the story of hands…

 

I love hands….

I believe hands tell such a story….

I wonder whose hands you envision when you think of hands? Is it that of a newborn or a newly engaged couple? Is it your mother or grandfather….do you think of hands that represent promise and life, or an image of hands just before death?

I wonder what is the story in your hands…I have been reflecting on the story my hands….(I don’t think they will be remembered for all the dishes washed)

In the coming days, I encourage you to start a conversation which goes something like this….

I have been thinking about hands lately and remember the hands of ______________. When I think of _____________hands, this is what I remember…..and with that story starter, enjoy the conversation and memories!

And I can’t help but remember as I reflect…the feeling of my hand in the mouth of the cow when we would visit the farm. It was such an amazing feeling to feel the roughness of the cows tongue. And so, as I wrap up tonight, I will also share a picture of that moment, that I can almost feel as if it was yesterday.

They keep growing up….

Dear Andrew,

Happy Birthday to my nephew Andrew! I can’t believe you are 14 and I wanted to be sure to tribute you here in my blog. One thing I celebrate about you is how you are becoming such a fine fellow. You are  kind, sensitive, athletic, musical, smart, funny and respectful. I love to converse with you and learn about your day-to-day happenings. Andrew, I hope this year holds many fun and memorable days for you. I hope you are able to achieve what you desire, increase in knowledge and strength and believe in and experience the great love and admiration I/we (your family) has for you. I love the picture collage of you over the years. You are often with your cousins and I know that those are friendships that will continue until I am very old (and beyond!)! I love that you enjoy being with them and they with you! Thank you for your big heart and kind words you often share. I have great memories of times spent with you and look forward to many more! Have fun being 14 and I look forward to the wonderful gentle-man you will continue to become! I think your just GRAND!

All my love,

Aunt Trish

 

My teeth are shrinking…

Today was a fun day when I was reminded of the innocent and delightful perspective of children. At breakfast Peter, Isaiah and I were talking about the phenomena (isn’t that a peculiar word) that at a certain age people stop getting bigger but still get older. We discussed at what age this might be…

I made the observation that in my situation, my desire is to get older and smaller. Isaiah, who is 4 3/4 looked puzzled for a minute and then said, “Aunt Trish, I know you want to be skinny like my Mom and I know one thing for sure, your teeth sure are looking smaller these days!”

I can’t help but smile and wonder what brought that observation to his mind. I know it was sincere and meant as a kind affirmation. I will continue to smile big and show off my shrinking teeth. I can’t help but think with a smaller neck, perhaps my teeth do appear different!

 

I laughed until i cried…

Tonight I enjoyed Western Michigan Christian High School’s performance of Bye Bye Birdie. It was a great performance and was a stage full of very gifted students. I so wish I had a video clip of Janneke’s song. Janneke is my oldest niece. She is graduating this year and spending one year with Youth With a Mission. In the musical, she was a very spirited older mother (Mae Peterson) with a Brooklyn accent who was quick to share with her son how he had broken her heart. Her music and spoken lines were focused on how unappreciated a mother is. It was very funny and so full of personality. It is a time when I beam because I am her aunt and am delighted that she will be in my life forever. Each time she was on stage tonight she was funny and I laughed until I cried. It is good to laugh until you cry. It is good for the soul to laugh until you cry and so as I wrap up today, I can say, my soul is good.

Thank you Janneke for being fully you, for being bold and passionate, for sharing your gifts and your talents!

I hope each of you can remember a time,  not to long ago, when you laughed until you cried.

I hope each of you remember when you beamed, because someone you love dearly, was making you proud.

I hope you can all say today, or some day very soon, that your soul is good!

 

I asked the zebra…

A favorite Zebra shot from my travels to South Africa

“I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes…again.”
— Shel Silverstein

Love what you do….do you?

I have been very fortunate to love my jobs. I started as Director of Children’s Ministries at Sunshine Community Church as my first job out of Calvin College. I can honestly say during those 8 years, I loved what I did.

Then I went onto grad school and worked as a medical social worker for Hospice and I can say, it was Holy Ground to be with families who were caring with compassion, saying good-bye and honoring a legacy of someone loved deeply. I loved what I did!

I also worked as an adoption Social Worker during these years. I met amazing families who were leaping in faith. Families who were willing to risk in order to love and in loving, I saw families, hearts and lives transformed. I love adoption and I loved what I did.

I was then invited to buy Visiting Angels of West Michigan. It seems like just yesterday sometimes. I feel fresh and eager for each day because every day is different when you work with people. I love what I do.

And yet, there was a brief time I was unemployed between my hospice and adoption work. I remember struggling with what my next steps would be. I wanted to work in the area of my passion. I wanted to love what I did, but I also needed to work. I remember clearly when I realized that to have a job one loves is something to be very thankful for. Many people wake up every day and go to a job that may be less than desirable. I grappled with what if I was led to a job I did not love. It was at that point in my life I learned about how my attitude of how I engage life can bring me joy and delight, as opposed to the circumstances I encounter every day.

God has been very gracious in providing for me employment that I can honestly say I love what I do. But it is often not the task that I marvel in, but the people who surround me in my day-to-day.

I am curious if you love what you do? Is there space in your day-to-day where you might love it more? I hope at the end of each day, you also might be able to say….today was a good day….I love what I do!

 

 

Letter to my son’s teacher…

There is a lot of  focus right now on teachers. I believe it may be teacher appreciation week of some sort and of course a fair bit of controversy surrounding the proposed budget cuts. I have had my favorite teachers and am delighted to be in touch with some of them via Facebook still today. I admire teachers and all they offer in the day-to-day, but the teachers who have made the biggest difference in my life, demonstrated that they cared about who I was becoming, not just what my performance and grades were. I remember their words, their smiles, their affirmations.

I am not sure all of the lessons in the following letter are learned in the classroom, but I do believe they are learned by being in relationship with Godly adults who have a passion for the children in their care. I am not sure if this was truly written by Abraham Lincoln or not, but I do believe there are some great longings expressed with in the words. And wouldn’t it  be wonderful if we might raise a generation of young men with the wisdom and discernment that would result if this is what we all desire to see our young people (boys and girls) learn in life…

If you know an adult who is developing children to be true to themselves and inspiring them to understand about the complexity of life and still striving to live it with heart and passion, be sure to say thank you again and again!

Letter to my son’s teacher

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow,
my son!

~Abraham Lincoln

Blessings in disguise….

‎”Part of the problem is that we don’t know how to define “blessing”. A blessing is not always easy, painless, simple, comfortable or expected. A blessing often comes wrapped in the mystery of darkness. But I am learning the truth….anything that makes us cry out to God can be counted as a blessing”
(Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God)

When I read this quote I have a sense of deep contentedness. In my younger years (my early 20’s to mid 30’s) I believe I would have argued this point as untrue. I now see where I have discovered blessings that are indeed wrapped in the mystery of darkness. The challenge for me is to remain curious, even in the darkness, what God might be calling me to believe or embrace.

I have had days and even seasons of darkness and it is only when I am looking back on them can I identify the blessings that emerged. Remember, if you are in a day or season of darkness, remember to focus on what you know to be true and pray that God will reveal his presence and blessings to you.  And never lose hope, for it is with the loss of hope that I believe the darkness deepens.

IN ALL THINGS, IT IS BETTER TO HOPE THAN TO DESPAIR

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Take time…

My Mom attended the funeral yesterday of her second cousin Christine Kuperus Boyce. She was 44 years old and died after a three-year battle with colon cancer.

This poem was handed out at her funeral. It has a powerful message to me and reminds me of the building blocks to intentional living and making a difference in the time I am given. I did not know Christine but by reading the summary of her life story she sounded like a woman who enjoyed many of these things. My thoughts go to her family and friends who are experiencing the ache that accompanies saying good-bye!

_____________________________________________________________________

Take time to think ~ it is the source of power.

Take time to read ~ it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play ~ it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet ~ it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved ~ it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to be friendly ~ it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream  ~ it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray ~ it is the greatest power on earth!

Redefining space…inside and out….

Tonight Aunt Dot and I measured my upstairs living space. We are beginning the intentional discussion of what it might look like to redefine my upstairs living space into a master suite with bathtub and shower…

The process creates excitement and anticipation, but I get a bit stuck when I am unable to envision what it will look like when the walls are torn down. When I can’t think beyond the current appearance then I also have trouble envisioning where the new walls might go. I am grateful for Aunt Dot’s ability to lead this conversation and I do believe that slowly and surely, I will be able to see beyond where my eyes (and brain) appear stuck. It helps to get active in the process and start measuring and walking through the space and conversing….

I am confident that in time I will see a new vision. This process of change in my living space feels familiar to the  journey to my heart. I find that it is not beneficial for me to think about change for to long before taking some steps that will lead me towards my desired outcome. I know the feeling of being paralyzed by the unknown and never moving towards my goal. Doing the work requires commitment to head in the direction of my desired outcome. Doing the work requires me to invest my time and energy. I find being active is so much healthier than being passive.

I wonder if you were going to take the first steps of change in a certain area, what would that step be and what would it be like to take that step TODAY!