Out for a bike ride last evening, we tooled through the large cemetery just before dusk.  At first it was just a cool, shady place to ride.  Quiet and still it was a restive ride before the day slipped into night.  I found myself looking at names on head stones as I pedalled by.  Then, I looked at year of birth and year of death.  I pondered at why there were so many gaudy, plastic flowers strewn here and there.  Did the dead like tacky things?  How did the cemetery caretakers mow around all those headstones and paraphernalia that adorn the base of the big mausoleums?  I told my husband to please not put tacky flowers on my grave.  Then I laughed and reminded him that since I wanted to be cremated he wouldn't have too.  We stopped to wander around a bit, drawn to the almost now white and worn headstones from the 1800's.  Some were pre Civil War and 150 years of weather had worn away the names and dates.  Who was there beneath the ground I wondered?  How had no one noticed the engraving was being worn away?  Why had no one fixed it before it was too late - the person's name gone, lost?  What had their lives been like?  I saw one head stone buried nearly completely in the ground.  Someone had tried to pry back the earth that had edged its way over top.  The corner was white with age and the words not visible.  That headstone had become just like the body in the ground, back to the earth - dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  I got lost for a time in the significance and creation of God for each of those persons that were laid in death there.  He loved them, had a plan for their years on the earth.  They had been loved hopefully on earth, but definitely by God.  I thought about how we labor and toil, pleasure and dream, hurt and hope and then are buried somewhere.  One hundred years goes by and we are replaced totally.  The cycle of life.  My life, when over, will be eventually like pulling your hand out of a bucket of water...there will be no real visible sign of me.  Why then do I labor for things on this earth so deeply?  Maybe the gypsies (other than their life of crime) had a clearer view of the transientness of life.  I saw other head stones that were beautiful, majestic even - no doubt expensive.  There were small family owned mausoleums with beautiful inscriptions and plant life highlighting the stone.  One headstone had an intricate tree embossed in the stone.  If I wanted a headstone and a grave, I would like one with a big tree with branches on it signifying my love of nature.  There were several interesting ones.  Like the two that both died at 50 years of age and had their pictures air brushed on the stone.  The man, with a pimp sort of hat and suit, had the nick name "Flim Flam" above his legal name.  It made me giggle.  I sort of liked it though as it helped me know what that now decaying body in the ground had once looked like.  It helped me envision the life of "Flim Flam" a bit better.  I pedalled away from the cemetery knowing that God creates all life, gives it purpose and then in our humanity's limits, we cease to live in the physical world any longer.  Heading home we rode by a house where there were kids playing in the background.  It was though a bit disturbing when they called out to us, "Hey old people!".  Fitting it was as I am, I suppose, en route to the cemetery so to speak.



"It's okay honey, you can let it all out.  I know you've been hurt and I know you're angry and confused.  So, go ahead and let it out.  It does a soul good to let the waters run once in awhile - the healing waters." - The large black woman, Elousa, said to Mack when he first entered the shack to meet her, a symbolic portrait of God (The book, The Shack).  That probably describes me now.  Right where I am - the healing waters.  I went to church Sunday, a new church, still on the quest to find a church home.  My attendance has been down the past 6 weeks.  There are a myriad of reasons why, but none of them fully capture the whole truth.  I scraped away at that to reveal this place of disappointment I am in with the church.  I spent all my growing up years in the church, and then was married for 25 years to someone in the pastorate.  The last 10 years of church ministry I began to crave pure church - less programs, more authentic people, less obligation and rules, more grace and love, less administration, less buildings, a purer view of God unobstructed by humanness.  I wanted true worship.  I wanted God untouched, unadulterated, unphotoshopped by religion and the church.  So before I think my disappointment with the church hinges purely on my divorce experience, it's that plus a journey I was on previous to divorce.  Divorce highlighted it.  It brought the lights of Las Vegas to it.  I'm not sure if there are levels of the divorce experience within the church (although I think there are but that's another blog post).  But being a former pastor and wife created a variable, a dynamic to it.  It added a complex component beyond the complexity of divorce that already exists.  My new husband asked me what I thought about church.  "Disappointed," I replied, "and not done working through my disappointment." I said with sadness, hurtness even bewilderment singing through the words.  I have found divorce in the church as a former pastor's wife a very lonely, silently condemning place.  The one former parishioner I told of my separation and ultimate divorce, was our last church's former church board chairman, a dear and close friend for 7 years.  He stayed close till my quick remarriage.  No one (we pastored for 25 years), barring one person who called me and asked, "So how do you have a relationship with God now?" and a friend of mine in the church who sent me somewhat preachy verses via texts weekly but has declined my invite to sit and talk, has called or emailed or written.  My life was invested in their lives, but the response has been cold and silent.  At first I tried to shrug it off.  Possibly people did not know what to say (probably somewhat true).  I knew it had to disappoint, disturb, confuse or even anger some.  No doubt it left some with some unresolved issues.  I tried to give grace in that regard.  But that no one reached out in love or care has left me stunned, disappointed and discouraged about the church in general.  I went on with my husband's question, "Disappointed I am deeply in the church.  But, not in God.  I feel close to Him and continue to want more of Him."  I have seen God clearly in my life post-divorce and in remarriage - both in tangible and intangible ways.  So much so that it has humbled me.  The love God has continually shown me has been a rich portrait of his presence in the midst of this event.  My husband went on, "Do you  want connections in the church?  Does it bother you not to have them?", he asked.  "Not yet it doesn't." I replied, "I had deep connections all my life in church and no one came forward."  Until recently, I have let that deep hurt, that disappointment lie still.  But now I think it's time to let it out - the questions, the wrestling with it, the tears which can lead to healing.  Soon after I remarried, my dear friend, the former church board chairman, quit calling or returning my calls.  I began to wonder by the silence of him and others if somehow they assumed my quick remarriage was the result of an affair I had been having while previously married.  I knew that wasn't true and God knew it wasn't true.  I couldn't and wouldn't defend myself to other people.  That seemed a defensive move.  I wondered too if I was being blamed in the divorce as former church people (and most of humanity's bent) had to find justification, blame for their ex-pastor's divorce.  I was and continue to be somewhat convenient to blame.  If I am blamed that allows them not to have to wrestle with the issue of divorce and God or to view their pastor as human, flawed. What they really don't want to believe or maybe even know, is that our divorce was a joint decision, a mutual understanding, an angst conclusion stemming years and years in the making. It has also been very personal and private, something my ex husband and I decided not to share with others.  We are not mud slingers with each other, nor to others about each other.  Sometimes people close to me will ask why I don't tell some things about my former mate, why I don't defend myself.  It's just not how I operate, never have.  I continue to hear God's voice say, let me handle others, let it go even the unfairness.  So I let the healing waters come hoping they will remove the disappointment, the hurt and heal the wound.  The land of disappointment is not where I want to stay.



I noticed something this week - the similarities of ironing board covers and tampons.  They seem to have nearly identical rating systems.  If you are like me, an ironing freak, you know that when you buy an ironing board cover they are listed as; light, medium or heavy duty.  It then usually gives an explanation (as though we are walking idiots who do not have a clue what those 3 words mean in regards to ironing).  Light=almost never irons and wears wrinkly clothes more than ironed ones.  Medium=irons when in a situation that needs the absence of wrinkles-weddings, funerals, possibly some work clothes, church.  Heavy Duty=anything that is worn is ironed - shorts, jeans, work clothes, possibly sheets, underwear maybe but daily you iron what you wear.  Those are layman's definitions.  I will iron clothes to work outside in.  I absolutely positively don't like wrinkles.  I feel out of sorts, messy and just not me if I am not ironed.  Probably due to my excessive and "heavy duty" ironing, I go through more ironing board covers than the light weighters do.  Daily do I iron and daily I do it in my underwear.  Please!  I am ironing the clothes I am about to put on.  It is nude ironing and has become an Olympic sport in my house.  Two things I look at on people; if their clothes are ironed, and if their shoes are taken care of.  So, don't worry I am not going to notice if you have hair sprouting forth from your ears like a willow tree nor will I notice if a booger is loose in your left nostril.  Back to the tampons.  Unfortunately, I am not done with that part of my reproductive life cycle yet!  Buying tampons yesterday I noted the rating system for absorbency; regular, super, super+, and stick a corn cob up your ass!  The feminine hygiene producers also put an explanation on their rating system (as though women throughout the world who go through menstruation every 28 days might not know!).  Regular=not much flowing.  Super=pieces of your uterus are falling out.  Super+=don't wear white pants presently.  And, stick a corn cob up your ass super++=might possibly need a blood transfusion.  I am doing my part to keep both industries alive!



My daughter turned 24 this week.  How is that possible!   I think about her everyday.  Sometimes I think about how much I love her, how I love who she is.  I pray for her and her husband throughout the day.  But on the day of her birth, I mostly thought about her being born - the real physical part of her being born straight out of the birth canal and into life.  Names are funny.  When I was pregnant with her, we had a mutt of a dog gotten from the humane shelter which we named Claire.  I have often scratched my head on why I chose to use a name I loved on a dog, and a sub par dog at that.  Shifting through baby name books while pregnant I kept coming back to the name Claire for a girl.  And yet, how could I possibly name my daughter Claire if my dog was also named Claire.  I envisioned a family Christmas photo with our new daughter and dog - in italic font would be the names Claire and Claire.  It just wouldn't work.   It's hard to name something that you don't know anything really about.  I mean, you haven't observed them visually, watched their behavior, found some physical trait that reminds you of something.  Naming a newborn is like boarding a bus not knowing where it is going but hoping it will take you where you want to go.  Aubrey was a great name too.  I mean who doesn't like the group Bread and their song, "And Aubrey Was Her Name"?  It was not a name heard frequently.  Yet, it was one of those names that would easily be heard and then interpreted as Audrey.  I knew an Audrey.  She had ruined the name Audrey for me which ultimately now was ruining Aubrey for me too.  Hannah was a Bible name.  She was the barren woman who while fervently praying in the temple for God to give her a child, was mistakenly accused of being drunk.  God did hear her prayer and gave her Samuel.  I liked the connotation of Hannah - someone who knew what she wanted and wouldn't let go of it.  No one was naming their kids Hannah at that time.  Perfect.  And, it could be spelled forward and backward - a bi-dexterous name:)  Now you can know the name you are going to name your unborn child, but it seems strange to say it out loud for the very first time as they lay your child on your chest.  The name is just bigger than them at that moment.  Hannah was born on her due date.  I am convinced that I ushered it in by eating sardines and drinking mineral oil the night before (mineral oil is an old wives tale said to start labor - sardines, I just like!).  Even though she was born on her due date, they think the date was off and she was actually early.  She came after 4 hours of back labor and about 5 pushes.  That is a small sentence, but don't misunderstand, the pain was not small!  When she appeared, post birth canal, she was bright red, gooey, and covered in black hair - not just her head either.  She had what they deemed preemie hair on her body.  It startled me as I wondered did I give birth to a human or monkey!  She was a little thing at 6 pounds 8 ounces.  I said her name out loud as I held her.  It seemed empty, like she didn't quite fill it yet.  How would that name fit her?  Strange it was to hold this human life outside of the womb now with a name, a face and fine soft black hair that covered her body.  Would she need electrolysis at age 3 and would she be shaving her legs by 5?  She had no clue how to hold the bigness of her name right then.  I, had no idea exactly how to be a mother.  It would be a lifetime of her becoming Hannah and me, mothering without ever finding the owner's manual.  She delighted me at one minute old and continues to at 24.  Hannah, I salute who you are!  By the way, the monkey hair fell off within a few days - my Planet of The Apes scare was over:)     



I love the scene in the movie, "What About Bob", where Bob (Bill Murray), an almost paralyzed multi-phobic schizo, full of bondage issues patient has driven his therapist crazy.  The therapist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), in a final attempt to get rid of his clingy patient Bob, takes him to the woods and ties him up, strapping a cooler of tree stump explosives to him.  Bob falsely perceives it as a sort of "death therapy" designed, he thinks, to help him get untied from the bondage issues that tie him down.  Sometimes it takes extreme measures or moments in our lives for us to clearly see us - for us to view truth that has been there all along.  We just aren't always ready at earlier times are we:)  Years ago, as a very young pastor's wife, I struggled with a particular bondage issue in my own life.  My issue was thinking I could somehow, by my words or actions change a heart, a situation or ultimately a person.  I poured huge amounts of time and energy in to the lives of people.  It could have been almost an addiction of sorts.  Definitely not healthy or a right view of our role in the change of others.  Then, I turned 30.  At 30 years of age I had an emotional and physical breakdown.  It caused me to look inward for more than a fleeting moment.  I was startled and disgusted at what I saw in me.  I had spent great amounts of time and energy outwardly so as not to focus on the choices I had made, the unhappy marriage I was in - which I couldn't seem to change.  It is very hard and extremely frightening to face ourselves - to go to those dark rooms in our hearts and minds.  Eventually I faced down the anger that I held with myself in realizing my life was the result of choices I made - no one elses but mine -both in regards to my own decisions, and my responses to other's choices.  I cried for 3 or 4 full days, literally not really getting out of bed.  When I did finally get up, I sat on the couch of a counselor to set some of my crazy loose.  Crazy you know comes out in chunks, never all at once, or at one time only in our lives.  We have moments of epiphany throughout our lives.  This was one of them for me.  From that pain forward I let that bondage issue go.  No more did I think I could fix anyone, a situation or someone's heart.  It continues to be freeing - simply to love and care for those struggling or hurt or weary but know that change of them or their situation is not in my control.  I suppose if I truly had the power to change situations, hearts or people, and did, then I would arrogantly place myself above God.  He too has the power, but withholds it allowing us to figure it out and realize we need help.  He gives us a choice to be changed or not, even though he knows what would be best. Sometimes He doesn't intervene but lets this world's laws of nature and humanity take effect.  He is God and knows best.  People's lives often don't make sense to me - either the choices they make or the pain that undeservedly they are experiencing (myself included in that statement as a "people" too).  Nothing I do can change that either.  I can though step aside and just hold out a cool cup of water and pray - not drawing attention to my care, or getting myself ahead of them, or giving trite or excessive words of encouragement that ultimately showcase me not them.  I think that's why Jesus warns us of deeds done where others see them.  Or praying out loud to be heard by others.  We are a tool, a drink, a respite - but we are not God. 



I love sharing food.  It's just always been something I've done.  Lots of times when I meet my daughter for a meal out, we end up sharing something - sushi, a sandwich, a Chinese dish.   It seems that I usually can't eat a whole meal anyway.  I also don't care if someone at the meal wants to eat something off my plate.  Most definitely I am not possessive of food.  Freely I will give you a bite, a taste or even a portion of what I have.  There are some people in the world who will not share their food at a meal.  They do not like when you ask for a bite, take a sip of their drink, or use their utensil.  Now I am not saying that you should willy nilly eat off of everyone's plate at meal time (that could cause some highly strained relationships if eating with a client, a co-worker, a marginal friend of sorts, even your mate who hates it!).  But, there is a freedom and a closeness that comes when you are willing to share what you have on your plate or in your glass with someone else.  I am somewhat a clean freak, and yet do not get easily grossed out if someone I know and am close to eats off my fork or puts their lips to my cup or straw.  Not in the least.  It's really a simple sort of goofy thing when you think about it - the effect of sharing food with someone.  But, it is a huge thing to me.   When I met my husband 7 months ago on our very first date we found out we both loved creme brulee.  We ordered it for dessert - one dish, two spoons.  I knew then that this man had the capacity to be open, not threatened and would freely give himself and love to me.  From that first date forward we have shared meals, coffee, dessert, silverware.  I don't mean that we together have eaten them with each other, although that is true too.  I mean, many times we order one coffee, one meal, one dish of ice cream.  We have never had to ask the other if it's ok to share.  It is some silent dance of love that we share between us.  To me, it's been a tender act of grace, closeness and love.  We love the same foods.  Our coffee preference is about the only thing we differ on.  He, loving regular unflavored coffee with a medium hit of sweetener.  Me, loving flavored coffee tinted tan with real cream.  More times than not he will share my cup of cream laced coffee in a restaurant even though he prefers it sweetened.  With me in mind, he has ordered his lattes with one pump instead of four to lessen the sweetness so to share it with me.  Last night we watched a movie.  He asked if I would eat some ice cream.  I shared his dish of mint chip.  In fact, he spooned it into my mouth off his spoon between his own bites.  Beautiful it is to me.  Natural it is to me.   We have another dance in this food sharing thing we do.  It's the dance of the last bite.  It would seem that we both try to give the other the very last bite of whatever it is we are sharing.  I though have found creative ways to always give him the last bite.  He giggles when he realizes that I have tricked him into eating yet again the last bite.  It's my gift and reminder to him that I love and value him and want to give him all that I have.  Even the last spoon of mint chip ice cream:)



If there is anything I circle the barn over, tout as a mantra, a desire, that I quest constantly for, it is being intentional.  The older I have gotten the more I have come to know by experience that life takes you sometimes where you don't want, never intended, and shoves things in your line of vision that seek to distract or side track.  I have wanted most of my life to know and understand God's intentional design for me, who I was made to be, celebrate it and live by it (that in and of itself is a life long journey).  I have done many intentional things in my life, and have many more that I want to do.  My husband is finding out that I am a bit relentless.  That relentlessness has actually gotten stronger through the years.  Maybe aging, which moves us closer to death, creates an urgency - like a runner stepping up his pace intentionally as he sees the finish line drawing closer.  Maybe too it's like the parable in the Bible of the lamp oil where some didn't prepare and ran out of oil thinking there was time.  They didn't prepare, weren't intentional, because they were caught up - drawn away by everyday distractions.  I can easily be drawn away by many things daily; house projects, people/family/friends, how I physically feel, my mood, the weather, work.  Simply stated, there are not enough hours in the day sometimes.  I love the word intentional.  The thought behind it as, on purpose or deliberate - by design (created by thought) is really quite powerful.  That is a clear and vivid picture of God's creation and love for us - very intentional, very relentlessly in love pursuit.  He though, unlike me, doesn't get distracted or sidelined ever.  I want to be intentional in how I think, how I push myself, how I carve out time for things that matter, how I prioritize to get to what I want to do in life ultimately.  I don't want day after day to come and go saying, "Tomorrow I will do that or finish that.  Tomorrow I will write."  My husband suggested last night that I let off the gas pedal from time to time - to let my mind and body rest.  I will intentionally have to work on that.



Bodies are strange are they not?  At the beach the other day I saw humanity.  Most were human anyway:)  That was really the only visible thread in terms of physical attributes.  If you've ever seen a skull of an animal or possibly a human, you know there is a bone structure of a skull.  Yet, when you stretch skin, attach the wonder of God's DNA magic, genetics... individuality occurs.  We all have bones and organs.  The difference in our looks lies in so many things (plastic surgery withstanding!) - genetics, how much fat we carry and where, how close our eye sockets are, the angle of our jaw bone, the shape of our skull, the shape of the cartilage on our nose, where our hairline starts, the pigment of our skin, the propensity to muscle tone or to mush, height, feet shape and size, the length of a neck, the thickness of our waist, the amount of body hair, the clearness of skin, the size of breasts, the length of a person's torso.  Speaking of which, I have a long torso for a 5'5" woman.  I can sit on a chair next to someone much taller than me and tower over them.  If I had a normal torso length can you imagine how long my legs would be for 5'5"!!  Giraffe length indeed.  There is a picture recently of me and my two sisters, birthed reproductively from the same loin, standing next to each other at my parent's 50th anniversary dinner.  Though there are slight similarities, we have many physical differences.  My oldest sister has a tiny head and narrow shoulders.  My middle sister, a large head and more olive colored skin.  I have big eyes and broad shoulders (Wow, doesn't that just make me sound so attractive!).  Our bodies are not only uniquely different from each other, but they have the capacity for great change.  I gave birth to one child, topping the scale at her birth at 150 pounds, having gained 25 pounds.  I still bear the stretch marks from that "change" 24 years later even though I weigh 116 pounds.  Look at the show, "The Biggest Loser" and you can easily see the amazing transformation that can take place in our bodies.  We are human silly putty!  I marvel at how we can all be humans but look so different.  How we all wear our bones and flesh so distinctively, so disparately.   



I am growing to hate Facebook.  Oh don't get me wrong, I think the creators of this social media phenom are highly talented, genius even.  Do I wish I would have been one of them, now benefiting financially from it - YES!!  It wasn't until about two and half years ago that I even had a Facebook page.  If it would have been up to me solely, I still wouldn't have one.  It was my nieces - one in particular, that decided I needed a Facebook page.  She set up my profile and got me started.  I really don't have a highly addictive personality.  Ok, maybe coffee - but I have gone without it recently for extended periods of time.  Maybe exercise - but that's actually good for you and I still don't spend hours and hours a day doing it either.   My friend Big D and her husband were over for dinner last week.  We enjoyed stories, laughter, a new salad recipe and a couple of bottles of good wine.  In the conversation we talked about some paint by number game on the internet that Big D is now addicted to.  Her husband shared that every spare moment she plays it.  I teased her that she was that way with Farmville and Facebook at one point (she still is!!).   My point is certain personalities are more addiction prone than others.   It doesn't make me better that I am not.  It's just that social media and games don't hold my attention.  When it comes to Facebook I might go a week without even checking it.  And, when I do check my feed - all my friend's links and posts that bleed onto mine, I usually shake my head and find myself getting disgusted.  This week I really have contemplated just getting off Facebook entirely.  I have grown increasingly weary of people posting every 2 minutes - posting things of a somewhat personal and intimate nature or things that seem ridiculous to me and probably most everyone else except to them.  People ask to be your friend on Facebook that you don't ever see or will never carry on a regular conversation with.  Most of whom you probably wouldn't go have a cup of coffee with if they lived in your town.  As many posts as I see from some people, I wonder what else they have time to do in their lives.  Why are we so fascinated with being able to know every detail of everyone's lives?  Why do we enjoy seeing pictures of people we went to high school with and giggling at how they have aged and we haven't?  It's far too easy to sit there and have one liner relationships with people we are mildly connected to, than to invest in real lives of people in the individual physical worlds we all live in.  I don't like trite, overly cute isms - much of what is on Facebook.  I rarely post anything.  I will only comment on someone else's posts when I have something legitimate to say - which is nearly never.  What has value in my life doesn't need to be validated in the eyes of others nor do I think they would always find my pictures, posts and life riveting.  I enjoy catching up with people who I haven't seen in years, but short of that....I can text, email or call those that I really care about.  I really am starting to hate Facebook. 



I like air conditioning on really hot days.  Thankful I am that I can escape the Midwest's high humidity.  Air conditioning makes for much better sleeping.  I do though miss the outdoors in the warm months when there is too many days in a row that require air conditioning.  After awhile I feel a bit claustrophobic - desperately wanting to feel the outdoor air through the windows, hear the sounds of summer.  I don't like air conditioning that is set so cold it drives me to my sweat shirt just to be comfortable.  Growing up I worked at our small town's bakery one summer.  We lived 3 miles from town so getting to the bakery early in the morning required riding my bike.  The morning ride was easy - cool even.  The afternoon ride home after working in a hot bakery washing dishes in the back where the big ovens had been running all morning, was brutal.  The heat just zapped your energy.  We had two window air conditioners in our old farm house growing up.  One, was upstairs in our mom and dad's room.  They kept it so cold that ice would form on the walls and if you kept your arms outside of the covers, touches of frost bite could be seen on the tips of your fingers.  The other air conditioner was in the dining room just off the kitchen.  They were big monster units that took a bevy of men to put in and take out.  They were loud and they iced over from time to time.  You froze to death in the room they were in, and could easily die from the stale hot air in the rooms that its coolness just couldn't reach.  I hate restaurants for lots of reasons, but one is that they are usually freezing cold in the summer.  Typically I have to wear a sweater or something.  I hate being cold when I am supposed to be relaxing and enjoying someone else having to cook my food and then serve it to me.  I'm sure the workers may be hot from bustling around actually working.  But, since without PAYING customers they wouldn't have a job, I think the temperature should suit the customers not the employees.  Just a thought.  When I lived just outside of Houston the temperature was in the 110 range and the humidity made the Midwest feel like the Antarctic in the middle of winter.  If it's 110 outside and in every air conditioned building it's even 75 degrees, that's more than a 30 degree difference.  It felt as if you were experiencing winter every time you walked indoors.  The shock of a thirty degree swing was alarming.  I spent most of my time running into a building to cool down and then about 15 minutes later, running back out to warm my core up. I used to go to a church where almost every Sunday the air conditioning blew directly on me to the point where invariably I would have to get up and either go to the back and sit, go to the foyer or move to the balcony.  Entering those years of perimenopause leading me, without collecting $200, directly to menopause, I occasionally need cold to combat my night sweats!  But only occasionally.  I hate winter and hate being cold.  Actually the other night, in the middle of summer, I turned my oven on and sat in front of it.  Air conditioning at work all day got me so cold I had to warm my insides up when I got home.  I am looking for a constant 74 degrees, no humidity inside and out..... perfect!



