Simply Sunday

Adventurous One

Early morning
When there is
Barely enough
Light to see
Or early evening
After the sun
Sinks below
The horizon
Those times
Are safest
For romping
And playing
In the soft blades
Expending
All energy
Before pausing
To graze our fill-
But some days
When the sun
Sits high in
The middle
Of the day
Temptation
Is too great
Warmth and light
Too much to ignore
All concerns
Disappear
As I run thru
Open fields
Fearless and free
For just a few
Moments
Until lovingly called
Back into the grove
Protected
In the shade
Of the trees

I’ve previously written about the herd of deer near our home. We often spot them in the early morning or late afternoon. I’m always glad to see them happily grazing in the field.

One day recently, I got a surprise. Driving by in the middle of the day, I spotted a young deer hopping in the field! It was all by itself. I could just imagine its mom calling from the edge of the trees, Ok! That’s enough! Playtime is over!

Moving Day

Moving is a multi-faceted project that takes on a life of its own. Packing all your belongings in boxes, bags, and tubs. Strategically placing said containers, along with furniture, in the moving truck. Like playing a championship game of Tetris, according to my husband.

And then, after driving to your new abode, you work backward. Unloading all your belongings from the moving truck. Not wasting any time making the new place feel like home.

For most, if not all, of our many moves, our parents were there to help. College dorms, apartments, houses. Each new stage of life took us blocks or states away and back. Moving was a family affair.

Today was another moving day. But this time, I was the proud parent, listening and helping. Though my helping was more moral support than heavy lifting. Cold drink runs and a dryer plug from Home Depot.

Our son and daughter-in-law were moving to a new apartment. A different town, more space, a new home. As they loaded the truck, I overheard several neighbors.

You guys were great neighbors!
We will miss you guys around here.
I was planning to ask your husband if he could mount my tv on the wall.

After the truck was unloaded, we had a nice lunch out. And once the washer and dryer were hooked up, my husband announced it was time to go. I sighed. Not before documenting. A snapshot of the three sweaty guys-dad and his two boys. And a picture of the happy couple standing by the fireplace.

Another moving day in the books. A hot, sweaty, full of laughter, family moving day. Not the last in our family, I’m sure. Just need a little rest before the next one. 😉

Cushioned Steps

Each careful step
Across the floor
Cushioned by
Layers of history
What was once alive
Now protects as it
Deteriorates
Feeding the earth
Lying underneath
How many have
Come and gone
Taken these same steps
Across lines of
Time and space-
Did they notice
The Luna moth
Drying her wings
In frilly foliage
Of gentle ferns
Or the bright orange
Mushrooms
Peeking out from
Underneath
The fern leaves
Were their steps cushioned as well?
Steps that allowed
Time for pause
Time for soaking up
All the forest
Has to say
About the past
The present
And the future

I Am Smiling!

Feelings
Often show
Right
On
Our
Faces
Before
We even
Understand them
Ourselves
There they sit
Right
On
Our
Faces
For all the world
To see
For all the world
To interpret
And though
Interpretations
Are likely
Incomplete
Perhaps
The attempt
To understand
Will prove
A first step
To understanding

I caught a glimpse of myself in an airport restroom mirror. The person staring back at me did not look happy. Add another inconvenience. Nothing major. Just a broken latch on the restroom door. That’s all.

What is wrong with me? I don’t like the look on my face.

An investigation provided the following information:

  • My 4:00 A. M. alarm was rude. I need my sleep.
  • No time for tea before my first flight. Tea wakes me up.
  • Travel is exhausting. But the adventures are worth the stress. I think…

Now put a smile back on that face and get on the next flight home!

Simply Sunday

Happy Father’s Day!

The past two years brought health challenges for my dad. Open-heart surgery and heart failure were encapsulated by complications from diabetes. I am grateful he is still with us. And he is thriving.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

He and my mom have coped well with the struggles of health combined with pandemic living. I know it has not been easy, and I am proud of them.

