Monday, July 31, 2006


The temperature hovered around 100 degrees today. It is close to 90 degrees now at 10 pm. It is a perfect evening to go to Rita’s.

Rita’s Italian Ice is a summertime favorite. The little building that houses Rita’s is by a busy highway in the parking lot of a little strip mall. The mall is home to a consignment shop, a pizza place and a tattoo parlor. The crowd that gathers there is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic mix of interesting folks. Tonight we joined the throngs craving a refreshing Italian ice. There were gaggles of teenagers laughing and flirting with one another. Moms and dads and excited little children were there in abundance. Several people, dressed in white shirts and ties appeared to be stopping by on the way home from work. It is a fun place to sit on a bench and observe people.

What could be finer on a hot evening than a mango gelati and a parade of interesting people to watch?

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I’ve just finished reading an interesting book called, “Father Joe.”

It is a true story by Tony Hendra about his spiritual mentor and friend, a Benedictine monk named Father Joe. Tony is so inspired by this loving, wise man that Tony has dreams of becoming a monk himself.

At the age of fourteen Tony indulged in some hugging and kissing with a married woman. The young woman’s husband finds them. The husband is Catholic and a friend of Father Joe. He decides to take Tony to Father Joe to decide the appropriate punishment. Tony confesses his almost affair to the monk. Father Joe replies,

“You’ve done nothing truly wrong, Tony dear. God has brought you here before any real harm was done. The only sin you’ve committed is the sin of …s-s-selfishness.”

A few years later Tony was troubled by the stirrings and longings of sex. He has been obsessing about a beautiful classmate and wondered if this was some form of idolatry. He goes to Father Joe for advice.

Tony begins by telling Father Joe about his dreams,

“…But at least there was nothing sexual about them.”

“Of course they’re sexual, dear. Whatever’s wrong with that?”

“What about chastity?”

“Chastity doesn’t involve surgery, does it? We’re all sexual beings. Sex is a wonderful gift, a physical way to express the most powerful force in all existence – love. Sex is a brilliant idea of God’s, I think. Almost like a sacrament.”

“Sex is a sacrament?”

“D-don’t tell the Abbot!”

“There’s no sin in having sex?”

“Yes yes yes. There can be. But sex is a sin far less often than we’re led to believe. It’s all a question of context. If you have sex to hurt or exploit another, or to take pleasure only for me, me, me, and not return as much or more to your lover… then it becomes sinful. We monks make promises before God and the community to remain celibate. For us to have sex would be a betrayal of God and our brothers. It’s not the sex so much as breaking the vow that is the sin, just as it is when you break a vow of marriage ---the hurt to your partner. They’ve made sexual sins the worst of the lot, haven’t they? Because sex is so powerful, people are fearful of it! We must take the fear out of sex as well.”

Is Father Joe right? Is the biggest sexual sin one of selfishness?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Today is the sixteenth wedding anniversary of our son,David, and his beautiful bride, Allyson. We have a great daughter-in-law. Our grandchildren have wonderful parents. Happy anniversary David and Allyson.

Today is also our foster son’s thirty-third birthday. Happy birthday Todd.

The picture is David and Allyson’s wedding. Todd and Paul are the groomsmen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The prep for a colonoscopy stinks!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It Is Well With Mt Soul

For me one of the best moments in the Women of Faith conference came in the closing, wrap-up part of program. The singing group Avalon had performed several times during the weekend (I must go buy one of their CDs). The male lead singer for that group has an amazing soprano voice. One of my favorite speakers there is Luci Swindol, a 74-year-old bundle of energy and inspiration. She has a beautiful, very deep voice. They were asked to sing a hymn, any hymn. She sang bass, he sang soprano. They sang my song. Anyone who knows me knows that this song is very special to me. The powerful words reassure me that God is in control and I can rest in his love and trust my life to him. When we made the painful decision that it was time to leave the church where we had worshipped for forty years the congregation sang this song for me, reminding me to trust our future to God. We spent several months looking for a new church home. Some places we only visited once. We worshipped with others for several weeks. For an assortment of reasons none seemed quite right. On our second visit to the local Presbyterian Church I prayed that God would give us a sign, a clear sign that this was or was not the place for us to make our church home. During the offering, the accompanist picked up his flute and played a haunting and beautiful rendition of my song. I started crying. Dennis and I looked at each other and we knew that this was the place to settle. God had given the sign we sought.

When have you felt God speaking to you in the words of a song?

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,

Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.


It is well (It is well)

With my soul (With my soul)

It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin – O the bliss of this glorious tho’t

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross

And I bear it no more;

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.


And Lord haste the day when faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back like a scroll,

The trump shall resound

And the Lord shall descend,

Even so – It is well with my soul.


Monday, July 24, 2006


The theme of this year’s Women of Faith was Contagious Joy. The idea is that our joy is infectious and spreads from one person to another. We all experience moments of great joy, where we just burst with happiness and wonder. Those are wonderful moments, but, lets face it, most of life is less than those moments on the mountaintop. We live in a busy world of routines and fatigue. Life can be humdrum and a bit disappointing. How do you find joy in the midst of your daily life? Luci Swindol says joy is like little, iridescent bubbles that pop into our day. They are beautiful and fragile. We have to seize those moments and store them in our hearts to remember and enjoy as we walk through our days.

Here is a list of the bubbles of joy that filled my heart over the past couple of days.

1. Eating an ice-cream cone while watching storm clouds in the distance –a simple pleasure shared with the man I love.

2. Watching my granddaughter sing in the choir.

3. A hug from a good friend.

4. Pulling weeds from my garden in the cool of the evening.

5. Sharing pizza and laughter with my family.

6. A friendly greeting from my fellow art students after missing several classes. “Hi Suzy. We’re glad you’re back. We missed you.”

7. A phone call from Dot. Her mother is stable for the moment.

8. Riding my bike around my neighborhood and feeling the wind in my hair. I feel like I’m a kid again.

9. Finding a picture that I had lost. Rejoice. That which is lost has been found.

10. The constant assurance that God loves me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


The Women of Faith conference was great. I’ll have to sort out some of the moments and tell you about them over the next few days. The experience was intense.

My friend Dot checked her cell phone at the first break. There were three calls from her sister so Dot went to find a quiet spot to return her sister’s calls. When Dot returned to her seat one look at her face told me she had bad news. Her mother had had a massive stroke and was non responsive. The doctor said there was no hope for recovery. It would be only one day, maybe two before her time on earth was done. My friend just sat there, too stunned to move. All I could do was to hold her. We worked out a few plans on how to get her home so she could drive to Pennsylvania and be with her mom. We held each other a long time. I returned to my seat but couldn’t stay there. My heart was breaking with my friend’s pain. I went out to find a quiet place to just sit for a while, praying for my friend and feeling anew the great loss of my mother’s death. After some time passed I looked up to see another friend coming toward me. She had seen me leave and was worried about me. She recently lost her mother. She loves Dot. She loves me. She understood. Hugs are far better than words. Thank you, Joyce.

How desolate this world would be with good friends to hold us when it hurts.

Dot, I am standing in the gap for you. There is a friend praying for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Women of Faith

I will be attending the Women of Faith conference at the Verizon Center in Washington DC for the next two days. This will be my fourth time to attend and I am looking forward to it. There is something wonderful about coming together with 20,000 women to worship God. I remember chills going down my spine as all those voices joined together to praise God. The speakers always inspire me and I come away feeling God’s presence. I will be attending with a group of women from the Church of Christ where I attended for many years combined with a group of women from the Presbyterian Church where I am currently a member. One of the great blessings of the Women of Faith conference is that it joins all the various traditions of Christianity together and for these two days we are one body of believers worshipping the God we all love. That is a very good thing.

I have felt the presence of God most intensely when I was alone and had a private audience with the Almighty. There were other places of corporate worship that were more intense than Women of Faith. Zoƫ worship conferences in Tennessee brought me to the foot of the cross and into the presence of God.

What brings you to the foot of the cross? When have you been intensely aware of the presence of God? Where were you when you were lost in wonder, love, and praise?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Disneyworld always brings back memories of other times.

It was May 15,1960, my 19th birthday. Dennis had invited me to go to Disneyland with him where we would meet several of our friends from college. We had been dating just over a year at the time. When I got in the car he asked me to put something in the glove compartment. I said I would just hold it. He insisted that I put it in the glove compartment. I did and found a jewelry box that contained a diamond ring. He smiled and asked if I would marry him. I cried. I could not speak but I did nod my head. Finally I said yes. We had to go back in the house then and tell my parents. They were happy and we all laughed and cried. Finally we left for our date in Disneyland. It seemed to be a magical and romantic place that evening. All of the lights were twinkling just for us. We rode over London on the Peter Pan ride and dreamed about our future. Everything would be wonderful in the happily ever after we planned together. When we ran into our friends I showed off my sparkling diamond and glowed in the joy of love and excitement. I have always loved riding the Peter Pan ride and remembering that wonderful, magical evening.

Where were you when you became engaged? Was it beautiful and romantic? Was it funny and silly? Have you lived happily ever after?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It is good to be home again. We had a great time enjoying all the adventures of Disney with our two granddaughters.

We drove from Maryland to Florida and back again. That is a lot of driving. The world becomes a long ribbon of highway bordered on each side by green. We live in a very green world. The only break in the green was the thousands of billboards. We counted 32 Cracker Barrel restaurants.

Can anyone explain why there is such a difference in the price of gasoline? The least expensive we saw was $2.50 per gallon. The highest price was $3.26 per gallon. It seems to me that 76 cents per gallon is too much difference to pay for the identical product.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Waiting in lines is a big part of the Disney World experience.

There are signs at most rides with the expected wait time. We decided a posted time of 30 minutes was a reasonable limit for a good ride and found that usually the time was shorter than posted. If the line was longer we got a fastpass (a great idea that lets you come back later and get in the front of the line). Some of the big rides had wait time of 110 minutes. Because we had free time waiting for our fastpass ride we discovered rides and attractions that the girls would have otherwise skipped. One of their favorites turned out to be the Carrousel of Progress, an original Disney attraction that I first enjoyed in California 50 years ago.

What is the longest you have ever waited in line? Was it worth the wait?

What wonderful things have you discovered while you were waiting for something else?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


We have conquered four mountains this week. We have done Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Everest; the four mountains of Disney World. In fact we did them all twice. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom before opening time and we were there before the lines got long. We were able to just walk onto rides for the first hour of the day. It was great. When it got hot and crowded we headed back to our resort and rested. We then returned after dark and stayed till closing. My favorite memory was watching the girls running across Tomorrowland, holding hands and giggling as they headed to ride Space Mountain. It was 10:30 at night and I know they were tired, but joy overcame fatigue. They were the picture of happiness.
Here is a list of things to do in while waiting in line:
1. Eat. The girl’s backpacks were filled with snacks and water.
2. Create and practice elaborate handshakes.
3. Check out all the teenage boys and rate them on a scale of one to ten.
4. Giggle
5. Repeat
The pictures are of us on the Buzz Lightyear ride. It was like riding through a giant arcade game. What fun!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Another Trip

We are leaving in the morning for a trip to Orlando. We are taking our twelve and fifteen year old granddaughters to Disney World. It should be an adventure. I’ll have stories to tell of life with girls and Mickey Mouse when we return.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Glory Days

We enjoy eating out. Our community is blessed with several nice restaurants that we patronize several times weekly. Our favorite of these eateries is Glory Days. Glory Days is a cross between a sports bar and family restaurant. There is a large screen TV above the bar and 20 or 30 more TVs on all the walls. Most of them are tuned to various sports programs. Tonight we could choose to watch one of several baseball games, tennis, hot-rod racing, or poker. I’ve just about learned how to play poker by watching while I eat dinner. There are usually a couple of the sets showing cartoons, and a couple others are tuned to news shows. The place is a haven for fantasy football players on Sundays in the fall. All the TVs are a nice distraction, but the thing that makes this our favorite is the combination of good food and pleasant staff. My very favorite thing to eat there is the broccoli. It is the best broccoli I have ever eaten. I get teased for bragging on the broccoli so much, but it really is good. When we sat down tonight our favorite waitress had our drinks in hand and ready to serve us. She remembers our orders from previous visits and knows what we like. She was sorry to report that he cobbler tonight was apple. I only order cobbler if it is peach. We almost always see friends while we are there. It is a favorite for many, both young and old.

What is your favorite restaurant? What makes it you favorite place?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lumberjack Show

While we were at Niagara Falls we walked along a park that stretched a couple of miles along the Niagara River. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The roar of the water and the mist from the falls was a constant as we walked along enjoying the view. Along the way we encountered several street entertainers. There were musicians and jugglers, but our favorite was the lumberjack show. They had set up bleachers and a stage in the park where Team USA had challenged Team Canada to a contest of lumberjacking skills. We watched in awe as Team USA won the single buck contest. (Buck refers to a bucksaw. The ones we saw were about five feet long. Single denotes that one man was handling the saw.) The contest was to see which man could saw through a log in the least amount of time. There were several heats of this contest and the USA won them all in amazing speed. It took between sixteen and twenty seconds for one man to saw through a log three feet in diameter. Maybe this is no big deal if you are a lumberjack, but we were totally amazed. The ax-throwing contest was the next event. The Canadians won this by throwing large axes across the stage and hitting the bulls-eye. Then came the ladies who were referred to as lumberjills. Team USA won in the lumberjill double buck contest. I was so proud. I wanted to be a lumberjack when I was a little a girl but was told girls couldn’t do that. It was wonderful to affirm that girls can be lumberjacks.

Overhead at the Senior Center gym today; “What day is it today?” “It’s Wednesday.” But I don’t work out on Wednesday. Are you sure it’s Wednesday?” “Yes, it is Wednesday.” “Then what am I doing here?”

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My eight-year-old granddaughter is here this morning. She has decorated our house with flags and written Happy Birthday U.S.A in sidewalk chalk all over the front porch. Our home looks very patriotic.

I love this nation of ours. It is my home, my country, and my native land. I appreciate all the blessings that come to me because I am an American and I am grateful for all those who made great sacrifices for this nation. God bless America! However, I always want to put an asterisk after I say that and explain that like the apostle Paul my citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20

I found the lyrics to a song in a book by Marcus Borg called, “The Heart of Christianity” that I found appropriate for today. The song is titled, “This Is My Song,” and is sung to the tune “Finlandia.”

“This is my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for lands afar and mine,

This is my home, the country where my heart is;

Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;

But other hearts in other lands are beating

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean

And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;

But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover,

And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

O hear my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for their land and for mine.”

My Fourth of July prayer is that there will be peace on earth.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


We’ve just returned from church. The minister had a great lesson. He is a good man who is paid by our congregation to preach and to minister to the people of this church. He earns his money.

I have been thinking about family stories and today I thought I’d share a couple of stories about my grandfather. He was a minister in first half of the last century, a time when ministers were not paid a salary. He ran a little store and taught school to earn money, but if you asked him what he did he would always answer that he was a minister of the gospel.

One time Grampa went to another town to hold a gospel meeting. He took the train to get there and stayed in the home of one of the members for the week of the meeting. At the end of the week the church passed around the collection plate to get enough money to pay for Grampa’s train fare. When the money was counted up, it was discovered that they had collected fifty cents more than needed for the train fare. They immediately called out to the brother who was the most generous giver that he had given too much. The brother should come and take back fifty cents. He said no. “Give that fifty cents to the preacher. He did a fine job for us this week.” So my grandfather earned fifty cents plus train fare for preaching every night for a week. He was content.

One my mother’s earliest memories is about the time Grampa was was paid in molasses for his preaching. She and her little sister, Rubye, were sitting on little wooden chairs in the back of the wagon. In the wagon with them were two barrels of molasses that had been given to them by one of the church members. The day was hot, and as they rode home the molasses began to expand in the heat. It oozed out of the barrels and covered the floor of the wagon. When they arrived home my mom’s feet were stuck to the floor of the wagon. She couldn’t move her feet. She was forced to untie her good church shoes and leave them stuck in the molasses in order to lifted out of the wagon. What a mess that must have been!

Do you have family stories that make you smile?

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Today we took our two teenage granddaughters to lunch in Annapolis. One of the sights at the city harbor is a statue of Alex Haley, the author of “Roots.” He is depicted telling stories to a group of children. Several plaques along the seawall quote sayings from his epic story of Kunta Kinte, the African boy who landed in Annapolis in a slave ship and was sold into slavery there on the waterfront. One of the plaques stressed the need to learn from our suffering. Several stressed the importance of forgiveness. There were several that talked about the importance of family. I find it a very moving memorial. It demonstrates for me the triumph of the human spirit over evil. Haley believed that by sharing our stories, by knowing our heritage, we could learn that we all share a bond in the human family.

What stories are told in your families that help you to triumph over the evil that life throws at you?