Tag Archives: coping

BoldFinger

If you’ve been following What Next you are aware I’m laboring under some exceptional technical difficulties.

1) I’m awaiting parts for my four-year-old notebook which torments me by flashing like a slow-mo strobe in a discotheque (Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers and Millennials click here).

2) In the meantime I try to keep abreast of the Blogging Community and Facebook via my not-so-trusty old (retired) cell phone.

What this means to you:

Typos. Many of them.

Commenting on the plethora of captivating posts by even more phenomenal bloggers from my phone is always exciting. Not only do my fingers fluctuate between bold, beautiful and entirely inept on the nanosized keypad, but it can randomly choose to further humiliate me by posting without warning – sans proofing, etc. Annnd lost signals. That’s always fun.

While this experience could be incredibly frustrating, I admit it’s actually become a source of amusement. I remind myself frequently how gracious this amazing blogging community is, in between praying for my new friend with mad hardware skills. Through it all I’m actually happy with the progress on my chapters lately on the very, very old Windows 7 laptop.

It’s good to slow down sometimes. Random House, get ready.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:6, 7 (NIV)

 

 

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Be-longing

I’ve been thinking a lot about things I don’t possess anymore. I don’t mean items I remember disowning. No, I’ve wondered where I left some things behind.

I really don’t care too much about possessions. I won’t carry anything into heaven. But weeks into this phenomenon, I’m now paying close attention.

This morning I wondered about a mug.

This “wonder” even bled into my normal routine, beginning my day with prayer and Bible time. Instead of flipping my Bible to where I left off last time, I got stuck paragraphs back. I tried, but I couldn’t move on.

Again with the mug. I was getting concerned.

How does one seriously approach God about something as insignificant as stuff anyway? Well:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:28, 27 (NIV)

I wish I could say I always have the presence of mind to pray at the first hint of something beyond my grasp, and especially something that taunts at me. But without a dramatic crisis it usually takes me a while to remember little things – like stuff – until they become big things. Eventually I just asked God why stuff had been haunting me.

I prayed and then I worked in the garden before my study time.

Soon I could see past that mug. That’s pretty remarkable from where I stood on soggy ground by a pile of freshly pulled weeds, while being serenaded by horses, the steer, hens and the dogs.

But I saw my brother Seagh standing in my kitchen with me, his fingers comfortably gripping the mug. During Seagh’s routine pause before sipping his coffee, the mug literally broke away from the handle, fell to the floor, creamy coffee splattering dramatically.

As he gazed in disbelief I:

  1. marveled at how, of all the mugs on that shelf, he picked the one I had repaired and forgotten,
  2. hoped he’d clean the mess, and
  3. hoped the surprise wouldn’t make him late for his appointment.

Breath bated, I watched him – I imagined the entire drama playing out behind his curtain. In a moment (which actually felt much longer) he set the handle down, took another mug and began pouring the last of the coffee saying, “‘Guess it sucks to be you.”

With that I burst into laughter. Perfectly played, straight-faced Joe Cool effortlessly stepped over the mess, out of the kitchen and through the front door. I imagine he had a strangle-hold on every cell in his body to not laugh – at least until he was well out of ear-shot.

So, I get it now.

It’s not about stuff, acquiring or eliminating possessions. Seagh left us in early spring. As did our second brother, our father, and now our oldest brother. Don’t ask me why it sneaks up on me every year. It just does.

Though I’m sorry he had to go on without me, Seagh and I both experienced the strange, new sensation of home living here on this property. I left here intent on returning once sister Roan had settled in Texas. Who knew?

Naturally I miss him and especially his unique sense of humor, but really he’s as much a part of this property as the ground.

I’m determined to let the trivial stuff go and stay focused upon what’s important.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Stacked mugs image courtesy Pixabay

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Acceptance

I love it when You take over my mind as I wake.
Sincerely.

And usually I love Your perfect timing, especially with the extraordinary things You bring to my mind.
Seriously.

You consistently guide me toward peace in the madness. And You let me think its all my doing. You lead me to build and cross bridges I could never do alone. Your peace reigns freely in my otherwise nonsensical world.

You are marvelous.

And yet, to be honest I was angry and upset most of yesterday. I got used to Scout popping in after his “property inspection” every morning. All summer through late autumn I enjoyed his visits. Come winter, I liked opening the door to find him waiting to be let in, and how his circling through the cottage and then leaving again became welcome recesses.

You are Faithful.

Of course You know, me constantly missing Seagh had subsided. Then yesterday I remembered how every day he’d open the slider bringing Scout in the main house for his early morning nap. I cried and then laughed at how that routine – scant minutes after I’d finished cleaning the floors from the night before – annoyed me back then.

You are patient.

Now that I think of it that was all You, gently reminding me I’m actually not the boss of me, to take a break.

You are gracious.

And now that we’re talking about it – okay, now that I’m venting at You – I realize that was also You yesterday:

The storm broke just long enough for the sun to irradiate the landscape. In that breath before twilight my body seemed to become weightless – an answer to other post-holiday prayers, by the way – and I was transported almost into the blinding light, but stopped short of it.
All in a single, timeless heartbeat Seagh was walking with extraordinary ease away from me, just out of my reach. Scout trotted along at his side, tail wagging, ears up, lips stretched back and tongue dangling in happy anticipation. They were like two stark silhouettes against the brilliance and yet I saw their every detail. I wanted to walk with them, but without stopping Seagh turned to face me, one flat hand raised to his waist indicating I should stop. Walking backward he lifted his head in an upward nod. In our wordless manner I understood him, “I got this.” I raised my arm to wave an acknowledgement, but couldn’t move it any more.
Then he turned around again as Scout too did a full spin. I could feel their delightfully pain-free exhilaration. In that same instant they walked away together as their forms vignetted into the glorious light and then disappeared again.

 
You are indescribable.

I trust You understand my sob and those tears. I completely appreciate You giving us that wonderfully unexpected, but final goodbye. I understood instantly that I won’t see them again until heaven. And in that same instant Your amazing peace returned to me.

You are gentle.

So now I see how You consistently layer all the loss and heartaches throughout my life with immeasurable joy. I get it; the harder the hit, the greater the glory. Looking back at my tantrum over the previous day, I’m humbled – yet again embarrassed.

I am loved.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:18 (NLT)

Feature Image by permission, (c) 2018 Julie Wetherby not for duplication without written permission.

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The Ties That Bind

We’re undergoing some changes at the Ranch. Among others Brother Cole and Kendra have called it quits. Aside from the inevitable odds and ends that might remain, her relocation is about done.

I’ve done this myself a few times, so don’t ask me why I assumed I’d return to my regular routine while Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old settle into their new home – and Brother wraps his head around it all in the main house. Silly Me.

Yesterday was a landmark. It was trash collection day. Lifting the trash can lid to check for room to empty any overlooked wastebaskets, I found the curtains from the second bedroom sitting on top. Most people would probably think nothing of it. I saw a remnant of our late brother Seagh’s life.

Roan, Seagh and Cole in 2012

Since Seagh vacated that room to occupy the cottage in which I now live, the bedroom had been the workout room. Now it will be Cole’s bedroom. Today, from the ever-open folding closet doors one can see seasonal clothes on one side and several guitar cases on the other. Though the guitars are actually Cole’s now, the image is the same as when Seagh’s guitars had filled the space. That and the curtains hadn’t changed.

Maybe it’s just me, but leaving the window dressings in the trash simply felt wrong. I don’t know if the curtains had actually been Seagh’s. It didn’t really matter. Still, I thought hard before reaching into the bin. I reasoned that they are pretty, still fashionable and seemed in good condition, so even if Cole actually didn’t want them somebody could use them.

Whatever the case it was getting hot and chores awaited. I dove in – no, not literally. The whole set was there; the four sheer panels, four valances, even the two matching ties.

Later on I looked more closely and found a few sizable paint drops on one of the sheer panels. Cole had painted the day before, so it made sense that he thought the set was ruined. I considered it well worth the time and effort to try removing the paint. A few hours later they looked new again.

Then for the rest of the day I wondered what I would do with them. Storage space in my cottage has been scarce for months. This morning I still hadn’t decided. I was behind on my work from all the time I spent helping out in the main house, so for the present I carefully folded the clean, fresh-smelling pieces into a clear, zip-seal case from another set of drapes.

Happy memories came flooding back as I handled each piece:

It was my first night in the main house with Roan and Seagh. I’d flown in from Chicago, and we were all exhausted early. Roan and Seagh had said goodnight and gone to bed. I was still in travel mode, hardly ready to retire or sleep yet.

About ten minutes after their doors closed I began knocking at Seagh’s bedroom door calling, “Hey! Whatcha doing? Are ya sleepin’ yet? Let’s go outside. Let’s play…” like when we were kids. After a few minutes of this incessant pounding his voice boomed from the door at the end of the hall, “I have a gun!” That’s when I realized in the dark hallway I’d been banging on my niece Opal’s bedroom door. Giggles resounded throughout the rooms, and I went outside to gaze at the starry array I hadn’t seen in years.

The next morning I intended to pounce on him to wake him (as we’ve done since we were kids), but found his room open, light pouring through the sheer panels so the olive green valances appeared beige. As I took in the immaculate space and enjoyed the sunlight filling the hallway, I was abruptly clutched around my rib cage and a loud, sudden, “Whacha doin?” startled me nearly out of my skin. There in my personal space Seagh towered over me, grinning ear to ear, clearly pleased with himself for sneaking up on me.

Then there was the time Seagh left his laundry in the dryer. Just for fun I seized the opportunity and turned all his clothes inside out, folded them neatly and set them on his bed. The next evening I went to get something from my one dresser drawer, but it didn’t slide open easily as usual. Yep, I’d been pranked. Seagh had wrapped the drawer in clear plastic wrap and placed a sticker of a snorting bull in the center of the wrapping.

It was on. Ice water over the shower door, short-sheeted beds, double-sided tape on flip-flops, reversing everything on his bathroom vanity (that really jacked him up, I was delighted), hair gel on bike seats – for days, yo… Sometimes being creative while not risking harm (or depressing messes to clean up) can be a challenge, but we rock that stuff.

On our last night before Roan and I departed for Texas, Roan, Opal and I shared an air mattress together on the living room floor. I wanted to go to sleep, but Roan and Opal were wrestling, playing keep-away with a bag of candy. About the time I was going to jump in, Seagh entered the room. Blowing a whistle, he tossed a white hand towel announcing, “Personal foul, defense. Five yard penalty!” Yeah, the night went on for much longer than was prudent.

 

As I write I miss my other siblings more than ever. Life happens, siblings grow older but not apart, regardless of the miles between us. Our loss hasn’t changed that.

After I finished packing the curtains with lavender and cedar flakes, memories continued to flow. I wrote the about my experience with the curtains, printed the story, placed it in the package and zipped it closed. I’ll make space for it. Perhaps someone will enjoy finding the package someday, read how it got there and better understand what an amazing family we are.

This just in: Roan now wants the curtains.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9,10 (NLT)

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Housebound

Being still and quiet is not my strong suit – never has been. I’m a do-er. Unable to use my arms, this healing season has been my greatest challenge to date, often plunging me into bouts of apathy followed by arbitrary sadness.

The rain and wind have arrived. The lots muddy, pastures soggy, the cottage floors took the worst of it while using a broom or mop is so difficult. Initially I engaged all my creativity cleaning up the mess, but gradually succumbed to going outdoors only when necessary.

Soon I felt the walls beginning to close in on me and my moods swung dark.

Despite physical therapy I see my muscles beginning to shrivel; bicep, triceps, flexor and brachia rubber bands. This concerns me. I don’t spring back as fast as I used to. Still, I flex till it hurts and then stop.

Today the dark dams looming in every corner of the cottage seemed to break open. I could no longer simply sit. I sat on a piece of non-slip drawer liner, arms folded across my middle. Pressing my feet against the sofa I pushed it. Stuttering, and groaning it moved!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

We must re-stain the concrete anyway, so I’ll live with the scrape marks until the weather is more cooperative.

Repeating this with the love seat and recliner I cleared a circular path through the three rooms.

Then I did the math:

One circle through the rooms is 40-42 steps. Times 13 trips every hour 8 times a day, I not only see little things I actually can clean but I’m also burning calories while pumping the creative juices. Since I work an average of 8 to 10 hours a day – that’s about two miles of steps. Sure, I feel like I’m growing hamster hair, but spring’s coming.

I reset the alarms on my laptop and dutifully respond every hour. Shoes laced and dressed in layers I can peel off and put back on, every hour I stayed on task, returning to work with my brain freshly revived.

This is better. Now I’m brain storming how I can buff out the scrape marks standing on buffing pads from the paint shop… I’ll dance. Mashed Potato everyone!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:18 (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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Filed under A Door Ajar, Notes from the Apex

More Change is Inevitable

Typically I like to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s been working for me, however this week is a challenge.

I’ll be hanging in the air most of tomorrow with lots of running around and catching up when I land. Because of the most recent changes in my part of the world, I especially appreciate Michelle Malone’s wonderful series recently published on Two is Better Than One – The Malone Zone. Michelle’s slant on how we manage change has encouraged and empowered me throughout this particularly challenging week. Iron sharpens iron, so I’m passing these excellent posts on to those who haven’t yet discovered the deep wisdom Michelle offers.

michelle malone

Source: Change is Inevitable; Attitude is Everything

…The best part of all this is realizing that my whole attitude has changed.  A few years ago, all of this upheaval so early in the morning would’ve had me frazzled. Though on the outside, I may have appeared unflappable, that wouldn’t have been the case in my mind. Today, very little can jolt me. I don’t worry about my job, finances, others’ perception of me, or anything that is beyond my control. My job is just that — a means to earn money to take care of my family. My finances are adequate and fueled by the revenue I take home as well as how I manage it. Others’ comments about me — whether negative or untrue, are not my business. All I need to be concerned with are things that are in my purview.”

“Philippians 4:6 reminds me not to worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”

Read the entire article at The Malone Zone

 

“The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” Proverbs 11:30 (NLT)

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Filed under The World According to Roo