Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today is the day my son died Part II

This is a continuation from yesterday.  Here's that link:

Today is the day my son died...

     Like I wrote yesterday, we have two amazing trees behind our house.  One reminds me of my son who passed away because it's weak and small.  The other tree is a weeping willow--huge, healthy, willing to do anything to shade the smaller tree.  It reminds me of how I was when my boy was alive.
    So anyway, a windstorm came, the likes of which our town has never seen.  I stood, staring through the back window.  I couldn't pull my eyes from the little tree, which whipped about.
    I finally couldn't take anymore, so I ran upstairs and tried falling asleep for a while. But I ended up having fitful dreams that Zeke was on life-support, and when we took him off, he grew into a seven-year-old and screamed at me through a storm, "I didn't want to die.  I didn't want to!"
    I sat up then, sweating from the nightmare.  The house practically rocked from the power of the winds outside.  I splayed the blinds with my fingers.  "Holy, cow," I said, thinking the little tree would fly out of the ground or snap in half. 
    I knelt there, and as I looked outside, my heart stopped beating.  My breath stilled like the day Zeke died.  The little tree's branches wept in the wind.  The trunk bent so far, the upper branches touched the ground.

    I couldn't go back to sleep, so I tiptoed down to the back door. 
     Now, when I watched the news earlier, the winds were expected to hit 80/85 mph.  When I opened the door, it swung back so hard, I jumped away before it hit me.  The wind rushed past.  I went to the side of the frame and hung onto the jamb, just so I could pull myself outside.  I struggled for a second, put my hip along the siding and managed to pull the door shut.  
    I've never been in winds like that, ones which make people question or gain faith.  
    Nature pushed me straight against the house.  As I closed my eyes, I got vertigo and remembered sky diving.  I thought of when I'd fallen through the skies, when the air ripped my face, carving it into a jackal's smile.  My teeth had frozen then too.
    But I wasn't falling this time, I was watching my baby tree die.
    I opened my eyes.  Branches flailed like a man being tortured.  Leaves hit me in the face.  The winds changed direction every so often and so did my tree.
    I tried running forward, to hold my tree strong, but I slammed into the house again, unable to go anywhere.
    I almost screamed then, begging the weeping willow to do something--anything.  Hadn't it represented me?  Hadn't it always protected the baby tree. Maybe it still symbolized my actions and that's how I was, useless, helpless against nature and God's control.      
    I just wanted my tree to live . . . I'd just wanted Zeke to live.
    I've always wondered how people could watch martyrs die, but now I know.  Instead of trying to go back inside, I stayed there and watched.  Even though death might come close, snatching someone or something you love, sometimes being a witness to the sacrifice means almost as much as the death.  I pictured Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice He must have made.  I pictured my son dying in my arms. 
    My baby tree cracked; one of its limbs flew against the house.  I cried then, lamenting over far more than the storm.  While I sobbed, the wind stole my tears.
     The tree cracked again, another branch twirled oddly, barely hanging on.  That's when I couldn't take it anymore.
    "God," I screamed, praying into the night.  "Don't let it die.  Please don't.  It reminds me of Zeke, like part of him is still with us as long as this tree's here.  Please save it, God!  You had to take my son, but don't take this symbol of his life too!"
    I waited a moment, held my breath . . . and the wind changed.  Although it rushed harder than before, it came from a different direction.
    The willow, that strong, peaceful willow bent over, wrapped its branches around Zeke's tree.  I sobbed harder, watching as the big, healthy tree, got the brunt of the attack.  Willow branches flew around the yard.  It took a harder beating than the baby tree ever had because the new winds sought death. 
     The baby's branches swayed, then tilted up to a regular position.  It danced slightly, but remained unscathed as the willow continued whipping about, fighting with everything it had.
    I turned my attention to the huge tree.  It was a painful sight, something I'll never forget.  Because the willow started dying so the baby could live.
     As I stared, watching the willow whose strength went beyond anything, I stopped.  It seemed to hug the baby.
     Something profound struck my heart.
     The willow hadn't represented me.  The willow represented God.  And the little tree, the one who had such a hard time standing alone, had been me.  
     I got an overwhelming feeling then; some things happen for a reason to strengthen people, to give us thankfulness, gratefulness for things we still have.
     A voice ran through my mind softer than silk,  "I love you, Elisa.  I've always been there for you, and I'll never leave you."
    The battle raged on, but I found lasting peace through the storm.
    God saved my tree that night.  He saved both trees, and I realized He'd been looking after them the whole time, just like He's looking out for me 
. . . for all of us.

