Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Life On An Empty Page

"Happiness is the setting of the soul into its most appropriate spot"
~Aristotle


They all start out this way ~ with a blank page staring up at me, stark and white. My box of colored pencils lays open, the array of colors, criss-crossed and of varying lengths await my hand to pick them up. Always at this stage I hesitate, fearful and I wonder if this time I will be able to bring life to this empty page that lays before me. Slowly I take my sketching pencil, its outer shell is dark green with lighter green swirled through it. It is an 'HB', a good all around pencil ~ for sketching, for shading, for outlining. It is not too hard or too soft, both of which have their purpose but not here or now.
A vision dances through my mind and I must take it from there and put it on this piece of paper. The paper itself is heavy and textured, just right for trapping my colors so that there might be depth and life in my drawing. And so as I start an outline it is faint and without life. Just lines upon a paper, nothing more. Always I wonder if I can give enough to make this drawing real, more than lines upon paper. I dig through my box finding my base colors and I set about filling in the lifeless sketch. Even at this point I hesitate, doubting my ability. So I add more depth with color, shading, lines, shadow and light. As time passes life emerges on my once empty page. My drawing becomes a part of me and a little of my heart goes into each one. The moment of completion and apart of my life is now on this page.
This day it was a little wren upon a fence post. He didn't fully come to life until his eye shone back at me and I envisioned him flying free and singing his little heart out atop my Mountain Ash tree. The more I layered on his colors the more I fell in love with him. He stole a bit of my heart as his vision no longer danced through my mind, he was released through my fingertips and became life on a once empty page

From my heart to yours, Jen

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Treasure Holding My Teasures

"Memories! We go through life collecting them"
~Laura Ingalls Wilder
 

The page sits blank and empty before me, my box of colored pencils lays open. This box I love, it has a story to share of how it came to be mine. It was a hot, sunny day in August many years ago. The town was small, even for a northern New Hampshire town. The common is huge and a main focus of its Main St. Big, old trees surround this patch of Main St. grass. And if life was one of dreams I would live here in this tiny town with its old steepled church and long, red carriage shed with arched doorways. Of all of my beloved New Hampshire this town is the one that has captured my inner heart. And so it was that August day on the common there was an antique show. He and I wandered through tables and tents holding and touching history ~ living bits of lives that came before ours, character and patina, weathered and beautiful. As we finished our tour, there on the last table was this box. I, pull his arm, showing him with delight that I know this box! It brings me back 25 years or more. Back in time I remember the first day of school, Mrs. Hodges, closets, the new smell of school, being away from Mom, putting my brand new 'Strawberry Shortcake' lunch box there in the row of other boxes. It was shiny and bright and brand new, something we rarely had then or now. Now we choose to find the old and loved and beautiful but to a six year old girl that shiny and new was a treasure indeed. Red and white and pink embossed metal...
I had seen only one of these boxes since those days and always regretted not buying it, but nonetheless I put it down, back on its table, wishing I wasn't so sentimental. And we leave the antiques on the common heading back to the truck, he stops and talks to one last dealer and I go to find some water, leaving him there.
Down the back roads of Northern New Hampshire we travel home and August turns into mid September. And I turn another year older. He hands me a wrapped package and I open it ~ wondering what it holds. As paper is removed, tears come to my eyes, there on the table sits 'My Box', no longer shiny but beautiful with patina and character.
What do I do with a box that is a memory? I happily fill it with some of my prized possessions ~ my colored pencils, erasers and sharpeners. My treasure holding my treasures...
I started out writing this story about my blank page but as the words came it took a path all its own, so my blank page will have to be a story for another time, another day.

From my heart to yours, Jen 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

1650 Old School Miles

"I ran away from a thousand things waiting to be done
And stole a little visit with a friend."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

To and fro, they come and go ~ these fat envelopes that are full of love. They have flown across the miles for years and I have watched a family grow, if only through these envelopes that come my way. Those that I send in return are just as stuffed full as the ones I receive.
In these letters I read of joy and adventures, hopes, fears, and pain. Though through the eyes of children they are no less real. I have rejoiced in small triumphs and loved them through the misadventures. I have read of gardens growing, of school studies, of art and baking. of sewing machines ~ old and new. And poetry that makes me smile. We write of favorite authors and books, of favorite studies, of snow forts and tree forts. And of dogs named Willie, of wood piles and animals at the zoo.
I love to hold crayon drawings from little tiny girls, the words written by big sisters, who sometimes aren't so big at all. The lovely letters of a six year old~ big and backwards~ the words spelt the way they sound to little ears. I love these tiny letters that are full of promise. As I remember years ago when I first received letters from little girls that are now beautiful young ladies, who now write in cursive and calligraphy ~ in letters that are many pages long.

They, too, once wrote in sweet childish writing, but the words they wrote and the ones the little ones write now are just as true and lovely, for always they assure me ~ that they love me and that Jesus loves me, too.
All this I enjoy across 1650 Old School Miles.

From my heart to yours, Jen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Wheelchair and 4 Legs Walking

"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are."
~Markus Zusak
 

We sit, two white haired ladies soaking up the summer sun, not just warming our flesh and bones but our hearts and souls as well. My chair next to hers ~ she sings me songs and tells me stories, of times and places I cannot reach. We love each other through the decades, lifetimes, and memories that separate us. She sits longing for Heaven and sometimes my world has just begun and hers is at its end. A little blonde boy sits and wonders how we like it so hot, there in the sun. He runs and finds a treasure, a simple gift from God ~ a pinecone, a leaf, a flower ~ purple and white. I guide frail fingers to feel and see the shapes that her eyes cannot. I tell of color, where it grows, the blue of the sky, the birds that fly by. Can my words paint the beauty that I see? In her minds eye does the memory revive itself to bring God's good earth into perfect view?
I sit stilled and loved. Blessed to have in my life a lady ~ beautiful beyond compare. Her strength, courage, innocence, all mine to learn from. If only a portion of her spirit could be mine... would I not become a hundred times more the girl that I am? Her heart so full of love, forgiveness, hope ~ and she shows Christ to me.
The morning wears its self out and her lunch awaits. My little boy becomes the man and we dream us up a highway and a shiny Cadillac, long and black. He is the chauffer and us ~ two fine ladies going out to lunch. Sometimes the highway is a boulder strewn trail and we, like hillbillies traverse the rocky ground. Daydreams we dream, us three. A wheelchair and four legs walking. And life is grand.
In this room, her world for so long, my boy opens packets ~ cream and sugar, salt and pepper. He stirs a perfect cup of coffee and gives flavor to her food. And she thinks he has conquered the world ~ just for her. With a napkin on her lap, I feed her one bite at a time and I thank her for trusting me to be a part of her world.
One cool Spring morning, I gently wake her. She slowly opens her eyes, I tell her we are there. She hurts and I hold hand. For the first time I hear her utter a complaint. I am scared, She moves and I feel hot tears, that blind me running down my face. She cries aloud. I hurt inside ~ unable to help her. I long to reach through the pain, take it from her, hold her, love her... I sit confused and full of love. And she, as with her whole life overcomes the moment, And again I sit ~ stilled and awed. She apologizes for her pain. What words do I say? Hand and hand we sit, two white haired ladies and one blonde haired boy. I tell her how brave she is, how much I love her. She humbly thanks me, when none is warranted. And yet again ~ she shows Christ to me.
We say goodbye. I know 'til Heaven this time. And so it is. I cry and rejoice. Two emotions. I gladly let her go and take joy. She ~ whole and free, walks streets of gold...

From my blessed heart to yours, Jen
 
With much love and thanks to Jennifer Somero for the picture of Mildred.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Holding Spring in My Hand

"...And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
~William Wordsworth
 

 
It was March in New Hampshire, the calendar told us the Vernal Equinox had come and gone but Winter still lingered on and we waited for Spring. It was the time of year when daffodils fill the stores with their beauty, tempting us of brighter days ahead. Of all the flowers that decorate God's good earth none has captured my heart quite like these.
And so it was on that March day that I stood there in the parking lot, with my little boy sitting in the cart. My heart was broken and I was just pretending to function as a human being. Standing there ~ I watched her walk through the row of cars, pushing her cart. She was beautiful. I wondered at her beauty... it was not the beauty the world proclaims, but earthy and untouched. She wasn't the perfect shape, height, or weight. She had no adornments, no beautiful or stylish clothes. Yet she had inner loveliness, serene and gentle. Where she came from or where she was going I will never know. Our meeting and words were brief and momentary, but forever changed who I am.
As I turned to put the groceries in the back of my truck, I looked up and she was there ~ Simply handing me a handful of daffodils. Yellow and green. Sunshine in the form of a flower. 5 petals and a cup. Sunshine and Spring all wrapped up in that handful of flowers.
"I want you to have these. I don't know why." was all she said.
My hand reached out to accept them, trembling. And she was walking away before my thank you was said. And then she was gone.
On that March day I stood there in the parking lot holding Spring in my hand and I cried. There was no shame for my heart was being held in the hollow of my Good Lord's hand. Healing, strengthened, and loved.
 
From my heart to your, Jen


Friday, February 21, 2014

A Note ~ Clear and Sweet

"I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night
and with the first faint scent of Spring,
I remember life exists...'
~John Geddes


Winter lay dying.
And all Creation was on the edge of its Vernal awakening.
The sun felt warm upon my face.
The earth was beginning to thaw and water began to tickle and trickle, on its way ~ in a hurry to get
wherever it goes.

 

The birds were trying out their voices ~ Choir practice before the triumphant arrival of Spring.
And lest the night should be silent the tiny Hylas sang ~ as loud as a mile.





Then the day of days.
 Joy upon joy. The sap began to rise.
And everywhere there was a new kind of music that filled the woods as sap fell into metal buckets.
Each tiny drip a note ~ Clear and sweet.
The sap becomes our life...
To be collected, treasured, cherished and measured.
Sampled and analyzed it runs with wild abandon, bringing bud and flower, leaf and life.
As the steam ~ soft and white ~ rises to meet the clear blue sky, the elusive smell of maple fills the air.
And we remember how its so much more than making syrup.
Its memories, love, tradition, the awareness of God's good earth.
And for the moment all is well.


 Happy sugaring.
From my heart to yours, Jen
      

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

20 Years, But Who Was Counting

"Come live in my heart,
And pay no rent."
~Samuel Lover
 


She played in a dirt driveway; on the far side was a low spot, it would fill up and become a puddle every time it rained. This puddle was a great source of entertainment ~ it could become an ocean and she would sail away to far off lands, it could become a pond and be full of all the mysteries that a pond can hold. But usually it was simply loved for its mud. 'Cause making mud pies, filling small pots and pans with mud and a red bird berry carefully placed on top, was what this little girl loved to play most of all. And so it was that she played there in a dirt driveway and her life was changed forever when he walked down the road. Can an eight year old girl really fall in love at first sight and continually love that man forever? I would say not possible but my own reality says it is true.
He was a teenager then, in blue jeans, work boots and hair that was too long. He, of course wouldn't have noticed such a little girl playing in a mud puddle. But life went on and age came with it. He left and became a soldier ~ an excellent marksman, a Staff Sergeant. And she grew older and got lost in her teenage years. Dark and broken, she does not talk of them for there is no glory in her shame. And she cries sometimes when the memories resurface in her mind.
The soldier boy came home having learned and grown in strength and character, he became a man. And she believed him even more wonderful than before. He worked and worked, 'cause he had no trust, no hope in a family of his own, truly believing he would never marry.
She finished school, still in love with him but he was 'old' and she was lost. How could their paths cross and become one? But God knew the end from the beginning, and cross paths they did. A Valentine's dinner twenty years ago led to a marriage and a life well loved. ~ Through salvation, living and learning. Through heartaches and broken dreams, tears that have fallen silent and cries that ravaged their souls. Through so much joy and happiness the world has turned for this girl and boy.
She still believes him wonderful and every time he is gone from her she anxiously awaits his return and as she opens the back door to welcome him back home, sees his face, his eyes, his smile and for the moment all is well with her soul. And she believes she is the most blessed girl to walk God's good earth ~ for he chose her!

Happy Valentine's Day
from my heart to yours, Jen