Monday, July 31, 2017

Rebooting Life

We all know that when you have a computer problem the first thing you do is reboot. I heard a radio tech guy once say to reboot three times in a row. That will reset most anything and solve many, many problems.

My mom was not just my mom. She was my best friend, Woman's Pastor, art and music teacher for my kids, and so much more. When she died, I was left not really even knowing who I was.

My primary job all my adult life has been Hubby's Assistant. But a close second has always been Mom's Assistant. If I'm not doing that, who am I?

I now find, looking back, that ever since she was diagnosed with cancer I have been rebooting parts of my life.
  • I switched to a self-teaching method of homeschooling for a while. Came back to my preferred method a little more than a year ago.
  • Sold my chickens. Coyotes were eating them anyway. Re-bought new ones a year and a half ago. 
  • Quit gardening (not that I've ever been a big gardener, but I did use to do a bit each spring). Just plain quit (my oldest has kept the trees alive during that time). Began gardening again this June, probably more than ever. 
  • Haven't sewn, or done many crafts at all in a long time. Not sure how much I even want to. I'm good at them, but don't really enjoy them all that much.
  • Took time off doing sermon videos. 
  • Pretty much have neglected the church website. All my other blogs, too. 
  • Haven't written much at all.
It's been like, unconsciously, I've been trying life without one thing after another to decide what I really want to bother with.  For a while I only took care of the house, kids, Hubby, and bits and pieces absolutely necessary for the church.

I actually had time to take a nap in the afternoon if I wanted to!

Kind of decluttering me.

  • I am trying to spend more time with family, do more stuff with them and less on the computer.
  • Much of the computer church stuff I was doing isn't necessary and won't be resumed. Some will, though.
  • I want animals. I feel better mentally when I have them around (I mean besides the dog and cat.) I like playing "farmer." And now that a couple of our boys have jobs and won't be free to go on vacation with us anyway, I have someone to feed them when I am out of town.
  • I finally found a way to garden I think I can handle and enjoy. I don't like digging, and it seems like a waste of time to de-plant a garden bed, dig it all up, plant, weed, harvest, and then have to do it all again next year. With permaculture/no-dig methods I fix the beds once and then just maintain, chop-and-dropping the plants that grow up to be the mulch for next year. I think I can actually handle this! 
  • I need to write. Don't know that I'll do more books, but there are many other options in this high tech age for writing. Blogs, for example, are much simpler. And available away from the house without carrying a box of books around.
 Don't know what the future holds, but I am deciding what I want it to include and what I don't. It really is OK to not do everything. Even things I'm good at. It's OK to let them go.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thinking out loud

Or, errrr, with my fingers?


I have scaled everything back I've been doing. Sort of decluttering my schedule. I have known all along I would eventually add some stuff back, but was not sure what all.

I know I need to do more for the church as far as social media. With the help of "If This Then That" and equivalents, it won't be as hard as it could be. Still, what do I do? The church has:

  • A blog/website (4 blogs put together to look like one website, none of which currently has the actual "blog" feature available. I'm using it for other stuff.). 
  • A facebook account
  • A Google account
  • A Youtube account (this is one of those things I've slacked off on. There are a couple of members of the church have been taking care of posting videos of the sermon when they are there, but unfortunately because of health and work schedules they miss often. So, I've been recording the sermons when they are gone, but haven't been doing anything with them. I need to remedy that.)
Ideally, perfectly, I would write a weekly "newsletter" with prayer requests and praise reports, last week's sermon link, next week's music (which I am responsible for picking and leading and don't always get picked before Saturday afternoon), maybe something inspirational, a picture, and ?

Now, back to reality...

Just don't know that I want to commit to putting this kind of time into this :-( Would it really help any?  I don't mind the extra time if it helps the church, but I don't want to "cast my pearls before swine," so to speak. I don't want to waste my time.

And then I have my own ministries (a blog to mom's that gets posted on rarely, one for homeschooling, herbs, health, ...sigh....I see part of the problem...but where do I cut?)

And then we do business. I am an independent stylist for Lilla Rose hair accessories (mostly so I get the 30% discount when buying for my own family; something the company is perfectly fine with.)

God has also gifted me artistically. I can draw, mostly horses. I have a responsibility to use my talents, but what is the best way?

Add to this that I really want to do more study in herbs, but am having trouble finding the time :-P


(All while continuing to homeschool, cook from scratch, etc.)

Decisions, decisions.
O Lord You are my God.  I will exalt You. I will praise Your name for You have done wonderful things.  Your councils of old are faithfulness and truth. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Of the Storm

It could be said that there was no finer example of the stubbornness of the race of man than the handful who lived in Stormhold. 

A nearly mythical city of ice and crystal, it was nestled in the arctic lands of the Western Haven continent, built atop a frozen lake to allow direct access to the freshwater hidden beneath a nearly thousand foot thick sheet of ice. 

