Category Archives: Thoughts Expressed

The POWER of thought!

We have been sheltered in place since March 11th, so at the time of this writing, we have been in our home for over 9 weeks, and it looks like there is more to come of this quarantine.

At first we were more than willing to follow the guidelines because the visuals on t.v. convinced us of the danger of this new Coronavirus, especially to those over age 65. But a few young people were also dying from this virus, so, to stay healthy, everyone took the advice to stay home….to shelter in place. For our part, we were forced to give up our much loved part time jobs which we had chosen to do in retirement to remain engaged in society and to fill a purpose.

These days, our days go by without much fanfare. One day is the same as the next unless we decide to go out for a ride for a change of scenery. We live in an urban area on a small corner lot, and we have developed our property into a small sanctuary over the past 22 years. We have created several vignettes, each one with a path leading to it. It is fun because as a person stands on any part of our property, there are glimpses of something of interest just beyond the next corner which invites one to go and investigate.

When I was planning the design of this property, and began planting, I did it in sections. My plan was done with the thought that this would be our retirement playground when we got old. The idea behind it was that if we got bored, we would always be able to go outside and find something to do and something to tend. Along the way, we were gifted with two grandchildren, so some of the planning involved thinking of what they might enjoy. The end result is a nice mix of spaces and most people who come here seem to enjoy what they see.

It isn’t professionally done, so I think that is a big part of the appeal. It comes across as something people haven’t experienced before. It is simply an extension of our imaginings, so when you see our property, you are seeing our inner eye. It is not polished, nor perfected, nor does it include high end costly materials of the type a landscape architect would use when he or she goes to work on drawing plans. Hence, in its imperfection, it is uniquely ours and we love it.

Little did I know, all those years ago, that I would have to use a pick axe and a texas toothpick to break up the caliche rock in preparation for planting. As I imagined us enjoying this space when we were retired, I had no idea that we would be enjoying it during retirement at a time of a world wide pandemic!

We are especially grateful for these outdoor “rooms” now more than ever, not only for the privacy but also for the work they provide for us to do, to keep our minds and bodies healthy. I never go outside where I do not see something that needs a minor trim of some kind. I recently repainted an arbor an apple green and really like how cheerful and inviting it looks.

So, in truth, up to this point anyway, the Pandemic has not caused our life a lot of excess stress with us staying home. We have each other for company as well as the wildlife that have made our property their home.

I went outside yesterday because I had been spending way too much time on the computer reading and watching stories about this Pandemic from endless points of view. Some of the interviews were wonderful because they were a conversation between two intelligent people talking in a calm and thoughtful manner, which was how conversations were conducted in another more civilized time and place. Unfortunately, though, I also came across many that had agendas backed by hate. There are a lot of things I am not happy about with this Pandemic and with how it is being handled, but I don’t feel angry or hate filled because of it. However, I DO feel stressed by the onslaught of angry, hate spewing commentators that make up most of the news in this day and age.

I went outdoors to find relief from this stress, and with small clippers in hand, I began to clip volunteer shoots off the trunks of a line of little Yaupon Holly trees we planted many years ago. I was deep in thought and with every snip I could feel the tension leaving my body. Soon I was completely engulfed in the enjoyment of reshaping these little trees, and at one point, as I was moving a branch in the dense growth of a tree, my attention was drawn to a tiny bird nest hidden deep inside the tree branches, complete with three very small speckled eggs resting inside. I quickly moved the outer protective branch back in place knowing that the Mama could abandon the nest if human touch or scent were left too close. Suddenly, I was brought out of my deep thought by an excited chattering above my head. Of course, it was the Mama bird scolding me for getting too close to her unborn babies.

These 8 little Yaupon Holly trees were planted in a row many years ago, and as I was snipping with my clippers, I had been lost in thought and admiration for how nicely they had grown and filled in. Responding to Mama birds chattering I respectfully moved on down the line, hoping she would see me as a neutral energy that meant no harm to her family.

As I continued from one tree to the next, hand selecting which branch needed pruning, I began to think about the importance of appreciation for where our life is at any given moment, right here and right now. Granted, my husband and I have been affected by the way things are being handled by the authorities, but honestly, we aren’t experiencing the stress and fear that so many are forced to endure. While we would prefer being able to go about our lives as we once did, we are fine with staying home if this helps us add a few more years of life on this planet. We have the resources needed to get us by for the next year if need be.

At the same time, I DO think about those who live with the grief and fear of having their livelihoods yanked away from them. Many of the people who criticize the activists for protesting the shutdown of America are likely doing this because they, themselves, (and their loved ones) are able to continue working from home. Many of those making these decisions are still employed and continuing to collect their paychecks. They may be stressed about being forced to stay at home, but they do not have the stress of loss of income, nor the threat of losing their life savings that went into a business. They don’t have to fear what happens if they cannot make their mortgage or rent payments. They don’t have to wonder how they will feed their families without an income.

We all see this life changing Pandemic from our own perspective which is influenced by where we sit financially in the type of dwelling we live in, what our age is, and how much savings we have. Perspective is actually created by the reality in which we live.

We should ALL be very interested in NOT losing or giving up our rights as described under the bill of rights. A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens. If you are not clear about what these are, it may be a very good idea to look them up. We should want to be very careful about protecting our civil liberties, because once gone, they are unlikely to come back.

I believe that because so many of us in America have been so comfortable for so long, replete with plentiful blessings, we have forgot (or maybe never really understood) why we have it so good. Our country has thrived because of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Very few countries outside the U.S, have a life as good as what we have come to take for granted.

In a conversation the other day I told a friend that I felt sympathetic to a 77 year old Barber I had just read about in the news. The Barber said that he stayed home for 2 months as a courtesy to what the scientists felt was necessary for the good of all. When a third month was added to shelter in place, he picked up his barber supplies and opened his shop because if he stayed closed one more month, he may not have a shop to go back to and he had bills to pay. I told my friend that I could appreciate his concern and understood his need and right to make a living.

