When I Consider Thy Heavens

ShipwreckWriter Blog

Safe Harbor - Shipwrecked: Finding My Way Home

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on August 5, 2010 at 8:07 AM Comments comments (0)

I was contacted by my publisher (of my first book - Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss) and asked to write a second book. I have six months to accomplish this as per my contract. OK - so far I have NOTHING down in print. Guess they either think my head is full of ideas or they are just very confident about my talent. They have actually (of course) directed what I am to write about. I am excited about this project.



The title: Shipwrecked: Finding My Life-Raft - is subject to change (especially the second part of the title). This morning's weather - thunderstorms followed by ominous lighting outside at sunrise only set the mood as I begin to write. Too bad I have to get ready to go to work!



Life is short - life is long. Life is easy - life is hard. More later. As with my first book, proceeds from this book will go to the Lighthouse Library project. http://www.freewebs.com/eccrc


Our daughter's birthday date was  this week - August 2nd. We always celebrate by eating her favorite meal and doing something fun - she enjoyed life so much!! And of course we went to the local county fair. Jennifer never had a traditional birthday party (except for her 16th birthday). All the others were either spent while traveling home to Kansas for a family visit or at the county fair as she cared for her (and her sibbilings') 4-H projects. We had her "last" birthday in our camper at the fair. We decorated it will all purple balloons & banners since she was going to K-State. She got engaged that last summer - at the fair!!



My second book is not a book about grief recovery. It is about life - and a lot of it! It is about rebuilding after life's shipwrecks. I have spent a lot of time on lonely islands and my publisher thinks my life story amounts to something to be shared. It is my honor and privilege to share the things I've hoped for, dreamed of, and lived in print.

Salt Water Aquarium At Lighthouse Library

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 20, 2010 at 7:13 AM Comments comments (1)

Salt Water Aquarium at Lighthouse Library

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Lighthouse Library has a children’s section under the loft area. This area will have a local artist decorate the walls with ocean decorations. There will be kids' tables and floor pillows for kids to relax and read good books. A volunteer newly-created Ocean Character will visit on occasions and read to the children. But the children need an ocean aquarium in their area. What an educational tool this will be! to learn about ocean life.


The kids get the entire east wall where a long aquarium where we will work to create a salt-water (ocean) fish aquarium. We are working with an “expert” on salt water aquariums from Wichita – someone who has created several successful ones. He has the text book on “how to create an ocean aquarium”. So his book together with his practical experience should be helpful.


There will be port hole windows in front of the aquarium along the east wall of the library. The kids can look into the aquarium from inside the library or from the outside through the portholes. ECCRC wrote a grant in hopes of obtaining the needed funds to create this children’s project for the children’s area, but sadly our project was not chosen. We are looking for a local sponsor to help create this for the children.


The approximate cost for the aquarium supplies, building materials, and the fish is about $1,500. We will gladly call this a “naming opportunity” and put your business name or your family name on the aquarium. What a nice gift for the local children, youth, and adults alike – as well as visitors to our town. For inspiration, take a child to this business in Wichita: http://theaquariuminoldtown.com/


Or take them to a zoo or other place where there is an aquarium and watch their eyes light up when they look at the fish.


We can even start an Aquarium Club for anyone (adults, youth, or children) who want to help with this project from start to finish – and continue to meet as our aquarium grows. Having an Ocean Life Aquarium is a unique feature for Lighthouse Library and we hope there are partners out there with the time, interest, and funds to help make this project a reality. If interested, e-mail ECCRC at:

[email protected]

or call: (620) 212-8582.

Long Nights On The Farm

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 16, 2010 at 6:04 AM Comments comments (0)

I remember our military days - living in large cities all across the country. Sometimes the sound of the planes or traffic would keep me awake. How I longed to move back home to Kansas - and maybe even live on a farm. We did eventually move home & my dream was reached - or so I thought.


OK - I feel like a new mother again!


Last fall, we had this beautiful rooster that looked more like a peacock. The only problem - he lived on our back porch, thinking he was one of our cats. Eventually, we put him out in the chicken house away from our home. He resides out there with our one lone hen. We get one egg each day.


Meanwhile, two random roosters (you know those Easter chicks that you buy & hope they are really hens but the end up beeing roosters) now live in our yard and insist on sleeping on our front porch on our garden bench. Not being bad enough, they start crowing at 2:00 a.m. every night. This causes our poor old dog to start moaning & crying. I am up most of the night listing to the noise.

Reminds me of the old days when I was a young mother. Those nights were so long and tiresome. You would get the baby fed and back to sleep and then the two year old would need a drink and someone else would be awake needing to go to the bathroom. By then, it was time to feed the baby again.


I've fed and watered those two roosters all winter. At first, when they would crow and be everywhere but where we wanted them, I would envision them in my freezer (sorry). But now I look at them and they have turned in to really silly pets. One is called "Low Rider" becasue he is so close to the ground. The other is called "Ying/Yang" because he has black feathers on his tail & the rest of him is white. What are they good for - really nothing. They are poop factories (sorry) - but it's true.


So if anyone wants a great pet or a mate for a random lonely hen - you may have Low Rider or Ying Yang. Only remember, if you have a dog - he will hate them. Their crowing at 2:00 a.m. will pierce your dog's ears & his life will be miserable. While the dog moans and the roosters crow all night, I mostly just watch Fox news & catch up on things. Then I turn to a local channel at 5:00 a.m., throw on my clothes, & get on my 1 3/4 hour commute to my so called J-O-B. No, honestly, am very thankful to have a job. It's the drive that's hard, not the job.


As I write this, the dog is moaning, the roosters continue to crow (did you know that roosters crow over, & over, & over???) Another day of life. I am always happy to get into my car with my jug of coffee, turn on my radio, and get off the farm. When I return at night, things are silent, the sun has just gone down, and I am thankful when all my "kids" are finally asleep. I fall asleep about 8:00 p.m. because I know I'll be awakened at 2:00 a.m. - like clockwork.



It's The At Once

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 7, 2010 at 5:19 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s The At Once

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Sarah Palin used an old proverb in her address to a Tea Party group (I’d like to think it was the one at Salina, Kansas - but in fact it was one in Nashville) – “If you can’t ride two horses at once, get out of the circus.” That proverb is similar in meaning or parallels another proverb which is, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."


While using Twitter to follow Palin's words on Fox News, I left out the “at once” part of the proverb the first time I posted. What an eye-opener that was to me. We live on a ranch/farm and happen to have two horses. I can ride them both – just not at once. So joining the circus is not something I could ever do. But then I looked at this whole issue another way.


One of our horses is easier to ride than the other. I can ride them both though – just not at once. But many people could not ride one of our horses. My brother-in-law was bucked off from one of them. So he better not even go to the circus, little alone work in the circus.


Sarah Palin was asked, “What’s the Palin Plan?” Her answer: “My plan is quite simple – to support those who support the foundation of our country….” She went on to say, “When it comes to National security….repeating Ronald Reagan…We win – they lose. We do all that we can to win.” Her son serves in the army.


Being from a military family (my dad was in the Navy on a ship during a war), one of my daughters was in the Navy, and another was in the Air Force, and my husband served for 20 years in the Air Force – so I appreciate Sarah’s son’s service to our country.


The news commentator said, “I can think of two words that scare liberals – “President Sarah Palin.” Her reply: “One of the issues that need to be tackled in Washington DC….don’t tell the American people that you want to work with the other party (if you don’t) – don’t fake it.” She said this causes distrust when people can’t trust what you say.


Sarah said she will take any fees given for her speeches at any Tea Party’s and donate it right back to the movement. Then there is a chance we can get her to come to my hometown, Dexter, Kansas. We have little money there. Anything is possible when you don’t forget to dream. She came to Salina, Kansas on February 5, 2009. She is coming to Wichita, Kansas in May.


In the movie, “The Doll Maker”, a conversation by Gertie in the movie was brought up where she realized that she had to have a dream to make it through the WWII time they were living in. Her family had moved to a huge city so her husband could find work in a factory during the way. Her one main dream was to save enough money to move home (back to Kentucky) and buy her own farm. The movie was made from the book, “The Doll Maker” by Harriette Arrow.


We all need a dream. My dream was similar to this character (Gerdie) in the movie. During all of our military travels, all I wanted to do was move home – back to Kansas – get a farm and live the simpler life that I had known as a child. My mother mailed me a poem that I had sent to her from North Carolina when my husband was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base entitled – “I Want To Be A Farmer”. One stanza in the poem went like this:


I want to be a farmer

That’s what I want to be

Where friends are helping neighbors

And I’m free to just be me


There was more to the poem and it described my other reasons for longing to move home and live in a rural setting. That was my dream. My mother had written on my poem at the top of the page, “Sometimes dreams really do come true!” Sometimes they come true – at once.


In life, you have to have a dream. It needs to be something that you can accomplish (even if it takes decades) and carry out once accomplished. Maybe you don't want to join the circus and ride two horses (at once), but you have to have a dream. What's yours?

Winter Rainbow

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on January 8, 2010 at 5:37 AM Comments comments (0)

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris



Why is it that one does not believe something until others tell them what they believe? Why do we have a sense of doubt? We are so cautious in our human walk of life that we might no doubt see a true miracle and allow it to pass us by. I don’t want to be that person.


I was driving home from work after a long day of serving others in my social service job. My commute finds me waking before 5:00 a.m. and starting my car for the commute at 5:45 a.m. In winter, the drive can take over two hours. Yesterday was the coldest day of the year so far with a morning temperature of 6 degrees. Snow was still on the ground and along the roadway from two weeks prior. Of course mini-snows and ice storms had deposited more of the white stuff along the way in the past two weeks. The eyes of fellow-commuters in the Quick Trips reminded me that winter is hard on everyone. It was the kind of day that we all needed a mid-winter miracle – at least I knew I did.


As I drove along Highway 77 in Kansas, I came up over a hill and noticed a winter rainbow. It was nice to have a positive distraction from the long, grinding drive home. I rarely call on my cell phone while driving, but just had to share this miracle. It was easy to hit the pre-programmed number on my phone to reach my husband. I told him I saw a rainbow. He was finishing up his job duties of running a rural water department and had had his own long, winter day of frozen water meters and such. Evidently he needed a rainbow too as he went outside of his booth station where he was checking equipment and tried to locate the rainbow that I described. He could not find it. I was sad because I wanted him to see the same radiant colors that brightened up the dull winter sky that I was seeing. He told me he suspected it was formed from ice crystals or something due to the extremely cold weather. The high that day was 10 or 12 degrees, so that might be possible. I was disappointed. It seemed like a rainbow to me.


After the call ended, my rainbow continued to shine. I had never seen anything like this before. The sky was rather dull, but a bright sun was about to set for the night. The snow clouds that we had seen for days had cleared, so there should not be a rainbow in a clear sky – but there was. This phenomenon captured my attention for the entire final stretch home. Eventually, I turned to head east and my rainbow was left behind.

I woke up this morning at 4:00 a.m. The morning news program on Fox News told of a phenomenon seen in the Nebraska skies called a “sundog”. They explained why I saw my rainbow. Below is a website that tells about this occurrence. I decided this morning that one man’s sundog is another man’s rainbow. Or perhaps one person’s rainbow is another person’s miracle. All I knew was that yesterday, I saw a winter rainbow and it was great! It has been a very long winter in Kansas. Those who must commute to get to a job have been hit especially hard this winter. Everyone in our state seems weary from battling to keep their homes clear of frozen pipes or just to try to keep warm. We all needed a mid-winter rainbow.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog (Here s the Wikipedia information about a sundog.)

Ice-Glazed Kansas Roads

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on December 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM Comments comments (0)

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Nothing makes me any sicker than missing work. I don’t enjoy the day off. It always feels like a law has been broken and I am not where I am supposed to be.


Some people may enjoy the break. They may go shopping, bake cookies, or just relax. But not me. I stew over missing work. Usually, when a person goes on vacation, these same feelings can prevail if one does not remain aware of these unwelcome thoughts. We have all been on a week-long vacation and just can’t reach the point of relaxation until the vacation is almost over.


Kansas winters are rough for commuters. Trying to keep a job each winter remains a challenge. Although they salt and sand the main roads, the country roads that we live on rarely get touched. Trying to make it out to a main highway can be a dangerous feat. I prefer to stay home.


Several years ago, I headed home on icy roads from my job in Wichita, Kansas. As I left the parking lot and headed out, I slowly maneuvered the icy highway. Soon I approached my first stoplight. I tapped my brakes, knowing that the roadway was a sheet of ice. My car eventually slid to some sort of a stop while I waited on the red light to change to green.


Right in front of me, a small car was not able to stop. A pickup crossing the intersection hit the small car, causing the pickup to flip upside down and the small car to shoot over into a nearby Quick Trip parking lot. The driver of the car was killed instantly. The people in the pickup, a man, a woman, and a small child, hung upside down as others worked to get them out of the truck.


I gripped my steering wheel as people directed traffic. I got out of the way, starting my long commute home with the memory of the wreck, its images seared in my mind’s eye. How on earth would I make it home – nearly 60 miles on a sheet of ice?


I made it about three-fourths of the trip when I had to pull over and clear off my windshield. My wipers were not keeping up with the sheets of ice that were coming down. I hated to pull off the highway because that would mean I would have to pull back on. Going straight seemed much safer than pulling my wheel one way or the other on ice. Eventually, I did make it home. By the time I arrived in our yard, my hands were locked into place around the steering wheel. I was sick from the stressful, long drive home on wintery roads.


The lifetime on icy road situations that I’ve lived through live on in my memory. We slid across the Mississippi River, crossing the long bridge on a ton of ice as semi trucks slid and jack-knifed. As we rounded the curve, our van piled full of our small children, piles of cars lie in the ditch, the remains of those who did not make the slick curve. A woman stood outside of her car that had slid into a truck, her arms outstretched as she cried for help. No one could stop to help her. Their brakes were useless on the ice. A semi truck driver took both his hands off his steering wheel as his truck spun out of control. He displayed an strange laugh as he obviously had given up any control of his big rig. Once across the bridge, we slid into a motel – trying to get a room and get off the roads. They were full, so we had to inch on to the next stop.


One Christmas Eve, we inched our way through Oklahoma, trying to get home for Christmas. We were stranded somewhere in a motel, locked off the roads due to the thick ice. We attempted to continue our trip home, only making it about 20 miles down the road before pulling off to safety. The line of cars, bumper to bumper along the freeway, were all in the same dangerous situation that we were in.

Still another time, we drove on a sheet of ice across Arizona, Texas, and on into Louisiana. Even California where we headed out from had snow and ice that year. We pulled our family car behind our van, making another Christmas move home.


I remember waiting in a Chevy Camaro, stuck in a mountainous snow drift in the middle of the night, a one-year-old bundled up in the cold car as my husband walked to the nearest house for help. Another time, we spun around in circles on an icy road, right in front of a semi, straightening out our car just in the nick of time.


Perhaps these memories and others that remain with me are the reason I prefer to stay off the highways when winter weather hits.


The news reports tell of several wrecks near the corner where my son and his wife live in Haysville, Kansas. Numerous roll-overs are reported all across Wichita and the highways that feed into the city.

Some neighbor’s car just rolled over on a rural highway south of Burden, Kansas this morning. I am sick over this thought. Our daughter is in route to her job in Wichita. She is much braver than me. I plan to encourage her to move closer to her job. An experienced commuter, I can tell her, no job is worth the stress of winter drives to work.


So many other loved ones on the roads this day. I am frozen in time over the worries of this day, praying for Spring already.


A small herd of cattle hover close to our barn, their baby calves playing in a group in the icy weather, oblivious to the danger that lurks for mankind.


May God protect all the travelers on this day.

Darkest Before Dawn

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on December 6, 2009 at 7:52 AM Comments comments (0)

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Never knew how dark 6:30 a.m. could be – until this morning.


Our Christmas lights are lit up on our house. A warm fire is crackling in the fireplace. But the deep, dark pit of the night cannot be denied. It is hard to believe that in a few short minutes, the dawn will arrive and the world will light up with another day. This pit of darkness will be just a memory soon. Yet now – at this instance – it is a deep, heavy abyss.


One phone call can change your life – your circumstance. It can turn much of your sorrow into joy. It can change your outlook, your view, your demeanor. For the unemployed, a call from an employer offering a job instantly solves many problems. A call from a community organization who has decided to offer a grant toward your project and bring a sigh of relief. A call from a fellow Christian offering support and encouragement can relieve a load of grief.


But before those types of calls arrive, the phone often stands silent in our homes. We pray often – repeating our requests, desires, and hopes to the Lord. We do not keep nagging Him because we fear He had not heard our requests, but rather we continue hoping, praying, waiting for the answer that will change our lives.


What are we to do while we are waiting? We are to keep on living. We are to keep on serving others. We are to live through the dark, silent night of our lives with the hope that the bright morning will come, and our dark night will end.


My prayer in the deep night of my soul is that when my answer comes, may I never forget the all-encompassing darkness that presently surrounds me. May I remain humble, realizing my dependence on a mighty God. May I recall (often) the feelings of my position in the universe beneath the huge hand of a Creator. I am thankful for this night – this seemingly bottomless pit of trials and sorrows. I am thankful for that still small voice that reminds me to simply breathe – to keep walking through this night.


There once was a story about a man who believed in God - when he was flying. He was on a particularly rough flight. He began to pray, as did nearly everyone on the plane as the turbulence tossed them around. He made all sorts of promises to God – if only his life could be spared. Eventually, the plane landed safely and all were back down on the ground. As one passenger turned to the man to express his gratitude to God for their safe landing, the other man who was so recently in the grips of fear responded, “That wasn’t bad at all. I knew we’d make it.” The truth was it was awful and their life lay in the balance – at the mercy of God to spare them all.


How soon we forget the circumstances that surround us in life’s dark paths. Once rescued, we often forget to praise God and to remain dependant on Him. We forget what it felt like to long so deeply for the dawn. We forget how it felt to be so full of sorrow that we had to be reminded to breathe.

Our true character is shown at the moment the light shines through. Remember as you pray for that once certain answer to a prayer, to always give praise and gratitude to the great Provider, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh Lord, please sear this darkest hour on my heart – that I may never forget its depths once rescued by the dawn.


“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalms 30:5)”


Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on December 4, 2009 at 6:36 AM Comments comments (0)

My favorite day of the week is - THURSDAY. By mid-afternoon, I feel a sort of holiday spirit take over. The knowledge that the next day is FRIDAY fills my being. By the time I stop off at a Quick Trip for a hot cup of cocoa for the long commute home - I am happy for the first time all week. Nothing feels as good as Thursday evening - Friday Eve!


I never used to feel this way when I was a real "Career Person". That mindset has long gone away. It took a while to get over the feelings of loss over a career I once had. OK - so some feelings of grief and loss are still present. But I no longer view myself as a person with a career. Now I am just a regular "Joe" - a person with a J-O-B. Maybe I was all along - before I was humbled.


This blog spot will serve as the space to post countless thoughts on grief, loss, life transitions, military family life, rural living, small town politics, and of course reflections on the goodness of God. Other topics that surely will be discussed will be working with the elderly, attending a very small church, and the long commute to work in this recession.


Time to hit the road once again! Have to keep my groove or my travel is hard. Have to beat the school busses or I'm stuck behind them at their stops. Have to be out in front of the train - or it's a 3 - 4 minute delay. Praying the whole way for safety for me and my fellow commuters. You know, you see the same people every day. Some are going to work as I am. Others are heading home. We never wave, but we meet at about the same spot each day. The employees at the same Quick Trip where I stop (pit stop) recomnize me. They now say, "See you next time!" Or some such greeting.


It's 5:45 a.m. Just enough time to brush my teeth, fill my coffee cup, and get on the road to make my hour-and-forty-five minute drive to my J-O-B. TGIF!