The Wall of Remembrance

28 Apr

One thing Texans are good at is remembering. Perhaps most famous being the cry of “Remember the Alamo.” The lot across the street from my apartment had been vacant for quite awhile. I had heard through the small town grapevine that it would be a place honoring veterans. It didn’t surprise me to see flags for each branch of the military erected. Little by little the corner lot was nearing completion. Walking past the street corner the other day I noticed a flurry of activity. A group of volunteers working to prepare the lot for grass seed.
I was curious to see the granite structure dominating the corner. On it were inscribed the names of every member of the community to serve in the military. I mistakenly referred to the structure as a memorial. No, no I was told, this is a Remembrance Wall a tribute to the living as well as the dead. It was then I noticed the blank slots waiting to be filled with names of future military personnel.
“You see, Ma’am this here is written in stone how proud we are of those who serve and protect our freedom. We teach our children we still have something worth fighting for.”
Flags flying, a park bench anchored to the ground, I was beginning to catch the vision of small town pride. The crew scattered grass seed and straw doing their best to have grass growing in the lot surrounding the marker. I joked mentioning the local canines would be seeking out the grass by summer. The gentleman was quick to point out the video surveillance cameras that would serve to enforce security issues as well as the ordinance regarding pet waste.
“We Texans won’t take (expletive) from anyone!”
Still living and loving the journey–and realizing more and more that “Ya Don’t Mess with Texas!”

My Aha Moment

27 Apr

Have you ever struggled with a concept or a relationship that just seemed like you were the only participant ? There comes a time when you have to decide if your contribution is worth the effort. The underpaid employment opportunity that never panned out to the promises. You believed the travel agent only discovering the vacation came no where near the hype.
When danger is immanent we protect what we value. Yesterday’s tornado revealed what the folks in my building valued…pets and pet food including bottled water and potty pads were taken to the lowest level to weather the storm. Later, after the danger had passed, cel phone messages were answered letting family and friends know their status.
My “aha” moment came as I, unable to make it to the designated downstairs safe zone remained the soul person on the third floor…and had not been missed. It was a sobering thought. Of course family, local and afar, were aware I was safe. Yet. I did some deep thinking in the hours that followed about my priorities.
Today I’m still recovering from the back injury that sidelined me yesterday. Doing some reevaluating from my comfy couch. I have had one visitor today and she was seeking chocolate. No, she hadn’t realized I wasn’t in the safe zone yesterday…but can be forgiven since she’s blind.
So a little battle weary I continue living and loving the journey…just a little wiser. Perhaps the road ahead is about to turn.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…COFFEE!

19 Mar

It had been a difficult night. Finally, after claiming a few short hours of sleep I welcomed my morning dose of caffein. Loading my coffee maker with water and the appropriate amount of coffee I stepped into the living room to continue chatting with a neighbor. This has been my routine first thing most every morning. I welcomed the first aromatic scent of the fragrant brew. You can imagine my surprise at discovering the entire contents of my morning brew rapidly spreading all over the kitchen counter descending to the floor. You see I had all the elements of my morning beverage–unfortunately, I neglected to place the cup under the spout. It’s like that meme, “Now that I finally got it together I don’t know where I put it.”
Luckily my coffee maker only brews a single (large) cup at a time and my neighbor and I had it cleaned up rather quickly. It was only a matter of a few minutes before I had a fresh cup of coffee. I refused to let the incident define my day but it’s doubtful I will make that mistake again.
How often have you made the effort to take care of a life issue but fallen short of success because you failed to follow one piece of instruction? The lavish dinner you planned but forgot to defrost the main dish. How about starting the washing machine and forgetting to load in the laundry? My mother-in-law admitted to making the most beautiful looking Lemon Meringue Pie but by forgetting to put the lemon in made it rather tasteless.
Our lives are made up of life lessons. What we do with those lessons determines the outcome. Some will spend so much effort trying to be perfect that they accomplish very little and are never satisfied. Others play the game of claiming someone else is responsible, its never their fault. The most damaging are those individuals that live their lives looking back. By keeping their focus on yesterdays calamity they never learn to live for today. My friends and fellow travelers I encourage you to live loving the journey to the fullest every day. Stop crying over spilt coffee.

Are you in a RELATIONSHIP with your Toothbrush?

9 Jan

I find myself trying to explain how I make decisions based on my relationship with God and how it compares to a religion about God. As my followers can attest–anything is fair game to a writer. That said…

There has been much debate about the term “religion” in the role of its followers. Jihad extremist’s violent attacks, suicide bombers, self denial. Even the peaceful protest for the unborn all claim a sense of spiritual direction from their leader to do what they do in hopes of being “good enough” to receive blessings from God.

I pose the question Do you brush your teeth every day and if so Why? Most will respond a resounding YES! Of course you do–and think everyone should. You have encouraged your children to brush diligently every day. (One might say you brush your teeth “religiously.”) Not in a desire to please the all powerful Tooth God with blind obedience. You prefer the outcome of your actions (fresh breath, strong teeth, bright smile, their role in speaking clearly) to the actions of not brushing (decay, lose, pain) Brushing your teeth every day is a habit–a very good habit. One you cultivate because you desire a good result. Does this mean you are in a relationship with your toothbrush? Of course not. Your adherence to the rules of proper dental health care is to receive/avoid a specific outcome.

Many individuals serve their God in much the same manner…obedience out of habit or fear of retaliation. Activities like church attendance, prayer, self denial, behavior modifications all performed because they have been taught to obey or face damnation. I know I did. For years I did all the “right” things living on a form of Christian autopilot. I knew all the songs, read the scriptures every day, prayed before bed and meals and for the lost…all the while hoping for the promised outcome for my obedience. And I did it so well I convinced myself it was the only way to live. Yet it lacked sincerity and joy. Even though I had risen to the rank of a licensed preacher I was a fraud

To remedy this I had to start all over, reevaluate motive, question every action. It was imperative I remove myself from the “churchy” situations–it would have been so easy to slip back into old habits. Only by breaking those habits was I able to establish an honest relationship with God.

Today, my choice to be part of the Christian faith is not one made out of fear but love. I no longer feel obligated to embrace every aspect of church life. I have a relationship with my loving God. I have fellowship with Him through prayer. I praise Him openly and often and I know HE is with me on my journey. My friends, stop the struggle. Live loving the journey and every time you brush your teeth use that time to thank God for his willingness to have a relationship with you.

Finding Comfort

3 Jan

Happy New Year! My new year has started off with a resounding BANG!!! And not from the anticipated midnight fireworks. Rather in the form of an emergency appendectomy. Which is how I find myself now with a plethora of new blog material while recuperating in a Texas hospital.
Day three post operative has afforded me the opportunity to observe and compare several differing nursing philosophies and styles.. the seasoned veteran of the profession provided a glimpse at how everything worked together especially when starting a new IV proved problematic. Trying to tame the IV pump seeming to manufacture its own bubbles provided multiple parties the chance to show their expertise each time the wail of the machine sounded.
Male to female, young or mature, trainee to seasoned, I’ve had them all. Regardless the status each with the same goal–that of assisting my body in the healing process.
One particular participant, a trainee from outside the US proved interesting. Her attention to detail aided by the many notes she used made very sure I was stable before standing and had an adequate amount of space to move about before leaving me to stand alone. We chuckled together at the foibles and faux pas as she learned the ropes of patient care. Her repeated query as to my “comfort” had me mystified until I realized she was asking if I needed to use the bathroom. Suddenly it made sense. She had no frame of understanding of the room designated as a place to relieve oneself of urine other than to consider its ability to comfort an overly full bladder.
Consider that we often refer to said room as a “bathroom” yet not to bathe, a “restroom” in which we do not rest or by a male nomenclature.
I hope as we commence our journey in a new year we might all find a sense of comfort. Comfort at the knowledge the year has no baggage, offers the opportunity to start fresh and brings with it joy of new beginnings. Keep humor close at hand as I most certainly will at least for awhile each time I enter my “comfort room.” Live loving the journey, my friends, and smile.

Thank You for Your Son

28 Dec

The miracle of Christmas is not found in the ribbons and bows of gifts left under a tree. The true spirit of the holiday is in receiving the gift of God’s love–even when it appears in an unlikely form.
It was Christmas Eve and for the woman an exhausting year. Incredible joy, replaced with dread and loss. Perhaps it was her search for peace or the bond of one mother to another in shared grief. With a heavy heart the woman sat apart from most of the group gathered. The candlelight service typically intended to inspire each to embrace the gift of God’s Son. The carols of Christmas, the special music and Advent readings took on a greater significance in light of recent violent acts making headlines. As 2014 was winding down many felt pulled to seek the Prince of Peace. In a time of much turbulence there’s comfort in sharing the journey even when there are no words.
The little boy was often seen roaming around the busy church building. Whether a church service or social gathering his interaction was normally limited to a select few. It was not uncommon for him to stay focused on his tablet or a favorite book during the church service–Christmas Eve was no exception. As the service was nearing its end he quietly entered the sanctuary. Mom watched from the platform, not wanting to break the spirit of God moving yet unsure of what to do. Strains of Silent Night now had another voice as the lad sat next to the visitor. His hand tenderly holding hers he sang resting peacefully against her. In that moment she felt love that can fill the emptiness of a broken heart, restore joy that was lost, and bring peace to her harried and anxious soul.
Following the benediction the woman approached the boys mom. Embracing her in a hug she thanked mom for sharing her son. What a Christmas message reminding everyone when we come to the throne of God to say, Thank YOU for YOUR Son.
Wishing you Christmas Blessings on your journey.

Joy in the Journey

11 Dec

Ever spent a week or more traveling with your kids over summer vacation? Amid the many, “Are we there yet?” “I have to go” and “When are we going to be home?” conversations of travel it is no wonder so many parents feel they need a vacation to recover from their family vacation. I recall summer trips to an amusement park with my family. Mom would plan well in advance and sew matching outfits for each of us. Her theory was that it would be easier to keep track of her large brood if we all looked. alike. I don’t ever recall getting separated from them so she may have been on to something…however,
The need for conformity sometimes overshadows the joy that is found in experiencing the journey. There is that sense of security in submission to conformity. Yet, handing over the control of life choices comes at the price of independent thinking. Every action has a reaction all part of the orchestrated plan to reach a defined goal. If you–or I, agree 100% with that desired outcome then all is good and well.
It’s easy to be part of the cultural norm, to follow blindly as sheep are apt to do. Have you ever wondered why humanity in God’s word is compared to sheep? It’s because sheep are dumb followers. Without someone to follow sheep will wander off a cliff. For years I identified with the collective group of sheep. Believing if I did the right things, dressed the right way, etc. it would be pleasing to God. Finding myself thrust outside that fold was devastating. It wasn’t long before I found someone to follow. I was back (or should I say baaa.) inside a fold of a different kind.
Several decades later and I find myself alone. Sadly my life choices fail to meet the standards of some “folds”. My expectations of the fold mentality have somewhat diminished. The journey is all I have. Those who travel on my same path and getting from point A to point B in my travels is up to me–choosing to enjoy as much as possible of each day of this journey. That continues to be my hope for the coming year. Travel well.

Life is like a Box of Crayons

28 Nov

No matter your age there is nothing quite like opening a box of new crayons and spend time enhancing the pages of a new coloring book. Wouldn’t it be great if discovering your purpose in life was as easy as selecting the right crayon? Most of us started out like a box of new crayons…bright, whole and sharp. Unlike crayons we are not labeled with clues as to our purpose. Brick red, sky blue a host of yellows from buttercup to saffron.

Tightly clutched in eager fingers causes some of the favorite colors to weakened and break. Others after finding their way to the floor may be stepped on and added to the broken pile. The broken pile is the death sentence in the life of the crayon. No one seems eager to use those coloring implements that require the extra effort of removing the wrapper in order to be used. Attempting to use a “built in” sharpener that is included in some boxes is also problematic due to the shortened condition of the crayon. Somehow as the points wear down the novelty wears off.

There are now a vast number of “extra” colors. Forget the primary 8 colors originally sold in 1903, or the secondary and tertiary colors in the box of 48 from my school days. Crayons now come in a host of unique shades. (there is even a Crayola crayon color called INCHWORM)

Over the years, surprisingly, there have been relatively few name changes, “Flesh” one of the original 48 was changed to PEACH. “Prussian Blue” became MIDNIGHT and “Indian Red” became CHESTNUT. Regardless of the name there seem to be a certain percentage of colors that for whatever reason remained in the back of the box unused.

Feeling like a crayon is an apt description of my life. Some days I feel sharp, bright, alert and ready to get started on a project or two. Sometimes I feel squeezed, pressured and ready to snap while on others I may feel worn down but satisfied–a sense of accomplishment at a job well done. There are crayons with names that are confusing–did you need BLUE VIOLET or VIOLET BLUE? Much like the diagnoses of Fibromyalgia, since it encompasses nerve, joint and muscle. (Or misleading, like those students surprised to discover the crayon labeled Indian Red was named for the soil in India and not a commentary on Native American skin tones.)

Friends, don’t judge everyone by what you see on the surface. Just like that box of crayons there are nuances, complexities and diversities in every soul, if given the chance. Remember, no one wants to be discarded or “left in the box” Take the time to experience all the colors life has to offer. May the sunset of your life be a vivid reminder of living and loving the journey.

Choosing Life…

28 Nov

Originally posted on makingreatime:

Life, in the eyes of a medical professional, is determined by beats and breaths. This is true wheather the patient is a newborn babe starting out or a loved one taking their final breaths after a long and happy life. Pro-life and Pro-choice supporters can argue their views on when life begins. But most will agree when it comes to life’s final hours there is a great difference between having a life and living a life.

Living is in part what one chooses to do with the span of time between that first lusty breath and that final feeble gasp. Recently, a 29 year old female made the decision to die on her own terms. Facing an abbreviated life from a terminal disease she chose to live her final year without treatment. She made national news by announcing she had chosen to choreograph her own final breath. The date was…

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The Four Little Tears

28 Nov

The day dawned bright and beautiful. The one day we set aside to offer thanks for our numerous blessings. Arriving at my daughters home anxious to see my precious grandchildren, I crept into the room adjoining the living room. Observing the pair I waited for them to notice me. The smiles and exuberance was worth the wait. “Happy Thanksgiving, Nana!” they chorused, arms spread wide for hugs. Little man returned for a second squeeze.

Having been warned that my daughter’s household was a bit under the weather I didn’t know how long the celebration would last. Excited to be seated at the tables end I observed my grandson as he contemplated the fare placed before him. After attempting a bite or two he paused, clearly not interested in the food, yet not wanting to leave.the table His gaze returned again and again as if to say, “Don’t leave, Nana.” Finally mommy suggested he might need to take a rest. Turning to me I was saddened to see his eyes well up with unshed tears.

Reaching out to me for a hug, my Nana heart melted. There, on his cheeks, were four little tears quietly making their way down his face. Encouraging him to come sit on my lap I held him several long moments, rocking side to side. His willingness to leave the table and take a nap testifying his fatigue he made his way to his bedroom. All that remained were the four little tears that dampened my shoulder.

It is much later as I ponder this, my own heart breaks. Yes, I did get to spend a bit more time with my grandson before leaving; I could not erase the image of his saddened face from earlier. How many times have I broken your heart God when time or convenience have interrupted my quiet time with You. I can only imagine the holy anticipation of shared time between Heavenly Father and child–only to have it cut short or abandoned.

Social Media has passed around a phrase the past few weeks. “Only in America do we trample others for a sale one day after being thankful for what we already have.” Do you fall into this category? I have been so very blessed. Yet have I shown an excitement in anticipation of spending time with You? Lord You patiently wait, knowing Your time will come–at a cost. I imagine in my heart the tears You shed at the tomb of Lazarus resembled those left on my shoulder.

My friends I trust you have had a blessed Thanksgiving. Did you over indulge on scrumptious food, share the excitement of a football game or two? Amid tears of laughter or joy, and maybe a few shed for those loved ones no longer here to share, I hope you have taken inventory of your blessings.

As you travel along your journey my friends and fellow travelers, take time to notice the beauty around you. Refuse to allow pettiness and opinions of others ruin a single minute of your day. Should this prove to be a challenge I suggest you make thanks giving become a daily habit. At a loss for where to start? How about gratitude for those who protect and serve and work your way from there.

Live loving the Journey my friends. May your heart remain tender and attentive that you not be so hasty as to miss the tears shed for you.


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