Friday, August 30, 2013

what i love about bloggers ...

We blog about life.

The good.  The bad.  The ugly.

We might censor our words to protect the innocent... or guilty... but for the most part, we speak truth.  We write about pain.  We write about beauty.  We write about healing ... fear ... hatred ... love ... faith ... life ... death ... mental illness ... abuse ....  We get on our soapboxes to write about politics or religion ... and then we tell you how to take those soapboxes and recycle them into crafts for kids or herb gardens.

We reach out to each other ... across continents ... oceans ... and even hemispheres ... to help one another. We encourage and we support each other in our dreams.  We comfort in our nightmares.

I have felt more like "family" with the bloggers I've become friends with over the past few years than I've felt with my own genetically related strangers.

This week was an incredible week for me ... and topping it off was winning this photo from the blog Chronicles of a Country Girl.
Kate is dealing with so much on her plate right now, yet she can put her world on hold to capture a photo like this and offer it to her readers.  Her strength and beauty ~ inside and out ~ just make my jaw drop.

She is dealing with the impending loss of someone she loves with a grace that makes me wish more could embrace her honesty.

I'm quietly watching from the sidelines as a family member copes with serious health issues and a probable impending loss ... without honesty, and without giving others the opportunity to be compassionate.

What I love most about bloggers is our honesty ... and the truth that we don't try to hide with secrets and lies.

red sky

red sky at night, sailor's delight...
evening came with soft pink cotton candy clouds as the
day quietly closed.  as the sun set farther into the night

sky, it looked like the bay was filled with pink lemonade.
keeping close to the shore, a blue heron fished for minnows, as a
yipping yapping Yorkie tried to intimidate us with his bark.

Trooper and Annie ignored it as we walked toward home,
where two chihuahuas protested our walk just as vocally.
So grateful that my kids have manners.

5 minutes: worship

GO:

This has been an incredible week for me.  It actually started last week, the night I began reading the book of Job ... a book I'd heard about but never actually read.  I opened my Bible to that book on the day I got some more discouraging news and was in a very dark mood.

"..."Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. 
The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. 
I am the only one who escaped to tell you."
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. 
Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”"
~ Job 1:19-21 ~
NLT

Job lost everything, yet he continued to worship God.  I've nearly lost everything ... and have found God in all that I lost, all that I have, and in the faith of all that I will have again.

Worship isn't just song and praise.  It isn't just getting down on your face in front of someone. Worship is an act of reverence and of giving honor.  It can be a simple gesture, or it can be an extravagant one. Worship is giving thanks, it is being grateful, it is knowing that all we have is this day, this moment, and it can all be gone in an instant.

When we worship ... give thanks ... for what we have right now ... it can open doors for us to have so much more.

I got a job ... while I was reading Job ... and while I was gratefully giving worship, praise, and thanks, for what I had.  How awesome was that?

STOP
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 29, 2013

when all we can give is an offer...

  Two days ago, I saw a man bathing in the (salt water) bay near my home.   The shampoo in his hair was a dead giveaway.

  I didn't know the situation except, ugh, seriously, that bay water stinks to high heaven on my dogs after they swim if I don't rinse them down with fresh water immediately after they get done playing.  Even if he'd been just cooling off and washing stray fish guts off him after fishing ... still ugh.

  So I pulled up and offered his wife the use of my water hose if he needed to rinse down, because really, ugh.

  They didn't take advantage, and I let it go.

  Then last night I noticed them in the area again and that they had driven to a secluded (from the road and the eyes of the police that patrol) area that people fish occasionally.  It was "under the bridge" but not under it literally.  I began to suspect that they were living in their car.

  This morning I saw them again, near the boat dock, while I was walking the dogs so I walked up to their SUV and just asked.  "Are you living in your car?"  I explained that I wasn't judging since I was in a almost similar situation myself.  The answer was yes, they were.

  Michael and Debbie are my age (indenial50somethingplus).  I didn't pry and ask what got them to that point, but I told them that if they wanted fresh water ("oh yes please all three of our water bottles are empty") or to take a hose shower in the shadows of my doorway, they could.

  At this point in my life, I really have nothing more I can offer to them.  They said they knew where all the food banks were, and had plenty of food, just not any fresh water.  I'm wise enough not to open my door and say come on in (learned that lesson the hard way).  Without any air conditioning, my house is as hot if not hotter than where they are right now just living in their car.  He said they were waiting to hear about Social Security, and has a sister in the area who gets mail for him.

