Friday, January 6, 2017

Miss Daisy today

January 6, 2017

Beth Voltmer
What I’ve learned from remodeling Miss Daisy

As we’ve moved through the tearing out of walls, cabinets, flooring and such, there is always a surprise.  The surprise can be good or bad…or just that, a surprise.  Earlier this week, I called the hubs, he was there and I was elsewhere.  He said, “well, you want the good news or the bad news?”  I always say, “just tell me the ‘news’” He goes on to say, “the good news is the wall under the 70’s
Car siding on one wall of the breezeway...soon to be a
laundry/multi-purpose room.  We'll put this all around the room.
paneling is car siding” This excites me!  Then, “the bad news is, I found two bats.”  I was overjoyed by the ‘car siding’ so, the bats, were no big deal.  He didn’t find them in the main house, they were hibernating, and he found where they had gotten in.  No harm done!

The hardwood floors underneath the carpet are beautiful and we’ll sand them down, renting a floor sander from McCoy True Value.  (I just love how convenient they are).  We’ll go a bit darker on the stain, getting it, also, at McCoy’s, bringing it more in line with today’s décor trends.  We’ll have to patch here and there, but the areas we’re tearing out and changing will offer us plenty of flooring to patch with. 


We’re going today to order the cabinetry.  It’ll take about five weeks for it to come in, so time is of the essence.  We’ve measured twice, three, four times, so there shouldn’t be any problems.  The minute I started working at Miss Daisy, I knew what I would do if ever I owned her. #missdaisy #411lincoln #burlapandroses #flippinghomes 

Miss Daisy

What I've learned while remoding Miss Daisy..

The hubs and I are embarking on a new adventure...remodeling our first flip property.  He retired back in September and I've been working on Miss Daisy off and on for the past couple of years, helping the family with "mom's" things, cleaning out and holding some tags sales for the.

The first time I walked into this sweet little house, I hoped someday it could be mine.  I "got" Miss Dazey, the owner of the home.  She'd been a long-time customer of mine at Burlap & Roses.  She and her daughter Joan would come to my shop in New Virginia, and we just grew to like each other.  So, when Joan contacted me about helping her out with "mom's home" I was delighted to do what I could.  Mrs. Dazey had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, was living with Joan and it was time to adequately clean out and ready the house for its next life.

I have loved being there, looking through her things, and in many ways, we are kindred spirits.  Mrs. Dazey, a long-time, beloved art teacher in Indianola AND a phenomenal artist, herself, saw potential in everything.  I could see what she may have been thinking when she collected various things.  She saved many of her students artwork; I bet she had every intention of finding them and giving their artwork back to them someday.  I recognized some of the names, and have returned some of the pieces to those I knew and there whereabouts.

I had told Joan that if ever the family wanted to sell, that I'd like a chance to purchase the property and bring it to it's finest glory...something that Mrs. Dazey and I would both approve of. Ideally, it would make a lovely retirement home for Steve and I, but, we won't be moving from the farm any time soon.  So, when the time came to sell, we got first chance and are now the very proud and honored owners of Miss Daisy!

Here are the first postings I've done and posted on Facebook.

Let's get organized.
Beth Voltmer
January 2, 2017


It is said that your kitchen should be organized into Zones. Five to be exact. The zones : Cooking, Cleaning, Prep, Storage and Food.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be providing tips on how to get organized throughout your home. We hope you'll find them helpful...whether you're getting organized, remodeling or going to build a new home.


Cooking: In this space, not only do you want your cooking utensils, pots and pans, but included spices, oils, vinegar, pot holders, trivets and the like.


Cleaning: All things related to cleaning should be placed together. Most generally close to or in the sink cabinet area. Cleaners, sponges, scrapers, paper towels, cloths, soaps, etc. This is the best and most likely place for garbage bags, bins and recycling, if you have room. Now days, cabinet makers are including recycling centers in cabinets.


Preparation area: Everything you need to prep food goes here. Mixing bowls, cutting boards, knives, mixing spoons, small equipment like blenders/mixers, etc. Within this area, you may want to install a Mixing cabinet, which houses a pop-up shelf that houses your Kitchenaide style mixer, food choppers, and the like.
The other cabinet you may want to install or retrofit would be a place to house all your baking sheets...go upright!



