A Thousand Words or One Picture: My Back Yard

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I have tried many times to capture the view from my seat on the back porch. Don’t ask me why a writer uses a camera and then complains when she doesn’t like the picture. Let me try to capture this beautiful view with words. Let me paint a mental image with words like green, buzz, twitter, soft breeze, warm sun, tree, twigs, and others.

From where I sit, early in the morning, the backyard is dappled with light and shadow. The sun rises above the privacy fence. It breaks apart into a million dancing filaments as it’s capture in the leaves of the large oak and young pecan that grace the yard. The sun stripes the rich green of the grass inviting me to lay in nature’s carpet with hands clasped behind my head and eyes on the sky.

Plants in pots awaken. My elephant ears perk up welcoming the sun with leaves the size of my two-year-old niece. Vines and flowers stretch and awaken as the light edges their leaves.

All around me, if I sit still enough, are the sounds of life. Traffic on the road makes up the monotonous background which my ears tone out. I’m far more interested in the faint call of the chickadees in the neighbors pine, the arguments of the sparrows in the martin house, the skittering of small bugs busy about their morning. If I sit very still the wrens that nest in our yard will come and hop about. The lizard who claims the back porch will step from hiding into the sun and we will share in the beauty of the morning.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but a thousand words will tell you of wind and birds and the color green. My seat on the back porch is my favorite place to be for there I’m surrounded by God’s creation, by flowers, trees, plants, sky, sun, leaves, birds, and bugs.

When I raise my eyes from the page to gaze away for a moment, maybe trying to think of a name for someone or deciding what they would say, the first thing I see is my leaning lamp-post trapped in the shad between the pecan and the oak. It whispers of Narnia and a way to the land of a Lion and brave beavers.

Beside it sits my birdbath with its cement mushrooms. It always makes me smile. The mushrooms bring to mind little folk both Hobbit and Fairy. Beyond the tree’s shadows, ever dancing in the Texas breeze, rest the rusted out swing-set. In my mind, it will someday be the bearer of flowers and vines, but first things first and second things never. It must wait its turn. For now it’s my piece of post-apocalyptic ‘art’, which makes people scratch their heads and wonder about mine. But like everything else, it conjures memories. They may be morbid scenes from action flicks where we’ve lost control of technology, but even those are happy memories of late nights with Dad. Beyond sci-fi memories dwells the idea of magical secrets. Under the veins will be an old swing set. Beyond the ivy will be a lost bike. Through the trees you’ll see a dirty gazing a ball and under the bush an old sundial. Creating my own secret garden is a lifelong endeavor, but knowing that frees me to one-thing-at-a-time, here and there, no need to rush.

Beyond the dreams of one day stands my neighbors fence. Beyond that sentinel of privacy climbs the tops of trees. Just enough trees to sooth the eye with their greenery, but not enough to hide the all-encompassing big blue sky. Nothing in Texas is as amazing as the sky that goes on and on and on. This alone will keep me tied here and when I get to Heaven, I hope my ‘mansion’ is built in a place with wide-open skies and lots of trees.

Now, I hope you understand why a picture just won’t do.

(In case you’re wondering, this article isn’t even a thousand words. It’s just about 700. Again, I think my gift is more writing and less picture-taking.)

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Slice of Life: Silly Songs are Important

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

So, this is a slice of life, random sort of article that jumped in my head and decided to shove its way through the line of other blogs waiting patiently to be written. I only have a small window of opportunity to write this morning because a group of lovely women are about to descend on my house to share their stories and let me share mine. (Insert happy squeal here!) (Also this happened on a Thursday, but I’m posting it on a Monday.)

I tend to have vivid dreams. Often I wake up disconcerted, emotional, and sometimes freaked out. Twice, I have literally dreamed a serial killer was in my house. I woke up screaming when he touched my arm. I dreamed once that policemen came, arrested my husband, and threw him in jail for 13 years. I might need to watch how often I read about Christians persecuted in other countries. Or, what I’ll do is keep muscling through it no matter how many bad dreams it gives me cause I need to know. I don’t need to stop having bad dreams. They won’t ultimately hurt me. I do need to know what my brothers and sisters in Christ face on a daily basis. That’s more important than comfortable dreams.

This morning, I woke up feeling very ‘misunderstood’. Ha. Looking back, the dream was so stupid, but as dreams often go, it was more about the emotion involved than it was the events. My husband, one of my sisters, and I were trapped somewhere and none of our friends could come pick us up. I think we were near the ocean or something. I remember water and tree branches. For some reason, my husband and my sister were being mean to me. I don’t remember anything specific other than my husband handing my sister his phone to give directions instead of me. I do remember an overwhelming sense of being upset and them not caring. We finally reached a friend who headed over to pick us up along with all our stuff, while also planning a Dungeons and Dragons game for us to play. (Remember, this was a dream.) Again, I cried and screamed while my husband and sister made fun of me or just totally ignored me—they would never ever do that in real life. It was so silly.

It made me think of a song my mom taught me: “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms.”

(Just picture five children chanting this song over and over. Not creepy at all.)

In today’s world, my mom might be considered a bad mom. She did things like spank us, make us clean our plates, learn to play together, let us  ride our bikes without helmets, hike for hours on end all over creation, shoot guns, and other things like that. She also taught us that song.

And boy, am I glad she did.

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Looking back, we sang the song cause we thought it was funny and gross. (We were and still are into gross. We enjoyed the song about never laughing when the hearse goes by, too. ) We learned from that song that there are times when you will feel like everyone hates you. You will be tempted to put on the airs of a martyr and sulk because nobody is doing anything like you want them to. No one is paying any attention to you. Nobody loves you. We all experience points in our lives where we feel that way, but very often it’s about as realistic as eating worms. See, I woke up feeling rotten. I felt like my husband didn’t care one bit if I was upset, and that my sister didn’t care either. I woke up feeling ignored. That’s a horrible feeling.

Did I wallow in that feeling? No. I held it up against reality and realized my husband, even when he is super busy, cares about me. My sister, either of them, would never ignore me if I was crying, even if I was crying in a childish, pouting sort of way. It was only an emotion, and a passing one at that.

It’s important to teach kids how to judge their emotions. Why? Emotions lie. Emotions aren’t the epitome of humanity. They lie. When we indulge in them, we end up with kids who are out of control and just looking for the next emotional high. We have bullies and the bullied. See the bully is getting an emotional kick out of hurting others. No one is demanding self-control from him. The bullied is also getting an emotional kick out of sulking around feeling bullied. When I was a kid, my parents taught me not only that my martyr feeling was only good for worm eating, but that you stood up to bullies and you stood up for the weak. My parents taught me to defend others and myself. They taught me self-control so that I could withstand the lies of my own emotions and not follow their whims. They protected me, not from the dangers of zero trophies on my wall, but the dangers of my own heart. They protected me from the real dragons, not the made up ones.

Emotions are to be enjoyed, but not worshipped and not trusted. They flit and fade just like my dream did as soon as I opened my email and realized I have things to do, a house to clean, writers to encourage, and a husband who is happy to come home.