This year my husband and I decided to try a having a garden. We have had a garden in the past, but it didn’t end well. The reason for that, we live on twelve acres in what used to be a farm field. No trees. We have no wind breaks when the wind comes from the west. Wind can be pretty fierce here in rural Ohio. Whenever I know a storm is brewing, I go around our property and batten down the hatches, so to speak. If I don’t do this, a bunch of our stuff is down in the llama field. Anyway, wind has ruined gardens of the past, flattening new plants. This year we tried the garden in a different place, and it has done much better. One of the garden all-stars is the cucumber! I have never seen so many cucumbers! We decided we were going to pickle our cucumbers (we still have plenty to munch with some ranch dressing, or enough to chop up for salads, believe me) and this afternoon will be the day. I have a suspicion that I am going to be smelling like brine, and pickle spices.
We also have so much, oh so much, yellow squash and zucchini. I have tried so many squash and zucchini recipes! Those of you that are in the know, can I just chop these up, put in freezer bags, stack them in the freezer, and call it a day?
I realize it is only mid-August. I know we are still in the heat of summer. On really humid days, when I am melting into a puddle of sweat, it can still seem like the seventh circle of Hell.
I remind myself that in only a little over a month it will be FALL. Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love candles and cozy. Sweaters and pumpkin spice. Leaves and a chill in the air. The home decor YouTube bloggers are already starting their “Fall Hauls” after shopping at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Target. I expect the Fall home tours to be beginning shortly. Pinterest is exploding with Autumn bucket lists, and how to make your home cozy. Y’all, I live for this stuff.
The other day I bought two new Fall colored blankets, orange and yellow. They will look so warm and cozy on our brown leather furniture. I also bought an Autumn leaf wreath. I am not sure where I will put the wreath, but I am confident I will figure out the perfect spot.
“For cryin’ out loud”, you are probably thinking. This woman is crazy. She is obviously suffering from heat stroke. She thinks it is October. Someone, quick! Throw her in the pool. Give her an iced tea to sip. Snap out of it!
I admit, I have Fall fever. I am counting down the days until September when I can decorate for Autumn and people won’t think I have a problem.
I am going to talk about a subject today that will bother some, maybe even make some angry. That is okay. I am going to talk about it anyway. For the last decade I have been talking about human trafficking and sex trafficking. I have had people ask me why I am so passionate about this topic. Believe me when I say, I didn’t choose this fight. It chose me. This particular topic is vile, ugly, and cruel. Children as young as newborns are beaten and sodomized for the sick pleasure of the most evil among us….and make no mistake they ARE among us.
The mother was known as the town “whore”. She was a full fledged alcoholic. I don’t know when it became okay in this woman’s mind to give her 11 year old daughter to her numerous “boyfriends” and in return have them pay her in alcohol. Her young daughter’s innocence was equal to a bottle of Jim Beam. The person in this world that was supposed to love her and protect her more than anyone, sold her for liquor.
The nine year old boy was sexually abused by his grandfather, who was also his father. You see, this boys mother was sexually abused by her own father and had given birth to this boy. They grew up in a cycle of sexual abuse to the point of it being “normal”. Even when child services got involved, and court hearings were held, it didn’t stop. Mother was told not to let her child around this man. But, this woman was broken…so broken. When her own father raped her over and over again and nothing happened, she gave up. Now, she and her child suffer the pain of living with generational abuse.
The little girl was about five years old when her older male neighbor molested her. She was confused. What was happening? Don’t tell. This is our secret. The girl grew up, living with the memory of her trauma, wondering why SHE was chosen by this man? Wondering if she was the only one?
The boy became a man. He made bad choices and poor decisions. He found himself going down a road that he probably never meant to go down. Wickedness in the heart and a seared conscience would allow him to do things he never imagined. He hooked up with a woman that had a pre-school age daughter. They hatched a plan to sell “time” with the little girl. How evil must one be, to plan to give a young child to grown men to be raped? A pre-schooler. Thankfully, an undercover FBI agent stopped this plan, and the two deviants went to prison. In this case, the girl was saved, but this kind of thing happens all too frequently. Family members pimping out their own children for money or drugs.
Every. Single. Day. I see stories in the news about local, national, and international sex-trafficking of children. Businessmen, school superintendents, police officers, meteorologists, school teachers, pastors/priests, politicians, entertainers, and athletes. Wherever there are children, these people are there. Not everyone is an abuser of children, I know that….but, and this is a big but…..there are more of these deviant people out there than you could ever imagine. You are no longer allowed to say, “This doesn’t effect me”, “I choose to keep my head buried in the sand”, or “It is too awful to think about”. The children of the world are at risk, now more than ever. Don’t turn a blind eye to this pandemic of sex-trafficking and abuse.
