Thursday, July 19, 2018

like a river ...

This rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. This month Vest will be providing the prompts. [All of the prompt words are in bold italics.] 
     She looked at her reflection in the mirror and wondered how she had gotten so lost.  She remembered a time when she woke up every morning feeling excited for the day ahead.  Now she couldn't remember the last time she felt truly cheerful when she woke up.  What had happened that made sadness and discouragement wash over her like a flooding river?

     Later that day she paused at work, hearing children in the playground across the street from her office.  Carefree.  Happy.  How she envied them and the freedom they had.  Too young to know of the responsibilities and burdens that would one day wear them down.

     On Sunday she and her husband went to church as they always did, and as the worship team practiced the songs they would later play, she sat in a side room, alone and praying for guidance and peace.  Words escaped her, and at times she could only rock silently, wishing she understood what was happening to her.  She realized she had begun isolating herself long before she even realized she was doing it.

     Her husband sometimes brushed it off as being her age and in those moments she just wanted to plot his demise.  But perhaps it did having something to do with it.  She felt more responsible than she had when she was 20 or even 30 years younger.  The weight of those responsibilities was daunting some days.  Had she really been so carefree with her money once that if she fancied a ring, she simply bought it without thinking twice?  Now she rarely justified buying herself new clothes and it was only when her 15+-year-old bras finally lost their hooks that she admitted it was time to buy new ones.  But they had been expensive Victoria's Secret bras that at the time she hadn't thought twice about spending $50 or more on them.  At least she got her money's worth.

     A noise outside of the room she was sitting in brought her back to the present and reality.  Service was starting, and if she walked in late it to sit in the front row seats her husband made a point of sitting in it would be quite noticeable.  Not that she cared anymore what others thought of her, but she didn't want to seem disrespectful.  She already had an idea that her separation from the rest of the congregation before services began already gave many of them enough to talk about.  What was it her mother used to tell her?  "What others think of you is none of your business.  You just mind your own."

     The worship music began and she looked above the keyboardist's head at the lyrics being projected on the wall.  It had been a hard year so far and she often felt under spiritual attack because of their work with the churchBut leaving wasn't an option.  As much as she felt burdened now, she knew that life without her faith was even worse.  Maybe it was time she set new priorities.

Monday, July 16, 2018

between the pages ...

I wrapped up reading this book over the weekend and found it fascinating.

I've been a Christian for as long as I can remember, but there is still much I don't know or understand about some aspects of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.  I'm always looking for books that break it down in terms I can understand to continue my growth and expand my knowledge.

This book was such an eye-opener in so many ways and sets out ten simple practices that you can do to make a change in your life that will enrich every relationship and part of your life, especially your spiritual walk.

Even though I have been a Christian since childhood, my walk in faith sometimes falters as life's challenges arise.  This book will become a bedside read for those times when I'm feeling lost, and need a reminder that I am never alone.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

the observation ...

This rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. This month Vest will be providing the prompts. [All of the prompt words are in bold italics.] 
Image Source
She held her breath as she stepped out onto the glass observation skywalk high above the floor of the Grand Canyon.  Heights terrified her for reasons she didn't know and she had started her 50th year with a list of things she wanted to overcome.

While this was only the first thing on her list, it was her strongest fear, and she knew that if she could conquer it everything else would be easier.

They had been enjoying a combined celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary and her 45th birthday, dining at the best restaurant in town when he said the words that changed her life forever.

Divorce.  Another woman.  Happier without her.

It was almost more than her mind had the capacity to comprehend, and after five years of therapy, if she let her thoughts wander, she could still manufacture all sorts of negative projections upon herself.

Her therapist suggested making a list of things that she thought were holding her back from healing, and she had been embarrassed to see the length of the list.

"No wonder he left me." she had cried to her therapist.  "I'm nothing more than a timid little mouse!"

"Nonsense!" admonished the therapist.  "You simply haven't been given the opportunity to grow and flourish.  You were barely out of your teens when you were married, and immediately began a life of being a wife and mother.  You need to find your own identity, and that is what we are going to do.  This is your journey to nourish your soul.  Tell me something you've always wanted to do and we will make that your reward for reaching each goal of overcoming each of your fears."

"I've always wanted to be a florist.  To have my own business where I could create bouquets that spoke the language of the flowers.  Bouquets that had meaning and messages for the giver and the receiver."
Borage Image Source

Together they had worked on creating a puzzle board.  Each piece an image on one side of a fear, and on the other side the image of a beautiful flower that represented the opposite of the fear.  On the image of a skyscraper representing her fear of heights, she had put the image of a borage flower, the flower associated with courage.

As she faced and overcame each fear, she would turn the puzzle piece over until the new image was one of a garden of her strengths, not of her weaknesses.

The trip to the Grand Canyon with her son, daughter and her four grandchildren was her baptism by fire.  She hadn't told them why they were going, only that it was somewhere she had always dreamed of seeing.  When the subject of taking a whitewater river ride as part of their trip came up, she'd almost loudly protested, knowing that the next fear on her list was being in deep waters where she couldn't see the bottom.  But she had surprised even herself when she had agreed.
Hepatica Image Source

She could already imagine adding the delicate purple hepatica flowers for confidence to her bouquet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

products my ... cats love!

Yesterday, out of the blue, a free sample of Kalico Kush Katnip arrived from Meowijuana.
This is what Lucy did to the envelope after I removed the sample.
Previously we got a sample of their Chicken Bar with Catnip from my office neighbor, Heidi with Naturapetz.
Gracie LOVES it!  
Lucy doesn't know what to do with the little bits I give them, which is fine with Gracie because she scarfs hers and then eats Lucy's share.
Yesterday after Lucy demolished the envelope and some of the flakes I put on their scratch pad for them, she disappeared for a few hours.  I found her sleeping in one of their cat caves.
Chillin' like a villain.

They also have some treats for dogs, which I don't think Charlie would have a taste for because he's a teetotaler.  But Trooper, who was a beer snob like I used to be ... he'd have loved them.  He would turn his nose up at domestics but loved a good microbrew or import.
I miss him.
Charlie, we recently discovered, loves cold watermelon.  He's such a clown.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday ... late again

This rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. This month Vest will be providing the prompts. [All of the prompt words are in bold italics.]  (Side note: I've been having issues with my laptop and missed participating in the last Wednesday of June.  I think I picked up a bug, and am hoping to have it all straightened out soon.  Rather than trying to go back and make my brain work overtime, I'm picking up again with July).
"I think we all face summer with a mixture of sadness."

Her comment was completely unexpected and for a moment I wasn't even sure if she was talking to me.  I'd never seen her before, and without even hearing her footsteps, she was suddenly standing beside me.

"How do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, for some it can be seen as their middle years.  When they are old enough to know better, but still young enough to get away with it.  For others, it can be dreadful, when the warmth is just so overwhelming that there is no way to get comfortable.  I mean, you can only take off so many clothes in public before winding up in jail."

I chuckled at that.  "Go on."

"You can still sleep outside, though, without needing too much of a shelter.  If you are fortunate enough to be outside of the city lights, it can be almost heavenly to just lay in the grass and watch the Milky Way."

"Why would anyone find that sad?"

"Oh, they wouldn't.  Or at least they shouldn't.  It is just knowing that before long, the nights will become chilly again before we want them to.  These are the longest days of the year for a reason you know."

"What is that?"

"It gives us something to look forward to when winter comes.  It is the memories of these days that keeps us holding on for more."

She paused then, and for the first time looked straight at me.  Her eyes the color of glacier ice, with a dusting of glitter on her cheeks that looked almost like the sun on fresh snow.  I was caught off guard by her beauty, and embarrassed by my stare.  I looked away for a moment to gather my thoughts, and when I looked back again she was gone.

"Treasure these days," the wind whispered as it tussled my hair, "treasure these memories."

Friday, June 22, 2018

between the pages ...

The voice behind the band
Flyleaf ~ I didn't realize we
had seen her in concert
at Ft Hood TX
Lacey Sturm grabbed my attention with just this sentence on the back cover of her book ...
Have you ever asked yourself, "What's the point?"
Have I ever!

She shares her journal pages, to-do lists, thoughts, poems, recipes and song lyric ideas in a comfortable and easy read that often made me feel guilty as if I had snuck her diary out of her room to snoop in the pages.

