Yesterday, I decided to tackle the doorbell situation. The old one did not ding dong, so I bought a wireless one years ago with the Westminster chimes. I usually hear it by the eighth dong. The problem is that it refuses to stay on the wall. Four men attempted to hang it and one was an electrical engineer. Baffling. In addition to that, the door bell button was stuck by the front door with inadequate double sided tape that was supplied in the package. It could easily be removed and new batteries can be put in, but the tape did not withstand the annual power washing. The button and bell box have sat on the stairs waiting for attention for more than a year. Most friends know to text me or knock loudly if they want me to answer the door. Some wait interminably after they press the old button that does not ding. Eventually, I sense someone is at the door and answer with great apologies. So, after searching for hammer, nails, screws and such; I found some Velcro. I decided to add it along with all the other fasteners. This seemed to work perfectly for the bell box that needed a little more adhesive to keep it from shattering on the floor every time I closed the coat closet with enthusiasm. Aha, this could work for the doorbell button as well! I cut thin strips and stuck the button by the front door. Now I can remove it before the power washing. My workmanship may not be precise or pretty, but now I have the sweet music to draw my attention to the door when someone pushes the bouncy doorbell button.
Velcro is such a wonder. I kind of like playing with it. The sound of pulling it apart and the magic hold that it has when put together is fascinating. It reminds me of people and the mystery of physical attraction. Forty years ago I certainly clung to my future hubby like the mini hooks on the one side of Velcro. His curly hair did resemble the other side of the pulled apart strip and I admit to running my fingers through it often. As love grows deeper and we get set in our ways the attraction factor is still there even though our children do not want to see it demonstrated. Well, our children are rarely around anymore and our hugs and kisses are hardly the ridiculous scenes we see in the movies. Like Velcro, we are two very different sides of a tight bond. I am certain that what makes our relationship work is more than attraction. It is respect, admiration, enjoyment and a love that is whole; spirit, soul and body. We love because we look to the Lord as an example of perfect love.
If you try to ring my bell, the mechanics may falter and the equipment might break, but don’t give up! Knock loudly or sing ding dong ding dong and I will come dashing to the door and open it for you.
This week I bought shiny Easter eggs and candy to fill them. My granddaughter is coming to celebrate Easter with us, so all the fun traditions start again, even though she is only four months old. There is immediate danger having chocolate in my house, or even if I come to your house and chocolate is on the table. I will eat it. Luckily, there was a “buy one get one free” on the peanut m&m’s. If I open one bag, there will be one left for April first. No there won’t. I confess to having a chocolate addiction. My family knows this, so confessing and asking them to hide their stash means nothing. I will find it. The sock drawer is a poor place for storing sweets if I am the one who is doing the laundry.
As I think about confessing the things I need to change in my life, the list does take a whole page. It is many little dumb things like eating out of the pot and letting my clothes pile up on the chair before taking them downstairs to the laundry. So, I wonder if there is something more important and possibly urgent that I need to confess and change. Do I break the confidence of those who tell me things that are personal? Do I offer opinions that are harsh and unnecessary? Do I stay in the left lane too long after passing a truck, and prevent others from speeding past? I have been guilty of these in the past. Do I neglect people who need me, or push myself on those who need space? Do I preach love and forgiveness but hold a grudge? I surely look like a hypocrite to some. Do I pray while falling asleep and forget to pray for those who are desperate? Do I sing to loud when I am off key in worship? Do I give enough of myself to those who ask and those who are afraid to ask? Again, I am sure to be judged on all of those. Am I thankful for all the blessings, or do I take my life for granted? Am I sincere in my friendships and helpful to my neighbors? These are not just reflective questions. They are admissions to the areas of my life that need work. And still there are deeper issues. I confess that I want some return on the hard work I have done, and the dedication toGod that I have maintained for many years. It is selfish of me. I don’t really want chocolate, I want to be really loved and appreciated. God’s love should be enough, but I want people to love me too. I can’t change that.
When Lilliana hunts for eggs with me this Easter, her parents will get the chocolate. I will treasure every smile she throws my way and I will beam with every smile she casts on others. It radiates the purest love. We know if we see someone without a smile, we should give them one of ours. And if there is chocolate in our teeth, we better make sure we saved some to share. I have to go back to the store now. Perhaps I will wait until March 31st. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Yesterday, I had dinner with nine women from our Taste and See small group. Well, actually there were four new women in the group, so that is always exciting. Everyone took turns chopping and mixing the foods they brought to put in the soup and salad. We often meet in homes for lunch, but this time we were at the Bliss Co-op that is a lovely setting for women’s gatherings.
We discussed brain health month and the foods that benefit our thinking and normal functioning. Margaret shared that blueberries and walnuts improve our memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Then she read something about the hippocampus and the brain center, then asked if someone could explain it. I offered, and completely made up something with all the brainy words I could remember about synapses, neurons and dendrites. Oh dear, I have become that person; willing to serve up the balcony to get a laugh or move things along. No one questioned me further, so I ladled the soup while visualizing hippos on a college campus.
It was 8:00, a fashionable hour to eat for most, but I was anxiously hungry. Hangry is the popular word for those who need food immediately, or their brains will no longer function on their normal mode. I was not to that point since I still had a sense of humor that I will call “fungry”.
Joking around can be a healthy way to manage stressful situations of all kinds and to keep the atmosphere jovial. Doing nose transplants in the hospital, and telling the dumb joke of the day is part of my routine when visiting with those who are ailing. This now spills over into other areas of my life, especially when wearing my hat that says, “Eat A Prune- Start A Movement.
I hope that all the women in our group feel like we are getting to know and love one another. We laugh often and share some of the frustrations in our lives. I have learned how valuable it is to have the friendship and support of other women as we go through so many changes every year. Together we fight the issues as they arise, and celebrate so many victories. We always welcome new women, but I am happy to help anyone who would like to start a group on another day and time.
Taste and See was the invention of Linda Howard and her Totally Fit non profit. Why not gather to eat the healthiest tasty recipes with friends? Don’t ever get hangry. Help me start a new movement to be fungry!
Last week, I peeled old wallpaper from my middle daughter’s kitchen walls. At first it came off in long strips as though I was removing dead, sunburned skin. That left the paper backing clinging to the wall like a scared child attached to a parent for fear of what would happen next. Thus began a three day challenge of soaking and carefully scraping the beige pulp from an improperly prepared plastered wall. Yes, some chunks of plaster occasionally came off the wall no matter how gently I used the spatula. I took a break and went to Loew’s to find tile samples to bring home for the future back splash. So many pretty and expensive options made it hard to choose. Then – Eureka! A new product on the market I had not seen before was smartly displayed on an end rack. Affordable adhesive tiles in metallic and real shale stone packaged with a picture that looked like a professional finish. This would be an easy fix, and so fun in its simplicity. I bought a sample of each, plus new brushed metallic switch plates to match. My daughter thought they were attractive and had possibilities, but her hubby looked at them and said,”Tacky.” He was right, they literally were tacky on the back and would provide no authenticity with the edges showing.
Naturally, my next thoughts were about my love of many “tacky” things. Christmas sweaters, Hawaiian shirts, loud colors and patterns that clash on my clothes are a few. Even though this is quite acceptable when clowning, I have toned it down over the years. There are some things that I have tried hard to avoid, such as: being an obvious American tourist in Bermuda shorts and knee socks when traveling; wearing panty hose with runners and having my slip hanging below my dress; or bra straps showing. (Okay, some of those things have happened). My hubby assures me that I am not frowsy and enjoys my whimsical style.
Clothing is not the only arena for gauche. I am guilty of cutting corners and taking short cuts and doing what is easiest. The results can sometimes be unimpressive and could be considered chintzy. Gift giving is something we all judge harshly if we receive something we don’t like or appreciate, and deem it to be tasteless or cheesy. Regifting used to be unacceptable, but it is now fashionable because good books, clothes and toys should be shared and reused. Giving money was considered completely without thought, but who doesn’t cherish the memory of that dollar from grandparents that we could spend however we liked. Yes, a dollar used to be very exciting.
There is certainly value in the tackiness of some things. A whole new market was created with sticky notes and disposable diaper tabs. Contact paper is still used as well as glue of all strengths. I truly cherish the glue that holds us together. That glue is a foundation of faith and the Holy Spirit that nurtures loving relationships. My faith in a loving and accepting Savior may seem a bit tacky to some, but it has provided a life with hope and a positive perspective. I want everyone to know this love, so stick with me.
Last week, I picked up my hematite and sapphire wrist watch from the dresser and it fell apart with pieces pinging as they fell to the floor like icicles hitting the frozen ground. This was a surprise since I just had a new battery installed at a fine and reputable jeweler. Apparently, the minuscule screws were not fastened tightly. Yes, I know I often have a screw loose. It is not as if I wear my watch while gardening or swimming, but I have worn it nearly every day for seventeen years. Now its time is up. So, I got on my hands and knees to search for the crystal that covers the face. I could not locate it on wooden floor or the carpet. Perhaps it had fallen off earlier, unbeknownst to me. It looks like I will have to send it to the watch maker for reconditioning. Hubby bought the watch for a twentieth anniversary gift and has one like it in a man size. He has never had a problem. Time is up for me.
No, I am not a Hollywood hopeful ready to blow the whistle on unacceptable behavior. However, I do support women speaking out against abuse and harassment. It is time for men to conduct themselves in a remarkable and supportive manner that will strengthen our society through strong ethics and moral behavior. No, I am not blaming men for all the ills of the world. They are, however, predominantly present in most battles, both domestic and abroad. They do relish their weapons and their muscles. Yet there are many men like my hubby who cherish their wives and understand what women want.
We want our children to be safe and healthy. We want to be safe from brutal bodily attacks and sexual crimes. We want and end to human trafficking. We want love and commitment in place of objectification. We want fathers for the twenty million children who have been abandoned in the United States. We want opportunity to be educated and find meaningful work. We want to be paid equally for our work. We want help with the dishes and the laundry. We want an end to war. We want men to put down their guns and put their arms around us with tenderness. Women do not want to go to health clinics and abortion clinics because men have taken advantage of our bodies. We want our bodies to be treated as a temple for the Holy Spirit. We want to be cherished. We do not want to be neglected, overlooked or looked down on for being a woman. Give us credit and give us a chance. Women want a world at peace. Women want men who are honorable and loyal, truthful and compassionate. Most women want a home that is welcoming, someone who listens, and sometimes a little chocolate. There are other big asks, (like a cure to cancer and an end to heart disease) but the above represents some critical concerns that impede the progress of a healthy society. If all men decided today to end violence and abuse, it would be life changing. We might finally find time to solve the neglected issues like what to do with all the stuff our parents have saved for us.
Time did not stand still for me and my watch. I am still watching for ways to be helpful. I am still trying to figure out the right time to call the kids who are so ensconced with work and home management. Feel free to add to the list of what women want- if you have the time.
Written by Kim Cordell
Adventures in grand parenting began this week! It is an honor and delight to be entrusted with a precious angel. When Grammy is part clown and part calamity, the challenge is real. Three rules that are ever present in my mind are: 1. NEVER leave the baby unattended. 2. Do NOT multitask while holding the baby. 3. Hold and hug the baby as much as she likes. Spoiling my grand daughter is the ultimate goal. After years of what my daughters might describe as strict discipline and high expectations for them, I now get to be the model for frolic and fun.
Day three of daytime duty with Lilliana did result in my first casualty. We were strolling down the sidewalks that had trees providing a bit of shade. Finally, it occurred to me that Lilliana should be facing away from the eighty degree sunshine. The stroller with all its warning signs did not have a handle that flips, so I turned the whole vehicle around and I pushed the stroller from the back, with the forward wheels nipping at my feet. At the first street crossing I stubbed my little toe on the wheel. Sounds minor, but it really smarted so I stopped to rub it. Sweet baby girl squawked to get the wheels rolling, so onward I hobbled around the block to hear her coo once again. When we returned home she was sound asleep. I filled a bowl with ice water for a foot soak. Ahhhh. My pinky toe still turned purple and is throbbing a bit.
This painful incident reminds me that we cannot protect our children from all the pain they will experience in their lives; from skinned knees and tummy aches to disappointment and heart aches. Life is full of pain. We try to fight the agony, medicate it and ignore it with little success. Sometimes misery leads to drastic measures to alleviate it. Some of the side effects are addictions, accidents and tragedy. Finding a healthy answer to manage our hurts requires patience and rest to allow the mind and body to heal. In extreme cases, we need professional help. Doctors, Pastors and Counselors are better equipped to manage illness when we can no longer cope on our own. We cannot wish or pray away the torment people feel when they are angry or grieving. We must recognize the dangers of emotional pain and respond with radical compassion.
I write this while baby cakes is snoozing in her swing and my foot is elevated. It is impossible for me to nap while processing the violent events in the State of Florida where my children live. I am not afraid for their future even though it seems there is no safe place. It makes me angry that I cannot protect them, but I know that God has them covered until they have completed their purpose on earth. If you have any wise and creative ideas for action against violence and the agony it causes; please post them and add the hashtag #AngerintoAction. Maybe we can join together to prevent the needless side effects.
Next time I stroll, I will wear my old steel toed work boots for protection. Flip flops in Florida seemed reasonable, but were in fact foolish. I hope one day Lilliana will appreciate my silliness, and be the one to push my wheelchair when I am very old.
This week, I could not find my bible and was sure that I lost it, or left it somewhere. What I am losing is small parts of my crowded memory. I really don’t use my bible much because I read scripture online everyday. The internet is so easy for finding the right verse for any situation, and to copy and paste it on social media. I have come to realize this has caused some people to “unfollow” me on Facebook, but they probably have never really followed me anywhere anyway. I continued to search the car, under the couch, the project piles and closets. Finally, I called the leader of my bible study, feeling a bit embarrassed, and asked if I left it at her house. She could not find it anywhere either and did not chide me for my neglect. I then had visions of the shepherd who searched for the lost sheep. He left the ninety-nine and searched until he found the little lamb. So, I continued to look and there it was in my desk with all the Bible studies that our group had completed. In essence, I have been in bible study therapy now for seven years.
Charleston has been a place for strengthening my mental and spiritual wellness. Physical challenges increase with age of course, but the spirit and soul can balance our deficiencies by a focus on the things that really matter. Love, joy, peace, faith and kindness is the short list if you want to count on one hand. On the other hand there is patience, gentleness, willpower, service and forgiveness. Service is my word for goodness, and willpower is how I would describe self-control that is within the will of God. If we put our hands together on these ten things, we are in a position to pray. Prayer is a way to invite God into every aspect of our lives that matter. I am praying for the best of health for all of us. As our bodies and memories start to fail, I pray for peace, love and joy to take a stronger hold for our transition into eternity.
Love is being celebrated on February 14th, and this allows us to express with effusive joy, how much we care for one another. Tragically, we fall short of fulfilling the desires of everyone who is seeking to be loved. We sometimes have expectations that are never met either. This is because we want people to meet our impossible standards instead of seeking the source of love, which is God. God may touch our lives through other people. Sadly, we will never be satisfied until our focus is on the love we can give to others, instead of the things we want them to give us. That last thing I count on the other hand is forgiveness. If we forgive others with kindness when they do not meet our standards, then our real love can flow freely. Well, back to my bible, the greatest of all valentines, for a little reading about real love. Now, where did I put my reading glasses?
Yesterday, I burned my thumb on the toaster and it blistered, despite my efforts to immediately cool it down with ice cubes. The problem was the crocheted hot pad I was using. I gripped the tray too tight and the heat zinged against the portion of my thumb that was exposed. When I hollered and hopped over to the freezer, my hubby came to the rescue with a proper hot pad to pull the tray holding the cubed sweet potato out of the toaster. He said sagely, “You should not be using holy hot pads” It is understood that all things holy would be righteous and perfect in a sacred setting. The lacy hot pads I like to use were made by my Grandma, and possibly by her mother, too. I cherish their artwork and have sweet thoughts of them when I am cooking. Just the mention of fried chicken, Swedish meatballs, potato pancakes, or Swedish rye bread takes me right back to happy days at my grandma’s house. They fed us so well with their signature comfort foods. We went to Bethlehem Lutheran Church with my Grandma Anderson for special occasions, and all her sisters were there with their hubbies. I could never hear them sing, but the organ music was magnificent. My Grandma Harper did not attend church until the summer I stayed with her, before attending Valparaiso University. We walked to church every Sunday, because neither of us had a car. She told me she was raised in a Catholic family, but going to church was never part of the Sunday routine for her three boys. Later, my father would say my mother “converted” him. Together, they served in every capacity at the churches where ever we lived. My brothers and I continued in the Lutheran traditions of our parents with our own families. I did have a few years of the Presbyterian experience at my hubby’s church, before I “converted” him. I still view the theology that I was taught since preschool to be rock solid. Our Faith Journey, however, has taken a new direction. We now attend a contemporary service at Seacoast, a non denominational church based in Mount Pleasant. It is there that I find the concept of “holy” more relevant and attainable. I am still growing my faith and finding new purposes in the transitions of my life. I have found that serving others is the way of life that most fills my heart. God knows me and my need to be connected. God’s love is so full of forgiveness and mercy that I am redeemed every day in spite of my blunders. A little burn may sting for a time, but I am protected from the greater enemy through the redemption that Jesus offers. I am not going to trade in my “holy” hot pads. I will use them for more genteel efforts. I am trusting the Lord and his hefty hot pads for the bigger jobs.
This week, I returned home and heard voices upstairs. It sounded like a friendly conversation. “Hello”, I said with a bit of question or perhaps warning in my voice. I was answered back with a Proverb: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” The television screen was dark, but from it came the voice of an evangelist speaking the truth from Proverbs 10. I had not watched the TV in two days, so how could it suddenly be on? No ghosts in my house except the Holy Spirit. I grabbed the remote and clicked to get a better picture of the situation. The program was Andy Wommack on Channel 2 – not a station I ever watch. Curiouser and curiouser. I listened until the commercial and my mind remained on the fountain of life. The Spanish Conquistadors thought they discovered it in St Augustine, Florida. Our children had lived there a short time, so we had visited and were indeed enthralled by the beauty. What is the purpose of a fountain of life or youth? Water itself is for cleansing, refreshing, and hydration. It is an essential for life. Can the right words cleanse, refresh and saturate us with vitality? Solomon believed this to be so, and so do I.
Complaints, criticisms and accusations do the opposite of revitalization. Negative words suck the life out of our soul and spirit. Finding tiny faults or implying character flaws are not constructive ways to build relationships or help people to improve. They are in fact a form of bullying- they are sink holes instead of fountains. To often, parents speak words they feel are necessary to instruct their children, but create a sink hole that leaves the family grabbing at dirt to climb out. Friends do this as well when talking about other people. When we highlight the problems or flaws that annoy us, instead of pointing out the positive that draws us closer, it is like quick sand where we slowly lose ourselves. An example is that my hubby and I try to always be on time, if not early, because we value the time of others. We have teased our daughters for being more lax about sticking to a schedule. We have scoffed at those who cancel appointments and break commitments. We are trying to be less critical and more relaxed and patient with others, so our relationships do not disappear in the sink hole of judgement.
So, let’s get back to the water feature that splashes us with refreshment and gladdens our heart. Our words do not need to be just compliments on how a person looks, because that is shallow. Deeper waters will give us words of support and encouragement without adding guilt or regret. Don’t we all appreciate hearing positive input from our friends and family? Scintillating gusts of water are the words that tell others how wonderful they make us feel. The Holy Spirit is our professional editor that will help us choose words to create a beautiful fountain of life. That Spirit will also tell us when we have chosen the wrong words and need to ask for forgiveness. When you hear voices coming from upstairs, it is best to listen. I am now feeling in need of a shower.
Thursday, I went to Coastal Rowing Studio to get a full body workout in the rowing 101 class. I brought my own bottle of ionized water in a plastic reusable water bottle, that was a gift from Radiant Church when we were visiting in Tampa, Florida. I took a big chug of water before we got started and my face contorted into a nasty grimace. “What is wrong Kim?” Asked Suzanne. “I just got a mouth full soapy water!” I said while letting my tongue hang out. I had rinsed the bottle, but evidently forgot the cap could be harboring some detergent. My immediate thought was a flashback to having my mouth washed out by my mother for speaking some atrocity. I believe I did the same to my own daughter when she was impressionable. I regret corporal punishment of any kind, but Mothers want to teach their children to use lovely language and always tell the truth. The soap may have been a reminder for a time, but it doesn’t reach the brain that makes the decisions on what to think and say. If only we could have an occasional “brain wash” to take away all negative and untruthful thinking. There is only one way to keep our mind on joyful, peaceful, and loving thoughts: with constant thanksgiving. Thanksgiving takes the place of complaints, worry, anger and confusion. I love to sing thanksgiving to God wherever I can. I often write down the things I am thankful for from the smallest (such as tasty grains of spice) to the largest (such as our comfortable home). I am learning to also be thankful for the small viruses that make us feel horrible but build our immunity, and big weather catastrophes that draw communities together to help and rebuild. We are asked by God to give thanks in everything. The truth is that God created a world that constantly renews. This includes our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. So, I have signed up for fourteen sessions of rowing. I hope to meet my friends there and make some new ones while we pull together and sweat it out. This requires hydration-no soap. Bring your nice clean water bottles and enjoy some exercise that is full body and low impact workout. I feel stronger already with no soreness. I would not tell a lie.