Posted in Moving Moments, Personal Observations

Abundant Sunshine

Abundant Sunshine

That was the forecast when I woke up this morning. When I stumbled into the bathroom, I looked outside at the very thick fog soup. Dreary weather was not needed today. Or any day for that matter. In the kitchen a few minutes later, I made coffee and fixed Mom’s the way she likes it, 60% coffee 40% cream. “It looks awful outside. All that fog and cold,” she said. I told her the forecast was for abundant sunshine. Looking at me skeptically she commented, “Well, it better get a move on!”

In nine days, it will be Easter. If there ever was a day of abundant sunshine it was that day when Jesus rose from the grave, having defeated sin and death. Before that happened, the world was locked in an endless, dank fog, unable to find their way out of it. Unbeknownst to them, the resurrection was coming that would change the course of history and make a permanent sun-bright pathway to eternal life, should they choose that road.

As I sit at the desk writing this, the fog of the morning has burnt off revealing the most warm and wonderful sunshine, just as was forecast. If you are experiencing gloom today, my friend, let me reassure you that it will not last forever. Your feelings may say otherwise but they are mistaken. Deliverance is coming, as sure as the sun will rise and destroy the darkness. Hold on.

Posted in Personal Observations, Uncategorized

The Gratefulness of a Dog

We have a lovely rescue dog named Sandy who we adopted last Mother’s Day. She is an immigrant from Tijuana, Mexico. We don’t know a lot about her except:

  • She is terrified of loud noises. The second day we had her a broom fell over making a loud pop. Sandy immediately ran outside and hid under a bush. Bushes turned out to be her safe place. It took us a month or so to figure this out. There was much house searching before that.
  • She pretty much hates sweets and carbs. Exceptions will be made for pork rinds. My mom loves to sneak Sandy food. If it is any form of bread, we will find it hidden under a couch or behind the piano. I think Sandy doesn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings and hides these things rather than directly refuse them. The exception being if Mom gives her sweets, the dog will take it and give it to my dad as if to say, “Hey, I’m trying to watch my figure, but Mom keeps giving me sweets!”

Sandy is the most honest dog we have ever owned. She doesn’t sneak around, if she finds socks on the floor she will give them to Dad. Every other dog we’ve had destroyed socks, ate the sweets and bread, and behaved, well, like a dog. Being half corgi and half golden retriever, she loves nothing more than herding us. Everyone gets a personal Sandy escort from room to room. Once you are at your destination, she will go back to whatever she was doing.

We all think that Sandy’s life was so hard before we got her that she just wants to be loved and is unwilling to do anything to jeopardize the wonderful home she is in now. There are days where her gratefulness puts me to shame. I’m not nearly as aware of the blessings I have around me: family, friends, God. I am working on being more aware of the good things that are in my life and not take them for granted. I owe it all to Sandy.

Posted in Pandemic

Kitchen Table Conversations

It’s early morning. I get out of bed to go to the bathroom, peeking out my bedroom door to see who is still asleep. Mom is sitting outside her bedroom door, dressed.

“Hi Mom. What ‘cha doing?”

“I’m waiting to go downstairs. They went to the store.”

“Who went to the store? Who’s they?”

“My husband.”

“Okay. Give me a minute and I’ll help you.”

I wake my husband and explain Mom wants to go downstairs. Ever since she missed the second stair at the bottom and fell, breaking her wrist, she is afraid to go down alone. Understandably. To get down she holds on to someone’s shoulder. I’d be no help if she loses her balance, so Harold helps her down the stairs and settles her at the kitchen table. I start the coffee as he goes back to bed.

Mom is very fretful right now, like most of us. She has dementia so every time she hears the news about COVID-19 is like the first time. Try as she might to absorb and retain what the news says, it just flies out of her mind. Last night we ordered Chinese. Harold went to pick it up and Mom spun into fearful prayers. When he got home she asked, “Did they wash their hands? Is this bag clean?”

This morning she voices her fear that people will be fighting in the aisles of the grocery store.

“No, Mom. Dad went early for the senior citizen shopping hour. I don’t think any of them have the energy to beat each other up. It’s okay.”

“You never know about people. They surprise you.”

Indeed they do. The door opens and our dog Sandy comes bouncing in followed by Dad.  I ask how shopping went.

“We stood in line for 15 minutes before the store opened. There still isn’t any paper goods. I wanted to make baked beans, but they were out of beans. I got lemons, butter, and squash. Oh, and ketchup and mayo. That’s it.”

Our grocery runs are surreal. We never know what items we will come back with from the list. When I came back from Wal-Mart the other day I was thrilled to have acquired our favorite bread, but I was only allowed one loaf. The farmer markets are considered an essential service in California so tomorrow we will hopefully have beautiful flowers, broccoli, fresh empanadas and sage honey to enjoy.

I awake in the middle of the night vibrating with anxiety. Mom’s days are filled with the same anxieties over and over anew. The whole world grapples with a cruel viral enemy. Yet as a people who believe in the saving power of Christ Jesus, we can agree with Charles Spurgeon who said:

Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow.

Posted in Personal Observations

Hello to the New Normal (Temporarily)

I think we can all acknowledge that the last 30 days have been like a very badly written B movie. A virus? So what? There is always something running around making people sick. We were a little slow to grasp the meanness and fast-moving ways of Covid-19.

As of 6pm last night, all Californians have been ordered to shelter in place for 30 days. My friend Patty, who lives in Missouri, texted me at 9pm and asked how I was taking this news. I was in shock. I had just adjusted to the 14-day lock down, but 30 was nuts.

Here is a snapshot of my days since my retirement several years ago due to fibromyalgia. I don’t really go anywhere except medical, nail, and massage appointments. I am in some level of bad pain all.the.time. I make the occasional trip to the store or out to eat. Mostly I am home. Which I have adjusted to.

My current problem: I now feel pressured to be productive as I sit at home. There are all sorts of articles with lists and lists of things one can do to remain active and happy. Declutter your garage! Teach your 7 year old how to balance a checkbook. Get that garden ready for spring. Read. Watch everything on your movie list. All this activity will carry you about two weeks max and then what do you do?

When you are living with a constant sense of the unknown it is natural to unravel a bit. Cabin fever sets in, crankiness and selfishness become housemates. You must fight to be calm and at peace. If you lived through 9/11 you know these feelings well. Everything changed, just like it is with Covid-19. The world will never be the same. It just won’t.

As a Christian, the Bible has taught me that it is a good thing to have my faith stretched and tested. It also promises that if I place my trust in my all loving Father God, I will be fine. There is one thing I learned about being fine. My version and God’s version can be different.

Thirteen years ago, my son Evan had gone through several hip surgeries in one year. He ended up with a life-threatening staph infection and had to be life flighted from our little, rural town to a big city over 3 car hours away. The doctor warned us he might not live long enough to get help. All we could do was get in the car, with friends following us, pray and drive like heck.

Halfway there, my husband told me that he felt that Ev would make it, that he would be fine. My reply? “God’s fine and our fine are sometimes two different things.” This was a true statement. My son, who has Down Syndrome, might die and go to heaven, finally to be without the painful limitations he lives with on earth. Or, as it happened, make a full recovery that was SO fast the medical people were shocked.

No matter what happens in the following days, let’s not frantically zoom through the days. There are lessons to be learned, and love to be shown to each other. Even in the face of disaster, miracles can be found.

Posted in Personal Observations

7 Things I Don’t Miss and 6 I Do

We just got back from our week-long vacation. Did we go to an exotic location? Why yes we did! The wilds of Northeast Missouri. It was wonderful to catch up with our many friends and be part of an amazing wedding. Here are some of my parting thoughts as we flew back to the Central Valley.

 

I don’t miss:

1. Driving painfully slow behind some kind of large farm equipment.

2. Watching local news story about reporter driving large farm equipment for the first time. (It was on last night’s news)

3. Winter although this winter has pretty much been a piece of cake.

4. Ice skating on sidewalks.

5. Only having 3 grocery stores to choose from. There were 5 when we moved here 20 years ago.

6. Lack of dining options, especially when it comes to ethnic foods.

7. Dodging deer on the road.

Things I Do Miss

1. The lack of traffic at rush hour or any hour really. Except during fair week.

2. Experiencing the true four seasons in a year. As much as I hated the cold and the humidity, the change of seasons was always been amazing.

3. Catching up with friends at Wal-Mart. There’s been lots of great impromptu conversations in those aisles.

4. The bunny family that lived under our deck for a dozen years or so. It was always so much fun to see the new batch of babies as they learned how to fend in their bunny world.

5. Having the UPS guy ask if I wanted the package he has for me dropped off at home or work.

6. Discounted medical care from my many doctor friends who made being uninsured much more manageable.

 

 

A Visit With Author Kathy Nickerson

K Nickerson 1Yesterday I reviewed Kathy’s new book, Thirty Days to Glory. Thanks to technology, I got to ask Kathy Nickerson, author of Thirty Days to Glory, some questions about life and writing.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? If so, what was it about? 

Yes! I was in high school and already planning my career as a happy wife and mother of ten children. That summer I went to an auction and tried to buy a set of china for my hope chest. An antique dealer squashed my babysitting-money-bid first thing. So, my first attempt at a novel was based around that event – with a completely different outcome! (I got the china, the boy, and a home in the Rocky Mountains.)

Every writer has their own personal timeline in which they develop their skills. What was your journey from writing as an educational exercise to writing as a passion? 

My journey was long, but wonderful. I basically spent twenty years enjoying writing as a hobby. I studied, practiced, and puttered. I even had several articles published. Then, one day I woke up and thought: You better do this before you get too old to remember the stories. So, I took an online course in writing fiction, and I got busy.

We’ve known each other for about a quarter of a century. I’ve watched you go through highs and lows in your writing journey. Tell us how you have learned to deal with the rejection every writer faces. 

At my first writer’s conference in the 1980’s, an editor from Tyndale House told me, “The words on the page are not your flesh and blood. They are just ink.” I’ve tried to remember that when someone says, “No thanks” or “Revise” or “What the heck are you trying to say here?”

What are your 3 favorite books and why? 

Hmmm. That is a tough one, but here are three of my favorite novels: A Tale of Two Cities. I love unraveling the language in those long, complicated sentences. It is almost like a puzzle. And the ending is just so beautiful and heart-rending. I think you have to really believe in redemption and in Heaven to enjoy it, though.

Heidi – I know this is a children’s book, but the story of family and relationships crosses all ages. Once again, redemption plays a major role.

The Help – A modern favorite. The first time I read this, I felt I was literally sitting in the kitchen with Abilene, Skeeter, and Minnie during the scene where violence breaks out. I caught myself holding my breath. This one wins for good writing, good story, and a topic that made me think. And pray.

Who are your 3 favorite writers and why? 

Serenity Bohon, Felicity White, and Charity Long. Is that cheating since they happen to be my daughters? I also enjoy a little Charles Dickens and some Jane Austen. I am a big fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

Are there new books in the works? Are you still submitting articles to periodicals? 

Yes, to the books and the articles. Characters from the next book have been talking to me. They seem eager to get on with their story. And some other novels are waiting their turn. I also plan to submit more articles this year while Thirty Days to Glory is floating around in the world.

Is there a message you would like your readers to take away after reading Thirty Days to Glory? 

Prayer works. Relationships matter. We are never too old or too lost to make a change or make a difference.

Thanks, Kathy, for answering all our questions.

With Christmas just around the corner, Thirty Days to Glory is the perfect present filled with hope and joy. You can purchase it at Amazon and CrossRiver Media.