Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where I Choose to Focus

For our Real TalkTuesday prompt today we are talking about imperfection. In the beginning of her post Marvia asks two questions: "What truth of imperfection is rising up in you?" and "What have you learned about being imperfect?"

I know that I am imperfect. All of us are imperfect. We live in an imperfect world.  Those of us who know God have a very real and certain hope that we will one day be made perfect, but this does not mean that we just sit around wishing the imperfections would all go away. I believe God uses even our imperfections to teach us things, to help us grow as He works with us changing us from the inside out. We were meant to interact with other people. Imperfect we may be, but we do have something to offer others. 


Last week I looked around at the imperfections in my house and yard. We have stuff which causes areas to look cluttered. Our windows are dirty. Our yard is overgrown in many areas, and it will take some time to get it all taken care of. Now I could choose to keep people away from my home until everything looks nice, but I learned a long time ago that if I tried to make my home perfect I would never have people over. There was an opportunity coming to meet some ladies I call story sisters. 

So this past weekend, instead of focusing on the imperfections I chose to focus on a couple of areas where I thought we would spend most of our time. I did a few simple things to make them homey and inviting. The dining room table I decorated with tiny pumpkins and a candle that gave off the aroma of pumpkin bread. Outside on one side of the front porch I have a picnic table, so I hung some colorful pansies in planters right next to the table. 



Saturday my daughter, Jamie, and her family came to visit us with plans to stay for a week. On Sunday, she and I welcomed special friends Jennifer Upton and Abby Norman for a visit. Jamie has spent time with them before, but I have only had contact with them online. When you have never met someone in person, you could begin to feel a little nervous, but that did not happen with those two. Because of our interactions online I felt that they were already like family. I could sense that we were "kindred spirits" to borrow the phrase from Anne of Green Gables. 

When they got out of the car, Jennifer was the first one I hugged and I remember her saying, "Are you real?" Then I echoed the same question. We have had a lot of interaction online but have never met in person. It was really special to finally get to meet.  Then I went over to hug Abby and I asked her the same question. I was so thrilled that they could come and we could finally meet that I almost cried. 


We had a delightful time getting to know each other better. Our age difference didn't seem to matter. We talked about various things, laughing together, walking together, eating yummy food together, and celebrating our sisterhood. There were still imperfections all around us, but I don't think any of them will come to mind when we think about that day. What we will remember are the hugs, the laughter, the apple pie, and the special bond that we made a little stronger that day, and we will look forward to spending more time together in the future.

What if I had worried about the imperfections? What if I was afraid I would be too embarrassed or they would think less of me?  Think of what I would have missed out on!  What about you? Have you let fear and imperfections keep you from doing something you really wanted to do? 

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Bicycle Incident

This is my day for sharing snippets of memoir. Because I have family visiting this week I don't have much time so I am going to share a poem I wrote a few months ago telling about an incident that happened to me when I was in the fifth grade.  Please feel free to share a memory in the comments or on your own blog and link up using the button at the bottom of this post.

We were in fifth grade.
My friend sent him a note
asking if he liked me
He wrote back and said,
"Yes, in fact I love her."
I didn't care for him.

(my 5th grade school picture)
I was riding my bike one day
heading for a piano lesson.
I had to pass his house.
He called to me.
I didn't stop but
continued on my way.

He jumped on his bike.
I rode fast, very fast.
He rode faster.
He caught up to me,
reached out his hand and said,
"I've wanted to do this for a long time."

Then he pushed me.
I felt myself falling.
I hit the pavement hard.
I was out for a time,
then somehow stood up
putting my bike upright.

Then I found myself
ringing the doorbell
at my teacher's house.
I was a little unsteady,
and my skin somewhat bloody
from scrapes on my face and knees.

My teacher was shocked,
said to lie on the couch,
and proceeded to call my parents.
"But," I said,
"I might get blood on it."
"Oh, don't you worry about that."

