What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Emotional Hide and Seek

Shh. Be quiet. Don’t move. Hold your breath. No one will find me.

I know all the best places. The house is huge, castle-like, with lots of spots to get small and invisible. I know the best six places. No one knows I can fit in these spots. They don’t know how small I am. I just have to be quiet. I just have to make sure I don’t move when anyone is around. No one has found me yet in these places and I never tell where I was.

Sometimes I’d “hide” where I knew I’d get found. There are places that someone always hides in. Those places are sure to be looked at: behind the curtains in the living room, in the dirty laundry cart (yes, under the dirty clothes; yuck!), behind the bar counter, squeezed in next to the furnace, under a bed, in the front closet, in the pantry cupboard, behind the couch in the family room, covered up in bed (making the bed a mess; I never “made” my bed anyway), behind the chair in the living room. I let “It” find me every once in a while, so when I didn’t want to be found I’d get small and hide in one of MY places. Sometimes I took a flashlight and a book – I knew they would stop looking once they got tired of hollering out, "Olly olly oxen free!" If I was in one of my secret spots, I’d either stay hidden until no one would see me emerge, or I’d just stay hidden so I could be alone, be safe.

Soon all those favorite, secret places will belong to someone else. My mom is selling my childhood home. It’s about time. Keeping up on all the big and small jobs around a “castle” is hard for a family joining together to do it. It is too much for any one person. It is too much for my growing older mother. She’s had lots of help for the day-to-day things, most significantly, from my brother-in-law. He has mowed the lawn. He has snow-blowed and shoveled the snow. He has reached up high. He has taken trash out to the curb and the laundry up from the basement. And so much more. I want to publicly thank him from the bottom of my heart. I want my sister and brother-in-law to know I’ve trusted them to do what Mom needed done as best as they could.

This will not be my final good-bye. It is good-bye for now. Oprah said good-bye over the last three days for 25 years of her show. It will take me at least that long to say good-bye to the 51 years that my childhood castle has been central in my life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

To Kick the Can

The air temperature begins to cool. The humidity is less than it was all day. The hours of swimming in the pool are finished for now. The day, however, is not over. A new segment of the day begins. It’s late evening, approaching dusk. The neighborhood urchins appear shortly after dinner is over.

From now until the streetlights come on. That is the window of time available to play outside, before all the parents get uneasy and expect all the kids to return to their own homes.

The game. To kick the can. Loosely formed teams and alliances, but everyone out to protect their own existence (and to prevent becoming a defender of the can). The starting defenders move into position near the can sitting in the open on the street. A designated person kicks the can and everyone scatters.

The exact logistics of the game are elusive as time has passed and details fade. What doesn’t fade is the memories of jumping over fences separating one yard from the next, and the smell of fresh cut grass while laying low trying to stay out of sight (but close enough to the can to possibly get close enough to kick it). Trying not to get in trouble by the neighbors (usually the neighbors without kids of their own) by tiptoeing through flowerbeds and/or vegetable gardens.

The streetlights come on according to a schedule set up by some adult that does not know the kids do not want to go inside yet. Another summer day is done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Basement

I took a stroll down memory lane earlier this week. And it was good.

I viewed in my head, heard the sounds, felt the sting, tasted the blood, and felt my abdomen tighten as we all broke out laughing at each other. I felt the cool tile on my summer-hot bare feet. Then I duck . . . almost hit but not quite. I hear the whiz by my ear. There’s a lot of scrambling as we tried to hide behind the couch, or boxes, or chairs, or the cupboards.

What’s going on? A war. A battle. Won one day; lost the next. It was serious business to us. It was play to any adult looking on – but they would walk, even run, up the stairs and out of the crossfire. We continued to fight on. The sides changed, randomly, from battle to battle, from day to day. We were relatively safe, unable to harm anything or inflict great bodily harm – the black eyes, round bruises, skinned knees aside.

The ball war. There were tennis balls, racquetballs, Nerf balls, and super balls (these hurt the most). Sometimes the combatants were just my sister and brothers, but sometimes a neighborhood friend would join us. The basement was practically kid-proof – okay, almost kid-proof – we did break an overhead fluorescent light fixture. It was a good place to hang out on hot summer days.

There was no air conditioning in our house, but the basement was always a steady, cool, comfortable temperature. It was a great place to read a book, watch TV, or play with Lego’s and Johnny West action figures. We celebrated birthdays there with friends (children’s parties) and with family (including aunts, uncles, and cousins). We had our regular Sunday family movie nights watching The Wonderful World of Disney, eating popcorn and drinking apple cider. It’s where my mom and dad told us that we were going to have a baby – my youngest sister was seven-years old. I was 11.

Visiting my childhood home brings back all kinds of memories. Lately the memories have been good ones. They are precious memories to hold onto when I start to think about the confusing things. Ball wars to baby announcements; the basement is one of my favorite places.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer: Selah!


Used 77 times in the Psalms (and three times in the book Habakkuk), this short word carries a powerful punch.

We see it all the time on television and in the movies. A person is hysterical, inconsolable, or panicking rending them unable to make or follow through on necessary decisions. These decisions may be a matter of life or death, but the hysterical person cannot calm himself, or look at a situation in a rational manner. Drastic measures have to be taken to get the person’s attention.

So a friend slaps him.

Another saying also addresses the need for drastic measures: You don’t have to hit me over the head with a 2” x 4”.

Frankly, sometimes a 2” x 4” or a slap is what I need to face reality. However, God gets our attention in much gentler ways. He could use a slap or a 2” x 4”, but He chooses to reach out to us gently, quietly, using a small, still voice. He asks us to quiet ourselves and just listen, to wait on Him to give needed help and direction. He puts up with impatience and complaining, but what He really wants is for us to follow the instruction He gives us through the writers of the Psalms: SELAH

Stop or pause, and contemplate. I’m not an expert, far from it, in being quiet or pausing. God knew we would need some direct instruction. A “Selah” is inserted in various Psalms at points where special attention needs to given. Often it is after a recollection of all the wonders God has performed. It says, “Hey! Stop! Remember! I haven’t changed! I’m taking care of you! Think about that and rest in Me!”

And a sense of wellbeing, peace, and serenity comes from taking such a moment to reflect upon whom God is and what God is doing. At least we are relieved of the noise in our heads and the external pressures for a time. It may be a few seconds but sometimes a few hours, and occasionally most of a day. Being refreshed, we can move out into the world and do what God asks of us.

Today, May 5th, 2011, is designated as a National Day of Prayer. Join me today in taking a few moments for following God’s instruction to Selah.