Tag Archives: Family

Home for the holidays 2013

I started working on my blog yesterday. I picked the book and sketched my mind map, but the day’s events kept invading. Distracting me, blocking my thoughts.

First on my calendar was the closing on our Colorado house. That required no participation by us. However, I imagined the new owners experiencing their first day in the dwelling that had been our home for nine years. A good home. One we were comfortable in. Now theirs. I hoped they enjoy it as much as we did. That they form good friendships, appreciate the neighbors, relax by the pond. I did. I’m trading all that for new options—the blank journal pages of my life.

Next on my calendar was the move-out inspection from our California apartment. Our temporary home. Comfortable enough, but where were the friends and the memories? No time to accumulate those. Merely a few weeks in limbo. Weeks that gave me time to acclimate to northern California, remember the busy traffic, and experience record low temperatures.

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Hillside view

Finally, my agenda ended with the appointment to sign documents for our next home. The one we plan to make comfortable. Our dreams swirl around this next building—a condo this time because taking care of outside space isn’t our thing. But it has two balconies from which to watch the birds soar in the thermals against the hillside and enjoy the sunsets. A change of scenery. A chance to make new friends. Another phase of life.

But those dreams must wait until Thursday to begin. California’s closing process works that way. So I’m still on hold, waiting. Dreaming. But not focusing hard enough to write about the book I recently read. Hopefully I’ll do that next month when I am in our new home. Until then we’ll make it our home for the holidays.

How’s your holiday home? Is it familiar? Have you made changes?

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Reading as self-examination

I enjoy and am challenged by books written from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. The most recent one I read was The Good House by Ann Leary. Hildy Good is a descendant of one of the witches hung in Salem. She lives in the area north of Boston.

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The Good House by Ann Leary

The challenge for me came from deciding how much of her story was true and how much was skewed by her drinking. Her self-awareness and denial entertained me, but kept me wondering how far off she was in describing her behavior. Her children sent her to a rehab center, so she had to be less in control than she thought. But was her denial any different from what I might do? Do I want to face my behaviors truthfully? Deal with them rather than justify them?

Reading is for entertainment, education, and self-examination. The Good House covered all those purposes. What book has done that for you recently? Do you tend to stick with one purpose more than the others?

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Praying in color

I like color. Vivid colors—royal blue, raspberry, leaf green—and soft colors—butter yellow, lavender, cotton candy pink. I also enjoy praying. But sometimes the grip on my heart is too strong, too difficult to articulate. Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth provides the perfect solution. It’s a chance to speak to God with the Holy Spirit’s help. The approach is simple, requiring only time, paper, colored pens or pencils, and a willing heart. MacBeth’s book contains explanations and color examples.

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I have used this technique in many ways. I have prayed for friends and their families. The paper results were colorful representations of the time I spent focusing on every member of their families. It’s a joy to then mail that paper format to my friend to remind her how important she is to me and God. I used this approach for a group of friends, praying individually for each of them before we gathered. That occasion gave me time to reflect upon each of them, their needs, and what a blessing they were to me. This method also works when my heart and brain are too full and I need to spend time with God, bringing every thought, need, anguish, and joy before him. He knows my heart and through this encounter I feel connected to him. Image

When I’m finished praying in color, I have a tangible representation of an encounter with God and my time pouring myself on the page about a person or issue. What a beautiful blessing. 

Have you tried this technique? Is it something you’d like to try?

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Birthdays in the era of social media

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. Along with many of my friends. Thanks to Facebook, I received greetings and well wishes throughout the day. Every new message lifted my spirits. I smiled at each ding of my cell phone alerting me to activity. Talk about an ADD experience. Getting dressed—ding. Eating lunch—ding. Enjoying downtown Fort Collins—ding. What fun!

Never before have I felt connected to so many at one time. Having a summer birthday has always meant being out of school and nowhere near my buddies who celebrated together throughout the year. So sad. As I got older, it meant everyone scattered for vacations and I partied with a few. Not as sad.

But now—Facebook as electronic party thrower. What a thrill.

Roses from David

Roses from David

So, thanks to everyone who gave me a ding yesterday. I had a great time and felt blessed by all of you. May your birthday be as happy.

What about you? How has social media affected your celebrations?

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What can I learn about God from a talking gorilla?

 

Sema, an eight-year-old, 250-pound gorilla, communicates through sign language. Glee Granger trained Sema since birth. Now, the zoo wants her back.

 

ImageIn her novel Unspoken, Angela Hunt relates Glee’s battle to remain Sema’s caregiver, researcher, trainer, and family. The gorilla-human relationship depends upon the bond between the two, but the zoo’s demand threatens to destroy the connection.

 

No one else knows the signs Glee has specifically created for Sema. No one else knows Sema’s heart and personality. No one else will listen when Sema talks. And talk Sema does. She communicates love, concern, fear, needs, and happiness. 

 

What will happen when her lines of communication are broken? If they are broken? Hunt covers all this and more in a novel that made me fall in love with Sema and her honest communication. I wanted to talk with her, learn from her.

 

Have you ever wondered what animals think? What they’d say if they could talk?

 

Sema’s desire to talk is similar to God’s desire to talk with me, to hear me. He knows the signs for me, my personal code. He talks, but do I listen? To do so, I must make myself available, slow down, and pay attention. Not easy to do when the world’s fighting to steal me away, but the benefits are worth the effort. When I do, God shares his love and care for me. I only have to listen.

Do you struggle to listen? What benefits have you received from doing so?

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Well done, good and faithful servant

Ensign James F. Trawick

Ensign James F. Trawick

The earthly journey ended last week for my father-in-law, Commander James F. Trawick (USN Ret.). Also known as Jim, Jim-Jim, and Dad, he went to heaven on Monday, January 28, 2013, and was buried next to his wife, Eunice, at Memory Garden in Brea, California, on Saturday, February 2.

I’d never been to a military funeral and the respect these servicemen showed one of their own impressed me. Six men drove from San Diego to Brea to give a proper send off to Dad. As the flag-draped coffin approached the gravesite, one sailor saluted and two others walked behind. The minister shared stories from Dad’s life—silly jokes he was known for, his love for teaching his Sunday School class, and his work with the Gideons.

When the minister finished, the three-gun volley pounded into the sky like a sledgehammer to my heart. Thwack, thwack, thwack. The bugler slid into Taps and a sob hiccupped from deep in my chest with absolutely no warning.

Finally, the folding of the flag. With precise hand movements and a white-gloved hand running along the folds, the sailor moved forward and folded again. He presented the flag to the Captain, who saluted and took it, then the sailor saluted.

I sat behind my husband as the Captain knelt in front of him, presented the flag, looked him in the eye, and solemnly said, “On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.”

Funeral of Commander James F. Trawick (USN Ret.)

Funeral of Commander James F. Trawick (USN Ret.)

The sailors quietly slipped away as the funeral finished. They were as humble in this duty as Dad was in his. Not many knew he received a bronze star in World War II for ordering his crew to return fire when the enemy attacked their ship. He certainly wouldn’t tell you.

I’ll miss Dad. As will his three children, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, sons-in-law, and friends.

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Party till you drop

photo-22We’ve finished the major holiday season and plunged into the new year. My visit with my family went well. Not as expected, but well. On Christmas day, we all gathered at my mom’s house and enjoyed a great meal and gave gifts to each other.  Nothing unusual about any of that. It began snowing and sleeting in the afternoon, so we all headed to our homes and hotel rooms. Just it time it turned out.

The next morning, we awoke to ten inches of snow and ice. All of us were stranded, with and without power at varying times, across the Arkansas capital area. My sister Sherri created our indoor exercise program—we climbed all nine floors of our hotel, walking the halls on every floor on the way up and down. She, David, and I talked all the way. What a great time from a situation we couldn’t do anything about.

Over the next couple days, we dug ourselves out, and the whole family shopped, ate, and visited the Clinton Presidential Library (http://www.clintonlibrary.gov). The snow and power outages took away any pressure to do anything other than enjoy the opportunities we had. Before leaving town, we met at IHOP and feasted on pancakes and other breakfast goodies.

David and I drove home on a new route so we could visit with one of my critique partners and her husband. It was delightful to finally meet Lora and Bill, and we chatted for hours.

The second day of our drive, we played tourist. We checked out the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kansas (http://www.greatwolf.com), the Great Overland Station in Topeka (http://www.greatoverlandstation.com), and ended the day with the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas (http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov). I highly recommend stopping for any of these if you get the chance. All our sightseeing took up the bulk of the day, and we stayed another night on the road.

The next day, we woke to more snow and drove slowly through limited visibility in Kansas then reached clear weather in Colorado. We finally made it home in the late afternoon.

Our Westie, Daisy, stayed with our friend Cathy and her dogs, Emma and Katie. The three girls played like crazy the entire time we were gone. Daisy slept for two days after we picked her up. This picture of her sums up what happens when you have a good time over the holidays hanging out with family and friends.

I hope your holidays were just as fun. What did you do and how are you recovering?

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