Please pray for Tom

Last week I told you that my goal was going to be looking for new ways to enjoy life.  I wore my silly socks, I made faces at a baby, I did the jump around at the Badger football game.  I bought presents for a friend, I helped plan a first birthday party and I sat in my garden.  I sang along to my IPod while I volunteered at American Cancer Society. I spent the week not worrying about what others might think of me.  And, I enjoyed it.

It was not a selfish week, not a week of my joy at the expense of others (although anyone who had to hear me sing might argue with that!).  I did things that I enjoy, and shared that joy with others around me.  It was all just simple ways to enjoy the world around me.  I needed it.  Deep in my heart there is sadness.

A year ago I wrote about Jack:
amylwestdavidson.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/my-friend-jack/

A couple weeks ago I learned that Jack’s God-father, who is also a friend of our family, was diagnosed with a terrible disease that has no cure. Today we got to visit them at an open house. It was great to see them, but emotionally draining to see what is happening to the mind of a man who is so strong and eloquent. We first met him when he wrote an article about Ryan nearly 10 years ago and a final article after Ryan passed away:

http://host.madison.com/news/fight-on-the-tenacity-of-ryan-davidson-usc-football-s/article_ec8e08cd-3df6-574e-aae2-33bd1f23a26f.html

So tomorrow I will continue to look for and share simple joy in life.  I will appreciate each and every day that I wake up, in honor of those who would simply wish for one more day. I hope that you find joy this week too.

Dear God,
This world is full of human pain and suffering.  We all have struggles and we all have pain.  Each day we are faced with things that try to beat us down. Thank you for caring for us, for loving us and for giving us a hope of the joy we will find at your side in your kingdom.  Please help Tom and his family find peace.  Help his doctors and nurses to ease his suffering. Show us all how to help him.
Amen

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What makes us different? What makes us alike?

Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth.

Yesterday I spent the day at The Taste of Madison, in downtown, around of the capital square.  Me and over 100,000 other people.  We all were herded around the block, drinking beer and wine, and eating much more food than any individual should.  We got to try food from different restaurants all around town. Lots of great food.  And music from different local groups.

As we were sitting on the grass, eating and drinking, and listening to one of the groups, I was also doing a lot of people watching.  I love seeing the different people – young and old, big and small, blondes, brunettes and red heads.  It is remarkable to me that there are so many people in the world and we are all different – strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows, goals, aspirations and personalities.  I just sat there watching and appreciating all the variety that paraded past me.

While we sat there, I watched a little boy in the family sitting in front of us on the lawn.  He was about 2 years old and spent most of the time just running in circles.  Smiling, laughing, enjoying the sun and running in circles for the pure joy of running.  Simply running for the joy of running.   More energy in that little package than I feel like I have ever had.  I am sure that I enjoyed life like that when I was 2, I am sure most of us did.

Somewhere along the line, we all start taking ourselves too seriously and forget how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  We are forced to worry about the world around us and are expected to “grow up”.   And when we grow up, we are expected to stop running in circles for no reason.  We are expected to not let everyone see us find pure joy in those things as simple as the sun.

So tomorrow I am going to look for the simple joys in life.  I am going to express that joy without worrying about what others think.  I won’t be running in circles, but I will find reasons to smile, laugh and enjoy the day.

Dear God,
Thank you for creating us each to be unique.  Thank you for giving us things to smile about and laugh about, the ability to laugh and smile, and so many wonderful people to share those feelings with.
Amen

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Independence Day

I love watching fireworks. I think they are so beautiful and I’m amazed by the variety. However, watching them on July 4th is bittersweet for me.

If you have ever heard me tell our families cancer story, it begins on July 4th, 1999 (15 years ago tonight). We lived just outside Washington DC, and watched the fireworks display at the capital. It was an incredible experience. Just a few days later we were told that Ryan had cancer. That night was the final story in that chapter of our lives. July 8th we started the next chapter and life has been different ever since.

As I’ve said a million times, I miss Ryan more than I can explain. Nearly everything reminds me of him, and tonight was no exception.

Dear God,
All across the country Americans are celebrating our independence. We are remembering how lucky we are to have so much freedom. As we celebrate, help us to remember and pray for those who aren’t as fortunate, who live in fear of their government. May we all be able to enjoy freedom someday.
Thank you for all you give us. Thank you for my family and friends. And thank you for the memories I have of those I’ve lost.
Amen

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The gift of knowledge.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Confucius

I am amazed that the older I get, the less I seem to know. When I was younger I thought I was a pretty intelligent person. Time has proven me wrong. The more I try to learn, the more I realize that I know very little. Does everyone feel that way?

I have been wanting to (re)learn Spanish.  I took some classes in high school, but have of course forgotten most of it.  Now I think that it would good to know how to at least be able to converse in the language.  More people on this planet speak Spanish than English.  I have tried to find a way to learn it again, but my middle-aged brain doesn’t seem to want to comprehend a new language.  Some days I have trouble with my first language.

To have another language is to possess a second soul.Charlemagne

So my mid-year resolution is to learn more Spanish.  I am going to continue to work on improving myself and using more of the brain that God blessed me with.  I challenge you to spend this summer improving yourself.

Dear God,
Thank you for blessing us with such the incredible ability to continue improving ourselves throughout our lives.  Help us to use that gift to make the world a better place.
Amen

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A prayer for the children

This week, Kirby and I were on vacation. Actually, I was on vacation at a resort where Kirby was attending a board meeting and convention. Early in the week I got a cold and by our trip home today, I was miserable. I was so angry about my week being disrupted by ANOTHER cold. Seems like every time we go somewhere, I get sick. I know, poor me.

Listening to the radio shortly after we got in the car this morning, we heard another story about a small child that lost his life in a hot car. All day my heart has been breaking for another family that lost a future, another family that has to grieve for a life that ended too soon, another family that will never be the same. Suddenly, my cold wasn’t such a big deal. Suddenly, wining about a disrupted vacation felt foolish.

We are living in a society where we can start our car from inside our house. We can use our phone to find a route to anywhere in the world. Nearly everything in our world can be controlled by pushing some button. And yet, since 1998, 619 kids have died from heatstroke after being left in closed cars. There have been 619 families that have had to deal with a death that should have been avoidable. My heart is broken.

We need to find a way to stop it from happening again. There is an app for everything else, why can’t there be an app to remind parents to check the car seat? Maybe an alarm in the car that sounds if there is weight in the car seat after the car is shut off? Or even something as simple as putting a stuffed animal in the car seat that they move to the front seat when they strap their child in. Maybe something different in the front seat will help them to remember the precious cargo sleeping in the back.

Dear God,
Please help us to save any children from suffering an unnecessary death. Please be with those families who have suffered through that loss. And please give a hug to those children who are with you.
Amen

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

If you know me, you know that I often have my camera with me.  I have BOXES of pictures of my kids from the days before digital.  I have thousands of digital pictures on an exterior drive.  I love to take pictures of family, friends, vacation spots and of course all my flowers.  The sad thing is, I don’t like having picture of myself.  Today I read this blog post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/teresa-s-porter/so-youre-feeling-too-fat-to-be-photographed_b_4351360.html

I can’t believe how this spoke to me.  I know that I will never be younger than I am today, and I think about how I looked 10 years ago when I didn’t think I look good enough for pictures.  Now I am ten years older, a few pounds heavier and quite a bit grayer.  Will I someday look back at today and wish I looked this young?  Will Mallory have enough pictures of me to share with her kids?  What am I waiting for?

So this summer, I won’t hide from the camera.  When we travel, I will make sure I am in the pictures too.  I hope you do the same.

Dear God,
I am sorry that I do not appreciate the shell that you gave me for this life.  I don’t always like what I see, but I don’t work to change the view.  Help me to be more thankful for what I have.
Amen

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Graduation

(This was my graduation post from last year.  I have had an emotional evening, so I just thought I would repost. )

Tonight was high school graduation here in Sun Prairie. For those of you not from around here, we are a small town with only one high school. So graduation is a big deal. Everyone in town knows someone graduating. You need a ticket to get into the ceremony and its a hard ticket to get. It’s a big deal, and it should be. Graduation is the just the beginning though, the start of something new.

This weekend families all over town are celebrating the start of summer. School is out. Some of the kids are just on a break, and others have finished their formal education. Some will continue their education, some will go straight to jobs, and some are still unsure. But for right now, for today, they are celebrating the end of high school. They are moving on. They are growing up.

Did you know that we only use a small percentage of our brain? God could have made us already equipped with all the knowledge we might ever need for life. But instead of creating us perfect, he created us with the ability to learn and the curiosity needed to learn. We want to learn and we need others to teach us.

Life is all about learning.

So today, dear God, I pray for our high school graduates. The “next” generation. This group of individuals that will someday lead our businesses, our communities and our country. I pray for their wisdom, strength and integrity. I pray that they know you, and lean on you in all they do.

Amen

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