“Warning” by Jenny Joseph (poem)

This is one of my absolute all-time favorite poems.  Every time I read it I chuckle and picture a happy, little old lady wearing a purple sundress, red hat, and sandals living her life fully and unapologetically, making the most of every moment and not having a care in the world.  One day I will be that little old lady.

Warning
By:  Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple 
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. 
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves 
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter. 
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired 
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells 
And run my stick along the public railings 
And make up for the sobriety of my youth. 
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain 
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens 
And learn to spit. 

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat 
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go 
Or only bread and pickle for a week 
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes. 

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry 
And pay our rent and not swear in the street 
And set a good example for the children. 
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers. 

But maybe I ought to practice a little now? 
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised 
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

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A letter to me

We have all at some point or another caught ourselves saying, “If I knew then what I know now . . . ”  My life would certainly be a lot different if I know then what I know now.  Wouldn’t yours?  We look at the obstacles that we’ve overcome that we thought were hopeless at the time, at the heartbreak that we thought would never heal, at the dreams that we were positive would never come true, and we smile because everything worked out in the end.

Who hasn’t thought about writing a letter to their younger self offering words of encouragement?  The idea first popped into my head when I heard the Brad Paisley song “A Letter To Me.” It made me wonder what I would tell the teenage Carrie.  I think it’s time to write that letter.

Dear Carrie,

I was sitting at work thinking about you today.  I know it’s weird to get a letter from yourself, and you may not even believe that it’s me writing to you . . . I know about the pink cardboard box under your bed filled with your poems.  I know that you dream of being a writer and the only person who knows is Bill.

I know you don’t think it right now, Carrie, but you are an amazing young woman.  Sometimes you feel like the odd-girl-out, like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  Don’t worry because one day you will embrace all the things that make you such a beautiful and unique girl.  You will have friends that love all of your glitter and rainbows, and you will be blessed to have friends that are closer to you than some of your own family.

Things are going to get a bit ugly as far as your classes at school go.  You get a bit lazy and let too much freedom go to your head during your senior year.  Mrs. Rose has faith in you though.  You will wear the cap and gown.  I promise.

And your dream career . . . all I’m going to say is that I am writing this letter to you while in between songs in the studio of a radio station.  Your grandmother has faith in you, and will want to see her oldest grandchild reach for the stars.  So keep dreaming, because some dreams do come true.

Never pass up an opportunity to spend time with your grandmother.  She is a wonderful, smart, loving woman.  You have so much to learn from her.  One day she will meet an obstacle that she can’t beat though, and your heart will be shattered.  It will be alright to cry, scream and be angry, because it will hurt you so much.  I will tell you this though . . . your heart will heal!  I promise!!!  You will always miss her, but you will one day be able to smile again.

Your mom . . . I know you and she have a very mother-teenage-girl relationship right now, but one day you will realize that she is one of your best friends.  Especially when you become a mother yourself.  Your baby is beautiful, by the way.

Your dad . . . one day he is going to fall off that sky-high platform he’s built for himself. You will get angry. You will want to hate him, but hold tight to your faith in him because eventually that will be all he has to overcome his demons.

Your faith in God, young Carrie, will waver. You will explore some non-Christian based ideologies but God will never lose his love for you or his patience with you. Even when you try to find your way back to him only to have your faith in everything shattered. But eventually somebody will be brought into your life that will show you the way back to the One who loves you the most and it will be a life-changing moment.

You are full of so much love, little girl, and will have many opportunities to share that love with others. Some people will hurt you, some will take advantage of you, one will even try to take what you don’t want to give. But, Carrie, keep your heart open, and never turn your back on an opportunity to show love to someone, and never miss an opportunity to tell someone that you love them. I know it’s a difficult word for you to say right now, but people will come into your life that will reaffirm your belief in love and you will be eager to tell them all the time.

Keep writing, Carrie. Don’t stop. You may think your writing is terrible, but you are good. Keep going and you will get better. And one day you will even have a moment when you will officially be able to call yourself an author. You will even write a poem borne from a tragedy that will grow bigger than you will be able to imagine. Keep that purple ink pen going.

You are going to make some mistakes in your life. They are unavoidable. Some of those mistakes you will quickly learn from, but some will take you a few screw-ups to learn your lesson. But don’t miss an opportunity to live life to the fullest. That is the biggest mistake of all.

Keep your head up, Carrie. All the troubles and problems and heartbreak that you think you won’t survive . . . You survive and will one day write this letter to me.

Love,
Carrie

What would you tell the younger you?

Until next time . . .

End Of The Music (poem)

In one moment
with just a few words
I was able to see
what, from everybody, I had heard
I can’t serve two masters
I can’t stay true to my faith
serving the flesh and the Spirit
One had to be given away
You were my weakness, 
my forbidden high
As I reach for salvation
from a power greater than you and I
Yes, I miss your smile
I miss hearing your laugh
But God will get me though it
as I let go of all that’s bad
You were a lesson I needed to learn
You can’t climb while falling down
You can’t bear the Savior’s cross
while wearing the sinner’s crown
After months of fighting
what I understood to be true
I can finally see what’s real
and set myself free of you
I pray you find happiness
and see your blessings everyday
In a world where you are so lost
I pray you find the way
 
By:  Carrie Leigh
07.17.14

Stepping stones

Finances . . . the bane of many relationships.  If you are struggling to make those ends meet than you know exactly what I mean.

I will be honest and say that my husband and I struggle every single month to get the bills paid.  We shouldn’t be struggling, because he picks up several hours in overtime every week at work and we have tried cutting out some unnecessary expenses.  But once you get into that hole you know that it’s really hard to climb back out of it.

Last Thursday my husband and I got two letters in the mail from the bank that holds the liens on our cars.  The bank was letting us know that our cars would be repossessed tomorrow unless we got the past due payments caught up immediately.  We are behind by two payments on each of the cars.  I panicked and, in the spirit of honesty, will admit that my faith wavered.  I was trying and trying to climb out of our financial hole and was face-to-face with falling further in.  Instead of going to God in prayer and asking for his help and guidance, and for the strength to deal with the situation I immediately started imaging the tow trucks hauling our cars away in a parade of shame.  I pictured my husband and I losing our jobs and home because we couldn’t get to work to earn our paychecks to pay the bills.

Do you see how quickly Satan can set up camp in our head if we let him?  All it took was me opening those envelopes and before I knew it Satan had himself implanted in my mind and was making himself at home filling me with doubt and fear.  Why does he do that?  He does that because that is the easiest way for him to turn us away from God.  If we are doubting ourselves then we are not focusing on God.  We are putting ourselves ahead of what God can do for us.  The longer we let that go on then the more ground Satan gains in our head and the further we are pulled away from God.

I was pretty deep into my pity-party when it was my husband that reminded me that I needed to go to God in prayer over the situation.  I could feel Satan start to pack his bags and begin his pouty escape from my head.  By the time my husband got home from work that evening I was much more focused.  We sat down and talked and worked out a plan of attack to deal with the potential loss of our cars.  That night I prayed.  I didn’t ask God to save our cars or to send us a well-timed windfall of money.  I asked him to give me the strength to handle the situation no matter what happened.

Fast forward to the next day . . . last friday . . .

We called the bank that holds the liens on the cars.  I imagined the person on the other end of the phone thinking some very bad things about me.  I felt so small and so weak.  The strength that I prayed for was quickly escaping me as I started to cry.  The woman on the other end of the phone reassured me that the bank wouldn’t take my cars, and that they wanted to help us get caught back up on the missed payments.  When it was all said and done I got off the phone, went into my co-worker’s office, sat in a chair and took a deep breath . . . and cried.  They were not tears of fear or heartbreak.  They were tears of relief.  God had gotten my husband and I over a scary hurdle even though I was afraid to trust in him to get us there.  He basically said to me, “Carrie, look what I can do for you if you will just trust me.”

Every experience we go through is a lesson from God, a chance to learn and grow for Him.  I thought that I had no problem putting my complete trust and faith in the Lord, but he showed me that I was wrong.  He used the experience with the cars to point out a weak area in my life that needs attention.

After further discussion with my husband, and prayer, we decided that the best course of action to climb back out of our financial hole would be for me to take a second job for a little while.  I am hesitant to do it because it will take me away from my family even more, but in the long run it will be what is best for my family.

God wants to be the number one focus in our life.  As long as we are focused on other things . . . our careers, friends, enemies, possessions, anything . . . we are not putting God first.  Financial strain can pull you away from God because you are focusing on the problem.  God will lead you to the solution, but you have to trust him.  You have to have faith in him.  You have to go to him and tell him that you can’t do it on your own, that you need his guidance.  He will guide you so that you can fix the problem and then focus on Him.

Why will he do that?

Because he loves you.  You are his child.  He doesn’t want to see you weak and hurting.  He wants to see you strong and happy so that you can exalt Him, so that you can share Him with the world.

What is pulling your focus away from God right now?  Share it with Him.  Ask Him for help to overcome it so that the things that are making you weak can be your stepping stones to the One who will make you strong.

Until next time . . .

A journey into me

By now, if you have been a reader of mine for any length of time, you know that I wrote my first book last year and published it on Amazon (under my real name-sorry) on January 2nd of this year.  The point of writing that book was to see if I actually had the guts to put my writing, which I had always kept a big secret, out into the world to be loved or hated, and to hopefully be read.  It was never about becoming rich or famous or the next bestselling author.  It was simply a personal challenge to climb out of my comfort zone.  Clicking “publish” on Amazon was incredibly liberating for me as a writer.
After publishing my first book I immediately starting thinking about the next book.  My brain had a different idea though.  It shut down for a while.  It took a siesta, a vacation.  It was worn out from the 7 month marathon that I had just put it through with the first book that it said, “no more writing for a long while, please.”  I have written some poems, and a couple of short stories, too, but nothing of novel-worthiness.
Then a few months ago it hit me . . . Another novel wouldn’t be a personal challenge.  I already know I can do that.  A personal challenge would be publishing my poems and short stories, the stuff that is actually pulled from my real life.  I wanted to see if I could not just share my imagination with the world, but also share Me with the world.  My poems and short stores, and even this blog, are essentially the pages of my journal.
Now you may be asking yourself, “But, Carrie, where’s the personal challenge in publishing those poems and short stories on Amazon if you can publish them here on your blog.”  It’s simple really.  Right here, right now I am completely anonymous.  You have no idea who I am aside from what you’ve read.  You already know my real name isn’t Carrie, and none of my friends or family read or even know about “A Tale Of A T-Rex.”  It’s easy to appear bold when nobody knows you are doing it.  But in truth I am hiding behind this blog.
So, my goal for book number two . . . To bring my truthful and honestwriting, the same stuff I write here, to the people who actually know me.
For a while I considered not doing it because I didn’t want to offend anyone who might recognize a piece as being about them.
Then tonight I realized something . . . Why should I censor myself to protect people who probably won’t even read the book anyway?  And what kind of writer would I be if I censored my personal writings just to protect those who may have inspired that particular piece?
Although if there are any specific names in a piece they will bechanged or edited to protect the “innocent”, so they don’t get all butt hurt.  This book is not about hurting anyone or getting back at anyone.  This book is about putting Me, all of me, out there into the world.  As a writer if I can’t put all of me out into the world then I may as well throw away my ink pens and tear up all of my paper because what is the point?
So I’m going to do it.  I’m going to take the chance.  My poems, shortstories, and other writings based on my “adventures” . . . a journey not into my imagination, but instead a journey into me.
Until next time . . .

Finally recognizing God’s voice

About a week ago I started a class at church led by my pastor.  The group in the class is very small.  Aside from me and our pastor there are only 3 other people.  I like the small size of the group though.  It makes for a more intimate setting.  With only a few people contributing to the conversation everyone gets a chance to speak, nobody is left out or fighting to be heard.

Near the end of the class last week our pastor told us that he wants us to start keeping a journal.  He asked if anyone already did that, and was surprised to hear that I do not keep a journal.  His words were, “I’d figure you of all people would keep a journal.  Aren’t you the writer?”  So needless to say it has been a bit weird this past week to get back into the habit of sitting down each evening and writing a journal entry.  You’d think it would be no problem, especially since I write most of these posts like a journal entry.  And, honestly, my journal entries over the last week have sounded like something I would post here.

Journaling is not the point of this post though.

Something else our pastor told us was that he wants us to be open to hearing the way God speaks to us.  I sat there and immediately got terrified because in that moment, had he asked, I would have said that I have never heard God speak to me . . . EVER!  Our pastor wanted us to be prepared to share with each other at the next class the way God has spoken to us since our last meeting.  I just knew that I was going to be the only person in that class to say that God doesn’t talk to me, that He ignores me.  I’ll be honest and  say that I started to panic.  If I can’t hear God speak to me does that mean that I am not a Christian?  Does that mean that He has given up on me?  Does that mean that I am failing in my search to turn my life around for him?  Does that mean that I am a fake?  Rather than trust God to open my ears and heart to be able to hear his voice I immediately fell into doubt.

I went home that night and prayed, sharing with him my fear and asking him to open me up to hear him speak to me if he had anything to say.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) (text courtesy of biblegateway.com)

The next morning I got up and got ready for work.  I don’t have to be at the station until 9 a.m, and usually leave my house around 7:45 since I have a 50 mile commute.  I was all dressed and ready to go by 6:45, a full hour before I needed to leave.  Usually if that happens I will sit on the couch and take some time to do a little reading, but as soon as I came downstairs into my living room a thought went through my head that I needed to leave right then.  I remember thinking that I would end up getting to work extremely early, but I could work on some stuff to pass the time.  Again the thought went through my head that it was time to go, NOW!  I gathered my stuff and walked out the front door.  I climbed into my car and tried to start it . . . **click click click** . . . dead battery.  I tried again to start my car.  **click click click**  Yes, that battery was absolutely dead.

My husband had driven my car the previous day and said nothing about it acting weird or out of sorts, but with a car battery you rarely get any forewarning.  They usually work one day and then all of a sudden give up the ghost.

I called my husband to see if he could come help me, but he was already in his work truck on his route and was nowhere near me.  I knocking on my neighbor’s doors, but at 6:45 in the morning they were all still asleep.  I tried calling a coworker who lives nearby, but she shuts her phone off at night and hadn’t turned it back on yet.  I tried calling my husband’s former mother-in-law.  We are still friendly with her and she has always told us not to hesitate to call if we needed anything.  She wasn’t answering her phone either.  All I needed was somebody to either come jump start my dead car or give me a ride to my husband’s car so that I could use it to get to work, but I couldn’t get anybody to answer their phone.  GRRRRR!!!!!

I thought about calling the drummer, but as soon as the thought popped into my head it was followed by another thought.  “He won’t come help you.  He will make excuses to get out of it.  Don’t call him.”  I never dialed his number.  Instead I tried calling my friend Tim.  He and I don’t talk that often, but I had no doubt that if he was awake he would lend me a hand.  It turns out that Tim had a doctor’s appointment that morning and my dead car was on the way to his doctor.  He showed up, hooked my jumper cables to his battery and patiently waited the 10 minutes it took for my battery to get enough charge to finally start.  He never asked for anything in return.  He was just doing a friend a favor.

I realized that morning that God listened to me when I asked him to help me hear his voice.  As a matter of fact he didn’t even wait 12 hours to let me hear him.  He is the one who told me that I needed to leave my house at 6:45 that morning.  Had I sat my butt on the couch until 7:45 then I wouldn’t have been able to get Tim to come jump start my car.

I have always “gotten a feeling” about things.  We all “just get a feeling” sometimes.  Some people call it a gut feeling.  Some people say they “just know.”  Is that God speaking to us?  Could it turn out that God was speaking to me all along and I just didn’t recognize his voice?

On a side note . . . the drummer.  It turns out that God has been telling me since November to leave the drummer alone.  My friend also told me the exact same thing back in March.  I did not listen, at least not until almost 2 weeks ago.  That was the last time I saw or spoke to him.  I ended up saying something that would have taken me back to the old me.  I realized that being around the drummer is so very bad for me, and that once and for all it was time to be done with him.  That thought that I had the morning of the dead battery . . . “He won’t come help you.  He will make excuses to get out of it.  Don’t call him . . .” was a moment of clarity for me.  I realized that in that one thought (God speaking to me again?) was summed up every aspect of our friendship.  With all of the times that I prayed and begged God to help me remove the drummer from my life but then went right back to him it was the realization that I couldn’t go to him in a moment of need that finally let me close the door on that friendship.  Up until that moment I wasn’t ready to let go.  I couldn’t see a reason to let go.  So God put me in a situation to be able to see it the reason with giant flashing neon signs.

God does speak to us.  He speaks to us all the time.  Sometimes we understand the words.  Sometimes we don’t want to hear them, but God always tells us what we need to hear when we need to hear it.

What has God said to you today?

Until next time . . .