Category Archives: A Door Ajar

Relationships are like doorways to our lives. When we close our doors fresh air, light and fresh perspectives don’t get in. Sometimes it’s best to leave the door ajar.

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Have I mentioned the frustratingly unstable internet connection here in my cottage? I often miss the good old days, hard-wiring Ethernet cables into the backs of desktop computers. They were buggers to move about, but the connection was usually dependable.

*

Annoying as the unreliable cable/WiFi repeater service here often is, I get by. I utilize my laptop, my smart phone and my tablet. By tablet I mean my old Galaxy S (ahem) 3.

When nobody else is home and the cable service isn’t down – yet again, I can also carry my laptop up to the main house and log in there. And when all else fails I can drive into town and connect at the local library, book store or coffee shops. Above and beyond security risks the latter comes with a myriad of distractions and diversions. One of the perks to being me is having nothing anyone else wants. Still, public WiFi is an absolute last-resort.

I consider myself blessed to have options.

This all brings me to another reason why I especially appreciate the blogging community. It’s another aspect of how marvelously God draws like-minded people together.

  • Like me, most of my blogger friends strive to post only seasoned, final drafts. Even so, sometimes mine have little errors. On the rare occasions I don’t catch an “oops” between scheduling and an actual posting, at least one of my fellow blogger friends (knowing I’d agonize over such a thing) will shoot a heads up my way right away. Typically mockery and witticisms ensue at both ends.
  • The same friends also realize I often comment from the aforementioned GS3 device – with not-so-nimble fingers. They kindly correct obvious keying errors before approving them (yeah, typos).
  • Then there are the ever-so-fun Speech-to-Text translations that can hijack an intended point, confusing the cleverest comment – often hilariously so. These same friends intercede as necessary.

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So finally, my point (you’re welcome):

We all experience times when life and technology seem to get the better of us. Life itself is a learning process. In the grand scheme of things, however silly I may feel, I’m delighted to find that often I’m not the only silly soul around. I believe God orchestrates us to bring out the best in one another. This helps us get over ourselves in the kindest ways possible.

 

“Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.” 1 Peter 4:8 (The Voice*)

 

*The Voice Bible (VOICE) Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

*Image and Feature Image courtesy Pixabay

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Acquiesce

I was to board another plane soon. Nothing new: hurry, clear security, find the right gate, and then wait. Walk around. And wait…

With planning and foresight long journeys have never been that big a deal. But as this third departure date neared the deal felt huge. Traveling on an unforgiving budget required me rising at ungodly hours. By ungodly I mean – no matter how I tried to rest – I’d drag my exhausted self up 60 – 90 minutes after I finally drifted off to sleep.

Despite all my forethought and intentions, as desperately as I wanted restful sleep before traveling, my mind unfailingly kept me awake. The beast is simply unruly.

*

I was packed and ready to walk out the door. And yet hours after praying and retiring as I’d planned I was still awake, rehashing my mental check list:

  • Clean house.
    • Why? First thing upon returning I will clean again.
      • Wait. Did I vacuum under the bed…
  • It’s been too long since I visited the grand kids. Skype and Phone calls don’t tell all.
    • What if they don’t like their gifts?
  • What if my hand washables don’t dry in time – a first ever since the 1960’s?

This is crazy. I  MUST sleep.

  • Did I chuck perishables from my ‘fridge? I don’t want foul ‘fridge when I get back.
    • I refuse to get up and check.
  • What is that smell? Did I overlook something?
  • Crap. Did I pack the new underwear?
    • I am NOT getting up to check.
  • Did I send the final version of my last submission?
    • (Still haunted by that time I actually posted a first draft by mistake,) a panic-stricken Roo sprang from the bed, unpacked the laptop, started it up… Yes, I’d sent the “final.”
      • I repacked even better this time.

Before long I wondered if I dozed through my alarm. My phone blindingly insisted it was after midnight. Hmmm… The date was the 29th.

My flight is at oh-dark-thirty – on the 30th.

I laughed out loud. And then prayed again, “Okay Lord, the joke’s on me. Please, please take over now.”

With that amen I was sound asleep.

I awoke the next morning refreshed, energized, all packed and ready to go. After a great work out I hiked the river trail and then gathered from the garden. When it was time I went right to sleep and woke as planned.

You’d think God planned it all that way.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6, 7 (NLT)

 

*Image and Feature Image courtesy APSFreePic.com

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Sweet Harvest

 As the garden grows into full production we are all putting in even more hours than before. This week we not only contend with broken sprinkler pipes, (so hoses again) and weeds, but we now must harvest daily for peak ripeness and to maintain maximum production.

Comically, we all work on different schedules, so for about a week we assumed much, but none of us actually knew what the others were doing. Izzy was giving away surplus at work and the livestock was enjoying some overgrowth.

And then I slowed down one morning this week. Yeah, you’d think I’d have learned to do that more often by now…

Unbeknownst to me Izzy and Cole had been harvesting in the cool of the morning before they leave for their jobs in town – while I’m either keying away or snoozing in my cottage. An hour or so later I’ll unknowingly check the same sections of the garden and then harvest what they didn’t get to. But that particular morning when I put the house dogs back in I noticed their harvest in a crate. Doof!

All this time I was bringing the day’s collection into the fridge in my cottage thinking Izzy knows to check there every day.

Error.

Ordinarily, over the weekend and some evenings we girls touch bases or simply chat over a relaxing beverage.  I suspect their week away at the Lake put a hitch in our giddy-up so we miss a keystroke here and there.

I had to notice the crate in the main house kitchen to realize we’d do well to tweak our system again.

Done.

Eventually this scenario brought to mind one with the apostle Paul and the new believers in Corinth. First, duh – everyone was a new believer in Paul’s day. Similarly this is our first co-op garden experience. We usually talk about what we want to do next and what we’re learning from our agri-expert friends. For a few days we seemed to have dropped our communication signal.

We’re caught up from the vacation now.

“I (Some of us) planted the seed, Apollos (the rest of us) watered it (and weeded), but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  1 Corinthinans 3:6 – 9 (NIV – added paraphrase mine 😉 )

 

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Love Long Distance

Despite the unusual few weeks leading up to this past weekend I had an exceptionally nice two days – which was welcome after a rough week.

Typical for this time of year, schedules must be juggled. Sometimes we must reschedule my “Grand Dates” (regularly scheduled time where my grand kids – all long distances away – bring me up to speed with the previous week). For the past two, maybe three weeks everyone I usually talk with at least every other week was unavailable to Skype, Duo, talk or text.

With the days getting longer and warmer I sorely missed our times together. I stayed busy with our gang, the pups, the pastures and the gardens. Still, I wondered how my grands fared without my input, encouragement and advice – or if they even missed visiting with me. I prayed long into the SansGrands silence.

On Saturday Izzy and I rescued our patio tomato plants from curling leaves, moving them to The Garden. Knowing the move wasn’t ideal timing, we assured our precious nearly orange tomato-lings to hang in there, they’ll feel far better despite the shock of moving.

Okay, so maybe my empathy wasn’t as much for our tomatoes. The day’s gardening finished, I returned to where I’d left off in my Bible:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NIV)

The relationships I share with these amazing young humans are strong and endure occasional separations – no matter how they may feel sometimes. Still, I consider how anxious I get when my time with God gets shoved down the priority ladder. I’m a grown up (mostly) and yet I feel the burn every time my prayer time is rescheduled – or dropped.

After praying again, God’s assurance that the grands shall continue feeling the love comforted me.

I was no sooner into other chores when my phone rang. A couple of hours later two sisters and I caught up with one another. Then FirstBorn called. While waiting in a backed-up toll booth line he realized how long it had been since our last talk. We mostly prattled and reminisced some as he drove from Wadsworth to Milwaukee. By my bedtime I felt far better connected than I had in weeks.

On Sunday SecondSon’s Firstborn called. He reiterated every exciting detail of the last two ball games – that sent his team to state. And his sister, FiveYearOld, could hardly wait to describe a new growing thing she discovered in astoundingly accurate detail.

Maybe it’s just me – the ways God uses the garden and my family to bless me is amazing. Though I could hardly wait between their calls, He assures me it’s all gonna be just fine.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 2:28 (NIV)

 

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Town and Country

I’m astounded at how fast weeds can take over a row in the vegetable garden. Seriously. Each week the four of us (mostly) will get almost across the whole garden only to see that where we began is nearly overgrown again.

This week Izzy and I were weeding together. The two of us working wordlessly got me to wondering. Typically we’d have already critiqued that morning’s news, sports and upcoming events in the time we’d been silently pulling weeds – for the second time that morning. I asked her, “Are you working something out of your craw?

Her polite but vague answer confirmed what I’d imagined.


A few minutes later I chuckled aloud, but to myself.

“Share,” was all she said.

“Well, I always knew when a sister was upset (usually over a relationship) by the way she cleaned the house like Mr. Clean was coming for dinner. Living in town girls work it out by cleaning house. Country girls work it in the garden.”

Minutes later she responded, “I wonder if we actually get right to the grit of things faster in the garden. Besides, unlike people there is no doubt these weeds must be jerked.”

Ain’t it the truth?

“Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world.” James 1:19, 20 (The Voice)

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Second Hand Rosie

Every thing in my cottage is mismatched, piece worked, and mostly vintage. Aside from a few family items, I acquired most everything I own in estate sales, antique stores, flea markets, etc. Like Second Hand Rose, “I rarely get a thing that ain’t been used.” Only I don’t feel abused.

I like the stories that my stuff generate. At this point in my journey it’s fun. This wasn’t always so.

Waiting for the microwave to announce my latte is ready, I wash the dishes in the sink. Memories flow from when I acquired a mug, a plate, a spoon. I remember buying the new sheers now covering my windows – and when my kitten chewed those pin pricks in the selvage.

Not that long ago household items, or rather the stories behind them used to send me into an emotional tailspin. A little further back household stuff could set me running, usually sceamin’ like the banshee, arms flailing as if swatting away a flock of crows – Hitchcock’s The Birds style.

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When I arrived here at the ranch, this sort of behavior upset the livestock. It was time I put all I learned over the years into practice.

Long ago, before I learned to run from the memories (figuratively speaking – mostly) I’d pretend them away. Eventually fear and anguish bound and locked away much of my memory. Modern medicine calls it Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (CPTSD).

By mid-adulthood I realized this skill had robbed me of much of the joys of my life. Since I clearly hadn’t gotten over it, I got help.

I worked for years with professionals that specialize in helping people with my symptoms. Finding the right help nor the work were easy.

I wanted to quit often. But I missed out on too many good times simply because I didn’t want to remember. I knew if I really wanted to experience “normal” I mustn’t stop the work.

**

I haven’t arrived yet. But instead of the memories dragging me away like an undertow, I can now stop them in place, sort of freeze the frame. At my age eccentric behavior isn’t unusual, so it’s all good. Most of the time I can now reason that what happened didn’t kill me and obviously it won’t stop me – without veering off course.

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By the time I’d replaced nearly everything I ever owned I realized I had been surviving, not actually living. That’s not the life God wants for me. Sure, our early life was rough for my siblings and me. Sometimes it feels a little sad that I seem to be alone. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I’m leading the pack.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

*Header, The Birds image courtesy San Francisco Chronicle

***The Bird image courtesy Google

**Hitchcock image courtesy Jason Bovberg 

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Too Hard

The newest addition to the lots is a little S10 pickup truck. It arrived on a crazy-busy day so the movers left it (tow strap and all) at a perpendicular angle across the line of other project vehicles. This was not an issue for Cole, but the rude angle disturbed both Izzy and me. Daily. Seriously crazy making.

Over this weekend, Izzy and I decided to restore order to the universe starting with the S10. As Cole moved lengths of pasture fencing (truly, much higher up the priority ladder than the lots), Izzy circled the truck, eyeing the best destination with minimal effort. I unlocked the steering column, checked the hand brake and put the gearshift into neutral. Then she and I began pushing the little truck over the sandy soil.

Neither of us commented on the surprising exertion required from both of us to make the slightest advancement. Seriously, nudging the empty mini truck a few inches took our combined maximum effort.

Immediately I wondered when I became such a weenie. I prayed Izzy wouldn’t realize how daily my list of can’ts grows exponentially. As if.

YoungerMe pushed or helped push vehicles since I was tall enough to see over a steering wheel and I proficiently “popped a clutch” in grade school – a very long time ago. This week those days seemed like someone else’s life rather than mine.

But when we paused that morning Izzy also seemed irked. I assumed it was because we had to take a breather so soon into what we thought would be an easy task for the two of us. I mean, we’re tough. Right?

As we panted, I ever-so-slightly began to slip into an I’m-a-useless-old-woman puddle. Unwilling to accept that inevitability yet I walked through our task again from the top.

“For crying out loud!” I blurted out as we heard the familiar “pop” after I tested the hand brake release…

Ever gracious Izzy laughed aloud. Moments later, the task completed, we exchanged hi-fives and toasted the newly restored universal order.

Naturally I’m mulling over the experience today. Like in The Man and the Bolder story, God didn’t tell me to move the truck. He told me to help Cole and Izzy. My big ideas thumbed a ride.

But here’s the thing I almost missed – God saw that whole scenario before any of us were even born. He saw I would immediately condemn myself and that I would not consciously think to ask Him for help. Instead of brow-beating me or allowing me to, He led me to retrace my steps.

Sure I felt silly – again. So what else is new? I’m thankful God gave me a sense of humor that allows me to enjoy myself – literally. Bit by bit He’s teaching me to trust Him more in the most subtle and unimaginable ways.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

 

Angle chart courtesy Khan Academy, Free Google Images

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Weddings, Funerals and Games

Each day during this past week and two weekends I’ve felt as though I was being pulled in every direction, my emotions jerking me around substantially. To cope I’ve been hanging out with my blogger friend Christi at Feeding On Folly more than usual.

For much of my life overwhelming, upsetting emotions was my normal – disappointments, heartbreaks and tragedies continuously shaking my foundation. Thanks to God I developed impressive sea legs early on and became very good at the hiding my feelings game. I got so good playing mind games I wanted to be a contestant on The Price Is Right. I would have seriously rocked that!

Image courtesy CBS.com

Jesus becoming my best friend, the Holy Spirit my closest companion was my game changer. Now God’s got me to where I enjoy relationships with my family and friends without the old, dramatic crash-and-burn episodes that once hobbled me.

I cherish my family. Being scattered all over the country as we are, I’m simply not used to talking at such intimate levels, each day with so many loved ones. But it’s what you do before, during and after weddings and funerals – right?

Most people I know embraced this reality in their 30’s. And if you’re like my family, at each wedding and funeral everyone’s astounded by how quickly the weddings and funerals thing is becoming their reality. The farther we get from thirty-something the more we gather for the latter.

So this morning as I resisted getting out of bed, I primed myself just in case I make the cut for The Price is Right. I crunched numbers on how many hours I’ve been on the phone as compared to how often I converse with extended family other than for weddings or funerals:

Big surprise this morning: not only has CBS NOT called me, but my mind is slightly scrambled, I can’t brain. Very old memories (good, bad and ugly) continue to surface at not-necessarily-opportune moments. My emotions range from deliriously happy to prickly-volatile as I’m sure the most former  more mature – fine, the older members of our tribe are experiencing as well.

Though the Bible says we actually are fearfully and wonderfully made*, the fearful thing for me is a no-brainer, the wonderful, well, let’s just leave the emphasis on the wonder. But while I am indeed special, I am not so unique. I imagine this sort of thing happens to most people reaching these milestones.

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.”

Job 14:1, 2 (NIV)

Honestly, with Jesus I feel so much better in my reality. BIG PLUS – I get to choose:

Option 1 – We can continue the practice of keeping our focus upon God, trust Him to carry our concerns, fears, upsets as well as our grief and pain. When we do, the darkness recedes, we can feel hope springing eternal again, and the worst of times (that actually are not a surprise in the grand scheme of things) become a milestone instead of a stumbling block.

{Insert audible Ooohs-and Aaahs here}

-OR-

Option 2 – We can wear ourselves out trying to figure it all out without God, carrying burdens He ever intended for us. While it’s an impressive work-out, it also stresses the mind, body and soul to unhealthy degrees and steals joy from our lives. I certainly don’t want to pass that example on to my loved ones…

{Insert audience “Oh…” here}

I’m gonna go with God’s Overcoming Power in my life, Bob. (Drew, Dennis, Tom, Whatever).

Dunt – ta-da-daaaah!

Oh my God! I get heaven too!! Wowee!!!

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV)

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

*Psalm 139:14

Raise challenge image courtesy Pixabay

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Run Away Brain

Before I was fully awake I stumbled over a toy that my most recent house guests had left behind.

 

 

Moving forward regardless, even before I prepared the trace amount of caffeine I allow myself, I was fussing and fuming over something else – it doesn’t take much. I’m often amazed how, at my age and with my wealth of experience, even now I can go from quiet tranquility to untamable shrew in 4.0 seconds*.

As happens sometimes, something reminded me of a fragment of the dark, sad past. Today, instead of reminding myself that was then and this is now, and without the little dogs to remind me Someone is always listening, I soon forgot I’m not actually alone here.

Heartbeats later I gave voice to the thoughts blowing through my mind like the gale force winds that uprooted the tallest tree from the yard, and tore away half the roof on the hen house.

Yep, suddenly angry words busted outta me like a runaway train.

Annnd once again I soon came to appreciate another of the advantages of life here in Our Place: as I worked up to a full-blown rage over ancient history Jesus’ warning from Matthew came to mind – hitting me like a board across the face:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”**

Like a muzzle check on a firing range, that advice shut my mouth and reset my reality in a heartbeat.

I no sooner confessed the open sewer line of thoughts I’d spewed into the air, asked forgiveness and then begged God to reverse any evil I caused, than the cottage radiated peace again.

With that, my latte and I found today’s place in Jesus Calling*.

Even now I am astounded by how, from the beginning of infinity God knew this morning was coming. Not only so, He also had His plan in place to comfort and help me – today and forever:

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. … You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me [Jesus] with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through…*”  (Genesis 3:2-6; 1 John 1:7 ) Sarah Young

Thank God we can stop run-away brains – restarting from right here and now. Oh, and can we keep early today and the rest of our pasts between Jesus, us and these walls?

Thanks!

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 NIV

 

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

2016 Camaro SS image courtesy of Jalopnik

*(c) 2004 by Sarah Young, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. , Nashville, TN, USA

**Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

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Bright Week

Spring, even Easter can be like a two-edged sword in my family. I doubt we’re so unique that this should surprise anyone. At some point in life most every body I know tires of winter’s short daylight hours and long, dark nights.

Even so, my family seems to have had more than average trouble getting through to spring – so much so that several times some of our loved ones didn’t make it. My siblings and I for example lost a parent, a cousin, and two siblings before spring.

These, our first losses were when we were all very young and somehow nobody explained what happened. So, understandably our history set up my siblings and me for a sneaky darkness to come creeping around in  early March. Typically that gloom lurks in the shadows until early April. Remarkably, none of us recognized that particular annual happening until we were all grown and set in our individual ways.

Since that realization we learned to reach out to one another about the time our spirits began going down for the second time. Regardless of which of us start it, we team together to help one another through, one way or another. We celebrate the good aspects of our family and we rationalize the bad, the sad and the painful. Mostly by Easter we’ve all beat it.

This year Easter came early so my breakthrough exploded into Easter Monday.

I’m glad to have celebrated the Resurrection, our hope in glory* with extended family this year – people who know my family, our history and they’re as glad to see my siblings and me get through our struggles as are we.

 

 
 

Today I determined – yet again – to continue my campaign to celebrate Bright Week. Essentially borrowing from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only I’ll continue to observe through to Holy Week next year. Embracing the pain and rising above it, I’m confident God shall carry me through the joy of Easter Sunday all year.

I’ll let you know exactly how this goes after I finish sorting through last weeks’ photos.

“To them [the Lord’s people who are the church] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:27 (NIV, [addendum mine])

 

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