Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Birthday Blessings!

So, I had a birthday AGAIN on Monday. It’s been happening to me…..oh, about once a year. It was a good day, but towards the end it was a little shaky. But two things happened to me that really made me want to cry for the feels they gave me. I’ll tell you what happened.

Megan and I went to the schools at 1:00 to get both Ryan and Timmy out. I had called the schools and told them I needed to get them out of school because we needed to be in Roanoke at 2. I made it sound rather appontmentish. Which it was; I had told Cole and his gf Sam we’d be at their house at 2:00 to decorate Christmas cookies. ;-)

Which we did, and did we ever have fun! It was Sam’s first time ever decorating Christmas cookies and I had gotten some new gold sparkledy jimmies and sprinkles to use! I had baked the gingerbread cookies the night before, the recipe my mom always made when I was growing up and are they ever delicious!!

On the way home, the car kept making a weird noise that worried me, and I prayed the whole way home that we’d make it and the car wouldn’t fall apart on the highway. When we got home and put everything away, I really needed to just lie down for a while and rest, so we all did...the house was so quiet!

Later on, I just did not feel like cooking, so I ordered pizza from Pizza Hut to be delivered for supper. About ten minutes later, Pizza Hut called me to say their delivery driver had car problems so I’d have to either cancel the order or pick it up myself. I said I’d be there in 20 minutes, as that’s how long he said it’d be until it was ready.

On the way to Pizza Hut, the car was acting strange again, as if it were having transmission problems. I was quite frazzled the whole drive there, and at the light just seconds away from the place, Pizza Hut called me again to inform me they had no pan pizza doughs. “Seriously?” I said. “I have to pick it up myself and it’s not pan pizza?”

At the restaurant, I sat in the parking lot to get my money out and discovered I was twenty dollars short of what I had had earlier. It was just too much. I walked in and was about to cry when the young woman and man came towards me and apologized, and said there would be no charge for the meal.

What?? I told them that this was my birthday and several things had gone wrong and to top it off I was missing money. They both stared at me, wished me a happy birthday, and got my pizzas for me. I took the pizzas home and told Phil what had happened. He was as amazed as I was.

That was the first thing I wanted to share. The next took place the next day. It’s our custom to go out to eat with the birthday person, but since I was gallivanting around decorating Christmas cookies during the afternoon, we went the next day, Tuesday.

I was still smarting from the sting of the car troubles and the missing money, and as we were happily stuffing our faces with the food at the Chinese buffet, a couple came over to our table, leaned down, and said, “We want to wish you a merry Christmas. Your meal bill has been taken care of.”

What?? Megan was unaware of what that meant, but Phil and I were in awe. We said thank you and I told them this was my birthday meal, and they smiled and left. I’ve heard of this happening, but it had never happened to me before. Phil and I were still stunned as we ate our dessert of little cakes and fruit. What a blessing!!

So, as we drove home and the car behaved for Phil, we talked about these two good things, these blessings that had happened for my birthday, far outweighing the few negative things that had happened. I’m still somewhat awestruck about it, and it makes me want to do something nice for someone when I am able. What a blessing they were to me. I want to be a blessing to someone else too! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Me Too

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the “Me Too” campaign. It’s designed to bring more awareness to sexual violence against women by those affected posting “Me too” on social media. But by its very nature, it’s a very personal subject, one that many are loathe to talk about.

My thoughts automatically went to this: I can’t help but wonder how many women won’t post “me too” in such an open forum because of who it was that abused them. They might feel trapped into silence. 

I won't be silent any longer, but I will only reveal basics.

I was molested by a relative growing up. I didn’t even have words for what was happening to me, so I never told anyone until years later.

When I was seventeen I was date raped repeatedly one night, and once again I had no words for what had happened until the term “date rape” was coined years afterward and the awful memory of my experience came raining down on me.

And then as an adult, my husband from my thankfully short first marriage raped me repeatedly. Because I was married to him, I didn’t know that it was rape when I said no but he refused to respect my choice. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that he insisted on forcing himself on me whenever he wanted.

It took me years to come to terms with the experiences I had and to recover from the shame I felt. I learned that it’s not my shame to carry, but theirs.

Forgiveness for what these men had done to me took a few years also, but I knew I had to forgive them or have no peace inside myself. I hold no ill wishes toward any of them, I freely forgave them so I could be free myself.

There is so much more I could say about each of these experiences, but I’ll leave it at what I’ve said already. I’d like to encourage women to speak out, to reach out for help when needed, to get counseling and support. We need to maintain awareness of sexual abuse, we need parents to recognize the signs and believe children who tell them they are being abused (mine did, thankfully!), and we need to be vigilant about teaching our children (boys and girls) that sexual abuse is not okay.

For help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. They are a confidential support organization and will direct you to a local support provider if you want it. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Of Locks and Keys and Car Doors

On Sunday Megan and I had ourselves a little adventure. She had gone to her sister Caitlin’s house to stay for the weekend, and we had agreed to meet halfway between Roanoke and Radford so I could get Megan and bring her home. That in itself was extraordinary because there was a backup on the highway that made my 30 minute journey take an hour and 45 minutes. Oy.

So we did eventually meet up and talked for a bit, gathering Megan’s luggage that felt like it had concrete bricks in it. And soon we left and were on our way to Walmart. That was another extraordinary event for me, because #1 I’ve never driven there from Roanoke, #2 I have driving anxiety so I usually only make short trips anywhere, and #3 I’m awful with directions, even with a GPS directing me. Have you heard of the phrase “Recalculating route?” Need I say more??

But Megan and I did arrive at Walmart, parked, and I got out of the car, standing in between the car and the door, waiting for Megan to exit. And I pressed the electric lock button to secure the car.


The lock clicked shut but immediately slid back into the open position. Hmmmm, that’s odd. I pressed the button again.

And again the click-click-slide.

Okay, what’s going on? For a third time I pressed the button and for a third time watched the lock on my door slide shut and then slide back in the off position. It must be broken. Great, now I have a broken lock. How much is that going to cost to fix??

So the only thing I could think of to do was to manually push the lock into position and shut the door. Whereupon I checked, as I always do, to make sure my keys were in my purse.

There were no keys in my purse.

Omgoodness, I must have left them in the car! I pulled on the door, knowing I had just locked it. Then I look at Megan and started to tell her not to shut her door. Too late, she had shut it. I went around the car to her side and looked in. Sure enough, my keys were in the ignition, dangling in that carefree way that only inanimate objects do.

Ah, it was all coming together now. I’d never locked my keys in the car before, but I could now understand it: apparently my car has a feature so you can’t lock your keys in it. If they’re in the ignition and you try to lock the doors electronically, it won’t let you, thus alerting you of the problem.

Ohhhhhhh, why didn’t I ever read the car manual?? Why did I insist on my own way when the lock kept sliding back?? Why didn’t I check for my keys before I locked the door??

So, Megan and I trekked our way into Walmart to customer servive, got the non-emergency number for the police, and I made the call for help. A very nice officer came to our rescue and after about 5 minutes of fiddling and faddling, got the car unlocked, whereupon I retrieved my naughty keys and thanked him.

Then we went into the store to get the shopping done. The moral of the story: trust your car; it may just know better than you! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Special Little Trip

So, last week my sisters, who were in Florida visiting our mom’s husband Jimmy, contacted me and asked if Megan and I wanted to meet up with them on their way back to Massachusetts. They were going to stop at my niece Jessie’s house which is 2 hours from us. Of course I said yes!

They were getting a hotel room to stay at and offered to let us sleep there too, so we’d have more time together.

Megan and I packed our bags for an overnight stay and left at 3:00 Friday afternoon.

It took us 3 hours instead of 2 because I got lost towards the end and backtracked across several towns a few times. I totally panicked because I don’t have a GPS in my car, but was on the phone with Philip, him trying to calm me and guide me to Jessie’s street. 

We all met at Jessie’s and right away they took us out to eat at the Golden Corral. It was so big, like the Disney World of buffet restaurants! 

Afterwards we went to the hotel room, where Megan immediately staked her claim.

She brought some of her dollhouse people to play with, and made a growling face at me when I took another picture!

We took lots of photos and talked and laughed…Jessie and Kris...


Jessie and Susan…

Megan and her bestie cousin Jessie!

Megan, Susan, Kris, and me.

After Jessie’s friend took her back to her house, we watched Live PD and went to sleep. In the morning I said goodbye to Kris and Susan, who wanted to get on the road early as they had a long drive back to Mass ahead of them. Megan was too sleepy to wake up!

Megan and I ate breakfast and drove on home, tired but happy from our wonderful special trip. Back to regular everyday life, which isn’t so bad with all the little special times sprinkled in like jimmies on a sundae. :-) 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Conversation with Megan #7

As we’re in the kitchen making lunch:

Megan: Dat spidewr in my dowwhouse?

Me: Yes?

Megan: He got afwaid.

Me: He got afraid? Of what?

Megan: Of da fundewr.

Me: So what happened?

Megan: He used his long legs and wun away!

Me, trying not to laugh at the visual: What did he do after that?

Megan, shrugging: He’s stiww dawre. He’s in anovewr woom.

Me: Well what does he do in there?

Megan: I dunno. He better not pway wiv my peepoo (people)!

Me: What would you do if he did play with your people? Punch him in the nose?

Megan, giving me a withering look: Mummy! He doesn’t HAVE a nose! He’s a spidewr!

Me, getting quieter: Okay, what do I know? I’m just a mom, I don’t know anything about these spiders that might play with dollhouse people but don’t have noses….

Monday, March 6, 2017

He Knoweth Our Frame

This is an article that I wrote 2 years ago, but it is every bit as relevant still today. I hope you take it to heart.

He Knoweth Our Frame…

I turned 50 recently, not even a month ago, and I’ve been thinking of lessons I’ve learned. It’s not like I know everything; let’s face it: I’m not “there” yet and never will be. I’ll always be learning and growing, and that’s a good thing; the alternative would be stagnancy, apathy, and…death.

But in my half century of life (gulp!), I’ve had the privilege of learning a few things, and for that I am truly thankful. One thing I came to understand years ago has served me well, and I am so grateful to God for blessing me with this understanding.

It’s based on a scripture that I came across a long time ago that came to be so important to me, it had a pivotal influence on my entire life. I’ve had occasion to share it with others at times, and hopefully it made an impact on their lives too.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

We all make mistakes in life, we all mess up, make poor choices, make the wrong decisions, etc. We’ve hurt others, done wrong to them, whether deliberately or incidentally, and when that happens, we need to go to them and own up, ask for forgiveness, and seek reconciliation.

The goal is to restore relationships, through honesty, repentance, and forgiveness. I’m not really going to get into that, seeking forgiveness from others. Most people, even if they struggle with it, are willing to forgive. But even as hard as that may be for some, sometimes forgiving ourselves is the hardest part. Sometimes we just can’t get past the fact that we’ve done something wrong.

And that very fact can hinder our relationships…with God, others, and ourselves. Yes, I did say with ourselves.

Our relationships are all directly linked to how we view ourselves, and that is impacted negatively when all we can do is fret about the things we’ve done wrong, to hold those infractions against ourselves. It’s like a constant battering of our self-esteem, breaking it down little by little.

And we do it to ourselves, by not forgiving ourselves.

I happen to have been an expert at that. I spent years going through periods where I would lay awake at night, thinking in the dark, and it seemed every bad thing I’d ever done would come to mind, making me feel worthless and hopeless.

I didn’t understand at the time how this was affecting me, working against me; all I could see was that I had made so many mistakes in my life, and as time went on, there were so many more to think about and assault my sense of self-worth. I’m not going to argue about that term, deemed derogatory and un-Christ-like by some Christians.

Because from what I read in my bible, God loves us, thinks enough of us, that He sent His son to die on the cross to pay for our sins. And if the Creator, the great I Am, looks on us and loves us enough to sacrifice His own son for us, then I believe we should value ourselves enough to forgive ourselves the myriad mistakes we make in our lives.

And because that seems to be so hard for some of us, we need to look at ourselves the way God does, see ourselves through His eyes. And thus, the verse:

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

God sees our mistakes; He knows all about them. He knew every one of them before we ever thought of them or committed them. We know that from Jeremiah 1:5, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

And yet He still loves us, He still has the offer of forgiveness and salvation on the table. He still sees us as having worth. And therein lies our hope.

None of this negates the fact that we are sinful creatures in need of forgiveness from a holy God; indeed, it exemplifies the fact that “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

Why? Again, the verse:

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Our hope is right there, wrapped up in that verse of scripture: God knows that we are dust. He recognizes our humanity. He knows and understands the frailty of our humanness, our propensity to fall and stumble in life.

And therefore, He offers forgiveness. He doesn’t hold it against us; instead, He offers us grace and mercy.

If God is willing to do that, who are we to withhold the same forgiveness from ourselves? Should we not extend that same grace towards ourselves, laying a hindrance, a stumbling block, a very trap for ourselves with our lack of forgiveness? Good gravy marie, no!

We should follow His example, and see ourselves how God sees us, as His children who He made, who have worth and value. His children, who are dust.

It isn’t a bad thing to have a healthy sense of self-worth. It allows us to move forward, to crawl out of that pit of self-loathing and despair, and keep striving towards being the people God wants us to be. To be learning, growing, each becoming who He’d have us to be.

And we can’t do that when we’re bogged down in a mire of regrets, rehashing our mistakes and failures. We can only do that by remembering how God sees us, and forgiving ourselves as He does.

Once again, I’d like to leave you with that very important verse. Please, take it to heart.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Photo: Memo Akten

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mom's Memorial

My lovely Mom

I haven’t really written much about my mom dying, but the reason is simply that I’ve had so many doctor appointments between everyone in the family, I haven’t felt I had the time to give it the attention it deserves. Because Mom died Dec. 2nd, so close to Christmas, and she was being cremated according to her wishes, we decided to hold a memorial for her instead of a funeral, and to hold it the first weekend in February.

So our family planned and packed, no small undertaking with six people going, scooped up my niece Jessie, who lives 2 hours from us, and off we went to Massachusetts on the first. The memorial was scheduled for Saturday morning, the 4th, at the same place where we held my beloved brother Steven’s funeral.

Since we had so few days to be back north, and so many family members we wanted to spend time with, our lunches and or suppers were planned out to make the most of our time there and spend it with family members. And, too, we were making the foods for the fellowship meal after the memorial, so we got to spend time together cooking, baking, and catching up.

Kris at the end, Megan, Phil

The first night we got there we had the pleasure of a New England boiled dinner at my sister Kris’s and my niece Becky’s house. I didn’t get all the photos I wanted to take because after we ate, we played game after game of Mad Libs and laughed and laughed! What a wonderful night!

Susan, Caity, and me

The next day my sister Susan and I baked and baked, cupcakes, cookies, and more as we talked almost non-stop about anything and everything. I loved the time sharing from the heart in the afternoon. Caity came in and we took a quick pic together. 

The night of the memorial, we went to spend our last night there at my Dad and his wife's house, eating my favorite Papa Gino's pizza, looking through recipes, and generally enjoying some chatter around the dinner table. And I forgot to get pics!

Kris, me, Caitlin, and Susan

But that morning, at the memorial, we sang some of my mom’s favorite hymns, and each of us daughters got up and spoke. Kris read Mom’s favorite Psalm, 91, and talked about not only the impact Mom had on our lives, but also the impact she had on the community in her various roles as 4-H leader, nurse, friend, Girl Scout leader, and the like. Susan spoke about what it was like to have Mom as a mother, what she meant to us as a mother, and the wonderful childhood we had because of her.

I spoke of my mother in poems. I read two poems that I had written for her, one before she died, and one after. I’d like to share the poem I wrote ten days after Mom died. It’s called The Gift. 


Hug your mommy tight,
like you’ll never let her go,
for there’ll come a time
when you won’t have her,
though when, you will not know.
Tell her that you love her,
whenever you are near,
and when you hug your mommy tight,
whisper in her ear:
tell her that she’s beautiful,
inside her soul and out;
make sure she knows you mean it,
don’t leave her any doubt.
Look deep into her pretty eyes,
and let her see your smile,
give her this one greatest gift
to last her for a while:
leave all the past where it belongs,
start every day anew,
and when your mommy leaves this earth
you’ll see the gift’s for you…
You spent your days in giving self
and thinking of the other,
you showed her only loving acts
and when God takes your mother,
you’ll have no regrets in your soul,
nor regrets in your heart;
your love will stand eternally
no matter if you part.
So hug your mommy very tight
like you’ll never let her go,
and hold those memories to your heart
and know she loved you so.

~VJC 12.12.16~

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Laundry: A Conversation with Megan #6

So Megan and I were talking about things we have to do to prepare for our trip up north for the memorial service for my mom. Most of you know my mom died last month, and it’s been so hard on us, Megan especially. But while she is grieving her Granny, she’s also excited about traveling back to Massachusetts for four days. Today we’re going to make sure all the clothes we need to take are clean for the trip.

Megan: Awre we goin’ to da laundwomat to do da cwoves?

Me: Yeah, after Phil gets home.

Megan: Can we wash my doww cwoves?

Me: Yep!

Megan, talking to her doll Emily: Did you heawr dat Emily? Gwammie says we can wash youwr cwoves!

Emily, in a voice that sounds surprisingly like Megan’s, only high pitched: Okay, but I don’t want dem washed wiv da towels.

Megan: Are dawre gonna be towels in da load?

Me: Yes, I have a few.

Megan, so serious: Emily doesn’t want hewr cwoves washed wiv da towels.

Me: Okay, we can put the towels in another load. A different one. Why doesn’t she want her clothes washed with the towels?

Megan: Because she doesn’t.

Me: But why?

Megan: Because she’ww be pissed. <in that half lisp she has :) >

Me: Oh…..okay.

Megan, happily chattering to Emily again: See Emily? We’ww get youwr laundwy done!

Emily: Okay Mamma!

Megan: Dat’ll be so much fun! An’ we’wre goin’ to da hotew (hotel) an’ you can wear youwr coat! I can’t wait!! It’s gonna be so much fun! I want to take a baff in da tub! An’ get fwied cwams!