poking a hole in this barrier just to see if anything happens

I just decided to post something here to this long-ignored virtual reality.  Sometimes you just have to break a rule, or run through a wall that has gradually encroached upon your life through some unintended habit or omission, just to see if it matters.

I’m pretty sure this blog thing doesn’t need to be some mental mountain, imposing itself in my brain-space like Mordor.  Poke it in the eye, and I think it will whimper and slink away.

Welcome to the dog-days of summer – middle August.  (I read a story recently about how August got that “dog-days” moniker.  I don’t recall the details, and it really doesn’t matter, anyway.  But I did.  It’s always interesting to me that we use phrases that we don’t really understand just because they’ve always been used, and they have a story that we don’t know.)

The mornings are darker later, and the evenings are getting shorter.  The days are still hot, but the nights are cooling.  The kids are excitedly dreading the start of school, and in some cases, so are the parents.

I’ve hit the August lull in workload – just after finishing July reports, just before beginning budgets for next year – and I’ve got a few days with few meetings and few deadlines and I feel like I can catch my breath.  Breathe in, breathe out.  See a little more clearly.

It won’t last, so I need to milk it while it’s producing for me.

I had a vacation in Vermont with my lovely wife:  6 days and 5 nights in a town with no cellular service and no restaurants, sleeping in a house built in 1846 with a 10-step walk across the grass lawn to the front door of a church also about that old, like every other church we saw in every tiny village of Vermont back-country with white clapboard siding, black shutters and a steeple reaching to the high heavens.

Raspberries and blueberries were at their peak.  We purchased fresh raspberries from an untended roadside stand in some friendly stranger’s front yard by putting a few bucks in a can, and ate them with our fingers as we drove, and we ate fresh blueberry cobbler in a gourmet restaurant in a tiny town in which we just happened to find ourselves along the way.

I read good books in bed until my rear-end was sore from lack of movement, rolled over and took a nap without even glancing at the clock, then stretched and slipped my flip-flops on and took my wife for a drive on what the map shows as the little gray unidentified roads with no numbers to find our next adventure.

Have I told you lately how much I love my wife?  Of course not, since I haven’t told you anything lately, so let me say it plainly here:  I really love Renee.  Really.  After 22 years, she’s still the person with whom I’d rather spend my time, bar none.  We laugh, we cry, we share and just hold hands for the comfort of knowing the other is near.  She’s God’s pain-reliever gift to whatever pain is vexing me from day to day.  Thank God for her.

Speaking of giving thanks, I read a book recently called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and let me say I just highly recommend it.  All the more so if you’re struggling a bit with finding eyes of gratitude amongst what can often seem monotonous and futile daily-grind kinds of days.  In response, I’ve been praying for God to improve my eyesight, to let me see the trail of him in my days, and to appreciate the colors he’s sprinkled about to keep them from blending into some gray soup.  Guess what?  He’s been answering my prayer with unexpected enthusiasm.

Seeing him more regularly is almost as gratifying as holding Renee’s hand.

6 thoughts on “poking a hole in this barrier just to see if anything happens”

  1. Holding Renee’s hand (not that I’d know, uhm, first hand… :)) is a trail of God’s so bright that it’s both easy to see and easier to follow.

    Blessings to you and Renee. 22 years. WooHoo!


    1. Wow! You are still alive. It’s good to hear from you again. Th’anks for the reminder to look for the ever elusive “good” things in my life. August is hard, and busy, and can be very stressful. I have found myself struggling with many things these last few weeks. I have been short and crabby, feeling unappreciated, and kind of out of sorts. But there are still many things to be thankful for and many reasons to be happy…I just needed someone to help me see that. I think I might check out that book just to see what else I might be missing. Thanks for sharing.


      1. Thanks. I think you’d love that book. I had a bad attitude and didn’t want it to affect me the way it did. But by the time I got to the middle of it, I had to admit it had. Most days are hard and wearisome, but every day is somehow filled with glory and refreshing. It’s just harder to notice.

        Love you!

        Ps. Kelsey is awesome.


  2. I just stumbled upon your latest post, which was weeks ago. Ironic, I am reading (or trying to) One Thousand Gifts and can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “Dale would love this book!” “This is SO Dale!” I’m slowly slogging through it and have been touched by several concepts that I hope sink deeper. As always I just wish what is in the book that’s of value would just some how transform my thoughts and feelings and attitude…it never seems to happen that way. Not sure why I keep buying books and hoping for that!

    The trip to Vermont sounds awesome, perfect. What a wonderful thing for two people to do with 22 years behind them and still time to just lounge together with no agenda. Perfect!

    Miss talking to you~


  3. Dale,

    I came across this post again today and began to appreciate it anew. I was feeling overwhelmed and overburdened today…as I sometimes do…work, Jesse’s extracurriculars, and proofing papers for a couple of college girls, bills, pressure, pressure, pressure, etc. But, as I was driving Jesse today, we saw a mom and three children walking alongside a busy highway lugging their things and trying not to get run over. It seemed obvious that their car had broken down somewhere and they were trying to get home. As we passed them, Jesse said, “Mom, that’s Mrs. Floyd!” She was his sixth grade math teacher and one of the few teachers that “got” him and they had a good student/teacher relationship. So, we decided to turn around and give them a ride to wherever it was they were going. They all piled in and I drove them the short distance to their home. They were all so grateful that they didn’t have to walk the three miles to their home with their heavy loads in the rain and it was such an easy thing to do to help them out. As we left, I wished her luck about getting her car fixed and she said, “I hope that we can get it fixed more than you know.”

    I know a little bit about the past three years for this lady and I began to mull it over and then I began to thank God and pray for her. I am still holding her up now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Three years ago her oldest son, who was in ninth grade at the time, committed suicide by taking an overdose of prescription drugs he found in their home. She was unaware that he was having any problems and the family was totally devastated. Shortly after that, she and her husband were divorced and she relocated to our school district with her three children.

    There but for the Grace of God go I! What do I have to complain about? What pressure do I have? She made a statement while in my car several times about how they were still trying to figure this or that out.

    It is unfathomable to me how you start over again after all that she has been through. To not have a partner to depend on and share with and to deal with the loss of a child in that way. But, she carries on and does what needs to be done. And, in the midst of all that she is going through, she intervened with a girl who is in Jesse’s grade and stopped her from committing suicide. She saw this girl’s posts on facebook and starting talking to her and helped to prevent another unexplainable death. I had also tried to talk to this girl on facebook but was ineffective. It must have been her mother’s heart and her experience with this that helped her get through to this kid.

    Anyway, this really helped to open my eyes and made me see how God has blessed us. I thanked him for everything under the sun…Yes, even Bret…ha, ha, ha!

    P. S. Yes, Kelsey is awesome. We love her. She is the entertainment factor in our lives. Keep her in your prayers as she navigates this first year of college. It can be difficult and sometimes kids can make the wrong choices.


    1. Alisa – I really love that story. Thanks for sharing. So many things we take for granted and rush past, and yet each moment/person is somehow integral in our experience. Sometimes I think the most random encounters can be truly life-changing. Reminds me of “chaos theory”. That is the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings over an island in the Carribean and moving a tiny bit of air, can lead to a typhoon in Asia, or a giant thunderstorm in west Texas. Of course, the butterfly would be entirely unaware of the invisible movement of the air or what it may have produced. The awareness of the specific effects isn’t important, it’s the awareness that we have an impact on the world around us that is important. A 3-mile ride, offered to a weary, worried child, lugging a backpack and good dose of heartache and embarassment, can lead to a world-altering development in that person’s grandchild in 50 years. You never know. So do what you can and be grateful for the opportunity. Or something. 🙂


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