Got Chocolate?

21 May

Note—this was written two months ago as we entered the Covid-19 protocols. Not making light of the pandemic and the ongoing changes it has cost us. Just a reminder of the little things that have kept our spirits up. And CHOCOLATE makes everything a little easier.  cyn 


Those who know me, know I have a serious relationship with chocolate. Be it sweet Swiss, creamy milk or decadent dark, I will never decline if offered the confection. Technically I’m allergic to chocolate. That doesn’t stop me from seeking out a chocolate worthy of an allergy attack.

Recently, while still maintaining necessary social distance, we drove to the nearby town of Hico, TX.  The town of Hico is most known as the final resting place of the outlaw Billy the Kid. Not as notorious it’s also the home of the allergy worthy Wisemen House Chocolates.

Social Distancing is now a part of life, at least for the unforeseen future. The curbside endorphin boost was well worth the Benedryl and 25 minute drive. It was further enjoyed with an impromptu stop at a friend’s home in the same town.  Our socially distanced visit to this large family brought much laughter. Especially the antics of the not yet 3 year old who didn’t let the quarantine diminish her obvious delight of visitors—even at a distance.

We returned home to face a soon to be enacted Shelter in Place order for our county. S in P means all nonessential individuals were to stay home. As much as I would support it, the making of chocolate is not considered essential. I would rally support to make chocolate it’s own food group. Good thing I bought a supply. (who am I kidding, the chocolate barely made it home.)

Live loving the journey, my friends—and the sweet things along the way.

Glow!

30 Apr

I was in Dollar Tree Store one evening, and there was a mother and her two sons at the register next to me. We had been waiting  awhile as each line inched forward. The older was a big kid, and the other was a toddler. The bigger boy was purchasing a multi-pack of glow sticks. The ones that hang from a lanyard. However, the toddler was screaming and reaching for them. Mom had finally had enough (I did mention it was late and the line long) The harried mom, opened the package and handed one to the little guy. Chubby fingers wrapped around his new acquisition, he stopped crying and looked around smiling. 

It was short lived. I watched the bigger boy as he took it from the little brother, and the toddler immediately  started screaming. Just as Mom was about to say something, I noticed the older child bending the glow stick activating the glow feature, he gave it a good shake and handed it back to the toddler. We walked outside at the same time and the toddler noticed that his stick was now glowing! It was then the older brother explained “I had to break it so that you could get the full effect from it.”

I almost ran, because l could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”

That precious child was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air, because he didn’t understand there was more to it. The toddler had no idea what the toy was created to do—glow!

There are times in our lives when we are content with just “being,” but at other times God allows us to be challenged and “broken:”

When we get sick.

When we lose a job.

When we go through a divorce.

When we have to bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child…

In those moments of desperation, God is breaking us. When the breaking is done, we can look back and understand the reason for our hardships. That no pain, no experience or suffering is done in vain and the Lord always has a purpose for a greater good. 

We are in the throes of a world wide crisis. The landscape of which changes every day. Many are struggling like never before. Holding on tightly to anything that makes them feel like they are in control of something. Clinging to the hope things will return to “normal” soon. Then God says, let me take that expectation, that hope, and yes, even fears.

Hand them to God. Watch Him shake up our foundation of faith. Handing us a new and brighter future. We are forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no going back. We are creating a new normal.

My fellow travelers, don’t go through life swinging around old ideas, weaknesses and fears. Hand them over to our loving Father and get ready to glow as you live loving the journey before you. Stay safe my friends.

Dumpster Diving—the misadventures of the forgotten cellphone.

28 Apr

My granddaughter is finishing her senior year of high school. It has proven to be a memorable school year. Today she went to clean out her locker. It was bittersweet. There were tears. Saying goodbye to teachers and staff who have witnessed the growing pains of adolescents to adulthood. Those who witnessed the mistakes, the victories, the struggles and misadventures will hold a special place in her memories.

Like the day she accidentally tossed her phone in the cafeteria trash. She was distracted and left it on her lunch tray. Some time later she realized she didn’t have her phone. And in a flash she knew where she left it. She assumed it was unrecoverable and sobbed that her mother was going to be angry at her—she has a history of cell phone misadventures. 

Not to worry, the schools vice principal stepped into action and in to the dumpster. There the pair worked climbing around in the garbage. The chances of retrieving the errant communication device seemed futile. Rather than giving up, the VP asked if the phone was on. As the Vice Principal repeatedly called the phone they were able to follow the ringtone and locate the correct bag of trash in the dumpster. 

The phone was sticky and a little worse for wear but still functional. 

My granddaughter was happy to have the phone but was not unscathed. She managed to bang her shin climbing in or out of the metallic monster of refuse. Her shin sported a lovely bruise and a one inch gash. After determining her tetanus vaccine was up to date, we later pondered…

Dumpster diving was not part of the VPs job description. Without his assistance she would not have retrieved the phone from the trash.

Had the phone been turned off the chances of recovering it unlikely. 

Had she not been willing to sift through the garbage, just as unlikely. 

Moral of the story? That would be for my granddaughter to share. It is now part of her journey, along with the one inch scar souvenir. The next time you find yourself knee deep in troubles and ready to give up…  Don’t, there is so much more ahead. Live loving the journey wherever it takes you.

What are you Teaching?

28 Apr

When the governor made the decision to close all TEXAS schools for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, parents became educators overnight. The intent to slow down the spread of the virus by reducing exposure, keeping family groups together but isolated from the sources of the virus. These parents have been thrust into the role of academic instructors  (not to mention Principal, Nurse and Lunch Ladies) Making parents responsible for all the academics lessons normally taught at school, coupled with the Shelter in Place orders, has some children spending more time with their parents than ever before. 

Gods word admonishes parents to “train up a child in the way he should go. When he is old he will not depart from it.” And while teaching academics may be new, moms and dads have actually been teaching their children since day one. Parents are teachers by example. Our children have been taking their cues from mom and dad whether we intended to be teachers or not.

We can choose to either be a good example to follow or not. Which is why it is important to choose wisely how (and what) you are teaching your children. Regardless, you are the leader in their classroom of life.

What have you been teaching? Along with the academics are you providing good examples of Love? Tolerance? Respect for authority? Honesty? Integrity?  Humility? Law abiding? Self control?

So many people are ignoring the guidelines put in place for public safety with the S.I.P. orders. Propagating an attitude of, “No one is going to tell ME what to do.” “I have rights!”  What about the people who care about their health? They have rights too.

Is it any wonder we have students refusing to cooperate in class, spouting the mantra of “I don’t have to listen to you. You’re not my mom” to teachers and other figures of authority? Instead we have reared a generation of NOT MY PRESIDENT advocates.

 I have to ask, how’s that working for you? Are you satisfied with the results your example has taught your children? Are you comfortable with this generation being responsible for your future needs based on the lessons you have provided?

This crisis will pass. Schools will reopen. And you will still be teaching valuable lessons to your children. Make the most of the time you have right now. And on the chance you have discovered your “little angel” is not so easily taught after all.  Try being more supportive of the teaching staff in the fall.

Our journey is what we make it. Live loving the journey, my fellow travelers and stay safe.

Becoming

28 Apr

Every group—be it coworkers, club or church members, neighbors and family has that one individual who is actively avoided. Oh he doesn’t smell nor is he disfigured. The guy who has an ego the size of Texas, and always has to point out a better way to accomplish the task at hand. When mistakes are made, he is sure to point it out. He has an opinion about everything and his is the only right one. He is, in a word, obnoxious.

Imagine my surprise to discover after nearly six decades under my belt that I was that person. As a child I was the “Chatty Cathy” of any group willing to have me. In school, learning came easy for me. I enjoyed learning, and often being labeled as teachers pet. The flip side of that is no one likes you or wants to be your friend. Grownups liked me—at least I thought they did. Looking back, I may have only been tolerated, it may have just been a grown ups way of being polite. I was smart, and while I never went out of my way to point out mistakes, my grades destroyed the bell curve on test days. My brain was all I had going for me. I was smaller than average, had crossed eyes and perpetually crooked bangs. 

Being right more times than not meant no one ever challenged me. Left unchecked I traveled life’s pathways oblivious of what others thought of me. Never really having friends I had no standard to measure relationships—or the lack of. Reconnecting with a former coworker in excess of 20 years removed she asked how could I not have known everyone at the company hated me, was eye opening. I had no idea. Another pointed out my habit of interrupting and hijacking conversations by making them about my kids, and talking A LOT 

I was devastated. Thinking back I cringe at how obnoxious I must have been. I’m smart, how did I miss this? Worse was the realization that my lack of friends now is of my own doing. If only someone could have mentored me then. All is not lost. I’m learning to listen, to be still inside. It’s not easy. The urge to divert topics to myself or add my opinion into conversations is strong. I can honestly say I’m a work in progress.

Isn’t it great that God loves us enough not to leave us how He found us? Life is full of opportunities to grow and redefine who we are. Don’t waste a day. Never stop learning. We decide the pathways our journey will take us. It is my desire to live loving the journey that leads to a stronger, healthier and humble me.

Inked

28 Apr

I had only attended the Sunday School class for a few weeks. The other students, aside from the friend who included me, knew little of me or my journey. Aside from a few comments I offered little about my path or past. I had made every effort to dress in a manner more conservative than my customary style. However this particular Sunday I chose a thin strapped shirt and long skirt. My shoulders and back were concealed by the light cover up I wore.

At some point the class discussion had turned to tattoos. The teacher and most of the class voiced an immediate dislike of the art form. Not an outright voice of condemnation but close enough to be a second cousin to the thought. As I stood to leave someone said it was nice to have me in the class and hoped I would continue to attend. After removing my cover up and turning I simply said maybe I wouldn’t be welcome displaying the three tattoos on my back. Several people chuckled and assured me my ink made no difference that I was always welcome but what did I imagined God would say about the tattoos. I responded with Rev 19:16. “And He has on His robe and tattooed on His thigh, a name written KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I have met many tattooed individuals and everyone of them has a story to tell about each bit of ink. The grieving mother buries her babe choses to memorializes her angel in ink. The father who has finally kicked his drug addiction tattoos his sobriety date. Others choose uplifting scriptures as a reminder of Gods love. The list is endless.

I’ve read of African customs where tribal members are tattooed following important life events. I found this interesting as my tattoos are my visual of significant life events. My first was a small, yellow, nondescript and unassuming butterfly. It rested on my right shoulder. The life event was simply life. In a moment of untold sadness I attempted to end that life. The tat has grown over the last four years as my life continues to grow and change. It now has many colors to remind me life isn’t the black and white of legalism I had tried for years to attain.

My left shoulder is adorned with a heart with wings. It reminds me of freedom–I am loved by God, I am free to love and be loved by others. It too has been transformed, its color richer than the first. The heart which had become cold and hard was now alive and vibrant.

My life mantra is also inked as the reminder to “Live loving the journey” every day. Would I forget these truths without the tattoos? Not likely. But I have been able to share my journey with total strangers who ask what the ink represents. Open dialogues many from hurting people needing to talk with someone. Yet would probably not set foot in a church. The artwork draws a commonality and opportunity to share. Most are surprised to learn of the scripture stated above from Revelation 19:16.

My friends, if you are struggling while on your journey, don’t give up. More importantly, don’t let criticism over how you look, (where you live, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been) convince you of  your position or importance in God’s family. God loves you as you are. Live loving the journey.

Meet ya on the back Porch

24 Jun

What image does your mind conjure when you think of the wood shed? Could it be one of dread? Many individuals of my generation will equate the wood shed with punishment. How about the kitchen? In your mind is it strictly a place where meals were prepared or is it a time for sharing the events of your day? Did you grow up with a back porch?
I saw a meme the other day that said “all the worlds problems can be resolved by sitting on the back porch shelling peas with Grandma.”
For many the front porch and door was for company while the back for family. If you had a multigenerational home you had the benefit of an extra set of ears to listen and arms to embrace on a bad day. Grandma could tell if you were struggling or hiding something. You learned to show your true self to her. She saw through you anyway. But the “you” shown to visitors or company wasn’t always true.
I fear we’ve lost the wisdom of a fading era. Where the young learned respect for and from their elders. Things like work ethic, morals and putting your best foot forward. We’ve lost that back porch of connectivity to remind us to be honest–to ourself as well as others and that place to run to when your heart was broken.
Is there a back porch to your heart? Do we trade the morally sound mind for the corporately displayed heart? Pushing, pushing until those things held dear are affixed to the back porch door while living the shallow and selfish heart dweller is out front. Dare we trade the wisdoms of the elders for whatever is popular at the moment.
I can think back to when story lines for shows and movies were basically surrounding one race, class and economic demographic. Remembering the buzz when the first show had an African American cast member. Then it seemed every network had to clone the formula. Commercials climbed on the bandwagon and over the years it’s expanded. I hadn’t given it much thought until not long ago an obviously biracial family were featured in an ad for Cheerios. Why this caused some to rethink the concept of “wholesome” that those tasty toasted oh’s represented was insanity.
Similar comparisons have had misplaced concerns. When same sex partners began appearing as regular cast members on sitcoms, dramas and ads many members of the clergy began campaigns to boycott advertisers. I’m not dictating morality–its not my responsibility to be the moral compass for the world. My point is simply this, if we allow the media to bear the sole responsibility for what we expect our children and grandchildren to learn about morality then we’ve abdicated our role. You see, we adults can change the channel, tune out or ignore what’s represented in the media–news, social or any other outlet, while leaving our children no safe ground. It’s no wonder they have become confused in the process.
I am proud of the strong women my daughters have become and the example they are for their own families. As a grandparent I use opportunities to teach my grandchildren the same lessons I taught their parents. Respect for authority. Honesty. Integrity and Love. That hate and violence are never the answer, and that all lives matter–from the unborn to those nearing their journey’s end–and everyone in between. You may choose to disagree. I’m not responsible for what you believe. BUT if you choose to push your agenda on my grandchildren I will take action.
Maybe the meme had it right after all. We need more of Grandma, back porches and shared productivity, and less attention focused on what others think.

 

No way To the Top

24 Jun

Living on the top floor of an apartment building has its perks. There’s no one above you making noise during the night, rooms are–at least in my building–larger and apartments are further apart on the top floor. And while there are stairs few people use them. That is until the elevator ceases to function. Which is where I’ve found myself for the past five days.
Having a debilitating condition with limited muscle strength, I’ve only managed to make the climb down and back up the stairs once. While the action netted me an afternoon and evening on the couch, heating pad and pillows lending comfort, I am grateful for several things. First and foremost–THE STAIRS! Without them I would truly be stuck. Second I possess the ability to traverse them–albeit limited as it is. And Third, I had assistance of friends making sure I managed the duration.
I am in the minority of those who made the descent. The health limitations, fear of falling, or refusal to even try have caused most to choose to remain where they are. A few happily so–typically the ones who seldom have reason to leave, and others filled with anger and complaint for their imposed inconvenience. The latter playing the blame game of responsibility. Their claims point fingers at the resident who for reasons of her own uses the elevator countless times up and down for no appears reason other than boredom. They blame the management for their imposition–they should have thought a head to the limitations of the device, as if sensing its impending failure–all the while ignoring the fact that the elevator is maintenance every month. The fact of the matter is that the elevator is OLD. We’ve been assured that the necessary parts have been ordered and the device will be working just as soon as it can be made safe for occupants.
Ode to the accomplishments of the elevator which has conveyed the occupants of the building for decades. I’m sure the device has been down in the past. In my few years this is the first time it has failed so epically. Yes, I’ve been stuck a few times. In my desire to get to the top quicker than it was able to do so was disappointing. Sharing the elevator meant stopping at a floor other than mine reveals the elevators lack of favoritism–all occupants are treated equally. No amount of pushing the UP button will improve the operation of the device. Eventually it gets to where it is needed to be. Lastly…if you’re unhappy with the service TAKE THE STAIRS! Yes, it means working harder. I’m reminded of a previous blog. After comparing a friends steps to an upper level as “The steps from hell” I can still hear her response of, “but your ass is gonna look great.” every time I complained.
Life is like an elevator. It has ups and downs. It’s shared with others. Sometimes it leaves you stuck for awhile. And when life seems to be limiting you, it may just be making you a better person for your efforts. So my friends and fellow travelers, if your journey is interrupted, stuck or moving full speed ahead–Live Loving the Journey.

Will be Good to Be Home

15 Jan

Having traveled away from The Lone Star State much of the last year, has increased my world view. Since I enjoy meeting new people the travels have been a great opportunity to “people watch.” I’ve discovered a plethora of material to blog about–assuming I will stay still long enough to write, that is.
While I’m still traveling I was back in Texas for a brief stay and had the opportunity to attend a Ranch Rodeo. What follows are some of my observations.

Regardless of which side of the 2nd Amendment your opinions and loyalty fall some things lately have me shaking my head. I was appalled when The five year old who bit his breakfast pop tart into a gun shape was suspended–from KINDERGARTEN! Recently my grandson was suspended for making his fingers into a gun pose while avoiding in his words the “bad finger”. Are these imagined weapons any more dangerous than the paper towel tube light sabers? (Yes, I’ve seen the newest STAR WARS movie and it may have influenced my writing) Still I shake my head. Thinking this would not happen where I live.

So I experienced my very first ranch rodeo. (Now the phrase, “Not my first rodeo” has a bit more clarity to me.) My companion explained how the working class cowboy took opportunities to hone skills at roping, cutting and branding while displaying his prowess for the ladies. Much smaller than the circuit rodeos these events, preceded the larger counterpart, fostered good natured competition among ranchers appreciative of some down time. The smell of brisket with a side of the more earthy scent of horse flesh. Families came together for some well deserved food, fellowship and fun. I can almost see the shadow of a bygone era of the cowboy dancing with his girl in his arms as the evening wound down.
As we were leaving the sun setting low I reflected on what I had seen. The vast array of cowboy hats, some sporting the summer weight straw while others the felt variety. Although many event coordinators have canceled out of fear from ISIS, demonstrators or violence, not here. Side by side advancing together this was an even playing field. No racial slur uttered, no political correctness debate and as the colors passed by hats were removed out of respect for God and country. No one protested as the prayer was given asking the Lord to lend His approval and protection to the day’s activities. Texas at its best. As a transplanted Texan and several attempts at moving elsewhere, I’m thinking it/ might just be the best place for me to be. Live loving the journey my fellow travelers.

Can You Hear Me?

3 Jan

 

The Christmas trees and other decorations of the season are being packed away for another year. Hallmark’s Christmas movie marathon of Christmas tales replaced with stories centering on love. Keep the lines of communication open the whole year through.

The little girl was filled with excitement and wonder—it was Christmas Eve. No she wasn’t excited at the anticipation of that jolly fat man in red—she wanted to hear her animals speak. Having heard the tale of the first nativity of how the barn animals being the first to greet the Christ child were given the gift of speech. She just knew if she were there, at midnight on Christmas Eve, she would hear them speak again.

What would they have to say? She already knew they were great listeners, she often poured out her heart to the animals, and in their own way they answered her. Yet to actually speak…that would be wonderful.

Bundled against the winter’s cold she trudged through the darkness, singing with the sweet innocence of childhood faith, “I wonder as I wander out under the skies…” On she walked through the pasture and into the barn. Overturning a bucket she sat—and waited.

No, she never heard an audible voice from them—but she did gain a keen awareness of all living things. Her love and devotion to all of God’s creatures was evident in how they responded to her voice. Regardless of whether it was an excited canine or a beast of labor—they understood one another.

We are all part of God’s great creation. Man created in the very image of God. Yet, mankind is often as unprepared in their abilities and understanding of one another as that little girl was to communicate with the barn animals in her language. It was only by spending time with those animals and observing their nature that she grew to sense what they needed.

Time consuming…? Most definitely it was not learned overnight…or was it? Did God in His great wisdom answer that child’s prayer to hear the animals speak—not in her language as she had assumed would happen…but in theirs? Perhaps that is why she, now as a grown woman, admits to feeling more comfortable in the barn than surrounded by people.

God wants us to be that comfortable with His presence that we may slip into it in an instant. It is His desire to commune with us daily…not just on Sundays or special occasions–or when we need something. He wants us to listen for His voice and learn what pleases Him. All God desires from us is a listening heart and an honest response.

Long walks and dark chocolate

Life as a wife, mom, nana and follower of Christ; hoping to share from lessons learned

A Word in Your Ear

Stories and Photographs of my travels, Tales of friends, family, animals and my life

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!