Stretch Yourself

This week, I struggled to break the magnetic force that kept me in the easy chair. Colder weather is my signal to wrap up in a blanket with a book. And the start of the Holiday Hallmark Movie specials that are all romance and magic, are a perfect escape from the nightly news. Add to that a hot cup of tea and I get stuck in the crevices of the couch cushions. This of course is an unhealthy situation. The only solution is to break free of the blankie and get on the floor for some stretches. Oh relief at last, that sciatic nerve was wondering if I was paying attention. The muscles have started to rejoice and a few bones unlocked with a clickity pop along the spine. It is so easy and inexpensive to do stretches, and some of them work wonders on the nagging pains. There was a time fifteen years ago, when I would stretch myself thin. When I worked as a teacher, prepared for holidays, catered to my children, participated in church life, and attempted to make Christmas wonderful and perfect. I am more relaxed these days. Some traditions have even been dropped as our family migrates South. I do miss the caroling in the snow and the Live Christmas pageant practice that included sheep and a donkey. We now enjoy the seventy degree weather of Florida and the crab crack that has become a new tradition. I don’t know if millennial men and women go crazy with the baking, decorating, letter writing, gift shopping, holiday parties and family dinners with all the china and crystal, like we used to do. It is not as important as “being” together. Stretching the imagination is still a big part of the holiday, as each year a new Star Wars movie comes out. Stretching the budget is still a tradition; more for travel as people crowd the airports and roadways to get to something that feels like home. Stretching the truth to keep the spirit of Santa alive is a common occurrence. In the final stretch of preparation, I pray we remember the birth of Christ. Every newborn changes the lives of the family, but none so much as the newborn King. As our family waits for a new arrival, I will not forget the thousand years that others waited for a Messiah. We are saved by the forgiveness that God gives us through Jesus. There is no gift as generous as his grace and sacrifice. And what we can give back is love. We might run out of money, food or gas, but never love. We might forget the stories, the truth, the spirit of Santa; but never will the Holy Spirit leave you empty. I am done with Hallmark that has not mentioned the glory of the Lord even once in all the Christmas gathering in the snow filled streets. I am ready to gather in His name, to get out of my easy chair and to prepare the way. All praise to the newborn King- Sing hallelujah!BFA486E3-3F0F-4B2C-BDCC-0B70F471E0A3

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Beep Beep Buzz

This week, I am starting to get jumpy. I traded my Mazda CX-5 in for a new model that has all kinds of bells and beeps. I seem to be setting them off for the slightest infraction. My former car had the wonderful feature of side view mirrors that lit up when another car was in the blind spots, and it would ding if I put on my turn signal during that time. This certainly did keep me from running unsuspecting people off the road. The new model makes me flinch when the bell goes off and it has a nudge mechanism that pushes me back into the current lane. Even when I try to merge or take a sharp curve on the cross town, the dash board lights up and the car hums if I get to close to the edge of the lane. I must be trying to cross the line more than I realized. These startling beeps should have alternate settings that would be more calming, like a wolf whistle or a French man that says, “Excusez-moi or pardon.” The car will also start to brake if I get to close to the car in front of me. Tailgating and weaving have never been my problem. Backing up is now a new adventure, especially when I pull out of the drive way. The bells are hysterical if any car or tree is approaching. This is quite helpful for me, but still unnerving. So, how do I keep from crossing the line at inappropriate times. I will admit that I have a tendency to do this in conversation and could probably use a nudge or bell at times. There are subjects that my teenage children used to discuss that are off limits now that they are adults. There are times that I get all micro-mother-managing that is not appreciated. And worst of all, there are times when my hubby tells me that he was just elected president of Nag-a-non, and admits that I am his superior power. With the holidays coming and family celebrations being planned; I need to practice staying between the lines. That really should be easy with the terrific adult children that we have. However, all mothers know that the evaluation button seems to always be on, because the kids can discern our dismay in the minute changes of our facial expressions. Our daughters have admitted that they discuss my questions and comments privately and try to analyze what is going on in my head. They are not sure how they should respond to my quirkiness- maybe by bells, beeps, whistles and nudges and I will get the message. Hopefully, my car does not tire of the constant reminders to drive safely. Naturally, I believe there are guardian angels that do the lion share of protecting me. I trust in God’s plan and try to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. I pray that the holidays are spirit filled for everyone. Lately, I am a little jumpy every time our daughter Bethany calls. This is the month that she and a few of our friends and family are due to give birth. We wait in wonder and anticipation. The minute we get news, I will jump in the car with bells on to see the birth of our first grandchild. You will hear my hallelujah from coast to coast.D386D196-0DDF-4B38-9885-005D08FF7CF6

Color Me Right

Last week, one can of paint caused so much consternation that I nearly changed the color of the bedroom. The House Dr said that he would take a chip of paint to try and match my wall which had been reconstructed after water damage. Clever me went on a hunt to see if I had an old can of paint with the matching color. In the laundry room was a can from seven years ago with the yellow color splashed on the side. I told the painter I would pick up a gallon. He offered to do it since they needed some other supplies at the Home Depot. Neither of us checked the name of the color on the lid. The paint salesman looked at the name and mixed the paint- no one noticed that it was a different color than the paint in the can. When it was time to paint the newly plastered wall, one of the painters dipped his brush into the can and did a stripe on of color on the wall that was considerably darker than the rest of the room. Side note: Hubby and I left for his reunion, while our delightful neighbor, Fay, came over to close up the house after the painting was done. The painters decided to leave since the color was wrong. Fay sent a text to prepare me for the disappointing news. Five days later the painters finally come back with the same can of paint. They had gone back to Home Depot to get the right color, but alas, the salesman said he mixed it exactly to the name on the lid. I quickly surmised that the wrong lid was on the can. None of us checked to see if the color’s name matched the color in the can. Naturally, I said that I would keep the gallon of “ground ginger” that was used in my laundry room and fetch the “stable hay” from the Home Depot. I wonder if I would have caught this blooper if I had gone to get the paint myself, or if I had stayed to oversee the painting. The poor painters were baffled by the oversight. Trying to blend fresh paint into existing wall color is tricky enough because color fades. My lesson is to pay attention to details and not to rush, but I fail at this time and again. I like to rush into things with full confidence and get a job done quickly. It might be my attention span is shorter than most people. Don’t lay the ground work, just get to the point. Had I been born in Old Testament times, you would probably hear me say, “Where is the Messiah already?” Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so I pray that the Spirit will guide me to a slower path. I am delighted to be sleeping in our bedroom again now that all the repairs are finished. I am so thankful for all the beautiful colors in nature and the paint store. Color hardly matters in a room that is occupied in the dark, but I am glad we found a match that could blend the old and new. Remember to replace things with care, and when things don’t go as planned, don’t flip a lid. B1668E53-E6E5-420D-B226-4D4D1768766D

Handyman

This week, there was a parade of men marching through my house. A dozen skilled laborers have promised to solve the problem that was created by the screw holes in my roof, which allowed gallons of water to take up residence in the unseen places. All that moisture was soaked up by the insulation in the wall. The evidence started to seep through in a faint stain in the ceiling and then the noxious smell of mildew greeted me in the third floor bedroom. I had visions of mold and creepy crawlies surrounding me on all sides. Yes, I did alert our association management company a year ago. Mr Poston had a roofer check things out and he determined that the satellite dish was the culprit. Direct TV came to patch things up which lured me into a false sense of security. Finally, Service Master came to remove the damaged materials and start their high powered fans to dry things up. Luckily, it was a rainy day and we could see that the leak was still present and allowing the downpour to trickle through. Had I not been preset during Hurricane Irma, I might not have recognized the water that had drenched my new carpet in the corner of the room. It took four beach towels to sop that up. Now, the House Dr. is replacing wall board and adding the plaster mud. It looks like a fun job and he says he loves what he does. The roofer has come to replace rotten plywood and damaged shingles, and the Direct TV serviceman replaced and relocated the satellite dish. I believe I had prayed at one point for more company in my lonely days of retirement, and this is how God answered me. Everyone of them has been nice and helpful. All these gentlemen deserve a big thank you for listening to my hysterics about living under a leaking roof and for fixing my problems with professional skill and pride in their work. This has required a week of staying home, so I pester the guys with questions about their families and education and job training. I wish I had their skills. Most everyone of them was born and raised in Charleston. The city is growing fast, so I imagine that they all will be kept busy with construction and remodeling jobs. It looks like my new wall and baseboards will blend right in with the old, so that nightmare will soon be over. To experience compassion and assistance in time of trouble is truly remarkable. We should always ask for help instead of brooding about our dilemma, and we will find people who I would say, “Have been sent by God.” They all have a story if we take the time to ask and listen. That was my favorite part. One has a wife who went back to college to become a Civil Engineer, another has a grand daughter that is the light of his life. They all tell me that I am too young to be retired and I would agree. I am finding new purpose in writing. I would prefer to watch parades on Main Street, but I am celebrating just the same with all of these men who have returned my home into a safe haven for me. Roll out that plastic floor protection and strike up the band.15D18173-1A43-4BE9-82BE-9B443DA63BBB

Oh Pooh!

My family has always loved Winnie the Pooh. And so when I found a decorative wooden sign with the famous quote “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know” painted on it, I knew I should buy it. Then when Bethany announced that she and Lewis were expecting a baby girl I thought, “This would be perfect for their nursery,” both to continue the A. A. Milne legacy and to empower my new niece. My mind was made up. I’ll get the sign from Albuquerque to Bethany… but how?!

It’s now October, and the ladies in the family are gathering in Charleston for a Christian Women’s Conference and Bethany’s baby shower! I booked my flight and started strategizing. If I pack everything into one suitcase, I can carry the sign onto the plane as my second item! It was too big for my suitcase, so I was concerned that an attendant may force me to mail the sign, but I made it through security and onto the jet bridge with no issue.

Moment of truth: I’m assigned to the tail of the plane and most of the overhead bins are shut. I open one near my seat in case another passenger ineptly stored their luggage and luckily find the right space to squeeze my own suitcase. Now for the sign. The bin across the aisle was smaller than the others, but only had one suitcase and a jacket within. Opportunity. I tucked the sign on top of the suitcase and with a bit of effort was able to shove the bin closed. Commence flight, pretzels and entertainment as scheduled. My worries were over… so I thought.

The flight had minimal turbulence and landed softly. Time to begin the arduous deplaning. I stand up, pop open the overhead bin with my suitcase and gently shift in front of passengers in the aisle to retrieve the wooden sign. My heart drops. I can lift the latch, but the bin won’t open. When I shoved the sign into the overhead, I neglected to account for the wider space over the lip of the bin’s door where the wood apparently was firmly lodged. Heat floods my cheeks as the reality of my actions sink in. I quickly slip into the galley and inform an attendant of my mistake. Maintenance is called, the plane is emptied, and a young girl with her mother wait alongside me just outside the cabin door for our things.

After about 45 minutes of prying, unscrewing, yanking and wedging, the suitcase and jacket are freed. My sign, however, is in pieces, pulled apart by necessity to liberate the other items. I’m not surprised, nor deflated, merely embarrassed and a little disappointed that my careful planning resulted in splintered bits of potential instead of carefully hung inspiration. Thankfully the other passengers and I all made it to our connections. The remnants of my sign were tossed; an impromptu change in final destination.

Having spent D3453D5D-B6F5-4AE6-A1AE-D5084D9F6AF9the day in reflection with hundreds of women at our conference, I can’t help but think that there’s a lesson to be gleaned. Something like, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” or “Spacial orientation is essential to everyday life”. What really sticks with me is the importance of flexibility. The situation would have been exponentially worse if my layover was scheduled shorter, or the people I inconvenienced were ill mannered, or if the bin itself had broken possibly costing me the repairs. Really, if the sign had been flexible to begin with I wouldn’t have had this issue. But the important thing is that soon to be born Lilliana will be welcomed into our family with love, and a penchant for misadventure.

Powerless

Yesterday, I started to panic when I realized my phone and computer were nearly drained of power, even though they were plugged in to recharge. I first checked to see if all the components were properly connected. I then tried different outlets in case the one I was using was somehow compromised. The indicators showed that there was no electrical connection, so I determined that it was a fault in the cord. I raced around to see if I had another cord to fit my Apple devices, but the others were older models that did not fit. It was after five o’clock and the thought of being without communication with my family sent ripples of anxiety through my brain. “I must find a new cord NOW,” I proclaimed, and jumped in the car on a quest. I had doubts that Downtown Daniel Island would have Apple supplies, and I could not think of friends with an IPhone who could spare a cord. The Computer Dr. was already closed. “Where is that electronics store”, I wondered. I walked into “The Closet Case” which was still open, and asked the smiling agent if she had a recharging cord I could borrow. Her Client looked at me like I was a basket case and said, “Try the gas station.” Off I went to the Kangaroo, but they apologized for not meeting my needs and sent me away. Then I walked into the ReFuel, and there on the counter was a display of chargers in rainbow colors! Relief. I bought one in pink and one in white. When I returned home, I was humbled by the thought of feeling powerless. While people in Puerto Rico are still waiting for power, and some are waiting for fresh water and gasoline; I was worried about being cut off from my family for a night. I replaced that panic with praise for the Lord who sees me through every storm, who will never leave me, and who gives me strength and confidence to solve problems. We may have candles and flashlights in case we loose power, but how are we prepared for the bigger storms in our life? My daughter in Miami said they still have a table full of supplies that they gathered before Hurricane Irma arrived with a vengeance. My son-in-law says the Zoo Miami is just reopening today after a month of clean up. We need to prepare our hearts for storms as well. This includes: faith in God’s plan for us, trusting that our prayers are important, and bravely asking for emotional support from those we are close to. We have more power than we realize. Can we solve every problem, heal every wound and help every person who asks us? Maybe we could with more faith in the Lord. Maybe a life lived with Christ leading us prevents problems, strengthens our bodies and guides us to others before they even ask for help. Let’s find the cord that keeps us connected. I am feeling recharged and reminded that we are never alone or without power to pray. Super charge me oh Lord!26C7EB69-1F43-4D58-B365-06BBE62D7EA5

Decades of Drugstores

Yesterday, I went to the drugstore. There are so many of them now, practically one at every major intersection. Back in the Sixties, there was one; The Ben Franklin Five and Dime. It was a fun place to spend our refund money after collecting pop bottles from construction sites. Getting a candy bar or a comic book was a real treat. Then, when I became a teenager, I might go in for lip stick or other beauty supplies, a magazine, and a diet drink. Now that I am sixty, I bought hearing aid batteries, compression socks, and medications. What happened to me? Good golly Miss Molly, I now qualify to be a grandma. That is actually happening this year and tonight I will know the gender so I can go shopping for pink or blue clothes! Forget the drugstore. Here I come infant department of every major department store! My sisters have alerted me to Goodwill for infant clothes that still have tags or look brand new; a smart choice when babies grow out of their wardrobe every two to three months. My girls wore matching KMart play clothes, hand-me-downs or back to school clothes from Carlisle’s. it has been a long time since I have shopped for little ones. It will be far more fun than my current drugstore trips. We saved a couple outfits from our children’s infancy, and most all of the furniture. The conundrum is how do we ship it all to them in Florida when it would be cheaper to buy all new, state of the art stuff. It seems smarter to sell it all or give it away and start fresh. Or, if anyone is moving to Florida, perhaps we could give you a few more things to take down? This decision making gives me heart palpitations and will land me back in the doctor’s office and the dreaded drugstore. “Breathe, take one concern at a time,” says my sage hubby. My thoughts easily go to places where people have next to nothing, or have to flee their homes and leave behind all their treasures and heirlooms. We put far too much value on our stuff. The Bible has much to say about this. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I know whether it is a boy or girl, this pending grandchild will steal my heart and suddenly nothing else will matter. All my friends tell me this is so. While our children prepare the baby’s room and create a safe and comfortable environment for their family, I will dream about being the best Grammy possible. Hopefully, health issues will never prevent me from loving the grans with my whole heart. Soon, very soon, we will walk holding hands into the drugstore to get a treat, like a smoothie and some kale chips, even though it will cost more than a nickel or a dime. The lesson today is: shopping is more fun when done with a buddy, and what we think we need now will be entirely different every decade we grow older. Which aisle can I find the Slowpokes please?IMG_0292

You Might Be Religious?

Last weekend, I was in the company of three lawyers for two days. How can a plebeian survive such an event you might wonder? There were deep discussions and intense questions about life choices. There were analyses of our theater and dining experiences. There were evaluations and high level thinking about politics, religion and ice cream. There were intellectual commentaries about legal matters and the judicial process. And I survived, actually thrived, because I love these three lawyers and respect them. One question still has me contemplating. Do I consider myself very religious? It seems a loaded question in today’s climate where religion can be equated with blind followers who are ignorant, or zealous opinionated people who are not enlightened by the current trends. My family might say I am very religious because they know I am devout in my faith, theology, and traditions. So in the style of Jeff Foxworthy, I have collected some ideas that may help define my answer.

If you believe there is a God and you pray to God, you might be religious.
If you go to a gathering place to worship with others most every Saturday or Sunday, you might be religious.
If you attend classes to learn more about the history of faithful people, you might be very religious.
If you like to sing songs of praise to God and read the stories about Godly people, you might be very religious.
If you meditate and read devotionals daily, you might be very religious.
If you teach others about your faith, you might be very religious.
If you are motivated to serve others according to the teachings of your faith, you might be religious.
If you establish programs to help the poor and needy, you might be very religious, or working for the government.
If you pledge money for missions and support a pastor in ministry, you might be religious.
If you are a missionary or pastor, you might be very religious.
If you look for answers to problems in the word of God, you might be religious.
If your issues have been solved through prayer and the words of God you might feel divinely blessed.
If you credit God for all good things, you might be religious.
If you believe you have a part in eternity, you might be very religious.

I believe the above qualifies me as very religious. I do not expect others to think or act the way I do because I am the product of several generations of Lutheran doctrine. I do expect the Holy Spirit to keep working wonders in the hearts and minds of everyone, so that they may find a spiritual purpose. What ever you believe in: work, love, magic, science, sports teams, people or God; it might be your religion. If you are passionate and share your enthusiasm for anything, you might be very religious. I will never be on the level with a lawyer and be able to articulate or defend the depths of my faith, or pretend I understand everything. I celebrate the anniversary of my baptism four years ago, it might mean I am religious, but that is my response to Jesus’s love and sacrifice. I hope that our family enjoys serving the community of God’s people for generations to come and that heaven includes regular ice cream socials. Make mine a coffee gelato please.IMG_0260

SPLENDOR

  • Yesterday, my daughter Elise beat the pants off me in the game called Words With Friends. I have never seen a Bigger score, and I used to make it to the 400’s often when playing a novice. She got all the big point letters: J-Q-Z-X and used them all strategically.  Sweetly, she said in the side bar, “You taught me well.” Several times I came close to catching her by playing off her big letters and using all the double word squares in sight, and then she would land another 50 point word.  My last play was ready to go and if she did not block the space, I could play all seven letters for 70 points and win!  Unbelievable- she played all seven of hers first and the final word was “SPLENDOR”.  I really like to win, but I truthfully felt so proud of her.  Those of you who play the game know that it is a type of Scrabble.  The advantage to this electronic version is that you can try several word placements to find the best play before entering the word, because it will tell you the point value of the word.  You can enter a nonsense word in hoping that is valid, and it will tell you that it is not a real word and give you another chance. Some people even go to the Internet and use a site that gives them word choices with the letters they have.  All the tricks make it easy to feel so smart.  The challenge is all in the placement and the luck of the letters received.  We used to moan when we got the Q in the board game and now we cheer knowing QI, JO, ZA and EX can land you some big points.  I nearly quit playing a year ago when I thought it was getting monotonous and slow.  Some people would play one word a day and never chat on the sidebar. I wanted to play a game a day and rack up points on the leader board. I left Crazyville before it became an addiction. But, I continue to play with just my daughters Bethany and Elise.  That one word a day is like a gift.  It says, ” Hello, I am thinking about you and checking in”.  On a Sunday when we play rapid fire while watching a football game ( one word every thirty minutes -woo hoo ), then the gift is saying, “I love you mommy and I like to spend time with you even when we are far apart”.  No longer do I care about winning which would shock my brothers. I will even say, “oh look, I left a triple word triple letter space open for you”. Games are really about building community and team spirit.  So what is your next word?