Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Where has this year gone?

Where has this year gone?  I now sit here on December 30th; puzzling over where the year went. My mom & I saw a sign many years ago at a restaurant in Maine which read “be thankful for every dull and boring day for they are precious.” I believe that particular sign could sum up this past year for me, with a few exceptions. There was a wedding in my family, a wonderful summer vacation with close friends and family and two more weeks of vacation with family and friends over the holidays and a UCONN basketball game (go Lady Huskies). But again, I ask where did this past year go? I have to go to my calendar to remember… let’s see.  The year began cold and icy, and remained snowy for most of the winter. I was certainly glad to see spring come. As I looked through my calendar I saw some weekend trips, a couple of concerts and campfire sings. Frankly, my calendar is filled with the “minutia” of life and not much else. I am grateful the big occurrences this year were happy for me for LORD knows there were plenty of discouraging, difficult times for my friends and acquaintances.

I've bought my shrimp and meatballs for New Year’s Eve dinner, I do love finger foods. I can’t say I've done any soul searching for resolutions or goals for 2015. This post makes one more post to this blog than my highest number in 2012, and I posted 5 times to my new blog “5&2”, so overall I've done better in 2014 than I have before.  I remember in March posting about not giving into fear and making certain I am only using one electronic device at a time. I am doing better at not dividing my attention when speaking with others, although not totally there.  And as for not giving into fear, let me sum it up by saying… “I haven’t finished the song yet.”  In other words, this continues to be a recurring theme and a work in progress.

If you were to ask me, right at this moment “what do I want to do in 2015” I would answer something like, write more, read more, enjoy the little things of life more often, and not give into irrational fear. I will leave you with a portion from August’s post “Loving green because of white” which sums it up pretty well.

“….. I want to be able to look at difficult situations as a way of affirming simple day to day gifts, not just pains in my neck.”

Happy New Year everyone, may you be blessed with happy times and minutia!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pluralistic Ignorance

Here is my post on voting. Next Tuesday is voting day in America and I will be voting. I always tell people the reason I make certain I vote is because my belief is if you want the right to complain about the government you need to be responsible and vote. If you aren't planning on voting, shame on you there are many places in the world where voting is not allowed. Now I sound like a mother telling her child to eat liver because, “there are starving children in the world.”

My brother is running for a state office and as all candidates, is hopeful of winning his election. He is running against an incumbent, but does have name recognition on his side. This however is not what has spurred me to write, but does play a part. What spurred me was a six o'clock news story about how a major supporter of one independent candidate has withdrawn his support from the candidate giving it to one of his opponents and is encouraging other to do the same. No biggie right, people change support all the time? However, the reason behind this move is what was so stunning, the reason is to throw support to an apparent party underdog to beat the other opponent. It wasn't for a difference in opinion, it wasn't because the supporter felt the other person was better suited for the job, NO! It was simply to attempt to ensure the other candidate did not win. Those common folk who were switching their allegiance even confessed that they felt their first choice was the better choice, but were not convinced he could win.

Enter pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic Ignorance is one person acting a certain way because they believe that is what the “social norm” is, even though they privately reject the “social norm,” not realizing there are others who also reject that norm, but also think they are alone in this belief. This is my simplified understanding of the phrase and not the “technical” definition. In regards to the election mentioned above, I wonder how many supporters of the independent believe this person is the best person for the job, but because of “polls” and “opinions” are convinced he is going to lose? When truth be told, there are enough believers out there, who if they voted their own way, their own opinion, might win the election for this person.

As I look around at the world I have come to recognize many instances of pluralistic ignorance. On TV, at work, in the newspaper, in faith-based organizations...etc. People who say they believe a certain way, but act another. So here is my decision regarding this Tuesday's election. I am not going to cast my vote because of party affiliation, or because I need to vote the way (I believe) peers in my social circle vote. I am going to cast my vote for the people I feel are best suited to the job, regardless of whether they win or not. In regards to referendums and bond issues I am going to vote the way I believe is best for the state, regardless of what polls and news stories state. I encourage everyone else to do the same, especially vote!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Casseroles & Collegues

I just put the finishing touches on a casserole and slipped it into the oven, yum. The weather has cooled enough for me to be hankering for warm, oven baked food such as roasted meats and casseroles. The other night I made stir-fry; I cook in the summer, but not like I do come this time of year. I eat soup year round but come autumn and winter you will find me making a pot of soup virtually every Sunday afternoon. However, I'm not going to talk about my cooking habits, rather I wanted to share my thoughts on people's eating habits and work styles.