She cleansed my wounds,
and comforted me
until my parents arrived.
They asked questions like
"How did you get here?"
I could not remember.

I kept asking about my bike.
They said it was okay.
I insisted on knowing.
When I saw the crooked handlebars,
it all came back to me,
how difficult it was to ride.

My parents took me by the house
of that naughty little boy
to show his mother what he did.
His mother called him in.
He saw me bandaged up.
She just sent him to his room...


Friday, September 26, 2014

Because...

It's Five Minute Friday time again. A bunch of us write for five minutes on the given topic without worrying about editing or getting it just right. Then we always make sure to comment on the one who linked up just before us. Today's word is "because." To learn more about how it works you can go HERE. It's fun to try and to see what others come up with. We'd love to have you join!

GO:

“Why do you play with that toy?'

“Because.”

“Because why?”

“I don't know, just because.”

And so it could go on and on. I don't remember any specific people saying those words, but I remember hearing words similar quite often as a child listening to others and maybe even I did the same thing.

Now it seems very nonsensical. Because used all alone is not really an answer. It doesn't really mean anything.

Maybe sometimes we don't know the real reason we do some things. In this case because could be a hard word, because we just can't explain it.

Other times we know without a doubt why we do things and we can answer with a definite because, and give the reason.

Because my daughters have children, I am now a grandmother. Because my mother gave birth to me, I am a daughter myself. Because I married my husband, I am a wife.

Because God loved me, I am a child of His.

STOP

(I have a little confession to make. I did do a little editing because in one place I spelled because like this: becuase. LOL  It's just the editor in me. I can't stand to see a word spelled wrong in my writing.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Light From Where?


(evening sky looking southeast from our porch)

Jamie's prompt for Poetry Thursday is to ask yourself a question using Who, What, When, Where, Why, How or use all six.  Stephen and I were sitting at the picnic table on the porch looking at the sky this evening and began to wonder, as we have in the past, why the sky looks so bright in the east at sundown.

I had just been telling him about Jamie's prompt, and that I wasn't sure what to do. So he said, "Well, there's your question."  We talked about it more and he and I collaborated to write the following poem.


If the sun sets in the west 

why is the sky in the east 

brighter than the sky above us?


Is it because the sun rays

bounce off the earth and 

fade as they travel skyward?


Is there a light coming 

from below or is there 

something above shading it?


Whatever the cause be it

direct light or reflection

the effect is beautiful


With blue skies above

pink shadowy clouds 

dark outlines below


We pause to reflect

gazing in wonder at

the handiwork of God.


Now it's your turn. Come join us and make a poem of your own. Check out all the details and read Jamie's poem HERE.

My Not so Peaceful Morning

This morning started out peacefully enough. I woke up, checked emails, then went back to sleep for a little while. I felt pretty well rested when I finally did get up around 9:30. I know, that's pretty late but I've had some late nights recently and really needed the extra rest.

I warmed up some pancakes for breakfast, fixed some coffee and sat down to peruse facebook while I ate my breakfast. Then I ordered some birthday presents and decided it was time to get out to the goats to feed them and give them their last dose of penicillin.

That's when things went sour.

Usually I have no trouble because the two goats are pretty cooperative. I don't milk them any more, but bring them into the milking room, get them on the stand, and lock them in to give them their shots. This time Rayna did not want to get up there and did her best to stay off. I convinced her by showing her the food, and she jumped up.

(Ava and Rayna)
She had put her head so far forward in the stand that I couldn't get a good hold on the place to give the shot and ended up squirting it on her rather than in her. Then she wouldn't get off the stand or go back into the barn. I had to grab her collar and make her go back in. After that I didn't even try to get Ava on the stand. I just put their food in the feeder and got ready to give Ava her shot while she was eating. Arben, the very large dog, kept getting in the way bumping me and sniffing the syringe. I was just getting more frustrated so I yelled out, “I'm getting mad in here!” Finally I was able to give her the shot without any more trouble from her or Arben. I'm sure the whole thing would have been quite comical for anyone looking on.


I was glad that was over but I was still pretty frustrated and not very calm. As I was putting the plastic cap back on the needle before throwing it away I pricked my thumb. It didn't really hurt and didn't even bleed much, but that was just the proverbial straw to break the camel's back. I burst into the house and let everyone know that I was just tired of all this. I wanted the goats gone. I was not going to even try to give Rayna another shot to make up for the one that missed. I kept complaining as I washed my thumb and hoped there was not a trace of bacteria that would infect me. I knew I was over-reacting and I just felt tense and shaky. I had plans of things I wanted to do today and that episode just squashed my enthusiasm.

So I had some choices.

I could just keep being mad and feeling sorry for myself and make everybody around me miserable or I could try to change my attitude and not let that one thing destroy my whole day. My husband and one of my sons were the only ones around at the time and I apologized for my display of anger. Of course they were generous and kind to me and very understanding.

I went to my room, sat at the computer and lit my lavender candle, hoping it would help me relax and get a better perspective on things. Noticing that one of my daughters was online I began telling her about the episode and how frustrated I was. She joked about how those goats really were like having kids, and I agreed, but kids are much more lovable and can put their little arms around your neck and are so forgiving with all our mothering mistakes.


I am sharing all this with you to let you know that we all have our moments when things frustrate us enough to make us lose our tempers, put us in bad moods, make us want to go crawl into a hole or run away. I am not immune to these kinds of responses, but I do know that when they happen I don't have to dwell on them. I don't have to beat myself up because of my bad responses or reactions.

One of the hardest things I think is to forgive ourselves. We'd prefer sometimes to keep harping on how we messed up and how our day is ruined. We say that we believe God forgives us, but we continue to feel guilt or to feel sorry for ourselves and wonder what's the use of trying. It doesn't have to be that way.

We can offer ourselves grace, admit when we mess up, and start afresh right where we are.

That's what I want to do today. After spending time here writing and thinking and chatting with my daughter I feel much better. I am ready to tackle my plans, the first of which is to make some apple pies! What are your plans for the day?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Windy Days


Yesterday was a very windy day where I live and today is starting out the same. I love those kinds of days! I love to feel the wind blowing across my face, hear it rustling through the leaves on the many trees surrounding us. I made sure to get outside for awhile to sit and contemplate and write.

Armed with my cup of roibos tea, my journal and a pen I found a nice sunny place on the hillside to sit and write. The next thing I knew I wasn't in the sun anymore, so I moved to a sunny place a little farther down the hill. I began writing again and was inspired to write this poem:



While I was writing, not paying attention, the sun left me again. I don't know how long I was outside, but I knew it was time to go in and make supper. What about you? Are you inspired by the wind or by rain or by the sunshine? Do you take time to rest and enjoy the beauty of creation?  It is really restful even if you only take a few moments to stop the busyness and be still, listen, observe, pray, meditate or whatever helps you to focus. Enjoy some quiet "you" time today. I'd love to hear what you do to take breaks during the day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stillness is Beautiful

The #wholemama theme for the Dec. 8, 2015 linkup is the the word still. I'm pulling this piece out of the archives to share with you today.  I pray that God will give us grace for the times of stillness, that we may find Him during times of peace and times of distress.

(photography by Gayl Wright)


Stillness
Is beautiful
Time for quietness
Peace, rest
Relaxation

Stillness
Is hard
Much too quiet
Sorrow, loneliness
Discord

Stillness
Is beautiful
Time for reflection
Hope, Joy
Wonder

Stillness
Is hard
Much soul searching
Layers peeling
Questions

Stillness
Is beautiful
Look to God
Be grateful
Love 


May you all find times of stillness today to quiet your hearts as you focus on God and look to Him for grace and peace. May He give you strength and a sense of His presence for whatever you have to face today in your life.

