Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Winter Cabin





The Winter Cabin

By: Kelli J Gavin

For: Writers Unite!

Picture Story Prompt


  Understanding that he was upset with me yet again, I knew to just leave him alone. Whenever we disagreed, he wasn’t up for a fight. I appreciated the fact that he had lost his will to argue and walked away. I was worn out and did not possess an ounce of the energy it takes to engage with him. 


  Jonathan may be the smartest, most articulate man I have ever met. He graduated with honors in three years and then went on to receive two doctorates in the following four years. When he began to mansplain a simple concept, I sarcastically addressed him as “Dr. Jonathan” so that he would cease such obnoxious behavior. When he persisted, I reminded him that all of those degrees were absolutely not granted in the fields of common sense or how to pick up on social cues. 


  Wondering how long he would be out on the ice again, I knew that I needed to find something to keep me busy. After picking up two or three discarded books, I walked back to the picture window at the front of the cabin. This cabin that I adore has been in my family for as long as I can remember. Because we both didn’t mind the winter chill, we tended to be the only family members that planned multiple excursions up to northern Minnesota and the Gunflint Trail each winter. Enjoying the fact that we didn’t have to compete for space with my siblings or parents, we usually spread out throughout the cabin and sometimes even slept in separate rooms. Piling the beds with warm quilts and lighting a fire in both fireplaces helped keep us comfortable during our long weekend stays. 


  How was someone so tall and strong, so elegant? The way he crossed leg over leg, and glided in a perfectly straight line for such a long distance, made me believe he would, at some point, just keep skating away from me. When he grimaced to himself mid conversation and then said something like, “Let’s take a break” or “I’ll be back soon”, I knew that he would soon bundle himself up in every warm winter clothing item he brought with us and grab a hat, mittens and scarf from the basket by the front door. His too big parka zipped to his chin, he exited with his skates over his shoulder. He liked the bench to the left of where the dock normally resides in the summer. I had never been sure why he gravitated to that bench, but when he sat and methodically removed his tall winter boots and began to put on his skates is when my breathing had usually returned to an expected and normal rhythm. 


  I had always loved Jonathan. Since the moment we met. But I believe our love had changed somehow, even evolved into more of a comfortable companionship and mutual admiration rather than burning desire. I am sad to say that I enjoyed his silent companionship more than anything. When we played cards, watched a movie together or even read in the living room. Conversation wasn’t required. We may have looked at each other fondly while together, but neither of us felt compelled to speak anymore. He always kissed me each morning, when he returned from work and at night before bed, but that may have been the only times he touched me, and I was okay with this. 


  As I watched him step carefully onto the ice, he did a few gentle glides and then furiously began his endless cycle of crazy eights. Over and over again. I began to wonder if he ever became dizzy from his repetitive paths. If he did, he didn’t show it. Clapping his hands over his head a few times, I understood he was trying to warm himself up and increase the blood flow in his arms and hands. His movements were so predictable, I realized that his predictability is what calmed me. Yet annoyed me all the same.


  When Jonathan came in from the ice, he was silent, as expected. I had prepared a simple lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and apples. He smiled at my own predictability displayed on the small table in the kitchen. As he stowed his hat, mittens and scarf and removed his boots on the mat to catch the melting snow chunks, he looked at me, but said nothing. He never broke eye contact as he hung up his parka on one of the many hooks haphazardly nailed to the wall by the door. 


  When he walked to the kitchen to meet me, he sat and we proceeded to eat in silence. He didn’t even attempt to make a connection, but then neither did I. Five years together and this is what we had come to. Silence while eating grilled cheese and tomato soup at the table in the cabin’s kitchen. 


  “I am going to say something that neither of us want to hear or say. I love you, but I am no longer in love with you. I think you feel the same. I think we need to take a break. I have located an apartment and taken out a 3-6 month flexible lease. I can move in when we get home. I think we should use this time to decide what is next for both of us.” Jonathan calmly explained.


  I didn’t cry. Not one tear. I reached out and touched his hand before I was ready to speak. Staring at my soup, a rush of emotion flooded me. It was a relief. It was the feeling of hope. It was a release from all the worry. It was needed.


  “Thank you. For making this decision for us. To be honest, I don’t think I could have done it. But thank you for knowing that we need to do this. Thank you for enabling both of us to take the needed next step in our own lives.” 


  Jonathan held my hand firmly and then pulled it to lips and kissed it. “I respect you and myself enough to know that we can’t keep doing this. This silence, this walking on eggshells. And also, there aren’t any great skating ponds back home. I need to skate when I am frustrated. Where am I going to skate back home if we were to stay together?”


  I began to laugh. Not just a giggle, but full on laughter. The tears came quickly as Jonathan began laughing. I was so thankful at that very moment for his awkward sense of humor. Laughing while parting ways wasn’t something that I ever expected to happen. 


  We laughed a bit more together as we chatted and finished our lunch. It registered to me that this was the last time we would be at the cabin together. And I was okay with it. We began to pack up our belongings and pick up around the cabin knowing we would be returning home a day early. I wasn’t concerned about what Jonathan would think, but as he drove, I reached out and held his hand for the better part of our drive back to Minneapolis. I knew it was the last time we would hold hands. 


  Now, ten months out, things are so much better. I enjoy my work again, I have made new friends and I joined a women’s art co-op. I am excited to spend this time with my family at the cabin this winter. When my brother’s kids run amuck, I won’t be overwhelmed and wish I hadn’t come the same weekend, but will welcome the chaos and all that comes with it. My parents were so glad I agreed to a family getaway weekend and even came a day early to prepare the winter cabin and make sure the refrigerator was full to welcome all the hungry mouths that would need to be fed. I am thankful for my family, for the cabin and for blustery winters which bring a thick sheet of ice to the lake. I am also thankful for my mistaken sightings of Jonathan skating his repetitive crazy eights. I know he isn’t there, but I will always love the memories of when he was. 



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

There Is Hope




 On October 29th, shortly after 9 p.m., I had a freak accident in my home. Slipping on water as I entered the bathroom, my leg folded underneath and behind me as I crashed to the floor. I instantly knew my leg was broken, as they were never intended to bend in that direction. I started screaming immediately not only from pain, but also fear set in. I couldn't believe what had happened in a blink of an eye. I summoned the courage to roll and get my bent leg out from underneath me. My family came running towards my screams and entered the bathroom just as I was lifting my leg and placing it on the floor.  

All that followed was horrible. An entire night in the ER because a bed wasn't available.  4 mega doses of narcotics and the pain was so intense, I questioned if anything had been administered. Poor communication among nurses, doctors and x-ray techs. No one really knew what had been communicated to me.  Information was communicated incorrectly. And I was still writhing in pain for nearly 8 hours. I wanted to go home and attempt to sleep in my own bed.

With an immobilization brace that stretches the entire length of my left leg, I have been instructed to not bear weight even if I can, to always use my crutches, conserve my strength and focus on swelling reduction and healing. All of this without pain meds due to GI issues and the fact that they rarely help me.

Last Wednesday, I saw the Orthopedic Specialist and was thrilled to find out that my tibia plateau fracture is broken with a indentation next to it rather than broken with shattered bone. Shattered bone would mean surgery with two long pins and a plate that would stay in my leg forever. Indentation of the bone means no weight, immobile, tons of rest and hopefully slowly transitioning to a hinged brace by 6-8 weeks and hopefully off crutches by 12 weeks with a hinged brace and then I would begin physical therapy. Yes, arthritis will set in. Yes, I will need a knee replacement in the future. But not now.  When I questioned the Orthopedic Specialist about how many patients spend these next 6-8 weeks and don't improve significantly and then he ends up having to do surgery anyway. He explained it has never happened and he wouldn't make the recommendation to avoid surgery now if it wouldn't benefit me in the long run. And he heard me when I said I need to get myself back to a point where I can take two walks a day with my dog swim whenever I want. 

So what do I do now until I see the specialist again on the 17th of November? Exactly what he said. Nothing. I move from couch to bed to chair and back again.  I am not a patient patient. I hate sitting and laying all day when I see so many things that need to be taken care of. Being completely helpless is completely humbling. 

I unfortunately have also developed a severe allergic reaction to something and my body is covered in hives. It makes me miserable and am dealing with itchy, burning skin and and many bloody sores. I look like a pin cushion and have tried every over the counter and prescription med under the sun. Two more meds were called in today to the pharmacy from a TeleMed Doctor. It is painful, disheartening and frustrating as the broken leg was already more than I can handle. 

But what have I discovered in the throes of misery? Kindness, beautiful servant hearts and that my local community is ready to serve others at a moment's notice. Jessica started a meal train and countless friends have signed up to bring meals into the month of December. Dawn brought me a desperately needed wheelchair.  Sharon and Emily have come to my home midday for the last 6 weekdays to care for me. Cassie has come every day for the last 6 weekdays to let my dog outside at 10 a.m. Michele jumped out of her car to walk with Josh and I on my first walk this past Sunday in the wheelchair. Alice asked me about my favorite foods from Trader Joes. And Jennifer picked up grocery essentials. Each of these dear people helped me and I am eternally grateful.

Was this all by chance? No. Never. It was orchestrated by a God who cares about the details. He cares about dogs needing to go outside. He cares about loneliness setting in and sending friends at the right time. He cares about nourishment and blessing a family when everything seems to be too much. And He cares about physical safety and provides help to walk on stairs and move pillows and adjust painful brace straps. God cares about each and every detail, because he loves and cares for us. He enables people to bless someone during their time of need.

While I am so grateful, I hope to also encourage you as the reader. If you are ever given the opportunity to help someone in need, do it. Without hesitation. Make that meal, hold someone's hand and pray with them, help with children and car rides. Be the one that selflessly fills in the gaps. 

I have a long road ahead of me, but I am so happy to know that help is there. My needs are great. I can not shower or dress on my own and I can't reach all of my wounds which need medication and bandages applied. But I also know that these needs will not always be present. And I look forward to a day when the pain is less, I am more mobile and everyday life becomes a bit less challenging. I am hopeful as I know how faithful God has been and will always be.

  • Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Some Assembly Required

 


  The Minnesota State Fair is in full swing. Our family is excited to attend this Thursday. Covid-19 made life come to a complete standstill. One of the events that was cancelled last year was the fair. Most people would understand that it was essential that the fair was canceled along with so many other activities. As a parent of a special needs young man, the fair cancelation was one of the hardest things for me to explain to our son.  Every summer, our son looks forward to four main activities. A destination vacation with our friends, a trip to the cabin, a long weekend at Madden's and a day well spent at The Minnesota State Fair. Zach has been tuning in to the local news daily and watching intently as the Great Minnesota Get Back Together took shape.

  Zach yelled to me early last week from the living room. I came hustling up from the laundry room in the basement and found Zach standing face to face in front of the T.V. smiling ear to ear. He pushed play on the Tivo remote and there was a story about the assembly of the Ferris wheel at fair.  Zach exclaimed, "Wait a minute! Where did it go? Where is the Ferris wheel?"

  "Zach, some of the rides aren't at the fair all year long. When they close down when the fair is done, they take some of the rides down. The Ferris wheel needs to put together so that you can ride it next week." I attempted to explain to him.

  "Some assembly is required." Zach responded. 

  I was shell shocked. How did he know what that meant? I was so confused. I asked him to hand me the remote and I pushed rewind for about a minute back in the story. Sure enough, one of the news anchors stated, "Some assembly is required on most rides at The Minnesota State Fair...."

  My amazing son was able to grasp a concept that he may have not heard before and then articulate it appropriately to describe what we were seeing on the T.V..

  His beautiful mind is an amazing thing to witness. Zach may not understand everything, he may not be able to talk about everything, but he takes pride in the new things he learns each and every day. 

  The statement- Some Assembly Required- stayed with me for the next few days. We have been working a lot in our home, and have found so many things that require assembly. Shelves, curtain rods, furniture. The list is endless. Things are purchased, assembled and replaced. 

  I thought of all that we encounter in life that comes in pieces. Usually people. Broken, busted edges, wounded from life, from prior relationships, depleted and even diminished people who struggle even with the concept of unrealized dreams. Not sure where to go, what to do first, or even how to take the first step forward, many of the people are discovered by others when they are in such a state. And sometimes, that broken person is actually us.  

 It isn't our job to fix anyone. We aren't the ones that can do it. To pick up the pieces they have toted along with them.  We can love them, we can encourage them and we can be the light when darkness seems to take over. But we can't fix. Sometimes leading by example and modeling what taking the next step looks like is essential. Even showing why when life presses in, doing the next best thing is of the utmost importance. But not fix. 

  But what do we do when we are the broken one? The one that hurts, and grieves and mourns, the one that feels aimless and just needs something, anything to change? Often, time heals. Piece by piece is restored and placed back appropriately. A factory reset per se. The assembly required is essential and necessary. 

  Life has been challenging for me during Covid, this summer, and these past few weeks seem to have provided food for fodder. I know what it feels like to be dismantled, but I also know what it feels like to built up. Restored and stronger than I was to begin with. I sit with wise counsel, I am encouraged and prayed for, I am loved and able to hear and apply truth. 

  The assembly required in me has made me hopeful. It has enabled me to take a step forward into these fall months not only ready, but excited for what is next.  

  When I see the Ferris wheel at The Minnesota State Fair this Thursday, I think I will appreciate it more than I ever have. Yes, I find a story to share in just about everything. But now I understand how important it is to accept that some assembly is required. The outcome is worth it. Every time. 





Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Happy Birthday, Mom




Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. She passed away at the young age of 67. Liver Cancer was the diagnosis and it claimed her in just a few short months. I say the diagnosis and not her diagnosis for a reason. A diagnosis is defined as “The process of identifying a disease, condition, or injury from its signs and symptoms”. My mom didn’t have any signs or symptoms of the Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma (Cancer of the Liver Bile Ducts). There weren’t symptoms to help diagnose. It was a fluke discovery when something was picked up on a blood test. Additional tests were run to figure out what was so confusing on the blood tests. She was given a diagnosis that was unheard of. At least we thought so. Stage 4, radiation and chemo wouldn’t help as it may cause more harm than good, surgery was impossible and the goal would be to make her as comfortable as possible focusing on Palliative Care in her final months. Months. They gave her only months. This diagnosis was confusing and hard to accept for my sister and I. Our mom smiled and held our hands and said she was always ready to meet Jesus. 


When you look at someone who possessed as much pep and joy as my mom did, Cancer didn’t fit into that picture of who she was. There was no room. She had someone who needed help, a phone call with words of encouragement that needed to be made, a plant for a friend that needed to be watered. She had bread that needed to be baked as a gift and pretzels and chocolates that needed to be made and packed for the next wedding reception that she would attend. Cancer simply needed to take a number and get in line. Because our mom didn't ask for it, didn’t need it, and had places to go and people to see.


I reminded her that to be absent from the body meant she would be in the presence of her King. She smiled and patted my hand and drifted back to sleep. Our mom loved deeply right up until her final moments here on this earth. She prayed for others, held other people’s hands and made sure that everyone knew they were loved and she was thankful for them. She was ready to be in the presence of her Savior. 


Today, I miss my mom, but the joy that sweeps over me when I know she isn’t in any pain, and she is where she was ready to be. I will always miss her. That will never change. But today, I have shed only a few tears remembering her. I walked a back alley in Minneapolis this afternoon on the way to a client’s home and thought how if she were to be walking with me, she would have noted how pretty the grass was growing in each crack. She would have pointed out the overgrown trees and how she loved the wood-paneled Datsun sitting in a driveway. She would have talked about all the things she saw and what she was thinking about. She surely would have spoken about Jesus. Because how could she ever contain and not talk about the Love that she has for the lover of her soul?


Happy Birthday, Mom. You are missed, you are treasured and I take joy today in remembering you.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

When the Smoke Fades




I know it is just a bit of break, but today in Minnesota, we could see the sun. The blue sky and the clouds look prettier than ever before. I know that it won't last, but the beauty was welcomed today.

Minnesota is experiencing thick smoke and severe air quality alerts daily due to the epic amount of fires near the Canadian border. For days, we have left our car windows closed and prayed we could get enough fresh air in our homes. We cough the second we go outside and know that our clothing can not be worn again without washing it first because of the strong smokey smell. 

Sometime after midnight tonight, another wave of extreme smoke will arrive and drive us indoors until late Tuesday, possibly Wednesday. We made the most of today know that Wednesday of this week will be the soonest extended outdoor activity is deemed as safe for those with asthma and allergy issues. 

This evening after dinner and a few rounds of cards, Zach, Josh, Murray and I headed out for a walk. I didn't think I would be able to go the full circle since I have been nursing a bad ankle and knee. But I found that stretching my limbs out was exactly what I needed to feel better. 

And it wasn't just my knee and ankle that felt better, my heart seemed mended a bit more also. To see my son walk Murray with Josh's direction and encouragement is something I could watch all day. Josh is so patient and kind and uses constant affirmation and reminders to help Zach as he is learning how to keep Murray walking and responsive the whole way. I allowed myself to fall back and watch my three boys enjoying an evening walk on a beautiful 80 degree day. 

When the smoke fades a bit, I see it all so clearly. Some days are challenging, some a bit easier like today. And the days that are challenging, I will remember this evening and savor it. I will remember that not all days are good days, but there is always something good that can be found in each day. 

Today, the goodness is treasured. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Miserable Cows and Disgruntled Pelicans

    


    


My children have decided to make it as difficult for me as possible each and every day. Well, not really.  But they complain about everything. And I mean everything. They start in just as their eyes open when sunlight enters their bedrooms, and sometimes they do not cease complaining until sleep overtakes them each night. At this point in the summer, I firmly believe that they may master a way of complaining while they actually sleep if possible. The sun, the heat, the bugs, chores, being told no, chores again, the heat, mom having to go to work, not being able to entertain themselves, the list goes on and on. You would think that with a summer curriculum and suggested reading, a swimming pool, bikes and scooters, chores and media time, that their days would be so compressed and full, that they would simply run out time and the ability to complain. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

    Most of their complaints can be easily solved.  Get out of the sun, remember deodorant, bring a water bottle.  Or - go in the house, grab the bug spray, go for a swim.  Here is a popsicle, I am making your favorite dinner, here are your clean clothes. I feel like these are the things that easily solve my every day woes.  I am overheated and need to get out of the sun. I make a habit of wearing deodorant daily as to remain as comfortable as possible in the heat. I always pack a water bottle, if not two. When I am too warm, I go back inside to the air conditioning. When the bugs are retched, I locate the bug spray. When the heat threatens to overtake me or I need to relax, the pool will always call my name.  When I need a little sugar boost in the late afternoon sun, a popsicle puts a smile on my face. An excellent dinner that fills my stomach and clean clothes for the next day so I can do it all again.  These are the easy problems to solve in the heat of the summer. Why can't my children problem solve and remedy their own woes? Why must they perpetually complain and then also make it my issue? 

    It took me awhile to figure out why this bothers me so much. My children voice all of their complaints. Everything from an underwear problem to a grudge held far too long. I, as an adult, as a mom and wife, have a tendency to figure out a way to solve my own problems. And sometimes, I just bottle them up. I push them down, ignore them, stew over them, and even reach for them when I want to make sure that  other people know even if I feel mildly inconvenienced. 

    My mother always quoted from Philippians 2:14- "Do everything without complaining or grumbling." I frequently find myself reciting this verse to my children in the throes of a complaint laden day. Yes, they know it is from the bible, but the eye rolling still commences. 

    I also have asked them to stop being miserable cows and disgruntled pelicans. They already believe me to be on the ridiculous side, these comments cement that idea in their minds. 

    When I feel complaints arising within, I often remind myself of my mother's beloved verse. But it isn't my favorite. It reminds me that there is no place for my complaining and grumbling. That I need to figure out what the root issue is, deal with it, or solve the problem at hand. Stewing and throwing around scenarios in my brain over and over again only drag me down. The heft and the weight of the complaint or grievance only affect me. I can't hold on to what hurts me, what ails me, or what plagues my memory. I can't use my upset as an excuse to treat other people poorly and lash out at them. Even when my complaints and grumblings of the heart are because of things so much bigger than heat and sun and hunger, I still owe my children, my husband, and even myself more than choosing to continue to complain.  

    It is daily for me. Daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. But the joy that I ultimately feel when make the choice to not complain, is indescribable. This choice is what changes my day and even the trajectory of my life. When there is upset and hurt and my heart seems to be a mess of broken pieces and busted edges, God is always the one that hears my prayers. He bends low to hear when I can not voice the prayers that so desperately need to be spoken.  

    It really isn't as confusing as I think it is - the why my children complain. They complain because they have yet to realize that usually what they need or desire has already been provided for them. The how, the what, the information to solve their own problems. But that takes time and maturity. And until then, I will continue to remind them of what they need to do so that the minor issues of life do not seem so big each and every time they feel assailed.  And sometimes, I will just hand them a second popsicle, pull them in close and love them until things don't seem so out of control and complaint worthy.  

    No wonder my kids struggle each and every day. They are my children and they are human. Trying to solve it all on their own. I will remind them that prayer should always be the first choice. Because complaining is futile. 





Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tired Muscles and Tanned Faces

Finally, the kids have both finished school for the summer.

Zach has graduated from High School, and is excited for

summer school to start in a few weeks and Lily is relishing

the summer ahead of fun including Valley Fair, JAM Camp

and spending time with her friends. I always look forward to

summer, not only because of the warm weather and the ability

to swim every day, but because everything slows down a bit.

No longer concerned about getting up at the crack of dawn

each day to get the kids off to school and get ready for work,

I am able to rest a bit each morning, actually savor a cup of

hot coffee and put together a day that everyone will enjoy. I

am able to decrease my summer hours spent with clients

and focus more on having fun.

  

  We recently finished a bunch of home repairs and updates

including painting 1/2 of our walls, garage doors, garage trim

and shutters. We will be patient until next month and then possibly

replace the carpet on our main floor and then paint 3 of the 4

bedrooms. Later this summer, our backyard fence will be installed 

and modifications made to enable a suite creation for Zach for his

long term at home living needs. Still quite a bit to be done, but we

are thrilled to have a peaceful month or so with nothing to focus on

in our home. (We have lived here almost 19 years and these updates

are needed!)


  Both of our kids work on a summer curriculum that is only meant

to keep their minds working during the summer months. Not hours

a day, and they are both usually done in about an hour to an hour

an half. Zach's focus is usually everyday math skills and vocabulary

and Lily's is reading comprehension and math. Sure they complain

sometimes about doing work in the summer, but then there are the

days where a new concept is grasped or a conversation about a

heavy and important subject matter takes place because of the

reading that was accomplished that day. When I see my daughter's

eyes light up after having an edifying conversation and realizing she

did understand a text and is ready to write about it and put into her

own words. Those are the times I know it is worth it.

  

  But how do we spend most of our days? We walk and swim and

enjoy popsicles on the deck. We explore new trails, find new thrift

shops and tackle home projects that are long overdue. We travel to

meet friends and family and relax lakeside until the mosquitoes

drive us indoors. We enjoy s'mores from the bonfire, tending to

vegetable and flower gardens, and playing fetch with our

beloved dog, Murray. We drive ridiculous distances to try new

restaurants and pack up the golf clubs to head to the driving

range. But mostly, we enjoy being home. The pool and the deck

have become an extension of our home and we are grateful to

be able to take advantage of them.


  The part of summer that I enjoy most is spending time with friends

and family. During Covid-19, I felt as if there was a permeating sense

of loss. Loss of close friendships, the ability to see and spend time with

family and friends and go to all the places and do all the things that we

usually do during the summer months. I missed seeing people's faces

and hugging them heart to heart. This summer has already shown me

that there is so much hope on the horizon. Plans to spend time with

treasured friends. And sometimes, those plans really don't include

anything at all. Just the idea that time has been set aside to enjoy

each other's company and catch up face-to-face, thrills my heart.

Sharing a meal of delicious foods and beverages and laughing

together is something that I will never take for granted again. And

to see my children enjoying the company of their peers and acting

like children, fills this mom's heart. 


  Yes, we will all travel a bit this summer. But most of the time, you

can find us here at home or spending time with friends in the local

community. Doing the things we love. The things we have missed

doing. The things that we enjoy as a family. I pray that each of you

reading this, finds something to do this summer that you maybe

haven't done in awhile. A trek up a mountain that was once too

steep to climb. The exploration of an abandoned but never forgotten

property. Early morning fishing with grandchildren and being able to

teach each young child how to bait a hook. Rediscovering your love

of poolside reading. May we all sleep well with tired muscles and

tanned faces at the end of each summer day.



Graduation 2021


When a senior graduates from high school, conversations and congratulations occur about the awards they have won, the teams they have played on, and the scholarships that have been granted for higher education. Excited by a bright future, parents, family and friends congratulate and celebrate all that is to come. Friends circle the wagons and enjoy their last days together before a summer of jobs and planning and eventually moving on to adulthood occurs.  

But what about the students that have just barely crossed the finish line? And the students that have struggled and toiled and felt it might not happen? The students that won't be getting a job or moving on to college or additional higher education? Those graduates also deserve all of the encouragement, kindness and well wishes. 

Our 18 year old son Zach has Autism. He is graduating this week from the Autism In Motion program at his high school in Minnesota. Zach can speak, have his needs met and adores school. However, he will never drive a car, hold a typical job, go to college or marry. Zach is funny and silly, has an infectious smile, loves heart to heart hugs, his dog Murray and his family and friends.  He also loves the idea of graduating. 

Zach will continue this fall in the STAR Program for the next three years. The program focuses on job skills, on the job training, personal care, kitchen skills, social skills, communication skills, money math skills and community interactions. Zach is so excited to know that two of his graduating classmates will be seen everyday. He is sad to leave his teachers and helpers and younger friends at his school, but states, "I am getting so old", and finds graduating pretty amazing.

Zach will continue living with us as for long as possible. We are in the process of modifying our home to create a large suite for him where he can spread out and continue to grow and explore new hobbies. He is a fantastic artist and needs additional room for art supplies and paper storage and artistic creation displays. This summer, he is looking forward to playing with his dog, traveling to meet friends at Lake of the Ozarks and going to Madden's Resort to play some golf in August. He is excited to swim and go to the driving range and spend a weekend at Grandma's cabin. His summer is well planned and much anticipated. 

As his parents, we won't be preparing to pack him up and say goodbye as summer comes to a close, but we will be in full on summer fun mode. Seeking out new trails and beaches, discovering new coffee shops, running after ice cream trucks, and finding ways to stay cool in the sun as the pool beckons us numerous times each day. We will take all the small things that produce much joy and savor each moment.

Surround those kids that have IEP's. Love on the graduates who will start working full-time to help support their families. And always be at the ready to provide an encouraging word for the one that will tackle adulthood full on starting the day after they graduate. 

Congratulations to the High School Graduating Class of 2021! You have done well, and I as a parent, a friend and an advocate are so very proud of all that you have accomplished.  Well done. Well done. Well done. 




 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

4 New Journals- Available Today!

Excited to announce that the first four of seven journals that I have designed have been published by KDP and are available on Amazon today! 

 A Prayer Journal 

A Bible Study Journal 

I Have To Write It All Down- A Journal 

There Goes My Heart- A Journal 

Paperback 6x9 and designed as a paperback book rather than in a notebook format. All available just in time for Mother's Day Gifts and Year End Gifts for Teachers, Paras, Bus Drivers, etc. Thank you for your continued support. Enjoy!


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093RWX3TY/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=kelli+j+gavin&qid=1619699324&sr=8-3


 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093RP1VKZ/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=kelli+j+gavin&qid=1619699388&sr=8-5 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093RHMFP6/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=kelli+j+gavin&qid=1619699388&sr=8-6

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093RV4RY7/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=kelli+j+gavin&qid=1619699388&sr=8-4   



-copy and past into your browser

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Murray the Good Dog Loves Distance Learning



Zach is back to school 4 days a week and he participates in distance learning at home each Wednesday. Today, was his first day of DL that he has with his new dog at home. Murray knew right away that being near Zach at the dining room table would be the best place to camp out today. So when Zach sat down at 8 a.m., Murray laid right down next to him. 

Occasionally, he would rise and place his head on Zach's lap for a morning pet and lots of good boy affirmation. When Zach's first class began at 9 a.m., Zach was so excited to participate in sharing time because he knew he could talk about his new dog and show the class. 

When it was Zach's turn, his smile could have lit up the room. He spoke a bit about the things he knew were required of him and he was immediately interrupted by multiple people who desperately wanted a peak at Zach's new dog. 
Zach gingerly maneuvered his laptop towards the sleeping dog on the floor. Everyone was so excited to see the dog that Zach had raved about for the last two days. They asked questions about what breed he was, how old he is and if he is a rescue. 

To be honest, I loved every minute of it. Zach was so excited and he wasn't nervous, even when Murray woke and stuck his head in between his elbow and lap.

Zach is getting used to Murray and learning about petting with both hands, commands such as Stay and Sit, and that it is okay if he runs and plays.  What seems chaotic to Zach is normal for a dog while playing.  When he barks, Zach reminds himself that Murray is just talking. It is wonderful to see Zach learn and grow each day with his pup by his side.  Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. 

We still have a lot to work on with Murray the good boy. He pulls on the leash, he jumps at people's faces for kisses and he plays rough. Yesterday we worked on sit, lay down and drop the ball. This morning, I am so thankful for this amazing dog that has brought us all so much joy. That we waited until we found the right dog and we weren't hasty in finding one out too soon.  Because Murray is the dog for us.  

Murray the good dog is the dog for Zach.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Submission Request- Guest Editor for the April 2021 Flash Fiction Section of Setu

Call for Submissions for Setu April 2021 Flash Fiction Section I am the Guest Editor for Setu for the month of April 2021. Please submit your Flash Fiction submissions of 500 words or less. Flash fiction stories should be in English, and not include excessive language, sex, or any derogatory racial terms. The selected pieces will be featured in the April Edition of Setu and posted to the website after the first of May. No fee to submit and no pay is offered at this time. Anyone can submit and I love reading stories from new writers who have yet to be published. All submissions are due by April 15, 2021. Please also include a bio (150 words or less) prior to listing the story in the body of your email. Please do not send any attachments. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Email your submission to kelli.gavin@gmail.com. I look forward to reading your Flash Fiction stories! Thank you! Kelli J Gavin

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Eight Years Seems Like a Lifetime

Eight years seems like a lifetime. But it also seems like you were just here. Your passing becomes a bit easier each day, but it doesn't enable me to miss you any less. I still desire to talk with you, to sing with you and share a meal with you. I want to go to garage sales and thrift stores together and walk on the paved paths with the kids. There are new movies and books I know you would adore. But mostly, I just want to hold your hand. To see you smile. To spend time in the same room with you.  

Sometimes when the pain of your absence is so heavy, I have caught myself creating a story or tale that makes it just a bit easier. You are away. Maybe on a trip. To a cabin up north or even another cruise. Someplace you loved. A place that made you smile. Maybe Hawaii one last time. By pretending you are away, it helps me imagine you happy and content and creating new memories.

I will never not miss you. Even when I am old  and gray. I will still long for you to be here. But when I am old and gray, we would have more in common. By then, I may be a grandma just like you. And I know that is what you loved the most.  Being a grandma is what made you shine. Being a grandma is where you found your groove. You were the perfect example of how to love your children by loving your grandchildren well. I hope some day to carry on that role.

How thankful I am that you are no longer in pain. To be absent from the body is to be present with our King. And remembering this, makes me jealous that you are able to dwell in your eternal home. I long for heaven. I love you, mom. Always.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

My Soul Finds Rest

My heart hurts a bit today. Well, actually a lot. I have been working through something that is weighing heavy on me. It is something that I don't feel the need to share with others, but have spent so much time in prayer over it. When I was young, I used to wonder if God ever got irritated or sick of hearing that my prayers were often about the same things. As my relationship with the Lord grew, not only did I realize that He never gets sick of me or irritated with me, but bends low to hear my prayers. He cares enough to lean in and listen.

However, in that time of growth, I also learned that God wants me to pray according to His will and not my own. My prayers need to reflect the fact that God will always know what is best for me. God is able to bring Himself glory by working in and through me. I am able to bring God glory by serving Him, serving others and aligning my heart with what He loves and what His heart aches for. But also, I need to understand that what I want, and what I pray for, will not always be granted or given to me. And I should love that! Because what I want and what I pray for, isn't always good for me or what God wants for me. 

Gifts or prayers granted by God are because they are deemed necessary and given because of God's grace and mercy. I don't deserve it, but God loves me so much that He answers my prayers. He hears, and answers. 

And sometimes the answer is No or even Not Yet. I still struggle in the firm no or in the waiting. My will, wants, my own desires internally scream to get their way, yet God firmly answers prayer, quiets my restless heart and continues to tell me to Follow Him. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. He is constant and true and never changing. He is kind and gracious in His forgiveness. And when I continue to pray for what hurts or what I want and it He doesn't deem it fit or necessary, His gentle hand guides me in the direction He wishes for me to go. Not always easy or what I want, I have learned by His faithfulness to abide in Him and rest in Him as He works out everything my good and His glory. 

Will this heart hurt last forever? No. Will I continue to pray for the Lord to take it from me? Yes. But I also will pray that the Lord would satisfy the desire of my heart with something better. Not a distraction or something temporary. But something good, and pure and necessary. My soul satisfaction comes from God and God alone. He is my Rock, and my Salvation. A fortress strong, and I will not be shaken. 


My Soul Finds Rest- By: Stuart Townsend

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation;
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I'll fix my heart on righteousness,
I'll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world's temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I'll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don't set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I'll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.



Saturday, January 9, 2021

Indecipherable


When I sit down to write, whether it be an article for a newspaper, magazine or website or even a short story or poem for an anthology, I really never know what is going to find its way onto the page. Sometimes, I even surprise myself. Most times, it is crap and I end up deleting the whole thing. Other times, it strikes me as halfway decent and I know after making harsh cuts and editing that it will be a worthwhile piece that has merit and I should be proud if other people read it. 

I have also noticed that as of late, a lot of what I write, ends up being just for myself or maybe one other person. A memory of something I have been trying to process. A poem written about a day I wish I could experience again for the first time. A letter written to a friend that is meant to bring comfort and encouragement. And even an apology that should have been sent a long time ago if I hadn't been so stubborn. Finding that it happens in waves, a lot of this compulsive writing tends to pour out of me. Fast and furious and at all hours of the day. The notes app on my phone advised me that it was near full. I used three notebooks in the last three months. When notes are made in the dead of night, I write down what I think I want to say. And then by morning, my chicken scratches end up being lone words or short phrases with an indecipherable word here and there. 


The Day Luke Died

I realized days later that I was talking about Luke Perry. This story is still formulating itself in my mind as the first draft was a weird emotional tale of a man I never had the pleasure of meeting. 


M.L.

Initials without any additional information can be a dangerous thing. It took me a week to flesh this story out. Then realized that I wasn't going to ever even post it on my blog.  I shared the story with my friend Ali and she to this day has consistently teased me about it.  Proof that this story should never be shared with the masses. 


#blessed

My husband hates hashtags and he hates #blessed the most.  Not only is it overused, the meaning has been lost because of the constant use on social media platforms as a way of somehow justifying a humble brag. I wrote a short quip about obnoxious hashtags and a first year magazine used the story as a sub-story about the American Housewife and the curse of obscurity. Um. That is not what I was hoping for.


Alarm Connection

When I was young, my dad worked for 3M Alarm Corp. He would do these weird things like connect wires downstairs that would then light up something upstairs. He even figured out a way to rig the loudest alarm I have ever heard in our home. Keep in mind, we lived in the country, often left our doors unlocked and when it was really hot in the summer, we would leave the front door open with just the small latch lock on the screen door. Was the alarm necessary? No. But it was my dad's love of all things science and technology and his ability to create and fix most things on full display. When I left the house, I used to touch the wall where the alarm panel was located in the front entryway. I missed my dad after he left and moved out of state. That was my one connection to him.


Find out the names of the games-

This was a note to ask my sister about the names of the games that we had on the basement shelves when we were young. There was one with all these light and dark brown wooden beads. I don't remember if there was a board or cups that went with the game, but I remember enjoying the game. I also remember a long wooden plank with two metal rods at a slight angle that could be moved side to side.  A large metal ball rolled down the middle of the metal bars and the goal was to drop it in one of the holes below where the points totals were written. I don't remember if this was an actual game or if it was a game our dad made. A lot of my fond childhood memories revolve around playing games as a family.


Find the letters-

I found them. They were in my mom's cedar chest which is located in my bedroom. But the letters weren't where I thought they were and they didn't contain information that I needed. They made me more sad than anything else. I felt bad for my great grandmother after reading them. I did some digging online and am grateful for some history sleuths who quickly joined in my information quest to find the census records for St. Paul. But the letters still break my heart a bit. I am in the process of trying to figure out how to tell the story as it is not a personal story, but a family one that it isn't pretty or fun to share with others. But it is true and real and speaks volumes about the long lineage of triumphant women who knew about dignity, perseverance and the love of children. I will tell this story in its entirety someday.


Read all the books

About 3 weeks before my mom passed away, her speech slowed and she became more deliberate about what she wanted to talk about. She slept most of the time, wasn't really ambulatory and couldn't read or understand what was happening on the TV. One afternoon after work, I drove to see her, and arrived as she was sleeping. Her TV  was on full blast. I hit the mute button, used her bathroom and turned on some music. When I reached to touch her hand she opened her eyes and smiled.


"Ah, Kelli. I hoped to see you today. Take those books on the end table and read them. I really liked them and I think you will too." I held her hand as she drifted off. 


I read the four books. And I know exactly why it was important to her that I read those four books.  Someday I will share the truths that I found on those pages with anyone who cares to read about it. Because those truths weren't just stories or fanciful tales. They were my mom's way telling me what she needed me to know before her passing.


Zipper bags and stamps

My mom had a red zipper bag that was filled with rubber stamps and stamp pads. She rarely used them but enjoyed having them and liked to place one strategically on the back of an envelope or the bottom of a letter.  When she passed, I gave the stamps and ink to Lily. She loved having them. After using all the ink and the inexpensive stamps dried up, we disposed of them, but not until they were also well loved by Lily. Now Lily uses that red zipper bag as a large travel bathroom bag.  Every time I see her take it out from underneath her sink, I smile and think of my mom and her favorite red zipper bag.


I will always continue writing down odd duck statements that have little to no meaning when later discovered in a notebook on top the side table or in one of my many notes apps.  But I also have learned to date them, occasionally draw a picture next to them and even leave more information for future use.  The one that I finished writing tonight was a poem called No Longer Welcome. It surveys the pain of a declined text and a deletion of a phone number. My heart hurt quite a bit when it happened. But after writing about it, not only did my heart feel a bit more mended, I was able to move on from a 30 relationship and know that it will all be fine in the end. Because there will always be something new and important that nudges at me until I write it down.







Not If, But When

  Yesterday in Texas, another school shooting took place. The word another wasn't placed in the prior  sentence as an afterthought. It w...