Friday, June 23, 2017

in five ... steady

Joining the mix of talented, creative and beautiful writings for Five Minute Friday this evening ...

I'm tired. The past few weeks have been steadily busy at work, so much that more than once I realized it was time to go for the day and I hadn't even finished one full mug of coffee.

Steady

My husband was promoted to a shift supervisor - and so while I'm steadily working, he sleeps. While I sleep, he steadily works.

Steady

I get home from work, trying to tip-toe around as not to wake him, or get the dogs started barking. Yet with an arm's length list of do-do-to-do just for me to stay steadily on top of the meals, laundry, and chores.

Steady

We are steadily trying to rebuild our lives so that we can own a home of our own, yet every week there is something else that demands priority. This week it is brakes on what is now our only vehicle, which squeals and grinds steadily as I drive it. I grimace as people turn to look, and I want to get a bullhorn and yell at them, "Yes, I know! But we can only do so much in one pay period!"

Steady

I feel as if I am falling steadily farther and farther away from Adonai and I want to just be able to breathe in His word, His love, His comfort, and I know that something has to give soon.

Steady

I realize that nothing will change unless I change. I pull out my journal. Again. Delete all the mind-numbing games and apps that had been filling time better spent with Him. Steadily, making a difference, even a small difference in my day can be what I need to remain

Steady

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

If a picture could paint 1000 words ...

Joining again with Elephant's Child and Words for Wednesday. Only this week, no words, just images from which to feed our imagination.

The room was almost a silvery blue when she woke.  She couldn't tell if it was day or night since she knew they were due for a full moon that weekend.  Had she slept for that long?  Her face felt cold, so she knew the fire in the small wood stove in the bedroom had died at least a few hours ago. Long enough for the heat from the room to have dissipated.  Fortunately, the down bedding was still keeping all but her face warm. For the moment, at least. She knew she would have to get up and light a fire before going to light the larger one in the living room that would heat the rest of the house and kitchen.  She could see the pine trees outside the window heavy with snow, but they weren't moving at all. Perhaps the storm had ended.

She stayed in bed for a little longer, not wanting to brave the cold just yet.  She could see the silhouettes of the silk flowers and toy bear he had bought her when she got sick with the cancer. They had thought she would be the first to go, but instead, she had rallied, and it was him who had gone first.  He had taken ill after falling through the ice while fishing one morning. He shrugged off his cold until it had become pneumonia in both lungs that caught both of them by surprise.  That had been nearly five years ago. Why she didn't leave after that, she didn't know. Well, she knew. This had been their dream home, a little off the grid cabin in the woods with a lake and a two hundred acres to hunt on.  For almost twenty years they had been happy there. She didn't really have anywhere else to go. 

There had been an old school house in the middle of one of the acres. They probably would never have found it if he hadn't been tracking a buck through the woods to fill the freezer.  It sat in the middle of an open field surrounded by woods in all directions as if it and the field had dropped from the sky.  No roads or trails were leading to it; it was as if it had just been waiting for her to find it.  She had him clear a trail to it, and their weekends that fall were spent exploring the school house and field. He told her she wasn't to go there alone since they didn't know how old the building was or how sturdy.  They could see signs that various animals had inhabited it over the years, maybe even a century or more since it had been abandoned. 

It became her healing project, and together they had fortified the walls, roof, and floor from the elements.  After the first winter, they decided to add shutters to the upper windows that they could close in the winter, but they left the bell tower open for the birds and bats to come and go. They added covered porches to the front and rear of the schoolhouse help keep snow and rain from getting in and to give shelter to any animal not wanting to brave the inside. During the winters, they shuttered all but a front and rear door so that any animal finding shelter from the storms would never feel trapped.  Old wooden feed troughs found at a farm estate sale were put both inside and out and he would occasionally haul hay for the deer when the winters were expected to be especially harsh.

When he had died, it became her healing project again. Each season, she had planted perennials and bulbs for the spring, and apple and cherry trees until there was almost no longer a field but an orchard.  She had spent too many winter nights filling pine cones with peanut butter and rolling them in birdseed to take to the schoolhouse when the snow began to melt. She had watched countless fawns, fox kits, mice and chipmunks that had been born in the schoolhouse grow up and come back to raise their own young. Baby birds taking their first flying lessons and return again each spring to nest in the eaves. Gradually they had all gotten used to her presence and so when she sat in the shade of the porch, or in the doorway watching the rain, she would often feel a nudge at her side of someone looking for an apple or a treat.

She opened her eyes again. She must have fallen asleep in the silence. The room was much colder now, creeping under the covers with her. She should have gotten up the first time she woke and started the fire.  Now she would be sore as her arthritis wouldn't like leaving the warm comfort of the bed.  She sat with her woolen socked feet swinging off the edge of the bed, and pulled the robe she'd worn to bed closer around her.

She knew by the calendar that spring would be coming soon, and she felt in her bones that it would be her last. The thought made her both grateful and sad. She'd been dreaming about him more often lately, hearing his voice call to her, and she did miss him so much.  She just hoped that she could make it out to the schoolhouse one last time.

Listing to the powerful side ...

I'm tapping in and tagging along with Patti Miinch's List of Lists for her Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project. For Patti, it is week 25, and for me... Week 2: List the Things that Make/Made Me Feel Powerful

The first day of that first cruise.
I was so freakin' excited!
1. In late 2004 I suffered a retinal tear and lost a big chunk of vision in one eye. The thing that made me realize it wasn't going to hold me back from anything I wanted to accomplish was when I took a Rhine River cruise *alone* for Christmas in 2007. More than anything I'd done before, or have done since, it was mastering the train schedule and station from Frankfort to Passau with far more luggage than I needed to bring that made me feel I could do anything.

2. Growing up a military brat, always being a newcomer * a.k.a. outsider * with red hair, and bifocals.  You kind of sort of have to have thick skin. Libraries became my safe havens, and books my armor. Written words have always made me feel strong, and to be totally transparent, not always in the best way. I've had to learn to bite my fingers just as much as I bite my tongue.  But it was the written words in my first books that helped me to face some fears and conquer some demons.

3. Between 2012 and 2014 my life changed drastically, and there were two significant things that happened in that time. The first was that I cut ties with 98% of the people I had known for most of my life, including family.  I did it because I needed to hear God in my life, and not those who would distract me for their own agendas or without having God's best interest at heart. It was at times terribly isolating, frightening, and lonely. I questioned myself constantly, and I questioned God. The second thing was that I moved away from everything familiar, everything that once signified "safe," and to a part of the country not known for being hospitable in the winters or welcoming to outsiders.

Knowing that God had my back and that I had His ear, and He heard every cry and prayer, that was powerful.  Today, my life is better than I ever imagined it could be when I left Texas and returned to Florida in 2012.  He has blessed us profoundly since our move from Florida in 2014 to the Michigan Upper Peninsula and then again to Wisconsin where we are now.  My life is still very different from what it was before 2012, but for all the right reasons.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In five ... worth

Participating this evening (a day late) with Five Minute Friday, because you can never be too late in discovering your worth, or letting someone else know theirs.


In my Our Daily Bread reading this week, I took the time to underline something that made me stop and think of my life. There are times when I wonder if it has been worth it.  The loss, gain, pain, laughter, tears, struggles, successes. Will I get to the end of my days and feel that it was all worth it? Or will I wish I had done more? Less? What is one's life worth?

And then I remember the cross and the sacrifice that was made on it and realize that no matter what comes and goes in my life. No matter the ups and downs. He believed I was worth it.

So to show Him that I was worth it, I hope to live my life in a way that would honor Him.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wednesday's Words

I'm joining with Elephant's Child and Words for Wednesday a day or two late depending on which side of the world you are on.  In any case ... "Hold onto your hat" while I give you my two-cents worth ...

If you offered me a penny for my thoughts this week, I would have to give you change back.  As I wrote [here] the week has been a chaotic mix of trauma, drama, and exhaustion. I keep meaning to write a list of things that I need to get done this week and weekend, but then forget where I put my pen. Or paper. Or thoughts.

A blogger I follow, Patti Miinch ~ A Life Redesigned, has been taking part in Morea Seal's 52 List Project. One of the thoughts that keep circling the drain in my brain is to add making a list to my list. (see, I told you I was exhausted) I know if I add it to my do-do-to-do list for the new year, it will never be remembered (or that list found) and then I remember a creative journal I started to read last year.  Start Where You Are. Exactly. I should start right where I am ...

I don't have the list prompt from Morea Seal's journal, but I did manage to catch one of those random thoughts before it slipped down the drain.  Here is my list of things I have learned about myself and "growing up" after I turned 50. Mind you, take notes (or make a list).  Some of these might just save you from suffering the same fate I did while I was learning them.

  1. I have found that I worry less about what others think of me and more about how I feel about myself. I wish I had learned that 45 years ago.
  2. This may sound like a cliché, but it's true. The really important things in life aren't things. It's people and moments in time that you may never get again. It's memories, laughter, tears, hugs, letters, and whispers in the dark. It's puppies, kittens, babies, and smiles. It is everything a thing is not, and nothing that it is.
  3. If what you do to earn a living is keeping you from living, find something else to do. Don't let your job define you. Let your life.
  4. When life seems the darkest, and hope seems the farthest away, remember that it will always get better. Don't ever give up. The rain will stop, the clouds will clear, the darkness will fade, the sun will come up. It is those dark days that we will one day look back on and realize that even though those lessons were hard or painful, we survived and were better for them.
  5. Don't swish soda around in your mouth trying to get a piece of food out from under your partial while you are driving back from lunch. It will fizz up and come out your nose.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

May's lessons ...

 Water relaxes me.
 Spring flowers thrill me.
 Small hidden windows intrigue me.
 Summer homes on a lake call to me.
 Fish with sharp teeth or with horns worry me.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

Joining again this week with Elephant's Child and Words for Wednesday.  Join me here in October when I will be sharing the prompt words and pictures.

She sat in front of the typewriter, tapping a pencil on the table and staring at the blank sheet of paper between the rollers. She felt feverish from sitting in the sun all day. She knew she should have moved under the trees, following the patched shade as the sun moved across the sky. But throwing caution to the wind, it had been the first nice day since the snow melted and she wasn't going to waste it. What was it her father had said once? "Be willing to pay the penalty for your bad choices." She grimaced as she shifted her back against the chair, her sunburnt shoulders painful to the touch.

They wanted the truth, but she didn't want to tell it. She wanted to be sensible and safe. It was easier to give them a fabricated story, a lie, rather than admit what had been done to her. Saying it out loud was something she would never be able to do. She knew the words couldn't hurt her, but by speaking them, she was afraid they would come alive and haunt her. Some things just shouldn't be spoken. 

Thinking about them was painful enough, and it was hard at times to keep her thoughts under control. Sleep only came with a mix of prescription drugs, carefully monitored to be sure she didn't take too many. Some nights she prayed for early senility when all she would remember was life before it happened. She chuckled at the irony of that. Most people prayed that they wouldn't get something like Alzheimer's, and she was praying that she would.

A breeze from the heater coming on moved the paper in the typewriter, and it seemed to wave at her. "Yoo hoo! Here I am! A blank piece of paper just waiting for you to tell the truth!" She reached for it angrily and yanked it out of the rollers, balling it up and throwing it across the floor. A line from a movie came to her mind. They couldn't handle the truth, and neither could she. The truth was that while she was no longer "his" prisoner, she was still a prisoner held captive by the memories of what he had done. 

She looked out the window. The sun was finally starting to set behind dark clouds.

It was snowing again.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday's Words...

[I am linking with the Elephant's Child for Words for Wednesday tonight]

The boat ride had been a sudden decision, and she had to rush to get ready. She had been under such stress the past week that she really hadn't wanted to leave so early, but the quirky weather was perfect for the first time in several weeks and who knew when it would be this nice again?


Just the day before, a violent rain storm had come up that had caused several rivers to flood over the roads. Yellow signs warning of the danger had been posted, but the winds had been so tenacious that many had blown over, and the warnings went unseen.

The day had been beautiful and warm for the most part, but there had been spots along the bay shore where the air seemed to suddenly chill, and she had been glad to have brought along a jacket.  He had fished for a while, letting the evening wind push the boat closer to shore, and at one point thought he had hooked a large fish but lost it.

She had been napping in the bow of the boat, listening to the wind in the trees and the birds. Occasionally the water would gurgle under the boat and waves would slap against the sides. She realized suddenly that the wind had stopped, and the birds had gone silent. She opened her eyes and could see him standing with his back to her at the back of the boat, watching his line. She started to call out to him, to ask if he was alright when she heard a sound under the boat that sounded like a man laughing. She held her breath for a moment, listening intently for the water, the wind, or the birds. Anything that would sound like it wasn't her imagination playing tricks on her. He turned and looked at her, and for a brief second his face seemed to change into someone she didn't know. The air turned cold and she shivered and reached for her jacket again.

The moment was broken by the sound of a larger boat approaching, and the wake of it rocked their smaller boat. The wind blew loudly in the trees, and she heard several ravens calling to each other. She shook her head and sat up. She must have been dreaming it all. She always did have nightmares when she slept on her back.

It was nightfall before she had a chance to look at the pictures from the day, and she sighed as she thought about what an odd day it had been.

A small spot in one of the pictures from the bay caught her eye. What was that? She looked over the series of pictures in which it appeared. In the first photo, it appeared faint and weak, a miniature oval just at the water's edge, almost seeming to be both in and out of the water.

The Orb seemed to move up and down in the series of four photos, but when she looked at her camera, there was no spot on the lens, nor was the Orb in any of the other twenty or more pictures she had taken that day.  She had heard that Orbs were often spirits that visited or haunted a place, and she wondered if there had been a life lost in that particular spot.  Perhaps it was a fisherman who came back to visit the site of his greatest catch.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nancy Drew

Image Source: A Random Google Search
I have a day job now that mentally exhausts me. Don't get that wrong. I love my job with a Nancy Drew-ish fascination. I even like my bosses - both the two and four-legged ones. The hours are great, and the flexibility is rare. I can even walk to work now if I want to when the weather stops being cold, snowy, wet, or muddy (which may be only for a few weeks in late summer, but hey, I can dream).

I spend my day doing quality assurance on background checks. Which in plain English means that I spend my day looking at the worst of the worst to make sure they aren't our client's hope for the best of the best.

I review criminal records trying to verify names, birthdays and addresses to match or exclude a subject. Sometimes I have 601 records to scroll through trying NOT to find a link to a subject. I see traffic offenses, like speeding, running red lights or parking (don't ever have a parking meter violation in Minnesota! Bam! Misdemeanor!).

But I also see charges like animal abuse, child abuse, rape, and murder. I see repeat offenders who spend years in prison, get out, do it again, and again, and again. Like a twisted version of Groundhog Day.

I also search the National Sexual Offender Registry, hoping to NOT find a match with the subject's name, but having to scroll through all those with the same or similar names, or AKAs.

Just when I think I've seen the worst, up pops the face of a 15 year old boy or a 40-something woman, grinning at the camera as if they think being labeled a sex offender for the rest of their life is funny. Or as if whatever it was they did to get on the list was something to laugh about, and wouldn't leave their victim with hidden scars that might never heal or nightmares that would never go away.

I've known for a long time that I'm especially sensitive to the emotions of others, and just looking at some of these crimes and profiles can suck the joy right out of me. I get home at the end of the day emotionally exhausted, mentally tired, and overwhelmed with sadness for humanity. I think of broken lives, broken families, and broken hearts.

I wish we could buy a home in the middle of a thousand acres and build a barbed wire topped brick wall around it all. To be able to live totally off the grid, growing or raising our own food and away from society, yet at the same time, I'm longing for friendship. I miss having a close girl friend to laugh with ~ the Sara or Maureen kind of friend that I used to work with.  I want to write another book, but don't want it to be as dark as the world makes me feel at times. I know that some of the things I have seen in the past four years here will make their way into the pages.

Most days I can reset my emotions with mindless games on Facebook, scrolling through travel pictures of Germany on Instagram day-dreaming about going again, crafts, journal prayers, reading about angels that change lives, and playing tug-of-war with Charlie or cat & mouse with Lucy. I nap more than I used to, call my mom, and hug my husband.

I'm grateful for the big things in my life, the little things, and everything in-between. I'm also grateful for the things no longer in my life, the losses, the changes, and the lessons.

Life is short and precious. Cherish it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Words for Wednesday

Participating this week with The Elephant's Child and Words for Wednesday.
Image Source: The Elephant's Child/Words for Wednesday
She watched his reflection in the window of the boat as it glided across the water with an agile grace that was surprisingly smooth against the consistent blast of winds from the north. It was the first day of summer, and the two of them had been eager to go fishing and leave the stress of the last few months behind them on the shore.

He turned to look at her and she saw his lips moving, but could not hear what he was saying over the cacophony of waves slamming against the sides of the boat. He pointed behind her, and she turned to watch as eagles dipped in and out between the waves, coming up with salmon heavy in their talons. As she watched, an eagle that had missed its mark dove talons first at another carrying a large salmon, desire apparent in its flirt with danger to steal away the catch.

She held her breath as they fought in the air, both tumbling towards the water before they parted and flew in different directions. Empty talons, the only winner in this battle was the salmon.