Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I believe in goodness and in doing good;
I believe in happiness and in being happy;
I believe in Christmas, all of it;
I believe in love and in loving;
I believe in responsibility and in doing my best to be responsible;

I believe in hope and in not giving up;
I believe that you can't have hope without having faith;
I believe that faith is simple and basic to life;
I believe that...

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!
Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!
When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,

And Say,
The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

I believe!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Call for Renewal

"I want to live in a world where our hearts are bound together. We need civility, understanding and kindness instead of this selfish, incredible incivility and mean-spirited cruelty that surrounds us today."  Peter Yarrow

In this season of love and grace, may we all be reminded of what God did for us.

Why then, don't we value life and each other more? Why has commercialism taken over our lives? What are we teaching our children?  Is there any doubt that evil exists in our world?
Look first in your heart; then look to God.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have a great time on your trip!

Life is hard.  Life is worth living. Life is a canvas.  Life is an experiment. Life is a cabaret.  Lots of quotes and philosophies about what Life is, show up in every form of media that exists.

For me, Life is..... a journey, a trip, that each of us as human beings are on together.  We really are all in this together.  We make choices, some good, some not so good.  And we all reap the consequences of our actions.  That always sounds a little scary, but in reality, we reap lots more that are good than not.

But, Life is.... hard.  We get tired and worried and wonder what on earth is going on; and what if......!

When we are children, we look with trust to our parents for security, love, and happiness.  If you were blessed with parent(s) who gave you those things, you will most likely be a secure, loving, and happy adult.  But wait!  Once you are an adult, you realize what it took for your parent(s) to do all they did to provide for you.
They were tired, worried, and wondered what on earth was going on.  But they put themselves second and often were excellent actors, so that you could be the very best and happiest you could possibly be. 

In addition, if your parents were people of faith, then you were given a gift that is truly life-altering.  My parents lived their faith. That was the starting place for my own.  They never shoved their beliefs down their childrens' throats. Yes, we went to church all of the time, and it gave me additional information to help me on my spiritual journey.  But in our daily life, we were not forced to read the Bible and pray out loud, or any other routine except saying the blessing at meals.  Mostly, what I learned was that it is important what you believe.  So, since then, I have been seeking God's guidance and blessing as I continue on my journey. 

Right now I am feeling the need to re-read my very favorite Max Lucado book, Traveling Light.  I would highly recommend it to anyone; easily read, truly both moving and pertinent.

Here is a short description:

"Weary travelers.  You've seen them--everything they own crammed into their luggage.  Staggering through terminals and hotel lobbies with overstuffed suitcases, trunks, duffels, and backpacks.   Backs ache.  Feet burn.  Eyelids droop.  We've all seen people like that.  At times, we are people like that-if not with our physical luggage, then at least with our spiritual load.  Fear.  Worry. Discontent.
No wonder we get so weary. We're worn out from carrying that excess baggage.  Wouldn't it be nice to lose some of those bags?"
He goes on to use the twenty-third Psalm as a guide to why and how we should release some of the burdens we were never meant to bear.

OPTIMISM: "Play hard, laugh hard, and leave the worries to your Father."
Be a bottomless well of optimism flooded by a perpetual spring of faith.

— Max Lucado

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deja Vu

We went to Linda O'Brien's memorial service on Saturday. It was everything a memorial service should be. Friends and family reflecting on happy memories, laughter, tears, poems; all heartfelt. There were wonderful picture boards showing Linda's life as full and happy.  It was a reminder of the awesome importance of family. Family that extends to those you love and who love you, even those that are not related through your bloodline.  It was a time that began healing the broken hearts that most acutely felt her loss.  She was a person of deep faith.  For a quiet person, she was prone to humor, laughter, and smiles that lit her up from the inside.  She loved deeply and unselfishly. She was a person to remember and emulate.  Thankfully, her gentle, loving spirit can be seen every time you are around her children, Kathy and Tim.

A most special time during the service was a reading by her brother, Jim Harrer.  Both grandfathers were Lutheran ministers and Jim read from a book of prayers that had been passed down through the family.  The prayer was printed and read both in German and in English.  It is so beautiful and I would like to remember it and the moment always.

Abendlied                                                                              An Evening Prayer
Muede bin ich, geh zur Ruh                                           I am tired, go to sleep,
Schliesse beide Aueglein zu;                                        Close both my little eyes;
Vater lass die Augen dein                                             Father let Your eyes
ueber meinem Bette sein.                                              Be over my bed.

Hab ich Unrecht heut gethan,                                    If I have done wrong today,
seih es lieber Gott, nicht an.                                        See it not, beloved God.
Deine Gnab und Jesu Blut                                            Your grace and Christ's blood
macht ja allen Schaden gut.                                       Truly makes all bad things good.

Alle die mir sind verwandt ,                                        All that I care about,
Gott, lass ruhn in deiner Hand,                                  God, let rest in Your hand.
alle Menschen gross und klein                                    All people big and small
sollen dir befohlen sein.                                                 Should be following You.

Kranken Herzen sende Ruh,                                          Broken hearts send rest,
nasse Augen schliesse zu;                                              Teary eyes be closed;
lass den Mond am Himmel stehn                                Let the moon stand in heaven
und die stille Welt besehn.                                             And view a peaceful world.

Is that not beautiful?

At the end of the day, we stopped at the King's home to see the kids and Ben.  Only Shelby had come to the service.  What a treat - all of their children plus all of the cousins were out playing and running around.  They had been building a fort; or more specifically a series of forts. They were soooo smudgy with dirt, paint, and I don't know what all... They were beautiful!  After such an emotional day of reflecting on life and family, I was transported back in time to a place where life was simple and good.  A time where there were still troubles and problems, but their sharpness and ability to wound was less.  

At my age, funerals have a deju vu effect to them.  Older, younger, my peers - I have been touched in some way by each life whose funeral I attended.  But it is Life, not death, that I am reminded of.  The deja vu is the whisper of happiness, thankfulness, and faith.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

" Fog this morning...adjust your schedule accordingly."

The weather - Even though in Florida we have LOTS of weather that is the same for long stretches, I faithfully watch the weather forecast on Channel 8 or Channel 13 in the morning. Habit? Probably. But, you know, I've learned that things can change pretty fast in life. So just maybe the weather bears watching. Right?

For instance. Today - first cup of coffee; Dave Osterberg with the weather; tropical depression now Hurricane Paula in the Caribbean; additional moisture resulting in some early morning fog. "Well", I thought to myself, "I'll go outside and take an awesome photo of the fog sifting through the trees." So I did. Not the awesome part, just the pic. But it is what happened after, that illustrates that good changes can come sometimes even when you think you are drifting along in sameness.

Because I got out of bed and out of the house, I was totally awake and refreshed when I came in. I read today's devotional from Charles Stanley which was on Advancing through Adversity. Quite appropriate considering Drew and his loss of job and place. The fog of change has descended big time. So I sent it to him, because it was uplifting and reaffirmed his efforts to keep on keeping on. Also, that he needs to trust in God's faithfulness to work for good in his life.

Then I got inspired to start this blog entry, because I also thought about our daughter-in-law, Sandi, and how she is being pulled between the joy of her trip to Germany and the reality of the "sameness" of life at home. Now, there is much that is wonderful and new and happy in her life here. And she has every reason to be optimistic. But the "fog" for her right now is the dynamic duo of relationships and money. That would be complicated and lack thereof respectively. It is hard to see that good things are going to come out of this. (And what is good anyway?)  But I have every reason to believe that they will based on past experience.

So here's to sameness and the fog of change. If life were always fun and easy then it would be the same all the time. How could we possibly appreciate the wonderful times? Fun and easy would seem stale and old.

It is because they don't happen all the time that they are so special.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Happy Life

These are just some observations that are by no means original. But having had a roller coaster six months of highs and lows, after spending one day with our grandson has reminded me of how easy is it to be happy. Surround yourself with those you love and who love you. Eat and drink when you are hungry/thirsty. Enjoy where you are placed and look around to see why you should. Share your happiness because it comes right back to you. Kisses are also very important to share. And remember to be thankful for it all.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Perfect Song

I love music. I don't just enjoy it. I don't just use it as a way to pass the time. I don't care whether there are both words and music. I just love it.

Growing up I learned to play the piano and in this way I learned a great deal about the mechanics of music. The staves, treble and bass. Octaves and other basic terminology I got early on in my life. I loved that I could make wonderful sounds come from the piano.

In high school and in college, I was in the band. (Note: I also loved athletics, being in shape, and competing against my friends. But that is another story.) I had some awesome band directors who were wonderful teachers of music, but who also pushed us to be better than we were. No excuses just because we were a small school. This is the time period when I realized that music was something special in my life.

But the first memories of music in my life were my parents playing records and listening to the radio. They would sing and dance to the music. (Note: My Mom could not carry a tune in a bucket. Didn't matter!) They were so happy. When I was about eight, we got our first television. Most of what was shown during the day were music videos, of all things! I got to see the people sing and play the instruments that I had heard on the radio and records. I learned every word to every song on "Your Hit Parade." I wanted to be one of those people.

Well, quite honestly, I squandered such talents as I possessed by not realizing that even though you are good at something, to be great requires great effort. But, even so, the love of music has never left me.

We got our first stereo when I was thirteen. A real stereo with speakers that sat against opposite walls. I listened to records while lying in the floor of our living room, until I could recognize each instrument and the musical line it was playing; I learned about the ways music was organized. Instrumentals could and would move me to tears. To this day, when I hear Tara's Theme from Gone With the Wind, I anticipate every note and cry like a baby. Percy Faith, Roger Williams, Mantovani, Ferrante and Teicher, I loved them all.

Ahhh, but music and words..... to be perfect, a melody needs a voice. Truly, I could sit and list songs that I love and have great meaning in my life, and it would go on and on. But to pick one, well, not an easy task.

This past year has been full of many, many wonderful events and people. Sadly, some of these will never come again. Thankfully, many of them will. Not surprisingly, music reminds me of these people and events, so in that sense, I'll always have a reminder of them. One of the poet/musicians who has been part of my life for close to forty years is Jimmy Buffett. His experiences and insights are what drive his words. To listen to them all is to understand the world according to Buffett.

He went to Paris is a song that, to me, is a perfect song.
The melody and the instrumentation together generate such a strong emotional response in me. But the story... oh the story, is a tale of us all. We go through life "looking for answers to questions that trouble" us so. When we are young, we are full of idealism and want to change our world for the better. But we get distracted; we fall in love with life... and with others. And time slips away. We move from one place to another, have babies, fight battles, and come away scarred. But we keep searching.... and time slips away. The fortunate ones alight in a place and situation where days are full of purpose and beauty surrounds them. And toward the end they can say, "Some of it's magic and some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way."

I'm listening, Jimmy.

He Went to Paris.. by Jimmy Buffett

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Well, gosh, after two weeks at the beach I should still be flying high! Actually, I am really struggling with sadness. I feel the loss of family. I feel the loss of place. I think I even feel the loss of purpose that came with being a teacher for so many years. Why now???

I am in transition. Looking back over my life, I know that transitions have never been easy. Some came more easily than others, but truly they required personal adjustment and more importantly, faith. Faith that my children will be happy and fulfilled. Faith that my ineptitude at money management won't leave me destitute in my old age. Faith that who I am won't be damaged by time and circumstance to the point that no one will want to be around me.

Melancholia - such a more comforting word than depression, I think. It runs through both sides of my family like good skin and poor feet! Without faith, I don't stand a chance of making these transitions successfully. Constantly second-guessing myself, wasting time, postponing activities that will make me happy, worrying about circumstances that I have no control over; it's all there every day, waiting to bring me down.

Why is it so hard to remember all of the things we have to be thankful for and only dwell on the uncertainties instead?

I love this wonderful place where we live. I love my family. We have been blessed with the most precious grandchild. I have a few good friends who truly care about me. I have an amazing husband who loves me after all of these years together. I have absolute faith in God and the promise of eternal life through the gift of His son, Jesus.

So,beaches.....I have so many wonderful memories of being at the beach from both my childhood and my married life. Memories of being carefree, being in love, being young, giving the same memories to my children. Perhaps there was also the realization of just how many changes I have already weathered. I pushed the memories to the back of my mind until now, where they have jumped full-blown to my conciousness. Change..... transition..... uncertainty.... DEAL WITH IT....Faith! Be thankful and express it. Get up and get moving. Don't wallow in uncertainty and indecision. Give the people you love credit for loving you back! The ones that don't, will be replaced by ones who do. Give God credit for doing what He says He will do. Move on....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Losing Hurts

"Mama whispered softly, time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, how can I help you to say goodbye
It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry
Come let me hold you, and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye"
(Lyrics by Patti Loveless)

No matter whether it is a friend who moves away;
a hard fought competition that is lost;
a pet who dies;
a marriage that ends;
a job that disappears;
a beloved relative who dies;
It all hurts.
It is all inevitable.
And we must expect the pain if we also want the joy.
No one makes it through life without some disappointment and sadness.
But we all need someone who is there for us.
Who feels our pain.
Who wants to make it better.
Those of us with a Mom or Dad who has been that person are truly blessed.
Those of us with a spouse who becomes that person are truly blessed.
Those of us who become that person are truly blessed.
People are important.
Each of us needs to take more time to remember and give thanks for the blessings in our life.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Joyous Pain

Why is it that we, as parents, spend so many years preparing our children to be independent, successful, and happy? When what that really means is that we, as parents, must also be preparing ourselves for the enevitable pain of letting go.

Our hearts, lives, and outlook changes forever when we have children. We are not the same ever again. I would not want to be that pre-child person either! Because of being a parent I was a better teacher. Just think, the 34 years of my working life would have been less satisfying. Perhaps, I might not have known what I was missing, but I certainly understand now. They were never just 'students'. They were someone's child. I treated them like I hoped other teachers treated my children - seeing them as individuals with infinite potential who deserved the best I could give them. And some of them left lasting imprints on my heart.

So our hearts are wrenched and torn; separation is so painful and so inevitable. Once again we are thankful for their successful moving on, but we must learn to live with the pain of their leaving. Change our routine, look for other thoughts to fill our minds, and remember the blessing of this joyous pain.

Then something happens that changes everything. A grandchild! Oh dear.... here we go again!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daily Blessings

Just back from a walk with Molly and Dash. Well, not quite just back.... I had to stop sweating and Jenny called and we talked quite a long time. YEA!

Anyway, the puppies and I walked a few blocks and then came back down the canal near our home. Now this canal is more like a creek and is like being in another, less scorching hot world.

We all walked in the water. Molly and Dash were sniffing new smells and chasing waterbugs and whatever else their imagination saw. I was relishing the coolness and the calm reassuring sound of the wind through the pines.

I hope we can live here until we can't! And that I have many more opportunities to do and share these simple things in life that bring me so much joy. It is truly a special place.

Thankfully, both Ray and I feel this way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Permanence is not something our society values. This devaluing is just more evidence of how far we have fallen into the trap of selfishness and materialism. Attitudes that are so prevalent that they are rarely even questioned any more.

I have saved writings from emails, books, and other various sources over the years. Some things just speak to you and you don't want to forget them! The following is one of my special favorites that I would like to be a part of my reflections. So I won't forget....

Some Things You Keep

Some things you keep. Like good teeth. Warm coats. Bald husbands.
They're good for you, reliable and practical and so sublime that to throw them
away would make the garbage man a thief.
So you hang on, because something old is sometimes better than something new, and what you know often better than some stranger's ideas.

These are my thoughts. They make me sound old; old and tame, and dull at a time when everybody else is risky and racy and daring and flashing all that's new and improved in their lives. New spouses, new careers, new thighs, new lips.
The world is dizzy with trade-ins. I could keep track, but I don't think I want to.

I grew up in the fifties with practical parents - a mother, God bless her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then re-used it.
A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

They weren't poor, my parents, they were just satisfied. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.
I can see them now, Dad in trousers and a tee shirt; Mom in a housedress. Dad pushing a lawnmower and Mom in the kitchen.
It was a time for fixing things - a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress.

Things you keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, re-heating, re-newing! I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant there'd always be more.

But then my father died, and on that clear autumn night, in the chill of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any 'more'. Sometimes what you care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.

So, while you have it, it's best to love it and care for it and fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. That's true for friends, marriage, and old cars, and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and blind cats.
You keep them because they're worth it; because you're worth it.

Some things you keep.

(Thanks to Sheri Sobek)


Being a "grandma" truly is alot like all of the cliches I've heard over the years.
1. It's wonderful; you get to enjoy them, then give them back to their parents.
2. Thank goodness you have babies when you are young - they take so much time and energy.
3. Loving a grandchild isn't quite the same as loving your own children because your children are entirely your responsibilty; all you have to do is the "love without reservation" part with a grandchild.
And so on.....

But being a grandparent is a reality check, too. Hey! I am almost 65 and still concerned about my children's happiness and well-being. But it does bring back the wonderful memories of babyhood that are so hard to enjoy when they are happening. Think tired, out of shape, uncertainty, too much responsibilty, not enough time or money..... Still, the infant and toddler stages were so special and it is a wonderful thing to reflect on as a mom.

We were blessed with happy, healthy, babies! I'm not sure we even have any pictures of them crying. Our daughter, Jenny, has told us that she is so thankful for having a childhood where she could just be a child. No drama, lots of love, and never a dull moment! Our Drew was just as happy and full of energy, if not more so. They were water babies and still are.

But eventually our fledglings had to leave the nest. All of our lives changed and moved on. But nothing changed about how much we loved them and wanted them to be happy.

Now we have more family to love and enjoy. We were blind-sided by the breakup of Drew's marriage to Sandi. I am still a little bit in denial there. And I wish things were different; 'If wishes were horses....'. Love isn't something I can turn off. I am thankful that Sandi still thinks of us as family. Otherwise, this would be even harder to bear. Jenny and Tim have had their bumps in the proverbial road, but have weathered them well. Didn't stop me from worrying and losing sleep, though. :-)

So, babies grow best with love and security. Then they fledge, and you must let them go through life and learn their life lessons, just as we did. And continue our loving, caring, and being concerned as they do.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catch Up!

Reflection just happens! I am out mowing the yard, and ZAP, I think how often I mowed our yard when I was growing up. Funny, I don't remember my younger sisters having to mow! But, I never really minded; it was fun being outside and it had a beginning and an ending; I had accomplished something and it helped my family.

After I got married, Ray mowed most of the time, although I pitched in occasionally. Mostly I was busy with children, school, and the house. The house was definitely at the end of the list. I have never been a good "housekeeper," even though I admire those who are. But the slack was always picked up by my wonderful and infinitely patient husband, Ray. He has washed more dishes and clothes, vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom, more than any wife has a right to hope for.

So, now I am playing "catch-up"! I mow; I wash; I fold; I dust; I organize; I fertilize; I vacuum; Gosh, this really IS a full time job!

I am finding my way in this new phase of life and liking it alot. Another bonus is being able to pray, read the Bible, and focus on getting my spiritual house in order as well.

Psalm 51 says, "Create in me, a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." My life, like this Reflection, is a work in progress.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Blind Side

I love my life. Granted, there have been times when I didn't; when I thought I was going crazy, so sad I might die, so worried I might totally collapse, so sure that I was supposed to be more than what I was.
That being said, I can truly say I have been blind-sided and truly sad, worried, and depressed, just a few times in my life. So, I am starting with the negative, because the list is pretty short.

1991 was NOT a very good year!
My brother-in-law, Pam's husband, Kevin, died unexpectedly.
Jenny and her then boyfriend, Tim, quit college and ran away to Arizona; when they left, they told no one, and did not contact us until about twenty-four hours after they left. Thankfully, Jenny called us. I don't know if Tim ever called home.
Drew was playing with a friend on the roof of his school and fell off, breaking his femur; this required traction, a body cast, and wheelchair for months. Once I gave thanks that he survived the fall, I ran on coffee and adrenaline the whole time.
Gosh I was glad to leave this year in the heavy dust of memory.

Worries about our children really aren't negatives. So I will leave those for other posts.

Losing my dad, grandparents, and other relatives I love, I don't think of as negatives either. I know I will be with them eventually. Though, I miss them each and every one. I miss my mom too. Even though I still have her, there are only remnants of this beautiful, dear, caring person whom I have loved my whole life and whom I still love.

So, the ups and downs of life continue. And truly, I may have to add a couple more things to my "blind-sided" list. But even so, God has been so good to me! There were so many times where I could have ruined my life, but somehow He got me through with few scars. Have I said "Thanks" today?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's me, it's me....

Well, I guess it is time. I've been talking to God and He has been telling me to write since I was a child. My daughter-in-law, Sandi, has also inspired me to blog instead of writing this all out by hand. My children have dragged me kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century! I even text now. :-)

At any rate, I do think it is important to record some specifics for my children and grandchildren (hopefully, they will be plural). But I also have a story to tell about life; my life, and the lives of those I love and those whose lives have touched mine in some way.

So, I'll have to do lots more praying and thinking to figure this out. But I'm glad to begin something new at this stage of my life.

For the record: At this time I am 64 years old; I have just retired from teaching for the second and last time; Ray and I have been married for forty-two years; I just applied for both Medicare and Social Security benefits; and I honestly don't feel as old as that sounds!