Blind

I was walking through an antique store, and I saw it sitting on the shelf. I had spent a lot of my childhood going through reels, looking at still shots of fairy tales and faraway places. I was around four when it was given to me, but I still recall how fascinating it was to gaze upon colorized versions of scenes from familiar stories with somewhat of a 3 D image. Instead of words on a page and everything left up to the imagination, this invention brought various subjects alive.

A neighbor had brought over her kaleidoscope. And with much build-up, she told me to hold it up to one eye and turn it. Even at that young age, I knew it was somewhat archaic and outdated. I was not impressed because it didn’t hold a candle to the ViewMaster. Who would want to watch the same colors fall together over and over and make a predictable pattern? Boring. I was slightly spoiled.

Many years later, when I had to look through dual lenses at the eye doctor, it reminded me of my long-lost toy. Except this contraption had more of an alien look to it.

“How about this?” He said, sliding a small circle-like lens in front of my eye.

“No.”

“This?”

“It’s blurry.”

“This one?”

“That’s a little better.”

“This?”

Could I live with this option?

“I’m not sure.”

“How about that?”

“I think I liked the other one better.”

“Okay. Read the alphabet with that.”

I didn’t feel myself squinting as much, but was there better? I read off what he told me to.

“I think that is the one,” he said.

I was finally facing the fact that I was having difficulty seeing in certain situations. When it was raining or snowing at night, and I was driving, I had to watch the white line on the shoulder, or I could easily be in the wrong lane.

“You have astigmatism.”

He went through a lengthy explanation of why bright street lights or headlights of oncoming traffic would resemble one big gigantic spotlight. It had something to do with my eyes having mismatched curves and a refractive error. Buying a pair of jeans for my body type was challenging enough; I didn’t need this type of trouble.

“You probably have had this for a long time.”

I had, and I just put up with it because I didn’t want to wear glasses.

“I am going to order these, and when you first wear them, you are going to feel like you are living in a fishbowl. You don’t need to use them all the time, but initially, you have to.”

When I returned the next week to pick them up, he adjusted them. While I was not excited, glasses were considered a prop during that time and people who didn’t need to wear them were throwing on fake ones that matched their clothes. My oldest daughter considered me ‘lucky’ to get to have them.

“I am going to hate them,” I said. I know me.

It isn’t easy to deal with something that suddenly appears later in your life that you have to adjust to. I had braces put on my teeth in my mid-twenties, but I knew that wouldn’t be a lifelong commitment, and I had chosen to have it done. This was somewhat being forced upon me.

I wanted to keep running carefree without something adhered to my face. Yet, I didn’t want to end up in a ditch, so that won out over my opposition.

When I walked to the parking lot, I tripped over the first curb I came upon, which didn’t make me look fashionable. I caught myself and realized that the fishbowl thing he talked about was happening.

My car was parked far away because I believe in making myself get in steps any way I can. The ground kept looking like it was coming up toward me, and I had to concentrate on my orange vehicle in the distance. If I looked down at my feet, I instantly felt off balance, and I had to look ahead and not turn my head.

Driving was another experience where I had to apply the same rules while getting to my car. Slow head movements and facing forward were my best options. I couldn’t help but notice how everything looked like HD quality. Images were sharper, and I could read the names of streets from farther away. That was a plus.

While driving in wet conditions at night, the brightness around me wasn’t as glaring, and I could see the lane I was in. Yet, I often forgot all about them because even though they corrected a problem, I just wasn’t in the habit of wearing them.

And, I always have the same reaction when I finally put them on: I can see.

Gaining spiritual vision has followed this same pattern. I didn’t know I could detect things from the unseen realm until they manifested. I often decided to discount what I saw or heard because it was unusual. I had asked God numerous times to let me experience supernatural things, and when they started to show up, it was somewhat frightening because of some of the erroneous teaching I had.

One of the first experiences was a dream where I was on the phone talking to a friend, and they told me that one of their relatives was in the hospital. It was very vivid, and the next day, I found out that this was true.

By mid-afternoon, I knew I was to drive to the hospital nearby. On the way, I heard,

“Go into the store on the way there and buy some flowers.”

I did as I was told and picked out a bouquet. I went over to the cards and had a Get Well Soon one in my hand. As soon as I picked up the pen to write on it, I began to see the man’s hospital room. Two prominent men, who I knew were angels, came in and stood on each side of the bed.

