Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Holiday Tinnitus

As is the norm in our century-plus old farmhouse a two hour project often takes up the whole day. Such was the case when hubby and I installed a new ceiling fan with light. We struggled and laughed, got frustrated, and stepped out of the clamor more than once to refocus. 

At the end of the day the fan was finally connected to the power source and firmly mounted to its support. I flipped the 'On' switch and watched as the blades happily twirled on the base. An added bonus were lights that no longer flickered with every gyration of the whirligig. But the best part was the sound of silence. Instead of a rickety racket rotation the only feedback was a serene hum. As I stood there admiring my handiwork my mind searched for the last time I tuned in to the sound of silence. 

In this technical age we are surrounded by modern noise. Sirens and signals scream at us. Traffic jams in our head. Cell phones call us to attention. Larger than life flat screens blare across the room and music blooms from tiny buds in our ears. The sound of silence is deafened by noise. In addition to this daily commotion we will also soon suffer from what I call holiday tinnitus − the ringing of the busiest season of the year. 

Holiday tinnitus causes silence to compete on two levels. Not only with our media mania but also with the very season that is meant to bring quiet moments of reflection, thanksgiving, and peace. 

 With the added cacophony of gobbling turkeys, Black Friday, and silver bells, we chance becoming dull to the din around us. We drown out the silence of a leaf dropped from the hands of a maple and become numb to the pure quiet of wax running down the side of a candle.  

How do we arrange a silent bouquet in this arose such a clatter? Try snipping off those distractions that deafen the sound of silence; for example, the television, computer, and ipod. Disconnect from your routine. Step over to the other side of prayer and just listen. Grab a notebook and write what you hear. You might be surprised to find that in the absence of noise there is serene feedback. 

 When we consciously snip back the thorny distractions of our lives and step out of the clamor into the quiet presence of God. He is there waiting for us. When we stop long enough to experience the sound of silence He will speak. The voice we hear in the absence of noise will encourage, inspire, and heal us. We will find our self connected to the power source that will support us even in the rickety racket rotation of life and the ringing of holiday tinnitus.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just an Ordinary Morning

When my feet hit the floor my internal temperature guide immediately told me it was a crisp September morning. It was the first of the season. The leaves on the trees were still green, and the grass was still a faded funky color from the dry summer. In the east the early dark clouds formed a line of peaks that reminded me of the Rocky Mountain skyline I saw many years ago.

It was Labor Day weekend and while many were tying up the ends of their summer vacations, or enjoying the last of their cookouts I was intent on laboring to finish up summer projects and chores. Hubby had to work the car lot because their Labor Day sale was in full force. So, like many other daybreaks it was the usual routine. But even in routine every once in a while something comes along to make a mundane morning something more. 

That morning as usual my tiny canine fur ball signaled her need to use the Pomeranian potty so like every other dawn I scooped her up in the palm of my hand and set her gently on the front lawn. When I looked up I saw a bicyclist making his way down our country road. This was no ordinary cyclist, or rather he was an Ordinary cyclist. Yes, you read me write. I mean right. Now I'm confused. Was he ordinary or wasn't he? Okay enough play on words. 

That particular cyclist was riding an Ordinary and he was dressed the part. With short trunks and knee high stockings, old fashioned button shoes, and a vintage sweater it looked as though he had just pedaled his way out of an eighteen hundred something photograph. The image he evoked was a pleasant scene definitely out of the ordinary. 

I paused on my front porch taking in the impression of a time gone by. Perhaps it was an occasion when one might have enjoyed more of the simple pleasures, like the unfolding of a rosebud or the peaceful lull of a Mourning Dove's coo. A period when handlebars were mustaches and the only bustle was on the back of a woman's dress. It was a season of ballgowns and grand hotels. A tea-time lingering of friends. Possibly it was a time when we could ignore time. When we could forget for a little bit that we reside in a grown up world of schedules and routines. 

For a few moments I stood somewhere in time, wrapped in the simplicity of an era of afternoons in the park and the clip clop of horses hooves on cobblestones. In a wrinkle in time I let the cares of my day wheel away with a penny-farthing cyclist on a high wheeler, and I was thankful for just an Ordinary morning.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Well Water Runs Deep

It's a refreshingly beautiful day after a stretch of intense heat and I am sitting on my porch swing enjoying the balmy afternoon breeze. All decked out in her brightest swim suit and playing on the deck is my youngest grandchild Maggie. Her blond, natural curls are more tightly wound from the humidity of the past few days. The outside spigot is turned to a sizable trickle and there is enough water for her to repeatedly fill and empty her neon pink bucket. Occasionally she bends forward to sip the ice cold water snaking through the faded green hose, well water that runs deep within the earth on our three acre plot.

I  had the joy of watching Maggie grow for the past year and a half. But in a few days she will be off with her mother to start a new life in California. I am already feeling the familiar deep sadness of parting. Saying goodbye is never easy for me. Whether by death or a new life, moving across town or leaving the country to live in a tropical paradise, each parting holds its own melancholic circumstance.

The former days of 'goodbyes' quickly hoist the main sail and set me on a course toward nostalgia. I miss my own babies and waves of memories crash upon me.

Suddenly I am washed up on the shore of the 'other' house. There my family spent endless hours in our swimming pool. City living in the August heat with no air conditioning made us all thankful for that round pool of water. Sometimes we would swim until midnight to cool down before bed. Summer Sundays after church were almost a regimen with the kids enjoying their dad's secret recipe hamburgers on the grill and swimming all day. Once he made a giant burger. I still can't figure out how he flipped it without breaking it into pieces. I remember one morning I found a small hole in the pool wall. I imagined the worst when I discovered a bullet at the bottom of the water. To this day I am still grateful none of my babies were swimming when that 45 was fired. That experience was the biggest reason we sold the 'other' house. 

An old gray stockade fence outlined our tiny back yard edged with flower beds. My only son plucked those flowers from their bed to give a tiny bouquet to his kindergarten teacher. When his baby sister was born he took a picture to show Mrs. Margis and a bully on the playground ripped it out of his hands. David punched him right in the nose. 

An audience of daisies and lilies watched as my little Theresa and I played catch with a beach ball nearly as big as she was. The magnolia tree that was a Mother's Day present flowered twice in one summer and a lilac bush in the corner became a fort for David and Rachel to spy on the neighbors. In that yard we designed and built a wheelchair ramp for our oldest daughter, Sharon. The ramp became a sledding wonder in winter. Once, our Doberman Pinscher, who thought my children were her children, jumped over the aged, weathered fence to protect them from a fight between opposing school students. 

 David and his baby sister, Rebekah

Theresa and the beach ball

Heidi, the Doberman guardian

The most special Christmas Eve at the 'other' house was when Theresa was born. She was my joy baby. After the trauma of Sharon's birth and all the hardship that followed, I spent seven years questioning, grieving, and living with the fear of another 'bad' doctor delivery. But Theresa's birth was natural, uncomplicated and pure joy. That night in the hospital they brought her to me in a bright red stocking. Santa couldn't have picked a better gift! The saddest Christmas Eve was after my father-in-law passed away and I saw the pain and loss in my children's eyes for the grandpa they loved so much. 

 Me, Sharon, baby Theresa, and Rick

The last of five children, my baby, Rebekah, was born at the 'other' house. She was my healing baby. My mother passed away and on top of that I was deeply hurt in the church we were attending. When Bekah was born, I needed her as much as she needed me. I remember the day she was knocked off her bike by a neighborhood bully. He ran over her fingers and she had a bump by her left eye. The police officer who answered my complaint gave her a teddy bear for being so brave. Teddy was part of the Bear With Me program set up for children in crisis situations. Bekah's crisis was minor but I appreciated Officer Freeman's compassion.

Hubby and I literally saved our quarters at the 'other' house to build a one car garage. Whenever we had a few spare dollars we converted them to quarters and dropped them in a huge glass piggy that took up a corner of our bedroom. We often stockpiled our glass deposit Pepsi bottles to get our quarters back just to feed piggy. Eventually the garage was built and our little Rachel pushed her nose up against it in a pout more than once. One winter a giant heater kept that garage warm while Rick and I painted a sign on my father-in-law's old work van that we inherited for our business, "Mokry Carpet Service". 

 Rachel and the cutest pout ever

The kitchen in the 'other' house was small but we managed to squeeze all seven of us around the table for dinner. We had a patio door to the backyard which made the little mess hall feel bigger but our driveway was the only view from the side window. That landed a memory the day my blond haired little boy stood there singing an ode to the big, yellow sun. Even at the tender age of three he revered its warmth.  It's no wonder to me now that he has chosen to live in Brazil. 

Before we finished the basement in the 'other' house the sewer backed up and destroyed pictures, journals, yearbooks, and other sentiments. I cried while I mopped up the stale water and sopping mess. After some repairs I dried out the basement and my tears, then built a giant pink bedroom and a bathroom for our girls. Sharon loved the independence of the new back door with remote opener, and an electric lift on the basement stairs so she could have wheelchair access. Theresa, David, Rachel, and Rebekah found hours of entertainment using the lift as a carnival ride. We still laugh about the time their dad and I raised the lift and trapped them in the basement and David scaled up and over it to free his sisters.

I remember the last bittersweet summer in the 'other' house ended with a For Sale sign crowned with a big red Sold. Sweet water memories were washed away with the pool the new owners didn't want.

A giggle of Maggie's laughter pulls me from my nostalgic journey and I return to 'this' house. A 130 year old homestead that houses its own memories. Good, bad, tragic, sad, funny old memories. Memories as deep as a well, pulled up in the watery bucket of my mind to be poured out for my children and grandchildren. Because some day they might sit on their own porch swing and journey back over their life in the 'other' house or 'this' one where well water runs deep.   

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop Bubble Wrap

It was 3:45 am on the morning of February 19, 2004. That was the as time I arrived at the airport to make the flight to Atlanta, and from there onto El Salvador. It was my first missions trip as well as my first trip out of the United States.

