My Empty Nest (Temporarily)

I didn’t do a post yesterday because I was out of town. My husband and I drove my three kids to a summer camp, Circle ‘C’ Ranch, nearly two and a half hours away.Mainstreet_edited-1They are teenagers, (well the youngest is a year shy, but that’s beside the point) so they are more than old enough to be away from mom and dad for a few days. I know this camp well, I worked there for summers during college and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I know the owners and directors and trust them implicitly. They are solidly grounded on Christ and make sure their summer staff is the same.

But . . .

My babies have never been away from home for more than a sleepover unless we went as a family. They are picky, overly-emotional, cranky and at times they are very hard to live with. But they are mine. Will the counselors know how to talk them down when they get angry or sad? Will the middle one, the picky eater, find enough to fill his tummy? Will the youngest, my sweet daughter who changes moods at the drop of a hat, get homesick and cry for me or the stuffed animal she forgot?

When we arrived at the camp, in the rain, we went through registration with nerves prickling. Will there be any kids that will be my friend? Will my counselor be nice or mean? When’s lunch? We met the counselors and dispersed to the different cabins, the boys sharing different sections of the same cabin, my daughter across the street. Within minutes, my oldest found a like-minded friend and I all but ceased to exist. The second one followed us around for a while, then went back to his cabin to see if he could repeat his big brother’s accomplishment. My daughter stayed with me until the final minutes before going off to her counselor and the young cabin-mate who asked her to take the top bunk so they could stay close.

My husband left to get the car and I was left alone. The rain had stopped, but the roof was still dripping and main street glistened beneath thinning clouds. It looked so much the same as it had 20 years ago, yet it was different. This time I was the parent leaving my kids to find their own adventure. I found I wanted to stay, to experience it with them, yes, even to relive my youth and those four wonderful summers.

Now here I am, the house achingly silent around me. I thought I would enjoy the time to myself; No more arguments, no more complaints, no more ‘I’m bored’. But instead, I find myself straining my ears for the sound of laughter as they watch a video together. I listen for a newly changed voice to sing, slightly off key, with his ‘tunes’. I need to go to the store, but there is no one to go with me. There are no young arms wrapping around me, my daughter coming close for a cuddle. There is no younger son coming in from a bike ride to tell me, in detail, how he got the new scrapes on his legs because he was trying out a new trick. No oldest son interrupting my writing to show me his latest drawing.

My nest is empty. I finally understand why my mom held my sisters and I so tight when we came home from college or for a visit. I understand the tears when we say good bye again.

My nest is empty, and I can’t wait until it’s full again.040 (9)

Read the Directions

I am one of those people that likes to buy new gadgets. I can’t often afford new toys, so when I can, it is a big deal. I bring them home, giddy as a kid on Christmas, and I unpack it right away. I read the instructions enough to put it together and start it up then set the booklet aside.

No worries, I can figure it out. And I usually can, at least the basics. I will refer to the book once in a while if I need a clue. It just takes too long to read the whole thing through.

A few weeks ago, I found out why you are supposed to read the whole thing.

I bought a camera about 3 years ago. It is a very nice camera and I get some great pictures with it. It has a long zoom and high pixel count and I have enjoyed it, carrying it around with me every time I leave the house. A few months ago, the display screen was really dark when I tried to frame a shot. Oh well, it is a few years old and the screen might be going bad. They just don’t make things like they used to. I can deal with it. And I did deal with it, using luck and instinct to take pictures that I couldn’t quite see. some of them even came out well. Then the screen went bright, washing out the colors. Hmm, that’s weird.

I dug the instruction book out of the bottom of a box of other discarded instruction books and hunted to see if there was something I could do to change the view screen.

There was, and a whole lot more besides.

Wow, this camera can do THAT?

I was amazed at all the features of my camera that I had been missing for years. I mourned lost opportunities and bad pictures that could have been saved if I had just known . . .. Now my pictures are more beautiful than before with a whole new range of possibilities.

But wait, there’s more . . .

I bought Photoshop at the same time that I bought the camera. Again, I started it up and have used it for years making my best pictures even better. But I didn’t read the instructions. How hard can it be anyway? I figured out how to tweak lighting and colors to bring out the best in the pictures.

We have seen a lot of publicity on Photoshopped pictures lately. Pretty women become flawless, cool landscapes become surreal art and so much more. Hey, I take some darn good pictures. I have Photoshop. Why shouldn’t I try some of those cool effects. The trouble is, I didn’t know how. So back to the instruction book and online tutorials. These were less helpful if only because the possibilities with Photoshop are nearly endless. I did get some good ideas of where to start though, so I began playing around and experimenting.

Wow. I have a new addiction. I have always wanted to be an artist and paint the pictures in my head but my fingers lacked the talent. Now, with my camera and a computer program, a whole new world of art has opened to me.

As I sat down to write this post, God tapped me on the shoulder. (He’s been doing that a lot lately)

Hey, Kate, Guess what . . . I gave you an instruction book, too. It’s sitting right over there on the shelf.

I look. Yep, right there where I left it the last time I checked some wording for one of my stories. My Bible. I haven’t  picked it up to really study it for a long time. I know the basics, enough to get on with life anyway, right? I have studied it through my teens, 20’s, 30’s . . . well you get the idea. I know it pretty well already.

Do you really know Me enough? Maybe I have something new and fresh to say to you, did you ever think of that?

Well, I guess. I did learn new stuff about things I thought I knew. I can give it a try. If my camera and Photoshop have hidden gems, I can only imagine what God might have hidden in the book He wrote. Maybe it is time to dig in again.

Dreaming Fairy

Where reality gives way to fantasy and art.

In His Right Mind

content_5019426_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAILI am fascinated by the stories in the Bible.

