Sunrise and Mile Markers

We are on the road! For the next several days we will be enjoying God’s countryside and good times.

Three-thirty a.m. comes early when you are so excited you can hardly sleep.

First photo of the trip, the St. John’s River, as we pass by on our way to Virginia.

Our favorite deputy is at the wheel this morning. We have a blast when we are together .. her sense of humor and love for life is contagious. By the time we get to our destination, she will have scoped out the full status that be of every stop along the way.

My heart is full and I am almost emotional that I finally get to see my daughter and her family, and my Mama, my Aunts and some of my cousins after a two year wait.

Our road is presently uncluttered.

Stitches from alpaca yarn

A ball of yarn is full of potential in the right hands.

Or should I say, willing hands.

One of my grandmothers spent her evenings crocheting and the one on the other side of the family sewed.

I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t like sewing as much as crocheting.

I wonder what the alpacas think?

And how did they get blue fur?

A shearer gave them the trim they needed. And behold, alpaca yarn. Somewhere along the line, the wad probably soaked in a pot of dye.

Nonetheless, it makes for great string art (since crocheting sounds ancient, you know).

Presently am working on my next shawl and I will post it when finished.

The soft string is soothing and inspiring all at once.

A few ladies at lunch have stopped to take a look at my latest project. Oohs and aahs from their collective selves.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a few hobbies. Most likely because my relatives recognized they had a hyperactive kid on their hands. Keep her busy, they said.

So writing, reading, string art, painting, gardening, music and photography are all outlets for me.

Tonight, I would like to encourage you to explore your creative side.

Paint rocks. Bake a cake and learn how to make home made frosting. Learn how to do calligraphy.

But whatever you do, enjoy this moment in life.

So starting Saturday, I will be taking you along on an adventure. The bestie and I are taking off for the north to see my family. We are super excited, and I am ready to take some super cool photos as well.

Blessings to all. The cats say hello and the fish wave a fin as they swim in their weightless existence. Write me and tell me about your adventures.

Trusting God in the hard times

The young lady wept on her bed, and said it had been two years since she fell sick .. two years of doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Unexplained rashes, malaise, fevers, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, neuropathy and more.

Where is God in the hard times?

And what does it mean to trust Him?

Weary of one sermon after another from others with good intent, a young man strikes out on his own God journey to the center of His soul.

Across the country, an elderly woman looks out the window and wonders why it seems as if favor rests with the young, and her family never calls.

A couple gets the news that their teen will not be coming home, another life claimed by an auto crash.

Dear God, where are You, the human heart cries.

“I don’t need your blind faith,” another says.

But the sun comes up, and the sun goes down, another day is done.

Trust.

Foraging for a small cart of groceries, we search for the coffee, bread, or perhaps even toiletries we have come to trust.

Why do we trust the brand? It is the familiar, a product used again and again.

So perhaps familiarity and trust go hand in hand?

A small child asks his mother, “Mommy, how do we know God is real?” Mama looks down at the child and surveys the small trailer lot, located on a pile of sand, across from a railroad track, a major highway and airport, their abode, where they rent the capsule for their daily activities. The wind blows some nearby palm trees, and suddenly she says, “You see that wind? You cannot see the wind itself, but you know it is there by the way it moves the trees. You feel it on your face, yet you cannot grasp it with your hand. That is what God is like.”

Trust.

Perhaps the greatest testimony one can share is how God showed up in the midst of their trials.

The phone call from a friend, an unexpected blessing, a small bird delivering a song for this moment of time.

God is as close as His spoken Name. As close as the heart that seeks Him.

Psalm 91 (NIV) “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

Remember

I wish I had listened more carefully to the names of the fallen comrades who gave their lives protecting the United States of America when Granddad and Dad shared old war stories.

But their names could have been anyone, at any time, at any place.

An empty chair left behind, a book unfolded with the intention to finish it, a project left in the closet to tend another day. Old photos tucked into a cedar chest, the memories of souls who left far too soon.

My heart is always sad on days of remembrance.

Memorial Day was honored in our home growing up.

But the men and women who served with the men and women who gave it all have stories to tell of the time when ..

May their memories live on and may we be inspired to be better people because of their sacrifice.

Have a blessed Memorial Day, everyone.

The blessing of Friendship

Good friends are like a stunning teapot collection.

Each brings their own personality and view to your world, each leaves a blessed pattern upon your heart.

At the beginning of last week, I had one of those blah days. I know blah is not really a word. But it is a word in my vocabulary.

As I ponder on the last couple of weeks, it occurs to me that completely on their own, a few people reached out to me .. and all said hello.

Hello is a great place to start in the world of friends. You hear me share much about my bestie and our projects and adventures.

She and I both reflect on how many wonderful friends we collectively have .. precious souls.

Two friends sent me greeting cards, a few texted, a couple sent messages.

Even one of my Indiana cousins reached out with one of her beautiful hand made cards.

Love it, I did!

(I know suddenly that sounded like something Baby Yoda would say, but there you go.)

Lol.

And there is another note of interest. Well to me, anyway.

I have always loved cards. I love paper. I love words. I love books.

And that is no surprise.

In my younger years, as I was raising my firstborn in Tennessee, miles away from Florida, away from the familiar, I wrote a lot of letters and received a number of cards.

A large bulletin board hung in the hallway of my old house served as a gathering place for all of them.

And as new ones arrived, over the course of a year, I rotated them between the board and a small box that held the rest of them.

Ok. So I have started three sentences with the word And.

My old copy editor would be on my case to get rid of And immediately.

The sun is setting on another busy day, and as I listen to the evening traffic buzz and rumble by, I find myself very grateful for this existence.

That of knowing some special folk, who do their thing encouraging others.

And.

Perhaps I can repay the favor at some point.

The hum of nature

My neighbor’s chickens are scratching around in the farm yard next door and I must say they are delightful to watch (and yes chicken is great to eat, but these lay eggs and there is that lol.)

A few hours spent sitting in my garden, enjoying the wind chimes, and sipping coffee is time well spent.

Today, a family of cardinals swooped in to check out our bird feeders, while a bright yellow butterfly bounced through the air above them all, as if to say hello.

A fat squirrel appeared and then scurried up a tree.

Suddenly, a very slow wasp flew under the gazebo, toting another wasp beneath him, and I must say I have never seen that before.

He carried his weight and that of the wasp underneath.

(Ok forgive me if I missed that in biology. Will look it up for sure.)

So what’s the word for the day?

Peace.

Enjoying this quite beautiful day, I sit and wonder how much nature sense most of us have lost in this busy world.

All of the plant and animal kingdom do things by instinct.

It’s a God thing, I think.

Once our summer rains begin, mosquito spray will find its own home in a nearby flower pot while we all slap our arms and curse the “no see ems” otherwise labeled by the locals as “saber tooth gnats.”

Lest we, like the wasp, shall be carried away.

Figuratively.

Time in nature unravels our senses that have been knotted by constant automation.

I keep hearing a few footsteps in the farm grass behind us, and I believe it is the overweight, ancient farm cat that occupies their land and this plot.

And there is a chorus of a few cicadas, typical of Florida spring.

What is peace to you and how do you get it? For faith believers, that comes from God, an assurance that somehow, all will work together for good for those who love the Lord.

A friend and I recently discussed a few major world Christian religions, or beliefs, and came to the conclusion that the uniting factor of all of them, besides the Messiah, is prayer.

Have to tell you that as I sit here and take in all the beauty of this garden, I ponder this: Does nature pray?

Or does it hum?

Maybe the birds, the bees, the butterflies, critters, the grass and the trees, the flowers and even the weather elements all have it right.

A ceremonious celebration of this very day.

Peace be with you tonight, or today, when you read this.

The real reason writers write

Those who love words understand it well .. the real reason writers write.

An epiphany rose up in my creative flow this evening.

In the midst of listening to a motivational talk .. somewhat and not necessarily listening with intention, it made sense to me. The reason why I blog.

It is easy to talk oneself out of a goal, make a list of failures and shortcomings, and yes it is hard to reach the summit, but there is energy exerted in either case.

Positive versus negative energy.

I thought of my personal writing goals .. those that are outside my professional career.

And realized that many of my blogs .. although others have said they have helped them in some way, were written to myself.

A fellow blogger once said “that’s because blogs, by nature, are me-centric.”

So there is that.

Dear Me. Literally.

My goal is to create content, and continue to write my books, and hopefully along the way make a few friends and bless those who could use a lift.

Writers write. And readers read. And writers read. And readers write.

After questioning the future of my blog, what I would like to see, etc. I realize it is good to just put one foot in front of the other with this matter.

I guess it is ok, after all, if it is really talking to myself. But maybe, somehow, an adventure or creative burst, a poem or song, or observance, or muse, or story, or nugget of wonder encountered on life’s path, can be shared for the benefit of others.

Relish the Middle Moments

The view from the top of a mountain is exhilarating, and yet, it is the path to get there that recharges your soul.

A quick search of social media, and a friend of mine said “Wow it looks like everyone is having a good time.”

Is it not true that we post our highs and occasionally, lows, yet the Middle Moments evaporate?

People prepare for retirement, get ready for a wedding, shop for a party, study for the degree, get shined up for an appearance.

The pinnacle is reached, and then what?

A former New York Times reporter, most likely quoting something she had read, said “Enjoy the Journey.”

Are you?

It’s a question I have asked myself many times. It’s easy to respond with a professional “fabulous” with gusto when someone asks you how you are doing.

Professionals are highly skilled at masking negative emotion, having learned to put the best face forward.

And yet.

Let’s just get real here, all of us. We each know our load.

Those on display are seen for a moment in time, and yet nothing is said of their Middle Moments.

The Middle Moments when you have trashed the manuscript for the umpteenth time. The ragged seconds when a person digs in with resolve to finish a project, while fielding phone calls of family tragedy or one more bit of bad news. The quiet minutes, alone, or hours, or days, or weeks, or months, where nothing seems to be happening.

One gentleman I know lives in a very elite, expensive area of Hilton Head. An accomplished man, by the world’s standards. Rising from a poverty stricken life where he and his siblings were oft without the necessities of proper food and clothing, he endeavored early on in life to not settle for the status quo.

“He studied all the time,” said one of his friends, noting they couldn’t even go surfing on summer break without him toting a text book to keep up with his reading.

The Middle Moments.

Is it possible to both reach for your goals and also just enjoy this Moment in time? To breathe in and out, to be thankful for the little things? To be uplifted by song, good art, great books, coffee with friends? To keep the bubble leveled on the positive?

The Middle Moments.

Get to the point.

Celebrate your place in time. Sparkle even if you are not acclaimed as “the best,” “the fastest,” “most beautiful,” “the smartest,” “most accomplished,” “already there.”

Celebrate you and enjoy the little things that make you and others happy.

And perhaps, the Middle Moments, where you string pretty lights for the sake of their glow, or ponder a firefly on a starry night, or muse a tune for which you have no words, can be those moments you will one day look back and recall, “These were the best days of my life.”

Gators, planes, motion and bees. Oh. And bobcats. And heights.

Fear comes in many forms.

The breeze blew gently, making a rustling in the trees above our heads, as we took a seat on a cast iron garden bench at Bok Tower Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida.

Striking out on a new and unexplored path with my bestie, GJ, I found myself stiffly checking for water and gators. As a bush shook, I heard a few giggles, and realized gators don’t laugh, but people do. My shoulders relaxed, and for the moment, I surveyed the beautiful gardens. Azaleas and honeysuckle, lantana and camellias, jasmine and hundreds of daisies were in full bloom. The scent of orange blossoms was intoxicating.

Wings.

Overhead, a humming noise cut across the sky, and a plane that appeared to be a Piper or something of that sort was making its way to its next destination.

A friend of mine is into planes, and I wondered if it was his.

Overhead.

I am not sure exactly when the fear of planes flying overhead settled into my spirit. When my kids were tiny, I lived across from an airport, and enjoyed watching all the air traffic, to include the Blue Angels and other jets.

Then it struck me that I had covered a couple fatal plane crashes during my time as a journalist.

So there you go.

Control.

It is no secret that I do not ever ride with anyone in a vehicle .. other than my best friend. I like driving myself when possible.

Planes.

I cannot fly a plane.

The last time I flew on an airplane (rather, in an airplane), the pilot sensed there were some uptight passengers afraid of flying.

In his quite professional voice, he told us all to sit back and relax. And he handled the plane like a soldier. Amazing flight.

Issues.

That is what people say if you are not crazy about riding roller coasters or flying, or are cautious as you go through life. As I was recently chided by a new friend about not riding theme park rides and avoiding sushi, I turned to the man and told him that I am very confident in who I am as a person.

“You’ve got to live a little,” he said.

My nostrils flared but I was still smiling.

After a few minutes on the garden bench, the bestie and I charted course for the next path, and as we did, stopped for a photo by some outdoor sculptures situated in the Fairy Garden. I bent down on one knee in the white sand as the bestie took a photo.

Buzzzzzzzzzz.

Reallyyy? I said, as a very large wasp started chasing me.

The ultimate photo bomb.

Take two.

We finally got the photo.

Further down the path, I saw a sign about bobcats. Like, in the day, where are they? But there were kids running around, so I thought hey I am safe.

Of course I checked the trees.

No cats.

I think I heard a gator laugh, though.

Spring is in full bloom in Florida! (Photo by GJ.)

As you know, this is the season of Lent. A time to reconnect spiritually and do a sort of faith overhaul.

Fear.

I justify my many fears by the reality of said matter at hand. While it is true tragedies of many types happen, it is not necessarily likely that they will.

Truth is, while I have many fears, I also am brave in other ways. And I only share this because I am sure others deal with fears of various kinds.

What are your fears? Do you also have areas of your life in which you truly live courageously?

Is it possible for me to both acknowledge my fears, respect myself, as well as try a few new things now and then, a new path at a nature park? I did today.

And for that tiny step, I am encouraged in my spirit.

P.S. I have learned that sushi is not always raw fish. Some is cooked. I have taken note and will examine the subject at some point and return with my thoughts.

Optimistic ponderings

What will I believe about my dreams?

It is true that those who see the glass half full may oft be deemed unrealistic and out of touch, aloof with matters present be.

And yet, there we are. Faced with two choices on any given day, in any given situation, one must decide to either believe the best possible thing could happen or hang the proverbial hat on the rack of impossibility.

I also believe that many of us are a mixture of both, and some might say that is balance. Others might say such thought contradicts itself.

The phrase “it just might work” has probably been uttered countless times since ancient days by inventors and entrepreneurs, dreamers and pursuers of greatness.

Write down your hopes and dreams, sprinkle them with a bit of glitter, and let the breeze of opportunity blow upon them. Chase the bits of light and see where they go.

Are you an artist? Create with your best effort. Establish your why, your motivator. What drives you? Maybe you are more logical, and you say creativity flees you. But you can push up weights and run countless miles, faster and longer than others you know.

One look at my friends list, and on any given day, I see a number of dreams popping all over the place. One girl takes selfies as she jumps out of an airplane. Another sweats in the gym at 4 a.m. An elegant lady paints the most beautiful snapshots of country life in impressionist style. The list goes on. A realtor shines as she unlocks the key for a couple’s future. A deputy rescues the downtrodden, endangered, saves lives and then makes dinner for her family. Countless others are at various places in their education journey. One just finished her PhD. And one friend with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer still fights the fight and lives each day with nothing less than her all, leaving a trail of inspiration for all of us who are honored to watch her sparkle.

A glass half full accomplishes much.

For all these, by not only believing their dreams would come true, but also by applying the corresponding effort, saw great things come to life.

Authors. Creators. Mamas raising babies and some even educating them at home. Working women. Philanthropists. Singers. Models. Home business operators. Health care workers. Bankers. Food industry professionals. And more.

Anything is possible.

What are your dreams?