That’s Hilarious…..and Important

A few days ago I had the privilege of speaking with a most delightful fellow on the phone.  My little nephew, who just turned four, woke up from his nap and came in the room where my brother was on the phone with me.  The miles divide, but the heart does not.  Thankfully so.  When his Papa told him who he was talking to, the little guy got on the phone and said hello.

My brother was suffering with a pretty bad cold.  After we said our hey, how are you’s I asked my little friend about his father.  “So are you taking good care of Papa?  Since he’s sick?”

“Uh huh,” he said.  I could almost see his head nodding over the phone.

“Oh good,” I replied.  “I need you to take very good care of him, because I love him.  He’s my baby brother.”

“What?!” he exclaimed in disbelief.  He turned to my brother. “Papa, Aunt Tara says you are her baby brother!” He giggled as he relayed this silly idea.

“That’s right.  I am.  She’s my big sister,” I heard my brother say on the other end of the phone.

“What?!” my nephew repeated through his giggles.  “THAT’S HILARIOUS!!!!!”

Oh, the joy in hearing him erupt with laughter on the other end of the line!  Bless him, I miss my brother and his family.  The laughter was like a balm to my soul.

I’ve been thinking about that little guy and his shock and disbelief about our connectedness.  It was as though something like that had never even entered his mind.  About how we are joined together.  The string that connects us.

I am thankful for my nephew, his laughter, his joy, and his reminder that sometimes we might not know or remember just how much we are all–every single one of us–connected.  And oh–the joy and laughter that knowledge should bring.

Sometimes I think it’s easy to remember the things that divide us–those things tend to be so much easier to focus on, don’t they?

But wouldn’t it be nice if we had someone to remind us of that connectedness and laugh like a child with joy over that knowledge?

Hilarious.  And fabulous.

And one of the most important things to remember.

Love to all.

 

Running for Love

From rising before the crack of dawn to walking with Miss Sophie this evening, from the icy chill of early morning to the warmth of the afternoon sun, today has brought a plethora of images of new life and sweet life.

The last of the blooms on a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

The last of the blooms on what I believe is a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny's farm.  I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny’s farm. I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

 

This tree has been bare all winter.  Look at that beautiful green!

This tree has been bare all winter. Look at that beautiful green!

 

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky.  I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky. I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

 

And for the sweet.  Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears.  It's Easter, why not?

And for the sweet. Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears. It’s Easter, why not?

 

But the sweetest image I can only picture in my head.

My brother, who is a minister, called me after church today.  He was, in his own words, honored to be the one to give the sermon at their Community Sunrise service this morning.  When he told me what he talked about, my heart was full, and I wanted to give him the biggest hug.

But it’s not geographically possible right now.

He talked about the story found in the Good Book in John 20–the story of John running for the tomb.  My brother pointed out how grownups don’t run toward something like that very often, so filled with love and passion.  He’s right, isn’t he?  Children seem to have cornered the market for running with joyful abandon, but not us adults.

Except for my brother.  He runs and chases his children. And mine.  And Mess Cat’s little guy.  He’s good at that.  So much so that his presence is requested outside at least once every day when they are here.

Children like to run towards someone or something they are excited about, something or someone who fills them with joy.  Children also like to be chased.  Pursued.

I love this story, and what it challenges me to do.

I need to seek joy.  Pursue it.  Run towards it.  Run towards the new life that can come from loving all and from caring and showing compassion.  Forgetting what I look like while I’m doing it, I need to run hard and catch that joy.

Who in your world needs someone running towards them?  Who needs someone in pursuit of them because they are loved and cared about, so they can see and feel that?

May we all find what makes us run with joyful abandon towards it.

Love to all.

love, lightning bugs, laughter, and light

Tonight I am thankful for the freedom to sit back and enjoy time with family

watching littles chasing lightning bugs–nature’s fireworks show, and

seeing how they catch them, rushing over to show me with gentle amazement,

and then, just as gently,

they let them go

their sweet faces reflecting the goodbye flicker of light

from the tail of the ascending fairy-like bug

For laughter in the circle of stories and joy

in the shared memories

of those not there

For food that is plentiful and oh so good

and for the honor of joining in the simple act of

the washing, drying, and putting away,

elbow to elbow, more shared moments to tuck away

for when the winter comes

For bare feet and the smell of citronella

For children, big and small, swinging on a tire,

hung on the tree planted when I was only a teen

and sat under its stick-like shadow, dreaming dreams

and writing, even then

Tonight I give thanks for all of these things,

for flickering lights of fireworks in the yard where I grew up

and continue to grow

For the voices and sighs of my children who will

continue to make their own memories there,

as they watched fireworks sparkling and bright

THANKFUL

JOYFUL

PEACEFUL

In this world where children are kidnapped simply for wanting to learn

and parents don’t love the ones trusted to them as they should

Where animals are treated unkindly

and the stories of folks are filled with pain and brokenness

and darkness

Tonight I give thanks for the light–the lights,

and for a chance to get up again tomorrow,

another day to live and love and scatter rays of freedom

for all

with each step and in all that I do

For until we are all free

the lights are not bright enough

to show the ones who follow the way

20140704-230949-83389345.jpg

 

Love to all–

#bethefeather

 

An Afternoon with Mama

This afternoon as I was out looking for one of my least favorite articles of clothing to shop for, I thought about my Mama.  She ruined me (no, okay, she “ruint” me) over the years.  I rarely had to go with her to the store.  She’d pick things up on sale (on clearance and WITH a coupon as my brother reminds us) and bring clothes home for us to try on.  To this day, I really don’t care for dressing rooms.  I’d much rather take things home and try them on there.  But, as returning things to some places is easier than others, today I found myself in the dressing room.  Thinking about how I miss the way my Mama took care of us like that.

Then before heading home, as I don’t have nearly enough books (whoa, was that lightning I just saw?), I popped in our local bookstore to check on a book or two for our studies.  I have to plan what country to move on to after Australia after all.  After looking for some books to inspire Cooter to step over into the world of chapter books and striking out on the search for Shakespeare comics for our Princess (yes, they exist, and yes she loves them–she read one in one sitting this morning), I meandered through the shelves, just looking.  I like meandering, and I don’t often get to do it when I have little people along.  They always have something they want to show me or just plain WANT, and so that sort of takes away the possibility for any meandering to occur.

And as if I weren’t missing my Mama enough already, I saw these

 

Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross

 

and these.

Diane Mott Davidson's Goldie mystery series

Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie mystery series

 

Mama LOVED books.  I cannot remember a time when she didn’t have one bookmarked, indicating she always had one going.  At least one.  She loved children’s books, but she also loved adult fiction.  She was especially fond of clever mysteries and southern charm.  She adored Miss Julia.  I have the ones she got over the years.  The rest she borrowed from the library to read.  I stood looking at them today, wondering if a new one had come out since she’s been gone.  But I couldn’t go so far as to take one out and check the copyright.  She also loved the Goldie character from Diane Mott Davidson’s mystery series.  Mama loved stories with strong women–yes ma’am, she loved women who fought for themselves and didn’t just stand around calling out for help.  In books and in real life.

Tonight I’m thankful for a few quiet moments of remembering my Mama.  Only it was more than that–it was like spending time with her.  As I drove through the little streets of my hometown and by my old elementary school next door to the new dance studio, I could feel her sitting beside me.  I could feel her warmth and her smile.  And that brought me great joy.  I miss her.  I miss how she spoiled me, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, and I miss how she loved me.  And I miss sharing good books with her.  We didn’t always read the same genres but the ones we did, we loved talking about.  We always got excited, anticipating a new release by one of our shared favorite authors.  I miss her every minute, and I am thankful for days like today, when the veil is thin, and I feel her with me so clearly.

Love to all.

 

Lessons in Legos

pic of legos

Today we went to what my littles call “Lego Building School.”  It is put on by the local franchise of Bricks4Kidz, and my crew all love it.  It is a combination of free play building with all sorts of Legos and a mini-class, where they learn about something and then build a model according to the directions they are given.  In the past we have built mechanized spiders, a dragster, and a windmill.  Like most things, it is the people who run it who make it the most fun.  They love what they do, and they take the time to get to know the children there.

Last month the assigned project was a Venus Flytrap.  Thanks to the lesson about them, my two became interested in these fascinating plants again, and we are on the lookout for one.  We had my nephew with us that day, as my sister was in China and we asked my brother-in-law to let him join us.  My little man paired up with his Daddy to build the Venus Flytrap model.  My poor nephew was stuck with me.   It was a complicated model, complete with friction bushings and gears that had to meet just so.  Oh let’s face it, I was totally inadequate when it came to helping my sister’s baby boy with this.  In the end, he gave up on me and wandered off to test the one the teacher had built.  Correctly. Mine never would snap just right when triggered.  One of the instructors tried to correct whatever it was that I done incorrectly, bless her.  It was not salvageable.  I left with my head down, feeling like I had let my nephew down.  Though I don’t think he was much upset.  He still got his mini-fig that he built to take home and a lunch of pizza after.  I’m pretty sure he has let it go.

I only wish I could.

Today we arrived to find that we would be building two projects.  As my two were the only ones there (whoo hoo!), they handed my husband a kit.  One of the instructors asked if I would like one too.  The shame from last month overshadowing me, I said rather meekly, “Oh no, I don’t think so.”

However the other instructor, Mr. Tom, did not hear me.  He brought me a kit and a manual and told us we could start on our projects–a paper crimper.  Okay.  Sure.  I was very hesitant as I pulled out the 1 by 12 tech plates and bushings and so on.  But my confidence gained when my gears were moving together.  Could it be I was on the right track?  The Venus Flytrap in my mind whispered and giggled, “As if!”  Oh my.

But there it was.  The last step.  I was finished, and I was ready to attach the battery.  As I was the first one done, I had no idea exactly what it was supposed to look like.  I gave the switch a flip and voila!  It was running.  I was handed a pile of 1/4″ wide paper strips.  I ran one through.  Coolest. Thing.  Ever.  (or at least this morning)  So cool.  It came out all crimped up like those fancy strips you can buy to put in gift baskets or bags.  Awesome!  Win.  Soon all four of us were whirring paper through and laughing triumphantly.

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Time to take it apart and build the second project–which was a stand for spiral art.  It spun a plate in circles while you held a marker in place.  Really cool art resulted.

As I was attempting to put the pieces back in their correct spot in the kit, I noticed a “Key to Difficulty” on the last page of the directions.  Wow, I thought.  I wonder how hard this one I just did was.  I was probably a little full of myself at this point, I have to admit.  I felt redeemed after last month’s failure.  I just wish my nephew had been there to see me.

I turned to the front cover.  A green dot.  What did that stand for?  I looked back.  Green dot.  Green dot.  Green.  Dot.  Oh my.  Easy.  (Facile)  Sigh.  My spirits sank.  I think I may heard the Venus Fly Trap snicker.  I tried to let that go, and I put the Spiral Art Stand together.  Again, no problem, and it was so much fun making the picture.  I did not even look at its level of difficulty.  I have a feeling I know.  And there is the looming feeling that perhaps my failure last month is the reason for this month’s projects’ levels of difficulty?

It was this evening when a couple of things came to mind.

If I had let last month’s failure keep me from participating this month, I would have missed out on an awful lot of joy this time around.  I mean, it was really, really fun.  Lesson #1.  As Mama and Daddy said, “Try, try again.”  (Or “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.” Literally, in my case.)  Pretty obvious, that one.  But for some reason I have to keep learning it.

When I saw the level of difficulty, I let some of the joy escape for a minute or two.  In a sense I was comparing myself to the “others” who set the skill level.  Daddy often said in his later years, “When you compare, you lose.”  Every.  Single.  Time.  Errahday.  Thank you, Daddy, for that reminder.  Lesson #2.

When we have failures, no matter how little, it is hard to get back in the game.  We tend to compare ourselves to how so-and-so or the generic “they” would have done it.   But I’m thinking tonight we should give ourselves grace in these situations.  Steps, even if they are baby ones, are still steps.  Some days that’s just as good as it can get.  And if we find joy in the “easy” or “simple,” so be it.  We should embrace that.  If it brings you joy, and it ain’t hurting anybody, don’t let anyone, especially not an old Venus Flytrap, tell you it’s not worth doing a jig over.  Take that joy and hold it close.  Joy don’t grow on trees, so when you do find some, treasure it.  Even if it’s VERY FACILE.

Joy and beauty with Legos.

Joy and beauty with Legos.