It was a beautiful journey today, through a pleasant day, that culminated at my sister Linda’s house. She invited me and our new friend Paula over for dinner. She provided lasagna, corn and baked potatoes. I brought salad, fruit and a small cheesecake. Paula brought the DVD, Talking to Heaven, a film based on the life of intuitive, James Van Praag. What a great evening we had, eating a meal together, chatting and watching the first half of the DVD, which is a mini series.
And although the movie was good, detailing the life of a man who finds himself, reluctantly, gifted with amazing intuition, the real joy was hanging out with these two beautiful and authentic women. Linda is always great to offer her home as a place to gather. We are both eating with more deliberate attention to consuming healthier foods. Rather than grab fast food, she offered to cook. It was fun to combine our offerings to make a scrumptious meal. It was a casual help-yourself kind of gathering and we settled into comfy spots in the living room to eat, chat and watch the DVD. Linda is not only my sister, and was my first friend. I appreciate both of my sisters so much, and my brother too. Sibling love is such a special kind of relationship, a cross between best friends and got-your-back family.
And I appreciate Paula as well. The CS Lewis quote applies perfectly to that new friendship. We met by “chance”…which really means, our paths were drawn together, as we walked along, without planning on our part. We recognized kindred spirits in each other and have become friends. She shares a love of animals with Linda and their friendship is growing as well. How fun that we’ve all connected. I look forward to many future lunches and dinners and times of just hanging out. The ability to fully be oneself with another, gifts, quirks and all, is a blessing and I’m grateful for both Linda and Paula.
Paula not only brought the entertainment for the evening, she surprised us with gifts that she made. I love her creativity and her thoughtfulness. The vases she made, with flowers tucked within, are gorgeous and mine is already on display in my house, as Linda’s is in her home. Friendship means so much to me and I am thankful for these two companions who are traveling alongside. What adventures await us?!
Today’s holiday, a favorite for coffee drinkers, is not one I normally celebrate. I’ve never been a drinker of the dark elixir although it smells wonderful as its brewing. I just haven’t developed the habit of drinking coffee, or acquired a taste for it. My hot beverage of choice is tea.
However, from my year of firsts in 2014, and experiencing new things, and my year of journeys this year, I have developed the habit of being open to possibilities. And I especially like trying something different. As I was finishing up my afternoon, I decided to join the hordes of coffee drinkers enjoying this day. Where does one go to get a cup of coffee? Starbucks! I opted for the drive-through and a cup to go, my first ever from this popular coffee shop.
I am grateful for the menu board in the drive-through at Starbucks, as I had no idea what to get. Veering away from a cup of plain coffee, straight up, I perused the options, hoping for something with pumpkin flavoring in it. I was excited to see a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and ordered that, tall. I know, almost not a coffee, but for a non-coffee drinker like me, it was the perfect choice.
I saved my coffee, to enjoy at home with a coconut and pumpkin seed protein bar, creating a rather unconventional afternoon tea! And enjoy it I did. The drink was rich and flavorful. I will most definitely have a Pumpkin Spice Latte again. And who knows, perhaps I’ll eventually become a real coffee drinker!
Today is Greg’s birthday, and we had this day’s journey planned out. We both cleared the day, work wise, and intended to drive to Arkansas, or Springfield, or perhaps even Tulsa, to spend the day doing whatever he wanted to do. There was sure to be a stop at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore…and a steak dinner at a good restaurant, or whatever type of celebratory meal he wanted. It was his special day….and I wanted to gift him with a day of fun. That’s the way it was supposed to go. The reality was, Greg became afflicted with a severe toothache over the weekend. The pain changed all his plans for Saturday and Sunday, and ultimately, changed today’s as well. He has an appointment at the dentist office in the morning, however today, rather than a road trip and fun, Greg’s birthday became one of resting and taking meds to relieve his throbbing jaw.
One thing that Greg and I both have learned in recent years is to go with the flow. It wasn’t the day that I had planned, but it became the day that was meant to be. How do I know? It is the day we were given. Greg’s body was alerting him to an issue that needs to be taken care of. He listened. Rather than get frustrated by the turn of events, he made an appointment and settled in to let the meds do their work, which made him sleep most of the day. When he stirred this afternoon, I got him a meatloaf dinner from Cracker Barrel, instead of steak, and holding to a tradition that began with daughter Elissa, I got him a birthday treat. He opted for a Frosty Twist, from Wendy’s. Apparently, his tooth isn’t sensitive to cold, at least!
And as I have done with the other family birthdays this year, I’ve thought about Greg and his journey this past year. I’m recognizing a pattern here. Every year is significant. Every year has its joys and challenges and its opportunities for growth. That has certainly been true for this man as well. Since his last birthday, Greg has been present for two of his children as they married their sweethearts: Elissa married Josh last November and Nathanael and Megan wed in May. In December he was there as his youngest, Adriel, walked across the stage at Crowder College, to receive her nursing diploma. He stood before her, both of them with tears in their eyes, as I pinned the nurse’s pin to her white scrub top.
Greg is a caring and compassionate dad, very present in the lives of his kids and grandkids. Although often preferring to be the quiet person in the back of the room, his presence is strong and the children look to their dad when they need that strength. When he speaks, they listen, not because they fear him, but because they love and respect him and find value in what he shares. He gives of himself to his family, so he’s there when repairs need to be made, and rooms painted, when grandson Dayan needs practice driving or there are grandchildren performing, receiving awards or playing sports.
Greg extended that compassion and love to his dad, in the final months of his earthly journey. He had dreaded the loss of his aging father, the last member of his original family. And yet, when the time came, Greg stepped up in ways that he never would have imagined, caring for his dad, spending precious time with him, holding him when he was in pain and confused. He walked with his father until he couldn’t walk with him any farther, offering that quiet strength, and released him to go on, into eternity, when that time came. Greg spoke at his dad’s memorial service, something he never thought he could do, and the words were a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man, a father who surely heard those words and felt so proud of his son.
Two years ago, while on a trip together in Eureka Springs, AR, Greg stopped to look at a motorcycle for sale, parked near the highway. As we drove away, leaving that particular bike behind, we discussed Greg’s desire for a motorcycle. He had one years ago, when I first met him. The past few years, he has talked about owning one again. As we drove, he shared what he wanted in a bike…the size, the build, the price….and what owning and riding a bike would mean to him. And then, he let go of the outcome, released his wish and stayed open to what would arrive. This past summer, making a spur of the moment phone call to a local motorcycle shop, Greg found his bike. It was exactly what he had described, two summers ago in AR, right down to the price.
It takes courage, I think, to climb back onto a motorcycle, after 40 years of not owning one. However, gathering that courage, and spurred on by the desire to ride, Greg began to bike again. For him, there is great freedom in hopping on his bike and taking off, no real destination in mind, just him and the bike and an open road. His joy is evident and those trips are fun, and good for his soul. And that is really what life is about….courage and freedom, and living from the heart’s desire….and not being in a hurry to reach a destination but finding joy in the journey. Happy birthday, Greg. When you feel better, we will go celebrate. Happy travels, as you head down the road on your bike, the wind behind you and endless possibilities before you. May joy accompany you.
Sunday is my favorite day for caring for myself, body, mind and soul. It’s been a wonderfully restful day, spent mostly at home except for an excursion to greet my daughter Elissa at a welcome home celebration. She attended a women’s retreat over the weekend and the tradition is to have family present when the ladies return, to cheer and hug and give tokens of love. I rejoiced over Elissa’s bright and beautiful face as she climbed off the bus. She was tired…who sleeps on retreats…but happy. Perhaps she will do a guest blog post for me someday, and share her soulful experiences, because it is her story to tell.
I arrived back home, just as the sun was sinking. And I knew precisely how I wanted to conclude this gorgeous day. Tonight another Supermoon will grace the sky. And not only is this a full moon that appears larger than normal, it is a full lunar eclipse as well. I wanted to be outside to watch for it. It was the perfect evening for another activity that I’ve been wanting to do as well, out in the garden…color.
