One of the things my family enjoys the most is vacationing every summer at Emerald Isle, NC. Sitting at the southern tip of the Outer Banks, it is a hidden treasure of beautiful beaches, only a few restaurants and shops, and hardly any rip currents. So riding the waves, even at my half century and beyond mark, is a beautiful thing. You can literally arrive at your oceanfront cottage, duplex, or home; plant your umbrella and beach towel in the sand and along with friends, family, and a good book; and be content and happy for your entire stay. To me, it’s about as close to heaven on earth as I can get.
Imagine my surprise when talking with my pastor in Massachusetts, he informed me that he thought we all would be working in heaven. His take—before Adam and Eve ate the apple opening the door for sin to enter, Adam was quite happily tilling the soil in the garden. It was work without the curse of sin. Hmmm…an interesting thought, and I do agree with him. But sitting on heaven’s beach surely could be good, too.
For me, writing, whether it’s a children’s book or a blog, is my work. And even though it gives me great pleasure and is also what I’m supposed to be doing at this juncture in my life, sometimes it’s the very last thing I want to do. Not only are the “what-I want to do’s” and the “need-to-do’s” daily calling, but when the gorgeous, less humid days of early autumn, of God’s beautiful creation, beckon me to come out and play, the tug-of-war inside is almost too much. Almost. Because as enticing as it all is—especially with those “what-I-want-to-do” tendencies pulling me—like a kid in a candy store, to indulge first here and then there, at the end of the day the sugar rush of satisfying my whims often leaves me wanting and even anxious. Continue reading
Today is my oldest son’s wedding anniversary. As memories of that day flash through my mind, much like a series of snapshots, one second there and the next one gone, I once again find myself in the middle of many reminiscences. Happiness and tears, nervousness and calm, seeing old friends I hadn’t seen in years—it’s all so wonderful to think back on—even those things that happened that were of the unexpected. Continue reading
Have you ever seen the sweet commercial of the overworked mom who keeps responding to her family, either their situations or their messes with the question of “What/How?” Sometimes, it’s a “what” as in, “What’s going on?” or “How did this happen?” Other times though, it is the more encouraging, “How did it go?” But written between the scenes of the never ending treadmill of the day-in, day-out exhaustion is a deep caring that goes beyond her words.¹
I remember experiencing all of that with my children and now that they are parents, I see it in their faces as they are raising their own. My granddaughter, sweet Lucy, only seven months old, is already full of gusto and a go-get-them outlook on life. She happily embraces whatever is in front of her—without even the slightest hint of a care, giving it all she’s got.
And my grandson, Henry, almost 3 is the professor. Analytical, methodical, verbal beyond belief, and oh-so-very-precise—he studies things before he jumps in. I keep telling my children, their parents, they’d better put on their running shoes now and be prepared to leave them on a good long time as they will be forever catching up to these two. Each day that I get to be with Henry or Lucy, I look with happy anticipation to see what they will do next. Watching glimpses of who they are, of who they will be, as their personalities peek through more and more, gives me such delight. And I can’t imagine saying to them one day, “For you to be happy and fulfilled, you need to find your purpose in life.”
Mordor from Lord of the Rings
The world seems to be doing back flips, almost walking upside down. Things that even ten years ago were deemed unacceptable, that would be appalling to think about, are now the norm. Without blinking an eye, we listen to the overnight news of one shooting here, another one over there. People’s lives are lost for no reason, and while on the outside, we hardly flinch, inside, I think a little of us dies right along with them when they do. Worn-out and harried with a “why even bother’ heart, we throw our helpless hands in the air, shrug our emotional shoulders and walk away in hushed defeat. Continue reading
When I was in the second grade there was a girl, pink-faced and pugged-nosed, with permed, tight, blonde curls who chewed up a ring a little boy had given me. The story—my daddy wouldn’t let me keep the gift from the young man because he thought I was much too young to receive such a present. But when I returned it, my sweet suitor, crushed with disappointment, gave it to the first person he saw. I’ll never forget her standing in front of me chewing on that ring. It broke my heart. To this day, I can’t think of her without that horrific picture in my mind. And when it came time to name my daughter, that little girl’s name was certainly not on my list.
When I saw her post on Facebook, it made me smile. Showing love, respect, and a closeness filled with admiration, it was one of the sweetest Father’s Day tributes I had ever read. Along with a photo of her dad grinning at her and she at him, were these words, “…I love that we have the same laugh wrinkles and I promise to never Botox them away.”*
Lingering in my mind and my heart ever since, I’ve often thought on these words, because, while I loved my dad and knew he loved me—we would often laugh and joke with each other over a late night bowl of Cheerios—he had a hard time showing any type of affection, of telling me he cared. Maybe it was because he never learned from his dad—a sharecropper during the Great Depression, spent with the burden of caring for a family of eight—how to show outward signs of tenderness. Or maybe, as a 5-foot, 5-inch short Master Sergeant in the Air Force, he put on a forced gruffness in commanding his men, that he often forgot to take off when he came home. Perhaps though, he was just worn out from running two separate businesses so that he could, “put a roof over our heads and food in our mouths”—what I thought was his true love language, at least, until recently.
My dad and me
I don’t often remember my dreams, but this past Tuesday morning when coming back to consciousness, for I do sleep hard and deep, I had one of those split-second strange ones—the kind that seems to almost jolt you from drowsiness into fully-throttled awake.
In my dream, my left hand was holding a pen as if ready to write, but what followed, what caused me to gasp in my sleep, was I watched the pen being lifted from my hand. My first thought upon awakening, “Oh no, Lord. Please don’t take writing away from me. Yes, I grouse, whine, and get stressed when a deadline is ahead, but please don’t take it away.”
I wondered when it would happen, because we all knew it would someday—Downton Abbey first season reruns are back. I just happened to be flipping through channels this past Saturday night, and there it was. Mesmerized as if I had never seen it before, I sat down to once again be caught in the world of the Ladies Mary, Edith, Sybil, that of Robert, the Earl, and Cora, the Countess of Grantham, and of course, the Grand Dowager played by Maggie Smith, but also the lives of the servants, Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and Mrs. Patmore, to name just a few. But what was shocking to me was how different everyone looked in a measly five year period. In season one, Lady Mary had a softer roundness to her face than she did in the last episode of the last season. The Grand Dowager and Cora were both visibly older. Carson revealed, in a life so far removed from that of a head butler, that he had been a performer in a circus-like act. And the conniving, despicable character of Thomas that no one really cared for when Downton Abbey began, was so miraculously transformed, that by the end of the show’s run, everyone was rooting for and loved the man he had become. What a difference five years can make.
And what a difference that can be in our own lives, too. Just think about when you see a fresh photo of yourself. We often think how awful we look, but seeing that same picture even just a few years later we think, “I didn’t look that bad. In fact, I looked pretty dog-gone gooood.” Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the growing number of laugh-lines, smile lines, and turkey neck syndrome can equally make us think, “Oh my! WHAT a difference five years can make.” Continue reading
I’ve often said in jest, but somewhat seriously also, that one of the blessings of getting older is your vision starts to go.
Now you might think that an odd thing to think, but in many ways not being able to see all those wrinkles daily taking over your face, is a blessing. That is, until you get your hands on a magnifying mirror and “Wowzer!” The reality that time has passed—years, maybe even millennia—is clearly evident. But you know, I would rather have a clear picture of what I look like—wrinkles and all—than run around thinking I look pretty good when, actually, broccoli has taken up temporary residence between my two front teeth.
And I feel that way about my heart also.
Summertime is the time for travel, and good music always makes the road trip better. Whether it’s Classical or Contemporary, Country or Pop, the tunes that rock can make your day. At any given moment, they can lift you to new heights or bring you to tears, make you think, or let you escape what you face in the ordinary of everyday. Continue reading