Run, Walk, Give to Save Lives

Couldn’t have said it better myself…so I’m simply reblogging. Hope you can come out this Saturday. I am looking forward to this!

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Of Sunsets and Moonrises

Isn’t life interesting?

My life is…even in the backwoods of the Ozarks with the Ancient Ones.

Interesting, I mean.

Every day is an adventure with new discoveries or challenges or growth or sorrow or opportunity.

Some people think my life is “on hold” while I’m here. It isn’t. Life is happening. Like time and the ocean’s tide…it cannot be held back. I know this. I feel this.

Can’t believe I’ve been here for over 2 years now. I haven’t moved here. I still consider home to be…well…home. But I’ve realized in the last couple of weeks that after years of hating Arkansas and saying that I never want to live here, I am actually putting down some roots. Actually beginning not just to appreciate…but dare I say….enjoy this place?

I’m not at all comfortable with these heart discoveries. I still view my time here as very temporary, and tearing up roots sounds painful. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to have another place to miss. I don’t want to be conflicted.

Doesn’t that sound cold? But it’s true.

I realize that it is spring. The chiggers aren’t out yet. Don’t take those last paragraphs too seriously. I will most likely be back to “normal” in a couple of weeks when I’m overly hot and outrageously itchy. But I have surprised myself. And now I’m even confessing on this blog for all to see.

I wonder how many of you realize how huge that is?

I served fish at my third annual fish fry here at the volunteer fire department. As I stood there working with the other women of the auxiliary and greeting people as they came down the line, I felt so happy to be part of this community…connected to these amazing people and characters who make me smile and warm my heart by making me feel loved and accepted and appreciated, or just by being themselves. So interesting.

Spring is gorgeously in bloom all around. The dogwoods thrill me. They are so quiet and pure and unassuming….yet brilliant. Lilacs, forsythia, quince, wisteria, daffodils, crocuses, peach blossoms, apple blossoms, pear blossoms…wow.

And green is back.

How I longed for green through February and March. That was another surprise to me. I’m an autumn/winter girl. Spring is lovely, but just leads to summer’s heat and bugs. Yet I found myself anxious for spring to arrive as never before. That had a lot to do with my garden. Yes…my garden. For the first time I really planted a garden, with the help of our neighbor and friend. He doesn’t know much about gardening either…so we’re learning together. And I’m so excited. Can’t wait to start serving up produce grown in our very own back yard!

The evenings have been especially lovely around here lately. They seem to have some special call for me. I cannot be inside. When I am inside, I feel like I’m missing out on a gift…an incredibly lovely gift.  So I go for walks or putter around the garden, or sit down at the lake and breathe and ponder. I don’t want to waste a single sunset. Ever again.

Which brings me to my story…

A few nights ago, I walked down to the water and watched the sun set in all it’s warmth and wonder. It had been a long week and I realized how exhausted I was by conflicted emotions, draining relationships and physical labor.  As I walked back up the hill, I saw the huge, cold, pure white fullness of the moon above the horizon in the opposite direction, and stood in awe as the whippoorwill’s song was punctuated by my grateful, humbled, beating heart.

The next night I took my camera with me to take some shots of the dogwoods in the woods as I waited for sunset time to come. I felt a tug to go up a nearby nob, but quickly shook the notion, since I wanted to be down at the lake to see the fire and water gloriousness.

But wait….what about the moon rise? I wanted to see the moon rise too…that brilliant, cool purity that I had seen the night before.

I found out that sunset and moonrise were going to be about 5 minutes apart. Since the moon was going to appear over the hills behind me, and the sun would sink well below at the water’s edge, I knew I couldn’t see both.

“Stick with the original plan, Sage. Just go down.”

I started down the road that led to the lake. Then I stopped.

“But I want to see the moonrise. That beautiful, beautiful full moon!”

“Sunset…all that warmth and color and reflection on the water.”

“But the moon is part of me!”

I was standing in the middle of the road. Frozen from motion. Exhausted. Conflicted. Ridiculously indecisive. Suddenly this had become so much more than where I was supposed to be in five minutes.

The sunset is warm and familiar and what I had planned. I knew what my goal was when I left the house. It was all so clear. I wanted to see the very last colors of the day’s end.  But the desire to see the moonrise was so strong and unexpected. It was the beginning of the light of the night. And it was going to be beautiful.

Tears slid down my cheeks.

What in the world?!?! I was standing. In the middle of the road. At the top of the lane to the lake. Crying. And completely unable to make a decision about what direction to take.

Sunset or moonrise? Sunset or moonrise? Sunset or moonrise?

“Sage….if you stand here two more minutes you’ll miss both…and then you’ll have something to cry about!”

Guess what I did? I prayed. As if this was a life changing decision.

“Yahweh, what should I do? Where do you want me to go? What is Your plan?”

And I felt the answer…”Go up. To the high places.”

I looked down the road toward the lake. Suddenly it seemed so dark and lonely. I knew I couldn’t go there.

“Go up.”

“But there are SO many reasons not to go up.”

“Go up.”

So I did. Fast. Almost frantically. My time was running out. But if I could make it to the top of the nob, maybe I could see both the sunset AND the moonrise…and that would be perfect! “Wow, God…what a great idea!”

But even as I thought that, I felt deep inside that this wasn’t about seeing the sunset or the moonrise. Words like “refuge” and “strong tower” and “high places” swirled around my head as the path to the top curved around the hill.

I was breathless and sweaty when I made it to the top. But that’s okay, cause if I’d had any breath it would have been taken by the view anyway. It was amazing. My words, and even these pictures don’t do it justice at all. I could see so much of this winding river of a lake from up there. And hills, and trees and sky and loveliness in every direction.

And clouds. Clouds in a circle around the horizon…blocking the sunset and the moonrise both.

But it didn’t matter. Not in the least tiny bit. Being up there I was above the sunset. Above the moonrise. I had found a Refuge…my Strong Tower. Up on the High Places. I was on my knees in praise. I was standing with my hands lifted in prayer. I had an overwhelming peace and felt the all-surrounding presence of my Father’s love. Close. Comforting. Real. Vastly real.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul.”

It didn’t matter about sunsets or moonrises or Arkansas or Oklahoma or Iceland or Timbuktu. Gently, lovingly I was reminded that God is my strength and my portion. That my life is His and that my main desire is to live fully for Him…wherever He wants me for as long as He sends me. I don’t need to be anxious. I don’t need to hold back. I don’t need to be jealous of my heart. It’s His. He is my satisfaction and my joy.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul.”

I stayed till almost dark. It was a mountain top experience I didn’t want to end. But my Father wasn’t done showing me His love. Just as I came to the road off the hill, a full, orange, warm moon showed itself through the clouds. Tears of gratitude blurred the first few lightening bugs I saw, but suddenly my path was lined with hundreds of them. I have never seen so many at one time. Ever. And they lit my way for the half mile walk back to the house. The whippoorwill song was punctuated by coyotes yipping and howling. The air was soft and fragrant.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul…thank you.”

PS. The moon and firefly pictures are ridiculous, I know. I apologize. Really need to learn to use my camera in low light. But I had to post them anyway. I just had to.

…and counting.

In a very short time I’ll be leaving a decade behind. Isn’t it funny…..one minute changes everything somehow. And yet really…it changes nothing.

After all…it’s only a number.

Yes…but what a number!

I spent my entire 29th year depressed that I was going to turn 30 and that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. That wasn’t helpful. At all.

Living and learning, as they say, I’ve spent my 39th year determined to use my up-and-coming birthday as a springboard – the start of a year long celebration. I think that’s supposed to happen every 50 years (year of jubilee) but I can do it again in a decade. Every good thing that happens this entire year will be “for my birthday”. Just warning you all to be prepared to hear that phrase happily and often.

I feel like I should write a post full of deep thoughts on turning 40. But I have tried, and I think what I’m finding is that I have no deep thoughts on it. Upon further reflection and deeper examination, I find there to be several possible explanations for that: (Did anyone else notice that last sentence doesn’t sound like me at all, or is it just me?)

a) I’m not REALLY turning 40. There has been a mistake somewhere along the way.

b)I’m turning 40 with the Ancient Ones in a community full of people decades older than me. I’m still the baby of the neighborhood and everyone treats me like a child…so it’s almost a moot point really. Would be completely different if I were turning 40 at home where I would be “The Ancient One”.

c) Turning 40 is accompanied by so much hype and sensationalism, but I’m looking at it very pragmatically and realize there is nothing to it.

d) The entire idea is so utterly ridiculous to me that I can’t take it seriously.

e) I am in total denial.

f) All of the above.

A few months ago I half jokingly said I would dye my hair and pierce my ears on my 40th birthday.

I’m not doing that.

Quite honestly, I’ve grown thankful for my gray hair. Since I still feel like I’m 25, I’m using my quickly graying hair…and yes, even a few wrinkles…to remind me that time is passing…and that I need to be aware of who and where I am in my life. Nice as we think it would be to always be 25…we’re not. And there are different times and seasons. I don’t want to miss out on the beauty of the seasons by dreaming that springtime will last forever. (How incredibly wise and mature does that sound? HA!)

And…..I’m still not good at making decisions or figuring out how I feel about poking holes through my ears…again.

Anyway…

Next time I post…I will be 40. How’s that for unbelievable?

Hypersensitivialityism

It is 7 AM, and I have been awake for almost 2 hours. Not by choice on this Sunday morning that I was prepared to sleep through.

I lay in bed for an hour trying to get back to oblivion. Obviously…that didn’t work. Instead, I lay, acutely conscious of the sound of my blood flowing through my head.

This endless rhythm that I became aware of a couple of nights ago is teaching me.

(Well, not endless. It isn’t endless.  I know that. It just feels that way at 12 or 2 or 5 in the morning. Actually, I am very thankful that blood is flowing through my head. And every other part of my body. And I hope it does for years and years.)

Anyway…as I lay there, acutely conscious, I made up a new word. Hypersensitivialityism. Like it?

hy·per·sen·si·tiv·i·al·i·ty·ism: being overly sensitive to trivialities and ending with an “ism” because, as Grandpa Vanderhoff said,  “When things go a little bad nowadays, you go out, get yourself an -ism and you’re in business.”

I don’t know why I can suddenly hear my blood flow. But I’m glad that I can’t always hear it…or all the other workings of my body. Wouldn’t that be annoying? It would be like living, working, breathing and sleeping in a large, noisy factory of valves and pressure and machinery. I’m thankful that my hearing isn’t overly sensitive. What if it was? What if I could hear all that was said or dropped or slammed in the neighbors’ houses? What if I could hear all the cars in the county? What if all the trivial noises all around us were suddenly amplified by 50. Yikes.

Yet I love so many sounds: rain on the roof. laughter of loved ones. ocean swells. baby snuggles. happy sighs. wind through pines. whistles. bird songs. guitar strums. mormor’s swedish accent. thunder rumbles. echos. voices of friends. deep cello notes. pounding surf. rushing rivers. harmonies.

And on and on and on.

Yesterday, I had a migraine. My migraines are beginning to fascinate me, where once they simply aggravated. Yesterday’s was particularly interesting. I had pain, but since it wasn’t debilitating, I spent the day noticing hypersensitivialityism. To everything. I was nervy…in every way.

My olfactory nerve was working overtime, let me tell you. I ended up opening windows all over the place. And there is still something in the fridge that needs to be found and disposed of. But yesterday was not the day for the job. Trust me on that.

So many wonderful fragrances, but somehow an overly sensitive olfactory system would be a curse. Still, I am so thankful for the smells I love: rain. daffodils. fresh-baked bread. herbs cut out of the garden. line-dried sheets. coffee. clean babies. mormor’s night cream. papa’s basement. home. rocky mountain air. pine needles. the ocean. balsam pillows from Suze. vanilla.

And on and on and on.

I love sunshine. But yesterday, after the clouds disappeared, the sunshine literally made me wince. When I was driving back from town, bright flashes of light caused pulses of searing pain that I couldn’t believe. Normally, I don’t blink twice about shadow lines on the road, or chrome bumpers and car doors tossing reflections around like clowns juggling two-edged swords. I am so thankful that I do not always experience hypersensitivialityism in this way. I don’t want to walk through life in dark, shaded places. I love light.

It’s easy to talk about hypersensitivialityism on the physical level. But it goes deeper than that. I told you….I was nervy in every way yesterday. I was amazed at the things that irritated and grated on me. There are times when a life of solitary confinement would be beneficial to me…and all around me. Maybe I can just leave that there. This blog post doesn’t have to become a confessional.

Yes, hypersensitivialityism relates to emotions as well. I am so thankful for emotions. Living life numbly is no way to live. Trust me on this. I know. Living life with love, excitement, happiness, depression, anger, sadness, peace…such a blessing. Such a very mixed blessing.

But how often do I allow myself to be angry and depressed and sad just because of hypersensitivialityism? How often do I assume I know another’s motivation or meaning when the cause of pain is merely miscommunication or misdirection? How often do I allow guilt or anger to rob my joy or steal my peace because I can’t let go and trust? How often do I miss out on valuable instruction because hypersensitivialityism doesn’t let me accept criticism honestly?

Sensitivity is good. I want to be sensitive to the feelings of those around me. Seems like it would be pretty vital to good relationships, actually. And I want to be sensitive to God’s direction and instruction. I don’t want to shoulder my way through this world without being aware. No thank you!

