Oct 28, 2009

Please meet my friend, Amy

Amy is one of my newer, younger friends. I met her through friends who have known Amy all her life. I'm so happy that our paths have crossed, as Amy is one of those rare people we get to know in life who bless us with their sweet spirit and zeal for living.

Amy grew up in a town next door to mine. She's now a graduate student at nearby Kent State University and lives in a dorm there. She has found her passion, children's library science, and is working hard on her master's degree. She's already written her first book and just needs to get it illustrated and published.

As exuberant as she is and as much as she sparkles, Amy has had some challenges in her life that most of us will never know anything about. When she was just very young, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Most of her life she has been in a wheel chair. She will be the first to tell you how fortunate she is to have a loving family who have cared for her needs and challenged her to develop her skills and talents. In fact, Amy's mom is a special education teacher, so she has unique insights and gifts that have undoubtedly helped tremendously.

In the past few years, Amy has been attending our church with our mutual friends, (Hudson Community Chapel, www.hudsonchapel.org). She has chosen, as a young adult, to become a follower of Jesus Christ, and she desired to be baptized now that she has come to a living Christian faith of her own. This event happened on September 20 of this year. Because Amy desires to share with others how God has worked in her life, she was agreeable to my posting her personal testimony, which she gave to a large congregation that day, as well as some pictures.

Amy's testimony:

Hi, my name is Amy Price.

I’m a 24 year old Master’s student at Kent State. I come from one of THE MOST loving families in the world. I haven’t seen the whole world, but anyone who knows us observes the same. My parents were raised in households which practiced opposite faiths. Before having children, they agreed practicing religion would be the choice of the child. Our motto, “Treat others the way I want to be treated!”

I grew up knowing the unconditional love of my family and friends, but still imposing a standard of perfectionism upon myself, I’d think, I know my family loves me, but I don’t know why!

In 2007, I was invited to HCC. I did not know what to expect, but was encouraged remembering a conversation my mom had with me years ago. She told me that as a teacher she sees God in the face of her Special Education students daily. The words of Singer Johnny Diaz became more clear with each visit here to HCC. Johnny reminds us all: “You were made to fill a purpose only you can do! There can never be a more beautiful you!!

After 4 months of attending regularly, I asked to be involved in the Children’s Ministry. One can learn so much through the eyes of a child! Before I started helping, I asked Jesus into my heart; if I tell kids, “Trust GOD NO MATTER WHAT!” I SHOULD KNOW THE SAME JOY!

Since I’ve known Christ, I realize faith is trust and relationship with him, not worry and ritual. I choose to be baptized today to declare publicly, Jesus is my Savior!

Amy reading her testimony during the Sunday morning baptismal service

Just before being baptized, Pastor Paul Wides prays for Amy

Pastor Joe Coffey with Amy after the service

Amy's life long friends, Barbara and Michael Ammirati

Oct 27, 2009

Larry Reynolds murder case update...

When I Gave Up the Anger, I Felt Better and Went Fishing
This is a brief update to two previous posts, one August 18, 2009 "Capital Murder Case" and the other September 16, 2009 "More on the Murder Case".

The execution of Larry Reynolds that was scheduled for October 8, 2009 has been postponed until next spring by the State of Ohio due to a recent botched execution attempt by lethal injection in another death row case.

I guess I just want to go on record here to say that I have found the peace about this sentence that I needed. If you have never served on a jury in a case like this, you really have no idea of the stress and all the mental and emotional sorting out that you have to do, all the soul-searching and praying and all the sleepless nights. To say nothing of the long days of sitting in a jury box listening to gory testimony and seeing photographs that should never have to be seen of someone's mother, grandmother, daughter, doing your civic duty while your heart just aches to be home with your own young children.

Both 15 years ago when I served on the jury, and more recently as the execution date neared, I sought spiritual counsel from a trusted pastor. My conflict, of course, was that I am a pro-life person. I totally believe in the sanctity of human life. And I had to reconcile that belief with how I feel about the death penalty in a murder case.

What I have come to understand is this: The death penalty really upholds the idea of how sacred human life is to God. When one intentionally takes the life of another, the only just penalty is for him to forfeit his own. I hope that one sentence might help someone else who struggles with how they feel about the death penalty. I know that others do not agree with my conclusion. Like I said, I have found peace in it. And I believe it is God's peace. I can rest in it.

That said, I also want to say that I find no pleasure in the circus-like atmosphere that often attends high-profile executions. That is a sad commentary on our society and only serves to undermine what is being done.

While I personally feel that 15 years or more is way too long for a sentence to be imposed, I am glad our judicial system allows time for appeals and hearings so that there hopefully will be no mistake made. Unfortunately we all know this has happened.

As far as the Reynolds case goes, God has His own timing in mind. He is working all things out for good, even in this situation. In the past few months, I have been put in touch with a relative of the victim. For 15 years she has been angry and consumed in her grief and loss. I was able to tell her that she will continue to be a victim of Larry Reynolds long after he is executed if she kept herself on this path of anger and bitterness. I'm not free to go into the details, but something happened recently and this relative of the victim has now softened her heart toward the murderer's family and sees their own torment and loss...and she is also praying that Reynolds himself might come to repentance before his next execution date. Did you catch that? The victim's relative is praying for the person who murdered her loved one. God is at work.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Oct 24, 2009

"...think about such things..."

"...whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable--
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think about such things...
and the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:8 NIV

This verse has been on my mind all week long, and for good reason. Sometimes life just gets a bit heavy and we just need to stop; we just need to get back to our center--and think about all that is good. Sometimes we just need the peace of God to be with us.

This past week in particular I have learned of so many very serious needs just within my own close circle of friendships--needs that I have been praying about daily. And not even counting the many needs I've read about on the blogs I've visited. While I do believe we are called to help bear one another's burdens, we also need to guard our hearts at the same time so that we don't get bogged down into a mire of negative thinking which can lead to unproductive living. For my part, I'm trying to do a little tweaking here and there in my life so as not to be tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind.

One thing that really helps me is being careful of what I fill my mind with. What wonderful instructions St. Paul left us with, as quoted above. By following this directive alone, we would be well on our way to renewing our minds which in turn makes us more able to discern what we really are supposed to be doing with our lives.

Here are a few of the areas I have identified that tend to "pull me down" instead of "build me up" in my spirit and attitude:

*watching too much of the evening news*

It was getting to the point where my husband and I were sitting in our chairs, night after night in front of the TV, and getting more and more upset at things we really have no, or little, control over. When you hear false or negative things being repeated over and over again, one of two things tends to happen. Either you start believing them, or you are in a constant state of being upset over something you can't do much about. So we have chosen to pretty much leave the TV turned off. We only have a few precious hours together in the evenings, and this just wasn't a good way to be spending them. It makes no sense to fill our minds with all the negative things going on in the world, and then try to go to bed and have peaceful, renewing sleep. duh.

*reading too much of the newspaper*

This was an area where I was more of a die-hard. My dad always read the local newspaper from cover to cover each day, and wouldn't put it down until he had completed the cross word puzzle. My mother-in-law is the same way...she even reads the stock pages. So we always subscribed to the paper and we were interested in keeping up with the local news. But here again, the papers today do much more than report the news. They have gotten to be political and social battering rams, and tend to be extremely biased in reporting or even "creating" news. We were finding that more and more, we were taking a paid-for-but-unread newspaper out to the recycling bin. Not too smart, is it?

One day last January I read a national award-winning local community commentator's column because it had been brought to my attention at a ladies bible study. The title of the column was "In defense of internet pornography". Say what? I read the column twice because I couldn't believe it. On the community page of our local newspaper, this guy was actually giving "facts" to argue that sex crimes have gone down due to the proliferation of internet pornography and the like. Without going too far down a rabbit trail here, we personally know several families whose lives and careers have been decimated because of internet pornography. There is nothing good that comes of it. I had an email exchange with this journalist that went back and forth but got nowhere. We ended up canceling our 30+ year subscription to that paper. More space in my brain was freed up to be filled with things that are lovely instead. We decided to send the amount of money we were paying for the paper to a local Christian counseling center.

*not paying close attention to what I'm reading on the internet*

It goes without saying (hopefully!) that you can't believe everything you read on the internet. Or that just because it is accessible, it is helpful or good for you to read. This includes blogs! Being a fairly new blogger, I am learning, as my husband likes to say, "by the braille method". I'm fumbling around, trying to learn a new computer at the same time I'm trying to learn about the blogosphere. I'm discovering that people blog for all kinds of reasons, and personally it has opened up a whole new world for me. For the most part, I have "met" some amazing people (mostly women) through this incredible technology...women who through sharing their stories and gifts have blessed me daily and have encouraged me and built me up in my spirit. I hope my posts do the same for others. It truly is a social network, especially for someone like me who has been out of the work force for 16 years, and many of my days now are devoted to babysitting a couple of my grands as well as helping my mom since she is still newly widowed and no longer can drive.

I've also run into some blogspots that I've noticed have the opposite effect on me. Reading some blogs is like associating with people whose personalities or attitudes just seem to leave you feeling heavy and weighed down, instead of encouraged and built up. Sometimes I come away feeling like that blogger wants to make me their personal project and try to fix me. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally open to learning and interested in other people's perspectives and interests. But if it's not a two-way street, and if you can't make a comment without feeling personally judged by someone who really doesn't even know you, then it's not a good place to hang out. Life is too short. There are hundreds of blogs out there written by kind and gentle souls who understand it's often not what you say, but how you say it that might just make or break a reader's day. I'm learning that I can control what feeds my spirit by controlling what I read both in the blogosphere as well as other places on the internet. Just because something is purported to be "truth" doesn't always mean it is.

*not being careful of what I read in books and magazines*

We have very few magazines that come into our home. Just a few that we enjoy and have the time to read. We both do love to read books. Reading books and magazines can take your mind to all kinds of places. They can be a great escape from reality. This can be a good thing. Books can allow us to travel to places we never otherwise might be able to visit, and meet people we otherwise would never have a chance to know up close and personally. We can learn about people and cultures we would otherwise be unfamiliar with. We can delve into history or even peak into future possibilities if we are so inclined. We can be encouraged by the stories of others. What we need to be mindful of is how powerful a book or magazine can be in terms of what gets imprinted onto our brains...or suggestions that are transplanted into our hearts. I didn't understand this so much when I was a young teenager, but looking back now, I can only be thankful for a pastor's wife who saw me reading a less-than-desirable popular novel, and called me on it. She took the time to explain how filling my mind with "trash" would influence my thought processes, and my thoughts would eventually influence my actions. I've never forgotten that. Sometimes when I'm in a doctor's waiting room or at the beauty shop or checking out at the grocery store, and glance at the magazines, I'm appalled at the kinds of stories that sell. Do I really need to know all these personal details about the lives of people I would never have as my role models? Do I really need to see all that skin? The "beautiful" people of the magazines don't live in the world I live in so why should I be tempted to compare my looks, or money, or whatever with theirs?

*not taking care in choosing who I spend my time with*

We all have people in our lives who we don't necessarily click with and are not like-minded. They can be relatives, work associates, or other women in organizations we belong to. A good friend of mine--a soul sister who is much wiser and a whole lot more spiritual than me--helped me understand how I can co-exist in a Godly way with people who I wouldn't choose to be my best friends. She said that "love" is really an action verb, not a feeling. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (I Cor. 13:4-7). If I have true love in my heart, specifically the love of the Jesus Christ who I claim to serve, then I have the ability to love even the "undesirables" in my life the way this verse tells me to. It does not mean that I need to associate with them on a regular basis or in the same intimate way that I would my close friends who have my best interests at heart. But I can be kind and helpful and Christ-like toward them.

But if I want to fill my mind with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, then I need to be spending a great amount of time around people who ARE true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. These are the people who really care about me, who know me because I feel free to be myself when I'm around them, and who I know they will love me in spite of any shortcomings I may have. These are the people who I know will pray for me if I need them to. They give me the benefit of the doubt. They want me to succeed in my dreams. These are also people in my sphere who I look up to because they have some wisdom that I need. They model things in their own lives that I need to learn. They challenge me to become all that I was created to be in a way that spurs me on--or like one excellent blogger said this past week, helps me "turn the page".

I need to guard my self from people who would suck up my time, energy and resources, yet with no intention of making needed changes in their own lives. I will be, and always want to be, the first person in line to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. But I need to maintain a proper balance; otherwise I will become a dystunctional and useless person.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Oct 23, 2009

My bucket list...

This photo was taken on the 4th of July from my front yard. What a view!

In 2007, a comedy-drama film came out called
The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The two characters met in a cancer ward and after finding out they were terminal, they escaped and set off to do all the things they ever wanted to do before they "kicked the bucket". A funny movie with a message.

I decided to make a bucket list of my own with my top ten items, not in any particular order. Here it is.

1. visit the Holy Land

2. do better at living within our means

3. write and publish a book

4. have a totally organized home, including spare rooms, basement & garage

5. downsize to a smaller, older home with lots of character

6. learn how to use my MacBook to the fullest, before it is obsolete

7. learn something about photography and be decent at it

8. do more pleasure reading while my eyes are still good

9. pray more--worry less

10. create and maintain healthy "margin" in my life

Have you ever given thought to a bucket list? Please share!

The Eight Question MEME

The Eight Question MEME
Got this one from Pat over at Living on Grace

Six names you go by:

1. Jacquelyn
2. Jacque
3. Mom
4. Grandma
5. Gramsie
6. mam'-ma

Three things you are wearing right now:

1. nightgown
2. whoops
3. whoops

Three things you want very badly at the moment:

1. better time management
2. things to quit breaking down around the house
3. develop healthier living habits

Three things you did yesterday:

1. babysat 2 grands, ages 11 mo. and 3 3/4
2. took my mom to the doctor and on errands
3. accidentally paid a bill late :(

Two things you ate today:

1. turkey sausage for breakfast
2. home made chicken noodle soup for supper

Two people you last talked to on the phone:

1. mom
2. friend Connie

Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

1. work on family budget
2. get a hair trim

Your three favorite beverages:

1. ice water with lemon
2. good fresh brewed coffee, black
3. hot mint tea

Here's what you're supposed to do. Copy and paste the questions into your blog. Then delete my answers and type in your answers. You don't have to if you don't want to, but when you can't think of anything else to blog...this works!
Jacquelyn adds: leave me a comment to let me know you played along so I can read it!

Oct 22, 2009

October's Bright Blue Weather

Picture of Autumn Colour - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

October's Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

"For since the creation of the world, God's

invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine

nature--have been clearly seen, being understood

from what has been made, so that men are

without excuse." Romans 1:20

Oct 19, 2009

remembering dad on his birthday

My dad, who passed away on March 27, 2008, would have been 86 this week. I've written about him before, so this time I just want to share one of his paintings with you.

This one is of Mary Campbell cave, located in the gorge between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Mary Campbell was a young pioneer girl living in Pennsylvania in the mid 1700's who was captured by the Delaware Indians and held at this site. At the end of the French and Indian war in 1764, Mary Campbell was released and reunited with her family.

Mary Campbell Cave
by Samuel Francis Lichi

This spot was within walking distance from our home when I was growing up. It remains a great place to hike and sit on the large rocks and cliffs, imagining the history of the area. When we were kids, we used to hunt for arrowheads here, and once in a while we found one.

Other posts about my dad can be found at tinyurl.com/ylh2kp2 (Every Time it Snows) tinyurl.com/ylknhjj (Father's Day) tinyurl.com/yfunvd7 (My Dad's Glasses)

Oct 15, 2009

cancer scare...

I've been challenged by Shirley over at
Sketches of a Common Life (www.sketchesofacommonlife.com) to blog about a time when I thought the world had ended for me, but I ended up having a "butterfly" experience. There are several of these times in my life, but one I haven't blogged about before is the time I thought I was dying of cancer. I tread into this area knowing full well that my experience is "nothing" compared to what some folks have endured, and that for so many, their stories didn't turn out the way mine did. However I hope and pray that by telling it, that God will be glorified and that someone may be blessed and challenged in some way. It is what it is.

I never had an easy time in the monthly "female" department, each month bringing a lot of physical pain and emotional turmoil. I do have a pretty high pain tolerance and I just accepted this as "normal", thinking all along that every woman had this to deal with each month. So back in May of 1997 when I was experiencing the monthly "curse" I didn't think too much of it, except that this time, it was pain beyond anything I'd ever had before, and I could barely stand, and it didn't let up. I had some other symptoms that didn't go away. I called the doctor and that started a series of check ups, tests, and scans...

I am not a medical person and I really don't remember all the different procedures that were done on me over a period of weeks. At one point it was determined I had an ovarian cyst the size of a baseball. I had several CA-125 blood tests, which can point to ovarian cancer with elevated numbers. A normal number is 35 or below. My numbers were running over 1200.

I was 48 at the time, and I had been looking forward to going through menopause "naturally"...I had even read a couple books on the subject because I didn't want to be taking hormone therapy, and I certainly did not want a hysterectomy. But after a period of time, I was told I had no choice, and that I needed to undergo surgery. The plan was for tissue to be frozen and tested while I was still under anesthesia, and a cancer team would be standing by to do some special procedures if the biopsy came back positive for ovarian cancer.

This all sounds so dry and clinical now. But at the time our two sons were 13 and 17 years old. There was a three week wait before my surgery date. I read everything I could about ovarian cancer, and discovered that by the time there are any real symptoms, a woman could be in a late stage.

The earth stood still for me. I was facing a very real possibility that I could die before my kids graduated from high school. One day as I was dropping clothes into the washing machine, I burst into tears, wondering if someone else would be doing this for my family in the near future. I felt tremendous guilt thinking what I might be putting my husband through financially and emotionally. We agreed not to tell our kids what we were dealing with until we really knew for sure.

I needed spiritual strength like I never needed it before. I shared the situation with Christians who I knew would pray for me. I spent warm summer days sitting on the deck, reading the Scriptures and praying. Praying a lot. I went through a process of thinking of anyone I might be at odds with, and I called them or wrote them notes. I searched my heart and found forgiveness for anyone I could think of who had ever offended me. I found peace. The most unbelievable peace I've ever known. I discovered an intimacy with God like none I had ever experienced before, or since. I was not afraid to die. My husband and I talked a lot and prayed a lot, and we both felt we were ready to face whatever the future held, because our trust was totally in the Lord.

One day shortly before the surgery, a Christian woman called me on the phone. She told me that God had woken her up in the middle of the night and layed it on her heart to pray for me. She got on her knees beside her bed and prayed. She shared with me some Scriptures that had been impressed on her. I can't explain it, but I felt like I was totally "covered". I asked the Lord to heal me and promised that when I was on the other side of all of this, I would stand up in my church and tell everyone what He had done for me.

Finally the day of surgery arrived. I had a slight dip in my emotions as they were wheeling me away, and I told my husband "I'm sorry to put you through this." When I woke up in my hospital room, about a dozen family members were standing all around my bed. My husband said to me, "you are fine." All I could say was, "you wouldn't lie to me, would you?" He just laughed. I was still groggy. But I later found out that even before they were finished with me, the doctor came out to tell my waiting husband that the biopsy showed no sign of cancer. The medical people were all amazed. So much so, that the head of the oncology department came to see me the next day, saying she just HAD to meet the lady who didn't have cancer. She said they were all ready for me because they were positive that I did. I told her I had a lot of people praying for me. She said, "I've seen that before!"

I still needed a followup CA-125 test to see what was going on with the numbers. I prayed and asked the Lord to convince everyone with certainty that there was no question of my status. So a couple weeks later the test was repeated. The number was 10. God again answered prayer. I recovered very quickly from the surgery, and within about two weeks I felt better than I had in a long time.

I did become a fool for the Lord one Sunday morning not long afterwards when a contemporary worship group within our mainline denomination church had the opportunity to format the entire service. I told my entire story to the congregation. I had also invited family members and friends to come and hear the testimony.

I've been a believer in Jesus Christ for over 50 years, since I was a child, and yet I know that something definitely happened to me through this experience that has changed me forever. I have absolutely no fear of death. I have total trust in the goodness of the Lord. I know my faith has been tried by fire and it stands. There is no turning back, no doubting. I know I am loved by God in a very personal way. Scriptures are more alive to me than ever. I am more sensitive to struggles that others are going through. I am more willing and happy to pray for them. I know without a single doubt that I am eternally secure and have a blessed future that awaits me when my earthly life is over. Even though I sin and fall short over and over, I know with certainty that God has already forgiven me, and loves me with an everlasting love. I know that nothing can separate me from Him. I know that He has a purpose for my life even if I can't see it clearly myself; I can trust Him to work it out. I live my life in gratitude and I can face the future with confidence because I know Who holds my future. I know that none of this is because of anything good I have ever done, but only because of the grace of God that has been shed abroad in my heart.

I guess I never really thought of it as a "butterfly experience" but I was definitely changed!

"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." Psalm 71:14-18 NIV

Oct 11, 2009

A day in the life of a tweener...

The term "tweener" usually refers to a young person around eleven or twelve years old--pretty much out of "childhood" but not quite old enough for the new label of "teenager". However, for my purposes here, I shall refer to myself as a "tweener", chronologically being in between the younger generation and the oldest one.

Sometimes it's really a good thing to be this kind of "tweener". I've heard it said that everyone should have friends both younger and older than themselves. I've certainly found this to be edifying in the past but somehow in recent years, being a tweener of the sandwich generation variety has been more demanding and energy sapping than renewing or fulfilling. I'd practically begun to view my plight as one of life's negatives, rather than drawing on the positive aspects of where I am along life's timeline.

Recently I unrepentantly found myself with a week of semi-free time to catch up on mini projects, make phone calls, meet with friends, etc. On one of those days, I had an opportunity to have my eyes reopened to the simple joy of conversation with two ladies who not only live their lives in totally different generations, but also in totally different cultural settings. Both of them blessed me tremendously and renewed my sense of well-being in living life to the fullest as a tweener.

The first lady was someone I'd met a few months earlier. She helps with a food ministry at her church. I'm not sure how old she is, but she happened to mention she was excused from jury duty since she is "over 75". Over the course of about fifteen minutes, she shared that, plus the fact that she had been married 52 years before her husband died from brain tumors, and how hard it was near the end, but how grateful she was he was "able" to die at home. She also told me about his life-long career at Goodyear Aerospace in Akron, and how much harder life is "being alone". Her advice to young women contemplating divorce is they should try the "alone" life for two months and they would find that it is not that easy.

This pleasant lady named Elizabeth is a quilter ("a lost art" as she says) and had three more weeks till a cast came off her arm, which she injured in a fall at her daughter's home. She sure hopes she can quilt again.

Through all this conversation she wasn't whining or bitter about her lot in life, just contemplative and like the older woman passing wisdom down to the next generation, she had a slight sense of urgency to get her words out. Her summary of her life so far: "I've been so blessed." Well Elizabeth, you've blessed me too, and I thank you for sharing part of yourself with me. May I be so blessed as to grow into my older years with a similar grace, kindness, and gentleness of spirit.

A short time after my visit with Elizabeth, I headed over to the nail salon to have myself pampered a bit. Tiffany, my manicurist, is I would guess in her early '30's. For the past couple years since I've been patronizing this shop, I've felt a nudge to get to know her better. She's very cute and sweet, and I'm so intrigued with these Vietnamese people who have come over here and work so hard. At the risk of stereotyping, they seem to be quite artistic as well, and have found quite a niche for their skills.

So what has prevented me in the past from getting to know Tiffany? Well, she is fairly soft-spoken (they ALL are!) and she speaks with a strong accent. Plus these people, from my observations, tend to be quite serious while they are working. I've always held back from starting any kind of a real conversation for fear I either would not hear or understand her. But for some reason, this particular day was different. Perhaps I was buoyed by my earlier encounter with Elizabeth, I don't know. But this time conversation flowed freely.

In the time it took Tiffany to do my nails (and she is fast), I entered a totally foreign-to-me world. She told me how she came to this country at age four with her parents, who were considered war refugees. I learned from Tiffany that the United States had opened its borders to these people in the aftermath of the Viet Nam war. She told me how desperate they were to get, as she put it, "hope for a future." She said that any Vietnamese woman who had a child fathered by a U.S. serviceman over there was automatically eligible to come over, along with her other children, and they all could easily become U.S. citizens. She said a lot of these women gathered up nieces and nephews and children of friends and claimed them as their own so they could get in on this shot at a better life. I was amazed! And humbled. I was certainly not born into a privileged family with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I've never known anything of his kind of desperation.

I asked Tiffany if she'd ever "go back." She hesitated for several seconds with her head cocked in an angle that said "I don't think so", but then she said "only if I could take my kids to show them the country." Then she laughed and added, half in jest and all in earnest, "or to shop! Everything is so cheap over there." Yeah, I guess so, with many making wages of only $5 a month. Tiffany took great pride in how nice my nails looked, and I gave her a $5 tip after 35 minutes of work.

Yes, she has certainly found "hope for a future" here. I wondered about her eternal future. I have no idea if she is a Buddhist, a Christian, or a nothing religiously speaking. There is a little Buddha shrine in the shop. I hope I'll find the courage to ask her sometime and perhaps I can share Jesus with her. I wonder if she's ever been introduced to Him?

I left feeling quite jubilant that we had actually talked on a personal level and she so openly shared some personal things about her life with me. I feel that we had definitely connected and perhaps someday I can be the "older woman" passing on wisdom. Being a "tweener' in the sandwich generation felt good that day. Really awesome, actually. I sort of felt like I spent the day walking on holy ground.


Post Script: It has probably been a year and a half since the day I wrote about above. I found this in a journal. I've never seen Elizabeth again, and I've never had another opportunity (yet) to speak with Tiffany in such an intimate way. This is a reminder of how important it is to live each day to the fullest and take advantage of opportunities as they come our way to be relational with people. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. Each day is a gift, and like someone has said, that's why it is called "the present."

Oct 6, 2009

MY first day of fall...

OK, I give. Summer is over and fall is official. We happened to be away over the weekend for a family wedding in the Finger Lakes region of New York. They are a week or so ahead of us in the beautiful fall foliage and I fell in love with fall all over again.

So I came home and decided to do a few traditional fall things to get myself inspired to live in the moment. First thing Monday morning, I put the two grandchildren I babysit in their carseats and we set off for a relaxing drive in the country, where we saw these beautiful scenes...

Next, we stopped at a nearby farm where we bought pumpkins, cornstalks, apples and decorative gourds, and Elylah played around while Ethan slept.

After lunch and naps back at my house, Ethan went home but Elylah stayed a couple more hours so we could make caramel apples!

She decided she would rather have sprinkles on hers than nuts...it worked, but what a mess!

The rest we made with ground up cashews. Sour apple, sweet caramel, and salty nuts--a great combination. Not exactly health food...but fun food to be sure.

So that was my life-between-the-buns day yesterday. A long day, but lots of fun!
After refrigerating the apples overnight, I finished wrapping them up this morning. Now who is going to eat them? (besides me!!) Here's wishing you time to do some fun fall things...and enjoy each moment as a gift from God!