One ship crossing the
Vast sea alone; endless time
Passes ever slow.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Holy Bible NIV
I have heard it once said, “Joy is a choice; choose joy.” As I awake on any given morning, gaze out the window, I can choose to be joyful or not. Well, I am also learning along life’s pathway that hope is also a choice. I can wake up on any morning and decide to be hopeful or not. Admittedly, there are days when choosing to be joyful or hopeful are very hard to do when I am in the middle of a difficult situation or perhaps, when I have been disappointed because my latest dream was slashed to pieces. Or I wake up realizing I have a huge problem.
Several months ago, that is exactly what happened; I woke up one spring morning and found I had no electricity in the house. I wondered around checking all the rooms. As I entered the kitchen and looked out the window, I found a huge problem; a huge tree had fallen during the night and had pulled the electrical wires out of my house. It damaged an entire wall. The lower interior south wall looked fine but once I stepped outdoors, the story changed. A large section of the outer wall was missing and a window from the attic had also flown out. I was much shaken and wasn’t sure what to do first. Being on my own, there is no one to call for help. I started with the city utility office and went from there. They had already found my fallen tree and turned off power to my house until I could make repairs. I had to arrange for emergency tree removal, have my wall repaired, fix the electrical hardware, and then I could have power. But all of that could not be done in one day. Completing all the repairs was a long process in which I needed to work with my insurance company and pay my deductible to have everything done. Also due to lack of power, I was temporarily displaced from my home. My insurance company was really good and paid for my temporary stay in a hotel where I also received hot breakfasts. Additionally, the hotel was near my worksite so getting to work every day was not a problem. No doubt, God was good as he kept blessing and providing for my needs.
But as this process continued on, it was easy to lose sight of hope. I was so anxious for everything to be fixed in an instant and life be back to normal. My mother did tell me more than once that I was too impatient. The practice of being patience is a lifelong endeavor for me. How I wish I could hear my mom’s gentle and cheerful voice one more time. Also, my finances tend to be tight so this personal catastrophe was a huge drain. I felt sick to my stomach as I contemplated this latest mess in my life. Furthermore, I was displaced from my home over Mother’s Day weekend. Both my parents have passed away and I didn’t receive the blessing and honor of becoming a mother. Therefore, not only was I temporarily “homeless”, I also was all alone while everyone else I could think of was celebrating and spending special time with their families. The weather did not help matters either as it was raining with heavy gray clouds in the air; the charcoal gray scene outside my large hotel window seemed to deepen my gloomy mood. So I rested on the unfamiliar bed in tears.
The next day, Sunday which was the dreaded Mother’s Day, on my calendar, I did manage to muster the willfulness to attend church and tried to stay close to God in quiet prayer. Because my own mother wasn’t here and I wasn’t a mom, I knew I would be spending most of the day all alone; a sense of hopelessness, like a large boulder, had parked itself in my stomach. Considering the special family holiday, everyone I met at church had plans to spend with their loved ones. So, as expected, I returned to my home away from home all alone. But something made today different from yesterday. I was struck by a sense of restless; felt as if God was nudging me and saying, “Come on, you don’t want to stay cooped up in here all day.” For by now, the weather outside had gradually changed. The dark, soaking rainstorms of yesterday and this morning had finally dissipated. In place of the storms was a bright blue sky beneath brilliant and warm sunshine. No, I didn’t want to stay indoors all day.
I wandered outside where I could smell the fresh spring air and feel the warmth of the sun wrap my bare arms. Since this area was new to me I felt adventurous enough to embark on a new path where my footsteps have never wandered before. Although the highway was nearby, I was also surrounded by the greenery of the ground, the bushes, and the trees. Singing birds glided and swooped high above me. I smelled sweet lilacs along the way which was a tender reminder of my childhood home where each spring new lilacs bloomed along the road. As I walked along, I felt hopefulness trying to return to calm and soothe my aching soul. It was as if the Lord was quietly speaking inside of my heart and kindly telling me it was my choice to make. I could continue this day in a sense of gloom and, “oh, woe is me” attitude or I could choose to hope and firmly believe that all will be well and fine; I just needed to continue to trust and believe over time. So with a silent prayer and taking a long, slow breath, I resolved that today I would choose hopefulness. With a lighter heart and a burst of cheerful energy, I felt that once immovable boulder in my stomach slowly melt away. I continued along, letting God gently speak to me. And being a writer of poetry, I sensed a new poem forming in my thoughts. Often I write poems as a way to remind myself of the little milestones between the Lord and me; my writings are like a memory album of my walk in faith. God had meant for me to remember this day and how I emerged from this long tunnel of dark gloom to embrace renewed hope now resting inside of me.
After the Rain
The sun brightly appears after a stormy spell
Letting everyone know that all again is well.
The shrilling wind has lessened its’ churning
While the pelting rain has ceased it’s drumming.
Trees, shrubs, flowers, and everything green
Is bathed in wetness on this summery day in Spring.
A new fresh scent permeate the air;
A welcomed sign that the earth is renewed and fair.
Such a sweet blessing to remember and realize
That the loving Lord is in charge: rain, snow, or sunshine.
And at night when the orange setting sun is dipping low,
He stays in charge of all our nights, and our hopes for tomorrow.
Last year during this course, I had written a story about my childhood home around age 12 in a piece about the century old four-square house that I had lived in. In fact we lived in that house for many years and it is still in our family as my nephew and my brother take care of it now. There is also an old barn on the land which has been used for years. Again my brother and nephew take care of it and use it as they need. It does not house any animals today as my family is taking some breaks from the very demanding farming life. Nevertheless that barn also dwells in my mind as an important place from my childhood years. Therefore, I decided to write about the old red barn and I have no idea how old it really is. It could be newer than I think too as I wonder about the tall cement and brick walls. So, here is my latest piece about the old barn at my childhood home:
The Old Red Barn
Empty now but erect and three stories high stands the old red barn;
Settled downhill from the quiet road on our small Wisconsin farm.
It once housed horses, cows, pigs, and bales of hay
With barn cats darting and scampering as they hunt and play.
Wild birds lived there too on the highly vaulted ceiling beams
Where they built nests for their young to keep them safe and unseen.
On the first floor were assortment of pens and animal stalls
While the upper level was wide open from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.
Although it was a place for work where animals were fed and watered,
We kids found time to enjoy the day as we climbed up the wooden ladder
Leading into the huge hay mow where bales were stacked so tightly.
We’d climb the tallest pile just to see how high we could be.
Sometimes we would hear tiny mews sounding from under
The loose hay and discover a newborn kitten litter.
It almost never failed that somewhere on that little farm
That every year a new batch of kittens was born.
When the tall barn attic was not quite so full of hay
Then there was more room for us kids to enjoy and play.
One game we played was our own version of racquetball
As we tried to hit tennis balls against the back barn wall.
At other times we tried building long, curving tunnels
By re-arranging and piling the hay bales.
Oh what fun we had creeping, crawling, and slithering through!
And oh how dark it was in there and rather spooky too.
I sometimes climbed up to a high “window” opening
Just to look across the green pasture to the distant tree line.
One a warm summer day, I would also wander up there all alone.
Sometimes it was a quiet place to hide and still be safe at home.
Though it is early evening thick graying clouds cover the sun
Darkness is descending and I sense a shadow of coming doom.
With one lamp turned on I fidget in the semi darkness
I cannot be still; I cannot find peace and rest.
Reports are streaming in describing a night of gloom.
I gaze out the window knowing what will come soon.
Rumbles of thunder and lightning will flash across the sky
As I sit here alone and restless on this pending stormy night.
The wind will sway and whistle through the trees;
Such a haunting, eerie sound that I can’t calm my shaking knees.
Away from the windows I hover breathless and hiding deep inside
Fearing that first crack of thunder coming tonight.
No one to talk to and no one to comfort and hold my hand
As I sit alone waiting for this long fearsome night to end.
I crouch in quiet dread not even bothering to go to bed
As I ponder and wonder about this tumultuous night ahead.
God seems far away right now, though I know that’s not true
He is watching over me as I sit alone in this darkened room.
It is darker now as the thickened clouds are drifting closer to me.
Soon it will be pitch black and I will no longer see
Encroaching danger lies so close by; somewhere near, just outside
Oh here it comes, the first rumble of thunder; the first hint of a long stormy night.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ~ Colossians 4:6
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