Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Mom and Daughter Reconciled

May 2010

To be honest, I don't really remember exactly when and how we started communicating again, I just know it had been several months. It was a text here and an email there that said something to the effect of, 'Hey, just checking in and I love you.' Sometimes a few words are all it takes to start melting hearts that have hardened and put walls up for emotional protection. And then my phone rang and I saw my daughter's name pop onto the screen for the first time in months. And my heart nearly stopped.

My family and a few friends had gathered at my favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate my birthday when she called. We chatted and laughed and then she asked to talk to everyone else. My husband, her step-dad got on the phone and the first words out of his mouth were, 'I love you Kenz.' And that was how we started over. It wasn't any one big moment or event, but several small steps where we just caught up with each other on the phone, chatting about life and the mistakes we'd both made, forgiveness, her future and how she wanted to come back home after graduation. And, it wasn't without a few bumps in the road, but it always came back to the fact that we knew no matter what we loved each other.

I attended my daughter's graduation in June and it was the first time in seven months I'd seen her. The moment the ceremony was done it was all I could do to keep from knocking down the people in front of me who were moving so slowly out of the stadium so I could get to my daughter. I can't really describe the feeling of when she saw me, yelled, 'Mom!' and ran up to give me the biggest hug ever because there just aren't words for it. It was totally awesome and lets just say a picture is worth a thousand words.



There were some very dark moments in the months my daughter was gone and I have no doubt that those who were prayer warriors (and there were many) for me and Kenzi in that time helped to speed up the reconciliation process. I'm not sure I can express the magnitude of my gratefulness for those who were willing to listen to my rants, and frustrations and probably some good old fashioned pity party whining. It was through those very awesome friends that I saw the slivers of light that pierced the very dark moments.

My daughter is now living back in Bend, attending church, working and in the Criminal Justice program at our local community college, with the intention of going to the Police Academy. I don't think a day goes by that we don't chat on the phone (several times) or see each other. I am proud of the young woman she has become and every day I thank God for her, the challenges we faced that brought us closer together and the light that pierced the dark.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Trail of Reconciliation


**This is Part One of Three about reconciling with my teenage daughter. To see Part 2, please continue reading.**

November 2009
There was a light covering of snow on the ground as I made my way along the river trail. Two weeks had passed since I'd been there and I noticed that a lot had changed in that short amount of time.

I dressed for the elements, knowing that a storm had blown through the day before and unsure of how much snow I'd be traversing. Luckily there wasn't much snow, but what there was had already been trampled by enough hikers to make the trail somewhat slippery.

I'd forgotten that as treacherous as each uphill is in the snow, it's the downhill that I had to worry about. I began to question why I picked the hilliest part of the trail to hike and not just because of the conditions, but because I'd been sick for well over a week and my lungs were making sure I remembered that.

The last time I hiked the trail there were still some remnants of falls colors, with what leaves remained were clinging to their branches as if unwilling to succumb to their fate of spending winter on the cold hard ground. The squirrels were chattering and scurrying about and the birds were extremely vocal, especially when Boz encroached in their space.

Today, the woods were still except the lone crow who was flushed out of his hiding space and made no secret of his irritation with the rogue Boz-dog on the trail. The squirrels and birds were eerily silent and nowhere to be seen. The trees were completely bare and not a single leaf was spared, with the last ones to fall being scattered along the trail. I came upon a fallen aspen tree that a few weeks ago had been the picture of vibrancy with all of it's leaves in full fall color. Now, the leaves were gone and it was left laying on the ground, never to produce leaves again.

As I walked the trail and took in all the change that happens from spring, to summer, to fall and finally winter, I realized that my life in the past week resembled the trail that was preparing for winter.

You see, it wasn't being sick that took the life out of me and brought on the season of winter, it was watching my daughter walk out the door without looking back. It was seeing her dark brown eyes turn nearly black as she spit out the words, 'you need me...' as she packed up her belongings. She said those words more than once and in several different ways in the time it took her to pack her worldly possessions. You. Need. Me.

There was a moment where it hit me , and I don't know who she was trying to convince. I'm not sure if she was saying that over and over to convince herself that yes, she was needed, or trying to convince me that letting her go was going to be the biggest mistake of my life. All I know is that two people were feeling dead inside as she walked past me and uttered, 'whatever,' as she walked out the door.