My friend said, “Well, people also have a right to not go to his shop.” I immediately agreed with her because this also is true. We all have our individual rights in our free society.

For our part, we will continue to follow all the recommendations because ‘we can‘. It is our contribution to society. At the same time, we recognize that our decision to follow the rules is not the same decision that others will have to make because others have so much more at stake.. These are hard times for everyone, but the outcome for each person will be different. On the rare occasion we leave our house, we wear our masks and our wrap glasses because we know there are likely to be others out there who won’t wear them.

I feel that how this shutdown affects the unemployed and those who have had their businesses shut down WILL have a ripple effect throughout our whole economy with the exception of the very wealthy. They can afford to ride it out. If the stock market crashes, they will have the money to buy low. But the middle class and those living below that level will feel the bite of what is ahead!

I do not profess to know what is best for everyone. Not even close! But, I do feel that in a free society people should be allowed to make their own decisions. I do not think there has ever been a time in our history where healthy people were required to stay home. In the past it was the sick who stayed in doors. Think of the days of tuberculosis! It would all make far more sense to me if the high risk categories of people were to remain in isolation snd protected from those who could infect them. The sick could go to designated places to get better. Everyone else could just go about their business as they see fit. Our economy is dying as fast as the victims of covid and we need to be cognizant of how this will ultimately affect everyone. Inflation has already started if you look at the food prices in stores. Eggs were at $6.19 at one of our stores the other day. Similar increase in cost of goods may end up being the most detrimental result to covid19 coming to our country.

Through my window, I just now saw a bird splashing around in our bird bath. I think I shall go outside and see whats going on out there! I miss my family so much! I miss our friends! I miss our church! I miss my old life! If I make it through this Pandemic alive, I will have a much deeper appreciation for all the things I used to take for granted…lunch with friends, a hug from family, working at a job that made me feel productive, attending church and sitting amongst our church family every Sunday! If there is anything I would pray for, it is that as a society, we will become more love filled than hate filled.

Social media has unleashed in some people a nasty way of communication because they can hide behind their keyboards as they spew their hate filled rhetoric. Why not sit down and negotiate for the betterment of all? I want to go back to kinder times. I want to go to the mythical Mayberry of our youth where life was slow and justice prevailed and lessons were taught in quiet, kind, and thoughtful ways.

I can see now in my minds eye how you might be saying to me, “dream on dear girl…the world is not like that anymore”. I say in return that the good things in life are the result of putting action to dreams! “If you can dream it, you can do it!” So, lets just do it, whatever good ‘it’ may be to you. As they say, we need to BE the change we wish to see in the world. It all begins with me….and you. Baby steps, baby steps…let the white hats of the world gain power in what is good and what is right, for we would all be so much better off.

Now…off to the great outdoors!

Jjb-5/19/2020

Epilogue

We are sitting here listening to some soft slow music on the radio. The days now just run into each other one right after the other. Our life seems suspended in space. The suspense of where this Pandemic is going and what it is going to do to us and society is immense, and it creates fear that one has to tamp down occasionally so it won’t take root snd grown out of control!

Because there is so much time on our hands, there is much time to think. I find myself comparing what is going on now to other times long ago when people felt helpless and powerless. Shelter in place may save our bodies, but what happens to our minds? In every other kind of war throughout history, people took action, and the action taken brings along with it a kind of adrenalin which pumps throughout our nervous system helping us to counteract our fear. Staying in place and laying low brings no adrenaline rush with it, with the exception of the quickened heart rate that occurs when fear comes to visit. We just exist in a suspension of the life we knew. But, we understand and believe the scientists when they say this is our best contribution. So we obey and pray that this will bring a blessing to our society!

The virus is bad…really bad, and we know we may or may not survive it. Shelter in place just prolongs our turn at being infected, and we hope as time passes something will come along that will save us..a therapeutic drug or a miracle vaccine.

We are not the first society to go through something like this and we won’t be the last. Somehow, knowing others have survived pandemics makes us feel somewhat placated, but we also know that there were a great many who did not make it through those times.

So, with that in mind, we began to go through our safe, checking our wills, sorting and discarding papers that no longer apply to our life now. I was setting aside and marking different jewelry pieces for our daughter that I have that come from her Great grandmother, Grandmother, and Mother. There are only a couple of pieces that have any real value. The rest have more sentimental value than monetary value. But, their value is in tracing the history of the women in our family. There is a very old lapel watch in a round Elgin watch case made of metal and glass. There is also a cameo brooch that my Mother gave her Mother as a gift. I am leaving her all my rings with notes about when they were purchased and received and the occasion that brought them about. I have a beautiful set of amber topaz earrings, ring and necklace that my Mother bought while living in Venezuela and they are our daughters birthstone, so there is that little story about how she was chosen to receive these. I have a beautiful bracelet that my Mother was gifted from her best friend. This has its history written with it as well. Our daughter has no children, so I am requesting that when it is the right time that she please pass these items down to our only two grandchildren, both girls.

As I am going through the motions, I realize I am packing for our next move. We have moved many times due to my husbands career, and so there has been a lot of packing and unpacking for those moves. We have lived in 10 homes in our married life. It got to the point where I dreamed and longed to just stay in one place for a long, long time. My desire came to fruition. We built our last home around 23 years ago and I have been so happy to have been able to sink my roots in and to become a part of a community.

Now, I am preparing for our final move that requires no unpacking. Well, at least no unpacking that will include any effort on our part. Our next stop is heaven, and as has oft been said, shrouds have NO pockets.

I have been very, very blessed in this life in so many ways. As I look around our last stop here on earth, taking in our beautiful home and grounds, I recognize that nothing really belongs to me anyway. Everything we own is simply an earthly blessing, leant to us to use and enjoy, but not to keep. When we leave this earth, we may “regift” the blessings, but those recipients won’t be able to keep them either. They will change hands once again as the recipients move on to the same place we have gone to where we will meet and greet them joyfully, unburdened by material goods!

I do not know how long we have ahead of us but I am prepared. There is only one thing we can take with us and it is non-material! What we bring with us is love. All the love we received on this earth and all the love we gave to others is always with us. No need to pack it up because all love given and received becomes a part of us and stays with us always.

Tomorrow is another day. I have more things to do in regards to our eventual departure, most important being the notes of encouragement we plan to leave behind. Our final farewell, if you will. If it so happens that this is not our time, well, then the work will put us ahead of schedule in the game of closing the final chapter, the epilogue!

Who knows what lies ahead here on earth? I spent today in the past…almost akin to a life review, where I reread old report cards of mine that my Mother had saved, our marriage certificate, our birth certificates, our children’s birth certificates, old mortgages borrowed and satisfied as I revisited the many homes we have owned . Then I reread our wills. If anything is a reminder that life eternal is not in THIS life, one only has to read ones own will.

But, as our one son always likes to say…”It’s all good, Mom, it’s all good!” For the most part he is correct. Everything is as it should be. We are born. We live. We die! We live again which is the greatest of all gifts. “It’s all good!” Yes, yes it is! All we have is right here and right now. I hope I get another day to finish up my farewell to our kids. If not, well, what is done will be understood by them too!

Jjb/April 16/2020

Easter

Here I sit, alone in a quiet house on Easter morning. My husband did not sleep well last night so he took my suggestion and went back to bed to get more sleep. For all intents and purposes time has stopped. It does not matter when we sleep or when we are up because there are no demands on our schedule. For the first time in my life, there is no where to go and no one I can meet with. As I sit here, I am imagining so many others who are experiencing this alone, living the national “stay at home” response to covid19, and I think it must feel so isolating and lonely to not have another life force to exchange thoughts and feelings with in this confinement. I sympathize greatly with all who are alone!

In some ways this time warp feels ominous, similar to the calm before the storm. We read about New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and how the reality of this virus has hit them head on. There is no time for reflection for people in these cities because they are in the middle of an all out war with this virus that many have lost. The rest of us, reading about it or watching it on t.v., cannot really grasp the enormity of what is happening because our communities are experiencing this onslaught to a much lesser degree. We realize that it is still on its way towards the rest of us and feel great anxiety.

As I write this, our daughter is into the end of her 3rd week of ongoing covid symptoms. For her they are shortness of breath, exhaustion, and fever. She was hit hard in the beginning, laying low for over a week to 10 days before she went to the ER where they gave her I.V. Fluids and tests to determine if it was flu, strep or pneumonia, with a negative on these. They also gave her the covid test and it came back negative, which we have since heard during that period of time, between 25% and 50% of the tests were reading as false negatives. Of course there is no proving this conclusively, but our daughter has said repeatedly that the symptoms she is experiencing are unlike anything she has experienced before, and as a result, she suffers anxiety which complicates the breathing issue.

We have been on the phone with her repeatedly, trying to offer support and comfort during the times she is weepy, but we cannot do for her what a person would do for her in other times of sickness, and that is physical contact. Everyone is told to stay away from people infected with covid. So technology allows for her to see us and hear our voices which is somewhat helpful, but it is a poor substitute to having someone there with her to physically take care of her. Her personality is not weak. She has been an intensive care nurse for years and has been at the bedside of many dying patients. She understands illness, yet this feeling of illness has really frightened her.

Today she sounds better and says she feels she is 50% on her way to wellness and instead of it being an uphill battle it is now dow the other side. So that is a great relief. A great-great relief!

I look at the covid interactive map and can see that most of the country because of the lockdown are having a much less severe reaction to the virus than what has happened in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana. So far, so good! What will be interesting to see is when they begin opening things up, which they have to do at some point to prevent the economy from collapsing, but what happens then? Only time will tell.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many deaths happen each regular year in the U.S. and found….

Deaths and Mortality

Data are for the U.S.

  • Number of deaths: 2,813,503
  • Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Life expectancy: 78.6 years
  • Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live birthsfollowing:

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

Of course these numbers do not include the deaths that will be added by covid19, but I must admit, I was surprised by how big the number was for deaths in the U.S. in a single normal year.

Death is always with us. Every single day each one of us has the potential to be added to the statistical numbers. it’s just that we rarely think about it until we, ourselves, are made aware of a weakness or an illness in our body by our Dr who may tell us we are on limited time.

We live in modern times and unlike plague infestations in the past, we can take our “stay at home” initiative and make the best of it. We can tell our loved ones all the things we want them to hear from us before we die. We can prepare ourselves spiritually for what may lie ahead. We can take this time to go through our things and determine to whom we want to leave certain mementos, things that matter to us that they can remember us by.

On the other side of this, we can write, paint, read, garden, watch movies, meditate, read devotions and the Bible. We now have all the time we used to complain we did not have, right here right now! It sounds kind of like a glimpse at what heaven may be like doesn’t it?

Because I am a person of high risk, I have made a commitment to myself to stay at home until either a vaccine is created or a therapeutic therapy is developed to keep me from being pulled under! Lots of time to read, write, paint, garden and have conversations with our maker. Aren’t we fortunate to live in modern times?

Today is a new day! Easter was yesterday and it was a great reminder that we have another life to which we can look forward with hope and excitement of things to come. Today the sun is shining and the leaves are shooting off of branches all over the place. Spring has arrived and it is a sign of new life. I think I shall go out and enjoy it!

Jjb/April 12, 2020

Grace

Today marks 30 days since I have left our home with the exception of a couple of drives around the area for a look at the outside world. We stay in our car so there is no exposure to other people. The days of COVID19 are upon us. We have kept track of how things are going around the world and most especially in the United Stares. Just watching things unfold in New York tells us what is rolling across the United Staes. Looking at the covid update maps, one can see how quickly it is moving across the U.S. and as it expands so does the fear. This virus is vicious and it is leaving behind in its path, much death and economic disaster.

