Another Good Day (In Spite of Itself)

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I have 20 minutes until it isn’t Saturday any more. For the entire day I kept wanting to write, tapping out little anecdotes in my head about how this day began with a damp outlook, but how we keep ourselves afloat by choosing to be happy rather than letting the grit and grime get us down. However, I just kept moving through the day, making mental notes that have already escaped me, and alas, I am too tired to remember it all. Was it the fact that it has been raining since the beginning of time? Oh, yes, that is how it started; the day, that is. Wet. And for all my patience and umbrella balancing, my little Yorkie couldn’t ‘go’ and my newspaper weighed in at sopping wet despite that blue plastic very permeable sleeve that it wears.  But this I took in stride and found myself not complaining; just thankful for the cutest little dog ever! He sat patiently awaiting his treat while I placed dripping umbrella, doggy jacket, and my shoes on the water proof sunroom floor. There’s the other thing I was thinking – how great it is to have a place to track mud and rain into and not worry about it! Comfort to the max. After spreading the important pages of the paper, that being the crossword puzzle, the front page and the obituaries, over chairs to dry, we headed for the coffee pot and breakfast plans. God bless the newspaper carrier; all I have to do is walk out and pick it up. They, on the other hand, have to get all those papers distributed day after day, no matter the weather. I’ll bet the rain gets through her open car window as she tosses the daily news onto the driveway. What’s more, our carrier is more faithful than the US mail! No kidding; during this winter’s snow, we missed only one day of the paper, but several days of mail were missed.

Well, my 20 minutes are up, and it’s Sunday morning already, but I’m on a roll. Just as I was starting to feel dry, cozy and full I called our daughter who lives two or three hours away, depending on who is driving. Had she gone to the mailbox? No, but she said she would, and when I called her back to see if she got the valentine I sent to her from her fur baby, her voice was changed. She said, “Mama, I’m kind of scared….” Do you know what that does to a mother’s heart when her normally very brave daughter has gone out to the mailbox and comes back inside saying she is scared? The rest of my coffee got cold, and my stomach was churning, but I didn’t let on to her. It appears that someone has obtained her personal information and she has received the first evidence of it. Let’s see, what can I be optimistic about here? The first thing I did was just nothing; I listened, and can’t recall what I did finally say because my mind was racing, and I didn’t want to make her feel worse. As if. So I am extremely grateful for whatever that protective coating is that causes us to sit stunned and silent rather than comprehending everything at once. That has to be a blessing that God built in for our own protection. We ended our phone conversation so that she could get right on the notifications that needed to be made, like bank account, credit reports, and so forth. I went directly to my husband and said “we need to pray – now” and we did. And that was where I became so thankful that I knew I would have to write before the day was over. Gratitude swelled in my heart that we don’t have to suffer insults alone. We do not have to work out the solutions alone. We have a hope for help today as well as for eternity. The next life does not have all dibs on seeing the results of a strong faith. Without the knowledge that I have a God who is able to do exceedingly greater than I can even imagine or ask, I would be left with our simple human devices. Unstable, uncertain, hit or miss people power is not what I want working for my girl! After praying, I immediately called my sister, bypassing her preferred method of texting to communicate. I wasted no time telling her to put her life on hold as she was headed out the door for a wedding shower we were both attending mid morning. “I need to talk to my sister, and fall just a little bit apart”, I said and felt the tears very near. I explained what was happening and that I had kept emotions in check for my daughter, but now I needed to let it flow. Would you believe her niece on her husband’s side of the family had her identity stolen! It was a nightmare for her and she became very well acquainted with what to do and how to proceed. I am so very very sorry for her that it happened, but I am also very thankful there was someone we knew with the voice of experience for my daughter to be advised. I am very thankful too, that my daughter felt better after speaking to “Mary” (fake name). How very thankful I am that I have a husband who can share with me the concern of our children, and to whom I can go to pray with me. What a blessing!  Counting my blessings would be quite incomplete without telling you how much it means to have a sister to call.  I’ve alway been thankful for her, and as much as we fought as children, it is a wonder she will even speak to me. But I think all that fighting creates a bond like no other. Her concern was genuine, and she immediately sent Mary’s phone number to my daughter, and told me it would be difficult, but we’d be okay.

As I arrived at the shower, where my sister had already told of the crime against my daughter, I found open arms and warm hugs for my hurting heart; and enough concern for my daughter’s welfare to reach the whole 150 miles away to her! I called her later and said “you should feel very rich right now, with all the love and good wishes you received today”! Thank you God for the sweet hearts of good friends! Thank you for Macy’s employee who answered my daughter’s call this morning and was so kind and helpful. I should explain that it was a Macy’s statement in the mail this morning, and she doesn’t have a Macy’s account. So, it was explained to her that someone opened an account, many many miles away, using all the personal information that belongs to my daughter, and did so to get the discount on the clothes they bought. The DISCOUNT? When you know you aren’t even going to be paying for them? OK…..Well, I guess that gave them a legitimate reason to open a new account, I say with sarcasm. Whoever that was, will never know that I sat down this morning and prayed for them to have a change of heart and destroy the information they are using, and well, if you’re thinking I asked for them to be blessed, you are wrong. I am after all, a mother. Don’t mess with my cubs. But I did refrain from wishing them any harm. Truly. I am thankful that God has directed us to wish no harm to others, because I don’t think it would have made my day to unleash those kind of negative thoughts. I am going to stay optimistic, and positive, and thankful. A dry roof over our heads; good friends and family; prayer and a Lord Who loves my daughter even more than I do! It was indeed a good day.

This is indeed the day that the Lord has made and I will be glad in it. Because I can.

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The In and Out of Season

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It is coffee-o’clock in the afternoon, and I am pondering the things that were on my mind as I walked Auggie just after noon today. With temperatures between 40 and 50, many folks around here are getting their wish for a thaw. As the saying goes, there’s a blessing and a curse in this. The sound of our walk has changed from the quiet whump whump of boots on snow, to the slosh slush of melting ice and snow underfoot. It is actually more difficult to keep my footing in this than it was on solid ice and fluffy snow.

What was beautiful white snow is now poxed with surfacing mud, weed and grass sprigs, and the gazillion tracks and seed shells strewn by grateful birds. The gleam of sunshine over a white field is clouded over today, and today’s 40 felt colder than 10 degrees did on a sunny day.  After a week of putting Auggie and myself into and out of  sweaters, coat, hood, scarf, boots, gloves, and even at times extra layers, plus a leash, well – I’m easing up on the job and thinking I wouldn’t make a good Alaskan!

No, the sounds and sights are not as pleasing to me, but 6 days without mail and the cancelled plans weren’t great either. Oh, I am not complaining. We certainly don’t experience this scenario much around here. I rather enjoyed the quiet time. I felt a purpose in life – keeping the birds fed, checking on my elderly family members, using groceries judiciously and preparing meals that would keep my man happy (smile – I know how old-fashioned that sounds) and keeping the household prepared just incase we lost electricity along the way.

But this isn’t the crux of my thoughts this morning. It was change. I think a lot about that lately. We went overnight from a 60 degree rain to temps in the teens with a layer of ice and several inches of snow.  Likewise, we went from teens back to 50 degrees in less than 24 hours today. My sister says my reaction time emotionally goes from zero to 90 in a moment. We go from stocked shelves and full refrigerator to “whats for dinner?’ in a few days of home cooking. I went from a peaceful moment of “I think I’ll get something out of the freezer” to a mad race for towels, containers, and yells for help. The freezer was off and our food had thawed. I cooked a great deal, gave some away, threw away  even more, and I now have a clean freezer ready to be refilled. I may have cried a tear or two, recalling the work I put into those garden veggies. It’s a small thing really, and I’m over it. But all those huge things that people endure as their seasons change are not coped with so easily. My heart bleeds for them. As I prepare to speak in March at a Ladies Retreat I will be giving a greater portion of thought to this thing we call change. Seasons.  Our seasons within seasons. The beauty and the beast of seasons as they come and go. And especially the Letting Go as we prepare for another!

Enjoy your season, whatever it is. They go by too quickly to miss a moment of each one. In a flash I will be watching for little garden seeds to sprout, bringing more of those vegetables we love. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching.” (II Timothy 4:2 NKJV)

Winter Ghosts

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As I sit over a cup of Keurig Peppermint Bark, I am bewitched by the scene through the kitchen window. Snow ghosts, stirred by the gusts of wind, are dancing across the quiet field that once held lush growing soybeans, and a disruptive marestail here and there. The morning sunshine reflected off that frozen pallet is hypnotizing me. I am remembering snowfalls of many years, and I am so thankful for the comforts of home. I hear the laughter and shrieks of children now grown, as they would come inside, leaving their crooked little snowman in the trampled snow of our yard. I remember my brown-eyed boy begging to stay out longer, and our pigtailed girl throwing off the wet mittens and heading for the comfort of our large gas stove. I sigh and pray “thank you” recalling the four-wheel drives into work through ice and snow.

From my childhood, I hear the stomping boots of the rabbit hunters coming in half frozen. Images cross my mind of deserted cedar trees that once held the jewels of Christmas, cast out, bare and lying on snowy banks. I shiver with the ghost of a blizzard my husband and I once drove through to take down a load of dark-fired tobacco from an old one room barn.   I hear an occasional eerie moan of the ghosts from undone plans, as they bring my attention to the present day skeletons still standing in my garden; a stripped sunflower stalk, and tomato vines that cling to the few stakes I never got around to moving. That garden spot is now one with the open field it joins, as if it could never be made a garden again.

A small dry oak leaf scampers across the snow with a life of its own. It looks like the hummingbirds of only a few months ago flitting from one feeder to another. The thoughts of garden and bird almost make me ready for warm weather; but first, I want to enjoy the beauty of this ghostly quiet, peaceful snow day that kind of insulates me from the routine. It is good to be still, and know…and remember the Creator of all this – the snow, the birds, our memories that warm us in the cold days of life – and so much more! Only a blanket of snow can transform a dark stripped landscape into a thing of beauty overnight. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Stay warm friends

This Woman Has Loved!

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July 17, 2016

As a sprinkle of rain fell through the pergola, drops of evidence on our laps, but not a cloud in sight, Aunt Lorene said, “You know, when they asked if I wanted to be sprinkled, I said ‘No, I want to be completely baptized; fully put under’.”  She then added to me, “and when heaven opens up, I don’t want to be just BARELY there; just barely get in; no, I want to be (with her arms outspread) ALL the way there!” Her eyes were shining. We agreed that a little sprinkle wasn’t enough to drive us off the beautiful porch swing where we sat on that rather warm day. As suddenly as the drops fell, they dissipated and we were given more time to again introduce ourselves to each other. That day she must have asked me a dozen times “now what is your name?” I would tell her again, smiling, that I was Bennie Joe’s older daughter, Patricia. And again, she would exclaim, “Oh, Bennie Joe! We had such good times back then; I just loved him so much! He was just like a son to me!” My daddy was her nephew by marriage, but she never made a difference that I know of between hers and Uncle Veltman’s kinsfolk. I would tell her again how wonderful it was to get to visit with her and hear her laugh, and hold her hand. Visiting with her that day in her daughter’s lovely home is a memory I hold dear.

How appropriate it was to have those sprinkles fall, making her think of baptism, and have the chance as she so loved to do, to profess her love for God and her hope of heaven. I don’t believe it was coincidence that rain began to fall from an invisible sky.  It told me something I had wondered about for years; a spiritual question I had, and she answered it. I have tears now in my eyes remembering how she taught me from childhood to openly speak of my God, and to proclaim my love for Him. However, not I, nor anyone I have ever met, can do that so beautifully as she did. If she ever loved anything, she loved her God!

This woman, Lorene Farmer Jackson sure loved her man! As my memory holds it, she and Uncle Veltman were just about the best example of ‘one woman for one man’ ever! My favorite story of hers is when she told me about Uncle Veltman hurrying to get dressed for church before she could, and waiting outside at the car. She said she asked him one day, just why he insisted on getting out there so early. She said he winked and said “Red, I just like being out here so I can watch the prettiest girl in the world walking out to me”.  That’s about the same time she told me she kept her hair dyed red “because Veltman liked it that way”. Who does their hair to suit their husband??!! A woman who knows how to love, that’s who.

I was her girl. From 1953 until Brenda was born, “Trish” (said with a southern one syllable becoming two), was her girl. At least that’s what she said, and the way she treated me made a believer out of me. But then, wasn’t that the way she made everyone feel? Doilies, mahogany furniture, pretty dishes and marvelous food made her home a place for all to feel welcomed and of regal upbringing. Those are my memories of her Cleveland, Ohio home. That’s where she and her boy Johnnie pulled me in a little wagon to the store down a brick street. I still love brick streets. I love craftsman houses; stairwells with a landing; windows with fans; and Stroodle – a dish she taught my Mama to make. I love all these because they were the elements of a home where I knew this woman loved me. The same way you love anything that you associate with the people of good memories.

Yes, Aunt Lorene loved. What a great way to be remembered.

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November 26, 2017:  I couldn’t write this as long as she was living, most likely because I knew I couldn’t share it with her as her dementia had overridden her memory. Today, the words are flowing freely as she passed from this life last evening. I like to imagine she is able to know now what I am writing, and I think she would say,  “Oooh Trisha, you always were my girl!”  I love you Aunt Lorene.

“So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind’, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10: 27

Inspiration From the Ocean

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I am not a beach bum, nor am I even a candidate, but here I am, taken in completely by all that the five senses are given to sample. In fact, my body and accessories clearly betray my landlubber’s life. More specifically, the life of a farm dweller, gardener, chief cook and bottle washer has borne the body of anything but a bathing beauty. Yet, there is something so inspiring about the ocean that standing there, I feel my body and soul being swayed and mesmerized. I am suddenly one with the sand, the waves, and the wind. I hear waves of the Spirit speaking, I taste the salty air of desire to never leave, I see a sample of the mighty expanse of creation I’ve only begun to experience. I smell a myriad of odors so unique to the ocean, and I wonder if the incense of world prayers go up in a similar mix. And I feel – oh do we ever feel – warm sand and sun, cool breezes, emotions inexplicable, tickled with the presence of everything out of our ordinary.

At first, I feel terribly heavy and unsteady as I walk in the moving sand. But then it begins to work its magic; the warmth, the designs left by all who’ve touched it, and as the waves roll over my feet I feel myself settling in, anchored by the sand that has shifted around to cradle my feet. Magic. And I wonder, how does it know where to stop, to keep from sweeping all the world right off its feet? In another couple of engulfing waves, my feet begin to feel trapped and I know that it was a false feeling of stability.

I like to sit in one of those short chairs, just barely clearing the sand, you know the ones that some of us find more difficult to get up out of than to drop down into – just in reach of the waves. Some waves reach your feet, cooling, refreshing, tantalizing you to stay and enjoy; to experience the thrill of what treasures may be washed into your hands. Others surprise you and before you know it, you are up to your chest in a splash of salt, sand and shrieks of joy. But evening advances and brings with it higher waters until we gradually become engulfed by the ocean if we don’t move out of its way. A likeness of which we may see in the world as it will surely advance little by little, with pretentious promises of pleasure, shrieking our names, calling us out into it to be drowned in its pride and passions.

How often do we stand amid the world, allowing it to wash over and around us until we are near helpless to pull apart from its hold? Our God, Who created all this foreverness of ocean prevented the waves from joining hands and making one devastatingly powerful wash that would wipe out an entire landscape. He set limits to where the waves may wash. (“Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’ “ Job 38: 8-11 NKJV) And, He has set boundaries for how much the prince and powers of this world may overtake His people today. (“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. I Cor. 10:13) Aside from how absolutely beautiful these waves are, there is admittedly the potential for ugly brute force. As long as we remember to be “in the world”, (or in the ocean waves), and not be “of the world”, (or to be overcome by the waves), we are safe. People on coastlands are cautioned, though sometimes too late, or unheeded, to move to safer, higher grounds and be saved from the mighty rushing water. And so are we cautioned; our magnificent creator didn’t leave us alone to sink or swim. He handed us the ultimate guide in safety; because He knew we would necessarily as well as by choice, be in the world, just as I simply cannot stay out of the ocean.

In any case, from rising flood waters to the frolicking waves at beach’s edge, there is safety in holding onto something stable, of moving back up the beach, out of the reach of the waves. Likewise, the Saviour lugged the heavy cross of salvation to lift us up out of the world, that we may be in it, able to enjoy the awesome variety and wonders of the natural world, but remain unspotted by the wickedness of it.(Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 ESV) We can be in it, exert influence, help and heal, and by the grace of God, be brought out. Out of satan’s reach, out of the sinking sand, raised to walk on higher ground, by the blood of Jesus, praise His name!

From the song “Sun of my Soul”, words by John Keble (w. 1820):  “…til in the ocean of thy love, we lose ourselves in heaven above.”Resized_20171014_180802

Beauty at the Back Door

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I hate to bring you in through the back door, with the dried pea hulls, dead spiders, and bugs a billion, but here is where my Happy Monday moment came to me. Unexpected little pop ups throughout your day can be inconvenient, or perhaps pleasantly impossible to ignore. Either way, I encourage you to stop and – yes, literally – smell the flowers. Even if, and you know it happens, the flowers carry with them a host of hurdles to jump. Thorns, bees, a little pollen up your nose, or the vast array of weeds that do their best to hinder our floral pleasure, can take the shape of a flat tire, forgotten lunch, insufficient fund notices, or any of a  million things you can name right now that may have popped up from day-to-day.

As I hustled through my list (yes I do actually have to have a check-off list to get from point A to point B by the end of the day), I was making my way through the garage, which is a hurdle in and of itself, to take a basket of washed sheets to the clothes line. Please don’t fault me for not taking advantage of the dryer on a busy day, because the time it takes to line dry and bring back in a load of bed linens is small compared to the reward; the fragrance is WAY worth it! So, as I side-ways scooted my way past the car and opened the door to the back yard, an unexpected impasse to my path was met. Over a couple of days, the Rock and Roll rose bush had sprouted two branches that took off in their own direction – across the doorway of the garage. Well, I know they didn’t actually grow to that length in a couple of days, but I hadn’t noticed them yet. So, with a recent rain the new leaves and blooms took on enough weight to cause them to bend into my path. In my prior haste, I’d only made note to myself that I really need to cut that bush back, with the dropping leaves, and scarcely a bloom causing it to be more of a patio problem, than pretty. So what, you are wondering, is the problem with the two new stems? Getting past them with a loaded laundry basket in one arm, and avoiding the thorns with the other. Simply, I was slightly inconvenienced, because I was not turning around and making my way back across that car to go another route. Nor was I about to risk damaging the rose branches! So, I gently brushed them aside, made my way to the line and back, and then I noticed the intense color of the roses, unlike the faded ones at this late date of summer. I stopped and inhaled the beauty of what a tired old raggedy overgrown September rose bush had to offer. Indescribable. A perfume only God can make. And I just stopped, and said “wow, what can You do with me Lord, a tired old raggedy overgrown autumn soul?” He gave me this beauty at my back door, and He gives us a thousand a day. Be encouraged to know he can use us, all of us, in any season, to His glory.

