Time And Mystery



No one walks through the front door that is locked and latched with a rusty bolt. But when I come in through the back, I fill my lungs with the musty, ancient scent of time and mystery. I close my eyes and feel my heartbeat pulse through my veins...imagining all the people that once lived there. I pretend I can hear their laughter from the parlor, the sound of their footsteps in the ballroom. All those lives that lived and breathed, passed from this earth, now covered with fresh spring green in the cemetery a few yards out back. So many generations have passed through those halls; died so long ago. There is a coldness in the air--a whisper ready to tell all and unveil secrets buried by the ages.

Every floorboard creaks as I walk. The cold hearths look so naked and barren with no warmth within them. The house itself seems to have died and its lifeless carcass left for strangers to walk through. It doesn't bother me. I'm captivated. This place could be my home.

The tickle of spider legs echoes off the silk papered walls grown yellow and brittle with each passing second. The spider spins its web so secretly and silently, like people do their lies. As silly as it might sound, the spider's grace abounds in such a desolate place where once, I am sure, the rustle of taffeta swept over the floors and the sounds of a harpsichord played out the notes of Chopin or Bach. The imagine smell of chamomile wafts stale in the air, unattended by the clink of bone china. But why would it? The well is dry here; untouched by human hands in so long that the earth, and house, cry out from loneliness.

They say that Satan himself will take up the dry lands. But for this house, even Satan will not walk the weary halls. His demons, so willing to find a cold bed to rest their evil heads pass up the mold ridden mattress with rusty springs and rotten headboards. Yet here I am, an angel of sorts, a dreamer so passionate that a light within should fill this place. But it doesn’t. There is nothing but the sound of my steady heartbeat echoing about in my ears, so loud that I would have thought the dead souls would rise…and still…silence.

You see, I have but stumbled into the end of this house and all its passing glory. The lives I would imagine are forever gone, not to be thought of again. They will never, have never, haunted the halls. It would be an adventure for any good ghost catcher, any persons of ill-mannered imagination…and yet, they would be greeted with disappointed hearts.

I turn to leave, walking down the hall and through the abandoned parlor. The candle sticks have melted from the heat of the passing summer and now lay in a hardened pool around tarnished silver holders. The mice scurry beneath filthy rugs where decaying autumn leaves have blown in through broken windows. But just before I reach the front doors, I catch a reflection in a gilded mirror. I look and see my own face, the mystery in my own eyes, and I realize…that I am the only life left here…the only breath that this house has felt in so long….

And it shall be, I am certain, the last.



Lungs Full of Water

There are so many things happening in life right now that leave one's mind befuddled; leaving you feeling as if you are blissfully drowning. If you just dive under the violent waves, breathe one deep breath, and let the water fill your lungs...the pain will be over. That's what my mom says about drowning--that if we have to die that way, that's the way we should handle it. Quick. As painless as possible. Let the burning in your lungs cool with the salty water; force the darkness out with the warmth of welcoming light.

I'd be the fighter. I'd be the one that would pound at the water with tiny, ineffectual fists. I'd kick, grit my teeth, fight until the burning in my lungs was so great that I had no choice but to finally open my mouth and let the water wash in. I'm Stubborn. I need control. I need to feel that if I try hard enough, I can make something change. Fight harder. Just a little bit harder...and everything will be okay. But that's not how it happens, is it?

Sometimes I feel that I'm drowning, and that God sees me. I fight against Him, against His plan, against whatever He is forcing me into. I want the control. I don't want the pain. I hate the burning in my lungs--the temporary discomfort and need for air. Fear, in that moment, is greater than that image of Him watching over me...arms that will outstretch in the second that I need them most. Instead, I'll fight and strive to stay afloat. Foolishly, I don't even realize I'm wearing myself out, forcing myself deeper into the water. Because try as I might, I cannot save myself.

Wet, weary, my entire body aching and spent, I'll find myself in His arms. I know I will, eventually, because He is faithful. I know His promises ring true. Despite me...despite my stubborn pride...despite all the ways in which I fail, He still remains. There is nothing that I can do, will do, or have done that will ever keep Him from saving me from drowning. Which is good. Because I am terrified of drowning.


