Excited to share that New England Donor Services featured Makenzie’s story in their Winter/Spring newsletter that just published. They contacted me back in the fall and invited me to write an article about Kenzie’s life saving gifts.The timing for this publication is good as January is the anniversary month of Kenzie’s death. I feel grateful to be able to honor her and her memory in this way. Here is the piece that I wrote:
You can’t have a perfect day without doing something for someone who’ll never be able to repay you”. John Wooden, Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach -(Public Quote)
Kenzie’s Perfect Day
As I lay here propped up on my daughter’s bed, I write about that fateful January morning as she drove to school nearly seven years ago. Makenzie, our seventeen year old daughter, sister, and best friend walked out of our lives. She suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of her accident hitting snow and ice on her way to school. To say that it was life changing would be an understatement. Gratefully, I can say that as her mom, I have been given an extra chapter to my sweet girl’s story with the abundance of the lifesaving gifts that she gave. The decision to let our daughter go and then to donate her organs was the most difficult and most important decision of all of our lives. I remember telling the transplant coordinator that I NEEDED to hear from the recipients. I asked her to please relay this and she promised that she would.
The first letter came soon and it was good for me as I learned how Kenzie’s liver saved a dad, husband and grandfather. The letter was written by the man’s three sons. I remember the relief I felt to receive it and I instantly sat down and penned a reply and general letter to all of the recipients. The recipients needed to know about my daughter and her life and of how blessed they were to receive such a healthy gift from our daughter a talented young soccer player. I received letters from some of the other recipients that first year, and now have met, become friends, with three of my daughter’s organ recipients. To watch one young adolescent girl blossom as she shared her life with me, was heart- warming, as she shared prom pictures and high- school graduation pictures. I know that she understands the magnitude of Makenzie’s gifts. Another blessing is the friendship that I have with our daughter’s pancreas recipient and his family. I attended the wedding of his eldest daughter which was emotional to witness as this dad proudly walked her down the aisle. Wow! Our daughter truly has made her mark on this world. And finally to know the person who is the caretaker of our beautiful daughter’s heart is incredible. He has her sense of humor and has even remarked that as an x-Marine, he feels emotion like he has never experienced before. I feel lovingly connected to this sweet gentleman.
Pictured is Larry(the caretaker of Kenzie’s heart, his wife Mary, and myself -fall 2016
This life giving decision was made in accordance with how Kenzie lived her life with love and compassion. I thank my daughter and best friend for Kenzie’s best gift that has also evolved me as a person. To experience first-hand the lives that have been changed and to see how she lives on in this world is a miracle. God has used this for His grand purposes to bless so many lives including mine.
Here is my poem about this transformation:
Life was so content in my little world,
I thought I had it all as I had my boy and girl
God called me to change, spun tight in my cocoon
Robbed of life as I knew it, it happened way too soon
Never had I a thought that it would occur one fateful morn
My metamorphosis in life, my faith to be reborn
As the tears fell by the buckets and my soul reached searing pain
He brought me out of sorrow; would not allow my bane
My healing started slowly as i stepped out in my faith
And realized He was using this to bring me to my laith
Joy was granted freely in the God winks that He used
Allowing Kenzie’s presence to keep me smiling and amused
Zebra stripes and purple are frequent treasure finds
Mapping out my course as I find her little dimes
A gift of a distant trip to Barbados we would trek
New friends He called me to share with…. I now realize their affect
“Keep calm cuz I love you mom” her precious note discovered
Her birthday gift to me as she celebrated me, her mother
The treasure finds would bless me, Tree of Life became a sign
I knew the meaning, its’ true origin… His Biblical design
God used her gifts, as well as mine, to lead others and myself to seek Him first
To connect all the puzzle pieces …quenching life’s immeasurable and foremost thirst
As I was called to share the God winks in our book “Wish You A Goode Journey”
It started with a Chinese fortune and continues with her annual soccer tourney
The butterfly His symbol to show me she is near
It was a sign of my metamorphosis, through faith in Christ, exquisitely so dear
Now that our book is written with prayers that it will offer a beam of light
This is a sad and darkened world, may eyes that are blinded be open to his delight.
Death is the cocoon that attempts to hold us from the healing door.
Of heaven’s new mercies, wings gifted, if accepted, will allow one to soar.
WHAT THE CATERPILLAR CALLS THE END OF THE WORLD, THE MASTER CALLS A BUTTERFLY
As I drove into work this morning, my radio and its’ announcer caught my attention. The DJ was talking about faith and asked this question: “how deep is your faith”? Funny thing is that a similar discussion occurred by a different radio announcer just last evening as I was listening to the radio during my drive home after work. So I have to stop and wonder if God is trying to get my attention. As I continued to drive in the darkness this morning, I considered that faith question. Although I ‘d like to think that my faith is rock solid, I entertain thoughts of doubt more times than I care to admit. My wavering faith happens in random circumstances. I should not be doubting our God of the universe nor have any doubt with respect to His provisions and plans for my life. Sometimes I think it stems from my impatience. Waiting for God is good for us. If we believe and allow His perfect plan to unfold, a bounty of blessings are manifested and sometimes only realized retrospectively.
I can relate to it this way as I compare the smaller blessings to individual petals on a blossom of an exquisite flower. By looking closely at each petal one can see intricate texture, design and color and possibly even a hint of fragrance can be detected. But when the blossom is experienced in its fullness only then can it be truly appreciated. Yes, God’s timing and plan are perfect, always.
Lately I have sensed that God is asking me to take on something that seems daunting; beyond my limitations. Have you ever been compelled to try something that requires you to step out in faith and out of your comfort zone? The idea may in some ways seem exhilarating but also overwhelming and even frightening. We are called to trust God in everything and with our very lives. When we ignore or dismiss the call for change out of fear, we actually short change ourselves as we are eliminating the probability of the bigger blessings that God has in store for us.
My Godwink came this morning early as I was driving to work listening to that radio announcer asking the question: how deep is your faith? I started to have a quiet dialogue in my mind with God asking Him about the doubts that I’ve been experiencing regarding the task that I am feeling led to. I asked God if I had been mistaken? As I drove on that dark road I came up behind the car in front of me and saw my Godwink!
I followed this car all the way to work. I got into the wrong lane at the stoplight just so I could snap this picture. I wonder what the driver was thinking!! Ha ha
So I will continue to trust, wait on God, and believe.
In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, some of my business associates and friends are posting on social media their personal word for 2017. Their chosen word is one of significance that they will own for the upcoming year to help facilitate their goals, their passions, and perhaps aid in accountability. Here is my friend Julie’s chosen word.
Julie: I chose my word for 2017!
Obsessed with God
Obsessed with my marriage
Obsessed with my family
Obsessed with my Business
Obsessed with my Budget
Obsessed with my Health
Obsessed with my friendships!
What a Year it will be!!!
Reflection of 2016 is complete
I am a work in progress…
Success is being a step closer each and every day to the Best Version of me God created me to to be!
Thanks Julie, I adore you and your chosen word. I like how you will incorporate it into your life.
So I decided to choose my word for 2017, I choose BELIEVE
*Believe not doubt
*Believe in others and their potential, as well as my own
*Believe that there is good in the world
*Believe that there is hope for our country and our planet
*Believe in God’s calling and purpose in my life
*Believe in and wait patiently for His plan to unfold
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. NIV
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Is there any better expression to be uttered in recognition of the birth of our savior Jesus? I think on the word Immanuel which means our God is with us. What a most humbling and yet reassuring thought that each of us can hold onto. I reflect on my favorite holiday song which is Immanuel, by Michael Card. I first heard Immanuel when attending a Michael Card concert in December 2009, the month before our Kenzie left us. I have to ask you if you have a favorite song that gives you tingling all over and “goosebumps” when you hear it? This song does that for me. I am so inspired by its’ lyrics as well as the beautiful symphony music that embodies and completes the song. I remember after coming home late from that concert, I downloaded it and ran into Kenzie’s room and woke her up and asked her to listen! She reluctantly obliged as I placed the ear buds to her head; ( gotta add here that she often would ask me to do the same, although I can’t remember her waking me up to listen). She sleepily told me that she liked the song.
When she left this world on January 30, 2010, it was only mere weeks preceding that time when I had shared Immanuel with her. Although it was labeled as a Christmas song, I felt compelled to have it sung at Kenzie’s service. The lyrics spoke to my heart and my hope was to share the same with family and friends.
