In three days, I will begin posting one chapter per week of my manuscript Surrender on the Trail.
I plan to have fun with this project. Hope you will have fun too!
If you want to help the process, here are three things you can do.
A) Subscribe to the blog by entering your email address via the top right side of the Home page. This guarantees that you receive an email once per chapter release.
B) Like the post or comment after reading. I would love to hear how the experience resonates with you or answer questions.
C) Share the chapter with people you think might enjoy the story. After the first week, I will include a fresh page link where chapters will be in numerical order in case you want to send someone one link regarding what has been shared so far.
Things are better for our family today than they were one year ago.
Or, today compared with the last seven years, seven years that got progressively worse until I thought my brain and heart might implode.
I felt fear typing the word “better”, but it is true.
And, thank people.
A key thing I learned especially the last three years was that help comes from the most unexpected places: complete strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, some friends, some family. There was a time when I would have refused help or tried to do it all my own.
I stopped being embarrassed of our mess and started saying yes.
Someone I trusted but did not know well sorted my jewelry and personal items. A team of painters from a church different from our own church came to our house for over a week, most that I did not know. Someone I barely knew out of town paid our electric at just the right time when I was debating the order and deadlines of bills. Grocery gift cards arrived. Encouragement came in the mail from both sisters (by blood and marriage) at just the right time every time. Someone ran a marathon to fundraise so that Hubby could get a mobile scooter. A friend spent 36 hours removing stubborn wallpaper at the condominium. One room had four layers! Eight women over 60 years old showed up to pack their cars with Rubbermaid containers to transport from garage to garage so that we could save time and money on moving day. This paragraph could be much longer with stories of miracle people showing up, but you get the idea.
One thing that rolled around in my head was that people do what they can when they can. I did not expect anyone to help. I think it is dangerous and mean to expect people to be there for you. For example, I am not a fan of Facebook chain posts that end with “and I think I know who will respond.” Yeah, no, at any given time, you do not know what someone is really experiencing or what they can make time for this minute or in this season of their life.
If you are going through a tough time, just be open without judgement. Say yes to those who emerge from the clouds. In addition, when you can, make sure you help others too. There are plenty of opportunities to be there for people when you can. Over the years, I have really enjoyed giving quietly when I was able. It was humbling to be on the receiving end. And, it was necessary to accept help. We would not have made it otherwise. Thank you to many.
When we have frustrating days now, I observe how quickly my mind thinks, “Thank You for my problems.” Right now involves acceptable water treading with a little space and capacity to roll with the waves. I feel the physical and mental stretch daily but nothing like recent years.
Last summer I was fortunate to visit Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The building is constructed with glass walls that provide a sanctuary in the woods.
While there, I thought about its openness to nature. I considered my openness to surrender.
Surrender means saying yes to God through the stress. Surrender says, “Sure you can sort these items in my bedroom. Seems like a personal place, but let’s go for it.” Surrender says, “Thank you for adopting my son to celebrate his high school graduation in ways that I would not have been able at that time to provide.” Surrender says, “Yes, please interview and find us the best realtor for our situation.”
Surrender is also the word that came to mind back in 2016 when I was out of shape and said yes to a near week long hike on the Appalachian Trail with a team of women.
I knew the ground was sliding under our family’s footing. Something was wrong. I thought I was losing my mind over our oldest son going to the military at 17 years old. Maybe if I ran away to hike and sleep outside, then I could get alone with God to work out my mixed up feelings.
However, there was more.
And, God was preparing me.
“Surrender on the Trail” became the title of the manuscript I wrote about our wild experience in the woods. Imagine four women committed to staying outside to maneuver rocks and mountains for 35 miles. Imagine getting lost in the rain at nightfall. Imagine tears and flies buzzing with an incredible 4,050 feet view above sea level.
I am thinking about publishing one chapter a week here on the blog. What do you think?
The manuscript has been complete and edited for a long time. Something in my heart does not feel like continuing to query publishers or literary agents right now. What if I make it available here?
People from 34 countries read this blog last year. What if I simply share?
If you have comments or ideas about this idea, please let me know.
Psalm 121:1a ~ I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD….
When a baby comes along, one hears “Enjoy them, they grow so fast” on repeat.
I took mental pictures of our tiny babes, memory videos of their first steps, wrote down funny things they said, and worked as late as it took to pull off birthday surprises and holidays.
But almost no one tells you how fast your marriage will go. One thing I do recall someone say at our wedding, “Look around. You’ll never see this many people who love ya in one place again until your funeral.”
Well, that was encouraging. Eek.
I’ve considered lately how much I cannot remember about the years with Hubby in the way I can with the kids. While there are some thoughts to revisit, it is not as easy to find the rewind button or scene selection.
So, these days I take time to freeze the frame when we laugh at a show together, when he talks the boys through a decision or when he reassures me that I’m doing pretty well considering. I even capture the kindness when he shuffles away to give me alone or reading time. He knows I need the quiet to recharge.
No one tells you that there may be a season of marriage when you feel a ping of jealousy seeing random people much older than you walking around together at a mall or on the street.
I remind myself that everyone has unseen burdens. Life sprinkles the challenges out to folks.
Still. It can be difficult to play out your hand while not wanting the game to end.
So, we’ll capture in each day what we can. The mundane is no longer dull. The hurdles mean we are breathing. It is the life we get to live each day.
It is that day when I promise once again that next year I won’t be in town on Valentine’s Day. I will be with girlfriends or on a beach, on a mountain top, anywhere else doing something–anything–not so ordinary.
Valentine’s Day is a double whammy. It’s also my birthday. Growing up, I loved celebrating with red hearts, white paper lace, pink streamers, balloons and all things Valentine.
As an adult, I realized many people have jumbled emotions linked to February 14. Happy feelings, angry feelings, dread, anger and so forth.
Then I married someone who expresses love inversely to what I anticipated. Let’s just say his first romantic gift was a bright yellow personal alarm to wear on my waist so I could pull the cord for it to wail and screech if someone nefarious came too close to me on my college campus.
We’ve worked it out. It’s taken a lot of tears and years. I’ve learned that the antidote to my occasional sad feels is to have less expectations, ask for something specific if desired, support or help others.
These days, ALS-21 plus a Pandemic make it so Hubby can’t get out to shop, or walk much, or feel good for a full day. I am happy simply when his words are kind. I like thoughtful and kind. Lately, I’ve been quietly thanking the writers of Call The Midwife. Hubby really likes that show. I call it his daily empathy exercise. Women have been through so much and that binge worthy series does not shy away from hard topics.
Speaking of writers, my feel better about Valentine’s Day activity this year was to support authors I care about. I directed Hubby to my wish list and he placed the order. I was excited to open the packages.
Janine Rosche is an author who picked me up off the floor when I received a bad news phone call at a writer’s conference. She prayed with me. Then I found out she was looking for a certain agent to meet. I am thrilled to say they met indeed and are three books into a successful journey. I now have a trifecta of inspirational romance to read:
William Klein’s book was lost in our move so I needed a replacement copy. This is a timely fictional story about a painful border experience.
And Jessica Terry is a writer that cracks me up with her Instagram stories. Like me, she was a basketball player in her youth. We’ve never met. I appreciate her work ethic and passion. So, I soon will read:
Who would you like to support? Someone creative? An organization that does something you value? Church? Someone elderly or ill? Doing a little something for others could brighten your Valentine’s Day. Earlier in the week, I called a couple people who I hadn’t spoken with in a few years. It was a good time on old fashioned phone calls.
Frequently, I think of the verse Love One Another (John 15: 12). Loving others does not result in only one direction of good vibes even when that should be our intention. When you love others, the good feels return to fill your heart and strengthen the weave of the universe.
Still in town,
P.S. Hubby also visited the Shari’s Berries website. Winner. Yum.
Basically, I have spent the weekend on a date with the book Think Again by Adam Grant. Thank you to my dear friend for telling me that his new book is available.
He is a psychologist who speaks all of my brain frequency love languages. I am applying what I’ve learned about re-thinking immediately. I propose this book can help multiple areas of every person’s work/life. Check it out if you dare.
“The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know”
Friday I took time to figure out the $5 Bluetooth wireless headphones that I’ve had since November. My body can roam the condo and walking path handsfree now.
The last three days also have involved editing one of my manuscripts. So, my creative soul is awakening–again.
I am 48 years old for 7 more days, filled with hope for 49.
See this girl with her typewriter and braces headgear? She has always been a writer and always will be.
Once upon a time, back when I thought I was tough, when I believed wholeheartedly that life will be what you make it, when I never cried at movies or much of anything besides a broken heart, my future husband and I took a road trip.
He played his favorite songs through the car cassette player. “Listen to Sammy Kershaw,” he said. “If we are going to get married, then we have to promise never to let this happen.”
The song was Yard Sale. The lyrics played:
Cardboard sign says yard sale Real estate sign says sold Family picnic table Holds all that it can hold On the grass and on the sidewalk Well there must be half the town Ain’t it funny how a broken home Can bring the prices down
Oh they’re sortin through What’s left of you and me Paying yard sale prices For each golden memory Oh I never thought I’d ever live to see The way they’re sorting through What’s left you and me
You left two summer dresses In the backyard on the line A lady just brought them to me Says she thinks they’ll fit just fine Well there goes the baby’s wagon…
By the time the baby’s wagon is sold, my lips are quivering.
Tears. What the heck?
And ever since that 19 year old day, I joined in on his idea of divorce not being an option.
When Hubby was diagnosed in 2017 with ALS-21, soon could no longer work, and he had to crawl if stairs were involved, I saw the dim light arrive over the home we once were determined to grow old in together.
I knew we’d have to leave.
And I knew our very real children’s wagon was in the garage. Do our sons need it anymore? Uh, no. Did we love it and use it a lot? Yes. That wagon toured the neighborhood many days, helped with Halloween, Cub Scout popcorn sales, and gardening.
I have cried about leaving our home for weeks while keeping my body sorting, packing, dragging, etc. Moving out of a home you’ve lived in over 20 years is more of a feat than a project. Plus, when leaving is a “have to”, the work can be extra painful. My heart resisted while my body ran the metaphoric marathon.
Then I learned that a 5 year old is part of the new family who bought our house. Turned out, she would like to have the wagon.
Take that, ALS-21! You can not have our babies’ wagon!
And that made me feel good. The wagon will live on in our neighborhood for a little while longer.
We are 4 hours into condo life without overlap with the house. There is a peace in seeing Hubby get around much better here. My mind & tired body will settle into the peace soon I hope.
Speaking of marathons, next Sunday Lisa Zupan is running 26 miles for two causes. One of the reasons is to help purchase a scooter and car lift for Hubby. If you would like to donate, click here.
Me, Myself and I spent extra time in the car together this week: after work four evenings, before work one day and once again Saturday night.
I try to be a quiet driver unless the passenger seeks to engage. There are lots of new people I can pray for. The 22 year old trying to figure out which direction she wants to go in life. The 58 year old with occasional seizures so he needs to let someone else drive. The couple who try to communicate but circle into frustrated dead ends over and over. The silent. The headphones. The laundry and the women who lug it home up flights of stairs. The young man who wanted to know what the heck flying pigs have to do with Cincinnati.
Now that I understand how to use the Uber App, the job is becoming more fun. I invested $6 into a handsfree device for the dashboard. I love it as in, “Where have you been all my life?”
Probably most fascinating are the Uber Eats runs. I find these are helpful to stretch my legs and to boost income for the night. I do worry about car wear and tear with the stopping and starting but try to remember that I have been running these same errands for free for my family for years.
I wonder why someone who appears to be able bodied needs Subway delivered from one block away. I am amazed by a delivery charge that cost more than the chicken rings they want from White Castles.
“Stop judging any of it,” I tell myself.
“Practice not thinking at all.”
“Everyone has reasons they do what they do.”
Then, “Ok, this delivery makes sense. The person lives in a place that is a difficult distance from the restaurant.”
Hubby says I need to remember people spend $8 on a daily cup of coffee without thinking about it.
Mostly I think, “Good for them. Time is money. Maybe this delivery helps the person with their self-care or maybe this helps their family spend more time together.”
And my second most often thought is, “I am grateful.”
Extra thanks to those who tip which is only about 15% of people so far. Your generosity helps.
There was no calming my heartbeat. Blood rushed through my body. My back and head hurt. I was scared.
It took me 3 weeks to set up Uber on my phone. I knew how to use Uber as a passenger. I did not know how to be a driver. The app is so simple that I was confused. I watched driver YouTube videos and tutorials, uploaded my car related documents, but understood little. I gathered that in order to learn, I must go do.
I told Hubby Saturday evening that I was off to try my best. We are in the 10 day financial crunch period of the month so this gal’s gotta make extra dough.
Seemed like there is not much trip action for drivers in Kentucky so I nervously headed toward Ohio to a sketch neighborhood that showed fares available on the map. Gotta rip the band-aid off, I told myself.
Suddenly the phone beeped while I was still in Kentucky. I had a trip request. I pushed “accept”.
The app directed me to Bonefish Grill. I looked for a human, then realized I was there for a food pickup.
Inside the building, I felt the little kick in the stomach that sometimes comes when I see couples out having fun. Couples without wheelchairs everywhere.
Aside from that soon squelched jealousy, I wanted to scream, “This is my first time with Uber!”
So many thoughts.
Servers brought the food bag. I hoped it was all in there. I glanced at the number of containers, but I am not familiar with that restaurant’s food.
Off I went 10 miles to find house numbers in the dark.
A nonchalant woman took the food after I called her.
8 dollars earned. Was that enough of a trial run or should I continue?
I see a “$5 bonus for 3 series” trip on the map. I am not far away so I head that direction thinking, What type of person needs 3 back to back trips? Will this be a grandma who needs to run a few errands? At 930pm?
Shows how clueless I am. That was simply an enticement to stay in an area and do multiple trips.
Which was fine, bonus either way. My first passenger was named the same as my best friend’s daughter. That gave me comfort. She was a sweetheart too.
At one point, I felt lonely on top of my newbie anxiety. Then inbetween trips, I received a text from my bestie seeing if I was out giving Uber Driver a go. It meant a lot to be checked on and she reminded me of Joshua 1:9 at the very moment I had made $19.19.
Then our 17yo texted at 11:30pm to ask, “Everything ok?” before he went to bed. That warmed my soul.
I stopped around midnight with 5 total trips and 45 dollars. Thank you to Madeline and Autumn who tipped. I can’t figure out if there is a way to say thanks through the app.
That is all I could handle on a first go. No matter how I tried to be calm, I couldn’t manage to be relaxed in this new arena yet.
I’ll keep my car clean and try to pick up more this week.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
My post holiday work schedule climbed quickly to overdrive.
I needed to work, attend meetings and events, write a grant, clean, pack the house, buy groceries, feed the family, transport Son-2 to various appointments, tackle to-do lists, juggle the finances.
And carry the laundry. Always laundry.
We miss each other when a schedule shift happens or my calendar is full. I think he liked having me around at Christmas and New Years. I worried that me working late four days in a row right away as the new year begins will annoy him.
Before ALS we could divide and tackle more of the house work. Once upon a time we did not need to think about what he physically can or can not do, or where he can physically handle going without help.
My hours are jagged with early and late variance. I never have had a clock in, clock out type job. I imagine it’s not easy for someone to live with me and guess what my week will be like.
His jobs in the past all had clear start/stop times.
So I brace for possible grumpiness.
I stress that we might struggle to transition back into a busy season.
In an attempt to head off an argument or avoid sassy words, I bring up my hope that we can deal well with me being on the move again.
He responds with, “I’m good. I know you have too much on your plate–and too many plates to manage. Grace extended.”
Those are some hot husband words right there.
One time I heard a pastor talk about when life gets hard you can either get bitter or get better.
Hubby could complain all day given his physical pain, but he does not.
In fact, he has only grown kinder since diagnosis.
Considering your partner’s perspective is one of the most attractive things someone can do.
I am grateful.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.