Into The Water

I push the sliding backdoor open and step into my screened in back porch. The hot air slaps me in the face! I mean, I really feel assaulted. By the air. I am still a Texas newbie. We’ve been here for 8 years now, but I think that in Texas, it takes about 40 or 50 years to even be considered a Texan. At least.

We are currently experiencing a heatwave. I believed that all of my former 7 summers here could easily be described as a heatwave, but this is different. It is only halfway through June and our weather is in the danger zone. It is scary hot. Yesterday as I walked from the grocery store to my car, I remembered our hot weather back in California. California heat felt like an enveloping, surrounding oven of warmth. Texas heat feels like a microwave. Cooking us from the inside out.

Sorry about that. I got carried away with the weather report when what I really wanted to talk about was the odd and comforting sensation that happens to me when I step into the water. If you know me, you know I adore my pool. I yammer on about it every summer. I keep trying to understand why it is such a powerful thing for me.

Then I saw the picture above, and had to have it. It says, “Into the water I go. To lose my mind and find my soul.” Perfect.

Every single time I slice into the water, I have the same overwhelming sensation. And by “slice”, I mean more like a very chunky butter knife than a nice sleek carving knife.

It is a feeling of leaving my cares behind. I float on my back and look at the trees swaying above and all is right with the world. Even though, of course, very little is right with the world. My pulse slows down, my worries tend to sink to the bottom of the pool and I feel God. After a while, I often pick up a worry from the bottom of the pool and I am able to see it differently, from a new perspective. I sense new options and maybe even new solutions.

Does it have something to do with “losing my mind and finding my soul”? I believe that it does. “Mindfulness” is a popular buzzword right now, for good reason. Being a mindful parent, spouse, friend, creative, is important and enriching.

But, it is also vital that we “lose our minds” a bit too. In my book I chat a bit about taking our thoughts captive. That is a church and Bible phrase that describes being the boss of your brain. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Choosing where you will let your thoughts take you and refusing to allow them to pull you down and lie to you. I guess it could also be called, being mindful of your mind.

Maybe when I slip into my swimming pool, I am also slipping away from my over-thinking mind and allowing my soul, my inner spirit to move into the drivers seat? I think that God approves. I recall the same sensation when hugging my husband tightly on the back of his motorcycle. It was a wonderful mixture of exhilarating and calming, an escape from laundry, meal prep and all cares.

What helps you to lose your mind and find your soul? When I googled this phrase, I found lots of different uses for it. “Into my garden I go. To lose my mind and find my soul” was one of the many ways it has been used. I know that my mom would have felt that way about her garden, and now my daughter-in-law is newly discovering the joys of gardening.

Sewing, knitting, writing, painting, running, are all possible avenues for you to find the same delicious sensation that I have when I get into my pool. Your mind needs a rest. Your body needs for your mind to rest. I love podcasts, my devices, Pandora. But I desperately require some silence too. Even silence of my brain. Wow, is my brain noisy! Meditating on nothing does not work for me. The inner activity can be frenetic and depressing if allowed to continue without a break.

So, Into the water I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. How will you lose your mind today? Even for a few minutes. A good book, a game of Wordle, a walk around the block or a snuggle with a dog, these are all lovely options.

This morning I swam at 8 am because even the pool water gets too warm later in the day here in Texas. Who ever heard of it being too hot to swim? Another newbie discovery.

Susie

Two Houses

The house was a tiny house before Tiny Houses became a thing. It was perfectly square, one half provided a kitchen and small bathroom with a claw-foot tub. The other half was split for a bedroom and a living room. That’s it.

We loved that house! The outside was peeling white paint with a pale green trim and the inside had door jams that I had to be gentle with when I vacuumed because if I hit them too hard it revealed that there was no wood left under the paint. Termites loved the tiny house too.

My husband and I were town kids and this beautiful spot out in the country made us very happy. A good friend of ours let us live there on the back of his sheep ranch in the “granny-house” that had been home for several generations.

