Boondock Ramblings

I think maybe we all need this reminder right now – this week – in the midst of some very crazy things unfolding.

Boondock Ramblings

Many of us are running to our phones or computers every morning, looking for some good news.

“God, just let there be some good news out there right now,” I find myself saying.

Yes, I’m asking God to make the national news media give me good news.

How backward is that? Very it turns out.

One thing I have learned is that I can not receive the peace of God if I am filling my mind and my thoughts with other voices.

I can’t run to the national media, looking for their reassurance and their peace because they don’t have it for me. They don’t want me to have it. Their business thrives on turmoil and fear. Tragedy and anger and fear and scandal sells. Period. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Don’t look to entertainers, to television personalities or news channels or even pastors to bring you comfort or to…

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Welcome to my random thoughts. Which are often weird and, well, random.

***

My daughter and I watched the Spirit movie, which is about a wild horse. Some of her comments during it included: “First, that’s not how gravity works,” when the horse jumped a gap the equivalency of the Grand Canyon.

Then, when a horse who had been badly injured earlier in the movie shows up alive: “Oh, so she’s still alive. Great. So, it’s going to be one of those movies, I guess.”

She definitely gets this from me because I’m always questioning the realism of movies and books, even if I enjoy the movie or book

***

Our pets have some interesting quirks. I think I’ve mentioned before that our older cat, Pixel, likes to have the water turned on for her in the bathroom sink. She started doing this at our old house and when we moved here, one of the first things I did is turn the water in the bathroom sink on for her to make her feel more at home. Every night when I go to bed she jumps up on the sink and waits for me to turn it on. However, it has to be turned on at just the right force, which is hardly any at all, or she will sit back and give me that “narrowed-eyed bored” look that cats give off when they are annoyed, tired, bored, angry and happy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood there tapping the faucet handle to get just the right amount of water velocity to please this cat.

We’ve only been in this house a year (a year this next week, actually), but already our dog has seasonal traditions, including chasing the bunnies in our backyard during the spring when we let her out on her lead. I don’t even know how she knows they are out there but she will start pacing and whining in the living room and by the time I get her to the back door she’s all tensed up like a racehorse before they’re let out of the shoot. She sticks her nose against the bottom of the door while I hook up her lead and zooms out across the yard as soon as I let her go to catch the offending creatures bouncing in the yard. Sadly, her lead only goes so far, so she never catches them. I let her off one time to give her a chance but she disappeared somewhere over the wood-covered hill behind our house and it took us 10 minutes to get her to come back. That’s not so bad if it’s during the day, but less fun when it is pitch black out and she’s pitch black as well. I’m never sure what else she will encounter out there in the woods (we haven’t seen the area bear yet this year, but I’m sure she’ll be back sooner rather than later.)



***

You know what bothers me about headlines that say a political official “went off script”? That they’re admitting to you that there is a “script” and you are part of their “story.”

***

My family uses a lot of mustard. When I buy mustard, I buy four or five a time and keep them in the pantry because I know some crisis shall befall my children if they reach into the fridge to make their bologna sandwiches and there is no mustard to put on it. I still don’t understand how they eat bologna or mustard. I’ve never been a fan of either.



***

My husband and I are still trying to figure out what town council decided it would be wise to hire a group of dogs and a pre-pubescent boy to run the emergency department for their town. No, this isn’t something ripped from the headlines. Our daughter is back on a Paw Patrol kick. We also can’t figure out why they only have about six people in town yet need all that gear and technology. It has to be costing them a fortune. Not to mention those six people account for almost all the emergencies in town. Maybe it would just be wiser to lock those people up in a room to keep themselves from getting stranded in the ocean, falling into wells, or setting buildings on fire.

I had similar issues back in the day about Max and Ruby. My son loved that show but I could never figure out where Max and Ruby’s parents were and why these children, clearly under the age of 10, were living alone in a house while their grandmother occasionally checked in on them. Once upon a time I wrote an entire blog post about how frustrated the plot line of that cartoon (and book series) made me, but thankfully that blog is long gone and you won’t be subjected to that clear cry for help from a stay-at-home mom who desperately needed (needs) a life.

***

My son wanted a medieval helmet so we let him get one. I don’t know why, but wearing it downtown to pick up a pizza with his friend made him very happy, so there we go.

My family has been trying to help me make my current work in progress more exciting.

***

Stressed this week? Push play on this and take a deep breath.

Those are my random thoughts for the week. How about yours? Let me know in the comments.

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about What I’m Reading, watching, writing, listening to and doing.

What I’m Reading

Little Miss and I have finished quite a few Marguerite Henry books now including Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy: Misty’s Foal, Sea Star, King of the Wind, and this week we will finish Black Gold.

We abandoned the White Stallion of Lipizza because it was fairly slow. We may go back to it later, but this week I hope to start reading either Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables. I am actually reading a hard copy of Anne of Green Gables that I picked up years ago from Barnes and Noble. The old-fashioned looking cover and style of the book attracted me, but I put it on a bookshelf for probably 15 years before I ever actually opened it last week. I always loved the movie with Megan Fallows but I don’t think I ever actually finished the book, so I plan to read a few chapters a week and savor it.

The Boy and I are reading To Kill A Mockingbird during the week and unlike the other books we read this year, this one hasn’t felt like I’m being forced to read it. I’m actually enjoying this book and look forward to reading it after my daughter goes to sleep each night. I enjoyed the other books we read, but sometimes I had to force myself to sit down and get through the assigned chapters. Actually, once I got into Silas Marner, I looked forward to finding out what happened. For Lord of the Flies, I knew nothing good was going to happen, so I actually dreaded continuing on.

Lord of the Flies was not part of any of the set curriculum we had this year. I chose it on my own because I felt it was an important book for him to read and he might enjoy a book about young boys who go wild on a deserted island. Instead, we both ended up somewhat depressed after reading it and longed for something slightly less depressing. Which is why I chose To Kill A Mockingbird. Why, yes, that is sarcasm. Why do you ask? Really, though, To Kill A Mockingbird, even with its eventual tough subject is a little more cheerful at times than Lord of the Flies.

I know many people say To Kill A Mockingbird should be banned because it is “racist” since it uses the “n-word” more than once, but I am smart enough to recognize that Lee is telling this story from the point of a child who was taught to use the n-word by the culture she was in. Lee isn’t saying the word should be used, or that it is right. We are using the book as a learning opportunity and others should do the same.

This week I might delve into a couple lighter Christian fiction book as well. I just finished a Christian novella for an author. I enjoyed it but it ended much too soon. Now I know why my novella is my least popular book. Well, it could be the least popular because it isn’t good, but I also wonder if it is because it is so short. For the book I was reading, I was just getting into the characters and the book and then it ended rather abruptly. My first book did the same, however, so I can’t say much.

In between all the fiction I am also reading Beyond Order 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson.

What I’m Watching

We have been watching a lot of Everybody Loves Raymond on Peacock. We’ve had some bad news in or around our family lately, or simply in the news, so I have needed comedy.

I watched an independent film this week on Amazon called The Ultimate Life. There is another movie called The Ultimate Legacy and they both have similar themes. The Ultimate Life is about a billionaire who learns he needs to rearrange his priorities in life after he reads his grandfather’s journal. The Ultimate Legacy stars the same actor, Logan Bartholomew, but he is a rich young man who can’t get his inheritance until he completes several steps she sets up in her will. Both movies are by the same studio and are listed under faith and spirituality. They are clean. They are also both fairly well written and acted.

I also watched a Miss Marple episode from the 2005 series and did not enjoy it. I’m too much of a fan of Joan Hickson from the 1980s series. The lady in this series was way too creepy. She looked like she was zoning out or something. And some of what she said made her sound like a serial killer herself.

What I’m Listening To

When I do have time to listen to music, I have been listening to a lot of worship music lately.

I also listened to Jeannie Robertson when going to bed a couple times this past week, but I’ve been falling asleep fairly fast so I don’t catch a lot of it. If you aren’t familiar with Jeannie, she’s a hilarious older lady from North Carolina who talks about a variety of subjects. I will leave a YouTube clip here for you so you can have a sample of her style of comedy (which is light, laid back, and is drawn from her everyday life.

What I’m Writing

I did not write other blog posts this past week, mainly because I felt depressed about the state of the world and had no real ideas on how to share anything without sounding depressed. I have drafted a Randomly Thinking post for this week and I’m sure I will come up with other topics to blog on this upcoming week as the weather is set to be as warm and nice as last week.

I have been working on The Farmers’ Sons and shared a chapter from that on Friday. I am not sure I will stick with that title for the final book. If any of my readers have an idea for a book title, let me know. I will be sure to mention you in my acknowledgements. *wink*

What’s Been Occurring

My son picked up a medieval helmet last week. He was absolutely thrilled when it arrived and walked downtown with his friend to pick up a pizza. Other people enjoyed seeing at as well, including a man who slowed his car down, pointed at my son and yelled, “Awesome mask!”

My husband said he thinks people just need to be cheered up these days and see something funny and light because he witnessed similar responses from people on Saturday when he and my son went to see a movie (their first in over a year) at a small theater near us and my son wore the helmet inside. My son said a little boy watched him either in horror or awe as he shoved the straw of his drink through one of the holes in the helmet to drink while he waited for the movie to start.

One man stopped him in the Aldi’s parking lot and asked to take a photo with him.

The Boy has always loved dressing up and going out in public. I’m surprised he still enjoys it, since he’s become a bit of a recluse as a teenager. At the start of all this virus craziness, he purchased a Plague Doctor Mask and went into stores wearing it instead of a regular face mask.

As a little boy, he loved to dress up as Ninjas or superheroes and go with me to dentist appointments or the store. When he was about 3-years-old, I took him to the local supermarket dressed as Ironman. He got away from me at one point, racing down an aisle. I grabbed what I needed to off a shelf and turned the corner, expecting him to be in the next aisle. He wasn’t. I started to panic and began looking up and down the aisles. I was in the bread section when a voice came over the loudspeaker.

“We have a young Ironman at the front of the store if anyone is missing him.”

Oh boy.

I headed up to the front and was informed they had tried to get him to tell them his name, but he’d only yelled out “repulser blast!” held his hand out and pretended to blast them with the toy blasters on his hands.

The staff seemed mainly amused by the interaction. One seemed a little annoyed, but he apparently had no sense of humor.

We finally tried to curb his costume wearing when he started wearing a Deadpool mask, without really understanding who Deadpool was, other than he was “cool” (Deadpool was way too rated R for him then and still is now, both in the comics and the movies), and yelling at people who thought he was Spiderman.

“I’m not Spiderman! I’m Deadpool!” he screamed at an elderly lady one time.

Yikes.

The Boy cringes now that he was ever so rude, but he was about 6-years-old. We had a good talk about it and he never did it more than a couple of times.

Little Miss isn’t as thrilled with dressing up in public.

She and I were able to get to the playground a couple of times this past week thanks to the warmer temperatures.

I would like to take her to a larger playground, but she is quite happy with the very tiny one in our little town, so we drive down the hill and push her on the tire swing and swings for a while and come home. Works for me.

Thanks to the nice weather we were also able to have Easter at our house with my parents (steaks on the grill instead of a our traditonal Easter ham) and held an Easter egg hunt for the kids in the backyard.

So that’s my week in review. How was your week? What are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.

Fiction Friday: The Farmers’ Sons Chapter 4

Welcome to Chapter 4 of The Farmers’ Sons.

As always this is a work in progress so this chapter will probably change in content and definitely with typos before a future publication as an ebook.

To catch up on the story click HERE.

***

Spencer was a small town, quieter than a city, but still nosier than a small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Instead of drifting off to the sound of crickets and peepers, the squeal of tires, revving of diesel engines, laughter from people leaving the bar down the street, and the occasional whoop of a teenager pulling a late night wheelie for his friends bombarded Ellie’s ears. She’d purchased a white noise machine after a sleepless first week. The synthetic sound of running water had finally helped her drift off and stay asleep.

Tonight, though, she’d scrolled through all the sounds her machine offered and nothing was working.

Chirping birds, jungle sounds, a train bumping on the tracks, the whir of a fan, the hum of an air conditioner.

None of them could drown out her racing thoughts, her memories of the night Jason had not-actually proposed. She still couldn’t believe she’d been so stupid not to notice he’d never actually said the words. It had taken a conversation with Judi a week later to make her question if he really had intended to propose that night or not.

She’d been organizing her bookshelf in her room at the farm when the buzz of the cellphone startled her. As she remembered the call, she realized organizing her bookshelf was apparently a favorite pastime for her. She had shoved Pride and Prejudice back into the “A” section of the bookcase and checked the caller ID.

Oh, great. This should be fun.

“Hello, Judi.”

“Heya, sister of mine. Tell me you’re somewhere exciting doing something that would make me proud.”

Ellie rolled her eyes toward the ceiling, kneeling back in front of the bookcase. “I’m in my room. Organizing books.”

Judi snorted. “Why am I not surprised? You’re so predictable, El.”

A car horn sounded in the background and a mix of car engines and voices filtered through the receiver.

Ellie slid another book onto the shelf. “On your way to work?”

“I’m at a café, actually. They have the best lattes and blueberry scones, and a beautiful veranda overlooking Central Avenue. So, what’s up with you. Anything new?”

Nothing I’m going to tell you about.

“Nope. I’m predictable. Like you said.”

Judi’s laughter grated on Ellie’s nerves. “Predictable, loyal, dedicated, and perfect. That’s my big sister. Still living with mom and dad, I suppose?”

Ellie bristled. “You know I am.”

Judi’s laugh was infuriating. Ellie pictured her wearing a pair of sunglasses, her honey brown hair spilling down her back, bright red lipstick, her head tipped back as she laughed.

“You’re such a trooper, Ellie. Helping mom and dad out and working two jobs. Always showing off. You know, you really should move up here with me. Expand your horizons. Kick the dust off that cruddy little town already.”

Ellie slammed a book into the bookcase. Tension grabbed at the back of her neck, spread down her shoulders. “Judi, you know I can’t.”

“Why?” There was a long slurp, and a muted snorting laugh, following by words dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, right . . . Jason.” Ellie could practically hear the eye-roll. “Your dud of a boyfriend who hasn’t even proposed to you after all these years.”

The tension clutched at Ellie’s jaw, slithered down her chest. “Actually—”

“Wait.” There was a clink on the other end of the line, probably Judi’s glass of peach iced tea on the surface of the table. She always drank peach tea with a twist of lemon. “Did he actually propose?”

Ellie immediately regretted even starting down this path. “Well, sort of —”

“Sort of? What do you mean, sort of? He either has or he hasn’t.”

Ellie closed her eyes against the onslaught of interrogation from her younger sister. She pressed her fingertips against her temple. “He did.”

Judi’s excitement was palpable. Her breath quickened. Ellie could picture her leaning forward, darkly lined eyeliner framing wide green eyes. “What did he say? How did he do it? Tell me everything.”

Ellie felt a pulsating rhythm under her fingertips. “Actually, I asked him if he was eve going to propose. He almost drove off the road and then he said he was going to talk to me about marriage that night, actually.”

Judi’s excitement had waned some. Her tone flattened. “Soooo… wait. You asked him first about it? That’s sort of weird. Like, did he actually say the words?”

“The words?”

“Uh. Yeah. The words.” Judi’s tone indicated she thought Ellie should understand her meaning. “You know, like, ‘will you marry me Elizabeth Alexandria Lambert and make me the happiest man in the world?’”

The thumping rhythm in Ellie’s temple had increased, pushing an ache through the rest of her head. “You’ve been watching way too many romantic movies, Jud.”

A long sigh huffed against her ear. “Well, did he at least say, ‘will you marry me?’ And give you a ring?”

The phone tightened in her hand, and her jaw ached from clenching it. “No. He didn’t say that, and he didn’t have the ring with him.”

Standing at the window across from her bed, Ellie had looked out at her dad driving a tractor into the field. Her mother had been hanging a sheet onto the clothesline between the maple trees in the side yard.

“But you said he said he was going to talk to you about it at dinner, so why wouldn’t he —”

“I don’t know.” Ellie was snapping now. “He just didn’t.”

More slurping and the click of well-manicured nails on a tabletop.

“Well, that’s not very romantic.” Ellie didn’t have to see Judi to know she was making a face.  “But at least you two are finally getting married. This has dragged out long enough. Do mom and dad know?”

Turning from the window, an anxious buzz hummed in her ears, and she marched to the laundry basket to quiet it. She cradled the phone against her shoulder and ear.

Blue top, tan khakis, blue and green striped socks. Red top, light blue denim capris, white socks with red hearts. White ruffled shirt, light blue pencil skirt, tan high heels.

“No. No one knows yet except us and now you. We want to keep it that way, so keep this between us. We’re going to announce it at the firemens banquet in August. After he gets the ring.”

  A series of giggles in the background made it sound like Judi was at a wild party. Her voice faded to muffled mumbling. “Miranda! Heya! Yeah! I’ll be right over, sweets. I’m talking to my sister.” Her voice was louder again. “Calm down, Els-Bells, I won’t tell anyone. I promise. But let me know when I can because I totally want to tell Melanie Fitzgerald – oops, I mean Stanton — I forgot she got married.”

Ellie folded another series of clothes into a coordinating outfit, sliding them in a drawer, scrunching her face in a questioning expression. “Why Melanie?”

“Because we were all friends in high school and she’d be so happy for you. Plus, she bet me $20 Jason would never propose that last time I was home.”

Ellie pulled the phone from her ear and scowled at it. Judi had been friends with Melanie, not her. She thought about reminding her sister is this fact, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Judi was still stuck in high school.

 “Okay, Judi, I’ve got to go.” She slammed the dresser drawer shut. “I’ve got a shift at the farm store in a half an hour.”

Judi’s voice was far away again. “A refill on the peach tea with a twist of lemon, the summer breeze salad with grilled chicken, avocado , cucumber, no tomatoes, and a light balsamic vinaigrette on the side. Right. That’s perfect.” The patronizing click of the tongue made Ellie wince and pull the phone back from her ear again. “Oooh, Ellie,” she cooed. “You’re such a good girl. Helping the Tanners, helping at the farm, teaching those little kiddies. You’re such a saint. So steadfast and dependable.” Judi sighed and if it had been anyone else, Ellie would have interpreted her tone as sentimental. “Anyhoo, have to go. The new guy from the men’s department is here. I’m going to see if he wants to join me and the girls for lunch. Talk later.”

The phone went dead.

Ellie sat on the bed, tossing the phone onto the bedside table. 

Steadfast and dependable.

She knew Judi really meant.

Boring and predictable.

Ellie had quit her part-time job at the Tanner’s store the week after she found about Jason and the girl at college, rented an apartment in town and marched down to Missy’s one Saturday morning and asked for this haircut. It had been a long time coming. The need to change and the changes themselves.

Rolling onto her back and staring at the ceiling in the darkness, she huffed out a sigh.

Changing her appearance and her location wouldn’t change how she’d had to rearrange her life plans again, though. During her senior year of high school, the list had read, valedictorian, graduation, Bachelors in Education, career, marriage, children.

When Jason had suggested the break in college, she’d added question marks to marriage and children. But when they’d started dating again five years ago, she’d been able to add marriage and children back.

Now, though, she’d scratched a thick dark line through the words in her journal. She didn’t know if she’d ever add them back.

***

“Hey, Jason.” Molly called to him from the back room of the store. “We’ve got an order here for Mr. and Mrs. Weatherly. Can you drop it off on your way by?”

He’d just delivered a few hundred pounds of locally produced beef and pork from the meat packing plant two hours away, still had stalls to shovel and a tractor to fix, but dropping a delivery off to two of the nicest people he knew wouldn’t be a problem.

“You bet.”

Molly smiled as he lifted the box. “You don’t mind because Mrs. Weatherly always gives you cookies when you stop.”

He was just glad she wasn’t looking at him the way she’d looked in the parking lot of the church a few weeks ago. He still hadn’t talked to her about it and didn’t know how.

“Cookies, a pie, a piece of cake. Whatever she’s baked that day. What can I say? She loves me.”

His sister rolled her eyes and laughed. “You keep taking those cookies and that stomach of yours is going to grow.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “I’ll just work it all off at the gym the next morning.”

When he reached the Weatherly’s, Ann Weatherly was on the front porch with a smile, wearing a white apron with a border of red cherries running across the bottom.

“Jason Tanner, you’re a sweetheart.” She opened the door for him. “Put it right on the kitchen table there and then I’ll get you a piece of apple pie. I just took it out of the oven.”

He set the box down and held his hand up. “No, no, Mrs. Weatherly. I don’t need any pie. Really.”

She propped her hands on her hips. “I can tell you’ve been working hard already today, and I know you Tanner boys, you’ve got more work to do. I bet the pie would help you get through the rest of your day.”

Jason wasn’t great with ages, but he knew Ann had gone to school with his grandmother. Her husband, John, was probably about her age, maybe a little older. Saying ‘no’ to her would be like saying ‘no’ to one of his grandmother’s.

She gestured toward the table. “Go on and sit down. I’ll cut you a piece.”

Smiling, he shook his head at her persistence. His gaze drifted across the kitchen — the patterned plates displayed in a row on a shelf above the stove, the 1960s-era flowered wallpaper, cast-iron pans hanging on the wall below the cupboards — then wandered down the hallway leading to the dining room, photos hanging on the wall. He walked down the hallway, looking at photos of Ann and John with their children and grandchildren smiling laughing. Here was one of Ann and John on their wedding day. There was one with their daughters, Mary and Ellen and son Alfred. They were older than Jason, probably closer to his parents’ ages, living out of the area now.

Jason felt a twinge of emotion in his chest as his eyes roamed over the photos, an emotion he couldn’t pin down. It was a mix of loss, disappointment, and heartache at the thought he might never have a wall like this, full of photos of his own wife and children.

He ate the pie while listening to Mrs. Weatherly talk about her grandchildren, her plans for her garden, and John’s trip to town to pick up seeds for said garden.

Their conversation reminded him of conversations with his grandmothers. It also reminded him how lucky he was to have a job where he could take time to sit down and chat after delivering food that he and his family had helped grow.

Driving home later in the afternoon, Jason reflected on the conversation with his grandmother Franny a month before Ellie learned about his night with Lauren. Watching his normally outgoing grandmother withdrawal in the last year and a half, become a shell of her former self, had been hard, almost as hard as watching his grandfather fade behind the fog of Alzheimers. She had been avoiding many family gatherings and activities she used to enjoy, including church. Only in the last few months had he seen some of the melancholy fall away.

Franny had ushered him into the kitchen that day, sitting at the table as he unloaded the soup has mom had sent. “That’s very nice, hon’. You tell Annie thank you for me.” She smiled. “What happened? You draw the short straw to bring your cantankerous grandmother dinner?”

Jason laughed, bending down and kissing Franny’s cheek. “Now, grandma, you know I love coming to see you. We all do. Molly had an art class, Dad was working on that broken tractor, and I actually asked to bring it.”

Jason sat on the chair across from his grandmother and leaned back, stretching his legs out.

He decided to jump right into it, not pull any punches. “So, what’s going on with you, Grandma? You know you can talk to me.”

Franny avoided his eyes, stirring her spoon in the soup she’d dipped out. “I’m fine, Jason.”

“You’re anything but fine. Out with it. Is it your eyes?”

She shot him a glare. “You always were too observant for your own good, Jason. How did you know about my eyes?”

“I’ve noticed you bumping into tables when I’ve been here, squinting through your glasses. Plus, there was that whole driving into the back of the dump truck thing.”

She cleared her throat. “Well, yes, I am concerned about them. As for the dump truck — well, yes, I misjudged the distance between it and my car.”

“Misjudge or didn’t see it well?” She didn’t offer a verbal response. Her raised eyebrow and scowl were answer enough. “Do you think it could be macular degeneration?”

“I don’t know.” Her eyebrows furrowed. “I’ve heard of that but I’m not really familiar with it.”

Jason hooked his hands behind his head, keeping the conversation casual. “Ellie’s grandma has it. Her eyesight is slowly deteriorating, but maybe yours isn’t that bad. We can go see Dr. Fisher. Maybe you just need a prescription.”

Franny lifted her finger. “Ah, now. Speaking of Ellie —”

“Grandma, we’re talking about you right now.”

“We’ll get back to that. Let’s talk about Ellie and you.” She slapped her hand on the table. “Why haven’t you proposed to that girl yet?”

“Grandma…”

“Jason, honey, she’s the girl for you. You believe that, right?

Jason laughed softly and cleared his throat, unfolding his arms from behind his head and shifting in the chair. “Yes, Grandma. I do.”

“Then what are you waiting for?”

Jason softly groaned and covered his face with his hands, leaning his head back. This conversation had definitely gone off the rails. “Grandma. . .”

“Don’t let her get away from you, Jason. Do you hear me?”

Jason looked at his grandma, his face flushed but a smile tugging at his mouth. “Yes, ma’am. I hear you, but right now we are talking about your eyesight. I can drive you to Dr. Fisher. Let’s find out what’s going on. It may not be as bad as you think, okay?”

Franny sipped from her glass of water, a small smile flicking across her lips. “Okay. I’ll make you a deal, Jason Andrew Tanner. I’ll let you take me to Dr. Fisher if you agree to propose to that lovely Ellie.” She reached her hand out toward her grandson. “Deal?”

Jason tipped his head back again and let out a deep laugh. He shook his head and chewed his lower lip for a moment, rubbing his chin as he looked at his grandmother’s hand. If he did this, it would mean no more avoiding talking to Ellie about his college mistakes.

His large hand enveloped her much smaller one. “Yeah, okay, grandma. Deal.”

A month later Franny had her cataracts removed, and he’d been ready to confess all to Ellie.

If only he hadn’t failed to hold up his side of the bargain.

Franny knew something had happened between him and Ellie, and he knew she wanted to ask, but so far, he’d been able to avoid her. A family lunch was planned at her house next weekend. He had a feeling she’d corner him before the day was out.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Enjoy some Resurrection Sunday music and videos today in place of my usual Sunday Bookends post.

