"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow." ~ Helen Keller

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Short Story For You - "A Word to the Wise"


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Dear Readers,

It has been quite some time since I shared any of my stories with you. My blog posts lately have just been musings on life and my ramblings. Well, here are some fictional ramblings that I hope you enjoy. Nothing preachy, just a little story I did for writer's group I am in. After reading it, I realized there was a bit of a Thanksgiving message in it. 

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!!  :-) 

"A Word to the Wise"
By Chris Janzen

I know my time here on earth is fleeting.  Every day I get closer to flying away from here. But while I’m here I’m determined to fulfill my destiny, and to be a blessing to others.

When I was born in the spring I was so tiny. No one would have guessed I would blossom into the object of beauty I am now. People often stop and stare at me. They carry on about how gorgeous I am, and oh the smiles of wonder that light up their faces when they see me and my friends in our finery. 

It’s been such a good life. I know I’ve achieved the purpose God had for me. I’ve grown and changed a lot, with His help. In these last few days as my friends have been leaving me, one after the other, I’ve had a chance to reflect. 

I remember that day back in the spring, before I was even here. My family looked up at my tree and thought it was dead. There was talk of chopping it down.  Thank goodness for the mother, who told her husband, “Let’s just give it a little more time before we do anything we’ll regret.” A few weeks later I peeked out, green and shiny, a sure sign my tree wasn’t a goner. Then some of my friends started popping out too.

Oh the rejoicing of the children when they saw the green leaves starting to fill in our oak tree! “Look mama! Look daddy! I told you he wasn’t dead!! He just needed more time!!” Yep, I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer.  I don’t think that is such a bad thing, as long as you bloom some time! And bloom I did, all summer long. 

The children would brush by me as they scurried up the tree, dangling from its sturdy limbs, then seeing who could climb the highest.  Then one day their daddy came out with a big rope. I was nervous! Wasn’t sure what was about to happen. He threw that big rope over the largest, strongest branch, then from a ladder tied a big knot in it. Then..do you know what he did? He tied an ugly rubber black circle to it. I thought it was just sheer tackiness.  But then, out came the children, squealing and giggling. They climbed on that strange object and swung and twirled and had the biggest smiles I had ever seen! Tacky looking or not, anything that makes those kids that happy has to be a good thing. What fun they had on it throughout the summer days, twirling, swirling, and giggling. 

On especially nice days, the mama would bring a blanket out and spread it under our limbs. They would all share a feast and then snuggle up against the big, welcoming trunk and read and read for what seemed like hours. I loved hearing those stories, each one so different and entertaining. Often the children would fall asleep, their head resting on their mother’s lap. The look of contentment on the mother’s face as she stroked their hair is an image I treasure. 

There were hard times too. In September it rained hard and the wind blew so fiercely some of our neighboring trees lost their limbs in a mighty crash. We grieved for the loss of the old timers, but they had enjoyed many days in the sunshine, and it was their time to go.
Now I’m one of the old timers, and it’s almost time for me to go. But I purposed in my heart when those limbs were lost, that I would live every day to the fullest, and bring as much beauty and joy to the world as I possibly could.  

My green started to give way to yellow and gold, then orange, and now a brilliant fiery red. Soon I will turn brown and it will be my time to fly away. Where am I going? Well, don’t you worry about me.  All my brothers and sisters and friends will gather together around our beloved tree and keep him warm this winter, protecting his roots. Then we, like everyone, will return to the earth, where we originated. 

It is a wonderful blessing to be a part of the cycle of life and beauty. When I die, I know I am laying down my life for a reason. Next spring, new baby leaves will spring forth, encouraging those who have endured a long, cold winter. They will give joy all summer long and then thrill and delight those who gaze upon them in the autumn. They too will follow in the steps of all their ancestors when it is time, and let go, their death making way for new life. 

I’ve heard that many people are afraid of dying. But you all aren’t that different from us. You are put here on earth by our Creator for a purpose. You have a limited time to do you work and accomplish what he put you here for. 

It is easy for us, but I understand that people have many different purposes and callings. But, when your time is through, just like us, you will fly away to a better place, leaving wonderful memories in the hearts of those you have inspired and delighted. The ones who love you will be sad when you go. But perhaps in the spring, or the summer, a new life will come forth, and your friends and family will think of you and smile. They will remember your true colors and all the joy you gave them. That is what I hope for myself, and my wish for you. 

Well, it’s almost time. I’m so tired. I’m going to let go now, the last of my group. Winter is here. But don’t be sad for me, and don’t be sad for yourself. Winter is necessary and a part of life.  So is death.  

I am told that it is only when someone or something you love is gone, that you can truly appreciate it. That sounds very wrong to me. I think you should appreciate it now, while it is still alive and you can make your feelings known.  But then, I am just a leaf. You will have to decide that for yourself.  

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself."
-  William Blake, 1799, The Letters


Friday, November 5, 2010

My Life In Toy Story Movies

My Life In Toy Story Movies


When Toy Story came out in 1995 I couldn't wait to see it! I was a newlywed, happy and in love with my husband, Travis, and we went to see it at the theater. Yeah that's right! We used to go on dates to Disney movies! I think I coerced him, but I have sat through many a boring, violent man movie with him, so he totally owed me! He loved it though. Who wouldn't? It was an adorable, heartwarming story of friendship and kindness.

So, five years later when Toy Story 2 came out, of course, we couldn't wait to go and see it as well!! By this time, we had a son who was almost three and a set of six-month-old twins. A lot can happen in five years!

The thing I remember most is how my little boy Jake absolutely adored this movie and especially Buzz Lightyear. His birthday rolled around in early January and he got all manner of Toy Story gifts, one of the coolest being an actual remote control model of the RC car that Woody drove in the movie, and of course a big talking Buzz!

The next several years he watched the videos of Toy Story 1 and 2 over and over and over again and his Buzz Lightyear collection grew. Anytime we were at a garage sale we always seemed to find Buzz toys for him and Woody stuff for me. (I dig cowboys! And Tom Hanks!)

Well we thought that was the end of it...I mean how could they ever improve on the sequel? But here we are, now ten years later, and today I just bought us a DVD of Toy Story 3.

Jake is now almost 14 and our twins, Sophie and Jesse are 11. They all screamed like little kids when they saw I had brought home the DVD tonight! They wanted to watch it right away of course, but Toy Story movies are special. You don't just pop em in and casually watch them. "Oooh nooo..." I told them. "We will be waiting till Dad gets home (he is working out of town) and making an event out of the viewing of it!" It is the ultimate family movie night DVD...especially considering all of our adoration of the other films.

Few movie franchises have been as excellent as the Toy Story series. They are well made, full of heart and fun and laughs, and guaranteed to make the most grouchy person smile. They touch a special place in our hearts about growing up and the magic of childhood, and how quickly it goes by.

I have not seen the third movie yet...did not make it to the theater for it this time, but I understand that Andy is all grown up now, much like my Jake.

Well time marches on, but it is fun every once in a while to take a look back and just remember where you were at a certain point in your life. Movies and songs are both like that for me.

Songs especially can sweep you up and put you right back in that moment where you were when you first heard it. After watching the trailer above I realized my kids also grew up with these toys. It is sweet, but somehow it still makes me want to cry a little. Maybe it is the Randy Newman song...he really knows how to strum the heart strings. Anyway...

Thank you Disney and Pixar. Thank you Woody and Buzz, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Ham, and Rex. We have loved and enjoyed these movies for 15 years. And even though I haven't seen Toy Story 3 yet, I can almost guarantee I will give it two hardy thumbs up. Just like I give the last 15 years of my life. During this season of gratitude, I am so thankful for my own happy ending.

"Thanks be to GOD for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV