Groundhog Day

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #45: Anniversary

V.J.:  “So my challenge to you this week, is to pick a date (not necessarily a date of traditional significance) and look back.”

 

 

♠♥♠

February 2, 1978

Court date for Dissolution

Strange word for ‘divorce’

As though to dissolve marriage

In dark legal elixir

Briefest Q & A

Head spinning, single again

Gavel banged ‘freedom’

My decision, not first choice

Ideals shattered, must breathe safe

Eventually

Date took on humorous twist

Groundhog Day…heart gags

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

Image: Pixabay.com

Number Our Days

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #44: Numerology

Ennle (“casual)”, Christian blogger, poet & Bible student

V.J.’s weekly “assignments” are typically of a serious nature, and I tend to take them perhaps too seriously…stressing, as though I’m still in school and final grade depends on how well thought out and written my finished effort will be received by her.  Silly…but that’s the make-up of my constitution.  So when my initial comments to her expressed mild anxiety, she responded that she was sure I had a “favorite passage”, and that they were “numbered”.  I confess I had rather forgotten that, as a Bible student, I had much material to draw from…

Out of curiosity, I went to her link for “Token Rock”…no surprise to read I fit the “life path” description of Number 7.  The Bible is full of symbolism regarding numbers; for instance, 5 is considered the number for “grace”…and 7, symbolic of “perfection” or “completeness”.  I’ve deduced that my “7” is about the curse-ed “perfectionist bent”, nothing remotely close to being “perfect” in any saintly way.

So last night I was “cramming” to get the assignment completed, and went directly to the Old Testament’s book of Numbers.  Some people find it dry, but to me it’s fascinating, in particular the relationships between Moses, his brother Aaron, sister Miriam, and God.  But goodness, if I were to write about that it would take days, resulting in a long post none would read.  Which is where I’m already heading, I know…because I write the way I think, talk…

I’m grateful to have God as my writing partner…He sped up the process, reminding me of the verse in Psalms about “numbering our days”.  Since becoming a student of the Bible, I’m intrigued by, and have collected a fair number of Bible versions/translations for my library.  So let’s dive in for a short study, shall we?

Psalm 90:12, in the King James Bible reads:  “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  Notice that the purpose of numbering our days is to “apply our heart” or study to gain “wisdom”.  In the New American Standard Bible, the psalm’s wording is, “That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” The focus is not merely to gain wisdom, but to be able to show an appreciation of what we’ve learned, to God.

And in the New Living Translation, same psalm, there is yet something more: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  Life is relatively brief; thus, we are urged to respect the time and pay attention to becoming wiser.  I dare say God assigned me longer years than I might have liked because I was clearly a “slow student”…nearly 70, I’m only recently gaining a smattering of wisdom.

Before leaving this psalm and verse, I’ll include Young’s Literal Translation:  “To number our days aright let us know, And we bring the heart to wisdom.”  “Bring the heart to wisdom” is lovely language, I think…it’s not just about our thought-deluged brains, we collect wisdom in our hearts.

Job also spoke about our length of days.  “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5, NASB

And the New Living Translation puts a fine point on the same verse:  “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.” (underlining mine)

Psalm 139:16 (NASB) speaks about our Creator/Father God having seen and known us before our birth:  “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”   It’s worded slightly differently in the New Living Translation:  “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” 

And one last “numbering”, also from the book of Psalms (56:8)*, which reflects God’s loving attention to each one of us…so much so, that He’s kept track of our “wanderings”* (which is of particular comfort to me); He’s counted and kept/saved our tears*…and He’s even counted our “tossings”* (for those with sleep issues, I’ve interpreted 🙂 ).  ALL of these, God has written in His personal book on every single person He created.  As the Bible says frequently, “Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (The Amplified Bible)

*“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” English Standard Version

*“You have taken account of my wanderings; You have put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” Berean Study Bible

Thank you, V.J. for a wonderful assignment this week…it did me good, I preached myself happy!! 🙂

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

Rain’s Elixir (NaPoWriMo)

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #43: Rain

Sincere thanks to my readers for your patience with me…I hope to get back to regular blog strength, and attention to your posts, soon.  Until then, know that I keep you close in my heart Ennle…enjoy B J’s song at the end.

 

Heaven’s sterling pitcher, regal, pours—

With purposeful imperative relentless rain

Comes, driven to create obscuring pewter

Screen…concealing cloistered heart whose

Penitent prayers murmur repeated pleas

For explanation why psyche’s desert returns:

Barren of green shoots, fruit…dry malevolent

Spirit, Death ever threatening…uncurbed zeal 

To usurp clear cohesive Reason’s rhythmic pulse.

Sweet cleansing rain, unremitting drizzle paints

Holy fingerprints of God on windowpane…cooling

Comfort, His salve touches fevered thoughts chaotic.

Soft lullaby, falling nectarous drops…

Rain, elixir for soul’s sore brain.

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

Bible Verses: biblehub.com

“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” Joel 2:23, ESV

Farewell

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/rdp-saturday-coast/

FOWC with Fandango — Tenuous

FOWC with Fandango — Natural

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #42: farewell

Along island’s natural coast, you bade

Farewells…though you were already gone

At rest, free, unfettered…leaving memories

For handful of intimates to hold, keepsakes…

The crowd of admirers, as always, shut out

From your life and death, ever restricted.

How tenuous this life, the frail egos of men

Most of whom grasp and cling, strive for

One more day, hour of reputation, legacy…

True, some beg for, seek early release, but

You were big name, penned in bold strokes

And you shamed critics, left wealth to charity.

I was nothing, no one…but I loved, will

Always love you fiercely.

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

Stone Image: Pixabay.com


 

Dark Polish Makes for Radiance

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #41: polish

We are meant to shine, and that pain that she’s endured – that all of us endure at some point – that is just polish.

From V.J.:  This week, let’s focus on the elements of our lives that have helped us shine. Not feeling very shiny? Then tell me (or show me) what kind of polish you need to get you there. I’ve got to believe it’s never too late.

I was very late learning that the less than wonderful aspects of my life were beneficial polish…but now that I’ve “got it”, you can bet I’m grateful.

In previous posts I’ve written about what has scarred me, so I’ll try for brevity in this one.  My mother never concealed the fact that, for whatever reason, she didn’t love—or even like—me.  Since I was the oldest, and easily bent to their will, my parents made me their Cinderella.  It was not a happy childhood, not really a childhood at all.

School was a nightmare…I didn’t have friends; teachers got away with what we now consider bullying; and although intelligent, I wasn’t a good student…because my stress level impacted ability to concentrate and learn.  This began in elementary school, and continued through high school and college.

I didn’t have normal sibling relationships—cast in the roll of third parent, I felt excluded from their world, alienated.

After dropping out of college, I married the first guy I dated.  Bad choice—he was a perfect combo of my parents–so I leaped from the fire into the frying pan.  I lasted three years, hoping the abusive misery would mellow, before I bailed and divorced him.

My work experiences were like school—stress of high-expectations, and I didn’t fit in well with coworkers.  As I quit job after job, collecting welfare in between, it was becoming more obvious that I had mental illness.  The “helping professions” and associated agencies added detrimental experiences…and increased my feeling of being marginalized.

I wanted to believe God loved and cared for me…and I pursued my faith-walk in various churches.  Often, I found that Christians were more adept at wounding people than those with no interest in God.

But in the last seven years, I’ve gained so much—mostly the certainty that God has not been absent, or ignored my suffering.  He’s been faithful to bring me through the tough times.  I’ve learned that dark seasons reap incredible harvests…wisdom, increased contentment and confidence, joy, hope, and an unbreakable faith in God. 

Partnered with Him, I now see that I have something to offer the world—talent, gifts, generosity, caring.  My perspective has changed, having learned to search for and mine the gold buried in the darkness.  And I’m sincerely thankful…even for all the bleak.

I don’t feel particularly “shiny” everyday…but I’ve discovered my mirror is a liar.  God says I’m beautiful, His beloved daughter—and that I’m being transformed by His Holy Spirit, “from glory to glory, as I behold Him”.  Essentially, that means He uses the hard times as polishing agent…applied with His soft cloth of grace-love.  By the time I’m finished on Earth, I’ll be so bright you’ll need shades to look at me 🙂

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

Image: Pixabay.com

12 Things My Father Told Me

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40: Things My Father Said*

My father adopted me and my two siblings (and three half-sibs were born).  Only five years old when we met, I’d so hoped he was the hero arrived to rescue us.  Maybe he thought he was, in his commanding, controlling way.  But he was merely a man, managing his life and ours as he saw best…with baggage and issues he didn’t discuss with me.

“God helps them who help themselves,” he told me, when I didn’t have a satisfactory answer to his query about what I was going to do with my life.  Clueless, I replied that I was waiting for God to reveal a plan.  Dad’s statement didn’t sound entirely accurate, but I kept mum. 

He added, “You have tunnel vision…writing is an avocation”.  He didn’t view it as a dependable profession, which most people agree is true…but I doubt he saw it as a worthwhile pastime either.  I wrote him a poem once, extolling him as a father…after reading it, he came out of his room misty-eyed.  Mom returned it to me when he died.

“Learn to play an instrument and you’ll always have a crowd of friends.”  None of us followed this advice…what friends we had owned stereos, record albums.

“No matter what, you’ll always have family.” I’m certain that was his dream, and God knows I wish it had come true…but as it happened, there’s more estrangement than cohesion since my parents passed.

On learning his cancer was terminal, he said, “I’ll just have to try harder”.  This was likely part of his ‘God helps those who help themselves’ doctrine, having grown up in times which celebrated self-made men, and among those who expected God to reward their efforts…with little or no recognition of Divine assistance. 

He’d been a naval officer, brooked no question of his authority…and it made me sad and a bit angry, his belief that he could grip destiny in his hands—even death—turn it like a ship’s wheel.  It set me up for a continuing sense of failure in my life…apparently I just wasn’t trying hard enough to garner success.

“Peggy Lee, now she’s a singer.” Like many parents, Dad had no appreciation for the new generation’s music.  He was always trying to steer me toward his interests…I’ve often thought he couldn’t see I was a child, confused me with his peers.

“Children are to be seen and not heard”…in many ways it seemed he imagined children should be ornaments in his life, pleasing, to be admired.

“You’re very loquacious tonight,” …his statement was meant as a vocabulary lesson.  He encouraged my interest in doing the Reader’s Digest word quiz each month, and frequently invited me to join him and mom in a game of Scrabble.  An impressive facility with language was an asset…thus, while he wasn’t keen on my bent toward writing, he took pride in my ability to speak well.

“Don’t you ever be critical of your mother.” I wasn’t a child who sassed, spoke out of turn…fearful of grievous punishment.  But there was an occasion in my teen years, never repeated, when I badly wanted to shake him from his delusions which kept my mother on a pedestal in his mind.  He worked out of the country for weeks at a time, never observed her abusive treatment.

“As the eldest, remember that you set the example for your siblings to follow.” I remain unclear why I was appointed to be the saintly one…clearly, what my siblings learned from my behavior was that they were unwilling to pursue the same dull, inhibited course.  While I was reading in my room night after night, they enjoyed a wild life of sex, drugs, rock and roll.

“You’re going to Business School—you need a job to fall back on, because you never know what might happen.” This was ordered after I dropped out of college, having had a breakdown which was never acknowledged by my parents, who seemed to think I was an irresponsible malingerer…with romantic dreams of being supported by a husband straight from the pages of a paperback novel. 

My mother had taught school during her marriage to my biological father.  When he “disappeared” (declared dead), presumably she would have continued teaching had ‘dad’ not appeared on scene.

Dutifully, I spent nine months studying to be a legal secretary…was never employed in a law office.  Although I’d aced stenography, Dictaphones had replaced the need for bosses to holler, “Marian, come in here and take a letter!”

At some late point prior to his death, dad spoke solemnly: “Even if you hadn’t been my daughter, I’m proud of you—you’re one of the finest people I’ve known.” I recall my honest confusion, how I longed to beg him to elucidate what it was exactly that he was proud about.  I’d satisfied nary a one of his high expectations and fanciful self-conceived hopes.  But after years of strict training, I knew not to say anything at all.

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.

What’s In A Name?

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #38: What’s In a Name?

VJ asks, “What’s in your blog’s name?”

This is a new blog, after stepping away for a break.  2018 was full of change and loss, dominoes crashing one into another…no reason, rhyme detectable…and taking a toll.  I seesawed between talking positively, and a bleak spiraling down as I scrambled to grasp thimble full of faith to refocus and right my cardboard boat.  I dreaded 2019, had no hope things would improve. 

I continued setting small goals to get me through each week, and burrowed into binge-reading novels.  Soon I felt that although it was a benign pastime, there was danger of it becoming an insular non-response to life…so I considered my “go-to”, blogging.  It’s surprising how even when emotionally whipped, our deep passions can stir dry bones…writing has never been difficult for me.  I pondered whether it was worth paying for a blog—could I make a commitment to stick with it past the trial period?

The title, Abandoned Amenities, reflects my rather grim current view of society.  It strikes me that people have largely discarded niceties essential to maintaining vitality of even casual relationships.  Due to lack of time, interest, energy, people seem rushed, pressured to attend to what’s imperative: work/paying bills, buying groceries (or subscribing to trendy meal delivery services), meeting family needs, sleep.  Packing all this into 24 hours leaves no time to dawdle in grocery aisles chatting with strangers; or to accept invitations from mere acquaintances—only the obligatory others

I suffer a “Mayberry mentality”, and it disturbs me greatly that hardly anyone knows the reference anymore.  It’s old-fashioned, idealistic—based on a slower-paced way of life, an era marked by conventional, traditional values (yet nothing like “Stepford Wives”).  There was less atmosphere of fear and distrust; people enjoyed being friendly, kind and helpful; respect was the “default”; and being “neighborly” offered a mutual sense of security that “no man was an island” when trouble paid visits. 

Technology, for all its advantages, has consumed us.  Artificial Intelligence… Seriously??  I doubt it’s a good thing to depend on over-much.  Busy people, once criticized for constantly checking their watches, now walk around staring at phones they’re helpless to put down.  We can do almost anything online, even have sessions with a psychotherapist. 

I consider being truly present with others a fundamental “amenity” of well-being and the nurtured soul.  But the element of focused attention is rapidly falling away, and contributes to the rise in depression, anxiety, alienation, substance abuse and physical ailments.  Please understand—if one is called to a life of solitude for whatever reason, I respect that. But if we choose to be with people, we should BE WITH them—and strive to minimize distractions.

In 2018 I felt abandoned during an unexpected season of decreased independence, and my response was to pull deeper within myself—similarly abandoning the world.  If I was going to blog again, I needed to be free to write more candidly than ever before—no sweaty straining to be positive and encourage readers unless it was genuine, authentic.  Maintaining an “all is well” attitude could be characterized as an “amenity”—but if false, it can enslave, become toxic…in which case it should be abandoned, I believe.

IF spring brings restoration, healing, confirmation that I’ve been in an uncomfortable but temporary, familiar dim valley which will bring a rich harvest of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and maybe exhilarated gratitude and gladness…my blog title may become less relevant.  But by then it won’t matter (few readers pay attention to blog titles and taglines, I’ve found over the years).

The header image I chose is an abandoned church.  Yet it reflects beauty as it remains standing…as though waiting for tide to turn, for people to hunger for spiritual connection…knowing they’ll wander back to worship and seek fellowship, and allow God to rebuild tattered hearts, psyches.  That’s my raggedy hope, lukewarm prayer for myself…that my stretched-out-of-shape faith will be miraculously refurbished in 2019.  Anything’s possible for God, the Bible says. 

My faith is honest and down to earth, thus I can share unashamedly that, recently, I’ve joked with God that parting the Red Sea was no big deal for Him…but patching me up could be a challenge  This is neither disrespect or irreverence—“We” have worked long and hard to build this level of trust…and humor doeth good like a medicine.

Long response to VJ’s question…now you know me better than you did yesterday 🙂

©Ennle Madresan, 2019 ~ All rights reserved.