Joy…and Burnt Toast While You Wait

The time on the spiky clock on the farmhouse wall said 10:30 p.m. A coveted time for me in my childhood.

It was “nightlunch” time (Russian tradition) at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the farm. Grandpa found his usual spot at the end of the table within arm’s reach of a little side table where the green transistor radio lived, telling of the farm market news by day and “Classics Till Dawn” serenading the kitchen on CFAM by night. It was a portal to the outside world on their farm, located deep in the heart of the country.

The toaster was a best friend, perched beside the transistor for the night lunch where grandpa adjusted the toaster knob just right…burnt. The resulting blackened toast was then slathered with thick patches of real butter. It filled the kitchen with an aroma that seemed to say this coveted nightly ritual had begun.

It was my favourite time of the day or should I say night. Along with their night lunch, the local Carillon news paper visited the farmhouse table on a weekly basis, every Thursday, picked up by my grandpa at Guenthers store in the small town of Grunthal a few miles down the road from the farm.

As the paper opened wide with all its grandeur, my eyes chased past the sports, jobs, etc… eagerly trying to steady my heart as I searched for the weekly Carillon feature; inserts of three to four chapters of a children’s book.

This particular evening I was excited to practice my reading skills of the classic Where the Red Fern grows after my last bite of Grandpa’s perfected burnt toast. My grandma help me with the bigger words as she and Grandpa listened intently as we all got lost in the world of young Billy with his hounds, little Ann and old Dan.

It was magical.

Letting my eyes scan as I was reading, I felt a bit sad knowing a few paragraphs to go and I would need to wait another whole week to start the next couple of chapters to find what would happen next.

Sometimes in life the answers we are looking for and have prayed fervently for, take us on a journey; sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, and sometimes yearly…too long for our hearts it may seem. We eagerly anticipate the next chapter and all that encompasses.

Life rarely lets us finish a book in one day.

Let each chapter give you courage as you anticipate the answers to your book in that season of life no matter what the final chapter may reveal.

Enjoy the chapters along the way as you may have to wait. Our God Love’s when we rest in Him as we wait for the answers for the next chapters. How we wait is important to our faith, our mind, our hearts.

Surround yourself with those that make the journey easier. Friends, family… Those that will share the good and the not so good chapters of your life. Those that will sincerely listen to your “readings” of the chapters of your life and encourage and rejoice and will help you with the “big words” when you just can’t.

The memories of those days of the night lunches and the weekly chapter readings of Where the Red Fern grows were highlights in my life and have a special place tucked deep in my heart.

I may have had to wait from week to week for the answers to the next chapter, but I still enjoyed the moments in my childhood, a few chapters at a time and everything that surrounded that time around the farmhouse table, especially the night lunch and the company of my grandma and grandpa.

Live.

Really live…

in the short or long moments in between the chapters of your book ( life’s series of events). Enjoy each day as you wait. Don’t hold your breath.

Breathe.

Enjoy the pieces of life that make the journey enjoyable.

Enjoy your “butter slathered coveted burnt toast”…

and have JOY while you wait.

Nothing Has Changed

My eyes fell longingly on the tiny house my six-year-old self had lived in as I passed by on the familiar sidewalk across the street, the towering trees of yesteryear draping over me as a canopy as if to protect what my memories were made of.

My little dog dancing happily at the end of her leash beside me had never walked this path before, totally oblivious to what this walk meant to me. But I had before… Many times… Years earlier and only periodically now.

My heart wanted to live down memory lane for a while again as my mom’s birthday approached. Her first birthday in Heaven.

Our ideas of life and how to live may have differed a whole lot most of the time but there were a few things that glued us together, and that warms my heart and hers I would imagine.

The tall row of mature evergreens that had been the home of me, my sister and brother s climbing adventures, were no more. The view to the small front porch was now panoramicly unobscured. It looked a lot smaller than I had remembered.

Old snapshots in my family album had me and my sister posing in homemade matching blue Spring jackets and warm toques for good measure (as Mom was always cold, and naturally we would be cold too) smiling nicely for the photographer which most likely was my dad.

My dad was the picture taker in the family. I still own boxes upon boxes of old slides as proof.. memories…treasures…the passion I believe that has passed down to me as I live behind every shot as memories are captured in time of my family and life.

The cracks in the cement driveway showed its age as it had lived through at least 50 birthdays.

I remember the evening my grandma and grandpa came with their big yellow loader and gravel truck with the family business name printed on the side door, to create the fun cement driveway I would play on for many years to come. It looked different then. Smooth, even, no cracks, uniform in colour.

Not so now 50 years later, yet it still frames the memories made on it as a little girl riding my second hand banana seat cherry red bike, back and forth. It was a magical time in my childhood.

I glanced at the living room window and my mind went back to the piano that had lived across the room against the back wall, Christmas gifts always stacked high on any surface but the keys, the vintage green sofas, and the record player with eight-track tapes held neatly and precisely in a holder on top. The 70s green curtains framed our view of the outside world in every season.

The small kitchen window was still as small as I had remembered, bringing back memories of a small 60s arbrite table with four matching chrome chairs where life was lived, morning, noon, and night. The small vintage fridge tucked into the corner held all our daily provisions, but my bigger memory brought a large bottle of brown looking cod liver oil liquid to the forefront. It was either that or liver once a month… I’m not sure that was a choice.

Many a homemade pot of soup was made at the small stove by my mom from her fresh produce in her yearly large garden. I can still smell the intoxicating aroma. A fresh green bean soup dotted with ham and of course my favorite, summer borscht which I make for my family now many years later.

As I rounded the corner into the street facing the backyard, the row of lilac bushes that seemed so enormous as a child didn’t seem quite so anymore to my eyes 50 years later. The backyard held many great memories of plays of imagination created for the neighborhood moms with all the kids of all ages. The moms came willingly from each of their homes throughout the neighborhood leaving perhaps some baking, canning, sewing or just maybe a much-needed cat nap, just to come support their kids and their excitement in sharing these plays they had created with each other.

It was a different time.

And then my eyes fell on the “big rock” now almost completely hidden by tall grass. It seemed so small now. 50 or so years earlier, I’d feel like I was living on the “edge”so far from my home as I would sit on it reading my book or just simply enjoying nature around me. It now seemed so insignificantly small, yet my memories of it were still big.

Continuing my walk with my Chyna, I came back to the present. Many memories had happened during the years we had lived here fifty years ago. Much was the same in my mind and heart but much was different in reality. Seasons change. Others now lived in the same walls I had made memories in, now making their own, completely oblivious to mine.

As much as we may want some things to stay the same, life doesn’t work that way on this planet. Seasons change, things change…people change.

But what I’ve come to know and have more understanding about it as I have more birthdays on this planet, in all my seasons of winters, springs, summers, and fall,

is the Love of my God.

The pathway to His heart has no signs of aging, no cracks in the cement showing wear and tear of it. Doesn’t matter how many years I have had.. Life changes…

But He does not.

The same Love He had for me in that tiny little house in the years of my first birthdays, is the same unimaginable love He has for me today no matter what my seasons and memories look like.

He has promised that He is the same Yesterday… Today… and Forever.

We may not see Him accurately because we may be looking back to a place where we once lived, walking down a path, perhaps away from Him, cracks and all. We may remember it all differently because it was what we saw then through the filter of our heart that may not have believed that his Love changes not.

Some memories of my childhood bring an intense warmth to my heart that will stay forever. But no matter how life has changed, and it always will,

He loves me. He loves you.

NOW.

As fiercely and as vast and as deep and as grand as He has since before you were born .

I pray that I will look longingly on this Truth and have it ring truer than any other memory I have. A truth in which all my memories can be filtered through.

Go down memory lane. Reflect in the good and the hard, and when you do… paint the memory with a brush dipped in His unchanging love for you.. for me.

For as much as life changes always.. Our Rock… Our Anchor… Our Redeemer..

His love doesn’t.

Nothing has Changed ♥️

What If…

What if...

you had nothing to prove.

No prosecution,(your own mind), no jury( your world) just the most compassionate judge ever,(our God) bringing down a resounding judgement of : Case dismissed.

What if

fear, anger, resentment, anxiety, unforgiveness, and more had no power to hold your heart hostage any longer.

What if

you canceled your “subscription” to the regular delivery of offenses and say return to sender.

What if

the need to defend your heart was washed out to the farthest sea never to be found.

What if

you only carried what was yours to carry, relieving the tired muscles of your heart and mind. Someone else’s feather is still too heavy for you.

What if

you stopped paying a price you were never meant to pay with your heart (boundaries).

What if

you could see with fresh eyes and hear with fresh ears.

What if

you came to the end of yourself and merely turned around…turned away from this life/ mindset that doesn’t serve a purpose any longer, that has abused your heart and mind for so long.

What if

you could breathe deeper, sleep sounder, laugh longer, smile wider, sing louder, give deeper, receive deeper…. Love deeper.

What if

you became who you were always meant to be, nothing more… nothing less (Fearfully and wonderfully made, body, soul, and spirit).

What if

you had nothing to lose…except yourself.

It would be a brand new day A brand new life.

So what if

you start living your new day… now.

Find the Truth that sets you free. Why you live the way you live. Go deep…Because that’s where it lives.

Don’t be afraid. The lion of Peace, Joy and love is a lot less scarier than the roar of the Lion(lies) that has held your heart captive for so long. Our God longs to reveal to us/you what you need to change your mind about.

It’s that simple. It’s that powerful.

He is so excited for you.

Sit with Him. Ask. Listen.

Now is a good time.

Now is what we’ve got.

WHAT IF

You CAN Do This!

Frantically pressing any button that might recover my social media account, my heart sank deeper and deeper as pictures and posts disappeared in what seems like an instant.

There is more to life than social media, yes… yes there is, but pictures and videos are near and dear to my heart and may mean more to me than others. Friends can be re-invited, posts can be re-written, and much can be resumed, but my life is in my pictures…how I do life with my family…my heart.

The instant grasp of emotional fingers on my heart didn’t want to loosen so easily. I stopped clicking on what seemed like all the right buttons and I just sat there… seemingly frozen.

My inner voice raced straight to auto default: “This is too difficult…”You’ve always needed help… you are not capable…let someone else do it for you.”

My mind traveled back in what seemed a second to times in my childhood I had heard these things and carried them into my adulthood. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever ask for help by all means, but there are times we may need to just close our eyes, breathe, and take a chance at attempting something we never thought we could.

Change the message.

In my job in the education field, years into my adult life, a teacher nonchalantly, absolutely not knowing what it would do to my mind and heart, told me what I had been attempting to navigate on the computer program to teach my student, that “Even a child could do it.” I was not a child….I was 40. But in that moment…my heart said I was a child… And I will surely not capable.

I was not very computer savvy till that point but definitely not after that. I froze in my mind and hoped and prayed I would not be put in a computer class again. But you guessed it… there on my schedule glaring at me was not only a basic computer class but a specialized class. My heart sank. These thoughts had already traveled as far away from the memories of “You’re not capable and even a child can do this”. But now it gripped my heart mercilessly it seemed once again as it surfaced and stuck in my throat saying ” YOU CAN’T DO THIS!”… louder than ever.

I jolted back from my deep thoughts to the present social media saga. I intentionally started to take one step. Why now? I’m still not entirely sure.. but it was time. So I started, one click at a time. What did I have to lose?? Well… all my pictures and videos yes, but I really could lose way more than that.

I could lose ME.

The ME that was fully capable of solving problems in my life no matter what they looked like. Even a digital problem which was not my strength.

I let myself breathe…and start to believe… believe that I could.

I started to navigate through different prompts, all bringing me to a dead end solution. And then, I started thinking differently and looking at the problem from a totally different angle.

I had let my mind and my heart breathe and had told it something else. Something I had not heard much of before. I started navigating again and was pleasantly, and dare I say excitedly surprised as each click brought me closer and closer to the solution. The lies that I had believed for so long seemed to get smaller and smaller as I realized my attempts were getting my account back.

And then, with one last click of a button… there they were…

all my pictures… all my posts… seemingly just waiting there to be found. My account had been tampered with extensively, so chances were weak, and I could have ended up with no result. But either way,

I pushed past my fears that had taken root so long ago…The lies of “You can’t do this.”, and replaced it with

“YOU..CAN..DO..THIS.”

It says the Truth sets you free. True. But only believing it can set you free. Believing what God says about me and my abilities and confidence started me in a different direction in my mind and in my heart in that moment.

What lies have you been told and believed for so long that have been buried deep inside your heart and mind?

Do they all point to the “You can’t do this”?

Today….face the LIE. Face the problem. Toss it out…. replace it.

And let the words of your God.. your biggest cheerleader… ring louder than anything else you hear in your mind and heart and hear Him say…

“YOU CAN DO THIS!!”

***(only months later, the dreaded computer class challenged me to say to my heart…”I can do this.” And it became the knowledge I needed to create the cover for my upcoming book IN THE MOMENT.♥️).

#weALLcandothis!!