Friday, June 30, 2017

Blessing ... in 5

Joining again today with the amazing and encouraging writers at Five Minute Friday ...

I lost everything in 2012. 
It was a blessing. 
I regained more than I lost by realizing what was really important. It was not material things.

My marriage hit a place between a rock and a hard spot in 2013. 
It was a blessing. 
We rebuilt it stronger than before by realizing what was really important. It was not anger and resentment.

My career has ridden a roller coaster over the past fifteen years, and I'm not where I once was. 
It has been a blessing. 
I was able to redefine myself and now have a job that intrigues me.

When I stopped looking at things in my life as negatives and counted them as blessings, that is what they became. Opportunities to re-do, re-make, re-define, and re-built.

Oh, I still have days when I forget to clean my glasses and see only the negatives. But that is a blessing too. It is on those days that I am reminded of the price that was paid for me to have second chances. I am comforted by His love, strengthened by His words, and encouraged by His promises.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday's Words

Rescue or Adopt ~ Don't shop!
Joining with Elephant's Child and friends and Words for Wednesday tonight...

She didn't often get visitors. She was trying not to show her excitement, but when the car pulled up in front of the door, she dropped her other shoe and was running down the hall. They had come to watch her perform in the private theatre, her passion for singing, her fluid sound unrivaled anywhere else in the world.

He watched on the CCTV as she ran down the hall. She was so young, so naïve, that she was still unaware of the prison she lived in. The managers had been dogmatic in their requirement that she was to never to know that the forest outside the windows only extended ten trees deep. They had found that it was the optimum depth for deception without being so thick that one couldn't see the forest for the trees.

The book on his lap drew his attention again, Forensic Veterinary Science. It was a new offering at the University and he needed to make an A in it if he was going to keep the scholarship.  Working security at the shelter was just to give him a quiet place to study away from the dorm. His head turned to the door as she began to sing, and smiled. Perhaps this will be the day she escapes.

Lifted up ...

I'm joining Holley Gerth this morning for some coffee and encouragement ...

Last weekend I rescued a robin fledgling whose first attempt at flying put it in harm's way.  The nest was in a cluttered storage shed on the back of a garage. A wooden fence on the end, with wire fencing on one side and the door.  The nest had been built on a shelf, protected by the elements and up high enough to keep stray cats from finding it.

The fledgling had managed to fall between two large barrels, too tall for it to climb its way out, and for its parents to bring it food.  It sat stuck and squawking for help, but all the parents could do was to call helplessly back to it.  Had I not realized what happened, it most likely would have starved to death.

Of course, in the process of finding and rescuing it, I scared it quite a bit. When I was finally able to hand it off to my husband because in moving things around to get to it I was momentarily trapped, it squawked loudly which made the parents dive-bomb David's head. He released the fledgling and the parents swooped in to feed and encourage it to fly to safety.

I like to think of God's love surrounding us like a shell. Protecting us from what might harm us. But sometimes our "free will" and stubbornness puts us in precarious situations. We flap our wings, fight and claw to do things our way. We turn up our heads and turn our backs on Him because we "know better" what is best for us.  We try to fight what we know He wants for our lives because sometimes, like Job, we don't want to do something. It may be difficult, or frightening, or different than what we are used to doing. He sometimes even asks us to give up everything we have ever known to be safe and comfortable, just to follow Him into the unknown.

God will let us get away with that rebellious behavior for as long as it takes for us to realize that we need Him.  He will let us squawk, yell, cry, threaten, and beg until we finally do what it is that He really wants from us. Until we finally say, "Yes, Lord, yes. Let Your will be done in my life. You are Adonai. You are my Lord. I know your plans for me are not to harm me but to lift me up. To rescue me from my mistakes, and from my own destructive, rebellious tendencies. You love me, just as I am, and I am yours."

And when we finally relinquish the hold on our lives and turn our lives over to Him, what does he do?

He teaches us how to fly.





Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday's list ... 26 of 52 or 2

If you follow Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project, I'm a little behind the times since I only just started. Technically, this would be week 26, halfway through the year.  But for me, it is week two.

26/2: List the things you would change in your life right now if you could.

There is a 1990 movie called Mr. Destiny that starred Michael Caine and Jim Belushi. It is about how one small change in our lives can impact everything else. Sort of a modern take on It's a Wonderful Life. That being said, sometimes wanting to change something in our lives can come with unexpected (and usually unwanted) consequences.  Knowing that if I were to change certain life events in my past would alter my future, I would have to say that there is nothing I would change.

But if I were given the opportunity to change things in my current situation, these are the things I would change:

1. A home of our own, not a rented upstairs room and half bath.  I really long for someplace of our own to plant gardens, paint walls, decorate, and just have some space and privacy.

2. A reliable 4wd truck for my husband, and a reliable 4wd vehicle of some sort for myself. Not necessarily new, but just ones that won't require constant repairs and will be safe in the winters here.

3. A way to repay all of our debts, so we could focus on planning a future that will leave something for David's children.

4. Better relationships with both of our families.

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 Moorea 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.