Peer Pleaser

When we think of peer pressure, we often pin that concept on high school kids. Maybe middle school kids as well. But that is certainly not the case. People strive to fit in all through their adulthood too.

I was an awkward teen growing up in Waukegan, Illinois. It was a difficult time of figuring out who I was and where I fit in. And I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

My hair had a mind of its own. Not like the other girls’ fashionably, styled hair. I’d often hide my hair in a bandana. I didn’t wear all the latest style of clothing although I treasured my bell bottoms, overalls, midriffs, and tube tops. My height was tall to where I did feel quite awkward. At one point, my best friend and I were 12” apart in height. Awkward. I was taller than the majority of boys my age. So when being made to dance in gym class, I believed I could die from the humiliation. I just knew that everyone was watching me. Like I was THE biggest thing in the gymnasium. So I thought. All through high school, I felt like a square peg being forced into a circle hole. I would have done well being homeschooled.

Trying to fit in was something of a challenge. I was insecure with a poor self-image. Body shaming was what I did best. So I took the path of least resistance. I became a part of the neighborhood “gang”. Not like in how the term gang is used today. Gang, as in a group of like-minded kids. No violence connected. No name given to designate who we were or what we stood for. Just a group of kids who would sneak out at night, drink Old Style beer and cheap Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, smoke cigarettes, and occasionally, pot, and laugh together for a couple of hours before going home and to bed for school the next day.

In my high school, which is no different from any other, peer pressure was intense. More like a pressure cooker. We all wanted to be liked. We all wanted to fit in. We would often sacrifice who we were to fit in with the cool kids, the smart kids, the athletic kids, the rich kids, the renegades…anything to be to feel a part of something we thought was bigger than ourselves. And when we didn’t fit, it was devastating. Peer pressure.

While not all peer pressure is bad, sacrificing the good in you just to belong is. Bullying, making fun of, or talking smack about those outside of your circle is a clear indicator that you are pressured by your peers.

As an adult, I see this cycle continue. Although it’s more about being peer pleasers. We certainly see this in politics. We adapt to the area in which we live. We take on what the majority around us believes. Throwing our own beliefs under the bus and disregarding what God says concerning particular topics.

We would rather please our peers than stand for truth in many instances…just so we fit in and are liked. Did we truly ever grow up?

Peer pleasers are often weak people. Many times there’s a giving and receiving of favors from one another to maintain a distorted relationship built on falsehoods. Sacrificing their own personal beliefs to fit in. Like fitting in gives some sort of leverage on life. I guess on some level it sometimes does. Money, power, control. But it’s all temporary. And it’s all empty.

Leaving what we know to be truth to chase something that is truly untrue gives us only shallow gifts in the long run. Anything built on a foundation other than God’s will fail. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the end it will fail and we will experience an even greater emptiness.

Being true to yourself (and to God) is the only way to find peace. Compromising truth to keep a so-called friend (or group of friends) is a lonely place to be. And you know this because you feel that truth deep within your soul and it doesn’t give you rest or any sort of peace.

Don’t be a peer pleaser. Stand up for what is good and perfect in the eyes of God. Then you can find the peace that surpasses all understanding, Philippians 4:7. ♥️

Andi

You are Beautiful

Original post: July 18, 2021

All life was created by God. And when God created man He saw that man should not be alone. So God designed something wonderful. He created woman. And from those two, God created family. God looked over all of His creation and said it is good.

Today we see the very essence of woman being mocked and stripped away. Some men compete in women’s sports. Some men say they can menstruate and nurse babies. This is a slap in the face to every women who has ever or will ever walk this earth, and a spit in the face of men. It is truly a mockery in the face of our God. Something that He does not take lightly.

When God created this special woman to be with Adam, He knew exactly how to design her. She needed to be strong both mentally and physically. Her body would have unique demands placed upon it and God made her body perfect.

Man was also created perfectly for his role as husband and father. He was made strong to work the earth and to care for and protect his family and his home. He is unique in design as well and both sexes were created with boundaries. There is a reason why men and women cannot cross over. And it is really very simple to understand. God is not the author of confusion.

I Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…

What happened to the days of encouraging those with poor self-confidence, low self-esteem, and poor body image to love who they are? To embrace their uniqueness of the skin they were born in? Now we encourage them to change who they are by taking them to the U-Pick Gonad Store just around the corner to choose their new set of whatever. And where hormones are sold like liters of pop. But strangely no one can change the very essence of who they are because, you see…God had a hand in their design. No one can change their specific building blocks. Their DNA. Their unique code in life.

Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…

God is not the author of confusion.

And God will not be mocked.

We spend so much time on things that distract us from doing what He has asked of us. People are spending their whole lifetime (and money) trying to get their sexuality figured out when God already did that for them. Time and money that could have helped other people and for just causes. We’ve become extremely self-centered. We have this need for instant self-gratification. And I truly believe that selfishness is root-cause of all sin.

Those who are trying to cross over want us to accept them yet they don’t even accept their own self. Why is it up to us to keep up with their constant changes and pronouns? And if we don’t, we are the ones who are condemned for being intolerant.

Psalm 139:14. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Embrace who you are. You were designed by God Himself. And you are beautiful. Truly, you are. ♥️

Andi

Photos: Golden Trout Lake, MT and wild geraniums, courtesy of BB

“No, I can’t”

Original post, April 20, 2020

“No, I can’t.” I’ve told myself this a thousand times. “I can’t do this anymore.”

It’s horrible to feel that low. I’ve been in that place many times. I know how it is to feel helpless and alone. It’s very difficult especially when you have the responsibility of a home, and children who rely on you as their leader. And their leader falls apart.

With the changes of today, I can only assume that the number of people saying, “I can’t” has risen. I am sympathetic towards all the challenges that people are now facing as many are losing jobs, businesses are closing, children are schooled at home, and the future is just a huge question mark. My problems are not near as desperate as others, but that doesn’t make mine any less real or unimportant. I still have to figure out ways to handle mine, just as everyone has to deal with their own. And it’s really hard at times.

But the one thing that holds true for me is that tomorrow is almost always better. And if not tomorrow, it’s the next tomorrow. And I rejoice in that day.

It is very important to realize that just the thought of “I can’t” limits the ability to move forward. Negative self-talk depletes our energy and breaks our spirit. Try to focus on the positive. Take one day at a time. Do what you can, but give the rest to the Lord.

I am grateful for the friends who are a support to me, and for those who call to see how I’m doing. No words can express the gratitude I have for them. One of my best friends recently called because I had been quiet. I talked and he listened. Then he talked. He helped me to see that some of my stress is basically self-inflicted. I put unrealistic pressures upon myself for things I have no control over. I appreciate how he handled the conversation. If you feel trapped, talk to someone. Talking can help to sort things out. Sometimes that’s all you need.

I am thankful to God as He always makes a way. He blesses me continually. I know I shouldn’t worry or stress, but I do. I’m afraid of making wrong decisions. I’m fearful of many things. But He never fails.

I hope that you look to God for guidance and strength. Times are too difficult to handle alone. God is bigger and greater than any problem we have. It’s hard to remember that at times but we should keep Him first and foremost in our mind.

Thank you for reading my posts. I always hope that each post gives you something to smile about, or inspires you in some way. At the very least, I hope you realize that you are not alone. I appreciate you.

Always always be grateful…♥️

Andi

Photo: top: sunset at People’s Pathway; bottom: sunrise at my home

V*O*T*E

Vote because your voice needs to be heard.

Don’t fall under the banner of “my vote doesn’t matter”.

If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

I find it a privilege to vote. It is a true honor to stand up for this country that I love so much.

In all things, God expects us to do our part.

I love this country and all that it was founded upon. I want that country back for my children and grandchildren. ♥️

Happy Voting Day!

Andi

The Need for Stress

Original post: April 30, 2021

Today was quite breezy. In fact, it’s been windy for the past several days. I love the sea breeze in my hair, but here at home, the wind blows my hair in my face when I’m trying to work outside so I have to pull it back. While I was burning the pile of branches and sticks, the wind blew the smoke in my face no matter where I moved. The wind can be frustrating.

The wind may seem useless sometimes and more of a nuisance than anything. But the wind is pretty important. What would a sailboat be without the wind? It would have no use for sails. What about the energy lost in a turbine field without wind?

Yesterday, I read something on Instagram about trees. Scientists once grew trees in a sealed biosphere. They couldn’t figure out why they were unable to stand up. Finally, they realized that wind is what’s needed. Wind puts a great stress upon trees; therefore, the trees must grow stronger in order to stand on their own.

This made me think of our daily trials and stresses. I know firsthand that my hardships have caused me to grow stronger. I believe that through hardships God can use us more fully. Maybe a better example is that of the Potter and the clay. God molds us by allowing the stresses of His hands to shape us. Without the stress we’d remain a cold lump of clay.

Stress gives trees the strength needed to be able to stand; to give us shade, oxygen, and home for many of God’s creation. And stress shapes us into something beautiful.

Stress. It’s not always welcome. Well, rarely ever. But we actually need it. Stress is a reality of life. Find strength in it and become as strong as the trees. Allow God to guide you through it all and shape you according to His will. ♥️

Andi

Photos: a ship in Maine, 2017; an angry sky over a turbine field, 2017; a windy day in Florida with my sister, April 2, 2021

Butt Chicken

Original post: July 17, 2020.

When my youngest was about two and a half years old, she began saying a strange thing. We heard “butt chicken”. It sounded funny so we laughed whenever she said it. That encouraged her to repeat it. It got to the point where she was saying it quite often (we’d laugh). And when she was upset with her siblings, she would stand firmly, with her hands on her hips, and call them a butt chicken (and we’d laugh harder). I remember we were in her dad’s office one day and the receptionist got so angry that we allowed her to call her dad a butt chicken. She didn’t actually call him that but that’s how the receptionist took it. Her dad found it funny too so it wasn’t a big deal to him.

For a solid year, it was butt chicken this and butt chicken that, until one day, when her speech became clearer, we figured out she’d been saying “munchkin” all along. Munchkin, butt chicken. Can you hear it? Needless, to say we had another great laugh. After a year, we were finally able to put butt chicken behind us. (Pun intended.)

I love children and their sweet innocence. I love laughter at funny things. Put children and laughter together and I could stay there forever. I miss my young ones but their laughter is still music to my ears.

Cherish those fun moments with your kids. Especially, the moments that last a year.

Have an amazing weekend and be ever so grateful for the silliness and laughter of children.♥️

Andi

Photos: Flickr.com; ithinkwecanagree.blogspot.com

Depressed or Depression?

Depression is a very real thing. It’s something that is hard to see or understand. It often runs deep and dark. It can be disguised by laughter or hidden by an outward appearance of happiness. Listening to what someone is not saying is probably key to recognizing depression.

I do not live in that darkness although I think some have wondered about me. What I am is a person who thinks deeply and feels everything intensely. I carry the woes of this earth on my shoulders and in my heart. I am a healer of sorts without the ability to heal everything. I am often unable to fix things in my own life so I feel trapped. Caged. I may have moments or days where I feel depressed but my life is not grounded in depression.

My life is quiet, subdued. Boring, actually. But my mind is not. My mind is adventurous. It is daring, challenging, motivating. It is always questioning and forever dreaming. It’s filled with what if’s and possibility. It is also stifling, fearful, and conflicting. Maybe this is due to being a Gemini and the twins rarely, if ever, agree on anything.

Being deep in thought is serious business to me. I might be thinking of a situation I could have handled better. Or maybe how I need to handle a current situation. I could be taking mental notes of something I need to write about. That happens more often than not. I get quiet. My face and jaw are often tense. I tune people out sometimes. Not intentionally though. I’m just buried in thought not depression.

There is a difference in depression and being depressed. We all get down at times. Life isn’t fair. We feel cheated and often we are. Loved ones are taken from us. Someone else gets the promotion we were counting on. Friends leave on a misunderstanding. A divorce that caught us off guard. Gas is 5 cents cheaper two miles down the road than where we just filled our tank. Life is not fair. And sometimes we feel buried beneath all the unfairness. It’s why we need Jesus who gives us hope of a better place. A place of fairness. Heaven.

Listen intently to those closest to you. Listen with your heart because not everything is audible to your ears. Being depressed fluctuates with the ebb and flows of life. Depression is deeper and much harder to recognize. We are simply passing through this life to something better if we cling to Jesus as our Savior. We need to lean on His promise, and onto each other. ♥️

Andi

Change

I like change. I just don’t wanna be there when it happens. ~Monk

If you ever watched Monk, you’ll find humor in that quote.

I talk about change a lot. I am one who doesn’t particularly like change. Even when I see a beloved actor age or die, I consider it to be a change in my life. Somehow I feel it’s altered me in some way. Maybe it’s just impacted my vision, in that nothing, or no one, lasts forever…or even stays the same.

Change can be difficult.

But then there are good changes too. Seasons come and go and each bring with it it’s own mystery and beauty.

my seasonal photos

Changes come almost daily with my grandchildren. Juneau started walking on her own two days ago. A couple of my grandkids are just beginning their long school journey. Thankfully, from home.

screenshot from the video of her first steps

You hate to say goodbye to baby days, but the joy children bring to each new day, with their unique personalities and stages of development, are changes you just don’t want to wish away.

I have been experiencing changes in my life lately. I’m referring mostly to the internal changes which I believe are of greater importance. I am discovering who I am on a deeper level and coming to terms with where I am in the present time. Not that I’m not continually striving to be a better person because I am. I’m not stagnant. But I am more at peace with the things I cannot change.

Embrace the good changes in your life, and learn from the not-so-good. Change is inevitable so we need to accept it. ♥️

Andi

The Pot

I wondered if my parents had gotten rid of these pots. We had two. I’ve seen these in antique stores and thought about purchasing one but it wouldn’t be the same. Then my sister sent me this picture yesterday. She asked if I would like the other one. Why, yes, I would!

It’s hard to believe that my mom cooked dinner for a family of five in one of these pots. Serving sizes were probably more correct, and therefore, healthier back in the 60’s and 70’s when we were growing up.

Mom made a delicious tomato soup in this pot. The best part of it was the bacon she added. I have her recipe. In fact, I have most of her recipes. I need to go through them again. Most are in her handwriting.

Two of the best meals to come out of that pot, no the three best meals, were Mom’s homemade spaghetti, our grandfather’s Hungarian goulash, and Dad’s gaucho Italian beef. Mmmmmm….those were the days.

Mom’s spaghetti sauce took all day to cook. She’d start that sauce early in the morning and it would simmer until Dad got home from work between 5 and 6. I think the secret to it being the best spaghetti sauce on the planet was the pork chop she threw in there in the morning. It simmered with the tomatoey ingredients until the bone came out clean. I remember those days, usually on a weekend, when the mouth watering aroma of that sauce filled the our home all day long.

I’ve tried to make Mom’s spaghetti and never got it to taste the same as hers. I guess because it was hers. You know, made with her love.

The goulash I’ve replicated and it is very good. And Dad’s gaucho beef…well, he bought it ready-made, Chicago style, probably from an Italian deli, and heated up in that pot. Then he made these delicious sandwiches with sweet peppers on special rolls. I found some Italian beef in the freezer section of a grocery recently, and while it’s not quite the same, it will do until I take the time to find an authentic recipe.

My sister remembers Mom making popcorn in that pot. I don’t recall that but I’m sure she had to make a couple of batches.

The picture of that pot on my sister’s stove, boiling potatoes, sure brings back memories. Mom’s potato salad started in that pot. Oh! and I remember when Mom was boiling eggs and they all exploded from the pot and hit the ceiling after the water boiled out. What a mess that was! I’ve done the same. I get it honest, kids. 😊 I could go on and on. Such good memories.

I think today I might go through some of Mom’s recipes and dig out a couple of favorites. And while I’m at it, I might dig out a pork chop from the freezer. ♥️

Andi

My Favorite Color is…

…O C T O B E R.

I posted this one year ago today. The breathtaking photos are so worth sharing again. I truly am sad to see October go.

I’ve fallen in love with the color of autumn gold. I recently bought a t-shirt in that color. In a pretty white font, the print on the shirt says, Fall is proof that change is beautiful. This has been a season of change for me…and for the most part…so far…it is beautiful. 🍁🍂🌾

I hope you enjoy October’s last days. Even the rainy ones are beautiful to me. Just like today.

Be grateful for the change of seasons. Each is unique and filled with delightful pleasures, beauty, and blessings. My love is autumn in October and I’m sad to see it go. I wasn’t done with it yet. ♥️

Andi

Photos: all mine. First six, Maine, October 2019; last eight, near my home

There is a Place…

pathway near my home

There is a place I go where I find peace. It’s not just one place, or two. It’s many places. It’s wherever the breeze finds me. It’s where I hear birds and tree frogs. It’s where I watch squirrels dart one way and then another; seemingly, without rhyme or reason.

I find peace at my perfect lunch spot, in the notch of a circle drive that nestles me up closer to the woods. The huge trees hang over me like a canopy and even on the hottest days of summer, they keep me cool. With the windows down, the breeze finds me and, I find peace.

view from my perfect lunch spot

Breezes from across the sea along the rocky Maine coast, that tangle up my hair, and those that breathe across the sandy beaches of the Gulf are refreshing with their salty tastes and smells.

a rocky Maine coast

The sun is an added blessing to the breezes in a day. And the crispness of a midnight breeze with the moon and stars above make me feel small and appreciative.

I love the outdoors. Away from the hustle and bustle of work and town life. In the solitude, I am closer to God. He is the breeze that touches my soul and brings me peace. And I am grateful for all of his creation.

I ran across this writing and it fits me. I’m not sure who Emelia is, but she gets it.

I am wishing you many moments of peace today. ♥️

Andi

Autumn Morn

Golden streaks of autumn sun,
Shoot through the forest trees,
Enhancing every color scheme,
Contained within the falling leaves.

A spider’s web hangs gracefully,
Created skillfully through the night,
Glistening with the morning dew,
A chef d’oeuvre of pure delight.

The air is crisp and clean these days,
It refreshes my very soul,
And awakens a youthful spirit within,
Once again…I feel whole.

Grapes adorn the twisting vines,
Shades of purple, orange, maroon, and green,
This kaleidoscope of color and taste,
Beckoning me these vines to glean.

Though I walk alone, alone I’m truly not,
For my senses are my friends this day,
As I behold God’s awesomeness,
In the beauty of this fall display.

October 3, 2012

While I’m grateful for every season, autumn is my favorite. My manager, Sydney, and I were discussing this today. There’s something special about fall. It has a sad, but happy presence. Melancholy. Maybe because the beauty is short-lived. It is the season where everything you feel is magnified, but in a good way. The air is crisp and I, personally, feel more alive than any other time of the year. There are so many wonderful scents of autumn. Piles of raked leaves, a bonfire, a walk through the woods, and hot cinnamon apple cider all leave you wanting more. Romance is in the air too, complete with warm arms wrapped tightly around you, chilly noses, and interlaced fingers. It’s just all so perfect.

I truly hope that you can find time to enjoy this season in all its glory. Don’t put it off because autumn doesn’t wait for anyone. She leaves as quickly as she arrives.

Be grateful for autumn. ♥️

Andi

Photo: origin unknown

Made Complete

I noted in my last post that I am still willing to learn the life lessons that God presents to me. Actually, I’m excited about learning.

I was taught a great lesson just this morning. A lesson in which I discovered myself to be in error concerning a topic I preached most of my adult life. I felt the quick, sharp pain of this realization in my heart. And I will admit my error wholeheartedly.

I just finished a personal Bible study on being single. It was a four-day devotional I found on YouVersion. Sometimes if I am doing a study on my own, I will finish it in a day. Today I finished days 3 and 4. Day 3 was a life changer for me.

Sunrise, October 6th.

I used to write often about the relationship of a husband and a wife. How they should complete each other. I’d write about my desire to be in a relationship with a man who would complete me and I, him.

But today I see how wrong I was in my thinking. We are not half of a person to be completed by another.

A quote from my study: God never said the halves will become one flesh. He said, “the TWO will become one flesh” (Mark 10:8 NIV).

Isn’t that a simple concept? Two complete beings come together. Not two halves. Why was this so hard for me to see all these years? God is the only one who completes us. Our significant other is a bonus, a gift.

Men and women are quite different and we compliment each other because of those differences. Our strengths and weaknesses balance out the relationship. God completes us as individuals. The union is blessed as two complete beings come together to build something spectacular. God’s design is perfect.

I had to share this thought with you today as I have spoken so many times about finding that someone to complete me. God never suggested that concept, ever. It’s funny how we can manipulate feelings, wishes, and dreams into our own reality and make it truth. Actually, it’s kinda scary.

Proverbs 3:3-8

3. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.

4. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding.

6. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

7. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

8. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

I have searched my whole life for someone to give me something that they cannot. How unfair to burden another with such a heavy load of expectation and demand. Give me completeness. That’s just an impossible request.

Find your completeness in God. Don’t expect someone to give to you what you cannot give to them. ♥️

Andi

Photo credit: Mattea

Our God is An Awesome God

Our God is an awesome God. Or better yet, our God is THE awesome God. My sweet Belle was the inspiration of this simple post today as she sang this song to me this morning while wearing her Princess Belle dress. There’s nothing more precious than hearing a child praising God in song.

I fail him so often but I ask for his patience as I am still teachable. And I want to learn. I feel if I reach a point where I am no longer willing, my presence here is no longer needed. I desire to be a strength and support to my children and grandchildren, most importantly…even if I don’t always have all the right answers.

Nehemiah 9:6
You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Praising God for all the blessings he has poured upon my life each and everyday. He is ever-present and ever-loving.

God is awesome.
His way is perfect.
His Son is perfection.

I hope this beautiful song finds a place in your heart throughout this day. ♥️

Andi

AWESOME GOD

When He rolls up His sleeves He ain’t just putting on the ritz
(Our God is an awesome God)
There’s thunder in His footsteps And lightning in His fists
(Our God is an awesome God)
And the Lord wasn’t joking When He kicked ’em out of Eden
It wasn’t for no reason That He shed His blood
His return is very close And so you better be believing that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

And when the sky was starless In the void of the night
(Our God is an awesome God)
He spoke into the darkness And created the light
(Our God is an awesome God)
Judgement and wrath He poured out on Sodom
Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not
Too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God (Our God is an awesome God)
He reigns from heaven above (He reigns from heaven above)
With wisdom, power, and love (With wisdom, power, and love)
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God

Written by: Richard W Mullins
Album: Winds Of Heaven, Stuff Of Earth
Released: 1988

A Different Drummer

Today would be my dad’s 81st birthday. Sadly, he left this earth before either of us were ready. It’s hard to let go of unfinished business. He and I had much left undone and unsaid.

As I was going through the treasures that I was given after he passed away, I found this rock. This describes his life to a “t”. It helps me to make some sort sense of all I found to be confusing and frustrating about him.

I miss my father. He was complicated. But so am I. He was a deep thinker. I am too. He was, ohhhhh…so stubborn. Am I? I’d like to think not. But I am very passionate about certain things. Where he found grey, I found black and white, and vise-versa. We shared many of the same traits…just on opposite ends of the spectrum. And at times, those differences separated us by a margin far greater than the east is from the west.

My dad seems to be even more present in my life now than when he was here. I suppose it is because of the unfinished business. He is on my mind more than any one person alive or deceased. My best friend passed away almost six years. We knew where we stood with each other and we shared such a fantastic love for each other for over 30 years before she died unexpectedly. Same for my mom. There was no doubt about our love-filled relationship.

But then there’s my dad. Ever present. Death hasn’t silenced his voice inside my head. I know that sounds creepy but truly, it is not. As I walk back through his life, I can now recognize all that he taught me without him actually having taught me. If that makes sense. I separate the good from the bad, and the good pushes me to do better. And all of it helps me to understand me better.

My dad definitely heard a different drummer and he stepped to that beat all his life. Unashamed. Unapologetic. Unrestrained. He truly was a complicated man, but an accomplished man. At least in the terms of the world. He set out to do many things and he did them all. Maybe he was seeking to fill a void that I believe he knew he had deep within his soul. He just couldn’t grasp what it was and maybe that was the restlessness he suffered throughout his life. Perhaps that restlessness is what pushed him to succeed in whatever sought. Regardless, he lived life fully…and I sure miss him.

After work tonight, I will go to Moore’s Bar and sit. Thirty-five years ago, long before I moved to this area, he frequented this bar. From what I understand the bar has not changed since. Maybe minor touches here and there but the detail is pretty much the same. I feel close to him there because he was there.

I will have a drink and wish he was sitting across from me so I could tell him one more time just how much I love him and I’d wish him a happy birthday. ♥️

Andi

Happy Birthday, Dad. ♥️

Flower Arranging

Today I enjoyed a special treat by a special friend, Pam. She invited me to a flower arranging class with her. Actually, her husband treated us. He knows her love for flowers and he did this for her and she asked me to come along. This was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning.

Pam lives 46 minutes from me and then the florist where the class is held is another 30 minutes from her. We hopped into her beautiful black charger and took off on this picture perfect autumn day. After traveling through many roundabouts (I could not live there) we finally made it to the shop.

I had worked for a florist for seven years. We were a small town business. Our store was also a gift shop filled with sweet treats, clothing, accessories, sorority items, and many other treasures.

This florist was located in its own classy brick building. Orchids greeted us when we walked in. I have a fondness for orchids. I was greatly impressed that the whole store was one huge design area. Where I once worked all the designing was in a back room.

There was a large walk-in cooler at the back of the store. Large tables were set up for designing. I was surprised at all the men and women working there. Loading up vans, prepping flowers and greenery, and creating gorgeous arrangements. I felt like I was in Santa’s workshop with all the busyness. It was a great feeling.

We walked past a bucket and Pam pointed out the roses in it. Lavender roses. My absolute favorite. They mean love at first sight.

Pam

Class started and as I pulled the guard petals of each rose, I thought of the beauty in each flower and how much flowers mean to me.

my finished arrangement

It didn’t take long to complete our arrangement. We started with the lavender roses. Then we added the greenery, the branches of brown leaves, and a tiny pumpkin. I was used to starting with greenery but this worked out nicely. Our autumn arrangements are beautiful.

Flowers soothe the soul. Pam is the human form of a flower and I appreciate her so much. We had a wonderful day together. ♥️

Andi

The Strength of a Mother

Mother’s are extraordinary. Moms are really super heroes often disguised in food stained aprons, messy hair, and unshaven legs. Their energy and will to persevere comes from deep within the center of the earth. That same place where my boys once said I made chili.

Moms are resilient. A mom sometimes runs off little to no sleep. She thinks ahead of her family’s needs and plans accordingly. She teaches. She protects. She loves.

A mom is not always made of steel and her shield sometimes drops to the floor. Don’t be fooled though as it’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a regrouping of sorts. She may cry a boatload of tears in the shower but then she dries herself off and exits as an even stronger woman. God was precise in His design.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter, Mattea, gave me one of best compliments of my life. This is in reference to my anxiety as her eldest sister, Denae, was admitted to the hospital to deliver her second child. Her first delivery, four years ago, was quite an ordeal with a lot of scary moments.

Mattea said, “Denae is a strong girl. She can do it. You raised pretty strong girls, Momma.

I did.

In fact, all three are exceptionally strong. Any one of them is so much stronger than I ever hoped to be.

My Denae was never afraid of this second attempt at child birth even with the memories of four years ago. No. My Denae has been confident. She’s been optimistic with a side of logical caution. At least she never led me on to any degree of reservation, fear, or anxiety. My Denae is a strong woman and an even stronger momma.

This second attempt at delivery was difficult yet not as traumatic as the first. It still required another emergency surgery. Luka was born last night. A big boy, almost nine pounds, and resembles his sister, Kota Bear. We are so in love. The amazing heart never fills of too much love. There’s always room for one more.

My Denae is the perfect image of a momma bear. She has that strength. Even at 5’3”, she is a mom you do not want to cross. (Maybe it’s the feisty Italian woman in her.) She is most certainly powered by love. A love that God designed from the very beginning and blessed womankind.

Praying for quick healing, comfort, and rest for my daughter. Her husband sent me this text last night: “Your baby girl did good.” Yes, she did. And I couldn’t be more proud of her. ♥️

Andi

Pokémon Go – AWAY!

I took my lunch at 1:00 as usual but I did not go to my usual spot today. I went to a different park. It’s the park where I ran my first 5k. It’s where my family shot fireworks for the community on the 4th of July. And it is the only park here with a pool. The pool is now closed. It actually closed when school started this year. What a short season. From my parking spot I can see the kiddie splash park, which is still open, but today no one was there.

I was relaxing, windows down, listening to my audio Bible study. A van pulls in a few places down from me. I see what appears to be a couple in their 30’s. They stay in the van with windows up. Both are looking down at their phones.

I continue listening to my Bible study when I see a girl walking toward me while looking down at her phone. She holds it tightly with both hands and close to her face. She stops near my passenger window and mumbles something.

“What?”

She mumbles again.

“What?”

Louder, she repeats, “Are you playing Pokémon Go?”

“No!”

She doesn’t flinch. She walks around the front of my car, barely glancing up as she continues on. She walks over to the van. The driver rolls down his window and they have a conversation. Apparently, they are playing this stupid thing too.

After a bit, the van leaves and slowly drives through the park. I didn’t pay attention to where the girl went. My only thought was oh, brother! people still do this?!

This girl walked through a park on a beautiful day and saw nothing. Granted, I know zero about this game but I feel she set herself up to be hurt or taken advantage of by not being fully aware of her surroundings.

When I left the park, I saw her down standing on a street corner with the phone in both hands and held even closer to her face. She just stood there.

I can barely imagine having free time at all, but if I had free time, to only spend it chasing something on my phone.

I told my daughter about this when I got home and she told me that people have died playing that game. She told me someone actually walked off a cliff to their death because the phone was in their face. I can’t even imagine this.

