Childhood

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CHILDHOOD

Chair in the corner of the dining room,

and Daddy sitting in it, and only the orange glow from the ashes,

and gray puffs of smoke,

gave any signal of human presence.

Otherwise it was just the darkness and a chair in the corner,

otherwise it was just daddy in the dark and all alone.

I watched the firelight from the cigarette, as a child,

and wondered why the night was so black,

and why Daddy was so alone, and why voices rang out in the night.

I thought of Mama in the next room sleeping,

and I wondered why I was so small, and why Mama and Daddy never laughed.

And I felt like the night, cold,

and like Daddy,

and like Mama.

so all alone.

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

 

My poetry book “Life at the End of the Rainbow” is currently available at Amazon/Kindle. I would love to hear any feedback about my poetry. Thanks.

-Jenny

 

Onward to 2020

 

 

 

 

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2020 is just around the corner and I am inspired to focus on what I can accomplish in those 365 days. In years past, I wasted far too much time looking back at my mistakes and mulling over my regrets. I have come to realize that life is about ups and downs, successes and failures. Sometimes I  win; sometimes I lose. That is just the natural rhythm of life. In this post-modern age we have unrealistic expectations that there is some “perfect” state of being we are supposed to become. It is a taboo to admit that we are sad,  angry, lonely, confused or otherwise not “centered” and “mindful.” We are supposed to be “enlightened,” whatever that is supposed to mean.

The truth is that it is emotionally, spiritually, and physically messy to be human. There is no perfect state of being. I say it is more emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy to just fess up to the hard truth that our lives are not always going to be perfect. There are going to be those inevitable days that we veer off the road and land in the ditch. There are going to be those inevitable days that we just want to sit in the dark and cry. There are going to be those days that we order a large sugary, five-thousand calorie coffee drink from our favorite coffee shop and top it off with a side order of a three thousand calorie chocolate infused pastry. There are going to be those days your mouth opens up and your true thoughts spew out and the sound of your escaping words sound very, very ugly.  Life is very, very messy, indeed.

We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. In this upcoming year, my focus is going to be on the future not the past. I have promised myself that if I do make mistakes (and I will inevitably) I will pick myself up and brush myself off and show grace and forgiveness to myself. Maybe in some circles that attitude would qualify me as “enlightened.” I think it just qualifies me as showing self-compassion.

In 2020, my goals include finishing up my writing projects and publishing my work. 365 days are a lot of days. I promise myself not to procrastinate. What is my passion? Writing is my passion. If I don’t focus on my passion I have no one else to blame but myself, after all I am in charge of my own life. I claim 2020 as my year to succeed in my goals. I set my sights on the future.

The writer George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) wrote “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN.”

Actor John Wayne said “COURAGE IS BEING SCARED TO DEATH-AND SADDLING UP ANYWAY.”

We are all scared in this life. If you are not scared you must not be paying very close attention. It is a very scary world. It is also a beautiful, wonderful world filled with kind people.  Surround yourself with beauty and kindness. Be the change you want to see.

Just as John Wayne said, I plan to saddle up in spite of my fear. Just as Eliot (Evans) wrote, I plan to be who I want to be.

Happy 2020 to everyone! Have a blessed New Year!

Copyright 2019 Jenny W. Andrews

 

Source for quotes:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes

Surviving Cancer: My Brother

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Many of you might remember that last fall I posted that my brother Harold had been diagnosed with Stage Three lung cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation which was, of course, not easy. My brother is twenty-one years older than I am. I am the seventh and final child in my family and interestingly I was born on my parents’ twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. My brother has always been a second father to me. I have depended on him throughout my life; the thought of losing him last year was devastating to me. I begged God not to take him from me.

Today, my brother celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday. For this birthday blessing, I praise God. Each day is a blessing because none of us are promised tomorrow. Each day is God’s gift to us. Cancer makes that fact abundantly clear.

My cousin Libby, pictured between my brother and me, is also a cancer survivor. She had a rare form of uterine cancer when she was twenty-eight years old; she just turned seventy-six in November.  Birthdays are blessings, indeed.

Of course, one day we all leave this earth and go back to God from whence we came. That is inevitable. It is just the cycle of life. This reality should motivate us rather than depress us. In the limited time that we have on this earth, we should be motivated to do good, show compassion, love fully, forgive, and be thankful for the gifts and the life that God has blessed each of us with. It is not easy, of course, to always feel happiness. Sometimes the darkness falls heavily on each us and we dwell in a dank and bottomless abyss from which we fear that we will never escape. But, we will because there is God who loves us and is never far from us. God is with us in our struggles; God is with us when we are down in the abyss. He is with us in the sunlight and in the dark of night.

My mother Gracie Lee died of spinal cancer in 1993 at seventy-two years old and my sister Sara Jo died of brain cancer in 1991 at forty-nine years old. Trust me with I say that those were the darkest days of my life losing my precious mother and my beautifully amazing sister. Cancer is cruel; it is ugly and it is unrelenting in its devastation. I begged God back then to spare my mother and my sister. I blamed God when they died. I told Him that I wasn’t going to speak to Him ever again. Like a good father, God  let me rant and He waited with open arms when I ran back to Him. His love is unfathomable, it knows no boundaries. His love and His forgiveness is all-encompassing.

Today, I sat across the table from brother at his favorite restaurant and watched him enjoy his Chicken Tortilla soup. I remember him when his hair was black and now it is white like snow. I remember when he used to drop me off at my elementary school over fifty years ago, now. Time doesn’t wait for any us. Today, I lingered in the precious moments of this day, my brother’s seventy-ninth birthday, and thought just how blessed we are on this earth to have life, to be able to survive the suffering, to be able to laugh in spite of the pain.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. There will always be that inevitable ending looming in the distance. I choose to let that fact motivate me to celebrate each rising sun as a blessing.

I turn my heart toward God, lift up hands, bow my head and praise Him for this day and for all the days to come. I give Him my fears and my hopes and trust that no matter what is to come He will be with me, that He will lead me and those whom I love Home to that place where there will no longer be any suffering. I believe that one day I will see my family again in that place beyond this plane of existence.

My heart is filled with thankfulness.

 

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

 

 

Thanksgiving, Everyday

 

 

 

 

 

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Outside my window,  leaves of the pear trees and the oak trees have changed to brilliant hues of orange, gold, and crimson. Robin’s egg blue skies streaked with cottony white clouds remind me of the absolute beauty and wonder of this life. God has made us a perfect world with splendor beyond our comprehension if only we would take the time to just be still and open our eyes and look at what He has created. From the ancient oak branches in my back yard, red cardinals, eastern bluebirds, and clay colored sparrows alight and then wing across the vast expanse of this late November horizon. Cool winds waft through my open window, I watch a gray squirrel scurry down the gray bark of the water oak. The squirrel, like a chameleon, blended almost perfectly with the shades and shadows of the water oak’s bark. Such beauty! Such splendor on this calm morning. For too many years, I failed to take the time to just rest and to just be.

Life presents us with a myriad of twists and turns, wounds and sorrows, joys and victories. A truth that I have learned is that there will always be sorrow, there will always be wounds, but time moves forward and if I just keep moving along with my eyes firmly fixed toward God I will have victory and I will have joy. I have accepted the truth that the world is already perfect; I have accepted the truth that God in His infinite wisdom has placed me exactly where I am supposed to be. I am His child and I am perfect just as I am.

On this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for another day to sit at my window and watch the splendor and majesty of God’s world unfurl in crimson, gold, and robin’s egg blue. I am thankful that I can feel the sunshine on my skin and that I can feel the coolness of the November winds wafting through my open window. I am thankful that God loves me and that I am never alone.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and it is a disturbing fact that the holidays are a time of sadness and depression for many people. There is an unrealistic expectation that everyone will be seated around the dinner table with family and friends. Unfortunately this is not always the case. There are plenty of people for whom  the holidays are just a reminder of bad memories. Not everyone has joyous memories of “family.” This is a sad fact, but it is a true one.

This holiday season if you are feeling depressed, please trust that God is forever with you. If your sadness is overwhelming, please reach out to others. Other people do care. Family isn’t necessarily those with whom you share a bloodline. Take a walk in nature. Look up at the blueness of the sky, listen to the song of birds in the tree branches, write down your feelings. Remember that God loves you beyond measure and that you are never alone. You are here in this world for a purpose that God has designed. You are valuable; you are God’s child.

I am thankful everyday for another day to see the beauty of the world around me.

It is a beautiful day.

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

Perspective

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This is the first time in about a month that I have sat down and wrote anything.

About five years ago I moved into my new house and left boxes of my old diaries in the garage. Fear of revisiting the past kept me from looking into those pages written so long ago. Almost forty years of my life is documented in those small diaries.

After I celebrated a milestone birthday, I decided to clear out the clutter and organize my diaries by year and put them in pretty photo boxes I bought at a craft store. I labeled the boxes by years. From being a young adult intoxicated by the promise of love to a middle aged woman disappointed by dreams that disintegrated in mid-air, I feel shocked by the power of love, the profound depth of despair, the soul-crushing weight of  betrayal, the mind-numbing repetition of mistakes, and the power of God’s redemption and grace, that have encompassed my existence on this earth.

Why was I so afraid to revisit that long ago world that I had once inhabited?

Fear that I would be reminded of all those dreams that never came true? Fear that I would be reminded of that one love I walked away from and while doing so I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life? Fear that I would be able to connect the dots in that web of deception that my youth had blinded me to? Fear that in retrospect I would hear the whisper of my own voice and get swallowed up by the sorrow over my own voicelessness?

I have spent the past four weeks reading through my diaries. At times, I have cried; at times, I have laughed. I honestly cannot believe that I was that young once. I honestly cannot  believe that I had been so very trusting. I cannot believe the courage that God granted me in the face of the sorrow; I cannot believe the strength that He fortified me with. In retrospect, this life that God has blessed me with is a miracle; it is a miracle that I am still standing after all the sorrow, hurt, loss, and darkness.

Yes, I have taken my diaries and put them in photo boxes and organized them by year. I plan to work on my memoir this coming week. I plan to get back to my writing. I feel in my heart that God has given me the gift of words. He has shown me that I need to extend compassion to myself. He has shown me that the passage of time is a learning experience. He has shown me that His hand is always upon me no matter how dark the night.

Copyright 2019 Jenny W. Andrews

 

 

 

I Stepped Away

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I Stepped Away

Dream, haunting, hunted me down, dark of night.

No longer afraid of that place, it moves faraway on a fast fall down a tunnel, black hole, slippery hand lets go.

I turn away from the dark; life lights up like the break of day.

I can never be who I used to be. 

Climbed, crawled out of the tunnel-sealed it with a kick. My foot print emblazoned in that dark place at the edge of the abyss.

I stepped away.

Jenny W. Andrews, Copyright 2019. All Rights reserved.