I have refused to cry or feel anything but anger and indifference. I don't want to talk about what led up to my daughter leaving her home or why she screamed she hated me. I don't want to let go of the anger because I know when I do that the hurt will come and it is going to be worse than anything I've ever felt. And, I know that once the tears start they won't stop.

For now, the trail understands my pain. It is colorless, cold, empty of life and waiting. Waiting for the next season to bring hope of new life.

*****************************************************************************
Part 2

December 2009
For over five weeks I had avoided going into her room but I knew sooner or later I was going to have to face the daunting task of packing up the things she left behind.

I looked around the room and took in the few items left hanging in the closet, mainly the old clothes she didn't wear anymore. The desk held a few nick knacks, school supplies and stuffed animals. The walls had been left mostly bare except for the remnants of her high school volleyball days and a random tack here and there.

I climbed up on the bunk bed and began taking down the volleyball shirts one-by-one. Player number on the front, name across the back.

To continue reading Part Two, please visit my good friend Kathy Richards over at her blog. These posts are entries in Bridget Chumbley's Reconciliation blog carnival.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Tale of Hope: The Butterfly Circus

This past Sunday our church showed a short film titled, "The Butterfly Circus". It takes place during the depression and is about a renowned circus showman who travels across the American countryside bringing hope and happiness to those who are in desperate need of it. One of the characters, Will, is played by Nick Vujicic. If you have never heard of or seen Nick speak in person then you should go to his website, Life Without Limbs, find out if he is speaking near you and go.

A few years ago our community experienced Nick and his incredible enthusiasm for life and the huge love he has for others. He traveled throughout our local schools sharing his life story with our kids and then graciously spoke at our church. On September 25th he will be back in Bend for the I Heart Central Oregon campaign event. This time, his story will spread even farther and wider than it did a few years ago and if there is a community that could use the message of hope he brings, ours is it. (If you have not clicked on his website yet and are still wondering what the big deal with Nick is then I highly suggest you open a new tab on your internet and go there now.)

I want to share The Butterfly Circus with you and I hope you will take 20 minutes out of your hectic schedule to watch it. It's a not-so-gentle reminder that what may seem hopeless to us, isn't to the One we serve.



This is part of Bridget Chumbley's One Word At A Time Blog Carnival on Hope. Please head on over to Bridget's blog to check out what other's are sharing on hope.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Excellent Use of Time

It's been pretty smokey here today due to a large fire that is currently burning up the forest near one of my favorite areas. The cause is under investigation and I can only hope it's not because some genius threw their cigarette out the window in the middle of the national forest.

I figured the best way to escape the smoke was to head 26 miles up the road to a trail head on the opposite side of the mountain from where the fire is burning. I was not disappointed because half way to my destination the smoke cleared and all I could see was blue sky and the mountain. It looked something like this.



Now I like to share my hiking experiences with my friends and a mile or so up the trail I realized I still had cell service so I snapped these pictures and sent them to a few gals who I knew would appreciate the scenery. (This water in this creek is snow melt from the surrounding mountains.)





Candy promptly sent me a picture of a hamburger she'd made, which would have been extremely tasty and well enjoyed while overlooking the creek.

Marni asked what the temperature was (a lovely 72) and then informed me her dear husband announced they were moving to Oregon(yay).

Boz and I continued our hike and I'm not sure that it gets any better than this.



Or this.



There are a lot of wildflowers in bloom and everything is so green. Except this little guy.



And these.



Boz was kind of being a big wuss about crossing the foot bridge.



But, once he figured it out he kept going back and forth across it. Dork.





I guess it wasn't a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Incredibly Bright Idea

The other morning as I was sitting on my deck, reading the paper, drinking my coffee and enjoying what's left of my mountain view (thanks to neighbors who added a 2nd story to their house and the trees that continue to grow thus blocking all but the top of the mountain, but I'm not bitter about it)when I had this incredibly bright idea. I mentioned to Jon that we should take the mountain bikes up to Three Creeks Lake.

So, I packed a picnic, we loaded up the bikes (and dog) and headed north for the 40 minute drive up to the Three Sisters wilderness. Let me just say that there is no lack of awesomeness up in those mountains. See what I mean?





