Thursday, May 31, 2012

Does anyone make a difference?

Dear God,
If I die tomorrow
Or a thousand tomorrows from now,
Will it matter?
Will I be changed
Or have changed the world?
Will another moment from eternity of existence
Cause the moon to fall,
The oceans to weep,
The trees to walk?
But if an extra heartbeat brings one smile to a teary eye,
If all my heartbeats can make another soul sing,
Another life less dull,
Then my entire being has purpose.
And eternity becomes an instant of joy.
(by Pat Loehmer)

If I looked back through all the letters my sister Pat wrote me over the years, I would probably find the date when she wrote this. But I am pretty sure that it was well before she was diagnosed with cancer, well before she realized that her days were numbered, that mortality would come knocking way too soon.

Last night I finished yet another draft of my memoir of my mission trip to Kenya. Much of that trip was spent wondering if I made a difference, if any of those people who I tried to help actually had been helped in any way by my presence for that very short period of time. It took me several years to realize why I had gone to Africa; I should have read this poem then and it would have come clear. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A cemetery visit

 Since it was Memorial Day this past weekend, on Friday, I helped Mom sort through a pile of silk flowers she had recently purchased. These two for Grandma and Grandpa, those two for Aunt Helen and Uncle Bob. My brother had already promised he would take her to the cemetery here in town the next day. Which left me to place the one bunch of flowers out at Woodlawn Cemetery fifteen or so miles down the road. That’s where the grave of my sister and best friend is.

I know that I have mentioned it before, but Pat passed from this life June 18, 1999, after a long battle with cancer. She has always inspired every word I write, every breath I take. Not a day goes by, barely a minute each day that I don’t think of her, remember her and ask myself “what would Pat do?”

I write for a lot of different reasons, mostly, I suppose because these stories inside of me are burning to get out. But the one story which I hold most dear, which I will not write until it is time, would be Pat’s story. You gotta keep patiently following me and some day you will have the privilege to read Pat’s story and know her like I do. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ah, youth

Scanned photo - pretty obvious, huh?
Digital is a lot better.

For years, high school graduation has occurred on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend in my small home town. Hard to believe that my son graduated eight years ago already. And for my baby girl, it has been four years. Where did the time go? How did they get all grown up already? Ah, but they are still so young. 

Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young. 1 Timothy 4:12a Good News Translation

I didn’t attend the graduation ceremony yesterday. Because we can never count on the weather, the ceremony is always held indoors, in the field house. With so many people crammed inside, no matter what it is like outside, after an hour or so, it is hot and stifling in there. They told me that it wasn’t too bad though yesterday.

The daughter of a friend of mine was one of the valedictorians and gave one of the speeches.  I talked to her momma last night. Her daughter stood up for what she believed in and in front of the packed field house, gave glory to her heavenly Father, thanking Him for allowing her to be there that day. Did I mention this is a public high school? 

It is Memorial Day weekend. I kind of think it should be God and country, instead of one or the other.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Most misunderstood cat

 Friday evening, when my kinship kid was over, I had some planting to finish up in the garden. I turned her loose with my camera. She went on a photo-shoot with Fred. Thank goodness for the digital era.

 Fred must be the world's most misunderstood cat. Sometimes he's friendly, other times he's a snob. And sometimes he's outright mean. I never know what is in his head.

We think that is because his mom abandoned him and his two siblings. The kittens were raised by the father of one of my daughter's friends. This man has the physique of my husband, which is probably why Fred would only snuggle up to my husband for a long time.
 I never know anymore who (or what) Fred might snuggle up to. When my daughter still lived at home, Fred would go in her room and drag her clothes around the house. Now he just tends to twist the rugs into a bunch.
But what can we do? He's our cat for life.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Do you need a new paint job?

 I had the little red wagon out last week to help me with some gardening. It sure looks like it has seen better days.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version

One Sunday morning in the fall of 2003, I heard our town’s fire whistle blare while I was sitting in church. I said a prayer, as I always do when I hear sirens or see emergency vehicles with lights flashing, for the people involved. After church, I taught my Sunday school class and then went home without any further thought of the fire alarm.

When I pulled in the yard, my son Nick met me at the car. I was oblivious, as usual, when I got out of the car, and said, “what?” to him. He took my face in his hands and turned my head in the other direction. There, behind our garage, was what was left of an old storage shed that had been on our property since way before we bought it. The previous owner had left behind lots of junk in that shed. Over the years we had cleaned most of it out, replacing it with our own junk.

And now, whoever’s junk it was had been burned up in a fire. Luckily Nick had been home and seen the flames. He threw one bucket of water on the shed, I think, before he realized it was a hopeless cause and that he needed to call for help.

Most of the contents of the shed were destroyed or not salvageable. The little red wagon, though it still has some issues, doesn’t look too bad with a new coat of paint. I fill it with my gardening things as I plant my plants around the yard. The push lawnmower however did not fair so well. It still works, but no one ever got around to giving it a paint job. And the handles which melted in the heat of the fire? The duct tape we wrapped around them didn’t really do the trick.

 Like the red wagon and the lawn mower, we go through our share of disasters too. Lucky for us, whether we are the wagon or the mower, whether we come through our catastrophes requiring only a paint job or much more, God will be there for us. He doesn’t care what we look like on the outside, he sees who we are on the inside. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's your "ah"?

“Have you noticed how the pebbles of the road are polished and pure after the rain? And the flowers? No word can describe them. One can only murmur an ‘ah’ of admiration . . . One should understand the ‘ah’ of things.” A master of Zen Buddhism

My freshly-planted flowers sure have their “ah” now. Give it a couple months for my brown thumb to turn them into “blah”.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dino approaching middle-age

Dino was at the vet's last week for his yearly checkup. His doctor told him that he has put on some weight, but since he is approaching middle-age (he's only five!), we should expect him to put on a few pounds a year. Funny, my doctor doesn't tell me that! And even though I am 50, my doctor better not tell me that I am middle-age.

Since he's getting so old, perhaps we should get Dino a chair of his own on the deck. Oh, that's right, he already thinks that everything is his.

He obviously also thinks he is too good to check out the new fire-pit that Daddy put in today. 

Being as he is so old now, do you supposed he is checking out the flowers, trying to tell me which ones he wants at his funeral?

All I know is that this pup better live a long, long time. I don't know how I could get through a day without his goofy mug in my face. Me and my husband are blessed to have him as part of our family.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gather up your flowers

 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 
Matthew 18:20 New International Version

Friday afternoon, my husband and I went to the greenhouse and bought the usual tomato plants and pansies. I thought this gerbera daisy was too pretty to pass up, even though I didn’t know where I would put him.

Then yesterday, we were at Home Depot and they had a whole bunch of gerbera daisies that looked so good together. The picture does not do it justice, because I was hurrying, fearing that store security would catch me and tell me that I couldn’t take pictures.

So, I had to buy some more of these cute little flowers.

Sometimes, as a Christian, I think I can do it alone, I don’t need to go to church, be with all those people. I read my Bible, I write an inspirational blog for Pete’s sake! I try to be kind to others, keep the commandments, etc., so sometimes I think that I don’t know the company of other Christians.

Just like these flowers, though, we need to stay connected with other believers. And not only for looks; we need the strength, knowledge and support that they can give us.

Wish my little gerberas luck!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Use your imagination

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More pets that didn't work out

Sometimes things just don't work out the way I planned. Or, actually, what happens is that I am too lazy.

I had other pets that I wanted to tell you about, but it appears I don't have any of their pictures scanned into the computer. So instead of dragging out the old photo albums, you get what I have on file already. These little critters.
A very long time ago, I worked with a woman who had hermit crabs. She always had stories to tell about them and she even brought them to work once. They were so cool and I decided I had to get some one day.

It didn't take too much, back in 2008, to twist Val's arm into begging her step-dad into letting us get some. We had bought the painted shells at Virginia Beach that spring, so we only had to bide our time until the time was right.

I can't even remember their names. One was Wilma and the other must have been Betty. Needless to say, they didn't live long. The temperature and humidity in our house must not have been right for them. It was pretty gruesome though when they half-crawled out of the little shells and shriveled up and died. Yikes. I felt bad about that, bad enough that we never tried that again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How are you? I'm just Ducky.

Today we salute all of the ducks in our lives. 

Sometimes, you just gotta have fun.

First you gotta get your ducks in a row.  
Then you hope you are not a sitting duck.  

If you have to be a lame duck, make sure you are remembered in a positive light. 

 But you really want to avoid being a dead duck

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Muffins leaves home

I have always believed that when our animals come into our lives, that they are there for life. In the weekly ad for the local humane society, often times it will say that this cat or dog was surrendered because the owners were moving and couldn’t take the pet with them or that they could no longer afford to keep them. I always wonder how anyone could do that, yet that is what I did to my kids’ dog.

Muffins was a mutt, but her predominant breed was certainly German Shepard, which made her very protective of her people. When my first husband moved out when she was not quite two years old, she felt it was her responsibility to keep me and my two kids safe. When Muffins was outside, strangers wouldn’t get out of their vehicles in our yard. She would not only bark and growl at them, she would bark threateningly at anyone walking down the road.
If the kids were out playing in the yard, Muffins stayed close to them. But if she went out alone and wasn’t securely tied to something, off she would run. With his 80-year-old mother in the passenger seat, the town constable pulled his ancient pickup into my driveway a few times and threatened to fine me if the neighbors complained again. Lucky for me George never wrote me a ticket. Not so lucky for Muffins though.

One Saturday in June 1995, I drove her to the humane society and left her there. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, right or wrong, that was the hardest. I have no justification for what I did. I was a single mom, raising two kids and I didn’t need to deal with a dog that I couldn’t handle.

When I get really stressed out, I go cross-eyed (a big secret of mine). On the way home that day, with dog hair in the car and a squeak toy still on the floor, I could barely drive my eyes were so crossed.

I've wondered many times what happened to my dog. I pray she found a good home on a farm somewhere where she could run and run and come home at the end of the day to a houseful of kids she could be devoted to.