This wasn’t always the case, I was raised in the church so by the time I was a teenager, I figured I knew it all. Of course, most teens think so, but about the Bible it was surely true. It has been around for a long time and there is only so much new to find in it . . . or so I thought. After high school, I went to a Christian college where everyone was required to take at least one class in both Old and New Testament studies. Since I wanted to graduate, I did, I even learned some things, little details not taught in Elementary Sunday School.

I graduated, again knowing all there was to know, got married and had kids. Wanting to be a good parent, and because I enjoyed it, we went to church every Sunday. One day the pastor began telling a Bible story. Here we go again. I stopped myself from rolling my eyes but under my breath told the story right along with him. Until he changed it.

He didn’t change the core of the story. He added to it. The pastor painted a word picture telling about the heat and dusty roads. He told us what the person likely feeling in the middle of this crisis. It was only a few extra sentences, but suddenly the story was new . . . the people were real. People just like me.

I was hooked. The story the pastor told swirled around in my head for months until finally, in a slow hour at work, I grabbed pen and paper and wrote.

My first short story.

Since that day, almost ten years ago, I have written many stories and the rough draft of a novel. Not all of them are from the Bible, but most of them. Two years ago, I published five of them in The Other Side of Miracles through Inspiring Voices by Guidepost. That was a learning experience and since then I have learned and improved my storytelling craft.

Now I am publishing my stories as ebooks, hoping that others will find a new love for those old stories. My first ebook, In His Right Mind is now for sale on Amazon. A quick read, but an intense one. It is my version of what happened on the day that Jesus healed the man possessed by the demon Legion. I hope to have more ready to publish soon.

http://www.amazon.com/His-Right-Mind-possessed-Encountering-ebook/dp/B00LT5WAJE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405605207&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Miracles-Looking-miracles-ebook/dp/B008F1ZM7W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405605377&sr=8-1

Family Jewels

I just returned from a weekend outing with my husbands family. His parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They didn’t want a big party or expensive296 gifts so we (their kids and their families) kidnapped them for a ‘quiet’ weekend. We rented some cute little cabins in a tiny campground deep in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. There, far from our TVs, computers and phone signals we were able to connect on a deeper level than other recent get-togethers.

I have been blessed with wonderful in-laws. My husband’s parents spent forty-three years serving in Chad, a country torn by poverty, war and political unrest. Their three sons were raised in a culture far different than what I have known. I married the oldest son almost 21 years ago and have learned a great deal from his different perspective.

This past weekend some things came into crystal clear focus for me.

305My children who sometimes struggle to fit in with other kids, click seamlessly with these cousins. My husband, who is an extreme introvert, was able to relax and communicate with the few people who can truly understand where he comes from. Even I, who am only related to these people by marriage, have always been accepted and loved as one of them.

I was able to connect with my two 17yr old nieces as well. We talked and found that although we are decades apart in age, our love of reading and writing are ageless. We all struggle with the need to express ourselves while battling the insecurity that makes us hesitate to offer up what is crying out to be shared. That is a war that many writers face everyday. I am hoping we can continue to keep in touch from our different corners of the country and encourage and strengthen each other for a long time.

This weekend has become a precious jewel in my memory. One to be taken out and polished and cherished whenever I am feeling lost and alone. This family is a handful of gems with each facet adding its own glint of light, its own sparkle of joy. I am blessed to not just have my own family that I love, but a second family as well, a family that offers a whole new outlook on life.347

Faith through Disappointment

God, why did you let this happen to me? I did everything I was supposed to, I prayed, I trusted, I ignored my doubts thinking you would take care of it. But you didn’t.sad portrait

Do you trust me?

. . . yes . . .

Do you really trust me?

. . . most of the time . . .

I tapped you on the shoulder about tithing recently.

Well, yeah, but Lord, you know how things are right now . . . we can’t pay our bills each month. I tried to tithe, I put in $20, I know that is 1% instead of 10%, but even so, a week and 1/2 later we bounced 3 checks.

Do you trust me to take care of you?

You always have. I know we won’t starve or get kicked out of our home.

Is that trusting me or your family, since it is their house you live in?

Ok, good point, but still . . . You know this thing I prayed for, it would have helped financially, I was planning on tithing from it. It would have made things easier for a while.

Would it?

You know it would. I could have paid off some bills, put some aside for the kids school activities, gone to that writers conference. Maybe even have some left for Christmas shopping, well no, it probably wouldn’t have lasted that long. None of those things are bad, so why didn’t you let me have it?

No, none of those things are bad.

Then why didn’t you let me?

Do you trust me?

So we’re back to that. Lord, you know, even better than I do, that I struggle with that. I’ve prayed about that too, you know. Trust is hard . . . especially when good things I pray for don’t happen.

Just sayin’.

So you would trust me if I let you have your way?

Well, yeah, I guess.

I have given it to you before, with extra. Did it help you trust and bring you closer to me? Or did it give you security to keep going your own way?

But I didn’t pray about it those times . . . Ok, I guess it kept me secure . . . kept the status quo.

Do you trust me?

Yes, Lord.

Do you know how much I love you?

Yes, I never doubted that.

Do you know what I want for you?

Not specifically, can you drop me a hint?

In general, what do I want for you?

Well, I guess you want for me to have a good life . . . I know you don’t promise wealth or even perfect health, but I know you want me to have a life of trust, faith and peace.

. . . I guess I have a long way to go.

Do you sometimes take good things from your kids so that they can have better things later.

Yeah, I guess. *sigh* I’m still disappointed.

I know you are.

. . . *sigh* . . .

I love you, child.

I know, but God . . .

Yes.

Are you sure it is going to be Ok?

Trust me.double rainbow

I’ll keep working on it. Thanks God.