Thursday, June 30, 2011


PHOTO: My baby boy, Joshua, a few years ago now...


LuLu-ism #18: "Life is like a box of chocolates." Phooey! It’s chocolates that have gotten me into this mess… overweight and pedaling for my life…

This morning LuLu and I had a perfect ride. Cool, sunny, and no wind. It was like the air was just there; draped around me like one of those plastic shredded curtains you see separating you from a meat locker. Not a pretty description, I know, but that’s what it reminded me of. No windy movement, just air. We rode a little over eight miles. Remember, my goal is to work up to fifteen miles. I could probably do that now, but I’m not sure I’d be able to walk or sit down if I did. I guess I better just slowly work up to it.

A perfect ride for prayer.

If I let my mind and heart wander on it’s own I naturally start asking The Father to keep watching over my kids. Yeah, my kids are 37, 34, and 32, or there abouts, but they’re still my kids… my boys. I’m a mom. It’s what mom’s do. Today, my heart was on my youngest. He’s a father of a daughter that is six and three quarters. If I just told you she was six years old, she’d correct me. My son is about to transition into a full-time campus ministry position. He interned on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus last year, and this year he was invited to join the team. God has been very faithful to this son of mine, as he’s tried to find his way. Gary and I knew when this guy was about five years old that he was going to be a minister. Of course we didn’t tell him that. We just watched and pondered on our hearts all the little clues that kept popping up- like the night I found him crying in his bed at age four. When I asked him what was wrong he said, “I’m not dead yet. I want to go to heaven to live with God but I’m not dead yet.” His tears were real and his heart so tender.

So, we pondered, I guess not unlike, Mary, who stood watching her young son of twelve debate with the priest in the temple. Something was up with her little boy as she placed her hand over her heart and emotionally handed him over to God.

So, this morning while riding on LuLu through the countryside, I prayed for my little boy, who’s 32. I asked God to bless this man whose heart is still tender. I asked Our Father, to help my boy find the financial support needed (you see, if your calling is to a small, struggling campus ministry on a state campus far away from the Bible Belt, you have to raise your own support if you want to eat and pay your bills, it’s unfortunate but necessary). I unashamedly and boldly asked God to bless this child and give him wisdom to cope with what is ahead. And, like, many mothers before me, I pleaded with God to guard my boy’s heart and spirit and to make his paths straight.

By the time LuLu and I were rolling back up my driveway, God and I had had quite a talk. The Fake Knee was starting to swell and the cowgirl was fussing up a storm. But, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do, right?

Keep pedaling and praying, my friends,


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


LuLu-ism # 17: Friends accept the apology of friends for their neglect, however, there is great satisfaction in making them grovel for about three minutes or so.

I’m back in the saddle. LuLu and I have been getting to know one another again. She’s a little ticked that I’ve left her for so long. But what’s a party girl to do? Gary and I have had a month of fun and now it’s time to get back down to business. So, I hopped back on LuLu early Saturday morning for a spin. And then this morning she and I were at it again.

It was windy and cool. The Fake Knee was creaking, but what else is new? And the *cowgirl- cranky. But other than that, it was a lovely ride, until…

… I came upon a dead kitten in the middle of the road. She was about six or seven months old. I spotted her at just about the same place where the duck almost knocked me in the head that time. I think I’m going to have to give that place in the road a name- Danger Zone would be appropriate. Seeing the little critter in the road instantly reminded me of the cat we had when the boys were growing up. Tinkerbell was her name. The sweetest cat ever. One time we let her have kittens and it was such a joy to watch her mother her brood. She was Joshua’s cat, so Tinker and all her kittens ‘lived’ in his room during that period. Get him to tell you about the time he woke up to five kittens chewing on his hair and knocking his nose around.

Tinkerbell had a pretty long life, but met her doom one day when a neighbor backed over her. My heart was broken. So was Josh’s. That night we had a funeral for her in the back yard, complete with songs and a final word. Josh’s older brothers did their best not to laugh in the middle of her eulogy, however, they didn’t succeed. I may have grounded them for that. I can’t remember.

Anyways, the kitten in the road made me sad. As I pedaled around my three-mile neighborhood block I thought about life and death and pets and the cycle of life. Pretty heavy for a morning ride, but then as I turned onto my road, I was greeted by a mother chicken and her chicks crossing in front of my path. Thank goodness the old wascally Wooster (rascally rooster) wasn’t around. A dead kitten and being chased by that ornery rooster on the same ride would have been too much. The chicks were a feathery white and stayed close to their mama. Cute as buttons. They made me smile.

Life is a cycle. Mine, cats, chickens… yours. The best we can do is to try and make the most of our lives while we can. Live. Love. Laugh. And, thank God for all the precious moments given.



*cowgirl- butt

Sunday, June 19, 2011



LuLu-ism #16: A friend doesn’t leave a friend alone, sitting in the garage as spider webs form on her handlebars. It’s not right.

Hello. LuLu here. Deb is gone… again. I don’t know why she wanted a bike so bad if she was going to skip town every other week. So here I am just hanging out in the garage. If I don’t get out soon my fenders are going to get saggy and I think I’m starting to get a little thick in the spokes.

This week, Deb and that handsome husband of hers have gone canoeing on the Wisconsin River with some teens from their church’s youth group and with a couple of other special folks. I hear it’s supposed to rain every day this week. Heh-Heh. Bet she gets wet… really, really wet. Heh-Heh. Poor baby.

She’s promised that once she gets home, she’s getting back in the saddle. Of course that means she’ll probably start whining about that silly cowgirl of hers again. Enough already!

Even with all of her complaining, I can’t believe I kind of miss her. She’s determined; I’ll give her that. Deb’s not in great shape, yet she imagines herself a female Lance Armstrong. It’s kind of cute, really. Yeah, Deb can grow on you in a kudzu kind of way. Well, that’s it for now. I’m sure she’ll want to write to you when she gets back. But, until then, I guess I’ll spend my time getting my tires pumped. As you wait for her return why don’t you say a little prayer for her. No telling how much trouble her cowgirl is going to give her sitting in a canoe all day… wet, cold and neglected. It’s not going to be pretty.

We’ll both see you next week…


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Just a quick note. Once again LuLu and I are separated. My family and I are on a retreat at our Christian camp. Fall Hall Glen in Black River Falls, WI is a gorgeous spot on the earth that covers about 400 acres, a creek and two water falls. The cabins are rustic (by rustic I mean, mice and bats are the natives and campers in flip flops and t-shirts are the interlopers), the pines are majestic and the sound of the rushing creek is a little slice of heaven as far as I'm concerned. I wanted to bring LuLu with me, but alas, I own no bike rack. It's a bling thing I haven't purchased yet for my pink fendered beauty. And, I couldn't fit her inside the van because it was stuffed full of the essentials needed to survive four days and nights in the wilderness. Bug spray, sun screen, sleeping bag, pillow, towels, hat (I never wear a hat at home but for some reason I think at camp it is one of those can't- do-without-items), blanket, sheets, all sorts of creams, make up, bottled water, creek shoes and other assorted necessary shoes, after all, one can't wear the same shoe to play volleyball in and to the evening devotional now can one? And well the list goes on. Hence, no room for LuLu.

What I've discovered on our little jaunts into the woods, is that apparently, I'm a high maintenance woman. I love roughing it, if I get to bring all the things with me that makes roughing not so, well, rough. I wished I could tell you that I'm a regular Grizzly Adams type and that I like eating bugs off trees and rubbing pine sap on my face as sun screen. But I don't. Spiders make the hair on my neck stand up, and mosquitoes, as far as I'm concerned, are from the devil. And, those little tiny flies that bite you through your clothing are the direct spawn of Satan himself. So, why do I find myself year after year loading up the car and heading out to Fall Hall Glen?

Because, no where on this planet do I feel as at peace as I do here, even though I'm sleeping in the most ridiculous bunk bed with springs missing and every time I roll over it barks. Truly it does. My bed barks. The metal it's made of was forged during the first week of the industrial revolution and it simply does not like human contact. Yet, I'm in my bliss the minute my sandals hit the sandy top of the hill of this God-kissed place.

We're here just one more night. Our cabin is full of precious ones. This year our five granddaughters slept in the bunks just an arms length away. A son and daughter-in-law slept on their own barking beds and also made our cabin with the name of Merry Breezes holy ground. If I can't ride LuLu, then sharing a little cabin in the woods with such dear ones is the next best thing. God is good.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Ride On!

The LuLu Chronicles

LuLu-ism #15- If you don’t put your *cowgirl in the saddle for over two weeks, she’s gonna pay…

We’re home. Our travels to the South were sweltering but fun. Now it’s back home to Wisconsin. And, finally, after a two-week absence, LuLu and I are reunited. She’s classier than I remembered, with her pink fenders and shiny basket and all.

As I hopped on and started pedaling down the driveway, I felt light and young and ready for a long ride. Of course a three-mile ride wasn’t going to happen, not if my cowgirl had her way. It seemed she didn’t remember LuLu at all and it didn’t take long before she was complaining like a diva rock star.

