Land of the Cleve and the Home of the Exhausted

As anyone should do, I took some much needed time off of work last week. Yes, I work part-time but one still needs to get away. And, just what did I do with all my free time? Well, come in really close and I’ll tell you…

I spent about 3 full days taking down wall paper border in two rooms. The 90s called and demanded I get with the times! Or perhaps one of our daughters demanded…I cannot say.

Two rooms with textured walls. Textured, did I mention that? And, back in the 90s a friend and I thought it a good idea to put EXTRA PASTE on said borders so it wouldn’t fall down. [we will now pause for a moment of silence as we remember how young and dumb we were.] Just say no to wallpaper, kids.

I am so very thankful I had the gumption to only put up borders when I was young and dumb. Wallpaper from floor to ceiling would have had me tearing down the walls and putting up new non-wallpapered walls. Oh my stars. I’m waiting until the fall, when windows can remain open, to paint. Paint fumes and I do not enjoy each other’s company.

I had a day to recuperate and then it was packing for our trip to the big city…Cleveland. My husband has successfully turned two out of three children into baseball fans. Since I would just people watch – which would lead to me getting hit with a baseball, in the head, have a brain bleed and die…yes, that escalated quickly – I decided to save us all that money and mourning period and stay back at the hotel.

Hotel. Oh, you fickle hotel. And, I haven’t mentioned it would not be a family (minus the one who just got back from an overseas vacation so don’t feel sorry for that one) vacation if we didn’t have issues. Let’s just say our room was a bit wet because the air conditioner was not working, therefore not removing humidity, and no other rooms available. Pool? Why yes, it did have a pool but the roof collapsed over the pool from a leak and therefore not open for use. By the time we left, the air was fixed and they discounted our room.

So, if you are keeping score, the Indians lost but it was dollar dog night and free sunglasses night so all is almost right with the world; our room was damp and our hairs frizzed but we got a discount!

The next day we, country bumpkins, explored downtown. Cleveland has three script “Cleveland” signs so we decided to go to the sign by the harbor. And, just our luck, and after we paid way too much dollars for parking, we discovered there was an all-day festival with parade, of course, at the same harbor. Yup, we know how to pick ’em.

At first we were all like, “We’ll just ‘bust’ through the crowds and get pictures with the sign and ‘bust’ back through to get out.” Oh, our silly, naive, little minds. We did see the sign, from afar, and noted the people and all the white tents around the sign and said a collective, “Nope!” and turned around.

We had tickets for an observation deck in one of the tall buildings. I asked the son how far the building was, because we were not going to pay way too much dollars at the parking garage just to move it 5 minutes later. Son said, “Not too far. We can walk there.” Ummmm, son?! Thirty minutes later, a bird scare, a few stops for pictures of building because nothing says tourist like whipping out a camera to take pictures of buildings, a walk through some fish-smelling water from a fire hydrant flush, we made it to the building. The sights from the observation deck were worth the walk.

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We walked around another 3 to 4 hours going to various places before I was like, “Just remember, we have to walk allllllll the way back to the parking garage.” Most of us were a bit red from the sun (it was a gorgeous day) and two out of four of us were trying to act like our aging hips and legs were not about to cry uncle and give out on us. But, I’ll let you imagine who those two could have been…

And the script sign? I’m so glad you asked. I was NOT going to leave Cleveland until I had a picture of that sign. And, it had better live up to my expectations! Thanks to GPS and the son, we got to the other park. Except it wasn’t at the part of the park we thought it was located. So, after google searching “where is the script Cleveland sign” we were on the road again and finally found it. And, yes, I was still happy.

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View of the skyline from the park. Patience, Grasshopper, picture of script sign from harbor below.

And the harbor? Well, we did go back the next day (free parking–you would have thought by our reaction it was Christmas!) to take pictures so all was well in the world.

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Overall, a wonderful trip; the memories and laughter sure overrode the small glitches. And, the night we arrived home, I may or may not have gone to bed at 8:30 and was still tired the next day. That is a sign of an awesome trip, right?!

Now, to you I say, “I’m so proud of you and thanks!” Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. You actually stuck with me and are reading this last paragraph. Give yourself (since there is probably only one of you who is still here) a big hug! Until next time…

Rubbing Off The Good

Going outside to fill the water bowl with fresh, cool water on this warm day, our dog ran to me like his life depended on it. I soon saw the flies. Those pesky flies swarming on and around him.

This year has been a bad one for flies bothering him so I got out the dog-safe bug spray. With the spray bottle behind my back I held on to his collar and began to spritz a small amount to his back. I released him knowing what would happen next.

His reaction is the same each time, run, dive to the ground, roll and rub the ground as if I just sprayed a deadly potion. Over and over again. Then, running to the evergreen trees as if the branches will magically remove what I just sprayed on.

The spray helps to keep the fly at bay. However, he doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Five minutes later I look outside to find his get-this-death-spray-off-of-me routine still in high gear. No matter how many times I try to convince him it is okay and it will help the fly situation, he still tries to get the “good” off his back.

If dogs were capable of hindsight, I’m sure he’d realize I wasn’t trying to kill him…only help him.

And, isn’t that like we humans. Change comes along. It’s not like it use to be or it is hard and we want to go back. Back like it used to be. Back where it was more comfortable. Back to where we knew how to deal with what life threw at us even if it was toxic and change needed to happen.

It reminds me of the Israelites grumbling to go back to Egypt. Back to Egypt where they were slaves. “At least” in Egypt they had all the food they wanted but in the desert–not so much. (Exodus 16) They were tired. They were hungry. They couldn’t see past their stomachs and realize they were free. Yet, they cried to go back…back to Egypt and slavery.

Yet, God supplied their needs. The Israelites, in their human minds, thought their time in the desert would look a different way. I bet if they were dogs, the whole lot of them would have rolled on the ground trying to rub off the “good” they just couldn’t see as good.

May I not grumble and complain (oh that is a tall order, isn’t it?) like the Israelites. May I remember God is God and I am not.

Looking Through a Curtain

I slid the curtain letting the early morning light filter in the room; the sun just beginning to rise over the woods. My mind, still slow from just awakening, wondering if the curtain should be slid closed to keep the sun from warming up the room.

My hand rested on the curtain as I calculated how long until the rising sun reached the dark, looming, yet beautifully colored dark cloud. The sun would no longer pose a threat to my feeble attempts at keeping the room from heating up during the heatwave. Yet, the sun’s brightness would not fill my little corner of the earth if the cloud won.

Brightness which seems to make one feel all is right in the world. Brightness to see the beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds.

Yet, brightness to warm up the already warm, humid weather making it extremely difficult for those who labor in the sun.

That is when it struck me–me in all my fickleness.

I ride along enjoying life when it is going the way I want it (sun). The minute life throws rocks (I’m past lemons) at me, I get angry, hurt, cry the “it’s not fair” card (cloud). Yet, as the saying goes, the sun is always there no matter what is hiding it.

My perspective is not everyone’s. Some enjoy the cloudiness of life. Their perspective is different than mine. Some find it as just another bump in the road with a new problem to solve. They take it in stride instead of my dramatic (that hurt to admit) responses.

Perspective.

Shortly after this too-early-in-the-morning thought, I turned to Psalm 100 because sometimes I just need to be reminded…

Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Let’s Talk Tuesday

I so just made up that title on the fly. Now I’m wondering if this could be a start of a “thing”. Because Tuesday is the new Monday. Or something like that. I should probably Google that title because some people get a wee bit crazy over titles and copyrights and all that jazz. I’ll do that another day…read that as I won’t and say I did.

Tonight, lets talk about TV shows. More specifically So You Think You Can Dance. I know, right?! Pirouette if you are excited about this season which appears on television sets everywhere on June 12? I see a few of you spinning like a top out there…

I am really looking forward to this season of SYTYCD (and don’t write me on the inappropriate moves and clothing. I’m old, give me one last joy on this earth.) Last season, well, if I am honest, which I am to a fault, I was disappointed. Last season was only for children. Yes, I know, cute as a button children and talented beyond belief but something was missing. So, as you can tell I am super excited.

Why am I gushing over SYTYCD? Art. Dance is art. Art is dance. (okay, just making things up as I go but you get the picture) Certain dances move me. Put the right amount of emotion, connection and moves to a song and you had me at the first spinning note. Dance can speak volumes when done tastefully. Let’s not talk about when I’m confused as to what that dance was “about”. Let’s focus on the good.

Home Town on HGTV. Let me hear the hammers pound if you discovered this Fixer Upper look-a-like. Let me say this, as much as I love my TV best friends, Chip and Jo-Jo, Ben and Erin Napier (Home Town hosts) are so stinking cute! I prefer Joanna’s decorating style as Erin’s is a bit too cluttered for my taste but it is still super cute. So, if you have a chance and can find someone who has cable, dish or whatever it is people have nowadays and invite yourself over, do it. So worth it.

Have I told you lately how much I love the book, Start With Amen by Beth Guckenberger? No, well I do! Seriously, it is such a wonderful book filled with so much truth. I’m on my second reading and learning so much. If you didn’t read my gushing on here last month, read it here.

Well, I could go on and on but I will spare you. If I start a regular “thing” like this on Tuesdays, what do you want to hear me babble about…I mean, really. Books, recipes, pet-peeves from the mart of wall . . . ? Let me know in the comments! This could get very interesting.

Have a great night!

 

 

Time

When I moved to this little corner of the bloggy-world, I told myself, “Self, you will write on this blog at least once a week.”

Yeah, about that.

Is it me or has this thing we call time kicked into hyper-gear? It feels like someone has yelled, “Turbo boost, K.I.T.T.!” as I’m hanging on with all my might.

I cannot believe I just used a video of Knight Rider as a reference. What is happening to me?!?!?!

Time has a way of flying. Growing up, I was told, “The older you get the fast time flies.” I hate to admit that nugget of wisdom is true. We are all getting older by the minute. (sorry if you didn’t know that but, alas, it is true because SCIENCE)

And, I’m not sure how this post has made such a drastic turn toward aging. Because WRINKLES. So, let’s all pretend I didn’t write this. Yes, I could do the obvious and delete all these words but that would require more work on my part and you know I am getting older by the minute and therefore I should conserve my energy and do more constructive things like write this terribly long run-on sentence. My elementary English teachers will be proud.

Hey, I am so glad you stuck around to read this nonsensical post. I promise my next post won’t be so all over the place. I promise.

Have a great day! And, avoid aging. And, wrinkles. And, grey hair. And, K.I.T.T.

The Unfinished Quilt

Eighteen years. Eighteen years without my mom.

Yet, pieces of her live on. I see a few of her features in a couple of our children. I see her in pictures scattered here and there. I see her hands when I look at mine. When I see the quilt she labored over for my high school graduation gift, I remember.

At some point after a death, the deceased belonging need to be gone through. Given away or kept. My dad asked for my help to go through her ‘things’. He was ready. Yet, in some ways, I was not.

A few long forgotten items in the “give away” pile ended up in my van to find a home in my house. Some ‘things’ are still in their new home. Yet, some ‘things’ never made it past our porch. For those items, home was our porch. I’d walk by the items every day until one day I was finally ready to let go and allow someone else to find joy with a few of my mom’s treasures.

I had forgotten about an item until today. I was with my dad and he began talking about the cross-stitch squares my mom never finished. Those squares were going to become a quilt.

Many years ago he asked if I wanted those squares. Immediately I said no even though the squares she had finished were very pretty. My mom, bless her heart, tried to teach me cross-stitch. It was a battle no one won. Sewing, of any kind, and I are like oil and water. It isn’t pretty.

Since I didn’t want the unfinished squares, my dad found someone in his church to finish the rest of the squares. Another person in the church patched those squares together with other material. Now it is in the quilt frame ready for the church sewing group.

His church’s sewing group quilted on it today. The group invited my dad to see, what they called, the beautiful quilt but other plans detoured him today.

When he told me the story of the quilt and how he still would like to see it, a need arose within me. The need to see, for one more time, something she touched long ago. Something she enjoyed. Something to remind me of her.

Calls will be made soon to find out if there is a way to see the quilt before it is finished and put away. In the end, it will be given to a local auction to raise money for a cause. Oh, how I would love to have all the money in the world to place the winning bid and bring that quilt home.

I teared up as dad told me of all the hands who knew mom, and even those who did not, coming together to finish what mom had only just begun with those first cross-stitch squares. I imagined her friends touching those floss stitches she sewed. I imagined how many people sat around the quilt frame talking as they sewed. Perhaps even praying with each stitch for the person who would wrap up in its warmth. It touched me.

Eighteen years later. Eighteen years and something as simple and as sentimental as a quilt can turn all my thoughts to her. Maybe it is because Mother’s Day is this weekend. And, maybe one never stops missing her mom.

 

Start With Amen

Where do I start? From the title, it is obvious I Start With Amen , a book by Beth Guckenberger. But what I really am trying to say is, where do I begin to tell you how much this book has affected me?

The first time I heard of Beth Guckenberger was at a church conference last summer. She and her husband, Todd, are co-executive directors of Back2Back Ministry. The theme for the conference was “God Writes the Best Stories”. Beth’s stories drew my attention especially since our daughter had just come back home after a few years serving as a missionary with another mission group.

Beth told story upon story how God used her and her family in Mexico. How God provided for the orphanages and her family. It wasn’t always easy but it God is always good. When I saw openings for Start With Amen launch team, boy did I jump at the chance!

And, guess what? This. This.book. There is no way I can even begin to tell you everything I’ve learned as I soaked in the words. No, I’m not putting this book or the author on high pedestal. Nope, she is only human. But, I firmly believe God gave her the words.

What’s it about? Well, read on…

start with amenYears ago, author Beth Guckenberger began inverting her prayers. She began with “Amen” and ended with “Dear Jesus”. What she discovered by starting with ‘amen’, meaning ‘so be it’, it put her in a place of surrender from the beginning. Surrender. Obedience. Essentially, Thy will be done right from the start.

This story-teller author packed truth upon Biblical truth spoken in word-stories. I liked how the author didn’t beat me over the head but gently, through her experiences, led me into a deeper understanding of surrender and obedience to God.

When I began to put into practice what I was reading, honestly, it felt a bit strange. I would say, “Amen” and then…nothing. I was in the habit of sticking ‘amen’ at the end so it felt like I was finished before I even began. However, the more I practiced inverting my prayers the more I began to feel a deeper connection with God.

For example, “Amen, I trust you Lord. I know you have a plan.” and proceed with requests and end with, “Dear Jesus”. It isn’t a formula, by any means, but a place where one can come before the Lord in a different posture.

Start With Amen is more than a book about prayer. Beth has a deep understanding of the Bible. This book is so marked up with so many “ah-ha” moments. So many thoughts written in the margins…some hard questions I’m asking myself.

Growing up I was taught not to mark, underline or dog-ear the pages of a book. I broke all the rules in this book. I honestly do not think I have ever underlined so many sentences in one book, besides the Bible, in my years of life.

I highly recommend Start With Amen! It is available for pre-order (yes, I’m the boss of you so go purchase it now!) with the release date May 9.

What are you waiting for? Go order it!

“If I wring my hands over our country, the economy, my kids, or our future, to what end does that angst provide? I can’t control… …but I can listen. I can intercede. I can offer. I can trust.”

**I received an advance copy from the author and publisher for my honest review.