Saturday, November 30, 2019

This random universe

In that last entry I posted, I talked about many of my childhood prayers being answered.  I received some comments on that particular story that made me re-evaluate what I was saying.  At least two of my readers mentioned in passing that they did not receive the pony they prayed for as a child; they are still waiting.  

Well folks, that left me speechless.  I assure you that my prayers were not answered because I was such a good, "religious" child.  Or because I prayed such a flowery, well-worded prayer.  I was a pretty bratty child, my main problem being my mouth:  I sassed my mother a lot, and sometimes threw fits on her when she asked me to do something.  By the time I was 13, I even went so far as to use those words no parent wants to hear out of her child:  "I hate you."  

Guess what?  I'm willing to admit those answered prayers might have all been random, for the simple reason there is no proving it was God.  I believe it was Him, but I won't try to make you believe the same as I do.  

My mother deserved a medal for not killing me.  Daddy just sort of stayed on the sidelines, he told me later, because of his temper.  He was afraid if he entered into the ruckus at all, he would hurt me.  So my poor mother was the enforcer, grabbing whatever was handy to paddle my behind.      

I'm just keeping it real here.  I believe God is present around me, but it's an unfair world.  I understand why some folks don't believe.  So much of life is random.  You can be driving down a freeway and get hit by a stray bullet.  Innocent babies get cancer and die.  Someone you trust turns out not to be trustworthy.  I have read the atheist point of view and even understand why they reject a higher power, but I personally choose to believe; yes, I make that choice.  I may not believe exactly the way you do, but I believe in God.  I love Jesus.  Cliff tells me I'm that way because it's all I knew as a child.  

Cliff and I are finally old enough to tolerate one another's very different beliefs, and we can be honest with one another and discuss things calmly.  

I'm reading a short non-fiction book called "Everything Happens for a Reason".    A woman who is a teacher at Duke University and has made a project out of studying the prosperity gospel for years gets stage IV colon cancer.  She writes about all those things people tell her to "cheer her up".  At one point she mentions how often they throw the words "at least" into a conversation about her cancer.  As I read it I remembered saying, "At least it isn't your right arm" to my daughter when she had to take desperate measures to relieve the lymphedema in her left arm;  lymphedema is one of the "gifts" breast cancer left in its wake.  

As I read this book, I wonder if I am better off not saying anything to a cancer patient ever again, since I'm famous for opening my mouth and inserting my big foot.  

So, my dear readers.  If my most important prayers were heard, the ones that seemed to have shaped how my life turned out, don't you ever think it was because I feel I am special in any way, or that God loves me more than He does you.  I will now tell you something that I also believe:  This world is pretty random.  Good and bad things befall us, and sometimes it's just the nature of the universe.  Yes, I do believe that both good and bad things can be "just random".   Miracles are few and far between.  You might just have to settle for the feeling of God's presence, guidance, and love as you walk through the fire.    

I've always liked the idea of positive thinking.  I've tried to be a positive person most of the time.  But I'm not in with the "name-it-and-claim-it" group.  You won't find me running around saying, "I am rich" as a way of making God pour money into my life.  I don't know how anyone can be a Jesus-follower and forget the fact that Jesus didn't even have His own house when He walked the earth, and his apostles were mostly destitute, hungry, tired, and mistreated.  Why are we any better?     

I say all that simply to get to this point:  If I were in charge of the universe, I would make sure every little girl finally got her pony at the proper time, right after she found her Prince Charming.  I would see to it that no innocent child ever had to suffer.  I would eradicate cancer.  Oh, and  I would make sure no mother would have to raise a little reprobate like me, who wouldn't behave.

And the world would be in a worse mess than it is now, because the natural order of things would be upset.  What I do wish for all my readers is peace of mind, whatever it takes to get that... as long as your method isn't killing you.  I want you to hang onto your precious life as long as you can, and I want everyone to find happiness in this messed-up but oh, so beautiful world.

This morning my heartfelt prayer is that you, my readers, will have a good day that brings you many reasons to smile.  Today is all we have.

Yours always,

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for my life

I used to say Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, and I suppose if I had to rate them all, it would still be a slight favorite.  But back when the kids were still at home or living nearby, back when I had all the cooking to do from the turkey to the trimmings to the pies, that's when I relished everything about it.  These days, the edge has somehow worn off, even though I'm not  doing that much of the work now (nor do I want to).  I wish I hadn't lost the excitement of fifty years ago.  Going back even seventy years, those times was great too.  All I had to do then was eat the wonderful meal:  By the time I was eight years old, I knew which dishes I could expect to find at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving, and I didn't so much get excited by the food as I did about seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles.  Good food was the norm in my family, any day.  

I enjoy getting together, of course, and seeing our family.  I just seem to have lost the excitement.  I thank God for every day I have, but I realize I have one foot touching earth and one stepping into eternity, so I don't get excited about many things these days.

I am at an age when I've realized I won't be able to do many of the things on my bucket list, since travel is so expensive.  Even the simpler things I thought I might eventually do are fading fast.  Example:  Ever since I read Ricky Skaggs' autobiography and developed a liking for bluegrass music, I have thought it would be great fun to attend a bluegrass festival, one that lasts for two or three days.  BUT... that would involve camping on the grounds: from what I've read, a lot of the entertainment at these festivals can be found on the campgrounds.  I understand random people get together and jam near their campers and tents.  What fun, to stroll from one group to another and listen to the songs!  But we're past the camping stage.

Of course, things like this don't always work the same in reality as they do in my imagination anyhow.  So perhaps I'm just being spared the disappointment of finding out it's no fun at all.

If you think I'm wishing my life had been different, you can think again.  I wouldn't trade lives with anybody.  There are things I would like to have done differently, but I love my life. 

When I was eleven years old, living on the Glen Wyant farm where Daddy was a hired man, I fell in love with the rural lifestyle, exploring the woods and climbing around in the barn.  It's as near to actual farming as my parents, or at least my dad, ever did in my lifetime, although we always lived in rural or small-town settings.  

After getting the news we were moving to Kansas City, I recall walking through the woods on the farm one day, praying I could someday have a similar place in the country, with woods to roam in.  I was sad when we moved to the city and settled into a two-room apartment temporarily.  I cried in private, remembering what I'd lost.  My other heartfelt prayer, one that I'd prayed since a VERY young age, was for a horse.  Of course, by moving to the city, that dream was lost for many years.

Nobody ever made me pray when I went to bed, and we only had prayers at meals when we had company.  But at some point I began to whisper a little prayer before I went to sleep, one of those rhyming prayers like "now I lay me down to sleep"; and then I'd throw in a wish at the end for something I wanted.   

But the only childhood prayers I felt with all my heart, spoken though tears and still remembered, are the prayers for a horse and the one to live on a farm.  And those are the ones God answered.  He set me up with a husband who, although he was raised in the city all his life, wanted to live in the country as badly as I did.  Oh, and He threw in the one other thing I was always drawn to when we lived in Harlem (Kansas City).  The Missouri River!   I could cross the gravel-covered levee and walk right down to the edge of it back then, or climb up to the ASB bridge and look down on it.  And while I didn't think to pray for a home near it, there was something comforting about the hugeness and power of it that touched my soul.  So God put icing on the cake when he moved me to Lafayette County onto six acres that magically became over 40 acres a few years later (another answered prayer).  I got my horse, I got my "farm",  the farm grew larger, and I rode my horse along the Missouri River many, many times.  

How's that for answered prayers?  I may not get excited about holidays any more, but I do get excited about how God answered every prayer I prayed as a child that was important for my lifelong happiness.  His first answer was always "just wait", even though I sometimes took that as "no".  Then, at a time when I'd almost forgotten those prayers, they were answered at the perfect times.

So how could I help but give thanks that God, in His mercy, answered the prayers of a little reprobate kid who always seemed to go her own way.  I still call myself "God's special-needs child", because I've stepped out of line quite a bit.  But don't ever think I don't realize Who arranged my life in such a way that all my prayers were answered.

That's my Thanksgiving.  If you, like me, tend to get a little down around the holidays, just think back to the prayers answered (or wishes granted, for my atheist readers).  

Most of us can come up with some gratitude.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

I've found my podcast

I had never ventured into the realm of podcasts until recently, on the long bus trip home from Sioux City, Iowa, with our tractor club friends.  It was dark; many of our group, older folks like me, were dozing, although I could hear random, quiet conversations once in a while.  Time was dragging.  I have trouble sleeping over four hours a night at home in my own bed, and I surely wasn't going to fall asleep sitting in a bus seat.  I thought about a person once telling me she and her husband regularly listen to a podcast about murder in small towns, where two guys dig up an old murder case from the past, analyze it, and make fun of the people in the town where it happened as well as the folks involved in the murder.  I reached down into a bag at my feet, pulled out the iPad, and clicked on the app for podcasts.  Before you start searching for it yourself, let me warn you this particular podcast is R-rated.  I listened to an entire episode and got a few laughs out of it, though.  Hey, I never said I was an angel.  

I can't understand why modern comedians think lewd talking makes them funnier, but I will listen to some of them... if they really ARE funny.  These guys made me laugh and helped the time pass, but I decided I'd look for a different podcast to call my own.  I wanted something relaxing, something that would make me feel better about life in general.  I'm not a prude, mind you.  But hearing someone say the F-word three times in every sentence eventually turns me off.  Still, I listened to a couple more.  Last night their little story was more than I could take.  It was about a murder, of course, one that really happened.  But it involved people who repeatedly molested children, even their own children.  This touched close to home, since there's something going on in a local town that, while it isn't THAT bad I suppose, troubles me deeply and has caused me some inner turmoil.  I stopped before the episode ended and decided I need to find a kinder, gentler podcast.  There is no way I can bear to listen at two guys laughing about child molesters at this point in my life.  

I was trying first one and then another when I remembered that one of you folks had suggested a podcast in a comment to a blog entry of mine.  I looked it up; it was from a reader who goes by the name of "Pudge" when she leaves a comment.  She suggested that I might like Sean of the South.  

I was familiar with this guy:  I've seen several of his columns shared on Facebook.  They are insightful articles that are worth the reading.  Recently I had even started following him on Facebook, but I didn't know (or care) that he had a podcast.

So when I awoke a few hours ago at midnight with a killer sore throat (no worries, I'm on the mend), I found the guy's podcast and made it mine.  I love a southern accent, although Pudge said, "I personally enjoy reading his creations more than listening to the podcasts because he lays on the good ole boy accent a little heavy."  

This guy tells simple stories about random people he meets, seeing the good in normal situations and average folks.  As Pudge said, he will bring tears to your eye, but they are the good kind of tears.  He leaves me thinking this old world isn't so bad after all.  He's written books, he does a newspaper column, he sometimes makes personal appearances, mostly in the south.  Look him up online if you wish:  He's totally rated "G".  

I'm grateful that one of my readers knew exactly what I needed at this point in my life.  I think I'll listen to another one.  It's 3:30 AM, and a long time before Cliff wakes up.  I believe Sean may even provide some inspiration for my journaling here.  

If you're tired of all the bad news these days, look him up.  You can read his words or listen to a podcast, but either way, you will end up a better person.  You might even find a laugh or two.

Gratefully yours,

PS:  For years I've had various readers tell me they were unable to comment on my blog.  While looking for something entirely different, I noticed a setting for "who can comment" and saw it was set for "those with a google account".  I changed that setting, so if you haven't been able to comment and are still a reader, you might try it now.  Maybe I've fixed that issue.  I'm not all that computer-savvy, and I seem to be forgetting a lot of things I used to know.  My one biggest regret about this blog is that I can't type an answer to questions in the comments directly to the person who asked the question.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Where everybody knows my name

I've mentioned before that I've been attending two of the churches in our small town each Sunday.  Stay with me here, I'm not trying to persuade you, my dear readers, to do what I'm doing.  I want to tell you what I've discovered about myself in the process.

How many times have my long-time readers seen on my blog the phrase "I'm a loner"?  Surely I've typed it into a few entries.  I've mentioned it many times on Facebook, and I tell people the same thing face to face.   But I'm learning something about myself during these last few months:  I may not be so much a loner as simply "socially awkward". 

Oh, I do value my alone time.  Growing up, I learned to enjoy my own company.  Throughout my first eight years in rural Iowa, there weren't many opportunities to play with other children.  Until I was five, I was my own best friend, and had no problem with that.  So once I started going to the one-room schoolhouse, I was already somewhat peculiar.  I know this because other kids didn't flock around me at recess.  One little girl told me I talked too loud (I still do, but at least that trait now serves a purpose, since Cliff is about half deaf).  Isn't it strange how a seventy-five-year-old woman would remember such things, and isn't it peculiar how it still hurts just a little?

And that's how the Internet drew me in.  I discovered a Christian chat room on AOL and made friends there.  Sometimes I even felt like the life of the party.  We began having chat reunions and met one another in person, so some of our Internet friends became real-life friends.  Many of those kind people have died now, but I still have Joanna, whom I claim as a sister.  We don't talk often, but we are there for one another when we are going through things.  I spent a week with her in her home near Washington, DC, and saw some of the local sites I would never have seen, if not for her.  She is much more than an "Internet friend".

The chat room group gradually disbanded; I left AOL.  Many years later, Facebook happened, and I re-connected with some of my old friends and made some new ones... online friends, that is, but there was once again that feeling that "somebody knows I'm here".  I went crazy, really.  A person can be very social online, and turn off the party when she's had enough.  I didn't have to clean house or entertain people to have a social life!  It was an ideal situation, I thought. 

All it really amounted to was this:  somebody knew I was alive.

It's worked pretty well for me all these years, but after stepping into these two small-town churches, I've realized something:  It's nice to have some real people to talk to, people who are glad to see me every time I walk through the door because when there are only fifteen of them, one person makes a big difference in the size of a crowd. 

I'll have to skip the Methodist Church this morning because the Baptist Church is having their Thanksgiving dinner after the service.  I'm taking Old Settler's beans, Cliff, and Heather, the grandson's wife.  Yes, Cliff volunteered to go to church this Sunday.  Why?  Because the preacher's wife said to tell him to come in and eat with us, since he comes to pick me up at church anyway.  

Cliff likes to eat, you know.  However, he said he didn't feel right just walking in for a meal.  So he is going to church too.  It'll be a one-time thing, I imagine, but at least the folks can meet the mysterious stranger who, along with my dog, is always waiting for me in the car after church.   I do hate being absent from the Methodist Church today, because I've made a friend who sits in the pew behind me every Sunday.  She was a school-teacher long ago.  We have some nice chats.  Her name is Patty.  She knows a lot about the history of Wellington.  Three generations of her family have attended that church.  She likes sitting behind me because she enjoys looking at my naturally curly hair, which makes her think about her curly-haired brother when he was a child.

As all these thoughts were running through my mind this morning, the theme song from "Cheers" came to mind.  Now, I didn't know all the lyrics to that song, although I never missed an episode of the show.  But I did recall the words in the title:  "Where everybody knows your name".

And that, my friends, is what draws me back to two churches of differing denominations every Sunday.  Not all my beliefs line up with either congregation, but it seems like God is in both of them, small in numbers as they are.  I keep my mouth shut about theological differences, because my opinion, after all, is just another opinion.  That and a dollar might buy you a cup of coffee.  But after sitting at home on Sunday for years or else going to larger churches where I felt invisible, there are two places where I am welcomed heartily and everybody knows my name... make that three.  And many of the people at a fourth one might vaguely remember me.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

An abrupt change in my behavior

I've opted out of Facebook briefly on a few occasions, the usual reason being that I simply wanted to see if I could.  This time, it was because of one thing that happened to someone, a thing that bothered me so much it literally made me sick at my stomach and sent me to the doctor.  So day before yesterday I temporarily turned Facebook off and made myself disappear from my four hundred plus "friends".  I didn't give a warning, because people start telling you how they will miss you and it ends up as looking like you're begging for attention.  All the other times I took a facebook vacation, it still had a hold on me and constantly called my name.  

