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Linda Safford

One True Thing

I did it again. I returned to Fairhope, Alabama for a mini vacation and writing time. There’s something in the air that gets my creative juices flowing and my fingers easily hitting the keys and filling the page with words when I’m there. Words that actually form good thoughts and a well meaning story. I happened to run into two famous authors who are both as down to earth as dirt. After purchasing a book and taking a rainy walk through town, I settled in to write. It’s become my routine when I visit Fairhope to walk through the town, into the neighborhoods, and by the bay.

Driving out of town this time, I headed south and found a beautiful chapel with a sign that read, “Open for Prayer.” I know I can pray anywhere and at any time but this little spot drew me in and I knew I had an appointment with the Lord. How do you talk to the Lord but to confess first? I did. He does lift a load of burdens and I felt free again as I walked out.

I grabbed my phone to photograph the little chapel but the light was not right. So as I headed back to the car and focused on the tall steeple of the main church building. Blindly, because the sun was so bright, I snapped a shot. God framed a perfect shot with clouds and sunlight. It was the highest point on the property so no tree cast any shadows. He led me to the high point to focus on the things that matter.

As I finished one of the books I took along on my mini vacation, I knew my time had been to remember, as was mentioned in the book, “My one true thing.” It feels good to be free from the things that were causing me to lose my momentum in life. We have to be honest and who can escape honesty when we bow before the Lord and confess?

It’s not about that particular church or the beautiful setting. I need not step foot back into a church to move ahead in the walk set before me. It’s not the place but the design of my heart. It’s the moving out from shades and shadows into the place where the light is so bright, when I try to capture the moment, there is no telling how it will come out. But I press the button anyway. Maybe that’s faith? Actually I’m sure it is faith.

Quality moments can come when we least expect them or plan for them. As much as I love being in Fairhope, the real quality time came in those few moments at the end of my visit. I’ll be back, always ready to learn, to write, and know above all there is one true thing in my life.

St Francis at the Point

Purple Power

A little girl sat in a class room with everyone painting sunflowers. Of course they would paint sunflowers — yellow flowers reached skyward in a field outside their window. But this little girl, with brown curly locks, saw the world in shades of purple. She allowed yellow and green but purple must be in charge. She worked, not diligently, but with carefree strokes and declared there would always be purple sunflowers in her world.

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And this, still, is love…

Marriage can be beautiful one day and extremely ugly the next. A couple is raw — bared open before each other where no blemish is covered. We try to patch and cover up for community and family. But both, in this union of one, see. We know the raw.

We stay together and work through even when we walk the same path over and over and never find the solution to the problem. When we have the same discussion and we listen to find no solution. We make amends without solution. And this is love…

We admit failure, fear, dread, longings, wishes, dreams, burdens, and disappointments. We forgive, for the same offense, over and over. We try to remember what grace and mercy look like in a relationship. It’s hard to see it when we’ve not shared it, experienced it together, given grace and mercy to one another. When bitterness, strife, and disrespect take center stage we pull apart. And this, still, is love…

How could that be love? It hurts. Yes, it hurts to the core. Loneliness is love? Where did we go? What happened to the love and intimacy of our first days? When we feel we are no longer attached and attracted physically, we are attached and attracted emotionally and spiritually. Yet this gets in the way. The emotion, our spirits, or own physical self gets in the way of our being physical. We work through, we dislike each other, we scream, yell, and fight to find the way back. We don’t give up. It looks ugly, feels ugly, is lonesome, and polarizing. And, yes again, this is love…

The path that never finds the solution, the way you continue to say goodnight, the decision to not walk out, knowing love is not roses, candy, and long walks on the beach. Things are not love. Actions are love. Movement that keeps you from giving up. Love is carrying a dream, a hope, a burden with someone. Admitting and forgiving for the numbered times of which you’ve lost track and more.

Love is raw, pure, ugly, hard, and beautiful. It is worth the work, the sorrow, the grief, the anger, the disappointment. We are worth the work of love.

Outside…

Life is amazing and death sucks. That’s my initial thought on a comparison of the two. But it’s really not true. Death brings, in my faith belief, new life that is eternal with One who loves us and redeemed us. All things are new and perfect. For the ones left behind, to continue to live is a journey. So many thoughts and feelings on death, grief, and finding your way without the one you love. This morning a friend posted on Facebook a very mindful perspective for grasping life while another friend, last evening, posted a beautiful sunset. Both touched me and reminded me of the peace and zest for life I have when involving myself in nature, in the beauty of the earth and skies.

 

 

I live near the sparkling white beaches and emerald waters of the Gulf Coast of Florida.  Inland we have peaceful bayous.  After my father died, I was drawn to the bayou at sunset.  Not only did I feel close to him, remembering all the times he took me mullet fishing as a kid, but the sunsets and amazing artwork of God in the evening skies brought peace to my soul.  I sat there in silence and I did, as the picture suggests, contemplate how amazing life is, how amazing his life was, and all that my life continues to be.

Being alone with God, in nature, is the most fitting way I have found to worship Him.  I breathe in the salt air, or the air in the woods along my favorite creek, and feel my soul being energized.  God is with us and He is certainly with me in nature.  I am encouraged as anxiety and stress from life drifts away.

No matter where you are on this journey of life, take a minute and immerse yourself in the stillness of nature, the beauty of a sunset, the power of an evening storm, and contemplate how life is truly amazing.

Thanks to Lisa Yates and Stephanie Redmond for the use of their pictures for this post.

 

 

On the Occasion of Love

wedding kiss

The root of love
is twined by truth
Warmed through
kind words
Fueled with passion
Nurtured in faithfulness

Love remains fresh
renewed with hearts
moving forward
wrapping the past
in the blanket of
forgiveness

We feel love
and we learn love
We choose the one
who chooses us
and love moves
fluidly through our days

Do not wane, love
keep us twined
everlasting
ever forgiving
forever nurtured
in respect and faithfulness

Perfect Storm

It’s the perfect storm. Rumbling thunder sounds of a Saturday night bowling alley with folks clad in ugly shoes and sliding balls down a bumpy lane. A pecan tree’s branches hang low with the weight of saturated leaves and limbs. Lightning flickers like a slow neon sign, old and barely working.  Just a glimmer now and then.  Festive party lights sway in the wind.

MuseBefore the rain came I went to breakfast with the local folks. Award winning writers
among them, not sure. You can be sure
they love good food. Large plates passed with eggs, grits, bacon, and biscuits as I enjoyed my own. I watched the sky grow almost as dark as the Community Coffee in my cup.

Fairhope, the quaint Eastern Shore town, is my muse today. I’m snuggled in a yellow and grey blanket on a buttery soft leather sofa. The TV is on but the volume is mute. Keeping up with the weather map. Storms on the coast can boil up and take over a morning but clear to skies filled with soft white clouds and sunshine for the afternoon.

Whether the rain continues or the sun brightens the day, I have a story to work on. Frank’s in the hospital, heart attack while in the arms of his lover. His best friend who is also his wife’s best friend tries to keep her from pulling the plug on his oxygen. The nurses are threatening her with security measures all the while giving her the go-ahead with their eyes. One speaks up, bold in her approach to healing, “Honey, let him live through this. You have more control over his agony at home.”

Need to go now and see if Frank makes it. Storm or clear skies?

Football Love

Just finishing breakfast this morning and an alert from Walmart pops up on my phone. “NFL Playoffs are coming up! Buy a new TV!”

I had to laugh and recount the story of Super Bowl XII played on January 15, 1978. Daddy and I were taking care of ourselves. Mama was in Rhode Island with my sister and her newborn daughter. Exciting times with Mama’s first flight, my sister’s first baby and first grand baby in our family. But for Daddy and me, the excitement on January 15 was that our beloved Dallas Cowboys were returning to the Super Bowl. I don’t recall what we ate that day or what the weather was doing. But nearing time for the game to begin our RCA console TV gave up the ghost. It had given warning signs that the end was near but we had no idea it would flatline so quickly or on Super Bowl Sunday!

Daddy looked at me and I looked at Daddy and we both wondered what Mama would say. We knew what had to be done. We knew we might be in trouble with her when she returned from Rhode Island but The Cowboys were about to play The Broncos. We were not going to miss it!

We jumped in the Ford LTD, powered by 450 horses, and headed to Gayfers to buy a new TV. I’m not sure why Gayfers was the choice except it was a straight shot down the highway – Michigan Avenue to Brent Lane, to Bayou Boulevard. There, at the corner of Cordova Mall, stood our path to victory — the goal line — the TV department!

We watched the game and cheered the Cowboys on to a 27-10 lead over the Denver Broncos. The game was played in the Superdome in New Orleans.

I look back on that day and smile. Yes, Walmart, a new TV was required. Not because of NFL playoffs and your need to cash in on an event. But because it was football, the Super Bowl, Daddy, me, and the Cowboys.

Not sure if the Cowboys will make it this year. The best season they have had in a long time has been led by Dak Prescott. Here’s hoping they are in it once again. I’ll be watching and hoping Daddy can see the game from his great view in heaven.

Moral to the story? What do you think,  dear readers? Leave me a comment.

The Last Seven Steps of Parenting

rope

Parenting is not easy. When we come to the point where parenting is no longer required we may struggle in finding the right relationship with our young adults. I certainly don’t have all the answers but these seven things have been on my mind for a while.

Step One:

Recognize your age and their age. It is age. A number of years counted of your existence and theirs. Age does not give power. Age is, again, the number of years of existence.

Step Two:

Walk a mile in their shoes. Your young adults are fully capable of making decisions. They know their situation and its parameters. Remember when you faced a problem or decision and you had the full capability to solve it? You may have been as young as sixteen. Give them credit to do the same when they are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Step Three:

Don’t say, “Oh but you don’t know my child!” Again, young adults should not be called children. While age is just the number of years one has existed, as a society, we group and label by numbers. My son or my daughter are great terms to show their relation to you.

Step Four:

“Back when I was your age”… here we go again. Do I need to write more? Yes, let me say leave the past in the past and live for today. Tomorrow? It will worry about itself. Jesus said this and a number of wise men and women have phrased the same thought in all major religions of the world. Live in the present and allow your young adult to do the same.

Step Five:

Look at your young adult for the person they have become and do not look to see who you hoped they would become. Respect their sphere of influence and their space. You may or may not be invited into this place. They are moving ahead in life just as you did. Or maybe they will move ahead as you did not and be in a different place. IT’S OK.

Step Six:

Give advice if you are asked. Temper the advice with love and understanding. It is perfectly acceptable for you to say, “You’ve got this. You don’t need my advice. I believe in you and your decisions.”

Step Seven:
Time now to focus on yourself and your life goals and let go of the last thread you hold to your young adult. Tie in to a new hobby, education, travel, or raise the remaining budding young adults in your home. Look to your success and be proud of the young adult in your life.

A LeeLee

My “grandmother” name is LeeLee.  It actually began as the name my nephew called me while trying to say, Linda. When my daughter shared the exciting news of her pregnancy, the name LeeLee was agreed to be the perfect “granny” name for me.

Carsey is not quite a year old now and she can say Mama, Dada, Pawpaw, and A LeeLee.  We were not sure if this was her saying LeeLee or not.  Possibly just some words coming out as she babbles and plays.

Back in July when I had to say goodbye to Carsey in Texas, I sang Carole King’s song, You’ve Got a Friend.  But to make it special for Carsey and me, I changed the words to “you’ve got a LeeLee.”

carsey-laughing-with-leeleeToday we were traveling around Pensacola.  She was in her car seat while her Mama and I were singing with Carole but changing to my makeover words.  As we sang those words today, it hit us!  “You’ve got a LeeLee!”

A LeeLee!

She’s been saying what I sang to her in the “makeover” of the song since September.   Not sure if it will stick as time goes on but, for now, A LeeLee I am.  My heart is smiling.

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