January 21, 2015

Gray Days, Yard Work and a Whole Lot of Hope



     What a wet foggy morning it is! The temp is only about 58 degrees, the sun is hiding somewhere in the mist and everything outside is wet. Too yucky to do anything outside! I look out from my breakfast table window onto my backyard. Past the patio table I see all the brush that Kim cleaned out of the back jungle just before he had to return to work. There it lays on the grass…trashing up the backyard. The jungle still isn’t under control though it was beginning to take on a cleaner look. Lots of tall, out of control wild trees had grown up throughout the summer months like Jack’s beanstalk. If my back wasn’t in such bad shape I’d get out there and at least move the brush to the side of the road. Then, the city guys could haul it off for us.
     Then, standing at my kitchen sink, I look out the window and see overgrown bushes obstructing my view of the street and neighborhood. I enjoy watching the little kids walking home from school or keeping an eye out for anything interesting going on in the streets. Now, all I see is an occasional brown bird or lizard in the branches of the green leaves outside my window. I just realized that the leaves on those bushes never turn brown. I supposed that should be a glimmer of hope to know there is still life out there.
     Ever since we moved into this house about 11 years ago, the yard has been a trial for us to maintain. It is a large corner lot and very pretty when it is trimmed and mowed. There used to be 21 trees on this lot, but with hurricanes, bugs, and the occasional roots just letting go, we might have about 11 trees left. Previous owners had planted several bushes and scrubs on the grounds showing their love of yard work. Kim, not a fan of yard work, but wanting to save money, immediately vetoed the use of the lawn service the previous owner had offered. At first, Kim did a pretty decent job of keeping the grass mowed. That was until he began to have some health issues.  Then, job requirements were taking up a lot of his time and in general, he was not able to keep up with the always growing grass. One day Kim hired a yard crew to catch up in the overgrown yard. They were so quick and neat, edging the sidewalks, trimming below the tree trunks and clearing the clippings from sight. Even the jungle which was not part of the deal, looked better. Also, it wasn’t as costly as Kim had thought. It was worth it just to get it done neatly and spare Kim the trouble. Even with Kim’s health problems under control, he has continued to hire a crew to work in our yard. 
     Now in the winter months the yard is somewhat dormant, while it waits for spring. The yard guys are not coming since there is virtually no grass to cut. The grass is brownish in color and the weeds miraculously show themselves by turning very brown in contrast to the green bushes they once entangled. There is still much more lovely green color than one would expect in January. The birds that have flown here from the colder winter temperatures up north, will gather here and there to nibble the red berries clustered in the plants. A fun sight to see is when the blackbirds or robins are returning home up north and they stop over in our yards to eat. The chirping birds fill the lawns like traveling companions stopping at a diner along their journey. 
     Even though my yard is a trashcan of dead weeds and leaves now, it still has much to offer. The squirrels while in a sleepy mode, appear to enjoy running about gathering the nuts or seeds they can find. For now their dinner is visible, unhidden in the spaces where once leaves had covered their food. The birds and squirrels make a fuss high in the branches above my cats walking out into the back jungle on expedition. Being just far enough from city noises, my neighborhood is normally quiet with only the occasional sounds of playing children. But on a damp, foggy day like today, even the sounds of the nearby school are abnormally silent as I’m sure the children are inside reading and working math problems. Life goes on.
     One of these days soon, I’m sure that Kim will find the time to get in the yard and complete his job. I hope he can do that before the new spring foliage begins to sprout making the task more difficult. However, even if the dead weeds, branches and grass doesn’t get cleaned up anytime soon, it’ll be okay. These gray gloomy sort of days gives me a chance to reflect on life. It’s in these times I think about life, loved ones who are gone and I’m reminded of a great day of redemption to come. God in his glory and Christ on the throne are looking out for us all. The Holy Spirit living inside of us gives me hope of a brighter day. The Spirit through God has it all under control even in a gloomy world of brown and gray.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV)

December 17, 2014

Ouiji Board Predictions

It was about 1963 when 3 preteen girls playing with a Ouiji board at a slumber party, that one of them asked the board "what year will I get married?"  To my surprise it lead us through 4 numerals, 1974. I do not have any idea  how the Ouiji board works, nor do I believe in magic future-predicting boards manufactured by Parker Brothers. On December 21, 1974 I married Harold Kelly Martin, III (Kim). Coincidence? Maybe, but to tell the truth, shortly after I graduated from college that August, we decided when Kim finished his fall semester and his senior directing project, it would be a good time to get married...and it happened to still be 1974.

When I met Kim Martin it was 1971 and we were in college at Abilene Christian College (now ACU). Having completed my freshman year at ACC, I was now a sophmore when Kim, an incoming freshman, walked into the choir hall. I noticed this tall, lanky, dark-haired guy who had an endearing almost shy persona. Although, in spiite of first impressions, he walked with confidence appearing focused on the class. Making no introductions to me that first day, I don't know if he even noticed a blonde-haired girl checking him out. He was good looking and I wondered why he was wearing a worn faded red hoodie with a yellow ribbon tied to the hood pull. I later learned the yellow ribbon was from a girl he would soon forget all about.

The fall of 1971 got cold fast. I was dating a smart-mouthed redheaded guy who was just fun to hang out with. Jimmy and I played in the snow on the lawn of Abilene Christian High School that adjoined the college campus. He was hiliarious, made me laugh and paid a lot of attendtion to me, but I could see this relationship had no depth. After lunch in "The Bean" (the college cafeteria), Jimmy walked me to choir where Kim and another guy who would later ask me out, were waiting for class to begin.

Memory still shows me that other boy's face in my mind, but I cannot even remember his name. Not long after Jimmy and I had called it quits, my nameless classmate sent a request inquiring if I'd go out with him. Now that I think about it, I believe the invitation came by way of a girlfriend. He was a sweet, shy guy in the choir, but I declined his offer to go on a date. I don't really remember the details, I just know I did not go out with him. Years later I would learn from Kim that he only had the guts to ask me out because he thought I was nice to go out with such a plain guy. So, naturally he thought I'd go out with him. (Who by no means was "plain"). True confessions: I felt like a heel because I wasn't the nice girl he thought. I had not gone out with that sweet boy after all because he really was rather plain.

Kim was a theater major in the fall homecoming musical which in 1971 was "Camelot". He had already auditioned and was cast in the play by the time a request for more singers was sent to the choir. I thought it would be fun and signed on to sing in some of the scenes. As it turned out I sang in two different scenes. One was with about 4 other girls on a backstage microphone on the song, "Follow Me" and the other song, "Guenevere" was performed onstage costumed in a black scroud standing high up on scaffoling with the additonal chorus. What a fun time I had! I'd performed some on stage in choirs from elementary through high school, but I'd never been in a big musical like this. As the rehearsal process of the play continued, I met a lot of new friends and had fun talking to the backstage crew guys on stage-right where I hung out. As the performance dates approached, we were all told to begin staying in the green room until our entrances. So, I had to give up friendly conversations with the stage manager and move to the green room with other friends. One of the guys waiting in the green room, Ron, I had met in choir, or maybe another class, it's hard to recall after 40 years. Although, it could have been that I met him through one of my girlfriends in the dorm who knew Ron from her hometown church in Oklahoma. Anyway, Ron was the only other person sitting in the green room that I knew. We enjoyed visiting until our entrances to go on stage. Through the course of our time in the green room, another guy would join us from time to time and my friend, Ron, introduced me to the tall, lanky dark-haired guy who had strolled confidently into my choir class at the start of the semester. Kim Martin was cute, sweet and from the beginning we seemed to make a connection.

Shortly after the play closed, my friend, Ron, asked me out on a date to a movie. We had a good time, but that was the last date we had for no particular reason and would remain friends. By the close of "Camelot", Kim and I were friends. He saved us seats to sit together at the closing cast party on the empty stage of the Abilene Civic Center. Still we had not been on a date yet. Then, "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" came to the Abilene Coliseum and a friend of a friend (blind date) asked me out to see the concert. Shortly after I had accepted the concert date, I got a phone call in my dorm from Kim. He also invited me to go with him to the concert. I told him I already had a date. It happened that another dormitory friend from Baytown, knew Kim from her hometown church, Missouri Street Church of Christ. I told her when I got the invitation from Kim that I really didn't want to turn him down, but I couldn't break the date I already had accepted. I also told her I really hoped Kim would ask me out again. She saw Kim one day and told him how disappointed I was that I already had a date and couldn't go with him. Shortly after that and before the concert, my dormitory had an Open House when the guys could come in to see our rooms. Kim came to see me and he asked me to go to church with him. I have forgotten so much about that blind date, but I can still remember the clothes that Kim was wearing and which church we attended that Wednesday night. After that is history. 

Not that it was all candy and roses, we managed to stay together through good times, misundertandings, fun in the snow and Kim's romantic roles on stage. I learned that I can be a jealous person. That's another story for another time. We did, however, break up only for a few weeks and found we were miserable apart; well, I was anyway. Then, on December 21, after my graduation in 1974, we  married. Just like the old Ouiji board had predicted. It's been the ride of a lifetime with this confident Martin man. The years have been an entertaining, frustrating, loving, rewarding, hectic work evolving two people into one. Kim and I could never stop working on our marriage because we are ever changing, therefore, our marriage paradigm is ever changing, too. We have a much deeper relationship than when we first met at ACU, but as we evolve there are still things to learn about each other. As our love continues to grow, we are committed to a successful marriage. 40 years! Yes, it is a long time to stay with one person, but when you commit for a lifetime, 40 years isn't long at all. I can not imagine life without Kim. It's just not possible. He is my mate and consistent love for the remaining days of my life. And to think, the journey all started with a Ouiji board. Or, did it?

December 21, 2014 in San Antonio, TX.

December 5, 2014

Too Much Facebook

Today I started to post my "status update" to Facebook when I realized that my "friends" know too many details about my personal life. Why do I feel the need to tell them I'm struggling with my weight and counting calories again? It surprises me when I see a friend somewhere in town or another city and he/she knows all about my family, my thoughts, and what activites I've done lately. They even know about my cats and my son's dog who lives with us.  Although, it really should not surprise me. After all, I posted dirty laundry and all on Facebook for the world to see. Why would I do that?

My blog has suffered since I got on Facebook. Entries to Etxgirl.blogspot.com are fewer than when I first began the blog due to spending too much time writing status updates sometimes 3 to 4 times daily and reading everyone elses posts. What was left for me to write about? It occured to me that the need to write about what is going on in my life was the whole reason I began a blog. The blog is an outlet to process thoughts and "tell" people about me, my life. It also occured to me that is the reason I stay on Facebook so much. Even more intoxicating is the instant response I receive in comments from my friends on Facebook. It is the addictive nature in me to check in to see who has commented on a post or a picture I shared. To my detriment, my curiosity can't wait to read later what has been commented on by my friends.

So, I have decided that instead of checking Facebook daily I will allow myself a weekly check in or update, then log off after each checkin. I am impressed by friends who are never on Facebook or who read but do not post. They show great self control in my opinon. Also, I'm sure they never watch serial TV with multiple episodes just because they can. That's another thing I have a tendency to do, binge TV watching of a particular series. That, however, is a subject for another blog. 

My hope is by spending less time online, my daily tasks will be completed. Typing up a story a couple of times a week or month (I'll see how it goes.) will give me the satisfaction of telling about something that has happened in my life or family. Also, by limiting myself, I hope to not devulge so many personal details that really should be kept to myself or close family. 

Today I started counting caloriess I put into my system each day. This is not new, but a reoccuring activity for me. My life is full of do-overs. Weight has been a struggle all of my life. Self control is not one of my strong points. That is why I was drinking too much several years ago. The over-drinking is under control now. It is clear to me that I tend to binge on quick self-gratifying things like drinking, eating, and watching TV marthons of my favorite characters. Television "friends" are a little like Facebook friends. They are not really here for me. It can't be healthy for me to spend so much time with digital friends.

Finally, I want to deepen my relationship with Jesus. Maybe cutting back on Facebook or any other social media will aide in that endeavor. Our church family are loving people, but I'm often too judgemental of them. As Christians we are called to serve others in need and to love one another. I see my church community serving where I am not. They love each other enough to gather 2 or 3 times weekly with each other. My daily interaction with Facebook friends will not grow my faith or love of God's children. I know what I have to do and pray for the self control to do it.

Lord God, forgive my foolish ways. Help me, help others. Amen