Chester and Charlie

Anyone who knows us knows our two dogs, Chester (who is about 7 years old) and Charlie (almost 5 months old). They have a love/hate relationship. Chester hates for Charlie to bug him and take his bones, and Charlie loves to bug Chester and take his bones. Charlie also has a favorite dog bed to try to pull the stuffing out of which of course, is the bed Chester most likes to lay on because it is soft and fluffy. Charlie is at the stage where he has a toddler brain and a teenage body, and as he is a bigger dog he flops that around a lot. Chester on the other hand is a couple inches shorter than Charlie, has a middle aged body with aches, pains and some pudge, and an old man temperament….well, towards Charlie, anyway. He’s always sweet with us.

That all being said, I watched them this morning and realized what a picture they paint of people. Chester lay on the fluffy bed with his chewy horn (of which there are two so they both can have one) and suddenly Charlie just can’t stand it. He must have the chewy horn of Chester’s. His own chewy horn just isn’t good enough. He must nuzzle the bed in case I’m not looking just in case he can get a little chew on that in. He lay there, eyes fixated on that horn, inches away from the bed, and began to complain. His complaint got louder until it became a bark, and Chester just chewed on, not caring that his horn was wanted by another. Charlie edged closer. My “no!” was pretty much ignored. Whine. Whine. WHINE. BARK! “NO!” This pattern went on for a few minutes until I distracted him with something else. That lasted about 10 seconds, and back to staring position/whine/bark. Surely the horn that Chester had was more special than his, more tasty, flavorful, delicious, and most certainly more desirable than his own. And Charlie edged closer, closer, closer, despite the redirection, despite the sharp no. Chester looked at him with a look of resignation, got up and Charlie jumped at the chance to get in that fluffy bed and take that exceptional chewie horn.

Less than one minute later, he was after Chester trying to get the other chewie horn that he now had (which was not the same one that one on the fluffy bed, but the one Charlie ignored because he wanted Chester’s).

We are so much like that. We look at what someone else has so intently we lose focus on what we already have. We stare at it, we edge closer to the thought of how much nicer/better what ”they” have is. We know better, we know it doesn’t make any sense, we know what we have is sufficient. And when the opportunity presents itself, no matter what the cost, we jump at it and claim our prize…which under close scrutiny isn’t all that prize worthy after all, and hey, look over there at what they have…..

We’re the same way with sin. Creeping closer to what we ought not have (which we’ve been warned to stay away from for our own good). Catching sight of whatever it is that is tempting us and blaming the internet, or advertising, or whatever for allowing our flesh to get a hold of us because, of course, a sharp “no!” from scripture or from our own heart just isn’t enough to pull us away if we really don’t want to pull away. And then when we succumb it’s never enough. We want more, we want different, and most of all we don’t want to suffer or deal with consequences for doing so.

Yet, no is no.

Charlie gets put into doggie time out (separated from everything by a baby gate that holds him in the kitchen). Chester who is usually a good boy, because Charlie is locked away in the room with food and water, has to do without (suffer) because of another’s behavior and the same thing happens with us. When we don’t do things as we should, or we allow ourselves to get into sins that we know better than to do so, everyone around us suffers – and most of the time they are innocent. We never do anything alone, no matter what we might think.

I just came back to the livingroom and Charlie is in my chair, looking up at me with big brown eyes. Trying to take the place of the boss. That’s a story for another day but you can guess where that’s going.

Tis The Season

It’s that time of the year once again. From September on we’ve seen the stores flooded with Christmas decorations. Fake trees come out long before Thanksgiving, aisles are full of pre-packaged gifts, and everywhere in ads and social media there are happy families. Every glance reminds many of us of what we don’t have. It’s dangled in our faces at the stores, run across our media devices with a driving force reminding one and all there is only so long until we run out of time to buy those we love that special “something”, regardless of what our circumstances might be. Any merchant wanting our dollar feeds us the belief that if we only purchase what they have, we can have what they are portraying is the perfect family, the perfect holiday, the perfect life….at least for one day. Sometimes we buy into it because, for at least one day, we want that. But it never happens.

We often look around and wonder just what happened over the years to leave us at the point of not only not being picture perfect, but sometimes utterly wounded, bleeding inside with grief, pain, and loneliness. Some have lost a loved one that their passing, and no matter how long ago, has impacted them so much that they cannot function on these media overload holidays. Others have family that for whatever reason have chosen to not include them in their lives, leaving that wide open question of ‘why am I not good enough to be loved by you?’ Some by nature of location or physical health simply cannot be with those they love. Whatever the reason the hurt is out there and I don’t think anyone is immune.

So, with that being said and now that I’ve depressed the socks off of you, this is what I propose all of us with issues remember.

First, this isn’t your birthday. It also isn’t your children/husband/grandchildren/bff/and whoever else you may think of’s birthday. This one belongs to Jesus. Not Hallmark. Not Amazon. Not Walmart. Jesus. So how about we refocus (for more than a 30 second commercial on The Reason For The Season) on Him. He gave gifts of salvation, kindness, truth, tenderness, strength and many more. Take our eyes off of us for a change, and put them on Him.

Secondly, just who runs the remote control and the on/off button on that computer and tv? Probably you. So shut the media off at home, at least occasionally. Give your mind a chance to think for itself instead of being led around by opinions of others, memes and advertising. It’s quite refreshing, actually.

Third, remember the 25th is one day out of 365, no different than any other day. It is still just 24 hours long and you will probably sleep through one third of it.

And last but not least, one of the best ways to overcome your own sadness is to do something kind for someone else. Don’t know where to start? A good beginning is your local nursing home, or ask your Pastor or a trusted friend if they know someone who is alone that day. You can be sure there is a large population of hurting hearts out there whose families and friends are either all gone, too far away, or just don’t care. Taking the time to visit someone will bless you both, plus you may make a new friend who changes your world, because most certainly your visit will change theirs. If you can’t find anyone, get a hold of me. Christmas has always been a challenge…

Merry Christmas 🙂

Painting

First, let me start off with this. If you say you love to paint, and the most you have done in the last few years is paint your nails or your face, you don’t “love” to paint….you love the idea of painting. I’ve said this because inevitably someone will comment to me that they don’t get my dislike of painting, because they of course love to paint. That being said, I don’t love to paint. I don’t even like to paint. Early on in our relationship my hubby found that the only proper way to hold a paintbrush (in my world) was in his hands, because he likes to paint. I suppose someone in our relationship had to, it’s our differences that make life interesting, or so we’ve heard.

So, with this in mind we headed out to our little shabin with a 5 gallon bucket of paint, 2 rollers, a paint brush and my husband’s promise of grabbing a roller and helping me paint as soon as he is done with cutting in around the edges. In retrospect who knew there were so many edges? I held on to this promise to the bitter end.

I don’t think he gets my dislike of this activity. It looks pretty straightforward. You put paint on a roller or brush and put it on a wall until there is no more on the brush or roller, and repeat. Perhaps my issue is it is so b.o.r.i.n.g. Perhaps it is because after approximately 10 seconds or so a loaded paint roller goes from weighing a couple pounds to feeling like I’m bench pressing 50 with one hand? Add to that the up and down motion, now we have entered a whole new arena of targeted exercise. My feet want to run away from this, my hand is in a permanent cramp around the handle, my arm is invested and can’t leave despite my muscles reminding me over and over the heaviest thing I’ve repetitively lifted in months is a fork.

To begin with, I evidently don’t know the right way to put a roller in a bucket, get paint on it, and roll it off on the thingy that you stick in the bucket that is expressly made for taking the paint you worked so hard to get on the roller, off. There is, I am told, a right way and the rest are wrong ways, to do this. I frankly don’t care. I have already decided I really don’t want to do this, and just how much do I really love my husband to take on this job so he doesn’t have to do the whole thing? Pushing those thoughts aside I stick the roller into the bucket and it promptly refuses to cooperate with me. It won’t roll in a circle so I can get the whole thing full of paint. I’m not sure why this isn’t working, the whole bucket is full of paint so it ought to be easy. Welcome to my uncoordinated world. At last I get paint on it, along with a lesson from my hubby on how to do it “right”, and I begin what turns out to be the longest three hours of my current life….I put the roller to the wall and began. Four rolls up and down the wall and the stupid roller is already empty. Maybe we should have sprayed the walls with some water, they are too thirsty! As I stood there contemplating I hear from across the room, “Is something wrong?” Nope. I’m just standing here fasting (despite the fact I just had lunch) and praying that someone else will swoop in and do this, or by some miracle it will get done by wishing. Part of me is going slow because, well, I hate to paint but I’m also hoping that he will get done with cutting in and grab that other roller.

To make a long story a bit longer, he finished cutting in after I was done painting. Despite all odds I managed to paint the entire room which I’m not giving dimensions on because in retrospect it is not very big….but it’s huge with a roller in hand and a bad attitude 😉

I reckon it’s that way in everything. Attitude makes all the difference between bench pressing 50 lbs. of paint on a wall, or making a wall beautiful and helping out someone you love.

He just mentioned it’s time to get going so we can give it a second coat. Who is this mysterious “we”? Ooops, there goes my attitude!

Colossians 3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”

Dear Mom,

I’ve been wanting to tell you a couple of things but haven’t taken the time to do so. First, I want to apologize. All those things I was angry at you for doing all those years ago, I’ve ended up doing the same things. I had no business judging you. I had no idea where you were coming from when you made those choices. I now understand. I also have a daughter who feels the same way about me as I did about you, and as I remember you felt the same way about your mom. How’s that for generational irony?

Today we drove past the entry to where you used to live and thoughts of you flooded into my mind. You sure loved that house and land, but I’m going to guess you love your new home so much more. How excited you were when I would come down for a couple of days. We’d discuss Bible verses and you’d always ask me hard questions, ones I didn’t always have answers for. Eating your fabulous potato salad (thank you for the recipe, by the way!), watching Tremors while eating slices of your favorite store bought treat, thawed out Boston Cream Pie. Listening to you make coffee in the morning before I got out of bed. Going 50 miles to the next biggest town and having lunch at the chinese restaurant which was a huge treat for you, since you never did drive. Amazing how much of our relationship has centered around food! I am so thankful for those memories.

As you can see from the picture, we went fishing at one of your favorite lakes. If I only got to eat what I caught today, I’d be fasting. My honey caught only a baby pike, so he’s going to be hungry too. You, on the other hand, are the most creative fisherwoman I have ever seen. Pop tops from cans to draw a fish’s attention, pieces of bologna from your sandwich, or chunks of other fish were the baits of choice….and it always worked! You have seemed to always outfish me. I think you felt you expected to, after all you are a commercial fisherman’s daughter and there is a reputation to uphold.

Today is your 82nd birthday, hard to believe how quickly time has passed. You’ve been gone a little over 10 years now, but in my heart you have never left at all. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Hug Jesus for me.

Love,

Faye

…And Just How Does That Make You Feel?

We went out to our little 40 acres of Tumbleweeds yesterday. I got out of the truck to unlatch the gate….which is attached at the moment to no fence. Yes, I know… There IS fence on three sides of our land, courtesy of the neighbor who wants to keep his cows over in his pasture, but on one whole side of our newly acquired property there is only falling down barbed wire fence, for the most part. So, a gate was called for because we thought we had it arranged with the neighbor to put up the fence in trade for stuff he wanted that we had. It’s been almost a year, so I’m thinking we need to put it up ourselves. But I regress. I struggled with the chain which had wedged in pretty good and thought maybe someone had trespassed once again, and messed up the chain. Because we all know that trespassers are law abiding and go through gates when there is no fence and they can just drive around it. Some days my thinking just amazes me 😉 Anyway, push the gate open and….there were truck tracks bold as brass down the hill and we did not make them. Oddly they headed up a hill to a power pole, then down a hill, then back up it towards the gate. True to form, I began to fume. What right did anyone have just coming in here and barreling all over the place?!! We make the payments on this land, and not for some honyack to use it at their leisure. What were they going to steal this time? Last time it was our trail cam, the previous fall. I grumbled and groused, as Mark followed the tracks to see what they were up to – conclusion of the moment, we had no idea at all. Then when I least expected it, the good Lord got a hold of my born again heart, and said, “That’s how I felt when you’ve allowed things you shouldn’t have inside the borders of the life I have given you.” All the times I have gone places I ought not to, did or said things I knew better than to, but still did them, and the list goes on. I let sin trespass in my life, deep wide tracks across the clean prairie of my spirit and body, and too often didn’t give it much more than a glance. How did that make me feel? Like I have a greater understanding of how He feels. It hurt knowing I had hurt Him so carelessly, not comprehending that I even made a dent in His thoughts. He made sure I know it now.

Oh, and the truck? By all the signs we saw on the way out someone’s cows got loose and ended up at our place. They were just retrieving them.

And that made me feel relieved.

Not Everything Is As It Seems

Not everything is as it seems at first glance.

This picture at a glance looks like some animal burrowed into the ground. From what you are seeing here it could be something as small as a ground squirrel or something much larger because pictures don’t always tell the whole story, the facts just aren’t available. It is a badger hole (as far as we know), and badgers are something we’re told to fear for their ferocity, long claws and sharp teeth. So….of course I had to get up close and take a picture. We made the assumption that Mr. Badger was buried deep in his den, sleeping because they are largely nocturnal, it was hotter than heck, cool in the ground, and he doesn’t have air conditioning. I get that, naps in the afternoon are awesome. We figured all that because we have Google and Google tells us a lot of stuff. Like they can live in packs up to 50, and have a network of tunnels so they can visit each other and have lunch together, stuff like that. What you don’t notice right away is if you’ll look on the upper left side of the hole there is a snake that appears to be on it’s back. Mr. Snake is covered in dirt, mud, we can’t see his head so therefore it must be gone. We can see that there is no rattle at the other end of him *whew*. The story we see is badger had some lunch and is leaving the leftovers for later while he sleeps….but that’s not really the story.

In fact further investigation tells us the truth. After shining a bright flashlight into the “den” (because of course we want to abruptly wake up someone who reputedly has a bad attitude and tools to back it up), it turns out to be only about a foot deep, not connected to any tunnels, and thankfully vacant. Theory number one tossed out for fact. Then, as my hubby took a shovel to lift the snake that he thought was upside down to see what kind it was, it took offense to that and slithered off quite quickly….head intact. Theory number two is now null.

I gained a little insight from this. First, I am one lucky person not to have met up with someone much shorter and much tougher than me. Secondly, some things are obvious (roadkill obviously was a vehicle meeting a non vehicle), and some are not. Third, unless I’m willing to do some investigating, or waiting and watching, I’ll probably never know for sure on anything. Next, not everything in my own life is as it seems. There are things ahead that are uncertain and take away the security I place in them, but if I were to know all the facts (which I don’t) I might find if let go of that security I will gain strength. Security in an insecure world always comes with a price, and usually that price makes you feel trapped. If I let go of “good” I can make room for “better”. And last but no less important, take badger and snake pictures from the cab of the truck until certain neither one is going to suddenly come alive right in front of you, nearly making certain bodily functions a reality.

Some Things Never Get Old

Another prairie sunset….they never get old.

Prairie sunsets, a baby giggling, puppies playing, the smell of rain, a cold glass of tea on a hot day, those things never get old. But some things do. That would be me. Ever have that one birthday that for some reason just seems to make you think about it more than normal? I seem to have one about every ten years or so. Maybe because I’m looking back and trying to see what I have or have not accomplished in life. Maybe because I’m looking forward and trying to figure out what I should be doing. Maybe I have no clue what I’m doing….yup, that’s the one 😉 I have achieved some wisdom, patience, and all that other stuff grownups are supposed to have, yet I find every day I’m still learning something new or the old lessons are getting upgraded. People my age (when I was a child) were pillars of strength, wise, knew really important stuff like “don’t put a knife in the electrical outlet because you’ll get shocked”, something that I had to learn on my own because I didn’t listen. Good thing I didn’t have didn’t have didn’t have any lasting effects from it. So, here I am, looking to make the best choices for the time left for me. Whether I have an hour or 40 more years, the hourglass sands are shifting downwards, in more ways than one!

I’ve picked up a few truths along the way that will travel with me to the end. One is, nothing is exactly as you remember it. I’ve often said there are three sides to a story, Your side, My side, and the truth. We all remember according to our feelings, not often from the facts.

Another one is we all need a “tribe” and traditions. When we isolate, which is pretty normal in this day of mass communication where everyone is talking to the text function or to the computer, but not people, we damage ourselves mentally and physically. Traditions are important too, and yes sometimes they have to change but yet still be celebrated.

Your job is NOT your primary reason for living. Unless you are in a very special place in your work eg. President of a mega corporation (and you likely aren’t reading my blog if you are) that job will step over your dead body before it is even cold in the search for someone to take your place. The people in your life who love and care for you are so much more important. Working yourself to death with the thought you are providing for them is dumb, especially since you don’t know when you will lose them. There is balance, learn how to achieve it. Priorities will need to change.

Last one for today is, everyone has a backstory. We all come from some point of reference that creates the behavior you see today. Give a little grace, it won’t hurt you to not say something negative about someone….and it’ll do your own spirit good.

Look for the blessings today. They are out there. Even better, share those blessings with others and be doubly blessed 😀 I’d sure love to hear about them!

The Choices That We Make or The Choices That Make Us

Which direction to go?

There was a lady I took care of several years ago, named Maria (not really, just made up the name but the lady is real.) Maria was a hispanic lady in her late 70’s who, by the time I entered the scene had several health issues that limited her ability to run her house on her own and to do much of her own personal care. I knew her from years before but not well, the next few years would change that in ways I did not dream possible. She was fastidious in her appearance. Never would she leave the house without her hair curled, her clothes immaculate with not a speck of lint or a wrinkle, her makeup applied. She was still a pretty lady but would grumble that since she got wrinkles, fat and looked old, nothing helped. Whenever she had a few extra dollars she would buy the latest youth cream that she might have received a flyer on or saw in one of “those” catalogs. Everyone, stranger and friend alike were welcomed into her home with open arms and, “Do you want some coffee? Are you hungry? It’ll only take a minute…..” Some of my best memories are of sitting with her when all the work was done and visiting, hearing her memories from the long life she had lived, many of the characters still alive and visiting from time to time, so I had a living history lesson. The things I knew about some of those folks, lol….. She would tell me that when she died she wanted me to do her hair and makeup because those people at the funeral home don’t know how to do it right for her. I promised her I would. If there was a funeral she would make sure something was made for the dinner, then head for the church, staying for several hours visiting with the family. She was as social as possible and as she said she missed the days when they were young and used to go to the dances, what fun those were!

What those who had not been let into her private world and shared thoughts did not know was she was married to a man who had been unfaithful early in their marriage and who swayed between being doting to being abusive, that one day they came home to find her oldest daughter, not yet 20, was dying from suicide and there was no time to get help and all they could do was helplessly let her go, that she felt her son didn’t visit nearly enough and that one daughter was picky about her parents care and the other only seemed to care for herself. Maria chose to stay with her husband despite the fact that until the very end that marital transgression was like a white elephant in the room, never very far from her and always colored the way they spoke to each other. She chose to love her children despite their ways that weren’t hers, with a fierceness as only a mother can. She ran her household, on my hands and legs for several years, to be exactly like she had always done it. Routine was important to her and should not be deviated from short of a catastrophe of some major sort.

Maria’s life was full of choices that she made and the choices that made her. She didn’t understand the why’s on much of it but simply trusted that God had a plan. She chose to stay with her husband despite his infidelity, and in her last years as his dementia became problematic and her own health problems grew worse. She chose to love her children no matter what, even if they did make her grumble sometimes. She chose to be the best version of the person she wanted to be despite how inconvenient it could be at times. The choices that made her, the loss of her daughter, her marriage, her health failing and her helplessness increasing over time also made her who she was.

We all have those things, no matter who we are. Choices that we make, and the choices that make us. Question is, wherever you are in your life, what will they make you? We have two ways to go I think, better or bitter. Maria chose better. I’m thankful I had her to learn from in those few years. She’s gone now and some days I wish with great wistfulness I could sit down with a cup of coffee and once more hear her telling me, “Did I tell you about…..?”

Dashed Hopes and The Eternal Optimist

Let me start by saying this, if you are looking at that bird on your computer and find yourself trying to take what looks like a white speck located in the center of the bird, off of your screen, don’t. It’s on the bird. Glad I have saved you from spending a bunch of time on what isn’t there. If I could only look at my disappointments the same way. For months and months and months (you get the idea) we have been dreaming and working on the piece of land we bought, the excitement of the future we could have out there. The one thing all of this hinged on was water. We needed to drill a well, which is hugely expensive and as we are located in an area that is, according to the neighbor, notorious for not having any water I of course relied on prayer, faith and belief combined with my usually optimistic and not always realistic attitude. Of course it was going to happen! I couldn’t have been more positive despite the odds.

And…I couldn’t have been more wrong. When the drillers came out on Monday to begin spending a lot of our money on every place they guessed might have a chance (in 40 acres, that can get expensive) of water, my hopes were ever so high. The driller shook my husband’s hand and introduced himself and his guys, and evidently I was invisible…not a word to me. Could be he needs glasses? Then he asked if the spot we were going to start on had been dowsed, I replied yes, I had done so. First and last time he actually took the time to talk to me personally, a droll look on his face he replied, “I don’t have much luck or faith in that.” After drilling ‘my’ chosen area I found he was right. No water. Two ego blows in a row, my poor pampered spirit was completely miffed. He chose the next two areas to try and guess what? He was wrong too. That did not make me feel any better at all, as a matter of fact it drove me into a full week of despair, disappointment, what-ifs, and worst of all, showed me just where my heart was when I don’t receive what I believe is mine to have. My face this week has been very much like the bird above, unfortunately.

This week I leaned very heavily on three of my friends (who are likely the only ones reading this anyway, thank you ladies 😉 ) They, in varying amounts, got to hear just how shaken my faith was. How my heart hurt so much at the loss of this dream. They listened as my guts fell out and being the kind of people they are, they never once told me I was making a mess. What they did tell me was God has a plan and a time for it. That’s something when you realize that these ladies don’t really know each other. Although I was certain His plan and mine were hand in hand, there is a pretty good chance I was grabbing His hand and trying to drag Him in my direction. They told me they didn’t have the answers but they were here for me, and they understood. They did what friends are supposed to do, and I learned that I can’t always be who I want others to see me as (preferably solid, and non weepy). Sometimes I falter, sometimes I am weak, and just sometimes I am the one that needs lifted, loved and cared for.

I learned a lot this week and I’m not going to lie, a good portion of it sucked beyond belief, but in it I know there were many lessons far beyond just the simple fact that we have not found water yet, (don’t tell my hubby I said that 😉 ) The ladies I shared my pain with also learned something….I can write really long messages, really long ones, rambling even, and thank heavens no one called me, that I can’t do 😉

Despite having my hopes dashed to pieces on the rocky shoreline of reality I will move forward. Get my weary, beaten butt back up into the saddle and head on into what is next, use faith as the horse that will get me where I’m going and quit trying to rein him in because I’m pretty sure he is barn sour and is going to head Home, eventually.

….and plant some trees. Yes, I know they need water.

Perspective is everything

Photography is something I love to do because it gives me a different perspective of the ‘normal’.

I’ve always appreciated whether it’s been in pictures or in everyday life is that perspective is everything.

What’s behind us in this photo is sunnier skies than what is ahead, and often we look at life the same way. Even though those same skies at some point were stormy before, they tend to look a lot sunnier in hindsight.

We weren’t designed to go backwards for any length of distance. Every time I have tried to, I find myself farther from where I want to go and on a road I have created to be way off track from the original. I might not know what is over the hill in front of me (actually I do in this case, it’s another hill 😉 lol), or what kind of weather I will encounter, but as long as I go forward and prepare the best I am able to I know in the end I will be ok. We’ve made it this far, haven’t we? But only by the grace of God….so make sure you take Jesus with you on this “life road trip”.