Tag Archives: WPLongform

Routine

For the past few days I’ve been reflecting upon my early thirties. Then I’d finally come to appreciate the value of routine.

2014-05-09 09.15.39

**

God blessed me with a good foster mom. I often recall her saying during my child bearing years, “Mijita, todos ustedes tienen que tener horarios.” Not really grasping her meaning, I’d typically melt into her arms, soak up the love and forget what she said. In Spanish it sounded far more pleasant than when she would later tell me, “Girl, you must get your act together!”

I’d dismissed suggestions that I had more challenges than dyslexia, possibly other forms of autism. Who had time for health care while caring for four boys, an unpredictable, “bi-polar” and often violent husband, and all their companions-du-jour? Yeah, I knew about crazy – in other people. We were fine…  😉

For me if we all got up, everybody ate, got to school or whatever, nobody permanently harmed and got back to bed at night, it was a good day. I couldn’t grasp the value of scheduled daily tasks, a routine until my marriage finally ended. By then I stopped being a DV victim.

20160530DnR

**

Fast forward some decades and I live within a very structured routine. The time-space continuum shifts when my routine is altered. Erin and I are comfortable with this. She’s a night owl and I rise long before the sun does. Until the dam broke in the plumbing, etc. Aye!

We were unprepared for the disruptions to the entire property. Hourly the sudden changes annoyingly altered our habitual behaviors.

construction pixabayI confess, minutes into this morning I was setting things down and closing doors harder than necessary. “Where is the…” Living alone, controlled but intentional banging and “slightly slamming” doors, etc. to release tension worked for me. Such timid forms of violence is nothing compared to the savagery I’ve survived.

I remembered I no longer live alone as Erin stepped away from me – without the coffee pot. Violence here is never appropriate.

Because today, with so many tasks demanding immediate attention, Erin was up early with me, making coffee, using the bathroom, etc. The newly replaced futon mattress loomed over the love seat in the living room, against the linen closet – where we keep cleaning rags. The vacuum cleaner was parked wherever we used it last – and often. This is not our m.o. Have I mentioned our 480 square feet of crowded living space upstairs?

Now imagine the two cats nervously observing everything, add some large bags of items for family visiting for the first reunion in ten years. And we’re grilling for a small army of out of town family in light, intermittent rain, of course. That had to be ready for someone to pick up and deliver to Keira’s whenever they arrive. Then add contractors working all over the property. Chaos.

There we were, waking our bodies and our brains – in the same tiny room of the house together, simultaneously. One can imagine this is a potentially volatile scenario with two old broads well set in our ways. As the sounds of my banging around Erin increased in volume, she paused quoting, “Something vexes thee?*”

We laughed – hysterically. The frustration and tension from our disrupted routine was dispelled. We sat down together – with coffee and prayed. Several times. All morning.

friends coffee pixabay

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

 

*The late Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan from Robin Hood; Prince of Theives video clip courtesy YouTube

Photo Images courtesy Pixabay

** (c) 2016 Rapture Practice! Publications images not to be duplicated, shared or otherwise distributed without prior, written permission. Thank you!

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Larry

choose-joy

larry cable guyHey, all y’alls remember Larry the Cable Guy? Okay, after listening to the comedian for twenty minutes his bit got old with me. However, today’s whimper involves my cable internet and phone service, so I’m borrowing Larry CG’s persona.*

Restoring This Old House in particular could provide a month-long series on PBS, HGTV or DIY. So, Old School works well here.

Forget all the ads out there for bundles -and the fine print sales reps don’t mention till the end of the pitch. I’ve checked them all out for our area. Erin must live without her E!-TV, but we save for repairs and upgrades on the property from the entertainment and communications budgets. Utilizing satellite for television, cable for internet and phones we realize a minimum $20/month savings. Just don’t get me started on life without a DVR. Who knew one can’t program a VHS recorder without the remote?

So, our internet, land line and my (unlimited through Wi-Fi) cells services come to us from the wonderful people at “Mapper” Cable Company – who only recently came to our part of the Western Slope.

When I noticed cars stop in the street to talk to Mr. First Tech who was parked in front of the house, I thought, “My, this is such a friendly town!” It was actually the first sign that Mapper service is under par with my previous experiences in Chicago, Phoenix and Fort Worth.

Larry, our third tech in four weeks came in musing how customers don’t understand he’s dispatched from remote parts of the country, so he can’t just swing by to look into their problems too. “They seem to see red when they notice the Mapper sign on the truck,” he went on as he happily accepted some sweet tea. This actually is a friendly town – just sayin’.

So early Thursday Larry devoted himself to confirming Mr. First Tech and Mr. Second Tech’s reports – both now closed as PNF (Problem Not Found). A healthy hour later, he affirmed the frequent crashes I continue to experience are most likely ‘at the pole.’ To be sure he covered all bases he swapped out the modem and router for brand new ones (whoop-whoop) and promised to order a service check at the pole (technical paraphrase mine 😉 ). ‘Guess he liked the tea.

But this morning’s fitness walk complicated the whole unfortunate sequence of events when my flip knife wasn’t on my dresser where it had been Thursday morning – before Larry’s arrival. Seriously, flipping the car, every room, bag, laundry hamper… every square inch I use in the house for two hours didn’t locate the knife.

So try to imagine my reluctance as I explained to Ms Agent at dispatch, “I’m positive Larry isn’t a contractor. I have a keen sense about people. He’s not the kind of guy that would take anything from a customer. He’d been working on the dresser that houses the equipment where I also had the ‘tool’ that’s missing. It’s possible he inadvertently picked it up as he ever-so-considerately cleaned up after himself. I don’t want to generate a report that could ding the man’s record. I just want the tool returned.”

Ms Agent assured me contacting dispatch to reach Larry would be no problem for him or me. I know better. Back in the dark ages I worked dispatch for the same company (before Mapper acquired them). I told Ms Agent how to route a ‘Call Back’ (“it’s an industry term”). Amazed, she thanked me. For a moment I thought, “Cool, not that much has changed.” Then she had to go and say, “Yeah, going old school is healthy once in a while.” Shrew.

So, I no sooner hung up the phone when Girlfriend that had also visited us with Ellie Thursday afternoon, came bouncing up the walk. “Heya Roo! How ya doin?”

Goody, more tea…

The short story, Girlfriend saw the gruesome-looking flip knife on the vanity in the powder room – right where I’d set it so it’s hard, steel edges wouldn’t scratch our nice, oak toilet seat. Knowing we don’t leave things like that laying around for Eight-Year-Old-and-Very-Inquisitive-Niece to find, Girlfriend slipped it into her pocket meaning to hand it over to me. She washed her hands and promptly forgot all about it. Under a deadline, I didn’t walk the neighborhood on Friday, and I didn’t notice the knife missing from where I always, always keep it, on its very own tray on my dresser – until this morning.

Great, now I have guilt for ruining Larry’s career. At least I can now narrate in precise detail the whole new brand of frustrated humiliation, trying to contact Ms Agent again – it simply doesn’t happen. Fortunately, Mapper’s Billing Department STILL hadn’t called me back about crediting my account for all the down time. I spun the call so I could include cancelling the Old School, sequestered Call Back order to Larry.

Another Tech will be scheduled to check the pole issue tomorrow. Mapper’s got two strikes and one ball, so we’ll see. Now I must check next week’s schedule for the Elementary and NCIS episodes I missed during the move. Film at eleven…

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2

Joy image courtesy FreshFitnHealthy,  Larry the Cable Guy image courtesy Alchetron.com, Video clip from Toy Story courtesy YouTube

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Throwdown

To those who have been following the journal of my latest relocation, integrating my life into the home of my oldest, best friend, I submit this latest recount of the process. To new, readers I present an object lesson, and to those who’ve figured life out, my apologies for the rant.

Throwing the Gauntlet

My presence in our new home brought change for Erin as much as for me. For many readers change is no big deal, but as we age – the longer we age – especially while working through mental health issues, we want to wrestle it, pin it to the mat. I understand this and had assumed Erin did too.

We had always stayed in touch, but we hadn’t lived together in over thirty years. A lot of water flowed beneath these two bridges. She lived alone for the past three years while I often longed to. I mostly enjoyed the three years I lived in my beautiful apartment – alone and lonely for my friends and family (who lived at least an hour away – too far for young families or my old truck to drive every week).

So, here’s these two old broads, best friends for over half a century, experiencing our first upset with each other in over thirty years.

gauntlet pinterest

* Old Lady Gauntlets

For three months I had collected little straws, petty little things that bothered me and sometimes disrupted my routine. Thinking they were too insignificant to mention, before I realized it I began to feel like the haystack was going to break this camel’s back.

Now y’alls probably never do that, or if you did it happened once – just once. Doing it more than once is just stupid. As if three years of counselor training hadn’t taught me better, I had surrendered weeks of joy to frustration, and still I was reluctant to talk to Erin about it.

Growing up in a violent, dysfunctional family ingrains a reluctance to confront, or it encourages emotional bullies. I’m intimated by how easily I pivot toward both. So, I didn’t want to offend her – and then have to live with the repercussions.

I grew up with Erin’s family. Now as adults I recognize how she and her siblings bear crosses between them they have no business shouldering. I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t the first time I found some degree of comfort seeing her family is not perfect either. Now I realize they too sometimes transfer their feelings to each other or overlook their responsibilities for their choices occasionally. So, I held it all in, keeping my concerns to myself and carrying my burden alone.

Once I realized it was a big deal I started worrying the next straw would blow the roof off our home sweet home. I’d begun ranting to the cats when Erin was out of the house. Coco’s blinking at me dispassionately made me feel resentful (we’ll blame her – she doesn’t care). I was angry from ignoring all those sore little straw scrapes. That left me feeling frustrated, hopeless and ultimately fearful.

My moods weren’t lost on Erin either. Several evenings she came to my doorway asking, Do you feel any better yet? Are you angry at me? Are you still happy here? Because that was usually late for me I was tired (so not entirely approachable) and I can be bitchy, I’d tell her everything’s fine. I lied.

My. First. Conviction.

With that I began to actually think. By not talking to Erin had I been packing casings with my issues, loading them into the .45, and then pointing it toward my foot?

bullets-on-wood-table-5305x3537_25636** bullseye**

At the peak of this madness sister Ellie called me, casually asking as she always does, “how you doin’.” It was a surface level, polite question. In my state of mind, I ass-umed she and Erin must have talked about my moods. But because I won’t talk to Ellie about Erin, I couldn’t honestly answer her. Instead, my dam broke and I cried. I told her I’ve been depressed and it had me worried.

After saying the “D” word aloud, I realized I had to buck up and somehow talk with Erin about what was troubling me. That started my second conviction: years of misdiagnosis and medication gorking me out unnecessarily proved I don’t suffer from depression. I know this, but each body ages differently. I lamely reasoned being sick seemed much more palatable than accepting I’d been cowardly. That bird didn’t fly far.

I was glad Erin spent the next few days at Keira’s, so I could think, play positive, encouraging music 24/7 pray (aloud) and fast. The cats disapproved, but quickly got over all the noise.

The night Erin returned home she came to my doorway (yeah, around ten p.m.). I’d just started to drift off to sleep, so I don’t remember what she asked me. Hopefully I mumbled something to the affect of Goodnight, but I heard her say as she walked away, “You didn’t answer me.” Exhausted and still reluctant, I let it go for the night.

The next morning I made Erin’s coffee, my double espresso latte and woke her early. I read to her from The Love Chapter” of the Bible***. Then locking eyes with hers said, “I don’t have to remind you I love you. I’m not running. I’m not depressed, but I am sad and a little scared. We must hunt the elephants.”

We talked back and forth for hours, continuing the conversation on-and-off all day during my breaks. Sure it was a short work day. My writing probably took a few hits with the weeks of distractions, but today we’re both talking and feeling much better.

As we age changes, confusion, and some hard feelings are natural. This is particularly so for unmarried people, these feelings can escalate astoundingly quickly and easily develop into withdrawal, isolation and despondency. As we diligently invest in our relationships, the odds for problems decline significantly. In our house we chose to invest and accept deposits as well.

A fool would throw away a fifty-something-year-old friendship. I can be silly sometimes, but I’m no fool – not yet.

puppy-on-beach-4435x2939_53724**

Erin has my six and I’m on her nine.  To this she says, “Sure, point out my side’s bigger than your skinny, old side.” We enjoy the pun, even if nobody else does.

*** “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

 

Images courtesy of *Pinterest and **ABSFreePics

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Image

In this new phase of my life I often hear weekday television talk shows from my room. One conversation recently caught my interest so I joined Erin in front of the television for a while.

The co-hosts were talking about Refinery 29, the Take Back the Beach initiative and overall body positivity. I could go on all day on this, but I’ll try to stick to the program:

Logans runThe co-hosts talked about how people seem to be more obsessive than ever with morphing themselves into their ideal self-images. Is it just me or do images of Logan’s Run come to anyone else’s mind?

 

As a co-host I would have pointed out renown art through the ages. We consider even those now in pieces beautifully inspiring. Take Venus Di Milo and Michelangelo’s David for instance.

venus di milo 'David'_by_Michelangelo

Art inspires us, and while the inspiration remains in moderation it’s great. Yet it seems to me much of our global society has taken cosmetic procedures to a whole new level – too close to obsession for my thinking.

While not new on the scene, figureheads like Veruschka von Lehndorff, Dianne Carroll and Christi Brinkley continue to stand out in my mind among the haunting new images of Pia Trivedi, Aneta Pajak and Alisa Ahmann.
All. Painfully. Thin.

More than ever we seem to be morphing humans. Back to the the show again, they also talked about the increase in men having cosmetic procedures including hair implants to be more attractive to a prospective mate.

One host commented that with all this cosmetic manipulating (my paraphrase), When they start having children, they don’t really know what they’re getting; all they know is there’s a new baby. But the baby’s features will be a real surprise! Like, where did that come from?!

Personally speaking, when I was young I did not consider myself comely. I could not see beyond how people treated me; the people who loved me, provided for me, and cared for me. I saw myself as unattractive and fat mostly because that’s mostly what I heard. What’s more I had that hideous red hair people talked about. UGH!

Ultimately I came to understand that my family and loved ones regarded me the same way they saw themselves (not necessarily as they actually are/were). Naturally, they passed on to me what they had – distorted and sad as much of that was. Thanks to God, I am fortunate to have extended family and good friends, so I survived and went on to learn about a better, happier perception of life.

I understand the attitude toward body image and self-esteem. A poor self-perception, over-indulgences and genetics aren’t such a mystery anymore. Personally I experienced how for a season, my self-perception made me somewhat insensitive to others’ feelings and opinions. It happens.

What’s more, like many younger people today, I once took my appearance very seriously – making myself attractive to the opposite sex for sex’s sake. And consistently, the inevitable disappointment, emptiness and loneliness consistently signaled the end to nearly every intimate relationship. I eventually learned I couldn’t hide behind pop culture, fashion, make up and others’ opinions of me . I had to get to know, accept myself and then love ME.

We do well to focus upon

what the Bible says about our image:

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”*

“This is the written account of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.””**

This says nothing about fashion or outward appearance. It’s about a process – knowing The Great I Am, so we know who He says we all are.

Scan_20160517

In photos of much younger me I look fit, stylish and for the most part attractive – until I spoke. It’s funny how a few decades can change things.

 

2016jan30copyToday I don’t think long about clothes (aside from not embarrassing my companions in public) or makeup – since I rarely wear much. The person in the mirror today resembles that younger girl mostly, only with many more wrinkles and utter resignation to gravity. This not only proves the adage, we don’t know what we have until we lose it, but that nothing lasts forever.

 

Now I daily recite the fact that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “And how well I know it.”# In that truth I tend to focus more upon self-respect, self-perception and health consciousness – the inner me.

I don’t wish my history or my excess baggage upon any other human, and yet I am not that unique. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel better about the world around us. By understanding and accepting that we are formed in God’s image the burden of responsibility for ourselves is as much on God as it is on each individual. To date, I’m very okay with that.

As I age I understand better that we are all accountable for what we do with our image. Now I understand better that God sees past our perceived flaws, through all our faults and some slightly embarrassing secrets, right to our need. As we practice relationship with God, we begin to see ourselves as He sees us – lovely and perfect in His design for our lives. I’m thankful for that.

Our relationships with Him makes us all we can be.

That’s as much as I stick with talk shows  😀

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14 (King James Version)

* Genesis 1:26, 27 (NLT)
** Genesis 5:1,2 (NLT)
# Psalm 139:14 (NLT)

Logan’s Run image courtesy IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3529873408/tt0074812?ref_=ttmd_md_nxt#

Venus Di Milo image courtesy Wikimedia.org: By Unknown – Jastrow (2007), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1999049

Michelangelo’s David image courtesy By Jörg Bittner Unna – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38304758

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Filed under Longreads, Notes from the Apex

Roo Unplugged; Month in Review

vega rig

After the grueling weeks of sorting, liquidating, packing and hours on the phone planning, departure day finally arrived. This was no small feat for three women, each with physical restrictions, and my dear Roan who did what she does best, overseeing and helping we weary movers load the trailer.

The first day of our trek from Arlington, Texas to Colorado was actually the third day. The girls had departed Grand Junction early Sunday morning. It was already Wednesday.

Having followed their GPS instructions explicitly from western Colorado (not checking for alternate routes), the girls went due east to Wichita, Kansas and then due south. Compound the additional 238 miles, 3.5 driving hours with a fierce electrical storm and then softball-sized hail. We did not anticipate the storm or the layover in Blackwell, OK.

thunderstorm Iren Petrova

To quote a recent acquaintance, “It got worse…”

Trailer fully loaded, protecting everything possible with construction bags and tarps, checking the vehicles and the load, we noticed a problem with the trailer tail lights. After finding and employing a mechanic, we were finally prepared to depart – after resting up at the local Wyndham.

Following their experiences during the first half of our adventure, I entirely understood my girls’ fatigue by that time. My concerns and sense of weariness seemed trite by comparison. And yet, refreshed and smiling, the next morning we sprang to our tasks and set out on our merry way.

Minutes after leaving, I quickly became reacquainted with a world most of us have forgotten – the world outside of cyber space. {Audible screams as the scene fades to darkness.}

Our driver Electra Bolt (we call her Ellie) asked me to confirm our route. It was a fair question.

We then learned we were already out of range of my new cell carrier, so a Hot Spot also failed to connect my trusty, old backup S3. We tepidly proceeded as Ellie’s GPS directed.

a map

At Amarillo, TX, our first stop for the night, misinformation from the desk clerk disabled me from logging onto the Wifi. Fortunately the cell Hot Spot quickly enabled a connection. I investigated the route and alternates noting them on an app this time. The words “GPS signal lost” on previous excursions still haunt me now and then.

a compass

US-287 (specifying 4 linking turns) to US-50. Check. Approximately 15 hours of driving the Toyota FJ Cruiser and 12′ x 8′ trailer – no view out the back window.

We experienced new visuals on the road without old-school travel guides or printed maps.

buffalo1

Unable to interrupt the unstable GPS on Ellie’s cell we also discovered:

– We could not determine the next fueling station. But we now know the fuel needle drops below Empty before it’s actually empty.
– We did not anticipate the windy, excessively bumpy back roads – but Ellie developed some impressive new grooves on her steering wheel. Erin and I became more limber.
– We could not enlist OK Google to identify the landmarks on the way.
– Unable to explore other food options we settled for what we could see a couple of blocks ahead of us.
– In hindsight we would have done well to research hotels before leaving. We were fortunate to spot a 3-star in Walsenberg, CO. No, we didn’t recall having heard of the town either. Then again, my girls had been five days on the road.

Day Six: Once more unto the breach*, our battle that day was to make it over the Rockies to the Western Slope before nightfall.

Shakespeare might have put our adventure:

If we were mark’d to arrive, we are enow
To do our journey loss; and if to awander,
The fewer women, the greater share of honour.
We few, we happy few, we band of sisters.
For she to-day that shares mileage with me
Shall be my sister; be she ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle her condition…

Forgive me, William.

“For you shall not go out with haste, Nor go by flight; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12 (NKJV)

*Paraphrased from William Shakespeare‘s King Henry the Fifth

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Writing Wrongs

confusedI have an amazing gift for screwing up, and I’m especially good at misidentifying words. Yeah, I’m the writer that once saw the word flagellate and somehow worked flatulate into the context.

 

Weaving my literary tapestries, I must frequently check and double check that my words say what I intend. I practice reading sentences, formatting them in my head to ensure I understand correctly. But even so, stuff happens.

Not long ago, I wrote a lovely piece inspired by a quote. As I tweaked the media in the document, my last step before posting, I suddenly realized I’d incorrectly committed the message to memory from the start. I had read one word wrong, resulting with wrong imagery.

I had keyed the quote from the book exactly as it read, exactly how it was printed – and yet in my mind that one word was entirely different. But only in my mind. Days later I noticed how that one word changed my whole story line. Metaphorically speaking that one word changed a waterfall into a lawn sprinkler, for cryin’ out loud.

Once I realized what I’d done, I literally did cry out loud, “[colorful expletive!] Really? God, what’s wrong with me?!”

Maybe God spoke. I’m not sure, but I remembered – yet again – I’m a whole new brand of special. My brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or anyone else’s I know for that matter.

Health care professionals can diagnose and define all they want, but I learned ages ago I must approach some areas of life differently, like reading, writing and sometimes speaking. I’ve practiced this my whole life, and developed a workable regime. Once in a great while I will be late. I may need to rework a few projects, but I’ll eventually get them as I want them, in good time – or close enough to call it.

hair explode

And yet, there I was, an hour from my self-imposed deadline, I stepped away from my desk, made some tea and walked a bit. Still wanting to cry from frustration, I had a chat with God.

 

 

In that conversation I remembered, it’s not the first time I had to tweak an entire article a degree or so. And if I must trash it and start something new it won’t be the first time for that either. And then it dawned on me I haven’t done this sort of goof in a very long time – possibly years. At least not an instance that lasted more than a minute – and those are always entertaining; no harm no foul.

Strangely, as I worked to clear my mind, the image of a toddler learning to walk came to me.

In nano-seconds I recalled how my firstborn, Iain began walking at nine months of age. Motherly pride quickly gave way to exhaustion. By ten months he loved to run – urging anyone to get him. With so many monstrous end tables, door jams and thresholds lurking around… Suffice it to say abstinence of stimulants was mandatory. I now recall developing a fondness for wine as Iain found his sea legs.

Already bigger than most two-year-olds, Iain was remarkably fast; often too fast. Despite his adorable pudgy bulk he was also remarkably agile. Still, when he stumbled and fell there was often blood shed. Fortunately, being the first of his generation, a host of doting aunts and uncles were usually handy to entertain – and spot him.

Among my fondest memories is my two brothers developing an obstacle course for Iain in the grassy yard behind the house. They set out a cardboard box to crawl through, a lawn chair cushion to pounce upon, a coiled garden hose turned into a tunnel and such. In no time Iain wore them down, and yet they both patiently kept close guard while the toddler squealed and bounced along with delight, rosy cheeks glowing in the patchy sunshine beneath the orange tree.

back yardIain couldn’t get more than a foot from both men, but I’m certain in his mind he was footloose and fancy free. Entirely forgetting his nearby sentries he ran, crawled, stooped, rolled and toddled until finally he sat down.

I doubt I’ll ever forget the image of the three of them sitting quietly, backs against the tree trunk until Iain’s head slid slowly onto Seagh’s lap, sound asleep. Or that these were the same guys that would catch farts in their hands to release them in my face. Don’t get me started on other things they taught my sons…

Peaceful, calm assurance restored, I wiped my eyes and got back to my desk. The rework actually went remarkably well and I posted the story in a record five hours later than I’d planned that day.

I sometimes imagine Father God like my brothers in that scenario. As we grow into the various stages of our lives, we often go so fast, too fast sometimes and want to run before we master walking. He gives us healthy obstacles to challenge us and yet, He is always close enough to stop us from running into harm’s way.

Sure, bad things happen. We all fall sometimes and occasionally face harsh consequences after landing. Especially when the pressure’s on it’s good to remember that despite the bumps and bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is, for those who know and trust Jesus, the cross has made us flawless.*

*

 

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:3-5 (NLT)

 

*I do not own the rights to Flawless, MercyMe. No copyright infringement was intended in the making of this video.

 

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The Best Choice Today

Have you ever faced a hard choice wishing it was not up to you? Have you ever regretted a decision? Welcome to my thoughts today, as I seem to bear the weight of the world!

whats right

 

Today I’m considering quotes. Usually quotes from my late brother help me most often, like “It’s not about who’s right, but what’s right.” But that’s not much help today.

I take more time making decisions these days than ever before. Perhaps that’s because America is caught up in the Presidential Election Primaries – so much information, the actual facts (verses misinformation or subjectivity), so little time. Maybe because I am older than I ever thought I’d be and yet vital, I approach many decisions more seriously. More than ever before in my history every choice seems more important in nearly every area of life.

Faced with making a decision that will directly impact my household, possibly my entire family, I’ve been profoundly circumspective the past few weeks – months actually. It’s not all bad. I’ve discovered among the blessings of aging is history; I can look back at choices I made and examine what was good, what could have been better and what didn’t work out so well – and why. As recently as a few years ago, my history had me reluctant to make decisions that had much bearing on anyone but me. One such choice about three years ago was to combine my household with my sister and brother. That decision brought me here, both geographically and metaphorically.

During weeks of introspection and examining the facts, thoughts from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am come to mind (paraphrased):

  • I am not God. Therefore I cannot alter His plan.
  • God doesn’t have a backup plan in case I screw up His plan.
  • This story isn’t over, not even the results of decisions I regret because I chose while angry or hurt.

One choice that faces us all more than we even notice, is to do what’s best. Granted, I like to examine everything from every available perspective –  which often annoys my housemates. For example,

shall I:

  • get up now or go back to sleep,
  • eat cheese, eggs, beef or chicken, tea or coffee
  • walk in the morning or afternoon
  • spend now to save or do without

Under our intense circumstances our household often faces choices that ordinarily seem simple but are actually complex and have an impact on someone else or another area of life:

I’m groping here, but for example:

  • leave a light on in case someone in the household isn’t home yet (impacting the electric bill)
  • shop for food today because supplies are scarce or wait until the coupons and sale ads arrive
  • spend any more time trying to save a few pennies

But the biggest choice facing me now,

  • should I stay in my present household with family or move to somewhere more conducive to my needs.

The hardest part of the process is considering the list under the category,

What if

Some choices offer immediate results so they seem simpler. Those involving others and bear more dramatic, long-term or unseen ramifications are more challenging. With all our advanced technology, seeing ahead is sometimes as difficult as ever, particularly when our choices affect the lives around us.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Spock

When faced with difficult choices, I rely upon intensive prayer and fasting. Even then answers can seem subjective, especially to my vision in the moment. So, whenever possible I give myself time. I dread the chance I may have missed something important simply because there’s so much to consider. While I’m undeniably an emotional being, just as able to make a decision that could be influenced by my feelings in the moment, faith also guides my decisions.

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Proverbs 29:18 (NLT)

When open communication is tricky, confusion and offenses weigh in, being no more self-centered than the next human, my maternal instincts tend to override other logic. Still, I’m careful about doing something or entertaining thoughts that seem to be all about me – essentially evil.

“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (King James Version)

Today my search for wisdom and direction led me right back where today began. My only plan remains to prepare myself to be ready when the time comes to either stay or move.

“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Job 11:13-14 (NLT)

A die hard scout, I shall prepare for whatever, continue listening and wait.

Good talk. Thanks!

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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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