Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pit Stop

Maggie flipped on her directional and checked her blind spot before changing lanes. Settling into the driver's seat, she tried to ignore the loose spring in the cushion that poked her in the back. It had taken 100 miles for her to adjust to driving the big moving truck, but now she felt like a pro. Rumbling over the bridge that stretched across the expanse of the Colorado River, Maggie reached over and fiddled with the dial on the radio. Only static. I guess no radio waves can reach the bottom of this canyon, Maggie thought to herself before turning off the white noise.

The spring morning had started out chilly. After Maggie had checked out of the hotel in Grand Junction, she had found herself scraping frost off the truck's windows with her credit card. Now, several hours later, the day had heated up and she was grateful for the air conditioning blowing frosty air into the stuffy cab. A few more miles down the road and a fine drizzle misted the windows of the truck. Maggie turned on the wipers as the drizzle became a deluge. The windshield wipers whipped back and forth across the glass making a squeaking sound that made Maggie grimace with each pass. She gripped the steering wheel and leaned forward, peering through the downpour as the interstate slipped past.

Around another turn in the highway and the rain suddenly stopped. The piercing blue sky was blinding after the gray storm. The squeak of the wipes across the dry windshield produced a mewling protest from where Phoebe sat, perched in the passenger seat. "Sorry, old girl," Maggie said, scratching the cat behind the ears. "The weather changes fast here in the Rocky Mountains." She flipped off the wipers and tried the radio again. A country-western song belted out of the speakers and Maggie hummed along, joining in when she knew the words.

The next road sign informed Maggie they were 140 miles from Denver. "That means we should arrive about four o'clock. I'll call Steve in a bit and let him know we're on schedule. I can't wait to see the new house, can you? New house, new job, new start, eh, Phoebe? So exciting!" Phoebe answered with a rumbling purr.

Thirty minutes later, Maggie was surprised to find white fluffy flakes falling from the sky. The clouds overhead were dark and hid the mountaintops. Soon snow was falling steadily and visibility worsened. Maggie turned on the headlights and slowed down, feeling the slip and slide of the tires in the slush. How many seasons can you have in one day? Colorado is crazy, Maggie mumbled to herself as she let a truck pass her.

"There's an idea," Maggie laughed, pointing to the passing vehicle. An oversized sign with the word, "coffee" was strapped to the bed of the truck. "How do you feel about a pit stop, Phoebe? We'll let this storm roll by and I'll call Steve to let him know we'll be a little later.  But better late, than never, right?"

Linking up this week with Writings and Ruminations. 500 words inspired by the pictures above...and the random weather of my home state of Colorado. Yes, it snows in June.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Orphan

The market was crowded. Merchants with their loaded carts yelled above the din, filling the hot arid air with shouts.

"Olives! Oil cured olives!"

"Figs! Finest you will find!"

"Fresh herbs! Dried fruit!"

Anatha ducked around a cart laden with cured meats, avoiding the grasp of the watchful merchant. She didn't dare stop to see if the officer was still following her. Clutching the stolen hunk of bread in her right hand, she elbowed her way through the horde and pressed on, unsure of her destination, but certain she couldn't outrun her pursuer much longer.

Darting around a corner, Anatha's bare feet padded along the scorched pavement, her breath coming in short gasps. She slowed her steps for a moment, but broke into a renewed run when she heard the shouts behind her.

"Halt! Thief!"

"Stop that urchin!"

Over her shoulder she caught a glimpse of Sikari. His black mustache drooped in the heat, casting a shadow over his cruel sneer. He squinted in the harsh light, searching the crowds for his prey. Suddenly with a triumphant shout, he pointed at Anatha. Pulling her scarf over her head, she scoured her mental map of her nightly wanderings, searching for a place to hide.

Heart thumping, Anatha caught a glimpse of an alley to her left and pushed her way through the throng. Diving into the gloom of the side street, Anatha hunkered down behind a rubbish bin and tucked herself into a ball, willing her breathing to quiet. Hiding among the detritus she heard Sikari thunder past, still spewing threats. In the quiet moments that followed, Anatha felt sweat trickle down her back and her tunic clung to her bony frame. Using her crippled left hand, she wiped sweat from her face. All this for a bite of bread? She shook as a wave of grief rolled over her. She was so hungry. So tired. So alone.


Anatha looked up, her grimy face streaked with tears. Peering into the shadows, she caught a glimpse of a face at the end of the alley.  "Follow me," whispered the voice, before disappearing from sight.

Swallowing hard, Anatha glanced back toward the busy street before treading carefully down the darkened passageway. The mysterious figure slipped over a crumbling wall and Anatha scurried after him. As her bare feet landed on the cool stones, she peered up at the towering moss-covered walls that surrounded the hidden courtyard. It was as though she had stepped into another world.


Anatha spun around clutching the bread to her chest and found herself face-to-face with a small group of children. They, too, wore rags and all were barefoot, but their smiles were warm and one held a out bowlful of grapes.  A tentative smile stole over her face as the oldest girl limped forward and said in a gentle voice, "My name is Dosta. You will be safe here with us."

