Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Deep Thirst and Living Water

Deep Thirst and Living Water

Last week I shared how I became dehydrated and wound up in the emergency room. You can find that post HERE if you missed it. 

 

Thank you for your comments of support. Also, a big thank you to those of you able to laugh with me through that crazy experience. 

 

I was sure I would wind up with a black eye or two for Thanksgiving, but my face cleared up and few people could tell anything had happened at all. I am happy my “hair stylist” trimmed my bangs exactly where they would need to fall to cover the protruding knots on my forehead. (Yep, I know how to use a pair of scissors.)

 

Unquenched thirst can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is dangerous. There are different kinds of thirst. There are serious consequences to dehydration.

 

Most of my readers know I am a believer… a follower of Jesus Christ. My experience at the Emergency Room reminded me of a story in the Bible. 

 

The account takes place when Jesus is traveling through Samaria. Most Jews avoided that part of the country like the plague. Jews simply did not associate with Samaritans. But here is Jesus going right into that off limits countryside. It is just another piece of God saying, “I’m here for everybody not just a few select people.”

 

I digress. Back to the story.

 

Jesus stops to rest. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water at the well where Jesus is seated. Jesus asks her for a drink. She is shocked he would ask her for anything since she is a Samaritan. He tells her that if she knew who he was she would ask him for “living water.”

 

Of course, the living water he speaks of is eternal life. 

 

You can read the story in its entirety in chapter 4 of the Book of John.

 

I love this story on so many levels. We often only see what we think we need or, as is usually the case, what we want. Our thirst. But once that thirst is quenched, we go about our daily routines until we get thirsty again. Living a life to only meet our wants and needs as humans leaves us thirsting for more and never able to fill up. 

 

That kind of life may keep us going physically, but leads to spiritual dehydration. Much like the woman at the well.

 

Dehydration,  as I demonstrated with my face plant into the door and onto the floor last week, leaves us feeling weak and inadequate. Useless. Fearful. Bruised. This is true both physically and spiritually. 

 

Perhaps you left the Thanksgiving table feeling full and satisfied physically. You may have even spent these last few days scanning the ads, the Black Friday deals, and trying to put together a list of “things” you hope will bring you and your family to a place of feeling good about life. 

 

Adding more stuff to your cluttered house will not quench that thirst. Having the biggest light show in your neighborhood won’t satisfy your heart’s desire. Going in debt to buy the kids the newest electronic gizmo won’t provide that fullness you crave, either.

 

Instead, this season, I challenge you to seek the living water

 

Here's what you can do: Spend a few minutes each day in December reading one of the four Gospels in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Your choice.

 

Don’t have a Bible at home? No problem, these books of the Bible can be found online. I would recommend the New International Version (NIV), the New King James Version (NKJV) or the English Standard Version (ESV). They are all reliable and readable translations.

 

That’s the challenge. Read one book of the Bible to finish out 2021. Can’t hurt. But fair warning: You may develop a thirst to read more…and to seek the Living Water.




 

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Knot Head for Thanksgiving

A Knot Head For Thanksgiving 

“She had big blue eyes and dark wavy hair…

And a knot on her head, but we didn’t care.”

 

Yep, that was me. It is part of a poem my mother wrote about me the year I was born. I was born with a knot on the crown of my head. It didn’t bother my parents. They loved me anyway. 

 

I am sporting a new knot or two on my forehead this Thanksgiving. I was a bit dehydrated and passed out. Oh, how I hate to type those words. It makes me feel like a klutz… an “old” klutz. 

 

But there were some good things to ponder; Some “Thanks-Giving” to be had. For instance:

 

·      I didn’t damage the door jamb I thumped with my noggin.


·     The blood and subsequent vomit were all in one tidy puddle on the tile floor making for easy cleanup.


·     My daughter was a phone call away.


·     My good friend drove me to the hospital.


·     The hospital was not at all busy, so they took me in immediately.


·     My stay lasted only about four hours.


·     They did a CAT scan and found my brain was fine…no cats.


·     They did an EKG and my heart is good.


·     They drew blood…left me enough to keep going and determined my blood is good. (Good enough, I guess. I don’t actually do “medi-speak” so I trust them when they gave me these reports.)


·     My mom spent the night with me and cared for me…like old times.

 

By the way, the knot on the back of my head as a baby vanished and I trust the one on my forehead will as well. Here is that part of the poem:

 

“A few months later, those blue eyes were brown,

The knot had vanished and she was the cutest baby in town.”

 

Yeah, well, remember it was written by my mama…






Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cheers

 Cheers

 

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?

 

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

 

Remember these lyrics from the television sitcom CheersCheers was more than a bar in Boston. It was a gathering place for a wide variety of people. It was in the bar where they found a sense of community.

 

My husband used to say the theme song from this show would make a great song for church. The elders would likely have voted that one down, but he was right.

 

Tom and I found a sense of community at church. We were among a group of people whose values were similar to ours. We found people who enjoyed the same activities. We always felt welcomed

 

And church was a place we could take a break from our troubles and worries. People actually cared about us. When Tom died in 2014, it was our church family that wrapped their arms around me…and my family…both figuratively and physically. They held us up.

 

I am seven years older now. My children and grandchildren are growing up. They lead busy, productive lives of their own. Me? I’m part of a group for people over fifty-five years old. We meet once a month at church and enjoy each other’s company. We play games and bring in musical entertainers and programs. Sometimes we have a guest speaker. It’s fun, but maybe not enough.

 

I suppose that’s why when a friend invited me to the community center activities for seniors, I accepted. Mind you, I don’t actually think of myself as a senior citizen even if I qualified for the membership.

 

Every Tuesday evening I play Euchre there. It’s fun and I’ve met a lot of good people. One of the women there I also know from my weekly Bible study. I knew she was going to visit her daughter in California. She spoke of leaving this Thursday. I assumed she was spending Thanksgiving with her daughter.

 

Then I learned she is returning on the Monday before Thanksgiving. So this past Tuesday evening at the senior center I asked her if she wanted to spend Thanksgiving with us. She declined. It turns out another daughter is coming to spend Thanksgiving with her. Good.

 

But what struck me was her reaction to my invitation. She took hold of my arm and gushed a huge “Thank you! Thank you!” She went on to say, “You have no idea how wonderful it is to be asked!”

 

Maybe I do. 

 

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

 

This Thanksgiving we would do well to open our doors to those around us who have no place to go. People without family members nearby. Older people. Younger people.  So that’s my challenge to my readers. 

 

There is still time to pull another chair up to your table and throw another potato in the pot. 

 

I’m guessing many will say no, but be grateful to be included.

And if they say yes? Remember this: your home is so much better than that bar in Boston.




 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Bring Home the Bacon

 Bring Home the Bacon

 

I often look to my own life and experiences as topics for this blog. Sometimes my life events strike a chord with my readers. Other times, I imagine they click on the link, yawn, and go their merry way. Bloggers want to write meaningful, enlightening posts. 

 

But it doesn’t always happen. 

 

Take this week.

 

I had several topics in mind, but I kept coming back to…are you ready? Bacon. Yes, I said bacon. B-A-C-O-N.

 

I had this craving for bacon. I don’t eat it often. In fact, I buy it so rarely, I’ve taken to frying it all at one time, eating a bit, and freezing the rest to zap in the microwave and eat later. Not this time. 

 

At the store this week, I tried my best to pass the bin of bacon in the meat section. I told myself I didn’t need it. I walked on to grab the butter and milk on my list before circling back to the bacon. I picked up a package and examined it. “Too fatty.” I put it down and studied my list. I needed some frozen veggies for a recipe so I headed that direction.

 

The veggies in the cart and there I was, standing again at the cooler with all the varieties of bacon staring up at me. “Just one package,” I told myself. (Wearing a mask makes it much easier to talk to yourself without strange looks from fellow shoppers. Hey, it’s a plus…take them where you find them.)

 

Of course I did finally fall to the temptation of the bacon, muttering something about life being short. That time it was spoken a bit too loud I guess, since the man next to me agreed as he put a second package of the Hickory Smoked variety in his cart.

 

I made it home with one package. And…I have limited myself to two slices each morning. Then there were those two slices yesterday afternoon. And the four slices this evening. I am totally out of control!

 

Why?



 

The answer is fairly simple: Bacon tastes good. I have some great bacon memories. 

·     Buying bacon in Greece since it wasn’t available in Kosovo.

·     The time my friend Christopher and I raced across Prishtina after church for an English breakfast that included bacon.

·     Bacon wrapped appetizers.

·     Bacon sandwiches.

·     Bacon on baked potatoes

 

I could go on, but you get the idea. 


I generally like to leave my readers with something of value so today I offer one of my favorite recipes. Try this one for Thanksgiving. It is a fresh and delicious broccoli salad. What makes it special? You guessed it…bacon. Enjoy!

 

Broccoli Salad

Chop two heads of broccoli into a large bowl. 

Add 

·     a thinly sliced small red onion

·     ½ lb. of bacon, fried and crumbled

·     ¾ C. of raisins

·     ¾ C. sliced almonds

Toss together and add the dressing.

Dressing:

Mix together the following

·     1C. Mayo

·     ½ Sugar

·     2 T. White wine vinegar or Rice Vinegar

 

Chill the salad before serving. It is delicious, fresh tasting, and compliments any main dish. You know it’s good. It has bacon in it.

 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Marathon

 The Marathon:

Finish the Race

 

The last Sunday in October, my youngest daughter completed her first full marathon. She’s been training for months. Her goal was to run/walk the 26+ miles in five hours. She finished it in 4 hours and 53 minutes. Wow. I would still be running. No, make that crawling to the finish line. 



 

Several friends said, “You must be so proud of her!” 

 

I am. But there is more. I am challenged by her tenacity. Oh, I doubt I will ever run a marathon. I may attempt to walk the half marathon, but run? Not likely. 

 

Kendall set a goal, developed a plan, trained for the event, engaged others in her quest, and pushed her way to the finish line. 

 

I needed that “shot in the arm” reminder. Maybe you do, too.

 

I’ve certainly set goals and seen them to fruition in the past. It is how I managed to complete college and go on to earn my advanced degrees. It’s how I took charge of projects when I was a classroom teacher. It’s the mindset my team used to create an award winning teacher licensure program at the university when I was a professor there. It’s the structure I employed in writing my first novel. And second. 

 

Set a goal, learn what needs to be done to complete the goal, bring others along side you, and press on until you accomplish what you set out to do.

 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so caught up in the vision of the end product or goal, I fudge on the process. Before I know it, the race has started and I’m still fiddling with my shoelaces. Figuratively speaking of course. 

 

Here’s an example. (You probably have one of your own.) I’ve been working on a suspense novel. I started crafting the book the last week of October in 2014. When Tom died, I could barely breathe, much less write. Last year I picked the manuscript up again as my focus for November. I was determined to complete the story. 

 

And I did. I was pleased to put the task behind me. It had been looming over me for six years. I handed it over to a few beta readers, incorporated their suggestions and called the book done. I submitted the to manuscript to a publisher and waited. 

 

The publisher said they like my writing. They seemed to see some value in what I gave them. They are willing to work with me to get the book where it needs to be. 

 

That is huge. Trust me. The suggestions they made are intense. This will take time. However, the fact they are willing to invest time in me is insanely generous. (Remember the part about engaging others?)

 

I’ll do it. As I said, it will take time. It will take a slowing down of the process. I have clear goals. I need more training. I need to stick to my writing schedule with the same diligence my daughter gave to her marathon preparation. 

 

I feel good. I’m not at the start of the race. I’m not at the end. I’m somewhere in the middle where the cheering crowds are thinner, the hills steeper, and the water stations farther apart. 

 

If you’ve followed my blog you know I often say, “The things we leave undone are the things that make us tired.”

 

But here is a new one for you. “It is finishing that long run that gives us energy.”


I’m in for the writing marathon. 

 

As soon as I tie my shoes.


How about you? What goal do you need to meet? I'm here to cheer.





 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Yellow Rose is Blooming


The Yellow Rose is Blooming

It is October. My garden is spent. The weeds are taking over. But a few days ago, before the weather turned cold and wet, I harvested the last of the tomatoes. Enough for a salad. A very small salad. 

 

It occurred to me then how we sometimes miss seeing the beauty of the flowers for the weeds. Sometimes we focus on the thorns instead of the buds or the fruit. 

 

For the past seven years now, the last week of October has been like that garden for me. My husband died on October 29, 2014. 

 

We had just talked with our middle daughter, Danielle, three days earlier. It was her birthday. It has been my tradition to call my children on their birthdays and recount to them their birth story. That particular birthday in 2014, for the first time in a long time, Tom and I were not on the phone together. I wished Danielle happy birthday and then told her the story about the day she was born. After we spoke, her dad talked with her and told her how proud he was of her. It was their last conversation.

 

I have continued to call Danielle on her birthday, but that last week of October…actually the entire month has been hard for me. I couldn’t enjoy the flowers. My heart was pierced by the thorns. 

 

This year feels different. I haven’t dreaded the month coming. I haven’t felt sick. (One year I actually suffered from what can only be described as emotional exhaustion.) It has been seven years since Tom walked out that door. Seven years since his accident. It was Danielle who pointed out to me recently that seven years is God’s perfect number.

 

I looked back at my blog posts for these past seven years. October is laden with the tragedy of Tom’s death. It is time to clear the garden. It is time to enjoy the flowers.

 

So I am dedicating this post to “My Yellow Rose.”

 

The Mother’s Day before Danielle was born my father-in-law gave me a yellow rose bush. We planted it by the fence in our back yard. We watched as it grew larger…fuller through the summer…as did my tummy. By mid-October, the rose bush produced a single large bud. 

 

I told my husband, “The day that rose blooms is the day I’m having this baby.”

 

The baby was due the first week of November, but I held to the notion that the date didn’t matter. I was certain the rose and the baby would arrive at the same time. Tom thought I was being silly. He was rather nonchalant about it. This was, after all, our second child. He read a book on delivering a baby. He was prepared, he assured me, for whenever the baby came.

 

I woke up on October 26 fully aware of the labor contractions beginning within me. Tom calmly walked to the kitchen to make coffee while I dressed. 

 

“We have time,” he told me. 


 

I made sure our four-year-old daughter, Allison, was ready to go to my parents' house. 

 

I looked out into the living room as Tom walked toward the back window. Suddenly, his coffee cup clattered to the floor.

 

“Becky, grab your bag!” he shouted. “The yellow rose is blooming.”

 

I did not say, “I told you so.” No gloating. No rolling of my eyes, even though I had been certain the rose would bloom the day our second child arrived. Our sweet Danielle was born that sunny, October day. Ever since, she has been known to the family as “our yellow rose.”

 

When Danielle decided to enter the mission field shortly after college, Tom and I looked at each other.  Our yellow rose was blooming.

 

When Danielle married Tim, we smiled. Our yellow rose was blooming.

 

Danielle is now the mother of four flowers of her own. She is a woman comfortable in her own skin and willing to take on every challenge that comes her way. Our yellow rose continues to bloom.

