There’s No Place Like Home

I grew up in the mid-Atlantic state of Maryland, went to college in Tennessee, taught in a small town in the Appalachian mountains, moved to the suburbs, lived in the city where I could get to anything in five minutes, and now am comfortably situated in the rural countryside of west central Ohio. For me there is peace in the quiet. A slower pace, causes me to stop more often and appreciate the beauty that is all around me. Appreciation. Gratefulness. A thankful heart.

When was the last time you stopped and stared at the clouds, allowed the sunrise to take your breath away? Have you recently taken a moment to marvel at the rural art of fields dotted with round hay bales? Listened to the early morning crowing of the roosters? Saw beauty even in the bright yellow of dandelions?

Then, there are the barns. I love barns. They are utilitarian monuments to a hard working life. Some of them big and strong, others faded and worn. All carry with them, a story.

Yep. I love it. I admit it. I’ve lived all over and seen a lot but, in my heart I’m just a country girl.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken. Pictures of my life………

 

 

photo(2)photo(4)Zi6_0160

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_4425102_4396102_4189

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_4184102_4140102_3134

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sun102_3438102_3448

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_3793102_4438102_4241

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_4301Photo-5Photo-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_4328102_2202102_2192

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102_3407102_2872102_3212

The Storms Of Life

Everyone is tuning in to hear the latest on the big storm that is going to hit the east coast. The weather people are calling it

English: Halloween Storm at Peak Intensity Vis...

the “Franken-storm”, the “perfect storm“, or just plain Sandy. Whatever it is called….it is big and messy. My beloved home state of Maryland is probably going to get a direct hit. Here in Ohio, where I’m at now, we have the wind and snow. It is snowing on and off even as I type this post.

How many times are we faced with storms in life? Sometimes, much like Sandy, we can see the storm coming. We can prepare ahead of time. We know what we are up against. Other times we are caught in a storm that slams us to the ground. We didn’t see it before it hit. We are left scared, beaten down, and drowning.

What do we do when faced with a “perfect storm”?  How we react in the middle of the storm, when the waves are crashing hard, tells a lot about what we believe. More than that…it tells in WHO we believe…. He, who can calm any storm in life.

He (Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39 NIV

********************************************************************

Thanking Him even as the storm approaches……

* a warm, snug house

* taking care of all the pets, making sure everyone is fed and warm

* the smell of fresh brewed coffee

* a new chocolatey creamer

* goofing around with hubby

* steel gray, wintry skies

* the first snow flakes of the season

* new cars for sons

* happy faces of boys that have “wheels”

* big brown doggie eyes

* friends

* shopping with my daughter while she reads me interesting “Guinness World Book” facts

* warm, cozy socks and sweaters

The Life On Mainstreet

English: The boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland

The proverbial “main street”.

Home town U.S.A…..or really any country that one calls home.

The place that the heart always tugs for.

That town that you are from…..where memories were made and

life was lived.

Summer time always makes me think of home. I don’t really know why, it just does. I grew up in rural, Maryland. At least it was rural when I lived there. My childhood memories consist of living back a long gravel road, between corn fields and soybean. A place where the neighbor’s cows would get loose on occasion. Swimming in the neighbor’s ponds (along with fish, snapping turtles, and water snakes). Family members that all lived close enough to get together on a regular basis. Birthday parties were always an affair that required home made ice cream….with plenty of cousins to take turns cranking the ingredients into sweet goodness.

I remember Ocean City, and time at the beach. Times when the biggest concern was whether I was getting a good tan and where were we going out to eat that night? Boardwalk fries, and Maryland crabs by the bushel, spread out on newspaper. Long Saturday drives always ending up at Simmons ice cream parlor, with the ball field out back. It was like stepping back in time.

Going to my cousins ball games. Waiting for one of “the boys of summer” to hit a foul, so I could go chase after the ball and throw it back in. Hot days and cold soda. Giggles and goofiness. Making eyes, and making friends. Going to the movies and hanging out and doing a lot of nothing much. Summer was slow and sweet back then. Real worries were still down the road yet, and summer was for the here and now.

Staying outside most of the day, because one never knew what adventure might be in store. Catching lightning bugs at night and asking if mom had something to put them in?

Childhood memories are magic, really. That time of life when the world is big and exciting, but home and family make it safe and sound.

As I sit here typing, sipping my sweet tea, I can close my eyes and for a brief moment I can remember…..and I just have to smile.

Close To Me

Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo,

Image via Wikipedia

Bonnie, at Faith Barista gave us this topic to write about today…

Whitespace Jam:  Share a moment you felt close to God recently.

************************************************************

I’ve been mulling this over. There are many, what I would consider, small moments where I have felt close to God.

Day to day moments. I’m thankful for my life…and in many ways profoundly grateful for the way things have turned out.

For you see, it might not have been this way...

I, like many of you, have had moments or times in my life where I have felt the very hand of God.

Sometimes I knew it right then…other times not until after the fact. When we think of God many times we expect grand miracles,

strong battles, beautiful creations, and the dead being raised to life. And it is true…God is all these things. He is also so

much more. There are times in my life where I’ve cried out to Him, “God where are you?”  Sometimes, for His own

reasons, God is silent. Even if I did not understand at the time, God did. He was always close.

If I could make a map of my life,

it would show a pattern touched by the Sovereign.

Here are some moments from my story. My God moments. The Ever Present in my every day.

* A college graduate who had traveled back home to look for a job. Applications. Interviews. Doors slammed.

“God I know you called me to be a special education teacher. Why can’t I get a job teaching here?” A phone call from

a professor in Tennessee, he had tracked me down to Maryland by way of a friend. A small school, in a small community

in the mountains of Appalachia needed me. Would I consider going? Nearly 600 miles from Maryland…from home.

And God held the door open wide. A small town with a big heart. Memories of my early years of teaching still warm me,

all these decades later. God brought me to this place and I knew that God was close.

*The cries were like music. From the moment the nurse laid my newborn son on my chest, I knew that motherhood would profoundly

change me. I hadn’t known if I’d be able to get pregnant. The fact that I did, was a gift from God. A new role as mother….and God was there.

* “Ma’am, we tried to resuscitate him for 45 minutes straight. We could never get a good heart beat. I’m so sorry.” Part of me

died that day, along with my husband. Plans changed. A new normal.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5 NIV)  I have never felt so close to God

as I did during my years of widowhood. I clung to this verse from God. He would father my young son, and be my defender. Many

days and dark nights, I would tell God I was scared. He never left me. He most certainly was my defender.

I was able to sleep in peace…with God close to me.

* This man lived so far away. I could not possibly get involved in a long distance relationship. God has a way of working the impossible into

the possible. Time and distance are not deterrents to a God that is not chained to calendars or clocks. He is the God of second chances. My new husband and I stood before God to say our vows. Two families brought together as one.  God was at that ceremony.

I could list many, many times that God was close, as He mapped out my life. There are the big God moments, the bends in the road, the path not taken…..and there are the small moments of realization. The warmth of my children’s hugs. Notes of encouragement from my loved ones. The beauty of much needed rain splashing against the window pane. An email from an old friend. Waking up to my husband’s smile. The comfortable house that I live in. The dog licking my ankles. A cold glass of tea.

All things are from God. God is not a stranger to me. He does not live far away. He has not left me alone. He is intimately involved in the day to day moments of my life. He is close to me. Always.

*************************************************

FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

You Can’t Go Back Home Again….But, You Can Visit

Michael Jackson dancing with the living dead.

Image via Wikipedia

I graduated from high school in 1986.  Fellow classmates are putting together a twenty-fifth reunion, that will take place in a couple of months. I wish I could go….but, alas, I cannot. I grew up in Maryland, but now live in Ohio. Life tugs at me. So much to do, busy schedule, time slips away. How did I get from 18 to 43? From attending Friday night football games to Saturday morning soccer mom? From staying up late to dead tired by 9pm? From long talks on the telephone with friends, to email and smart phones? From being the teenager to now having teenagers of my own? When did I get old? Sigh. It would be great to be able to attend the reunion, because we are all in the same boat. Life has changed us all. We are on an even playing field now, no longer tied to our high school images. We might see other “children of the 80’s” at WalMart, our kids sporting events, or walking our subdivisions….and we just know.

My time in high school was good. I wasn’t a jock, or a geek, or a band member, or new wave. I did have friends that were. I don’t really know what I was in high school. I guess I was fairly average. Isn’t that pretty much how it goes? A teenager, trying to find herself….. The teen years are so confusing anyway.

It was the ’80’s. I watched The Cosby Show and Family Ties. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was at the top of the charts. ( Still, every time I hear the music from Thriller, I want to break into that zombie dance–I can’t help myself) The preppy look was in. How many layers of shirts could one person wear? Michael J. Fox was Back To The Future. I loved listening to The Police, Madonna, and the Eurythmics on my cassettes. X box and PlayStations weren’t heard of, we had Atari. VCRs were new, as were microwaves that weren’t the size of a house. If I wanted to get in touch with someone I called on the rotary phone that hung on the kitchen wall, or mailed them a handwritten letter. Email was unheard of. Cruising around 140 shopping center was the thing to do. Hanging out. Life was simple.

I can’t ever go back to the way things used to be. I can’t say that I’d really want to do that anyway….but, the memories are fun.

The old saying, You can’t go home again, is true…..but, I’ll always be part of the WHS Class of ’86.

Encouragement Is Nourishment

Road

Today, over at Faith Barista, we are jamming about encouragement. We are discussing the topic where we feel we could use a little (or a lot) encouragement. Truth be told, couldn’t we all use some?

*************

I love to travel. The thought of the open road gets me all excited.

I love to meet people. I love to hear stories. I love to write.

I love vintage. Treasure finding. Flea markets. Decorating.

The Junk Gypsies are my heroes.

East coast, Maryland girl. Down home, Tennessee woman. Mid-West mama, lovin’ Ohio.

Kickin’ it up in cowboy boots in  Texas. In awe of the Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Love ’em all.

I love living in the country and the every day of small town life.

I thrill at the bright lights and diversity and interesting shops in the cities.

I am passionate about rights for the disabled. I want to help where I can.

I am constantly in awe of my Jesus. His name is above all others.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Life has been a roller coaster. A heartache and a party.

Love. Laughter. And Mud. (nobody’s perfect)

So, that is kind of me….as best as I can describe myself.

I guess, at age 43, I pretty much know who I am. What I like. People I love.

But, where do I fit in? How do I meld together my talents with my interests?

Is anyone out there, “living the life”? Do you wake up in the morning, knowing you

are exactly where you are supposed to be? Doing what you love?

I know, no one’s life is perfect……and I wouldn’t want perfect anyway. That’s boring.

How do you live out your dreams?

Please share your advice. I read every comment.

Your words matter.

They really do.

FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

The World Is Going Loco!

Drug War from my window

Image by guillermogg via Flickr

This morning I read a sad story about a mother in depression. Her husband is deployed….she shot her 2 teenage children and was going to then kill herself. Two teenagers dead, a mother in prison. A military man coming home to a family that no longer exists. Heartbreaking.

There are law enforcement officers being intentionally shot practically every day this past week.  What about the guy in Detroit who just walked in the police station and started shooting? Men and women who choose to put themselves in dangers way, on the front lines of all the craziness…..to serve and protect us. Who protects them?

A bank robber in Maryland, using an innocent bystander as a human shield. She didn’t wake up that morning knowing that she could possibly be killed by some madman.

The Mexican drug cartel, shooting and killing a missionary, as she and her husband ran for the border. Turns out the drug runners wanted the couples new truck. To the cartel a person’s life is of no value.

Multiple people killed in Egypt as the protests continues. A country in chaos.

Our world has gone insane. I know there have always been crazy, clinically depressed, or suicidal people among us. When people aren’t thinking straight they do unbelievable things. Those are just a few circumstances, but it seems like there is more and more rampant evil running amok…living among us.

Doesn’t it seem like the world is running at full tilt, straight to utter chaos? Straight to it’s total demise?

I turn on the news anymore and I want to cry. It makes me want to pull my family close to me and slam the front door shut…keep the world at bay. It is a scary place out there. I know one shouldn’t stay focused on all that…..but, pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t the answer either.

Sorry, that this post is depressing…but, sometimes that is just the way it is.

 

White Out!

Deep snow during the Blizzard of 2006 Nor'east...

Image via Wikipedia

My husband and I, and our children are visiting family in upstate New York. It has been cold here, but not really any snow (besides what is already on the ground). I’ve been watching the news this morning. Everyone is talking about the blizzard that hit many areas of the east coast. New York City doesn’t look that bad to me, yet it is being called a blizzard. Technically, a blizzard has to do with certain amounts of snow, but a true blizzard also has high winds over 35 m.p.h.

I remember being in 5th grade in Carroll County, Maryland when the blizzard of ’79 struck. Of course, as a child I enjoyed being off school for a week. My sister and I got bundled up like a couple of Arctic explorers and ventured outside to make tunnels in the deep snow.Mom always had hot tea ready for us when we came inside.

I also remember as a young newlywed, the “storm of the century” in March of 1993. The entire east coast got pelted with that monster storm. My husband and I went to bed on Friday night with just a few flurries falling. We made a bet with each other that it wasn’t really going to amount to anything. We woke up on Saturday morning to a snow induced hush over our own, personal winter wonderland!

All this talk of blizzards got me to thinking about snow fall. Look at this site of the Top 10 Worst Blizzards of all time. It makes me cold just reading about them!

What are your coldest, snowiest, most blizzard like memories?  How old were you? Where were you living at the time?