A REFUGE

A Circle B 1A REFUGE

A week ago, my youngest grandson and I did a long hike at Circle B Bar Reserve on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock. He wanted to walk Marsh Rabbit Run and was very disappointed to realize it was closed at this time of the year—due to adult alligators protecting babies. Connor decided we would walk Alligator Alley Trail instead. I hated to disappoint him. But I told him I wasn’t too keen on it. I think it is listed as about a mile long. With the ninety-degree temperature, I knew it’d be a very warm hike, and I worried about alligators. Alligators don’t read! And a huge mama gator might decide to raise babies somewhere besides Marsh Rabbit Run! But Alligator Alley Trail was open to the public. So I gave in to his insistence and pretended to believe what he said—that he could outrun and beat up any alligator that came along. Never mind that I knew I couldn’t outrun the reptile!

We ended up walking very fast … actually I think it’s called trotting! That’s because more than halfway down the trail a big gator scared some people coming toward us. Water and mossy trees were on both sides of the narrow trail. The gator had hidden in tall bushes along the bank. It plunged sidewaA Circle B 2ys into the water—kaploosh!—when those people paused to take pictures of sweet baby gators! They shrieked and ran in our direction, not caring that they almost knocked eachother into the water. We didn’t stop … determination ruled. We ducked, scooted past the crazy camera people, and flew along the trail, rather than turn back.

My grandson muttered and panted under his breath as he jogged at my side. “I made a bad choice. Memaw, I should’ve listened to you. I just WANT to get back to the parking lot! Oh, God, please help us!” A Circle B 4I’ll admit that I had to smile in satisfaction at his heartfelt confession.

When the trail curved away from the lake and continued under oaks and other foliage, we slowed down and talked about how worried we had felt. At that point, I spotted a turkey hen. We paused in the sandy trail to watch. She cautiously stepped out of the scrub, heading directly for us with two half-grown offspring. She came within five feet of us, edging closer as we stood shock still. She kept tipping her head sideways, peering up at the mossy oaks and dazzling blue sky.

I murmured toA Circle B 7 Connor, “She’s watching the sky for danger. And I bet she knows it’s safer being near us. She only has two babies with her. She’s lost some to predators.” The loud call of an osprey came from the lakeshore, and the voice of a red-shouldered hawk sounded from the woodsy area in front of us.

The hen crossed the dirt path we stood on and entered the tall grasses on the other side. Her youngsters followed, blending with the grass. But within moments, the nearby call of a hawk made the hen hurry back toward us. How did she knowA Circle B 6 we might represent safety? Once she and children were hidden, we moved on—longing for a tall, cold drink. It was a wonderful end to a hurried hike through uneasy territory.

Sometimes in life, we wander off where we really shouldn’t be. Even though we watch things around us and tense our bodies for flight—we aren’t always safe. God created us with the ability to sense danger—much like the mama turkey knew a threat sat high in a tree over their heads.

If we tune in to God’s voice, love, and strength, we can recognize the perils and sins of life and hurry back to the shelter he provides. Life within the circle of his presence is better. He spreads his protective wings over us and calms the quaking of our soul.

His word tells us: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 KJV A Circle B 5

We can move back under the safe haven of his word and love. We can call our children and grandchildren to follow us, teaching them that the Lord loves us—wants to provide for their needs. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 KJV

Can you remember a time when you were in trouble and God provided a refuge? Why do people run from God instead of fleeing toward him? Please scroll down and leave your comments. They are very important to me and others who read this A Circle B 8blog.

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2013

Feel free to repost this blog and photos, keeping the copyright notice intact. Thank you.

 

 

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE

A beautiful lake. It is a serene picture and photo worthy. Who wouldn’t want to wade out and enjoy a peaceful swim–a time to just float on your back and let the sun warm your face.

A lake at Circle B 1

Sometimes life is that way–beautiful and worth of every activity we can cram into it. We dive into situations and don’t pay attention to the things that might hurt us or harm our loved ones. We don’t pray for protection. We just keep swimming out beyond the shallow, reflective pools. We believe in ourselves and our abilities to handle any situation.

