Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Summer I turned into A Mermaid. My experience of 13 plus weeks of Swimming.

         It's been a very warm summer
And I've been busy doing a lot randomly weird art stuffs.

Hiding away from my writing. Seriously.

It's a wonder I'm coming out of my hobbit hole. Sometimes the world is a very big and scary place, and us hobbits like to stay in our burrow, and eat cheese, and scribble, and draw, and keep away from people, because it is very peopley out there.  And though I like people very much, they do make me tired.


"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on--"Louis' Amour.

Wise words. But frightening words.

What happens if you turn on the faucet and nothing, but sand comes out.

What then?

What if it's a drought in your brain. What if all the words are dried up, and stuck to inside of my skull, like sticky rice that's been heated and cooked, and then dehydrated in the fridge.

It takes a bit of courage to turn on a faucet that has been shut off for a while.  Dehydrated rice, and other derbies are likely to come out. And that's not pretty.

So, this is what I'm doing right now, turning on the faucet, in hopes that something resembling coherent words will flow, not drip out of this dry, faucet before it evaporates in the summer heat.

My thoughts are in constant competition with the to do list in my head. My brain keeps on telling me that it's been so many moons since my last entry you've all quite forgotten about me. And that I should just keep putting it off.

            But as of now, I'm telling my brain to chill, and that I AM WRITING!




            It sounds kind of quiet out there in cyber land. Hmmm. Oh dear.

Then comes the foreboding question. What to write about, since I've neglected you for so long. That's a very scary thought, actually, it's probably why I keep on shutting off my writing faucet in the first place.

There are too many things that want to be written down all at once, so it clogs me writing any words. How can I just pick one thing to write about, when I want to write about a million things?

            It's a tough decision---So tough that if I do happen to finish writing this post, I'll feel very proud, because it will mean that I've freed up some 'constipated' words, and maybe the writing faucet will work more smoothly. 

            I need some writer's Ex-Lax to free up the clogg-age in my brain........Hmmmm what is writer's Ex-Lax?  Think, think.. Ah HAH! Maybe it's the Alphabet. That's all words are, really. That's every book summed up in a few letters. Okay, ah.... let me get it out of my system. 

            (You may skip this part)

.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.... .....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyzv.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyzv.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz.....abcdefjghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz

Ahhhhhh. There.  That feels a little better....I think.

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I think perhaps I can now write. I mean, look at the Alphabet, it's only 26 letters. Twenty-six! Anything I write has got to be more interesting that reading the alphabet over and over for an hour. So I guess I can venture forth, and hopefully not have a diarrhea of words now. That also is a little messy.

Oh dear. I sound kind of gross. But I can't help it. It's making me feel better, just being free with my thoughts, no matter how garbled.

Now, back on track, (hopefully)

Summer. It's been a hot one. And it's gone by FAST! Super, triple fast, in my opinion. Looking back over the past few months, I think I'm going to call this summer,

The Summer I was baptized in a thousand sunsets.

How does one be baptized by sunsets?

Well, I'll tell you. You swim out doors under the open sky, until the sun sets, and then you are bathed in silken purple robes, silvery Mercury sheets, Crimson reds, and vibrant oranges, rich deep yellows, and crystal clear blues, that darken, and glisten with contrast as the sun goes down.

My soul has been refreshed, renewed, and bathed in every color on the color wheel, and baptized by the descending sun, and moon-lit sky.    

Over the course of thirteen weeks, I've tried to make time to swim nearly every day, (Of course missed some days) with my sister, Bessie Skeem, to strengthen my injured arm, and help my mom with her sciatica hip pain. Sometimes it was a struggle to make time. Sometimes I'd end up swimming in the evenings just as the sun went down and the moon came up, and sometimes I'd end up swimming in the freezing cold, at six or seven in the morning

 My swimming obsession started out as a passing thought, that it might help me rehabilitate, and strengthen my flabby, stiff, painful arm, and help my mom who has been suffering from painful sciatica in her hips. My sister and I were worried my mom might need an operation, because she was getting so she could hardly walk. So we decided to motivate each other and try to swim every day.

            We have a local reservoir, that's really quite beautiful. That was our chosen place of swimming. But the water is cold, murky gray/green brown. And the bottom of the reservoir is muddy and squishy, and rather gross. You never know what you might step on. But we all thought that, despite its flaws, we liked the thought of swimming there, out under the sky, rather than swimming in a crowded  swimming pool that smells like chlorine.

            At first, I was terrified to swim. Honestly. I hadn't been swimming since my arm accident. I didn't know if I could swim, and if I would be able to swim out into the deep, far out to the buoys. Part of me didn't want to try. My mom was also afraid.  She has this dreaded fear of the water ever since she was young. She never learned to swim. And she protested the idea of swimming for so many reasons.

We couldn't get her to come with us, so my sister and I braved the water. And the first couple of times I just swam close to shore, and it gave me my arm a huge workout. It made my arm very sore. And because my arm was so sore, and popped and clunked, because of the scar tissue, I really didn't dare go out where I couldn't touch.

            I didn't have faith that I'd stay afloat.

            But gradually, after watching my sister swim far out away from me. I was determined to face my fears.  I got braver. I remember feeling very, very proud when I swam out to the buoys. It felt like a huge victory for me, because I had once thought I might never swim, like I had before. But I did!!! And once I was able to cross that barrier in my mind, I felt free. And I kept on swimming.

            After swimming and enjoying it so much. My sister and I were eventually able to smooth talk my mom into coming and trying out the water.  Luckily I read up on the health benefits of swimming in open, cold water, and this helped me to convince her.

            At first my mom's balance wasn't so good. We made sure to put a life jacket on her, so she'd feel safe. We slowly walked out into the water, and she held tightly onto my hand, like death-grip tight.

            I helped her walk. At first, she was very uncomfortable, and made faces. The water was cold, and it made her squeal.


            Then slowly, gradually as she grew accustomed to the water, and she began to smile, and relax, just a little. She loved how beautiful it was, and how the cold water took, took the pain out of her joints, and gave her more mobility.

Believe it or note, but my mom enjoyed that one trip to the water so much, that that one plunge into the cold water was all she needed to get motivated. Because after that, she wanted to go swimming nearly every day, since June.

Since then. We've been swimming nearly 13 weeks, we hardly missing a day. Rain, wind, cold or shine, early morning, late at evenings, sun set, sun rise. We've seen that reservoir in every weather condition, except snow. We've swam under a full moon reflected on the glistening surface of the water, and pink, and orange dream bar clouds above us, and reflected in the water around us.

     In the peak heat of the summer, when the water was starting to get warm, we decided to try out the water very early in the morning, to see if the water would be cooler.

   We went just as the sun was rising. Not a soul was around. The beach was deserted. Calm. Clear, as glass, like a mirror. The water was very cold. But it was refreshing. Once I took the initial plunge, my body got used to it.

            The cool water against my chin felt comforting. Being at eye level with the water, was like swimming in a mirror, and the only ripples that I could see were the ripples I made as I swam. That morning, my sister and I swam well out past the buoys because there were no boats around. It felt wonderful to swim past the boundaries, and explore other parts of the lake that we had not dared to swim in when there boats around.  I felt like Columbus, discovering a new land, except, in this case, I was discovering new water for myself. 

            That was one of the first morning swims of many.

            One morning, around six or seven. I remember waking up, with my mom standing above my bed. Fully garbed in her swim suit.

   "Ready to go swimming?" She asked.

            I moaned, and rolled over in bed, and then, she said, half joking, half serious. "Hmm. Maybe you should sleep in your swim suit."



            That is my happy thought. Because that's something I didn't think I'd ever hear from my mom.

We've been swimming in frigid storms. When no other soul dared touch their toes to the water because it's so cold.  We've swam when the wind was terrible, when the waves rolled over us, and punched us in the face, slapped our ears, and forced its way into our mouth nose, and lungs. We've swam when the rain pelted our eyes, and all we could do was put one arm in front of the other and swim, and keep our head above the water.

    We've been swimming so late in the day, that we've watched the moon rise over the mountains, and reflect on the water.

