Out of the River, Onto the Raft – Reason for the Book Part 1

Introduction


I’ve divided this chapter into 3 parts because it is so long. Here is the first part.

The night before was a rough for my oldest and myself as we came to a crossroads. His social anxiety was causing a rift between us. I wanted him to go to the Homecoming Game, but he became a still statue refusing to move when it was time to leave. For weeks, he had talked about going to the game but since his breakup, he just didn’t feel comfortable because he could have run into HER. Plus, the rain was coming down in buckets.

After a long tense discussion, I then agreed to take him to the 5th quarter which was also known as Hangout in a Church after the football game. When it came time to get in the car to go to the church, he reluctantly got into the car. The air smelled of autumn rain. Darkness filled the sky. The tension between us could not be cut even with a knife. Once we got there, he refused to get out of the car. His anxiety was through the roof.

It was then I made the decision that I needed to call his pediatrician of advice because he might have needed to see someone to talk about his anxiety. After yelling at him, which to be honest doesn’t do any good, we drove back home. Both upset with the circumstances and each other.

During the night, sleep evaded me. I was tossing and turning trying to wrap my head around the events of the evening and how I could help my 16-year-old son. The next morning, I texted my friend for advice. As I vented and took her advice, I kept trying to call my mom. We had a system where I would call once or twice and then she would call me back. Sometimes she was on the phone with one of her friends, so she couldn’t take the call right away. Plus, she screened calls because of scammers.

I dialed her number at least 10 times with no response. Fear crept into my body.

A week earlier, I had called her. “We are having a family day. I’m going to go shopping in the evening. Do you want to go with me?”

“I have a sinus infection,” was her response. “I don’t think I want to expose you to it.”

Later, I called her again just to make sure she didn’t want to go with me or if she wanted me to pick up something for her at the store. She responded with, “No, I don’t need anything. Please don’t come around. I don’t want you to miss school if you get sick.”

What I didn’t realize is that she didn’t want me around for an extremely specific reason. The morning after the fight with my oldest is when I would realize the reason.

After not reaching her, I begged my husband, “Please, go and check on mom!”

“I will after 10 o’clock,” he replied not wanting to get dressed. He didn’t realize the circumstances on why I needed him to do a welfare check for me. Ever since my mom moved over to my town 3 years prior, I feared my mom would die in her apartment alone. I was going to be the one to find her.

“Fine,” I responded as I left to do my Saturday errands. My heart felt heavy in that moment. I needed to call the pediatrician and I couldn’t get a hold of my mom. As I turned onto the main road, I made the brave decision. “I’ll stop and check on her myself. No one else is going to do it for me,” ran through my head.

As I turned into her apartment complex, my heart began to beat a little faster. My breathing almost stopped when I saw her mailbox. My mom was obsessed with two things: the dumpster and her mail. I would constantly hear stories about how people would fill the dumpster and when her mail was dropped off for the day.

Her mailbox was overflowing which was not a good sign.

I put the car into park and quickly opened the car door. Dread hung over me like a cloud. As I climbed the step onto her stoop, I grabbed her mail and attempted to open her door. Fortunately, she had left the door unlocked.

As I entered her apartment, I noticed it was eerily quiet like one of those horror movies. I dropped the mail onto her dresser right inside the door. And began to yell, “Mom, mom, mom!”

Silence greeted my ear.

I turned the corner to go down the minuscule hallway towards her bedroom and bathroom when I found her. She was half dressed as though she had just taken a bath and was getting ready for the day. She laid half in the bathroom and the bedroom as though she had just fallen asleep.

Quickly I retraced my steps. Breathing in the cool autumn air as I exited her apartment.

Once I got into my car, I called 9-11. “What’s your emergency?” the calm operator asked me.

“My mom,” I blubbered as tears escaped my eyes.

She talked me through the whole call. Even though they want you to stay on the line until the police arrive, she allowed me to get off the call so I could call my husband.

In a matter of minutes, the police were there confirming my worst fear. My mom had died alone in the apartment earlier in the week.

To be continued . . .

Out of the River, Onto the Raft – Intro

I’ve written a book but don’t want to publish it for several reasons.

  1. Fear
  2. Don’t think people will read it.
  3. I think people will judge me.

Even though I have those reasons, I need to get the story out. God says not to worry. I need to cast my worries onto him. So, I’m releasing my fears. Instead of publishing it, I’m going to share it a little at a time here on the blog. Some I have shared before but I’m going to share it once again here.

God grant me peace. Let’s jump in.

Welcome! May God’s peace and blessings rain over you as you read this book. During the reading of this vulnerable and raw book, you will discover the rapids I encountered during my formative years. Those rapids could have drowned me. Instead they made me a better person.

In the early 2000s, the Goofy One and I along with a friend and my father-in-law to West Virginia to go to white water rafting. This was my second time white water rafting, so I knew the excitement and dangers that lurked ahead of me.

The sky was a brilliant blue that morning. As we put on our life jackets, my heart was knotted up and my brain was on high alert. Instead of feeling the typical “high” people feel when doing this high adventure sports, I was feeling dread and a sense of foreboding.  I didn’t know what lied ahead and worry had crept into my brain.

We climbed into the raft and set down the New River Gorge which is a white-water rafting experience that high adventure thrill seekers sought. Not me. I was there to spend time with my husband and to try to conquer my fear of drowning.

The trip begins with smooth water in which all the passengers on the raft help paddle their way down the river. Every time I attempted to help with the paddling, our raft would go the opposite way. “I’m so uncoordinated,” I thought to myself.

Instead of worrying about helping the other rafters, I wanted to sit there and wallow in my misery. Worry kept creeping into my brain. “What if I drown?” I asked myself repeatedly. Even though rationally I should have known that I was with a guide who was trained in knowing what to do if one of the rafters fell in the water.   

I should have been drinking in the scenery and lavished in the water that was like a mirror until it was disturbed by our oars. Instead I was allowing the Devil to take over my thoughts. He’s a liar. The One who will take the joy out of your life. He was doing a great job of that at this moment.

After lazily “floating” down the river for what seemed like hours, which it probably was because time stands still while you are on the river, we found the drop off zone for lunch. A sigh of relief washed over me as I ate my lunch or at least attempted to eat my lunch. My stomach was still in knots and where my appetite should have increased because of the physical exertion I was left with a lack of appetite because of the Devil running my thoughts.

During our break, we were allowed to jump off this one cliff into the water. People were encouraged to do this jump because again thrill seekers. I instead cowered in the corner like a mouse hiding from the homeowner praying that no one would notice me.  I was determined not to drown that day.

As soon as we were back on the river, I noticed that the river had changed. No longer was it mirror smooth; it was choppy like the sea Jesus had calmed during the storm. “Dear Lord, please protect me,” was my prayer. I clenched my butt cheeks so tightly that no quarter would get between them. I was determined not to drown that day.

Our raft crashed into the white rapids and jumped into the air. I prayed, “Dear Lord, please protect over me,” repeatedly over the next few hours. The rapids got increasingly stronger. Our raft kept hitting rocks which caused us to fly into the air. “Woo hoos were heard throughout the raft,” when the roaring noise of the white water wasn’t deafening my ears.

During the midst of this, I traveled back in time and was suddenly 7 years old not listening to my father.

The swimming pool was calling my name. It was one of those hot steamy days where your feet burned as soon as they touched the cement. I just wanted to be in the water, but I was told to wait until one of my parents could help me.

My stubborn Taurus self knew that I could swim, so I didn’t need to listen to him. He was my monster anyway.

The cool water was calling me. “Traci, Traci,” it taunted me.

 “Oh, all right,” I responded to the water.

Without hesitation, I jumped. My life flashed before my eyes as the water overtook me. I couldn’t get off the bottom of the pool. A heavy weight pushed down on me. I tried to push that weight off but couldn’t. I was sinking further into the water.

Suddenly I was grabbed by a lifeguard who saw the struggling between life and death happening in the pool. God was not going to call me to his Heavenly home today.

As I was sitting in that raft some almost 20 years later, that memory plagued my thoughts. Instead of enjoying the moment, I was in fear of a heavy weight pushing me further into the water.

After hitting those rapids for hours, we finally made it back to smooth mirror like water and were on the journey back to dry land. God had protected me like he had protected me when I was a child. He wasn’t ready to call me Home.

Once we were on dry land, I kissed the ground and praised God.

I tell the story of my white-water rafting trip because it’s a metaphor for life. Life is like a river. There are moments in our life that are like the mirror smooth water where everything is going the way we want, and we can just float along. Then the river bends and rapids begin to develop. Every time we hit those rapids; it feels as though we are flying into the sky without a parachute not knowing where we are going to land. Are we going to land softly or crash? Is this rapid the one that will make us drown? We don’t know. God is the one who knows the plans for our life.

Through it all, we need to remember God is our guide just like I had a guide on that raft. He knows what we need or don’t need. He will protect us even when it feels as though he has forsaken us.

He is also our life preserver when the Devil tries to drown us with his taunting and constant bullying. We need to turn to him when it seems as though life is trying to drown us. All we need to do is pray, read the Bible, and love others.

This book is my journey on my river of life thus far. I have had those mirror smooth water moments and class 5 rapids in my life. Before we begin, I need to give you the safety guidelines that all white-water rafting guides give their rafters.

  1. Put those life vests on which is the armor of God.
  2. Listen to your guide: God.
  3. Listen to the directions the oars want you to go: The Bible will tell the directions.
  4. Have fun.

Let me tell you a secret, even though I was terrified during that trip down the river I still had a blast. It’s a memory of mine where I conquered a fear of mine to come on the other side a much better person.

May you be blessed,
Traci

A Teenager, More Family Secrets, and a Dollhouse

I’ve now listened to the third book in the Tradd Street Series.  (Family Secrets, a Mysterious Reporter, and More Ghosts and Romance, Ghosts, and Mystery)

The Strangers on Montagu Street begins with Jack dropping off his daughter, Nola, on Melanie’s doorstop.  Yeah, Jack has a teenage daughter.

Nola and Jack were constantly fighting so he thought it would better for Nola and his relationship if they did not live in the same house.  Nola had been estranged from him for all of her 13 years so they were not off to a good start.

Melanie took Nola to Jack’s parents’ antique furniture store.  While they were there, Nola took interest in a dollhouse so Jack’s mother gave it to her as a gift.  Suddenly strange things began to happen in the house.  Angry ghosts are now haunting Melanie and Nola.  Except Nola does not realize it yet because she does not realize ghosts are real.  All she knows is the dolls in the house keep moving around.

It is up to Nola, Melanie, Melanie’s mom, and Jack to find out the identity of the ghosts and what message they were trying to relay.  During the course of the book, you will meet Julia Mantego (spelling) and discover how she is related to those tortured souls.

Meanwhile there is another ghost hanging around.  This ghost is more benign than the other ghosts.  Who is this wandering lost soul?  Why is she still hanging around?  As I always say, you need to read the book to find out about this ghost.

Do Jack and Melanie eventually get together?  I’m not going to say.  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

There is a big cliff hanger at the end of the book.  Makes you want to know what is going to happen next.

 

I enjoyed the book.  There was a different feel to the book with more emphasis on the relationships between the characters being the primary focus of the story.  The ghost story with the dollhouse was a secondary story at different points in the book unlike the first two books.

In the beginning, I did not really enjoy Nola.  She was a moody teenage girl.  During the course of the book, she matured and became more likable.

 

At one point in the story, the story mentions the Circular Church’s Graveyard and this exact sign.  I had taken this photo during our visit in June.

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Have a magical day,
Traci

A girl at the crossroads in life (Book Review)

In June 2016, the boys had Vacation Bible School.  I opted not to drive home because I would turn right around to go and pick them up.  So I went to the local outdoor mall.

The bookstore at the mall had Mary Kay Andrews speaking about her newest book Weekenders.

From her talk, I knew I would want to read/ listen to one of her books.  She was put on my want to read book list.  It took me a year until I finally listened to one of her books.

 

When the Imaginative One and I were on our way home from our road trip, I had finished listening to The Girl on Legare Street and Brownies and Broomsticks.  We still had almost 3 hours to go so I opted to borrow one of Mary Kay Andrews books from Hoopla to listen to for the remainder of the trip.

In the beginning of Beach Town, Greer Hennessey was on the look out for a classic Florida beach town for a movie location.  Greer is a movie location scout.

When she enters the town of Cypress Key, she realizes she has found that classic Florida beach town.  However, she did not know that Cypress Key will change her life.

She meets residents Ginny (spelling) and Eb.  Eb is the mayor of Cypress Key plus the owner of the grocery store and a realtor.

Greer and Eb have a love hate relationship throughout the book.  You have to read/ listen to the book to find out if love or hate wins.

Greer’s mother had died two months prior to the beginning of the book.  Her more Lees had been in contact with Greer’s estranged dad, Clint.  Clint lives an hour or so away from Cypress Key.  Greer has to make a decision on whether to contact Clint or to have any type of relationship with him.

Once the movie production team and actors arrive in Cypress Key, it adds an interesting dynamic to the book.  There is Bryce who is the abrasive movie director.  He is demanding and does not let the word no stop him.  The main lead in the movie was Kregg.  Kregg is a famous rapper who wants to be an actor.  He is a true bad boy.

Cypress Key has an old casino that is about to collapse.  Once Bryce finds out about the book, he wants to use the casino in the movie and then blow it up.  Throughout the book, Greer attempts to get permission to use the casino from Eb.  This adds an interesting twist to the story.  So what happens to the casino?  I’m not going to spoil it for you.  You need to read/ listen for yourself.

Greer was at a crossroad in her life.  Going to Cypress Key changed her life.

 

I loved the book.  I kept wanting to know more about Eb and Greer’s relationship and what was going to happen with the casino.  However, some of the movie details went on and on which made the book longer than it needed to be.

My favorite character is Eb.  He is described as looking sort of like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.  Eb is a jack of all trades, a good guy, and a family man.  He only wants what is best for his home town.

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If you want a good summer read, this book would fit the bill.

 

Happy reading,
Traci

Family Secrets, a Mysterious Reporter, and More Ghosts

I just finished listening to the second book in Karen White’s  The Tradd Street series – The Girl on Legare Street.

I have already done a book review for the first book in the series – The House on Tradd Street.

This book begins soon after The House on Tradd Street.  Melanie’s estranged mother comes back into town and wants to buy the family home on Legare Street.

Melanie and her mother have a strained relationship but must work through it while restoring the house.

Meanwhile a sunken boat is found off shore.  The boat sunk in the late 1800’s and had belonged to Melanie’s family.  Once the boat was brought up, there was a shocking discovery of a body on the boat.  Melanie and her mother work on their relationship while trying to figure out who the identity of the person on the boat.

A mysterious reporter wants to do an interview with Ginnette, Melanie’s mother, because she bought the house on Legare Street.  As the story progresses, Rebecca, the reporter, becomes more and more suspicious.  Who is she?  Why is she so interested in the history of Melanie’s family?

Yes, there is more ghosts in this book.  There is the protector of Melanie.  He was there for her when she was a child and now is there when she is an adult.  Who is he?  Why is staying around the house?  Does he have anything to do with the mysterious body in the boat?

There is also an evil ghost in the house.  Does this ghost have anything to do with the mysterious body in the boat?  Why is the ghost unsettled?

Jack is still around in this book.  His relationship with Melanie is on and off through out the book.

I enjoyed listening to this story.  The cliffhanger at the end of the book makes me want to read the next book in the series which I have started to read.  To be honest, I don’t really like Rebecca.  When you read the book, you will discover that her motives were good but she wasn’t honest when she was dealing with Ginnette and Melanie.

My belief is that Jack and Melanie belong together.  Everyone can see that but there is a few obstacles in the way.  That’s another reason I want to read the next book so I can find out if Jack and Melanie every get together.

 

The Hunley is mentioned in the book.  While we were in South Carolina last month, we actually went to see the Hunley so once again this made me relate to the book.

Here are some photos from our visit to see the Hunley.

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collage #8

Have a magical day,
Traci

Romance, Ghosts, and Mystery

4. Book review!

{This post is edited.  While typing it up, it was storming so my dog wanted my attention.  Meanwhile our bird was trying to help me type up this post.  I reread what I wrote so I’ve got to revise and edit what I typed up.)

When I was in New York last month, I was introduced to a new author.

My friend, Molly, and I were at Barnes and Nobles looking at Chick Lit books.  I finally decided on purchasing On Folly Beach written by Karen White.

Once I began reading the book, I could not put it down.  The book flipped between present day (2009) and World War II.  This book has both romance and mystery.  Most of all it had the beach.

However, this review is not about On Folly Beach, it’s about another book written by Karen White.

After finishing the book, I decided to find other books written by her because I really enjoyed her writing style.

That’s when I discovered the Tradd Street series that takes place in the historical area of Charleston near the Battery.

I borrowed the first book in the series The House on Tradd Street on Hoopla so I could listen to the book while driving and cooking.  I completed the book yesterday.

Hubby and I traveled to the Toledo Zoo yesterday.  I wanted to finish the book so we listened to it on the 2.5 hour drive.  We pulled into the parking lot as the story ended.  Talk about perfect timing.

Now onto the review about the book:

Melanie has inherited 55 Tradd Street.  The house needs to be renovated because it is in disrepair.  Melanie does not want the house because she is able to see and communicate with ghosts.  This house has ghosts – both benign and evil.

In the meantime, she meets Jack, an author, who wants to discover what has happened to one of the former inhabitants, Louisa, because she suddenly disappears at the same time as another citizen of Charleston, Joseph.

Meanwhile the mysterious Mark shows up.  Should Melanie trust him or not?  Jack believes she should not trust him.  He has a feeling that Mark is up to no good especially since he is the grandson of the Joseph.  Even though Jack warns Melanie not to date him, Melanie begins to date him.  How does the relationship turn out?  I’m not going to tell you.  You need to read the book to find out.

There is also some missing treasure.  Jack, Melanie, and her dad set out to find the treasure while trying to find out what happened to Louisa and Joseph.

I enjoyed listening to the story.

A couple of weeks ago, we traveled to Charleston, SC.  While there, I visited some of the places mentioned in the book.  I’m glad I got to see those places.

Here are some photos of the places mentioned in the book:

Top Left – St. Phillips Church

Top Middle – St. Phillips Cemetery

Top Right – John C. Calhoun marker (Not the actual grave)

Bottom Left – Queen Street marker

Bottom Right – Dock Street Theater

Have a magical day,
Traci

P.S.  Hubby and I started listening to the next book in the series on our way home from Toledo.
Mama’s Losin’ It

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