Post Irma musings

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As I sit on my cousin’s porch here in Tennessee, the air is cool in the midst of my favorite season.  The birds are filled with song and two little squirrels are chasing each other up, down and around a tree.  In the midst of one of the most chaotic seasons of my life, I sing praises to my Creator and thank Him for His abundant mercy and the beauty of my surroundings.

After losing our home in hurricane Irma, I am a grateful guest in a household that is filled with the love of Christ.

Due to my granddaughter’s health condition and fearing long lines and possible fuel shortages, we fled the state of Florida prior to Irma’s approach.  Some said we were over-reacting but I had prayed about it, discussed with my husband and had peace with our decision.  He would stay and continue to make preparations and be close to assess the aftermath and my daughter, granddaughter and I would head for the hills.

The first weekend I was here I remember sitting in Sunday school thinking that if I let one tiny teardrop fall, I was going to bawl a big ole ugly cry in front of a room full of people I didn’t know.  I did cry during service as the Pastor described efforts already underway to send trucks of essentials and workers down to assist in our area.

The emotions pre-Irma, mid-Irma and post-Irma have been like the tea-cup ride at Disney.  One minute you’re screaming as someone spins the cup faster and faster and the next minute, you need to throw up.  And, all of my emotions have been from afar, so add a strange sense of guilt for not being there with and for my friends and family.  All I could do was pray, and that I did and continue to.

Mid-Irma, we watched with horror as we experienced wind and storm surge in real-time, thanks to Facebook, face time and videos sent to us.  We sometimes watched along with the people we love who stayed to ride it out, hearing the fear in their voices as the waters continued to rise.  Thankfully, technology also provided a way to let us know everyone was safe immediately after the worst of it.

Post-Irma my husband sent pictures of the destruction as he walked for the first time back into what we once called home. We cried along with him.  We lamented some of our most painful material losses together, always thankful that we still had each other.

Then we shed overwhelming tears of gratitude as we saw people from all over; loved ones, clients and strangers begin to load up trucks like the hands and feet of Jesus, destination Everglades City, to unload a little bit of love and hope.

Homeless Irma victims, we have so much to be thankful for.  We have family who immediately opened their home to us until we can find a place of our own, more family and friends, clients and colleagues who have blessed us with gift cards, money, prayers and encouragement, and a place for my husband to stay while he is down there working.  We have our lives and our precious memories of how things used to be.

We have a lot to do and some new paths to forge but I remain steadfast in the knowledge that my God will provide.  He has not forsaken us, nor will He.  This life is fragile and our things are perishable but His love is everlasting and His promises are sure.  I pray for wisdom to follow without hesitation His perfect direction and plan for my life.

My deepest gratitude to all who have helped in any way.  May God richly bless you.

Sunny: Daily prompt

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A lone buoy

I have always considered it a compliment to be on the receiving end of the phrase, “You have a sunny disposition”.  When I consider it, I think about a bright sunshiny day free of rain and clouds, warm and bright.

However, after just coming inside after my brief lunch break spent on my dock here in sunny, SW FL, I’m having second thoughts.

Being an early riser, the 11 o’clock hour (and often my tummy) heralds my lunch time.  I work from home and all day I’ve been longing for the outdoors.  The sun spills in from my window, casting a warm glow and I can see but a few puffs of cottony clouds slowing passing by.

I send my co-workers an IM telling them it’s that time and I’ll return soon, and I might have even teased them a bit about my yummy leftovers and the lovely, sunny day calling my name.  Hurriedly, I heat up my leftovers, fill my favorite glass with ice cubes and pour in some delicious iced tea, and don my sunglasses and flip flops.

I step outside relishing the initial feel of the heat, since I am coming out of a well air-conditioned (my husband would say too well, but that’s another story) environment. Making my way to my lounge chair, ready to slip off the flips flops, relax and enjoy my lunch, I take in the beauty of the green grass and flower blossoms.

As I reach my chair and sit down, carefully balancing my plate and placing my iced tea on the dock beside me, I accidentally brush against one of the arms of the chair and “yikes” that burns!  Whew, I will have to avoid that area.  Not that easily dissuaded, I get myself situated and begin to eat.  I’m thinking the microwave really wasn’t necessary as my food would have been well heated within minutes out here.

