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

Today is the day of the week my friend, Mary, calls Thankful Thursday.

I thought about this today as I ran here and there.

One special set of experiences played around in my head all day.

I remembered people who showed up.

I remembered my Uncle Howard and Aunt Theresa showing up at my dad’s funeral. I can still see Aunt Theresa stretching across the people on the outside of the aisle so she could make eye contact with us as we walked out of the church. To see their familiar faces and looks of concern were salve to my broken heart. They did not call and ask if we wanted them to come–they showed up.

I remembered an old friend of Michael’s showing up at his mom’s funeral. I remember seeing Mike and Judy walking up to the casket to pay  their respects and giving words of comfort to Michael’s sister Neva as she stood at her mom’s side. They did not call and ask if we wanted them to come–they showed up.

I remember coming home after my sister’s funeral. My sister Sue, her husband Al, and my husband Michael had just finished a very long day. We were exhausted, hungry, and so very sad. As we walked up to the house, a group of my sister’s co-workers walked up beside us with bags full of food. They did not call to see what we needed–they showed up

On this thankful Thursday I was reminded how important it is to see where we are needed and simply show up.

“It’s funny how, in this journey of life, even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our love, compassion, observations, and hope. This is a design of God that I appreciate and cherish.” 

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

I am…

B…simply being.  

~Peace~

Ashes

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19” 

― The Holy Bible

I had trouble putting my story together yesterday so today it’s all coming together with the help of my friends, Judi and Glynis. They may be just as surprised as I was!

For the first time in many years, I went to a Catholic Ash Wednesday service. I, like many of my fellow Catholics, am very frustrated and unhappy with many of the things The Church has ignored. Every time I start to lean into the thought of going back, some new bit of dirt is uncovered. I mentioned this to Judi–a Catholic who regularly attends church services. After a few moments of thought, she shared her thoughts–

She, too, had and has issues with The Church. BUT, she told me, she attends church not for the church, but for herself. She goes for the feeling of peace it gives her.

Interesting…

I believe that God, Spirit, The Universe–whatever terminology you want use–is everywhere. A Church is simply a building–do I really need that?

Today Michael and I decided to check out St. Paul the Apostle, our local Catholic Church. The noon service was a short service for the distribution of ashes only. It was the perfect opportunity for us to visit. Situated at the top of a high hill in the hill country of Texas, the building and setting were spectacular. We sat in the back row, taking in the unobstructed view of Lake LBJ and surrounding waterfront.

As I sat and prayed, an overwhelming feeling of connection passed through me. From my hilltop seat I felt incredibly close to my departed family members. It was difficult for me to listen as the Priest read the passages and shared his Lenten messages. Is there more power in prayer when two or more are gathered in His name? Maybe Judi has a valid point–maybe I DO need to go back to church–for ME. Was this the feeling of peace she talked about–was this the “grace” I’d learned about as a child?

Glynis attends New Hope Baptist Church and shared her pastor’s Lenten message with me earlier today. I was impressed with the words her pastor chose in this teaching. The advice seemed so much healthier–mentally and physically–in ways to observe the Lenten season. Let me share some of the highlights:

  • …”What is Lent? Lent is the 40 day period in which many believers in Jesus reflect, repent and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter.
  • …The choice to observe Lent is a personal one–the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter.
  • If you are planning to participate in Lent this year, we encourage you to begin your journey not with the question of ‘what should I give up for Jesus?’ but instead ‘what is Jesus’ invitation to me right now?’ How does He want to renovate my character, my marriage, my work, my life? If you can answer that question, Lent will take on a deeper meaning for you.”

Thanks to Judi and Glynis, my Lenten season has taken a much different course than it has at any other time in my life. May the following prayer serve to guide as well.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on trust.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence, so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work. Amen.

– Attributed to William Arthur

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Dear Friend

“My Dear Friend, 

Don’t ever allow yourself to forget how incredibly special you are, even for a single second. Without you, the world would not be as magnificent. Let yourself remember to love again, starting with you loving you.” 

Miya Yamanouchi, Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide for Women

Oh, there are many people in my little circle of friends going through some difficult times.

I understand this is part of getting older. That does not mean I have to like it.

Take a minute, my friends, to reach out to those important to you–you will both feel better for it.

“I have noticed that most times, the least that you give out is the best that someone really needs. So, don’t always wait till you have something big to give before you do so! Someone’s “big” is your “little”!” 

Israelmore Ayivor, Daily Drive 365

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Sunday Dinner

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

Frederick Buechner

I’ve been thinking about family lately.

I think turning 65 is pulling at some heart-strings.

For many years every Sunday my sisters and I would get together for family dinner. I’d cook and we’d sit around. We’d share our stories of what happened to us that week, play cards, and drink some beer.

It was, by far, the most under appreciated time of my life.

As we begin our weekend, let’s all make a conscious choice to take time to appreciate those you love. Absorb every single moment, tucking those irreplaceable times safely away in that place you put all those special memories. One day these every day occurrences will give you comfort beyond measure.

“I may not always be with you 

But when we’re far apart

Remember you will be with me

Right inside my heart” 

Marc Wambolt, Poems from the Heart

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

 

Merle

Re-sharing my Father’s Day post from last year.

Daddy,” I whispered, feeling my own breath hitch in my throat. “I love you.”

Just when I was sure he was asleep, the one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. “I knew that,” he murmured. “Always knew that.” 

Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer

I was never good at writing about my Dad. It seemed like many of the kids at school had adventure stories to tell about their Dads–places they went or things they did together. I didn’t have those experiences. My story was always short. My Dad worked. The end.

He was the manager of the lumbar yard in the little Iowa town where I grew up. I did not really know exactly what that meant–but I was proud of him and that he was the BOSS–cool.

I’m not sure why, but I spent a lot of time there. I loved hanging out with him. I met a lot of the people who came in to ask him how much lumber they would need for this or what type of wood they should use for that. Some came by just to visit and share stories. I was very young–probably seven or eight years old. He would take a minute to introduce me to his customers. If he was out of the office, his bookkeeper, Delta, would do the same.I felt like just another one of the guys–and I liked that.

My favorite thing to do was clean his desk. It was a collection of catalogs, papers, and a gigantic business ledger. Now, as I look around at my own desk, it looks very much like the desk I used to “clean up” for him. He was a stacker. I did not realize until now that I’d inherited that trait. Gotta love those things that pop into your mind, onto the page, and into reality! I would dust and clean and re-arrange the stacks, all while listening to him order supplies or talk to customers on the phone or in person. He would tell those visiting that I was there to help him work and I was doing such a good job it would take him weeks to find things again.

What is so amazing to me now is how tolerant he was of me being in his work space.

I met most of the sales people who called on him. My favorite sales person, and a friend of Dad’s, was a man named, Royal. I think he was my first crush. He drove a huge, shiny, black car. (A car that would come into play later in my childhood.) Royal was very tall, tan, had thick very dark, slicked back hair, and he always smelled good, like my Grandpa. Regardless of the weather, he wore a suit with a tie. Dad would tell him to loosen up his tie and relax for a bit. I am sure I just sat and stared at him. He would take Dad over to the pool hall and buy coffee and pie–I was always invited and I had my choice of ice cream or a malt. One of my most vivid memories is Royal giving me a wooden nickel–remember those? Each time he was scheduled to visited, Dad would tell me so I could join them for coffee and I’d get my nickel and ice cream. I absolutely worshipped Royal. He made me feel special and he would sit with Dad, have coffee, and make us both laugh. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew he made Dad happy. Of all the things I did understand, even as a little kid, was that making Dad laugh was no small task.

Dad was not the typical Dad nor were we the typical family. He expected a lot from his oldest daughter–the daughter that he really wanted to be a boy. We all did our best, as strong and stubborn individuals and as an embattled family unit. We certainly faced some extreme situations. I am sure there were times when things were not handled very well but we somehow found ways to stay together. What I have come to understand is we all did the best we knew how to do with what we knew at the time.

I wish I had taken the time to really talk to him. I was so busy working at being the woman who could do it all and learn it all. I was fully aware that time was racing by but I felt I’d have that next visit to sit down and talk. That’s the cruelest of tricks, though. You always think you will have more time. Don’t fall for it, my friends.