    Learn more about Zeke's story here:

Today is the day my son died...

    Two trees stand at the back of my house, guarding it through the days and nights.  One is a massive willow, with branches reaching all the way to the ground like overly-long warriors' arms.  It's the heart of my town; I swear that tree is powerful and endless like time.
     The second tree is a wisp of a thing; I worry the winds might take it away.  It's over eight years old, and still struggles to grow.  
    Anyway, I stared at those two trees, devised and weighed the differences between them.  The little tree has always reminded me of Zeke because there's something wrong with it, and it will never be like other trees no matter how hard I hope and pray.  The big tree reminds me somehow of myself trying to make it through the storms of life, always encouraging the little tree to be strong.
    I intensely studied the trees. . . . Then a tiny voice broke through my thoughts.
    "Why is he hooked to all those machines?" The Hippie asked; somehow she'd found a bunch of pictures of Zeke, and she wanted answers.
    "He only had one good lung."  I turned to her, putting my back to the trees beyond the window.  "He wasn't well, Honey, so the machines helped him breathe."
    "Why did they stop working?  Machines hardly ever stop."
    "It's not that they stopped.  Daddy and I decided . . ." A knot formed in my stomach, how could I explain my actions to a little girl?  "We had to unplug the machine.  People call it 'pulling the plug.'"  The moments flashed through my mind.  I remembered his death, his life.  How I had to be strong even though I was only nineteen.
    But still, why did she have to ask so many questions, and why does it still hurt; he died in 2003. . .
    The Hippie's face grew red.  She balled her fists.  "What?  He could still be here, but because of you, because you wanted him to die, you took him away from me!  I wanted an older brother, always have.  But you took him away."
    She didn't understand.  I know she's too little to know about life, pain and death.  She couldn't understand how fast I had to grow up, feeling like an old lady in a teenage body.  Yet her words stung deep.  
    She ran into her room and threw herself on the bed.  "I'm so mad at you," she said.  "I wanted an older brother!"
    And I wanted to keep my son!
    "He was in so much pain.  If you were hurting everyday and always would be, would you want to stay alive. . . on machines?  Like when you have to poop really bad?  Imagine feeling that pain forever."
    (Sorry for the graphic-ness, The Hippie just hates pooing, so it was the perfect reference.)  
    "Yeah, I'd rather be alive. And Zeke felt that way too.  You took his life . . . you did.  And you didn't even give him a choice."  I closed her door, and my baby Hippie, the healthy, rainbow baby I'd had after Zeke, fell asleep in her clothes.
    How can I explain how much her words hurt me? How my own latent fears, came to the surface again?  
    After I got all my other kids to sleep, I knelt next to the couch.  "God," I prayed.  "I'm so sad. I love you.  Thanks for everything you've given me, even if you had to take some things away."
    I gazed through the back window, tears skirting the edges of my lips.  
    I noticed then, it was dark outside, even though the porch lights shone on my special trees.  Light danced across the leaves.  The branches drifted back and forth in what seemed like the beginning of a storm.
    I scrolled to the weather channel and gaped as the news paraded across the screen.  Our city was about to have the worst wind storm of the century.  Winds were predicted to get up to 80/85 mph.  
    I looked at my little tree that always reminded me of Zeke, and death rode on its branches.  I couldn't imagine it toppling over and leaving me too.  
     As I stared, the winds worsened. The trees rocked and shook.
    "Oh, God," I cried.
    You'll never believe what happened next.
    To be continued . . .  Read the rest of this story HERE

If you'd like to learn more about Zeke, please find his story HERE.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Butt's Sagging!

If you have an aversion to honesty, please don't read this post.

There are two types of women in this world.  Girls either have great butts or great boobs.  AND if they have both (without surgery) they're freaks of nature and I can't associate with them. :)

    But seriously, I've been proud of my behind.  Once a guy said we couldn't date because I had no boobs; I took pride in the fact that as I walked away, he looked at my good side--and I hope he regretted being a jerk!
    Yesterday, I donned a pair of fancy, albeit second-hand, jeans, and after glancing in the mirror, I gasped.  My butt is starting to sag!  Sure I'll be thirty-one in February, but does this really need to happen now?  Can't I have my butt for a few more weeks?
    In total sadness, I yelled to my daughter for reassurance. "Is it honestly sagging?"
    "Well, no. But it does look different since the pictures of before I was born."
    "Of course it does! I was eighteen and now I'm almost thirty-one."
    "Not because of that," she said, and I thought she might save herself before saying, "it's because when people have lots of kids, your hips spread."
    "Five . . . kids."
    "Yeah," she laughed and I LEFT THE ROOM. I've given my kids EVERYTHING and in return they took my butt away!
    Then I called my mom.  For any of you who've read The Golden Sky, you know my mom loves water, but I hate it. Anyway I called and she said, "I told you, you should be drinking more water."
    "Oh, you. You'll say anything to get me drinking water."
    "You've still been walking up the stairs a lot, right?" she asked and after saying 'yes' I hung up.
    So, it's time to have a funeral for my 'good part.'  Maybe I should wear butt pads--then the world will have no idea the joke's on them!  Guys will check out my stuffing and I'll giggle--since it's only toilet paper.  
    Or is it simply time to use wrinkle cream--and exercise?  

    I tried some butt exercises yesterday where you're supposed to walk on your tip-toes, squat, and flex your cheeks separately with each step. I looked out my front window and a neighbor guy--who wears sweats in the summertime--stared like I'm the idiot. Doesn't he know my butt is sagging--and although it's not a big deal to anyone else it's a sign that I'm aging, mortal, dramatic, and I could die at anytime. 

For the sake of humanity--please let these butt flexes save my naturally good part.
In the name of Jesus,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Engagement Photos!!!

So, it's not what it sounds like . . . let me explain.

What should someone do after getting divorced? Model wedding dresses! 

    Thanks, Farrah Pendray for the AMAZING opportunity. I haven't modeled in forever. It was A BLAST!

And if it's just for a moment, I suddenly realize: 
Everything will be okay...
It really will be.

Click "View Full Story" to see all of the pictures.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What Makes Us Who We Are: 1 Good Choice

Written last March, when I was still married . . . 

