Tag Archives: inspiration

Tell Me More

I wrote this piece several days ago. Most of this lament came out in one sitting as it appears here. The formal tone in this seemed fitting for the mood that I was in, even though I had a very warm and loving relationship with both my mum and dad. I had found out that my dear aunt will be celebrating her 90th birthday(!). I was in a reflective mood, thinking about mothers, mine in particular, and age and the thought that I would love to talk to her again. If I could place a phone call to Heaven, what would I tell her? What would she tell me? We get so caught up in the stories of our lives that we forget that the older generation that raised us has their own stories to tell. We think we know our parents, until they are gone and we can’t ask them questions any more. I thought I had listened to my mother’s stories, but I realized, as I was going through her possessions after she died, that I didn’t know much about many of them. Who gave her the hand-made metal ring with the X’s and O’s on it? Which of her older brothers gave her the bracelet from France during WWII? Why did she keep that particular ribbon that I found in her hope chest? I can no longer ask her, but how I wish she could tell me more.

Dear Mother, tell me more about your mud pies, your broken arm, your quarantine for measles in those Depression days. Tell me more about where you were raised, and your mother and coal miner father. About those irascible brothers of yours, my uncles who loved you and have been loved by me: The one who raised you, the one who teased you, the one who caught hell from your father for not protecting you. The one who left to go to war. The others who followed.

Tell me more about moving when the mine went dark. About leaving your best friend behind, finding new ones in your new school, and how you found the love of your life on the roller rink. Tell me more about these rings that I cherish, that I remember resting gracefully on your hand even after he passed into the arms of Jesus.

Tell me more about your life as a young newlywed couple, the lack of money, the abundance of love. About my brother, about me. Tell me how you rejoiced at his birth and cried because of me. Help me remember your nurturing hands and loving arms, your pride in all we did. Tell me. How did you feel? I want to know more.

Tell me about my wedding. Tell me about your happy tears as I walked down the aisle on the arm of your man and into the arms of mine. Tell me about the sad tears that fell as we moved across the country, away from you. Tell me how one survives the cleaving. As a parent, I need to know.

We kept you waiting, so tell me about your elation to hear of your new grandchild. Tell me. Tell me once again how happy you were to hear. I could see it. You love was visible, but I want you to tell me more. Tell me about that love that is so much more than a parent knows. Tell me about being a grandparent. I’m not sure that I will become one, so I need you to tell me more. Just in case.

Tell me about your last trip with him to where the country began, searching for family history, for roots. What did you find there? Tell me more about your thrill of discovery. A new ancestor. A new connection from long ago. Now that you know who we were, who are we now? I can only pick up the thread you left and hope that it leads me down the same path. We are family, but you are no more. Am I still a daughter without you? Tell me.

I desperately want you to tell me more. But you cannot; you are not here. You are my past, but such an ever-present notion in my head reminding me of the future you wanted for me. Telling me that there are more days to come. That I have more to live. You are no longer here, but you still exist in love, in my heart, in who I am. Even so, how I wish you could tell me more.  I would listen closer.

And remember it all.

Because I still have a lot of things I want to know.

How I wish I had asked you more.

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The Caller’s New Name

One of the fun things that I do is edit the monthly newsletter for our church. I started in January of 2006, so I’ve been at it for 99 months, but really it only seems like 3 months, plus 8 years. The newsletter is called The Caller. It wasn’t my choice. It’s been The Caller for over 20 years, through at least two other editors. As a title, it’s kind of old fashioned, with that “sittin’ on the porch swing with your best gal” feel to it.

We could probably update it to something more in tune with today’s world, like The InstaChrist or Jesusgram or iCall. My favorite is GraceBook. Something with a more technological feel would give people the impression that we’re a groovy and happening church, or should that be a tight and rad church? Because we are a tight and rad church.

We have a cool outreach to over 150 children on Wednesday nights. If we include the adults that volunteer their time to help, that number reaches 300. We have rad programs that reach out to the LGBT community within and without our building, programs that are committed to helping feed and clothe adults and children in our community and programs that reach out into the world through mission trips. We have an on-line presence with a website and FaceBook page. Our choir is growing again with a new choir director. Our one-on-one caring ministry is touching more and more people in need. A few years ago, our congregation decided that it was time for our building to be more attuned to our current ministries, so we’re completing a remodeling project that turned around our 50 year old sanctuary a full 180 degrees. It’s turned us on our ears, as we re-examined our ministries, stream-lining some, expanding others, adding new ones that count. Even cynics would have to agree that what we’ve done and are doing is tighter than skinny jeans on a hipster.

Our church is “tight and rad.” Translate that to “active and growing.” We are fulfilling our Christian commitment to reach out and care for those beyond our building’s walls. Growth is good, and yet the newsletter is stuck with an old-fashioned name. The Caller. As if we’re going to go knocking on doors and invite you to church. Who does that anymore? It’s not like we can go a-callin’ on the neighbors at any time of day. As a society, we’re not that way now. Who has time to sit and chat? We’ve all got phones that go with us every place we go. Why visit in person when a text will do? So, I’m proposing that an appropriate name for The Caller that would be in keeping with the current times and mission of the church would be … The Caller.

That’s right. No change. It may seem like an old-fashioned name for a church newsletter at first, like we’re not keeping up with the trends of the modern, secular society, but really, it is the universal message for all Christians to call people to Christ. That has never changed. We are called again and again to reach out. In response, we, the called, are reaching out to those who are in need of Christ and Christ’s care through us. We are calling them to us. We are The Caller.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be the editor of The Caller. I will continue until God calls me elsewhere or calls someone else to do it, just like He called me. What I do know is that during my turn as editor, I will always champion the name, The Caller. It’s a little awkward, a little old-fashioned, but it also says everything about who our church is as Christians. We are The Caller. And people are answering.

 

 

Feel free to comment or like this page.

XOXOX

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Betty Boop is winking and throwing hugs and kisses from my socks. When I wore my Betty Boop Christmas socks, I wrote about how Betty Boop and Christmas just don’t seem to go together. However, it’s Valentine’s Day, and Betty is such a flirt. Who can imagine Heart Day without the iconic Miss Betty? She and Heart Day just go together. Like peanut butter and jelly. Soup and sandwich. Cookies and Girl Scouts. Hugs and kisses. X’s and O’s. Some things are meant for each other. Unlike Betty and Christmas, Betty and Valentine’s Day are a perfect match. This holiday brings up a lot of emotions in people. To some, it’s fulfilling, a chance to express to the one they love just how special they are. To others, it’s a reminder of what they don’t have. Cards, roses, stuffed animals, and chocolates in the stores and on TV are all constant visual assaults. And there’s another group of people, too, who are affected by this particular holiday. These are the people with their hearts on their sleeves, those brave souls who choose to declare themselves up to a new love and risk rejection or gain elation. Whether you have a love, are looking for love or have given up on love, I say adopt Betty Boop’s attitude. Flirt a little. Throw a kiss or two. Take a chance. Go a little big. Even if love doesn’t find you this year, hug someone else. You never know who might need a hug more than you do. Wine and cheese. Love and passion. Candy hearts and “Be Mine.” Betty Boop-Oop-a-Doop and pink lips on my left sock. Pink lips and Betty Boop-Oop-a-Doop on my right sock. Some things just go together. XOXOX

Thick Or Thin

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Sometimes, you just have to take one look at a pair of Valentine’s Day socks and say, “What the heck is up with these socks?” and put them on anyway. Love is one of those things that we often wonder about too. It’s crazy. It’s complicated. When it’s right, it’s sane and simple. My husband and I dated for six months, got married and moved 1000 miles away from family. Crazy, right? Yet, here we are, 35 years later, still together and still crazy in love.

How did we do it? It’s simple: I don’t know. Any sane man would have dumped me years ago. I’ve put him through enough that he could have walked out on me at any time. I’ve often wondered why he didn’t in our earlier days. But for my complicated man, it was simple. He loves me.

Through thick and thin, he has always been there with his silent support. He doesn’t coddle me with words. I’ve had to train him to say “I love you” freely, but he’s more likely to show me his love through his actions. The unexpected touch, the dozen yellow roses that he gives me each year on our anniversary, the unloaded dishwasher. It makes sense.

These crazy socks, however, seem to make no sense at all, but behind the black and silver hearts, behind the big black heart with the arrow through it, behind the checkerboard that has no reason to be there – behind the display – lies the red foundation that pulls the design together.

Deep love doesn’t scream hearts and arrows. It’s a quieter feeling that says, because of the solid foundation that supports it, love can be freely given and freely taken. No matter what socks and love look like from the outside, both are there, through thick or thin, to make us feel warm and protected when we need it the most. Valentine socks can be crazy. Love doesn’t need to be.

 

This post, while not funny, was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge: My Funny Valentine? http://wordpress.com/read/post/id/489937/68832/

Valentine Sock Season!

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It’s Valentine’s week. Some people love it; some don’t, but I think we can all agree that it’s the best time of the year to wear Valentine’s socks. After all, doesn’t everyone? I was amazed at Christmas (was I really?) to discover that not everyone wears special holiday designation socks, but I can assure you that even though I own 58 pairs of Christmas socks, I am by no means a sock nut. Consider, please, that I have only a modest amount of non-Christmas socks. Six pairs for Valentine’s Day, two each for St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, and one pair for New Year’s Eve. Someone obsessed with holiday socks would not be thinking about weeding out the stockpile, now would they? Some of my Christmas socks have seen better days. Some, due to poor construction, are too tight (It has nothing to do with my cankles, honest.) And let’s face it. If I don’t weed out some of the oldies but goodies, I won’t have room for more, now will I? So after a month and a half of boring socks, I’ve eased into the Valentine Sock Season, which is much shorter than the Christmas Sock Season, with a pair of black socks with an argyle diamond stripe and pink hearts. Plain on the bottom, colorful on top and hidden under my pant leg. As I’ve learned in 35 years with my husband, love is like that, especially the longer it goes on. We get used to our partner. Being together in our everyday routine becomes boring, expected, but under the surface, where no one else is looking, the colors of the heart are always there. Happy Valentine’s Sock Season.

Two Coopers In One Day

Cooper's hawk in my back yard Copyright (c) B. E. Nelson 2014

Cooper’s hawk in my back yard
Copyright (c) B. E. Nelson 2014

Oh, the visitors I have had lately! The first was a sweet Golden Retriever that had slipped his leash. As we opened the garage door for my daughter to go to work, this pretty boy trotted right in as if he belonged here. He nuzzled and licked – very friendly, this guy. His owner arrived in short measure with his leash as I was fending off his doggie-in-overdrive affections. Apparently, he had been unhappy that another dog had entered his domain, so he ran away from home.

His name was Cooper. If I ever have another dog, I think Cooper would make a great name. We had our Daisy, a Border Collie/Lab mix, for 17 years. She was another real sweetheart, just like Cooper seemed to be. Seeing Cooper made me miss my Daisy. It was a little sad when he left with his owner. It had been awhile since I was last smooched by a dog. Then I caught a whiff of my hands from petting him. Damp dog smell. I really hadn’t missed that. A good hand washing was in order, but it was worth it. He had put a smile on my face.

Later in the afternoon, our second visitor caused quite a commotion outside. I heard some banging out in the side yard, so I made a dash to the window in time to see a small hawk, with something dangling from its talons, fly into the low branches of our pine tree. While I didn’t see the capture, it had been savage enough to jolt me out of my chair.

After ensuring that its prey was dead with a few well-placed pecks, the hawk dropped to the ground and proceeded to, as hawk do, tear it apart and eat it. It sat in the yard and ate for thirty minutes, and I admit, I was fascinated by this feathered predator.

Only our small deck separates the pine from the house, a distance of about 15 – 20 feet, so I could see the bird pretty well. I could not – thankfully – make out the small animal that it held clutched in its talons because I’m pretty sure I would have gagged. I believe now that it was a Cooper’s hawk. I also believe that its prey, probably a small bird, was surprised to be on the lunch menu.

So, of course, I had to document. I grabbed my camera and took some photos using the telephoto lens through the screen on the window. Some of the shots weren’t very good, since a hawk has no interest in saying ‘cheese’ when it has a juicy morsel in its mouth. The choice of dairy or protein is not a hard one for a hawk.

Despite the gruesome nature of what brought it to my yard, the bird lover in me enjoyed watching it.

Finally, I opened the back door and took the clear photo that you see here. My little point and shoot did such a good job that I thought a few more pictures couldn’t hurt, right? When I opened the back door the second time, the hawk decided not to stick around for dessert and flew off into a nearby tree in a huff, having been sated with its main course.

With the hawk gone (off looking to expand the lunch menu, I assume), we will have a mess to clean up in the back yard. The new snow has covered up the remains for now. I’m hoping that we don’t get any more unexpected visitors, but I enjoyed the two we had. I’d have enjoyed the hawk more if it had bussed its own table.

The sweet Cooper and the savage Cooper’s. Both beautiful in their own ways.

That Sinking Feeling

I was sitting at a drive-through window yesterday when I got that sinking feeling. No, I wasn’t debating the merits of fast food on my waistline, nor was I kvetching about spending the money on fast food when it could have gone into my European vacation fund (if I had one). I wasn’t saddened by my choices. Nor was I aware of any upcoming doom that might have been averted by forewarning. My heart and my head were unaffected by this sinking feeling.  Instead, it was my right foot that gave way beneath me. Only my right foot.

Odd, I thought. I cautiously raised my foot part way and put it back down. Again, my foot sank. By now, I hope you’ve figured out where my right foot was and possibly what was being affected. I’ll give you a hint. Consider that I was in a drive-through. In my car. Oh, what the heck, I’ll just say it. That sinking feeling was caused by my brake pedal. MY brake pedal. My BRAKE pedal. My brake PED … you get the picture — when you realize something is wrong with your car and the moment of panic sets in.

How was I going to get home? Safely.

 Obviously, I’m no mechanic. I had no idea why this was happening. All I could do was have an “Oh, Lord, is it the Apocalypse” moment and then regroup, pull myself out from in front of the raging locomotive of anxiety and onto the placid lake of “I’ve got this.” Who am I kidding? It’s bad enough that I mixed metaphors, but I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t pretty upset by the situation. My motor of perpetual escalation was running faster than the car’s, but what could I do?

Once I got my food, I very carefully pulled into a parking space and got out to examine the car. I live in the Upper Midwest. The Upper Midwest has snow in the winter. A lot of it. My car had what I affectionately call “snow poop” built up in the wheel wells. Hmm, thought I, I shall kicketh off the snow poopeth and the vehicle shall be saved. Yeah, no. That wasn’t it.

So what do I do? I sat and debated about calling my husband. I could drop the car off at the mechanics which was sort of on the way home and have him pick me up, but by then the food would be cold. Plus, the mechanic was closed by now. The car was still drive-able, so I made the decision to drive the three miles home. If I could hit the lights just right, I would be okay, I figured. There were no warning lights on in the dash, and the car still braked. It was when I applied continuous pressure that the pedal sank. So, wise or not, after making sure that there was a wide gap in traffic, I set off for home.

And prayed. I prayed for green lights. I prayed that the car in front of me would turn. I prayed that the car behind me would back off. (Okay, I always pray for that one. I’ve been rear-ended more than once.) I prayed to make it safely home. And I did. The food was still warm. Bonus!

So the car is currently parked in the garage waiting for our next harrowing trip to the mechanic this afternoon. The hardest part will be going down our sloped drive-way backwards. I hope.

When I apply the brakes in my car, I expect them to work. If they don’t, I know something is wrong, and hopefully, it can be fixed. Quite often, it’s not the problem that I think it might be. I’m no mechanic, so it’s no wonder that I’m often wrong. What I know for certain is that my brakes need fixed, and I need to leave my car in the hands of someone who can fix it.

I’m like the broken brakes; I cave under pressure. When I apply prayer, I expect it to work. If it doesn’t, I get that sinking feeling. I get angry and anxious and confused about what I should do. But, it’s not the prayer that is broken. It’s that what I’m praying about is often times not the problem that God knows needs to be fixed.

The Great Mechanic knows what’s wrong with me. He’s the one that fixes me, despite my self-diagnosis, because He’s the one who knows my ins and outs.

Just like my mechanic knows my car. I’ll have to pay him, of course. Depending on what’s wrong, it may cost an arm and a leg. But that’s a lot less than what Jesus paid to fix the broken me.

Well, off I go … after I pray for green lights all the way.