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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Meet Me At This Moment for Five Minute Friday post! I spend the last hour of Thursday chatting it up with a group of authentic and inspiring Five Minute Friday bloggers on Twitter (#FiveMinuteFriday #fmfparty). One minute past midnight EST Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a single word prompt and we all write a blog post centered around that word. We write for five minutes, and five minutes only! In the wjords of Lisa, this is “unscripted. unedited. real.” You meet me at this moment in time…my thoughts and opinions, my joys and sorrows, my dilemmas and dreams. And I receive one of the greatest gifts ever…a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts without constantly editing myself. This is my life, my perspective, unfiltered.

The word of the week is WHAT MAMA DID. 

 

Mama captured moments and put them in place to be treasured.

A lifetime of memories quietly tucked away in books.

Photo albums mama made for each of us. Her days more than busy. Too busy. But mama took time.

The baby days, little feet and piggy tails and buggies and bottles on feet. A golden birthday celebrated in a little white chair. Daddy and mama, and sister came along too.

In the early days, smiles shined brightly on the pages. The girl full of energy and spunk. The girl who didn’t care what anyone thought. She was there with all the grandmas and the grandpas and the special trips made to Disneyland and Disneyworld and all the great mountains and geysers of the states. And brother was born. So tiny in her big elementary arms.

The birthday parties, they passed one by one. Angel cakes with mountains high of frosting. Bear collections and 4-H projects and sweet girl memories with Sara and Claire and Abbey.

And as she grew, mama captured all that too. Grandma played her last piece on the piano, and the girl turned adolescent. Awkward stances turned into tennis matches and prom dances.

And she was growing into herself, she loved to dress up, even then. Some days she was curly, some days she was straight. She had life in her, but did what she was told. Concerts and recitals and musicals a plenty. The days were good and filled to the brim. Graduation in a gym with grandpa and auntie, and sweet buddy Charlie and tear-filled Jamie.

College days were here. Wisdom teeth were pulled, grandma celebrated her last birthday, and this girl-woman got engaged. Graduation and showers and a wedding in two months. A move for school, another two years, and a stadium with thousands marked the end for women who knew how hard they worked to earn that graduate degree.

Time passed, and passed some more. A baptism was on that last page. She had her first, a new chapter. A baptism meant it was time for mama to stop filling the pages. But mama? She continued to mark each day, each memory, each moment in her heart. And although pages were no longer filled by mama, a new mama had been birthed, and she did what mama did. She filled pages with a lifetime of love.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  Ephesians 4:16

Amy

This girl, this woman in the making? Her name is Haylee. Half my years, I could have a daughter her age if I’d been a teen mom. But this young woman? She inspires me more than most twice my age.

We met three years ago. I didn’t expect to meet such a girl, but we clicked like that. Like we’d known each other forever, like we planned on knowing each other forever.

I passed barns and horses roaming free. I passed that house on the hill, admiring the open fields and tranquility. And then I discovered Haylee. She was part of it all, and it was as if I was meant to meet this girl.

Sometimes quiet, unassuming, not quite sure of her next step.

But bold and free is what I see.

Horses and riding she adores without shame.

Loves her friends and family with abandon.

Exudes energy I barely remember having.

Her faith years beyond mine at that age. A Rock she can call steady. She clings to that, and it’s clear.

No longer afraid to be the woman He called her to be.

Takes chances, follows His call wherever it may lead.

You see, she once said to me “You’re such an incredible woman. I look up to you and hope someday to become a great mom like you are.”

But I say in return, “You’re such an incredible woman. I look up to you and hope someday to become a great woman of character and wild abandon for life, like you.”

Two women. A generation apart. I, a role model for her. She, a role model for me. Just the way it was meant to be.

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Amy

Today I am honored to share with you a guest post written by a friend from my childhood, Jason Erickson. Jason’s dad sustained a significant traumatic brain injury two years ago. Since the injury, I have been following Jason’s posts on CaringBridge, and have been continually moved by their family’s faithfulness and love for one another in the midst of such life changing trials. Before I launched the blog, I asked Jason if he would be willing to guest post about his dad. Although I originally intended him to guest post months ago, Valentine’s Day seems a perfect fit.