I was in my parent's woods today. That place of countless adventures I had as a kid.  I marveled standing there at the sights, the sounds, the trees, weeds, and logs.  There was no order to the woods.  The trees grew where they could get sunlight.  The weeds took up residence where they willed with one to pull them out.  The decaying underbrush or fallen tree just laid there, no one to necessarily clean it up. The disorderlyness strangely, was just as it should have been. No doubt stuff has grown and died over these many years, yet there was a familiarness like meeting an old friend separated from me for years.  I adventured there a lot as a kid.  The woods lay just through the pasture and field behind our barn.  In my younger exploring years we had cows in the pasture.  I loved to take my shoes off in the summer and run through the cow pasture en route to the woods.  Yes, you heard me - purposefully and freely through piles of cow manure, some still warm and fresh.  Why did I do that?  I don't know other than as a kid you have virtually no sense of ickiness, bacteria or even really disgusting.  It was absolutely wild and freeing.  Basically, it was farm fun.  City kids just wouldn't quite get it.   I smiled inwardly in the woods today introducing my husband and granddaughters to a place of deep peace, memory and experiences for me.  I did just what I did as a kid, imagined that the trees were magical and kind.  That they sort of smiled a gentle smile when folks enjoyed their world.  As I knelt by the outdoor makeshift grill my dad erected with cement blocks and various old grill parts, I saw the insect world.  Without people constantly intruding, they were free to live falling prey only to animals or birds or frogs who were higher up on the food chain.  I saw God in this place.  I knew that even though years had passed, choices had been made, life had been lived, God was still in those trees.  He was still the same.  He still whispered to me through the light filtering down through the trees.  The wheat field had been harvested and all that remained was a golden stubble.  The corn now well above my head flanked both sides of the ruts back to the woods.  I heard the locusts in the trees ushering in mid July and early August.  I remembered what a great life I had growing up - the magic of nature and God that I witnessed on a farm.  I remembered and felt it all over again today. 



I got a few questionable marks on my report card in conduct from kindergarten through high school.  I was a good student academically.  I just had things to say and loved to laugh when I probably shouldn't have.  Sass is word that probably describes a part of me.  Any of you remember Dorothy Hamill, Olympic skater just as equally famous not just for her athletic ability, but the hair cut that swept the nation aptly called, "the Dorothy Hamill".  It was a short, kind of bobbed, stacked sort of doo.  I had the Dorothy Hamill.  Since my aunt was a hair dresser I sat in the chair and imploringly asked if she would cut my hair in the Dorothy Hamill.  She did:)  There was something a bit sassy about that hair style.  When it got messed up a bit all you had to do was shake your head a few times and it would return to its short, bobbed, stacked sassiness.  It fit exactly who I was.  There is a picture of me kneeling in the front yard holding my cat Smokey (I was highly creative then too, naming him that because he was the color of smoke!), legs like toothpicks, pre-braces teeth, a face I hadn't grown into yet and that Dorothy Hamill cut.  I went to Adam's Cake Shoppe today to order a cake for my daughter and mom's birthday celebration next week.  Adam owns the place.  He is exactly what you would picture someone to look like that owned a cake shoppe - doughy, happy and full of life.  Sugar just makes you happy!  I love going there for two reasons; one, the cakes are amazing (and costly but worth it!) and two, Adam.  He sasses me up.  The minute I walk in the door we banter, we sass a bit, laugh a lot and just generally mess with one another.  He wasn't there today.  I missed his sass and the cake shoppe was just too flat.  Sass is that magic ingredient in life that makes things more pleasurable, more vivid, more real, more irreverent.  It's the salt of life that just makes everything more rich and flavorful.  Sass is the verbal equivalent to the sport of boxing.  You want to make direct contact, but really it's about the dance, the jabs, the give and take, the duck and slide.  I sassed a bit growing up with my parents - usually with a consequence.  I love people who have the edge of sass.  They seem to know squarely the seriousness of life, but play ball anyway.  There are several definitions for the word sassy - one means spirited and lively.  The other, a more negative connotation - rude and disrespectful.  I am using the word in the positive sense.  Sass is a way of grabbing life and being spirited and engaged in a lively sort of way - in actions, conversations, relationships.  It's a sort of sparring.  I don't have my Dorothy Hamill hair cut any longer.  I do though still have sass. 



Mowing the lawn today I created a diagonal pattern.  As I mowed I thought about all the blades of grass in the yard.  I thought about all the leaves in the tree in my back yard as I methodically made swaths in the green.  I can't even begin to count either the blades of grass or the leaves on the tree.  I thought about how God designed nature to be self perpetuating.  He made photosynthesis, nitrogen in rain and oxygen in the air as processes that support, feed and grow - leading to reproduction.  He created the things and the processes that flourish them.  He did not merely create inanimate objects, but in the mix created living things - walking, changing reminders of the Creator.  It led me to love.  This thing that likewise is alive and vibrant.  It too can support us, feed us and grow us.  Love, like the created plant life, is a visual of God the Creator and His character.  My husband said to me recently, "I adore you Lynn.  I simply and absolutely adore you."  I thought about romantic love.  It was something that had eluded me in life - in loving deeply someone who married another, in 25 years of a first marriage.  I saw this thing that God had created and longed for it - to experience love's photosynthesis, nitrogen and oxygen.  God heard my cry, my deep desire to experience something He designed.  I look at nature and all God gave it to flourish it, to perpetuate it, to display Himself in it, and I see His great love.  I just as strongly see it in the answer to my own heart's cry - given me by God to flourish me, to show me more of Himself through the magic of love.  It does perpetuate more love.  Nitrogen and oxygen really do flourish the soul:)



Having a conversation with my husband recently he used the words, "used to" in reference to something in his past - something that he could do or had in his past. I chuckled.  It seems as we age everything becomes "used to".  There seems to be a sort of "good old days" in a lot of areas of our lives.  I used to be a fairly fast runner, beating the fastest girl in high school.  Not now.  My fastest mile time is 7:30-8:00 minutes.   I used to be able to eat garlic by the tons.  Now I am in digestive peril if I smell it!  I used to be able to pull project all nighters.  Now if I do, my life is totally messed up for 3 or 4 days.  I used to have thicker hair and more of it.  Now it is fair to say my scalp gets sunburned easily.  I used to be highly flexible - still able to do the splits until my mid 30's.  Now my muscles are shorter and tighter and there is a several inch gap between my crotch and the floor when I attempt the splits.   I used to have collagen and estrogen in abundance.  Now I use a combination of spackling and wrinkle cream to fill in the ever widening craters.  My breasts used to be up a bit further on my chest.  Now gravity is way stronger than youth.  It used to be my head and body could keep up with each other.  Now my body loses on the home stretch many times.  I used to only have trouble seeing at a distance.  Now the words up close are not so clear either.  I used to see women my age and see the occasional chin hair sticking out.  Now I am that woman and run for the tweezers.  (BTW, my dear friend Big D has taken to having tweezers in her desk, purse and car for just such the occasion - brilliant!!)  I used to like winter.  Now I wonder how I will face it this year.  I used to take risks and not think about physical consequences.  Now when I climb a ladder I think what a fall would do.  It used to be I had lots of time before me.  Now I have more behind me than in front of me.  I used to say that I would fight age tooth and nail.  Now I wonder, is that even possible?



Saturday I ran to Ace Hardware for a few things we needed.  It was a supply run for a project we were in the middle of.  I also had to fill up the gas can to power the power washer that would be running most of the day.  I pulled up to the gas station and swiped my debit card on the pump enabling me to pay at the pump - like always.  I don't really frequent the inside of gas stations short of using the restroom occasionally while travelling.  Never really do I go in to buy a cup of coffee, a pack of gum, a king size candy bar, or a quart of motor oil.  Paying at the pump for people like me - those that want to pump and dash - is great.  It is also highly irritating for pump payers when the machine runs out of paper for a receipt.  It is one of my pet peeves in life.  Usually my irritation grows to Biblical proportions as I walk from the pump to inside the gas station to matter-of-factly ask for a receipt for pump 12 as, "your pump is out of paper!".   I do that on Saturday - disgusted that once again I have to go inside.  It's not the distance.  I can run miles so a small walk to the inside counter doesn't kill me.  The pump says, "Do you want a receipt?  Yes or No."   I say yes and stand with my hand below the receipt printer but nothing comes out!  Their system is not thorough or fool proof.  Standing in line behind a gentleman close to my age buying lottery tickets I again get a bit perturbed.  Already have I been slowed down twice!  He finished his lottery transaction and I sullenly and directly told the clerk I needed a receipt as it was out of paper.  This day I saved my normal, "you know people who like to pay at the pump pay at the pump for a reason - they don't want to come in!".  What is the point I tell myself on this particular day.  The lottery gentleman and I seem to walk outside towards our cars at close to the same time.  Since I withheld my paper tirade from the clerk, I turn to the lottery man and say, "That is my ultimate pet peeve - paying at the pump and no receipt printing.  If it's a trick by the gas station management to force customers inside in hopes they buy something other than gas, it doesn't work with people like me." He laughs and agrees, and explained that as a CPA he needs and loves receipts.  It too, he says, bugs him.  I go on to finish with a ton of sarcastic humor and sass, "In fact, it does the complete polar opposite in me. It makes it not want to buy gas here at all!"  I turn and get in my car as I hear him laughing no doubt thinking I am a bit sassy and him getting tickled over it.  If it says pay at the pump then I want to PAY AT THE PUMP receipt included. 



My daughter and son-in-law came for dinner tonight.  We had a great summer meal.  Topping it off with homemade apple pie (her favorite) and lots of laughing.  My son-in-law has a dry sense of humor and you have to listen to the comments he quietly interjects in conversations - both his own and others.  Though definitely her own person, my daughter shares my disdain of several things.  One of those things is my bewilderment, dislike, and mostly revulsion over those cement geese that people place as a porch or landscape decoration.  You know the ones that have different outfits to fit the season - a yellow slicker and hat, a gingham dress, flannel pajamas and a pink bikini.  I have through the years of driving around for my job, occasionally stopped and clicked a picture of a random person's porch - zooming in for Hannah's benefit at the cement clothed goose.  It's been my way of telling her I was thinking about her amidst the business of daily living - that ridiculous reminds me of her.  I am sorry if any of you possess one of the aforementioned geese.  Even more sorry, if you clothe it and have in your basement a Rubbermaid tub that houses its wardrobe.  Leftover pie in hand, they left after a closing standing-by-the-car conversation about people honking to express dislike in other people's driving skills.  Or, whether flashing your car lights on bright to express that dislike was nicer.  As they backed out of the driveway my son-in-law put his brights on and then followed it by rolling down his window and flipping us off.  We couldn't stop laughing. Perfect comedic timing!  Leaving the house shortly after their departure for our nightly walk, my husband and I return about 30 minutes later just as it is getting dark.  We see what looks like a goose in our yard.  Strange, but not unheard of as we live only 2 blocks from a river.  We stand in the street debating if it has moved.  A couple walking their dogs stop and say they went around the block trying to figure out if it had moved.  We tell them we live there and I confess to them that I think it might be a cement goose - a yard decoration.  First though, I ask if they like or own one.  They laugh and reply that they hate them too!   My husband and I strongly suspect Hannah and Brandon.  After some texts to her, she folds - confesses it was them.  In fact, she says after they drove away they waited for us to leave and drove around the block where they drove right by us on our walk (we are pretty much oblivious to anything except dogs chasing us on those walks - tuned in to only each other).  They went back and placed it triumphantly and distinctly in the center of the front yard.  I gave them an honorary funniest people in the family award for one day.  Don't tell them, but that prank is worth at least two or three days and a small travelling trophy:)



During the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years I got braces on my teeth.  I was given at birth the front teeth of the likes of Lauren Bacall (google her if you don't know what she looks like).  Besides the gaps in the front 4 teeth of my uppers, I was given an over bite.  It was also the summer my parents remodelled our house and added an addition to it.  The contractor's name was Leonard and he worked closely with a man named Dallas.  Now Dallas had sons.  He had quite a few sons.  And, none of them that I saw that summer were ugly.  I had a desire all my life to know stuff.  Now stuff is both relative and subjective.  At that time I wanted to know how to build things.  And, I had a huge crush on one of Dallas' sons.  Consumed I was with knowing exactly what Leonard was doing as he worked on our house.  There is no doubt looking back that I wasn't a normal kid (still am not).  Literally I followed Leonard everywhere watching closely how he held the tools, what he did with them.  I asked him questions and probably at 13 years of age, drove him a bit crazy and slowed him down some.  He though was patient and let me ask anything I wanted in the constructionie sort of things category.  There have been other things I have wanted to know.  Like, when a lady years ago who was part of a church we pastored was literally dying, I sat on her bed and asked her tons of questions.  She graciously answered; what is it like to know you have a few days to live, what can you see in dying that you don't and can't see in living, do you like people being open and frank with you, what do you do with regrets and does knowing time is limited put those in perspective, what do you feel about leaving everything you know and walking into eternity based on faith...  I wanted to know what she knew.  I wanted to see what she was seeing.  I wanted to understand better what she felt.  So thankful I am that she shared her emotions and thoughts with me.  As a young woman of about 24 with a child of 3 years old of my own I thought about aging.  I wondered what it really felt like to be 70 or 80.  One day I asked Ruth, an 80 something year old woman, to tell me what it felt like to be in her eighties.  I asked her what was good and what was bad about being her age.  She responded like she was grateful to be able to talk about it so frankly, "Well, sometimes I walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself.  I, for a brief moment wonder who that old lady is!  Then I realize that is what I look like which doesn't match in the least what I feel like on the inside.  On the inside I am young, still quick thinking, and feel and think the same thoughts and emotions of when I was young.  It's odd to feel your body slow down, but your insides to be the same - your thoughts.  I am really still 19."   I sat in the prison visiting my uncle who was serving a 12 year sentence for a sexual crime.  I wanted to know lots of things.  He didn't back away from my tough questions, my uncomfortable thoughts.  I wanted to know what he was thinking as he was in the middle of committing this crime.  Did he know he was doing wrong?  Did he know he would pay for this decision?  I wanted to know what led him to that day, that decision - what groundwork had he laid or someone close to him that made him choose that decision.  I asked.  He answered.  I have always wanted to know things - technical things, book things, hands on things, spiritual things, what people feel and think.  Really I just want to know so I ask.  I have found if you ask, remarkably most of the time people will answer.  For someone who always wants to know things, it's great that others seem to want to answer.   



Is there a user age rating system for swear words?  I mean, shouldn't there be some sort of age laddering system for being able to use swear words, and maybe even possibly certain phrases, and tones of voices?  There is alot of foot and bike traffic by our house.  Being on the corner is sort of like having a bleacher seat at Wrigley Field - you see all the comings and goings of joggers, bikers, skate boarders, hoodlum wanna-bees, dog walkers, kids en route to somewhere usually in herds or small gaggles.  I have noticed a small, usually three-some of boys that appear to be around 8-10 years old that hang in a small posse - sometimes riding bikes, other times, walking.  Always though are they boisterous, overly cocky for their age, far beyond their stage of life in usage of profanity and disrespectful to adults/other kids/dogs and the insect world.  Having witnessed these kids' behavior up close and personal, I lovingly refer to them as, "The Potty Mouth Gang". When I was 8 or 9 years old I too recklessly road my bike everywhere.  Though I had no posse nor did I even think about being disrespectful to adults.  Shit was the only swear word that I really heard growing up and it was used in a more farm related manner than hard core swearing.  Yeah, yeah I know I am telling my age by referring to the younger generation as being ingrates and that the world just isn't what it used to be.  The thing is though, I think there have always been potty mouthed kids.  I just wasn't one of them.  Now, I may have gotten a slight touch of the potty mouth in my middle ages, but then again refer to my theory of age appropriate language:)  Damien (leader of the Potty Mouth Gang, and name that I have given him for reference purposes) and I first ran across each other when my husband and I were out walking one night.  He was bossing his small gang around as they rode bikes near us.  Not liking what his subordinates were doing he began to (remember he is 8-9 years old) call them mother fuckers.  Moving from that phrase he liberally poured the word fuck into every sentence he was screaming at them.  Quite honestly, we just stared - momentarily awestruck at what we were hearing.  There we stood, two adults in this kid's line of vision as he went on a fuck rampage as an 8 year old. Our presence did not discourage or intimidate him at all.  A few days later The Potty Mouth Gang leader, Damien, went by our house alone on his bike.  My husband was in the yard and watched him.  This brazen little bag of sass said to him, "Whatcha staring at?  Huh, whatcha staring at?  Whatcha staring at?"   Tonight they rolled by as I sat out, coincidentally writing this blog about them.  A newer member with them, Rudy (I just thought he looked like a Rudy), who had not been fully indoctrinated into their disrespectful ways, smiled at me and cheerfully said "Hi!".  I gleefully responded "hi" back hoping that he might not be drug into the depths of all things Potty Mouth Gang related.  I half expect one morning to arise to a grade school printed F chalked onto my driveway.  I will though try to infiltrate The Potty Mouth Gang and find a way to talk with Damien (I think really his name is Landon) through a popsicle, offering to pay him to rake my leaves or asking him why he loves that word so much.  That kid needs a bar of soap and I think a lot of love.  I have both:)



