Some weeks ago, I posted about my home town having a heritage from a country in Europe. Europeans happen to look a lot like I do. But my neighbors in Ennis, Texas also come from other countries, and wear skin that varies from pale to dark, and has all sorts of hue variations.
Thanks to my friend Gavin for sharing with me his thoughts about how we, as humans, describe each other. He loved me enough to have that conversation, but the deeper truth, in my humble opinion, came from the mouth of his younger brother, Gabriel.
One of my neighbors told a heartbreaking story on Friday before last, and it inspired this post. She has a store in town. I shop there. Because of her dark skin, she was treated unkindly at her boutique, which operates to benefit women escaping abuse in our area. This neighbor reported to me she doesn’t think the insensitive person actually lives in our town, but was possibly visiting. Knowing what happened to this faith-filled woman felt like a punch to the gut, and froze my words, so I’ll end soon.
I want to say that I love my neighbors, but this is not because I’m somehow good. In fact, I’m not. I do, however, believe God gives me this love. But I’ve been wrong before.
I’ll finish with more glimpses of our town and our citizens. These photos were taken recently at our Blues on Main festival. May it grow into the scope of our Bohemian Super Bowl someday.
A recent post of mine mentions a counselor’s six words, which formed this fateful declaration:
Your biggest problem is at home.
My counselor and I were out of time for that day, and our primary assignment was a church issue, anyway.
Emoticons aside, I knew we had problems at home. I just didn’t see them clearly, or attach the proper importance to them. And to further complicate things, I can be my own worst enemy, not to mention everyone else’s.
Since my miracle nearly two decades ago, I focused on relating to Jesus, and dealing with my personal issues, one-on-one. After all, I can’t change anyone else, and why would I want to? In my spiritual relationship, I found peace and joy in difficult circumstances. Although I didn’t walk in this state perfectly, it was enough, it filled my empty spots, and I didn’t want to look anywhere else, or at any other person.
Trust me, I had lots to repair, and I still do.
Then came last summer.
Halfway through the year I named Forward, something happened. This event occurred six weeks prior to my youngest child turning 21, and it drop kicked me into speaking out. Since my policy is to protect myself in a bubble, I absolutely did not want to be any sort of messenger. Truthfully, I hate pain, and I certainly don’t want to do the right thing if there is a price to be paid. 🙄
At this juncture, it was rubber-meets-road. What would I actually do, or say, if God asked? What would I stick with Him through? What was on the altar? I dug in my heels, shaking my head, saying, “No, God. Don’t ask that, God. Please, don’t ask for that.” And then, He patiently asked for seemingly all of the things, one by one.
Eventually, after shock, pouting, arguing, grief, self-righteousness, selfishness, pride, tug-of-war, and other ugly things, I raised a trembling hand, and said yes. I don’t know why, because I’m not strong. I’m not special, and I’m not a hero. I am, in fact, a mess.
I’ll stop there. You’re welcome.
I think that everyone, no matter who they are, has problems. I care about that. And I hope you press on, my friends. 🙇♀️
“Everybody feels a little crazy, but we go on living with it. Yeah, they go on living with it.”
My hometown of Ennis hosts a national polka festival each year in May. The title above stood proudly in large letters in a neighbor’s yard on Thursday before the celebration kicked off. I know, because I posted a video of the sign to my Instagram story. Shortly thereafter, the owners switched things up, as they are wont to do. After the swap, their alphabet spelled Hobos and Beer.
Ennis boasts a large percentage of people with Czechoslovakian ancestry, and this is where our party finds its roots. I am not Czech, and I do not drink beer, but I do bloom where I am planted. Polka Fest is part of who we are as a community. It is certainly part of our history.
As a young girl growing up in Ennis, Olga Korbut was my hero. I fully intended to go to the Olympics to compete in gymnastics. To celebrate my dreams, my grandfather found local classes for me at the Ennis Sokol hall. I threw myself into my practice, and advanced quickly. It was a blast.
Our competitions were called Slets, and we went as far as Chicago to take part, with my faithful Papa always in tow. After every Slet, a dance was held. Although the gymnasts were mostly children, we danced. And danced.
A girl could not chatter on the sidelines for long before a fellow student, equally young, ran over and snatched her out onto the dance floor for yet another round. We learned to waltz, and did a version of the shottische. We wagged our elbows to the Chicken Dance, threw in a Cotton-Eyed Joe or two, and several kinds of polka. I never realized how good at this I got. But I twirled at dizzying speeds, and even added a hop at the end of each polka count at the instruction of my partner. If my sidekick-of-the-moment didn’t hold me tightly enough around the waist, and constantly adjust his grip, I could spin off and wreck a table of bystanders. I definitely broke a sweat, and thankfully, all observers remained safe.
From those same Sokol days, I can still warble an entire verse of a Czech song, although I have no idea what the words mean. I scarfed down serving after serving of klobase and sauerkraut, gobbled many a kolach, and shook my head at the goodness of multiple mounds of buttered, parsleyed new potatoes and neat slices of apple strudel, all made lovingly, by hand.
My younger brother, although not at all Czech, occasionally blows a mean trumpet in a polka band to this day, due to the influence of his Czech school buddy. He sings the accompaniments in Czech.
More than anything, all of this was just plain fun. The memories are good.
In high school, wedding and festival dances held at the Czech halls of Ennis were social events. I met my non-Czech husband at one such dance, while attending with my father. My future husband was later in the wedding party of a friend, and I was his plus one to that Czech celebration. His friend married a young woman whose sister later became the wife of my trumpet-playing brother, at yes, another Czech wedding, complete with a dance. On reception prep day, I watched in awe as the Czech grandmothers arrived, clutching turkey feathers, which they used to brush the pastry dough with melted butter.
Today, this sister-in-law is my friend, as well as my relative. At Polka Fest a few years ago, she and I tore up that well-worn, wooden dance floor while my brother (her husband) was playing in the polka band, all to the amazement of my cousins visiting from out of town and state.
And so it goes. Threads in a tapestry.
At age 59, as I attend my umpteenth polka festival, I peer out from a different perspective. Those older days are gone, and I am changed, to say the least, by recent events. At times, such as yesterday, as I watched the parade wind through town, I feel a somewhat melancholy disconnect from Ennis, even though I still appreciate it, and walk its streets. But oddly, it’s all okay.
I wish I could explain that irony in a way that readers could understand, but I can’t.
So instead, I will finish with a few glimpses of our local color. Here is the sign I referenced at the beginning of this post, and a polka song that I remember circling the dance floor to, as a wide-eyed gymnast with Olympic glory in her sights. And finally, a view at the local duck park, as it’s called, from my evening walk.
In murky moments of my recent trek, this song whispered encouragement to me:
About three weeks ago, a friend prayed for me, asking that when things get dicey, God would be my defense. It was a sweet moment. As she prayed, I thought of how Defender, by UpperRoom once gave me a hug.
Music can be powerful.
Although I will be working out peripheral issues for some time, I am out of much of the darkness and confusion that surrounded a traumaticevent in my life last summer. As Lauren Daigle sings the words to Rescue, to most of them, I can now say, “I know.”
All praise to You, God Almighty.
Some of the lyrics to Rescue represent words I blurted to the cosmos, and whispered to God during this process. I know that I was heard by my Living King. The unspeakable goodness of that leaves me speechless.
I love You, Lord.
Sometimes, when I reference music, a theologian might point out problems with the artist’s work, or church affiliation. I don’t have knowledge or answers in this area, and these are people whom I like and want to continue relating to. So #respect to them, because perhaps they are correct. 🙇♀️
The lyrics to Rescue include these:
It’s true. I will rescue you.
As I sit outside of a favorite coffee shop, slurping what is left of a mostly spilled latte’, I hope these lyrics are honestly, in reality, accurate.
How have I missed all this glory in the past? I’ve always said I wanted to live somewhere with four seasons. All are here, in my area of Texas, and they’re splendid, however short some may be. I just needed to take time to notice.
A favorite haunt of mine these days in the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Thanks to a recommendation from my brother, I purchased a season pass as part of my birthday gift to myself last October. My 59th milestone fell at a difficult time, and strolling those paths was like balm. It still is, whenever I can sneak an hour away.
So much happened, and still happens, shutter speed fast, in a strange journey that started last summer, and really, long before. I can’t keep up with my own, scattered notes. But God is so, so good. Words seldom fail me, but here, they do. He is simply, magnificently, astonishingly, breathtakingly, awesome (oh, feeble words), and He never leaves me or lets me down. I trust Him, and I move forward, one simple, tiny step at a time.
Breathing it all in today, even if it’s only for a day, I’m going slowly. I’m worshipping, I’m noticing, I’m smiling, and I’m sighing in relief. I’m counting my gifts, and I’m playing these songs, among others. And they’re just about perfect.
…it just hit me, although I’ve been in flux ever since the college son told me he was a fan of George Jones and such these days. You see, I thought we had similar tastes in music.
Say it isn’t so, Tim!
It was so.
I gave He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today a quick listen, just to say I did, just to stretch myself, and out of respect for my beloved son. But, #country. 🤦♀️
I moved on from the shock quickly, and this was days ago.
And then, this morning, from somewhere in the dusty, recesses of my mind, floated forward these lyrics:
He stopped lovin’ her today. They placed a wreath upon his door. Then they carried him away. ‘Cause he stopped lovin’ her today.
(memories from the car rides)
You see, I may be mis-quoting those, but I’m close. There was a day, as a young woman, when I worked at an office in Dallas, and I carpooled with my beloved Carol, not to mention other fun, interesting ladies, such as my Aunt Barbara, and my kinda-Aunt Earlene. Those gals loved their country music.
Goodness, I think we thumped along to All My Exes Live In Texas, and Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On, among other classics. From my corner in the back, I let my head fall behind onto the seat so that they didn’t see my eyes rolling. And then I squeezed them shut, but the sound just wouldn’t go away.
Needless to say, I was not a fan of country music.
But I was a fan of the people in that car. I loved and respected them them then, and I love and respect them now. So, I listened. And my grimace turned into a smile, and eventually, into a laugh. I’m glad.
So, okay. I just arrived. 🙋♀️ He stopped loving her because he died. And that’s kind of cool.
Below are a sampling of the songs I mentioned, and the college son’s suggestions. I like to give artists credit for their work. All things said, these songs will not be going on my playlist,although they will be stuck in my mind today. I can start remedying that tomorrow.
Whoa, wait, let’s just start that brain fix now. In my search for the first You Tube to post here, I literally stumbled, thanks to the snooping the inter webs do, onto Taylor Swift’s new music video, ME. It is strangelyappropriate to end with here, so I do. If readers have followed for long, they understand. Well, ish.