Rewind: Reflections of a transitioning heart…Part 2

LAKE TACONIC IS A GREAT BEACH.

It was one of those days when all the cosmic tumblers click into place and every moment unfolds as a miracle in the making.

Moments where life and love seem to spill over one another in a joyous and sacred procession.

Walking through a gift of grace so fragile that a puff of wind could blow it all away.

And I keep saying, Thank you…

Over and over throughout that morning, noon and night teeming with tenderness and laughter, oozing with love dear and precious. Perhaps more so because the wait for it through mistakes, sin and darkness was a million messy years.

But God, He knows what He is doing and His timing is always perfect.

So I hold tight to the Maker of time and all things, while holding tight to the one with whom I am one.

And a simple day at the lake, an annual escape, transformed before our eyes into a holy gift, pure and light.

Lake Taconic

Minutes ticked slow and we slowed way down so that we could savor each one and each other.

PADDLE BOATS LAKE TACONIC

Strolling the length of the lake we spied paddle boats waiting for strong, sun tanned legs.

CABIN

And little chocolate cabins, with sections near the camp grounds paved making our feet hop, skip and jump because it was that hot.

dragonflies

And dragonflies dancing before nearly disappearing among leaves as green as rows of summer corn.

August warmed my skin brown and the Son warmed my heart blood red, and the love shared seemed like it would burst right out spilling over everything in its wake.

A giant wave of grace. And us floating.

LAKE Michael - Copy

Water wasn’t as frigid as last summer so we swam and played for hours: Lincoln Logs and splashing, and me trying to race but still not finishing first! Laughing our heads off.

And it wasn’t until we shook the sand from the blanket and packed up the cooler that my Michael asked.

“Are you missing them?”

AT THE LAKE - Copy

Those three boys of summer. Gifts from God who will forever hold my mother’s heart.

Lake holding memories of special moments shared, me and them.

And just as my Michael and me are leaving the sand, three little beach chairs all in a row.

Empty.

BEACH CHAIRS 3 - Copy

And for a fraction of a split second I was back in the baby days when my boys were little although I hadn’t thought about my three all day, not since praying for them that morning.

Then just as quickly back again. Standing next to my man. Rightful place for this season.

Thanking God for this gift I never thought He would grant. Not after some of my choices.

But God’s love covers a multitude of sins, with grace amazing.

And my heart all married to the one who is my life after the One who is my all.

What a difference a year has made in my empty nest mother’s heart.

Loving the Lord most of all and a strong will to walk forward in the preciousness of now has moved me beyond what was. And in spite of what was being missed. Moments of missing rarer than two years ago when the nest began to empty.

And I realize I am different.

Passage of time and living with the love of my life has changed me. Lord’s healing.

Coming under my Michael’s love and leadership, protection and provision ushers me into life far beyond the backyard fence of my dearest dreams and romantic longings during the years of lonely.

It has softened me, while strengthening me.

I am no longer that six-weeks-remarried single mom who burst into tears for hours that day the first of my chicks flew away. {To Hawaii! WITHOUT a cell phone!!} And I needed an extra bowlful of gravy and the comfort of mashed potatoes just to make it through the weeping.

I am not the empty nest mama who walked down hallowed hallways, greeted by memories of little legs running and socked feet sliding on hard woods. Reaching out for boys whose every step took them farther from home but never far away in heart.

DAN CAR 4 - Copy

I am not the mom on that day my last one, my baby boy, trekked two thirds across these states united to live in closer unity with his brother-best friends. Even though a part of me went with him as his tail lights disappeared down our road.

I am none of these women, and yet I am all of them at the same time.

Like steaming spaghetti piled high and overflowing, every strand of memory, every wisp of wonder touching the next, mingling together with grace, flavored with love.

And the arms of Jesus hold me as my Michael draws me to himself, sun warmed skin pressing close. And the beating of mine echoes his.

Then we’re off for the next leg of adventure. Two crazy kids, madly in love, making memories exclusively ours.

A favorite little village discovered last year.

Savoring pizza and truffles sweet, sunflowers and steeples.

PIZZA

CANDY COUNTER

SUNFLOWER FENCE

CHURCH

STORE

So we breathe deep to breathe it all in.

Glad and giddy with the gift of now. Him and me. And me and him. And one plus one equaling so much more than two.

Love, laughter, sunshine — all warm like honey from the comb.

And no need to comb through the attic of memory when there is so much life living in each moment of now.

Gift of glory is in the present. If we keep looking back we just might miss what’s right before us.

Holding on as every blessed moment slips away, as moments do, and sun slipping below heaven’s horizon.

And the day full of fun and friendship is full upon us with wanting warm, embrace binding.

Lord’s lullaby for lovers wed, wedding spent selves with sleep.

And sweet dreams beginning…

~sheila

 

Join me next Thursday as I conclude the Rewind series with a post on tips for transitioning to an empty nest.

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Rewind: Empty nest reflections…Part 1

It was nearly a year ago that I wrote the post below. Yesterday, my Michael and I absconded for our annual day at the lake and I marvel at how different I feel, how God has done a work of healing in my mother’s empty nest heart since then. Next week I will share about my reflections on yesterday and how God grows us while helping us navigate the seasons of our lives, including tips for transitioning to an empty nest.

 

In this season of endless days that end too soon, we stop our world and all our work at Longings End to slow down.

To savor.

To spill our stress.

To take our fill of serenity.

Afternoon at the lake stretches out before us, and we stretch out on blanket basking warm in love.

Clouds overhead content to sit a spell too, before moving on in windless sky. Shapes changing, and we laugh on our backs as a duck waddles here and a scorpion walks there, and then we see clouds like a Cross.

His Cross, without which we wouldn’t freely be enjoying all His lush beauty. Our hearts wide open receive Him. Surrendering all to the One who gave all for us.

And a portal of blue peeks from white fluff, God winking down on us, His barefoot children playing in the sand. All of us.

Sand hot between our toes we walk quickly and Dearest Husband coaxes me into the water. Though it’s chillier than I like, I plunge in.

Splishing and splashing we race, and I don’t win. And we laugh some more.

And just for a moment, I catch a glimpse of them among the little ones playing in wet sand, or swimming, calling out Marco. Polo.

Three browned boys.

And my heart skips a beat the way they used to skip stones.

Fish glistening glides by and I remember their fishing net and how determined they were to bring a catch home for supper.

When the sun went down and the life guards went home, those three of mine would sit at water’s edge and build sand castles. Lost in the land of make believe that vanished as quickly as fairy dust sprinkled over the sea.

And those days of dinosaurs digging in the sand, the wisp of a memory.

So my Daddy reaches down and whispers that a season has ended, Daughter, exactly as it should.

Sunrise.

Sunset.

Seasons change.

Time passes.

Past, present and future sometimes blending. So I guard the fragile present He gives me each morning, or lose the gift of today and never get it back.

This lake, swimming with shadows of the past, was a favorite cooling spot when my babies were growing into men. Men who have moved far away, other side of the Rockies.

Yet for the first time in a year, I step back and release — like a fish caught but too small to keep — and more freely swim among the fragile moments of now.

Accepting the passage of time though missing my sons, heart rests secure in Father’s love.

All of it a gift.

All of it His Grace.

Brimming with gratitude for what was, for what is, and for what is yet to be.

So I pass an invisible baton to the moms on the beach this day, the ones with bellies swollen and young children they will tuck in at night.

Wonder-full days full of little people full of wonder. Childhood more fleeting than summer.

And my once young-mother’s heart watches three boys of summer run down the beach, every step taking them further away. Footprints in the sand growing bigger and bigger until three men with shoulders square are walking into their own lives.

And I turn back to the man at my side. The love of my life. Dearest Husband who has waited but a split second not even aware I had left, and I wrap my arms around his neck.

Embracing him as I clutch this fleeting gift of now.

Teach us to number our days, Lord, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

That’s what His Word says. So I pray for wisdom to know that moments become days, and days become years, and years slip away like so much sand through my fingers. I squeeze tight, yet can’t hold on to them.

And when the sun slips low on the horizon we pack up. Rested and relaxed. Summer’s day at the lake restoring us.

We discover a village small and quaint where we eat pizza outdoors, early evening stilling.

Share the last banana split of summer. Icy sweetness twirling on tongues with every spoonful.

And childlike delight twirls inside me, and him.

So I tuck this day inside the secret chamber of my heart where all the precious pieces of the past sleep. This day when God held hours slow, all sun kissed and love drenched.

And then we hear a rumbling. Loud. And bells sound a warning as gate closes shut.

City train rushes by in a blur. My heart heeds a warning, too.

Stay in each moment, fully awake and receiving every drop of life He gives.

Blinking, time rushes by…

~sheila

 

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Snow days and chocolate chip pancakes…{Or being thankful for the season you’re in}

SNOWY 4 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOWY 3 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball - Copy

SNOWY Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Snow swirls soft and silent and the back yard looks like a snow globe.

I stir batter for Dearest Husband’s breakfast.

But if I listen really closely I can almost hear little voices asking, “Is there school today?” as they ran down the hall from their bedrooms to press hopeful faces against the cold glass of the living room window.

And then cheers once I said school was closed.

For snow days were fun days! And snow days meant chocolate chip pancakes. Always chocolate chip pancakes. With whipped cream.

While other moms in the neighborhood were running to the grocery store for bread, milk and diapers, I was dashing for chocolate and cream! {Essentials of life, I might add!}

As I made the pancakes, middle son called their buddy who walked up with his pajamas on under his snow pants and jacket. The four of them ate almost before we prayed, and some days we read a bible story together. Then they played Legos for hours downstairs.

Heading outside, they built snow forts in the piles pushed high by the town plows. They played all afternoon until the sun sank low and their cheeks burned bright, gloves soaked all the way through.

And there were days when they rode sleds down the hill in our yard.

MATT BEN Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

MATT BEN 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

And that awful afternoon when my youngest slid into the lilac bush and a twig punctured his lip.

Rushing to the hospital, him bleeding and crying, and me trying to soothe him and I just kept praying that God would heal it and he wouldn’t need plastic surgery.

The Great Physician, my Maker who is my husband and the father of the fatherless, did!

He answered a single mom’s desperate prayer and even the doctor was amazed and asked me why I had brought my son in.

During the middle school years and beyond, I prayed even more. They would snow board out back, building jumps that sent them airborne while keeping me on my knees.

BEN Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

BEN 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

The bigger they got, the bigger my prayers.

Memories as unique as snowflakes fill my heart and I thank God for each one. For all those days, and for three healthy boys and the energy to care for them without another adult in the home.

Yet when they’re little and we grow weary, we sometimes long for them to grow up at least a bit.

My arms would get exhausted wrestling three boys into snow suits so snug they looked like little astronauts as we headed out the door. I would dream about the day when they could dress themselves. Once they were able to, they were out the door without me.

And those baby steps towards independence were the first steps that would ultimately lead them away from home in a journey of a thousand miles into their own lives.

No little bodies to shake into snow suits today. No boys for whom to whip up pancakes. No teenagers to shovel the driveway.

But it is all good.

DANIEL Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

PANCAKES 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Forever shoveling...

And just as God intends for time passes and seasons change, and moments become memories to be savored and stored carefully in heart’s treasure box.

Now it’s me and him, my sweet husband. And us and Jesus, our sweet Lord who is always with us.

Snow swirls outside in temperatures too cold to mention. Pancakes sizzle and smell as good as they ever did. And I light a candle and turn up the heat a bit.

BATTER Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

PANCAKES Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

CANDLE Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

And I thank God for this life, my life now with all its newness and change.

Thankful that the transition to an empty nest has gotten easier since the first moving out when my middle son crossed the Pacific to work on an organic coffee plantation.

Or when my first born took a wife!

Or the baby followed his brothers, young men gone West.

No tears today.

For my empty nest is full.

Full of love and discovery and dreams coming true.

Yet memories of the baby days linger and even when they are older adults they will still be our babies, won’t they?

For the cord is never cut between a mother and her children.

A part of each of my three sons was in my body while I was yet forming inside my own mother’s womb! I just read about that at this imperfectly profound blog.

Such wonder how I cradled my babies inside my body while my mother carried me in her womb.

We were all there together, one nested inside the other like those Russian dolls I once played with, going back to my Grandmother Esther and my great grandmother, Baba, and even before.

Connected by this miracle of motherhood.

MOTHERHOOD COpyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

And I hold dear the blessings of before while I count the blessings of today.

And I am certain that as quickly as all the years of yesterdays have passed, these days of now will undoubtedly slip away even more swiftly.

Making me hug today tightly, not wanting to let go.

Then opening my hands as moments pass for I cannot keep time still. I can only still my heart so that the One who is outside of time can hold me as seasons change.

And my husband’s slippers next to our bed make me grateful. I lift up a silent thank you to God for this one good man so true and tender and open to God, so long an unknown object of my prayers and deepest longings.

SLIPPERS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

PANCAKES 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

I call him to our table and serve pancakes steaming hot off the griddle.

Life isn’t what it once was and memories of little ones will always tug my heart strings the way little hands tugged my jeans when they wanted “Up.”

But life is good, really good, in the present, in this one moment of time which is all we ever have, so I hold the gift and say thank you no matter the season.

Our three strand cord, our marriage that is a gift from God, is a surprise in the second half that binds me and him in a one-flesh partnership like never before.

And this is what tugs today and holds me even tighter.

I kiss him gently as I set his plate down.

And the snow outside keeps swirling…

~sheila

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When the nest empties…

The rooms are almost empty. A hollowness rings down the hallways.

It’s like the heart of the house is gone, moved on. And this shell waits, longs for a new family to occupy this space with love and laughter.

And some days I feel almost empty, too. Like a part of me is no more.

A seed dies and gets buried before it can be born again into new life.

We die to selfishness so we can better love.

Jesus died on the cross that we might be made new in Him and live forever.

Seems there is always death before rebirth…

In letting go of what has been, I clear the way for what is becoming.

And perhaps that is why I mourn some mornings.

When I wake before dawn and the house is still and it’s just me and Jesus meeting in the quiet place. Like I have done for so many years. Rising while still dark and the house silent in sleep.

Only now there are no little blond heads nestled on pillows, still dreaming. No Breakfast and Bibles in an attempt to train three exuberant males into men of God.

Trusting always that He who began the good work in mine will faithfully continue until complete.

I always told them I was raising them to be Christian gentlemen, not barbarians.

One day, Second Oldest quipped, “No, we be barbarians, Mom!”

And how I had laughed and reminded him it was his turn to recite the scripture verse.

All these memories napping in my bosom that once nursed my baby boys.

No more racing to the corner to catch the school bus. The bus stop where a pair of boots on a toddler boy for an entire school year — rain, snow or shining heat — made for fun discussion among us young moms.

No more baths with all three rub a dub dub in the tub, and army men lined up and down the sides like sentries guarding a river valley.

No more tucking in with bedtime rituals that always included prayers, and stories and I love yous hugged tight around my neck.

No more checking on them in the middle of the night, quietly room by room, sometimes slipping in to lay a hand on and pray.

No more.

And my mother’s heart, like my womb, feels a bit empty.

Not empty of all the love, certainly. Never that!

But devoid of the daily doing for little ones. And the pleasure {though sometimes exhausting and frustrating} of serving tiny hearts.

In the twinkling of an eye those years, with their sometimes endlessly long days, have vanished. And I stand here, holding the hand of the dearest man I have ever in all my life known, my husband of nearly a year, and our eyes behold the Lord in all these things.

Knowing full well that He has walked with me in all these rooms through every moment during this passage of time.

To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven.

Intellectually I understand. Kids grow up and into their own lives. All right and good.

As a part of my life empties out, a new part of my life has me twirling cartwheels as I ponder what lies ahead!

A grand second half adventure dreamed with a man who adores me. Who I totally and devotedly love.

Heading off into the wild blue yonder, not sure where we will wind up. My heart skips a beat with the thrill of it all.

And traveling this road called empty nest does indeed get easier with time.

Last August when #2 moved to Hawaii I cried and cried and was sad for weeks thinking that all three of my babies were grown.

I am making progress, but my heart also tarries in yesterday.

And in those moments when I cast a glance backwards, I let myself linger for a little while, trusting that God is in control as He helps me navigate this new passageway.

Youngest Son, just returned from two weeks in Hawaii, quick as a wink is back to his routine of working long hours and spending evenings with his sweet girlfriend. Home only to sleep and shower most days.

Other two far away out West, new lives up and running.

And I whisper to the Lord, in a voice only He can hear, from my mother’s heart to His great Father heart…

“I miss them, Lord.”

And He pulls me a little closer, kisses the top of my head and says He understands. That He misses me like that whenever I choose to go far from Him or let myself get so busy I don’t spend much time with Him.

And I thank Him for letting me see inside His heart, helping me better understand how He must feel, convicting me in the gentlest of ways yet encouraging me to come a little closer and sit a little longer.

He, who orchestrated this time in my life, is ushering me through the transition. And it’s not like I sit crying in the corner each day, melodramatically lamenting the passage of time which is inevitable and expected.

But it is still a transition, a change, and change can be daunting.

Less so when we remember that Jesus stands right next to us with arms outstretched.

As He holds me a moment more, and I press into Him and exhale, He reminds me that the story isn’t over.

This chapter has ended but there are so many more waiting to be written.

These moments have passed but countless more loom on the horizon, to be measured by how much they take my breath away with His goodness and grace.

And I am humbly reminded that I must hold all loosely and be grateful for every moment entrusted to my care. To live life fully and joyfully and thankfully no matter what season it is. No matter where I may go.

Giving thanks for the darling I wake up to each morning. Such a tremendous blessing brought into my life at just the right moment.

And I remember that in trusting God with all the little details, He colors in the big picture of my life one day at a time.

Filling the emptiness with new things, people, places. New opportunities to reach others for Him. New service. New words to write.

With so much love to share.

Love that can light the way for the next weary traveler who will pass this way where I have been and I can say, Let Jesus carry you the rest of the way when you feel too weepy to keep walking.

And I will comfort her with the comfort I have received, having grown a bit through the process.  All of life is full of lessons in the moments.

And while my life is full, Jesus keeps pouring Himself into the emptiness I feel, with Dearest Husband’s love and companionship running over, and with a new adventure waiting.

And He will cause me to fill up once again…

~sheila

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Stuff of which memories were made…{or house for sale, and 20 years of life lessons}

Twenty years of setting down roots in one place can grow an awful lot of stuff.

Garage stuffed big from neglect over the last two years as a new job demanded much.

Boxes in the attic stuffed, closets somewhat stuffed, and bunches and bunches of books lining dusty shelves.

And then, the photos. Enough to wallpaper the entire 2132 square feet.

Albums to infinity and beyond, framed prints of all the years of growing up boys into men, and boxes of loose ones, too.

Snapshots of our lives here.

Moments captured in the blink of an eye, the click of a shutter, locked tight in heart safe forever.

With a nest nearly empty, the house — our home for so long — is being prepared for sale.

For Sale!

Purchased in 1992, after viewing 25 homes, did I even think a day would come when it would pass to the next owners?

We were a young family and my youngest son was born here, in that time when my last name was different and I thought all my dreams had come true.

But dreams sometimes shatter.

Bleeding, I picked up a million sharp-edged shards with choices to make…

Would it be the worst of times or the best of times?

Would I cling to the dead carcass or move forward with my head held high?

Would I implode in the rubble of happily-ever-after ended, or would I lean on my Lord for the strength to rebuild and raise my family?

And the best and the worst, the Light and the dark, the joy and the sorrow, they all mixed and mingled along the way like a bubbling concoction.

Over the last few weeks, Dearest Husband and I clean and sort stuff into piles — Give Away, Throw Away, Garage Sale and Keep — and I linger.

Days past seem to hop, skip and jump to life.  I can see those days clearly, feel them as they brush against my heart in tender caress.

Clutching mementos, for a moment holding fast. Some stuff forgotten recalls days never to be forgotten, all the many moments loved and lived in this old house.

And if the walls were storytellers, what tales they would tell.

Of love and laughter shared here.

And of darkness that pierced our very souls.

Making us cry.

Inviting fear.

And rage.

Changing us irrevocably.

Breaking my heart to see my children hurt, while nursing my own fractured wellspring.

And if He had not stepped in, the darkness would have swallowed us whole.

But Christ holding me, as Husband and Father to the fatherless, helping me stand Rock solid on quicksand. His Light and Love saving us as it conquered evil.

Eventually setting us free.

Helping us grow up.

Inviting us to share the best years of our lives {all the years of our lives} with Him.

If Jesus had not rescued us when our home divided and lives split open at the seams and entrails spilled out, I shudder to think what the consequences might have been.

How close we came to the abyss sometimes, as mother and sons each battled demons.  And sometimes each other. But He was always there, scooping us back to safety with a Love that never changes, never ends, never abandons.

He will never leave us.

Nothing will ever separate us from His Love.

He died to save us from our sins and give us an abundant new life.

Praise His Holy name.

Precious Lord Jesus…

All along this tangled way of 20 years past there was hope.  Sometimes dim for sure, but always, always hope.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

And we made it.

By His Grace, Mercy and Love.

With miles to go, God willing, before we sleep. Hearts brimming with gratitude spoken, and so much more silent.  And I have new choices to make.

To lovingly let go.

Lay memories to rest, never forgotten, but put away.

So I write and remember, write and relive, write and release.

Then giving myself fully to what is in these wondrous and precious moments of now.

But in looking back, I am grateful for all of it, the good and bad.

By the Grace of God, pain altered my rough edges and deep wounds, breathing to life the woman I am today. Scars bearing witness to wounds healed ever since I first bent my knee to Him.

And He can heal all the broken places in your heart, too.

This slice of my life — single parenting with its wild roller coaster heartaches as well as bonds of love forged in ways that only a single parent and his or her offspring can know — is like a book once read, fondly recalled and lovingly placed on a shelf.

Twenty year tale is filled with life lessons that needed learning. Written by the One who loves me best of all, using all for good.

Like forgiveness.

Trust.

And learning to love.

Forming a testimony true, attesting to Grace.

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.  Revelation 12:10-11

And in letting go of the last two decades, I openly and joyfully embrace the new. Adventures and memories waiting to be made. Already being made! New dreams coming true! Ones I never even dreamed possible!!

With a man who has seen his own share of darkness and battled demons, too.

And like me, his lessons pummeled his heart Rock solid soft, full of love and forgiveness, with tensile strength and tenderness forged only in fire.

So we keep cleaning and sorting, till this work here is done, and I share pictures and relate stories as Dearest Husband listens, patient and kind.

Hearts humble and open as we close up the old place, willing to learn whatever else is necessary.

“Homeschooled at the Father’s hand,” says Dearest Husband.

Together lifting up our second half to Him who makes all things possible, praying for days far sweeter than before.

Putting lids on boxes of the past, snapping a few more photos.

Moving on with Him, believing the best is yet to be…

~sheila