I love America.  I feel privileged and humbled that for whatever reason I was born here.  I know that most of the world doesn't have the privileges, the excesses, the freedoms, the opportunities that we have available to us as Americans.  I have a flag holder, but don't have a flag on it.  I vote, most of the time, but this past fall I ran out of hours in the day and didn't make it to the polling center before it closed.  Freedom is good because it gives you choices and it's bad because it gives you choices.  Growing up in the 70's our household, like most others in America, jumped on the 1976 year of the bicentennial celebration band wagon.  We actually had an American Eagle sofa (were we cool or what!), one of those groovy milk cans painted black and embossed with yes, another American Eagle.  We flew a flag and painted all things red, white and blue.  It was akin to a year long 4th of July celebration.  Yesterday was the 4th of July.   We sat out in the duskish time zone waiting for the town fireworks display to start.  We waited and waited and waited.  Finally they started.  And, 14 minutes later they ended.  I am convinced that wherever they bought them had a buy one get another 4 free because there were numerous duplicates of some of the light designs in the sky.  There was no music, no real pomp and circumstances.  Start to finish it was a mere 14 pretty dismal minutes of a mediocre fireworks display.  I don't understand fireworks really.  I mean, what is the purpose?  What are they supposed to do for us?   What do they really signify and have they lost their true meaning over the years?  My dad never cared for fireworks displays and I don't ever remember being taken to sit out on a blanket at 10 p.m. to fight off mosquitoes.  I cared about it as a kid, but as I grew up I joined my dad in his lax approach to all things fireworks.  My oldest sister got a too near a cherry bomb and got burned on her back.  And, when my daughter was 2 she grabbed the lit end of a sparkler and closed her hand around it.  Our Fourth of July that night consisted of her crying most of the night with severe burns on the palm of her little hand.  I'm not a late night person so any event that begins after dark is not something that I have a deep longing for.  I continue to be puzzled with fireworks. It seems like such a waste, wrong time of day for me, and a bit over hyped for what you actually get - 14 minutes of light displays in the sky.  Why?  Can anyone tell me what fireworks really do for you? 



I own a sledge hammer.  Two in fact.  One is a bright yellow long handled sledge.  The other, a small handled one that I used when I sold real estate to beat the hell out of a sign post to get it in the ground when needed.  Just a couple of weeks ago my new husband and I tackled the basement.  When he moved in we put most things away, merging decorations, towels, dishes, etc….   But stuff that was storage, or things that we all just accumulate and move from place to place, we stacked in the basement next to my own unsorted pile of craps that needed to be sorted through post my own divorce.  We sorted , threw away, gave away to Goodwill and combined things like, pictures, books, old blankets, teaching materials, and eventually our tools.  For a girl, I have a decent collection of tools.  My first husband didn’t really know the top side of a hammer so when he moved out there was no real question that the tools stayed with me.  My new husband and I combined my containers of nails, screws, washers, electric nuts with his.  We joined our tool boxes into his much larger one orderly sorting screw drivers, socket sets, Stanley knives, wrenches into neatly organized tool drawers.  He was amazed at what I had.  He was a bit envious of my circular saw which was way nicer than his circa 1950 one.  He giggled that I owned 2 sledge hammers.  They came in handy when not too long after that basement clean up job we tackled tearing down the sun room off the back of the house.  We used those sledges during demolition, along with both crow bars, both hammers, vice grips, one of his drills and a borrowed Saws-all.   Day two of the destruction, as I perched on the roof, Saws-all in hand ready to separate the roof lines, I smiled in pure contentment to be outside doing manual labor right alongside  my husband.  We made a great team  - talking through how we thought we should do the next step, cleaning up after each section we tore down, constantly checking that we caught as many nails as possible and collecting them in a bucket, keeping the tools orderly and accessible and helping each other when we needed a hand.  We were home wreckers of sorts those couple of days – destroying the old, rotting, ugly to make way for new, beautiful, created by purpose and design.  I cheered as I powered through the first roof section and then kicked it loose from above to see the rafters fall below.  We both cheered.  Two people who had a handful of tools, the desire to change ugly to beautiful, no real knowledge of how to dismantle a structure from a roof line had succeeded.  When the last corner beams fell Doug and I were ecstatic.  We had done yet another project together in peace and harmony, with actual enjoyment in being with each other.  Both of us had come from hard, difficult and ugly places.  We had combined tools, belongings, and desires and were building a life together into a thing of beauty - just like our soon to be finished patio.



I love coffee!  Read my blog post from August 2010 (Cup O’Joe) and you can tell I relish a good cup of smooth coffee with real cream in it to color it tannish.  I’m picky about what brands and types of coffee I drink.  We have a Keurig coffeemaker at home.  Besides himself, my husband quips it’s the next best thing he brought into the marriage!  My love of coffee and cream dates back to Puerto Rico when I was 16 years old – that’s where I obtained my love of the breve’.  As I have aged my digestive system seems to like coffee less and less.  I have charged full boar past the uncomfortableness it creates in me and drink it anyway.  Sometimes laying in bed before fully ready to get out of the covers, my mouth will start salivating as I think about  a smooth cup of Jamaican Me Crazy or Southern Pecan laced with cream.  It can help me arise a bit faster if only to have that smoothness hit my tongue!  Some years back I had some food allergy/insensitivity testing done.  Wouldn’t you know coffee was on my list of things I should stay away from (I had suspected it!).  So were blueberries, wheat, tomatoes, rye, cheese, milk, eggs, corn, cashews, peanuts, cocoa, strawberries, yeast, mushrooms,  lemon, pepper, cantaloupe, peas, crab, sesame, gluten and almonds.  All of those things I love – especially anything lemon flavored, peanut butter, a bowl of strawberries or blueberries, a fresh loaf of homemade bread, a cantaloupe from my dad’s garden or a BLT made with a fresh tomato.  I gave most of those things up for a time, and then sporadically would eat them.  Back to feeling miserable and crappy, I stopped coffee 3 days ago and wheat and cheese and as many of the others as I can tolerate giving up.  Day one I thought my head would implode from pressure as it systematically throbbed to the words, “I want coffee!  I want coffee!  I want coffee!” (sung in a 5 year old nearing a tantrum voice).  Having a few food issues is somewhat indicative of simply the aging process.  I mean really think about what you could eat in your younger years compared to what you can eat now both in quantity and types of foods.  I often laughed when visiting nursing homes at how bland the food was they were served.  Now I totally get it!   Applesauce and mashed potatoes sound like they might go down easier than pasta with garlic!  My headache subsided on day 2 of my coffee detox.  Now it’s just my heart that is longing for a cup of smooth coffee and cream.  I do notice an improvement in how I feel.  I do not though, like this aging thing – gravity, intolerance to foods, sleep disturbances and a longer recovery time after exertion!  I tried really hard this morning lying in bed to conjure up the same desire for a cup of green tea – hold the caffeine.  It didn’t work nor did it make me want to leave the bed to start my day with it.  When do you think this longing will subside?  Why can’t I just dislike coffee?  It would  make it so much easier.