Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28th Inspiration as 2016 comes to an end.

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

--------------Mother Teresa

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Week Before Christmas

Tis the week before Christmas and all thru the house
not a creature was stirring except one little mouse.
He peeked at me from under the pantry door
and startled me so much, my jaw dropped to the floor.
I ran down the hall to my sleeping spouse
shook him awake with the words "there's a mouse in the house!"
He went to the kitchen with a grumble and complaint
saying if I had seen a mouse I would be in a dead faint.
15 minutes later, he called out my name,
"Ellen, I caught the mouse. So what's the plan for this game?"
My answer to him was loud and clear,
"pick that thing up and get it out of here!"
"It's cold and snowy outside, I'll do it later.  I'm going back to bed!"
"I will not share my house with that mouse, alive or dead!"
So holding the mouse by the tail as it hung from the trap,
he tossed it out the door into the snow like a good chap.
Back to bed we went all cozy and warm
and soon went to sleep until the morn.
At breakfast we sat with hot coffee in hand
when my hubby said, "you know I don't understand.
It has been my experience that if there's one mouse there's more."
My eyes went immediately to the pantry door.
He smiled and said, "I was only teasing you, hun."
I smiled back and replied, "payback has just begun."

                                                         MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

In Rememberance of Mom

Today is my mom's birthday and although she has passed away, I still celebrate it in a small way.  Christmas was not my mom's favorite holiday, it was my dad's.  When he passed away, my mom pretty much stopped with all the decorating and cooking that went with the holiday.  So with her birthday so close to Christmas and her being so far away from me, I would send her a large poinsettia plant as a birthday present.  She would use this as a substitute for a Christmas tree.  After my mom passed away, it was hard for me to remember her and her birthday without a great deal of sadness.  My husband, in order to make it easier on me, continued the tradition of the poinsettia plant on her birthday by getting me one.  Having that beautiful plant with its large red blooms and green leaves on my dining table makes me feel as if mom is here with me on her birthday once more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday 11/29/2016

It is "Giving Tuesday".  In honor of this day, I want to share two things my husband and I did today.  These were not big events in the grand scheme of things, but for my husband and I it was the idea that we might have brightened someone's day.

Before we had left for my doctor's appt. I was cleaning out my wallet and I came across 4 $25 gift cards for Starbucks.  Now in order to understand my story you need to know that the Starbucks in my city is a good half hour away.  I don't get in there as often as I would like.  The gift cards had been given to me when I was teaching school because every parent knew that I loved my coffee especially my vanilla cappucinos.  I was looking at the cards and thought to myself how they were going to waste.  I decided I needed to give them to someone who could use them.  There is a Starbucks on the campus of our university and I figured that college students would be able to use the cards more than me.  I took the cards to an organization that works with the students.  I asked them to give them out to the first 4 students who came in the door and there was no need to tell them who donated them. 

Then my husband and I went to the doctor.  As is his habit, he dropped me off in front of the medical building and went to park the car.  I sat on a bench to wait for him.  He was walking toward me when I noticed he stopped and walked over to a woman who was struggling to get her walker in the trunk of her car.  They spoke for a moment and then my husband picked up the walker, folded it up and placed it in the trunk.  However, from the struggling he was doing, the walker was not going in as easily as he thought.  He adjusted things in the trunk and tried again....nope.  He turned the walker another way and tried again...nope.  Finally, he gave up and put the walker in the back seat of the woman's car.  She shook his hand and thanked him before getting into the car and leaving.  He walked back to me with a big smile on his face.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Well, winter has finally made its appearance.  After having a November with temperatures in the 50s and 60s with no snow in sight, I awoke this morning to this.  Now I see winter as a half good, half bad thing.  The first snow of winter is very pretty, very calming (and goodness knows, we need calming after the recent presidential election).  But for me, this first sign of winter is only the beginning of a season which will last till April.  A season of cold, wet and gloomy hibernation.  Does it sound like I don't like winter?  You're right!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Veterans' Day

A big "Thank you for your service" to my husband (top) and to my dad (bottom).  You make your family proud everyday.

Nov.10, 2016

I have tried very hard not to express opinions on my blog about politics.  It was a mean nasty campaign and by speaking to it on here, I felt like I would be feeding into it. 

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day trying to understand what happened and how anyone could find that person capable of running a country.  I admit that I cried a lot and felt like I was mourning a death.

Today I read statements from many people in all walks of life.  They are saying we must unite together and go on with our lives and hope for the best.  That is all well and good for them.  For me, I am mourning...I am grieving....I am angry.  I am not ready to unite together and go on.  I love this country and everything it stands for.  Making America great again was never a slogan I prescribed to because, in my opinion, America has always been the greatest country on earth.  I am not ashamed of being an American, I am ashamed of some of its people.

So to all of you who, just 2 days after the election, can put aside your feelings of disappointment, anger and grief and hope for the best, I commend you.  For me, it's going to take a lot longer and if that makes me less of an American than you, than so be it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Autumn is here...the good and the bad of what comes next.

Autumn is once again upon us and yes, it is a beautiful season.  The trees have exploded with leaves of gold and red and yellow.  The air is crisp and brings thoughts of apple cider, homemade soup and warm quilts.  I like Autumn even though, for me, it is a signal that my favorite season of summer is over.  But there is a downside to Autumn.  It reminds me that my least favorite season is around the corner. 

I believe that Winter has its good points as well as its bad points.  Good points include, at least for me, figure skating on tv.  I enjoy watching the competitions on Sundays especially my favorite skater, Ashley Wagner.  I love the sight of freshly fallen snow before cars make their messy tracks in it.  I love to listen to the sounds of the trees crackling in the cold as the wind moves them and of course, Christmas isn't Christmas without snow.  But that's where the good stuff ends for me.  After Christmas, I wish the snow would go away.  I dislike the freezing cold, snow shoveling, fear of falling just going out to get the mail and the feeling of being trapped in the house until April.  I am not into winter sports and my days of playing in the snow ended with retirement.

Of course this is all my own preferences.  There are many people who love winter and wait for it all year.  I give them a lot of credit.  They see joy in the winter weather where I do not.  To me, winter is a bridge we must cross to get to the good stuff...spring, summer and fall.

So I will patiently wait to cross the bridge and see the first signs of spring.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Last night my 24 year old pulled into the driveway and announced he was staying the night.  It seems his roommate had family company at the house and he offered his bedroom to them.  When asked where he would spend the night, he told them he was going home.  Because although they have homes of their own, the boys still consider home to be where ever mom and dad are. That got me thinking about what is home to me. 

For me, home is a house with green awnings in Dearborn, MI where I grew up with my mom, dad and sister.  In my mind, I can see the days in that place.  The dining room where we ate dinner every night without the tv on.  The kitchen my mom complained was too small for her to cook in.  The stairs where my sister and I would sit quietly and listen to tv when we should have been in bed.  The bedroom we shared (which was okay when we were little but a war zone when we became teens).  Holidays celebrated with family and friends.  First dates with nervous boys meeting dad and sadness when we had to move.

Home then became a house in Marquette, MI where I lived for a short time before getting married and moving away.   But home was still there with my mom and dad. Once a week, I found myself back there whether it to do laundry while visiting with mom or having supper.  It was holiday celebrations or helping when dad got sick.  It was living at home for a short time while waiting for the birth of my first son and then my second.

Home changed after my dad died.  Home became Appleton, WI and Las Vegas, NV and Surprise, AZ and Minneapolis, MN and finally Seminole, FL.  All these places were home because that was where my mom was.  Mom is gone now but I like to think she went home to be with dad.  Is my home gone now?  No, it is still with my mom and dad and someday when it is my time to go, I believe that I will go home too.  I will find myself sitting on the front porch of that house in Dearborn, MI and my dad will come to the front door and say, "Ellen, it's time to come's time to come home."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to me!

Turning 65 is one of those events in your life that can make you very depressed or very confused.  Depressed because a good portion of our culture sees 65 years old as OLD!  You qualify for Medicare, you are eligible for all senior citizen discounts (although you can join AARP at 50 and get senior discounts), you are considered to be helpless, on the road to dementia and not capable of doing anything you could do 5 or 10 years ago.  Confusion because you don't feel old, you don't see yourself as old and you still try to do everything you did 5 or 10 years ago including new adventures if you are retired.

Last week, I joined the ranks of the confused 65 year olds.  I do not feel this age.  I feel like I am in my 50s with all the energy and enthusiasm that goes with it.  Yes, my hair is grayer these days and my children are now in their 20s and 30s and when I look in a mirror, I look so much like my mom it is scary.  But for the most part, I do not consider myself 65 years old.  To me, this is not old age.  My dad lived to be 71 and my mom lived to be 85.  With the medical achievements today and what's coming in the future, I suspect I can live to be 100.  This means I am only halfway thru my life. 

Now I could just sit and wait for my time on this earth to end but what is the point of that?  I still have too much to do and too much to share to give up now.  So this year, I told my sons the great piece of advice my mom gave me when she turned 65.  I told them, "If people ask, you will tell them you are 24 and 30 years old which means I am 50 years old.  Next year, I will let you know if we are changing that."

I may be 65 years old but since I don't feel that age why should anyone else know the truth.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October 1 - Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

St. Therese's teachings of how to be holy, how to be a child of God, and to be close to God, she called "her little way of spiritual childhood." She learned that being holy is very simple – it involves trusting God with confidence and doing ordinary things in life with great love. Her "little ways" is about doing little things to please people, bring a smile to someone's face and heart, reaching out to let people know they are special – and accepting disappointments with patience not anger.

                                                          "My God ...I love Thee!"

                                                                               -St. Therese of Lisieux

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hello Fall!!

Today is the first day of Fall.  It doesn't look like Fall in my neck of the woods yet.  The leaves have not changed color although in some places in the UP, the colors are absolutely majestic.  I do love to watch the colors change from the greens, blues and yellows of summer to the gold, red and bronze of Autumn and I wait anxiously for that time here where I live.   The temperatures have definitely gotten cooler....."sweater weather" my mom used to say.  Soon it will be time to put away the summer clothes and get the winter wardrobe into the closets.  Quilts have been put on the beds and windows which were wide open in summer are now closed to just the smallest opening.  Meals that were made up of cold crisp salads, corn on the cob, steak on the grill and tart lemonade will move into hearty soups, bowls of chili, warm homemade bread and hot coffee.  There will be many outdoor chores to do: putting away the patio furniture, getting the landscape ready for its winter hibernation, storing away the lawnmower and checking that the snowblower will be ready when needed.  The days are getting shorter and all too soon, this season will pass and winter will make its entrance.  Until then, I will sit at my window with a hot chocolate with marshmallows and watch as the farmland around me becomes a canvas of color God paints each year.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Telemarketers Are The Worst!

I will warn you on the outset, this is a rant about telemarketers.  I am so sick and tired of running to answer the phone and it is a telemarketer of some sort.  I put my phone on the Do Not Call List and did that help........NO!  I still get at least 3 to 5 calls per day.  Now that we are in an election year that number almost doubles sometimes.  We get opinion poll takers, candidate pollsters, issue pollsters, etc.  Also, I am about to reach the age for Medicare and so I receive many calls for supplemental insurance and other health gadgets they seem to think a senior citizen needs (example: the "I've fallen and can't get up" necklace).  What is the point of a Do Not Call List if no one is paying attention to it?  Thank goodness for caller id or I would be answering these ridiculous calls all the time.  However these places have gotten sneaky in getting around caller id.  There have been calls identified as being a cellular call, a call coming from my area code or city, or a call from a government dept.  All of which have turned out to be from telemarketers.  You would think after getting no answer the 6 or 7 times they have called, they would get the idea we are not talking to them and find someone else to harass but nooooo.  Of course, a lot of these calls are automated and since no human pays attention why would they realize that you will never answer their call.  So although this is a rant about the annoying telemarketers, it is also praise for the person who came up with caller id.  Now if that same person could figure out how to get the telemarketers to stop calling, that would be a happy day for sure.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

DIY Camouflage in the Kitchen

My husband and I have been updating our floor, old cupboards painted in a new grey color, wall paper,  new counter tops, etc.  Everything has been going quite smoothly until we reached what I call "the elephant in the room".  On the wall by the back door in the kitchen is our electrical panel.  It is an ugly metal cabinet which contains all the electrical switches for the house.  I don't like the look of it and have tried to hide it by hanging a picture/wall hanging over it.  But even those looked just as bad.  So one afternoon I was staring at it trying to come up with an idea how to camouflage it (it would be too expensive to have it moved).  Then it came to me perhaps a kitchen wall cabinet would do it.  It would hide the panel but still allow us to access it if needed.  We measured the area and purchased an unfinished wall cabinet.  Since the panel is on a wall by the back door, the cabinet would be too deep to hang up the way it was.  So we measured how deep it could be while allowing sufficient clearance for the back door.  My husband then sawed off the back of the cabinet to the right depth.  We painted the cabinet to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets and then attached it to the wall over the electrical panel.  The pictures above show how well it worked out.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Inspirational Thought 8/29/2016

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Jam Pot

Last Saturday, my husband and I went to Copper Harbor in the Keeweenaw Peninsula for the annual Art in the Park fair.  It was rainy but we had fun anyway.  We go to Copper Harbor at least once or twice a year because we enjoy it so much.  One of the places we always stop at is the Jam Pot.  It is a small bakery nestled in the green forests of the Keeweenaw in Eagle Harbor, MI.  This little shop is run by Byzantine monks and it contains the most delicious baked goods. 

It is such a small building that it makes you wonder how many items are actually in it for sale.  The next thing you notice is that there is a line out the front door and the parking lot is full.  I have never gone there without standing in line and yet, people don't mind it because it is worth the wait.  When you get inside, the first thing is the delicious smells that greet you and the variety of the items on display.  There are many different kinds of jams and jellies.  My favorites are the Wild Raspberry and Wild Thimbleberry Jams.  There are also fruitcakes and poundcakes freshly made.  Lemon Poundcake is excellent.  It is soaked in brandy and although, I am not a fan of liquor soaked cakes, the brandy was just a hint and I liked it.  There are also a variety of brittles, barks and candies for sale.  My husband is partial to brittles of all flavors.

There are also fresh baked cookies.  Chocolate chip are my sons favorite but mine is the oatmeal raisin peanut butter cookies.  To me, the hardest thing to find is a good oatmeal raisin cookie.  These are excellent!

So, my recommendation is that if you ever get to the Keeweenaw and want to sample some wonderful baked goods in a beautiful setting...The Jam Pot is the place to go.  You don't have to take my word for it because The Jam Pot is also featured on the Pure Michigan website.  P.S.  You can also order from them online.

Happy Eating!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hello August!

It is August and all kinds of media are now in full "Back to School" mode.  TV commercials are filled with back to school advertisements on clothes, supplies, food for snacks and lunches, just to name a few.  There are articles in newspapers and magazines on how to cope with the last days of summer and how to prepare for those first days of school.

Before my retirement, I was a second grade teacher and this was the time of the year when all my thoughts focused on going back to school.  I created lists of supplies I needed, ideas for lesson plans, updated my calendar with meeting dates and times, decided when I needed to go into school to prepare my classroom and went thru my closet to see what I needed to be appropriately dressed for school each day.  This was also the time of year when my husband and sons knew I would be asking for their help in getting my classroom ready for the new school year.  August became their busy month just as much as mine.

I have been retired for 2 years now.  The first time August rolled around and I did not have to do any of the school prep craziness, it was a very emotional time for me.  I actually missed all the crazy planning and work.  It was strange not to be doing it.  It was so bad that to make the transition easier, my husband took me out of town on a small vacation in order for me to put some distance between me and school.  This year August has rolled around again, as it always does, and I am doing so much better.  I can watch the tv commercials and smile.  I can read the advertisements in the Sunday paper and skip past the sections on back to school.  Stories on coping with the end of summer and beginning of school in my favorite magazines are stories I bypass without guilt.  I even find myself happy in that I do not have to put myself thru all the stress that comes with the beginning of the school year. 

This year, we are planning 2 small vacations in August without the worry of a time frame.  I will enjoy sleeping in until 9am and not have to start slowly training my body to get up at 5am once school starts.  I will sit on my deck and enjoy the warm sunny days of summer with my coffee and not miss sitting in professional development meetings all day.  In short, I will enjoy August!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

God's Road Map

Have you ever asked more than one person how to get to a specific destination and suddenly you have two or more different routes to get there?  One route might be quicker and one might be more scenic and other routes might have a variety of good reasons to take them.  The destination is always the same but the way to get there is different.

Life is like that with God.  The destination is always the same but the route we take to get there is different with each one of us. I was thinking about this the other day when I was looking at old photographs of childhood.  There were pictures of my parents, the house and neighborhood I grew up in, school, jobs, travel, my wedding pictures and pictures of my sons.  I thought about how my girlfriends and I would sit on the front porch in the summer and talk about what our lives would be like when we were grown.  I grew up in a city suburb in a neighborhood of cookie-cutter like houses.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad worked all week and played golf on Saturdays.  Sundays were spent in church and at my grandparents' house.  We vacationed as a family every summer and life was good.  Because of this, I saw my life as being very much like that.  I would marry and live in a city suburb in a cookie-cutter type house, be a stay-at home mom, my husband would work all week and play golf on Saturdays.  We go to church on Sundays and then spend the day at the grandparents' house and of course, vacation every summer as a family.  I expected my life to be a straight shot toward this destination.  Little did I know that would not be the case.  I was 18 years old when my family moved away from the city to a more rural area for my father's work.  I was like a fish out of water.  Everything I grew up with in a city was now gone and I had to relearn life at a much slower pace without a lot of, what I thought, the much needed conveniences of city life.  I disliked it so much I made plans to move back to the city when I met and married a young man who changed my moving plans. 43 years later, I can look back and see the route I took to get to this destination.  Now, we live on 40 acres of farmland where the closest neighbor is 1/2 mile away, my husband worked shift work at a mine and couldn't stand golf.  He is a fisherman.  I was a working mom and lived too far away from grandparents to visit every Sunday.  Vacationing as a family was hard with my husband's shift work but we did get to go away sometimes in winter and sometimes in summer.  My destination in life (so far) has not turned out the way I imagined it when I was a young girl but it has turned out the way I love it.  I wouldn't change any part of it.  My girlfriends from my youth have reached the same destination as myself but they have gotten here in a number of different ways.

God has a plan for each one of us.  He has that plan before we are even born.  He has destinations for each of us and although we don't get there in the same ways, we do get there.  When life throws me a curve ball and I am living through something that brings stress and/or pain, I tend to wonder what is God's plan that I have to go thru this.  Then I pray and realize that God has a destination for me and every obstacle and/or smooth path He gives me is going to help me reach that place.  His directions have been "spot-on" so far, I trust He will continue to get me where I am supposed to be until I stand before Him and see His loving face.

"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope!"  Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Blog - Where is it going?

I have been thinking about this for awhile now.  When I started this blog I had just retired and was looking for a creative outlet for my writing.  All was well in the beginning.  My posts covered a variety of topics, nothing specific, just what was on my mind that day.  However, I have begun to think I need more of a focus for my posts.  Perhaps narrow the topics to one or two themes.  At this point, I am not sure if this is the direction to take.  So if my blog posts seem to be few and far between for awhile, it is only because I am working on this new direction idea.  My blog and I are still here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

You're Gonna Miss This

Our oldest son came home for a visit last night.  This may not sound like a big thing but he lives in Nevada far from our home in Michigan and we do not get to see him in person as much as we would like.  Our youngest son came home last night as well to visit with his brother and spend the night.  There we were, the four of us, sitting in the living room at 10pm having one of those cool family conversations where everyone is trying to get their words in edgewise.  I watched and listened as my 2 sons talked to each other about cars, football, movies, girls and music.  In that moment,  my memory took me back to when they were much younger.  Like so many parents, I used to say to myself "I can't wait until they're more grown up".  I usually said this to myself when they were being exceptionally needy and stubborn at the same time.  This memory triggered another memory of a song that Trace Adkins used to sing.  I loved that song but it always made me sad because it made me realize that what the lyrics said was very true.

My babies are 38 and 24 now and there are many times I wish I could go back and relive those days when they were "my little boys".

"You're Gonna Miss This"  -----Trace Adkins

She was staring out that window, of that SUV
 Complaining, saying I can't wait to turn 18
 She said I'll make my own money, and I'll make my own rules
 Mamma put the car in park out there in front of the school
 Then she kissed her head and said I was just like you

 You're gonna miss this
 You're gonna want this back
 You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
 These Are Some Good Times
 So take a good look around
 You may not know it now
 But you're gonna miss this

 Before she knows it she's a brand new bride
 In a one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
 He tells her It's a nice place
 She says It'll do for now
 Starts talking about babies and buying a house
 Daddy shakes his head and says Baby, just slow down

 You're gonna miss this
 You're gonna want this back
 You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
 These Are Some Good Times
 So take a good look around
 You may not know it now
 But you're gonna miss this

 Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
 Dog's barkin', phone's ringin'
 One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
 She keeps apologizin'
 He says They don't bother me.
 I've got 2 babies of my own.
 One's 36, one's 23.
 Huh, it's hard to believe, but ...

 You're gonna miss this
 You're gonna want this back
 You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
 These Are Some Good Times
 So take a good look around
 You may not know it now
 But you're gonna miss this
 You're gonna miss this
 Yeah, you're gonna miss this

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thought for the week of 7/18/16

"Forgiveness is a process.  Sometimes a very long, arduous one but with God's grace it is possible to forgive even in the most difficult of circumstances."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Mantra

Recent events in our nation and the world have brought on me a crisis of faith.  Not a crisis in faith in God but faith in the people He created.  It is difficult to understand the depth of hatred that so many of His people have.  And the acts of violence fueled by this hatred are excused by the perpetrators as being caused by religion, race, gender and more.  I have been struggling to keep an open mind on what the foundation of these acts are.  To eliminate all the intense emotions being fueled by those who only wish to fan the fires and not solve the problems in the first place.  It has gotten to a point where just watching the nightly news has become difficult and painful.

This morning as I sat on my porch drinking my coffee and enjoying the quiet solitude of the neighborhood, it came to me....a quote from a book that I read as a girl and to this day still keep a copy of it on my bookshelf.  The quote came from a girl who had witnessed and been a part of the worst time in our world's history.  Yet, even after all she endured, she still had faith in the people around her.

     "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." --Anne Frank

I believe that God put this quote in my heart for a reason.  This will be my mantra when it seems the world has gone completely insane.

Hopefully the world and God's people will regain their sanity soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This is the Day...

A week ago today I was on the cardiac care floor of the hospital waiting to find out what caused the pain I experienced on Friday morning.  Many thoughts crossed my mind as both my parents had passed with some form of heart condition.  Thankfully, I was told that medication and a change of lifestyle was in order and that I could go home.  What followed was a week of cold, rainy weather and disturbing national news.  There is nothing I can do about the national news but today I awoke to sunshine and warmth.  God is having a hard time with the people of this world but He still found time to give this woman a beautiful blessed day. Makes me want to sing...

This is the day, this is the day.
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice, we will rejoice,
And be glad in it, and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made.
---------------------------------Psalm 118:24

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Wake-Up Call

Friday morning started out as a typical morning.  We headed out after breakfast to take care of our beginning of the month errands.  All was well...until we got to the gas station.  My husband was pumping gas into the car when I felt a muscle cramp in my left arm.  Assuming I was sitting wrong, had the seatbelt in the wrong place or just pulled a muscle by moving the wrong way, I moved my arm around and readjusted my seatbelt all in an attempt to alleviate what was becoming a pain growing in intensity.  By the time my husband came back to the car after paying for the gas, I knew that something was very wrong.  All I had to say was "take me to the ER" and my husband was off at a somewhat safe and breakneck speed (I detest the ER so when I say I need to go, something is very wrong).  To make a long story short, I did not have a heart attack but a mild angina episode (they called it that).  My doctor said it was a wake-up call to start changing my lifestyle to a more healthy one which included diet, exercise and medication.

God is like that.  He sends us wake-up calls all the time but sometimes we do not pay attention to the calls because it just doesn't fit into our lifestyle.  I am sure that my body gave me some wake-up calls in the past but the calls were dismissed because who wants to eat healthy, exercise and take pills all the time.  God knows that following Him is not easy and many of us prefer the easy way to do things.  The great thing about God is He will patiently wait for you to hear His wake-up call and follow it.

Corinthians 10:12-13 "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

Every time we are tempted to sin, God offers us strength to do the right thing. God will provide us a way out, but only if we turn to him for strength.

Luke 13:3 "Jesus said “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

Repentance is telling God “I hear your wake up call.”

So will you hear God's wake-up call when it comes?  But more importantly, will you heed the warning and do what is necessary to follow Him?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

2 Years into Retirement and This is What I Do...

When I first retired, a good friend told me to start off slow and take my time in filling up all those hours and days that used to be filled with work.  I took that advice and so now 2 years later, this is what I am doing so far.......

(1) travel-short, mini trips as well as longer vacations.  The upside is we can leave and return whenever we choose to.
(2) create my own needlepoint design projects
(3) house renovation-downsizing, cleaning out the junk, donating a lot we don't need.  After all, there are only 2 of us living here now.
(4) genealogy-have been able to go back 3 and 4 generations on my side of the family.  Have started working on my husband's father's side.
(5) write children's stories-have written 2 children's stories which have been submitted for possible publication.  This took courage on my part and I am pleased I did this much.
(6) write my own blog-I started my blog in January of this year and am really enjoying writing it.  It
is viewed by not only family but by others who have given me positive comments on a number of posts.
(7) read mainly nonfiction-I have always been a reader and my favorite genre is nonfiction. However,
I do read a detective series by Sue Grafton.
(8) journaling- I have 4 journals going (so far):  personal, all about me, prayer, color.  Journaling has always been a very important part of my life.  It has gotten me thru the highs and lows and helped me make decisions and choices in my life.

Of course, this list by no means is the end.  This is just what I have been doing in the last 2 years. I expect that I will add more as my interests change and I decide I want to do more in an area.  I have considered going back to school for a Master's degree, take classes in new crafts or other skills, volunteering, starting a business, etc. 

This is the next chapter of my life and I am happy with the timetable I have developed to live it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Traveling Vietnam Wall

The Traveling Vietnam Wall has come to our city and for those of us who cannot get to Washington, DC, it is an awesome event.  My husband and I went to see it on Friday morning.  It was about 10am
and there were a few people there but not many because it was a work day.  I was amazed at how quiet it was.  The few people that were there spoke in whispers and even the high school football team practicing on a field not too far away was not loud enough to be distracting.  The length and
shape of the wall was an overwhelming sight.  I was so taken aback by this that the thought of what the real wall looked like in DC in comparison just blew me away.  And then there were the names...all those names. 

My husband held my hand as we walked along the wall just completely mezmerised by the number of names on each panel.  All those young men and women (there are 9 women on the wall) who gave their lives for our country.  It is heart wrenching.  Those of us who lived thru those years remember so many who received that ominous draft notice even on the day they graduated from high school.  My husband joined the Navy during the Vietnam War (and yes, it was a war).  He was assigned to an aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal.  In 1967, the Forrestal was off the coast of North Vietnam when bombs (originally from WWII) stored in the carrier exploded, tearing thru a good portion of it and killing 134 Navy personnel.  My husband was one of the lucky ones.  He survived that awful day in July, 1967 with no injuries.  When we reached that panel on the Vietnam Wall where the names of his 134 shipmates were printed, my husband did something I have only seen him do 3 times in the 40+ years that I have known him....he cried.  He squeezed my hand as his fingers touched the names.  Without a word, we walked back to the car. 

We have not spoken about that morning and I doubt we will.  Vietnam is not a subject my husband chooses to talk about.  The only experience he has ever shared with me is when he came home on the plane and the officer in charge told all of them to remove their uniforms and change into civies.  People in the US were very unhappy about the war and soldiers and sailors returning home were being treated shamefully.  The officer was trying to make their homecoming easier.

Watching the local news Saturday night, they covered a parade which took place down the main street.  It was led by bands and flags.  Behind that were 100+ Vietnam vets walking to the traveling wall and lining the street were the citizens of our city clapping and cheering these veterans who never received this welcome when they came home over 40 years ago.  Amidst the crowd of Vietnam vets were young veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  One of these young men was interviewed by a news reporter.  He said, "It doesn't matter if the war was popular or not.  These men and women fought for their country and they deserved the kind of homecoming we in the service get today.  This is a long time coming and I am proud to walk with them."

So whether you believe in a war or not, please remember that there are men and women who are doing their jobs in the most dangerous situations.  They are doing it because of their duty and love of country and they should be celebrated for it for all time.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A 43 year journey that's still going strong


On June 22, 1973 a 21 year old young lady married a 27 year old young man, both of whom had no idea what they were getting into.  43 years later they are still  together and going strong.                  
Happy Anniversary to me and my guy.  The journey is not winding down, it is still going strong!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Inspiration for the week of 6-20-2016

                                "Every great dream begins with a dreamer." - Harriet Tubman

Is there a dream you have always had?  Perhaps its to write a book, start a business, learn a new skill or language, go to school, travel someplace exotic, etc.  Is there something you can do this week to either fulfill your dream or at least get started on the road to fulfilling it?  This is my Monday inspiration to you and to me, as well.  Take one dream and give it your best shot...what do you have to lose?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Thankful Thursday List

The love and support of my God, no matter what kind of person I have been on any given day.  Knowing He still loves me eternally.

The beauty of the Earth in all its forms.  God was on top of His game when He created it.

The continued good health in body, mind and spirit of my family

Memories of a 60+ year life to remember and share.

Watching my children become the adults I knew they would be with good, kind, loving hearts and the courage to chase their dreams.

Parents who taught me about romantic love between soul mates, the strength of a united family who can get through any adversity and the belief that it is what is inside a person that is most important.

The appreciation of the small things in life-- hearing the coo of a morning dove, watching the mares graze in the field, the smell of freshly mowed grass, the taste of hot orange tea in my nanny's teacup on a rainy morning, the touch of my husband's hand when we go for a walk.

Food on the table, a roof over our heads, a comfortable secure retired life.

Time to pursue past times, travel with my husband and just enjoy day to day living.

Books that you hold in your hand, turn the pages and appreciate the beauty of how they look; music of all genres that lifts you up or calms you down and art in all mediums that makes you wish you had just a small percentage of the talent the artists have.

Being a cat mom and a dog grandma.

The ability to appreciate the positives in my life especially on days when there seems to be more negatives.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Trusting God

For awhile now I have been going thru what I call my "Navy Blue Funk" period.  This is a time when there is absolutely nothing that is bringing me any kind of joy whatsoever.  Getting out of bed every morning is a gigantic decision.  Hobbies, that I usually love, have no attraction for me.  It is so bad that even my husband, who normally doesn't pay attention to these phases, noticed and asked what was the problem.  I couldn't answer him because I don't know what the problem is.  I have no interest in anything.  I feel like I am just going thru the motions of my day to day life.  I feel empty without any direction.  I have been praying to God even more intensely than usual for some kind of guidance, some kind of sign of what I am supposed to be doing, what direction I am supposed to be traveling in.    I was becoming very discouraged because I was not either hearing or understanding what (I hoped) He was trying to tell me.

This morning was the first morning in almost 2 weeks that it was not cold and rainy, so I took my cup of coffee and my journal and sat on the front deck to enjoy it.  As usual, my first actions were to pray to God.  I thanked Him for the sunny, non rainy morning and suggested a few more of these would be in order.  Then, as usual, I asked Him to help me out of this "navy blue funk" I have been in.  I heard a sound coming from the farm across the road and looked up to see the 2 mares, Princess and Tasha, running across the field. They were not running to anything or anyone special, it seemed that they were overcome by this burst of energy and decided to run it out.  I watched them for awhile and then walked across the road to the fence to get a closer look.  Much to my surprise, they walked over to the fence and stuck their heads thru as if to be petted.  Nervous at first, I have never petted a horse before (I know that is an odd thing to admit), I placed my hand on each of their heads and gave them a small caress.  For the first time in many weeks, I did not feel the emotions of the mood I had been in.  I was happy and content in that one moment when 2 of God's creatures became part of it.  I felt that God was telling me that I was pushing too hard to find a direction, that I should just take each moment as it comes and experience it.  This was the path He wanted me to take, the one where I see the moments He created around me no matter how small and appreciate what He has given me.  Everything else will come when He feels I am ready for it and I need to trust Him to know when that is.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Am Not Losing My Faith, I Am Losing My Church!


I have been a member of my church for the last 40+ years.  Thru many changes (new buildings, new priests, new way of celebrating Mass, etc.),  I have always felt that it was the place for me to be close to God.  It has always been the place to go when I need comfort or answers to questions or just to vent my displeasure at something or someone.  However, something has changed my feelings about my church.  At first, I thought it was because we had a new pastor assigned to us.  I really liked our old priest and was not happy about the change but I was willing to give the new one the benefit of the doubt.  Yet I still did not feel comfortable.  I thought maybe I should change when I go to Mass perhaps always going on Saturdays was getting into too much of a rut, so we started going on Sunday mornings.  Still there was that feeling of "what am I doing here?"  One weekday afternoon, I went to Church to pray during Eucharistic Adoration and I found my prayers focused on trying to understand what was happening to me and the environment of my church.  It wasn't until I left church and got in my car that it came to me.  I did not feel welcome there.  I was happy to be in my car and leaving the building.  The feeling was like when you are invited to someone's house and the whole time you are there, you want to leave because you feel as if you don't belong there in the first place.  I did not feel welcome in my church.  I have to admit that I sat there and cried in my car for almost 30 minutes, mourning the loss of a place that had been a part of my life for 40+ years.  My two sons were baptized there, received their sacraments there and had become a place of comfort for my husband and I.  Don't get me wrong, I have NOT lost my faith in God.  If anything, my faith is stronger because of this dilemma.  My husband and I went to other churches in the area but none of them gave me that "welcome home" feeling.  So now on Sundays, I find a quiet place (a room in the house or the backyard deck or a sunny spot in the woods) for a couple of hours and read my Bible, pray and converse with God.  I know that one day, I will feel welcome again in church but for now, I am content to be welcomed anywhere I am with my God.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Paid in Full

Well, it is a happy day!  After 40 years of house payments, we have officially paid off our mortgage.  Our house is paid for, free and clear.  This is a goal my husband and I have had since his retirement 12 years ago.  That goal being that when I retired (which was 2 years ago) our mortgage would be paid off.  It took 2 extra years but we reached that goal. 

In this day and age when seniors are worried how far their money will go in retirement and what kind of "paring down" they might have to do to survive, this is quite a load off our minds.  My husband and I have spent quite a bit of time working on what we have to have and what we can let go.  We went from 2 cars to one.  We now grocery shop once a month and have been stocking up the freezer and pantry.  We have locked away the credit cards to be used only in case of emergency.  We use cash whenever we want something and if we don't have the cash, we don't get it.  It may sound like we don't have any fun now that we are both retired, but that is not the case.  If anything, we are
enjoying our lives much more than when we worried about the credit card balances, mortgage payments, etc.  Yes, it would be great to be able to afford to go away every winter to AZ and/or NV to avoid all the snow, but at least we can afford to run away for a little while to escape the winter nutsies and enjoy the fact, we won't have to give up eating or a warm house to live in to afford it.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

 On this Memorial Day, let us remember all our veterans whether active or inactive.  Theirs was the true acts of courage and selflessness.  Without them, we would not have the freedoms we have today.  Thank them and/or their families for their service.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Happy Day!!

I admit husband is addicted to lawn mowing.  He loves it and since we live on farmland, he has lots of opportunities to mow and mow and mow.  The greatness of his addiction to it was evident these past 2 weeks.  Ever since the weather got better, he has been working on our lawnmower to get it ready.  Now this lawnmower is old and he has nurtured it for the last 2 years to make it thru another summer.  This year, however, it was not going to make it no matter how much he did to it.  So, my husband made the ultimate decision to get a new one.  He went one morning to the store and returned with a big smile on his face saying he had purchased a new riding lawnmower.  When I inquired as to the price, he started off by saying, "now let me tell you about it first."  This is not a good sign.  It turns out he bought one of the top of the line mowers and paid a fair amount of money for it.  I was not happy but since this is his only vice, we will overlook it.  It couldn't be delivered until Saturday and wouldn't you know that after all the heat and sunshine of last weekend and the 5 days of rain this week, our grass has grown very high and the dandelions are reproducing like crazy.  Seeing the lawn like that was very hard on him.  It made my husband as antsy as a kid on Christmas waiting for Saturday.   This morning (Saturday), we got a call at 7:30am to let us know the mower would be delivered later this morning.  My husband was up, dressed and waiting patiently for it.  The truck just came and, what a sight, a 70 year old man all excited watching them take it off the truck.  Lawnmower Christmas has come to our house!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On behalf of...

On behalf of my son Eric's birthday today, I am posting one of my favorite pictures of my sons.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Beautiful Lesson A Wolf Pack Can Teach Us About Family

A pack of wolves: The first 3 are the older or sick and they set the pace of the group. If it was on the contrary, they would be left behind and lost contact with the pack. In
ambush case they would be sacrificed.

The following are the 5 strongest. In the center follow the remaining members of the pack, and at the end of the group the other 5 stronger.

Last, alone, follows the alpha wolf. It controls everything from the rear.
That position can control the whole group, decide the direction to follow and anticipate the attacks of opponents.

The pack follows the rhythm of the elders and the head of the
command that imposes the spirit of mutual help not leaving anyone behind.

                                                         Credit: Mike Demeter

I saw this on Facebook and was so impressed by it.  It seems that in recent times, the seniors in our families have become a burden.  They are not as revered as they used to be. 

I remember as a girl that Sunday was always the day spent at my grandparents' house.  There was nothing more important than that.  Many afternoons and evenings were spent listening to the stories of their childhood, their way of life. 

When I was teaching school, on of my favorite assignments to give the children was to interview the oldest member of their family and record it.  Many times I heard from parents that the assignment blossomed into a family project with all the old photographs coming out;  grandparents and aunts and uncles sharing stories even plans made for trips to ancestoral homes. 

The senior members of our families have so much to share and should be given the respect due them for their age.

Friday, May 6, 2016

My Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to tell you about my mom.  My mom was a beautiful woman; physically, emotionally and spiritually.  When I was a young girl, she was described as a statuesque, auburn-haired, irish beauty.  She had big, beautiful, brown eyes and a smile that could light up a room.  When I got married at 21, her hair had gone to a golden gray but she still had that presence of classic beauty.  Towards the end, mom's hair went completely white and her once tall, statuesque body shrunk and bent because of osteoporosis but she was still beautiful and classy.  Mom had a great sense of humor.  She could get you to laugh on just about anything.  She always acted surprised that people thought she was funny but she knew she was.  She would get this small smirk on her face when we would start to laugh at something and then appear to be shocked that we would find it funny. On my birthday, she would tell me how old I could tell people I was so that she could shave years off her real age.  I recall that I was 35 years old for almost 10 years before she changed my age.  She had a kind and loving heart.  Her family were the most important people to her and she would do anything for them.  She was a stay at home mom when I was a girl and I never heard her complain about it.  We lived down the street from school and I would come home for lunch every day.  She would set up the tv trays in the living room and we would have lunch together.  When I was younger, mom loved her soap operas.  Her favorites were The Secret Storm and The Edge of Night. As she got older, her taste ran to CNN News, Judge Judy and college football, specifically Notre Dame college football. She was always a doodler and colorer as far back as I can remember. When she would get us coloring books, she would buy one for herself.  My gift to her every Christmas included new coloring books and a new pack of colorful sharpies.  She loved to dance and it was joyful to watch her and dad jitterbug at a party.  She loved my dad with all her heart.  Theirs was a true soul mate romance.  When he passed after 45 years of marriage, she never really got over the grief of his absence.  My mom had a deep faith in God and took us to church every Sunday.  She prayed the rosary and prayed to her special saint, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.  I believe that my faith in God began with my mom's example. 

My mom has been gone now almost 5 years and I still remember our last conversation.  I remember her voice, her laugh and her touch when she hugged me goodbye.  I take it as a great compliment when I am told I sound or act like my mom.  Although I wish that she was still here with me, I am comforted knowing that she is my guardian angel and watching over me from heaven above.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom,  love Lala

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Creative God

Yesterday morning I went to the grocery store.  The sun was shining and there was a warm breeze.  It was a lovely day in May.  By late afternoon, the sky had darkened considerably and then a steady sheet of rain fell for a number of hours.  Tuesday felt so miserable by the time the rain had stopped.  But then my husband called me outside and said, "Ellen, you must see this!"  There it was, the most beautiful rainbow in the sky above our home.  Once more I was reminded at how creative God is with His universe.

"When the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature—every mortal being that is on earth. "---Genesis 9:16