Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It was a giant hole! I mean a giant hole in the road! Heading to work, I generally drive over that spot at least once or maybe twice a day and now there is a giant hole there. We have had so much rain that there must have been some sort of a sink hole formed. And I mean deep and big! There were two guys working in it, and all I could see was the top of their hats.

Besides being slightly discomfiting, knowing I drive over this spot, it made me think about the way these holes are made. For some reason, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how this worked, so I asked my dad to fill me in. He explained how small pieces of the dirt were washed away bit by bit with the ground water. Eventually, there was a chasm under the ground formed and when it reached close enough to the surface, the road fell in.
I may not be much for mechanical thinking (the thingy that connects to the other thingy and makes that stuff run is my idea of a technical answer), but my brain related it to life. How often do we have little bits and pieces washed away until there is a hole right under the surface? And then ca-boom, the road that we have traveled over so often. I can think of how this could be a negative thing, something that we haven’t dealt with eats away at us until we find ourselves standing in a hole, wondering what happened. I can also think of how it is an opportunity as well. I mean, think of the potential pot holes that we need to fix so that we don’t have to be standing in the bottom of a gigantic car eating hole!
So, then I thought about pot holes in my life. I wonder if I have ground water of a different kind seeping through and I need to deal with it. Perhaps we all do.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Enough – Is it Enough?

It was a frustrating week. I was trying to pull together something involving a group of people and it seemed that the biggest inclination was to avoid eye contact and hope they didn’t get called on. Others tried to provide encouragement, “well, that’s better than if nothing was done.” I know they really meant to encourage and I thank them for that. However, my frustration was and is still there. Then, just like a seesaw, I find myself bouncing over to the other view point – how often have I fallen short of what I should or could have done? Many times. So I hold my tongue a while longer.

I think the thing that bothers me about that statement though is, is it really acceptable to put forth only good enough in front of God? Isn’t that a bit like taking the best sacrifice lamb and holding it back only to put something a little less forth? Part of me just wants to fume, to fuss and complain. Part of me wants to throw it all up in the air and toss the paper and files to someone else – you deal with them! Part of me wants to fall to my knees and plead for forgiveness for the times I have driven someone else to this frustration.
At the end of the day, God is able to take this less than and use it as if it were the best. I pray he does.

I wrote this and then a few hours later - someone called and that took care of another piece of the puzzle.  God really does take care of all the parts and pieces, even when we can't offer our best.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Southern Silk and Steel

Seven AM on a Saturday morning, nothing is on the television, and I’m not ready to get up. I’m not ready to get up because we had storms last night. My dog doesn’t care for storms and turns into a quivering mess with a heavy rain. She must share the impending storm threat with me, thus cutting back on sleep time. So, with eyes that would close with very little convincing, I found myself up and watching Steel Magnolias. I do like the movie; I just don’t watch it very often because it makes me cry.

Even in the midst of a sleep filled haze, there are some lines in that movie script which cut through and are just too good to pass up. One is by Ouiser, it goes something like “I am a southern woman; I am supposed to wear big hats, ugly clothes and grow tomatoes. I don’t make the rules.” I love that! I want a big hat and to grow tomatoes (though I don’t care to eat them). But, for some reason summer means to grow tomatoes and wear hats. I suppose that that rule is one I recognize as well.
Another is when the women are interacting at the funeral. It’s one of those laugh and cry moments. First is the mother, she is trying to put on a good face for those around her. We do that don’t we? I can relate. I put on a good face sometimes too. “How are you?” “Fine…” If they don’t push further, I don’t provide more – why would I, they are not really looking for an answer beyond that at the surface level. But, amongst friends (and guys I’m sorry to leave you out, but I’m not sure that you really go about this the same way), amongst women, we have a way of taking something that is breaking us in half and saying we are fine. But, when we are in the middle of a group of women we trust, the barriers come down and something extraordinary happens.
A thread of silk, the only strength that she has left is to lay her heart, broken and bleeding on the floor with a thread of hope as the only source of strength. But, then comes another woman, who adds a layer, and then another and another. Each pulls out a thread of strength and places it on the table, made of the finest of skills. Each is a different color, each a different tinsel weight, but together they form a fabric that is soft and strong. So, the mother at the funeral, she is finally surrounded by these women, and in a moment with brave and angry honesty, she places her thread out. The others, then in a moment of comic humor, toss out their life lines as well. They laugh and cry, and then the raw wound begins healing. The bleeding is being staunched by the silk of feminine strength and friendship. Steel magnolias indeed.
Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad way to begin the day after all.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Those Crazy Forefathers

The movie about John Adams came out last year and being a lover of history, I had to see it. I’m glad I did, though I did close my eyes for the more squeamish parts. As the Fourth of July comes again, my thoughts turn to the men and women who made such an impact on making this country a survivable independent entity.

What a risk this group was taking. To defy the most powerful country in the world at the time, to go up against what was the best trained army, the best navy. To defy in such a public way the expectations and political structure of the British nation, was to invited disaster upon you. For some of these leaders, there were near escapes from being caught. A fragile structure of a country was forming. It must have been a frightening burden, realizing that the way they arrange governments, groups, and representatives was setting a precedent for generations to come.
They weren’t a perfect bunch, those crazy forefathers – they made mistakes, threw tantrums, and had grand dreams. But, they pulled together a fiber here and there, a tissue thin fabric which was layered over and over and over through years. It is to their credit that we have never experienced some street filled with tanks and young soldiers.
It’s not a perfect country, but they had a dream and the fortitude to carry it out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grow Up

A fan of Disney movies, Peter Pan is right up there, especially the one with Robin Williams. They are flying all around, a then a great food fight. Or the song, Young at Heart, crooned by Frank Sinatra, those words are wonderful as well.

I just celebrated my birthday. Birthdays really don’t bother me. The only one that really has is 25, because it was a quarter of a century mark – which led to a few minutes of thinking. But, all in all – they really don’t bother me. I did receive the inevitable question several times though, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I have to grow up?
No, not the Peter Pan type of staying away from growing up, where the actions and thoughts are childish, I don’t really want that. I think it’s more about being Young at Heart. Let me take the lessons learned, continue to dream, and still hold joy in my life – young at heart! Now that really doesn’t answer the question though. Let’s see, I want to be a friend, a woman, a Christ follower, a daughter, a cousin. I want to be accomplished in my profession, I want to be an author, an artist, a philosopher. I want to be someone who has the nerve to explore and the wisdom to know how to do that. I want to be a help, a leader, and a source of inspiration. I want to be creative, analytical, and independently dependent. I want to teach and to learn. I can’t grow up right away – I have a long list of things to do along the way!

Friday, June 25, 2010


I was mowing last Saturday and well, we haven’t had much sun. So, in my moment of inspiration to get a dose of Vitamin D, I doused my ball cap with water and headed out. Sunscreen? No, I want that vitamin D. Bedsides we have had buckets and buckets of water pouring from the sky lately, so the sun felt good. Tennis shoes, shorts, tank top and a water bottle in my pocket… out I went.

       A couple hours later, in I came…
With a sunburn! I didn’t notice it then, but by that evening, I was slathering my arms in aloe lotion. How I didn’t just have a semi-permanent green cast to my skin by then, I don’t know. Now, it’s been nearly a week and the peeling has begun. Yes, it’s kind of gross. But, it really hard not to just peel of those little strips of skin, then wish for a microscope to see it better. I do have the good grace not to peel in public. But, if I put on a sudden burst of speed, I’m sure I would leave a small cloud of skin cells in my path.
Okay – next time, sunscreen!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shadows and Freedom

Have you ever noticed how two thoughts which seem unrelated can wind themselves together, twining this way and that to form a vine? I had two thoughts and over the last few days, they have sort of twined together.

I live in a small town; it’s a nice little town on the river and home to several large companies. It’s a typical small town with typical small town structures. There are restaurants and a fire department, homes and schools. I enjoy during the school year watching children walk to the elementary school as I drive to work. In the summer, it is replaced with afternoon skateboard and bicycles. An ice cream truck can be heard often during this hot time. I know my neighbors names and they are lovely neighbors. It’s not a perfect town; there are problems inherent in every area. There is crime and poverty which I wish wasn’t there. It is the longest I have ever lived anywhere, over 12 years! It is the longest by far (by over 8 years). So, I have lived here long enough to know that if I go straight at that one road and turn at another, that I will pass a patch of beautiful black-eyed-susans. And, it is an odd reassurance to know that my pharmacist, who knows my name, can also quote Shakespeare. I know that there are many who feel stifled here, they look around and see the limits. One such asked me not to long ago why I didn’t just take off and declare “freedom”. But, I’m not sure that that is what freedom looks like to me.
The other was just a moment, just a few seconds. On my way home from work, I needed to stop and run an errand. I drove up the street and the city jail was directly in front of me. I saw a shadow of a large bird move across the small high panes of glass in the jail. I wondered in that ephemeral moment if that was a sad reminder to the men and women in the jail. If that shadow passed through the window, the shadow of a bird epitomizing freedom, passed through the window, would it be something that rips their heart a bit?
The freedom of a bird, the freedom of choices, freedom to be and do and live and love – what is freedom? Is freedom the bird that flies from spot to spot? The sparrow which alights outside my window and splashes in the water with great abandon has a type of freedom. When my dog gets up she has a day full of naps and playtime and running, a different kind of freedom. I do have freedom. I have freedom to make a go of my job or not, to make a friend or not, to be pleasant or have an attitude, to work hard or hardly work. I also have a freedom to be what I was meant to be. Not the meant to be of romantic Victorian novels and the fates. But, meant to be as in the gifts and tasks and plans God has for me that are just for me, and those for you that are just for you. When I spurn those gifts, I feel more like the prisoner watching the bird out the window. Instead, I want to be more like the sparrow, splashing about with joy and abandon in the water. Thus, the two thoughts twine together and form something a bit more coherent, a bit stronger, as I define freedom for me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Super Hero

I will readily admit being fan of super hero movies, especially the classic batman with the cartoon words like POW and BAM that flash across the screen. But, even the more recent movies like The Shadow and the Phantom are something I enjoy. There is something so enjoyable about the idea of someone who is gifted with a special ability and then goes about intense training to learn to fully use the skills for the betterment of society.
Two little boys were playing in the nursery at church last Sunday. Amidst play dough and sand box toys, I overheard a conversation. These two little boys were discussing how they were going to be super heroes when they grew up. It would have been the epitome of un-cool to coo over them at that moment and declare them both “the cutest little super hero boys,” so I restrained myself. But, I loved the conversation none the less.
I loved how these two fair haired boys were discussing this with calm and candid confidence. Not yet old enough to have had their dreams of super hero professions dashed by reality and grown up knowing in that those things do not really exist. Instead, I hope those boys do become super heroes. I hope that they realize that they have been gifted with special gifts, unique to them and their purposes set upon them and in them by God. Most likely, these gifts will not come with special suits and masks, thought at that moment it would inspire another burst of really cute-isms that the boys would probably declare is gross.
The thing is, is that it reminded me that we tend to declare some gifts or skills more special than another, but each are important! We should all aspire to be a super hero. I know I want to (especially if there is a cool car and cape that comes with the job)!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

High Winds and Rainbows

Recently a friend reposted something on her blog (which I highly recommend because she writes as if she is the best friend and neighbor you never had and really wanted), but she inspired me to write about something in my life.

We have had quite a few storms here lately, torrential downpours where the streets gain a layer of silt filled dirt flowing down them in small torrents of water. Lightning has pierced clouds and trees, lightening up the night brilliantly with sharp crackles of light. Then, thunder that has rolled follows. There go the tornado sirens again. I’m to the point where I’m just keeping some things in the basement in preparedness so I don’t have to gather them each time. One afternoon this week, after the storm clouds had passed and it was starting to lighten back up, a friend called on her way home from work.
“Did you see it?”
“See what?”
“The rainbow!”

I stepped outside and saw the sky filled with a beautiful rainbow. What a wonderful promise God gives us in a rainbow. Noah was given that sign as a reminder, something like a great big visual sign post that says stop and pay attention. The rainbow was God’s personal promise never to flood the earth like he did in the great flood.
As for me, I have never been a huge fan of storms. I don’t like the unsettled feeling I have with them, not knowing which was the storm will turn or what will come of it. But, the rainbows that sometimes come after are a poignant reminder to me of God’s promise. Not only to Noah, but how he used a rainbow as a sign to me that he was there, present in a stormy time.
I stood at the door of a dorm at the University of Southern Mississippi. I had been there for a week and it was one of the worst weeks of my life. I had never had panic attacks before, but I did there. I won’t go into the long story of it all, but needless to say, I had had an exhausting and anxiety filled week. I was there just for a week for drum camp before the start of school. This was the college I had chosen to go to. Upon arrival, I could feel panic wash over me. I’m not sure why it started then, but it did. A trip to the campus nurse made it worse as I was given something for motion sickness which made me – that’s right – sick. A few animal crackers and cans of Coke were all I had that week, and then a can of chicken broth which tasted wonderful at the time. I remember laying in the bed, feeling very weak and exhausted and crying. In between the crying, I would try to read my Bible, I was seeking for solace where I knew I could find it. On the last full day there before I headed to meet my family in transit to their new home in Ohio, there was a storm. As I said, I’ve never been a fan of storms, but I was so numb by this point, I didn’t care much. It was after that storm, when the dark blue sky stopped throwing rain and thunder and lightning at us, that I looked out. A rainbow! A beautiful, bright rainbow! That storm had passed, but I felt like it had stormed just for me so that I could see the rainbow. It was a reminder to me of God’s promise. I may feel that I’m drowning, but I’ll be safe from the flood.
That was years ago. Many days and storms have passed since then. But, each rainbow I see holds a special meaning for me.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I remember as a little girl my mom saying that I was going to meet my new cousins. I don’t remember even thinking twice about it, “okay.” From that day on, they were no more and no less family than anyone else that was family. I am an only child and figure out I get to have at least one good oddity just because I’m forced to be the oldest, youngest, and middle – all at one time! As an only child, most people assume that I have a small family. Wow, are they wrong. My family is large enough that I’m not sure how many people it actually entails – yes, I’m serious.

The thing about family is that it is very important to me. It has grown and changed over the years. There have been new babies to hold, that smells like talcum powder and spit up on you at least once. There are good-byes that have been said, with many tears as funerals are performed and the family gathers in once again to give and get support. I think about the people who have become family, “kin” who are truly family now. I’m so thankful for them!
One of these people I have been remembering is like a sister to me. As the fourth of July approaches, the sounds of the patriotic songs bring back thoughts of sitting in Pensacola listening to the orchestra. Family is important to me. They can be loud and different, but somehow in the midst of the craziness – I fit in.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is almost here! I thought I’d take just a moment to point out that I have great parents! We have been through multiple moves, ups, downs, field trips, marching band contests, and going in and out of the house with dogs. I have lots of great parent memories.

But, it’s almost Father’s Day and I just wanted to send a special shout out for my dad. He’s always been there for me.
Love you DAD!
A few years ago, I started hearing about a ministry focusing on men – husbands and dads in particular. I was a bit skeptical. Okay, it was more like all the years of women’s lib that has been taught suddenly sprang into play – where is the teaching for the women? I felt like the men were being valued higher. I still would push for a ministry based on women, (after all the older women are to teach the younger), but I have learned from the lives of some friends – that the relationship that a father and husband can have within his family is tremendous. Daughters, well we tend to look for someone like our dads. Dads, that mean you have a role to play in your generation but your children as well. I’m thankful for my dad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weak Strength

Someone commented to me the other day that she knew she was weak. Weak? I felt the frustration rise to the top - you are not weak! What a lie that is. What a lie we are fed, when we are stuck in moments of indecision and paralyzed with fear. There is a little voice that creeps in. “You are weak…” You know what is weak? Weak is someone who victimizes someone else. Weak is someone who bullies. Weak is someone who uses words to cut and slice and hide behind, especially if it laying guilt and blame on. Weak is not taking responsibility.

Strength, this woman, this friend is incredibly strong and brave. She doesn’t know it. That makes me sad. She doesn’t realize it and that makes me sad. She is being fed lies that she is weak, and that makes me mad. Women who go about their life, doing what they have to to make each day work, they are displaying strength. Women who can display grace under pressure cookers of life are displaying strength. Women who put a child’s needs first are displaying a strength. Women who can laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time are displaying strength. It takes strength to rely on others, to ask for help, to admit that something is hard. It takes strength to step out and decide to face each day – one day at a time.
If you know a woman today who thinks she is weak, give her a hug and help her find her strength.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pillar Road signs and Protectors

I have been reading in Exodus recently, getting caught up in the story of Joseph. Then, as it progresses, I just can’t put this down as the people’s story is told. Something struck me the other day as I was reading. Exodus 13 and 14 refer to the Lord moving in front of the Israelites as a pillar of fire and pillar of cloud. If you aren’t familiar with that, this is the part where the plagues have occurred in Egypt. There has been severe impact on the land, and Pharaoh has finally reached the point where he wants the Israelites out.

The people were slaves for a period of time in Egypt, long enough that those were living probably didn’t experience being something other than slaves. They were now moving out in a different direction. If can be frightening to move into something new, to make changes. For them, I would imagine it would be doubly difficult as they also had enormous psychological baggage to overcome. So, it strikes me as so interesting that God went ahead of the people, “in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.” I wonder how much heat a pillar of fire puts off or how much shade a pillar of cloud offers. Either way, it would be a comfort to see such a prominent road sign in front. “Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” The Lord provided a clear sign of where to go, and then stayed there leading the people. By staying in front of them, he provided a visual reminder of his presence, that they were to literally follow him.
I love that vision! How many times have I wondered if I should turn right or left, so caught up in the possibilities around me that I have forgotten to look at the pillar of fire and cloud right in front of me. I’m so thankful that God provides us direction. A pillar of fire, that would provide light, but I don’t know how much light it would cast over a distance, how bright it was in the dark of a desert in night. It reminds me when things seem dim and dark to look for that pillar of fire to light the way, letting me see one step at a time.
Things changed as the Israelites traveled. Pharaoh changed his mind, and started pursuing the people with the force of his army. The pillar that had been in front of the people moved “from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long.” The people had their way set before them. They had their direction, they knew the way they were supposed to go. But, there was a threat coming behind them and the Lord moved to protect them from that threat. It would be easy to become distracted at that point, to focus on what is going on behind you instead of front of you. Their protector was now behind, guarding, which meant that the people needed to be brave enough to set out on the direction they had been given. Sometimes, we need to do the same. We have something which we need protected from and it may feel that God is doing just that, but not standing in front of us as well. Perhaps the way has already been given, we now need the courage to move forward, knowing we are protected.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is it Possible?

Is it possible to love our enemies? Is it something we can do? Even with God’s help, can we really make a change in our natural inclinations to seek revenge? There was a book I read not too long ago which brought out that question, is it possible? I know that God told us to love our enemies. It didn’t say pretend they aren’t our enemies or act like’s all okay. But, love our enemies. The question comes back – is it possible?
The book I’m referring to, Tea with Hezbollah was focused as the title indicates on the Middle East. However, on a recent trip back home to Kentucky I was reminded of a different instance of this which gives me hope. There is a park next to a reservoir, the water is beautiful, surrounded by cliffs, trees, and is a favorite boating spot. The park looks out over the docks, the activity on the lake from picnic tables under pavilions. A few years ago, driving down the road, passing the entrance to the park I saw a sign which startled me. A small yard sign had been posted with an arrow, Hatfield and McCoy dinner. The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s were two families that were feuding for quite some time. There were people killed on both sides, people who were fearful on both sides. Revenge, hate, and fear were nurtured for far too long. No, it’s not at the scale or the length of time which the factions in the Middle East are facing. But, there were generations involved in this fight.
I had a chance to talk to someone about that, she was in a family on one side of that fight and grew up learning watchfulness. Her father made a choice to not bring the feud into his generation if he could help it. Eventually, there was a tentative peace for this family. Then, there is a time where these people gather together to eat, visit, and have children playing together. There was healing going on that day. It makes me think that it is possible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bathroom Acoustics

Once upon a time, a lifetime ago, I was going to be a band director or music teacher. If you ever have the chance to spend time in a music conservatory, you will find at least one section of hallway lined with tiny little rooms. In each room you will hear different musical sounds coming out, someone banging on a piano a few doors down, a vocalist trying out a new aria, a cellist or flautist running through scales. These little practice rooms do a fairly decent job of keeping the majority of the volume within their walls, though it does leak out in tiny tides of sound into the hallway and the neighboring areas.

The thing about the tiny little practice rooms, is that the acoustics are often really interesting. With so much very close wall space, the sounds will bounce around. So, materials may be added to the wall to flatten the sound back out. What fun is that? If you really want to have a great spot to sing and hear what it sounds like, go find a bathroom.
A cement block bathroom is the best, all that sound and it just is like a ping pong ball from side to side. A timid voice will sound full, a full voice will sound orchestrated. I tend to sing quietly most places, not even thinking about it. But, when I walk into a bathroom that has great acoustics, it’s hard not to just let go and sing loudly. If you ever walk into a bathroom and hear someone singing, don’t be alarmed – they may just be trying out the acoustics.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I noticed a few days ago, that I am healing. I had a bad leg injury several months ago, which left me couch bound and hobbling for quite some time. What happened? Well….

September of last year, I was in Ottawa and fell on a cobblestone sidewalk. Falling, and finding myself having a much closer view of the concrete than I had wished for, I pushed myself back up and found a low wall to sit on. Breathe in, breathe out, that is all I concentrated on for a few minutes. Finally, I steeled myself to look at the ankle which was apparently confusing itself with a golf ball holder. I made it back to Iowa wearing a borrowed ankle boot protector thing.
Physical therapy, a different boot, and very flat shoes followed. But, just this last week after walking about five miles, I was sore the next few days. I could feel the muscles complaining. Complaining, but not injured, a little sore but not debilitated. It was a realization which hit me again, my leg is healing!
From pain that took my breath away and led the world to dim before my eyes to a small complaint, it didn’t occur overnight but it did occur. Healing from bad sprains (I won’t go into the more gross injury parts), healing from emotional hurts, from hopes that have been dashed or plans that have been crashed, healing does occur. It is not quick, not overnight, but gradually one day – you realize that you just walked five miles and feel great!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spin a Yarn

I have enjoyed several activities with needle and thread over the years. Cross stitch leaves me with cute little designs on cloth, poked fingers, and I tend to vary from the patterns. Basically, I do that better if I can make it up as I go along. Crochet was fun, I made various odds and ends, scarves and some wraps. I tried to knit, my friend taught me a basic stitch, but it seemed that every time I would pick it up again, my hands would refuse to learn how to remember.

I found a loom that you can knit from and have been enjoying that thoroughly. A few blankets, wraps, and scarves later, I’m finding that it is very relaxing for me. Well, that and apparently everyone is getting scarves for Christmas. Ha!
The thing is, I found yarn several months ago on sale. I was very excited, it was the fluffy and soft kind and in colors I liked. I went to the checkout and I hear this guy behind me talking to his friend about how someone must really be depressed. Since when did yarn mean depression? Doesn’t a yarn generally mean creation of a story or creation of something else? What an odd thought that it means depression.
Anyway, I have been working on this scarf, a new style for me. The ends have a more finished look and everything else has a slightly rawer look. But, what I really like is that there are green glass leaves knitted into the whole thing. Nearly matching the color of the scarf, it should be a subtle effect, but kind of fun. I guess when it comes down to it; I need something in my hand to do, be it yarn or thread or a book, or even a laptop to write on. I don’t sit still well without something else to do. I wonder what else I could take up. Drawing perhaps or painting? I don’t think carving would work – I am much too much of a klutz for that. So many options, options that I could spin a yarn about.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Summer – the word evokes a flurry of responses in me. I live near an elementary school, and notice that for the children making their way back and forth, they seem to have picked up a new spring in their steps. Summer is freedom; freedom from school and homework, to have time to sleep in or get up way to early and play outside until way too late. Summer time and the living is easy.... the words from George Gershwin float on the too still warm air as I seek out the comfort of shade. Lightning bugs and the sounds of night cricket sonnets fill the air as much as the light from the stars and moon. The sounds of leaves in the wind, they strike me as if they actually are laughing with the pure delight of receiving a cooler breeze than those of us with two feet stuck firmly on the earth. Summer is sun dresses and sandals, sheer silky scarves wrapped around your neck and lawn chairs. Summer is the splash of the garden hose and the smell of fresh sun warmed strawberries. Summer is the bliss of walking into the air conditioning and being able to snuggle under a quilt rather than sweating buckets on top of all sheets while fans are running. Summer is baby birds that don’t fly very well yet, are slightly mottled and now stand next to their momma’s while waiting to be fed rather than waiting in the nest. Summer is the sound of the riverboat horns as they approach each other.

I have a lot of really wonderful summer memories. I have played in sprinklers, mud, and trees. I remember making up plays with neighborhood compatriots who apparently either was willing to share the flare for the story telling or just did what the bossy neighbor girl told them. A white long haired dog named Bo Bo used to stand on our picnic table, and wait for us to come and pet him. He appreciated the attention as one of those good neighborhood dogs. He did not appreciate it when my mother tried to use some flea killer on him. With hurt feelings, he did not come back for a week. I remember summer vacations, especially ones in the back of a big green van. It had a bed in the back and I loved lying on that bed, and having it completely covered with whatever project I was working on at the time. I would let myself roll from side to side as we went around corners and watch other drivers out of the back windows. I remember many summers of band and sweating on the side of a football field. It seemed a great accomplishment to learn a few new steps, a few new notes, which we knew would be needed come fall and competitions. The accomplishment seemed worth the sacrifice of our summer hours, our sweat, blood, and yes – tears. I remember trips to stay with my grandparents. Swimming at the campground with one and all sorts of messy projects with another.
I look at this summer and as it is my first one without either being in school, preparing for school, or completely burned out from school, and I wonder what I should do with myself this summer. There is work of course. But, that is to support life, not life itself. What should I do? Read a few new books? Of course! Three are on order, two Geoffrey of Monmouth books and one biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I have considered lying down on the driveway at night while the pavement is still warm, but figure the neighbors would all think I had gone completely buggy. Oh well, I may do that anyway. There are flowers to picked, pictures to be taken, birds to listen to. Trips to plan, friends to visit, and time to enjoy the antics of the dogs. There is my Bible to read, my time in prayer, and Character Camp at church (like a VBS). This summer is unique. It will never come again. I feel that I need to dig down deep and plant something here that is memorable, that will be recalled someday like my grandmother’s snowball bushes. A lasting memory that comes back to life with a fragrance or sight.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nonsensical Trio

Okay – I warn you upfront, today is just a nonsensical bit of writing. It’s just the way I look at the world.

There are lots of animals that live in the back yard. The live in the front yard too, but the dogs seem to think that they are really only allowed to live in the back yard and bark at them until they resume living in their appropriate space. A rabbit lives in the yard with a little white furry stripe on his rump. I love that it makes him, Peter Rabbit, so easily identifiable. When he was just a tiny thing, he liked to come close and listen to people talk. I’m not kidding, he would sit just a few feet away and if you kept talking and didn’t move to suddenly, he would be quite happy to just hop right around you. Perhaps he was trying to English through immersion. Yesterday morning, Peter Rabbit, now much older and quite grown up, was in the front yard. The dogs of course were announcing that the “attack bunny” was out of his space and should be chased back to the back yard. I went out and tried to shoo him away rather than just opening the door and let the dogs go into their flight of fancy. “The big woofy woofy dogs are coming out; you need to move along someplace safer.” I swear that rabbit pfft’d at me and then hopped quite preciously back into the back yard.
Three crows have also taken up residence in the last few days. I like their substantial size and the way that they seem to just soak in the light around them and be velvety in the shade and shiny in the sun. There was just one, and being in the yard for a short time leads to an animal having a name. They must have names. So, I was thinking Whitman. But, then two other crows showed up and I am at a complete loss as to what to call them.
Deer like to gather in in the evening, eating corn and seed. Mainly though, the dark faced doe who stands and eats corn, with little corn bits stuck to her nose. She is beautiful, sleek and shiny and looks so healthy. She watches in the window from her dinner buffet place. I wonder if she wonders about us, if she is observing us as we observe her.
They are beautiful to watch, taking on characteristics of their own. Personality abounds in these furry creatures who live here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Smell of Books

I love to read. As a little girl, if I didn’t have a book with me at breakfast, I read the cereal box. Admittedly it would easier to just download my books, but there is something about the way they smell, the feel of the pages. Reading, especially in the bathtub and right before I fall asleep, I get to soak in the words of different authors. To Kill a Mockingbird has been stealing my sleep lately, as I become caught up in the world of Maycomb, Alabama and the Finch family. How I love the look into Mayella Ewell and her geraniums, Miss Maudie’s azaleas and lane cakes, even Mr. Arthur Radley who watches his children. Or getting lost in Tolkien’s words as I journey into Rivendell and wish to linger there.

I finished To Kill a Mockinbird yesterday, reliving the tension of the last chapter once again. But, now what to read? There are so many books that I want to read, I don’t even know where to start. Melville, Whitman, Homer, Michner, history, non-fiction, fiction, biography, novel, historical novel, poetry, iambic pentameter, fantasy, translated, multi-cultural, religious…. The list goes on and on!
I need to make a decision, and am just not sure where to even begin. I’m open to suggestions and ideas. Tennyson maybe?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nurse, Hold, Carry… and Release

Have you ever noticed the way we use the words grudge, problem, and burden? We nurse grudges, hold problems close, and carry burdens. Ever wonder why? I mean, doesn’t that seem a bit backwards? You would think that we would want to shun grudges, dismiss problems, and rid ourselves of burdens.

Okay, so it’s not that easy to let go of these things. It’s not so easy to release those things. And at other times I think we, myself included, are not even realizing that we are doing such things. Nursing a grudge, holding it close and nurturing it; I’ve been there and done that. It’s not easy to let those go, especially if it is something that has been nursed. Problems held close, repeated over and over in the mind and heart until they are overwhelmed and the problems are so bloated that they are completely out of perspective. Burdens are carried, moved with us from place to place. We get up and move and pick up our burden and carry it along with us.
Take a deep breath. No, really – a deep breath, way down in the bottom of your lungs. Then, hold it for a few moments, then relax and let it out. Feel the relaxing in your muscles as the air goes wooshing out, the pressure release? For me, that is a pleasant feeling. What if we let go of our grudges, problems, and burdens in the same way? Wooosh and we release it to God, who can carry our burdens and let us go on without having to carry all of that with us. What a release!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Light in Your Eyes

I had an eye exam yesterday, just a yearly check of eye health. I can’t say that I mind going, I happen to like seeing clearly. They have all sorts of very cool tools, one of which is a camera that takes pictures of your eyes. The photos were taken, one for each eye and then they quickly downloaded onto the computer screen sitting on the nearby desk. Each photo looked something like the sun. There were areas that reminded me of where solar flares shade different colors, where veins of burning lights flash across the star.
Have you ever heard someone talk about the light in their eyes, the brightness of their personality and spirit, energy and drive? I can’t say that I normally consider that it really does look a bit like a sun in those same eyes. There are lots of parallels like that out there, light in your eyes with eyes that look like suns, daisies that have centers that look like tiny stars, fireflies that dance light filled dances in the grasses of summer.
Look for the light in someone’s eyes, for the light around you. It’s a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You’ve Got Mail

One of my favorite movies was on last night, “You’ve Got Mail,” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I love the movie, the word play and the characters. And those words that are in the title, “You’ve Got Mail.” Isn’t it such a nice thing to open up your e-mail and find a message waiting there for you from a friend? But I think it’s the character of Kathleen Kelly that I like most of all. I understand her musings on the bouquets of sharpened pencils, having a view of the world which is colored by her own perspective. Mostly I think it is that this character walks about, not oblivious that others may not see the world as she does, but at the end content to be herself and walk in her own shoes.

I love that, because I find that too often I worry about what others think. I try not to, but at times I vary somewhere between obliviousness towards others perceptions of me, simply not caring, and then caring a bit too much. Oh, not caring in a way to persuade me from my principles, but when you have a twinge of what others are thinking. It’s the ability to twirl, to read and soak in knowledge, to sing, to smell daisies, to read or write e-mails. When I am standing out on the driveway, warmed by the sun and under a clear night sky, I can twirl and sing, or just sit down and watch the dogs play. It is times like that, the moments when I am happily oblivious of what others may be thinking. I can’t say that I can always twirl, sing, and smell daisies (and bouquets of sharpened pencils), but I do like to as much as possible.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Sunday is a great day to go to church, to have some family time, or get a few things done before the new week begins. Personally, I am also a fan of Sunday afternoon naps.

It’s not often though that I take a Sunday to rest, just rest. So this last Sunday my main goal was to rest. We live at such a break neck speed, constantly adding input from media, friends, connecting in the instant with messages, e-mail, facebook, and chat. Work can spill over onto our weekends, leaving us even less time to rest.
So, this last Sunday, I was kicking back and relaxing. It’s important to unplug every once in a while.
I’ll pick this back up next week…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

For Such a Time as This

The queen, decked out in the beautiful garments, hair done, poised on the moment of destiny – for “such a time as this.” The cry was a rallying one for Esther, but it can be for me too.

Going back to Ohio and Kentucky always leaves me a bit off balance. After moving into different areas as I was growing up, I appreciate having a clear idea of where the grocery store is, that my pharmacist knows my name, a church, good neighbors, and enough understanding of where things are at that I can navigate through the area. But my extended family is around eight hours away. Which has led me to ask God many times, “Why am I in Iowa?”.
The thing about it, is that I don’t really feel that I can leave right now either. I have a good job, friends, a life here. Most days I don’t even think about it, but every once in a while I miss people and think how far they are. So, why Iowa? What if the answer is as simple as “For such a time as this.” Of course, this means that there is more than a mere implication that a purpose and plan are behind life. What a wonderful thing it is to have a plan and a purpose, for a time that is important.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Relay for Life

If you ever have a chance to attend a Relay for Life event, I would highly recommend it. It’s not the best speaker you may ever hear or perhaps as entertaining as the most wonderful concert, but the people are worth listening too. What the Relay for Life is a platform for storytelling, for people who have walked through similar situations to walk laps together. One lap is for survivors, another for caregivers, a lap in silence for memories, a lap to celebrate the eventual defeat of cancer.

I think one of the thing about these events that always strikes me is that this is a moment of leveling. There are very young and very old, those who have been free of cancer for many years and those who are still fighting. But, everyone who walks the first lap of survival, everyone who walks the second lap of caregivers, everyone who walks for fundraising or just to show solidarity, they all have a story to tell. From the individual who is still feeling the effects of chemo or another prescriptive treatment, to the family and friends who have stood with another in the fight, they are all part. Relaying together, walking together, it is such a wonderful reminder that we are not alone in the fight. There are others who are walking on the track with us, others who have lost sleep with worry, who have undergone surgery, who have waited in the waiting room.
I love the signs you see when you walk in to the track. Reading left to right, you see Celebrate, Remember, Fight in bold and bright colors. I walked the track with my mom as part of the caregivers lap after watching my dad watch the survivors lap. I celebrate the days I have, I celebrate the medical research that has allowed him to still be here and part of my life. I celebrate the life lessons we have learned as a family. Not easy lessons to be sure, but good ones. I celebrate the friendships made, the hugs that have been shared. I celebrate that I can now walk with someone else through this and be a little more understanding, not just empathetic. I remember the look of my dad in the hospital. I remember when a lap around the hospital floor was a great victory. I remember the days of tears and worry. I remember the prayers that were shared, the phone calls and cards, e-mails and messages. I remember the friends and family who showed such amazing support. I remember capable nurses and doctors, home nurses and even nurse friends who leant their support and expertise. I have been part of the fight, fighting against infection by washing door knobs and phones. I have been part of the fight by demanding, sometimes on the verge of tears and fury that a positive attitude be kept. I have been part of the fight to demand of myself to be a help where I can.
Let’s Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back – relay on together.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Heart Condition

There was a lot of talk of blueberries on the trip, rich with antioxidants to allow the brain food it needs. There are lots of foods that are reputed to be good for the brain, good for the heart. Heart health is important, but there are a couple of different kinds of health that could be referred to under that heading. The physical heart, the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body is one. The emotional heart, as the seat of emotion, perspective, personality; that is another.

As I meet people in one location, and think of people I know in another location, I think of if the people in one spot would accept those in another. For instance, would the people I went to school with in college accept those who I work with or go to church with or befriend? Would those who have more than the surveyed norm accept others who have considerably less? Would those who have a different accent accept someone who sounds different, uses different terms of local vernacular?
Sometimes, I think we have a heart condition that makes us a little more reluctant to see beyond the initial differences. We grow stiff and established in our ways, set in our patterns until we find it hard to move and stretch, to encompass other things that seem new or different. What a wonderful heart condition it would be to have a wide open heart, to be careful and caring with each other, a heart condition of love.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meant to Move

A few days after a trip, with a stormy night making yesterday feel even longer, about three o’clock in the afternoon I wanted to go home and go to bed, getting some sleep. Oh sleep!!! Where is my bed? Can I just lie my head down on a conference table someplace? A banana, nearly green like I like it, and a glass of water helped. But, I knew that when I got home from work that I would need to help mow. I don’t really mind mowing on days like yesterday, with a nice breeze and without it being very hot. In fact, it’s good exercise and thinking time.

Pulling into the driving, my head was set back against the headrest. The door opened, the warm air rushed in and I just sat there. Oh, I just want to sleep. Must change clothes, must put on tennis shoes…must go hug the pillow and curl up for a quick nap. The curling up lasted seconds, the mowing started. With a water bottle tucked into my pocket, I headed out to mow. At first, my feet were dragging along with my sheer force of being forced too. Continuing on it became easier, energy came even as the grass grew shorter.
We are meant to move. We gain energy with movement, exercise, exertion. It seems contrary and rest is certainly an important and necessary thing. Progressing along, stirring in our path, we are meant to move. Step out and let’s dance down the path, or at least make ourselves finish the mowing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yesterday, I traded my tennis shoes for black heels, kaki cargo shorts for grey slacks, and a tank top for a blouse and jacket. Hair done, make-up done, heading out the door and to work. I could be in Kentucky! I found myself stating that several times throughout the day, mainly to myself and the computer. Well, more at the senders of whatever e-mail I was reading at the time. Really, I’m glad to be back. It is good to see my dad, pet the dogs, hug my bed, and soak in the bathtub. The fox was out yesterday morning and I loved watching her eat the sunflower seeds.

There is a little re-entry transition though. I need a little extra sleep, keep giving the doggies hugs, and have plants to plant. There are bills to pay and mail to read, laundry to fold and dishes to do. I could be in Kentucky! Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to readjust.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Yesterday it was a travel day from Kentucky back to Iowa, a long llloooonnnngggg day! It started at 8:15, and ended around 7:30 in the evening. Driving along, I noticed that many of the cars, vans, and trucks we passed had a GPS unit hanging on the dash. I can hear some of you saying that the map reading abilities of the younger generation are degrading as we read. But, I don’t want to get into that debate. Instead, as we traveled, I found my thoughts wandering in two different directions.

The first trail heads to the story make believe area of Eureka, the television show, and how the different mechanical things like cars and houses have personalities and artificial intelligences. In honor of the show, we were calling our GPS Sarah. When she was on, she offered helpful hints to turn this way or that, but at other times after trying to coach her into cooperating she would just be shut off. So, the first thought was along that line. I was imagining some evil genius mastermind, white lab coat included, which was somehow writing a master script that made all the GPS units take the cars hostage and go someplace specific. Where, I don’t know because that trail dead-ended about there.
The other trail that I found myself heading down was different types of Global Positioning Systems. Positioning, this could be physical location, spiritual location, mental or emotional location. A GPS that could help us map out where the others are at, to understand their thinking better. Wouldn’t that be such an enormous thing to see the trails our enemy or our friends are heading down, where they have already been. It wouldn’t quite be following Atticus Finch’s advice to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but it would be awfully close.
If I could see you mapped out, how might I see this world differently, how might you see me differently?