In this post, Jason shares the heart-warming and inspiring story about his parents – their love for one another, their love for their family, their love of an Almighty God, and the promises that remain true even in the face of a significant traumatic brain injury.  Jason so beautifully reminds us that we should not “take even one day for granted with those we love and cherish most.” 

Her words and the panicked sound of my mom’s voice will forever be etched into my mind. “Jason, come quickly, your dad is hurt really bad.” These were the words that introduced me to a life-changing chapter in the life of our family. As the helicopter made its way to the parking lot of our family-owned lumberyard to airlift my dad away, I was beginning to wonder if my life had changed forever, in the blink of an eye. What I would later find out on January 12, 2011, is that my dad had sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall while working on an overhead garage door at our business. His initial prognosis was very dim, but now, over two years later, our family has grown closer and I have witnessed first hand the covenant my parents made to each other and before God.

The story of their marriage began on a typical fall day, for most of the world it would prove to be a very ordinary day. For a young couple, this day though, would mark their beginning. The beginning of a life together, one that would have many more ups than downs, many more smiles than frowns, and one unshakable foundation. On that fall day, October 24, 1970, I was not even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes, and little did I know how much of an impact that day in history would eventually have upon my life.

When I arrived on August 12, 1974, I was completely unaware of what had just occurred. Unaware of whose gentle hands tenderly held me, unaware whose loving eyes stared into mine, and unaware of whose hand caressed my head while whispering in my ear, “I love you.” Over the next few years, my love for these two people would grow exponentially. Initially, not even knowing who they were, to being the ones I looked to for love, support and strength.

My parents would provide all I would need growing up, including a foundation of faith. I remember growing up how important it was to show and tell how much we loved each other. I remember feeling my “love tank” fill up as my dad wrapped his arms around me to give me hug. I remember the special moments Jill, Mom, and I shared on the deck eating lunches during the warm days of summer. As I grew older, I began to admire more the relationship my parents had. Throughout my dating years, I recognized their marriage as one I would like to model my own after. Granted they were human, and their marriage was not perfect, but considering all life tends to throw at us, it was a very healthy relationship.

Growing up in our home, it was always comforting to hear my parents say that they loved each other. The love they shared was more than just words, it was nurtured and followed up by actions. Actions, not in the sense of expensive gifts, but in simple gestures of kindness – my dad scrubbing the kitchen floor at night even after a day of logging in the woods, my mom leaving supper for us when she had to work evenings at the hospital, and the fun-loving sight of seeing my dad steal a kiss from my mom as they walked into a restaurant. To some this may seem irrelevant in the greater scheme of life, but to a son and daughter, it helped provide the security needed in order to form the foundation of who we are today. Our home was a home in which two children knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that their parents loved each other, loved being together, and would stay that way until one day God would call one of them home.

Our family had the blessing of being a pretty normal family, even as Jill and I grew older and had families of our own. We all lived relatively close, so we could spend time together. Jill and I had all of our grandparents still living and we were all generally quite healthy, so life was very good.

The “normalcy” of life abruptly changed on that brisk winter January day in 2011. Initially, after the surgery to stop the bleeding on his brain, I didn’t know if my dad would live through the night, and even if he did, our family would have a new “normal.”

Since that difficult day in early 2011, my mom has not missed one day, or may I say, one opportunity to be with my dad. She has been with him, by his side each day, encouraging him, spending time with him, and making the most of what time they share together. Granted, it is not what she would have chosen for this stage of their life or their marriage. But on that fall day in 1970, her covenant before God and with my dad did not have an exit clause. As they stood in that small town Minnesota church, their promise to each other was not only for the good times, the safe times, or the easy times. It was a promise made for life, and included the words for better or worse, in sickness and in health. I’m sure they never would have envisioned this present day scenario, but then in reality, on one’s wedding day, who does envision such a tragedy?

While growing up, I admired my parents and their love for each other. Since my dad’s accident though, I still not only admire their love and devotion, but I now cherish it. I have witnessed, specifically on the part of my mom, her love for my dad lived out on a daily basis. A love that at this point, is not reciprocated in a way that she would choose, but nonetheless not prohibiting her from continuing to share it with dad. Considering the fact that my dad is still in a transitional care unit, I don’t necessarily know what my dad ponders as he is in his hospital room. We are hoping to eventually move him to a rehabilitation center, but for now he is still bed ridden and on a feeding tube. One thing I know he is not concerned with however, is the dedication and devotion of my mother. Each morning, whether sunny or snowy, when he opens his eyes he sees his bride, and each night as he closes them, he has the assurance that she’ll be there tomorrow. As a wife, she understands her need to make time for herself in order to remain healthy and “charged,” but there is always time and a place in her heart for dad.

My parents’ love for each other during this difficult time did not just happen. It is a love cultivated by many years of loving on each other. Years of loving acts that continued to bring them closer to each other, and in that, formed a bond that nothing in this world can break. As much as my parents love each other, and thus demonstrate that love for each other, that is only part of their story. On that day in October 1974, the covenant that my parents made with each other, at the same time, they also made with Christ. They promised themselves to each other, and their marriage to Him.

In a world that is not always conducive to keeping one’s marriage a priority, He was and is the rock that my parents have built their life on. I recently heard someone say, “sometimes God allows you to hit rock bottom, in order for you to find out, He is that rock.” That fact somewhat summarizes the past couple years of my parents’ marriage. This life is not always going to be easy, and there will be times we may wonder “why?” My dad used to remind me that in this life we were never promised it would be a rose garden. It is in the midst of these difficult times though, that we hold to our faith in Him, and His plan, even though we sometimes have many more questions than answers. It is this simple act of trust that brings us peace, knowing that His plan will ultimately work out for good, if we continue to put our faith in Him. Work out for good, not necessarily on this side of eternity, but we will one day understand “why” it had to occur.

One day my parents will say good-bye to each other on this earth. One day they will hold hands one final time. When that day arrives, they will let go of each other, knowing that this though, is not the end of their story. For there is coming a day when they will be reunited again and their tears will be wiped away, never to return. A day when the Rock they built their life on here, will welcome them home for eternity. It will be on that day, that their story, will simply become a smaller part of His-story.

As Valentine’s Day is upon us again, may we each remember our closest loved ones. May we not take even one day for granted with those we love and cherish most. As we celebrate the day that celebrates love, I am reminded of a few verses.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these…is love.  1 Corinthians 13

Jason Erickson

For the most part, they were crazy kids. They met that first week of school in August. He says they were “trolling for guys,” she says they were exploring the campus and happened to pass by. It wasn’t until April that they started dating. She was 18, he was 21.

The girl he dated was much different than the woman he’s married to today. In her deepest moments of insecurity, she wonders if he’d still marry her today knowing she’s not nearly as “fun” as she was when they dated.

But she knows truth. For souls are bared across the years. Near 18 years of moments shared.

For they have gone down this road together. They have lived and grown up together. They have shared a life like no two before.

Vows made. Homes built. Babes born. Jobs started and jobs ended.

Money tight. Families in years of unexpected chaos and trauma.

Real time together luxury. Vacation alone near impossible with three kids.

Deepest dreams shared. Insecurities bared.

Frustrations at the end of a road. Tears no one else has seen. Stories no one else has heard.

But this love is a gift. This baring of souls is beautiful. For through these moments, through the years, there’s no replacement for two bearing life together, baring souls together. For to bare your soul is to bare your true self.

Those crazy kids knew not what they would bear, but were brave enough to bare. Are brave enough to bare.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:7

Amy

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Meet Me At This Moment for Five Minute Friday post! I spend the last hour of Thursday chatting it up with a group of authentic and inspiring Five Minute Friday bloggers on Twitter (#FiveMinuteFriday #fmfparty). One minute past midnight EST Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a single word prompt and we all write a blog post centered around that word. We write for five minutes, and five minutes only! In the wjords of Lisa, this is “unscripted. unedited. real.” You meet me at this moment in time…my thoughts and opinions, my joys and sorrows, my dilemmas and dreams. And I receive one of the greatest gifts ever…a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts without constantly editing myself. This is my life, my perspective, unfiltered.

The word of the week is BARE. 

 

His name is Shawn. Big heart, full of joy, filling tanks one by one.

The thermometer in the car read -12 degrees. My tank was near empty, approximately 30 miles displayed on my dashboard, and I never know how fully I should trust that man made gauge anyway. Groceries filled the car, and baby too, and I had questioned my decision to go out in the weather long before I realized my tank was empty.

I debated. Risk stalling in subzero weather with a baby in tow, or stop and get some gas, even though I detest this cold and don’t feel like pumping gas in it? I decided to stop. Just a bit of gas, I thought. Enough to get me home safely, without worry.

Decidedly brave enough to face the cold for a couple minutes, I stepped out, slipped my credit card in, and opened the tank. With near urgency, this stranger, Shawn, approached my vehicle. He put his gloves on like this was of most importance, like he really wanted to help. Asked if he could pump, said it’s full service. “Really,” I said?! Without reservation, but still in shock, I handed him the pump and got back in the car with the door open just a crack open to carry on conversation.

“Just a little is fine,” I said, then with a change of heart “No, why don’t you go ahead and fill it up!”

“I’m here 7:00 to 3:10, Monday through Friday,” Shawn explained about this full service, standing seemingly in comfort, pumping my gas, bundled up in layers, a hat fit for a true Minnesota man. “Even when it’s -30 below, I’m here!”

In his confident assurance and my quiet disbelief, he used that magic cleaning wand to wet and wipe my front windshield, then again in the back. The last time I did that myself, I don’t recall. A small, but true blessing to be able to see so clearly.

Our time together came to an end, and I thanked Shawn with all sincerity. I promised I’d be back and that I’d tell everyone about Shawn and this special place that offers full service in a do-it-yourself kind of world.

The funny thing was that I had been feeling a little discouraged. I set out to blog about people that inspire me, people that make a difference, people that demonstrate excellence and go above and beyond, people that aren’t afraid to shine their light in a dark world. But near seven months into this blogging journey, I had without a doubt missed opportunities because I was not courageous enough to approach, I had not seen the extravagant greatness and excellence and beauty in people I had set out to see. Unrealistically high expectations collided with my luke-warm bravery. Between the missed opportunities and the not seeing, I was ready to move beyond all this earthly nonsense and start seeing, start risking, start the way down this narrow path  already envisioned.

So as I drove away, I just knew I had to turn around. I pulled around the block and in behind Shawn where I found him filling up a beat up car. He gently tapped the side of that beat up car and sent them on their way.

Out popped my head, and I explained I just had to come back, he was such an inspiration out here in this -12 degree weather pumping gas, filling up tanks with joy. He’s an employee, and he’s been pumping gas, providing full service here for four years, he explained. I wanted to know if he really likes this job as much as it seems? “Yes,” he said, “because I get to meet all kinds of wonderful people like you!”

After a click of the camera phone and another thank you, I was on my way. The subzero temperature still read on my dashboard, but my tank was full, and I was a little more courageous than the time before. And there was Shawn, with his warm smile, light radiating, joy overflowing, in the lot of that gas station, waiting to fill another tank.

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  1 Chronicles 29:17

Amy

  1. Tom Baunsgard says:

    That was great… Thanks for sharing Shawn with us all!

  2. Dolly Lee says:

    What a great way to highlight Shawn’s help to you…I felt the brr cold as I read your post…and I bet you made his day, Amy…lovely 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Oh thank you so much Dolly. 🙂 It was ridiculously cold that day, but Shawn brought a ray of light that made the cold nearly disappear!

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