We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Best Halloween of All

I've never cared much for Halloween!

Oh, it's not because I think it's a bad holiday--although there's a dark side to October 31st that deserves some caution. There doesn't seem to be harm in dressing up, carving pumpkins, and dunking for apples.

But for me, the ultimate introvert from a young age, I found going door to door trick-or-treating the worst possible form of embarrassment. It just wasn't worth the bag of candy we brought home. I even insisted my younger sister go to each door ahead of me.

Our neighborhood had TWO nights where droves of kids thumped up on our front porch calling "trick of treat." Beggar's Night (October 30th) and Halloween.

Then there was the year we had huge piles of leaves lined up in front of our house, waiting for the town leaf vacuum truck. Some kid dropped a match or two, and before long a fire blazed high and wide. To my elementary-school eyes, seeing the leaping flames and fire trucks left a lasting impression.

Halloween became a little friendlier when I became a mother. I didn't take my kids out to gather candy, but we always carved pumpkins while my husband answered the door and gave out candy. If no scary faces presented themselves, he'd invite our little girls to take a peek.

The best Halloween weekend of all came years later in 1997. We had our usual pumpkin carving, a rollicking fire in the fireplace, and a special snack. I never let on that a surprise treat was soon to arrive. Halloween night labor brought our third baby girl into the world just before 1:00 p.m. the next day! 

I'm glad God never tricks us, taunting "Gotcha!" He treats us to His blessings every day of the year. 

And this Halloween, we have been blessed with another treat: a sweet baby boy to add to the family, born October 29th. Welcome William Conrad! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Time to Plant and a Time to Uproot

To everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot . . ."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2

Today, we uprooted . . .

For nearly 25 years, my husband planted a garden every spring, using a parcel of borrowed land near our home. He planted strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, asparagus, beets, cabbage, beans, peppers, onions, broccoli, Swiss chard, chives, tomatoes, and flowers of every color. Over time, He also "planted" pavers, wooden planks, and even unused siding to keep the weeds down. He dug shallow ditches to drain the land when it rained too much and to irrigate the rows when it didn't rain enough. His system worked--most of the time.

Barry and Sharon in the Garden
He became a legend in the neighborhood, easily visible from the road and from the back yards of our neighbors. He planted, weeded, and did most of the harvesting. My thumb isn't as green as his, so I prepared, canned, froze, and shared. We have memories of our girls picking rock, pulling weeds, picking beans, and cleaning broccoli. Each of them has Dad's green thumb, a wonderful legacy for the next generation.

After Barry passed away in May, we did all we could to keep the garden going. We planted, weeded, and watered. We ate the asparagus he pampered, dug the potatoes he planted, harvested the cabbages and onions he bought and Elisabeth planted per his instructions. We put in ten tomato plants which, thanks to his drainage system, flourished.

But today, we uprooted.

It became apparent that we could no longer keep up the huge garden across the street. It wasn't an easy decision. Summit University's Community Appreciation Day brought a wonderful group of students and a couple of faculty members to the garden. They gathered and hauled planks, buckets, and siding back to the house. They pulled stakes and fence (over 800 pounds in all), loaded it into a pick-up, and hauled it away for scrap. All accomplished with a willing cheerfulness and kindness I will never forget. Sincere thanks to each one. Bless you all.

Yet, there's a certain grieving that comes with uprooting. Uprooting marks the end of an era, the end of one more memory associated with Barry. And because of that, I had a good cry tonight while washing the supper dishes.

It seems we spend so much energy planting, getting established, gathering possessions, living out the American dream. And then, as the years slip away, we find ourselves downsizing, giving things away, simplifying. It's time to uproot.

I'll miss Barry's garden. At the same time I'll treasure the memories and all I learned from the man with the green thumb. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"We Read to Know We Are Not Alone" (C.S. Lewis).

Have you noticed the Little Free Libraries popping up here and there? Here's the idea. Take a book. Leave a book. Nurture the love of reading. Promote a sense of community.

I took the top two photos in our town on Depot Street near the new pocket park and the bottom photo in Michigan this past summer. All three stand proudly by the roadside, offering books to passers-by. These tiny libraries come in all shapes and sizes. As unique treasure houses, they represent the spirit of freedom, the love of learning . . . and the beauty of story.

If you study a person's reading list or peruse his or her bookshelves, you understand him better. As I've poured over my late husband's volumes of books, I've gotten to know him in a new way. Sounds strange, I know, but as I've read his comments in the margins, his sticky notes pasted on random paragraphs, and his hand-written notes paper-clipped to various pages, I'm getting a feel for his thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics as he interacted with what he read.

Authors introduce us to new ideas. They broaden our thinking and help us see beyond ourselves. They challenge us to reach higher, to see farther.

Good stories do the same things in a little different way. How many times have we identified with various protagonists? We feel their vulnerability and watch them face their fears. By the last page, we take their strengths with us to conquer our own fears. We better understand our relationships. We find ourselves blessed with hope, often against all odds. Reading helps us gather the courage we need to follow through on our resolve. 

C.S. Lewis wrote, "We read to know we are not alone." 

So why do you read? And what have you been reading lately? Perhaps a nearby Little Free Library will offer just the right book!