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.

Mistaken

It’s not something I prefer to talk about, but I may have mentioned I deal with some tremendous sadness. Now and then it can seem like too much for me. Sometimes I like to say, “Hey, let’s stop the pain train.” Even when I’m trying to be funny, I’m usually serious about that.

I hate to admit it (but hey, it’s just us here), sometimes I want to just quit – though that mostly happens before coffee.

The trouble with quitting is

1. I still don’t know how, and
2. I can’t imagine explaining to God how I couldn’t trust Him any more.

My life’s main accomplishment has been to prove how easy it is to drift off-course, to lose sight of even the nearest, biggest, most important goal.

Seriously, from the time I was about three for thirty-odd years, I often felt I was a mistake.
Circumstances and developments can seem like too much, but at least now we recognize and understand PTSD.

My personal game-changer happened when I was thirty-something. I rediscovered that I love God. I’m not talking about sitting in sanctuaries where my family met every Sunday, First Friday or Holy Day, nor the beautiful buildings filled with art that I fawned over as a child. I mean I cried out to the Creator of the Universe, God. He answered me and He showed me He had never actually left me.

He stayed with me and since then God consistently proved to me that relationship with Him is the best way through this world.

Today I’m all about appreciating that God does not make mistakes. Not even the devil (evil, et. al.) was a mistake. (How else would we appreciate God’s goodness?)

More than ever before I appreciate that I’m actually co-piloting my journey. Like most everyone else I know, I will likely continue to diverge – occasionally often. Yet, I can unreservedly trust that God, my Pilot will continue to make continuous adjustments, redirecting me back to His intended route. And He does it constantly for me and innumerable other souls, all the time.

So, I can sum up my whole point today in three words:

I’m. No. Mistake.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

 

 

Video, Mistakes by Influence Music  

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Catch It!

I honestly could blame it on Cole – he brought it home.

I’m hyper-vigilant about protecting myself from colds and flu but this year I let my guard down.

Part of running errands for Brother last week included picking up a remedy and taking it to him on the job in town. Standing at the truck door, he popped the pills into his mouth and took a big swig from the water bottle I’d taken from his ‘fridge in the main house.

He swallowed hard, coughed, shook his head and then fussed about the water tasting awful. Saying he was being silly, I took the bottle from his hand like a bottle of tea on a hot afternoon. Then as if God hadn’t given me a lick of sense, I masterfully waterfalled a mouthful (a college-day drinking technique, pouring without a lip touching the bottle).

What a shock to instantly discover the water was effervescent!!

Once I recovered, gifted as I am, I showed him by proceeding to drink the remaining few ounces.

After Cole.

Who just took cold medicine.

Yeah, ’cause his mouth on the bottle didn’t contaminate it. I’m that smart!

 

So, with the cold now racking it’s way through my body I’ll share the remedies that usually get me right back to, well, right:

1. Salt water gargle immediately, then 2 – 3 times a day.
2. Honey for sore throat and cough.
3. Crystallized ginger snacks (or juice)
4. Elderberry syrup
5. Bee pollen
6. Steam with Eucalyptus and peppermint oils (and topical oil application)
7. Yogurt
8. Fresh Garlic-Ginger-Chicken soup (Chicken soup is not just a wives tale)
9. Epsom salt bath

And best of all, rest!

Honestly, I thank God not only that I’m strong and healthy, but for time to rest, and maybe catch up on some pleasure reading. Oh, and some extra wisdom in the future, .

Zinc up friends, ’tis the season!

“The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.” Psalm 41:3 (NIV)

Plush bear image courtesy Needpix.com

Sneeze Face image courtesy Pixabay

Healing Garlic-Ginger-Chicken soup recipe courtesy Genius Kitchen.

Featured image courtesy image courtesy Productivetothemax.com

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Red Faced

For the first time in way too long I took a vacation.

I don’t mean a road trip on the way to my next home, a wedding or a funeral. For two years I saved for this leave. Even with the kids’ help my carefully planned time away from home included lots of air travel departing during inconvenient hours. Most important, it provided down-time with my darling offspring.

Since I would not be available to help gather the tomatoes, they had to be harvested before I left.

Seasoned travelers and most smart girls know to get together with friends the week before a vacation. Together you shop, update your wardrobe, enjoy a meal or two, and they share the little details that enhanced their recent journeys.

Instead, Izzy and I spent that time spreading tarps beneath tomato vines. Then we shook and cut the vines, loosing tomatoes. This also scattered THE DUST that collected since the sprinklers stopped rinsing everything clean daily. And then we drug and lifted the loaded tarps into wheelbarrows, stirring up the dirt that had been drying for a week.

Yeah. We know how to have a good time!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

Despite masks and goggles, the dust set me to sneezing, with my sinuses filling and then draining profusely. My skin also itched terribly – especially the tip of my nose. The following day, my apex nasi* became tender and by the next day it was incredibly sore. *I looked it up. It’s a thing.

And did I mention RED? Not a flattering shade either.

The day before I was to depart on the next length of my travel, despite all known precautions and remedies, the redness became deep purplish-red. Yes, a painful heat radiated from above my columella. (*It’s the flesh that separates the nostrils.)

Makeup barely concealed the colors resembling orangutans backsides. What’s more, it needed touch-ups every couple of hours…

As I boarded my first flight I felt like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer guiding the last remaining passengers onto our plane. Still, I actually appreciated people quickly averting their eyes from my bleak beak.

During the flights I imagined AlmostSixYearOld taking one look at my face and bursting into tears in fear of this unfamiliar, scary-looking person. I could well imagine EightYearOld staring in wonder or stifling giggles.

Unfair as it was, I was determined to enjoy time with my gang – and to shop around the airports between flights for a miraculous concealer, mask or perhaps a stylish niqab. As anticipation rose, I imagined the heat and pressure on my face did also.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

To be continued…

 

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Support

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.

*

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.

*

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.

***

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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