For the last couple of years I've been wanting a family picture with all of us in it. To my great frustration, however, someone was always missing at picture taking time. Yesterday we finally made it. Tennessee granddaughter was home for a visit, and New Jersey son and family came to visit and take her out to lunch. Even other granddaughter's husband who was supposed to be working that day had a change in schedule and was able to join us. We met for lunch at Applebee's, and a friendly diner waiting to be seated, captured the moment.



"There is a time for everything, and a season for
every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

If I have learned one thing on this journey through life, it is that things change--often unexpectedly. Some of these changes have been welcome, some not, but even unwelcome change, if I look hard enough, usually contains a blessing easily overlooked until things change again and the gift is lost.

This aha moment took place for me some years ago when I found myself complaining about all the work coming in (I am self employed). Although I was grateful for the extra income, I was equally distressed that there was no time to clean, cook, sleep, and so on. Life became increasingly unbalanced as health and family were neglected, and I pushed myself to the point of utter stress and exhaustion.

Then one day, when I least expected it, the work dried up and I freaked out. I forgot about its seasonal pattern of feast or famine. I forgot that the Lord is still on the throne and has always taken care of my needs most faithfully. Instead I wound up immobilized by worry about what to do, and frittered away the gift of time.

Before I knew it things changed again. As suddenly as the work had dried up, it started coming in, and I found myself wishing I had that slow season back so I could catch up on my neglected chores and do some of the things I complain about never having time to do. I had never thought about it that way before. This was a moment of insight that totally changed my perspective.

More recently, when my walking partner first moved, going out alone to exercise was painful. I missed her so much, there was a very real void in my heart. At the same time, I realized that dwelling on that void wasn't going to change anything. Rather, I could view this as just another passing season, and accept its gift of solitude.

Instead of savoring the loneliness, I now listen to audio books while I walk. So engrossed do I become in what I'm listening to, that I find myself pushing to walk further and longer. And as I slowly rediscover this whole new world of books I thought I would never again have time for, I am reminded to never say never. But then that is another topic for another day.



Some new trees have been planted at the edge of the property across the road. They are beautiful to see, and I'm thinking they're a confirmation that no construction is being planned for that particular piece of land. How sad though that the stately old trees that used to stand in that very same place were chopped down several years ago. I don't know the reason for their destruction. They didn't seem to have been in the way of the adjacent construction project or anything like that. It's a puzzlement.



There's something I've been trying to put into words all week, but I just can't seem to find the right ones. So I keep writing and deleting, writing and deleting, and if this weren't the age of electronics, my waste basket would be overflowing with crumpled pieces of paper by now.

It all started when a friend I once worked with popped into mind. I don't know what triggered the memory, but I found myself reminiscing about a particular Secret Santa/Christmas party celebration at our office. Every person who wanted to participate wrote their name on a slip of paper, along with a short wish list. When all the slips had been collected, they were put in a box, shaken up, and then passed around for prospective Santas to pick.

The first four days of the designated week, a small token gift surreptitiously appeared on desks and chairs, and the office buzzed with merriment as folks tried to guess who each other's Secret Santa might be. Then the fifth day, Friday, we gathered together in one of the conference rooms for the Christmas party where real gifts were exchanged, and the Santas' identities were revealed.

This was my friend's first Secret Santa experience, and I soon began thinking she hadn't understood the Secret Santa concept at all. Her pointed questions such as what type of Cd's I liked, and whether I preferred this kind of music or that, led me to believe she was mine.

Unkind thoughts started brewing as I noted that not only had she spoiled my surprise, but she hadn't even picked anything from my wish list for the day one and two gifts. In fact, she had even given me chocolate, which she should have remembered I don't eat. How insensitive was that?

Well, the day of the party a surprise was in store, just not one I would have imagined. When the Secret Santa identities were revealed, it turned out she had not been mine after all.

Then I remembered a birthday party at the same office. Birthdays were always cause for celebration, and although some celebrations were more lavish than others, at the very least there would be birthday cake and beverages.

Well this particular year there were two of us with the same birthday, so when I noticed two cakes being smuggled into the empty office across from mine, I was sure one was for my co-worker and the other was for me. I pretended not to see what was going on so I wouldn't spoil anyone's surprise.

Once again though, the surprise was on me. Both cakes were for my co-worker. My birthday had been forgotten. I guess the hurt could have been avoided had I not made an assumption that turned out to be wrong.

Jumping to faulty conclusions has been a pattern in my life. Many is the time I have assumed one thing, only to find out it was something else. Not to make excuses, but this seems to have been a generational pattern kind of thing. Fortunately patterns can be broken if you see and acknowledge them, but the clock can never be turned back. Words said cannot be unspoken.

It's not the memory of words spoken to me that have been most painful, but rather the ones I have spoken to people close to my heart. It's not the times I was falsely accused that linger in my mind, but the times I have caused a loved one to suffer through my accusations, that live to haunt me.

Today I received a gift for Mothers Day--a book entitled For My Grandchild--A Grandmother's Gift of Memory. At first it seemed like a fun idea, but as I leafed through it I saw several questions I didn't know how to address. Should they be answered with truths, half truths, or just left blank? Or should I avoid the decision altogether by exchanging the gift and not having to deal with the past?



How did seven years fly by so fast? What a joy to be able to share your special day with you, and to see what an awesome little girl you are growing up to be. You are always close to my heart, and I love you more than words can say.