Saturday, May 30, 2020

On the Edge of the Ocean

      It felt good to sink my feet into the wet sand. My freshly painted toe nails stood out against my tanning feet as the clear salt water rushed over them. The roar of the ocean was only disturbed by the seagulls call over head and the giggling laughter of my two year-old as he ran along the edge of the water. The sun over head warmed our mid-western skin.

    Behind us two teenage girls sunned themselves on lawn chairs we had rented. Their phones were in the air as they posed for selfies. I watched them for a moment behind sunglasses and underneath a baseball cap. I didn't want to burn my face. The water was warm at my feet so I took another few steps to let the waters surge around my ankles before they went back into the ocean.

    Judah fell and salt water splashed into his mouth. He spit and sputtered before wiping his face on my cover-up. In a moment he was back to running, jumping, and exploring. I stood looking out upon the vast waters. Little white dots lined the horizon, I knew they were boats but I couldn't make out what type they were. I was hoping to see a dolphin, but the waters were quiet this mid morning on Treasure Island beach.

    I smiled thinking of our time as a family. We had loaded the plane in Iowa relatively quickly. We had found our rental van without a hitch. We drove from Orlando Florida down to the coast through a rain storm but now the clouds were gone. The beach vacation was in full swing.

    I have given up the notion that we will gather around the table to play a board game. We have never been able to play more than one round of Monopoly without a major upset. My favorite game Boggle doesn't even interest anyone. We have never been into playing cards, but the ocean I was sure would bring us together. We are from Iowa, a state that only boasts of fresh water lakes as crystal clear as a glass of muddy water.

    I looked up the coast to see Brad walking, thinking, maybe praying. Family takes a lot of prayer. Who knew that six individuals would have a hard time seeing eye to eye. We are in the midst of the teenage years when Parents are stupid morons that don't know anything about anything. I encourage myself that I grew out of this stage and they will too...

Please Lord, hear my prayer. 

    At the edge of the welcoming waters I linger not sure I want to get wet. My hair will be a disaster and what if there is a jellyfish. Before I can take another step a red bikini splashes past me. The younger daughter calls out, "Mom get in, its perfect!"

    She wants to be with me? My heart grows warm with joy. This is a rare treat these days. So I run in, Cover-up discarded on the beach as sunglasses and hat are cast aside. The waters drench every inch of me. My hair unbound flows freely under the waves. The tingle of salt covers me from head to toe and I submerge next to my happy faced girl. We chatter as the waves carry us. The puffy white clouds smile down on us in blue and white.

    This is what I had hoped for.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Jesus Take the wheel

    I wiggled and pulled to get the dress to fit. But as I looked at myself in the mirror I was proud and scared. The black and white floral dress with the halter top that tied behind my neck finally fit. I hoped the postpartum tummy I tried to slim with four months of rigorous exercise was camouflaged by the ruffles.

"Perfect," I said trying to convince myself that I was ready.

     A few months earlier I had auditioned for the Cedar Valley's American Idol, a fundraiser a local charity was putting on. I had been nervous. I was 28 years-old and self conscious about my age, was I too old? I hadn't sung solo for a few years and I had just had my third child, besides I didn't know any normal songs. I had been singing strictly for the worship team at our small church in Elk Run Heights, Iowa.

    I decided to work on Jesus Take the Wheel, by Carrie Underwood. For two months I sang to my reflection in the purple sun room at every nap time and in the evenings when I had all three little ones in bed. It was in the mirror as I failed to hit the highest note, for the tenth time, that I heard it again. You're not good enough. Whether it was the devil or my inner critic or a combination of them both I will never know. But this Postpartum mommy had something to prove to herself.

     It had been five years since I graduated from college. My only source of income was a handful of voice lessons I reluctantly gave. I was full of doubt in those days. I questioned if I was worthy of teaching anyone how to sing. I wondered if I had been wrong about my own voice. At church I sang back up and I struggled to read music. The old self doubt rumbled through my soul whispering, Is that all you got? None the less, when I heard about the contest I signed up to audition.

      The auditions were held at the same Holiday Inn we had our wedding reception at some 8 years before. I couldn't breathe or think as I waited in the lobby with other hopefuls.

      "Dianne Singleton," a young lady in black jeans and too much eyeliner called out.

     I followed her to a conference room, there three judges sat in padded chairs with note books open and the video camera rolling. Taking a deep breath I introduced myself and the song I would be singing.  His Eye is on the Sparrow reverberated off the walls. This was the one song I was confident I wouldn't mess up even under pressure.

     A few days later I was notified that I was accepted as one of the 10 finalists.  Over the next month I met with a voice coach. I hadn't met with a coach for years and I felt vulnerable. I could understand why my voice students were so shy for the first few sessions, I felt their pain. But she was kind as she encouraged me not to hold back.

   Its hard to sing out, to be seen, when you don't like the girl you see in the mirror. So I practiced more, and I talked back to the accuser in my head. "Dianne you can do this!"

    Finally the night came, I had my song rehearsed and I was ready to go. I remember waiting back stage with the rest of the competitors. One singer dressed in a white suit performed while playing piano. He was so smooth he even worked in some dance steps.  Another contestant had a strong bluesy voice that would have reviled Aretha Franklin. Intimidated butterflies filled my stomach as I questioned why I was doing this at all. There was really only one older gal dressed in blue jeans with big hair, who sang country that I knew that I could beat.

    But then my name was called. I stood behind the curtain in the darkness with the microphone. I could see the country singer just finishing her number cascaded in the pink and purple lights. I could hear the roar of the audience after her last note. As I waited, I felt the surge of raw nerves and the cool sensation of perspiration.

     It is in that moment that something in me becomes brave. It might be that I was the third child of four and I rarely got the center of attention. But somehow under the spot light I grow stronger. I whispered to my soul, "Come on Dianne, you've done the practice now sing it with all your heart."

      The music track started and I walked out. The lights hid the faces from me as I began to sing. My right knee was shaking but I tried to keep my mouth from quivering. "Jesus Take the wheel..." I sang and got through all the high parts. I moved carefully locked up with fear. I tried to open my heart as I sang and drowned out the ugly accuser as even under the hot lights he tried to whisper, Unworthy.

    In the struggle of nerves I felt the kindness of God helping me out of my fear. Jesus take the wheel cause I can't make it on my own. The lyric became my prayer as I looked out into the shadowy auditorium. "God I give you my voice and may it be used to heal, to help, and to bring hope." Emotion burned from my heart up through my throat and glistened in my eyes as I finished the song. The crowd clapped and cheered, but it was the applause of heaven that made me feel like I had won.

    I didn't win the contest, the Country singer beat all of us. I felt frustrated that I had wasted my time, but God has a way of getting his message to us. The following Sunday I was at church when a friend came up to me. She waited as I shook several peoples hands before telling me her little story.

"Dianne, I was shopping in the Cedar Falls HyVee grocery store, a few days ago. I am not sure why I was even there. Anyway, I was walking down the baking aisle when I heard two ladies talking.

One said,  "I can't believe she didn't win."

The others said, "I know, when I heard her sing Jesus Take the Wheel I felt moved, like there was some kind of power coming off the stage."

The other chimed in, "I had goosebumps."

      I looked at my friend. She was excited to share what she over heard, but what she didn't know is that I had prayed, Lord, please move through my voice to people's hearts. I don't care if I win. And what I didn't realize is that I forgot that little prayer, but God did not and in his kindness decided to remind me about my true victory.

    It turned out that I did care if I won, but when my friend told me the grocery store story I felt pleased. God had answered my prayer. He had taken the wheel.

     That contest had helped me to take my voice seriously again. I learned that God wasn't finished with me yet. That little over heard story encouraged me when the ugly doubts tried to steal my triumph. To this day, I hold onto that lesson every time I open my mouth to sing.
Jesus, please take the Wheel.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

What is a Mother?

