Five-minute Friday {ten}

Linking up for the weekly five-minute free writing frenzy (say that 3 times fast!) with the gracious host, Kate Motaung. Stop by her place to link up.

The granddaughter is here this week. All 7 years of her Taylor Swift-singing, Barbie-clothes-loving self.

She reminds me of why it was good we had our kids when we were young!

Our world changes when she comes.

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Surfing on Baba

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The house is filled with Popsicles and Peach water. The living room earns its name as a room that is well lived in with toys scattered about from one end to the other. I will make more quesadillas in 3 days than I’ve made the last 6 months.

The lovely community pools we haven’t visited in….well, that long, are finding us regulars and I’m thankful for a flexible schedule allowing me the trips to the pool and the Dollar Tree. (7-year olds can teach you a lot about economy and the Dollar Tree!)

She jumps on our bed and I LET HER! shhh….don’t tell her mama or uncle 😉

I let her sleep in because I need that extra time for myself.  (How did I ever do this with 2?!)

But the best 10 minutes of the day are the ones spent snuggled in a chair reading from the republished Dick and Jane books (her choice), my first reader.

She nestles in close, knowing the words coming before I turn the page. We close the book and walk to her room where her iPod sits cradled to play her lullaby playlist while she sleeps and I sit on the bed next to her when she says, “sing me a song, and what about the prayer?”

That time when she wrestles with not wanting me to go but trying to be the big girl and sleep is yawning its way to both of us, that time is the best. The softest, gentlest time thanking God in soft words for his good gifts to us.

Five-Minute Friday {fear}

Linking up with Kate, the gracious host of Five-Minute Friday. Stop over and share your voice.

This is about daddy. Because it’s time and I should think of him more often.

An outgoing prankster filled with charm, I imagine daddy swept mama off her feet as they married when she was but 16. He was already an officer in the Salvation Army and had to resign his commission to marry her. My aunt recently told me she’d been ask to talk him out of it but his mind was made up.

When they married, he joined the U.S. Army and served the minimum with them. Mama attended the Salvation Army training college and daddy was reaccepted as an officer. They served together in several appointments, even opening the Army’s work in two cities in Arkansas.

Stories of his childhood would spill out of him when we got together with his siblings or parents. Disagreements would likely happen about the version being told but laughter was the end result.

My love of music and photography were passed down from daddy. He had more musical talent than the rest of us, being very accomplished at the trombone and playing accordion. He could play piano by ear enough to pick out chords when needed.

Daddy moved fast. He coached church ball teams, took church youth groups on outings, picked up donations, opened thrift stores to help support the local work and handled business of the local units he directed. He preached on Sunday, sometimes also leading the songs as he played the accordion.

He let us listen to the radio of our choice at breakfast and in the car. He whistled. Often.

I scared him to death as I got older. I should have stayed with mom. He didn’t know how to raise a teenage girl and did it out of fear. Strict curfews and questions made me feel guilty of things not done. Dances weren’t allowed and being late 5 minutes once resulted in a scene I’ll never forget.

I learned early daddy wasn’t perfect. I never doubted he loved me. Never.

Performing my brother’s wedding ceremony

Well into his 50’s he called one day to ask my forgiveness. He was tearful. I was uncomfortable. I’m not sure what, specifically, he wanted forgiveness for. I don’t think I handled it well. He knew I loved him. I’m sure of it.

His last few years were sad. Poor health from diabetes brought an early retirement and he could never handle that mentally. He was depressed, trapped physically. He died at 63. It was unexpected even though he’d had problems. There was a relief of sorts. A relief knowing all of his sorrow was gone.

I marvel at how much my brother seems to know about him that I don’t. Last week Paul talked about daddy liking baseball. A sport I never remember him watching. I’ve already forgotten the team Paul said he liked. Boys and their dads. It’s different. Mama was right. Paul needed to live with dad after their divorce. Mama was mostly right. Daddy told me that. He told me he couldn’t handle that she was so often right. Big for him to admit to that. Sad he couldn’t live with it. Fear had its grip.

Father’s Day. Not the same attention as Mother’s Day. There won’t be as many cards sold or phone calls made. I was blessed. My parents weren’t good at marriage but they could have written a book on how to behave after divorce. For that, I’m thankful. For his laughter, his loving me as best he could, him teaching me to drive, him loving Henry and him loving God. All of that and more I’m grateful to my heavenly Father.

Full disclosure: This was originally written three years ago but never published. It obviously took over 5 minutes to write but less than that to edit today. It fit today’s word prompt, fear, and it fits our recognition of Father’s Day this weekend. Thank you for your kind grace.

Five-Minute Friday {gift}

Linking up with the gracious Kate for the weekly free-writing word prompt that has turned into a community. Stop by and join the fun. Ready? Go.

Father’s Day, Christmas, birthday, the question and answer always the same.

Me: What do you want?

Him: socks, underwear, golf balls

shhhh....this is his father's day gift

shhhh….this is his father’s day gift (he’s my biggest art encourager/fan)

Oh, but sometimes he throws in that response that makes us all groan: “I’ll think about it.”

You know what that means. It’s the day before and he still has no answer.

I am not a good gift giver. Simple as that.

I have expectations of being thoughtful and creative. The thing the other person doesn’t even know they want but I’ve found it. Their face beams with sheer delight.

Oh, you too?

I have a theory we are all better gift-givers than we know. Because the best gifts aren’t the ones wrapped up in a tidy bow.

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Heather and Me

The best gifts are smiles that really come in one-size-fits-all. Even the person in front of you in the 10-items-or-less-checkout-line putting their 15th item on the conveyor belt. 🙂

The gift of laughter is never outgrown but is contagious and just the sort you want to spread.

The gift of time never spoils.

Presence? Ah, the best gift of all. To be all there in the moment. This comes with a warning:

Caution: may include tears, hugs, hilarity, and an all-over sense of love.

Celebrating……ME

Always at a beach somewhere :)

Always at a beach somewhere 🙂

It’s not what we do in our family….blowing our own horn or patting ourselves on the back. Mama embodied the word humble but I think she might get a smile out of this.

Last year I celebrated my birthday with you on the blog so I don’t need to go into all of that again. The curious ones who like old pictures (and I mean old!) can find it here.

Most days I look at myself in the mirror and thank God I have good hair. It helps distract, momentarily, from the wide hips, blotchy complexion and this belly that wasn’t there a few years ago.

With one quick look I can tear myself apart. But I’m getting better. Really, I am. Better with age.

It seemed to me mama wasn’t keen on getting older. But aunt Juanita, daddy’s sister, she revels in the crown of her age. She laughs at her forgetfulness and isn’t embarrassed to grab the walker to help steady herself. She wears age like a crown and she glows in its beauty.

She is clothed in laughter and love and these are the true beauty marks.

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“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.” Psalm 139:13-14

It’s taken me well into my 50’s to start accepting who I am, inside and out. Or maybe I’m too comfortable or too tired or plain old lazy. Today it doesn’t matter the reason. I am healthy and well blessed. I am wonderfully complex!

It is amazing!

His workmanship is marvelous!

“How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!” vs. 17-18

My eternal gift, every day, is God thinking of me.

And it’s totally okay with me that we have the same gift; that He is thinking of you every day too.

When good things collide

This week started with tears. The kind of tears that come with hurt and a lack of understanding and the kind that stream down your face on your 30 minute drive to work.

You know, that kind of crying.

The tears have subsided, though without out notice my voice will still crack but we hold together and through anger we hold to God despite our lack of understanding his place in this.

Still, good things come because life is made of the good and the bad and it’s the hard things that bring out the joy in the simple good.

From a tear-stained face in the morning to belly laughs in the evening my soul was revived sitting in our chapel full of residents, staff and a few employees who chose to stay and be part of this ridiculous thing called a “play”. And it was just what we all needed.

One of our counselors had planned a Murder Mystery and rehearsed a few short weeks with men in one of her groups.

Props and costumes were collected from donations and J was telling people to call him Mary because he needed to get into character. Yeah, it was going to be that kind of night.

They stumbled over their lines and ad-libbed to the point it went over time and Act II will have to be continued.

Murder Mystery Night

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Murder Mystery Night

On these nights, it’s easy to forget that most of these men are fighting a daily battle with addiction. That some were sleeping on the street a month ago and others are still trying to regain their family’s trust.

 

We celebrated with staff a good review of our program, a solid program our Center offers to men who have lost their way.

Today are celebrating the men, just because. Because Jesus is the Savior of 2nd chances and 5th and 100’s because he just keeps loving us. All of us.

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We are celebrating with over 50 of our men at an annual weekend retreat joining  5 other Salvation Army ARC’s in Florida for a weekend of man stuff. Lots of playing disguised as sports and lots of eating to keep them fueled for the playing.

And there will be promise given to them straight from God’s sacred word and lives will be changed and promises made to live not for ourselves anymore but for God.

As if this isn’t enough, we join from a distance our first niece to graduate college and be a part of the celebration for our son-in-law’s completion of his PhD in physical therapy.

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this niece is graduating college!

 

There is still an ache of pain in our hearts. But God has reminded us to weep with those who weep and dance with the dancers. The tears and laughs just happen to collide this time. I think he must have planed it that way.

In these times, I hope they find relief from the daily fight. I pray we all find moments of joy smack in the middle of our moments of pain.

 

What I Learned {April}

I’ve been doing this What I Learned link-up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky for several months now. One of the most important things I’ve collectively learned, is stopping to jot down things as I learn them. It might sound silly, insignificant or time consuming but what it offers is worth the effort. It reminds me of how the little things can sometimes be game changers and other times, plain old fun. It also helps me see the month as more than a blur of the everyday – sleep, eat, work.

Here we go…..

Shopping: Trader Joe’s

I’ve heard of this place for years and was in one in Bethesda, MD once when visiting family. But now, now a couple have come to South Florida.

It’s a 20 minute drive from our house so it won’t be my weekly grocery stop but I just love this smallish, neighborhood like store, complete with friendly staff.

They have the best reusable shopping bags. 99 cents for this great looking art:

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Their produce is fresh, all prices good but don’t go if you’re looking for the standard brands. You won’t find Kraft Macaroni and Cheese here but you’ll find healthy alternatives at competitive prices. You’ll also find bundles of sunflowers @ $4.00 in our area.

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Tech – Canva

I’ve had Canva installed on my iPad but couldn’t quite get it. It looks great but I don’t find it to be as user friendly as other similar apps. Thanks to a free 30day Creative Basics course with Crystal Stine she demystified this free, beautiful app.

What Canva offers most others don’t is sizing for the basic social media graphics like Facebook cover images, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Did I mention it’s free?!

Here’s the first ‘just for fun’, design I made using our son and daughter-in-law as the featured image. He likes it 🙂

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Doing Good

Last year we stumbled on the Surfer’s for Autism event at our local beach. Seeing the families and volunteers we knew we wanted to go again this year. It’s the beach we walk on Saturday mornings taken over by these amazing people. It’s hard to tell who is getting more from this event, the families or the volunteers. It’s proof that giving is a gift in itself.

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The grass withers and the flowers fade….

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I spent the weekend in the Carolinas where the sun never came full-out and the dreary skies colored my days and attitude.

I met new friends and got to know acquaintances better.

I sat with 300 other ordained women celebrating God’s calling on our lives but the surroundings, the temporary hung over me like the cloud that follows PigPen from the Peanuts cartoon strip. Heaviness hung too deep and I allowed it to stay.

 

Friends brought laughter and the reminder of what is temporary and what lasts.

I am thankful God’s word isn’t affected by weather or my attitude but it lasts forever. It is there in sun and shadow, in good and bad, in sorrow and in joy.

When the office sings glory

For years I was the night person. The one who got the kids bathed and in bed waiting for daddy to read their nighttime stories. I stayed up until the house quieted and found my quiet time after all were still.

Life changed and babies weren’t babies and their energy outlived mine and then I turned 40 and got this new burst that flipped our worlds upside down when the night person turned morning.

The kids turned the lights out at night while I woke up the sun and the life changed again.

It seems to keep changing, this life, and I can’t always keep up and, honestly, I don’t try as hard to keep up. I’m not sure who I’m keeping up with and I find myself sleepless at an hour I’ve not seen while healthy since rocking a grandbaby.

I leave the bedroom to read. I’ve been behind on certain reading, another keeping up that hasn’t been lately.

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I find Emily’s blog and am rewarded by her gentle words. There are some voices, that while I only hear them in print, their sounds are gentle like the lapping of the outgoing tide. Hers is like that for me. And her prayers are about the most beautiful I’ve read, simple and deep, felt all at once.

It was one short line that grabbed me this time:
“We are the megaphones of glory.”

Do you hear the beauty in that? Not the word megaphone because they are often louder than you want and have a harshness to them, but that word glory? That one word changes the whole thing. It changes an amplifier of sound into an instrument of glory and we are that instrument.

Me and you. We can be loud voices of glory.

I can be loud. There is no doubting that. I’ve told it before, we are the loud family. But most often I’m not shouting glory. Oh, God, forgive me of the megaphone of complaints and grumbling I use most often. Of venting when it’s an excuse for not getting my way. Forgive my selfish thundering and trumpeting my way over your way.

We are surrounded by glory but walk on by, failing to call it out in shouts of praise.

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He sat in the office today, a new young man. He said ‘the Major’ told him to talk to me, that he felt a stirring yesterday when others were sharing their words of glory. He wanted to share but he wanted to do so in song and he didn’t know if that was okay so he waited and he asked.

I told him to sing it for me and Michael was a megaphone of glory right there in that office with Eve on the other side of her computer and me listening to his glory sing right before us. He sang about praising in good times and bad because he’s meant to praise. Lord knows these can’t be the best times for a man who finds himself living at The Salvation Army. They are far from the worst but glory? Here? Yes, here, because You are here.

We are the megaphones of glory.
His glory.
Here.

When spring is a reminder of God’s promise

We’ve arrived in Augusta, GA for a week of meetings with our Organization. This place has spring. I know that sounds silly but South Florida is a place without seasons. I know its enviable to live in a place where temperatures in the 50’s signal winter, and those temperatures rarely last throughout the day.

We love the beach, its natural beauty, its ever-changing color and motion that brings to mind waves of spiritual metaphors. How our feet sink into the sand, not finding it solid purchase to build on and remember the story of the foolish who build their lives on shifting foundations.

No, even when the humidity brings that dewy look…..okay, let’s get real, it brings a full on sweat to even the most delicate of Southern Women just walking to the car. The months of August through October have me hoping for any break to leave this sauna that clings to the house windows taunting you to walk outside.

Our seasons are recognized by lots of rain and not as much rain. Lots of people and not as many people. Hardly a rush of color to be found other than a deepening green of our lawns and the jade green the ocean often is in winter months.

But we’ve found ourselves in a place that knows spring and it’s brilliantly deep colors have welcomed us and reminded us of more of God’s promise. Because, all creation sings his praise.

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By the way, if you know what this flower is, please share it in the comments as they clearly aren’t a tropical variety so I have no clue 😉

Show me

Some might say I’m a copy-cat. (Does anyone use that expression anymore?) The way I look at a picture and paint it, staying as true to the original as possible.

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I’ve not been one to use the original as a starting place, twisting and turning it into my own. I carefully place the highlights in the same spots, the embellishments just so. I’ve only done a good job if it looks like a duplicate. When I’ve attempted my sketches I find them not up to par. Unacceptable.

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While many congratulate me on my “talent” I dismiss it as not being creative. Not seeing it in my mind’s eye, but having to rely on what another has seen. Show me and I’ll do that.

I’m a visual learner. Watching others, sifting out the do’s from the don’ts and often, not making my way but following that of another.

I’ve been hard on myself for this. Hard on myself for being dependent on another to show me the way to……dress, decorate, paint, cook, keep house, keep a family.

It was a couple of thousand years ago when Jesus said, “Follow me”. When he laid out a way of living he didn’t suggest we consider but calls us to follow. His way, not ours.

I’ve had parents and grandparents who answered that call to follow him and because they followed, they have shown me His way. Not always staying on the path, trying to set their own course at times, but I know the difference. I know it now.

Lt. Pauline McFarland 1958

Lt. Pauline McFarland 1958

With mom and my brother in 2001

With mom and my brother in 2001

I’m not going to be the one who comes up with the next great idea. I will be the one who recognizes the good idea from others and use it in our ministry, or home. I’ll find the design idea on Pinterest and we’ll adapt it to our Center like with this Christmas tree of photo’s that became our tree of miracles.

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I’ll be the one who hears a song and know it’s the perfect one for our Good Friday service.

Visual or not, I won’t be the one who sees that amazing recipe and recreates it. I have limits!

Perhaps this is why I find Instagram fun. It’s completely visual but in the seeing we learn. We glimpse into the lives of others. Where they live, their seasons, explorations, what captures their eye and lens. It’s considered a micro blog, particularly suited to our shrinking attention spans.

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I’ve followed some photo prompts using them to stretch my vision and inspire learning and creativity. There’s a new one I came across that has my heart more than my eye and I’m anxious to explore what this will show me and how it will grow me. It’s called #365gratefulheart. Isn’t that perfect? It’s not about photography skill or picture perfect subjects but what has our heart being a little louder in gratitude. (You can check out my Instagram feed on the link in the side bar or here.)

God continues to amaze me in the ways he reveals himself. He shows me His way is clear. I don’t have to come up with a new idea. In fact, if I do, it will be a way that is marked with traps and ultimate destruction. His way, the Jesus way is one of everlasting life, compassionate grace and never-ending love.