Friday, September 1, 2017

J.W.

It's difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that it has already been 22 years since we said 'good-bye' to one of the most influential men in my life. September 1, 1995. My father-in-law J.W. "Jay"- one of the best - he has been missed.
He would be 100 years old this year.

What makes me sad is what he has missed since he left us. He missed meeting 10 more great-grandchildren - one of whom I secretly call "Jay" in his honor. But more than that, I am sad that those 10 great-grandchildren will never have the pleasure of knowing "Grandpa Jay" beyond the stories we tell them, or experiencing first hand the love and fun he would have lavished on them. He had his faults, and he made mistakes, as do we all. But he was kind, and loving and forgiving, and hardworking and honest, and loyal and dedicated. He gave this world 3 sons whom I have seen exhibit those same qualities; all character traits I think are well worth being passed down to the next generation, and the next generation...









I think one of the things I appreciated most about him was that he always referred to me as his "daughter." There was no "-in-law" qualification. I was his daughter, and he treated me as such. So today, I am lighting a candle and stopping again to remember this man who was a very large part of my life for 24 years, and continues to influence even today.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

42914 :: We Don't Have to Agree

Sometimes we don't agree with each other. That's OK with me. What's not OK with me is when someone assumes that I therefore hate them or feel compelled to change them to my way of thinking. What I do wish is that people would afford each other the same courtesy and respect that they desire for themselves: the right to their own opinion.

Period.

More likely than not, when you run into someone who disagrees with you, they are not looking to string you up. It's OK if they are vocal in explaining why they feel the way they feel. Dialogue is necessary to understanding each other. If you are so threatened about the opinion someone has, you might do well to examine why you feel threatened. Sometimes, it can be because you are not confident that you have made the right choice and are afraid that changing your mind will make you the loser.

The only losers are people who turn their backs on another human being without giving them the respect they deserve as a fellow human being.


It is no secret that I hate labels. Labels only mean something when there is a standard, like "100% Fruit Juice, no added sugar." When we slap a label of "Christian" or "gay" or "[insert your political party here]" on someone, those labels are far less standardized and come with lots of stereotypes and misconceptions on the part of the label-er or the person being labeled. Not to mention those labels represent only a fraction of what makes that person who he/she is. Unlike a juice box, no one is 100% any label we can think of sticking on them. And I guarantee that there is no person on this planet with whom you are going to agree 100% on any given topic.

When we can have an open, honest discussion about feelings and opinions, there is no place for labels or name-calling. There IS a place for saying, "Well, I don't quite agree with your choice / conclusion / opinion." Past that, name calling, shaming, belittling, or intimidation have no place in a civil discussion. We have enough other things to discuss... why not focus on what we have in common instead of our differences. We need to stop defining people by their "other-ness."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

42913 :: Slip Sliding Away

Not that I needed a reminder. As if I could forget the day I became a mother.

That my daughter is now 40 years old comes as somewhat of a surprise. I do know how to count, it's just that I have somehow missed accounting for about 35 of those years. I was told upon entering Motherhood that I should not blink, as I would be surprised by how quickly it passed by. Those were some true words.

So, in 40 short years we have gone from my precious Honey...


  ...to this lovely young lady...


to this accomplished, amazing, strong, spirited, beautiful mother of her own two lovelies...



I think I now understand how my Dad felt when I told him I was applying for Medicare. It's hard to fathom where the time has gone.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

42827 :: Reflecting on Judi

Taking some time to reflect on life after saying good-bye to yet another friend today. Cancer and other illnesses, if nothing else, at least give us time to prepare our hearts for that good-bye, but violent, instant death of a friend happens just as often, I have found. And it is wrenching.

A friend does not need to be a bosom friend or BFF to be missed. A friend is not necessarily that person you spend a lot of time with or have photo albums full of memories. A friend can just as easily be someone who is able to give you her whole smile and attention and make you feel that she genuinely cares about you. It does not take a huge investment of time, but it does involve being real and being vulnerable.

We look at Facebook sometimes and wonder how someone can have so many "friends." It's really quite simple: love on people.

So today we all  hugged each other and said as we seem to say too often these days, "We've got to quit meeting at funerals... let's get together soon."

A profound meme was posted after her memorial service that sums it up for me...
...that was Judi's legacy... the love she deposited into so many lives.

Friday, March 31, 2017

42825 :: Labels and Such

After reading this well-reasoned piece recently posted by , some thoughts regarding "mediocrity" and other labels formulated itself, that I just had to jot down...

Here's the thing about "mediocrity" - as soon as we accept labels from society, we redefine our value based on other's expectations and value systems.

Who is to say that a life spent within a narrow scope of influence has any less value that a life spent affecting millions?

That is not to say that a Mother Theresa should not follow her own passion and calling, but the point is: It's HER passion and HER calling.

Didn't Elizabeth Ann Everest, the nanny who helped shape the life of Winston Churchill, instill within him the drive and determination that consequently pulled an entire nation through a devastating war with the resolve to persevere despite the ever-present threat of invasion and defeat, and thereby affect millions who never knew her name? How can her role be labeled "mediocre"?

I would so rather see a world with a million persons who are parented with love and integrity, taking their passion into their world one person at a time that to see one Hitler wreaking his bigotry and hatred on 6 million and more.



It's not so much about what you do, but being obedient to what you are called to do.

Monday, January 23, 2017

42758 :: In which I offer my 2¢

It's a pity that some haven't grasped the concept that if they want something changed, they need to be actively doing something constructive to bring that change about. 

If you really want to make a difference, put your energy into advocating for those who have been marginalized. (And, I might add that advocating is not the same as marching and picketing.) 

Apparently, the only thing actually accomplished at this rally
was more work for city sanitation workers.
(I wonder if they appreciated receiving the overtime pay?)
...Constructive things such as:
  • volunteering time and skills to homeless shelters
  • veterans' organizations
  • women's shelters or crisis centers
  • elder facilities
  • abortion clinics or pro-life clinics (according to your belief)
  • lobbying their representatives to vote for or against bills
  • volunteering with inner city programs - sports, education, etc.
  • donating to programs such as Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.
  • helping people learn to get a handle on their debt and finances
  • working in a community garden or food bank
  • cleaning up parks and working with other environmental programs... 
...the list is endless, and there are a lot of people who have realized the value of doing those things. 

However, it sure seems like there are more who would rather sit back and point fingers and complain than actually put their social media and electronic devices down and follow Gandhi's admonition to BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.
Hardly a new concept, as Socrates said it long before Gandhi: 
Which leads to me conclude that this is not an issue peculiar to our generation.


Friday, December 23, 2016

42727 :: What is Christmas really all about?

Not to be snarky or Miss Grinchy britches, but this is what makes my head spin this time of year...

Now first, let me preface my rant by stating that I am a sucker for the Budweiser Clydesdales at any time of the year, and the snowmen feeding the Wells Fargo horses their carrot noses? I think that is an absolutely brilliant and timeless bit of marketing.

Snowy landscapes and houses lit up at night? Gorgeous!
But, "Does this say Christmas or what?" ... No
Grandparents reading a book to a child on their lap? Adorable!
But, "This is what Christmas is all about!" ...Still, No.
I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with enjoying the different seasons of the year. I don't think it's an abomination to decorate your house with snowflakes and snowmen to celebrate the cold weather, or even poinsettias to bring a contrast of color to brighten up the home any more than I think it's heresy to set out lawn chairs and eat watermelon in the summer, or hang out a flag to celebrate our country's independence.

But when someone says, "That just says 'Christmas' to me, I can't help but wonder why some of the very same people are the first to say "Let's Keep Christ in Christmas!" in response to all the over-the-top commercialism that abounds this time of year.

The word "Christmas" has somehow morphed to being synonymous with Winter. Or is it the other way around? Yes, I know all about the history of the church's subverting of pagan traditions and replacing them with religious meaning. Symbolism is a very powerful thing. There is symbolism all through Scripture. It is through the telling of stories and drawing pictures and correlations in our mind that truths take root and we remember the significance of a thing. That is why Aesop's Fables have lasted for centuries. That is why the morality tales that people have come to call "Fairy Tales" and "Nursery Rhymes" are still so popular. They paint a picture and leave the hearer or reader with a lasting lesson that they can relate to.

But, I seem to have drifted off-course a bit... so let me rein it in: I think we hold a double-standard when we cry "Foul!" at Christmas being subverted by commercialism, then turn around ourselves and equate any charming Winter-y or family scene with a "Christmas" vibe. If Christmas is supposed to be all about the Christ child coming, then tell me please: Where exactly is the Christ child in a snowy winter scene? And, yes, families are dear (or they were designed to be. I'm not suggesting everyone has fond memories of childhood or their family), but please don't misunderstand me when I say: I love traditions and family time as much as the next person. It's just that my mind does a distinct disconnect when it comes to calling something what it most definitely is not.

Call me a concrete literalist, if you will. Celebrate Christmas if that is your tradition. But can we at least be honest that Christmas is not about snowflakes and candy canes? Christ did not come to deliver a sleighful of presents. He is not found at the tip of a fir tree decked out in your picture window. Truth be told, he did not come in December at all, and that is another rant that has already been sung.

We are being dishonest with ourselves and each other when we say one thing yet act differently. Setting up a manger scene in the front yard, with Santa kneeling at the crĂȘche may be cute, but it's dishonest. When truth and tradition collide, I think it's very telling when we choose tradition over truth for the sake of not stepping on toes.