Storage: Think on those things you use everyday: plates, glasses, silverware, food containers and small appliances. It's important to keep your everyday dishes, glassware, silverware and such in close proximity to the sink and dishwasher. In this same area, you'll want to have all your towels and washcloths, too!

January 2, 2017

Beth Voltmer,
What I've learned while remodeling Miss Daisy.
We're in the tear-out stage of the property we're remodeling to sell. It's always interesting to see what has dropped between walls and floors. The construction shows it was some sort of "kit" home, but not a Wausau type. We are learning there are several homes like it in the area. Trying to find out who built and developed the area...it's daunting.
So, the two areas that are getting completely renovated are the kitchen and bath areas. I'm enjoying the design process, keeping in mind the five zones, I wrote about earlier.
I've got the cabinet choices picked out, and have picked my samples out of possible choices for for paint; both interior and exterior. I've grabbed them here, at McCoys. I like to take the chips and put them up in the light they'll be used in.
Here's a photo of the exterior of the house as it sits now.

January 3, 2017

Beth Voltmer
What I've Learned While Remodeling Miss Daisy


One of the first things we did, prior to anything else, was to contact the City of Indianola, to inquire as to codes, rules and regs on remodeling a house. What we could do on our own and what has to be done by a licensed professional.


Some of our concerns were about the size of door openings. We found out that at least one exterior door has to be 36" wide. Minimum for a doorway going into a bath, 24". Seems a bit small, doesn't it?


We've found that McCoy's offers such a convenient in-out setup, we like getting all of our supplies and many of the materials we've needed so far here. A real time saver, when you don't have to walk all over kingdom come to find something.


The paint chips are fun...but oh so different looking in different light. It's going to be harder to figure out than I first thought it'd be.  One of the nicest things about getting paint here, is they keep everything on record, defining and labeling which rooms of the house the paint goes to. Such a great service!



The photos show the tear out to the entryway into the house. We are taking this entry out and moving it to the breezeway area of the house. By doing this, we'll create a dining area adjacent to the kitchen. 


Monday, November 21, 2016

Today...I'm home-keeping and I'm happy and blissful.

It seems my life works around blocks of time.  For instance, last week, it was focused on getting my shop ready for the weekend sale I was having.  This week, it's blocked out for home-keeping and preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

There are many things that make me happy...and blissfully so.  Nothing compares to having the grand-kids here.  It's always lovely when all my kids are spending some time with us.  Traveling with my hubs is at the top of my blissfully happy list. There's plenty to make me happy and blissfully so, but, I must say, there is something about home-keeping for me that satisfies my soul; that touches me in a way that is comforting.peaceful.reassuring. 

As I sat down to write, Louis Armstrong is singing in the background.  And, the song is one of my favorites:  What a Wonderful World. How perfect.  How blissfully good for my soul.  I'm in my happy place.  

Whether I'm hanging new curtains, wiping down walls and base-board or just doing mundane laundry, at times, it's just pleasant and something I really love to do.  And, music in the background allows me to put a little hand pump, swish and sway and a bit of groove to my duties. If you knew me, on a personal level (and some readers do) you'd get a vivid picture, I'm sure.  

Not everyone feels this way.  The thought of being at home doing the mundane home-keeping chores drives them insane.  Me, too, at times.  About four times a year though, I really get into it.  

Maybe it's the changing of the season, maybe because company is coming.  Or, maybe it's just an inane need that I can't really put a "reason" too.  All I know is that I'm doing it and loving it.  

I've always loved being at home; never really tire of being here.  I've always known I wanted to be a home-maker.  I enjoy keeping my home relatively clean (minus the daunting and excessive dust and areas of creating).  I don't really mind cooking and baking. My interests have a home & family basis.  I like the ebb and flow of it all.  I need it, for my soul, about four times a year.

Today it's the upper level that's getting a good clean.  Bedding laundered, a new look to some of the rooms by changing out the top covers.  I love this warm and cozy time of year and want the bedrooms to convey this.  Vintage quilts, coverlets, and old wool blankets are coming out of the closet.  Flannel sheets have been on for quite some time.  In Iowa, we've only needed the furnace and warm blankets on this past week.  It's been unseasonably warm...hot, actually, for this time of year.  A picture perfect fall, as far as I'm concerned.

The lower level will get tackled tomorrow along with roasting the turkey and a fire going in the wood-burning fireplace.  I haven't gotten any fall decorations out at all, so, for this year, I'm forgoing them and going straight to the Christmas/winter holiday decor.  That'll come out after Thanksgiving though. I'm more of a seasonal decorator, rather than specific holidays. I find I'm too busy to change everything out so often.  Seasonal it is for me.  How do you decorate?

Today...I'm home-keeping and I'm happy and blissful.  I want to make my home warm and inviting for those I love most, because, as the sign says, "What is most important almost always involves the people around us".  Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

So, just what can one man or woman do?

I decided to get up this morning and do something I've not done for awhile.  I didn't turn on the t.v., I didn't get on Facebook or email, other than to check for important or timely messages.  No, I made coffee, gathered some reading material and came to my porch.

It's such and amazingly beautiful day. A perfect early summer morning.  To sit in silence and really listen is remarkable.  The variety of bird song, cars in the distance humming along, and the rustle of leaves from the nearby birch tree make me happy.  Three little sheep are enjoying a patch of clover...outside of their designated confines, but they aren't hurting a thing.

I picked up my non-ceasing pile of home decor magazines.  Seems I don't ever take the time to enjoy looking through them much anymore, either.  As I was grabbing and heading out the door, I picked up the book, Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul.  I bought it at a garage sale some time ago; read a couple stories and there it has sat.  Good intentions.

Today is different.  I read a story from the book first.  Barnaby Conrad was telling the story of how he came to know the now famous, Alex Haley.  You know him, or should if you don't.  Alex wrote the award winning book, Roots, which subsequently became a movie.

At one time, Alex told Barnaby the story of his dad, Simon Haley, who had dreams of going to college.  He was a hard worker and was burning the candle at both ends, trying to work and go to school, concerned he'd have to give up his dream.  He took a job as a Pullman porter and it was there that he met, R.S.M. Boyce.  Mr. Boyce had retired as an executive of the Curtis Publishing Company.

Mr. Boyce took an interest in the young Mr. Haley and they spent some time chatting.  He found out about Simon's life, his dreams and ambitions.  It wasn't too long after the chance encounter that Simon received a check in the mail from Mr. Boyce in the amount of $500.00.  It was enough for a full year's tuition and living expenses for a year.  That amount enabled Simon to graduate, first in his class.  He then won a scholarship to Cornell University for a master's degree.

A chance meeting, where being a polite and alive young man, collided with an inquisitive, discerning and generous man, changed, most likely, both of their lives.  One in an overwhelming way and the other, in a quietly proud way.

What can one man or woman do?  This story speaks volumes to me.  The ripple effect of this good deed goes on for years, centuries, millenia.  Changing Mr. Haley's life's course of continuing in the sharecroppers livelihood and poverty was halted because of one man.  Mr. Haley went on to have four children.  Alex, a famous writer and play write; George, chairman of the U.S. Postal Rate Commission, Julius an architect and one girl, Lois, a music teacher.  This all happened in 1918.

So, just what can one man or woman do?  Don't you find this inspiring?  One man, meeting another man changed the course of life for all those who's lives have been changed by this one act for generations.






Friday, August 7, 2015

Busy.Busy.Busy...Warren County Farm Tour

I've dubbed our place, Peace & Plenty Farm.  I feel at peace and always have when I've been here.  We purchased part of the farm that my hubby grew up on a few years ago.  It's where his parents lived when we first met and started dating.  I loved it the first time I visited...what's not to love?

The house sits smack dab in the middle of the original 400+ acres.  A portion has been sold off to the west of the house now, my in-laws live on the 160 acres to the north of us and we own the back SE corner. It's a half mile view and drive to any other road in on three sides of us.  We are blessed with neighbors in the distance, but not right "next door".  We love it!

When family and friends visit, they, too, have felt a sense of peace and tranquility here. A place to unwind, enjoy the quiet and all the pleasantries of living in the country.  We raise beef cattle, have a small garden and have plans to get chickens.  We find it provides our needs.  Thus the Plenty in the name.
When I heard that a few individuals were planning a Warren County Farm Tour, I was interested!  I volunteered Peace & Plenty farm right away and was thrilled when we were selected. 

It's been a labor of love.  Visitors will see the finished projects.  Here's a before photo of the shop that my husband works on tractors, boats, the vehicles and sometimes, projects for Burlap & Roses.  It needed a facelift and got one this past winter/spring. 

You can see a portion of the refreshed shop in this photo.  You can also see the rafters for the shelter that was built at the pond.  These cedar logs were harvested from our farm.  Another project of my hubby!  We collaborated on the design and he seems to get it all together and brought to fruition. 




Here are a few additional photos of our home...the before photos of projects that were a long time coming and are now complete.  Nothing gets you in the mood for getting things done than an event held at your place.  No more procrastination.  We are making headway. 

When we first moved here, approx. 9 years ago, we did some major renos,  Windows, doors, remodeled the upstairs adding a bath, laundry and rerouting a hallway to the sleeping porch.  We also remodeled the kitchen and dining room.

Stay tuned.  I'll write again on this venture in the next few days.  In the meantime, follow the farm tour at:  www.warrencountyfarmtour.comhttp://warrencountyfarmtour.com/
and LIKE the Facebook page:  Warren County Farm Tour/FB

Friday, June 5, 2015

In the studio, Websters Chalk Paint projects

I've been in my element this past week...readying things for the Rustique Ranch Flea & Vintage Marketplace this weekend.  I really like the setting of this show and it's so easy and accessible for the vendors and show goers as well. 

 This is a great sofa table that will be great used as that, a sideboard in the dining area, entry table or even a desk for a narrow space. 

I did a bit of gluing and tightening up, then painted with True Value paint in Whale, mixed with Websters Chalk Paint Powder that I sell at McCoy True Value in Indianola.



Always starting with a clean, no chips or peeling paint, nice and sturdy, I put on two coats, then distressed on the edges, then I finished this piece with two coats of Minwax Polyurethane in satin.






 I have two metal desks that came out of a warehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.  Super cool and industrial.  I had fun with these pieces.









Cleaning and removing loose rusty areas were needed.  I then painted using the same True Value paint in Whale.  I then stenciled the chevron pattern, giving it a modern look.
After distressing with sand paper, I finished with Fiddes Wax in Jacobean, adding depth and interest.  I did then add two coats of poly for added durability.




I spray painted the original lucite (I hated to, but) handles in yellow and put some paper down inside for a more finished look.  I love how it turned out.

Perfect size for the entry way, a child's room or small area for writing, paying bills, etc.


Then, I had scraps of barn wood and rusty, corrugated metal decorative cut outs that I put together for some fun and interesting decorations for the home, deck, garden shed, etc.

I had allot of fun with these and have several.

If you'd be interested in my Chalk Paint workshops at McCoys or other areas, please email me your interest or comment here and I'll add you to my email news notices.
vintagegalbeth@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fulfill your dream...it's the joureny that gets you there.

The other day I was chatting with a friend who's husband was in ministry and decided to close it down...he had a church.  She said he was still a bit disappointed and felt unsuccessful.  I understand, I've had a few unsuccessful go a rounds myself.  But, you know what, I've learned to accept those "failures" as stepping stones to what really does work for me.  I've grown and discovered what I like and more importantly, what I don't like on my journey.  Which, it's the journey after all, that gets you to where you're supposed to be.

It's true, you know!  We all have dreams and very few of us even attempt to try fulfilling them.  How many people do we know that are too terrified to even take one small step into the direction of their dreams.  Just to even try is success to me.  

There is a lot that goes into having a business.  Over and above the financial side of things, there's the time commitment, which turned out to be my demise.  I loved the idea of having my own shop.  I tried it in New Virginia, then moved to Indianola (which was the icing on the cake for me).  However, I learned quickly that running a shop full time is not for me.  I don't enjoy being confined to a set schedule.  I just don't operate that way.  

I discovered, it's the hunting, gathering and repurposing that I really, really dig!  Had I not tried the other, I wouldn't have known.  The longing to have my own shop would continue to override my thoughts.  I had to try it to get it out of my system.

Once I closed, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  I tried having two booths at two different antique malls. It started out great, but overall, just did not fit for me. So, I'm committing to doing shows this summer, once a month.  I'll camp during the show at my spot...another love of mine.  It'll be a fun get away for me, combining the things I love.  I'll have no t.v., but I'll have my writing, reading and dreaming with me. 

I also found a sweet little shop in Winterset...an occassional sale; open once a month, that seems to fit my "personality".  

It's all good.  If you don't try, you'll  never know.  If you don't try, you'll never get that "dream" out of your system.  And, there are many, many ways to fulfill your dream...it's in the journey that gets you there.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Crossing the Great Divide Part II

“Disparate treatment leads to disparate impact.”


In an earlier post, I started with the above quote.  I said I would get back to it in my next post...I fibbed.  I wrote another post in-between and it's been more than a few weeks since I did that.  

Since I wrote part I, on this subject, another young black man has died at the hands of the police. This time, it happened in Baltimore, Maryland.  This, too, has triggered riots and racial discord.  The six policemen involved have been charged with homicide.  Time will tell if a jury finds them guilty, but for now, the investigation has found them worthy of being held accountable for their actions.  A step in the right direction.

It feels, to me, like an uprising.  A revolution.  A time that we must all evaluate just how we, personally, contribute to the racial discord...intentionally or unintentionally.  

Let me just say that, I, in no way, shape or form condone the rioting.  I guess, "two wrongs don't make it right" applies for me here.  I also don't believe that most anyone does.  Black, white, pink or purple.  With that said, as I continue my path of "Crossing the Great Divide", I'm willing to look at and consider my contribution, and most definitely not an intentional one, to the situation.  I invite you to take this path with me...

When this all first came about, last August, 2014, and as I wrote about in my first blog post on this subject, I took a step which involved having a discussion with a black man.  I wanted a better understanding and a different perspective.  After all, aren't most opinions and biases based on our own personal experiences...albeit it, perspectives.

When I sat down with Pastor B, a youth minister at the church we're going to, he explained to me the black person's plight, and I would bet, most generally speaking, the black man's plight.  This is when he used the term, “Disparate treatment leads to disparate impact.”  I had to have him explain it to me.  This is what he said, 

"Disparate treatment is when you have people experiencing the same or similar situations but consistently receiving different or unequal treatments.

Disparate impact is the results of disparate treatment.  The impact of continual disproportionate treatment. How that treatment has effected people."

These two terms are important and have really stuck with me.  I think they are worthy of everyone's consideration and something to remember...in all our life experiences.  Here's a loosely based analogy.

Let's look at the hot topic within our schools; BULLYING.  A person gets singled out, time and again, for whatever reason.  Let's say it happened to his father and to his father before him.  They had the same tendencies, personality traits, their walk of life never had changed, generation to generation.  The grandfather was bullied, the father was bullied and so is the son. 

After awhile, it plays on their psyche.  Their confidence.  Who they are and how they feel about themselves.  It's constant and relentless behavior on the part of the ones doing the bullying.  The conversations in the home are ones of defeat, poor image, self doubt.  No one stands up to the bullying...no one comes to the rescue.  Because of the way they have been treated, time and again, the results are how it has effected the family.

To me, this is what is happening in the black community.  In easy terms, there has been a lifetime of bullying.  That lifetime of bullying has reached it's pressure point and we see it in the "acting out" of their frustrations, anger, disappointments and struggles.  No, I don't get it!  But, I never will...it's not my journey.  But, I can try to open up my eyes to their struggles.  I can learn to ask the questions and enter into a conversation to get a different perspective.  

