Tag Archives: reality

Weddings, Funerals and Games

Each day during this past week and two weekends I’ve felt as though I was being pulled in every direction, my emotions jerking me around substantially. To cope I’ve been hanging out with my blogger friend Christi at Feeding On Folly more than usual.

For much of my life overwhelming, upsetting emotions was my normal – disappointments, heartbreaks and tragedies continuously shaking my foundation. Thanks to God I developed impressive sea legs early on and became very good at the hiding my feelings game. I got so good playing mind games I wanted to be a contestant on The Price Is Right. I would have seriously rocked that!

Image courtesy CBS.com

Jesus becoming my best friend, the Holy Spirit my closest companion was my game changer. Now God’s got me to where I enjoy relationships with my family and friends without the old, dramatic crash-and-burn episodes that once hobbled me.

I cherish my family. Being scattered all over the country as we are, I’m simply not used to talking at such intimate levels, each day with so many loved ones. But it’s what you do before, during and after weddings and funerals – right?

Most people I know embraced this reality in their 30’s. And if you’re like my family, at each wedding and funeral everyone’s astounded by how quickly the weddings and funerals thing is becoming their reality. The farther we get from thirty-something the more we gather for the latter.

So this morning as I resisted getting out of bed, I primed myself just in case I make the cut for The Price is Right. I crunched numbers on how many hours I’ve been on the phone as compared to how often I converse with extended family other than for weddings or funerals:

Big surprise this morning: not only has CBS NOT called me, but my mind is slightly scrambled, I can’t brain. Very old memories (good, bad and ugly) continue to surface at not-necessarily-opportune moments. My emotions range from deliriously happy to prickly-volatile as I’m sure the most former  more mature – fine, the older members of our tribe are experiencing as well.

Though the Bible says we actually are fearfully and wonderfully made*, the fearful thing for me is a no-brainer, the wonderful, well, let’s just leave the emphasis on the wonder. But while I am indeed special, I am not so unique. I imagine this sort of thing happens to most people reaching these milestones.

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.”

Job 14:1, 2 (NIV)

Honestly, with Jesus I feel so much better in my reality. BIG PLUS – I get to choose:

Option 1 – We can continue the practice of keeping our focus upon God, trust Him to carry our concerns, fears, upsets as well as our grief and pain. When we do, the darkness recedes, we can feel hope springing eternal again, and the worst of times (that actually are not a surprise in the grand scheme of things) become a milestone instead of a stumbling block.

{Insert audible Ooohs-and Aaahs here}

-OR-

Option 2 – We can wear ourselves out trying to figure it all out without God, carrying burdens He ever intended for us. While it’s an impressive work-out, it also stresses the mind, body and soul to unhealthy degrees and steals joy from our lives. I certainly don’t want to pass that example on to my loved ones…

{Insert audience “Oh…” here}

I’m gonna go with God’s Overcoming Power in my life, Bob. (Drew, Dennis, Tom, Whatever).

Dunt – ta-da-daaaah!

Oh my God! I get heaven too!! Wowee!!!

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV)

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

*Psalm 139:14

Raise challenge image courtesy Pixabay

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Out of Hiding

In a recent conversation Ten-Year-Old and I discussed what to do in case of a threat.

We fondly reminisced how as a preschooler he loved hiding. We both admitted we still like to.

Without sparking unnecessary imaginings, we agreed upon several threats where  hiding (and whistling for your trained, pet dragon, of course) is his best first line of defense. Knowing this stuff is important.

So, you’d think I’d know better by now. And yet, during my day-to-day activities I somehow delude myself to think God’s got my back, but I’m in control of my life. Pfffffft! That’s dragon for “you idiot.”

I can think of several points in my history when, rather than risk anyone seeing that I wasn’t completely in control, instead of calling for help, I put on my game face and toughed out bad situations. I hid.

We all craft our secret hiding places knowing they won’t actually help us deal with genuine threats:

  • We stay in bed too late, forcing ourselves to rush – again,
  • We take another portion because it tastes good knowing our clothes are already uncomfortably tight,
  • We stop at the bar instead of getting home where we’re needed,
  • We take another dose of medicine even if it’s early,
  • Rather than saving, we buy yet another pair of shoes,
  • We simply deny anything scares us or that there’s any problem at all,
  • We stuff anger, not willing to risk making things worse,
  • We make excuses for abusers rather than seeing them as they are…

I’ve been there and done it all, a world-class hider. I know how easily we sometimes cause ourselves more stress, wasted time, or risk unnecessary hurt by standing against a threat alone rather than ask for help.

However, the momentous occasions when I called out to God for help were complete game-changers – life changers actually. Even when I didn’t believe He heard me – when I called Him, and listened for His answer, things worked out.

Decades later, He still works it out whenever I get over myself and ask Him for help.

Are you hiding? Don’t stay there alone. Call out for help.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

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Renewed

Throughout the holiday season I noticed some people saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year.” I also noticed how sometimes it seemed mechanical, like a thoughtless, knee-jerk action.

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It was me. With winter closing in I’d been feeling depressed. Although I had been missing the company of my sons and other siblings, I was far from sad or unhappy. I was experiencing a bio-chemical imbalance. Today I’m blessed to be able to correct that with diet, exercise and therapy. Today I pray fervently for many people I know who need more help.

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Today in my cozy little cottage my happiness is unmistakable. Sure, yesterday I didn’t bring in wood for the upcoming week as I’d planned, and then about 4 inches of snow fell as the New Year rolled in. But the wood cribs are loaded with kindling and small logs to get us through until the snowfall lets up.

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Last year I could only imagine the happiness and hope in my life today. For years I stubbornly held tight to my beliefs that God loves me even though I felt alone and lonely – I couldn’t imagine thinking about firewood. Today those hopes are realized, my faith and hopes are marvelously evidenced.

Last year hard times had Roan, Opal and I trudging along step-by-step, each of us hoping our lives could be different.

Last year I’d sigh hearing young people voice their personal dreams. I’d experienced too much disappointment to encourage them. I fell silent. Today I smile and help them so their dreams continue to grow. Last year, when I’d all but buried my hopes, my nearly-vanished dream suddenly came vividly true.

Today a new year began in my new reality.

Now I sip my latte watching the snow gently falling on the pastures. This is my dream come true. However, excuse me for a little while, I need both hands to pull my pasture boots on and feed the livestock.

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Thanks God!

“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.”

Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NLT)

 

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Total Recall

human-1138004__180You probably don’t experience moments when your brain seems to freeze up. I do. I can easily imagine what a car overheating would feel like; you’re suddenly stuck where you are, unable to move and it’s all you can do to understand what just happened. You’ll get around to wondering why.

I’ve moved around a lot lately. Having driver’s licenses from three states over seven months, that brain fade lately happens to me frequently. I experience the phenomenon especially when I encounter people I haven’t seen or thought of in years. Maybe it’s a normal homecoming thing. Maybe. It has nothing to do with aging.

This week a woman visited our Community Group adding a fresh touch to our 6 members. I noticed upon entering the house she looked familiar. I assumed I’d seen her in church. I’ve only attended for 5 weeks, so familiar-but-unplaceable faces are commonplace. Hand extended toward her I crossed the room, when she surprised me by standing, opening her arms to me. I welcome hugs among the brethren, so a hug from a newcomer was nice.

Before letting go she said, “Eva.” And then she repeated, “Eva!” I looked more closely and suddenly recognized the woman I’d worked with at the radio station some fifteen years before. Unlike me she hasn’t aged a day!

Nice.

With all the customary jumps, squeals, more hugs and oh-my-goodness-es, we derailed the meeting for a few moments covering the broad strokes. I doubt anyone realized I sat across the room from her so I could see her clearly without glasses (my mid-range). Through the study we bounced ideas off each other like we’d done brainstorming ad campaigns. And the memories kept on coming.

Please don’t ask me for any minute details about the lesson.

