The Anchor

They were listening to an address from a local speaker. They hadn’t wanted to go. Guilt led him there and marriage led her there. She thought that if she could get over herself and find something positive in the message that it would be doable and at the same time support her husband in his need to attend.

There are many things to possibly look forward to while going to that address such as community, the chance to sing something lovely and meaningful (that would be more for her enjoyment than his), the opportunity to absorb the peacefulness that can be brought by familiarity, the chance to publicly confess the generality of their waywardness as they gave mental screen shots to those that they privately remembered. There was the chance to get absolution publicly although taken in each of their hearts privately. Those were all valid reasons to give it a go.

The words from the speaker should have made no sense to those assembled. It was as if the life guard was telling the swimmers not to go swimming even though the pool was open and the skies were clear. It was as if the train conductor took the tickets and then admonished the riders for getting on the train. It was as if the chef has opened the restaurant just for them and then told them not to eat. Where was the “Come on in the water is fine!, I hope your trip is just what you need and you are going to get really great food.”?

What they only heard was, “You are a mess and you have missed the boat…again,” When what they came to hear was, “We know you are in need of joy because of your self inflicted problems and the problems brought to your circle of life by those in the world. You are loved and all that is taken care of because of that great love. You are forgiven. Welcome. Lift up your heads. You are loved. You are loved. Now what are you going to do?”

She had enough of the spiritual beat down and gave a furtive look to her husband. It was one of those, “Get me out of here. I can’t even believe I came to this. Am I hearing this correctly?” Her legs were twitching and itching to bolt. With a calm and steady hand her husband put his hand on her knee as if to keep her grounded. He is the voice of reason and that made her take a deep breath and flip the switch. She flipped in her head to, “Ok, something is wrong with the speaker and he needs help.” rather than “Something is wrong with the speaker and I am leaving because he is messed up.” She would have created a scene which was not even her plan although her husband would like to avoid all uncomfortable situations and she is mostly fine with them.

It was as if the husband’s hand was an anchor and his words that said, “We will talk about it when we get out of here,” was the chain. Talk they did, mostly her, but still…the anchor held the boat in the storm.

Blessed be the anchors. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

 

I Have 300 More in the Back

I went into a consignment store where I usually find a shirt or two that fits and looks new to me. Yesterday I hit the jackpot and found three that will do. There are so many items in there that have already had a life with one owner and are looking for a new view. I like buying pre-owned things as I feel that doing that is better for the environment and my wallet.

Nothing screamed more to me that they were happy to have escaped their former containers than the aprons that hung above me in the store. They were like pennants at a carnival. There were so many criss-crossing the ceiling, hung on a suspended wire as if on an outdoor wash line. Nice.

I talked to the proprietor about them telling her that I too had many in a box, all neatly folded, starched and pressed with love by my mom. I think most of them are the half kind. Mine are mostly the ones that were worn more for decoration than spill catchers. Mom saved the one that were frilly and were kept back for wearing to serve luncheons at church or weddings. I think there are a few daily wear ones, but not too many. There is a full apron that covers the bodice and skirt area that I remember the most.

All of the ones I have at least one pocket and these hanging above me were no exception. Some of the pockets were of the same material as the majority of the apron, but many were of contrasting material. Red strawberries set with their fresh green leaves on red background with white pockets and blossoms on the pockets. Bright yellow patterned ones with ruffles finishing off the edges and blue checked ones gently fluttered when the heat kicked on. All of them with pockets.

I wonder how many of these held a clutch of eggs, clothes pins, a handful of newly picked tomatoes gathered up to walk back into the house?  Sometimes my grandma would use it for that mini sling to carry a small grasp of twigs she had gathered in the yard for her kindling to put in the wood burner.She could hold the apron contents together as she had a hold of my hand.

There was always a hankie or tissue in the pocket. Sometimes that apron itself served as a hankie or a tissue for the little one coming along whose tears needed a dabbing. Many of my generation have a few of those cloth hankie remembrances from our relatives. Many have lovely little printed or embroidered flowers on them.

I don’t know what to do with those aprons that belong to me now. The lady suggested that I could make them into pillows. Ah..no. She suggested making them into a quilt, but I know that the fabrics are not all suitable for a quilt. That was really nice of her to offer suggestions.  I could see she was trying to sort that whole thing out herself. She finally said that I could bring mine into her store and she would hang them on the ceiling with the others. She said,”I have 300 more in the back.”

Billy Graham Died Today

The television would be on and there the show would be on or there might be an advertisement for it just before it was to start. This was my cue to call Grandma and tell her that Billy Graham was going to be on channel whatever. Sometime Grandma would beat us to it and the phone would ring our short two rings indicating to the others on our telephone party line that it was our call not theirs.

Dad was still out finishing up milking or not in the house and my mom and I and sometimes my brother, would watch it. I don’t remember Dad being in the house for it, maybe he had, but knowing what I know now, that wasn’t something he would watch.

My mom would love the singing before hand and usually George Beverly Shea would sing, “How Great Thou Art” or “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. Because it was a big deal to my mom it became a big deal to me and for years I would think about everything this whole thing was about. Why is his name Beverly? Why does he make that note on “gold” stretch out so far and annoyingly? Did I know anyone who sang that low?  I was always a bit disappointed when I didn’t get to hear the “How Great Thou Art” because it painted a picture for me in my mind. Beautiful song. I sing it now when I walk on our road…alone. We never sang “I’d Rather Have Jesus” as it wasn’t in our hymnal. I would ask myself, “You there, old man (probably then way younger than I am right now), you would rather have Jesus than silver and gold?” Amazing. “The fencer just broke, the manure spreader froze up, the milk check is late, my mom is making me clothes and you would rather choose Jesus? I love Jesus, but some silver and gold would help out right now.” No judgment on Mr. Shea, but rather just observing.

Then there might be a singer before him, like say, Ethel Waters. Ethel Waters was a miracle to me. I didn’t know that she was so famous until I was grown. I didn’t see many people of color on television unless they were in a comedy role or on a late night talk show. I thought that if she was on there she must be something special. I really didn’t enjoy it much, but I took note.

Then a man named Cliff Barrows was doing the announcing and I think he also directed the choir. I was suspicious of his name being Cliff. It sounded sort of gimmicky, but he seemed sincere and I was surprised that he seemed to do two jobs at that crusade. Still he seemed sort of shiny and I was not completely falling for it.

Then Billy Graham came on and I listened with much boredom. He was theatrical and I wasn’t used to that though it made it more interesting. He didn’t wear a church robe so that made me wonder about him. His hair flipped up like my dad’s hair and that was nice. He had a southern accent and a different way of presentation. He had a bible in his hand mostly the whole time he spoke and I thought that was important. I tired to listen and take in what he said.Still, it was hard. I was a kid.

That is an odd match because I am from the Lutheran tradition and some of the things he said didn’t seem to be what I learned and yet there we were. Us calling Grandma and sitting around listening, listening. It was like Sunday sermon all over again except I was on the living room floor. As I got older I asked my mom about some of the points and it made us dig into the scripture to see what was what.

I really liked the altar call. It seemed brave for those people to come up there and then be on television to boot. We didn’t do something so bold during the Lutheran worship.”Just As I Am” was not sung in our church, but I know all the words today even though they now appear in a great larger number of hymnals. I liked it that Billy would call people to come down to give themselves to Jesus, he would share some scripture with them when they got to the altar and he would have a prayer with them. He said, “Come now.” Most importantly I remember him saying, “I will wait for you.”

I am sure there are things that he said that even now in my more adult, heavenly shook up and modified state I would not necessarily agree with…but I don’t remember the threatening, scary stuff that most likely was in the messages. What I do remember is how much he seemed to care if I was listening to God and letting Jesus track me down and make me his kid forever.

It is not lost on me as I am struggling with spiritual matters especially these last few months if not my whole life, that Billy Graham up and dies today and then that reminds me of the consolidation of the commandments, Love God “How Great Thou Art”  and love your neighbor as yourself, “Come now, I will wait for you.”

 

 

 

Save Water. Drink Shampoo.

There was this woman with her grandchildren walking past me at Job 2 and I heard her read the graphics on some jammies, “Save water, drink shampoo.” She chuckled. This does not surprise me in anyway that this would be on some clothing. I had never seen that one before though I know some people have been chowing down on laundry detergent. Did I even hear that right?

These particular jammies are next to the spa, health and beauty items. It made me think about the women..and ya, I don’t see any guys over there, but I am sure there are some that are also concerned about their skin. Many people often check out the serums, lotions, creams, little pots and tubes of magic. These are supposed to take years off faces and control effects that time and the environment have strewn about with abandon.

I heard that Retinol is the best cure, but since I clearly don’t pay enough attention to that, I don’t really know. It could be unicorn tears at this point…we really do have a product named that at Job 2.  I think it is just coyote sweat, but the name is better. I see people all the time standing there looking at the ingredients and the price trying to decide which is right for them. I want to go up to them and tell them, “Just no,” but I found myself buying some dark circle eraser today. That stuff is amazing!!! I don’t even think it is made from anyone’s tears.

I see my young friends really knowing all about the latest products and I just want to tell them to go with the sunscreen. Have they not heard the “Sunscreen” song from the 90’s? Not that I used it once when I was a teen. We used straight baby oil right out of the bottle onto our frying skin. We smelled like coconuts or babies or baby coconuts. We were really a rotisserie chicken and our eyes may or may have not been covered by non-UVA/B sunglasses….hence the cataract surgery.

I was curious about those words on the jammies. It was odd that I would not have seen that before. I went over to look at them myself. Turns out it said, “Save Water. Drink Champagne.” OHHHHHH! Turns out that next to the skin care products they should sell hearing aids.

 

Preferences Are Not All Our Preferences

I saw on Facebook recently that those with accounts could only see the posts of 25 of their Facebook friends. I checked with Snopes and that was wrong, but really not far off. I checked on my feed today to see if there was a way I could see everyone as they posted. There is a limit of 30 people that I could pick to be my 30 preferences of “Who’s On First”.

Like many, I like a lot of people and I want to see what almost ALLLLL of them are doing. What’s a matter Facebook, can’t you give me what I want? You don’t have the ability? You don’t have the desire? How hard is that? How about letting us pick how we want to see them? We have privacy settings and blocking capability, but not preference selection on views? COME ON!!!!

I have already given up my privacy to Facebook so when I type anything the algorithm kicks in to give me advertisements on the side to correspond to what I am typing. Funeral home visit mentions=local funeral home ad, searching for consumer reviews of mattresses=ads for comfy bedding, and typing about going on a trip=vacation destination ads. I get that. I am willing to use it free to be confronted with commercials. We are used to it since the television was invented.

So, I suppose it is the same as the lady in at Job 2 the other day. She is a frequent customer and feels very comfortable there. So comfortable that she was about to try  on clothes and she told me, “There is an I  VAN   KA TRUMP blouse over there! IT IS I   VAN    KA TRUMP (she said it with stress and separated that way.) I replied, “Yes, she has one of the clothing lines that appear in our stores.” The lady retorts, “…but it is I VAN  KA TRUMP!!! What the hell?” Not sure whether she expected me to really come back with anything resembling agreement or disagreement so  I came back with, “Yes, Mam. We offer many choices in our stores. Thanks for coming in today.”

The offerings we have in life are often surprises to me. They would not even be on my radar as a choice to make or one that I would even float out there for another.  Ivanka Trump has a right to have her clothes in any store that will have her clothes just as that lady has a right to be in any store that will have her. I guess Facebook can offer me a limited number of preferences as I can limit the business that I shop that they advertise, but just like that lady said about I VAN KA, I want to say to Facebook, “What the hell?” Clearly it made no difference in the outcome for that lady…or this one.

It is Fat Tuesday so there are too many preferences anyway.

Giving Up Facebook for Lent? Not Me.

This time of year when Lent is almost here, I read posts on my Facebook feed about people changing up their usual days by “giving things up for Lent”. This is something people I know did for as long as I can remember. I became aware of people of the religious bent that I was most heavily involved with, starting to do this themselves in the 80’s (maybe it was always a thing for my circle, but I was seriously busy for a few decades, so maybe I wasn’t paying attention).

What I understand most people are doing is refocusing something they thought they have been too interested in and refocusing their interests on something they feel they should be more interested in. That covers chocolate to Facebook.

I have read that fasting is not a bad idea health wise as long as it doesn’t go for days. Some people do that on an regular basis for that reason. Giving up the consumption of chocolate is also not a bad idea. There are benefits of eating dark chocolate, but the sugar in chocolate is just trouble. I would know. It would be even better to give up a meal of all chocolate. Again, I would know. It might even be beneficial to give up a meal of chocolate while on Facebook. That’s right, I would know

I know people who have gone off Facebook during Lent. I too have taken a vacation from it that lasted for maybe… 2 days, but it wasn’t “for Lent”, I think it was during the election cycle. I would think that Jesus would just say, “What? I took care of all the score keeping. I brought you love, so get on with love.”

If I would have quit Facebook even during the last month then this is what would have happened; I would not have learned about the deaths of 3 people. Why is this important? I would not have had the opportunity to tell the survivors that although I don’t know their exact pain, I am with them in friendship. I wouldn’t have had really great private message conversations with people I don’t usually talk to, but are connected with on Facebook. I got to tell them to take care of themselves and to wish them well. They also did that for me. Nice.

Then I got to tell three couples in the last two months how delighted I am that they are going to be wonderful parents after they posted about these momentous events.  How is that not a great opportunity?

I wished two couples more anniversaries. It is a big deal to be happily married and it is good to support that. More love shared.

In the last two months there were opportunities to wish 50 people a happy birthday. To tell someone that you see them and now have acknowledged them is priceless in anyone’s part as a human. Some people hide out on Facebook and are just lurkers. That is ok. It is nice to call them out for a “I see you and you matter!”

I will not be giving up anything “for Lent”. I could use some major modifications in my diet, my attitude, my walking around on the planet, how I represent Jesus….but that is every day. If it helps your spiritual life, then rock out, but beware of other missed opportunities.

 

 

 

You Can’t Un-see or Un-hear/Light Day

LALALALALALALALALA That is what you say loudly when you don’t want to hear things as you clamp your hands over your ears and shut your eyes with a grimace (now Grimance…well that just reminded me of the Hamburgler). I don’t think that I have ever really actually in real life done that. I wanted to though.

Some days I would never want to hear the seriousness of what someone is telling me, but I don’t really do that action during those times because….. I am an adult. I won’t give you examples because everyone has had them and we won’t go to those examples now. Those just make us cry.

I will go to the days that are not so serious, but still I don’t want to see or hear the stuff that is flying through the air in light and sound. Today I saw someone that had hair which looked like Sonic the Hedgehog and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine had a baby. I was so happy that after she talked for a few minuets  that what she had to say almost diverted me away from her hair. It wasn’t even blue. I think that if it would have been blue I would have liked it better right away because maybe it was a statement piece, but I think it was just her hair.

Once or twice when I had short hair I got up in the morning and my hair vaguely reminded myself of Wolverine hair and I posted a picture of that style on my Facebook page featuring Mr. Jackman. If I was Wolverine and looked like Mr. Jackman I could have pulled it off for the day, but since I am a woman currently knocking on the door to the end of the 50’s…well it is more than a stretch for me to look good like that for any day.

