Good Morning, Sunshine!

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~James M. Barrie

“The strangest thing just happened, ” he said as I was transplanting the Morning Glories. “I was spraying the grass with the hose and a hummingbird came and drank from it for about a minute.”

What a precious gift. Simple occurences, unexpected and beautiful, are refreshing and almost magical.

This morning, like most mornings, I stopped at the gas station. It just so happened that my oldest son pulled up at the same time. He didn’t see me yet. It made me smile to see him. I carried that joy with me as I approached the door and a man held it open for me, letting me pass through, smiling and greeting me with a “Hello.”

“Good morning, Brodes!” I had to say it twice before he heard me. He grinned from ear to ear and said, “I always see you here in the morning.”

“I know,” I admitted.

We both waited at the check-out as a new young man was being trained, my son standing two people behind me.

“Did I do it right?” I asked as I swiped my card and waited for the transaction to be approved.

“You did, Sunshine. Have a good day!” said the young man’s trainer who stood off to the side of his trainee.

Simple occurence.

Unexpected.

Beautiful.

Refreshing.

Almost magical.

And one more….transformative.

I climbed into my car and headed home, walked in the front door, and smiled.

“Good morning, Sunshine!” I said to Kenny. “Rise and shine.”

My mom used to say that every morning, now that I think of it.

It is the most wonderful phrase in the world to me, and needs to be said more often. ūüôā

Are You a Soldier or a Warrior?

He asked his friend, “What is the difference between a soldier and a warrior?”¬†The man who came from a long line of Samurai warriors replied,

“Soldiers wait for the battle to come to them and then fight for their life.

Warriors take the battle to the enemy and fight for a cause.”

What are you fighting for?

What stand are you making?

Are you a soldier or a warrior?

Do you know what you are willing to die for?

Do you know what you are willing to live (fully and courageously) for?

We are all soldiers in a way. Aren’t we? We wake up, do our day’s work, fielding questions, requests, and solving problems. We fight in and with our circumstances, sometimes with heavy albeit grateful hearts.

Happy Memorial Day. Enjoy the parades and cookouts with friends and family.

Remember those who fought for our freedom – the soldiers who serve around the world.

Honor them by living your life as a warrior. They gave you another day to live and to make a difference.

Find out what moves you to be the change that your world needs.

And go do it.

 

 

Are You All Locked Up?

“If love is the treasure, laughter is the key.” ~Yakov Smirnoff

“I’d much rather look for dead people than do all this¬†stuff. They are so much more fun!” I said as Judy watched me struggling with ¬†the locked closet door. “This kind of stuff drives me crazy.”

Oops! Did I say that?

“This stuff” that I’m no good at is the keeping track of keys.

Jackie exited the main room and went in search of our savior-in-waiting-key that she thought might be hiding in my desk in my office across the hall.

Someone had locked one of the closets in the Family History Center, probably thinking they were helping. Wouldn’t want anyone to steal those pedigree charts and family groups sheets now, would we? I’m territorial when it comes to the Center. It’s mine. And if I want to leave the closets unlocked, well, I will.

I quickly turned around to see Judy’s reaction for fear I’d offended her somehow. I noticed how sudden my reaction to my own words were. I’d become aware that my humor isn’t for everyone, and I’d started to question everything I said in the past few months.

Nope. She wasn’t offended. She was bent over laughing.

I can’t tell you how refreshing that was. She got it! She kept nodding her head through her laughter, relating to the life of people like us who’ll stay on the computer for hours….LOOKING FOR DEAD PEOPLE!

The more we talked about how we spend our time, the more absurd it sounded, and the harder we laughed. There’s something that happens to a person when they start working in family history. Dealing with death every day (the life and death of ancestors whose life we’re researching) makes a person see the world differently. I don’t know why, but everything gets joyful and problems aren’t so important or impossible to overcome.

I guess I’m talking about perspective. Not everyone sees life with the “don’t sweat the small stuff” perspective. Some people are very ¬†scared. I can tell pretty quickly if someone’s easily offended by the unique point of view and sense of humor ¬†genealogists / family historians share. But I can’t change them. And I’m done trying.

I’ve spent weeks¬†trying very hard¬†to walk the politically correct, don’t-step-on-anyone’s-toes walk.

I’d locked up my heart and buried the key to it in the “fear of rejection” pile.¬†¬†I don’t like locks or keys. I understand that some things are too valuable to trust others not to steal. But when it comes to my heart, no key is necessary except for the innermost recesses of it. Only some people get access to the depth of me. Over the years I’ve gone from the scared and extremely shy girl I was as a child to someone who (I thought) is comfortable with who she is.

But this staying locked up and scared is really hard work. For days I’ve sat in clouds of depression because, for me, laughter came at a price – a price I was scared to pay. I’ve concluded what I knew years ago to be true:

People who deal with life and death, especially family historians and genealogists, are a rare breed. Thier humor is deeper than most ¬†because they deal with reality differently. They don’t side-step it. They look human nature in the face and find the beauty and the chuckle. They are able to see who they are – their weaknesses, ¬†and strengths and find meaning and hope because they see patterns in the lives of their ancestors. They don’t get bogged down by being too short, fat, skinny, rich, poor, smart or ignorant because they are engrossed in the art of learning about and accepting people for who they were and what they had to overcome in order to “be”. That’s very freeing.

Family history is a life-changing endeavor. It changes us from the inside out in the best of all possible ways. It’s quite a mystery that I see repeated every time someone starts putting together their family tree. They are brought to life by the dead!

So, to wrap things up, I’ve found my tribe – where I belong and where I feel the most joy. If you want to find me, and the key to my heart, I’ll be at the Family History Center bridging the gap between the living and the dead, and having fun with my friends. And if you want to come, the door’s always open! But be prepared; we laugh about everything.

P.S. The key to the closet door is still missing. Might be taking hinges off or looking for a lock-picker.

P.P.S. Follow this link to see a 12 Most post featuring some awesome social media people whose faces I painted on potatoes! http://12most.com/2013/05/24/potato-portraits-of-social-media-goodness/

To Where You Are…

‚ÄúThe time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts‚Ķ.We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need‚ÄĒnot all the time, surely, but from time to time‚ÄĒto enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember‚ÄĒthe room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.‚Ä̬†~ Frederick Buechner,¬†A Room Called Remember; Uncollected Pieces

Can we talk for a minute? There are times to be quiet, to process, and to come to terms with a new reality. The tornadoes, the bombings, the school shootings, the factory collapses, and all of the other natural and man-made disasters – it’s a lot to take in.

 

Part of grieving is remembering. Could you tell me about your children jumping off furniture, running through the house when all you needed was quiet, or telling you silly knock-knock jokes about bananas that made no sense?

Could we sit together and go through your memories of him as they pour out of your heart?

The talking and sharing won’t heal you. It won’t make you feel any better. But the talking and sharing need to be done. You can’t avoid it. You might think you’re making me uncomfortable with your tears. But you’re not.

It’s the silence that’s uncomfortable. I know you need to remember and to talk.

I love you. I want to listen.

Why Did He Weep?

On the road to Bethany, Martha fell at her Messiah’s feet, clearly anguished.

“…Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”¬†John 11:21

That was the faith of Martha, and her sister, Mary.

Lazarus, beloved friend, brother of Mary and Martha, was dead. He had been dead for four days. Three was the limit. After that, the soul was no longer lingering, able to reenter the physical body. That’s what the people of his day believed. But Jesus, the One who had the power to raise people from the dead had tarried, purposefully, after receiving word that he was needed by His friends.

He continued on the road, not yet in Bethany, when Mary ran to him and fell at his feet, repeating the awful truth and incredible faith that her sister had delivered shortly before.

“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled…”

Then “Jesus wept.”¬†John 11:35

Anyone who has read the story knows what happens next. Lazarus is raised from the dead, dispelling the limiting belief that the impossible is always and forever set in stone.

Do you have limiting beliefs – things that you believe about yourself that cause you to withhold who you are, to give up on life?

  • This pain will never go away.
  • I’m an idiot.
  • I’m unloveable.
  • I can’t do that.
  • I’m a failure / loser.
  • etc.

Think about it. Where did those thoughts come from? You may have come to believe them, but are they true? Do you live your life collecting evidence of their validity?

He wept because you were born perfect and pure and the world can be a very hard place to survive.

He wept because He knows better, and hopes, like everyone who loves you, that you will believe the good and uplifting thoughts – the ones that say that the impossible is possible.

  • You are loveable, beautiful, capable, worthy of all good things, more than your accomplishments and riches and wisdom.
  • There is no one like you in the world, and never will be again.

Today is a new day, and might be a day for a miracle; perhaps a cloud in your mind will part and let in a particle of light that will remind you of the truth that has always been there:

You do not have to be bound by your limiting beliefs about yourself or the world you live in. You don’t have to believe the negative things people have said about you that hurt to your core and are more a part of you than anyone knows.

You are the only one who can change your mind. And with that choice comes the responsibility to give the gift of freedom to your loved ones who are also effected by the limiting beliefs they have about themselves, given to them by someone else in pain.

I hope you do. ūüôā

What Does Your Heart See?

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ¬†Anais Nin

“He’s¬†ugly!” she said with a frown and a squirm from her seat. The room went silent. There were a ¬†few shy giggles from some of the younger children who I could tell were suddenly assessing their opinion of the face of the man in the picture I was holding up as I told a story of him.

I was shocked, not because I wasn’t used to hearing about “ugly”, but because I¬†knew¬†I had to say something. It was one of¬†those¬†moments. And there are some things that I don’t do. Shaming a child is one of them. But, I was taken aback by the severe comment.

“I think he’s very handsome,” I blurted out without thinking. “Look at his eyes, and how calm his face is. He glows!”

She wasn’t sold on the “handsome,” and shook her head vehemently. “No. He’s ugly.”

The man in the picture who lived back in the early 1800’s didn’t need my defending. He¬†was handsome and that was all there was to it. But the children were collectively holding their breath, waiting to see who would win the war of ugly that was unfolding before their eyes. I said, looking straight into her eyes, as kindly as I could, “We see with our hearts.”

She squirmed again, and I could see her trying to understand what I’d said. To help her a bit I continued, “He looks stiff and uncomfortable, doesn’t he?” We talked briefly about picture-taking back then and how still a person had to be to have their picture taken.

“Maybe it’s just his hair.” So we joked about hairstyles in the 1800’s and agreed we like ours better.

I could see her heart softening to possibilities of beauty.

Neither of us “won” the perception “war”, but I knew we’d made progress. There had been a teaching moment for both of us. I needed to be the champion of beauty – the one who valued the soul of the person while giving place to the influence of a person’s life’s circumstances. ¬†She needed to cultivate the ability to see beyond what her eyes were telling her while at the same time trusting her gut that she saw something that made her uncomfortable.

Last week my two little boys, Kenney and James, sat next to me for over an hour watching a National Geographic documentary on China’s Elephant Man.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/videos/elephant-man-dream

They were mesmerized and scared at first by the face of Huang Chuncai. But they watched my reaction to the images and the heart-breaking story, and slowly saw him the way I saw him: he was a beautiful little boy (now a man) whose face and life were transformed, altered, and challenged by a huge tumor, who still needed friends, wanted to play, and was deeply appreciated by his family who treated him like the rest of the family even though he needed special care and attention. He was no longer grotesque and scary to my boys. I think they would have played with him if they had a chance. It just took being introduced to other possibilities in perception for them to make the shift.

I’ll leave you with a few questions and a story for you to contemplate as I will, too:

When I struggle, do you see my weakness or my strength?

When I produce something less than perfect, do you see success or failure?

When I speak, do you listen for my ignorance or my insights?

We can tell a lot about the state of our hearts and our perceptions of others with questions like these.

Here’s a story I found that goes a little deeper:

An old man sat outside the walls of a great city. When travelers approached they would ask the old man: “What kind of people live in this city?” And the old man would answer: “What kind of people lived in the place where you came from?” If the travelers answered: “Only bad people lived in the place where we came from.” Then the old man would reply: “Continue on, you will find only bad people here.” But if the travelers answered: “Only good people lived in the place where we have come from.” Then the old man would say: “Enter, for here, too, you will find only good people.” Noah benShae,¬†The Word, Jewish Wisdom Through Time

I hope we will want to train our hearts every day to ignore the darkness that the world paints over, through, and around the intrinsic beauty that’s always right in front of us.

I Often Go Walking

I often go walking in meadows of clover,
And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.
I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over;
Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.

O mother, I give you my love with each flower
To give forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through;
For if I love blossoms and meadows and walking,
I learn how to love them, dear mother, from you.

Words:¬†Phyllis Luch, 1937‚Äď1995. ¬© 1969 IRI

I wake up every Mother’s Day feeling like I do every other day, but with one extra thought: how can I let my children know how grateful I am to be a mom? Their mom? I would love to turn the honoring of me back onto honoring them, because without them I wouldn’t have a “mother job.” I always want to have a big party!

I nurture and love whether I have children around or not. That’s what women do. It comes naturally even if we don’t think so. I never dreamed of having children. I had no desire or interest in that part of life. Now I have nine children and I found out that I can love deeply, I can live without sleep, I can put someone else’s needs first, and I can forgive and let go of control like I never thought I could, and my heart can love and love and love, always stretching to let more people in!

I love being a woman who’s capable of nurturing and loving my own children, and hope that my home is never empty of them – mine or others’ children. I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity in this life to have them, and never take for granted that gift, knowing that there are so many who don’t get that opportunity.

My mother taught me to love quiet, spirituality, to never hold a grudge, to believe in people, to see the best in everything, frogs, water, animals, ¬†learning, studying, researching, hard work, good books, beautifully wrapped presents, men, ¬†children, listening, to live frugally but richly, dirt, flowers, the ocean, moving furniture, saving money for a rainy day, good health, beauty, and ….

me!

My mother has influenced me greatly. As I “walk” through life I carry with me the greatest lesson anyone has ever taught me. She shared with me how she “got through” labor and delivery with no medication right before I had my first child: “I just sank into the bed. I didn’t fight the pain.” I don’t know if you hear what I heard, but I use that phrase all the time, for any kind of pain be it spiritual, emotional, or physical. I don’t fight it, I just sit with it until it’s ready to leave. And it always does, because it never really was a part of who I am. It was just an experience, teaching me more about who I am, now and always.

I love you, Mom, Allison, Brody, Lauren, Kelley, Kyle, Connor, Madeleine, Kenney and James, and every other child who comes to enjoy life with me!

That might be you!

Happy Mother’s Day