I've done it time and again...spouted off my opinion, based on "my" view, without really considering how someone else may be feeling about the same situation.  How something is effecting them.  However, if we think about it, don't we have more compassion for someone that has gone through a similar situation, let's say, the death of their grand parent.  We can relate.  We have some knowledge of what they are feeling.  I want to attempt to think about another's "perspective" before forming my biased opinion and SHARING it.  It's a struggle...sometimes it's out there before I take a breath.  OR, worse yet, before I've even really thought about the situation.  I'm really trying to do better.

Crossing the Great Divide...I've started the process and I know I have someone that I can go to to chat with on this subject.  He honored my "lack of knowledge" by respecting me and understanding my naivety.  I started the conversation with an upfront apology.  Asking him to understand I was not coming from a place of intentional disrespect or hurtfulness.  Really, I was coming from a place of ignorance...on the subject.  

In my next post on this subject, I'll write about his comment, "
“No conversation starts at an argument, it escalates to aggression.”  It again, opened my eyes to how "things" get started.  With our friends, our spouse and especially our children.  Stay tuned.  

Please leave a comment here...I'd appreciate your thoughts.  Feel free to share with your friends, as well. #disparateimpact #disparatetreatment #racialdiscord #blackmansfight #racerelations #conversationswithablackman #crossingthegreatdivide

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's springtime and the living is easy

The grass is green, the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding out.  Lilacs scent the air and in vases in my home.  It's just a special time of the year...don't you think? #lilacs#flowers#spring#specialtimeoftheyear


Our neighbors across the road from us are enjoying new babies.  Goats, sheep, and kittens.  They share their photos on Facebook, and it really does bring a smile to my face.  Not much sweeter than new babies dotting the countryside. 
#newbabies#goats#oldmcdonaldsfarm


Monday, March 16, 2015

Websters Chalk Paint Powder Inspirations

This trio enjoyed an afternoon in January at a Websters Chalk Paint Powder workshop I held at McCoy True Value Hardware in Indianola.  I provide the materials and project pieces or they can bring something of their own.  It's fun and enjoyable for me and I sure hope for the participants.  Follow McCoy on Facebook for upcoming workshop events held there.


Ammie transformed a 70's mug stand into a jewelry holder for her little girl.  This piece went from dark brown to a happy turquoise color and finished with a stencil and clear Fiddes Wax.

Isn't this adorable?  It started out as a tiered boring and bland serving piece.  It's all happy and delightful.  The workshop participant is going to use it for jewelry, too!

Anita took a tired metal planter and freshened it up with a rich red, then sanded the piece down on the raised areas to the original metal. It turned out fabulous and she was thrilled, as was I.  

Websters can be used on most any surface.  The best part...it eliminates most, if not all prep work. 


A vintage chair gets a facelift with Websters and True Value Paints in Whale.  Distressed in all the right places and places in my booth at The Brass Armadillo. It SOLD in good time.

These two pieces turned out beautifully.  I had so much fun refreshing both of them.  The cabinet is actually a vintage sewing cabinet.  I decoupaged vintage wall paper on the top of the cabinet.

The Eastlake style shelf is gorgeous.  Whale (true value paint) and Off White (True Value) gets finished with Jaccobean Fiddes Wax.

A vintage stool is refreshed with Websters and Whale paint, then topped with a vintage feed/seed bag for a fun, modern country look.

Another trio and their finished products.  All left happy and with product in hand to complete more projects at home.  Another fun and inspiring day for me...and them!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crossing the great divide…one HUGE step in the right direction. Part 1.



“Disparate treatment leads to disparate impact.”
“No conversation starts at an argument, it escalates to aggression.”

These are two quotes from a middle aged man I had a great conversation with.  I want you to think about them.  A rather handsome guy, a Christian, smart and much more ‘worldly’ than I. His history goes deep and he was raised in the south.  Memphis, to be exact…in the ghetto!

The idea and experiences that go into the writing of this blog post began many, many years ago; as a young girl…almost 40 years ago now.  I went to school in the NE part of Des Moines, Iowa.  Not the “east side”, which was a couple blocks away (the boundary line).  The two blocks might as well have been 2000 miles, really, in what I was accustomed to; acquainted with.  The differences within the walls, schools, neighborhoods and community.  More color…more culture…more diversity…more racial conflict.  Two blocks away!  And, Des Moines was worlds different than Memphis.

My school boundary lines started, as I stated, two blocks from where I lived, which meant that I did not go to a school within “city” limits.  We lived on the county side of Polk County.  We were predominately a Caucasian school.  I’m trying to think if we even had a person of “color” in elementary, as I write this, I’m reminded of one family of Hispanics.  We didn’t even have a huge difference in economic status.  We were raised in a very naïve, sheltered and culturally deficient environment (IMO)

However, in Jr. High, that changed a bit…a very small bit.  There were a couple more Hispanic families.  And, only a couple, that I recall.  Then, one day, a young black man came to our school.  Then, during black history month, we had a class outing to a Jr. High School in Des Moines. The student body was predominately black.  I realized for the very first time in my 13-14 years what it was like to be a minority.    It was one of the best days of my childhood.  I was intrigued, I was enlightened, I was interested.  That has never left me.  

To this day, I still do NOT have one girlfriend of “color”. I am 53 years old.  I have one that is German, one that is Finnish, one that is Japanese and a couple that are from Australia. How shallow is that!  Even more…how sad is that!  I’m on a mission to change that.  Not to have a ‘token’ black friend or Hispanic, or any other ethnically different friend…but, so I learn and grow and become a better person…for me, my family, and community and beyond.

We have hosted exchange students.  I had a pen-pal from Korea when I was in grade school.  Engaging with those with different backgrounds is very important to me and I love it.  I thrive on it as a matter of fact. 

Okay, are you wondering where I’m going with this?  Let’s fast forward to about a year and a half ago.  I and my husband, Steve, had quit going to our church; for various reasons.  Out of the blue, I sent a message to an “acquaintance”…not really a friend-friend.  I asked her if she was aware of any Bible studies in our area.  She replied, “We are going to start one in September”.  Now, how odd is that?  We started with the Life group that September and a year and a half later, we’re still going and have been a part of their church for a year.  These things, to me, are God things.  I have no other explanation, nor am I interested in looking for another.  That is my Faith in action. 

We knew the church would be different than our Methodist experience.  We knew it would be a bit more vocal, musical and a bit more charismatic.  What we were not anticipating was the diversity. Specifically, the number of black people.  Well, I was instantly intrigued, enlightened and interested. 
Last August, the Sunday after the Ferguson shooting, where a young black man was killed by a white police officer and riots ensued, our pastor said something to the effect of this:  In this church, we have an opportunity to reach out to each other. We are rich in diversity…ethnic, cultural, religious, political and generational.  We should be sitting down with each other having conversations.  Asking the question…how does this affect you?  How are you feeling about what is going on?  Rather than set out with our opinions and feelings and irritations.  That really made me think to myself, how often do I do just that.  I like to think that I’m pretty open minded.  But, I was struggling within myself.  

A few days later, the man I referenced above posted something on Facebook (I had reached out to him and a few others in the church early on through FB).  He was sharing an incidence that had occurred with his son.  His words, ”if this isn’t racial profiling”…made me stop in my thoughts.  I was irritated by this.  Then, the pastor’s words came back to me. I was INSPIRED to do just what was suggested; I needed to reach out and sit down and have a conversation with this man.  Find out where his thoughts and words were coming from. It took us awhile to get it done, but, we did.  I’m so grateful that he was open to doing this.  My first real conversation with a black person in 53 years of living.  

We were comfortable with each other.  My first question to him was, “is it okay to refer to you/black people as ‘blacks’?  Can you believe it?  But, that is how naïve I am.  I didn’t want to offend him.  I also made it clear that I had no intentions to offend, and if I said something wrong or hurtful, it was coming from a place of not knowing.  He assured me that it was fine.  

We talked about several things, but the two quotes at the beginning of this post have stuck with me and I’ve shared them with several people.  The comments started me on my way to crossing the great divide.  To listen, to learn and understand.  I invite you on this journey with me.  I’ll endeavor to explain the meaning behind the two quotes in my next post.