AH, THE SERENDIPITY OF LIFE

img_0061Serendipity is defined by the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as meaning the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. If you google it, you might find @WHATIS.COM, the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking. At Wordful.com, it says the moments in life you never expect to happen but are glad that they did. Sometimes it comes down to perfect timing, total coincidence or just plain good luck. In Bedside Blessings by Charles R.Swindoll, he writes, “Serendipity occurs when something beautiful breaks into the monotonous and mundane.” He goes on to say that when we lose our capacity for “surprisability” and spontaneity, we settle into life’s rut.
As a young adult, I thought is was cool to say “Ah, the serendipity of life.” I had no clue as to what that meant but I thought sure it made me sound intelligent. (or maybe stupid to those who knew what the real meaning was.) I am a dreamer as well as an optimist and to my cool young adult mind, I thought it meant somewhere between having the joy of life all mixed up into a fairy tale. Now that I am well beyond those young adult years, I wonder what in the dickens was I thinking…or not thinking to be sure. As I looked up the word, serendipity, that somehow had popped back into my eighty-three year old brain, I began to think back on my serendipitous life. There were so many valuable and agreeable things in it that I had not sought for and some that I had and they all began to rattle around in my addled old brain and began to fall out like it was a sieve. My brain had soaked it up like a sponge when I was young and now, slowly but surely, it was beginning to seep out. 
When I was a small girl, I loved to play with paper dolls and baby dolls. It was my favorite past-time. Once I had a Queen Elizabeth doll that I adored, but I named her Princess Annie. I would pretend that she was me. I always dreamed that a tall dark and handsome knight would come sweep me off my feet and I would ride off on his beautiful white stallion into the sunset and we would live happily ever after in the big beautiful castle. So it came as no surprise that my tall dark and handsome knight came in the form of a Citadel cadet named Jack. Well, he wore a uniform and he was tall and extremely good-looking. He indeed did sweep me off my feet and we would ride off in the sunset and live happily ever after. The only difference was that he had a 1936 Plymouth that he named The Black Streak, that more often that not had no brakes, not a beautiful white horse. Our first castle was a basement apartment in Arlandria, Virginia (a little town located between Alexandria and Arlington). We loved this tiny little apartment which was our first home, our castle. I recall how he grunted and groaned as he carried my 103 pound self across the threshold. Mind you, he lifted weights that weighed 200 pounds but he thought it was funny to make such weird sounds.
Happiness was always close by and laughter could always be heard ringing through the echoes of our castle walls. We had very little money, but we had something so much better, love. Each castle got better as our marriage grew as did our love and our pocketbooks.
Our love became overwhelming at the birth of our first child. We were thrilled when I became pregnant but we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams the love that we would share for this beautiful little baby girl. It was magical. When our second child came along, I was not sure we could love him as much..how could this be possible? But it was. God seems to give us more room in our hearts than we can possibly know. It was true when our third child came along too. These beautiful babies were our treasures…our serendipity of life…valuable things not sought after…their love for us and our love for them.
We watched as these children grew into strong independent adults under our guidance. We would like to take credit for it, but I know that a higher power was looking over these children as they grew and Jack & I were just the gate keepers. We could not have possibly imagined when we met at ages eighteen and twenty that life was to give us so much, that it would be so serendipitous.
We had some hard times too, but it was the magic of our love for each other and our love for God that would help us work through these times. It’s funny, but I can’t recall what any disagreement that we had  was about. We made a point of settling our differences before we went to bed. (the best piece of advice that my Momma ever gave me.)
The years went by so quickly and we watched as our children learned to walk and talk, sing and play.  We watched as they went to kindergarten, elementary school, high school, college and got married and had children of their own. Grandchildren…another agreeable thing that we found but had not sought or looked for…a serendipitous event for sure. An event that would bring us great pleasure seven times over. Each child would bring his/her own personality into our life, their own laughter, their own dreams and we were privileged to watch them grow as our love would grow for them.  Our hearts would expand to limits we did not know could exist.
When Jack died after fifty-two years of marriage, I felt as if I had no dreams left. My tall, dark and handsome knight had left the castle and had taken my love and my dreams with him. I was no longer a dreamer as I thought my dream was over but I did remain an Optimist. I had been given by God enough serendipity to last a life time, Jack’s life time not mine. God began to show me that once He had made you a dreamer, you would always be one. He began to put serendipitous thoughts into my well used old brain and they began to leak out as memories. I also began to make new memories with my children and grandchildren and now my great-grandchildren. My Great-grandson, Kaiden, said to me once. “You know when you are young, your brain is like a sponge, but when you get old, there’s too much knowledge up there, it gets full, so it begins to leak out to make room for more stuff.” I believe this smart little nine-year old boy is right on the money. I look at him and I see an optimistic dreamer who is also a tall, dark and handsome knight who will one day be captured by his princess. I am sure he will experience the serendipity of life.
“Ah, the serendipity of life”….it may sound foolish to you, but for me, it had been a life filled with valuable or agreeable things that were not sought after but turned the mundane and monotonous into laughter and joy. I was richly blessed by God. I continue to experience my dream. Ah, the serendipity of life.

GRATITUDE COMES FROM LOVING

IMG_0197.2012-07-31_004936“There is a light in the world, a healing spirit, more powerful than any darkness we may encounter.”  Mother Teresa

Today is another day in the life of Annie…it will be a great day or a terrible day, according to how she awakens and how she chooses for that day to be. It had been eleven years ago to the day that she had lost the love of her life, her soul mate, her destiny, her partner and her best friend. She began to wonder where the years had gone.  She thought about how much her life had changed since that unforgettable day.
Those years began slowly, mainly because she could not control her emotions nor did she even try. She wanted to go away and hide from the world, but her children and friends wouldn’t allow her to do that. Her despair filled her heart with pain and her brain with nothingness. As time passed, memories would seep through and remind her that she was still alive.  During those moments, she reminded herself that he had died. He had slipped away from her on that beautiful day in November, unexpectedly without notice.  God had called him home. Although it was not on Annie’s time schedule nor on his she doubted, he went to be with his Savior, his God, his Redeemer. At first, she was in shock. Her body made the motions, but her mind was dull and void of thoughts. It was like a tornado swirling around her and she was caught up in it and couldn’t get out.
Months went by, then years. Annie learned to cope with the pain and the sadness.The tornado would be down graded as  the years passed but some of it still twirled around her but in a more orderly fashion.   She prayed a lot and asked God for His help. He was the only one who was keeping her alive, functioning. She pleaded for His help and He delivered. She found that though helping others, it began to help her heal. She felt like the light that had gone from her eyes  that had become dull was slowly returning. Life would never be the same, but it began to be good again. She heard herself laughing and talking like she always had. Her always half full glass that had become half empty slowly began to fill up again. She found joy in new ways even though she never stopped missing him. She talked to him every day and  thoughts of him swept through her mind. She could hear him laugh and she could imagine what he would say in different situations.  She knew him so well as if he was the other part of her being.  She learned that you could not erase fifty-four years of memories in one swoop. They would last her a life time, her life time. Annie was happy but it was a different type of happiness from what she had shared with her husband, Jack. Maybe it would be better to say that she was content. One thing she knew was that she was more in tune with her Lord than she had ever been. He had brought her through her dark days and led her through the Valley of the shadow of death. Without Him, she would still be struggling. She yearned for his voice just as a deer pants for water.  He was her rock, her strength, her God and she would praise His name forever and ever. Through Him, all things are possible. Sometimes it takes a tragedy for one to learn this lesson. Some people never learn it because they don’t allow our Lord to do His work.  She knew that God is good.  He is good all the time.  She knew that he had saved her from a life of despair.  All praise and glory is His!  Annie was filled with gratitude that she was one of the people who had learned this lesson.