Tag Archives: fellowship

Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Filed under Notes from the Apex, photography

Bliends – Lunch

diane duke 2

Even before Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha’s fabulous introduction post, I was already certain Diane Duke would be a friend for life. From inception, Ladies Who Lunch Reviews, Etc blew up with “a little lunch, a little wine and a LOT of talking.” Immediately faithful followers gathered regularly, but I can attest the numbers hardly begin to bespeak the quality of her fabulous blog.

diane duke 1A fellow Illinoisan, Diane amazes me as she gracefully plows through happy times and hardships equally. Cancer doesn’t even seem to thwart her. Her eloquent accounts on life, the fur kids, the ever-amazing and entertaining JP, poetry, sizzling romances and mysteries, books, etc. are sure to interest, entertain and often amuse. I’m not gonna lie, I get a little jealous of her sometimes. 😉 Kidding. Mostly.

diane dukeMost of all I appreciate how Diane personally interacts with her readers. We may never know how she remembers details about so many people (notes, maybe?) and yet she does with her personable style and distinctive undertones of fun. Comment threads as well as her posts and stories inspire and send me on my way in a brighter direction for the time spent with the Ladies.

Need a suggestion for a good read, a reality check or a mirthful moment? Pop on over!

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Go Cubs. Go!

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Cubs logo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

All other images are private and aside from reblogging or reposting the article in whole, are not to be duplicated without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Flowing

I’d been in town long enough to miss “the gang” from church. I’m blessed with great friends, many from churches all across the country and we continue to keep in touch. But it was time to connect with the local church, meet people outside our family unit, engage in conversation and gain fresh perspectives on topics of interest.

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I don’t always find my niche right away. I’m all about relationship with Jesus, worship, studying the Bible, serving the community – and not much interested in dogma or following traditions for tradition’s sake. My habit is to return for services at each local church for at least three visits. The second church was walking distance, and an organization with which I’ve been aligned before.

Prepared for my first visits, I’d printed calling cards with my blog address and handed a couple out to people that seemed genuinely interested in the new kid in town.

RPP card

After the service on the next visit I was trying to appear casual with friendly greetings and nods while desperately seeking the Ladies Room. I saw a familiar looking woman waving and making a bee line across the crowded foyer toward me. My latte had my teeth singing Anchors Aweigh. Before I could ask her for directions she gushed,

“Roo, I’m so glad to see you! I meant to take a quick look at your blog…”

Sure I was breaking a sweat, “the best laid plans…” and “who has time to read lately? flashed through my mind.

Then she surprised me. “Well, I couldn’t stop reading. After chatting with you, I couldn’t imagine you in some of your stories!” My lower quadrant clenching, I couldn’t think clearly to respond. I smiled politely trying to not be too obvious looking past her for a sign – to a Powder Room.

Yep, she went on, “You can’t be a great-grand-maw. And some of the stories sound like you’ve been through h-e-double-hockey-sticks… I wouldn’t have guessed from talking to you… You’ve led quite a life…” My eyes began to well  – this was great for What’s Next, but all I could think of was, “Please Lord, don’t let anyone use that water fountain six feet away from us!

Even after she paused I couldn’t talk – ordinarily not like me at all. I’d talked with the lady a scant ten minutes including that very – long – moment. I literally lowered my head, checked my shoes, groping for strength and something to say more than I was actually praying. But then it came to me, the line I’d thought about for seemingly ages but never had the opportunity to say:

“Honestly, I loathe the thought of being known as ‘that poor woman who…’ Life is about What’s Next and making it better from anywhere…” For a nano-second I was pleased with the name I chose for my blog again. After a brief, dramatic pause I added, “Especially from a Ladies Room…” I hope I grinned sheepishly and didn’t grimace.

cup coffee hearts ABSFreepicsAfter I could relax again, we joked about ‘streams of living water’ and made a date to meet for coffee. She mentioned maybe I could show her what I know about blogging. That’ll keep us long enough for a latte. I have a feeling we’ll find more to talk about.

 

 

“…I see that the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken for He is right beside me.” Psalm 16:8

 

Images courtesy *Unsplash, **ABSFreePics and original graphic by E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2016 for What’s Next

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

A Reblog from Lady in Waiting

Welcome my sisters! Some of the posts and things you will find on this site will challenge you, make you uncomfortable and maybe downright mad.  You may even stop reading or visiting this site. With that being said…

 

Source: Lady in Waiting

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Not The Holy Grail

crane crown crown An experience this week brought to mind one of my favorite movie quotes from Miss Congeniality, “That’s right; wear the crown. Envision the crown. Be the crown…” I wish I could use the video clip to depict the intensity and the human frailty in the scene… but let’s move on. The crown in my family looks quite different anyway.

I grew up within a religious system that’s renown for submission through guilt. If that wasn’t enough to give me an exceptionally tender conscious, I also face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues that sometimes test my balance.

Recently I had overwhelming guilt for an incident that, maybe in some section of the universe could have been avoided, but in ours it falls under the category, stuff happens – deal with it. I suspect only I would actually shoulder any blame.

While we were all either on line or lounging upstairs, no where near the kitchen, we heard something fall downstairs. We all heard the sound, and asked about it, but only I investigated. A cup from my Sister’s matching dish set fell over and the handle broke off into pieces. Being especially fond of tableware in general, my kind of sparkly, I felt the loss like a stubbed toe.

Though it’s not fine china, it was the first piece of her set to break. What’s more, unable to find where I’d left my travel cup that morning, I had used the cup  – that’s right, heap on the guilt. I hand washed it and set it on counter-top rack to dry. Not really paying attention, in my somewhat obsessive way I assumed I had placed it securely. In our older, rather run-down townhouse, vibrations occur and items simply and otherwise inexplicably fall, especially in the ramshackle kitchen. There’s no mystery there.

A collector of antique, fine china and porcelain, I’m not a huge fan of Sister’s squared dishes. But one of the few items she saved from her marriage, she is very fond of the set. It may as well have been cast iron for the weight I felt.

After guilt, and then denial, my next inclination was to shrug it off as happenstance. But no. Being hyper-sensitive about things I lost during my separation, I felt the stab of loss again. Like some places of our hearts, sharp spikes remained on the cup where the handle broke away – literally a two-edged sword.

Also being exceptionally green minded, I began to brain storm how to re-purpose the cup. I often get teased about this inclination, so I kept my ideas to myself. The uneven breaks make a better seat for gluing it, but if there were missing shards, the surfaces could require filling and polishing which is tricky. Those who have experienced any degree of PTSD can easily understand how old memories blindsided me as I searched the sink and counters for shards.

After years of expert counseling, I’m grateful for my vast experience managing such episodes. So I set the cup aside, went to my safe place (sat down there on the tile floor) and examined the facts and the memories. Eventually it all melted into a single concern:

– No matter what, the cup cannot be unbroken. As I have experienced, much like I would, Sister was going to suffer more pain over the loss.
– – The best and only thing I could do is destroy all evidence and lie about what fell or hope to be available to either console her, or take the brunt of her emotions.

Maybe I’m going through a hormonal influx. Or perhaps the loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had not only nicked my thumb taking a shard from the garbage disposer, but memories and emotions overwhelmed me and I melted into a tear and blood puddle. Okay, actually tears (and some blood) dampened my blouse.

Wiping mascara traces from my face, in my potentially unstable disposition I prayed for help and direction. Before I could say, “Amen” two images successively burst onto my mind’s big screen.

– The scene in Murphy’s Romance where the son confessed to his mom that he broke, and then mended a plate before she discovered it.
– The first Easter Sunday dinner with family a few weeks after I met Jesus.

After I cried myself dry, I prayed to make sense of the scenes and then get back to work. Immediately the image of the toasting glasses and the pewter goblet I purchased for that family Easter dinner came back to mind in a spotlight. That image made the most sense, so I went with it.

pewter gobletglasses-of-champagne-4650x2993_81693My first holiday dinner with family in a decade, it fell on me to not only say grace, but to make the toast. It’s a tradition we all look forward to, especially afterward; mocking, editing and re-interpreting what the toastmaster actually said. In my new birth as it was, that year was different – for me at least. I had substantial resources at the time, so I purchased fine crystal toasting glasses as a gift to everyone there, one rustic pewter goblet and a couple of nice bottles of wine.

My toast attributed how at the Last Supper Jesus drank from a common cup; the contents of which represented, among other things, each one of our wrongs, past, future and present – for all mankind. My prayer was that we all remember to drink from the cup, but to strive to not fill the cup. It was a bit over-the-top, especially for my sibilant company, and so polite ridicule and jesting flowed freely for hours.

In my new found relationship with Jesus, the meaning came from somewhere deeper in me than I knew existed. Decades later, on her deathbed, Momma recalled that toast almost verbatim. Though she never mentioned it before then, she proudly remembered it all those years. It was only then that I realized she had never joined the chiding either. It was a blessing I could never have imagined. For some reason I don’t actually grasp yet, I actually felt redeemed somehow.

Soos GrailLater on I opted to glue the handle back onto the cup. Wiping the dribbles of super glue from it as best I could, the inside edges of the handle has a sharp ridge where a shard is missing. It could potentially cut a finger. As I reflected on the work, brainstormed how I could polish it out with emery cloth and remove the excess glue well enough, I again remembered the toast from years before. I dearly wanted to drink from the cup, and not help fill it.

candle crownThrough the years I’ve come to relate my walk with Jesus to be like crafting the crown He promises us. Mine will most likely be dinged up a bit, bent and misshapen with some stones missing, but I’m honored to own it. I look forward to tossing it across the Glassy Sea. Today I can envision the crown, “be the crown.”

Instead of proceeding with mending the cup, I chose to write this story. I’ll print it and put it into the cup – and stow it at the very back of the cupboard. I might email it to Sister so she doesn’t count on using the full dish set in the unforeseen future (redirecting more guilt – it could happen), but hopefully she’ll have read it here already.

 

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” The Apostle Paul

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NLT)

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Stumbling Over Statistics

charts-on-laptop-5760x3840_97336I confess, I’m too easily caught up with statistics. What’s more I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate their subjectivity to sometimes obscure factors, and that they are not always entirely accurate. Today, for example I discovered some fine print stating that my statistics source has an average eight percent variable. Does anyone else get the humor?

On to my point. I began my blog mainly to wade farther out into the publishing waters, hoping to develop a reader base, exposure, maybe attract an agent, etc. You get it. I quickly came to appreciate the additional benefits that come with blogging; accountability, increased sensitivity and attention to details. But who am I kidding? The bottom line is exposure.

I officially launched What’s Next (Doing the Next Best Thing) on 11 September 2014. Almost immediately my life’s course took some more overwhelming, unexpected turns. After some months I posted an official “pause” to the blog. I continued extensive, organized journaling but stepped away from writing for publication for that season.

After considerable research I restarted my blog, changing the name to What’s Next in September 2015. Soon I stumbled upon WordPress Blogging U and the WordPress Reader.

From there, wooed by my gradually increasing (and decreasing) number of followers and blogger awards, I posted everything I imagined, again I admit, mostly to inflate my numbers. The adventure continued into more directions than I want to admit to this forum. I was dramatically caught up with my blog statistics.

I had generated new outlines, chapters and a couple of manuscripts for what certainly could have landed on the desk of Spielberg, Coppola, Cassavetes or Jeremy Leven. And then I woke up. In truth, even I lost interest reading them. In in the new-found fun and fellowship of blogging I’d lost sight of my objective and my focus.

shreddYears ago, after filing several rejected manuscripts I learned the painful lesson about ignoring the distractions and simply write my stories. I can only imagine how the world turns for other writers, but in my world those distractions often came disguised as the care and feeding of my family. Juggling work with providing food, clothing, health care and the most accommodating shelter possible for us all became simpler as the boys moved on and out. Through the changes and heartaches I did my best to keep my eye on my goal.

So I’ve proven that statistics are good as a road map as long as they don’t become the focal point. There remains a distinctive balance between making a living and living one’s life. Some days my platform feels a little more slippery than others, but I haven’t fallen off the scale entirely – this week. From my perspective and experience I can only imagine a writer’s life depicted by Richard Castle, Jessica Fletcher and Jamal Wallace. I’m more like William Forrester. All. Fictional. Characters.

While I’ve never gone to war or lived outside the continental U.S. I relate to Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Jane Austen; living and writing about life as they knew it.

But imagine if they had blogged…

 

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” John 7:37,38 (NLT)

 
References:
Castle, 2009 – present; Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle
Murder, She Wrote, 1984 – 1996; Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher
Finding Forrester, 2000; Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace and Sean Connery as William Forrester

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Chatting Over Tea

So far, most of my readers are my good friends from all over the country. As most of my new friends/readers have gathered, my life took me all over the continental U.S. over the past thirty years. Although I manage to circle around, the past eight years my circles have been loops.

I’m especially blessed to count seven close, dear “best” friends; people with common values I can say anything with and never fear being judged or offending with a misstated word. While we keep in touch pretty well by phone, Skype, social media, email, texts and even old-school, greeting cards, handwritten (or printed) letters and printed photos, we haven’t been able to get together, not even for the kids’ weddings.

For a year I’ve poured myself into my blog. It’s working better for me than losing hours on Facebook and its many entertaining diversions. Still, my last long trip was two years ago for one Spice Girlfriend’s wedding.

I often imagine the surge of information we’d exchange over a steamy cup of something lovely. I’d finally be able to tell them about my latest roller coaster ride; the things one simply doesn’t say over the phone.

Take for instance one friend in particular that I’ve known since she was home schooling her children at elementary level, and some were in High School. She would be my first subject, only because I actually saw her last.

I can imagine her flying into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, exhausted, pouring her into our guest room bed, resting a few hours and then sharing coffee or tea on my balcony…

Josey coffee Annie Spratt

Me: Good morning! You look wonderful.

Josey (dressed and refreshed, steps through the french doors onto the balcony to find me just sitting down with a tray of tea and scones): “Thank you. I have a little jet lag. I’m wide awake but I think my brain is still in Washington. (Josey sits and reaches for a scone as I pour tea,) You start bringing me up to date and I’ll jump in with questions when I need to. These are such good scones, I don’t even feel bad for sleeping in and not helping you. You can send me the recipe. Go ahead while I munch.”

Me: “I know what you mean. Trying to sleep last night I thought about how we used to compare our lives to a long, cross country tour of famous roller coasters.”
“This stop’s been very different from all rest. Living with this part of my core family, far from my kids, no one would have imagined how hard it would be for all three of us, pulling our lives together – together.”
“You probably remember Roan from before her divorce, when we were so close. She’s so different now, you’ll hardly recognize her – I rarely recognize her. We’re three entirely different people compared to who we were ten years ago – the last time we all lived together in Finley. That year before I moved back from Illinois, we planned the next few years down to every minute detail we could imagine. We tried including any unexpected twists and turns. But this train seemed to have derailed last March.”

Josey: “I know what you mean. Sometimes I wonder how my life became so different from what I ever thought it would be.”

Me: “Does it ever blow you away how all three of us, you, Roan and I all separated from our husbands within the same 4 months? Even when I don’t text you, you know that you and the kids are all in my prayers – mostly daily. But how’re they adjusting to all the changes since the last move to Finley?”

Josey: “Oh they’re fine as far as I can see – now that they’re all grown and on their own…”

Me: “That’s as good as we can expect, I imagine.

Josey: “I know what you mean about building a new nest while living with siblings. And you, my friend already experienced losing a sibling to death, the first to leave this world. I can only imagine.”

Me: “And yet, we depended on Seagh in ways none of us realized till he was gone. His passing while he was so young actually was unimaginable. Although he was my kid brother – he was the wisest of us all. He earned all of our trust – said nobody else in our family, ever. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember you never met him.”

Josey: “True. And yet as close as you and I are, you’ve still never met my mom or my sister.”

Me: “Right.”
“Seagh wasn’t often gentle, like your mom, but he had a knack for knowing when the fur flies in our home to either leave the building, whistle loudly, or stand tall, staring blankly into the midst of the fray. He’d do that until we each noticed what he was doing and stopped – whatever. Then he’s say something remarkable, like, “So, where will you bury the body?”

We both laugh at the scene.

Me: “Lord, how I miss laughing at ourselves when he did that.”

Josey: “I can well imagine.”

Me: “The blog and my two manuscripts have helped me through the past year. So now, we’ve about hammered most of our kinks out. Opal living with her mother and me again now adds just the right amount of salt to the mix. We hated the apartment, so we bit the bullet and moved into this townhouse mostly because of this balcony. You remember when I’ve seen worse.”

Josey nods, saying only, “St. John Street,” Referring to the house she helped me renovate and move into years ago.

We both laugh again at the thought of the ramshackle house when my husband and I first bought it.

Me: “Thank you so much for reminding me! That is a great post for The Apex. Don’t you think?”

Josey nods in agreement as she sips thoughtfully.

Me: “I’d slant it toward the healing journey in general, both the house and me.”

We sit quietly for a comfortable pause as I pencil into my ever ready wire-bound tablet to remind me of the idea.

Josey: “Coming in I noticed how we’re walking distance from almost everything you need.”

Me: “It’s certainly a perk since I gave away my Chevy and salvaged my mini van just before I left Illinois. Oh, but running the girls around the Lakes in that van was fun. And to think, I bought it thinking mainly about the grand kids.”

Josey: “Yes. The notes you posted to Facebook about the retreats and road trips were very good. I enjoyed them as though I’d been along for the rides. I also noticed you publish a lot more since you linked your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.” She smiled sincerely.

Me: “With everything so close, we manage to get by, the three of us sharing the two, well one and a quarter cars (ha ha ha). With her new job, Opal will replace her car soon. In the worst case scenario I go to church on line in my room. I trust I’ll pick up some more copywriting assignments soon and tuck that money away for another, more reliable, economical car. Now that I’m cancer free I’ll have the doctors paid off by the end of next year.” I sigh and smile feebly.

Josey: Raises both arms, palms up, saying: “Thank You, God.” I join her in the praise.

Me: “Sure, sometimes I get bogged down beneath all the trials, expenses and so little money coming in. Mostly over the grieving process – times three.
“Seriously, I think the hardest part of starting all over again is the finances; not being able to travel – yet – to see the grandkids. You well know, they don’t stay little for long and they forget so soon.”

Josey: “That’s why I’m glad you took Gilley’s advice and started your blog. Next thing we know you’ll submit one of your manuscripts. Who knows, maybe we’ll create an app to put our stories out there. I read that’s the up-and-coming-medium. It would be today’s spin of her Gilley’s first book.”

Me: “Sure. Maybe you’ll let me use some of your prose or poems. I think you might be just a little afraid you’d get caught up in blogging too.”

Josey: “I seriously don’t know when I’d find the time.”

Me: “No worries. Blogging U courses are so good, especially for connecting with other writers, artists, photographers, journalists bloggers – and even if only a small percent of your class offers to help you through a problem, that’s still a lot of help at your beck and call. You’d be schooling me at it in a few weeks. What’s more, the courses are free.”

Josey: “Go over your Categories for me again.”

Me: “Fine:

A Door Ajar: My stories illustrating some techniques I learned about relationships while I was pursuing my CPC; Boundaries, Anger Management and so on. The header: “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.”
Kitchen Sync: Foodies creating a better world from meager means. It all begins at home.
From the Apex: Enjoying the aging process from all perspectives.
The World According to Roo: Where I post my long reads
Blogging U: Where I compile my class assignments as I complete them. Maybe I’ll relocate some later on.

Josey: “I spend at least an hour catching up with you every other week.”

Me: “Feel free to comment any time. No, really. I approve or delete them all so you can’t embarrass me publicly – Hee Hee Hee!”

Josey: “I know. I didn’t realize I said that aloud.”

We laugh together and slip into comfortable quiet listening to the birds.

Feeling fatigue start to set in I suggest, “What do you think about taking a walk before these clouds get serious and rain?”

Josey: “Done.”

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