In My Camper, Along the River

Journal Entry for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It’s amazing to think of what my life is now and of my journey to get to this point. Here I am in a beautiful camper sitting along the Mississippi River watching the swift current as I bask in the lovely warm sun and drink tea from a handmade mug from my favorite spot in Florida.

I remember being in the throes of motherhood – dishes, diapers, runny noses, dirty floors, constant school work to grade, mounds of laundry- all the while feeling ill and wondering if I would ever get through. There were joy-filled moments, but because of my illnesses, I was often depressed and just hanging on. My being was filled with unexpressed creativity with no time to release it. I saw people travel to interesting places, but we always visited family, not only because we wanted to see them, but also because it was affordable. In my spare moments, I escaped through Christian novels to things new and exotic. The older mothers told me to cherish those times because they go so quickly and you long for them later. I really thought I might drown in overwhelming exhaustion before I would get to that point.

But here I am. My beautiful, energetic boys have grown to handsome, successful men. They have grown and flown. Our nest is empty. I admit to having struggled for a time without my boys. And still at times missing them startles me with sudden waves of pain. I have, however, made it through the mid life transition. I almost felt like I had to free myself of “the homeschool mom” mentality by getting rid of all our homeschooling materials and the bookcase after bookcase filled with books. And ultimately, I needed to sell the house in order to move on. I couldn’t figure out who I was in that house without homeschooling. And the boys I had trained to clean it weren’t there to help anymore! Lol.

So the books have found new homes. The home has found new occupants. And I have found a new identity: Traveling Artist. Creativity has always wanted to pour from within me. And new places have beckoned me to “come, explore.” So, here I am in my camper, watching the barges traverse the rapid waters and clinging to God in this new phase of life. The life after little kids. The life that doesn’t seem to have quite as much purpose as raising the next generation, and yet is filled with time. Time to rest and rejuvenate. Time to heal my body. Time to meet people, look them in the eye and listen to their stories. Time to see my husband as more than a life-line that shows up after a day away at work when I am at my rope’s end. Time to learn how to reign in my thoughts and enter in to joy.

And time to draw ever closer to the one who made me to be the creative person that I am – my Father – THE Creator and Lover of my soul. He has blessed. There is Hope. There is Joy. I will enter in. I will embrace this new phase of life and live it with abandon, with the excited expectation of God using me again, even if my life is so very different than it was or even than other women my age. And that’s okay. I am right where I am supposed to be. Along the river. In my camper.

10 Things I Have Learned From My Flower Garden

  1. Don’t trust other gardeners. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the yellow flowers my mom gave me, assuring me that they grow easily. They are beautiful, cheerful and lush. They are also TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL! I’ve had flowers given to me by other gardeners too. They are always given by lovely ladies with a big smile. But you need to watch out for the twinkle in their eyes meaning that actually they are giving you flowers that they want OUT OF THEIR GARDENS! Okay. Not really. I know my friends were only trying to help me get started. Just think twice when they offer you something that “won’t fail to grow.”

    This is my garden after being away for 2 months

    This is my garden after being away for 2 months

  2. Be ruthless. You know those lovely yellow flowers? Yep, I have to pull a LOT every year. It seems so awful to pull out gorgeous plants of cheer. But if I didn’t, they would choke out all the other pretty things that I’ve planted, especially those that I paid money for. Those plants never seem to grow easily or just take off. Hmmm… there must be a lesson there. Oh, and mint! Think twice before you start an herb garden. Those, too, seem to love growing in my garden. At least they smell yummy as I pull them… all summer.Butterfly in my garden
  3. Know when to stop planting. Okay, I haven’t learned this one yet. But it seems like a rule I may need to apply in the near future. It’s just difficult while walking around the gorgeous nursery in my home town. All those amazingly beautiful flowers calling my name…Butterfly in my garden
  4. Plants grow at different heights. My plants seem to grow much taller than what I’m told they’ll do. Are they trying to keep up with me? Do I exude height to my plants? Lol. I read the labels and listen to those grinning gardeners that give me plants. But, oy! My garden is simply not laid out as I envisioned. This leads to #5.Butterfly in my garden
  5. Decide if you want a manicured look or an artistic look. Yes, that’s what I’ll call it, artistic. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in our household. I love things to be artistic, asymmetrical and homey (also known as a bit out of control). But the other person in the house, who won’t be named but is extremely handsome, likes things to be organized and neat.  I look at my flower garden and see bright colorful flowers with butterflies flitting about. He sees the mismatched plant heights and the weeds. This has yet to be resolved.Butterfly in my garden
  6. Water is a must. Recently, I was having a conversation with my 5 year old granddaughter discussing the merits of water. She had a hard time believing me when I said we couldn’t live without it. But it’s true! Make sure you drink a lot of water while gardening. I know as you persistently weed and pull out that mint that the sweat falling off your face lands in the garden, but your flowers need water too. Lots of it. This may be a problem if you travel. You’ll have to make friends with other maniacal flower gardeners that are willing to water your jungle, I mean, garden oasis, while you gallivant.Butterfly in my garden
  7. If it grows abundantly, it’s a weed. This is one thing that still befuddles me. Of course, I’ve only been attempting this gardening thing for 3 years, but each spring I am totally confused as I stare into my garden. Which one of the green things growing is a flower that I want to keep and which is a mean old weed? I’m still trying to figure this one out. I suppose as I continue this project, I’ll get to know my plants. But, today as I tried to make sense of the mess that confronted me after being away for 2 months, I decided that if it looked like it was growing easily that it was most likely a weed. Either that or it was one of those plants from my lovely gardening friends. Butterfly in my garden
  8. Gardening gives you something to talk about. I think there is a secret bond between flower gardeners. We know that to those that don’t garden, we seem amazing. I mean, look at those beautiful flowers! So, when gardeners get together, secrets are shared: what’s growing this year, how to kill those bugs, and what the bunnies are eating. And when you are around non-gardeners, they admire your attempts and ask all sorts of questions you may or may not know how to answer. Either way, it’s a fun topic.Butterfly in my garden
  9. It’ll be messy, but worth it. I don’t like to get messy. I hate it when my hands are dirty. This makes being an artist interesting and I have to battle it all the time. So, with gardening I get the best gloves I can find, but I still get dirty hands. Ugh. Isn’t that how life is, though? It seems everything worth doing is messy. And gardening, dirt under my nails and sweat on my brow, yes, those flowers and butterflies are totally worth it.Butterfly in my garden by Janine Broscious
  10. Don’t give up. This gardening thing is quite a teacher. I thought my mom had it completely figured out. Her amazing garden brings joy to all that see it and it is the complete inspiration for my efforts. Yet, every year she tells me new things that she is learning from her garden. So, I think I’ll keep plugging away at my messy, out of control, oasis of beauty. It has much more to teach me!

    This is my beautiful mom, Shirley Updyke, in her lovely garden. Check out her blog:

    This is my beautiful mom, Shirley Updyke, in her lovely garden. Check out her blog:

Hope you enjoyed all the photos of butterflies that I have taken in my garden. My garden looks a bit wild, but the butterflies love it! What has your garden taught you?

10 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother-In-Law

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I learn from other people. You know, you really do become like the people you hang out with. It reminds me of Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Well, after being married to my sweetie for 31 years, I’ve had lots of opportunity to learn from my mother-in-law, Joan. I just visited with her yesterday and realized that she has had quite an impact on me. Here are just a few things I’ve learned from her.

1. Keep going no matter how much it hurts. Joan is a cancer survivor. She bravely faced breast cancer soon after I met her. After surgery and radiation, her body has never been the same, but thankfully, alive! She has suffered the consequences of no longer having lymph nodes which means she is constantly threatened by infections. She is now in constant pain since she needs a knee replacement and it is not safe for her to have surgery. And yet, nothing stops her! I often ask if I can do something for her, but she says no. As she explained, “I need to keep making myself do things or I’ll just get weaker and unable to do anything.” It’s so true! And she does keep going through the pain.IMG_2699

2. Give and then give some more. Missions and missionaries are a passion of Joan’s. Through the years, she has given not only her money towards missions, but her time and talents. Missionaries have stayed for prolonged periods of time in her home. And for awhile, Joan was a missionary herself with Wycliffe translators, JAARS. That meant she had to sell her home and move away from family. I’m always amazed at all the missionaries that she knows by name and prays for.

3. Make your home beautiful. Joan has a way of making her home a lovely oasis. I remember shortly after Matt and I moved into our first home, Jo brought a beautiful floral arrangement to us. She arranged it herself and put it in our bare bathroom. She said, “A room should have beauty and not just be utilitarian.” I’ve never forgotten that and often hear her voice as I decorate our home.

4. Take crafting with you.  As a young mother anticipating my in-laws arrival, it was quite intimidating. Our home was a mess with three little boys and I felt overwhelmed. I was usually able to clean up and prepare meals, but I didn’t always have anything else planned for us to do. That was quite alright. I did not need to worry about entertaining Jo while the men did, well…manly things. As the boys napped, she would take out a quilt she was working on and be happy as we chatted. She didn’t even mind if I snoozed a bit. Oh, and she always brings food! Such a wonderful help to a young, cash strapped family.

5. Share the things that are precious to you while you still can. Jo never minces words and I felt some shock as she gave me a gift and said she wanted me to have it now while she was alive. “You never know when you’ll go and I want you to have this now.” I opened the present to find a beautiful piece of Depression Glass. My sweet mother-in-law knew that I was interested in this antique glass and she had some. Why would she keep this treasure when I could enjoy it? What a giving heart!IMG_1845 2

6. Share your home with others. Even now when Jo is in pain, she opens her home. It sounds like they have people over more often then we do! I still have lots to learn in this area of hospitality, but she sure is a good example. Just open your doors and let them in.DSC_9874

7. Encourage others in their talents. Each time I visit with my mother-in-law she fusses over the things I do. Jo always notices my handmade jewelry and wants to examine each piece with great enthusiasm. She makes me feel like I could do anything! And always prominently displays the handcrafted gifts that I have given her. Jo is an example to me to make gifts for others too. I still have a Noah’s Ark baby quilt that she stitched hanging on my wall.

8. Laugh at yourself. Some of the stories Jo tells are ones that make herself the butt of the joke. But she doesn’t care. One of her favorites is the time she and another woman got lost (before gps systems) and asked for directions. They were driving to the Friendship airport but couldn’t find their way. Finally, she stopped a man on the street and said, “Excuse me, we are looking for friendship!” I guess the man looked shocked and she still laughs to think of what he must have thought of her. But then there is the time that she was with her husband at a conference. He was one of the main speakers and the hotel was full of people that he would be addressing. One morning at the escalator to the lobby she kissed him and said, rather loudly, “Last night was fun! Let’s do it again next year. What did you say your name was?” She sure has kept Dad on his toes!IMG_0967

9. Love your man with all you’ve got. She and I have one of the few Broscious men. They are treasures and we know it! Every time I see Jo, she makes a point of telling me how wonderful her man is. And they’ve been together for a long time.3281_1085900560586_5745015_n

10. Most important, praise God though it all! Life has not always been easy for Jo. In fact, she has been through a lot. And yet, whenever I see her, she encourages me in Christ. She loves Jesus with her whole heart and it shows. No matter the pain, she praises God. What an example!

Thank you, Jo – Mom, for all you’ve taught me. Lots of love, Janine