Two in the Shadows

The summer is waning. The light is different now on sunny days here in Southeastern Wisconsin Wisconsin. It has the feel of September, even if it’s still August.  The air has been cool and crisp. Absolutely lovely.

After dinner,, Tom and I  have gotten in the pattern this summer of taking walks. Our youngest, Emily, rides ahead on her scooter or bike, and we talk a bit while we stroll the neighborhood. The walks aren’t always long.   We have a short route and a longer route we take when so inclined.

I see us in our lengthening shadows, the two of us. I like holding Tom’s hand.  It’s a feeling of being safe and loved.  I tell Tom what’s going on in my world, and he tells me what’s on his mind. I save up small tidbits from the day to tell him about when he gets home. Nothing usually big, but something I know he’ll appreciate.  We don’t usually talk about anything political. Things are so vile in our country that it pollutes our time together to even discuss it.

Our home has a small porch.   We’ve made good use of it since moving here. It’s big enough for a couple of chairs, and we sit and watch the world go by after our walks.  The scene is peaceful. We don’t always need to chat. Companionable silence is a beautiful thing where we can hear the wind chimes in the Magnolia tree and watch the birds.

Soon the leaves will be turning colors, and the air will have a nip in it. I will miss our times on the porch. We recently replaced our love seat at home with a new one. It is exceedingly comfortable. When evenings “draw in” as they used to say, we will sit there for our chats with a log on the fire. The weather changes, but the need to reconnect  at the end of the day does not.

I can’t stand TV or even DVD movies. Tom and I have never been able to connect over that. My hearing troubles long ago shut down that kind of thing, even with good hearing aids.  Articulation gets lost. One thing this does is give us time to just talk and be together without the intrusion of media.  No distraction.

I know that marriage counselors have various strategies for couples  who have relationship troubles.   Many lose that feeling of connectedness with the various pressures exerted on families today, and they don’t even realize it is happening. Tom and I have raised (almost) six children together, and have been through many a difficult season in our lives Some years, it  has felt like it was raining crises. But one thing I highly recommend is just sitting and talking. Listening and being listened to in kindness.  Our loved ones all face battles, external and internal. Every one of us does. A lot of therapists would be put out of business if couples could learn the value of talking and listening, without judgment or impatience. It has a healing effect like  no other.

The country and world increasingly look like a violent insane asylum. Whatever comes, I know that those evening walks with Tom will always be embedded in my heart. Feeling his warm hand holding mine, seeing our shadows together, watching our little girl, her legs growing longer all the time, riding ahead on her scooter.

These times can’t be recovered. We pass this way, we spend each day only once. Every hour is precious.  Every walk.

 

 

 

 

 

What Haters Lose

I’ve been targeted  by a man for 31 years in May. He’s a relative with too much time on his hands and very little to do but follow my life, read this blog and send attack emails in hopes of causing injury and angry reaction. It used to be hurtful and confusing. It is now a source of humor and pity, simultaneously.

When we have real love, we have no need to hurt other people for sport. The sight of blood in the injury of someone else causes horror and concern, not pleasure, if you are a loving and normal person. That is one big “if.”

The goal of this kind of sad person is always pain. But they won’t say so. They will wrap their true goal in regal robes of religious pomposity or faux concern. These people have a barge full of personal garbage in their own lives, and worst of all, they think nobody knows it. But that doesn’t stop them from going full on pharisee about the lives of others. It’s chuckle worthy if you can see the humor in it. If not, shed a tear for them.

The beauty of the passage of time, lots of it, is that it brings things into focus in a way that makes you wonder why you didn’t see things as they were years before. Pathological antagonists are sad people. They are worthy of pity and prayer.

I think how different lives like this would be if they had lived in love. The very thing hate-filled people supposedly crave could be theirs–a lifetime of it. Because respect sown into the lives of others grows respect. Love and understanding grow love and understanding. You give and find out that what little you gave comes back to you in far greater amounts. It’s how God designed it.

Belittling someone’s pain, adding to it, mocking, judging, attacking, piling on in someone’s life at difficult moments, dear stalker, if you only saw yourself as God and others see you. If you only knew what you have thrown away on the altar of pride and malice. You could have had it all, untold riches of generational love and respect. True wealth.

When you are dead. When your lifeless form lies silent and cold at the funeral home awaiting burial or cremation, what do you want people to say about you? That you were one kick-rear business person? That you had a great house and pool or the best vacations money could buy? That you were a great communicator or blogger or athlete or leader who fought moral evil or (fill in the blank)?

This is what I want others to think about me when I’m gone. I want them to know that I loved people. That I grieved when things weren’t right with them. Maybe too much so. That people were important to me, even if I was not important to them. That I have a heart that was easily pricked and convicted. That I shut nobody out permanently. That I was always open to sincere reconciliation, even if nobody was interested in sincerely reconciling.  That I may have had differences, but that I didn’t hate anybody.

I have been married to a man for 22 years in June. His hallmark is humility and kindness. He has never deliberately and maliciously hurt anyone. He is moved with compassion so easily, it amazes me. He once got up in the wee hours to bring a bag of food to a former colleague who had fallen on hard times–someone who had called, because he was literally without food. The man passed away shortly after that. He KNEW who would care, because Tom never turns anyone away with real need. He doesn’t judge people. I’ve seen this times without number.

I am blessed beyond measure to not only witness Tom’s love, but that of his beautiful family. They are role models for love in action, decades of it. I owe these people my life in many ways. Love like this restores your hope and counteracts the poison of lies from those who live in hate. It contradicts the haters who tell you, you are hopelessly flawed. You are the problem. You are wrong. You are defective. You are not worthy of my love.

Love says, I’ll take you, flaws and all. I will bind up the hurt places. I will cover you with my kindness. I will keep you warm when you are cold. I will listen when you open your heart and I won’t dismiss or laugh at you, I will believe you. You are worthy of love.  I love you.

That kind of real love makes another human being come to life again. It does something else.  It causes a person  to want to  return that love with everything they have. The haters will never know love–love that gives life and laughter and joy. The haters spend their years wanting blood and pain from a victim, hacking away with all their might, only to find out in old age that the only one they were really  injuring was themselves.  It could have been so different and so beautiful if only they would have loved and without conditions.  Could have been.  The saddest words in the English language.

Yesterday, I caught the blue of the sky as background for our magnolia tree in full bloom. God’s glory shining through his creation.

Quote of the Day

“You see, beloved, the Christian life is not one lived for self, but is lived in Christ and for others, most especially within the family. For many this seems too ordinary and mundane, not exciting or fun. But in truth it is the good life, the abundant life, the life that is received from Christ and shared in our vocations with those closest to us. And even though it is invisible to the world, even though it seems as though you could be, or should be something more extraordinary, even though it is difficult and time consuming and seemingly makes little difference, such a life is a great life! Amen!” — Rev. Tony Sikora

(My mother, Freda, and Emmy yesterday.)

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Love Is Very Strong

With so much brutality going on in the name of Christianity, it’s good to be reminded of what real love looks like. This children’s book quote says it well.

“It is so easy to worry, so easy to be afraid, so easy to lose hope. And once you’ve lost hope, you’ve lost something precious. It’s like losing your heart. Yes, it’s really that bad.

But when things seem to be at their very worst, we should not give up hope. We should never give up hope, because there is one thing that makes all the difference in cases like this. Know what it is?

Love.

That’s right. Love always trusts, always hopes, always persists. Love never fails, and it never gives up.

While love may seem like a weak, small thing, there is really nothing bigger or stronger than love.

It is made of very tough stuff. Nothing can shake it, or break it. Nothing can stop it.

And even when bad things happen, love is still toiling away, sight unseen, smoothing out the rough edges, making up the shortfall, untangling the snarls, bending all ends to the good. Love is stubborn. It never lets go…Love holds everything together. That is worth remembering, I think…”

(Brown Ears at Sea, Stephen Lawhead)

This is a paraphrase of what I Corinthians 13 says even more clearly.

 

October Fireside Notes

The smoke ascends to heaven as lightly
From a cottage hearth as from the haughty
Palace. He whose soul ponders this true
Equality may wall the fields of earth
With gratitude and hope.

~ Wordsworth, The Excursion

Oh, happy hearthstone! Oh, hour
thrice blest
Where peace is the handmaid, and
love is the guest.

~ Rose Elliot Smith

It was such a lovely weekend. The best weekends of all, for me, are spent pottering around the house, folding baskets of warm clothes  from the dryer, ironing Emmy’s school uniform blouses, shopping for groceries and spending evenings with Tom. Especially the evenings, talking with my husband.

Tom has a gap in music jobs right now, and the plus side is that he is able to do his own pottering around without the tyranny of an evening schedule. He painted the front hall this weekend. Only a couple  more rooms to go, and painting will be done. He takes his time, but when he is done, it is beautiful to see. He has an eye for the smallest detail.

It was a beautiful day yesterday. I took the longest walk yet all by myself when Tom and Emmy were gone for a while.  I ended up in the little German cemetery again. The play of light on the old stones and the seasonal changes to the trees make it the most peaceful place to wander around. Farther down the street there is a separate church cemetery with a black wrought iron fence surrounding it. The border of red Maple trees on the south end is so breathtakingly beautiful when the sun shines on them that it nearly takes my breath away. Em and I were driving home from school the other day, and the sun made the trees just glorious. “Praise you, God!” was all I could say. Em heard me, and now when she sees the trees, (they are losing the leaves but still have some of the beauties left hanging on them), she says the same thing from the back seat. “Praise you, God!” How wonderful that God left us so much beauty in a world that sin has so badly damaged.

My daughter-in-law, Laura, has been such a blessing and in many different ways. She is expecting our third grandbaby early next year, but took time to help alter Emmy’s frontier girl costume for school. The post office sorting machine ruined the first one we ordered, and the only one left was two sizes too big. Laura got out her sewing machine and in no time, she had it altered down to Emmy’s size. Emmy is looking forward to the Harvest Hoedown at school with a Davy Crockett theme. I’m grateful for Laura’s skill with sewing and willingness to help.

Thanksgiving is coming quickly. I heard about a looming pumpkin shortage, so I went and got some canned pumpkin just to make sure we won’t be without pie making material. Will is our biggest pumpkin pie fan, and he will be hoping for some. Speaking of Will, here he is on the organ with the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club at their homecoming concert a few days ago. Jubilate Deo means, “Be joyful (jubilant) in the Lord!” (Psalm 100)

A Good News Photo

I had to share this photo taken by my sister, Lisa. My brother-in-law Russ Turner and their kids, Anna, Rachel, Jesse and Adam. I love the people in this photo who are stellar in every way. There is much bad news in the world today. I like to counteract it for myself with good news. This photo won’t make the news, but it makes me smile. Happy families do that for me!

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An Obituary Full of Life

“So, I was born; I blinked; and it was over. No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor.But, I DID have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all my family members. How much more blessed can a person be?”

These lines are taken from an obituary sent to me by a friend. The words that were penned by the woman before she passed away sum up a life rich in many ways, but most of all in love. She wrote, “I’ve always maintained that my greatest treasures call me Nana. That’s not exactly true. You see, the youngest of my grand-angels, Ella Ashley Kramer and Finley Christian Kramer call me “Grand Nana…”

I don’t care what religion you claim to possess, what creed you profess, if you don’t cherish your own children and grandchildren, your own brothers or sisters, you’re very poor.To be pitied. And your religion, if it doesn’t produce love for your own family, is worthless.

I read through this piece several times, it’s so full of life well lived. The gratitude for blessings received is exemplary. As the woman wrote, “How much more blessed can a person be?”

That’s why counting blessings ought to be a daily exercise.

Count your blessings one by one
When dawn appears and day has just begun
They will light your heart with happiness
Make each hour bright and bring you gladness

Count your blessings one by one
When twilight falls and toil of day is done
And in sweet dreams they’ll come again to you
If you will count your blessings each day through

Count your blessings while you may
For we are here but little time to stay
All around are hearts sincere and true
Lovely things abound just waiting for you

Count your blessings while you may
The big or small, whichever comes your way
For then you’ll find this world a place of love
If you will count your blessings from above

Reginald Morgan & Edith Temple

A Little Fiesta

Our youngest turned six years old yesterday. Emily had the “fiesta” she requested with a taco feast. We are thankful for all the smiles and hugs and laughter this little surprise daughter has brought our family, and thankful that God preserved her life and mine six years ago. Her two little nephews, Peter and Max, were there with our son Sam, his wife Laura, brother Jonathan, sister Mary and Aunt Kris to celebrate with pink cupcakes. A good time was had by all. ❤

One of the traits I so love in Emily is her interest and love for other people. She sees a neighbor’s car pull up the street and runs to meet them. “I have to say hello to them!”

We met one of our neighbors through Emily’s friendliness.  We had been on a ‘wave only’ basis with the people for years when this summer, Emily went over and introduced herself and met the family dog. We began chatting out in the yard. “Why didn’t we do this before,” I wondered. We sometimes assume people aren’t interested in meeting us. Emily doesn’t have any such qualms, and I am glad. She brings sunshine and concern to those she meets. You really can learn a lot from children sometimes. A friend from afar sent her a doll with a bathtub and a fully packed doll diaper bag. She is hauling it all out this morning and requesting a doll bathing session for her new friend with fully washable hair. Fun ahead!

Emsfiesta

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Say it Now – In the Living Years

A friend of mine posted this on FB, and I remembered it from when I was in high school. Great song. Mike and the Mechanics. It cuts both ways, doesn’t it? The living years – we only have them for so long.  Soon it’s too late when we die. Don’t ignore the hand that reaches out, parent to child, child to parent. We don’t get another chance when we’re gone.