Friday, July 11, 2014

Despite The Pain of It #fmf

Talking on the back porch when the skies are turning their shades of brilliant evening paints has become a marital past time verging on tradition. Many "unpublished" snaps clutter my i-phone and computer.
Lounging on the red and beige-stripped chairs I bought last year at Wal-Mart, my husband pauses as I grab my i-phone for another shot. Shaking his head {perhaps only in his thoughts}, in the usual fashion, because I am known by my distractions of such displays.
A pink cross is hanging over my house which I only notice, just now, as I include it here for this post. And how perfect.
At the end of my daily battles, my tears of failure and fears on being a {homeschooling} teacher, Mom, wife, writer, and keeper of things near and dear to my heart, this is where I belong. More than this family, these kids {near and far}, more than these parents who live down the graveled road and past our cattle guard. More than the sister who is the best-est friend a girl can have, who's willing to expand our circle and "adopt" more sisters along our merry way. More than the hardships endured and the small victories of accomplishing math without whine and grind. More than the anxiety building as my boys near high school. More than the laughter of good friends and sitting on cool leather couches visiting on a hot July day. More than the pleasure of meeting writing friends and finding ones coming out of the woodwork within my own circle, locally.
Bigger than a Dugger household, we belong to One who writes love letters in the sky. We belong, you and I, despite the pain of it some days. 
We belong.
Five Minute Friday is over here at Crystal Stine's today. Join us by linking your own post on "Belong."
Also at Diane Baileys, Photo Friday, join her debut link up today! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Begs for Attention--Indepedence Day, Writing, Childhoods, & Farming

Photo: Awwww....the hay meadows are ripe. My hubby loves being a pilot but this right here gives flying a run for it's money. #lotsOfHay #farmlife
I've been resisting. As if fighting myself and restraining words from coming is somehow making me better. Many times recently, I've made promises with myself to sit down and do the work because I need to write, for my own sake. Writing is where my crooked thoughts find a way from their cramped quarters. I've been here too many times to know-- this is just Summer.
The leisurely pace is stained on my toe-nails which are displayed by a simple slip of a toe between the throngs of my sandal. Even when the haywagon refuses to stack the two-hundred-plus bales dotting the Coastal hay meadow in long-lined rows due to a broken link in a chain, Summer begs for attention and cool heads.

Today, Hubby and I sweated in the back meadow even as I tapped my finger on the iphone screen to watch the weather radar show a large green area covering three counties, north of town. Rain. Farmers plan their crops according to the seasons and especially to rain. My hubby waited until just the right dry stretch to bale. So any rain on these small square, unprotected bales will ruin all two-hundred plus.

Building up in a small burst to the south of us, one dark puffy cloud after another, moved quickly into a mothership over us. I tapped the screen again. Nothing. Even as it was looking ominously close to a downpour we looked at eachother, shrugged our frustrated shoulders, and exhaled. "Whatever. If it rains, so what. We did what we could."

And we hauled what would fit in the back of a truck to shelter.

But the day ended and no rain. Late afternoon skies were pale blue with a sun boiling the ground in a humid haze resembling a mirage over the grass, known mostly in July and August.

Subtle changes make this miracle seem like a small twist of fate. But I know better. Creation testifies.
Photo: Hints of golden #sunsetting #brightEdges

Photo: First fruits from the hastily erected garden #daddy&boysDidGood #yum

Photo: All of creation testifies...

The 4th of July is coming and with it, more than half the year behind it. On a large area of Bermuda grass near the glittering swimming pool and city park straddling a black-topped street, are some of the most earth-shattering fireworks. Last year we sat as close as the colorful debris falling from the sky and into my hair, when the wind was blowing just so. The kids played with their friends as they weaved in and out of neighbors and small-town folk who had set up their blankets or chairs in hodge-podge fashion of an informal gathering with a spectacular show. Between holding my head at a ninety degree angle for Independence day brilliance and snapping it upright to stake down my boys in the crowd, a slight headache throbbed against my temples. But I hardly noticed.

Memories were being made. And day-by-day, our family is making history,  for the days of "I remember when."  Nostalgia cycles and recycles our own childhoods even as our children are creating theirs. It's celebrations like the 4th of July that we remember when, as we get older.

So if I write nothing else 'til Fall, with yellow puddles around the trunks of scruffy oaks, I lean in the seasons and press in the silence or the richness, whichever comes. And for now, I celebrate life, however it needs to be lived. Because soon enough, it will end, but only after I savor the wonder around me.


Join me at Kelli Woodford's place of Unforced Rhythm's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When You've Wanderlusted Your Way In The World--an Atlasgirl reflection

From Imperfect Prose to Atlas Girl, I'm following my friend, Emily Wierenga, as she shares her new memoir about finding our way for the weariest of travelers but this link describes it so much more eloquently-----> click here. If you're tired of searching and running, then Emily has something for you.


I remember the Christmas, as a child, when dolls where still a thing for me. They were very much apart of my imaginary world. My sister and I each received one that year. After ripping through the glossy red and gold paper topped with a bright bow, I found my fancy doll as if she stepped out of the mid-1800’s. A long hooped dress of baby blue and blonde tufts of hair were piled high on her head and a porcelain face buried under a flamboyant hat. 

But then it was my sister's turn to open her package and when I saw her doll, I knew someone must of have made a mistake. I re-checked my package and indeed, "To: Tammy" was marked clear as day.

The dolls were as different as M&M's and hot salsa, sweet and spicy. My sister held the dark exotic one with a red flamingo style dress which was shorter in the front than in the back, in stark contrast to the modest baby hues of my creamy one. The Spanish doll held a hint of my dreams as I imagined a life far from Arkansas toads, bumble bees, and hot springs.

I could hear the finger cymbals clanking while dancers widely swirled and I could feel the grit in my throat of gypsies kicking up dust as they caravanned down dirty roads. I do not remember how Spain made such a deep on impression on me as a child, but since I had invested so much of my playtime to such adventures, my sister conceded to switch dolls with me that Christmas.

To this day, I never made it to Spain. 

But I did travel exotic places just the way I dreamt I would as a child. Asia was never on my list, but it was my first experience of living abroad as a young adult who was now on her own, making her way in this big wide world. This place was so foreign and the language so far removed from lakeside camping under Arkansas pines that I quickly became homesick. Local holidays would include strange dragon costumes with fireworks and scary masks which made no sense to my english-speaking bubble.

At first these things were a delight, that even my red Spanish dancing doll could not compare. I marveled. I delighted. I walked with eyes wide open. I drank bizarre things. I ordered menu items I couldn’t describe. I befriended women of the sex trade industry. I walked red light district with friends. I saw darkness.

 I saw much. And this helped me to grow up.

But even so, homesickness ached like a hollow pit threatening to eat my insides. Even when I lived among the beauty of Europe, years later, surrounded by castles, turrets, and stone walls etched magnificently against the green lush landscapes of Germany, the ache gnawed, still.

From place to place, an intense wanderlust began to grow with the pain of feeling far from home, the sickness festering despite where I lived.  On one particular road trip across the Midwest, I saw a house sitting back off the road with Maple trees glowing their fire-y orange and red leaves in the front yard. This is home for the people who lived under it's roof and maybe they have a son who has memories of swinging from the lowest branch of that tree. As if from that one moment, I realized home is less about places.

It is by our relationships and it is known by this: home is where our familiar comfort resides. It is not just corral reefs, or autobahn highways, or elegant cathedrals, or Sugar Maples turning a lakeside picnic into a burst of golden reflections, or places and things, themselves.  It is the people and lives lived together making history that gives home an enduring and endearing quality, and making it even more beautiful than the places we go.


Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Your Calling, Battle Cries, And What I've Been Doing

I started this blog over four years ago as a baby bird being pushed out of her nest. Those first, awkward posts were sent out with my heart in my throat followed by panic. They were childish murmurings of one who stood on fledgling legs. One day, I don't remember what month or year, I emerged stronger, able to have less panic {most times}, and was able to stand on my own two legs that they call "your voice."  

But lately I've been considering change and how exactly that looks or how much energy I have for one. And right now, in a sense, I'm returning to the hidden work of writing. I'm learning to fly, quietly these days. Yet there are times for these open spaces and I need these too.

In my {new} journal, I recently wrote: "Perhaps a little bit of self-loathing is prone to artists because we can despise our vulnerability when we look at it too close, too soon. Usually after several days, do our words or our work make some sense to us in a way we can have some mercy and grace for ourselves." But I share this because it is much less about me. This is much more about you.

Because we are called, you and I, and we might as well believe it. "When we are crawling on our dirty hands and knees into a grave like damaged goods, saying that they may as well 'Go ahead and bury my shattered, worthless pieces right here,' make no mistake, a light is still glistening off the jagged edges. And we may have to hold our sword so long our arms begin to shake from the weight of a lie we are fighting, but we are equipped for battle."

I wrote that for us {at Outside the City Gate}.

Today, I am over there beating these drums: In Which I Write About How You Are Called {A Battle Cry}?  Will you join me?


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When You Are On A Journey You Never Intended {a review of Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray}

findingspiritualwhitespace_book"Even now, as I finish this chapter, I'm struggling. I'm trying to type words onto the screen but only blank space stares back at me.

If you've ever experienced anxiety--the kind that wraps around your heart with a cloak of stress--you understand how it tethers you back.

It keeps you silent."

~~Bonnie Gray, Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 It wasn't so long ago, and yet it was, that Bonnie began writing this book, the same book that triggered her depilating post-traumatic stress disorder. I was there before it began, in the typical days of her Faith Barista linkups, those times when everything was just "fine".

But life has a way of dealing us a hand to find us, to heal us in ways we never knew we needed. Just like that. She went from sharing her routine Barista shots, to sharing vulnerable posts about a pit with a dark hole and how day by day, week by week, she was climbing her way out. Not all days were successful.

As a reader, I began to sit up straighter, lean forward in my chair, and read with greater interest than all the "normal" faith-brewed days of yore. Her words resonated and so it began, the readers journeyed on with her. There was a story here, my story, her story, our stories as readers and we found we were in the hole with her. She may have felt alone during those periods of crazy insomnia and crippling flashbacks, but the reader, I, was there too. As she continued to share her journey, she was writing for me as well. All the things she was learning along the way were--me too.

A whole readership was climbing out of the pit, alongside one another. I had clawed out a similar path, through words. And together, silently, separately, en-masse, we wrote our way back.

Then the book came. It filled in all the cracks for me. It was everything I imagined it to be.

And more.

But you do not have to be there from the very beginning almost 3 years ago, now. Bonnie tells how it began, the impact and stress, the life-altering changes that would be necessary to come, how she was slammed to the ground with PTSD's, quite literally. Through it all, how she must find whitespace to save her body wracked with the "doing"s of a survivor. And you too, reader, will be there with her, much in the same way I was all this time. We learn in telling our stories and in finding our rest too.

If you are needing permission to slow down, to breathe and smell the roses, this book will not only give you that, it will help you see the imperativeness of it. But more than that, this book will walk you down the corridors of an interior life, hand in hand, where your soul can find quietness in your own whitespace.

Consider this your invitation.


"The world may view our broken stories and tell us it's better to hide them. To forget the shame we carry, put on a smile, and disappear under the work we do, the people we please, and the frenetic activity of keeping busy.

Spiritual Whitespace brings us to a different peace where we are real. Are you walking through a storm in your life, where you see parts of yourself from the past resurfacing? Are you afraid to move forward because it brings you back to where you've been hurt or insecure?.....

Sometimes we can't escape the places we find ourselves. But we can turn to Someone who has faced the trap of darkness, even though he was the Prince of Peace."

~~Bonnie Gray, Finding Spiritual Whitespace