Interesting, isn’t it,  for someone with no story to tell about their Dad, I seem to have stumbled upon some wonderful memories.

Take some time today to talk with your Dad–listen to him and tell him how important he is to you and that you love him. Next Father’s Day may be too late.

Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, y’all

Telephonophobia

If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me.

~Song title by Jimmy Buffett

I learned a new word today–telephonophobia. In case it’s a new word for you, let me tell you that it is a reluctance or fear of making or taking calls.

Interesting.

Who knew the kid who once begged for more time on the phone would become someone who really dislikes making and, at times, answering the phone?

Lucky for me, one of my best friends is not afraid. She’s been patient with me while I work my way through conquering this phobia. I’ve learned I need to prepare for important calls–set time aside so I am not distracted, making it easy for me to listen and concentrate. Even though I don’t like calls, once I’m taking part in the conversation, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to connect and share.

I was rewarded in the best way over the weekend. I was able to have a long conversation with my dear friend and old neighbor, Mary Beth. Thanks, MB, for taking a huge chunk out of your day and spending it with me. It wasn’t as great as sitting across the kitchen table with a glass or two of wine–but not bad for the distance that call erased for us both.

After we ended our call, I was so thankful for the time and stories we shared. I am so blessed and I am very grateful.

I found the following quote that sums our friendship up very well.

A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. It bothers you, not because you have given it too much meaning, but because God did. This is the type of person you don’t have to fight for because you can’t get rid of them and your heart doesn’t want them to leave anyways.”
― Shannon L. Alder

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

With the Help of Friends

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves  

 

It is a very cold and blustery day here in the hill country of Texas. It is a good day for thinking about things. It’s days like today when I miss my friends who are now scattered near and far. I am so grateful for each special and unique person who is part of my little circle of friends–the precious new mixed in with the beloved old.

My photo today is borrowed from my friend, Jane “Olson” Fredberg. Thank you, Jane, for being one of those souls who has been part of my life since junior high. We were classmates, sharing our common history of the loss of our mothers at an early age, followed by sharing your own cancer survival story when we were neighbors and I was one of those healthcare workers who were part of your journey.  Thank you for allowing me to share your Minnesota sunset and for being one of my beloved old friends.

I am blessed to have many friends who take their time to read and support me as I learn and grow as a writer/author. The mere thought of putting my words out there paralyzed me for a very long time. It is your encouragement that helps guide and stokes my hesitant passion. Thank you. I am grateful to you all every single day.

“A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I am…

B…simply being…

Wishing you all many blessing and love.

Peace

 

 

God Winks

One of the great benefits of writing is I have a reason to go through old stuff. My husband and I have downsized our lives at least three times over the past two years. In light of these moves, I’ve been shocked with some of the little things that have survived.

Today, the clipping and the pictures fell together in what I would call a God wink. What’s a God wink, you ask? I think most people would call it a coincidence. SQuire Rushnell describes it as an experience where you’d ask yourself, what are the odds of that? It’s like when you were a kid and sitting across the table from someone you love when they’d wink at you. You knew what that wink meant–they were thinking about you. God does the same–a God wink is His way of letting you know He is thinking of you and all will be okay.

For me, one of the greatest gifts of aging has been the ability to look back on my life. To see how certain people came into my life–or re-entered my life–at the moment when I needed them the most.

My family moved from Traer, Iowa, to Waterloo, Iowa the summer before my freshman year. That move was tough and made for a very hard summer. I worried every day about how I was going to handle being the new kid in a new school. I wouldn’t know anyone.

My Dad remembered another family who had moved from Traer to Waterloo. He found a way to contact them and gave them our home phone number. Within a few days, JoLyn contacted me, asking me where I was going to go to school. I told her West Junior. She quickly told me that she would also be going to West Junior.

Oh my God–the answer to my prayers. I would not be all alone.

What made her special was what she did next. It was a few days before school started and she knew the building was open. We set up a time to meet and she took me to the main office so I could turn in paperwork, showed me around the building, and gave me the tour of the other buildings on campus. That year we did not have any classes together but she checked on me often and made sure I was doing okay. In a big school, I always knew she was there if I needed her.

Debby Small was my neighbor and a year ahead of me in school. It was Debby’s house where I would go whenever I needed to get away. I loved going to the Smalls because their family was busy, loud, and loving. At least that is how I saw them. Debby had two brothers and two sisters and there was always something happening. I loved being in the mix because it felt real to me. They were the first family I saw being normal–if I came over and there was a fight in progress, the fight continued. There was no stopping because the neighbor kid was there.

At my house–things like that happened behind closed doors.

What my family didn’t seem to realize was, even though the doors were closed, the windows were still wide open. It was Tom and Karen Sink who clued me in about that.

Tom and Karen moved next door shortly after we moved in. They were a young couple with a toddler who needed a babysitter. After a few months of babysitting, they shared with me that they could hear some of the things happening at our house.

Our house was a house in constant turmoil. My Dad had remarried. There were problems. Tom and Karen knew. Tom and Karen took my sisters and me under their wings. I am not sure where any of us would be today without them.

These four people came into my life when I needed them the most.

I am still amazed and forever grateful.

I am…

B…simply being… 

Have a great weekend.

I love you.

Peace

Merle

I was never good at writing about my Dad. It seemed like many of the kids at school had adventure stories to tell about their Dads–places they went or things they did together. I didn’t have those experiences. My story was always short. My Dad worked. The end.

He was the manager of the lumbar yard in the little Iowa town where I grew up. I did not really know exactly what that meant–but I was proud of him and that he was the BOSS–cool.

I’m not sure why, but I spent a lot of time there. I loved hanging out with him. I met a lot of the people who came in to ask him how much lumber they would need for this or what type of wood they should use for that. Some came by just to visit and share stories. I was very young–probably seven or eight years old. He would take a minute to introduce me to his customers. If he was out of the office, his bookkeeper, Delta, would do the same.I felt like just another one of the guys–and I liked that.

My favorite thing to do was clean his desk. It was a collection of catalogs, papers, and a gigantic business ledger. Now, as I look around at my own desk, it looks very much like the desk I used to “clean up” for him. He was a stacker. I did not realize until now that I’d inherited that trait. Gotta love those things that pop into your mind, onto the page, and into reality! I would dust and clean and re-arrange the stacks, all while listening to him order supplies or talk to customers on the phone or in person. He would tell those visiting that I was there to help him work and I was doing such a good job it would take him weeks to find things again.

What is so amazing to me now is how tolerant he was of me being in his work space.

I met most of the sales people who called on him. My favorite sales person, and a friend of Dad’s, was a man named, Royal. I think he was my first crush. He drove a huge, shiny, black car. (A car that would come into play later in my childhood.) Royal was very tall, tan, had thick very dark, slicked back hair, and he always smelled good, like my Grandpa. Regardless of the weather, he wore a suit with a tie. Dad would tell him to loosen up his tie and relax for a bit. I am sure I just sat and stared at him. He would take Dad over to the pool hall and buy coffee and pie–I was always invited and I had my choice of ice cream or a malt. One of my most vivid memories is Royal giving me a wooden nickel–remember those? Each time he was scheduled to visited, Dad would tell me so I could join them for coffee and I’d get my nickel and ice cream. I absolutely worshipped Royal. He made me feel special and he would sit with Dad, have coffee, and make us both laugh. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew he made Dad happy. Of all the things I did understand, even as a little kid, was that making Dad laugh was no small task.

Dad was not the typical Dad nor were we the typical family. He expected a lot from his oldest daughter–the daughter that he really wanted to be a boy. We all did our best, as strong and stubborn individuals and as an embattled family unit. We certainly faced some extreme situations. I am sure there were times when things were not handled very well but we somehow found ways to stay together. What I have come to understand is we all did the best we knew how to do with what we knew at the time.

I wish I had taken the time to really talk to him. I was so busy working at being the woman who could do it all and learn it all. I was fully aware that time was racing by but I felt I’d have that next visit to sit down and talk. That’s the cruelest of tricks, though. You always think you will have more time. Don’t fall for it, my friends.

Interesting, isn’t it,  for someone with no story to tell about their Dad, I seem to have stumbled upon some wonderful memories.

Take some time today to talk with your Dad–listen to him and tell him how important he is to you and that you love him. Next Father’s Day may be too late.

Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, y’all