Hi! At 68 years old, I am exploring writing. I joined Shiawassee Area Writers a little over a year ago. It is a new group that is growing rapidly. Not even a year old, the group which had some seasoned authors and new writers, started a project to put an anthology together. Eighteen of our twenty-nine members offered 2500 words to the project. We were given the choice to display our words as we chose; one story or several, poems, combination of story(ies) and poem(s). On September,30, 2018 "Winter in the Mitten" debuted. I have one long story "Evergreen" in the book. This is the first book in a series. We are now working on "Spring in the Mitten."
When I was in my early forties, I went back to school. I wanted to be an author. I earned an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and graduated with honors. What I discovered was that writing is not easy. It is a craft and skill that does not come easy to me.
I love to read and I can't even tell you how much help I have received by it. My hope is that my stories about my everyday journeys will lift someone's spirit. In the process, I pray that God will be glorified.
My family, church and community, and my writing group are my top priorities. Life to me is all about connection and helping one another.
The word “home” seemed to be popping up everywhere.
At Christmas, I received “A Long Way Home” in a gift game played at a Christmas party. A month later I got around to reading this remarkable story.
The booklet “Home” I found in a restaurant that I hadn’t been in for years. I was visiting family. I had once lived in this area but it was so long ago that I needed my memory refreshed to find the restaurant.
I didn’t think much about the word “home” until I had a couple conversations with loved ones.
Both conversation were about adjusting to a their environments. Both were away from home. A college student living in a dorm three hours away from her family home. Most of her friends lived close to home and left on the weekends. The other was temporarily away from home and apprehensive about returning.
It got me to thinking about the word “home” and I noticed the books I had been reading. Both had the word “home” in the title.
“A Long Way Home” states on the cover that it is a story about a boy’s incredible journey from India to Australia and back again.
Saroo was five years old when he got lost in India and ended up in Australia. Twenty some years later he found his way back home through memory and Google earth.
Saroo ended his story with these words, ” It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding. While I don’t have any urge to convert that into religious belief, I feel strongly that from my being a little lost boy with no family to becoming a man with two, everything was meant to happen just the way it happened. And I am profoundly humbled by that thought.”
While Saroo chose not to convert his story into a religious belief, his story strength my belief in God. The story was miraculous. I cannot believe that God wasn’t with him on his journey.
I needed this encouragement at this appointed time because I was worried about my loved ones.
It comforted me to realize that they are not physically alone even if they feel like they are. And it reminded me that there is someone way more capable to meet their needs than me.
Home is so much more than a place and the people that you share that space with. While a beautiful home and loving family are a blessing, nothing compares to the love of God.
New Year’s Day I woke reminiscing over the past year. It was really a pretty great year considering the struggles I had dealt with. I had met new people and done new things. My brother, Mike and I had become a better team caregiving for Mom. I felt great.
As the day proceeded, I thought about the new year ahead of me. I knew things were not going to get better with Mom – only worse. I could have done better last year working with Mike and taking care of Mom. Mom gained 30 pounds which caused her legs to hurt. She found it impossible to walk as much as she likes to. Her medication had increased her appetite. She was hungry all the time and had become fussy about what she would eat. She would live on sweets and Alfredo if you let her.
In addition to Mom gaining weight I had gained an extra 20 pounds. Last year’s goal was to lose weight and improve my health. I had failed.
Another goal I had was to decrease my debt. I paid extra every month but due to some dental work and auto maintenance my debt total remained the same. I’m not upset with myself because I worked hard at it. I am discouraged though. I need to get my eyes checked this year. It has been 5 years. I was told that I was developing cataracts. I pray that I only need new glasses. Will next year’s debt total be the same or more?
My third goal was to work on my attitude. As I looked back over the year I could see some improvement in some areas. Not so much in others. Perhaps even worse.
I was heading in a downward slump. I just didn’t want to think about the new year at all.
I had a goal to write a blog a week. The most logical thing would have been the new year. I just couldn’t do it. I sought God for help. Give me something else to write about Lord. Nothing. Silence. Where are you? Is it over?
