Sunday, June 6, 2021

Thanks, a New Puppy, Graduation, and an Update on Email Subscriptions

So let's start with the email subscription issue. Feedburner goes defunct next week, so if you receive this blog in your email, you will no longer receive it after Feedburner shuts operations. I am researching other options and will post as soon as I do implement one of them. You will be able to re-subscribe on the new platform if you wish. 

Until then, you are invited to bookmark this blog and check in periodically. I hope to post more frequently in the coming weeks as my stamping time is, indeed, getting longer during the summer.

Now, for the new puppy. Putting Daisy to sleep was so very, very hard, and we are all still grieving that loss. She was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, so very special. Cooper became very sad, too, and we called his breeder to see if she would put us on the list for her next litter. She did better than that: she offered us a puppy she had planned on keeping for herself, a puppy who was almost old enough to go to her forever home. We named this puppy Lily.

In addition to this wonderful new puppy adventure, our son Jack graduated from high school. From riding the "special" bus to tooting his horn and heading to community college in the fall. I'm so proud of this young man!

The Springboro High School Band Program offers a scholarship every year in memory of Kyle Chowen, a former student who loved the band with his whole heart, came early, stayed late, volunteered for everything. Kyle passed away far too young, and the scholarship named after him went to Jack this year because Jack loves the band with his whole heart, too. 

This momma's heart was full. So very full. 

And now for the thanks. Thank you all for reading this little blog, for all your cards and emails and comments of support and love, especially in the past month, and for loving this hobby so much. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Grief and Balm

My husband asked me to post this from Simplicity to Questioning. Here you go.

 Author Dean Koontz wrote about his grief after his golden retriever Trixie died. One day, he and his wife were walking and saw a perfect golden butterfly flying by. That butterfly sighting left them feeling at peace, as if the butterfly carried a message to them that Trixie was fine and they would be, too. 

When our golden retriever Hoover died, we told him to send us a golden butterfly, and he sent us Daisy. She was our golden butterfly for 11 years. 

In the week and a half she's been gone, the longest I've made it without crying is 24 hours. She's been by far the hardest of our dogs to grieve for. Cooper is grieving, too. After the first few days, he became mopey and sad. 

Friends of my son sent us this message:

We heard that you had lost your precious Daisy and wanted you to know that we are very sad for your loss. Many times the loss of a pet is the hardest of all as we know that they always expect their humans to make it all better and usually we can...until we cannot. Our final takeaway from them after all of their years of giving us their absolute all every minute of their short lives is that we were always in their best place to possibly be when they were with us. We were their everything and the most excellent life we lived with them is all they wanted. Their true Heaven was here on earth with us. Now, go get a puppy!

We are taking their advice. Meet our new golden butterfly.

My husband wanted a new puppy ASAP, and I contacted Cooper's breeder. She informed me that a female became available from a litter that's ready to go to their new homes this weekend. She's cuddly, sweet, and not an alpha pup. 

Miss Lilac (so-called for the color of ribbon she wears to distinguish her from her littermates) is coming to live with us the weekend after next. (This weekend is Jack's high school puppy should have to deal with that chaos!) 

Neither George nor I can picture ourselves yelling "Lilac!!!" to call her inside, so the short list of possible names includes Clover, Lily, and Magnolia. Lily is the frontrunner, simply because it's close to Lilac and might cause her less confusion. I prefer Clover because it has "love" in the middle, and George likes Magnolia because we can call her Maggie for everyday and Magnolia (with a southern accent) when we're mad at her.

It's hard right now to imagine EVER being mad at that sweet face, but after she widdles on my shoes and chews a pillow to pieces, we just might raise our voices. 

A new dog never, ever replaces a dog in our hearts. The gaping hole left by Daisy will take a very long time to heal. But little Clover/Lily/Maggie will wiggle her way into our hearts and lives in her own uniquely golden way. 

Grief is love with nowhere to go, and I think Daisy, who was the embodiment of fur-covered love, will appreciate us pouring the love she can't receive right now into this new puppy. 

Cooper will have a playmate again. 

And Daisy will wait for us like the good dog she was, is, and forever will be. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and most of all love,


Friday, March 27, 2020

Our Viral Grief

Often, people think of grief only in terms of loss through death, but we grieve—often very deeply—other types of loss. In the face of pandemic, we have much to grieve from stay-at-home orders and social distancing. We grieve missed hugs, financial losses, and the loss of physical community for worship, work, and school. We grieve lost vacations, sporting events, graduations, weddings, and funerals. 

We want to do the right thing—flatten the curve for everyone—but the losses hurt. How can we process all this hurt and deal with this new, viral grief?

Recognize your feelings. Grief can stir up all sorts of uncomfortable feelings that need to be acknowledged. Feelings are neither good nor bad…they just are. We can’t control what we feel, but we can control how we respond. The first step in responding well to our feelings is to recognize them. 

