Artist’s Lane – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:33:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Purchasing a field of treasure http://www.pagosasun.com/purchasing-a-field-of-treasure/ Wed, 06 Nov 2019 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190293 This week, I came to a new understanding about an age-old parable. It is a familiar story about a treasure hidden in a field. A man sold everything he had in order to buy that field, then knowing the joy of possessing the treasure within.
I said to my Sweet Al. “I think I bought the field when we got married.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A field of treasure. I had no idea what treasure I would find within the boundaries of our marriage. Neither one of us knew what we would discover in each other when we married. So, why did you choose me?”
“Because you were as cute as a button, fun and I loved your ducktail.”
Needless-to-say, my ducktail got an updo around the same time that Al’s widow’s peak faded from view, but I digress. Yes, I also chose my Sweet Al because he was cute. Because he had good manners and a beautiful heart, too.
We bargained for each other. I would take care of his home, raise his children and be a good wife. In turn, he would love me, provide for me and protect me. Pretty simple. That was what marriage was all about, or so I thought.
After attending a concert in Albuquerque, a few nights before my “field of dreams” revelation, our family stopped at a fast food restaurant. Our son and my Sweet Al were in one car, two of our daughters and I were in the other. We parked side by side and talked through the open windows while we waited on our food.
Al reminisced. “This reminds me when I would go to Bob’s Drive-In. I would park, then meet a girl and make a date for Friday night. When my buddy arrived in his hopped-up Mercury, we would drive to the other side, talk to some other girls, and set up a date for Saturday night.”
Heavens, my Sweet Al had transformed into a16-year-old like in his high school days. He became Mr. Personality, full of wit and flirtation. He even tried a few pick-up lines on me then asked me out on a date. It was cute and a little corny. Mind you, three of our grown children were listening to their dad, snickering as they look at me and waited for my response.
Flashbacks flooded my mind of a time when Al had only 19 cents to his name, just enough to buy a gallon of gas to take me home. He had a wolf call button installed in the floorboard of his 1955 Chevy and wasn’t shy in using it. Sure enough, that was the field I fell in love with.
I chuckled as I listened to my 82-year-old husband flirt with me across the cars. Today, I know fully what treasure I inherited in “the field” I married 59 years ago. It has taken years of digging to find it. First with a shovel, then a backhoe. But eventually, I found the hidden, priceless treasure that lay beneath the surface.
Somewhere between the rocks and tumbleweeds, and the days of our youth and now, I’ve gained a clear vision of something I didn’t know I would find all those years ago. It is interesting that it would take going to a concert with our children for two old dawdling seniors to relapse in to a teen’s world.
My Sweet Al and I each brought different elements into our relationship. Al felt an obligation to work hard for the family so I could be a stay-at-home mom and spend time working on my art. My work, however, didn’t bring much financial value, but certainly required I make whatever we had stretch as far as it could.
When we needed extra money, I’d pick up an old piece of furniture from the thrift store, paint on it, then sell it to fill in any gaps.
The things we needed “to do” to survive have always been important. But the things we have uncovered as we have walked through our field together seems to yield a greater deposit.
Final brushstroke: Over the years, the fields we purchase uncover so many treasures. For me and my Sweet Al, there is love, trust, peace and so many other things that made a good marriage and home. Little did we know all those years ago that we would uncover diamonds in our own backyard.
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The camo pajama game http://www.pagosasun.com/the-camo-pajama-game/ Wed, 30 Oct 2019 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189865 “Heaven forbid! When are you going to take off those pajamas so I can wash them?”
My Sweet Al wears his favorite camouflage pajama bottoms all year-round — to take out the trash, work in the garage, even to work on the cars. But at this time of year, he just won’t take them off. Is this what it means, “Be instant in season and out of season?”
If you’re a hunter, apparently this is how things are. A hunter is always ready to spot a deer or elk, even if only wearing concealing flannel. Not yet hunting season? No issue. For my Sweet Al, always be prepared.
He and our son were on the way to the dump with a load of stuff. I said, “You can’t go to the dump wearing your pajamas, what if someone sees you?”
“It’s OK, it’s just the dump. Besides, I may see some game.”
When did we get so old that it doesn’t matter what we wear and have complete confidence in why? For my Sweet Al, it’s all OK. He is dressing for the deer. Evidently, when you live in wildlife country and even if you just have to pop into town, anything in camouflage print is appropriate attire.
Unfortunately, Al’s obsession is not limited to just what he wears. I have had to restrict him from driving because he is too preoccupied looking for deer, turkey or whatever is in season. No problem there and nothing he can’t justify. As long as he is dressed in his gear — or pajamas — he is focused with his eye on the prize.
Al doesn’t hunt like he used to, but it doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about it. Last year, our son-in-law called and offered to take him hunting. My Sweet Al cleaned his gun and sharpened his knife. He had a wild look in his eyes, a smile on his face and his trigger finger was twitching. He had hunting fever.
Like a schoolboy going on his first date, he was up all night trying on his camouflage clothes. And, of course, he had on his camouflage pajamas. Apparently, there is a hunter’s code. A hunter has to look the part, even if he doesn’t shoot his gun.
He is a hunter and he will die a hunter. If he wants to wear his pajamas to the dump, I guess it’s fine. At the end of the day, does it really matter? In between deer and elk stories, I get to hear something I could never see: my Sweet Al’s happy heartbeat.
Final brushstroke: We live in a place where we see wildlife every time we pull out of our driveway. It is also hunting season. Don’t sweat the fever that comes with it as it doesn’t last forever. So, whether your man is clad in camo or flannel, give him a sugar pill and indulge his crypsis ways. Just be thankful that he asks you how he looks before he leaves the house. Things could be so much worse.

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Sweet Al’s secret fan club http://www.pagosasun.com/sweet-als-secret-fan-club/ Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189109 My Sweet Al has a secret fan club. Who would have thunk it? Over the years, I have heard from a number of men who have expressed how much they appreciated my column. I always figured they were speaking on behalf of their wives. Until recently, I didn’t know that there are those who secretly hail Al as a hero. Maybe it’s because their own wives are giving them a hard time, too.
I received the following email from Jim. He wrote: “Regarding one of your articles on Al’s junk car, I am now speaking up for Sweet Al. I think he needs to keep it. You should turn Al loose on it so he can do his old car up right. He would look great driving it in the 4th of July parade. This is not a paid for commentary on Al’s part. I said all of this of my own free will and I know that I am right. Al, Keep it all. KEEP the car.”
Seriously? There are men who rally together in support of another man’s junk? Clearly and officially, I have heard it all.
My Sweet Al and I were invited for an evening out at a friend’s house. We were told that it would be a small gathering of some fans. Fans? That’s enough to make a girl go out and buy a new girdle and shave her legs. Shortly after my Sweet Al and I cleared the front door, the conversation landed on Al’s junk and his prize mutt, Whiskey.
I knew my star had faded when Ken looked at Al and said, “When I come from Albuquerque, the first thing I do is run and buy a paper and read your article.”
I gave Al the side eye and mouthed the words, “Your article?”
Then there was Tony. All he wanted to do was to talk to my Sweet Al about his junk because, of all things, he loves his junk, too. At one point during the evening, he said, “I love to hear about other people’s lives. I can hardly wait until paper day to read about Sweet Al. By the way, how is Whiskey?”
Whiskey? This is what my life has been reduced to? I now handle public relations for a dog that eats and sleeps better than me?
Bob said, “The funniest article you ever wrote was about the time when you went to the hospital for your sleep study, and Al drove around and around that circle because he couldn’t make a right turn.”
I just smiled, it wasn’t a day I wanted to relive.
My Sweet Al perked up and added to the conversation, “When I go to the lumber company, Mark yells across the store, ‘Tell Betty to keep writing.’” I, of course, had to finish Al’s sentence. “When I go to the lumber company, Mark yells, ‘Poor Al, are you still making him work around the house?’ Of course, and that is why I am buying more paint.”
All things considered, we really did have an enjoyable evening. There was a lot of laughter and I let my Sweet Al take his rightful place under his own spotlight. But as all things come to an end, the spotlighting of the night would fade the moment we walked in our front door. My son was standing in the kitchen. Without looking up from whatever he was doing, he yawned and said, “Well, how was your fan club?”
“My fan club is just fine. Jim, Bob, Mark, Ken and Tony love me. In fact, I was even on Tony’s bucket list as someone he wanted to meet in person.”
With words dripping in sarcasm, my son looked up and said, “So sweet.”
I didn’t dare mention who the real star of the evening was. I couldn’t handle being heckled by my own son.
My family finds great sport in my attempt to be a writer. I don’t think they even try to understand me. But when it comes to their dad, they scrutinize every word and every story, and are more protective than his own mother was.
Not a week goes by when I don’t hear one of my children say, “Would you just leave him alone,” or “Would you just let him do what he wants.” If only they knew they were egging me on to pick at him more and then write more.
And what about my Sweet Al’s secret fan club? Evidently, they are cheering him on, waiting to hear if he has discovered anything new around the house. After all, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Final brushstroke: As an artist turned writer, there is a special bond that forms with others when you hear how your work impacts their lives. It was a surprise to me to know just how much that bond was being created with my Sweet Al rather than myself. So, to the brotherhood of merry junk admirers, I promise to keep you up to date should Al discover anything new. Even with and, begrudgingly, if only about Whiskey.
Comment from my Sweet Al: “I have five Ghias, two VWs, two work trucks and one dune buggy. The fact that they don’t run does not make them junk. Most of them even have all four wheels.”
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Recognizing the territory of time http://www.pagosasun.com/recognizing-the-territory-of-time/ Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179709 Time creates a marked boundary, a territory. While it doles out in the abstract, we all have it. Some of us have too much. Still others, not enough. Interesting how something so relative can create a view that is as night is to day.
Here’s a question: Are we chalking up time as a spend or mapping an investment? One thing is for certain, the choice is ours to make. And, only through the lens of heaven’s camera will any of us know what we have parsed.
A favorite poet is William Blake, who lived a contradictory life. He would be wealthy in a world to come, but a pauper in the world which he lived. His words danced invaluably across the pages of history, but were silenced with a cost.
At the time of his death, his wife, Catherine, had to borrow money to bury him. He was laid to rest in an unmarked plot at the Non-Conformist Burnhill Fields in London. I can hear Catherine’s farewell now: “Even in death, he did not gain any territory on earth. Where he lay, he didn’t even own.”
Some labeled William an eccentric, but most thought he was insane. Yet, 200 years later, his words stand the test of time and are the mark of this great man.
“To see the world in a grain of sand and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour,” he wrote.
Those words were likely thought to be frivolous when penned. But living these words in eternity, I am sure he has proved them to be true.
Blake’s belief was in God, the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, angels and saints. Blake was a man who believed that he saw angels and talked to God. He is quoted as saying, “I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much detracted from his spiritual glory. I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy.”
He might have done well not to take a wife. How happy was Mrs. Blake? Did she relish all of his fancy words, his deep thoughts, or his profession as an artist and poet?
As a wife, I am certain that I would be questioning the kind of man I married. I am also certain that I would be echoing the words of the world: “Being a romantic doesn’t pay the bills. Get out and get a job.”
But, William Blake had a job. Although he didn’t realize any immediate dividends, time would be his greatest asset. What he didn’t possess in life would be his gain in a world to come.
He knew no acclaim or commercial success for his poetry or art, unrecognized during his lifetime, posthumously known as an important figure from the Romantic age.
Blake said that when his energies were diverted from his drawing or writing, that his time was being devoured by jackals and hyenas. He knew that time would just be counted, if he didn’t make it count. It seems that he understood that he wasn’t taking up space today, but carving out an enclave for tomorrow.
William Blake lived and worked in truth, providing us with words and imagery that has taken up residence in the hearts of many. It is in that space that we know, we are “holding infinity in the palm of our hands, and eternity in an hour.”
Final brushstroke: Time creates a territory of cost or value. Is what we embrace an asset of any value? Does our legacy yield a moment to behold or offer something previously cast aside?
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Following the blueprint http://www.pagosasun.com/following-the-blueprint/ Tue, 08 Oct 2019 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179217 There have been times when I resisted change for any number of reasons. I was an artist for 45 years before I became a writer. It’s enough to make me wonder, would I have been a better writer if I had I honed my skills earlier in life?
If only I had a blueprint. Perhaps I would have picked up a pencil instead of a paintbrush back in the day. To be perfectly honest about it all, I’m not sure I would have had anything to say. In essence, it has taken a lifetime of living to believe I have something of value to write.
I had a strong stirring in my heart recently. Sleepless nights led way to a burning desire to start an online prayer group to pray for our country. I would be remiss if I said I answered that door at the first knock.
I immediately questioned the importance of the desire. Why me? I am sure there are other people who are more equipped to pray for the country and would do a better job. Why now? This is not part of any plan in life that I know of. My passion is in the arts, not politics.
The conviction to pray for our country became a fortified force within me. Yet, at every turn, I put wall after wall in place. I was not raised in a political family. Any viewpoint I have is from a weak foundation at best.
“I’m a writer, not a fighter.”
Eventually, I knew I had to do what I was supposed to do: build that which I was called to build. But with each stone laid, each timber placed, I couldn’t seem to see things materialize.
Maybe I misunderstood the plan. After all, I could go on and on as to why I didn’t think I was the right person to lead a prayer group praying for our country.
I watched a movie called “Music Within.” It was the true story of a motivational speaker by the name of Richard Pimentel. He loved to debate. His dreams were shattered by a college professor who told him that he had a talent for speaking, but didn’t have anything important to say. The professor’s advice, “Go out and earn a point a view. You won’t have anything to talk about until you have lived a full life.”
Feeling like a failure, Pimentel joined the Army, then shipped off for Vietnam. A bomb blast took away his hearing, but with much determination, he learned to read lips to overcome his impairment.
Pimentel eventually found a new circle of friends, which included a man with cerebral palsy and an alcoholic war veteran. His gift in public speaking allowed him to become an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act which was passed in 1990.
Pimentel didn’t relish in his handicap, but recognized through his ability to speak in public how he could help others with their own limitations. Those around him needed him to use his passion to speak to their cause for their own needs.
Why does it seem like life has to unravel before we can know who we are supposed to be or what we are supposed to do? Maybe, “earning a point of view” means finding the right angles and measurements that are built within us.
I realize that leading a call to pray for the nation doesn’t mean that I need to have a strong political view, but the desire to surrender to a master plan, a foundation built on the Bible.
Each of us has been called with passion and purpose uniquely our own. For me, it has been years of Bible study, which has gone deep into my soul and has given me a very specific point of view.
Final brushstroke: Even as a blueprint resides on the drafting table, it is important to understand its design. Like a plumb line that always brings us to center, we eventually align to the path we are supposed to take, even if it means renovating, taking down walls to add a new room.
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Good old glory days http://www.pagosasun.com/good-old-glory-days/ Sun, 29 Sep 2019 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=178762 My heart turns to the boys of fall at this time of the year. I can hear Kenny Chesney sing those lyrics once again. “They didn’t let just anybody in that club/Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood/To get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall/The kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall/It’s knocking heads and talking trash/It’s slinging mud and dirt and grass/It’s I got your number, I got your back.”
