Thoughts From A Practicing Emptynester....

I close my eyes, blink, and I am back in time. I am a twenty two year old bartender, working my way through college.  He was a 34 year old, newly divorced father of a five-year-old daughter.

I blink again open my eyes and I am a 45 year old home maker, chaplain, ice cream truck driver, caregiver volunteer,  married for over two decades with three children and one grandson. The five year old that came with the I do, the one I call my own, birthed from a heart of love,  she is now approaching 28, with a husband and a son.  My youngest is driving and my middle girl is in college.

I blink again and I am back in time.  Lying in the bed of a delivery room, ready to birth our first child together, much harder then a simple I do.  This daughter entered the world ready to take it on.  I believe she was screaming “here I am, whether you like it or not!”  The lungs on this child should have told us then she was going to have much to say over the next 18 years. 

I blink and I am back in the now.   Wow, who knew it is like this amazing time machine holding space on my face. A simple act of blinking brings me back in time. I can see feel and taste everything in that moment that goes on. One blink away from time travel if I choose. The opposite of living in the now. I reflect on my past not to make a home or even camp there but to visit what use to be.

I am the textbook woman who is going through the throws of letting go of her nearest and dearest, one experience at a time. There is something about transition that makes time travel appealing and inviting. I want to blink more, be transported if only for a few moments back to the days where toes were tiny and I was needed. 

A time where I waited at the end of a school day to hear my name “Mom”! Called, as the front door would swing open, plates of food filled with snacks waiting for my littlies to sit at the counter and share about their day.  Those were the good ole days.

Blink and I am back. Who would have known? It is not that I want littles again or even to return to what use to be, I am rather grieving over the lose as I anticipate the future. I am learning to live in the now in a completely different way. Little hands now call me grandma instead of mom, little finger prints do not bother me like they did in my past and my moments are filled with what the future will hold for those not so little anymore.

The brain is a powerful piece of the body, able to process a blink like a time machine. Imagine and it can be. Never in my life have I ever been able to look into my past and see all that was there, at least not without it causing me pain. Today however, the sights, sounds, colors and smells are vivid and real as if my brain has chosen for such a time as now to turn on what had been shut off for most of my life.

I have been taught that trauma can shut down ones memory.  As the brain heals so do the memories and recall can return.  I know this is what I am experiencing today.  I am grateful for the way God has created this safety mechanism, only the creator knew when remembering would hurt no more and today is that day.

Blinking back in time is a powerful way to remember where I came from and where I went and even where I am heading. I close my eyes and I am back in the bar where it all started, the day a college student met a recently divorced father of a five year old.

Who would have known that it would feel like it only happened yesterday when it really it will be 23 years this summer.  

Blinking can blind me if I am not careful, I  miss what use to be and I can get lost in my past and forget about the future where life really happens and people really exist. I have to choose and use wisdom when I want to travel back in time. I choose not check out or check into a place that does not really exist outside my mind.

As a woman who loves to live in the moment this little discovery has been a sweet surprise that is allowing me to transition into my future while still being able to capture my past. I have learned to hold loosely to what use to be but it is fun to blink and be back in time if only for am moment every now and then.

Thank you for letting me share.


Welcome To The Human Race...

Being human means saying, I am sorry. Not because I am human but rather because as a human I will make mistakes.  As I grow and mature, my goal is to not intentionally hurt other humans, but knowing others, and myself it will happen. I am willing to except the fact that even forgiveness will be needed at times along with an authentic sorry sprinkled throughout my days, weeks and months, that is what being human looks like.  I am not trying to be perfect, just human.

But this belief I have been taught that God could not even look at me without Jesus because I am awful, bad, like cow dung, I do not believe that kind of teaching anymore. If that is the case why would one have children knowing they, would be taking a chance on them excepting Jesus or going to hell, my gut says “no way,” my spirit the one I call Holy points to a more consistent truth.  Life is not like a crap shoot, faith is not black and white and God does not hate humans.  

That truth would be that all human beings fail, fall down, make mistakes, that's how we mature and without allowing for that kind of humanity we prevent people from growing, mentally, physically and spiritually which then in turn causes them to rely on others to lead and guide, however, it’s usually others who lack the maturity needed to lead as well.  Ultimately, when we are allowed to be fully human we will find the face of God when others around us are reflecting him in our love for Him.  You cannot help but want what others have when it comes to authentic faith.  That is what Jesus represented throughout the entire NT.  I know this does not sound like deep meaningful theology but it is the truth of the gospels.  Read them with a lens of love and watch how Jesus was with the people.

Welcome to the human race, where perfectionism is a false concept and failure is not just a possibility but also a reality!

I love Jesus, though I am having little tolerance for what human kind has done to his message of love and acceptance.  I have to ask myself, if I believed this truth still and had a child, when would it be appropriate to start telling them how awful they are from the moment they came into this world?  It just does not line up with the common sense that God has given all of us from birth.

In the Proverbs, it is written, “As a man thinks he becomes.”  No, wonder so many Christians struggle with believing they are not enough.  We are told we are not.  How sad, when the truth is I AM enough.  HE in me is enough.  His essence, His goodness, His creativity, His love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, all of it in me is what makes me enough.  Today, when I choose to do more, its out of growth not fear. It becomes about growing and developing into a fully mature human being, which takes years, a life time to be exact.

To all my brothers and sisters of faith, I am not making fun of what you believe, I am not even asking you to walk away or stop believing in what you have believed.  What I am asking is that you show mercy and grace towards me as I untangle this web of man made rules that have been tied to the teachings that were handed down to me.  

God is love.  Jesus came to show us what that looked like.  When he spread his arms out on the cross of Calvary and it was stated, “It is finished.”  I believe with all my heart, the great I AM meant every word and it was finished.

I am not called to sell, advertise or present Jesus in the way the West has built him up to be.  I have not even been called to be Jesus.  I have been called to be me.  When I remember that God is love and that I am enough and that being human is about falling down, failing, making mistakes and getting back up I cannot help but want to offer the gift of grace that has been offered  to me by others for others as a representation of my love for my creator.  A creator who has patiently waited for this human being to stretch and grow, fall down, fail and get back up and walk through the process of becoming fully human, body, soul and mind.  

Jesus is my hero because He trusted our creator more then he trusted the laws of the land and of man. 
Welcome to the human race, you are not alone.  I AM is with you, you are enough!

Thank you for letting me share.


Stumbling Into Our Strengths...

What would it look like if we stumbled into our strengths?  What would it look like if we learned to dance with our dreams and desires through the practice of creating with out criticizing?

The warmth of the roaring fire filled the room. The crackling of the wood set the tone and pace for our impromptu arts and crafts sessions.  We could see the ocean from the windows in the room, which alone was inspiration to create.  The foghorn in the distance was a reminder that we were on a mission to stay in the moment.

Four of us sat around the table.  It felt like kindergarten all over again except this time I knew not to eat the glue.  There is a sacred secret about kindergarten.  That secret is, we are all human, imperfect, made to color outside the lines, taste the glue if be, kind of creatures, its how we learn.  I love the book called, “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

On the table, like gifts waiting to be open, were paint, wire, hot glue sticks, beads, the list could go on.  It was a 5 year olds dream comes true.  The little girl inside me jumped with anticipation as the adult me sighed with expectation.  Gosh, the pressure I put on myself to be perfect comes out in this area. 

However, I was among some of my nearest and dearest peeps who not only do not require me to be perfect but would not put up with it either.  As a color outside the line kind of gal, that perfectionist personality is all ego and it takes a good set of friends to help me feel safe enough to just create and keep my ego in place.

I watched through out the weekend as the four of us created from a confidant place of freedom, the freedom to express ourselves without judgment.  The only judgment that would happen would be the kind we would place on ourselves.  We would remind each other to be gentle with ourselves as we creative freely.
What unfolded was beautiful meaningful art that had the spirit of love infused in each piece.  I watched as one of my friends played with wire.  She twisted, turned, and manipulated the sliver metal around a rock.  What started out as an experiment turned into a precious piece of jewelry.

 I fell in love with her first piece the moment she showed me.  It took my breath away but even more importantly and more breathe taking was when she put the piece on a cord and placed it around my neck.  She created beauty and gave it away.  She did not hold on to it, she gave it to me.  What a gift.
The Piece She Gave Me...

What a privilege it was watching her create something out of nothing. I was more interested in watching her in her strength then I was in my own work.  What an amazing gift to make something out of nothing.  Wire and rocks, married and manipulated into a masterpiece of work. 

The ironic part of this process, stumbling into our strengths is that my friend did not think much of her masterpiece at first.  It took three of us to tell her how much we loved what she made.  She was not looking for kudos; she just could not see with her own eyes what we saw with ours and felt with our hearts.  Which inspired her to make a master piece for all of us.  

There she was, stumbling into her strength, taking a piece of wire, something I saw only as wire and she turned it into something we could place around our necks to represent who we are. 

Jill’s jewelry represents progress to me.  Like the wire being twisted and turned, wrapped around our polished rocks of life until we look into the mirror and see a beautiful piece of artwork that came out of our struggles. 

This is what happens when we stubble into our strengths, others benefit from the beauty that is produced out of something so profound that even the one who creates it cannot conceive of its beauty until someone else points it out. 

Please enjoy these pictures of her creations.  With the gift of physically creating art, she also has the gift of writing life-changing affirmations.  

The kind of affirmations that empower and equip people to live fully and freely just as we are.  She has placed the affirmations within the boxes, as she has decided to share with the world. 

I am proud of my soul sister who has stepped out in faith.  She is using her gifts, talents and voice to help heal the world through art, words, creative expression and the spiritual and emotional energy behind it.

If you are interested in any of her pieces, personally for yourself or for gifts feel free to drop a note to her or just send her a word of encouragement as well at...................... 

P.S.  Remember, creativity is a community project, I challenge you to allow others to peak at your pieces of art and allow yourself to be seen.

Thank you for letting me share.

Dear Mom...

Happy Mother's day, I miss you.  It is hard to believe you have been gone four years now.  Every year I think it might be a little bit easier.  

Boy have I been wrong.  Next year I am going to forget the notion and just admit defeat and grieve the fact that you are no longer just down the hall or a phone call away.  My brain knows the truth but my heart still longs to pretend that day never happened, the day we said goodbye. 

I realized a profound truth today in my own celebrating.  So many times, I thought your silence was rejection, disappointment or lack of love.  Now, all these years later I realized your silence meant you loved me enough to hold back what you knew to be true.  

You knew the only way for me to learn was letting me fall down so I could get back up.  

Mom, if you were here today to celebrate I would sit with you and ask you to share while I took notes.  I would shed tears for all those times you were silent because today I now understand what that silence meant. 

I would ask you questions until I had no more questions to ask and then I would take your hands in mine and look you in the eyes and I would say with all the love I could bring forth, “I LOVE YOU!”

I miss you mom and not a day goes by that I do not think about you.

Cristina Dolores

Every so often I decide to answer this question.  I know that as I grow, mature and change so do my answers.  

“Cris, how do you want to be remembered?”

“I want to be remembered for being me.  I want to be remembered for the way I listened well, asked good questions and paused on purpose. I want to be remembered as the woman who followed her dreams and desires to live wholeheartedly in her community. I want to be remembered as a woman who loved well by letting go.

I want to be remembered as a woman who was passionately in love with a man who believed in her with all his heart.  I want to be remembered as a woman who lived to love her family.

I want to be remembered as a woman who knew how to say no so she could say yes, a woman who knew what she valued most and followed those values in all areas of her life.

I want to be remembered as a woman of faith, who loved Jesus and believed in His ways. I want to be remembered as a woman who reached out to the hurt, lost and left behind.

I want to be remembered as a woman who was not afraid to defend herself, one who knew her worth, trusted her instincts and engaged her body, all in order to defend her body, soul and mind.

I want to be remembered as a woman who reached out to those who had gone before her and those who were coming behind.

I want to be remembered as a woman who believed that the abundant life came in the slow, simple, small ordinary moments of life.  I want to be remembered as a woman who embraced the mess and believed the miracles were found in the middle of those messes.

I want to be remembered as a woman who used her voice to make a difference, speaking up for those who had lost their voice, their way or their why.  

I want to be remembered as someone who equipped, encouraged and inspired others.

I want to be remembered as a woman who knew how to rest well, work hard and play often. I want to be remembered as a woman who knew how to create, who colored outside the lines and embraced the biggest box of crayons available.

I want to be remembered as the woman who overcame her past and learned to live in the moment.  I want to be remembered as a woman who did not touch the dangling carrot, the woman who did not need to be known, rich or famous but rather seen so others knew she cared.  I want to be remembered for being be me.”

Thank you for letting me share.

So, let me ask you.  How would you like to be remembered?