long days

This Father’s Day the weather was a mixture of downpours and steamy interludes of sun.  No time to get anything started in between showers.  It was a day of sitting, and thinking. And remembering

One of my friends and I had an honest conversation the next day.  She recently lost her dad, and her husband has had heart surgery and cancer, and she has employment concerns that remain unsettled.

My friend has many things to ponder.  Overwhelming memories and concerns. So on Fathers Day, with all its time for mind wandering, she had told her husband, “I know yesterday was officially the longest day of the year, but I don’t think this day will ever end.”

I find myself thinking that myself.  Not so much about each day, but about the season we find ourselves in.

Yes, it’s officially summer.  The season that means long days, filled with fun activities and time for naps. Heat and humidity, bird songs and crickets, fireflies at night.

In my experience and memory, summer has always been a carefree time of lighthearted joys.

This year is different. In every way, 2020 has brought events and concerns that no one could have imagined or believed, if they had not happened as they did.

Nature continues her same lively pattern, and I have never been more thankful. It’s a welcome diversion from more serious concerns. A celebration of life, and a nod to fulfilled expectations.

Yes, there are lessons to be learned during these days, changes to strive for, and many blessings to be thankful for, even in the midst of these “unprecedented times.”

But the days seem long and the season of uncertainty continues.

harnessing energy

The water on the shoreline at our lake house was very high, so we thought it would be fun to drive to the dam and see the runoff that was surely going through the spillways.  My husband looked it up – 2800 cubic feet per second.

When we arrived, it was quite a sight:

The sound and the breeze reflected the power of that rushing water.

Our lake has a relatively small dam, but it does produce hydroelectricity through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

It isn’t an old dam – built in the 1970’s – but seeing it caused me to think about our discussions at Book Club of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) projects from the 1930’s. In a terrible economic time, workers were paid to do all sorts of public works projects, like building dams (and being pack horse librarians like we read about in Book Club.)

Someone at Book Club commented that they didn’t think that would go over well these days – being told what kind of work to do if you wanted to get paid.  Sadly that could be true.  These days the government is just giving away money, without requiring any work at all.

Back to the dam – the might and force of the water pouring through was mesmerizing. Such energy rushing past.

Then I thought of the pent-up energy and frustration we are seeing in the protests in our cities these sad days. The strength and intensity is alarming.

If only we could manage to harness that energy into life-giving work and support, just as dams are able to harness the water’s potential into producing electricity – and lighting the world.

lily days

It’s that time of year. The orange lilies are back!

Here in Tennessee, these beauties have gone wild.  Along with thriving in gardens, these lilies are abundantly growing along the roadsides. What a beautiful sight!

“It’s June!” they announce.  “Welcome to summer!”

Years ago a friend gave us some from her bountiful spread from the entrance to her driveway.  “I almost wish I hadn’t planted them there,” she said. “They multiply so quickly and take over.”

Not being much of a horticulturist, to me a plant that needs little care, multiplies, and almost never dies sounded right up my alley. I was thrilled to receive them.

We planted them along a retaining wall and they were perfect there. I enjoyed those lilies so much that when we moved to another home, I wanted some more. I had another retaining wall that needed them!

And, being a hardy Tennessee volunteer, I decided to dig my own. I had spotted some growing almost hidden in a roadside area that cried out to be dug up and replanted in my yard – to be enjoyed and admired by all.

So I took my daughter with me that morning – the day of her prom, she reminds me – and we waded through the swampy ground and swatted bugs as we dug up our lilies.

They turned out to be just as sturdy and as beautiful as the ones I had before, and we enjoyed them so much in our new home. Plus they also continued to multiply in the area where we had dug them, so no harm done, right?

Now we live in yet another house. We have been there 16 years, but we have no lilies.

This time every year I see them blooming and feel them calling my name.  Of course, I could go to the garden store and buy some, but where’s the fun in that?

Right now I have some other other pressing projects, so another year will probably roll around without new lilies.

But someday….

 

lake life

The weekend was filled with so much energy! Our family was all together at the lake – celebrating being together and ushering in the unofficial start of summer.

We took “scooter” rides, played in the blow-up pool, used squirt guns, threw balls, raced toy trucks, enjoyed boat rides, chased each other around, played Qwirkle, ate yummy food, read stories, watched cartoons, discussed current events, and laughed a lot.

A slower pace helped us recharge our batteries for a return to the real world.

