Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Marriage 101: Agree to Disagree

 Marriage 101: Agree to Disagree


I was once part of a Bible study group where the leader shared a few basic “rules” before we started. He said there would be times we didn’t agree; there would be topics where our life experiences shaped our thinking in differing ways. 


Our first rule for the group was to bathe everything we said in love. The second was that we had to agree to disagree. 


Appreciating differing viewpoints is essential to any good relationship. 


I have always enjoyed the story of the five blind men and the elephant. As each touched a different part of the animal he would describe what it was. 


“A wall,” one of the men offered as his hand met with the broad side of the beast.


“No,” said another as the elephant’s trunk wound around the man. “It is a great snake.”


The one with a large ear flapping back and forth before him declared it a fan while the one holding the tail was sure it was a rope.


“You are all wrong,” said the one wrapping his arms around the animal’s leg. “It is a tree.”


It is all about “Perspective.”


Some people see rain. Others watch for a rainbow.

Is the cup half empty or half full?


Perspective. How you view life.


When Mike and I married, my mother gave us some outdoor furniture and a beautiful piece of outdoor art as a wedding gift. Once Mike put it up, we stood back and admired the piece. It reminds us of our backyard. 


“Of course it will look better once the house is painted,” Mike said.


On that we agree. Totally.


We have a plan to paint the outside of the house a much lighter color. A white or off-white is what we are considering. Right now it is dark. Not dark brown but more of a brownish orange-ish color.


Mike called it copper.

I called it gingerbread. 


Perspective. Based on life experience.


Mike worked for the electric company. 

Mike saw wires. 


I was a teacher.

I baked gingerbread with my students. We made “gingerbread houses” out of graham crackers and icing.


For a brief time, the color of the house became a point of serious discussion.


We held copper pennies to the surface. Copper is bright and shiny. Unless it is an old penny, of course. 


We held a gingersnap cookie against the wall. I insisted gingerbread, the soft cake, is not the light brown of gingersnaps. Nor is it dark brown.


We asked others.


Through it all, though, we respected the other person’s opinion. We decided we were both close...but each color was off a bit.


Then, one day while Mike was watching football and I was working on a book, it came to me. 


“The house is the color of butterscotch pudding!” I called out. Mike agreed.


(Of course he was watching football. But I’m calling it done. And waiting patiently for the new paint and painters to arrive.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

What's on Your Plate?

 What’s on Your Plate?


As I write this, I am preparing for Thanksgiving. It will be a small gathering. 

My family in Ohio and Wisconsin will be “doing their own thing” as they say. I was thinking about our large family gatherings. The cleaning and cooking, setting the table, and the long to-do list I live by the weeks prior to the holiday.  


I occurs to me I often talk about having “too much on my plate” when facing a new challenge or opportunity. 


As in…

“Would you like to join our women’s club? We have a wonderful time and serve the community.”

“I’m sorry. It sounds interesting, but I have     too much on my plate right now.”


I am not making excuses. I really do have a lot going on. 


I am, after all, a newlywed. Mike and I knew each other as teens, but we are still getting to know each other as adults. That’s a good thing. 


We bought a house that needs some updates and decided to live in it a bit to discover exactly what we want to do. Now we are working with a builder to discuss our next step.


My writing became muddled after Tom died. Sure I published a few short stories and I kept my blog going. Yet, in truth, I have been as unsettled as the characters in my books. 

Now I am writing again. I am working on a novel with a character I know and like. I’m in my writing zone, but it takes time and daily effort to write a book.


I’m sure we all have a lot to do. 

Some, like me, have a spouse, kids, even grandkids. 

Some of my readers have jobs they leave drive to daily.

All of us have work to do around the house.

Active in your church and community? Great.


I’ve often heard it said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

There is truth in that. 



It’s a “plate.” Not a “platter.”


So my advice….now that I’m old enough to give it…my advice is to take a close look at all you take on. 


Weigh your options before you dish up more than you can handle.


Decide what is the meat, your main course. Stay true to that.

Be sure to add some veggies and fruit. They keep you balanced.

Leave room for dessert. Everyone needs something fun in life.


Of course a small diversion here and there…something akin to a sprinkling of salt or pepper can add a little spice to life. As long as you don’t go too heavy on the spice and cover the main course so much you lose your taste for what’s important. 


Let me hear from you.


What is your “main dish” in life…or what is your favorite “dessert”? How do you find balance on your “plate”?


And when you do feel a little overwhelmed... Remember these words:


            “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, giving thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)


Wishing You All a Wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Eleventh Hour

 The Eleventh Hour


Eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of November. 


The eleventh hour… “the last possible moment before it’s too late.”


The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.


That was when peace negotiations began in 1913, bringing World War I to an end. Armistice Day. A day to lay down arms. Armistice Day eventually became Veterans Day and is officially recognized each year on November 11. 


Don’t worry. This post isn’t a history lesson. It is a post about friendship and an appreciation of the freedom and peace we share because of others who were willing to take a stand.


The day before the official celebration recognizing Veterans Day, seven of us met at a small café near the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa, Florida. All of us grew up in the area. All but one of our group graduated from the same high school, Chamberlain. Our high school had established a plaque in the park with the names of those classmates we lost in Vietnam. Names we recognized. Boys we knew.


The Chiefs We Lost in Vietnam
(Thank you Sandee LaRocca for this shot.) 

We walked through the park, sharing stories of our fathers and grandfathers, of uncles and friends who were forever marked by the blood of fellow soldiers in nearly every modern war starting with World War II. 


The men study the names
of those we knew and lost

Mike’s dad, Hugh Tyler, dreamed of becoming a doctor. As the next to the youngest of ten orphaned children, his ambition may have seemed unattainable. But Hugh Tyler was not to be stopped. He worked hard all through school and entered the University of Florida in the pre-med program. 


Then came World War II.


Mike’s dad stepped up to serve his country. Because of his pre-med classes, he served as a medic. He was acting in that role on June 6, 1944. D-Day. The carnage was unimaginable, the beach red with blood. Advancing soldiers had to step over the shattered bodies of their friends and comrades, shot down in the water or on the now blood soaked shore. Hugh Tyler returned from the war forever changed. He decided on a career as a dentist instead of medicine. 


My Uncle Noah returned from Vietnam a highly decorated Marine in an unimaginable war. He was honored for his heroism, but what I remember most was the haunting effect Vietnam had on him. I remember him putting his boots up on the chest of drawers every night. He explained to me it was a habit. In Vietnam, it was a way to keep water and snakes out of his boots.  And I remember the nightmares... and my mother in the next room, praying him through them.


Veterans Park isn’t merely to honor those fallen soldiers, it is also recognizing and honoring those who pushed through the oceans and swamps, hiked the deserts, and climbed the rocks. Those who fought on land, in the air, and on water. 


Those men and women who sacrificed time with their families so we could spend time with ours.


The park is a peaceful place. There are no sounds of gunfire. No fear of attack. No rumblings of army tanks or strafing by airplanes. It is a place of reflection and honor and commitment. 


As I ponder the experience, it strikes me how we as a nation are becoming desensitized to the vulgarity of war and the carnage of lost battles. We tend to cast off the painful memories often trapped in the minds of soldiers, expecting them to recover… to “get back to normal.” 


Now we watch wars unfold on television. If the sounds of gunfire are too intense, we turn the volume down. We don’t hear the cries of those who have fallen. We don’t smell the smoke. If it becomes too difficult to watch, we turn it off. 


This week many people across our nation recognized Veterans Day with parades, salutes, and celebrations. 

But for the seven of us, it was a quiet walk through a peaceful park, buoyed by gratitude for those who went before us.

Thank you ahead of time for sharing this post.


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A Week to Treasure

A Week to Treasure

I spent this past week in Ohio. 


I stayed with my mom at her house the first two nights. It was sweet to wake up to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and the sound of my mother singing as she moved around the kitchen.


Throughout the week we found time to play a couple of our favorite games like Backstreet Rummy and Farkle. We toured my youngest daughter’s house, which is almost ready for her precious little family to occupy and we attended the musical “School House Rock” to watch my oldest granddaughter perform. She has a wonderful voice. 

I’m not saying that just because I’m her grandmother. The girl landed a solo in the performance that was excellent.


Mom and I attended church together on Sunday. It is the church where my children grew up. The church where all three girls were baptized. The church where all three walked down the aisle on their father’s arm to leave our household for their own, bringing three good men into our family.


It’s the church where we all gathered in 2014, this very time of year, to say our goodbyes to Tom.


Mom spent a couple of nights with me as well. We pulled a few weeds from the front flowerbed. Then, after I’d put some of the power tools and lumber away in my basement workshop, Mom swept the floor of sawdust and bits of wood left behind. But again, we didn’t tire ourselves with all work. We visited and played a few more games. 


My stay in Ohio was a full week. Seven wonderful days. 

I was blessed to have time with family and friends. We celebrated my son-in-law’s birthday at Olive Garden. My grandson, Spencer, was home from college. He and I had a sweet conversation by the fire pit one night and his older brother, Joshua, wrapped his arms around me with one of his amazing bear hugs.


My youngest daughter, Kendall and I completed a beautiful prayer walk at her church. 


My oldest daughter, Allison, came to my house to set up the Christmas tree so that when Mike and I return in December we’ll be ready to celebrate. 


I am one of those people who can easily fritter time away. This week? This week was different. It was a time to pack in every moment possible. I connected with friends. I held tight to family. I even managed to do a few things around the house.


Here are a few pics.

My Sweet Family...and a Star is Born!

Fire Pit with the Family!

The Tree is Ready!