Y’all, I have thought about my blog on and off throughout this year. In the past, I was blogging all the time and loved it. I still love writing and blogging, but I’ll be honest, this past year has gone by so quickly and has been so busy that I was always just too tired to put my thoughts together to blog (and have it make sense). The last time I posted was nearly a year ago. Oh, my! I said all this to say, I am back. Hopefully, all my long time followers will find it a pleasant surprise that I have returned to blogging and plan on posting regularly once again. Maybe, I will get some new followers also.
I am currently sitting in the kitchen. I have home decorating shows from YouTube playing on the TV. Yes, it is a guilty pleasure. I love watching decor shows. My husband indulges my love of decorating. Although, he probably could not care less if we have fall colored sofa pillows or a burnt orange throw blanket. I know you are probably wondering why it is mid-August and I am already thinking of Fall. It is a thing, people. The home decorators are already doing their “Fall Hauls” from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Kirklands. I may or may not have just purchased a rust colored blanket for the couch. Don’t judge.
School, in my county, is not starting until September 10th. This is the first year we were going to start back the day after Labor Day (planned even before the whole COVID thing), but a couple of more days were tacked on to make sure the schools are completely sanitized and all the staff is ready for our new COVID world. I am an intervention specialist (a.k.a special education teacher) with some high school students. All I can say is that the start of this school year will feel odd, unlike anything I have ever experienced in my thirty years of teaching. I am planning on still having fun with my students regardless of masks, sanitizing, and social distancing.
Can I tell y’all something? It is not that I liked being “locked down” for several weeks this past Spring, but there was something nice about not having to be anywhere. Life had become a race to be places and get things done, and being forced to slow down and stay home was not horrible. Mind you, I didn’t want to stay that way forever because after a while I wanted to see people and share some moments. I don’t want social distancing to become social isolation…for any of us. We need each other now, more than ever. What did you think about being forced to stay at home?
During the summer I also complete assessments for local homeschooling families. I am currently in the process of reorganizing my schoolroom/office area. This is no small task. I have accumulated a lot in all my years of teaching/consulting/assessing. When I say “a lot” I mean a dump truck full of stuff give or take. Maybe in another 10 years, I will gift my teaching stuff to families that will use it to continue growing life long learners. I am thankful for all the years I have been blessed to teach. It has been and continues to be, a great gig.
I’ll be honest with you, there are moments when my heart is so heavy. There are many times when I find myself fighting back tears. I mean, yes, I have my own issues and problems that I am dealing with, as we all do, but I am really talking more about feeling compassion and empathy for others. I don’t know if it is an age thing or because I am choosing to slow down and listen to other people more.
I want to try, really try, to have eyes like Jesus. To see people the way He sees them. The hurting, the tired, the forgotten, the needy, the scared, the overwhelmed, the anxious, the pained and the lost.
Struggles are real. People hurt. This broken world tips sharply on its axis, making us all dizzy from the pain… Dare I say that anyone who says they don’t suffer is lying to you? Or to him or herself?
As a child I used to wish I could have the super power of reading peoples minds. I thought it would be cool to know what they were thinking…a great party trick. The decades have slipped past and although I have never been able to read minds, I have gotten better at reading hearts. (Thank you, Jesus.)
*A student who anxiously tells me, “I hope my grandfather makes it to mine and my brother’s graduation. I told him he has too, but I just don’t know. If he doesn’t, I will be so sad.”
*Aging parents with hard diagnoses, having to live with something they never asked for. Grown children realizing that time stops for no one, including their parents, and that particular knowledge is difficult.
*The young adult who finds himself in a place of his own making…realizing it is not where he really wants to be. Each day the work to change is hard and he is tired.
*The young woman who constantly wonders if she is good enough?
*The new parents who are outwardly excited, but inwardly terrified at the realization of being mom and dad, and doing it “right”.
*The man whose job is on the line, and he feels he is too old to start over.
*The woman who is divorced, raising her kids and working hard to provide.
*The children who make the poor choices.
*The babies that are caught in the middle.
*The friend who cries in the shower at night because life is overwhelming, but smiles during the day.
*Prayers during surgeries.
*Crying over the death of loved ones.