This time is very different.  It was a relief to be in the real world.  I'm a nicer person.  When I'm reading, the book I hold has my full attention.

Yesterday was magical.  Cliff and I went to do some pre-Thanksgiving shopping, starting at Aldi.  He handed me a quarter and I walked to the line of locked-together carts.  I pushed the quarter in the slot, but it wouldn't release the cart.  I struggled with it awhile; a man approached the line beside mine to return his cart, and I asked if I could have his cart, offering my quarter to him.  "Oh, sure," he said.  "But keep your quarter."

I've had folks at Aldi ask me before, as I'm getting out of the car, if I need the empty cart they are returning; and I've had a couple of them tell me to keep my quarter.  But somehow this time, the tiny kindness set off a chain of events that I almost couldn't believe... but maybe it was because my full attention was right there, instead of wondering what somebody meant by some meme they posted on Facebook two days ago.  When I went into the store I saw, ahead of me, a man in a wheelchair with a service dog on a leash beside him and his wife ahead of him.  I noticed how when the wheel chair stopped, so did the dog, a mongrel who had no outstanding quality except the way he moved in tandem with the fellow, living in the present as only a dog can do.  The wife looked serious as she did her shopping; I said to her, "Isn't it wonderful how a dog can be trained to help a human?"

She answered, "Oh yes!  And this was a stray that was afraid of everything and didn't trust anybody before."

I hadn't been in the store long when Cliff decided to come in and join me.  He picked up a can of salmon I'd put in the cart and said, "What's this for?"

"Oh, I thought I'd make salmon patties soon; it's been awhile."  (The truth is, I love salmon patties, but they stink up the house for days!)

"Is that hard?"

I smiled at his complete lack of knowledge about how food is prepared and said, "No, you just crush some crackers, beat an egg, add that and some seasonings and onion, make patties, and fry them."

I realized what he was thinking:  We'd gotten a late start, and I said as we left home, "We are not going to eat out.  If it's time to eat when we get home, I'll just make us a grilled cheese sandwich."

So now I told him we'd have salmon patties instead of grilled  cheese, cook some peas, open the cottage cheese I was going to buy, and have an actual meal.

Cliff loaded our groceries into the trunk and a lady got out of her car nearby; I offered her my cart and she smiled and started to hand me her quarter.  "Oh no," I said, "just take it."

She started to insist, but I said, "A man gave it to me and said keep the quarter, so I want to hand it off to you."

She said, smiling, "Well then, I'll pass it on."

A simple exchange, right?  But if felt good.

Then on to Price Chopper.  When I finished there and was standing in the checkout line, I noticed the cashier looked unhappy as she did her job, hardly looking at the people in front of her.  When it was my turn, I said, "This season is tough for all of you doing this job, isn't it?  Half the people are excited and happy, but the other half of the people are grumpy."

She looked at me in surprise, visibly relaxed a little, and sighed out the words "Oh, yes!"  

I think she was just relieved that someone knew her job wasn't always easy.  

Then I paid her, told her happy Thanksgiving, and she smiled.

If you only knew how I've shopped in my little bubble for years, not looking anybody in the eye and hoping nobody looked at me... good grief, what has happened to me?  I laughed later, telling Cliff about all this.  "I think I've become an ambassador of good will today!"

I won't tell you how many people responded to my "happy Thanksgiving" greetings throughout all this.

What does this have to do with Facebook?  Simply this:  I was living in the present, rather than thinking about what I might be missing on Facebook.  And honestly, it was such a transforming experience, I may get off Facebook permanently.  This is a thought that would never have entered my mind before.  

I'm a 75-year-old woman, but when there's a family gathering and everyone else is playing on the phone, I give up and join them on my iPad or phone, because there's nobody to talk to anyhow.  Usually, we are all on Facebook.  I've met so many wonderful folks on the Internet that I'll never interact with again if I make this drastic change; that's the only thing that makes it a difficult decision.  Will I get sucked back in if I try to limit my Facebook time?  Does it have to be all or nothing?  

I stopped carrying a phone or iPad to bed with me a long time ago, and I stopped looking at the phone when we are in a restaurant.  I believe from now on, when everybody around me is playing around with a device of any kind, I'll just go in another room and do something else, or maybe start reading a book.  Of course, I read my books on an iPad, and I don't think that would be much of a change.  

I'll let you know how it all turns out.   

Friday, November 22, 2019


"At her happiest Kate violated grammar just for the joy of it.  'Ain't life splendid', and 'ain't we got this'."

That's a quote I got from the book I'm reading at present, Virgil Wander.  I read it over and over, because it fits into my own description very well.  I learned not to say "ain't" in first grade, at my one-room schoolhouse.  English was one of my favorite subjects throughout my school years.  I had almost perfect grammar.  I corrected my parents' language when they slipped up.  I diagrammed sentences.  When English became senior literature, I dived in even deeper.

