Monday, March 4, 2024

Starting Again

 It's been a good while since I've felt like writing. I've started several times and have a few unfinished drafts of ramblings I spared you from. 

You're welcome. 

My creative juices have always ebbed and flowed. Since I haven't written as much over the past few years, those juices certainly haven't flowed as mightly. Practice does make perfect on occasion. 

The truth of my absence and limited creativity is much more complex and private. Frankly, 2023 was a year of extreme lows and very few highs. I can say that there were weight loss has been consistent (more on that another day). And any day that I have breath in my body and a chance to see the beauty in my life is a good day. 

But there were things that happened in 2023 that were heart-wrenching and soul-crushing. I can't be completely transparent about some of those things because they aren't my stories to tell. But...there is nothing so humbling or scary as being a parent. Or a child. 

I can tell you that both of my parents faced health issues in 2023. I went to the farm in October and stayed for a few weeks. My dad had an injury that turned into a life-threatening infection. It was frightening to see my strong and stalwart dad in so much pain. But we did what we always do. Pulled up our britches, made a cup of coffee, and got on with it. 

He is doing better but whether or not he is taking care of himself is questionable. 

I had a few goals coming into the new year concerning my professional and creative goals. 

I wanted to write consistently. I want to complete a devotional book this year. I am currently working on revamping our family cookbook. I have created several journals and a few activity books for sale. I want to continue to really pursue and promote that venture. 

Realistically, I haven't done a good job of holding myself accountable. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think that I had been experiencing a delayed trauma reaction and had shut down in some respects. 

Writing has generally been a healing outlet for me. In fact, it was after a second bout of congestive heart failure that I started this blog. This time, I didn't even know how to express what I was feeling or what I needed. Depression? Maybe. Anxiety? Most certainly. Living in survival mode? We all do it from time to time. 

I think it is so important to be able to recognize those valleys in our lives for what they are. Life is tough. Life can be cruel and unfair. But it can also be joyous and crazy and quiet. A healthy life recognizes that a good life contains all of those things. 

For now, I hold to my philosophy of life. That our lives are made up of small moments. The big ones can overwhelm us, crush us, or in turn, bless us. But it's the small moments that satisfy, that comfort, that keep us grounded and grateful. 

Here is to the quiet cup of tea, a random evening walk around the neighborhood, the meaningful conversation with a loved one, the flicker of a candle, the sounds and smells of a pot of soup bubbling on the stove, or the beautiful words of a hymn. 

Talk to you soon. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

I Made Something!

This has been a season of "Nope. Not going to happen today." 


I've had great plans. I was going to post a whole lot of fall-inspired content in October. Then October actually happened and I posted not a one. Not even a single Pumpkin Spiced anything. 

It truly has been my goal to nourish and cultivate some life back into my little blog. However, all that nourishing has had to be focused on different areas of my life.  

I've also needed some inspiration. I truly love to write and create. There is something so fulfilling about being creative. 

One creative task I've been leaning into has been creating KDP products for Amazon. KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing.  I've not advertised or done anything to promote what I've created. It is certainly a hobby and I'm finding my groove. 

For one of the latest projects, I've taken advantage of my Early Childhood teaching and education and have created a Christmas Activity book. It is sooo cute. 

There are a few projects that are in the works that will feature my Mom's artwork. AND in the next few weeks, I am going to be publishing our family cookbook. We have a version of it that is 20-plus years old that we hand-created ourselves. There are limited copies and it was time to take advantage of our current opportunities and make a new one. It is really coming along nicely. I had suggestions for what to include from all of the Cousins. Many of them learned to cook their favorites from our little cookbook. I'll be sure to share that and some of the other things I've been working on. 

So. This next week. Be prepared to be slammed, saturated, and greatly annoyed by the posts I am going to throw your way. It is time for Beke to get back in the game!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Rest, Recovery, and The Farm

 It's been a minute. 

I should probably quit trying to think of a catchy opening and just stick with a tried and true. An oldie but goodie. 

It's been a minute. 

It's also been wild, ya'll! 

My friends. I have been in the hospital. Again! Shortly before Christmas, I was there for a Rona/Flu/Blood Pressure extravaganza. This time around, I caught some strange intestinal virus and ended up dehydrated and with crazy low blood pressure. One of my nurses is one that I had during my last go-around. Even she remembered my crazy blood pressure issues. Only with the Rona/Flu combo it was high blood pressure. 

I can't take myself anywhere.

At least this time I got to go spend a few weeks with my Momma. 

And it was bliss. I didn't do a whole lot. Mom made me strange tea concoctions and let me sleep as much as I could. 

This. This, my people, is why, at 51, I still need my Momma. 

A few nights I woke up to her making sure I was covered up. 

I would have happily stayed at The Farm the entirety of the summer, but...adulting. 

I meant to blog and record the whole happy farm experience. The best laid plans of mice and men...Frankly, I was too busy resting and drinking crazy tea concoctions.

I will share a few pics. One or two I actually took. The rest I shamelessly poached from Mom and my nephew, Chris. 

I'm in love. These girls are too precious. Mom and Dad recently had a chicken catastrophe so their numbers are few. There is another black hen but she was probably terrorizing a duck. 

I actually took this one. This is the view from their spectacular back deck. Of course, the truck is blocking some of the garden views. There is also a wounded lawn mower as part of the scenery. While we were there the boys harvested oodles of green beans and Mom put them up (canned them). I, myself, snapped a few before Mom sent me to my room with some tea and instructed me to take a nap. When can I go back? 

This boy. He's living his best life. Dad doesn't give up his lawn mowing duties easily. He takes the cutting of the grass very seriously. Josiah learned from the best. He whipped the mower 'cross hill and dale. Just look on at the expression on his face. 

This is Cousin Chris. Just over a year ago, we weren't sure what Chris' quality of life was going to be. He was in a car accident with my mom and dad. This boy is a walking miracle. He is a joy to be around. He is also every man. He is the chicken whisperer, expert weed picker, handyman, and stir fry maker. We tried to bring him home with us. His dad needed him. Shucky dern. 

I don't have any other pics to share. We did get to have lunch with aunts and uncles. That is always such a treasured time. This particular group contains two of my Dad's oldest sisters and their husbands. I wish I would have gotten a picture with all of them together. These are the most precious people you will ever your life. And I'm not kidding. A good time was had by all. 

I also got to spend time at my brother's house while the boys and Dad helped on a remodel project. One of my great agonies in life is being so far away from my family, which especially includes my nieces and nephews. They have grown up to be spectacular people. We didn't get to have Cousin Camp this year. Some of these people actually have full-time jobs! The nerve! Still others, have busy summers and are in between college semesters. My oldest niece was in the Dominican Republic on a missions trip during part of my visit. 

Of course, there were a few flea markets to visit. Surprisingly, I didn't buy very much on my trip. It's amazing how much energy is required to "shop 'til you drop." 

Well, that's all I can manage for tonight. There is a mystery book that is calling my name.

Sunshine and Closets

Note: This is a brief little post that I wrote back in May but neglected to post. Good grief! 

Been feeling like you are missing a chatty post that will waste a good portion of your Friday evening? Well...I'm here for you. And don't tell me that you have never spent a good 42 hours down the rabbit hole that is scrolling on Instagram. 

Today was a beautiful day. Sunshiney. 74 degrees. And I got to go get a gel manicure from my "nail girl." I call her a girl, but she's in her 40s. I waffled between getting a pale matte mauve color and a bright bold fushia. 

The fushia won out. 

A few hours later, I had an appointment with my endocrinologist. I got fabulous news. My blood sugar is awesome and I have lost 20 pounds since I saw him last. 

I love that guy. He is one of those who still wears a tie and shakes my hand when he comes in. 

It was an overall great day. 

Except for that portion of the day when I fell in my closet. 

And when I say..."fell in my closet"...I mean fell into my closet. 

My closet extends the entire length of one of the walls of my small office. This small office is off our bedroom. It is really a dressing room/library/craft room, etc. etc. 

Let's say that it has a tendency towards hoarding. 

At some point, while walking into the room to get dressed and put on my make-up, I lost my balance and fell "into the closet." My head was buried between a 31 tote bag and a couple of totes of scrapbooking supplies stored at the bottom of the closet. 

Goodness, gracious. 

No worries. One of the reasons I might have lost my balance was because I was carrying my phone around and wasn't able to navigate super great over the piles of baskets, pillows, and other paraphernalia hanging out in my office. 

I called The Muffin and he graciously rescued me. 

I'm no worse for the wear....Still need to work on that closet.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Journal Entry (February 2023)

 Note: For the next few posts, I am going to share several months' worth of posts or journal entries. I didn't post them at the time because I was stressed, uninspired and didn't think they were worth sharing. We can all get in our heads. 

Shew! I just checked my blog posts archive and I have really dropped the ball. It has been months since I posted. I really do have a few good excuses. I started doing a little bit of an update on Facebook. It gradually grew into a novel. I decided to forget it and post on my blog instead. I have some big goals for my blog now that I am done with school (you heard right!). Now is as good a time as any to start. 

Instead of writing a ginormous rambling post, I will revert to my trusty numbering system. It is what I do when I have a lot to say and need to keep things brief. You're welcome. 

1. Most friends and family know that Troy has been driving back and forth from our house to his home town (about 3 hours away) weekly to help care for his parents. His mother had really declined over the past year. It was a labor of love. She passed away a few days after Thanksgiving. We were actually there when she had a stroke. She never woke up. Her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support. She had family with her constantly and was never alone. It was some of the hardest days we have had to experience. Troy preached her funeral. It was beautiful and sad. 

2. We had gone home just a few days before she died. I was nearly out of medicine and Josiah needed to get back to work. I hadn't been feeling while and it turns out, neither had Troy. It was Covid. All three of us (and some additional family members) had it. We were now quarantined and sick. Good times. 

3. We were all tested at the emergency room because we needed to know for sure that we had it because of the current circumstances. Troy and I were given the anti-viral medication. I actually felt pretty good after a few days, considering. We think that Troy caught it at the emergency room when his mom initially had the stroke. 

4. A few days after my quarantine ended, I got sick again. I went to the doctor. Turns out I had a rebound Covid case. Of course, I did. Yippee! A few days after that, I had to go to the emergency room because my blood pressure readings were too high. I spent 2 1/2 days in the hospital. I am now resting at home and monitoring my BP. A few days ago, I had a follow-up visit with my doctor. I not only had Covid in the hospital but I had Influenza A, as well. Of course, I did. 

5. In the middle of this Josiah celebrated in 21st birthday. His grandma died on his 21st birthday. We were going to have a party. He wanted walking tacos and a cake from the grocery store. 

6. On the day I was released from the hospital, I also graduated from college. I obviously didn't attend the ceremony. It hasn't sunk in yet. I expected it to feel differently. 

So life goes on. There are too many things to think about. It is all overwhelming. I know in time we will be able to process all of it. Maybe not today. 

Journal Entry (September 2022)

Note: For the next few posts, I am going to share several months' worth of posts or journal entries. I didn't post them at the time because I was stressed, uninspired and didn't think they were worth sharing. We can all get in our heads. 

I may or may not have mentioned before that there is a good chance I'm going through menopause. 

Yay! Way to start off the post, Beke. Let them know all of your secrets. To be honest there isn't any way I can hide it. One sweet lady asked me at church Wednesday night if I had been in the sun. 

Nope. Just had a major hot flash on the way over from the Parsonage. 

I'm fine. Really, I'm fine. 

This little milestone in my life isn't all there is to tell but I thought I would mention it just in case I seem particularly snarky. 

I posted last week that I have started my last semester of college. Pretty good for an old broad. In fact, one of the classes I am taking is called "Society and Aging." I just found out that I qualify for my Class Project. The Class Project is to interview and record someone over 50 about their life story. 

Say what? I can interview myself? Somehow I think that isn't going to work out. I'm going to use my momma as my subject. She should feel privileged considering almost everyone I know is over 50. 

Josiah is working at a local grocery store as a facer. He is so good at his job that he has a bad habit of "facing" shelves in other businesses. I caught him organizing the candy aisle the other day at the Dollar Tree. 

He has gotten in trouble for taking too much time "visiting" while he has supposed to be working. Considering the kid was homeschooled, I figure he's making up for lost time. I never had to issue a "talks too much to his classmates" note for home. 

It's tough being a pastor's kid and a young man in general in today's culture. Every day I pray that God reveals himself to my boy in a meaningful way. I pray that God sends people into his life that encourage him to make choices for himself that are healthy and inspired. If you are a praying person, could you help me in lifting our boy up? 

This season of life has brought sorrow in a variety of ways. We have lost members of our congregation in the past few months. We pastor an older congregation and Troy has certainly performed more funerals than weddings. Not only do we feel their loss in our lives but it also reminds us how fragile life is. 

I haven't spoken about this much but Troy has spent the last year traveling 2 1/2 hours from our home to stay with his parents at least  2-3 days a week. About this time last year, his momma had surgery on her spine. She had been gradually losing strength and mobility and we had hoped that the surgery would give her some much-needed relief. 

Basically, the surgery prevented her from becoming paralyzed, but her quality of life has not been great. She needs care 24/7. She is still at home and being cared for by Troy's dad, who also suffers from mobility issues. 

I can tell you that though Troy wouldn't have it any other way or do anything any differently, his life right now is complicated and stretching. There aren't many hours in his day that aren't accounted for. We have had to take moments unconventionally and sacrificially to spend much time together. 

Last week, he had obligations not only during the 4 days he was here at home but also had something going on every evening as well. He leaves every Wednesday night after Bible Study and comes home on Saturday mornings. 

Today when he got home (on Saturday) he swept the floor for me, spent a few minutes in the office, then went out with Josiah so they could spend some time together. When he got home, he received a call that we had lost one of our congregation members. He then spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening in the office before coming home for some supper and a little college football. 

I will tell you that our congregation has been wonderfully supportive. We have had friends in the community that we know are praying for us and for Troy's folks. 

It is also draining and heartbreaking and leaves him pulled in a million different directions. 

He doesn't begrudge it though. 

I, myself, have had a rougher year physically. Have I mentioned menopause? 

Mostly, I have had some really serious asthma issues and struggles with my blood pressure. Currently, I am doing well but I have my only little pharmaceutical operation going on. I try so hard to be good to myself. Some days I am better than others. The metal in my body has aged with me. So far so good but there are days when I can't walk as well as I'd like. 

It is easy to get wrapped up in the big picture or the end result. I have decided that small moments eventually make a difference in the big picture and that is what I must focus on. 

I make myself do at least one hour of schoolwork each morning.

I make myself take a little bit of time to make up a meal or two for myself ahead. Even if it is to put some leftovers in a container.

I make myself get out of the house and move even when my body and brain tell me it would be better just to go back to bed. 

It's not perfect. 

Currently, my life is a bit of a mess. 

I can't even get into my office. It is a little room off our bedroom that also contains my closet and vanity. I can tell myself all I want that I have just been wearing the same 4 outfits for convenience and comfort but the truth is it's too much trouble to crawl over boxes and bags of "who knows what." 

I need to give the house a good moping and there might be an unintended fungus growing in the tub and fridge. Real life sometimes is gross and impossible. I miss my parents and I miss feeling like I have life by the tail. 

One of the benefits of aging is understanding that life moves on. That one season is not like another. That we have to put to use what we've been given and find joy in each other....not our expectations. 

Back in the Saddle (again)

 It’s been a minute.

I could wax eternal about life, the universe and everything in it, but I am (frankly) not in the mood to pontificate. If I tell you that the last several months have been a doozy…believe me. And we aren’t talking the fun kinda doozy, either.

I am not going to spill all the beans (or my guts) but trust me when I say that feel so much for those of you who are going through the fire. I also know that there are varying degrees of burns…and they all hurt.

For one, we lost my mother-in-law last November. She had been failing so we knew that we would eventually have to say good-bye. But there was always a small hope that she would somehow recover her strength. It has been a strange world without her.

We were with her when she had a massive stroke. One of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever witnessed was watching my husband and father-in-law try and wake her up. Another heartbreaking scene was several days later when I heard my husband sobbing on the phone as his sister called him to tell him she had finally passed.

There is much more to the story but subsequent illnesses, and unrelated events have left me fatigued and heartbroken. I’m not sure how other creative-type people work, but stress does me in. My creative energy has gone into a free fall. I have only recently started to see flashes of inspiration from the corners of my eyes. It could be all of the pollen that is floating freely in Indiana but I like the idea of coming back to life just a bit better.

Those flashes of inspiration (or pollen…take your pick) have reminded me that I need to feed my mind and soul with beauty and hope. Part of that hope is to talk of God’s goodness…despite circumstances and situations.

So here we are again. The storms of life are not as violent as they were a few months ago…though the damage that has been done is lasting. We all are a little scarred and weather-beaten but are reminded that God is faithful and….in the words of the fabulous Kelly Clarkson…”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Classes Have Started!

Whelp. I did it. 

Last week was my first week back of my final semester. At least for this stage of the game. Whether or not I go back and get my Master's remains to be seen. 

I meant to do a whole first year back in college recap back in May. Obviously, I found something else to do. 

As an online student, my school supply list was pretty basic. If you have ever had to purchase college textbooks you know that it would have to be. But then again, I have no idea what the cool kids on campus have in the way of school supplies. I am content with a hot beverage, my laptop, and my cat for company. 

I did order a pack of fancy gel pens and picked up a pretty hardcover notebook at TJ Maxx. I have always had the best time going back to school shopping. Let's be honest. Office Supplies make me happy. If I happen to gift you with a journal and a gel pen, you know that I love you. I have found that, in general, office supplies aren't as fun when one is taking classes online. I will use my pretty notebook and gel pens to write out lists, take vague notes during online lectures, and doodle. 

Instead of more notebooks, some sort of sturdy backpack, and writing utensils, I bought a steam mop and a cute duster-length cardigan in the color "latte."  The purchase of the $80 Charactertistics of Human Resources book didn't quite have the same charge. A girl has to have her kicks somewhere.

I am a bit proud of myself. I only needed seven credits to graduate, but in the world of college credits, I actually had to take three specific courses to complete my major. As I am generally over the top, I am taking twelve credits this semester. Why take any chances? 

Anyhoo. Last spring I procrastinated in registering for my classes for this semester. One of my required courses had to be from a list of Upper Division Elective courses. I really wanted to get into the popular "History of Rock" class. Let's face it. Everyone needs a few of those kinds of classes in their college career. We used to joke about underwater basket weaving and the like, but I get it. Sometimes, the fewer brain cells involved the better. 

I didn't get into the class. Instead, there were only a few classes that had available spots. My advisor recommended that I take Research and Development Something Something Something. I say "something" because I can't even remember the complete title of the class. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I ordered my books and when they came in the mail I gave all of them a quick flip-through. 

Research and Development Something Something Something was in all actuality some kind of class engineers take. THERE WERE FORMULAS AND MATH ALL THROUGH THE TEXBOOK. Can you feel my panic? 

Friends. My last math class was in 2000. It was Math for Teachers. The one before that was College Algebra and it took place in roughly 1997. And do I resemble an engineer? I am the least analytical person I know. 

I frantically emailed my advisor. How in the world could we fix this? It wasn't a matter of dropping it and taking something more appealing. I HAD to take something from the Upper Division Elective list and those classes were fulled up, jack. She suggested that try to register for something else every day and keep on trying. After all, folks do a lot of moving classes around that first week or so before school. 

For the next two weeks, I tried to add "classes" (plural). Three. Times. A. Day. Nothing. The day before classes started I had decided that maybe Jesus knew something about me and engineering that I didn't. Maybe this would be something I was good binge reading and thrift shopping. 

Thankfully, Jesus knows all things, and as the morning classes began one of those valued Upper Divison Elective classes opened up. 

My new class? Society and Aging. 

I am elated. Now, this is in my wheelhouse. I know all about aging. I am most likely the oldest person in the class. Most of the students (according to their online introductions), are rehabilitation therapy majors, or medical professionals. There are one or two others taking the class for their Upper Division Elective class. If this first week is any indication, I am going to love this class. I am practically living it! 

I promised in my last (but brief) post that I would do a better job of keeping in touch. It is my goal to post more frequently. Everyone needs goals. Mine this week include posting more on the blog, consuming fewer Diet Cokes, and keeping my family in clean underwear. 

We do what we can, friends. 

We do what we can. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

It's Time Again

 It's time. 

It's time to get back to writing and posting on this little blog. I have unintentionally neglected it for such a long time. 

I originally started it for selfish reasons. I was facing some challenges and needed an outlet. I needed to pontificate and ramble. I also needed to remind myself that life can still be beautiful despite the scary stuff we all face in life. 

I admit I've experienced burnout along the way. This past year, especially. I am trying to find my pace again and trying to focus on something other than my own fears and foibles. In other words, I need to find joy in places and situations that seem joyless. 

Life is still challenging. There are issues that haven't magically disappeared into that place where all problems go to die. But it is time for me to find the delightful moments in life and encourage those of you who have struggled to do the same. 

My delight might be different than your delight but at least we can all encourage one another. The world is too full of nastiness and spite. 

I am going to honor my promise to be more purposeful and deliberate in my days. AND to honor those goals I have set for myself. With God's help. Always with His help. 

Have you found yourself stuck in place? 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A List (Catching Up!)

 It's literally been a YEAR since I've posted anything on the blog.  

I started a few posts. They generally started with....

"I've not written anything in a while." That was about as far as I got. One of the goals I have for the year is to be more consistent with my writing. And to get back to some of the fun, lifestyle kinds of posts I used to do in the past. 

I just need to be better organized with my life. And everybody said, Amen and amen. However, that is another topic for another post. 

I thought I would use this post to catch up with all five of my readers (hi, mom) about the comings and goings of the past few months. 

It has been a doozy! Instead of writing pages, and pages, and pages of what's been going down, I am going to implement my favorite tool in life. The List. 

This, my friends, is The List. 

1. I did go back to college. I am still there. I survived my first semester and made the Dean's List. Classes start back next week. I am armed and ready with a new planner. I currently have only six classes to complete before I am finished with my Bachelor's degree. 

2. What am I going to do with that degree? I have no clue at this moment in time. Just thought I would put that out there just in case you asked. 

3. My parents and nephew had an awful car accident at the beginning of October. 

4. I tried to write about it and couldn't. All the feelings are still being felt. My nephew was in the hospital for weeks. And then rehab. My parents still are recovering from injuries they suffered. 

5. I went to Missouri and stayed for two weeks. It is awful to feel helpless. I still feel helpless. 

6. Everyone is doing better now. There are still challenges. Josiah is currently with his cousin. In a few weeks, both the boys are going to go to the farm. Chris needs some additional time to heal and to recover and my dad needs some help. Mom broke her arm and continues to deal with that injury. It looks like Josiah is the most likely candidate for cook and bottle washer. 

7. I hope the folks like peanut butter sandwiches and fish sticks.

8. My in-laws have also been in crisis. Last year, my mother-in-law develop some significant nerve and spine issues. She had surgery and has never completely regained strength. The Muffin has spent months going back and forth nearly every week to help her and his dad. 

9. There are many grand things about getting older. And then there are many hard things. One of those hard things is watching your parents age and go through difficulties. 

10. Princess the Cat is still fabulous. 

11. I have gained so much weight since moving to Indiana. Combined with that and the stress of the past few months, I started 2022 with a significant health crisis. 

12. Not to worry. I've been here before. Unfortunately, recently, feeling poorly has been more of a daily norm. This has to stop. Do you ever feel like you are your own worse enemy?

13. I recognize that I have challenges that other people don't. But I also have all the tools that living with chronic illness has given me. I know what to do. It's a matter of loving myself enough to do it.

14. Anybody relate? 

15. I guess we just need to start where we can and go on from there. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Thrifty Finds Video (Not to be confused with Thrifty Finds a Video)

 Well. I've finally succumbed to the peer pressure and showed some stuff I bought on line.  You know I love a good fleamarket/thrift store crawl. 

In this video I've shared the stuff I've acquired over the past few months. Some of it is furniture. 

And long,

dangly earrings. One cannot forget the long, dangly earrings. 

At least I can't.

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