Posts Tagged ‘Journal’

Dreaming From My Back Door

Backyard June



Give me a box of brand new crayons, let me open and tilt the box just enough to allow them to slide partially out, exposing all the
variety of shades.  I will be happily entertained in my mind for quite some time.   For me, the visual experience of color is such a
pleasant sensation that I’m sure is part of the reason I became a preschool/early elementary teacher.  It didn’t seem to matter what subject I was teaching, I always found a way to interject vibrant color into the lesson plans and the ancillary materials.  Color makes
me happy.

Back  yard in DecemberSimilarly, the absence of color makes me sad.  When the environment is monochromatic, I feel my energy draining away, and I become listless, lacking in motivation, and have difficulty with just ordinary daily tasks.  In small doses, monochromatic environments are relaxing….but then there is that point when
relaxing become depressing.

I remember a cross-country road trip I took with my sister and aunt.  We drove from Kentucky to California and back in about 18 days.  There were so many first-time visuals for me that I was in awe…almost visual overload at the astounding beauty.
Even the deserts we crossed, at first were amazing….and then they went on and on and on and on with lack of color.  It was that time of the year when there was no green to be seen.  I remember my sister lamenting, “I just need to see green”.


That’s where I am with this winter season.  It’s been unusual for us here in Kentucky this year.  It’s been so white, andBack yard in February for such a very long time.  So far the news is reporting  we’ve had 36 inches this season.  We aren’t used to this, and I am feeling the need to see color – soon!

Initially the snow fell like confectioner sugar ; gentle and soft like a draped blanket.  After a few days, the sun melted a little of the fresh snow and small tufts of grass poked through just enough to create small brown areas.  From a distance I imagined a box of powdered cocoa being lightly sprinkled across the powdered sugar.  Soon this visual gave way to greyish, dingy laundry, needing a little bleach to bring back the white.  As the weeks have gone by with additional snow, then ice, then salt, then melting and refreezing, my world has taken on the appearance of monochromatic mounds and boulders of sooty frozen chunks of lava.

I’m trying hard to keep my spirits up, but I along with others who are of the persuasion of a box of crayons being a pleasant thing, am ready for the bursting forth of rich vibrant colors on God’s green earth.  Won’t it be a lovely thing when we spot that first green daffodil shoot pushing up through the sod? And then a tiny purple Crocus?  And then…well, color!


I remember feeling this way last January.  We had just returned to Kentucky after having lived in Florida for several years.  I stood at
my back door looking out on what seemed a wasteland, devoid of anything remotely inviting.  I felt sad.  I missed color. I began to
dream and plan what I wanted the yard to look like in the spring.

Back yard under summer rennovationToday I have already visited the back door several times and am again envisioning a new dream.  I just can’t wait for the warmer weather to get her to implement my plans.  But first, I need to decide what plants I will put back there, and perhaps order some seeds from a catalog and get them started indoors.  I need to get ready.  There’s a lot
of planning to do if I want to be ready when the snow melts away. Let’s see, I could probably visit some thrift stores and find some quirky little items to tuck into my
flower garden, and maybe an old window, or door to do something a little different in that back corner.  I remember once painting an old bicycle solid white and decorating
it with flowers….maybe I’ll do that again.  Wonder where I can find a cheap, or even a free discarded bike?  Hmmm, I’m feeling better already.  Maybe I should visit
Pinterest for a few new ideas.  I wonder if my daughter has any old flower catalogs I could browse.

I see the beauty of the snow.  God speaks to me as I walk along snow-covered paths in the quietness of the woods. I thrill when a Cardinal perches on a stark branch against the backdrop of a snow-draped evergreen tree…and still, I yearn for the vibrancy of spring.
I long for the “time of the singing of birds.” I’m so thankful that God promises the continual flow of one season, to the next, and the
next, and that we can rest in His promise that spring will return, “In its time.”

Has this long winter got you down? Are you making plans for Spring?  I’d love to hear what you are doing to get past the blahs.


Making the Ordinary; Extraordinary

October in Seaside, Oregon

October in Seaside, Oregon

February is my birth month, and in the words of my Mom, “I’ve done a ‘heap of livin’. From her I learned to be highly motivated; always working on a new project, and to never quit.  From my dad I learned to approach each day as if it were an adventure. Most days, living an adventure is the way I would characterize these past sixty-three years.

The word adventure is a main-stay of my vocabulary.  To my ninety-four-old mother-in-law, I propose, “Let’s have an Adventure.”  To my grandchildren, “You wanna’ go on an Adventure?” To my husband, “I need an Adventure!”  The Bible says, “this is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  I tend to think of this verse as an invitation to have an adventure.

Some adventures are exciting, some not so much.  Just as “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, so is adventure to those who choose to approach the ordinary in an extraordinary manner.  An extraordinary adventure I launched just before my fiftieth birthday, was the return to  full-time college student status after a thirty-year absence.  This adventure, though exciting, held ingredients of fear, insecurity, and a great amount of anxiety.  Of that experience I wrote in my journal the following observations.

 January 1999
Panic attack.   I can’t do this!  I don’t know what all these other people know!
As I take my place in the classroom full of strangers, I tenaciously look around, noticing telltale signs that they too are uncomfortable. Seeing fixed smiles, nervous twitches, tapping feet, I wonder – facade of security?   Anxious about this experience?  Are they feeling the same first day anxiety I feel?  Perhaps all of us are insecure in some particular area of life.

The Students –
One student, though smiling, continually picks at an almost invisible blemish on his face.  Another student seems to be anxious that his embarrassing tremors might begin at an inopportune time.  Is the boy seated in front of me thinking about his poor writing skills, wondering if he will feel foolish in front of his peers?  The girl across the room appears to be thinking only of the rejection I observed only moments ago when in the hall  her boyfriend broke-up their relationship. A quiet young man seated in the corner seems to be feeling inadequate about his physique as his gaze darts back and forth to the body builder seated beside him. One student appears ill-at-ease because she alone represents her race. The foreign exchange student sits tall, pensive, and quiet.  Is she worrying about her faulty English skills?

The Teacher –
The teacher approaches the classroom with first day jitters – experienced though he may be, he knows each new class evolves a little differently than the one before. There’s that unknown element as he faces the new class.  Is he concerned at all whether we, his students, will like him?  Is he as prepared as he hopes to be as he prepares to present his lecture? And the students . . . we all sit here wondering about the teacher.  Will he be clear in his method?  Will he be fair? Will he be interesting?

The Class –
I begin to realize we all have insecurities of one sort or another.  We each possess some wonderful strengths and feel high levels of confidence . . . each in different areas. I begin to feel less vulnerable, more energized, and am discovering a growing confidence with this thought.  This is the day the Lord has given me to return to college…to rejoice, and to have an adventure, and to be glad in it.  From my individual strengths and weaknesses, I will boldly approach this new learning experience with an adventuresome spirit.  We as individual students will tackle the assignments with an enormous amount of energy and we will all grow into a group.  We will succeed and we will learn.  All our unique insecurities will pale against the brilliance of the accomplishment of learning and new academic achievements. We will gain strength as we each recognize our individual frailties and move beyond our own insecurities.  We will recognize that we are all unified in purpose, we are learners in life; we are pilgrims.  We are masters simply because we have dared to take the risks of simply being students. We have embraced learning as an adventure.

Have you ever experienced a time when you almost missed an adventure simply because you lacked confidence or felt insecure?  Whether your calendar for today is booked with routine, mundane, or stressful activity, how about making it an adventure?   Who knows, the ordinary just might become extraordinary.

Apples on a Silver Platter

Bro Bob Norman with Ritchie Hale

Bro Bob Norman with Ritchie Hale

Though most of us would rather not attend funerals; the funeral home is often the place where reunions occur.  This was the case for me last week when I attended the services for a friend, Bro. R.B. Precious friends and family members spent the time catching up with memories of days gone by as we laughed and cried together.  The occassion was to celebrate the life of our friend who had passed away, but in so doing, the gathering had an almost surreal atmosphere of joy mingled with sorrow. Though many of the people who came to visit didn’t know each other, we were all bonded together because of our shared grief of this precious loved one.
A young lady, who I didn’t recognize, came to me during the evening.  She wanted to tell me what a difference I had made in her life when she was just a teenager.  I was astounded.  I couldn’t even think of her name, or how I had known her until she filled me in on the details and I realized who she was and how our lives had intersected so long ago.  What a joyful reunion.  I had NO IDEA that my life had meant anything to her life.  

As I saw one after another of the friends I had known since my teen years, one in particular , Bro Bob, was such a joy to my heart.  I met him and his wife, Elaine, at a pivotal point during my teen years.  As I stood talking to him, it occurred to me that I may not have ever told them how much they had influenced my life, what they had meant to me as a teen, and how they continue to bless my life as an adult. 
Often times we want to say something, but then we don’t.  For whatever reason, we hold back and  the opportunity passes us by.  Here I was standing at a funeral home with a visual at the front of the room that life is brief, and opportunities will not always present themselves “later”.  So why not speak now.  I spoke up then, and I do so here today as a reminder that there are others to whom I owe a word of gratitude. These two dear friends gave of themselves sacrificially to me, a young teenage girl. That gift of love, encouragement, guidance, godly counsel, patience, and acceptance made a difference in my life. That young lady who had spoken to me earlier during the evening said I had made a difference in her life, and in so saying, her words of thanks touched my life.  The gift of gratitude is an on-going, unending gift. She could not have known that just that very day I was feeling a bit like a used-up, “over-the-hill” retiree, wondering what I had done that was in anyway worthwhile. She couldn’t have known that her simple words went to my heart and whispered, “keep at it, it’s worthwhile.”  Her words were like the proverb, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver ” (Proverb 25:11NKJV). 

How about you?  Has there been a time when you have thought of someone who has profoundly touched your life…and you’ve told them so?  Or maybe the opportunity passed you by and you wished you had?  It’s not too late to take action today and share a simple thanks.

Williston Crossing – At It’s Best

By Ritchie Hale 2009
from my camper window – a monthly column of Willison Crossings RV Resort Park

At a time in our lives when we desired respite from the hectic pace of our work, a place of solitude at the end of the day, and a place to call home, we discovered the beauty, friendly atmosphere, and relaxed living of Williston Crossings.

The facilities were immaculate, clean, inviting, and beautiful. The grounds were well-manicured, set up to be functional, and kept up. No detail was overlooked; even music in the bath house. There was energy on the campground as campers came and experienced the vision of those who dreamed this place into life through personal sacrifice. Campers bought into those dreams by adding their own energies, and so the work continued. Management made us feel welcome. They had the time to visit with us, attend our functions, participate in, and plan activities. They were our friends and we didn’t feel that we were “putting them out.” There was a “feels-like-family” atmosphere.

The People: My husband and I have camped all our lives. First as children, then with our own children, and now as full-timers. Our vocabulary has changed. We joke about living in our “cramper” We dream of four more feet and an extra pull-out. We discuss rigs, rally’s, holding tanks, towing packages, great parks to visit, newest gadgets for our unit, and who’s doing what, where and why. We share with each other a life-time of wisdom, knowledge and skills learned along the journey of life. We talk about our children and grandchildren. We whittle, quilt, scrapbook, make cards, weave, build, landscape, paint, craft, dance, sing, worship, participate in charities, laugh, love, support each other during cancer treatments, births, deaths, and living. We are diverse in our backgrounds, ideologies, theologies, politics, methods, and manners, but we are community – tight-knit community. Any of us would do anything for any one of us, for any reason if called upon to do so.

Campers come to Williston Crossings; stay a day, a week, a month, or a year. They leave here and go to another park. They join another community. The sit around and visit with each other and have the same conversations. Only this time, they have added knowledge of this great park; Williston Crossings. We’ve not done this yet, but we hear Williston Crossings is discussed as one of the best across the nation. I know it’s the best in our area, and we love it. We want it to continue to be great. We want the efforts and dreams that have already been invested here to live on.

When we see a little boy playing a game of pool with his grandfather in the game room, sharing quality time, laughing together, we are seeing Williston Crossings at its best.

When we walk into the Clubhouse during a Campers on Mission Rally and hear 80 voices singing in harmony, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,…” we are hearing Williston Crossings at its best.

When we stand at the top level of the deck on a crisp, breezy morning, listening to the birds as they sing the morning songs of their Creator, seeing the rising sun dance across the water in the quarry below us, we are experiencing the beauty that is Williston Crossings.

When we sit around the campfire in those wonderful rocking chairs, feet propped up on the wall, talking and laughing with friends, we are enjoying Williston Crossings at its best.

When we can come together after a time of being apart, share what is happening in our individual lives, encourage each other, embrace, grow in our own personal lives, and stretch our thinking to new heights, we will have understood Williston Crossings.

Lessons from “Scamper”

In the hectic pace of life I sometimes wonder how that special time of “being still and knowing God” slips off and eludes me.  I let guilt overwhelm me as I take an afternoon to go sit on a log in the woods and just look around at all the things God has created.  Then after I get past the guilt, I see a little squirrel scamper by, and for a moment I am lost, wondering where he is going, what he might be thinking, and if he has a little family up in a nest high above me.  Then I see him scamper along the ground in search for an acorn, or other little tidbit of food. 

Soon I am reveling in the whole spectacle in front of me, giving him a name- “Scamper”…and that takes my thoughts to our youngest grandson who has a stuffed squirrel.  He named that animal, “Scamper“.  I begin to pray for that little boy Connor, with his vivid imaginations and his little imaginary friends.  I pray that his imaginations will always be under the power and control of the Holy Spirit, according to the verse where Paul admonishes to “cast down imaginations, and every evil thing that exalteth itself against God”.

Then my thoughts go back to a day when I walked through the woods with little granddaughter, Cassidy.  She and I saw a squirrel “scampering” up a tree.  We stood there quietly watching in awe as he stared at us.  In a moment, Cassidy waved at him. The squirrel waved his tail back and forth, all the time, watching Cassidy.  I was awed by the seeming trust built between two small creatures in the forest…what was this I was witnessing?  Cassidy in her quiet little 3-year-old voice, kept saying, “it’s okay little squirrel, we’re your friends…you don’t have to be afraid of us.” 

Sitting on my log in the woods, years later, in a time of first feeling guilt about “being still” – God taught me something valuable.  What started as a guilt session, ended as a prayer, and praise, and worship session.  I came away feeling renewed (in the spirit of my mind), refreshed (as cold waters from a far country), and ready (always to give an answer).  What a wise God who admonishes us to “be still and know that I am God!” 

Wow, I sure have a lot of “to do’s” on my list today…but they are all in perspective, cause I arose early, went outside, walked around – with eyes of wonder.  Beyond the noise of the bulldozer down the street, the hum of traffic on the highway, the ambulance rushing by…a quiet appreciation crept in and I noticed the mist was rising off the ground as the sun filtered its way through the morning haze…, there was a mother Robin feeding three babies in a nest on our pool house wall, and the little dogwood tree I planted had three leaves on it!!! 

God has given me yet another day, and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

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