Bob’s Sense of Humor

Robert 1975 Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often called this man my knight in shining armor. Journaling March 31 of this year I wrote.

“I had an emotional break through of sorts. This morning I noticed my scene out the bedroom window that I have looked at for years. Clearly I saw split rails that were missing or had fallen from the neighbors fence. I thought “fences are broken down.” And in this weird thing we are living through fences are down! During my meditation time I saw the photo of me the day of my dad’s funeral when I was eleven years old. Remembered the grief and fear of being left alone (especially with my mother and sister because I am so much like my dad). As the meditation continued I realized that Bob is the one who for most all of my life has kept me from the alone-ness of that grief and fear. And THAT is why I have been feeling I cannot bear the possibility of ever losing him. Jesus touch me in that place, I pray.

“Later John Eldredge confirmed all that pointing out that places in us from childhood may be calling out during this stay at home season. We need to have mercy and grace for ourselves and others.”

So he is my knight, but also my husband of soon-to-be fifty years. Yep, 50! Here is a cartoon he handed me recently. Did I mention he is the oldest of five and a terrible tease? Click the link below to see what I mean!

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a23696

When Did You Last Act Like A Kid?

During a recent rain shower I saw a child playing in a water-filled ditch. As a mom I first checked, and no, there had not been thunder or lightning that day. My second thought was how delighted I was to see her and how she reminded me of myself at that age. Once I found a crawfish in a puddle and brought it home as a pet. It was about 3/4″ long. I put it in the bathroom sink with a little water while I tried to find a container for its home. My sister unstopped the drain, not noticing my pet and all was lost. I was sad and mad. Fast forward to today!

“Maybe what God really wants are grown-up kids who dance in the puddles, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, who dare to ask why a whole lot. Maybe we are far too proper. Maybe it’s time to take a page from Dainty doodlebug’s story and give in to the way we’re created to live—for our sake and for the gospel. Little else is as compelling and glorious as a giddy child, mud-covered and grinning, because they know how loved and safe they are even while thunder sounds in the distance.”

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Giddy child of God, relax and enjoy creation again! Don’t those boots just remind one of Mike Powell?

“You were made from dust and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:19

“Dance in the puddles, get your hands dirty, ask why a whole lot more.” Recently I had the opportunity twice in one week to counsel two different women on the fact that we are allowed to get angry with God. He can take it! He would much prefer we be genuine with Him than pretend some sort of proper piety. After all, He reads our hearts and knows our thoughts and our words before they cross our lips.

 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Psalm 139:104 NIV 2011

Why not make an effort this week to get real with God? And if you have the opportunity, try jumping in a puddle, just for fun!!

Ironing on a Summer Day

I am making masks for use in public to fight the Corona virus again. It seems like my Rowenta iron is getting a workout as I press seams and pleats and the finished product.

A few years ago I gave away a Rowenta iron because the water would sputter and pop. Turns out I was using distilled water and it was designed to use tap water! The new iron came with a little white cup to make the water easier to pour into the iron. It holds about 12 ounces? The iron does not actually hold that much, so the water that remained in the cup sometimes formed a scum on the bottom of the white cup.

Recently I grabbed my water bottle from an earlier walk and filled the iron. Thought, “Why not?” It poured easily enough.

So I have been using that for a week or two. Jump into a memory!

My mother had a General Electric iron similar to this version from the 1950’s. Even with that gnarly two-toned cord.

With that version there was no steam option so the clothes had to be dampened before you ironed them. So instead of my trusty push button for forced steam or continuous steam from the Rowenta, we used something like this!

Yes! a trusty soda pop bottle with water (we would never place it on its side like the above photo). Just shake and the water would sprinkle out on the clothing. Then press the item. I thought it was so cool. When Mom would ask me to refill the bottle for her, I was always willing! When I was finally deemed old enough to do the ironing our General Electric iron was more like the one below. The red button on the top was for steam! We were moving up in the world! I never minded ironing. Even now, I am grateful I never had to iron stacks of dress shirts for my husband’s work, but ironing other things has not been a chore to me.

It was not usual for me to come home from school on a hot day and see my mother with the ironing board set up in front of the television, watching Reds baseball and drinking a beer while she ironed.

All that surfaced, while I ironed masks and watch Roku television in the basement! Grateful for the advances electric irons have made. Baseball season such as it is will begin soon. Unlikely you will find me ironing with a beer!

Sweet Peas

Why are these important to me? First of all, my husband had this stone wall built to make it easier to garden on this portion of our hill. As you can see it is quite steep. Before we had the wall built I had started sweet peas from seed. I was delighted when they sprouted and bloomed for a couple years. When the men came to build the wall I asked if they might be able to save the sweet peas. They said yes. I failed to tell them where I wanted them to transplant the vine. Turns out they placed it smack dab in the center of the garden. As you can see the vines came back just fine! This year I decided instead of trying to train it I would just let it go over the wall.

But why is this flower memorable to me? Well, a dear friend told me about them. When I spotted them growing along a portion of the road we travel to get home I decided to try my hand at growing them.

Becky Sommer was my friend at school from at least 1959 (when we are pictured next to each other in the class photo). She is a highly talented artist whom I have always admired. Her parents were Dwight and Maria.

Dwight and Maria were married for 69 years before she passed at age 93. Her family was Russian and she was one of 8 children. She bore 6 children to Dwight. “Her creativity was expressed in her artwork and poetry, participation in Cincinnati’s Green Thumb Garden Club and All Saints Episcopal Church’s Altar Guild, flower arranging, and bringing style and warmth to her home and family.”

Dwight was music teacher at my cousins’ elementary school! He passed at age 98. “He was a gifted and beloved music educator at Elmwood Place School until his retirement in 1976. Dwight was so well loved and revered that 21 years after his retirement, the music room was dedicated to him. He continued to teach, mentor and follow the musical careers of many of his students until well into his 80’s.”

So besides being Becky’s parents why were these folks so meaningful to me? First off, Dwight drove me to high school along with Becky and maybe one or two others for years. Our high school was on his way to work. By playing our local classical radio station on the way to school he introduced me to a broad array of classical music!

When I joined the Episcopal church in 1965 who did I find there but the Sommer family! I had an immediate feeling of connection.

Maria once told me that when she and Dwight were dating he brought her bouquet of sweet peas. Evidently, he picked them on his way to see her. So growing them seemed like something I wanted to try. I know she had some flowers in her backyard, but don’t remember her growing them. I also remember she had terrible arthritis in her hands in her later years. I remember visiting once and being shocked to see braces on her wrists.

Still, why this strong connection to my friend’s parents? Well, when my family of origin blew up in 1968 I needed a place to live for a few months until my classes began at the University of Cincinnati. The Sommer family took me in. Maria had a huge old gas stove with a side drawer. Times I was upset she would sit me down for tea. Pulling out the crackers she stored in that drawer (being always warm the drawer kept them dry), she would fix me jelly on warm crackers to go with the tea. Then she would let me talk if I wanted to talk or just sit and compose myself. Cannot remember a better example of Christ’s love and compassion in my entire life, except maybe Mary Dirkse. She is another story for a different time.

I think Maria would approve of these vines hanging down from the stone wall, especially when the humidity leaves huge drops of dew on the flowers and leaves. Wish I had a nifty drawer to keep my crackers dry!

I know these folks are worshiping God on high. I pray their children and their children’s children follow Christ as closely as they did while here on earth! May I, too, live out their example while I walk the earth!

Freedom to Love Others

With all the racial unrest I felt it was time to express myself. When I was in first grade, Sharon McCreary’s house burned down. She lived near us. I urged my parents to invite her family for dinner. It was a no go. Her family was black.

We lived in Kennedy Heights, which at the time, was noted to be the most integrated neighborhood in the United States. I could not comprehend why we could not invite the McCreary’s for dinner. My mother was known to be a terrific cook and these folks were in need! Many years later I connected with Sharon. It was sweet to talk with her.

I always attended integrated schools. When I was in high school I was in the minority as a White Anglo Saxon Protestant. We were outnumbered by Black children and Jewish children. It gave me a chance to understand firsthand the dilemma of being a minority. I also learned how very different the Black culture was from how I was raised. And the Jewish culture bewildered me. I even visited the Temple on Plum Street around the time of one classmate’s Bar Mitzva or Bat Mitzva. (Coming of age ceremony.) It is a lovely building, but I almost asked where the cross was. Caught myself just in time before the question left my lips. I was/am so totally given over to Jesus that even at that age I could not comprehend not having Him in my life, or theirs.

In middle school Jackie Gibson gave me a 45 of the Duke of Earl. It was a great song and occasionally shows up today. He was a great fellow though a bit arrogant. He was also constantly teaching the entire class new dance moves whenever the teacher left the classroom. A nice Black fellow. There was a saying that it was better to live near a nice black family than white trash. I did not really understand the saying. I thought people were people regardless of color.

Cecil Williams was one of my favorite friends from school. He always had a kind word and seemed a gentle soul. He was Black. He lived with his grandmother nearby. Her front yard sloped down into a V and then back up to the house. She had a terrific garden with many hanging objects. I so wanted to go in her garden and into her house. I was never invited, but would have loved that. I heard years later from Sharon that he died very young.

I worked for a while at a residential rehab center for women called “Having the Courage to Change.” Lucretia and the gals were fine once they realized I was not a White do-gooder. I was hired as Lucretia’s assistant, taught a Bible study class and mentored some of the women. There were mostly Black women, but Brown and White women, too.

Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28 (NRSV)  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. People were enslaved regardless of color at that time. We know that was not the case in American history. Can we learn to love regardless of color or ethnicity? Can we accept that just as we are forgiven by God, sinners saved by grace, so are others? Do we understand that different people have different experiences within the same society, just as within the same family?

Galatians 5:1 New Living Translation says: “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” I want to be set free and stay free to love each person who comes in to my life. I admit I sometimes have difficulty with the neighbor that totes his gun while walking his dog and threatens other dog owners. That seems rude. Yet, I am asked to love him. Some sections of the society say I must only love the ones who look like me and think like me. 1 Peter 2:8-10 (NLT2)  And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.  But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Perhaps He considers us royal Dukes and Duchesses.

No, I have not accomplished this kind of love. I pray the Lord will continue to grow me in acceptance of others, even others I do not agree with. Show us Lord, how to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Help us to be Your hands and feet on earth. You said they would know us by our love, not by our judgement of others. Help us to fulfill Your words, I pray.

Zoom Calls and Video Church

Since March 17th or so when we began to learn more about and practice video church and video calls this song has been rolling around some place in the back of my mind. Of course, when it was written in 1967, we could barely imagine what a video phone was. Now most everyone carries the ability in their pocket! Previously I have occasionally used Whats App and even Face Time. I am grateful we can connect with our friends this way, but after so many years of in-person contact, it does get tiresome for this old lady.

Why must every generation think they’re folks are square?
And no matter where they’re heads are, they know mom’s ain’t there.
Cause’ I swore when I was small, that I’d remember when,
I knew what’s wrong with them, that I was smaller than.

Determined to remember all the cardinal rules.
Like, sun showers are legal grounds, for cutting school.
I know I have forgotten maybe one or two.
And I hope that I recall them all before the baby’s due.
And I’ll know he’ll have a question or two.

Like, hey pop. Can I go ride my zoom?
It goes two hundred miles an hour, suspended on balloons.
And can I put a droplet of this new stuff on my tongue?
And imagine puffing dragons, while you sit and wreck you’re lungs.
And I must me permissive, understanding of the younger generation.

And then I know that all I’ve learned, my kid assumes.
And all my deepest worries must be his cartoons.
And still I’ll try to tell him all the things I’ve done,
relating to what he can do when he becomes a man.
And still he’ll stick his fingers in the fan.

And hey pop, my girlfriend’s only three.
She’s got her own videophone,

and she’s taking LSD.
And now that were best friends, she want’s to give a bit to me.
But whats the matter daddy? How come you’re turning green?
Can it be that you can’t live up to your dreams?

So use your videophone, but skip the LSD. I’ve been told it can be brutal on the mind and body. Do not want to find out!

Surprise!

I was headed downstairs the other day. I saw something on the carpet at the base of the stairs. I figured it was a piece of glitter or a shiny piece off my jeans pocket. When I got to the landing I bent to pick it up. Was very startled to wind up picking up a lightning bug. It was no longer moving, but still glowing. Must have come in on the bottom of a shoe, I mused, and then floods of memories.

I have fond memories from childhood of hunting and catching lightning bugs. First we would pound holes into the lid of a jar. (Lids were metal then before plastics took over manufacturing and metal became rare.) We would capture the bugs in our hand and then put them in a mayonnaise jar. Yep, a glass jar we were allowed to run around with! The more you caught the harder it was to get it in the jar without releasing the others or squashing it in an effort to close the lid quickly. If I was particularly lucky, I was allowed to keep the jar in my bedroom over night. Nothing quite like the magic of falling asleep to blinking fireflies!

Only God could think up something this amazing!

This year in mid-spring when I saw one in the daytime on the window screen I couldn’t wait to tell Bob. He said he had seen one, too. The first brood was in early May, but they never last long. Now in Mid-June we are in the type that live about 2 months.

Amusing that we see these in the middle of the night. (No, I have not ‘stayed out late’ and tried to catch any in years.) Bob and I both wear Fitbit step counters. They also monitor our sleep. He says that sometimes when I roll over in the night mine lights up. Or if he gets up and returns to bed his lights up. Says it is like having giant fireflies in the bedroom.

As a real child, growing up allowed to explore the natural world as far as our yard and one or two others, some kid (probably one of the boys from down the street that we played “War” with), taught me that if you step on a lightning bug on the sidewalk and smear it, it will glow. Turns out we were triggering the chemical reaction that the bugs produced in life to create their bio-luminescence. If you want more information click on this link: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/fireflies/

So thank you little beetle for bringing me such joy for my entire lifetime. I was amazed when nephews and nieces visited from California and they had never seen fireflies.

Flag Day

In 1975 we were about to celebrate Flag Day with my mother. I was nine months pregnant. I tried to tell her not to travel to Lexington as the Doctor said I was not going to deliver anytime soon. She drove down from Cincinnati anyway. When she arrived, she wanted to go shopping and had me drive her car. I remember just barely fitting behind the wheel of her used Plymouth. (No adjustable steering wheels back then!)

As we traveled around the Lexington “Circle Freeway” to our destination she sang me a hymn she had recently heard. The title was “How Great Thou Art.”

Mom had brought food in a Styrofoam cooler. After we put the items in the refrigerator, we rinsed the cooler and placed it on our tiny apartment porch to dry. She arrived Friday night and we stayed up late watching Johnny Carson. He hosted Seals and Croft and they sang “We May Never Pass This Way Again.” I went to bed exhausted. Bob and Mom finished the show. Bob helped her pull out the sofa bed and made certain she had everything she needed.

Saturday there was a Flag Day parade in town. We had decided to attend. Here is a link reminding us of what Flag Day stands for https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/flag-day

Saturday dawned bright, but there was a breeze kicking up outside. Mom was not awake yet, but I decided to tiptoe through the living room to the porch and bring her cooler in before it blew away. As I passed the bed, I knew.

Stunned, I realized she was not breathing. I captured the cooler and walked through again. Certainty about crushed me. I woke Bob and made him go check her. By that time he had been working in a hospital for quite a while and had sometimes gone into a room in early morning to draw blood only to realize the patient had passed.

The rest of the day is a blur. The biggest shock of my life so far. It was years before I could hear “How Great Thou Art” without bursting into tears.

She never met my children. We will never celebrate things on earth again together. Though we had our problems, I do believe I will know her again in heaven, where she is singing How Great Thou Art among the many other hymns that she taught me.

Romans 8 Portion

Many years ago I made a retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. Bishop Gore was the speaker. He had taken a sabbatical and used the time to study Romans 8. He shared with us his translation of a portion. Read it below.

“His love is our security. And that love is so strong that nothing on earth can come between us and it. The sea of troubles that a Christian has to face, hardship and persecution of every kind, are powerless against it. For I am convinced that no form or phase of being, whether abstract or personal, not life nor its negation, nor any hierarchy of spirits, no dimension of time, no supernatural powers, no dimensions of space, no world of being invisible to us now, will ever come between Jesus and us now – will ever come between us and the love which God has brought to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now and then, I just need to be reminded of this eternal truth. Be encouraged. Cling to this.

Wrought iron sculpture in Cleveland, Ohio (I think)

Grandgirl #1

Our first grandchild, Lizzie, graduates today. The child was born September 2001, on our wedding anniversary and a few weeks after the terrorist bombings of New York City, attempt at Washington and crash into the Pentagon. School was closed and began on-line classes in March this year. Her Senior prom was cancelled due to Covid-19. She had already purchased her dress.

Now it is time for graduation and it too will be peculiar. The school decided to have each graduate walk across the stage to get their diploma. BUT there will only be one family in the auditorium at a time. The staff will be there from 8:30 to 9:30PM, or some such. Long day for them. Lizzie’s time is scheduled for 10:30 AM. At first they were limiting attendance to four people per student. That meant Bob and I would have to decide which one of us was attending. Then they changed it to seven people per student. Whew! now we both get to attend.

This child has always been shy and does NOT like to have her photo taken. Recently, she did like her new shirt and let me get this photo.

Skidamarink and her cousin
Her baptism with Camp Counselors (Pop in the blue shirt in background!)

This sweet girl won three academic awards her senior year. The program was on YouTube with teachers and administrators making the announcements, before no in house audience. Two years in a row she won an award in American Sign Language. She will enroll in the local branch of University of Cincinnati this autumn. The world is in store for a great young lady!!

As a volleyball player she is ALWAYS in motion!

Go 32!

Please pray for her future! I often sang this to her when she was very young. If I am not mistaken the “I love you” at the end is done in American Sign Language!