Here

Well, hello there to anyone still hanging around these incredibly silent halls.

Don’t adjust your dial (oy, does that ever date me….😏)

Yes, it’s me.

I am here….

And I’m not.

Huh? What now? 🤔

Well, I don’t want this to be misconstrued.

This is not the umpteenth “Welcome Back, Kotter” moment in my life.

Expect no sudden, prolific flow from this pitiful scribe’s brain.

Those things which I wrestled with when I closed this door continue to press in on all sides. My ability to articulate as well as just the sheer drive to do so remain largely seized up inside.

Seriously. You should see how my fingers stutter over the keys right now, trying their darndest to summon up the right phrasing.

But such is the land of living. Questions dangle, obligations loom, but still, we put one foot in front of the other.

Or one finger after another on homerow….😏

So….if this is so much like a dental visit ( the yanking teeth kind), the biggest question might be why do it at all?

Well, nothing profound really.

For there are no big “wows” in my world to report.

The family is in the thick of what it always is right now…school, music, and scraping together a livelihood.

My pain goes on, too, but, hey, there is breath in my lungs, so that’s good.

But, overall, it’s such a nothingness to share I hesitated long and hard whether I even should.

Still, something in my gut just had a longing to come and be here.

Just for a few moments.

To say hello. To say I miss you, friends.

To say I think about and pray for you often.

And to remind myself vulnerability isn’t the same as weakness.

That derision isn’t always a forgone conclusion to opening my troubled soul.

That I can still form a few paltry words here and maybe find a friend genuinely glad to see me on the other end.

For there is worth in that simple thing, I suppose.

In this all-too-often harsh, cold-shouldered world, we have need of one another.

I know this in the depths of my being but, sometimes, depression can hem in on all sides and give a pretty convincing argument to just stay in that isolated place for safety’s sake.

Admitting to it can be the challenge of a lifetime.

But, perhaps, well worth trying…

Again, where this isn’t to say I am returning to penning a lot of profound thought, there is a lovely something in being here I cannot deny.

Now, I don’t really know what awaits me following the press of the ol’ send button, of course.

And, again, no idea what the future of my work here holds.

Yet, I know I must follow the Godly hand guiding it…

So, for the first time in months, let me say thanks for reading, dear friends. Blessings and prayers. ❤

Unmasking Kindness

Ok. I am about to burst. I just have to do this.

It’s tough to venture to in this current situation, but (deep breath) let me just out with it:

I. Hate. Masks!!!

Ahhh. That is better. Not unlike when you get home from being out in polite society and (carefully) yank off said mask. 😏

Oh, let me reassure you, I am not saying this to be a political activist or a fist-shaking rebel.

Longtime readers know I am not your typical fan-the-political-flames or rebellious sort.

No knee-jerk offerings here. 🙂

For, where I will most unapologetically say as a Christian, I don’t think we should be wallowing in panic, I neither presume to know best on this or just how to sort through the maze of confusing information, conspiracy theory du jours, and what have you.

Because, doggone it, Jim, to flip what Bones always said:

I am a mom. Not a doctor.😏

And, yet, being a mom-a mom of special needs as well as one with her own neurological and physical differences, I just can’t help it.

I hate masks.

For what they do to my children and I physically.

Emotionally.

Socially.

Oh, yes, I know we ought to be above it all for others’ sake.

Kids are resilient (And, in many ways, they actually are. This is not news to me!).

You get “used” to it. They’ll get “used” to it.

It’s for the good of our fellow man.

If you struggle that much, just shut yourself in your home 24/7.

I have heard it all.

Yet, it’s not so simple for some of us and I wish others would acknowledge this without talking it down.

You see, it’s been a rather painful period in our little community.

We are at a dismayingly cold war over this issue.

Between balancing caution and compassion as school begins again.

Frankly, there are no easy choices. I get that.

Firstly, I know this point without a doubt:

Online education cannot replicate everything.

My kids did all right in the spring, praise God, but we all know there are things they love and thrive on that I just cannot provide o solo mio.

Yet, we mustn’t be careless in the process of reopening. I do believe in Godly wisdom. We can’t be wily-nily on this and expect good results.

And, yet…we are all becoming so sharply opinionated around here, we are forgetting what our small town has always shared.

Namely, friendship. Or so I thought from my admittedly, nearly perpetually, introverted distance. 😔

But, then, maybe, this highlighted to me what is disconcerting to realize is still true- that I really don’t get that word, “friend”.

For, what is a “friend”, really?

I use the term often here and I want to be clear-I genuinely mean it in referring to each of you I interact with.

You are each very dear to me. I have felt your fellowship on an authentically personal level.

Yet, I fear to broach the question, but feel I must for the sake of my honesty-is it easier for me to do here because it’s not in person?

Hmmm…

Probably, to be frank.

The written word is my forte.

In person, I am a gangly-mouthed mess (Add a mask and, boy, howdy!).

Shoot, even the phone is not much better.

I have to practice basic conversation.

Seriously.

It’s rather embarrassing, folks. 🙄

Anyway, moving on…

A further thought on this-

We sometimes sing at church, “What a friend we have in Jesus…”.

And I love and believe and embrace that fact in Him.

No doubt there.

And, yet, there is a persistent lack of truly knowing that word “friend” well in my heart or life experience.

So much so that I don’t know that I really know sometimes what it even feels like-in person, anyway.

Whenever everybody was pairing off on the grade school playground, I was off in a corner, gathering sticks or wandering the perimeter, eyes downcast, affecting an unconcern that I most definitely did not feel.

For, those eyes were fixed down out of abject fear.

Fear they’d collide with another’s.

Fear they’d see into my soul.

Fear the pain of that and the sure judgment to follow was just more than I could bear.

I could sometimes bear a swift glance in the vicinity, though it was more likely to be a nose or mouth I was comfortable fixing on.

Especially the mouth. For, there I could at least discern frown or smirk or smile.

I wasn’t always sure if what I saw was genuine, but it was easier to interpret for the most part.

And, now, all these decades, two marriages, four kids, a career, autism acknowledgement and, most importantly a life decision for Christ later, I am still so often that little girl on the perimeter.

Even here in everybody-knows-everybodyville.

Oh, I have found my ways and my niches, facilitated my kids in the same.

Yet, my longing remains both to be a part and yet to steal away.

Of the aching to trust and the anxiety of whether I really can.

So…needless to say, in this current climate of bickering over social distance and masks everywhere you go, I am experiencing a lot of inner turmoil.

There are those whose faces my kids and I cannot read.

Literally.

I love the clear masks and pray more and more have access to them. They are great for more than just those who lip read.

In fact, as soon as I discovered them, I got onboard and bought some.

But, even that boils down largely to choice. And most are still choosing coverings that conceal the vast majority of their face.

The best we can do with most is a fleeting look into the eyes.

And what we see there is often the disapproving and the fearful if my kids or I happen to be having a hard day with the enforced coverings, compliant though we are trying to be.

Then, there are those whose faces are uncovered save their bright red spots of anger that any would be attempting a mask at all.

And neither is good.

Both strive to seem holy.

One the pious do-gooder.

The other filled with “righteous” indignation.

Yet, neither truly trying to understand the other.

Or, for many, remember they are supposed to be family in Christ.

It’s disheartening, always feeling caught in between.

Wanting to see peace between opposing forces.

To do right somehow by all simultaneously.

And still kindly advocate for my dear ones and myself in the process.

Hoping somewhere out there is a friend in the midst of this mess, knowing we mean well, yet also acknowledging what we are daily up against is much more multifaceted than the mere fight against a virus.

I further hope we can unmask kindness, be it in their eyes or the whole face. 🙂

I have no answers here save the knowledge that even if I still struggle at times with the concept of friendship, what a friend we have in Jesus.

And I know He is the friend that is always here to help us bear it all…

Thank you for reading, you whom I also feel I can always call friends! I love and appreciate each of you. So much I know I can request your prayers as I extend my own to you. These are challenging days and I know we are going to need much strength. Blessings to each of you! ❤

Reconnections

I have had some interesting conversations on here lately about my differing comfort levels with people online versus in person. (Hi, Eclectic Contrarian, my fellow introvert! 😊) So…for the following to have happened to me is kind of a wow thing…

Something interesting occurred recently.

We were at a live Nativity someone in our community puts on every year.

It was the first time we have been able to make it. In the past, weather has been a concern for some of us with major cold sensitivities!

It still wasn’t warm by my tastes, but, it was doable. 😏

Besides, our intrepid 15-year-old son was going to be Joseph leading a heavily pregnant Mary to shelter.

On a live donkey, no less. ( Which he wryly called Eddie Murphy in tribute to the Shrek character. Love my boy. 😁)

He’d never done that before, so, being the excited sort of parents we are, we had to see him in action.

He didn’t dissapoint.☺

But, that was nothing compared to what else the Lord had in store for me.

I was in the barn where people congregated for the tour when I heard a voice call my name. A familiar one, yet I couldn’t quite identify it.

It was like a call from the past, a description which made sense once I turned around.

Because I found myself face to face with someone I’d not seen since shortly after high school-one of the few from those days I really did not mind encountering again!

She’d been a year behind me, an up–and-comer in drama class as I was winding up my time on the stage.

In a time I was especially uncertain of every move, yet longing to be pleasing to the Lord, this girl became a dear and kindred spirit in many ways, a kind of younger sister to encourage and teach.

There were few who professed a Christian faith in that circle, so it was so nice to know at least one I could interact with on that level as well as in theater.

After graduation, I remember going back to see her play the lead in “Once Upon a Mattress”. What a joy to see how her talent had blossomed!

I remember telling her something to that effect and the way her face lit up, like it really meant something to her.

I think she was at my first wedding later that spring, she wished us well, and, then, that was pretty much it.

She went off to college to study, I played at the married lady, and contact fell away, as it will.

And, then, about a lifetime later, there we were again.

I apparently was still recognizable, right down to my ever-present beret. A comfort to one feeling her age and then some! 😉

She definitely was recognizable, down to that same effusive glow. Time had scarcely etched but a few lines around her youthful eyes.

I learned she’d become a missionary, as she often wished for, married a Spanish pastor, and had three beautiful brown-eyed boys, all of whom were in tow.

It was fascinating to listen to her translate me to her brood with such skill!

To think she was once sort of under my wing…

So…we did that for a bit, and then, we found opportunity to get off to ourselves for deeper conversation.

The part I feared would be tougher was my side of things. In addition to my natural reticence, there was the fact she had also known my first husband quite well. We’d all shared a stage and student-led Bible study. She’d witnessed our oh-so-young, wholly untried promises to each other.

Yet, there was still that something of a friend in her expression.

So…in I plunged, hoping not to scare her off.

I tumbled through the high (and low) lights of my long journey from potential youth minister’s wife to struggling single mom of three, two diagnosed autistic, wrangling a class of toddlers and a dark depression alike.

And, then, to the better part-my God-given second chance at love and marriage, complete with my bonus boy.

I didn’t delve into the many adventures of restoring an ancient, Green Acres-style house or the roller coaster ride of assisting my husband in running a business.

I was a little breathless by then and conscious of possibly dominating the whole shebang!

So…I just aw,shucksed my way through the fact I was a published author if she was interested in the full breakdown of said journey.

Talk about your awkward salesperson. Shades of one I remember from Andy Griffith who “didn’t want to be pushy”. 😏

She was so sweet and enthusiastic about that fact, though, insisting on how to find and purchase my memoir, refusing one of my several free copies I had back home collecting dust…😊

But, it really wasn’t the unexpected possible sale that marvelled me.

Sales are done and gone in my ambitions. People are not about sales, after all.

No…rather, it was her utter kindness and warmth, the genuinely glad-to-see-me manner, the deep understanding of the road I wound up on and the shared joy in the way God redeemed my life.

Apparently, she had even been thinking about me recently after a chance sighting of my ex-mother-in-law at the church I attended in my teen years.

She was wondering where I was, hoping, praying to see me somehow somewhere.

And, she had this readiness that God would move as a result that I admire a great deal. I have had spurts of such in my life, but, honestly, it’s grown a bit…rusty.

I could really do with a resurgence of that eager expectation!

In the end, we hugged and reiterated how wonderful it was to see each other again, how awesome God is, exchanging phone numbers and the hopes to find time for future visits.

It was a blessed reconnecting of sisterhood I had not been anticipating or even realizing would be nourishment to this shy little soul.

Or that seeing me could be such to someone else.

Yet, obviously, God knew, as He always does, being the unparalleled composer behind the scenes that He is.

I don’t know yet what else He has in store for this reconnection, but I pray I can have that quality of readiness.

May we all find room for such in our hearts! Blessings and prayers, my friends!