Footprints and Sand and Friendship and Restless Emptiness


Ever have those days (or nights) when your soul just seems to be crying out for more?  You aren’t exactly sure what is going on inside, but you know there’s something deeper going on…you pray, you dig, you try to wipe away the cobwebs of your mind and inner being…but you just know you can’t sleep…tears run freely and you are sad but you aren’t…you are happy but you aren’t…your soul is …searching.

Allen and I had the wonderful privilege of a few days off in Myrtle Beach this past weekend through Tuesday.  I think this may have started it.  I had the “week from hell” at work just before we went.  Things are extremely busy.  No one is happy in their job.  Everyone is finding fault and blaming and there are many smiles and surface conversations…but no true friendship…no meeting of the souls.

We met friends there.  In Myrtle Beach.  They are from Vermont.  We were from Vermont.  We used to call each other up, go to dinner, tour cheese factories, go sailing, go boondocking, share moments.  This past weekend was a re-entering into that friendship that seemed to be put on hold when we left Vermont for North Carolina to find work and be near children.  As we walked down the beach …step, slide, step, slide…our footprints left dents soon filled in by water and sand…we passed there, but only moments later you could not tell it.  In many ways I feel that way about life.  I am so grateful that I am on this side of the inner turmoil of even a year or two ago…but there are still many questions.  Life is so friend-less now.  We have people here who love us and enjoy time with us…but we have no one who seeks to be with us like Brett and Amy did.  In many of our new homes I would pray for friendship….should you have to do that?  Shouldn’t people want to be your friend?  Life is lonely on this side …

At work I watch as other ladies go to lunch together…or go shopping or antiquing…I’ve always been on this side of it…watching.  I always thought it was me.  There must be something wrong with me.  I’ve been to counseling this year…I’m learning that it’s not me.  I am a good person.  I love people.  I am pleasant and good company.  But I think sometimes people don’t know what to do with me.  I don’t crab a lot (just to Allen…poor man) so when they crab to me I am silent.  Not because I don’t expect them to crab…but because rarely does crabbing help and I often don’t know what to say.  I’m not a good empathizer, I think.  I need to say, “I’m sorry you are having a rough day.  I understand.  I’m here for you.”  But I don’t.  So maybe my silence is misconstrued as judgment…maybe I come off as too good to be true.

My friend crabbed to me this weekend and ended with “Okay, I’m done venting.”  I did tell her it was okay to vent to me.  Sometimes we just need to vent.  Often I don’t feel I have anyone to vent to…except Allen…again poor man.  I wonder sometimes if he thinks I don’t like any of life.  I do.  I loved loved loved this weekend.  I should have been rich.  We talked about that.  What happened?  (smile)  I love being busy at work when no one else is around.  I love doing a good job in my work even though I could care less if another cleanroom wiper were manufactured or sold when all is said and done for the day.

I love my garden.  I love my roses and flowers.  I love my children and grandchildren.  I love love my church at The Summit.  I love counseling.  I love Jesus…my Savior, my God, my best friend Who loves me in spite of me and because of Who He is.

So see, soul….we have a lot to be thankful for.  Don’t be in turmoil.  Even if your footprints on this earth never amount to much…Jesus’ footprints did and have meant everything in your life.  Friends like Brett and Amy have meant the world to you.  Your children and grandchildren continue to speak to you even though you desire for more of them.  You have had some wonderful times with each of them…they have given in to your growth and abundance over the years…the tender times…the hoopla times of rowdy abandon…the quiet times…the dancing in the kitchen times.  Even if you never have another time like those…you have had a lifetime of memories with each one to fill you in the dark recesses of you and get you through those nights of no sleep and restlessness.

Yes, that’s it…it is a restlessness of my soul tonight.  There must be more.  There must be friendships out there like we had this weekend…somewhere….someone to speak life into us…someone to speak life into.

Be still my soul and trust in God.The Lord is on our side.  He will prevail.  He will not let you be consumed with this life…but will fill you and give you purpose and strengthen and give you peace.

Dani’s Flip Flops


Amazing patterns

Originally posted on Handmade By Dani:

© Handmade by Dani

Hook 4.00 Yarn PANDA acrylic 8ply
Changes in yarn and hook will result in changes in pattern size.
st – Stitch
slst – Slip Stitch
ch – Chain
sc – Single Crochet
hdc – Half Double Crochet
dc – Double Crochet
rnd – Round
Sole is worked in the round without turning.

Rnd 1
Ch 11. Sc in 2
link from hook. Sc in same link then in the next 4 link. Hdc 1 link, Dc in next 3
links. Make 4 dc in last link, turn and dc in next 3 link. 1 Hdc in next link, 1 sc in next 4 link. 2 sc
in last link. Join with slst.
Rnd 2
Ch 2. 2 hdc in next st. 1 hdc in next 8 st. 2 hdc in next 4 st, 1 hdc in next 8 st, 2 hdc in next…

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The Mother-In-Law


All my life I’ve heard horror stories of mothers-in-law.  Controlling…butting in…you know the jokes…the comments.  I prayed I would be a good mother-in-law all those years ago into my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I’m seeing another side of this phenomenon on this side…the downward slope of the hill of life.