Four massive support beams, each more than six hundred feet wide, stretched from the city to the lake’s mountainous shores, allowing travelers to come and go without making the treacherous journey across the windswept lake itself. 

This was about it as far as conveniences went: Stormhold rarely recorded temperatures above forty below, was regularly pummeled with blizzards rivaling those on the highest peaks of the southwestern mountains, was a month’s horseback travel from the next closest city and was even squarely in the path of a basilisk migration route.

And yet, it was still called home by many Humans, mostly exiles and outlaws. 

Stormhold’s other citizens, all belonging to much heartier races like Dark Elves and Yeti, were collectively torn between resenting the omnipresence of the World’s most widespread race and being grateful for any company they could get. 

Stormhold was not a crowded city by any means, it’s population peaking in the summer at only about fifty thousand, so the empty streets of the snowbound metropolis could be incredibly lonely, even for the most solitary of races.

Stormhold was really a testament to the perseverance of all races, not just Humans. Although the identity of it’s original founders were lost to time long ago, their legacy survived on in a collection of frost-bitten but indomitable people, brought closer together by a shared desire to survive in the harshest of lands. 

Anyone lost in the far southern wilderness of West Haven could expect a warm welcome in one of Stormhold’s several inns, regardless if they were friends, princes or even outlaws. Or at least, that’s what the lone traveler making her way across the eastern support beam was hoping.

She struggled to make her way through the deep snow drifts, not helped by the howling wind threatening to blow her right off the road. It would be much easier going if she could use her hands, but she knew the bundle she carried was far too precious to put down, even for a moment. So she pressed on, saying a silent prayer of thanks for her natural immunity to the biting cold of southern West Haven.

After what felt like hours, she finally passed the front gates and entered Stormhold itself. The city walls provided much needed relief from the storm, though the ground was still covered in deep drifts of snow. The weather was so bad, even for southern West Haven, that there didn’t seem to be a single person out on the streets, not even a guard. She looked around desperately for someone who could help her or some kind of shelter, preferably an indoor one, but the City seemed dark and lifeless. She had to get her bundle out of the cold, so with no other choice she stumbled forwards, continuing her search for a safe haven. 

She wondered what time it was: the dark storm clouds had covered the sky for as long as she could remember, making it impossible to tell if it was high noon or midnight.

A darkened tavern loomed ahead of her, wooden sign banging in the wind. She was about to approach it when a flicker of light caught her attention and she turned to see a glow a ways down the road, barely visible through the flurries of snow and ice. 

Making a quick decision, she turned and made her way for the light, strength and hope growing when she realized it was coming from the window of a church. 

Practically running now, she made it to the front steps in record time and banged on the door. She didn’t have to wait long for the sound of a bolt being drawn back and the glorious feeling of warmth and light as the door was pulled open.

The lone traveler and Priest stared at one another, both taking in the odd sight of the stranger. 

The Priest was a bear of a man, probably having more than a little Giant blood in him: He stood almost eleven feet tall and had to bend down to even fit in the door frame. His burly face and hands were covered in wrinkles and hair, his robes were a faded purple and ragged in places and his black eyes had a twinkle in them, even when screwed up in surprise at his unexpected visitor.

She was woefully underdressed for the climate, wearing a short sleeved shirt, skirt and scarf. She did have a jacket, but it was wrapped around the small bundle she clutched close to her chest. It was hard to tell if her clothes were actually white or if it just looked that way from the snow covering her from her fur boots to her turquoise hair. 

What was easy to tell was that she was exhausted to the point of near death.

What in the world are you doing out there?” The Priest demanded, pulling her inside and slamming the door closed.

He quickly had it bolted again and turned to see the woman had already stumbled over to the Church’s roaring fireplace, setting the bundle down in front of it and softly whispering something to it. Last ounce of energy spent, she collapsed next to the bundle and just sat there, breathing heavily.

What in the world did you think you were doing out there?” The Priest repeated. “It’s a miracle you didn’t freeze to death!”

Come to think of it, she did look miraculously untouched by the deadly weather, though it hardly made up for the rest of her condition. She was covered in scrapes and bruises, was as thin as a rail and had a bloody bandage tied around her forehead. The only way he could even tell that she was alive was her slow, pained breathing and her eyes, which were a shining gold and darted around, taking in her surroundings.

No… choice… “ The woman managed to pant out. “Woke up… miles away… had to… too cold… Hangman…”

Alright, take it easy” The Priest said warmly, grabbing an emergency blanket from the entrance way and draping it over the woman. “You just lie there and warm up. You can tell me all about it after you’ve rested a bit.”

The woman made no reply: she had already closed her eyes in blissful unconsciousness.

She had no idea how long she rested; when she opened her eyes again the storm was still howling outside and the fire was getting low. The Priest sat in a nearby pew, head bowed and hands folded. His lips moved silently, so he was probably praying, not sleeping. He looked up at the sound of her shakily getting to her feet and smiled.

Feeling better?” He asked, standing up himself. “You gave me quite a fright, coming in here like that.”

The Priest’s smile was as big as he was, a beaming grin born from many long, joyful years. His robes hung loosely on him, being designed for an even bigger person than himself (His wife, actually), which only added to his casual, friendly air. This wasn’t the first time a weary traveler had taken refuge in the Church, though it normally didn’t happen in a storm this bad; The locals knew better than to go out on a night like this.

Much, thanks” The woman answered with a weak smile, checking on her bundle before stumbling over to the pew across from the Priest. “I can’t thank you enough, actually.”

Think nothing of it: I’m only glad I could help” The Priest answered, an edge of relief to his voice. “Our doors are always opened, metaphorically speaking; otherwise the snow would get in. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need. In fact, just wait a few hours and you’ll be able to attend Friday morning service! I think it’ll just be me and Father Viel otherwise. No one else is crazy enough to brave this weather.”

That sounds… nice, actually” The woman replied, relaxing in her seat and holding her head in her hands, feeling the bandage wrapped around her head.

I can change that for you, if you’d like” The Priest offered, receiving a shake of the head and murmured ‘thanks anyways’ in answer. “Alright. Do you have a name, sister?”

The woman stopped and stared at the floor for several very long moments. Finally, she looked up and tentatively replied “Winter”, like she was testing it out to see if it sounded right. Then, she smirked to herself and added “That’s ironic.”

Indeed. Are you sure you don’t need to sleep a bit longer?” The Priest asked, a little worried about the hesitation she showed in knowing her own name.

I wish I could” Winter said sadly. “And I wish I could remember why I can’t. I’m tired, so very, very tired. But that’s not why I can’t remember. Everything is a blur, like someone’s picked apart my mind, like my memories have been… worn out somehow. Is that normally what happens when you’re shot in the head?”

She sounded sincere, but the Priest couldn’t make heads or tails of what she had said so he did the only thing he could think of- offered to make her some tea. Winter agreed to this readily and undid her bandage. Examining her wound while the Priest (“Brother Ezra, by the way. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sister Winter”) went about making the tea. 

When he returned with two steaming mugs the size of buckets, she quickly apologized for the mess she was making and hastily offered to throw away the bloody bandages. He waved her off, glanced at the injury, which was indeed a bullet wound, and again offered to tend to it for her.

She finally relented and took a deep sip from her oversized cup as Bro. Ezra went about putting fresh dressings on her wound. The steaming liquid filled her with warmth and a new strength, while the proper medical care did much to soften the pounding ache in her head she hadn’t even noticed before. Feeling much better, she thanked the Priest again and again for his help.

You’re just lucky you apparently don’t keep anything important up here like the rest of us” Ezra joked, earning him a sheepish chuckle. “But seriously, you’re lucky I was here tonight: we haven’t always had someone here overnight, ‘just in case’, you know. Let’s see: it would have started about six years ago, when my wife passed and Father Viel asked me to take over as his deputy bishop. Poor man never had a family of his own. He says it’s because his ‘First and truest love will always be the Word’, but just between you and me, I think it’s the beard.”

Winter laughed at that, taking another long drink while Brother Ezra disposed of the old bandages, before returning to his original seat and starting on his own mug of tea.

By the way,” He asked between mouthfuls. “If you don’t mind me asking too much, and if you can remember, what were you doing out there?”

Oh. I… I was walking” Winter said slowly. “Here, I think. I woke up… very far away. Somewhere in the woods. I had… My…" She trailed off, staring into the steam rising from her mug.
You said something about a ‘Hangman’ before you passed out.” Brother Ezra suggested helpfully. “What was-”

It was his turn to be interrupted as there was a loud knocking at the Church’s door. The two froze, Winter’s face suddenly clouding over with fear. Brother Ezra, however, had already got to his feet and was marching across the room to the door.

I’m coming!” He called as the knocking continued, before adding under his breath. “Though the Lord only knows what you’re doing out there in the first place. Two in one night?”

As soon as the bolt was undone, the door was thrown open and five men pushed their way inside. Brother Ezra immediately recognized the gray cloaks and black sword hilts of the Wolf Pack, a band of outlaws who roamed the mountains surrounding Stormhold. Normally they would be quite welcome (There wasn’t enough people in Stormhold for anyone but the Guards to really care if you were a criminal or not) but the Priest had a feeling they hadn’t made their way through the storm just to pay a visit to the local Church.

So this is where you ran off to Girlie” The leader, a burly human with a pointed chin and messy blonde hair, sneered, confirming Brother Ezra’s fears. “I’ll give you this: you’re not easy to hunt.”

Winter had moved to stand in front of the fireplace, back to the wall and her bundle clutched tightly in her arms. With one hand still supporting the bundle, she used the other to draw a gleaming white sword and point it warningly at the bandits. Brother Ezra blinked: she hadn’t been armed when she came in, had she?

Oh look, she still has some teeth” The leader laughed, though it sounded cold and humourless. “I’d expect nothing less from the person who slaughtered two dozen of my men.”

The outlaws pulled off their cloaks and drew their own blades, while Winter paused, lowering her sword and thinking hard about what the Wolf Pack leader had said. The look of confusion soon gave way to one of determination, though, and she raised her sword again.

I had no choice” She said simply. “They attacked me first.”

Of course they did! They were bandits!” The leader spat. “Doesn’t make it any easier to find them dismembered and frozen, hacked apart by some crazy she-demon.”

I’m sorry” Winter said sincerely. “I didn’t want to hurt your friends.”

Friends? Ha! Hated their guts” The leader said with a shrug, which did nothing to put Winter at ease. “We sure didn’t chase you all this way just to avenge them. No, we’re here for somewhat else: see, some of the boys were still alive when we showed up, and they managed to tell us about your little secret. There are people who would kill for what you got there.”

Winter’s bundle chose that moment to wake up and start crying. Brother Ezra’s eye widened in surprise: it was a child! No more than six month old. Winter did her best to comfort the crying infant while still staring down the bandits: her eyes flared with an intensity that made all the bandits hesitate.

I already have” She said cooly.

Yeah, that’s just it though” The leader said, regaining some of his confidence when one of Winter’s legs suddenly gave out and she had to lean against the wall for support. “The boys said you were already in a poor way when you plowed through them, the worthless grubs. We’ve been hunting you for miles since and you don’t look the better for it. Step aside or we may just decide we’re in a avenging mood after all.”

The standoff was interrupted by the sound of the Church doors being closed and locked.

Sorry about that” Brother Ezra said with a forced smile, turning to face the Wolf Pack members. “It was getting cold. You boys should really stay the night, it’s got too dangerous out there for even you bunch. I would recommend leaving the lady alone, though.”

Stay out of this, Gramps” The leader ordered, getting a sly grin. “I was going to be a Priest when I was younger, you know: It was the oath of non-violence that really broke the deal, you know? But it obviously didn’t stop you, so you can just shut it. Your preaching won’t save girlie here.”

It wasn’t her I was worried about” Brother Ezra replied matter of factly. “I’ve been told the most dangerous creature in the world is a Dragon backed into a corner, but I don’t buy that. I say it’s a mother protecting her children.”

The Outlaws thought about that for a second, before the Leader took a confident step towards the Priest.

Then wouldn’t the most dangerous creature in the world be a mother Dragon?” He asked smartly. “I don’t see none of them here. Take her!”

The other four bandits charged Winter, while the leader placed himself between them and Brother Ezra. With amazing speed for someone of his size, the Priest sprinted forwards and grabbed the leader, ignored his attempts to stab him (the sword broke against his thick skin) and threw him into one of the Church’s crystal walls. There was an audible crack and the bandit leader fell to the ground in a crumpled heap while Brother Ezra, without breaking a stride, continued his charge, literally trampling two more outlaws.

The final pair of bandits were right on top of Winter, when one found himself lifted into the air and brought down with tremendous force on his partner. Not the one nor the other got back up, and neither did the the rest of the Wolf Pack: they were all either unconscious or pretending to be to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Human stubbornness apparently ran out somewhere between living in arctic cities and messing with an angry half-giant.

Winter, relief and exhaustion flooding over her, slid to the ground, dropping the white sword and cradling the child with both arms. The last act of defiance against the Bandits had taken her last bit of strength from her and she was continent to sit and watch Brother Ezra ‘clean up’ the Church.

Oath of non-violence, huh?” He was muttering to himself. “Oh well, I think Father Viel will forgive me this infraction. He’d probably have joined me if he were, come to think of it.”

Brother Ezra looked at the Outlaws now piled into the back pew, none of whom had anything worse than a few broken bones, and somehow couldn’t bring himself to feel guilty about intervening. He left them lying there, pretending not to hear the series of curses being thrown at his back by the incapacitated leader, and walked back over to Winter, who smiled weakly up at him.

If you say ‘Thank you’ one more time I might have to throw you back outside” He warned her as she made to speak. She said it anyways and he graciously accepted it.

Oath or no oath, I wasn’t about to just stand by and let them do anything to you two while you were in my Church” he said shortly. “I have to ask though: why are bandits taking such a interest in your child?”

Winter, to his surprise, gave a tired laugh at the question.

I wish I knew” She said.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017