Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite (2)

Leaving New Orleans

Leaving New Orleans

Weekly Photo Challenge: One shot, two ways

Beneath the surface


Today as I looked out over the black, murky waters in the swamp at Jean Lafitte National Preserve, I thought about how you have no idea what is under the surface.  In the picture above, the gator popped up and started swimming toward us.  One minute the water was calm and the next, he surfaced and caused a wake, the black water rippling out around him as he swam right toward us.

My husband and I are both Florida natives and are no strangers to alligators and their habits.  We aren’t afraid of them as some people are, but we respect them.  However, as my husband knows, I’ve never been a fan of swimming in the swamp like a lot of people do on occasion.  This is definitely because I am not privy to what is below the surface.  In my most likely, overactive imagination, I envision not only gators, but snakes; and not just a snake, but nests of them and all manner of slimy creeping things and flesh eating parasites.  This is in all probability not the case, but until I know that for a fact, my body will stay above, thank you very much!

The water makes me think of people and personalities and how unless we know them extremely well (and sometimes even when we do), we don’t always know what is beneath the surface.   We don’t know of the private struggles, the personal failures, the pain kept inside.

We are only able to observe and glean from that which surfaces.    It’s only then that we see the emotion, thoughts and actions they allow to break through the outer wall and be felt and heard and viewed.  For many people, more walls go up with every infraction felt against them, so what we see may be very carefully wrapped up and concealed.

Knowing this, I often wonder why we aren’t all more patient with people.  We generally judge from first glance, make our minds up after a first encounter.  Have we even unveiled the first layer at this point?   I know I am thankful for the friends and loved ones in my life who took the time to search me out, to find the gems and ignore the ugliness.  It reminds me of how our heavenly Father takes the time to search our hearts; He doesn’t look on the outside, but at our heart.  Of course, we don’t have the privilege to look there with omnipotent, all-seeing eyes, but we can take the time to at least search it out to the best of our limited human ability.

I know I’ve touched on this before here, but it bears repeating.  Why don’t we try to take more time with people, to show love and kindness, offer consolation and prayer and who knows, we might unwrap something of vast beauty!

Cherish them!

The girls when they were young

The girls when they were young

I’m sitting here wrapped up in a blanket in July, in New Orleans, because my eldest keeps her house like a meat locker.  I’m not complaining though, because I couldn’t be happier at this moment, if only I could lose the sinus headache.

It’s funny to sit here and listen to my daughters arguing over how much salt to put in the mashed potatoes and whether they are better with skin off or on.

It seems like only yesterday their arguments were far more boisterous and trespasses were not as quickly forgiven.  There were days I thought I would explode if I heard, “Mom!” one more time.  Now, there are days when I actually miss it.

There is nothing better than having family together, listening to the chatter and the laughter, recalling old memories and creating new ones.

I wish everyone would realize how important family is and make it a priority.  Life is fleeting and there is nothing like the love of family.  Your children will grow up so fast and time will really begin to fly more quickly the older you get.  Enjoy them, love them, cherish their smiles and laughter and forgive hastily.  Don’t set yourself up for regrets.

Love and blessings!

Reflecting and preparing

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

Ashley and Morgan; then and now

It was that time of day when things are getting quiet everywhere.

Outside, the birds are seeking a place to roost, traffic slows down in the neighborhood and people begin to go indoors to settle in for the day.

From where I am sitting, I can see palm trees gently swaying in the breeze, but I can no longer see the streak of sunlight across my dining room floor; the same streak that Ayda found her shadow in when they were here just three long days ago.

I remember watching her quietly, not wanting to spoil the moment.  She would find it and pounce, trying to catch it, and then look for it again, line her little body up just right and try again.  The ever elusive shadow kept her busy for several minutes, an eternity for a toddler.  I remember thinking, “Enjoy this, Nana….capture this moment in your mind’s photo shop so you can enjoy it when they’re gone”.

And way too quickly, they were.  I fought back the tears as I leaned in to kiss her goodbye.  She was already strapped in nice and snugly in her car seat.  Away they drove, leaving me with an ache in my heart that felt like a brass fist clenched tightly around it.

Oh, and it wasn’t only Ayda.  My eldest waved from the car window, her blonde hair bouncing around her shoulders; the hair I used to put in pony tails, pig tails and bows, which she always fought me over.

Her husband and my youngest shared the front seat.  My baby, my youngest (wasn’t she in diapers yesterday?!?) was driving for the first leg of the journey.  The days of Barbie jeeps, speeding up and down our street until the batteries died, are long gone for this nostalgic mother.

Little Sis heading to her Big sister’s home in New Orleans for a visit that will wrap up the remainder of her last Spring Break as a high school student.  Spending Spring Break together is a tradition with them that I hope they keep.

Yes, this house is eerily quiet and lifeless (except for me of course).  And all of the things I thought I would do when I got the time, the solitude, and the silence are left waiting.  It seems I don’t have the motivation to do them today.  I look forward to my husband’s footsteps on the porch to break the silence and his kiss when he comes inside.

I’m glad that I always told my girls that as important as they are, one day they would leave and begin their own lives, leaving dad and I alone.  And for this reason, they must not complain when we spent quality, child-free time together; time spent nurturing our relationship so that when we were alone one day, we’d have invested wisely and be able to draw from that.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Mitch Teemley

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