  But I could offer them the use of my water hose ... and sometimes that is more than enough.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

waiting... anticipating...

will the phone ever ring?  will the email ever
arrive?  like watching a tea kettle set to boil
it seems that no matter how many
times the receiver is lifted to check for a dial tone or the
inbox is opened to look for that
new mail envelope ...  still waiting ...
going to take the dogs for a walk ... that always works.

savoring...

We usually think of food when we hear the word
savor.
We think of flavors and tastes that make our stomachs growl
and our mouths water.
We think of the smell of something cooking that remind us of good times
and comfort.

But there are other things that we can
savor.

Savor the memories of a loved one's touch.
Savor the song in your heart or in your head that makes you want to dance
when no one is looking.
Savor the sunrise on that day that turned out to be life changing.
Savor the sunset that began a night you will never forget.
Savor the stars that twinkle,
like angels winking at you to say everything is going to be just fine.
Savor the moon smiling and laughing down at you,
with the knowledge that tomorrow will be another day,
a better day.

Savor life.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

just show up...

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is the thing you want least to do.

When getting out bed seems like it is more than you can do ... get up anyway.
When you don't want to put on any makeup ... put it on anyway.
When you'd rather wear your pajamas than put on a business skirt ... put on the skirt anyway.
When leaving the house to look for a job is just too depressing ... go look anyway.

Because you never know when today might be the day.

~*~*~

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas 
can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway."

Monday, August 26, 2013

clear skies...

clouds blown away by strong east winds.  I
let my hair blow as I face the rising sun.
early morning promises of the day to come.
although I know that in time the clouds will
return, I feel much more at peace with a

strength that comes from
knowing more sunny days are
in my future than dark ones.
even when the darkness does come again ...
so will the sun.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

blessed...

I stopped in for church this afternoon at the little brown church in the vale.  It is such an amazing experience for me ... singing from a hymnal that was published in 1938, following a service "order" that hasn't changed in 157 years.

It is like taking a step back in time and truly worshiping God in the way He might have intended us to.  Personal, honest, loving ... fellowship.

There are no big screens showing all the words to the songs, no drums or electric guitars, no microphones.  Windows are opened to let the fresh air flow... there is no air conditioning, and what electricity there is for standing fans comes from a retrofitted plug in the floor.

But this is more than just a building, this is a fellowship of believers who come together to sing praise, to raise up prayers, to listen to His word from visiting preachers, to come together and share a meal afterward.

When I walk in the door, I feel the power of the Holy Spirit in this place, a love that wraps around you.  It is amazing and I have been so blessed by the presence of this church in the vale.

In October they will be having a Fall Sing ... an afternoon of gospel singing and fellowship over a meal.  I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

5 minutes: Last

GO:

Last night on my knees in prayer...
Last thought in my mind as I drifted off to sleep...

First thing I do in the morning...
First thought in my mind as I face the day...

No longer is my faith the last thing I reach for when my day or thoughts become dark.
What was once last is now first ... and last.

Because I have seen and felt the hands of faith wrap around me...
reassuring me that I am not last in His thoughts either.

I face the day with a grateful heart for all of the people I know,
all of the people I meet,
all of the people who reach out to me ... reaching out to them.

I once felt as if I was lost,
but no longer,
because I stopped making Him last.

STOP.

"I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer." 
NLT

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

simple dreams i wish would come true ...

I'm linking this morning with Jamie Ridler Studios
she asks "what dream do you wish to come true?"
oh
... so many come to mind ...
to really own a home again
to have air conditioning
to have a car that runs well and doesn't leak when it rains
to have furniture to welcome family and friends when they visit
[especially my stepkids]
to not have to worry about how to pay the electric or water bill
to be able to buy food without juggling one of the above
to be able to really devote 20-30 hours a week to writing another memoir
[instead of having to spend that much time looking for a full-time job]
to have health benefits so that I can finally feel confident that I am truly healthy
[physically and all that other stuff]
instead of just relying on how I feel when I wake up

and I realized that if just one wish came true, it could possibly make all the others come true ...

I wish I may
I wish I might
find a full time job tonight

looking for a full time job has to be one of the most depressing things I do right now
and I'm sure so many others will agree
the fact that I have an MBA degree was supposed to be an asset
but it has become such a liability that I've stopped putting it on my resume
employers see that and think that I'm overqualified to answer phones
or type letters or file papers or do any of the things I could do in my sleep
I AM NOT OVERQUALIFIED TO WORK
and I truly want to work
I love my part time job working with kids right now, but I need full time work

Monday, August 19, 2013

after the sucker punches ...

  change is inevitable.  whether we want to admit it or not, at some point in our lives we all want change to happen.  we want to be tall enough to ride the big rides.  we want to go to school.  we want to get out of school.  we want to marry.  we want children.  we want our children to go to school.

  for the most part, we go through our lives adjusting to change in small steps.  we know when things are going to happen, when things will change, and we prepare ourselves for them.  the only surprise that often comes with those changes is that we realize that they weren't as bad, or as scary as we thought they would be.  buying a house is a big change that comes with a lot of stress.  but later when it is all over and you are relaxing on the sofa with your feet up admiring your empty walls and wondering what color to paint them ... you realize that it wasn't that bad, and you are so grateful for what you have.

  even those most painful of changes ... the loss of a loved one after a long illness ... the loss of a job ... the loss of a marriage ... we suddenly realize that we are on the other side of grief.  the other side of the change, and while it was just as horrible and painful as we imagined it would be ... we realize we have survived it and we quietly celebrate our survival.  we raise a glass and toast the memory, grateful that there are more days without tears than days with.

  but then there are the sucker punches.

  those changes that come suddenly, with no warning, no time to prepare.  you turn a corner and BAM life hits you right below the belt.

  the last three years, i've been trying to cope with changes ... some expected ... some unexpected.  at times i have felt overwhelmed, as if i was being sucked down into the darkness, with no sign of light.  this past year was the worst of it.  the darkness at times simply suffocating.

  i'm grateful to have survived it.  truly.  there were times when i just didn't know if i would ... or could.

  so i am writing this to let you know ~ to you, reading this in the middle of the night because you cannot sleep ~ to you, reading this in the middle of the day because you want to give up ~ to you, crying because you feel so overwhelmed and alone and don't know what to do anymore ...

  don't let go.  don't give up.

  there is life after the sucker punches.  keep believing in it.  keep reaching for it.  keep clinging to it.

  every day there is one thing to be grateful for.  every day.  that thing is you.  be grateful for you.  no matter what the darkness is telling you, believe in yourself.  wake up, be grateful, take a step, then another, then another, until the day is finished and you can rest to do it all again tomorrow.

  life is worth it.  you are worth it.

fog

fine mist hovers in the air, just
over the trees and water, making my skin
glisten as if I were wearing a shimmering layer of love.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday silly (do-over edition)

Apparently my link was not good the first time so here is a "re-do"
Image from Bing (search kitten and lizard)
Disclaimer:  no kittens or lizards appeared to be harmed in the making of this video.

However,
I'm certain that the kitten now suffers from Herpetaphobia [fear of reptiles such as snakes and lizards],
or more specifically, Scoliodentosaurophobia [fear of lizards].

I do hope that the owners do not continue to tease it for their own entertainment.

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 minutes: small

GO:

I felt small when I stepped out onto the limb.
Thinking I could do things my way.
Thinking I knew better.

And He let me take that small step.
Somewhere between faith and fear.
Somewhere between here and there.

That small scar in the palm of His hand?
Lifted up to His Father.
Washed clean.

That's me.
Small in His grace.

STOP.

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~
NLT
Five Minute Friday

storms...

sometimes the storms we face in life
can uproot us
sweeping our feet out from under us
casting us adrift in the flood waters
throwing us up on the unknown shores
of what comes next
what comes next is this ...
cling to life
drink of the living waters
send out new roots
grow
bloom
thrive

Thursday, August 15, 2013

marriage ...

  I've been married before.  But this is the first time I've been in a marriage.  I have been thinking a lot about the differences lately.  Not just in "then" and "now" but also in who I was ... and who I am.  I've come to the realization that I am a much better wife now, than I ever was before because of how much I have grown. Because of how much I have matured, learned, and experienced...

  I was 24 when I married the first time.  We were young, inexperienced at the whole "being married" thing.  We shared a house with five other guys ~ all single ~ and were the only married couple.  Three of them, including my spouse, owned the house.  My role as "the" wife and the only female in the house was what my dad would have called "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer."  I cleaned the house after each weekend long party and cooked all the food.   For our first anniversary, all I wanted was a divorce.

  The second time I married, I was 27.  Two years into our relationship, and a year after we married, I found out that he believed that the Bible said being married meant that the woman pretty much ceased to exist since the man was the head of the family and that two "became one."  I was only allowed to like what he liked.  I could only watch the TV shows or movies that he wanted to watch.  Listen to only the music he listened to.  Eat what he liked and how he liked it ~ no matter what.  I have always eaten my cereal dry, but because he thought that was weird, when I was married to him, I didn't eat cereal unless he was out of town.  When election year rolled around, we voted by absentee ballot.  He put them together and punched out both chads at the same time for the people or issues he believed in.  I had no say in anything.  I had no hobbies or friends of my own.  Because he read slower than I did, I was not allowed to read books in front of him, and for nearly eight years only read books on the sly, sneaking them to work to read in my car at lunch.  After almost twelve years together, nearly eleven of them married, I ran ... all the way across the country.

  I waited five years after I left him before I married again when I was 43.  It lasted less than two years.  He was emotionally about the same age as his tweenager son.  In the beginning, it was sweet seeing the two of them do things together, and how much of a devoted father he was.  But after we married and his son was just with us for the summers and school breaks, I realized that his childish need to show off and brag to his ex-wife was just more drama than I wanted to deal with.  Especially when he thought he could sneak her into the house to stay in his son's room after she became homeless.

  But now I am 51 and feel as though I am in a true marriage [defined in some dictionaries as being a close and intimate union] for the first time in my life.  A marriage where I am an equal partner with my husband.  A marriage where we communicate honestly.  Where we trust, compromise, agree and encourage each other.  A marriage where we write love letters to each other, look forward to spending time together, holding hands and just walking and talking.

  It hasn't been an easy journey between "then" and "now."  But it has been worth it just to have this man in my life.  Some might ask if I would trade all that "was" to have found him sooner, but no, I wouldn't.  We are here now, together, right when we were supposed to find each other.  Neither of us would have been ready for this kind of love, this kind of marriage, at any other time in our lives.

"For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, 
and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage."
~1 Corinthians 7:14 ~
NLT

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

awakening ...

a cloud covers the sun as it rises bright over the
water.  defiant, it is determined to rise
above the grey clouds.  rays break forth.
knifing through the water, a fin glides and
ever so gracefully, another smaller one appears.
nosing along the shallows, the two dolphins work
in synchronized movements to corral smaller fish.
now the sun has broken completely free of the
grey.  glorious.  glowing.  grateful.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2 John 1:13

13 The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.
[NIV]

2 John is a short one chapter book of the Bible, with only thirteen verses.
The Apostle John wrote this as a letter, and depending on the translation, 
it is addressed to either a sister congregation, or the lady of a house and her children.
The apostles often stayed at the home of a believer when they were traveling,
and so either translation could be true.

In all translations, this much is clear ... 
John is writing to someone he considers to be family,
whether in the sense of them being all children of God,
or someone he is related to.

In this chapter, John stresses again that we should love one another,
and he also warns about those who would deceive us,
and trick us into following their wicked ways.
Especially family.

10-11 If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
[MSG]

Yes, we must love one another ... including family.
But we must also guard our hearts ... and our souls ... from those who would harm us.
Even if they are family.

Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Honor.  Respect.  Praise.  Glorify.  Celebrate.
Love.

We can love, honor, praise, glorify, celebrate, love and forgive our family.
But that doesn't mean we have to participate in their lives or follow their actions,
especially when those actions are contrary to what God teaches us.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

a Sunday drive #6

  It was an Amazing Grace kind of day.  Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.  Powerful.  Incredible.  Wonderful.  Spiritual miracle.

  It started early this morning while I was driving.  I was just talking to God (as always) and said that I wished we could just sit down and talk, face to face, and even tho I seemed to always be talking to Him, I just wished I could hear His voice like I've been reading in the Old Testament.  I just felt at times I was "putting words in His mouth" by imagining His half of our conversations ... much like I did as a child with my imaginary friend.

  I turned on the radio and they were doing re-runs of the week day WAY-FM DJ shows.  This morning it was Melissa Moore and she was taking phone calls about those tough questions kids ask, and how moms handle them.

  Guess what the first question I heard was?

Why can't we talk to God like they did in the Old Testament?

  Yeah, I know.  Chill bumps.

  So the day went really well, and on my way home as always, I passed the church I photographed last weekend [and blogged about here].  This time, however, the doors to the church were open.

  Now, I had planned on going home, walking the dogs, eating some pasta, doing some laundry, getting ready for my last week of work ... the usual Sunday night do-do-to-do list since I procrastinated all week long.  But just about the time I passed the church and thought, "oh, how cool, they are having services," God spoke and said "turn around and go back, you need church today."  [In my head, of course, nothing like Moses on the mountain that probably would have made me drive off the road and wreck ~ and no, I'm not "hearing" voices so those family members that like to call the police on me to harass me check on my well being don't need to start dialing].

  Of course, because I still think I'm putting words in His mouth, I said, "uh, no can do, going straight home, dogs need a long walk, got laundry to do, maybe another time since I'm almost a mile away now."

  So God 'spoke' again and said "turn around and go back, you need church today, the dogs will wait."  So I did.

  Now ... I'm in the middle of nowhere really.  It is a small country church that only has services twice a month.  As I walked up the ramp to the door, imagine my surprise when I recognized the preacher and his wife.  The preacher used to be the handy-dude who did 90% of my remodeling projects about eight years ago, but now he has quit that business and has gone into the God business.

  Yeah, I know.  Chill bumps.

  So long post shorter... the message [1 Peter 1:13] was incredible and exactly what I needed to hear, the preacher's wife has a possible lead on a full time job for me, and the church members (all 14 of them) felt compelled to bless me with a financial gift after I asked for prayers for a full time job.  Certainly NOT what I was expecting when I turned the car around, or what I expected when I asked for prayers.

    The following is a scripture that was given to me by one of the members just before I left.  It brought my day full circle back to that question about having a conversation with God.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
In those days when you pray, I will listen. 
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 
I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11-14 ~

  Oh, and did I mention they let a dog attend church with us?  It was so cool.  And just in case you were wondering ... the dogs did wait ... no clean up on Aisle 4 when I got home!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

a little of here and there ...

Moon rise Friday night ...
Tiny fingernail moon.
 Sunrise Saturday ...
Yes ... I could be comfortable here ...
Tonight's sunset.
The rainbow actually went up behind that grey cloud and was lightly in the large white cloud.
It was incredible...

Friday, August 9, 2013

5 minutes: lonely

GO:

I grew up feeling lonely, but never alone.  Even though we moved frequently as a military family when I was growing up, and I often had "new kid" syndrome ... I was never really alone.  Books were my constant companions, libraries my first found places.

At times during my day, I may feel lonely, but never alone.  I've been working with the school district's summer day care program, and spend most of the day with 85 children who demand constant attention, but repay it with occasional shy, one arm hugs or just standing near me holding my hand.  Even at home, I'm greeted at the door by the dogs, anxious to walk and be fed.  As we return to the house after our walk, the cat comes out from under the bushes where he has spent most of the day at his request.  He yells a greeting of sorts, then jumps onto my back and sits across my shoulders as we all go into the house to eat dinner.

I lay down in bed at night, to read my Bible out loud.  The cat purrs near my head, the big dog leans against my back, the beagle listens intently from her place on the bed, her breathing slowing to a low snore as she relaxes and sleeps.

We are not alone, and have never been throughout this time in our lives.  God has been with us from the beginning ... carrying us at times, hugging us, and always holding our hands.

STOP.
"[Lord] turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted."
~ Psalm 25:16 ~
AMP
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 8, 2013

condolences ...

My step-father passed away recently.

I suppose that technically he was an ex-step-father,
but because he was the father to my sisters
[technically a step and a half]
[which now sounds like a journey ...
which is sort of what life, love and families are]
...
I still considered him to be part of my family circle.

When I got the news, 
the first thing I did after messaging condolences and sending cards to my sisters
was to call my mom and offer her condolences.

She was surprised, but grateful.
Even though she was no longer with him,
he had been a part of her heart for many years,
and they shared a daughter
and grandsons.

She remarked that when my father died,
no one offered her condolences,
except me,
and she had felt very much left out and alone at that time.

Image Source
Yes, their marriage had ended for whatever reasons,
but a part of her still loved him,
just as a part of her still loved my step-father.

When someone has open heart surgery,
[which is what a divorce can feel like]
there is always a scar.
Sometimes that scar stays new and pink for many years.
Sometimes it fades away until it is no longer seen.

No matter how long ago the surgery,
there is still something that remains in the heart that remembers that person.

