I was standing in the bathroom this morning listening to music while making the waves in my hair a bit wavier with the curling iron.  Totally lost was I in the routine of getting ready, feeling the music, and letting my thoughts wander through my mind's wildflower patch.  How long he stood there watching me, I don't know.  When I looked up there stood my husband gazing, transfixed - me totally unaware that he had been staring.  He had such a look of love on him, completely caught up watching and loving.  I asked how long he had been standing there.  His eyes lit up and love filled all the space around him, "A few minutes," he said.  As he gently kissed my cheek and pulled me in close I heard his words of love.  But even if there would have been no words, I felt his silent language powerfully.  Just the day before we got a call from a friend of ours with news that his wife's cancer had returned - stage 4, metastasized and widespread.  Without any treatment her life expectancy would be 3-6 months and not much more with treatment.  That news left me rattled, both for them and what it made me think about in my own life.  You can know in your head that all of life is iffy and borrowed - that we don't know the start or stop of it - that God ordains life and death.  But when parameters are set, measured, shortened by such news, we are not ready to end all that we know and love . . . life.  Illness is devastating, overwhelming, moves you to the pit area of life and forever changes things.  I thought about cancer and what role it had played in my world years earlier.  I thought about how much I love my life now, how much I love my husband, how finally I was experiencing joy and love and fulfillment.  I thought about what I would do faced with the news our friends had gotten.  What exactly would I feel or decide in terms of treatment, or no treatment, about leaving this earth and my family behind.  From there I thought about age.  Whether we get cancer, heart disease, or something else that takes our life, we all age and reach death.  I tried to suppress a sorrow inside of knowing the day would come, naturally from age or illness that I would be separated physically from Doug and those I love.  This amazing love in the physical world of life would cease.  We are not immortal.  There is a physical end.  God speaks about holding possessions (literal and non-literal possessions) loosely in life as they are finite, passing, ending.  He tells us to instead set our minds on things above.  God must know how deep sorrow can be.,  What a fine line to love our life, our relationships, the gifts God gives us, to be fulfilled in life but also to realize there is more.  I cannot see that more from my vantage point fully.  It requires faith, trust and trading what I know is behind Curtain Number 1 for what I don't fully comprehend or see for what is behind Curtain Number 2.  I thought about our friends, asking God to give them joy for whatever journey or time is in front of them, eyes beyond their humanity and pleasure in each other knowing that their love originated from God.



I am going to uncover a mystery for men realizing that they don't often venture into the world of purses.  No doubt they were reared with a healthy fear and respect for their mother's purse.  When I was a kid I remember my mom's purse.  It was somewhat out of fashion, always unsnapped or zipped, and crammed to the brim with some things identifiable and many not.  To the eyes of a child there was a certain mystic in that mess of stuff - possibly hidden treasures.  My mother would stand in front of the cashier in a store calmly rifling and rooting around her purse, hand diving side to side and up and down searching for some coupon, piece of paper or money.  More than a few times I said, "Mom, what is all that stuff in there!  Why don't you clean your purse out?"  Life has come full circle.  The older I have gotten, the messier my purse has become.  There are literally times when I just throw things in much like it is a small duffel bag - an apple, a banana, a water bottle, bills to be paid if I have a few minutes waiting somewhere, contact case (my husbands), glasses case, possibly sunglasses, 42 tubes of lipstick, sticky notes with various things scrawled on them, receipts overflowing my wallet that need to be posted to my online checking register, sometimes a book, dental floss, my favorite pen, loose coins mixed in with lint and the remainders of bits of indistinguishable crumbs which line the bottom of my purse like sand at the bottom of the ocean.  My purse weighs, at best guess, on any given day somewhere between 5-7 pounds (and yes I weighed it just now).  Now gentleman, having no doubt held a woman's purse (your wife, girlfriend, etc...and hopefully not while purse snatching) while she used the bathroom, tried on clothes in a store or so she could put cream and sugar in her coffee at the Starbucks counter, you have probably said, "What do you keep in there?  It weighs a ton!"  Men are minimalists and moochers (part of why we have so much crap in our purses to begin with) when it comes to carrying articles of anything around with them.  Quite frankly though the alternatives are slim for men; a man purse (my daughter's boyfriend in college carried one-need I say more!) or the well regarded highly fashionable fanny pack.  There really is nothing out there manlyish enough to carry glasses, sunglasses, eye drops, chap stick, a wallet, comb, mints, keys or possibly a granola bar.  Instead men either go without those items, ask their wives to house them in their purse for them, or they cram their pockets so full thus endangering their man parts and/or causing some sort of hip dysplasia.  Every week I say inwardly that I am going to get a handle on the disorganization in my purse - that I will clean it out for the last time and that it will stay that way from henceforth forward.  On the way back from a trip with my husband we went through a toll both.  He handed me the loose change from paying the toll and watched in disbelief as I just tossed it randomly in my purse loose.  I really have tried purses with numerous pockets inside and also the ones that are a dressier version of a shopping bag - wide open inside.  Neither have helped me be clean and organized for more than a day.  I also am not one of those women who change purses to match the outfit they wear.  Honestly the transfer of stuff from one purse to another would just take far too long.  Besides, it goes against my scaled back style:)  I am though a bit envious of those rare women who can merely carry a clutch purse - holding only a $20 bill,  their drivers license/debit card, a singular tube of lipstick, a compact mirror, a single Kleenex and one tic tac.  If I were ever stranded in my car I could live a week off the apples, bananas, fireballs, sesame honey candies and PURE bars that reside near the bottom of my small long handled black leather duffel bag I call my purse.



In all things Lynn related I have noticed a pattern.  I don't think it's really unique to me, but universal - a principle noted in step 3 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program - "Let Go and Let God" (a synopsis of step 3).   In tracking stats on number of readers of this blog, I find that there are more visits to December 24th, 2010 than any other post written.  Every week people continue to read that post.   I re-read it recently for many reasons; to figure out why people are drawn to those words and critique my writing (I think it's similar to an actor not liking to watch the movie they just made - uncomfortable and somewhat painful!)  It was obvious during that Christmas weekend, the first Christmas post-divorce, I was struggling through accepting my place in life - wanting more but not experiencing it presently and questioning if I ever would.  I was holding on to what I craved and wanted and needed emotionally, job wise, relationally, spiritually, family-wise.  It was that weekend that I finally unclenched my last finger from my fist of desires for my life, laying wide open that things may or not ever change in any or all of the areas that I needed them to.  As much as is humanly possible, I accepted my place presently and changed my focus allowing God to move if He chose to or and even if He chose not to.  It was two days later that I met Doug (husband), going on a date for the first time in 25 years.  I kept my hand open and accepted what was in front of me - willing myself to let loose of what I thought the answer to my needs, wants and desires was.  My grief earlier in December (see post from December 9th, 2010 "She Weeps") was a process of letting go to accept someone else's decision which greatly affected me.  On December 26th, 2010 I once again let go of how and if any or all things in my life would blossom.  As long as I kept holding on to what I wanted, in the way in which I wanted it, only frustration and pain ensued.  But, when I could sincerely and freely let it go to accept whatever was in front of me or would come, God moved.  I saw myself in a tree, having climbed it with ease before realizing I would have to descend it eventually.  I could not get down, and in order to be rescued I had to trust those below who were urging me to jump into their arms.  They would catch me they reassure me.  I free fall the day after Christmas.  I free fall 2 days later on December 28th as I drive to meet a man for a date for the first time in 25 years.  I free fall in the days to come as I let go of what I thought that love would be like to find a love that was present and real and life changing.  When I let go and accepted the fact that my parents struggled deeply with me being divorced - changing the face of our relationship, and fully accepted the new state of our relationship even if it never went back to earlier years and better times, God moved.  Why does it always take me so long to unclench my fist?  I am somewhat like the children of Israel - forgetting the good things God has done over my lifetime.  Knowing that I can let go and trust fully without disappointment.  I can free fall into His arms from high up in the tree of my own desires or how I think I will achieve them.  He will catch me and fulfill far beyond my heart's desire if I just let go.  Easier said than done when you are 30 feet up a tree.



How many times a day do you use a toothpick?  I mean, a week?  Or even a month?  I once worked for a man who constantly had a half chewed toothpick in the corner of his mouth.  He worked that toothpick with his tongue from the corner to the center of his mouth with such rhythm and without thought.  It was amazing and strange at the same time.  I use a toothpick in my mouth only in dire emergencies; to pick restaurant food from my teeth - usually meat or some sort of green something or other and only if I don't have dental floss on me (which I normally do).  The only other two times I use toothpicks are to pin shut chicken/bacon/water chestnut hors d'oeuvres I make, or to test the doneness of a cake.  My husband has this nifty little toothpick case that he keeps in the car.  I did have to use one of his the other day - after a restaurant meal.  Knowing that most people don't use volumes of toothpicks on a regular basis why do they only sell toothpicks in quantities that will last an entire lifetime.  To me that is not smart marketing.  Don't companies want you to have to keep repurchasing their product frequently and consistently?  I have a box of toothpicks (250 count) that I purchased at my best guess nearly 15 or more years ago.  If I do the math at 250 toothpicks divided by 15 that means I average using only a mere 16.66 toothpicks a year.  I am questioning how I even use that many a year!  Check out your toothpick box.  It will say "Diamond" as this is the only company in the U.S. that makes wood toothpicks, making 8 billion yearly.  And yes (for you environmentalists out there), to make that many toothpicks it only takes one cord of wood or a stack 4x4x8 feet.  I'm wondering about how to increase consumer consumption of toothpicks.  Remember when pork producers promoted pork as "the other white meat" to increase pork consumption.  What could the toothpick industry use to get to the one trillion toothpick production mark ... "Only one tree was slain in the making of a trillion toothpicks.... We care about the environment.  Pick us:)"  



