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

Friday, January 17, 2014

On Hard Water

"And this our life,
exempt from public haunts
finds tongues is trees,
and books in running brooks,
sermons in stones,
and good in everything.
I would not change it."
~William Shakespeare

The old pine sits skeletal and bare. We stop and watch an eagle atop the dead tree, he lifts off, flaps his wings five, six times then soars. We stand still until he becomes a speck on the opposite shore then he is gone from our view. The early morning sun shines on the newly fallen snow and God's good earth sparkles and shines, becoming the gem that She is.
We love this pond in all her seasons. It is Summer and we glide ~ soft and slow in our canoe. In the early morning light a loon calls and she slips, silent beneath the surface. Her mate answers and then she resurfaces, just as silently, next to the canoe. Smooth and shiny, black and white, watching us, watching her. And we take her memory with us as we walk through life.
It is Autumn ~ The sun mellow with age. The water inky black, still and flat. On the lonely island the blueberry bushes have set it ablaze with their foliage. A Maple leaf, orange and vibrant floats slowly down, landing and reflects itself back ~ a mirror image of perfect beauty.
It is November. The world now muted in color and sound. The clouds are gray, heavy, and low. The wind blows across the water causing waves to come ashore and we feel it's bite through our jackets. The trees, bare of their Autumn splendor stand gray and cold, waiting for the warmth of Spring. Only the rustle of the Oak and Beech leaves ~ clinging through Winter's wind and snow. They are beautiful, tan, crisp, and dry. And a lonely jay calls across our pond.
It is Spring ~ the earth is soft and soggy after the snow pack melt and the life giving rains. The sky races blue and white with cumulus clouds and the water, clear and clean reflects it back to us. We stand on the shore, poking under decaying leaves, looking for green shoots. We see the tree bark beginning to color with life and twigs swell with waiting leaf. The sun is warm on our backs. And we wonder how Spring can still be so full of hope and mystery even after all these years of looking. We know that she will never surpass Autumn in beauty but in hope she triumphs each and every year. On the water a pair of Mallards swim and we eagerly await their tiny, fuzzy balls of yellow. The chorus of frogs and the call of the loons are all joys to be had here at our pond.
But on this day we enjoy a privilege of our New Hampshire home ~ to walk on hard water. The length and breadth of this pond is ours to claim. In holes 12, 13" deep the water rushes up and turns the snow into slush. I follow behind with the pack, selecting just the right tip-up. They are old. Full of patina, weather, and character and I love them all the more. As I turn the worn nut and make the wooden 'X' I wonder whose hands held these before mine? If I could reach across time, would I love her, both of us loving a thing of beauty and function. I wonder were they like us ~ a husband and wife, on hard water, full of love, laughter and life with a thermos full of hot tea and a bag of cookies? Did their little ones also run and dance, make snow angels and learn how to pull in a line? Wondering what was on the other end. Would it be a Yellow Perch, who runs in a school and at times feeds fast and furious, his meat white, flaky and clean? Or would it be a Largemouth, who fills the hole, to be released and caught another time, another day. Maybe its a Pickerel ~ a long, lean fighter. And in holes along the shore where the water is shallow over the sandy beds we hope, breathless that is might be a Rainbow. He comes sideways to the hole. The flash of silver, blue, and pink. A beautiful body all speckled, long and slender. A perfect shape...
As the clouds take over and the afternoon linger on, with cold fingers we take in the lines, knowing that back home there is driveways to shovel, wood boxes to fill and now a bucket of fish to clean. And we know that there is no better place to wile away a Winter's day.

From my heart to yours, Jen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As Darkness Fell Over Hell

"I've a little wet home in a trench
Where the rainstorms continually drench
There's the sky overhead
Clay or mud for a bed
And a stone that we use for a bench."
~PVT Michael Riley
The frontline WWI

On and on the rain poured down, as if the sky was crying for what men had done upon the earth. Or maybe it was for all that would be lost in the years to come ~ the lives, the hopes, the dreams... And the Heavens themselves cried for the slaughter that would be beyond what a soul can comprehend. Maybe the rain was a collection of all the human tears, not yet fallen. Between October 25, 1914 and March 10, 1915 there was only 18 days that God ceased the rain from falling over the trenches of France.
They joined the ranks believing they were fighting the good fight. Believing also that this would all be over before Christmas. So they came, marched, and dug in, their trenches crisscrossed and zigzagged through the frontlines, with them on one side and the enemy on the other. But as it is in the way of the world these young men were soldiers, fighting for a country, enemies only because a government claimed them to be so. In another time, another place they could have been great comrades. And as the world turned day by day the rain filled their little wet home in the trenches and October passed, and then November crawled by and the trenches were all they could call home. And so it was that through the cold rains of December they still occupied the country side of France.
As darkness fell over the hell of No Man's Land, back at home the world over was remembering a birth, angels filling the night sky with song and praise, shepherds watching over their flocks by night. And Peace on Earth... December 24, 1914 ~ And in a world at war there was peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. In their little wet home in the trenches the sky cleared, stars shone bright and beautiful. Cold and calm. For GOD remembered them. The silence was deafening, awesome, eerie... Silent and Holy. The enemy chose not to fight. They, too, remembered a birth and angels and goodwill toward men. Wonder filled the trenches of the frontline, as they heard voices rise in unison and drift over hell to reach their ears, hearts and souls. Though the words were foreign, the tune was universal ~
"Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht"
And so these enemies returned song for song. And GOD looked down from Heaven and remembered why He gave His Son.

From a soldier, his wife and son ~ To all those who have served and those who do so this Christmas ~ We  salute you, honor and thank you.
Merry Christmas and God Speed
From our hearts to yours, Justin Jen and Ian

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Searching for Treasure

"You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be..."
~Strickland Gilliam

Under the window in my living room sits an old wood box. Age has filled it with patina and character. The wood is rich in color, darkened and mellow. Around both ends are metal bands, hand bent to fit and hold the box together, small nails were pounded in with hammer and hand to keep this box alive through all of these decades. The edges are worn and rounded over because of all the handling it has been through. It lays on its side, there under the window, upon it sits a little black chair, old as the box itself. The little chair came to be mine one day in the Autumn ~ we drove up 'Antique Alley' and turned off to the left and drove a mile or so more until we came upon an old barn with an abandoned apple tree standing guard on its doorstep. The tree is ancient and unkempt but still bares hard and distorted fruit each fall. The barn door is wide open, welcoming us into its interior. Inside it is full of antiques, real ones. The front stall is full of hand tools made by a carpenter for his own use long ago. Now my two guys long for those worn and beautiful tools, for this is why we stopped here at this barn called 'Betty House'. The rest of the stalls have miscellaneous farm implements, furniture, and looms, old political signs decorate the walls and old stuff is propped up here and there. The second floor hayloft holds more old and moldering things and I admire the carriage that sits well above my head. As we  grow used to the dark of the interior, he shuffles across the street, he is old and bent but full of life with wonderful eyes. He makes no apology that his antique store is what it is. And I am glad that he does not. There are no lights, no cash register and only the earth for a floor. As my guys and he talk of tools I let my eye wander, taking in all these pieces of history and there on the hand hewn beam hanging on a single nail is a little black chair. It catches my heart, I move on but still it holds my attention so I go back, look up at it and soon my hand reaches out to touch a leg and then the stretcher. I know if I lift it off the nail it will not go back... I let go thinking I will leave it there in that old barn. But as love is my heart says no and my hand goes back and I lift it off the nail. I hold it, wondering of its life before me. The slat seat is missing but I disregard this minor flaw and see only lovely form and function. I turn around to where they stand, holding unto this chair, I meet his eyes, questioning and he assures me that he can make it as good as new, but wonders ~ what do I want with such a thing? I don't know other than I love it ~ beautiful and old. It satisfies something in my soul. We haggle over the price, more for fun than anything, both of us knowing I will treasure the chair far more than the paper we offer in trade for it. And so into the truck goes my new found treasure. We linger there at this old homestead and learn a little about an old man's life and history itself, warm Autumn sunshine, patina, heirloom apples, and good company. And so my riches have increased. But I digress from this my box full of treasures, for that really is the intent of this story...
My wood box holds within it a row of books, they are supported by vintage bookends that I brought home years ago, they, too were from a barn that was full of antiques but lacked the character and good company. The bookends are metal gray with a largemouth bass jumping from the water, they too satisfied something in my soul and now they hold this row of books. Not just any books, but only those that hold honor in my little home. Each one of these has become apart of me, they changed who I am... They are arranged by height not by love, staring on the left they stand tallest to shortest. I will share with you my treasure list, with no further details, also starting tallest to shortest.
A Passion for Flowers ~ Penny Black
The Gunfighters ~ Paul Trachtman
James Herriot's Treasury for Children
An Illustrated History of Ireland ~ John Grenham
The Best of James Herriot
Music of the Birds ~Lang Elliott
James Herriot's Yorkshire
Fighting Handguns ~ Jeff Cooper
Flint ~ Louis L'amour
Wasa Wasa ~ Harry Macfie
The Canada Geese Quilt ~ Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Owls in the Family ~ Farley Mowat
Cat Stories ~ James Herriot
The Lonesome Gods ~ Louis L'amour
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be ~ Farley Mowat
The Dog Who Came To Stay ~ Hal Borland
Gray Seas Under ~ Farley Mowat
To Kill A Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee
Although this is my list, it is not the end of my search for great treasure. I will greatly increase my riches when I come to find these books also:
And No Birds Sang ~ Farley Mowat
The Serpent's Coil ~ Farley Mowat
The Boat Who Wouldn't Float ~ Farley Mowat
From my heart to yours, Jen