Persistence

Flash Fiction Friday (6)

“I want to spend the rest of my life in a small town in Spain in a quaint house with a green door,” said Caroline confidently to her class during her first day of freshman year in high school. A few of the students laughed and her teacher’s face revealed the doubts within of her student’s life goal.

Caroline proudly told her mother about her goal. Her mother nodded but remained silent. After a few minutes, she responded, “That’s miles and miles away from Ohio, Caroline. How are you going to get there?” Caroline looked down and shrugged. For having such an ambitious goal, the freshman teenager had no concrete plans of making it happen. “Hmm…” replied her mother.

After speaking to her mother, Caroline quietly told her father about her goal. Her father said, “Okay, great.” They didn’t speak of it again.

But the next day, Caroline’s mother took her to the bank and opened up a savings account in Caroline’s name. “If you’re going to live in Spain, you better start saving now. The old lady K down the road is looking for someone to trim her plants and pick her a fresh bouquet of flowers every week from her garden. You can start there. Just make sure you wear gloves.” Caroline couldn’t have felt more loved than in that moment from her mother.

Her mother was never a woman of many words, but a woman of productive action. She helped get Caroline a few more jobs after that and took Caroline to the bank once a week to put money into her savings. Caroline’s mother allowed her to earn money at home to pay for bills by cooking dinner, washing the cars, and taking care of the chickens. And when Caroline left for college, her mother had tears rolling down her cheeks. A calm cry from a strong woman. It was the first time Caroline had ever seen her cry. “Don’t give up on Spain. Remember that.” Caroline nodded, hugged her parents, and drove away to college.

Caroline majored in Spanish, fell in love with a few boys, was heartbroken by all of them, made great friends, made worse enemies, and spent her last year traveling abroad in Spain where she found herself standing in front of a quaint house in a small Spanish town with a yellow door. “C’mon!” called her friends waiting for her to jump in the van. They were passing through and grabbed a bite to eat when she saw it. Cobblestone walkway leading up to a small, bright white house that was recently painted. Whether by coincidence or fate, her life dream in front of her. Others rushing and her standing still. Her heart pounded, her head rushed, her insides tumbled. Could this be it? she thought. She hesitantly walked up to the door and slowly gave it a few knocks, half hoping that no one would answer. But an old, short Spanish woman with deep wrinkles around her eyes and sucked in cheeks opened the door. Words weren’t necessary; the old woman’s eyes kindly greeted Caroline and the house smelled of garlic, saffron, rosemary, and bread. Caroline spoke to her in Spanish, introducing herself and politely asking how much the house was worth and how long the woman had been there. The old woman listened intently with her brown eyes locked on Caroline. Finally, she nodded, closed the door for a moment, opened the door, handed Caroline a piece of paper, and closed the door. Caroline stared at the paper, too focused to hear the van honking behind her. She must have read it a dozen times.

“Veo tu pasión. Soy dueño de la casa. Mi hija heredará la casa. Hablar con ella.”

Caroline laughed the more she read it, tears welling in her eyes. “I see your passion. I own the house. My daughter will inherit the house. Talk to her,” Caroline spoke the words slowly and loudly in English. At the bottom was a few numbers scribbled, which was the old woman’s daughter’s address.

Fifteen years ago, Caroline told her dream to her teacher and her parents. Five years ago, she met an old Spanish woman who lived in her dream house and was willing to sell it. A year ago she moved into her dream house – a quaint house in a small Spanish town. And the first thing she did was paint the door green.

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Beach Love

Flash Fiction Friday (4)

“I’ll go upstairs and get your things,” Mr. Wright said quietly as everyone ate their breakfast at the table.
“No. I’m not going,” Zoey replied, setting her fork next to her untouched eggs and sausage.
Her three younger sisters stared at her, mouths gaping open.
“What do you mean you’re not going, Zoey?” Mr. Wright asked curiously.
“NOT GOING?!” Mrs. Wright shrieked. “You’re the oldest and would be the first! The first to go to college! FIRST! Do you hear me Zoey Grace?! They offered to pay for your schooling! OFFERED! We wouldn’t have to spend a dime – ”
“Well they can offer it to someone else,” Zoey shot back at her mother’s unbearable voice echoing throughout the house.
“Offer it to someone else?! SOMEONE ELSE! And let our family run out of money?! BROKE?! Out on the street! No money! No food and no-”
“Zoey, let’s take a walk,” Mr. Wright replied through a small gap in Mrs. Wright’s shouting.
Outside, the tall grass rolled gently in the breeze and brought sea salt from the ocean with it. Zoey took a deep breath in. The salty air filled her lungs and a bit of joy sprung from her heart. The seagulls squawked at each other every so often and dove for fish in the water. She had once fed a seagull from her hand but had to run when the food ran out. Mr. Wright and Zoey walked for a while in silence. She listened to the ocean waves and let the sand squish between her toes, another familiar feeling that caused her heart to overflow. Mr. Wright had taken his daughter on many walks on the beach, both to have a good chat to bring her to her senses and to listen to her heart. He wasn’t sure which category this one would fall in.
“Why are you choosing not to go?” Mr. Wright asked to start the conversation and break the silence.
“Oh, I can’t! I decided last fourth of July where I was brave enough to light my own sparkler! My own father! My heart is here – with the ocean, with the sand, with the seagulls, with – ”
“With him?” Mr. Wright interrupted, looking directly into his daughter’s blue eyes. Although he wasn’t for certain there was a boy, Mr. Wright had seen that same look in Zoey’s eyes years ago in Mrs. Wright’s eyes.
Zoey glanced at her father and looked down before reluctantly nodding. Mr. Wright sighed and nodded to acknowledge her before looking out to the ocean.
“I cannot make you do anything. Of that, I am sure. And if you don’t go to college, I will never hear the end of it. Of that, I am absolutely certain. And,” Mr.Wright said, looking back at his daughter and gently wrapping his arm around her, “Zoey, if he cares deeply, he will hold on or he will follow. Of that, I know.”
Zoey nodded and looked out to the ocean as if searching for the right answer.
Mr. Wright left her to make a decision and eat his breakfast. Regardless of her decision, the man was hungry.

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August Book

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Head’s up – No spoilers!

The temperatures are already starting to drop, even if it’s only a little. Before we know it, fall will be here you guys and it is BY FAR my favorite season – hot chocolate, cool weather, sweaters, cozy blankets. Oh, and the pie! I love everything about fall, including reading a good book in a coffee shop wrapped up in a warm sweater. With some hot chocolate. Always a necessity in the cold winter months. 😉

Speaking of reading, this month I have been reading this book and it is so good you guys! I love reading fiction, but sometimes a good nonfiction book is good for the soul. This book is definitely not a fun, fiction, easy-to-read story but a heart-wrenching, nonfiction, eye opener collection of stories. Such a good check on perspective! Real life events that happened to real people. A woman and her two sons, 5 and 13, evicted on a cold day in January and staying in a shelter until April. A disabled man whose home became a safe haven for his sons’ friends, other teenage boys, to help keep them out of trouble, trying to live off his disability check to pay the rent and feed his kids. A landlord couple taking a trip to Jaimaca while their tenants struggle to pay rent. Another landlord working with his tenants, even though they fall hundreds of dollars behind on rent. These stories and so many others. Homelessness, domestic abuse, drugs, and more.

And one of the best parts is that Desmond gives it from all sides – landlords, tenants, movers. It pulls your emotions in all different ways so that you can’t choose sides, but see that there is an obvious problem. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re looking for a book to give you some perspective or feel your heart start to become ungrateful. This book, my friends. This book.

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What have you been reading lately?

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Bakery

Flash Fiction Friday (2)

