Category Archives: Thoughts Expressed

Tom

Today is not a good day!

There is no end to it. There is NO END to the endings in life and that is all there is to it. We are born, we live, and then we die. Most of the time we tend to delude ourselves into thinking we can make plans for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, but then we get “the phone call”, which acts as a reminder that all we really have is today and maybe not even all of that.

Our phone rings and when we pick up the call, we hear a voice that is at once familiar and unfamiliar. We recognize the voice but can immediately detect a heaviness to it, a sadness, a stricken grief about to spill over the cell phone waves and within a few sentences you are told about another ending.

This is what happened to me this morning. One of my very closest friends called and when I saw her name on my phone, I found myself smiling as I cheerily answered,

“Well hello there dear friend!”

It was unusual for her to call me on a Sunday morning so when I heard the timbre of her voice as she greeted me, I instinctively said “Oh oh!” to which she replied, “that’s right Juanita, this is not good news”.

My mind immediately scrolled back to our last conversation when she told me her sister was diagnosed with cancer. My mind then leaped into anxious thoughts about what she was going to tell me about her sister because she and her sister are very close despite the 18 year difference in their ages.

But, then as she continued talking I heard,

Tom’s gone, Juanita!”

(My mind silently reacted with the word WHAT?)

“He had a stroke”

(TOM?????)

“They moved him around to three different hospitals trying to save him”

(NOOOOOO! This. Is. NOT. possible).

I began to gasp in shock and stuttered as I said “Surely this is not possible?”

“It is Juanita…he is gone”

(“Stroke?”) (HOW is this possible?) He was the healthiest friend we had. He was a walker, a runner, a daily golfer. He did not smoke, rarely drank, and he ate healthy. He was slender and strong and vital.)

She said despondently,

They said something about a brain bleed…I am not sure”

i responded with “If you need me I will hop on the next plane”

“No, its o.k. I have so many phone calls to make and so many people to tell”

“O.k. I totally understand….I won’t call you for a while because I know you will be inundated with family and friends. But please feel free to call me the minute you feel the need of anything, even if it is just to talk”

“I will. Thank you Juanita”

We have known this couple since we moved to Cloquet, Minnesota in 1980, and this little town is located about 15 minutes out of Duluth. I remember the first day I met her. I was around 3O years old and I was busily wallpapering our newly acquired house, (yup, even back then I was always on a ladder). The doorbell rang and I opened the door to a young, beautiful, dark haired, slender woman. She greeted me and introduced herself as our neighbor who lived 3 houses down the street from us. She smiled as she meekly told me she was collecting for the heart society. (Ironic since it would be over thirty years later that she would undergo a quintuple by-pass herself). She apologetically said “This is legit, really it is!” I remember throwing my head back and laughing out loud at her genuineness. I immediately liked this sweet sincere woman.

We attended the same church and we introduced our husbands to each other, who really enjoyed each other a lot. They formed a strong friendship too. Lucky us because this 4 way mutual admiration society doesn’t always happen with couples. Her boys were slightly older than ours and they occasionally would come over to watch our children. All 4 of us enjoyed going out dancing and we enjoyed our young adulthood together as we raised our families. They were both born and raised and married in the same general area of Northern Minnesota, so they are well and widely known. My husband and I just kept moving to accommodate his career changes….so we leave little pieces of ourselves with our friends every time we move.

She and I began to form a deep friendship that came to resemble a chosen sisterhood which endures to this day. We have laughed together, cried together, mourned together, and been there for each other. I always tell her that despite the odds, I stubbornly continue to aspire to become like her though I regularly fail miserably. I will just never be as good of a human being as she is. I try, but I fail. I satisfy myself to live in the shadow of her goodness and light.

Unsurprisingly, she has a multitude of family and friends who not only love her but adore her! She will be well attended to by many people who care a lot about both her and Tom. To my utmost amazement, despite all of these admirers, she thought to call me within 45 minutes of his passing. I was and am deeply moved.

Ahead, it will be a long road to recovery for her, especially since she and Tom have been friends since Junior high school, and eventually married and stayed married for over 52-53 years. They were a very devoted couple and he took such pride in his best friend and wife.

Life is such a mystery. There are unhealthy people who live long and perfectly healthy people who die unexpectedly. I have long said that the greater the pain of a loss of a loved one, the greater the blessing of that person was to your life. Right now though, any type of feel good philosophy is lost on the person whose heart is broken and who is just trying to just breathe to get through this.

Years ago, when I was voicing frustration about hurtful things I did not understand about people or life, I would say to my Mother….

“I will tell you what Mother! Some day, when I die and go to heaven, I am going to sit down at that heavenly table with Jesus and ask him a whole lot of questions!!!”

My mother smiled and responded with, “Oh Juanita, she when you go to Heaven you won’t even have to ask. When you die, it will ALL become very clear!

Bye Tom…In the wake of your leaving, we already miss you so very much. Husband, Father, Brother, brother-in-law, Grandfather and very good friend. Al cried when I gave him the news of the phone call. He is so sad!

Al said he loved golf and beer…not necessarily in that order. Oh, and he said

“I loved that guy. He was a very good friend to me”

Please save us a seat at the banquet table!

