Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

The music rolls in the background, setting the scene for the woman to lose her mind. Suddenly she is unconsolable. You saw it coming to be sure, but this is unfathomable. She is flailing, ranting, mad... destroying anything in her path. From fine china to furniture she is a dervish of hatred and violence and you marvel at her lack of control. Finally, a man enters the scene and takes the woman into his grasp. She is a lunatic still, his presence doesn't calm her, in fact it looks to enrage her further. Suddenly, without letting her out of his grasp the man pushes her to arms length and lets go with one hand to haul back and slap her twisted grimace. Just like that she is brought back to her senses and silence falls between them like fresh snow as he gathers her close to his burly chest in comfort.

Eighties dramas were awesome! Overacted, overdramatic, incredible crazy clothing and big hair... But there's something to that scene that resonates with me. That moment of madness stopped cold in its tracks by a swift and decisive action that brings it all back into focus. It has happened to me, you know. Not that the Man has ever dared to slap me, but God has. Figuratively speaking, of course, but still incredibly effective.

We have all been there if we can look back and pay close attention. You lose your focus on what is important, slowly drifting away from the little things that keep your eyes on God and not on this crazy, upside down world. Slowly the busyness of the day creeps in and you are focused on the bills, the lack of money to pay them. You start wondering why people can't see how painful it is. Why are they so selfish and callous? You begin to wonder where God has gotten to and why He seems to have left you to the wolves. All the while, Christ walks by your side trying to get your attention and going very much unheard over the din of your own mind.

It is normal. The laundry list of things we need to get done in a day can become this monster we tote around our necks. We don't want the monster that close to us, but it all needs taken care of, right? After all, if you don't do it, who will? You have to be the master of your destiny, you need to look out for number one, you alone are in control and you are the only one who cares... getting a bit dramatic for you is it? Yeah... But face it, it's familiar too.

We are in good company, you know. Peter, the dude Christ chose to run His church after the ascension, was a lot like that. He was passionate and completely devoted to Christ. I know you cannot debate that. He also had this habit of losing his focus, at least early on. I love the scene on the Sea of Galilee....

It's after a huge gathering and Christ has left the disciples in the boat while He goes off to pray and rest alone. The Sea of Galilee is known to this day for it's tempest type weather and of course while the Saviour is gone a storm kicks up. The disciples are busy trying to bail water and keep the boat afloat when they notice someone is coming towards them, walking on top of the water! It freaks them out and they lose focus on the boat as they determine that somehow a ghost is coming out to get them all. (Cue dramatic music...) Christ had to have shaken His celestial head slightly as he assures them, "It's just me, guys!" It is then that Peter, impulsive dude that he is, pipes up,"If it's really you, call me out there to you."

Now, I have wondered about that for a while... What was Pete thinking? Seriously? What kind of idiot thinks that they can do what Christ can do, just to prove a point? But then, that kind of faith is admirable too, at least on some level. He jumps out of the boat and starts walking to Christ... And then it hits him - Wait a minute... There was a storm brewing, there was wind, it was a dangerous situation and he was out of the only place of safety found for miles. He looks down at his feet that just milliseconds ago were treading upon the same water as the Son of God and he panics. Our impulsive Peter begins to sink. Duh! But that isn't the point, is it?

Thank goodness, it is not the point. Being impulsive and stepping out in faith isn't what got Peter in trouble. He did confirm it was Christ calling him out onto the water, he did have complete confidence that He would keep him afloat and not allow him to come to harm, He did all of that right. It was after he stepped out in faith that Peter tripped up. He took his eyes off of God - He lost his primary focus. He needed the slap of the water rising up his legs and his large bulk sinking into the churning sea to bring him back to the reality of Christ.

I love the way The Message has Christ answering Peter's cries for help. Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" (Matthew 14:31 MSG) What got into you? Why would you quit focusing when it matters the most?

It is a good thing that Christ knows we will lose focus and that even when we jump out of the boat in faith He will need to save us from ourselves when we realize we cannot do it alone. He knows we are unable. Deep down we know it too, we just forget to focus on Him. We get caught up in the details, in the minutia and the tasks that need ticked off the list. We discount the ability of Christ to take it all into consideration and not leave out anything of import or we figure that He would want us to help, to do our part.

I have gotten a few slaps lately. Brought back to reality by the slap of the water rising up around me, I bow my head and beg His forgiveness as I raise my arms to be saved again. He's there. He's ready to do it all over again and He knows it won't be the last time He has to save me from myself. I know it won't be the last time either, but I am learning from each time. I am learning to keep my focus more and more, and I am learning that when I don't I am allowed to bask in the luxurious forgiveness He doles out too. I try not to tick off another failure. Instead, I try to tick off another time I relied on someone more capable, more in tune with what needs done. I accept the slap in the face that brings me back to reality and try to take just a moment to rest on His chest in relief.

Before the madness returns...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Analog and other wonders...

Tuesday night we gathered at the barn. We were a gaggle of women, laughing, sharing a bottle of wine, seated around a small table with our electronic gadgetry, much like women before us had around a quilt frame.

As we sat and asked each other questions and learned about new apps, I smiled. Even though I relish the quietness of my nineteenth century existence out here in the boonies, I am amazed by the lack of contact we often impose on ourself in the very heart of the biggest cities in the world.

There was a time when ladies got together to piece together a quilt, build hankies and table clothes, night clothes and bed linens and to celebrate the marriage of a new bride. They would help make the things to go in her hope chest, things that she would use in later years to make a home for her new husband. Men would come together to build barns, plow fields, hunt and do all manner of manly things... It was a time of community building and celebration. If there were a more dire need, in the case of illness or fire, that too was a time of coming together to help heal, no matter how it shoved itself into our own schedules. It was a closer time than now.

Now, even though we are stacked on top of each other in the largest communities of all time, we seldom know our neighbors and we think the person brave enough to come knock on our doors to introduce themselves rather strange and forward. After all, who does that anymore? We think nothing of cultivating friendships online, never meeting each other face to face or sharing anything of importance, keeping it all very sterile and safe. We can sit at our computer, count up our followers or Facebook friends and deem ourselves successful at our interactions. Seriously?

There's a tongue in cheek phrase in the blogging world used to refer to time spent with actual humans. It's called "going analog." Getting out there, living in the moment, being present and relying on your eyes, ears, fingers and mouth to communicate someone's reality to you. Yes, peeps, they do exist, even if they don't have a blog or an online presence.

The digital world has saved my bacon more times than I can count. It keeps me grounded in what's happening outside my very small rural world. But the things that really count for me are the connections that don't necessarily have to "send", power up, recharge or post. They are the bottles of wine shared with friends, the moments in the saddle spent belly-laughing, hiking in the back forty and throwing the stick for our dogs. Moments that matter and inspire me to be better and to remain honest, connected by threads of palpable reality.

I can be anything I want to be online. No one ever has to know the reality of me if I choose not to reveal it. That isn't the existence I am after. I am glad for my true connections in the real world, the world where my floor needs swept and my relationships are messy. The world that holds my sassy kids and my grumpy husband, my filthy floor and my unmade bed may be more than you want to see on Facebook, but it is so much nicer than the cold light of my iPad in the dark.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christian: A self portrait

It's an interesting time for Christians today. With Tebow in the news and more and more athletes and celebrities becoming unafraid of the backlash of sharing their faith openly, I watch in amazement as I listen to each individual story. It is a good time. I get excited... Then I cringe.

I cringe because I feel the box tightening in every closer. You know the box... The one you get shoved into if you tell someone what you do for a living, if you tell them you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim. The box you are jammed into if you let them know what neighborhood your home is in. That box. I hate that box. I don't fit into that box, and I know you don't either. That box is what keeps people from their real potential. That box is a killer of dreams and a stifler of creativity.