On this Father’s Day, I miss my father-in-law, Bob. I often wonder what he would think about the current state of the world. The political divide in our country? He would be disappointed. The challenges of living through a pandemic…not sure how he would have fared. Isolation from family and friends would have been difficult. He lived for his family and was quick to whip us into shape. 😉❤️

But, oh, what good things have happened. Grandchildren graduated from high school and college. Several are now married. And three new great-grandchildren have joined our family.

Anytime we are together as a family, I know he is smiling. He is smiling, and we are remembering.

Well-Lived

Stoic
He stands
In the center
Of the forest-
Looking
From behind
The years of
Weathered ware
Show clearly
So much so
A passerby
Might question
Whether or not
He was still alive
Unless they
Keep walking
Circling
The forest floor
And spot his
One good arm
Outstretched
Hand waving
His face in
Full view-
Grandfather Tree
With his welcoming
Well-worn smile
I’ve got my fishing pole.
Are you ready to go?

Another cool and breezy day in Vermont. A morning hike and an afternoon winery visit. A yummy maple creemee. Not looking forward to the Oklahoma heat!

Pockets and Pebbles

We drove under a canopy of trees. So thick in stretches, we wouldn’t have been able to see the sun even if it had been shining. Winding switchbacks took us to the top of Mt. Mansfield. We marveled at the beautiful views.

Some of us closed our eyes and held on tight at certain turns. Well…one of us did, anyway. But that was not the thing that caused me to gasp. Instantly feeling like a little kid. Any guesses?

Giant rocks!

Boulders with great veins of quartz running through. Some were standing solitary. Others were stacked, forming small caves. Even others with trees growing against their faces. Those might have been my favorite.

Standing in the shadows of these giants, the kid in me wanted to fill my pockets with pebbles. No, I did not. Managed to rustle up some restraint.

Instead, I stood in awe of these majestic formations. Felt the embrace of their cool breeze. Accepted their invitation to climb, stand, and sit. And finally, to walk away feeling confident, steady, and grateful.

Hold Hands…Follow Me

Walking through an airport can be a tad overwhelming. Where is my next gate? The restroom? Starbucks? Ok, so maybe not Starbucks. But the level of activity and the sheer number of other people…can feel a bit frantic.

Today while walking through Chicago O’Hare airport, I heard the sweetest phrase.

Hold hands and follow me.

When I glanced across the walkway, I saw a mom standing with a baby on her hip and two other littles standing close by. The words I heard were her message to the kids. They listened, grabbed each other’s hands, and followed her.

What a precious picture. Yes, mom looked travel-worn. Her responsibilities were many. I don’t know where they were headed, but they were going together.

This scene caused me to question. Is that how God talks to me? Does he say, Look! Here are your family and friends. Just grab a hand and follow me.

Or perhaps, if unable to reach out, pick me up. Carries me like the baby on the mom’s hip. Leaving the hand-holding and following part to family and friends. Either way, I am never alone.

Side note: I really was traveling today. 😊 Spending a few days in beautiful Vermont. More to come…

Blog Anniversary!

Yesterday marked four years since my first Piano Girl blog post! I continue to be thankful for this WordPress family. I look forward to reading your words and continuing to find new connections.

A lot has happened in four years. Not the least of all, living through a pandemic. Times of sickness, death, isolation, masks, and vaccinations. Challenging does not begin to describe.

And yet, good things pushed their way through the muck. Extended time with family. New friends connecting across the miles thru zoom. Resilience tested and proven within so many. I even had my first book published!

No, those things do not erase current events distress from the wars in our world and gun violence in my country. They do, however, encourage me to cherish the connections I have, old and new. They remind me of the importance of loving, even when we disagree. They give me hope.

Here’s to year five! Prayers for peace. Actions with intention. Words to encourage. Stop by and say hello!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

Remembering

Today, I am sharing a previous post in honor of my friend, Shannon. This marks seventeen years since she lost her battle with breast cancer. She is greatly missed.

Instant Friends

Have you ever experienced an instantaneous friendship?  You meet someone for the first time, yet it seems as if you’ve always known them?  That’s exactly what happened when I met Shannon.  Both of our husbands had new jobs which brought us to Liberal, KS.  She was the wife of a pastor and me the wife of a high school assistant principal.  We both had young children and were navigating a new place, far away from old friends and family.

If you’ve never been to Liberal, well…there is an actual edge of town. You can see nothing but fields for miles and miles in all directions. The town had a Walmart, a few restaurants, and a small shopping center. We would drive an hour and a half to Garden City, KS just to eat at Applebees.  Needless to say, it was quite an adjustment for both families.

Our move to Liberal was the second big move we’d made in nine years of marriage.  Memories from previous moves brought images of tear-filled goodbyes with many dear friends.  Some of those goodbyes turned into lifelong friendships, but in that actual moment of leaving it felt like our world was falling apart.  As for me, the tears often continued as I adjusted and searched to figure out my place in a new location.  Looking back now I understand that those lonely times strengthened our marriage and brought our family closer together, but oh were they hard.

Soon after we settled in our new home, I heard an advertisement on the radio for a MOPs (Moms of Preschoolers) group meeting.  I’d never been to one of these before but was excited at the prospect of meeting other moms with small children.  There was also a weekly storytime at the library.  My two oldest would be starting school soon, so that would give Ryan (my youngest) and I a fun outing.

It’s funny looking back now, I can’t remember if I first met Shannon at the library or MOPs.  I definitely noticed her at both events with her young kids.  She had such a welcoming smile, maybe we would become friends!  We introduced ourselves, and it wasn’t long before we had traded phone numbers.  At least now there would be a familiar face at storytime and our MOPs meetings.

Not long after school started, Shannon asked if I’d like to go for a walk after we dropped our older kids off at school.  Our youngest kids were the same age, and still enjoyed short stroller rides.  That first walk remains etched in my memory.  We chatted about our families, what had brought us to Liberal, our future plans.  And then Shannon shared the most amazing thing.  From the time they knew they would be moving, she had been praying that God would send her a friend.  I will never forget her words, “I think you just might be the answer to my prayers.”

From that point on, we were inseparable.  Playdates, family dinners, babysitting for eachother…things all young moms desperately need. I’m not sure how I would have survived that year without her.  It felt like we had known each other our entire lives.  She would even laugh and say she must have named her daughter Kelli after me before she even knew me.  And to make the year even more exciting, she soon discovered they were expecting their third child!  So much to plan and celebrate!

Telling Shannon that we would be moving back to Oklahoma for the following school year was not easy.  I dreaded making that phone call.  We were in Oklahoma for the interview and she was in Kansas, having just given birth to their sweet baby.  Terrible timing, but I knew it couldn’t wait.  Always gracious, she understood.  Moving would eventually be part of their future as well.  There were tears and promises to keep in touch.  Despite having experienced this kind of goodbye with friends before-it was not any easier.

Although Shannon and I had become close friends in such a short time, I had no idea the lasting impact she would have on my life. After our move, there were regular phone calls in those first months and even a visit despite the distance between us.  But our communications quickly took a different tone as Shannon was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

How could this be possible?  A young mom of three, healthy, no family history…the wife of a pastor.  She fought so hard.  Surgery, treatments, more surgery…and so many prayers.  I witnessed the outpouring of support from their family and friends past and present.  There were also a few misguided individuals who thought if her faith was just strong enough, she would be healed.  Most certainly they did not truly know Shannon.

If ever there was a time in life where I questioned my own faith, this was it.

I had the privilege of spending a week with Shannon and her family shortly before she died.  Oh, my sweet friend-fighting with courage and grace I had never witnessed before. Her cancer had spread once again causing tremendous pain and weakness.  But she was determined we would go shopping, and we did.  She had also planned an outing for us at a lovely tea room, and we went.  I watched as she pushed through, insisting on serving dinner and giving attention to her family-she loved them so much.

Shannon’s kindness as a friend, patience as a mom, and unwavering faith in the face of terrible tragedy continue to impact my life. We may have only lived in the same town for one year, fifteen years ago, but I miss her. The grief that she is not here with her family remains. I keep a picture of the two of us on a shelf in my closet. When I look at this sweet photo, I think about the power and importance of friends. And remembering our instantaneous friendship, I am grateful. 💗