 

I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters. Beautiful inside and out. They are constants in my life. They are a reminder that weeds and thorns and pain may come our way, but the flowers are still there. It is important to celebrate them. We all have events that interrupt life and cause us pain. But if we seek them out, those roses are still blooming.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Of Fire and Air

Of Fire and Air

Through the years I’ve dabbled in many arts and crafts. I learned to throw pottery on a kick wheel in college. I’ve painted with watercolors, acrylics, and oils. I learned to sew. I’ve created images with needlepoint, cross-stich and embroidery. When scrapbooking was the rage, I was "all in" on creating scrapbooks for people I love. One Christmas a few years ago, I built dollhouses for my three granddaughters. Along with my oldest daughter and my mother, we made furniture for those houses.

 

All of these arts and crafts satisfied some desire in me to create. They all gave me joy. They were often gifts to others. 

 

And…they were all “hands-on.”

 

When a friend invited me to a demonstration class on glassblowing, I was intrigued. The invite suggested we would enjoy light refreshments and get to make something.


I had seen a snippet of someone glassblowing on a PBS documentary. I couldn’t see how we would be able to make anything, but I went. The project, he told me, was an ice cream dish. 

 

Glassblowing. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that isn’t all true. I knew it would be an extremely hot venue. 

 

We watched with others in the group as our instructor told us how the large furnace in the middle of a line of furnaces reaches a temperature of over 2000 degrees F. We sat on the bleachers across from the work area as she retrieved a glob of the molten glass from a smaller, hotter furnace by reaching in with a long, hollow rod. (I’ve since learned it is called a punty.) She twisted and turned the rod to keep the glass from dropping to the ground the way you turn a spoon of honey to keep it intact until you spread it on a biscuit.

 

Our instructor retrieves
a glob of molten glass
from one of the smaller furnaces
.

I watched in awe as the molten glob of glass began to take shape from the mere act of continuous movement and the force of gravity. She put the glass on the tip of the rod back into the fire a few times to keep it the right temperature. Each time, when she removed the molten blob, she utilized the natural force of gravity and the turning of the rod across a frame attached to the bench where she sat to get the glass the size and shape she needed for her project. 


Turning the glass on
the rails attached to the bench.


 

When the fiery hot glass was finally the right length, she retrieved a large cherry wood ladle from a bucket of water and put it under the glass project as she continued to roll the rod back and forth across the frame. The wooden ladle had to be wet to keep it from bursting into flames from the hot glass.

 

This is when glass began to take on a new shape. She blew ever so lightly on the other end of the rod. We watched as this hot matter inflated. After a few more steps, she finished her project and it was time for us to try it.

 

Yep, that's my air filling that glass ball.

We didn’t go near the furnace. We did roll the rod holding the molten glass, hold the cherry wood beneath the glob of hot matter, and we blew lightly to inflate the glass. To make the bowl shape we had to suck in a bit of air so that the inflated bulb came back in on itself to create a bowl shape. 

 

The experience was different than anything I had ever done before.


It took a while for me to fully digest what I encountered. 

 

We took a glob of molten matter and using the force of gravity, fire, air, and movement, we made glass bowls. Without ever touching them.

 

This was a first for me. It was fun and informative, yes. But by engaging in this ancient art, I found a new sense of appreciation for the creative minds God has given us. 

 

It reminds me of how God formed Adam from the dust of earth. How he breathes life into all of us. How he created everything from nothing. Like glass, we take on many shapes. We are described as “vessels.” And while it’s true our hearts can be shattered, we can also let the light shine through us.


If you live in the Cincinnati area and would be interested in learning more about glasswork, contact Neusole Glassworks in Forest Park. You can click on the link. It's pronounced "new sole," but for me? I think it's pronounced "New Soul."


Update: Here you go! My friend, Tom, picked up our bowls. Made even sweeter with Homemade brand Butter Pecan Ice Cream! Yay!




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

  Brain Breaks Yield Big Rewards

Last week I suggested six fun things to do to take a break from your to-do list. Taking a break will actually help you get more done in the long run. If you missed that post, here’s the list.

 

1.         Splash in the water.

2.         Build an obstacle course with the pillows and cushions from the couch for you and the kids.

3.         Stand on your head.

4.         Have a paper airplane contest with your spouse or a friend.

5.         Sing at the top of your lungs.

6.         Laugh out loud.

 

This week I did more playing than writing. I did however manage to work on my latest novel. I was shocked at how much more I wrote in less time. I think it was due to the brain breaks I took. For this week’s blog post, I decided to share an excerpt. 


 


My lead character is a wounded warrior (Will) who has returned to his hometown and opened a tool and die business. Business is growing. Will knows more about the manufacturing than he does about running the business…but he’s learning. And he’s about to get some serious help in the office. Here’s the excerpt:

 

“Mr. Morganthaler?” 

            Will looked up to see a young, red-headed woman poking her head around his office door. “Yes?”

            The girl walked in. To Will she looked to be about fifteen years old. She crossed the room and dropped a paper on his desk. “I hear you’re hiring.”

            “Well, uh, Miss uh…” Will stood and picked up the paper she offered.

            “Shepard. Carra Lee Shepard,” she told him. “But most people call me Carly.”

            Will scanned the document. “You graduated from Longneck High? You aren’t by chance related to the sheriff are you?”

            “He’s my dad.” She seated herself in the chair opposite Will’s desk.

            Will relaxed and sat back down in his chair. “I thought all he had was a bunch of boys.”

            “Four boys before he and mom finally got it right.” 

            Will had to smile. The girl had spunk. “Okay, let me look this over.” He leaned forward and studied the resume. “Associate degree in business management. Impressive. Where is this college?”

            “It’s a business college near Indianapolis. As you can see, I graduated with honors.”

            “I do see that.” Will put the resume down and picked up the heavy metal paperweight on his desk shifting it from one hand to the other as he twisted his chair from side to side. “And you want to work in a small company like mine as my secretary for minimum wage?”

            “No.” Carly leaned forward. “I want to work for a growing company in Longneck as the office manager for a decent salary. As you can see, I’ve projected my starting salary based on your company stats and what I can bring to it.”

            Will put the paperweight down, leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Okay, tell me why I should hire you. My last secretary worked part-time for minimum wage.”

            “And she left.”

            Will looked up. He studied the woman before him and shrugged. “Fair enough. You know bookkeeping?”

            “Yes, and I have a good handle on technology as well as dealing with employees.”

            “Too bad you’re shy.” Will grinned. He uncrossed his arms and leaned forward. “What do you say we give you a trial period? Say a month? I’ll pay you hourly and if you work out, we’ll talk salary.”

            “Hourly for a month? No. I have other options.” Carly stood to leave.

            Will sat up. “Two weeks? I mean I can’t commit until I see your work, right?”

            “We settle on a salary now and I work on a two week probationary period. And as we grow, my salary and benefits grow. Deal?” Carly stuck out her hand.

            Will looked into the girl’s eyes. “Deal.”

            The young woman shrugged off her corduroy jacket and threw it on the back of the chair.  “Let’s get started.”

            Will looked at the now blank screen of his computer. “Okay, let’s get you set up.” He took her on a quick tour of the factory before showing her the desk and computer she would call her own in the office next to his. He told her to familiarize herself with the files located in the reception area, showing her the employee files, work orders, contracts, and invoices. He didn’t know what else to ask of her. Not yet. 

            “Uh, I think the papers and stuff you probably need to fill out is in one of these drawers. You know, the forms for withholding taxes and all that.”

            Carly looked around. “Of course. I’ll take care of everything.” 

            Will slipped back into his office unsure if he was still in charge or if he had just handed the company over to a twenty-something-year-old bulldozer.

 

Well, there it is. What do you think of Carly? Personally, I like her. 

By the way, I’m glad she has a connection to the Sherriff’s office. Someone is up to something in Will’s business. He’s going to need all the help he can get. I love to hear from my readers.