Leaving the freedom of America to arrive in a country where guards stand ready with rifles was disturbing to say the least. I handed my passport over to the customs official and was struck with the gravity of giving away the little book that held my American identity. Then I glanced down at his desk and saw a tract. The official looked up and our eyes locked. 

Speaking English with a heavy Spanish accent he asked, "Are you a Christian?"

Without hesitation I answered with a smile, "Yes, I am."

To my delight he said, "Me too!" 

In that moment God erased any fear and uncertainty that marked my heart. I knew I was in the right place at the right time with my Righteous Companion.

Boarding a bus I left the city streets lined with open markets and traveled through green and luscious country. Flowers and plants sown together quilted the land while giant parasol palm trees shaded the countryside. Inactive volcanoes were mountains that had blown their tops, and tapestry rock walls hung like draperies. The beauty that surrounded me made it hard to believe the country housed such poverty.

Shanties made from tree posts and ribbed steel marred the landscape. Some hung precariously on the crags as if bemoaning their tenants to onto life by their fingertips. The inhabitants were people too poor to buy even a candle to light their house at night. 

Amidst this poverty I was grateful for the missionary directing my team. He was a big Norwegian with a bigger heart and a delightful character. He loved the people he served and considered the country of El Salvador a book of tales to tell. With five languages under his belt and a wealth of knowledge he told grand stories. But the story he told about the children was the most heartbreaking.  

Seeing them in his words changed my life forever. I wept when I heard about the dirty, lice infested, and hungry little waifs without homes. More than 400,000 children were orphaned or unwanted. They lived in herds like animals and fended for themselves. They survived on what they could find and dug in garbage heaps to fill their hungry bellies. Right then with God's help I was determined to make a pocket sized difference in the few short days ahead.

My team's job was to build small houses made of block in a dirt poor, mountain community. There the children would shyly peek over the small wall that housed us and our supplies. Sad and curious dark eyes questioned our intentions yet yearned for a smile or a piece of candy. Over that wall is where I first saw Lupe.

A mess of strings and curls framed her beautiful brown eyes. Her blue t-shirt was grimy and worn, her tawny skin smudged with dirt. Unlike the other little ones she was wary of my alien presence in her world and would not peer into my surroundings. Instead she sat on the ground playing with a discarded syringe and watched from a distance.

The next morning armed with licorice and a warm, wide smile I coaxed her playmates inside the area. Lupe watched and after a few cautious minutes she approached the wall. Folding her small arms, she rested her head upon them and peered over the blocks. Her round eyes betrayed her aloofness. The curiosity and desire for candy and attention was clearly visible. Later that day with a little help from her friends Lupe wandered into my space and heart. But it wasn't the Twizzlers and hugs that made Lupe smile, it was Bubble Wrap. 

Over the next days with the children playing in our living space the team and I needed to childproof. One of the first precautions we took was to wrap the re-bar. While wrapping the rods with air filled plastic I couldn't resist popping a few bubbles and glanced over to see a troop of young eyes watching with wonder. The widest of them were Lupe's. Bubble Wrap had cracked the code to her world and earned her trust. She sat on the dirt floor happily popping bubbles and before long we were repeating together 'snap, crackle, pop bubble wrap!"

The last day in the small village was bittersweet. I was exhausted and ready to return to my own family, but I knew I would miss Lupe as well. I helped to load the supplies and finally it was time to leave. The little clan of miniature Salvadorans came running to say their goodbyes. At the head of the pack was Lupe. She ran straight to me and wrapped her sweet honey arms around my neck. Happy, sad tears filled my eyes. I enfolded her in my love and from behind my back I pulled a small roll of Bubble Wrap, a gift just for her.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And when he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (Matthew 19:14 NIV)  

My missions trip wrote a new chapter in my life. I have gone on from there. I've realized that more than my life or my work, God wrapped His love for Lupe in Bubble Wrap. He used the snap, crackle, pop to make a pocket sized difference in one small life. Not so different from another time in a poor, rural stable when He wrapped His love for you and I in swaddling clothes. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils

One of my favorite movie quotes hails from You've Got Mail. “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies...".

I don't live in New York and the days of school are far behind me, but I still love parading the aisles of school supplies. There before me lies a delicious buffet of Autumn goodies too good to pass up. The table is set with paper place settings and stylish utensils of pens and highlighters. Rainbow markers call out "sit here". In the center of it all is a chipper bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.

In these academic treasures come bite size lessons for life.

Rows of spiral notebooks line up with their coats of many colors. They remind me that even when I am deep in the pit and it feels like things are spiraling out of control, God holds the pages of my life together.

Sometimes things are dull and the manna tasteless. Highlighters cause the blessings in my life to stand out. The neon accents give attention to the small miracles that I might otherwise overlook.

Staples large and small call to mind the Great Provider. He provides me with the staples of life, and all things for my enjoyment. But greater still for the strength to face adversity.

Gloriously bright markers color a rainbow in my heart. They mark a place for me to remember the promises set forth by the One who never breaks a promise. Great is His faithfulness!