Later at home, before my prayers I marveled over how well she’s done;

  • She married,
  • just sold her home and bought a new one in town in one of the newer, upscale neighborhoods,
  • her boy grew up and did time in the Service,
  • she and her husband have a growing business and
  • she still writes advertisements, only at the local TV studio now,
  • she drove the late-model Cadillac SLT that was parked where Roomate typically parks,
  • she and her husband have been charter members of our church since its early beginnings (the one I diverted from ten years ago, going to Illinois instead).

The girl’s done well.

Strangely, sleep didn’t come easily that night. Instead of resting I paced around the apartment looking for little tasks. The rustic character of the place affords them in abundance.

For the first time since my arrival, I wasn’t entirely enchanted with my life.

Before too long (quick as I am these days) I realized I’d wandered onto the slippery slope of the comparison game. Certain my prayers didn’t get past the ceiling, I decided to burn the midnight oil. Before long at all my mind slipped back into how well my former workmate’s done and I began pacing the open spaces of the apartment trying to clear my mind – again.

As I drug my hand across the polished chrome of The Deuce, Cole’s custom Harley Davidson, feeling the smooth, cold metal against my fingertips, I imagined my far more traditional, conservative workmate’s face upon seeing my new digs – and the jokes about the pair of immaculate Harleys inside my home. For the first time I questioned if I actually liked them here.

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I normally enjoy the bikes wintering indoors with me. Both my brothers cherished not only the exceptional machinery and stunningly beautiful detailing, but the memories they made riding them all over the countryside, just as I enjoy their stories of the road.

But I realized I don’t hold title on either bike.

Looking around my rustic cottage apartment:

  • the stained concrete floors (artfully colored, of course),
  • mismatched area rugs, china and flatware,
  • boxes wrapped with contact paper for storage (and temporary makeshift occasional tables),
  • the shabby chic, barnwood tables (Chip and Joanna Gaines would drool over – jus’ sayin’),
  • my late brother’s recliner (that I won’t disown for love or money), etc.

A stranger would imagine that I’m impecunious. With my background of course I am. But I’m pleased with my accomplishments that brought me here:

  • I no longer own a motor vehicle or real estate today. I drive Cole’s vehicles.
  • I actually like hanging my wash to dry rather than run the meter using the clothes dryer,
  • I don’t mind the workout from foraging and chopping wood for heat – yet. (It’s been a mild, beautiful autumn).
  • Six years after near financial ruin, with a microscopic recordable income, my credit score is now average.

So, on paper my estate’s essentially worthless.

But any time I walk out my door, the pack of dogs are happy to greet me. Horses neigh from the pastures and the cows moo whenever they see me walking westward (always glad for any tasty offering). A couple of times a day, no matter what’s going on in the shop, Cole bursts through the door, “just counting noses,” often tossing out some task for me to reinforce I’m wanted – I know, awww… DearOldFriend is always nearby to lend an ear or a shoulder whenever I need one, chatting with my guys help fill the gap when I find time to miss my grand kids and I can text or talk with the rest of the family whenever.

“If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.*” 

I spend most of my days doing what I love, so it rarely seems like work. I can walk the acreage without speaking to anyone or find a kindred soul to chat with any time I need to or work on my Spanglish. My age-old dream of a living on a self-sustaining property is gradually becoming a reality.

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Life could be better, but I’d need some serious time to imagine how. I’ll rest well tonight.

 

It’s good to be home.

 

 

 

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

*Ancient Chinese Philosophy (or Marc Anthony)

Opening image courtesy of Pixabay.

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Expectations

house picket fence pixabay

 

 

When I was young I longed for a home, family, a simple life; like the neighbors and my classmates.

I was in primary school when I realized I am different. Root, branch and leaf, my family tree is complicated.

 

It would years before I remotely understood the astounding gene pool from whence I came.  Rather than portraits of nice, normal-looking people in their Sunday best with handsome smiles, our foyer was more like the one in Disney’s Haunted Mansion in Anaheim.

 

 

haunt mansion port 1 pinterest haunt mans port 2 pinterest  *

After my second high school reunion I felt like a failure.

Thinking about it, okay after agonizing over the event I noticed a few things:

At the reunion chatting with some of my classmates, the affluent especially seemed to have their lives prepared for them. Many divorced because of boredom. Some lived on alimony or careers laid out for them with “Daddy’s organizations.” There were some whose sole contribution to society was their fashion sense. Some boasted of homes in the better neighborhoods, clothes, handbags, shoes, etc. Those were nice, but didn’t say much to me about the characters, the individuals that owned them.

After my first tour of the room I had a great time with the group in the corner that shuffled shamelessly through photos of their kids and danced like nobody was looking.

I began to understand I had set myself up for years of bitter disappointment. I had wanted what the former set of my classmates had.

About that time I met Jesus and discovered the wisdom of the Bible. One verse above others stuck with me in those early weeks,

“…I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.”  Job 1:21 (NLT)

That was my turning point. I began to realize when I was young the elements that felt like they would crush me, my hardships actually made me strong and independent.

Sure, my life actually was hard, tougher than most people I know. Anything I inherited isn’t noteworthy, but God gave me strength, grit, determination and ultimately taught me to respect and love myself.

I pray I never stop forgiving, appreciating every aspect of my life and never stop working to be a better human. Amen!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

The House With Picket Fence image courtesy Pixabay

*Disney Haunted Mansion Images Courtesy Pinterest

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Contentment

Mother’s Day for me is typically an emotional roller-coaster ride. Actually it’s usually a week or so of reflecting, the day itself and then a few days afterward to get over it.

That’s not surprising. I grew up in the aftermath of a metaphoric bomb detonation; divorce (when it wasn’t common) and then our custodial parent’s suicide. Over the following decades my siblings and I labored to locate all our fragments. For the most part we succeeded and we relentlessly continue gluing the pieces back together.

I’m not I’m unique in any of this. And not surprising either, my sons also grew up within a patchwork family (divorces). So with that I’m now reflecting on how well we all live.

The Boys and Erin 1981

Roo’s brood with Erin, 1981

This year was different for me. Over the years many artifacts from my past stayed safely with dear Erin. Among them was a box of photographs that had been thought lost and forgotten for nearly two decades. These were photos of my young sons, old friends, and me from 1978 through 1983. Wow. Right?

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What I especially appreciate today is the new perspective they gave me. When I mainly recall the struggles and hardships, sometimes thinking I’d been the worst mother ever, the photos clearly depict much exploring, happy learning and a lot of fun. While not financially rich, we are indeed wealthy.

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I admit now, I like to imagine happy reunions with my loved ones every year at least. Realistically, disbursed all across the country, with different school schedules and very demanding careers, that’s not likely to happen – yet.

Realistically my siblings and I did not inherit any property or financial stability. What’s more, we have little to pass on to our offspring. Presently I feel blessed to afford myself the luxury of coffee for lattes. But, our offspring have US.

Roo is looking for Iain -who took picture

Roo, nervously looking for Iain – who took the picture

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So, we’ve been geographically distant for Mother’s Days, birthdays and most other holidays. But we’ve adjusted to celebrating our family’s individuals in the moments we find time to Skype, text or actually talk with one another, hoping for actual reunions – soon.

The truth is the best of families have their distances and challenges. We humans are all flawed somehow. Still, like expertly cut diamonds, those flaws brilliantly display our dazzling, true colors.

I’m covered with prisms from my offspring each moment I recall the fun as well as the hardships and sacrifices we made as they were growing up. But now that I’m without any living parents, step-parents, or in-laws I’m happy for one celebratory day a year – preferably my birthday, but actually any day spent with my family works for me.

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Reality; the sooner we understand this world isn’t perfect, and neither are the people in it, the sooner we find contentment. Once we recognize our unrealistic expectations we become free to love people as they are without the disappointments over what we want them to be. Likewise, the sooner I learn text files don’t automatically save, and my day’s work isn’t lost when the battery drains (like today’s), the better.

When it comes to my truly amazing family, better than ever before, I realize my relationships with my loved ones are what they are – literally marvelous!

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Now as I lounge in a folding lawn chair, feet atop a vintage milk crate, sipping an iced latte, in front of the garage where most of my belongings await, I think, “Bless God, this is good enough for me.”

 

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” 1 Timothy 6:6 (NLT)

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Voithos 2.1.1

Journal entry 2022Feb01

gorge Jeff SheldonJanuary in Southeastern Washington is mild compared to the last month I spent with the kids in Chicago. Now settled back into the apartment at the ranch from my two month visit, I’m comfortable and happy.

boyd sans cape

Moving home to the Ranch, so close to my crazy kid brother could have been worse, but it was the best move I ever made. However rough he’s always been a gem.

To be living my dream is marvelous. Royalties from my app already provided enough residual income for all those travel pieces. Aside from my blog, releasing rights as featured spots on my friend’s newspaper blog was a good call. I’m so glad I networked the project out to young Techies that keep my work on the cutting edge of the market place.

telex-vulcanhammmer-infotypewriter-pixabayAnd to think I actually salvaged so many of my old manuscripts. Those ones I keyed from a an old, rented typewriter onto discarded telex paper rolls (so I didn’t have to feed paper sheets). Did I really get through them all only five years after I moved back to the Ranch?

I shake off the chill and voice, “Voithos, coffee please.” In moments I could breathe in the aroma of a fresh mug of brew. “In a few more weeks I’ll enjoy opening the new electronic wall to bring in the fragrance and color of the landscape – and let the dogs in when I call them.” Not realizing I’d been speaking my rambling thoughts, Voithos, in his rich brogue responds, “Acknowledged.”

Heh, heh, I think. The folding, patio doors I installed, replacing the original garage door is now considered old school. I sigh. Dated or not, I love them.

Was it only five years after that first WordPress Blogging U course (fine, the second), I became a paid Technical Adviser for the upcoming YouTube enterprise? And collaborating with Two Are Better than One was a blessing.

I gaze over my office area, past the wood burning stove (the only heat source when I moved here). I installed a solar powered HVAC and water heating systems. Then I remembered the many rejections I printed and papered on my work area wall. I framed the last one, that sits on my old desk. “Lest we forget…” I startled, not intending to say it aloud, Voithos responds, “Acknowledged.”

img_1869 img_1862And to think, I did all of that while working a ranch, daily horseback riding – for leisure, traveling, hanging out with friends, cruising all over the globe with the gang and my offspring who now fly in from all over.

Thankfully my sons and daughters-in-law served more than their fair share in the military and public service so their grand kids aren’t subject to TDY assignments or the terrorist threats we all endured.

I reflect upon the happy years that followed, blogging about my stays around the globe. I met up with Lisa and her gang, Jacqueline, Mitch, J.Gi, Diane, David, Michelle, MescaAmir, Christi, and so many other great friends in the blogging community (what parties those were)! Traveling has certainly been more peaceful since Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia all made nice and the U.S. got out of their business!

How often I once dreamed of this life, and now it’s hard to remember the long, hard nights working. But I recall when the results finally took off. And now, with the wonderful people I’ve met in along the way, it’s hard to believe I ever felt lonely for someone, anyone to remind me life is worth living. God forbid I ever forget.

I must have dozed. What was I thinking? No matter, I’m breathing. “Voithos, start a new chapter, date 2023 November 22, draft title JFK-CSL. ‘With the years of memories I’ve collected, and some considerable loss… [I pause to rethink]’ ”

Voithos softly interrupts, “Roo, Roan is calling. Do you wish to answer or shall I intercept?” I sigh happily, saying, “Voithos, answer now. Hello, this is Roo.” [Momentary silence]… “Voithos, Increase outgoing volume. Hello, this is Roo.” like Roan doesn’t already see me in her holographic monitor. She looks too thin… “Hey…” Roan says with that confused tone I know so well. I wonder, who forgot what. I respond with our usual reply, “Hay hell, you’re old enough for oats.”

Suddenly I realize we had talked about letting the Jeep drive us to the Gorge – today – and her plane from Galveston departs in minutes.

I think, this must be what heaven will be like.

My foot rolling onto the cold, concrete floor shocks me into reality – I actually had been dreaming – a wonderful dream.

Wait, “Is that a trumpet I hear…**”

 

**“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 (NIV)

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