            We've swam when the water level was so low you could walk out to the buoys and back. When yucky pussy looking moss that looks like it's growing warts and teeth are floating over the water.  

            I've swam so much, that I feel like I own the reservoir. Because I know it. I know that there's a a res cat, that lives off of the junk food discarded by picnickers. I know where it's shallow, and deep. I know where the fish like to jump. I know that for the most part, adults do not swim. Only children.

            Adults just watch. Adults are afraid of the cold. And of being seen in their swim suit. I've seen a lot of teenagers, too, just sit on a bench with side by side, with cell phone in hand, staring at a screen.

            Children still have fun. They swim.

And the grown ups get more grown up by the second, when they could be swimming, and growing younger.


    I've swam as a white pelican watched me watch it as it floated on by. I've learned that the reservoir is not as nearly as popular as I once thought. I've also learned that it is mostly only occupied on the weekends, or holidays.   I've nearly been run over by a  large sail boat, with beautiful orange sails, that had caught the wind, and came barreling at me past the buoys at a frightening speed.

    It was funny, just the other day, I went swimming, and a big boat came by, and swamped me with waves. A little girl pointed at me from the boat, and said. "Look, mamma, that person is drowned."

I looked drowned? Seriously? I thought that was very funny. It made me chuckle to myself for the rest of the evening. I may have looked like my head was just above the water, but I was very far from being drowned.

 Once, while on the beach, I watched a large party of people push a homemade boat-thingy into the water, (it looked quite interesting) it had these cylinders on the bottom, that went in circles to power it. But sadly it just floundered in the water, and took 15 minutes to just do a half circle. I felt bad for the guy who built it. I couldn't help but identify with the feeling of embarrassment he must have felt after putting so much work into his project, and only to have it flounder in the water, while all his family stood around, with phones, and cameras raised, to record his inventions epic fail.

I've found many treasures at the bottom of the reservoir. I've someone's sunglasses. A dog toy. Several pop cans. Large chunks of cement. A lacy shirt. And several other things, that slipped from my hands before I could pull them out of the water. I've saved several tubes and rafts that the wind grabbed and zipped across the water, and returned them to their owner. 

            The one object that really disturbed me that we found was one my sister stubbed her toe on by the dock. It was when the water was very low. My sister started shouting out me that she thought she stubbed her toe on a car.

            A car? I thought. How? What?

I went over to where she had injured her toe, and she had me step on top of the object in question.

   It did feel weird. It had several long round pip-things that protruded up, like the exhaust pipe on the end of a tractor. The whole object felt like big hunk of cement, that was, in my opinion very dangerous to swimmers. Especially if someone fell onto it.

            Upon further inspection, my sister felt a long cable running from the object, that ran clear over to the dock.

We concluded that it must be the dock's anchor.

            I think that the water level got so low, that we found it. I'm hoping that now that the water level is higher, that it won't be any danger to anybody. But I'm still wondering, who to ask about this odd dangerous object. 

            We swim nearly two hours every time we go. At first I got very tired, my hips, my knees, my arms, my ankles---EVERYTHING hurt!


            Gradually I built up muscles, and got more flexible.  But, honestly, I still get sore, so after 13 weeks and still being sore, it's just something that I live with, because I enjoy the benefits than I'm afraid of the pain.

             I have learned never to eat banana shake while swimming, because it gives you acid baby burps.

            If I do eat before I swim, its something very easily digested. The water is so cold sometimes, I get really hungry when I get out of the water. And really sleepy. Which is good when we swim at the end of the day, because it relaxes my mind, and body, and puts me in a nice Zen sort of state. Swimming helps me not to think, but to be.

And that in itself puts me in a poet sort of state.


            My mom is gradually reducing her fear of the water. Her balance is much better. She doesn't feel as self conscious in her swim suit, like she first did. She's braver. She doesn't need me to hold her hand anymore, while water walking. She uses her life-jacket, and is able to go out farther by herself. I have high hopes of teaching her some basic swimming skills, when she's ready.

            Her hips still give her pain. But I believe that with time, and perseverance, her hips will heal. She has grown to love the water. It helps her not feel depressed, and to feel more happy. She's able to stand more straight than she used to. She's building muscle, and courage. The water is the only place that takes gravity off her hips, enough so she can exercise, and the cold water takes away the pain.

            She constantly amazes me. Some days, when I'm not feeling like swimming, she'll ask, "So are we going swimming?

     Days when I just don't want to dive into the water, she wakes in before me or my sister, and splashes in.


            At the beginning, when I was trying to get my mom to get excited about swimming, I told her. Maybe all you need is to bathe in the river, like in the scripture story. Maybe it's that simple.


            Maybe it is.

            All I know is, now my mom has faith that is helping her.

            As for myself. Even if it didn't have any physical benefits, I'd still swim. It makes my soul very happy, and gives me a huge endorphin high, especially after swimming in really cold water. 

            I have more endurance, and strength. It didn't happen in a day, or weeks. But months. Now I'm able to swam from the one end of the reservoir to the other several times. The other day, I was proud to say that I did six laps across from one end to of the reservoir the other. 

            Did I get sore? Yes. But it was worth it. I'm a happier person for swimming. My sister and I have concluded that we'd rather make time in our busy day to swim, because it makes our days more worth living. 

            My arm is stronger because I swim. Yes, it still pains me. But I'm getting stronger. It's the one exercise I can do that makes me feel like I am strengthening my arm, and body, with light resistance.


      I have been baptized by a thousand sunsets. Washed by the light of the moon. Bathed in sunlight, and moonbeams, rainbows, and strengthened by waves, and stormy water.

            I feel reborn in
the womb of the water. I feel stronger mentally, and physically.

  I think Aerial had it wrong.

            Who wouldn't want to be a mermaid?

            Water is one place you can fly, and be weightless.

            I may never walk on the moon, but I have swam with it, weightless, and immortal for a moment.

            I may never walk on water.

            But I have stepped out into it.

            And swam through the storms, and waves.

            Who knows?

            That initial cold, bone chilling splash that you dread, may be the one thing that will take your pain away, and strengthen your arms.

  Waves. Cold. Water. Fear of the unknown. The sharks, the derbies at the bottom. Feeling venerable. Wearing a swim suit.

 These are the things that hold us back. 
 The unknown scary things.
The squishy mud.

The germs.

What if I can't float? 

What if I can't swim?

What If I sink?

            What if I drown?

            What if?

            What if you were brave?

            What if you decided to go beyond just sticking your toes in the water, and take the plunge, despite everything inside of you that says that it's too cold, that it wont work.

What if you had faith?

            What if you actually enjoyed it? What if you discovered that walking into your fears, stepping out of the boat, into the 'water' whatever your water is may, is the first and best thing you can do to strengthen not only your body, but your spirit.

Once the shock of the cold wears off, I promise you, you will begin to see the beauty your fears have been keeping you from.

            The oceans. The Lakes. The pools. The reservoirs. The rivers.

It will unfold like rippling water, reflecting the sky, and you will be amazed at the beautiful thing you see, once you stepped away from the shore, and looked out beyond the horizon.
The moment you take the plunge, will be free, and made strong.  It will be the season you will be baptized by the open sky, and renewed by things that cannot be bought, or earned.

   But experienced. 
Note all photo credits in this particular blog post were taken by my mom, Jeanette Skeem of the reservoir. 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Messages in Bottles and feather art


It's been a couple weeks since I posted last. Since then, I've been busy helping my mom with her etsy shop, getting it going, and working on my own shop.  I've changed it's name to Flutterbye feathers, because I'm doing a lot of art on feathers and selling them. 

The funny thing was, I started out painting on feathers one year for Christmas when I had zero money to spend on gifts. I also had no way of going shopping because I was deathly sick with pneumonia and felt like I might cough myself to death. So, still wanting to keep with the Christmas spirit, I painted while I coughed, even though it was painstaking work, because I had to paint so small. 

I painted a feather for each family member, and tried to personalize it to their interests. I didn't know these feather gifts would be appreciated. But to my surprise, they liked them so much they kept on telling me I needed to make some more and sell them. 

So hence, a few years later, now I decided to go ahead, and paint some more.  

Here's a sample of a few that I've done in the past few weeks. The feather's aren't particularly large, so I have to paint with a very small eyeliner brush.

These are just a few of the feather's I've done, and am planning on doing. You can see more as I upload them onto my etsy shop via this link. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Flutterbyefeathers?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Also I wanted to share some of the amazing pencil work of my mom. Jeanette Skeem. I'm helping her become etsy savvy. For years she's been toiling away working on raising us kids. (nine of us) and her art has taken the back burner. Now I want to give back to her, and help her promote her art. But for some reason, she's worried that her art wont sell. Please prove her wrong, and check out her amazing colored pencil cards and buy one. It will seriously make her day and mine.  Here's the link to her shop.

Below are some samples of her beautiful work.  She has tons more, hundreds, all beautiful, some more even amazing than these. But It will take a while for her/and me to get them listed. So check back soon on her etsy shop to see more.

country silhouette at sunset colored pencil card printDesert Donkey and barbwire fence colored pencil card printshadows and light inside old barn/ colored pencil card printAt Porter Rockwell Ranch, Utah, colored pencil card printrolling hills of Utah colored pencil card print 

Anywho. This is a bit of a show and tell blog post for me. I promise I'll write a much more interesting post next time. I have been composing several blog posts in my head over the weeks. I hope that I remember some of the topics I've been wanting to blog about. 

Before I go, I have one more thing I want to ask you because I'm really needing your help.  Seriously. 

My book, The Unsame Ones has zero reviews. I feel this close to begging you. (Which I already am) If you've already read my book, I would really, really appreciate your honest review on amazon, smashwords and wherever you'd like to post it. It doesn't have to be a long review, just a line even.  If, however, you haven't read it, I've listed it for free on amazon so you can now read it for free, and *happiness* leave  a review. Here's the link to get it free on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Unsame-Ones-Stephanie-Skeem-ebook/dp/B01C249IRM?ie=UTF8&keywords=the%20unsame%20ones&qid=1463093972&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2&sr=8-1

I also have obtained my codes from audible and can now gift free review copies of my audio book to any who would be willing to review it on audible. 
If you're interested in doing a audio book review, email me at junesbugs@hotmail (dot) com
And I will send you a free gift code. 

Note that if you have a teen or young adult who may be interested in reviewing a copy, I'd be more than happy to let them review the audio book as well.  

You could also do me a huge favor and share this link on your Facebook page. The more free downloads my book gets the more views it gets, and the more views it gets, the more free downloads, and somehow, just knowing that maybe someone out there is reading my writing it makes me feel like I've sent out at least a few messages in bottles that someone's read, and somehow knowing that gives me courage to keep on sending out messages in bottles.  Because that's what my writing is like to me, as Neil Gaiman so eloquently put it. 
Here is the my little message in a bottle that I'd be more than happy if you helped me share it.

For those of you who haven't read my book, and want to know what it's about. 
Here's a synopsis.

MAGINE A world where Everyone was exactly the Same, including YOU, BECAUSE Same was Safe. 

The Unsame Ones, is a riveting story of an ordinary January whose Same life takes an extraordinary turn, when something different throws her off of her Same track, and propels her into the forbidden realm of Unsame. Where once her life revolved only around the clock, and listening to only its sound, she starts to hear something different, something real, and powerful that ignites a fierce desire to overcome the pull of Same, to know the truth, and to discover the vibrant power of music, even at the deadly cost of being infected with the Unsame virus, and losing her place in the world of SAME FOREVER. The Unsame Ones is a Young Adult dystopian story that will appeal 7th to 12th graders, music enthusiast, kids, and individuals who have trouble fitting into the "in" crowd.

Back Cover Blurb

I was born in January.
So I am January, and everything that it entails. I bear the same name as a million other Januaries just like me, the same look, the same genetic makeup, the same job, the same face, the same goals, and the same dreams.

