Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greatest Kind of Grief

Time again for the "One Word at a Time" blog carnival with our host, Peter Pollock. Stop by his blog and join us!


If given the choice, none of us would probably choose to experience grief in even it's simplest form. It assumes loss - loss of life, loss of health, even the loss of our sense of self.

It is impossible to avoid, foolish to deny, yet inevitable for growth.

Grief chooses us, but it doesn't mean we must live in it's grip.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, I can't completely grasp the concept of prolonged grief when someone dies. Many people close to me have died - my father, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. It was sad. I cried. But to me, after a short period of mourning, death loses it's sting because of what my faith tells me. I won't deny the occasional thought of a sad memory that conjures up feelings and tears of missing them, but grief?  Not so much.

In the words of the venerable Dr. Seuss:
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. 

Please, God, don't test me in these thoughts.

To me, the greatest grief is the loss of a real-life relationship. When bitterness and envy and greed enter into hearts and harden them. When understandings fade. When closeness separates. When opinions collide in a broken heap of rudeness, pride, mockery, and jealousy. Where laughter ceases and tears begin. Trust pales. This is where I find the greatest grief, because it has a way of hanging around, dancing this vicious circle in our hearts and heads, allowing the enemy the next dance.

There must be some good in grief. I don't believe for one minute that God created such a potent emotion without purpose. He will fix the broken, mend the torn, and bestow the grace that comes with His abundant love. The "good" in grief?

It brings us to our knees as we cry out and bare our souls to the One who loves us the most. And I have no doubt that in our angst, He cries right beside us, wanting our relationship with Him restored as well. Wanting all relationships restored. He wept, but His work did not stop there. Ours must not either.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

Tea today: green with pomegranate

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today I'm grateful for the fabulous colors of fall that will all-too-soon be covered with downy snow blankets.

May we enjoy the autumnal beauty as it is, in this moment.

The leaves turn.

The leaves fall.

The flowers fade.
Sometimes more than we like.

But the Word lasts forever with promises, preparing for the next season.

I am grateful for His promises.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
~1 Thessalonians 5:18~
Tea today: Tazo Zen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Pomegranate Within

By now most of my friends know I'm ga-ga over pomegranates. I could go on and on about the nutritional benefits, the beauty of the fruit, the biblical references, and even where the best deals are in my town. I'll spare you.

Most would choose a fruit that looks like these. Symmetrical, shiny, firm, heavy for it's size, and of course, the POM Wonderful brand, which IMHO, is the only real pom there is in existence. No, POM didn't pay me to say that. But I did win a free bottle of juice in their Twitter contest last week. That alone is enough to be on the Twitter bus. And I didn't even sleep in a Holiday Inn Express. 

I got these a week or so ago. (The pom is the fruit on the left, for those of you who are produce-challenged). 

At the store Thursday night I saw the most shabby, pathetic bin of POMs I've ever laid eyes on. They were shriveled, had lost all roundness, were peppered with sunken, dark spots, and the rind was thin and hard. There was nothing pretty or appealing about them, other than I knew they had probably once looked more beautiful. Some of them were actually cracked open. I was, as usual, drawn to the bin. I looked them over, and thought that if I just bought one, I wouldn't be out that much, there might be some decent arils deep into the fruit, and could have my pom fix for the day. Sucker, I know.

What a blessing that pitiful thing turned out to be! It was one of the most delicious, sweet poms I'd ever enjoyed, As I cut through the rind, a few squirts from the deep ruby-red arils greeted me. The juice was so dark, it was almost purple. There were maybe 10 bad arils in the entire fruit. Legend has it there are exactly 840 of them in every fruit. It was nearly perfect.

If one can have a spiritual, out-of-body experience eating a fruit, then I did. Or the crazies had struck. I'm going with the former.

Surely this is how God sees us. To others (and sometimes ourselves), we're cracked, bruised, thin-skinned, and not so pretty. To Him, we are perfect, from the inside out. Fearfully and wonderfully made. And He longs for us to burst forth with the joy he has put deep inside of us, putting aside all the the things on the outside that cover us, haunt us, and keep us from living the life He designed us to live.

I just knew that pomegranate was destined for bigger things than the broken-down produce bin at Walmart. 

So am I. 

Tea tonight: Green with lemongrass

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Belated Honest Scrap

Thanks to Alix over at Casa Hice for bestowing upon me the Honest Scrap Award many weeks ago. I don't do awards well, and am grateful for the acknowledgment. Alix is one of the sweetest and funniest people you could meet, if you could meet her that is. Which I haven't. But I feel like I've known her most of my life.

Thank you, friend. Thankyouverymuch.

Honest Scrap rules require that I list ten honest things about myself, and then I have to pass it on to seven people with blogs that I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.

I'm well aware that many of my favorite bloggers don't "do" awards, so don't be surprised if this doesn't appear in their blogs, but do me a huge favor and drop by their cyberhomes. They are certainly worthy of visiting.

My 10 honest things:
  1. Just  because I cry, it doesn't mean I'm sad. It means that emotion is my spiritual gift, which I have not yet learned to either contain or gracefully embrace. Short of a coma, I probably won't be cured of this.
  2. My co-workers think I'm a lot smarter than I really am. I'm an idiot savant, but for work purposes, the "savant" part is all that matters.
  3. I can and do forgive very easily, but unless you're repentant, I may have a hard time forgetting. Being sorry without repentance means you keep reminding me because it keeps happening.
  4. Finding pleasure in solitude is one of the most wonderful gifts God gives me.
  5. My faith is an exercise in "use it or lose it." And the more I practice, the better I get. I need more practice.
  6. I never see a little girl with long hair without thinking of my own and remembering the smell of her hair.  And usually tearing up (see #1).
  7. When I walk by the giant bags of cereal at the grocery store, I miss my boys (see #1).
  8. I have been to a mall once since January, and only out of necessity of an undergarment. Yup, just one. 'Nuf said.
  9. Bad table manners are like fingers on a chalkboard to me. I'm not a dining snob. Please, don't make inappropriate noises and eat like it's the last meal you'll ever have. Because if you get really gross, it just might be.
  10. I absolutely, totally, and undeniably love to cook, especially concoctions that call for 10 or more ingredients and lots of chopping. I love my knives. Be very afraid.
I'm supposed to pass this along to seven others. I hate to pick seven, because I love more than seven - I love everyone on my blogroll. Starters: Hysterical Steph. Random Katdish. Deep thoughts Billy Coffey. Strong and courageous Gitz. Boz my favorite dog, and his "mom" Annie. Encouraging Peter (who even made me a special video - check out that accent!). Food with Style (oh my, just look at that food - you won't find a ham sandwich there)!

The problem with these gifts is that I've left of at least a dozen of my favorite bloggers, all of whom I find gracious, encouraging and who make my day. But I have to stop and peel a pomegranate.

Because every quick fruit snack should require a sharp knife, a big bowl of water, a strainer, a stack of paper towels, and 20 minutes.

Just bein' honest.

Tea today: Jasmine

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Yellow Fuzzy Community

We were a community of sorts
A baker's dozen, a horde of hapless hormones
An odd group to the unknowing
Different backgrounds, marital status callings, financial peace (or not so much)

Some collected degrees
And there were GEDs
Professionals and service workers
Homemakers and factory workers

Some sported the latest Michael Kors or Coach bags
Others were perfectly content with half-price Target satchels
Or a daughter's cast-off purse from middle school
Our bags did not define us.

Some of us held deep love for our Lord
Others questioned His existence
But there was never discord

The little we held in common
Most notably
A passion for the game
And four years of college eligibility
Melded us together as a community.

Expectant acceptance
Peace and ease.

We were brought together by one thing.

A yellow fuzzy ball.

A symbol and scent
Of trust

"I got your back" well as the shot that just whizzed past you


Lots of grace (for that shot just whizzed past you again)
Ice for a swollen knee
Bloodied band-aids
Hugs and tears for other wounds that you couldn't quite see
Because we felt every hurt, as if it was our own.

The thrill of victory
The agony of defeat
And the feet
And the feat.

Road trips
Borrowed bobbie pins
High fives for impossible shots

A badly broken ankle in a crucial match
And the insensitive teammate who said,
"Suck it up!"
We won anyway, but ouch,
I felt terrible after saying that
When she showed up on crutches.

That yellow fuzzy ball leveled the playing field
Every. Single. Time.

We were the Sisters of the Yellow Fuzz
The older we got
The better we used to be

We were a visible community
Until one by one
We parted

One moved
One was injured
One died
Then another
(Heart disease sucks
Cancer really sucks)
And a few just sort of
             ...faded ... away ...

Some still gather
Shopping in the "city"
Travels to distant states for old friends
Over a local birthday margarita
The gaggle regroups to giggle
At carefully chosen birthday cards
That only 
we would understand.

We become community again
Even if only once a year
It's like we never missed a step

And we realize that it wasn't about the yellow fuzzy ball after all

It was about something intangible, yet palpable
Different, yet unchanged

An indescribable gift
Of heart and soul and spirit

Our Yellow Fuzzy Community endures
If only a precious memory.
"What cannot be achieved in one lifetime will happen when one lifetime is joined to another." ~Harold Cushner
Join us at the "One Word at a Time" blog carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley and Peter Pollock. Come, bask in that which is my new community.

Tea today: Tazo Zen 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"I don't remember..."

I'm joining Bridget Chumbley and Peter Pollock this week for their "One Word at a Time" Blog Carnival. Stop by Peter's blog and see all the great entries on this week's word:
Car keys. Dental appointments. Birthdays. All relatively unimportant when you look at remembering life. And love. And forgetting how to do both.

I clearly recall the first time my dad told me "I don't remember." Those three words told me so much. The cold reality of finally humbling himself to the ravages of Alzheimer's was so evident in his eyes.

He would have no more yesterdays to remember.

He was aware of his dilemma for a while. That vague, obtuse state of mind when you know you can't remember.

He knew he wasn't the meticulous, sharp-penciled accountant he had once been, though he'd spend hours scrawling random numbers in ledger books for no other reason than he could. There was a whisper of familiarity there. He struggled with pride and was able to fool a lot of people for a long time because he was so brilliant, and didn't want anyone else to know his debilitating secret. He did this for many years until one day he just up and said  "I don't remember." 

The white flag of surrender was flown.

That was so painful for me. It was easier when he'd call me for the umpteenth time and ask me how to microwave popcorn, like it was the first time he had ever asked. Or for him to refer to one of my boys as "what's-his-name" in a joking manner, pretending he really did know of whom he spoke. Or when he'd say "Hi There" and make you think he knew who you were.

Eventually everyone was named "There." Some knew his ruse and some didn't. His amiable disposition always took him far.

We had some fun with Dad's memory and lack thereof. After all, it was what it was. Coping wears a dark, humorous cloak sometimes.

He remembered where his stockbroker was and drove downtown to see him. What he didn't remember is that you don't stop your car in the traffic lane, shut it off, and just walk in the office.

He remembered that he didn't want anyone to eat his turkey sandwich, but didn't remember that he hid it in an old dresser down by his tool bench. Mom found it several years after he was gone.

He remembered how to drive, but he never remembered where he put the keys. That was to everyone's advantage. Eventually when we intentionally hid his keys, he gave up looking for them, thinking he was the one who had lost them. It was all in the name of love, safety, and the preservation of his dignity. We kept him busy studying the driver's manual so he could "get his license back."

"Tomorrow, Dad," I'd respond when he asked when he could take the driving test. Tomorrow never came. It never does when you don't know there was a yesterday. But that never dimmed his hope of looking forward to tomorrow. 

Dad struggled to recapture the past, to keep alive some memory, but neither was to be found. Our desire was to make his today pleasant, knowing that he would never again have another yesterday.

Today I remember him in gratitude and prayer. And I so appreciate all the yesterdays he gave me. Remembering them is a cherished gift.

Join us for the upcoming "One Word at a Time" Blog Carnivals here.

Tea today: Jasmine 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I ♥ NY

A year ago I chased Ron Burgundy and our daughter all over Chicago while they were running the marathon, trying to figure out the train system and snap the elusive father-daughter photo. My directionally-challenged self failed miserably.

With this year's marathon Kate fulfilled a life-long dream of going to New York, though I don't thing she ever intended her "dream trip" would include a 26.2 mile run with 42,000 of her closest friends through the Big Apple and the boroughs. 

We weren't invited able to go on this trip. She went with a gaggle of her Des Moines friends and left Mom and Dad behind. I wasn't too concerned. She's a grown woman with just a little ADD and a disdain for anything that resembles boredom. A frightening combination to travel to the Big Apple, indeed. But she has dependable friends, some of whom are familiar with the big city.

I was pretty calm about things until last night when she called and said "I don't remember training for this."


She was so struck by the big city, seeing STOMP on Broadway, and looking forward to crashing the Today Show next week, that the thought of running a little marathon today was not foremost in her mind.

As I followed her on Athlete Tracker, the marathon's servers crashed. Surely they knew her mother would be sitting in Iowa wanting to know where their daughter was on a Sunday morning? 

They didn't hear my screams. I was so frustrated, I sent a tweet out about her at the starting line, and fortunately a friend of mine was able to log on to the site, scream "GO! GO!" at her computer monitor while on the phone with me, and send me screen shots of her progress late in the race.

She crossed the finish line, sent me a text saying she survived, bemoaned the hills, and made me proud - again. What grit. She later said she about threw up with 3 miles to go.

"I think it was the Snickers bar the guy handed me on the course." That's my girl. Never lure a dietitian with chocolate on a marathon course.

Here's a shot of her finishing up in Central Park, dressed in a green bubble suit. Doesn't she look fabulous? (You may need to click the image to view her).

They are always your babies, aren't they? 

Image courtesy of PhotoBucket