When the storm rolls in …

Sometimes there are no words.

When the cancer has grown.

When your mother has flown to be with Jesus. Or your brother. Or sister or friend or coworker.

When all the news seems to be a steady replay of death, controversy, suffering and pain.

When the money is not enough.

It won’t buy health, it won’t buy time, it won’t replace the years lost.

When you feel so defeated and wonder why even the good you try to do for others seems to go nowhere.

A song on the radio plays and you find yourself in tears.

Having bottled up your pain, the cup finally tips and you let it gush.

It would not be good for your friends or family to know you cried, you think.

Because why not, society only admires strength and this is not that.

A voice comes over the radio.

A paper thin female voice, wispy and soft and comforting.

“Give it all to Jesus,” she says.

She talks about prayer and how God loves you and how your life will never be the same when you let Him in.

Nine years old, eight years old, six years old, you remember the baptismal waters .. A crowd of Christians and Sunday morning dresses …

Spearmint chewing gum your Grandmother handed you from a thirty year old purse that smelled like old roses and held one Kleenex and a lipstick ..

The preacher and the cross and the music.

Maybe the question isn’t “Have you let Him in?” but “Have you let Him back in?”

Not wanting to be vulnerable, you go on a number of months, even years, and admire the people you see and how they smile as they share their faith and wonder why isn’t it like that for me?

The God of the fancy is the God of the every day person, not a pick and choose God that some would paint Him to be.

The Godhead with muscles. The Ancient of Days Who Gets It.

The One you can talk to about anything without fearing society’s pilfering opinions or judgment of man.

The tears, the fears, the concerns overwhelm you and suddenly it becomes clear.

This God thing is a relationship thing and not a religion thing and is something quite tangible.

God is Bigger than the cross around our necks.

He is Bigger than the altar at our church.

He is Vast and Omnipotent, Unchangeable, Ever Present and yet loving enough to pull up a chair in our hearts and have coffee with us as we dish on the day and all its cares.

Selah.

Lord, come sit with me in the quiet of this time. Walk through the corridors of my soul. Fill me with Your love and healing. Hold me close and give my bones strength for another day. Let me be a blessing, Lord.

How to make a list of dreams

A yellow butterfly .. like really bright solid yellow .. chased me today while I was working a back to school backpack giveaway. I smiled and thought, aww, butterflies love me. It seems that everywhere I go, I come across their path.

Might be my perfume, duly noted that wasps and bees seem to chase me as well!

Not welcome.

Bees are cool if they just do their bee thing. That pollination makes the world go around, and we are grateful.

But the weirdest thing was that this yellow butterfly was some distance from any flowers or bushes, a distance from a usual resting place for a butterfly.

Not that butterflies rest much either.

Anyway.

Sometimes you can talk to a person about goals and dreams, and they say, “you know, I do not know where to start.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Establish whether you are going to have a bulletin board as your dream board, or do a dream book. Either is good because you can clip out a magazine photo of some cool place you would like to visit.

2. Think about persons, places and things. What makes your world go around? Spending time with lots of people, or just a few, or by yourself?

3. What would you like to do .. go to a ball game, visit a museum, have a beach day?

There are a number of group activities to be enjoyed.

Or perhaps you prefer an alone project. Something you do alone. Maybe go for dinner at your favorite restaurant, or shop for new parts for that car you are restoring.

4. What was the last place you visited that ignited your senses? Why not do that again? How did you feel afterwards? For me, a trip downtown to the coffee shop, the library and culling the local shops for something unique is a very relaxing afternoon. I feel inspired to write more after visiting a library.

5. Things. There are people who say it is wrong to be materialistic (and for sure it is good to enjoy the fruits of your labors), while others receive that as an expression of love. Things can be cool and also not having a lot of things can be cool as they are easier to maintain. What is your choice?

6. Maybe add your item or items to that dream board or dream book. Photos and prices, make a goal.

I have a couple of things I would like to have when the price is right.

Dream.

But you can also dream about your occupation. I feel so blessed to be where I am now, as a Crime Prevention Specialist. I also lived the dream of becoming a professional writer. But it all started when I was a customer service rep at a local hospital.

I had been there about three years and loved my job, but at the time had a dream of becoming a reporter and writer.

Having received one rejection after another for some of my poetry from publishing companies that closed, I now chuckle that I really did meet that goal, and not just a little.

As a customer service rep, I started getting serious about my writing and was working on a book, so when people asked what I did, I said I am a customer service rep and a writer.

“Are you published?” they would ask.

I smiled and said well not yet, but I am working steadily toward that.

7. What dreams do you need to speak into existence? Is there a career change you have in mind? Maybe you want to go back to school?

8. Put your book or board where your dreams are in front of you. This becomes your why. This is your motivating plan to get you to where you are going.

Well, I’d better go check on dinner. Chicken and rice and vegetables tonight. Looks like it is going to storm, and I don’t mind. The sound of a soft rain as I go to sleep would be glorious indeed.

Sparkle just because

As long as I can remember, the light and shine of glitter, sequins, and foil star stickers has given me hope.

For me, it goes to that “Let there be light” that God said in the beginning of time.

Tonight, am keeping this short as I want to see the opening Olympic ceremonies.

What makes your heart light?

Share that with someone.

Maybe if we all let our “sparkle” sparkle it will brighten someone’s day.

Dream a little dream

Or not.

Dream a big dream.

Dream something exquisite, creative, kind, beautiful.

Once in a while, I sort of evaluate the status of my goals in life.

Where am I and where do I want to be?

Back in journalism days, I recall meeting city planners with all their maps of this and that, where new businesses would locate, the future home of thus and so and so forth.

So when I think about a dream, it seems to me a plan is in order, because it also seems that a dream without a plan is fruitless.

Like shopping without a list and purpose could get expensive, I think of the many dreams I could put on paper and how they must be written down or they may not happen.

Here are a few of my dreams:

To stay open for God to use me as He sees fit in His church.

To spoil my parents because that is what they deserve.

To make blankets and art for my children and grandchildren. To make sure they know I love them always.

To take many trips with my bestie.

To finish writing my fiction book, if for nothing else, to entertain my grandchildren.

To write a non-fiction sequel to my first book. And maybe someday get a YouTube channel going. Will see.

To get a selfie near a sunflower field with sunflowers taller than me.

To visit a winery and do grape stomping with my feet.

To really learn to play the piano well, as well as get another guitar and learn to play it well and write songs. There is a smaller guitar at a local music shop that I have had my eye on for a very long while. I feel like it will be mine one day for sure. (Save and plan lol.)

To write something of substance that would bring peace to the world.

And more dreams than I can write here.

Steady moves reach the goal

Sporting a migraine is a great way to end the day, and suddenly I remember another Facebook post that someone else wrote .. “focus on your blessings and not on your complaints.”

Had the day off today as I work this weekend, and since the bestie was free, we checked out a few thrift shops, had lunch, went to the grocery and then swimming, where she went after a wasp nest full force with a bottle of spray. I was in awe of her bravery lol.

Presently, outside, the crickets are happy, or at least that is what I imagine as they chirp their evening pre-storm chorus.

You know what they say, in Florida, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.

So, goals.

I find every time I have a day off, I have a pile of things I would like to do, because sure it is great to relax but also to keep up with life .. because that is what you do.

Or I do.

Or I try, that is.

The matter of the day was cleaning my room.

Imagine what a creative writer’s room looks like, or abode, or cave or whatever and you realize just how daunting a task that really is.

But this year, since reading Gretchen Ruben and her words on being Happier At Home, and taking in a few happy cleaning-organizing shows, I feel as if I really need to get my room organized to be happy.

Large exclamation point.

!

Seriously, though, it is not like it is trashy, as I empty the small waste basket every day, and dirty clothes go in the laundry hamper (which at present moment, the wicker hamper is being shredded by the newest housecat, Peebs, just for fun), and junk mail gets tossed and so forth.

But as I look around, I see piles of books, craft projects, art projects, sentimental and historical family gifts and momentos, thirty or so baskets (I collect them and as such, they multiply, and I am paring them back, slowly, painfully), bags of makeup (yes I am high maintenance but I try to maintain myself ha ha), shoes of various kinds, a few paintings here and there and more bottles of perfume than I would like to admit.

As you can see by the photo above, an ordinary cell phone snap shot of one of my baby blankets I am creating, this photo is one I shot .. am trying to get to the point where even if I take a still shot for my blog, at least it is mine and not from the free media library that comes with my subscription. And probably a more appropriate photo for this blog would be the pic of my messy room. Will have to tidy it more to get that shot I am sure.

My room. The mess. Yes. This afternoon dove into it and went through all my closet clothing and pulled out garments I don’t like any more, that are outdated or don’t fit, or are not useful. I was surprised to see that I actually have things to wear! Amazing! Like opening Christmas presents indeed.

Pulled out all broken or flimsy hangers and replaced them with the good ones.

Cleaned off one part of my dresser and hoisted my mother’s Japanese jewelry box (it has no jewelry in it) to the top novelty shelf.) It does not really fit my decor down low, but up high it almost looks like a mystery.

Weird.

Now having new room in my closet to hang more clothes, moved the clothes I hanged on both doors to the inside of the closet, and now I can see my long, hand painted tin sign with the motivational saying “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” It hangs on the door and is perfectly artsy there.

I believe that with my tan walls, I will eventually move back to a black accent decor (I have a few different comforter sets that I switch out occasionally, also weird, but I guess I take after my Mama, who does the same thing.)

Slowly I am moving toward a more almost minimalist room. I say almost, because I am not sure I will be for example, that person who lives with nothing on their walls.

Admittedly, even with the little I have done, I feel I can breathe again.

Recently, I visited my oldest daughter’s home in Virginia, and what she and her beloved have done with their home is gorgeous. Fresh paint, no clutter, organized rooms, touches of light decorating .. I thought to myself, that is what I want.

Light and clean, airy, simple, creative and beautiful.

Maybe tomorrow I will uncover another few inches of my dresser.

Or maybe I will organize my makeup.

We’ll see.

I feel accomplished, and happy.

Happy with the ordinary

Are you happy? I mean really really happy?

If not, why not, and what will it take for that to happen for you?

Tonight I feel like I should be expounding on some great bestseller I have read, or announcing fantastic plans for my next vacation, or presenting something worthy, ponderous, beautiful, creative, notable.

I have been happy for several days now. Not that I am unhappy on many days, just that some days I take more note of the fact I am happy.

I wonder what would happen if we substituted words for what we believe happiness is.

Time? Connection? Relief from pain? Unannounced excursion to a really cool place? Debt relief? Epiphany? Great food? A clean house?

And then I think about how most people have some commonalities when it comes to happiness, like everyone loves a good movie or book ending, or everyone loves a hero kind of thing.

Yet what is happiness to one does not matter as much to another.

Chocolate used to make me happy, a splendid thing indeed!

Does.

Does what?

Does happiness have to manifest itself as the extraordinary?

Cows. Cows make me smile.

Coffee cups likewise. And teapots. Nature. Pretty flowers. Friendships. Laughter.

I was in the store this weekend and heard two little girls in a shopping cart giggling.

It made me smile.

Today, had a great day all around. Worked hard and came home to a hot cup of coffee.

I think of my family, and how everyone in my family works hard. Dependable. Stick with it, kind of people.

I love that heritage.

The other cool thing is I never got the feeling that we would all be happy “someday.”

Joy in the moment. Lighten your heart, laugh a little, dwell on the positive.

I never really thought about how the ordinary days were meaningful and beautiful as a kid. Maybe we muse these things as we get older.

Meanwhile .. what are you doing to increase your happiness?

More on this in upcoming blogs. Explore new things indeed.

The frogs were singing this morning as it rained last night .. and I wonder if tomorrow will be the same. Their song is beautiful to me, raw and real.

Creative ponderings

I was very proud of myself for eating celery, hummus, and avocado all in one day, and was reflecting on that ceremoniously as I stood at the kitchen counter, putting together more of the same for supper.

A bump of my elbow sent a glass salt shaker and a large onion hurling toward my foot, and how it landed on my toes I do not know.

Screaming ow, ow, ow and also thankfully not cussing instead, I was fuzzed by Molly Moo below me, who looked concerned and replied with an ow, ow, owww.

I couldn’t help but laugh at her. Molly does not meow unless she has her mouse in her mouth. Ow, ow means she wants what I am making for dinner, meaaa meaaa is scratchy cat vocal for hey I acknowledge you, and moww moww is I have a mouse and want you to know all about it. (A catnip mouse. Pretty sure if we had any mice, the four members of the rat pack would not tolerate that.)

Over the course of my life, I have occasionally launched a health kick. Like the time in high school when I announced that cereal was so yesterday, I needed to cook eggs in a burrito every day. (Which would have been good if I had not skipped lunch and slurped a chocolate shake instead, garnishing it with newly purchased candy bars from our latest school fundraiser.

Then there was the vegetarian kick. I would swear off meat forever. Not cool to eat meat .. bad for you.

I lasted two meals. Not even a whole day!

Enter .. my recent doctor’s visit.

Yes I know people might say sharing health stuff is just “TMI,” but you know I am putting it out there because honest conversations are where we grow. Or maybe where I grow. Or something like that.

So I had lab work done and headed for my once a year appointment with my endocrinologist.

I looked at her and she looked at me, and with a sweet smile and lifted eyebrow, my doc said “You need to do something, you are practically diabetic.”

Not pleased with my recent tests, she advised there is more to life than peanut butter crackers and tortilla chips.

Recommending exercise, eating healthy, getting rid of carbs and so forth followed in quick order.

Blech.

This all started in my early twenties with a thing called reactive hypoglycemia, where I passed out after having one bite of cake. And then. Went through my cupboards, started reading labels, mortifying script of this and that, too much sugar, what on earth are carbs, and I was left with basic meat, veges, an occasional small piece of bread, cheese, butter, yogurt but not sweetened, and absolutely no fruit, syrups, jellies, etc.

I was told I would probably one day hear the D word and honestly, I should not have been shocked but here I am, thankfully, not insulin dependent.

So there is still time.

I downloaded an app to register my readings and a food diary. Have a Fitbit to monitor my heart and tell me how many steps I take. And for the last three days have taken vitamins, packed a full lunch box, and made great effort to do anything but sit in a chair.

I was thinking I might try to update you as to my progress .. or not .. as one of my creative things I share.

For now, it’s just celery, and hummus, and avocado, and falling onions.

What is next on this new diet thingy?

The God connection

The Sunshine State did not disappoint today.

After church and a quick run to the grocery for a few lunch items for next week, came home and jumped in the pool for a while.

Swirling the water around with my toes and doggy paddling, I’m not a real picturesque swimmer, but I make do. Most of all, I just floated and paddled, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the scent of freshly mowed grass.

As I looked up at a few white billowy clouds, I thought of their beauty and thought also, hey this is really cool.

Floating weightless, and observing the clouds do the same, it occurred to me that most people have some kind of God connection, and whether they acknowledge it or not, it is still there, I believe.

I have never been one to get into deep religious arguments or skirmishes about the status of things.

Quietly go and do, hopefully live in such a way that I am a blessing.

Grandma always said don’t talk religion nor politics, and that is safe.

Yet I admire when folks are real with me because proverbial smokescreens of relation seem so shallow at times.

So when I write about God, or a muse, or something I have pondered, it is my way of sharing a part of me that blooms because of seeds others have planted.

Girl, get to the point.

Our pastor shared something today that I found very thought provoking. It went along the lines of “Are you showing up” for God?

And I thought you know, I have always felt the need for God, for His Presence in my life. I have always, even as a child, thought how on earth am I going to be good enough to get into heaven?

This might have something to do with me spending years of my childhood grounded, lol, for either sassing my parents, or foraging my own way instead of following instructions (for the last time, button your coat, turn the faucet so it does not drip, do not bring home C’s on your report card, as we already know you are a minimum B).

I laugh now when I look back, really, because as an adult I am such a rule follower.

So salvation to me has presented many challenges, as I thought to myself you have to be more than perfect to get to heaven.

Youth group changed all that for me, as our youth leaders glowed with the love of Jesus and were not hypocritical. They knew they would never win any of us by beating us over the head with a Bible, but by living it out before us, Christ in jeans.

Jeans. Opposite of a conservative Baptist church I attended in my early childhood years, the Southern Baptists reached into my heart and home and slowly, showed me their faith in action. My parents were impressed with the preacher who owned one suit and used to be a rock musician. Amazing Grace was really something when that man played the piano.

One half of my family was Baptist. The other side of my family were Church of Christ (non-musical.) And of course, that was one of the grounding occasions of my teen years, having an interesting discussion with one of my grandmothers over church history and music, and how music is so a part of worship.

After attending a number of Baptist churches, I came to the non-denomination Christian fellowships (i.e. the Alexander Campbell movement, not the only Christians, but Christians only.)

I raised my kids in those churches, and returned to the Baptist denomination after my first marriage ended.

Eventually, I came to the Assemblies of God, drawn by the open worship concept, and the warm and inviting church, who helped me through some of the worst parts of my adult life.

I also attended jeans and Jesus churches, which reminded me of my youth group.

In my second marriage, I went to a charismatic church and also joined a Jewish synagogue (by marriage, it was obvious I could not sing in Hebrew, though I did try!)

By the end of that decade, my marriage ended. So I was like wow, in church circles, this does not look good. But sometimes it is not meant to be and you have to move on.

I found I also began a heavy spiritual search. Who are you anyway? Every church I visited had a little pamphlet, a small handheld cross, a religious coin, a pen or a church coffee cup. I enjoyed the fellowship of many churches before I finally landed at my current church, Episcopal (Anglican.)

There are several of us who attend who came from different denominations. Some confirmed, some did not.

A Jewish friend of mine, who is a dear friend, to whom I still owe an Indiana pot roast, said once to me, how did you go from Baptist to Charismatic/Pentecostal to Episcopal/Catholic, so I thought I would share.

The God connection.

I feel like we all have a place for God in our hearts that only He can fill. Every nation on earth has some aspect of religion or relationship, worship or tradition.

I still feel drawn to Him because I have seen Him in others, and in nature – the works of His hand – in day to day things like sunrises and a child’s laugh, and the light of a candle on a stormy day.

Have a splendid evening, all. I was thinking of doing my spiritual writing on Sunday, then creative and life encouragement the other days.

Molly, my cat, sends her regards.

Prayers for all, for a safe and beautiful week.

In praise of pens

The sun is high and I worked a few hours this morning, and since I have landed for a bit, thought I would write a little thought today.

Someone posted on social media “the world needs what you have to offer,” and I thought to myself as I often do, in a world full of writers and words and libraries and books, does the world need one more contribution, as King Solomon once said “there is nothing new under the sun.”

And yet every story, every person, every experience and thread on this beautiful tapestry of life brings something of value.

Get to the point.

Don’t throw away your dreams, don’t underestimate your potential, don’t walk away or ignore what you at one time mused, and still lights your soul.

Pens.

Paper.

Blank books and empty pages waiting to be filled.

A word can plant a seed and a harvest can grow and someone can learn from your contribution, and others may also stir a spice into your recipe for life.

I am so comfortable around books and words and pens and paper, pretty pictures and poems and prose and mystery and history and future words to be spoken.

Since returning from our road trip to Virginia and Indiana, and our travels through 11 different states, it took me a couple weeks to get back into the swing of things and chart a course for the rest of the summer. Personal, not work related that is. (I love my job!)

Once in a while I think to myself, maybe I am sitting on a future best seller? Or maybe not? And is the measurement of success really on how vast the readership is .. or rather .. that your writing was a bright spot in someone’s day?

Years ago, my devotion writing was very preachy. Typical, really. Here is the dilemma, here is what I did, here is what Jesus says and that is that.

And through many life’s changes, I realized that conversation and story sharing has great impact, when you share your heart .. as it is not an anecdote to the subject at hand, whatever the discussion may be.

I enjoy the real of other authors’ works. The confession, the grappling, the musing, the thinking.

So there is the thought for the day, in praise of pens with willing ink, to share and inspire and bless and motivate, to record and uplift and sometimes challenge.

Have a beautiful day my friends.

Hoping to do some exercising today. Will probably include that in an upcoming blog.

Ha.

Locks, Love and Fireflies

An old railroad line, transformed by a Rails to Trails project, stands adorned presently as what the locals of Danville, Virginia know as Riverwalk Trail, or “The Locks Bridge.”

The bridge crosses the Dan River and lovers attach padlocks to the chain link fencing along the bridge, a sign of their love before casting its key into the oft brown, swirling river below.

The walk is accessible via stairs or ramp, making a great option for those who walk, roll in a wheelchair or families with little ones in strollers. The bridge gives a fantastic and safe view of the Dan River while preserving a large amount of foliage and native greenery along the trail.

Some etch their names on the locks, others post inspirational sayings. The Danville Parks and Recreation Department was quoted in a local newspaper as stating they maintain the bridge and occasionally thin out the number of locks.

Some walk the bridge, alone, listening to their ear pods or walking their pets. Others come in groups to try to find their lock, only to discover that perhaps it has been too long since their last visit, and it has been removed.

I thought of the lesson one could learn about relationship and keeping love alive and remembering the “why” for whatever it is one’s heart pursues.

Remember this, I told myself. That whatever you value is more than a passing and quite temporal display of endearment.

After spending the afternoon with family over lunch at a local coffee and wine cafe, my Bestie and I took a drive to take some more photos of the downtown area.

Later, after returning to my daughter’s house, we gathered on the quite Southern front porch to drink coffee and watch the fireflies.

A perfect end to a full day.

Tomorrow is a sleep in day, time to chill and spend time with my little granddaughter. Time passes fast, and as I survey this beautiful town that is her home, I wonder what she will do with her life and what memories she will make, and if Locks Bridge will one day carry a lock of hers as well.