     She sat on my waterbed for the third run through of my lines. I stood in front of the glass mirror closet doors to rehearse The Insanity of Mary Girard. I was about to get to my favorite part when I missed a line.

   "Mom what is the line again?" I asked irritated. She fumbled through the script to find the precise line. It took her too long, I was already wallowing in self-doubt. My sixteen year old body fell to the floor. "I'm never going to get this. The Speech contest is tomorrow morning."

"Dianne, you can do this. Don't get upset, just try it again."

    I would gather my strength and try it one more time. I would nail it. She would hug me and leave me to my boy band posters. I would forget about the time she had just spent with me. I wouldn't realize how that time would push dinner off a half hour and potentially put my three brothers and my dad on edge. No, instead I would look in the mirror dreaming of a new way of fixing my hair as I touched up my finger polish.

    Moms do so much for us. I realize that now that I am one. This morning I will preach a sermon to the moms in Montezuma, Iowa on a mechanical lift as cars gather at the local high school parking lot. This is church in quarantine. It is windy and cold today. But I got up early to bake cinnamon rolls for the kids. In my mind I am carrying a dozen tasks as think of all the details it will take for us to get out the door successfully this morning. I know that my list is too grand and I can't possibly get it all done but I hope for a wonderful morning with my kids.

    Time flies. The years with babies seem at the time to go slowly but if you blink too quickly you'll miss it. I remember the day we dropped Isaiah off at Kindergarten. I wanted to be strong. I didn't cry when I walked him to the little hook with a happy sign above it with his name printed clearly. When he met his teacher that morning and turned to me for one more hug I could feel a tear letting lose so I hurried out. How does that day now seem like yesterday as we prepare for his graduation?

    In recent years as my three olders have become teenagers I have thought of my mom a million times. Sometimes I nod to myself, and say,"I get it now. Other times I call her crying, "Mom raising these kids is so hard, will you please pray for me?

     Lately as I look in the mirror I see her face. I am the same age my mom was as she sat on the Waterbed helping me with lines. I realize now how much that time was a act of love. In my adult years I have been in many plays, I have sung many songs for many people, I have written songs and blogs, and traveled to foreign countries to share the love of God. But deep down I know that my courage comes from the love of a great mother.

    This morning as I woke up I thought about this day. I thought about my children still asleep in their beds. I could feel the hope for them like the fragrant sweet smells coming from the oven as the cinnamon rolls turn golden. I have a hope that they will reach their dreams like I have. That they will embrace their faith and be able to see further than their wildest dream like I have. I dream that today they won't argue or pick at each other.

    The reality is I may not see all these things happen with my own eyes. Just as my mother doesn't even know about the countless times a day I think of her. I thank God for her.

    She had no formal training as a mom, do any of us? She just did her best and leaned out to her Savior as much as she could.

    Her hair is white now. Sorry mom that might have been my doing. I haven't got to see her since this quarantine thing started, but the ones you love are always in the heart. Today I needed to pause and write my thoughts.

    Thank you Mom for your tireless love for me and those wild Tullis boys. You played basketball and quoted Shakespeare. You made delicious meals and mended our cuts and bruises. You prayed with me and wiped my tears. Now I am doing the same for the next generation.

     I love your beautiful face and your sweet prayers. I love the way you have always loved me.

For all Moms, today is a national holiday to acknowledge all that you do. The list is too long and the sacrifices too great to list. I pray that today you feel loved and cherished because you deserve it.

Thank you. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Crying over Goldfish and Pink Lemonade

    "Don't you even care about me?" she cried.

      I was trying to pull the asparagus from the Instant Pot as the timer on the oven indicated the bacon was done. Brad was just outside the kitchen glass door grilling the chicken. She was ravaging through the drawer right underneath the instant pot.

     I roared, "Get out of the way!" I was trying to put yet another dinner together that everyone would eat. She huffed and puffed a little louder, "Why don't we have any balloons. Do you want me to fail?"

    In that moment I didn't care. I had one focus, it was to get another meal on the table. Instead of sweet motherly care I had a wild look of determination in my eye. I flipped the grilled cheese sandwiches on the electric skillet as I tried to say in a calmer voice, "Can we please look for a possible random balloon after I get done preparing dinner?"

    Undeterred she continued to shuffle through the drawer as the asparagus started getting soft and limp in the hot water. She grumbled about how unfair life was not having parents that were organized enough to locate a balloon on demand for her project. This project I had just learned about five minutes ago.

Life is unfair.

     It is unfair for her. It is unfair for me. It is unfair for our sweet little two year-old that has to hear the run around our fights cause almost every night at meal time.

Expectations are dashed daily in this family life.

     At the dinner table Judah drank his "pink" lemonade. Swishing it around in his mouth he spit it back out in his cup. His eyes began to light up at the discovery of a new game. As he repeated the drink, swish, spit routine his sisters complained. He was being so disgusting they thought. As a lesson, the Balloon Complainer dropped a goldfish cracker in his lemonade. She smirked, feeling as if she was dealing out justice. Brad spoke up, "don't do that, you are teaching him to play with his food."

     Sure enough he instantly added two goldfish to his glass of back-washed pink lemonade. Another argument was breaking out spontaneously when Judah's little hand dropped a little fish shaped cracker into the pitcher of pink powdered drink. Fishing it out quickly, I instinctively threw it, hitting the Balloon rights activist/ brother disciplinarian in the face. She looked at me in stunned silence, everyone stopped talking, as the goldfish bounced off her forehead landing on her plate.

"Mom! how could you?"

    How could I? From my point of view this Little Darling had become a pain in my back side and I had no grace, no mercy, and for a moment no maturity in dealing with her.

   After another verbally shower of words I put on my walking shoes. The other sister followed suit. Brad and Judah got dressed to go too. We were almost out the door when the Goldfish assaulted daughter poked her head through the door to the garage.

"Can I go?"

    Everything within me wanted to yell, "NO!" but the mother's heart, the part of me that labored to get this precious child into the world, spoke up, "Sure, get your shoes and hurry the sun will be going down soon."

    The quieter sister mumbled something about life not being fair as I climbed into the back of the van so the Humbled sister could take the front seat.

     In a few minutes we were walking and laughing together on the nature trail. The girl's chatter sang out over the green grass and budding trees. As our feet walked along the black top trail I looked out over the rolling hills of prairie grass. The sky was pink and purple now with the orange gleam of the setting sun. We had forgotten the fight that was so heated only fifteen minutes before as the topics of boy bands and favorite Netflix series were discussed. I realized, in that brief moment,  I was blessed to have these little women in my life.

      The word count of that conversation was well over 10,000. My ears felt exhausted by the time we got back to the van, but my heart felt merry again. This quarantine has created many scuffles, but  we are learning to walk off our anger. We are learning to get over each other's faults.

     I realize as my children grow that I am always wishfully thinking I will be a fair mother. That I will be Cool, calm, and collected. That I will some how be a walking Proverb and my children will want to respect my space, value my time, and listen to me when I need a moment of peace and quiet.

    Life is not fair. And I must confess neither am I. But that is why this family practices the simple phrase "I am sorry" daily and sometimes hourly.

     She got her balloon and was able to finish her project. The world didn't crumble and we forgave each other for the goldfish catastrophe. The sun went down.  We all went to bed finishing one day, and looking forward to the next.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Bargainer's Dozen

     I have a sweet tooth. I hate to admit it these days, but I wasn't always so mindful. In fact for years, sweets were a food group in my diet. Gummy Bears ranked higher than carrots and Brussels sprouts. Peeps replaced Ham on Easter morning. Chocolate Covered cherries were all I stocked my pantry with through the winter months. It wasn't until the blood sugar test they give expectant mother's at their six month appointment that I learned I had gestational diabetes with Judah and my world began to pivot.
Writing down a total number of carbohydrates for each meal started to put a halt on the skittles.

     I thought, certainly if I drink a lot of water and exercise this whole blood sugar thing will get back to normal. I had the mind set that I could conquer anything and especially health. But as I pricked my finger again and again the numbers were always higher than normal. I had to forsake all sugars and embrace the Brussels sprouts. Needless to say, I went through a sugar withdrawal, but in-saline shots started to get my attention.

     The only thing I looked forward too through that last trimester was having the baby so I could get back to my Gummy Bears. I was sick of celery with natural peanut butter. I even dreamed about eating a Snicker's bar when no one was looking. When I finally had Judah I didn't check my blood sugar for a long time. I ate what I wanted to which was a large variety of the third trimester No No's.

     When Judah was about seven months old I thought maybe I should just check my blood sugar. I skipped the post par-tum blood sugar test scheduled for three weeks after his birth. It would have required fasting and 2 1/2 hours of drinking concentrated pop and waiting. I just couldn't fit it in with preparing to move and nursing a newborn. So I held out my finger for a good poke. As I gathered the droplet of blood I waited for the number to pop up, 139 the number read. My heart sunk, the sugar problem had not gone away.

     Once again I said farewell to my sugar buddies that had been helping me through the past few months. I went back to diet and exercise. I cut out regular sugar and I cut carbs. In a few months I was losing a lot of the baby fat and moving past the sugar cravings. I checked my A1C, and it was within normal range. This sounded like good news but I was afraid of myself. You know that inner voice that tries to get you to do all the things you know you shouldn't. Well it started whispering to me again. This time it brought up my old crush, Chocolate frosted donuts with cream filling.

    It just so turned out our new home was only thirty-five minutes from one of the best donut shops I had ever experienced, Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, Iowa. They had chocolate frosted cream filled Bismarks that were like eating a baby angel:) So good!

    Again I fell off the wagon of good eating skills just to have one of these little temptations. Now I am not saying eating donuts is a sin, but they are sinfully good:) I love the way the sugar rush makes my head tingly and I have the energy of a Squirrel. I looked past the stomach ache. I forgot the way I repented after I had to lay in bed after one of my donut indulges. But at some point I put the foot down and I looked myself in the eye.

Knock it off Dianne!

     That is when Brad introduced me to KETO. The weird diet of cooking everything in bacon grease and smothering it with avocados. No donuts were allowed though it was totally acceptable to eat a whole package of bacon in one day. In those days I would yell at the old tempter when my mind would remind me of how happy I was eating a donut. How fun it was to squish a gummy bear between my teeth, especially the ones from the Albanese Candy Store.

   The diet lasted a good four months before I started taking in a treat here and there. I thought I was still practicing moderation until yesterday. A new villian hijacked my sugar heist. Oh it was a clever trap laid before me. I was just going into Dollar General for a few things. At this time of social distancing I am thankful for the moments to shop. In our little community I only have two options, the grocery store and Dollar General. I wasn't prepared for what I was about to walk into.

   As I was looking for raw apple cider vinegar, not an item they carry, my eye was drawn to the little orange sign that read 90% off Easter. Now if there is anything I love more than candy it is a sale of grand proportions. I started digging through the items. I had a small thought in the back of my mind that Covid 19 could be in the box of plastic bunnies, Easter grass and wind-up chicks. BUT THEY WERE 90% off...

    I have a brain injury when it comes to sales. I have bought many items in the past that later I laughed at. Like at Christmas I bought 42 popcorn balls because they were 10 cents each. No one in my house would eat them but I reasoned, we could have a "snow ball" fight. Or we could make a craft.

     I have a problem. I sometimes recognize this, but yesterday when I laid eyes on the huge box filled to the brim full of cartons of Chocolate covered marshmallow eggs I knew I had to stop. My head pounded with the thrill hitting the jackpot. I picked up one package of eggs, it rung up at only 30 cents. I would have been crazy not to go back to get more.

     After purchasing three more dozen I left the store. My mind raced with the excitement of my great buy. I quickly opened the first carton. I'll just eat one, I said to myself. But to be honest the thin coating of chocolate had the perfect crunch contrast to the squishy marshmallow center. I was instantly brought back to the memory of eating these very eggs as a child. Thankfully my brothers didn't like marshmallow eggs so they didn't try to rob my Easter basket.

    As I ate the second and third egg I began to get happy. The sugar rush was beautiful. By the time I drove the 5 miles from the store to my home I surprised myself by discovering I only had three marshmallow eggs left.

    Oh no! this was definitely not good for me. I knew a walk was in order. I could picture the sugar surging through my veins. But the kids were loud, the kitchen was a mess, and I didn't have a plan for dinner, so the last three eggs just disappeared. Stress made me do it!!!

       The moral of this story is: I still have a sweet tooth. And though I have moments of victory, the fiendish side of me still can win. I have a bargain addiction, and I don't think there is medicine for this. I have 3 cartons of eggs that are calling to me as I write this. I am not sure if I should burn them, plastic carton and all, or donate them to the Covid 19 crisis center for other sugar addicts. It is hard to face your weakness and drop kick the chocolate covered marshmallow eggs. But let's be clear: I need to cast them into the sea of forgetfulness.

    My sweet tooth isn't dead and when the going gets tough I secretly like to start eating. I am sorry that as you read this, you are probably getting frustrated with me. With these words I hope to rid myself of the lure of these tasty little death traps . This dilemma is my chronicle of the Bargainer's dozen. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Getting the Recipe Wrong

    I'm worried. Have you ever made a recipe, you have already made enough times that you have  it stored  in your brain. It is lodged there somewhere next to tying your shoes and riding a bike. Yet somehow this time when you pull it out of the oven, it doesn't look right. How could it not look right? I know that I know that I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING...

     After calling the whole family in to look at and taste it everyone concludes the obvious, you missed something. You knew it but when others confirm it some how it just makes the mistake sting a little more. Looking back at the messy counter space, it becomes clear. The milk carton isn't out. Without milk the whole consistency is off.  And then you remember just when you were about to grab the milk from the fridge your phone started buzzing...

    Do you follow my drift? Like rehashing a tried and true recipe stored away in the brain, I tend to think I am fine with relationships. If you ask me how my family is doing most of the time I am honest with my "we're doing great," reply. But something hasn't been quite right and if you come up close you might be able to sense it.

    The problem has been popping up with my men. I have lived with men my whole life but I realize I still don't understand them and they don't really understand me. In an effort to do better I was listening to a podcast about the inner workings of a man's mind.

I shook my head. I have it all wrong, and I just don't know how to get this recipe right.

    Growing up with three brothers I felt frustrated. I cleaned the kitchen while they played basketball. I cared about my grades, I was busy with plays and show choir, but accomplishments didn't get the attention basketball did. I was hurt and defensive.

    After maturing a little and falling in love I was sure the man I married was nothing like my ridiculous brothers. Certainly I would always love and respect him. I have loved him 100% but please, do you expect me to Respect the way he washes dishes but leaves all the silverware in the sink because he abandons ship before they can be cleaned.

    Shouldn't I speak up when he forgets to buy the off brand unscented baby wipes and instead forks over TWO EXTRA DOLLARS for the name brand floral scented ones? My poor baby's rear end will be redder than Rudolf's shiny nose.

    These are little things to speak up about. Certainly I am not a nag, I tell myself. This is the recipe I have been using for years...So why do I feel like we are not connecting?

    It just hit me between the eyes this morning that I got it wrong. Men and Women look at the world differently and as much as I can say: Women want to be loved and Men want to be respected if I don't know how to show respect my relationships won't get better.

    I mentioned this to my teenage daughter, who rolled her eyes and said, Men are dumb. Some how her statement catapulted me back to my own adolescents and the ugly names my brother called my Mom when he was mad. I was so ticked off at him. Other incidents with men belittling me came to mind. I still felt angry. But as I looked at this budding young woman I realized I didn't want her to grow up with the baggage I carried.

     I love my husband and my sons.

     The first ingredient I need in heaping measure is Forgiveness. In my hurt I can try to control these precious boys expecting them to think in the same detail that I do. I may expect them to tell me everything they think and feel when this is just not how they are hard wired.

    Second I need to say Thank you. When one of my guys does something for me, even if it isn't the way I would do it, I can be grateful for their act of love. I'm going to practice right now.

"Thank you honey for washing the dishes." I don't have to point out the forks and spoons he forgot to finish. Even if it takes all my will power to button my lips I can and I will.

   The reason I listened to the podcast in the first place was to try to figure out how to talk to my 18 year-old boy. You see I don't want to lose him with the wrong kind of talk. I can tell I am on thin ice already, and as I listened I took notes. I took notes because I love these men I share my home with. Speaking their language doesn't come naturally, but I vowed again to try. They are worth it.

   I am worried that I am not getting the recipe right, but I am also hopeful because this is a new day. What if I can move forward more careful with my words, expectations, and assumptions. What if I can lead my daughters to forgive too? What if we can improve this recipe we call family.

  A woman can dream.

   Thankfully I am not alone in my desire. I have faith that God cares about these men in my world even more than I do. With His help I can do anything. I am encouraged by the apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13.

  Love is Patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, It does not boast, It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, It is not self-seeking, It is not easily angered, It keeps not record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love Never Fails.



Friday, April 24, 2020

Around the Oval Table

    It happened almost four years ago now, I said yes to attending a small writer's group, and why wouldn't I? I had started a blog (I was big time).

   It was a balmy summer evening when I pulled up to the beautiful home. The tall trees revealed the centennial age of the home and shaded its classic beauty from the setting sun. Walking up the sidewalk I almost danced up to the front porch.

  I knew Deane from my first writing class at House of Hope. The thought of her calmed my racing heart. It is largely because of her that I dare to write. She had shared her desire to step out upon the waters of writing in that previous class I treasured. As a result, she opened her home to continue that little writing space, that opportunity for dreams to fly off pencils.

   As I entered her home the warm color of wood welcomed my eyes as I followed Deane. The quiet shuffle of feet and chatter from the next room came to my ears with a curious beckoning. Around the oval table I met Brenda and got reunited with Rebecca, a fellow student from the House of Hope writing class. This was to be the beginning.

    Later that year others would join the group. Some would stay and others would go. It sounds much like any group shifting with time, but it had become much more to me. This small group of ladies helped my heart speak. At first when we had writing exercises the flow seemed easy. I can do this, I thought. But as I listened to the writings coming off everyone's pens I enjoyed their writing.  I began to love these women who allowed the group to peer into their thoughts and dreams. We shared something together there. Out of the abundance of the heart the pen speaks and sometimes it bleeds onto the page.

    A few months into the meetings I found out I was pregnant. This was a life changing event. I didn't want it to be. I hoped to be able to Adult my way through an expanding tummy and the intense mood swings. I learned quickly that the pen will not lie. I am indebted to the ladies who sat through my bucket of tears. Why am I crying again? It is humbling to realize to give yourself permission to write is to become vulnerable, to become seen as you really are.

   Later when I lost my job we sold our house. We started a new life with a tiny baby, 3 older kids, and a naughty dog, but it was here I found comfort. Surrounded by the warm color of wood, in a chair around the oval shaped table words, lyrics, and delicious desserts put me back together again.

   After the blog posts ended and my mind was numb with sleepless nights and grief these ladies made me smile as we savored a poem together. As we read each other's works. When I wondered if there was anything left of me they reminded me...the pen does not lie. And there on tear stained paper I found my voice. It was quivering, unsure, and weak but it stood up on ink and notebook paper.

    They saw it, around the oval shaped table. They said, "it is good." That's when it happened...

For a second time, I believed...I am a writer.