A Mom And Me Day

I am taking my mom out of her shell and to the movie theater. This is her favorite book.


Hop In And Follow Me Friday

Hop in and Follow me Friday are weekly meme's hosted by Parajunkee's View and Crazy-for-Books.

"Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."

I just finished reading Madam Tussaud by Michelle Moran. The main character, is of course, the woman who would become famous as Madam Tussaud, the famous wax modeler who's museums are still operating world-wide today. She is woman driven to succeed, strong and goal oriented--aside from wildly talented. But these characteristics come to taunt her during the story--when she fails to follow her heart and marry the man she loves, because she is too absorbed with success. Through out all of this, Tussaud witnesses the French Revolution, forced to model death masks for members of the French monarchy--slaughtered by the hands of the uprising. Some of these people were her friends.

"Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL? Tell us about him/her."

All the women in my family read. The trouble is, I am never reading what they are reading...or, at least, not while they are reading it. But my friend Mya read the book Madam Tussaud about the same time as I did, so we were able to talk about it a little...

Maybe I need to be part of a book club? Who knows...


Irresistibly Her

Having little children, it is an adventure to watch them grow up and start to develop their own personalities. Both of my children are completely different. The one thing that they have in common is their love of comic books and the Justice League (my daughter is 4 and my son is 2). They can line up all their action heroes and battle bad guys for hours on end. They sift through comic books, devouring the pictures (bc I won't read them to them--I prefer real books). In those moments, the entire house is quiet. Well, so long as you are far away from whatever room the Justice League is currently battling in.

My oldest has been trying her hand at various group activities. The first one was ice skating. She loved it. Was she any good? Actually, for 3 years-old, she was. She pranced around the ice with her arms outstretched and her hands ready and willing to brace herself if she slipped. She was brave, too--eagerly trying to push her pace and race around the ring. She even insisted on trying little hops and spins. She scared me to death...

A year later, it is soccer...and she is the only girl on the team. I know nothing about soccer, but I do know that it has met it's match when paired with my daughter. She stood out on the field and twirled her fingers around her pigtails--flipping them around and smiling at her coach. She hears one of the little boys ask, "What are these white lines for?" She bats her eyes and replies in her sweetest voice, "They are to keep us in."

Later, the male coach was trying to steal the kids' balls as they traveled from on end of the field to the other. He stops in front of Lucy who has been giggling along, and steals her ball. She freezes, turns her face up to him with eyes that are filled with daggers, and snaps, "Hey!" He smiles, but Lucy is not fazed. She straightens her spine and declares loud enough for me to hear, "I'm a girl."

The coach tilts his head. "You're a girl?" he teases.

Lucy pops a hip out and places one of her hands on it. She juts her chin into the air, cocks her head, and explains with as much attitude as she can muster (but sweeter this time), "Yes. I'm a girl named Lucy." The way she says it makes it seem as if the explanation should have been obvious--as if he should have already known who she was. If nothing else, the knowledge of who she was should have explained everything--most definitely explain why he should not have stopped her ball.

Soccer should be a long and interesting season...

I have two children. I would have thought that one of them would be like me. But they are not. My daughter is bold, sure of herself, full of laughter and life, unafraid of people in the slightest, loves attention, loves to play and run and jump and sing opera. Teddy is my little warrior. He is brave and will climb whatever height he thinks he can reach. He will battle whatever person he deems is a bad guy. He will kick and scream to be allowed to rock out next to his daddy up on stage playing the guitar...

Next year I am sure we will be trying yet another activity. Teddy might take up soccer, Lucy might tap in shiny shoes and the pinkest tutu the world can offer. Who knows where life will lead us--or they will lead us. All I know...is that I sure am happy that these two little wonders are changing who I am. I'll be lucky if I turn out half as cool as they are.


Shamefully Me

How many of us are truly ‘good’ people? I’m not. I fail just about everyday. I’m not even sure why. Sometimes, I think it is just sheer stubbornness that has me acting like a four year-old little girl—chin jutting out and arms crossed. I even stomp my foot and mutter under my breath. Immediately afterward, I have a second of clarity—yes, only a second—and I think to myself, “Gee, you should be so proud. Who is more mature than you?” Answer: My four year-old little girl.

This goes for every aspect of my life. But perhaps most shamefully, it applies to my spiritual life.
When my world shakes, even a little, I tend to withdraw into my stubborn shell. I retreat, hide under the covers, don’t want to be around people…and all because I am scared. What will happen? What is going to happen? Where is God, and why did He let this happen to me? Under those covers, I start to fume: God, why aren’t you here? What did I do wrong?

You see, I always turn to God—with my arms crossed, or peeking under the covers—and ask HIM why He tossed pain onto my life. But I just turn to Him—look at him—but I don’t talk to Him. No, shamefully, when I am angry and hurt, I decide to play the I’m-not-talking-to-you game…as if that is going to help my situation.

Romans 1:20 (Message) says this:

“People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat Him like God, refusing to worship Him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.”

In my stubborn, painful moments when I refuse to speak to God, let alone acknowledge Him as my King, I’m setting myself up for some even more painful moments down the road. Not only am I choosing to forgo the grace that my Heavenly Father can give me, but I am opening myself up for lies and attacks from the enemy. I hear the lies almost immediately: You’re such a fool. It is your fault, really. You should have been better, behaved better. You should have tried harder. There really is no worth in you…

And sometimes, I start to believe the lies. They become some sort of scarf that I tie around my neck and wear wherever I go—even when the weather deems scarves as inappropriate attire.
I understand why I act this way. I know when, where, and how the initial pain that caused this ‘self-preservation’ mode to set into my life came from. I could explain it, justify it, hold onto it as my one and only—albeit GREAT excuse—but does it really matter? Does it help me any?

Actually, it does. It always helps to know when and where the first crack appeared...

I was a little girl when I was rejected and abandoned by my biological father. That’s when it happened. I understand that my biological father probably did not realize all the detrimental pain, both physically and emotionally, he was about to dump on me when he left. But it happened. I remember running out the screen door and sitting in the yard, crying. I prayed. I remember that…and I think it is key to note…that in that first moment of true pain…I prayed.

But the situation didn’t change. And lies set in.

Here I am, twenty-eight years old, and I am acting like the wounded, stubborn little girl I should have been on that day. It isn’t to my biological father that I get angry at either, but to my Heavenly Father. Why didn’t you protect me? Why aren’t you protecting me now?

Silly, isn’t it? Confusing, if nothing else.

If we cannot allow God to step in, scoop us up, and heal us of all pain—past and present—we are going to live out Romans 1:20 in one way or another. As for me, I’m going to get out from under the covers and unfold my arms. I’m going to relax my jaw and let my shoulders slump. I’m going to stand up, lift my eyes to my Father, and whisper, even as tears stream my cheeks, “This hurts…really, really bad.”

And that’s more than enough for healing to start. In that moment, I can cast all of my anxiety (and pain) on Him, for He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). If His love can reach the heavens, and his faithfulness to the skies, than it can certainly meet me standing in my living room (Psalm 36:5). For no matter what has happened, or what will happen, He is my God who is mighty to save. He truly does delight in me (and you). He promises to quiet me with His love. He will rejoice over me with singing, because I make Him THAT happy (Zephaniah 3:17).

So, I will treat God as my King. Because even though life really does stink at times, I’m only seeing a tiny moment in the wonder that He has prepared for me…and the stinkiness was not part of it.


Villains 'Fix' Themselves

My little children have turned into their father. Lucy, instead of playing with dolls and arranging stuffed animals for a tea party, enjoys sitting down with comic books and the Justice League action figures. She and her brother battle super villains and work hard to rid the world of ugliness. Some mothers might think this is a bad idea. After all, battling lego villains on the xbox might not be the best use of time. I, however, think that it is wonderful (and it doesn't happen all day long).

Lucy can tell me the names of the super heroes (both real names and hero names) and tell me why they are a hero. She is even learning the names of the bad guys and discovering why they turned evil. For instance, Batman has to defeat Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a.k.a the Man-Bat. In an attempt to save himself from his growing deafness, the doctor developed a serum inspired by bats and their incredible hearing, and tests it on himself…thus accidentally altering who he is. He becomes, literally, a Man-Bat. He is super strong and can now fly. The bad part is…well, he is now bad.