Our children’s families left a day or two ago, and my husband and I remained for a few chores and a little cleanup. It has been much quieter since they have been gone. We miss them!

But there’s still life at the lake.

On our boat ride we saw geese and herons. From the scooter we spotted squirrels and deer. The call of an owl echoed through the cove. In our own yard we have spotted an armadillo, a big fat toad, several lizards – and a skunk!

And tonight we were thrilled to see the first fireflies of the season.

I’m so thankful for summer at the lake!

 

 

book women

I was moved by The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson and was able to write about the connections it brought to mind. So I am excited that it will be the book we discuss at our book club this week.  Unfortunately we are meeting through Zoom – we postponed this book from last month, and still can’t gather in groups of more than 10, so we will make do. It will be nice to “see” everyone again.

The leader has given each of us a question to ask, so all can participate (such a good idea on her part – everyone getting to speak can be difficult with a large group online). The questioner can also answer the question if she would like, or let the group respond.  My question is this: How has a librarian or booklover impacted your life?

I will give my response at our meeting, but only briefly, because I’ll also be anxious to hear what others have to say as well.  However, this question has brought many thoughts to mind, so I’m sharing my complete answer here.

I’m sure my parents read to me when I was young, but I don’t have any memories of that.  I do have some old Golden Books from my childhood, so I know books were present. I also remember going to the old East Nashville Carnegie Library, but I don’t recall the librarians there.

My first “book woman” influencer (that I remember) was my fourth grade teacher, Evelyn Burns. Her classroom walls were literally lined with books.  She read to us, put us in groups to read and share books together, taught us how to use the library to find books we liked, and required us to do fun projects that evolved around books.  Thank you, Mrs. Burns!

Again, as a student, I don’t remember any school librarian having a big influence on me, but I had high school teachers that broadened my horizons in books.  Sarah Stamps never helped me fully see all the analyses of English literature (she tried!), but she did instill a deep appreciation of literature, even those English works written in faraway times and places. Because Mrs. Stamps was enchanted with these books and poems, she helped me love them too. Thank you, Mrs. Stamps!

In my college Children’s Literature class, Dr. Elinor Ross brought classic works written for children into my young adult mindset, and helped me see them with new eyes. And I discovered SO MANY great books! I have been a devotee of children’s literature ever since. The class project where I cataloged books and their themes was helpful to me as I began my teaching career. Thank you, Dr. Ross!

During my career I worked at six different schools and with ten different school librarians, and each one helped me help my students learn to love books. They each possessed different levels of enthusiasm and exhibited various methods of presentation, but I am grateful for each one. Children learned to appreciate the magic of the written word through their efforts, and so did I. Thank you, Brenda, Dolores, Nancy, Karen, Thresa, Teresa, Rachel, Alice, Amanda, and Heather!

The most important and meaningful book of all – the Bible – holds new information and lessons each time I read it.  When I participate in a Bible study group, I can read the Bible, read the study text, answer the questions, and pray – and STILL get more insight when our group meets together and discusses the lesson. I have been blessed with good teachers and leaders of Bible study throughout my life. Thank you, Yvonne, Beth, Vicky, Lisa, and Nancy – just to name a few!

Book Clubs have been a part of my life for a long time.  I have read books I wouldn’t have chosen myself, and I have finished books I might have abandoned if left to my own choices. (And most of the time I have been glad I did!) Now whenever I read any book, I feel like it’s not complete until I discuss it with someone. I am grateful to the organizers of these groups for bringing together readers to discuss what we read – and more importantly, to discuss life!  Thank you Peggy, Marcia, Ellen, and Mary Kay!

Sometimes it is those one-on-one conversations that mean the most. One of my colleagues and I learned together about balanced literacy and critical thinking – she as a classroom teacher and I as a reading specialist.  We would share insights and discoveries along the way.   I remember how we inferred about illustrations in the Sarah Stewart book, The Journey. When my friend moved into the reading specialist role at a different school we continued to meet and discuss – books, lessons, and life.  These breakfasts continue to this day. Thank you, Kim!

So many book women have made a difference in my life. I am thankful for each and every one.

blackberries

The weather has taken a turn. It is so cold outside today – cloudy, blustery, misty rain mixed with showers.

Quite a change from just a few days ago.

It’s a tough transition from winter to spring.  That’s why we sometimes move two steps forward toward summer, and then three steps back into winter. Those cold snaps have names, and right now we are in the midst of Blackberry Winter. How do I know? Because I have listened to and learned from the folklore and old wives’ tales. And – the blackberry bushes are blooming.

They are so pretty and so noticeable this time of year.  But when summer comes, the fruit is hidden away.

I’d like to take a walk with my granddaughter right now and take a bit of brightly colored yarn. We can tie little bows on these blooming branches. Then when summer comes, and taking a walk in the humidity is like swimming through thick soup, we can go back and find those bows and see what has become of these blossoms of Blackberry Winter.

Wouldn’t that be fun!  I will go now and look for that yarn…

uprooted

In addition to the powerful, devastating tornadoes on March 3, and the continuing soul-wrenching COVID pandemic, the Nashville area has just had another round of strong storms come through on May 3 and May 4 (yes, back-to-back evenings).  Winds up to 70 mph! Power was out for 130,000 in Nashville alone – plus 40,000 in the neighboring county where I live – and countless more in surrounding areas. They say it might take two weeks for some to be restored.

The straight-line winds did tremendous damage to so many trees in the area:

Yes, some branches and trunks snapped in two, like in the last picture, but all the other trees in these pictures have one thing in common – their roots were not durable.

Some of the roots weren’t deep enough, or sturdy enough, to stay in the ground under the extreme pressure of the wind. Other trees broke off at the ground line – the connection between roots and trunk just wasn’t resilient or solid enough to hold tight in the raging squall.

*******

We all, like trees, face storms in our lives – uncertain times where we need strong roots to protect us and keep us grounded. And we need to keep our relationship to those roots in tact. That is what will see us through hard times.

How strong are YOUR roots?

I am thankful for the roots of faith in my life.  Mine were planted by my parents, watered by caring friends, and tested by trials. These roots are available to all – but again, like trees, some people have roots that are stronger than others.

Our roots must have something to hold on to. So most importantly I am grateful for our Father, God, the surest foundation for us all.  His Almighty Strength is more powerful than any trial, and that’s what I choose to grasp. He is always there, in quiet and supportive ways. He can carry us through and past all the tribulations we face.

In the Bible, Paul said, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power.” (Ephesians 3:17-18).

May we all grow our roots to be strong and deep, planted in God’s love.

three dears

1

Madison, our oldest grandchild, and her little brother rode with us to our house. As we pulled in our driveway, she squealed, “There’s a dandelion!” So my husband stopped the car to let us out before he pulled around to the back.

Madison scampered over to the dandelion and I followed, thinking of how I could convince it to blow towards the street or our neighbor’s driveway to stop from spreading more of these weeds into our yard.

But after she picked the long stem with its cottony top, she made no move to blow on it. As we walked down the driveway to the back of the house, I asked her about that.

“Wadie loves dandelions,” she said. “So you’re saving it for him to blow?” I asked. When she nodded yes, I replied, “Well, that’s a very nice thing for you to do – to share with your brother.”

Then she looked at me and said, rather matter-of-factly as though I should already know this, “That’s part of being a big sister.”

So true, sweet girl – so true.

2

Grayson, our second grandchild, was visiting when Pops (my husband) showed his a small cut on his thumb. “Look at my boo-boo,” said Pops.

Grayson frowned and then immediately went over to the kitchen sink, stood on his little stool, and said, “Tal, tal,” (towel, towel) as he stretched and tried to reach the paper towel roll.

“You don’t need a paper towel right now,” I said firmly.

But he would have none of that. “Tal, tal,” he continued. And of course I relented and tore one off for him.  Then he wanted me to get it wet, which again, of course, I did.

He hopped down from the stool and went straight to Pops.  “Boo boo?” he asked, and Pops held out his thumb.

Then Grayson took the towel and dabbed it on Pops’ boo boo.  He was careful to touch and clean it gently and then looked up into Pops’ face. “Better?” he asked, and smiled.

Much better, sweet boy – so much better.

3

Wade, our third grandchild (by only three weeks) was so excited when we came to his house. “Nan, Nan, come on,” he said, and he motioned for me to follow him.

We went to his room and he pulled out a thick blanket from the drawer. “Cape?” he asked.

I did my best to put it around him and tied it at his neck. He wiggled a bit and shrugged his shoulders. “Tank Ouu,” he said and disappeared.

Soon he was back without the cape but with a lightweight swaddling blanket in hand. “Cape?” he said again, and held it up.  I looked at it and smiled. “Better,” he said. And it was better – much easier to tie. So I suited him up.

“Now you can go fast,” I said. He smiled, ran across the room, and said, “Ready? Big hug!” Then he ran straight to my arms.

Yes I’m ready sweet one – always ready for this.

years upon years

April 14, 2003

Seventeen years ago.

I have to look this date up every year. I know it is in mid April. It is the day my mother passed away. It was the Monday before Easter that year. And it was a blessing, as she was suffering from the extensive pain of bone cancer. She was, as she had said, “Ready to go,” and she knew where she was going. But she left an empty space behind.

Seventeen years.  If you think back another seventeen years before that, our daughter was only two years old, and our son wasn’t born yet.

Seventeen years ago. So much happened in that intervening time. Our children married. Our grandchildren born. My husband and I retired and are growing old together.

While I ponder on the time that has passed, I have trouble realizing the amount of years gone by. I have recently been “cleaning out” (haven’t we all?) and I have uncovered and organized family pictures and other memorabilia.  So my parents are fresh on my mind.

In truth, they always are.

Today a redbird – two redbirds – hopped around on our deck and looked in the kitchen door at us as we ate our lunch. A visitor from heaven, as the old tales say?  If so, then I reply, “Hello, Mama! I’m thinking of you today.”

And I was cleaning out a bookshelf today, I came across this book I hadn’t thought of in years.  It was a gift from a friend when Mama died:

So many reminders. Happy memories to make me smile.

Maybe she is thinking of me, too.  “Love you, Mama!”

 

 

 

 

a precious soul

“I like your paint colors. They are very nice. Sometimes, we must use colors that are… uh,uh,” remarked the painter shaking his head back and forth.

“Your swivel chairs are perfect in front of the fireplace!” said my friend. “I have just found my new favorite chair,” she continued.

“How did you find just the right colors for this room?” inquired a neighbor. “Everything blends so perfectly.”

“Each part of this remodel is done so well.  I’ve seen a lot of homes, and a lot of re-dos. I know the age of these houses in this neighborhood, and yet yours looks so current, yet classic. Who did your work?” asked the realtor who was a guest at a party in our home.

I am very appreciative of the kind words about our home. And I quickly respond with these words: “Our daughter is a designer, and it looks so good because of her. She deserves every bit of the credit!”

Yes, I am so grateful for our daughter’s design skills, and for the fact that she helps us with decisions at our home. She ALWAYS has good ideas. And she puts up with me if I can’t see her vision, or want to hang onto something that needs to go.  So I am also grateful for her patience with me.

She is such a gift!

A few years ago, I became a mother to an astonishingly beautiful baby girl. My husband and I just stared and said, “How can she really be ours?” She has enchanted us ever since.

She was right on track with childhood milestones. She hated bananas from the very first taste. She giggled joyfully and freely. She was meticulous with some things (art and school work) and “creative” with others (keeping her room). She loved to arrange things (tables, candles, etc.) into what she called her “set-up,” an early start to home design.

In elementary school she was a hard worker who loved doing her school work. In middle and high school that continued, even when she attended a quite challenging private school. She always gave everything her all.

She “excelled” at soccer even though, in truth, she wasn’t the best player. But she was the heart of the team, and she was the first (only?) to receive an award in her name. It is now given to a player who exemplifies this spirit, and it continues to this day.

She has memorized much of the dialog in the classic, “Steel Magnolias,” and no one cries alone in her presence. We were “best friends” when she was in high school, but I am thankful that I have been replaced in that role by her husband and soul mate, the perfect match for her sweet spirit.

And she is the BEST mommy. She knows her two precious children so well, constantly seeking ways to meet their needs – while at the same time keeping them challenged to move along with their skills as they grow.  (And she shares them with my husband and me, and trusts us with them. A privilege and an honor!)

She has a deep-rooted faith that she lives out each day. In good times and in tough times, she relies on her Father for guidance and care.

Our daughter has SO many qualities that I am proud of and thankful for. She is such a blessing to our family. If there were anything that I could change about her, I would give her more self-confidence.  I’d share with her the knowledge and conviction that I have about her: She can do whatever she makes up her mind to do – and she will do it well.

I love you, Beth. Thank you for being our daughter!

Thank you, God, for sending this precious soul into our lives.

 

 

 

a recurring book

Hi friend,

Hope this finds you and yours doing well in these challenging times. We are all doing fine, and I am thankful.

Goodness, I miss seeing you! I’m ready for a return to the carefree days when we could go and hear authors and travel to your beautiful home to enjoy each other’s company. Hopefully those better days will come back again soon.

I wanted to tell you a funny story. Remember that book that our friend recommended – and both you and I started it but just couldn’t get into it? I tried, and I know you did, but I finally gave up. I actually gave my copy away, as I knew I’d rather spend time reading something else – anything else! Well, I’ll get back to that book in a minute.

A member in my other book club saw that the bookstore was offering a session on “Book Club Reading Suggestions,” and she asked me to attend with her. It was a good evening, back in the “good ol’ days,” and we came away with some brochures and papers that featured recommended books and their summaries.

I had hit a dry spot in my reading so I pulled out those papers and read through LOTS of book suggestions.  I don’t always seem to like what is currently trending, so I quickly narrowed down my choices to three books. I decided to order the first one for my Kindle, and started on it right away.

I got about three chapters in and had this familiar feeling… Where had I heard of these characters and situations before?

Yep, you guessed it. It was the same book that you and I didn’t care for – the one I had previously discarded. Ugh. Now I’m committed to read it – I suppose.

I wish my memory were better. Sometimes I think I could own about five books and just reread them all from time to time, since I obviously can’t remember much about titles and plots. I would definitely save money, that’s for sure!

Take care, stay well, and let me know what you are reading these days.

Miss you!

look up and trust

a sky so blue

a breeze so light

a leaf so green

a bud so tight

the clouds above

are fluffy white

but

the weight I feel

is just not right

 

what happens next

we never know

in times like these

our spirits, low

we tend to fret 

and worry so

or

we can pray 

and watch hope grow

 

the choice is ours

the pathway clear –

share the smile

hold back the tear

look up and trust

and never fear

for

in all things

our Lord is near

Wishing for a peace that passes all understanding

to carry us through these troubled times

better days SOLC20 #31

In many ways this month of unanticipated changes and unsettling news has seemed to stretch forever. At last it is coming to an end.

But how can this month of writing be done? I have so much more to process. So many more ideas to consider, so much more to say.

Of course, I can still write.  The question is, will I? I am so deeply grateful for Two Writing Teachers to provide this outlet yet again, this motivation to write and share.

And in the midst of that work, it is good to find myself again. Thank you, ALL of you at Two Writing Teachers, for making this writing celebration happen yet again this year.

As the month went on it was easier – and more necessary – to write. Pieces that sometimes alluded to the strange world situation we find ourselves in, and sometimes just to escape. And as always, at the end of every March writing challenge, there’s that determination to keep writing. Perhaps the slower pace of today may help with the necessary follow-through this time.

As April starts tomorrow, I once again look forward to a new month. No one knows what this one will bring. The truth, that we often forget, is that this is true about every upcoming month and each tomorrow that we have.  No one knows.

So I will try to take every day as a gift, to celebrate the good that can always be found, to remember to be thankful for each day as it ends, and to look forward to the next tomorrow with hope.

 

Better days ARE ahead!

old yards SOLC20 #30

I love old yards.  Some would say it sounds better to say, “established” yards, but that’s not really what I mean.

Old yards generally have some size to them. Not huge, but not postage stamp, either.  I like that.

The landscaping up next to the house is often unique.  Not always symmetrical, sometimes overgrown, and maybe there’s mulch – or maybe not.

But it’s the rest of the yard I’m fascinated with.

The grass in old yards has a LOT more than just grass in its composition. My favorite “weed” is violets. Heart shaped leaves and tender purple petals. They can easily “take over” but they are just so pretty.

This time of year, old yards have lots of blooming plants. Various trees, some of which will have fruit later on, are gorgeous right now. Redbuds, dogwoods, cherry trees, and more!

Also, vibernum plants, many of which we call snowball bushes, are loaded with big white spheres of blossoms.

All are so faithful to return year after year. To them I say, “Thank you!”

And all the perennials that line the driveways and walkways, or fill a certain patch of the lawn. Thick leaves, colorful blooms. Beautiful!

Sometimes I wonder what made the owners decide to put those bushes or trees or perennials in the spots where they have flourished.  Often there’s no determined rhyme or reason that I can see, but that’s why I am intrigued.

And there’s hardscape worth noting as well. Giant concrete planters, painted black or white, atop columns or at the base of stairs. Perhaps across the outside edge of the front porch. Sidewalks that sometimes leave the front door and end up in the middle of the yard. Numerous items used to outline flower gardens. (The only ones I don’t care for – and that thankfully we don’t often see anymore – are the old tires painted white.)

Our house at the lake has an old yard. We are enjoying the efforts of former owners during this season. To them I say, “Thank you!”

Our iris are starting to bloom.  This patch was so anxious to bring joy into this unsettled world that they bloomed before growing their typical long stems. But even hunkered down in the leaves they are beautiful.

 

There are two things that all old yards have in common.  The first is TIME.  It took a lot of time to plant and grow these yards. The second thing is LOVE – someone loved plants, loved their home (and yard), and loved to make things beautiful.

Audrey Hepburn is quoted as saying, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  In old yards everywhere, plants are showing that someone in the past did indeed believe in his or her tomorrow – which has now become our today.

These old yards reflect the beauty of the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” To all of them I say, “Thank you!”

hands SOLC #29

Isn’t it a gift to have hands that can do so much? Today I am thankful for my own useful hands and for the hands of those I love.

These are my granddaughter’s hands.  I love the dimpled knuckles. These hands are so sweet, and when she places them on each side of your face and says “I have a secret,” I melt. Then she whispers in your ear, “I love you.”

 

They are also artistic. She is very creative and makes three dimensional art as well as all kinds of colorful drawings and designs on paper. Once at her house I saw drawings of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell she had made and cut out, after her first trip to Disneyworld.

 

I asked her to reproduce them on canvas, which I have now to cherish. Notice the fireworks – Tinkerbell lights the castle for the nightly show, you know.

 

Eeek! These are my old, plain hands. Brown-spotted and wrinkled, with arthritis in some knuckles, but I still appreciate all they can do.

 

Through the years I have tried to be creative. I have tried calligraphy, watercolor, cross stitch, smocking, and other attempts at art.  When I retired I gave some specially selected books to each grade level at my school where I had been the reading specialist. I wrapped them all in black and added some reading quotes to each package:

 

These gnarly hands belong to my hardworking husband. He is always busy with projects and tasks. He likes to work in the yard, do wood working, paint, and help others.

 

They can be tender hands as well as tough – our grandchildren love for him to pat their backs as they fall asleep.

 

His hands can be artistic too.  Look at this stylish mailbox he recently made:

 

Thank you, Lord, for hands!

May You always keep our hands busy in service and love.

a long time SOLC20 #28

When we are waiting, every moment seems like hours.

I’ve always heard the expression, “’til the cows come home.” To me, it meant forever. Or it seemed that way.

Definitions tell you that it could mean until the end of the day (as in, when cows come back to the barn for milking) or for an indefinite long time (as in, the fact that cows may wander a long time if they ever escape their pasture, unlike horses that tend to come back to their stable).

If you are doing something fun and exciting, you want it to last ’til the cows come home.

If you are anxious or worried, and you are forced to wait til the cows come home, it seems like a very long, long time.

Either way, the wait is over:

They’re Home!

hope SOLC20 #27

All is definitely NOT right with the world these days.

But the (natural) world doesn’t seem to be aware of this. It just keeps on as normal, ushering in spring and all the delights that the season brings.

The lower level of green is rich and full these days. We hardly notice it when summer is in full leaf, but it is so encouraging now.

 

Buttercups are starting to fade – but they have been bringing us sunshine even on cloudy days.

 

Redbud winter was short – but as sweet and lovely as always.

 

Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Theodore Roethke

 

New life shows itself in all kinds of ways.

 

Wishing you hope and peace in these unsettling, yet glorious, days.

all in the plan SOLC20 #26

Dear Friend,

I hope this finds you and yours doing well and staying well!  As always, and maybe especially now, I miss seeing you!

You are always SO sweet to think of our son Mark and his family, which we all deeply appreciate. So I wanted to give you an update.

As you know, we were all thrilled when Mark changed jobs and started working here in Franklin, rather than having the busy commute into Nashville every day. He settled into his new position, doing basically the same kind of work, and was able to bring some additional knowledge and contacts with him. And he loved having more time at home with his family, without having to make those daily long drives.

Around Christmas time, the owner of the small company that Mark went to work for here in town had a meeting with his 4-5 employees about his plans for the future. This included him saying he didn’t know what he would be doing in 5 years but he didn’t want it to be this business.

Mark knew that larger companies had offered to buy the owner’s company (and he would probably keep his job there), and he also knew that the owner might just close this business (which meant job hunting for Mark). Needless to say it caused Mark to think long term about his own career path. So he pondered this into the new year.

Then in late February, very unexpectedly, his former boss from the company in Nashville that he left contacted him and asked what it would take for Mark to come back. Mark had been keeping up with the office through another friend he worked with, and that friend told him that not only had this former boss and others realized how much Mark had been contributing there, but also that Mark was sorely missed.

Long story short his former company made Mark an offer he couldn’t refuse, and so he is back at work there, as of this week. He is working from home now of course, but when normalcy returns he will be working some in Nashville, some at the Murfreesboro office, and even some from home. He received a HUGE raise, too.

And he is very happy. He had missed the challenge of some of the bigger projects he had been working on before, and he did feel more appreciated there. It may have taken this time away from that firm for both sides to realize the value of this working relationship for them all.

When Mark gave his notice at the firm here in Franklin, it went very well. The owner said he hated to see him go but he thought it was the right thing for Mark to do. Mark thinks the owner is concerned about how long he can keep his small business afloat under current conditions, and if he had let someone go, it would have been the last one hired – Mark. But the owner did offer to take Mark back if he ever chose to do so.

Landon’s work stopped today and she will have a few emergency pay days and then after that at least get to keep her benefits. So this increased salary will be welcomed for the income shortfall created by her not working.

As you and I have both prayed for Mark, little did we know (or at least I didn’t) that God had other plans and would answer them in a different way. But we are all so very thankful. And I wanted to share this good news with you!

When you have time please let me know how you and yours are doing. And I look forward to a good visit when we are able to do so.  Hopefully soon!

Love you!

too much weight SOLC20 #25

Yesterday I wrote about having a bag that contained just what someone needed at the time. It sure came in handy. But still, I don’t like carrying around things I don’t need.

My mother was a collector and, truly, a hoarder. Because of that I tend to be more organized, more minimalist.

Last fall I was meeting friends for breakfast, and when I parked downtown to walk a block to the restaurant, there was an older lady trudging down the sidewalk near me, carrying two heavy bags and pulling a rolling cart.

“So much stuff!” I thought. I imagined that she must be going somewhere important so I asked if she needed help.

Turned out she was headed to her church – her bags were filled with books and other study materials. Way more than anyone would need in one day. She also said she makes this trip from home to church – about 6 blocks – every day.

I couldn’t let her go on alone, so I took one of the weighty bags – how did she manage all three? I walked the next two blocks with her to the church. My arm was aching by the time we got there, even a little trembly after putting the packed bag down.

Our conversation along the walk showed that she obviously wasn’t thinking clearly about some things, so I was thankful to be able to do my “good deed” and help her along the way.

I went back to the restaurant and met my friends, never planning to tell them what I had done. However, one had seen me with the lady, and asked about it, trying to give me credit for what I did. “No big deal. Just trying to help out,” I told them.

This lady carries other weights in her life besides the bags of books. I hope that church congregation, and others – maybe me when the opportunity arises –  can look out for her in days ahead.

a bag like that SOLC20 #24

Some people seem to always have what they need, at just the right time.

I don’t generally fit in that category. The less I have to carry the better. Also the fewer full shelves in my closets, that’s better for my mind as well.

But sometimes it’s good to have useful things with easy access.

In an old movie, One Fine Day, two separate single parents have to unexpectedly keep their children with them as they go to work.  This doesn’t turn out well, and, interestingly, their paths cross repeatedly during the day.

So together they look for a drop-in daycare, and they find one that is having a Super Hero day. Of course, the children need costumes.

The mother pulls all they need (and more) out of her bag.  The amazed father (George Clooney) asks this well-prepared mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) “Where do you get a bag like that?”

Where, indeed.

Although I can’t remember a lot of other details about the movie, I have never forgotten that line.

Some people have absolutely no knowledge of how to pack a bag with all the things you might need. Or maybe certain other people continually gather and keep things, “just in case.”

At any rate, those bags with those contents can NOT be bought – anywhere. They must be thoughtfully assembled or accumulated – through experience and planning, and possibly with a touch of good luck.

Maybe I, too, need to work on that. You never know what the grandchildren might need.