Archive for the ‘Grateful Praise’ Category

Grateful Praise #2: The Star–My Christmas Story (and A Love Story, of Sorts)

January 31, 2013

The sun outshines it (2) (800x576)

It’s been almost three months since I last posted, and as is usual for that situation, I’ve made an already long time longer yet.  That’s because the more time there is between posts, the more I feel that I must write something brilliant to make up for my slothful ways which means, of course, that I become paralyzed because, well…nothing I write seems brilliant enough.

But who wants to hear yet again about my silly neuroses?  How about a Christmas story?

Yes, I know that Christmas was, like, over a month ago, and possibly no one wants to hear a Christmas story in almost-February, but that’s what I’m feeling thankful for right now, so I reckon a Christmas story is what you’re getting.  Even worse, I suppose, haha, it’s not even a fresh Christmas story.  It happened two years ago.  Nevertheless…

Longtime readers of my blog know that we’ve had a bit more than our share of hard times, so I won’t rehash those.  Suffice to say, it’s sometimes been a challenge for us to stay hopeful, though we have remained ever thankful for our many blessings.  So, two years ago a few weeks before Christmas, when Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe some good luck?”

“I’m afraid I’m fresh out of good luck, ma’am,” said Tom.  “But how about some elf magic in the workshop?”  (As most of you know, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is a carpenter and handyman, and I have more than once been the lucky beneficiary of his handiwork.)

I thought for a second and said the first thing that popped into my head.  “Well, you know I’ve always wanted a star.”

We’d talked about it before.  Ever since we lived in Roanoke, Virginia, known as “Star City of the South” (because of the huge illuminated star that shines over the city from atop Mill Mountain) I’d been yearning for our own star.  But we’d had a lot on our plate since then, and there had been scant time for star building.

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man frowned.  I could tell he had something a little more modest in mind.

I was about to tell him it was okay—something else (maybe some shelves?) would be fine, when I thought No.  A star—a big glowing, shining, radiant star—was exactly what I needed.  What we needed.  Something to remind us that there is always hope, to help us remember to always keep our eyes steadfastly on the light.

Tom sighed. “Okay…sure.”  He’d seen that look in my eyes before. “A star it is. I’d better get started.”

It took him a lot longer than he thought it would.  Stars—at least the kind that perfectionistic carpenters that take great pride in their work make—are harder than you’d think to construct.  Thank goodness we had a couple of crackerjack mathematicians in our family to consult about angles and such (Thanks, Benjamin and Cameron!)

I stayed out of Tom’s workshop in the weeks it took him to make our star because I wanted to be surprised.  I actually had no idea what it would look like, although I did know that this was not going to be some quick cardboard cutout covered with tin foil.  All I had asked was, if possible, to make it so it’d still look pretty in the daytime.  And to make it at least big enough that our neighbors could see it.  You know, in case they needed a little hope to hold onto as well.

When he brought the star out, his smiling handsome face shining right in the middle of it, I cried. It was splendid.  It was beautiful.  It was absolutely perfect.

The stars of the show! (2) (590x800)

Star Man--My hero (2) (587x800)

We got it up just in time for Christmas that year.  And after Christmas was over, we couldn’t bear to take it down.  So now it stays up year round.

We illuminate it, of course, during the Christmas season.  After all, that’s what inspired it.  The bright, shining star that led the shepherds and Wise Men to the baby Jesus is a beacon of hope and faith and salvation to many.  But we turn it on at other times, too.  It shines to show friends, traveling in the dark, the way to our home, and it glows to welcome our children back to the fold.  We turn it on to celebrate happy times and we turn it on to give solace in sad.  But mostly, it’s to inspire hope.  To help us (and perhaps others) remember that even in the gloom, there’s always a light somewhere.  To remember always to keep our eyes fixed on that light.  To remember that God is there, even when we can’t feel His presence.

And, too, when I see it, I think of who made it for me.  Anyone who’s been through extended hardship and pain will tell you that it can bring you closer to those you love, but it can also push you apart.  To be honest, it’s been a little bit of both for Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and me.  I’m not ashamed to say that—to pretend otherwise would seem disingenuous.  Looking at the star and remembering his dear face right in the middle when I first saw it reminds me of the love that brought us together twenty-six years ago.  I know that that love is still there, even when obscured by weariness, by sadness, by pain.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of remembering and focusing on the good, on the light.  Sometimes, love (the lasting kind, that is) is a conscious and committed choice.

I say “sometimes” because, as someone who stayed longer then I should have with an abusive man, I am painfully aware that sometimes, the only healthy choice is to leave, when you can clearly see that there is no light left in your relationship.  My years with Tom have been hard in many ways, and there are cracks, but…oh!…there is so much light shining through those cracks!  And I believe that when you both choose to turn to the light and remember the good, to be generous and forgiving, love and hope can and usually will prevail—love over hate, light over darkness—shining even in the darkest night.

Bright and shining star (2) (800x600)

Grateful Praise #1: Queen Anne’s Lace

October 17, 2012

Bug walking tightrope is NOT a chigger.

I really enjoyed doing Thirty Days of Grateful Praise, and some of you seemed to fancy it as well.  So I’ve decided to make it a regular feature (called simply “Grateful Praise”), except this time, I’ll take it one day at the time. :-)  I don’t find it difficult at all to find things I’m grateful for—-every single day, it seems, I see something ordinary with fresh eyes and recognize how blessed I am.

It’s been a wonderful year here at the Doublewide Ranch for Queen Anne’s Lace.  I’ve always loved this commonplace flower (which some unenlightened souls call a weed), but have taken particular notice this year of all the lovely forms it takes throughout its long growing season. It’s been a delightful distraction in my daily walk down the driveway to fetch the mail.  It’s pretty obvious from my pictures, I suppose,  why some call it “bird’s nest.”  Growing up, I heard folks call it “chigger weed” because they claimed it was chock-full of chiggers, but I think as long as you don’t loll about in a large field of Queen Anne’s Lace, you’ll be okay.

When looking for poems about Queen Anne’s Lace, I found a poem that wasn’t specifically about the flower, but I liked it so much that I decided to include it here.   It could almost be a poem about me, except for the “long after midnight” part.  I’m an “early-to-rise” girl, for certain, up at the crack of dawn. But the part about “walking up the walk Like a woman in a dream”(people used to call me a “dreamy” child and I don’t think they meant it as a compliment) and leaving the clover and Queen Anne’s Lace standing when mowing…well, I’m afraid that’s right on target. :-)

PORTRAIT BY A NEIGHBOR

Before she has her floor swept
Or her dishes done,
Any day you’ll find her
A-sunning in the sun!

It’s long after midnight
Her key’s in the lock,
And you never see her chimney smoke
Till past ten o’clock!

She digs in her garden
With a shovel and a spoon,
She weeds her lazy lettuce
By the light of the moon.

She walks up the walk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Like a woman in a dream.
She forgets she borrowed butter
And pays you back in cream!

Her lawn looks like a meadow,
And if she mows the place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne’s lace!

Edna St. Vincent Millay


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers