August 31, 2011

I Love You

I'm sorry. I'm just not "feelin' it" this week. You get another repost today.

I Love You
Jimmy turned 12 just a few days before I made my entrance into the world. He was a wonderful big brother. Patient, sweet, quiet, gentle, a good listener. I felt safe with him. So unconditionally accepted. He would cheerfully give up other things to stay home and babysit his little sister.

I have very few concrete memories of him. I know he had curly hair and I think he had green eyes. He wasn't a very big person, at least on the outside. His heart and mind were of the deep and pondering sort. He loved to read and think and reflect. Even as a small girl those qualities made Jimmy huge to me.

My parents divorced when I was 7. I lost a lot of things when that happened. Our "family" was gone. Our traditions. Our closeness. Our laughter....
My dad remarried and started a new family.
In some ways my mom was gone too. She seemed to crawl inside herself to find safety.
We moved to Colorado shortly after The Divorce. So, there went my home, my friends, my school, the familiar neighborhood.
I was a "freak", (not the hippy-kind, just strange) when we settled out west. I was the only child whose parents were divorced. I actually had things called "half-brothers" and "step-brothers". I was the first one around to be a latch-key child. The kids in school had no clue what to do with me.

For a brief time, around this time, (1970's) Jimmy was in the navy. When it was over, he joined the ranks of lost people, searching for hope and purpose in LSD, marijuana and I-don't-know-what-all-else because I was thankfully too young to follow that trail.

Sometimes Jimmy would show up for a visit. Every time he came he would bring me a present. One time he brought a chess set and then sat with me every evening trying to teach me how to play. During another visit he brought a huge handful of plastic bead necklaces he'd picked up at a mardi gras parade in New Orleans. Once he arrived with a beautiful jewelry box that made me feel grown-up and pretty.
I think the gift I really liked, more than all the others, was a book called The Phantom Tollbooth.

I still remember the moment he gave it to me. He had just arrived home and as he walked in the door he grinned and said, "Hey Jude! Here. I brought you a book. Where's Ma?" And that was that. It was said very casually, but the look and the book said, "I love you. There's more to life than what you're experiencing right now. Some of it is in the world of books..." That story, and the fact that Jimmy gave it to me, somehow made me feel like "Life does go on. It will be OK."

I was such a mess at the time. My heart was full of confusion, anger, bitterness, loneliness, and rejection. Jimmy didn't know Jesus. He was confused, lonely and angry too. But he never projected those things onto me. He loved me unconditionally and like I said before, I felt safe with him. I was not a "freak" to Jimmy. I was his little sister and he accepted me just as I was.

Jimmy came for one of his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants visits when I was 12. He stayed with my mom and me for a week or two and then left. I don't remember saying goodbye. I don't remember our final hug or watching him ride off on his Harley. I just remember a few months later the phone rang. The police in Florida were calling my mom to tell her Jimmy was dead. He'd been in an accident with a drunk driver.

That moment obviously changed my life once again. I learned that not only do people divorce, move away, run away, hide inside themselves or start new lives...sometimes they just Go Away and Never. Come. Back.

For years and years I wished I could remember my final words to Jimmy. Did I ever thank him for the gifts He'd brought me? The little presents that had told me his heart had carried his little sister with him wherever he'd gone? Did he know how much I adored him? Did he die knowing I felt safe when he was with me? As he'd walked out the door that final time, had I shouted, " I love you Jimmy!"?

I have no idea whether my brother came to know and love Jesus before he died. My heart hurts whenever I think about it. Just because he was a "good" person, and a wonderful big brother does not mean his salvation was secure.

One thing I do know is that I might have a different perspective on scripture than others do. Is it any wonder God tells us to make things right with people immediately?
To forgive an offense this minute? It's not strange that He tells us to love others from the heart because love covers a multitude of sins.

I think He tells us those things because He is a Holy God. He is pure, and perfect and just.

However, I also think He tells us those things because He alone knows how many more minutes our friends and loved ones are going to walk the earth. He knows our hearts and He knows the regret we would feel if someone should walk out the door, never to return, carrying our anger. Carrying our resentment or perhaps a wound we inflicted. He knows the heartache we would feel if the words, "I love you" went unsaid and we had to carry that memory to our own End.

August 30, 2011

Pets?!

(this is a repost from 4 years ago, but I thought I'd share it again. It's one of my favorite memories.....)

You can imagine with 4 boys in the house pets would therefore follow. We've had a number of interesting, and not-so-interesting pets over the years.
There was one year in particular we had an absurd number of them.
Mortimer the goat
Lucy the pygmy goat
3 baby catfish
2 newts
2 fire bellied toads
baby painted turtles
2 dogs-Apache and Sophie
2 cats-Tigger and Butterball
3 finches
goldfish
tropical fish
blue gill
toads
frogs
crawdads
salamanders
27 bantam chickens
and Rocky the snapping turtle
It was so ridiculous that many of our friends would ask to come over just so they could visit our zoo. (Hey, it was free.)
There was one pet, however, we didn't buy, catch, or want. He just came to us of his own free will.
One evening we were sitting in our living room watching Antique Roadshow on PBS. Our then youngest son, Alec, (about 6 years old) suddenly chirps, "I wish I could see a bat. I've never seen a real bat...."
I promise you, not even 5 minutes later a bat swooped down out of the fireplace and started flying around the room!
Can you imagine the instant chaos? I shrieked. The 3 boys were thrilled! The room burst into action.
Suddenly there were 4 people in the house armed with butterfly nets running, clambering over furniture, jumping toward the ceiling swinging their arms, and all yelling "I got it!"
"I GOT it."
"Oh, it got away."
"Grab him! He's over there!"
"Where'd he go?"
I just stood frozen in one spot ducking my head and screaming every time the bat or a net flew past my head.
Finally my husband caught the terrified creature. The boys studied it for a few minutes and then he was released into the night. We thought that was the end of it. However, a few nights later I was peacefully sleeping when I felt a hand gently shaking my shoulder. It was my husband.
"Sweetie, don't move, and don't panic, but there's a bat in our room."
"What?!" I tried to sit up in order to shriek a little louder, but he held me down.
"Get him! I want him out of our room!" I hissed.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see the shadow of the bat as it flew overhead. It would circle our room, gently hit the screen on the window, fly out of our room and then return a few minutes later. My husband got up and dressed, turned on the lights and went in search of the bat. Every time he'd turn a light on, the bat would disappear. Lights off: bat. Lights on: no bat. Finally he gave up and came back to bed. Needless to say it took me a long time to go back to sleep.
This scenario repeated itself every night for about a week. After a few days we were almost used to having a bat in the house. Even the kids got used to it. If anyone had to go to the bathroom during the night we would just duck waddle across the hall so we didn't disturb the bat's flight pattern.
It was during this time my brother and his family were preparing to move across the country to Idaho. We spent allot of time that week helping them pack and clean their house and prepare for the move. When they left my husband was going to go with them to help drive and unload the moving truck once they reached Idaho. My only hope was that the bat would be gone before they left. I couldn't stand the thought of being alone in the house with 3 little boys and that nocturnal creature still on the loose.
Of course it didn't happen that way. My brother, his family, their belongings, and my comforting, safe husband all left and the bat stayed. I was not a happy camper.
Back to the old routine. Content during the day because I knew the bat was sleeping somewhere, and insomnia at night. Where was that blasted creature anyway?!
A few days after my husband left the boys and I got up to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a warm breeze blew in the windows. We ate breakfast and I gave them some chores to do while I cleaned the kitchen. All of a sudden James starts screaming, "MOM! MOM! Come quick!!! MOOOOOMMMMMMMM!"
I went tearing down the hall to see what on earth was causing all the commotion. As I flew into James' room I spotted him standing next to one of his aquariums grinning and pointing. There sat Rocky innocently chewing on the bat's head. Apparently the bat had become thirsty and decided a snapping turtle's water would quench his parched throat.

August 29, 2011

my hero

My dad was my hero. At least, he started out that way. He made me feel cherished, treasured, safe. (Luckily I don't remember the time he almost drowned me.)

I do remember the feelings of being treasured and safe. (Except for the diving lessons he gave me. Making me jump off the high dive when I was barely 3. Really?? That was a bit much. Although even that was a lesson in trust. He was waaaaaay down there in the water waiting for me each and every time I stepped off the board. Of course, he had to cajole and frighten me into taking the plunge...)

Anyway. Moving right along. He made me feel wanted. He wanted me with him as much as I wanted to be with him. (No, this is not going to be a sob story. Just read on, ok?) We ran errands together, did yard work together, cuddled together, talked about everything. He actually listened to my little girl chatter like it mattered. He even took me to work with him when he could. He was the one I wanted when I got hurt, not my mom. I wanted daddy.

Then one day when I was about 8 it all ended. Dad took a 30 year break from hero status and wallowed around in my heart as someone who couldn't be trusted at all. He suddenly abandoned his family and moved on. New wife, new kids, new state, new home.

About 2 years before he died my dad became my hero once again. But this time it wasn't because of how he made me feel-it was because of what he did. Over and over again in those last 2 years he pointed my nose in the right direction. I don't think it was intentional. He just lived a relationship with the Lord that amazed me. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else with a friendship like theirs and it made me want that kind of relationship as well.

During his last 2 years on the planet dad had lung cancer. He never once showed the usual emotions one would display under the circumstances. He never said he was angry, confused, or even fearful. He just kept saying, "Well, I've prayed and asked the Lord to heal me. If He does, wonderful. If not, I'm ready to go home. I'll leave it up to Him." I could tell dad meant it. You could just see that he'd surrendered his body and his future to the Lord and that was that. No arguments or bargaining. Just surrender and trust.

Another nose pointing moment happened shortly after #4 was born. Dad had come to visit with us and meet the newest member of our family. One morning I stumbled upon him during his prayer time. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, bible in hand. Laying across his bible was a sheet of paper with a long list of names on it. I shamelessly stood in the doorway, watching my dad pray. His lips moved, but his eyes were open and his thumb was systematically sliding down the edge of the paper, touching upon each name as it went. I knew dad was praying for those people. When his thumb came to the end of the list dad stood up, saw me standing there and smiled. "Ready to walk?" And that was that. He had placed each and every person on that long list in the hands of God and was able to walk away.

I, on the other hand, often pray like I fish. I throw a person out to the Lord as if they were a worm on the end of a hook. Then I quickly reel the worm (or should I say person?) back in and carry him around with me all day not surrendered at all.

I hate how I often end my posts. I really need to work on that. La tee da, tee da. Lesson learned. Thee end. But I don't know what else to say in this instance. Dad showed me how to live, I need to do it. Thee end.





August 27, 2011

most of my posts are now falling under the category of: miscellaneous random thoughts of a brain on the edge. what does this mean?

Sometimes I wonder who I am. I know that I am a wife, a mom, a sister-in-law, a teacher, a friend. I'm a sister, a Christian, a mother-in-law, an aunt and a grandma. But lately I've begun wondering if I'm me.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm so busy trying to please people, to fit into the role of the moment, to be the person people expect me to be, that the person I am, the person I want to be, the person that's deep inside is buried under all those roles.

There is another side of me that I doubt anyone sees. I'm not even sure I see her. I just know she's there and I spend a lot of time hiding her, telling her to shut up, sit down, grow up, go away. Am I a hypocrite?

There's a person who would love to wear bright, funky dresses like that girl I wrote about. You know, the one who moved to Key West after her husband died? I long to be brave enough to wear trendy glasses and cut my hair in a short, crazy doo. I wish I could say the crazy things I think without caring whether people think I'm crazy.

There's a girl inside that has wings on her feet. She longs to be wild and free and honest. My son has some little plastic molds he uses when he plays with play dough. He squishes and pushes the dough into the mold to create a dinosaur or a mushroom or whatever. That is how I feel sometimes. I am a blob of pink play dough smooshing myself into a mold because I want to be liked.

On the other hand, maybe I am crazy? I love all those roles in my life and the fact that I am so many people. I love being a grandma, relaxed, knowing God has that baby girl in the palm of His hand and she'll be just fine. I love being a mom, a wife, a mother-in-law and a friend.

Is it possible to be just one person when you are so many? Or is it normal to bounce around being first this person, then that?

Do you know who you are and are you you all the time? Should I even post this? Will I lose your friendship now that you know I'm a schizophrenic?

August 26, 2011

I love:

-listening to the dishwasher as it swishes away grunge. That sound tells me my kitchen is cozy clean, everyone is home, safe where they belong, and my life is organized. (That's hardly ever the case, but those are the feelings I get when I hear a dishwasher.)

-prunes on my pizza

-walking in chilly, violent weather. Bring on the wind, hail and rain! It's so much more interesting and challenging than walking on a bright, sunny day.

-hanging up on telemarketers. I love answering the phone, hearing that annoying, nasally voice say, "Yes, ummm, may I please speak to....". I wait until they're finished, then I reply in the sweetest, softest voice I have, "No. I'm so sorry. You can't." Click.

-that my 3rd son still wants a hug every night before he goes to bed. That....wow. (Please don't EVER tell him I told you that. He'd never hug me again!)

-romantic songs....

-the times when I slow down and actually connect with God. When I stop babbling at Him and actually listen to Him...

-debating and bantering. Certain people I know would tell you I love to argue and always have to be right, even when I don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Don't listen to them. They know nothing.

-the forgiveness of my family and friends. There are times when I'm sure I've really blown it this time and then I'm forgiven and we move on.

-listening to people. At least most people. You've heard the saying, "Everyone has a story"? I love hearing their stories.

-the smell of baked pine needles on a hot summer day

-organizing. When I was little the hangers in my closet had to be exactly 2 fingers apart. I'm not that compulsive now, but I still like it when stuff has a place to call home.

-that first, sweet, shy kiss when boy gets girl in a movie. Those kisses...oh baby....:-)

listening to thunder echo down a mountain canyon. That sound sends shivers down my spine and makes me feel small.

-reading really good books. Sometimes I can't allow myself to even start a book because once I do, I'm there. The house doesn't get cleaned, meals are cooked, school gets left by the wayside and my kids wander the neighborhood, lost, looking for me.

how about you? what are some of the things you love?

August 25, 2011

I'll Stay Home

After having a bit of surgery about 12 years ago, my Dr. told me to get out and walk a little every day. He said that would expedite the healing process. So, I went home and walked. That first day I went outside and walked the length of our house. The next day I managed to get to the garage. A few days later, I conquered our driveway and made it all the way to the mailbox. (You do remember this is post-op walking, don't you?)
Little by little I continued to increase the distance I moved until I'd made it 2.7 miles per day and that's where I stopped. I had 3, then 4 boys to teach, a home to take care of, etc. and I just didn't feel right about taking too much more time out of my day to exercise.
Well, I've been walking that 2.7 miles every day for 8 years, give or take a mile or two. That is 17.5 miles per week.

I just sat down and calculated how many miles I've walked in 8 years: it's been at least 7280. Can you imagine what I would've seen if I'd actually gone anywhere? I could've walked the length of Chile almost 3 times, or traveled from Maine to Portland, Oregon and back with a few miles to spare. I could've followed Route 66 3 times or walked to the deepest part of the ocean 1213 times. If I knew how to walk on water, travel from Bangor, Maine to Paris and back would've made for an interesting trip.
Another route I could've taken would be to go from my own little front door to Canada, through Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, then the southern tip of the Yukon all the way to Anchorage. That journey sounds the most appealing right now. I'm so ready for wilderness, bears, pine trees, mountains and crisp, fresh air...

As you may have guessed, I never have walked "anywhere". I've stayed right here in my own little corner of the planet. I doubt very much I could've gotten any of my family to walk to any one of those places with me, but by staying home and walking? I've had the blessing of spending hours and hours with different members of our family.
My husband and I have walked and talked our way through fights, misunderstandings and deep hurts. We've literally laughed and cried our way over the miles and sore spots in our marriage have been healed.

I've spent time with our oldest son and discussed science, apologetics and basic theology. (He's done the teaching, btw) We've discussed books we're reading and he's shared some of his dreams with me.

My second son has walked only a few times with me. He's been the most creative when it comes to finding ways of avoiding The Walk. :-) But, when we have walked together I've seen bits and pieces of his heart and his concern and compassion for the people of the inner city. The weight he carries on his young shoulders sometimes seems overwhelming.

Walking with #3 is the most difficult of all. That boy has such an incredible imagination and crazy sense of humor. He sometimes makes me laugh so hard I can hardly stand up, which kind of defeats the purpose of being out there, ya know?

Then you have our youngest son. I bet that boy has put in the most miles with me. Walking with him has been such a joy. He is an intelligent, thoughtful, curious little guy who notices everything from the tiniest bug to a cloud shaped like a dumptruck. He was there for me last year in ways no one else in the family could be. He encouraged me to toddle down the road, pushing my walker after back surgery and made the miles enjoyable, not tedious.

Someday I may just tie my shoes, open the door and go. I may walk from coast to coast or tip to tip. My husband and I someday want to go to England and walk through the countryside. We want to stop at cozy B & B's and dusty pubs-I'll try the fish and chips and he can sample the beer.

For now I'm ok with staying home.

August 24, 2011

I'd Like A Chat With You, Webster...

I posted these definitions of "Mother" and "Father" once before, but thought they were unfair enough that they deserve a second look. I mean really. What was Webster's problem? What does he have against mothers? Surely he had a mother...we all do. Maybe she wasn't the best and this is his way of getting revenge?

This is what Webster's 1828 dictionary has to say about parents:

MOTHER:

mother and mud
the womb
hysterics
stark naked
the thick slimy concretion in vinegar
a hysteric fit
a ewe or female sheep
a mole
the female of the horse kind
mud, mold
a mother, and matter, pus
matrix
matter, stuff, materials of which any thing is made
the bed of a river, a sink or sewer
the channel of a river

Further down the page there are several more definitions:
1. A female parent
2. That which has produced anything (Believe me, there are times when I've wondered what on earth I have produced)
3. That which has preceded in time; the oldest or chief of anything (Yes, I feel like this at times-the oldest of anything and everything...)
4. Hysterical passion
5. A familiar term of address of an old woman or matron
6. An appellation given to a woman who exercises care and tenderness towards another, or gives parental advice (nag, nag, nag...)
7. A thick slimy substance concreted in liquors, particularly in vinegar, very different from scum. (Oh! What a relief that is.)

Moving on from there I picked up Webster's Elementary Dictionary-A Dictionary for Boys and Girls:
mother-A slimy substance that forms on fermenting alcoholic liquors (Hmph.)

I then thought, just for the fun of it, I'd look and see what good old Noah had to say about Fathers. From the 1828 dictionary:
to beget, to feed
1. He who begets a child
2. The first ancestor
3. The appellation of an old man, and a term of respect
Elderly men are called fathers; men venerable for age, learning and piety are called fathers.
4. The grandfather
5. One who feeds and supports, or exercises paternal care over another. God is called the father of the fatherless.
6.He who creates, invents, makes or composes any thing; the author, a founder, director or instructor.

I can only hope he came up with these defintions after his poor old mother was laid to rest.

August 23, 2011

A Very Good Gift

I just recently came across an interesting article written for scrapbookers. Rather than page layouts, this article had a long list of journal prompts designed to help people give not only beauty, but character to their scrapbooks.

One of the questions or prompts was: What was the most memorable gift you've been given this year?

For me I would most definitely, without a doubt, no need to even think about it, have to say Grace.

I've had a friendship with God for most of my life. He became my father, my friend and my Savior when I was 13. The only thing is, I didn't think I needed saving at the time. I'd never done drugs. I'd never slept around. I'd never murdered anyone. I was a good girl. Nope, the reason I gave Him my heart was a childish act of selfishness. I wanted Him to Deliver.

1. I wanted my parents back together

2. I wanted friends

3. I wanted to be thin

Nobody else in my life had the power to fulfill those wishes so I decided to give God a try.

Over the years I began to see that I'm not the good girl I imagined. My heart is absolutely full of uglies. My mouth, my motives, my thoughts, and sometimes my actions are most certainly in need of saving.

But, until this year, (I'm ashamed to say) I'd only skimmed the surface of being honest with God about those uglies. I don't think I really trusted the depth of His love, His patience and His compassion until now. I was afraid that if I were completely honest with Him about some of the disgusting things that go on in me the earth would open up, swallow me, and I'd be erased from time.

This year, however, I've put God's tender heart to the test and found Him to be Amazing.

The bible says:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Please, please go back and read those verses again, slowly. He has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet He did not sin. Let us approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Lately I've begun to talk to God about those ugly things in my life. I've been completely honest with Him and laid bare my heart. The first time I told Him what was going on I was positive this is it. It's over now. I even took the time to point out those verses to Him:
You were tempted just like I am, but You didn't sin. Please help me. You promised in those verses that if I approach You I would receive mercy and grace to HELP. There's nothing there about hungry cracks in the ground, ok God?

Almost daily I've been going to Him with my ugly heart and those verses hand in hand. And daily He. Is. Delivering. I approached the throne of Grace without confidence and He still delivered. He has been merciful. He's been giving me wise advice and sweet, undeserved mercy every time I go to Him.

I'm so ashamed that's it's taken me 37 years to begin to see the depth of His character and I know (you don't need to say it) I'm only seeing a shadow of Him at present. I know this is going to sound hopelessly corny but for now this "shadow" is enough. It's about all I can take. Seeing His love in a new way....it's a very good gift....

August 22, 2011

Just Two People

Most of my writing here comes without a plan. I sit, put my fingers on the keyboard, type a word or two, then my thoughts come together and the blog has a post. See? Easy peasy. :-)
I'm going to attempt that today as I (what's the opposite of verbally? typefully?) think about the last chapter in the lives of two men.

Saturday we went downtown to spend the day with my son and his family. At one point all 7 of us piled into a van together to run an errand. We drove to the end of an alley to pull out into traffic and stopped. And waited...and waited...and waited. We weren't waiting for a break in "ordinary" traffic. We were stuck there, witnesses of what I thought was an amazing funeral procession.

Have you ever heard of the Outlaws? They're a motorcycle gang that specializes in drug dealing, illegal gambling, assault, kidnapping, etc. In some cities and in some places the police don't even mess with them. I hope none of the Outlaws read my blog because I must say, The Outlaws? Really? If you're going to be that perverse, surely you can come up with a better name than that?

Anyway, moving along. Apparently one of the more important leaders of the gang had died. His name was Leach. (Now that's a name that's gang worthy.) Before Leach was laid to rest, his fellow conspirators had a memorial service for him and then drove his body around the city as a final farewell. That's what we got to see. Literally hundreds of motorcycles and cars following his casket, (which, btw, was not in an ordinary hearse. It was in a hearsy-trailer thingy being pulled by a motorcycle.) (Can you tell I only slept about 4 hours last night?)

What I would've loved to have witnessed was Leach's actual memorial service. Can you imagine the scene? Hundreds of men gathering to say goodbye to a person who had led the way in hurting people... in ruining lives. What on earth was said? Was he loved by any of them? Trusted?

There was a viewing and then a memorial service I did get to witness and it was just as fascinating as I imagine Leach's to be. My dad's.

His viewing was held late in the afternoon on a biting cold December day. There was no casket. People came to celebrate his life, not his death. And boy, did they come. We stood there for hours greeting literally hundreds of people. I've never seen anything like it. The queue went down the main isle of the church, through a large foyer, out the door of the church into the snow and cold, and around the building.

It was a bittersweet day for me-bitter because most of those people, my dad's friends, had never even heard of me. "Oh, Frank had a daughter? It's nice to meet you....." Sweet because I was able to see just how much he was loved and respected by those friends.

His memorial was the next day and the same thing happened. Hundreds of people came to say goodbye. We were again there for hours, watching and listening to people say goodbye and celebrate who my dad was. I heard story after story about the ways my dad had served people, led them to the Lord, given of his money or time, and taught them scripture. And again, it was a bittersweet day. My dad left behind literally hundreds of people who had been blessed by him, but he also left behind 6 children with scars on their hearts-wounds he'd inflicted.

Two men, two lives. Hundreds of people who admired and respected them...wounded people left in their wake. The difference is the Grace one embraced. One of those men died knowing Jesus was and is and can. My dad died in peace, trusting that God would take care of the messes he'd left behind. I wonder how Leach went?

August 20, 2011

Homework

I love writing. It's something I've enjoyed ever since my kindergarten teacher handed me that first, fat, yellow, thick-leaded pencil and wide lined paper. I love playing with words-trying to arrange them in ways that might spark someone's imagination, tickle their funny bone or bring tears to their eyes. I doubt I'll ever win an award with my writing, or even a local contest, but that doesn't stop me. Writing is an outlet for me. A place to share my heart, my dreams, my hopes and my memories. That's why I blog.

That and the fact that I can't talk. Coherently that is. For some reason there's a better connection between my brain and my hands than there is my brain and my tongue. If you and I were to sit down and have a face to face conversation you'd see what I'm talking about. My tongue gets tangled up and wrapped around my teeth, words tumble out of my mouth in pell mell fashion, and my feet frequently find their way north and get lodge between my lips, making me feel like the village idiot.

Hence, I write. It's a safe world too. I can't see the puzzled look on your face, or your disgust; I can't hear your sighs or see that you're bored out of your everlasting mind.

Over the last few months a crazy, maybe stupid idea, has been lurking in the back of my mind. I've been stewing over the fact that one way or another, I could either be very lonely or in need of an income in the future. My last little guy is growing up and won't always be by my side, learning, laughing, and keeping me company. Or, my husband may go the way of all things and I'd have to be my own provider. (He hates it when I say that, but since he doesn't read my blog I can say it here, right? :-) )

So, here's my crazy thought. Since I love writing, maybe, just maybe?, I could start earning money doing it. That way, if I'm left to my own devices, either because someone grows up or another someone leaves me, I'll have something to do to keep myself occupied and fed. (I'm glad I can't hear your laughter.)

I don't know where to begin or how, but that doesn't matter at this point. I still have a long way to go before someone would pay me to put words to paper. I need practice. This is probably just a pipe dream....

Anyway-I don't know how many people come to this little corner of cyberspace, but I know some do. I'd like your help. If you could give me a homework assignment, a writing challenge, I'd appreciate it. Just remember, I'm a simple person with a very small world. I'm not a rocket scientist nor a theologian. I know kids, mothering, housework. I know God can help us overcome wounds and sin and fear. (something He and I are still working on, btw) There may be a few other things I know, but I have to get off this computer and walk before it gets too hot out. I think you get the idea.

So, if you think of anything, just for the fun of it, leave a comment or pop an email my way. I'd appreciate the challenge. Maybe.
















August 19, 2011

it's friday and i'm daydreaming

Just in case I ever find a magic bottle with a genie inside, ready to throw wishes at my feet, I've compiled a list of things I'd like to do and places I'd like to go. They're not in any sort of order, except the last one, and you'll see why that's there once you get that far.

-horseback ride along a deserted beach

-operate a backhoe

-be a bee keeper

-take a working vacation in Europe where I could help restore an old castle

-find an orphanage in Europe filled with babies that need lots of hugging and hug them

-go on an elk hunt

-go with Lewis and Clark on their grand adventure from St. Louis all the way to the Pacific

-own my own greenhouse

-be a photographer with National Geographic Magazine

-go back in time and experience an actual Indian/voyager rendezvous

-write a book and have it published

-spend a few days living in the 1920's just so I could wear some of those georgeous dresses!

There are so, so many more things I'd like to do, so many places I want to see. I could probably write an endless list. Especially after spending practically the whole of last year laying sideways on my bed. I feel like an arrow in a bowstring, vibrating with anticipation at the thought of being set free to fly....

-The final thing I want to do is climb Mt. Everest. I've wanted to do that for ever so long and now I've decided that's my final wish. That is how I want to die. I'm going to wait until I know the end is near, but not too near! I at least want to make it out of base camp. I'm going to climb and climb and climb as far as my legs and lungs will take me, then I'm going to find a cozy little nook and quietly slip into a frozen sleep. Then Jesus will come and pull me from my body and carry me home....

August 18, 2011

Chip

He was one of the kids in that youth group I wrote about last week and I had a crush on him. (Please note, I said "crush". It wasn't love, just a school girl crush.)
Chip was tall and blond and full of energy. He was sweet and kind, gentle and thoughtful. (or so it seemed until...) A good listener. He was also crazy and you never knew what he was going to do or say next. I think that's what attracted me to him. That and his wonderful sense of humor. When we were together, we were laughing.
There was only one thing that stood between me and Chip. Tina. She was his girl friend. They had an up and down kind of relationship and when they were up, I was down; when they were down, I was hopeful. I secretly watched them from afar, waiting, hoping for that one final fight that would free him forever and he could be mine!

Finally, late in the fall they broke up. Oh my heart went pitter patter! Maybe... just maybe?

I waited patiently, giving his broken heart time to mend. We were able to spend more time together now and I could tell Chip was attracted to me. Oh the joy! The hope! When he towered over me and laughed at some mundane thing I'd said my heart rate went into overdrive.

Then one night it happened. Chip asked me to be his girl. It was the middle of January and our youth group had gone ice skating. The ice was perfect, the air crisp and clear; stars twinkled over our heads and mountains surrounded the lake. All these things blended together to make a perfect, romantic setting. I could tell Chip wanted to talk to me. He kept trying to maneuver me away from the other kids to a secluded spot on the ice. I wanted to postpone the moment, to soak up the fact that Chip was finally seeing the light. We were meant to be together! So, I kept skating back toward our friends, teasing him, laughing.

After a time I at last relented. We did indeed skate off to a dark, cozy corner of the lake. Chip looked down at me and wow. The look he gave me. He was nervous...hopeful...Then he popped the question:

"Judy, I have something to ask you."

"What is it?" I asked innocently.

" I'm going to ask Tina if she'll get back together with me. If she says no, will you go with me?"

He never knew what hit him.

August 17, 2011

When I Look in the Mirror I See

Lines.

I see the curly lines of my hair, growing there in cheerful confusion.

I see the lines of crows' feet at my eyes. I like crows feet-they tell me happy, joyful experiences have danced through my life.

Then there are the lines under my eyes. Whew....those lines....why is it that my sin sits there on my face, like a beacon? The bags under my eyes tell the world: here is a woman who has trouble sleeping. She's a fretful person who's spent way too many hours laying in bed suffocating under the weight of things she was never meant to carry. She still needs to learn the simple lesson of surrendering every molecule of her world to God. His hands are fully capable. She should know that by now. He has a proven track record.

Heading east and west are the lines called "arms". I think those are the most blessed lines of my entire body. Without them I would never have held my husband, loving and being loved. The babies God put in my care wouldn't of been embraced, close to my heart, where they belonged for ever so brief a time. Those arms have allowed me to serve my family. To show them I love them in a million ways by cooking, cleaning, driving, hugging....books wouldn't of been opened and shared, solar systems and erupting volcanoes never made, band aids never applied. My arms have encircled friends and said, I love you without words. Because of my arms I've been able to craft, create, nurture, and share my heart in ways I never could if they weren't there.

Now we go south. The lines around my middle. There is a nasty, ugly scar there. That line marks the spot where we lost our first baby. I ofen wonder about that tiny person. What would our family be if God had allowed that baby to be a part of it? Then of course there are the lines that tell the story of the babies that were. I could say stretch marks are ugly... disgusting even. But without them my world would be a completely different place and I would be a completely different person. Those lines are there because God chose to use this body to bring 4 men into the world. To share that experience with Him goes beyond description. My heart is laying at His feet in awe....

And finally, the lines of my legs. They have been there through thick and thin, literally! They've put up with so much and have taken me places I longed to see. Like my arms, those legs have allowed me to love and serve. They've carried me overseas, up mountains, and over countless trails backpacking and hiking. They've held onto skis, skates, horses, and rafts on the Colorado River. One poor leg has been bruised and beaten, used by God to rock my world.

The lines of my body tell a story. My story. They show me where I need to shape up and they remind me that God has been with me in sovereign, loving control through each and every day.

August 16, 2011

The Nature of the Beast

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts today and not very creative. Hence, I'm going to repost something originally written in 2009:


A few months ago my oldest son described my spiritual state of being in not-so-glowing terms. I know he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but being the female that I am, it was only natural that I twist his words into something he didn't quite mean and turn them into something that has bothered me ever since. (Which, by the way, proves his point....)

Here's what he said, "Mom, you are like the ocean. At the bottom of the ocean all is calm, quiet, and steady. Unchanging. Dependable. But, when storms hit, the surface is choppy. Confused. Chaotic. It's easily moved. That's how you're relationship with the Lord is. Underneath it all you trust Him and I know nothing will pull you away from Him. You're solid deep down. But when you go through hard things your emotions take over and pull you and push you all over the place."

Well, I've chewed on that description ever since. I'd now like to say something on my behalf. I've been thinking about the ocean, and have come up with these observations:

-You can't bodily move the ocean. Any ocean. They stay put, right where God planted them, no matter how much they storm and rage and fret on the surface.

-You can't drain the ocean.

-The ocean is teaming with life. Some of the creatures are harmful, or scary. Some are lovely. Only about 3% of the ocean has been explored. That means there are probably all kinds of lovely and not-so-lovely things yet to be discovered.

-People respect the ocean, just the way it is. The depths as well as the tumultuous surface.

-God made the ocean to be that way on purpose.

-Most people love the ocean and some spend their whole lives either living on it, or wishing they could be near it. ( Don't go there. I know there's not a waiting list of people outside my door longing to be near me. My point is, most people are at least not repulsed by the ocean.)

-If the surface of the ocean were made of glass, solid and unmovable, it would shatter when the storms hit.

-Jesus walked on the water of a stormy sea and a bit later calmed the raging waters.

That last observation is the sweetest of them all. It's only when I let Jesus walk through the circumstances of my life and submit and trust Him that I become still. I often forget to do that when winds start to blow through my life. And sometimes, I must admit, I enjoy a good storm. I'm a stubborn, mule headed person who wants her way. Even if it's not the easy or best way. I often, and foolishly, don't give up the fight until I'm exhausted.

So, having said all that, let me ask you a question. What animal, vegetable, or mineral are you? If you were an object in nature, rather than a person, what would you be?

August 15, 2011

FOR TODAY

Outside my window...the moon was bright and busy through the night, but now, when I get up, it's gone to bed.

I am thinking...about sin. Sometimes my heart feels like a mouth full of rotten teeth. God no sooner fixes one ugly spot and then I'm off and running, wrestling over something else. I make myself weary.

I am thankful...for yesterday. I was finally, finally able to hike a rough trail and 3 miles to boot! (back surgery a year ago and I'm still recovering. Don't say it-I think the same thing every day. "Still" recovering? A year?! Yes, but at least I can still see improvement every week)

From the learning rooms...my lone little student gets the day off today.

In the kitchen...I'm thinking that I should be able to start baking our bread again soon. It's hurt too much to knead the dough all this time, but if I can hike, surely I can knead?!

I am wearing...shorts and a baggy red t-shirt that once belonged to one of my sons. It's a bittersweet thing to actually be smaller than they are....

I am creating...lists. Things to blog about, Christmas gifts to buy, things I need to do. I love lists!

I am going...to spend the day with a friend helping her pack. She's moving to Florida soon.

I am wondering...what to do with 4 days to myself?! My husband is going fishing for two days and I'm going to try and farm out our 2 sons so I can be here at home, alone. Then I'm also planning on taking two days to myself at a state park soon. So excited!

I am reading...I just started a book called Shadow Divers. It's a true story about 2 scuba divers who discover a sunken German U boat off the coast of New Jersey. I don't like the way the author writes that much, but the story is intriguing enough that I can ignore that.

I am hoping...to lose 2 more pounds. 3 down!

I am looking forward to...fall baking and twinkle lights, candles, and soups and stews. I don't like what comes after fall, but I do love the cozy days of cooler weather.

I am hearing...crickets, cicadas, and some strange animal that sounds like a howler monkey. Maybe I should close the window!

Around the house...just the usual, a few toys, books, a floor that needs mopping. Nothing interesting going on there.

One of my favorite things...visiting with friends, new and old.

A few plans for the rest of the week: giving the house a good cleaning, school, who knows? Something always seems to come up.

August 12, 2011

I Got Kicked Out of Youth Group

One of the good, and bad, things that come from being half Italian/half German is a hard head. I mean really, with those two blood lines running through my veins there isn't much room for being wishy washy, is there?

This genetic conglomeration has caused a lot of problems in my life. Like the Axis Alliance during WWll, once my mind is made up it becomes a force to be reckoned with. No, I'm not bragging. This is something I dislike about myself and something God and I discuss frequently.

The first time I noticed this stubborn streak was in high school. I had found a great youth group and we had a blast together. Skiing, roller skating, weekend retreats, great bible studies....

Our youth group leader and I would spend hours and hours in heated debate about scripture. Looking back, I wonder if he was actually sighing and maybe a bit worried about my youthful theology?

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Just know that for 2 years this youth group was hugely important to me. My life revolved around the times we could all be together laughing, talking, sharing our hearts, and doing crazy, fun things with each other.

It all came to a sudden, jolting end when my DNA met a (what I thought) batty idea our youth group leader had come up with. He wanted to have a contest. No, not a "lets see who can swallow the most raw eggs without puking" type of contest. This contest was serious and the loser lost, big time.

Here's what he wanted us to do. You know that little booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws? It's a tiny thing that you can read in about 5 minutes. It lays out in simple steps the way to have eternal life. Well, the challenge laid out for us was this:
"Let's see who can share the Four Spiritual Laws with the most people and see who can "save" the most people." (meaning, get the most people to pray the sinner's prayer that's at the end of the booklet.) "If you don't participate, you can't come to youth group anymore."

That's crazy, thought I. When Jesus walked the earth, He talked to people. He spent time with them. He loved them. He looked at their hearts and actually cared about what was going on there. It wasn't a game to Him.

I thought about that and wondered what Jesus would've done. I also looked at the consequences. No more youth group. No more ski trips. No more retreats. No more group bible studies. I wondered how serious our youth group leader was. Would he really kick me out if I thought this was not the way Jesus would have done it? And yes, we even had a debate about it. In the end, I followed my hard head and decided that salvation is not a game. It's not a contest. It's a relationship with God. A friendship built on trust and love. In the end I said, "I can't do this. It's all wrong!" And in the end, I lost. I was kicked out of youth group and told never to come back. Even most of the kids, the people I thought were my friends, walked away. For some unfathomable reason they treated me like I had leprosy.

Now, looking back, I wonder if I did the right thing? The bible says:

" ... It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."
Phil. 1:18

How about you? What would you have done?





August 11, 2011

just reflecting....

A year ago my back blew up. No, not the whole thing-just one tiny piece. But that was enough for me. If my life has a check list of things for me to go through before I'm called home, "horrible" has now been checked off... I hope.

While the pain I felt was the scariest, worst experience I could ever imagine happening to me, things that have happened since then have made that time almost worth it.

In the first place, I saw just how deeply and truly my husband and sons love me. They went above and beyond the call of duty to take care of me and let me know they'd actually lay down their lives for me. It's been a humbling year in that regard and I feel as if I don't deserve them.

Because I was pretty much an invalid for 10 months the computer has become a blessing and a curse. I'm now addicted to it, but also incredibly thankful for it. The best part has been finding old friends on facebook and getting reacquainted with them and making new friends there as well.

I've done a lot of whining and fretting in the last year...wondering if I'll ever be as normal as I ever was before. (whatever that means) I was literally forced to S.T.O.P. for 10 months and that's not something I do easily. I like to function and when I couldn't I felt like, " Just dump me overboard. I'm no longer a productive member of society." On the other hand, I've been strangely thankful for this time. How many people are given the gift of being able to step out of the picture and just laze around for almost a year? The stresses that normally invade my head were invisible because I was so focused on pain and healing-nothing else mattered. So, depending on how you look at it, this was a deeply refreshing year.

I learned that I'm not as important as I thought I was. The earth went on spinning and the seasons came and went, people went about their business and life went on as usual-all without my help. This is a good thing to discover. Really, it is. God is God and He can manage things perfectly whether I'm up and running or not. My faith has deepened because of this experience. That alone does make it worth it.

I'm sure there are other things I've learned and more blessings I'll discover as I slowly creep away from this year. Sometimes we need a bird's eye view of an experience to see what God was up to. Sometimes, unfortunately, He never tells us. Even if this is all I ever see, it's enough.

I do have one more thing to add, just to keep it real. Over the last year I've often felt like I had a big target on my head. I wanted to borrow Frodo's elven cloak and hide under it until God "forgot" all about me. The only thing is, God didn't forget about me. He crawled right in there under the cloak with me, put His arms around me and held me through it. Sometimes it didn't feel that way but it's true. I can see it now.

August 8, 2011

For Today


FOR TODAY
Outside my window...the moon and stars are quiet. The weather says it's foggy but it's too dark out yet for me to see anything.

I am thinking...about the long winter ahead. So not looking forward to it.

I am thankful...for yesterday. All our kids came over for the afternoon. It recharged my emotional batteries to have our family together, laughing and talking and teasing.

From the learning rooms...school is going well. We're getting into a routine and we are both thankful to be busy again. I never thought I'd say this, but our summer break was too long!

In the kitchen...I need to bake cookies. The cookie jar is empty and lonely.

I am wearing...still in my pj's. Hey, it's only 5:45 in the morning!

I am creating...I'm not really creating anything, but I'm in the process of tweaking two scrapbooks. One of each of my parents' lives

I am going...to babysit my new grand baby this afternoon! So excited!

I am wondering...how on earth I gained 5 pounds. Hopefully it'll be gone in a week or two. Hold me accountable, will ya? Somebody? Anybody?

I am reading...The Hobbit to myself and The Fellowship to my son. Next to the bible, these books are my favorites right now.

I am hoping...to get to the point where I stop wrestling with God and surrender. Why do I do this? He always wins and it's always for my good and I know it's because He loves me....

I am looking forward to...spending the day with my new granddaughter.

I am hearing...crickets and a dog barking. Fans are humming and the key board is clicking. That's about it.

Around the house...baby bottles on the kitchen counter. It's incredibly sweet to see tiny baby things in our house once more. God is good.

One of my favorite things...the name Elizabeth.

A few plans for the rest of the week: losing at least 2 pounds, finishing those 2 scrapbooks, school, enjoying the cooler weather...

August 5, 2011

Plan B

So, I hate to be morbid and all, but I have been thinking about death a lot lately for some reason. My own a bit, but mostly my husband's. Please don't take me wrong-it's not that I'm counting the days until I'm free of him; it's because we have 101 years of living between the two of us. According to a BBC News article, the chances of a boy living to 100 are 18.1%. On the other hand, the article goes on to say that by the time you get to 90 you've gone past a lot of the things that usually kill you. You know, things like wives....
But, just in case I do happen to outlive him, I've decided to come up with a Plan B for the end of my days. I'll just have to trust I have the wisdom to pick the best one when the time comes.

1. I can move in with one of my sons and practice the fine art of minding my own business

2. I could buy a small, happy, shiny red tug boat and live on Lake Michigan. (Don't want the ocean. I can hardly navigate my way through a round-about, let alone the Pacific)

3. I just may move to a small town in Wyoming and become a waitress in a truck stop

4. I'll buy a small condo on the coast of Maine, find a cozy little bookstore that needs me, and wallow in ocean breezes and romance novels

5. Or, I could move to Key West. I'll let my hair grow and get dread locks, listen to reggae continually, wear funky dresses and birkenstocks and enjoy the company of my son and his family when they pop down there every other year.

6. I may go to Alaska. I used to dream of homesteading there...wonder if that's still legal?

7. Another thought would be to buy a little motorcycle and go putz my life away in Europe. I could find a tiny apartment above a coffee shop and make all kinds of caffeinated friends to keep me company

The question is, how to pick just one? Which one fits me the best? I suppose I could do what we did when I was in labor with our first baby. We couldn't decide on a name so here's what we did: we each picked 3 names and wrote them down on pieces of paper. We put those papers in a bowl and then we each drew one paper out. We stuck them together and voila! Yep, I think that's what I'll do......

August 4, 2011

A Moment in Time

As I sit here in my tiny house in the middle of the midwest, I sometimes think about the history of the world. Wouldn't it be great to have a bird's eye view of history? I'd love to see a slide show of all the wonderful, horrible, amazing events that have rocked the planet; you know, things like:

the signing of the declaration
watching Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific
seeing people's faces as the Berlin Wall came down
or the second all those soldiers toppled out of the Trojan Horse

It would've been heart-breaking to see the Jews finally freed from Hitler's concentration camps, but I think a part of me would've liked to have been there.

However, there is another moment in history I'd like to have seen. This one maybe more than most.

My dad was a soldier in WWll. Sometimes, during our family reunions, my dad would sit and talk about the war. He'd talk about the near misses he'd had, the challenges he faced, the heart break, the fear, and the things he'd done. I only know this because others in the family have hinted at those stories. I missed every single one of those talks. Not because I wasn't at the family reunions. No, I was there. I was just busy with 3 little boys; bathing them, brushing their teeth, nursing them, changing their diapers, wrestling them to bed. I was having my own private little battles so I missed out on the big one.

There was one time, and only one time, in the whole of my life that my dad talked to me about WWll. It was one hour I will never forget because it was just me and my dad, walking alone through the countryside- he opened up his heart and let me see some of it. He talked about shell shock, and again, those near misses and the fear. But the one moment I would've loved to have seen was when he and friends walked through France at the close of the war. As they walked through all the little towns and villages women and children were there, waiting for them. Those people were so happy to see the Allies...so thankful. They wept, they hugged the soldiers as they passed by; they threw flowers at their feet and pressed candy into their hands.

Wouldn't you have loved to have seen your dad, a young man who'd gone through hell, at that moment? Knowing that what he'd gone through and suffered had meant the world to so many people? Wouldn't you have loved to have seen the look on his face? Can you imagine what must have been going on in his mind?

Of course, if I would've been there I wouldn't be his daughter. I would've missed out on so many other moments in time I did experience with him. Moments that I will never forget and wouldn't give up for anything, not even WWll.

August 2, 2011

11 Things I Will Never Forget

1. Crawling in bed with my parents when I was little and laying my head on my daddy's chest. I could hear the steady rhythm of his heart beating and feel the warmth of him being there, alive and protecting me.

2. Finding a huge, dead, petrified toad in the corner of our closet behind my shoes. Thanks guys.

3. The day my husband burglarized something for me.

4. The last words my dad ever spoke to me.

5. The way our sons treated me on their wedding days.

6. The first time my husband kissed me.

7. Seeing my husband take an antique weed whacker to lop off a chicken's head, thus freeing our sons to play outside again without fear. :-)

8. Discovering I can be gut wrenchingly honest with God and He still loves me.

9. My 3rd son's incredible, amazing, whacky sense of humor. Sometimes he makes me laugh until I can hardly stand up.

10. Coffee dates with my best friend.

11. The moment our 4th son was born. He was born at home in a kiddie swimming pool in the middle of our livingroom. Quite the experience!

August 1, 2011

For Today

FOR TODAY
Outside my window...it is still black as tar, quiet except for a train and an occasional car

I am thinking...how much time do you have? I could write about that all day. Seriously.

I am thankful...for homeopathic remedies

From the learning rooms...I need to work on lesson plans. We're going to be starting school soon! Ahg!

In the kitchen...crockpot granola is on my to-do list for the day

I am wearing...a dress I wore to a wedding when I was FAT. It's soft and comfy and huge now, so I use it for a nightgown.

I am creating...I'm not really creating anything, but I'm in the process of tweaking two scrapbooks. One of each of my parents' lives

I am going...to spend the day with my daughter-in-law and grand baby tomorrow! Can't wait!

I am wondering...if I'll ever get to take one last walk with an old friend....

I am reading...The Hobbit to myself and The Fellowship to my son

I am hoping...to someday take a mini-vacation alone. I would love time to walk along a cool, rocky beach and think and pray and journal without any interruptions.

I am looking forward to...the homeopathic remedies I started 5 days ago kicking in even more than they already have

I am hearing...my chair squeak once in awhile and the quiet hum of the computer

Around the house...dust, legos, piles of books, dust, ironing, school stuff that needs organizing, dust....

One of my favorite things...two cookies and coffee at the crack of dawn each day.

A few plans for the rest of the week: other than seeing my daughter-in-law and granddaughter tomorrow, just the usual stuff. Cooking, cleaning, school stuff. Boring but wonderful if I consider the alternatives. :-)