Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A True Example of God's Kindness--and I Didn't Deserve That At All

    On Sunday, let's face it, I was a jerk. I'm still not sure why, but I went into full-on beast mode with my husband (and not in a good way).  So, yesterday, Monday, when I got home from work, I expected for him to treat me the same way....  I was almost ready to be "on the fight."
    Instead, he'd made a crock-pot dinner, and cleaned the house and garage.
    I was so stunned.  "Why?" my voice nearly choked on the word.  "Why are you so kind to me?"
    Instead of yelling, or being rude, he gave me a huge hug and said how much he loves me.  "Elisa," he said, "you're stressed. I figured you needed my help.  Maybe you'll feel a little bit better now."
    He went to work and I just thought about how he'd responded to my own actions. 
    "Wanna play Yahtzee?" the Hippie asked.
    "What are you thinking about?" she finally asked, after rolling yet another full house.
    "Just how I need to be a better person sometimes. I was so mean to Mike on Sunday, and look at everything he did to help me today."
   "You weren't that bad, Mom.  But I know what you mean.  He's a good guy."  She handed me the cup with the dice in it  "Today I asked him what he would do if he won a million dollars.  You know what he said--without even thinking about it?"
    "What?" I asked.
    "He said, you'd be able to be a stay-at-home mom, and you could write.  He thought about what we would want--instead of himself."
    I couldn't even shake the dice because I felt guilty. "I can be so spicy," I said.  "But he doesn't feed the fire.  He'll just cross his arms and ask if I'm done yet."
    She laughed.  "I think that drives you crazy."
    "It does!  But he's good for me; it's not very fun fighting with a brick wall.  You know what's so strange about all of this?" I asked.
    The Hippie shook her head, her bright, blue eyes shining.
    "Mike doesn't believe in God, but he's one of the biggest examples of God's kindness in my life.  That's pretty ironic, huh?"
    "I know what you mean," she said.  "He's been really good to me too.  He came into our lives right when we needed him."
    "I should be a better person," I said, thinking how strange life is, and how miracles are around us every day.  His actions not only made me feel better, they made me want to rise to the occasion.
    I rolled my dice, smiled, and got absolutely nothing except a score of 23 for "chance."  I love rolling for my "chance" score--it's the best part of that game.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saying Goodbye to a Friend Taken Too Soon

    When I was at the darkest time of my life, you reached out to me; we hadn't talked for years, yet somehow you knew I needed help.
    You called every night after that.  I was a single mom, working grave shifts; you just wanted to make sure I'd made it safely into the building.
    You were there, and even became my best friend through those terrible times, because I knew you had my back, like I had yours.
    We even told each other things: The terrible secrets of what we'd been through.  I shared your terrors and your triumphs as your shared mine.  I was always proud of you, always there to cheer you on...until you fell farther than I could reach. 
    Dear friend, I should have held on, but some weights are more than any human can carry for someone else.  Those are the weights we must carry ourselves, and throw off.  And like a person descending to the depths of the deepest ocean, I could no longer help.
    I wish I could change the past. Be stronger.  Somehow fight fate, and prevent your untimely death.  We all know you left this world too early.
    I always thought we'd reconnect, after circumstances no longer threatened to drown you.  After you had fought the fight...and won.
    You will never call and check up on me again.
    Never be there through the good or bad times.
    Never play chess and drink coffee with me, making even the burnt taste unnoticeable because we were laughing so hard about how you always killed my queen.  But no one kills my queen now.  I don't play chess anymore.
    I miss you, friend, your kind words, wit, and laughter.
    I hope they have chess in Heaven.

 Until we meet again,

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Feeling Like Giving Up

Have you ever felt like you had a purpose, but no real way to get there: a traveler without a destination, a road without an end, a passenger blindly wishing for the guide's control?  I'm on this path, reaching for a lifeline.
    I knew I was a writer at age nine, when I wrote an amateurish ninety-page story that later ended up in the trash.  A teacher told me I wasn't meant to be a writer...she really taught me something--to try harder.
    When I was ten, I ripped the top from a big rectangular box and told myself to sit there and write. I'd stay box-bound for hours each day, reading, penning stories, and dreaming.  I did that for weeks, until finding a spider in a dark corner of the cardboard, and disavowing writing nooks forever.
    I've grown up now, and I don't need to make myself write anymore.  The words just come--like a monster begging to be released from a host.  These are words from stories, not fully discovered yet.     
    A dear friend of mine says every person has a least one book in them. One day she said I must have dozens; I wish she would've known, so she could tell me.  Then I could stop wondering over my literary purpose and just know exactly. 
    I love writing almost more than I love breathing.  But more than that, I NEED to write.  It's been said that over 350 billion people have lived since Adam.  How does that make you feel?  350 BILLION.  That's why I need my damn writing.  It's part of my ignition, what makes me feel valid, special, like my voice amongst billions, matters....  As if God will take notice, to a nothing like me.
    But lately I feel like I should stop writing, stop dreaming.  It's a sad thing when doubt quenches who we are, and a once raging fire begins dying out.  One day, several years ago, I'd hiked to the base of a waterfall. I sat by myself and wrote about my journey up the mountain. I remember traipsing down that trail, notebook in hand, thinking I'd rarely been part of such a beautiful moment, with just me, God, nature, a story...and that was enough.
    When did writing become more to me?  That I longed to be society's definition of a "real" author?  That I hoped for it so bad my heart physically hurt because another "author" had been snobby, or a local bookstore owner said I wasn't popular enough to have a signing in his small store.  After that, I wanted the damn respect.  I wanted to be read more than ever. I envied writers who made a living with their stories--and could afford more than dollar items at McDonald's, like I could. 
    Instead of enjoying writing at the base of a waterfall, it turned into something I despise AND love.
    Truth is, we each win little battles every day.  Sometimes it's the little battles with big wins that make the difference: the buoy of a dying soul.
    I keep struggling, like we all do.  Yet today, I'm really doubting myself.  For just a moment I'm tired of fighting, hoping, wishing and dreaming.  This let-down about writing has made me think about so many other things.  My last book took over 3 years to write, over 3,000 hours of sweat and carpal-tunnel aches from my keyboard-fingers.
    I'm not soliciting sympathy; don't get me wrong.  I just wanted to say that I'm doubting myself today--guts out.  I don't know if my writing will every truly go "anywhere."  I just need to have faith that it's gone where it needs to, and will continue to.  After all, I've had so many odd successes--met strangers who have read my books, discovered I had the stamina to keep trying even after one-hundred queries returned to me as rejections instead of offers. 
    And through this, it's still hard to contain the words inside, even when some people have told me maybe it's time to stop....
    So, today I did what I can't avoid--despite some people's advice. I started on something that's been haunting me, a memory...clinging to my hair, my clothes, my skin, like a sickeningly-sweet smell of an old lover, or an abandoned room I never want to revisit again.  The smell of iodine from a dying person's room.  The taste of whiskey after the ultimate betrayal.  Hatred burned from a soul, because the pity was too strong.  And that's what I feel today, pity for myself, for lost dreams, for the fact that today...I am sad. 
    We can have dreams, 1 out of 350 billion, but if everyone got their exact dreams, maybe they wouldn't be quite so valuable after all....

A very uncharacteristic,

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Scribe's Mama and a Baseball

"I'm not like anyone in this family," she said.
    I smiled, remembering something I did in fifth grade.  "Oh yes you are.  I was always hatching crazy schemes."
    "You were?"
    "Yep.  Do you want to hear a story about how I tricked the boys into letting me play baseball with them?"
    She wiped her tears and nodded.
    "All right, well one day . . ."

    I never thought the story was anything special--not until the Scribe heard it.

    I was a dorky twig, far better at playing sports than playing dolls.  I knew I'd be a star on the boys' team if they just let me play, but those jerks were too good for me--a girl.  
    "We don't let girls play with us. Girls are bad luck."  
    That just proved it; they were idiots.  The only time girls are unlucky is when you make them mad!


    I started practicing baseball then, every day after school, until the sun went down.  I got pretty good.  My mom, dad and brother all taught me how to hit and pitch.  I went through training--no kidding.  If those boys would just say 'yes,' they wouldn't know what hit 'em.  
    But the idiots kept saying 'NO!'  
    My dream almost ended.  I could have stayed friendless and sad.  Or I could've stooped to ultimate evilness and played dolls with Wendy Smith and her posse of girlie girls!  That wasn't for me though.  Too bad I hate giving up easily AND dressing dolls.
    I watched the boys' whole setup one day after they said 'no' . . . again.  The leader (Jeff) always brought the ball and the bat.  He'd put it out in the hall during class, then at recess, all the boys would go and play.
    Stealing that ball was easier than taking candy from a baby-brat.  I still remember it.  I raised my hand and told the teacher I needed to use the bathroom.  That was a lie--a terribly sweet lie.  I ran into the hall, looked back and forth, then stole Jeff's ball, not even thinkin' it was sinful to steal from an idiot.  The prize fit great with my stuff in the hallway and no one even saw me!  I wanted to give thanks to God, for helping me steal, so I went and used the bathroom since that's what I'd told the teacher.  Maybe I didn't really have to go, but I sure tried anyway.  It wouldn't be good to lie AND steal on the same damn day.
    Well, when the recess bell rang, those boys scrambled and hooted.  Everyone got out to the field.  For once I stayed back, just watching.  Jeff came out last.  He explained something to the boys who looked awfully mad.  They were just about to leave the field when I walked closer.
    "Who would-a thunk he'd leave the ball home?" a kid whined.
    I threw the ball up and down.  Not to brag, but I caught the sucker every time.  "Funny thing," I said to the boys.  "I brought a ball today.  What are the odds?"  I tried spitting but I'd never done it before and the stuff turned to spittle.  I wiped it away fast and cursed all those old movies for making spitting look easy.
    "Give us the ball!" a boy screamed--good thing I didn't marry that dictator!
    "Sure," I pulled it away, "on one condition."
    "Name it," Jeff said.  He walked closer.
    "That you let me play."
    All the idiots groaned, apparently idiots are great at whining and groaning.  "But that's bad luck to play with a girl."
    "Is it better to not play at all?" I asked and they FINALLY let me play.
    I'd like to say I got a home run, even though I didn't.  But I will say that I proved myself and they seemed really impressed.  Jeff walked with me after last recess and smiled.  "You know, this ball looks an awful lot like the one I bring."
    I had to think fast.  I looked up at him.  My face couldn't charm him--too bad for the 'ugly phase.'  But at least I could win him over with my wit.  "You're pretty good at ball."  I paused.  "Well, so am I.  Does it really surprise you that we both have such good taste?"
    He laughed and hit me on the back.  "You're all right, Stilson.  You're all right."  It was the first time someone called me by my last name and the first time a fellow classmate hit me on the back--it WAS epic.
    The next day when Jeff's ball showed up by his stuff in the hall, he didn't even seem surprised.  I went and stood by the field, a bit sad that I'd never get to play again.  Maybe I should have just reconciled to playing dolls with Wendy Smith . . . forever.
    I sat down on the grass and prepared to watch the boys forming their teams.  It was time for the captains to pick their star players.  John 'the cherry picker' went first--don't even ask how he got his nickname, let's just say no one wanted to shake HIS hand.  When it was Jeff's turn, he smiled right at me and pointed.  "Stilson, for first pick because that girl really knows how to hit a ball.  And because she didn't give up."
    I stood by him and beamed.  "Isn't it funny how my ball just showed up today?" he whispered.
    "Yeah," I nodded. "What are the odds?"

    "So, that's how I started playing baseball with the boys," I told the Scribe.
    "It sounds like something I would do!  Mama," she said seriously, "you're all right."
    "You too."  I smiled, then patted her on the back and thought I just might start calling her by our last name.  She's always doing crazy things like scaring children and holding fundraisers FOR HERSELF, but she's one hilarious child.  She makes life fun.  I'm thankful for her and her siblings every day.

For another post about the Scribe, please go here:  The Scribe and a Scheme

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Someday I'll See Him Again--Beneath a Golden Sky

We're walking along a beach.  I find myself holding his hand even though we haven't seen each other in years.  I keep gazing up at him and smiling.  "I've dreamed about this," I say, tears in my eyes.
    "So have I."
    We keep walking, for miles and miles.  My hair is well past my shoulders.  It flutters as we walk.  A bit of sand gets between my toes, and I would have giggled, but this moment calls for quiet--for peace.  A chill runs through my body and I use my free hand to pull a shawl closer to my shoulders.  I should have fastened it with both hands, but I'd rather die than lose contact with him now.
    After we've traveled a while, we both turn to the sunset.  "It's beautiful," I say.
    "And it brings a memory with it," he says, knowing more about me than any living person.
    "Will you tell me?" he asks, like a child.
    I can't help but say yes; he holds my heart. "Once, when I was very young, when colors seemed more important than a career, and playing the violin in a nearby cave was more desirable than anything, I said a prayer."
    He smiles.  "And what did you pray?"
    I look out at the waves tumbling from miles away.  "I asked God to give me a sign that He still loved me."
    We remain quiet.  I bathe in our silence and will the moment to never end.
    "Did you doubt His love so much?" he asks.
    "I guess I did."
    I paused, wondering over the small moments that make up our lives. "Well, nothing happened for the entire day that I prayed.  I painted and drew.  I went to my cave and played my violin.  At one point, I knelt next to a rock and so much sadness overcame me.  'God, don't you love me anymore?' I asked.
    "The voice seemed still, small. I didn't hear it at first because it was just a nudge. But before long the words filled my very being and I FELT them.  'Of course,' a voice replied and the air smelled of incense.  'Look,' the voice said.
    "I looked at the sunset and my breath stopped.  It was unlike anything I'd ever seen in that area.  The clouds stretched orange and gold.  They were amazing and beautiful. They were my favorite color, chosen as my favorite not because of its hue but because of its representation."
    "What does orange represent, to you?" he asks.
    "Eternity." It's a simple reply, yet I know he understands. It tells more about me--about the desires of my heart--than almost anything.
    "How interesting; eternity is what you long for more than anything," he says.  "Some wish only for fame, fortune, or even death after years on Earth--you . . . You, seek eternal life." He pauses, still holding my hand gently. "And you knew God loved you . . . Because of the beautiful, orange sky?  You thought he answered your prayer?"
    "Yes," I said.  "I knew He answered it.  In some way, it made me realize how He painted the sky for me . . . for each of us, every single day.  His love shines everywhere, through almost everything."
    "And that's what you hold onto whenever bad things happen in your life?"  He studies a shell by our feet and I don't say a word.  "You remembered that, even when I died . . ."
    I don't want to talk about his death, not when he's standing beside me. I need to answer his question though. He deserves the truth. "Not at first, but yes.  I remembered that sky.  I knew how much God loved me, and all of us. I couldn't lose sight of His answer to my prayer or the gifts God has given me each day of my life."
    Zeke--MY son just nods. I can tell he's thinking hard about something before he breaks the silence.  "I'm glad God picked you to be my mom."
    His words hit me like a hot iron, shaking my very core--they're something I always longed for, but never thought I'd hear, even in my dreams.
    "But we will see each other again," he continues.  "Orange is my favorite color now, too, a reminder that someday we'll be together in eternity."
    Tears fill my eyes. He's so strong and healthy, much different from the infant who died after two and a half months of being in the hospital.
    He did love me.  He WAS proud, although I let him go and pulled the plug.  I remember how hard he fought to live--even as he took his last breath in my arms.
    "I'm so proud you're my son. You never gave up on life. You never would have given up on me." I try acting brave in that moment, so my pain, guilt and regrets can't hurt him. "I've done everything I can so people will know you; your life won't be forgotten.  I can't make up for the past, but I'm trying my best for the future.  Every day I spent putting my journal--the moments from your life--into the computer . . . Every moment brought pain, but with it, you came back, just like today."
    My eyes close and a deep part of myself starts fading. A heart once full, seems a bit empty, and my fingers close on themselves because HE's no longer holding my hand.
    I breathe slowly, willing peace to come again. 
    It's okay, though. The warmth of his touch stays on my skin like perfume, and somehow it will never leave. "Please know I won't forget you," my voice drifts away just like my son did.
    I look back, but Zeke really is gone, washed away with the wind and the waves.
    As I turn to the crazy ocean, I don't feel quite as sad or alone anymore because the setting sun proves I'll see Zeke again.
    I let go of my shawl and the wind carries it away along with my regrets and pain. My hands fold as if in prayer since the warmth of his touch still lingers.
    "Zeke, I love you.  Always will."  My heartbeat slows and I speak the one question that always plagues me.  "Do you still love me?" I ask although he's gone and he's been dead for years.
    Then, I feel something--it's just a nudge at first, but so much peace comes as I hear his words.  "Of course, I love you, Mama," says a still, small voice. "Look."
    My eyes turn forward.  The sunset is so warm and vibrant, those colors wrap around me, giving me new reasons to live. I no longer simply long for eternity, but I realize the truth in its meaning--eternity is part of right now, just like my memories and my dreams.

    My spirit wakes up and the moment ends. For some reason, I'll never forget it; I saw Zeke as a healthy man--everything I wanted him to become. Plus, he made a promise and I know that kid wouldn't break his word. Someday we'll see each other again, someday beneath a golden sky.

To read more about the book I wrote for Zeke, please click here:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mike Sings Sponge Bob Square Pants

Mike and I decided to start a page for our silly videos.  
Here's the link to that page: Me & Mike
And here's our first video--I hope you'll love it as much as I do.  
I love my family :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to Make the Best of Things: My Kids and Some Rock Chucks

First off, I've been MIA because we had a family emergency last week.  I don't want to give the details other than to say that The Scribe and I drove from Idaho to Spokane, Washington--and back again--in a matter of three days.  As we drove home, The Scribe looked at me and said, "That was a scary thing that happened, but this trip has been good for us.  Even when we're having a hard time, I still end up having fun with you."
    "I love you, sweetheart," I said.  She's growing into such an amazing person, and has changed so much in the last year.  In fact, her statement reminded me of an experience we had last spring, when things were quite different....
     The kids were really going stir-crazy after I got home from work.  Mike was working the swing shift, and I struggled thinking of something fun the kids and I could do.
    "I want to hang out with friends," The Scribe said.
    "I want us to spend time together today....  Why don't we go to the park!" I suddenly interjected.
    The Hippie, Zombie, and Dr. Jones were all very excited, but The Scribe folded her arms.  "Fine. But I'm not gonna have fun."
    We drove to the park, and I kept hoping something epic would happen so The Scribe would remember how fun our family is.  As we drove to the park, we went under a huge bridge, past a rail yard, and then next to a field where an entire army of rock chucks rested on the grass, sleeping in the sun.  Ya know, our state is so strange--only in our little town in Idaho would you come home from work to find deer bedded down in your front yard, and see a field of rock chucks, sleeping out in the open for days.  
    Anyway, about a half-mile past the sunning rock chucks, we arrived at the park.  The Scribe still insisted this was the worst idea ever, saying, "I'm too old for this. Parks are for little kids.  Why are we here? The slide is whimpy."  
    Even though my other kids had a ball, I wanted EVERYONE to have fun. I was about to give up on "family time" when a thought hit me.  I could make this fun--I just had to.   
    "Hey kids."  I called everyone closer.  My three youngest bounded over, and The Scribe lumbered forward.  "I want to go on a top-secret mission."  Their eyes widened, and even The Scribe seemed a little less bored.  "But if we're going to do this, I need everyone to be as quiet as possible."
    "Okay?" The Hippie said.  "What are we doing, Mom?"
    "You'll see.  Now follow me--but be quiet!"
    So we went a half-mile up the road.  I made it really silly, running to hide behind trees, humming the "Missions Impossible Theme Song," constantly motioning to the kids as if we were spies.
    They had no idea what we were about to do, until we arrived at the edge of some trees.  We peered around the largest tree and studied the field where the rock chucks sunned, still sleeping contently.
    "Okay, kids.  If we're gonna pull this off, we need to be super quiet.  Step softly.  Don't even breathe loud.  And for crying out loud, no sneezing!  I want us to all tip-toe into the very middle of those rock chucks, and on the count of three, we're going to scream like we're dying."
    At this point, all of the kids lit with excitement--even The Scribe.
    "Mama?" Dr. Jones, who was six at the time, said.  "Won't we wake them up before we get over there?"
    "Not if we're very, very quiet!  Look how tired they are."
    So we tip-toed.  And I should've known they'd be good at this--all the times they've sneaked candy from the pantry had paid off!  
    We made it in, weaving amongst dozens of sleeping rock chucks. One must have heard us because it rolled over slightly and kicked its leg high in the air.
    We all held our breath.  I've never been in a ambush before, but it's crazy-awesome!!!  Just thinking that if even one of them sounded their squeaky alarm, the plan would be a bust!
    But after careful navigation, and all of us holding hands in a trail of stealth, we made it to the center.
    "On three," I mouthed to my four kids, holding up one finger.  
    A rock chuck on the hill must have finally heard us because he began rolling the rubbing his eyes with his furry, little paws.  
    "One, two, three."  I held up three fingers, and we all took a deep breath. 
    We screamed so loud then.  "Ahhhhhh!!!!"  Birds flew from the trees, the whistle from a nearby train sounded like northin', and all of our faces were Christmas--red.    
    That's when the rock chucks began freaking out.  They jumped up, looking around with wide eyes, and vibrating noses.  They ran into each other.  They tripped on twigs.  They squeaked and squealed.  One, looking behind itself, almost ran into my leg--and I freaked out.  I'd wanted to scare the chucks, not have one touch me!
    In a matter of moments, the rock chucks had cleared the field, and we had no idea where all of them were hiding. 
    We sauntered back to the park, all of us laughing and smiling.  The rest of the day was gravy, and we had the most amazing time back at the park, talking about different things we'd noticed about the rock chucks, and how scared all of us had been while standing in the middle of them.
    "I thought they might attack," The Scribe said, laughing.  "And when that one almost touched you, Mom--that was the best!"
    "And I thought we'd wake them up for sure before we screamed," The Hippie said.
    "And I almost stepped on one!" Dr. Jones said.
    "Me too." My Zombie nodded, very seriously.  "That was terrifying.  I saw it later.  It had big yellow teeth!"
    The next day on the way to the grocery store, the kids and I took the desolate back road, and passed the rock chuck field again.  They were all out sunning again, but this time I spotted three guards, sitting--watching in case a mother and her four kids decided to stop by and scream in the center of them, just for fun.