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?
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
Her hair is a wild halo of brown curls. She pushes it off her face with a quick swipe of her small hand. Her arm has the remnants of a purple marker, a reminder of her artistic ability that will wash off at her next bath. She is full of energy, bouncing and jumping, running and riding. Her bounce horse is sporting a pair of jingle bells for the season. They ring loudly as she rides her horse into the last lap, heading for home! Her sweet childish laughter rings out, infecting all those around her with a smile. I believe it is impossible to be sad when in the company of this sweet toddler. She is the pint-size embodiment of blazing hot sunshine….not the sunshine of a warm summer day, more like her going 100 mph with her hair on fire. Just sayin’.
Socks on and socks off, slippers next. In the life of a toddler, clothes are a necessary evil. It is so much easier to run and jump unencumbered without the restrictions of pants and a shirt. Striped leggings, butterfly wings, and Nana’s cat socks. Colors and softness and all things cozy. Fashion sense is less about sensibility and more about fun and freedom.
A small voice that is just learning to sing Old McDonald’s Farm and Jesus Loves Me floats on the air from the backseat. I turn around to look and she is swaying back and forth to the music in her head. Her PopPop and I sing along. At the end of the impromptu concert, we get a not-standing ovation, clapping her hands and saying, “Good job!” My heart melts and leaks happiness all over.
Thank you, Let’s go!, and Outside?, are favorite words, ones that are used most often. Last night we read Olivia- Countdown to Christmas. In the world of children’s literature, Olivia is a little girl pig. She found the story fascinating and enjoyed sticking Olivia stickers all over the book. That is part of the fun! Being engaged with her and what she is doing is exhausting, and enlightening, and worth every single minute.
Every moment is an adventure. Every day a blessing.
Psalm 139 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I’m listening to Christmas music on the day before Thanksgiving. Go figure. I told Google to play holiday music from the Big Band Era. That is just how I roll. I am also watching Holiday Home Tours on Youtube. This is how I spend my day off.
Y’all I think I missed my decade. I am in love with all things 1940’s. Of course, if I was actually an adult in the 1940s, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now so there is that……
The horribleness of war was over and it was a new chapter for America. People were ready to look ahead.
I love big band music, watching swing dance, and listening to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney. It is impossible to be down when one listens to this music…..Jazz and smooth velvety voices.
Some of my favorite black and white movies are from the 1940s. The time when Hollywood was glamorous and golden. Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, His Girl Friday, Miracle on 34th Street (the original!). I could go on and on. I really liked Jimmy Stewart…one of my favorites.
Part of my love comes from vintage decorating. I am getting ready to decorate for Christmas this weekend, which will include my 1940s inspired decorations. My Putz houses, vintage Santa, Christmas story and hymn book from the 40’s, and an old, Italian nativity set. Although I am constantly looking at new decorating styles, there is something about the old, the vintage, the retro that pulls at me. I enjoy things that tell a story and have a history.
Even in the 1940’s laundry had to be done. Mind you it is a lot easier today than it was then, but alas, it still must be done……so off I go.
The waning light filtered through the frosted glass. With the time change it got dark early, so she wanted to get all her outside chores completed before it was too dark to see what she was doing. The cold wasn’t bad, she actually enjoyed the cold, brisk air, but the wind did not do any favors. It cut right through her no matter how many layers she was wearing.
Staring out the window into the fading light while stirring dinner on the stove, she pondered over the seasonal switch that seemed to have taken place. September had still been summer-like hot, the first half of October was unseasonably warm, a couple weeks of autumn chill, and then snow on November ninth and ice on the fifteenth. She wondered what this would mean for the winter months ahead?
The mug of hot coffee felt nice against her hands. Her cozy, Scandinavian patterned socks kept her feet warm and her footsteps soft as she padded across the dining room and into the living room. She pulled her sweater tight around her and threw a soft blanket over her legs as she settled down on the couch. This was definitely the beginning of cuddly weather.
She prayed everyone was warm and safe on this cold November evening.
Winter has come early. Last Friday it snowed, and today we have a coating of freezing rain. The school district wisely closed for the day because things are pretty slick out there. I still got up at my regular time of 5:30am because I enjoy my morning quiet, it is my time before the rest of my family begins to stir.
I have my hot coffee (with dairy-free almond milk vanilla creamer). I have a load of laundry going, fed all the pets and let them out to take care of business. Now, I get to sit and just enjoy… for the moment.
The front window is covered in icy freezing rain so the world looks distorted as I gaze out onto the side yard. The smaller kitchen window, protected by the deck roof gives a better view. The sky is a cold gray, smoky smudges on the outside pallet. The wind gauge is quickly spinning around telling me the breeze is going to be cold this morning on my walk over to the barn. The grass looks crunchy coated in the coolness of ice.
Thanksgiving is just a week away. Time is quickly slipping through the hourglass, and I don’t feel ready. I haven’t shopped for the big meal yet. (How long does a turkey have to thaw again?) Anyone that knows me, knows Christmas truly is my most wonderful time of the year. I love to decorate! With that said, I also love Thanksgiving. For me, it is a time to ponder and think about the year past and all the things big and small that I am thankful for. I don’t want to forget thankfulness….gratefulness….blessings in the midst of the frantic and hectic holiday season.
So thankful for:
*family *a loving husband that I genuinely enjoy hanging with *my young adult children–they are good kids *my grandchildren–there is nothing better than being a grandparent *a warm house that God blessed us with 9 years ago *Warm blankets *furry friends *a full refrigerator *hot drinks *colorful socks *a comfy bed *yummy dairy-free ice cream (it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream always) *friends, old and new *plans with my peeps *Christmas shopping *my mom, who is my biggest encourager and without whom I would not be the woman I am today *my sister whose funny texts keep me laughing *my master’s degree *my students that make me smile, and their families that make me feel like part of the family *
I am on an alumni site for my high school in Maryland, class of ’86. Yesterday a friend posted that another one of our classmates had passed away, there have been several. Looking at his high school senior picture, I was reminded that we are not here forever. Oh, most of us live like we are going to be here for a long time, and then expect to die peacefully in our sleep when we are one hundred one.
Life is short, whether we live to be a centenarian or only take a few short breaths at birth. It is all short in the scope of eternity. This verse comes to mind,
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. (James 4:14)
I pray for Mrs. Tia Coleman, the woman who recently lost nine of her family members in the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, including her husband and children. From a sweet family picture before their adventure to a horrible storm and tragedy that is changing her life forever.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting caught up in stuff on a daily basis that doesn’t really matter. My perspective gets skewed, and I worry too much. I waste my days on this and that, robbing myself of the joy of this life. I need to be more mindful of my moments, my memories, even my mundane.