Tag Archives: friends

No-mo

Thursday this week was monumental for me.

I ignored my phone.

Believe it.

This alone is epic. I don’t actually suffer from nomophobia. I unintentionally walk out of the cottage without the phone more often than I like to admit. Doing so not only causes Brother Cole undue concern every few weeks or so, but it forces me to shop without my lists, I miss Kodak moments, and mess up my step count (but there’s an app for that).

Still, ignoring a notification is difficult for me. It’s not a mom thing. I admit its about living alone and sometimes needing to be needed – moreover remembered.

Astounding as it is, I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate my personal space. Until some weeks ago this strange aloneness took me to such extremes I looked for – and found – things to keep me busy.

There were chores – laundry (for one person), cooking, dishes (again, it’s just me), dusting, tending livestock (ahem, that aren’t actually mine)…  Seriously, who dusts a barn? And yet I struggled getting around to organizing, decorating or (gasp) my job!

Unsettling as this was I thought my prayer life was good – while I was actually praying. But when all my other personal needs took a back seat to anything anyone else may have wanted, any time – and there’s nobody else to blame – forget Houston, Heaven, we have a problem.

Immediately I prayed for help with this. God’s response came quickly – and actually annoyed me initially.

During my quiet time early on Thursday the phone sounded repeatedly. I assumed Cole was is a mood – it happens. We have an understanding – when he actually needs me he can call.

Hard as it was, I ignored the phone.

Later I found that not only the earth still turned without my help, but the text was actually DearFriend sharing Scripture God put on her heart for me.

The breakthrough? I realize I must choose to constantly make my relationship with God my highest priority. As I practice doing this, I get to see myself the way Jesus sees me – beloved. No matter what else. And I adore Him right back.

Ridiculous as it is, after trying to run the universe for the first part of my life, this relax-and-let-God-be-God thing is still a challenge. Still, after diligent practice, on Thursday DearFriend helped confirm I am beginning to grasp the handle on it.

So, occasionally pity parties leave me feeling slightly disappointed that I wound up living alone. Fact: God is always with me – even when I try to ignore Him, run or hide from Him. And He always graciously reminds me, this story’s far from over.

I am God’s beloved. That’s enough today.

“Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

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Drama

How strange is it that with many of my simple dreams coming true, now that I’m back living in a place of my own, my tangible daily needs all provided, every week or so I go off on a tizzy fit?

Stranger still, If I pursue the alarming issue it usually boils down to doubt or distrust. Crazy is how I still go there after three-plus decades of daily practicing God’s presence (emphasis on practice).

Fortunately, that typically takes me to Our Place where God takes over. There He reminds me:

My brand of crazy includes a flair for drama.

 

Early on in my walk with Jesus, after a dramatic run-through of an upset I would initially feel relieved. But the more I studied Scripture, put what I learned into practice and developed a relationship with the Holy Spirit, catching myself in a full-on rant would embarrass me – secretly or not.

Later I’d feel humiliated. For years I repented of my life-long habit of talking, often yelling at people not present – essentially the walls – at least a few times a week.

Too much alone time on my hands, perhaps. Whatever. Did I stop the practice?

Not hardly.

Eventually I realized something else. I relish my offspring’s (nieces and nephews’) dramatizations – especially school-age ones:

  • their experiences – upset or otherwise excited,
  • plays and pageants,
  • reenacting the day’s happenings,
  • describing events and especially movie scenarios – don’t get me started on the boys’ renditions of Monty Python movie segments.

To me these are all delightful.

My Sage Someone counselor pointed out to me how in much the same way, Father God enjoys watching His kids’ dramatics too. In most cases my personal brand of ranting is basically okay – healthy to a degree: generating fewer loops, no bloodshed, no foul.

When my present-day scenes wind down I realize I must exhale more of the past, breathe in today and trust God will work it all out as He does best, in His good time. I must daily (hourly sometimes) seriously get over myself and stay finely-tuned in to God. That way if He brings an issue back, I’ll be ready to respond as He teaches, to act, speak or silently pay close attention. We can hope. The more I embrace that reality the less often I entertain Daddy-God with a one-woman episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

I look forward to always meeting challenges or the emotional surge du-jour with, “No worries, God’s got this,” instead of scenes rivaling Survivor.

I like to imagine a someday when the pressure’s on: I’ll make a bowl of popcorn for my Audience of One. Then instead of enduring another of my spontaneous spectacles, we’ll hang out. I’ll get to watch where that episode takes the story and enjoy the live show. I can even invite friends, supporting actors…

Yeah. I’ll be good with that.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. … Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

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Pre-Spring

I marveled as DearOldFriend and I walked along the river at Howard Amon Park. Lovely as it was yesterday I could not forget how most of the country groans through historic cold and mudslides. Still, we enjoyed the break in the weather and warmed ourselves in 50 degree sunshine.

I hope you feel warmed too!

 

The bandshell at Howard Amon Park in Richland

Outside the Gallery at the Park

Even after freezing traces of autumn hold out for spring.


“For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is his name!”
Amos 4:13 (NLT)

 

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Christmas Eve’s Eve

A repost from What’s Next, Texas, USA, December 2015.  It’s hard to believe that was two years and two states back.

Merry Christmas to all!

 

angel wing cloud nancy

Our Christmas celebration this year will consist of Candlelight Service (maybe with Sister), an actual sit-down dinner together and all three of us taking a restful day off work together, probably with popcorn and Netflix, maybe darts.

The plan was in place.  Sister and I left the house together to do the last minute shopping.  This was an event.  I’ve missed her.  I see her every day, but she’s mostly been away for a few years; discouraged, disappointed, heartbroken and confused, essentially shattered. She holds the pieces of herself so tightly she can hardly do anything else but work. I get it. People we love often hurt us at some point and knocked us down at others. So I stay close and in case of a crash.

Sister, Opal and I move about in the world and live our lives together from behind our walls.  Occasionally, I can’t contain the spirit inside me.  It escapes and preys upon any unwitting subject on my way.  I felt a breakout coming.  “Let me get that door for you…” and the next thing you know I’m engaged in conversation with a friendly, talkative, complete stranger.  Sister usually loathes it, but being so far from friends and other family too she understands – and suffers through my social gushing.

Happy to be out, invigorated by the warm Texas December weather, we were on our last stop for the day.  A seemingly familiar woman approached the door the same time we did.  I actually felt like I knew her from somewhere. Even if I didn’t, I greeted her cheerily and sprang to get the door for her.  “Good afternoon.”

As if she didn’t notice us before that moment the lady straightened very slightly. As I swung the door open and stepped aside, she looked me in the eye like she saw into my soul, “Oh, thank you, Baby.  Good afternoon” she replied warmly, then turned to watch where she walked.  Something clicked – I didn’t know what.  I didn’t care.  I felt alive and fully connected to the world again.

The lady adjusted her large purse and a hobo bag as she reached forward.  The interior door opened into the vestibule so I awkwardly stepped around her to hold that door open for her too.  I was probably overreaching, but I had to.  She was one of those strong women, so knowing her actual age was tricky. The touches of grey in her hair and brows told me she was slightly older than I, but fit and sharp, if slightly preoccupied.

With that she looked into my face again.  Entirely unintimidated – and unannoyed, she responded, “Why thank you, Baby.”  Baby, again, but as if she knew me.  She seemed to start to say something else, but only nodded and began walking away.  Strangely, my heart wanted me to walk with her, but noticing Sister’s expression I checked myself. Instead I said, “Of course.  You have a wonderful day.  Merry Christmas,” and in exaggerated civility took Sister’s arm, walking her inside.

Now smiling, Roan and I entered too as the lady walked away. She glanced back saying, “Why, God bless you.  Merry Christmas,” stepping toward the back of the store and out of sight.

Sis and I shopped around for a nice little something to put beneath the tree; a two-foot paper and wire figure sitting on the television cabinet in the den. Searching around we wound up looking through blouses; something I never do.  I can’t wear off the rack without alterations. Sister can wear whatever she wants.  To make her happy I went along enjoying the feel of the fabrics.

“What are you looking for today?” came the voice from behind us.  I turned to respond and was delighted to find the lady from the door.  Now smiling broadly, wearing a plush red and white Santa hat on her head and a lanyard of key cards around her neck.  As she wandered away I finally recognized her; polished orthopedic shoes, black patterned stockings over support hose, a stylish, upscale, conservative skirt, comfortable, but immaculate.  A shell and cardigan tastefully accessorized, every hair neatly in place; she was a Momma.

Not the same as somebody’s mother, though she possibly was, she’s a Momma.  You’ll find her at the job, at church every Sunday and mid-week service, at the local free day care, senior care center, food pantry, often a volunteer at the local hospital or hospice.  You see it all over her, confidently owning whatever space she occupies.  Calm, collected, always busy, but quick to help wherever she can.  She never misses the slightest nuance, takes life head-on, living comfortably, modestly and entirely in love with people.

Over the years Mommas have been my lifeline.  Commuting to work in Los Angeles, often stuck in traffic, my boys knew if I was late to go to the church office where Momma D volunteered every afternoon.  She’d welcome them in, get them started on their homework and usually have snacks when I got to the neighborhood, worn and often on the verge of panic.  “Don’t you worry, Baby,” She’d say, “They’re good boys.  You can remember me when the offering plate comes around.” A Momma.

As a missionary, the only pink face in a volatile neighborhood, Momma Gen would often be “taking a walk” (in her house slippers) when I left the church building where I worked to walk home after dark.  Nobody messes with a Momma.

Working for an inner-city grass roots community center, putting in 50 hour weeks, Momma Cece would bring plates of dinner for the boys and me at least twice a week, knowing I wouldn’t have time to cook a dinner. That’s a Momma.

Sis and I kept sliding hangers. “Momma Burke” (we’ll call her as I didn’t see a name tag) held out a blouse to each of us. “These colors are perfect for you two and they’re very popular.” Before I could gracefully refuse, she added, “It doesn’t cost but a moment and it’s good to look at yourself in something new.”

You don’t argue with a Momma.  Sister stared me down as I took the beautiful blue, flowing top and stepped toward the fitting room.  I smiled back at her saying, “We’ve got a minute. You might as well.” Momma Burke pushed the rusty red shirt at Sister saying, “Now don’t waste time thinking about it. The store is going to get busy fast.”

Moments later I heard Sister gasp in the room next to me. Both the blouses were perfect.

Sure enough, when we stepped out of the rooms the store was full and noisy. Momma stepped up out of nowhere, smiling. “I knew you’d like ‘em; the colors suit you both and you can either dress them up or down.”

Sister agreed, thanked her and wandered away.  Clearly she was ready to leave.  I thanked Momma and explained I liked the blouse, but it isn’t in my budget until January. “Did you even look at the tag?” she asked, giving me “that look” over her half-frames.  I hadn’t.

It actually was that rare find from the clearance rack.  A second by most standards, but on me it draped perfectly, for $5.61.  I almost giggled.  Momma just smiled and went on to help other customers.  I wanted to hug her tight but snatching up the other blouse from the go back rack I hurried to catch up with Sister and bought both blouses.

We practically flew through the rest of the shopping and were home before we knew it.

I couldn’t stop thinking how God places exactly the right people in my life at the perfect times.  I’d longed for something new to wear for months.  With bills to pay and paying gigs scarce, I’ve made due with what I have.  What I have often isn’t a big deal. But it is today.

As I readied for Christmas Eve the next day, the mail brought a cash surprise. Immediately I thought of the leggings Sister wanted – and Momma Burke.  I couldn’t get to the store fast enough.  I found the leggings straight away and then went to the fitting room to find Mrs. Burke.  The woman that also worked there yesterday was absolute that she’s never seen anybody over twenty-something working in the store and she’s worked there almost two years!

Perhaps Momma Burke is a new hire starting late into Christmas season.  Maybe not.  I won’t be surprised to confirm sometime in the future, that Momma Burke is one of those angelic beings that appear and vanish when we actually need a little special help.  I shall look forward to seeing her again wherever it happens.

candles and nuts christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:1, 2 (NLT)

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Stove Up

One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.

Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.

As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them.  Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.

What do you celebrate this week?

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”

Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)

  

Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Meeting

This past week a friend had me laughing for hours – I’m sure he was laughing too. In an email conversation that began about blogging we stumbled upon our mutual regard for Monty Python movie quotes. It was on… quote after quote – back and forth.

“Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Actually my sons, with their uncles/my brothers, a sister and my husband reenacted the scenes so often over the years I knew many of the dialogues by heart. Remarkably, until a Flying Circus marathon New Year’s Eve Party in 1994-95 I’d never actually seen a single Monty Python movie. Frankly, after all the years hearing my darling’s renditions, to me my gang was better. They were actually just familiar – and the subjects were well filtered.

This led me to think about all the people I talk to, have relationships with but we haven’t actually met – yet.

A little later I was laughing again over another movie scene that gets me every time. Cry-laughing I blurted out, “Lord, help me!”

Instantly I envisioned Jesus as depicted in the drawing framed on my wall: His head back, tears glistening through his fully accentuated laugh lines, His jaw wide open… I felt as though we’d been hanging out for hours.

And yet, we’ve never actually “met” in person either. Not like I’ve met most of my friends.

Seriously, I live for those moments with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They make it so I can hardly wait to actually look into His face. I’m certain there will be silliness when we meet – happiness will gush.

Sure, I’ll have to account for some things I’m not proud of, but simply meeting Jesus on earth leads me to believe He will be standing close by us all in our final moments. I wonder if then, between our last breath here and opening our eyes on the other side is when we’ll account for the sad and bad choices of our lives – those moments I dread. Why not? God’s time is nothing like ours. And besides, there will be no sorrow or pain in heaven.

Whatever else awaits us, I’m certain uncontainable joy will overtake all else in God’s presence. Go ahead, try to get your head around how the best laughter on earth can’t even compare.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” “ Revelation 21:3, 4 (NLT)

 

Monty Python images courtesy Pinterest, and Feature Image courtesy Fungyung.com,

Michael Keaton in Multiplicity courtesy YouTube

Jesus Laughing image by Praise Screen Prints (c) 1977  as He appears on my wall ;>

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Safe at Home

As the Astros and the Yankees duke it out for the championship, the term Safe at Home takes on a whole new meaning for me. The Cubs will come back again next year.

Autumn sunrise

 

Here at the ranch this past week New-Old-Friend, Cole and I unloaded and stacked about three cords of the wood we cut and hauled last weekend.

 

 

What impresses me most is how people turn out and team up to help one another. Cole and I alone would have needed another whole day to saw and load – at the very least. On top of that, both of us would have hurt all week. But New-Old-Friend, Cole’s dad, a cousin’s able bodies and some very cool tools did much more work in far better time. What’s more, Cole’s mom had hot, delicious, mostly home grown meals awaiting us after a luxurious, spa-like shower.

 

New-Old-Friend and Cole’s Mom

 

During my first year the ranch went through many changes. Sure, last year I said that it’s good to be home right away. But seriously, the first ten months actually were hard. I was so road weary from the three previous years I barely noticed exactly how tough it was until fall started to appear this year and the pace began to slow a bit.

Through it all, God led me, soothed me, counseled me and sent help when I couldn’t manage alone anymore.

 

 

I’m a little sad that Cole sold Kendra’s Gray Mare. Still, she’ll winter in a warm barn now. Besides, the bikes are in the cottage with me again. Cole also sold the cows and the three-year-old calf. New Roommate now tends the pastures and the chickens so I only fill in when both she and Cole are away. With the chicken house almost completely refurbished, requiring half the time to care for the flock, I’m now free to focus upon my work.

Today more than ever before it’s good to be home.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4 (NIV)

 

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Shout Out

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Blogosphere is the Blogging Community. “Duh” one might think.  That might seem like a no-brainer, but if it isn’t, have you actually experienced much of today’s media?

Craziness that most of us used to only read about or imagine in our worst moments has become commonplace.

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …practice everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9 (edited NLT)

On my down days I enjoy a warm, steaming mug with my blogosphere friends until the good vibes roll. Today, I want to recognize members of the blogging community that consistently share their firm, positive stand in reality.  If you don’t already know them too, you’ve been missing out:

These were my first lifelines today alone. And there are so many more. Who can feel lonely?

“When we consider the blessings of God – the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even suffering – friendship is very hear the top.” – Donald W. McCullough, Mastering Personal Growth

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Interval

Maybe it was the headlines, autumn even more manifest on my walk earlier, something I ate – or didn’t eat. It could be that Nickle and The Deuce are already back in my apartment. Perhaps because I’m missing my kids for the umpteenth time today – and it’s not yet noon. Regardless, work called and I answered.

Moments later I marveled that after all the years of work fixing what broke, I was stuck again.

Forget about why; the ear worm remained. Ultimately I caved, picked up my guitar as if I could already play it.  I listened, carefully and then just rolled with it –

 

and shared it.

 

You’re welcome.
 

 
 

 

“You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:73, 74 (NLT)

 
Video courtesy YouTube

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