Friday, September 27, 2013


Friday has rolled around once again. Today's Five Minute Friday word prompt is true.

In the book of Philippians, Paul encourages the church in this way:

Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

I have a note in my Bible next to this passage that says "Focus on Jesus." In a world with little truth -- or for that matter, many of those other characteristics -- this note gleaned from a Bible study or sermon somewhere along the way is an excellent reminder of where my focus needs to be: on the Truth.

People in our lives may tell us half-truths, what we want to hear or what they want us to hear.

Media outlets can frame stories in a way to catch our attention or garner Web traffic, leaving the truth somewhere in a corner.

One political party adamantly insists their way is right and true; and then the opposing party does the same, but our nation's trust in them has been so eroded, most of us have trouble discerning who is telling the truth and often we doubt anyone is.

Manufacturers and retailers make great promises about what their products can do to improve my life, but in reality, very little of it is true.

So much of life is filtered through the lenses of others -- family, friends, reporters, authors, speakers, preachers, teachers, leaders. In a noisy world, we are constantly bombarded with what is touted as "truth." But Truth is best discovered when we slow down, tune out the noise, are still, and turn our focus to where it belongs.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Hello, Friday. Glad you're here. The sun is shining, it's going to be in the 70s today and the weekend awaits. But first, it's time for Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is she.

She was barely 21 when she went the first time. Young, intrigued and excited to visit a country loosening itself slowly from the chains of communism. In a way, she thought this experience would be like living out an adventure from one of the many novels she'd read.

The first time, she went with 50-some other college students, all of them too young to fully appreciate the experience. They were chaperoned, but an ocean away from parental input in a time before cell phones, e-mail, texting and minute-by-minute social media updates. Communication was snail mail delivered a few times a week when the mail caught up to wherever they were.

That time, her hair was poufy, her face young, her physique slender with youth. She made new friendships and cemented existing ones that would stand the test of time.

She was still growing up, that first time.


This time, she's lived nearly another quarter of a century and knows she'll appreciate the journey in new and different ways. Some of the sights will be the same, but the perspective will be wiser. The country is no longer bound by communism, but it's still not on great terms with her own country.

This time, she'll go with her husband and other family instead of her peers. Together, they'll explore, laugh, experience, get on one another's nerves a bit, and take photographs to capture moments in time. This time, she'll have limited access to an Internet connection, so constant communication still won't be a reality and she's OK with that. Taking a break from connectivity is good and will free her focus.

This time, her hair is shorter and not 80s'-big, her face graced with crow's feet and laugh lines. She's lost one of those friends who went with her the first time, she's made more friends, she's married her best friend.

She's older and maybe a bit wiser now, but she's still growing up a little, this time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Today my mother turns 75. I wonder what it's like to look back over three-quarters of a century of life, love, joy, accomplishment and sorrow. Occasionally, I find myself thinking about what my mother's life was like when she was my age. I've only known her as my mother, but in those moments I try to see her as a woman without attaching a specific classification.

When my mother was my age, she had just sent her oldest to college, she butted heads with a strong-willed teenage daughter multiple times a day (if I'm honest, it was constantly) and her baby was 11 years old. She was (mostly) a stay-at-home mom and I remember wondering what she did all day long while we were at school, obviously having no clue at that point what it takes to run a household.

At my age, she hadn't yet gone back to college for her nursing degree, a pursuit she started when she was 48, the same time I went off to college. She attended college classes with students who graduated with me, students she taught when she served as a substitute teacher at our school. She had long-ago buried both of her parents and two of her sisters. She had children to finish raising and a marriage loosely held together.

There's a 30-year age difference between me and my mom, and I think about what she's experienced in the span between 45 and 75. She successfully navigated nursing school, a grueling endurance test for an 18-year old, much less someone looking at 50. She had yet to anticipate graduations (including her own), weddings, grandchildren and divorce. She lost her oldest sister and nieces and nephews. She pursued a career in public health nursing and a second career working in a crisis pregnancy center. She downsized not once, but twice, each time starting over in a new community. She's read an untold number of books and enjoyed countless concerts and theater productions. A few years ago, she rekindled her love of singing and joined two community choirs and the church choir. Except for a few minor hiccups, she has enjoyed good health. She's watched her children succeed and fail, make decisions she supported and others where she probably thought we'd lost our ever-loving minds.

In the retirement community where she lives, she is a youngster. It's not uncommon for her to be taking classes or volunteering beside 90-somethings or even those who have lived a century of life. She's still a mom with all the concerns that are inherent to that position in life because as I'm learning, you don't stop being a parent when the chicks fly the coop. She's still learning new things and remaining engaged in her community.

If I've done my math correctly, in those 30 years, she's lived 15.76 million moments of life. That's a lot of living.

I'm at a different place in life at 45 than my mother was. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. As I reflect on what I know about my mother's last 30 years, recognizing that I have just a glimpse of what her life has been like, it helps me to see her as a person, beyond a daughter's limited perspective. And I think that's important, to see the people in our lives with more of a bird's eye view. That view gives us a better chance to show love, empathy, patience, joy and understanding, instead of automatically reverting to the patterns developed due to the stations of life that put us into relationship.

I wonder what I'll see if I do this reflection exercise when I'm 75. Life holds twists and turns -- some you see coming, some surprise you around the next blind curve. As the story unfolds, I want to cherish each chapter, each page. I'd like to skip over the bumpy parts, but since that's impossible, I want to be open to learning and sharing the lessons I've learned because of the speed bumps. I want to experience joy more fully, be a little more daring, embrace each day and laugh often. I want to see people without the shades of life I may cast upon them. I want to live this life well.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Well, today's Saturday, which means I'm an entire day late for Five Minute Friday, but it's a little challenging to type a blog entry on your smartphone and since that's the only Internet access I had on Friday, I'm showing up on Saturday and I'm writing. This week's word prompt is mercy.

Mercy is not something that comes naturally or easily to me. Criticism? Check. Judgment? Fight it every day. High expectations? Well, what others may call "high," I call "realistic," but let's not split hairs. The fact is that I don't think "merciful" is the first adjective people would use to describe me. I'm working on it, I'm working on it and I have many examples of merciful people in my life.

The one that comes to mind right now is Fred. Fred runs a sporting goods store in the rural county where we have a cabin. The shop used to have gas pumps where we'd fill up our boat before heading to the lake, but it became too expensive for Fred and his parents so they shut them down. We started buying wood from Fred probably a decade ago and that's been our only interaction with Fred every year or two.

Earlier this year we ordered wood from Fred and guaranteed him that we'd meet him at the cabin with payment. Our schedules changed and we completely forgot about the wood delivery until we saw a missed call from Fred on the phone. Ugh. We felt terrible. We couldn't get Fred on the phone, but the next time we were at the cabin, we found the wood delivered as promised and I hightailed it to the store to pay Fred. Full of apologies, I handed over what we owed him and Fred? Fred showed us mercy. Because that's how Fred rolls. "That's OK," he said. "I knew you'd be up soon and stop by to pay me. It's no problem."

And while the price of a load of wood may not make or break most people's budget, it's likely pretty important to Fred. Business is slow in the area and at his little store. He looked gaunt when I paid him and we later found out he's battled leukemia. This weekend, we learned that he buried his father three weeks ago.

But his word and a handshake and a little bit of mercy is how Fred does business. No contract for a deal, no angry phone call or penalty when you're late for payment. Just peace and mercy.

We bought more wood from Fred this weekend. We weren't sure if our trailer was roadworthy because it had been sitting for a number of years, but we told Fred if it was, we'd be back for the wood. My husband was on his way when Fred called and said, "You know, I was thinking maybe you'd need air in your trailer's tires." My husband affirmed he was headed to the gas station before meeting Fred. "No problem," Fred said. "I can take care of it here. Just come on down." When our trailer was filled with wood and there was still half a load left, Fred shut his store early (despite my husband's protests) and delivered the wood to our cabin.

Thanks, Fred, for showing me what mercy looks like and how much the small mercies can mean. You inspire me.

Friday, September 6, 2013


It's a beautiful Friday and time to take a few minutes to write for Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is red.

It caught my eye as I rounded the corner behind the dogs. She stepped out of her minivan and turned to let her daughter out of the back seat. Gray shirt, denim skirt and a cute red purse. As we passed, I told her how much I loved the pop of color her purse provided and she smiled.

Red is my favorite color. I love it in my kitchen, bouquets and wardrobe. I carried red roses in my wedding. I put it on my lips, tips and toes. It took about seven coats, but I finally got the red right for the accent wall in my office. My Kindle cover is red and I had a red laptop that I loved. I was even able to convince B -- whose favorite color is black -- that a red(dish) sofa would look great in the living room.

While I'm a summer girl, I love the red leaves that autumn brings. I see more sunsets than sunrises, but red is part of what makes both beautiful. My first car was red and my current one would be, too, except the vehicle we purchased didn't come in the "right" red.

I'm not obnoxious about red ... I like bright colors in general. But red makes me happy. It can brighten up a dreary landscape, make me smile on a tough day, add just enough pop to pull a room or outfit together.

What's your red?