While waiting for that flat tire to be fixed, if you are like me and never learned to do that for yourself, notice the strength in the hands and arms of the one changing the tire. Or, just enjoy a moment to catch a glimpse of the sky while you wait. Either way, there’s bound to be beauty in some of that. And while you’re at it, thank God you weren’t flying down the interstate when it went flat. If someone (yes that would be me) forgot their lunch, sneak in a smiley face and take it to them, or buy their lunch, and watch the glow of gratitude in their eyes. As for insufficient fund notices, I don’t have to tell you how beautiful pay-day is! Actually I have had those bad news bears to make their fiery way to my flaming face before I figured out I have to keep a hidden pad within the account that I do not show in my balance. That took care of that! But even in one of those hideous situations, there was the beauty of knowing I could depend on my good husband to pitch in some funds; also there was the beauty of our home town bank forgiving and waiving the fee on the first offense. Enough personal data!

There really is so much unexpected beauty that makes its way to the door of our hearts. Being invited to a group bible study, and finding an answer to a hidden weight in your heart; or taking the dog ‘out’ ONE MORE TIME, and finding the yard full of Eastern Bluebirds; reaching over to the roughened gnarled hand beside you and finding the security and love of the past 43 years; all these and so many more you could name, are examples of unexpected pleasures that came with a price. Or a leash.

Not long ago, I was going through the McDonald’s line to buy that one-dollar large Diet Coke I don’t need, and decided to buy a couple of large iced teas also, to take to a couple who were working at their newly purchased lake house. At the window, the employee said, “someone in a couple of cars ahead of you paid for two of these already”.  At times, there is so much beauty at the door, I can’t even do a good deed!

I made one of my very infrequent visits to a local nursing home lately. I was thinking, I just have to do this, how would I feel if I were there, this won’t take too long, etc. etc, like I know some of you have thought, too. Right? Just as I entered the room of a gentleman I’ve grown to love over the past few years, his sweet wife was leaving. She said, “Oh, good, he was feeling sort of blue because I’ve got to go before dark.” So, I sat down and just melted into the beauty of his blue eyes, as they brimmed with tears from time to time. Occasionally he would take a breath and let it out, but looking around, he couldn’t think of how to say what he might have wanted to say. He sobbed a bit when he told me it got pretty lonely there; but when I asked about his grandsons he smiled and his eyes sparkled. When I told him I was about to go visit someone else, he perked up some and said, “oh, they live here too?” So after I could no longer keep from commenting on his beautiful eyes, he chuckled and thanked me, and said, “you have pretty eyes, too.” Whether he meant it or not is insignificant; my heart was full! How could I ever again think of a nursing home visit as anything other than a blessing? Beauty at the door.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 a)

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin: and yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ( Matthew 6:28-29 )

Happy Monday!

Happy Birthday Mama

September 16, 2017

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You’re a gentle giant in my heart; still a star in my mind.

Sixty four years since our start, and no-one better could I find!

I’d like to go out ‘bumming’, like we did on Saturdays before.

I’d love to hear you humming that one tune uniquely yours.

You lovingly built, and feathered, and tended my first nest,

and I know even more than ever, it was a start to stand all tests!

I miss your laughter and scolding, your cheeks so soft to touch,

I knew without even asking, that you loved me more than much.

Oh why can’t you read my pages, why can’t we grow old together?

You live in my garden of ages where we learn and love forever.

Love you ‘muchy’ , Trisha

 

 

 

PARTIAL ECLIPSE and POP ROCKS

PARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE DAY, AND POP ROCKS

Here or there. Partly and/or totally obscuring the sun’s presence has put the moon in a prominent position of importance that it hasn’t enjoyed in many years, nor will it for years yet to come. As it turned out that old moon had a strong influence on many decisions of the day. Today, August 21, 2017, has been a day planned for, enjoyed, and discussed mutually by a nation known for its varied interests and opinions. Here in our little piece of the nation, our county was divided, north in the region of totality, with south being 99% totality. I live in the South. I had ample opportunity to travel a few miles north where I could have seen the total eclipse, but was invited to view the partial eclipse with a sweet group of girls I call sister, niece and great nieces. Now, with all the hype I read concerning travel caution and crowds, and my being a fairly unexcitable person (save that thought for later), the choice was easy to spend that time with family. I’ll admit I was thinking this is likely the only time my husband and I will get to experience such a thing together; but he refused to get enthused about it all, and I wasn’t even sure he would go outside to view the eclipse. The cute text I’d received three days earlier was too irresistible anyway to miss the ‘eclipse party’. I’ll partly eclipse the text to read you the cute part: “We are having Sundrop, Sunchips, Moonpies, Pop Rocks, and GF sun cupcakes and ham cheese sandwiches.” I took along an 8-pack of Sunny D, and chose Swiss cheese in honor of the lunar surface (smile). I believe my niece, Jessi and her girls planned that menu.