The next time you are offering condolences ...
is there someone else whose heart might also need a hug?

forgiveness...

forgiveness isn't just what you can do for
others.  it is what you can do for yourself.
releasing yourself from the burden of hurt and anger, it
gives you the freedom to reach out and reach up
in love.  when we do the
very thing our pride tells us not to do, we
embrace joy and peace.  we
need that feeling of love, joy, grace and peace
every day in our lives to grow, to not become
stagnant with bitterness.
stretch your heart, raise your arms.  forgive.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

enjoying simple pleasures ...

a walk on the beach
cold water ... to drink and for my feet
laughing at my dogs as they play
snuggling with my cat as he sleeps
sunrise
sunset
moon rise
cool breezes and gentle rains
a cardinal singing outside my window
watching a squirrel walk the tight wire to get from tree to pole to pole to tree
the slow glide of an osprey over the water ... fishing
fishing with my husband
listening to the water whisper and laugh
laughter
hugs
joy
kisses
his touch
His touch on our lives and the miracle of His grace for us

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

steps...

  I've been taking steps this week towards many bigger things ...

  I wrote a note to someone whose actions hurt my feelings quite a bit.  I apologized for what I felt caused the distance, and said how much it had hurt that they had pulled away.  I told them that I had always felt we were friends.  The kind of friends who could talk about anything and everything, and so the silence had been especially painful for me.

  It was a step towards standing up for myself more.

  I also wrote a thank you note to someone who appeared at my door a year ago and changed my life with one small act of kindness.

  It was a step towards appreciating this past year for what it has been ... and appreciating the life in that year.

  I interviewed for a job this morning ... and got it.  Part time, but it is a steady job, with set hours and days, and I still have the option to substitute in the mornings.  It was not the location I really wanted, but I'm beginning to believe that it is doing what my heart really wants to do.

  It is a step towards getting where I want to be.

  I've begun to realize that sometimes when things seem overwhelming, hopeless, and dark ... if I just keep taking steps towards the light, things do get better.

I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
~ Psalm 17:4-6~
NLT

Monday, August 5, 2013

cleaning house ...

  I have started listing things again on eBay.  Not so much because I "have to" this time around, but simply because it is time to let go of the things that have kept me holding onto the past.  Things that were part of the old me in the old life.  They just don't work for me anymore ... this new me, looking forward to a new life.
   I still love these art prints by Marjolein Bastin, but don't see a future house that they will fit into.  It's a good thing, really.  Before I bought this house here in Florida, the houses I lived in were decorated how "he" (the husband du annĂ©e ~ and if I've butchered my French, my apologies) wanted them decorated.  I had no say in decorating at all.  Ever.  In fact, when my 2nd ex completely redecorated the interior of the house in an effort to woo me back  ~ he was completely clueless that he had again decorated it to his own tastes.

  It was exactly the same, but completely different.

  When I bought this house, I decorated it how I wanted to, without consideration for what it would be like to share it with anyone.  I really didn't expect to share it with anyone, actually, because I never expected to be married again.

  Foolish me, however, fell for a guy with a kid, and like a glutton for punishment, married him.  I made concessions for my step-son by selling all of the guest bedroom furniture to buy a bunk bed and decor that he liked ... can't blame me for the red wall and Chinese ninjas.  He was only with us for summers and school breaks, but I wanted him to feel "at home."

  Yeah, that lasted about as long as an ice cream cone on a hot August afternoon.  The red wall was repainted blue, the Chinese decor and bunk bed went out the door with the man and boy.  I decorated (again) with no intention of sharing my home with anyone but the occasional overnight guest.

  Now, I'm married again and as soon as I financially can, will be moving to a home that WE choose together, and that WE decorate together.  I've learned that decorating a home isn't just how it looks ... it is how it feels, and it is a reflection of the love in the home....

  My houses before didn't reflect love.  They reflected material possessions and money.  They were decorated not for comfort, but to show off what we had and what we could buy.  I did that when I was single because I'd never understood what it meant to decorate with love.  I thought that decorating with love meant that your guests found your sofa or spare bed so comfortable that they fell asleep right away.

  I've learned that when you really decorate with love ... it doesn't matter how much you spent on that sofa or extra bed ... it doesn't matter what color the walls are, or whether or not that is a numbered and signed art print.  What matters is how much love you have in your home, and how your guests feel in your presence.

  I don't have those expensive love seat recliners anymore that I just "had to" have.  I don't have a dining room table handmade in Mexico, or even a spare bed with a Sealy pillow top mattress ~ unless you want to sleep on the $50 twin in the living room that is doubling as my sofa.