This was the first time I saw that escorts are provided to heaven. In subsequent visions of these types of situations, I see it every time. No one goes into heaven alone. So, if you ever think that someone dies by themselves, they don’t. God never abandons the family.

They stood by each side of him as he got out of bed, leaving his body behind. I watched as all three floated up to the ceiling and went up through the roof. I was suddenly back to looking at the Get Well Soon card I was about to commit to.

I decided to get a more generic Thinking of You that I could give to the wife. At that point, I had no proof that anything had happened, and it was one of my initial experiences. I doubted myself all the way to the parking ramp. Had I really seen that, or was it my imagination playing tricks with me?

After finding out what room he was in and getting off the elevator, I could tell by the looks on the family’s face that I wasn’t wrong. He had passed on while I was getting the flowers.

I should have gotten comfortable with it right then, but I didn’t. I figured it was a one time thing until it happened again in a much bigger way. And, since then, even more so. But, I don’t go around advertising to everyone that I have this. The reason? It scares people, and at first, it did me too.

But, as time has gone on, I have gotten used to it, and it was explained very clearly to me after I had seen a woman standing behind her husband with her hand on his shoulder while he spoke of her passing. He had tears streaming down his face, stricken with grief.

Later, I silently asked why I was able to see this. Was it good? Was it bad? I asked for it to be taken away if it wasn’t from God, but it got stronger. I was told that I could see both realms because my spirit is connected to God, who acts as a transmitter and is everywhere at once.

How many times in services had we sang, Open the Eyes of My Heart? And, now I was questioning if it was God because it was strange, and I didn’t want to be attacked by the mob and labeled as a witch.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says this:

But all of us who reflect the Lord’s glory with an unveiled face are being transformed into his own image, from one degree of glory to another. This too is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(EHV)

Too often, I see that the church has become a group of people who all want miracles, but when someone does something that doesn’t ‘fit in,’ it is marked as a negative. I fell for that for a while, but now I don’t. If God wants to show me something new and expand my understanding, I will let it happen. Many people out in the world need to know what heaven is really like. They are grieving and in such a state of despair, searching for any scrap of comfort and hope.

But, it takes courage to allow the unfamiliar to come in so you can help other people. It’s a form of sacrifice to cast all that you think you know, which you don’t, and decide to let God take over.

We are not designed to stay in a comfort zone, all safely together, saying the same things verbatim and having an “us” vs. “them” mentality. What I find fascinating is that I could easily be in the clique one day and out the next due to disapproval. If I say I have psychic abilities, my membership card is immediately removed and burned. But, if I claim I have prophetic gifts, then I can stay. I believe the word “seer” has now gotten the stamp of approval. But don’t ever whisper the term oracle. It’s not easy keeping up with the changing dogmatic rules that many are under.

I have come to understand that I’m not on earth to make all people happy. For awhile, I was under the impression that was my purpose, and it’s exhausting not living as your authentic self. Instead, I have surrendered my life to God otherwise I am wasting my time. I am intelligent enough to let the One who put me here direct my steps. And so are you.

This can be with anything God asks you to do—healing the sick, feeding the poor, speaking in front of crowds, or going into the mission field in a faraway place. Or just simply hearing from heaven.

You have a choice to let your spiritual growth be stunted by what others think, or you can decide to remove the fake cover up and no longer settle for being led by the blind.

Transition

In January, I knew something wasn’t right when she sent me a text saying he had shown up at her house to surprise her. While Dan resided in Iowa and she lived in Minnesota, they continued to have a close relationship headed toward marriage. The plan was 2021 for that. When they met, she was under the impression that he had gone into remission after a cancer scare. If you knew him, it was as if the diagnosis never existed. He said he was healed, and she believed him. After years of never being married and single, she let him into her life.

He refused to give in to what he had been told so many years prior that he only had relied on his faith and no medical intervention. He was way past the false expiration date the doctor had proclaimed and held tightly onto God’s hand to live as if he was cancer free. He concealed some information to protect her, but also because he was adamant about not letting a physician’s opinion define him. She didn’t feel betrayed by that because she loves him so much.

They traveled and spent as much time together as possible. He could fix and build anything, which is one of the things he loved to do the most. Even in severe pain, he would always be willing to get a hammer or another tool to accomplish a job just because someone needed him.

