Latest Entries »

 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall

to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31

 ON BY

As I watch online the Iditarod winners pass under the famous Burled Arch in Nome, Alaska after a long cold race for man and beast alike, I feel some of the satisfaction of the mushers. Like they have endured so much from nature and their endurance and trust in their animals, I had to endure a lot of unemployment and financial hell and trusting the Lord through it all.

The last I heard, one of the hardships the mushers faced were 65 mph winds.  These are frigid Arctic temperatures off the Bering Sea and many mountains blowing around a little toboggan, a few tired dogs and a weary human for each team. They were driving straight through it, on frozen water, trails with rocks and trees, frozen bloody paws and all kinds of wildlife and hypothermic dangers.  The mushers kept calling, “On By!” (meaning ‘go straight ahead!’)

What’s the goal through all that extreme endurance? A prize of money and a new truck awaits the winner, but I’m sure most of them would be happy for it to just be over, where everyone is safe, warm, clean and have a very big dinner waiting!  Making it to Nome alive with all your dogs is a huge accomplishment.

Just like making it through that financial and spiritual mess alive and with a roof to live under, a job, a running vehicle, my health and bunches of loved ones was my reward.

SCRATCHED

Some of the most famous contemporary Iditarod racers have ‘scratched’ this year, meaning pulling out of the race for whatever necessary reason.   It was sad to see their names on that list, Jeff King and DeeDee Jonrowee being two of my favorites, and another four-time winner did not even race this year, Lance Mackey.  Really?  I was very surprised and disappointed but hope they are all well.

I think back on the race I have been forced to run these last four years and marvel at the things I somehow made it through.   In reality, I was fully aware of the WHO, not the HOW, I made it through with barely a scratch in His Care – yes, God’s. But honestly, that was not always easy to believe.

There were rounds of mass layoffs; debt; a teenage daughter running full tilt into her senior high school then college; some health issues; the unemployment and COBRA health coverage running out; her child support money stopped right before her graduation; near eviction from my apartment; older vehicles breaking down; and keeping food on the table and the utilities on.  I’m sure I forgot a few things.  All this was straining a new relationship, our health, and I even suffered a crisis of faith.

Yes, the Lord provided every single thing when needed, including continued decent health, a job when it was crucial (I endured the temp jobs), a payment plan to catch up on the rent, generous church food pantries, helpful church friends and family at really rough times with prayer, time and some small loans or gifts, and (at the time) a generous boyfriend who did help out when he could.   I’m working hard to pay them all back the best I can.

I don’t want to find myself on that ‘Scratched’ list again for any reason.  I’m a doer by nature, and I get positively frustrated when I can’t move and do what I’m made to do. I even felt like I could not do the right thing, like work and support myself because there was not any work most of the time, despite my best efforts.  I could not move far with my daughter finishing high school, moving to New York with the boyfriend was out of the question for obvious reasons, and I had no money to relocate with anyway.  I really was stuck in the deepest valley I had ever descended into and still don’t know why it all happened.

It’s not too late for me to have a midlife crisis and become a long-haired barefoot hippy and grow organic popcorn or hemp in Colorado……is it?  Sometimes that really seems like an easy way out – a profitable lifestyle.

Many have asked why I did not just go on welfare & food stamps.  That’s a fair enough question and the motives were meant to remind me those benefits are there for hard times.  To me that would have been throwing in the towel and giving up.  I just can’t.  Call it pride or sheer will, or whatever you want. I kept applying, interviewing, searching, calling, and taking on temporary jobs (even some I hated).   I did not give up and jump off a bridge or accept welfare as my fated vocation.  I have too much I want and need to do in life.

RED LANTERN AWARD

For mushers, finding a cabin with a glowing lantern outside is a guiding light during dark nights and inclement weather, and sometimes a welcoming stop over as well.   I have that every day in the Lord.   I need to remind myself of that a lot more often and not worry so much because He always takes care of all things, like He did this time.

Don’t believe me?  Let me tell you about the job that started the DAY AFTER I dropped my baby off at college!   That was the Lord’s timing, to get used to the empty nest and a perfectly easy and close by job to pay the bills with the same salary from when I had been laid off.   Though it was a temporary job with that contract extended only two months instead of six, the Lord had already arranged for another opportunity to immediately start the following week after that ended!   This is not only a job but a project to organize and dig into.  I had been praying for medical benefits and He provided them!   Though the initial change was nerve-wracking news, my needs were met – again.

It’s so true that whatever I may plan to do or want to do, the Lord still has ultimate control and directs my steps according to His will.  He truly does hear our deepest wishes and knows our secret dreams and expressed aspirations.  I can’t fall if I keep my eyes on Him, but I certainly may if I try to do it myself. I learned that a long time ago – the hard way.

The Red Lantern, also known as the Widow’s Lamp, is an oil lantern lit at the race’s start and hung on the Burled Arch.  This Red Lantern Award is extinguished and given to the last musher who crosses the finish line at the end of the race to symbolize and celebrate perseverance. I may have been made to feel ‘scratched’ by the professional rat race, but not on the Lord’s checklist.

The prize at Home still waits, with the Lord’s Light guiding the way, and the race is far from over.

A man’s heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps.  

Proverbs 16:9

My daughter said it perfectly:  “Now this is my idea of window shopping!”

This was a much anticipated weekend I had planned for my daughter’s return trip to college after winter break, and I wanted to have some fun with her, so we booked a room for two nights of woman-empowerment, touring the hills and parks, and night time movies.  I had projections of Happy Valley covered in snow and the youthful zeal filling the streets of State College, Pennsylvania, with the even more lively resort behavior of a ski lodge hosting an international competition on cable television.  I planned this for weeks to become part of the college crowd, another red-cheeked student lugging a heavy backpack, walking through the packs of kids to find a quiet corner and pretend to study, charming dinners at cafes in the alleys, and maybe crash a pregame tailgate party or cultural event.  Ahhhh…….fun.

That was the plan.

What really happened?  It rained on that day I had envisioned a bonfire and handsome European visitors parading around town, and instead I witnessed many slushy mud puddles and watched fishermen wade icy waters in rubber suits.  We had just returned from touring a charming mountainside town, Bellefonte, in Central Pennsylvania. In the rain we walked up and down some streets with steep enough hills to rival San Francisco, and wishing through the windows of shops.  She’s a college student, I’m a single mom just trying to get caught up in bills from my 3 year work hiatus, so neither of us had extra play money.  We left the shopping district empty handed, but not empty hearted.  The afternoon was still wide open.

I swear my daughter and I can both smell and find water everywhere we go and we float right to it like droplets drawn to a bigger puddle.  She did get that gene from me.  Down a hill at the south base of town flowed a shallow river with some undoubtedly freezing fly-fisherman in rubber suits trying to find the fish.  It was near 40 degrees outside and raining, and the men did not seem to care.  But the fish did, and they swam mightily upstream towards the dam and away from the lures of death.  We decided to not tell the fishermen that the fish were hiding out on the other side of the road and let the fish live.

Alongside the river was a nice park – but it was covered in slush and ice.  This silly mom forgot her good-tread warm arctic boots for the trip, so we had to forgo the park.  (so much for touring the snowy hills like in my dreams too because I forgot my arctic boots!)  The whole time we visited the small city, we spent half of it alongside the river rather than shopping or eating, thanks to a gigantic Belgium waffle with whipped cream and strawberries with a side of sausage.

On the way back to the college town we had passed a road sign for an intriguing town name, or what we thought to be a camp or some sort of state park.  Fisherman’s Paradise, PA.  It was begging for a visit from two bored women on a rainy day who wanted to wander the countryside, so we made that turn with our ‘innocently lost’ grins on magnified – just in case we wandered (ahem) onto a private road.  Oops.

No worries. What is really a tiny hamlet on the bottom of a windy road off Route 26 turned into an afternoon adventure trail that neither one of us wanted to stop exploring.  I could feel both of us sigggghhhhh the remaining stresses we may have had that seemed to jump into the shallow creek and we felt at home.  Moving water was home for us.

“This is my idea of window shopping!”   Because it was raining and cold, we had to enjoy the scenery through car windows, but it was revered much more than our shopping trip in town, as cute as that town was.  We are outdoor tomboys and proud of it!

Cottages and cabins lined the pine-heavy windy road along the wide creek and the smell of mountain fresh nostalgia filled the air – burbling water reached my ears and settled my restless spirit.  I wanted to find a place to hunker down in and write a novel – and have a cheesy fondue like I planned for dinner that night.  This detoxification and dieting was going to be painful when I returned back to real life.

 I did get to see a snowy pine ski mountain though.   At least, on the way to one of the three parks and lakes we visited that weekend, my daughter showed me where the ‘ski hill’ was located not far out of town on west 322.  I had pictured it a little differently in my mountain-getaway dreams, but thankfully the place was hopping with a lot of exciting energy from little kids  – and big ‘kids’ like me – learning to ski with red-cheeked smiling faces.  I did get my Nordic fix for the weekend.