I was feeling pretty bad about myself. Thinking about all the things that I couldn’t make happen. Disappointed in myself and life. Frustration and impatience is a pride issue. Humility has been the main focus of my attitude goal for about 3 years now.
I don’t think I’ve even made a dent in this goal.
I got a new journal for Christmas from my daughter. Every day lists a chapter in the bible to read. Saturday’s was Romans 3. As I read the Lord began to open me up. It wasn’t about my works but my faith. I knew this as head knowledge. God was letting me experience it. He showed me that I was feeling sorry for myself and didn’t believe that God loved me. Then I remember things on prior days that proved that He did and I had chosen to ignore them. My focus was on the negative.
I wrote in my journal on Saturday, God loves me.
I woke up this morning inspired to write. We (God and me) are going to continue with the same goals in 2019. We have changed some of the strategies for getting there.
One of the best things a person can do for their self is to remember that God loves them. If you look for it, you will see it.
As I pondered this year’s Christmas, I remembered much of the violence and troubles of the year. The word “peace” whispered in my ear.
Not exactly the peace that the dictionary describes. Its definition of peace is freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility; freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
I believe we can receive this state within but it’s not likely to be experienced for long periods of time unless we have matured on the path towards perfection or we have somehow shut the world out. The world outside of us is not peaceful.
I have progressed over the years. I seem to worry less. I have learned to trust the Lord to see me through hard times.
As my self-control develops, there are less ripples or waves in my atmosphere. My inner strength from God resists the outside pressures.
However there is a lot going on inside. The journey continues. I haven’t arrived. Sometimes smaller things rock my boat harder than the big things. Minor annoyances disturb my soul.
I am determined to continue to pursue peace. The peace that Jesus has bequeathed to me. (John 14:27) This peace is worth fighting for. It is the peace that passes all understanding. Sometimes it requires me to stand against something or someone rather than give in. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy.
It’s even harder when others, that you don’t want to hurt or disappoint, don’t understand your decisions.
Decisions that take all involved in consideration. You can hurt someone more by doing the wrong thing in order to spare their feelings.
The bible says that we need to let peace rule in our hearts like an umpire. Peace decides whether it is in(safe) or out. Colossians 3:15
I am so thankful for Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Being yoked (Matt 11:28-30) with Him and learning His ways are my peace.
He helps me to be good to others and to take care of myself too. This world is too much to bear without Him.
My experiences have taught me to hold my tongue and to keep my emotions in check during times of troubles. Often this brings a blessing, something good that’s unexpected.
This month has required more patience than I can ever remember. I bought a new printer back in July. It never seemed right from the beginning. It steadily got worse until it just would not print.
I called the manufacturer because it was still under warranty. In the last few weeks, I have talked to eight to ten different people and spent at least fifteen hours on the phone. Many calls lasted two to three hours as we tried to figure out what was wrong with the printer. All this during the busiest time of the year. With many parties and get togethers to attend and family issues to deal with, I had been stretched pretty thin.
What became interesting through all of this was my awareness of what was going on inside of me in contrast to the external.
Technicians would thank me for my patience continually. They were completely unaware of the battle that was raging on inside of me. My mind was thinking about where I needed to be and what needed to be done as I rubbed my aching neck from sitting so long in front of the computer.
They didn’t know about all the prayers that I was asking God to help me to be kind and patient.
I talked to people from different countries. I would ask them about the weather and different things. I even witnessed to a guy in the Philippines. I thought about the person on the other end of the phone. They were trying their best to help me. I was in extreme discomfort but it wouldn’t have been right to take it out on them.
I could actually sense an internal metamorphosis going on inside me that words can’t describe. I seemed to be gaining strength mentally and emotionally. I became aware of my soul developing in a more positive way.
The manufacturer ended up sending me a new printer. It was suppose to be an easy set up but it wasn’t. It required another two hour call. Eventually we got it to work but not like I wanted it to. The company did everything it could. To go where I wanted it required me to work with my internet provider. I decided to forfeit this for the time being.
So, what good things came to me as I waited. I got a printer that prints. I learned a lot about my computer and technology. I talked to some interesting people. (I could never do their job. I don’t have the patience for it. I can only imagine the abuse they must have to take from frustrated people.)
The best blessing was realizing how strong I am because I have someone who cares for me and is always with me. The journey is always exciting when God is your tour guide and companion.
Personally, I like wide, open spaces. Sometimes I have dreams where I have to squeeze through unbelievably small places. They are more like nightmares because I’m claustrophobic.
I haven’t had one of these nightmares in a while. Maybe because I’ve been feeling the squeeze in my awakened state and I’m adjusting to it.
The more things I do for others, the less time I have for myself. It often feels like a loss of freedom. I squirm and wiggle like a caterpillar trying to get out of its cocoon pondering what things I can say “no” to.
It is hard to say no because I ask God for a lot and He has blessed me greatly. He asks me for a lot in return. I am to give my life to others with a cheerful heart. The cheerful heart part can be a struggle sometimes.
“Change my heart, Lord,” I pray. I don’t have an issue with giving to those I love, like, or have a lot in common with. It is the people who enter my world that don’t suit me. I can justify in my mind the person that is rude or unkind. But just because I can justify it doesn’t give me an excuse to avoid them. I have found that a person is usually not rude or unkind all of the time. And those that are can be sweeten up with a little kindness.
Then, there are others that I can’t find any justification for how I feel except that maybe they are going to infringe on my freedom. Usually it is someone that is less fortunate than me in some way or another. It is the fear of someone becoming dependent on me. My strong need for freedom makes commitments challenging.
I’m thinking that the path to pure love and respect probably is crooked and narrow as Henry David Thoreau suggests. A narrow path keeps us focused like a horse wearing blinders. If you can’t see the dangers then you are less likely to be spooked. In addition, you won’t see things that are libel to tempt you to wander in the wrong direction. There are many distractions on a broad path which makes it easier to get off course. Being focused fosters excellence. I want to be excellent in caring for others.
The path is likely to be crooked because who can stay on the straight and narrow. Especially when it comes to relationships. We are bound to have our ups and downs. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect.
This blog ,the narrow path,came into being while I was researching something else to write about. My first choice was to write about the golden rule and how it sums up the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12) NIV
Somehow my research led me to the narrow path which follows the previous passage. Ultimately it is all about love.
Christmas time always challenges me. This year has been no exception as my borders greatly increased. I pursued a long time dream of becoming an author. I attended my first writing conference and published my first story. Along the way I’ve made quite a few new friends.
In addition to this dream, I have been seeking God’s heart for my little neck of the world. I have been involved with my church as it works to add an unique third service.
A couple of years ago before all this started, I had a vision or sense that God wanted this expansion. I do my best to follow His lead. It amazes me how many other people have had this same sense and are working to make it happen. It is a huge project in which I am only a small part in.
The growing and stretching of my being moves at a greater speed and intensity. I haven’t really been paying attention until recently. The farther I get on this journey of life, the harder the challenges get and the easier life becomes as I learn more things.
This all began for me in the year 2000 when Bruce Wilkinson published a little book about the Jabez prayer.
The Jabez prayer is hidden in 1 Chronicles, chapter 4 among a list of genealogical who’s who. The prayer goes something like this: “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
I prayed this prayer along with many other believers. Our hope was to attempt something so large that failure would be guaranteed unless God stepped in. After a few months, I forgot about it because nothing seemed to be happening.
As I look back now, I can see where God was working behind the scene.
Christmas is always a busy time. This year has been busier than ever with my new friends and projects.
A calendar keeps track of where and when I need to be. Sometimes I have to decide between two events on the same day and time. I’m required to make more decisions than usual. Priorities have to be considered and constantly adjusted.
This is a rewrite because I lost the first one. Technology has terrorized me lately. Not just with this but in other areas also. The plus side is that it slowed me down.
This season has been a fast ride. Fast rides are fun but they can also be dangerous.
I am thankful for the obstacles that slowed me down. While reflecting on the frustration of losing the first draft, I realized there was a potential regret. My focus in parts faced the wrong direction. Words are powerful. They can lift up or tear down. Someone or something was watching over me.
The journey continues and I have many parties and celebrations to attend. Joy unspeakable awaits me.
My family celebration took place the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day. One granddaughter works retail and lives three hours from her parent’s home so Thanksgiving Day was not going to work for her. In addition she and my daughter had another family to consider besides ours. That’s what happens when you are partnered up with another. You have to figure out when and where you will celebrate with each family.
So Saturday worked for us. I would drive with my mother and brother a couple of hours west. My oldest granddaughter who is in college drove three hours from the southeastern portion of the state and the middle granddaughter traveled three hours from the eastern side of the state. We have become scattered about. At least we reside in the same state within a reasonable distance.
I assumed that we would have steaks because the girls don’t care for the traditional turkey. It is quite common for us to have steak.
This year my daughter and son-in-law decided to have ham and cheesy potatoes. When I mentioned it to my brother, he said, “What no steak! Well I guess I can eat before I go. I don’t like ham and cheesy potatoes.”
I’m thinking, Great. That’s going to be pleasant. Him not eating while the rest of us chow down. What should I do? I didn’t want to burden my daughter with this. She works and has a lot going on.
I asked her if I could bring anything. She said a dessert would be nice. I asked if it would be okay if I brought a small turkey dinner for about four people explaining that her uncle wouldn’t eat her ham and potatoes. She was fine with that and happy that she didn’t have to prepare it.
I also brought Billy, my toy goat that I had recently receive in the mail. Billy, a gift from my oldest granddaughter had caused quite a stir. He was my very first blog. I thought the family might enjoy seeing him in person. I sat him on the floor and one of my grandkitties took an interest in him. But not for long. He sniffed him and moved on.
My youngest granddaughter went in search of one of the other household cats to see what they thought. She took pictures of Charlie and Billy for me. Charlie tolerated him.
My daughter’s home looked absolutely gorgeous. They have been remodeling and have purchased some new things. I noticed the new built in fireplace and furniture first thing.
They got a new dining room set that accented the rest of the house. Her beautiful China from her wedding rested on the counter. I didn’t notice the two-sided cupboards over the counter were gone until I went to get into one for a bowl. It surprised me. I must have let out a squeal because everyone laughed.
It wasn’t the only surprise. My middle granddaughter was surprised when she found out we weren’t having steak. She was a tiny bit disappointed but she was so happy to be with family she didn’t care.
After dinner, my oldest and youngest granddaughters entertained us singing and acting out some musicals. My middle granddaughter can really sing too. She’s just not into musicals.
In addition to the entertainment, games were played. I didn’t participate because I needed to pay attention to mom and my brother.
I wanted to. I miss spending time with my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters.
Since mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer a little over a year ago, my life has changed dramatically. My brother and I are a team taking care of her. I think we do a great job. She is spoiled. The problem is we are nothing alike. The only thing we agree on is taking care of mom.
We have different political views. I’m a believer. He is not. I’m way more social than he is. He has a lot of factual knowledge that he loves to share. I’m usually not interested but do my best to listen. It is hard at times. We get on each other’s nerves and we are forced to spend a lot of time together because of mom. She is too much for either one of us to handle alone.
I am very thankful for all of my family. Do I wish life was a little different? Yes.
I wanted to share my Thanksgiving story because often we see pictures on facebook of families eating wonderful meals together but don’t know any of the details of the day. I love looking at the pictures. Everything looks so perfect. One friend assured me her Thanksgiving was perfect. Mine was nice, however I wouldn’t rate it perfect. There were a few glitches along the way and a bit of sadness.
I say that to say this. If you had a sad day, you are not alone. If you looked at some happy pictures and felt like you were missing out, you don’t know the details of other people’s lives. Life is not perfect. It is a mixture of good and bad. Focus on being thankful for the good things.
One of the things that I am most thankful for is my faith. Sometimes I just wouldn’t be able to get through the day without my constant companion, God. I talk to Him when I wake up, when I lie down at night, and throughout the day.