I'm linking up with:


Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Wedding Weekend

In a recent online Write-In led by my friend, Abby Norman, she asked us to write about a memory using the words I do remember.../ I don't remember...   Since the 40th anniversary of my marriage was coming up I decided to write about our wedding weekend.

I do remember my maid of honor wanted to spend the night on the eve of the wedding.
I don't remember what we had for dinner that night.


I do remember that she liked to play tricks so I had already put my suitcase in Steve's car.
I don't remember what she and I did that evening except probably talk all night.


I do remember getting married in my parent's house.
I don't remember what kind of flowers we had for decorations.


I do remember seeing my aunt looking forlorn in the living room so I motioned for her to come and I hugged her. She told me that I looked so pretty.
I don't remember what she was wearing.


I do remember that as a recessional we had “God of Our Fathers” which included the trumpet introduction instead of the normal wedding recessional.
I don't  remember what other music we used.


I do remember running to the getaway car while people threw rice.
I don't remember who all was there.



I do remember Steve's brother driving the getaway car to take us to ours.
I don't remember the route we took.

I do remember two friends getting into a car to follow us.
I don't remember who one of them was.

(Steve had just bought the car from his brother-in-law)
I do remember that Steve hid the car beside a footbridge over a highway not far away.
I don't remember the name of the street.

I do remember stopping on the opposite side of the road so we could hop out, run across the footbridge and get into our car making it impossible for anyone to follow us.
I don't remember actually getting to the car, but I know we did.

(Actually a mirror image. We took a picture of ourselves!)
I do remember driving to Cypress Gardens, Florida.
I don't remember the name of the motel.

I do remember a water main broke and the motel had no water that first night.
I don't remember what we ate in the restaurant there.

(my parents and brothers) 
(both sets of parents)

Welcome back to Memoir Monday! When I was doing the 40 Days of Blogging I started making Monday the day I would share snippets of memoir, but things happened and I have not kept up. I am going to try again. This time I am making  it a link up where you can share your memories, too.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wonderful Grace

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately. Where would we be without the grace of God? Where would we be without the grace He gives us to enable us to reach out to others when there is hurt? We talk about grace a lot in the church and rightly so, but how often do we really think about what that means, how it plays out in our lives? 

Those of us who call ourselves Christians have been shown so much grace and yet we don't always show that same grace to others. I know, it's hard and we need God's strength and grace in us to be able to extend that grace to our fellow human beings. It's good sometimes to stop and think hard about this wonderful grace that has been shown to us. We need to be still and let that grace flow over us, fill us with gratitude, hope and love, and then pass it on to those who come across our paths from the ones we see every day to the ones we pass on the street.

(photography by Gayl Wright)
One of my favorite hymns from growing up in church is “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.” Not only do the words give encouragement about the grace of Jesus, the tune is such a happy one and always lifts my spirits. I always enjoyed playing it on the piano and hearing the congregation sing. It was written by Haldor Lellenas in 1918. I want to share the first verse and refrain with you. If you get a chance, go look it up, or better yet find the music and sing along.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame
Oh magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

(photography by Gayl Wright)

Another song that has been on my mind lately is “Beyond the Sky” by Fernando Ortega. Its tune, along with Fernando's voice is very soothing. It reminds us that one day our tears will end because God Himself will wipe them away. There have been some real hurts in our lives, some very recent and I think that is why these words have been on my mind. I hope they are also soothing to you. HERE is a YouTube version if you'd like to hear it. I'm including the words below.

