When Your Stakes Seem Higher

The stakes seemed higher. It’s funny how that happened. Every week without a blogpost here raised the cost of words for me, and weighted each one heavier.

Photo: Martin O_ob, Creative Commons, cc license

Busyness first halted me, carrying me away from my desk and you. Days passed, weeks mounted, though, and suddenly fear crept in. I wanted the words to have beauty, to hold meaning, and to be worthy of your time. And that wrangled a finger hold around my throat. It choked my words inside me.

Simple images of grandpas and gardens, and two sons in the dirt. My dad, silver-haired, looking more and more like his dad, kneels on dew-dropped grass blades. “I forgot my knee pads,” he murmurs, dipping an orange-handled shovel into a shallow channel.

We’re building four raised garden beds again, in the new yard. His hair is starting to curl around the edges, “Like Uncle Kurt,” my mom and I notice, and he is so much stronger since September’s cancer surgeries and the ceremonial-eating of the only apple on the tree

My twenty-year old son is there for his strength and his love of the outdoors. He and his grandpa wield a borrowed yellow mallet, heavy enough to tip me over when I pass it unexpectedly at one point.

“Can I help? What can I hammer?” hopes six year old Daniel aloud.

“Hey, Daniel. Here’s a spot you can hammer.” John points to an upraised metal reebar tip and crouches beside his brother, and my mama heart sings.

A red cardinal crows birdeee birdeeee birdeee from the highest point of a silver balsam tree behind us, and the rising morning sun warms us. My nose runs from the cold air. A wind shakes cottonwood seeds down around us from the neighbor’s tree.

“Ready for the next post, John?” my dad asks, and I snap out of reverie and jump green corduroy sneakers onto my pitch fork, preparing the soil before them.

Write what you know, right? I know about heavy squares of sod chopped and shaken to save any garden dirt; black-capped chicadees and cardinal soliloquies, and sons with grandpas wielding mallets. I know french-pressed coffee oils swirling atop hot mugs, and dirt under the nails despite three washings. I see hard-working loved ones, and smell rain-fresh brown dirt, sliced grass sod, and lilacs from the neighbor’s front yard.

And the moment captured is enough. My job is to see and note.

For you? Is there anything that looms taller with each passing day? Step in, pull up the chair, take that first action. The fear will still be there, I confess, but the hidden joy that comes from doing what you were made to do will spring up and delight you. I promise.

How are you? I’ve missed you. Catch me up?

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  1. Bill (cycleguy) on May 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Missed hearing from you Jennifer and since I hadn't heard any more about your father i was wondering if that was the reason. Glad to hear he is doing much better. I'm not the dirt person you are, but I do like the outdoors. Only I like to see mine on a bicycle. I'm getting some riding in (crossed 400 this year yesterday) but not nearly enough. Weather, time, health has played havoc on that. But life is an adventure and as long as I can live it with Him I'm good. Good to have you back…at least for this post.

  2. Floyd on May 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I always breathe a little easier after reading your words. Taking in loved ones and memories is like breathing in sweet love from Above.

    Thanks for the peak over your shoulder of your world. Brings a smile to my face. Blessings to you and your writing, sister. You were missed.

  3. Wise Hearted on May 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Glad you are back Jennifer and super glad you father is doing well. Never regret building memories with your love ones…time spent with them carries us through some tough times when they are gone. I so miss my Mom being able to do things with me and when I get to visit her I try to capture another memory. Oh it looks different now that she is in a nursing home but we do have some good laughs. This was a beautiful touching post Jennifer, shows your heart.

  4. Leanne Mills on May 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I've missed you too! =) Love the images your post has conjured up today. Was getting "worried" when you hadn't written for so long.

  5. Unknown on May 21, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Laughing and crying all at once. It is such a strange sensation to 'know' someone on the internet, someone who's life mirrors yours in so many ways. It's a strange sensation because of how comforting it is. I'm going to print this post and tape it by my desk as a reminder that I'm not alone, and that joy will come when I do what I was made to do. Thanks for always writing from your heart. Your words always mean a lot to me, and ALWAYS point me to Christ. Thanks for that.

  6. cabinart on May 21, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Welcome back, Jennifer! On your recommendation, I'm reading Pat Conroy's "My Reading Life" . Lo and behold, your writing reminds me of his!! Wow, such a pleasure to read your word pictures.

  7. Jayne on May 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I haven't written on my blog in a couple of months. Nor have I read others. I just sort of dropped off the blogging world. I feel God nudging me back. Thanks.

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