I thought today would be ordinary, but it took a strange turn. Something happened that I'll never forget.
    Cade and I sat waiting for the verdict on our van's safety and emissions inspection.  I nearly bit my nails, worrying because our van is a clunker.  The radio's fuses are messed up--so every time I turn off the van, I have to disconnect the battery.  The heater on the driver's side no longer works; the left sliding door won't open and the carpet smells like crayons. I laughed in the waiting room, thinking how just because I'm an author, people assume we're loaded, livin' the American dream.  Even though money can be tight and we've put all of our saving into Wayman Publishing, I love our clunker house and van--they make life interesting for us and our four kids.
    A mechanic opened the door--breaking through my thoughts--and waved Cade and me toward the computer.  "Your vehicle passed.  It'll be seventy-seven dollars and twenty-nine cents."
    I smiled wide. "That clunker passed!"  I elbowed Cade.  "I knew our baby would pass."
    As the mechanic typed, looking confused by my statement, I asked him how his day was.
    "Terrible," he replied.  "People have been so mean today. The last guy who came in here was a real A-hole.  I hate people like that."
    "I'm sorry," I said.  "I've been dealing with mean people all week, too.  I wish they'd be more appreciative and understanding."  
    I gave him my credit card then, but right after paying, I looked out the bay window and realized our van hadn't even been checked yet.  "Corvette" flashed on the screen in front of me.
    "Ummm . . ." I cleared my throat.  "I think we just paid for the wrong vehicle."
    "You're the corvette, right?" he asked.
    Cade and I stood a little straighter.  He thought we looked like "corvette people"?  That was flippin' awesome!
 photo 2014-chevrolet-corvette-stingray-02_zps2715acaa.jpg
    "Nope, I wish," Cade said.  "So we paid the wrong bill?"
    The guy nodded, obviously worried for our reaction.  "I thought that was strange you called it a clunker."
    Cade and I looked at each other.  "Cade," I whispered, "do you think this happened for a reason?"
    He nodded.
    So I looked at the mechanic and said, "We'd like to pay for the corvette owners' bill."  Cade and I knew we'd just have enough in checking to cover the corvette bill and ours.
    The mechanic turned, stunned.  Another mechanic came up and said, "No, you don't want to pay that.  The guy who owns the corvette is a creep.  He's the biggest jerk who's been in here today, so is his wife--and that's saying something."
    I second-guessed myself.  But Cade didn't.  "We'll still pay it," Cade said.  
    I thought for a minute and agreed.  "Maybe they need to see some kindness.  I don't know why this happened, but it did."
    So we even paid for the safety and emissions after that, on top of the registration fee.  "Just don't tell them we paid," I said and the mechanic agreed.
    The guys in the first bay were still dumbfounded, either thinking we were stupid or maybe trying to make up for a huge sin.   
    We went back into the waiting room, passed the rich couple who owned the corvette, and sat down.  I didn't say a word to them and neither did Cade.     
    I couldn't help glancing at the rich couple before the mechanic called them to the other room.  Both the young wife and her middle-aged husband puckered, like they'd eaten wasabi candies by the fistful.  I wondered what went on in their lives to sour them so.  Were they just bored, or truly sad?
    I remembered then, times in my life when I'd been depressed beyond anything--when kids in high school spread terrible rumors about my virginity . . . when I'd been homeless . . . when Zeke--my son--had died in my arms.  People probably thought I was a jerk because I wasn't always sociable; they had no idea. 
    Cade and I waited in that room for a long time.  The Chinese lady across from me went out to smoke.  The cigarette looked so elegant in her slender, pink-nailed hand.  A kid next to me joked about the groundhog being wrong this year.  And the whole time the corvette didn't leave and no one pulled our van into the bay.
    Suddenly the door opened.  A wind flew through the waiting room, smelling of gas and strong cologne. The rich couple came inside, peered around and then smiled warmly at Cade and me.
    "What an awesome gesture, you guys."  The man shook Cade's hand and looked at me like we deserved a damn medal, just because we'd been decent human beings.  "What a nice thing.  Why would you want to do that for complete strangers?"
    I didn't want to say that I had a "feeling"--that something greater was at work than us spending all the money we had, on a whim.  "Everything happens for a reason," I said, smiling at both the man and his wife.  "It wasn't a big deal, not really."  Tears lined the woman's eyes, and I wondered again, what she was going through.
    "Well, we can't let you do it." He shook my hand then. Something rustled in between our palms, like a sacred secret.  That man--who the mechanics said was such a jerk--had paid us back all the money and then some.
    They left, and I can't explain what emotions went through me.  The mechanics had us pay our own bill after that--we paid in cash.  The main guy kept shaking his head and typing.  "He paid you back," the kid said.  "Here I thought he was such a jerk, but he paid you back.  I'll never forget this.  That really showed me something about people."
    Cade smiled and put his arm around me.  
   "Me too," I said.  "That was really somethin'."
   And I realized, we weren't supposed to pay that bill just so the rich couple could see a simple kindness; we were supposed to pay it so all the mechanics in the shop could see the kindness that shone from the couple who just left in the corvette. 
Closing: Regardless of all the "feelings," the failed attempt to pay someone else's bill, and after all the magic of the moment, the van still didn't pass safety and emissions.  One miracle down, one to go!

Posted for the writing exercise:

What Makes Us Who We Are?

This isn't my good choice, but rather someone else's.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What Makes Us Who We Are: 1 Bad Choice

To tell you the truth, I was terrified.
     I went into his room and he asked, “Are you ready to do this?”
     I cinched my eyes to block the tears. I wasn’t ready. There was no way in hell I was ready. But I became an actress on Broadway, acting like things were okay, pretending and smiling even though nothing was all right. Nothing! 

      I was seventeen, I’d just taken my vows, and now I was supposed to have sex.
      “Are you gonna take off your pants, or do you want me to do it for you?” he joked, but it wasn’t funny to me. I stared blankly. I had been an idiot.
      “So?” He put his arms around me.
     I still wasn’t ready. I wanted to run back to the canyon where he’d spun me in the snow and professed his love.
     I heard his best friend outside the room, talking about amazing wedding nights and how the deed must be done. Didn’t guys ever talk about anything else? The whole thing felt off.
     But maybe I was wrong. . . .
     So I rested on the bed. . . .

    We started doing the deed, but I couldn't remain calm.  
    Moments passed and I quietly cried.
    “I can’t!” I finally sobbed, jumped up and pulled my pants on. So many things cluttered my mind. I didn’t register his confusion or what he did as I left. “I can’t do this, I said again, to myself. I just can’t.”
     Sex had lasted for a short moment. But still, I was no longer a virgin—seconds had ruined it all.
     I burst from the room, my hair wild and my makeup smeared with tears. His friend saw me and started clapping. They were big, resounding claps that killed my ears. “Good job. Way to consummate the marriage.”

Before this, I'd thought I was special.  Instead, maybe I was just some stupid girl who’d lost her virginity in a gamble with fate. I ran from the apartment, and hoped I’d find a way home as I cried. I didn’t know if he really loved me. How could he when I didn’t even love myself?

Looking back, it's crazy how one choice sent my life spiraling in a totally different direction.

To read about this writing exercise, please visit my previous post:

Part 1

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Makes Us Who We Are? Part 1

    I'd like you to take a moment with me and think of three times when you didn't respond to a situation well, and three times when you did.
   What comes to mind?  Even grab a journal and write them down if you want to!

   What about that time you shared with someone?  Or when you didn't have enough money, so you stole something from the store?  The time you talked badly about a friend because they'd hurt your feelings?  Or when you helped a stranger simply out of the goodness of your own heart?
    As you write these down, look as if you're an outsider.  Can you forgive yourself for the poor choices, are you touched by the good ones?

    I thought about this today, because if our actions really define us, looking back--from human standards--can we see our true essence?  A bunch of bad choices?  A life lived for the sake of others seeing that we always chose correctly?   
    Will looking at the good make any of these bad choices seem better?
    Or am I looking at this wrong?  Doing this exercise, will we see something more: 
    Imagine a computer programmer who makes a program designed to alter photos to look like paintings. He's intentionally made the transformation process a bit flawed, hoping the final computer product will look man-made.  Is this how God engineered us, to be perfectly flawed?

    I'll post a story about a "bad choice" tomorrow.
    But at the end of this exercise, I hope a greater point will be made.
    Until tomorrow. . . .

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Art of "Eff Ewe"

    When I was in sixth grade, a little boy WOULD NOT STOP being mean to me.  Every day he would come over and say, "F. U.."
    "Eff Ewe?" I'd ask, seriously having no idea what he was saying.
      "Ewe, like a sheep?" I asked, sheltered.
    "What?  No!  You like you!"
    "You!  As in you are so stupid."
     The whole class would laugh.  This would happen every day, until I consulted the ultimate guru . . . my brother.
    "What does F. U. mean?" I asked.
    "F. stands for Fabulous."
    "And U.?"
    "That stands for you as in you.  Fabulous You."  He pointed to me, patted me on the shoulder and smiled. The guy tried walking away, but I wouldn't let him.
    I grabbed his arm.  "Well, if he's calling me, Fabulous You, why are all of the other kids laughing?"
    He looked troubled and I knew he cared.  "You want him to stop?"
    "Yes," I said.
    "Well, I'll tell you what to say, but you can't tell Mom.  Like that time I taught you the word 'fugly.'  You CAN NOT tell mom this time.  Promise."
    We made the ultimate pact; we even pinkie swore!
    "When he says 'F. U.' I want you to say . . ."  Then my brother made me memorize a comeback.
    "What in the heck does that mean?" I asked after memorizing it.
    "Nothing really, but it will get him to stop calling you . . . fabulous."
    "He's not calling me 'fabulous' is he?"
    My brother just stared.
    "Are you sure I can trust you?"
    "When could you not?"
     He was right.  When it came down to it, my brother always had my back.  So, I followed his advice.  I dressed really nice for school the next day.  I did my hair and wore lip gloss.  I actually looked like a tom boy turned cute.  When that boy walked up and said "F. U." in front of everyone, I said what my brother taught me.
    "I know you want to, but you never ever will."  I put my hand on my hip and stuck it out like Sandy at the end of Grease.  "And when I grow up, you'll be a yucky guy.  Then you'll wish you could."
    "F. U.?" he said again, weakly.  All the kids laughed AT HIM this time.  Then after a moment all the rage in the world came out.  "I'd never want to do that . . . ever!  Who wants to be with a freak anyway."
    I barked his shin when the words left his mouth.  
    As the teacher pulled me from the classroom and toward the principal's office, she asked, "What possessed you to do that?"
    I stared at her.  All those days I'd gotten made fun of and she never stood up for me, yet I was going to the office?
    "Well, answer me!  Who taught you how to do that?"
    I'd never tell her it was my brother--never.  My lips sealed shut.  My soul became a tomb.  They could string me up in detention, pluck my hairs one by one.  They could pull out my liver and sell it for school supplies--and STILL I'd never rat on my angel of a brother.  He'd saved my life.
    I turned back and saw all the kids watching me from the classroom.  
     "F. U. Boy" cried in the corner and somehow I knew he'd never bother me again.