On our drives, we see a lot of new home construction which signals faith in a future, which feels nice. Our own thoughts vacillate about the future, mostly wondering if we will even have one. The voluntary lockdowns are having an effect on everyone. it seems to adversely affect those who live alone the most. Humans are social animals, needing interaction with others, so to be in a self induced solitary confinement is very difficult for most people. These times are difficult for the elderly as well, because we recognize we the preferred prey for this virus.

The last 30 days has gone by well enough for us because we are fortunate to be living at home with a caring partner in this modern day nightmare. Living with one other person is nice for conversation, companionship, comfort and support. I have my moments where I find myself looking at my husband and wondering if either or neither of us will be spared? No matter which way I look at the possibilities of what could happen, most scenarios bring about a lot of stress, so I do not allow my mind to dwell there for long. We have rechecked our wills and have them in one place where the children can find them if the need arises. While we are prepared to meet our maker, neither one of us is ready for our demise, meaning we feel we have a lot of life left in us. But, I am sure most people feel this way.

In these times of “shelter in place” we are forced to reevaluate our lives and our purpose on this earth. We have lots of time for ‘one on one’ conversations with God, He, doing the listening while we pray for countless friends and people affected by Covid19. Being forced to stay home day after day gives ample time for reflection.

I do a lot of reading…mostly history of the U.S. and former epidemics and pandemics. Looking at past pandemics, I realize how brutal they have been to every population that have been afflicted with them. In most cases, they didn’t know what was causing the illness and death, so they lived in perpetual fear as they witnessed how lethal it was, having no idea how to protect themselves from it. Quarantine is nothing new. Societies have often turned to quarantine to stem the flow of disease.

We have been very blessed to have lived through so many years of good health due to modern medicine and the advent of vaccines. Here in America particularly, as a society, we have come to believe that most anything can be fixed, and if not fixed, at least medicine could buy us time. We took good health for granted because modern times gave us that false narrative.

As I sit here now, scanning updates of this monsters progress on a daily basis, I think of so many stories in history where people were forced to live in fear. Naturally all other pandemics and epidemics brought fear. The diary of Anne Frank tells us of the fear of being discovered in the tiny space that 8 people shared for around 2 years. Imagine that! Living in fear and silence for over two years just trying to stay alive! Then there were people who dealt with the presence of War in their lives. I was startled to read that the 1918 pandemic came along at the same time as World War 1. I felt such sadness for those poor people! It seems that populations have always been culled by war and disease throughout all time where only the fittest survive.

Our days have lost their structure, and we try to keep ourselves occupied with reading and projects, anything to keep our mind off of current events. Grocery stores are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for food and supplies. People are hoarding to fill their pantries causing certain products hard to find. If this is how it is now, I can’t imagine how bad it will be as time marches on.

We worry for our children and grandchildren in so many ways. We pray for their health and we pray that they will be able to survive the emotional and economic impact of what comes down the road later. The most difficult thing about this for us is that we cannot be together as a support system for each other. Technology helps with this, but it is not the same thing as being in the first person. Handshakes and hugs will become obsolete in the after math of this pandemic. We will never be able to go back to life as it was. A new life will rise from the ashes of this and no one can predict what that new life will look like. Those who are left will pick up the pieces and continue forward as every other culture has done after a disaster.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and for Christians this is a reminder that death no longer exists. We may die to this earthly life, but thanks be to God, our souls live forever.

The clock in our life here on earth is ticking, right along with our biological clock! I am deeply grateful to my Mother for bringing us up in the Christian faith. I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish and fear of the people who do not believe in salvation. While my earthly being wants to continue my journey on earth, my spiritual side, my soul, knows I have another home waiting for me in a place where earthly troubles do not exist!

Thy will be done Lord! Help me to know snd accept thy will! Comfort my fearful heart with your love and peace as we face what is ahead of us. Help me to conquer the fear that befalls me when I take my eyes off the cross. Thank you for your gift of grace! Amen!

Jjb/April 11, 2020

Rod and Staff

They live in a teeny tiny house on teeny tiny grounds.

They drive a teeny tiny car in their teeny tiny town!

They had teeny tiny savings in their teeny tiny bank.

The world shut down and tiny stocks began to tank!

They were a teeny tiny worried. They felt a teeny tiny fear.

They prayed a great big prayer and hoped God would hear!

God heard their prayer in their teeny tiny voice.

He smiled on their faith, because faith is a choice.

He sent angels to protect them with swords and spears.

God listens to our prayers and He ALWAYS hears!

The teeny tiny man and his teeny tiny wife,

Prayed God would show mercy and spare their life.

God decided to spare them that prayer filled day!

He saw how they lived to love and obey.

God our father is not a teeny tiny God.

He rules over All with his staff and his rod!

Amen!

Jjb/4/8/2020

A drive in the hill country…

We were feeling a bit cooped up, having been in the house for over 2 weeks under the new “shelter in place” encouraged by the local government in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic going on.

So, because of this, Al suggested we go for a ride in the country for a change of scenery, where we would be safe in our car and away from people. I was feeling out of sorts so I agreed. I made a very simple picnic lunch of one sandwich each and two apples along with two bottles of water.

We began driving on out of town, and it wasn’t long before we started seeing countryside. The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush were just beginning to make a showing and we were enjoying the color. We turned off the highway and began our drive along an old country road. The Texas countryside is lovely to see with its wide open spaces dotted with big oak trees and a sporadic spotting of cactus. I had been thinking of heaven a lot lately because of the uneasy feeling of being under threat of sickness and death due to the pandemic. I also had done a lot of reading about where and how this pandemic began over in China with the wet markets that exist there. As I read about it and saw the conditions on t.v., I felt so sad for the animals that were brought there from all over the world and put into cages in those cramped places. This is where the virus jumped from animal to man.

