Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving List for the Week of Thanksgiving 2010

This week my Thanksgiving list is centered on family. Things about my family I am thankful for:

1. That I HAVE a family.
2. That we truly like to get together and hang out.
3. That our kids are attempting to stay in touch one way or the other. (Distance and busy lives challenge this)

4. I love the variety of personalities and temperaments, life interests, unique gifts and abilities. They enhance the whole. (As per pictures above)
5. I love each of our kids' spouses and the way marriage has changed and deepened each of them.
6. Grandchildren!!!!!! Never thought much about them and thought people that were so into theirs were sort of silly. I apologize to all my friends for talking about what Sonya or Teddy did or said, but I won't stop!
7. The sense of humor within our family circle is fun and unique and makes me smile thinking about it. (Also as per pictures above:)
8. I love that we are sisters and brothers spiritually, that adds so much depth and substance to our relationships.
9. The knowledge that when  hard times hit any of us we have a strong support system "in house".  A safety net.
10. I love our family's flexibility and willingness to "roll with it" just so we can all still get together no matter what the actual date of a holiday is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Month?! It's Been a Month?!!? My Thanksgiving list this week is, Friends:

1. I love the incredible variety of friends my life has been graced with. (Ages, backgrounds, locations, etc.)
2. I love the way they help me keep balance and perspective in my life.
3. I love that they have invited me into their lives for a lifetime or a season.
4. I appreciate their feedback on everything from what to wear or not wear to how to deal with major life issues.
5. The opportunity give and receive that they offer me is so life-giving.
6. Knowing that there is usually at least one person I can talk to when things are overwhelming me.
7. Sharing food, laughter, tears, and history making my life the richer for it.
8. Going on trips with them, such a fun thing and way to more deeply connect! I love that so many of my friends love to take trips together!
9. Being graced with enough friends that at times I do not keep in touch with them all as I should.
10. Having friends that extend grace towards me for my shortcomings such as #9! :)

TO MY FRIENDS: You are a blessing in my life and you are God's love extended to me in the flesh at those times when I need that! Sometimes we need Him to be flesh and bones.
A hug, a smile, a word, or an ear to listen. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thanksgiving List

So, I will name one thing or perhaps a person and list all the reasons I am thankful for it or them.

This week it is fall weather.
1. I love the brilliant, clear blue skies this time of year.
2. I love the lower humidity.
3. I love the smells in the air. Drying leaves, backyard fire-pits and wood stove smoke.
4. The start of wearing sweaters, jackets and boots, and sometimes hats.
5. Waking up to a chill in the air, bundling up in a robe, and really relishing that morning cup of java!
6. Chili, apples, and baking.
7. Walking, biking, and hiking in the lower air temps and humidity. I can breathe!!
8. It's still warm enough many days to wear flip flops, but cool enough to wear a robe in the morning and a sweatshirt in the evening.
9. Knowing that this is the time before all the holiday rush and a chance to catch your breath allowing you to mentally prepare for the holiday season.
10. The way the cool/warm days and chilly nights and morns ease you into the coming winter weather.
11. The hope that those plants that will shortly be dormant, "going to sleep" for the winter are dropping seeds and preparing to rest so that next spring new life will issue forth after a long winter.

So there's my list. I welcome any comments.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My First Blogger List: Pet Peeves

I am the queen of lists.
Just ask my family. And our past sitters. And anyone I did ministry or worked with.
Heck! Ask Fred! Although I am getting better. I don't add things into my list that weren't originally on it quite as often! You know you do this too if you even remotely have performance motivation issues!
I'm going to try to do a Thanksgiving List once a week and name one thing I am thankful about and a list of "whys" and reasons that I am thankful for it.

However THIS list is a list of  Pet Peeves:

1. People who do not use their turn signals
2. When I say "Thank you" to a fast food drive-thru window attendant and they act like they're doing ME a favor by taking my money and doing their job and never even acknowledge my presence.
3. People who do not trim back their shrubs and trees that overhang the streets and sidewalks that I walk on.
4. People who say that "his barks worse than his bite" as their dog lunges at me on my walk and they struggle to hold him or her back with the leash.
5. People who drive too close to me when I am walking. (There! Got all the walking ones out!)
6. When I love, love something whether a grocery item or a clothing or beauty product item or whatever and they discontinue it, stop stocking it, or replace it with a "new and improved" version.
7. Being put on hold and being made to jump through hoops in a voice menu.
8. talking to someone who is either answering their phone, checking their phone, or getting ready to and then using their phone, but never says "Excuse me" or " I'm sorry I do need to take this". Just hold up a sign that says "You are not my priority right now, but when I'm talking to someone else in person, I'll be sure to call or text you."
9. The way so many products are encased in plastic so that you have to use a sharp object to get it open at the risk of impaling yourself with the sharp object or the jagged edges of the plastic you've just attempted to cut open.
10. Why would there be some clothing items that merchandisers decide to make in "petite" but not in "tall"? So, I guess this pet peeve is "height bias".
11. Talking to someone who I can tell is already thinking of and formulating their response and not really paying attention to (the rest of) what I am saying. (I KNOW I have done this and THAT'S a pet peeve as well!)
12. Waiting in  a checkout line forever  and then another checker opens up just after I've placed the last item from my cart onto the little conveyor belt.
I am guessing there are plenty of you that have your own pet peeves and would love for you to share them with the rest of us if you want.
I am siting outside on our screened porch watching those giant black and yellow bumble bees swirl around the Mexican Petunias just outside our porch. They are languid yet somewhat frantic if that makes any sense. They are "languidly frantic" or "frantically languid".

They are drifting around in the October sunshine out there as though it is going to be summer forever and yet they seem to know "the gig is up"!
It's as if their internal body clocks know that there's only so much time until they'll be oh-so-dormant and they are trying to store up as much nectar or whatever they do as fast much as possible before the first killing frost.

                      I also haven't seen the hummingbirds as frequently this past few days.

The other birds aren't at the feeders as much now that their young are mostly grown and on their own.
Mama Flicker (woodpecker) feeding her young.
You'll need to click on this photo because Blogger won't show the whole picture for some formatting reason, but if you click on it you'll see the whole thing.

It's as if everyone, at least the above-mentioned critters, but me is ready for the next event, the next the year, in their life. I love fall, I do not love St Louis winters!!! Wait! I feel like I missed spring and summer!I also am keenly aware that part of the reason that this year and its seasons passed oh so fast is I was preoccupied with caring for my dying parent and that sort of takes your focus off of the everyday passage of time.

Well, the seasons are changing and I will with them, I just at times am struck by how unprepared I am for what's next. Then I think, " I don't have to be all prepared, I just need to continue to practice being in God's presence and HE will prepare me and my heart and mind and soul as well as all the swirl of life's ebb and flow around me.'
Then I get flooded with this peace.
It's sort of like I'm languidly approaching the frenzy of the world and the days ahead. I like that!

Monday, September 27, 2010

One, Just one, of my fears

Well here it is. I am afraid of aging poorly. Yep. That's it.
I am truly hoping and praying that I yield to God and age gracefully in all areas.
I want to have intergenerational relationships all over the world and across the socioeconomic board.
I want to stay functional physically and if that is not God's design for me, then I would like to grow to gracefully accept limitations to my abilities.

Anyway, I have watched the aging process up close and personal over the past decade of those friends and relatives older than I am and have seen it done well and embraced and done poorly and a life of some sort of bizarre denial and isolation or bitterness.

What I see as contributing factors to aging well are:
1. Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.
2. How narrowly or broadly focused your worldview and interactions are. (Self-centered, or other-centered?)
3. A living, growing, breathing faith. Not letting ourselves become comfortable or narrow-minded about our beliefs. After all, He is the Living God! We should seek to be just as alive and active and for our faith to follow suit.
(That's my mom on the left, me, and Helen, my mother-in-law in 2008)

Now in the midst of this post I want to include something that just came to me in my email and I posted it on facebook and sent it to a few friends. It spoke to me in my grieving the loss of my mom in July and the challenge of participating in the caregiving of my mother-in-law who is in the hospital with another broken hip. THis is one more in a long list of fractures and breaks over this last decade. Can you say strength training, walking, calcium supplements, a daily dose of a little sunshine, and if needed (for an osteoporosis diagnosis), bone-building medication?!
So, I want to leave you with this article and this NPR music link of Mavis Staples singing a tune written by one of the Wilco guys.
Article Link

Song Link

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sonya and Dora finally meet!

So we met Josh and Mis and the kiddos for lunch at Fuddruckers and brought Dora who had finally arrived home yesterday.
As you may recall Dora was a Ty Beanie Baby purchase form a truck stop in Alabama on our way to the beaches of Florida a couple of weeks ago. She went everywhere with us and I sent photos, texts with pics and videos home to our granddaughter, Sonya, of Dora's adventures with us on vacation.
Somewhere in Southeast Missouri on our return trek home we lost Dora!!!
As near as we can tell here is the most likely scenario.
Dora was in one of her usual perches in our car, sitting on top of the vent on the dashboard on the passenger side.

Sweet, trusting Dora...

As we ventured through the cotton fields in the Boot-heel, I kept shooting pictures of them for Sonya to look at later. (One of those fields is where I scarfed this particular piece of cotton that Dora is holding.)
Anyway, I had to open the window once or twice to get off a decent shot without "window scum" .
It is our humble opinion that Dora exited the safety of the car through the open window on a trajectory that was below my eye level as I was wildly photographing yet one more cotton field.
Sadly she was not missed until after we had stopped at a rest area and only upon starting to leave there did I cry out, "Where's Dora?!?!"
After tearing our fully packed vehicle apart, searching the entire grounds of the rest area and leaving my name and contact info with the rest area greeter (who I might add was horrified at our negligence!) we had to head on down the road towards home.
After several stops at truck stops and small towns Fred had me pull into a Starbucks with WiFi in Cape Girardeau and we found an identical Dora online via Amazon and promptly ordered her! (We have secretly been awaiting her arrival and had already dubbed her "Dora's evil twin sister")
So today was the long-awaited meeting of Dora and Sonya. I'd love to report that Sonya was overcome with joy and excitement, but truthfully, she seemed somewhat shy and embarrassed. It just took a little time for them to warm up to each other. Then they were fine.

And here's one more shot of Dora on the trip to Florida and one of her sunbathing at the beach.

It's important to provide adequate sun protection for her on the beach even though her skin is naturally darker because of her nationality.

Anyway we hope that (this) Dora survives the "baby crocodile" (that's Sonya's name for her little brother, Teddy) and the Buddies (the puggles) at Sonya's house and that she and Sonya have lots of adventures together.

Plastic Horses and Bulls

Yesterday Fred and I went on a wonderful bike ride on a trail at the Route 66 Park near Eureka right off of 44. Really a sweet ride. I never thought to take any pictures of it to post. However, I did get a picture with my phone of this horse statue on a really nice little horse farm just outside of Eureka after our ride.
Okay, okay, so I did think at first it was one of the real horses and was so impressed by how perfect it was.

 I guess the theme yesterday was statues or stuffed livestock. This is in the little waiting area at Guido's on the Hill. I wonder if he lost in the bullfight and ended up here!

I sent both of these animal pics to Josh and Missy to show Sonya, but I'm not so sure they did. It was kind of weird, but then so are we and Sonya already knows that!!

Below is a picture I took at the little city market in Springfiled last week on my mini-retreat there at Mike and Becky's home. I just thought, "too cute" and sent this to Missy as well. I really hope my daughter-in-law and Josh have unlimited text and multimedia!

As I sat sipping coffee in the little city market this was the view out the window and I was fascinated by the clouds through the windows and all the lines and angles.

One last picture, also from my phone was taken one morning last week before I left when Fred and I were on our morning walk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slowly I Retreat from my Retreat...

So, today I head back home to my guy. AND the mail and the ongoing care of my mom's finances and bills etc. etc. and all the problems that I left will still be there. BUT, I will be refreshed yet again. I am realizing I need a "refresher button or arrow" just like my computer programs!

So as I spoke to my friend Jill yesterday afternoon about a theological question this was where I was sitting and some of what I was looking at. Oh, I will miss this!!!!

One of my views. Today's reading in Ecclesiastes was, "Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him." v.3:14

Later in the afternoon I met up with Becky downtown for a yummy fish dinner at The Farmers Gastropub Restaurant and Bar. We had a silly and delightful time just being together in that beautiful space that years of friendship have carved out for us.

Such a pretty lady!

37 years after we met...

Then it was onto a stroll about the downtown area to the coffee shop/library on the square. Interesting subculture and lots going on at sunset there!
We kept running into this guy everywhere we went down there.

Girls and Kawasaki Ninjas all rate 2nd looks!

I love some of the architecture and colors in this "urban" :) area.

This is the little "city market" I went to the other day. So fun! It's a Cost Cutter.
KC has one that's a HyVee!

This little car-towing drama unfolded around the corner from us as we sipped our coffees. Awesome car!

So, all I can do is be grateful for the ability to just take off and retreat like this and for friends like Becky and Michael to open their home to me and let me just chill there for several days. It was a gift  of rest in a "spacious place"!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Day of Rest and Being Still

Ahhh. Here I sit. Becky has left for work almost two hours ago and I have been doing some "busy-work" and now I will sit in the uncomfortable yet strangely comforting stillness and quiet and try to quiet my thoughts. I am reading Ecclesiastes right now and finding it wonderful.

So, I just read the first 8 verses of Chapter 3. The one the Byrds made famous all those years ago in their song "Turn, Turn".
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:" (verse 1)
What is this time in my life?!?!?
IS it a time to heal, to mend, to be silent, to weep and to laugh?
I think so, but why is it so hard to do?
Perhaps because it is a journey, an adventure and I want to know the outcome, which defies the very spirit of an adventure. Right?

I am rather reluctantly reading Elizabeth Gilbert's latest book Eat, Pray, Love.

"Reluctantly" because I hate reading the latest trendy books. A leftover from my anti-establishment jones I suppose.
Anyway, she has some good stuff in it so far...I'm in the "Eat" phase in Italy, the first four months of her year experiment so to speak.
I also just read Mennonite in A Little Black Dress, another woman's true-life spiritual and life journey story.

I find myself so much more open to non-critically read and hear these people's hearts and questions, and musings. I think it's partially because the longer I walk with God the more I realize he's so much bigger and creative in his pursuit of mankind and it's comforting to realize that so many people that would be considered by conservative Christianity to be ultra worldly with little hope of redemption are asking the very same questions that many Christians are also asking if they would just be honest. In other words, I RELATE!!!!
I want the "open and exploratory dialogue that would, ultimately, bring me very close to God, indeed" that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about at the end of Chapter 4 in her book.
Now, I am aware that the end of her journey looks probably very different than mine...AT THIS TIME...but at least she is open to the journey which is exactly what God wants for us to be no matter what we label ourselves. He calls us his creation and his image-bearers, so he has an investment and a reputation at stake. He will not be satisfied, nor should we, with a "vanilla" existence when we could be and have so much more in our spiritual journey of which our years in this lifetime are one part of, a brief but terribly important part!

Hey on a lighter note. I just noticed the detail to the left of me in this photograph from my birthday dinner at Iron Barley with the fam. PERFECT!!! And so true!!!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time to Reflect and Pause

So, I am at my girlfriend's home in Springfiled, MO and loving it! She has the most aesthetically pleasing home to just "be" in!
There is plenty of origianl artwork from throughout the years from her and her talented daughters, wonderful photographs, large bay windows opening onto their "back 40" that is just plain restful and quiet. Wow, the quiet.

Becky and Michael's home invites you to rest and be inspired.

From the views from their windows...


and Front Yard...

To the artwork and photos everywhere...

Even their so-called "cluttered areas" are artistic and restful!

I am not totally without companionship...

Meet Cara(biner)

...and Malcolm the "man dog"!

Anyone would think that an "empty-nester" such as myself would have all the quiet she wants.
I find my days full and stimulating on so many levels. And that's good...
However, I feel God calling me at this time to BE STILL and this is always the very hardest thing for me to undertake.
SEE? "Undertake", I look at it as a task to accomplish, to tic off of my list of "to dos"!
So, my girlfriend graciously invited me to come be at her home and share evenings together (and maybe mornings if I get up before she leaves to teach her gifted ed class at 7 a.m.), but otherwise just sit here in the quiet and reflect or go to somewhere either stimulating or quieting here in the Springfield area.

I slept in until 7:20 which is late for those of you that know me, and had a quiet time. Then began to surf the web, read my emails, respond to some and even plan another trip. STOP MARSHA!!!
I need to sit in the quiet and realize what this last year (or 3-10 years) has meant to me and how God has been right there in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I love that He pursues my heart this way and fills me up when I don't even realize how empty I am. Such was the case when Fred and I went to Blue Mountain Beach, Florida a couple of weeks ago and I absorbed the rest and restoration and healing like a sponge.

         I am so blest and at times so dense, yet He just keeps on coming in and doing heart surgery.