On that cold January day, when he showed up out of the blue, she was happy to see him, but then she realized how off his balance was. When he fell and cut himself, she had fear strike as she cleaned up the blood and applied a bandage.

She wasn’t too pleased that he was smoking cigarettes either. It seemed out of character and reckless. None of this was like him at all.

She decided to follow him back to Iowa, driving behind him to ensure he stayed on the road. She called me so frazzled; I wasn’t sure if they would make it to their destination, but somehow they did.

He had come to get her and had not told her everything that was going on. Shortly after, he fell again, fracturing his elbow. This incident led to a hospitalization where the doctor gave him the ultimatum: hospice or radiation therapy. The chemo he had finally opted for wasn’t working.

Unknown to Jeanne, he had a tumor in his brain. The cancer was spreading, but with his fighting spirit, he chose radiation. He was not giving in at all.

At this time, I asked God a question without realizing what I was fully getting into.

“Show me what you see, God. What is happening?”

I instantly saw a man with his head bowed as if in prayer, holding a fedora. One of those old fashioned hats from a time long ago. This wasn’t my first experience doing something like this, and I knew the hat was significant. It represented a period that this man had been on the earth, and he was standing by.

I opened my eyes and told my daughter what I had seen. She said she saw the exact image. Using resources at her fingertips, she went online and found a picture of Dan’s father. That was the man, and his dad had gone on to heaven a while ago.

“I’m not certain what this means, but I am not telling a soul! It’s like he is waiting for him,” I said.

Anytime I went inward and wondered what reality was, this is what came. And as the days went on, it got stronger. It was as if I was standing in a room of all white, and he was advancing closer to me, in the same posture, with his hat in his hands in reverence.

I didn’t like it because I knew this wasn’t the outcome that they wanted to hear. They longed for him to be healed and made whole on earth. When I would see all the posts on social media of all the prayers being sent up for Dan’s restoration, I felt guilty for not joining in. God had put a gag order on me. I was only to discuss what I saw with my daughter and no one else. I was to keep silent until I was given the nod from heaven to say anything.

I checked in multiple times a day to see where his dad was in relation to me in the waiting room. Then, a second man appeared. Side by side, they stood with the exact same look, but I also saw them laughing. Quietly, their shoulders moved up and down as if they had a funny inside joke between them.

Once again, an online search revealed this other person looked like Dan’s grandfather. Within moments of this discovery, I got a text from Jeanne:

“Dan and I just got married.”

“What?”

She had told me they were going to wait until he had recovered.

“I married us in his hospital room. We said our vows, and it’s not legal, but in God’s eyes, we are married.”

She sent me a laughing emoji. Now I knew why the men were giggling.

“Good for you guys!”

They both changed their status to married, which created an uproar from their friends who wondered what in the world was happening. It was a much needed lighter moment during this.

She spent many miserable days fighting ice and snow to make the drive to the hospital to be with him. He asked her repeatedly to agree with him for a miracle. And like a good wife, she never failed to do as he asked.

She would call me while in the car and alone, crying her heart out. In his presence, she was absolutely strong, but when the day was over, she needed to get it all out.

I held my secret and did not indicate what I knew was coming. I would never go against what God had told me to do, and the timing had to be right. So I asked questions and let her openly grieve.

Meanwhile, these heavenly helpers were now as near to me in my vision as possible, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dan was about to leave. So many times, I wished I was wrong, and I was hoping I was. But I had asked to see the truth, and my daughter kept confirming everything.

When hospice became the only option left, he was placed in his daughter’s home. Jeanne remained near him day and night, even getting up at two in the morning to get him the ice cream that he loved.

On Friday, February 19, after almost an entire month of all of this, I heard:

“Tell Jeanne about the fedoras you see in their hands.”

I could not fathom I was about to do this. I knew they still believed in a complete reversal.

I had a hard time seeing as I wrote:

“Did Dan’s dad wear a fedora? Can you ask him?”

A response came back that he did have one that he had worn. I went on to tell her about the two men waiting to carry Dan into heaven. I had gone weeks knowing this and at times felt so frustrated by it. Now I was telling her, and I didn’t want to.

I felt I was risking my entire friendship with her. The only thing I had going for me was that I had been sending her messages from God to encourage her, and she always would say..oh! I just heard that for myself too! So on some level, she knew I wasn’t wrong.