Overload is a natural part of life and stress is unavoidable. Clip-its of all sorts and sizes snap my attention. They help me remember that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. I am forever clipped to the One who always has a grip.

Post-its, those cute little stickys that hold a quick note make me take note of important things. Love, acceptance, and forgiveness should stick with me every day.

And finally at the center of it all, a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils. I am given an endless supply of ability to express my thankfulness. The lead of gratefulness keeps my relationship with God sharp and points me in the right direction. When I stray, the eraser end tells me of the grace my Heavenly Father uses to rub out my mistakes and give me a fresh start.

The store shelves are lined with necessities for learning. All of those Autumn treats usher me into a new semester of knowledge. And God is the teacher who gives me something to take home besides homework. 

"It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Money, A Room, and Fiction

Virginia Woolf said, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." I have neither. What I do have is two articles in the August issue of the Ruby for Women Ezine. Yes, I am excited about this.

You see, I was born way back in 1952 to an abused mother, and a father who excessively indulged in alcohol thereby multiplying his angry and mean nature. My maternal grandfather lived with us as well, and he was also fond of the 'devil's brew'. There was a lot of abuse in my family while I was growing up, some of it done to me.

I know, I know, there are those who say "get over it!" But that is something I will never get over. Thank God! It gave me strength to deal with more heartbreaking adversity and made me who I am. I struggled and dragged myself through some pretty tough territory to get to greener pastures. The kind my Lord "maketh me to lie down" in right next to the "still waters."   

In my early years I was too busy surviving life to write about it. After I married and my first daughter suffered a birth injury at the hands of the Obstetrician, I did even more surviving. If you've read some of my past blogs you have an idea of what I'm talking about. But these days I survive less and live more. I find a few free moments to jot down my thoughts here at "The Best..." and I thoroughly enjoy doing so.  

More often than not I stumble along, some days staring at a blank computer screen and other days thinking, "can I write that?" Then I remind myself, 'it's my bloggy and I'll write what I want to, write what I want to!'

I love my blog, I love to write, and I am still learning to love my life. Now, if I just had money and a room of my own I might write fiction :)



Friday, July 1, 2011

My July

The J in my July follows June. It tells me its time to celebrate the joy of Independence Day and jostle times for picnics, parades, and fireworks. If I am fortunate I will listen to the jeers of my grandchildren as they jump into the cool, blue water of my swimming pool. On the mid summer night I will journey to quieter places among the stars and the jabber of Jays in the morning mist will wake me. I will try to jam a years worth of warmth into this month to last through the cold of the coming winter. Jesus will find me on the porch swing at sunrise and we will talk of everything from jelly beans to Jupiter. 

The U in my July finds me remembering those in uniform who give everything so I can enjoy the freedom favored in this month. I will busy myself uncovering one man's junk and another man's treasure as I unpack the mess that has accumulated here and there. When the soft rain falls on a hot day I will breathe in the unique scent of the summer. One day I will remember unicorns collected over the years and question some things I don't understand. That same day I will lay a rose in an urn over the grave of my daughter and utter the words, "I love you and miss you." And the One who holds the universe will be there holding my heart.

The L in my July falls somewhere in the middle and lingers for a short time. The daylight is longer but my month grows shorter and I long for more lazy, hazy days. As luck would have it the lawn has settled down in the dryer days and I find more time to live, laugh, and love. I have learned from my past Julys that warmth doesn't last forever. Soon the leaves will turn and life on this earth will grow cold. But for now balmy evenings and twilight are lure for the fireflies that make the landscape sparkle and the expanse of constellations look down in starry shapes against a midnight sky. I lift my eyes to my Lord and thank Him for the heavens and the earth in all their vast array.

The Y in my July finishes my month. I gaze upon my yard and see the red, white and blue has faded, and the fireworks are silent. The celebration of yesterday has said its farewells and withdrawn until next year. The Yankee Doodle dandy of a month has come to an end. A yawn overtakes me and I feel a sudden yearning in my heart to be young once again. Yet, a few yellow birds alight on the feeder and I hear the yodelayheehoo of their triumphant exclamation. Their spirited celebration reminds me it is for freedom Christ has set me free and the yoke I now carry is easy and the burden light. 

The sun has now set on my July and I look forward to the dawn of August.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

He Walks the Lot

My story begins early in the morning when my car salesman hubby pulls his tired, old body from the bed at the latest possible minute. Dragging his back bumper to the bathroom is not an easy task since he put on a few pounds during the long winter hiatus of sales. In spite of moving hundreds of cars around the lot in blizzard conditions and cleaning them off with every snow fall his mid section has more capacity than he needs. Now begins the work to make a classic look good enough to compete with younger counterparts. 

After a wash he hesitates to wipe the steam from the mirror knowing the old model is far from the best on the lot. Applying a trim package, some body work and new top coat, he gasses up on caffeine and heads toward the door repeating to himself, "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful". His number one cellular device is revved up and strapped to his hip as he lunges out followed by my send off, "Go get 'em tiger!"