I see a woman who’s unsure of herself and where she stands anymore.  I see someone who has literally poured her life into that son or daughter only to watch someone misuse or not provide or control or expect too much of him or her.  She remembers the hours of loving devotion she has lavished on her little one (who will always be little to her), the long nights up cuddling a fevered brow, rocking an inconsolable soul, holding up a frail little body while they lost their cookies for the umpteenth time into the commode.  She remembers the tickles under the covers every morning, the squeals of laughter, the tears of disappointment she wiped away.  She remembers the hard teen years of helping them navigate life and just make it through…the hours of wondering where he or she was, the worried early morning hours spent wide-eyed praying for their wisdom and purity, their decisions and preservation of their soul.

I don’t think anyone truly understands the mother’s heart…maybe not even other mothers since we are all so different.  That moment when you give your child away is wrenching…it’s other-worldly, cataclysmic, life defining.  It’s usually the father who “gives away” a daughter, but I venture to say it’s really the mother who couldn’t do it…sitting there alone in that pew…wondering if life will be good to her child, wondering if this person standing before them with the son or daughter is actually who they say they are …or if they are someone totally different.  Are you sure who this person is you are opening up yourself and your child to?  Are they truly good willed?  Can you know as you are sitting there in that pew watching the ceremony…the vows to love no matter what, to honor no matter what, to be there in sickness and in health, in the good and the bad?  I don’t think you can.  I look at all mother’s differently now.  I know it’s not vogue to be called a “mother” and yet I think it is the highest calling to create and nurture a life in this life.  And maybe part of that is the “giving away”…the emptiness…the not having a place anymore.  Those sweet little child kisses on your cheek, the strong lithe arms hugging the life out of you when you are young, the high pitched promises to marry you and buy a farm and always live with you, the adoring love in shining eyes, the shared laughter unencumbered by years of uncertainty in where you fit in…those are what she is holding on to.  The mother-in-law.  She’s remembering.  She’s wanting time.  She’s needing reassurance that she matters.  She’s wanting recognition for her part in preparing the child for someone else.  Try to understand she’s now navigating new waters and it may take awhile….or forever…to find her place.

Hebrews 13:4-6

Hebrews 13:4-6 says “4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”

The writer of Hebrews continues his letter to Hebrew Christians with last minute instructions.  These are bullet points he wants to leave with them kind of like the talk someone gives to their children and grandchildren when they are going to die soon.  Not that the writer was going to die, but Christ’s coming was imminent and he wanted to leave them in as good a position as he could.  He was probably uncertain as to when or if he would have the opportunity to exhort and encourage them in their walk so he was leaving the most important things to them as he wrapped up his letter.

Marriage should be honored by all – this is not something we see in our society much anymore.  People “test drive” their mates like buying used automobiles.  Jokes and cutting remarks are everywhere.  When you meet someone who honors marriage you know it.  They are open and appreciative of those who have stuck with each other over the years.  Sometimes we skip over this part of the instruction to get to the next part that deals with sexual sin.  But marriage is more than sex.  It is a one-ness that should be honored and celebrated.

The Complete Jewish Bible says, “Marriage is honorable in every respect; and, in particular, sex within marriage is pure. But God will indeed punish fornicators and adulterers.”  There is the word “and” here…marriage is honorable in every respect … one thought….and in particular, sex within marriage is pure.  Or in the NIV “and the marriage bed kept pure, “…other translations say “undefiled.”

I looked up the word defile. It means to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute, taint, debase, violate the chastity of, desecrate, sully.” Think of all the ways this can be done.  Look around you.  Watch people.  This is done everyday…in work places, in churches, in groups and organizations, in friendships….if not physically acted out…it is done emotionally.  It’s so easy to allow ourselves friendships with the opposite sex which come pretty close to defiling our relationship with our spouse.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  The writer in Hebrews is concerned that in their weakened state of their spiritual hearts … in the persecution they are a part of that they will find solace in someone else’s arms….someone else besides their spouse.  

The next part of this is a warning. “for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Often we think these two things are one and the same.

An adulterer is someone who is married and involves themselves in extramarital affairs.

The sexually immoral are those who take part in sexual activity outside of marriage.  This includes pornography, homosexual relationships and a host of other sexual sins one can be a part of outside of marriage.

The writer is covering all bases…inside and outside of marriage…any sexual relationship not sanctioned by God…God will judge.

It was suggested in one website I read that the Hebrews were in a culture where there were two schools of thought.  One was that it was expected that a man have a mistress or two on the side because marriage was too restrictive.  The other was that marriage was not restrictive enough…that you needed to deny yourself in order to be spiritual.  Both were wrong.  Our culture believes that you “can’t” be faithful and that “everyone” is either unfaithful or sexually active outside of marriage.  Thankfully, this isn’t true.

But let’s remember the warning God gives the Hebrews and us through these verses.  We must align ourselves with God’s thoughts on marriage and the marriage bed as being pure and holy.

Verse 5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

In trying to see this from the Hebrews point of view…I believe we need to go back to what they were dealing with in their world.  They were being persecuted for their faith…this included not being allowed to buy and sell like they used to when they were following Jewish Law.  Their income capacity had changed.  The writer is reminding them here that God will never leave nor forsake them.  He is their provider.  He is reminding them to be content with what God has provided.

I need this reminder often.  Our world values more and more things and bigger homes and more stuff and better things and better stuff.  Living simply in our day and age is not looked well upon.  I love my home.  It’s a two bedroom apartment that meets our needs.  Yes, it’s cluttered because there is very little closet space for the “things” we need, but it’s ours provided by a loving Heavenly Father for His children.  I can be content in that or I can kick at the goads.  It is my opinion, that some of the Hebrews were probably kicking at the goads.  I’m sure they had much less than any of us here have tonight, yet the writer believed they could be content and remember that God had their backs and that He was providing and He would

never leave nor forsake them. Dr. Greer says the word never here means “Never, never, never, never, never, never.”  I need that.  When I go into work everyday and I feel like I am alone…that I am once again in Jr. High with everyone around me gossiping and making life unlivable….I need to hear that my God will never, never, never, never, never leave me.

Verse 6 says, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”

Again, another reminder to the Hebrews that what they are going through is temporary.  What is the worst the world can throw at them?  Death?  But that means Eternal Life.  So even in death…the world’s worst for us…God has our best waiting for us.  He is faithful.  The writer is reminding the Hebrews and through them us that God is faithful.  He will see us through.  We can be content…we can know that He will never leave us and we do not need to be afraid.  We can live confidently.  Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Helper in John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,to be with you forever,”  And best of all our helper, the Holy Spirit, lives inside of us living out His life through us…we don’t have to do a thing…just let Him life through us.  

O Christmas Tree

Christmas 2015For some inexplicable reason I love my Christmas tree.  Every year we traipse out somewhat close to my birthday (December 9th) to find the perfect one.  We walk around dozens of trees coming back time after time to one or two that “might fit” wondering if it will look horrible once we get it inside….worrying all to no avail since every year it is “just right” and beautiful.

Some years I find myself twirling the lights around by myself or putting finishing touches by myself.  Other years I have more help that I can deal with graciously.  The standing back taking it all in squinting session is always fun …making sure there are no holes in the lighting and everything looks just right.  Each ornament has to hang just right…not lying on a branch so it can’t dangle amidst the glittering balsam.  Each year we buy or make one ornament for each of the children (and one for us as a couple).  Sometimes the ornament speaks back to the year before. An ornament in memory of a beloved pet, one made in Sunday School for mom with a child’s scratchy printing or funny picture of when they were younger, years and years of fun and sweet ornaments to put on the tree year after year.  Then one year several ornaments were missing…one child left and started their own tree with their ornaments.  Each year or so more and more ornaments were missing…it seemed like we still always had enough ornaments.  What memories each one holds.  Stockings each year with an ornament hanging out the top…little fingers hanging it awkwardly on our beautiful tree each Christmas morning.  Every year…every tree…listening as it were to the real story of Christmas.  Mom reading tear jerker stories of families celebrating Christmas, Dad reading Christmas morning before opening gifts from Luke 2 and thanking Jesus for coming and the Father for sending His Son for us.

As I take the tree down this year, well into the new year 2015, I am thinking back to the dozens of trees we have had…each one different and holey in its own way…imperfect yet perfect for us.  Never the same.  Hours of putting up, taking down, decorating, re-fixing…rehanging ornaments, placing presents just right under the tree each year, listening to squeals of laughter, wiping tears on soft little cheeks, sleeping under boughs once each year in order to enjoy the lights all night long and the love and companionship of loved ones and family….these are all reasons I love my Christmas tree.  O Christmas Tree.  I can’t wait for next December just to pick that next one.

I often wonder if Allen goes before I do how I’ll do it.  I never have wanted to have a fake one…an artificial one…there’s enough fake and artificial in the world.  Even when my allergies to pine acted up…I was more willing to get my sudafed out and enjoy.  Bringing a little bit of the forest inside for a month seems so silly…but it speaks to my soul.  It reminds me of other trees.  The one which made the cradle for a baby boy from Heaven, the one that became the cross where He died 33 years later…and many trees inbetween in my life.  One REAL tree growing up where it was potted and in the spring we planted it in the front yard…now 30+ feet tall in a small town in New York.  I love trees.  I had a Grandma and Grandpa tree in CT because I never had a Grandma and Grandpa.  A walk in the woods…in December….in my living room…for a month.

O Christmas tree…you are a bright spot in this life.  You give beauty in years when there is little or none.  You give hope when there is no hope.  You remind me of the real reason for Christmas when there is no reason to celebrate.  I love my Christmas Tree…see you again soon…in a different wood…with a different aroma…with different branches…and different wood…but the same joy and the same emotions…

So if Allen goes before me I will still get a real tree…for me…for the years of memories…for the tree.