I am and will be a secretary for the rest of my life. I am good at what I do, I was made for my job, and my job was made for me.
I am Same.
I have lived the Same as every other January like me for seventeen years.
And a year from now, on the first of January, I will die from the same genetic defect every January has died from. No January has ever lived past eighteen.
No January has ever wanted to.
Until now.
I believe I have been infected with the Unsame Virus. My head aches, throbs, and pounds
without ever stopping. Before now, I never felt pain. I know I must turn myself in. That is the only logical thing to do.
It all started with the hideous Unsame One who crossed my path, and thrust a strange object into my hands. It is he who is to blame, and it is I who must fight this. I cannot shut out my master, keeper, and overseer, Time---nor disobey the clock. I will forever march to its dictates, and remain true.
I am a Same One.
I was born Same.
I have lived Same.
And I will die Same.
I am January.
I am Same.

Friday, April 22, 2016

When life has you in 'Check' and your head's stuck in a bucket

Note that this is my belated Easter post I wrote at the beginning of April.

 It rained a few nights ago, and the earth is still wet, moist, dark, and ready to unearth the miracles of spring, ready to reveal the hidden seeds deep inside of it.


It is a word often used to evoke the meaning of new birth.

A new time. A new age. Something alive, and awake.


            Hence the reason for this blog post. I just felt like it was time to grow some new words---Sprouts, ideas I want to convey.

            Over the Easter weekend, I contracted the flu, something I'm sure I contracted from my sister who also got the flu.

            The beginning signs of said flu were as follows. I started sneezing. Then towards the evening, my nose swelled up, and water came pouring fourth out of my nose.

            Then came the drippy, drippy miserable, sinus pressure. You know what I mean. Headache, sore throat, watery drippy eyes, aching ears. At such times I really do wish I had something to knock me out---something to "Rip Van Winkle" me away until I felt better, and then I could resume life when the worst had passed.

            But there's no such luck in this mortal life.

            Suffer we must.

            I'd say that it stinks, but when you can't smell to good, it mostly feels like your head is going to explode.

            I used my sick time to lay in bed, and hot pack my face with a water bottle, which helped a great deal, and also Cumin tea, along with salt water rinses for my nose.

            I also made sure to sequester myself to my room, with the window drawn, so as not to infect my brother, and his kids who came down over the weekend. So I lived in a cave of sorts, feeling rather sorry for myself.

            It did not feel like spring.

            Not at all.

            It felt like the season of limo blah.

            I used this time to re-discover the amazing qualities of my modern day gadgets, such as my ipod and tablet. Now there's a world of wonders for you. Seriously.

Who knew you could connect yourself to the entire universe at a click of a button. Just a app download away from games, books, ideas, and more information than any one mind can contain.

            I found solace in playing chess with the computer. Actually, solace is NOT the right word. Torment is more like it!

            I would like to know who----what clever soul has beaten the computer at chess, without clicking undo a million times?

            Maybe you have because you are especially clever. In that case, you should go play chess with my sister who is equally clever.

            I made sure to click the "Play a casual" game. But no. The computer does not play causal. Not so. It does not make emotional moves, if one of its pawns is in danger, it makes correct, logical, calculated, planned moves. At every turn, it seemed this computer knew my next move. It was aggressive, and seemed to laugh in my face, and insult my brain's computing powers.


            I didn't think I could get so worked up over such a game.

            Thank heaven's for the undo button.

            It's cheating, I know.

            But it at least gave me some hope of winning.

            Even if my win wasn't a real win.

            Somehow Undo made me feel a little better---or worse. I'm not sure which.


             A game where you must see ten-hundred steps into the future, must see how one move can effect the entire board. A game where you must look for all the possible outcomes of your choices.

            But sometimes no matter how hard you look, sometimes you can't see the traps your opponent has planned for you. Sometimes it's all you can do to keep on playing, even when you feel like you've already lost the game.

            Summer, winter, autumn, Spring.

            I can breath now.

            Lots better.

            Seasons change.

            Life goes on.

            And so the game of chess continues, no matter the season, or age. We move our little pawns, in hopes of reaching the other side, and trading ourselves in for better versions of ourselves.

            We want to keep the King safe. We want to win.

            The Bishops have a lot of power.

            So do the knights, and the castles.

            But the queen. She's the one who can move in every direction.

            And when we feel like we can't move in the directions we need to go, we don't feel like it's spring. We feel trapped.

            We feel like we've lost.

            We feel stuck.

            Cornered, in Check.

            Lost to the powers that be.

            Frustrated by our lack of foresight, of planning of , the things we couldn't possibly foresee.




It's weird. But we keep on playing the game. Because, that's what we do.

            We may want to give up.

            We may even want to undo something we've done.

            But in life, the only undo button we have is Christ.

            He is our inheritance, our future. He abolishes our past mistakes, and makes our winter into spring. He is the manna in our desert.

            It's something I sometimes forget.

Right after being sick, I felt especially in the pity pot. Which is way too easy for me to do, especially when I get over tired, and weighed down, and things don't go the I want them to, when I do everything in my power for something to go a certain way, and still things don't work out.

            That's how I felt just a few days ago.

            I felt angry, and frustrated, and downright sad. I mean, when you work hard on something, really, really hard, and things just don't go the way you wanted them to, when things don't take off like you had envisioned.

            That's when I just want to scream at the wall and say,  "I quit! I don't want to play anymore!"

            When life doesn't give you the rewards you thought you earned.

            When you plant seeds, you water them, you guard them, you sing to them, you let the sun shine on them, you work the ground----yet the seeds just sit there.

            And you shake your head, waiting for your seeds to produce fruit, a flower, anything---something tangible that you can see, touch, smell, and get a harvest from. Then there are the times, when you work hard hoeing your garden, putting in all the work, and your seeds produce beautiful fruit, and someone else takes the credit.

            Someone else gets awards for the fruit, for the seeds that came up in your garden.


That really hurts. What kind of unfair game is this we wonder?


            Where is it?

            I thought....

            When the clouds rain down snow, and frost, you look up at the sky and wonder, what kind of trick is being played on you.

            What season is this?

            Is there really a spring?

            Do I make a difference?

            Do I matter?

            Is the work I do worth it?

            Is it?

            Will anything I do produce fruit?

            Will the seeds I plant ever flower?

            Those are the questions that haunt us in such times.

            Our want of reaching the other side of the board crowds out our love of the game, the joy of the journey, and the growth we ourselves gain from not always winning. As we play through or losses and wins we learning how to be a better player, regardless of the outcome.   

            That is something I was reminded of the other day, while watching a Joyce Meyer talk. She said something along the lines that, God cares more about our growth, than us getting everything we want.

            Bomb shell.  God cares more about my growth, not just me getting what I want when I think I deserve it.

            He wants me to grow. And growth is the foundation of real true happiness? To grow and be better than I was before?

            I found this in my readings the other day. It was something I really needed to hear.

"Anything we have to have besides God to keep going is something the devil can use against us."---Joyce Meyer.


            It really struck a chord with me. Because I realized that what I wanted was getting in the way of me having faith, of me continuing onward. When you don't get your desired results after putting in the work, it tries your motives, purifies and tests your soil, to see if you will even bother planting again.

            When starting out, it's easy to say, "I'm doing this because I love to plant. Planting is so much fun. I'd do this all day, even if nothing comes up."

            Oh, I swear, anytime you say those words, the devil's like, "Okay, let's just see about that."

            It's easy to eat strawberries, and gather in lushes ripe fruit.

What's not easy is watching your neighbors eat red, ripe, strawberries, while you, eat dust, and cut your hands on salt grass working your own soil. Sometimes our wants (especially if they are not always fulfilled when we want them to be) can be huge stumbling blocks. 

            Sometimes our wants can be so demanding, so loud, that they drown out the voice of truth, and blind us from seeing the things we have been blessed with, with the seeds that do grow, with the space you have been blessed with, and the peace of your own, simple garden.

   Sometimes our desire to be married by a certain age can make us marry wrong person. We can want things, and want them bad, so badly that it diminishes our spring into cold cobwebs, and icy frost. The picture above is of my goat who wanted the grain inside the bucket so much that she stuck her head through the broken bucket lid, without waiting for me to give it to her when I thought she should have it. The result was that she was miserable, and she was very stuck. The other goats around her began bunting her, and she ended up wandering around the barnyard confused, and frightened, stumbling around moving in such erratic movements that it was very difficult for me to get her to settle down to get the bucket off her head.
      When I finally did manage to get hold of the bucket. I lifted it up and tried to pull it off her head, but that slight motion caused a few bits of uneaten grain inside the bucket to drift into her line of sight, and instead of her wanting to get her head unstuck, she dipped back down, and began frantically eating the teeny bits of grain she wanted so badly. 
         It wasn't until all the grain was gone, that she began to want out again, and I was able to get her the help she needed. 

        Sometimes we remain stuck because the 'teeny, weeny bits of grain' the things we have to have, the things we want no matter what, keep our heads stuck, and we stumble around looking doofy, and miserable. 
       All the while, the whole problem could have been avoided had we waited patiently for the right time. 
And no, I don't mean, you shouldn't go after what you want. I do believe you should be diligent in perusing your goals. But I also believe that sometimes the things we want, like the grain bucket, can be a trap, if we do not wait for the "Master" to give it to us in do time.
       Otherwise the things we want, the things we have to have, can become our greatest stumbling block.

  We want to be admired, or respected, or known, or seen for the good things we do, and in effort to make it so, we may prematurely lose ourselves in the bargain, sell out too quickly, lose our authentic voice in order to make our wants happen on our timetable, not Gods.

            God wants us to grow, and sometimes that means that not all the things we do will grow in the timetable that we want them to, because he wants us to be gardeners that can garden in rough weather, through storm, spring, autumn, fall, no matter the season. And sometimes that means a small harvest, bugs, pests, wind, and rain, drought, floods, and tempests. But we hate stuff like that. I hate it. I want to foresee into the future. I want to know how fast I can win, how many moves until I get to the other side of the board. I want to have the control. I want to watch my seeds come out of the ground, and make sure that they grow like they should.

            I want to look at the calendar, and know exactly when everything will turn out in the end. 

            I don't want any of this unforeseen potato bugs, or tomato worms clogging up my life.

            When we play the game of 'life---of chess,' "We don't want to be in "Check."


            Double No!

            Triple and quadruple NO!!

            But God, says, "Yes." Because he wants a harvest too. Sometimes being put in "Check" is the only way God can get our attention, and make us turn from our desire to protect our castles, and kingdoms, to turn our attention the true King of Kings.

            Better than just us reaching in the other side, or outsmarting our opponent, he wants us to find joy in the game---to master ourselves. I believe that he wants us to play like we know every part ourselves, the board, the pieces, the soul, the soil, the seeds, the dirt, so that we will have won, even before we started.

            We will have mastered the game, because we have mastered ourselves. 

Spring will be inside us, no matter the season. We will be full, because he has filled us. So that when we are faced with the line of buckets full of opportunities---things we want, that we won't just stick our head recklessly into any ole' bucket because it looks like there's something really good inside it. We will be able to carefully, and intentionally choose the 'buckets' in our own life, and what not to
stick our heads into, because our own bucket will be so full, that we can take and give of ourselves, freely, like he gives to us. We will be able to partake of the good things in life, not barreling into all the grain buckets just because we can, and want to, because we are so starved, and think that one bucket we see in front of us is the only bucket of good we will ever get. 

        We will wait patiently, fill our own bucket from the source, in his timetable, so that our wants will not entrap us, or make us lose sight of what is truly important.
           Buckets come in all shapes and sizes, some with lids on, some with lids broken and sharp so that when you stick your head in, your head becomes trapped inside. There are some buckets with holes in, some that are cracked, and can't hold anything. Some buckets made out of strong metal, others out of brittle plastic, some buckets that are large, and can fit an entire person inside, some buckets that are un-labled, others with good things inside, and some with poison.

Whatever bucket you are faced with in the game of life, be it full or empty, remember to think twice about what you're sticking your head into, because the most formidable opponent we will ever face in this game of life. Is. Ourselves. Period.


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