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The Spark

A tiny spark ignites

the forest floor ablaze.

Red-hot flames surge high

Starlight eclipsed by haze.

Fire consumes the thicket

exposing blackened earth

A perfect bed prepared

expecting the new birth.

 

Old sequoia smolders

Its pulse begins to pound.

Dozens of roasted cones

Shed their seeds to the ground.

Nurtured by rain and sun

Unseen by human eyes,

Pushing up from the ashes

Tender seedlings rise.

 

 

 

Are We There Yet?

What parent hasn’t heard this question from their impatient child on a family road trip? It’s hard for kids to wait. Sometimes it’s hard for adults to wait. How many times have you felt impatient when traffic slows down to a crawl? The older I get the more I realize life is all about waiting. Human beings stand in one long line waiting for their turn. We experience waiting in lines at stoplights, the grocery, or theme parks. And most of us have let out a sigh of frustration when we take a number at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I think ninety percent of my life has been spent waiting.

Here’s a list of seven things I’ve waited for this week:

  • For a prescription to be filled by the pharmacy.
  • For our carpet to dry after being professionally cleaned.
  • For our car’s hitch to be repaired so that we can pull our camper.
  • For my poison ivy induced rash to stop itching and go away.
  • For updates to be installed on my phone.
  • For more people to follow my blog.
  • For cooler temperatures. (A desire of many Floridians in October.)

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll come up with another list by next week. Sometimes delays result from my own choices. But delays which involve wait time usually depend upon people or forces beyond my control.

Does waiting frustrate you? I admit I have a hard time waiting.  Here’s a great quote from Joyce Meyer:

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait… it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”

When I was forced to wait for my prescription to be filled, I became angry. How dare the pharmacist go to lunch when I need my medication? Then I realized, I’m hungry, too, I think I’ll grab a sandwich while I wait and do a little shopping. Taking a break and eating something helped me accept the fact the world doesn’t revolve around me. I was able to be polite when the pharmacy staff took my order.

Sometimes I try to take shortcuts to decrease my wait time. If you’ve ever used the WAYS App while driving, you understand how the navigation system reroutes you around road congestion.

But taking a shortcut isn’t always the best way to deal with decreasing wait time. For instance, if the mechanic leaves a few steps out when he’s repairing our car, we could encounter a possible disaster on the road.

Stop and think, has the end result of anything ever improved because you hurried? Generally, the answer is no. Hurry makes us more anxious and accident prone. We can’t take ten days of antibiotics in one dose and hope we will get better faster. Physical healing is something we can’t rush.

Arnold H. Glasgow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

How do you deal with wait time?

Thank you for reading my blog, which by the way is a great way to pass the time when you’re sitting in a waiting room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting The Risks of Nature

Life is full of risks. Fortunately disaster seldom happens, or we would never travel in a car or fly in a plane. We would never eat out because restaurant food might give us salmonella. We would stay in our homes with the doors locked and the blinds pulled down.

Today I’m nursing a bad case of poison ivy… a risk I take whenever I tromp through a forest. I developed an allergy to this evil plant in my teens. My symptoms? A blistery itchy rash that drives me crazy, especially in the middle of the night!

Throughout my adult years my allergic reactions worsened, usually requiring one or two trips to a doctor for doses of steroids in order to get over it.  The only preventative advice the doctors ever give me is “stay away from poison ivy.” They always smile after they say it.  I think what they really mean is,”Good luck with that.”

According to the  American Academy of Dermatology, eighty-five percent of the U. S. population is allergic to poison ivy.  I guess I’m in good company. The above link offers more specific details about how to identify the plant.

Over the years I’ve become more adept at avoiding poison ivy by walking in the middle of any trail. I usually stay on the look-out. Remember the old saying, “Leaves of three, let it be.” However, my last adventure included scrambling over boulders in Shenandoah National Park.  Scrambling involves using your hands and feet to move vertically. When I grabbed hold of a rock to steady my balance, I touched a strange vine.

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Let’s put it this way, I was between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to keep myself from breaking a leg. Touching the weird vine was a total accident. Is that how I contracted this intensely itchy rash on my upper chest?

Although I always wear long sleeves and pants when I hike, I’ve learned that the oil (urushiol) of the plant clings to your clothes and shoes. Have you ever tried to change your clothes without touching them? It’s not an easy process.

By the way, urushiol can also cling to a dog’s fur. Buddy wasn’t with me on this trip, so I can’t blame the family dog for my irritation.

Every time I enter the woods on a hike or take a camping trip I put myself in danger. So far I haven’t decided to stop being “mother nature’s child.” The trails are too inviting, the trees too alluring.  At this point I’ve decided to accept the risks that go with my choices.

I’m thankful this is my first case of poison ivy in six years. That’s a pretty good record. If you’ve read very many of my posts you know my lifestyle. I can only offer this advice: Evaluate the risks, do what you can to avoid them, but continue to follow your passion.

Are you a member of the “I hate poison ivy club?” Leave a comment and let me know of any tips you might know to lessen my misery.

 

 

 

 

Souvenir Picture

The click of seatbelts

secured our bodies for transport.

As the Malibu’s engine accelerated…

we stared at the road ahead.

Not talking.

Not ready to accept

the expiration date stamped on our vacation package.

Both of us knew that Grand Junction

marked the intersection

of Adventure Avenue and Mundane Road.

In the rear view mirror,

the snow-capped San Juan Mountains

taunted us all the way to Montrose.

A vast panorama,

impossible to box up,

mail home,

or stuff in a suitcase,

jumped into ur Chevy

and hitched a ride.

 

 

My poem, Souvenir Picture, first appeared in Time of Singing, A Journal of Christian Poetry, Vol. 43, 2016

 

 

The Dream

You and I

step into the boat.

It teeters

until we find our center.

Within the crystal current

minnows dart below.

Emerald leaves of aspen trees

wave a warm hello.

Soon canyon walls close in

narrowing the flow,

we have no oars, the rapids roar

nowhere else to go.

Yet, laughter bubbles from within

as the wet jets play.

The current carries the two of us

in our little boat…

forever.

Does Fear Trap You from Pursuing Your Dreams?

Two years ago my husband asked me to join him for a two-day guided mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. At first, I hesitated to give him an answer. I have no riding skills and I’m fearful of heights. His idea seemed out of the question.

Even so, I began to entertain the thought. I’ve always wanted the experience of being inside the canyon instead of standing at the rim, so I agreed to go. Once he made our reservations and flight arrangements, there was no turning back. In the meantime, I set my heart on trying to think positive thoughts about what might await us.

Have you ever allowed fear to keep you from following your dream? A few weeks ago one of my followers commented she wants to write more, but is fearful her work will be rejected by others. She avoids spending time writing by busying herself with other activities until she no longer has time available. Her fear has become a source of self-protection.

I appreciated her honesty. Good for you, the first step to overcoming fear is acknowledging it.

Author Tosca Lee said something I will never forget. “Write like no one will see this.” Writing like no one will see it chases fear away and permits us to create. We need to banish the self-critic in order to let our thoughts flow onto the paper. Until we engage in our art, we seldom move forward.

It’s true that not all of our creative works are worthy of publication. Rejection goes with the territory, whether it be from an editor, a friend, or a spouse. My husband is my sounding board. Sometimes he proofs my work and says, “I’m not getting this.” Then I know I haven’t made myself clear. Time for another revision. Rejection can make us better writers.

Accept the reality there are people who can write better than you. Comparing ourselves to others chokes our creativity. Our current culture demands instant success. But how do people achieve success? First, they decide to start. Then they decide to continue. Most marathon runners begin by competing in a 5K. Slowly, they continue to build their stamina by participating in longer races.

We can receive encouragement from Scripture when facing fearful situations. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 29:25. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

Just like a snare traps a small animal, fear traps us from pursuing our dreams. Pray for courage to throw off fear and trust God to take you where He wants you to go.

When I descended into the Grand Canyon, I didn’t look to the right or left of the trail. I kept my focus straight ahead on Olga, my mule. Olga, you know the way. You’ve traveled this path many times. As Olga continued to steadily plod along, I began to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the canyon. For more details about the trip, see my previous post entitled, Trust and Obey.

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Ask yourself what matters. Are you content to stay in your comfort zone? Is it time to stop viewing the canyon from the rim?

 

 

Do you like your job?

I think most people would agree there are things they like and dislike about their job. In my featured photo I’m shown working at my desk when I taught third grade. I look happy. Maybe this was taken on a Friday after school dismissed!

Now that I’m retired, I look back on my career with amazement. How did I do it? How does any teacher manage to fulfill all the expectations of the position? The only way I survived was by learning how to multi-task. Somehow teachers manage to take attendance, listen to morning announcements, and keep an eye on the class all at the same time. Jacks of all trades, teachers fulfill many roles.

On Labor Day, we pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. For most workers our jobs are the most important thing in our lives.  After years of working at the same job, we begin to identify ourselves by our career. When introduced to someone, we ask, “What do you do for a living?” This pattern continues during retirement, “What did you retire from?”

It’s difficult for people to retire because it’s hard to imagine a life without work. Some feel like life will have no purpose or meaning. I’m often asked, “So what do you do all day?”

“I fill my days in much the same way I did during summer vacation. The big difference is I never reach a date on the calendar when I start to feel anxious about school starting again.”

We confuse the value of our work with the amount of money we receive for it. When I stayed at home to care for my preschool children, I received no income, but the experiences we shared were invaluable. Our “self-worth” should not be dependent on our level of income.

Do you feel undervalued at work? Comedian George Carlin said, “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

Too bad Mr. Carlin seems to have forgotten, the butterfly once was the caterpillar.

One of my favorite scriptures reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23,24 NIV

If I work at something with all my heart, I feel content knowing I’ve done my best, even if no one else seems to notice.

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Engaging in our work changes us. Our “on the job experiences” teach us new skills. By trial and error we learn new ways of problem solving to accomplish our goals. Eventually we discover that like the monarch, we can fly!

Happy Labor Day!

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