I started a cozy little fire, that soon blazed into a cheerful roaring fire, and brought out an unsweet tea from Sonic, my colored pencils, and a new coloring book that I have enjoyed this weekend. The book is The Time Garden, by Daria Song. The pictures are detailed, which I love, and each page tells the story of a little girl who journeys, via her father’s antique cuckoo clock from Germany, to magical places. It’s a whimsical collection of pages to color. I completed the first page today, after beginning last night. I started on a fresh page, in my own enchanted garden.
I am totally captivated by coloring in these books for adults. The colored pencils give me a lot of freedom to mix colors as I add layers and create subtle shading for interest and depth. I love how being creative awakens an artistic side deep within my soul. My senses are more acute. As I was driving this afternoon I noticed colors and textures and the play of light on the old buildings in downtown Webb City. I observed more keenly, noting how shadows form there beneath the eaves of a tall brick storefront, so I could duplicate the effect later with my pencils.
I stood to peer over the fence as the sun slipped below the horizon. It was beautiful. And I studied the sky, awash with colors, thinking about how to best capture such a stunning sight. I like how an act as simple as coloring has a profound effect on me, shifts me, opens me to more possibilities, more beauty in the world.
In the darkness, relieved only by the glow through the neighbor’s windows and the flickering firelight, I sit at peace, with myself and with my world, and watch the eastern sky. The moon has appeared and the earth’s shadow is crossing her shining face. My cat Shy Boy has claimed my lap and enjoys the night with me, staring into the fire. What a magical evening.
Today’s blog post is from grandson Jonathan. I got to spend time with him yesterday afternoon and asked him to be thinking about what he wanted to share on the blog. This boy, who just turned 10 (we will celebrate Oct 10th), and is a 4th grader, didn’t need long to ponder. He excitedly told me he already knew what he wanted to do…an instructional video! I grabbed my phone and in a few moments, we were set up and ready to go.
Jonathan is a natural, both in front of a camera and in doing instructional videos. He loves watching YouTube and learning more about the games that he enjoys playing. His great desire is to have his own YouTube channel soon, and a large following! For this blog post, Jonsthan decided to cover the basics of building a house in one of his favorite games, Minecraft. I filmed him as he deftly built the structure, keeping up a running monologue as he worked. Jonathan amazes me with his grasp of technology, and his fearlessness in putting himself out there, whether he’s acting in a play, singing in a talent show or creating a video. The boy is brilliant. His talents will take him far, should he decide to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
Here is Part 1, of Jonathan’s video blog post.
I’m so grateful to Jonathan for creating this video and for helping his Yaya to learn more about technology. He helps me to grow by challenging me to keep up with him! The video I recorded of Jonathan was about too long to post in one segment. I’m still in process, figuring out how to edit the video to break it into smaller segments. Stay tuned for the rest of Jonathan’s informative videos on YouTube. As I left the house yesterday, Jonathan was busy setting up his own WordPress blog. That’s my boy!
Today is my mom’s birthday. Neither of my sisters could be in Joplin to celebrate, so we have plans for gathering together next weekend to take Mom to dinner and get much laughter and visiting in. However, after completing my day, I was free to stop by for a chat and to deliver a fun little gift.
I’ve fallen in love with the art of coloring. With my colored pencils and a coloring book for adults open before me, I can lose myself for a few minutes…or many minutes…in this simple activity. My mom is so very creative. She has modeled living out of her artistic side all of my life. I used to anticipate coming home from school in the afternoons, and discovering what project my mom had been working on that day. From reupholstering furniture, to painting silhouettes on the bathroom walls, to sewing tiny wardrobes for my Barbie dolls, my mom was always finding outlets for expressing her creativity.
Mom always enjoyed coloring with my sisters and me when we were young. She continued that practice with her grandchildren and now keeps a stack of coloring books and a box of crayons in the living for her great grandchildren. A couple of days ago I enjoyed perusing coloring books for adults at the craft store, Michael’s, in search of a book for Mom. I find a delightful one…it has to be good, it has the word whimsical in the title…and picked up a box of 50 Crayola Colored Pencils.
It’s not an expensive gift. But what fun to surprise Mom with her own pencils and coloring book. She seemed genuinely pleased! There’s no right or wrong way to color, no time constraints, no judgment. There is just the joy of laying color onto the page, whatever color or combination of colors draws you, and your own spark of creativity. I trust Mom will enjoy.
I so appreciate my mom and her birthday is a good day to make sure she knows that. No other person has shaped and guided me as much as she has. Her strength and high energy continue to inspire me. Her sense of humor still gives me the giggles….and gives her the giggles too. My mom can rarely complete the telling of a joke because she gets so tickled, which makes her family laugh even harder. She has, and will ever be, my greatest champion, my encourager, my person to bounce ideas off of. And she is ever growing, trying out new experiences, finding fun ways to do something routine. She has a great, shining soul, and a heart that loves her family and supports them, surrounds them, with prayers, light and good thoughts.
Happy birthday Mom. I am grateful for you. Thank you for believing in me and for walking with me in this journey called life. You are my traveling companion, my friend, my mother. I love you!
I had a particular journey planned for today. My intention was to pick up my granddaughter Aubrey from school and that the two of us would have afternoon tea while watching the new Cinderella movie on DVD. However, that is not the journey that unfolded this afternoon. On this gorgeous day, Aubrey and I ended up at a local park, where she was joined by a friend from school. It was a wonderful afternoon spent outdoors. I considered watching Cinderella this evening, anyway. What I love about my journey is living out the statement, “Open to everything, attached to nothing.” Before I left the park, Greg contacted me to say a friend was in town, whom we had not seen for 30 years. Would I want to go to dinner? Yes….yes I would!
After taking Aubrey home, we made arrangements to meet at Joplin’s newest restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. Perfect! A first, combined with the reconnection of a dear friend from my youth. My journey took care of itself. With high anticipation, Greg and I met Jerry at the hotel where he was staying, and walked across the parking lot to the restaurant that features hand-cut steaks, grilled pork chops and chicken and tender ribs, all in a friendly, western themed atmosphere. We had a 20 minute wait, but that was okay. There were ample places to sit while we waited. Snagging a bag of in-the-shell peanuts, we settled on a bench outside, and used the time to catch up.
Gotta love a place where you can throw peanut shells on the ground!
I met Jerry in the little town of Noel, MO, when Greg and I were dating. I was 16 years old and Jerry about 19 and Greg 22. Jerry’s grandparents and an aunt and uncle lived in Noel. He spent the summer in that sleepy little community and then attended college for the next four years at John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, AR. Greg attended John Brown as well. That summer was a time of hanging out and talking about life and figuring out the next step along our paths. Mine was easy. I was still in high school. But I benefitted from my connections with these older friends and they were all great to include me in their activities. Alas, I was the only one with a curfew!
But what fun we had over the next few years. College and ministry and meeting new people, weddings and graduations, and embarking on new adventures. Jerry met his bride, Susan, while in school. The four of us got together often. Life took us in different directions eventually. Greg and I to Joplin, MO. Jerry and Susan to the Oklahoma City, OK area. Our families grew, as children arrived. And after a couple of impromptu visits, when Jerry and Susan happened to be near Joplin, we fell out of touch.
I’m grateful for Facebook, because recently we all connected there. A couple of weeks ago, Jerry contacted Greg to say he passes through Joplin, on business trips, occasionally. Tonight, he took the time to reach out and say he was here!
We began catching up as we sat outside, and then continued after we were seated at a booth within. We paused in our stories long enough to order dinners, which were delicious. I had a grilled pork chop that was so tender and seasoned perfectly. The staff was friendly and the service great.
As wonderful as the meal experience was, the real journey tonight centered around friendship and bonds that never break. It was amazing to hear where life and the Divine have led Jerry and Susan, who have five grown children and five grandchildren. It’s been an exciting adventure for them, that continues on. I appreciated Jerry’s views on life and his great attitude. From our youth, I remembered his big heart, his charming smile and his beautiful singing voice. He still possesses all three. We finished our meals and walked back to the hotel, where we sat outside, enjoying the mild temps, laughing over stories, old and new, and joyfully picked up the threads of our friendships.
What a fun evening. I am grateful for Jerry and for friendship, for memories and new opportunities for growing those relationships. And I am grateful for the flow of life and Divine direction, which never fails to surprise and delight me. It’s all about trust. And staying open. I am loving this journey.
This evening I joined my sister Linda at her house to watch an episode of SyFy’s show, Ghost Hunters. The investigative team was in Carthage, MO recently, at the invitation of Keith McBride, owner of the building on the square currently housing McBride’s Antiques on the main level and John Oliver’s, another antique and collectibles shop, in the basement. The former Burlingame & Chaffee Opera House occupied the top floor of the old building, built in the late 1870’s, and is now vacant. Keith and his employees have experienced unusual phenomenon in the building since its purchase three years ago and he hoped to have his experiences validated and new information provided by the team.
The Ghost Hunters are Jason Hawes and his TAPS team (The Atlanta Paranormal Society): Samantha Hawes, KJ McCormick, Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and Dustin Pari. Armed with equipment, independent research, and a level-headed, investigative style, the team first interviewed the owner, Keith, and several eye witnesses, and then spread out in the building to gather their own evidence or debunk the accounts. Interestingly, each of the three floors have their own unique activities.
In the basement level, witnesses have told of hearing and seeing a young girl, who died with her mother when they were thrown from their carriage and swept beneath the building in flood waters, where they drowned. The main floor most often has reports of the presences of a child and an older woman, unexplained noises such as footsteps or the sound of objects moving around, and once, according to the owner, a luminous number 3 that appeared on the floor. Exactly 3 months later, to the day, the building next door burned down. The stairwells leading to the top floor have heavy, stagnant energy within them, and Keith told the TAPS team that he felt a great weight on him as he climbed the stairs one evening, making him feel he was going to fall.
The top floor has reports of specters in old fashioned clothing and the sound of music playing, or a cash register ringing. TAPS carefully explored each section, taking readings with their equipment, listening and observing and documenting their findings. They experienced phenomenon on each floor, that they were able to capture using their various gadgets. The sound of a child crying was recorded in the basement, where the little girl has been seen. On the main floor the team heard the sounds of footsteps, running, when no one was there. They also set up an electronic device that is very sensitive to energy. Jason spoke aloud, asking if anyone or anything was present, and if so, to please tap the device. Immediately, a beep issued forth. He asked how many of his team were present in the room. Three beeps….which was correct, there were three people in the room. If he asked for the device to remain silent, it did. If he asked for beeps, it responded immediately.
On the top floor, music was heard, and bangs and pops emanated from the shadowy corners of the room. Going down one of the stairwells, Jason and a team member heard noises coming up from the main level, which was empty at the time, and experienced heaviness on the landing. When they shared their findings with Mr. McBride, they concluded that there was, indeed, paranormal activity taking place within the building, although they didn’t feel there was malice present.
It was an interesting show, made more so by my own recent visit to McBride’s Antiques. I was able to slowly explore the building and noted heavy energy, and movement in my peripheral vision, especially on the main floor. No matter what one believes about spirit and energy, and I believe in both, having had many, many experiences throughout my life, it was a well done and thought provoking show. I appreciated the low key attitude of the investigators and their desire to find reasonable explanations for what was occurring first. And then, they accepted the reality of what took place. As Arthur Conan Doyle said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” That works for me!
I discovered this awesome holiday last year, during my Year of Firsts. This day, September 22, is recognized as the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, uncle and nephew Hobbits, from JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas. Yesterday kicked off Tolkien Week, and there are all kinds of delightful celebrations taking place throughout the upcoming week.
In honor of these two courageous Hobbits, I listened to the soundtracks of the three Hobbit movies as I ran errands today. The music of Howard Shore not only stirs my soul, it triggers my memory so that scenes from the films unfold in my mind as I listen. Such epic stories, brought to life by the brilliant Peter Jackson. My life has been enlarged because of the unusual partnership of Tolkien and Jackson. I am forever grateful.
Last year I concluded Hobbit Day with a Icing on the Cake flavored ice cream cone. I didn’t want the sugar today. My celebration took a wonderful turn when I came across a post on Middle Earth News. They shared the following quote, from chapter three of Fellowship of the Ring:
“In the evening Frodo gave his farewell feast: it was quite small, just a dinner for himself and his four helpers. When they had sung many songs, and talked of many things they had done together, they toasted Bilbo’s birthday, and they drank his health and Frodo’s together according to Frodo’s custom. Then they went out for a sniff of air, and glimpse of the stars, and then they went to bed.”
And there was my journey for the evening, right there. I didn’t have a feast or sing but I hummed along today with the music from the movies. I chose a non-alcoholic drink to toast Bilbo and Frodo, creating an unsweet iced tea with luscious fresh strawberries and blackberries added.
I took my drink out into the backyard garden, in the dark, for a “sniff of air and a glimpse of the stars”. In the quiet, surrounded by warm air scented with herbs and flowers, seranaded by tree frogs, I couldn’t imagine a more Hobbit like space in which to offer a toast. Those earthy folk valued growing things and food and drink and simplicity.
Looking up, my glimpse of the stars was limited, as clouds covered most of the sky. The moon, hazy in her nightclothes, was the only object I could see in the sky. Good enough! I took a sip of tea, and raised my glass in tribute. “Happy birthday Bilbo and Frodo.” I smiled in the darkness. My life has been so influenced by these two Hobbits, adventurers who discovered who they were and what they were capable of as they journeyed. Their courage and wisdom and the friendships that they formed have provided inspiration for my own journey. Yes, they are fictional characters. No matter. Some of my favorite people are not flesh and blood yet live boldly in my imagination nevertheless. Long may they dwell there and live on in future generations.
Today’s blog post is courtesy of my grandson, Oliver. While Joey and I were looking over his portfolio of drawings, in preparation for his guest blog post, Oliver was busy snapping pics, of whatever caught his interest. I love giving a child a camera and turning him or her loose to capture their world. The results never fail to amaze and inspire me.
Watermelon growing in the backyard garden.
Oliver is 7 years old, soon to be 8, and a 2nd grader. He enjoys jumping on the trampoline, riding his bike and scooter, and climbing and performing amazing stunts. He has a mischievous smile, that always makes me smile in return, and an easy going charm. There is more to Oliver than meets the eye. His independence and casual air compensate for the fact that he is the younger brother, and the middle child, in his blended family. He is figuring out who he is, as Oliver. He told me he didn’t have any creative ability….and then proceeded to create a wonderful drawing, complete with a clever paper frame. (Yaya failed to get a pic of this marvelous piece of art.) However, when I offered him my camera, and turned him loose, he proved that he does, indeed, have quite an eye for artistic expression.
Here are Oliver’s photos:
Carl, who is much loved…and chased after. Carl is deaf…but we all talk to him anyway.
And Choco, the family’s pug. I love Oliver’s slightly out of focus pic. It seems to sum up Choco well, capturing those liquid brown eyes.
More goodness from the garden….green tomatoes ripening on the vine. Great composition here.
This is a Toad House that the kids built in the backyard. Oliver took pics of it and then, explaining to me how they had dug out a hole and then built this structure over it, carefully removed a portion of the roof so we could peek inside. We all yelled and jumped when a fat brown toad INSIDE THE TOAD HOUSE, hopped and then hid himself. I laughed at the expression on Oliver’s face….imagine….a toad actually in the Toad House. Ollie gently put the roof back into place and took a pic through the little door by lying on his belly.
Mr. Toad, who appeared to love his house, and showed his appreciation for the roof being restored by coming out of hiding. Oliver might have a future as a nature photographer.
Although Oliver might call these last two photos “mistakes”, they are actually my favorite pics from that day. I don’t know how he created these effects….but I love the look.
My favorite photo. It is mysterious, and full of light and beauty and grace….just like Oliver, just like all of us.
I appreciate Oliver’s work, which shows how artistic and creative he is, and his willingness to share his photos via my blog. I believe, as these children grow older, that I’ll occasionally hand them a camera, just to see what their current perspective of the world is. Their views are always fresh, always fascinating, deeply beautiful and stirring. And, we all have fun. We are not only growing and learning about ourselves and each other, we are creating memories and stories. I’ll never forget the toad in the Toad House and Oliver’s look of surprise! I don’t think he will either.