Monthly Archives: November 2016

“Love, Bambi”

I was writing a card to a friend this afternoon when I got to thinking about some of my favorite notes. 

My all time favorite thank you note was from our niece. She was very young when she wrote to thank us for a birthday check. “Dear Uncle John and Aunt Jill, Thank you for the money. I really needed it! Love, (our niece)”. I called my sister and kidded her – are you not feeding this kid and she needs cash? But, to be honest, it was a perfect note. It said thank you, it was specific and it was personal. The kiddo was saving up to buy something and our check helped her toward that goal. Adorable. 

I have two favorite postcards that I have received. The first one began this way, “Dear Jill, Let me get right to the point – I need cash. Don’t tell the parents.” The card went on to explain why and to give specifics on how much to send where to send it. Being a loving and, it happens cash rich at-that-time, friend, I doubled the amount and got the money into the mail. 

My other favorite postcard came from my older brother. I had just hit a huge deer with my not-so-huge pinto – the deer won. A postcard came from him about a week later. It read something like, “Dear Jill, Do you know where my mommy is? Love, Bambi” What a loving brother!!

One of the best things about postcards is that we like to imagine that everyone in the postal system reads ours. It was the postman who delivers mail to my parents who was the real target of my favorite postcard I have sent. The card read, “Dear Mom and Dad, I’ll be gone for a few days. Two sailors and a Marine and I are headed to New Orleans for the week in a van. Will call when I get back home. Love, Jill”. Mom said that the mailman smiled when he handed her the mail that day and she quickly explained that I was on an inspection trip on official business. Loved trying to scandalize my folks and the postman!

Why not take a moment and write a note? It can be short and sweet. It can ask for help. It can share a joke. But, it will be appreciated and maybe even treasured.

Go ahead, try it! A silly note might be just the thing to start thawing that ice burg.

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

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Check those comm lines! 

They were working just a few minutes ago. And, these are the “good” ear buds – the ones that came with my new smart phone. 

I discovered the problem while trying to call John. I called him, never heard his phone ring nor him answer and then the call was terminated. And, so, I called him back – same problem. My conclusion – he was having a phone problem. So, I dialed his number again. (Yes, I do know the definition of insanity!) This time, while I was waiting for him to say something, I got an incoming call notice – he was trying to call me. What??

But, the ear buds had been working when I made those other calls few minutes ago and they were working when I was watching “Blue Bloods” on Netflix. And, these are “good” ear buds, not the cheap ones that come three to a package!  Guess what? None of that matters – they aren’t working now.

The communication problem was mine. And, it really didn’t matter how hard I was trying, how important the message was, or the price of the equipment – I was neither sending nor receiving. 

As we strive to “gather together” with family, friends and colleagues, we have to remember to keep the communication lines working at our end!!

Just a thought from someone who has those “good” earbuds still dangling around her neck. 

Love, 

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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A  man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:5)

Work


Our church youth group is starting a fund-raising effort to support their mission trip scheduled for this next summer. One of their strategies is to have the kids do work for people in return for a donation to their fund. I love this “rent-a-kid” kind of fund raising. (And, John and I already have a project on their “to schedule” list.) Compare working for pay against begging and I’ll always go with the work program. You know what I mean, I like car washes and bake sales and I’ll even accept the various sales programs over the too frequent mailed or in-person request for funds. 

As a kid, I found all kinds of ways to earn money. Before going to work at the local Western Auto, I was a champion babysitter. Although the acceptable wage then was 50 cents an hour, I made a pile of cash. Babysitting taught me to seek sales. By the first of December, my best customers had already filled my calendar for the holidays. In fact, around the first of November I would ask my favorite family if they needed someone for New Year’s Eve. I wanted that night booked early with the nicest and best paying couple possible. 

One summer I got a gig “nannying” an 18-month old. I would arrive at the couple’s apartment at 7:00am, do the dishes and make the beds, take care of the baby throughout the day and make lunch for the lady and me to eat on her break. I was amazed as to how much I had learned from my mom that made that job easy and a great money maker!

In addition to babysitting, my sisters and I were sometimes hired to clean houses. I will never forget the lady who had a chandelier in the foyer that could be lowered electronically for cleaning, but she had us clean the floor beneath it with old wash cloths. Some know that I have always had a special appreciation for those who clean public buildings. You see, my sister was our church janitor and when I helped her, I earned 50 cents or a dollar. We learned a lot about churches and those who worked at and attended ours. For instance, we knew who hid candy wrappers in the pew racks and who wrote notes in their bulletins, who never cleaned the coffee pot and who spent time at the church in prayer.

(The scary thing about working off hours in a public building is that noises can drive you a little crazy. A traveling preacher (known as an evangelist) stopped by to visit our pastor once while we were cleaning. We were the only ones in the church. The sanctuary was quiet and dark as we worked and we did not hear him enter the room. Suddenly his booming bass voice asked in a very stern way where pastor so-and-so was. We girls jumped and screamed. He apologized to us and left. Later, when we compared notes, we found that we both had thought that he was the devil. You can be sure that we never told him or our pastor and we kept a close eye on that door after that!)

Back to thinking about work!  

The funny thing is that I did not need to make money. I was blessed with parents who fed us and clothed us and paid for school and activity expenses. Now, they examined any “special requests” pretty closely – not everything was approved. But, I don’t remember them ever turning me down for something important. On the other hand, we knew not to ask for anything too outlandish. 

So why did I clean houses and babysit and work at Western Auto? Simple – independence and pride. I liked being able buy something if I wanted it and I was proud that I had earned my own money. I really liked seeing the numbers in my bank account grow with birthday money and money I had earned. My folks helped that along by sometimes stepping in and paying for things that I thought I would have to pay for myself. They encouraged and mentored and supported me. But, the lessons my parents taught were really not about money; they taught me about work and independence. 

As you think about holiday giving, don’t do too much. Praise independence. Don’t rob others of their pride. Instead, give of yourself. Be generous with your time and your wisdom. (Just remember that a little can go a long way!)

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

Cocoa

Today I bought materials to make 912 cups of hot chocolate and I am praying that I will need to buy more before too long.  I’ll explain that at another time.

Hot chocolate signifies winter to me.  It is a perfect drink – warm, chocolate, and (if you buy the kind that we keep at home) not too pricey in the calorie count.  I am not a huge fan of marshmallows in my hot chocolate mug, but I won’t turn them away either.

A friend of mind once shared with me that her favorite moment in our home was when I pointed out the steaming tea kettle on the stove and the packages of hot chocolate mix.  I told our guests to make a cup if they so desired.  She explains that it felt so “comfortable, so homey” to go into our kitchen and to mix up a cup of hot chocolate.  I like that.  I think that it is impossible to drink hot chocolate and feel uncomfortable.

When I was teaching high school, hot chocolate in the winter was a staple for me.  I would scrape off enough of the ice on the windshield to allow me to drive safely to a nearby convenience store.  I would park the car, bump up the defroster fan, lock the doors, and head into the store to get a large cup of cocoa.  After a few minutes, the car windows would be clear of ice and I would be warm inside.  The cup of hot chocolate and I would make the 30-minute drive in a warm and quiet car – the perfect way to prepare for a busy day with hundreds of teenagers!

But, my love of cocoa started much earlier than my teaching years.  I was probably 5 or 6 when my two older siblings discovered my love for the beverage.  I really, really liked it and they really, really liked money.  A plot was hatched – none of us really know how long the scheme lasted before the folks put an end to it.  But, my dear, protective, loving sister and brother explained to me that the beverage they were serving me was hot chocolate and that I could have a cup for a mere nickel – only five cents!  I made the purchase and loved the beverage.  The fact that it was not hot chocolate, but only hot water from the bathroom sink, did not seem to register with me.  Instead, I enjoyed their version of “cocoa” and they liked the nickels.  It was unfortunate for us both when the parents put an end to the transactions.

Hot chocolate from a packaged mix, from an expensive machine at the coffee shop, or even from the bathroom sink can bring joy.  Hot chocolate makes us warm when we are cold.  It forces us to slow down when we may be rushing around too much.  And, it brings us memories of home, of loved ones, of quieter moments. 

Don’t push too hard this holiday season to make the tree perfect or the present the “best one ever.”  Don’t get excited when that string of lights in the middle of the tree keep flashing off and on.  Instead, get yourself a cup of hot chocolate and relax. 

And, if your pantry doesn’t hold the ingredients and the fancy coffee shop is too far away, just try hot water from the bathroom sink.  It’s not bad and, better yet, it will make you smile.

Christmas joy comes from simple things. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35)

Keep searching for the treasure

John and I just got back from our 26th anniversary/Thanksgiving get-a-way. I didn’t realize how hard we have both been working. We needed the break. 

Early the morning of day two of four, we lost a key. One moment we had it and the next moment we didn’t. We retraced steps, checked multiple times with the front desk, rummaged through their lost and found, searched our room, our bags and our vehicle. It was frustrating – we don’t usually lose things. 

But, John recommended that we just forget it while we enjoyed our holiday together. I was impressed that once he said to forget it that he forgot it. It doesn’t surprise me that he follows through when he says he is going to do something; it is just tough for me to do the same. (Those who know me well realize that I am just “a tad” obsessive at times!)

Anyway, forget it we did. 

So, today we were packing to come home and the search began anew. We checked everything and everywhere over and over. I searched both waste cans – no luck. After peering into every corner and drawer and looking behind drapes and furniture I noticed that we had an extra plastic bag. One more time I went to the waste cans and this time I “took apart completely” the trash can we had used for food items – banana skins, grape stems and the like. As I pulled apart bruised and soggy banana peels, I found the key, right in the middle of that nasty mess. 

We celebrated. I even danced a little. It was wonderful!!

What is so funny about this is that I had been a little irritated with the lack of hotel service. We often stay in hotels during holidays and I am used to limited service. But, this place went a little far. Our trash had not been emptied for 3 days. If we had gotten the service that I was expecting, the key would have been thrown out and gone forever. 

In Luke. chapter 15, Jesus tells three stories (parables) about lost things and people. One is about a lady and a coin. 

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

I learned some things searching for that key.

  • You will find what you are looking for when the time is right. Don’t stop looking but don’t stop living either. 
  • Sometimes the very things that are “wrong” around us get us into the right position to find what we have lost. 
  • It may be that we have to go through trash more than once to find the treasure we seek. 

As we purpose to “gather together” this holiday season, let’s not get tired of searching for the treasure that can only be found in family, friends or faith. 

Keep seeking, my Friend. 

Love, 

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

The harvest 


Yep, we adhered to the advice from a friend to “gobble until you wobble!” We have eaten from the bountiful buffet harvest. (We are out of town for a little get-a-way and a hotel Thanksgiving was a first for us. Always fun to try something new!)

I’ve been thinking about the “harvest” a lot. Unfortunately, my weight watcher’s weigh-in next week will measure the impact of our “harvest” at the buffet table today. But, many of the things that I do don’t seem to produce many results. 

Some of that makes sense. Because I am using large needles and thick yarn, progress in my knitting project is easily noticed. But, the physical therapy I am doing yields minuscule changes that are impossible to see from day to day. Those positive changes, big or small, are great but they are not the harvests that I really long for. 

Since retiring after more than 30 years of civil service, God’s path for me has involved a lot of seed planting – in relationships, in new assignments, in personal growth and in long term endeavors. It’s important and satisfying work and I love it. But, I long to see a harvest in certain fields that seem dry and hard, that have been without fruit too long. 

A few of you know exactly what I mean. You have worked so long and hard on that relationship, in that ministry, on that project. You desire to see the fruit that only God can produce. I join you in that longing. 

But, Friend, the scripture tasks us to go and to teach and to do; but, God does not promise that we will see the resulting harvest.  

So, we must leave that to God. We should, instead, turn our focus to our faith rather than on His harvest. The scripture says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Romans 11:1). Our faith assures us that when we plant the seeds God has given us in the time and manner that He directs, that there will be a harvest. 

Keep planting and keep trusting, Friends, the harvest is coming. His promises are true: 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

 

Foot in mouth disease

Here are some great comments I’ve heard over the past couple of days:

“He’s a big load of laundry.”

“You put your hook into the wrong whale.”

“That’s a 100% beef with pancakes on the side.”

“He went all river dance on that kick.”

And, last but not least, “I owe everything to my parents, especially my mom and dad.”

Ever say anything really dumb? Ever started talking and realized that you were making no sense whatsoever? If not; the world is still in balance because I’ve done it enough to make up for your deficiency in being deficient! 

Recently, I said something really stupid. 

I am back in physical therapy (PT) to strengthen my left knee. (I had a total knee replacement done on the right this summer.) PT involves many different activities and exercises done for a set number of repetitions or for a specific amount of time. We count to 15 a lot!!

Small timers are ringing all day in a PT clinic as individuals finish their assigned actions. That bell is a wonderful sound!

One of the actions I do is a prolonged stretch. I strap a 5 pound weight to each ankle, lay on my stomach on a treatment table and scoot down so that my legs, knee and below, are hanging off the table. At the moment, I do this for 8 minutes two times a day. It is not fun. 

One day my PT couldn’t find a timer and asked me if I would time myself by using my watch. I hadn’t worn one that day and replied, “It’s ok; I’ll time myself by the TV.” At that moment, everyone looked at me. I tried to explain that most TV shows have commercials every 7 minutes. But, to be honest, my words made no sense. My PT said nothing, smiled at me as If to acknowledge that I must insane and started a timer. 

I felt like one “big load of laundry.”

We’re going to make a fool of ourselves from time-to-time. Don’t worry if it happens tomorrow: you can blame your mess up on the amount of food you have eaten, the deliciousness of the food, or the fact that dinner is still 2 hours away!  

Just make sure that your crazy words are about your own life and not about someone else. Don’t burn any bridges!

Love,

Jill (just on of God’s kids)

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“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  (Proverbs 28:13)