I Love to Watch You Live

They found their way to our home when our second child was fourteen, the boys next door. They brought with them brown eyed sparkles that told me they were up to something. I liked “something” and welcome them with open heart and a firm hand. Between the brown eyed boys and the crew that emerged from the house on Wood Street, a bond was formed that was palatable. The organic display was one to behold. It was at times hard to watch but you could not look away. They were visible without effort and oftentimes had no awareness of the shadow they cast on others who were looking through key holes wondering how to turn the latch and enter in.

Going away to school, to work, to play, they navigated adulthood. They wrestled, they loved, they lust, they lost. It was tragic; I held my breath. They gathered in a circle and cried each other’s tears, held each other tight, breathed each other’s breath and sweat each other’s fears.

I was honored a year later to have lunch with a few that had gathered to remember and to be. A drive to the coast was in the wind and they all piled in one truck. Fussing and fighting and laughing and music filled the air, they drove off in a flurry. I wanted to call after them, “buckle up, drive safe.”

I caught myself, they had known safe. He was the youngest of the pack. He had gone to school, got his degree, and landed that job he had hoped for. It was his nine to five. Driving home from work that day he would be taken from them. Some how they had made it through the year. I cried and whispered, “I love to watch you live.”

I have had my own wrestling in these years that followed. I have loved and I have lost. I am finding my way and navigating a plan. I started by clearing my mind and now it’s time to make a list. I give way to prayer and ask The Father to help me make it. I heard him gently whisper, “I love to watch you live.”

We Make Cookies

It was a hard day, I was done. Dinner over and the solitude of my bedroom surrounded me with just the right kinda’ cozy. There is a gentle knock and the youngest finds his way to tell me about his day, of trading at school, and his teacher being out sick. With one glance he knows that something is not right. My necklaces are tosseled in a clump on my dressing table. “Your necklaces” he says with a quiet knowing, he begins to gently untangle them. They are a mass of gifted treasures that have become a mess. Much like the compartments of my heart. He gently untangles and lays them neatly side by side, giving each his full attention. Making mention of favorites and asking questions. Each one has a story, I keep most to myself. His favorite is my oldest piece, gifted to me from my own grandmother. There is no need to tell him to be careful, he is using his own initiative to make this right. I am blessed beyond measure.

He settles back in his chair, we have not had much to say. I haven’t told him that my heart is heavy and that I wonder if my mothering is sufficient. He knows nothing of the charges that my eldest son faces or the unpredictable outcome of today’s court case, and yet he looks me straight in the face and says, “Let’s make cookies.

I am smiling now as I watch him. An old soul or one who has been taught well. You see it has been a long standing tradition, we make cookies.

As a child, I would come home a bit fussed up from my day. Mom could tell by the click in my step and the sharpness of my heal. No words between us, she would set out the bowl and the recipe. She had a special plan for days like this, cookies. Not just any cookies, she had a batch that had to be made with your hands. They were rightfully called aggression cookies. We first had to go to the sink and wash and scrub off the day. A big batch with gooey hands and little correction. I knew if I did well, they came out delightful. If I was too mad and sassy, I would put to much of this, and not enough of that, and I would have a mess. She would gently remind me. Pay attention.

I am sitting now by the wood stove in my kitchen. I am drinking tea and my heart is happy. The gentle reminder of my mother’s voice, “Pay attention. Do not let the troubles of today cause too much of this and not enough of that, you are not a mess.”

The Edge of Giving Up

The day he looked me in the eye and his spirit asked me to love him forever, my world was changed. I will not be complacent to the abandonment of children. I will not turn my heart from the hard things in my path, but seek the comfort of knowing I am enough. He deceived me, stole from me things that can not be replaced, told the officer he did not know me. Changed his name and has not looked back. I once called you son.

My heart feels too heavy to carry and grief covers me like a well worn blanket. I am aware that my words and thoughts hold captive my tomorrows. I have nothing to do in his coming and going, but I hold the door open to walking out my belief. There is a way a truth and life but it is not in me. My son must find his own way.

I quickly give my anger over to forgiveness. This is truth and I will declare restoration. I don’t understand when, where or how. Isn’t that the way with faith. If we could make the list, and launch the project then it is within my grasp, and faith is not needed.

I went to the water, I sat and listened to the rushing and the wind. I am little and I know it. This will pass with the hands of time. I question my place and the things that I have known. The answers have not yet come. I am here, on the light side of darkness, at the edge of giving up.

Eye’s To See

She has a story, and I do tell. Her name is Sky Kitty.

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A kitty without a name was abandoned at a home on the reservation. She was scrapping for food and found her way to the arms of a 4 year old girl. The girl was only visiting, just passing through. Miss Sky Kitty draped herself about the young girls arms and found a warm embrace that took her too a mountain home. Sky was only a kitten herself but much to the young girls delight, soon this young cat brought kitties of her own, from the barn to the garage. They were welcomed into a cozy box and Sky Kitty came and went through an open window. She was gentle as could be but enjoyed her hunting and the freedom to roam. One day she left the comfort of her box and never returned. The young girl learned of life’s lessons in the mountains and settled in to tend to the babies. Finding homes and settling on one to call her own. Time has passed and things have changed in the mountain home. The young girl is now 9 and she and her family have taken on an adventure in a home just up the hill. It’s a family home but no one has lived there for many years. It will take time, attention and hard work but the home will be restored.

It’s summer time and the young girl is living in the house, no longer abandoned. Her family is “camped out” on site as there is potential and the house is coming alive. Music and laughter and food and new memories are being made. Restoration is hard work and takes courage and an eye to see the potential that lies beyond the raccoon intruded, bat inhabited, storage of stuff and heirloom cluttered upper house.

The raccoons have been live trapped and relocated, the bats are busy doing what bats do and the family tired from hard work and elbow grease, are about the business of homemaking. A sound is heard from under the house as children are playing. One child adventures under the house to see what she could see. Thankfully it was not a raccoon. It was Sky Kitty!

She has a rumpled tail and age has been kind to her. She has been living on her own just up the hill for over five years. This mountain home is up in the wilds where life is not gentle. There is snow and rain and weather. She has lived her life on her own terms and comes to the children with her whole heart in tact. Kindness and affection have not been lost in the years.

I tell you her story not out of love for cats. But ask that you walk this path of understanding of the human kind, as you are likely cheering for this fur baby and wish her eyes could tell her survival story. The things that she has figured out in her time of solitude. Gifts that her understanding could give to the women I have known who walk alone. The ones who carried babies that they can not raise. Who found motherhood before they were ready. Who have scrapped for their food and stood up to the bandits in their path of understanding. Like the bands of raccoons that took what was not theirs and left a mess in their path. Let the strength that sometimes causes solitude and self preservation be looked at with eyes to see. Let us not judge the gift or the giver that might look a bit crumple at the tail. Sky Kitty is a delight.

May we all have eyes to see.🐾

Milk Toast

PC: Cheebo Frazier

If you’ve had it, you know it, Milk Toast. Some might think it’s comfort food. I have never found comfort in a piece of bread floating in milk.

“…because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I shall spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16

I have known this passage for sometime. I have scratched my head and turned around on it. Did you ever look at it straight on and think, “If I’m not on fire for God, it’s better to be all the way off. If I can’t measure up, I might as well not try at all.”

I have a new view of hot and cold. Hot cooks, purifies and makes change. Cold refreshes, keeps and slows growth. The balance of the two give life. A flower bulb must lay dormant in the cold dark earth before kissed by the sun it begins to grow and bloom.

I see “lukewarm” as a neither in or out mentality. I see it as stagnant water going no where. To be lukewarm is to be complacent.

There is no complacency in God.

So let me say this to you, be about something. You were fashioned for a purpose. Get up, Show up and, Go for it!

Please leave me a comment about what lights you up.

Working Mom

I had my time of being a stay at home parent. It was brief and full of adventures. I have worked from the time I was 12 years old at one thing or another. A domestic goddess I am not.

Seven years ago our life took quiet a turn and my husband became a stay at home dad with five children to juggle. How nice for him that he didn’t tackle this task while attending full time employment. It was gratifying to say the least. We are so different in our approach but hold firm to common beliefs. I took my hands off and allowed him his own way. It has been amazing to watch the bond not only with the fabulous five, but with the community as they adjust to this man. He walks holding the youngest hand to school while he also rescues another from the misunderstanding and chaos of Jr. High. He tends them well and I jump in to give him this one time of year all to himself. Hunting Season. They watch with uncertainty as I most assuredly can not fill his shoes. He has a routine down as as dependable as the sun and the moon. He knows their times, their favorites and all that holds them together. I am the wind in the willows for sure.

I hold a few specialties up my sleeve. Pancakes for dinner, I have my own recipe. One plateful then seconds and then they come back for more. They are almost a crepe made with extra eggs, a dash of nutmeg and a few capfuls of vanilla. Filling the house with the smell of love and assurance.

Papa Bear will be home soon. Momma Bear has just settled in for dinner and a just right cup off coffee. Strong and with just a dash of cream. It will take me into the night, you see my work is not done. I still have a grant to write.

Finding Courage

It had been a busy work week come to an end. Travel is a delight for me but a full work schedule takes its toll and leaves me struggling. I have returned to work after a most challenging year. I have a travel companion because I have become differently abled, handicapped, lame, crippled. Undone!

I took myself to the conference center lounging pool. First step in and I noticed a drowning honey bee. Without thought or concern, I scooped it up. Endangered and highly protected in my own backyard, I had no thought that it would recover. Soggy and struggling it looked hopeless. I held it in my hand and calmly asked it to know I meant no harm, and please don’t sting me. An incredible thing happened. The bee started sucking water out of the palm of my hand. It felt like bee kisses. It tickled, it was delightful, I giggled. The bee found it’s way to the side of my hand and fluffed and groomed itself. I watched in amazement as it recovered from it’s drowning. Much to my surprise a robust bee buzzed in from afar and circled several times. I thought it might see me as the offender and I was up for the sting. It circled and circled again. Finally flinging itself into the pool drain. Much to my surprise the bee in my hand lifted, fluttered and took off. I stood knee high in the lounging pool wondering what I was waiting for. I could throw myself into the depths or I could take courage, drink my fill and find my wings.

The Dawning

Awakened this morning in the peaceful footprint of my mother. I watched the dawning of the day, the eves are dripping from the rainy weather. The birds are bustling about as they are delighted with the new day and the refreshing.

I am allowing the creator to “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit with in me” Psalms 51:10

Announcing the Birth of Bette Lee

A baby girl was born to Irene and Lee Stapp this beautiful fall morning, October 8, 1939. Bette Lee is welcomed by her grandparents, Edward and Francis Curtis and Guy and Josephine Stapp, Aunt Nelda and Uncle Albert Stapp, and Aunt Elsie and Uncle Ken Dale. She will be the first-born in a close-knit extended family. She will come to have two sisters, Janice Irene and Arvada Carol (Dee), and many cousins including Sharon, Sandra and Shirlee Stapp and Keith Dale.

Bette Lee will take her first steps on the hills of Petrolia and later move to the families ranch in Hetten Valley. The ranch house is one that was built by her great grandparents and will stand as a reminder of years gone by, some good and some good and hard.

Bette Lee will attend a one room school-house in Hetten Valley. Her first teacher will be Hazel Willburn. Hazel will greatly impact Bette’s love of learning and will make a way for her to pursue her education even into her adult years. She will introduce her to literature and with a turn of the page, the world will be hers.

Bette Lee will leave home at age thirteen to attend high school in Red Bluff. Her home only offered school through the eighth grade. She will complete her high school education at Fortuna High School and graduate with a full scholarship to Humboldt State University.

She will meet her husband, John L Elgin at a Ruth dance in the summer of…oh I don’t know the year, but they loved to dance. They will build a home together and make many memories with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come. Bette Lee and John L will have four children, Tracy Lee, Maxine Renee, Monica Norene and John Charles. They will share their home with many other children throughout the years. Those children will be “children of the heart” and will love her as a mother and she will tend to them as her own.

Bette Lee will have many talents as she will determine at an early age to be “more than just a pretty face.” She will teach herself to play the piano, she will enjoy drawing and painting. Her early years she will make paper dolls and dress them out of the Sears catalogue. This will lead to her interest in sewing clothes and will later serve as a gift to her children. When times are hard she will dig deep and let her imagination guide her. Shopping at the local thrift store for large clothing made of good cloth, she will make her daughters matching dresses and they will never know they were poor. Her sons will have western shirts made just right to fit and they will become a time-honored tradition.

There will be as many good times as bad time and Bette Lee will instill the love of life to her children. She will take an ordinary day and turn it into an extraordinary adventure. One such day will be in Trinidad on a foggy winter afternoon. She will long for her mountain home and the fun of playing in snow.  On such a day, she will let her imagination play and soon she and her children will be crumpling paper and having an all out “snowball fight” laughter and giggling and papers tossed about. Her imagination and mindset will serve her well in raising her flock. There will be giant spider webs taking up the entire living room using a ball of yarn, there will be adventures of camping and swimming and road trips accross country. She will teach them how to live and let live, she will teach them how to go and to let go. But most of all she will teach them that they are valued and a part of something greater in this world.

Bette Lee will struggle and she will find her way. She will seek and she will find her feet on a solid foundation of Christ the redeemer. She will go back to school as an adult and get a doctorates degree in theology.  She will establish Solid Rock Foundation Ministry, Hetten Valley Church, Bethany Garden Home and The Olive Branch Thrift Store. These ministries will fulfill her call to tend the sheep, to make a place in the wilderness for the lost and the abandoned. She will be adored by many and rejected by some. She will love them anyway.

She will live her life by design of The Creator and on November 26, 2017, He will take her home. She will leave, just as she has lived, in her own way and without hesitation.

(My Mom; this is the eulogy I could not write. May I now, once again, find my voice.)