Summers here are great, once they get going. Heat without humidity – which I totally dig, but I’m not sure why we waited until the heat of the day to go riding. Not like it was a tough ride or anything. The only bummer was the fact I couldn’t find my biking gloves(you know, the ones without half the fingers) which makes for sweaty, dirt-covered hands, because I’m usually riding in Jon’s dust. Add that to the issue of having the gear shifter on the handle bar grip so every time I stood on the pedals my hands slipped and so did the gears. After a few looks from Jon for having ‘words’ with my bike, I got over it, sucked it up and enjoyed the view from the trail.







The mosquitoes are in full frenzy mode right now so I brought the 99% Deet spray with me. This drives the environmentalists crazy, but I’m an eight-course meal for those pests (the mosquitoes, not the environmentalist, although the environmentalists are pests too) and I’ll take my chances with depleting the ozone AND getting cancer. So, halfway up the trail when I stopped by the lovely brook to take some pictures, reality dawned on me when the first danged mosquito landed on my arm. I left the Deet in the car. Go ahead, say it. Geeeenius. At last tally I was only sporting about 12 bites and counting. Not bad.



This is the upper lake that we made it to and as you can see, it awesomely spectacular AND there was no one up there. I love having the lake to myself because I'm really selfish that way. And, I even forged the raging waters. Total risk taker.









When we got back down the trail we pulled out the picnic and as soon as we sat down to eat, Bozley proceeded to go into some kind of convulsive maneuver, rolling and flopping around like a mad monkey in the dirt.











Apparently he thought this would suffice in taking care of the dirt issue. Duh-m dog.



Not so. He got the dreaded bath when we got home.

The End.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Live in The Craziest Place on Earth: What Happens When You Euthanize a Few Annoying Geese

Apparently I can now be completely embarrassed by some residents of my home town because of this. Not only is my town famous for the first 'man' to ever birth a baby, which was a big joke because the 'man' was actually a woman who supposedly had a sex-change but kept her ovaries in case she wanted children (and in my book that is a woman having a baby) but we can now add our town as being the first ever to hold a memorial service for euthanized geese.

Seriously.

According to Foster Fell, who has worked relentlessly to organize the memorial service, he moved here two years ago to rub elbows with Central Oregon's wildlife and is now appalled over the fact that our Parks and Recreation District had to euthanize some geese because the goose population is out of control.

You see, not only has everyone else in the country decided to make Bend their home, but so have a gazillion geese. Because the Parks District has done such a fabulous job of creating parks in our town, the geese have decided to fore go migrating in favor of staying here year round in order to enjoy the rivers, grass, sun, snow and all those lovely lawns of anyone who happens to live within close proximity of one of those very nice parks.

So, while Foster Fell is rubbing elbows with all of those geese, the rest of us are having a hard time enjoying the parks because we're too busy dodging all of the goose crap that covers every square inch of those beautiful grassy parks.

The Parks District spends thousands every year cleaning up after and repairing damage caused by the geese and the euthanizing of 109 geese (that was approved by the USDA and ODFW) was a last ditch effort to ease some of that burden that tax payers like myself foot the bill for. The best part? The geese were used to feed the many homeless men, women and children in the community. So, while Foster Fell for the past few days has been 'nursing a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat' and feels the need to 'bring people together to pray, sing songs and console each other' over some dead geese, he can rest assured that the goose meat went to a good cause. Feeding the communities homeless. You know, HUMAN BEINGS.

I did a quick Google search of Foster Fell to see what else he's holding memorial services for and I couldn't find a thing. So just out of curiosity Foster Fell, have you,

'Nursed a tear and a had a lump in your throat every time an American soldier died defending your rights and the rights of others in Iraq or Afghanistan?'

'Nursed a tear and had a lump in your throat for every man, woman and child in our community who is homeless and has to rely on a soup kitchen for food and a shelter for a bed to sleep in?'

'Nursed a tear and had a lump in your throat for the children who suffer physical and mental abuse at the hands of someone they are supposed to be able to trust?'

'Nursed a tear and had a lump in your throat for the families whose lives have ended in tragedy and we don't have the answers why.'

Perhaps you have. But I am still left wondering.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

So That's Your Excuse

I guess it's been several weeks (okay, months) since I've done any kind of regular posting on this blog. I've got a ton of excuses as to why that is, but let's just chalk it up to laziness. At this point I should promise to do better but I'm not going to. Mainly because I don't like to break promises. So instead, let's just have a 'whoa, she posted!' moment and and while you sit in feigned shock, I'll give you an update of what's been going on in my world.

