Tips, Tidbits, and Morsels from the Slippery Hallways of Experience

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on many of life’s lessons that I have learned through the years.

I could pretend that I somehow missed the memo on preparing for adulthood when I was a teen.  But truthfully, I had my nose in a book, an instrument to my lips, spent years training my voice and often had a pen in my hand.  Mom tried to prepare me for the life skills a young woman would need as did my Home Economics teachers.  Musical and written creativity came so naturally; threading that sewing machine needle and cooking simply did not.

Growing up, my sister and I split the chores equitably to our liking; she did the cooking and I did the cleaning.  As a newlywed, my first attempt at making Mom’s vegetable soup was a disaster.  (Using plain water instead of tomato juice as the broth base was not a good idea.)  Before the convenience of the internet, I phoned my twin sister to ask her how to cook real macaroni and cheese; not the “from a box” kind that I usually made. She told me to add milk.  (Just in case you’ve ever wondered, canned evaporated milk and milk from a jug do very different things to a pan of baked macaroni and cheese.)  Oh, how I wish I had listened to my mother!

I venture to say that there may be others who have found themselves in the same boat; feeling unprepared and/or overwhelmed by their many roles in life.  Hence, from time to time on my Tips and Tidbits page, I will be sharing little “helps” and easy recipes that have made my life a little easier.  I can assure you there have been lots of lessons learned by trial and error, research, other’s wisdom and yes, much laughter and quite a few tears.

Tit 2:3-5  the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

A Thankful Heart

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I have spent most of my adult life away from home during the holidays.  For a woman fiercely loyal to time with family, that absence has never been easy.  God, in His mercy, graciously provided family connection through the years with precious friends.  While some years’ celebrations had the comfortable feel of familiarity, others have had the adventuresome spirit of new friends and surroundings.  God has shown me that thankfulness depends upon my own heart.  Thank You, Lord, for each experience as I learned to savor the old and embrace the new.

I wrote the following poem as I reflected on those early years away from home and the lessons I had to learn along the way.

 

A THANKFUL HEART

Saying thank you

this time of year,

obligatory acknowledgements and half-hearted well wishes

sound forced and insincere.

I set aside my must do list,

the wish I were somewhere else thoughts,

and lackluster attempts

to appear as I am not.

A single tear escapes.

I remember when the holiday meal

was accompanied by laughter and cheer.

Schedules were flexible

and relatives arrived when they could.

Delicious smells filled the house,

children played games outside.

Childhood stories were retold,

drowning out any grumblings

that our food might get cold.

This year,

I am so thankful

for those holidays long past.

Away from home,

I remind myself …

Each Thanksgiving holiday

must always begin and end

with my own grateful heart.

By Delores Brouillette Adams

 

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  (Colossians 3:15 NKJV)

The Writing Process

cam07967The writing process for this writer is by no means a quick one.  By the time a piece is viewed by anyone, including my personal editor (thank you, sweetheart!), it has undergone many revisions and much prayer.

Sometimes I add and/or delete lines, take out whole sections and even go in a totally different direction.  What began as a poem often becomes an essay or a greeting card idea.

A painter adds shading and darker colors to add depth.  The sculptor starts with a rough piece of material and then chisels it down to the object he pictured it would become.  The songwriter begins with a line or two and a song develops from there.  It is no different with a writer.

Oh, how often an idea comes but is gone before I write it down.  I wrote the following poem while reflecting on my own creative process which often results in many sleepless nights.

 

  The Writing Process

Ideas floating

Around in my head.

Do I really have to get out of bed?

Now, how did that story go?

Do I tell?

Do I show?

Which character said that?

Imaginary or Real?

Taking notes.

Creating the mood.

Excitement.

Dread.

Recording.

Editing.

Cutting.

Re-adding.

Rejection.

Acceptance.

More ideas floating in my head.

Ideas that refuse

To go back to bed.

By

Delores Brouillette Adams

 

 

The Next Dry Spell

 

The Next Dry Spell

The rain is falling gently,

Cleansing the air, the ground

And my soul.

I’ve just experienced an awfully dry season,

Both inside and out.

I need nourishment that only a

Cool, long drink of water

Can provide.

Slow, gentle drops,

Sinking in,

Filling up my reservoir

For the next dry season.

And so it is, Lord.

Digging deep,

I immerse myself in Your words.

I hang onto the last stanza

Of a worship song,

Offering up praise to You.

I hug my family and friends

Just a little tighter than usual

During our goodbyes.

Treasuring, storing and preparing

For the next dry spell

That shall surely come.

by

Delores Brouillette Adams

 

(Psalms 45:1) To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Contemplation of the Sons of Korah. A Song of Love. My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

 

 

Goodbyes, Hellos and Somewhere in-Between

Here’s one of many posts that I have been working on during small breaks from the unpacking.

 

GOODBYES, HELLOS AND SOMEWHERE IN-BETWEEN

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It was finally time to switch gears from preparing to move to this is actually going to happen mode.  We had been preparing for this for a long time.  Because the wait was so long, one of our children shared that it was like dealing with the emotions all over again.

This was most definitely not the timing we would have chosen.  But I have found that whenever I start to feel comfortable, that’s when the Lord prepares my heart for change.  It was time.

I don’t know about everyone else but with any major change, I want the particulars first.  Timing, location; please give me the details.  Yes, faith is a good thing.  Yes, I believe.  But the details, Lord; I need the details to pack along with my security blanket.

But the answer was no.  Get ready.  Get prepared.  The specifics will come later.  Oh, what an uncomfortable but necessary exercise in faith!

I would love to say that I initially embraced the moving news with great gusto.  After all, we’d been praying and preparing our hearts to step out in ministry for years.  But I confess that, at times, I falter.  I often want the road map first and will offer my obedience second.  God gently rebukes me.  Sometimes later than sooner, I eventually surrender and admit my desire to be self-sufficient.  In this case, I wanted to keep my warm “fuzzies” of loved ones close by, familiar surroundings and a life that had become, well, comfortable.  Just for a moment, doubts crept in.  Sigh.  Ah, but the Lord knows that I am a slow learner.  Obedient but slow.

Throughout the moving preparation process, I kept busy with packing, list making, and sharing the news amidst excitement and tears.  Get ready, get ready, and get ready kept beating through my heart, mind and soul.

Then, it was time to go.

How does one say goodbye, yet again, to family and friends that have such a special place in your heart?  How does one do it time and time again throughout a lifetime?  Does it ever get any easier?

I was reminded of my first heart wrenching goodbye as a teen at Bible camp.  One of the counselors wisely told my sister and me that it was the first of many goodbyes to come.  Neither of us wanted to hear that. It was a much too painful process to consider that we’d ever have to do it again.  And yet, so we have; many times over.

Is it easy?  No, it’s never been easy to say goodbye.  But there are two things which comfort me with each new goodbye the older I get.  The most important one is that in relationships with fellow believers in Christ, I know we will see each other again.  We have a common destination and that makes goodbye bearable.

(Colossians 3:2)  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

The second comfort is in knowing that a loved one remains in my heart regardless of geographic distance, technological challenges or mountains standing in the way of clear airwaves!

We said our goodbyes to old friends.

(Colossians 1:3)  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

We greeted new friends with hellos.

(Colossians 3:17)  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

And here we sit, somewhere in-between, about to begin this new adventure the Lord has for us.

(Colossians 4:17)  … “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Sand Bucket Memories

Sand Bucket Blog photo

Over the past few months, I have had some wonderful conversations with a dear friend’s Grandma.  Laughing and sharing stories about farm life, listening to her no-nonsense approach to life and farming tips like how to grow an apple tree simply from the seeds of an old apple core has warmed my heart.  It has brought back sweet memories of my own Granny.  Here’s a piece, originally written as a poem many years ago, about one particular childhood memory.

SAND BUCKET MEMORIES

These days, audiences of all ages are entertained by various electronic devices. Video games, movies, music and even books are played, viewed, listened to and read via laptops, cell phones, digital players and e-book readers.

Childhood play did not always involve such high-tech gadgets. Once upon a time, youthful joy came from fresh air, inexpensive tools and simple outdoor fun.

As a young girl, I visited my grandparents’ farm in Virginia on many occasions. Cattle grazed in the pastures and chickens roamed freely just outside the hen house. Granny clucked at the chicks as she doled out feed corn from her apron pockets.

With thirteen children and numerous grandchildren, family members visited often. She always insisted on feeding her guests; hungry or not. No one could make homemade bread and fried eggs like my Granny.

Relatives often stopped at the farm entrance to pick up mail from the family mail boxes. On one particular visit, we grandchildren walked with Grandpa to go get the mail. Each of us took turns carrying an empty five-gallon bucket which constantly banged against our legs. We skipped, ran, jumped and walked beside Grandpa as we followed their country lane through the pine trees, past the clearing and around the corner by the big oak tree. Opening and shutting creaky, metal gates and maneuvering our way over uneven river rocks was quite an adventure. We enjoyed our walk, asking a thousand questions. Grandpa’s answers matched his slow sauntering pace. When we dawdled, he’d remind us of the reward that would soon fill our bucket. Huge grasshoppers jumped across our path, frightening us city girls with their speed and power. Butterflies fluttered from one place to the next while bumble bees buzzed all around. We stopped occasionally to pick roses, black-eyed Susans, daisies and wild strawberries found growing alongside the road. The cows stared at us, chewing methodically; their tails swatting at flies. Grandpa assured us that we were safe from the bull as long as we stayed close beside him.

After retrieving the mail, we headed back to the house. Along the way, we stopped where the road rocks gave way to sparkling white sand. It was powdery and slipped right through our fingers. Grandpa shoveled the sand into our bucket and carried it back to the yard for us. He went quietly into the house to take a hard-earned nap; having satisfied both grandchildren and adults.

Our parents primed the hand water pump just outside the front door. The smallest grandchild caught a short ride, hanging onto the metal handle as it went up and down. Ice cold water gushed out; full of red iron flakes. It was perfect for homemade mud pies. Acorns were gathered from the base of the oak tree (our hidden stash from previous visits to help the squirrels’ through their next hard winter). Using Granny’s old metal forks and spoons, we dug up the rich dirt; mixing in the hot sand, water and acorns. We poured our concoction into discarded pie tins and rusty baking pans; mimicking Granny’s bread making. Fancy swirls were made on top with our magical sand frosting. Once our pies and cakes baked in the sun, we begged our parents to come see our creations. Before long, the creamy mud and tiny jewels lost their charm. The sand no longer glittered and gone was the desire to feel the cold soil move through our fingers and toes.

We battled huge flying insects, endured the sun’s heat, and journeyed that long distance with an old plastic farm bucket in tow … all for pure, white sand and a few precious moments with Grandpa.

Things have changed since those days of innocence. Grandpa and Granny are gone now as well as the original farm house and buildings. The farm has been divided between family generations and it makes me sad to see the farm split up by so many property boundaries. But I am grateful that when we visit, my children and I can still take long walks. I think of a time when childhood play required imagination, sand buckets and mud pies; not high-tech equipment.

The Refining Fires of Busyness

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I am so sorry for the unplanned hiatus these past couple of months.  Sometimes the seesaw of life (relationships, roles, unplanned events, and tasks) tips unevenly to one side or the other and seems to stay there awhile.  During busy seasons and faced with a decision on where to focus my energies, I often set creative endeavors aside.

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No, don’t adjust your monitor.  These photos are indeed out of focus and a little distracting.  A couple of years ago, the pace of daily life shifted to warp speed.  There’s barely time to live in each moment; much less process it.  As I click away, my mind continually processing scenes faster than the camera, my husband often shakes his head.  (I have even requested that no blurry photos be deleted.  Someday, I just might use those!)  Sometimes I snap a shot as some writing idea races through my mind.  More often than not, I am simply trying to capture the scenes of life flying past.

The busier the schedule gets, the quieter I become. But that quietness on the outside doesn’t always mean stillness on the inside.  Internally, there is often a flurry of activity as changes come fast and furious and I find myself in a continual balancing act.  There are times that I am quite certain the flexibility joint has bent as far as it possibly can.  But God always shows me that, yes, it can bend some more … if I am willing. He uses these hectic seasons to help me prioritize between the essential and non-essential.

Today, He may use me to bring comfort through a smile or a hug; to listen and cry with a grieving friend over a devastating loss.  Tomorrow, my role may be that of secretary, chauffeur, dish washer or grocery shopper.  Next week, it could be as homework checker, teacher, or all around errand runner; to name only a few.  And on most days, the roles collide and blend together.  Regardless of the task, I am called to be available; even in the words of my posts.

Yes, there is joy at warp speed … again, if I am willing.  Instead of focusing on what isn’t getting done or what’s up ahead, God reminds me of the importance of the tasks He sets before me.  He would have me live fully in His moment; not mine.   It’s not the speed of life that’s the issue; the problem surfaces when I take my eyes off of God, even for a second.

I pray that one day, even in the busiest of seasons, a peaceful spirit will reign inside as well as out.

Romans 15:32-33 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.  Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.