And, if the whining cowgirl wasn’t bad enough, about a quarter of a mile down the road, my eyes started itching as if someone had rubbed poison ivy on my eyelids. Next my throat started closing up as tight as an elevator door. What was happening? The fact that my white shirt had turned a dingy, spotty yellow should have been a clue. I’d been pollened! Before I could even squeeze out a sneeze, dusty, mustard-looking spores shellacked my eyelashes, nose hairs, and contacts. Benadryl here I come!

Will there ever be a day when I can hop on LuLu and not have something or go wrong? Is there such a thing as a perfect bike ride? You know, a day when I don’t swallow bugs, get chased by a chicken, almost get hit in the head by a duck, have my pedal fall off, given the evil eye by a honking peacock , or discover a hole chewed in my bike shorts half way through my ride.

I don’t remember ever having these troubles as a kid riding my old Ward’s Hawthorne. Back then you couldn’t tell where I ended and my bicycle began. I don’t really want to recapture my youth. I’d settle for just not doing half bad for my age.

I will pedal on. After all, what else could go wrong? Well, I guess if a dragon flies over and drops poop on my head, I might consider that a sign that maybe bicycling isn’t for me. But until then, tomorrow is another day. Get a good night’s rest, LuLu. In the morning, I’m strapping a pillow to the cowgirl, a mask over my nose, goggles over my eyes and carrying a squirt bottle in my basket just in case some wild life longs to attack my head.

Ride on!


* cowgirl means 'butt'

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My lighthouse on the shore

PHOTOS: (below) A picture of mom taken just yesterday at an old country store where we had a pre-birthday lunch.
(right) Mom & me last winter.

Today is my mother’s 84th birthday. She’s beautiful, graceful and still has a sparky spunk about her. Born and raised in Tennessee, my mom is a true daughter of the South... and I owe her everything. Whatever goodness I process, it was first placed in me by my mom. Whatever problem solving skills I have, or wisdom, or humor I learned from watching my mother. She was and is a warrior mom, who protected, nurtured and loved her children as fierce as a storm.

I keep thinking, ‘”When is she going to act old, for Pete’s sake?” She can still out walk me and let her loose in a T.J. Maxx or a flea market and she is just short of magical the way she can hone in on a bargain.

Her own mother died when she was just nine years old- a baby really. Her father and sisters raised her. When she married my dad and became a mother herself, she’s confessed that she was never confident in her mothering skills. But Mom was an old soul even though she had her first child in her very early twenties. She mothered by feel, gut and heart. And, I must say, my brother and me didn’t turn out half bad.

At my age, remember I just turned 60 a few weeks ago, I am lucky to still have my mother with me. I can’t imagine my life without her. I mean, who would tell me my hair needs to be cut, or that I need to go on a diet, or that I’m not getting enough sleep? I am still my mother’s baby girl, albeit, shaggy, over-weight and always tired. Just by showing up, I make her day. We live twelve hours apart, but talk every day. She is as much a part of my physical make up as my arm or a kidney. Emotionally, we’re very different, yet, our hearts pick up on each other’s beat and fall in sync the minute I hear her voice on the phone or I enter a room where she is.

She is not my best friend. She is my mother. Mother trumps friend by my way of thinking. There is only one of her. I’m hers. She’s mine. My cheekbones, eyes, little dent on the side of my cheeks all are perfect matches to hers.

It is Mom who taught me to pray, and if she had not ever taught me another thing, that would have been enough.

Happy Birthday, sweet Mommie. Thank you... for the nest and the wings.


.PHOTO: A Glamour shot taken just a few years ago... a gorgeous lady inside & out.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Southern Belle Returns Home

PHOTO: This picture hangs in my
mothers' den. It's my brother and me in 1955.


Sorry, I’m so late in getting this out. Gary and I are in Memphis visiting my folks and it’s hard to write when you can actually see your body parts melting before your very eyes. It’s 104 degrees here, folks! Sweat has taken on a new meaning for me. Don’t think a little perspiration under the armpits and a dainty few beads above the lip. No sir. Think pools and pools and pools of sopping body-oozing fluids leaking from every pore of your being. Then, think of the added discomfort of humidity- the kind of humidity that makes your arm hairs frizz, and where the air is so thick you could plop it on a stick and lick it like a Fudgesicle. I’m in the Deep South and my blood has had 34 years of living in the North. It has thickened up like 10W-30 motor oil. Believe me, I’m not at my prettiest here.

I’m missing LuLu. I wanted to bring her with me. I imagined myself riding through the shaded lanes of Magnolia trees around my parent’s home. I saw myself, with Murphy in my basket, tooling through the dogwoods and crepe myrtles humming ‘Dixie’ like a local yokel. But the truth is, at 104 degrees, I would have stroked out at the first corner. So, it’s just as well that she’s sitting in my garage in Wisconsin relaxing as only Schwinns can do and awaiting my return.

I’m a Southern girl, born and bred, but I’ve lived in the North now, more years than I lived in the South. However, the minute I cross the Mason/Dixon line, my ‘ya’lls’ displace my ‘you guys’ and I start slanging twang better than Scarlett O’Hara.

I’m home. I walk into my parent’s house and am embraced by all that helped make me who I am. No matter how long I’ve been gone, I come back to find my fingerprints everywhere. It’s where I’ve always been loved unconditionally. It’s the place where my hopes and dreams where ingested into my blood stream along with butter beans and pot pie. My people are here; at least some of them are still with us. But, the aunts and uncles who have passed on are here too. Their pictures are hanging in the hallway and den. My Aunt Ozella’s watercolor still-life of orchids is hanging over my mother’s couch. My Aunt Sis’s clock is still not working but is still hanging on the entryway wall. My grandmother’s red chair sits at the foot of my parent’s bed where it has the last twenty years.

I’m home. People here fuss with me; yet, I know they’d die for me if they had to. They don’t let me get away with nothing, but let someone say something negative about me outside this family and talk about a Queen Bee on attack! My mother would make an over protective mother grizzly look like a weenie dog if she heard you say the jeans I have on right now make my cowgirl look fat.

Yep, I’m missing LuLu and our morning rides. But, I’ll be home soon… my other home. But for the rest of this week, I think I’ll just enjoy the God-made sauna called Memphis and the limitless glasses of sweet tea… and my mama.

Love ya’ll,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

three acres, four bedrooms and a barn

Okay. I can't help myself. I'm still basking in our weekend spent with the Cleveland/Truitt Clans. Forgive all the pictures. Anyone who has tried to plan a reunion of more than two people knows the logistic nightmare planning an event can be- especially if the folks whose schedules your trying to mesh are scattered among five states. But, we did it!

For three days, twenty-four people from ages two months to sixty-something co-habituated on three acres, four bedrooms and a barn. Josh Cleveland and Todd Truitt even treated us all to a concert they gave at the Harmony Cafe in Appleton on Saturday night. Other events and happenings: Bonfires, s'mores, canoe rides and paddle boat rides on the pond (even though the paddle wheel fell off in the middle of the pond at one point and we had to pull of a daring rescue of the Matt Clevelands with a canoe). A couple of tournaments of WCYC-style Washers, mini-hay rides with Papa's tractor, hours of jumping in the blow-up jumpy-house (no one over eight years old allowed); little girls playing dress up; little boys sword fighting. A basset hound and a bischon chasing each other's tail (which meant major poop-scooping duty); Lots of cooking and breaking of bread; Lots of plastic cups, soda pop and lemonade; Some of the big girls did some major shopping; A couple of doting grandmothers got to hug their grandkids or each other's grandkids any time we wanted, and a couple of Papas played with the same said grandkiddoes anytime a little one came and grabbed their hands and pulled them off their lawn chairs (which was often); And last but certainly not least, was the highly anticipated soccer match. You would have thought we were at the World Cup at the competitiveness demonstrated on our make-shift field, tiny goals and even tinier goal keepers.

There was also a lot of observing adult children being better parents than we were. Their tenderness and nurturing toward their young ones made me so very proud of them; Then there was a lot of laughter over silly games played way too late at night, such as Apple to Apples and Balderdash (Never will I forget Beuford and his BQ beach Bunnies- but, oh, how I wished I could!)

One of the highlights for me and Nana Truitt was sleeping down in the basement with four granddaughters. Judy and I still have it. Can to you believe we outlasted the little girls each night, and even talked until two a.m. our last night together like school girls. Of course we paid for it the next morning when we were forced to crawl out of our futon for breakfast.

But one of the most precious moments for me was Sunday morning as we all scurried around getting ready for church. All of our children were raised in church. When Judy and I were young mothers, there were many afternoons our children took their naps at the church building together if we had a bulletin board to create or a classroom to paint. We taught each other's children in Sunday school. Our traditions as friends began because of our faith. It has ripened over the years because of that same faith. By God's grace, certainly not our own doing, we were able to pass it along to our children, and now I see that my own sons and their wives, and Judy's children and their spouses have done the same. Church, worship, praise, prayer, and Sunday school is all a part of our fabric. The Sunday morning hunt for shoes, socks, Bibles, 'church toys', diaper bags, and pacifiers, all while downing a bowl of Cheerios, is now a tradition for a third generation. My heart overflowed as I watched the beautiful chaos around my kitchen island.

I don't know when the Truitts and Clevelands will do this again, who knows, maybe not until we meet at the Pearly Gates (who's bringing Balderdash?) But whenever and wherever the reunion will be, I have no doubt that it will take place on holy ground.

Thanks for allowing me to share. I love you guys,