Monday, April 29, 2013

Of mustache cups and memories

Today I spent several hours hanging out with and helping my 91-year old great-grandmother.
She lives by herself, in a two-story house.
She is surrounded by things she loves.
But she gets lonely.

So we went out for lunch and argued over who was going to buy the Hershy's bar for dessert (I won). Then I helped her take down, wash, and put back at least fifty pieces of her huge knick-knack collection.
She didn't want to do it by herself, she doesn't like climbing up on the ladder anymore. I'm so glad she asked me to help. Otherwise, I would have been worried sick about her falling.

I'm also glad because we got to spend time together, just the two of us.
She told me stories.
 Stories about her past, tales and details about the pitchers, plates, teacups, and various other items we cleaned.

I learned what "flow blue," Russian-cut glass, and German pickle jars look like.

I heard the story of her grandfather's favorite brother, who died when he was 17, and held the mottled blue and brown pitcher that he had given his mother. Heard the story of when her grandfather snuck said brother's beloved horse into the house to visit him when he was sick with diphtheria. 
I learned about her great-grandfather, who came from Holland, bringing with him a gorgeous white pitcher with blue windmills. It's cracked, fragile. 

Today I heard a lot of stories.
Today I heard so many facts about pottery, china, stoneware, and glass that I began to wonder if my grandma is the Sherlock Holmes of collectible dishes, knowing every random little piece of trivia and fact about them that can be known. Which led me to telling her about BBC's Sherlock, and her telling me she doesn't like the TV show, "Elementary," which is apparently a Sherlock-ish show.

Today I once more realized just how much I love my tiny, precious, spunky great-grandmother. How much I'm going to miss doing things like this with her.

If you have these kinds of opportunities with your grandparents, well, with anyone you love, don't waste them.
Please.
They are so special. Even if all you do is go to Arby's, clean antiques, and ramble through a hundred year's worth of subjects munching on Hershy's. 




Thursday, April 11, 2013

Storm Heroes

It's 10:44pm. I'm feeling the need to write, but it's getting too late to work on my novel or a short story, because work comes early tomorrow.  

The weather here in Indiana is finally feeling like spring. This evening, we had our first proper rainstorm of the year.
Pounding, pounding against the glass, the rain came. A few flashes of lightning, off somewhere I couldn't see, but the thunder pealed across the miles.
It sounded beautiful. The pounding of the rain against our house and fields, the grumbling rushes of air coming to fill in the burnt holes in the sky.

I love thunderstorms. I love listening to them, watching them, and looking outdoors after it's all over.
After the storm is over, everything seems so clean, new, and bright.
Yes, the wind can knock things over, and the rain leaves puddles and mud. And yes, I complain about the mud. I'm a farmgirl, and mud, well, it gets in the way.
Yet the wind brushes through the leaves and grasses, like a comb. The rain feeds every growing thing, washes the dust off of buildings, plants, trees...settles the dust back down to the ground, where it belongs.

Storms keep the world, at least the land-locked portions, from drought. We had a drought last summer, and good grief, it caused a lot of problems.
 Without the rain, without the storms, everything collapses. Just think of the Dust Bowl. Of past droughts ten times worse than the one that swept a lot of the nation last year.

Where there is no rain, nothing grows.

Where there is no wind to fight against, trees fall.

Where there is no rain, no messy, mud-creating rain, no wind to fight against, no wind tearing at the world...living things die.

Storms in life threaten to drown us, turn our life into a giant muddy mess, the chaos doesn't sound like thunder, lightening strikes all around, and the winds of change, pain, suffering, they batter.

Sometimes the rain is a gentle sprinkle, the stress is manageable. Other times it's a downpour and we wonder if it will ever end. Slogging through the mud against the wind and against the rain is just too hard.

But just like the earth needs an occasional flooding, and the trees need a struggle, we humans need it too. Think of your heroes. No, not celebrities or band members.

Heroes.

Think Amy Carmichael. Theodore Roosevelt. Gladys Alward. General "Stonewall" Jackson. Florence Nightengale.

People who poured blood, sweat, tears, and years upon years of walking against the wind, into their lives and the lives of those around them.

Where there are no storms, no struggles, no victories against those struggles...there are...

...no heroes. 
 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Happily sad, sadly happy.

First, a quick update...
I'm alive.
Yep.
Just been incredibly busy and not motivated to write.
I've changed a lot since I created this website, so Sword of Ink may very well morph right along with me. I don't know quite what that will entail, but I would imagine it will focus less on articles about specific aspects of writing. But in any event, I'm hoping to be writing more consistently.

---

A lot has happened over the past year.
I've lost my two best friends, had my heart drug out and stomped upon, by a person I thought I knew, who I apparently didn't know at all.
I've been through a whirlwind relationship that didn't end like I had hoped it would. It broke my already-sore heart.
God, with His amazing timing, brought three wonderful, precious friends into my life that I wouldn't trade for the world.
He's given me a new best friend I'd trust with anything, and strengthened a friendship with a girl I swear could be my twin.
I've befriended sweet, funny couple old enough to be my parents, that are quietly spreading Christ's love and peace through their corner of the world via the mediums of coffee, smalltalk, and music.
My novel, Hosanna House, took second place in a novel contest. My baby. My story born out of anger and sadness. It's a rough little diamond, one I'm working on polishing. I'm so afraid I'll damage it.
I've watched friends go through some incredibly difficult times, walked with them the best I could. Watched them experience amazing highs and horrible lows, just like me. Watched others seem to glide through life as if it were a smooth stream, wondering if what I'm seeing is real or if they're just really good at wearing a mask.
I've fought, and am fighting, against truth that hurts, depression that clouds, stress that tears, and physical manifestations of stress that wears.
Now, I'm getting ready to move out-of-state. Away from my home of the past twelve years. I feel like Frodo, ready to go on an adventure, yet...slightly apprehensive, all the same.

It's been one heck of a ride. One that's convinced me several times I really just don't like this world at all. Then something happens that makes me realize, hey, it's not so bad after all.

I've learned that even the hurt is important. Even though life sometimes takes you to hell and back, even though you fight until you feel like you're going to drop, bleed out, that you want to die or just quit fighting and let the overwhelmingness of your problems kill you, that pain is important. 

The legalism that dodges your every step, the "friends" that backstab, the family that leaves, the relationships that crumble. The depression that sucks the light away, the priorities you just can't get straight, the anxiety and stress that wears you down until you feel like a burnt-out match lit on both ends...it is important.

I am a stronger person than I was at this time a year ago. Hopefully a better one. Right now I'm worn out, but I know that deep down, I'm stronger.

My friends, too, are stronger. Even if they can't quite see it yet. Yes, you are. I'm thinking of several of you by name. You wouldn't believe me, because you feel cracked and broken. But I've known you for a while and you've grown so much. You're a beautiful person, even with because of those cracks and scars, and I love you.

Happiness, joy, peace, contentment, ecstasy, fulfillment, strength, courage, love... all these ideal emotions we strive for.
But what are they if we don't know the opposite side? How can we really know the depths of the positive emotions if we've never experienced pain, cowardice, sadness, apathy, restlessness?
I really don't think we can.
Life can really suck. I know that. I've been there. Some days, I'm still there. But the awful side of life? It's deepened my appreciation for the good side. It's forced me to be more courageous, to realize some hard truths, to do what I know is right even when it hurts so much it kills me inside, to see just how amazingly wonderful a true friend is.

The sunshine is more glorious after walking through a starless night, the spring after starving through the winter.

Above all shadows rides the Sun,
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done, 
nor bid the Stars farewell. 

- Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings