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Friday, April 27, 2012

Suffering is the Great Purifier

Several days ago I read these words...

Suffering is the Great Purifier

They startled me.  Rubbed raw at first.

I have not wanted to be reminded of mom's anguish and suffering as she journeyed through pancreatic cancer, an unrelenting year of trial and affliction.

The suffering was more than just physical, but mental and emotional as well. Pancreatic cancer is a destructive power, insidious and fierce.  The memories bring a deep, heart-rending pain that I want desparately to forget.

And yet, I know we will never forget.  The suffering and pain are interwoven with her sweet life.  Those memories can not be separated.  Pancreatic cancer changed the journey, and in so many ways I have felt the assault of that suffering like a punch to the gut. 

But as I read these words by Dr. David McKinley my breath caught.  I understood exactly what he meant.  The concept crystallized in an instant.  Perhaps you would allow me to share his perspective on suffering:

"Suffering forces us to turn from shallow distractions and smaller irritations to consider the ultimate issues in life.  It helps us get our eyes on something that really matters.  Too much of our time is spent worrying about things that don't matter.

Suffering is the great purifier of the pettiness that often consumes us in life.  One of the reasons some of us never develop into people of great character is because we constantly give our attention to the petty things of life.  Commentator George Will says 'pettiness is the tendency of people without large purposes.'  If you live with a large sense of purpose, then you're not going to let your life be burned up by all the little things that really don't matter.  If we ever lose sight of what we are about for eternity, then we miss everything that really matters in life and we focus on all the wrong things.  That's why Peter says (in I Peter 4:12-13) 'you are tested in the genuineness of your faith, so that it is more precious than gold.'  Your life needs to count for more than just the petty trivialities that so often consume us.  So suffering in life matters."

When faced with the enormity of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, we immediately stopped worrying about the petty, small things.  We focused on the really important matters...Life to the fullest, as much as possible, love shared at every turn, forgiveness offered, grace received, eternity prepared for... As it turns out, suffering really is the great purifier.

In this life, we will all face our "pancreatic cancer diagnosis" sooner or later.  Whatever it is that brings suffering into our lives, let it also be the vehicle of opening the eyes of our souls to a larger purpose, to the things and the people that really matter.  The trials that change the course of our life journey are the very things that turn our hearts towards eternity.

Does it change the pain?  No.  The scars wrought by mom's pancreatic cancer journey are here to stay.  But this perspective does change my attitude towards the suffering.  For if we had lost mom suddenly to a heart-attack or a car wreck, we would have missed the past year.  A year where suffering wiped clean the petty trivialities in our lives and helped us focus on the unbelievable gifts of a mother's love, a families devotion and a Grace that softened each memory into one of beauty.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Legacy Making

I love these old photographs.  Dad and I have been working on all those boxes from the attic!  And we have found precious pictures from the past.  I love, love these moments captured of mom and dad from their early years together.  The wedding, the babies (I'm the cute one in these pictures!)  These snippets of time frozen on film are the makings of a Family Legacy.

Mom left a beautiful Legacy for her family.  A life poured into the ones she loved.  And it gives me pause to think about the legacy that I'm leaving for my family.

Walking with mom through her Pancreatic Cancer Journey somehow distilled the priorites in my life. The small became inconsequential in the light of facing mom's last earthly days.  Leaving a Legacy.  I think about it alot.

What exactly is the Legacy I'm leaving behind for my family?  What will they remember?  What will they cherish?  What will they reject?  For whether I am doing things intentionally or unintentionally, my actions are leaving a path for the ones that follow. 

Legacy Making.  It's a deep subject.  Not sure I've really gotten it all ironed out, but there are a couple of things that lay heavy on my heart.  In the weeks to come I may be able to add to this list, for now it's a start. A way to intentionally lay a path for what's important in my life, to impress on the ones I love...

FAITH - It is the foundation for all that follows

FAMILY - Eternally connected, Make them a priority

SERVICE - People count, invest well

GRACE - At every turn, forgiveness, understanding and compassion

As I said, Legacy Making is a profound topic.  I am just beginning to scratch the surface of what it means. This I do know, our lives count to those around us.  Choosing to live out my faith, love my family, serve the comunity and give grace are some of the priorities I am challenging myself with.  

Intentionally Leaving a Legacy that will impart the things I value most to the ones I love best!

May this weekend be filled with all that's good and lead you down paths of Legacy Making of your own.  My Love, Jane  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's Bluebonnet Time

And time for a Road Trip to the Texas Hill Country!

Have daughter - will travel!!  And what fun we had...  A tank of gas and a map.  Our destination was central Texas.  Hill Country.  Wildflower Mecca.  We drove south from Dallas and got off the interstate in Austin.  From there we followed the back roads, slowed our pace to meandering, and rolled the windows down to take it all in!

And then we happened upon the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnett, complete with a loud and noisy parade, craft fair and cotton candy!  Small town Americana at it's homespun best:

Little Miss Bluebonnet and her Beautiful Court

No parade is complete without the Cowgirls and their Prancing Steeds

and the local High School Marching Band!

From there, we wandered the country roads and stumbled upon an old, one-room school house.  The historic marker proclaimed it the Prairie Mountain Schoolhouse, built in 1906, used as a school, and also as a place of worship.  While the building was abandoned, the wildflowers graciously tended the empty school yard and softened the barren landscape.

Even the old swingset was decked out for spring!

Finally, we arrived in the lovely town of Fredericksburg.  A destination all in itself!  Settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800's, it retains the vibrant heritage, and is full of charming bed-and breakfasts, authentic log cabins, amazing shopping, restaurants and award-winning wineries.

Fredericksburg is also known for being home to the largest, working wildflower farm in the nation, Wildseed Farms.  And that's where we headed!

Simply breathtaking.  Our pictures hardly do it justice!  We were surrounded on every side by blooms, fragrance and beauty.

The weekend flew by in marvelous moments.  Sharing the memories with Katie made it all the more special.  When the day-to-day drudgery pulls us down, we can draw on these heart-made-moments to lift our spirts!  And if you can't tell, I'm just crazy about Spring!  Makes me smile everytime...

May your day be filled with the beautiful reminders of God's Love Letter to humanity in blooming color...

In Grace Smiling,  Jane

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Perils of Beauty

I do love Spring!  Beauty at every turn...

But today I discovered the dark side to spring's enchantment!

Baby Copperhead sunning herself on our patio rocks...

Spring's warmth is drawing out the turtles, the butterflies, the hummingbirds, and the SNAKES!

And Texas has more than its share of venomous snakes.  We are blessed to be home to both copperheads and cottonmouths.  And I do so love the babies... just not this baby so close to my back door!

Something has to give.

We came to an amicable agreement that she could have the other 29 acres on our farmstead and I could keep my 1 acre homestead - snake free!  Any breach in this contract results in immediate death, hers or mine.  I am an equal opportunity employer after all...

But this creepy-crawly encounter reminds me that Beauty almost always comes with a price.  I am swept up in Spring's Charm, but shockingly aware of how close peril lies.

Even as we celebrated the glorious day of Christ's Resurrection this Easter Sunday past, the truth is evident.  The Beauty of the Cross in our Grace-filled lives, was birthed at great price...

May the Delights surrounding you this weekend be all the more Meaningful...
And the Pain never lost in the Journey to Beautiful...

There is a Peril in the Becoming, but oh, so worth it!

In Grace, Growing, Jane

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gardens and Girlfriends

The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quiet,
 alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all
 is as it should be and that God wishes to
see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.
                                         ~ Anne Frank

Spring...  Is there anything more enchanting?  Life all around takes on an energy, a luminescence that is breathtaking.  And my spirit responds in kind.  Satin petals grace even the most barren of sod and the birds return to charm our senses.  At each turn there is something more enticing.  A bloom to dazzle, a dappled ray of sun, the murmur of water, the fragrance of a thousand roses, a tiny horned toad scurrying ahead.  Laughter bubbles from deep, and joy spills.

Today was a day made just for this touch of nature at her most becoming.  A day made perfect with friends at their most lovely...

Join me for a walk through Clark Gardens in Weatherford, Texas...

Garden Girlfriends sharing Joy in their Love of all things Blooming!

Bluebonnets and Irises Abound!

Azaleas and Poppies Delight

PinkBonnets tease the Bluebonnets

Texas Horned Toad playing Hide and Seek

A Sea of Poppies

Sweet Contemplation
Balm to the Soul

Artistry of the Master

Can I doubt His Hand when I behold such Beauty?
Awestruck to believe the Creator of such Magnificance loves me Always and Forever.

He touches my Heart this day with longing, for this is just a glimpse of the Glories awaiting...

Enchanted by Grace, Jane

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Day Made for Rejoicing

Happy Easter!

And to make it even better, if that's possible...

Happy Birthday Autumn!

Our sweet grand-baby girl has turned 2...

Today was a celebration times two!!  It won't happen very often that Autumn's Birthday falls on Easter Sunday, so...

We Celebrated the Blessing!

With Balloons

And Cake

Young and Old...

with Smiles Contagious!

Celebrating the Beautiful Day of Autumn's Birth
and the
Glorious Day of Christ's Resurrection

An Old Rugged Cross and the Empty Tomb
give us the Map for our Journey...
And the Destination is Heavenly!!