I look around and even the birds flying over seem slow and languishing.  Thinking about my husband who is out today on a fishing guide trip, I wonder if he is finding any breeze and hope for his sake and that of his clients that he is.

After I had eaten my food and downed the entire glass of tea and began munching on ice, I had to call it quits.  The heat was relentless, I was sweating and I had given up all hope for a breeze.  A sunny disposition, huh?  Well, let’s revisit that.   This type of sunny would imply an eerily still, breathless, sweltering, burning heat.

About this time, true to Florida weather pattern, I see a large angry looking cloud forming in the east and I know that before the birds succumb to heat stroke, they will see relief.  As for me, I’m back in the good ole’ AC for now, banging this out before my lunch break is over.

Killing Orchids

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My thumb is not a nice dark green.  I suppose it’s more of a seafoam or chartreuse color.  What I am trying to say is that I seem to have about a 60/40 chance of growing beautiful things.  Many of my plants do indeed thrive.  They have deep, robust color and if a bloomer, they have plentiful and hearty offerings.

Then there are those that start off with a bang, bring me viewing pleasure for months and then die a slow and pitiful death right before my eyes.  Others limp along, making little progress only to become diseased.

In the past I attempted to grow orchids.  My sister does a great job with them and hers always look beautiful.  My friend, Rudy has several that thrive.  She shows pictures of them on Facebook and I gaze in wonder at their beauty.   One of my uncles used to have many different varieties and he also seemed to believe they were not hard to grow successfully.

I have brought several of them home with high hopes and visions of grandeur, imagining an entire shelf popping with several blooms in every shade of color in various heights.  I have cringed as I watched one after another succumb to my inefficient treatment (and they aren’t cheap!).   Much to my dismay, I’ve never seen one last for more than a month or so.  Yes, I have read about the lighting, fertilization and watering and I have also solicited advice from the above mentioned orchid hall of famers.  All to no avail I might add.

Then, I read something the other day.  It was about how when the bloom falls off; you can cut the stem a little below the bloom and wait.  Often, although it can take a long time, your orchid will bloom again.  No one told me this.  I always thought that once that flower was gone, it was as good as dead.  Now I learn that as long as my leaves still have some life to them, it is very possible that my orchid will rise again to its former splendor.  I just needed to wait!  Isn’t the waiting always the hardest part?  I’m sure some of you are laughing at my ignorance right now and I can’t say that I blame you.

So, I considered my hydrangea which is my favorite flower ever and not the easiest to grow this far south (at least not for me).  All the leaves had fallen off.  I could barely remember the last flower.  But, I haven’t had much time for yard work lately so I hadn’t dug it up yet.  I went out and took a peek and lo and behold, there are several green leaves gracing that once barren little collection of sticks.  Therefore, I will wait.

In life, one of the things we have the hardest time with is waiting.  We wait for the phone to ring, we wait for the water to boil, and we wait in line.  We wait for the answer to that prayer.  We hear, “good things come to those who wait”, extolling the virtue of patience.  And in our exasperation, we throw out the orchid, we dig up the hydrangea and we avoid the plant aisle for fear of another failure.

I have learned today in my mediation on this topic and my prayer is that you have too.  We will have to wait for the fruition of good things.  We might have to look at an ugly barren stem for a while before we realize the beauty.  May we be more patient with things, but more importantly with people.  Let’s set our sights on the coming growth and glorious blooms instead of the dead branches of the now.  I want to see what God see’s when He looks at me; His plan and the possibilities.

His biggest fan

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As I lovingly watched my husband playing catch in the floor with our granddaughter last night, it was like Déjà vu.  Wasn’t it just yesterday, instead of over 20 years ago that he sat doing the same thing with her mother?  One of my favorite things about my husband is unconditional the love he has always shown to his girls; daughters and granddaughters.

Today we celebrate 23 years as one and although we have been through many things, they have only served to strengthen us.  It isn’t really what you go through though, that will ultimately either make you or break you; it’s how you handle what you go through.  As you “partner” through things, making sure to communicate, you find your love and respect for each other grows.

As life happens, we are often tempted to take one of several different roles.  At times we put on our long black robe and become judge, doling out opinions of guilt or innocence, and deciding what sentence we will impose.  At other times we wear the disguise of investigator, seeking and searching for clues and facts to settle our rabid curiosity or to put our insecurities to rest.

We all think we are attorneys sometimes and we take much pride and care in arguing our case, we dwell on the offense and prepare exhaustively to defend ourselves.  It’s not always worth it; pick your battles.

Maybe (usually in our younger years) we put on a warden or police uniform and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be at all times, dogging our charges to ensure their behavior meets our expectations, enforcing our rules.  We all like to play comedian at times and tease each other but don’t demean each other in front of others.  You shouldn’t do it anyway, but in front of people is especially cruel.  What begins as teasing or joking can become a habit of insulting and degrading each other.  Shelter each other as best you can and keep your problems to yourself within reason.  Build each other up, don’t tear down.

None of the aforementioned roles serve to strengthen when played out in a marriage; as a matter of fact they tear down and destroy.

On the positive side, we can be teachers, learning from and sharing with each other along the way.   We can put on a white coat as we nurture one another back to health.   Some of us don’t mind at all donning our waitress uniform and apron as we dazzle our beloved with delicious dishes.   Our male counterparts seem to enjoy the greasy old mechanics uniform as they try to “fix” everything, when sometimes we don’t need to be fixed, just heard (but hey, as least they are trying).

I find I am happiest when I am just intent on being his best friend, his lover and his biggest fan, praising his accomplishments and forgiving his failures.  There is a lot to be said about that old saying, “if you treat him like a king, he’ll treat you like a queen.”  Are there exceptions?  Do some marriages fail no matter what you do?  Yes and yes.

Am I saying things are always perfect?  Absolutely not, and they won’t be this side of heaven. Do I have it all figured out?  Nope, but I’m working towards it.  I do know from years of experience if I keep my focus on God and practice the kind of love He has shown to me; He will keep me in perfect peace.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Rain, glorious rain

Storms never last

The rumbling sound of distant thunder heralded the impending arrival of the storm.  The skies took on a darkened broodiness and the birds fluttered from tree to tree seeking shelter.  Their frantic bird song sounded as if they were warning each other or calling their children home.

The fragrance and heaviness of rain clung to the air in droplets invisible. The coming storm was inevitable.

Soon the sound of raindrops could be heard as well as felt.  They fell lightly at first like a sweet baby’s kiss, then heavier they fell, larger in number and pelting my exposed skin, driving me to shelter.

The thunder was closer and a crack of lightening split the sky.  All the birds were now silent in their places of refuge.  The trees and shrubs were bending and swaying with the wind, the tender flowers taking a beating.

The sound of rain was all around, pelting the windows, falling on the rooftops, splashing into puddles, rushing down the gutters and spilling to the ground, a melodious symphony.

Rain, glorious rain, falling, falling down, refreshing the earth.

Adrift

Relaxed

Relaxed

I can hear the water as it tickles the bottom of the boat; a comforting sound.  The sky is a bright blue with snippets of white puffy clouds and the sun is hovering around its 4 pm eastern position on this lovely day.

My book is splayed open in my right hand for ease in reading and the beach towel rolled up at the end of the boat seat provides an agreeable resting place for my head.  The late hour of the day allows me to lounge on the metal seat without burning my legs.

Floating aimlessly behind my house, I can hear faint sounds of my younger brother and sister playing with our German Shepard, Yahtzee.

I am 13 and I am in my favorite place, doing my favorite thing in peace and relative quiet.  Adrift and loving it.

Adrift

New Orleans Facts and Monkey-business

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“Nana, she wants my grits!”

As I relax for a while this afternoon and relive events from the past 24 hours, I am reminded of how quickly time passes and how seasons change when we aren’t looking.  We are continually depositing memories into our life account.  When we are older and have more time to ourselves, may we all have a vast sum to draw from.

Last night this nana decided there would be a sleepover with both of my granddaughters.  My 7 yr old Ayda, who is on spring break from NC and my little local Cali, who celebrated her 1st last week.  Ayda was staying with Nana anyway and Cali’s mommy was at the point of sleep deprivation where I thought it best to intervene and give her a break.

As I knew it would be, the night was long, yet too short and both glorious and exhausting and that’s okay.  Such is life.

Our little one was nicknamed monkey-butt while still serving her time in the NICU.  This was due to her inclination towards wrapping her tiny little toes around the hospital bed bars and hanging on.  Last night, her antics were better described as monkey-business.  First she doggedly pursued her elder cousin determined to share her bowl of cheese grits.  Ayda was very patient and kind and actually enjoyed her “big cousin” role as Cali crawled after her like the energizer bunny and repeatedly stuck her fingers in the bowl.  Yes, I could have made Ayda go to the table, but what would be the fun in that?   It was an after dinner snack.

Next they played with a stiff, stuffed cat with a leash that meowed incessantly.  I honesty tried to let it go on, but the noise unfortunately wasn’t falling on deaf ears and I could only suffer for so long.  That kind of toy is supposed to be what I buy to send home with them, not the other way around.  Following my interruption of the cat game, they began to play with plastic eggs.  Ayda would roll one and Cali would chase after it only to have it slip from her slobbery little fingers so she could chase it again.  We got a few laughs out of that.

Later, Miss Cali persevered and achieved a record for her latest night ever.  She managed to keep Nana and Papa awake until after 10 pm, a first for her.  Her mommy usually has her in bed well before 7 so we aren’t sure what provoked the late night.  The way she kept eyeballing the front door, I suspect she was waiting for mommy and daddy.  Ayda snuggled up with a blanket on the couch and gave up around 9, probably tired of the tiny ones shenanigans.

Since Papa had to work bright and early, he headed off for the guest room as I had pulled the pack and play into ours.  We both knew the long night was likely just beginning and he needed to sleep.  Sure enough, she was up around midnight to polish off a bottle which Nana couldn’t heat fast enough and then up again from 4 to 5 just because.  Ayda came through right before five for a potty break and made frantic motions indicating that she needed the bathroom light on.  I did the only thing I could do.  Rocking back and forth (back aching) with a sleepy infant on my chest, I grabbed my kindle and turned it on and threw it to the end of the bed.  I whispered, “Use that for a light”.  She went in there, kindle in hand and did her business like a trooper.  I recall wondering if I would hear the kindle splash and realizing if it meant the baby stayed asleep, I didn’t care.  I would deal with that tomorrow.

When Cali sat up and made her “laughing with my binky in my mouth” sound around 6:15, I knew she was ready to roll and I was certainly ready for coffee and wondering again why I had offered to do this.

Ayda was up shortly thereafter and starving, so she needed breakfast.  Cali was hungry too so I attempted to please both of them, but not before pouring myself a nice, large, piping hot, cup of coffee.  Papa took Cali as he knew this wasn’t a job for the non-caffeinated nana.   Cali started making poop noises about this time, so I figured I better wait to feed her when she was finished making room.

As soon as Ayda was finished eating, she picked up her “new” notebook, which in reality had been MY new cute notebook, but not anymore.  She began to recite aloud all of the words she had written down to teach Cali.  I had to listen carefully to each one, or they would be repeated.  Clean diapered Cali was on my lap, trying to get to my phone and the remote controls, whichever one required more pain for Nana’s miscellaneous body parts.

About this time, Ayda decided she needed the laptop to look up facts about New Orleans and she was still hungry.  Cali was cranky due to lack of sleep and Nana was barely awake herself.  I put Cali down, which made her mad, ran to the other room and googled “facts about New Orleans”, hit submit and ran back to the living room to change Cali’s diaper again.  Ayda said, “Nana, its saying no internet found” so I picked up Cali like a football and ran the other direction to assist.

A few moments later, Ayda writing down “facts” and Cali slurping drowsily on a warm bottle, her little eyes rolling back in her head from exhaustion and Papa comes in, closing the front door A LITTLE TOO LOUDLY for Nana’s liking.  Cali bolted straight up and looked around smiling and Ayda came in and said, “Nana, did you know that New Orleans was F-O-U-N-D-E-D”, “I said, “founded, honey” and she said, “Yes, founded in 1718”.  I said in my most sincere Nana voice, “Wow, what a cool fact!  That was over 200 years ago”.  She replied, “Nana, you weren’t even born yet, huh?”

I looked down and noticed that monkey butt was fast asleep.  Ayda snuggled up to me on the other side and lovingly looked up at me and said, “Nana I am still hungry, but I’m not going to eat again until you can”, thereby melting my heart for about the hundredth time since she arrived.

About that time Cali’s mommy texted and was ready to see her baby.  Nana was ready for her to see her baby too.

Oddly enough, a couple of hours later when Ayda and her Mommy and Cali and her Mommy all left on the golf cart for a ride, Nana missed them and found herself looking forward to their return so the chaos could ensue once again.  I know Ayda will be gone on Thursday and it will be a while before I see her again and of course, we are still just so thankful that Cali is with us and healthy.  I cherish the moments, good and bad, fun and frenzied because I know from experience how quickly this life is passing us by and how we never know what will happen from one moment to the next.

We have to enjoy this crazy, wonderful life and enjoy those the good Lord has blessed us with.  I can promise you it’s not always sunshine and rainbows but when there is love and appreciation, you can find the joy in the midst of the mayhem and in the stinkiest of jobs.

Later

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LATER

I will tell him I love him later,
I will whisper it in his ear
Not now, but I’ll do it later
He knows, but he still likes to hear

I will call and apologize later
Right now I’ll just sit and stew
It’s not my fault that she took it that way
We just have different points of view

We will play catch outside a little later
After the dishes are done
When your bedroom is back in order
Then I promise we’ll go have some fun

The frustrating thing about later
Is that later sometimes doesn’t come
So let’s do it right now and not later
Please don’t wait til’ the sinking sun

Daily Prompt: Heard

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I heard the roar of the ocean’s waves as they chased me back towards the shore and the sounds of tiny hustling crab feet scurrying across the sand.

The gulls were flapping their wings, crying out to tell the others their fish stories and the palm trees were gently swaying in the breeze.

The crunch of the sand was a delight underneath my toes and the salty air tasted like summer on my tongue.

What perfect bliss, just this beautiful day and me now perched on a blanket with a book in my hand.  The only thing that could make this better, I thought to myself,  is a nice long nap in the sunshine.

As the balmy breeze coaxed me to sleep, I heard a noise; at first it seemed far away, but the noise grew louder and louder.  It was shrill and out of place and a feeling akin to panic came over me.

My eyes flew open to discover that it was my hateful alarm clock; it’s unwelcome explosion of noise heralding a new day and ruining my beautiful dream.

Daily Prompt:  Heard

Facing Fears

 

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I just wanted to have a little fun today so I tried a little different style than normal.

She began to shake from her insides out, or so it felt.  She clasped her now sweaty palms together under her desk and felt as if she could squeeze the very blood out of them if she tried.  Her feet seemed glued to the floor and her socks were damp with moisture.  It was difficult to get a deep breath so she began to feel lightheaded.

The moment had come, the day of reckoning.  Could she do this?  Would her trembling legs support her thin frame?  If she opened her mouth to speak, would words come?  As she stood on shaky limbs a sudden feeling of nausea overwhelmed her.  She picked up the lone piece of paper from the desk and gripped it a little too tightly, her damp hands smudging the print.

Eyes wide with fright and all of her senses on edge, she heard a voice that sounded like it was far, far away.  “Lilly, did you hear me?”  She managed a tremulous nod and began moving forward at a snail’s pace.  She felt the eyes upon her as she walked the short distance to the place to which she was being beckoned.  The walk seemed to take forever and that was okay with her.

Every part of her longed to run but she had to face this fear.  Lilly Underwood was no coward.

When she reached her destination, she stopped, turned and planted her sneaker clad feet, facing the class.  It was finally her turn.

She began.  My book report is on Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White…….

 

 

Daily Prompt:  Tremble

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