Friday, August 30, 2013

Through Time and Space

Kneeling by the side of her bed to pray Joy was filled with elation.  She had come home from a date with Michael.  He was so handsome, funny, loving, spiritual.  He was everything she had ever dreamed of in a man and much more.

Praying Joy gave thanks to her Creator for the chance to date Michael, to get to know him better.  She did not utter the thought in her prayer, Is he the one Lord?  Should I marry him? It was too soon for such serious thoughts yet those feelings were there in her heart and mind.

Then...a cold chill began to flood her mind, her body.  It wasn't the type of cold chill that comes from a draft in the room.  It was like a warning that something was wrong.  Somehow she knew that she should pray for her brother's family.  Living in Minnesota her brother's family were far, far away in Utah.  She had not spoken to them in a long time.  Yet in her family there was this knowledge and love that keep them connected, even when they were far away physically.

The chill grew, and the elation Joy had felt moments before were crowded out by this new sensation.  It felt as if warning sirens were ringing in her soul.  "Pray, pray hard, pray for your brother's family."  For 45 long minutes Joy felt danger, black and gripping surrounding her brother and his family.  For 45 long minutes Joy knelt and pleaded with God to protect and care for her family.

After 45 minutes Joy felt as though the darkness, the sense of warning gathered up and departed.  Once again she felt peace and elation about her relationship with her boyfriend.  She got up off her knees and climbed into her warm, snug bed.

As we humans are wont to do she rationalized the experience.  "I'm just being fanciful," she told herself.  "I just imagined the feelings.  After all, how would I know that there was a problem with my brother or his family?"  Sighing, Joy drifted off to sleep.

Weekly Joy spoke with her parents who also lived in Utah.  Every Saturday they spoke.  This was a time when long distance calling was very, very expensive.  So unless there was some sort of emergency they stuck to their once a week call.  Sometimes Joy called her parents.  Sometimes her parents called Joy.  Her parents preferred that they call her.  They knew that she did not make much money at her job and tried to help her cut any expenses possible.

Joy and her Mother spoke rapidly.  They tried to fill in as much information as they could in a short time.  Joy's Papa did not enjoy speaking on a telephone.  So once in a rare while he would chime in with a different perspective or some information that Joy's Mother hadn't communicated.  Her Papa was on one phone extension, her Mother on another.

Joy's Mother became very serious at one point in the conversation.  "Howard almost died this week.  He has a rare allergy to eating shellfish after exercising.  He had an anaphylactic reaction and his heart stopped."

Joy's heart felt as though it stopped, or at least slowed way, way down.  She adored her oldest brother.  He had been a loving force of protection and encouragement for all of her life. 

"Wait, Mama, did this happen last Wednesday night?"

Joy's Mother said, "Yes, how did you know?"

Joy began to cry.  "Oh Mama, Papa, when it happened I was on my knees praying for him, and for his family.  I didn't know what was wrong, only that something was, and that I should pray."

There was silence on the other end of the phone line.  Joy's parents were digesting this information.
Finally her Papa spoke.  "I have no doubt that God can warn us and connect us when there is danger or struggle in our family."

The conversation ended shortly after that.  Joy was left with a sense of wonder.  She HAD known when Howard was in danger.  At the very moment that his heart stopped she had been praying, praying for him.  Joy rejoiced in the knowledge that even when she was far away from her family, God would keep them connected.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two More?

We have all heard the old adage, "Money Can't Buy Happiness."  Once again it has been proven.  Two celebrities, a "Reality TV" star, and a star from Rizzoli and Isles have killed themselves.  They were both young, both had their entire lives ahead of them.  They were wealthy, talented, seemingly with everything to live for. 

There is no evidence of whether they had clinical depression or circumstance related depression.  Either way the result is the same...a young person who would change the world by their presence is gone.

Life is precious in any circumstance.  This life has so much to offer.  I have come to understand that sometimes when I feel the most negative of emotions life is still precious.  I am amazed as I journey through this world how many of the hardest experiences of my life have prepared me for other experiences, other challenges.  So sometimes I stop and ask myself when in the thick of struggle, "What possible purpose could this challenge, this lesson have in store for me?"

When my entire family was in an awful car accident that left them all with permanent damage I was blessed with an emergency insight.  In my mind I heard, "Let this experience teach you a Master Class on life."  Did I want to take that class?  NOPE!  Did I want my family to suffer...NOPE! 

Yet I'm learning that asking HOW instead of WHY is one of the best ideas.  HOW gives me a small measure of control in an otherwise out of control situation.  WHY?  That question goes unanswered and makes me feel completely frustrated and upset.

Please, PLEASE, if you feel the need to end your own life, pick up the phone and dial  911...don't give in to the darkness.  We need each every person to stay on earth and act as a force of good in their sphere!

Pretty, Pretty Princess?

I hear so much these days about how all women are born princesses.  I understand the premise behind this idea.  We are all important.  We all need individual attention.  We all need to know that we are beautiful and powerful.  Confidence is one of the greatest beautifiers.

I would like to investigate that idea today.  First of all let's look at the life and duties of a real life princess.  So much of the world was fascinated when Kate married Will in England.  It seemed like the dream come true, the happily ever after.

I mean come on, she married a handsome prince, and now she has no monetary problems....AT ALL.  That is the very definition of "Happily Ever After," right?

Have you ever seen the list of duties that come to a Princess?  Their schedule is determined for them by a "Social Secretary."  They move from one responsibility to another morning to night.  There are charities to sponsor, events to attend (just to show the support of the monarchy).  She MUST find causes that she connects with and find ways and means to improve those situations.

She has NO expectation of privacy.  Think of the unfortunate picture of the princess sunbathing topless.  The picture was taken over 2 miles away with a long range camera.  She was having a vacation with her husband.  There should have been no problem. Imagine having that much exposure (pun intended).

Every step of your life there is someone lurking wanting to take pictures or get a story.  You don't do housework or cook, but almost every waking hour you are accountable for something or someone. 

I love people, and helping them.  Yet I do NOT spend every hour of everyday thinking about how I can help others.  I spend lots of hours enjoying my own life, and doing what I want when I want.  Think of suddenly being thrust into the limelight...each of your actions are discussed, weighed and balanced, and discussed some more.

"Happily ever after," belongs to fairy tales.  The reality is that sometimes you and your spouse or roomies WILL disagree.  Sometimes you WILL be sick.  Sometimes for most of us it will be hard to pay the bills.  Hard times happen, but the hard does lend joy a awareness of blessing.

So put on your tiaras, be a princess, but remember even princesses have hard times.  Sometimes princesses probably envy you!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

What is happening in your life?  Do the minutes, hours, days, and weeks, fly by like an impatient wind... are you pushing, pushing to get to a destination?  Do you ever stop and think, "What am I rushing for?"

When I was three years old I was asked to give a brief talk to the Primary (young children group in church).  My Mama had me practice each and every day.  I stood before a mirror and watched my facial expressions and practiced E N U N C I A T I N G every single letter, and also giving the little verse some emotional impact.

To this moment I'm grateful for an amazing Mama who loved her chidlren enough to make us improve and grow...especially when we didn't want to! 

The poem is, "Said the Robin to the Sparrow, I should really like to know, why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.  Said the Sparrow to the Robin, friend, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me."

If you believe in a God, a Creator do you believe that he love us and is watching over us?  I personally believe in a God that love us enough to create this amazing world for us to learn and grow.  He is always willing to help us...ALWAYS, all we have to do is humble ourselves enough to ask.

Do we rush about and worry so?  On a day recently I found myself, rushing, rushing, got to do this, have to do that.  I finally stopped myself (as I found myself completely out of breath) and thought, "Why am I rushing?"  I'm retired from my first career in clerical/childcare/supervisory work.  I'm a writer but I'm an Indie writer so my deadlines are all my own.

I realized that my life had given me a habit of rushing...I mean there were all those years of Nyle finishing college and then Law School while I worked full time and we had two amazing little girls.  In that part of my life rushing had to be the norm.  I was the Queen of multi-tasking.  Let's step back in time and have a mental view of my evenings in that time.

I'm talking on the phone coordinating some voluntary church work, while the clothes are washing, and drying, I'm helping the girls with homework, preparing dinner, and trying to keep the kids quiet so that Nyle can study for Law School. 

One day I said out loud to a friend, "I can't wait until Nyle graduates from Law School.  I'll be so happy and life can slow down a bit."

Nyle over heard me and after our friend left he said something I will never forget.  "If you keep waiting for some magical time to be happy you may make it all the way through life without being happy.  You have to FIND happiness, MAKE happiness where you are...whatever you are doing."  His words will always resonate with me.

I believe that when life is over and we review our own personal film we will see that we spend years of life just waiting.  Waiting in the line at the grocery store, doctor's office, on the phone to get a human being, waiting in the car for your kids to finish school, waiting...waiting...waiting, to give birth, to finish school, to get a job, waiting...waiting...waiting.  May I repeat YEARS of our life if we live to be 90/100 will be spent waiting.

What do you do when you are stuck waiting?  In the car in a traffic jam, at the doctor or dentist, while you are trying to finish school, have children, a husband, and a household to juggle.  How do you wait, and are you happy while you wait?

I LOVE to visit with people in line as I wait.  In our society we have developed this personal shield that surrounds each of us to protect us from anything that makes us uncomfortable.  I love to just shatter the shield by asking questions or saying something that I think someone would find interesting.  People are unfailingly interestingly, and I learn lots by waiting this way.

I read a good book, or work on my own series in my head as I wait...I read scriptures or interesting talks as I wait, no, not "Said the Robin to the Sparrow..."  lol

If you have suggestions about how you wait productively I would LOVE to hear them!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

All I Am...

Since Nyle's death there is an artist that I listen to and sing with almost daily.  The catharsis of Sara Bareille's songs have helped me fight through some pretty ugly emotions.  Little things like the yawning chasm of time that spreads before me until I am with my beloved again.  Yup...little things like that.

Somehow dancing and singing reminds me that there IS still joy in life.  There ARE still reasons for living.  Yet there is one song "All I am all I need HE'S THE AIR I WOULD KILL TO BREATH!"  Oh how I feel the words of that song into my very cellular, soulular level. 

There are a few lyrics that I  Sara sings, "The burden I bear is a love I can't carry anymore..."  I sing, "The burden I bear is a love I WILL CARRY EVERMORE!"

Faith teaches me that Nyle is not far away.  He still watches over his family...just as he did in the physical realm.  A little thing like death could NOT stop Nyle from being here.  Our two daughters, and myself....we were his family, the very most important thing in his life!  He loved us, protected us, encouraged us, and made us laugh on an extremely regular basis.

Miss better believe it!  Yet we know that the dear man would want us to live...and be happy!  Sometimes I almost wish (notice I said ALMOST) that he had been a miserable man.  Wish that we were happy to be rid of him!  NOT THE CASE.  I only miss him once a day, everyday, all day the country western song croons.

Well now that I've worked at convincing myself I'm going to go throw myself into living.  After all as Nyle ALWAYS quoted, "Feelings are not facts."  In other words your brain says, "Go to bed, cry lots, feel good and sorry for your widowed self."  Yet the knowledge that those feelings do not have to be facts...I need to keep living, eating, and writing....writing...writing.  When I'm not writing I WILL SING!  Be aware any and all that come in my influence...I WILL SING!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Live, Laugh, and Love FOR AMANDA!

(Our beloved "neighborhood daughter," Amanda is sick to pieces of the preponderence of the three words Live, Love, Laugh on everything from wall hangings to clothing.  She feels that by overusing them they have become maudlin.  I disagree but couldn't resist bugging her a little

He was so incredibly handsome leaning against the doorframe.  No, more than handsome..strong, compelling, completely and totally himself.  Joy had dated many, many other men before she had met him.  Some of them were more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, perfect features, hair that begged to have fingers flowing through.  Joy felt as though Nyle was connected to her heart even from across the room.  She didn't feel her feet move but suddenly she was there next to Nyle...and there was where she needed to be.

Ten inches taller than Joy, Nyle pulled her into him, engulfed her with arms long enough to wrap around her more than once.  Joy nuzzled into the bigness of him.  She adored feeling tiny, and delicate in his arms.  She was NOT tiny NOR delicate, but these feelings were akin to femininities very definition in her mind.  Neither spoke but simply held for long minutes.  Joy inhaled the combination of soap, subtle men's cologne, and a unique smell that she defined simply as "Nyle."

Joy had quit her job.  She was moving away.  She had gone on a long journey with her parents to try and separate her heart from this man.  Their relationship have been like the longest and highest roller coaster ride possible.  It felt as if circumstances were not driving them apart, then someone was doing their level best to destroy this entry level family before it could begin.

Deciding that she could no longer go on seeing Nyle without moving into the next stage of commitment Joy had chosen Arizona to move towards.  It was a long way away from Nyle.  That was the chief attraction...distance.

The next two weeks the roller coaster seemed to dip lower, and then climb to dizzying heights.  They spent long days together, talking, talking late into the night.  They played games...silly things that required no great intelligence, and intense games of concentration and strategy.

He took her to see the theater that he had performed in one summer.  She showed him the theater that she had performed in one summer.  Of course they each claimed that their theater was the best! (The theaters weren't really rivals except in their minds.)

They walked through Yellowstone hand in hand.  Eyes wide she jumped up and down in happiness to see the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.  They decided that if something was incredibly lovely, so lovely that words lost power in the attempt to define them that they simply had to hug...and maybe kiss...and then kiss some more.

One usual day, get up early, rush about, go to work (temporary work since she had quit her other job), and then plan on dinner kind of humdrum day that is the existence of most humans on this planet.  A day unremarkable...warm...summery...sunshiny...Nyle said to Joy, "I don't want you to move.  I would miss you too much!"  Then he said, "Do you think we could be happy if we were married?"

Joy's response was rapid, she was afraid that he would change his mind again.  Yes, YES, YES!!!

They fell together like two birds finding each other in mid air.  No words just love.  She kissed him, he kissed her.  For a very long time neither of them could think about everyday things.  They were busy thinking about lifetime things, like love, and children, and love, and children, and those things seemed to stretch in front of them like the yellow brick road that Dorothy followed.

THE WEDDING DAY.  She KNEW with every fiber of her being that she had never looked more lovely in her life.  Her dress was perfect, it flattered her curvaceous figure.  Her hair was perfect, and the hat with the tiniest hint of veil were perfect for her.  She met her Papa at the back of the seats they had put together in rows.  The sun was hot, the day was perfect...not too hot for August 5th in Utah.

Joy also knew that Nyle could not possibly look more handsome as she looked forward towards him.  Which made the improbable idea that touched her mind even more improbable.  Suddenly she thought that she couldn't do this...she couldn't marry, not just Nyle but anyone!  She would get the keys from her roommate and then just drive away, far away.

She looked back at Nyle and it seemed as though she could see the future imprinted on his Danish fair face.  The urge to make a breaks for it was gone.  Holding her Father's steady, loving arm she walked towards Nyle.  Now that they were moving forward she wanted to RUN towards Nyle....she already couldn't remember why she had felt frightened.  It was NYLE...the man of her heart.  Her heart beat stronger the closer and closer she got to him.

Her Papa kissed her cheek and put Nyle's hand in hers, then he sat down.  Joy watched her beloved Papa take a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipe his tears.  Her Mama took her Papa's hand.

Joy turned to Nyle.  She realized that her grandest dream, marriage and family was beginning and beginning with the man of her long held dreams.  With a broad smile she looked forward to Nyle. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Opposition in ALL Things

"For there needs must be an opposition in all things..."  is a scriptural verse that really speaks to my soul.  I have seen incredible beauty, exquisite tenderness, and eternal love over and over in my world.  I have also seen hideous evil, hatred supreme, and personal persecution.

Vonda was two years old.  She had the wise aged eyes of a ninety year old woman.  She said at random times, "My Mama is in jail.  She is a pwostitute."  No two year old should even try to say the word prostitute, let alone label her mother with that reality.

Presley, her oldest brother seemed thirty years old  but was actually only eight years old.  He was canny, street savvy, and a bit frightening to an extremely innocent twelve year old me.  He was a veteran of the war to survive.  He had two half siblings, two year old Vonda, and six year old Ronny.  I don't think their Mother knew who their Father or Fathers were.  Seeming to forget that she had three children his Mother would simply disappear from their lives from time to time.  That left Presley to figure out ways to feed all of them.  They entered the foster system when Presley was caught shoplifting to feed his family.

Six year old Ronny was so sweet.  It was amazing after being in a very dysfunctional family that the sweet, innocent core of Ronny had maintained.  He was wide-eyed, wide-hearted....loving, and learning from every single interaction with other human beings.

Ronny didn't talk a lot.  He had these large warm eyes, like the sweetest puppy dog imaginable. When he turned those strong, loving eyes on you it was hard to doubt that he loved you with the warmest intensity. 

Ronny's laughter was more beautiful than the sweetest of music.  It was absolutely impossible to NOT laugh when he laughed.  It didn't matter what he was laughing at or if you thought it was funny, you HAD to laugh! 

I don't remember much about a transition period as they adjusted to living with our family.  Of course, I was also quite young but in my mind they were NOT part of our family one day, and then they WERE part of our family the next. 

The youngest, beloved child to this point, I was ever so jealous of the attention that they all needed.  I was also frustrated that I needed to help with them...and did not receive any monetary remuneration for my labors!  I babysat from the age of eleven so I had no problem watching younger children as a job but not in my home, my sanctuary, the place where I reigned supreme as the beloved youngest sister and child.

Mom and Dad just folded them into our lives smoothly, like laundry that came out of the drier a bit wrinkled and then were lovingly smoothed and adjusted into neat, tidy packets to be put away in a drawer.  I did not adjust as well.

There were difficult Vonda telling random people, "My Mothew is a pwostitute in jail."  I'm not certain that she understood what those words meant.  She only knew that people were nicer to her after she expressed them. 

I sometimes picked on these three, I'm ashamed to say.  I was jealous...I used to be te pampered I was the "middle" child.  THEIR transition into our family was much smoother than MY transition to having them as part of OUR family.

In short order my older brother and sister both married (Within six months of each other), and moved away to their own homes.  Now I was the OLDEST child.  How many of you have made that transition in your life....youngest, middle, oldest?  It was a foreign, frightening, frantic place to be.  I loved them, and they had become my family, but I still missed the relative freedom I had enjoyed as the youngest child.

Lovingly, my parents determined to adopt the three and end the temporary nature of their lives to that point.  By this point I considered them my siblings and I loved them dearly.  We still worked to help Presley understand that he wasn't the boss of Vonda and Ronny, and he could forget that role and act like a regular young man coming close to puberty.

The sweet song of our lives together was torn apart.  The Mother was out of jail and the state wanted to rehabilitate her.  She would be a "Responsible," parent now, right?  Alcohol and sex weren't her only two thoughts anymore, right? 

Apparently the Mother's rights were far more important than the safety of those three children.  She was pushed into a job, and told to be a good Mom.  She didn't just "fall off the wagon," she jumped far and wide, and soon was again practicing her previous habits.

My parents were determined, (by Social Services) to be "too old" to adopt.  They were in their mid forties, in good health, comfortably middle class in income.  They were perfectly fine to house children on a "Temporary" basis.  They just weren't allowed to adopt.

The children were bounced into a crowded foster family that had eight children of their own.  The Mom had a well earned nervous breakdown.  Now the kids were split into three homes.  Vonda's new family wanted to adopt her.  Again the rights of the "Mother," were taken more seriously than the rights of the children.

Back the children went to their Mom.  Again she was rehabilitated, and again she jumped off "The wagon," in short order.

Now the children lived for a time with an aunt.  The aunt was single, and worked hard to earn a good living.  She provided an excellent home for the three.

Then back to Mama they went....they were bounced about like rubber balls.  The biggest difference is that when you have a really good bouncy ball you keep track of it and don't let it fall into the bushes and stay there.  These three precious children were dropped literally and figuratively into the worst kinds of lives.

By sixteen Presley was married, and they had a child.  He entered the military life.  Unable to handle the rigid discipline he went AWOL and spent time in jail.

Ronny, became a drug addict.  His life was one of despair and degradation...married multiple times, and unmarried just as many.

Vonda married an abusive husband.  She abused him as well.  Children were born into this mess of a home.  The children were abused, abused each other, and Vonda and her husband were there, not, there, not, in and out of jail.  Drugs were a part of her life as well, and her husband's.

When they took Presley, Ronny, and Vonda away from our family we all felt as though we were going through the grieving process that occurs in the death of a family member...three family members.  In reality we were.  We were allowed no contact with the children as they bounced about through the Social Services System.  Mama managed in various ways to track their lives.

Years passed.  The grief softened as it must do for those left behind to survive.  Then the grief would become sharper though it were brand new as we would learn of the horrors of their lives. 

I have faced many traumas and dramas in the course of my fifty seven years of living.  The hardest ALWAYS is the crisis where you have no control.  Having my brothers and sister taken from us gave us NO POWER.  We could not take them and run to a different country.  We had to accept the power of the government (social services?) and their decisions on how to treat the lives of my siblings by love, not blood.

I have faced this sorrow since I was a teen.  I pray for them, wonder how they are doing.  I must believe that there WILL be justice for those three.  I doubt that it will be in this life.  I believe that after we die there will be all kinds of healing that will happen.  The ugliest of evils that happen in this life will be made right.

So I end where I this world we learn through "Opposition."  The bad teaches us to appreciate the good.  Pain teaches us about health.  Sorrow teaches us about joy.  How do we find a way through the ugliness that life will inevitably cause us to confront?  It may sound overly simplistic but it's true...we handle the dark by making ourselves face the light.  No matter how dark our world, the sun always does come out at some point.  (No I will NOT burst into a chorus from Annie, "The Sun will come out tomorrow..."  OK, maybe just a little).

Life is hard, earnest, and sometimes completely dark.  Yet life is beauty, the exquisite experience of our senses.  Great philosophers have tackled this earth life conundrum.  It seems no coincidence that when you read through the writings of the past there is a common theme or facing the light to cope with the dark.  I'm still praying...