  But I have love, and I am loved, and with that, we will decorate our home ...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

distant thunder

lightning dances
in the sky behind clouds of
grey and black
high above me
to the west and
north, the wind blows towards me
it looks like fireworks exploding in the
night sky and I hear the distant
growl of thunder approaching

Saturday, August 3, 2013

let me lift him up ...

  One of the precious monkeys angels I work with at the school summer day care program is a mischievous precious hyperactive energetic six year old who I will just call "L."

  L is really a sweet kid ... really.  I mean, at six years old, who wasn't or isn't a sweet kid?  Six year old monkeys angels are just on the cusp of being in "real" school, they are learning all about what buttons to push to make you pull your hair out reading and writing and basic math.  They are like small sponges with feet and hands ... and mouths that repeat everything they have heard or seen...

  L frequently winds up sitting alone in time out because he mimics things he has seen going on at home ... the language, the behavior, the physical interactions.  It is a sad situation because while we have "guidelines" and rules for behavior at our program ... they aren't the same as what goes on at home, which is absolutely nothing apparently minimal.

  Recently when L's mother came to pick him up in the afternoon and found out that he had gotten a write up for inappropriate language, "Mom" loudly threatened spoke to him telling him that when they got home she was going to beat his f*&king a$$ and he better be glad she didn't have a belt there or she would do it right then.  When "Grandma" drops him off in the morning it is with these words of ugliness love "Be good or your mother will beat your a$$."

  My heart breaks for this sweet child, who is just trying to figure out his place in this world, and perhaps with a mild medication for his hyperactivity could be a focused and loving young man.  Instead, he will wind up learning nothing about love ... and everything about anger and hate.

  There is nothing I can do except lift him up and encourage him when I have a few hours with him ... and hold him in my prayers.  If I could ask "Mom" anything, it would be this ...

  If you didn't want your child, why didn't you just put him up for adoption?  There are so many wannabemothers who would have gladly taken this child and given him a home filled with love ... I certainly would have ...

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 minutes: story

GO:

I went to a new church Wednesday night.  I've been hoping to find a church "home" where I could plant roots and grow.  The service that night was "not the usual" service, it was a special event, but I think God knew what He was doing when He put me on the path that lead me there.

That night there were people who were there to tell their story.  Their testimony about how God had worked in their lives, their marriages, their homes to heal their brokenness.  As they told their stories, I sat with tears streaming down my face.  Yes, that was me, yes, that could have been me, yes, that was how I felt, yes, that was how things were.

In telling their stories, I could embrace mine.  I could accept my brokenness and know that I needed to also be transparent in my story telling.  That there was no reason for shame, no reason to hide, no reason to doubt.  Because my story could be her story, or his story, or their story.  Your story, his story, her story could be my story.

When we share those stories of brokenness and healing, we share hope.  We share joy, we share love and laughter.  We share our belief and our faith ... and our story becomes something that lifts up someone else to encourage them to share their story ... which just continues to spread those branches of healing ... from those roots that are planted in faith.

A story can be that salve of healing for someone ... that lets them know that they are not transparent ~ that they are seen and heard and loved ... no matter what has happened to them, no matter what they have done.

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
~ Psalm 145:6-8 ~
NLT
Five Minute Friday

around the table ...

My life the last several years has been a journey around tables.

Many years ago, I answered the ring of the doorbell, and my father stood there with a chair in his arms. He had taken it upon himself to purchase a dining room table and china cabinet for me that he saw at a garage sale. The cherry wood table with seating for eight and the almost floor-to-ceiling china cabinet were out of place in my small dining room, but they were gifted with love. and soon filled and covered with love as well.

I surrounded my table with friends at least once or twice a month as we gathered for board games and dinner. Every few months I would host a potluck party for friends from all areas of my life that would double as an excuse to gather toys and treats for the military working dog teams I sponsored. Guests could bring food to share, or a gift for the dogs and their handlers which I would ship off to teams deployed in the Middle East conflicts.

Those were good times around my table then, the house echoed with laughter … and barking dogs.

After my father passed away, the table and hutch were passed on to a co-worker who had a need for a large table for his growing family. I downsized to a round table for four that fit my house, but still had room for the friends that continued to gather around it.

A move out of state, a marriage, a cancer diagnosis, a decision to leave a stressful job and return to my “roots.” The table was sold to fund the trip home.

My dining room stands empty now, but I can still hear the echoes of laughter. Above all, I can still believe God’s promises for us in this time. Promises to never leave us and to always provide for us. There will be a dining room table again in my future, and it will always be surrounded by those we love, the music of laughter filling the air, and the satisfaction of being fed with the bread of life … around the table.
My grandmother (standing), Mom (turned to look at camera)
and my Uncle Brian sitting next to her, also turned to look.

Psalm 104:15 There is wine to make people glad. There is olive oil to make them healthy. And there is bread to make them strong.

Acts 14:17 But he has given proof of what he is like. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven. He gives you crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food. He fills your hearts with joy.”

Matthew 6:25-26 “I tell you, do not worry. Don’t worry about your life and what you will eat or drink. And don’t worry about your body and what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than eating? Aren’t there more important things for the body than clothes? “Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dear Donald Trump, Barbara Corcoran ...

... Shark Tank "Sharks" and any other visionary real estate moguls and developers;

  I remember a past where shopping centers were thriving, bringing jobs and money to small urban communities.  They were usually anchored by a large chain grocery store, then smaller stores and restaurants that catered to the community's needs.

  Now these centers have become part of the urban blight that plagues communities, towns and cities across this county.  Sitting empty, they speak to a depressed economy ... and the depression of the people who live in that community.

  The first chapter of my book, Trooper's Run, was based on my final thesis when I was working on my Master's of Business Administration degree.  In it, I took a failed shopping center and revitalized it into a center that was specialized to the needs of the community.

  Instead of tearing down, or clearing forested land, and building new buildings, can't we find a way to recycle what we have?  If not a dog care themed center, what about a school or child care center?  What about a medical center?  Or even a church and school?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to have fewer vacant buildings, and more green spaces, by utilizing the space we have?

  I have a dream ... that one day there are no more vacant shopping centers and instead there are centers filled with people who are proud of their jobs, their creations, their community.

 I have a dream that one day instead of urban blight ... we have urban light.


                                                                                          Respectfully,
                                                                                               Cindi Summerlin

“Trooper’s Run” was every dog’s dream park and day care facility. Cidney had designed it with her large dog in mind, knowing how he loved to run and play. She had wanted a facility where she knew he and his play buddies would be safe and protected from the elements, especially in the sometimes harsh Alaskan winters.

The large grocery store had been converted to an indoor dog park with a running track along the interior perimeter of the space that would allow for a continuous run. Ramps had been constructed that gradually took the running dogs up and over the doorways, and an eight foot Plexiglas wall kept the dogs within the run and also allowed her to see where they all were, as well as allowing the dogs to see what was going on in the rest of the space.

In the center of the building, four rooms for dogs and an office had been built with tall Plexiglas walls. All of the rooms and each corner of the run were equipped with cameras that relayed images to a website where owners could click into each room to watch their dogs during the day.

Three months after the Run opened, she opened the Dirty Dog Wash. Cidney had installed a row of large waist high tubs, sinks and walk-in tubs where owners could come in and wash their dogs. For less than what a professional groomer would charge to bathe a large dog, she provided the water, shampoo, clean towels, and blow dryers for clients to do it themselves. She wondered at first if it had been a mistake to open it, whether or not the local community would even want something like that. Two weeks after it opened, however, she could barely keep up with the laundry. Not only did the local dog owners come in for the convenience of being able to bathe their dogs without hurting their backs, but a surprising number of vacationers who traveled with their dogs were also coming in.

She opened the Bow-Wowza Bakery in November, just three months later. It was the only dog friendly bakery and coffee shop in town that the health department had finally approved to have dogs inside the shop. All of the cookies were made with organic ingredients and could be eaten by dogs or people. Even the carob-chip cookies were safe for dogs. The organic roasted coffee beans were also a huge success, and the warm, inviting atmosphere with light therapy lamps at each table for the dark winter months kept the bakery packed from sundown to … sundown.

The last shop she opened was the Woof-tique. The boutique was filled with unique gifts for both pets and people that had an animal theme of some sort. Cidney tried to showcase local artists in the area of all ages, and so most of the gifts were handmade and one of a kind. During the long winter, many of the locals worked on wood or bone carvings or quilting to keep them busy when it was too cold to do much outside. It soon became a favorite stop for tourists from the cruise ships and other vacationers.

Now, with the plaza’s anniversary celebrations just two weeks away, Cidney was reviewing a lease agreement and recommendations for a veterinarian that was moving to the area to open a practice.   If everything looked agreeable, he would open an office in the last vacant store front on the other side of the Woof-tique. It would complete the plaza and tie everything together.