( sharing below the lyrics, although I hope you will download the song and listen to it, as it is truly amazing).
Immanuel – by Michael Card
A sign shall be given a virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing undiminished deity
The glory of the nations a light for all to see
That hope for all who will embrace His warm reality
Immanuel our God is with us
And if God is with us who could stand against us
Our God is with us
For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold your light has come
Immanuel our God is with us
And if God is with us who could stand against us
Our God is with us
So what will be Your answer? Will You hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His son but gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power there is no depth or height
That could ever separate us from the love of God in Christ
Immanuel our God is with us
And if God is with us who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Since I am writing this post at Christmas time, I thought that I could also share a couple of Christmas time memories from when I was much younger. I remember Christmas caroling with our church youth group as we visited homes of the elderly who were referred to us as “shut-ins”. These people who were our audience, would tear up as our little group of unpolished voices sang and they seemed very eager to keep us there for just another minute. They did not want our young faces that lit up the room, to leave. Sometimes we were even offered a cup of hot chocolate as we shared our gift of Christmas cookies with them. As a kid it made me sad to think that there were people so lonely living right there among us, in our small town. People who did not leave the confines of their homes due to their frailty. It was a much needed lesson of compassion that we were learning at a young age. We were being taught the importance of reaching out to others as we blessed them with the gift of ourselves, in the sharing of our time.
I am also recalling quiet evening walks during the month of December. After attending ThursdayTrailblazers meetings, a weekly youth event, I would walk home in the cold and dark of twilight. But, I didn’t mind. It gave me time to think and to listen. I can remember hearing the church bells ringing as a church organist practiced Christmas songs and hymns preparing for an upcoming Sunday worship. I never considered what an imprint the music was leaving on my heart. I believe those songs were ministering to me even as a young girl as if preparing my heart for what was to come. And now a cherished relationship with Christ as my source of peace, strength, joy and hope.
Following Makenzie’s funeral service, I was greeted by a church friend. He commented on the high school chorus’ rendition of Immanuel. This friend expressed to me that he felt it was important that I shared that song with Makenzie’s friends who were most likely feeling very lost and hopeless. He felt confident that our song Immanuel left an imprint on their hearts to encourage them.
Whether it be for a frail and lonely person, or during a cold and dark December walk, or amidst the crumbling of a grieving heart, Immanuel is with us. And if God is with us, who can stand against us?
Our God is With Us! IMMANUEL
Revisiting this post from last year …( a post to my angel Makenzie )
Yesterday I posted something for Christmas on Kenzie’s FB page but then later on deleted it … Thinking about it this morning I could not fathom why I removed it. I had posted about The Three Kings and will share it below.. But this is now my realization for perhaps why it was deleted; It was not finished.
This past fall I was introduced to yet another mom, Denyse, who had recently lost her teenage daughter. We have become friends and she is finding her way through this storm by sharing goodness this holiday season, one small gift at a time. She and her other children have been leaving anonymous gift packages in the mailboxes of those who might not receive anything or who may need a lift in their spirits. Imagine! By reaching out to others in such unimaginable saddness, she is finding true blessings. This morning I found a package in my own mailbox. What is so special is that she is a wonderful artist and part of the gift that she left me was self created holiday cards of ” The Three Kings”. I love it. A perfect God wink which makes sense to me now, as I understand why I had deleted my original post. The timing was not right. Now I can share my sentiments to my Kenzie with this picture.
Original artwork by my friend Denyse
Merry Christmas, my sweet daughter. It has not been the same since you left us. I am thinking about the Three Kings and their gifts brought to the newborn King. But I believe it is not about their gifts nor about our material gifts which hold such high expectations in this world today. Christmas is about sharing ourselves: joy, laughter, peace and grace found from within . It is about LOVE. It’s about allowing God to use us for His purpose on this earth until we are called back home to be with Him. I am so glad Kenzie, that you made your beautiful difference by sharing your gifts, so many gifts, in your short life. I long to do the same ! My prayer and hope is that I will make a difference by fulfilling God’s will in using my gifts to offer joy, laughter, peace, grace and LOVE in humility as I walk with Him.
Joy to the world. Our Savior reigns!
Merry Christmas on earth as it is in Heaven.
A God Nudge
So happy I paid attention to my God nudge this week. For the past couple of months I have had this feeling that I should contact an area Assisted Living establishment in an attempt to visit and set a date to share about my Anti-aging skin care and brain supplement products. As I was taking my noontime walk on Thursday of this week, I got another feeling, a God nudge to make that call. I did and after inquiring, learned there would be a holiday fair there in just two days. After I was connected to the appropriate person, it was decided that there was room for me.
As I’m involved in these events, I never know truly what to expect nor whom God might place in my path for His purpose. Yesterday was no exception. The first woman that made an impact on me was a resident there who was simply admiring my glitter butterflies that I use to decorate my vendor table. Of course! These residents were not interested in skincare nor brain supplement for restoration of their focus, cognitive skills and memory. They were attracted to my butterflies and many wanted to purchase them. That first woman needed to talk so she shared a bit about where she came from and her own Godwinks too. As we got to know one another she revealed that she had been the only caretaker for her husband for the past five years and that he suffered so from his debilitating affliction. I am supposing that Alzheimers Disease may have been his nemesis. She told me that she had only recently become a resident and that her husband passed away just two days before he was to join her there at the assisted living facility. She started to cry and she told me they had been married for 63 years. I got up and I hugged her so tight and encouraged her to think on only the good things including what he must be seeing now and that when the time comes for them to reunite he will not be sick but will meet her as she remembers when he was vibrant and healthy. This woman wrote down her name for me and I think that I will send her a Christmas card and perhaps visit her in the new year.
While sharing my skincare line with other visitors another memorable connection was made. Across from my table was a daughter with her aging mom. Her elderly but spirited mom was dressed as one of Santa’s Elves and her mom was selling all kinds of trinkets that I assume had been acquired over the years. The daughter came over to my table and as we got to know one another, we discovered that we both had children in the same birth years. As we continued to talk I learned that she had attended church once upon a time but had not found a new church home for many years. I thought that I saw in her eyes a longing for friendship and a reconnection to her faith in Christ. I jotted down the name of my church and invited her to come be a part of my beautiful church family. I want to add here that many of my most meaningful and deeply connected friendships are with my church family at Monadnock Covenant. I also offered that she could catch it on live-stream if she wanted a glimpse into our Sunday worship. She commented that she had never heard of such a thing. As we parted I gave her my phone number and encouraged her to be in touch.
My most amazing connection yesterday was with two young girls who passed by my table. Although they were intrigued with my skincare line, they were even more interested in my book which I had lying there with Kenzie’s picture. As I shared with them one of the girls immediately said to me “oh yes!, I am a recipient myself of two organs just this past spring”! As I shared Makenzie’s story, I inquired if she had reached out to the donor family and she said ” I just can’t! I don’t know what to say”! She got very tearful and told me she could not continue our conversation as she was so emotional and they walked away. Later on she came back to my table and she purchased my book and as they were leaving, we hugged and I told her that when she is ready, that I will help her write the letter.
Wow! My day was filled with blessings! Yes, I sold some of my skincare products but what I gained personally from these interactions was immeasurable.
So I was hoping to leave you with this thought; how are you reaching out to our world? Christmas time is perhaps the best time to reach out to those who are vulnerable, hurting, and seeking. You can personally be a messenger of the best gift, the gift of the Prince of Peace.
It has been said over and over again that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. I have to say from the joy that I receive by reaching out to others that this is truth. When you sense a God nudge, acknowledge it and act on it as it may certainly lead you to a Godwink.
Post Script: This week’s blog post was written early this morning before church. As I attended church later on this morning, I found it interesting that we were celebrating the second Sunday of Advent and the candle of Peace was lit. Today’s message just happened to be about Jesus, Our Prince of Peace.
Sharing this post from last year as I think it touched many and is worthy to share again.
A Christmas Tree of Life
This tree was given by our church youth group in memory of Kenz. That first Christmas it was decorated with butterfly ornaments… one still remains… I will add more this year 💜
As I read posts on social media about loss, especially recent loss and about sadness around the holidays, it makes me think of that first Christmas without Kenz. I recall words from a well meaning friend “you will just have to find your new normal”. At the time, the words stung! I did not want a new normal. I had made up my mind that I was not going to have a Christmas tree. After all, Makenzie was such an intricate part of the tradition of putting the tree up. I am, for the most part a procrastinator. I have to feel inspired to do things that matter; but, Kenz always wanted the tree up immediately following Thanksgiving. I could usually delay this with my own reasoning for a couple of weeks but then she would haul off and pull the decorations out of storage and get everything going.. With Christmas music blaring, she would get the tree situated with lights wrapped on it and a few precious handmade ornaments from kindergarten placed strategically front and center (she knew that I would move these sweet little gems to the back to accommodate my own need for synchronicity and perfection). And then she would ditch me! Opened boxes spread all over the living room floor she would find something else to suit her fancy and leave me to finish the job.
Anyway that first Christmas season I was shopping and as I waited in line, a box of purple ornaments summoned me. I actually got out of a very long line at a cash register to retrieve this single box of ornaments and then get to the back of the line to purchase them.
So that first December, Nicole and Ashley came and helped me decorate the most meaningful and precious Christmas tree. In some sense, I consider it my Tree of Life that first Christmas. As they did, I also shared with Nicole and Ashley about Kenzie’s gift of life. It was a very long and tearful afternoon as they poured over the pages of the letters of correspondence that I have exchanged with the recipients. I think we used a full box of tissues that day.
Once word got out about my purple Christmas tree, gifts of ornaments came from so many sweet friends. Purple, zebra, and butterfly ornaments. I was mesmerized by the white lights shining on each special decoration and would sit for hours in the evening transfixed in my own thoughts and place of serenity. Perhaps only a tree Kenzie’s mom could love? That first Christmas I kept that tree up until Valentine’s Day when my husband Bob finally coaxed me, begged me to put it away.
We have celebrated these past five Christmas seasons with this pretty but eclectic Christmas tree. As I started to work on this year’s Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving (Kenzie inspired) I did not get too far. Only lights strung on the tree; still pondering what am I waiting for? It just came to me this morning. I will bring out all the old favorites from years gone by and use them this year. Yes, I will take my most precious and cherished handmade ornaments crafted by tiny hands and strategically place them front and center.
Kenzie’s Angel- age 3
Each person’s process of experiencing those first holidays without their loved one is unique. A new normal is unimaginable and even seemingly insurmountable for most of us. Be gentle and patient and kind to yourself and allow the gift; the greatest gift of all “Jesus” to embrace you, love on you, and allow your heart to find peace and comfort. Maybe even joy will be discovered in something as unassuming as a box of purple ornaments or the tracing of a small hand.
Joy in His Plan B
The slightest ping of angst crept into my heart this week. Where is my joy? I suppose it is stemming from underlying thoughts of the approaching holidays. Each year it just happens; I cannot explain it but only in terms that the holidays for me have always been about family. My family has shrunk to next to nothing. As our adult children get older, their responsibilities and priorities change as they have lives of their own and then there is the punctuated absence of Makenzie which only magnifies this feeling. Makenzie was the glue that held us together. She adored Thanksgiving and always said it was her favorite holiday. Her favorite food was my sister’s scalloped corn and always insisted each holiday that she doubled the recipe.
So lately I have had this unsettling feeling that God is ready to execute plan B in my life by taking things up a notch. I have been including in my prayers requests for discernment about certain areas of my life. The book is written, however I have been struggling with the marketing piece of it. As I am acutely aware of the need to be aggressive in pitching to promote the book, I find myself losing the joy of sharing my daughter’s story. I simply cannot lose the joy! So what’s next? Included in my conversations with God, I have also asked that He close the doors that are no longer a viable use of my time and talent to make room for His Plan B. But just this week, I had this realization that an important door is about to close and this is causing me a bit of sadness. It is hard to let go.
During the late summer of 2010 following her death, I got involved in fundraising for the Scholarship Fund that was established in Makenzie’s memory. It was such a great distraction for me and provided something positive to focus on for the ultimate purpose of keeping our daughter’s name and memory alive! Although the fundraising for the most part has ceased due to reaching our monetary goal and accomplishing a perpetual scholarship fund, there is an annual event that still occurs. The Makenzie Goode annual Soccer Tournament brings friends together for the game Makenzie loved as much or more than just about anything else in her life. In recent years the number of teams and players has dwindled, and this year there is a strong hint that there just may not be enough teams to make it happen. Although I knew deep in my heart that this was inevitable, the closing of this particular door is really heartbreaking. I will need to trust God on this.
As I journey through losing Makenzie, I feel that God has called me to share my faith and He seems to be using my volunteer work with New England Organ Bank/Donate Life as a platform to share her story and the miracle of Organ Donation. So this weekend I am involved in National Donate Life Sabbath by simply setting up a Donate Life registration table during a blood drive that is occurring at my church. National Donate Life Sabbath occurs around the second weekend in November annually, just prior to Thanksgiving. It is a great time to reflect on those who gave the precious gift of life. It is also a time to bring awareness to the importance of organ and tissue donation. It is so important to me as Kenzie’s mom to share about her life as well as her gifts of life. Five years ago I actually served in a different capacity for Donate Life Sabbath by sharing our story for the very first time in front of our church congregation of better than four hundred. I was so nervous. Makenzie’s friends, her “besties”, her brother Sean and other family and friends came to support me as I shared our story. Who would have known that this would lead to much more sharing, a published book, and now book talks, and public speaking? Our God is an awesome God! On that day five years ago, a very important person and his wife came to support me. Al, the recipient of Makenzie’s pancreas drove a very long distance that Sunday morning to support me. He willingly stood up when I shared that he was in the sanctuary and many of Kenzie’s friends went to meet him and hug him. It was so touching. My husband Bob joined me on the podium at my insistance and held my hand. He got pretty tearful as I shared our story, but I know how very proud he is of me and especially Kenz.
As I opened my email devotional this morning there was a really important verse that I will share here. Funny how these things seem to tie together. Godwinks at their finest.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV).
I am thankful for my daughter ‘s life and for her gifts, and for her amazing friends who have enthusiastically supported the Memorial Soccer Tournament. I will gracefully accept the doors in my life that close and with joy and anticipation await wisdom and discernment with regard to His Plan B in my life.
Sent from my iPad
Lately I have been attending a creative writers’ workshop and am enjoying it immensely. It’s not the writing that pulls at my heartstrings, although it is great to actually carve out time each week allocated for just writing, but what I am enjoying most is the new friendships that I am making as we share through our writing, our lives. What I admire is the honesty that comes out in the writing as we write and share among those who have not been a part of our private lives. I am somewhat surprised at the similarities of the experiences that we share; trials and conquests and this reminds me that we are all created the same, in His image.
Our initial writing exercise with the group was to take ten minutes and write about the first thing that came to mind. As I stared at the blank page I noticed the heading on the stationary “Hospice of Franklin County”. So I wrote about my experience with hospice in the final days of our dad’s life. The final time that I spent with my dad was on New Year’s eve of 2009. It was certainly not a typical New Year’s eve celebration as you can imagine. Our dad was in and out of lucidity as my sister and I sat with him throughout the evening. It was hard to watch his confusion as he seemed to have one foot in this world and the other with trepidation slipping into the next. The hospice volunteer arrived the next morning which was New Year’s Day and sat with our dad as we left together to grab a late breakfast. When we returned, I noticed that a small bird had crashed into the glass door at the entrance and died on the ground where it fell. This seemed like a premonition to me as I wondered if our dad had slipped away in our absence. He had not. The hospice worker encouraged my sister and I to go to our homes and take a nap for much needed rest as our father’s impending death had stretched over most of that preceeding week. We were both emotionally spent. I remember telling my dad goodbye before I left and encouraging him to go find mom and take that walk with her on Wells Beach; a sacred place for them where they had taken many beautiful walks.
It was not more than twenty minutes after I arrived home and layed down on my bed with my dog Grace at my side. I remember being extremely upset. Suddenly Grace started barking and moved to the end of the bed. It was as if there were something or someone standing there as she assertively barked in protective mode over me. I even asked her what was it that she saw? This went on for several minutes and then she just stopped and got quiet. Following that the phone rang and it was the nursing home calling to tell me that my dad had passed shortly after I had left. I have always wondered about that encounter with Grace barking so agressively. I have often wondered if my dad had stopped by to check on me before he left for the next world.
So I shared my piece with the writer’s group. I also shared my additional thought about hospice. I am grateful for these selfless individuals that choose to work as hospice workers and I consider them angels in disguise. They bless the infirmed, the terminally ill, with respect and dignity to die peacefully.
This past week the leader of our writers’ group was unable to attend and a “stand-in” facilitator was asked to lead the group. I was seated right next to her. As we visited she got up and hugged me and explained that she thought that I looked familiar and then remarked that her grand daughter knew Makenzie. This new acquaintance also revealed that she had wanted to call me after she had learned that I wrote a book about Makenzie, and she congratulated me. She revealed that she too lost her daughter, however very recently. After the workshop ended and everyone else left, I remained seated there next to this new acquaintance and we talked. I asked her if she was receiving Godwinks and at first she said no. But then she started to think about it and asked if I was talking about the clouds. She mentioned beautiful cloud formations that she had witnessed that caused her to think about her daughter. She explained that she actually witnessed clouds take the form of the word “Mom” and that they lingered for quite sometime. She also told of a time when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and all of a sudden a rainbow appeared right before her and then after a while a cloud formed below the rainbow in an image that looked like an Irish step dancer. This made her smile as she explained that her daughter loved “Lord of the Dance” with Irish step dancing. This mom told me that she actually captured a picture of that Irish Step Dancer cloud image and that her sister who was a long ways away also witnessed the same! I smiled as I told her that I believed those were Godwinks intended for her. God’s affirmations that He was with her and her daughter was fine.
Summing up this week’s blog: Lesson or Blessing? I guess a little bit of both. My lesson was my reminder that there is so much unseen in our existence here. I do believe that our loved ones are very close to us, maybe even watching us, perhaps even cheering us on as we find our way with God’s amazing provision for us in our time of grief. My blessing this week was that it was nice to be able to sit and encourage my new friend at the writer’s workshop. I believe that people are placed in our path for a reason. Perhaps she will be more apt to look for the Godwinks now, and maybe even yearn for a deeper knowledge and relationship with our Father in Heaven who continues to bless us.
” May the blessings of each day, be the blessings you need most”.
Taking walks in the woods brings such joy. I love it almost as much as a walk on the seashore and find it a great time to just be alone to reflect, be quiet, and to listen. I have friends, city living friends who are uncomfortable if not afraid, to be in the woods. I suppose I can relate, as any journey that requires city walking causes me a similar uneasiness.
The other day I took a walk with my husband. Our beautiful New England foliage was ablaze in color. By living in New England , we are gifted four seasons. With each season, its purpose realized and so it goes in our lives as well. I got to thinking about the seasons of our lives and of how each season plays out sometimes concluding with joy in a grand finale , if only we can recognize it. There are seasons of happiness and joy, seasons of loss and of growth, and seasons of grief just to name a few.
As I relished in the amazing colors of this year’s fall foliage, I decided that I could not recall another fall season with such beauty. I am told that due to and following significant drought, the colors are more brilliant!
What if that is also the case in our own lives? Sometimes it seems like life gives us feast or famine. It gives us obstacles, hardships, and seasons of drought as well. It seems to me that after we live through it, we are many times rewarded with a grand finale in that particular season of our life. I think of the magnitude of Makenzie’s grand finale as she left her mark on this world by saving so many lives. I am even aware.of it in my own life following my season of grief after the death of my dad and then four weeks later, my daughter. God is always faithful but, in His due time for His intended purpose. God displays His amazing vibrant image in each of us in our unique circumstances and creates a beautiful finish in the seasons of our lives. We need to pause, reflect and recognize what a masterpiece God has created in each of us, like the fall foliage.
Last evening I attended a Pilates in Pink event for breast cancer awareness. The proceeds to benefit an organization called The Healing Garden. As I surveyed the room of participants I saw such a variety of supporters. It seems cancer has touched everyone in some capacity. I met a few who were participating even in the midst of their own cancer treatment. I feel confident that God is composing his Grand Finale in them, in this season of their lives as well. I lost my mother to breast cancer so the sting is still very real. But my mom, as she was seated in the first chair of that symphony in her life, never missed a note and allowed it to play out in a beautiful melody through her. What a joy filled purpose driven life she lived.
Pilates in Pink Event
I listened to a sermon this morning and this was offered:
“The attitude we have while we are in the wilderness determines how long we remain there”. Joyce Meyer
I like that. If we can recognize that even in the seasons of drought or uncertainty in our lives, we have the opportunity to willingly and even expectantly live through it with hopeful anticipation. To have a mindset that in His perfect timing He will create a beautiful finish. As we allow it, our attitude can soar to a great altitude as Christ’s image is revealed in us.
But they delight in the law of the lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season. Psalm 1:2-3
As I strive to live with my eyes and heart wide open, I marvel at the Godwinks. Subtle affirmations that Kenzie is with me, as I sense her inspirations through the hands of God. Yesterday I had a couple of “hand picked” Godwinks that amused me and I thought worthy to share here.
Yesterday, I was headed out in the late morning to meet my friend Linda for lunch. Linda and I became friends after I became affiliated with the Community Foundation where Makenzie’s Memorial Scholarship Fund was established. Anyway as I was driving, I passed a fundraising sign where there was a new car being raffled. I drove right by and had this sense that I needed to turn around and go back. If you ever get a strong feeling out of nowhere, pay attention to it, as many times a blessing will be found behind it. So I drove back and decided to buy a couple of tickets in support of a very worthy cause. Although I do not need a new car, I would not turn it down if I happened to be the lucky winner. So I walked up to the reception desk and asked to purchase the tickets. As I was filling out the raffle cards, I mentioned that their cause was near and dear to my heart and I shared a tiny bit about losing Kenzie. When I finished filling out my information, I looked up and saw that the woman had a pensive look on her face as she asked me when I lost my daughter. I told her 2010 and as I did, she crumbled into tears. She explained that she too lost her child in 2010. I extended sympathy to her as I commented that God continues to “hand pick” those that are placed in my path who are experiencing the same trial. Although our journey is different we are connected as the mothers of our children. As I reflected on this, I paused to wonder if the spirits of our children have somehow met. I left with my tickets in hand and got into my car. There it was again, that feeling that I needed to go back and this time the nudge was to give the woman that I had just met a copy of “Wish You a Goode Journey”. I even sensed the words in my heart “this is your ministry”. I heeded the call and went back in and gave her my book.
The day continued as I headed to the old 1700’s built house, a place called Country Mischief, now a restaurant and gift shop, where I was meeting Linda. Our waitress greeted me as I arrived and escorted me into the parlor where I felt the warmth of the welcoming fire in the old time fireplace. The waitress then pointed to a tiny room in an alcove of the parlor “hand picked” and said you get the outhouse today, as she explained that we would actually be dining where a once working three seater outhouse had been. I laughed and commented “well, of course! My Godwink! Another one for today”! The waitress who told me her name was Donna, asked me what a Godwink was and I quickly explained as my friend Linda joined us.
Linda and I enjoying a slice of Country Mischief’s homemade pie
Later on Donna returned to take our orders and she excitedly asked to share her Godwink from the day before. She told us that she had waitressed for many years at a restaurant down the road and had just gotten fired from her job two nights earlier. She said that she had slept fitfully as she worried for her future, and decided to take a morning walk and wound up here at this establishment. Donna said that although she had not planned it, she found herself asking the owner if any waitress help was needed and the owner asked her if she could start immediately as she tossed her an apron. Yes, I would say that was a Godwink! Funny as well as interesting are the stories that I hear when I open up to people and engage them in friendly conversation. And who knows where this may lead as God has His perfect plan “hand picked” for each one of us. I shared my blog info with Donna our waitress with hopes that after she connects here, it will lead her or someone she shares this with to a deeper knowledge of how the God of the universe and our very own heavenly father longs to be involved in our lives in an individual way if only we open our eyes and our hearts to Him and His revelations.
It was a beautiful day even after enjoying my lunch on the bench of a three seater! Kenzie inspired I am sure.
We lifted up the cushion to reveal the three seater … oh my goodness!
Since the departure of our sweet girl, I have been blessed with many new acquaintances and friends. I cannot count the number of people who were there for me in the beginning, when I could not find my way; those “hand picked” by a heavenly father who cared so deeply for me, and still does. Through connections to activities that kept me busy, I discovered my voice again and now strive to be a voice of hope and purpose as I share our journey. Makenzie has certainly made her mark and left me, her mom, with a very big purpose in this our journey.
Thought for your day: “Never ever quit: A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song”. Maya Angelou
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