Posted in Faith, life, Writing

Desiderata “things desired”

I read the following poem on a stormy afternoon while lying in bed. The window was open and great gusts of wind carried in the smell of an approaching spring thunderstorm. Even as the sky darkened with ominous clouds, I felt at peace. A peace I wish you could know. A peace I wish everyone could know.

I happened upon this poem, not by chance I’m sure. It spoke so loudly to me, so clearly, as if it held all the answers.

I felt it needs to be shared.  It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, yet its words are timeless. Read it slow. Take it in. Roll it around in your mind. I personally plan to commit it to memory. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Strive to be happy.

Angel

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Posted in Faith, life, Spirituality

His Eyes Are on the Lilacs, And I Know He Cares For Me!

We left the arid, drought drenched plains of the Texas panhandle at the beginning of 2013 and moved to the majestic mountains of New Mexico.

It was nothing short of a complete leap of faith. There was not a job bringing us here. There was very little family here to support us. It was a dream of J-Dub’s to live here and so we shut our eyes and leapt knowing that “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. Amen? Whithersoever. Doesn’t the old KJV just say it good sometimes?

Beauty surrounds us here. Snow capped mountain tops, fields of flowers, tall pines, rolling streams, abundant wild life. That first spring of 2013 arrived and I was awed by the sight of the lilac bushes that surrounded our property.  And I do mean surrounded. They are monstrous bushes, standing well over 10 feet tall and lined up in a row, bumping into each other.  I was so anticipating the arrival of all these purple bursts of flowers, that I blogged about it here.  Yet, I was left disappointed when a late freeze blasted the buds. The next spring, once again, those tiny purple buds appeared and I held my breath only to be disappointed once again when Old Man Winter blew his icy breath on them.

Earlier this year, JDub and I made a very difficult decision that it would be the best fit for our family if we returned home. Yes, to that arid drought drenched Texas Panhandle. We must wait until school is finished, so this will be our last Spring time here. Of course, I started a list of things I would miss about this place. Of course on that list is all the things that make is so beautiful.

Right before Easter, the many lilac bushes once again showed their promise, but I didn’t hold my breath. We drove back to Texas for the Easter break and my last thoughts as we pulled out of the driveway and I gazed upon the massive bushes were, “oh well. If they do bloom, they’ll be spent by the time we return.” No faith. No faith at all on my part. Sometimes prior disappointments squash it, don’t they? We don’t want to be disappointed again. In people. In circumstances. Instead we prepare ourselves for it not to happen instead of looking toward it. Where is our hope? We replace our hope with “realism”.

But lo and behold, when we pulled back in several days later,  I was met with an awesome welcoming! Those purple (and one bush of white) lilacs were in bloom and greeting me. They were happy, I could tell it. Every blossom oozed happiness. I was overjoyed! I began laughing and whooping and clapping before I ever got out of the car.

The past several weeks the bushes have bloomed and bloomed. Their aromas have washed over me filling me with memories and pleasure. We have brought some inside and placed them in Mason jars.  Now, I’m sad to say they are at the end of their blooming season.

But I’m so glad I got to experience them, this last spring I have to live here.

It’s God you know. Of  course it is. He has a way of caring about what we care about, even little things like lilacs, which I dare to argue aren’t little things.

Now that I’m a parent, I kind of, sort of, in my very limited human capacity understand the graciousness of God a teeny tiny bit more. My little girl is the apple of my eye and I long to lavish things upon her. Just for her enjoyment. Just for the sheer reason that it will make her happy. And of course I’m reminded of Matthew 7:11 that tell us,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Isn’t that an awesome thing? All we have to do is ask and then believe. He knows what we need even before we ask. He wants to give to us. He is not one that holds back, in fact he GAVE his one and only son that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting Life. John 3:16

He GAVE the ultimate gift. Our God is a gracious giver. He will give us what we need.

Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Why do we worry about our needs when we can call upon the God of the World, the Creator of all, the one who tells the lilacs when and where to bloom to help us?

Is there something you are consumed with? Are you worrying about a detail of this life?

Read again Matthew 25-32 and be reassured.  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Friends, I am preaching to myself! Since deciding to move back to our hometown, J-Dub and I have experienced quite a few roadblocks. We have worried. We have fretted. We have doubted. I have wondered if God is going to come through. But I can tell you, when I think about my past and I think about the things He has done, and I read the promises from His word, I can affirmatively answer that Yes, he will come through. He has yet to let me down.

It’s the original work of Satan, to lie to us and to make us doubt God’s word. Recognize it as such. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, wasn’t that the words of the Serpent? He began with “Did God really say………” He planted enough doubt in Eve’s heart that she sinned.

Yet we are told that the promises of God are Yes and Amen. We are told that those who believe in Him will not be made ashamed. Look and see that the Lord is good. He will come through for you. He will come through for me.

So open your arms and receive my friends.

Be blessed!
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Posted in Family

Sunday Dinner

There are not many memories in my mental Rolodex that cause me to feel as warm and fuzzy as the memories of Sunday dinner (dinner meaning lunch here) at my mother’s mother, Grannie Silcott’s, house. The menu didn’t vary much. It mostly consisted of roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. There was leeway at times with an additional hot roll or carrots or a salad, but there was always the top 4–roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. Grannie S. would put the roast in the oven in the morning before she struggled into her stockings and applied a little rouge on her cheeks and off we’d hustle to Central Baptist Church for Sunday school and church.

You see I spent almost every weekend of my early childhood with my Grannie Silcott. She was widowed and now that I look back on it, I suspect she was lonesome. She was my safe place. She had a cozy home that was predictable and routine, not at all like my own. We would sit together on Saturday nights in her little TV room and watch Golden Girls followed by 227, and Cagney and Lacey. Then we’d head off to bed together.  We would recite “another day, another dollar” even though neither of us had made a cent while she rubbed some awful smelling ointment on her knees for her arthritis. Then she’d lay down, pull up the covers, and roll away from me. I would ask her to snuggle me, but she wouldn’t.  “You snuggle me,” she’d answer. So I’d wiggle myself up to her back and bury my nose until I grew used to the smell of that awful arthritis ointment and fall asleep.

She’d always rise early and have the roast on before I was up. We’d recite “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” before preparing ourselves for church where we sat about seven rows from the back.

At the end of each Baptist sermon, the preacher would have an altar call.

“With every head bowed and every eye closed,” he’d begin his prayer for the lost souls.  I knew this was the time. I’d peek up at Grannie and she’d be gathering her purse, and with every head bowed and every eye closed, we’d sneak out the back door.  We had a roast in the oven!

She wasn’t one to try to teach me how to cook; I was more of an inconvenience so she’d let me watch and at least I got to use the electric can opener to open the cans of green beans and corn.  And setting the table. What kid doesn’t grow up having to set the table? I’d set her colorful Fiesta dishes around the old round table and always have to ask which side to put the fork on. I still don’t know the answer to that. We’d drag in some extra chairs from the living area and just as the potatoes were being mashed, the rest of the family would begin arriving. Cousins, aunts, and uncles. Grannie would be putting the food on the table as everyone was making their way to a chair. Then a day of fun and family would commence, with everyone talking at once.

It was in my early teenage years, after my mom and dad had separated, that Sunday dinner held a new purpose. My dad had left Pampa and moved back to Tahlequah. It was the time before cell phones and social media. Back when it cost money to call long distance. Grannie Silcott had upgraded from a rotary phone to a cordless that set on the desk in her kitchen. Just like clock work, every Sunday around 12:30 the phone would ring and it would be my dad calling to talk. Of course it interrupted our meal, but he knew it was the only time he absolutely knew he could catch us there together and could talk to me and my sister. I remember his voice on the phone, making jokes about what we were eating. “Let me guess,” he’d say. “I bet you’re having roast, potatoes, green beans and corn.”Most of the time he was right, but some times I got to tell him he forgot the rolls or the carrots or salad.  He’d tell me he wished he was there. I always thought he meant because of the meal, but now, many years later, I understand it wasn’t the meal he was missing.

After Grannie Silcott died in 2004, the Sunday dinners died with her. We don’t get together as a family much anymore. Of course, there’s the big dinners: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. And of course we always try to celebrate birthdays but it isn’t like it used to be.

In the past two and half years that me and J-Dub moved away from Pampa, I have come to understand the importance of family. Of memories. Of cousins and aunts and uncles. Of Sunday dinners.  It takes just a little absence of family to begin to realize that it’s because of them we live and breathe.

Our world moves so fast. Our lives are complicated. We’re too involved in keeping our kids schedules cram packed that we often can’t sit down for a meal with extended family without an excuse like a wedding or a funeral. I want my kids to have the memories that I cherish. The love that was shown by my grandmother each and every week putting a hot meal on the table for all her kids. I want my kids to have some traditions they recall fondly when they’re grown.

So today I did it. I put a roast in the oven before I struggled— not into my stockings—- but into my skinny jeans for church this morning.  I applied a little blush to my cheeks and hustled out the door. We returned to a house smelling like Grannie Silcott’s on Sundays. It wasn’t exactly the same. It wasn’t even remotely the same. There were more differences than similarities between my Sunday dinner and hers, but it’s a start. One that I hope to continue.

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This is my Grannie Silcott and Pop. Taken before I was born, as I never remember her hair any shade of color except gray. She was 69 when I was born and was old all my life.
Posted in Dear Diary, life

And the Earth Renews

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Glory, glory to this early spring day!

Although I woke from a very restless sleep, my body groaning under the weight of its 40 years: hips and hamstrings, neck and knees, the outside world renews me. I’m so glad my 3-year-old wanted to dress and head directly outside, despite my opposition.

The birds are so happy today and why shouldn’t they be? They are announcing the coming of a glorious day.

The earth is wet from either a heavy dew or a light rain and it doesn’t take long for Emma’s shoes to grow wet all the way to her pale pink socks, as she frolics and plays.  The sun is warming the world ever so slowly, removing the chill, granting the warmth.

There is an earthy smell of rebirth in the air. The wind carries it on its breath. Nothing can keep quiet. Nothing can be still, for this day is indeed worth shouting about. The whole of nature is trumpeting the coming of spring!

So I sit with the small pleasure of life: coffee, front porches, pen and paper, and wet tennis shoes. I watch the world in all its activity. My little black cat pounces and climbs, pausing on occasion to stare at something unseen to me, and switch her tail in eager anticipation. And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, the icing on the cake—–a “butterfly”, as my daughter calls them dances by.  She’s black with yellow rimmed wings. She too heard the call of nature, felt the breezes, heard the birds, smelled the dampness of the earth and yet, knowing her days were short, came out to play.

Apple trees are in bloom, lilac bushes are in bud.  I say to them, “careful, careful, not too soon. Have patience”. But surely they know better than I.

My senses take it all in. My soul exhales the dregs of winter. Truly nature is where we find rest yet energy, calmness yet revitalization, serenity yet pulse. A place of reprieve, of lessons, of growth, of birth.

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring.~~Bernard Williams

Glory, Glory to this early spring day!!

Posted in Children, Family

Summertime Splash

Do you think my kid could use a bigger pool?  Or even one of those plastic ones with a built in slide instead of our redneck contraption here?

There’s not even any room to splash in this thing.

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She doesn’t mind, trust me.  We’re talking about a kid who won’t even lay down in the bathtub.  This super chill girl is more than content to sit and soak her feet.  But really, once we put the slide and the ring and the kid in the pool, there’s not much room for anything else.

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Oh my goodness, this teeny weeny pool just drives it home to me.  How in the world did she already outgrow this?  This was last year’s swimming pool, the smallest they made.  Because after all, she was pretty small.  A one year old, practically a wittle baby.

But not anymore, now she’s a whole year older and apparently a whole lot bigger. This summer I pulled out the little plastic guy and discovered many little puppydog teeth marks that were keeping it from holding water.  Never underestimate the power of duct tape.  After a few little patches here and there, it’s just like a brand new one.   Since the weather was relatively warm, we (meaning EK) dove right in.

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Summertime and the living is easy.  We don’t get very many days here that are hot enough to endure that icy cold water straight from the hose kind of swimming, so we got to take advantage of it while we can.

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Just today I saw a post on pinterest that said something along the lines of “Don’t save things for special occasions.  Today is a special occasion.”  How true.

Just watching my little girl sing in the pool with not a care in the world for either of us makes today a special occasion.

Maybe tonight we’ll eat our ramen noodles off the fine china.

Posted in Children, Family, Uncategorized

The Joy of Childhood

She just turned 26 months old.  I know I’m not supposed to do that anymore, you know, count her months.  But I’m just going to make my own rules up as I go.  Time is too precious to just cast it aside and not see every moment for the treasure that it is.

Guess what we did today?

We built a snowman.  Not a real snowman of course.   It’s actually a blustery, warm spring day, not a flake in sight,  but it was her first day to watch the movie Frozen.  Afterwards, she asked if I wanted to build a snowman with her.  “Come on,” she said patting her thigh as if calling a dog,  so of course I did.

She is such a joy.  So smart.  She pretends and plays make-believe all day long.  One minute she’s Cinderella, forcibly kicking off her plastic dress up shoe and saying she better get in her carriage while running to sit in her pink Barbie Jeep, and the next minute she is pouring tea for me and adding spoonfuls of sugar.  She goes on Bear Hunts and squelch-squearches through the mud and peels pinecones apart declaring they are surprise eggs and wonders what’s inside.

We built our snowman today with a carrot nose made from a blue piece of wire found in the yard and two eyes and arms she stuck in the ground.

Her shoes were on the wrong feet, chocolate smudged her lips.

Her dog-ears had long since lost their snugness and flopped haphazardly.

She searched for crickets and got scared by something and ran to my side.

I lay in the grass just watching her and feeling filled to the measure with happiness and joy that she is mine.

Our days are filled with magical make-believe, chocolate kisses and snowmen fashioned from dirt.

It’s been a very long time since my own childhood, but I can vividly remember the games I played with my own imagination.  How magical my world of pretend was.

Watching EK grow and play in this same make-believe way takes me to a place I used to know.  It reawakens a child I used to be.  I remember care-free days where nothing really mattered.

And now all that truly matters is that this little dog-eared 2-year-old (ahem……26 month old) who brings me such joy.

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Posted in Family, Uncategorized

Hiking the PCT

I woke up this morning moaning.

The first thing that came into my mind was, “oh my neck, oh my back.  Oh my neck and my back”.

It’s nothing more than a mass of knots and pain.  Caused from carrying EK on my back yesterday on a hike in the woods, you know in one of those backpacks that holds kids.

This one to be exact.

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You see, I read a book called Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and it’s kind of sent me into a frenzy.  I can’t explain it.  The book is a memoir about a lady who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself.  If you’re not familiar with the PCT, like I was, it is a stretch that runs from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington.  It took her three months, carrying everything she needed to survive on her back, living, eating, sleeping, and pooping in the wilderness.  All alone.  A switch went off in my brain.  A desire to do the same.

Then a flash of reality went off in my brain reminding me I am 1) married 2) a mother 3) nearly forty 4)  smarter than that.

So me and my brain, we compromised.  I may not be able to hike the PCT, but I can go hike in the woods around me, my own personal PCT known as Perk Canyon Trail.  So me and EK decided to do just that.

I strapped her on my back and we headed up.

About 14 steps up a very easy trail, I questioned my decision.  It wasn’t easy.

It proved to actually be pretty hard.  And I was reminded of a poster that hung in the Dyslexic teacher’s classroom at my former school.  In big bold letters it read, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

I can do hard things, I kept telling myself.

In the book, Strayed keeps mentioning the weight of her pack was heavier than most backpackers.  She never said the weight, but said it was at least half of what she weighed.   I’m figuring an average 26 year old lady at about 120-130 pounds, so she’s probably carrying at least 60 pounds.  Me, on the other hand, I’m carrying probably 25–30.  And it ain’t easy for me.

A little ways up the trail, the air became a little nippy, so I stopped at a log to remove EK and put her jacket on her.  It was a welcome relief.  She then wanted to walk a little ways, and I was glad to have to only carry the pack without the added 22 pounds.

It is a real joy watching her exploring the woods, considering how she’s gonna cross this bride.

With mama’s helping hand of course.

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Even getting off of logs proved to be a challenge.

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Of course she had to stop and tie her “untie able” shoes after watching me tie mine, since she had been the one to bend over and untie mine, of course.

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Later, I strapped her back in and we continued on.  The leaves this time of year are remarkable.  The colors are vibrant, although pictures don’t really do them justice.

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The silence surrounds you.  The only sounds are the crunching of your feet, the occasional call of a bird or flutter of their wings, and the rush of the water in the nearby stream falling over the rocks.

Eventually, EK fell asleep, her head bumping into mine, forbidding her to get a good sound rest.  She finally laid her head against mine, pushing my neck forward, causing the tension in my upper back to increase.  I lifted up on the pack, adjusting it, trying to relieve some discomfort without disturbing her, but it was only temporary.

It was a great time.  It wasn’t the PCT.   Thank goodness.  It wasn’t 3 months but only shy of 3 hours.   But it was enough.

If my back didn’t hurt so badly today, we might even do it again.  Maybe.

I hope EK learns to love nature.  There is just something about it.  Something everyone should experience.  We need to escape this modern world every now and again, and find solace in the wild.

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And sometimes, we need to trade in our hiking shoes for some heels.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

****The youngest to hike the real PCT was 9 years old.  Something to think about.