It Ain’t Eeeeas-sy


Nan Tubre Writes . . .

i am a reader

Somebody take me away, I’m stuck in hyperbole hell. Who said making your dreams come true was easy and effortless? It couldn’t have been me; I’m having a hard time of it. That’s not to say I haven’t already had my dreams come true. I have. But keeping the dream alive, to borrow an expression, is the hard part. For example, I’m writing another novel. It’s hard. It’s not speeding toward ‘The End’ in any way, shape, or form. I’m having trouble fleshing out my characters and laying the plot down the way I want it. I can’t decide who will be my antagonist and who will be the hero. At this point, both are interchangeable. Not good. Maybe. I don’t know, I’m confused. So many stories in my head! Have you heard that saying that has been going around facebook “I try not to listen to all the voices…

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Kingdom Rock – Where Kids Stand Strong For God


kingdom rock

Well, Vacation Bible School is over, folks, and the baby grands have gone home. I think I have caught my breath, and I have to say, I really enjoyed the week. The program was awesome, beyond awesome actually. There were glitches, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

This is a picture of us just before leaving for the first day of VBS. The kids were very excited and so was I. Not really. I was nervous. I always am just before something big. Every year I get to be the Station Leader that shows movie clips of Chadder Chipmunk on his journey to live for God. You would think by this time I would be a pro at it. Nope. I always manage to screw something up. God knows this and mercifully sends someone to help me at just the right time. Poor me. It’s so embarrassing. But it does keep me from letting the title of Station Leader go to my head. You know I’m kidding, right?

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We are blessed to have an awesome DRE (Director of Religious Education) at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Bunkie, Louisiana. Her name is Karen McCoy which is a synonym for ‘burning ball of energy’. Neither the adult volunteers, nor the student volunteers can keep up with her. She had so much to do in so little time. She began preparations weeks before the program start date and it just seemed like every day something new was added to the list of things to do. I doubt any of the children that came to VBS, or their parents, know what goes on behind the scenes and how hard it is to put this kind of program together.

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Karen McCoy, DRE at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Bunkie, Louisiana. Can you tell this is after the last day?

But Karen knows very well how hard it is. So do I and all of the volunteers who helped where we could. There was never enough people involved, or so it seemed. Let me just say this: we painted, colored, cut, hammered, pasted, stapled, taped, and zip-tied everything by hand. We had to create the stage props, décor for all the rooms, costumes, and paint, paint, paint. For days we painted cardboard to look like castle walls. It was so hot outside (the only place we could paint), the wax in my ears melted. Whew! I’m glad I wasn’t responsible for everything that goes into the program but at the same time, I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more to take a load off Karen. How she did it I’ll never know. Her responsibilities were endless. It’s mind-boggling to think about. She started weeks before we did. Can you imagine that?

There were some less than ideal moments during the week, the glitches I mentioned earlier. A few crew leaders couldn’t finish the week. One or two were absent altogether, sound systems and lap tops gave up on us, the stage props melted, some kids couldn’t register until the very last minute. But we had good leadership and no one knew there was any behind-the-scenes chaos. Everything fell into place. I know Who to thank for that and I praise Him for the honor to serve Him by serving our children. He is a good God. His mercies are true. He said to bring the children unto Him. So we did, and so it goes every year in the summer time. Karen McCoy has dedicated her life to young people and works hard to Stand Strong For God.

Let me say also that it is a thrill to work with some of the special volunteers who always show up when God says go. Ashley, Rachael, Claire, Agnes, Jill, the Youth Group. There are more, but names allude me at the moment, so I hope they forgive me for not mentioning them. I wish I could post a picture of the 60+ children in the group but I hesitate to do that without parental permission. Suffice it to say, it was a big, loud, rowdy, happy, laughing-out-loud group of kids and adults. Praise God!

I don’t know about anybody else, but it has taken this long for me to rest up. I was simply exhausted! I haven’t had to go anywhere or do anything extra since the last day of VBS. Ha! That reminds me of the post-surgical advice I got from a doctor one time. “Don’t do anything you don’t want to.” Wise man. What a blessing!

If you want to see what the week was like, read my previous post “What Was I Thinking?” https://nantubre.com/2013/06/19/what-was-i-thinking/

All of my grandchildren told me they couldn’t wait till next year for another VBS! If that’s not a testament to hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, what is? Mission complete.

And don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll.

