Confusion

Typical photo that has nothing to do with my post. Cows half an hour from home.

Do you ever feel like you need something but you don’t know what it is?

Do you ever feel like you need to tell someone something but you can’t put it into words nor figure out who you need to tell or why?

“Excuse me,” said the grocery store clerk. “Are you fine here, or would you like to go down to Express?”

I looked up from typing those first two paragraphs on my phone, which I thought I had time to continue because of the long line to get to a till.

“Oh! Yes, sure, I will go down there. Thanks.”

I smiled at the lady whom I was addressing and walked down to one of the checkstands that had become opened since my mind had been buried in writing on my phone.

As I put my 15 items (or less) onto the belt, the cashier asked if I’d found everything I needed. My immediate thought was this blog post’s words.

What DID I need?

I unfolded my grocery list, glanced to see if any items had not been crossed out or circled (I circle that which I cannot find, that which is too expensive this week and not really urgent, and that which has become an item I’ve decided isn’t necessary today, to add to my next list.)

“Yes. I did,” I said.

But I still don’t know what I am lacking outside the grocery list.

Something’s amiss.

I am going to venture a guess that this feeling is to do with not belonging in this world.

In large, loud, all-caps letters within my brain, each word enunciated and with a dramatic pause before the next one is heard, the sentence shouts out:

THIS

WORLD

IS

NOT

MY HOME.

(Now, I highlighted the words of this draft while I sit in my truck, hit “select all”, hit “copy”, and, with my words saved to clipboard, I go to the settings to choose my categories and tags. Redo the save to clipboard process, and THEN hit “publish now”.)

Maranatha.

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Sharp pain in right temple

All day, off and on, a sharp pain has stabbed my right temple. It lasts only a second at a time and happens sporadically, several times an hour.

I am so stressed and grieved, the instigating last straw being the loss of my writing in a WordPress draft last night, that I do not feel like myself. It is not like my usual state of depression when things overwhelm me. It is deeply physical this time, very much like grief over loss of a loved one.

I wanted to say this in case I die tonight and the reason is otherwise unknown. A friend or family member might see this and know I had a strange pain in my head, not like the usual pain attacks I get every few weeks.

I took an Aspirin pill within the past hour. I haven’t tried Aspirin in years.

If I die and am therefore unable to say further words directly, I leave this here: please, my family and friends, please, I beg you, read the Bible and seek to know the truth. Please accept Jesus and thereby embark on the same eternal destiny as me. I want to see you there. I love you and do not want you to perish.

Just a flower I saw yesterday

Peace, Love, and John Deere

It was the perfect June morning, still spring but on the cusp of summer, the air warm but not yet sweltering. Most mosquitoes used what little sense they had to remain asleep or unborn at that hour, except for the real go-getters eager to fill their beaks. The sun’s rays were fingers that elicited a symphony of scent: wild roses whispered in sweetly perfumed voices of full bloom all down the country lane, wafting out from beneath pine and spruce trees that sang their own songs of toasted aroma. A variety of birds blended in some audible notes of cheer.

And then a woman appeared in faded denim cut-off jeans and a loose pale lilac T-shirt, chugging along on a John Deere lawn tractor. She wasn’t mowing anything. She couldn’t if she wanted to, for the mower assembly was broken. Nothing but rocky asphalt was beneath the tires.

Chugga-lugga-luggin’ at a top speed of five miles per hour, she traversed six acres down the road, vaguely hoping the cop who lived nearby in the other direction wasn’t on duty. His kids are friends with some of her kids, so maybe he’d look the other way and say nothing if he saw her.

But maybe driving a lawn tractor on a public street isn’t a crime in that small community.

She parked the tractor on the grass by the driveway of her neighbour, shut it off, and walked into his garage.

“Helloooo!” she called out.

“Oh, good, you brought it,” said the neighbourhood mechanic.

“Yep, rode it over!” she said.

“Ya didn’t!” said his buddy from the other side of the garage, walking over to look into the yard.

“Oh, you DID!” he added, laughing.

Well, really, she saw no point in hooking up the utility trailer, setting up a ramp to it, and driving the tractor on, when she could save thirty minutes and drive over in five.

“Only at the 108 can we do that, eh!” she said, giggling.

“Annnd I just realized I forgot the cable that fell out of it,” she said.

“I’ll run home and get it,” she called out as she headed swiftly back down the driveway.

Around one corner and then another, she ran into a couple of neighbour guys sitting in lawn chairs. One chuckled, “What’d ya do, drive the tractor down the road and break it, so now you gotta walk home?”

She laughed, “No, the mower assembly has a broken cable, so I brought it down to Barry to fix. But I forgot the cable, so I gotta go grab it.”

I guess not a lot of people drive their lawn tractors on our roads, as when she returned a few minutes later with the cable in her hands, another neighbour called out from her front steps with a laugh in her voice, “Did you just ride by on your tractor?”

She laughed and said, “Yes, I did. I felt like the guy in that Adam Sandler movie, Waterboy, who rides his lawn tractor to town.”

Amidst more exchanged words and a few giggles, she showed the cable she’d just fetched, bid her neighbour a good day, and carried on.

After dropping off the cable, she ran home, did a few chores in the house, and an hour and forty dollars later, her tractor was ready. She ran down to retrieve it and buzzed on back home, dropping the mower into action when she reached her own acre of grass.

As she mowed, she wrote books in her mind. Some of the chapters might end up in print. Some might just be descriptive narratives like this here – mindless stories that are easier to recount than events that happened twenty and more years ago.

Oh, and no cops saw her, by the way. In fact, no vehicles drove by at all. Aside from a few fumes from the tractor, nothing polluted the fresh blue air that day, and for a rare twenty-four hours, all was well in her world.

Those Personality Test Thingies

lupines

Here are some lupines in a nearby forest. This picture has nothing to do with this post, unless you want to get all analytical and find a metaphor in it somehow…

Personality tests. Myers-Briggs is the one that comes to mind, but there are others. They ask you a bunch of questions, and in the end, you are given a summary of what your personality type is. I’ve done them many times, although I do not know why. It’s mindless clicking on buttons when I’m tired, I guess.

Why do I want to know more about myself? That’s another question to which I do not know the answer, especially because I am writing this while sleep deprived. But it is something I ponder. That right there, the pondering, probably says something about my personality type. Analyzing things. Now I’m analyzing why I analyze.

I ran out of lavender oil several days ago, and ever since, my sleep has been messed up. I had a feeling the lavender was helping my sleep for the past year, but I wasn’t sure if it was mere coincidence. Now that I ran out and my sleep is poor, maybe that’s just coincidence, too. I ordered some more lavender oil and will see what happens when I can again put it in the diffuser by my bedside.

Huh. Spell-check doesn’t like the word “diffuser”. Why is that? Is it a new word since the spell check was born?

I’ve long been using lavender oil, since the mid 1990s. At first it was the cheap stuff from the grocery store, which smelled fine. Then a friend introduced me to a multi-level-marketing company that sells an expensive version. Admittedly, the costly one smells great, but in my opinion it is way overpriced. If it is such a great product, why can’t it be sold in a regular health food store? Why must it only be available through representatives of the company, with multiple levels of extra cost added on? It’s good, but not worth paying three to four times the amount of the cheap stuff.

So, the lavender I ordered is a different brand, not from the MLM company.  Let’s see how it does in the diffuser. (Stop that bumpy red underscoring, Spellcheck! Diffuser is a word, and I’m going to force you to accept it by adding it to your electronic dictionary. There.)

Back to our topic: personality tests. All the times I have done them, there have been some questions that I didn’t understand, and so I made a guess as to the answer. Then when I got the test results, I read the descriptions of who “they” think I am and thought, “Hmm, it’s close in some ways, but not quite.”

Then today, after insufficient sleep, I woke up wondering about a post I saw on Instagram last night, which said something like “INFJ: Being everyone’s therapist but needing one yourself.”

I thought, “That’s me.”

I hear many stories and I hold them in my head and my heart. I am honoured to receive them, but too often I end up being the recipient of anger because people start to expect me to be their therapist, and I can’t always be available. I’ve lost too many friends because of that. Then I need more therapy. And I’ve gotten it. And I continue to need it.

The reason I saw that post about being everyone’s therapist was because I used a hashtag of “introvert” on a picture I posted. I got curious and looked up what others have posted about introverts.

And so an article I read this morning about INFJ personality types drove me to do a test once again, on my phone. Why not? It was 6:00 in the morning, I was too tired to get out of bed but knew if I fell asleep, I might not be up in time to get my kids to judo at 11. (Yes, judo on a Tuesday morning. Yes, we are “unschoolers”.)

I did the test and it said I am indeed an INFJ, at least this time. It fluctuates between INFJ and another one or two introvert ones, the combinations of letters escaping me, for I never memorize them. These tests are always done in a flighty moment.

This time, the description fit me like a pair of old Levi’s, worn in and on the verge of tearing at the knees. At last, someone understood me. Someone I don’t know. And it comforted me to know that because someone could write about who I am, surely I must not be the only one like this.

But one pair of old Levi’s can fit someone else. I used to trade clothes with a few of my closest friends back in high school. Now I trade clothes with my older children. But I’m going off on a tangent by saying that, so here is the description. It made me think surely EVERYone must be this way, though, no? Are you? INFJ Personality Type Signs (and, might I add, “Symptoms”)

I better go get my kids up for judo. They’ve been sleeping so peacefully, I was able to write a blog entry here at my computer. Hope you enjoyed my rambling. I probably needed to. It’s been awhile.

“Squeak”

“Squeak”, said the cupboard door, as I opened it to put glasses away from the drying rack.

How did those glasses get into the drying rack? I cleaned the kitchen before bed last night. There was nothing in the drying rack then. And for that matter, why are there crumbs on the island’s cutting board top?

Not that the cupboard door cares, even if I had asked out loud. Its sole purpose this morning is to yell at me.

“You need to get the WD40, wench. Do it, or I’m gonna squeak and squack and wake up your kids. I don’t CARE that you only had four hours of sleep last night. And woah there, missy! Backspace and correct that spelling error. It’s SQUAWK, not ‘squack’. Idiot.”

Eyeballs plugged into a head full of pain glare out from this thing called Christine and say, “Screw you,” not just to the cupboard, who MIGHT get its wish commanded if I remember to write it on the to-do notebook’s latest page, but to everything in and out of sight.

I turn on the kettle and don’t bother grinding coffee. Earl Grey is my friend, though he has little to say. I’m cool with that today, for I don’t want to talk anyway.

My Mother’s Hand

My sister’s hand holding our mother’s hand

One year ago to the day, my mom left this world.

I dreamed about her last night. It was as though she had never left. We went swimming together in an indoor pool within a huge log house with lots of windows letting in sunshine through a filter of tall evergreens. Later in the dream, we met up again with plans to return to the pool. Nothing at all crossed my mind to hint she had died. It seemed totally normal.

Man, I love dreams. That was a good one.

Only in the past few days have I begun to go through the boxes of my mom’s stuff that I brought up here last year. The thing that gets me the most is seeing her writing. Her nice, neat, left-handed writing was the same since I was little up until the notes she made during her final week in her old home.

Here is a photo my sister sent to my cell phone a year ago while a few of my kids and I were an hour into the drive on which we embarked after hearing the news of my mom having suffered a massive stroke. My mom was unconscious in a hospital bed as my sister held her hand and took that picture.

That’s the hand that penned letters, words, and thoughts I will always cherish. That’s the hand that raised me. That’s the hand that led me with love.

I didn’t get there in time. My mom passed away a couple hours after that photo was taken.

Some will understand when I say I will see my mom again and things will be better than ever. I look forward to that.

Wheels And Steel

My latest vehicle, a 2003 Ram with Cummins diesel

A friend of mine sent me pictures of the beautiful vehicles she has owned in the past decade. That got me thinking about my own list, so I compiled one just for fun.

1. 1969 Fargo pickup truck – blue and white. I was 15 and bought it for $150 from a farm.

Steeny Lou and the Fargo, 1982

2. 1973 Plymouth Valiant 2-door – navy blue

3. 1976 Chevy pickup – ugly brown. I taught myself to drive with a clutch in this truck as I bought it and had to drive it home. I’d tried to learn on other people’s vehicles before but never got the hang of it till I had no choice.

4. 1965 Chevy II 4-door – burgundy (I got into an accident with it in 1986 and had it parked on the fishing docks of a business owned by some friends in Ladner, BC, while I waited for it to get repaired by mobile mechanics. Before the job was complete, someone stole my car. It never did get found.)

5. 1969 VW Beetle, red with a blue stripe painted onto each side (not quite a Nike symbol but slanted like that)

6. 1974 VW Bug – yellow. It had a sunroof. The muffler got a hole in it. I liked that because it sounded like a Harley.

7. 1964 Chevy II 2-door post (bought in 1987 and kept till 2005) – shiny cherry red. I found a 283 engine from a 1963 Corvette and had it installed. My car still had the stock “6” symbol on it, but when I hit the gas, it blew down the highway like a spaceship!

“The Steenmobile” – see the plate?

8. Datsun of some sort that was dirt cheap and barely ran for the week I owned it – flat ugly red

9. 1989 Ford F250 4×4, brand new from the dealership – blue and white

10. 1976 VW Bug – deep dark metallic blue, almost black. Threw a rod on day 2 of owning it while on a trip to Seattle, WA. It would have cost more than the vehicle was worth to get it towed from the States to my home across the border in BC two hours north and get it repaired. Sold it to a junk dealer for $20 and caught a Greyhound home.

11. Ford Econovan (mid 1970s, can’t remember which year exactly. Kept it at a harbour parking lot in Petersburg, Alaska, so we’d have something to drive when we arrived in town via our boat) – ugly brown, and with mushrooms growing in the carpet in back after spring thaw

12. 1991 Ford Explorer (aka “The Ford Exploder” because it blew a transmission and then a few months later its engine blew) – dark blue

13. 1998 Dodge Ram 4×4 with Cummins diesel – black

14. 1974 Mercedes – cream with dark blue roof (still own it)

15. 1996 Dodge Ram 4×4 with Cummins diesel – shiny cherry red like my ’64 Chevy II

16. 2000 GMC Safari van – bluish green

17. 2003 Chevy Suburban – boring tan colour so commonly seen on these

18. 2011 Toyota Matrix – metallic black. (Still have it, but needs a new transmission.)

19. 2016 Kia Soul – Caribbean blue (bought brand new from the dealer in 2016 and still loving it)

20. 2003 Dodge Ram 3500 4×4 with Cummins diesel – burgundy. (This and the Kia Soul are our daily drivers.)

There were other vehicles I drove, but they were more the property of other people, such as my parents or the ex, so I didn’t list them. Actually, #9, the Ford F250, was more the ex’s than mine, but I ended up with it when I escaped from him in 2004 as it was relatively junky by then after him using it as his work truck for years, and he wouldn’t let me have the black Dodge Ram even though I mostly drove it – long and disturbing story there.

Most of the vehicles on the list had standard transmission. Personal preference.

I love my little blue Kia Soul. I bought it a window sticker that says “It is well with my Soul”.

My 2016 Kia Soul in Spences Bridge, BC

And the ’03 Ram in this blog post’s top photo is a joy, too. I’m grateful for all the wheels and steel, gas and diesel, leather and cloth, heat and air conditioning, that got me around in style (more or less) these past decades of my driving life.

Looking at this list humbles me. It is a lot of material goods. They are not all the fanciest vehicles, but still, wow, it’s more than some people could dream of having.

Yes, I worked hard for it – don’t we all? But I realize it is temporary, in the big scheme of things.

It’s just “stuff”. I could lose all my stuff tomorrow.

It hurts to lose stuff, especially when we have worked hard for it, but it’s not like losing a soul. We only get one of those, for free, and there’s only One Way to preserve it for eternity. And that is also free: by believing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died and rose again to save you.

Imagine, your soul, preserved for eternity, but not in the body you’ve always known, with its aches and scars, its imperfections that drive you mad, it’s quirks and its demands. It’d be you, but YOU 2.0!

I’m looking forward to that new me, thanking Jesus all the way Home.

Sunshine: Is That A Promise Or A Threat?

Sunshine and blue skies hang out with me this morning while I enjoy a cup of coffee. (Yeah, that’s yellow coffee because I put turmeric in it, along with heated soy milk, black pepper, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, and stevia before frothing it all together in the blender and topping it with cinnamon.)

Birds warble and croon and serenade, my dogs bask in the warmth, my youngest children are sleeping in because they were up late last night goofing around, and a squirrel chirps at me from a stand of aspen.

“Good morning!” my heart sings and all seems perfect.

The lone red petunia on the table, though, is showing signs of death.

And the grass isn’t as green as it should be for this time of year.

The sunshine, as beautiful as it is, reminds me there hasn’t been a proper rainfall in a long time.

I think back to the summer of 2017 and recall how quickly the forest fires raged from the hills and threw their smoke to veil everything we saw. Everywhere smelled like barbecue. It smelled good, but that smell was deceiving.

The sunshine is so good, but we do need rain to cover our land with rejuvenating water.

Please be praying with me for healthy amounts of rain in our land of British Columbia, Canada, and for the same in the lands of others where things like intentional power blackouts due to lack of water in the dams are negatively affecting lives.

Time is running dry. The way the world is looking these days, the end of life as we know it could be sooner than we can imagine, if your individual death doesn’t happen suddenly first.  My number one hope is that all who read this will be in heaven with me as that moment comes. If you are not sure you will be in heaven, check out this page:

Why We Need To Be Saved and HOW

Or you might like this video. (Don’t worry about the word “Propaganda” – it’s just the stage name of the guy named Jason who’s talking. His way with words is mesmerizing and he’s got the gist of the message bang-on!)

Eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, the living Son of God. That is a promise, not a threat. That is the incorruptible we can put on and wear knowing it will never fade, shrink, tear, ignite, crumble, or otherwise partake in the act of dying, for in Christ there is no more death. He conquered death after He died on the cross, and when we put Him on, we’re truly covered.

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

The Ultimate Repair

This was where I sat on Mother’s Day last year, in the sunshine, overlooking a lake, at the top of a small hill. The best part was that I was talking on the phone to my mom.

Today, the lake is still there. The sun will still shine. The hill I can still climb. But my mother is gone.

That beautiful Mother’s Day was the last time I got to talk to my mom. A week later, as she was walking home from Sunday church meeting, she had a massive stroke.

A woman driving by saw my mom fall and went to help her. My mom told the woman her name and where she lived, and then she lost consciousness.

The woman went to the assisted-living complex where my mom lived and left her number in case there were family members who wanted to talk to her.

I got a call from the complex and received the woman’s number. I called her and she told me about having seen my mom fall and having spoken to her. She said she called an ambulance and waited with her till they arrived. She told me my mom was calm and pleasant – which I know is so characteristic of her.

Hospital staff called to let me know my mom was unconscious. A few of my kids and I started driving the six hours to go see her, but four hours into the trip, my sister messaged to let me know it was too late. So, we got a hotel and went home the next day.

The doctor told me my mom was not in pain, and that she died peacefully, with no struggle. The stroke simply was too major and left her beyond repair.

I look forward to the ultimate repair, where nothing will erode or corrode the perfection given to us by God, free from sin and its effects of slowly – and sometimes more quickly – killing the body.

And I believe I will see my mom again, in her new body, in a better place. That is one moment to which I look forward, as well as to seeing the other believers I miss who have passed on. But even if I didn’t know anyone else who followed Jesus, I trust I will be in the presence of them all, and we’ll all be on the same page.

No more conflict. No more pain. No more of anything that destroys.

Unity, at last, with the focus of our adoration and gratitude flowing toward our Loving Savior.

(See you soon, Mom. You know I’m coming Home, and then we will never again be apart.)

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].” (1 Peter 5:10, Amplified Version of the Bible)

[This post started out as a comment here. Thanks, G.W., for encouraging me to use it.]

Poutine, Tires, and Pardon My French

Here is a photo of my favourite road sign, at 70 Mile House, BC.

I’ve never actually seen anyone in a horse and carriage there. Still, the sign is cool and it suggests the possibility exists.

There is an eating establishment along the highway in that tiny community. We were leaving its parking lot when I shot the picture. It used to be a tire shop till a dozen years ago. It’s now a great place called The Sugar Shack and it is owned by one of the most charismatic characters I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

Robert is l’entrepreneur from Quebec who has built the Sugar Shack here in BC, practically with his bare hands but also with the help of some dented but heavy machinery that dots his property along with the outdoor wood-fired furnace, the sawmill, the log truck, and the piles of perfectly machine-delimbed logs. His various mixed breeds of dogs wander the property, too, calmly greeting visitors and never running out onto the highway.

While we sat there eating poutine today, waiting for summer tires to be installed on our car by the tire dealer (a friend of ours who is a preacher in a small fellowship of Christians, is owner-operator of a logging truck, and has a tire shop at his house a short drive down the road past that sign in the photo), I said, “I’d rather be here than in the finest restaurant decked out with crystal, china, and elegant cuisine.”

The poutine at Sugar Shack is like none other, and Robert is not just boasting when his signs say “You just missed the world’s greatest poutine” on the highway as you drive by.

The fries are from fresh potatoes, golden and crisp on the outside, and perfectly soft and fluffy on the inside. The cheese curds are rumoured to come all the way from Quebec, as is the gravy recipe, and the optional topping of smoked meat really should not be optional if you know what’s good for you. Even if you are a vegetarian, I don’t know if you can honestly say this is not delicious when you taste it.

As we sat there, we listened to Robert and a friend of his talking on the other side of the big wood-ensconced room.

The topic being loudly discussed was a battery charger Robert had apparently loaned to his friend.

Robert said, in his very French-Canadian accent where most of the multi-syllabled words received their emphasis on their last syllable, “I told you to take the batteRY chargER with you to PG.”

PG is what we in the Cariboo region and other parts of BC call Prince George. Of course, Robert pronounced it with the emphasis on the G.

The friend replied in a bland Canadian English voice, with a hint of humour, “Well, I always have a hard time understanding you with your French accent so I didn’t know what you meant.”

Robert let several seconds of silence pass. Then we heard his gravelly voice declaring a solid, “F*** YOU!” with hardly a French accent at all, and with no asterisks, either.

I burst out laughing and turned my head to look over across the room at them. My husband did, too, and laughter was echoing throughout the building by everyone present, Robert included.

I said quietly, “That’s so much like in our family, giving each other the middle finger all over the place. If ya can’t swear at your friends, are they really your friends?”

(This video was made after the other customers left. You can hear Robert talking in the background from the kitchen.)