an embarrassment of riches

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I meant to write this post several weeks ago.

Usually putting off writing a post is due to an inadequate amount of

time to tap my thought upon a keyboard or the words shouldn’t be shared.

Here’s hoping it’s the former reason.

In my last post, I wrote about our late August trip to the beach.

I mentioned our time on the sand, what I didn’t mention was our time

on land, more specifically the boardwalk area of Seaside, Oregon.

Allow me to back track for a moment.

Carl, Caleb and I had visited the beach earlier in the summer and during one of

the days, we spent a little time in an arcade.

We had accumulated quite a few tickets but it never seems like the number

of tickets compared to the “price” of the prizes lines up the way you hope.

Been there?

We huddled and decided  we would return before summer’s end

and Caleb could add to his ticket bounty and surely acquire the most

amazing prize 😉

So one Saturday, the three of us headed to the beach, for cooler weather

but this time we grabbed  one of Caleb’s friends Archie.

We were in a celebratory mood as only days earlier

Archie had finally traversed his way off the waiting list and would

be attending middle school with Caleb.

We spent a chatty 90 minutes in the car, drove into the beach town,

picked up some bagel sandwiches to round out our cooler full of

snacks, and headed to the arcade.

Not gonna lie, I was a bit put out that the weather was very warm (again) on

the coast. I will completely own being a Pacific Northwest hot weather baby.

I also didn’t feel like spending money for me to play games, just for the boys

and that included Carl.

Tickets were starting to leak out of the boys’ pockets

and Carl and I watched the boys play a game

throwing balls at rows of stuffed clowns.

Fabulous idea to me.

Two of these games stood side-by-side and once one

became available, Carl asked me to join him.

Despite my resolve, hitting clowns is right up my alley,

I grabbed a ball and we made a great

team and added to the ticket booty.

Carl slid his game card  to play a second game. This time Carl told me

to aim for the lower row (I took no offense at his direct hit at

my lack of height) and I consented to his strategy.

As the game started, I quickly dispatched of the bottom row and Carl

demonstrated his superb crushing skills.

I was able to assist as each row was resurrected to be clobbered once again.

I could feel a small crowd gather behind us, but we kept throwing and chuckling.

The game was over and we discovered we narrowly missed

the score to earn 500 tickets.

Carl suggested playing once more while I worried about the people waiting in line.

But he slid his card as the tickets continued to spit out from the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine without end.

Carl and I looked at each other puzzled and wondered how could this be happening.

We looked behind us and shrugged our shoulders and widened our eyes as the people

behind us began to peer over our shoulders.

We kept repeating that we didn’t win the bonus.

But the tickets wouldn’t stop.

Carl jogged over to the ticket counter and explained our plight.

The ticket guy calmly said,

“You must have gotten the high score and won the bonus which is 500 tickets”

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Carl came back and explained to me and the growing crowd.

We were surprised and I have to say a bit embarrassed.

Once the tickets f i n a l l y stopped, we told the anxiously waiting people

they could have the game we had already paid for because we were done.

My mood now matched Carl’s good one and I ran off to play one of my favorite games.

After my game fun, I found my husband laughing with a few fellow arcade dweller

and the boys alternately giving each other high-fives and giggling.

They had just played Spin-N-Win.

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One boy pulled the lever to spin the wheel and the other boy hit the middle button

hoping to hit the smallest of slivers marked 250.

Archie had just hit the 250 mark thus the cheering and the hand celebration.

This photo is their second attempt switching places and you can see the tickets from the

previous attempt.

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Caleb hit the 250 mark as well and there was more rejoicing and so many tickets.

They played the game a few more times and  never yielded the same results.

We turned in the tickets from both arcade outings, split the loot down the middle

and the boys each came home with a Oregon root beer mug and some candy.

I wanted to share this story not because we won 1000 tickets playing 3 games.

I wanted to share this story because of the two different responses.

Carl and I were shocked and searched for an explanation for this unexpected windfall.

Caleb and Archie were full of delight and joy.

Caleb and Archie didn’t ask any questions, they simply received with open hands.

Carl and I looked around, felt the pressure of the crowd and  were

a few shades of embarrassed.

Caleb and Archie had unabashed glee and everyone within earshot craned

their necks to gain a better view.

They didn’t care who happened to witness their victory dance.

They kept trying to recapture the wonder whereas Carl and I scurried away.

They never stopped smiling or saying it had been the best arcade day ever.

I’m not sure if Carl and I thought an arcade ticket cop would come and take

us far, faraway but we should have done a happy dance instead of a private

high-five off to the side of the arcade.

Where has my wonder gone?

When did I become so concerned with what others think?

Who taught me to question unanticipated gifts?

Perhaps I have taught myself this tragic opinion.

So today, I want to ask you:

Are you allowing wonder to be a part of your life?

Do you believe wonder is simply child’s play?

What has replaced your sense of wonder?

Are you able to embrace unanticipated riches without embarrassment?

Are you willing to open wide your hands and receive each and

every gifts you been given?

I don’t mean tickets made of paper but the totality of your life gifts.

Some gifts you can be held or hugged and others are simply a blink away

Seek, pursue and hunt for wonder in the corners of your days.

Spin the wheel.

Throw down your hand and allow yourself to

stop and gaze up at wonder.

Break into a merry dance even if you are circled by spectators.

Better yet spread the high-fives around the crowd.

Wonder deserves to be uncovered and shared.

When we left the arcade, we passed a couple who stood behind

us and then played the game vacated by Caleb and Archie.

They had witnessed the avalanche of tickets and shook their

heads in tandem with ours.

None of us could resist exchanging knowing grins and repeating

our shared sentiments of disbelief.

When you stumble upon wonder, it’s nearly impossible for it to remain contained,

it leaks onto others creating heart space only it can inhabit.

What ball do you need to throw?

What wheel do you need to spin?

What button do you need to press?

What mood do you need to release?

Allow wonder to be dispensed in a steady

stream pooling around your feet.

**photos by permission

hang on, sweet mama (a gift on my birthday)

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Today is my birthday.

Happy dance with me.

I am squinting hard to see your moves.

Oh, you are looking good!

Last year was all about reaching the big 5-0.

It seems after the age of 25, birthday milestones are marked by

increments of 5.

After the ages that end in zeroes or fives, comes a settled resting place,

or at least it should.

So I am embracing the age of 51 because now I get to sink into my 50’s.

Often I don’t feel my age, except on the days when my joints

make noises when I walk.

I feel the way 51 should feel for me, that is the best explanation.

*****

For the last several years, we have taken a day trip to somewhere along the

Oregon coast during the last week or so of August.

To celebrate my birthday, to attempt to make summer last as long as possible

and because my people know my heart belongs to the ocean.

On Saturday, we gathered all the essential gear, grabbed a friend for Caleb

and headed south.

Of course it wasn’t an original destination and we waddled across the sand to

stake out our territory in as much solitude as possible.

The boys placed their chairs several feet in front of Carl and mine 🙂

They ran with shovels towards the wet sand to dig the biggest hole EVER.

Carl and I sat and breathed.

I surveyed the other sand dwellers and one family caught my eye.

A family of four settled to our left, weighted down by Trader Joe

bags, sand pails and two very excited little girls.

The couple attempted to lay a couple of blankets which proved

to be quite a task as the wind began to gain strength.

Once they had wrestled the blankets to the sand, the dad

jogged towards the shoreline to begin the first of many trips

filling buckets with water for castle building.

I on the other hand, strolled towards the shore, snapped

a few photos of the sand excavators and reminded them

to alert us before they ventured into the water.

They assured me they would give us ample warning

and Caleb proceeded to share a story explaining the reason

you never turn your back on the ocean.

Back at our chairs, Carl was sinking deeper into his chair

and I  happily joined him without hesitation.

I glanced over to the family again, the dad was entertaining

the little girls and the mom was sitting with a towel  over her

shoulders with her back to the ocean, reading a book.

Perhaps half an hour later, this was the scene:

 

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Oh sweet mama.

I feel your fatigue deep in my bones, in my soul.

I have known the need to turn my back on majesty in favor of rest.

Even now being in this mothering game for half of my life, I still have ever-present

exhaustion, but it’s not the same as when your children are very young.

I applaud your husband for giving you room to rest without requirement and his delight

in playing with his daughters.

Sweet mama, when you all gathered up your belongings to leave (at just the

right time, before a sand storm took residence), as you passed me, we gave

each other a gentle smile as fellow travelers do.

It was all the more powerful as you went on your way because I realized

you spoke in a foreign tongue which I didn’t recognize.

Mothering has no language barrier.

So if we could share a few moments from one mama a bit farther down the road,

this is what I would share, my gift to you, one I should have opened more often.

  • Hang on.
    Hang on to who you are in this season of high needs and demands.
    Hang on to the knowledge that today is not forever.
  • Say yes.
    Yes to naps.
    Yes to help.
    Yes to taking time for yourself even if it a few moments horizontal
    or reading a book because little moments amass but taking zero time for
    yourself always calculates to zero.
    Yes to good enough over perfection.
    Yes to lived-in messy over untouchable clean.
    Yes to doing a few things well and letting go of the other things.
  • Say no.
    No to being supermom or a martyr.
    No to finding your worth by attempting to do everything.
    No to obligation over calling.
    No to comparing yourself with other moms.
    No to comparing your children with other children,
    the scales will never balance because children are
    not mass-produced but should be greatly loved.
  • Remember
    Remember to keep life simple.
    Remember you are doing a wonderful job
    and are a great mom. You are, even when
    you lose your temper.
    Remember to say thank you to your husband.
    Remember if you are walking this road without a mate,
    ask and accept all that others want to offer.
    Remember that asking for help is not weakness,
    it’s wise.
    Remember how well you feed your children,
    feed yourself well too.
    Remember what brings you joy beyond your family
    and if necessary, for now, keep it tucked away until you can
    fully pursue it.
    Remember how everyone says how fast the life of child
    flies by? Well, it is true.
    Remember to be fully devoted to this time when your
    children are the ages they are now.
    Remember not to worry about your child at an age beyond
    where they reside (I’m still working on that 🙂 )
    Remember you are equipped to be their mama today
    and you will be equally armed when you arrive at the later years.
    Remember to smile.
    Remember to laugh.
    Remember to play.
    Remember, we moms who are walking ahead of you,
    we think you are a wonder.

So hang on, sweet mama.

 

P.S. I have written so much lately about losing my rhythm in this season. I had lamented not planting my row of sunflowers along the fence. Time kept slipping past me to do such a simple task. But one day in July I believe, I decided to toss a few seeds figuring that by October perhaps a bloom or two would visit. I scattered mostly Mexican Sunflowers because I developed quite a crush on them last summer but the photo above was what greeted me on Sunday. August didn’t leave without a bloom erupting. God has been teaching me how small offerings left in the hands of the Maker can bring forth a different harvest than envisioned. I have missed the long row of towering sunflowers all summer but I am deeply entranced by this solitary flower bringing delight to a steadfast bee.

 

surprise landings

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Last Sunday, our family took a trip to the beach.

Only we never laid eyes on sand.

We were so happy all five of us could spend a day together taking in the cool breezes

and getting lost in the sound of the crashing surf.

We also wanted to take our dog to the beach for perhaps her last time

to play tag with the waves.

Five individual schedules aligned but collided with too many other details

to document here but the end result was traffic.

After two hours in the car and not making progress,

we took a quick vote and decided to try and find a lake.

Google Maps to the rescue.

We found a lake however,

it was late to find a prime spot with some shade.

We had prepared for the beach and not blazing sun.

Translation: we had grabbed sweatshirts and not sunscreen.

We had an umbrella which burrows easily in the sand but

not so well in hard soil supported by driftwood and rocks.

Once we set up “camp” very much off the beaten path,

(and we had quit our muttering)

a dragonfly landed on Carlen’s chair.

Just like my thing for ladybugs,

ditto for dragonflies.

We took pictures and selfies.

Our disappointment in the change of terrain dissipated

by a winged creature’s chance landing.

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This beauty wouldn’t leave and when the time came (Carlen wanted her seat back)

I tipped the chair and found

a tall blade of grass to hasten its departure.

We lasted only a couple of hours and the heat was really hard on

our pooch Hazel.

We drove home from a different destination than we had

envisioned but we left full of the deposit made into

our memory banks.

Now we have  lake memories to add to

the other ones of dragonflies

landing in our midst.

I wrote a post 3 years ago describing two different

dragonflies landing on our house and staying for hours

or in one case 2 days.

When I revisited this post, although I can be quite wordy,

I was extremely wordy back then.

Feel free to read those words but in case you would

like the Cliff Notes, read on.

We questioned why those dragonflies landed and remained.

The answer was revealed in a Google search in ten words.

Dragonflies need to stop and rest,

just like everyone else.

As much as I love watching dragonflies

zoom across the air and marvel at their

beauty and grace,

because of these past sightings,

they also remind me to rest.

Make rest your destination.

Last Sunday our destination was more

than a beach, it was to spend time as a family.

A lake, a beach or even a backyard could accomplish this goal.

Rest isn’t always an easy road.

There can be many obstacles and detours needed

to find the place of rest.

Seek rest no matter what it looks like.

I think rest is very much off the beaten path.

Eventually I hope rest will become a well-worn trail

for the majority.

If a dragonfly needs rest,

so do you.

Wherever you travel,

may you be filled with

the priceless deposit of rest.

 

enjoying the view

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photo credit: Ryan McGinty

I grew up nestled among wheat fields and the rolling hills of the Palouse.

When visiting family I would gaze longing at Mt. Ranier

and considered this view supreme.

Upon moving to Oregon, with a simple

twist of my neck there were mountains

dotted along the horizon plus

we were a mere 70 miles from the ocean.

Mountains blanket me with awe

but the ocean is my soul’s sweetest spot.

The force of the waves captivate and woo me.

I didn’t find beauty in wheat fields

until I parted ways with this scenery.

I was always looking over the stalks to get

to a more preferable terrain.

I overlooked the surroundings in which I was planted.

There are days I don’t even notice Mt. Hood peeking out from

the blue and white sky because I am so saturated by my own thoughts.

Last week we were beach dwellers.

The summer has been a toasty one and I was anxious to

feel cool breezes and don a sweatshirt if it was deemed necessary.

If it was chilly or rainy, fine by me.

I simply wanted to be cool and I wanted my pupils to be

enlarged by the sight of the ocean.

On one particular day, we had the quintessential beach day.

The kind of day that could have been used by the chamber of

commerce to promote tourism.

I am talking the kind of day full of kite flying, sand castles

followed by jaunts of wave jumping and football throwing.

The sun was a mile high and the breeze was just enough

that it only occasionally created book pages to flutter.

Boys buried themselves in the sand while others

lifted their face heavenward and dozed in sunny bliss.

I decided to abandon the family and stroll

in the opposite direction from where our family was

staked out.

A runaway dog was chased by hollering kids,

dozens of brave souls sent out delighted

squeals in the shiver-worthy water and then suddenly

I came upon this vision…
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I spotted this empty chair from quite a distance.

I expected it to be filled by the time I drew close enough to capture

the image on my phone.

I wondered where was the owner.

Using the restroom?

Unable to the resist the pull of the tide?

When I reversed my path, the chair was still unoccupied.

I have looked at this photo from time to time since we have

returned to normal life back among the mountains.

I have asked myself…

Am I sitting in the chair designed for me?

Am I longing for someone else’s chair?

With no one in sight, how easy it would have been for me

to sit right down in that aqua colored chair and enjoy the

breathtaking view.

In fact, only the true owner would have noticed my

seat sitting where it didn’t belong.

Back at my beach base camp, I sat in

a drab forest green portable chair.

Boring I say.

Sometimes I view bits and pieces of my

personality and temperament as not preferable compared

to someone else’s.

Much of my life, I have lived in one terrain

dreaming of another land or seascape.

Slowly God is showing me how to live

where I reside and according to

how he has fashioned me.

I am learning how powerful it can be

to bask in the gifts I have been given

and allow them to freely mingle with those

another person possesses.

I am determined to embrace mine instead

of looking over at someone else’s field of gifts.

What does your chair look like?

Does it have a sagging cushion or

is it high-backed and seemingly uncomfortable?

Is it lacking arm supports and rocks back and forth

leaving you feeling unsure of its ability to hold you?

No matter the condition of your chair,

it is held together by the strength of a Creator who

has designed it perfectly for you.

You and I don’t have to wander around like Goldilocks

trying on other chairs hoping to find the one that is just the right size.

Imagine this,

your chair is directly in front of your eyes.

The chair God has crafted is just right for your frame.

Sit in your chair.

Allow your eyes to scan the scenery.

Your vision may see the ripple of wheat,

the lapping of water at your feet or you might blink

the sun out of your eyes and behold

the people standing before  you.

The ones you were meant to claim

by loving and caring for them as only you can.

Curb your wandering eyes

and simply sit in your chair

and enjoy the view.

It’s a supreme view.