The Words of Our Dreams

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I have a twin. Well, we might have been twins. We could have been twins for sure. But she’s always asking the difficult questions. Her favorite, “What would that look like?”

Erin humors me and basically spoils me rotten with affirmation and comforting words while I whine. But, truthfully, when I’m stuck she pulls out the big guns. “How do you see that working out?” she’ll ask. My friend forces me to put legs on my dreams. “Well, it doesn’t actually mean I’m moving to London. But I want this, Erin.” Or, “I guess I need to meet new people, then.”

In order to break out of a stuck place, we have to drag out the box of stripes and pin them on the zebra … to put our dreams into words. It’s scary, and yet beautiful. If ever we’ve been lost in a city or a heavily wooded area, we focus on where we want to be, compared to where we are now. Strategically, tenaciously we take unknown streets and footpaths, bridges and sprinting breathlessly until we find our way.

“What would that look like?”

Words give direction to ethereal ideas. They point to the student visa, or the flights back and forth. They strike a line of demarcation between a Bud Light and a Malbec. A Stilton and <shudder> Velveeta. Even as I suggest this, I can feel you repelling from me. All the disappointment from your last failure. It pulls you deep inside yourself. You go quiet and the moment of transparency is gone.

Another year passes. Maybe two.

I find you sifting through the grad school pamphlets again. Okay, no more pamphlets. But you’re scouring the school websites for the meaning to your life. You’re trying to justify grad school. You don’t justify a dream. You do it because you can taste the Malbec. But it does require that you engage, Sweet Pea.

Yet the potential for failure has never propelled any dream into motion. Most certainly it has snuffed out the smoldering wick of hope that you’ll one day Become.

Samantha your whole face lights up when you get lost in the meaning of words. Friend, your whole face takes on a glow when you talk about planning your next culinary creation. I believe in you. Why don’t you?


Copyright 2014 (c) Samantha J. Penhale All Rights Reserved
Descanso Gardens Tree


Red Radio Flyers for Ebenezers

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Words. Strung together. At once leaning hard like tee-pees, and yet tugged along like a red Radio Flyer wagon.

I had one once. It was all steel and it meant business about hauling.

My world of Make-Believe found its boundaries with the natural realm to the extent that a singular, weathered wagon was my prairie schooner. It was my station wagon. It was my mobile home in the wooded Northern country.

Words fly. As if tucked into that red wagon, careening down a hill. Leaning left and then right. And then the axle turns and locks. It’s a beautiful thing to be dumped from your prairie schooner.

In that moment, a Tomboy Pretend Mama, Let’s-play-like-we’re-Family-You-be-the-Dad-I’ll-be-the-Mom-an-let’s-have-more-kids-this-time. You’re alive. As sure as the Sumac smacked your cheek, you are radioflyerfully alive.

All the rocks you’ve collected. Ebenezers, you thought.

The wheat you’ve harvested from Boaz’ field, strewn about the ground like so many sheaves of wild oats sown under the scandalous Summer sun.

And so you begin again. Collecting the baby dolls you’ve trundled and toted, now face down in the dirt. Blink. Blink. Their eyes unable to free themselves of their tears from toppling. And all you ever wanted was one of your own. Blink.

You smish the smashed peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. Why you keep choosing grape jelly for your sandwich you commence to spend a lifetime wondering.

There are the words to collect. Once tucked tightly in the wagon, now tumbled about. Retrieving each one. Sown in kindness and love. Yet landed on the rocks among the other heart-shaped minutiae, trampled and un-treasured.

With every prairie schooner spillage we become wiser about what we take with us. The long stretch of the journey ahead requires a peanut butter-only sandwich, to be sure. But there might be some Oreos in the back part of the cupboard.

It’s time to go check.

Being You

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Have you ever thought about your childhood dreams, and the person you thought you would be? Were you going to be a fireman, or a doctor? Maybe you were like me. My dreams were full of corporate suits and fancy clothes. I always imagined I was a sophisticated jet-setter and a mother. Well, I haven’t lived out the mama part yet, but one of these days it will be my turn. But the career girl… check. I laugh, though, because I was pretty sure that having a career meant I’d get to wear heels all the time. And I do love my high-heeled, pointy-toed girl-shoes! But at the end of a long day, I am longing for my beater Birkenstocks or my frumpy-suede-garden-shoes. (Poetic, don’t you think?)

So childhood dreams, and great heels.

I feel like I’ve come into this place in my life where I have a deep satisfaction with who I am. And I think it’s because I have fallen in love with being me. While I really do need connection with people, especially good one-to-one conversations, I could go for a couple of days just puttering, writing, working out, gardening or being outside, reading … just living life. I love connecting with the Lord, and with my friends and family. I enjoy my work. But that deep satisfaction has come about because who I am is not tied to what I do.

I think of Esther, just after she was made Queen of the Persian Empire. She learned of a horrific plot designed to wipe out the Jewish people. Her uncle, Mordecai, was quite insightful when he said, “‘Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?'” (Esther 4:13-14)

Do you really think that you were meant to lead a so-so, no-big-deal life? When I talk about destiny, I’m talking about the plans that Father had in mind when you were born. Stuff happens and sometimes those plans get derailed. But, when you were just a twinkle in your Daddy’s eye, He had rocket science in mind. He was thinking of writers that change the world with the stroke of their pen. He was thinking of orators like Martin Luther King, who nearly shifted the world off it’s axis with the power of their words. He was thinking of chefs that could make you weep with delight over their culinary creations. He had *you* in mind.

Be you….for such a time as this.