Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Humbling Years

The humbling years...yes, I think my forties will be considered MY humbling years.  As I enter into my 50th year of living on this earth, I say good-bye to my forties.  Although I've always been one to feel that each obstacle, stumble, heartache, smile, laugh, and triumph are all part of my life's story, I think I shall be happy that my forties are over.  Not literally, but figuratively speaking. 

Ever since I can remember, I've had a feeling that I would not make it past my forties.  As I was reminded one day, when I made this declaration to some co-workers, a gal piped up and said, "well, you still have a year to go".  We laughed, but I was taken aback by her remark.  It was made as a joke...I think?!?!  But, I have thought on that quite often, and, as I normally do, wonder how many times I've made a remark not meaning to hurt anyone...that would not be in my nature, but just being misunderstood.  With that said, it's important, I think, to choose your words carefully and how those words are presented.  One of the biggest lessons for me is that I'm quite often misunderstood and I'm always alarmed when I've found out I've hurt someone and not even realized it.  Whooo...that has been a biggie! 

My forties, I've been personally tested in my family relationships.  I've been taken to task with things I've said or how I've said them.  I've learned the real meaning of family, and of course, friends.  I've realized it's okay to let go of relationships that are not healthy and I've realized that to have a friend you have to be a friend. 

Have I learned and grown through these years...YES!  Mostly, I've learned that I have a voice, that my feelings are real and should not be poo-pooed away.  I've learned that standing up for myself is where it's at, because no one is going to do it for you.  And, I've even learned that sometimes relationships aren't whole...and not because of me, but because of something in the other person.  One time, my son gently reminded me that a particular situation was not "about me".  He was absolutely correct.  I don't have to be responsible for everyone and their happiness or struggles.  Right then and there I made the conscious
decision that I can't take the blame for or hold the bag for every situation that occurs around me.  I don't have to fix everything. 

I'm more sensitive than I realized and that others won't know they've hurt me if I don't tell them.  And, I've realized that if they've hurt me, but aren't really on my radar of relationships I need to uphold, then it really doesn't matter.  AND, I've learned that others may have, and most assuredly do have, those same realities about me, too, and that's okay. 

I've always had a fondness for the past...cherish the stories shared through the generations.  But, this past 10 years and most definitely the past 5, I have a whole new eagerness to learn and get acquainted with my ancestors.  The who and where's.  I'm almost hungry for it.  One of my favorite quotes that shares space on a photo frame chalkboard is this:  "It is not that I belong to the past, but that the past belongs to me."  I have no idea who the author is, but it resounds within me.  I am my past and it me. 

The past...at one time, it may have been considered that I was running from it.  Not any more and certainly not for a long, long time.  I like who I am and where I came from.  My story, however crazy, happy, humbling it is, is mine to tell.  Have I told it well so far?  Will my children rise up and call me blessed?  As I said, my forties have been my humbling years.  I have far to go and I've already been walking for miles...

Maybe, my fear that I would die in my forties, is fact...not literally, but figuratively.  Will I take the lessons of the past and use them to enhance my future?  Will I continue to make the same mistakes...I sure hope not.  Will my path lead me to continue what's been right and good in my life?  I sure hope so. They certainly have a place in my reflections.  One can only move forward, righting wrongs, saying the I'm sorries, showing forgiveness and trying to be a blessing to others...in simple, ordinary, but quite possible life altering ways.

I think, the BIGGEST and most IMPORTANT thing for me, in the midst of all my ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, I've been reacquainted with ME...who I really am and what's been right all along in my life.  Sometimes, the perceived realities in our life can take hold and begin to "form" us.  In my case, I felt like they were suffocating me.  Then, at one of my class reunions a few years ago, one of my classmates said to me, "You were always the nicest girl that came over from Norwoodville"  Hmmm...I knew I wasn't the most popular, smartest, prettiest or athletic, but, someone thought I was the "nicest".  Now really, what's so bad about that?  That one comment reminded of a past relationship I had with someone and a comment she said to me.  She accused me of being "too nice."  How can one be too nice?  TOO NICE, Really?

So, as I round out my forties and head straight into my 50th year...I think I shall continue to be nice, I think that's a great thing to be called.  I will reflect on the trials, tests and tribulations of my past, just to be reminded of who I really am and want to be.  A nice person who cares about her family, friends, acquaintances and community at large.  To carry with me that "kindness should not be mistaken for weakness" and to make this world...mine and yours, a little better place to be.  And INSPIRE you to do the same.  Ahhhh, the humbling years.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grandma made sure...

It's Christmas time and my thoughts return, once again, to my Grandma Grace.  She was very special to not only me, but to my whole family.  We were loved and accepted...no holds barred.  Her love was unconditional and you most definately felt loved and wanted and I'm pretty darn sure I'm not the only grandchild who felt this.  And, I'd be surprised if her own children or extended family didn't feel this same way.

Grandma has been gone for 21 years and to this day, I head to the phone to call and tell her about something that has happened.  I stop short of the phone and remember.  I miss her every day of my life.

When my birthday comes around, it's her card I long to find in the mailbox.  Always appreciative of the other cards I receive, quite frankly, non compare.  Please don't get me wrong...it's just that my Grandma was just that special to me and continues to be so to this day.

She was blessed with 7 children and many grandchildren. If my memory serves me correctly, at her death, she had 26 grandchildren.  There were several added and now, the greats and great-greats have been added.  She would have loved that!

I mention this because, at this time of year...Christmas, she never once left anyone out of a gift.  AND, to this day, although I'm appreciative of the gifts I receive, and the givers, non means as much to me as hers did.  It's her gift that I miss receiving to this day.

Now, her gifts were not over-the-top, expensive or one-of-a-kind gems.  No, hers were simple, everyday useful things.  Maybe a pair of gloves, socks, underpants.  Actually, now that I think about it, I don't really recall what we did get.  So, you see, the gifts were not the kind worthy of antiquity.  No, hers were symbolic of the joy of giving and making sure everyone had "something" to open...her never ending way of making sure we were all included and accepted.  LOVED!

A few times, I know others had to pinch hit for her.  I got to step in a couple of times myself.  It was pure joy to get to do this!  Socks for the boys...I remember socks for the boys.  For some reason, this is what I remember.  And, everything was wrapped as well.

One of the traditions that she had was each of the grandkids (at least us older ones) got a pair of red flannel pajamas or nightgown on our 2nd Christmas.  She made them herself.  This was one tradition I wanted to incorporate into my gift giving, but, I've fallen from "Grace" on that one.  AND, I only have one grandchild.  Mind you, she had several
grandchildren... boom, boom, boom.  A very prolific family.

She was a special lady to many.  Family first, neighbors and friends.  We were loved and accepted...no holds barred.  Her love was unconditional and you most definately felt loved and wanted.  I can only hope to be half of the grandmother she was to me. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Doe and cat...a mystery

One of the best things about living in the country is the splendor of watching wildlife up close and personal.  If one were to linger awhile and take in the view, they'd be surprised at just how much wildlife there is in our own backyards. 

If we can't see them, we surely can hear them!  On schedule, coyote's begin their chatter...one to the other.  Are they close or are they near?  At times, one cannot tell for sure. 

Much quieter and more polite, deer are grace on four legs.  I love to watch the deer.  Blessed with the opportunity to view them frequently from our home, they are amazing (inside a fence, of course) to see jumping, ever so swiftly, gently.

On one particular morning, I got to witness the most surprising and lovely thing.  Peering out a window from my bedroom, I noticed a doe walking along the fence line, which had a distinct path from our calves travels earlier this year.  The doe seemed quite apprehensive as she wondered down the trail.  Looking here and there, I wondered what she was looking for.  Not really acting like she wanted to jump the fence, she walked along back and forth.  Hearing but not seeing...

Eventually, out from the grass-lined fence came a black cat (I hope this didn't bring bad luck to the doe).  They looked at each other, then the cat scampered away.  Now, this is the most interesting part.  The doe followed the cat.  Keeping 10 steps behind, the doe continued to follow the cat into a patch of taller grass.  Of course, the cat was hidden, and the doe just paused, kept an eye on the moving grass and then followed along. 

It was the sweetest, yet most unbelievable thing taking place.  As I went about my business, I stopped again to peer out the window.  The doe was still there...looking around nervously.  The grass was not moving.  Where did the cat go?  I stood and watched for a bit longer.  A mystery to not only me, but the doe, as well.  She continued to look from one place to the other.  She seemed at a loss...where did her little friend go?

After awhile, the doe gave up and walked away.  I wonder what made her follow the cat?  I've not seen either since.  It was a lovely sight to see.  A most enjoyable way to while away some time.  A delightful memory to bring out every now again. 

The doe and cat...a mystery.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Price Freedom...

Today is Veteran's Day.  A day that is celebrated every year on November 11th.  A few year's ago I wrote a piece titled, What Price Freedom.  I'm sharing it again today.

What price freedom?  For most of us, we don't pay a price at all~it's here for the taking!  For the mere pleasure of living a life of freedom of choice, freedom of voice, freedom to live in a peaceful society, freedom to have an education, go to the church choose, support the causes we cherish, the freedom to send our children off to school...knowing that they'll come home.  There is so much we take for granted!  More took for granted than what is appreciated.  I mean really, really appreciated!  At what cost do we have our FREEDOM?  AND, more importantly, whose paid the debt for us?

My thoughts, in the quiet moments of the day, turn to the families who've paid the price for our freedom.  Those whose sons, daughters, husbands and wives, mommies and daddies, nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers, have paid the price...their lives.  As with most things, until something happens "closer to home" one never will have a true understanding of a situation.  And, unless it directly happens to "us", one does not get the full impact of the devastation.  Of course, we can empathize with the family, we can mourn with them, but we never, ever will understand their loss.

*at the time I wrote the original, the following was pertinent at that time.  A few weeks ago, three service men from Iowa lost their lives.  They were not in combat. They were, however, doing what they do every day, every week, every month...to make sure that we~America, are in the ready for any disaster that may occur...that may put our FREEDOM and safety in harms way.  One was a nephew of my son-in-law.  One of our own.  The fact that I was able to put a face with a name and name with a family I know, broke my heart and brought me to tears.  I saw first hand the price they paid...for my FREEDOM and YOURS!  "Brandon" had entered the armed forces post 9-11.  He most assuredly knew he'd be defending our country...and he did.  He served in Iraq for approximately 8 months.  He came home, but passed away during military training at Fort Bragg.

Whether we agree, disagree or are indifferent to the conflict that the United States is involved with today; the ones we've been involved with in the past and will surely be committed to in the future, the mere fact that we can have a view and can voice it, is reason enough for me to honor and praise our young men and women for their commitment to our country.  the defending of it, the willingness to fight for it...for you and me.  With the knowledge that ultimately it could be a cost them and the family loves them so.  Today, in America, they don't have to do it.  They choose to do this.  In many countries, it's still mandatory to give a certain amount of time to the military.

November 11th is designated Veteran's Day.  A day to honor and remember those who have given of themselves to their country and the freedom's we all enjoy.  What can we do to show our appreciation?  I leave that up to you individually to decide.  Maybe you'll do nothing, maybe a note will be sent, maybe a prayer will go out.  We all hear stories from those who served in Nam, Korea and maybe even the World Wars.  How can we honor and acknowledge each of them?  Those involved in the earlier conflicts were enlisted.  The fact that service to our country is "voluntary" today is probably due, in part, to the causes these men and women fought for.

Again I ask...what price freedom?  Well, freedom isn't really free at all, is it?  To those who have served, are serving, thank you.  It's because of you that I can drive or walk down the road and not fear a bullet.  My daughter can attend school along with my son.  I can work a job that I enjoy and make a decent living.  I can go to the church I choose, believe or not believe what I want, spend or save my money how I see fit, feed my family, help those around me and not be persecuted.  I can dress how I like.  I can walk with my head held high and my face uncovered...or covered, if that's what I choose.  I have a say in my household, elect whom I want and so much more.  Do we really have an understanding of what our FREEDOM is all about?  I leave you with that thought. 

And this folks, is the view from my front porch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It was my kind of day

It was joyous, refreshing, relaxing, contemplative...an absolute delight!  That's right...yesterday was my kind of day!  The temps were comfortable and prime for baking and cooking.   I had a great nights sleep, so upon waking, I had the energy of my earlier years.  Sometimes these days, that's not the case.  Without going into detail...suffice it to say "I'm mid-lifing it!" 

So, with an abundance of energy, clear thoughts and focus, I started the morning off my making banana muffins.  The bananas...they, too, were prime for baking.  Yummo!  I've had my favorite recipe for years. It's simple, but good.  Muffins are one of my favs to bake and are always nice to have on hand for a quick snack. 

That done, I was off to the next thing.  Using the last bit of roast leftover from last week's meal(s), I chopped, sliced and opened a few cans.  Dumping all into a pot, I let it simmer all morning long.  I must say, it was delish! 

Here's my recipe:  leftover roast, cooked to perfection, chopped or shredded into bite size pieces.  One
X-large can of tomato juice.  Three tablespoons of beef broth granules.  Fresh onion chopped.  One can each:  carrots, green beans, corn...whatever you have on hand; liquid and all.  Frozen peas(or canned).  Four potatoes (red) peeled and chopped to bite size pieces.  One bag of shredded cabbage.  Simmer, simmer, simmer.  Serve with a variety of breads.  I must say...another YUMMO!  and, leftovers, too.

Good and hearty.  My meal was complete with a large glass of milk. 

As my day continued...I was on a baking craze, I pulled out the pie crusts I had in the fridge.  Now, my intention earlier this fall was to make apple pies.  Our trees were ladden with them.  But, time got away from me, I was sick for a few days...one thing led to another and they didn't get made.  But, I was determined to get something made.  For interest, I decided to use what I had on hand...which actually, turned out to not be as much as I first thought.  However, I was determined.  Six pies later, I ended up with:  one cherry, one blackberry, two oatmeal and two pecan (with oatmeal).  Oh, and the pecan...I ran out of Karo syrup, too, so I added some honey to complete that requirement.  They turned out beautifully.  With that said, I prefer all Karo and all pecans in the pecan pie.  I'm a purist that way, I guess!

So, my day ended with a hearty bowl of homemade soup, dessert of pie and one very happy  hubby...he's a dessert kind of guy and unfortunately, I'm really not. So having dessert readily on hand is not on my radar. Now, to find freezer space for all the goodies.  I'm bound and determined to have these around for awhile and not eaten in a matter of days.  We'll see how that goes. 
It was joyous, refreshing, relaxing, contemplative...an absolute delight!  That's right...yesterday was my kind of day!  And this folks, is the view from my front porch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't Hog Your Journey...

My cousins, lil sis and me, circa 1968...
we're each a part of the others journey

"Don't hog your journey, it's not just for you." As I was listening to the Today show while working, Hoda Kotb was sharing a story. While on a plane, she was visiting with the gentleman sitting beside her. Chit-chatting away, she had mentioned she had had breast cancer. She asked him not to think of that if he ever thought of her in the future. He turned to her and said, "Don't hog your journey, it's not just for you." I kept thinking of that statement and have decided that I agree with it. What if no one ever shared their story~their journey...good or bad. My world would certainly not be as rich and full as it is now. I would not know of another's happiness, adventures, struggles. I would not be who I am today without knowing of another's journey.

Hoda's story is great, and deep, and more than just her breast cancer...for sure! We are all more than just one part. We are, shall we say, the sum of all our parts. I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter an entrepreneur...the list goes on and on. But, it's the sum of all of these things that makes me who I am today. I enjoy sharing my journey...it gives me great pleasure and I hope it adds to your journey, too.

The other day, I stopped by the "Music in the Park" event held at the city park in town. In amongst the music...which was very enjoyable, I heard someone get up and give a testimonial. I wonder, did his journey make a difference to someone else in the crowd. It did mine and I'm sure another's. Then I have to think...what if he didn't share his "journey"? What if he kept it to himself...I would not have known the depth of his story...his courage in sharing it. It has stuck with me...and, it removed me from my cares and woes and opened my mind, my heart, to another's struggles and triumphs.

Life is a Journey, isn't it? Sometimes we're on a mountain, sometimes we're in a valley. Most of the time, I'd guess we're just motating along on the plaines. Enjoying life, taking one day at a time, doing what needs to be done and just cruising along. To me, it's the mountains and valleys that we grow the most. We are pushed to our limit, only to find our limit can be pushed. We read something or hear of someone else's journey and we gain strength from it. We realize we're not alone. Somehow, we come out on the other side because of it...but don't necassarily understand where it came from. What if no one shared their journey? Who would be a better, stronger, wiser person because of your journey? Maybe your journey is told by your actions. How you reach out to your community members, volunteering, donating, a struggle overcome. Our journey's are shared in many different ways. The key is that it's shared.

"Don't hog your journey, it's not just for you." I would not be who I am today without knowing of another's journey. And this folks, is the view from my front porch.

Beth Voltmer lives on a farm in rural New Virginia

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Learning to peel...Grandma Grace style

I was peeling apple upon apple yesterday, readying them for an apple cake I was making.  As I started, knife poised just under the flesh, I was distinctly reminded of the time (in my early years of homekeeping) when I was peeling potatoes under the careful watch of my Grandma Grace.  Not knowing I wasn't doing it correctly, she quickly pointed out that I was wasting too much of the potato.  She showed me how to do it.  She'd be proud of me today.  I can peel a potato, apple, pear...whatever it may be, with the best of them.

It does take practice...this peeling.  Sliding the knife just under the flesh and peeling away the colorful top layer, leaving behind as much of the meat of the fruit or vegtable as you possibly can.  My other goal is to peel the fruit with one swell swoop.  No starts and stops.  I find that I point this same thing out to others at times, too.  I want them to be as proficient as they can be.  Not to waste anything so precious.

I think, my memories of my Grandma are most vivid and alive while I'm in the kitchen.  I can still see her in her kitchen now...21 years after she's passed.  A strong, sturdy woman.  Seems she was in her kitchen all the time.  That's where I remember her most.  It wasn't a big kitchen.  But, somehow, she managed and fed her brood of seven quite sufficiently from it.  There certainly was not a multitude of cabinets, nor counter space.  A very humble kitchen, to say the least.  A very humble home over all.  I loved it there. 

She was a great cook and a very generous lady.  She always seemed to have plenty for whomever was there.  No guest was "one too many".  Never an invitation only household...somehow, we all gathered there.  And, I do mean "we".  It may not have been the same "we" every Saturday, but there were plenty of us.  Saturday nights were hamburger night.  I can see her mixing the hamburger meat and it never failed, she always took one bite of the raw meat, spiced with salt and pepper, only.  Still  makes me gag.  I don't remember anything else being put in it.  I remember that, every single time I make a hamburger patty.  Funny what sticks with you, isn't it? 

Sundays, too, brought another set of "we's" and some of the same from the night before.  It was "just the place to be."  WE all loved it there.  And, WE all miss it terribly, even to this day. 

Right before my Grandma got really bad with her cancer, she came to spend a week with me.  I will forever treasure that time.  She seemed to have gained strength that week.  I wanted to her to show me how to make her vegatable stew, which she did.  Our cherry trees were heavy laden with fruit.  I wanted to learn how to make pie.  She happily obliged.  She rolled out the dough for the crust with every ounce of energy she could muster.  It just came from somewhere.  Maybe we both knew...if I were to learn this from her, and she to show me how, it was right then, or never.  She passed just a few weeks after I had her at my home.  It was one of my greatest accomplishments...to care for her like she had me for so many years.

She tired, but did not quit.  She sat down at my table and started working those cherries over.  De-pitting and de-stemming.  Before we knew it, we had cherry juice all over...and, I do mean all over.  I think we must have been so busy talking and cherishing that moment, we weren't really engaged in what we were doing.  It took me awhile to get that cherry juice cleaned up.  It was blissful!  I miss her every single day! 

She was a generous lady and no guest was ever "one too many".  Never a "by invitation only" household.  I learned from her.  She was my mentor.  She is my mentor...she's with me every day and I miss her!  And this folks, is the view from my front porch.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Would you like me if you Knew?

I wonder...I really do wonder!  Would you like me if you knew?  Knew what you ask?  Today's news has got me to wondering.  Let's play a game of Suppose if...okay, you ready? 

Suppose you and I, along with our families...I'm speaking of our parents and siblings, were friends.  We, you and I, met in kindergarten and went all through school together.  Had sleep overs at each others homes.  Stayed up all night giggling like the school girls we were.  We were blissful. We loved each other like sisters. 

Suppose you and I, and our families had taken vacations together.  We went to Florida one year and shared the experience of seeing the great ocean for the first time together.  We camped at the local lake; where we swam by day and made smores by night.  We talked under the stars for hours and hours.  We even went to the Grand Canyon one year...our families together. 

Suppose we partook in American Traditions.  We even shared some Fourth of July's together, where the sparklers lit up the night.  We enjoyed the floats, bands and saluted the American Flag, hand over our hearts, at the parade.  We celebrated other times, too, you and I and our families.

Suppose we went our separate ways come college; but knew in our hearts we'd be friends forever and ever.  We visited each other at our respective colleges.  We attended each others games, campus events...and more.  We set each other up with guys we thought would be perfect for the other. 

Suppose we never talked about religion.  We never ever talked politics.  We never ever heard our parents talk about it either.  It was a rather mute subject for both. We knew your family didn't go to church and my family kept quiet about ours.  We knew your beliefs...or that you weren't BIG believers.  We knew our beliefs were not readily accepted, so the less said, the better.  We were not ashamed, there was nothing to hide, really. It was just easier to do our thing and spare ourselves the condemnation or discussions.

Suppose you finally fixed me up with the one and only guy that turned my world upside down.  We hit it off.  We became engaged.  We (you and I) knew you'd be my maid-of-honor...it was agreed on many, many years before.  We, you and I, sat down one day and I shared ideas for the wedding.  We talked about colors, who else would be in the wedding and all the other one million and one things that needed to be talked about.  We then discussed where the wedding would be held~

Suppose I said it would be held at the Mosque downtown.  But, because my husband-to-be was Christian, it'd be a combined ceremony.  We, you and I, looked at each other.  We, you and I, sat in silence.  We, you and I, felt a shift in our relationship...in that second that it took for it to register what I had said, you decided if you WOULD LIKE ME IF YOU KNEW?

Today is September 10, 2010.  The day before the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks in New York.  How many years...nine.  Today, on the news, there is talk of a minister in Florida threatening to burn the Koran.  The holy book of the Muslim faith.  What are my thoughts, my feelings?  To be honest, they are ones of confusion and really, really, disbelief!  I'm saddened.  I'm astonished.  I'm irritated.  I'm bereft!  And, I think I'm kind of mad!

Religion...it's so many things to so many people.  I am a member of the United Methodist Church in New Virginia, Iowa.  I am that because it's mainstream.  It's a church in my community.  It's neither left nor right.  It fits my lifestyle.  It's comfortable.  It's Iowa.  It's in the middle. 

I grew up in a non-denominational church in Des Moines.  I went there because that is where my aunt went and she got me there.  Had my childhood been different and my parents had married, I would have been raised a south side Catholic.  It's a fact.  It's true.  Nothing wrong with that..it's just that I am what I am, because of my circumstances.  And, I bet...if you really considered it all, you are what you are because of your circumstances, too.

Had I been raised in the south, there's a good chance I would have been raised in a Baptist Church.  If I lived in Finland...I may have been Lutheran.  To me...religion is 'where we're at' 'where we're from' more than anything else.  I find I like the simple wisdom of the Buddhists.  I appreciate the rituals and symbolism of Catholicism.  I love the traditions of the Christian faith.  I know no others to compare. 

I'm mystified at the discombobulation that is 'man-made' in my opinion.  I do not know anyone who is Muslim, that I'm aware of.  I have friends who are Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and Evangelicals.  I don't think I know anyone who is Jewish.  Our exchange student was a Christian, but her grandmother was Buddhist.  She studied the Bible, and went to Temple, too.  I'm sad that I don't know of these other cultures, which seem to be defined by their religion.  Gosh, I'm missing out on so much, I'm just sure of it. 

So, here I am...back where I started...we played a little game of Suppose if...what are your thoughts on this subject?  You don't have to put them here...just take some time to think about this.  Again I ask: Would you like me if you Knew?  And I wonder...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mornings, Memories and Moments, part one

I love my mornings...especially this one.  After weeks of sweltering, hot, humid weather, I awoke to much cooler, comfortable temps and lower humidity.  Sleep is so much sweeter with the fresh air finding it's way into your being~windows wide open and coverings billowing.  I love it and slept so well.

Refreshed and ready to start my day, I jumped out of bed, started some wash...then, coffee time~me time.

My routine is most likely not much different than others.  Up and out of bed, I turn on the morning news, brew the Joe, check for missed texts and voice mail messages.  Reply as needed. Facebook time follows:  what's new and noteworthy?  New photos, birthdays, personal highs..and, lows; inspirational quotes, event reminders...I really enjoy 'catching up'. 

Today is a bit different for me though.  The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of happiness for me.  Reflecting back on my time spent with my nephew, Camden; vacation with my family at Rathbun; a weekend with my past...hosting my 'girl' cousins for our 'Cousins Weekend' and the finale~my 30 year class reunion.  Wow!  it's been fun, fun, fun!

Camden loves the farm.  He especially loves building a fire and poking at it.  We made sure that activity was part of the mix.  He picked apples for me, went to a buyer's Welcome to the Neighborhood open house I hosted, helped move the cows and just relaxed on the farm. Five days of Camden...it was such a joy.

The part I liked best was making the time for him.  Stopping what I was doing to talk and answer a question.  Two afternoons found us at the pond.  He fished while I read on the first afternoon.  The second afternoon found us floating on the pond...it was refreshing and a 'bonding' experience.  We talked about anything and everything.  He made me giggle.  He asks some pretty good questions...which made me think and ponder.  Camden is a really great kid with an inquiring mind and a zest for adventure.  He laughs easily and it's contagious.  He's always been a giggler...even when he was a little guy.  Kind of arnery in a subtle way.  A teasing manner that sometimes makes you wonder if he's teasing or being serious. Much like his daddy in that.

My sister brought Camden to me at my office in Des Moines.  We left and had showings to do.  He was great!  He got to see a little of what it is I do selling real estate.  We were very late getting home, but Uncle Steve had a fire going for us at the pond.  That is directly where we headed!  Just Camden and I. 

We looked at the stars.  He made himself a 'smore.  We listened to the sounds of summer...sounds of the countryside.  Had he heard them before...most likely.  Were they more intense?  vivid? brighter?  YES, because we were 'in the moment'.  Crickets, grasshoppers, croaking frogs.  Callie barked in the distance...what did she see, smell or hear?  A falling star zipped through the sky.  Flickering lights from an overhead plane.  Big Dipper and Milky Way were overhead. 

In the quiet of the night, with no interuptions, Camden and I shared a special moment in time, memories in the making to be remisced in the morning...at a different place and a different time.  Hoping this time 'finds' Camden, when he has a niece or nephew of his own~he'll take the time, be in the moment and discover for himself, just how special this time was for me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My inspired life: Mixin' and Matchin'

My inspired life: Mixin' and Matchin'

Mixin' and Matchin'

Last weekend served as the Grand Re-opening for Vintage Home & Garden.  After 8 years being open, I felt it time for a face lift.  So, several cans of paint later, new inventory, and a little rearranging, the doors opened at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 15th.  Many nice compliments unfolded. 

I had a great time doing a little mixin' and matchin' with the vintage jewelry and clothing in the shop.  Brooches, earrings, necklaces and scarves were matched to sweaters, cami's, skirts and more.  A photo shoot is planned...keep a watch out for more on this later.

New garden decor, by way of flowers and birds, will "happy up" your sweet garden spots.  Introducing my "Time Traveler" and "Time in a Bottle" lines.  I've had fun with this.  Stop in and see what I'm talking about.  Great ways to showcase family photos, old letters and ephemera.  A nice gift for a 'graduate-to-be' or start placing mementos for a new baby...maybe yours or a grandchild.  

Stop in sometime.  VHG is open the Third Thursday and following Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a sweet, once-a-month shopping event.  10-3.  OR, by appt. 

Thanks to all the Vintage Home & Garden Fans that made their way to the shop...it was a real pleasure to meet my 'new' friends.  

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." ~ Herman Melville
I received this today on Facebook. I really liked it and really, what a true statement.  Do we live a life of authenticity or do we imitate?  Imitation is the easy road to travel, isn't it.  And, it does flatter...but who? 
Something to think about today in our comings and goings.  Have a wonderfully authentic day inspired by originality! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer in a Tomato

After a wet and soggy start to our summer, here in Iowa, the weather has been picture perfect the past few days.  Hot and sultry...it drains you to just step outside.  But, not these past few days.  Energized and ready to entertain for the upcoming 4th of July Celebration...plans are underway.

I picked my first tomatoes from the garden the other day.  Summer in the form of a ripe red, juicy tomato.  As a little girl, my cousins and I, would pick a tomato from our grandparents garden.  Biting into it, the juice would run down our chins.  We'd giggle~take another bite~giggle again!  I love reminiscing about those times...all the time. 

I think it comes with the aging process.  We have a tendency to reflect back more and more.  Each generation thinking there's was the best, when really, if we each wrote down our favorite memories, studied them side-by-side, we'd realize that the memories are all similar.  They don't look much different...the basics.  The memories are much the same and really, I mean REALLY, have everything and all, to do with family and home. 

All that changes are the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the jobs we have...the home and places we live.  All of those things revolve around us~but, they really don't 'sustain' us. I find, as I move into this thing called 'grandma~hood', I want to share with Makenna...actually, even my nephews, those things that inspired my childhood. 

The songs we sang, camping, fishing, picking a dandelion and placing it under our chin to see if we like butter.  Family reunions, aunts and uncles, cousins around...all the time.  Picnics and holidays, Christmas eve pj's.  These are all generational and family traditions.  And, inspire in us the same need and want to carry them on...for the here and now and the generations to come.  

A ripe red tomato grows in my garden~a new generation will know the thrill of picking it fresh, biting into it~giggles will form, as the juice runs down a chin and I am inspired!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vintage Home & Garden...where my inspirations come to life

I've been busy...busy, busy, busy.  My mornings are spent with my real estate business.  My afternoons, weekends and any other 'free' time is spent at my shop.  I'm re-re-redoing, refreshing, re-styling.  It's been 8 years and time for a change.  It's been fun, uplifting and energizing. 

Time is closing in on me. I'm a procrastinator...so, the push is on.  Almost every day, I receive a call or email from someone asking if my shop is open yet...and if not, WHEN?  My open date is coming soon. 

The THIRD THURSDAY SALES will start in July.  VINTAGE HOME & GARDEN will be open the THIRD THURSDAY each month and the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday...YES, I'm going to try being open on Sundays.  I'll be open 10:00~3:00 each day.  As always, I will try to accomodate shoppers by appointment. 

You're going to find a new look...walls have been repainted.  New vintage merchandise will be available, as well as NEW, new home and garden decor.  

Please mark your calendars now...and plan to make it a day shopping at Vintage Home & Garden and the other fine shopping venues in south~central Iowa. 

I'm inspired...are you?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Great time with a Great Friend

It was a great time, shared with a great friend. I decided to try my hand at camping alone, my hubby has cows he needs to tend to, and my job allows me to be anywhere and conduct business. So, with a little planning, a date picked out, groceries purchased, clothes packed...I was off and pulling the rig behind me (followed by the hubby...he had to show me how to set up).

While in the midst of making my camping plans, I remembered my friend, Cindy, had purchased her own camper, so, I did what any good friend would do. I invited her to join me. So the adventure unfolds...

Steve left on Sunday morning, so that meant I had two whole days by myself, until Cindy made her way down. What to do, what to do? I had so many ideas and plans of things I wanted to get done. I didn't know where to start.

I finally decided to try my hand at watercolors. Not too bad, not too bad! It was fun and I lost myself in what I was doing. I was surprised at how enjoyable it was. Sitting at my camper table, taking in the views of the lake, I painted a landscape. Set it aside...I'd come back and tweak it later. I used my pencil to outline a rooster...what did I want it to look like? What colors would I use and how would I initiate texture into the painting? How would it all come together? My first attempt at watercolors was successful, enjoyable and something I wanted to accomplish. I'll come back to it again, and again, and again...I liked it just that much!

It was so fun, not a care in the world! No laundry to worry about, didn't have to concern myself with a meal for anyone. I was one relaxed gal. I pondered, I cleaned, I rearranged the camper (it needed to be done). My afternoon was filled with whatever tripped my trigger...which really wasn't much, but, it was nice! It was refreshing! it was liberating!

The adventure began when Cindy rolled in. I giggle now, just thinking about it. WHAT IS IT THAT IS SOOOOO DARN DIFFICULT TO BACK A CAMPER...ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER, INTO A NICE BIG PARKING SPOT? We both new what had to be done, we both new how to do it. But, then we noticed a real nice, older gentleman watching us. We, being the big hearted gals that we are, thought that maybe he had some testosterone induced need to come and help these 'damsels in distress'. So, we just played up to it and sure enough...he came over, beat on his chest and directed Cindy into her spot. We played our cards right on that one!

Of course, I'm just being silly. We were very appreciative of his help. And, as I mentioned, we knew what to do...JUST COULDN'T DO IT!!! This sweet man insisted upon helping us set up the camper. "Verle" was his name. Pretty soon, we waved his sweet wife over to join us at the picnic table. Shirley came right over and we had an extremely nice visit. Verle and Shirl went back to their camper and Cindy and I had supper in mine. Needless to say, it had to be the hottest day of the year so far, and we were hot, sweaty and exhausted.

Our two day adventure took us to Van Buren county one day and into Missouri the next. Yes, I did say Missouri. Jamesport, Missouri to be exact. A little shopping along the way, a stop here and there and lots and lots of talking and laughing.

Once again, I found myself basking in the joy of taking the road less travelled. My cohort in crime likes to do that, too. And so, there we were, driving along the back roads of southern Iowa and Northern Missouri. Gentle curves, rolling blacktop, grassy hillsides dotted with cows and the occasional sheep. A great time, shared with a great friend...taking the road less travelled and enjoying the adventure called life.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

So many reasons to be inspired...

I find inspiration in many places.  From many different situations.  A multitude of who, what, where and why's...one never knows when inspiration will come, but if we're open to it, it'll find us! 

A gentleman stopped in my office to chat the other day, and said, "wow, this is bright.  I like it."  I told him that I needed bright, happy colors go give me energy, make me happy...inspiration.  He noticed that I pulled the wall colors from the picture I had hanging behind my desk.  He was correct.  A colorful and pretty picture inspired me...first to purchase it and then to use.  I had this picture in my bedroom for quite awhile.  Now, it's in my office.  It makes me happy to be in my office, surrounded by colors and things I enjoy. 

I subscribe to a couple different 'do good, feel good' blogs/websites.  Daily, I receive a new post on my email with a great story and quotation.  I find, the more I introduce these into my daily life, the more I am in tune and concientious of being better.  I think about the situation and wonder how I could incorporate that into my life.  Who could I share a similar idea with...to make someone else's life better.  It helps to keep me focused, and of course, inspired. 

Take a minute to leave a comment here on my blog...share a story, an idea...your inspiration.  Thanks for stopping by today...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Inspired mornings...

Coffee in hand, I settle into my big, comfy sofa in the sunroom.  From this vantage point, I'm able to see the birds at our feeders, the daily coming-to-life of the trees in spring bloom, black cows dotting the landscape and green...our pastures, too, are coming to life.

I find this spot most mornings; and here I am inspired by my surroundings.  A story comes to mind, an idea for another decorating project, I'm reminded of a note I need to pen...I get inspired!

Yesterday, I spent some time with my drawing pad in hand, pencil at the ready.  I worked on my landscaping plan for our new entry way into the recently added mudroom. What colors will compliment?  Shade loving plants are a must...hostas, bleeding hearts, and coral bells are just a few of the plants that will find a home in that spot.  I want it to be very inviting and soothing.  Just a casual walk-way into my home that is void of lots of 'lotsa'...a delightful 'welcome' to my home.

As I started my plan, I quickly realized that it would become a bigger project, because, just like a home remodeling project...you can't just stop at one redo and call it good.  The one redo makes the other rooms look a bit outdated, tired, lackluster.  So, my landscape design continued around to the south side of my home.  The walnut trees will need to come down;  they'll make great planters or a spot for birdhouses.  I'll have to study the growth of the trees and see how that could work.

The southside of the house, with the walnut trees down, will be a great spot for a butterfly and bird attracting garden.  Do I go with a 'cottage' look?  I love wildflowers, too.  Maybe a little of both.  A definate must...a birdbath or two...or three.

Well, I can't stop there.  If I do, the whole east side of the house will look bare not complete.  I can continue the southside landscaping plan here, too.  Not to stop there, it'll have to continue around to the front of the porch and wrap on around to the north side of the mudroom addition...another shade loving garden here, too.

As I sit here with my inspiring thoughts, I'm reminded that none of it will get done while I'm sitting here...dreaming, drawing and not doing.  So, it's off I go.  First things first...I have to mow. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

What does it mean to be a grandmother?

I love every inch of her!  From her head to her sweet toes; to her teeny, tiny and delicate fingernails.  She's beautiful, she's sweet, she's a very happy little girl.  She makes my heart swell with happiness and so much love!  She inspires me to be BETTER!

Overnight, she went from a 'needing' baby to a toddler...what is that one moment when they take that step and feel confident enough to take another and then another...soon, she'll be running!  Then, before we know it, she'll be walking down the aisle...to graduation from high school, college...marriage.  I know, I know...there's so much life in between, but having been through raising three children of my own, I look back, and it seems like it was just yesterday, they were 'needing' babies, then in school, then graduating...

As I was driving home last evening, listening to Dahlilia, a woman was requesting a song for what it's like to be a grandmother.  To Dahlilia's knowledge, there wasn't one.  It got me to thinking; what would this song say?  What is it about being a grandmother that seems so different from being a mother? How do I feel about being a grandmother?  How do you feel about it...what words would you use to describe it?  Are you inspired to be better?  

One thing that happened upon becoming a grandmother, is it put into perspective how it felt to my mom, my ex-mother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my grandmother and my great.  The 'silly' (my perception) things they did or the things they said, that kind of made me mad, I find I do and I understand completely.  I say to Makenna, "how's grammy's girl?"  A similar sentiment was said to my oldest daughter, Courtney, "How's grandma's dolly" and it would put me in a tail spin...now, I understand the love, the pride, the intense feelings behind those words.  It has more to do with the love for this little being, than it does 'ownership'.  I understand now!  Oh, how I understand!

I'm also reminded of all the things from my childhood that are now special thoughts, special memories; I find I want to replicate that for my little granddaughter.  Tea parties, aunts and uncles and cousins all around...all the time.  I want her to know her Great grandma and have the same close relationship with he,r that I had with my grandma Grace.  I want to plant a garden with her and see her expressions at seeing it come to life. Camping and picnics, fishing at the pond.  Making dolls with flowers and making flowers with tissue.  Letting her concoct in the kitchen.  I want to share it all with her, and with each new day or time spent with her, I'm reminded of something new.  I'm inspired to be better.

To see the world through her eyes,- is a reawakening in me.  To see a bug and watch it crawl along.  Will she be as thrilled with doing that as her daddy was?  I want to teach her to read, and to enjoy the small things in life.  I want to sew little girl outfits again.  I enjoy seeing her little face change.  More hair and another tooth change her whole look each time I see her.  To hear her giggle...I especially love to hear her giggle.  Her eyes light up, she's just plain silly! Makenna does this little thing...she shrugs her shoulders and it's so darn cute.  She also scrunches her face up, seeming to say, "I'm cute" and she is.  She watches our every move...she's quick, she's alert...well, you know, she's just plain brilliant...there it is, I said it and I've written it. 

The toy aisles...I've always hated the toy aisles...not so much anymore.  I look at Barbie dolls and baby dolls.  Will she be a girly-girl...so far,  she kinda is.  But, I find I want to buy her farm animals and barns, too.  Play-doh, and sidewalk chalk...or, just a plain old limestone rock would do.  Then again, I'm reminded of pots and pans to clang around on.  Dandelions under the chin and Mother Goose stories.  I sing her the songs my children's grandmother's sang them.  "You are my sunshine", "Bushel and a Peck".  Finger games:  Fly away Jack, itsy bitsy spider, and more.  I want her to know the songs and stories of Jesus.  She needs to know these things, I think...I know!  I want to make sure she knows these things.  I'm inspired to be better.

To snuggle and cuddle.  To have her reach around my neck and pull me close in a hug...oh~my~gosh!  An overwhelming sense of love can take over my heart...sometimes I want to cry, I love her so much...so much that it hurts my heart.  

Each and every day, many moments in my day, I think of Grammie's Girl and I miss her.  I want to see her.  I want to be all I can be for her and to her.  I want to be a better person, I want to be a better mom,  I want to be more alive and in the moment.  Makenna inspires me to BE all these things.  I love her!

Friday, April 9, 2010

70 years old...what a life!

In February, my mom turned 70 years old.  A life that has seen so much, done so many things, mastered the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows.  A life that has been well-lived.  She is successful.  She is an inspiration!

I'd like to tell you about my mom, a woman who raised two daughters on her own.  That will be her legacy...we are her legacy...her grandchildren and now a great-grandchild, are her legacy.  A life well-lived.  Not without adversity.  Not without hardships.  Not without struggles.  Those are the things life is made of.  But, more importantly, a life well-lived. 

A life with great childhood memories.  A life with loving family.  A life of putting herself through school...at 38.  Raising two daughters alone.  A life filled with fun and laughter.  A life filled with joy. 

When I think about all the things my mom has accomplished, I can't help but be inspired by her.  She is independent, strong, funny, dependable!  She is her grandchildren's greatest ally.  She is her families greatest ally.  To know her...I don't know if I completely do.  But, she is an inspiration. 

She loves whole-heartedly.  She defends to a fault.  "You can say anything about me, but don't say it about those I love"  She's a cheerleader, she's a fighter, she's a good hugger.  A cooker, a gardener, she loves to fish.  She loves her grandchildren!!!  To be loved by her, you're loved unconditionally...really.  She's helped nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters.  She's helped grandchildren and daughters. 

My mom retired a few years ago and it's been a real delight to see her enjoy this time in her life.  I was concerned.  Wondered what she'd do with her time.  But, she's pleasantly surprised me.  She's sat with a neighbor's mother who has alzhiemers.  She's went and helped get her to bed when the husband was at home with her.  She most recently volunteered at the city planting their flowers...who knew?  She helps elderly neighbors...more elderly than her.  She's active and continues to be active...she's my inspiration!

I'm blessed with a mother like her.  A fighter, tenacious, my greatest cheerleader.  I thank God for her.  All of her...the things that drive me crazy (look out kids, I am my mother after all) the things that make me laugh and shake my head, I appreciate her and I am in indebted to her.  She is my greatest cheerleader and I am one of her greatest legacies.  I'm proud of that. 

This is a tribute to my mom, Barbara Ann Cort.  My Inspiration.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Springtime Sights and Sounds

From a distance, I can hear the growl of a caterpillar moving dirt. The farmer, our neighbor, is terracing his field...a little conservation practice going into effect.

Outside my window, birdsong floods the air. It's so light and airy, a pleasant sound for the senses. Baby cows beller, teeny tiny sheep frolic and play.

In the early morning, just before dawn, the birds wake me from my slumber. What a great way to be awakened. Slowly, but surely, the sounds invade my mind. One eye opens, then the other. The birdsong is drowned out by my other senses. Then I concentrate and listen more intently. I crack my window to hear it more clearly. I love it.

Somewhere else, in the distance, I hear the whir of tires on pavement, as people travel to work. I'm sure their radios are up and there minds are on the day at hand. Did they hear the birds when they made their way to their car? Did they take in the sights and sounds of the early morning dawn...springtime sounds?

Springtime sights...an earlier rain greened up the lawn. Lawn mowers are in driveways being prepared for their duty...surely to be used sooner, rather than later.

Soon, tractors with planters, grasshopper-like vehicles will be trolling down the road, one farm field to the other, readying the fields for a crop that will soon be prolific in the countryside.

Fresh mown hay...I love the scent, will be rolled into bundles. Small squares will dot the horizon. A group of young men will be seen throwing the small bales onto a haywagon. Strong, hot and sweaty.

Springtime sights and sounds will give way to tall stalks of corn, stubby bean bushes and then, before we know it...fall harvest. A whole new world will awaken the senses again.

I love the sights and sounds of spring. Faith, hope and new beginnings.  I'm Inspired...oh, to be an inspiration!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daniel's Gloves...author unknown to me...in honor of 'Larry'.

Daniel's Gloves

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank.

I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me:
'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'

Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.

I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

'Looking for the pastor?' I asked. 'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.' 'Have you eaten today?''Oh, I ate something early this morning.' 'Would you like to have lunch with me?' 'Do you have some work I could do for you?' 'No work,' I replied 'I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.' 'Sure,' he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. Where you headed?' 'St. Louis' 'Where you from?' 'Oh, all over; mostly Florida 'How long you been walking?' 'Fourteen years,' came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'

Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona... He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God 'Nothing's been the same since,' he said,

'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.' 'Ever think of stopping?' I asked. 'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles
That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'

I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like?' 'What?' 'To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?' 'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'

I felt as if we were on holy ground. 'Could you use another Bible?' I asked. He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite.. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said. 'I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see' I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

'Where are you headed from here?' I asked. 'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.' 'Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?' 'No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'

He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things. 'Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked... 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'

I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.' 'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.' 'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too.' 'The Lord is good!' 'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked. A long time,' he replied

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.' 'I'll be there!' was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?' 'You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'

'God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him.

Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.

Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?' Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. 'See you in the New
Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

'I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cardinal watch

Today, from our comfy couch in the sunroom, my husband announced, "hey, there's a cardinal". Sure enough, a crimson cardinal was just beyond reach, sitting pretty on the tree limb in front of us. It is my goal to have cardinals and blue birds come pay our feeders a visit on a regular basis. We've seen each kind here and there, but they would not be considered regular diners by any stretch of the imagination.

Blue birds remind me of my Grandma Grace. Cardinals, my Aunt Kay. Both are gone now, but I don't think there's a week that goes by, that they don't meet me in my memories. Something happens or someone says something and I remember.

Today, I'm reminded of my Aunt Kay. She was my mom's younger sister and the first of the 'siblings' to pass away. Kay was committed to her church and the children that went there in her early years. I was blessed to be on of them. She inspired in me my faith.

Aunt Kay loved birds and the feeding of them. From her living room window, she could see the birds flitter and dance around the feeders, enjoying and appreciating the bounty provided them. Of those, there were cardinals.

When Aunt Kay got sick, she asked my husband and I if we'd raise her son, should anything happen to her. She had already lost her husband, so finding someone to care for her son was important to her. We, of course, said 'yes'. And, it came to be.

Knowing that what we took on was going to be a daunting task...for many reasons, but we moved forward, just as she would have done. Saying 'yes' and having it become a reality are two very different things. It was a very difficult time...especially for her son.

A couple of days after her funeral, my husband and I were sitting on the front porch having a cup of coffee. There, amongst the flowers and weeds, came to cardinals. They landed, looked and flew away. I looked at Steve and he looked at me. I could not believe it. Never before had we had cardinals...NEVER! And, we never had them again, at that place, that I witnessed. I found such comfort in that one instance. That one event. It was like she was telling me it was going to be okay. COMFORT in an overwhelming moment. It meant the world to me.

Who inspires you? With their words, their grace, their presence in your life. Is it a touch, a smile, a wink? I have found, it's in the subtle moments, the life lived, the word said unknowingly, that has inspired me...my life more than anything. Be inspired, be an inspiration, be someone's CARDINAL in life.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I need inspiration today!

Last evening, on my way to the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors annual banquet, I thought to myself: ROADTRIP! Thinking on this for a minute, pondering just where I'd like to go, it came to me...Gilbert, Iowa and JB Knacker specifically.

Acting on this energizing thought, I phoned (actually, being hip, like I am, I texted her) my soul~sister, Jill. Want to take a road trip to Gilbert tomorrow? I barely had the text sent and I had a reply~a resounding YES!

If you've not been to JB Knacker's in Gilbert, you're missing something. And, that something is a creative, exuberant shop filled with one-of-a-kind goodies...and by goodies, I mean, home decor...not the edible kind. Food for the soul, eye candy, home decorating inspiration.

Two years ago, I, and Jill, and her friend, Andi, ventured to the Junk Bonanza in Minnesota. Oh My Gosh...talk about creativity, energy, exuberancy...it was here. I vowed, with that visit, that someday I would be a vendor at the Junk Bonanza. I'm happy to say that I took that step and have signed up to be a vendor at this year's show...Sept. 17th, 18th and 19th. Keep it here, as I let you know of my progress...shopping, remaking, restoring, revamping, letting my creative energy do it's thing. I'm sooooo absolutely excited to be doing this...hope I'm accepted to this juried show.

The sun is shining although it's very cold today. The sun just makes all the difference though. I hope you get out and enjoy this beautiful crisp day...and get inspired by all the beauty that surrounds you...and be an inspiration to another.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Frosty, frigid morning...awww the days are getting longer, though

Good day...thanks for stopping by my blog. As you can see, it's been a very, very long time since I've posted anything. I'm going to try and do better with this. A

As I sit here, contemplating the work day, I'm listening to bits and pieces of the news...including the weather forecast. It's a cold one out there and I'm so grateful to have a warm home. How did the early settlers or Native Americans handle this kind of weather? I'm inpsired by their ingenuity, their strength, wisdom and ability to overcome so many obstacles and hardships. Amazing when you really think about it.

We rented the movie, The Proposal, last evening and I just love Sandra Bullock. She's such a great actress. It's nice to be able to sit down with your family and watch a show without getting embarrased or uncomfortable because of language or inappropriate content. I highly recommend it. AND, the setting...Alaska and the home featured in the movie are phenominal. Inspired by the beauty of the landscape, Inspired by the warm and cozy home, Inspired to create my own 'Alaska'.

Today, as the new year quickly makes it's way into the future, I'm excited about what this year will bring. 'Optimistic' is a word that I keep hearing and I find myself using it quite regularly, as well. There is just something in the air. An upbeat, 'can do' attitude. A fresh approach to how people are looking at their life, their world. I'm glad I'm part of that group...

What inspires you? What is it that makes your heart skip a beat, gets you excited about living, dreaming, being? In this new year, I hope you find what it is that makes your heart sing, makes getting up and getting going worth your effort, keeps you going and dreaming and living...what inspires you?