Later that day when the rain stopped, she almost killed me by leading my very out of shape roundness up a steep hill.  That big breakfast still weighed heavy somewhere in my lower hemisphere.  At each of the four stops I was forced to do on the trail or hyperventilate, I bent over and admitted to myself I am no spring chicken!  And the worst part was that made me hungry – for chicken – after all, it was almost dinner time.  It was a defeating moment for me as I saw my daughter waiting impatiently, shaking her head in pity at poor old Mom.  This stuff is for the youth here in Happy Valley who regularly walk a mile across campus for classes, then sports, parties and grub within a few hours of each other.  I would need a nap in there somewhere, or a Segway – or both.

No more waffles and sausages for awhile for this Mama!  No more Crunch Berries or Apple Jacks either. A nice box of organic whole grain oatmeal sat in victorious silence on my kitchen counter at home waiting.

But it was nott about that widow-maker hill and yummy breakfasts.  The most basic and important part of the trip was a success – bonding time with my new young- woman daughter, learning about the area, and some laughs.  All were plentiful, along with a new waffle-top for Mama to work off on a killer hill near home!

Another reason to stay here – free exercise and ‘window shopping’.

Yes, every night I have a ‘date’ under the stars.  It is with someone I love dearly with all my body, mind & soul.   Even in bad weather when I may have to stand in the doorway to be with Him, still -He wants to hear from me, because I AM WORTH IT to Him!  If I forget or get too busy, I get that gentle heart-nudge to come outside.   It is the part of my daily routine I anticipate the most and I can’t miss it or I go to bed feeling incomplete.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Yes, the Lord waits patiently for me.  Men may complain about women constantly chattering, but the Lord never complains. He actually waits to hear from me every single day, as much as I want or need to air out my thoughts and worries. He never tires of it, especially when I am lifting up my friends and family to Him in prayer. I can tell Him anything and He never flinches, no matter how bad my confessions or thoughts seem to me, because He knows everything anyway.  I walk away refreshed, at peace knowing He heard every single word and He still loves me.   This motivates me to do better at living a better and purer life.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.  (Mark 1:35)

Even Jesus sometimes stole away from his friends and the chaotic tours during his ministry, and he would find a quiet place to talk to God. It was His bread and water, His lifeline – as the Lord has become mine.  The evening that he prayed before His betrayal (Matthew 26:36-56), he separated himself several times from the disciples and went to pray, with heavy-heart and a need for a good talk with the Father.  Jesus knew that God heard him each and every time.

Why do I pray outside under the stars on the coldest nights?  I have been asked this and the answer is quite practical.  It can be freezing wind or snow, or muggy and bug-thick outside sometimes, but to talk to God under the Heavens that He created is somehow special for me – more comforting and confirming.  There are less distractions and I don’t feel the elements too much when I am with Him in prayer. What I do see is the wide open universe before me that cannot contain even the wisdom and might of God. If He can arrange this whole universe and name the stars, then God can surely handle my puny earth-bound problems.  They seem so little in the grand scheme of things spread out before me.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one

and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

I get a sense of being a welcome part of something much bigger. Still, even the little things that I dream of or wish for matter to Him because they matter to me.

That joy in confidently approaching and standing before Him – THE King of Kings – and the unconditional love is there as He waits for me daily – it’s unequivocal.  A close second would be the love and hugs of a child, and that is a gift, a sample of His own love.

The darker the sky, the better to see all the constellations more clearly in light-polluted New Jersey, but a full Harvest Moon is a sight to behold as well.  Every night, I prepare for my nightly prayer time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Sometimes in my robe & slippers, or the warmer weather begs for a can of Deep Woods Off!.  I am still there!

 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him,

for he who comes to God must believe that He is,

and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

(Hebrews 11:6)

The best thing about it is, I know He would do this for anyone who comes to Him earnestly seeking and confessing.  He waits for you.  It does not have to be under a blanket of stars in a yard or even outside.  He waits wherever you are at this moment, even in a jail cell and dwelling in your own personal hell.

The Lord waits for you too – no matter who you are or what you’ve done – to call on Him for a new start to a new life, and to BELIEVE in Him. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

 

Charles P. Wilson, my Dad, about 18 years old.

Charles P. Wilson, my Dad, about 18 years old.

My earliest memories were when I was in the hospital, and many of them were actually pleasant memories. I can easily recall my dad (and mom too) visiting me every day, always with a big smile on his face and plenty of hugs and kisses to give, and gifts. He always told me to keep smiling, no matter what happens. Then, when that part of my life was over with, I was lovingly encouraged to walk and live a normal, happy childhood.

As I grew up, my dad and I were always close, and we went everywhere together. He’d take me to pony-rides, lakes, the beach, and many other places. And when I was sick he took me to the five-and-dime for a toy just to cheer me up when I was stuck home. Everywhere I lived there was always a swing in the back yard, a bike, and a puppy. As a teen, he’d get me out of school just to take me to lunch in Cape May, and he trusted me enough to drive his super-truck. We always had the same interests and tastes too. I was very much a daddy’s-little-girl all my life.

He was always very loving, giving hugs and kisses whenever asked for, and not just to me but to any of my cousins and aunts as well. They all have their own special story to tell about Chuckie, and how generous and kind he was to all.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he purposely held on long enough to see his baby granddaughter, Dink. Little Dink had an immediate bond with him, and gave him all the kisses and hugs – and french fries – he wanted, and was often the only one who could make him smile sometimes in the midst of his pain.

(insert baby pic)

The other most important and precious memories I have to keep in my heart are my dad’s little life lessons. Dad always had a smile on his face and said it was important to always be joyful and to Love the Lord, regardless of life circumstances, and to never think a mean thought about anyone else, ever.

My dad left this life with a peaceful heart, and anticipated seeing the Lord Jesus. Nothing in anyone’s life is more precious than peace with the Loving Father in the heart, and the smile that God’s love puts in the eyes and upon the lips for all to see. My dad’s life reflected the Lord’s kindness, generosity, and unconditional love. I am very proud he was my dad, and his legacy will live on forever in all of us that had the privilege of knowing him.

My dad and I, when I was about 16.

My dad and I, when I was about 16.

That is his legacy!   What is yours?

Interview with yours truly……by Marie Gilbert

Now you may understand where it all started! :)

South Jersey invades the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference

A great time had by the South Jersey Writers Group!!!

Proud to say the writer’s group I started 7 years ago is going forward with the 2nd Anthology of short stories, also a great mix of genres. I am so proud to be part of such a talented group of artists who can weave memorable and enjoyable stories, and many of them will become famous – I know it! If you haven’t already, you can order the 1st one (shown below) through me or on Amazon.com! It’s not too late!

I hope you’ll consider contributing to the future success of some great authors as we share more great tales from South Jersey. And in this 2nd book there will also be the winning entry of our first ever SJ Writer’s Group Contest!! Good luck to all the writers who enter!

The minimal donation is $1.00 and there are great prizes for higher donations, of course. The link is below. The best part is contributing to the world of art, something that touches each of us in different but equally edifying ways.

My gratitude in advance,

Janice Wilson

South Jersey Writers’ Group 2014 Anthology

http://www.kickstarter.com

The South Jersey Writers’ Group is publishing a second anthology, and we’re looking to take our publishing game to the next level.

Catching you up…..

I couldn’t have guessed that the setting sun would grab my attention this intensely on this last day of 2010.  It isn’t the most beautiful or lingering one tonight.  The sun ducks behind approaching rain clouds quickly, forgetting to show off the colors and awes I love to see.  I have to stand by the cold front door and remember warmer nights with brightly painted skies by the sea. 

But it is only fitting that this is short and steely cold long before the daylight is gone.  The year’s last evening didn’t deserve the prettiest sunset.  It had been a bleak year and though many wrinkles were worked out over time, it still ended with a lot of uncertainty for the future.  It’s been like this for 8 months, with a few varying steep peaks that had to be climbed, leaving me stranded for periods on deserted mesas, and I couldn’t get off and move forward. I was stuck.

In a spiritual sense I know my future is firmly protected and safe within my faith in the Lord but in a physical sense it is a very flat and brown and dry landscape that seems to go on past the horizon line, with only rough and deep seas beyond that. 

Yes, the sun will still shine behind the clouds tomorrow, and I know I may have another 365 days to make life worth living somehow.  I plan to start it right with visits to family and then a job interview on Monday, with hope of that being the last interview for a long time due to fortunate employment. 

As I sip warm wine tonight and watch the crowded Time’s Square ritual on my TV, I ponder why we think that just because a calendar year had ended that we should be acting wild and crazy to celebrate it.  Why not celebrate each day like this?  A time may come when we wish we could.

Time is seamless to the clock, so shouldn’t my joy and hope be as well?  This is definitely something I should work on – my daily reflection of my daily attitudes instead of my annual ones.  Time is seamless and eternal from where the Lord sits, so I should spend much more time thinking of what’s ahead and how to be part of that GREAT BIG PLAN HE HAS instead of my measly one that doesn’t go past the horizon line every night at sunset.

Indeed the sun set down on a lousy, short-minded way to view life. I vow to see the sunset in the days ahead as merely rest time from all the neat things I’ll get to do in the future while here and living, and so much more than that when I’m gone.

Now as I look out to the west one last time to see that the sky suddenly lit up with vivid streaks of fuchsia and salmon colors. 

Sun sets on a new outlook.

In changing my own outlook and mood, I am immediately and unexpectedly rewarded with a colorful landscape to end this day after all, and more hopeful 365 + tomorrows.

 

“Weeping may endure for a night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning…” Psalm 30:5b

“Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 2:12c

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: