My Mind HEARS My Photos

Seventeen -17 – SEVENTEEN people between the ages of one and sixty-nine!

That’s 34 arms, 34 legs, 34 eyes to get turned in the same direction. It’s a huge amount of teeth, clean and shiny covered by lips that you’d at least like to look like they’re smiling. And then there’s the dog, a wonderful pup, but he only has one oar in the water and all these people want to pet, pat and pull him in different directions.

It makes for a chaotic afternoon of picture taking in the park.

As if that’s not enough, the park has a beautiful stream running right through the center fully equipped with ducks who have no fear of people. And we have children who have no fear of ducks or water. The idea of keeping all those little feet, hands and legs clean AND out of the water was ridiculous.

Whose idea was this anyway?

My own children have been raised from day one by parents who couldn’t afford to waste “film”. Film, the roll that once upon a time was put in the camera and then pictures were taken that had to be developed. Unfortunately, we never knew until the pack of photos was returned to us if someone blinked, or had turned around to see if everyone else was smiling, or the light was too bright or too dim. In the land before seatbelts, I had two little blonde haired girls who had stick straight hair. Before picture taking, I’d comb, barrette, and plaster their heads with hairspray to prevent any possible movement. They would ask, “Can we lean back in the seat of the car,” “NO! We’re almost there, don’t move.” (Such a picky momma!) “Please,” I would say, “PLEASE look at the camera! Smile! Stand still!” That didn’t always work, but I tried just because I couldn’t afford to toss failed pictures into the waste can.

And then they all got married.

We’re blessed to have seven grandchildren now. Hence, SEVENTEEN and a dog. We could have added two more dogs, but that would have been crazy. I can almost see our youngest daughter’s beagle chasing the ducks and dragging a five year old through the stream. Cooper, the one in the picture, is an old man so he’s not much into chasing. Charlie, my son’s dog, is a youngster though. His never ending plea is, “Wanna play? Wanna play? I’ll play! Come on, it’ll be fun!” We didn’t go there.

But still, we were SEVENTEEN and a dog by a stream filled with ducks in the middle of a park on a gorgeous fall day. And they did it because, “Mom wants a family picture.” We can’t all get together often. My son-in-law from NC hadn’t been here in a year. My daughter from Lewisburg has an incredible schedule with teenage kids, jobs, swim team, school, friends. Life gets busy, but still “Mom wants a family picture.”

So I look at the picture and I can SEE their smiles, their eyes all turned toward the camera for the single moment that the camera’s red light blinks on the tripod, but I HEAR the laughter and the shuffling about. There’s poking and there’s joking. Everyone is a target! I know the old man dog was ready to be done, the one year old just wanted to watch everyone behind her and the two five year olds preferred climbing on the rocks.

But still they smiled and my heart is full to running over when I look at it DSC03928-edit1because they did it just because “Mom wants a family picture.” Even the son-in-laws, who would rather have a tooth pulled without novacaine, cooperated. PRICELESS! But this is how they really felt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Circles of Life

Recently I was watching a mom of three little blonde, curly topped wonders at a picnic and I was reminded of the circle of life that we go through as parents. She diligently sequestered her wonders on a blanket spread across the lawn. Each little one had her own plan of where she’d go and what she’d like to do, but mom had the deciding vote on what would really happen. We move from one Circle of Life to another, often not realizing where one stops and another begins.

Circle One!

When we’re expecting that little bundle of joy we sometimes lay awake at three in the morning while the energetic baby inside plays kickball or jumps rope on the bladder. We just wish we could get another hour or two of sleep. If only he or she were in their bed nearby! But then, as time moves on and that active little one joins the outside world, we are again awakened at three AM to calls for comfort or food or a clean diaper. Who hasn’t wished she could just tuck them back inside to be able to grab a few more winks before the sun comes up!

Circle Two!

As we watch them grow, we can hardly wait for that first word to be uttered. “Mama”, “dada”, it doesn’t matter which one! I remember one of my daughters telling our first little girl grandchild, “Just say something and I’ll buy you anything you want!” Eventually that little charmer started talking – and she hasn’t stopped much since! She would chatter on until the very moment she was tucked up tight in her bed and then – SILENCE. Even now, many years later, she doesn’t lack anything in the communication department.

Circle Three!

We are so anxious for that first step, the teetering tottering ones that often happen right at the top of the stairs as we held our breath. It seems that in a matter of days, they’re off and running. My mom used to say, “Just put everything on sky hooks!” Get all sharp corners and delicate breakables out of their way. They’re on the move!

Circle Four!

School days come before we know it and that little one that we’ve guarded so closely is exposed to a whole new world. Our days are stretched and our hearts are torn, whether they’re jumping on a school bus or being schooled at home, doesn’t make a difference. We still have to figure out how to add one more responsibility to our already overflowing agenda. Nine months of school seems to go by much faster than nine months of pregnancy and all of a sudden it’s summer. The joy of having them close all day is great – most of the time. But moments of boredom, or sibling rivalry can be unpleasant interruptions to the idyllic scene portrayed in books and magazines.

Circles Five, Six, Seven, Eight and so on come in quick succession!

They want to play at a neighbor’s house, have a sleep over, get a driver’s license, go out on a date, get a job, go off to college, and before long they’ve found their soulmate. The one who will make their life complete.

Then, if God grants you the days, you get to watch from the spectators seat as all the Circles of Life start over again.


Leave the Light on in the Closet

It’s time for bed and I am so tempted to leave the light on in the closet! I even briefly considered sleeping there.

I want to see who is putting their wash in my laundry basket each night!

Laundry is admittedly my favorite of household tasks, but really, where does it come from? There are only two of us living here!

I don’t change the towels every day like one of my friends. I don’t use a new table cloth on my table each day like another. I don’t even switch out my dish cloths and dish towels daily. Yes, we do wear clean undies, but they can’t fill a basket.

I’m telling you, we need to leave the light on so the hanky panky stops in there!

Yesterday I did all the wash except for two of hubby’s shirts. Tonight it’s spilling over its edges and we weren’t even home all day.

The reason laundry is my favorite task is because it’s measurable. The stuff goes in all crumpled and rumpled, swishes around in the suds, comes out of the washer wet and wrinkled and goes into the dryer. When the dryer beeps at me (with that obnoxious sound that it has! It should be programable like ringtones on a phone!) I grab out each piece and fold it or hang it. Whatever it takes to keep from having to iron it. Though I have an iron, I would rather not have to spend any time becoming closely acquainted.

And viola! there on top of the dryer are neat little stacks of towels and tee shirts, pillow cases and panties, socks and slacks. Measurable – evidence of what I did with my time. It’s not like scrubbing the bathtub, as soon as you shower it’s dirty again. You wash up all the dishes, but then you eat and they’re sitting in the sink or accumulating in the dishwasher.

So if you’re guilty of sneaking in during the night and filling that basket, you can stop now.

I’ve had enough fun for this week!

Epic Fail – Underpacking


IMG_1022Birkdale Mall, Charlotte, NC

It’s like an experiment – only NOT!

I tried the whole “underpacking” thing for a long weekend to visit our daughter in North Carolina.

Six days, right? The prerequisite there is that you be able to count to SIX! Math was never my strong point, but really folks, this should be possible.

Did you ever have the feeling, “I got this!” Going to bed the night before the trip I was certain that I had all my proverbial ducks in a proverbial row. They were lined up and saluting.

Then came morning, where I had the clothes for the day laid out neatly. The lists were checked and double checked. The car was packed. Actually, the car was P-A-C-K-E-D! And this was the “underpacked” version of a trip to NC.

Forget the options the girls said I needed. I took just the essentials, plus a box full of books for homeschooling, some groceries to cover the Celiac disease situation, just a few prizes for the littles, a couple of snacks (perhaps a few snacks) and sunscreen just in case.

My thinking at the outset was that we would come home again lighter than air, leaving behind all the excess baggage that would stay in NC.

I don’t know why I always fantasize this way, it never happens!

By the end of the weekend I realized my “underpacking” had one giant flaw. If you’re going to be away SIX days, you should take SIX days worth of clothes.


Yeah, good thing my girl’s house comes equipped with a washer and a dryer!

Next trip, I’m back to “OVERpacking” – it didn’t seem to make a difference in the return trip anyway. We still filled the car with the treats we found in NC.

It’s a good thing memories don’t take up any space —– we wouldn’t have been able to close the doors!

Overpacking vs. Underpacking

IMG_1032It can go either way.

You arrive at your destination and someone says, “Oh, did we forget to mention the indoor pool? Sorry.” There you are with your ski pants and scarves, mittens, gloves and boots. All set to play in the snow!

Or the reverse is also true.You bring your swimsuit, snorkel and mask tucked neatly inside the ski pants and scarves. Possibly you might need some light reading for in the evening so you throw in the book you’ve almost finished, but “What if it rains?” Better throw in another novel just in case. Of course you don’t want to forget your Study Bible with notebook and pen. Then you remember that the destination doesn’t have a quick market nearby, so you just might need a couple snacks, or three! Surely the hotel will have first aid supplies, but what if they don’t. Might as well take some aspirin, bandaids and antibacterial ointment. You never know – be prepared – just like the Boy Scouts! My daughters always tell me, “A girls gotta have OPTIONS!” Better take a sweater AND a jacket.

By the time you’ve finished lugging the suitcase through the airport, you find you owe the airline employee an additional $75 for extra weight and OPTIONS! Do you (1. bargain with her, (2.throw some clothes in the trash, or (3. have them sent back to your house via UPS in the box they so graciously provide for a mere $74.95?

It’s always a question.

Years ago I packed up my family of six for a week long trip to the beach. Food, medicine, suntan gizmos, play clothes, good clothes, sleep clothes, books, games, camera, stuffed animals, pillows!

We should have rented a U-Haul!

Just as we were about to pull out, our friend, Jackie ran out to the car to say goodbye. She tapped my hubby on the shoulder and said, ”Nice shirt, Jer, is it new?”

In stunned silence I stared at him with my mouth wide open. “What?” he said.

“Uh, —– I’ll just be a minute. Keep the car running!

I FORGOT TO PACK HIM A-N-Y CLOTHES! He had the clothes on his back and a pair of swim trunks for a week at the beach.

Overpack vs. Underpack – It’s always a toss up!

I’m so glad God is going to take care of all those details for eternity when we are finally HOME!

Marriage – It’s a Matter of Perspective

IMG_3400First comes a wedding – then comes a marriage!

They are two entirely different worlds!

Marriage is the easiest hardest relationship you’ll ever enter. It’s the most rewarding exhausting experience of your life. It captures the best and worst of your memories.

Fortunately, my hubby and I aren’t often in the same bad place at the same time, but it does happen from time to time. We see life from different perspectives.

Generally, I see the cup half full and he sees it half empty. I need the bed made every morning to feel a sense of order to my day. He figures we’re getting back in tonight, why make it. I like to put everything away, he likes it all out in the open so he knows where it is. When I take a shower, I hang the bathmat back on the hook, even if he’s getting in right after me. (That sounds OCD to me, even as I read it.)

We even look at trimming the garden from two different perspectives. A cute little pair of clippers works for me. Clip – clip – clip and all offending branches or vines are gone. When he trims bushes, Vroom – Vroom – Vroom and out comes the power equipment. In the blink of an eye that bush is reduced to a stump with roots. It looks like it was taken to the barber for an old fashioned flat top haircut.

However, we both sleep in our bed, we both eventually find what we’re looking for, we both shower, and we both don’t know a thing about gardening! But together we get the jobs done.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

When differences arise – and they always do – even after 48 years, we try to see the bigger picture. We try, not always successfully, to not win the battle and lose the war. There are always going to be differences, you came from two different worlds, with different families, budgets, traditions, and cultures.

Try to keep God’s perspectives – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Phil. 2:3

Forty-Eight Years



In 1967 a loaf of bread cost $.22, a gallon of gas $.28, a car $2,420, a stamp $.05, a house $24,600, and minimum wage was $1.40 an hour. “Bonnie and Clyde” was at the movies and “Spider Man” was on TV. The first heart transplant took place at a hospital.

My heart transplant took place at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Middletown, PA. I gave it to this man I’ve lived with and loved for the last forty-eight years.

We’ve had ups and downs, plenty of money and not any, no children and children in abundance, a huge home and a tiny apartment, sickness and health, and still after all of this he loves me and I love him.

It’s been a whirlwind and the time – the time has just flown past! We’ve been blessed with an incredible family and friends. I’m thankful every day for their input into our lives. God has guided us from the very beginning, even when we didn’t give Him credit for doing the guiding.

If you’re at forty-eight hours into your marriage, or forty-eight days, weeks, or months, keep going! Stick like glue to the spouse God’s given you and work like crazy to make your marriage last.

It’s worth the effort!

And then, give God the glory!

“What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:9

Not Now

Sitting by the pool on this sunny, cloudless day, I heard her speak to me,

even though she’d passed on to her heavenly reward years ago.

Her voice still resonated in my ears and I was transported back 30 some years. She sat beside me in the wide open yellow playroom listening to music as my two-year-old danced at our feet.

“Mommy, dance with me!”

My reply,

“Not now.”

Again she pleaded and again,

“Not now.”

And then it happened.

The whisper thin frame of the 80 year old lady, with her long silver hair wrapped around her head in a braid like a crown, got to her feet. Holding hands with my youngest, she danced a little jig and said,

“She won’t ALWAYS ask you to dance.”

In a matter of moments, the three year old was on to other adventures – but she had danced and laughed.

So today, when my eight year old grand asked me to swim, I remembered,

“She won’t ALWAYS ask you to swim.”

B-r-r-r-r-r! The water was frigid, but the smiles were warm.

IMG_4148Making memories…………collecting them in a “Memory Scrapbook” in my head.

Thank you, Mimi!



Let Kids Be Kids

8231_1247302228518_1408308927_691556_4171920_nMy daughter, Sarah-Joy noticed a puddle with beautiful colors of blue, green, red and yellow swirled in it, as we strolled through a parking lot on our way back to the car.  She thought it was a rainbow caught right there on the pavement. I corrected her so she would know it was just an oil leak from a car.

Her response:

“Oh mommy, I wish you hadn’t told me that.”

So did I – as soon as I said it!

Later, driving home on a crystal clear evening, Sarah and I were the only ones awake. As we drove, I spotted a falling star cascading across a cloudless ink-black sky.  It was a rare and dazzling sight. Cresting the last hill on the highway close to our home, Sarah looked out at the landscape dotted with lights.

She excitedly told me:

“Look, Mommy, that must be where that falling star landed!”

House lights/ star lights – I wasn’t going to disillusion her.

I’d already made that mistake once!

 Sometimes we just need to leave well enough alone.

When they’re 15, 18, 21, they won’t believe their stuffed animals talk anymore, they will understand that daddy can’t actually “smell” McDonald’s french fries when he’s driving down the road, and they won’t think that stars land, or rainbows live in puddles.

Let kids be kids!

They grow up soon enough and so much of the fantasy of imagination is replaced by cold hard facts.


Today is a special day for me.

It’s the beginning of the end of an era. The 60’s, not the1960’s of course (although they were good) but the other 60’s. The chronological ones. The ones that turned my hair to silver.

Today I’m 69. And believe me, that sounds old! I remember when 30 sounded old, and then I got there! Suddenly, almost overnight, 50 was old. And just about that fast, I got there too. 60 years have gone by in about that many seconds.

My middle daughter just reminded me of a saying I used to tell her when her babies were small, “The days are long, but the years are short.” God confirms that when He says says our lives are as a vapor.

But there are still so many things I want to do!

For instance:

I want to sure to grow to know my Saviour even better. To take the time to study the Bible like when I would read Chafer’s Systematic Theology – for FUN!

II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.” I certainly don’t want to be ashamed when I stand before my heavenly Father.

It’s time to reread good books about real people, people who allowed God to use them in mighty ways.

Joni – by Joni Eareckson Tada

There’s a Snake in My Garden – by Jill Briscoe

The Hiding Place – by Corrie ten Boom

His Stubborn Love – by Joyce Landorf

Queen of the Dark Chamber – by Christiana Tsai

Beth Moore

Chuck Swindoll

Max Lucado

And that’s just the beginning of the list. Then there are new authors to explore as well.

I want my family and friends to know how much I care because I show up. Show up to help and to encourage and to lighten their load.

Some dear friends have gotten terribly ill this year, life threateningly ill. Dear friends who are much younger than I am. Friends whose consistency, and faith, and integrity have been evident to all those around them. I praise God that He’s spared them and granted more days than the doctors once believed possible, but if they had entered heaven’s gates I’m sure they would have heard, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

It’s sobering, but that’s what I want to hear, “Well done…..”

IMG_2599 So here’s to a New Era!