"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Inside the Frame

I ran frazzled and harried out the front door. It was 5:00 am, still dark and I was running a bit late. I was tired from not enough sleep and from working too many hours.

So it was when we first opened our bookstore and coffee shop. I was also just learning how to be a business women. Stress was a part of my everyday life back then.
My son would sense when I was having a bad morning – it was probably easy to figure out – but on certain mornings, somehow he would sneak out to my car and put in my favorite CD by my favorite artist to the exact beginning of my favorite song.  I think I have written about that before. It meant a lot to me. I don’t know what it was about that song, but when it came on the CD player, I relaxed instantly. Every time he did it, it would catch me off guard. I never learned to expect it, but when I needed it most, it was just there. It is now one of my favorite memories of that time. That memory exemplifies who my son is. It was such a thoughtful thing to do. Granted, it was probably for his benefit, as well. ;-) But often times I would be brought to tears at that simple action that gave me the opportunity to unwind and relax on the drive into our store.

Well, 8 years later, that artist has a new CD that has just been released. And he has on that CD another song that affects me the exact same way. It is my new favorite song. The first time I heard it, it was because my son played it for me. He knew I would love it, and we have always shared the songs we love. I cried when I heard it. Well, I cried when I heard another song on the same CD when he played that one for me too. I just love the artistry and poetry of this man’s lyrics. I love his commitment to traditional country. On the CD he promises to "keep it country" and he surely did. The entire CD is awesome. In the pull away from traditional country which we are seeing these days, I really appreciate that this singer/songwriter stayed true to his roots.
Below is a video of the song for you to listen to if you like. I wish there were an official video. There isn’t, so far. But I will also print the lyrics here for you to read. They are too beautiful to miss!  Just don’t forget to listen to the song, if you can. I bet it will have the same effect on you, that it does me! How can one not love Alan Jackson?

Anyway, I love looking back to this memory with my son. Things were not always perfect back then at that time. We struggled, and we worked hard. One thing I know, (and I don’t always do this) but from that time, I'm pretty sure I learned to “see the beauty inside the frame”. And that gives me hope that I will do that again when I am in the midst of uncomfortable trials. At least I pray so.

When God Paints
By Alan Jackson

When God paints, birds sing
He colors every feather on a sparrow's wings
When God paints, the wind blows
With a stroke of love, He dips his brush in the rainbow

Sometimes I take for granted the simple things
I can be His biggest critic when it starts to rain
But there's always a bigger picture I can't explain

When God paints, the heart beats
Life begins, season ends and lovers meet
And I've learned that sometimes
It's not always black and white but well defined
When God paints

Sometimes I take for granted the simple things
I can be His biggest critic when it starts to rain
But there's always a bigger picture I can't explain

When God paints, we dance
And I reach across the canvas and I take your hand
And my world is so complete
When I look at you, a masterpiece is all I see
When God paints

Sometimes I take for granted the simple things
I can be His biggest critic when it starts to rain
But there's always a bigger picture I can't explain

When God paints
I pray I always see the beauty inside the frame
When God paints

Saturday, August 15, 2015

He Begged Me Not To Go

Ahhhh, Saturday! I have especially been looking forward to this one. It has been a hard couple of weeks. Well, months really. But this week, I have again been gone from my home for 8 to 10 hours every day. Yeah, yeah, I know people do that all the time for their jobs and to make a living. But there is a difference; I don't wanna be gone and I don't get paid! Besides, we aren't talking about "people". We are talking about me. ;-)

Anyway, I woke early as is my norm. I proceeded with my morning routine, with nothing out of the ordinary taking place. Bubby went out; Bella came in - each of them happy and content. I made coffee, went out to feed the horses; came back in and read a bit. But when I went to the bathroom to shower and dress, my beagle feared the worst: Mama was leaving again.

When I sat down on the couch to put my shoes on, the whining began. He would not relent. He nuzzled me and tried to climb on my lap. When his aging body wouldn't let him and my aging body could not pick him up, the whining began again. I hugged him and petted him trying my best to comfort him.

"What's wrong, Bullet? I'm not going anywhere. We are staying home today. Together." He didn't believe me. He continued to try to get in my lap.

"Let's go outside, Bubby. I'm just going out to spend some time with the horses. You come with me."

On Watch
When he saw me pick up my keys to head out the door, he panicked. He lectured me in his deepest baritone.

"OOOOOOOWWWWWOOOOOOOOOHHH."  He cried...again and again.

It's ok! I told him, as if a beagle could understand. I only going out to unlock the gate for the farrier. You come with me."

And out we went. He watched me from the yard as I spent some time with my ponies. Bella romped in excited glee. The horses laughed at the canines.

When I came back in the house, Bullet eagerly followed me. As I laid my keys on the table, he visually relaxed, finally understanding and fully believing Mama wasn't going anywhere. At least not today.

He begged me not to go, and happily and thankfully, I complied. I have a beagle at my feet as I write and for now, we have a home day - together.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Good Place to Be

Weddings have been a big part of our summer. I have lost count of how many we have attended. Well, if I stopped to think about it I suppose I could figure it out. ;-) I love weddings. They are a special part of life and one of the things that bring a spark and joy to our days.

I suppose there have been many special and unique moments from each of the weddings we have attended. But none gave me pause like the one we attended last night. None had a moment that inspired me to write. The wedding last night most certainly did.

Throughout the reception, as is the norm, the Best Man gave a speech, the Maid of Honor spoke and we heard the thoughts of a guest speaker that was close to the bride. I think the Father of the Bride also said a few words. All were very meaningful and the Best Man’s speech was especially entertaining. One could tell each that spoke had deep love for the couple.

Also, as is the norm, there was a good deal of poking fun at the groom. The Best Man was hilarious. The bride’s special friend was very funny too. He was also very emotional as he spoke which was incredibly touching. But warn and poke fun at the groom he did. He is a triple black belt (or something like that) and he was a member of military Special Forces for 32 years. It was hilarious when he told the groom, if he ever hurt the bride, he would find him and take him out…or something equivalent to that.

I laughed and enjoyed every moment. I hadn’t given any of it too much thought, having come to expect this kind of banter toward the groom at most weddings I have attended. It is all in fun. And most grooms have come to expect it and they take it very well, laughing and nodding their heads in earnest agreement. They also want to protect their bride! It is what they have been taught to do and this is the woman they love; most, more than life itself.

But I wanted to stand and cheer when the Bride’s mama stood to say a few words. It was obviously unplanned, and she later told me that she felt it was the Lord that prompted her to do it. I believe her. I felt the Lord in her words. Below is a pretty close paraphrase of what she said:

“It seems like we have been doing a pretty good job of roasting [the groom],” she stated. We have poked a lot of fun at him. But I just want to say a few words on his behalf since no one else has.” And she proceeded to say some of the things that she so appreciated about this young man and the reason why she is so thankful he had come into her daughter’s life.

It was beyond beautiful. And it struck a chord with me that hit deep. I have long believed our men go largely unappreciated in today’s society. They are mocked and distrusted and even belittled. I remember years ago, upon the beginning of the women’s lib movement, my dad taught me the harm this would bring to our society. My dad, (who has 3 daughters and one son) pointed out the belittling of daddies and men that was taking place on television and in the movies. He was absolutely correct and pointed out several examples. Thirty years later or so, James Dobson caught up with my dad and said the same thing. I took it to heart. I had written about this subject in the book I wrote about my dad. And I knew these two men observed something important and were trying to impart truth.

Since that time, I have watched with concern the world’s way gaining place in the Christian community. We have worried so much about our daughters, we have neglected our sons. Oh sure, we have taught our sons to treat women like the Bible instructs us, but I believe we have protected our daughters to a place that we have failed to teach them the respect due our men and sons. We are quick to point out God instructs the man to leave his father and mother, but we fail to point out the same is true for our daughters. I had noted the pastor of this bride and groom did a good job of pointing out the roles of each during the ceremony. I was impressed. But too often the words and even the Scripture go unheard and we choose the world’s way, instead. 

This wedding and this special mama of the bride spoke words that washed all of that concern away from me - if only for the moment. I could not have been more proud of this mom. And I am pretty sure I was the first to clap and woot when she finished her words. A pastor’s daughter sitting next to me just as quickly joined me.

"This needed to be said," I commented to the young woman when I saw her join my cheers.

"Yes, and it needed to be said by a woman," my intuitive new friend responded.

Many of us were in agreement that our sons have been neglected. Some do understand men are to be respected and encouraged in their endeavor to provide for, decide for, and protect their families. That is no easy task and can only be done properly when following God’s instruction and direction.

Our young women need to offer support for the man they choose. The Bible tells us they are to act as a helpmeet to their spouse as planned by God. They need to be proud and excited to take a new name and join a new family. I wish I could remember the way a friend of mine explained it not too long ago. She was thoughtful in her observations and eloquent in her words, as she spoke of the place a man should have in a wife's heart. I do not have that eloquence.

Further, each family should embrace the new member with love and acceptance. Obedience to God’s word is key. Only then, will both find true happiness and be a part of a union that works. The pendulum does swing in our community, and I think it is time to come back to where God actually intended us to be.

God uses marriage in a symbolic measure of His love and plan for us. The church – His bride. He loved His bride enough to die. But then what is the bride to do? And no, I am not saying the bride should worship her groom. But love, honor and obey is a good place for her to be…for her own benefit and the benefit of her someday family.

Something to think about, anyway.

Monday, August 3, 2015

When the Mourning is Over

I never thought I would say this, but I think I am ready to sell our home. I am old and it has simply become too much. There is no joy. There is too much distracting me from it. I am doing it all alone and nothing is getting done.

This summer has been a literal curse and it has been brutal. I have hated every minute of it. No rain, no help, no flowers, no grass, no life, no bluebirds and the meadow larks are long gone. There has only been death and grasshoppers, dead grass, bees and snakes. NO JOY!
I have been in pain for 24/7 since March. And why? Because the only thing we can grow is boulders. I am tired of hurting. I am tired of having to run to town when my home decays all around me. I have peaked. I’m out.
My son will be moving on soon. And that is as it should be. He needs to establish his own life, build his own home. He needs to prepare financially to make the right decisions for his someday family. And that is exactly what he is doing. I could not be more proud. There are not many 22 year old men that are making the wise decisions he is making. There are not many men his age that have put so much direction into his career, believing he is following God’s calling - His mission. I could not be more proud. I want to shout it from the roof tops all of his accomplishments. He is to be commended and supported. I will support him with my very last breath. He has done things right.
But at the same time, I am already missing his presence. I cry to think that he will not be coming home here from his job, or waking up to say “Good morning, how did you sleep?” But that’s ok. It is as it should be and I would never hold him back or want it any other way. He is to leave his mother and father; and just as importantly his parents are to let him. We will share in his joy. I will NOT be distracted from his joy and accomplishments.
At the same time, the changes in his life, and the blasted curse of a summer we have had, has made me realize it may be time for a change in my life as well. My husband works hard, and he does not have time to care for 10 acres when he has a day off. We somehow have become old. The whole reason for our home has been for our son. To give him the kind of life we chose for him. I had hoped to have a place from his childhood that he could someday bring his kids to share his fond memories. A place to come back to. But I am just not sure I can hold on...to this one, at least.
I cannot bend over to tend to my garden, it has laid to waste. I cannot ride my horse, I can no longer clean the stalls. Today, I thought I would finally get to the lawn, but I have not enough strength to start the mower. Yep! I’m angry at my inability! So I decided to come in and write and whine. Shed a few tears of discouragement, disappointment and frustration…and write and whine some more. It hurts to walk and push the mower, anyway!
And yes, I am going to post this! No one has to read it! No one likes complaining, but I feel the need to vent.
I have watered until I am blue in the face, and yet it has not been enough. It is as dry after as if I had never watered.
Sidetrack - You know how the flies get in August? All lethargic, but just spinning, spinning, spinning and they just won’t land so you can kill them. They have been that way since June. And there is one spinning around me that I just can’t kill. He is making himself a nuisance as I type – a crummy reminder of this entire no-good-for-nothing, lousy summer. I hate flies. Usually they don’t last long in my house. I can’t get this one. He has landed on my head, on my hand, and buzzed around and around tormenting me.  - End Sidetrack
Someone gave me a beautiful grape plant. Someone I love. Brought it to me all the way from Seattle and kept it for me for the week he spent on vacation in Montana, because we missed each the first time through. He cared for it and kept it healthy. After he gave it to me, I put it on my deck to plant it a bit later, but in my crazy life of run, run, run, I forgot to water it and now it is barely hanging on with a thread. How could I do that to a gift I cherish!!!!! Because I barely have a brain left!! That’s how!
Symbolically - My Life
My windows need washing, I can’t get to it.  The dump pile my husband continues to make, which I have continually tried to clear to make the entrance to the house look better, has now become the dump pile he has always wanted. I can’t clear it any more. The neighbors are mean. The dogs old. It is time to give up.
There have been no quiet moments in the yard, no evenings or mornings on the porch. No star filled night sky, no barbeques. No rides in the woods, no company, no peace, no joy. Only time to put out the most current fire and the next and the next and the next. And in passing, I watch with concern the conflicts placed on those I love the most, with an inability to make anything better.
I will never move to the city. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Never say never”!!!!! WHATEVER!!!! Somewhere there is a place for us - for our next home. I got a clue this morning that my husband is thinking this way too. "Somewhere without acreage!!" he said. Maybe that float home my son found. Ha! We have somehow become old before our time.
We will move somewhere that I never have to see Highway 95 again!! Somewhere I don’t have to look out to failed pasture, and dried up lawn eaten up further by a plague of grasshoppers. Somewhere where I can give up and give in and simply settle for next best because our dreams no longer have place. Time to find a new dream. I know I will when the mourning is over. Time is all.
Going to the shower to sing the Doxology…and I will come out refreshed...just in time to tackle 95.



Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Little Red Table

“Go get the little red table.” The words came back to me as soon as I saw it. Without being weird, it is like the table spoke them to me – figuratively, anyway.

I am not sure why it caught my eye. Perhaps someone mentioned it; perhaps it just clicked when I finally looked past the items that were sitting on it. I really don’t remember. I simply remember when I saw it, those six words came back to me, and I exclaimed, “That’s mine!”

Just as quickly, I gathered myself together and appropriately asked my mom, “Is that the little red table? Can I have that?”

“Put a sold sign on it,” she just as quickly replied.

We were having a family garage sale. The location was my folks’ house - the home where I grew up. But several family members brought items to sell. It probably wasn’t the best weekend to schedule a sale, with the 100 degree heat and all the other activities going on in our community, but schedule it we did. With summer running short, and busy weekends slated ahead of this one, I felt like it was a "now or never" kind of thing.

It was fairly successful. Everyone sold something and made a little money. But the success of family time spent together was even more significant. My folks seemed to thoroughly enjoy it; and though I worried about them spending too much time in the heat, they really wanted to be out there with us.

We visited with our “shoppers” that stopped to see our wares; we arranged and dickered, and second-guessed ourselves. But most importantly we shared memories, and talked about things that were meaningful to us. A certain item might have sparked a memory in one that the other sibling had totally forgotten.

My oldest sis placed a claim on a thermos that she remembered Dad using for both work and recreation for years. When I asked him if he was ready to "Goodwill it", he said no. He still had some use to get out of it…maybe when he went Steelhead fishing this fall.

“When he is done with it, I would like it”, my sister told me. I put a label with her name on the bottom of it, so no one would forget.

We all remembered playing our records on the stereo that had long been stored away in the basement. My oldest sis mentioned the hours and hours of playing her records while the folks weren't home.  I remembered hiding the “rock and roll” from Dad, while the little sis, remembered sitting on the stereo consul in front of the living room window for hours as it was the best vantage point for seeing what was taking place outside. (I assume, anyway.) Even as I write, I remember Frankie Laine's Cry of the Wild Goose and Johnny Horton's Whispering Pines as a few of our favorites that would spin over and over. Everyone was thrilled when my son bought the consul for his new home. It would stay in the family.

What most struck a chord with me was "the little red table". It wasn’t even as much the table that I desired as it was the words that accompanied it. “Go get the little red table.” I don’t know how many times I heard that refrain as a child growing up. I don’t even remember what it was we were “getting it” for. I think we used it for an extra place to eat as a child, when company came. I assume we used it to set up our brand new record player that dad brought home for us when Chubby Checkers was popular. I’m pretty sure I colored on it, and probably played “school”. Maybe I played Barbie dolls on it. I don’t know. I just remember my mom saying, “Go get the little red table.” And I’m sure from time to time it was a sibling that said those six words when it was time to play Monopoly or Clue.

I need to have my mom refresh my memory about the history of the table. I know it originally had at least one chair that went with it. I remember the little chair as plain as day, too, but I am not sure what happened to it. I think it had been welded a time or two as a repair. The table and chair were metal and when we were kids it was a worn red color. You see, the table was even old when we used it. It used to be my Uncle Jerry’s – my mom’s youngest brother. Uncle Jerry has since passed, but I suppose he would be around 80 years old by now, had he lived.

I got the biggest kick when I got home from the yard sale and heard my son say, “I put the little red table in the trunk of your car; I will bring it into the house for you.” I smiled. His words were music to my ears, because the table is no longer red, it’s black. But some names simply remain, as they should and I love that. Somewhere along the line, the little red table got painted black. Will it stay black now, or will I repaint it red? I don’t know. It wouldn’t be the exact same red, if I painted it; and the black is now part of its life history.  I suppose my folks used it for a variety of things after we kids, were long gone from our home. Who knows how many decades it has been stored away in the folks’ basement, waiting just for this moment when someone would place a claim! I just happen to be the lucky one.

But I hope my siblings know I will share should they ever feel like they want to experience the memory, too. All’s they have to do is tell me: “Go get the little red table.” And I will oblige…at least so they can play on it for a little while.

Yes, I have a problem with "letting go".