Don’t Go It Alone

I remember a sermon my sweet friend who introduced me and my Fella shared.  Actually it’s an image that she shared that has stuck with me all these years. I believe in looking back that she read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 from the Good Book.

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The picture she painted with her story, of the dark and traveling together and the stumbling, but someone always stopping to help another up.

Powerful.  So powerful.

We are not meant to travel alone, y’all.  To do this life with no one else around.  I am not saying we are not meant to live alone, but I do think we are not meant to LIVE alone.  Sharing a house and sharing a journey are two different things.

My life has been changed for the better because of the folks who are around me and the ones who listen and love and care about my story and I theirs–in fact, so much so that our stories become intricately interwoven.

Through messages and late night phone calls and texts about silly things and all the important ones too.  The being interruptible and sitting with me in the hard places and the holding me in the light and hoping for good to come.  The sitting quietly and laughing loudly.  The road trips and waiting rooms and bowls of soup and handmade aprons and letters in the mail and cards left on the front porch.  The shared tears and the reverberating laughter.  The hands to hold and the hugs to envelop every little bit of what is going on.  The “I’m on your side” and the “well, have you looked at it this way…..” The “let’s go do” and the “let’s just be.”

All of it.  Every single bit of others in your life and mine…..they save us.  They make us better.  They keep us from falling in a pit of despair and believing the lie that no one cares about us or that it is all about us and no one has ever had it this.  BAD.

They walk alongside, and they pick us up when we fall.

And the coolest thing about this journey is that as we share it with those who circle the wagons close and stay there beside us is that one day we will have the chance to do that very same thing for someone else.

It’s a beautiful ebb and flow of life.  Today I needed picking up.  Tomorrow it might be you.  Or you.  Or maybe even me again.

We all stumble.  Most of us fall.  But it’s the knowing there’s a hand that will be there to help us back up…..that’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Our posse.

Find yourself a good one.  Find the folks who are walking carefully and maybe even a little slowly, hanging back.  Leave be those who are darting around and ahead of everyone else.  The best way to find a friend, the old saying goes, is to be a friend.

Go and be.  Reach out your hand.  And you’ll be amazed at who comes to stand beside you.

Love and best wishes to all.

Answering the Hard Question

This evening I sat with two young people and a retired friend as we listened to an amazing woman share about the hard work–the good work–she is doing to help women and men who are in the human trafficking industry.  It was a very eye opening and hard discussion.  It is heart breaking, and despite what we might have previously thought, it is very much happening right here in our community.  Not just Atlanta, or even Macon. Right here.

All the brokenness.

As we listened, the young man who sat next to the speaker looked at her with his eyes wide.  He asked, fumbling at first to find the right words, in a quiet voice, “Is there, I mean, is anyone–I mean surely–is anyone doing anything to stop this from happening at all?  How can we stop it?  What are people doing to make this better?”

Bless him.

He is not even a legal adult yet.  He is hearing about heartbreak and brokenness and darkness that has been going on since before he was born, and it was as though for the first time, he felt the weight of what is before him–and all of his generation–that needs to be fixed and made better.

Bless him.  Bless all of them.

They are looking at those of us who are of my generation, most likely, wondering why we let it get this bad.  Why the human trafficking industry is the fastest growing one, right behind drug trafficking.  They are asking us, “What have you done to make this better?”

Many will say they didn’t know. They weren’t aware. That they didn’t realize it was happening here in our country, our community.  Many see it as a foreign issue, happening only in countries far, far away.

As I heard the stories tonight, any misconceptions like that were shattered and blown away.

I can never say again I didn’t know.  And now that I know, I have a duty to answer this young man’s question–

What am I doing to stop this?

I have a lot of thinking to do about what I heard tonight.  And about the look on that sweet soul’s face, his puzzled pain over what he was hearing.  It’s wrong, and if we stand by and do nothing, it will continue to grow.  That one thing is certain.

Will you join me in thinking on this, and working on the answer to “What are people doing to make this better?”

For more information, you can visit http://outofdarkness.org

Love, much love, to all.

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via slideshare.net

Sister

Over forty years ago today (and just how much over, I’m not telling) I was given a new role in life.

To be

a big sister.

I got two more chances to do this over the years, but this first one–the one I asked my parents for–she was the first, the one I learned and practiced on.

Some days I’ve done a better job than others of being a sister.

What being a sister means and looks like has changed over the years.  Sometimes drastically.  What, when we were little, meant whispering secrets after bedtime or fighting over who had to turn off the light (she didn’t even have to leave her bed–not really sure WHY we had that argument so often) turned into her being there to encourage me and stand up for me and even help me pack the night before my graduation.  Help?  No, she pretty much did it.  All of it.  As we both grew older and had our own families, what sisterhood looked like changed again.

It’s always changing.

Because relationships are fluid.

And I think that can be really beautiful.

Because, though it’s fluid and changing, it still is.  The relationship is still there.

And as long as it is there, no matter how hard times might be or how much we struggle to find time to be together, there is hope. There is possibility for our relationship to grow and become even more precious.  And there is grace.

Tonight I am thankful for my little sister, who all too often has been a big sister to me.  She has never been afraid of the dark and time was, she’d take on a giant to defend me.  She loves hard with a gentle voice and a passionate soul.  I don’t remember life without her, since I was three when she was born–it’s as though she has always been a part of my story.  She grounds me, she loves me, and she walks alongside me.  Even when things fall apart or we argue or have doubts and frustrations, she is my sister, and that will always be one of the things I’m most thankful for in this life.

That and grace and hope.

Love to all.

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“Little Julia tending the baby at home”  By Lewis Hine, 1874-1940, photographer. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Our Feathered Friends–A Field Trip Story

Today we took a field trip down to Go Fish for a class.  Cooter and our Princess enjoy these classes, as do I.  They do a really good job of combining learning and fun in the classroom there, and the facility itself with the amazing aquarium and fully stocked pond for fishing is one of our area’s best kept secrets.  So many opportunities for education and adventure all in one place.

The class this morning was about Our Feathered Friends.  One of the teachers asked the children about characteristics of birds that most or all have in common.  Wings, hollow bones (except for the common loon, I learned something today), and beaks were a few of the things mentioned.

Then Cooter raised his hand, and she called on him.  I was sitting in the same room but not close enough to have assessed what his response was going to be in advance.  His answer to the question about what characteristics most or all birds have was:  “They’re good cookin’.”

She and the other educator looked at each other, confused.  “They’re good cooks? Birds can cook?”

Not daunted by the misunderstanding, my little guy shook his head no, and restated his answer, “They’re good.  Cooked.  They’re good cooked.  Tasty.”

Welp.  Okay then.

The teachers and other moms in the room laughed.  I shook my head and reminded myself about who my son is.

The class clown of Zoo Crew Academy, ladies and gentlemen.  He’s here for the next eight years.  Thank you.  

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The next activity involved using different things that had been put together to look and act like different types of bird beaks–the hummingbird, the pelican, the wider beaked birds, and the tiny little pointed ones.  It was interesting as the children tried the different “beaks” to pick up “fish” from the water, or the nectar, birdseeds, or “worms” in the sand.  The children discussed which beaks were best for each type of food.

When they finished with that, the instructors, who are vibrant and fun and have great senses of humor (thankfully) and who seem to really enjoy the children, brought around two live chickens who were hatched during the Fair about a month ago.  They were of good size, though not full-grown.  As Cooter and Princess were petting one of the chicks, my girl commented that she’d love to have that chicken at our house and how its feathers were so soft like a kitten.  The teacher agreed.  “Yes, I’d love to take it home with me.”

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Our Princess kept loving on the chick, “Can you imagine?  Eggs whenever you wanted.  You’d never have to go to the store to get them.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday!”

The teacher smiled and nodded.  “That would be good.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast–I’d love that.  But I’d need the chicken to cook them for me too.”

My girl didn’t miss a beat.  She looked at her teacher and said, “But that’s what your husband is for.”

For. The. Love.

The teacher laughed, “I love that.”

And so do I.

That our Princess lives a life where, if the wife isn’t able to scramble the eggs, it is just assumed that the husband would jump in and do it.

I mean, why not, right?   So thankful for the world she lives in, what she believes, and the story that is hers.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities to share in the learning with my children.  I am so appreciative of the time and energy these fantastic folks put into planning a great and interesting program for the children, and I’m glad we have such an amazing place to learn just a little bit down the road.  I love that I get to learn alongside my children.  Most of all, I’m grateful for their precious spirits–wonky sense of humor and all–and how they see the world.  Their laughter is more than infectious, it’s light pouring out from their souls and changing the world for the better.

May we all share a laugh and pour a little light into the world today.

Love to all.

 

 

Delta Dawn and Earworms

Isn’t it interesting to hear songs now that you once sang out loud as a child?  Does it ever make you cringe that you sang it, not knowing what the lyrics meant?

So many songs from all those years ago I can still remember the lyrics to.  One of my favorite radio stations is the 80’s one.  (It makes Cooter crazy, which gets quite comical at times.)  When I hear one of the songs from way back when, and the lyrics all come flooding back without me even thinking, it amazes me.  And sometimes is a little embarrassing.

