With Every Goodbye, You Learn – Reprise

On a cold day in 2018, my daughter asked me if she could write my blog that week. When she told me her idea about temporary people and why she wanted to write it, I was amazed by her insight, wisdom, and faith. I was even more amazed when I read her words. Many times over the past four years, I have thought back on this blog and the impact it had on me and others.

This Friday, the third book in my Buffalo Springs series will be released. Much of the story was inspired by my daughter’s blog. Throughout the story, the characters learn to embrace my daughter’s wisdom, and their lives are richer and more meaningful as a result.

In honor of the release of Sapphires in Snow, I’m re-sharing Rebecca’s blog. I know it will impact you as much as it did me. If you’re reading it for the second time, perhaps it will have an even deeper meaning for you today.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful blog written by my daughter, Rebecca:

When I was in first grade, my best friend was constantly bullied. She had a rare medical condition that made her an easy target for the kids in our class. They were horrible to her, but she taught me what it meant to be a true friend. She brought out something else in me that those other kids would try to take away, but that I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Eventually, we grew apart, and I haven’t spoken to her in years.

When I was in fourth grade, I was the one who was struggling. My teacher saw something in me and challenged me. He was one of those people who you knew you could trust immediately, and he was so kind to all of his students, regardless of their own imperfections. He showed me what a true role model looked like and made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Eventually, I left that school, and I haven’t seen him since.

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The Love of a Husband

When I had my first child, my mother and grandmother stayed at the house to help me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. My husband couldn’t get off from work, and I would have been on my own. Here we are, twenty-six years later, and I’ve taken up the mantle and am at my daughter’s house helping take care of her newborn.

When Rebecca told me that her husband had two weeks of paternity leave and would be there to help as well, I honestly didn’t think too much of it. Sure, he’d be there, but what good would he be? If Rebecca needed guidance and help from someone who had “been there,” she would have me. Anthony certainly wouldn’t have anything to add to the equation. I pictured him coming home from the hospital, tired and hungry, eating whatever I made before going to bed and returning to the hospital the next day to bring Rebecca and the baby home. From there, I assumed he’d make an appearance during the day, but his primary role would come into play at night with diaper changing and then handing off Evelyn for feedings.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

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Ready to be a Grandmother. Or am I?

Any day now, possibly by the time this goes to print, I will be a grandmother. For the past nine months, I have marveled at how I could be a grandmother already. It seems too soon. I’m excited, but I don’t feel ready. I don’t have enough life experience yet. I’m still busy screwing up my children’s lives! I still make parenting mistakes all the time. How can I help my daughter navigate her own life as a new mother?

I was lying in bed last night, unable to put my mind to rest, when I thought, I don’t know how to do this yet. My mother and grandmother were so good at it, so perfect, and I’m so much younger than they were when they took on this role.

Then reality hit as I did the math…

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Lessons From the Sea

Our family has always had a fascination with sea glass. Though we spend more time in the mountains, and I’ve never been a beach person, we love walking along the shoreline, searching for brightly colored pieces of time. It’s a peaceful, calming act in a world of noise and chaos. That was how we spent the last day of our vacation, and it was the perfect ending to an adventurous week!

My sister-in-law makes amazing jewelry, pictures, and other items from sea glass, so we’re always on the hunt for unique pieces and colors. Not to mention, the girls and I love sea glass earrings and necklaces!

Besides the beauty of the glass and serenity of the hunt for them, I think there are some lessons to be learned from these small fragments of glass that would serve us all well.

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Sweet Blessings and Blueberry Pie

Have you ever experienced a time when something unexpected happened that threw off all your plans but ended up being a blessing in disguise? Of course you have. We’ve all had those moments when we realized that whatever was causing a disruption to our plans was actually a good thing, in some cases, a bounty of blessings.

Earlier this summer, Ken and I were planning our drive across the country from our home in Maryland to our cabin in Colorado. One of the things we love about this drive is that there is so much to do between here and there. Each trip is a grand adventure, and we always look forward to the stops we will make and the people we will be blessed to see. We had the entire trip planned out–a stop at the Air Force Museum, dinner with friends in Ohio, a tour of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, a trip to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, a quick visit to the Cathedral on the Plains, and a drive up Pike’s Peak. Everything was perfect until about three days before we were to leave.

The Cathedral of the Plains
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What is Your Treasure?

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”(Luke 12:21).

We heard these words in Sunday’s Gospel just before leaving on our summer vacation. Vacations are sacred to us, treasures to be kept in our hearts and cherished. They aren’t tangible, and they can’t be stored physically, but they are precious gifts that we always look forward to and look back upon.

Many years ago, Ken and I made the decision to never skip a family vacation. He has always worked high pressure jobs and rarely has the ability to just take a day off or check out early. Before he had his present job, he traveled so much, he was hardly home for the equivalent of an entire week per month. For his own mental health, we knew that we had to make vacations one of the top priorities in our marriage.

When we lead marriage prep classes for our diocese, we do an exercise in which the couples have to list their individual priorities for their marriage and then share and discuss with their fiancés what their couple priorities for the marriage are. Many of these couples include travel as a priority. We always encourage them to keep that as a priority, especially when they have families, because those times are a treasure indeed.

I’ve written before about how important vacations are in a marriage and family even if it’s just a trip to some place in your home town. But they are more than just jaunts away from home or time off from work.

They are treasures to be grasped and held onto.

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Fourteen Lessons from Climbing 14ers

While Ken and I were in Colorado over the past few weeks, we had the opportunity to climb three of Colorado’s famous 14ers, the mountains that are over 14,000 feet high. This is something we always try to do, but it took me a long time to get to a physical and mental place of being able to summit. On our descent from Red Cloud and Sunshine Peaks last Thursday, I had a lot of time to think about all the lessons I’ve learned from climbing 14ers. I’ve come to understand that climbing a mountain is a beautiful metaphor for the climb we experience in life.

What I found so perfect about this metaphor and these lessons is that there are fourteen very distinct and important things I’ve learned from these treks up and back down the 14ers. They are vitally important in climbing geographical mountains and in climbing the ultimate mountain of life.

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Finding the Right Host

I spent this past weekend on a girls’ trip with my besties. We try to get together twice a year, and even a worldwide virus couldn’t stop us from seeing each other last year or the year before.

We played a few games on Friday night that Susan put together to see how much we’d gotten to know each other over the past six years that we’ve been as close as sisters. We learned so much about one another that we never knew! In fact, it was a whole weekend of learning with trips to the Air Force Museum, the zoo, a butterfly garden, a glass-blowing demonstration, and more. Of all that we learned, the thing that keeps coming to mind is that I learned what it means to be a good host.

Let me explain…

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Healing for Mind, Body, and Soul

I recently came across an article in Scientific American that really intrigued me. As we (fingers crossed and prayers said) go into the diminishing phase of Covid with its strange ailments, long-term effects–and trust me, I know about these–its indiscriminate taking of life, closing of churches, separating of loved ones, and alienation of those who most need socialization, I have become keenly aware of the rise in mental health issues and disorders, including in my own inner circle. It seems that the world has fallen into a deep pit of despair, and our lives have become meaningless and out of focus. We have lost the spiritual connection that is necessary to thrive.

Enter, David Rosmarin, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the McLean Hospital Spirituality & Mental Health Program. In his study of psychiatric patients throughout the pandemic, he found that prayer increased significantly in March of 2020 and continued to rise throughout the year despite the closing of houses of worship. He found this to be an extremely important find since “Spirituality has historically been dismissed by psychiatrists.” He noted that, in 2020, American mental health sank to the lowest point in recorded history with diagnoses of mental disorders increasing by 50%. The use of alcohol and drugs rose as did contemplation of suicide. YET the mental health of those patients who attended religious services, in-person or online, actually improved significantly!

Rosmarin goes on to say that studies show that nearly 60% of psychiatric patients have a desire to discuss spirituality with their psychiatrist yet are rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to do so. He says we can blame it on Freud and his characterization of religion as a mass-delusion. We see this trend in suggestions by both the American Psychological Association’s and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for coping with the pandemic. The only near-mention of religion is the CDC’s recommendation to “connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.” The author goes on to say, “we ignore potential spiritual solutions to our mental health crisis, even when our well-being is worse than ever before.”

According to this study and another, “a belief in God is associated with significantly better treatment outcomes for acute psychiatric patients. And other laboratories have shown a connection between religious belief and the thickness of the brain’s cortex, which may help protect against depression.” He also concluded that “many nonreligious people still seek spirituality, especially in times of distress.”

Now, sit back and take all that in for a moment.

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New Year, New Chapter

Merry 5th Day of Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend and is looking forward to the new year.

2021 wasn’t all that much better than 2020. With the exception of things opening and the promising vaccines and treatments, the fear rippling through our world remains, especially with non-stop news coverage of the dire situation we’re in. Despite the vaccines and treatments and lower risks strains, everyone is still being told that this is practically the end stages of Armageddon. Of course, if that is the case, I know that I had better step up my game before that final day of judgment!

The point is, there’s a lot of hope that 2022 will be a game changer. We want life to go back to normal, to be able to spend time with friends and family without fear, and to travel, go to the theater, and do all the things we used to do (and without masks). No matter how you feel about the virus or the treatments or the masks, I’m sure you hope that the day will be here soon when we can live like it’s 2019!

And that has me thinking…

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