Wednesday, October 31, 2012

National Novel Writing Month

One year ago today I embarked on a writing challenge. The project -- write a novel of  50,000 words in 30 days. That's 1,667 words a day, every single day of November. I did it and got the badge to prove it. Where is that novel? In a manilla folder in the bottom drawer of my desk, of course. That's what they say happens to first novels. I don't know for sure who they, and I said it wouldn't happen to my novel, but it did.

No worries. This month I'll be writing my 2nd novel and it won't end up in a folder in the bottom desk drawer. It can't, that spot's already taken.

Anyone who wants to cheer me on is welcome to ask how I'm doing and how it's coming. You are welcome to prod me, cajole, scold, tease, even belittle me if I'm falling behind. And then if I don't catch up, kick my behind.  And if there is anyone out there reading this that is doing Nano this year, let me know and we can link up.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time Flies

Whether you're having fun or not, time flies! But I am having fun, and I hope you are too. This week I read a delightful book, Maria, My Own Story, by Maria Von Trapp. Did you know she had a very difficult childhood? Neither did I. It's such a good story, I highly recommend you order up a copy. She wrote several other books, but this one is copywrited early 1970. The book that the famous Sound of Music was taken from was penned in 1949. Other books were written by her and published more recently, early this millenium. I'd like to read another when I find make the time.

The problem with me and reading is I get totally absorbed. I don't do anything else but read. I don't clean house or make meals, I don't talk, I don't listen. This can be very frustrating to my family...ask my boy, Adam, about that. He was the first to notice this character flaw of mine. Tom, on the other hand, never complains. Just the other day he told me he was going somewhere to do something, and he'd be back sometime. "Uh-huh," I said, nose to book. The door shut, the car started, I heard the crunch of gravel under car tires and glanced out the window.  I wonder where he's going? I thought. I knew he told me, but try as I might...nope, I had no idea. So I kept on reading, and in a little while he came back. Bless his heart.

I wish I were that kind of all in about more important things in my life. I wish for instance that I could love God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind, without even thinking about it...(or wait, is that an oxymoron? Forget that without even thinking part.) And, I wish that I would put other's interests, needs, and desires before my own -- and do that without even thinking. You know, love my neighbor as myself. Sadly I'm far too selfsh, too self-centered most of the time, to be good at pleasing God by obeying those two most important commandments. But I try. When I'm not absorbed in a book or some other selfish ambition, I try. And whether I succeed or fail, He patiently waits for my undivided attention.

If I've been otherwise occupied for too long He does something like my Adam used to do when he was a little boy. He taps me on the shoulder to remind me that he's waiting for a response. Adam's tap was light, his voice pitifully hopeful, "Mom?" he'd say. God's tap is light, it comes as sunshine streaming through the window, a brilliant sunset, a person laughing, a baby's babble. And I am reminded that my God is right by my side, waiting (patiently) for my response to who He is.

This is the response of my heart
Recognizing who You are
My God is faithful to amaze and powerful to save
He is unfailing, the everlasting God.
My God is worthy to be praised
So I will glorify His name
He is unchanging, the everlasting God...
click to listen to David's beautiful music (Beautiful in my slightly biased opinion) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Every Morning...

I highly recommend a balance between taking life seriously and just plain having fun. So many gifts surround us. But life is ever changing, and some of the best gifts just don't keep. Nature, for instance, is ever changing. I'm not sure if it's memory that fails or mental image that fades, but each fall seems more beautiful than the last. Even when the weather is cold and rainy, golden leaves, crimson, orange, russet, and rust colored leaves, remain spectacular. But they won't keep! Too soon they cover our lawns and forest floors. Bare tree branches tell the next season will be upon us in no time. So seize the day! Don't let today pass without a sense of wonder over something. Quick, before it gets away. And yet, have no fear, tomorrow God's blessings and mercies will be new again. They are new every morning.

You know what else doesn't keep? Babies don't keep. A swaddled newborn becomes a kicking, cooing, month old baby. Her new-ness wears off. His personality emerges. They roll over, they sit, they crawl, they pull themselves up to stand on their own tiny feet, babbling "mama" or "dada". So quick. It happens in the blink of an eye! Babies sure don't keep.

I enjoyed a blessed baby fix this weekend. Company, campers of the indoor and outdoor variety, graced us with their presence. Look at us trying to line up the babies: eleven months, 13 months, 15 months, 17 months, and a big sister (3 years).
Missing are a two-year-old and the two big kids (5 and 7) who are probably too grown up for footie pajamas. The 3-year-old was a big help, because it turns out, lining up one year olds is a little bit like herding cats.
Documenting, men working in the kitchen!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hallylooyer! It's Harvest Time

It is truly a glorious day in Pennsylvania. From my loft window I'm looking down on our frost covered cars, frosty white grass, and a frosted cornfield. But it won't last long. Mr. Sunshine is up and doing his thing, kissing the earth so all things glisten. Patches of steam rise, fog hovers above the browned out cornstalks. And the frost melts away, making for a fabulous day.

Why am I trying to wax eloquent when that's already been done by James Whitcomb Riley, back at the turn of the past century.  Here are the first and last verses of his frosty pumpkin poem. I love the hallelujah of the rooster, and Riley's farmer's wanting to play host to angels. Eloquent I tell you.

When the Frost is on the Punkin

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.
Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it-but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me-
I'd want to 'commodate 'em-all the whole-indurin' flock-
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.
Riley's poem speaks of early morning calls, clucks, and carrying on of farm stock. I, on the other hand, woke to bam, bams of rifles popping off geese and small game, as well as big booms -- muzzle loaders trying for deer. With each bang I hope the critter gets away, at the same time hoping hunters get meat for their family. These are sounds of harvest.
Less gruesome though, a massive cornpicker rumbles through our field, and tractors clatter back and forth, up and down our driveway pulling first empty then full wagons of chopped corn home to their own barns. Sounds of harvest. Farmers reaping what they've sown. 
They reap what they sow, as do we all. 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
And sometimes: Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5 Hallelujah!
Hallelujah says the rooster, and me,
 on this glorious fall day 
with frost on pumpkins, and fields and wild game ready for harvest.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

With These Rings...

Just over 41years ago Tom put a dainty size 3 1/2 gold wedding band on my finger and I put a more stout gold ring on his. We both promised to love and to cherish, and for the most part we have. You know, except for that day when he was being so selfish, a complete jerk...or wait, was that me? Yeah, pretty sure that was me. Whoever it was on which ever day(s) we got over it and still to this day love and cherish one another almost all the time. And speaking of time -- as the years passed, that size 3 1/2 ring got a little difficult to remove over my, say, 4 1/2 size knuckle. The last time I took my wedding band off, a year or so ago, I did the wise thing and didn't put it back on.

For my birthday, my 60th birthday, (still getting used to that) I got a new wedding band and had my diamond reset. There were so many choices, a wrap, nesting rings, diamond chips in the band or alongside the diamond, white gold, which seems to be more fashionable these days, two bands, one on either side of the diamond ring. I tried on some exquisite looking rings and then asked for something almost just like what I already had. The bands are a bit thicker and the diamond placed in a magical setting that makes it look bigger, but not too big.
When I went to pick up my rings, days before my birthday, I loved them. They are just what I wanted, only perhaps more beautiful than I imagined. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Yep, I cried. Those poor jewelers, but I'll bet in their line of work, they're used to tears.
This lovely, lovely birthday gift is a reminder of a promise two kids made more than 40 years ago. A reminder of promises kept, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.
I Corinthians 13:7-8
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cards, Gifts, Flowers...

Either somebody died, sombody is ill, or somebody has a BIG birthday coming up. It's the latter and it's me. 60...oof. Really? There I said it. I've been anticipating this since July when my family had a party for me, which was very kind of them. It sort of helped, being eased into it. They could razz me, and I could laugh, because I knew it wasn't happening...yet. I wasn't 60...yet. We could joke about it as if it weren't a reality, because it wasn't...yet. Still isn't. Two more days to be 59, and then, oh no, oh yes. Please don't...

“Remind me that my days are numbered.” Psalm 39:4

There is only one alternative to turning 60 and that's to not. So you see, birthdays are GOOD for you. The more you have, the longer you live. And it isn't me who calls the shots. It is not me who tells the creator the number of days I wish for my life. My calling and privilege is to praise him for what I have, honor him with who I am, and bring glory to him all the days of my life.

It's a tall order, and I fall short. But as long as he gives me more days I'll keep trying to get it right. Oh how I relate with my boy David's song, Unafraid.

Yes, there are times when I've wanted to be someone else, or just a better version of myself. I've prayed for second chances, and gotten some. I've learned too many things the hard way. And, I am frequently distracted by the part of me that never got it right. But...

I don't want to look back on my life and wish that it was different...
I just want to give all that I am
To the One who gave
All that he was
All for us.
I'm not gonna be scared of what may come
Or what may not
I'm gonna be unafraid.
Unafraid of turning 60. Unafraid of the unknowns. Unafraid of what's been done, what's been overlooked, left undone, all that is yet to be done. Well aware that my days are numbered, I want what I do to count...but I don't have to live this life like it's the only one I've got.

The song says, "I wanna go dancing in the rain." I'm not much of a dancer, but the other morning I went swimming in the rain...about 55 degrees outside, 82 in the water, raindrops making bubbles all around me. I'm not sure there is anything more delightful.