I suppose I would have spoken the king's English for life, were it not for my re-discovering country music back around 1964.  My kind of rock-and-roll was receding into the past, and the Beetles were changing what sort of songs I was hearing on my life-long favorite radio station, WHB, out of Kansas City.  A co-worker of mine at National Bellas Hess was constantly talking about George Jones and Patsy Cline.   Patsy had not long before died in a plane crash after appearing in Kansas City.  Since I no longer enjoyed WHB, I asked her what station she listened to so I could hear her favorites and get my own opinion; it was KCKN.  I turned the dial on my stereo and never looked back.  Oh, the simplicity of the words and music!  Oh, how I loved the stories I heard in the lyrics!  The melodies sounded so simple, I figured maybe I could even learn to chord on a guitar and learn to sing the songs with my own accompaniment.  

Loretta Lynn was in her heyday, writing and singing her own songs; Dolly Parton was just starting up, singing songs she wrote:  I liked the homey, down-south way they turned the phrases in their songs, and almost subconsciously began talking in the same way they phrased their songs.  

There have been a few times I made an effort to return to proper English, but folks, that southern way of talking fit me like a glove.  When Cliff and I are in a northern state to attend a tractor show, someone will always ask what part of the south I'm from.  I suppose in a way, Missouri is at least half southern:  When I was growing up, most of our Church of Christ preachers had southern accents, even the ones originally from the southern part of Missouri.

Country music has changed a lot.  Cliff and I seldom listen to the newer country stations because it sounds like rock to us.  We are blessed to live in an age when a person can make his own custom radio station that plays the songs from whatever era she loves.  But I will always be "country" in some fashion or other.

On another note, I had to take a Facebook break.  There are things going on that I can only watch from the sidelines, stuff that I really have no say in and yet am deeply concerned about (not politics), and it was tearing me apart inside.  I got off Facebook for my own mental health (and physical health, for that matter).  Maybe when everything is settled that was bothering me I will talk about it if I can find a way to do it without being too specific.  Or not.  Either way, I needed a break.  When I go back in a few days, I may just fix my Facebook so all the parties in the conflict I've been watching can't be seen by me unless I go directly to their Facebook status.  That will help immensely.  Because I WON'T go to their status.  I can't unfriend them all; someone would assume I was taking sides.  

I appreciate all of my readers here.  Thank you for following my blog.  If any of my Facebook followers are reading this, I still have Facebook Messenger if you need to contact me.

Faithfully yours, 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hello Darkness, my old friend

While Cliff and I have no complaints, things happen around us to people we care about that sometimes cause us concern.  Normally, I don't obsess on the problems of other adults, even if we are talking about my adult children.  I don't often get down in the dumps about such things:  I pray about situations, but remind myself that once a person is an adult, what they do is their own business.  One incident happened recently, not to a relative, but to someone who feels like a relative.  Things like this compound, and add to that the fact it's hard not to worry about the state of the world... well, guess what?  I find myself depressed.

I'm not used to living in this state of mind, and was somewhat puzzled until it hit me:  It's my wintertime depression causing this, making me think everything is a tragedy!  I've been through this every winter of my adult life, and it will pass.  

We enjoyed the trip to Jackson, Minnesota, to tour the AGCO manufacturing plant.  It's enlightening and interesting to me to visit any sort of manufacturing plant and watch how things are made.  Our guide was excellent, and since we were given very good headsets to wear, even Cliff, with his impaired hearing, had no problem making out every word.  It was a long tour, and all but five or six of us walked the entire time; they had a vehicle of some kind that had room for five or six folks to sit in.  I'm thankful that I can still walk two hours without too much pain.  I found myself wishing I had taken my cane-chair along, because every time our group stopped I could have had a chance to sit down.  However, the people who rode in the vehicle were much, much more handicapped than I am, so I used the opportunity to be thankful for what I have and what I am able to do at this stage of my life.  

My favorite stop on the trip was in Greenfield, Iowa:  The Iowa Aviation Museum.  We had an excellent guide through that facility also.  He was passionate about his love of the old airplanes and the history of aviation, and I could easily have listened to him another hour.  A small area of the museum is dedicated to flight 232, a plane that actually crashed right at this location.  Our guide was a cop at the time this happened, and he told many stories of things that went on and people who came out of the crash alive.  He remembers many, if not all, of the names of those who survived.  Can you imagine what those people on the plane felt like, knowing they were heading straight into a crash landing?  Wow!  You can read more about it HERE.

Most of our tractor club members prefer our trips only require one night away from home in a motel, so there are a lot of things crammed into two days, but our club secretary does a wonderful job of coordinating things so our time isn't wasted, also juggling the times around so we don't miss any meals.  There were also at least 12 hours on the road in a bus in those two days.  I'm proud of our tough group of senior citizens, many of whom are in their 80's, for even attempting such a trip.  Some use canes to get around.  They don't complain, but you can tell by just looking at them it isn't easy.  God bless them for their courage to get on a bus for such a long distance, then get off and walk through places of interest.  For their sake, I wish all museums had places available throughout so they could sit down occasionally.  That was the only fault I found at the Aviation museum.  There are seats in the lobby, but in the exhibit area there's not a single bench or seat.  

On another note, I am reading Michelle Obama's book, Becoming.  It's been available to check out at the library for some time, but I always breezed past it thinking it might be all about politics.  I didn't vote for Obama for president, but I came to admire his behavior while he was in office.  Nevertheless, I seemed to be avoiding that book every time I saw it and I finally asked myself, "What are you afraid of?"  I checked out the audio version and have been listening to it during my early-morning time before Cliff gets up.  What wonderful, hard-working, wise parents Michelle Obama had!  Anyone with small children could learn a lot from reading about them.  So far, I love her story of her growing-up years; the book may not hold my interest later.  That depends on what direction it goes.  I'm having problems lately finding any book that suits me.  

Cliff is reading his second, or maybe third, Chet and Bernie book.  I'd been telling him about these books for ages, but there's no way you can tell anyone they should read books narrated by a dog and get them to take you seriously.  All he had to do was read the first one; he was hooked.  I advised him not to read them all end to end, because they start to seem too much alike.  So right now he's reading some non-fiction book I chose for him.  He likes good biographies:  His favorite was, I believe, about U. S. Grant... if I have that wrong, I'll come back and change it.  

I finally managed to lose the pounds that had accumulated on my body ever since the early part of the year, and even a couple more besides.  It's actually easier now than it once was because I just don't want to eat as much as I used to, and some of my tastes have changed with age.  I still try my best to help Cliff out, but I refuse to be an enforcer.  That only makes me feel as though I'm treating him like a child.  I do watch his portions and try to encourage him, and he really does try.  It's just hard for him.  And of course, as the holidays approach, trying to control what we eat is like getting through a field full of land mines.

It's deer season, so Arick and various of his friends and relatives have been out back hunting each morning and evening.  So Gabe and I take our walk along 224 highway, like I did many years ago.  But if we walked in the pasture, we'd scare away all the deer that might be in the area; also, we could get shot!  

Cliff will get a couple of tests run Tuesday so the cardiologist can figure out whether there's a problem he needs to tend to.  He'll do a nuclear stress test, which is how his original problems thirteen  years ago were discovered, and also some kind of scan... there are so many different kinds of scans that can be taken, I never know which kind they are talking about.  I think I'll find out exactly what it is and write it down while we're there.

Life is short, God is good, and we will do our best to enjoy each day.

Yours truly


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Some people just know how to get things done

Cliff was reading an article on Facebook a while ago about a guy who was eating at a Waffle House.  This fellow noticed there was only one employee working, and there were thirty customers in the restaurant, so when he finished his meal, he put on an apron and pitched in.  Cliff just thought that was an amazing thing to do.

“But Cliff,” I said, “we saw Joyce (our tractor club secretary) do that same thing while we were eating in a restaurant during one of our bus trips, and as soon as she started helping out, others joined her.”

“Really?” he asked.  

“You were with me at the time.  You don’t remember?”

“No.  Sorry.”

“Nobody did a newspaper article about Joyce and the other helpers and their good deed."

The thing is, when the guy made it into a newspaper article, the recognition became his reward ( Matthew 6:2).  Those ladies in our tractor club have a reward coming later.  Are you wondering if I got up and helped the others that day?

Nope, I didn't.  And if I had, I'd have gotten in the way.  I'm one of those sorry people who never looks around to see how I can help, and when I try to help it seems I'm not helping much.  I'm ashamed to admit it.  Cliff likes to have people helping him who can see what needs to be done without bring told.  Folks, I need someone to tell me what to do.  When I worked on a job, I always did well on tasks where I did repetitive tasks over and over, jobs where I had no decisions to make.  

To read the Waffle House article, click HERE.

Now, I sent all the words above this line to our tractor club secretary in an email (except I forgot to put in the link to the article).  She replied that she didn't remember the incident.  But she said, "Like Cliff, I don't remember, I just have tried to always do what I thought was best or needed done."

I can attest to that, because when she and her husband load and unload a tractor at a parade or other event, they work smoothly, quickly, and calmly together.  A perfect team.  When our club secretary is around, things get done.  

Poor Cliff.  He got stuck with me; what a dud I am.  But I'm glad he did.  I'm just thankful there are people like Joyce in the world.

I'll leave you with this to think about:  We are scheduled to go on a bus trip to Jackson, Minnesota, leaving early Wednesday morning and coming home pretty late Thursday night.  If you look at a weather map of the USA right now, it doesn't look good.  We could deal with the cold, I imagine; but there's a chance of snow in the forecast.  If the roads are going to get bad, the trip may have to be canceled.  Most of the folks in the tractor club are not spring chickens, and we senior citizens aren't crazy about getting out on slick roads.

I intend to have a good week, whatever the outcome.  


Friday, November 08, 2019

Stand up straight

I've never had great posture.  My uncle told me many years ago that I needed to correct my posture or I'd end up like my grandma, who was pretty badly bent over.  I tried to make myself sit and stand straight for a long time after he told me that, but it didn't really help at all.  I didn't feel like I was slouching; it's hard to correct something you're doing if you don't realize you're doing it.

In June of 2017, I found online some simple exercises that were practically guaranteed to fix anyone's posture.  It sounded too good to be true.  The author said it would help correct my bad posture immediately, but that I would need to do them for at least a month, then I could stop.  I'd be fixed.  

Well, the exercises did correct my slouching to a great extent, but after doing them for a couple of months (just for good measure) I stopped.  Because the guy said I could stop after one month.  That's the part that didn't work.  But of course, I didn't KNOW I was back to slouching until a while back Cliff said, "You're walking more bent-over all the time."

So I started the exercises again, this time vowing to keep doing them.  The last time we visited my sister, she noticed I was standing straighter and mentioned it.  That was rewarding.  Then this morning, Cliff happened to get out of bed while I was still standing against the wall doing my exercises and said, "I have to say, that has fixed your slumping."

Really?  I'm serious when I say I cannot tell when my posture is bad.  At all.  If nobody said anything about it, I'd probably stop again.  But it's worth doing something that only takes three minutes out of your day, at least once a day and usually twice, as long as it's doing what it's supposed to.

You'll find the exercises HERE.

If you try this, be sure and read the instructions and do everything the way it says to, such as tuck your chin, and keep the back of your head touching the wall.  Otherwise it won't work.  Also, let me warn you that if your posture is as bad as mine was, this is going to hurt when you first start, and for quite awhile afterward.  You won't believe the places such a simple exercise can make you ache.  But that just assures you that you are doing something right.  

I promise you, it works.  I thought I had blogged about this a couple of years ago, when I did the exercises and quit, and gradually went back to slumping.  However, I did a search using the word "posture" and couldn't find it here.  So I searched on Facebook and there it was, only a little over two years ago.

Yours truly,
Me, sitting up straight right now.

P.S.  I put a new picture taken during my morning walk at the top of my blog.  I love the picture, but no font color shows up well against it.  Oh well, I'll try to get another picture that will show my blog's name a little better before too long.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

About that last blog entry

I failed to mention some of the reasons for declining attendance at our local churches, so I'll just stop what I'm doing and address that.

First of all, Wellington is a small town, yet sort of a bedroom community for people who work in Kansas City.  The town is holding its own as far as population:  I wrote a song years ago about Wellington, and one line said, ''Seven hundred eighty people, every one my friend".  I know that number hasn't increased by much, and I think I wrote the song in 1980.

Wellington is a farming community with a high population of people of German heritage, which is why the church in town with the highest attendance is St. Luke's.  It used to be a UCC (United Church of Christ, not to be confused with the Church of Christ I was raised in).  The church pulled out of the UCC years ago, and now they are an Evangelical Free congregation.  The old German families still attend.  However, as the younger generation grows up, goes to college, and graduates, there's not room for all of them on the farms.  They find jobs elsewhere, often in a large city and out of the state.  

By the way, St. Luke's church has a fascinating history:  As I understand it, up until World War I, the services were in the German language.

Another factor in the decline in attendance at local churches is that people with young children and teenagers desire programs that include the kids, something to hopefully keep them interested in attending church throughout their lives.  The small churches just can't offer that.  

A Catholic friend, in a comment she must have deleted, asked me where the Catholic Church is around here.  Well, I honestly have to say that while I love my Catholic friends, it would be difficult for me to make such a huge change.  Although if a Catholic Church were the only one I could attend, I'd go there, I suppose.  Our town has never had a Catholic Church, but there's one in Lexington, ten miles away, and one in Odessa.  Cliff and I know where all the Catholic Churches are because we enjoy their Lenten fish fries. 

Lent is another thing I was never familiar with, by the way.  Also the Apostle's Creed, although I've almost learned it from the church I was attending before, and the Methodist church I attend now. 

Another friend commented that she doesn't think too much about heaven and hell.  Neither do I.  I am just trying to be a better person now that I'm older.  For me, that's never easy, but I know that's what I'm supposed to do, and I feel better about myself if I make an effort.  One of the sermons last Sunday was on honest prayer.  As I was thinking about the subject of prayer the next morning, I realized there are a few people who present me with a problem when I pray.  I'm supposed to be praying for the people I don't like instead of pretending they don't exist, because that's what we're supposed to do.   I imagine God got a laugh out of me trying to figure out how on earth I can pray for them!  After some false starts, I realized I have been in the habit of telling God how He should fix these people.  I also realized I had a part in all these relationships going sour, and that it probably wouldn't do me any harm to think back on the times I could have kept my mouth shut so I'd be able to change MY behavior.  I did come out of that little session amazed that my feelings about these three people had changed as I looked at them from a different perspective.  That's the big thing about prayer:  If it changes nothing else, it will change you. 

Another thing:  I don't get on my knees and pray some long drawn-out prayer.  I talk to God when I have something to say, just like I do Cliff.  I might be taking a walk or washing dishes, but those are the times I pray.  I do a lot of thanking God, especially early mornings.  

But who cares about my prayer life?  I just wanted my readers to know all the reasons why the churches have such small attendance.  The number one reason, of course, is that people aren't believers, or else like Cliff, never went to church and have no reason to start now.  

When I was a kid in north Missouri, neighbors were more important to one another.  On Sunday nights the adults would hang around inside the church or just outside the front door, smoking, and catch up on local news.  Farmers would talk about their crops and compare notes on how their livestock was doing.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out that even the atheists went to church back then, just to hear the local buzz.  An elderly lady named Patty who sits behind me at the Methodist Church, said her grandmother and mother both used to attend that church.  She said years ago there were three grocery stores in town, and most of the local merchants attended that Church.  Now there are no stores in Wellington.  The bank and the old hardware store are gone, as is Virgil's barber shop.  We had a mini-mart at the city limits but this year's flood damage caused it to close.  So now you can't even buy a quart of milk without going to Lexington or Odessa.

Changes happen.  Younger folks welcome it, old folks reminisce about the old days as a method of coping.

And if any of my several atheist friends are reading this, they're thinking, "I'll be glad when she gets off this religious kick."  

Don't worry.  I think I'm done with this subject.  

Yours sincerely,

Just call me the Church Lady

After accompanying me to church for a few years, Cliff informed me going to church wasn't his thing.  He'd gone with me after he retired, simply because I asked him  to, now that he had plenty of time and leisure.  Over the years, I had always what I call a "church widow"; every church has some, and often they make up half the congregation: they are the women who who have a husband at home, but go to church alone.  Women, I guess, feel the need for God and Jesus more than men.   

When Cliff announced his intentions to stay home on Sundays, he told me he would gladly take me to church and pick me up afterward; after staying home for a Sunday or two, I made a decision:  While I had no problem with the church we'd been attending, I wanted to see what the Methodist Church was like.  It's the only one of the five churches in Wellington I've never attended on a Sunday; there is one small store-front church I only attended with my daughter once, when she was a teenager; I doubt she remembers:  But that one wasn't my cup of tea.  I also wanted to visit the Baptist church in town:  I had attended that one for several years, even sang some of my home-made songs there; and both my kids were baptized in their baptistry.  I have good memories of those days.  How could I possibly decide?

To help me with my decision, I decided to switch between the Baptist and Methodist Churches on alternate Sundays.  The Methodist Church is sharing a pastor with the Odessa UMC church, so the remnant of folks left in the Wellington congregation gets him at 9 AM:  He leads the service, then he and his wife drive the ten miles or so to Odessa to do his duty there; the Wellington group have their Sunday School after the pastor leaves for Odessa.

What I found out is that both these congregations are struggling for members.  If either of them have twenty people in attendance, it's a good day.  In the Methodist Church, 90% of the people in attendance are senior citizens, so you wonder just how much longer the church can go on.  I will hand it to the new pastor:  He is doing his best not to make the small group feel "left out" of things; he's going the extra mile to make sure people don't just feel like they are playing second fiddle.  

I like the people I meet at the Baptist Church, and since the pastor still has some grown kids at home, there are younger faces in attendance there.  I was shocked the first Sunday when I went in and saw not a single face I recognized from the 70's, although after attending a few times, I found out one of the men... a bearded guy... was someone I had known well in the old days; he just didn't look like he used to, what with the beard and 40 years of aging.  Oh, and he has a different wife... I would definitely have recognized him, had his first wife been beside him; she passed away some time ago.  

I gazed around at the handful of people, and I must have looked confused:  the preacher's wife introduced herself, surveyed the few folks in the pews with me, and said, "Well, this is about it."

Someone told me there had been a split in the congregation due to some disagreement, which sort of explained the small crowd.    

Most people these days aren't church attenders.  Many of them, like Cliff, say church bores them.  I know there are also a lot of folks who just don't accept the concept of God, or Jesus.  They prefer science.  That's their belief, and you may as well accept the fact they aren't going to change in that opinion.   (I don't feel science and Christianity are that far apart, but I digress).  Everyone who isn't retired works Monday through Friday and have only the weekend to get things done.  Somewhere in the last few years, after sporadic church attendance on my part throughout much of my life, I felt the need to go to church.  I missed the hymns I grew up with, and I needed the feeling that Sunday was a "special" day with a purpose.  I guess this goes to prove the fact that if you "train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)  Yes, something about growing older made me want to be in church, and it wasn't because I was scared of dying.  Cliff has always said the reason I like to go to church is that I was raised that way... and he wasn't.  

After going to different churches on alternating weeks for a month, it occurred to me that there was no reason I couldn't go to both, every Sunday.  I liked each one, and it's only five blocks from one to the other.  I leave the Methodist Church at 10, walk to the Baptist Church, sit for a few minutes in a back pew till they get done with Sunday School, and there I am at another church service.  Here's a surprising fact:  I've found out I enjoy going to church more without Cliff beside me!  (Does that surprise you, Cliff?)  I don't even know why, and I sort of feel guilty about it, but I'm more "myself" without him along.  I visit with people freely, and actually feel more comfortable in my skin.  Maybe it's good for me to talk to people on my own, once a week.  

I'm only one person, but I'm one more person sitting in the empty pew, making the group one person bigger.  

Change is hard, and it hurts me to see the traditions of the past fading:  I hate seeing the empty pews, and the churches that have closed down in other small towns.  As for me, I feel comforted that there is still a place or two in this country where I can walk in as a stranger, alone, and have people who are happy to see me and greet me warmly.  That fact alone makes me want to make use of such freedom!  Oh, and now I get to sing twice as many of the hymns I love each Sunday.  Besides, I feel downright ecumenical.  That's a long shot from how my religious training started out, where "the only folks going to heaven are me and thee, and I'm not too sure abut thee."  

Don't think I'm bad-mouthing the religious training of my childhood, though.  I wouldn't trade the things I learned with anybody.  I still remember many of my memory verses from that time.

So there you have it.  Just another surprise for me in my golden years, another chapter in a wonderful life that I would not trade with anybody.