 

But wait. The picture must be examined and studied. The seemingly innocent bumpy line in the photo isn’t just a dead branch floating on top of the water. It’s a large alligator. Danger lurks. A lake at Circle B 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we travel through life, things can turn ugly, and we immediately need help. Perhaps, we’ve gotten too close to a bad situation and back-paddling isn’t going to work.

There is a verse we can rely on. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” Psalms 86:7   KJV

 

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest blog post. God bless. Please scroll down and leave a comment. The alligator that my grandson and I spotted last week was huge, but he was a good ways from shore. Other people stopped to stare at him. He doesn’t show up in the photo, but he was impressive!

~Karen

© Karen Campbell Prough 2013Gator 1

 

 

 

 

A WRITER HOLDS THE DOOR OPEN

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What type of book wrings your heart, makes it ache with the character’s dilemmas, or keeps you yearning for more words, more pages, and a lasting connection to the plot?# 25 Blg picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is your favorite spot to read? Do you seek a place outside or curl up in an overstuffed chair? #14 Blog pictureDo you read while another person drives through towns you never see? Is there a book held in your hand while you stack blocks for a toddler or rock a baby?

What transports you to another day and time? Is it the description of the setting? Do the familiar events within the story entangle you and bring a flare of memories? Or do you willingly go where the author directs?

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And does that direction have to do with how well the author hides the world you live in?

Perhaps, the word that most defines the reason we reach for a book is—escape. We let go of our moments in time and drift into another season, a different circumstance, or a land far removed.

Emotions we feel, what elements of the story attract us, and the places the author takes us, are very important. One or all of these things can come into play or intermin

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But what if you are also a writer? As writers, we need to succeed at pulling a reader into the story, blending a probability of truth around the fiction, and giving our readers the thrill of touching emotions, they may never experience.#12 Blog picture

A Blog postAh, but most importantcause them to forget where they stand or sit. Make them willing to run away from the familiar and experience another situation and time. Remember, a writer holds the door open to many types of worlds.

Thank you for stopping by to read my random questions and thoughts!

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave your ideas and comments on this post. What draws you to a book? Why does a book linger in your thoughts? Do you ever miss the characters after you’ve read the last page of a book? I do.

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough

Please feel free to share this blog post, along with all copyright notices on images. I hope you enjoy the pictures I have taken and added to this blog.

 

WALK FORWARD

A forward walk 1

More than likely, we have all heard someone tell us to stop wallowing in self-pity and keep going—no matter what. They urge us to walk forward in life and not falter.

 

In other words, take to the road and trudge in the right direction!

 

 

Ugh! That can be a lonely path.

A walk over a bridge 1

 

It may involve hiking around vast complications. Let’s admit it. Life has a bad habit of tossing unwanted stuff in front of us. Hopefully, during trials, we learn to grab the good, cherish it, and skirt around the avoidable bad occurrences.

 

 

A Father Son Walk 1

 

But while dealing with adversities, we also add to our bundle of knowledge and skills, gain confidence, and eventually see the top of the mountain. And along with many prayers, trials, and errors, we can achieve the ability to process our past and see where complications drove us forward or changed our course. And we might be able to figure out how to improve our future steps.

 

 

 

 

 

But what is another result of nurturing that determination to keep climbing—instead of wallowing in self-pity?A Father Son Walk 2

 

Learning to persevere provides us with the skill to reach out to others and urge them forward. What a huge gift from God!

How many timA Father Son Walk 3es do we ignore it?

Nobody has all the answers for every situation, but you might have the right response for people placed in front of you—those who need your encouraging words and gentle understanding, in order to handle the trials of their lives.

We cannot ignore this gift. Let us smile and give our know-how to others.

“My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” Psalm 63:8 KJV

 

~Karen

Scroll downward and leave a comment! Thank you. My son and grandson are featured in this blog–walking a trail together. Alligators and snakes are the topics. 🙂

© Karen Campbell Prough

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FROM CRAWLING TO SOARING

P1140162FROM CRAWLING TO SOARING

I’m growing milkweed plants in the yard, and we enjoy watching the Monarch caterpillars hatch from eggs and munch on leaves. LastFrom camera_077 week healthy, chubby caterpillars covered the plants.

Then we got a cold snap. I feared the caterpillars would suffer harm, so I collected all of them. I put them in a jar for the night and gave them a supply of leaves. As the weather warmed the next day, I transferred them back to the stems of the plants. They continued to grow.

Two days ago, during another chilly morning, I went outside to fill the chickens’ water containers. But there cater_079was a caterpillar underneath the first loop of the water hose. Nope … that’s not a good place to establish even a temporary home.

I carefully removed him. He was cold, stiff, and not moving. I brought him in the house, put him in my “caterpillar jar” with some sticks, and sat the jar in an inch of warm water. He finally started wiggling and crawled up the side of the jar, got on a stick and crawled downward. Last night he attached himself to the stick and hung upside down. But he chose to hang close to the bottom of the jar! That’s not a wise place to hang out.A1

This morning I checked on him. He hung there, wiggling slightly. I thought, yep, he’s ready to shed his outer covering. I took the dog out and came back in. The caterpillar had thrown off his old, dark rags, and he hung there in a new green suit. I missed seeing the transformation! But I continued to watch him.

The chrysalis wiA3ggled, and I wished I could see inside, to see the amazing process take place. With each wiggle, the green casing changed shape. The top thickened and rounded, the length shortened. A gold dotted line brightened around the top like a crown. The chrysalis grew fatter, firmer, and smoother. It took about thirty minutes, and I snapped pictures.

Now, the chrysalis hangs from the branch, much too close to the bottom of the jar. I will tape the branch higher up in a day or so, so the butterfly will have room to lengthen and flex its wings when it hatches out of confinement.

How like human life. We’re like that caterpillar—often going the wrong direction, hiding in the wrong spot, sinking to the bottom of life, and trying to do things on our own.

God picks us up, warms us with his love, and offers forgiveness. He places us next to hiA6s heart and watches over us as we begin the transformation. It quite often takes a long time for us to change, to wiggle through circumstances, throw off the old life, toss away bad habits, and drop the stained and wrinkled garments of sin.

Then life takes on a new, bright appearance. But we are still growing, developing a heart for God, and changing with his guidance. We appear different. People have no problem seeing that we’ve left the old life behind. Some watch us with awe—remembering how we once crawled through life,A7 getting into tight spots.

We mature under God’s direction. And there is coming a day when the shell of this earthy life will split asunder and we will awaken in radiance and beauty. We’ll experience the newness of our appearance; past woes will be tossed aside. We shall lift off this earth to soar in the heavenly realms, higher than any butterfly has ever gone.

 

“In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.” Colossians 3:10 NLT

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it touches your heart and makes you realize that God wants the best for us.

~KarenA8

 

© Karen Campbell Prough

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FIGHTING THE MONSTER

FIGHTING THE MONSTER

Cave and dog It seems like there are wonderful writers wherever I turn. Their books speak of fascinating characters and intriguing plots, which reach out to readers all over the world. I’m in awe of them. Their written words have filled many books. Their storytelling talents manage to keep readers glued to one spot for hours. A reader might even forsake eating and sleeping in order to devour the whole book in one sitting. What an accomplishment for those writers!

 

Cave and karen

Right now, I feel lost in a remote jungle that has thick, snakelike vines creating a tangle of my writing. And incidents in life are stealing my time left and right. I’m faltering and turning in circles. So running away and finding a deep cave to crawl into is an appealing thought. Of course, the cave must have a wonderful supply of candles and matches, a few munchies made out of dark chocolate, a notebook, and a new ink pen. And a cushion to sit on might be nice.

Cave and lights

 

Lately, many things have interfered with my writing. It’s like there is a monster gobbling my time, and winking at me. It’s enough to make me want to bolt and run.

But scurrying away and seeking seclusion is not an option right now. The monster would follow me.

He’s a relentless ogre who steals my time, shrugs in indifference, and tosses any extra minutes over his shoulder. He snickers at my struggles to juggle the petty things that interfere with my writing and laughs at the important things that come around to knock me for a loop. The monster claps his furry hands in delight when daylight hours fade away, the screen blurs before my eyes, and I’m too tired to type.

Cave and me

 

But I am a writer and storyteller. God gave me the talent and I must follow the path. What stands before me—or in my way—must step aside. As I set out to organize certain parts of my life, I need to accept the things I can’t push aside. I fully realize that my written words may never grace a bookshelf or appear as a downloaded book for someone to enjoy. But somewhere, in all the avenues of my life, there must be a superb reason that God gave me such a profound desire to write.

I try to write so that Godly truth shows in the actions of my imagined characters. They suffer what humans have endured. And if my characters come forth as a champion over affliction, it is only because in real life—God’s presence does banish monsters. Hopefully, people may see the reflections of their own lives in my books or enjoy a respite from the trails of life.

God’s forgiveness brings his people forth and sets them on solid ground, even if their feet are dirty from the bogs and swamps they have tramped through during the span of their life. God’s people should continually spread his message of hope and salvation.

I'm no monster!

I’m no monster!

 

 

Yes, the duties of the day yell loud and clear but so does my need to write.

If you’re a writer—keep tapping the keyboard or writing in that notebook. God gave you the talent. You must use it. He didn’t call you to wow the nations but to be true to the talents he gave you.

And if you’re not a writer, remember that you have a work to do. Don’t throw away your talents. Fight the monster of doubt and discouragement and go forth to use your unique gifts and abilities.

Please scroll down and leave your comments about conflicts you run into in this life. We all have them.

 

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough

No text or image may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder. Thank you.

 

DANGER AROUND US

DANGER AROUND US

Sometimes danger hides in how we, as mere humans, handle situations without God’s help. Many things are better left untouched, because when we proceed without seeking wisdom, pain and distress can be the result. People suffer all their lives from unwise choices and jumping in where they shouldn’t be. They reach and mess with things best left alone. Beautiful framing can hide a lethal bit of poison.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there can be a different set of problems. Life has risks but refusing to step beyond our enclosed world will limit the wonders that God set in place for humanity to experience and share. There are things in this world that scare people and turn out to be harmless. We can compare it to the fact that some unfamiliar creatures of nature might appear disgusting but can transform into a token of wonder and beauty.

So how does this reflect God’s love, when it comes to reaching out to others—perhaps those that aren’t so lovable or approachable? It can be scary. We need wisdom.

Wisdom and the request for God’s guidance can keep us on the right path. Not all the hurts in people’s lives will be erased. But that should not make us withdraw from contact with this world. Should we prevent rejection by keeping to ourselves and hiding God’s plan for man? No. As a human being and God’s child, we cannot foresee what a changed life may look like by our willingness to touch someone’s life in a good way. A beautiful thing may develop.

The plan of salvation is a second step. First, we must make contact. One action or word of comfort, in the name of Jesus, can promote a change in those around us. It will let them see that God’s salvation can be inviting, not scary or unobtainable for them. Our acceptance of others lets them see the possibility of them being accepted by God.

And so, we must step up to help those around us. But perhaps some of us need help today—a bit of reassurance—or words of encouragement and wisdom when we think about this subject. It can be frightening to reach out to others in this day and time. This world is splintering and fraying along the seams of human life. One scripture comes to mind: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 KJV

Another translation says, “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do … ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” James 1:5 NLT

Ask for God’s guidance at the beginning of each day.

Helping others is what God wants us to do—so that part shouldn’t have to be hashed over in our minds. For most of us—it’s the need for wisdom in what we say. But prayer, ahead of time, gives us strength. And remember, actions speak louder than words. Quickly responding to someone needing a helping hand doesn’t have to be proceeded by a thought-out prayer. Being aware of God’s nudging at the time is what fulfills our responsibility.

By asking for wisdom from God, it is easier to reach out and help others—no matter what they look like, what their circumstances, or how frightened we might feel at that moment. Remember to use wisdom but be willing to step out. God gave us the gift of wisdom, and we should be careful where we tread and how we present ourselves to others, but we should never neglect to be God’s example of a changed life.

So, take God’s love with you. Be a flame flickering in a world that doesn’t understand kindness.

Thank you for reading this post. Please scroll down and leave your comment. Your thoughts are appreciated. What have you done for God lately? How have you shown love to someone? Every little bit helps in today’s world. Pictures of the scorpion (not a poison one) was taken at a barn in Bell, Florida. I captured it off a wall, by placing a green-tinted drinking glass over it. And then I took pictures. I thought it was a neat results. Did you see what was on the back of the scorpion? Pictures of caterpillars and butterflies were taken of butterflies to show my grandchildren how they hatch.

~Karen

 

Please, no text or images may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder.

 

THE ORANGE CAT

THE ORANGE CAT

by

Karen Campbell Prough

Darlene lifted a cardboard box from the back of the small trailer. The Florida sun warmed her sleeveless shoulders as she walked around her car and deposited the box on the porch steps. “Whew, I’m almost done.”

A cat bounded past her and went up the steps. It meowed and headed straight for Darlene’s five-year-old daughter.

“Mommy, an orange cat!” The girl dropped to her knees in front of it and held out her hand.

“Brooke! Don’t touch it. Get up.”

“Why?” Large blue eyes emphasized the single word.

“Because—it might be sick.”

The tiny-framed child jerked her babyish hand away from the marmalade cat and jumped up from where she had been kneeling. “He’s sick?” She lifted a heat-flushed face. Her brow wrinkled with concern.

“I didn’t say he was sick, just that he might be. You must be careful with stray animals.” She waved her hand at the cat. “Go home, shoo!”

“He looks nice.”

“Yes, but don’t touch stray animals. Come in the house, now. Mommy has to unpack all the stuff we brought with us.” She bent to retrieve the box. “You look hot. This Florida weather is going to be murder on us. It’s not like back home in Ohio!”

“What’s … stray?” The little girl followed her into the house and pulled the door shut behind them. “Mommy, what’s stray?”

“It means he doesn’t have a home.” Placing the heavy box with others already covering the surface of a round table in the middle of the quaint dining room, she groaned and rubbed her lower back. “Oh … I won’t be able to move tomorrow.”

Brooke shoved an old chair—dated by its metal frame and vinyl seat—to the table. She climbed on the chair and surveyed the boxes. “That’s like us, Mommy. Are we strays?” Her hands pushed tangled blonde hair out of her troubled blue eyes. “Huh?”

Startled, Darlene stared at her little girl. “Oh, no, Honey! We aren’t strays! We have … this house … and stuff the previous owners left behind. It’s ours. Remember? You went with me to sign all those crazy papers. Come here.” She lifted the girl off the chair and hugged her close. “No, baby, we’re not strays. Daddy’s insurance money helped us buy this little house. And I now have a good job. That means we’re going to be okay! You and me.”

The child squirmed in Darlene’s tight embrace. “Then, can we let the cat stay with us so he won’t be stray? Please?”

She sighed and smiled at her daughter’s request. “Well, maybe we’ll let him hang around for awhile, but you mustn’t pet him until he gets used to us. He might bite or scratch. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“And … he must stay outside.” She set the girl back on the chair and studied the clutter around them. “I hate starting over,” she murmured, suddenly fighting tears. Emotions and memories crowded in on her. In the past, there had been a strong back and willing arms to lift all the boxes and help unpack.

“Mommy? Are you sad ‘bout this house?”

Darlene tried to smile while brushing a tear from her cheek. “No, baby, it’s a mess in here but this is a nice house. Want to help me unpack a few things before you have your bath? We must find the towels and washcloths. Come on dirty face; let’s see if you can find the right box.”

Giggling, Brooke slipped off the chair and ran down a short hallway to a pile of boxes on the floor. She pointed. “Here! This one. You drew a picture of a potty on it. See?”

“You’re so smart. You remembered. Great Grandma Hendricks will be proud when I tell her. We’ll go see her tomorrow. She lives only a few miles away.”

“Does Great Grandma know Daddy went to heaven?” The child’s smooth forehead kneaded into a frown.

“Oh, Brooke … yes, she knows. She feels very sad, but she’s happy because Daddy is waiting for us in Heaven.”

“Does Daddy have cats up there?”

“Cats?” Darlene inwardly groaned. Why do children come up with these types of questions? “I think Heaven might have cats. Remember, I told you the Bible mentions the army coming out of heaven? They’ll be riding horses when our Lord comes back to earth to fight the bad guys, so … why not also have cats in heaven?”

A delightful smile lit Brooke’s face. “Orange cats?”

“Yes … perhaps.” She patted her daughter’s head. “Now, let’s unpack.”

#

Two hours later, most of the boxes were empty. The remainder of their belongings and furniture would arrive by way of a moving van the next morning. Darlene opened the front door to check the little trailer one more time and almost stepped on the small cat.

“Oops! Orange cat you are living dangerously.”

The cat meowed and jumped to a small weed-filled container near the porch. It resembled a metal water trough. With a huge yawn, the cat stretched and then curled into a ball, as if to say … I’m here to stay, love me or not.

“Oh, thanks, cat. I really didn’t need you adding to my food bill. I hope you eat mice. Because otherwise, you’ll need to find another home—with rich owners.” After skirting around the container that the cat had claimed, she got the last items from the trailer and went back into the house. The sun had dipped behind the tall pines near the house but sunlight still managed to filter through to the small yard. A few palmetto bushes had encroached on the yard, growing in from the surrounding woods.

Brooke jumped up from where she was playing with toys on the floor. “Can I go out on the porch and talk to the cat?”

“Just talk … no touching. Okay?” Darlene set a saucepan on the stove top and smiled over her shoulder. “I’ll fix supper. Don’t go off the porch.”

“I won’t. I’m going to show the cat my big frog.” She bent to pick up the bright green toy. “I think he likes frogs.”

Five minutes later, a scream of fright made Darlene drop a spoon on the floor and run for the door. “Brooke!”

Her daughter stood in the middle of the narrow sidewalk, her hands covering her eyes. Darlene swept Brooke up in her arms and angrily scanned the ground for the cat.

But not twelve feet away, the marmalade cat suddenly sprang straight into the air, avoiding the strike of a pygmy rattler. Landing on its feet, it slapped with one paw and bounded in another direction. The snake coiled, seemingly in confusion, and then sidled sideways toward a clump of palmettos.

Darlene hugged her crying child and carried her back to the porch. “Are you hurt? Did it get you? Show Mommy, please!”

With sobs shaking her slight frame, the girl shook her head. “No, cat jumped over it.” She twisted sideways in Darlene’s arms. “Is my cat okay?”

“Yes …I think so.” She pressed her lips to the top of Brooke’s warm head. “Oh, thank you, Lord.”

The cat ran up the sidewalk, gave one meow, bounded into the dirt-filled container, and gazed at them with large expressive eyes that reflected the brilliance of the setting sun. Brooke wiggled out of Darlene’s arms, tears forgotten, and ran to grab her toy frog.

“I want to give this to my cat. He chased the bad snake away.” Without waiting for permission, Brooke approached the stray and tucked her toy next to its side. She patted the purring cat’s head. “Hear him? He likes it. Now he won’t be lonely tonight. He has a toy and a new home. He’s not a stray no more.”