I was thinking of this as I was watching the country side speed by and soon we came to one of our favorite places which is a long fence with an upside down cowboy boot over each fence post.

We stopped and took some pictures and enjoyed the warm sun on our backs….we continued down the road and took a number of pictures of sites that pleased us.

I remember thinking to myself “How beautiful this all is…Nature as God intended it!” Unspoiled and thriving in its natural habitat. As we drove along, Al suddenly stepped on the brakes because there, right in front of us, were a couple of donkeys. Having grown up on a farm, Al got out of the car and walked right up to one of the donkeys to pet him as I held back a little bit. There were a couple of little girls in the company of their Mother and Grandmother who petting one of the donkeys that was standing right in the middle of the road. This, then, gave me courage to get a little closer. I started scratching the donkeys head with a one finger a little bit behind the donkeys ear, just to make sure it was o.k. with him. It definitely seemed to be ok with him, because he leaned into my hand as I scratched, so I continued to pet his head, but this time with my whole hand. I started talking to him and at one point said, “Your owners must be awfully good to you because you are showing no fear whatsoever!” I was happy for this little donkey.

A neighbor came scurrying down the road holding a cell phone saying, “Oh no! I wonder how they got out? I am leaving a message for the owner who lives in Austin.” By now, the donkeys were on their way down the road together and she was walking at a fast clip right behind them. So, we got into our car and once again began to travel along our route. As we rode along, I said to Al, “This is so nourishing for my spirit today. Everything seems so right with the world at this moment in time! It almost feels like a road taking us on our way to the entrance to heaven”..The anxiety I had been feeling for the last couple of days began to fade. Life felt good again. The sun was shining, music was playing on the radio and the countryside was lovely.

As we continued our drive we were enjoying the scenery and we were humming along to some good old fashioned country music. Suddenly, Al hit the brakes again! What? Is it even possible that we are seeing two Ostrich along a fence in the hill country? Al immediately got out of the car and went right over to them! They were beautiful and just like the donkeys had been, were completely comfortable in a humans presence!

So, by now I was really ramping up feeling in a joyfully good mood! I mean, really? We go for a wild flower drive and we end up with two Donkeys and two Ostrich’s as bonus sightings? Oh, yes, God is good! This was just what I needed! Back in the car, we continued on our way through the Texas hill country, my hand drumming on the dash to the beat of an old country song on the radio!

Al soon pulled over and said, “O.K! Time for our lunch”. He began pulling some things out of the trunk, this being two collapsible chairs and our little cooler. We were parked on the side of the road in a little valley where a low water crossing creek ran through from one side of the road to another. As we sat there in our chairs, we watched the cattle graze the grass and wade in the creek water, and we munched on our homemade sandwiches. I told Al that I was feeling almost as if I could hear God whisper, “You see? This was how my creation was intended to be. Man coexisting along with the animals in peace” (At the same time I was also having a flashback of pictures I had seen of the wet markets in Wuhan China as an example of how we should NOT treat animals!!!)

We relaxed there in our chairs, enjoying a light warm breeze with the sun on our skin and the only sounds we heard were birds singing overhead and an occasional motor sound as a random car drove by. It was glorious, and we both felt grateful for this time to sit in the midst of the beauty of this earth! I could have sat there for hours, but it was soon time to pack up our chairs, pick up our coolers, and be on our way. What a gift this day was turning out to be! More animals along the way!

Low water crossings along the way!

We drove through the low water crossings, of which there are many in Texas! Also a beautiful curvy hilly road. A winery along the road! One of many that are springing up in the Texas hill country!

Many more bluebonnet sightings!

Flowers, flowers everywhere, and also our favorite live oak trees!

And what to our wondering eyes did appear? An Armadillo drinking a corona beer! The name of the beer sending a slight shiver down my spine,

A couple of old antiques along the way! Now on our way home!

We hope you enjoyed the tour! This drive is almost in our back yard. We have been here 23 years now and counting since first moving to Texas and we love it more and more every year! We are praying that the Pandemic doesn’t do us harm, but we also know we have been blessed beyond measure in this life, with today being just one example of the many blessings. We love to stop and smell the….bluebonnets along the way! They are on the side of the road that absolutely feels like it is going straight to heaven!

Jjb/4/3/2020

Fear

The picture of two girls is our daughter Andrea on right and her best friend Katie from when we all lived in Sioux Falls South Dakota.

As I write this, I feel so helpless. Andrea is sick for a second stretch, meaning she was well for two days after her first sick stretch of over 10 days and now is experiencing the symptoms again, but this time they are worse! Temp is higher, she has chills and drenching sweat! There is nothing that anyone can do for her as there is no anti viral therapy! During the short time she felt well, she rejoiced at being able to breath again. When she was sick, her voice was tiny because of shortness of breath, and it was tiny because she was scared!

This feels like the wild west, a time before the advent of modern medicine. In those days, if a person got sick, all you could really do was offer comfort and wait it out, praying that the body would eventually fight its way back to wellness again. What is also terrible in this, though, is that we cannot go to her and help her. We want to take care of her, sit by her side, and offer soothing words of comfort! I am so ready to throw caution to the wind and just drive up there. But, I don’t want to add to her concerns!

Since this whole thing has started, I have had images in my mind of times past when we drove down the highway and looked up to see a billboard with the writing “Don’t make me come down there!” (as a supposed message from God). That message would always make me smile because I remember saying that exact same thing to our children when they were growing up!

When the government enacted the lock down, I thought to myself that this also seemed “parental” in giving all of us a “time out”.

As in all time outs, there is much time for reflection of self, family and life! I have done non-stop praying about so many things. Naturally, our child is our number one concern, and I have spent much time in prayer on her behalf! I have prayed for our whole family on many scores, health, job losses, the economy, our retirement funds, and also for us to find strength to face whatever is ahead! I am also praying for the 4 adult children in our family who are now jobless, as they are waiting for this to pass. Not everyone can work remotely from home.

This is a very difficult time and as a country, we have not seen the worst of it yet! I know this is bigger than any of us! if ever there was a message about who is in control over us and our earth, this is it! Only our Creator can help us now.

I do not know how this will all shake out! What I DO know is that as much as I would like to crawl under the covers and hide from all of this, it is not an option! We have no choice but to remember that the whole of this life is really just a blink of an eye in time as compared to eternity.

I pray now for Gods will to be done even as I am praying in earnest for our daughters health. This is one of the hardest times we have EVER faced, and we have faced some hard times, butp a threat upon ones child is the gravest of all concerns. Yet, even as I write this, I know that there are countless others who can say, “I have dealt with much, much worse.” So, I humble myself in face of that and then add to my prayers by asking God to turn my weaknesses into strength….and for Him to please stay by our sides.

The illusion of control comes when times are easy, when life is comfy, and we are happy. Times like this make us realize our life has just been an illusion of control.

I am seeing my daughter now in my minds eye as a baby, a child, an adolescent and an adult. She has brought us SO much joy! She and I are very close and whatever she is feeling, I am feeling. Oh how I wish I could be with her. I am grateful though, that this time around, her husband is there with her. She is not without human comfort and I am relieved about this. God is with her too, and I know that!

Jjb/3/27/2020

 

Uncertain times

This statement, “Here is a test to find out if your mission here is finished. If you are still alive, it isn’t. (Richard Bach) is about how it is!

Really! If we do everything in our power to protect ourselves and it ends up not being enough to save us, our mission is completed and God wanted us back! It is as simple as that!

We have been home for 12 days and I have done endless reading on the subject of the corona virus situation but also on other plagues that the U.S. has suffered in the last 100 years. Al and I also spent time outdoors and went on a road trip where I took some fantastic pictures along the way. I will share them in another post to help you feel less confined in our individual quarantine status.

I slept extremely well last night…thank God for sleep! After a week of phone calls with our daughter who has been home alone and sick with no where to turn, she finally was checked out in an E.R.. We are waiting on the results.Just the fact that she was seen and attended to eased my stress load. I am smart enough to know that even medical people are limited in what they can do for us with this virus, but the part that had me going over the edge, so to speak, was that no one was responding to her cry for help. Once that was attended to, I could relax a little bit.

This virus has created a very isolating situation for all of us. Generally speaking, when someone becomes seriously ill, the first thing loved ones do is come to your aid and tend to you. You may not be able to do much about the crisis your loved one is in, medically speaking, but never underestimate the power of loving care. Statistics show that when a person is ill, they often will rally somewhat under the care of someone who loves them. They rest better, sleep better, eat better, drink better, …the list goes on. Our souls and spirits react to being loved. It is a powerful force.

In this case, with our daughter, she had no one but her little french bulldog who she loved having by her side. One night she called in distress and said, “I am worried about Nugget…What if I die during the night? What will happen to Nugget?” I assured her she wasn’t going to die, (faith and prayers here) but she was becoming very fearful because she could not find a way to be reassured by anyone in the first person. To ease her loneliness, she was on the phone with many people..her husband, her parents, her siblings, her aunt, and friends. She was doing everything in her power to stay connected because as the days passed and her symptoms would go from bad to better to bad again, her greatest enemy was fear which resulted from her being alone.

On this end, our stress level accelerated daily in concern for her. Here we were in isolation ourselves, and we could not go up to help her. I told my husband that I was ready to throw caution to the wind and just make that 3 1/2 hour drive to tend to her, but that I knew if I caught the virus and died, she would feel responsible and I did not want that for her either.

I am high risk because of my age group and because of my allergies coupled with my family history of asthma. I asked my doctor if I am someone considered to be compromised with underlying conditions. She said “yes”. My history is such that often if I get the flu it always wants to settle in my chest. Obviously, with this virus’s main target being the lungs, I am most likely not to make it if I get it.

Hence for the last almost 2 weeks I have had much time to read and think about this. I know I am o.k. with the idea of God taking me home. I have no fear of death. It is more that I just want a little bit more time with my family. I want to feel their embrace once again. I want to be able to sit close enough to them to study their faces as we talk and laugh once again. But, I know that may not be the case, and therefore as my heart sinks when thinking of these things, I also throw up thanks snd gratitude for what I DO still have which is my husband being right here, right now! This crazy invader has me making amends with my maker for anything I have said or done that He would not approve of. I am bargaining with Him to please spare my children and allow them to come through this unscathed. I am praying for society, our economy, and the homeless who have NO protection.

Our life has been so blessed in so many ways. We have always had a relationship with God, but have to say, even when we thought we were on good terms with Him, I see now how much we came to take for granted. Our health, our home, our family, our freedom to go out wherever and whenever we wanted. We came to be complacent in expecting, yes “expecting”, modern medicine to fix most everything and if it could not be fixed, then buy us time. The truth is, we have always lived under threat if death. We just haven’t been aware of it. We only have this moment in time. Maybe more!

Time is different now. I asked my husband what day it was and he said “What does it matter?” I laughed when he said that because he is so right. We are living a life suspended in time. It is an interesting concept to live this way for there are no demands on our time right now as retired folks who have no place to go.

Well, I will now sign off. I feel so much better now that our daughter has had her test and we await the results. I talked with her husband last night and I felt such an enormous surge of love for him for calling me and saying “I am on my way home and don’t worry, I will take care of her.” He plans to stay in a hotel until her test comes back. I am deeply grateful to him!

What is going to happen? It is anyones guess. All we can do is sit tight snd pray. When times are fun and light and beautiful we tend to take everything for granted…even God. But these days, when it comes to believers, I think HE has our full attention and is making note of the attendance to his class.

March 23, 2020/jjb

Life, the next chapter!

It was as I suspected……I left because I knew.

At first I thought I mattered, which happens to NOT be true.

I spent my time writing words, from my heart, my soul and mind.

I felt like I was contributing to the goodness of mankind.

I offered my pearls of wisdom, shared what was on my heart.

I posted pictures of the life we live, the big and little parts.

But then one day I realized, I was spending too much time,

Writing words in stories and words in poems that rhymed.

I was hanging out with people who were social media friends.

It was fun to be in a dialog that never seemed to end.

One day, I rose from my chair. I put on my socks and shoes.

I went outside to take a walk. The sky was sunny and blue.

Oh how the air refreshed my lungs and the scenery was lovely to see.

I came upon a neighbor (who miraculously remembered me!)

We had a lovely little chat about changes that had occurred,

(while I was busy in cyber space where reality is often blurred).

I thought I’d be missed when I left, but it seems this isn’t so.

I heard from a few of my facebook friends who asked “where did you go?”

A very small group reached out to say “YOU have been duly missed!”

But truth be told, it was just a FEW who reached out from my fb list.

Social networks are addictive, we are hooked in no time flat.

We sit at our screens for time on end posting this and that.

So now I go for long, long walks, and read from my stacks of books.

I have reengaged in the real world and its been worth a second look.

It is fun to invest my newfound time in our home and grounds outside.

This is a our much loved private space where we feel a sense of pride.

I am happy now with much more time, and lots of ways to spend it.

I am spending more time in my garden and I am delighted I get to tend it!

 

Jjb/1/28/2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting go

Long ago when we were young and newly married and having children, we were in the building stage of our life. We got married so one plus one equals two. We had children, add three more. We bought a house, another addition.

We both worked before we had children until I chose to quit my job and become a stay at home mother because it was necessary to have someone raise the children and manage their transportation to school and friends homes and Dr. appointments.

The early years were fun, fairly busy and exhausting. There was always something that needed attention, and I was the one that had to attend to it. As the children grew up they became more independent as they navigated around in their own orbits in their own world. When they left home they left an empty spot in my life which was very difficult to fill.

In this day and age, more often than not, both partners within a couple work out of necessity. This is true even if they have children which creates its own set of challenges, but at least when their children do grow up and leave home, there is something left for the Mother to focus on by way of her career. This was not the case for me. My children remained my focus and so my challenge was to find balance in those relationships.

As the years went by, and after they began the building of their own lives they became progressively more busy, while we found a lot of time to fill. We went out and got a hobby in the guise of a part time job we each enjoyed. It helped fill the hours. We did a lot of traveling which also helped fill the time. We volunteered at church which allowed us to get to know more people.

Growing old is a major change in ones life. In our younger years, the change transforms us from feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with years of preparation for retirement, hoping we will have enough to get us by when the time comes, to a time when we are trying to figure out how to fill all the excess time.

On top of this, we begin our reductions. In the beginning of our life we are busy building and adding, but now it takes on the form of dismantling as we unconsciously get ready for the next stage of life. All the things we purchased in the building stages of life we begin to eliminate. Out they go as we remember how much we paid for them and we wince as we realize they are no longer needed. We should have known since we saw the process all before with our own parents. But, we never really relate to the generation before us because we are too engrossed in our own busy, youthful lives.

I now see that this is part of Gods perfect plan for those of us who continue to age and move towards old age. It is all part of His perfect design in preparing us to let go of this life. Bit by bit the things that made us feel important and needed are lost to us…our jobs, our children, our health. Granted, there is building and some additions continuing as our children take on partners and have children, but we are no longer central to any of it. We move on from being the sun around which the planets (our children) orbited, and now we exchange places with them. Now it is we who are the planets that orbit around them.

There are a lot of blessings that come with aging, but mostly, I have found it to be a grad course on letting go of all the things that we thought would make us happy in this earthly life. We have to release all of which we gathered and it is rather jolting in the beginning. It is especially shocking when you realize your children are not interested in things you have held dear. We want to hang on to the familiar. In the end, we, just like all those who have gone on before us, are forced to loosen our grip and let all things fall away.

Sometimes I wish there were a waiting room between this world and the next where when we die, we could see our parents and be able to say to them, “Oh my goodness, Mom and Dad, I had no idea what you were dealing with at the time, but NOW I understand! Forgive us please for not knowing how difficult it all was.”

Thankfully, we know that this life is not all there is. There is another, even more beautiful life waiting for us and while we accept that this is so, we still cling to all that is familiar. We do not relinquish the remnants of our life easily, so we find that we have to trust in what God has promised is in store for us. We have to hand over the reins to God and when we do, we feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that responsibility.

There is often a fear of letting go because so much of our identity has been caught up with our being in the drivers seat. Our life has been a repository of all the decisions and choices we have made and we have had to live by them. Letting go is one of the most difficult things we will ever have to do, but once done, a peace takes over in knowing that the responsibilities of this life no longer are on us. We start over in the next life with the innocence of a child living in Gods kingdom with all the wonder and excitement a child feels. Letting go does have its rewards.

Jjb/12/8/2019

Oh! Oh!

My apologies to readers of my Word Press site, known as “Thoughts Expressed from My Retirement Nest”. This morning I got into a bit of a snag when reformatting my story. Me and tech settings are hardly compatible to say the least! I think I somehow got this post sent prematurely and incorrectly and repeatedly!

I find myself in a learning curve and I politely ask for your patience! I love learning new things but sometimes there is a bump in the road just ahead of the learning curve. That said, I love this format for my writings! I hope you do too!

Jjb/11/06/2019

Peppermint Patty!

A while back, I was volunteering at the front desk of a local health care center. One morning, as I was greeting people who were arriving to visit a loved one, I had a fun experience with one of the visitors.

That morning, I saw a very well dressed older woman walk through the front door to visit her husband. She was short and plump with very thin hair. I had seen her before on other visits and had come to see, as the weeks passed, how much she seems to enjoy wearing makeup and perfume. It was also apparent that she put a lot of time and effort in getting herself ready for the day.  She was always immaculately dressed in a flashy, colorful ensemble of one style or another. The style always varied, but the bright colors were ever present.

She must have some form of arthritis because as she pushes through the front door, she walks in an awkward staccato fashion, her heels creating a loud clacking sound with each short, jerky step. Heads turn as she approaches the guest register where she signs in.

One day, she arrived wearing a large hot pink brimmed straw hat which boasted a prominent silk peony tucked into the wide pink polkadot band above the brim. She also wore a long flowing multicolored blouse with Capri pants, all in a matching shade of Peppermint Patty pink.  She was wearing large earrings, a matching necklace, and an infinite amount of thin bracelets stacked high up her arm starting at her wrist. On her feet were cute little pink shoes with a large pink flower sitting on top of each one.

I was blinded by the light….a bright pink light, I might add. She and I had a very sweet conversation where I eventually complimented her on her ensemble, to which she responded,

“Well, thank you Sweetie! You make me happy that I went to all this trouble this morning!” I chuckled and said “Me too!”

One of the most fun parts of life, for me, is seeing the variety of humans God has created.  No wonder we call Him “The Great Creator” because CREATIVE He was when it came to the human race.

Out of dust He created all kinds of people….tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, chubby ones, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, light skin, dark skin, smooth skin, wrinkled skin, big butts, little butts, long legs, short legs, (you get the picture!) 

As “Patty” (the name I nicknamed her in my mind that day in honor of her pink outfit) went down the hall, she left me with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Why? Well, I just saw a person who was wholly and uniquely herself. She wasn’t following another persons idea of how she “could be”, nor another person’s opinion for how they think she “should” LOOK or be.

In a world where so many people seem to buy into the idea that we should all look the same, weigh the same, live the same and think the same….I was blessed to see someone who walked in as the “real deal”. She was proud to be the person that God created in the first place, albeit “gussied up”.  No plastic surgery for this woman. Of course she was trying to “improve on creation” a little bit with her clothing and makeup, but over all, she seemed content with the package she was born with.

When I told her how much I looked forward to seeing how she was dressed each time she visited, she beamed at the compliment (which, no doubt, reinforced her determination to bless the world with her personally chosen custom packaging), she leaned into me and said…

“Well, honey…The way I see things is this way….the effort I put into my appearance is MY little gift to the world”.

I let out an uproarious and appreciative laugh on that one and she laughed with me. Honestly, she made my day with that statement because she was being completely sincere when she said it. This was, indeed, exactly her motivation in how she saw herself….as a gift! In the south, isn’t this where one says “Bless her heart!” Maybe we would ALL do better to take on the philosophy of presenting our best version of ourselves out in the world.

      Anyway, it was more pleasure to rest my eyes on her than on someone who has bought what the industry has decided is the “perfect” package.  Moral of the story?

BE YOURSELF because NO ONE is better at being YOU than YOU!  

    Besides, I just love Peppermint Patty, don’t you?

Jjb/11/6/2019

From now on..

I have been in a funk lately and I think I know why. Even though we cut cable, news shows, and finally facebook, negativity still seemed to seep into our life. Our “Next Door Neighbor network” on email may need to be the next thing to go. What is it about public forums that are communicated from our homes on a keyboard that creates a platform for some people to spread the seeds of fear, discontent, and mean spiritedness.

Now, I realize these people are in the minority since a lot of the posts are simply helpful posts suggesting good Dr’s, service people, nice walking spots etc. However, though the negative people are in the minority, they can still swing a mighty sword cutting through our happiness. Just last night I was reading a forum that got downright nasty between several people discussing a local topic. I could feel myself tensing up as I read the exchange. I have put that site on mute for now.

So, this morning, after my coffee, I went for a walk in our neighborhood and the psychic transformation was a miracle in the making. Instead of having my thoughts directed at all the things that could go wrong in our future, here I was, strolling along while looking at all that is good right here, right now! My body was moving with ease though it has been pretty sedentary as of late. I almost felt like the tin man on the “Wizard of Oz” when I first started to walk a fast clip, thinking a little oil on this joint or that would be a good thing. As I walked along, I could feel my spirit take flight and my joints loosen up.

It is a perfect fall day. The air is cool and crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning color, the neighborhoods are quiet with kids back in school and people back at work. Mr. Rogers, it certainly IS a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We have a lot of gentle rolling hills in our area, so when I arrived back home, my face was glazed with perspiration! GOOD! This is what my body needs right now and for the unforeseeable future. What does that commercial say? “A body in motion stays in motion”. I would say that is exactly right!

So, it is still morning and the sunshine with its warm rays is beckoning to me. Mr. is painting the front door and Mrs. needs to go out and tidy up our porch. There is nowhere I communicate with my maker better or more fully than right in His own creation.

Blessings to all!

Jjb/11/4/2019

God

I’m living my life like I used to do.

I woke up refreshed, said a prayer to YOU!

I smiled to myself as I got out of bed.

The whole day was waiting with promise ahead.

We live in an age where busy’s the word.

Our schedules are full, our priorities blurred.

We fill every moment of each hour, each day,

Watching and listening to what the world has to say.

Its been good to reacquaint with my quieter side.

Its uplifting to commune with my spiritual guide.

I focus on whats kind and honest and true.

I take time out each day to spend it with You!

Its a blessing how calm and serene I now feel.

I know its because God my Father is real!

So, now Heavenly Father, I would like to say,

How grateful we are to awaken each day.

My dear sweet husband and his devoted wife.

Feel blessed to have reached this stage of our life.

Our love has deepened, our commitment has too.

We love our morning communing with you.

Thanks to our parents who taught us to pray.

They encouraged us to love you and follow your ways…

We did and we do and we will all our days,

Say prayers of thanksgiving and sing to you praise!

Jjb/10/18/2019

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