Safety first. Viewing the eclipse was the topic I heard most, with concern for everyone’s vision. There is something about my planning ahead skills that gets eclipsed by day-to-day routine rubble that never seems to produce anything extraordinary. I’d say the first blessing for my day was the planning ahead skills of my brother-in-law and my sister who knew me all too well and saved eclipse viewing eyewear for my husband and me. Thank you Bob and Kathy.

Nothing new! We awoke this morning with a little more energy than usual, something kin to the first day of summer vacation, or Christmas morning, depending on the kind of kid you were. I kept thinking this is like an unprecedented holiday that everyone shares. I also wondered who’d take the blame if they had missed the timing, or the date in predicting this event; so much for my knowledge of astronomy. I’ll admit a little thought crept into my head about international enemies and how much of our population would be crammed into a band of land across the country. But I eclipsed that thought way before it began to broil. The ‘moon’ that overshadowed it was thinking about how the planets, sun, moon and stars are just up there doing their thing with no regard to our scurrying around to get a peek at it all. God the Creator just spoke this beyond amazing process into action to keep us revolving from one day into another and one life into another and season into season and it almost takes my breath away! But for the words of Ecclesiastes and Amos I would be at a loss for what to think; lost in a world of opinions, superstitions and instability. But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes who gave his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven (1:13) said, “And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us” (1:9-10). Whew, this is no big deal, to the universe anyway. I know it’s all in good hands – the only hands big enough to hold it – as Amos a prophet for God said. “Seek Him that made Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; …the Lord is His name. (Amos 5:8)

Modern technology. With the totality of truth and the Spirit to comfort me, I drove into town with more gratitude for modern technology than I’ve ever had. My son and daughter and I could experience a phenomena of our times together, apart. From Nashville, Tennessee to Golden Pond, Kentucky and myself between the two, we could text and talk our experiences as they developed. A last-minute scare with TV reports of fraudulent eyewear having been issued, caused my first series of fast-paced texting. I was perhaps somewhat excitable at that time. Between “be sure, be very sure…” texts and “what, how do we know…” questions, I experienced just a tad of panic. Thankfully that was eclipsed by a phone call from hubby stating he was indeed on our own patio watching what we were watching too; and using his eclipse glasses properly!

Generational gap. It seems what to one generation is big, changes almost as fast as the 1500 MPH land speed of the moon’s path. This also was brought out by the television news anchors as they mentioned songs with lyrics mentioning the sun. One of the songs they selected was “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” to which I began singing along. My ten-year old great-niece looked at me kind of oddly, and I said, “you’ve heard that, right?” Not even the mention of Bill Withers or Stevie Wonder gained a glimpse of recognition. Her mom later said, “She didn’t even like the DMX version of that song”. Uh, the what??

Thank Goodness for little girls. My misunderstanding of the exact purpose for having eclipse viewing ‘glasses’ became apparent (I mean, why can’t people keep themselves from looking up into the sun anyway) when at last Katja and Izzy persuaded me to step off the patio and look at what was the beginning of the solar eclipse. Oh MY! So, THAT’S what the glasses are for! There in my vision was a golden globe with a small bite out of its 2’oclock. I was hooked. Excited. Amazed. I tapped their mom, on her phone as all her age would be, and said, “You have to see this!” I lost my unexcitable characteristic for the day. We all did. Still we agreed that it would be more sensible to stay and see nearly a total eclipse than to load up and risk missing something just to drive to a location within the edge of totality. Kathy said by the time the girls argued over which glasses were whose, or lost, and so forth, it wouldn’t be worth it. We were happily enjoying our patio lunch, and actually seeing what had been shown us on TV that we would see, when IT happened. At 15 minutes before the peak of total eclipse, a big cloud came over the sun; our excitement was eclipsed in an instant. Like a band of storm chasers, we phoned (no answer at my house) to locate the nearest sunshiny spot, and took off, split into two cars. I laugh now at the sight of the youngest of our bunch grabbing her booster carseat and running across the yard to catch Mimi’s car just as it almost backed over her! But grace covered us in our giggling grasp to save the day.

And now it is history. Parked at the Murray Bank we stood leaning on her car, gazing through cardboard framed glasses at a disappearing sun. Our voices grew louder, and our comments more incredulous. I couldn’t decide what was more odd, the movement of the moon across the sun, or the appearance of deepening dusk, at 1:20 in the afternoon! And then it hit me. The truly incredible thing of it all was the way the sun and the moon pulled us out of our routine into a ring of childlike fun and games; that it put us into a festive frame of mind and brought us together to share a wonder of the universe. Of course, Aunt Trisha had to throw in a word for the Creator of it all, saying “and that’s just a part of how God keeps all the planets in their paths”. However, as we drove back I realized Izzy was way more interested in the way her Pop Rocks sizzled on her tongue than any path of the planets. What a neat day!

Happy Monday – Every Day is a New Day

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Every day has its own bit of uniqueness, a surprise or two here and there. All we have to do is awaken with a willing heart to see, hear, and know. Even if you must follow a routine such as shower, dress the kids, grab a breakfast bar and fly out of the driveway waving  to the dog and realizing you didn’t tell your spouse goodbye, or good morning either for that matter, it can still be special. We’ve all done it; it’s called mundane. But as all that begins to grow old, you’ll realize there’s been a whole other world out there just watching you, waiting for a chance to please you, gifting you with an abundance of God’s grace. It’s called being still and knowing He is God. (smile)

I haven’t been posting my usual Monday snippets of life, partly because of the BUSY season and partly because I feel my enthusiasm over the daily grind of ordinary isn’t quite shared by all. Thank Goodness, it takes different strokes for different folks! If not, how bland that would be! But in a world of worry and weary, I just enjoy pointing out some of the fleeting moments that catch my eye. Those “oooh, something shiny” moments that take our attention away from the mundane, but not so breathtaking that we have to stop what we’re doing. Wait a minute – I just stopped what I was doing in order to share my little day of surprises – and it isn’t at all breathtaking. So, shiny, but not blinding. The Grand Canyon was one of those times that take my breath away; today is just normal stuff that makes life awesome, alive and blessed.

Opening the door this morning to find a gentle rain was my first surprise. It wasn’t storming, dark, nor falling loudly enough for me to know ahead that God had showered us with new blessings in the early morning hours. I now could hear all nature singing “hallelujah, hall-e-lu-u-jah!”  The Psalmist says of God, “You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it…You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth..” (Psalm 65:9,10b)

As I was doing the breakfast dishes I heard a little peck peck peck on the window that looks out onto the front porch, where my husband was sitting  with our Yorkie, watching the morning happen. This by the way, is a practice that has taken me 43 years to enroll him in but I think he is hooked. I stepped to the front door and saw the object of his attention. A sparrow hawk was sitting in our driveway no more than 20-25 yards from the porch steps. Now, being in a rural setting of Western Kentucky makes this no big deal; but actually having it to land and stay a while with people present is not our everyday occurrence. Perhaps I have falsely accused our cat with the deeds of “fowl” play! I ran to get the camera, snap, snap, snap – no, the batteries were too low to capture the picture; back in to get batteries, no AA’s to be found. Back to the porch where he was whispering loudly, “get my phone out of my back pocket” (well, why didn’t he tell me that in the first place?) and being a phone to which I am not accustomed to using for a camera, I fumbled, and alas, the hawk who seemed to know I was just about to succeed, flew.

Later, as I took outgoing mail to the box, I found Saturday’s mail was still there, including a large envelope from Christian Woman Magazine. I’d just about forgotten it was close to time for the September/October issue to be out! Inside is an article by yours truly, and even though I knew it was being published, there’s still that thrill of seeing it in actual print. The article is about the seasons of life, how change must occur, and we must let go of one to take on another. This can be so very difficult for so many reasons. If I can help any of my sisters-in-life on this planet to see the miracles of everyday life snippets, then perhaps that will give a hand up to their next rung on the ladder of life. We’re all on this journey together they say, so Happy Monday, or, ‘happy mundane’! By the way, if you’ve not seen an issue of Christian Woman in the last couple of years, I believe you would find it most enjoyable. Fun and/or serious articles, all interesting, by a variety of authors, sprinkled with recipes and tips for life and study make it hard to put down!

The more things change, the more they stay the same – a quote I heard a long time ago – meant to me that eventually you experience change so much it becomes ‘unchange’; and as the preacher of Ecclesiastes said, “there is no new thing under the sun”. But now, to me it means this: The more life happens, the more change we will endure, and the more change we endure, the more we will come to depend upon the One Who never changes, but provides a hope that is forever the same.  God’s plans are to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 

 

NESTING IN THE PRIVETS

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Do you know how a thing can keep standing for something else in your mind; though it’s perfectly fine in and of itself; but for some reason it beckons you to peek around its corner and see something else hiding. So it is with a shrub in our yard. (Yes, in the South, your house sits in the yard, and the houses up north and the White House have lawns.) So, I knew it was a Privet, but after googling photos, I found that ours is a Chinese Privet; pretty and fragrant, it has become one of our favorites. In my search for the name of what I’d planted years ago, I also found  the following descriptors concerning these shrubs.

