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That Time We Tore Down The Fence

                                                                             

Life’s taken some turns for us these past six months as we answered a stirring in our hearts to change things up a bit. Some of it so quickly its taken a sec to process the changes. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Processing. We sold our little house in Austin. The one with the big oak tree out front and the wooden tree swing. The one with our handprints in the concrete pad out back where the kids and neighbors played basketball as I watched out my kitchen window. The one where we raised toddlers and newborns and where we cared for my dying mom. My throat is closing and eyes welling up as I think about the people we gathered around our table for shredded pork tacos and special sauce, cheese trays and wine, coffee and Quiche, pizza and ranch dressing, or just plain old cereal or leftovers. Truth is the food was just the invitation to the more important thing. Time.

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The things I will always miss the most about that little spot in the world are our neighbors. We had several amazing ones on our little block but we go furthest back with the ones directly to our right as you walked out the front door. We could never get grass to grow in that area because of all the little feet making a quick turn off the front porch.

To Kristin, Gaylen. Freddie, Camden, and Cooper. To your various exchange students, various family members, various tenants that lived in your bungalow out back, various dogs, cats, hermit crabs and strays.

Thank You.

Thank you for teaching us more about love than just about any humans we have ever met. Thank you for being game to cut a hole in our fence with wire cutters so the little kids could easily go back and forth. The fence we eventually took down all together. Thank you for not thinking it odd for me to be scavenging your back yard at 6:45 a.m. in my bathrobe on a school morning looking for misplaced shoes. Thank you for going in with us on those picnic tables we put under the tall front yard Sycamore trees where we so often combined forces to come up with complete meals. The tables Kristin strung cafe lights above as it basically became our very own real life Pinterest set up.

Thank you, Kristin, for bathing my kids, doctoring their cuts, and doing things no neighbor should have to do, Gaylen, as you hear the singing words of a 4 year old saying “I’m doooone….” coming from YOUR bathroom as you walk in from work. Thank you for sitting by my mom’s bedside as she was sick. Thank you for sneaking in to our house and wrapping our doors with wrapping paper and switching labels on our canned foods. For months I’d think I was opening tomatoes and it would end up being peaches. (Then I would just sneak into your house and borrow a can of tomatoes.) Thank you teaching me how to fold crepes, how to use a table saw, how to use a smoker, and how to use those weird claw things that shred meat. (Great Christmas present for someone who is likely to shred meat) Thank you for sharing cups of coffee, bottles of wine, and various groceries we were out of. (most usually tomatoes, milk, eggs, or cumin powder)

The thank you’s are honestly endless and the sadness I feel as that season has come to an end reminds me of a quote that comforted me when we lost our mom. “That which brings you much sorrow, does so because it once brought you much joy.” Your family was (and continues to be) joy personified to us.

I’m so glad we tore down that fence down together years ago and that walls have been coming down slowly ever since allowing us to be more vulnerable, more present, less guarded, less resistant, more whole, and more at peace. The tearing down of walls that let the light in to our stories of brokenness and let healing begin. I’m still a work in progress.

At the moment, I’m scouting out a place for a new long row of picnic tables in the front yard our new home in the world. (This time under tall Pine trees.) A place where we can put in practice what you all  taught us. How tables really do bring people together.

Thank you for being the kind of neighbors that became family. I think at one point we decided the Paulson’s + the Dozier’s could equal the Paulzier’s? We are better because of you.

With great love from Colorado,

Cristi, Ben, Adelyn, Gunner, Creede, & South (Paulzier)

Trying to bring into play all I learned from the great family of Greenbay Packers we used to live next to. The ones who sometimes channelled their inner Kenny G and played the saxophone on their back porch, or the ones who wore cowboy boots with swimsuits, or the one’s who had parties with 50 plus foreign students from China (who loved to zip line) and taught them how to make s’mores. The ones who were ALWAYS up for an adventure and who set out on a big one this year living missionally out at Community First Village in Austin. Apple dumplings and cheese curds are now forever a part of my vocabulary and I like it.

Here is what I don’t like sometimes and often resist. Change. Kids starting high school is dumb. Kids graduating high school is dumb. Moving is dumb. But those sarcastic dumb changes comes with the territory of growth. And growth can be smart. And high school kids and college kids are funny. And they can drive themselves places and wash their own clothes. And moving? Moving makes you clean out your attic. Not gonna lie, that felt really good. You don’t even have to move to do it.

It’s been emotionally hard sometimes. And that has been ok.

To grieve the end of anything is ok and usually necessary. You can stuff it but the need to grieve will keep surfacing. So do that part. And then, with time, it will become what you make it. It will become how you choose to see it. How you honor the memory of it and how you choose to let it grow you.

Hoping we can all grow and change and be thankful in the process.

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” 

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Incourage.me: Arms Up

It’s fun to have an article post this morning on incourage.me.  I knew the publishing date weeks ago, it still snuck up on me today and feels like such a gift as we are remembering this time last year. Well now the tears are coming just typing this intro as I am missing this woman. Our mom and our friend and our phone call on the hard days and on the good. Here is a little snippet, then please click on the link to continue reading….20151030-Dozier-Isolation

It’s been one year since that beautiful October morning. My house looked like the aftermath of a wild tailgate party. There was an enormous RV in my driveway with the awning drawn out, tables and chairs and empty cups scattered around. A barbeque pit stood in my front yard while my porch held coolers and a huge white banner.

It was my 38th birthday, but more notably than that, it was the first morning I had woken up after losing my mom. This hadn’t been a party. This had been hospice care.

The hospital cot in my bedroom that held all 90 pounds of my sweet, fragile mother and was now empty. The cancer had been too aggressive, her body too tired, too weak to sustain more treatments, and she was sent home to be surrounded by family.

We were there beside her as she had taken her last breath. In tears, I fumbled around determined to quickly unhook her from the tubes administering medicines to keep her comfortable. After all, she wasn’t in pain anymore………..

Please click here to continue to read, comment, and share…..Thanks so much.

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Huddled Over Grace

I sat on the floor of the shower holding a bottle of white, liquid soap. My head was tilted up as streams of warm water rained down my face washing away fresh tears. The cries were fewer and farther between, but they still came at times. Grief would come in waves they told me, and it has.

Three months earlier, we had lost our mom to cancer and, that day, I was headed back to her house to face the cabinets, drawers, and closets, not just of her things, but of her memory and of my memories with her. I didn’t want to go but, more truthfully than that, I didn’t want her to be gone anymore.soap1 I looked down at the nearly empty bottle of soap in my hand. It had been part of a present from our mom to my sister, Amy, and I. A simple, soap and lotion, gift set in the midst of the complicated twists and turns of cancer life. A little gift labeled and branded Pure Grace.Hug

I remember standing there the day she gave it to us hugging in my kitchen, the three of us arms intertwined, heads touching, staring at our shoes…huddling over that simple gift of soap, lotion, and grace. Unspoken words rumbled through our minds as we asked someone to take a picture, not because this was the first time we had ever huddled that way, but because current circumstances and possibilities gnawed within us.  We wanted to capture how we loved each other.

Not long after that day, we were back in my home again. This time a hospital bed was set up in my bedroom for our mom, and my house had become a revolving door of nurses and friends and family from all over stopping by each day to bring food, or flowers, or letters, or candles, or paper goods, or drinks, or to pick up laundry, or kids, or just to stay and visit….or to say goodbye. This was hospice care. This was the unwanted end we had been fighting against, however, a beautiful, loving end if there had to be one.

Amy and I spent most the time on either side of our mom, our arms sometimes intertwined, our heads sometimes touching hers, huddling over the gift of grace in our mother and clinging to the gift of grace in our God. The grace that gave us the courage to whisper in her ear, “It’s ok to go home.”

And so I sat on the floor of the shower gripping that bottle of white liquid soap, that now nearly empty bottle of Pure Grace, and it registered, gratefully, that true grace is never empty.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

And here I was sad, and weak, and in need of much grace…but not the kind that comes in a bottle because, at the end of the day, we all know that’s just soap. But true grace. The kind that helps you face loss with hope, the kind that helps you choose forgiveness, thankfulness, and joy. The kind of grace that gets you up off the floor of the shower and is never almost empty because it never runs out.

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The day I sent Amy this post to preview, she sent me a picture of the Giving Key she happened to be wearing that day….Sometimes our lives work like that….

His grace, thankfully, never runs out and with such grace, an end is transformed to a beginning.

Choose grace,

Cristi

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