First mark on the agenda is the customary daily sales meeting. His positive attitude is now in the toilet after being told he couldn't sell a camel to legless nomad. But, there are always those worthless sales incentives to raise his moral and make him want to sell his mother-in-law. After all who wouldn't want a $10 Starbucks gift card or a one night stay in Aruba...plane ticket and meals NOT included.

Barely escaping the meeting with bits of his self image still in tact, he heads for the lot. A breath of fresh air and a two mile walk is just what he needs to polish those abrasions and renew his scrapped attitude.

A few phone calls later and more walks around the lot he returns to the showroom. He heads for the coffee pot and pours himself a cup of the steamy brew. Just as he's ready to take a sip he spies a customer. It's his cousin. After spending hours locating exactly what cousin wants, cousin says he can get a better deal down the street. The coffee is now old and cold, and my old hat is short on lunch and sales.

Sitting down at his desk he takes a few minutes to lasso his sanity and writes a note to self to remove cousin from family tree. All at once a text appears on his cell, his desk phone rings, and he's paged at the same time. Excitedly, he reaches for the desk phone first and his chair rolls out from under him. His keister is now planted firmly on the floor and the entire sales staff is hovered around thinking grandpa had a heart attack.

For the remainder of his twelve hour stint he bears the brunt of being the joke of the day.

Finally, he catches an up (what the sales staff calls a customer) looking to test drive a brand spanking new SUV. He patiently explains all the extras, and listens to the customer rave about all the things he likes in the vehicle. Getting a little excited about the mini he will make on this sale that will buy groceries for a week, he returns from the test drive and offers to buy customer a soda or water. Customer accepts the water, thanks him for the test drive and says I don't want to buy I just wanted to see how it handled. 

Now, after hours of down time and fruitless phone calls, at the lowest point of his day the manager approaches and tells him to get a hair cut, glasses, a crown on that front tooth, and fix the bum knee. He tells manager to lower the quota so he can get the commission he deserves. Manager tells him if they did that they would have to pay him higher commission...:/

Catching another up he discovers customer is interested in a used vehicle. He can't help but be a little hopeful since this would be the only sale in his day. They find good camaraderie and a vehicle customer likes. They test drive, agree on a trade in, decide on a number, write up a contract and customer enters finance. Mean while my lot walker is doing the math in his head figuring how many more of these he needs to make monthly mortgage payment. An hour later customer emerges from finance looking disappointed.

A delivery for a sales consultant friend takes up the rest of his evening and for three hours work his commission is a free lunch.

Eight forty five arrives and he relishes the fact that in fifteen minutes he can go home. Surprise! A customer that's come in twice before at the same time of day says he's decided on a vehicle. My old rolls royce is on a roll figuring he can end the day on the upside. After more test driving, dealing, and numbers customer says I'll be back next week.

Leaving the dealership, he reminds himself he has a delivery the next day...his day off.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why I Blog

 I blog because I'm in a tizzy.
I blog to keep my fingers busy.

I blog in mourning or in joy.
I blog about my girls and boy.

I blog at sunrise in the park.
I blog at sunset in the dark.

I blog to gripe, bemoan my life.
I blog to rid me stress and strife. 

I blog the facts and fiction too.
I blog about my woes and blues.

I blog a lot when I am bored.
I blog to tell about my Lord.

I blog when I am on the spot.
I blog with everything I've got. 

I blog because I've got a plan.
I am my blogs most favorite fan.

 I blog to keep my wee mind sane.
Not to blog would be a pain!

And THAT is why I blog.  

Written in response to this weeks The Writer's Club prompts:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saying Goodbye to 'Friends'

Well folks, here I am, just a small engine in a great big world that believed I could pull a challenge over the hill. I started out with only a little steam, repeating to myself, "I think I can...I think I can!", and I am finishing up tonight with, "I knew I could, I knew I could!"  

This is my last entry in the challenge to blog every day during the month of January on the theme of 'Friends'. It isn't a super stupendous success story. It isn't even a major achievement, but it is satisfying. I think any time we can accomplish something that stretches us even a little bit, makes us hold to a commitment, and tests our fortitude, it can be tremendously enlivening. 

My hilly excursion has been fun, frustrating, exasperating, and exciting all rolled into one locomotive of emotion. It has tested the tracks of some my friendships, brought me new ones, and deepened old ones. I have learned, discovered, and remembered, all because I accepted a minor summons to script a few 'friends'.

I hope you've enjoyed the quips and quotes, scripts and scraps, and all the other 'friendly' rabble as much as I have, because if you have it has made my journey all the more meaningful. 

Now, I am going to say goodbye to 'Friends' and celebrate my minor accomplishment with a glass of whatever in my 'Mommy's Sippy Cup', and then I am going to snuggle up in my nice warm bed and dream of a place on this winter's night, where if I dream with all my might, I'll find a land of writers small, where in this land live blogs, that's all.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where Seldom is Heard a Discouraging Word Friends

You know the ones. They love you on your best and worst days. You can royally screw up or regally reign rightly and they are there beside you, to offer a shoulder to cry on or a hands together rousing cheer. They are the kind of friends where seldom is heard a discouraging word. In an effort to be that kind of a friend, I am going to offer you some encouraging words.

