A Complete Rant about These Ants

Now before I get on with more stories from our journey across the continent and the telling of near glacial lake skinny dipping and the need for always packing a change of clothes, I have an ant infestation that needs to be gone!

For those who know me well, I’m not a bug person.  I have no problem crushing them with my bare hands and reducing their short life span to an even shorter one. I DON’T DO BUGS and when they cross the threshold into my domain all bets are off.

I have a kitchen window above my sink and for the last few months tiny, tiny ants have found their way through the screen and made themselves at home in my kitchen.  For the most part, I have simply muttered an unkind word in their direction and then ended their life with the touch of a finger.

They began inviting their friends and relatives so I upped my game and put out the Raid ant bait traps….to no avail.  I feel they check in at the RAID TRAP motel, go for swim and move on out without taking the poison with them because their population has grown.

Now for those wondering… I keep my kitchen pretty clean.  Dishes are done each night, food put away, counter wiped down but each morning I find them bidding me, “Good morning!”

We went away on our 28 day journey and now we have returned to much larger ants and a marching army of the tiny ones.

I have brought out the big guns of the RAID ant spray….which kills on contact…but who knows what else it kills in the meantime….especially my lungs!  Hack, hack!

I’ve had dreams of them crawling up my face and into my ear canals, up my nose and through my hair…this is scary stuff, people!

FULL DISCLOSURE TIME: Now after this next bit of information you might just give up on me completely but I need to be honest.  Today, I might have found the culprit of enticement that has brought them.

On either side of my kitchen window are small shelves for little knickknacks.  I confess, I’m not a tea drinker and I don’t use sugar in my coffee…I feel I’m sweet enough…at least that’s what Dave says.  But I do keep a couple of sugar bowls for my tea drinking mother-in-law and friends who drop in.

In an effort to eliminate this ant infestation, I’m on a wipe-down cleaning spree. So, when I took ahold of the sugar bowl off the top shelf, a somewhat high-pitched screech came up from my lungs… for behold, I opened the lid and found the complete royal court of those king-sized ants!!!

They have now been eliminated and their royal reign has come to an end!

Yet those tiny ants are still about and the spraying of that harsh ant spray all around my cooking area isn’t sitting well with me.  I’m now on the hunt for some kind of safe AND effective remedy for extinction before this mama does something drastic….like move!

Are We Ever Really Ready? #FMF Friday ~ Ready

Now that I’m getting back into the groove of life. I’m once again joining up with my friends at Five Minute Friday.  This is where we are given the same word prompt and each write on that word for 5 minutes.  We link up over with Kate Matoung and encourage one another with words.  Come join us!

 

Today’s word prompt is: READY

GO

“We head south today.” That’s all Hubby said and the tears fell.

On this long trip of dropping off our daughter for college, we had planned stops along the way. People to see, places to go, mountains to climb and water slides to conquer but today was the day we were heading south towards Seattle.

I wrote in my journal that day:

Before on this trip we were always heading north. We we’re continually moving up, stepping higher. But today….today we begin the descent. There is no more heading somewhere else.

Even though this trip has been heading us toward this ultimate destination of taking her to a new place to live, the words, “We’re heading south today” hit heavy in my gut.

Excitement builds for her…as it should.  Each mile traveled carries us closer and builds anticipation.

I’m excited for her and this new beginning in her journey. Time has moved quickly and she’s grown up before my very eyes.

Grace carries me through as I swallow hard each mile that ticks by. I can’t stop the miles and I can’t stop the tears.

It’s a process and today’s a hard day as we begin heading south.

Are we ever really ready for the day we let them go?

As parents we raise them to let them go and I’ve heard that many times, yet when we are faced with that moment it’s harder than you think.

A month before our trip, I met with a good friend.  We sat in the coffee shop and sobs literally poured from my eye ducts.

“I can’t imagine leaving her. I can’t handle walking away from my daughter and leaving her behind.”

And my friend’s words of wisdom…a mom who has been there…spoke:

“Rachel, no matter how you imagine it….. no matter how bad you think it will be…it’s going to be worse!”

Wow! That just oozed with soothing sympathy.

But she went on,

“So stop imagining how awful it’s going to be and instead live in the joy of the days you have with her now. Know it’s going to be bad… yet live in joy today and for all the days you have with her…and then…when the day comes…let it be terrible….let it be hard. Because it will be….and nothing you try and do to make it not be hard will work.”

And she was right….and that’s why I love her!

So we played, we laughed and I smiled at my grown-up girl as she packed herself away in boxes and suitcases. We shopped, drank coffee, and shopped some more.

I loved each moment and snapped pictures in my mind for my memory bank of life.

And ready or not…the day came…and I wasn’t ready….no one ever is.

It’s tough and it’s hard and tears still come reliving that moment as it unfolded.

But this is what I know now…. It’s a necessary step for us and for them.

We let go of familiar to experience something new

We move forward to move closer to Him.

And whether we are ready or not…He holds us either way.

STOP

 

Everyone Has a Story- #TellHisStory

Driving through Chicago, the rain pelted our windshield faster than we could wipe it away. Lightning splintered across the dark sky and we kept driving through.

Our goal when driving is always get to the other side of Chicago before stopping for the night. Starting a day with Chicago morning traffic is never a good idea. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

The rain continued and we pressed on….just get to the other side!

There are rail stations down the middle of Chicago’s I-80. Commuters and students wait on the concrete platform for their next train.

As we passed, some stood and watched the night sky in the direction of their coming train. Others passed the time on their smart phones; catching up on the day’s events or finishing up those last-minute assignments.

As we drove by those waiting in the dark, our oldest tossed this out, “Every one of these people has a story….if we followed any one of them, they would each have a place they are going….each have a place they have been.”

I sat and pondered this as we drove on.

I thought about how some are rushing home to those they love, others will have only the quietness of their surroundings to welcome them, while another may have no home at all.

Each one has their story with their own characters and scenes. Each one has a story line, intro, middle and end.

And as we kept driving and wondering about where each person’s story on that platform would take them, the thought echoed in my mind and I spoke it into the darkness…. He knows every story.

He knows our story.

This was the first night of our journey and this thought traveled with me throughout our time. Everyone has a story.

I kept bumping into this thought and kept hearing His whisper,  “Everyone has a story….and I know them all.”

Canmore

From the city crowded with buildings, lights and traffic to the wide open spaces of the prairies, dirt roads and fields, each one lives out their story in their own setting, style and genre.

And that is the beauty….everyone is a story and He knows them all.

From the city glow to the lone barn light….He is there. 

There and Back Again ~ A Quigley Journey

After 28 days of travel, 7,312 miles,  43 state license plates, 237 punch-buggy sightings and 14 different sleeping locations, we are home again and settling in.

I left you all with the last post of Practicing Grace and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

It’s crazy stuff packing for a 28 day journey.  We were filling holes for our ministry;  lining-up house-sitters, dog-sitters and plant water-ers.  Yet on August 4th, with our minivan loaded with suitcases, bags, blankets and family, we headed out and left all the busyness of life behind.

girls at petrified forest

For 28 days, we had no real agenda, no schedule and no calendar.  I didn’t keep track of time by minutes, hours or days but rather by pages read, rows knitted, pools and lakes jumped into and meals shared with people we love.

There were many days I would write and others days when the pen laid quiet.

Looking back through my journal, this was one day’s account:

In our world of keeping time and appointments, it’s strange to be held by neither.  I have no real urgent place to be or task to be completed.  I’m just alone with my thoughts and my pen in hand.  It’s not often I allow myself time to be this way…nothing on the agenda.  It’s strange and eerie but I hear His quiet whisper of encouragement.  “Breathe slow and deep.  Breathe in the moments of solitude.  Moments hidden away to simply be quiet and still.”

I’ve learned something over these days of quiet.

I don’t have to live busy, haggard, and worn-out. 

Many things on my agenda are there by my own doing, my own choosing — saying “yes” to people, events, agenda’s and demands.

I actually didn’t realize how tired I was until 3 weeks into this journey and my mind was finally resting.  I wasn’t loaded down with to-do’s but instead I was paying attention to the people and moments right there in front of me.

I was learning to breathe slow and deep.

running children

These 28 days of rest have slowed me down.  I’m slowing my tempo and slowing my life.  I’m re-evaluating agenda’s, demands and to-do’s so I can hear the whisper of life happening all around me.  I’m learning to slow down, breathe deep and listen.  I’m learning to take time out to run with those God has placed right here in my life all around me.

group hug

I’m now home with demands of days biting at my heels, and to-do’s wanting attention yet I’m learning to slow my life and quiet the noise around me.  I’m trying to listen well to what is important and life-giving.

Now for one who loves checking off lists and tearing up the task list, this is going to take some discipline and strategy.  It’s not going to be easy and I’m not going to be perfect but it’s this practice of listening for the whisper I’m wanting to keep.

sunset

I’m heading out a new journey —  a journey of listening.  I’m not sure where He will lead or where this will take me but my ears are open and my heart is still.

It’s good to be back.  I’ve missed this space and all of you!

(More stories and pics from this Quigley journey will follow soon!)

In the Place of Practicing Grace

In a little over a week, my world will consist of highways, cooler-food and hours of time with five people I love.  We are venturing out for time away and dropping off our first-born at college.

I’m practicing grace.

I have lists of to-do… to-pack… and don’t-forget.  These lists, if allowed, can fill my days because I’m a list-completer.  I like marking it off and checking the box.  There’s a sense of accomplishment in the check mark and line drawn through, yet that is where I’m learning grace.

Grace found in being more than doing.

Grace in learning I don’t have to do it all.

Grace in being 2

Yes, we have packing.  And yes, I have things to organize, delegate and file away.  But it’s not in checking all the boxes or marking through the lines that I find grace.  I find grace in checking what’s important and marking out time.  Some things on the list can wait and others don’t need to be done.

This place, where I lay out thoughts and pound out words on the keyboard, this place waits.  Because the place where I lay my head and live day-to-day, that place needs me.

That place…

  • Where books from one school year are put away and the next year’s brought out.
  • Where clothes are given away and boxes are packed.
  • Where we dunk Oreo’s with forks and eat Cheetos by the bag-full.
  • Where we’re smacking the ball across the court and learning “Love All” together.

In that place, roles are shifting and one is packing up.  That place needs my attention and I crave that attention, too.  We are checking what’s important and marking out moments, packing them away in our memory bank.

And because I’m there with them, I’m not here with you and time with them can’t wait.

So don’t worry about this writing thing.  I’m writing — It’s how God wired me.  Journals are filling and ink is spilling out all over…it’s just not here where all of you can see… because sometimes it’s good to be quiet and pack moments in just for us… just for our family right now.

I’ll be back and I’ll pound away with thoughts that I’ve pondered and grace that I’ve practiced but for right now I’m practicing grace with myself and grace with this place. I haven’t forgotten this place or forgotten you, instead I’m finding grace in the being and not in the doing.

I’ll keep practicing grace and catching up with you soon!

 

 

Blooming Through the Distractions- Five Minute Friday

I’m late to the game today…distracted by really nothing and yet everything all at the same time…if you can relate at all.

We are linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and the girls from Five-Minute Friday.  Lisa-Jo gives us all a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes…no real over thinking, over-editing, or over-doing…just write…bravely writing!  Then we link back up and encourage one other with words and high-fives for being brave.

Our word-prompt today:  Bloom

GO:

Nestled in the yard of my childhood home, a row of bright pink peonies grew between our house and our neighbors.

I was never really sure if they belonged to us or our neighbor since both households enjoyed their beauty and bounty.

The peony is one of my favorite flowers, not only for the way their large blossoms fill a bouquet quickly but also how their fragrance fills the room with the smell of summer.

If you’ve ever watched a peony grow and bloom, one cannot help but notice ants crawling all over the bud of the flower.  They scurry about moving quickly…almost like an invasion.

I was always told that peonies needed the ants to bloom…they somehow helped the peony open.  The science community now says, this is an old wives tale and the ants really do nothing to help the flower bloom.  The ants are just there for the sweet nectar produced by the flower bud scale.

peony1ed

Life scurries around me.  Situations, appointments and interruptions invade my life pretty effectively…just like ants on the bud. They’re not really helpful to the cause just something else to do.

Right on the edge of opening up and blooming into the fullness Christ has for me, I feel the pull.  The pull of time stealers…those things that don’t really help me accomplish the goals of the day but instead become one more thing distracting and pulling me off course.

It takes my own choosing and focus to put my energies into what matters instead of the time stealers and distractions all around me.

I would like to think those ants help in some way in opening up the peony and helping it bloom…it makes a pretty story and we like useful things…but instead they are serving their own purpose of gathering the sweet things and satisfying their own desires…just as time stealers for us.

Yet I can learn from the peony…that beautiful one in bloom.  It is not distracted by the scurry around, about and through…instead it is focused on its purpose…its purpose in blooming.

I don’t have this whole focus thing down perfectly.  I get distracted and am pulled off course yet I keep pressing on…pressing on toward His purpose for me.

One thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me… Philippians 3:13-14

 

STOP

Stretching to Be Long ~ Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday Today, we are joining up with Five-Minute-Friday, where we write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s word prompt is: BELONG.

If you’d like to link up or read others with the same word prompt, click here!

GO:

“Mommy, can I be long here?”

I was curled up on the one end of the couch I call my own in the morning hours. My coffee in hand and my pen in the other, my knees curled up and my journal resting with thoughts scribbled out and moments jotted down.

I look down to the other end of the red couch and there he lies all stretched out.

“See how long I am?”

“Yes, Matt-ey, you are getting so long!!”

“I can reach from here to here.” as he points his toes into mine.

He’s so proud to be growing big and I’m proud as well.

We’re now in the fun stage where A’s, B’s, and C’s just aren’t letters but they make sounds and form words…words to be sounded out and read on the page.

We’re in the days when there’s something new to discover each day…a baby toad jumping across the gravel and worms under the wood.

Every day holds adventure. Every day is play.

He leaves his laying-out-long and comes to my end of the couch.

“Mom, can I be here?”

“Absolutely!”

It’s my turn to uncurl legs and be long. I stretch out and make room on my lap for this little guy growing big.

Together we curl up on my end of the couch, I slow down to his pace and cradle him in with arms wrapped tight.

The coffee waits and the pen gets put away because right now something else belongs here on my lap…some one who stretches out long and reaches right into my heart.

STOP

Encouraging you to stretch-out-long this weekend and spend some time belonging with those you love.  Happy Friday, everyone!