My Cup Runneth Over…

abundance--my-cup-runneth-over-sandy-tracey

Abundance – My Cup Runneth Over by Sandy Tracey

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/abundance–my-cup-runneth-over-sandy-tracey.html

Well, today is my birthday. Here I am on the cusp of 60. One of my first columns the Pacifica Tribune ran was titled “You’ll Never Be This Young Again”. It was a little reflection upon my imminent fifties. Like that column, this blog is a reflection as I now approach the big 6-0. I woke up early this morning, had a weird dream and couldn’t go back to sleep. Maybe I was excited like when one gets on the night before the first day of school or Christmas Eve or one’s birthday, if you will. 🙂 So with some extra time this morning, I remembered the story of the children of Israel creating a mound of stones as a remembrance of crossing the Jordan River, and I thought I would spend this time remembering and thanking God for the many, many blessings I’ve received these past six decades. Before long, my cup was running over….

The first thing to come to mind was thanking God for my friend, Mary, who invited me to the church where I came to a personal, living knowledge of Jesus Christ.  My whole life’s trajectory changed with that decision. I thanked Him for our church’s drama team, my excursion to Belgium in 1983, my short time at St. Mary’s and my graduation which was a present to my father. I thanked Him for Erma Bombeck whose writing I try to emulate, and my godfather, Phil O’Connor, who inspired and encouraged me to do so. I thanked Him for my ex-husband, and the kids we had together.

I thanked Him for them, and how their lives have enriched, energized and established me. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:15 that women are saved through childbearing – really, Paul, how medieval – but for me, child rearing has indeed saved me. Saved me from myself and taught me to REALLY love someone else. They have taught me perseverance. I have had to keep at it. And for this dyed-in-the-fur hare, it has been my “salvation” and the means of transforming me into a semi-tortoise, and enabling me to begin to produce something meaningful in my life.

I thanked Him for my job. I’ve never held a job this long. I am amazed. I’ve learned so much, and have had the pleasure to work with some great people.

I thanked Him for my family. For my sister, Linda, who with Mike, got up in the middle of the night many years ago to bring Ricky to the hospital after he and James were jumped. Linda who helped extract me from the dangerous living conditions we were in, and who also listened endlessly as I vented about my problems. I thanked Him for my parents who have always helped me when I needed it. They housed me and my kids for almost ten years. I thanked Him for the sweet Christian school that miraculously took in my six shy little kids and prepared them for a traditional classroom environment, sowing the seeds of their academic success, and for the family member who namelessly, quietly, and generously paid for their first year there.

These are a few of the wonderful things God has done for me. I also thanked Him for the hard times. All the things above have shadows to them. My church was not perfect. My marriage ended. My children are human. My family has its own dynamic. There’s been work drama. There have been many bad times, many hard times. David said in one of his psalms, “It is good that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes…”. And I agree with him. I’ve learned much from my dark times.

But, God causes all things to work for the good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose: the tough times, the tender, the trivial, the triumphant and, yes, even, the tragic times. Death, in all its forms, can give birth to sobriety which gives birth to hope which gives birth to faith which gives birth to…..the impossible.

So, as I look upon another decade, Lord willing, I am excited to finish my extended course in motherhood – (legally, of course, because we all know it NEVER ends) – and to see what new things God has in store for me. And I thank Him for all of you who read my blogs and continue to encourage me in my writing.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”    – John 10:10

 

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Slouching Towards Sixty

Gleaners

Alas, another trip around the sun! It’ll be 58 trips thus far, 58 springs, summers, winters and, happily, autumns :). I’m slouching toward sixty now. Sixty! Wow, although I’ll never be this young again, I certainly have never been this old. What great gleanings have I picked up along the way? What significant insights have I sequestered? What daily declarations have I determined to live by?

When I turned 50, I was delighted because all of a sudden, I didn’t care anymore what people thought of me. I didn’t care if they thought I was a bad mom or not. I did my best, not my very best, but the best I could do at the time. As a life long people pleaser, this wasn’t easy, but, I was finally free from those haunting voices of “What would they think?” and “Who do you think you are?” The relief was palatable, and the energy saved was redistributed into the continued task of raising the rest of my kids and crafting new ideas for my future. My blog was born shortly after this discovery.

Subsequently, as I slouch toward sixty, the fears that have anchored themselves into my being are finally being dislodged and although the consequence may be a little disorienting, definitely a little scary, Solomon’s grand declaration in Proverbs – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths – has provided the necessary structural support for me to continue to release those anchors and begin to sail into broader seas.

One of the GREATEST things about getting older, for me, is the reconciliation of my self to my self. I don’t know if that makes sense. In some respects, I spent many decades being someone I thought I should have been. The kind of Christian I should have been or the kind of wife and mother I should have been. I think this is a real issue with people pleasers, but it might be one for a lot of other people too. Now, I trust that I am walking with the Lord, I have seen Him do innumerable things in my life and in the lives of my family. I trust Him to continue to do so.

Finally, it’s funny how things simmer within ourselves. Ideas that have been floating around, finally come to the surface. I’ve wanted to write for decades. At first when I was fresh out of high school, the thought of writing was impossible, it really was, not only was the identity of being a writer repugnant to my insignificant self, “I was not worthy, not smart enough, didn’t have anything worthwhile to say….etc.”, but also the thought of staying on task was impossible to this hare-brained, emotionally undernourished, young adult. I had other things to figure out first.

Throughout my marriage, I dabbled in writing, penning some kids’ stories and keeping up with my journal.Two books came my way. The first, Maybe You Should Write a Book, was given to me by my ex-husband. That book sure whets one’s appetite with great stories of book successes from Peter Benchley and Mario Puzo. Ralph Daigh even told his own Hemingway story. A real jewel. The other book, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, my writer godfather gave me around 2006. Inscribed with his bold handwritten script – NEVER BE INTIMIDATED – was almost a familial mandate to pursue this desire. The first thing I ever published was blessed by this man. Now, every time I crack open Bird by Bird and see his handwritten message, I can almost hear his booming voice – NEVER BE INTIMIDATED. More anchors cast away.

November was National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. I was going to participate, but was overwhelmed with other things that were going on in my life. But, I did try to pray every morning instead of writing. Earlier in the year, I was chatting with a friend of my dad’s, Niel Davidson. He reads my blogs. What a nice guy! Anyway, I mentioned to him about writing a book….he suggested I compile my blogs and columns. I had thought of that before, but his suggestion seemed to give the idea traction. So during November, I began to pray in that direction, but I really wanted an illustrator. So I prayed for one.

In December, I was on Facebook and noticed one of my friends’ kids had changed her profile pic to one of her illustrations. “Wow, she’s good,” I thought. I messaged her, we got together, and I now have my illustrator, and we are collaborating on this project, my first soon-to-be self-published book, The Plight of the Hare and Other Stories From the Shoe. We are very excited.

So now as I slouch toward sixty, I am slouching in front of my computer learning InDesign, typesetting my book, reviewing Breena’s wonderful sketches and hoping, working, creating and still parenting toward a fruitful winter.