Monday, June 2, 2008

Enjoying the Journey



I am sitting at the computer thinking about my life. For some reason, I feel compelled to write. I’m happy, and I want the world to realize that happiness is a choice. Why should we be downtrodden? This is why I want to share some things that are in my heart. I want to share my spiritual journey. It is an eternal journey, and the fun is along the way. The fun is life itself. Let me begin with what I remember of my journey.

My physical journey, of course, began at birth. My spiritual journey began forever ago, but my earliest memory of it was sometime during my sixth grade year in school. My grade school teacher was a Christian, and she led me to the Lord. What a joyful experience!

I married at 18 but still managed to attend college and receive a Bachelor of Science degree. I waited until after college graduation to begin having children. During these early years of marriage I went to college full-time and held down three part-time jobs but yet still managed to attend church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I also read my bible daily and even got through it in one year. I memorized gobs of scripture. Yet, all of that still left me seeking spiritual fulfillment. I felt like something was missing.

Then in 1974, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Teresa Marie. For the first time, I felt spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. In 1976, I gave birth to another baby girl, Tori Sue. Now I had a family! I know now that I was in a good spot because I had fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a mother. I had always played with dolls and fantasized about having my very own baby. Now I had two. How blessed I felt! This blessed feeling carried me through several years. In 1983, though, my marriage of twelve years fell apart. I had some depression, but my lovely daughters and my teaching career kept me from total despair.

I raised my daughters and taught English at the high school in a small town. During that time, when my daughters reached the teenage years, the usual rebellion that goes with those years had me in a dither. Hillary Clinton says that it takes a village to raise a child, and I do believe that. As a single parent, I felt like I needed help. Fortunately, I had my sister Pam and her husband Ben to round out my village. They helped me by giving both physical and moral support.

In 1995 my beautiful daughter gave birth to a baby girl herself. Teresa had a pulmonary embolism three months later. Three blood clots were found in her lungs. I lived in Nebraska at the time, but I flew down to Arkansas, where Teresa lived, to be by her side. My airplane ride seemed long as I contemplated my daughter’s condition. Not only was I extremely worried about Teresa, but also her baby, three month old Jessica Marie. After Teresa’s recovery, I made a decision to leave my home in Nebraska and move to Arkansas to be close to Teresa and Jessica.

It was in Arkansas that my spiritual journey took a different path. Teresa had always been interested in the environment and the Native American culture so I began to look for a more tolerant religious path, one that enveloped respect for the earth and all other people and creatures. In my quest for this path, I became a happier person. I let go of a lot of blame and guilt and began to look for tolerance….not only of others but for myself as well. This spiritual transformation helped lead me into the next phase of my life. I was ready for a loving relationship.

While in Arkansas, I met Frank, a wonderful man whom I married in 1997, and our union has been so uplifting. I truly believe I met my soul mate. He is my best friend. Life is good. He’s romantic and thoughtful. He’s opened so many doors for me. He taught me computer skills, reintroduced me to the thrill of bicycling, and organized travel opportunities for us beyond my wildest dreams.

A couple of years after my marriage to Frank, my youngest daughter Tori married and had a baby daughter Sierra Jade. Then on July 18, 2004, Tori had a terrible motorcycle accident that almost took her life. Sierra was five years old at the time and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. This changed life for my little family dramatically. My sense of serenity was gone. I was consumed with worry. I felt like I couldn’t cope.

Even though Tori was hurt severely, her spirits were high. She became my spiritual guide. I read books she suggested because her example inspired me. I wanted to be as happy and peaceful as she was and is. That is when I began learning about peace and how the indwelling of the Spirit produces positive emotions such as joy, love, and peace. I began to look forward with positive expectation.

I witnessed a real miracle. Tori had a busted pelvis and was told that she could not have any more children, but in 2006, less than two years after her accident, she had an amazing baby girl, Kaya Nixi. Kaya is a Hopi Indian word meaning “wise child” and Nixi means “water sprite”. Kaya is a miracle baby. I decided to stay with Tori, Caleb, and Sierra for a while and help take care of Kaya. The first day of my stay I was jumping on the trampoline with Sierra. I fell off the trampoline and broke my arm. The weird thing is that my thoughts were so full of joy about Kaya that my broken arm didn’t matter much to me. Somehow along the way, I became discerning enough to recognize what is important in life. All other things became trivial.

9 comments:

Patty said...

Brother David Steindl-Rast in HEART OF GRATEFULNESS says that I need to continually ask myself this question, "Isn't it surprising?" There are so many wonderful things in the universe that I tend to take for granted, but if I took the time to realize the beauty of it all, I would be grateful. Even if I am having a "bad" day, I need to look for opportunity in it. Opportunity gives me a chance to change what I do not like. I need to dance through my day with gratitude and think about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Philippians 4:8). If my thought life is not coming from a place of gratitude, I can choose to change my thoughts.

Patty said...

Today I will free everyone from the bondage of my own judgments by not seeing them through past pictures I have of them. As I choose to remember that the past pictures I have are the projections of the thoughts, attitudes, and judgments from my own mind, I can release them from that bondage by releasing any attack thoughts. When I choose to release another person, I am in actuality releasing myself as the warden of my own imprisoning thoughts. As I choose freedom for another, I am also choosing to release myself. I John 4:11-12 says, "Beloved, since God loved us so much....God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us."

Patty said...

On my journey, I choose to be truly in tune with the world. I laugh loudly and feel deeply. I am never bored. I engage in life, speeding forward and staying open to all possibilities. At last that is my BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). I used to teach Ray Bradbury's DANDELION WINE in my literature classes. At one point in the story the character, Tom, a twelve-year-old boy says, "I'm alive, he thought....Birds flickered like skipped stones across the vast inverted pond of heaven. His breath raked over his teeth, going in ice, coming out fire. Insects shocked the air with electric clearness. Ten thousand individual hairs grew a millionth of an inch on his head. He heard the twin hearts beating in each ear, the third heart beating in his throat, the two hearts throbbing in his wrists, the real heart pounding his chest. The million pores on his body opened..." What a marvelous experience to feel so alive!

My Life in God said...

What a beautiful story of a family growing together, sticking together, loving and caring for each other and being there for each other. A lot of families could learn from this true story, from this journey, and should.

Libby Baker Sweiger

Patty said...

Thanks, Libby. That was wonderful of you to take time to read this story and comment on my blog. Family is so important to both of us, and we love to write about them. God bless you on your journey, Libby. I so appreciate you.

Patty said...

"For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall burst into song." (Isaiah 55:12) I am tuned into today with an expectation of joy. My work will be play, and I will accomplish everything I need to do.

Family Space said...

Hey, Patty, enjoyed this story and wanted to thank you for opening up your life so I could get to know you better.
Cindy

Patty said...

You are welcome, Cindy. Thank you for reading it.

Patty said...

In this journey of life I am enthusiastic and grateful for all that I am and all that I experience. My soul is going to live eternally so I have plenty of time to enjoy my journey. I'm going to take it slow and live inside the moment. I'm forgetting about all sorrows in the past and not projecting anxiety about the future. I know that at this moment, everything is OK, and that is all I need to know. I can be a hero in my life by staying in touch with God. He gives me the enthusiasm I need for success. The great Greek dramatist Aeschylus proclaimed, "When a man's willing and eager, God joins in..." Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Every great commanding movement in the annals of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm.." In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Psalm of Life", he reminds us that we need to turn our attention to our growth and vow to be farther tomorrow than we are today. This poem sums up the reason for enjoying our journey of life.

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!--
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken by the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave, still, like muffled drums are beating funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle, in the bivouac of life,
Be not dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all around us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."