I also heard grammar that made me speak about them in my own head, “You got that job with that vocabulary? You have risen to that position and you don’t know that you are saying that incorrectly?” That always shocks me a bit and then makes me wonder what thing I have said that made people go, “WHAT? Does she even listen to herself?

I have these internal running convos with myself. So do you, so don’t judge.

I heard a grown up, educated someone say, “It costed a lot.” COSTED???? Then I heard at my other job, “Subtle,” when describing a nail polish. Here is the thing. The person pronounced the B. I know.

While I am quick to comment on another’s hair or grammar, I am sure that all will certainly not think too much of it when they find my typos and strange sentence structures here because….I hate to edit…much…about me….in my life.

Mae grayce an piece bee our’s.

Slip Sliding Ahhh

I am not a huge fan of the Paul Simon song, “Slip Sliding Away”, but we hear it all the time in context with slippery roads here in East Central Wisconsin. It certainly came to mind today on my commute.

When I drive to work I usually take a route that winds through one of the arteries of the university. School is back in session and my passing tends to coincide with the students hurrying to class. The students tend to not to use crosswalks and if they do, many are not interested in waiting their turn at crossing at the lights. They make me particularly annoyed, but I remember how stupid I was for something equally stupid a minute ago and sigh. I have often thought of how dangerously close to the curb edge they stand or how cold they are walking to school.

One of the things that runs through my mind is the same thing I fear for bicyclists on the bike lane next to my car lane….what if they should slip? What if they take a digger right in front of me? There is no car body to absorb some of an impact they might experience. I am rarely glad my brain does these anxiety exercises all day with most everything, but today was an exception.

Just as I was almost out of the gauntlet of the university, just about past the last high rise in that direction and before the bar corners representing the perimeter of the colleges, there he was.

The roads had that combination of salt, new snow and just the right low temperature to make that mess…I would call it, greasy sludge. This guy was walking a little too close to the edge of the sidewalk and started to lose his balance as the ADA sidewalk portion had him sliding into the road. In my path. In front of my car.

I could see his panic as he had no control over his feet or his direction. I am really glad that I saw him flailing and my anxiety over this happening every single day made me ready to stop. As his eyes appeared to get bigger and bigger he at last got a relieved look on his face when he saw that I was stopping….with plenty of room for him to recover and…..not die.

Me too.

I waved. He waved. He walked off.  The light turned green.

Who Are You to Do This?

A friend and I were talking today about our mutual tendencies not to finish things or to not start things in art even though we want to. She is a gifted artist and dear person.  Although we are far apart in age we have much in common in thought and I am grateful that one of them is to talk to people and share our ideas with someone in a different generation.

We often talk about opportunities to make things, how our brains get us side-tracked and “Did you see that color?”. We discuss how people got to be how they got to be as we don’t forget how we function in this world in not all easy or normal ways. We laugh too. She is easy to be around and anyone should be honored to be in her orbit, but we don’t always finish…or start.

I was talking about this book I am reading. I am always talking about a book I am reading/listening to and she is always interested. We don’t always get to talk as deeply about subjects as we want due to our time constraints, but we pass enough info back and forth to sustain our friendship. Maybe this is her jam too.

I told her about a theme in the book and it got her attention. The theme is, “Who are you to do this?”  I thought I don’t do things or finish things in creative lines because I wonder if I am asking myself in my heart of hearts, “Who are you to do this?”

Why should I start a blog? Why would anyone want to read your drivel? Why should I make that painting? You are not even good. Write a book? That is ridiculous. People don’t want to read stories about when you got bit by the dog or the hay wagon ran over your foot at a hayride or you sat for hours in a tree with your friends and ate tiny apples. Why should I start an art appreciation road in our neighborhood? The neighbors would think I am crazy.

The real questions should be, “Why not?’ Who cares? Because the answer is: God, who is gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, loves you as you are. You are, and that is why you should.

Amen