A Real Gem in Downtown Alexandria, Louisiana


When I was a young girl fresh out of high school, I lived in a garage apartment close to downtown Alexandria, Louisiana, 829 ½ Fisk Street, to be exact. My rent was $40 a month and it was the cutest garage apartment, although quite rickety in a freakish sort of way. In other words, the whole place shook when a person crossed the room. The mirror on my dresser slapped the wall with every footstep. But I was young and daring back in 1972 and the price was right. The tiny apartment sat behind the main house which was huge, and full of rich detail work, the kind that you don’t see replicated anymore. The owners, an elderly couple by the name of Moreau, where still very much in love with each other. He called her chic and she called him sweetheart. I fell in love with their old house, especially the elegant staircase that floated up to several bedrooms. In it’s day, the spare bedrooms were boarded out. Quite a history, I’d say. If walls could talk….

I adore bits of architectural history. In those days, I was just starting out and inexperienced in the ways of life but I had already acquired a taste for all things antique. And because I lived nearby, I enjoyed walks to the historic downtown district almost daily . Everybody I knew said that Downtown was a bumpin’ place at one time and I can believe it. The streets are lined with fabulous old buildings. And, back in the day, the shops were equally as fascinating; everything from clothiers, to drug stores, to upscale jewelry stores. Needed a mop, furniture, a diamond ring? You name it, you could get it downtown. It isn’t like that these days. For the most part, buildings stand empty and sad and alone.

But here is the good news: Downtown Alexandria is making a comeback! I think it’s a shame that we lost the atmosphere of a bustling main street America to begin with. But, as they say, you don’t miss something until it’s gone. Thankfully, there are people, only a handful at first, who saw the potential and had a dream. As you know from my previous posts, I can attest that dreams do come true. Therefore, the resurgence of the hip be-there-or-be-square flock-to place is the culmination of the efforts and dreams of many interested parties who dared to care. The real estate downtown is prime once again.

the gem

Take, for example, the old Gem Jewelry building. Sandwiched between empty store fronts, it is being restored by Duana Juneau and business partner (and ex-husband) Greg Trotter. The old Gem is undergoing quite an extensive remodel/restoration. Bless her heart, she appreciates the value of quality antique buildings and is taking care to preserve every original element salvageable. Even the outside of the building has it’s share of restoration as it has been painted with colors historically correct to the era in which is was built. It is beautiful; 1908 must have been a good year. The original molding is still in place inside but the only salvageable tin ceiling pieces are preserved in a strip showcased on the first floor ceiling.

Duana has big plans for the old Gem. She took me upstairs and I can’t tell you how comforting the creak and snap sounds of the old steps were. It reminded me of big wooden building my grandparents built to house their business in Kentucky way before I was born. In fact, I think the old Gem building is only 20 or so years older than my grandparents store. Yes, Grandma’s old store still stands as far as I know. Over the years different people have bought it and loved it just like the new ‘down-towners’ are doing in Alexandria. Back to Duana’s project, the entire upstairs, hereby referred to as Loft on 3rd, is the perfect studio for her photography business. It’s huge and I would give my eye teeth to have a space like that! Wow, the things I could do, the art I could create, the books I could write!

loft floors

pre-reno gem

The main floor has been renovated for entertaining. It will be available for a variety of gatherings, ie, weddings, receptions, banquets, corporate meetings, art shows, etc. It will be a very exciting venue! There is a warming kitchen available for caterers and room enough for 200 or so people. Duana has maintained an elegant and prestigious ambiance, already discernible despite the fact that renovation won’t be completed until the first part of August. I am quite certain a smidgen of that ambiance remains from days gone by, maybe even from some reticent soul still clinging to the grand old building.

gem chand

A few modern amenities have been added as well.

gem bathroom

I hear tell the Bentley Hotel will open again and perhaps a few more eateries and other local business are in the future as well. The word condominium has been whispered here and there. Can you imagine that? If I were single and planning to move back to Alexandria, I would love a downtown condo!

Personally, I think that downtown Alexandria has more than one Gem. There are many, and to quote one of them:
“It’s up to us to preserve this. Somebody has to step in and save it. It starts with one person and, hopefully, the others will follow.” ~ Duana Juneau

WHAT WAS I THINKING??


I love Vacation Bible School and the reason I do is because, lucky for me, my older grandchildren get to come spend a week with me. I volunteer to help out and I do it for them, so they can have something fun to do when they come to Nana’s in the summertime. That is my favorite part of the summer!

Ok, so this is how it went this year: Today is day three and it’s not called hump day without good reason. Believe me, we have humped up double time to get this far. We have cut, painted, hammered,taped, tacked, and zip-tied everything you can imagine. We enlisted the church’s youth group to help build elaborate stage sets, only to see them melt and fall apart after being left without air conditioning for a couple of days. After the initial let down, everyone worked frantically and feverishly to get it all returned to pre-melt status, successfully, I might add. The stage looks awesome! It has taken days, nay, weeks to get everything done. If it is, indeed, done. Our DRE (Director of Religious Education) has had her work cut out for her. I couldn’t have done it.

Spoiler alert: Here comes the What Was I Thinking part. There are somewhere around 60 kids enrolled in VBS this year. We are thrilled! Can’t you just see the sweet little things running to VBS breathlessly to share Jesus Christ and love of one another? Uh. No. It’s HUMP DAY. That means the team leaders are exhausted, the whole staff is exhausted, the kids want MORE. They want more fun, more projects, more movies, more snacks. They remember how much fun day one and day two were and they expect to have an equally enthusiastic program for days three, four, and five. I’m not so sure that is possible.

I knew today would be a challenge almost as soon as my lovely feet hit the floor. Because I didn’t wash my hair when I showered last night, I had to it this morning. Let me clarify that – I stood just outside the shower so I could bend over far enough and use the hand-held shower head aimed at my hair so I could wash it. Mistake. Why the hell didn’t I just take another shower instead of having to end up mopping the floor too? Again, lucky for me, Paw Pete asked me if there was anything he could do to help me out. Why, thank you. Please feed the animals, I mean, grandkids. That was a big help. He fed them each two pancakes and one corndog. That effort alone gave me enough time to mop the water out of the bathroom floor and dry my hair, in that order. Somehow I knew it was going to be that kind of day from the moment I pulled my clothes on. I found a string and started to pull it. I pulled and pulled. I’m a little slow so it took a moment for me to realize that the reason it was going around and around my waist was because the little string that I pulled was coming from the waistband of my underwear. The more that I pulled, the more sure I was of the type of day I would have. I had to go to VBS with my underwear barely hanging on, to say nothing of how diligently I had to work to keep it on. But I made it, thanks to the power of prayer. Yes, Virginia, God answers all our prayers, especially when he wants his disciples to set good examples for the youth. Wearing underclothes is not optional, it is mandatory.

I thought I had more than three baby grands to corral to the car from the way it looked as we were leaving. We were like a gaggle of cartoon characters trying to get out of the door at the same time. This is the way it has been all week with very few variances from day to day. Right before the program started on the first day, I realized I left something in my car and I had to go back to get it. It was a good thing I did. My car door was still open. That was a disaster waiting to happen. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of that one too!

My one and only job during the years I have volunteered to help out at VBS has been to man the video station. I like it because I don’t have to be in a big crowd or be surrounded by a lot of noise. That’s another What Was I Thinking episode. Every year, I say I’m not going to do it again, yet every year I still do. I don’t like noise. I don’t do well in crowds. But I do love it when I see precious little hands folded together in prayer. And I love to see a little kid’s face light up when they tell about the ‘God sighting’ they had. I love the fact that VBS is more than just a summertime babysitting gig, it’s a real job. Maybe one of the biggest. There is no cashable paycheck but influencing our children to understand and master the art of worship and the act of loving one another is a heavy responsibility with an eternity worth of dividends. I’m not sure how good of an example I am setting but I’m trying very hard to do the right thing. I’m trying to help my baby grands create great memories of summertime at Nana’s house.

So anyway, tomorrow is day four and I hope we all go back feeling renewed and refreshed so we can present a program that will be something the little ones will enjoy and remember. It will be an exercise in faith to overcome the exhaustion, trust me. I will be certain that my hair gets washed and the waist band of my underwear is good. And somebody please be sure the car doors are closed

It’s a good thing VBS has yummy snacks!

Don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. The whole world needs your prayers.

Happy Father’s Day Mom


Have you ever thought about wishing Happy Father’s Day to the single mothers of the world, those legions of women who have to raise their children without a dad? Sure, it can be sad, but my hope is that the kids who have been raised by just their mom appreciate what she did for them.

I know how it is. I did it for 20 years. It is hard work. You single moms know what I mean. Especially when raising boys. To be mom and dad to boys is like living in an alternate universe.

When they are little, they think you hung the moon. They love you soo much. They believe everything you tell them and trust you with all their little hearts. They call you Mama but the way they say it puts a crown on your head and a superman cape on your back. You cook for them, make sure they brush their teeth, help with homework, teach them to fight their own battles. You have to haul them back and forth between little league, scouts, and sleep-overs. You look for free entertainment like the park, the swimming hole, and the library. You turn the stereo up and dance wildly around the room with them to burn off their abundant energy so you can sleep at night. You get them a dog to teach them responsibility.

About the time you think you got it made, something awful happens. Your home reeks with testosterone and suddenly you don’t know a damn thing. They don’t call you Mama anymore; now it’s M-o-o-o-m.You are no longer the recipient of loving gazes, you are the recipient of rolling eyes and you-don’t-have-a-brain looks. Face it, you are clueless. It becomes harder and harder to maintain control of any sort. I know a woman who had 4 boys she was raising by herself. She took karate lessons so they wouldn’t try to test her. Now, that’s teaching respect! I wish I would have known about that when mine crossed the threshold into adolescence. Just joking. Not! At this point, they want to just wet the toothbrush instead of actually brushing. They beg you to drop them off at least a block from their destination. They look at you like you’re crazy for turning the radio up when good old songs come on. You cannot keep enough groceries in the house because they lap it up as soon as the grocery bag comes out of the trunk. You make it a point to sleep with one eye open in case someone decides to sneak out in the night. And if you want the dog to survive, you have to feed it. And brush it. And pick up the dog poop.

I had something of a ritual for their thirteenth birthday, a rite of passage so to speak. That was the special day they got to learn to mop the floor. That’s not to say they did it whenever I asked them to. I always knew they just took a wet rag and wiped up the spots on the floor instead of moping the whole thing. It’s a good trick, one that I, myself, practice today. Thanks guys! And speaking of that, there were a lot of other things I wasn’t fooled about. Like why the beautiful elephant ears I planted right off the edge of the deck didn’t flourish like those on the other side of the yard. Yes, you guessed it. They peed off the deck.

In the meantime, I had to resign myself to the fact that I no longer knew everything and there were some things I wish I never knew. Experimenting with smoking (all kinds of things), cooking (burning) when I wasn’t there to supervise, saying the laundry was done when actually it was under the bed. Did they really think nobody would notice the wrinkled, smelly clothes?

And that childhood bliss is followed by having to tell them all about the facts of life. A mom teaching her sons about reproduction is a bit awkward. My friend, who was a Health Clinic Nurse, thought she was doing me a great favor by giving me a bag of condoms when the boys came of age. How many times did I come home from work to find condoms in the back yard after they filled them up with water, climbed on the roof, and water-bombed each other – and the neighbors.

We had some rough times. There were a lot of tears and anxiety about how I was going to be able to take care of them, but lots of proud moments too. I hope they know that. If you would ask my boys what they remember most about their childhood, they would both say that mom worked all the time. It’s true. I had to. For them.

Today my boys have kids of their own. I guess the condom lesson didn’t take. But what a gift my grandchildren are to me! Anyway, they are great, interactive fathers, not by anything I taught them, I’m sure, but because life is a good teacher and they taught themselves to be the kind of fathers they should be. They tell their children “I love you” right to their little faces. Now that I know they got from me. Sure, I popped them on the head occasionally, maybe tried to beat them once in a while, but they always heard I love you every day. Because I do and I always will more than life itself.

If I have learned anything about raising boys myself it’s this: If they can’t eat it or smoke it, they pee on it. And watching your son be a good daddy is payback enough for any and all the sacrifices that had to be made. So Happy Father’s Day boys.

And Happy Father’s Day to all you moms out there who pull double duty for love.

Just as I am


blessed are we

I had to laugh the other day when I read a post from an author I follow on fb. She said even though it was the middle of the afternoon, she was kicked back in her pajamas with a glass of wine, her manuscript, and a bowl of popcorn. Her hair was a mess, she hadn’t brushed her teeth yet, the house needed to be straightened up. And she was writing a steamy, sexy episode in her currant WIP (work-in-progress). We’re talking about a big time author, ya’ll. One with several novels under her byline.

I can relate. Except for the steamy, sexy part. I can’t say my experience in writing has led me there, but I’m not judging those who do. I just relate to the part about sitting in pajamas with a glass of wine for an afternoon of writing. If I had a glass of wine, I would be drinking it now. Sitting in my pajamas? Naw, I can’t because there is an old man who lives across the road who is liable to come a-visiting at any given moment. He’s funny that way. He and my man sit on the back porch and shoot the breeze quite often and for as long as a good pot of coffee lasts. I’m glad my husband has friends who are like that, especially since we live way out in the boon-docks.

I love my life here in the country. I have everything that makes me happy along with a deep and abiding appreciation for the One who led me here. I’ve had my share of disappointments and problems, and no doubt will have more. That’s life. But considering where I was and where I am… Every once in a while I have to say “You’re scarin’ me now, Lord!” because of all of the unexpected and wonderful blessings He drops in my lap. And for what? What did I do to deserve anything?

The simple answer is that I did nothing to deserve any blessing. They are His gifts. A Father’s gifts to His child. Ain’t it grand!

The reason I mention it is because last Sunday my husband and I went to church in Alexandria, some 45 or 50 miles from our home. We love to go to Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church when we can. I know the Spirit is the same everywhere but something is different for us there. The atmosphere feels holy and alive. When we settle in to pray at Mass, we feel thrust into the life of the Spirit.

And the music ain’t too shabby either. Just before the Mass is over, a period of meditation is offered and music is a big part of that. Last Sunday, the music director sang a song that gave me goose-bumps and made my husband wipe tears from his eyes. I don’t know the name of it, but I do know the message: Oh, how he loves us. Those words became real like they were coming straight from His lips. He loves us! He really does rejoice over us!

I can’t speak for everyone there, but I needed to hear those words precisely at that moment. Blessed be the Lord!

This afternoon, I am kicked back in the recliner, fully dressed, no glass of wine or popcorn (although that does sound good) and I’m trying to add meaningful words to my own WIP. Failing that, I let my mind wander and reminisce about where I am in life, how I got here, why, and where I’m going. Good questions, huh? Well….wherever He leads me, just as I am. I will need His guidance because on my own, I’m a pretty awful example, but with Him, I am awesome. Glad I thought of that. Now maybe I can get some writing done.

Blessings to ya’ll! Don’t forget to pray for peace.

suicide – a forbidden subject


WARNING – SENSITIVE CONTENT

Someone I know, or thought I knew, committed suicide. It is very difficult to process, hence the reason I am blogging about it. I’ll not share it on my fb page because people I know will know who I am writing about and I don’t want anyone to think of this as gossip.

We were not close friends but he was someone I looked up to. Always a smile, a kind word, you know the type. A generous man.

So now that he’s gone, what are we to do? I haven’t seen him in ages so chances are I won’t physically miss him. But knowing that he took his own life makes my heart miss him. It makes me ache and wish I could see him again. That’s the way it is when someone dies. The people left behind are the ones that suffer. He was young and had so much to add to the world. I can’t imagine what his mother must be going through. I wonder if, in death, he will miss his family.

To be honest, I have contemplated suicide. Hasn’t everyone at one time or another? Thinking about it is normal; it’s the people with a plan that you have to worry about. Plan B doesn’t necessarily follow if Plan A doesn’t work out. For a person to go for Plan A, they have to be in some kind of desperate pain. I had a plan one time. If I would have followed the plan, I wouldn’t be here today. Aborting Plan A was a God-send, for I am sure He knew the plans He had for me. In fact, Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know well the plans I have in mind for you,” is one of my favorite verses. I stand on that. I depend on that. Believing in that scripture is very important to me. When I had a Plan A, I was in that type of desperate pain that removes all sense of responsibility. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else but myself. I don’t know what held me back from following through with it, but my guess is the threat of hell for eternity was more painful to think about than working through the problems I had during that very difficult period in my life. I was hopeless. Hope-less. It is a bad way to be. Apparently, this man who took his life must have been hopeless and I can’t bear to think of him being in that kind of pain. Having been there, I know it is tangible and relentless. A lot of people label those who commit suicide as selfish and cowardly. I don’t believe that is the case for most suicides. For a person to go that far, what they are suffering from must be blinding. There has to be a slip of mental acuity of some kind, otherwise why would he give up on life when there is Tomorrow? Tomorrow always changes. Tomorrow you might find something to be hopeful about. So many people love him. That is what I would have told this suicide man if I would have known he had a plan.

There are many questions about his death that I will never have the answer to. I am sorry he felt suicide was necessary and I am sorry for all the wonderful life he will miss. It’s not my place to guess what his after-life will be but I hope and pray that his suffering is over and that he will rest in peace far, far away from whatever desperation drove him from this life.

Any comments?