Low maintenance hedge & privacy screen

        Adaptable to various types of soil

Drought tolerant!

Low maintenance, screen, adaptable and tolerant – yep, that’s my little bush; and not a bad set of personality traits to desire!

Nesting In The Privets – this title just walked into my head one day as I was mowing, and has been running around in there all spring and summer when I am near our bush. The notion that this is a great place to nest was reinforced as I considered those defining words.

This is the only plant around which I haven’t been able to mow closely, to trim near the truck, and I have really tried, only to have scraped and scratched myself and the mower. Other trees and shrubs however, bear the wounds of my attempts to trim while mowing. In our previous home place with large trees, I committed mower murder by running too close and encountering the tree roots. Here, where we have young trees, there are regrettably, my signature rings around the trunks near the ground made by the edge of my mower deck. The privet, however, is much too wise for me. Strong defenders, especially where I have attempted pruning, stand strong and sharp, unyielding to my intrusion. My legs and arms bear the proof. This is not to the Privet’s dishonor; it has gained my admiration in more ways than one.

Lovely spring fragrance, beautiful variegated foliage, small leaves spaced so that there is a feathery look – who wouldn’t want to live there? Whereas I can’t get a 40 something inch mower deck into the midst of the grass beneath, the birds can build a house and live in it! Good for them! These are not cat climbing limbs. With a thick growth habit of closely spaced narrow limbs, it discourages intruders. I haven’t noticed our cat even mildly interested in invading this space. If Mother Nature talks among her offspring, then I imagine she has encouraged Mrs. Mockingbird with whispers of “screen, privacy, and adaptable’. Sitting atop this Privet, the mockingbirds call out threats against our furry four-legged family members, from halfway across the yard. It seems they have found an ideal fort from which to launch their new families.

Are we as careful and concerned about the environment in which we bring our brand new little nestlings? As they become fledglings, are we watching them from the best vantage point, protecting them from predators with the ferocity of a mother bird and wielding strong stems against the intruders of our homes?

Does not Mother Nature herself, even if we didn’t have the Word of God to guide us, tell us to protect our young? The natural tendency of a mother and father is to provide for their children, including shelter. The physical shelter I see provided by the Privet is such a great example of the spiritual and emotional shelter we as parents and relatives need to be seeking for our precious children.

In line with the descriptors for this Privet, parents need to be tolerant and adaptable. Tolerant with the natural calamities of growing up, not in the sense of spoiling, or tolerating the misbehaving; that would only lead them downhill in the character department. Kids are going to have melt-downs over real stressors at times; they need us to be tolerant and tough for them as they strive to thrive through it all. If you thought life was about changes before, then you really discovered “life-changing” after you became parents! Adapt, adapt, adapt! All children are different, and so will the toleration levels be different, as well as the need to adapt to stages of child development. If we look at them with the eyes of Jesus, and pray REAL hard as we search HIs word for guidance, we’re going to find our little birds successfully ready for flight before we know it!

As parents, we hopefully have had our day in the limelight, and now would be a good time to seek low maintenance status. My husband and I have agreed on this one thing in child rearing – they did not ask to be born. We asked for them. We took on this responsibility and have gladly set aside some wants to fulfill their needs. It’s never been about sacrifice – rather, it’s been a privilege to seek less of self and enjoy the sweet charges with whom God entrusted us; making provisions as He enables us to do.

I’ll tell you something else about this Privet. When the strong southwest wind sweeps across our property, all the other trees bow in its presence. But this Privet bush stands its ground. I’ve hardly ever seen it bending with the wind. Ill winds will blow in our children’s lives; count on it. So be a Privet to hold your nest; screen the view until the young are mature enough to see all the ugly and still make wise decisions. Adapt and tolerate when those harsh winds blow and there’s an arid blight in their circle of the world, so that they will know your strong branches will catch them if they fall. And most importantly, point them to Jesus, so that they will know their creator, and will have a home to fly away to someday. Don’t forget low maintenance; if their support system is whiney and delicate, they learn to be needy and fearful. Low maintenance people are able to enjoy the real values in other.

I want to close this with a poem given to me by my great-aunt, Treva Jones Darnell, many years ago.

BE THE BEST

If you can’t be the pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley – but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make.
If you can’t be a “muskie” then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake.
We can’t all be captains, some have to be a crew,
There’s something for all of us here;
There’s work to be done, and we’ve all got to do
Our part in the way that’s sincere.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail,
Be the best of whatever you are.

                                                                                                               …..Unknown