And then there are the times one comes along and gets stuck.  In my head.  All day long.  I think they call them earworms now, but back then, we’d just walk around complaining, “I have a song STUCK IN MY HEAD, and I can’t get it out.”

I don’t know how old I was when Daddy came up with the solution, but it seems like it’s been a part of our story for as long as I can remember.

“Sing Delta Dawn.  It will break up that song stuck in your head.”

And he was right.

Tonight I was thinking about that, and trying to remember who sang it originally.  After realizing it was not Helen Reddy, I remembered it was a very, very young Tanya Tucker.  I finally decided to look it up, and the cool thing is they both sang it.  (My memory is a little better than I thought, which is very encouraging after the week I’ve had.)  Tanya Tucker had a top ten country hit with it in 1972, and then Helen Reddy had a #1 hit with it in 1973.  And here’s what I found out that I had never known–Bette Midler also recorded it, and she planned to release it, but Helen Reddy’s version came out two days earlier.

Wow.

Bette Midler?  Delta Dawn?

Fascinating, but the truth is I couldn’t get through a whole stanza of her version.  VERY different, and just not the Delta Dawn I grew up with.

Except now I’m afraid the little bit I listened to of her version is my newest ear worm.

“Daddy, what happens if I sing ‘Delta Dawn’ and get rid of the song stuck in my head, but then Delta Dawn gets stuck in there?”

I don’t remember his exact answer, but I think it had something to do with it being a good song, so it would be okay, or it would eventually fade or something like that.

And so now, I guess I’ll do just that.  Go to sleep with a very slow version of ‘Delta Dawn’ in my head.  Unless Tanya and Helen can help me out.

What do you do to get rid of your earworms?

Tonight I’m thankful for this memory of my Daddy that made me smile.  I wonder what he’d think of Bette Midler’s version, but I’m pretty sure I already know.

May we all have a day of only the really good songs getting stuck…..

Love to all.

 

 

Click here for the link to the YouTube video of Helen Reddy’s version

Here for Tanya Tucker’s version

and finally, here for the Bette Midler one

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casserole kindness

the phone call came in the midst of the chaos
and hearts aching and tears
and all of the planning and rushing around
flowers, words written, songs chosen,
people coming and going
and no time to settle down and breathe
or think
or grieve

the phone call saying, “I’ve got this”
and “What time works best for you?”
such a little thing to some, maybe
but for us,
it was everything

supper was coming
and for a few moments
we–the new widow, the children, spouses,
and grands
we all could be together
and gather around the casserole dish
filled with loving goodness
and give thanks for the hands that prepared it
the loving spirit
who stepped outside of her own world
and showed up in ours

though she was plenty busy herself

because that’s what love does
it shows up
in the midst of sorrow and joy
and it sits with folks where they are
and takes their hands and holds on tight

the dumplings were so good
and gone way too fast
but the memory of that meal,
of the love from someone who didn’t have to,
who had many excuses not to,
that radical hospitality
and loving on folks
will never be forgotten

casseroles and covered dishes
speak a love language all their own,
healing hearts and
lifting spirits,
if only for a moment or two,
filling the darkness with a light
that feeds our souls

thankful
for that casserole
and the hands that made it
four years later
remembering

with a grateful heart

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Drive Thru Open

This evening on the way home from swim practice, we passed the Taco Bell not too far from our house.  I noticed it was closed the other day–for remodeling, I finally figured out.  The work truck parked outside was a pretty good clue.

Tonight their marquee said, “Drive Thru Open.”

Really?

What amazes me is that this is the second sign like this that I have seen in the past couple of weeks.  The Arby’s across town was being renovated and rejuvenated in a big way, and their sign also indicated you could pull through and get your supper fix.

Even with the wires hanging from the removed ceiling tiles and ladders propped up inside and the doors wide open for easy access for the workers.

But still, they were cooking back there.

I suppose I should comment on their tenacious, go get ’em spirit.  That they are carrying on as usual despite all the “bumps” and ladders in the road.

I might should, but I’m not.

Sometimes, folks, we just need to shut down for a day or three.  If things get to the point where we need renovation, rejuvenation, and healing, the time has come to shut things down so all of that can happen and happen well.

Not some rush, half-way job while trying to keep things going anyway.  There are no good shortcuts when it comes to healing.

The folks that love us will be patient and will be there when we open the doors again.

May we all have the strength to be weak and allow our souls the time they need to replenish.

Love to all.

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It’s not our Taco Bell, because I was driving and couldn’t get a shot, but well, you see one, you’ve pretty much seen them all….. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A2015-04-17_21_17_00_Taco_Bell_restaurant_at_night_along_Mountain_City_Highway_(Nevada_State_Route_225)_in_Elko%2C_Nevada.jpg