Save the Bell Bottoms, Trash the Tube Top!

In keeping with Kathrese McKee’s idea of writing a letter to my younger self, I have decided to continue. Only, I’m writing to my seventeen-year-old self instead of the fourteen-year-old version. I went through the biggest transition of my life at seventeen. All through high school, decisions were made for me and my goals were set by someone else. Suddenly I stood on the edge of my future with no one but me calling the shots. Exhilarating freedom, with a huge side-order of fear.

Loraine at 17

Dear Loraine,

First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to others. That girl you think has it all together: looks, brains and a hot guy? She’s as human as you are and is headed for 3 bad marriages and a few other bad choices. And the hot guy? At the 20th grad reunion, he was single and embarrassed himself and everyone else by flirting madly with all the gals. Totally unattractive.

But really, the quicker you realize it’s not about how you look, (because that changes) the happier you’ll be.  And luckily you settle down with someone who loves you. And that’s the very best you can hope for. I won’t tell you how you meet, but don’t underestimate car rallies. Nuf said…

And don’t think babysitting other peoples’ kids will be like having your own. As much as you loved those kids, another whole world opens up and there will be no boundaries on how much you will be able to love your own. So scrap the idea of having no kids in the future.

Beware of that religious group that has no affiliation with a church. Scary stuff!  Mom does have the right instincts on that one. Listen to her!

Please, don’t let the cat sleep with you. I took years of desensitization shots to get over our cat allergy. And also, take better care of our back. Leave the 75 lb. bales of hay for others to drag around. This back won’t last us till ninety if you keep thinking you are super woman!

Much to your surprise, we turn out just fine. The dead-ends and detours are actually moving us forward. They are God’s ways of teaching us some things about ourselves and our dependence upon Him.

Oh, and keep your bell-bottoms, trash the tube-top, don’t buy the Vauxhall, don’t wear the friend’s jade neckless to the dance, believe in your dreams, and get rid of your eyelash curler.

Can I clarify the bell bottom suggestion? For females, the fashion comes back, but, thank heavens, not for men! Seriously is this a good look?

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And, one more thing. Love yourself more. God knew what he was doing when he made us! 🙂

Love,

Your older self.

What would you have told your seventeen-year-old self?

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PRAISE FOR THE DOZY AND DISTRACTED!

Sweat trickles down my back as I haul away at weeds in my yard. I glance up at my neighbour reading on his deck above me. He spends hours a day, every day, in the same place doing the same thing. I frown and grumble to myself. If it wasn’t for the seeds from his weeds wafting across the street, my job would have been a lot easier this summer.

But then again, to be at my best and most creative self, doing a mindless task, like gardening, is something I need. My brain functions much better when given time to let my mind wander. Problems like figuring out a solution to plotting a story, or settling family issues are solved with an hour or so in the garden. Or on a walk, or in the shower, or dusting, or…

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It’s as if the solutions to my problems have been worked out by my subconscious, but due to stimuli of all kinds, the subconscious can’t spit out the solutions. But when my mind wanders, or is even bored, up bubbles the solutions to my issues. It’s like I have to reset and refresh my brain, like my laptop. Happily, I found an article that substantiates my claims.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/02/27/when-being-distracted-good-thing/1AYWPlDplqluMEPrWHe5sL/story.html

Meditation of all kinds have been used throughout our history for many purposes. I have run across a couple of different meditation techniques and for the most part, they relax and center me, much the same way as gardening (or walking etc.) Personally, I need about an hour a day of just vegging somehow and letting the stresses loosen their hold on me. I am by nature, an active person, constantly, on the go. But later in my years, I’ve realized that to be at the peak of my creative potential, my brain needs to be sidelined a few times to get some rest.

And to admit to having to be dozy and distracted is hard for me, but alas necessary.

And want to know a deep dark secret? I also find youtube videos a distraction! (I do like the horse ones and the cat ones!) But moderation is key! I know if I haven’t had some down time, I allow myself a few just to veg for a few minutes. Okay more than a few…

What are your ‘go to’ mindless tasks that relax you, and let the creative parts of you bubble up to the surface?

Remembering…

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It was the most memorable Remembrance Day (Veterans Day for those States side) that I ever had.

It was my first year as a teacher,
and my first large project.

For a change of pace the kids were not going to the cenataph this year as they had in the past.
Instead, since the beginning of November the students had been studying about those who gave so much.
Kindergarten students had carefully traced and cut out their small hands to make wreaths of red.
Older students had written poems and short stories.

The kids entered the gymnasium and sat in crooked rows–
the air thick with anticipation.

With a solemnity not normal for school kids they laid their wreaths and sang ‘O Canada’.

But the most memorable part was to come.

I took out a story written by one of my high school students
and I read.

It was a long story.

My throat got sore and someone brought me a glass of water.
My legs began to cramp and a chair was placed beside me.
The bell for next class rang.
But there was silence as 100 kids scootched closer…riveted.

When the final note of Last Post hung in the air,
the Thank You from those gathered in silence was palpable.

Still this wasn’t the most memorable part.

Years later I met up with one of my students in town,
and they told me how memorable that day was.
But more important, Remembrance Day had taken on more weight.

Something had clicked on that day,
an understanding of what these men and women had done.

How important freedom truly was.

And isn’t this what we want to impress on generations to come?

On this Remembrance Day those in Canada will be remembering the deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

I want to thank all those who have served in the past and those who continue to serve.

Thank you.

poppiesinlondon

 

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

God is a Writer and a Disc Jockey?

Another rejection! But the editor seemed so genuinely interested at the conference. I was sure this would finally be a start to getting published. I tossed the letter on my growing pile and headed out for a walk.

Should I have taken more time with the proposal? Did I send it too early: maybe I should have taken more time to see what was selling? I really would have loved to go to another conference to meet more agents and editors, but with all our bills piling up, how could I justify it? Would it have helped anyway? But I’d spent so many years writing and learning my craft, I hated to simply cash in at that point.

Questions twirled around in my head. I added my rejection to the smorgasbord of stresses already on my mind. My face flushed from my blood pressure climbing through the roof.

I wandered down the road and zipped up my windbreaker against the wind. Leaves rolled across my path and a chill spread down my back. The dark grey lake about a couple of miles away and below me was spotted with whitecaps. Bluish grey clouds billowed above the mountains. The blustery day suited my mood.

But the words of my daily devotional that morning came to mind.

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There is a part of the sea known as “the cushion of the sea.” It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by the storms and churned by the wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remains of plant or animal life, it reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The peace of God is an eternal calm, like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it. And anyone who enters the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed calm.” –Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

I smiled. I was as if God wrote that just for me that day. Such a timely devotion on the day of my rejection, and stormy weather to remind me of my devotional’s words.

How many times had God already reminded this slow learner that he was and still is sovereign and holding the reins of my life? He’d been loyal and trustworthy in the past, so why did I always have to fuss and lose sleep over my problems?

So often I prayed, “Oh Lord what shall I do?” when I should have prayed, “Oh Lord, what are you going to do?” When that shift happened, it was much easier to settle back and wait expectantly. That didn’t mean I could merely stop and let him take over, it meant that I had to provide the ‘legs’ and he would steer.

That morning my devotional was just what I needed. Sometimes though, a friend can offer words of comfort, or a perfect flower can show me how ingenious He is.

Or, (this was really good) he can use the radio to get through to me!

One day when I was driving home, particularly blue and sulky, I called out to Him as I turned on the radio. Simon and Garfunkel’s song, Bridge Over Troubled Waters came on. I lay back in my seat, trying to assess whether that was just coincidence. I turned the radio off and stubbornly accused Him of not being there when I really needed Him at times. I sulked again for a bit, but turned back on the radio, curious whether He would attempt to get through to me again. It played Ann Murray’s song “You Won’t See Me, with words “Time and time again, you refuse to listen…”

“Okay! You win!” I declared laughing. So apparently God is a disc jockey too.

disc jockey

God continually amazes me with his sense of humor and his ingenuity in getting through to us. So what ways has God used to get through to you?

Yearning for Smooth Sailing

An experience from many moons ago… that means as much or more today!

Every time I open the refrigerator door, I’m greeted by a pool of water surrounding the vegetable drawer. The little hole in the back that’s supposed to drain excess moisture is plugged. So far, our attempts to fix the issue have been unsuccessful. So I sop up the water and groan about an old refrigerator that needs replacing.

As I thrfile7631292337511ow the wet towels into the washer, I pause as  the sound of my three-year-old daughter’s cough echoes across the house. “It isn’t even officially fall yet,” I grumble, closing the washer lid a little harder than necessary. Reports of widespread illness in the community make this cold seem more serious than the last one.

Walking past the kitchen table I can’t help but notice the stack of paperwork waiting for my undivided attention. My husband was forced to change jobs earlier in the year leaving our health insurance in limbo. Because of our daughter’s cystic fibrosis, it appears our only option for covering her is to apply for the state’s comprehensive insurance plan for chronic illnesses with it’s high premium and exorbitant deductible.

“Mommy, he’s here!” yells my three-year-old Jenna. Glad for any reason that let’s me put the insurance crisis on hold for even a moment, I hurry to the front door.

Another groan. It’s the man from Roto-Rooter. “Mrs. Steury? I hear you have a problem with your sewer line.” I show him to the backyard all the while praying the solution will be quick, uncomplicated and inexpensive.

By the time Jenna is tucked in for her nap, I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted. Too tired to even think, I stretch out on the couch and close my eyes. Several minutes of quiet my_photography_199soothe my weary mind until once again my thoughts can focus.

Although I am powerless to change the present circumstances of my life, I know that GOD is not. With the slightest touch of His outstretched hand, every one of these frustrating situations could be quickly and painlessly resolved. While I believe without a shadow of a doubt that He could choose to instantly solve every issue, I have doubts that He will.

Why? Because some lessons can only be learned in trying times. Sometimes important truths only become evident in the darkness of adversity. Many rough edges resist through all but the toughest of life’s dilemmas. These daily studies in patience, faith and trust have the power—under GOD’s authority—to make us stronger and more Christ-like.

While my mind accepts these truths, my heart still yearns for the tranquility of smooth sailing. No annoying dilemmas, no difficult decisions, no worrisome waiting.

And so we press on, fully assured that He loves us and is deeply concerned with every aspect of our lives. It is comforting to remember that His footsteps will not lead us where His grace cannot sustain us. His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” has proven true time and again and will continue to dsailboat_01o so.

Whether he chooses to miraculously resolve every situation in our lives or to use them to mold us into His likeness, the choice is His. It is enough that He promises peace in the midst of the storm. I would rather have that peace with all my current and as-yet-to-be-known issues than to be living a tranquil, problem-free life without His daily presence and provision. No contest whatsoever.

Some twenty-two years have passed since I put this experience to paper. It will come as no surprise that we survived those issues and went on to bigger and more challenging situations! All of which we also survived.

I like to think we are wiser and more trusting now. Yes, more trusting for sure. Hopefully, a little wiser. Definitely a lot grayer! I do believe if anything, our belief in GOD’s provision and compassion, His caring and power are even firmer.

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t find myself thinking, if not uttering aloud, how grateful and thankful I am that what happens in this life is not up to me but up to Him. His ways are not my ways nor are His thoughts my thoughts. And that’s a very good thing!

How about you? Does trust come easily OR are you a worrier?