Beyond the Sky (by Fernando Ortega)
One morning
When time is done
Bright heaven
Will be our refuge
The city of God Most High

I long for
That holy day
This longing
Sometimes it captures my heart
And carries me far away

Beyond the sky
Beyond all telling
Our Father Himself will be our light
His arms will hold us
And with His hand
He'll wipe away the tears
That stain our eyes

When darkness
Falls over me
This promise
It's like a fire inside
Burning the dark away

Beyond the sky
Beyond all telling
Our Father Himself will be our light
His arms will hold us
And with His hand
He'll wipe away the tears
That stain our eyes

(photography by Gayl Wright)
I hope you are blessed by reading and/or hearing these songs. You can also find more encouragement by visitng Lisha Epperson's blog where she is hosting #GiveMeGrace, a weekly link up on Sundays. There are many others who write and share about grace in their lives.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Holding Hands

It's time for Five Minute Friday again and the prompt is the word hold. Won't you join us?

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" is one of the earliest songs I remember hearing from The Beatles. I was probably around 11 years old at the time.

I think of all the hands I have held through the years - my parents when I was small, my friends as we took walks, and my husband.

There is a funny story about my husband and I before we were married. We were walking along holding hands as we left the store heading towards the car. This fairly young man came walking up to us moving his hand in a sort of chopping motion saying, “Separate! Separate!” He had a different accent. I'm not sure what it was.

We just looked at him, indicated that we would not separate and just kept walking. It was a very interesting experience.

I am also reminded of holding my children's hands when they were young. Now I have the privilege of holding the hands of my sweet grandchildren.

I found a you tube version of The Beatles singing that song in case you are interested. You can find it HERE.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grateful for What?

Once again I am joining up with Jamie Bagley for her Poetry Prompt Thursday. This time it's about unusual gratitude. We'd love to have anyone join us. It's fun even if you don't consider yourself a poet. She gives lots of helps to get you started so your poem practically writes itself!


I am grateful for J-Rock music in the kitchen
even when it gets a bit loud, because it
means my boys are doing dishes.

I am grateful for overgrown weeds in my yard,
because they showed me beautiful flowers
I never knew were there.

I am grateful for having to give my goats shots
of penicillin despite my fear of doing it wrong,
because it showed me that I am capable.

I am grateful for the chaos on my desk,
because it shows that I have a place
to create art and found poetry.

I am grateful for tears that come
when someone I love is hurt,
because it shows that I care.

I am grateful for unwelcome changes,
because often they are just what I need
to spur me on to better things.

I am grateful most of all that God allows these things because He knows what is best for me. He doesn't just leave me on my own but is there all the time. He is faithful and I can go to Him in prayer for anything that is on my heart. 

(photo by Gayl Wright)
Here's the link to Jamie's blog again in case you want to join in.  http://www.jamiewrightbagley.com/blog/2014/9/18/unusual-gratitude-poetry-prompt

Monday, September 15, 2014

From Dissonance to Beauty



This week for Real Talk with Marvia Davidson the word we are thinking about is dissonance. She wanted us to think about how we handle dissonance in our lives in whatever form it takes. When I looked up the word dissonance I found that it could refer to sounds that are disagreeable or conflicts between people in opinions or actions or even character.  Some synonyms would be noise or racket.




I decided to do something different this time and use a couple of art journal pages to help illustrate the ways I handle dissonance. The first one shows that I'm a child of God, that He is working in my life.

I chose a dark background and painted the words on in a way that isn't really very neat, but it shows that life is not always easy. God may be working, but there may be messiness involved. I chose to use red to make splotches all around to show that in making us holy there was great sacrifice on the part of God. So even when things are hard and I am unsure of the outcome I choose to believe that God is still at work. He will make things right.




Another thing I like to do when I feel dissonance is to create collages out of pictures I have cut from magazines, and sometimes I just take time to look over pages I have done in the past. When I look over the pictures I am reminded of the beauty in this world that God has created.




Another thing that really helps me deal with the stress and overwhelming feelings is to just drop everything and go outside if even for a few minutes. There is something very calming about breathing in the fresh air and looking for beauty in the ordinary places. It calms me to walk around, clear my mind of all the noise and maybe even take some pictures.


I had to do that this morning because of all the things rolling around in my brain causing such dissonance. I took several pictures but this green plant with the gold speckles and the sun shining on it reminded me of hope. We may not always see the light but it is there all the time.




What about you? What do you do when you are facing dissonance in your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you'd like to join in we'd love to have you at Marvia's place.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

God's Grace is Unmeasurable


I want to talk about the grace of God which He so freely showers upon us. Because of His great love and mercy God  looked down on mankind and had compassion. His grace is widespread and bountiful. He not only provided a way for us to come to Him but has also promised to be with us always and to give us strength and grace for every need.


I know sometimes it seems we are left on our own, especially when hard things happen to us or to those we love. It might be difficult to trust God during those times, because we are looking at our circumstances and feeling lost and alone. It can often be hard to believe that He will give us what we need at the right time, but He will. He has been so faithful through the years to meet me when I am struggling.


(photo by Gayl Wright)

In the last couple of months and into this past week there have been hard things to deal with in my life and in the lives of some family members. A son who has a physical limitation has been struggling more; a daughter along with her husband had to make some hard decisions that affected their family; I received a hurtful email from someone I thought was my friend, and another daughter had to make a very hard decision because of recent unexpected and heartbreaking events.

These are very real struggles. It is easy to get discouraged and lose faith in people you trusted but have seemingly turned on you or betrayed your trust.

We need God's grace to help us and to guide us so that we do not react or respond in an unkind way.

We need grace for understanding and for healing. We need to look to God, because He always loves us.


He is always faithful. He can always be trusted. People will fail us. We will fail people, but God NEVER fails.


(photo by Gayl Wright)

This has been a difficult few days not just for me but for many. I think of all the messiness of this world, all the hatred, all the distrust, all the recent events that just make our hearts break; the disagreements among those of us who love and trust God, and my mind is drawn to a hymn we sang when I was growing up. I have copied the words here as the song is Public Domain. Read them and drink in the truth of them. Let them soothe your parched soul and pour healing balm on your wounds.


He Giveth More Grace 
(by Annie Johnson Flint)

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth his mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

(photo by Gayl Wright)

I want to encourage each one of us to reach out to God to receive that grace He is offering, to know that He will be true to His word and will lavish His grace upon us all enabling us to move ahead and follow where He leads. I would love to hear from you especially if you have been encouraged by these words or if you have anything to add or share.

I am linking up with Lisha Epperson's weekly #Give Me Grace gathering. If you get a chance visit there to read some inspiring posts.




Here is a You Tube version of the song:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_73Q6dVq_0g      

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finding My Voice

At a Write In on a Thursday evening in an online group, we were given a couple of prompts. One was to share how you found your voice. The other was a quote about silences that were unnatural. I wrote practically the same thing for each one using many words going into details from childhood until now. 

Elora Ramirez, who led the write in challenged me to come up with a poem from what I was processing as I wrote. I took the challenge and wrote it as a dialogue between me and my voice.

(photo by Gayl Wright)

Why, hello Voice.
Where did you come from?
You've been trapped?
For how long?

Oh, years and years.
But surely you're wrong!
You've been here.
I've used you.

Oh, yes, that's true,
But only sometimes,
When you spoke
Without fear.

I used to be
with you all the time.
You spoke much
As a child.

But then things changed.
You were insecure.
You had fear.
They might laugh.

But I did speak!
I hurt some people
with my words.
You were gone.

I was there when
you prayed with others,
when you taught
your children.

You left again
when we were churchless.
I was there
But unheard.

You needed me,
But you did not know.
I was trapped
Deep inside.

**She came to you
Asking you to write
A story
From God's Word.

To write as if
You were living then.
Be a part.
Empathize.

Yes, yes, that's right.
I remember now.
I did it.
She liked it!

You took a class,
Joined a writing group,
Wrote poetry,
Launched your blog.

You have found me.
You took some chances.
You wrote words.
Your voice counts.

Yes, I found you,
My very own voice.
No more chains.
You are free.


**That story can be found HERE.