Love, Juanita and Al

Oh, and the rest of you use every chance you get to give a hug to those you love. It may be the last hug between you!

The Sounds of Silence

I am sitting within the cool, softly lit and quiet interior of my home. The only sound I hear is the whir of a fan our daughter gave to us a long time ago when our a.c. unit went out. She ordered two of them and had them delivered out of concern for our welfare. By the time they were dropped off at our front door step, our a.c. was back up and running. We offered to send them back to her, but she declined saying it is always good to have them as a back up. So now, each time we plug one in, it is reminder to both of us of her caring and love for us. I like this excuse to think of her. It makes my heart swell.

I love silence. I love wandering around within our home and private courtyard, coffee cup in hand, in a set of old pajamas! It is here where I cherish the freedom of being absolutely, completely and most genuinely myself. I am grateful to my Creator to have placed me in this time and this place. As I have aged I have come to really like this old girl. I am the only person on this planet who knows her as well as I do and I love her because I know her heart. It is a very good and loving heart. The Holy Spirit has done a very good job with her as the two have cohabited in this body all these years. In the whole of my life, I have always been happiest when in solitude. Yet, I am not anti-social…not at all! I love being with people one on one or maybe in a small gathering where one can share thoughts and hearts and ideals in the quest for enlightenment and sometimes just for the merriment. But it is when I am alone where I love hanging out and reacquainting myself with ME!

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Years ago when we were overwhelmed with activities thrust upon our life, my husband said, “Sometimes I think the definition of the Devil is “busy.” “If he keeps us busy enough we won’t have time to reflect and feel gratitude for all things good in our life.” He is right, of course, because It is only when one sits in quiet and reflection where one can truly realize and appreciate and feel gratitude for the many blessings we already have.

I love our home. Actually, I have always loved all our homes. They wouldn’t be regarded as anything particularly special to someone else, but our homes are very special to us because this is where we hang our hat and nurture our hearts. Our home is our sanctuary from the busyness of our modern world. It is here where I surround myself with the people and things I love.

If you like blue and I like red, who is right?

We are BOTH right. It is called personal preference. These days, marketing people love to have us believe that our homes and cars and clothes are not “in” anymore. Out with the old and in with the new. It is the way the industry makes money off of us. The trouble with this theory is that we are all so individually and uniquely created, it is not possible for us all to like the same thing. Yet, year after year, in the spirit of encouraging the public to continue to spend their money, new products are introduced and suddenly the things we love are not considered acceptable. Few people entertain in their homes anymore for fear of comparisons which is unfortunate because I remember the days of early marriage when we and all our friends were poor and just plain happy to even have a house. We would have our friends in and they would invite us back. I don’t remember even paying much attention to their houses in those years because they were all modestly appointed and we all lived similarity. As the years went by, somewhere along the way homes went from being “homes” to being “showplace” houses. Houses kept getting bigger and more ornate. A lot of them didn’t feel much like a home anymore because they were so perfectly and “correctly” done by a decorator.

These are the types of things that run through my mind when I am alone. I see the things surrounding me and I am reminded of the person who gave it to me, or I remember where I was when I bought it. A lifetime of memories collect in a home if you let them.

I sometimes fantasize that I am an old soul. I love having my surroundings reflect a time long gone, a time when my Grandmother was a young wife. The old days. I doubt my house would fill the bill for the latest and greatest. In fact I know it wouldn’t. I have petite point pillows, a woven table topper, and I even a rectangular crocheted piece on my only table, which makes me feel close to Esther, my maternal Grandmother, who I can still see in my minds eye looping thread into and around her finger with a metal crochet hook. My house feels like an old friend to me, a friend with whom I can kick back in where we share our mutual memories. We have both seen a lot and have experienced a lot within these walls. We are both a bit worse for the wear, a bit frayed about the edges, but this is just proof that we have lived long and have been loved hard.

O.k. Coffee cup is now in the sink and it is time for a shower. The day is heating up outside and I don’t care because my sweet little home offers me relief from all of that summer heat. So does my gifted fan. I think I will go make my old iron bed and go find that book I have been wanting to read.IMG_0485

“Today is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Indeed!

RED, WHITE & BLUE,

So, the house is now finally refreshed with the exception of painting the home office which won’t be a big project. It is now ready to sell…..if and when we decide to do so! Gone are most of the personal effects, the family pictures, custom colors, custom drapes, favorite wall art, and dramatic wall coverings. Out went a lot of decorative items. All the walls, ceilings and woodwork is painted. As I sit here and look around, I actually like the look. It is clean and neutral…(well, mostly neutral if one ignores our deep cherry red sofa bought 20 years ago and a couple of chairs I had covered to compliment the drapes and sofa back then, which means they have their fair shade of red too). Recently, I couldn’t keep myself from scanning furniture sites for that perfect light taupe or off white sofa and the perfect neutral chairs.

The problem here is this…we have always been very kind to our home furnishings so they don’t show any wear whatsoever. It has also helped that this is an empty nest house. There is no wear and tear to speak of.