She drank her coffee while the rain gently tapped on the window as if asking to be invited in. It made her smile, partially because the thought of rain coming from her ceiling was silly but also because her plants needed the rain. Peonies, roses, begonias, bluebells, camellias, hydrangeas. She had quite the green thumb and a beautiful garden to show for it. “Morning love,” her husband’s voice, two warm arms around her waist, and a routine kiss on the shoulder greeted her. “Hey honey,” she said back to him, leaning her head against his chest. They stood in silence for a few minutes watching the rain and listening to the coffee maker brew another cup.
“Is it supposed to rain all day?” he asked, knowing that she knew the answer.
She shook her head, “No, just this morning.” Another small bout of silence and the coffee maker beeped.
“Do you want to bake today? I picked up that butter you like at the market yesterday,” he said grabbing his cup of coffee, knowing that she’d probably say yes.
“Baking is my favorite. And that butter is perfect for it,” she added, smiling at him.
“Of course. Oh, and I have a surprise for you. C’mon!” he said, grabbing the car keys suddenly.
“But I’m still in my pajamas!” she objected.
“Well, you’re not naked. Let’s go!” he motioned to the door, unaware that he was still holding his coffee cup.
“I haven’t finished my coffee and you haven’t finished yours,” she declared.
Matt quickly grabbed her coffee cup and dumped the rest of it in a Thermos to go, doing the same with his. He hurried out to the car with the keys and two Thermoses as she followed.
“Matt, what’s going on?” she asked confused.
“Here! Put this on,” he said, handing her a bandana. “It’s supposed to be a surprise.”
She rolled her eyes but put the bandana around her eyes anyway and secretly, she loved it. Surprises came only a few times a year and she sincerely enjoyed them. She knew not to ask questions. Matt wasn’t one for giving up details easily.
A twenty-minute drive, a few turns, and a few of her favorite tunes later they had arrived.
“We made it, but keep that on. We’ll get out first,” he demanded.
He helped her out of the car and laughed as she took baby steps on the sidewalk while holding onto his arm. It was funny watching her use her toes to feel the steps before she took them, especially since they were only getting out of the car and walking a few steps onto the sidewalk.
“Now can I take it off? I probably look ridiculous in this city full of people standing in my pajamas with a Thermos in one hand and bandana around my face. Now Matt?” she asked, more curious about what he was trying to pull.
“Wait for it. Wait, and…now!” he proclaimed.
She pulled off the bandana and saw an old, empty brick building with large, dusty windows and a “for rent/for sale” sign in the window. The bricks were dark colored from the rain and the mortar between them was a dark gray, once a vibrant white. The windows were in good shape and the design on top of building store belonged to a shoe store that had moved deeper into downtown.
“So…I’m standing in front of an old brick building in the rain because…why?” she asked perplexed.
Matt smiled nervously and looked down.
“A bakery, Emma. I want to open a bakery with you,” he replied softly. “I know it’s your passion and this just went on the market and I just thought that you’re so good at it and everyone loves everything you bake. Some of my coworkers have offered to pay for your cakes! And the market isn’t too far away. We can get all our ingredients there, which I know you love because they have amazing stuff, you know? We have an appointment on Thursday so we can cancel if you don’t like it. I mean, it is Saturday – we have time. You don’t have to like it but do you like it?” he rambled breathlessly, finally ending with a hopeful yes.
She smiled for the third time that morning, nodded her head, and hugged him in tears.
“I’ve only dreamed of owning a bakery,” she whispered to him through her tears.
“I know,” he replied squeezing her tighter. “C’mon, let’s go home and bake with that butter to celebrate,” he said merrily.
And they did.

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If we were having coffee…

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We would talk about our community. Our family, our friends, our kiddos, our acquaintances, our coworkers, our fellow church goers, our neighbors, etc. Even our online community – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, fellow bloggers, fellow freelance writers, editors, etc.  And I can’t tell you how many times our community has helped us. Our communities have a huge impact on us. I know ours has!

When I moved during our pregnancy (7 months along!) and my husband was states away, our community came together and carried all of our furniture over to our new apartment. All of it. I cried that night. It was the first time I had reached out to our community to help and the response was unbelievable. So many people! I couldn’t have done it on my own, let alone being 7 months pregnant. Our community helped make our first apartment become our first home.

A few months later, when Lilly was a newborn and cooking was the last thing on my mind, our community helped out and brought us dinners for a week. Can you imagine not having to worry about food for the first week of mamahood? Awesome, right?! Spaghetti, salad, tacos, pizza. All those fun classics and more. Our community fed my family when I couldn’t. Because you know, sleep deprivation and constant breastfeeding.

When I was lonely in those first few months of motherhood (because what do you do with a newborn?!), our community invited me to our church’s moms’ group. I have laughed. I have cried. I have shared. And I have heard the wisest pieces of advice from that group of women, including this one and this one too.

Once a week a friend of mine takes Lilly so I can work on blogging stuff. Without it, it would be hard to focus hearing “MOM!” coming from Lilly’s room every 5 seconds because what toddler likes quiet time? 😉

We’ve only lived in apartments so far which means no washer and dryer. I’ve been doing laundry at a gracious friend’s house once a week for the past year and a half. At the laundromat, it costs me $20 a week to do laundry. That’s $80 a month and $960 a year. My friend and her family save us almost $1,000 a year. That’s $1,000 a year, you guys. One thousand. I have absolutely no words. None.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

How does your community impact you?

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Camping

marketing tips for beginners (1)

Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

When my son’s father left us and the house was taken, it was all I had. An old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. Ah, and my wedding ring, but I pawned that as soon as I could. My 5-year-old son needed to eat and I didn’t need a wedding ring anymore.

The fighting started in January two years ago. It was snowy and icy cold that year. The frigid wind could frostbite your nose in 20 minutes, especially if you were walking against it without a scarf. We promised to never lock each other out of the house no matter how bad the fighting got. Maybe because we loved each other just enough. Or maybe because we didn’t want blood on our hands. Either way, the promise was kept.

By May we weren’t speaking. He once brought me flowers and didn’t say a word, just laid them on the kitchen table. I’m not sure why, but I think he was trying to show our son how to treat a woman. I found it honorable, but disappointing. A beautiful bouquet, but no follow through. A silent conversation begging for some kind of verbal language. But nothing.

By the fall, our mouths had grown cold from the death of our words over the months of silence. The quiet in our house bothered me so my son and I spent the majority of our time outside. On November 9th, I noticed an array of things missing – the couch, our end tables, our nightstands, the recliner. Over the next few days, more things slowly disappeared until the only thing left was our bed, my son, and I. On Thanksgiving, we ate trail mix. And by Christmas, that bed was gone and we were living in that old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. He had taken everything, except what was mine.

“Mama! We need the drill!” A small voice calls out, holding up a board. Those dark brown curls and grey-blue eyes look at me excitedly. Those strong hands pressing hard against the wood. And those freckles. Those freckles he gets from me. My sweet, strong son.

“Yeah, baby. I’m coming,” I tell him, grabbing a few more screws from the box. The old man who lives down the way, Tom Wicker, let us borrow his drill, his ladder, and bought our screws. In fact, everything for our cabin home was donated by him. The wood, the tractor to set posts, the square, the saw, the tin roof, the windows. Everything. He lets me use his address on my son’s school forms, lets us live on his land for free, and sends his teenage sons to help us if we need any. We even eat dinner at his house on Friday nights. He usually orders pepperoni pizza. The only man I’ve ever trusted and the kindest soul I’ve ever met.

“Go get the vegetable basket, honey. We need to do some picking today!” I tell him, excited for the response I always get. He turns around, looks at me, smiles big, and jumps up and down before running into the cabin and getting the rickety vegetable basket. That boy sure does love gardening! That $200 I got for my wedding ring got us a hoop house and carrot, potato, corn, onion, garlic, broccoli, strawberry, and blueberry seeds. And Mrs. Hosher gives us eggs and chicken from her coop. The only thing I get at the store is rice.

“Mama! Are these ready?” he asks, careful hands mulling around the carrots. “If the top is close to an inch long, then it’s ready baby,” I tell him. He uses his finger to measure but then gets my sewing tape out of his pocket. I smile. We’ve been working on his estimation skills, but he always likes to make sure.

We live in a home-built cabin on a man’s land, live off of crops and pizza, cook over a fire outside, and bring water in from a well.

Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

Thanks so much for reading friends! From now on, my creative writing posts will be on Fridays! 🙂 Kick off your weekend with a good read!

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Accepting Your Beauty

I was created in God's image,making my beauty my own kind of beauty.

About a month ago I found my first white hair. My very first one you guys! I’m only 24! What is happening?! And then this week, I found another one. Ahhhh! It was more platinum blonde but still pretty white, especially for this brunette. I thought about plucking them or cutting them, but I was hesitant. I’m not a very sentimental person so I was so confused at my sudden attachment, especially to some white hairs. I mean, seriously who wants those?!

Let’s be real for a sec – our culture is all about beauty. There are so many different looks and products – the no makeup-makeup look, smoky eye, wedding makeup, a million face washes, toners, moisturizers, anti aging serums, pore strips, face masks, waxing kits, spot treatments, exfoliators, hair dyes (to get rid of those white and gray hairs, right?!). I mean, just type in beauty on Pinterest and you’ll find a trillion pins of all of them.

One of my favorite verses on this very subject is Proverbs 31:30 which reads, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” I was created in God’s image, making my beauty my own kind of beauty, white hairs or not. In fact, my whole head of beautiful brunette hair will one day be a whole head of beautiful white hair, with matching white eyebrows (hopefully they match!). My firm skin will one day be wrinkled from laugh lines. My white teeth will be worn from sharing too much ice cream with my daughter, pizza with my husband, and crisp, crunchy salads with myself. My clear-ish face will have age spots from enjoying the great outdoors, hopefully growing peonies. And those things are facts. My youthful beauty will cease over time and I will be left with old, faithful wisdom. A new type of pretty. A new beauty that comes from walking with God. A beauty that is found within the depths of my soul.

And honestly, I’m good with that. Bring on the wisdom, white hairs and all. Just let me apply my mascara first.

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