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. I don’t want to let hypersensitivialityism steal that fruit any more. Defining the enemy is the first step to conquering it, right? Right.

And there you have it. Lessons learned from listening to my blood flow at five in the morning. Who knew?

Portrait of a Chicken

So how do you like your chicken?

Fried?

Baked?

Roasted?

Stuffed?

On the….claw? (On the hoof sounds so much better, doesn’t it?)

Someone I know and love seems to have gone a bit chicken crazy.

Which is very amusing to me.

She is really getting into the whole feathery fowl world. And guess what….she’s picking her breeds of chicken based on the color of their eggs. That’s the kind of artist she is. So very cool.

So…how about chicken on the wall?

That’s right, folks. My chicken-crazy mother has painted an amazing portrait of a chicken. And she’s giving it away. That’s right, folks. Step right up and comment on her blog.  Best hurry right on over though…you have to have your comment in by the 19th. What’s not to love about a chicken on your wall? Or…you could hang it in your chicken coop! Then Niemen Marcus will have nothing on you!

folky-chicken-2

Introducing Roger

So….how many blogs does a girl need, you might ask.

And that’s a good question.

I post most often by far on my Appreciation Blog. And even though it was supposed to be a 365 project, I’ve decided to keep it going for a very, very long time. Totally purposeful decision there, you know. Of course. Good things don’t always have to end, right? (Okay, the truth is that I’m a horrible procrastinator. But you already knew that.)

On this blog, my “Something Sage”…it’s sort of this and that, whenever I feel especially like posting. Or something.

But when I met Roger…I knew I needed a blog just for him. Just for all that may, or may not, be him.

My heart trembles as I offer him to you. After all…he’s very dear to me. And what if you don’t understand him? What if you don’t get him? What if you don’t like him?!?!

Still…he’s part of me.  And it feels like it’s time to introduce him to you.

Are you terribly curious by now?

Well, without further adieu….

Meet Roger.

Where Do They Come From?

I woke up and looked at the clock. 3:33, to be exact.

Funny. “3” is my “special” number.

But it was much too early to be awake….even if it was cool to see 3:33.

I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Waking up again….I looked at the clock.

3:33.

Weird.

Too tired to even think through that one, I closed my eyes again and sighed, blissfully remembering the nights of nothingness I took for granted.

Curiosity prompted me to look at the clock again.

3:33.

Freaky.

I think there is a movie like that…but I haven’t seen it in years.

Once more I woke up…

3:33.

Yikes.

Then I woke up. And realized it had all been a dream. Waking up over and over again throughout the night makes for some crazy rest. Even if you aren’t really waking up.

Ummm…..yep. That happened.

Then last night I dreamed very actively about being in this poor part of a big city, and holding poor, crying, dirty babies and hugging them as I talked to their mothers and tried to help them move to safer places. There were boys on skateboards that I knew by name and we smiled and waved at each other.

I went away, but felt compelled to return. I needed to help these people.

But when I got back, it had been years and years and the place that was so populated was like a ghost town. One man came walking toward me, but he was scary looking and I tried to move away. He called out my name, and then told me that I helped him when he was a boy, and that I hadn’t been afraid of him then. He was still the same person, he explained…so why would I try to run from him? I was confused and frustrated…and thinking.

As I woke up out of this dream, I heard a voice say, “This is what you are preparing for.”

Wow. Dreams are interesting. I like them. Most of them. But where do they come from anyway?

Why Me, Lord?

Why me, Lord?

Why would you choose this for me?

Why have you blessed me with an incredibly wise and loving mother who has given her life to You and then her husband and her children? Who has shown us how to live a life of surrender and beauty because of You and Your saving grace?

Why do I have a knowing and understanding father who loves me in spite of everything and anything…who would do anything he could for me? Who has supported me in so many ways, who wants only the best for me and would never purposely hurt me?

Two parents who divorced when I was young but handled it all so well, that I have never really felt the drama or had the scars that so many do?

And then, on top of that…a step-dad who has never treated me as anything but his own. And loves, protects and cares for me? Who has led us to walk in Your ways through his example and upbringing?

And a step-mother whose beautiful, caring heart and loving spirit inspires and warms me. Who has taught me also of selflessness and nurturing?

Five handsome, wonderful brothers who I love more than I can say. Who love me and aren’t afraid to say so?

Three beautiful, talented and all-together lovely sisters who are my friends and my inspiration?

The most adorable niece and cutest nephew in the world. My heart smiles just thinking of them!