Many years ago I was talking with a HR director of a large employer, who in the course of conversation mentioned that she often asks interviewees how they eat; do they eat one food at a time, mix it all together, are they a slow or fast eater...etc. Over the years this question has stayed with me and two nights ago as I was mixing chicken with green beans, onions, garlic and green pepper in a stir fry pan it returned. Per usual, I “Googled” eating habits and work; needless to say most of the articles were on how badly we tend to eat at work, so back to searching. I struck gold when I searched for eating habits and work styles. I came across a fun little article by “Workopolis” that reviewed what each meant. I just have to share:


Fast eaters
Disorganized and lacking focus, fast eaters can be unsure of what is a priority. Fortunately we’re also known as “productive powerhouses and excel at finishing projects.”
Slow eaters
These people tend to thrive with routine but can be stubborn. Savoring their food indicates they enjoy life’s experiences and put themselves (and their careers) first.
Enjoys trying new food
This is an indication of someone who could excel in a creative position because they enjoy trying ideas that challenge the status quo.
Someone who orders without even looking at the menu
Never mind that this comes across as seriously snobby, it can also be a red flag that someone doesn’t like to embrace change—a major problem in the business world! Asking questions about the menu, on the other hand, shows open-mindedness and a thoughtful nature.
People who mix foods
These folks will take on a lot of responsibility effectively at work but will have trouble prioritizing what should be finished first.
People who eat foods one at a time
Methodical and detail-oriented are the trademarks of people who eat foods one at a time. But beware—these people can also be inflexible at work and set in their ways.
People who cut meat all at once
I was totally baffled by this, but apparently there are people who cut up their meat all in one shot before eating. What they lack in dining etiquette, however, they probably make up for with in-demand jobs skills. These people tend to be precise, logical thinkers, and are well-suited for highly analytical positions like engineering, accounting, or IT.

Takes a long time to order
Someone who never settles for ‘just ok’ and is driven by the creative process rather than the end goal. Despite that taking a long time to order sounds seriously indecisive to me, they are often the leaders of projects.
I saw my self in this article and chuckled. Most who know me would agree I fit the description of those who “mix” their food, enjoy new foods, and take a long time to order. As for being a fast eater, it all depends and that has changed over the years (I'm not quite as disorganized and can be quite focused) I doubt I will ever not want to mix my food, or be able to quickly order, for if I'm one thing it's creative and have difficulty prioritizing.

Do you see yourself in these? I would be interested in knowing how accurate this portrayal is. You never know when you might find yourself out to eat with a stranger. If this article is true you'll sound like Sherlock Holmes or better yet, you will know if you can work with them in the future. Have to go, my casserole is coming out of the oven, and I have the makings for soup, let the creativity begin.... but where do I start?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Being Normal but not the Norm

Back a few years ago I had thought about writing a book called “The rants of an insanely normal woman.” I had come to the conclusion that despite all my idiosyncrasies I was for the most part “normal.” However, upon further introspection I realized I may be normal, but I am not the norm, and can be thoroughly grateful of that fact.

In my opinion, (which is why it's posted on this site,) society has some fairly strange ideas. I was told recently by a good friend, that “normal is just a setting on a clothes drier.” What's funny about that is when I looked at my drier AND washer, neither had a “normal” setting. The closest I could find was “Regular” on the washer! I say all of this to say, really folks, what is “normal” in today's world?

On the other hand, I think it's easier to define “norm” than “normal.” A definition I found from Princeton says: “Social norms are the behaviors and cues within a society or group. This sociological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.” By stating there is no such thing as “normal” we need to accept the fact that social norms are cultural, and people who claim to be “counter culture” in America are now “the norm.” 

I really dislike politics, especially when people become sectarian about it. Notice I didn't use the word “partisan” because that would denote someone being a dyed in the wool (you fill in the party.) I am fine with people who hold strongly to their personal political and cultural leanings. I can appreciate those who are clear in their views and opinions, I believe...... everyone has a right to be wrong, including me. I've heard the word “tolerance” thrown around a great deal, and how those who don't agree with a certain viewpoint are “intolerant.” I just don't understand how someone who claims to be tolerant; vehemently so, can even conceive of calling someone “intolerant.” I mean, isn't calling someone “intolerant” being a bit intolerant yourself? Why can't we be civil and understanding about differing opinions? Why can't we politely attempt to persuade someone toward our viewpoint without resorting to name calling, and then be willing to agree to disagree when needed?