It is also the house where I first became a mom. We gave the one bedroom to our newborn son and we slept on a pull-out couch in the living room. My son learned to walk and talk in those rooms. As you can see in the picture above, he also learned to run up the long driveway with me on our way to the mailbox out by the country road.

The only times that I did not enjoy living there were the day that sheep were slaughtered and the days when the mama sheep were separated from the lambs. Our little house was situated between the two fields, lambs on one side of the house and mamas on the other. They called to one another and broke my heart.

But that crazy little velveteen-rabbit-loved house holds hundreds of sweet and life changing memories.

The other most important house in my life was back in town. My Dad saw that it had an overgrown lawn and newspapers piled outside and guessed that it might be for sale even though it was not listed yet. We were able to make it our first owned home due to some very generous help from our real estate friend.

This adorable house needed work but I fell deeply in love with it immediately. With a pretty bay window and built in gingerbread trim in the kitchen, it became a labor of love for many years. We pulled up old carpet to reveal wonderful wood floors and I designed a special curtain rod with a shelf attached to display my country-theme decorations in the dining room.

It was in this house that I became a mom for the second time. I was eight months pregnant as we moved in. My second son learned to walk and talk in this house. He also sent us rushing to the emergency room when he pulled a can of paint thinner over on his face and we worried that he might lose his eyesight. He and I had a little wrestling match while the doctor washed his eyes out. His beautiful eyes survived, but every time I smell paint thinner it takes me back to that awful day.

I am thinking about these two houses as another Mother’s Day approaches. Both houses held life altering changes for me. Within those walls I moved from a woman to a mother, from a mom of one to a mom with two boys. Now my two sons are parents themselves.

Is there any alteration in life that is bigger and more profound than the one that moves you from woman to woman and mother? It is astounding, confusing, delightful and overwhelming in both the most positive way and the most negative way! I carry memories birthed in those two houses that include laughter, tears, shouting and celebrating. I was not a quiet, peaceful mom. I struggled. Momming is hard. My two sons are good, strong, and happy men, but I know that it was in spite of me and mostly because I constantly asked God to make up for my messes. He did.

Now I am a grandma of four. And I will have to say that so far, I think I am better at grandmothering than mothering. I wish that I knew then what I know now. But I can’t even begin to articulate what I even mean by that. There is one thing that I know that I did do right within the walls of those houses. I truly loved my boys with all of my heart, energy and soul. And they knew it.

Happy Mother’s Day to me and to my son’s amazing partners!

Susie

An Introvert Who Likes Attention

Good morning Pam and Dawn! (My target audience) I Have an honest question that I hope you can answer. Also, if anyone else is reading this, please feel free to give me your opinion on my question. Thanks.

Is it possible to be an introvert that enjoys attention? It feels like the two things are mutually exclusive, but I find myself craving attention and at the same time hiding from everyone.

For me, the attention has to be in a controlled and safe environment. While I admire people who are able to walk into a room full of strangers and give a loud and all inclusive “Hi everyone!”, this is way beyond my abilities. Just cannot be done! I have to take the temperature of a room before I speak at all. I may want to be there, but please don’t single me out until I’ve had a minute to “read the room.”

A recent experience has triggered this question. I spent a totally delightful evening as the Guest Author at a book club full of complete strangers. A new acquaintance in my current book club suggested my book to her other book club in another city. They meet every week and managed to take a whole month to read and discuss my little book by just reading 3 chapters a week. I was invited to chat with them on the final day that they would be discussing ‘Walking Butterfly’.

I had a blast! They served some yummy desserts and I never got to eat mine because they all kept me busy answering questions and telling me how much they loved my writing. I loved it! Why did I come home exhilarated and wishing I could do it again and again? An introvert who loves attention? I am so confused.

Yes, it was a relatively “safe environment”. I had been told that they were enjoying my book. So I felt accepted already and that certainly made a difference, right? But I did not have a list of questions or any plan about what to say or even if the club met in someones home or in some local meeting place.

Here is where I am going to brag about how much they loved the book while you decide if I am some kind of hybrid introvert/extrovert. This group of a dozen women said all of the things that a writer wants to hear about their book-baby. Can I share some comments with you?

“I keep Walking Butterfly by my bed to lift me up after a hard day, because every page is joyful.”

“I will always keep it handy to read again and again.”

“I bought two more copies to give to my friend and daughter-in-law.”

“I felt like we could be friends!”

“Your writing style made me feel like two friends having a conversation.”

“I love your honesty!”

“I liked your chapters titles! They made so curious.”

The book clubbers also had a great discussion about hearing God in everyday life and the struggle to believe that He really does love us. It was a wonderful evening, one of my favorite kinds. I soaked up every bit of it and I am still basking in all of the positive attention.

Oh, want to hear about a dumb thing I did in front of them all? Someone mentioned my butterfly tattoo and I held up my arm to show it more clearly, while saying, “Yes, I really love my butterfly tattoo!”

You guys…I held up the wrong arm. I held up the arm with no tattoo, while cheerfully spouting, “Yes, I really love my butterfly tattoo!” DOH! We all had a good laugh at me and I don’t regret it one bit.

Another favorite moment was when they lined up to have me sign their books. A spontaneous book signing happened! So so fun!

Okay, so Pam and Dawn, you’ve had time to think about introverts and extroverts. Is it possible to have a bit of both tendencies? Where do you fall in these categories? I have some suspicions, but since we are very close internet friends, but have never been in the same state together, I could be wrong.

I love you guys, thanks for letting me humble brag so blatantly.

Susie

Will There Be Lipstick in Heaven?

When my mother was a girl she was not allowed to swim, go to roller rinks or bowling alleys. She could not wear lipstick or go to movies or dances of any kind. My mother’s mother considered them a sin.

By the time my mom got married, she let go of most of these restrictions, but brought the last two into my childhood. My mom and my church, the Assembly of God, told me that movie theaters and dancing were sinful and off limits to good Christian girls. I do recall square dancing in grade school, but you could only do what the dance caller told you to do. So maybe it was the freedom of movement that seemed dangerous and sinful.

I shudder in embarrassment now when I recall being asked to the junior high dances and telling boys, “Sorry, but it’s against my religion.” I said that! I was the girl sitting on the gym floor with a book when the school had mid day dances that everyone had to attend. I’ve never been to a prom or school dance of any kind. It was simply not an option.

My mother was not allowed to swim. Mainly because of the swimsuits, I’m sure. If you went to a public swimming pool, it was called “mixed bathing” because you may be swimming with boys. So while I agree that the term “mixed bathing” sounds like a sinful activity, the church camp that I attended as a teenager failed miserably to remedy this temptation.

Picture this solution if you will; the teen girls were required to wear t-shirts over our suits and we had a separate swim time from the boys. It sounds somewhat reasonable, right? The glitch in the plan was that the boys were allowed to sit around the pool watching us! In wet t-shirts!

The first time I entered a movie theater was when I went away to college. I saw Bambi. I was so excited and a little bit scared that God might disapprove. Especially if He decided to come back and get His people while I was inside that dark place.

What I feel most sad about though is the dancing thing. I am convinced that I missed out on a lot of joy and freedom and chance to build some self confidence by not being allowed to move to music. Now that I know it is not a sin, I still cannot do it. My husband and I danced a bit at my son’s wedding ten years ago, but other than some random kitchen dancing together, that was the first and possibly the last time for us.

This may be why I love old musical movies so much. All that dancing! The beauty of a body trained to fly across the stage with such grace and ease! To work together with a partner so well that the movement is smooth and effortless. I get lost in these movies.

Why am I rambling on about the restrictions placed on me and others in the name of sin? I recently read a blog post by Tina Riley Carter where she quoted a former pastor of hers saying that she “would rather err on the side of grace” concerning the choices that others make in their lives.

That phrase has been pinging around in my head and heart for days and I totally agree with it. First of all, who are we to judge another’s actions anyway? It is simply not up to me to decide who is sinning and who is not. Not my job.

Secondly, if the definition of sin can change from one generation to the next as quickly as it did from my grandmother’s to mine, how can we know who is sinning and who is not. Lipstick! Wearing lipstick was considered a sinful act two generations ago in my family and still is in some religions. And now how much lipstick is being applied in church restrooms today? (Well actually not much because we are all wearing masks.)

If the list of things that can be called sinful can be altered over the years, how can we use them to judge someone? My grandma and my mom never got to splash around in a pool or lake with friends. That kinda breaks my heart. But when my mom had kids, she packed us up every Thursday in the summer time and we spent the day at a public pool with some good friends and had a blast.

Why the change? Was it sinful or not? How could it be changed? So how dare we look at someone who lives differently than us and call it sin? I would rather err on the side of grace. I would rather look around Heaven and not be shocked at who is surrounding me.

I want to love unconditionally. Who am I to set up conditions? God has erred on the side of grace for me! He has chosen to look beyond my mess and love me as is. How could I do anything less for those in my world? I am convinced that God’s ability to love is much, much wider and more encompassing than we have been led to believe.

Our world today could use some grace, don’t you think? Some quiet smiles instead of wagging fingers. The other day someone asked in what ways were we showing love today? My first thought was that I show love by refraining from leaving comments online in certain discussions. Sometimes stepping away from the argument is the most loving and grace-filled thing to do.

Sadly, I do know that even a post as benign as this can bring backlash and disagreement from other believers. I know and have believed the other side of this opinion. Been there, my friend, and it is not a happy place to live. We can disagree and I can still love you. Grace is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

Susie

Travel Size

I am laughing at myself. It’s okay, you can join in because my “clever ” idea for a photo to top this post is a silly fail. As I unpacked my groceries today, I smiled at the purchases you see above because they are all tiny. Travel Size is the store description of them. But of course when they are grouped together like I positioned them to take the pic, they look like they are normal size or Stay Home Size.

But I am not staying home, I am going to TRAVEL! Well, a tiny bit of travel, but it’s huge for me. I am going to fly out of state in a few weeks! I will be traveling 1,718.9 miles alone. From one state to a totally different state! Me, alone, along with about 400 other passengers. And I am just a bit excited!

The woman whose words you are reading right now printed out a Map Quest last week to drive to a friend’s home 3 miles away! I did that. And I was super proud of myself when I made it safely back home. (I probably won’t take the map with me the next time I go see my friend. Most likely.)

For this trip, which is a little longer than three miles, I am being brave. Because it is worth it. I am meeting my fourth grandchild for the first time! She will be almost nine months old. My son is great at sending lots of photos and we love sending Marco Polos back and forth, so she doesn’t feel like a stranger to me, but oh man, am I just itching to hold and kiss my beautiful granddaughter!

My son, daughter-in-love, and gorgeous baby live in the hometown I left to move here 7 years ago and I am also thrilled to be back there in a small town where I did not feel the need to print out a map to a new area of town.

When the joy and happiness outweigh the fear, it’s a wonderful thing. I can do this. I can’t wait to do this. My mind wants to bring up worst case scenarios, which for me would be missing a flight or not knowing which line to get into at the airport. I don’t worry about the airplane doing it’s job, I am not afraid to fly. I worry about getting around an airport by myself. Not logical, I know. But it is what it is…in my brain anyway.

My fun little travel size essentials are in my carry-on now. I have some new jeans arriving on Tuesday and have a good idea of what I will be packing and what to wear on the plane. No grandma could be more ready than this one. Now I just have work on turning off my mind at night so I can sleep about 26 more sleeps until I meet my newest grandchild face to face.

Susie

A New Opportunity!

As I chose a seat at my book club a few weeks ago, the woman next to me quietly said, “I’m so glad you sat by me, I want to talk to you about your book.” I perked up immediately because even though I wrote it 6 years ago, I still love to talk about my book baby with anyone.

I have been attending The Woods Literary Society Book Club since 2017 when the group of 20 or so women invited me to come talk about my book, Walking Butterfly. I only knew one person in the group and was very nervous and excited to be honored with the invitation.

Entering a cozy living room full of smiling women holding copies of my book was exhilarating! Seeing my creation on their laps with dog-eared pages and post-it notes sticking out has to be one of my most favorite memories. I am sure it is a highlight for any writer.

The woman I sat next to this month is someone I don’t know very well. She and I are the two quietest people in our book club and I was happy and curious to hear what she had on her mind. She had suggested ‘Walking Butterfly’ to her Bible Study Group in another city and told them that she could get the author to come talk to them! What? She said that she probably should have asked me first, but hoped I would come in March and chat with the group.

I froze and did not know how to answer. Then another friend on the other side of me said my name in a tone I could only describe as “warning” or “scolding”. As in “Suuuusie?” You know that parental tone of voice that is reminding you to be brave and also full of warning that you’d better answer correctly?

So my smiling response was, “Everything in my body is saying No, but my heart says YES.”

The idea that this new group is using Walking Butterfly as a “Bible Study” is a little daunting. Many bible study groups use devotionals and my book could easily fall into that category because of the way it is set up, with short chapters and discussion suggestions at the end of each chapter. But I did not write is as a devotional and I am trying not to freak out about it being read as a “study” you know?

My dog, Gretta, is making this blog post very challenging today. If this blog had sound affects, you would be hearing some whining from her because she believes that a walk is much more important right now. I have walked away from this laptop 3 times today, but I am determined to create a post before the day is over. So needy! And she has a very heavy paw!

I am excited and very happy about this new little opportunity. Even though I have only written one book, I still consider myself a writer. I wish I could list a string of titles with my name on them, but so far I am a one book author. I love the writing and editing process, but that is not enough. Apparently one must have a subject and purpose for writing a book. I am still looking and listening for that.

Now my purpose at this moment is to get some shoes on and head out into the cold with my 85 pound dog baby!

Susie

Dear Dawn And Pam

Have you ever had so much to say that you just… stopped talking? The thought of opening my mouth and allowing all the rivers of words and opinions and half-baked theories to escape has caused me to be quiet. Because there is more than one river and my inner discussions cross over each other and often tend to contradict one another.

I have always wanted to be an authentic writer. Many blog posts and social media blurbs have been deleted because it did not ring true enough. For me, authenticity has led to quietness.

As with many of you, my circle of people is populated with divergent views. Politically and spiritually. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when politics made no dent whatsoever in my life. In most lives, really. Now it is everywhere, infiltrating all things.

And it has made me shut my mouth. That makes me so sad. But the interwebs does not need my tiny opinions on big issues of the day. My thoughts would just be more gibberish added to the clamoring voices out there that no one is listening to because they are too busy talking.

So, to my two friends who actually still read this blog, Pam and Dawn, I am back to adding my thoughts in this space. But they will not be about current events in this world, (they never really were anyway) they will only be about current events in my world. My yard, my home, my grandkids, my dog, my God, and my family.

One of the difficult tasks of writing for the public in a place like this is that you do not know who you are talking to. And I think that that thought is what made me shut my mouth. I began to second guess every single word that I tapped out on this laptop. I watched other writers become bullied and chastised for believing differently than the reader. We are no longer a society that enjoys a bit of passionate discussion where everyone goes home with new ways of seeing an issue. Now we immediately choose sides, lock arms and shut our ears.

My solution to stop myself from worrying about who may read this tiny speck of writing is to only write with two people in mind. My close friends, Pam and Dawn have been my personal cheerleaders since 2011, maybe earlier. We have celebrated victories, births, breakthroughs and challenged one another to reach goals. We have also cried together over deaths, loss and physical setbacks over the years. Thankfully shared laughs have outweighed the tears and I consider these two women to be my close friends and confidants.

The three of us live on opposite corners of the United States but I feel like we have spent hours in one another’s kitchens. I can easily picture Pamela’s cozy kitchen with beautiful teacups displayed on intricate doilies. Her walls carry photos of bears that tended to casually walk through her backyard. Pam writes a beautiful blog called Closed Doors, Open Windows about the nature she sees out her windows and on her walks. Her deep faith in God is evident in every post and I always close my laptop inspired by her writing and hopeful attitude. I was often jealous of her gorgeous country-life, near water and nature because I am seriously land-locked in a big cement city.

Speaking of “near water”, my other friend, Dawn lives pretty much on the beach. Maybe not on the beach, but it is a short walk to the water’s edge and that has also made me very jealous! Dawn is very different from me. She is driven, hysterical and confidant. She has her hands in a million different business and artistic ventures at once. She is busy on youtube with a healthy following and I love to listen to her accent! Dawn is also a blogger, which is how the three of us met years ago. Her blog is called Enthusiastically Dawn and we bonded over our mutual love for journal-keeping.

My dear buddies, Pam and Dawn and I have never been in the same room together. Never even been in the same state as one another. Years ago we used to fantasize about getting together around my pool here in Texas, but I seriously doubt that will ever happen. (But you guys are totally welcome anytime. You know that right?)

These women helped me write my book with many nudges to keep writing and not give up. We have not talked politics and don’t plan to. Cards and gifts have gone back and forth from home to home, but no judgments have crossed the 1,741 miles between us. I have done that Google Earth thing where you can see a real life picture of their homes, so I can imagine them better. Is that too stalker-ish you guys? Sorry, will probably do it again anyway.

This strange post is not a strong and focused blog post as recommended by the experts. It is a rambling and awkward re-entry into writing here in this spot that used to be my happy place. I want to come back to this blog and now I will because I am no longer worried about who is or is not reading it. My two commenters and readers, Pam and Dawn are my target audience and that makes me breath better.

So, dear Pamela and Dawn, I love you and lets meet here again soon, okay?

Love, Susie

I Bonded With a Dragonfly Today

When we moved to this house with a pool a few years ago, I decided to splurge and buy myself a pool float that cost more than $10. After seven years, my treasured pool frippery is showing it age.

But it still works and I have an idea to repair it with some waterproof tape if I can. Anyway, me and my blue floaty were out there today alone and I was asking God some questions. Not the little ones about what to make for dinner, how can we pay to repair the crumbling patio, or how am I going to get brave enough to enroll my dog in an obedience class. I don’t normally bother God with those kinds of questions, though I am sure that He would not mind at all.

No, my questions today on that broken floaty were the biggies; What am I doing here? Why am I the way that I am? And, what is the whole point of Susie anyway? I mean really? What’s it all about (Alfie)?

In my growing up years, my church vaguely, and sometimes overtly sent me the message that our purpose is to win souls for God. Period. I believe in Heaven, and since I am firmly into my 6th decade, the thought of my hereafter definitely wanders through my mind on a regular basis.

I don’t know if it is due to certain scriptures or to sermons designed to encourage us to help people get saved, but I also have a weird picture of what our “mansions” might look like in Heaven. I somehow caught the idea that my heavenly home will be commensurate with my soul-winning talent. If I can convince a great number of people to love God, my mansion will be bigger and grander than those who do not. So now, my grownup mind is wondering how there could be “good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods” in Heaven. Seems wrong.

Which brought me back to the big questions while floating today. If I am a quiet, stay at home person who rethinks every single slight conversation that I have ever had with anyone, about anything; what is the point of me? What am I doing here? Why am I here at all? I have a small world. I love my people in my world and they know it, but where is my purpose in the big picture of it all?

And guess what happened? A beautiful blue dragonfly perched itself on my big toe. Don’t laugh. I did, but my laugh was not AT me, it was a giggle of pleasure at seeing a dragonfly ON MY BIG TOE!

It looked at me with those weird big eyes and just rested there for a while. Then it flew away, circled the pool and came back to my big toe…again and again. I think it liked me. We just stared at one another for nearly 30 minutes. I am crazy about all the dragonflies that hang around my yard at this time of year, I’ve always wanted one to land on me. But even though I love them, I have purposely not googled dragonflies because I do not want to learn something awful about them. Like that they see us as good spots to rest and poo or something disgusting like that. Sometimes the unknown is best.

As we looked at one another I had a thought. What is your purpose, little flying creature? What did you accomplish today? Why are you the way you are?

And I smiled.

That dragonfly was doing it’s job perfectly. He was being himself. His purpose was simple and clear to him. For today his job was to circle the swimming pool and give this odd lady a big smile. My conclusion my seem like a stretch for you, but somewhere deep inside me, I feel like I make God smile sometimes. As I circle my home, doing my little chores and marking small tasks off my To-Do lists, that my God takes pleasure in me just being me. Could that be true?

Could it be true that God loves us, even likes us and enjoys us just as we are? Just living our lives and loving our small world of people as best we know how? My world is extremely small right now and I do not see it changing much in the near future. I am what I am, as designed by Him and by the path I have walked. I am here to give Him pleasure and love my people. That is enough.

For today anyway.

Susie

I Want To Be Like My Granddaughter in 2021

This right here is my goal for 2021. To be more like my granddaughter. See that pride, confidence and just plain strength? This 3 year old is my inspiration for the new year. She knows her mind and speaks it freely without self editing…sometimes to her parent’s surprise!

An example, you ask? Certainly! We were visiting her home during the Christmas week and I stepped into her playroom where she was busy setting up and narrating a story with her toys. I don’t remember what I said to her, but I will never forget what she said in her sweet voice as she looked up at me.

“Could you leave here?”

Her shocked Daddy was standing behind me in the hallway and told her that what she said was impolite and to be more polite to Grandma. So she nodded and said,

“Could you leave here, please?”

She obeyed completely. And you know that we will never let her parents forget this little conversation, right?

I want to be you, Sparky (Her secret dog identity). I want to make up my mind and speak it clearly. I am 62 years older than you and that many years of second guessing, self-editing and doubting my own mind and opinions have built up to form an ugly, but crumbling wall. I look at you in this photo and have confidence that you and I will learn volumes from one another in the coming years together.

Today is the last day of the year 2020 and all of us tend to find ourselves weighing up the good and bad of the year that we have just survived. Yes, 2020 was a difficult and ugly year for the world in so many painful and shocking ways. For me personally, the negative events began in February with a heart-health scare, the loss of my friend Joyce in March, then covid led to loss of my beloved preschool job. The year ended with watching my son deal with the death of his best friend from covid just days before Christmas.

2020 also brought me several beautiful things! My third grandchild, Noah, arrived in November and he is bringing so much joy to all of us! Earlier in the year I discovered a wonderful meditation app that I use almost every day called, SoulSpace that I have written about previously. I turned my book into a children’s picture book, not yet published or finished though. We also added to our family with the addition of our goofy puppy, Gretta!

The year 2020 has caused me to nestle closer and deeper into God’s comforting arms. It has been a year of getting down to bare bones, as we all have been forced to re-evaluate what parts of our lives are essential and what can be canceled. It should not have been as hard as it was, but I deleted my Facebook account in September, and haven’t missed it at all. My Essential is consistently finding a moment to close my eyes and breath in the goodness of God, whether I can see it with my eyes open or not. And it has not been an easy year to see it, has it?

But I can see His goodness in the face of my grandchildren daily. They are our reason to keep on keepin’ on. They carry joy, strength and confidence like a superhero’s cape. It looks totally natural, raw and honest on them. They expect the world to be a good and beautiful place and my prayer is that everything that I say and do will confirm that belief for them. See that face pictured above? My wish is that my grandkids will see the same beautiful expression of pride, joy and strength on my face when I look at them.

Happy New Year Friends,

Susie

More Trust and Less Fear

My home is quiet and I am sitting on my couch looking at our decorated Christmas tree after sending hubby off to work. It’s seven in the morning and I’ve already been up for two hours, thanks to my puppy alarm clock. Of course, now she is snoring next to me with her nose on my knee.

The dishwasher needs to be emptied, a grocery list has to be written and I want to hang the garland on the front porch, but this poor neglected blog is calling to me this morning. I honestly do not even know where this post will end up, but the word ‘trust’ is nagging at me and from past experience I know that it will not let go until I sit down and write.

Trust is a big deal in my home right now. What happens inside when you hear the word trust? While you are asking yourself that question, I will give you my answer, ok? For me it also conjures up feelings of rest. A sense of letting go and allowing myself to relax and not worry. In other words, it feels like the opposite of fear.

Which brings me to the other popular word in my home lately, ‘fear’. Can the emotions of fear and trust live in the same being at the same time? Some would say that you can only have one or the other. But I disagree. Both can exist, warring for space and power in our heart and mind.

Our new puppy, Gretta, was rescued from terrible conditions and I can see this battle in her eyes and in her body language every day. She desperately wants to trust us. But her past experience tells her that humans are not worthy of her trust. She is gentle and loves to cuddle, but everything in her is still on high alert to jump away and hide if a loud noise or sudden movement triggers her. She approaches with eyes that want to believe that we are kind, but her body will sometimes cower in submission and fear.

I hate that! I hate seeing what fear has done to her. I also hate that it is like looking in a mirror. Fear has made my world small. Fear of covid, fear of driving around here, fear of getting lost, fear of the mean neighbor dog that chased us the other day, these have all caused me to cower here inside my home.

My puppy Gretta, has good reason to fear. Her history informs her that humans do not deserve her trust. Even I am not worthy of her complete trust yet. One day I bopped her on her nose after she nipped at my hand and it took me several days to win back her heart.

But I do not have such an excuse. My history is full of God’s faithfulness to me. One story after another reminds me that my God has not forgotten me and that He is worthy of my complete trust. Yesterday I listened to a message from Bo Stern Brady that reminded me that “God sees me, knows me and loves me.”

So why does the inner battle wage? What truth am I missing that will give Trust the upper hand in my mind and heart?

Even as I ask that last question, I am hearing some words spoken by my daughter-in-love on Thanksgiving Day this last week. We were talking about being over protective of our kids and imagining the worst, and she said, “Well I guess I’m a bad parent because I never do that. I just know that God’s grace will be there when I need it, if anything awful happens. But His grace is not there when we are simply imagining the situation, because we don’t need it yet. It’s not real. He doesn’t give grace/strength for something that has not happened.”

Hello!! My brilliant DIL’s words are resounding in my head now. She is completely right and the truth in that statement can make all the difference! In case my use of the word ‘grace’ in this instance is confusing, let me explain. It may be a case of “Christianse”, but even the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9… “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

If the worst case scenario happens, God will carry me through it. He will be there, I will not be alone. God sees me, knows me and loves me. I still do not want the bad thing to happen and will avoid putting myself in dangerous situations, but I can rest my mind in knowing that God is worthy of my trust. God also wants me safe and healthy and happy.

Gretta is learning that I see her, know her and love her. She is slowly figuring out that I do not want to harm her in any way, even though last week I put some yucky medicine in her food to make her feel better. And then it took two days to convince her to eat her regular food because I had lost her trust again. But, I know what is best for her.

‘Trust’ and ‘fear’ are both residing in me, but my shoulders are softening, my jaw is not clenched and fear is not in charge today. My deep breathes are bringing relaxation and rest. I can smile at this goofy puppy snoring next to me and promise her that we will attempt a neighborhood walk again today. My DIL’s words and God’s Word are tumbling around in me and helping me to trust more and fear less.

I hope you do not mind that I tend to write my way into inspiration as I go. I did not know where this post would end up at all. I realize that this may be an odd and probably incorrect way to write for public viewing. I suppose I could have thought this through before hand and then written it as an accomplished “How to” model in finding rest, as in; “Here is how I find peace in a chaotic world today…”

Just thinking out loud I guess. Right or wrong, it’s the way I write when a certain word or question is bouncing around in my head and heart. Thanks for listening and hopefully my meandering thoughts can be helpful to you too.

So now I’ll go back and add a title to this post.

Susie