Sunday, April 1, 2018

He Is Not Dead


I looked across the lunch table in my preschool class and noticed a little girl with tears streaming down her cheeks. She was quiet, but obviously something or someone had upset her. 

I knelt beside her in the middle of the noisy chattering group of 4 year olds and asked why she was crying. She pointed to her friend sitting next to her and said, "She said that Jesus is gonna die on Easter! I don't want Easter to come!" 

I hugged her and said that her friend made a little mistake and that on Easter, Jesus is alive and that's what Easter is all about. About Jesus being alive and not dead at all! By this time the whole class was quiet and listening to me. She smiled and said she felt better now. 

Our preschool is a Christian school but we don't talk about Bible stories much in my class. I don't really know if I am expected to be doing that, but it seems like an area best taught by parents and Sunday School rather than school. 

I did make an exception this last week though. I told a story of a little girl with brown hair, brown eyes and freckles on her nose named Susie. Our Circle Time true story was about the Sunday many years ago when the little brown haired girl came running and shouting into her parents arms in a church sanctuary, yelling, "Mommy, he's alive, he's alive!!"

My mother told me this story about when I was only 3 or 4 and a Sunday School teacher must have somehow got the message across to us little ones with clarity. I don't remember this moment, but I love it. 

Today my main big thought is simply that He is alive. Jesus is alive! I will admit that I do not feel Him as clearly as I did years ago, but I still know and believe that He is alive in me. 

When so much around us is negative news, this is the good news. The BEST news. I am sitting here in my living room feeling weepy, listening to Keith Green and 2nd Chapter of Acts ( I am old, you guys. Whatever). 

In a few minutes I will get in my little yellow truck and drive around the corner to the sweet Methodist church behind my house. I will bask in the gentle music and smiling faces. I will rejoice in the knowing that He is alive. 

Happy Easter y'all. (Yeah, I said Y'all.)
Susie

UPDATE: I am home from the Easter service and this time it was my turn to be the quiet one with tears streaming down her cheeks. But my tears were an overflow of thankfulness for my Jesus. He knows me, loves me and is alive today. In the people around me and in the swaying trees in my backyard that I am looking at just now as I sit in my yard and tap these keys. 

Once again I choose belief, I choose faith, I choose to trust the unseen; illogical and fanciful though it may seem. I choose Him. It is so simple and so complicated. But here I am choosing faith. 

Here I am quietly shouting, "He is alive. He is alive!" 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Random Journal Day Reunion! Come Join Us!

Well, it is 8:30 pm, I have a nice glass of white wine beside me, husband is smoking a pipe on the back porch, my grandkids are asleep and their parents are movie-watching in their own room. 

Our home is quiet, which does not happen a lot. I am savoring the quiet and this moment to rejoin some old friends for a Reunion of the Random Journal Day gang. But I hasten to add that new friends are welcome to join! It's so easy!

All we do is find one of our old journal entries and use it as a writing prompt for a blog post. Then you simply connect your blog up to the organizer of this fun; Enthusiastically, Dawn. On her blog you will find a list of other bloggers who are sharing their journal writing too. (AND I heard a rumor that she is doing a big GIVEAWAY that you will love!) 

My blog has not been a very active place for the past year due to a new job and lots of crazy changes in our family. But all is well and we are happy and healthy. My last few blog posts will catch you up on what has been happening around here. 


Now I am teaching preschoolers to journal!

My blog, RECOVERING CHURCH LADY had to be abandoned due to a mix up regarding my domain name and payments. So now I live here at WALKING BUTTERFLY. I hope you come back often, as I try to get back into a more regular writing routine. Please tell me about your blog, I would love to visit you!

Our mutual friend, Dawn has challenged us to dig into our journals once again and create this little RJD Reunion, so I guess I had better get to it or she will nag me to bits. You know how she is, right? 

A journal entry from July 25, 2017 made me smile the other day, so I will let you in on the little joke too. I'll just let you read it for yourself...


"July, 25, 2017
This morning when I went into the kitchen to grab my cup of coffee, my grandson (almost 3 years old) and daughter-in-law were on the couch with a book. Grandson says to me, "Grandma, you are in trouble!" 

Turns out that he had been repeating a funny thing that he'd accidentally said yesterday and I had laughed at it. So his mama had told him, "Oh man, Grandma is in trouble now!" 

In the swimming pool yesterday Grandson wanted to tell his daddy that he was going to "kiss" him, but instead he had said, "I'm gonna piss you Daddy!"......And Grandma cracked up!

Oh well."


Oh well, indeed. If it is funny I am going to laugh and I will not say that I regret it one bit. Nope. In fact it still makes me crack up today! 

This is probably one of the plethora of privileges that grandparenting affords. I am not over thinking and analyzing everything I say or do, like I did as a parent. Grandparents can relax a bit...mostly because we know that we are still going to mess up and the kids will survive and forgive us in the end. (For the most part, anyway.)

I love being a grandma. In fact tomorrow I may just grab my grandson and tell him I want to give him a big piss! (Just kidding Honey.) 


Hey look Dawn. Found my old RJD pic!

Susie

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Am Still A Writer, Right?


I am still a writer. 

I will always be a writer, because I was one long before I was even brave enough to call myself one. So I am a writer, even though my posts are now more of what you see here; my classroom. I love my classroom and the little people that filter in with huge smiles and warm hugs.

My writing has been pushed aside while I try to give these kids all that I have. They keep me awake at night and my writing desk is overflowing with projects for them. 

I hope my writing life is not over. From what I have experienced in recent years, you never know what is around the corner. Life can change in a moment and the unexpected turn can be better than anything you have imagined. 


I am still a writer. I will find a way to send my little words out. I have thoughts, you guys. I do. 


Stringing words together to create a sentence still gives me great pleasure. I love the act of writing. I even enjoy editing what I have already written! The challenge to cut words, add words, clarify meaning and convey emotion is so stimulating that it becomes all consuming and time stands still. 

When I was writing my book I set my alarm to get up an hour or so earlier than usual because mornings are my most creative times. I often woke up before the alarm had to do its job. At first I resisted the early morning writing routine, even though so many writers recommended it. I was not working at the time and I knew that I had all day, every day to write my heart out. Why in the world set an alarm when it was not necessary? 

But, NEWS FLASH to my dear aspiring writer friends; Blank days in which to write can still result in a blank page. (For some people.) My empty days remained empty as I procrastinated sitting at my desk to write. It made no sense really. Why was I cleaning closets and organizing shelves when I love to write? Why did I procrastinate? 

Knowing that I had unlimited time to write a book made me lazy. I need a deadline. I require an outside motivation apparently. My outside motivation came from friends, old and new.

I have some online friends that I have never met in person. Two of them became my cheering squad to finish my book. Pam has a book in her and it sneaks out in her frequent blog posts. Her observations of nature as it surrounds her woodland home are captivating and they always gently lead the reader into a moment of marveling at the Creator of such beauty. 

Dawn is another special online writer friend who seriously nudged, pushed and badgered me into finishing my book. We talked about our book dreams over Skype and promised to ask about progress made with a specific deadline in mind. 

She asked me about my creative process and encouraged me to find the same time each day to write. I began to set my alarm and it changed everything. Both of us are now published authors with books!

The beauty of morning writing is that the guilt of not writing is taken care of for the rest of the day. I could enjoy my day knowing that I had produced some pages and will do it again the next morning. I found myself taking little notes during the day in preparation for the next morning appointment at my desk. 

I loved walking through my dark and silent house with a cup of coffee in hand, heading for my laptop. My dog Layla would pull herself awake and follow me quietly. She curled up on a chair in my office and accompanied my typing with her snores. 

I am not sure what is next for me. I am not a novel writer. My one little book is a nonfiction inspirational. So it's not like I can conjure up a new story to tell. I am waiting for a message I guess. One that only I can tell...or one that I can simply add my voice to. 

In the meantime, I will continue loving on the little people that fill my classroom with noise and silliness.   

Susie


Monday, January 29, 2018

Family House


I love it when my grandson backs into me so he can sit on my lap to help him with his shoes. He can put on his shoes by himself. After all, he is a whole 3 years and 3 months old now. And ever since his mommy drew a couple of little faces on the inside of his shoes, he never gets them on the wrong feet.

But I am greedy for any chance to hold this gangly and busy little guy. The days of rocking him to sleep for nap time are long gone and our good-night hugs are much too quick. Grandpa has developed a strategy to pretend he doesn't want a good-night hug in order to get a good one. 

Two families living together in one house can be a tricky maneuver. We are doing it and learning as we go. It began almost accidentally and was meant to be temporary, but now we are thinking about how we could make it a long term adventure. Who knows, it may not work out to find a place for two families, but it's fun to imagine and play with the idea.

Because there are some pretty amazing moments that can happen.

I love this one right now. I am writing on the couch in the living room, Husband is outside having a pipe and my son and daughter-in-law are in the family room playing with Legos with Grandson and nursing Granddaughter. I can also hear Daughter-in-law reading a chapter book aloud to her little family. 

In the morning I will wake up to the sounds of Grandson and his daddy cooking breakfast and chatting away in the kitchen every single morning. I've never cared about sleeping in so this works out fine. Besides who would complain about waking up to the aroma of coffee without having to get up and turn it on yourself? 

Grandson is my cheerful guinea pig for my preschool book choices and art ideas. He loves books and I am crazy about reading aloud to him so it is a definite win-win for both of us! He has also helped me appreciate nature in my yard, down to the teeny tiniest little seedling we find on the ground. We discuss it all and then he joins me in waving "Hi everybody!" to the airplanes overhead. 

Another great moment is meal time. Grandson likes to find out who made what and tell them "thanks for making this Grandma (or Mom)." Before the meal is over we will probably get to watch the food negotiations happen. "Three more bites of this and then you can eat that." Our meal time is often done in shifts lately anyway, so one of us can hold Granddaughter while others eat and then trade places.

Of course, I also get to hear tantrums from Grandson and "don't you dare change my diaper" screams from our 3 month old Granddaughter. I grumble when trying to fit my groceries into our overloaded pantry and we have to do a bit of car choreography in order to get our vehicles in and out of the driveway each morning. 

But these are all signs of family life. The hard stuff comes with the sweet stuff.  

It is never boring in my home. 

And when Grandson backs into me and asks for help with his shoes, I will always say yes. 




Saturday, January 13, 2018

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review for "Journaling for Discovery and Delight"



It hurt my heart to do this to the page, but I had to obey the author.
 I bought a wonderful newly published book recently that I must tell you about! It is titled, "Journaling for Discovery and Delight" by Dawn Paoletta.

I have always been a journal-keeper. Filling journals with my deep thoughts and twice as many shallow thoughts has come easy to me, it is as natural as breathing. But this idea-jammed little book is an inspiration to even a long time journal keeper like me!

The 21 chapters of "Journaling for Discovery and Delight" are fast paced like the voice of the somewhat hyperactive author. You feel like you are sitting at a little table somewhere chatting about writing with a good friend.  Her love of words and true delight in helping others shine through in sentence after sentence.

I love all of her tips and writing prompts that can move our journal keeping from becoming boring and predictable to fun and insightful.

Dawn leads brand new journal keepers into easy steps to cut out the intimidation that sometimes loom with the blank page of a new journal. Speaking of which, let me explain the picture with this blog post. I don't think Dawn will mind if I quote from that page to explain why I messed it up.

She has told us to look at ourselves in the mirror "and repeat to your reflection, 'My messy is just fine, I don't need to be perfect, or write perfectly, I just need to keep it real and the rest will flow.' 
Now see that fresh new journal page. See all the empty pages before you? I want you to grab a cup of coffee, take a big sloppy sip, and let it trickle down the outside of the mug. DO NOT get a coaster or napkin, Instead set it in the corner of the first page of your journal. ..... See that stain? Good, now you don't have to worry anymore about how everything needs to be so perfect in your journal, in writing, in life. Life is messy. Let your writing reflect what is real." 

Doesn't that make you want to grab that book and read the rest? Dawn talks to us as a friend and a guide into the writing life, especially journal writing, which is the best way to move into writing for others.


Many of the chapters end with a 5 Minute Writing Challenge and the space to write in, so you can practice what you have just read, brilliant!

If you have been curious about keeping a journal or you know someone who is, this book would be the perfect way to jump start a beautiful habit that can change your life.

(Journaling for Discovery and Delight by Dawn Paoletta is available today on Amazon.com.)



Susie



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Layla

Waiting for Vets office to open. I hoped this was not my last pic of Layla, then dismissed the thought as morbid and overly dramatic.
On December 18 I took our dog Layla to the Veterinarian by myself because she had been listless and unusually lethargic for 24 hours. Husband could not go because he'd already used his sick days from work. My daughter-in-law offered, but that would also mean bringing a newborn and an active three year old.

