Joining the Leaf Crazies

leafcrazies2leafcrazies1Do you ever remember something you said, or perhaps did, and get embarrassed? You inwardly cringe or give a nervous giggle? Or maybe you wish you could go back and change time with just a little turn or a small eraser?

Well I do that, sometimes. Especially this time of year.

It’s fall and the deciduous leaves are changing into crayon box colors of brightness and I remember our trip back east and cringe just a bit.

leafcrazies5I was in my twenties, our daughter was 3, maybe 4, and we were on a plane from Seattle to Boston. It was fall, end of September, beginning of October and we were heading back for a week and a half to attend a conference and sight see and explore.

There we were on the plane for hours and I was busy trying to entertain our daughter and read my book and control my excitement.

I finally settled down to read and as I am opening my book my ears perk up at my neighbor’s conversation.

“So why you headed out east?”

“To see the leaves.”

“Me too.”

“You ever seen them?”

‘No. You?”

“No, but people say it’s an unforgettable experience.”

leafcrazies3 leafcrazies4The leaves, I thought, and started laughing quietly. Who were these people who were flying from Seattle to Boston to view leaves? Botanists? Leaf Professors?

I casually observed them. Yup, they were definitely too old for very much excitement. Maybe colored leaves was all the adrenaline shooting excitement their poor hearts could manage.

I glanced down at my book. Then my ears pricked up again. This time the people in front of us were talking. And if it wasn’t the exact same conversation. People going out to view leaves. A little later I heard people talking behind us about the same exciting thing. Leaf viewing.

Who were these people, I wondered? Was I on a plane with a bunch of crazies who were spending money and traveling across the continent to see a few leaves when a drive into our mountains would have been a much cheaper alternative. Did they have so much free time they were filling it with leaf study?

We landed, and while we were standing in line waiting for our rental car, I told my husband about the loonies on the plane who had flown all this way to look at leaves. “Who are weird these people?” I asked, poking fun at them.

Now Seattle has mainly Evergreen trees that stay a dark green year round and don’t provide any spectacular color anytime of the year. Although they do drop ugly sharp dead brown needles that are annoying. In the mountains, there are patches of more deciduous trees that turn color in the fall and this is the place people around Seattle go to see color.

I had been into our mountains in the fall numerous times and I couldn’t even fathom someone spending money to see mountain fall colors thousands of miles away.

leafcrazies6We checked into our hotel for the night and collapsed from flying exhaustion.

Next day we were driving to Lowell and I saw this brilliant purple tree aflame in a leaf color I had never seen. It was so bright I practically needed my sun glasses.

“Stop the car!” I shouted.

Then I ran out and took some pictures and picked up a few leaves.

“Have you ever seen anything like this?” I asked hubby. “Purple leaves?”

Frankly, I ended up eating crow. We didn’t go back specifically to see the leaves, but they ended up becoming a main part of our focus. We skipped part of the conference and drove through lower Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York just marveling in the beauty of the leaves. The sheer number of deciduous trees. The colors that were so bright and bold and so unlike trees we had ever seen clothed before.

Suddenly what the people had said that I had been laughing at, made sense. I became one of those leaf hunting, searching, gazing people who were pulling off at overlooks to just stand and stare in awe and take pictures. I also was collecting and pressing leaves in a book.

It was so beautiful we talked about moving back east, and then a native reminded us that it only looked like this a few weeks of the year.

leafcrazies7 leafcrazies8A few days after we had landed and became enthralled with the leaves, some family flew in and we were having dinner with them. They asked what we recommended for sightseeing, and we gushed about the leaves. On and on we talked, and they looked at us with blank expressions. Clearly we were now loonies.

“Seeing the leaves is spectacular,” I tried to explain, “like experiencing an optical orgasm,” I gushed, then blushed.

Two of them chocked on their dinner and almost needed the Heimlich maneuver. My husband raised his eye brows and nodded at our daughter.

Okay, maybe I had become one of those crazies on the plane who was searching for the leaves of all leaves.

Here I was gushing about leaves, these unexpected blessing, when days earlier I had been laughing and thinking arrogant and judgmental thoughts about people like who I had become.

I think about this experience every fall and think it would be fun to head east again and see the florescent leaves, and then I laugh and remind myself not to make the same mistake again.

I am learning that it often better to just nod, smile, and maybe ask a question when someone says something I think is so outrageous that I want to burst out laughing from the ridiculousness of it all.  Especially when it is about something I have no experience with.

Yes, I am trying to remember that sometimes it is best to reserve judgement until I have tried it. Or at least learned more about it.  

Because I never know when I may join them in their ridiculousness and even later recommend it to others.

leafcraziesquote

Join the Discussion: Do you have a similar experience? Where you made fun of something and then ended up liking it?


Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holly Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart)

Life as it Comes; Episode 21

Shopping Pains

 

A humerous podcast about life.

So when did grocery shopping lose some of its charm? I used to love to go as a child, and now . . . I’d rather clean the bathrooms or babysit twins.

 

 

 

 

 

To listen to this story podcast, click either the green or white triangle on one of the players below.

 

Join the Discussion : What task do you dislike doing? What are your thoughts on grocery shopping? What do you do to make grocery shopping or an unpleasant task fun?

 

Does Happily Ever After Really Exist?

happilyeverafter8We grow up on Happily Ever After.

The book ends happy. The movie ending makes us sigh with contentment.

The boy and girl get together. The mystery is solved. A hero is born. The up and down conflict resolved. Now the characters can proceed with life and live Happily Ever After.

It was near the beginning years of our marriage, and I pacing back and forth in the mother’s room at church with a newborn. Life was rosy and bright and we riding into the sunset of Happily Ever After.

The visiting pastor was talking about life and I was half listening. “Have you been tested yet?” he asked. “Gone through hard times? Losses that ache deep and test your soul and strength? Has life lost some of the luster because of something that has happened to you or a loved one?”

I perked up my ears.

“Because if you haven’t yet, it’s coming. No one gets through life unscathed. Without battle wounds and experiencing some hard times.”

Yikes! This didn’t sound like good news. I patted my daughter’s back and paced some more.

happilyeverafter3 happilyeverafter4“Sometimes we look at others and it appears they have lived a charmed life, but no one has. Dig deeper into their past and perfectly seeming life and you will learn they have experienced hard times. They have lost loved ones, fallen on hard times, found their heart wrenched in two.”

“Many of you who know what I am talking about. And others of you who so far have lived a live free of some tragedy, and for those in the last category, just know a time will come and life will take the wrong twist and hardship will come.”

I smelled my daughter’s head. Problems seemed far away.

I probably landed in the last category. So far I had battled being picked last for kickball and all other sports, losing my grandfathers, not having enough of the right clothes, occasional pimples, the insecurity and doubt of growing up different from others, bad hair days, never being part of the in-crowd, entering the working world, not achieving my dream of becoming a gymnast or ballerina, being denied access to our church college because I was homeschooled, planning a wedding on a shoestring, dating and early marriage, morning sickness and natural birth, and the common dips and lows of growing up in a sheltered home and surviving to adulthood. There was no one thing I could call my Wall of Jericho.

“I don’t want to scare you,” he continued. “But those in the last category just know that in the future you will be tried. So, don’t be caught unaware and think you are the only one who has ever been caught in the waves of life and battered. Remain calm. Hold to God’s truth and your faith, and know that you will emerge from the other side and join the rest of humanity who knows what you are going through and has survived.”

I snuggled the baby closer to my neck and grabbed her a little harder.

“That’s me,” I thought. “My soul has not yet been wrenched apart.”

happilyeverafter1And then church was over and people were oohing and ahhing over our daughter.

I never heard another sermon like that again, but once in a while his words resurface and I feel comfort and know that what I am experiencing is only part of this journey of life.

Our life does not stop at that Happily Ever After point like in the movies – when we marry, have a child, get a dream job, finish a vacation, graduate from college, solve a tough problem, retire, or receive the applause.

No time keeps marching forward and bills arrive, babies get colic, jobs get lost, divorce occurs, arguments happen, loved ones die, pets get sick, cars break down, flights are delayed, parents age, someone else gets chosen, cancer visits, friends pull away, houses flood, children make bad decisions, economies tank, and dreams slowly die as we wait year after year for them to happen.

On the outside, we may look happy and perfect and all put together, but look closely and most of us have scars and nicks and deep gouges from living because we live in a world where the decisions of others and our self affect the future and the here and now. We live in a world where chance and accidents and bad things happen. We live in a world where sin plays with cause and effect.

happilyeverafter2Over the years I have remembered the pastor’s words many times. When my parents divorce; when my husband is rear ended and develops neck problems that will remain for the rest of his life; when I am rear ended; when a school bus turns in our lane and send my husband, daughter, and I are in the hospital for weeks and we struggle to recover for years; while I spend the last 8 weeks of my step father’s life helping care for him as he dies cell by cell from cancer; when my youngest brother is addicted to drugs for years; when I care for my sister after a motorcycle accident; when my brother dies unexpectedly; when I try for years to get pregnant and don’t; when my dad dies unexpectedly.

And each time I remember the pastor’s words I know I am not alone in my trial or hardship. I know God is there besides me and helping me, but I also know that I am going through a necessary hard part of life that everyone experiences.

Everyone has nicks and scars if they live very long. We have all experienced pain. Yours may come from different events and situations than mine, but we both have them. Or will in the future.   

happilyeverafter6 happilyeverafter7

No, there is no Happily Ever After. Not in this life.

Good times and hard times interweave themselves into our life, making us who we are, forging us into tougher and better people who carry more love and compassion in our hearts. They toughen our faith, expand our love, increase our grace, and soften our judgements. They also make the good times shine a little brighter and be more treasured.

But the good news is that Happily Ever After does exist. In the next life there will be no more tears, disappointments, death, accidents, unfulfilled dreams. or sin. We will then be living our Happily Ever After.


Join the Discussion: What are some hard times you have gone through? Do you think everyone has difficult things to traverse in their life?

Related Post: How to Handle the Hard No and Life’s Disappointments

happilyeverafterquote

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday); Purposeful Faith (#RaRAlinkup), and Holly Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart)