Tuesday, December 27, 2011

39 and a half...with a whole eulogy

Ryan told me that he loved me a few weeks ago and I know that he meant it, because shortly thereafter, he proclaimed it in writing on a small dry erase board with purple marker and told me that we should get married. And although I was flattered that he felt I was worthy of his heart, I was also trying to decide how to respond to such a claim, because you see..... Ryan is 5 years old.

I go and help out weekly in my 5-year-old's Kinder class and I don't know if it was the fact that I've helped him spell a few words here and there, the fact that I know my way around glitter glue and legos, or that I manage to sit down with the kids in their teeny tiny chairs, but for some reason, he took a liking to me....which I think we can all agree is....sweet.

However, after quickly going through all of my interactions with him and deciding that I didn't in fact, need to retain an attorney, I said to him...

"Ryan, that is so sweet... and I appreciate that very much. But you are only 5 right now and it's not time for you to love anyone like that. And by the time you should love a girl, I'll be like...a grandma to you! All old and shriveled up and you'll have to help me walk across the street and find my false teeth and stuff... When you're older you'll find a girl around your age and you'll be a very kind gentleman to her...and a good listener. You'll respect her and love her, but won't let her walk all over you. It'll probably happen in college... a four year University....somewhere with four seasons, but close to the water.... and you'll meet her your senior year...but won't get married right away....Anyway, you understand what I'm saying?" He pondered for a moment, looked me squarely in the eyes and replied, "I'm 5 and A HALF." Fair enough, Ryan, fair enough.

When do we stop tagging "and A HALF," onto our age? Well, I'm going to tell you right now.... I'm not stoppin'. I'm 39 and A HALF. And frankly I feel that it is a marker of sorts.... perhaps not every year, but for some reason this year it is. And I'm trying to be better. And kinder. And more graceful and more wise and more patient...by the time I turn 40....

And this is where I ask you to forgive the the non sequitur as I tell you that years ago I began writing eulogies about people I loved even though they had not died. The first eulogy I ever wrote was about a man named Chris...a remarkable man indeed...and after wishing I had said those things to him before he went to be with his Creator, I decided I'd write my loved ones their eulogies while they were still alive, so that there would be no question as to how much they meant to me. This seemed like a good idea to me then and in fact, still does...and if we're close, chances are I've written one about you. However, I've only given a handful out and sometimes hesitate to do so for fear of appearing morbid. Until, on my 39th birthday, one of my soul-sister Besties... handed me my very own eulogy in a beautiful black box complete with a rose. And it didn't feel morbid at all... And in spite of the fact that she is being very generous in both her description of me as well as her affection for me, if what she eulogized about me is not who I am... then it is most definitely who I desire and strive to be. So, while I'm 39 and A HALF, I'd like to share with you who I hope to one day die as, in,

The Eulogy of: Tava Sue Musial

by: Tennille

Well, I think we can all agree: The World is a Lot Less Sparkly Today.

Tava had a magnetism, a zest and thirst for life, for novelty, for joy that made her larger than life. She appeared to us mere mortals as somehow…I’m tempted to say “Magical” (It’s not magic, Michael, it’s an illusion.”) …Okay, none of you are laughing, but trust me, if Tava were here, she would be dying! (No pun intended) …But that’s just it, in any sort of magic, there is an illusion. And in Tava, there was no room for that. What you saw was what you got. Authentic...full of integrity.

Tava had the unique ability of keeping her feet firmly rooted while also being a soaring dreamer. She was steady, grounded in Christ. She was quick-witted and would keep you laughing long and hard with a risqué joke at every turn ("That’s what she said.”). She could use her beautiful voice to wow alongside the Church Choir or to make a sailor (or airman-specifically Gary Moore) blush. She made a mean mojito. She had a tattered Bible. She never missed a chance to extend grace and share with others the Savior who led her life.

She loved love. And she knew about it. And she lived it. Or rather, let Love live through her. She once said, “Once Love even died on a cross so that I could have life everlasting. My heart knows that love makes it easy to forgive, easy to go without sleep and easy to put another before itself. My heart has been hurt and scarred, but it also been loved more than it’s deserved and sometimes even desired. “ She loved Christ. She loved being HIS child. She was somehow never judgmental of others and yet, unwavering in her choice to glorify Him in all things. She let her light shine that others might see her good works and glorify God. She invested in others. She listened and loved enough to ask the tough questions. She had the courage to say words that might be hard to hear coupled with the warmth to speak those words in love. She was truly beautiful….. she was pretty enough, smart enough, and witty enough that one might just be totally intimidated if she weren’t also truly beautiful in the way that radiates warmth and acceptance.

I am among the many who are better for knowing Tava. To steal a line from Wicked (we really should have written that!) “Because I knew (her), I have been changed for good.” Tava was a mentor who encouraged blatant honesty and courage to face truths. She was a friend who laughed at life even when she had to look hard to find the humor. She was a counselor who guided me to insights about myself then helped me to discover who God intended for me to be and encouraged me to grow. She came to my performances to spur me on. She cheered my successes. She saw my insecurities and didn’t shrink away.

In these kinds of speeches, it’s become somehow customary to say, “So-n-so was the kind of person who…” But Tava was not any “kind of person.” She was her own. Unique. One-of-a-kind. She was a dreamer. She was a “live life to the fullest, not afraid to get messy, stand in the gap, keep truckin’ through the valley, shout from the mountain top, let the wind blow through your hair, grasp every ounce of life” kind of dreamer. She was a wonderfully talented writer who didn’t bury the talent she was given but became the faithful servant who invested it, multiplied it, and allowed God to use it to draw others to Him.

Tava lived a life that is an example to all of us. An example of how to make the most out of every day, how to appreciate and enjoy the miracle of each and every day we are given. She knew that her life was blessed. She once wrote, “But above all, I’m lucky to know that the great fortunes of my life have not been dependent upon a charm, a clover or a horseshoe, but instead a Creator whose warm showers of love and grace cover even undeserving me. I’m lucky to know that my dumb luck isn’t luck at all…”

Tava knew she had a wonderful life. And she knew that it wasn’t chance but a wonderful blessing from God above. He offered her life abundant. She grasped it.

Finally, to those who will take care of her remains, I say this: Don’t put her in a box-she’d hate that. Okay, maybe it’s just us that would hate it since from our perspective she could never be put in a box- as for Tava, I doubt she really cares what happens to this earthly vessel as she is finally tasting the absolute freedom she always pursued.

*Whether you're 5 and a half or more, take some time out of your day to tell someone what's on your mind........ and your heart. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

meant for the taking

So you know that you've neglected your blog when you go and in an attempt to pay it a visit, you find it covered in dust, sitting on the floor crying and you can't for the life of you remember its password. (Note to self: the password to your blog is your birthday.) And that's just s.a.d. for me and my few loyal readers who faithfully come for a visit hoping for a reflection of some kind (Tennille) or perhaps a reason why I haven't called....

Well, the truth is I've been very busy..... I recently returned from a 6,500 mile, 4 month road trip... yes, you read that correctly.... filled with, as you can imagine, lots and lots of blogworthy material. However, I've come to realize that dedicating this blog to my reflections, well, takes time....time to reflect. So it really isn't fair if I just share events... I have to reflect. Believe me, better stuff comes after my mind stews on things for a while. Blogs off the top of my head would be mostly top ten lists, comments on the pain of Brazilian Waxes (those Brazilian woman must have incredibly high pain tolerances), and what are the lyrics to Outfield's "Lose Your Love"? What's with that song, and what the heck does it mean?

I wanna tell you about a woman that I met, Judy Cage... and I want to tell you about how much I *heart* Atlanta.... and about the giant Sequoia tree we drove through in the Redwood Forest... and why you don't want to spill pickle juice in an RV..... and the birthday party I went to.... and Glass Beach... and how Yosemite was crazy beautiful, but frankly, I've seen better...with better parking.... and how taking a 6,500 mile road trip with your husband and two small children is both a good idea and a bad idea....much like the automatic flushing toilets... great idea, until it flushes prematurely, or the disinfecting wipes at the grocery stores right by the icky carts....well, I can't think why those are a bad idea, but teaching your two little girls how to talk... that's a good idea and a bad idea...they don't stop talking and they don't. stop. talking.

But lately what I've been reflecting on are some various words of wisdom I've heard over the past few months. Somewhere between here and Atlanta, or here and California, or here and somewhere we were all walking and Orion, running as fast as she can to catch up asks her Daddy, "Can I please be the leader?" To which he responds in what might be called an "ah ha!" moment for yours truly, replies, "Orion, you don't ask for the lead...you take it." That is absolutely right I thought at the time and have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I've been contemplating what other things in life are meant to be asked for and what are meant to be taken. What do I ask for? What do I take?

Hope. I take hope. Hope is something that is always right there in front of us, not taunting us just out of reach, but rather a helping hand...a life preserver... always there, reaching out, ready to be grasped..... always there to take. Hope is there at the end of a heartbreak and at the beginning of a marriage, it waits for you when you find out that you're sick and it's there when you've lost a job or found a new friend or when you suffer from chronic pain or when you are trying a new Thai dish. It stays right beside you when you start a diet or a journey or relationship or when you're at the end of your rope. It makes no difference to hope if you are standing in a place where opportunities abound, or if you have nothing left to lose. All you have to do is take it.... and it will be yours. Hope has come with me to every ultrasound and surgery and job interview and craps table and Macy's sale. I find that in my darkest of times, hope is what has shone the brightest... sometimes, it's the only light around.

Hope is wonderful... and I take it often without hesitation...because it is always there and it never disappoints. Hope truly does spring eternal, even when all things around it are parched and shriveled. But I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that my hope is firmly attached to a rock... the Rock. And without that firm foundation, hope would be nothing.

My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
on Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

So my dears....hope. If you're in need of some...don't hesitate. Take it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

exactly like me

You know those mirrors that magnify your reflection x10 or x50 and have a light all the way around them that are fastened to the wall on those movable, extendable arm thingies? I've seen them at places like IKEA, Restoration Hardware and even Target, I think.... yeah, I've never liked those. Not one bit. The way I see it, if you have to have it enlarged x10 and shine an obnoxious fluorescent light on it, well it's probably best left unseen or ignored. Picture yourself in a full-length one of those and hold that thought... we'll get back here in a minute....

My little 5-year-old asked if she could wear my perfume the other morning. I said, "Of course Baby, just please don't spill it." And then she proceeded to apply it to her neck and wrists ever-so-carefully in the exact manner as I do it.... and then she spilled it. All over. And I yelled at her. And an enormous tear immediately filled each of her big brown eyes and she climbed down off of her hippo step stool and slowly walked away deflated. Totally shattered. By me. And I felt horrible. I immediately stopped her, sat on the bathtub and took her by the shoulders and said, "Oh M., I'm sorry for yelling at you... but what's wrong, why are you so sad?"

"Because Mama, I just want to be exactly like you and I keep getting it all wrong."

And suddenly, there before me was a gigantic magnifying mirror (x50) encircled with the brightest, most unflattering light.... exposing every single flaw from the top of my perpetually 80s hair to the bottoms of my flat feet. There is nothing in the world that has ever made me feel so unworthy, stained and imperfect than when my precious little girl said those words.

And as I looked into her teary eyes through my own teary eyes...I saw me. Then. And a thousand things went through my mind, things I wanted her to know and believe and realize.... I wanted to tell her that I could think of a dozen people off of the top of my head that I'd rather her be exactly like. I wanted to tell her not to be just like me, but so much more. Better. Smarter. Stronger. Kinder. Wiser. And the list just goes on and on. I wanted to grab her and explain all of my mistakes so that she may avoid them.... show her all of my mental, physical and spiritual scars so that she wouldn't have identical wounds one day. I wanted so desperately to point out all of the detours, potholes and traps that I've found along the way so that she would be prepared. I wanted to face her toward the magnifying mirror so that she could see me the way I see myself and all of my imperfections. And perhaps then, she wouldn't want to be exactly like me.

But the fact is, although she is an old soul (the depth in her eyes dates back long before me), she is only 5. And anything I wanted to pass on to her was just too much. Too deep. Too heavy. Too far beyond 5. So when she's a little older and if she still wants to be exactly like me, I'll tell her this....

Lovey, be like me...the good bits. But be better. Get there faster. Don't take the same wrong turns. Don't let your heart make too many of your decisions. Live in the big picture, but appreciate the smallest of details. Be a good listener. Cheer for the underdog. Don't be so hard on yourself. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Wear bright lipstick, sing in the shower, and stick your face out of the car when you're driving. Eat spicy food. Dance whenever you want, however you want. Look up at the stars (and the puffy clouds). Learn to make good decisions. Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Give and accept compliments. Do your best at everything you try and try lots and lots of different things. Live just outside of your comfort zone... but visit your comfort zone from time to time. Be a good friend and a gracious lady. Go explore and discover and know that you can always come home to me to recharge and refresh and to plan your next adventure. Ponder, reflect and think....about who you are and who you want to become. Know that who you are is a direct reflection of Whose you are. And know that you are His. Don't need things. Set all of the earthly desires aside and invest in the things that will outlast this life. And my darling little girl, remember that all of the things in this life that were lost on me can be found in Him and reflected through you. Find those things and be exactly like no one but you. (You'll be enough like me, you already are.) And don't ever buy one of those magnifying mirrors. If it needs to be enlarged and lit up that much... you don't need to see it.

And then we played in my perfume.... all of it... sprayed and spilled and sampled and ran it through our hair... and smelled like French whores for the rest of the day......................

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MAJOR Bling...and ground floor investments

This is Major Bling....

And as of yesterday, this is Major Bling...

When I met him, I thought he looked really clean, really young and somewhat like Tom Cruise (little did I know, he got that A LOT...the clean, young and the Tom Cruise part) and I also wondered if he was capable of growing facial hair. I've been with him through his commissioning, the pinning on of his pilot wings, his butter bars, First Lt, Capt, and now Major. I've been there for his undergrad from the University of Arizona, his Masters from Mississippi State and through countless checkrides, upgrades, acronyms, roll calls and full chem gear exercises. I've moved nine times in ten years with him and watched him all along the way...continually growing and maturing as a man, a leader, a believer, a daddy and husband. And there has never been a time when he hasn't given me full credit and thanks for being with him through it all...that he could not have done it without me. He honestly believes that to be true. But the real truth is, he is one of the most honest, capable, tenacious, admirable and driven people I know. He totally could have done this by himself... but if you tell him I said that, I swear I'll deny it. To look back on all of this, all that he has become and to have been so purposely included and continually be an active part in the planning and successes, (and possibly failures) I have no doubt that this is the best ground floor investment that I have ever been given the opportunity to make. So thanks Bling....for that priceless investment opportunity and for always wanting me right beside you... where ever that may be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

357: Fenced in...revisited

Ok-I thought that a photo a day was a lofty goal....but apparently it is an unachievable goal and the attempt at a photo every week to ten days would be a much better goal. Honestly. I don't how people do it.... maybe I'll just take a picture of the mound of laundry that remains a mound no matter how many loads I do and just post that every third day or so.... that really would be the most accurate representation of my life... nah, not really.

But on to today's photo. If you read my blog regularly, you'll remember "Fenced in..." it's about sparkly lip gloss and my commitment issues....mostly the latter. After actually typing out all of those things that make me feel fenced in, I realized how many there were.... actually, it was the fact that hours after I posted, my mind was going crazy thinking of all of the others that I had forgotten to add and that most of the ones you added also made me feel fenced in (Thanks a lot for that.) Then I thought that if I added to the list, I'd look even more crazy...so I left them off and decided to really look my commitment issues squarely in the eye and see which of us would blink first. It turns out that I blinked first, but in my defense I have very dry eyes.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present my first attempt at breaking down my fence (or my defense if I'm going to be honest)... I got Isabelle some new digs! Izzy B., as I've come to call her, is happy and thriving in my care and even comes to the surface to greet me... Jay says I can't prove this, but I know in my heart that this is what she is doing. But most of all, she's still alive...

So take that. (That was said to no one in particular... I just thought it should be said.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

362: Friendship

I've been having girl drama caused by insecurity (mine mostly) this past week. Jay says that I'm a "dude chick" because I don't get caught up in what he thinks "typical women" get caught up in and I take that as a huge compliment. But I got wound up and started spinning out of control and thought that I lost a friend. And I was devastated. So devastated in fact, that I realized where some of my commitment issues stem from. If you don't invest, you don't get hurt.

I've had this card for years and years...around 20 years, if I'm recalling correctly, and I look at it more often than you can imagine...as a reminder I guess.

As life has carried on, I've added a few to this list, of what real friends are or do or allow...things like, don't get mad at you for drunk dialing them in the middle of the night, they tell you if you have something in your teeth, tell you truth in love when you're wrong, listen as you trail on and on about the same thing in your past that you can't shake, make you food when you're pregnant, and they don't dump you the minute someone tells them to, you know, stuff like that. They love you no-matter-what, even when you're spinning out of control in a whirlwind of insecurity. And the friend that I thought I had lost is all of these things and more.... And I'm so thankful.

Let me be deserving of friends like this and let me strive to BE a friend like this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

363: My other car isn't a minivan...

So this is my other car....a Polaris RZR. The girls and I go everywhere in it (and the dog sometimes) and we all love it, love it, LOVE IT! The wind and sun all around like the freedom of a motorcycle, but the girls get to enjoy it too. And we took it to Sedona a couple of weekends back.... whoever coined the statement, "There's no place like home," MUST live there and drive one of these...

Hotty husband and sweet little daughters sold separately...