it’s cold

I think I have never been so happy to see the end of a summer.

I love summer. Lazy, humid afternoons, cicadas singing, birds preening, flowers virtually drooping with the heat. But storms. Rains. This was not a typical summer. The entire month of July had one day with no rainfall here. We received our entire annual total in that one month.

Tonight will be kissed with frost in places. Grass will sparkle with it in the dawn sunrise. Sea oats will be fringed with shiny tassels of ice crystals.

Meanwhile nobody can give a chain of custody of tens of thousands of election ballots in Florida. Final results for several states’ elections won’t be known for days.

Southern California is in process of being incinerated.

Hate groups are singling out specific individuals and are terrorizing them in their homes.

Crazy people get their hands on guns and everyone decides the only answer is to take guns from everyone, even those who respect them and do not use them for insanity.

My son has assumed a persona of someone I do not recognize. I suppose to make his girlfriend happy, I can’t imagine any other reason, not that this is a good reason. I have never felt I could not relate to him.

So my world, or what I see, hear and read about, appears to have turned into a hostile, foreign place, unrecognizable.

Maybe it is appropriate that this Veteran’s Day marks 100 years since the armistice that ended the Great War. My mother’s father was a Captain in the Army. He fought in that war. I have the strategic map he used in France, pencil markings for his company’s maneuvers in the Argonne. I have the German helmet he mailed home to his father with the address hand-written on medical tape stuck to it. I have the bayonet he would have affixed to his rifle.

I have memories of his singing the refrain lyrics to “Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez-vous?” Only the refrain. Not that I would have understood any of the rest of it but my grandmother always stopped him.

We would watch twin-boom military aircraft that we’d see occasionally and called them Scotch airplanes. I have no idea why.

I loved my grandfather. I often wonder what he’d think and say if he were here now. Or my Dad. He was a straight thinker. No one ever wondered where he stood. On anything. Without these men in my life sometimes things seem confusing, distorted, horrible.

But God.

Because of God I have hope. I can cling to One who is true, real, and reliable to be who He is, to keep His promises, to be just, and to love.

Thank God.

And I thank Him for the cold.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpgfree stock photo — public domain

 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:”  –Ecclestiastes 3:1

broken Love

So I was driving somewhere this week and the radio station I happened to be listening to was asking what people were planning to do with their loved one for Valentine’s Day. One woman said she and her husband never planned anything for Valentine’s Day. Their marriage was one in which their love is such they do not need a special day to show it.

I’d never heard that one before. Impressive.

So much hype comes with days like this– birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances. It doesn’t have to be like this.

After my divorce I was a complete mess. There was a comic strip I used to read, “Beetle Bailey”, this scrawny private in the military constantly being beaten to a pulp by his superior, Sarge. The comic would show this with a flattened remnant of an individual, feet and hands sticking out oddly, a few teeth gone.

That’s what I felt like.

So with whatever was left I decided to self-destruct. I became involved with some unsavory characters. I drank too much. Even though I had a child and managed to look respectable I also struggled hard to dig further into the hole I found myself in. Not sure how bleak I hoped to make it but one morning I woke to see my son standing in the doorway to my bedroom. At that point I realized what I had been doing. Ignoring that which was important. Living in a black pool of anger and resentment regardless of any cost.

So  as I walked into each new day I functioned. I cooked, I cleaned, I took care of my son as far as my brokenness would allow. Hoping no matter what I said or did he could know that the brokenness was not his fault. Hoping he could know love despite the personal chaos I had created. I kept an orderly home, worked, paid bills on time, for all intents and purposes things looked fine. Normal, whatever that is. But inside I was a wreck. No order about my thoughts, just survival. Life. Later in the year my son was visiting his father. I found myself reading a little religious magazine I’d subscribed to but never read. I kept the issues I received bound in rubber bands. No idea why. And one day I came across them.

It was a sunny, fresh day. I took them outside to my condo’s little patio and unwrapped the rubber band. I sat in the warm sun, taking them one at a time I read through each one. Each telling me no matter what God loves me. That His Son died an undeserved, humiliating and unimaginably painful death because my pitiable human life is such that I cannot come before my Creator on my own.  Because of His incredible love His sinless Life died for my sinful one. No matter how bleak, how dark, how distant, how bad. Before I was halfway through reading these little booklets I was in tears. A complete mess, but a good mess. It was the old me, the stubborn, angry, bitter me melting before Him Who came to save me. It was me realizing, understanding maybe for the first time ever that there was nothing I could do or be to make myself good, acceptable, clean. It was me seeing this One, this Perfect One who came to this planet to save all people from self and sin, and He was holding His arms out to me, His heart open as it probably always had been but I never saw it. And in Him I saw true hope.

I walked into those arms. I have never felt lost again. I have been alone but seldom lonely, wrong but He is always quick to forgive when I come to Him honestly and tell Him everything. I have been sad from rejection, from hurt but He has always comforted me. I have been afraid, maybe of something I imagined but afraid just the same and He has given me courage. He strengthens me, nourishes me, refreshes me, guides and instructs me, sustains me.

His love has been since before this world and will be, forever. And He won’t ever let me go.

So even though today or any day I find myself at a place of fogginess where I can’t see the road clearly in front of me I know He is here. I know whatever direction I take, wherever I go He will be with me.

I won’t be perfect. But life will be ok. And it will be right. And true. And real.

Picture0210181032_1.jpgThank You God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

 

 

Little ones

So this week I volunteered to help keep the children of my Bible study leaders. I am on the list but more the we-are-desperate-and-cannot-find-anyone list. This has absolutely nothing to do with the children, or the requirements for keeping them but solely based on my own fear.

My son was born in the peck-of-dirt years. Those halcyon days where the more dirt and grit a child consumed the more the moms believed their immune systems were strengthened. The antiseptic baby and prophylactic pup poem is probably the best way to describe this:

“The antiseptic baby and the prophylactic pup were playing in the garden when the bunny gamboled up. They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised — It wasn’t disinfected and it wasn’t sterilized…”

My first awakening to sanitation with babies was when my niece was born, 2003. I could not wait to hold this tiny precious child and as I happily reached for her a bottle of sanitizer was shoved at me. I took it and cleaned my hands, then held her, but the joy was most guarded.

Anyway, here we are in this classroom. Five toddlers and one 10-week-old infant. There are cardboard blocks, a small wooden train set, a couple of bins with soft dolls and plastic baby dolls.

The inmates were definitely in charge of this ward.

The lady working with me was (thankfully) a grandmother. She had more recent experience than I. Her grandchildren live close by so little people didn’t frighten her at all.

Let me say right at the start, like horses, babies can sense fear. And react in different ways. They may cry, fearing a lack of control so total that they are suddenly plunged into an emotional abyss rather than cozy boundaries of lovingly murmured “Good jobs” or “no, no, we mustn’t hit our friends on the head with hammers…”

Alternatively they may simply run with it. WooHOO, no restrictions, let’s see how far I can push the envelope! The rest fall somewhere in the middle. So we had one little one who would absolutely not remove the little backpack calling for his mama, another wide open throwing toys, kicking those cardboard blocks, whooping it up, and 3  in the nirvana middle.

After an hour or so of unstructured play we sat everyone down for snack. Couldn’t remember whose bag was whose so we had random drinks, cookies, crackers, spilled water, wet napkins, cries for more. We tried to take a walk but 2 could not walk well (this 10-week-old baby) and the little one whose head got bonked with the plastic hammer.

As luck would have it there were some workmen who were making some sort of repairs which was far more interesting than our large-muscle exercises and walk up and down the hallway. So we one-handedly managed to corral everyone back to the room, until one got loose, saw one of the leaders also out in the hallway which reminded him of mama. Thus began the tears again. So we broke out the cookies –somebody’s cookies– and the magic once again settled in the room. An attempt to have a rest time was an utter fail, so the baby-whisperer grandmother suddenly had those ambulatory ones marching single file around the snack table. Pied Piper of babies. I hustled around the room replacing toys, stacking those cardboard blocks, putting the soft toys back in their bins in the cabinet and replacing the train cars on the tracks. So like “The Cat in the Hat”, all order to the room was restored when the big people returned and moms came to collect their children.

By some miracle.

a-series-of-great-toy-tractors.jpg

Poem: “Strictly Germproof”by Arthur Guiterman

Happy trails

So the movers arrive Monday to load all these cartons, crates and boxes I have been carefully packing and repacking for the past 2 years, and I will load my car with remaining orchids, tax records and assorted other stuff and drive 3 hours east. How is it that one person can have so much? I cleaned out everything the first time I packed 2 years ago, then again when I unpacked, then again when I repacked a few months ago. I don’t understand why it is so hard to let go of things I honestly have no use for and do not know I even have.

I will go through everything again when I unpack, again.

I do know where my computer is, am typing this on a laptop. No idea when I will next be at a keyboard. The canyons and caverns of boxes piled throughout my house and in the garage, the landscape of my house has changed to where I hope not to have to get up in the night for any reason because I can’t recall what I have put where. I have many new bruises, kneecaps down.

Lily is stalwart. She keeps her rawhide chews and a few select toys in a careful heap on one of her beds. She fastidiously guards any new chews I give her that she does not eat right away. Things she knew their whereabouts suddenly disappear. Things I knew suddenly disappear. I cannot remember moving or packing some very important things- the telephone, which is not on the counter where it always was, so if I mislay my cell phone I do not have a house phone to call it so I can find it. I do know where my tooth and hair brushes are, but I am very sorry for not wearing shoes against my better judgment rummaging in the garage and dropping a part of a cast iron hibachi on my foot.

Too bad it is raining today, and snow is predicted Monday.

Maybe the forecasters will be wrong.

I hope so.