Extending her crumpled hand, Anatha found a welcome embrace. And a family.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


Five-hundred words inspired by the picture and quote above. A little fun with names:  Anātha is Hindi for orphan, Dōsta for friend and Śikārī for hunter.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Ben closed his eyes and a grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he started with a simple shuffle-ball-change, warming up his feet. And his audience.

Rat-a-tat. Rat-a-tap. Tappity-tap. Tap.

Finding his rhythm, he lunged to his left and then jumped to his right, feeling the old pine floor beneath his shoes beckoning him to speed up his steps.

Tippity-tappity. Tippity-tappity. Stomp. Jump. Stamp.

Tippity-tappity. Tippity-tappity. Lunge. Jump. Step.

Ben could just barely hear the murmuring of voices over the clicking and clacking of his tap shoes.

"He's the next Fred Astaire."

"He makes it look so effortless; like he's floating on air."

"I half-expect him to tap-dance his way up the wall and across the ceiling."

Ben lost himself, hearing only the music that filled his head and the pounding of his patent leather shoes. Then suddenly he froze, sliding his heels together with a clickWith his toe he traced a circle on the floor. Once, slowly. And then once again.

Shwoosh. Tap. Shwoosh. Tap.

He switched feet.

Shwoosh. Tap. Shwoosh. Tap.

Gearing up for his grand finale, Ben flung his hands out to each side and launched into a complicated syncopation.

Riffle. Riffle. Riffle. Riffle. Tappity. Tap. Tappity. Tap.
Paradiddle. Paradiddle. Tippity. Lunge. Stamp.
Paradiddle. Paradiddle. Shwoosh. Jump. Stomp.

A smattering of applause filled the hall. Ben opened his eyes.

"Well done, Ben," his mother beamed, clasping her car keys in her hand.

"Come on, Pipsqueak," his brother teased. "Or should I call you, Mr. Bojangles, Jr.?"

Ben smiled sheepishly and shuffled down the hall toward the front door and slipped his hand into his mother's. "I hope we learn a new step today."

Ruffling his curly hair, his mother smiled. "I just hope you haven't exhausted those legs of yours before we even leave the house."

"Nah, Mom. I could dance all day."

Image courtesy of Unsplash.
“Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?”
― M.C. Escher


Three-hundred-ish words inspired by the picture and quote above. And inspired by an old Psych episode we watched recently, highlighting the astonishing talents of Dule Hill.  Tappity-tap.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Because Mothering Matters...

From one sometimes-snarly-and-snippety-mom to my fellow moms out there...who I assume are sometimes snarly and snippety, too. You are, right? It's not just me? Whew...


Recently I read a list about the many hats we mothers wear and it made me smile. It also made me tired. In this roll call I recognize many of my day-to-day demands:

I am...
a mom,
a personal assistant,
a chauffer,
a singer,
a cleaning lady,
a laundress,
a hero,
a boo-boo kisser,
a librarian,
a swing pusher,
a bug killer,
a chef,
a big ole meanie,
a toy package dismantler,
a teacher,
a student,
a referee,
a stroller-pusher,
a dancer,
a mess.

Maybe I cried a little bit when I hit that last one, because it's so painfully true. Sometimes this role of mother is glorious and I hold my head high, proud of my role as mom:  when my daughter sticks her cartwheel on the balance beam or when my son surprises me with a hug (in front of his 6th grade buddies). When my girl snuggles up with me on the couch or when my littlest tells me that the best part of her day was me.

But honestly, many mornings and often in the afternoon, motherhood is more like trumping through the mud-slogged trenches than it is singing and traipsing across the mountaintops.

Kids fight.
Milk spills.
Laundry multiplies.
Meals flop.
Germs infest.
Toys breed.
To-Do lists lengthen.
Homework disappears.
Tempers flare.
Patience thins.

And just as I reach the end of me, inevitably another desperate need rears its ugly and demanding head and I have to dig a little deeper and stretch a little farther, knowing deep in my weary heart that I'll start the battle over tomorrow. Hence my tearful response to that final line...I am a mess.

But within this mess of mothering, I find meaning because mothering matters to God. 

He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11

This gentle reminder that God cares for me in the midst of my caring for my family stirs something deep in my soul, stirs up a desire for my day-to-day to be different. It would seem that I have two choices when I face the endless demands of my household:  I can put my head down and tackle my chores purely out of a sense of duty because that's what "good moms" do (blech). Or, I can ask God to transform my attitude and empower me to embrace each task as a sacred responsibility in tending to the welfare of my family. In this light, the above list takes on an entirely new vibrancy...

A personal assistant with the unique responsibility of preserving our family-time, hands linked around the dinner table.

A chauffer with regularly scheduled quality time with my kids when they're strapped into their seats and can't get away from me.

A singer with the privilege of introducing my kids to the wonder of 80's music and utterly embarrassing them by belting out the lyrics.

A cleaning lady with the unique honor of making this house a haven for my family.

A laundress with the weekly blessing of praying for each one in my family, from the tops of their heads to the holes in their socks.

A hero because I can tell you where to find almost anything in the house, be it your shoes, your homework or the exact location of that sticky rubber frog you got at the doctor's office.

A boo-boo kisser with the capacity to comfort my kids, whether it's a skinned knee or a wounded heart.

A librarian sharing in the joy of exploring new and incredible worlds without ever leaving the living room couch.

A swing pusher with front row seats to the uncontainable joy of feeling the wind in your hair and the sheer exhilaration of flying.

A bug killer who is sometimes a bug rescuer, teaching about the preciousness of life and the need to respect and care for God's creation. (Unless it's an ugly spider...then squish.)

A chef with the responsibility to care for the insides and outsides of my brood by making sure that what goes into their bodies is beneficial for them, while also passing on a passion for good food and kitchen dancing.

A big ole meanie with the tough job of instilling in my kids a healthy respect for authority with the willingness to sometimes "not be cool".

A toy package dismantler with hands on opportunities to model patience, restraint and a muzzle over my mouth in challenging and frustrating situations.

A teacher. Every. Single. Day.

A student learning from inside this crucible of motherhood about God's goodness. And also learning a lot about new and complicated ways to do simple math.

A referee striving to teach my children about fairness and justice. And about the hidden blessings of serving and letting someone else have the last package of fruit snacks.

A stroller pusher with daily opportunities to stop. Slow down. Explore the habitat of roly-polies. Marvel at the wonder of springtime. 

A dancer laughing as my kids either sit slack-jawed or clap their hands over their eyes as I demonstrate my amazing dancing skilz.  

A mess...I'm still a mess, but a mess with a purpose.

This shift in perspective has not altered my mother lode of tasks but it has had a life-altering impact on the load this mother is able to carry. As long as I remember that my mothering matters.

As we enter into this weekend and pause for a moment to honor motherhood, I hope you will find a moment to acknowledge that while you are exhausted, you are exhausted for a good reason. And I pray that you will hear clearly when God whispers to your heart that you are an amazing mother to your children and your mothering matters. In ways you can't even imagine.

A snapshot of a moment when I remembered
the sacredness of my mothering.

I added a few additional "jobs" to the above list, roles that I find myself filling on a regular basis. I'm sure you have a few you would add, too, and I hope you can find a lighter and brighter perspective on those jobs, as well.  Blessings on you!

The original list can be found here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Cove

Opal dove beneath the waves, swimming just below the surface, the roar of the water filling her ears. Popping her head up above the water, she blinked her eyes rapidly and looked around, spotting Pearl perched upon an outcropping of rock a few yards away. Letting the current tug her along, Opal swam slowly toward the coral encrusted reef, careful to avoid the knife-like edges of the jagged rock below the surface.

"There you are! I thought you chickened out," Pearl teased. She patted a spot next to her and smiled. The sun had dried the water from her skin leaving a salty powder on her shoulders and across her freckled nose. Her red hair hung long and straight down her back, slowly drying in the piercing sun and the breeze blowing off the bay.

Opal picked her way up the side of the outcropping and settled in the spot in the sun next to her sister. "I'm not a chicken. I just got turned around." She grabbed a handful of her black hair and squeezed out the sea water, twisting it and twirling it into a bun on her head. The breeze across her neck chilled her; goosebumps broke out across Opal's shoulders and arms. Shivering she turned her face toward the sun, closing her eyes and letting the heat warm her skin. She sighed, contented to sit and listen to the rhythmic rocking of the waves against the rock.

"Look over there," Pearl nudged her sister. "Look at them."

Opal stirred, fighting the sleep that threatened to steal over her. Opening her eyes, she squinted into the sun, peering toward the beach. "Who?"

"There on the beach." Pearl pointed "The couple. They're holding hands, I think."

Opal giggled. "Ew. They kissed." She covered her eyes and laughed. The water around them lapped against the coral, sloshing and splashing.

"Opal! Get down! They spied us!" Pearl leaped off the rock and dove beneath the water. Opal opened her eyes wide, staring directly at the couple standing in the surf. The man was pointing right at her and yelling something. She squealed and plunged into the water, swimming away from the sandy beach.

Coming to the surface several hundred yards away, Opal and Pearl clung to each other giggling. "Oh! Papa will be furious with us!"

"He'll be furious with you! You're the oldest and it was your idea to sneak so close to the beach, Pearl!"

"Shh...not a word to him, okay? Please? If he finds out we swam to the cove, he'll never let me out of his sight."

Opal nodded and playfully splashed salt water at her sister. With a giggle, Pearl dove beneath the waves and Opal followed, laughing as she followed her sister's turquoise fishtail toward home.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way 
the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, 
no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
- Sarah Kay


Five-hundred words inspired by the picture above...and the quote a bit, too. My sis and I loved to play mermaids as kids. Sweet memories at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.