My prayer is to have the eyes and the heart of Jesus for others. To meet people where they are at. To hold a hand…to hold a heart. To sometimes whisper words of comfort, or have a shoulder to cry on. To talk to them, or just be quiet and listen. Help where I can, and stand back when necessary. I don’t always know the right thing to do but, I am trying….. Thank you, Jesus.
When the Lord <Jesus> saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:13
Seeing the people, He <Jesus> felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
When He <Jesus> went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
…and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him! John 11:34-38 <after His friend, Lazarus, had died>
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One <Jesus> who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
It has been months since I have made a blog post, three and a half months to be exact. I miss not blogging, but for those of us that live our lives know, that sometimes the day to day can bog us down. I wanted to write but, I was tired. I wanted to share but, I was busy. I thought about typing but, duties called. Now finally, I have a few minutes on a sunny September afternoon to post on what I am thinking at this moment in time.
Life is hard.
This statement probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many. You know. You feel it too. I’m currently fifty-one years old. Most days in my own head I feel younger, like I don’t belong in a body that has already lived through five decades. The truth is, I thought when I was in my fifties life would be easier. Young enough to still enjoy life, wise enough to appreciate it. But, it isn’t easier.
Kids grow up. They make their own decisions. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with choices being made. Sometimes the thought of that is freeing and at other times it hurts. Anyone that has grown, twenty-something children probably understands what I am saying. I have to accept that when I look at my children, I am looking into the faces of adults. Adults who are making their own way, in their own time, and I pray for wisdom for us all.
Family members who are facing difficult situations. Decisions that are stressful, diagnoses that debilitate, and an understanding that change is happening. Change. I hate that word right now. When the doctor gives the news it seems so unfair. So wrong. I try not to dwell on things, but the thoughts are always in the back of my mind tearing away at memories.
At times I am strong and fierce. I know myself and understand my role. At other times I am weak from the tears and the longing for what once was. On some days I am fine, happy, and all is well. I feel in control. Other days not so much. That is the thing. I am not in control. I never was. The thought of having control over my life is just a flimsy facade. On days when I let this realization take hold I am so very grateful that I know the ONE who is in control. The ONE who is not chained to calendars and clocks, who is not phased by the movement of time. He who knows each of us intimately and is never surprised by the doctor’s diagnoses, or children’s decisions. Jesus who never leaves me nor forsakes me, who said there is nothing that can keep us apart.
Thank you, Jesus.
35 Who shall separate us from the love ofChrist? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… <my words: or doctor’s diagnoses, or growing up children, or autoimmune disease, or mistakes, or misunderstandings or…..anything>
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV
Last week there was a knock at my door. The dogs were going crazy. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw an orange jeep in the driveway. I don’t know anyone with an orange jeep. I figured I’d find out, as I walked to the laundry room door, keeping my barking, maniac dog at bay.
“Are you Dawn?”, a kind face asked. “Yes”, I replied. The woman introduced herself as she handed me a container full of cookies. “You like cookies, I hope?”. “Yes, I do”.
“I left my husband doing yard work at home”, she said with a smile. “I told him I was going to meet Dawn”. I felt humbled. Truth is, it was nice to meet her.
This woman standing on my porch, is the bus driver on my rural road. Even though I no longer have school age children, I would always be outside feeding the horse and chickens in the early morning hours when she went by. She would cheerily honk the bus horn at me and I would wave. I never saw her face. I didn’t know her name. I did know that she made me smile each morning as we both participated in our regular morning routine.
As the school year was drawing to an end, and summer break was awaiting, I decided to send her a card through the school transportation department. I just wanted her to know I appreciated her. I wanted her to know that something as simple as a friendly bus horn honk each morning made me happy. It made me glad to live on a country road.
I am trying to be more mindful of my interactions with people. A smile to someone, a genuine compliment, an act of kindness. We are all in this life together, and sometimes it is just the simple act of “seeing” someone else that can have a profound effect.
Today marks exactly four months since I have posted. That is far too long.
I just celebrated my 51st birthday this past week. I am still not quite sure how I feel about being 51, not that I have much choice about my age. The saying about time not stopping for anyone is true. Although some of my days have seemed long, the years have moved swiftly.
There are things that I am passionate about, and other things that mean very little to me. Over the years I’ve learned to be more mindful of what I say and do in my daily life. I actually attempt to slow down and ask myself, “Is this important? Is is relevant to me? Will it make a positive difference?” And yes, long before I ever heard of Marie Kondo, I’d ask if this action is bringing me joy? With that being said, I am going to share some of those parts of my life that matter.
People matter. Relationships. Talking with my husband. Cards from my mom. Texts from my sister that make me laugh. Watching my kids as young adults, making decisions. Grandchildren that I would do anything for. Coffee with a friend. Smiles from complete strangers. Listening to other’s stories. Responding to people. Hearing them. Really seeing them. This network of people that hold the strings of life together.
Time is valuable. What do I choose to spend my time on? Finally realizing after all these years that it is okay to take time for me, to relax. To be quiet. To read. To just breathe. It is not a waste of time to do nothing in particular. Some days that is the best way to spend valuable minutes.
My relationship with Jesus. Not just a church icon. Not the Sunday School picture version of Jesus. Not church ritual or a holiday necessity. Jesus, the only Son of the living God. The One who knows me by name and sees me in both my good and my bad and loves me. I am reminded of what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is not always easy, in fact most times it is not easy. People laugh. They shake their heads. I want to see them as Christ does, people drowning in their own selves, not even aware of their need for a Savior, but loving them anyway. Years ago I was that person. In a broken world, full of hurting people, I need to be light in the darkness.
Do my passions align with my time is valuable? Relationships are important? Following Jesus? I don’t want to waste myself on things that don’t really matter. I give my time to advocacy for those with disabilities, bringing awareness to human trafficking/sex trafficking especially of minors, education and research on vaccines and medical freedom, and teaching children how to be lifelong learners. I will never be rich from my passions, but these things definitely light up my spirit. What things make you a warrior?
No matter your age, what are some things that make your life better?
*A nurse impregnated a comatose woman in a long-term care facility. How did no one see? Who looked away?
*A Tennessee teacher groomed his young student and showed her nude pictures. These types of people are everywhere and children are their prey.
*Catholic teens who received death threats for a snippet of a video that did not show the whole truth, and the ensuing horrible and vile comments from adults. When did it become okay for grown adults to make death threats to children? No apologies from the media for instigating this hate.
*New York state passing a bill that allows the taking of innocent lives right up until birth. How is it that one baby can be cut out of its mother’s womb because she doesn’t want “it”, but across town, a baby still in the womb is having life-saving surgery to fix a defect before being born? Life is life, that doesn’t change regardless of how the mother “feels”. Everyone who shouts it is a woman’s “reproductive right” to abort her child, knows it is taking an innocent life. We all know.
*In Oregon, a child with autism was locked out of the school by the school’s principal. The principal then instructed staff to not open the doors. None of the staff helped the child, instead choosing to look away, but when a fellow student had compassion and let the boy in, that child was suspended for two days for his kindness.
These are stories that came up in my newsfeed today. An overwhelming portion of sadness, frustration, and anger. I find myself wondering what has happened? When did it become the norm in society for evil and selfishness to flourish? For lies and brutality to become common?
This world full of brokenness is spinning crazily on its axis. The dizziness of sin causing me to feel sick, and yet I am reminded that evil in this world is not new, nor should it be surprising. Thankfully, as a Christ follower, I know how this story is going to end. “I <Jesus>have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Be sure of this. In the last days, hard times will come.People will love themselves. They will love money. They will talk about themselves and be proud. They will say wrong things about people. They will not obey their parents. They will not be thankful. They will not keep anything holy.They will have no love. They will not agree with anybody. They will tell lies about people. They will have no self-control. They will beat people. They will not love anything that is good.They cannot be trusted. They will act quickly, without thinking. They are proud of themselves. They love to have fun more than they love God.They act as if they worshipped God, yet they do not let God’s power work in their lives. Keep away from people like that. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Some days can seem so very long, the click of the passing minutes echoing like a time bomb. On those days I think, “I just want this day done”! Other times, the moments slip through my grasp like tiny grains of sand. I want those moments back, but they are gone forever. 2018 will be complete in just a few short hours. As I think back over the months that created the year 2018, I smile and I cry. There were wonderful times and hard times. Nothing special and everything special, because isn’t that just life? Filled full of both good and bad. And yet, moments that instantly turned to memories, and I don’t want to forget.
On this New Year’s Eve I don’t want to write about parties or plans.
I just want to reach out and touch your hand.
I don’t want to worry about pain or age.
I am just happy to turn the next page.
As this year comes to an end, I want to think about how words can mend…
How love can heal, how God is good, knowing what is real, and doing what I could.
I want to consider what I can do to make 2019 better for you.