Being Seen

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.

365 Days…

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.

Love Of The 1940s

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. 

Enjoying The Moments

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 *

My cup runneth over…

Storming The Gates Of Hell

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“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NET Bible

The enemy of our souls is real. The Father of Lies has wanted to deceive and disturb, confuse and kill since those poisonous words were first uttered in the Garden.

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There is a supernatural battle going on all around us. We often cannot see it with our eyes, but instead feel it with our spirit. It is just as real as you and I. Don’t be fooled and lulled into a sense of apathy.

11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers,against the authorities,against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore take up the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground…. Ephesians 6:11-13 

Are you ready for spiritual warfare? Satan comes to kill and destroy. Do you have people in your life that you are willing to storm the gates of Hell, for?

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*A child that turned his back on you and your beliefs?

*A marriage that is on the rocks? Trust destroyed?

*A loved one who is in the clutches of alcohol or drug abuse?

*Someone who feels suicide is the only way out of a situation?

*You or someone you know who is eaten up with guilt or self-hatred over a secret sin?

*Guilt and pain from abortion? Constant reminders of the child that was never born?

*Self-injury?

*Abuse?

*Failures

*Health Issues? Pain?

*Lives torn apart through a divorce?

*Anger….hatred…..words that cut like a knife?

We are all dealing with things, or know someone who is. Prayer is powerful. It is not “the last resort”, as some would believe, but is instead direct communication with God Himself.

Things change when people pray. Your words uttered in private are heard. They are not forgotten, nor disregarded.

Suit up. Get ready for battle.

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Where God Will Take Him

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He had already been through so much before I even met him. This dark-haired teenager (who was already sporting a beard)  who loved teasing and joking around was to be my new student. This young man had heart surgery just hours after his entrance into this world. He had neurological, skeletal, cardiac and breathing issues. The doctors told his parents their son might never run and might only walk with an odd gait. They said he might talk in a way only those close to him would be able to understand. Over the three years I worked with him, he was in the hospital, had to have respiratory therapy, seen heart doctors, and struggled with academics.

It would be so easy for him to give up. He could have become angry at his lot in life… defiant due to his disabilities. But, that is not my friend, Keith’s, story. He is choosing how his life is going to play out. At twenty-six years old, he is an overcomer. He is not defeated, he is delivered. He has not given up, he has grabbed hold. He does not seek pity, he only wants to push himself.

Keith does not know a stranger. His social life is more exciting then most, and if you want to see him you need to make sure you get on his calendar. He is one busy young man! Keith is not afraid to ask people if they “know Jesus”. His heart might not be typical for one his age, but it is big. His heart is big because he loves people. His sweet innocent spirit is refreshing in what can sometimes be viewed, by most, to be a cynical and difficult world.

A couple of years ago, Keith got involved in adaptive climbing. He has conquered competitive climbing, winning in national competitions, and is now on his way to represent the USA in the World Paraclimbing Championship in Innsbruck, Austria in about a week and a half. I am praying for Keith as he travels from Ohio, USA, half way around the world to compete. I am proud of him.

God often times will expand our horizons beyond what we seek. A couple of years ago, Keith had no idea where God would take him. The same goes for each of us. No matter where you might find yourself right now, even if you are in a seemingly impossible spot, God can make a way when there seems to be no way. All things are possible with God.

This is one of my favorite verses, and a wonderful reminder for us all.

For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 ESV

 

Whitewater And Time

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I don’t know if it is the fact that I am older, (not ancient mind you, but wiser…that is my story and I am sticking to it) but time seems to be roaring through the weeks much like a raft on whitewater rapids. I’ve been white water rafting before and ended up flying off the raft when we hit exceptionally rough water. I was completely disoriented as the water went over my head, and the roar of the water filled my ears. Thankfully, I was able to right myself and get back in the raft. I was soaking wet but safe. So, yes. That is how I feel about time right now. Time is fast. So fast. No slowing down. No turning back. Once this day is gone, it’s gone.

Even though that is true, I want to remember the days. I want to cherish the moments, and that is difficult to do when one feels the spray hit her face and feels herself being pulled under into the churning basin of time. Why do I always feel like I have to rush when my heart’s desire is to just slow down?!

Stay awake. Stay afloat. Keep my head above the water. Enjoy the minutes.

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A reminder to open my eyes and really see what each day brings. Let’s face it, some days are going to be better than others. I’ll admit there are days when I am glad it is time for bed because I am exhausted and just want the day to be done. But, most of the time I don’t want to check the minutes and hours. I want to hold them a little longer. Laugh harder. Smile more. Cry if I need too. I want to hold hands and hold hearts. I want to admire the sunset, pet the dogs and cats, write the email. I want to smell dinner cooking, look out the window, get tan and be barefoot. I want a little more time. I can’t change the clock, but I can change my attitude so that those moments seem longer and fuller.

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It’s Complicated…

Life.

Just when I think I’m in for some smooth sailing, something happens. It never fails. As it goes, people are always just coming out of a trial, about to go into a trial or find themselves smack dab in the middle. In the middle of the mess and muck. Sometimes it isn’t even your fault. You had nothing to do with it, and yet…..there you are.

I am the type of personality that does not enjoy confrontation. I am not a drama mama. Just give me my front porch, a super cold iced tea, and a good view. I find myself wishing life was that uncomplicated and easy, but alas, it is not. Oh, sure. There are “seasons” of easy, some smooth sailing, but the storm is always on the horizon. Something is looming…..ready to steal my peace. We all live in a broken, sin-cursed world. Sometimes the pieces of broken are jagged and hard.

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From my own personal experience, I have found it to be true that it is indeed the hard, choppy waters that grow me and make me strong. The big waves that threaten, lead me to call out to the One who can calm any storm. The wind and the waves hear His voice and obey. I listen for Him and He reminds me that He is the Prince of Peace, the Great I AM, and the Beginning and the End. There are no surprises with God. He’s got me covered.

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I know in my own life, when my (late) husband was first diagnosed with an incurable heart condition at age 32 (and I had just turned 31, and our son was 5), he could no longer work, he was declining into a black hole of depression because of this…..my life felt out of control. A tsunami of doubt and fear of the unknown was looming over me and I was scared. Scared I was going under. Smack dab in the middle of this horrible time, God met me. People, I will admit, it wasn’t easy. Part of me was in denial, and the other part was terrified. I was young, my husband was young, our son was young……and as my husband was looking death in the face, I was brought to my knees. Crumpled. Begging. Crying. I was drowning. God brought me through this time in my life. It will be 18 years ago this November that my husband went home to Jesus. Looking back, I can honestly say, I know things now, I can relate to others that are hurting, in ways I never would have been able to before. I tell my friends, I am an “empathetic free-cryer”. My heart aches along with theirs. When you have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, you know Jesus in ways others cannot understand unless they have also been through it. He carried me on the days I could not walk.

Several years later I remarried to a man who had also lost his spouse when he was in his thirties. In the first five years of our marriage, we sold both our homes, built another home out of state, and moved. Right smack dab in the middle of building our dream farmhouse in what once used to be a cornfield in rural Ohio, my husband lost his job. It was in January 2009 when the economy took a nose-dive and a myriad number of people were getting laid off. The loss of a job is always a hard thing, especially when it wasn’t expected, and especially when one is already committed to building a house! There were a lot of tears, fear of the unknown, and worry about losing everything we had already sunk into our dream house. The huge tidal wave was approaching fast and I was scared it would take us all, my husband, our children, and me, under. It was hard to breathe, as the waves pummeled us. I remember one night in particular when my husband and I prayed and cried……. We were reminded that no matter what happened, even if we lost everything, God was still good and He would not leave us nor forsake us. We would come out of this situation one way or another. It is one thing to say you trust God, quite another to actually live that out. It was our time to show God we trusted Him.

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Life is complicated. It doesn’t always work out the way we had hoped. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen to bad people. In the midst of all the ups and downs, tears and laughter, mountain tops and valleys…God is there. You cannot go wrong by placing your trust in Him in whatever circumstance(s) you find yourself in the middle of.

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I Am Starting To Count The Days

Y’all, it is to be 88 degrees today. To me, that is hot. I have been sweating. You know how I feel about that. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will be forced to spend the next almost four months as a hot mess. Hot as in, I often think about how much I could get away with not wearing before arrest would become imminent. I do not look all dewy fresh. I do not glisten. I sweat…. like a horse. By the end of a long, hot summer day, I probably smell like one too.

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The ants, flies, mosquitos, fleas, and ticks are out full force, ALREADY. What the what???!!! I saw a horsefly the other evening that I swear could have actually carried off our horse. God, why did you choose to make flies that big? What was the point? I’m checking myself and all the dogs and cats daily for ticks. I used to be more squeamish about ticks than I am now. Now, I get any ticks and flush them down the toilet, yelling, “Die you little bloodsuckers!” at the top of my lungs. I consider it part of my summer therapy.

I bought some super cute tops that have those circle cutouts on the shoulders. They look great on me, but here lately it has occurred to me that I am going to have really weird tan spots on my otherwise white arms. I can’t win. On a good note, I love wearing flipflops so my feet are going to be nicely tanned.

I feel the need for an iced tea. It is my go-to drink of the summer. Green tea “on the rocks”. If you need me, I will be on the deck, sipping my beverage, laying in the hammock…..maybe fanning myself.

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Fall starts on September 22nd. I am starting to count the days.

 

When Your Reality Was Not Part Of The Plan

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How many of us find ourselves in the middle of a reality that we didn’t really plan for? We wake to find our life map has been crisscrossed with detours and derailments, pits and punctures, and a healthy dose of “what just happened?”. Maybe it is just because I had an important birthday. Maybe turning fifty has made me more contemplative. Maybe I just like to think about stuff. I don’t know.

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At times when I find myself doubting about where I am in life, and what I find myself in the middle of, sometimes things I never asked for and didn’t want, I am reminded of a quote from the late Corrie Ten Boom. This Holocaust survivor was a follower of Jesus Christ. Because she and her family helped to hide Jews they incurred the wrath of the Nazi’s.  This woman probably wondered how she found herself surviving in a concentration camp. Surely, this was not part of her plan. Even in the midst of a living nightmare, she saw God in action. She was witness to miracles. She lost some of her own family members and numerous friends and yet she did not lose sight of the bigger picture.

I will paraphrase her words…..”Life is like a tapestry that is being embroidered. From the viewpoint of Heaven, God can see the beautiful picture of our lives.  All the intricacies and wonder. From our viewpoint, here on Earth, all we can see is the loose threads, the knotted off strings, and a picture that doesn’t make much sense”. We have to have faith that God is good. He sees us. He is working on our life picture every single minute of every single day…..and He alone knows the number of our days. We are not forgotten.

So, if you find yourself in the middle of a detour, remember God loves you and He is in control. You might find that the detour takes you to a place you would have never discovered on your own.

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“Surprises are part of God’s plan. They remind us that He’s still in charge”. –Charles Swindoll