After she asked Dan about the fedora, he lost his ability to verbalize. I was so grateful I had not resisted and asked, or I would have never known. I went to bed Friday night late, wondering where this was all going.

On Saturday around 6 am, I felt a sharp, persistent poke on my left shoulder.

“Chris, wake up! Ask Jeanne how long she has known Dan.”

I flipped over. No. It’s early; she is worn out and probably sleeping.

Again the weird poke in the shoulder on the other side and the same thing requested. This went on for 45 minutes. Me saying no and being harassed to wake up, just like when my mom always tried to get me up for school.

I gave in, picked up my phone, and sent:

“How long have you and Dan been together? Would it be 3 years? 3 years in September?”(6:42 am)

While I waited for her response, I heard the sound of water, and I saw a beautiful steamship. Dan’s spirit was sitting up on the side of his bed, getting ready to link arms with his dad and grandpa, who were now wearing their fedoras. They were going to board the ship to go to heaven. Dan said,

“You are a good friend to Jeanne. I will always love her. I can speak and send messages to her if she allows it. I know she will miss me, and I want to help her with everything still. I see I can do more from the spirit than I ever could in my body that is limited. Take care of her. You are a good friend to her.”

“I will, Dan. I promise.”

Jeanne answered my text:

I met him in Oct 2017. We got together Oct 25
2018
(7:02 am)

I began writing out my response, but I was also watching Dan leave. He even had a suitcase that went with him. This was all done to make the move easier. Familiar people and everyday objects help.

I saw him link arms with each man to leave the room. He took one last look at his body lying in bed. And he shrugged as if to convey…well, that’s over, and it’s ok.

They passed through the wall. He stood at the walkway up to the ship, and he was in awe. I heard him say: What a beautiful boat this is!

He walked arm and arm with each man. Strong, proud, and tall. He was so happy to be on the move again, having the ability to walk.

I saw him standing at the back of the boat, hanging onto the rails, looking from where he came. The wind was blowing through his hair. He was smiling, and he said: I feel so surrounded by love. Warmth and love.

I sent my response to Jeanne:

I’m glad you made room for him in your heart. I said this a few weeks ago, and I will say it again…this was a decision that a lot of women wouldn’t have signed up for. They would have run away and missed it entirely. Not you. You have planted yourself firmly into the place that God asked you to be. (7:19 am)

She immediately sent at the same moment: Just took his last breath (7:19)

I know (7:19)

I saw him laughing and looking at the views around him. Both men laughed with him. The wind continued to blow through his hair.

I heard the sound of the boat horn. I was standing on a dock watching it leave, going over toward the horizon. I saw Dan smiling and waving. He looked so amazed by what was all around him. His head was back, looking up and then to each side. Like he couldn’t move fast enough to take it all in. The boat became just a speck. I saw the last puff of smoke from the ship. I heard the water up against the dock I was on as the sun shone beautifully off the water.

Then I was back in my bed staring at the ceiling. He had made it, but I had to help rescue his other half.

I met her in a parking lot to help her get back home.

As she hugged me and we cried, I said,

“I was so worried you would hate me if I told you he was going to heaven.”

“No. You told me at the right time. If you had said it before you did, I wouldn’t have accepted it.”

During our drive, we talked about how I saw him leave on a ship.

“He loved boats, and he wanted me to go on a cruise with him. I didn’t want to.”

I had no idea.

As the miles went by, she told me that if I hadn’t texted her, she would have missed his last breath; she had fallen asleep and forgot to set the alarm for his next dose of morphine. My message had jolted her awake and into his room.

I knew the months ahead of her were going to be difficult, but she had carried out the assignment she had been given; happily, she had taken it on in full.

She now has a bond between heaven and earth that can never die. Dan is not gone and never can be. She has come to find out that it’s only a transition.

(The wood holder Dan built for me..even while he was in pain…)

Acting Squirrelly

Thud! Splash!
With spatula in hand, I turned toward the pool area to listen for any further sounds. There was no flapping of wings or familiar noises that a duck would make. There was no scurrying of feet or barking to indicate that one of my dogs had decided to go for a swim. So, what had just landed?

I closed the lid on the grill and cautiously walked up the stairs to look over the fence. I saw a small head frantically trying to stay above water as it paddled to get out of the deep end. For months the structure had sat uncovered collecting melting snow, rain water and every leaf that blew in. The shallow part had no water, so this unfortunate creature had found itself in a cesspool of unattended crud.

From my vantage point, I could not tell what it was. At first glance, it appeared to be an otter, however, that idea faded when I saw the small animal finally reach dry land and flop down.

“Oh, no!” I said to no one. “It’s a baby squirrel!”

In all the years of owning it, nothing like this had ever happened. I called out for my daughter and we determined that I would have to net and release it into the yard.  As I walked to the shed to retrieve what I needed for the job, she said,

“Mom! There is another one in there!”

“No! No! No!” was my mantra as I rushed back hoping she was wrong.

She wasn’t.

While the one panted in a heap after its Olympic medal swim, another was leaning up against the side of the pool looking rather dejected as if all of its attempts to escape had been depleted.

I talked non-stop in sentences that made absolute no sense as I tried to extend the pole to try to keep the animal as far from me as possible on the off chance that I was able to capture it.

I pretended to casually remove leaves as I slowly edged closer to the one that was fighting exhaustion.  Just as I was closing in, he took off back into the water with one leap.

“I am trying to help you!” I reasoned.

Finally, I was able to get him into the net while he chattered and bared his teeth.  I had visions of dirty fangs dripping with rabies biting into my hands as I hauled the screaming furball over the fence and into the yard. With a quick shake, he was slightly airborne, hit the ground running and scampered half way up the tree. He turned to stare me down.

“I can’t do this again,” I said looking at the other frightened little one.

As I pondered how to remove the next one, a terrible smell surrounded me. I looked down into the black water and realized what was going on.  A few days prior, and from a longer distance away, I had noticed what I thought were two large leaves floating near the surface.  Now on closer examination I could see two bushy tails bobbing along.

“Oh no!  Please no!”

“What?” my daughter said.

“I think those are the parents!”

I ran to get a large trash bin with a garbage bag inside.

“I can’t do this!” I shrieked as I reluctantly put my net back in the water.  Bringing it up, I had unearthed a bloated adult squirrel that I quickly disposed of.

“Aw!  Yuck! Some of the water splashed on my legs!  I need an entire hot soapy shower!”  I had lost my ability to talk quietly.  The yelling at the top of my lungs was coming naturally as a way to release my disgust as this horror show was playing itself out.

Quickly, I retrieved the second one and then turned my attention to the living.  With all my verbal outbursts, I had only scared him more.

“Okay,  little guy. This will be over really quick if you just cooperate.”

Of course, he took off like his brother, but the three other rescues had made my net handling skills sharper.  In no time, he was flying up the nearest tree to recuperate from his harrowing backyard adventure.

For the remainder of the evening, I kept checking to see if all was well.  I ended up getting a snow shovel and moved one of the two to the front yard.  He obviously was in some sort of shock. It clung to the earth with its claws as I hefted him gently out of harm’s way. By dark, both had left, and I thought that was the end of it.

A few days later, I heard another splash.  Looking over the fence, I could see another one swimming rapidly. This was followed up by more of the same water fighting, snarling teeth and screeching by me and the baby squirrel before I got him to safety.

This time, he ran as far away as he possibly could.  I wasn’t sure if it was one of the original two I had saved, but my initial thought was that maybe he had to come back to see if his parents really were no longer living.

Why would it revisit a place that had brought it so much pain and agony?  As I stood there, I began to wonder why I do that sometimes.  How many times do I go back mentally to some horrible situation and relive what was said or done to me that was traumatic?  Why is it so easy to let myself go there instead of staying in the present moment and let bygones be bygones?  Why can’t I just let the dead things of former days go?

When I have found myself in the throes of an old memory that is dredging up emotions that I thought I had gotten past, God is always holding out the net saying, “I am trying to help you!  Get out of the muck!”  And, like the helpless animal, I have snarled, resisted and made my own self miserable when I didn’t have to.

In Isaiah 43: 18 it says: Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. (AMP)

Why not?  Why is it not good to continually go back over and dwell on those mistakes and negative issues from a former time?