In the 1970’s, Preston Payne became the third Clayface and an another enemy of Batman. Payne was a scientist that suffered hyperpituitarism (who says comic books can’t be educational?) and used the second Clayface’s blood to create a cure. Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, Payne became a clay-like creature that needed to pass his condition onto other to survive instead. What disturbing, is some believe Payne’s condition was a metaphor for drug abuse or sexually transmitted disease (Lucy doesn't know this).

The Penguin is a different story. Of all the villains that battle Batman, the Penguin is the only one that has complete control over his actions and is one-hundred percent sane. But the story of how he became something evil is interesting. Some believe that, as a boy, he was forced to carry and umbrella over his paranoid mother, due to his father dying of pneumonia after being caught in a downpour (explaining why he carries and umbrella). Having always known extreme wealth, Cobblepot experiences poverty for the first time when his mother dies. When this happens, her family of pet birds are repossessed to pay their debts. This breaks his heart—seeing his mother's beloved birds taken away.

Aside from this, the Penguin was obviously an ugly creature. He was short, fat, had a beak-nose, and webbed fingers. The children made fun of him. He didn’t fit in. He was bullied, ridiculed, and beaten-up. Even criminals would not accept him. When he tried to join a gang, they made fun of him, calling him the ‘Penguin’ and kicking him out…his umbrella tossed along with him. Angry, he decided he would make ‘The Penguin’ a name to be feared. He would fix himself. He would make himself something. He would prove that he had worth…or, at least, would prove that he was something--someone--to be feared.

The lists goes on and on. The Joker falls into acid and ruins his face, so he becomes something ugly and to be feared. Catwoman does much the same, deciding to pour out her vengeance on that which is deemed good—Batman. Two-Face, a man which was once good, is ruined by pain both emotional and physical. The loss of his love, the ruin of his face, and he tries to ‘fix’ things…make things even.

Super heroes and their villains will be a vessel for my children—lessons to live by—that we are mere human beings. We are easily wounded and hurt. We fall down, wallow in out pain…and get angry. That being the story, we can do one of two things: We can either try to fix ourselves and our situation on our own, or we can look to what is good to fix it—our Lord and Savior that is good enough to mend our wounds. If nothing else, the Justice League and their enemies will help me teach my children more about the goodness of God and the foolishness of mankind. They will admire goodness and those that live by it...and they will try to inspire others by doing so.

What Justice League is teaching me, is that we can not fix ourselves. If you do, you just might find a villain in the bathroom mirror.


Tuesday Teaser/ Teaser Tuesday #9

Tuesday Teaser is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Here are the rules: Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page, and BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

(On the angels singing to him)

Colton turned his eyes up and to the right, the attitude of remembering. "Well, they sang 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,'" he said earnestly. "I asked them to sing 'We Will, We Will Rock You,' but they wouldn't sing that."

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...inspired by i swim for oceans. If you are writer, take a line from your current WIP or published piece. This is a line from my novel. It's the opening paragraph. Sorry for the length. I wanted to end it with staring into the toilet...but that seemed strange...

One day, people are going to be asking my generation where we were when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I wish they wouldn’t. I don’t want to remember where I was. How will I be able to look them in the eye and tell them I was staring into the porcelain bottom of the Riverside Baptist Church women's toilet? Nerves. They are my number one enemy. They have plagued me—and my stomach—for as long as I can remember. It was ten minutes until I was to walk into the sanctuary and recite the 96 Psalm in front of the congregation. Picturing the audience in their underwear—old Mrs. Greenfield and her three chins, included—did not help. Was it wrong to feel immense relief when I entered the congregation, bile still in my throat, only to find Revered Phillip shaking, tears running down his crepe paper cheeks, and the recital forgotten? Because I did, that is…until I learned the reason for the tears. As soon as snarky Bethany Wilson, a year older than my sixteen, leaned over and whispered in my ear of the attack, I promptly turned my head and puked up mama’s blueberry pancakes all over the shaggy olive green carpet. No one cared.