Keep Juggling

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

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I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.

Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.

Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.

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But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

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Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.

With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

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Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.

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Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.

In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers

Signed, Bert

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

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Soar, Bert!

In Loving Memory

Arlene Powers

December 8, 1954 – February 28, 2017

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Long ago and far away
In the driest desert
Broken and abandoned
Wearing pain and regret
A clown touched my heart
And gave me a golden rose.

Hands always busy
Making treasure from rubble
Spinning joy from sorrow
Loving great and small
Footed and winged,
Such virtue lights the world.

E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2015 Rapture Practice! Publications All rights reserved

“Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last, but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others.”

Proverbs 31:30

Scripture taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Gravity

Is it just me? Or does anyone else remember falling as a child?

I tripped and fell down a lot. Okay, we can make that present tense and still be accurate. But I remember as a child how immediately after the bonk-boink-thud I’d first look around to see if anyone saw me. Even then I hoped to rewrite the story.

How times have changed.  Now we look around for witnesses in case we are hurt and want to go to court.

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Over my first few months here I stumbled and tripped around the property and fell a few times. I adapted remarkably fast so life is less painful and with the full use of all my limbs projects flow much more smoothly.

At this juncture of my life I don’t mind falling; I mind the landings very much. Gravity, no woman’s good friend, is a necessary evil. Has anyone else tried indoor sky diving? Yeah! Falling can be great. Aside from that, in my experience landings generally tend to initiate a surprisingly costly, painful and lengthy healing process.

I like dancing in the breeze, with or without my four-legged companions, my arms up, breathing in the fresh air. That is until my boot slips and my torso shoots in a different direction than my legs. Again with the landing.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”*

During the cold season I feel every hit my body ever took – and I thank God I continue to enjoy mobility. Still, I expect my love-hate relationship with gravity shall continue – indefinitely.

20170228_123156Some of my landings since childhood have taken their toll on me. And yet, I dance in the pastures, arms out, breathing in the fresh air, Girlfriend trotting along just in case a tasty morsel awaits her in my pocket. I delight in walking with Ol’ Scout loping around me, his tongue happily flapping in the breeze. These are the moments for which I’ve lived as long as I can remember.

Today I perceive the world differently than I did as a child. I still fall, but I fear other things more than gravity; (forgetting an important appointment), hatred, disease, poverty. I still don’t like falling much, a-n-n-d I dread landings more than ever. Even so I dance, jog and sometimes run. Okay, I sprint and I walk after dusk. I am more convinced than ever before the end result is the same.

In my case that would be heaven. Thank you, Jesus!

“For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (The Voice)

* Philippians 3:12 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

 

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East Wind – Walk #10

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“Winds from the east. Mist comin’ in.
Like somthin’ was brewin’; about to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store.
But I feel what’s to ‘appen, all ‘appened before!”
– Bert, from Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers

Cocony joined Captain, Scout and me for our noontime walk today. We breathed deeply, taking in signs of new life springing from last year’s thawing remains; the fresh, 42 degree air feeling like 62 degrees after such extreme cold for so long here. Still mostly gray and brown in the pastures, we all felt exhilarated there too!

Enjoy glimpses of our piece of the world today:

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 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

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Squeak

20161016_125642Before the move to Texas, Squeak had been my sister Roan’s pet. Preferring to avoid the more dominant cats of our lot, he now inhabits the neighbor’s yards and pastures south of my bedroom window.

Not seeing him for weeks at a time concerned me during this hard season, but occasional sightings remind me how my family thrives here.

This afternoon I noticed him basking in the sun, staring dispassionately at me as I opened my bedroom window – for the first time since the onset of winter. His blinking pale green eyes said it all,

“Can’t you see it’s still cold out here? Roo, you’ve gone nuts.”

Inarguable, but nuts are brain food. I did the math: it was 47 degrees outside with marvelous, warm sunshine. Inside the cold radiating from the concrete floor made for 52 degree rooms.  Yeah, it feels cold now, but wait, July’s coming. Though comfortable while I move about, as I sat working the cold quickly gripped me, pushing me outside into the sunshine every hour or so. As much as I enjoy the short walks, the frequent interruptions quickly wore at me.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.”*

The many distractions from deadlines I’d hoped to meet today felt too heavy. A little while after noontime I boldly opened the bedroom window and then stood still, holding my hands open before it, checking for slightly warmer air outside.

Excited, (with only a slight shiver) I also opened the western window in the living area. Again, warmer air wafted in.

Surging with new energy from this tangible promise of long-anticipated spring, I set a timer to remind me to check the windows again in an hour, and happily returned to my desk. Rejuvenated with warmer, fresh air now pushing the candle wax and wood stove smells from the rooms, I keyed madly away until the alarm sounded. The incoming air already cooler, I reluctantly closed the windows with a shudder.

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Knowing spring is coming soon, and breathing in the warmer, fresh air are profoundly different.
 
Granted, within minutes the outside air was again too cool. But I’d placed a milestone in this crazy winter.
 
 
Inside is 54 degrees already. We made it, Squeak!
 
 

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

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Sprouting – Walk #9

“The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.” Song of Songs 2: 12 (NLT)

 

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Scare Scars

When I was young, I adored watching Sci-Fi movies with my Dad. When he worked nights I took it to the next level. Monster movies and horror; Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Twilight Zone… they captivated me.

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And then came bed time. I’d lay in the darkness terrified a monster would pop up beside my bed – all it would’ve taken to stop my racing heart. Pop! Ahhh…. {Hitchcockesque faces flash and fade into darkness}

A few times after Mom or Dad swept the room for monsters – hours after I should have been asleep – they announced there’d be no more monster movies. Too late. By then the monsters were in my head. For-ev-er.

And those old movies got nothin’ on today’s horror films; the trailers alone give me chills.

graph-kid-bing-jpegToday I stick with classic Westerns and prime time network shows. Seriously, grading on a curve, including my station in life and all that led to my present situation, I have solid grounds to be scared. Okay, icy-muddy ground right now. I need no additional stimuli to feel fearful.

So here’s the rub: I’ve been passionately pursuing relationship with Jesus for over 30 years. He’s proven himself faithful time and again.

“Then [Jesus] asked [His disciples], Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”*

And yet, sitting in my snug little cottage last night, a ceramic heater warming me, in the silence without a fire crackling I became very aware the wood supply was depleted. Worry, regret and anxiety began sucking the ambiance from the scene. I quickly became so distracted I’ll have to check Hulu to see who the bad guy was on Elementary, for crying out loud!

Without realizing it, I began brain-storming getting to the grove as soon as possible. Taking a sip of tea with my next thought, pain from my arms reminded me that won’t happen for several weeks and my mind spiraled from there – until the heater kicked in again.

kermit-money-pixabayThis is why Cole brought me the space heater saying, “The weather’s warming up. In the meantime you’ll be fine with this.” I however envisioned an electric-bill induced cash crisis and dismissed the heater for a couple more weeks – as I stressed my arms chopping more wood.

monster-pixabayIn truth I was afraid the little heater wouldn’t be enough, that I’d soon be cold, discontent or sick with endless sniffles – as if Cole doesn’t drop in to check on me every day or so.

Fear is a monster hiding under our beds. When we give it place it will rob our joy from even the best times. Father God knows what He’s doing. Just like a Daddy chasing away monsters so we can sleep, He sees to our every need.

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Seriously, we can learn to recognize fear, confront it and stand against it. Granted, standing in the face of storms of life is often hard. Still, I’ve noticed when we stand against fear it dissipates. Same goes for hatred and want. That’s the kind of solidarity I’m talking about. And we start with standing and then take little steps forward – in my case with as little stumbling as possible.

Hours passed this morning while I processed my thoughts around this. I had spent yet another evening feeling discontent. But then I awoke happy, recognizing the sadness was actually fear in disguise.

Depending upon others, allowing them to care for me takes some getting used to. I’ll keep working on that. Meanwhile I’m cooking some popcorn. El Dorado is airing tonight!

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” The Voice

*Mark 4:40 (NLT)

Graph image courtesy Bing

Other images courtesy Pixabay

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Changing Things Up

 

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This morning started out amazing.

First, I slept. Yay! Then I woke up feeling exceptionally happy for no apparent reason.

With my next heartbeat I felt extraordinary gratitude. Rather than bolting out of the bed to check the wood stove, I pulled the goose down comforter over my shoulders. Annnd that familiar pain shot through my arms.

I didn’t care. I snuggled in and had a long talk with God.

I started by thanking Him, beginning with the obvious blessings in my life: good health, comfortable bed, a warm home, firewood, a variety of food…

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” *

Soon I asked for specific blessings for my family, friends and essentially everyone I know. Before long I was back to telling God how great I think He is, how good it is to know Him.

I gotta tell all y’alls, this scenario is rare. I typically begin my days with prayer and thanksgiving for my life – from my desk or armchair with a Bible, a freshly brewed latte or mug of tea, a good fire crackling in the stove…

Me lingering in bed rarely happens. During this exceptionally harsh winter my morning dialogues have started with “Thank You, Jesus. Now, please help me,” just to get out of bed – and then I hit the floor running. Today without thinking or planning I changed things up a little.

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What’s more, I think I’m better for… Wow. Sunshine!

And good just keeps on coming.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

*Psalm 100:4  (NLT)

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Melt – Walk #8

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I’m glad to report that being quiet so my arms heal faster isn’t so bad or difficult after all.

Today I felt it first, but then walking I could see it, “Aslan is on the move!”*

“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” Ex 33:14 (NIV)

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*C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Chapter VII.

Feature image courtesy Pinterest

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Benched

Today was a first. Delighted to find I had an internet signal I began exploring Hulu – in the morning.

I’ve been benched.

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But I regress. In the editing process I cut numerous details from my previous posts; the whining – you’re welcome:

  • hammering axes to the breaking point chopping logs – hard on muscles and tendons,
  • the arabesque leaps generated by snow-covered ice – interrupted by plummets into the same,
  • breaking less graceful falls, straining my arms,
  • learning the easy, shocking way the wire on the pasture fence was hot,
  • wood burning stove: seared, burnt and scalded hands, arms and ankle (don’t ask about the ankle),
  • innumerable bruises and scrapes – my favorite resulting from a log bucking into my shin.

Suffice it to say this body’s taken a beating this winter.

Yesterday I was rapidly approaching my limits with the ongoing cold. I developed a plan. I thought it was ingenious:

remington-limb-trimI’d carefully use my little electric chain saw to cut logs and fill one wood bin. Ambidextrous, I thought surely I could do that without further injuring my right arm. Once prepared for a few more weeks of extreme cold, the weather will certainly warm immediately. Things always seem to go that way. Right?

So, now compensating for my gimpy right arm I’ve stressed my left arm and both hurt.

Later, shaking her head at me, Doctor Kendra simply said, “Stop. Doing. Everything.” And then brought me her sling that belts to the waist.

Note to self; texting and keying also involve the biceps.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”*

After doing only the most basic chores today, Kindle being uncooperative and books actually being too heavy, videos are my last hope for resting and allow the healing to happen.

The up sides:

  • Jogging in place during the many, many advertisements, my legs and lower torso will be in remarkable shape for spring,
  • I’m inspired with new story lines – spin-off ideas from trailers,
  • I’m now nearly an expert at processing wood and survivalist heating,
  • I saved enough money to buy a couple of cords of wood to repay Cole and the neighbor,
  • Though I feel vastly accomplished for having done it, I’m done cutting wood myself.
  • As I rest I can plan to make candle/pottery space heaters to keep me snug till spring.

Oh, and I’m refining my cell’s Speech-to-Text vocabulary.

Happy blogging, friends!

“Come to me, all you who work and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

* Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

Images courtesy Pixabay and Home Depot

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