Because of Isaiah 43:19: Listen carefully!  I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth.  Will you not be aware of it? (AMP)

If I am so preoccupied with what has happened to me before, I will not be able to focus on what I want to happen to me now.  If I let my past take up all of my thinking today, then that leaves no room for a new and good thing to take its place tomorrow.  I have found that to stop myself from unnecessarily going back in time, I must stay on top of my thoughts and allow myself only to dwell on things that will advance me forward into living a better life. Being fully aware that God is with me as a constant companion also restores my peace.  I can pray, release and let go of those things that have caused me pain and not fall into the trap of acting squirrelly.

squirrel

 

 

A Mother’s Pledge

We met when she was thirty-six. I didn’t know it, but she had five children in her care. By the time we became acquainted, the first four kids were thirteen, twelve, eleven and ten while the fifth one was headed for the age of seven. Unaware of the fact that she cooked, cleaned, washed laundry, cared for the sick when a pandemic swept through the house, made school lunches, and stitched up holes in clothes, I was just another one to round it all out by being the sixth.

She thought her pregnancy years were behind her, but I showed up to let her know she was wrong. According to one of my sisters, after she got home from the doctor and she had learned of her state of affairs, she wasn’t quite herself. She removed her coat, stood and stared out the picture window overlooking the street and absent mindlessly began to remove her blouse button by button. Her idea was to change into more casual clothes but she forgot she was not in the privacy of her bedroom. She was stopped before she got too far and brought back to her senses. She laughed at herself, but it was quite apparent that she was in some form of shock.

It must have been rough to be up at night with a newborn only to have the alarm sound at five a.m. to get breakfast ready so that everyone could be out the door on time for school. Once the house was quiet, much of her time was spent cleaning and making beds. Before she knew it, they were all back home.

As the years went by, life didn’t get any less difficult as everyone had after school sports, activities and jobs. Supper became like a restaurant shift where some had to eat early and others had to eat late. When I was four, she was in the height of carting people from various destinations before everyone had their license to drive or owned their own car.

The one thing she never wavered on was her appearance. No matter the stress, she always wanted to be out in public looking her best with hair combed and clothes neat. She didn’t want the world to see a disheveled woman who looked like she didn’t have it all together.

I always went along in the station wagon while she drove around town. While she was dropping one off, she usually was picking up another. I tried to stick close to her side as she always seemed in a rush during this process, and I didn’t want to get left behind in the chaos.

“Chrissy, we have to go,” she said as she walked through the living room. This meant I was to put away my toys and prepare to leave.  Because of our hectic life, she generally spoke in short sentences to get her point across without explanation.

“Time to get up.”  “Clean your room.”  “Go to your room.” “Go help your dad.”  “Go to sleep.”

I followed her into her bedroom as usual while she went to her dresser. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and began fixing her hair with her hands quickly. I could tell by her movements she was in a hurry. She grabbed a can and sprayed in circles all around her head to be sure all strands would stay in place.  This was the era of big hair and complicated styles requiring many applications of high powered aerosol. She gave herself one quick look and then turned to see me standing waiting for her.

“What smells like lemons?” she asked me.

I didn’t understand, and I didn’t answer. She sniffed the air to try and detect where the odor was coming from.  I saw her eyebrows come together.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “I can’t believe it!”  Her mouth was wide open.

She spun around and glanced at the product she had just used.

“Furniture polish! I just sprayed myself with lemon furniture polish!  I thought it was hairspray!”

We raced out the door with my mother smelling like an end table.

When a woman becomes a mom, there is an invisible document that is signed within the sight of God where an oath is taken to let bits and pieces of oneself go while caring for the family.  It stretches us to our limits at times but in that process we begin to see how wide and deep our love can go. There are moments of such great frustration followed immediately by dandelion bouquets and sloppy hugs in which all is forgiven.

Our world is so fast paced you might not always recognize those who are working in the trenches, and often times, it is subtle. But, the next time you see a mom out in the store patiently dealing with a screaming toddler, stop for a minute and realize how blessed you are that you have just come into contact with someone who has taken a mother’s pledge.

 

mom

(The other thing…it was never too early to begin your first real novel.  Her favorite hobby is reading)

Bringing It To the Table

As the smell of cinnamon and apples fill my home tonight from a dessert being prepared for the holiday to come, I am reminded of her. Even with the invention of the newest fan-dangled mixer with all the attachments, I still use hers to whip together a recipe that she would have hand picked herself.

When I feel the blades whirl beneath my grip on the handle, I think of her. She has been gone for awhile now. I use the word ‘gone’ loosely because she is more near to me than ever before. We don’t have the miles from Minnesota to North Dakota separating us anymore. She is closer to me than when she was on earth.

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There are times when I feel her standing near me. Watching. Encouraging me to do the best I can. She and I are kindred spirits of the written word. I may not be able to see her with my natural eye, but I can feel her presence surrounding me more than ever when I am at my computer writing.  She loved to write short stories and was quick to pen a poem.

I was always greeted when we arrived at her house with a long hug as if we could make up the lost time just in that moment.  From the minute I walked into her home, I was expected to eat from morning until night. This is how she really showed her affection.

It wasn’t unusual for her to look me square in the eye and say,

“You look hungry.”

People would probably call it a food addiction of sorts these days, but my Grandma Hazel loved to watch someone eat and enjoy the labor of her work in the kitchen. It was her Norwegian descent in full manifestation. No one would ever grace her home without leaving with his or her stomach distended.

Often, when the meals were done and the dishes had all been put away, she and I would spend hours at the dining room table playing cards. When I get too serious about life, I recall the many games of Hand and Foot, Crazy 8’s and Kings in the Corner she and I played. How she made me laugh with her dramatic sighs and feigned sadness if I was winning. If I would play a card that went against her hand, she would always say, “Why are you being so dirty to me?” with a shocked look and high pitched voice. It just made me want to win all the more.

Of course, no match could ever take place without a snack to eat as we battled it out with our Kings and Queens. There was always Brachs candy, homemade caramel corn or some other sweet confection. As we went along in strategy, she asked me questions about my life, and I told her my deepest fears and my biggest worries. I always knew it was safe to tell her what I felt without concern of the news getting back to my parents. She was an ally who truly wanted to know what was going on with me and would take the time to listen.

She would tell me about her childhood and her step-mother who was mean. How her house burned down when she was nine and the woolen dress she despised was the only article of clothing hanging outside on the line that survived. That she only was allowed to complete the eighth grade because she was needed at home to care for all the young children being born. And despite all of her hardships, she had managed to make the most of what she had. At the end of every story she told, she made sure I was aware that without God helping her through, she would not have made it. She emphasized the power of prayer.

Some grandparents leave a fortune to their heirs. Some leave no notoriety. She gifted me with the idea that nothing in life is too hard or complicated to get over as long as heaven is on your side. I am grateful to have known her so I can pass along her wisdom to my daughters not only with oven mitts on but in those times when life is turbulent.

As I prepare for Thanksgiving, and the mixer does its job, Grandma Hazel is still bringing it to the table.

 

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Days of the Weak

Monday Mourning: And so it begins when the eyes have not yet opened, the alarm is set to go off, and that dreamy world is slowly slipping away. The mind begins to conjure up images of the day and the problems that seem unavoidable.  The lips begin to move and form the words, “I hate Mondays.” You crawl out of bed and pick out your best black outfit.  Murmuring into the shower, over the bowl of cereal, and all the way to the dreaded desk in the back office where mounds of work await. And the clock ticks ever so slow as the air is filled with dissatisfaction and not one single moment affords a smile.  Co-workers approach with perky attitudes and depart with heads hung low as if they have just attended a funeral after leaving your presence.  Mumblings continue on the commute home all the way through the evening news until the moment for bed arrives.

Tuesday Tirade: This day finds you at the top of your game demanding and belittling those who are blessed enough to be in your proximity.  You wish you had a missile launcher to clear your path to work because everyone on the road is a moron.  Your colleagues are graced with your snappy responses and treated like something stuck to your shoe that you cannot remove. Even the family dog is not immune to getting ‘barked at.’  You fall into bed exhausted after the multitude of idiots you have had to deal with all day.

Wednesday Whinning:  Why are gas prices so high?  Why can’t anyone put ink into the printer? Why is milk so expensive?  Why do people make stupid decisions?  Why don’t I get a raise? Why do I even work here?  Why do I have to do all the busy work?  Why didn’t I get invited to the important meeting?  Why do people take up two parking spaces?  Why can’t someone else mow the lawn? Why do I have to do all the decision making? Why can’t someone else do the dishes?  Why do I have to always take out the trash?  Why don’t I have more money in my bank account?   Why do I have to get up so early?

Thursday Thin-Skinned:   All questions, compliments and sentences set you off. Whether written or verbal, all forms of communication are going to irritate you.  You find hidden meanings in everyone’s words that send you reeling into a silent simmering anger and possibly tears by lunch.  You ready yourself for arguments that never happen, but you are prepared anyway.  You sit at your desk and rehearse what you will say, how you will say it and practice squinting your eyes to show that you mean business.

Fretful Friday:  You wake up disappointed by the fact that it isn’t payday.  If it is payday, you dread the idea that you have to pay bills and all your money is gone before it has hit your account.  You wonder what you will do all weekend if you are single.  The prospect of a Netflix binge with junk food gorging sounds depressing. While everyone else is out having fun and posting selfies of excitement to their Facebook status, you will be using your shirt as a giant napkin to wipe the excess cheese off your fingers from the crunchy curls you are inhaling.  If you are in a bad marriage or relationship, you wonder what your plan should be this time to avoid the other person for the next three days. You can’t fake being sick every weekend. You clear your throat indicating that a cough is coming on.

Someday Saturday:  You don’t have to jump out of bed today, but this leaves room for the imagination to wander and begin to think about how you are doing nothing that you want to do.  You had big hopes and plans to travel and live the high life, but you have found yourself in the same job year after year doing the same tasks over and over.  Your vacation days are spent at home getting around to all those extra projects that can’t wait.   You make yourself feel better by saying “someday I am going to..” and you repeat this weekly only to find that it never is happening.   The closest you come to taking that big dream trip is watching the Travel station on cable.  With more crunchy cheese curls on hand.

Somber Sunday:  You might as well get into your car now and drive to work.  Your mind is already there filing papers, answering phones and fixing problems.   The entire day is spent dwelling on where you will be tomorrow and you are totally missing today.

I hope none of you are living your days like that.  I know some who do.  When you look for the good things in life, more show up, but it begins with a smile no matter what, having positive conversations with those around you, believing you are here for a reason, and being grateful to God for everything. It doesn’t hurt to pray for help once in awhile either.  Let heaven help make your weak be strong.

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Messy Development

Road construction is disorderly. It’s inconvenient. Not to mention confusing. Sometimes I wonder if there is a sadistic city planner who says,

“Let’s take the frustration level of the commute up a notch and close down every route possible to see if the average person can get to their destination and back.”

And then that person flies to the store in his or her own hovercraft while the rest of us sweat it out with one another in lines of traffic that inch along. I am not exaggerating when I say that every road around me has been closed down with detours or so ripped up that if you choose it as your course, you can feel every extra ounce of fat jiggle on your body.

Oftentimes while jouncing around on such a thoroughfare my daughters have heard me say,

“This road makes me crabby. It reminds me that I should work out more, and I need a better support bra.”

Today I drove down my street to the makeshift four way stop. This has replaced our usual stoplights that left no room for confusion on whose turn it was to go. Now we all stare at one another and see if anyone wants to take a stab at continuing on their assigned path without being broadsided. I turned my blinker on to take a left and found that someone had put up a barricade. When I looked to my right, I found the same option. No entry. I had no other choice but to go straight. Yet, I really wanted to go left because there was no detour. The street I was on was not going to bring me anywhere near where I wanted to go.

After dealing with this type of circumstance repeatedly since April, I decided to find out what was ahead. What a surprise to see more blockades at the end of the street with a sign letting me know I was not going to continue on. I stared out the windshield at the scene before me. Behind the orange and white enclosures, every type of tall grass, wild flower and weed imaginable took up space. All of which was stopping me from going on any further.

I turned the car around and began a series of turns and stops to try and find my way through the maze. As I did so, I began to think about what I had just seen. No further work could be done on opening up that spot until the neglected land was cleared and smoothed out. As long as nature was allowed to grow in all directions unhindered, that section of the city was not fit for travel.

Driving around gave me extra deep thinking time as I saw the connection between the inner ‘construction work’ I have been doing to eradicate fear, worry and doubt from my life in order to accomodate faith, joy and peace more fully. Removing the negative is never pretty work. It can be quite ugly when you have to admit or face the fact that you are the problem. It isn’t a happy notion when you realize the reason why you are not moving on is because you are hanging onto beliefs that are impeding your own progress.

When I first realized this it was awful news and liberating at the same time. No longer can I blame someone else for the troubles I am in. For the first time, I have felt like my life isn’t vague and out of my control. I question God’s love for me less and less as I go about being more mindful of how I am thinking and do not tolerate unproductive thoughts to consume me. Instead of working against myself, I am taking responsiblity in clearing up the field of my spirit to make way for a new journey on a smoother paved road. It might be a bit of a mess getting there but at least it is development.