Monday, September 3, 2018

Trying To Remember -

I woke up this morning with an idea that started taking root in my imagination. I really have no time to venture into another story line while I'm still up to my arm-pits in my current novel, but I couldn't help myself. I'm not sure if it will grow into anything, but for now, I'm fascinated and I'm hoping to be able to build something from it.




                                                                     Chapter One -

As the young woman sat in the corner of the little cafe sipping her latte, writing intently in her journal and listening to something through her hot pink earbuds, she suddenly looked up as if instinct jostled her memory of a time long ago. The expression on her face was that of a woman who had lived a lifetime of love, heartache, joy and sorrow. How can one young woman have lived that much life in such a short amount of time. After watching her from a few tables away for the last two hours, Marcus estimated that her age couldn't be more than that of 35-40. She wasn't beautiful in today's worldly standards, but there was something about her that was lovely, poised, graceful...a trait lost in today's generation of women. If Marcus didn't know better, he would have thought her a time-traveler. She looked as if she could easily have fit in during a totally different era. Change the clothing. Remove the laptop and cell phone by her side. Take off the reading glasses and get rid of the bottled water she was reaching for, and voila. Marcus could write an entire story on this woman set in the 1800's on the wide open plains headed west, or in Biblical times carrying a water pot on her shoulders headed for the common well in the center of town to gossip with the women about who was newly betrothed or who had just delivered twins and lived to tell the story!

The woman briefly closed her eyes, as if taking a moment to pray. Reaching up to tuck a stray lock of hair that had come loose from her headband that held her dark mahogany locks back from her face, Marcus noticed the plain gold band on her finger. As her eyes remained closed, he could see her lips moving. She was praying! Twisting her ring with her other hand, Marcus' imagination started running in full gear now. The writer in him knew there was a story here, and he had to hold down the urge to walk up to her and ask her to tell him about her life. That would be ridiculous for him to do and a lot creepy for her to have to watch. So he continued to observe her. He didn't consider it stalking if he was just gathering data for research for his next novel. He would speak with her before leaving, to ask her permission about using her as a fictional character for his next book. Yes. That would be the right thing to do.

Reaching for his sketch pad and pencils, he started doing an outline sketch of her face. Something for research and a possible cover for the book. Not that he thought he'd ever forget her face, but just in case. He had taken art classes all through high school and college. If it weren't for his writing passion, he would have been a starving artist. Instead he was a starving author!

While finishing the sketch, he heard her cell phone buzz. She looked at it, startled and somewhat surprised that it rang at all. Pulling the earbud from her ear, she picked up the phone and read something. She sighed and turned the phone off as if she were frustrated and didn't want to deal with whatever was going on. Marcus was pretty certain that she would do better without phones at all and would be happier baking bread and weaving wool for clothing and blankets. He bet that she'd be happier in a garden tending to the weeds and pulling fresh tomatoes off the vine or picking figs from the fig trees along the countryside. Oh wait, it's 2018. Marcus was feeling himself being sucked into another time and place.

If Marcus wasn't careful, he would be locked away in another era and not come out into the real world until the last word was written. He couldn't do that. Not now. He needed a breather from his last book. At least that's what he told himself, but sometimes he just couldn't help himself. The story would reach in and grab him and take over his life. His mind, hands, eyes all became controlled by the story that brewed inside until it was exposed and out in the opened.

The dark haired beauty got up. Presumably to get another drink or use the restroom. Marcus watched her as she turned to walk right past his table. With his sketch book out and his notepad open, he tried not to stare. She was taller than he'd imagined. As she reached his table, she looked down and paused. Marcus heart started beating a little faster. What was he going to do if she spoke? For 10 seconds, at least, she just stood there staring at his sketch. Little did Marcus realize, but the picture was an incredible reincarnation of her own likeness. That's what he was hoping for, but with so little time, he wasn't certain how close he had come to bringing out the haunted look in her eyes; the posture of her shoulders and the gracefulness of her hands.

"Oh my goodness. Is that me?" the voice, soft with a hint of Middle Eastern added to it.

"Well, it's suppose to be. You just caught my attention and I started tracing your outline. I hope you don't mind. You just have a very poetic and fascinating look. As an artist by desire only, I couldn't help myself. It's just something I like doing. I'm actually a writer, but like to dabble with drawing. I'm sorry, I don't mean to keep you. Please forgive me." Marcus was flustered and that only happened when he had to communicate with people. Real human beings.

"Oh please, there is nothing to forgive. I'm flattered that you thought I was interesting enough to draw. It's very intriguing. Is that the way you see me? I mean, don't get me wrong, it looks like me, but yet not like me. I'm sorry. I sometimes have a hard time putting my thoughts into words, but I think what I'm trying to say is that it looks like me, but from another time. Does that make sense? Like a life-time ago. Not now." she reached again for the strand of hair that refused to stay back and put it behind her ear.

"Actually it makes perfect sense. I'm just surprised you figured it out. When I saw you, all I could think about was how you looked like a woman from another time. A time-traveler, so to speak. Now I'm sure you think I'm strange, but it was just the feeling I got. It probably came out in my drawing somehow..."

They were both comfortably quiet for a moment. No awkwardness; just each contemplating ideas and thoughts. Marcus wanted to ask her if it would be okay to write about her. Not a biography, but a fictional story that was inspired by her. How do you ask a complete stranger something like that? As long as he'd been writing, he had never had to do that before.

"Excuse me, miss. You're going to think this may sound crazy, but like I said...I'm a writer. A author and writer of fictional stories. I was just wondering if you would mind if I used you as an inspiration for my next novel? I've been observing you for the last couple hours and I find you fascinating. Oh...please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not a stalker or any other creepy person. I'm an author gathering research and data for my next story. I honestly just finished a very long novel a couple weeks ago and was looking forward to a break, but my creative imagination decided it has other plans. You walked into my cafe, and now I have an incredible story that I want to tell. I would like your permission to do just that."

"Are you serious? No one's ever been interested in me before...like that. Without even getting to know me first. I'm not sure there is enough about me to fill a book. I'm a pretty private person and I'm not sure I'm comfortable having anything of my life put in a novel for the world to read. My life is plain and not very exciting. Can you tell me a little more about how this would work?" Sitting in the little chair across from Marcus. She looked directly at him with trust in her eyes.

"Well, first of all, I should introduce myself. I'm Marcus. I'm an author of a few novels and an artist on the side. I love travelling and observing people. Coffee is as important to me as air. My home is mostly library and a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. I am an only child. My parents died when I was 12 and I was raised by my grandparents. I've been a widow for 10 years. We had no children. Always thought we'd have plenty of time and didn't feel the rush. Then before we knew it, we were going to chemotherapy treatments and within 12 months, she was gone."

Marcus stopped talking and suddenly realized that he had not spoken personal words about himself to anyone in so many years, he couldn't even think of who the last person was that he talked to about himself.

"Hi Marcus. Thank you for sharing that part of your life with me, a complete stranger. You are very brave. My name is Rayna. Rayna Cohen. I have two younger siblings which I haven't seen since we were separated as children after our parents were killed in a terrorist bombing in Israel a long time ago. We had no relatives that were close, so we were put into an orphanage for two years. My little brothers were 1 and 3 at the time and were chosen for adoption quickly. As for me? Well, no one wanted a girl on the verge of puberty who was angry at the world and had pimples. Everyone wants a baby. I was happy my baby brothers got chosen into a nice family. I haven't seen them since, but have been searching everyday since I was 16. That's when I left the orphanage and found a job, went to school and came to America about 10 years ago. I finished med school and opened a practice with 3 other doctors. Today is the first full 24 hour day I have had off in about 5 years. I decided to get a latte and sit for awhile. And now you are up-to-date on me."

Rayna had to take a deep breath. When was the last time she spoke about anything personal with another person? Hmmm, like never. She learned a long time ago not to. Way too dangerous.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Letters From The Sky








Looking over at the alarm clock on her nightstand for the tenth time, Savannah groaned when she saw that it was 2:03 a.m. Only 20 minutes had passed since the last time she had peeked.

"Are you kidding me?" she moaned to no one in particular.

Rolling to her side and pulling the down comforter over her head, Savannah whispered a quick prayer that the next 4 hours she would experience a deep and glorious sleep.

And P.S. Lord...Please make the 4 hours feel like 8.

As she lay under the covers with her eyes wide open, Savannah began thinking about random stuff. For example...why did she always set her alarm clock to the Spanish radio station when she didn't speak Spanish except when it came to food? She figured it was because it was the loudest station in town, which irritated her just enough to actually get up and get out of bed. At this point, Savannah was going to need LOUD when that alarm went off in 4 hours.

Five hours later...

"Wow, you look like death warmed over. Rough night?"

The large burly balled headed man in the rumpled suit standing next to the coffee machine eye balled her as he passed her a cup of what passed as "coffee" in this office.

"Thanks boss...and yes, it was a rough night."

Savannah started to sip the thick black sludge in the cup and thought better of it. Dumping it down the drain she smiled sweetly at her boss. He meant well, but he also didn't bat an eye as she rinsed out the cup and headed for the door.

"So what kept you up all night Williams?"

"Got a story I'm working on boss. It's got me all jumbled up inside just trying to figure out how to handle the interviews this afternoon."

Savannah walked into her office, threw her bag on the couch and was unwinding her favorite scarf from her neck when she realized that her boss, Jack, had followed her in and was slamming the door shut.

"Hey. What are you doing? I mean, I know you're the boss and all, but you never close the door unless it's your own office. So what's up?"

"Sit down Savannah," Jack said while sitting down in Savannah's desk chair and leaving her the only other option in the room; the old puke green lumpy couch. This did not bode well.

"Well, boss...I WAS gonna sit, but now that you're telling me to sit, I feel like standing."

"Sit, Savannah. That's an order."

The seriousness in Jack's voice, made her re-think that snarky comment that was just sitting on the tip of her tongue.

As Savannah reluctantly sat on the couch, something started twisting in her gut. Her dad used to call it a "bad feeling," but Savannah just called it "trouble."


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Calm Amidst Chaos


As I dove into my daily devotions this evening, I started reading a new book by Max Lucado called Anxious for Nothing. I have always loved and identified with this guys writing. His newest book (at least the first chapter) did not disappoint. If you get an opportunity, it's worth the investment. It is written for today's times and today's issues. The greatest part is that God is up to date with the issues that are plaguing our world for today, and He has a solution. He gave the answers and advice and testimonies a long time ago. They are completely and totally applicable to every situation that we are going through in 2018. You gotta love that. For me, being reminded that anxiety is not a sin, but an emotion, and that the presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional...(thanks Max, I love that)...is such an encouragement.

Anxiety is a plague in today's America. We have all experienced it in some way, whether big or small. And doctors say, its only getting worse. It has no gender preference; no religion that it likes to attack better than others; no class, color or origin it finds easier to inoculate more than another.
We are all susceptible. America is the winner of the #1 country that suffers from it the most. Ironic that the country who has abundance of wealth, knowledge, technology, freedoms that others do not have, more things to make our lives easier, safer and better, should be suffering with such high amounts of stress and anxiety, that its sucking the very joy out of us.

Lately, at work, I see more stress and anxiety than ever. The constant pressure of trying to achieve and meet goals and stats and metrics in order to keep your job, or to be promised an increase in pay for the next year has grown to such a proportion, that fellow workers rarely speak to each other. Going to lunch together or pitching in money for a co-workers birthday cake, cards and balloons are just not heard of any longer. I start to look around and realize I don't know the names of half the people on my floor any longer. They come and go so quickly.

The chapter I read tonight was so helpful. I am going to share a small portion of it. I hope Max is okay with me putting his awesome words into a more personal prayer for myself.

With God as my helper, I will sleep better tonight and smile more tomorrow. I am going to change the way I face my fears. I will learn how to talk myself off the edge and I will start to view bad news through the lens of sovereignty. I will tell myself the truth and do better at discerning the lies of Satan. 

"God made me for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind splitting worry. He has a new chapter for me and He is ready to write it." (Max Lucado quote from Anxious for Nothing)

Max tells a little story about how his dad use to check all the locks on the doors at night after he and his brother went to bed. He would then, walk into their bedroom and whisper, "everything is safe now, you can go to sleep." That just touched my heart in so many ways. God is my heavenly father, and He loves me; watches over my little world and monitors everything in my life.

God IS the door and He will let nothing get through without His permission! Thank you Max Lucado for your words of inspiration and encouragement to my life that gets bogged down with stress and anxiety more than I'd like to admit.

Lord, be the anchor of my soul. Let it sink way down into your firm foundation, that will never, ever shift. Help me to wait on you. For You are my only hope and any fear I have, is a liar! 

Just thinking out loud,

P Torres

P.S. Enjoy one of my favorite songs right now


https://youtu.be/sQTnREEtuNk


Monday, July 16, 2018

A Dream Come True

That title may sound a little exaggerated, but today I am pleased to announce the publishing of my very first short story:  Full Circle. It is now available on Amazon and Kindle in book or e-book.  Truthfully, I'm excited and also a little nauseous. I've been told that's normal.


I have this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that no one is going to like it and everyone is going to look at me like I'm a ten year old trying her hand at telling stories. Trust me, I know better than anyone that I'm not a Beverly Lewis, Jannette Oke or Francine Rivers. I've never even read one of Beverly Lewis books, and she's on the New York Best Seller list. I love Oke for her "Love Comes Softly" series and the "When Calls The Heart" series. Francine Rivers hit a home run with the Mark of the Lion Trilogy (in my humble opinion, its the best series in her genre, EVER).  I would love to be accomplished and inspirational like they are. It's going to take some time and an extra dose of courage.

Full Circle is a very short (44 pages) short story. It's a simple story about an Amish girl named Hanna. It just shows a small window of time in her life where she starts to question what her future is going to look like. She wants to be a Veterinarian, which requires college. Her Amish lifestyle prevents that. Education is only allowed up through the 8th grade. Hanna wants what other girls her age want. Love, romance, a home and family someday, but she has always wanted something more.
Full Circle is a small little glimpse into her heart and mind, and how God can bring answers in the strangest of ways.

There's a little humor, a lot of heart, a few hilarious moments and of course, the possibility of something wonderfully romantic. My editor told me I should make it a series, but I kind of like the way it ends. It lets the reader wonder what lies ahead for Hanna. Who knows? I may change my mind and do another book to see where things head for the Beilers and the Fishers.

For now, I'm working on a really great novel called "Lovely Days" (at least that's the title for now).  So...my first has been thrust out into the world, where family, friends and complete strangers are going to read it, hold it, ear mark the pages (don't you dare) and maybe draw in the margins. I had no idea how hard this part would be.

Whatever the future brings; whether my future has best-sellers in it, or just wonderful adventures for my local friends and acquaintances, I will be happy. The Lord has helped me accomplish one of my goals. Get one of my stories published and out into the market so others can read. That is checked off of my "Things To Accomplish In My Lifetime" list.  Now I'm getting busy writing the next adventure.

Thank you to all who encouraged, prayed, listened and wondered if it would ever get done. I love you all.

My name is Pam, and I am an author of a published book! Wow, that has a nice ring to it.

Just thinking out loud,

P Torres

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Head vs Heart

Sometimes you have to figure out how to adjust your perspective. The way we think something should have happened, or the way we dream about the future. If we don't, it's easy to get discouraged. Everyone needs something to hold on to. It takes more than blood and oxygen for people to want to live...it takes something called "hope." We've all heard the stories of horror, despair and torture that people have lived through. Whether it be the holocaust survivor or the POW that was held captive and tortured everyday. We've read books or watched movies about the end of the world and the apocalypse (whether by earthquake, tsunami or zombie invasion) and one thing that keeps people going, is that little thing called "hope." What is it about hope that is so powerful?

I love the song that says, "My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness." Congregations sing songs about hope every Sunday. My hope is in the Lord. Others may have their hope in something else, but we all have to have a ray of hope, or we just won't make it when things get really dark.

So for me...I need to change my perspective. I want to see things differently. My head and my heart don't always line up. My heart may be very upbeat and positive, and my head may be very realistic. Black and white. No grey areas. My head can be judgmental and critical at times. Even skeptical. For the most part, my heart keeps my head in check, and vice versa.

I long for the day when my head will line up with the good parts of my heart. I say "good parts" because I realize the Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick. Hmmm. That's something to think about for another day! The Bible also tells us that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. One of my very favorite verses is where God says he will give me a new heart. He will remove my stony (hardened) heart and give me one of flesh (tender). That is so beautiful and encouraging for me. That is what I want. A heart that is tender and true. I don't want to be messed up because my head and heart are on two different wave lengths. Two different pages, and sometimes two completely different books!

In reality, that IS the battle of every persons human nature. The fight between right and wrong; good and evil. Most people, if they are honest, deal with these struggles on a daily basis. I know I sure do. So for today (and that's all I have), my prayer is that the Lord will help change my heart when it needs to be changed, and to be in control of my mind at all times. Whatever craziness goes through my head...I don't want it to land in my heart and start making a home there. I can't stop it from visiting, but I can sure pray that it leaves without a trace.

Here's to growing hope!

P. Torres

Monday, July 2, 2018

Essay on Loss

This past winter, I decided to take a Creative Writing class online, just to freshen up my skills. I'm always looking for things like that. Typically they are fun, enlightening, inspiring and give me new tips and tricks to help me be a better writer.

This particular class was a little different. One of the first pieces of writing that we were asked to do, was an essay on the loss of a loved one. Easy, right? I've been through that experience a few times, so I knew I'd have no trouble with that topic. I pulled out all the writings I did after Josh died, and put something together that was rather good.

Before turning it in, I decided to re-read the directions from the teacher one more time, to make sure he didn't have any particular things he wanted in the essay that I may have left out. Lord knows I've made that mistake before. Looks as if I did it again. Was I in for a surprise! Somehow I had overlooked the part where he stated that the person you write about, could not actually be dead yet. What??? I read the description again. 

"Write an essay about the loss of a loved one, that hasn't actually happened yet."

I saved the essay about Josh and put it into his own special file labeled "Josh" (not very creative, I know) and opened up a new blank page! Blink, blink, blink goes the cursor. I had a feeling I was in trouble. Who wants to write about someone they love that has died, when they are still here? So I started down the list. There was absolutely no way I could pen words about my children having passed away without the emotion overwhelming me. My grandchildren? No way! That was a non-starter. That would be harder than writing about my own children. Sorry guys!

So, I had to make a decision. Soon. The essay was due in two days. I thought I was going to have it turned in early. I was wrong!

The winner of this crazy essay subject?  My mom. (sorry mom). I made it as light and easy as possible. I knew I'd never get through it otherwise. I chose not to focus on her death as much as how it made me feel. I refused to have something heavy and agonizing.

I recently made a promise to myself, that I was going to start seeing myself as an author, instead of just a person who loves to write. This is what my editor told me to do. She encouraged me to post old writings of mine. The good the bad and the ugly. And to write at least 1000 words everyday. I write something everyday. 1000 words of something? Not always. I'm getting better at it. Some days its 500 other days its 2500. The point is: write everyday.

Here is the essay. It's different, but I hope you enjoy it. By the way, my teacher gave me a nice review on it. And mom? I am so completely grateful every single day, that you are still gracing this Earth with your presence. Your life is such a beautiful example of living life to the fullest. You are my biggest fan. Here's to living forever with heaven as our eternal place of residence - Just not yet!

Essay on the Loss of a Loved One (that hasn’t happened yet)

By P Torres

                                                             01/05/2018

They say the passage of time heals all wounds.  What happens when time moves so slowly that your wounds start to fester?  The infection builds into a fever of constant pain and loneliness.  The mere thought of waking up to a new day, becomes terrifying and exhausting.  So you choose to stay in.  Stay in bed. Just one more day.  That’s it.  Tomorrow will be a new day with its own list of “to-do’s”. Shower, food, devotions, pay bills, call mom…oh wait.  Mom’s no longer around.  She’s in a “better place” and is “dancing on the streets of heaven.”  We should all be happy that she is free from pain.  Free at last! 

Somehow, my heart and my head cannot wrap their arms around that concept. Not yet, anyway. My head knows it, but my heart is just not their yet. I’m not ready to feel “joyful” that she’s gone. Maybe I never will. Grief looks different on everyone and has no timeline.

Yes, God knows and sees all things.  He knows how much I loved and wanted my mom to be healthy and live another 10 years, at least.  So why didn’t He heal her?  He’s certainly more than able.  He’s God.  He created the heavens and the Earth for goodness sake, so why not heal one 83 year old 110 pound mom? Asking Him, seems a little rude.  But I do it anyway. With respect, of course. His  answer? 

“My ways are not your ways.  My thoughts are not your thoughts…one day, it will be clear that I needed her with me in heaven more than you needed her there on Earth. So trust me.  I know what I’m doing. We’ve been through this before. It’s going to be okay.”
 
Trust is easier said than done, but do, I must. (Okay, that sounded a little like a quote from Yoda).

The passage of time is still moving slower than this broken human being would like.  The front door is looking slightly better than the bed nowadays.  That’s a good sign.  Maybe tomorrow, a walk to the mailbox will be a step in the right direction.  Maybe the sun shining, won’t make my heart feel resentful any longer.  Maybe…

Someone once said that change begets change; and repetition reinforces repetition.  Truthfully, none of us knows what’s coming around the next bend.  The only way to discover where you fit in when you feel empty like this, is to just step out of the routine. Routines are comforting though; until they aren’t. It’s scary stepping out of the boat.


President Reagan once said, “The future doesn’t belong to the faint of heart, it belongs to the brave.”  So here’s to being brave…tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mom's Motivational Minute

Yesterday in church, I noticed that mom's come in all different styles.  Newbies...in the early stages of pregnancy; a little green around the gills, but excited that they will be a mama to their very own in a few months down the road.  Both anxiety and joy fill their faces.  The unknown lies ahead like a looming cavern of darkness.  The dizziness of all the advice, opinions and ideas that rain down around them have turned the cute little journal called "How To Be the Best Mom" that she writes sweet little names, dreams and prayers in, into a stressful and frightening list of things to watch out for and the do's and don'ts and have's and have-not's.  That newbie is still really excited, but she has learned a valuable lesson.  Keep the pregnancy a secret until you absolutely cannot fit into anything in your closet.  And... telling people too early makes for a very long 9 months.

Next, you have the beautiful young woman who has two children; great figure; gorgeous hair-do's and her kids are perfectly groomed; always prepared; and doesn't look as though she's had to wake up three or four times a night EVER.  We all just watch and wonder. Stand amazed and ask, "How does she do it?"

Then there is the mother of three or more.  The clothes are slightly wrinkled; hair is slicked back in a pony tail or top knot; kids have runny noses and have something spilled on the front of them or a button missing that you missed.  During the prayer for the prayer requests, she nods off.  When she opens her eyes, she notices the miss-matched socks of one and the other has enough dirt under their fingernails that you could grow a garden.  (My mom use to say that).

Then there is the mother of the teens.  She sits perfectly still.  She's the one praying and reading her Bible.  Her hair has started to turn grey and she is chewing her lip or pulling at her hair.  She wears a constant crease of worry down the middle of her forehead.

Then there is the mother with all of her babies out of the nest.  Grown, married and starting there own lives.  She is completely relaxed.  Praising the Lord; smiling, singing and looks as if she has swallowed the pill that removes all stress, wrinkles, and sagging.  She has done her job.  She no longer has to be on constant "mom-mode" or "teaching mode".  Now is when she can start reaping the benefits.

Then there is the mom with her grandchildren.  The joy; the happiness and satisfaction just radiates from the church pew.  She is content in a way that never could have happened any other way.  Her children may not rise up and call her blessed just yet, but her grandbabies do.  As they age, the pressure and stress of watching them go through tough times; trials; suffering; temptation, etc...almost feels as if the cycle is starting over.  But wait!  It's different.  Grandmothers get the joy of loving unconditionally; teaching without having eyes rolled or the sassing back.  Grandchildren listen and learn and are interested.  When they lose interest and decide they've had enough...Grandmothers get to send them home.  There job isn't over, but this time, there job is to just love them, pray for them and be their when they need you.  Because, they will need you.

As you can tell, I'm in that last group of mom's.  Kids are grown.  I have five grandchildren and I'm so in love with each of them that sometimes it's hard to breath when I hear that they are sick or struggling with something.  It's different then it was when I was parenting.  I can't really explain it, but its just a unique and special kind of love when you become a grandmother.
 
My point in all of this writing, is that there are all different kinds of moms.  Tall, short, large, petite, light, dark, loud, quiet, listeners and talkers, comediennes and serious ones, introverts and extroverts, organized and clutter bugs, minimalists and shabby chic, ones who love the outdoors more than the indoors, ones who focus on crafts and DIY stuff and those who buy everything because they don't have a crafty bone in their body.  Some are spunky others are lazy, some are shoppers and others get nauseous if the wrack goes round too many times.  Bottom line?  It takes all kinds, because there are all different kinds of baby humans that need mothers.

God knows exactly which baby and mama to pair up together.  He doesn't make mistakes.  It is true that there are some women who are not necessarily "mother models."  They may have given birth, but for some reason, that maternal instinct just didn't kick in.  That doesn't mean it never will.  I know women who are wonderful mothers, but when having very frank and honest conversation, they admitted that they just weren't comfortable with their children when they were newborns/babies.  Some just do better after the child gets older.  School age, even.  Others find complete ease with the newborns and young babies.  It comes naturally to them.  They may struggle as the child gets older and goes through that 12 - 18 year age span.  I think if we were all truthful, we would have to admit that there were certain stages in our children's lives that we did better with than others.  That doesn't make you a bad mom.  It makes you human.  I had a woman tell me that until her child started talking, she just didn't connect with them at all.  She did the necessities.  Food, clothing, hygiene, protection.  She loved them, but just didn't really identify or connect, until later.  Once they started communicating verbally and getting older, the mom was completely involved and had an amazing relationship with each of her children.
 
For me personally, I adored the whole babyhood stage and toddler stage.  Even the early childhood 5- 10 years of age was fun for me.  When they turned 12????  Honestly??  I would have happily sent them to an island to be raised by someone else until they were 18.  That may sound harsh, but there were definite times when I felt that way.  Just sayin! 

And I LOVED being a mother.  It was the one thing I felt I was actually pretty good at, even with all the mistakes and missed opportunities and the words that came out of my mouth that I could never take back.  I still loved it.  My children were (and are) my sunshine, my greatest joys, my greatest accomplishment and my biggest fan club.  I always figure I didn't do too bad of a job at being a mom, because both of my kids still love hanging out with me.

 It's a mysterious transition, the change from "mom" to "friend."  I often think that if my children weren't my children, and I met them somewhere such as work, church, grocery store, restaurant...I would want to be their friend.

Mom's wear so many different hats throughout their children's lives.  As newborns, mom is their protector and provider.  From toddler to young adolescence, she is their teacher, trainer, mentor.  Through the teen years, she is still their teacher, trainer, drill Sargent (oops, did I really say that?), listener, motivational leader, biggest fan and confidante.   Like I said...lots of different hats!  And that wasn't nearly all of them.

So mom's, don't stress about being perfect and raising perfect kids.  Trust me, you're fighting for something that isn't realistic.  Just love them; that's you're prime responsibility.  Teach them by example, but make certain you get yourself fixed first, before you try to fix them.  You can't help someone else unless you've helped yourself first.  Remember about the oxygen mask in a plane.  You put yours on first...so you can live long enough to help the others.  Get your own self in order before you expect your children to be in order.  They are followers; little sponges and will follow your lead whether you're going in a positive direction or not.  They trust you that much.  That puts a great deal of opportunity on your shoulders.

Just keep doing the best you can.  Love God; love your husband and pray for joy unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding.  And your children will rise up and call you blessed, or at least give you sticky kisses and awkward hugs and tell you daily how much they love you. The "blessed" part may not happen when they are 13 and an alien has invaded their brain for the next several years, but trust me, it will happen.

Keep your chins up moms...You've got this!

Just thinking out loud.

P.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Someone Once Said...

Someone once said that the past is written.  It's done.  You can't fix it or change it.  But the future is a blank page.  It isn't written yet.  So get busy living. 

I like that.  Even as a Christian, I know what happens at the end of the story, but I don't know what happens in the middle.  That's the tough part.  Even as a writer, I can come up with awesome beginnings and exciting endings, but the middle part?  Well, that's not always easy.  Beginnings are great.  Everything is fresh and clean and new.  Even if its not, you at least know you have the ending where everyone lives happily ever after...Right??

It's all the "living" that goes on in the middle that is filled with ups, down, in's and outs, good and bad, hope and discouragement, joy and heartbreak, good choices and bad ones, loves and losses, great success and horrific downward spirals... and the list goes on and on.  

That's the middle.  Doesn't sound too glamorous does it?  Truth is, the middle is the biggest chunk of our lives.  The honeymoon faze doesn't last forever, right?  No matter how great of a relationship you have.  Eventually it gets down to the daily grind; the nitty-gritty and the sometimes ho-hums of daily living.  The amazing job that you worked so hard to get, always starts off with excitement and challenge.  The new office; the brand new equipment; the pay raise and better benefits.  Then a few months in, they ask you to work late.  Then they want you to come in early, and pretty soon, you're missing meals with your family and the kids are already in bed asleep by the time you get home, and you are already gone when they wake up.  You see where this is going.  And, I'm not saying that this means there is a bad ending; I'm just saying that this is the middle of life!  The hard stuff.

So here's to all of the great authors out their who write great beginnings, real middles and wrap it up with a satisfying ending.  

Someone once called it, "the middle C of life."  There are so many notes above and below that middle C, which makes the song a thing of beauty.  For all of those that feel like they are playing that one note all day long, let me tell you, don't be afraid to extend yourself and play the other notes.  Those keys that you used to tinker with in the early part of your story?  It's ok to play them now.  Just make the song a little different.  Add a few trills and runs; go ahead and play the song in adagio (slow and restful) or allegro (fast and lively).  Add the drums, change keys, slip in the flute or french horn, change the beat all together... 

My point?  Don't be afraid or bored of the middle part of life.  Don't get so caught up in someone else's story that you lose your own. 

Don't let your tragic flaw be your inability to change.  Remember, the only time machine we have in this life is the one we're born in, and it only goes forward.  No one loves a great "time travel" story than me, but I also know that is just science fiction.  Great fiction, but fiction non-the-less.  

The great Marcus Aurelius  (The philosopher king) said, "The universe is change.  Our life is what our thoughts make it."  

Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death..."  

Words have an incredible impact.  Particularly in those people that you have a connection with.  The closer you are to someone, the bigger the impact their words have.  A husband can destroy is wife with just words, and a mother can build courage and bravery in her children with just her words.  That places a great deal of responsibility on our individual shoulders.  Watch what you say.  The tongue is small, but it can bring good or evil to someone else's world.  

In closing...

Someone once asked the following:  "Do you ever wonder why God gave us one mouth and two ears?"

Just thinking out loud,

P.  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Changes

I don't know if anyone else is feeling it, but I can hardly believe that April has already said goodbye for 2018 and Summer is barreling down on us oh so swiftly.  Before you know it, the year will be half over. It really is true, that the older you get, the faster time seems to move forward.  I don't consider myself old, yet I am most assuredly experiencing that out-of-breath feeling that says life is passing me by in a blur.

As a child, I could hardly wait for my birthday, Christmas, Easter, last day of school and the first day of Summer.  It felt like forever before I was able to get my drivers license, my own car and a phone line in my bedroom (yes, this was way before cell phones). 

Time and changes seem to go hand in hand.  Someone once said, "time is free, but it's priceless.  You can't own it, but you can use it.  You can't keep it, but you can spend it.  Once you've lost it, you can never get it back."  

As life passes in a rush to reach the finish line, it's not unusual for me to start panicking.  My instinct is to reach out and grab "time" by the nap of the neck and say, "slow down...what's the rush?" Then I realize that time is like sand.  The tighter I grab on to it, the faster it slips through my fingers.

Someone once told me that the past is written.  It's done.  You can't fix it or change it.  But the future is a blank page.  It's not written yet.  So get busy making your legacy!

Most of the time, that's easier said than done.  Because who you want to be, doesn't always win. There are some things that can never be understood.  Sometimes there are tides in the universe you can't swim against.  Sometimes doing the right thing, doesn't always turn out the way you thought it would.  The only way I can find peace through all of it, is in trusting the God who created it all.  If He's got the whole world in His hands, then He certainly has me.

Yes, change is hard.  Whether you are saying hello to something new or saying goodbye to something old, both can be challenging.  Change by choice, is exciting, freeing and exhilarating.  Change by force is terrifying and relentlessly hard.  The great news, is that the God of this universe has it all in control.  He knows and sees all things. His love, grace and mercy will get us all through those times when we feel like we've been turned inside out, upside down, shaken and stirred, until over time, the angels look down from above and say, "looking good. What's next?" 

Change is never ending in this journey we call life.  We're rubbed, sanded, molded, chiseled, polished, broken, mended, until one day, we come to the end of our travels, and hear the sweetest of all voices say, "Well done."

Until then?  Remember, He knows your name and if He had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. 

P.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Passing of a Gem


Last week, my family experienced the passing of a dear friend.  The loss was felt by each of us in different ways.  Her name was Ruby, and she was a gem.  The close relationship she had with my mom, made Ruby feel like an aunt to me more so than my real aunts.  

Ruby and her husband Vernon came into our lives when I was just a little girl living in California, and continued for 50 some odd years after we moved to Arizona. That's a long time.  Cherished friendships like that, don't happen very often anymore.  

When I heard that Ruby had gone to be with Jesus, my first thought was that this world felt a little smaller without her.  Colors seemed a little dull. 

Ruby and her family spent many many hours in our home around our dinner table, eating, playing games, planning events, cooking, singing around the piano and organ and various other things. 

I don't really have any specific memories, but I can share some observations I had of Ruby over the years and a few lifelong lessons that I learned along the way.    

1:  She had a great laugh, and loved to do it.  It came from that deep place in the belly that brought tears to the eyes and pain to the sides.

2:  Her hair was typically what I called...BIG.  Now keep in mind this is coming from my thoughts as a young teen.  All I could think about was how much hairspray she must buy.  She was always perfectly coiffed, though. Oh, and she smelled really good. Wish I could remember the perfume she used.
  
3:  That smile!  It was lovely.  When she smiled at you, you knew she meant it and you couldn't help smiling back.
 
4:  She was a straight shooter.  I'm not talking about pistols, I'm talking about saying exactly what she thought.  If you were shopping with her, be prepared for honesty.  That outfit you loved while on the mannequin?  May not look quite as appealing on you.  If you asked Ruby, she wouldn't mince words.  But don't get hurt, trust me, that woman had good taste.  You're better off without the dress.

5:  Ruby was fiercely protective of those she loved.     
  
6:  She liked cleanliness.  Correction...she loved it. I honestly don't know if Ruby got that from my mom, or my mom got it from Ruby.  I'm nothing like the two of them were, but still, I'd like to think some of that rubbed off on me.  I'm happiest when my kitchen is clean!

7:  She was enormously proud of her daughter Michele.  She had every right to be.  For me, even though I was like the "older cousin" I found myself a tad bit intimidated by this beautiful young genius. 

Ruby always seemed a little in awe of the fact that she could have raised a child so amazing.  I never doubted it one bit.  Ruby and Vernon may have had their struggles and challenges in life, but one thing they were in total harmony with, was their little girl.  Michele was their world.  Their heart and soul.  They did an amazing job.  Michele, you are a beautiful legacy to your mom and dad.  
 
8:  Ruby and Vernon's adoption of Michele, was my first experience of understanding what "adoption" was all about.  After many years of watching the three of them, and seeing the bond of love that was formed and nurtured between parent and child, I was continuously reminded of my heavenly Father and how he chose me to be His child.  He adopted me.  His love for me was perfect, just like Ruby's love for Michele was perfect.  Not perfect, as many think (with no mistakes), but perfect as in "complete."
  
9:  Ruby loved my mom and mom loved Ruby.  They were best friends for as long as I can remember.  Their friendship was something that taught me a great lesson.  How important loyalty, honesty and being a kindred spirit is, in a relationship.

I had the privilege of watching them  pray together, until the answer came; laugh together until their sides hurt and the tears fell; cry together until the burden was lifted; shop together until they dropped together; hunt for antiques together until their trunks were full; plan weddings, receptions, bridal showers and baby showers together until they came off without a hitch; cook together, sing together, clean together and worship the Lord together...And when mom moved to Scottsdale, distance did not seem to be an issue.  No matter how much time passed in between, they always picked up where they left off.  

Watching the two of them over the years made me want a friend like that.  A kindred spirit friend.  I'm grateful to say, I've been blessed with a few. I am so thankful for their example to me as a young girl, of true friendship. 
 
10:  Ruby had opinions on most everything.  Some thought she was blunt...to me, it made her interesting.  Sometimes they made me laugh, and other times they made me ponder. But rarely did she leave the room without giving me something to think about.  

11:  She was a good cook, (yummy banana nut bread); she loved her dogs; (and they loved her.)  She could sing and loved listening to good music.

12:  She loved the Lord with all her heart and soul and she had passion. 
  
13:  I have many fond memories of all of us going to Furr's Cafeteria after church on Sundays.  She thought it was hilarious when I got older and told her that it was an "old peoples restaurant." 

I will miss Ruby. I know she's having the time of her life in heaven right now. And I am absolutely certain she is enjoying her new body.  As much as she loved life here on Earth and loved her sweet daughter, Michele, she would never give up heaven for one second to come back. 

Her race is over, and her crown is won.  I'm really hoping her crown has Rubies on it.  Wouldn't that be just perfect?  I think she'd like that.  So this isn't goodbye, it's just so long until we meet again.   

Just thinking out loud,

Pam    

Trying To Remember -

I woke up this morning with an idea that started taking root in my imagination. I really have no time to venture into another story line whi...