Summer is here. Finally. I know I've been whining about winter since it began last October and for the past three months when we should have had spring it's done nothing but rain and frost. Rain and frost. If I never see another drop of rain I'm okay with that. I don't know how people in Seattle do it and I'm frankly shocked our newspapers(well, internet) aren't filled with stories of crazy, angry people who are driven to be mass murderers because of the constant gloom called rain that hangs over that city. I think that was happening in Bend. We were all becoming an angry, intolerant bunch, but now that summer is here, and there are no clouds in the sky and we've hit temps of 84 degrees, we're all happy, laughing, smelling flowers and in generally good humor once again. Mainly because the area looks like this:



You may know, or not, that several months ago my daughter moved out of town to live with her dad (long story). Anyway, she graduated in June. A few months prior we had actually started talking again via email, phone and Facebook. And it was good. I went to her graduation and it was the first time in seven months I'd seen her. Now I can't really describe the feeling of when she saw me, yelled, 'Mom!' and ran up to give me the biggest hug ever because there just aren't words for it. It was totally awesome and lets just say it was a very happy moment (as you can see from the picture).



She is now living back in Bend, we talk daily and see each other a lot. So it's all good.

The kids are done with school (two days early as a matter of fact because our state is in the worst financial way ever and told us we'd have last minute budget cuts so let's hit education, of course) and Killian's best buds were in town from Arizona for a long weekend. I don't know about you, but the first thing I think of when I see a crappy old mattress in the junk pile out back is figuring out how to ride that thing down the street. Okay, not really, but the boys did (they were even chivalrous enough to let me ride on it) and they had a ton of fun riding this thing down the hill. Without helmets, of course, because we live life on the edge in our house.





Killian's cousins in Virginia are already trying to figure out where to score a mattress and some wheels so they can get in on the fun when Killian arrives. I'm sure it's going to be a big hit with all those young Rednecks. It'll rate right up there with shotgun fishing.

Since I know you will ask, yes, Boz is now much happier with summer being here. He had his first swim of the season yesterday and then got to go to the lake today. It's a rough gig being Boz. Well, not really.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thank You Veterans

In honor of all the Veterans, past and present, my family and I would like to say Thank You for your dedication to service and for giving more than most of us could ever understand to preserve the freedoms our forefather's set forth for all of us in the United States.

God Bless you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Longest Season

It was a long winter and it's been an even longer spring. Winter was mild compared to what my friends and family back east endured. I don't remember much snow fall in my town and it seems we had a lot of 50° days.

Spring is a different story. The picture is of an apple tree next to our driveway, and as of yesterday, that's pretty much what most trees in this area look like. Fairly leafless. That would mainly be due to the freezing temperatures every night and the cold days. Today it inched just above sixty for the first time in weeks but regardless, the storm clouds are hanging overhead, ready to unleash the rain at any given moment. For a person who loves spring and the 70° days, budding trees, flowers pushing through the ground and lying on the grass looking up at the sky, the lack of all these things has made me somewhat anxious. Anxious, because I'm ready for this season to be over.

As I type, the wind is picking up and blowing through the open windows of my office, rustling the papers on my desk. In the reflection of my computer screen, I can see the trees bending and swaying as the storm moves in. When I look out the window, my gaze falls upon the island in the middle of our lawn. Right now, it's still mostly dirt and a few lifeless looking plants and two little rogue flowers that survived winter and have determinedly pushed their way through the ground.

If I may make an observations, it's that there is one thing nature can teach us and that is to weather the storm no matter what the days bring because the season will eventually change. Persistence brings strength and don't be fooled by appearance because sometimes, the strongest appear to be the weakest. Those little flowers look awfully delicate to me, but they have survived frost, snow, hail, pounding rain and little warmth in the past few weeks. That's determination. And determination brings hope.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Remembering Joy

Joy. A small three-letter word that simply means a state of happiness and a source of delight. There are a lot of things that bring me great joy and I have captured many those on film. These aren't just photographs, but a reminder of the many joys in my life.

The mystery of what's behind closed doors.







Old glory waving in the wind.









An old cabin on the river, in the woods.



A rustic chapel where hymns are still sung on Sundays.



The color green.





And blue...





Knowing that the squirrel always wins 'the chase'(and that cracks me up).







Rushing waters.





Little children.



A good campfire that warms my toes.



Street art.



Real whipped cream.



Family...





And friends.



Joy.