The Unexpected

“The expected always happens” 

Benjamin Disraeli

It was the coolest morning we’d had in weeks. A great day to take the dogs for a walk.

All of us were excited–it’s been hard on us–we all LOVE our daily walks.

The five of us are quite a sight, meandering back and forth across the narrow streets of our subdivision. This morning in particular we were all looking around at the changes that’d happened since we’d walked last–all those new smells had three canine noses pinned to the ground.

We’d gone about half a block when I noticed our Tibetan Terrier, Ruby, was on the trail of something especially interesting. Her nose was quickly scanning the area but came to an abrupt stop. She cocked her head to the side and shook it back and forth rapidly–then trotted off giving out a sharp cry. Her trot was awkward because she was favoring her right front paw. Something was wrong–

The reason became clear as Michael lifted her paw. As he brought up it up off the ground, a large black bumble bee fell to the ground.

Oh boy–she’d been stung and she was in pain.

Luckily, Michael was there to carry her home. Once we checked her out, we soaked her paw, iced it, and gave her Benadryl and pain meds. She’s definitely more comfortable but not quite okay–yet.

So, we’ve been on Ruby watch today. Not a bad assignment and one that could have resulted in some extra reading time. Honestly, all I’ve done is watch her and attempt to write a word or two.

I did find a prayer to share, though, and I think it is lovely.

Master of the Universe,

grant me the ability o be alone;

may it be my custom to go outdoors each day

among the trees and grass, among all growing things, 

and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, 

to talk with the One that I belong to. 

May I express there everything in my heart,

and may all the foliage of the field, 

all grasses, trees, and plants,

may they all awake at my coming,

to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer

so that my prayer and speech are made whole

through the life and spirit of all growing things,

which are made as one by their transcendent Source.

(Translated by Rabbi Shamai Kanter)

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Reaching Out

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” 

Shannon L. Alder

Getting older certainly presents us all with some difficult times. Not that these experiences aren’t expected–we all know we are going to face health challenges, confirming the fact our time here is limited.

Even though I love my life in Texas, I’m far from most of my friends. I can’t just dash over with a casserole and a hug.

I needed to figure out a way to reach out without disrupting their lives as they adjusted to their new normal.

Texts. I could send texts.

So, I began my new morning ritual. First thing each morning I send out my morning greetings–some people I greet daily–others less frequently. Takes a few minutes and makes me feel like I’m still in touch.

I began this routine thinking I was doing this for them. What I’ve discovered should not have surprised me.

I look forward to these early morning conversations knowing each person can read and respond whenever they want–when “talking” with me is right for them. It’s a great example of a true win/win situation and one of the parts of my day always on my gratitude list.

My story time share today is simple–reach out so those you care about know you are thinking of them.

Just do it.

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift” 

Pablo

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless, Y’all.

~Peace~

Information Overload

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”

Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

I talked with my insurance broker today about Medicare and supplimental insurance.

My-oh-my!

She was excellent, sharing stories while giving me so much information filled with sound advice. To say my mind is on overload is an understatement.

One this cloudy Friday afternoon, I want to share a prayer by Rabbi Levy. I love reading her words. Whatever is going on in my life, she finds a way to speak to my soul. I hope you find solace as well.

God, I need to know that You are with me; that You hear my cry. I long to feel Your presence not just this day but every day. When I am week and in pain, I need to know You are beside me. That in itself is often comfort enough. I do not pretend to know Your ways, to know why this world You have created can be so beautiful, so magnificent, and yet so harsh, ugly, and so full of hate. The lot you have bestowed on my is a heavy one. I am angry. I want to know why; why the innocent must suffer, why life is do full of grief. There are times when I want to have nothing to do with You. When to think of You brings nothing but confusion and ambivalence. And there are times, like this time, when I seek to return to You, when I feel the emptiness that comes when I am far from You. Watch over me and my loved ones. Forgive me for all that I have not been. Help me to appreciate all that I have, and to realize all that I have to offer. Help me to find a way back to You, so that I may never be alone.   Amen 

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Talking with God

For the past few years, I’ve been searching for prayers. I have a good source of the old standby Catholic prayers which feel a little like comfort food to me–I often find myself reciting them without putting a lot of thought behind the words.

Now, as I age and continue my quest for a deeper understanding of myself, I’m looking for a less traditional prayers. I want to add to my prayer book words that feel like I’m having a conversation with God. For me, that’s how I would define prayer–talking with God.

In my reading, I’ve stumbled upon some great quotes. One quote by Mark Twain struck a loud chord with me today because he talks about profanity. I’ve been working in the yard a lot which takes a toll in the Texas heat. When I get overly tired, my F-word filter is the first one to fall way too low. I’m thinking I probably owe a few people an apology.

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”

[Mark Twain, a Biography]

Mark Twain

I ended my yard work earlier today meaning I’m less tired. I believe my filters are now in working order. In light of that fact, I think I’ve found the perfect prayer to share.

Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen” 

Margot Benary-Isbert

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.  

 

Memories of a Cowboy Pastor

Life is the sum of all our choices.  ~Unknown~

My adventure in the used bookstore last Saturday resulted in finding a second book which seemed to be waiting for me to appear.

That book, The Salt Block, Heartwarming Stories from a Cowboy-Pastor, is pictured above.

As I read the title, I was reminded of a cowboy church service I attended in a rodeo arena in Buena Vista, Colorado.

It was a hot Sunday morning during the Chaffee County Fair. Our family was meeting at the rodeo grounds to attend the cowboy church service together.

It’d been a difficult year. We’d all faced personal challenges. Some of these trials put a lot of strain on our relationships with each other. In light of that fact, I was encouraged when everyone showed up.

Walking together we joined the scattering of people already in the small corral. I’d never been to a cowboy church service. I had no idea what to expect. We did not have to wait for long.

Right on schedule, a tall, slender man dressed in jeans, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, and shined black boots strode to the front of the crowd. He removed his hat and opened his well-worn Bible. Yes, this was the man we’d all been waiting to hear.

The moment he began to speak, the crowd grew quiet. He did not have a microphone. His deep voice was steady and clear, carrying easily across the arena as little dust devils stirred up in the mid morning winds. He spoke slowly, taking time to connect with each of us, nodding slightly as he made eye contact.

As he spoke the clusters of people moved inward, drawing the circle closer together, giving each of us a chance to acknowledge one another. Even though we were all strangers I felt at ease with this gathering of souls. It was peaceful and eerily quiet as we  listened, focusing as the word of God was shared along with our preacher’s personal stories and life lessons. How fun it was to laugh with him as he gave examples of the mistakes and misjudgments he’d made along the way. The power of a good story was very evident that day.

I have no idea how long we stood together that sunny morning.  Time stood still as our eclectic group of people grew closer and closer while our cowboy man of God reminded us that Jesus had died for our sins and we were all forgiven. By his sacrifice we were all saved. We could leave with peace in our hearts.

At that moment, all the problems I’d been carrying were lifted off my shoulders. As I looked around at my family, I could see their burdens fall to the wayside as well.

Powerful does not begin to describe this simple service held in a corral on a Sunday morning many years ago. Tears flowed as we held hands while praying The Lord’s Prayer. After that amen, long, strong, and sincere hugs were shared as we smiled, wishing each other safe travels.

Seeing this little book on Saturday reminded me God is with me and shows up in some of the most unlikely places.

I was blessed then as I am now.

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” 

Maya Angelou

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~

 

Unexpected Treasures

“Sometimes the best books are hidden gems that you didn’t even know were out there!”
― Carmela Dutra

Saturday, after working on my gardens for the past two days, I decided I needed a reward.

Deciding what it would be was easy.

I was going to check out the used book store I’d been driving by for the past few months.

“It was like walking into a treasure trove of books, hoarded by pirate librarians.” 

Pseudonymous Bosch, The Name of This Book Is Secret

I was really psyched to explore this place.

From the outside, it seemed very small. In fact, as I parked my car–one of two in the parking lot–I began to wonder if it was worth my time.

As I walked through the door, I felt I’d entered another dimension. I was completely engulfed by books. All around me were rooms and rooms filled with books. Each space labeled with handwritten signs–Westerns, Romance, Horror, Mysteries, Self-Help, New Age, Religion, Cooking, Reference…shelves covered every wall from floor to ceiling with over flow books standing in stacks on the floor.

I had found the mother lode of books.

In this amazing place I found two little books sitting in spots where they seemed to call out to me–like they’d been waiting for me a very long time.

The first book is pictured above.

The cover is worn and heavily creased, the original price clearly visible, $1.65. The date of publication noted as November 20, 1975.

The pages are brittle and yellowed without any inside wear or markings. The most surprising part of this little book was it was filled with its own treasures.

Pressed between pages were several prayer cards, a Christmas card from Rome signed by Father John wishing the recipient a Happy New Year and telling them they’d been remembered in his Christmas Midnight Mass, a book mark from the March of Dimes, a tiny drawing of a curly-haired girl dressed in brown button dress, wearing a straw hat, holding a bouquet of yellow and blue flowers, and two beautiful prayers written by Helen Steiner Rice.

I’d like to share one of those prayers with you today:

Often we pause and wonder

    When we kneel down to pray—

Can God really hear

    The prayers that we have to say…

But if we keep praying

    And talking to HIM, 

He’ll brighten the soul

    That was clouded and dim, 

And as we continue

    Our burden seems lighter, 

Our sorrow is softened

    And our outlook is brighter

For though we feel helpless

    And alone when we start, 

Our prayer is the key

    That opens the heart, 

And as our heart opens

    The dear Lord comes in

 And the prayer that we felt

    We could never begin

Is so easy to say

    For the Lord understands 

And gives us the new strength

    By the touch of His hands.

~Helen Steiner Rice

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you and may you find treasures of your own.

~Peace~

August 3, 2018

“It’s a commonly expressed and rather nice, romantic notion that we are all “sisters” and “brothers.”

Let’s be real. Fact is, we might be better served to accept that we are all siblings.

Siblings fight, pull each other’s hair, steal stuff, and accuse each other indiscriminately.

But siblings also know the undeniable fact that they are the same blood, share the same origins, and are family.

Even when they hate each other.

And that tends to put all things in perspective.” 

Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Today my sister, Beth, would have been 63 years old.

Growing up, she was the first of the three of us to have a birthday. My-oh-my, we heard about her birthday from the first day of summer vacation.

We heard daily what gifts she wanted, what she wanted for her birthday supper, and what type of cake and ice cream she wanted for dessert.

No one on earth was ever more excited about their birthday than my sister. It annoyed me to NO end.

Now…remembering how much her simple joy irritated me makes me very aware of how many things I take for granted. Today, I’d give anything if she were here. I’d treasure every single minute, showering her with my undivided attention, ensuring she had her every wish fulfilled.

I miss her every single day–especially Sundays. After eleven years, I miss her now more than ever.

“The loss of her is already too much and then there’s the other thing – the end of being loved in the way only my sister could love me. What I feel for her survives and that hurts like battery acid every minute, but worse is that what she felt for me died with her. I will never be loved like that again.” 

Emily Maguire, An Isolated Incident

As we begin our weekend, remember many among us are grieving or worried. Take time to be a little more tolerant, dig deep for that extra bit of patience, and just be kind.

A friendly reminder–be kind to yourself as well.

None of us can know or understand what another person is going through. If you can’t be kind–God knows I’ve struggled with this lately–be silent and still.

I am…

B…simply being…  

God bless you and may He shower his grace upon us all.

~Peace~ 

 

Showing Up

“Love does not cost anything. Kind words and deeds do not cost anything. The real beauty of the world is equal for everyone to see. It was given by God equally to all, without restrictions.

Everyone, was given a beautiful vehicle in which to express love to others. Feelings are free to express and give to ourselves and each other through our willingness to give and care.

What is complicated about this… Why have we made others feel they have to climb mountains and swim oceans in order to make a difference.

All we need to understand my friends, is that human life was given equally to us all, not partially but in totality.

The sun was given to all. It does not shine on the few. So, just has nature is indifferent to our station or situation, we need to know that we are all equal. We need to focus on the things that are constant and not place our values on things that can be blown away with the next, great, wind.

