Losses and Gains

Today I feel like I am sending my kid off to college. I’m happy for them to have the experience and know it is part of their growth (as well as mine), but also feel a bit of a panic as I see that it is becoming real. 

Wrapping up this year of blogging feels pretty darn real and my emotions are mixed, for sure.

I want to write today of the losses and gains I have experienced over the last 364 days. As in every journey we begin, there are both. It is inevitable.

American politician, sociologist, and diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, stated “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” And friends, losses and gains are facts.

What I lost:


Relationship. I missed many a night sitting in bed eating popcorn and watching Black List or St. Elsewhere or Sherlock with my husband. Thank you for your patience and support, dear Mike. I’m coming back so get the popcorn popping. 

Socialization. In a previous blog I have mentioned my annual cousins retreat. Last fall at our gathering, I had to slip away for a couple of hours to write my blog. I probably missed some very meaningful conversations, or at least some great laughs. Whatever travel has happened during this year has involved me disappearing for a period of time to write.

Workout routine. Well, something’s gotta go. There is only so much time in a day. Along with sleep deprivation, my previous steadfast workout routine suffered as well.

A little pride. In the beginning of a project, no matter what it is, you have a Pollyannish bent. I assumed that thousands would flock to my site and Kathie Lee and Hoda would be sending me airline tickets to appear on their show in New York. Though that has not happened, I’m still believing it may. 

What I gained:

Perspective. A true definition of perspective is this: The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point. In simple terms, the way we regard something; our viewpoint. I like the long version of the definition. “…the right impression of height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other…” Everything that comes into our lives has its own weightiness. It is in measuring and balancing those things that make or break us. 

Knowledge. I have done a lot of research and reading, which has been fun. Knowledge also includes new words. I hope you have learned a few new ones, too.

The “every day remarkable”, meaning I began to see, hear and observe every day things as blog posts. It opened my eyes to the extraordinary ordinary.

New conversations. When I met new people and they asked about my life, I told them about the blog. When I ran into old friends and they asked what I have been up to, I told them about the blog.

Discipline. That one is a given. If anyone ever asks me how I was able to keep up, my answer will be exactly the way we should approach life, one day at a time. 

More photographed time with Mama. I was mindful every time I was with her that I may write about her in my blog that day. Very often I would snap photos of us together. I didn’t use all of them, but I have them. And they will always be a treasure to me.

A larger heart (not literally) from the love and kindness and support of dear ones. You know who you are.

Eleven pounds. Yep, sadly that is true. It is quite possibly a combination of reasons; decreased sleep, a stressful year with Mama, the loss of consistent exercise, as noted in the “losses”, and perhaps too many late night chocolate milks and kettle chips at my desk. 

An important aspect of healthy living is embracing the good with the bad, the sickness and health, the gains and the losses. 

I embrace every moment and every day of the journey, and I am grateful. 

An evening of Pondering

I zipped through a resale store today to look for some sturdy bar stools that may need a coat of paint. For fun, I breezed through the home decor section, as I am always on the lookout for a glass bird or a China tea cup or some other unique treasure.

This little vase caught my eye. “Life whispers, listen closely.”  This seemed like a secret message meant just for me. Perhaps the other 100 or so people who meandered through this store today thought the same thing.

I am with Mama tonight. Her confusion and hopelessness bring a sadness to me. There are several reasons.

First, I am sad for her. She does not smile. She is not lighthearted. She does not verbally express trust in her Lord, though I know in her heart, she trusts. 

She has no confidence. She worries that others know her business and are out to get her. She is afraid. 

Dementia is like a devious snake that winds its way through her mind, hissing and slithering into areas of inherent darkness.

Second, I am sad for me. Am I looking into a mirror at my future self? How many healthy years do I have left? Will my children become frustrated with me? Feel pity for me? Will I be alone and afraid?

If life is whispering to me, am I listening?

Pansy Love

I made a quick run through the grocery store today. Outside the doors, these beauties caught my eye.

Pansies are one of my favorite flowers. There are several reasons. One, the colors –  hues of purple; royal, violet, lavender, nearly black and the yellows… Ah, the yellows. Pansies also can be tricolored with tangerine orange and silky white.

The name “pansy” is derived from the French word pensèe, meaning “thought”, and was imported into Late Middle English in the mid-15th century. The flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance. “Love in idleness” is another name for pansies. This is meant to imply the image of a lover who has little or no responsibility other than to think of her beloved.

Another reason I love pansies is that they are velvety soft and delicate but also incredibly resilient. They are hardy. They can survive light freezes and short periods of snow cover. They are not very heat-tolerant (like me). Warm temperatures inhibit blooming and hot muggy air causes rot and death (I’ve felt that way in the summer). Pansies, however, do grow well in sunny or partially sunny spots. They grow best if watered only once a week.

Pansies are not fussy. They are not demanding. They are not complainers. They seek the warmth of the sun. They love a cold drink of water. Other than that, they just sit in their simple beauty, delicately swaying in the the gentle breeze and show their chubby little faces at every opportunity. I cannot look at pansies without returning the sweet little smile they always wear.

I want be a a 60 year-old pansy. I want to not be fussy, not be demanding, not complain. I want to seek out the warmth of the sun and drink in living water. I want to sway and move with the wind and bear the coldness when I must. I want to fiercely stand my ground, yet possess gentle, beautiful, delicacy.

And when others believe me to be weak and soft, I want to wear a smile. The mighty pansy knows that keeping a smile on its face does not change its circumstance. It knows that true strength is found there; that true beauty is found there.

And occasionally, just occasionally, there is love in idleness.


Serious Sunday

The idea of obsession refers to a disproportionate or unusual focus on something. For instance, someone can be obsessed with pottery making or Facebook or going to the gym. It simply means they pay more attention than most people to something, even most people who are interested in something. This is when obsessions can get tricky.

No one who has ever achieved anything impressive or made an outstanding contribution to anything, has managed do so without a certain level of obsession. An athlete, a musician, a writer, a scientist…these endeavors make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.

However, when an obsession becomes an addiction, that obsession can unbalance us. We often begin to neglect parts of our lives we shouldn’t. Obsession can become consuming and cause us to devalue important aspects of our lives to the point that they atrophy and even collapse.

The goal is to keep our lives in balance. If the object of our obsession is taken from us, we may find ourselves devastated, often convinced that we have lost our last chance at happiness.

But that belief is a delusion.

Our happiness never depends on any one thing, no matter how important that one thing may seem. That bears repeating.

Our happiness never depends on any one thing, no matter how important that one thing may seem.

When properly harnessed, the drive, the determination, the increased energy and even the resiliency a (healthy) obsession brings can serve us. It can motivate us to find the creativity to solve difficult problems.

It seems that nearly everything in life requires that delicate balance.

The thought of the weekend message was ‘pay attention to what you pay attention to’. There are no holds barred on that statement. It brings immediate clarity to what it is we give our attention. And it is different for every one of us.

On a lighter note of the same subject, here is a bit of where my attention goes.

Some people drive down the road and stare a little too long at a car or a pretty woman walking down the street or a handsome man in his yard or a tractor…you get the idea. If I am ever going to run off of the road staring at something, it will be flowers.

In the spring and summer, I always, always, always notice flowers in a yard. And if I see window boxes with flowers in them, it gets really serious.

If I am ever pulled over for suspicious driving, it may be difficult to explain to the officer that I was simply looking at flowers. And if I am asked to walk a straight line, I cannot guarantee that I will pass the test if there is a winding row of daffodils I have my eyes on.

A significant part of what we give our attention to is who we are; who and what it is God created us to be. I fully believe that some things are simply within us at birth. Even those things may need careful cultivating.

For other things, they may need that aforementioned harnessing.

One of the most beautiful joys that God wants us to experience is freedom.

I often say two phrases: Knowing is everything. Peace is everything. But oh, freedom is truly everything. ‘Knowing’ and ‘peace’ are huge, but they pale in comparison to freedom.

Pay attention to what you pay attention to.






Hurting Thursday

I had a Healthy Thursday blog ready to post today, but I changed my mind. It is a helpful one and I will post it next week. Today, however, it did not seem appropriate.

In light of the tragedy in Florida yesterday, I felt a need to go in another direction. On October 2 I wrote about the Las Vegas shooting. In my last paragraph I said this:

The tragedy ripples out. The dead, the injured, the terrified, the culprit. There is no part that is not tragic. What kind of pain, what kind of illness, what kind of brokenness begins this? Perhaps the biggest tragedy is not knowing that answer.

How sad it is that the above paragraph fits in with nearly every other similar tragedy.

The incident yesterday screams of the unthinkable, the unconscionable, the unimaginable.

When my boys were in high school, I am sure there were days that I sent them off with an occasional parent/child disagreement about homework or dirty clothes left on the floor or something else that in hindsight, is meaningless.

When I hear of things like this, it makes me wonder what that last morning was like at home. Was it rushed? Was there a hug and a smile before heading out the door? Was there a misunderstanding, perhaps even harsh words?

My heart aches for these parents, these siblings, these grandparents. My heart also aches for the shooter and his family.

Yes, certain gun laws must be tightened. Yes, there are mental health issues. Yes, he was a ‘bad kid’, as I heard one person say. But Lord forgive us for making this about anything less than what is truth. That truth is that we all need a savior. I know that word can sound a bit ‘churchy’. But here is what savior really means.

Savior is defined as one that saves from danger or destruction.

Some savior synonyms are: Defender, hero, deliverer, protector, preserver, rescuer.

That is what a savior does. Those students needed a deliverer, a protector, a rescuer. But oh my goodness, if the shooter felt he had a savior, maybe, just maybe those students would not have needed one.



What frightens you? The dark? Snakes? Spiders? The unknown? Scary things trigger familiar feelings. Our first response is usually to keep absolutely still. Then we run away, as fast as we can.

Both of these reactions helped our ancestors stay safe. Dangerous animals see movement more clearly than they see shapes. Ancient people survived attacks by keeping perfectly still and then seeing their chance, made a mad dash to safety.

Buried deep within your skull, on each side of our head, are the amygdalae. Each amygdala senses threat before you are even aware of it. By the time you are aware of danger, you may already be running! How fascinating is that?!

Your body is then flooded with hormones to prepare you for action. There are six amazing things that happen. I will mention only two.

Your pupils get bigger and you lose vision around the edges. This helps you spot threats in dim light. It also helps you concentrate on the danger staring you in the face. Crazy awesome!

The other thing is your amazing spleen. I know, right? Yes, your spleen, a deeply ignored important little organ (sorry spleen). In a state of fear, the spleen makes extra red blood cells. These cause blood to clot, stopping bleeding in case you are injured. What???

We are so amazingly made.

Fear is often described with an acronym; False Evidence Appearing Real. I agree. Most often, fear is simply that, worry about what might be.

However, occasionally fear is this acronym; Freakin’ Events Are Real. I’m all about positivity. I have been called a pollyanna. But I am also a realist. There ARE things to fear. And when those real fears appear, remember how amazingly made you are and trust your strong body and mind.

Plato said “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Another acronym for fear is Failure Expected And Received. Ah…now we are getting to real fear.

May we fear truly frightening things and not fear ideas and worries. Let us continue moving away from the dark. Step toward the light and embrace it fully.

Happy Halloween! Better yet, Lux et Veritas!




It is Halloween Eve. I know that for some, Halloween is not a real holiday; not a day to party or celebrate or even speak of.

I am privileged to have been reared in a home where I was taught about the love of Jesus. I began my church-going when I was a mere eight days old. Everything “church” was what my life revolved around; Sunday school, bible quizzing, church camp, teen choir, youth group activities, revival services and vacation bible school.

But…we did trick or treat, every year. I remember well my mother making us costumes. That is costumes for six children! Occasionally she would literally sew something. Often she would put things together and come up with an outfit. She was creative in that way. Still is.

I have a few favorite outfit memories. One was a gypsy. I wore a long, printed skirt with a white blouse and black vest. Mama also made me a cute little bandana to tie around my head. My favorite part was that she sewed lightweight, gold curtain rings to the bandana in order to give me “gypsy earrings”. Thus began my love of earrings. What a pagan.

Another favorite costume was an Indian princess. Somehow Mom came up with a tan, suede fringy outfit. My hair in low braids hung over each shoulder. Headband across my forehead and a feather in the back. Perfect.

Halloween for me was always associated with creativity, pumpkin carving, family fun and pouring out a pillow case full of candy on the living room floor. I would take in the beautiful scene before taking in the beautiful taste.

I may be naive.

Evil is in our world. That is blatantly and painfully obvious. It is here always. And always it must be fought with the full armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation.

I am not sure we can hang all of the world’s evil on one day. But if that is true, I will choose a costume with the above named accessories.



John Denver

On my morning walk, my iPod (yes, I still use an iPod) was snugly connected to my ears. I have such an eclectic mix. If someone were to take a listen, they would be completely confused about what kind of music I like. I have Plumb and Rascal Flatts and The Righteous Brothers and Rihanna and Starship and Switchfoot and Oleta Adams and Dave Barnes and Todd Rundgren and Miley Cyrus and The West Chester Church of the Nazarene choir. My iPod is like Ellis Island; a real melting pot.

But today I landed on John Denver singing his melancholy “I’m Sorry”*. His dripping honey of a voice and details of his death always cause pensivity. I recently learned that his tragic accident in 1997 was exactly that, an accident in every sense of the word. He simply ran out of fuel and crashed his Long-EZ aircraft into the Monterey Bay. Oh my, the things we do not take an extra few minutes to check on.

Much of life feels like an accident/oversight or grace/protection. Accidents as simple as getting a boo-boo by scraping our elbow on a cabinet door to more profound “accidents”. Not long ago, I was driving down the road on which I live and came too close to a large trash receptacle. I hit it with my side mirror and it crackled into pieces. Preventable? Yes. Life-changing? No. But many are.

We have only so much brain capacity. We must practice how to remember important things and forget boo-boos on our elbows. I believe in God’s grace and mercy, though it is far from my comprehension. We are not pawns in His heavenly game of chess. We have freedom to think and do and make mistakes. Thankfully, since He made us, He knows us and simply nods his beautiful head.


*This contradicts a previous post about not liking 70’s music. The song “I’m Sorry” was released in July of 1975. Okay, so I like some 70’s music – John Denver, The Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, Jackson Browne, The Temptations. I just don’t like the rock part of the 70’s, though I know you do, my friends Debi Woeber Hertel and Darlene Cooper. And I love that about you both.