Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli

After forty-plus years I have finally figured it out. Sit down, please! This might be the revelation of forever – or not. But it does seem to apply to my husband and me, and the vast differences in our personalities. As much as we try, he forever is a Brussel sprout, and I am a broccoli.

Brussel sprouts remind me of compact cabbages. Layers upon layers of overlapping leaves creating a concentric ball, evenly or somewhat oddly shaped. All, however, share that distinctive Brussel sprout characteristic of being strongly and firmly formed. Impenetrable almost. A stalwart vegetable overall. And for many, an acquired taste. Even when slathered with butter.

Broccoli, on the other hand, is a bit more frothy. Spaces for air to flow around and between its stalks could lend it an “airhead” label, but that isn’t quite right. Broccoli is still compact, like a thousand tiny green pin heads bursting into clusters of nosegays. Place those on sturdy stalks and you have a green bouquet for a walk down the veggie aisle.

Oh, yum!” exclaimed three of our grandchildren. “Broccoli is so good with BUTTER on it!” “Yes. Yes, it is,” I would heartily agree. “And so are Brussel sprouts,” my husband would add. This silly conversation really was going no where, except around and around for fun, the children dramatically imparting this culinary news to us. Broccoli was definitely the veggie of choice this day, by majority tastebuds. But still Brussel sprouts were worth considering.

I am continually amazed at the myriad variations of this incredible creation we find ourselves in. It matters not one’s preferences, there is something beautifully intriguing to be found in, well, everything! Slowing down some (or a lot) in my “more mature” years (what does “old” mean anyway?) has afforded these fun times of contemplation on the sense of things. Each new day is bursting with possibilities! It’s like a treasure chest at our fingertips, waiting to be opened if we could but see. What hidden surprises will you find today? Anything in those normal or unusual occurrences of your day? And where do they lead you? Hopefully into a greater, richer life towards the everlasting kind. The kind that nourishes your soul and spirit like good veggies do the body.

Never Too Old

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

Genesis 17:17 (NKJV) reveals a delightful, and unbelievable scene. Old people astonished with the thought of bearing a child! Could it be? Can it be that though their parts were withered and past their prime that a child could yet be born from them? And even more poignantly, that this child would be born from a barren womb to a couple whose longing for a child had yet to be fulfilled? They were old! How could it be? And yet, but God . . .

While building this blog site I feel much like Sarah. Though a few years from ninety I am definitely a senior citizen. And for a long while have dreamed of somehow sharing thoughts with the world. It makes me laugh with joy to think in my old age such a thing could be accomplished! And to realize what form it should take. All I know is that it is a longed for kind of baby that seems now to be becoming real. Certainly challenged in the doing, I am barren when it comes to such things. I have not built a site before, truly do not know how to navigate and manipulate through all the computer stuff to make it happen, and am mighty grateful for the tech support folks at WordPress who help me along. This has taken me to a place way beyond myself for the bearing of the fruit. And so, like a long awaited pregnancy, the journey begins.

So many times in my life, like on a precipice waiting to fly, I am stuck in my nest, have not wings, or my confidence and strength is lacking. The wind is blowing, the lift to carry me is there, whenever I am fully formed and ready. But what about my track record, past failed attempts, all the negative reasons or fearsome excuses to not believe in astounding possibilities? Do I dare think positively? Thankfully Sarah and Abraham did try, laughing even at the wonder of the possibility. And in their glee one sees a beautiful testament to belief. Trusting God to fulfill what He says will happen, even when all evidence screams otherwise. So they tried. And with the son who was born, Isaac, God made an everlasting covenant that continues beyond today. Through that lineage came our LORD Jesus, the fulfilling of the old covenant and the glorious Life of the new.

From old people! God’s plan for us is never used up, worn out, or finished! It is truly amazing the endless possibilities that may be worked through us. If only we would try. If only we would believe beyond ourselves.

LORD, may I hear Your voice, listen to You that I might know and believe Your promises and plans for me. And laugh with You for the sheer joy of it!

Proud Flesh

“Proud flesh,” is a term frequently associated with equine wounds, especially those occurring in joint areas, or other places where lots of movement interferes with complete healing. Granulation tissue, usually growing from the outside inward, overgrows its edges leaving a wound not fully healed, and prone to easy reinjury. I wonder at the proud flesh that may be lingering deep inside of me, places that I cannot see, yet that are poorly healed, easily reopened, hopefully not abcessing. Sure, these things are more easily addressed in one’s physical body, but what of one’s soul and spirit? Am I paying attention to wounds unhealed?

“Clang! Clang!” goes the trolley, as the masses rush in, grab hold, and stand like sardines stacked just so. In each breathing, rushing soul lies woundedness that is pushed deep into the recesses of hope-to-forget. All have learned early on that production is what is expected. For that you are paid; then you can eat; then you can afford shelter, clothing, transportation, meet your needs. Like automatons we rise, go, do, repeat, day in and day out, repeat, repeat, repeat. And yet, there is that something deep inside that just won’t go away. Proud flesh keeps growing. Our woundedness remains. And each time similar hurts poke at that spot, the wound is lanced again.