Maybe today was one of your royal screw-up days. Perhaps you overslept, got up on the wrong side of the bed, or didn't get out of bed at all. Maybe you burned breakfast, yourself or your spouse. Worse, maybe you got chewed up and spit out or maybe you did the chewing up and the spitting out. Whatever made this a messy mess up day, it's over. Stop turning the thumbscrews and put that screwdriver back in the pouch. 

Today is a new day with no mistakes in it. For breakfast serve up a plate full of love, a bowl of appreciation, and a glass filled with gratitude. Remember that a bend in the road is not the end of the road, just turn with it. Life is more than a game so throw out those spades you use to dig yourself deeper, and those clubs you use to beat others over the head, and play real life with a heart. 

You got this!
Way to go buddy!
You are awesome!
That was amazing!
I think it's great that you're here! 

Edward Thorndike said, "Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure."  I hope I've helped you endure. Now, go get 'em tiger!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'd Walk A Mile For A Friend

While keeping with the theme of 'Friends', I thought it would be a good exercise to write a story about someone else.  After all, to write about ones self is not as challenging as telling the story of another, and putting it in your own words while still holding to their personality, character and feelings. 

I gathered information, reading over and over again the words of the one sharing their story.  I tried to put myself in their place, and to feel what they felt. When I thought I was ready I began to organize. I wrote, edited, wrote, and edited. Finally, one night, tired and a bit frazzled by the problems of the day I finished the last line and hit "publish post". 

The next morning, while reading through some comments I discovered a confirmation that although I thought the story to be good, there were parts that could have been misleading or misunderstood,  and paragraphs that could have better expounded on the heartache and drama of the story itself. This was important to me. Not for me, but for my friend. So, it was back to the keyboard once again to write until I got it right. I am so glad I did. 

In touching the heart of a friend there are abundant blessings. In moving another to cause them to walk in the sorrowful shoes of compassion is akin to touching the hem of God. To know I have touched the lives of others through the story of someone else is worth the walk. In that extra mile there are blessings, beauty, and abundance just waiting to be discovered.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Not So Friendly, Friendly Network

Morning came all too quickly. It was already a little past my normal rising time, so I forced myself to abandon my cozy covers. The icy air blasted me awake and I headed for the thermostat. Winters are budget breakers. When the sun goes down on my day so does the thermostat, but I refuse to keep it at an all time low first thing in the morning. Warm air and hot coffee are a winter staple in my house.  

Soon the growling drip, drip, drip, and the aromatic brew filled the house. I poured the brown, steamy liquid into my favorite cup and headed for the computer. A quick glance at the news and weather revealed nothing spectacular. I should have resisted the urge to keep my tush planted in the chair, but I gave in to the temptation to 'lolly-google' around and logged on to a social network. 

I wish I had not. There before me were the not-so-friendly words. I sat dazed for a moment, then reread the lines. I took a deep breath and began to analyze the content on the screen, and searched my mind and soul seeking cause for the criticism. 

I did nothing to earn the disdain and insult of friends turned fiends. So, when I tune in to a headliner or a one-liner directed to reduce me to fine print, my ink runs. Now, I have a few things to say. 

I think it's sad that something that was started to bring people together, to connect us to each other has sunk to the low level of criticism, and is now mostly google gossip, and faceless feuds. How easy it has become to post a comment on a screen. The unfriendly, friendly network is becoming more and more a hub to the desensitized society of the social network. It is a heartless as well. People ignore the fact that on the other end of their faceless attacks is a flesh and blood person with feelings. 

To all those who think they can say whatever they want, whenever they want, and never take into account the other person's feelings, I have this to say. It doesn't make you bigger to make someone else smaller, it doesn't make you right to 'correct' others, and beating someone down with a gavel of gaggle doesn't make you a judge.

To those who have said, "I don't know how you will feel at the end of this conversation, but I'm going to feel a whole lot better!"; to that score of people who nailed someone to the wall for no good reason except their own agenda; to those who think they can use people as placeholders until someone better comes along; to all of those people I say, I am not wasting my feelings on those criticisms anymore. Please pull that knife out of my back and stick it in your sheath. There is no such thing as obligatory relationship. I will love you from a distance. 

Finally, to those who have stuck with me through thick and thin,  who have encouraged me and loved me into the person I am and the person I am becoming. You are the ones who live it out, who breathe life into others, and walk the twain mile in other peoples' shoes. I want to say, Thank You! I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Tried and True Facebook Friend

As is common with Facebook, many of us accept friend requests from people because they know someone who knows someone who knows us. That is how I met Debbie.

Her profile isn't so different than some of the rest of us. Debbie has children and grandchildren whom she loves to pieces. She lives with her husband, and an adopted bird, and three dogs. They live in a modest home in the western United States and she refers to it as their money pit. She works to help make ends meet. Baking, cooking and crocheting are among her talents. She also creates spectacular quilts. Her generosity and good works follow her, and her kind heart is as warm as the hearth beside a cozy fire. 

Debbie married the sweetheart of her youth. He lived just five doors down from her house and referred to her as the girl with the pink curtains. There weren't many girls on that street, and the guys were always short a ball player, so Debbie would stand in and pitch for them. It was enough for the time being that she was just friends with David because her father often called him DDT, for David D Trouble. As with many childhood sweethearts though, David and Debbie built a foundation upon their friendship and soon they grew to love each other. She cried on his shoulder, and he told all the boys in the neighborhood that he was going to marry her. 

Being just sixteen Debbie encountered a bit of friction announcing her plans to wed David. He was no older than she, and he had a wild side. They were just two young kids, wet behind the ears, wanting to plunge into the ocean of matrimony. Their marriage was held in such low regard, and the perceived chance of making it was such a longshot that even the preacher bet against them. 

Like many marriages there were rough spots that needed sanding and they worked those out together. One major change took place the day Debbie announced that they were moving to another city in Arizona. She told David he could either come or stay, but the drinking was staying behind. 

It was the beginning of a new life, but not without heartache. Their youngest son, Scottie, especially liked his new home. Here he could hunt, and fish, and he loved the snow. He was a good boy, and a hard worker. He liked helping out at the grooming shop where Debbie worked, and loved being around the dogs. Many times he could be found dragging home a stray by a rope around their neck, or giving away puppies on the corner. He wasn't perfect, but was never bad. To Debbie, he was mama's boy, and he aimed to please her. 

Scottie was deaf until the age of three, when they discovered enlarged adenoids were causing his hearing loss. With surgery he gained his hearing, but his speech was littered with the leftovers of that impairment. Sometimes, he had to endure the taunts and teasing of the neighborhood bullies until one day after a little encouragement from David to stand up to them, he picked up a motorcycle shock and cleaned house. That day he earned their respect.

The worst tragedy of Debbie's life happened one day while David's parents were visiting. Scottie and two of his friends were on their way to Tucson to pick up his friend's brother, Scottie's best friend. David didn't want him to go, but the child's pout moved his mother's heart and Debbie gave in to the look. Soon, the three boys were on their way with a full tank of gas and full smiles. Failing an attempt to pass a car, and instead of getting back in the line of traffic, they misjudged and headed to the opposite side. The car was struck and burst into flames. Scottie and the other two boys were killed instantly. There was nothing left of the car but the frame.

Debbie was gone shopping and David was doing yard work when the highway patrol approached him with the most horrible news of his life, but his ordeal was not over. He was also face to face with the worst thing he ever had to do, break the news to  Debbie, the mother of his sweet boy. His nightmare continued as he told Scottie's brothers, and the rest of their loved ones. With all three families frozen in gut retching shock and sorrow, and the boys remains unreleased far from home, David drew on a strength and presence from deep within. He took the lead and arranged and paid the expenses for all three boys to be brought home together.

Three boys and three funerals in three days; Debbie's baby, her Scottie, one of them. Standing before a closed casket, Debbie recalled the weeks before Scottie died. David's grandmother was in the hospital, and the family went to say their goodbyes to her. They all took turns and hugged her neck and Scottie was the last in line. She hugged him longer and told him she would see him on the other side.

Debbie's work helped her to get out of bed in the mornings and she forced herself to be strong for David and her other two boys. After a few months, dazed and drained, she fell apart. Thanksgiving that year Debbie told her mom she had nothing to be thankful for, but her faith would not let her go. 

In the night God reminded her that He spared her son Luke. Just a short time before the accident that claimed Scottie's life, Luke was hit by a car and his leg shattered in seven places, his pelvis broken and his jaw shattered. He nearly died on the medical emergency flight to Phoenix because the weather delayed the landing. Not only was Luke's life spared, but a short while later, the life of her new grandson, Cody, who was born premature and weighed only one and a half pounds. 

In Debbie's words, "So, the Lord has blessed us through all the trials we have gone through. We thank Him every day for the things he gave us and didn't take away. David and I have become the best of friends through all our trials and heartbreaks. We grow every day and depend on each other, and I think that's what makes a marriage. Two people growing to be the best of friends. We raised our kids the best we knew how with the knowledge we had at the time. There was no book to follow. It was kids raising kids. Thank God we learned something before our grandkids came along." 

I have never met Debbie face to face, but I do know that we have traveled similar paths. She has endured and overcome horrendous adversity in her life. I have great respect for her, and have come to love her as a dear friend. Debbie and her husband of forty-one years, live in Show Low, Arizona.  Just two young-at-heart kids, the best of friends, bonded together by the glue of adversity and a deep faith in the One who overcomes.

Printed with permission and as told to me by Debbie.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


If we can be all these things, then we will indeed be the deepest of friends to one another. I give you "If" by Rudyard Kipling. 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Read more, be inspired more by "If" ideals at All Things If.


Monday, January 24, 2011

A Friend Knows the Song in my Heart

Robert Frost said, "The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound--that he will never get over it."

When I was a little girl I would often pester my mother to sing to me before bed. I loved the sound of her voice as it rose and fell with the melody. She had a simple repertoire of silly songs and serious songs. I didn't know then, that the words of one from the great Stephan Foster would be immortal and stay with me forever.

It wasn't the melody, although beautiful, it was the way my mother had of singing it, as if she had written it herself, just for me. I was her beautiful dreamer.

Her voice could warm up the coldest winter night and calm my worst nightmares. I would cuddle up next to her, and stroking my hair she would softly sing.

Beautiful Dreamer by Stephan Foster

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd away!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life's busy throng.

Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea,
Mermaids are chaunting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E'en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,

Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me! 

Now friends, you know the song in my heart. Sweet dreams.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Once Upon A Friend...part 2

Years passed and they returned favors, shared old family recipes, and deepest secrets. They talked about old memories and laughed over new ones. As with all friendships, theirs was tested and endured for a time, but once upon a friend began to change. The coldness in her heart settled in to stay after the death of her spouse. Her iced remarks and insensitive nature came more often and were more intrusive, each time inflicting deeper wounds upon the spirit of the other.

Then tragedy struck. The no longer young wife and her husband of thirty-three years lost their daughter. Christmas, that year, found the family still suffering from the rawness of loss, and the celebration of the holiday brought a fresh pang of sorrow. A simple pop of an infraction between a dad and his daughter set off a chain of firecracker snaps. 

The girl that was, years before, found herself yet again the target of cruel and cutting remarks. Like so many times before, she bit down her retaliation and kept silent, refusing to dishonor the elder. Perhaps grief tainted the tips of the arrowed words causing their caustic poison to burn deep into her heart, but the scars remain to this day on what was once a friendship that spanned the ages.

The once young girl has separated herself, and laid strategic boundaries. She still loves and admires that once upon a friend. She was a woman who forged through the depression, lost her first husband to the war, saw the death of a child of her own and watched her homestead burn to the ground. She was a woman who in the face of adversity just didn't quit. 

I would have to agree with the words of one near and dear to me, once upon a friend was an "incredible woman".

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Once Upon a Friend

I met her shortly after meeting that good looking guy in the blue jacket with matching eyes. You know the one. Snow White described him as the one song, one heart, one love.  Sleeping Beauty walked with him once upon a dream. He said, 'I can show you the world...'. I said, 'I've seen enough of that, thank you!' He said, 'I can open your eyes...'. I said, 'I BET you can buddy!' Well, eventually I learned to love a beast, and now I'm part of his world because I invited him to stay for dinner and he stayed forever. But that's another story.

This story is about a friendship long ago; a woman I came to love and admire. Someone I looked up to as a mentor and a role model. 

Once upon a friend took great pride in her home and enjoyed cooking and baking. She had seen her share of hard times and didn't want to be there again. Her life partner was also her business partner and she stood beside him most days as a saleswoman, bookkeeper and decorator. 

Our first few encounters with each other were surface and formal. Politeness and good manners superseded any underlying feelings we had toward friendship. I was young, shy, and reserved. She was older; the kind of woman that always spoke her mind and wasn't concerned with how you felt about it.

The day I really met her, was the day she threw back the covers of formality. She was on edge, and snappy. After seeing two sons married within a short span of each other, she wasn't in any position to let the third one go easily. 

She thought him too young to be serious about this girl. With legal age being twenty-one, and he being just nineteen, she felt much more secure in seeing him propped up against his fish tank raising Neon Tetras, rather than gambling on him to take and keep a wife. The young gal he wanted to marry suffered the backlash of those feelings. She and her tender soul were driven from the house on loud, fast words with tears streaming down her face. The things said to her were astonishingly cruel, and even more so were the things said about her family. The handsome lad took his hits as well, but it only served to make their determination to marry that much stronger.

Over the next few months there were other episodes strategically directed at breaking the two apart but they stuck together. They pressed on, eventually gaining the reluctant blessing of his parents.

Over time and through some heartbreaking hardships the young wife cut her way deeper into the young man's family, especially into his father's heart. Once upon a friend was harder to win over but slowly the two became friends and their bond deepened.

To Be Continued...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scrambled Friends describes scramble as moving quickly using hands and feet; to move hastily and with urgency: to collect and organize disorderly, or to mix together confusedly. I am scrambling tonight friends, using my hands to hurriedly tap out letters hastily and with urgency, to collect and organize words so that I can mix them together confusedly.

I tuned in too late to use a writing prompt over at NaBloPoMo that asked, "What are three things you can do to be a better friend to the people in your life?" That would require much more thinking effort on my part than I have time for tonight. Not because I can't think of a million little things that I could do to be a better friend, but that I can pick only three really narrows down the playing field. 

So, in an effort to be a friend to those of you who are following along on my month long journey, I give you my collection of hastily scrambled, organized words connected to friendship. I hope you enjoy unscrambling them.

1. edinfsr
2. sbeistrdefn
3. loaly
4. icerens
5. idkn
6. hostne 
7. fafhutli
8. deedlnpeba
9. atdednnginurs
10. tneitpa
11. silnets
12. rcefleuh
13. acgnri
14. hftguuhlto
15. nivggi 

16. pouirvptes 

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