Going Home

View from Mulholland Dr.

In July we went to California. I knew it was going to be a wonderful trip. I was going home. I didn’t anticipate a challenge I would face, and my personal victory over it.

We met our youngest daughter, her husband and two of their children in Amarillo, traveling along with them until we all stopped for the night in Gallup, New Mexico. Chronicling their trip, they stopped at the border of each state and took a picture by the ‘now entering’ sign. To keep things fun and interesting, my daughter brought along a couple masks, some bunny ears, a sombrero, and googly eyes to wear for the photo ops. New Mexico State LineMy husband and I chose the bunny ears and dog mask and posed with them at the Welcome to New Mexico sign. After breakfast together at the hotel next morning, we went on to California, they took a different route. Later it was fun to see pictures of how the masks changed wearers as they crossed each state border, as well as visiting the Four Corners and Grand Canyon on their way to southern California.

By late afternoon we arrived at our oldest daughter’s home in Monrovia CA. The others came later that evening. Tired from the trip, we all gradually spread out to rest for the night: to the guest house, an upstairs guest bedroom, and our son-in-law’s sound studio.

By the time we’d all settled down for the night, I had the happy feeling of being home.

We rested and just hung out the next day until friends and family came for dinner. After a cookout in the back yard and time came to say good-bye, we followed them to the front of the house, waved them off, then spent the rest of the cool southern California evening gathered on the front porch until it was time for bed.

Mornings are normally chilly in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains where my daughter and family live. Absolutely delightful. Each day, after I’d had my quiet time and Café Mocha in the guest house, I’d go through her house, pour a cup of regular coffee then join whoever was up and hanging out on the large porch of their one hundred year old house.

It’s hard to imagine that in a city next door to Pasadena, of the Rose Parade, deer come down from the hills regularly and munch of flowers in her yard. Deer 2We were paid a visit by a small brown doe one day, but she nibbled plants across the street before moving to a yard further on. Another day, I came out on the porch in time to join daughter and son-in-law laughing at my granddaughter as she scampered after a peacock sauntering along the sidewalk.Peacock Preening before heading around the corner, that peacock gave her plenty of opportunities to get some really great pictures on her phone. Almost every day a flock of wild parrots gathered on utility wires overhead, shattering the quiet morning with their loud squawking and chattering until they finally flew away leaving us in peace.

The beach was the first thing on our agenda for the week. Oldest daughter and husband had to work that day, but the rest of us loaded a small cooler packed with sandwiches, bottled water and fruit, beach chairs and   umbrellas, boogie boards, blankets and beach towels into two cars and headed to for Huntington Beach. Like a ‘muscle memory’, the routine of going to the beach came back quickly. I threw in a canvas tote I’d packed with swim suit, towel and hat before I left Oklahoma.

Even though he is native Californian, my husband is not a ‘beach person.’ he goes for his beach-loving wife, children and grandchildren. He sunburns easily so we are all used to him sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella. he still burns. In the past he napped a lot while we played; at least now he had his cell phone so he could play Angry Birds. He is a kind and patient man.

Before we moved from California, while he was at work, the kids and I spent as much time as we could at the beach. I always had a tan. Over the years in Oklahoma I’ve avoided the sun and now sat under the umbrella with my husband. under the umbrella

I didn’t notice my feet weren’t shaded and the tops of my feet burned until it was too late. I’d been too busy watching our Texas daughter with her childhood best friend who was also visiting southern California with her family.

The friend had been with us at the beach many times, with me keeping a watchful eye on all the kids. now they were grown women with children, and grandchildren,Jenn and Me 2 laughing and playing just like they had when they were girls. Amazingly, they stayed in the water as long as they had back then, riding the waves on boogie boards along with their husbands and children beside them. Gritty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never tasted better.

Since  I no longer needed to keep a safety watch, I had the luxury of walking along the beach by myself, breathing in salt air, dodging waves as they washed around my ankles and over my sunburned feet. I couldn’t have been happier.

Granddaughters Sailboat Drake

My View from Under the Umbrella

familyThe next day, our son-in-law arranged for us to be part of the audience of a popular TV talk show where he works, and gave us a private tour of the studio. Not a ‘give-away’ day but fun anyway. Afterward, a drive through Hollywood ended up at Santa Monica Pier. We left the kids to the rides and my husband and I sat close together on a bench Mom and Dad 2near the water and watched the sun sink silently into the ocean.

 I never get tired of that sight.

Pier view

Later we all walked across Pacific Coast Highway and crowded around tiny café tables for dinner at a local pizzeria.

Saving the best for last, before we left California we went to one of my favorite places in the world. Corona del mar, near Newport Beach. We’ve gone there with our children since they were small. Now our grandchildren are part of the experience. It is one beach my husband doesn’t mind too much. There is something to do with the kids: climbing over the rocks, exploring the tide pools, watching sea life in the shallow water.Coron View

Every time I go there I look forward to the moment at the top of the bluff over-looking the cove below where I can see it with the ocean spread out in the distance. Corona

I’ve trekked up and down the steep incline to the beach dozens of times, excited to get down to the sand even though I knew the muscles in my legs would be burning before I reached the top coming back up. In recent years, I’ve had to stop and rest on the way.

This time I stopped as a sobering thought crossed my mind. For the first time – ever, I wondered, “Is this my last time?” I didn’t doubt I could make the trip to the bottom. And, one way or another, if I had to take breaks every few steps, I’d get back up – this time. But, I’m realistic. I am not young anymore, nor as strong as I used to be, and have begun experiencing physical imitations. I let myself indulge in that possibility for one small bittersweet moment, then I set out down the steep slope. I’d make it to the bottom and deal with getting back up later. If this was the last time, then I was going to enjoy every second and have something to remember.

Mom at CoronaI sat on a rock and put my feet in a shallow pool of cold Pacific water, soothing my burning feet.  Totally content, I watched my children and their children climb over the rocks and explore the tide pools where sea urchins, fiddler crabs and sea anemones waited. Brown pelicans skimmed across the surf on their way to their rocky perch I knew so well. Waves surged over rocks sending a salty spray and dampened my skin, the constant rhythm reminding me of God’s eternal heartbeat.Water on rocks

It had been a wonderful day, then it was time to go. I put on my shoes, retrieved my bag and headed toward the trail. I started up the large concrete steps set into the slope knowing a decision that would change my life would be decided by the time I reached the top. Several feet up, we stopped at a short landing with public restrooms and an outdoor shower. So far, so good. I washed the sand from my feet and shoes, and continued up the long steep incline my shoes squishing with each step. With only one short break on the way, I wasn’t even winded when I reached the tip of the bluff!

I thanked God as I looked back at the place I love so much, and I smiled all the way down inside me, thinking, “Yup. I’ll be back.”

Balboa bar standAs is our tradition, we wrapped up our beach day going to Balboa Island, sitting on benches along Balboa Boulevard eating chocolate-covered ice cream Balboa Bars. buying balboa barsBest ever. That night, we viewed the lights of L.A. from Mulholland Drive before we drove back to Monrovia and gathered one last time on the porch for a while.

With everyone now back in place, I’m looking forward to when family will meet at our house for Christmas.

What blessed moments.

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“Divine Dining” Guest Blogger, Janet K. Brown

I attended a book signing to personally meet Janet K. Brown because I wanted to meet someone published by the same company I’d just signed on with. I bought her book Divine Dining but didn’t expect it to be any different than anything else I’d read or tried about weight loss or dieting. I’d tried it all and didn’t expect she could tell me anything new, something I didn’t already know. I was wrong.

Janet’s honesty about her food addiction and her personal journey to freedom through reliance on God was a new approach to me and opened my eyes to some of my own struggles.

I am reading the daily devotions in Divine Dining for the second year. Each day I find new inspiration and encouragement.

Thank you Janet and welcome to my blog today!

*Information on how to download a month of FREE devotionals during September follows Janet’s story.

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Janet K. Brown, Author

I lived the words from Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weigh and Abundant Wellness every day of my adult life. Nineteen years ago, God healed my emotions. With Him carrying me, I lost ninety-five pounds and have maintained it since then.

I teach classes on weight loss at my church using my own curriculum and Bible study. I read everything I can get my hands on about allowing god to control my compulsive nature. I searched for a book using a twelve-step approach to following Christ through my eating but couldn’t find one.

One night four years ago, God woke me in the middle of the night. I went to my computer and wrote fourteen devotions. That has never happened before or since. God spurred me to finish what I started that night. I added 351 more devotions to minister each day of the year. This is truly one woman’s journey, and the story of my heart.

I believe God would have urged me to write this book if only to minister to myself. Isn’t that just like God? We know Jesus died on the cross for all mankind, but we believe He would have made that trip to Golgotha for just us. Nevertheless, it’s my prayer that it helps others.

I tell people to beware. This book tells all the good, bad, and ugly of Janet K. Brown. Healing requires rigorous honesty. Compulsive overeating, as with all compulsions and addictions, is a lonely life. God can’t heal us until we are willing to show the ugly secrets to others. I was a closet eater, a binge eater, with roller-coaster emotions that drove me to the brink of suicide. My message is you are not alone. What God can do for me, He can and will do for others if we relinquish our Won’t Power.

Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. Though she has written most of her adult life, since her retirement as a bookkeeper and medical coder, she writes as a second career and as a ministry.

Divine Dining is the author’s second book. It encompasses her passion for diet, fitness, and God’s Word. Janet released her debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, in July, 2012. She continues to write short stories for teens and adults.

She and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren, and work in their church.

Pen-L Publishing will release in November, 2014, Janet’s first women’s fiction. It’s titled Worth Her Weight. Here’s a glimpse about this upcoming book.

Lacey is addicted to overeating.

Toby’s a controller.

Mom’s anger seeks to destroy everything in it’s path.

Each must let go before God can heal.

You can contact Janet K. Brown at: http://www.janetkbrown.com/

find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janet-K-Brown-Author/143915285641707

and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/janetkbrowntx

Now for a special announcement of how to get a month of these devotions *FREE* with no obligation!

Pen-L Publishing is making a fantastic offer for the month of September; To take advantage of a devotion a month *FREE* all you need to do is click on the link below and download the September portion of the book.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/468985

I pray it ministers to you. If you wish to purchase all 365 devotions, just click on Pen-L Publishing while on the Smashwords site. Here are 2 links where you can purchase the book in print or on kindle:

http://www.pen-l.com/DivineDining.html

http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Dining-Devotions-Healthier-Abundant/dp/0985127430/ref=sr%201%201?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404774755&sr=1&keywords=Divine+Dining

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Reunion

Yearbook Banner

This year I attended my 55th high school class reunion. Wow!
At one time, fifty-five students would have been part of the 1959 senior class. It was a small school in a small town. Between junior high and graduation day, some had dropped out, moved away, got married and quit school. They are still considered one of us.

Class of 1959 - Second Grade, Mrs. Holmes class

Class of 1959 – Second Grade, Mrs. Holmes class

Class of 1959 - Senior Class Photo

Class of 1959 – Senior Class Photo

In the end, there were forty-eight young men and women who graduated together. Out of that number sixteen have died. Tragedy has struck and we are aging. Yet, twenty-two of the remaining class members were at the reunion. I find that extraordinary.
Many from the class still live in or around the small rural community where we went to school. Some of us have moved away and came from Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.

So what keeps bringing us back every five years?
We share history. We rode to school on buses over gravel roads from the farms where we worked with our families. We ate together in the lunch room – it was not called a cafeteria back then. We learned together, played sports together, went to church together. Dated each other. We helped each other, laughed and cried together. We saw the best and worst of each other, and found value in each other. We grew together to become the people we are today.

Me and Haag
I go because they are special to me. I find part of my identity in them. They recognize me.
I go because of a friend who I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t part of my life. Because of a friend who is gone now, but whose number I can’t bring myself to delete from my phone or remove his name from my address book. Or erase from my memory.

Phyllis and MomGirls

I go to be with my best friend. I know she will have my favorite chocolate pastry waiting for me before we ever go to meet the others, And we will compare notes later when everything is over.
I go to see who will be there, I look for the smiling face with a bushy beard to compare with any on Duck Dynasty. I look for other smiles and other faces and listen for a certain laugh.

GroupThey no longer ask me if I know who they are. I remember. Like mine, many of the faces have changed, but the person has not. I look in their eyes and I see the person I knew so long ago and thank God I still recognize them.
We’ve decided that our next reunion will be in two years. I hope we are all there.

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Memorial Day

When I returned to school after thirty years away from the classroom, one of my first assignments was to write a short essay for a War Memoir course. What was I going to do? I worried. I had nothing to write about. I’d never served in the military and I’d had a peaceful life.

When I brought my dilemma to my instructor, she asked, “Bonnie, have you ever known anyone in the military?”

 “Well, yes,” I replied. “My father served in World War II when I was a baby. I had family members who were involved in the Korean Conflict; I remember sons and brothers of people we knew who didn’t come home to their families. My brother enlisted at seventeen and fought in Viet Nam. He’ll soon retire from the Army. And my husband was drafted during Viet Nam. He was stationed in Korea for eighteen months.

I did have something to write about after all. So I told their stories.

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 Clifford O. Long

I didn’t remember my dad when he returned home from overseas, but I recalled I later followed him around–to the barn, watching him work on farming equipment, clearing the garden. I sat for hours in the field piling loose moist dirt over my feet to form one “frog house” after another as I watched him walk up and down the rows of cotton swinging a hoe, with sweat dripping from his shirt-tail, while I tried to figure out who he was and what place he held in my life. My mother said he was not the same as before he was sent overseas. All I knew was he became my hero.

One of my dad’s friends never got over the loss of his son in Korea and ended his own life. For many years, Dad cried openly when he talked about them and others whose lives ended so sadly.

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Michael Long

All my brother ever wanted was to be a soldier. No amount of pleading from the family changed his mind and with our parents’ permission he enlisted straight out of high school when he was seventeen. He was on the battle field in Viet Nam before he was twenty years old. He was my baby brother, but I was, and still am, in awe of his bravery.

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James C. Lanthripe

In 1967 my husband and I changed our October wedding plans to September for a quick trip to Las Vegas three days before he was inducted. Our blended family had thirty days at Christmas and were relieved when he was sent to Korea in February, instead of to Viet Nam, returning home nine months later for a short while when our third child was born. Our lives were forever changed for having been separated for eighteen long months.

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Reese A. Massey

I had been wrong. War Memoirs had filled my life. They continue. My first grandchild is now deployed with the Air Force, another of the heroes woven into the fabric of my life.

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I Want To Go Home

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My roots run deep in the cotton fields of the fertile Mississippi delta farmland of northeastern Arkansas where I was born. But, like many transplants that adapt well to a new environment, I thrived when I sank new roots in southern California.

My life-long love affair with the Pacific Ocean began with my first glimpse; the way its salty mist settles in your hair, your nostrils and leaves its taste on your lips. I found my own kind of sanctuary along a strip of beach at Corona del Mar where a federal preserve is haven for several types of marine life.

There the ocean has waged war against the rocks and sand, battering out a cove among the rising cliffs and creating places of refuge for salt water creatures. Razor sharp rocks and chilling water harbor all kinds of sea life. Lavender sea anemones float in the shallow tide pools, their delicate, tentacle-like petals gently swaying with the tide, luring simple sea animals, and curious fingers, into their grasp with their deceptively harmless appearance. Sea urchins dart about, while shiny black fiddler crabs skitter into crevices or race after snails moving slowly along the barnacle encrusted rocks.

Brown pelicans perch on top of a giant rock, its center worn through forming a frame for the rise and fall of the gray-green horizon.

The constant rhythm of the waves reminds me of the eternal heartbeat of God.

I am home sick. I want to go home.

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Bacon, Kerosene Lamps and Zombies

I know there are a lot of people who are fans of the TV series The Walking Dead, but I just don’t get what all the hoopla is about. I will admit, I’ve never watched the show. Most likely I never will.

Hear me out.

When I was a little kid, my mom’s family would often gather at my grandparents’ home which had no electricity. Before daylight, the adults would have a hearty farmer’s breakfast at the kitchen table, a couple of kerosene lamps illuminating the room while we kids waited in the living room for our turn a the table. In the living room. Where the door was closed. Where it was very dark.

The aroma of bacon cooking, kerosene lamps burning, layered with strong black coffee and cigarettes permeated the air. I could hear the sounds of silverware on plates, cups on saucers, and my grandfather’s rich laughter sifting through the slits of light around the door.

Crouching behind the sofa, my heart pounding so hard I felt it might explode, I held my breath and trembled uncontrollably. Terror gripped me as I prayed for the door to open and the light to come back.

My sister was four years older than me; we had an uncle sandwiched between us in age and another a couple years older than her. They never realized the mindless fear they nurtured in me with their favorite childish game they played in the dark. Or maybe they did. They played it often and seemed to enjoy it a lot. They stumbled and staggered around playing tag, pretending to be zombies like we’d seen in a movie at the Saturday afternoon matinee in town. And I was IT. In their games, I was always IT.

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When my grandfather would at last open the kitchen door, the darkness and my mindless horror were swept away as wonderful light streamed into the living room. I could feel the coldness of the dark clutching behind me, though, as I hurried into the warmth of the kitchen for my turn at the table.

It would years before I escaped the fear of that dark beyond the kitchen door.

So, no. I’m not a fan of the walking dead.

But, vampires…now that is another story.

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Opening Act

Momm ht

Now that my book THE RINGLEADER is so close to release, I thought I would report that I came to writing late. Then I realized that isn’t true. I wrote from early childhood—my stories just weren’t on paper. They filled my mind. I supplied dialogue and often actions as I worked and played in the barn loft, the open fields and orchard on the farm where I grew up. Settings and situations came to life in my imagination.

Life fills my imagination these days and I’m loving every moment of it.

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