The first one is my favorite Easter Song and it’s called … yes, Easter song.

(Originally sung by Dan Francisco)

Special Fiction Saturday: The Farmers’ Sons Chapter 3

I totally forgot I was going to post Chapter 3 of The Farmers’ Sons earlier today. So here it is, although late. For those who followed Jason’s story when I originally posted it with Molly’s story some of this will be a bit of a repeat, but it has been reworked some.

To catch up on the rest of story, click HERE or find it under the Fiction Friday header at the top of the page.

You can read Molly’s story on Amazon in ebook form.


Chapter 3

Jason loaded another set of weights on the barbells and laid back on the bench, gripping the bar tightly.

Why did I let her think I was going to propose that night?

He grunted under the weight, pushing up until his arms were straight, then slowly lowering the bar again, counting under his breath. His muscles strained under the weight.

I should have never waited so long to talk to her.

He pushed up again.

And when she assumed I had actually intended to propose, I went along with it like a complete idiot.

Down, breathing hard.

Ellie had every right to be angry at him. Not only for his non-proposal but for the secret he’d held on to for so long.

He straightened his arms, set the bar back in its place and lay there on the bench breathing hard.

He came to the gym a few times a week to work off some stress. Lately, though he’d only been finding more stress as his mind raced not only with thoughts of Ellie, but also of keeping the farm running.

When he focused on Ellie, his mind always walked him back to the night he had planned to tell her what he’d should have told her when they’d first started dating again, the night that they got engaged instead.

***

Seven months earlier

His heart had been racing, his palms damp with sweat. His stomach was tight and nausea spun in his stomach.  What had he been thinking? Was he really going to do this tonight? Was he really going to tell his longtime girlfriend about his past and let the chips fall where they may?

He had taken a deep breath and tightened his hands on the steering wheel until his knuckles faded white. Yes, he was. He was doing this because he needed the burden off his shoulders, and he needed to know how Ellie would feel about him after he told her. He couldn’t keep waiting, torturing himself with worry of what might be.

He and Ellie had gone to school together since junior high, but it wasn’t until his junior year he really noticed her, or she had noticed him, or he guess he would say they noticed each other. It was in history class and Mr. Prawley had placed them in a group together to work on a project. Before that they’d seen each other at 4H meetings or when Robert took Jason with him to pick up equipment he’d borrowed from Ellie’s dad Jerry.

Late one night after working on their project about Pennsylvanian history they found themselves laughing about their shared interest in old movies.

“Cary Grant is the epitome of old fashioned suave and charm,” she’d said, pretending to swoon, her hand against her forehead when they watched North by Northwest together at his parents.

He grinned, a teasing glint in his eye. “I agree, but I’m the epitome of modern suave and charm, right?”

She’d tipped her head back and laughed and he wasn’t sure if she was enjoying his humor or mocking him.

“Ginger Rogers was a very underrated actress,” he’d announced after they watched Vivacious Lady at her parents’ house.

“I agree,” she had said and smiled.

Wow. That smile.

That smile that was for him and only him.

It took his breath away.

That smile and her soft, long black hair against that pale skin, those large dark eyes and her sweet round face — what a knockout combination.

He’d taken her to the movies twice, dinner once, lunch three times and attended youth group with her every Wednesday for four months before he’d finally worked up the courage to kiss her. And now, here he was working up the courage to ask her to marry him, but first he had to tell her about what had happened during the break they’d taken when they’d both been in college – at two different colleges.

Those two years in college when he’d been without her, when she had decided they should take a break from dating and see “how things developed” as she had said, were the loneliest and most confusing two years of his life. He’d felt like a ship out at sea without a compass. Returning home from college, to the farm and to her had anchored him again. He couldn’t even imagine losing that anchor again.

God, please don’t let me lose her.

 He caught sight of movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head to see her stepping off the front porch, down the steps, watching him as she walked. Her smile was broad, captivating.  His breath caught in his throat, his eyes followed the length of her body as she walked, and he chewed his lower lip hungerly. Even after all these years her beauty still took his breath away.

His voice fell into a whisper; he barely realized he was talking out loud. “Oh God, I can’t —”

“Hey.” She slid into the truck seat and had her arms around his neck and her mouth on his before he could finish asking God for strength. Once she was in his arms, his mind was clouded by her kiss. She smelled of lilac and vanilla scented shampoo. She curled her fingers in his hair and held his head down to hers.

“We should probably head out to the restaurant,” she said breathlessly a few moments later. She tipped her head to one side, her hand against his chest, and winked. “Before we go too far.”

Jason cleared his throat and nodded. “Right. Of course.”

He grinned as he turned back to the steering wheel and she hooked her seatbelt. “But it wasn’t as if things were going to get too far with us parked outside your parent’s house. Not before your dad shot me.”

Ellie laughed. “Jason, Daddy wouldn’t shoot you.”

He pulled the truck out of the driveway, onto the dirt road. “I beg to differ.”

Ellie shook her head. “He loves you. You know that.”

“But he wouldn’t like me making out with you in my truck.”

“No, probably not.” She shrugged, folded her hands in her lap, and looked out the windshield. “Unless we were married, of course.”

Jason swallowed hard.

Married.

There it was.

The one word hovering in his mind 24/7, waking him up at night, giving him near panic attacks daily. And she’d just said it. Because it was probably on her mind too.

“Right.” He pushed his foot on the accelerator, willing his truck to move them faster toward the restaurant where they could talk about the food, the weather, the farm, anything but marriage.

The drove in silence for a few moments, farmland and trees and open fields blurring into green and yellow out the window.

“Jason?”

Hurry up, truck.

“Yeah?”

“Are you ever going to ask me to marry you?”

Jason’s hand jerked on the steering wheel. The truck swerved over the center line and then back  into the right lane. Ellie gasped and clutched her hand around Jason’s bicep as he regained control of the truck.

Her voice trembled when she spoke. “Oh gosh. Sorry. I just — I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that, but I knew if I didn’t say something now, I would lose my courage.”

Jason slowed the truck down and pulled off into an empty parking lot in front of an abandoned convenience store. He slid the gear into park and turned to look at Ellie.

Was she reading his mind? They’d been together so long he wouldn’t be surprised.

His eyebrows knit together. “What would make you ask that right now?”

“I — I don’t know. I just —” Tears rimmed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Jason. Are you angry?”

Jason shook his head. “No. Not at all. I’m sorry.” He reached over and took her hand in his. The frightened expression on her face sent stabbing guilt shuddering through him. He let go of her hand and cupped his palm against her face.

“It’s not that at all. It’s just that I was actually going to talk to you about that tonight and I was surprised that it was on your mind too.”

A tear slipped down Ellie’s cheek and his heart ached even more. He swiped at it with the palm of his thumb.

“Of course, it’s on my mind, Jason. I’ve wanted to marry you since high school. I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to have your children. But sometimes I feel like you don’t want any of that at all.”

“No, El, that’s not true. I do want that. All of it.”

“Then why aren’t you asking me to marry you?”

“I — well, I was going to —”

Ellie’s eyes grew wide, and her eyebrows shot up. “Oh! Were you going to ask me tonight and I totally ruined your plans?”

“Well, I —”

“Oh, Jason! I’m so sorry! I ruined your plan.”

“No, that’s okay. It’s just —”

Her mouth was on his again before he could explain. The expression of sheer delight on her face when she pulled back, her arms still around his neck, sent warmth bursting through his chest.

“You know I don’t need a big fancy proposal. All I want is you. Of course, I’d say ‘yes’ no matter how you asked.”

She was kissing him again and he was forgetting what he’d been going to say. Her body was so warm and solid against his and her lips so soft. Her hands were in his hair again; he couldn’t focus. Slowly his thoughts began to clear and that’s when the panic set in.

Wait a minute. Did she think he had just proposed, and she was saying yes?

She peppered his cheek and neck with kisses. “Oh, Jason! I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for this moment for years!”

 Yes, she did think he’d just proposed, and she was saying ‘yes’.

“I know. I have been too, but I —”

She cut his sentence short again. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry I ruined the surprise.”

“No, it’s okay, I mean — It’s just that I —”

Her large brown eyes were watching him with hopeful expectation, with joy, with complete and utter adoration. There was no way he could tell her about his past now; ruin her night completely.

“I don’t have a ring,” he blurted.

She tipped her head back and laughed. “I don’t care about a ring, silly! We can worry about that later, or not at all. You know I don’t care about stuff like that.”

“But it’s a symbol and it’s important, El. I should get you a ring.”

Ellie kissed him gently and shook her head. “Later. I just want us to enjoy this moment together for now.”

Jason swallowed hard. He wanted to enjoy the moment too, but he knew he couldn’t keep his secret forever. Ellie needed to know sooner rather than later. He wouldn’t tell her tonight, though. He’d already made his mind up about that. They would go to dinner, celebrate their engagement and then later, another day, he’d tell her what she needed to know and let her make up her own mind about whether she still wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

Only, that had never happened. She’d overheard him talking to Alex and that’s when the manure, so to speak, had hit the fan.

***

A deep voice startled Jason from his thoughts and he recognized it immediately as belonging to Cody Bracken— Spencer’s fire chief.

“Jason. Bud. You okay?”

Jason sat up, barely missing smacking his forehead on the metal bar. “Yeah. Sorry. Have you been standing there long?”

Cody laughed, tossed his duffle bag on the floor next to the wall. “A few seconds. Saying your name. You were totally gone, though. Got a lot on your mind?”

Jason guzzled the rest of the water from his sports bottle and shoved it in his bag. “Yeah. You could say that.”

Pulling off his sweatshirt, Cody unloaded a couple of the weights off the barbells Jason had been using. “I don’t have the muscle mass you do.” He winked. “Need to talk about anything?”

Jason shook his head. “Nah, but thanks.”

He stood and Cody wiped the bench with a towel. “Don’t want your sweaty germs.” He elbowed Jason playfully in the ribs. “Seriously, you got a minute?”

Jason wasn’t in any hurry to get back to the farm and talking to Cody would take his mind off Ellie for a few minutes at least. “Sure.”

“I don’t want to add anything else to your plate, but we had a meeting of the fire company the other night and we were talking about the need for more volunteers. Your name came up, along with some other men around town.” Cody sat on the bench and leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees. “As you know, we are an all-volunteer company, other than my position. It’s been tough the last couple of years to find volunteers and we’re in need of some younger, strong men to at least be trained in case we need some additional hands in an emergency. I told the board I see you at the gym sometimes, so I’d ask you if you’d be interested.” He grinned. “So, would you?”

Jason leaned back against the wall and pushed his hand back through his hair. “I am interested but things have been pretty busy with the business lately, so I don’t know if I would really be available much.”

Cody nodded. “I understand. This wouldn’t have to be a full-time commitment by any means. We’d just like some guys to be trained in case they’re needed. At the most you’d be committing to, well, 100 hours of training, but it’s broken up into a few week nights and a couple of weekends over the next few months. Once your training is complete you can hold on to the certification and we’d call you only when we are short men. You’d only respond when you’re able to.”

Jason rubbed his hand along the scruff growing along his chin and jawline. Shoving training into his regular chores on the farm and work at the farm store would be tough, but it would also be the perfect way to distract himself from constantly focusing on the situation with Ellie.

“Think about it,” Cody said. “You can let me know later if it —”

“I’ll give it a try.”

Cody raised his eyebrows. “You’re sure? I don’t want to add more to your plate. I know how tough the farms around here have had it.”

Jason shook his head. “No. It will be fine. If I start and it gets to be too much, I’ll let you know, but I’d love to be able to help out my community. My uncle had a fire on his farm a couple years back and you guys were a big help. Consider this my way of paying you back.”

Cody reached out his hand and Jason took it. “Thanks, Jason. We appreciate it. I’ll give you a call when we have the first training session scheduled. Probably about two weeks.”

Climbing into his truck, Jason wasn’t sure he truly wanted to split his time between farming and fire fighter training, but again, the more he could shove into his days, the less time he had to think about Ellie.

Fiction Friday: Fully Alive Excerpt, The Day Yeshua Died.

I do have a chapter for The Farmers’ Sons ready to go but today I wanted to share this excerpt from Fully Alive, the Biblical fiction story I shared a bit from last year (maybe the year before, actually) in honor of Good Friday.

I haven’t completed that story but hope to continue to work on it this year.

I will be back with a chapter from The Farmers’ Sons tomorrow.


Josefa woke with a start, cold sweat beading across her forehead. She tried to remember where she was, the only sound her rapid, pulsating heartbeat . She looked around and slowly her room began to take shape in the moonlight. She’d had the nightmare again. The one she’d had night after night. The nightmare of that day in Jerusalem, when her family had been there for Passover.

The day Yeshua died.

The day five years ago when Yeshua had been murdered on Golgotha.

She remembered it like it had been yesterday.

Voices full of rage echoed within the city walls.

“Crucify him!”

Her father had trembled next to her with shock, anger, confusion. He pulled and her younger brother close. “Keep walking. Don’t stop.”

Her mother followed, tears streaking her face, sobs shaking her body.

“Father, why would they do this?” Tears soaked Josefa’s face as the crowd enveloped her, jostled her into other people.

She didn’t understand. Why were the priests of this city demanding the death of the man who had brought her back from the dead? What had he done that deserved death?

She screamed in protest, but no one could hear her and if they could, they weren’t listening.

“It’s not true! He saved me! He brought me back from the dead!” She tried again, her throat raw, her voice hoarse. “He gave me back my life!”

A man shoved her hard to the ground.

“Shut your mouth, you blaspheming liar!”

Saliva dripped down his chin as he screamed. A tremor of fear rushed through Josefa and she looked away quickly. It was as if he was possessed. Maybe he was.

Jairus stooped to protect her and swung around toward the man, anger clouding his vision. “Never touch my daughter!”

The man was screaming again, standing over her and her father. “You are nothing, Jew!”

“I am a leader in the synagogue, I am a holy —”

More people were shouting at Jairus and Josefa now, shouting at anyone they felt were followers of Yeshua.

“You are nothing!”

“Blaspheming scum, go back to whatever city you came from.”

“Do you follow this man? Then you should be put to death with him.”

Jairus jerked his head toward an open area near the city wall.

“Myriam, Ephra, Josefa, come. We must leave.”

Josefa turned to follow her family but paused, looking over her shoulder at the yelling crowd, at the sudden appearance of Yeshua through the crowd, struggling to walk under the weight of what looked like a large piece of wood. She watched in horror as he fell onto the stones, the wood on top of him. Blood dropped onto the dirt from his face, his hands, everywhere. Josefa couldn’t see any of Yeshua’ skin that wasn’t bleeding.

She broke from her father’s arms and stood along the edge of the crowd as Yeshua walked by, reaching out, her fingertips touching Yeshua’ bloody garment, hanging in rags off his shoulder. She jerked her hand away and held it to her mouth as she began to sob.

“Yeshua. Yeshua,” Josefa choked out. “I believe in you, Yeshua.”

Yeshua looked at the ground as he fell again, and she wondered if he even knew she was there. A Roman soldier dragged a man from the crowd and tossed him to the ground in front of Yeshua.

“Help him! Pick up the cross!”

As the man helped lift what the soldier had called a cross, another soldier lifted Yeshua to his feet. Josefa’s heart raced as Yeshua stood slowly, raised his eyes toward the crowd and found her gaze.

His eyelids were swollen, blood running in rivulets from what appeared to be thorns bent into the shape of a crown on his head. He looked at her with an unfocused gaze as he hooked one arm around the man and the other around the wood. Hot tears stung Josefa’s eyes, rushed down her cheeks as Yeshua moved his gaze from her and looked back to the ground, shuffling his feet forward in step with the other man.

A strong hand gripped her wrist and pulled her backward, through the crowd. She looked up into deep blue eyes, a smooth face stained with dirt under a Roman helmet. The soldier’s face was young, but his eyes were old. She expected a rebuke but instead his voice was gentle, filled with compassion.

“You must leave this area. It’s not safe for young girls like you.”

She could hear her father calling for her, but Josefa couldn’t pull her eyes from the soldier’s.

“Come, Josefa!” Jairus said sharply, prying the soldier’s fingers from his daughter’s wrist. “Let’s get away from here.”

Her father’s voice broke with emotion and when she looked up at him, he was rubbing the back of his hand across his face.

“I can take no more,” he whispered hoarsely.

She looked up and the soldier had turned and was following the crowd, to where she didn’t know.

She followed her father and they found the rest of their family waiting for them by the city gates.

“We must leave, Jairus. It’s no longer safe,” Myriam whispered, trembling.

Jairus pulled her close and nodded. “We will go and collect our things from Lieber’s and begin our journey this evening. I will see if I can convince him and his family to come with us. The Romans are thirsty for blood this day.”

“What are they going to do to Yeshua, father?” Josefa asked, fear shivering through her.

Jairus shook his head. “I don’t know, Josefa. Keep walking.”

Jairus’ brother declined traveling away from Jerusalem, begging Jairus to remain for Passover.

“Traveling on Passover is forbidden. We will be safe here on this side of the city. The Romans are only taking care of a troublemaker, a man who called himself the Son of God.”

“But Uncle Leiber —”

Jairus scowled at his daughter. “Josefa. Be silent. Go prepare the afternoon meal with the women.”

All these years later, Josefa still remembered how darkness fell later that day, how the ground shook and she fell to the dirt courtyard outside her aunt and uncle’s home in fear.

She screamed, reaching out for something to hold onto but finding nothing. As the ground rose up beneath her, the sun darkened, and she couldn’t see her parents or anyone else.

“Yeshua! Yeshua! Help me!”

Bricks fell from stone structures around her, striking her and then blackness settled over her and all was still.

“Josefa!”

She woke to her mother’s voice that day and again, five years later, she heard her mother call to her.  And again, her mother took her in arms and again she told her everything would be okay and prayed over her, asking for Adonai’s protection.

My farming friend Mark Bradley was one of the inspirations behind The Farmer’s Daughter (the farming part of it) and one of the reason I have a soft spot for farmers in general. He’s one of the good ones, the backbone of our country, salt of the earth, you might say. He’s worked hard all his life and works even harder now in a economy that hasn’t been very friendly to farmers the past decade or so. He posted this beautiful status update a couple of years ago on Facebook that helped launch me into a documentary photo project to capture the life of farmer’s in my area. The project fell apart over time, but I’d love to start it back up again and keep capturing the real people behind the industry that puts food on our tables, telling their stories.

Mark wrote another one of those emotional posts this week. I’m not on Facebook anymore but my dad showed me and I emailed Mark and told him how much I enjoyed it, and asked if I could share it here on the blog. Luckily he said that would be fine.

I also once wrote about his son and the amazing work ethic is instilled in farm kids by their parents.




I watched him as he made his way around the empty barn taking it all in. I could see the sadness on his face and hear it in his voice in all the questions he asked. “Why did they sell their cows?” “Why are they just letting the barn fall down?” I watched him peer up through the hole in the ceiling toward the hay mow that once would have been stocked full of enough hay to feed the cows all winter. Now all it held was the roof that had collapsed into it this winter and the melting snow that had accumulated. This was once someone’s dream, their livelihood, their everything. Now it is a thing of the past. Soon to be demolished the rest of the way and be gone forever.

It is hard to explain what it feels like to walk through an empty barn. For me, it’s very emotional and I could see that in Parker as well. I can stand there and picture what it would have looked like full of cows. It’s kind of like the scenes in the movie Titanic where they are exploring the underwater shipwreck and keep flashing back to a time when the ship was full of people in all her glory. I can picture little kids growing up in this barn, learning life lessons. I can see them in my mind petting cows, watching calves be born, carrying around their favorite kitties. I can see it full of light, life, and warmth on the coldest winter day. I can smell the feed, hear the cows contently eating and the radio softly playing… then I come back to what it is now. Cold. Dark. Wet. Musty. Empty…. it is a heartbreaking scene that is played out in tens of thousands of barns all across this country. Our industry has evolved over the years, and in its wake lies empty barns like this one in ruin.

After awhile of silence as Parker and I wandered around, he turns to me and says “Well, at least our barn will never look like this.” With a giant lump in my throat, all I could muster up was “I hope you are right.”

I don’t know what the future holds. I know farms like ours are becoming fewer and further between every day.

When we got home I headed straight to the barn. I walked in the door to be greeted by the familiar sights and sounds of my cows contently eating their hay and lounging in their stalls. I walk up and down the aisles of the barn with a smile on my face taking it all in, stopping to pet and snuggle some of girls.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for giving me this life. It’s a life that has its shares of ups and downs and constant challenges. A life that is definitely not the easy road. I can’t picture myself doing anything else. I can’t imagine raising my kids any other way than on this farm.

The passion I have for what I do is unexplainable, but is driven by my love of this land, my love for my cows, and most of all, my love for my two little farmers. Everything that I do, I do for them in hopes that they may one day be able to take over this farm if they choose to.

Socially Thinking: Let Men Be Men

Many people don’t believe this, but there is a war on men in our world today. Maybe you have to be the mother of a boy to really see it.

Anything that is inherently male is being referred to these days as “toxic masculinity” when in fact much of what men do was biologically wired into them by a creator who purposely made men to be strong protectors.

If that above sentence offends you, then I’m sorry, but it’s true and I’m going to hit you with a few more truths.

Men are biologically physically stronger.

Men are biologically hard-wired to provide for their families (even if some don’t do it).

Men are biologically visually wired, and their eyes often wander where they shouldn’t.

Men are biologically “emotionally shut” off at times. (They’re not really shut off, but that’s how it can see because they process emotion differently than women.)

Men are biologically wired to protect and take care of women and children.

Men do not multi-task as well as women, which does not mean women are smarter, it means God made men to focus on (mainly) one task at a time and that task is usually centered on providing for his wife and family.

I’m not sure what has made some in society decide that men wanting to provide for their families and wanting to protect women and children as a bad thing.

Why in the world women are yelling at men for holding doors for them or holding their hand when they step down from a bus or out of a car? To me that shows a man is polite, not trying to show a woman he is superior. It’s not that he doesn’t think you can’t open a door or walk down a flight of stairs without killing yourself, it’s that something deep in him says, “I should respect this woman and hold the door for her and help her balance as she descends these stairs.”

Toxic masculinity to me is when a man stands over a woman and tells her he is superior. A man acting on what God has built in him to do is not toxic.

I recently watched an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Opie becomes upset when a young girl he befriends is better than him at everything. The girl is Andy’s girlfriend’s (Helen’s) niece. When Opie stops talking to the girl, she can’t figure out why. Helen tells her niece that she knows why. Earlier in the episode Andy got upset when he found out Helen was better than him at bowling. At first Helen tells Andy that he shouldn’t be upset that she’s better than him at something, but during the conversation with her niece she realizes that men are biologically built to want to protect a woman and that’s why they feel threatened by smarter or more accomplished women. If a man feels he can’t do something better than a woman, then he feels he isn’t strong enough to protect her. I am, of course, summarizing what Helen says.

Does that sound a little silly to us women? Sure it does. It even sounds silly to men when it’s said out loud, but subconsciously that’s most likely where the awkwardness comes when a woman succeeds in something that men traditionally are dominate in. Most men eventually get over that inferior feeling and realize that they aren’t less of a man because a woman is better than them at sports or lifting heavy things or . . . thinking (*wink* I’m kidding about the thinking part! Only a few of us women are way better than men at thinking. Totally. *hee* *hee* Allow me a little teasing while I defend men.)

Helen tells her niece that sometimes a woman should let the man be strong. She should let him “be the winner”, so to speak, to help them feel strong again. She wasn’t saying that a woman should subjugate herself to a man or pretend to be dumb, but that it isn’t necessary to flaunt her superiority in front him every chance she gets either.

Helen has come to realize that one way to respect a man  (because yes, even with all the chants of ‘respect women’ we should also ‘respect men’), women should also respect how men are built, which is to be the protector of a woman.

Again, this idea totally goes against the modern day of feminism because we are told that if a woman lets a man be strong, she’s letting him rule over her. That’s not what I’m suggesting. If a man is abusive toward a woman in any way, then that is toxic masculinity and he shouldn’t be respected.

I’m also not suggesting lying to a man. If you’re better than bowling at him, well, he’s going to figure it out eventually but there is no need to rub it in his face and make him feel inferior, the same way it would be wrong for him to do the same to you. (I’m not opposed to a little gloating, of course.)

Deep down, all men want to be the protector. If they can’t be the protector, they feel like a woman doesn’t need him, which creates a whole other host of issues for a relationship. Many men like an independent woman too, but if, once in a while, she shows she’s vulnerable, well, they really like that too.

Now, if a man is arrogant or abusive about his strength, feels he can overpower a woman or he acts like women are beneath him intellectually and otherwise, then yes, women should stand up and say something. That is “toxic masculinity”. For the most part, though, let the man be a man.

The bottom line is that women need to step back, take a breath, and have some patience with the men in our lives. Many times, a man will figure out on his own he was being rude or making the woman in his life feel less than. The Bible calls for us to pray for our husbands, and that doesn’t mean praying God “fixes” them.

In case anyone reads this and believes I believe women should just shut up and let their husbands walk all over them, believe me, I do not believe that at all. Just ask my husband.

 I believe a husband and wife should be equal in their marriage. Many pastors have taken Ephesians 5: 19-33 out of context over the years by suggesting wives should “submit” to their husbands when the verse actually trying to say that a man and wife submit to and love each other.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

There are biological differences between males and females. That’s a fact. Those differences are natural and something to be recognized, embraced and accepted.

No amount of hormone injections will change those physiological and psychological differences. Each sex is born with their own set of differences engrained in their DNA. It is grafted into them. A person can inject themselves with all the hormones of the opposite sex they want, place the genitalia of the other sex on themselves, and declare themselves a different sex, but the differences between men and women go deeper than sexual organs or hormones.

God created those differences, and in order for the two sexes to get along, we should start recognizing that and accepting it as reality.