Saturday, August 24, 2013

Making Room for Everyone

The poor guy didn't know what hit him.  I was picking up a few groceries and the man seated in the car next to mine, struck up a conversation as I loaded my bags in the car. 

"Nice car," he opened.


"Nice day," he continued.

"It is, isn't it" I responded.

"Here's something you might be interested in," he said, handing me a small card.

I didn't want to look and I was afraid to engage him further. Maybe he was giving me a business card for a service I might actually be interested in.  But I feared it was something else.

My first fear was that is was a naked photo of himself, but it wasn't.  But it was related to my second fear of where this conversation was headed.  The card was a message about God's love and he was all set to convert me to something.

I'm all for people finding out about God's love.  However, shotgun evangelism is an embarrassment to any faith.

This poor guy didn't know what he'd walked into and I really tried to ease out of the situation.  "I am very confident in God's love for me, plus I was a pastor for over 20 years."

Now you'd think that would stop any person in their right mind from continuing on the path of converting me -- but no.  This guy had an agenda regardless of what my life experience was.

His next move was to lambaste the Roman Catholic church.  His reason for this attack was that it was very old.  I looked at him -- he was very old.  I didn't bring that up, but told him that I rarely darken the door of any churches of any denomination anymore.

He tried another critical jab.

"Sir, I love God and have served him most of my adult life.  But the church needs to do some work before too long.  Maybe we could just start over with out the hate and judgment," I suggested.

He said nothing more.  He just sat there looking at the card I'd handed back to him. 

It is a good thing to be passionate about something.  Often when a zealous person is involved there just isn't room for varying opinions and sadly, that is frequently the situation where religion is concerned.

I probably should have just taken his card and thanked him. If we are ever going to have peace, it is going to have to begin with understanding that there are many opinions and not very many of them are wrong.

As I drove away, the man was still staring at the card in his hand.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Home Sweet Home

This is my home. There is something powerful, something sacred about the place that we call home. It is the place where my family gathers, the spot where my treasures are, the place where I can be myself at my most honest and vulnerable.  Home is a place of safe abandonment of all the baggage of society.
I was fortunate to have lived in the same home for the first 18 years of my life. It was great to have one place that was mine. I knew every tree, each fencepost and where everything belonged. When I went to camp and then off to college, I was driven to set up my "home" before I could do anything else. I needed to set my foundation. In my job I moved quite a bit, but I wasn't ready to work until my home was established and in order.
Long ago I disregarded the ideas of home fashion and trend. I  like what I like. If I like it, then I'm happy to have it surround me in my place of residence. I love color. I delight in re-purposing items. It is important to having plants and other living things around me.
When we moved into this home just over 2 years ago, we decided to paint the exterior in time for my daughter's graduation party. After flipping through a magazine I saw the colors I wanted for our house -- green with pink shutters.  I presented the idea to my husband, and bless his indulgent heart, he was all for it. The green went on with little comment from anyone. But when we began trying samples of the pink -- it concerned many. My kids cast two solid negative votes and asked me to pick something normal.  They can have normal later. I picked delightful! Each time I see my home, it makes me smile to be there.
A friend came over one day and looked around, then she paid me a great compliment. She said, "You house just has personality up the wazoo!"  It does! This is a place I can create to my heart's content.
Our home isn't supposed to be a show place, a mansion with more space than a small village could make use of -- but a sacred place to renew ourselves, to celebrate life, to be nurtured.
Any place can be a beautiful home, once your heart holds it sacred.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It Takes a Dog

Something large and black flew across US 23 as I was headed south to an appointment in Waterford, Michigan. Traffic was going 70 mph and then some. Almost every vehicle immediately slowed, we wanted to know what had happened.

That large black mass was a Labrador Retriever escaping from the back of a pick-up truck. The large dog lay in the grassy area at the side of the road.  Mickey had wanted to go to the bathroom, his owners said, so the three legged dog took off. and was hit by one of the passing cars.

He was conscious, his eyes were pleading. I had pulled over as soon as I saw it was a dog.  Five other drivers followed suit. We worked together fist assessing his wounds, lifting the 100 pound Mickey to get him on a board that was too small for his bulk, attempting to practice basic first aid, while keeping track of teeth that nip when pain is present. We got him into another motorists pick-up because we didn't want to try to haul Mickey across several lanes of traffic to place him in his owners' truck.  Mickey got quite the escort to the next exit where he would be reunited with his mom and dad and find veterinary care.

It was one of the moments where I just wanted to cry.  The tears came with layered meaning. I cried because I hurt for Mickey, those sad eyes broke my heart.  It's a good bet that I will never know if he survived the incident. I also wanted to cry because that three legged dog brought out the best in humanity and that makes me proud to be a human.  It seems like most days, especially if you listen to the news, we witness all the worst that people have to offer.  It's easy to give up hope and start just expecting that people are going to do the wrong thing.

Thanks Mickey, for letting us show that the kindness of humanity runs deep.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Farmgirl Karen

I grew up in Saginaw Township and didn't grow up knowing a lot about agriculture and related topics. I didn't know that beets actually grow with that deep red color -- I thought it was added later. I didn't know that a hen doesn't need a rooster to lay eggs -- they are only needed if you want to fertilize those eggs and have chicks.  I had a little garden and I thought it was miraculous. I did know that fresh food tasted better.

Growing up I shunned large urban areas. Big cities were okay to visit or drive through, okay and maybe to shop, but that was it.

I grew up making things -- I'd try any type of craft.  I'm still that way. My craft room is a disaster of creative possibilities. I found that I loved to can, make cheese, craft my own soap.  It seems that if I can make it, it is probably cheaper and perhaps even better. 

I had the chance to live in a farming community for a while.  I took to it like a pig to slop! I think there's a country song where the singer claims to be "as country as a turnip green." I am indeed a country girl.

It delights me to take something old and make it knew again or re purpose an item to something delightfully different.  There are things in life that are better done "the old way." I obviously have embraced the computer age but I still prefer a phone call or a letter, I like baking my own bread, and I will always prefer to read a real book.

I found a kindred spirit when I discovered a magazine called "Mary Jane's Farm." Mary Jane Butters combined all the things that I love and  managed to embrace it all in such a way that it doesn't lose its integrity and humanity. I hate to admit it, but I cried with excitement as I found that there were other women that felt the way I did about life. There were women all over the country that loved chickens, home made food, wanted to protect their environment, hoped to keep the old crafts alive and yearned for a sister hood.

There's a community of Farmgirl Sisters that cover the entire USA and a few in other places in the globe. Another like minded woman and I started our own local chapter in Michigan. Today those friendship are of great value to me.

As a part of joining the Farmgirl Sisterhood -- over 5,000 strong now -- and I was sister #411, you are able to access a variety of challenges under six or seven categories of life.  When one accomplishes the tasks under each category whether its beginner, intermediate, or expert -- you earn a badge!!  I love earning badges almost as much as I love trying different experiences. Right away I earned all the badges under writing and crocheting, but I will never go beyond the first badge in fiber spinning or horsemanship.  These badges push me to keep bettering myself and to love the next adventure.

For 2014, I have the honor of being the Farmgirl of the Year.  I'm not sure I have ever received such a wonderful honor. The funniest part of that is that I live in downtown Fenton, Michigan. I have two hens that give me fresh eggs, I grow most of my own herbs that go in my soaps, baked goods and other concoctions, and I continue to make all the things I possibly can. 

It doesn't matter where you live -- you can always be a Farmgirl.  If you go to Mary Jane's website you are sure to see an embroidered item or to that says, "Farmgirl is a Matter of the Heart." I am a Farmgirl no matter where I live and that is the lifestyle I'm best at.

Maybe you are a Farmgirl at Heart, too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Bug's Life Bugs My Life

We were off camping in our little motor home and I was doing my best to enjoy the trip when I discovered three little ants and a behemoth one. I am not a very good camper to begin with, but I was really trying to be a happy one.  No scream left my mouth, but my face certainly reflected the displeasure I was feeling at their presence.

I'm not particularly hateful of bugs in general, but I prefer them pretty and not in my private living space.  I realize that a camping environment is a different situation and may be confusing to bugs and people as to who belongs where. Nonetheless, this development was unacceptable.

Squish, squish and squish and then one more for the disgustingly big one. I had committed mass murder with a sheet of bounty.  I was glad -- I would do it again if I must. Feeling triumphant, I rested in a false sense of security only briefly.

Where there are just a few ants, there must be more.  I was living in a tin can with a herd of ants, a band of behemoth insects. I groaned -- audibly.  Then, I started to itch. I spent the entire day and night itching and scratching. I showed myself no mercy. I didn't sleep the entire night. I kept a watchful eye out for those little segmented things.

We're home and I'm still scratching a bit, although I have yet to see another ant.  I must say I'm a little indignant that those 4 ants wielded so much power over me.  There is something just wrong about that distribution.

I decided to go outside and look around.  There must be something in my own little backyard that could balance out that power. There were things that could move my attention from one little thing of power to another.   I was quickly mesmerized by the jewel-like dragonfly basking in the sun on  my husband's car window,  I joined my hens in the sense of calm they have mastered as they go about their day, I marveled at the hypnotic bees as they enjoyed my bountiful crop of bee balm.  Such beautiful little things all around me and they all had such wonderful powers.
 "It's the little things that make me love you so."
                                           --Song by the Oak Ridge Boys

So many of the treasures and the joys in life are the little things. It's when my husband automatically takes my hand when we walk anywhere side by side, or when my grown daughter blows me a kiss just before she walks out the door, or the way my puppy's ear flop in an undignified yet adorable manner as she seeks my attention.  I could go on with a list of more than 100 things and actions that are just little -- but they make such a difference to my life and day.  It is the little things that have all the power.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Take Time to Do Something Silly

Truffle Marie Price at graduation

Truffle is one of the great delights of my life.  She is my two year old Miniature Schnauzer. We spend quite a bit of time together doing just about anything.

She had a blast in a training class that was actually described as "Charm School."  After four weeks of classes, she was proficient at all the commands and delighted in responding to each direction and then being rewarded for her behavior.

Truffle has a diploma now.  She is a Charm School graduate.  I think it's funny that she snorts when she yawns --it's not charming, but it is quite cute.

As you might guess, everyone has laughed at this latest achievement of Truffle's.  When my mom saw this photo, her comment was only, "Poor Truffle."

Okay -- so it's a bit silly.  I know this is a silly thing to do with your dog, but ya' know what?  I loved doing all this.  If my son hadn't just graduated from high school, I probably would have thrown her a graduation party!  It makes me laugh!  It tickles my funny bone and just makes me happy.  So why not!?

Each day we really should do something that's a bit silly.  Funny bones are just waiting to be tickled and we were made to laugh.  I do love to laugh and giggle. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Today -- I Write

I love to write.  You can't really tell that I enjoy the writing process by my five month hiatus from this blog.  As much as I delight in creating a story, I cringe at the painful process of exposing those same words for someone else to read, see, judge, correct, disapprove of my writing ability , etc.  What it really comes down to is the fact that I need to write.  I feel all bottled up inside when I haven't written down the stories that continue to float around in my head.  Sometimes my stories are of personal experience that speaks of a lesson to be shared and other times my stories are completely made up, celebrating a well exercised imagination.

The first books I remember getting lost in, were Trixie Belden mysteries.  To this day, I'd rather read a mystery than anything else.  There's something about trying on the personality and skills of someone else -- even a blond teenager with freckles and a best friend named Honey -- and playing the written game of cat and mouse.  I love it when I can figure out the mystery before the author tells me, but I love it even more when I can't!

Writing and reading is an honest relationship of delight -- complete with ups and downs, frustration and exaltation.  I want to remember the reader that I was as a young girl that immersed herself in the story.  Those motives are pure and uncomplicated.  I want to write for the same pure and uncomplicated reasons -- out of love for the craft and the enjoyment of the creation.  Fear be damned!

It's a new day and today -- I write.  We really need to do what we love or we are less than ourselves.