A good anniversary …

This is us, 21 yrs ago… just a couple of kids in love. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. I’ve written a lot about my cancer anniversaries, but this one is a “good anniversary.” 21 years ago, I was anxiously awaiting our wedding day. I wasn’t nervous or getting cold feet, I was just excited… ready to start our life together. This year, on the night before our anniversary, I made 6 trays of bars for a friend’s funeral/celebration of life. I am reminded of how lucky I am to get to spend each day with my husband, and I realize how many times I take that for granted. 

Don’t get me wrong, our marriage isn’t perfect. We have our differences, but the good far out weighs the bad. Our “Rice-a-Roni days” make us appreciate being able to buy groceries. Our struggle with infertility makes us appreciate our kids. Our sickness, cancer and broken bones makes us appreciate our health. 

Sometimes we feel like we want to protect our kids from these types of things, but we won’t be able to. And we shouldn’t want to. They will need their own “buying bread with pennies and quarters” days. They will experience heart break and rejection and loss. I want the best for my kids, but I also want them to experience life. I want them to have compassion for others and know what it means to be a good friend. I hope they find someone who treats them well. I hope they pay attention to how their dad treats me. I hope they use that example to treat their significant other the same way one day. 

Laugh every day. Love deeply. Make someone else’s day. These 3 things might as well have been said at our wedding. It’s what Cameron seems to live by on a daily basis. Yep, I’m still in love after 21 years. The more years go by, the more I appreciate how rare and special that is. Our pastor said of Cameron, “He’s a little bit crazy…” during our wedding sermon. I thought our best man was going to fall off the stairs laughing. It’s true, but it’s great – and it’s good enough for me. I’m thankful to be good enough for him. Cheers to many more years ahead. 

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

The rest of the story…

sunset lake

Some people don’t care for Facebook and others love it. The ones who dislike it usually do because they feel it’s “fake” or “too negative” or just not real. I understand that, but I happen to like it. I like to feel connected to my relatives and friends by seeing pictures of them. I slide past the ones that have too much drama or differing views and linger more on the pictures of family adventures or positive quotes. I “like” a bunch of positive quote sites or ones that are scripture based. It’s my way of letting in those reminders or nudges that I need just when I need them. Some days those posts are so meaningful and hit home so much that they make me teary (that happens more now than before.)

Yet with each smiling photo, there is a back story. Paul Harvey was frequently on in our family vehicle while I was young. His segment was “the rest of the story…” and would talk about the back story or give more info on what the headlines were talking about. I thought of that the other day when one of my favorite pictures of the boys popped up in my Facebook Memories. It’s of them at sunset standing by a lake. It’s a gorgeous picture. The “rest of the story” is that there were 10,000 mosquitos by the lake that night at dusk. The kids were getting eaten alive and they all tried to stay still long enough to get that photo then race back to the campground. I love the picture because I love the water and the lake and those 3 men in the photo. It also is a good reminder that things aren’t always as they seem. That mom that posted her smiling kids at the zoo… she might have just lost her cool before that about ice cream or them fighting about what animal they were going to see next. The photo of the runner who finished the marathon… his body is hurting more than you can tell, his toes are bloody and parts of his body are chafing that he’d rather not talk about. The person who has gained weight but took pictures anyway… maybe they are on medication that has caused it or 100 other reasons why. That doesn’t mean that we should stop sharing the photos. It just means that we should take them for what they are and not assume we know the back story.

We do that to people a lot. (At least I’m guiltier of it than I’d like to admit.) We assume we know “the rest of the story…”  We assume that the person in the meeting was just crabby. We don’t know that they just learned that a friend of theirs had passed away. We assume the clerk at the store is having a bad day. We don’t know that this is their second job just to make ends meet. We assume the kid at school is naughty. We don’t know that he’s unsure of when he will eat again over the weekend, and fearful of what will happen to him or his siblings. We THINK we know the rest of the story but we don’t. We should just reach out to people more and care more. Me included. When I post pictures of our family this coming week in Duluth, you wouldn’t know the back story (except I’m telling you now. You wouldn’t know that my Oncology follow up is Wednesday and this was a good distraction to make me think about the Dr. less and of my family more. You might not know that the recent loss of friends unexpectedly has made me want to embrace life. You might not be aware that we know our 13 year old might not think a “Tall Ship Festival” with his family will be cool in 3 years, so we are going now while it is.  We assume. You know what that does. (There is a saying that goes along with that – if you’re not sure, Google it) It leads us to either assume the best or the worst depending on what type of person we are. It makes us judge others when the judging is not ours to do.

My challenge to you is this… keep sharing pictures of your family, dog, cat, kids, and friends – whatever. Just don’t assume you know the rest of the story when you see someone else’s pictures, unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Even then, those shoes might be a different size. Share some love. Help people along their journey of enough – that good karma will come back to help you someday also. Peace be with you.

Life is short… Ride the coaster

This past week, there have been a number of people who passed away. Not anyone directly related to me, but a friend’s wife, another friend’s brother and another friend’s young son. I was somewhat unexposed to death when I was young. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just strange to adjust to as I get older. It’s one of those things I know will happen to all of us, but the timing sometimes baffles me. Not everyone gets to live to be 95. 

I consider myself to be a woman of faith. I believe in God and although I don’t make it to church every Sunday, I try to keep God in our lives. A mother having to bury her 10 year old son doesn’t make sense to me. Losing a brother suddenly would be hard to handle. Most any death is difficult. It leaves a hole in our hearts. Even if we believe that their souls go to heaven and they are in a better place, it leaves us empty and aching. We want them to be able to experience things with us still physically, instead of just “in spirit.” 

Sometimes death makes us pause and appreciate life. It makes us hug our loved ones more, let go of regrets or take chances. This week, the death of a friend’s wife from leukemia inspired me to take the family to Valley Fair amusement park. My motto this week was, “life is short, ride the coaster!” So a friend and I planned a quick trip to Minneapolis to spend a long, fun-filled day at the amusement park. It was a beautiful day. We made the most of it. We arrived when the park opened and stayed almost until it closed. We did things that I wouldn’t have considered before. Armed with motion sickness pills, we rode coasters like The Wild Thing, Renegade and High Roller. We spent time in the water park and even rode The Wave at sunset and got DRENCHED! Why? Life is short. I wanted to enjoy these things with my family and our friends. (Oh and Myles and I found 3 pennies and 2 dimes. See previous post about pennies from heaven)

The past 2 years have been a roller coaster of emotions, of life. Lots of ups and downs. Sometimes it takes a wild roller coaster for us to really appreciate the lazy river. I’ve certainly had more ups than downs. I have much to be thankful for. I can’t explain why God took these people from their loved ones this week. I don’t understand why he created mosquitos,tornados or cockroaches either. Some things just aren’t for us to understand. We can just thank God for the blessings we do have, hug our family & support our friends. 

I didn’t ride all the rides, but what I did was enough. Enough to make a lasting impression on my kids and to make a good story. (Myles and I were stopped at the TOP of Renegade coaster because some dude took out his phone to take a selfie. The worker had to walk to the top, tell the guy to put his phone away for the 2nd time before we could take off. Interesting story.) Peace be with you on your journey of enough.