Accept your feelings. For instance, Christians sometimes think it’s a sin to be angry at God and therefore have a hard time accepting that feeling. The good news is that God’s not afraid of our anger. God’s love in infinite. God can handle our anger and every other feeling our grief might conjure up.  

Express your feelings. Cry. Punch a pillow. Keep a journal. Pray.

Trust that feelings are unique to each of us. People might have the same source of grief but very different feelings about it. Trust that everyone’s doing their best with their feelings…even you! Treat others’ feelings the way you want them to treat yours, even if you might not understand them.

Share your feelings with someone you trust. Often, the most healing part of working through grief is putting the words out there; feelings often lose power in the open air. Talk with someone who listens without judgment, without trying to “fix” the feelings, and without telling you what you “should” do. (And remember to be a good listener when others share their feelings with you!)

C.S. Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” Indeed, we now see in our response to this pandemic just how closely related fear and grief are. God is with us as we wash our hands and struggle with this new—and temporary—normal. God is with us through this uncertainty, fear, and grief. God gave us feelings; let us work through them together. 

This is a slightly edited article I wrote for our church newsletter, and it comes out of my experience as a Stephen Minister and Leader. If you want more information, please email me through the blog. Blessings and peace to everyone. ~Susan

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Lenten Fast

I found this on Facebook and simply must share. It captures how I feel about Lent and how we might respond to Lent not by taking away something but by adding holy practices to our lives and thus giving more time to God.

If you are a Christian, what are your thoughts on and practices for Lent? If you're not a Christian, do you have any questions about Lent (the time leading up to Easter)? 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Good Words to Ponder #2


What strikes me most about these good words to ponder? How few people we can talk to for this purpose. First, the person must be trustworthy and not a gossip. Second, he or she has to know how to listen simply, without judging or troubleshooting to fix the problem or turning the talk back to themselves.

Who listens simply for you when you need it? Do you listen simply for others when they need it? How could you be a better listener?

Words to ponder.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Wisdom: Mudita

This post is the first in an ongoing series of nuggets of knowledge and wisdom I mine in books. These little nuggets will focus on kindness, peace, joy, mercy, love, compassion, mindfulness, and personal growth. No doubt this wisdom from books will be quite eclectic (as is my reading list!), but each post will, I hope, give you food for thought...and perhaps ideas for your own reading list.  

About five years ago, I read The Universe in a Single Atom by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and was fascinated by the depth and breadth of the openness this man promotes both through his actions and his words.


We need more of that.

So when I saw The Book of Joy at my local Barnes & Noble, with its face-to-face picture of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I bought it and immediately dove in to page after page of wisdom and inspiration from two big hearts and open minds. The book documents a week-long meeting of these two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and faith leaders as they discuss the subject of joy in a harsh and difficult world.

As you can see, I had to start marking passages to go back to, to reflect on, to remember, but now, a year later, I'm simply re-reading the whole thing.

The nugget of inspiration I want to explore from The Book of Joy today is the word mudita. Buddhists define mudita as the joy that comes from someone else's joy. It's the opposite of schadenfreude, which is German for the pleasure that comes from someone else's suffering.

Reading the definition of mudita in The Book of Joy made me think of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts(Don't you love it when books cross-pollinate in your mind?) Back in 2011, I came across Voskamp's book about gratitude and immediately began my own gratitude journal. I read blogs and other books on gratitude, wrote numerous posts about gratitude, and cultivated gratitude as a habit of mind.

This intentional study stuck and is one of the most transformative habits I've ever instilled in myself.

Mudita gave a name to a powerful side-effect of practicing gratitude. I would frequently find myself, in the midst of stress or worry or conflict, smiling. At first, I was a bit confused that my joy couldn't be suppressed by whatever was bothering me, but I quickly realized that practicing gratitude had rewired my thoughts.

Often, when negative thoughts about my own situation seemed to grow big, random thoughts of gratitude welled up and pushed the negative thoughts into a more realistic perspective...and these moments of gratitude in my own pain were almost always thoughts of someone else's blessing.

Mudita. Mudita for my friend whose leadership has turned around a faltering adult literacy program and has caused ripples of joy for so many people. Mudita for a first-time grandmother who is beaming with joy. Mudita for a friend with a new job. Mudita for my son and my niece who got into their first choices for college. Mudita for another niece who is getting married. Mudita for travel photos of other people's fabulous vacations on Facebook.

You can find mudita everywhere.

But you have to be open to it, cultivate it, let it well up inside of you, and overflow in celebration with another human being. 

The result: joy.

Questions for Thought
What do you think of the idea of mudita? Have you experienced mudita recently? If so, please share your experience in the comments. How might you cultivate mudita in yourself and encourage it in others?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Good Words to Ponder #1


It's easy to be seduced into being someone other than yourself. Family, friends, bosses, teachers...all the people we encounter may want you to be someone that's convenient for them, and some of them, with either good or bad intent, may be very good at manipulating you into being that person.

This week, ponder how you are you. What can only you do? Are you doing it? Why or why not? Pick one thing you love about you and let it flow!