Darleen knelt and kissed Brooke’s cheek. “That was nice of you.” Tentatively, she held out her hand to the cat. “What will you name this brave cat?”

“Orange Marmalade—like on my toast. But we better just call him Orange.”

 

 “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 20:14 KJV

Thank you for reading my short story. Pictures were taken by my mother. She had cats hanging around her yard. They had been abandoned by people across the street. The story is fiction, not based on any facts–not even ones about snakes and cats. 🙂  Remarks about the story may be left by scrolling downward and filling in the comment space.

 

© Karen Campbell Prough

(No text or inserted images may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder.)

 

 

THE BARN WAS GONE

THE BARN WAS GONE 

The sky turned sinister as the wind slammed against our house. Mom shoved all three of us children into the closet and gave us pillows to hold over our heads. She then shielded us with her body.

When the battering roar of the storm became a gentle rain, my mother called to check on her parents, Gladys and Orville Reynolds.

The storm had hit the farm.

We piled into the car and headed down the gravel road. We all wanted to see the damage. But from a distance, the empty landscape caused us to gasp. No huge barn stood near the rain-battered fields.

But wait … I realize that I must start at the beginning and tell the whole story.

#

Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds had been out riding horses when they saw the horizon turn a greenish-black. The Michigan sky deepened into a frightening dark color and boiled toward them, and my Grandpa realized this would be no ordinary storm.

They raced back to the barn, jerked the saddles off the horses, and released the horses to the field. Grandpa opened stalls and shooed animals out of the barn, but the wind howled through the cracking walls. He ordered Grandma to run for the farmhouse. He had one more horse to get out of a stall—a pregnant palomino, named Lady. But Grandma refused and yelled that she wouldn’t leave without him. As the wind swept away her stubborn words, Grandpa knew there was no other choice.

They ran for their lives, the wind tearing at their clothes. They made it to the rear of the house, ran up the cement steps, and stumbled into the back hall. They slammed the door shut and headed for the basement door. But as they hurried past the window facing the barn, they looked out. The familiar outline of the large barn was gone, flattened to the ground by the howling wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we piled out of the car at the farm, a sick, dazed feeling caused me to stop and stare. My childish mind tried to process the total destruction. The barn can’t be gone.

Just weeks before the storm, I had accompanied the men bringing in the hay. I could still hear the rumble of the tractor as my father lifted me to the bed of the hay wagon. My fingers had dug into the scratchy bales and fears of tumbling off the wagon washed over me. I had carelessly stood and watched the approach of the wide-open double doors of the shadowy barn. The smell of dried hay filled my senses as the wagon rolled up the grade and into the barn. I had gazed upward at the perfectly stacked bales to the right. They reached for the distant ceiling. Sunlight had squeezed through cracks in the walls and reflected on dust drifting in the air. Barn swallows had dipped and flown near the roof, and the cheeping of baby birds filled the vast area under the roof. Massive square timbers held the metal roof in place, but each notch in the construction had provided a place for a comfy nest.

The voices of my parents and grandparents, lamenting the destruction before us, pulled me back to the devastation. My thoughts spun. Baby birds! What about all the baby birds?

I begged to accompany the adults out to the barn. How strange to walk on the underside of the barn’s metal roof and step over solid timbers that were once upright. I heard the sadness in my Grandpa’s voice, a subtle shaking—that meant tears were a possibility.

My mother walked around the debris, her arms crossed at her waist, and hugged tight. A gentle breeze rippled over the destruction, and my mother pointed at something. She motioned me closer, and the pitiful peeping of baby birds drew me to a stack of wood.

Someone handed me a shoebox. I plucked babies from squashed nests, from under timbers, and from protected holes in wooden beams. I wish I could say they all lived. But they didn’t.

Yes, the palomino survived—she was located in the field. The upright walls of the stall testified to the fact that the horse must’ve been knocked down and somehow emerged from under the debris. She got out through a hole left in the demolished exterior wall and had only one raised bump on her back. That winter, Grandpa and Grandma hauled her to Florida in a horse trailer. I wish I could say that the colt lived—but it didn’t. It was stillborn.

My grandpa suffered a stroke not too many years after the barn blew down. He lived to become a great grandfather, but the farm—with its new barn—had to be sold.

Today I pulled a folded sheet of paper from one of my desk drawers. It was the advertisement for the sale of the farm and the auction of all the equipment. I read the list and my heart ached for Grandpa and what he had to give up. The memories still tug at my heart. I wish I had been old enough and rich enough to buy the farm. But I have my memories of Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds and the heritage they left for me to treasure.

Each one of us can turn around in our minds and stare at the past, hear its whispers, and feel its tugs. One piece of paper and a few old slides, which my father took many years ago, bind this story into a solid chunk of the past.

But the future is more important. I must turn and look forward. Every one of us must turn.

God’s word reminds us of past promises and the hope for the future. Pastors and Christian friends also help us remember the past but urge us to stand fast—for we have an everlasting opportunity in heaven.

 

One scripture says, “I plan to keep on reminding you of these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth. Yes, I believe I should keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live.” 2 Peter 1:12-13, NLT

We must admonish eachother to remember that God has been with us through the good and the bad. He’s still leading us. A new life waits just beyond the horizon. It’s ours … if we hold firm. What keeps you on the path heading toward Heaven? Please, scroll down. Share your comments in the space below this post. Thank you for reading my blog!

I have to thank my father, Marshall E. Campbell, for the use of his many slides and his paintings that appear in my blog posts. He tells me to use them whenever I want. I have downloaded hundreds to my computer and have hundreds more to go! He wants the family history saved.

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2012     Please ask permission before using this copyrighted material. Thank you.

 

THAT HOLLOW FEELING

THAT HOLLOW FEELING

Would people, who know you best, identify you as upbeat and a giver? But have you ever felt hollow and empty inside? Have you sometimes decided that you have nothing more to give to people around you?

I’m sure we have all felt that way during some point in our lives. The feeling may catch us by surprise, sneak up on us, and leave us unable to get up and face the world. Or we may recognize the sensation of emptiness after a challenging event in our life—the birth of a baby, the care of elderly parents, the breakup of a marriage, the accumulation of stress, or the loss of a job and career.

But what if there is no specific cause? What if we can only shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t know why I’m feeling this way?”

Sometimes we give of ourselves until the reservoir runs dry. To be born a giver can be uplifting but challenges can sap inner strength. A well doesn’t replenish itself. There has to be an inward flow.

Anger and depression can take up residence where once there was joy and vitality. We are human and we all need to feel an inflowing of comfort and a time of renewal. It’s not a sin to pull away from things, including people and loved ones, when constant demands deplete layers of our inner stability and stamina. Even Jesus had to disappear and seek renewal.

We should never feel guilt while stepping out of the picture long enough to gain replenishment. Givers must understand that a time away or hiatus actually helps them continue with the giving lifestyle, which is an intricate part of their personality. They love to give. A Giver can’t be happy if they totally forsake what God has implanted in them—the desire to help and provide for others.

So, keep on giving but don’t cheat yourselves out of a time for renewal. It’s okay to take that little trip, head for the woods, climb on that horse, and ride into the sunset. Run off to the beach, hide from the world for a week … a day … an hour, or go eat at your favorite restaurant in another town. Why not call up an understanding friend and take them to lunch? Totally change your daily routine and do something different. Take a long drive, stop at some quaint diner for lunch, or stroll through a local park.

Remember the scriptures. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Be a happy giver and prevent breakage of spirit by taking time out for yourself. God understands you have physical, emotional, and mental needs. A giver shouldn’t feel guilty about slipping away and finding time to mend. So … run away, if only for an hour. Gain strength to fly.

~Karen

 

 © Karen Campbell Prough     

Please request permission before using this copyrighted material. Thank you.

 

 

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Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives