The Youthful Magic of Summer Days

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today I am being strict about my 5 minutes and so I have a start and stop in there. The prompt for today is “summer.”

[start]

I remember when I was a kid, summer vacation was the best. I would stay up super late reading, and then sleep till noon or later.

My parents were both working by the time I was in junior high school, so there would be the inevitable list on the kitchen table of stuff Mom wanted us to get done before she got home. But it wasn’t bad.

The actual view from our house.

I grew up in the Oakland, Calif., foothills, so the days were warm but not hot. The mornings were usually cool and the nights could get cold. Our back deck looked out over the San Francisco Bay, or what you could see of it through the trees that had grown up over the years we lived there. It was very quiet. No major thoroughfares in the hills. Blue jays were our noisiest neighbors. Or sometimes the raccoons that would fight every evening when our elderly neighbor set out dry dog food for them to eat.

Taken by my brother on the last day the house was ours.

I remember going over there one night when she fed them to see a whole bunch of raccoons, young and old, holding those little brown balls of dog food in their paws, dipping them in the bowls of water, because raccoons apparently wash their food before they eat it. And then they’d fight over what was left.

I still like to stay up late, buried in a good book, but the responsibility of adulthood has crept in to take away the magic of those days. [stop]

There’s more I would like to say about those summer days in Northern California, but I’ll adhere to the 5-minute rule today. The rest will be for another time. Meanwhile, summer reading suggestions are welcome! Put your recommendations in the comments.

The Applause of God

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s word is “deserve.”

When I was in junior high school, I really wanted to earn the Service Award at the end of my 9th-grade year. I volunteered in the library, I was an office helper, I worked what they called back then OWE, which stood for Outside Work Experience. That meant that I could have a volunteer job somewhere outside of school. I went next door to the elementary school and helped out in the 1st-grade classroom.

So at the end of the year commencement ceremony, when all the awards were announced, I felt pretty confident that I deserved that award. My heart raced as they started with the announcements. And then, my time came: Winner of this year’s service award: . . . Ann.

My heart sank. It wasn’t me. It was Ann. Ann who always won. Who was popular. Who was cute.

I couldn’t find it in my heart to rejoice for her. I was outraged that I hadn’t gotten the award I was sure I deserved. I never won anything.

It wasn’t fair.

I’d been robbed.

She must have been the administration’s pet.

There didn’t seem to be any reason in my little adolescent mind that I should not have gone home with that award.

You would think that 40+ years later, I wouldn’t remember that day. But I do.

What I don’t remember is if that made me work harder in the future, or made me just want to give up because there was no chance of my ever succeeding.

There have been many other disappointments since June of 1977. And so I have had to set aside my pride, which isn’t easy for one whose personality craves applause, and listen only for the applause of God.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
1 Timothy 4:8 New Living Translation

Escape to the Quiet

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. This week’s word is “quiet.”

Last week my newly graduated from high school daughter and I took a trip to the mountains of North Carolina. She wanted to hike, write, and cook. We accomplished all of those things (albeit with blisters from ill-fitting hiking boots that I had gotten a month in advance just to make sure that wouldn’t happen) and had a fun time together.

One of the things that struck us the most was just the quiet of the setting we were in. We rented an AirBnB cabin for the week that we had to traverse up a steep gravel road to get to. We were surrounded by green with only the occasional dog barking marring the utter stillness. Even the birdsong enhanced the quiet.

We’re used to a lot of noise. We live in the suburbs, but have to endure the noise of completely obnoxious backfiring cars (what is it with that modification that makes the drivers like that?), speeding motorcycles with roaring engines that fly up the main road outside our subdivision, super loud airplanes that take off overhead because the airport is conveniently about 15 minutes away. It’s just noisy. And distracting. And often frustration-inducing. Makes me want to put my hands over my ears like my 3-year-old grandson and say, “Loud noise! Loud noise!”

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me. There is a lot that is good about where we live. But if I could take our house, our church, our friends, and the conveniences that I enjoy close by and transplant them to the quiet of the mountains, I’d do it in a hot minute.

But for now, a week at a time will have to do.

Need a Lift?

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes, without heavy editing, on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “lift.”

We looked ahead of us on the narrow, wooded trail and saw only incline. In my head, I started to doubt the map.

We had been hiking for almost two hours on what was supposed to be a 2-mile journey to a rocky outcrop called William’s Pulpit. We had seen very few others on the trail, none who seemed to be on their way back. Except for that one couple and their dog who had started just ahead of us, but turned back after less than half an hour.

But we had made it this far. We couldn’t stop now. And so we took another step. And another. And another. By lifting one foot off the ground, placing it in front of the other and doing it again over and over, we kept going.

Finally, we saw it: the small wooden sign nailed to the tree with a small arrow scratched in pointing to the left: < William’s Pulpit. We had made it. The Florida lowlanders had climbed to 3220 feet.

And the view really was worth it.

On our way back down we encountered two other women and a family of four on their way up. We were able to assure them that their destination was up ahead, that they would see a long incline and think there was no way they could make it, but when they got to the top, they’d be there.

Both parties continued on their hike with smiles on their faces because we had given them hope.

Hebrews 12:1 in the Amplified Bible says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us.”

Trusting those who have gone before, especially the ones who made the maps, can give you a needed lift when you feel ready to quit. The end result will be worth it.

You Have Permission to Breathe

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word topic without any heavy editing. Check it out.

Last weekend I went on a short getaway with a group of friends. I didn’t leave behind any meals, I didn’t leave any instructions for the care of any of the pets or the house or chores or anything. I packed my car, picked up one of the ladies, and off we went with the top down in my convertible Mustang.

And it was glorious.

The 7 of us, more of us friends for more than 20 years, had never done a girls weekend before. Though we “talk” through Messenger several times a day, and most of us get together weekly to pray with others for our kids, we had never had a time that was just about us.

We rented an Airbnb, ate good food planned and prepared by the one who most enjoys doing that, did a fun craft together, laughed, talked, kayaked on the lake, got very little sleep, and watched the rain.

What we didn’t do was feel guilty about being away. I got a few texts from my husband about some issues with our pool; I texted my daughter once asking what she ended up making for dinner, and she reprimanded me by telling me to go be with my friends. Which I was. I just wanted to connect for a moment I guess.

It was a pleasure. And it was a privilege I know not everyone can afford. And it was a necessity. We actually physically needed to be together. To reconnect in person. So little of that had been done in the pandemic year.

Jesus gives you permission to breathe. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV).