Family Story

November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. Last year I used it to finish the rough draft of the novel I have been working on. I am still muddling my way through edits and rewrites, mostly because it is a daunting task and I have a tendency to put it off.

This year I am shooting for a somewhat easier project. I am going to write the tale of one my early ancestors and his journey to America.

Losing everything he owned in the Great Fire of London, John Perry had few options left to him. He could return with his father to the ashes of the city and try to salvage the scorched  fragments of his life and rebuild, or he could turn his back on the past and look to the colonies across the ocean for a new start. The black smoke hovering over the once great city merged with the gray clouds. The steady rain had finally turned the tide of destruction and conquered the flames. The smell of ash and charred wood clogged his every breath. Nothing remained of his life, his dreams. No, there was nothing left for him here. The colonies of the New World held the promise of hope and forgetfulness.

John Perry (the Younger) joined his parents, John Perry (the Elder) and Johannah Holland Perry on the trip to Watertown, Mass in 1667. There he married Sarah Clary within the same year. I can find information about births, deaths and marriages, but little else so many years later. I know bits and pieces and some stories that have come down through the family. My people were there during the French and Indian war, the Revolutionary War, Civil War and other important times in our country’s history. They were farmers, teachers and preachers. Simple people who grew up, loved, laughed and sorrowed just like we do today. They lived the history we learn about in books.

Their blood flows through my veins. It is enough for me to want to know them. Are they like the living, breathing family that I know and love? What parts of them have been passed down to me and my children?

Years ago, before I had any idea of being a writer, my Grandpa Perry and I sat together on the couch gazing out the window. He was telling me stories of his parents, aunts and uncles, their travels and their coming home. At fifteen I was keen to know who I was, where I had come from. As we talked about the ones who had gone, he said to me.

You should write a story about our family.

At the time, I eagerly agreed. I loved my family, I was fascinated by our history. I neglected to mention to him that I hated to write.

Years later he passed away, lost in the fog of Alzheimer’s syndrome. I was 1500 miles away and unable to get home. My biggest regret was that I never got to say good bye, second to that was that I had never fulfilled that request.

Still I waited. Now he has been gone more than ten years. I have been thinking about it more and more and have come to a conclusion. 4023864_origIt is time to grant that simple wish.

NaNoWriMo is coming.

Are you ready?

 

Advertisements

They’re Just Things

“It’s mine.”

“No, it’s mine. I saw it first.”

Does this sound familiar? It should to anyone who has had toddlers or worked with them even seen them fighting in a store. The whiny, cranky voices grate on the nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The sad fact is that we don’t necessarily grow out of it. Sometimes we merely hide it under polite phrases or even nonverbal cues.

There is something I want. I will find a way to get it.

Sometimes the claims are right and just. We have certain rights as human beings and it is not wrong to claim them. We have rights as Americans, as children of our parents, as parents of our children, even as homeowners and renters. We have rights.

But what if claiming those ‘rights’ infringes on the ‘rights’ of another? As a parent, I have the right, the responsibility, to discipline my children. As my children, they have the right to be sheltered and protected. Sometimes that line is blurred. Sometimes I don’t discipline enough and sometimes, I confess, I have gone too far. Sometimes I actually hit the mark. It is one of the hardest jobs for a parent.

My parents are already planning what to leave behind as an inheritance for my sisters and I. Until we get to heaven, death is a part of life, but I hope they don’t leave for a long, long time. With their planning, they are trying to shelter us from the upheaval that will come.

I have seen it in other families who have lost parents. Arguments over who gets what. Fighting over little details, a bit of furniture or jewelry escalates to horrendous proportions. The battles can last for years, sometimes for a lifetime. Huge chasms of pain and anger tear families apart. Sometimes forever.

I can see glimmers of it, the seeds of discord within my own family. A few years ago I would have said it was impossible. We love each other deeply and would never cause that kind of pain just for things. I fear I may have been wrong and it fills me with sorrow.

I have the memories of my parents, of our family through the years of both sorrow and joy. No one can take them from me. They are my inheritance. The things, the items linked to those memories are not important.They are a pale shadow of what is real. My parents are striving to disperse the things in a way that is fair and compassionate. Sometimes the division of things will not be perfect, there will be things that more than one person wants. That is bound to cause some hurt.

I grew up knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was loved by my family. I was not always understood, my choices are not always the right ones. But I have always been loved. That is such a precious gift that few other families can claim. The more I see of this weary old world, the more I treasure what I have had without question, without doubt. I pray (it has become a fervent prayer) that my family will remember the priceless possession that we already have before they give in to the hurt of things.

We have each other, don’t let the things of earth make us forget that. I would rather go through life with nothing than lose what I have with my family. 081

Life Goes On

Did you ever notice how birthdays have a way of showing up every year? No matter how I hide or run, there it is waiting for me, same day every year.

Great. Super. I’m so excited.

Not.

But then, life isn’t so bad when you get right down to it. Sure, I have the cheapest dumb phone available. Sure, I sit home, day after day, trapped with no vehicle because my husband feels that he actually has to go to work. Sure, my kids come home, interrupt my work to tell me about their day and proceed to dirty the dishes I had just washed, again. Even with all that and more- life is pretty darn good.

My dumb phone is nevertheless a working phone ensuring that when my kids or someone else needs me, they can reach me. Since my number is given to a chosen few, I am not swamped with calls that are not important. My dumb phone can even text, which for me, who hates to actually talk on the phone, is a wondrous thing. Now if I could just get to the point where I can make appointments and sell stuff by text instead of phone or face to face, I would be on cloud nine.

I sit home without a car most days, but I also have this lovely computer that allows me to do what I love, write. Day after day, I sit here and write my own stories or critique the ones my friends have written. In this way, I can add to the stockpile of well written words that millions can access for entertainment and encouragement. Added to that, I have a husband who supports my literary efforts and has a strong work ethic, even at a job he hates. He agrees that it is important for me to stay home and focus my efforts on my writing and raising our kids even if a second income would help pay nagging bills.

My kids come home from school everyday with their noise and their appetites. but I am grateful they have food to eat, a good school to learn stuff in and maybe best of all, they feel comfortable enough with me that they can tell me the ups and downs of their day. How many moms have teenagers who actually like to spend time with her? I am blessed.

Now my birthday looms over the horizon and as I look at the halfway point of another decade I realize something. I am far from where I wanted to be when I reached this point. But where I am . . . with all its trials and blessings. . . . is right where I want to be. Not that I wouldn’t mind some of those fancy electronic gadgets, or my own vehicle, or a maid to do those darn dishes-again. I am human enough to want such things. But when you get right down to brass tacks;

Life is Good . . .

Spring Pond1

 

Taking Time

066I have been blessed by a visit this week. My sister and two of her girls took time out of their lives to drive hundreds of miles in order to spend time with those of us still at the ol’ homestead (My parents, two other sisters with kids and me and my family). They usually come out once or twice a year, but the visits are often hurried and busy with other things. This time, they came out for a whole week. We didn’t have to share them with my sister’s in-laws. There was none of the hustle and bustle of the holidays. There were no big parties or celebrations. There was just them and us.

The first few days they were here, I saw them to say ‘hi’ and to give hugs, then I was back doing my own thing at home. We all got together for dinner on Sunday and stayed the afternoon in a family meeting . . . necessary, but not exactly fun and games. We played a few games, gave hugs and back home I went.

Late Sunday night I thought to myself, ‘how foolish’. Here was a much beloved sister come all this way for some good old fashioned family time. She brought two nieces that are usually busy with paper routes, gymnastics, dance, riding lessons and school to be able to come for extended visits. And how was I spending my days? Enjoying them, getting to know them on a deeper level?

Nope. I was hope fiddling on my computer, reading and watching TV. Nothing important. Nothing that wouldn’t still be there when they went home again.

Yesterday, I changed that. I stayed home long enough to do my most basic chores, then went to find them. We spent the day together. We went out to lunch, did a little local sightseeing, walked along the lake; nothing big or expensive. But oh so priceless. The girls and I had such fun, laughing and teasing each other. My sister and I talked; nothing earth-shattering, but a connection strengthened, a renewal of our friendship. We took time to get to know each other again.

We took time.

A little thing. Moments, a blink of an eye, then it is gone. But what a gift to have the time to give. What a blessing. And I almost missed it.

Oops. God just tapped my shoulder . . .

I haven’t been spending the time with Him that I promised I would.

“Yes, Lord. I know what you’re saying.”

If blessing come from spending time with a sister, how much more blessing will come when I spend time with my Creator, my God, my Savior.

Lord, I know that my life seems busy and sometimes it seems like spending time with you is just one more thing to add to the list. I know that it is important. I know that you want to spend time with me. I also know that when I spend time with you, everything else just fades away and your grace showers down. Please forgive my neglect. Help me to remember to take time to spend with you. Lets do lunch today, Ok?

 

091I will meet you there.

Full House, Full Heart

My three kids came home last week from their adventure at summer camp. On the drive home they bubbled over with excitement, each trying to outdo the others in telling 008 009their tales. Finally sleep overcame them and my husband and I shared a quiet smile. The week had obviously been a great success.

They had learned and experienced so much and were already talking about next year.

Now they have been home for a week and life is back to normal. Sleeping in, squabbling and begging for computer time. But there are some lingering changes. Their sibling bonds have grown stronger and while they still argue over little things, they are also a tiny bit quicker to forgive and move on. Right now they are all outside, (an unusual occurrence this summer). They were playing, and now they are helping my sister pack up her house for moving. without threats or bribes. I am headed up there myself, but I wanted to share with you how they have grown and matured.

As I celebrate each new sliver of maturity and grace, I remember that God is looking at me, too. He celebrates each baby step I manage to take. He sighs when I mess up once again then sends yet another learning opportunity. I am so grateful that He has given me my children to remind me that my Father loves me, without limits, without fail, without giving up. So often I am ready to throw in the towel and give up on myself as hopeless, but my Father puts his arms around me and lifts me to my feet once more, “Come on, sweetie, I know you can do this, I have faith in you.”

How can I give up on myself when God refuses to.

Thanks God, for not giving up.

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