I am a writer (it's getting easier each time I say it), and if I were told, because of the box I was shoved into, that I could only use certain kinds of words to convey my thoughts, it would be devastating, tragic, frustrating... And I would lose a vast amount of my audience. I am not a curser, necessarily. I believe that using foul language is a cop out. There are so many other ways to manipulate the language to a more pointed end, one that doesn't sound ignorant... I have been dressed down in ways that never used a foul word and it was remarkably effective. But there are those times that I get so damned frustrated with my surroundings that the release of a good old-fashioned gutter-speak f-bomb feels perfect. It's shocking when heard, that crassness, that base iteration. It should be. That is the point, not to make it usual, part of the daily vernacular, same-same and dead to the ear. I cringe and I Flinch when I use it... After all, I am a Christian.

I don't want shoved into your box of Christianity. I don't want to worry about whether you will quit reading me if I drop a less than acceptable adjective. I will do that. I am messy that way. Christians aren't sterile. They aren't perfect and their flaws, if left out in the open, would actually make it so much easier to relate to them. It is the glaring spotlight that washes out the color in their story. The story still remains, but the spotlight, it takes so much away. So much ends up on the cutting room floor, in the recesses of the editors files, unsaid, unshared, unrelated. Tragic.

I am very much a follower of Christ. I love my Lord and I have a very personal relationship with Him. He is real to me. I feel His presence in my life daily and I am witness to His miracles often. I also drink. I drink wine, hard alcohol and sometimes I drink to excess. I say terrible things about my fellow man. I am judgmental, crass, shitty and an all around flawed individual. I am selfish, greedy, hurtful and vengeful. Christ didn't make me perfect, He just promised to pick my butt up when I fall. And folks, I fall a lot!

Don't get me wrong, I know the things I do need work. Frankly, they need flushed out of my life altogether, but seriously? Would you really want to be like me? I sure as hell don't want to be like you! That is precisely the point. You don't want to be like me, or like Tebow, or like whoever is holding the crux of your religious preference in the spotlight. Being Christian is supposed to be centered on being like Christ. Even so, He tells us in the Word, very plainly I might add, that we will fail at it every time. That's why we need Him. Not as an example to follow, although it is an honorable endeavor, but as our Saviour.

The most beautiful thing of all for me? No matter how poorly I behave, no matter what mistakes I make, I will remain a Christian. No one can take it away from me but me, and I'm not giving it up. I am breaking out of the box. I don't want to be your shining example of Christianity. I will leave that to those better equipped for it. I will be your example of leaning on Christ because He is the only answer that makes sense to me. I will be your example of His grace to each and every individual, no matter how broken and misshapen, unloveable and hateful. I will be your example of what not to do and how to say your are sorry. But don't put me in your box. I won't fit, and I won't go willingly anymore.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Losing My Cool

I was never a popular kid in school. I was always the slightly geeky, still looked like she was ten years old, short, stick skinny kid who sat in the front row in class. I was the kid you came to for lab help in Physics. I was the girl who knew all the popular girls and I was even the girl that the guys came to when looking for advice on asking those other girls out ...yeah, ouch!

I didn't come into my cool until I was well out of high school and into my twenties. Let's just say no one from high school ever recognized me after that. It was nice. I could dance (which no one knew because I was rarely asked), I finally "filled out", and my brains were an asset instead of the reason no one ever thought of me that way. It was awesome! I had become cool without even trying really. I was hanging out with the local bands, dancing at the local clubs and generally enjoying my new found popularity outside of the narrow confines of school.

Then I had kids.

No one ever explained to me that having kids instantly kills your cool points by at least half and then incrementally diminishes each year they survive your parenting skills. No one could have explained that those same kids will start out thinking you hung the moon and then, once they turn into teens, be convinced that you are by far the stupidest creature on the face of the earth. It doesn't seem fair.

I am not allowed to dance - ever! Someone might see me and associate me with my two eye rolling, head shaking kids who are walking at least two steps behind me. I cannot even car dance because, as my daughter so lovingly puts it, "those windows are made of glass, duh!"

I have been caught saying all of those completely uncool things like: "Have you done your homework?" "Who was that boy?" "Is this show/website/song really appropriate?" "It is really cold out, take a jacket." Yeah... Not cool at all. But that is ok. I am getting more and more comfortable here in Stupidville. A lot less pressure to meet those Mom-knows-all-the-answers questions.

The things we used to laugh big belly laughs over are now eye-rollers. I am "lame" or "retarded", not hilarious. Hmmm. ok. Yet these are the same kids who will laugh for long minutes over flatulence... go figure!

I admit, I haven't fought the loss of cool recently. I take my kids to the bus stop in my pajamas almost every morning. Yup, with big muck-luck slippers too! As long as I never have to get out of my car, my theory is I may as well be comfy. Sometimes I will compromise and put a hat over my bed-head, but that is about it. The rest is all about comfort!

So here I sit, lost in my Lame-o life, too dumb to be cool any more. I wear a coat in the cold weather, I sing along to the radio and I watch shows like "Parenthood." I'll be putting steaks on the grill later... Wanna come over? Only fellow idiots need reply...

Perception is everything

Ever roll up on a situation that looked really bad? Some lady giving her male partner what for at the top of her lungs... You wonder what on earth he might have done to deserve such a tirade, or maybe you think no one could deserve such a foul degradation right there in public. You certainly would never do such a thing!

The fact is, however, we don't have the whole story. We don't really know what has precipitated the situation, no matter how long we stand there and eavesdrop. It could be as bad as we perceive it, or it might be a just reaction - we simply don't have enough information to make a sound judgement. Now, I am not advocating turning a blind eye to obvious abuse, I just want to make a point here...

No matter how well you might or might not know someone, you aren't in their skin, or in their heads... So making a judgement call on how they are reacting or what they are rumored to have said is never a safe bet, without first trying to ask some questions. So often we take offense to something before we give the offending party a chance to even know we have an issue. I am guilty of that - OFTEN. I am trying to change my perceptions incrementally. Sometimes I am better at it than others.

Looking back on the situation above, would it change your perception of the woman's tirade if you knew that was her husband and she just caught him in the arms of another woman? It would change mine! But how would I ever know that? That right there is my point.

Even in situations where we are connected to the party who has somehow caused us offense, we don't stop for just a moment and give them an opportunity to explain. We have decided we are hurt and that's that. No more chances, judgment has been handed down. How fair is that? Put it this way, if you were the offender, wouldn't you want an opportunity to explain? I know I do!

When someone hurts you, give them an opportunity to make it right. They may not even know you are hurt and they may have no idea it was they that offended you. Most of the time, folks who are in our inner circles of friendship and family don't intentionally set out to cause us harm. Sometimes it is simple ignorance of the situation. Stop, ask a few questions and be honest about how you are feeling in a calm and collected manner. They may have no earthly idea you are offended or why. This is your chance to be the good guy and their chance to understand how not to hurt you again. After all, perception is everything!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Today starts a new day. Seriously. I have just posted notice on my other blogs that I was moving on. I have wanted to do this for some time now and feel finally ready to take the plunge. I am consolidating things and pruning back branches that are weak, dead or simply not producing fruit worthy of the effort. This goes for much of my life.

Sometimes this transition makes me sad. Today I am devoid of much feeling at all. I simply am. I am rejoicing in the things that make me happy, no matter how mundane and simple they may appear to be to others. For that reason, I am doing what is known as a random post. Getting the junk out of my head, onto paper and generally clearing out the cobwebs!

Bear with me as I think on the page:

** Why is it I can know exactly what I want my thank you cards to look like, yet I seem to find anything else in the universe to do besides sit down and make them to write out? I know I will enjoy it as soon as I get started, I just have to get started...

** I feel very blessed to have hit a milestone birthday with some semblance of grace and courtesy. I am struggling with those around me who are hitting the same milestone with less. Not that I am better or more equipped, au contraire! I wonder if I somehow didn't get it... 40 just didn't destroy me. It didn't make me feel invalid, in fact I feel more alive now than I did before! I didn't feel like I needed to tear my world apart at the seams, I was ready to start anew, but not have to rise from ashes. I will continue to pray that God will bless me with that outlook for years to come.

** I have been studying of late about living in the present. That is a concept that is truly very difficult to assimilate into daily habit. Remembering that living in the present is God's link for us to eternity is so out of this world thinking, it's no wonder I haven't gone stark raving mad! But it does make sense. When I think about all the times I have been so overwhelmed that I just let go and did only what was right in front of me, it was so liberating and I felt immediately closer to God. Projecting into the future is the quickest way to set myself up for disappointment and paralyzing fear. Definitely don't have time for that.

** My mom reminded me today of something my Dad says, "It's not good unless it's hard." hmmmmm..... so very true. The things that I want so very badly and the things that I struggle with letting go of all fall under this category. If I want to get really "good" at my writing, it will take hours and miles to make it so. There is no easy solution, no get-good-quick schemes. Just a lot of hard work. And then some more hard work. And after that,some more.....

** My body has rebelled against me once more. My back gave out again yesterday signaling me that I was once again doing too much and probably not the right things. I have spent the last two days telling myself I don't have time to be hurt, but my body has responded by tying up my sciatic nerve and making me want to saw my own legs off. I don't think I have chosen wisely. :/ I read recently that slowing down is the best thing for us all, that others will look at me as if I am lazy, but that it is truly a God-thing... How do you explain that to your spouse or your family or your clients? So much has gone bas-ackwards in our lives, we no longer allow ourselves the luxury of choosing ourselves. The fact that I call that a luxury, well that speaks volumes, doesn't it?

** I hope that my reader list follows me here. It has been a harrowing thought to lose all that I had built up to now... I worry that I have disappointed others by choosing me, but I am also strangely liberated in that thought as well. I have wanted to write for writing sake and now I have given myself permission to do just that. Can I continue on even if no one reads? The fact of the matter is I do this because I can't stand not doing this.... So I guess the answer is yes.

** Still reading the Flinch. Maddening little book! Yes, it is hitting home all too often... And yet, I keep reading. Glutton!

What have you been up to lately? Leave me a comment or catch me on Facebook... I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


She stared intently into her hand. It was there, rolling smoothly amidst the sand granules and the little bit of muscular flesh that had been the oyster. She dropped the flesh into the bowl before her and rinsed her hand careful not to let the pearl drop into the sink to be lost forever.
She believed in signs, little communications that she was on the right path, security in insecure situations. Was this such a sign? It had been so hard lately, and yet this little pearl seemed to be telling her differently. It gleamed up from her wet palm with such clarity. She grasped it between her thumb and forefinger, turning it ever so slightly. She could feel the natural lumpiness of it, though it looked almost perfect.

Pearls were created by foreign objects that penetrated the oyster. It would react in such a way as to secrete a coating, transforming the intruder into something not so irritating and harmful to its soft fleshy existence. The coating that surrounded the offender would build, layer upon layer, until it created something beautiful in its functionality. It was there to protect the creature from harm and yet it became such an object of beauty, sought after by divers all over the world. Pearls of this size and beauty were rare.

She returned the pearl to her palm and rubbed it softly with the kitchen towel she had tucked in the waist band of her shorts. Her life had been like that lately. Irritants, hurts, betrayals - things she wished she could have protected herself from. It was the very reason she was here, alone in this cottage by the sea. She looked out from the quaint thatched porch to catch the last of the sun sinking below the surf.

Setting the pearl on the counter top, she turned to pour herself another glass of wine. She sighed audibly into the empty cottage. She could feel her shoulders relax, returning to their normal setting by her sides instead of posing as poorly positioned earrings. She padded barefoot into the open air living area, slipping the pearl into her shorts pocket as she passed.

It should have been her honeymoon, this trip by the sea. He had seen to that, she snorted derisively. She sank into the soft sofa, worn with years of use and salt sea air. She fished the pearl from her pocket. A wry little smile crept to her lips. He had been her intruder. She had tried to cover him with pearlescent goo, softening his rough edges, making him more palatable and less abrasive. It hadn't worked. In the end, his escapades and dishonesty had caught up to her. She couldn't ignore his callousness any longer. He had been expelled with a violence and energy she hadn't thought she had. Taking a long draught on her wine, she hoped he was still explaining the black eye.

She rolled the pearl along the wooden arm of the couch. She had learned many lessons at his hand. She had learned about herself. She wasn't the simp she always imagined herself to be. She was strong. She deserved better. If she hadn't had him in her life, would she have known that? Would she have realized he wasn't what she wanted? Doubtful, she thought, taking another sip from the glass. Life was like that... It took the bad to realize how great the good was. It takes the irritants to relish the easy.

Days later, as she boarded her flight back to reality, her hand went instinctively to her throat. It was still there. She smiled at her cleverness.

That night, after finding the pearl and the better part of a bottle of wine, she had walked out to the surf's edge. The moon was large and bright, lighting the surface of the water as it rolled in and out, bubbling around her ankles. The ring in her hand was worth some change. She had taken it off weeks ago, but hadn't found the courage to let it go. She would find a dealer, she'd reasoned, sell it and put the money away. Now, in the warm darkness, surf tickling at her feet, she spun it aimlessly on the tip of her index finger. The pearl was in her pocket and it whispered to her quietly. With a peace she hadn't felt in months, she chucked that diamond far away. She could hear the soft ker-plunk as it hit somewhere in front of her, dropping into the ocean with finality. There would be no more tears over it, she laughed softly as her hand found the pearl once more sitting warm against her body. It was cathartic to say the least and that night she slept better than she had in a long time.

She had the pearl drilled and strung on a tiny gold chain. The lone souvenir from her trip, it hung around her neck, resting snugly in the tanned divot of her collar bones. It would remind her. Without the abrasiveness of the intrusion the pearl would never have existed. There had to be sacrifice and hurt. Ultimately, beauty created is forged from pain. She would touch that pearl and know who she was, know she was strong, know she was capable. She would change the hurt into something beautiful. She didn't know what it would ultimately be as yet, the coating was still young and formless. But she knew, like the pearl, it would continue to grow and turn. It would be gorgeous someday, unrecognizable.

Written content Copyright: S.A. Brown

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Risky business

Out on a limb, courage, taking chances, stepping out, being brave... So many ways to say it. It can be either good or bad, and sometimes both all at once. That pushing everything you know about the impossibility and unattainability of  your dreams and desires aside and doing it anyway.

Nike was a mastermind advertising genius when they came up with "Just Do It." I know they had the athlete in mind when they started that kind of ploy, but it applies to so much more than that. We all have responsibilities and duties that have to be done, but we also spend alot of time ignoring the things we wish upon or love, but don't make time for...  Aren't you tired of that? I am!  I don't want to be the person on my death bed that says, "I wish I had..." I want to be the person who says, "I'm glad I did..." Don't we all?

Ok, ok... I know, sounds very oversimplified and naive, right? Exactly! Of course it does! But that would be the whole point, wouldn't it? Now, please believe me when I say that I am not advocating throwing your entire life to the four winds and traipsing off into the forest to live off the land... But how about some balance? How about we allow ourselves a little of that pursuit of happiness we hear so much about? 

What happens to us in our lives builds us, molds us and makes us who we are. Some of that is awesome. Some of it is heartbreaking. We lose the ability to see past our current circumstances, we lose our faith in dreams, and in short - we lose. We start focusing on all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

We tell ourselves we will work at this job to pay the bills until... We will stay with this person until... We will live in this particular place until... Until what? Until it becomes a habit we cannot break? Until we are so engrossed and ensconced we become too complacent and lazy to break free from what is expected to what fulfills us? Or maybe, just maybe, we escape from expected and risk a little of our safety for what may bring us indescribable joy, fulfillment and purpose.

I've been reading a book - well, sorta reading a book. It is called "The Flinch" and it is free on Amazon. It is hard to read. Not because of its verbiage, but because of its message. It is about our reaction to pain. As kids we all seemed rather fearless. As adults we move into safe zones and we seldom veer from our cozy corridors of life: wake up, coffee, work, home, tv, bed, do it all again. The change is slow and incremental. We seldom see how we morph from the fearless kids we were to the corridor walking zombies we become. This book challenges that. It tells us that doing life safely is fine, but it will never be excellent. Want to live? Don't flinch, DO! I read a little at a time, because this book is calling me out. I don't like that - I don't expect many of us do. This book makes me angry. Angry at myself for how much truth it holds, angry at the resistance I feel when I try to change it, angry because the buck stops with me. I am the only one who can change my flinchy behavior. Sometimes I feel like a Turrets patient and that pisses me off! The good news is, I see it now.

I am recognizing my Flinches more each day. That is maddening on certain levels, but it is the first step in waking up and facing the fears head on. The next steps come easier each day as well. Like facing a cold shower, I know that it will hurt until I get used to the cold. I know there will be discomfort. I also know there will be an invigorating response and my adrenaline will kick in to spur me on. Yes, I might leave some endeavors with scars. Even the things I know I am called to do may cause me pain. So be it. Until I start living the life I have been meaning to live I will never know the joy of it either, and there is bound to be joy!

What are you missing because of your flinch? Where has your path diverted from one of joy to one of habit? How will you respond to it now? Or are you waiting until...

Monday, January 2, 2012


His hair hung over his brow line, sweeping softly in waves just above his blue eyes a little grey today against the light colored shirt he wore. He was intent on his reading and didn't see her from where she stood.

She startled as he shifted in his seat, adjusting to better accommodate the light. She could ill afford him catching her again. She blew the steam across her coffee cup and sipped quietly. Taking her eyes off of him seemed impossible, yet she knew the more she stared the more likely he was to catch her. That feeling of being watched is a powerful one she knew from first hand experience. Many times he'd awakened her by simply standing at her bedside... It never failed to amaze her how he could simply stand there, not wanting to startle her, remaining silent and yet willing her to open her eyes. He had a power over her, whether he was aware of it or not.

So much of their time together has been like this. Her standing back, watching as he worked the room. He is confident, striding forth with smiles and talking even when he was very much out of his league. He was never at a loss for words and could engage perfect strangers with his banter. He was brave. She admired his bravery and yet there was a part of him that she felt needed to be sheltered. He didn't want her to keep that role of hers alive any more... He had made that plain. She just couldn't help it, he was such a part of her.

The distance that had grown between them was a chasm of painful separations, incremental and yet definitive. It hadn't always been this way, her standing afar peeking at him like a stalker in disguise. He had craved her company, even sought it out. She had been the one and only woman in his life for so many years, it was no wonder she couldn't just let it go. She couldn't simply walk away from him, it was an impossible situation.

Her coffee was almost gone now and he was shifting in his seat once more. He stretched his arms above his head, lacing fingers together and yawning widely. He closed those brilliantly beautiful eyes tight against the strain of his muscles. She watched as those hands, hands that once sought hers out in comfort and undying devotion, closed the book in his lap. He was searching the room and she knew she was in trouble.

Their eyes locked for a moment. She turned to pour another cup of coffee, hoping desperately that he hadn't seen her watching. It would be hard to explain her stare... She felt him before he said anything. He was directly behind her...

"Morning, Mom," his voice was deeper now. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and clasped his hands together with strength that still startled her. Gone were the hands of his youth, chubby with baby-ness and slightly sticky. They had been replaced with the hands of a burgeoning young man. Her heart almost burst with the pain of it as she bent her head and kissed them with a pat. 

Her little boy was gone and in his place stood the man he would soon become. It was a terrible thing to behold and one that none could have prepared her for. When children become less of who we are and more of who God means them to be it is overwhelming and painful. She knew he would leave her all too soon for the conquest of worlds outside her sheltered enclave. He was already straining at the tethers.

"Good Morning, son..." And he was gone, off to pursue his day. She shook off the tears that threatened to flow. It was time to get on with it....

Hopefully you enjoyed that. These are some of the things that I plan on entertaining here... Stretching my writing, showing some different venues and still talking about God's influence in my life. I want to share perspectives on rural living, write about what touches me, and hone my skills as both an inspirational non-fiction writer as well as delve into some fictional stories. I hope you will join me here and share things you find entertaining with others you love. 

Have a wonderful day and God bless!


Sunday, January 1, 2012


I have this plant. It is called a Kalanchoe and it is popular around this time of year. You can find them abundantly before the Christmas holidays, much like Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus. They are popular because they are a succulent and hard to kill. Their thick leaves and sturdy stalks give them a hardiness that is difficult to best for those of us who struggle to keep house plants alive, much less thriving. In that respect, I love the Kalanchoe.

It is its hardiness, however, that can also make it the most awkward and unsightly plant known to man. It will branch out tenaciously to reach whatever sunlight needs it has. It will forgo the lovely bushiness it started with and drop leaves at an alarming rate to meet its needs for moisture. In short, it can become a gangly mess, as seen here:

I recently tried to kill cut back my Kalanchoe... I pruned it back "aggressively" with the very real possibility that I might just kill the darned thing. It is hard to find any kind of firm advice on how to prune, care for and make happy this little plant, and so I guessed. I figured it will either come back with new leaves and flourish or the sad little plant, now just stalks without leaves, will wither and die. I was ready for either because I was sick of seeing the strung out naked stalks with their sad leaves adorning the ends. The plant would put out flower shoots, but they too looked sad and forlorn in such desolate surroundings.

Recently, while dutifully watering the naked sticks in their little pot, I was reminded of my own sad state of affairs. I reviled this little plant because it was all strung out there, bearing flowers that reminded me that once upon a time it was much more pleasing to the eye. Back when it wasn't so strung out and searching it had a pleasing look. It was fuller, easier to enjoy and the flowers didn't look out of place. I likened this succulent to my own life and didn't like what I was seeing.

Lately, things have gotten strung out. I have too many items I am trying to upkeep, stretching my life, my patience and my resources ever thinner. The leaves of abundance and health have fallen away. I am left with the strung out stalks of too much to do and never enough time to get it all done. I don't seem to be failing at any of my tasks, but I am not flourishing at any of them either. I am a slightly balder, unsightly, more frazzled image of my truer self. I produce fruit, but it seems a bit out of place - a flowering stalk amidst what seemed a dead enterprise.

It is time for a deep pruning of myself.

I don't relish this part of life for many obvious reasons. I know it must be done. There will be parts of me that will be pruned away, parts that will not revive. I mourn that process. I like my life as it is, I really do... Or do I? Is it simply fear that keeps me doing the same things over and over? Is it the old adage, "Better the Devil you know, than the one you don't?" Will I shy away from the pruning of myself in order to stave off the fear of being exactly who God created me to be? I hope not... I better not!

I am pruning back some things in my life. I will streamline my blogging so that it is a manageable thing, not something I dread and have a hard time up-keeping. I want my writing to get back to a joyful process, one that grows me, feeds me and produces the fruit that I was always meant to put forth. This means that I have to say Good-Bye to some things I have grown accustomed to. I may disappoint some folks. I may lose some readers. Hopefully, I will gain some others.

I will prune back the busyness of my life to allow time for those things that God is demanding I pay attention to. I have been putting off the "real writing" because the studio is not up and running as I would have it be. That is an excuse. It is a place for me to hide from the possibility that I might fail - or even that I might succeed. I will get up earlier, stay up later, do whatever it takes to make my writing come first. I have hidden this talent under a basket too long, and I will set it upon a lamp stand starting now.

I am not one for resolutions. I think they give me too much time to think and an excuse not to do... Some make great strides with their resolutions. I applaud them. I don't. So, as a fellow writer and blogger has advised, I will simply start with resolve. I will cultivate my resolve into a more fruitful and pleasing result by pruning back the things that are getting in my way.

It's a little comical... I am sitting in my studio now, 33 degree weather blowing a wind-chilled 18 degree feel outside. I am huddled up with an infrared heater at my icy feet (my knees are warm, as is most of the rest of me), but I am here. The tools to finish the job surround me still, the smell of lumber behind my chair is still somewhat comforting. The 200 feet of electrical cord strung over the snow makes me smirk a little. I got blankets from some special friends during the Christmas holiday to do exactly what I am doing right now - Sit out here in my happiest of places and start creating the life I was meant to have all along.

I am inspired to become the pruned instrument, streamlined and ready for battle. A battle largely of my own making, but still... I know I am my worst enemy when it comes to scheduling too much and saying yes too often. But there is always room for resolve - resolve and some pruning.

Look! I think I see some new growth on the way...