I Have A New Header!

July 31, 2008

For the first time I have a header that has been designed specifically for me — and I LOVE it!

Thank you Sara at Norwood Arts for coming up with exactly the design I was envisioning!


Booorrrring!

July 31, 2008

This is so boring — and embarrassing!  Standing here in easy view from the road with this silly rubber-tired “girly” wagon hooked up to me instead of some “manly” farm wagon or even just my usual buggy.  What if one of my friends trots by — I’ll never hear the end of this!

This wagon, buggy, Amish bus — whatever you want to call it — looks like something you’d see at an amusement park.  Not that I’ve ever been to one of those.  Oh no, when they want to go somewhere fun like that they have a driver take them in a van!  Suurre, leave ol’ Dobbin at home when you go somewhere interesting!

So, here I am.  Coolin’ my heels wayyy at the back of the Cracker Barrel parking lot, hooked up to this contraption and with nothing to look at but a dumb corn field.  At least if it was oats, I could be dreaming about my next meal!  I even have to turn around to watch the people coming out and getting into their cars.  I really do enjoy people-watching, they are sooo interesting, so I prefer hitching posts that face the parking lot, in case anybody’s taking notes!

Wait a minute.  Why’s that car stopping right behind me?  A lady’s getting out.  What’s that in her hand.  Too much to hope for that it’s an apple — or a fly swatter!  The flies are pretty bad today.  It’s a camera!  She’s taking my picture!  Well, that’s nice.  Since Amos and Anna and the others don’t like to have their picture taken, I don’t get my picture taken very often either, and I have noooo problem posing for a picture.

Here, lady.  Let me give you my glamour pose!  Does standing up on this curb make me look taller, and give a nice slimming arch to my back? 

Well, there she goes.  I don’t have much hope that she got a good shot of me.  She didn’t act like she knew what the heck she was doing with that camera.  

Oh, well.  I wish my people would hurry.  I’m tired of looking at corn.  I’m ready to go home for some nice, tasty oats, and to get rid of this rubber-tired sissy-mobile!

(And when “the lady” get’s better at Photoshop, she’ll take the poop out of a picture like this!  Oh, well.  As Pioneer Woman says, “Let’s keep it real.”)


Experiment with Wide Open Lens (and Photoshop Elements)!

July 28, 2008

 (Double Click to see this because it’s dark.)

When I went out to get the morning paper in the driveway a few days ago, I started back up the drive and my new “photographer’s eye” said, “Hey, that might make a good picture for class!” so I went in and got my camera and took this picture.  It isn’t quite in focus and I’m sure that’s because I didn’t think to put it on a tripod, but I still like the colors and the light!

And here’s the same picture after I played with it in Photoshop Elements. (Please don’t mention that you’ve noticed that I’ve finally figured out how to publish pictures, because it might “jinx” me and I won’t be able to ever do it again!)

This is fun.

 


There She Goes. Here She Comes!

July 27, 2008

 

When our son-in-law’s mother died, the priest gave a wonderful homily that compared death to a ship.  The essence of what he said was this:

When our loved one dies, it’s as if they are on a ship, leaving port and disappearing over the horizon.  And those of us left on the dock watch sadly and say, “There she goes.”  And when the ship goes over the horizon we mourn because our loved one seems to be gone completely, because we can’t see her any more.

But, when the ship disappears over the horizon to us, it is just appearing to those at another port.  And there are loved ones and fellow believers standing on the dock there who have already made the same journey.  They are watching expectantly, and when the ship comes over the horizon and approaches, they cheer and say joyously, “Here she comes!”

For a few months I have been reading a blog called, Leslie’s Journey.  It is the story of Leslie, a young wife and mother, and her fight against cancer.  Here is the latest update by her husband, Tyson, on a post Saturday evening, 

Leslie defeated cancer this evening at 9:15.  She is now finally Home, having completed her “journey”. There is no more suffering. No more gasping for air. No more fear. No more heartache. She is certainly worshiping before the Throne, catching up with some old friends and family that have gone before her, and certainly some new friends and family, tilting her head back with her eyes closed and laughing with that contagious laugh—the one her failing lungs have been preventing her from laughing over the past few months . . . She taught us to love. She taught us to live. We are forever thankful for Your gift of life… and for the gift of Leslie. Amen.-Tyson” 

I have never met Leslie or Tyson, but I have been so touched by their honest witnessing of how their faith has sustained them through all this.  I look forward to one day meeting them in Heaven, and being able to tell them face-to-face how much their story has meant to me. 

Leslie’s loved ones had to say, “There she goes,” last night.  But as sad as they were, they knew that other loved ones and fellow believers were waiting “on the dock” in Heaven and saying, “Here she comes!”  What a wonderful thought.

May God bless each of you with faith and peace that sustains you in whatever challenges you are facing in your life right now.


What Are Your Talents?

July 26, 2008

As someone who in the last year has enjoyed exploring some interesting new areas — like blogging, and because of that, fiction writing and photography, I like what the following quote says:  

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
~Kurt Vonnegut

I think God must enjoy seeing us test ourselves to discover which talents He has given us — and in what quantities!  And, my guess is He wants us to enjoy the process of the exploration, as the quote says, rather than withhold our enjoyment until we perceive we are “successful.”

May we all look for whatever talents we have been blessed with, and then look for ways to use them to glorify Him.  Now, that is success!


“Happy” Feels so much Better than “Mad!”

July 24, 2008

Is Marriage Encounter still around?  It was a very big deal in our area in the 1970’s, and something I learned during the weekend Hubby and I spent there changed my life.

In case it’s still around and some of you might attend sometime, I won’t tell you too much about it (it really was a worthwhile weekend), but I do want to share with you something important I learned that weekend — about managing your emotions.

Mama firmly believed and said many times, “I can’t help how I feel.”  So, of course, that’s what I believed.  Well, at Marriage Encounter they told me something I’d never heard before, “Your emotions are  a decison.”

Wow!  That was a concept I had never, ever thought about!  I could control my emotions?  Well, it was worth a try — because I was a very emotional person, and not always in a good way.  I was verrrry thin skinned with feelings that were hurt “at the drop of a hat.”  I remember one time, in a moment of self-analysis saying, “I feel like I’m thrashing my way through the ‘sea of life,’ most of the time, against the current.”  I made life very intense for myself and everyone around me.

So, that was the beginning of a long (and continuing) road to a happier me.  Once I embraced that concept, I found out that I could actually change how I felt by what I thought.  I came to realize that my old pattern in relationships had been to tend to assume the worst motivations for what others did or said.  With my new mind set, I could actually feel myself lighten up when I applied this theory and remembered to put a positive spin on other’s words or actions.

So, if you are like the old me and have always believed that “you can’t help how you feel,”  I’d like to pass on that little tip that changed my life all those years ago.  You can help how you feel — by using self-talk!  It doesn’t always work, but it does alot of the time. 

May God bless all of us with the ability to look at others and their motives in the best possible light.

An additional thought that just occurred to me:  Whenever we are angry, who are we mad at, really?  Yes, we would say it is at the situation or the person, but isn’t it really at God?  Aren’t we really angry that God has allowed this to happen to us?  And don’t you think the Devil must love that?  Something to think about. 


A Fishing Story

July 20, 2008

 I had to write three short stories for my fiction writing class.  Two that I wrote were meant to be funny.  This one was my attempt at writing something serious.  This idea for a story has been floating around in my head for several years, so I was glad to get it down on paper.  However, it wasn’t as well received by my classmates as the funny stories were, so maybe I should stick to humor.

 

A Fishing Story

 

Allen’s last memory was of lying on the lumpy twin bed in his efficiency apartment, watching a ballgame on the little black and white TV, while drinking shots of whiskey – lots and lots of shots. 

 

But now, even with his eyes closed, he knew he wasn’t there anymore.  He could tell he was lying on the ground outdoors.  He could feel the uneven earth and twigs and grass under him, and the smell of damp vegetation was strong. 

 

Allen cautiously pried his matter-crusted eyes open.  It took them a minute to focus.  But when they did, he realized he was lying on the ground in the middle of a woods.  As he carefully moved his aching head, he could see nothing but trees in every direction.  How had he gotten here? 

 

Had there been an accident?  Had he driven his car blasted again?  After the last time, when he had almost hit a jogger, he had promised himself he would never drink and then drive again.  But, apparently he had; how else could he have gotten here?

 

He slowly pushed himself to a sitting position. His eyes came into sharper focus, and his headache even began to go away.  Well, if he had been in an accident, it didn’t feel like he’d been hurt.  He slowly got to his feet and checked himself out – he couldn’t see any cuts or scrapes.  In fact, he was feeling stronger by the minute.  He was surprised that he suddenly felt better than he had in weeks.

 

So, if he’d had an accident, where was his car?  He stood perfectly still, and listened to see if he could hear any sounds of cars on a nearby road.  He didn’t hear any road sounds, but he did realize there was a sound of rushing water.  He must be near the river close to the house!  He had taken the kids there many times to fish, when he’d still lived at home. 

 

In his drunken stupor, had he automatically headed for “home?”  “Huh, that’s pathetic,” he said out loud and shook his head.  Marla had made it very clear that he wasn’t welcome there any more, or at least, as she had shouted that last day, “until you grow up and act like a responsible husband and father!”  Well, “old habits die hard,” so maybe he had automatically headed for the place his heart still called home.

 

Allen looked around again.  He didn’t recognize this part of the woods, so he started walking toward the river.  He would get his bearings from there.

 

As he walked, the sound of the water grew louder and he thought he could hear voices.  Maybe someone there could give him a ride.

 

Shortly, he came out of the woods at the river, but it wasn’t the familiar river he had expected.  In fact, it was unlike any river he had ever seen before.  All he could do was just stand there and take in the scene before him.

 

A large, powerfully-built man stood on the bank methodically casting a line into the rough, fast-moving waters, not appearing distracted by the spray from the churning water, the roar of the falls just a few yards away or the din of voices.  Several men stood silently behind the fisherman watching expectantly.

 

Suddenly, a strange sensation came over Allen.  He began experiencing thoughts and feelings that weren’t his own, and he knew somehow with certainty that they were coming from the fisherman.  He could suddenly feel the single-minded sense of urgency that the fisherman was feeling.

 

Allen thought, “He knows how important his task is to the people.  He is the only one who is equipped to do the fishing.  He must do it as fast as he can, before the catch is lost over the falls.” 

 

It was obvious the fisherman was an expert; he wasted no motion.  But, even when a cast was straight and true, many times the line came back empty.  When that happened, Allen could feel the fisherman’s feelings of regret and sadness.

 

Allen “knew” as if he’d been told, “There were so many.  If only he could catch them all, but the fisherman knew he couldn’t.  But, he would never waiver in his resolve to catch as many as he could – the people were depending on him.”

 

As Allen walked closer he realized the voices he had heard were coming from the water!  He stared in awe – it was filled with people, many of them seemingly oblivious to the falls they were being swept toward, and the certainty of death.  Over there, some young girls were actually chatting and enjoying themselves, as if they were taking an afternoon swim, totally ignoring the fisherman.  There, a grumpy-looking older man was so busy criticizing everyone around him, “Quit pushing! Get out of my way!  Keep your voices down!” so that he didn’t even see the lifeline when it was thrown in his direction.   A man Allen recognized as an Olympic swimming champion saw the lifeline but swam away from it toward the falls, depending on his own strength to survive.  There were many who were striving for the lifeline, but some of them lost interest and swam away without grabbing it. 

 

Over and over the fisherman would throw the lifeline, unerringly, near one of the people and if they grabbed hold, he would quickly pull that one in, and the men standing behind him would welcome them and wrap them in a warm, beautiful white robe.  Then that person would join the group gathered behind the men that Allen now saw was a huge throng of white-robed people – men, women and children – of every age, color and nationality, all praying and singing songs of praise, and watching expectantly for the next “catch” to join them.  The glow from so many assembled white robes hurt Allen’s eyes it was so bright, and the songs they sang were the most beautiful he had ever heard.

 

He suddenly understood.  He knew this Fisherman.  He was the “Fisher of Men” Allen had learned about in Sunday school.  But, why was Allen seeing and feeling all this?  Was he dead?  Was this Heaven?  If he was in Heaven, why didn’t he have a white robe and why wasn’t he part of the singing throng?

 

He turned back toward the river and looked at the people in the water again, and he realized that he knew many of the people there.  There was Aunt Millie, there was Dr. Bateman, there, there was — his family!  He watched with tears in his eyes as the Fisherman pulled Marla and then James and then Maddy to shore.  Allen was overwhelmed with feelings of thankfulness and joy that his family was all saved.

 

At that moment, for the first time, the Fisherman turned and looked Allen directly in the eye.  He didn’t say anything, but Allen felt a powerful emotion in those eyes specifically involving him.  Was it regret or was it relief?  He couldn’t tell.  Then the Fisherman turned back to his task. 

 

Next the Fisherman threw the line to a man struggling to stay afloat.    The rushing water swept him closer.  Now Allen could see the face – it was him!  The Fisherman cast the lifeline toward the thrashing man.  At first, he didn’t see it.  Then he saw it, but he seemed confused and unsure whether to grab it or not. He was going to miss it! Allen wanted to yell, “Grab the lifeline!  Grab hold – it’s your only chance – don’t you see the falls?”  But he couldn’t make a sound.  All he could do was watch helplessly.  And then, at the last possible second, he saw himself reach up toward the lifeline.  He could feel the muscles in his arms stretching to reach the line — but he was almost past it, in a second it would be out of reach! He tried stretching even harder one more time – he could feel every muscle in his body painfully straining, trying to reach the lifeline before he was swept over the falls.  Just a few more inches — reach! – reach!  And then . . . .

 

Allen awoke with a start.  He was bathed in cold sweat.  He had spilled the rest of whiskey on the tattered, thin blanket on the bed, so there was a nauseatingly sweet smell of sweat mixed with booze.  The ball game must be over; an infomercial was on now.  And then he was shocked when he looked at the travel clock on the wobbly little table and it said 5:36 a.m.!  It was morning!  He must have passed out and slept through the night.  It had been a dream. Thank you, God, it had been a dream.

 

He jumped up and grabbed the phone.  He knew Marla and the kids would be sleeping, but he was filled with such a powerful need to talk to them and care for them and love them that he couldn’t wait to call – he had to do it now!

 

Marla answered on the third ring.  Hello,” she whispered in her husky, just woke up, voice.

 

“Marla, it’s Allen.  I’m sorry to call so early but I have to talk to you right away.”

 

Marla was instantly, fully awake.  “Allen, what’s the matter?  What’s wrong?  Has something happened to you?”

 

Allen said, “No, Marla.  Nothing’s wrong.  In fact, I feel really good.  And, before you ask, no, I’m not drunk.  I have something really important to tell you.  Can I please come over?” 

 

Silence.

 

“Marla, please listen.  I finally feel like I can give up my ‘whiskey crutch’ and, if you’ll give me another chance, I know now I’m ready to be the husband and father you and the kids deserve.” 

 

Still silence; and then, a sound of teary, uneven breathing.

 

Softly, “Marla?”

 

Marla cleared her throat and regained her composure, “Allen, I can’t tell you how much I want to believe those words.  How many times I have prayed for you to say those words.  But, I’m so afraid to hope.  Please don’t say them if you don’t really mean them.”

 

“Mar, I mean them with all my heart.  I suddenly feel an overwhelming need to heal my relationships — with you and the kids, and with God.  If you will take me on as a ‘project’ just one more time, I promise I’ll work and love and pray and appreciate with every fiber in my body.

 

Again, there was silence.  Maybe it was too late.  Maybe he had tested Marla’s love one too many times. 

 

Finally, Marla said, with a first glimmer of hope in her voice, “Okay.  Come for lunch.  The kids will be at your mom’s, so we can talk.  I will not give them false hope before we’ve talked this out.  If you’re going to come home, I want it to be for good.  They need their daddy so bad, but I don’t want them just to have you back for a little while – it has to be all or nothing.”

 

Relief and hope flooded Allen.  “That’s what I want too, Marla.  I’ll be there at noon.  Good-bye. . . . Wait!  Just one more thing.  Marla, even through all this, I never stopped loving you.  Do you believe me?”

 

“Yes, even with all that’s happened, I’ve always known you love me, and I’ve always loved you.  And, it’s only because I know that that I think there might be hope for us.  We’ll talk when you get here, Allen.”

 

 “Okay, I’ll be there.  Oh, and, Marla, let’s take a walk down by the river after lunch, okay?   I have a fishing story I’d like to tell you.”