Our crazy dog eats sticks, lizards, legos and matchbox car tires, so we figured something she ate was making her sick. After a thorough exam and a million questions the vet said that she had "a traumatic insult to her liver." I stood next to her on the exam table and the manner and sadness of the young nurse and the doctor told me more than the medical words could.

In the truck I had noticed that the whites of her eyes were very yellow and outside the office door she stumbled and leaned against me and did not bark at the other dog waiting near by. Definitely not a normal Layla.

The vet kindly said, "I am afraid there is no good end to this situation with your little one." He believed she had eaten something that damaged her liver irreparably. I still have no clue what hurt her. She has no access to our pool chemicals, but our house has a forest behind it that sometimes send us snakes, armadillos, coyotes and any assortment of critters that could have brought poison into our yard.

She was suffering. I was sobbing by now and I asked if he was suggesting we put her to sleep and he said he was afraid so. I whispered "ok."

The doctor and nurse left me alone with Layla for a while then showed me a paper to sign giving my consent. They left again so I could say good bye. I removed her red collar with the little pink bone shaped dog tag. I told her she was a good dog.

The nurse returned and gently picked up our Layla and pointed her head towards me and softly said, "Say bye bye to mama." My heart broke and I held her face and put my forehead on her forehead and said, "Bye bye baby girl."


They took her away and I sat in the exam room alone trying to fathom what had just happened. I was going to have to walk back to my truck with just her leash and collar. How could this be happening? The nurse came again and said she would meet me at the reception desk whenever I was ready. Thankfully they have two reception areas so I did not have to walk back into a waiting room full of people and pets.

I cried all the way home and am writing this at 5:30am, unable to sleep.

I came home to a too-empty and too-quiet house. But glad to be alone. I let my tears flow. I watched a romantic movie and ate the afternoon away. Could not stop crying as I tried to imagine life without our bratty Layla.

She drove me crazy and made me angry over and over again. Keeping her safe was nearly a full-time job for me. "Hold Layla, the front door is open!" "Hold Layla, the baby is on the floor." "Hold Layla, someone is at the door!" 

Buddies

I could not have company because she insisted on constant barking and jumping on people. Could not trust her alone with grandson because he loved to get her excited and then she would knock him over in her enthusiasm.

She drove me crazy and made me angry, but she also helped us through a tough time in our family. When we got her 6 years ago we'd just been let go from our ministry job and most of our friends were moving away and we no longer had a home church. Husband and I talked about how her silly antics were sometimes the only bright spot in our days.

She inspired me to take a job as a freelance writer for a pet supply company. I wrote their website content and they loved my idea to add a weekly column about "Life With Layla." She gave me plenty to write about and my own blog, "Recovering Church Lady" was often full of Layla stories.

As wild and noisy as she was, she was also a great cuddler. Her head was usually on my lap as I did my freelance writing jobs and as I wrote my book. Sometimes when she felt I had been writing long enough, her paw would inch onto the keyboard to get my attention.

Layla was very destructive the first few years and our couch pillows and cloth napkins disappeared. Even at 6 years old she loved to find a toy my grandson left out and she would trot happily with it to her crate to destroy it.

Tornado warning time in bathroom.
She was a good watchdog that I was thankful for when home alone. More than a few salesmen backed away from our front door when she barked her head off at them. At the same time, I hated that no one could enter our home quietly and peacefully.

A few weeks ago I came home from work depressed, tired and tearful after a rough day. I closed my bedroom door because I needed to be alone and she came into the room with me. I sat on my bed and cried and she jumped on the bed and slowly army crawled to my side and gently put her paw on my arm and whined. It was so comforting that I cried even more. Coincidence or not, she made me feel better.

Is there anything like a dog's greeting when you've been away? Or even just asleep for the night? With the kids and grandkids living here now, she was thrilled with all the action and coming and going. She insisted on greeting every single person in the family when they'd been out for the day. If she'd already greeted my son, she would run around the house until she found my daughter-in-law to be sure she'd been welcomed home too.


It is 6:30am now, one week before Christmas and my second large cup of coffee is gone. The house is silent and I am staring at our pretty Christmas tree. Layla's favorite Kong toy is on the floor next to my grandson's Lego bucket. My heart is heavy and all I want right now is to stroke those velvety ears again. I want to hear the jingle of her dog tags and I want to trip over her while trying to make dinner.


But this has been helpful to write my heart out. Thank you for listening.

Susie