Okay, so what started all of this was an off handed question, which then morphed into an informal survey of people at work. My answer to the question, was obviously not the “norm” and I was blatantly in the minority as others were polled. Although all done in good fun and no offense committed, I was reminded of being normal, but not the norm in this situation. There are many social norms in today's world that I do not adhere to because I have personally held beliefs that dictate my thoughts and actions. One of the biggest ones for me is, just because the majority believes it, doesn't mean I should. The other.... everyone has the right to be wrong. Ya know come to think of it, after writing all of this I've decided some folks should probably be approached in the “delicate” cycle, since on my drier... there is no normal and I'm okay with that.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A plant out of place

People often talk about what is their favorite season is, but when I’m asked I have difficulties deciding.  I know I don’t like really cold, cold or hot, hot.  Most likely the best answer I can give is, I like late summer to autumn, the best.  As I left my house this morning and drove to church I got thinking about how beautiful all the wildflowers are, which is why I like this time of year.  Last summer I let my “Queen Anne’s Lace” go to seed resulting in a beautiful crop this year. I have lovely Black-eyed Susan cultivated the same way. Even though I have a background in horticulture, I don’t like gardening as a rule. I prefer natural beauty over cultivated to be perfectly honest. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a well groomed and maintained formal garden, but there is nothing like a field of Indian paintbrush, Queen Anne’s lace or Lupine to brighten the cloudiest of days.

Last weekend I went to the town recycling center with my mom. While there she discovered this lovely little plant growing in gravel beside a dumpster, and made me dig it up so she could take it home to her garden. She later found out it was called “butter & eggs.”  What is so intriguing about this plant is that where it was, it was considered a weed, however when planted in my mother’s garden it became a plant of honor. Many years ago the nurseryman I worked for taught me his definition of a weed; it’s a “plant out of place.” Given the right location a plant of no distinction will be venerated by a gardener. Grass is detested in a garden, a scourge; however I went to college with people who were majoring in the cultivation and care of grass for lawns and golf courses. People spend lots of money every year on grass seed and fertilizer; not to mention “lawn weed killer.”  Dandelions are one of those “weeds” people fight with in their lawns, yet how many children have brightened their mother’s day by bringing them a cheery bouquet of those yellow sunbursts. I remember my father on his hands & knees picking dandelion greens for dinner with his pocket knife, yum. There’s a robust crop of violets in my lawn that greet me in the spring with lovely lavender blossoms.

It’s all about time and place, how many noted Americans had humble starts? Abe Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Sacajawea, and Rosa Parks:  all common folk until they were in the right place and have been given a place of honor in American History. You ever feel like a weed? Just remember, in someone’s garden you are a plant of great honor, even though you may feel out of place.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Loving green because of white

Anyone who has read my stuff knows I can whine; I can grouse with the best of them. I was just out mowing my lawn, which like doing dishes I have to psych myself up for, but while mowing the thought came to me “do I love green, because of white?”  Do I appreciate things more because of their opposites? You may be shaking your head wondering what I mean about green being the opposite of white: green as in grass & leaves / white as in ice and snow.

I’m thinking my little nugget for this blog post is I want to be able to look at difficult situations as a way of affirming simple day to day gifts, not just pains in my neck. I want to learn, deep down inside that the reason the days are shorter in the summer are because a summer night brings relief from the heat while winter days get longer allowing the sun to heat a frozen earth. I want to remember the reason I love the sound of peepers in the spring is because of the silence of snow cover as everything hibernates. 

I often take for granted day to day things unless I don’t have them. I don’t think about turning on a light until I am without power or checking email until I’m without internet. I don’t think about being warm until I am cold. Life seems to be full of little inconveniences lately and I've been whining, but the question I started with “do I love green because of white”, I pray stays with me.  Whenever I am faced with life’s little troubles and struggles I hope to remember it, to remind me… without work I wouldn't appreciate rest, without hunger I wouldn't appreciate food, without rain I wouldn't appreciate sunshine and without white I wouldn't love green.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Rain

It's raining outside my door tonight. I'm not able to sit on the deck with my laptop and guitar, but that's really okay because as much as I love being outside, I love hearing the soft gentle sound of rain. There is a rumble in the distance, but not so close that I have to close the windows, but close enough to remind me, these are the wonderful sounds of a summer night's rain. Many evenings when I get home from work I feel compelled to go out to mow the lawn or pull weeds in my garden; compelled to the point of feeling guilty if I don't. “Make hay while the sun shines” the old adage goes, but what about simply relaxing in the warmth of summer? And while some complain about rainy days, I enjoy the reprieve it brings from all the outdoor work that can consume a body.

Late last night it began to sprinkle, just as it was time for Logan (my dog) to go out for his bedtime walk. I knew it was sprinkling before I stepped outside, but made the decision to not bother with an umbrella, instead turning my face skyward to marvel at the shimmering drops as they fell through the beam of my outside light. Granted when it's a cold rain I tend to pull my hood over my head and lean forward, which may be why the warm gentle rain of last night was so enjoyable. I could watch, unencumbered by heavy clothing as the rain fell; gently rustling the leaves and brushing my cheek.

Being a camper for my entire life, I enjoy the sound of rain on canvas and now on the roof of my camp trailer. There was however one rainstorm I did not completely enjoy. I was in my early twenties, tenting with friends (who after that trip became some of my closest friends) on Mount Desert Island, Maine. I will not bore you with details but sum it up to say we awoke to wet sleeping bags, I then lost the brakes on my car, which forced us to remain the entire day in the rain soaked tent. It was Memorial Day so no garage was open until the next morning. Needless to say, it was a “bonding moment” and every other challenging experience we have had as friends is held up in comparison to that particular day, including a storm in the mountains of Lesotho, Africa.

The weatherman says it is going to rain tomorrow as a front moves across the state. I feel a bit sorry for the vacationers who were planning on going to the beach, but hopefully they will find pleasure in sipping coffee overlooking the storm tossed ocean or take time to sit on the porch of their camp listening to the rustle of the leaves being kissed by the rain. Museums are wonderful indoor distractions for raining afternoons, and there is nothing like a good book, afternoon nap or rousing card game to take time and enjoy. Regardless, the greens look a bit “greener” and the grass is standing taller. Summer doesn't stay long here in the north, so make certain you enjoy every moment of it; stop and listen to the sound of a summer rain.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Living the dream... in part

I'm an outdoor person, I love camping, fishing, traveling, sitting outside beside a fire...etc. Most of my winter pictures are outdoor shots, even though I don't like being outside much during those months. Now, I have this dream, which combines my creative writing side and my love of the outdoors. My dream is to someday be writing songs and blog posts from the front porch of a little house on the ocean. Now, given the rate of my exposure to those who would make me a full time author or composer this pipe dream seems a little “packed solid in the pipe; smoldering,” meaning not likely. But today I decided to live at least part of this dream. I took my laptop out to the table and chairs on the back deck of my house, overlooking my woods. And now, here I sit happily typing away, swatting at mosquitoes (better go get the bug dope) wondering why I hadn't thought of this before.

Dreams are funny things, aren't they. I get a picture in my head of how something should be and am unable to see past it. Oh I can talk a good talk about making small differences in people, and how even the smallest gesture is huge (God delights to use the insignificant – see my other blog “5 & 2” on John 6:9), but when it comes to writing, and I mean both music and blogs, I battle with the feeling of “why bother your audience is small, who do you think you are?” Please someone tell me I am not alone in this feeling. I admire those who can persevere; living part of a dream and pursue the rest over time. My personal life verse is taken from Esther 4:14, “... for such a time as this.” I believe God spoke this verse to me many years ago as an explanation and encouragement, knowing I would need to be able to look at the small stuff through HIS eyes, not my own.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs I want to encourage you to join me in making a commitment to live at least part of your dream, while pursuing the rest. I think I'm going to make a point of charging up my laptop battery, and drag out my guitar so I can sit on my deck writing; living part of my dream. No matter the size of my audience or the condemning voices in my head. If my only readers are my friends and only the wild turkeys in my woods hear me sing I will persevere and pursue... for who knows who will see and hear what I bring to the kingdom, for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)

Okay time to go in, the mosquitoes are getting quite thick. They are not a part of my dream!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Smelling Summer

There is nothing quite like summer in Maine. Many people love to come to Maine as was evident this past weekend with a 12 mile plus back up coming out of the state. I counted myself very blessed to call Maine home, and even though I am “from away” I was taught at an early age to love the “Pine Tree State.” There are a number of “hot spots” here, Bar Harbor, the Southern Maine Coast, the Belgrade lakes, Moosehead and Baxter State park. I have learned there are generally two types of people who visit Maine, those who love the ocean and those who love the woods. My siblings are good examples of this for my brother, were he to live here would have a house on the ocean. My sister however does not feel her visit is complete without a pilgrimage to Mount Katahdin; regardless of where she is staying in this big state. I am a mixture of the two; a product of parents who split their vacation time between the ocean and the woods (although I am admittedly, more inclined to ocean.) I have vivid memories of days spent in Lubec and others of moose watching at the base of Mount Katahdin.

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and Campobello Island are good places to go if you like both woods and salt water, for there the “...deep-voiced neighboring ocean... answers the wail of the forest.” (H.W. Longfellow, Evangeline) The smell of spruce, moss, wild roses and lupine mingle with the smell of salt, clam flats and fog. Many people do not like the smell of clam flats, comparing it to the smell of manure (and that is being gentile!) But like the taste of Moxie, you need to be “raised” with it to appreciate it. My father had a great deal of influence on me, for I remember as a young child when crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge into Maine my father would roll down all the windows; breathe deeply and remark on how clean the air was. Even now, as I cross the bridge I open my windows and breathe deeply all the while thinking of Daddy.

This entire post is the product of my ride to Connecticut last week. It was a hot, steamy night inland, but as I neared Portland, I saw and felt the fog as my nostrils filled with the glorious scent of salt water and wild roses. I love that smell, for it is Maine to me, the only thing missing was the spruce. Often we are encouraged to take time to smell the roses, referring to taking time; slowing down. But I want to encourage you to simply smell. Barbecues, flowers, freshly mowed grass, trees and bushes, rocks as they are heated in the sun, pavement and new tar. As you drive through your day, roll down your windows and breathe deeply, smell summer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Evanescent Musing

I'll admit, I'm a weirdo when it comes to language. The older I get the worse I get about words, spelling and grammar. The other night I was watching a documentary on the Royal Family and someone used the word “Anachronistic” when speaking of the pomp and pageantry that so often accompanies official functions. I loved the word “anachronistic” and since my muse is quite evanescent, I thought I would take time to write about “big” words. I'll add the definitions at the end, so you don't have to look them up, but humor me if you will. In 2013, Wayne State University published a list of the top 10 words worth reviving. Of these words I've chosen my favorites. So here goes my attempt to use them in this post.

I dislike buncombe, and persiflage, although I'll admit I'm given to persiflage when with my friends. I don't enjoy listening to those who natter, which is probably why I don't listen to news programs or political forums. I find myself wishing to dragoon them to loftier plains of precise speaking as they attempt to winkle my sympathies. Unfortunately, I consider most news and public speakers Troglodytes, hence my penchant toward not watching the nightly news; as that gives me the fantods. I know I can be mawkish about the English language and may be perceived as chelonian and anachronistic in today's world.

Phew, there is my attempt, the only word left on the list from Wayne State is Cerulean, I'm just not certain how to use this word. It is a beautiful word and I like having cerulean colored clothes, but.... I guess I just used it. I did use a couple of others because I liked them, hopefully you won't consider my offering simply nattering. Either way, I hope this foray into the world of archaic words inspires you. One last parting thought, don't let the troglodytes give you the fantods; keep looking up into the beautiful cerulean sky.


Anachronism. something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time
Evanescent: soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.

Wayne State University's 2013 top 10 list of words worth reviving:

Buncombe. Rubbish; nonsense; empty or misleading talk. 

Cerulean. The blue of the sky.

Chelonian. Like a turtle.

Dragoon. To compel by coercion; to force someone to do something they'd rather not.

Fantods. Extreme anxiety, distress, nervousness or irritability.

Mawkish. Excessively sentimental; sappy; hopelessly trite.

Natter. To talk aimlessly, often at great length; rarely, it means simply to converse.

Persiflage. Banter; frivolous talk. 

Troglodyte. Literally, a cave-dweller. More frequently a backward, mentally sluggish person.

Winkle. To pry out or extract something; from the process of removing the snail from an edible periwinkle.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Opinions & Snakes

I've been absent from writing lately as I have been otherwise occupied and not “felt” the desire or need to write. However, on my way home this evening I was listening to “worship” radio and began to think about what really constituted a “worship” song. While ruminating, the thought struck me “you need to write about this.” However while booting up the computer and getting my supper ready, I became aware of a much larger topic I needed to write on.... being opinionated!

Lately, I've come to discover just how opinionated I am and vocal with my opinion at times. I went to Webster's to look up this word and its meaning. I was dumbfounded to say the least and a wee bit convicted. Webster's defines "opinion" as a noun meaning “View; belief; conviction (good, right?) However, the adjective form of the word (opinionated) is defined as “Bigoted; prejudiced,” OUCH! To be a bigot, you must reach the point of being intolerant. So a question - have I indeed become intolerant by holding strong opinions?

I often say in regards to others “everyone has the right to be wrong, including myself,” and I believe this statement. Everyone has the right to hold an opinion, and tolerance comes when I'm willing to hear the person out; respectfully consider their view, and whether or not I agree in the end, not take offense. So okay, maybe I'm not a bigot, however.....While looking up “opinion” the pages fell open to “supercilious,” an adjective meaning “disdainful; contemptuous; arrogant.” (It's amazing how GOD directs even in non biblical reference books!) Now, I am more than a wee bit convicted, for I fear I may have left the shadowy realm of being opinionated and entered the dark world of supercilious. 

I like the word supercilious, not because of its meaning, but because of its sound and the picture it paints in my mind (I like descriptive words.) When I say the word , “super-ccccilllll-ious” I hear the hissing of a snake, as it slithers through the garden of my thoughts and emotions. I can hear how sinister it is to be disdainful, contemptuous and arrogant. And similar to a snake, it can hide beneath the flowers and statues of my subconscious. I am reminded of how insidious these feelings can be, and just as tempting as the snake was in Eden. While I hold strong views, beliefs and convictions; guideposts for my life, I pray against becoming arrogant, contemptuous and disdaining of others in my heart. I'm not sure how the snake enters, but I don't want that black, tongue flicking, venom spitting creature in my garden! As always this is my opinion, respectfully submitted for your enjoyment, whether you agree or not.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Small World

I am amazed whenever I look at the “stats” for this blog, specifically where my readership is from. I know I have readers here in the U.S.; but what amazes me is readers from the other side of the globe. I want to make a “shout out” to my international readers, thank you for reading!!!

This past Sunday was Easter and I had the honor of opening the church services at a friend's campground for the summer. What a glorious day, and indeed an honor to lead! I can't tell you the entire sermon, because I got caught up in a variety of thoughts based on some of the points the preacher made and one in particular has come to mind after seeing where my readers are from.

Have you ever felt “small”? I know I have whenever I have met impressive people or stood beneath tall buildings. The minister on Sunday talked about how when you go up a thousand feet in the air people look very small. Or when you fly and look down 12,000 feet you can't distinguish cars, much less people and tall building look like toys. I've heard earth described as a “little blue marble” when viewed from space. If we were to fly to the nearest star, the earth would simply be a point of light on a sheet of black. The scripture that comes to mind for me is “...what is man that Thou art mindful of him...” For our God lives outside the realm of space and time. We are small! And yet God takes notice of each one of us, knows us individually. He knows the length of our life, the number of hairs on our heads, our comings and goings, everything about us God knows and cares about. Standing here on earth, I feel disconnected from others. So many miles separate us and oceans divide the continents, but pull back up into space and we see how small a planet we live on. When I stand at the beach looking out to sea, it is hard for me to imagine someone standing in Europe looking back, it is so far away and yet in God's eyes we are up close and personal.

I guess where I'm going with all of this is first, I am overwhelmed with the thought of the God of the universe taking thought of me personally. I am one of millions living on this small speck in space and yet I am on His heart and mind every day, all the time. If God takes notice of someone so small, who am I not to acknowledge His omnipotence and greatness? Secondly, I want to take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge everyone who takes time to read what I write. It is humbling to know there are readers in Russia, the UK, Latvia, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia, Germany, Poland and France in addition to my readers from the United States. The internet has certainly brought us closer, but not as close as we are to our Heavenly Father's heart. It is good to feel small and loved largely!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Child of the manger

On the church liturgical calendar tonight is Maundy Thursday. The name "Maundy Thursday" is derived from the Latin word “mandatum” meaning "commandment." It is the Thursday before Easter, observed in the Christian Church as a commemoration of the Last Supper. But history lesson aside, while I was driving home I happened to flip on my CD player to see if there was a disc in there. Low and behold the last CD I was listening to was the Simple Truth Christmas CD “Child of the Manger.”  It happened that the song coming on was the title cut, and that got me thinking once again about the angels and their thoughts regarding the next four days.  So here is a summary of my thoughts and reflections, my Easter devotion so to speak.

The Angels, here was the group who sang Messiah’s birth 33 years earlier to a group of lowly shepherds on the plains of Bethlehem, standing powerless as they watched Jesus, Son of God, sorrowful to the point of bleeding sweat in the garden, betrayed by one of his close friends, beaten beyond recognition and hung on a cross to die. “Glory to God in the highest, peace, goodwill toward men” was their song of praise to the God of the Universe, creator of all things, who had become flesh to dwell among his creations, but there was no peace or goodwill at this time; heaven was silent as the angels stood in sorrow, gazing down on Calvary powerless to intervene.  All it would have taken was a word from Jesus and all heaven and earth would have been moved for this one man, but He didn't speak. There is an old hymn, which I want to share the refrain of:

He could have called ten thousand angels.
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
 But He died alone, for you and me. (Ray Overholt, 1958)

However, we all know that was not the end…..

Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, the angel rolled the stone away and then he turned to speak. “Why seek the living out among the dead? For the child of the manger has broken the bonds of hell.” (“Child of the Manger”, Simple Truth)

When Jesus rose from the dead; triumphing over Hell and Death, I imagine the angels once again standing as they did on that winter’s night over Bethlehem, wing tip to wing tip praising GOD. Heaven was no longer silent. This Easter Sunday morning I would hope in the midst of all the chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, and baked ham we would stop and savor the Savior. We would with the angels honestly and with understanding sing “Glory to GOD in the highest, Peace, and Goodwill to men.”  For the child of the manger is the man (the risen, exalted LORD) of Calvary; happy Easter everyone for now and eternity.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rock solid encouragement

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
South Lubec, Maine
Needing some inspiration and encouragement right now, I am going to return to a happy time last summer. I spent a weekend with my sister, niece and her family Downeast in Lubec, Maine and on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. We stayed overnight near West Quoddy Head Light in South Lubec and trundled around the area, while I told stories of our mother who grew up there. What a treat it was to spend time in such a special place with such special people. An additional, all be it unexpected treat were the lessons I learned from my sister, a rock hound. There are a number of years which separate us in age, and one of the casualties of this gap was I wasn't aware my sister had minored in geology in college, I just knew she was a teacher. As I consider my current state of discontent with winter lasting so long and life being a daily struggle, I am going to look back on that trip and to the rocks to give me encouragement.  

Gabbro, an Igneous rock
Campobello Island, NB, Canada
First, did you know there are only three different ways rocks are created: Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.  Igneous rocks come from the fiery center of the earth. They are called into being from a coalescing of minerals in a molten state; born out of creative fires, which harden as they cool. Sedimentary rocks are born from the dust of the earth, built from the skeletons & shells of sea creatures, from the particles left behind from weather worn rocks; particles pressed together until they become one. And lastly, metamorphic rocks were once one thing but through heat and pressure have become a totally different being, taking on a new likeness.

Most people recognize granite, it’s an igneous rock. Almost everyone knows Limestone a common sedimentary rock, which when subjected to heat and pressure becomes marble, a well-known metamorphic rock. I love gneiss (pronounced “nice”), it is probably my favorite of all metamorphic rocks. Gneiss is formed usually from igneous rocks; I want to be a piece of gneiss. But to be a piece of gneiss, to be metamorphic, I have to be heated to the point of malleability, and undergo pressure. Oh, do I hear trials & tribulations?

Con Robinson's Point
Campobello Island, NB, Canada
Have you ever wondered why rocks are shaped the way they are? There is beach on Campobello where most of the rocks are round or egg shaped and fairly uniform in size and shape. I asked my sister, how did this happen? Once again, I was faced with trial and tribulation; for those particular rocks got their shape from being tossed in the ocean, rubbing again each other. We’ve all seen rocks with hollows in the side. The hollow was formed while the rock was in a heated state and it had another rock or other hard substance lain against it, creating an impression.
Cutler, Maine
 So here I am writing about rocks and seeing a parallel with my current life. It all comes back to heat & pressure changing me from granite into gneiss, from limestone to marble; rounding my sharp edges by rolling me around in the surf, rubbing up against other stones. Did I say I was going to a happier time?

There are many other parallels to be drawn later, but let’s end this tonight by saying I wanted some rock solid encouragement, and I got it. Heat and pressure making me into something new, something better; now if I can just survive this winter with all my minerals intake. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The hopes and fears...

I awoke this morning to my basement being very, very cold as the downstairs door had been ajar for most of the below zero night. Once again I started my morning in a state of rage; rage born of fear. I have developed a very keen sense of danger almost to the point of compulsive. I am fearful of driving in bad weather, fearful of not having enough money to buy food or oil or gas for my car (which is how I get to work.)  Right now my hot water isn't working right. It hasn't been right since the house froze at Christmas, I fear I have to find someone to assist me in fixing it, which means spending money I  may not have.

I have often found GOD speaks to me through song, preparing me for a lesson. I get an idea for a song, start writing it, even finish it, thinking it was for someone else only to figure out it was for me.  This past advent season, the Christmas carol “Oh little town of Bethlehem” caught my attention, specifically the last stanza of the first verse “…. the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in Thee tonight.” While starting to write a song, I had the sense (at the beginning of December, mind you) GOD wanted me to learn what that line meant. And as I sat in my literally freezing house on Christmas day, all that would come to me was “the fears of all the years are met in Thee.”

It is a well documented fact that the most debilitating mental health issue in America today is Depression, with Anxiety disorders along side it. Anyone who bought stock in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically those companies who manufacture anti-depressant & anti-anxiety medications have done well for themselves financially. I’m not “down” on medication, sometimes life is better lived through chemistry. My point is our advanced, first-world, industrialized society has some unresolved emotional issues; most of which stems from fear. Fear of failing to attain our hopes.

I decided in celebration of the Lenten season to make a commitment to devote my attention solidly on a person when I am speaking with them, foregoing the temptation to look at my phone, computer or TV while talking with them. In my opinion, we are so driven as a society to do more in less time, we are driving ourselves to exhaustion; physically, mentally and emotionally (body, mind and spirit), attempting to “multi-task.”  As was evident from my previous post, I have been without inspiration for a few months. Life has “taken it out of me” so to speak, I've been plagued with doubts; given to moments of intense fear, I have felt the pressure to do more with less time and resources; fearing I would fail in this venture.  I have divided my attention in so many directions for so long, trying to keep all the balls in the air; I fear I have dropped one. As I come out of the icy mist of the winter of my discontent, I will add another item to give up for Lent: fear. I will seek to ignore the distractions and devote my attention solidly on Christ, in whom “…the hopes and fears of all the years are met ….”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A year of …..

I have lost count of how many people I have attended funerals for. I can’t even really tell you where 2013 and the first three months of 2014 have gone. I just know the last time I posted to this blog was April 2013. I went so far as to look back at my calendar to see what captured my attention for all that time. I know my mom had eye surgery, I spoke at a women’s group, sang a few times, attended funerals and went to work. I had a week off at Thanksgiving, which I happily spent with family. I was supposed to spend the entire week of Christmas with my family, but due to a nasty ice storm I didn’t make it home until December 26, once my house was safely thawed from it’s frozen state after being powerless for 2 days and even that trip was made in a nasty little snow storm.

This post was going to be named “A year of discontent,” but that is not really an accurate portrayal of the last year. The past 12 months haven’t been all that bad, really; there have been good moments. I had opportunity to go Downeast with my sister and her family. What a wonderful time we had discussing rocks and geological formations. I started to write about it to post to the blog… but you see how far that got. Mom & I went lighthouse hunting down on the coast of Connecticut, ultimately finding the lighthouse an uncle tended.  I made it to PA in the spring and saw daffodils in bloom, while Maine was still frozen. And I did write a couple of songs, one was a funeral song, which got sung a few times too many for my liking.

The clocks are due to be turned ahead this coming weekend. It is supposed to be spring, you know the old adage, fall back; spring ahead. You could never tell it was spring by looking at the thermometer or the depth of snow I still have in my yard. I never did make resolutions or goals for this year. I think at the time I was too busy worrying about the cold, snow and oil bills.  I did choose a “word” for the year; one I chose while driving on icy roads once again!  The word for the year is “glide.” My intent is to learn to let go and to glide on the wind currents. Tipping my wings to maximize my lift above the earth and guide me safely around the sharp mountain outcroppings.  How am I doing with this?  Not real well at this time, but just like the coming of spring, I can always have hope of change.

I don’t have any magical words of wonder to write, I am frankly at a loss for insight. This post will go up, even though it is more perspiration than inspiration. But maybe this is what it is meant to be, just a humble attempt to regain some of my frozen creativity and thaw the ice that traps my brain.