negative return

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(courtesy NASA.gov)

I was 14 when Buzz Aldrin and Cmdr. Neil Armstrong walked /bounced on the moon. I recall clearly, looking at the grainy, blurred black-and-white images, trying hard to reconcile what I was seeing on a small television screen with reality. The American flag, in a place with no air, little atmosphere, stretched out as though it were held with wires.

This made a deep impression on me, but at the time (and my age) I was unable to articulate.

After the program was scuttled in 2011, today, watching this launch I actually cried.

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I felt a little silly, husky-mix rescue dog Lily walked over to me to comfort me but I wasn’t sad, just incredulous. Here we live in the most prosperous country on the planet and, with riots that serve no purpose, social divisions beyond COVID-19 ‘distancing’, political enmity, and censorship of freedoms including speech and worship, we are still reaching for the stars. Somehow I suppose I see it as a sort of escape from all these earthly woes. There is a place where people can be, far away from all of it.

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I don’t imagine, with all the poverty, persecution and environmental issues that exist, that all people see this as I do, but I have no answers. I know I do what I can to help. This man in Minneapolis who was allegedly murdered, his family has a fund that people have given to. There was a man featured amidst the infernal Minneapolis riots whose sports bar was looted and burned. He watched his life’s work be utterly and completely destroyed. He cried. A go-fund-me was started, cap set at $100,000. Last I heard it had $300,000. Americans, in general, are a compassionate, giving people.
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So I won’t begrudge my government reaching for the stars. A goal the beloved President John F. Kennedy yearned for.

And I will always know, no matter what happens or who is in government, God is sovereign.

God-speed, Astronauts Bob and Doug.
Safe journey. And safe return.

 

3770A7E2-342D-43D8-AFDB-82BBDED8A7B3 agodman.com

 

remembering in dreams

Both my parents have passed away. My mom over 30 years ago, my dad 13 years ago. We had stuff. Emotional, psychological. Some like most families, some not. I had frequent dreams about them after they died. Not awful, not exciting, they were just part of the dreams. The other day I realized I could not recall when I’d last dreamt with them in the dream. There’s been a lot going on and I tend to not remember dreams at all unless they are really lucid or vivid ones. So last night I dreamed about both of them. This dream was like a culmination of many memories from when they were living, when my son was small, when I worked for my father at his newspaper.

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Weird.

I woke not remembering clearly the dream itself as much as how I felt, and I felt much the same as I had when I was first divorced and had lost all sense of direction.

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Stressed, anxious, under pressure, inadequate. Horrible. I know in this dream, like in that part of my life I was doing the very best I could, trying too hard. I have no idea what prompted this dream or these memories. My roof has just finally been replaced, the insurance check which was more than the estimate came in time to pay the roofers. I gave them the full amount of the check, less what it would cost to paint the foyer ceiling. I do not know why I would have such a dream when my sense of responsibility is off the meter.

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My dream book says dreams of anxiety portend coming favorable circumstances. That seeking approval means instead of seeking approval from others I need to seek acceptance from myself. When parents appear in dreams after they have died it is a message of love and warmth, and sometimes a warning. Of what I have no idea.

Just hope the roof holds.

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vicious to vicTORious

Three letters inserted in a word that means spiteful, malicious, hateful… tor. It’s not a much-used word. These 3 little letters, meaning “a high rock, a pile of stones” (Oxford English Dictionary) change the basest attitude to triumph.

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I recently read a devotion by author Lysa Terkeurst about the devil. He does all he can to distract, delude, dissuade, discourage, divert me off track. He wants to make me sad, angry, self-pitying, ungrateful, hopeless, discouraged. And sometimes he is almost successful. The tears he covets are cleansing, not destructive. The more he produces frustrated tears, the more washed my soul. He never wins.

Because of my Rock.

Dorian, as destructive as it was to many places did very little damage to my area. But it did not miss me. Maybe the damage began with last year’s storms and became evident this year. I am among those now waiting for insurance companies, adjusters, appraisers to give me a final word about the roof. But the Rock in my life is my steady, strong anchor. Not a stumbling block. This Rock keeps me on course, gives me hope, strength and encouragement.

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So though repairs are largely a frustrating plan-and-wait, at the mercy of other people and their schedules I cling to the Rock.

No matter how capricious life is, He never leaves.

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(pinterest.com)

He puts His power in me through my faith in Him.

 

 

 

life on the river

I have never built a raft and explored a river. It seemed though wherever I lived (six states), I found myself near large bodies of water. With the exception of three and a half years in Tennessee. I can count the time I lived in New Mexico because the town where I lived, Farmington, is at the confluence of 3 rivers, The Animas, La Plata and San Juan.

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The other 4 states, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Florida are all coastal and each is  very different.

Here I have the bonus of a large river, the Cape Fear. Being a tidal river some days when rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I go there for our walk we can’t walk alongside the water but this morning the tide was out. Its mouth is near enough to the ocean that it is mainly salt water, not brackish and Lily forgets.

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Which is why I carry drinking water in the car for her. So normally we’ll see a few beached jellyfish, clam shells. As we walked up the bank there were hundreds of tiny scurrying objects that I figured were these centipede-like insects that hang around washed up driftwood. We got closer and they all darted into little holes in the bank sand which those bug things don’t do. They were tiny fiddler crabs.

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This is one hiding in front of a lump of sand. He does not have the fiddle claw, a claw as big as the crab.

IMG_1149.JPGLulu inspecting more closely

The larger claws look harmless but they actually have a powerful pinch so I avoided those with them. The others have tiny pincers which will cling on you but are not painful.

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I wonder what the little crab thought. Cornered by an unimaginably overwhelming creature that didn’t look anything like a crab. Anything that looks unfamiliar is perceived to be the enemy. Fight or flight. The little crabs all fled for their holes but those who got cornered  away from safety raised their little claws. Harmless maybe, but it was all they had. To another little crab it is a formidable weapon.

I am not often up against an enemy. I had the great good fortune to be born in the United States where life has been for the most part peaceful. Despite our differences I also had the good fortune to have parents who taught me to be responsible, never a victim. I was taught to put up my claw and fight when I needed to. Usually with words, calmly but with the strength of truth behind me. When I am wrong I was taught to admit my error and apologize if it was necessary and bear no grudge. My mother taught me to move forward without holding grudges. My dad taught me to be the bigger person in the event of an unfair difference and make amends.

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As I have lived more on my own, and raising a son I have better understood Holden Caulfield’s angst. Catcher in the Rye was not on the banned books list when I was in 7th grade and I understood why some books are worth reading if for nothing else than to emulate and be empathic in what pre-teens go through. Some don’t I imagine but most do.

And God. No matter what or who God listens. He sees. He knows and I can tell Him. I learned the value of His friendship in Jesus Christ.

Never alone.

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strength

Nerves of steel. Iron willed. Rock solid. Unflappable. So many images to describe someone who can withstand adversity. Even capricious betrayal.

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Someone convinces me that s/he is sincerely in my corner, only wanting to help, but instead of my normal step back to consider the thing I jump right in, believing this person is actually the genuine, concerned, true clear thinker that I am not at the moment.

Mistake. At rescue dog Lulu’s expense.

As a person said, after the altered-universe nightmare was over, hindsight is 20/20. Yes. And I know this. I have known it since I entered into a marriage that should never have happened.

When does one finally learn? When do I get to look back and not say “hindsight is 20/20”?

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Sure, she likely needed the treatments she received, but I needed to make that decision. I am old enough to know better. I need to remember it is almost never that anyone else has my best interests in mind or even at heart. Certainly not when s/he is insisting I do something their way. I need to not worry oh gosh what will s/he think of me if I make a different choice.

Lulu mattered. Not the controlling person.

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Mercifully Lulu is none the worse for the experience. The same cannot be said for me. It was not the expense. It was visiting my little dog and seeing her collapse in exhaustion because she cannot sleep in a tense environment with 24-hour noise, prodding of needles and not eating, receiving fluids because she is too terrified to drink on her own.

It was seeing her wild-eyed, cradled in my arms unable to relax until she slept. It was being home without her, my other rescue dog, Lily greeting me when I came home from visiting Lulu sniffing every centimeter of my arms and hands, going to the back door to look for Lulu, who was not there.

It was going to pick Lulu up on my appointed day to bring her home to be met by the ICU tech telling me, no, Lulu is not going home, and me replying Yes, Lulu is coming home today, and bringing her home.

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Thank God Lulu is fine. But now I have another person to put on my “Not to be trusted” list. A person who encouraged me to do a thing and resolved issues vicariously through my experience.

Whatever. I’m just glad it is over. And Lulu is home. The lump on her throat which appeared is still there but not a bother to her in any way, and an emergency vet experience made her no better than her own vet would have. She did need care beyond what I could offer, but not dire.

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But then I will never know. And I have trust issues. The person who told me Lulu needed to go there may have meant well but I know enough to know that people also can have an agenda. So I can remember, if such a thing should ever happen again to say thank you, I will consider the suggestion. And think about it.

And pray that there are no other dire circumstances at the same time, like a broken tree falling in the backyard …..

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sticks and stones

Build a great house but they can do a lot of harm when used as weapons.

My mom taught me that rhyme when I was little. I must have had a bad day in second grade and was letting her know. It’s amazing how much easier it was to memorize from then. Now I can’t remember seven seconds ago what I went into another room for.

So I tried using that thing once or twice but gave it up when I realized it really didn’t work.

Words can hurt.

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Several years ago a neighbor who had been shunned from everyone in our little cul-de-sac asked if she could join me on my morning walks. I said sure and we arranged to meet a few mornings later.

She opened her heart to me and told me how difficult her marriage was. I listened for a while and when she mentioned something her husband had said I quoted that little verse. She came right back with how wrong that was.

It never occurred to me to think any differently.

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So this is probably why psychotherapy became such a multi-million dollar business, and people bought up those self-help books. To me therapy was nothing more than paying someone to be a friend. But I realize some have been deeply scarred. And some come to a point where hope is so dim help has to come from someone trained to listen and offer help beyond what friends can offer.

I have always listened to other people. For me sharing in other people’s troubles connects on a level where I can help them carry a trouble, a hurt, a burden. I think we were created to share with others on many levels, like this….

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But sometimes life does not offer a friend and I pray. Or offer prayers for others. I depend on Someone who is always reliable.

And always there.

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So like the donkey that fell in the well, when people started throwing dirt down to bury him in that well he stepped aside and as the dirt grew into a large pile, stepped on top of it until he could climb out.

There is always hope.

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resilience

It’s strange. It’s like the trauma of the storm has regenerated spring. I first noticed some petunia seeds I sprinkled on a hanging basket from last March which were profusely blooming all summer long. I brought them in during the storm because they are fragile and they promptly dropped all their blooms and disappeared.  Nothing but black potting soil. Ever the optimist I rehung the basket and watered it a couple of weeks ago just after the storm. Now this

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Then, watering in the front yard several days later I looked up to see the Bradford pear (which isn’t actually fruit bearing at all but an ornamental tree). Most of these trees broke apart in the storm or were irreparably damaged in some way because they are disease- and insect infestation-prone, but mine survived.  This

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in full bloom with new leaves sprouting. One of my favorite small nurseries and plant supply stores explained it this way: the trauma these plants endured made them regenerate with something of a vengeance and those that bloom are doing so for survival, to set seed. My river birch (the tree my elderly neighbor has a personal vendetta against) also is putting out new leaves

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So I have no idea what this means for the fall season. We don’t really get much fall color here because we’re sub-tropic and it doesn’t get that fall cold edge really. But I’ve not seen this before.

Then we have the “normal” fall flowers, goldenrod

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But resilience. We bounce back. We may have a set back but we get our bearings, dig into our resources, get creative, work hard and regain whatever ground may have been lost.

Nature’s way, human nature’s way, too.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  –Joshua 1:9

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.”   –2 Timothy 1:7

 

storms of life

It could have been so much worse.

Don’t get me wrong… we’re still in the midst of the thing. We were fortunate in many ways– Florence was a category 1 storm when it made landfall. With threats of becoming a monster cat 5 with winds over 150 miles an hour we were fortunate to experience up to 105 mph winds. Bad enough, but not catastrophic.

The worst of it is the storm is not moving. Or just barely. Like taking a leisurely 2 or 3 mile an hour stroll. But Florence is not only strolling. This storm is still drawing up moisture from the third of the storm that is over the warm Atlantic Ocean and dumping on my area and areas in about a 200-mile radius. And this radius, as the storm weakens, is expanding. There are winds, but nothing like we heard two nights ago. I understand why people describe tornadoes as sounding like freight trains.

My house is maybe 10 miles, give or take from any large water source: the ocean, all the area creeks and the Cape Fear River. The river has flooded its banks into downtown.

Before the storm all ferry service to the barrier islands and outer banks stopped the night before as did our little airport . All bridges into my town closed when the storm winds were 40 mph. Just today the only interstate access here was closed from flooding. Stores are still boarded up, closed. Gas tankers cannot get here to fill up all the stations which emptied the night before the storm.

So there is now no way in or out of here.

Remarkably there have been attempts at looting. Well in advance of this storm it was made very clear that extra law enforcement and national guardsmen would be in areas under mandatory evacuation to protect from looting. So all 6 people who decided to see if they meant it are now in county lock-up.

Good. Disasters like this make even the most formidable vulnerable in ways they could never imagine. The entire state of North Carolina will be inundated with more rain over several days. Projected flooding is predicted to be historic. Everywhere.

The pendulum swings. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Will we now experience extreme drought in the coming months, years?

The disaster response is humbling. The “Cajun Navy”– those guys with outboards from Louisiana that came to so many rescues in Houston and surrounding after Harvey are here. People come out of nowhere with chainsaws to help remove trees (where there are no power lines involved) and open small neighborhood roads. And as soon as roads are passable and the rains come closer to stopping 40,000 linesmen from 17 states are on stand-by to come in and help restore power to over 600,000 homes who are without.

So thank you, anyone who followed this storm, wherever you are, and thought of us at its mercy. Thank you for any prayers, good thoughts or concerns. That is what people need to do anymore.

Just care.

Thank you.

DnDqsKVXcAAv3GQ-1024x683.jpgHurricane Florence, September 14, 2018 Courtesy of NASA https://blogs.nasa.gov/hurricanes/tag/tropical-cyclone-6/

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”     Jeremiah 29:11-13

not searching for Grey Man

When my brother and I were little our family vacationed at a small, out of the way South Carolina beach. Each summer for a week we enjoyed a happy, stressless week with usually the same other families. Three incredible meals, huge breakfasts of eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, dinner at midday and supper in evening. The most restful sleep we could have.

At the end of our week a few of the adults would prepare a bonfire around which all the children would sit, wide-eyed listening to the famous story of the Grey Man. As happens with story telling there are many backgrounds to this legend. The one shared with us was of a young woman waiting impatiently for her fiancé who was away at war.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, her fiancé had been killed. Wandering the beaches one early foggy morning she saw in the distance what appeared to be a young man, tattered clothing, slowly lifting his arm to wave, and suddenly vanished into the mist.

Soon after she learned of her beloved’s death, just at the time a hurricane was anticipated. The families left the island and upon returning found all their homes had been demolished, all save the family of the young woman who had seen the apparition. Curtains still hung in the open windows, laundry still on the line.

Just at that moment in the telling of the story, some one of the group clad in a sheet would leap out from the sand dunes, all the children knowing this would happen still shrieked and were chased all over the beach, laughing.

The legend is that anyone who sees the ghost before an impending storm will return to find their property untouched. As I recall this memory one of the news stations is broadcasting the horrific events that happened on this day, seventeen years ago. The attacks on America.

So no, though I  admire the order of the natural world I cling daily to only God. No matter what happens, He is truly the only One who can restore order to chaos.

This day when I remember so much horror that happened for no reason other than abject hatred and utter evil I am thankful to the God of all that is. He gives us strength to rebuild, help others, to restore what was lost. We can’t bring back the innocent lives that many still mourn but we can do all within our power to see this does not happen again. It won’t eliminate evil but we know that no matter what, evil does not, in the end, win.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpg9/11 Memorial, World Trade Center, New York City

See you on the other side.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”   __ James 4:7