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.”
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.”
via The Foundation
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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
I have had enough of myself and my room. I have found with a good attitude and the right pair of shoes you can change your surroundings, and I did.
Today I awakened to a foggy morning and a foggy mind. We, my doctor and I, are trying something new in the line of medications. My knee surgery and challenging recovery are complicated. I had a t-shirt made in high school and wore it proudly with rainbow suspenders, declaring “UNIQUE” across my chest. I didn’t know it then, but now I am fully assured, I didn’t need it in writing. Just ask brother.
So, this is a side note: If you need the t-shirt that says “messy hair, don’t care” You probably do!
I had surgery on January 6, 2018. The two-part surgery on the meniscus and tendon were unremarkable and a basic walk in the park for my well established doctor. What he found on the Femur, Tibia, Fibula and behind the Patella have him very concerned and frankly, shaking his head.
I injured my knee playing basketball in 1980. Yes, that was a very long time ago. I hyper-extended it in a basketball game. I was posted up under the basket rebounding and a girl came down on my knee and it bent backwards. It was wrapped and I finished out the basketball season and had surgery at the end of my senior year. The meniscus was trimmed, the knee cap shaved and realigned. My doctor for that surgery was tragically killed in an accident and I did not have a follow-up appointment on the knee and furthermore, I was out hiking on crutches and took a fall. All this has been tucked away for over 37 years and while walking along on a side-walk, it just collapsed.
The doctor explained to me what he found. Our bones have a film on them where they come together and are joined with cartridge to form a joint. Mine had formed a protective pocket at each bone as it formed the knee. Those protective pockets were full of ground bone and cartilage and blood. He has no idea how long it had been that way and even greater questions of how I could even walk. The wear and tear on the bone is critical and the deterioration significant. He cleared it all away and my body has rejected the change. My mind has compensated for so many years suppressing and dissociating with the issue, that it will not give my recovering knee the proper signals.
Now the hard work begins. I have started taking a medication for nerve receptors. I took it for the first time last night and the nervous system currents to my legs were alarming. A few hours later I was completely exhausted and had a hard time waking up at 8:00. I start physical therapy next week to cause reaction. My concern is that I have to convince my mind to pay attention and acknowledge the pain so it will cooperate with sending it healing. Now hear me this…It sounds to me like it has to hurt to heal and I am trying to get my head in this game. I have blocked, put aside, and rightly ignored pain and trauma for over 50 years and I’m not sure I want to teach myself this new trick.
My Grands are on their way tonight. My own young children are a sight to see. They make my world go round and I would like to keep up, if only to watch them shine. I will be attending a memorial luncheon for a dear one who lived to her 90’s tomorrow. The examples before me tell me to dig deep and get this done.
I have adjusted my courage, found the right pair of shoes and I have work to do.
I started this blog to honor the unconditional love of my dog. “To live out loud in his honor. Unconditional, Encouraging, Challenging and Exploring Ideas”
I know I am not alone in physical pain or frustrating health issues. I am extending these words to you , not for your sympathy. I think we are more alike than different. cue the music… reach out a hand, ask for help and receive others. When someone asks what they can do, give them a true answer. Living a connected life with giving and taking in balance, brings healing to more than the broken bones of this world. It heals loneliness and hopelessness.
Please share with me your stories of connecting with others. When you were at a hard spot in the road, what did someone do to turn it around. Lets give each other ideas. Sometimes it’s the simplest of gestures. Today a stranger encouraged me by carrying some papers to my car. I could have done it, I started to say, “No, thank you.” It wasn’t a difficult task and only took a moment of his time. Why would I rob him of that reward? A person standing near noticed and nodded his head. See, connections. We are selfish in our pursuit of independence.
Today I tied on my just right shoes and went out into this small town I call home. I trusted it with my frailty and I was not disappointed.