Friday, 30 September 2016

the first day of fall

"What I mean by the first day of fall is that day when you suddenly understand with your whole body that the season has changed.  When the air feels snappier against your skin and the sky's blueness turns wistful, and the humming of insects shifts pitch, and you just know like you know your own name that summer is over."(Marisa de los Santos in Belong To Me) 

how is it possible
that the first day of fall
has come and gone?

I find myself
clinging to the hope
that fall will linger 

that sunlight
will still find leaves on trees
to bath in 
glistening gold

i catch myself
calling "noooooo"
to the wind
as I watch leaves whirling 
lifting into the air
and away

leaving trees
a little 
every day.

words and images (unless otherwise cited) © copyright Melody Armstrong 2016

Monday, 12 September 2016

things i love about fall

i love...

1. a mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & crabapples bubbling on the stove. 2.long walks in the nearby woods 3.picking crabapples 4. kicking piles of leaves into the air and watching sunlight catch them on the way down 5.lingering rays of sun on the front porch 6.being enraptured by fall's beauty through the lens  

7. long walks with people i love 8.  making jelly and apple butter 9. soft worn-out blue jeans and brown boots, fresh air infusing our bedroom while we sleep  
11. out-door parties around the fire pit and homemade pizzas bubbling in the pizza oven 

12.ginger squash soup simmering 13.volleyball start-up  14. back-to-school pics on the front step 15. snuggling up to my husband under our feather duvet 16. savouring that "new beginning" feeling 17. watching kids with basketballs, volleyballs & skateboards on the driveway  18. sunflowers smiling against blue sky backdrop

 19. cool,damp mornings hugging and praying and waving at the doors 20. low golden sunlight streaming 21. geese splashing wildly in the river as they take off into flight 22. crunchy leaves under my feet 23. favourite wool hats  24. saving seed pods for next spring 25. cozying up in front of the fireplace

that's what about you?

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2016

life between the highlights

Stubbed toes.  Rusty ladders.  Slimy steps.  Chipped nail polish.  

There is so much living that happens between the highlights. We all know it's true, yet we sometimes believe that ours is the only life that is ordinary, mundane, uneventful or filled with heartache.  We are dazzled by the vast number of "likes" on our friend's Facebook pages or Instagram accounts.  We believe they are proof that everyone else in our circle is experiencing life more fully, taking more exotic vacations, accomplishing more items on their bucket list, eating healthier, raising all-star children, achieving their purpose-driven the dream.

But what about all those in-between moments where some of the really important stuff happens --the ones we would never post for the world to see? Where disappointments stretch our character? Where misunderstandings give us opportunity to  forgive? Where we learn about humility through illness or injury? Where we struggle and strive and learn to dig deeper? Where our dependance on God grows moment by moment?

I want to share with you some of my in-between moments as a sort of sequel to the post before this one entitled Summer Sweetness and Seasons of the Soul [link here and one from last summer called Summer Gifts and Dreamy Spaces (link here).

I wrote my "Summer Sweetness" post over the course of a day and a half alone at the lake. Normally I just love the idea of a couple days alone in such a beautiful place with time to myself to do whatever I want: think, swim, walk, write, day-dream (and clean with no-one messing it up behind me.)  But what you won't know from reading my post is that I actually felt so lonely this time when my family was leaving.  I cried when they pulled away.   I just felt strange and weird and out of sorts -- with tears that seemed way too close to the surface.   I'd had a misunderstanding with my daughter that we hadn't really resolved well; I was feeling disconnected from my husband - sensing that his thoughts had shifted out of holiday mode and back onto work and real life; I'd felt disappointed earlier that morning that I was the only one who wanted to go for my "birthday"waterski  - when the lake was so glassy and it was our last opportunity before we took the boat out for the summer.

So that was how my "alone" time began -- kind of gross, but I knew it was just temporary weirdness.  It didn't take long before I settled into the peaceful solitude of my surroundings and sat down to write.

Then there was the rat. Yes, you heard right.  RAT!!  I won't go into all the gory details, but suffice it to say that later that night after I'd gone to bed with my bedroom doors open to the top floor deck, I'd heard a nighttime visitor scurrying just a few feet away.  Though I jumped up and flipped the light on, I didn't see anything.  But sure enough the next morning, (which also happened to be my birthday) I discovered evidence left by the critter that assured me it was bigger than a mouse.  YUCK!  It had also left evidence all over the main deck as well.

I am an Alberta girl who knows nothing about rats, but I do know about mice.  This was not a mouse.  So, I had a problem to solve.  As a result, I spent the morning of my birthday researching and looking at disgusting pictures to find out if I was actually dealing with a rat.  Then after lunch I drove into town to buy the only three rat traps I could find.  Which, by the way, are huge.  Again....yuck!!

To make a long story short, and to save you all the suspense that must be killing you, I set the traps with peanut butter, one on each level of the house, and by the next morning, I'd caught myself a pack- rat the size of my foot with a long hairy tail.

Life between the highlights.  Not glamorous.   Often not so humorous.

I guess one of the main reasons I write in this blog is simply to celebrate the grace that lines each of our moments - the highlights, lowlights and every bit of living in between.  It is a very precious gift to be able to see God at work in our lives, no matter how things appear.  This is what I ask for daily.  My earnest desire is ALWAYS to see and recognize God's grace and then to share that grace and hope with others.  This is what I love to do. Yet, you may be surprised to know that I experience a lot of angst about my writing.  Yet another part of my own story of life between the highlights.

Almost every time I sit down to write,  I worry that my posts will sound trite or cliché.  Most days, I agonize over every line; rarely does my writing happen effortlessly.  Instead, I grapple with wording and often scrap posts altogether because I am afraid of how my words will be taken.  At times, I find writing about joy and beauty the most difficult of all topics.  The whole time that I am trying to encourage and share beauty with my readers,  I am thinking about all the ugliness that so much of the world faces every single day.  I think about the secret heartache of people I rub shoulders with at the grocery store.  I think about the vast, indescribable suffering of people on every surface of the globe.  I worry that my words will make people scoff or feel even more cynical about the hurts and disappointments of life.  I worry that my joy will highlight someone else's pain.  Or if I write about hurt or sadness or struggles, I worry that I'm not qualified because I have such a good life overall.  I worry that I will sound like a princess who takes her own perfect life for granted and only obsesses over minuscule first-world problems.  I worry that I will sound completely naive or insensitive to the tragedies occurring all around me.  I worry.  And that gets in the way of me following my calling.

A dear friend recently challenged me when I shared these feelings with her.  She is the one who, back when I was a teenager, helped me fall in love with writing and poetry and who still encourages me to write from the heart today.  She said simply and pointedly:  "Try not to judge who needs it and who doesn't.  Let the Lord have his way with your writing.  There's a million message he can bring through your words. "

Let the Lord have his way.  If I believe that I'm following my calling when I sit down to write, then why can't I simply trust that my writing will land where it needs to and touch those it was meant for?

Trust.  I am learning to trust God with all of the in-between parts of my life.I want to practice noticing and celebrating God's gifts of grace that come during all the seasons, especially those between the highlights when life is tough, or ordinary, or confusing, or overwhelming.  I have a hunch that as grand as the highlight moments are, it's the in-between stuff that matters most in the end.

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2016