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Musical Monday…Seasons and Waves

 Ecclesiastes is not necessarily one of my fave books of the Bible. It is said to have been written by King Solomon towards the end of his life…and it leans a tad cynical with a twinge of regret. I usually gravitate towards the creation in Genesis, the love of 1st John, or the smack down truth of Romans.  But there are times when Ecclesiastes is exactly where I am at.

This past weekend was one of those times.

I wanted to know when it would stop making me sad to go to Aldi, when I could see strawberries and not well up, when sunshiny spring days wouldn’t make my heart hurt, and when Friday night would not seem so empty.

Sounds weird…yeah. But Nana used to call me and ask me to run her to Aldi. Sunshiny spring days we’d play Scrabble on the deck. Whenever strawberries were on sale at Kroger or Meijer I’d pick them up for Papa. Friday night for a really long time was Papa date night. 

Saturday was the anniversary of Nana’s departure to heaven. Papa’s birthday is this Friday. And Papa left to join Nana in heaven on the 30th. March was rough last year…and even harder this year.

I’ve heard grief comes in waves. Well it’s quite the swell today.

When I was asking when those memories would make me smile instead of well up…I heard this…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT
Today I’m sad…but thinking of her also made me smile. Same for Papa.

Nana started me on my family tree researching. I loved calling her with breakthroughs and showing her printouts of documents. I miss that. 

I miss being called “Missy.”

I miss her dancing with us in the basement to the 8-Track of silly songs.

I miss Papa date night. 

I miss mall walking with him and him tattling on me to Nana if I bought something while we were there.

I miss looking at the “fake” art, and leaning my head on his shoulder watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

 I will always miss them. 

 Point to ponder while you wander… Enjoy today with your people! Embrace the ups and downs, and use them to cultivate a deeper relationship. It’s worth it.

PS..this is a musical Monday so…here’s The Byrds version of the scripture above…it’s a groovy tune.  “Turn Turn Turn

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The Cabin

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To you this may just be a simple black cabin with a red chimney on some river.  But to our family, this is “The Cabin.”

The Cabin exists in the memories of 5 generations of our family as the home of Joe and Bettie Kane.  We fortunate few called them Boppie and NaNa.  Many of my childhood memories took place here at The Cabin.  My parents got married here.  I learned to swim here.  I caught my first fish in the trout stream here.  I got pecked in the head by a chicken here.  I learned that fresh dill and chives were awesome in cottage cheese, and fresh picked mint helps an upset stomach here. Against the wishes of my parents, I jumped off the cliff behind the garage into the sand here.  I have many many memories…here are a few…

NaNa had a huge vegetable garden.  When I was small (I want to say 5…maybe 6 years old) I wanted to help her so she had me pulling weeds with her.  But I pulled plants too.  So she sat me in the potatoes and showed me how to kill potato bugs with my fingernails, while she replanted her vegetable plants.  It’s most likely the reason I don’t fear bugs now.

The garage was Boppie’s domain.  In the garage was a beer fridge.  It was filled with Papst Blue Ribbon, AKA “Boppie Beer” and usually some Faygo Rock N’ Rye, Red Pop, or Root Beer for us.  On the outside was an acronym that I tried for years and years to figure out what it meant.  Here’s the acronym:  KYHOOTIBWP.  Seriously what the heck does that even mean?  I asked him and asked him over the years to tell me what it meant.  He’d just laugh and say, “Figure it out Jill-o.”  I begged him one summer’s day to tell me what it meant.  I think I was about 12 or 13 and he finally told me, “Keep Your Hooks Out Of This Ice Box Without Permission.” I felt cool.  Like I was in the know.  Still makes me smile.

When I was 8 or 9, my dad, one of his brothers, a friend of the family, and Boppie went out to their carefully selected and prepared blinds to hunt.  They had been feeding deer in the nearby woods in preparation for hunting season, muzzle loading season specifically.  NaNa, Brian (son of friend of the family), and I were sitting there eating cookies, when all of a sudden NaNa says, “SON OF A BITCH!  There’s that damn deer that’s been eating my garden all summer.”  She grabs her rifle off the wall.  Loads it.  Opens the little kitchen window and pulls the trigger.  She looks at us and says come on.  She hands me the camera and smiles.  She and Brian dragged it to the garage where they hung it up, and she dressed it.  I took a couple pictures and we went inside and washed up. We were just sitting there waiting for everyone to come back.  Finally they did.  NaNa asked if anyone got anything.  They all shook their heads and sadly plopped down on the couch.  I couldn’t contain my excitement as I squealed, “NaNa did.  It’s hanging in the garage.”  Four stunned faces stared at me, as I jumped up and down in excitement telling them the story.

As I think on it now, I laugh because she didn’t have to say a word or gloat or anything.  She let the little blonde with the pigtails do it all for her.  My reward was that she cooked the liver up with onions, just for me.  That may not seem like a reward to you, but that’s because you never had NaNa’s liver and onions.  Nearly every time I visited them as an adult she would make me liver and onions and we’d talk.  I miss that.

When I would get to stay the night at NaNa and Boppie’s, I slept in the bunk room.  It was a small room with built in bunk beds.  There were books, games, and toys in there for the kids when they visited.  And Tyg.  Tyg was a stuffed tiger pillow that belonged to all of us grand kids.  He was much loved.  Anyway…in the morning when we got up for breakfast you could have any cereal you wanted…usually the choices were some flaky cereal like Wheaties, Rice Krispies, and a few flavors of Chex.  The cool thing about this though, was you got to put the powdered chocolate Nesquick on whichever cereal you chose.  I’m pretty sure Bops should have gotten credit for all Cocoa Krispies and any other cereal flavored with chocolate.

The big deal at The Cabin was when you were 12 you were allowed to drive the golf cart around with all the smaller kids in it.  I only drove it once.  My dad was instructing me.  We were in the field next to The Cabin when he was teaching me reverse.  Now the field is large and mostly wide open, except for one telephone pole in the center of it.  I backed into the one hazard in the whole field.  I didn’t do any damage to the cart, but I was the one kid who only drove it once.  I think my dad is as to blame as I was….but it is what it is.

I remember sitting there eating my very chocolaty cereal and watching the birds out the picture window.  NaNa had a big book about the birds of North America, and I loved calling out the names of the ones I knew and looking up the pictures of the ones I didn’t.  Black-Capped Chickadees are still my favorites.  I remember standing at the flagpole in the middle of the yard and teaching my siblings the Pledge of Allegiance.  I remember the Easter Tree filled with all those little plastic eggs, and a blow up Easter Bunny.  I remember sneaking apple slices out of the tub filled with salt water (the apples were being prepped for applesauce). I remember the artesian well that never stopped running with the freshest, coldest water you can possibly imagine.  You don’t forget washing up in water that cold.  Ever.

I have so many memories…but these are a few of the ones that came to mind today.  I hope they make you smile or even chuckle.

Point to ponder while you wander…It’s not necessarily the expensive gifts or trips that stick long in the memory of the kids in your life.  It’s the seemingly little things.  An inside joke.  A small tradition.  Those are the memories that count because they are the ones that last.

PS: Today is NaNa’s Birthday and Monday is Boppie’s Birthday.  Happy Birthday, in Heaven, NaNa and Boppie!

 

Turning a Bad Night Around

Last New Year’s Eve I was supposed to hang out with someone, they bailed on me last minute. I was irate.

New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday…so I did not want to stay home and mope.

But what was I going to do?

Go dancing?

Nah.

Find a party?

Nah.

Call other friends?

Uh…maybe.

Go celebrate with Nanny and Pops?

Yes!

So I stopped at CVS and bought some party hats and sparkling grape juice and showed up to celebrate with them completely unannounced.

Here’s some of the fun we had…

I didn’t know it then, but this was their last time ringing in the new year. A few short weeks later Nanny went into the hospital and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Two months later I lost them both.

I am so glad I chose to interrupt their quiet evening and keep them up til midnight; singing and dancing around their house, and laughing with them.

Point to ponder while you wander… Please take time to celebrate milestones. Be silly! Enjoy the people in your life. Those memories of giggles and sillyness strengthen and buoy you in the sad times. Trust me on that.

Cheers to great memories! And Happy 80th Birthday, Nanny!

 

Memory

Sigh.

Sometimes on social media I hear from someone I had forgotten about. This past week it was an ex from wayyyyyyy baaaaaack in High School. I haven’t spoken to him or thought about him in probably a decade or more…probably more.

But the second I saw his name it was like BAM POW KA-BLAM.

I’m suddenly 17.

I see him pull up to take me out for our last date before he leaves for the military.

He looks somber & his eyes are red.

He takes my tiny hands in his big muscular ones…then slowly slides his class ring off my finger. The ring I’d meticulously wrapped with fuzzy yarn so it would fit.

All he said was, “I’m sorry.”

Then he left.

I remember everything about that moment except how long I stood in the entry way of my house in shock before my mom discovered me there.

I remember hearing Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting For You” when I opened the door. That song still makes me cry, but until today I couldn’t remember why.

I remember I hyperventilated from crying so hard that night.

I remember realizing that I really loved him, and wondered if he ever really loved me.

I had all but forgotten about that guy…so it amazes me how vivid and tangible that single memory of him remains.

Why I Loved Him

One of the most beautiful moments of my life was also one of my most heart wrenching.

My sister and I went to the assisted living center where our Boppie (Grandpa) had been living. We knew he only had hours left but being there in that moment made my heart ache and my eyes fill.

When my sister left the room, I asked him if I could pray with him and he nodded. I prayed that he would be at peace and know that He made a difference in our lives. And truly understand our lives were better because he was in them. I prayed he would know how much we loved him.

When I opened my eyes I saw tears streaming down his face. I didn’t realize then what a gift it was. I didn’t know my voice telling him I loved him and his life mattered were the last things he would ever hear on this side of heaven.

But I know now.

I know now that those few moments with him were a precious gift. The value of that time with Boppie was made really clear to me when my sister called to tell me our Dad had died.

I had been trying to get a hold of him for over a week. But I wasn’t worried about it because I was going up there and would see him that next weekend. But that next weekend was 3 days too late.

Thankfully the last time I talked to him I did tell him I loved him. But I wish I would have told him why I loved him and that he mattered.

So in honor of my Daddy I’m going to tell you why I loved him.

I loved him because he had compassion for people. I understand the compassion of Jesus better because I saw it displayed in my Dad.

I loved him because he took me ice fishing.

I loved him because he never judged me when I did something. Laugh at me, yes absolutely, never judgment. 😄

I loved him because he grilled year round. I can still see standing out in the snow; wearing cut off shorts, a t-shirt, winter boots & a flannel shirt. No one can grill a perfect steak like my Dad.

I loved him because he was always proud of me, even when my life was not going well.

I loved him because he could build and fix stuff, and finish pretty much every crossword.

I loved him because he was Grampie Vampire to his grand kids. They were his favorite people.

I loved him because he was all in when telling a tall tale; even to the point of dumping Raisinettes on the ground and eating them to convince my cousin deer poop tasted like chocolate covered raisins. But only if it was fresh.

I loved him because he accepted me as his own when I was a toddler. And even after he and my mom divorced, he still claimed me as his own. He never once referred to me as his step-daughter. Step didn’t exist with him or with his Dad (AKA Boppie who technically was Dad’s step-father).

And I will love him forever simply because he is my Daddy and I am his daughter.

I’m gonna stop here because I’m crying now and I also want to make a suggestion. Please tell your people you love them AND tell them why you love them. They may not realize how special and important they truly are.

Point to ponder while you wander… “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life.” Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT

Constant

Today is a random pondering day for me. I’m thinking about the change and why I love to hate it. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote by Heraclitus of Ephesus,”The only thing that is constant is change.”

He also said, “Everything changes and nothing stands still. You could not step twice in the same river; for other waters are ever flowing onto you.”

It’s why I love photography so much. Capturing a moment in time and preserving it forever. A baby’s first smile or steps. Your childhood best friends who you swear will always be there. A flower in full bloom or that ever flowing river that will never be the same again.

The danger is holding so tight to those moments that we get stuck and refuse to move forward. I can’t ever get yesterday back. I can’t stop my nieces and nephews from getting taller than me or my grandparents from aging. There are times I want to go back and relive moments and times when I want to go back with a giant eraser. But I can’t. None of us can.

All we can do is find a balance of taking the memories with us but not letting them paralyze us from embracing the new day we are in right now.

I like the quote by W.Somerset Maugham, “Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”

Embrace every day and every new season. Be all in. That’s my goal right now. To really live, not to just exist. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. He didn’t come so we could just survive.

I know I’m all over the place but it’s where I am right now. I’m in a time of serious transition. I don’t have any idea what will happen tomorrow. Hence my quoting of quotes and rambling. I feel like I’ve been in a season of constant motion. I feel like I’ve got motion sickness and the speed of which the days and weeks are rolling by are making me dizzy with a tinge of nausea. I feel like I spend so much time trying not to fall down and figure everything out that I’m wasting these precious days I should be living to their fullest. I feel like a fan, vacillating back and forth between fear of failure and fear of missing out on what my life could have been.

That being said, here’s a change quote from me…”There are two constants in this life;one is change and the other is a God who doesn’t.” -Jill Nicholson

I have to keep reminding myself that I can rely on God to constantly love me every day. He loves me whether I’m embracing life that day or I spent it sitting on the couch with my knees pulled up sobbing. I can trust that He is the same every day. He is forever faithful and keeps His word. I need those reminders daily lately, because all my safety nets are gone now. I have the words God gave me and the promises. That’s it. And it’s scarier than vampire clowns to someone who has grown accustomed to schedules and routines.

I have always trusted God in theory. I mean He’s done some spectacular things through random and ordinary people. I know he can do anything. But I also know me. I tend to be like that ever changing river that flows down the easiest path. I’m not a fan of mountains or climbing. I like the view but the risk of the fall vs the spectacular view…well I choose to purchase the photo of the view from someone who was crazy enough to climb said mountain.

Do you know what happens when you trust God only in theory? He tests your theory. When God tests your theory, He proves it beyond any doubt. I’m witnessing with my own eyes how faithful He is. I am experiencing what peace in chaos actually feels like. (FYI it’s awesome) So while I still have no idea what will happen tomorrow or how all the chaos in my life will be worked out. I know that it will be worked out for my good, because that is the God I serve and love. He does not change. He is always faithful. He is always trustworthy. He always loves and reacts in love.

This is what I am telling myself today. Change is constant. But so is God.

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 NLT

“I am the Lord,and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6 NLT

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NLT