Talking with a friend of mine, a devout Catholic, she shared that this is a magical week for her.  I thought to myself that Holy Week (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter) is to the spiritual world what the Academy Awards are to the world of movies and acting.  It's the culmination of God's purpose, design, love, relationship bridge building, sacrifice, and more love.  As I stood at the edge of the kitchen last night at 11 p.m. gazing at the tile we just finished laying, I looked at the diagonal pattern we had chosen.  It was designed to give the kitchen a certain look, to open up the room a bit more, to create a flow between the colors of the tile-walls-cabinets.  There was a very specific look we were trying to get to.  Laying the tile in this misery experience of remodeling a kitchen, was actually the cornerstone for all the updates that were to come in that room.  I thought about Easter and Christmas.  We look at them as basically 3 months apart.  Our humanness lends itself to finiteness - much like the kitchen project, a start and a stop.  The world of God, Jesus and planet Earth was more than a 3 month project from Christmas to Easter.  It was, according to scripture, set before time that God through Jesus would lay the cornerstone of His love through the death of His Son.  So that, His love could reach through our humanness and past our sin.  Sometimes we think that God's original plan was altered when Adam and Eve sinned.  That their sin took God by surprise and He had to come up with Plan B - Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.  Wow, what a brilliant off the cuff plan to save the world:)  God knew our bent and He knew His great love.  Christmas and Easter were not Plan B because Plan A failed.  Love was the purpose all along.  Relationship with His creation was His desire.  Jesus was the cornerstone of love and relationship with those He created - mankind.         . . .  and the winner of the Savior of the World and Lover of Mankind goes to . . . God through His Son Jesus Christ.



I went to the lab this morning to have a blood test - routine stuff that I have done a couple times of year.  I checked in with the front desk to update a name change, change in insurance and obtain the sheet I needed to take to the lab.  The distance between check-in and the lab is relatively short and as I turned the corner to the lab I gazed upon a completely full waiting room - every chair filled, and the line curved out the lab and down the hall.  Impatience and amazement flew across my face.  What were all these people doing here!  How can this many people all choose 8:40 a.m. to decide to have their lab work done?  I, of course, did not count as one of those people.  Standing in this monstrous line is a mother with two small children.  I stop to say, "Wow, this is quite the line!  I think I will try another time."  She smiles and agrees but stays in line.  The wait is approximately 3 hours.  As I exit the building I think loudly and with it planted on my face, "Who has time for that!"  I get in the car to drive home desiring a cup of coffee as I had to pass on it earlier because of lab work.  Driving by the coffee shop I decide to stop and get a good, smooth, flavored cup of coffee.  There is not a parking space to be had.  My impatience wells again as I can't find a place to park which means no coffee there!!  I once actually prayed for patience knowing that I stood in lack of it greatly.  Oh how I soon regretted that prayer as things in my life for years on end caused opportunity after opportunity for patience to be taken hold of.  Ripping off 4 layers of floor in the kitchen my husband commented that I worked hard and steady and seemed to possess limitless patience with the bigness of the job.  I giggled inside.  Don't mix up determination and grit with patience I told him.  The first two I have hordes of.  The latter, not nearly so much.  My impatience is seen clearly in driving.  The other day my daughter was with me and the people in front of me were not driving as fast as I would have liked them to.  Out loud (as though they could hear me) I said, "People, people, please!  Let's move.  Pick up the pace!"  My daughter laughed as she said I passed my impatience with slow drivers on to her as she constantly talks to other drivers too.  I have thought about my impatience.  Really it usually stems from speed more than intelligence.  I am extremely quick and so to wait is like locking me in a cage as my mind and body whirl with wanting to move and conquer:)  I heard my sisters talking over the weekend planning some little shopping excursion.  They turned to me and tongue in cheek asked if I would like to go with them.  No, I declared, I don't have the patience for stores - who has time for it!    



As he stood in front of me in what appeared to be a flannel pajama top with his weathered dress pants and eyes that had lived a lifetime, he kept referring to his wife, Mary Lou.  So often did he mention her that I began to see there was something special between he and Mary Lou.  Since he was in his upper 80's I wondered if maybe she had passed away and he just couldn't move on easily.  Finally I asked if Mary Lou had died.  Tears filled his eyes, "Yes," he said, "we were married 58 years."  He shared of loving her his entire life - that there was no one like her that he ever knew.  With a look of absolute adoration, as though he was replaying a lifetime of memories in his heart and mind, he shared, "There was no where we went without the other.  If I went to the hardware store, she went with me.  If she had a baby shower and I couldn't go, she didn't go without me.  We walked, canoed, laughed.  She had a smile that lit up a room.  She was the one who taught me what love really is.  It was that way for 58 years.  It was real love every day and no matter how the years passed our love stayed new."  If I were to come to his house he stated, I would think Mary Lou was still there in body.  He said he talks to her daily and she is still part of his heart, mind and conversation.  I connected to every word he said seeing myself at his age feeling the same thing he was saying.  Sharing with him of being recently remarried after a 25 year marriage and finally finding a soul love, I told him I knew what he was talking about for the first time in my life.  I said I felt blessed and knew what I had been given by God was a special gift in this second half of my life.  About that time, my husband stopped in to take me to lunch.  I introduced him to Dick.  With cloudy eyes from age and fresh memories, he took both our hands in his, "Doug, love her every day.  You have found something special and magical and I can see that."  He spoke with a lifetime of love and experience, "And if you don't, well it's a good thing I still love Mary Lou!"  Both Doug and I had tears in our eyes.  When he bid us farewell and bestowed his generous spirit of love upon us, we turned to each other.  Fast forward time and we knew that was us at 85 years of age.  He loved the love journey of a lifetime he had shared with Mary Lou.  I too so loved this journey of love I shared with Doug.   His grief was outshined by the power of love.



Do you remember the scene in the original "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" with Gene Wilder where Charlie and his grandfather are in the bubble room.  They disobediently sip the "fizzing lifting" drink which gives them the ability to float.  Pure delight and squeals of laughter fill the room as Charlie and his Grandpa Joe enjoy the moment of floating.  Let's not get off on whether you are a bigger fan of the original movie or the remake with Johnny Depp.  Suffice to say that Johnny Depp took Willy Wonka's character's strange, sometimes eeriness to a whole other creepy level.  Especially the scene where they are in the boat.  I had nightmares and I am over 8 years old!  I love to laugh and I partake of it daily at differing degrees and intensities.  There have been  moments where it's not been totally appropriate to laugh, and a few of those times I have been quite unable to stop.  Once in high school while out with a girlfriend of mine prowling around the outside of a friend of ours house trying to be quiet, laughter started.  Those tight parameters of darkness, having to be quiet and being sneaky were a losing combination.  The giggles set in.  They didn't just set in, they took over completely.  I begged my girlfriend to stop making me laugh.  The more I begged, the more she edged my laughter up a notch.  I began to pee my pants.  Oh no, it wasn't just a dribble.  It was a complete emptying of the bladder.  There was no stopping it.  Tears streaming down my face and urine pouring down my legs only made me laugh harder.   My friend was now hysterical and paralyzed with laughter as we tried to run and hide when the outside lights of the house flipped on (no doubt they heard a ruckus outside in the darkness and woke to a puddle underneath their picnic table).   Some years ago while in my husband's hospital room, his roommate- an older gentleman in his 80's with no doubt great hearing loss, was being questioned by the doctor on the other side of the curtain.  Because of the man's poor hearing the doctor was virtually yelling questions at him.  The doctor asked yelling, "Do you abuse alcohol daily?"  The man, from the Bayou of Louisiana had a Cajun drawl that was hard to understand to the ears of a Midwesterner.  He responded with some sort of Cajun slang which translated to a no of sorts.  His daughter, sitting in the room with him said, "Daddy, that is not true.  You drink first thing in the morning and continue all day!"  It went from bad to worse as the doctor's line of questioning changed to his bowel habits.  Ok, that is not a pleasant discussion when you can use a normal voice level, let alone when you have to use decibels that call a rabid pack of dogs too.  "Sir, what are your bowel habits," the doctor asked, "are your stools soft, hard, dark?  How many times a day do you have a movement?"  Again, the man could not hear the doctor well enough to answer so the daughter rephrased the doctor's questions ratcheting up the volume several notches.  At that particular point I lost it on the other side of the curtain.  I laughed so long, trying to stifle the noise, that my stomach muscles burned in agony and I began to cry from the hilarity of the questioning, the volume, his answers in his Louisianian voice and his daughter's statements of "daddy that is not right".   There is a picture of me at my parent's dining room table following a large family dinner slapping the table with tears running down my checks and laughter so gripping me I can't stop.  My family was laughing from the story my brother-in-law had told but then when I couldn't stop laughing, it fueled their laughing at my laughing.  I would gain control for a moment, and then start right in again prompting my mom to snap a picture.  The picture makes me laugh!  My husband and I laugh constantly.  In fact, I've had a couple of those out of control laughter and can't stop moments with him.  One in fact where I would stop laughing for a split second and rethink what was funny and start right back up.  Before we knew it we were both teary eyed as the laughter didn't stop for quite some time.  I'm not sure but I think that sort of laughter is probably more beneficial to my health and soul cleansing than a day at the spa or a good run.  I find humor in almost everything.  And I mean everything has a spin of humor in it and I go there most of the time.  That's where my laugh lines have come from.  Ok, maybe age contributed too:)



I'm sure I had a tricycle, but I can't remember that far back. Though I do remember my first unsupervised and non-training wheeled ride wobbling down our gravel lane.  That is the bike of my first memory.  It was a very, very sweet ride.  It had a banana seat and a bit of a sissy bar up the back making it very convenient to have a pal ride comfortably with you.  Its handle bars curved up in a great way and I felt like I could ride forever on it.  Now that I think about it, it was a hand-me-down bike from one or both of my older sisters.  But, I never cared - I loved that bike.  It provided me a way to adventure and did I ever:)  From that bike, which I rode till no doubt my legs were hitting the handlebars, I transitioned to a new blue skinny wheeled 10 speed bike with the curled downward handlebars and a seat that even the smallest of butts felt pain on.  I too spent hours on that bike even long after I had a driver's license and could easily have driven myself anywhere.  Biking was a love.  Sunday afternoons during warm weather I would take off and ride 20-30 miles some days - not really going anywhere in particular but loving the feeling of speed, the outside and just thinking.  That bike really wasn't comfortable, but I was young and tolerated it more than this middle aged butt bone could ever now!  Some twenty years ago I took a group of high school kids on a 250 mile bicycle trip.  Having spent many hours on my blue 10 speed bike, this would be my first to ride that far.  Team Armstrong we were not.  In fact, we looked more like the team from the movie, "The Good News Bears"!  Day one we hopped on our bikes, me on my circa 1980 skinny tired, pointed-assed seat 10 speed bike whose gears jammed occasionally.  Headed down the road, we were followed by a junky white 15 passenger van which flashed its hazard lights as it pulled a small travel trailer that must have been 20 years old.  It would serve as our kitchen when we stopped to camp at night.  The van was intended for inclement weather or a respite for a tired or injured cyclist.  The first day we rode about 75 miles.  As we rolled into the campsite that first night only the 3 adults and one kid were still riding their bikes.  All the other teenagers had climbed into the van at varying points in the day feigning injury or exhaustion!  Wimps:)  The next morning, thoroughly exhausted and sore from riding on a skinny-assed seat designed solely as a torture weapon, sleeping on the ground, and from listening to a mob of teenagers whine, we mounted our bikes once again.   I felt like I had ridden a horse of sorts and climbing back on the bike I winced in pain.  If I thought those first 75 miles were horrendous, the next day was worse - muscles were screaming and stiffness had set in that doesn't even compare to any of the home improvement projects I have done over my lifetime!  A few hours into day two only the three adults remained committed to cycling another 75 miles as hills increased to the size of small mountains and our asses burned from the inclines, miles and lack of training.  The 250 mile trip concluded with only the adults finishing fully all the miles.  Recently I suggested to my husband that we buy a racing tandem as I would like to do some small jaunts with him.  This time though, a big-assed grandma seat and strictly flat terrain followed only with a night's stay in a hotel. 



Ironing a new pair of pants my iron hits something in the pant leg - a spare button sewn on the inside pant leg seam.  I check the other leg, another spare there too.  That was a different delivery method than the minuscule zipper bag attached to the tag that usually carried the spare buttons from the manufacturer to the consumer.  I kind of liked this method of sewing the spare inside the garment.  It was always there, right there until you lost a button.  You never had to wonder had you saved that little zipper button bag, and if you did, where had you put it.  I have collected, from all the clothes I've purchased in the past 26 years, most of the spare buttons.  Every time I purchase something the button bag goes inside a large zippered bag.  I have buttons to clothes I'm sure I don't own any more, that are out of style or that I might not be able to fit into any longer.  As I ironed I began to picture myself out in the wilderness hiking in my new pants (why I don't know, just the way my mind works) with the spare button sewn inside the pant leg.  I panic momentarily when I look down and see the rugged terrain has caught a hold of one of the buttons on my pants and ripped it off.  Then I remember, I have a spare button inside the seam of my pant leg.   Extracting a small sewing kit from my pack (Yes of course I would have a sewing kit with me wouldn't you!), I remove my pants (People it's the wilderness no one can see me other than woodland creatures and they show no interest).  Using the folding scissors from the sewing kit, I clip the thread holding the spare button, careful to unravel the thread for a use yet to be determined.  With a new button sewn on, I finish the grueling wilderness hike fully buttoned.  I later use the thread I retrieved from the spare button to fashion a make shift McGyverish fishing line - tying on a hook of sorts from a piece of my hair pin:)  My mind snaps back as the iron steams from sitting on the pant leg too long.  Oh yeah, the spare button - I just hit it again with the iron. 



Sitting in the sun on the first hot, warm winded day of spring, I feel warmth clear through to my soul.  It has been a long winter season in my life.  Long.  I soak in the sun as though it's the first time I've ever felt something so warm. Yesterday, while my husband of two and half months was in a board meeting at a conference we had travelled to, I wandered in and out of stores waiting for him to join me later for dinner.  How strange it was to be in this town with him.  As I picked up a candle to see if "sea breeze" really smelled like sea breeze, I thought about how different from the first half of my life this is.  I loved it and it felt natural, yet strange too.  Laying in the hotel bed this morning I watched as he moved about the room readying for the day and the conference he had planned.  He moved confidently and effortlessly around the room, loading files on his i-pad, getting dressed in his blue dress shirt, tying his tie.  I watched him style his beautiful silver hair in a professional messy sort of way that I love.  As I laid there he came over to the bed where I was still snuggled under the crisp, white sheets.  He kissed me several times and told me how much he loved me, lingering as long as he could.  I felt warm dance across my soul.  After he left, I felt Spring running through me again.  I wasn't accustomed to this confidence and self sufficiency by a mate.  It refreshed and washed away the winter residue from a lifetime.  I pulled myself from bed and got ready, stopping at his meeting to be introduced to a few of his colleagues.  I whispered to him I was going to get a cup of good coffee - hazelnut at Panera.  He squeezed my hand and his fingers lingered on mine.  "Would I get him a cup of dark roast?" he asked.  I returned shortly with coffee for both of us.  As I gave him the coffee, his eyes stopped on mine and for a moment I saw and felt all he was saying in that room of people.  He had again warmed the winter out of my life.  I moved outside in the sun, enjoying the rarity of a 85 degree day in the Midwest in April.  As I sat there he texted his love to me and laughter at my texts back.  Sun splashed the dark corners of my soul.  I thanked God once again, tears spilling out of my eyes.  Grateful for Spring in all ways.  He says his desire is to spend the rest of his life taking away the memory and effects of the winters of my life.  And he does too - daily.



Divorce and the church are odd bed fellows.  An even odder one when you were in the pastorate for 25 years.   My divorce lent itself to sometimes strange and isolating, even judgmental responses from those within the church.   I have talked with other divorced persons, believers who have been part of a church during a divorce, and they have had similar experiences.  God, and culture, might be forcing churches to really take a hard look at their response to divorce within the confines of their own walls and, within the broader Church of Jesus Christ in general.   I have had to look at my own view of God, church, humanity, struggle and divorce.   Divorce it appears within the church is either marked as a spiritual win if you stay married, or a complete spiritual failure if you divorce.  There have been only a handful of people in my life, and within the church, who have stood beside me in this experience of divorce.  Those few that I have let into this journey have shared my pain, discoveries, listened to my irreverence, given me space when I needed it, drank wine and laughed with me, let me cry, encouraged and ultimately shared the wonder of me finding a soul connecting magical love.  I have had former congregants turn a cold shoulder to me either from not knowing what to do or say or out of judgment.  I've had some call or email and want information or to ask and say things like, "So how do you have a relationship with God now?"  My response to that absurd and absolutely NOT Biblically correct train of questioning was, "God loves me deeply and I still love him and commune with Him."  Others have asked questions that I have not answered as I am moving on and really it is not their business.  Maybe having been in the pastorate makes people feel like they have the right or a relationship with me that warrants, even  justifies either their judgment or questions.  It does not.  When getting divorced my ex husband and  I decided to not trash each other - out of respect for the other and because of our great love for our daughter and son-in- law.   It was a mutual decision to divorce and end the marriage, a decision steeped for years in the making.    It was not easy, sudden or flippantly made.  In an email from a friend from the last church we served, she stated, "I hate that people view you (and not my ex) as the bad guy."   Hmmmm, I thought, that was news to me how a joint decision makes me the bad guy.  I have had to work through letting go of what others think as I cannot control it or win - even what my ex may be saying to others after the fact.    I have found comfort in immersing myself into seeing more deeply God's love relationship with my humanity, with King David, with Abraham, with the disciple Peter and on and on - really with all of humankind.  I think when I struggle, hurt, and lack God dwells even more fully and intimately.  Grace has been a deep and rich, and at times a hard companion, but ultimately a source of freedom and joy throughout my life.  I want it to continue to mark who I am.  I am part of The Church.



My love of all things that can be seen, played or done in the outdoors stems directly from two sources - genetically engineered that way by God and, from being perpetually locked out of the house during the summer months as a child.  I have reminded my mother time and time again of her locking me and my two sisters out of the house from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  She constantly denies it as being only an allegation and that there is no proof to substantiate my claim:)  My sisters and I, along with our dad, know differently!  I daily fostered this love of the great outdoors on foot and bicycle only really coming to the house when I heard mom's signature shrill whistle (and I don't mean the gym class kind).  She had a whistle (how she contorted her mouth to get that loud of sound I'll never know) that could be heard a quarter of a mile away.  Upon hearing it we would run toward the house to either be passed some sort of lunch through an opening in the screen door, or to come in for the night - darkness had arrived.  Now I don't know this for a documented fact, but I would imagine with 3 children who wanted to run in and out of the house all summer long she may have locked the door so to be able to cook, clean and do other various canning and sewing projects.  Being locked out in the great outdoors helped me perfect my ability to accurately squat and pee without getting it on anything, me included, other than the ground.  Not a feat most girls can do easily.  When we recount to our mom that because she locked us out of the house and refused us entry even for the bathroom we used the back side of barn, she replies with both a snort of disbelief and then a burst of laughter, "You did not!"  I would like to think that she was being industrious without us bugging her, but possibly she laid down and napped no doubt exhausted from raising 3 kids who were 18 months apart.  She also denies that theory.  I can remember being around 4 or 5 years old and getting so hot and tired in the summer, knowing that I couldn't go in the house, that I would just lay down in the grass under the big maple tree and fall asleep.  Again, my mom denies that ever happened.  What would she know!  I think if she wasn't canning every last vegetable in the garden, or collapsing on the couch for a nap, she may have been a secret "All My Children" watcher.  She too declares that she never watched soap operas during our summer lockouts from the Cherry house.  Those things are what created an adventuring and outdoor spirit in me.  And yes mom, you did lock us out of the house and we did pee behind the barn.



I was at Menards and Lowes this weekend.  It was a weekend chocked full of home improvement shopping and projects.  As a direct result of my visits to Menards and Lowes I made some observations about the marketing, design, products and employees in both stores.  I am an unpaid and unsolicited consultant still waiting for the phone to ring:)  And, after exerting myself in strange and harmful positions for hours at a time, I am struggling to bend over, sit on the toilet and well, just move in general.  If you are in a part of the country where you are not familiar with either of these stores, they are home improvement supply stores similar to Home Depot.  If ever given the chance to peruse Menards, you should not miss the opportunity.  In that experience of shopping for things like; paint, 2x4's, sheets of drywall, screws, power tools, lighting, windows, doors, flooring, etc, you will also find a strange concoction of other items.  For instance, if you want shoelaces, sugary orange slices, a frozen pizza, mac & cheese, Lucky Charms, Campbells soup, a gallon of milk or bread you can also pick those things up.  Now not only is there a very strange eclectic mix of "one of these things just doesn't belong here" products, but there is no rhyme or reason to how the store is laid out product wise.  I found shoelaces by the cleaning sponges.  It appears to me that either a blind person developed the master product store layout or, someone who has major organization issues and should be on the show "Hoarders", is at the helm.  Finding an employee to help or that makes you feel confident in their knowledge level for my home improvement questions is an issue.  Menards is a bit like a C-rated movie or like watching reruns of "Creature Feature" only to realize its special effects were mostly made using aluminum foil.  The only thing they have going for them is the cost (low quality and price - what a positive winning combination!), and that their entrance and exit doors are one in the same.  Lowes on the other hand, does not have their entrance and exit doors together.  As you pull in the parking lot you must make a snap decision that goes like this:  Do I want to walk a mile to get to the entrance doors and then only a few steps when I exit the building?  Or, do I want to walk only a few steps to enter Lowes and then when my cart is heaped with 10 boxes of ceramic tile do I want to trudge a mile to the car to unload?  Once inside the building Lowes layout is more logical, the staff far more A-team knowledgeable and you are not bombarded with items that frighten you in a home improvement store like; shoelaces, pizza and milk next to the moth balls.  A gentleman named Asa was helping my husband and I over the weekend in the tile department.  My husband was picking his brain about some subfloor options and we were just generally having a great interaction with him.  He was warm, engaging and laughed readily with us.  I asked him was there a story behind his being named Asa as it's a Bible name.  "Yes," he said, "my parents named all us kids "A" names."  He ratted off his sibling's "A" names which were fare more normal than was his name of Asa.  I quipped back, laughing while teasing him, "Why did they not name you Adam, or Aaron or say, Adolf?"  Deadpan and with great comedic timing, he fired back, "I'm Jewish."  The three of us could not stop laughing.  As he wheeled our 4 ton cart to the front of the store, he said that he would most definitely remember us when we came back in and that he had a great time.  My store preference was already tipped toward Lowes over Menards, but Asa slam dunked the customer service category with his great comeback.  Plus, I don't want milk or circus peanuts next to baseboard trim!



Why cannot I just let it go?  Why can my head want something but my heart is reticent and not as easily able to walk forward and drop my carry-on bag?  Exiting a 25 year marriage is a definite exercise in letting go of many things.  And, letting go I am realizing is a process - you run forward, then stop, take a step backwards, walk ahead stronger, stop, zig zag a bit, take a step back and then somehow slowly your trunk that you have carried starts to be emptied.  I have been emptied, and yet find more to let go of.  It seems I have transferred the last few things from my big lugging trunk into a more manageable and prettier carry-on bag.  None-the-less, it's weighing me down and I need and greatly desire to set it down.  To be, in Lynn fashion and with God's grace, free spirited in grace and forgiveness.  I thought about David from the Bible.  He eventually becomes King of Israel and is called "a man after God's own heart", but before those things materialize, he is the one that kills the giant Philistine, Goliath, who is taunting and tormenting the army of Israel.  A teenage boy of maybe 16-18, David declares he will fight Goliath with only the power of God, a slingshot and a five stones.  No, says King Saul, David must have more protection than that.  He brings David into his quarters and fits him with his own armor that weighed probably somewhere between 60-80 pounds.  All of sudden David is weighed down unnecessarily - making it hard to move freely and allow God's power to be fully displayed.  He removes the armour and tells King Saul he will rely on the power of God.  And, David does and God shows up powerfully.   That's me.  I am weighed down with my emotional and spiritual carry-on bag.  While out running earlier today my mind parked on what I was wearing - thin cotton running pants, a thin cotton black zip up hooded sweatshirt, and a lightweight pair of running shoes with no socks.  I was not bound at all by too many layers, socks and heavy cloddy shoes.  It was much easier to navigate the miles without the bondage of excess.  Paul talks about it too in Galatians 5:1... "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  I think somehow God knows our bent to get weighed down, shackled, with not being able to fully give grace, forgive and stay focused on those things, instead of what someone else is or isn't doing to cause hurt in our lives.  I found myself thinking that yes, it might be a normal response to feel the way I do - but that staying in that place of wanting to be justified just takes up too much space.  It's bulging the seams of my carry-on bag and I am starting to not be able to zip it shut.  I pleaded with God to empty again my carry-on and give me grace towards those I need to let it flow through me to.  Even, if they are unaware of what their responses have done to me.   I need to drop the bag as I do not want to be a slave again to it.  Bondage, excessive belongings - nic knacks, are not what I want for my heart, mind and spirit.  God's grace needs to be my only garment more than able to create the unencumbered free-spirited heart I want. 



I'd much rather eat a whole box of raisins than shop.  That's a pretty brazen statement as I hate raisins with a deep and abiding repugnance.  Pretty much all of my food hating is heaped upon this one food.   You will never find raisins in my house.  Let me rephrase, remarriage has caused raisins to enter into a cupboard and his bowl of oatmeal, but NOT mine:)  I don't have a love affair with big hairy tarantulas either - petrified of them to be explicitly clear.  But, I would let someone place a tarantula on my hand instead of shop.  I would also rather pluck my eyebrows and have my bikini area waxed than shop.  I had to shop for curtains for my living room recently.  It was unavoidable and extremely painful.  For me, it is comparable to what I imagine it would be like for a non-runner to have to run 5 miles - agony!  I went looking for curtains or blinds for my dining room and living room after repainting both.  I took with me a pillow off my couch to try to match something to the leaf pattern on it, and the color swatch dubbed Beach  (who names those colors and how do I get that gig!) by the paint company.  After going in five stores I was exhausted, and not any closer to curtains, shades, blinds or even my last resort of contact paper, than when I left home.  Standing in store number five I was contemplating heading for home.  Perusing the aisles in the last store I bumped into a couple of people I knew.  I am clutching my leaf pillow, a look of anger/frustration/hatred for all stores etched deeply into my brow and my shoulders bunched up from stress!  They ask what I am doing carrying the pillow and I share my curtain/paint saga with them and tell them I am quitting and going home - enough I tell them.  Sarcastically I declare my master plan to them of just taping brown mailing paper up to my windows if all else fails.  They giggle and urge me on in my quest, holding out a cup of water at mile 23:)  Trudging back out to the car I am rallied by their encouragement and stop at one last store.  I tell myself that I would rather shovel 8 more ton of landscaping rock around my house than shop.  I would rather wait impatiently in a doctor's waiting room, raging inwardly at his inconsiderateness of my time, than shop for curtains.  As I close the car door and walk into the last store, I tell myself that I would actually rather streak naked down my street than continue shopping.  Thankfully I don't have to streak naked - curtains found!  I am done shopping until the next time I absolutely positively need something.  How long can you drink expired milk again?