So many times, we're told that we are the writers of our future, but after some reflection... I think we're most likely...not. Oh, we like to imagine we have a little control - What shall I eat? what shall I wear? and even... Who shall I marry? But then, realization dawns - a foggy sunrise. We cannot control whether our very next breath will arrive. It is automatic, and we were not given the keys to that ignition. So I think... in the big picture, our imagined control is just to placate us. However, it can be very freeing to realize you are a character in the story, and not the author. It is especially encouraging when you summarily realize, that your particular author is a best-seller, and clearly, already has the plot all figured out! Thank you for joining me on my 28 day birthday month celebration. It has been a challenge, but also a unique experience, and I'm pleased with myself for completing it. Thank you also for all your kind words and encouragement...they have made it all feel extra special. 🙂
We wander through the woods of our lives, tripping, winding, pulling away branches, and getting caught in the brambles. It is a long road. A rough road. And then, a clearing up ahead. We breathe the sweet nectar of the open field, feel the sunshine, and cooling breeze. It feels like heaven. But the dark woods draw us back, and soon we find ourselves, tangled, tired, and bruised. All the while, the Lord goes before us, clearing the path, absorbing the blows, and wishing we would only take His hand, so He could lead us to the next clearing, and the path of His design. Even so, He walks ahead. Never forsaking us and our chosen pathway. Even when He knows His is easier, He allows us to choose. And then He clears the way. Happy Birthday to me, and my dear friend Olivia, and all the other souls who celebrate their arrival on this earth today. We made it. Keep walking the path, the destination is more beautiful than we can possibly imagine.
Forty years is a twinkle in the annals of history books. Only four decades, only forty years, only a mere moment. But when you put the days on a string, the hours and the minutes, and the seconds - you begin to see how much Life can be lived in this twinkle of time. Laughter, Tears, Sadness, Fears - Joy, Relief, Depression, and Victory all combine to create a unique human experience. Forty years is a twinkle, but compile each moment together, and you have a lifetime of sparkling moments - a sky full of stars. (I felt this was appropriate for Birthday Eve, and my last day of being 40...this draft was written for myself on my 40th birthday last year - it was edited and given as a gift to a dear friend who celebrated her 40th birthday a week later. Her version is better, but I didn't keep a copy, because it is hers.)
Metaphorically, true friendship is... a good hair day, the perfect cup of tea - no red lights on the way to work, and the first night of sleep on freshly washed sheets. Socially, it's a smile at the caller ID, a long conversation full of honesty, and empathy - and the ability to pick up where you left off... after two hours, two days, or four months. Emotionally, it's companionable silence where words are not necessary, laughing at the ridiculous when it is, and prayers in - and through, the pain. Essentially, true friendship is the ability to be your utterly weird, and wonderful self, and feel perfectly and completely at home. Celebrating all of the wonderful people who let me be my weird little self, but especially my friend Candy, who is having a birthday today, and who is learning to love tea as much as I do. 🙂
At first glance, you would not consider furniture as an item needing rescue. But it is. They do. Cooped up, buried under garbage and piles of paper and humidity - A table, a chair, sits - waiting to be remembered to be cared for - to be clean. It is made from material that was once alive - and after being plucked from purgatory, and given a new home, it almost audibly sighs with relief and gratitude for the gift of new life. Useful, Hopeful, and Wanted, but most of all, Restored, in every sense of the word.
One of the greatest gifts the Lord has bestowed to us, is the gift of time. And the greatest gift we can give Him in return - is how we spend that time. We can fritter it away, or pile it up with study, or work, or mindless activity. But what He would love, what He would ultimately prefer - is if we just took a deep breath, and said, "I'd really just like to spend my time with You."
If a sunrise is a whisper, a gentle promise of the day that will be - Then sunsets are a Jubilation! of the promise that was kept. Each morning, the inky darkness is slowly invaded by pale yellow and pink and just a hint of orange. They appear together, breathless and ready to relieve the darkness. A fresh, clean slate firmly in hand. If you look close enough, you can just make out the writing on the edge of the slate: "Today can be whatever you decide it will be." And then we go on, living our lives, making choices - some good, some bad, but none insignificant. Because at the end of the day, the bold streaks of orange and red, and magenta burst across the horizon, shouting in nature's language, "We have done it!" Another day is complete. And then, the darkness arrives, and the Sunset prepares, by handing the slate over to be cleaned once again. Sunrises promise to appear, and Sunsets promise to celebrate - it is up to us what we do with the in-between.
When I'm in pain, the physical kind of pain, the "Sweet Lord Jesus deliver me" kind of pain I like to play a game. It's not really a game, it's just a way to occupy my brain in the depths of that pain. Perspective, if you will. I ask myself, "Would you rather?" as in, "Would you rather be in THIS kind of pain?" and I focus... OR and then I think of a comparable pain I've clearly lived through, and say "Or THAT kind of pain?" and then I remember... And then I decide which pain I prefer. That's the end of the game, but while I'm busy deciding, the pain is subsiding. And that's what I'm thinking of today. (P.S. I'm really okay. I've been having my foot worked on and today was a treatment. The most pain is during treatment. I've lived through it before, and Ibuprofen is a gift from the Lord)
“We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad.”Ward Foley
Recently, I’ve been working hard to put my life back in order. I have been organizing paperwork, organizing computer files, organizing rooms, and just generally trying to get a grip on my life. I blew the dust off this blog, and was shocked to realize it has not been one year, but two since I last posted. SO, checking in…how have you all been? Anything exciting happen in 2019? 2020? Yeahhh….me too.
In early 2020, I turned 40 (before the pandemic, so I actually got to celebrate it – yay!) But then, my grandfather passed away suddenly in early March, our theatre shut down in person performances for the foreseeable future in late March, and my job was deemed “unessential” around that same time. To top it off, Riley, my beloved canine companion and best furry friend of 15.5 years died from kidney failure in early April. On New Years Eve of 2020, we discovered that our sweet and gentle cat Henry has feline AIDS. That was a definite sucker-punch to end out a pretty crazy year.
But, there was good too. During May through October, our theatre thought outside the box and (safely) developed an internet television show. We created twelve 20 minute episodes of original content. We wrote, sang, and acted our hearts out. Six episodes were released last fall, and the final six will be released this spring. We also completed our very first audio drama (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) thanks to our friends at Dramatic Publishing, who worked with us to gain the authors permission to convert his staged radio play into an actual podcast radio play. I’m proud to say for both projects, our safety precautions ensured that none of our actors or crew were beset with COVID.
Personally, I was able to take my first REAL time off in about ten years. April and nearly the entirety of May was spent catching up on a backlog of projects during the day, but the evenings were spent in leisure. Maybe my first leisure in a very long time. We spent 22 days and watched the entire Marvel movie series, in chronological order! And, shortly after his diagnosis, the vet found some medication that seems to be working well, and Henry is going to live with us, and the rest of his feline friends, as long as his health will allow. (We had all the other cats tested – they are negative, and Henry is not a biter, so no stressful adjustments needed to be made to his life)
Overall, a lot of time this past year was spent in thought – re-prioritizing my life, my goals, and my faith.
A dear friend of mine was commenting about how 2020 had actually had many good things happen to her, and she felt guilty for having a good year. I reminded her that while others had had a wonderful 2019, hers had been pretty horrible, and did she begrudge those who had been happy when she wasn’t? Of course she hadn’t.
To sum up….the way I cope is this. To me, life is just a swinging pendulum. Every year, both horrible and wonderful things happen, and every year from now til the end of time, horrible and wonderful things will happen. We have no idea when each one will strike, so all we can really do is take each day as it comes, find joy in the little moments, and brace ourselves for the big bad ones. All we can do is make the best of each moment we are given. I don’t know that that is life-changing words, but at the moment, it’s the best I have to give.
For those interested, the first six episodes of our series can be found here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/lemonadejamboree
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“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” – Matthew 18:12 (NIV)
Last night, as the evening sky grew dim, I went out to the chicken coop to make sure all the chickens were safe, and to close up the hen house. We keep the Roosters separate from the hens, and we count them before leaving to make sure everyone has come in for the night. Last night, I counted 12 Roosters. We currently have 13. That is more than the average chicken owner has, or should have, but it’s what we’ve got, and we are making the best of it right now. Anytime we’re missing one of them, I think of the above verse from Matthew, and decide to do my best to search for the rouge animal.
I recounted, and got the same number: 12. A thought hit me. I rescanned, and realized I was correct. We have a white rooster that, on occasion, decides he wants to sleep in the trees instead of in the safe haven of the coop. Normally, we can understand his decision. It’s a nice night, he wants to be out of the stuffy coop…etc. But last night it was a befuddlement of reasoning. It was pouring down rain, a cold wind was blowing, and the leaves of the tree had blown off, offering no protection from any elements.
I went to the tree that he normally roosts in, and there he was. Standing tall in the torrent of rain. It didn’t even make sense. I admonished him, “You silly Rooster, get down and go inside where it’s dry!” because don’t we all talk to our animals? He remained, stoic. He was drenched, but if a Rooster could, he radiated pride. “We’re both wet! You can’t be happy! Get down!” He would not. I checked the base of the tree and found a stick.
Gently (because I’m not a monster) I poked at him. The bottom of his feet, the back of his legs. Irritating him just enough that it made him uncomfortable to sit in the same position. He fussed back at me, re-adjusting and trying to stay on his branch. “I’m doing this for your benefit, you silly thing! I’m trying to move you to where it’s safe!” More fussing, more re-adjusting, more pride. “Okay, fine! I’ll irritate you all night if I have to!”
Eventually, he jumped down from his perch. But did he run into the safety of the coop? Nope. He ran past it. “Seriously?? What is wrong with you? Why don’t you trust me??? I’m trying to keep you safe!!” I finally herded him into the coop.
As I made the trek back to the house, soaked but proud I had managed to protect this silly little creature, I was gobsmacked by irony.
The Lord- (Clears throat) “Ahem.”
Me- “Ohhhhhh. I see what you did there.”
The lesson I took away from this 15 minute ordeal was a strong one. Maybe decisions that we think are a good one at the time, are really nothing more than us standing out in the rain, with chests puffed out, defying anyone to change us or our environment. And maybe we should trust that when Life’s little irritations come our way, they might actually be being used as a gentle guide to change our current circumstance, or a way to keep us safe.