Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Advent begins this Sunday. I love Advent and message of hope, peace and love that it represents. I love the symbolism of lighting of the Advent candles during church. This year I decided I wanted to have an Advent wreath and candles of my very own. Yesterday I bought a pretty brass candle holder for the purple and pink candles. I set it up on my dining room table happy with how pretty it looked. In the evening my friend J came over and admired it. I told her that I was planning to get some greenery tomorrow and make a wreath for the candles. She looked excited and ran out to her car and came back with a lovely green wreath, which fitted around the base of my candles perfectly. It looked lovely. She gave me a hug and said the wreath was my Christmas gift. I was thrilled to have just what I wanted.

How many of you have a friend who carries extra wreaths around in the car just in case someone might need one? J is a special friend. Everyone should have a friend like her.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Tattoos are unusual in the women of my generation, so I have been intrigued by the tattoo on the arm of a seventy-six year old lady who is one of my water-aerobics classmates. Today I asked her when she got the tattoo and why. She smiled and said it was a long story. This is her story.

Five years ago her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. The news was devastating to the entire family. Her daughter would have to undergo a regime of very difficult treatments to fight the disease. She was afraid. My classmate, her sick daughter, her other daughter and her two granddaughters decided to do something that would show the world that this family was in this fight together. They would stand united and wage war against the cancer. The symbol they chose was a beautiful little hummingbird, which they each had tattooed on their arm. It was a powerful moment for the family that made them all fell a little braver.

Her daughter died two years ago. The tattoo is a symbol of love, family, and her very brave daughter.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. The time was full of family, friends, fun and food. We enjoyed a walk after dinner through AM’s neighborhood. I was thankful to see her walking so well. In the evening the entire clan went to see the move Enchanted. It was a great family movie that made us all laugh. Our son and daughter-in-law spent the night and we had time for lots of talking. Saturday our eighteen-year-old grandson went skydiving. The jump was a graduation gift from his aunt. I was pretty nervous about it, but he had a marvelous time and would like to do it again. Today was the last Sunday of ordinary time before Advent. I always love church and today was better than usual. I looked across the building from my place in the bell choir and saw my children and grandchildren filling an entire pew. There is something wonderful about worshiping together with my family. I feel blessed. I hope all of you found reasons to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving #4

Today is a big cooking day. I got up early to bake a cake and make red jello. Red jello is made with strawberries, bananas and pineapple and is a tradition at any family dinner in our house. My daughter is busy making pies and getting the table set for a big dinner tomorrow. My other daughter is entertaining her in-laws so we will not have her cheese ball or mango salsa.

I am thankful for food to eat. Tomorrow will be a feast with more food than we can possibly consume. I am thankful for that bounty, but mostly I am thankful for my daily bread. I have never really been hungry. I have always had enough food to feed my children. This is not true for everyone. We see the news with those poignant pictures of hungry children. I have helped in our local food pantry and know that there are people in my own neighborhood who are hungry. Food to eat is not a something everyone can take for granted.

Have you ever been hungry?

How can we help to feed those who are hungry?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving #3

I am thankful for the telephone. It has enabled me to reach out and share some of life’s great moments when I couldn’t be there in person. I remember many calls that were important in my life story.

“Mom.” It is 5 am and my first-born is calling from Tennessee. She is about to give birth to her first-born. “My water just broke and we’re getting ready to go to the hospital.” I sit up, wide awake, and ask her if she is OK. “Oh, Mom, I’m so scared.” We both start crying. I feel a thousand miles away. I am a thousand miles away. Later that day there is another call. My son-in-law says, “Something is wrong. Start praying. We’re going to do a C- section”. I pray. An hour later the call comes again. “It’s a girl. Everyone is fine. Oh, Sue, she is beautiful.”

The phone rings at 3am and I hear my brother’s voice, “It’s over, Sue. Mom died about ten minutes ago.” She was 97 and had been sick for years. She was my mom and she was my brothers’ mom. We need to hear each other’s voices.

“Gramma!” I hear my granddaughter on the phone. “I got accepted. I’m going to college. Isn’t that wonderful!” I laugh and share her moment of joy. It is so good that she could call and I could hear her excitement.

There have been so many calls. We share joy. We share sorrow. We talk about hard decisions and listen to each other’s ideas. We share life.

The telephone has been a lifeline for which I am very grateful.

What phone calls have been important in your life?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving #2

Among my greatest treasures are many books. I love books. They take me to other worlds and show me new ideas that make me think thoughts that I might have missed. Books contain stories that make me laugh out loud, cause to sob, enrage me and fill me with anger, or comfort me like my mother’s lap used to do.

As a child I read all of the Nancy Drew books and all of the Oz books. I loved The Secret Garden. As I became a teenager I started reading biographies and sweeping historical novels. Stories about real people intrigued me. One of the books I loved was called. “David the King,” by Gladys Schmitt. It was a novel about Israel’s King David. I absolutely fell in love with David. It was because of this book that I named my first-born son David. Today I am reading, “World Without End,” by Ken Follett. It is a sequel to Pillars of the Earth.

I am thankful that I am able to read and I am thankful for the many books that have entertained me and educated me over the years.

Here is a very incomplete list of some of my all-time favorite books.

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum and all the other books in the Oz series. These books were magical

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This was such a sweet story of childhood and triumph.

3. Lust for Life by Irving Stone. This was a great story about the troubled life of Vincent Van Gogh.

4. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. One of the sweetest love stories I’ve ever read.

5. Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott. This book helped me understand what faith is all about.

6. The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg. This book has been valuable on my journey of faith.

7. The entire Mitford series of books by Jan Karon. These books are a sweet escape into the life and faith of a small town in North Carolina.

8. The DiVinci Code by Dan Brown. A great thriller. I stayed up all night to finish it.

9. The entire Stephanie Plum mystery series by Janet Evanovich. Just lots of fun.

10. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. What a poignant and moving story this is.

What books are on your all time favorite list?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Little Houses

This is the song Maureen commented on in my last post

Thursday, November 15, 2007


One week from today is Thanksgiving Day. I am way too blessed to be able to write about all the things for which I am grateful on one day, so I will start my thanksgiving list today.

I am thankful for my house. It is cold and rainy today, but I am warm and dry inside this house. The warmth is more than the fact that the roof isn’t leaking and the new windows provide good insulation, the warmth is the glow of memories that fill every room and every corner.

We moved here in 1964. Since then this old house has rung with laughter and has been filled with tears. We raised four children here. The office in which I now sit was our girls’ room. Over the years it has been painted yellow, pink, purple and green. The walls have been covered with crayons and markers, then posters of teen idols. Later it was home to our foster son and housed his weight bench and his karate belts and hid his Playboy magazines and chewing tobacco. Our clean, quiet guest room was the boys’ room. It was crowded with bunk beds, books, toys and various sports equipment. The kids grew up and grandchildren came to play. This little house felt like it would burst when we all got together.

The memories are everywhere I look. I love this house.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Changing Directions

Changing directions is hard.

I thought about this in my deep-water aerobics class. We all paddle along in a circle. As we move together we create a small current that helps us go faster. Then the teacher says we need to change directions. Suddenly the small current is going against us and forward movement is harder. It takes several strokes of trying not to go backward to get the forward momentum going again. This observation started me thinking about the times in my life when I needed to change directions.

Friday my beloved took the day off work and we were going to run away for a short holiday. Our bags were packed and we were in a holiday mood as we started to back out of the driveway. Then came a phone call from AM. The doctor had just called saying that blood test on her ten year had just come back. The sugar was extremely high and it looked like she was diabetic. If the repeat test was still high she would have to go to the hospital that evening. The holiday mood went away and we had to change the direction of how we felt and what we would do. After a day of apprehensive waiting the test came back completely normal. No hospital. She would be checked again next week, but all was well now. Our mood changed directions again. We were grateful. As we started to breathe again we found it impossible to regain the holiday mood and had to again change the directions of how we felt and what we would do.

When have you suddenly had to change directions in your life? Was it a permanent change or just a temporary turn around?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Today I was part of a program at the senior citizen’s center to honor our veterans. It was a very moving and touching event. The people being honored are mostly in their seventies and eighties. They fought in World War II and in the Korean War. While waiting for our chorale to sing I sat a table of old men who were reminiscing about times that had changed their lives. Some were career military and some were draftees who had served for a few years. I heard stories from a medic about the devastating injuries he saw and the horrid decisions he had to make about who he would try to save and who he would leave to die. He still remembers the faces of those injured young soldiers. Another man had taught young men how to handle ammunition and how to load the big guns on a ship. He remembered a young man who froze with fright and was unable to move. The young man was holding a live shell that could kill them all if it dropped. The instructor got down on his knees and looked the frightened young sailor in the eye and talked softly to him and very gently removed the shell from his hands. All of the others stood quietly and just waited as the young man was led away to sickbay. There were lots of stories, all told with pride, some told with tears. Later we sang a medley of songs to honor each branch of the service. The veterans each stood tall and proud as we sang to honor them. I was filled with a sense of thanksgiving for all that these men and women had given to all us. I felt proud to part of a country that was made of people like these good and brave people.

I pray for the day when there will be peace on earth. I pray for a future where old men no longer remember the painful stories of war.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I was awake all night. I was tired and wanted to sleep, but I just couldn’t get comfortable and go off to dream land. I read for a while and got sleepy, but when I put down the book and turned off the light I started tossing and turning. I was plagued by random thoughts that just wouldn’t turn off, like patterns to make with my pen to create different textures for my pen and ink class or what to get my grandson for his birthday in three weeks. I finally got up and read blogs and sipped on a glass of wine until I got sleepy. I then lay in bed tossing and turning another hour wishing for sleep, unable to doze off. I got up and sat in my big recliner and waited for the dawn. I finally fell asleep about 6AM.

I do this fairly often and it is an annoyance.

What do you do when you find it hard to sleep?

Saturday, November 03, 2007


There were three obituaries in this week’s Washington Post that I found interesting. I never met any of these men and did not even recognize their names. After reading about their accomplishments though, I wanted to take time to honor them. They did not know each other and led very different lives. Their different accomplishments each changed this world and the way we think. Their names are Paul Tibbets Jr., Owen Davis, and John Woodruff. They were all ninety-two years old when they died.

Paul Tibbets Jr. was a pilot during World War II. He flew a plane that he named after his mother, Enola Gay. It was Tibbets who on August 6, 1945 piloted the plane that dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima, destroying the entire city. Tibbets believed that he saved far more lives than he destroyed and that his action was the key factor in ending the war. He told reporters that it would have been morally wrong to possess that weapon and not use it and let a million more people die. He did what he thought needed to be done to end a terrible war. Whatever you think about the decision to use the atomic bomb, it was definitely a decision that changed the way people look at war.

Owen Davis was a policeman in the District of Columbia. He was the first black deputy chief in the District. In 1951 Owen took a promotional exam and broke the color barrier. His personality and ability helped him to rise through the ranks to become an officer honored and respected by everyone who knew him. “Naturally, I made a contribution,” Davis said in 1976, “My career was a demonstration to other blacks that this can be done, a demonstration to whites that this is no cause for fear.” I am grateful for the change this man brought to my town.

John Woodruff was an Olympic athlete. Many have heard of his better-known teammate, Jesse Owens, but it was John Woodruff who, with a dramatic come from behind victory in the 800-meter race, was the first black athlete to ascend the podium in Germany’s 1936 Olympic games. Woodruff was the first to refute Adolf Hitler’s theories of Aryan racial supremacy. Overcoming racism in any way is a significant thing.

These men left a legacy for all of us of by their deeds. What kind of legacy are we leaving for those who come after us?