We certainly live in a warped reality anymore. Thanks to our advancement of technology to null and void the things of greatest importance.

*Being in nature but not a part of it.

*Not being present while in the company of others.

*Gaming over responsibility.

*Work ethics destroyed.

*The world is at our fingertips while our family becomes distant.

I miss the good, old days.

I thought Pokémon Go was a thing of the past. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I wish it would go away along with many other distractions we have in life.

I can’t help but feel that these distractions will cause us painful regret on our deathbed because they robbed us of time. Time we could have laughed more, hugged more, loved more. Along with all the treasures that give life quality and meaning. Regret is a horrible thing.

God didn’t intend for our minds to be so distracted. That is a tool of Satan. I encourage you this weekend to set aside distraction and be completely present in your life. Make good memories. Be kind and helpful. Connect with God. Hug someone you love, tightly.

Have a wonderful weekend. May you be filled to the brim with happiness and fulfillment. ♥️

Andi

What a Difference a Day Makes

I took the day off for an appointment. I could have just missed half a day but I never miss work and I need to start some self-care. I didn’t get paid but taking care of me has to be a priority. I haven’t been taking care of myself as you recall in recent posts.

I told myself I was going to do several things that used to make me happy. Well, I did. And I even had a very welcomed surprise at the end of my day.

Here’s how my day went.

First thing, I stayed in bed longer. Yeeehaaaa

I drank coffee while I did my Bible study and wrote. Then I posted on my blog. Writing always makes me happy. I received a wonderful comment on my post from a friend which made me even happier. She even invited me to visit her church. I post stuff and then wonder how they will be received.

I got ready for my appointment and enjoyed my music on my 40 minute drive. Nothing is close by here in the boonies.

I got a free car wash at my favorite car wash. Wooooohoooo!! My car was very dirty from having to take my daughter to work at the Barn on weekends. A bridge is being replaced so it’s six miles of gravel road! Dust gets in everywhere.

After the car wash, I went to GoodWill to look for fall decor for the work. Didn’t find anything but I had fun looking. I love looking for treasures.

Got home and took a wonderful nap after eating a healthy lunch.

Made a fall design for my personal office. Gosh, I miss making arrangements.

I messed with my plants which always makes me feel good.

Then I cleaned the inside of my car. You have no idea how much I love a clean car.

But….

While in the garage, my daughter heard Nyx cry. She looked up in time to see the neighbor’s dog running to his backyard. Nyx…oh my. Every strand of hair on her body was standing on end. She ran and hid. She wouldn’t even come to me.

I texted my neighbor. You might remember him from my post “Silent Revenge” and the one a long time ago about the Chicken Man. I probably didn’t need to start off my text using his words from his text concerning my lawn guy crossing into his yard, but I did. My bad. But, I’ll tell you that I did end my text on a good note. I told him I don’t want trouble between us and that I prefer we were friends. I said neighbors need each other.

He wrote back on a nice note and apologized. We conversed all through the evening. I apologized for my lawn boy getting in his yard. He was sorry about his dog getting into mine. We shared other things too that helped us to better understand each other. This was my great surprise of the day. 😊

Then I worked out. The little I could do was wonderful. I will get stronger. Baby steps. Ezekiel created a chart of things for us to accomplish daily. Slave driver.

So my day off was a good day. Could I use another day? Most certainly. But I’ll take what I can right now.

As for my post this morning about forgiving and letting go…concerning my neighbor…I let it go, as did he. If he were to come to me in the future and apologize for hanging the dead chicken off my porch and for telling the police I killed it, I most definitely will forgive him. But until then I am letting go. We made great strides tonight and I am grateful…and relieved. He even said he feels better after talking.

A good day in my book. I needed to share this with you before I went to bed.

Goodnight. ♥️

Andi

Forgiveness: Food for Thought

Ezekiel and I started a Bible study today on forgiveness. I have my own thoughts on this topic. I think there is a difference between “letting go” and “forgiving”. God forgives us when we ask for His forgiveness. Does He forgive us when we don’t ask? Why would He expect us to do something that He does not do Himself? If I am wrong in my thinking, I need to be shown.

Example: I do not forgive my ex mother-in-law or ex brother-in-law. But I have let them go and moved on. I realize that they have to live with their own sins as I have to live with mine. I choose to walk away from theirs.

Why would I forgive someone who is not sorry? Does God forgive me if I’m not sorry, remorseful, or repentant? Again, why would He expect me, a mere human, to do something that He does not do.

When Jesus was on the cross and He asked His Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do”, did God forgive them? No. Otherwise the Bible would have ended at the cross scene and it surely didn’t. Why?

Jesus paved the way, through His shed blood, to forgiveness. Sin is something that we need to recognize before we desire His mercy and forgiveness. We respond accordingly by repentance and asking for His forgiveness.

I am at peace with walking away and removing myself from the presence of those who have sinned against me, who continue to remain in that same sinful mindset, and have not acknowledged it. I am all forgiving when someone comes to me. The hardest person for me to forgive is myself. A work in progress.

Food for thought today. ♥️

Andi

I Gave Up

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking. I’ve been trying to figure out me and what’s changed over the past couple of years. Mostly, the last year and a half. Three words came to my mind: I gave up.

I was pondering the questions of why am I feeling so bad, mentally and physically? What has changed between 2019 and today? I was energetic. I was in decent physical shape. I cared.

Granted, much has changed in our world during these past two years and none of it has been conducive to good healthy minds and bodies. I will put most of the blame on that. We went through something horrible that not even our parents have experienced in their lifetime. It was something out of a science fiction book. A terribly horrific movie that we were forced to lived. We were beaten down mentally, separated from each other, divided, and confined.

I will admit that during those first two weeks of confinement to slow the spread, I enjoyed the quietness of the outdoors, the beauty of the sky, and time with my girls. But the reality is this: we shouldn’t have to be forced into a lockdown to recognize what is of greatest importance in our lives. I learned a great lesson from those two weeks. Treasure what is in front of you.

At that time I worked in long term health care and 2020 was a difficult year to say the least. Although, I love and miss the residents, I had to leave. I was forced out actually because of the differences between my beliefs and management’s mandates and what I believed to be cruel and unusual separation between the residents and their family and friends in their time of most need. I no longer felt part of the solution. I was part of the bigger problem that I was unable to fix. For my own conscience’s sake, I had to leave even though I felt guilt in doing so. I still do two years later.

I was then without a job for 2 1/2 months. I supported my daughter and myself by means of my savings. I had tried from May to October to get unemployment because my hours were greatly cut but the unemployment office said that I made too much money. $250 was, in their eyes, too much. While my ex-sister-in-law was given $1,000 a week for months in unemployment (which was more than what she made when working), I brought home less than $250 in earned money. How did anything in 2020 make sense?

Even though I made it through that year the stress of these issues broke my spirit. In December 2020, I settled for a job that I did not want. And I’m still there.

I took the desk job in a windowless office. From 8-5, I sit in front of three monitors in a high stress customer service job. I’ve gained weight. My mind is exhausted. It’s drained my spirit. I no longer enjoy much of anything. I’m so depleted at the end of the day that I can’t function at home. There’s no working out. No walking. No energy. No purpose. No desire. Everything I loved to do in life and everything that gave me joy is just gone. It even separated me from my family and those I love.

I have given up.

The compilation of the last two years can be summarized as a big ball of cancer. And it’s not just me that it’s consumed. It’s all of us, worldwide, in one way or another. The untimely death of people we love has also been devastating blows to the heart. But since I now recognize where I am, it’s time to pull myself up and out of this ball of cancer. I cannot allow this destructive state of mind to steal another day of my life.

As you recall from my recent post, my youngest son came back home. I won’t go into the circumstances surrounding his move home as it’s not my story to tell the world, but I will tell you about the growth in his spirit. The conversations we have are enlightening to me and I am learning much from my child who has gone through so much. I truly believe he could be an inspirational speaker.

I had him read a book when he first moved here. It’s called Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. It’s an amazing story of the human mind and the will to live under the cruelest of all conditions, in a concentration camp. This deepened his belief in how powerful the mind is and how its power can overcome weakness and tragedy in whatever our current circumstance.

All of this, his insight on all that he’s lived through and overcome, the lessons from the book, and our deep conversations have been inspiring to me. I think the combination of these things have brought me to full realization of my life this morning.

I had given up.

I told my son my thoughts. He was greatly pleased that I am able to acknowledge the current state of my existence, or nonexistence, which is probably a more accurate description of my life.

I got out of bed feeling more energized than I have in a very long time. I plan to beat this mindset and find myself once again. An even better me.

Today is another day one for me. I have plans to do things that used to always bring me great joy. It’s also the time of year where I feel my best. Autumn is a drug to me. It’s energizing, inspiring, refreshing. I will work off its energy and along with this new mindset, I will separate myself from the cancer. Now is the time to heal and repair the damage to my mind and body. I used to love taking care of myself and I will again.

Tomorrow I go back to my desk job. It’s going to be tough. But hopefully the things I do today will help me with tomorrow. And hopefully, I will never again fall back into the same trap of feeling worthless and empty as I have over the last couple of years.

Don’t ever let others (or a job) confine you, or more importantly, redefine you.

And don’t forget the place from where we are slowly exiting. Learn from the last couple of years so we don’t fall into the same trap again.

Do you remember the arrows on the floors in stores to steer you correctly down aisles? Can you actually believe we complied with that? Do you recall the circles on the floor that told you where to stand? Don’t forget these, please. We were compliant little lab rats and most definitely laughed at by those in higher places. I picture those people on the ceilings watching us move through the stores through the mazes they created. I can still hear their laughter. We were being humiliated and didn’t even realize it. And sadly, our spirit was broken throughout this whole ordeal. It is quite disturbing to know that this was/is intentional. You have the right to disagree. But following arrows and standing on dots do not stop the spread of disease. So humiliating.

Don’t let others steal your spirit. You have value. Don’t give up. Giving up was never in God’s design. Surrendering to His will is, but not to the unrighteous will of others. ♥️

Andi

Photos: St. Joe, MI, June 2017

The Guitar

Ezekiel and I had a discussion a couple of nights ago about how to make dreams come true. He said, “You need to break a dream into goals because you’ll never get to the top of the stairs without steps.” That makes sense. I told him I created a quote and had it specially made to attach to my office wall.

Determination behind the dream is key.

If only I would heed my own words!

I’ve written before about how my dad made things happen. He didn’t just dream things. He set goals and made dreams reality. Me…I’m stuck on the fluffy, cottony cloud of dreams. A safe place, I suppose, But in reality it’s a sad, frustrating place to live.

My dad had a dream to play the guitar so he bought one and taught himself to play. He later bought a banjo and played in a band in the ‘60’s. He wore black pants, a red and white striped jacket, and a hat. I know I have colored pictures somewhere but all I came across was this black and white photo. Dad is second from the left. In his later years, Dad and his wife played ukuleles with a group of friends.

When I was in high school Dad let me use his guitar so I could learn to play at school. My favorite song to play was Stairway to Heaven. I loved that guitar and spent many Saturday and Sunday afternoons sitting on my bunk bed just plunking away.

Once we moved from that high school to another state, where guitar class was not offered, the guitar was put away.

All throughout my life I’ve thought about that guitar and how much I’d love to play it again. But Dad had it with him a thousand miles away. I was busy with children and homeschooling so guitar playing thoughts were put on the back burner.

A close friend of mine gave me a guitar for Christmas a few years ago. I’ve gotten it out and tried to play but I would get frustrated with myself. I forgotten most everything. So the guitar was put away.

My dad passed in March of 2021. As his wife sorted through his things she’d ask us kids what we would like to have of his. The guitar came to me as no one else had an interest in it. I picked up the guitar a couple of months ago when I traveled to North Carolina.

I recently got the guitar out. Bittersweet feelings rushed over me. Dad put this guitar in its case and I took it out. The little compartment within the case housed a pitch pipe, picks, and guitar strings. It was quite an emotional moment. But my old friend has finally returned to me. It’s been 45 years since I last held it. Now it’s time to consider bringing our music back to life.

I don’t need to be a stellar guitar player. I have a couple of songs I’d like to learn and then I will be happy. Ventura Highway (America) and Harvest Moon (Neil Young).

Last year, I was on the phone with a elderly customer. He was quite talkative and somehow the topic of music came up. He plays the guitar and offered to teach me once I told him my story. I think I will give him a call.

The guitar is another connection between me and my dad. One of the beautiful connections. ♥️

Andi

God is Funny

As some of you may recall, I have the yard from hell. It has caused me much grief and has aged me about 8 years. At least.

I dropped 12 ash trees two years ago. My yard has never recovered. The damage from the trees falling and from removing them has greatly damaged my yard. I love my Husqvarna but it’s not powerful enough to mow my large ditch.

The ditch and weeds are out of control. I have been paying one guy to mow my ditch and another to weed eat. Last fall. I paid a guy $1,000 to help me. He did a few things for me. Then he said he’d be back this spring. Spring came, and in April, I messaged him. He said he’d be coming out as soon as the weather breaks. It is now September 10th. I think the weather has broken. Yep, $1,000. Gone. He’s the brother of one of my friends. That makes it even more frustrating…and unbelievable.

Being a single woman is difficult. Being a gullible single woman is even worse. I want to believe and trust everyone.

Men think and work differently than women. They are a compliment to women if you really think about it. A man wouldn’t hesitate to figure out a plan for my yard and make it happen. Even in mowing a yard. How do they mow in such beautiful straight lines? My yard looks like a complex maze. I know the neighborhood men must cringe whenever they hear me start up my mower. Men know how things work mechanically too. Like in how to take care of a Husqvarna. They know what to listen for and they’re not afraid to get on the ground and look under things. They just know stuff. Women know important stuff too. Just different stuff.

So in my loneliness as a single woman, I have prayed for a companion. Someone who can love and appreciate who I am…even if I’m not packaged as beautifully as in my younger years.

I have prayed that God would send to me a man to be my best friend and confidant. One who helps with the decision making and holds me on hard days.

And I have prayed for a man who will help me with my yard. I prayed for all of the above.

Now I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of the mind of God. I send things up to Him and He handles them accordingly. Yes, I prayed for a man to help me with my yard. And He answered.

God is funny.

God sent me a man. He sent me my son.

My youngest son had no choice but to move back home a month ago. Life isn’t always fair. And it surely wasn’t to him. So guess who’s been taking care of my yard?

I can sit here on my front porch swing and try to understand God’s reasoning, but that will get me no where fast. God is good and He is perfect. He knows what’s best. My son is here in a safe place. I am able to provide that. He’s taking care of my yard too. At least the areas where he is able to. That’s a blessing. But as for my other prayer requests, well…I guess I will keep praying. At least I know that God hears me.

I shared with my son the prayers I’ve been praying. We definitely get a good laugh out of it.

God doesn’t always answer exactly how we expect. And that’s ok. He’s not a genie in a lamp who grants wishes. He’s all knowing and all loving. Never stop praying because He never stops listening. ♥️

Andi

Praising God

Psalm 71:8
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.

My Christianity has taken me on journey through hills and valleys and unpaved, tumultuous pathways. I have seen the best and the worst in Christians and in church organizations. I have felt both safe and unsafe by things taught from the pulpit.

I’ve left congregations because of things taught as law but of which are truly a matter of conscious. I’ve seen where traditions have become rules simply because ideals were passed down through the generations of family within a congregation. Being an outsider is sometimes a blessing.

From the pew, I have been presented with distorted biblical concepts but also given lessons which connect-the-dots and guide me to a better understanding of God with greater love, admiration, and appreciation for Him. I praise God and the Holy Spirit for helping me discern between distortion and truth.

1 Samuel 2:2
There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

In this season of my life, sadly, I am without a church family. I miss it in many ways but I do not miss the conflict.

Currently, I enjoy the studies and devotions found on YouVersion. This morning I chose a three-day devotional which I completed in one sitting. It is titled “Called Outside Your Comfort Zone”.

The second part of the devotion was about not allowing Satan to steal your praise toward God. It was something I needed to hear.

Praising God should always be first and foremost in our heart and on the tip of our tongue. He has blessed us in innumerable ways. Some blessings we can see but probably most are behind the scenes.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

In this life we certainly have more distractions than ever before. Satan keeps us busy and we are readily willing to comply.

I read a quote this morning by Jon Kabet-Zinn:

Even before smart phones and the internet, we had many ways to distract ourselves. Now that’s compounded by a factor of trillions.

With distractions comes an unwillingness to praise God. Maybe it’s just an oversight and neglect. We are spent from all that has consumed our time and our thoughts throughout any given day. Satan will use whatever he can to diminish our time and desire for worship and praise.

This devotional reminded me that we do not have to be in the best spirit to praise Him. We do not have to be happy in order to give Him thanks. We can praise God through tears of sadness, loneliness, and pain. We can praise God when we are weak, depleted, vulnerable, and even when angry. We can praise God in the chaos of life.

Isaiah 25:1
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Praising God for who He is should not be conditional on how we feel or what we are going through. Even through our brokenness, God sees our heart and loves us.

Praising God strengthens us. It is our connection, our lifeline, between our soul and our Creator. Don’t allow distraction to break your worship and praise. ♥️

Andi

Signs of Change

I went to my usual napping place at lunchtime. A beautiful day after a couple of stormy nights. My parking spot in the park is in a shady nook of the circle drive which is covered by a canopy of heavy leafy branches on the edge of the thick woods.

I open my windows, lay my seat back…and listen. And I feel.

I feel a part of the breeze and of all the sounds. Even the earthy smell of the damp forest floor gives me peace. I watch the birds fly above me and for a moment I wish I had beautiful, powerful wings. I feel a part of it all.

I choose not to talk anyone. No texting or phone calls. I sometimes eat but not often. I sleep for only about 10 minutes. Fifteen, at the most. The majority of time is spent emptying my head and refilling it with dreams, thoughts of romance, and reminiscing of days long gone. I’m still a young schoolgirl at heart. Nature inspires me and I most definitely feel closer to God.

The girls from work think it’s funny that I do this everyday. That I can actually sleep and not set an alarm. But this is my quiet place to unwind and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Today, though, I could barely sleep. There was something new, but familiar in the air. It heightened my senses to another level. As in the anticipation of seeing a loved friend who has been away for a lengthy period time.

Change was in the air.

It is Autumn. My favorite season is just around the corner. Autumn holds many emotions for me. Happiness, joy in holidays and family gatherings, cozy nights, fresh crisp days, bonfires, romance…but pain, as well, in the loss of my best friend and our shared love for all that I have mentioned.

Still…this is the only change I truly love and look forward to. The people in my life know I’m not so good with change otherwise.

There are other signs of change appearing in my life presently. I’m hesitant to accept them with open arms. Fear of the unknown, I suppose. Only time will tell. But today…today my heart was light and happy.

These signs of change couldn’t have come at a better time. ♥️

Andi

Through Our Heart Line

My dad’s mother’s family is from Naples, Italy. I do not remember my grandmother as she passed away when I was about three years old. Sadly, my dad lost both parents about seven days apart, in separate hospitals, and both from heart disease. As I grew up, I thought Grandma looked like Judy Garland. Sometimes I imagined they were one and the same. That’s the fantasy of a young girl’s mind.

My grandmother wrote a lot of poetry. I always felt I inherited my love for writing from her. She was a very strict Catholic so much of her writing centered around that. After my dad passed last year, her writings came to me. What a treasure.

When I was visiting my father in Italy, he and I went to a little off-the-beaten-path cafe to eat. It was tucked away in a home that was converted into a diner. Every piece of furnishing was probably from the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. While the food was delicious and the cafe beautifully preserved in time, my father and I had a falling out of sorts. It was an attack on my heart and one of the worst altercations between us, ever. And while I won’t go into detail, it was a reminder of the power behind words. You don’t need to be a writer to understand that power. You need only to be its recipient.

My trip was in June of 2012. It wasn’t until October 31st of that year when my father called me. He said he was sorry for what he said all those months ago in that cafe. I never knew until that call that he even realized what he had said. And although I don’t believe he fully understood though the deep crushing pain he caused me, he apologized and that had to be enough. Then he sent me something he had written. I had zero idea until then that he even wrote.

This is the one and only writing I have of his. Maybe Dad wasn’t like me in that I have to keep everything I write. I guess writing is carried through the generations through our bloodline. Or, maybe it’s through our heart line.

The pictures attached are the walkway up to my dad’s home. In the picture below, the second doorway on the left is/was the tailor’s shop. I do not know the date Dad wrote this. I only have the date he sent it to me. I hope you enjoy this writing as much as I do.

The Tailor of Casoli (CH) Italy

He sits by the door as there are no lights, no electricity or water for that matter. Scraps of material hang on the wall with faded pictures and newspaper clippings of the past. Bits of cloth scatter the wooden floor. Dust clings to the underside of his sewing machine and all along the thin belt that drives his foot operated apparatus. Next to the cluttered table, on the floor to his right is a green canister that contains bottled gas to operate the iron for pressing clothes.

His sewing machine is as close to the glass door as possible so he can see to work. When practical, the door is left open. He can only work on the days of full light so he arrives early and stays as long as the day allows. The hot late summer days are more productive. The winters are cold and short. When dark clouds come, he closes the shop.He glances up when he sees me pass by the doorway on my way down the 150 stairs or to the Gran Cafe del Borgo in the piazza del Populo or to the main piazza further down the 223 stairs from my home. “Buon Giorno”, he says. “Buon Giorno”, I repeat. Sometimes I visit with him and try to understand his Italian. Sometimes I actually can, a little anyway. Today we actually had a little conversation.

Renato is 75 years old and has been a tailor since his learning days as a child. I know very little about him except that he lives in Fara San Martino, the little town famous for De Cecco pasta, a few short miles from here. Other than his birthday, December 30th, I know nothing else. He is a friendly man. I would like to know more.

~ Dennis G. S.

♥️

For the most part, my dad and I lived on opposite ends of life’s spectrum. Hence, our strained relationship. But the similarities we did share are treasures to me. Our love of music, flea markets, the sea, Italy, fishing, holidays, family gatherings, and writing. Those are what keep me close to him…those special things shared…through our heart line. ♥️

Andi

Yellow Jacket Twist

I love how nature teaches us things. Like…

Patience. There’s no rushing nature. Seasons come and go on the schedule that God set.

The ocean tides work along with the gravitational pull of the sun and moon. What does this teach us? I don’t know. I just find it interesting.

Animals often make better parents than some humans do. We can learn a lot from them.

The migration of the monarch is unique and impressive and should inspire us to do more than what we think we are capable of doing.

Nature can also teach us fun things too. Like how to dance.

Last year we learned the Cicada Dance. I wrote a post about that experience in June of 2021. Those 17 year cicadas came up out of the ground and really created a show for us. Or should I say, we put on a show for them. Cicadas would land on you just to watch your unique dance moves.

Well on Saturday I learned the Yellow Jacket Twist. And actually, Nyx learned it too. Whoever said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? I mean…dances.

I know I’m not the first to do the Yellow Jacket Twist. I’m quite sure of that. It’s the first time for me though.

I was pulling weeds in the backyard when I disturbed an underground nest of yellow jackets. It took but a second for the angry wasps to find their way to me and Nyx.

Instantly, I felt their wrath. My arms began stinging badly. I had a hole in my jeans at the knee and they found their way into my pants. Stinging pain to my right leg. You could hear Nyx’s teeth as she tried to bite them out of the air. Thankfully, she was not stung.

I ran screaming with arms above my head moving swiftly in circular motions and batting at the air. My legs zig zagged me throughout a good half acre of my yard, twisting and twerking as I ran. (Well, maybe not twerking. Maybe more like convulsing.) And my loyal girl, Nyx, never left my side.

We ran through the backyard and then along the bean field behind the shed. We continued on through the side yard around the fire pit. We stopped once as I tried to get the wasps out of my pants and to free wasps caught in this wild hair. Stopping, though, only caused more pain so we ran some more.

We headed to the front of the house thinking we lost them. The screen door was locked. I began banging on the door! I saw a yellow jacket fly by my head. I was about in tears when someone finally let us in. Nyx and I ran inside only to find that two wasps followed us. One landed on my son’s shirt and he was able to kill it. The other was a little harder to catch, but we finally did.

I did some research and learned that yellow jackets are highly intelligent. No kidding. Then I researched how to get rid of them. I waited until midnight. I laid an old towel on the ground over the opening to the nest. I secured the towel with rocks and bricks. Then I poured a five gallon bucket of water mixed with laundry detergent and borax over the towel. Some of those babies were still able to get out and one chased me back into the house. I got him with wasp spray.

Two days later, I have yet to remove the towel. There are still clumps of detergent and borax laying on it. But I no longer see any sign of yellow jackets. I guess the survivors left for a quieter, less soapy piece of earth. Tonight as I sit outside, Nyx stands like a statue watching the area just daring them to come back.

I welted up pretty good on Saturday. Stinging, burning, and itching all at the same time. Today I’m just itchy.

So that, my friends, is the Yellow Jacket Twist. I’m sure the neighbor’s security camera caught my dance. Hopefully, they have no reason to review their footage of that day. 😬

Nature has a way of teaching us a lot of things. Sometimes those lessons come in the form of a dance. I can hardly wait for the dance of 2023.

Not. ♥️

Andi

Photos: beelinepestcontroldenver.com; my cicada pic; southernliving.com

Those Who Are With Us

2 Kings 6:16

In today’s world, we are forced to choose sides. Every matter of life seems to be divided right down the middle: right vs wrong, good vs evil, choice vs control, and of course, the CDC vs science. (Insert laugh track)

There seems to be no middle ground and both sides feel the other is attacking. Everyone is defensive. Everyone is stressed and working on their last nerve.

With God, there is a right and wrong, and clearly we are in a battle. A spiritual battle that bleeds into a physical battle of sorts. Standing up for righteousness is no easy task. It’s scary and today it’s even risky.

But God reassures us that when we are on His side we have everything to gain and nothing to lose. In our humanness, all we see is what we might lose and that is not something we get very excited about. So fear holds us back.

The scripture today gives us strength and reassurance that those who truly love God are never alone in any battle.

2 Kings 6:16
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Take heart that you are not alone.

Trust in Him to lead, provide, and protect what is His.

Be faithful.

Love God. ♥️

Andi

Emotions

Is there shame in expressing sadness, heartache, or pain,
To look through the sun and only see rain,
Is it absurd of me to feel such emotions,
Must I drink from the well of those feel good potions?

My feelings are genuine and very real to me,
Please don’t condemn because you can’t see,
That the positive and negative, together compose,
The very essence of people, with their highs and their lows.

Perpetual happiness is wrong to expect,
When a heart is so broken; emotions reflect,
As God in the beginning blessed all of mankind,
With many emotions, at His will He designed.

So cherish and marvel at this wonderful gift,
Knowing life isn’t always joyful and bliss,
While lifting a sad soul to a happier place,
Know variety of emotion is worth the embrace.

By Andi
January 25, 2013

Photo: mine. Point Betsie, Lighthouse, MI

The Only One

I was scrubbing my bathroom sink with my long-time friend, Bar Keepers Friend, to get the orange tint off from around the drain. I wondered, Really? Does anyone else have to do this? Am I the only one who has to scrub their sink?

When I was a young girl my mom would wash our hair at the kitchen sink. She’d use the sprayer to get my hair wet and then lather it up with shampoo. I remember how embarrassed I was that my mom did this. Not that my mom was washing my hair, but that no one else washed their hair. I was the only one. I was sure of it.

One day this spring I needed to mow my yard. Between the eight trees that were dropped and those darn moles, my yard is a lumpy, bumpy mess. My mower didn’t cut even. The blades dug into the ground too and once it actually shaved off the grass into a neatly rolled piece of sod. While I’m trying to pull wet, muddy gunk out from under the deck I’m wondering…am I the only one?

Tonight didn’t end well for me at work. Customer service took its toll when I had to hang up on an irate customer. Then on my way home I was almost rear ended by a woman who didn’t see I was stopped at a red light and she slammed on her brakes. She blew her horn at me as if I was the one who did something wrong. I looked to see if I could turn on red. Yep. I looked and it was clear so I turned right. That woman turned too and almost rear ended me again, still blaring her horn. I was embarrassed even though I did nothing wrong. Am I the only one?

To ice this cake of humiliation, just before I made it home, I hit two very large, beautiful butterflies who were flying side by side enjoying a cooler evening. My heart hurt.

My parents died. My Chelle died. I’ve lost so many others whom I loved. I’m still mourning the losses.

Am I the only one?

Am I really the only one who has to do miserable chores, who gets embarrassed, and who suffers?

No. And living with that tunnel vision is a pretty sorrowful way to live.

Everyone cleans their sink and even the toilet. Everyone brushes their teeth and even washes their hair. Everyone has a car that breaks down or a furnace that quits working. Everyone has a loved one who passes away. We have a tendency to think that while we are doing something we do not want to do or going through something painful that everyone else is living the dream. Untouched. Unscathed. And we despise that idea. The idea that others are free.

I wonder if Jesus ever thought, Am I the only one? Probably many times during His ministry here upon the earth. Maybe He felt He was the only one when His disciples slept as He wept for them in prayer.

We all have problems. Some have more, some less, but we all struggle in this life. The only real difference is that my problems are mine and yours are yours. So that which is in your procession can seem bigger than life and make you question, Am I the only one?

Truth is…no, you are not. Nor am I.

Just because we don’t see what goes on in other’s lives, doesn’t mean they are free from the burdens of this life.

Don’t let the thought bury you. I know it’s hard to do at times because I feel this often. It’s hard not to get caught up in self-pity. I have this tendency to feel that life is moving on without me while I scour the rust out of my sink.

Even though we are very different, we are probably more alike than we realize. I hope that if you are feeling despair you realize now that you are not alone. And also that the grass is never greener elsewhere than it is in your own backyard. No one lives quite as carefree as you may think.

I am not the only one.
And neither are you. ♥️

Andi

Photos: all mine 🙂