Once again, it’s football season. Our grandsons have graduated, but we haven’t forgotten their glory days. We, along with other parents and grandparents, watched our boys on the field ­— and enjoyed every minute.
Before each game, we built them up. We even drove across the state to see them play. We knew every boy’s name, their position and their number. We yelled from the bleachers, praised them, and told them how to play. We talked about the game from the time it was over until the next began. We didn’t want those days to end, but like all things, they did. “Our boys” have grown up and a new crop is here to take their place.
We have all experienced the glory days at some point in life. Those times when we thought we owned the world. Wrong! The world owned us. Being important made us feel good and we didn’t mind being owned. We gladly allowed ourselves to be captured by our own perception of glory.
Believe it or not, life is better after “the glory.” Of course, we have to experience the other side to know this. It probably sounds like I am painting a picture of someone in their old age who has lived life, who now sits in a rocking chair dreaming of that last touchdown. Quite the opposite!
Life after the glory days is nothing less than snapping a ball back in to play, a new game, a new day. Perhaps even a new beginning. After all, we already know what we have accomplished. We even know how we failed along the way. The stress of the game is replaced by an understanding of peace. An understanding of not just where we may have limitations, but of the promise of what we can achieve.
All too often, we struggle with faded glory. Why? Maybe it’s because the mountain we once stood on now blocks our sight as viewed from its base. Isn’t it interesting how the jersey we once wore that showed so bright now seems so dull when viewed from the side line?
It may sound defeating but it’s not. In fact, there is a freedom we can experience when we lay down the reputation that we otherwise felt we had to defend. What happens when we take off our helmet? We see ourselves for the hot mess we are. If we can take comfort with anything in life, it’s in seeing ourselves for who we are.
While the gone of the game may not always be easy, discovering who we are and becoming secure in that is tomorrow’s touchdown. No run to play, no sweat to pour, just an opportunity to rest in grace and discover what lies ahead.
Final brushstroke: In a little town like ours, where newspaper clippings fill a coffee table, we cheer on those who rush the field, and celebrate those who led the way.
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God has to get my attention http://www.pagosasun.com/god-has-to-get-my-attention/ Sat, 21 Sep 2019 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=178217 It was prayer meeting day, the perfect time to examine personal conviction. Probably even a better time not to pick a fight with my Sweet Al — but it was inevitable.
I caught Al mid-snooze as he sat propped up in his overstuffed leather recliner with the television blaring.
“What is the television doing on? No one is watching it.”
Al turned his head toward me, half opened his good eye and said, “I thought I was.”
I took the remote and turned off the TV. “But, you’re not. I am overdosing on news while you doze off through the noise. I’ve heard that same news over and over. We don’t need the television on all morning. The noise is driving me crazy. I need peace for my soul and I need to be ready for a prayer meeting.”
“You’re fanatical and are getting so touchy.”
I gave the remote back to my Sweet Al and said, “I can show you touchy. You’re not going to like it.”
Al put his recliner upright then trained his focus on me. “You’re not listening to me. If it is about one of your articles or meetings, then you are all ears. If it’s something important to me, something that helps me set up my day, then it’s just noise. I always thought it was interesting that Jesus said, ‘If you have ears to hear …’ Maybe, we need to listen more for carefully for things not always heard.”
And that was the way the day started.
As I sat in my prayer meeting, my friend leaned over and said, “I don’t think you hear me. Do you have your hearing aids on? You’re always speaking over me.”
“Of course, I have them on and I can hear just fine.” Then I thought to myself, I guess I do over talk everyone. “I am sorry.”
“It’s OK.”
I have been known to butt in, or even steer a conversation in the direction I want it to go. It’s a wonder why my friend is still my friend and my Sweet Al is still my husband. During the prayer meeting, my friend needed to be heard without interruption. Earlier in the day, my husband needed to hear the news, even if it was just helping him plan out his day (or sleep).
During the meeting, we got on the subject of hearing from God. I started thinking about how often God speaks to me, but I don’t hear because I am not listening. Suddenly those sobering life moments that jolt me to my feet make perfect sense. After all, God has to get my attention somehow.
With or without the need for hearing aids, we probably all have our own problems with listening. My Sweet Al is right. I hear plenty good when those around me talk about something that is important to me. But I may not always listen, and sometimes get annoyed in the process, when the topic is different from where my heart or mind is.
It is familiar with where I see the world today. How many times do we see problems arise from the smartest person in the room? You know, the one who doesn’t care to listen to anyone else. We see it every day. People get so engaged in a conversation that focuses on themselves, and forget to listen to those around them.
Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset said, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
In the book “Whisper,” Mark Batterson wrote, “You will eventually be shaped in the image of the loudest voice in your life.”
Both quotes seem to hit on truth. I know that I tend to be attracted to the loudest voice in the room, especially when it’s mine. I am smart enough to know just how much trouble I can get myself in when I rely solely on myself. I also know that my wisdom, my talents and my priorities are best shaped when I incorporate those around me, most certainly from the one that created me.
Final brushstroke: My Sweet Al got a perfect score on his hearing test a few months ago, yet he can’t hear me. Maybe there is something he is listening for that is so much more important than mere words. Maybe he is being shaped by influences that bring wisdom, instead of by those who only want self-glory. It seems that I am no longer the smartest person in the room, something I am in complete acceptance of as I understand who I am, in lieu of just being heard.
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The tapestry that is us http://www.pagosasun.com/the-tapestry-that-is-us/ Wed, 11 Sep 2019 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176982 I am amazed when I stop and think about the many people that have come into my life. Moreover, when the differences that bring us together seem greater than similarities that would otherwise do the same.
There is a passage in Jeremiah where God says that he has plans for us. To paraphrase, I know the meticulously woven purposes that I am skillfully, carefully and intricately weaving together for your future.
Our lives are such a tapestry of texture and color that are ever greater enhanced by those we meet.
Nothing is by chance and so goes my introduction to Mary Miller. She is a volunteer at Loaves and Fishes who maneuvers around the tables with a dedication to service. She stopped by my table one week and mentioned that she would be out of the country for a short period of time. When I inquired as to why, she told me that she “lives to volunteer.”
Knowing that Pagosa has become a haven for the interesting, I set up a time when we could meet for coffee. I wanted to find out more about how traveling and volunteering interlinked.
At the young age of 86, Mary has traveled to 45 countries and has plenty of stories to tell. When I asked her who she travels with, she told me that some of her trips are by herself.
“Alone? Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?”
She looked at me as if it was a foreign thought and said, “No, why should I be afraid?”
I could think of a thousand reasons why I wouldn’t travel alone.
Mary continued, “I pack a smile and common sense in my bag, which is always ready for the next trip.”
“But you’re 10 years older than I am. If I was traveling around the world, I’d pack more than a smile and common sense.” It didn’t sound like common sense to me, but, to her, it is a way of life.
In addition to being an intrepid traveler, this energetic lady volunteers with a group of participants who provide dental care to individuals in third-world countries. In fact, she was preparing to go back to Cambodia in a few days. I was exhausted just hearing about her tight-scheduled itinerary during her upcoming two-week trip.
This is her ninth year with Global Dental Relief, where she has been lauded by organizers and volunteers alike. She is passionate about being able to help those in need, some who just need a good excuse to smile. She works with a team who uses a pressure cooker and a hot plate to sanitize equipment in their makeshift medical clinic. When the generator goes out, the team does their best to continue brightening the smiles of the many children they encounter. At the end of the day, they pack up, load up, then hop in the back of an old pickup truck to proceed to the next village.
Mary’s entire life seems knitted together in a way that makes perfect sense. She was one of 10 children, born to hardworking farming parents in rural Pennsylvania. When she was 18, she married a young man who was in the Air Force. She is also a Korean vet, serving for two years herself. Married 32 years, she, her husband and their six children have traveled the world. Now I understand why she has such a love for the nomadic.
One of her daughters authored a book about her many adventures, titled “Mom on the Run.” It tells stories about her life and travels, and displays a collage of pictures of Mary and the many people she has met along the way.
Her daughter writes, “Mom turns 86 this year. Her email snippet, signature, mantra or whatever single distinct meaningful element of speech you prefer is ‘You’re never too old to have a happy childhood.’ That about sums her up! She’s about as fiery as anyone could possibly imagine being and she’s hardly slowing down. My mother has always had a hunger for travel and the gift of gab. She meets not a stranger and sports an uncanny talent of drawing people toward her.
“After working hard on the farm as a young girl, serving in the military and raising a family of her own, mom’s dreams of jumping into those pages of her father’s National Geographic Magazine as a girl have finally come to fruition.”
The pictures in the book showing a smile on Mary’s face are understandable. It is a true reflection of those to whom she has generously given time and effort.
I asked Mary to describe herself in one word. She used two. “Free spirit.” She showed me a tattoo on her ankle of a butterfly. She said, “I won’t let anyone pull off my wings.”
Final brushstroke: I could get a tattoo of my Sweet Al on my ankle, but what is the greater lesson here? What am I missing? I have a strong faith, but not enough to traipse all over the world. Then, again, I’m not Mary. But, like her, God has created each of us with our own unique purpose — a complex and intricately woven sequence that defines us and directs all our tomorrows.
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Understanding the disturbance http://www.pagosasun.com/understanding-the-disturbance/ Tue, 27 Aug 2019 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=176009 I asked my Sweet Al if I created a disturbance in life. He did not hesitate to answer, “You are a disturbance. You throw tacks in people’s beds.”
“Does that mean I cause people to lose sleep?” I laughed. Humor always helps me to dodge bullets when Al’s gun is loaded and he’s looking for a target. Only this morning, he prefaced his words with, “You might get mad if I tell you.”
I quickly responded, “Then don’t tell me. I don’t want to hear it.”
Did I really need to hear how I throw tacks in people’s beds and keep them up at night? Besides, I’m trying to source the reason for my own sleepless nights.
I was convicted by a certain scripture that had been troubling me for days and I felt like I had to do something about it. “If my people, called by my name, will humble themselves and pray … I will hear their prayer and heal their land.”
As his people called by his name, we need to do what we are told. We need to humble ourselves and pray, and then see God heal our country. I felt confident that I had heard from heaven. I waved my banner, lifted my hand and said, “I’ll do it.”
Al often tells me that I don’t always have to be the one in the front row raising my hand. Let someone else answer when heaven calls. But I couldn’t rest.
I decided to started an online prayer group, similar to another one that I attend each week, to pray for our country. I had my son set up a video hosting application on my computer then told my Sweet Al what I planned to do.
His response, “Another long weekly phone call? I’m not thrilled with this harebrain idea, but if you must, you must.”
“I must.”
I set up the online meeting for a specific time each week, then sent out invites to a circle of friends. I pressed down hard. I told the invitees that I had heard from God and felt like we needed to humble ourselves and pray. I was excited by receiving several responses and just knew we were on our way.
I heard from God all right. Monday night, an electrical storm shot lightning through our house. Sparks flew and fried everything from the phone connection box outside to the wireless modem inside. Our telephone and Internet were out — we had no outside communications.
I had caused quite a disturbance rallying so many people to join my online prayer group, and now it looked like I would have to find a way to backtrack. I had to let everyone know that I wouldn’t be online, but how?
The phone company didn’t blink an eye when they said they would put us on their schedule — in three weeks. Then they kindly offered us a three-week credit for no service.
I didn’t want three weeks of credit, I wanted my phone and Internet service. My social life, business, banking, shopping and movie watching comes through the phone. Even my weekly article is carried over the phone lines. This disturbance has started to grow.
I saw a telephone truck drive down the road. Without a thought, I jumped in the 4Runner and flagged down the technician. After hearing my exasperating plea for help, the technician told me that many other people were without service. He was kind, but told me that I would have to wait my turn for the repair.
As he got in his truck to leave, the only thing on my mind was to wish for a handful of tacks to throw under his wheels. I wanted to cause him the same disturbance I felt being isolated from the outside world for having my own plans derailed.
Apparently, I need as much prayer as the country around me does. And since revival starts in the heart, maybe that was something I needed for myself.
What is it with these disturbances in our lives? Why is it that our best-laid plans only seem to create a disturbance for others when our plans fall apart? How many times have we disturbed others just to get our way?
The final brushstroke: When something comes from heaven, trust that it will cause a disturbance. Maybe it is because we are not prepared, or because we are not ready to move forward in some way. Answering a call requires us to step out of the quiet, even if it is just a test to see if we are ready to do so. After all, it is in the disturbances where God does his greatest work. Even if it means just being ready while he works on our heart to prepare us for what comes next.
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When we can’t see the forest for the trees http://www.pagosasun.com/when-we-cant-see-the-forest-for-the-trees/ Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=175532 A widow sold my friend a 1957 red Chevy. It was polished and detailed with chrome, and roared when it rolled. My friend said to her, “Your late husband must have spent hundreds of hours on this car.”
Her response, “Yes, he did. I wished I had the time with him that he spent on his car.” Apparently, the widow saw more clearly than her husband did, but it was too late.
Ouch! When I heard this, I was nailed to the wall. I knew I was guilty of the same thing. I missed the wrestling banquet this year and one of the last times the High Rollers would play together. There was a mix-up and my Sweet Al showed up without me.
In fairness, I did drop off a double nut, double cream cheese carrot cake for the auction ahead of time. My son-in-law labeled it “Better-Than (You-Know-What) Carrot Cake” and it brought in $175 at the auction. Still, I should have been there to be a part of the fun.
It’s a good thing that my Sweet Al gets around more than me. He mentioned that he enjoyed talking to Mr. G., one of my readers.
“Did you tell Mr. G. how much I always appreciate his kind words?”
“No. We didn’t talk about you.”
“What? Isn’t it all about me?”
Evidently not, but something I am OK with. I believe we all live in our own forest, the thick green mangled foliage of happenstance and life. A place where self-centeredness is comfortable. Perhaps like the widow’s husband, we spend more time in our own life simply because we are so attached to who we are.
I am sure there are many who can relate to the widow. I know that I am guilty of finding distraction in my own forest of thought, driven to tackle something only important to me. When I am on the Lower Blanco, I find I am in my own literal and virtual forest that keeps me a million miles away from the world — my proverbial happy place.
I started thinking about the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is an expression used of someone who is too involved in the detail of a situation that they can’t see where they are in the sum of all of its parts. A perfect description for when I disappear into my “happy place.” How many times have I busied myself with my own projects, not realizing I was keeping others at bay? It is like someone needing to paint an entire house in one day, but spending half of the day picking out the right color.
I could probably come up with a thousand reasons why I find it necessary to get lost in my own moment. But, the truth is, we all need to step away from those things all-encompassing, every now and again.
It is almost like we need to “detach” from ourselves, to stop in our own moment of importance long enough to be aware of the lives of those we genuinely care about. Sometimes we need to enter in to the forest of others, taking time to understand who and where they are among the trees.
Alas, we are determined and can’t seem to escape our own entanglements long enough to give pause to those around us. It’s a form of self-absorption. I don’t think that it is a bad thing, provided we can step out from an opening to let others in or to see clearly that which is around us. Especially if it means doing so before the time to do so is gone.
Final brushstroke: The widow sold the car her late husband left behind. The car was not that important to her. She would have rather had a few more minutes with her husband than the few dollars the car gathered. After all, now someone else is driving his car and enjoying the time he spent on it.
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Send your comment to betty@bettyslade.com.

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