So many sets of amazing grandparents who have all made me feel loved, appreciated and even smart!

Uncles and aunts and cousins who I love and adore.

Friends, so many loving friends…scattered all over…but here in my heart.

Why me, Lord?

When there are those who have seen the worst this world can produce…and live and smile anyway. Who have been beaten and misunderstood…misused and abused. People who have never had one sincere hug in their lives.

I have more than any one could deserve. You have blessed me overwhelmingly.

Why me, Lord?

Let me be a conduit of all of this love that pours out over my life. Let me love the unloved. Let me be Your arms to hug the destitute. Your hands to serve the hopeless. May the blessings of my life motivate me to bless others.

Thank you, Lord. Let me be worthy.

Manipulated

I feel manipulated. Such a strange feeling. I’m really not sure what to think of it all. Here’s the story…

A couple of years ago I distinctly remember saying that I would never wear orange. I made an exception for “burnt orange”…but no bright orange for me. Who could love that bright, happy color anyway? It was….orange.

My sister loves orange. I always thought that was crazy. And she painted her room yellow AND bright aqua-ish blue….which I also thought was crazy…until I saw it finished. She’s an artist, and has vision. She’s good.

Then in late 2011 I started to notice a lot of orange. And Pantone’s color forecast said tangerine would be THE color of 2012.

Huh? Really???? How could that be? How could they possibly interest enough people in such a garish color???

Well….guess what?

I’ve been manipulated.

I bought an orange teapot.

Orange showed up in the garden…in spite of Grandma’s preference for blue.

We watched this movie that I can’t remember the name of…but the lead actress wore these combinations of yellow, turquoise and orange. Beautiful. It became my new favorite color trio.

I bought an orange top. At first I couldn’t bring myself to wear it in public, but used it for a pajama shirt. It has become one of my most worn summer items. Along with a necklace that I bought that had orange in it. And my orange flip-flops. And orange hair bands.

I have some orange fabric that I thought was so cute I knew I’d be inspired just by owning it.

Somehow I couldn’t pass up the orange hat I saw in a shop in Guthrie.

I have been royally manipulated! I guess that’s how marketing works, no?

However it happened…I love orange. It’s all over my 365 days: fresh appreciation blog. It jumps out at me wherever I go. And now it’s almost the end of the year and all this orange will be outdated right?

But it’s okay. The color forecast for 2013 looks very promising. 😉

 

Meanwhile…I need to figure out how I feel about being so manipulated!

 

Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago tonight my Uncle Tom died. I went and sat beside Grandma while she got the news. I brought her a glass of water. I offered to sit up with her. I had no words.

 “No,” she said, “I think I’ll just go to bed.”

My cousin Alex said at the memorial. “When he died, I thought the world should stop.”

But it didn’t.

I cried that night. Hard. Maybe harder than I’ve ever cried before. I sat here alone and sobbed. Harder than I needed to, really. I think I felt pressure to get that over with…to get it out…so that I could be strong for Grandma and whatever tomorrow brought. That was my opportunity to grieve for and by myself. And I made the most of it.

I think I may have literally cried my heart out, because I feel awfully empty inside. Except for those moments when it hits that Tom is gone forever. Then my stomach flips over…just to remind me that I’m not completely empty, and I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a moment before I go on.

Grieving happens in waves. That’s merciful, really.

Tom died Friday night. Our friend and neighbor died Wednesday afternoon.  Tom was 60. She was 64. He had been diagnosed with cancer five months before. She died so suddenly that still we can’t believe she’s gone. He waited too long to go in for treatments. She was at the doctor’s office for an appointment a few hours before she died, but had no idea there was anything wrong that was life-threatening.

Her husband called to tell us that she had died. He said he’d like it if I came over. I went.

The medics were still there. She was stretched out on the living room floor, covered with a sheet. She was there…but gone.

There is a sort of routine that happens when someone dies I suppose. Certain people who come and go. Questions to ask and answer. Forms to fill out. Steps to take.

I watched…from a distance. Such a distance. How could it be so distant, yet in the same room?

It felt appropriate for me to be there. There was fellowship in our shared losses. I didn’t worry about how to act or what to say. I was too deep and too close into the death of my uncle to feel outside of this. We worked together to do what needed to be done.

All from a distance. From such a distance.

Two weeks ago tonight, I cried my heart out. Maybe when it comes back this will all sink in.

 

For now, I am especially appreciative of grace for the moment. And for your prayers.

Don’t worry. I’m okay.

Like Grandma says, “I’m okay. Just very, very sad.”