Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Best Seller

As I was riding LuLu the other morning I was writing in my head.  I do that a lot. My next book is set during the Second World War. As a history buff, I love digging into the past and writing word pictures of a certain era. My goal is to bring the reader, sometimes gently sometimes not, into the story and make them feel like they are there walking along side my characters or sitting at the dinner table or in this case, living in the dorms in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1943.
Do I love to write? As Vinnie Barbarino once exclaimed, “It a bear Catholic? Does the Pope live in the woods?” In other words, Yes! I love mulling over words and constructing a sentence that pricks the heart, soothes the soul, or gives challenge. 
Of course there is one all-time best seller that remains the standard and always will. Its working title is The Holy Bible. Talk about sentences that prick, sooth or challenge. Consider the following:
“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for you.”
Or…“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
How’s this for a challenging sentence: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
And, we won’t find a better lead sentence than this one: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
And, finally, has there ever been a more hopeful sequence of words written than this:  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
Yep, I long to write a best seller, and maybe I will someday. But until then, I will keep struggling over just the right verbs and adjectives until I get it right. Riding LuLu helps. I’ve worked out many a sentence while in her saddle. So, I will keep pedaling and keep reading the best of the best to learn not only how to write better, but also how to live better. We can’t ask any more than that from a book, now can we?
Happy reading…

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A different view


Buying a pink bike at the age of sixty hasn’t been my only odd thing to do. Several years ago I jumped off the side of a mountain with a hang glider and a prayer. Granted, not one of my smartest moves. I felt reasonably safe though since the hang glider was hooked to a guide wire, a very long guide wire, which prevented me from getting too far off course never to be seen again.

Have you ever felt like life was passing you by?  That everyone was moving forward except you? Like your blood had dried in your veins?  That nobody cared?  Well, that's how I felt that hot summer day so long ago. We were on a family picnic in an area that hosted several ‘fun’ activities like a Nordic slide, a miniature racetrack, and putter golf. As our three children wrestled around my husband and me, jumping off picnic tables and spilling their drinks, I was just old enough to feel like I was becoming invisible; that I had no purpose; that beige was more colorful than me. Then, the shadow of a hang glider flew over me.

So, that very afternoon I found myself on the side of a mountain being strapped into a contraption made of aluminum and nylon.  Looking down at the specks that represented my family, I was just able to make out the apprehension and terror on their little faces.  That’s when it dawned on me:  I mattered to them. How could I have forgotten that?

The instructor told me to just run straight off the ramp and the glider would do the rest as long as I didn't lean too far left or right or hit the telephone poll that was planted in the ground right behind where my family stood. I gulped. As I started my wobbly run down that wooden ramp my life flashed before me, especially when the last step gave way to just air.

On the ground I felt a little silly. Thankfully, I landed just shy of the telephone poll, and practically into the laps of all my kids. Hopefully, not everyone has to jump off a mountain to be reminded they're loved and that their life isn't half bad. These day, all it takes is a three-mile bike ride on a gorgeous day. Still, a look from a different angle every once in a while can do wonders.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Gone Fishing. See you all next Tuesday.

Deb & LuLu

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tree Talk


When we moved out into the country my life has changed drastically.  I found myself enjoying riding our lawn mower more than driving our Saturn.  I watched the stars more than I watched television.  And, I began to talk to trees. Maybe that’s why I find it so easy to talk to LuLu, my pink bike now. When you start out talking to trees, it stands to reason that you’ll start chatting with your bike next.

It all started when we planted five pine trees on our land.  They were small, no more than a foot tall, displaced, and fighting for their little lives. I watered them, stroked their little needles and talked.
Goofy, huh? Probably.

Yet, I’m still doing it fourteen years later. Those trees are way taller than me now and cast a lovely shade in the late afternoon. But the habit stuck and with each new planting there I am watering and chatting away. These days talking to and coaxing new life gives me great comfort. With our country in such dire straits these days, I feel compelled to nurture every living thing around me from pine trees to aging parents, from grandkids to geraniums. Nurturing gives me hope.

By nurturing things around me, it reassures me that there is still goodness out there.  It helps me believe that all life is precious, that most people want to tell the truth, that most married couples are faithful to one another, and that baby pine trees matter.

I need to focus on all that is good. Laughter.  Friendship.  Family.  Love.  Faith.  And pine trees.

I want to take nothing for granted. Children. Grandchildren. Parents. Teachers. Preachers. Mentors.  Role Models. Heroes. And, pine trees.

I want to inhale life. Birds. Mums. Sun. Moon. Lakes. Rain. And, of course, pine trees.

It is so easy to get sucked into all the bad stuff being toss around like political rhetoric, slow economy, unemployment, and whatever else is trying to pulls us down. Don’t let it win. Drive out to the country. Take a walk in the forest. Sit by a pond. Hug a friend.  Hold a child. Kiss a parent.  And, most definitely, talk to a pine tree… or a pink bike for that matter.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

“A Child Rises Up”

Momma & me


“An excellent woman who can find?  For her worth is far above jewels...Her children rise up and bless her...” Proverbs 31

            Holding an old photograph of my mother, I see my own face smiling back at me.  Mom, what were you like back then?  What were your dreams and ambitions?  As a surly teenager, I probably thought that I was your only dream and that I fulfilled your only ambition. It’s a wonder that God even allows teenagers to live past the age of fourteen isn’t it?

Forgive me for that. Once I became a mother myself, it must have finally dawned on me that mothers are people too.  How about that.

            Mom, remember all those things you thought I wasn’t listening to?  Well, I was. They have made a difference in my life. You’ve helped me make choices even when you were hundreds of miles away. Through the years my defining question would be, “What would Mom do?” Once I figured that out, I’d proceed confident in my choices. You did good, Mom! I am a better person because you are my mother.

            Thanks for giving me life. Thank you for a childhood that can only be remembered with smiles. Thank you for the independence you taught me from crossing the street by myself to moving across country to a new state.

             You always trusted me, therefore, I became trustworthy.

            Thank you for loving me unconditionally. No matter what I threw at you, it was forgiven and retaliated only with love. And most of all, Mom, thank you for the steadfastness you’ve given my life. By raising me to know that God isn’t make-believe and that He too, loves me unconditionally you gave me a foundation that has held fast through many a storm.

            I’m proud to be your daughter.  I thank God for you and the precious gift called a ‘Mother’s love.’

            Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Someday, I hope to grow up to be just like you.

I love you,


Monday, May 7, 2012

Church Ladies

 Photo: Dana Carvey's Church Lady

I’m a church lady. No, not the kind of church lady that actor Dana Carvey use to portray on Saturday Night Live with the pinched expression, the finger pointing and the obvious delight in other’s misfortunes. But, I am a church lady all the same.  Here’s my definition:
A church lady is one who laughs easily and enjoys life, especially when she’s with other church ladies.
A church lady has a kitchen full of serving dishes and cake pans with her last name written underneath in Magic Marker. This is a must. With all the potlucks attended, cakes and casseroles baked for the sick, she wouldn’t have a dish left in her cupboards if she didn’t put her name on them. A side note: a church lady usually has a spoon or dish in her own cupboards that needs to be returned to someone.
A church lady knows what it’s like to sit on the floor in a Sunday school classroom full of five-year-olds who are all smushed around her. She knows the joy of little faces beaming in awe over a true story about a big fish, or a big boat, or an empty cross.
A church lady knows what it’s like to sit all day in a hospital surgical waiting room holding the hand of a friend whose loved one’s surgery is taking way too long.
A church lady knows her way around a bulletin board display; a clothing drive, a nursing home, and community volunteer efforts of all kinds.
A church lady usually lays her head down at night exhausted, her heart broken into pieces, and her nerves rubbed down to the nubs. Yet, she sleeps the slumber of one who knows the peace of a day well spent.
A church lady loves with abandon; Hugs with glee.; And, is the first to raise her hand.
Laugh at us. Scoff at us. But when you need us, I promise you we’ll be there.
Our world’s only hope of redemption just might one day be through the hands, hearts and prayers of church ladies.
It’s a tough gig, but someone’s got to do it. I’m proud to be counted among their number.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Vist

                                         PHOTO: The folks

LuLu is tucked away in the garage and Gary and I are on the road and on our way to the Parent Pass-Off. My folks live in Memphis. We live in Wisconsin. We’re meeting my brother, who has my parents, half way to do the Parent Pass-Off. My folks will be with us a month.
This visit almost didn’t happen. We were suppose to meet them on Monday, but at about 4 a.m. on Monday we got a call that dad was rushed to the hospital. A virus was wreaking havoc with his innards it seems. But Tuesday night he came home from the hospital perky and ready for the trip. So today’s the day.
I’m excited. On the inside, I’m still a little girl wanting to be with her mommy and daddy. I’m one of the fortunate who still has her parents. At age 61, that’s pretty special, I think. Use to when my folks would visit, mom would roll up her sleeves and clean my oven (I’d save it for her) and cook special meals for us, especially for Gary. I wasn’t quite the southern cook my mother was, so when she’d visit Gary got his fill of corn bread and beans and other southern staples like real fried chicken and real gravy. And for me, she’d make her famous lemon meringue pie and let me lick the pan. What a treat.
She still cooks some on her visits, but at age 85 I don’t think I’ll have her cleaning my oven. It’s a self-cleaning one these days anyway. I’m content just to have her with me, to bask in the fact that she and my dad are two of the very few who love me unconditionally, who long to just be near me just because I’m their baby girl.
Parents are special. But as they age, they become more so. The roles change somewhat, but they’re still my momma and pops. Mom will fuss about my weight and dad, even in his Alzheimer haze, will try to take care of me by turning off the lights every time I leave a room.
I am blessed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why bother?

Photo: Solomon's Temple


The wind has been blowing so hard out in the country here that I haven’t been able to ride LuLu for a couple of days. So, Rusty, the stationary bike and I have spent some time together. No offense to Rusty, but he’s quite the boring ride, let me tell you. As I’m pedaling to beat the band and going nowhere, I was so tempted to quit. I started having doubts about the effectiveness of what I’m doing with this weight-loss-getting-healthy kick I’m on. Here I am an adult riding a pretend bike and for what?
I’m pedaling. I’m grumbling. I’m waffling. And then it hits me… “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:19-20   
Ancient words ever true. I had forgotten… again … that I am a walking, talking temple. That in me, lives the Spirit of our most Holy God. For hundreds and hundreds of years the Middle East has been in turmoil fighting over some dusty ground in Jerusalem where the Temple of God once stood. They bicker and fire weapons and act all indignant like children fighting over a favorite toy—unaware that God changed residences a long time ago. He lives in us now. We are the Holy of Holies. His people. His children. His Created.
This body, my body matters. In word and in deed. In sickness and in health. I must watch what comes out of my mouth and how I treat others. I must tend the Temple. Keep it working well. Keep it clean. Keep it healthy.
It gets tougher the older this Temple gets. Like any ‘container’ wear and tear takes its toll. But, I’ve been entrusted with something precious and the expectation is that I will do the best I can.
So… I pedal. I make healthy food choices. I also make other choices on behalf of the Temple that involve prayer, benevolence, compassion, kindness, strength and witness. All of it is hard… but all of it matters.
So… I pedal.