My father was a surgeon. He knew the intricacies of the physical body, fascinated with the incredible workings of all the systems together. He could go deep within a person’s frame to find, cut out, repair, and set towards restoration those wounding things that ail us. Still the healing went beyond his hands. Each person healed in their body’s miraculous way, and, in most, satisfactorily. Still some required additional help when their wounds refused to heal. The physician was needed again.

I think of God in this way when I consider those areas of proud flesh, unhealed emotional or spiritual wounds in me, especially those that have dogged me for years. He is my Physician who knows exactly where I need healing. Still, I must participate and yield to Him if I desire to become fully well. Otherwise, my poorly healed wounds remains just that – partially healed, but reopening again and again, seeping hurt into my being. Consider Psalms 51:6 (NKJV):

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

The more I submit to learning who God is, grow in relationship with Him, and yield to His ways, the more that proud flesh in me is healed. Isn’t it interesting that it is called “proud” flesh? For inevitably my problem is my pride. Am I willing to face the truth of what is really there? The parts that reveal where I have been wrong? Even way down deep in me a festering hurt may not be healed because I have refused to humble myself to forgive or seek forgiveness, to admit I do not have all the answers, to be willing to listen to God’s wisdom rather than the “wisdom” of a broken, hurting world. I know when the time is taken to think on these things with my Great Physician, much healing and relief can be achieved. It is worth the process, for His truth always sets me free! For some reason when the words “proud flesh” pop into my mind . . . methinks surgery is about to begin.

“I’ve Been Punky’d!”

“Are you kidding me?” What’s a grandmother to do, but laugh and keep on? There is no other way to deal with some things, especially those surprises that keep poking at one’s patience. It had been a busy week already and I certainly was not expecting this. In my own home no less!

It started several days ago, the details complicated like a mass of threads that were, thankfully, untangling one thread at a time. In the midst of all the other chaos, our daughter’s washing machine quietly rebelled, flashing codes that it was plugged, refusing in repeated attempts to unlock its door so we could get the wet things out. No big deal it would seem. Except for the mountains of (three kids’) laundry waiting to be washed. It was a small thing I could do – bring the laundry home and do it for them. Easy. No problem. Then I saw it. With the last load being tossed in the washer, there it lay in the bottom of the tall basket. I’d been Punky’d.

A number of months ago our daughter brought home an adorable wee pup the family named Pumpkin, Punky for short. Not long later another adorable pup was adopted, Leon, and so the dynamics of a household with three school-age children and two cats revved up a couple notches more. The pups were darling, yet a handful. And house training became an ongoing battle. As the dogs grew the issue grew with them, though one pup finally figured out what going outside was all about. While Leon was off to a trainer for awhile, the female dog, though better, had her intermittent issues. I often wondered when Punky would get it together. Maybe now was her turn. Off to the trainer she went yesterday. Please, may potty training finally be mastered!

The children piled all their dirty clothes into two tall baskets. I noticed a definite doggy smell on some of the boys clothes, so double wash pods, with presoak and double rinse set, were tossed in for each load. It was only when I hit the bottom of basket “number two” did I find my prize . . . a neatly formed three inch, mostly dry, doggy-doo not quite smiling at me. Really? After muttering a bit while flushing it immediately down the loo, I could only laugh and conclude, “I’ve been Punky’d!” What else can a grandmother do but wryly tell the story to her husband and daughter, toss the laundry bag liner in the washer, and share the news with you! Just more dew, or this time Punky-doo, under the arbor!

Popcorn Writing

Pop! Pop! Pop! The ideas randomly burst upon my mind exploding with intrigue and delicious aroma! There is momentum in them, enough to get me out of bed to write when tradition says I should be falling asleep. But how can I suppress the opportunity to indulge myself in this treat? When an idea pops forth, I must grab it, pay attention and see where it leads. It is fun! It is entertaining! It is a grand brain game to keep my little grey cells exercising! Inevitably for me it is a lesson. And, like butter poured over, the writing of those unbidden thoughts are a balm to my soul; an outpouring that ends up filling me up.

As random thoughts pop you can find me furiously typing away on the small screen of my phone. Less cumbersome than lugging a laptop or iPad around, I am at the ready when inspiration strikes. Like opening a thousand favorite books in no particular order, and at different speeds, writing in this “style” (coined by my writing friend) is an adventure. I know not where the words will go, but must trust the flow and see. Without an agenda when the writing begins, or not much of one, all kinds of possibilities surface. Whether it is story in prose or poem, the process is the same. The words seem to take on a life of their own. I’m just here to scribe them down, try to ensure the meaning of what I write is evident when I read it out loud to myself; and hopefully it makes sense to others, too.

May I suggest you try it sometime? Any random word or phrase that pops into your mind, write it down. Then take the time to see where thinking about it takes you. Perhaps it will be like journaling. Maybe you will be moved to look up the meaning of words, or use a thesaurus to find just the right intent for your expression. You might meet some issues inside yourself that need tending. No matter what, it has been my experience that good will come as you honestly consider this experience.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Happy writing!

A Chicken Noodle Dilemma

Our grandson was heaped in a lump, stuck because he was convinced his drawing of a chicken looked “like a noodle!” We had been laboring a while on a story he was writing for a third grade assignment, that he was to read on a Zoom class meeting. His task – to write about a coyote. His story line was adorable (of course!) and yet he ran into a wall criticizing himself to the point of inaction. Oh, how easily I could relate, the fear of being embarrassed and ridiculed hovering over my shoulder most of my life. I could understand his dilemma, yet he was the one who had to trudge through it. In a short conversation we talked about the boy who learned from his wise elder to tackle his put-off project “bird by bird.” Lamenting that his report about several birds was due the next day, he was encouraged to go one step at a time, write one page at a time, draw one picture at a time, finish one report at a time (reference: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.)

It took no effort on my part to praise our grandson for what he had done. It was impressive, and I loved watching the way his mind worked. He has been gifted with a brilliant imagination and sense of humor, but also a large dose of perfectionism, which unravels to underlying fear. It was interesting to see this play out as he wrestled with conquering this task.

Our grandson had completed several pages of the booklet, two to three sentences per page. The title, cover, and end pages were finished, but for the coloring. He had three more pages to compose, and then finish illustrating the entire booklet, “bird by bird,” or should I say, “coyote by chicken”?

Stuck on this chicken-looking-like-a-noodle dilemma took a funny twist long into the conversation. His worry about his classmates laughing at his drawing suddenly was solved: chicken’s name became (drumroll, please) “Noodle”! Puzzle pieces started to fall into place as our grandson’s mind clicked into humor gear: A coyote chases a chicken named Noodle who runs across the road; Coyote pauses as a car approaches, losing sight of the chicken as he stares at humans staring at him. (Earlier in the story line it was inferred that this was Coyote’s first encounter with humans, thus the stare-down.) Clearly though, the chicken had stolen the show, and our hearts. It was too good to not go with the flow: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” our grandson quoted with glee, and off his mind went again, adding an epilogue of sorts to his end page.

Now that he knew he could laugh with his classmates and not be laughed at, our grandson understood that the laughter would be from enjoyment of a fun and funny story, not laughter at him as a person. And if anyone wondered still why the chicken crossed the road, if not for the very obvious reason a coyote was chasing it, or the standard, “to get to the other side,” it is this: So he would not become Chicken Noodle soup! Oh, how very very delicious!

My addendum: Coyote’s name is Mac (really). The Chicken’s name is Noodle. And it’s all kind of Cheesy . . . YUM!

writing, chickens, kids, zerotohero

A little about me

There seems to be a little writing in my genes. Since my young years of the locked “Dear Diary” to the flow of words that just seemed to pour forth when writing letters, words have always been special tools to find expression, capture wonder, ponder and explore. I see now in my older years that those who have gone before me also enjoyed this thing about words. There is something delicious about them, especially when they form something beautiful, encourage, bring clarity.

March 3, 1899. My paternal grandfather entered the United States, “the country of freedom” through Ellis Island, followed a few months later by my grandmother. I have his original diary, written primarily in Bohemian, the Czech language, and happily the English translation. Grandfather recorded the near-three month ocean crossing, and much poetry. A big man who died in my infancy, I see him in my brother, who looks much like him. A locksmith and sheet-metal worker, Grandpa definitely had strong hands; yet possessed a gentleness and heart for words to beautifully express them.

My mother also was a writer. Published prose and poetry reflect her keen wit and hilarious sense of humor, but also her depth of insight into the ills of the world. We were very close, and I believe she inspired me to tap into the wellspring of joy that writing brings. Writing has always been a comfortable mode of expression for me. Perhaps the solitude of quiet contemplation, the opportunity to listen as I seek answers to challenges and dilemmas that fill my day, allow me to dwell in a place of peace. Now retired from a career as a Registered Nurse, I am still a wife, a mother and grandmother. And an explorer as writing is always an adventure. In my early seventies I find that my spirit is still young, though my body occasionally objects. Yet, I am living at “high noon,” certain that there is no “over the hill” in my future, unless it is to view another amazing vista!

In 2018, at the cheering on of a small group of writing friends, I “jumped off the cliff” and published Sherry’s first attempt at writing and art. Little Bit in the Great Wide Forest was written for our grade-school grandchildren, and illustrated in watercolor. A tiny squirrel, his sister and forest friends navigate through growing relationships and conflicts. It is available through WestBow Press, Amazon and other online retailers in Kindle and soft cover.