure, it has it’s frustrations like all relationships, but the people here and the countryside puts you right back into perspective.

Shortly before we moved here we met a great couple that were part of us feeling at home. We became fast friends.

Early in our relationship we found that the wife, Shirley, had been battling cancer. We became fast warriors in prayers of complete recovery.

Complete recovery can have perspectives just like a painting. We never seem to see all the outcome or the image at once. Some see victory on earth, some see the battle and the hard work associated with it, and some see the victory being the dance and the songs in the courts of Heaven.

As humans we would like the earthly answer. It’s where we are now. So many have overcome the ravages of cancer and some the overcoming came too early and continues in eternity with no more pain.

That was our Shirley. I had plans with our friendship. We were going to tramp through woods and see wildlife. She was going to feed them as I took pictures. I chuckle as I write this. Not to mention her husband and her children and grand children had plans of a future together.

We just don’t know. As a Christian I believe in healing. I’ve seen healing. I believe we can, scripture says, raise the dead. But sometimes that terrible, yet beautiful, mystery of our God takes us to where we  humans do not want to go. Death.

If we could just step back and see our life here, on this earth, is a part of the picture. Our lives continue into eternity. It hurts to lose. I know this.

As painful as it is I get to still be a part of the earthly tribe. The parts of Shirley that still live one. The heart of her husband that beats with joy, though pained, and a giving heart so big. Her daughter carries her mother’s heart for her own children and husband that shines with faith and love so deep for so many. Her son carries her creativity in levels that go so deep I am sure Shirley is rejoicing over them! And those grand children! An amazing legacy!

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That brings me to the images I want to share. There is a property in Russellville, MO that has been in Shirley’s family for quite a while. It is beautiful! If you go there and sit on the front porch with her son and his wife you feel completely at home.

There is a peace there and a piece there of Shirley’s inheritance that I cannot find words for. There is hope there. There is vision for the future there.

A vision to help those who have struggled to come and farm and learn and use their talents to make their life better. A vision of hope for the hopeless.

As this project develops I will write more about it. But right now I honor Shirley and her inheritance. It is so wonderful to see that it never ends when our pained and broken bodies fail and leave this earth. Life does go on. History teaches us that. Memories are like gold and seeing someone living on in the hearts and talents and actions of those still here is priceless.

In the old barns they found the original tools for farming – made of wood!

Enjoy!

Cate B

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Love Hurts

It’s been about three weeks since we moved into our new town and our new place that we call home.  It has taken me awhile to post with all the unpacking, cleaning and getting things into working condition.

As I have posted before, I have the privilege of helping our youngest son and his lovely wife with their two fantastic daughters while they attend University full time.  That is why my husband and I moved to the small mid-west town that we affectionately refer to as The Burg.

When we found this rental we were getting a bit anxious.  We had been looking for months to no avail.  We had a planned road trip vacation to the east coast coming up the end of June into July and wanted to secure a place before we left.

Well, we did.  And we are thankful to our God for this home.  The Burg is a small college town.  The University takes up a good portion of the center of town, so you will see many students living, well, everywhere and anywhere that will take them outside of dorm living.  It was hard to find a house with a fenced yard for the dogs that wasn’t trashed by intellectual  a house full of students with landlords that really don’t seem to mind.

Aside from securing a home before we went on vacation, I had it in my head to move in a couple of weeks after returning. I wanted our thirteen year old grandson – who was returning with us to Missouri until the first of August – to see where we would be living and to experience our new location.

More on the area next time.  Now for the real reason I’m writing this post.  Love.

Almost fourteen years ago, I had the most amazing experience of my life.  My oldest son’s wife invited me into the birthing room for the birth of her third child, the one who came home with us this year from vacation.  The one I mentioned above.

During his mom’s pregnancy, I talked to her womb often.  I basically said. “Hi.  It’s okay.  I’m here.”  When the moment came and this wonderful little boy popped out into this strange world – he cried.  The nurse took him over to the other side of the room to wash him and weigh him and so on.  He was lying there on a table just crying his lungs out.  I walked over to him and said, “Hi.  It’s okay.  I’m here”. And he stopped crying instantly.  We bonded for the second time at that moment.

This incredibly talented and big hearted boy and I became very close from that moment on.  When we left the east coast, five and a half years ago, my heart tore and cracked.  I didn’t think I could do this journey without him near me.  I was wrong.  My friend Jesus was there every step of the way for both myself and this young lad.

Every time we visit our family there I cry when we leave.  So you can see how important it was for me to have him see where I would be.  So he could have a visual.

Well, on August first, he left me again.  My husband did too.  They flew away together and my husband had business so he was gone for a week.  I thought that it would be a fast moving week because of all the unpacking and such that I had to do.

It was rough.  Here I was in a new town and just the dogs to talk to.  My buddy went home and the tear in my heart hurt.

When I had children my heart grew.  But when I had grandchildren it got stinkin’ big!

I never knew I could love so much.  I never knew that true love can hurt so bad.  We lost a daughter and our hearts exploded.  But our hearts heal.  The scars are there and the cracks and the wounds and cuts are there.  I do believe that these things make our hearts stronger and even bigger…….. if we allow.

There are times I want to close the door to loving someone.  To getting close to friends or loved ones.  I know it’s because I don’t want to hurt if they leave or when they leave.

Driving through town today we saw many parents leaving their kids at the University for the first time.  I saw it on their faces.  It was all too familiar.  You are happy for them and their adventures but your heart is aching and cracking a little as you say goodbye.

It’s part of life as a human.  You have, you have not.  You love, you get hurt.  You give and you take.  We do have a choice.  We can choose to love so much that it feels like the earth flew off it’s axis.  Or, we can decide to with hold love – giving and taking it – so that we will not hurt.  That’s the worst.  I know.  I’ve tried both.  I’d rather risk the hurt than never have loved.

Alfred Lord Tennyson said it well:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

If you have read any of my previous posts you know that I do like adventures.  So here I am, once again, beginning a new adventure.  The University begins classes this Tuesday.  The little lassies will be over to Mammy’s house and we begin a new school year adventure together.  I write this with a tear in my eyes thinking of the journey I am on with these grand daughters.  To be able to be such a part of their life is amazing.  Just as I am a part of my grandson’s life.  We still have that bond – even though he is entering his teen years – I am his Uma and will always be.

Keep your hearts open, my friends.  Love is there, around every bend and in every step we take.  I hope you choose to take the love.

The Glory of Love

You’ve got to give a little, take a little
And let your poor heart break a little
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little
Before the clouds roll by a little
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

As long as there’s the two of you
You’ve got the world and all its charms
And when the world is through with you
You’ve got each other’s arms

You’ve got to win a little, lose a little
And always have the blues a little
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

As long as there’s the two of you
You’ve got the world and all its charms
And when the world is through with you
You’ve got each other’s arms

You’ve got to win a little, lose a little
And always have the blues a little
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

Songwriters
LOVETT, LYLE PEARCE / HILL, WILLIAM J.

 

Enjoy!

cate b

 

So Long, Farewell

In two days we will have moved all our worldly goods out of the KCMO area.  It was a great tour of duty. Moving is exciting to me and exhausting.  It also stirs up all kinds of emotions.

Our last five and half years in this location has been very good, yet very hard in some ways.  I think we felt a bit lost at times.  Trying to find that fit.  Seems that most of the organizations we tried to fit into just didn’t fit quite right.  And that is part of life.  And that is okay.  For the most part we saw the “ill-fit” and moved on.  A couple of things we left scratching our heads, a bit bewildered.  But no worries, we picked ourselves up and dusted our selves off and moved on.

Now, we move physically as well.  It will be a very good thing for us and our family.  But leaving from one town to another stirs up some things for me.  When we left the east coast to come to the mid-west we left family, friends, memories of good and hard times.  All that was stirred up in me the other day.  Memories of a great family loss – https://wingedprisms.com/2012/07/22/our-darkest-day/

It’s odd how our minds and hearts get stirred up at times.  I like it, actually.  Even the painful ones.  They are strangely dear to me.  The memories are a part of me.

So, this is a time to reflect, a time to start anew, a time to look for all the opportunities and adventures the good Lord has for us.

the old mid-west
the old mid-west

I will be off the grid until next week when I look forward to telling you of our new adventures.  Have a great week, Dear Readers.

Enjoy!

cate b

 

A Hard Road to Travel – Happy Chinese New Year

It was late January of 2005.  Our family was grieving the loss of our daughter.  Her memorial was on the 17th of January (you can read our loss journey here –  Darkest Day).  A dear friend looked at us and said, “Don’t you dare cancel your trip to China or I will drive you there myself!”

Now, back track a few months.  We sold a house when the market was high and the first thing we did was purchase two round trip tickets to China to visit our son who was there on a scholarship to learn Mandarin at Shanghai University.  What an opportunity, for both our son and us.  How many times will we know someone who lives in China and speaks the language?  So we seized the moment and bought the tickets.  We got our passports and spent a day in NYC enjoying great food, great Holiday decorations and a trip to the Chinese Consulate to acquire a visa into mainland China.

The twenty-one hour flight from eastern USA to Shanghai (via Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) was fantastic.  I say that because the plane was practically empty.  So we spread out.  We saw Mount Fuji sail by, beautiful.  It was a reflective time for me.  Here we were many miles above the earth and my heart and mind was with my daughter.  I knew she was in heaven having the time of her life and that comforted me.  I even felt closer to her up in the clouds.  But my heart hurt.  I wanted to enjoy this trip and time with our son.  We three needed each other at this time.  I was determined to make the best of it.  Looking back, it was a great place to visit when in grief.  No one could talk to me and no one wanted to and I didn’t speak the language.  It literally was very foreign.  That was a comfort to me.

So, here we were, the three of us, in a nice hotel in Shanghai, China.  No forks, lots of rice, and a very messy table in the hotel restaurant due to my long flight and a lack of using chopsticks (and you thought rice was only thrown at weddings).

There is so much to tell of this trip but I want to concentrate on The Great Wall of China.  We did see much in Shanghai and New Year’s dragon dance and the Chinese Circus and museum and The Forbidden City in Beijing.  Such an old land and so beautiful.

We checked into a Youth Hostel in Beijing.  My husband and I had our own room and our son was elsewhere in a dorm-type room.  After eating an amazing Beijing Duck dinner he informed us that we were signed up to see The Great Wall of China in the morning.  A shuttle bus would pick us up early.  We were ready – it was winter so I purchased some Chinese long johns in the market place the night before.  I put orange drink, peanut M&M’s, Pringle and a water bottle in my bag with my camera.  We were picked up early, after our breakfast of Chips A’Hoy cookies and orange drink, and proceeded to pick up other victims, uh, er, I mean tourists for the visit to The Wall.

We're WHERE???
We’re WHERE???

Three hours later, in a non-heated vehicle, we arrived in the middle of Nowhere, China.  We lived at sea-level in the US and here we had to climb stairs just to get to the Wall entrance.  Lungs nearly fell out of my body.  We entered that “door” behind us and started on the approximately six mile(?)  journey of the longest stair stepper I’ve ever seen.  Thank God my gym did not have this equipment.  Our guide, who spoke only a bit of english, kept saying, “Two more towers”.  She made this journey several times a day in the summer with such “tourists” as us.  Near the end I wanted to throw her off.  But she was so sweet and tried hard to converse with us.

one tower.....of thousands
one tower…..of thousands

The section above had no steps.  But to give you a mental image…… you either walked on flat stones OR steps that were short, steps that were too high for average humans, steps that were steep enough to use your hands also (hence the term climbing The Great Wall) and steps that went down a steep incline so that your guides grabbed your jacket so gravity didn’t take you first.  It was amazing and exhausting and in the middle of nowhere.  I am thankful for the snacks I brought in my bag.  And I am most thankful for the three guides who were conversing together when I heard an english word in the middle of their conversation, “SHORTCUT”.  I grabbed our guide and said, “Did you say Shortcut???????”

My husband and I decided to take the shortcut with two guides (appartenly we needed two guides) while our son ventured forward on the wall and we would meet up – somewhere???

The short cut was magnificent.  Easy on the lungs, we caught our breath and saw things that were quite amazing….

We walked through a village
We walked through a village
No power or plumbing
No power or plumbing
back in time
back in time
This little one came out to greet us
This little one came out to greet us

After a while we came to a bridge (where my camera battery died) – a bridge much like one you would see in Indiana Jones – suspended high over a river.  Did I mention that heights and I do not get along?  Well, it must have been the lack of oxygen because I started out fine, following my husband and enjoying the view – UNTIL the cables that hold the bridge and acted as side rails decided to drop down to knee level, rather than over my head level.  All security left me and I shoved my husband aside and RAN to the other side, leaned against the wall (The Great Wall of China) and refused to look back at that cavern.  We waited there for out son, who we saw coming over a high peak toward the bridge.  Before we saw him, his guide ran up to me speaking rapid Manderin and threw in english words like son and police.  I thought he fell off the wall.  Our guide stepped aside and caught our eye and kept shaking her head slightly.  What does that even mean?  I was starting to panic when two lady tourists of Asian decent approached us and I asked if they understood Chinese and if they spoke english.  They did.  The guide wanted my son to buy a t- shirt and he said, “Ask my parents”.  Go ahead laugh.

I bought the t-shirt:

bought the t-shirt
bought the t-shirt

So, from there we had to get back on the wall – it was so steep that I clung to the steps with all fours, put my head down, and cried.  Yes, I cried on The Great Wall of China.  My son thought I was having a heart attack or something.  I simply said, “I want to get off the freakin’ Wall!”

“Two more towers”, she said.  And that’s when I thought of taking her to the bridge and tossing her over the side.  Just a thought.  When I started to climb to the third tower, she grabbed me and said, this way.  We exited The Great Wall and low and behold, a wide paved road stretched before us that lead us to some building.  A bathroom and a restaurant!!!  I told my son to order anything – don’t care what I eat – I headed to the enclosed hole in the ground to pee.  Ahh.

We waved goodbye to our lovely guide, she kept waving as if we were old friends.  On the bus back to the hostel we all asked for heat.  They turned it on for us.  We freshened up and went out again for duck and slept like babies that night.

My son told me recently that we could have gone to a more “tourist” friendly part of the Wall where there are elevators and Starbucks.  But he chose the harder route.  I am very glad he did.  Really, I did CLIMB The Great Wall of China and even bought the t-shirt to prove it.  It feels good to have done that and I will never do it again.

The Chinese like to have their kids in pics with westerners
The Chinese like to have their kids in pics with westerners
me, with my read hair and blue jacket (think I will blend i?)
me, with my read hair and blue jacket (think I will blend in?)

Happy New Year China!

Enjoy!

cate b

Dedication of Hope

Today I want to dedicate this post to a fellow blogger who is facing a very difficult time.  To Terry and Al http://terry1954.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/take-my-love-with-you-when-you-know-it-is-time/

Know that you are loved.

And to all those who are going through pain, loss, depression, no matter how big or how small, you are not alone.

Enjoy!

cate b

Out of This

I haven’t posted a full written post in a while.  Why?  As the seasons change around us sometimes it is more than the weather or the geographical location.  It can also be seasons of the heart.  A transition in our lives.  It can be a move or a job or a family situation or a loss.  It can always be for the good no matter how easy and joyful or how hard and painful it may be – with the right perspective.  I have always been a person who can take a step back and look at my life and try to see the good – that is after I freak out and stomp my feet and cry or yell, LOL.  And I have to say that every season change has turned out for my good.  Sometimes the good takes a little longer to come around in full view.  That’s OK, where am I going in such a hurry?

Where I physically live is a place of four distinct seasons.  I like that because I like variety.  It is definitely my spice of life.  So back to the blogging.  I’ve been told to “find my target audience”.  Huh?  I look at the wonderful few followers I have and they are a variety.  So how do I find my target?  I love to talk about a variety of things.  Who is my target?  I guess I have something for almost everyone???  As I write these words I feel quite happy with myself (pat on the back).  I really do love variety in my life and get incredibly bored and irritable when things don’t change from time to time.  So until I have a blazing revelation as to my topics and audience I’m afraid you are stuck with my variety show.

So, for the Friday song of the week – I present Autamata – Out of This.  Like most art I think the song will speak to each of you in a different way.  May you get the words and melody that you need at this moment.  May it bring Hope to you and encouragement with the season you are in right now.

Enjoy!

cate b

I will confront you at last you dreaded empty
When I met you in others I fell in love
From the cradle, to the bottle, to the needle to the bed
We all need something to deliver us from dread

But I believe in truth

Out of this noise, here comes the stillness
Out of this chaos, here comes the order
Out of this language, out of this language
Out of these words

And a hollow man leaves you empty-handed
With fingers carved from Asian ivory
From the cradle, to the treadmill, to the rocker, to the last sigh
Some are made happy when something dies

Out of this noise, here comes the stillness
Out of this chaos, here comes the order
Out of this language, out of this language
Out of these words

Shitsujo, seijaku, shinjitsu
Shitsujo, seijaku, shinjitsu, shinjitsu

Out of patience, out of deed
Out of courage, out of me
Out of reason, out of truth
Out of conscience, out of you

Konran kara shitsujo ga umare
Soon kara seijaku ga umareru
Shinjitsu wa ai o umu

Out of this…

The Bruises of Life

Another tragedy for America – The Boston Marathon Bombings.  With each disaster that hits our nation comes a twinge of pain, as in an old wound that acts up from time to time.  When we experienced first hand a great loss in our family (see Prisoner of Hope series on this blog) it brought a wound that will never totally heal.  I’m not even sure that is the right phrasing – I feel I’ve healed in the sense that I got through the initial shock and severe blow of loss – but the pain of loss will always be there.  It will pop up when I hear of others pains and loss.  It acts up much like arthritis or other similar ailments due to weather change, etc.  But much harder.  With each new attack of disaster or missing children or even forecasts of severe storms, the pain twinges.

But know that with each twinge it does a good thing deep down inside of me.  I’ll try to put it into words.  I think that those who understand these words will get this and those who don’t quite, but almost, it will cause you to look deeper within.  These twinges bring to me a strong desire for fellow human beings.  We are all vulnerable to hard times, to disasters, etc.  No one is exempt from hard times.  No one.  So my heart aches and hurts for those who are hit – in any shape or form – from bullying to misunderstandings to loss and devastation.

My heart goes out to Boston and all those who attended that Marathon.  It was a day that represents great victory for all who trained and ran – and turned into such a low blow – such heart ache.

My heart goes out to those who can’t grasp this.  I saw some FB posts that implied that this is daily occurrence in other nations – so we should think more of them.  I understand that.  But here in the USA it is not a daily occurences.  It is not part of our daily lives.  My heart aches for those nations who do live this way in fear, I want that to change for them.  But I also want America to rise up and unite and stand on our roots.  I want us to want violence to stop.  I don’t know if this is realistic or not.  But THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.  ALWAYS.

I pray for our law and government safety enforcement and medical teams to be safe and to have wisdom to thwart these plots in advance.  I pray for all who attended that fear would not become a part of their lives and I pray for those who lost that healing would come and they would become stronger through such loss. and able to help others.

God bless,

cate b.