In the process, you see her questions about faith, life, and hope.  Many of her questions and journal entries hit close to home for all the times I asked myself (or wrote on my calendar or in my own journals) "what is the point?"  "really."

By the time you reach the end of the book, you realize that there really is "a point."

Love.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday's words

This rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. This month Lee will be providing the prompts. [All of the prompt words are in bold italics.]  Stellar, Resourceful, Frivolous, Revelation, Catastrophe, Perspective, Potential, Embodiment, Euphoria, Jeopardize, Unite, Groundswell.
      She had always been a stellar student before her parents were divorced.  After that, the resulting family turmoil and instability caused her grades to drop drastically for a few years.  As resourceful as her mother had been to provide for her, she still found herself wishing for some of the less frivolous necessities for school that her classmates enjoyed.  Things like a statistical calculator.

     When she became an adult, it had been an unpleasant revelation to learn of the infidelities of both her parents during much of her childhood.  The last one that had brought a catastrophic end to their marriage had put things into perspective for all of them.  She had once thought that her parents were the embodiment of love and a happy marriage.  That illusion vanished just as quickly as the sense of security she once had at home.

     The euphoria she used to feel within the walls of her bedroom, with a new book to read, snuggled with her cat and dog on her bed was gone forever.  The excitement for new towns to explore with every Volksmarch in Germany.  Suddenly her sense of security was jeopardized by rules that changed every day.  Every so often, her brother and step-sister would unite together with her like the Three Musketeers.

     But at night, the sobs would rise up in an overwhelming groundswell of loss for the childhood she once imagined she had.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

missed the memo...

     This rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image.     What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog.      If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. This month Lee will be providing the prompts.       [I missed the memo at the end of May, and so am playing catch up with the words for the 6th and 13th.  All of the prompt words are in bold italics. Comedy, Shadows, Loss, Rainbow, Emotional, Heart, Contradictions, Sensitive, Legendary, Engage, Forever,  Never-endingAttitude, Uphill, Insight, Lessons, Upheaval, Canopy, Patience, Engage, Humility, Strategy, Fortitude, Forbearance
      "If it seems at times as if I respond to events in my life as I would a comedy movie, the truth is that there were far too many days spent in the shadows of loss and regret."

     There was no one else on the train as far as she could see, yet talking out loud to herself still made her feel a bit self-conscious.  But there were things she needed to get out of her head, and sometimes the only way to get her thoughts organized was to speak them out loud.

     "Having the hope of someday seeing my precious pets again at the other end of the rainbow just seems to keep me as an emotional hostage, continually ripping my heart out with longing and grief.  I feel like a walking contradiction of faith.  Sometimes there is joy in the hope and faith that it will happen, yet other days there is so much doubt and unbelief because of the cruel realities of this cold world.  I wish I wasn't so sensitive to what other people, and pets, are feeling.  That is what makes this legendary gift from the ancestors more of a burden than a blessing.  I wish I could just engage in a conversation, or have friendships, that weren't forever exhausting me with the struggle to keep all of the never-ending emotions in check."

     She glanced over her shoulder at the sound of the door between the cars opening and watched as a tall man in a suit took a seat on the opposite side of the train.  He looked at her briefly and nodded before turning his attention to the scenery passing outside the window.  Whispering now, she continued the conversation with herself.

     "Great.  Someone who will probably have an attitude and I'll be in a foul mood for the rest of the trip."

     The train began an uphill climb and she felt herself being pushed back into her seat slightly.

     "If I may provide some insight..."

     The man's voice was in her ear so unexpectedly that she let out a short scream and jumped out of her seat to glare at him.  Except that he was still sitting several rows behind her on the opposite side of the train.  Embarrassed now, she quickly sat down again with her back to the man.

     "Perhaps some lessons in how to control someone's emotional upheaval?"

     This time she didn't scream or jump but instead closed her eyes and listened.

     "It is a simple method of providing a canopy of protection around yourself.  Imagine it as a bubble, if you will.  It may take a little patience in getting it just right because every entity is different.  But it will allow you to engage in society again and not feel forced to exclude yourself from the world."

     She sighed deeply.  He knew.  He knew what it was like.  He understood.

     "This gift you have requires the humility to understand that everyone is struggling in their own way.  Everyone is broken somehow, even if it just cracks under the surface.  What I can teach you is a strategy for your own protection.  It takes fortitude to face the world even for those who aren't gifted.  The forbearance to keep from running and jumping off the edge at times."

     "You can teach all this to me?" she whispered.

     "Yes, in fact, you've just passed your first lesson."

     "I did?"

     "Yes.  The willingness to ask for help." 

Friday, June 8, 2018

between the pages ...

I love peanut brittle.  Brickle.  Brittle.  Whatever.  Sugar + peanuts = yummy in my tummy.
However, arthritis in my jaw doesn't like hard candy anymore, and it can be painful to eat crunchy stuff.
Not that I let it stop me very often.
I got a sample of Softer Than Brittle, and it was AMAZING!!! Oh my gosh I could eat this all day
(and wish the sample was bigger because I had to share it with the hubs and he likes it too!)
It is available on Amazon (click the name above) and comes in almond, pecan, cashew, AND peanut.  With only seven ingredients (I counted just five since I'm not sure that "natural flavor" is an actual ingredient), it is gluten- and dairy-free, and vegan, so depending on who you ask, could actually be considered the perfect food!
Must buy more!

I ordered an advanced copy of this book to review because I was intrigued....  
I mean, really, wouldn't you be?
Especially when the back cover blurb starts by saying "Let's face it.  Church isn't working."
Chris Sonksen hit me right between the eyes with many of his words.  Before I knew it, I was reaching for a pen to underline the "me" between the lines.
But that isn't to say that I agree with all of his words.  I don't believe that the church today is the church that God, or Jesus, intended it to be some 2,000+ years ago.
Church then seemed to be more about community, fellowship and spreading the hope of Christ Risen.
Church today takes the words of the Bible, twists and turns them into something that better suits the congregation and pastor.  It seems to be more "take what you like and leave the rest."  Oh and don't forget to drop that check in the offering plate on your way out the door.
I enjoyed the read, and he did have some valid points about life and how we do things to self-sabotage our own happiness and satisfaction.  I'm sure I will re-read it from time to time, and perhaps see even more between the lines.  Will I quit church in the literal sense?  No, but I will change how I think, speak, and do some things because of points he has made.  Do I think his book or advice will make my life better?  Not exactly, but it will make a difference.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

road trip

     Started by Delores a long time ago, this rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of. Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage. The prompts will be on the Elephant's Child blog this month and are provided by Margaret Adamson, and her friend Sue Fulton. They also include photographs taken by Margaret's friend Bill Dodds.
Image Source: WeHeartIt.com

       Annalisa's had been open for almost a year when Nate finally proposed to Merribell.  It was Christmas, and her little brother, Stephan, had come home from university for the holidays.  Nate had asked her father's permission to marry her in July after he first got Stephan's approval.   He had nearly broken a rib or two in Poppa's bearhug "yes" to his request.  

     He had given Nate the engagement ring that had once been her mothers.  Nate, with Poppa's approval, had taken the diamonds and designed a ring for her also using diamonds from his own late mother's engagement ring, and incorporating Merribell's birthstone.  He felt that by combining the rings into one, he was joining the two families and that both of their mothers were giving their blessings on the union.  It had taken him almost the full six months before he was satisfied with the jeweler's design after sending him back to the drawing board more than a dozen times.  The ring had to be perfect.

     Merribell had been so moved to tears that for several minutes she couldn't even speak, and Nate had worried she was going to say no.  The rest of the holidays were a blur as the two of them talked and made plans.  She wanted something simple, and it was decided that they would have a small, intimate ceremony in the garden at Annalisa's in the late spring.  The roses she had planted, favorites of both their mothers, would be blooming.  It would be a perfect time to get away for a honeymoon since business would still be at a steady pace but not the chaotic pace that summer would become when all of the tourists arrived.


Image Source: Bill Dodds
     Their honeymoon was spent almost the same way they had first met, riding a train south along the coast, then renting a car and driving back through the Grand Canyon, something both of them had talked about doing before.  Merribell wanted to try some of the smaller southwest restaurants to expand her menu to include a variety of foods that she could feature for special occasions.

     All of Merribell's dreams and those of her mother had finally come true.