Value life in what ever house it dwells. For when it comes time that we are all stripped to bare bones before the divine and facing eternity, we will understand that the only law we were meant to follow, was to love ourselves and each other. Nothing more…nothing less.”

Carla Jo Masterson

This morning my cousin posted an old picture of her mom sitting beside her at their kitchen table.

I smiled.

It was a wonderful picture–both looked happy and full of life.

Her photo reminded me of one of the last times I’d seen my aunt and uncle.

It was the day of my dad’s funeral.

I’m sure Howard and Theresa had not seen or spoken with my dad for many years. In spite of all the family baggage shared among us, they were there, waiting to wrap my sisters and I in their warm, loving arms.

I was so surprised to see them–the represented so much of my past life to me and made me feel as though my mom was part of their hugs. What a gift they gave us that day.

I’ve become very aware how unpredictable life can be and how quickly we can find ourselves in a world we no longer recognize. I’ve learned that’s when those of us who have been in that strange land need to step forward and stay close to the new arrivals.

Sometimes the most important thing we can do is simply show up.

“We can all make a difference in the lives of others in need, because it is the most simple of gestures that make the most significant of differences.”

Miya Yamanouchi

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace be with you~

 

 

 

Ego

“Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience – waiting, and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking.” 

Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

I’ve had zero patience with myself this past week. My self talk has been especially nasty.

I’ve blamed it on the heat–maybe I’m dehydrated. I’m tired–maybe I need a nap. I did just get home after traveling and indulging in those late conversations fueled by excellent wine and amazing company.

Maybe…

All those ideas are basically old excuses made so I can dismiss the negativity. I’m a pretty quick study and I have that worn out puzzle memorized–connecting all the dots is a snap and in a matter of minutes every uncomfortable question is excused away.

Case closed–moving on.

NOT so fast, girl friend.

I’ve discovered any issue explained in such a neat and easy fashion must be flagged as dangerous. More often than not, I’ve read or heard something that stirred up something in my past that remains hidden in my subconscious mind.

It gets tricky trying to understand what triggered the internal alarm that alerted my insecure and fragile ego. This summer I’ve been pushing hard against all those walls I’ve constructed over the past sixty years. I suspect the answer may be as simple as slowing down some–giving myself more space a little more time.

Right now, at this very moment, I’m thinking it’s time to pour the wine, take a deep breath, and give thanks for all the good surrounding me.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace be with you~

Cinderellie

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.” 

Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

In July of 1985, I walked away from my old life and home, packed my car, and headed from Waterloo, Iowa, to Denver, Colorado. My two sisters took vacation time to travel west with me to help me settle into a duplex I had not seen in a town I wasn’t even sure how to spell–was Englewood spelled with an I or an E?

I did learn how to spell my new hometown and we did make it to my new address without any real problems. There was that scary guy in Sterling, Colorado who ran a stop sign. In a nano-second all our futures were in question–thank God our guardian angels were near and attentive.

The three of us arrived, tired, but quickly unloaded the car and moved what we had into my new home. As the sun rose and set, we waited for the moving truck to arrive.

We waited…and waited..and waited. My entire house had been in storage for weeks because there was a high demand for moving trucks in Iowa at that time. I was part of many who were heading west.

As time passed, I was learning how expensive it was to move to a new city in a new state where you had no established credit. My savings dwindled away and we were all still sleeping on the living room floor.

When the moving company returned my many calls, the news was not good. They could not locate “my stuff.”

What? I’m a thousand miles from “home” and I’m being told the moving company has lost all my stuff? And…I’m scheduled to start my new job in a week.

I learned a lot during this time in my life. I learned a cashier’s check does not clear immediately. I learned that the cost of living in the Denver area was MUCH higher than I’d expected. Seven to ten days is a very long time to pinch pennies. I learned even though Denver was a mile high and the nights often cool down, it is still very hot in July. I learned that three women living in an empty duplex for a week with nothing to do lose patience with waiting and with each other.

My lessons continued to come fast a furious. I can’t say it was easy–I struggled. I can say I did eventually learn to trust myself and I survived–alone. There were no cell phones–long distance phone calls were expensive. I had no extra money for phone calls. I had my kind and generous friend, Cindy, who was there for me. The problem was Cindy lived quite a distance away and she had a young daughter and her own new job. Being on call did restrict us but thank heavens calling her was a local call.

My first day at my new job was a whirlwind. My co-worker lived a short distance from me. In order to make it easy for me, she offered to give me a ride that week back and forth to Children’s Hospital in Denver. Lucky for me, both our department and the hospital at the time were small. The cardiology department and cardiovascular surgery shared the third floor of Tammen Hall, expanding the size of my work family. That first day it seemed I met dozens of people, all of them were talking about the Huey Lewis and the News concert they’d all gone to that past Sunday.

As I stood listening to snipets of their conversations and enjoyed their bursts of laughter, I knew I’d found my new spot. My gut told me, with time and patience, I’d find my way into this exciting group of people. I wasn’t sure how. I only knew that they represented a large part of what my new life would hold–I was soaking up their energy and the genuine love I felt they had for each other.

By the grace of God I DID become part of this amazing group of people. We were all the same age or close to the same age. Our work was important to us and we worked extremely hard doing it as well as we know how. We worked long hours and covered call–our time off was precious. We played as hard as we worked. Because we were older, we’d all been “players” in the past and most of us had experienced “being played.” We were done with the games–we wanted people around us we could trust. We encouraged each other when we had bad days, when we made mistakes, when we lost patients, when we had relationship issues, and when we experienced those times when we felt lost and alone. Through it all, we knew we would be there for each other…

I’ll never ever forget how this group of people took me in and made me feel loved and always welcome.

This group I knew I had to join earlier this month–to be with one of our own and comfort her during her time of loss as only old friends can.

The best way I can think to talk about Julie and John is to retell a story she shared at John’s memorial. I’d heard the story before but it’d faded from my memory.

Both John and Julie worked at Children’s in Denver for years–Julie in the heart room in the OR and John was a radiologist. Even though they’d most likely walked by each other daily, they’d never really met. Now they were both newly single meaning there were several people making it their mission to get them together. As we know, timing is everything–throw in a little bit of luck and you have a grand plan. The date of the annual hospital gala was rapidly approaching. All those great minds came together to nudge John, suggesting he ask Julie to the grand event. He agreed to ask her and the plan was in motion.

John asked and Julie nervously accepted.

John arrived at Julie’s and rang the bell. Carol, Julie’s roommate, rushed to answer, and as Carol describes it, she opened the door to this tall and handsome man, dressed in a black tuxedo, smiling, and holding a single red rose. Carol quickly admits she wanted to say she was Julie but, alas, knew he knew better. Welcoming him in, she ran upstairs to tell Julie he was there. Opening the bedroom door, Carol sings out:

“Cinderellie, Cinderellie, your Prince Charming is here!”

For the next 26 years, John was her Prince Charming, standing beside her through all their trials and tribulations. It wasn’t easy. They faced many challenges and they both found ways to make it all work. They were a good team and they had three amazing sons who will help us all take care of their mom.

It has been an honor, privilege, and a blessing witnessing and being a small part of this grand story. Like so many of our childhood fairy tales, we watch helplessly as the ominous music crescendos, signaling the wicked witch has released her evilness out into our world. We prayed the witch would be foiled. If we could find a way to defeat her our hero and heroine would live happily FOREVER after. Reality strikes again. This time, cancer proved to be the greatest and strongest Witch of the West and that damn clock chimed midnight much too soon.

I love you, Julie. My John rest in peace knowing we will all take care of you as we’ve taken care of each other for all these years. You will not be alone–none of us will be because we all have our memories to give us comfort and eventual peace.

Abba Father,

You hold time within your hands, and see it all, from beginning to end. Please keep and carry these precious people in their sadness and loss. Cover them with your great wings of love, give their weary hearts rest and their minds sound sleep. Lord, lift their eyes so that they may catch a glimpse of eternity, and be comforted by the promise of heaven. 

We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Reach out to those who may need you today.

~Peace be with you~

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.