This pondering reminds me of Old Blue, our older blue Buick, when hubby is scanning new car books with a yearning on his face. Does one get rid of something that is technically old even though it looks new, and in the case of our car, is comfortable and looks showroom clean? It is a big question, especially since we bought a shiny new black car 3 years ago that usually sits in our garage as we continue to drive “Old Blue” around. We have put very few miles on the new car since purchasing it to replace our 20 year old Jimmy. The only time it is driven is when Al and I need to drive separately. (Yes, HE drives the new one then because I really don’t care one way or another)…(Do you see a trend here?)

After all these years of living, I have come to see that it does not make sense to replace something just because you want something new. (UNLESS you have a huge bank account) In our house we always ask the following question when we want to purchase something. Do we really NEED the item or do we just WANT it? There is a big difference between the two. My husband always says, “Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD! I especially see the truth in this now as I read insurance actuaries that show average life span. Does it make any sense whatsoever to buy new furniture at this age, unless we were downsizing and finding ourselves in need of smaller furniture? The answer is obviously no. I don’t mean to imply that we feel old because we do not! It is just that we have so much like new furniture in this house already that will have to be sent on its way at some point and we would rather not add more, only to be hauled out!

So, I am satisfied to have accomplished what we set out to do which was to neutralize our “surroundings”. Once we move our stuff out of here, the walls are now neutral, the floors are neutral, and curtains are now sheer and neutral. Gone are the heavy custom drapes and I must say I like this look better anyway. Lighter & brighter.

I have made friends with my old sofa again, tossing the old throw pillows aside and appreciating how nice it looks, the sleek lines of it, despite its age. It is kind of like an old friend come to visit, where one exclaims, “You haven’t changed a bit!” Is it my imagination or does my sofa seem to sit taller when I say this?

Good ole “Red” the sofa. Good “Old Blue” the car. Both have served us well for many years and both look great despite their age.

So, we co-exist…all the inhabitants of this house…the older furniture and the older people. Seems right somehow. I am glad I decorated it to suit my taste, despite the neutrals. It has an old world feel to it. Yeah, I like it a lot!

I just realized…we are a patriotic house…RED (sofa), WHITE (walls) and BLUE (Old Blue the car). Think I may just sing America the beautiful!

I hope your 4th of July was wonderful! We sure enjoyed ours.

Until next time….

Inch by inch

 

So, yesterday was the final day our friend/carpenter was here and today we have just a bit of painting to do and then we will be done with updating our 20 year old house. In all the years we each have lived, neither one of us has ever lived in one place this long. In the years since Al and I have been married, we have moved 9 times. I had at least 10 moves under my belt by the time we got married, so basically had developed a “love ’em and leave ’em” relationship with my homes.

We love our home…and we love how long we have lived here…our home has become our dear friend where we retreat from the world, where we invite our friends to break bread with us, where we celebrate family, and where we find comfort in just “being”. It is said that a mans castle is his home….but so too is this true for the woman of the house.

That being said, our castle was in need of a face lift. 20 years ago we moved in and thoroughly personalized our home with deep, rich and vibrant colors and have thoroughly enjoyed our surroundings. Now, however, as we face the final chapters in our life, however many that might be, we decided to neutralize the colors in our home to make it sale ready. Down came the beautiful custom red drapes, down came our wall of deep blue matted prints that we have loved so long. Out with the old, in with the new. Less IS more for us these days, and we are still walking “things” out our door. Inch by inch it is a cinch, they say, and it is so true!

Down came another wall of pictures, only this time it was large framed professional photos of the kids. Al hand delivered most of them to the kids as they cast surprised, slightly offended looks his way. He told them we are doing them a favor by getting this done now so THEY don’t have an enormous undertaking when we make our next move.

I am surprised by how well I like the look. Despite the neutral backgrounds and curtains, we still have plenty of detail going on with our remaining “stuff” and some of that Al will be walking out the door as well. This brings to mind a comment a friend made to me many years ago…She said, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of it?” Seems to me we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of trouble.

On the last two visits, our son and family from the north chose to stay at his brother’s home because there is more space there for the grand girls. This means we essentially have had all our excuses for not downsizing removed. They will still come to Texas for visits and whatever our home size is will be of no consequence. So that invites us to do some exploring of options.

We have no immediate plans…we will see what the future will bring and that will determine how long we live here. I am a nester of the first order, so I have always needed my own nest. My next nest may be a smaller home, a room in an old folks home, or my mansion in heaven. We just don’t know. But, we are making progress with separating ourselves from our things. I find it interesting how, when I look at something I felt a huge need to purchase years ago, I now wonder what the pull was at the time. Most things become…..just things. It is in the love relationships of our lives where we find our true identity.

O.k…..coffee cup is empty and there is some woodwork begging to be painted. Hopefully, by tonight our work will be done and we can sip some single malt scotch that was gifted to Al by our daughter. It is his favorite night cap, and wifey has come to enjoy it too!

Blessings to all. Live your most authentic self…which happens to be custom made by God! Love being sent to you from Austin Texas…our favorite place in the whole world!

In line

Another friend has died. One by one our friends and family draw their last breath, and with each persons passing, the line moves forward. I am in the line.

It is difficult to imagine my own death, though I know it is inevitable. I feel sad. Death is a part of life, but I still choose life for as long as I am allowed. I like this life I have been given.

I know what is ahead at some unknown date in the future, but still want to savor this gift of life. Someday our questions will be answered. We will see and know what is in the life beyond this one, but for now I am content to stay here and live this one.

Goodbye Billy. Goodbye Chuck. I am sad to see you go, though it is probable that where you are now is a far superior life to this one. God Bless!

Jjb/2/21/2018

Blessings

It has been a busy couple of days! We made a decision to lighten up the color in one of our guest rooms, so we spent the last two days painting, each of us having our own part in this project! It looks larger now, minus the rich chocolate color that has been there for the last two decades. The room is now happily sporting a very light pale green paint on the walls. We both love it! The room still looked new with the chocolate brown walls and complimenting comforter and drapes, despite all the years they have been there. The drapes and spread have been barely used. Yet, after 2 decades it was time to change it out and bring light into that room!

I like puttering with things in our home. It makes me feel young somehow. Most older people just live with what is, but because I don’t feel old, I am always in the process of refreshing our home here and there with anticipation of the life that is still to come. We have been downsizing our “stuff” to make it easier for the time when we can’t stay here anymore. The updating is in anticipation of years and years of still living here. So, in my mind we are working towards two different outcomes. We know NOT which it will be.

Aging is a funny thing! If we add up our years, we recognize that our age is considered by others to be old. Yet, our spirits do not recognize this being the case. I think the fact that our souls are “eternal” gives us the ability to think youthfully. Never, ever, do I feel “old” and I imagine this is also due to relatively good health. To date, I haven’t had an “oh, oh moment” and I am grateful.

My husband has gone to bed after making a fabulous dinner for both of us. It would be an understatement for me to say I got lucky when I met Al. Never in all my life have I ever had anyone who has been so good and kind to me, and I have to say, I have been blessed by many caring people around me. He is an amazing man, and I often find myself in awe of the blessing of him in my life. All that I have and enjoy is directly due to him. I thank God daily for the gift of his love and devotion in my life.

I have had an amazing life. My life hasn’t been perfect by any means. But, looking back, I thank God for those who have tested me, betrayed me, rejected me, ignored me, not appreciated me, or cared for me as much as I have cared for them. These people brought to me an appreciation of those who were there for me. The contrast in the behaviors of people I know has taught me to cherish those who treat me with love and respect. They are not as plentiful as those who don’t.

I am tired. Despite the energy one feels when involved in a project at this age, it is later when the body begins to complain! The room turned out beautiful. Thank you Lord for the energy supplied to complete another project. Thank you for another day! Thank you for those who love me. Thank you for those who don’t. The contrast is good for creating a true appreciation of the blessings in our life. Amen!

Jjb/1/25/2018

Bye, Bye, Baby

After an extremely busy holiday season which included four family birthdays and one anniversary, we are finally back to our project of material cleansing, meaning that we continue to take down, put away, or give away anything that does not serve its purpose anymore. We finished our laundry room and are extremely satisfied with the light and bright new look. Previously we had 5 upholstered picture boards where we had attached individual and random pictures of the whole family at various outings and events and non events. They were fun to look at in the beginning, but after a while it just looked like clutter. So down they came.

Yesterday we took down all the kids pictures that we had in our guest bedroom hallway. Most of them were incased in large, beautiful dark frames. These pictures were taken when our children were babies and children and teenagers. There was also representation of their high school and college graduations which happened a long time ago. When pondering what to do about these photos, we remembered that our children, the subjects of these pictures, do not display these in their own adult homes. We also noticed, when we visited our children’s homes, that they most generally do not display family pictures, and of those who do, they are certainly not of the size and number that our collection of pictures are. As we took down these very large dark framed photos, our guest hallway visually grew wider and taller and certainly much brighter. Yes! We both liked the new look very much! It doesn’t seem to make much sense to have such a huge representation of times gone by hugging the walls of our interior. We have all these same photos at our disposal in a much smaller form in our photo albums.

As I stood in our Master bedroom, I was looking for a space to hang our daughters bridal pictures. They are so beautiful, have light ornate frames, and I am not quite ready to wrap them up and put them away. The only available space to hang them is a wall where a framed photo collection of some of my own baby pictures are displayed. I hung it here because of a memory my Mother shared with me. She told me that back when I was the photographed baby, they had spent all they could afford on the pictures themselves. My Mother was thrilled to have a daughter after giving birth to two sons. She also did not have a sister, so I was highly celebrated when I was born. She told me that my paternal Grandmother generously had these three pictures put into a frame and she delivered it to my extremely surprised and thankful Mother. This happened well over a half century ago.

With a feeling of sadness I took down my long ago framed baby pictures and hung my daughters wedding picture in its place. Now what? What do I do with these baby pictures? The frame was purchased by a grandmother who was not any more flush with money than my parents, so these pictures must have been important to all of them. Now, for me to toss the frame and put the pictures in a box seemed ungrateful. It also meant that my baby self would be destined for obscurity. I am the last person on earth who knows the story behind this framed baby picture and the last one to even care about it because I am the last one in my immediate family to remember the women involved who created this lovely framed collection. This act of “taking down” underscores the fact that my grown up, “grown old” self is also destined for obscurity. My earthly ego finds it incomprehensible that I, me, and myself will recede into nothingness in the minds of even my own descendant. No longer will my baby picture be an object of love and gratitude, rather it will be an object of curiosity to people who won’t know me. Even if I write my name and date on the back of these pictures, at some point in time, this is exactly who I will become…just a name and date to some future family member.

Somehow, I make peace with this inevitability. Everyone eventually has to accept the fact of their inevitable demise. All I can really hope for is that our teachings about morality, encouragement in developing good character and understanding the importance of kindness and love to our children will have taken root, because this is the only real way “we” will live on in this life. I often observe all of our children and how they conduct their lives and I feel proud and grateful that the seeds planted so long ago have taken root and the result is a group of middle aged adults who are each contributing in a very kind, very positive and very caring way to the people of this world.

I take a deep breath and take down the baby and put up the bride. Both sets of pictures give me pleasure and both brighten our room. That was then and this is now, so bye, bye, baby, good-bye!

Jjb/1/10/2018

My Muse

I did not choose to be a writer. The “writer” has chosen me.

I suddenly picked up my pen one day and began writing eagerly.

It was when I first began to write where my pen wrote fast and furious.

It seemed the words came “through” me  which made me very curious.

Is it true that some people have muses? Do muses guide and inspire?

I think this is true because when my muse is around, I never seem to tire.

I feel such passion as I write, my fingers fly across the keys.

When I write, my mind is alight with words which flow with ease.

My need to write Has become so strong, I cannot seem to stop.

I do not care who reads my words, nor if the piece is thought a flop.

Memories bring words about those I have loved who are no longer here.

These words have the power to bring them close so I can hold them near.

I get to remember those I have known, from the moment I came to earth.

Yes, this includes even those who were here and present at my birth.

THIS writer is never lonely because of the memories within in my head

It is here where the memories of my life are encouraged and also fed.

When I am tired and it is time to sleep, and words I begin to lose,

I go to bed and in my dream filled head these memories are fed by my Muse! 

Jjb/copywrite/1/2/2018

What is it like to be old you ask?

What is it like to be old you ask? Well, let me ponder what to say.

I don’t remember getting older…..(Wasn’t I young just yesterday?)

Old age doesn’t change who we are inside. We are the same as we have always been.

The only thing about us that changes, my dear, is the body our spirit lives in.

Where once our hair was thick and full, it is now thin across our crown.

Where once our face was smooth as glass, there are many wrinkles to be found.

Our hearing has faded just a little bit, and our eyes need glasses to see.

When we pass the mirror we stop with a start, wondering who this reflection can be?

The outside does not matter that much, for we have new bodies waiting for us.

The time will come when after our death, our ashes will mix with the dust.

In Heaven we will be new again! We will be renewed in body and spirit.

I am in no hurry to live there now, but I really do not fear it.

Our souls are always young and alive, and alive our souls will always be.

This baby, turned child, turned adult, (now old) will live for eternity.

I am all the ages I have ever lived, it just depends upon the day.

Some days my spirit is much like a child, and some days I am old and gray.

I see the world just as I always have, I have not noticed the passing of time.

I am as happy as I ever have been and I am feeling just really fine.

Don’t let my exterior fool you. I am not as old as I appear.

My spirit was created to be ageless and it does not count the years.

How does it feel to be old you ask? You will just have to wait and see.

If you are as blessed as I have been, some day you’ll be old like me.

Life is how you see it. Life is what you decide it will be.

Feeling old can be a happy time, if you make up your mind it will be!

invest your energy into your inner self and create the beauty you want to be.

The ageless beauty inside my soul is the truest reflection of “me.”

Jjb/copywrite/1/1/2018

A moment in time

It is New Years Eve morning and we just finished watching one of our favorite television  shows, titled,  “CBS Sunday Morning.” We love this show because of its positive content in a very negative world.  They host and report stories about both famous and unknown people who are bringing good things to life by way of their individual talents. This morning they did their usual end of the year goodbye tribute to famous people who have died in the past year. As we watched clips about these people, the thought came to me…where does all this talent go? I can’t help but reflect on how much these people have added to the pleasures of my life and undoubtedly many others lives,  just by sharing their God given talents. Now they  are gone. It always feels sad for me to say goodbye even though I did not know them personally.  People are born, they live and share their lives with others, and then they die. Here today, gone tomorrow…more or less.

Life really is mysterious, even to those of us who believe in the hereafter. There are so many sides to life, the good, the bad, and lots of in between. Some people are extremely gifted from a young age..they are the prodigies we hear about.  Some discover their talents later on and develop them throughout their life. Still others never seem to find the gift of their talents. God was very generous in His gifting of talent. Everything I do that seems to me to be a gift is also a gift He has given to many others.  No one person on this earth is without equal, even though we are unique in our presentation of this gift.

I have become pleasantly aware of many talents God has gifted to me as my life has moved along. I know better than to take credit for them, because they do not come from me.  Rather they manifest their presence through me. I like that it happens this way.  My moments of inspiration are a gift of Divine intervention which is the best kind of intervention to experience.  All we have to do to tap into this power is to ask for guidance, inspiration and the strength of will to orchestrate it.

I am so grateful for this life I have been given.  It has never been perfect, nor will it ever be.  All my life I have had to deal with the imperfections that exist in this life, and it is through these challenging times where I have grown as a person.  I have learned empathy through the suffering I have experienced. I am grateful for this gift of empathy and I am also grateful for thie gift of encouragement because it was born and grew through many trials I have been given.  

Right now though, in this moment in time, I feel I am being given a taste of what heaven will be like.  I am enjoying our home in this first unbusy, uncommitted day that hasn’t existed for us in a long, long time.  My husband used to say that the definition of the devil is “busy” because if the devil keeps you busy enough, you won’t have time to reflect on the Divine and all that comes from Him. This morning I am sitting in my favorite chair in my favorite room listening to a gospel station on the radio. I have lit some candles in our fireplace, and our little indoor bird water fountain is making a lovely swooshing sound by way of its running water. This is a warmly decorated very cozy room in which to sit and I always feel at peace here. I feel a tremendous gratitude within my being.

“Be Still”, He whispers, “and know that I am God”.  

Oh yes, God, I know who You are and in this moment I am reflecting on this life You gave to me.  Thank You for all of which You have blessed me…the good, the bad and the in between.  Tomorrow we ring in a New Year and my resolution is to honor You by living my life in a way that will make You smile and nod Your head.  I know I am weak, but You are strong and together we are whole… With YOU, I am whole! 

Welcome 2018….My New Years resolution is to let my little gospel light shine!

jjb/12/31/2017

Love

 

As I sit here this morning the house is very quiet with the exception of  our radio playing very softly in the background. The old cuckoo comes out of the clock to break the silence periodically with his repeating “cuckoo” as he announces the time of day. After his announcement of time, the little edelweiss dancers (who always stand at the ready on our old clock) do their little dance and then the cuckoo rushes back into the clock, the doors close, and quiet resumes once again.

Some people find noise making clocks irritating but I don’t. I like the tick, tick, tick….the bong, bong, bong…..the cheerful music and dance….birds chirping or whatever else it is the clock uses to announce the passing of the hour. To me, the announcement is a reminder that time continues to march by and along with it marches my life. As the clock ticks away, each sound acts as a reminder to me that this life IS limited, I DO have an unknown expiration date, and I am reminded to make the most of every moment while I am still here. It is actually a good reminder of the miraculous blessing of being chosen by God to have this earth experience and I should not waste a second of it. We all hear about “living in the moment” so the cuckoo reminds me about how many moments have passed since his last announcement. Am I happy with how I have been spending these moments? For the most part, I can say yes.

Al has left to take down decorations at the church and normally I would go with him, but I need to stay home and get the house ready and food ready for round three of a Christmas celebration with our daughter and husband who arrive tomorrow. We have lived in Texas 20 years now and when we left Minnesota it never occurred to me that this move would forever alter our Christmas with our children. Only once in 20 years, have we had all our children with us at one time at Christmas. It was a hard, hard adjustment, but eventually we came to see the beauty of individual celebrations. We are allowed one on one time with each of our children which is a rare gift these days and a time where they have our undecided attention and we, theirs.

Our son and family from Minnesota “face timed” with us last night where we visited about an hour and while it is not the same as in person, it is still a pretty good second best because we got to talk with each person in their family and even saw the family dog. They were sitting around the family hearth and it almost felt like we were right there. Such a nice gift! A truly wonderful gift!

These adult children are so good at making us feel loved. As our family grows through marriages and engagements, it brings more family into our circle of love. While we always appreciate the lovely gifts they give us for special occasions, I wonder if they ever realize the gift we cherish the most is the gift of their PRESENCE and the gift of their hearts? As parents of grown men and women who already sport gray hair, shiny balding domes, and little baby crows feet making an appearance on their faces, I find myself wondering if these adult middle aged children understand that their Mother and Father view them through the alternating lens of time as we cast our eyes upon their being? We see the babies we held when their life was brand new. We see them in their brownie uniform, their Boy Scout uniform, their baseball cap, their band uniform, their basketball jersey……
We see them as our forever “children” and the love we feel for them is fierce and unconditional, much like God’s love for us. Who else could hurt us badly and in a wave of the hand we let it go and renew our faith in the eventual outcome of their life to come?

Mostly, though, in the midst of beautifully set Christmas tables, beautifully decorated trees, shiny packages waiting to be opened, the most wonderful gift really was, is, and always will be feeling loved for exactly who we are, maybe even in spite of who we are. Unconditional love is a rare, rare gift! Last night there was a toast made and this normally very shy person expressed a love so well and so beautifully, the recipient of this declaration of love was dabbing at tears that spontaneously appeared in response to this gift. To be witnesses to the expression of this kind of love brought a hush and then an explosion of words of appreciation and joy to all in attendance.

“For God so loved the world”, He created the inhabitants of this world to have a real NEED to love and be loved which is why so many of us place a supreme importance on the act of love. Offering ones heart to another person is the most treasured of all gifts, whether it is from ones spouse, fiancée, parent, child, grandchild, or friend. Love is as necessary to our existence as is food and water because God IS love. Whenever we gift someone with love, we are gifting them with a piece of God Himself!

This Christmas we are feeling very loved and appreciated and needed. There are no other gifts that even compare!

Now, I need to go and prepare for round three of family Christmas. I hope all of you experienced God’s love in some way from someone you love this Christmas! The reason for the season began because of a love so good and so unselfish, we can only imagine the depth and breadth and height of it!

Thank you for ba part of our life! Merry CHRISTmas!

I am SO done!

Because I am a very social animal (emphasis on social, not animal…😏 wink-wink), I love being in communication with people…most particularly family and friends. As the world has evolved, I have evolved with it.  As the years have gone by, more and more ways have become available to communicate with family and friends. Growing up, I lived in a very rural and remote area of the country, and hard as this is even for me to believe, I remember life before phones. Yes, indeed! Those were the days when conversations occurred in person and face to face, or written on paper in the form of a letter. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I became aware of a new invention, (to me, anyway)…which was the computer. Shortly after, another new form of communication arrived on the scene and it was called e-mail.  A few years later arrived video talking, (Skype) followed by texting, Facebook, and a myriad of ways in which one could be in contact with our loved ones.

One of my very biggest pet peeves in the midst of all these choices of effortless communication is when someone chooses to not respond to an e-mail or text. I mean, seriously,  can anyone REALLY claim they don’t have time to type “thanks for the note” or “busy right now, catch you later”, or even a “thumbs up?”  Responding to a message, however briefly, is the POLITE way of using technology in a relationship. Far too often when I have texted or emailed certain family members, it will go into cyber space and they do not bother to respond!!! Fortunately most of our family members DO respond, but the ones who do NOT respond make me feel like my time spent contacting them was a mistake and a big waste of my time! My time is valuable too, so when I do not hear back, I take that as a message in and of itself. The message I get is that I don’t warrant even a minute or two of your time or you are just not that interested.

Let me be clear on how I think about this. First of all, to have a text or email ignored feels no different than to be ignored by someone when I say “Hello” to them as we pass one another somewhere. Fortunately, this scenario doesn’t happen very often because “in person” most people feel pressured to “own” their behavior. Somehow, though, when it is written or typed and sent, the receiver can choose to ignore it, not really caring about the impression felt at the other end.

In our home we have made a decision…..if you are too busy for us, we will feel sad but we will accept this as how you want things to be. However, our life’s clock is ticking too, so we will save our efforts and we will respond in kind. Hence, we will give back what we get. We won’t be keeping score, but we are NOT interested in relationships where we keep putting ourselves out there to someone who shows no interest or respect! No hard feelings, really. It is just good to understand how things are with anyone, so we can move on and spend time with those who DO honor us and want to spend time responding to us. After all, fair is fair!

So, while we will never be the one who cuts the cord in a solid relationship, we also choose not to invest in a situation where there is no return. Can you imagine putting all your money into an account where you kept drawing out of it and never got any return? I would say you would move your money to a better place where your return is much better and more satisfying!

Feeling ignored by someone stinks and only a fool will keep going back for more of the same if what you are getting is nothing! So, as the New Year approaches, our resolution is…

 

 

 

“We’re gonna separate the chaff from the wheat,

because sincere love and respect is hard to beat!”  Jjb/12/7/2017

Here today, gone tomorrow!

As we begin our newest journey, I find myself thinking of our friend Delores.  She was one of the most enthusiastic followers of our little retirement journey’s. Contrary to how it may appear, I am not wholly comfortable sharing photos and details of our trips, except for with some friends and family.  I am very aware of the yawns that can appear when any one of us decide to share highlights of our lives, particularly in photos! I usually try to keep my own image out of the shots, choosing instead to photograph Al or little Willie, partly because I have never been all that crazy about having my picture taken and want to avoid the factor of looking like I am promoting “self” which is just not my style.

Having said this, quite some time ago when I first posted a few pics from some long ago trip, I was surprised to hear from various fb friends about how much they really enjoyed the pictorials, not because the pictures were all that great, but because for a number of reasons, these people could “travel” with us from the comfort of their own home! People pleaser extraordinaire that I am, this encouragement set me in motion to bring some light into the lives of those who expressed a desire for more. 

My friend, Delores, was one of these fans.  She could not travel anymore, though she certainly could well afford to do so.  She had become somewhat housebound and she would always write to tell me how much she enjoyed the diversion I provided as she looked at pictures taken in a multitude of places.  She really loved Little Willie, calling him a “rascal” and voicing how she hoped to meet him some day.  (Naturally, Little Willie loved hearing this because while his name is Little Willie, his ego is not so little!  If truth be told, his ego is super sized because of his related blood line to the great Willie Nelson.  He loves how much they resemble each other and, well, sometimes he can be a bit self absorbed! 😎

Much to my great surprise, Delores died not so long ago.  My surprise is testimony to her uncomplaining personality.  While I knew she had health issues, I did NOT know she was not long for this world.  Because of our contact by way of facebook, she had become a good friend and I really miss her.  Now, as Al and I journey out on this latest trip, I have her in the forefront of my mind, wondering what she would have thought of this latest round of photos!  I am SO glad I brought a little bit of this beautiful world to her by way of technology.  She said it was fun to feel as if she was in the back seat of our car with Little Willie, cruising down the road! 

Without doubt, facebook tends to show just the highlights of a persons life, but rest assured, the life of Al and Juanita is not all sunshine and laughs.  We have had our own fair share of unhappiness, disappoinments, fear, hurt, and feelings of aloneness just as so many others have experienced.  However, contrary to the negativity we see on a daily basis, we have decided to focus on and to share the beauty and blessings of the world we live in!  The hymn “This is my Fathers World” comes to mind quite often as we find ourselves drinking in the beauty of Gods world, a world he chose especially for us in which live.  All that is beautiful, all that is good, and all that is true belongs to God, and I am so grateful He decided to share these things with me and Al and our family and friends.

So, as we begin this newest journey we tip back our celebratory glass and say ..”This one is for you Delores!”   I will miss your enthusiastic reaction and your sweet, caring responses to the things we chose to share!   You have taught us that while we are here today, we may not be here tomorrow, and that we should live, really LIVE in each moment we get.  Let us celebrate and focus on all  that is good, and turn away from that which is not.  

(Hey!  Maybe THIS time, you really are in the back seat with Willie?)  If so, maybe you could gently wrap your angel wing around his little hillybillie mouth and teach him how to be a gentleman!   Blessings to you if you manage to create a silk purse out of a sweaty bandana! Ha! Ha! 

Delores,

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace! 

Amen! 

 

Commonly Imperfect

Sometimes I find myself wondering if I have contributed to life in a way God intended when He sent me to earth.  After all, I am only average! I haven’t really achieved excellence at much of anything!  I realize God has given me talents which I have joyfully used when I garden, landscape, write, and create.  God also gave me the blessing of love and empathy and caring and I DO use these to the utmost of my ability.  It is automatic.  I feel other peoples pain often and always want to comfort anyone who is hurting. It is a built in mechanism of Gods own design.  People pleasing seems to be my forte’ and it can become  burdensome at times, maybe even to all concerned! 

Yet, even as I KNOW that I am most common and average, I can see the above average people in this world.  I see and read about those who have done great things for mankind, people like scientists who keep discovering medicines and cures and the Doctors who implement these.  I see inventors, great thinkers, and major problem solvers who help humanity. ….I see that there are people who are smarter, more ambitious, more accomplished and more recognized in this world.  No trophies, degrees, awards or footnotes in history books will ever have my name on them!  The question is, does this bother me?   No, I camnot say that it does!!  As Abraham Lincoln once said, “God must have loved the common man because he made so many of them!”  So there you go! This is proof that God loves me because He created for me, my own tiny little place in this vast universe, and I know that God makes no mistakes! 

As I think about my contributions to the world, I think my best contributions were when I provided my body as a vehicle for three of Gods chosen spirits to come to earth.  While so many of us look forward to a heavenly experience, God was looking forward to an earthly experience for these three souls where they would learn about the results of love and the consequences of hate.  What better way to learn than to learn something first hand?  

God gave these children to two very imperfect people who were quite ordinary in all their ways. The one exception to our ordinariness was God knew our ability to love our children would be extraordinary, and it has always been this way since the day we were blessed with these sweet souls!  One just cannot have a spirit of God pass through ones body without having a feeling of eternal love for this living, breathing creation of God Himself! 

So, as I sit here contemplating our own eternal souls with the earthly names of Al and Juanita, and think about us existing in these aging bodies with unknown expiration dates,  I smile.  God gave these two imperfect parents some imperfect children because He knew that with all of us living amongst all these individual imperfections, we would learn how to give and receive perfect love, because perfect love comes from our Creator.

Our children learned a lot from us as they grew up and we learned a lot from our children! God knew we would be a perfect earthly union of eternal souls who would perfect the art of unconditional love for each other.  We don’t love each other for our perfect ways. We love each other for all the ways we are imperfect because it gives us all permission to be wholly (not Holy) human.  

Perfection reigns in heaven and we aren’t there yet.  But someday we will be and then we will realize that our imperfections were Gods carefully selected tools through which to learn about His perfect love. Our earthly lessons are rather simple.  Common men and women learn them well. We learn how to love the way God loves us which is not in spite of our imperfections but because of them.  I, for one, am very, very grateful because our children were blessed with a very common, ordinary, imperfect and flawed Mother and Father.  Because of me and their Dad, our children should ace their unconditional love test when they return to God!  ❤️

Jjb/8/27/2017

Ooom-pa-pa


I can hear Polka music playing 🎶
It is Sunday back on the farm.
🎶 Music is playing on the radio 🎶
Dad twirls Mom around on his arm.

🎶 Ooom-pa-pa!  Ooom-pa-pa! 🎶
They are swirling to and fro.
Dancing to the “ooom-pa-pa” beat 🎵
🎵 From their old time radio! 

Accordian, drums and tuba, 
🎶 Such a lively, happy beat 🎶
The sound of a concertina,
Brought tap-tap-tapping to my feet! 

🎶 Oooom-pa-pa, Ooom-pa-pa! 🎶
It brings memories of Mom and Dad.
This music puts a smile on my face,
So why then, do I feel so sad?

I guess I just miss my Mama. ❤️
I miss my Papa too. ❤️
I am now the age they were back then,
When polka music was loved by those two.

I’ll bet they are dancing in heaven.
Swirling around to the polka beat.
🎶 “Ooom-pa-pa, Ooom-pa-pa” 🎶 loudly plays.
And St. Peter is tapping his feet! 😇


Jjb/8/13/2017 (copyright)