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Monday, October 31, 2011

Being Lutheran

Yesterday was Reformation Day at my church.  It's always a big celebration day in the Lutheran church because it's when we remember that Martin Luther hung the grievences on the Catholic church doors back then - and he got in big trouble for doing it!  But, the grievences let the commoner know what was going on within the church hierarchy and how misguided the leaders had gotten.  It also turned the world upside down by stating people didn't have to earn their way to heaven  - or give to the church for entry in - to church, or heaven. 

Martin Luther didn't plan on starting a new Christian church.  He was a Catholic monk and proud of it. 
But, his followers ended up honoring him by naming themselves after him. 

So, that's a bit of the history of it.   Reformation Day is a Lutheran Sunday each year, the last Sunday in October.  It's become a day to be proud of who we are, to sing "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and to celebrate how far Martin Luther's beliefs have come.

Personally, it's a day I love - because  it's a day that reminds me of many things.  It's a day that says who I am.  I grew up in the Lutheran Church.  I'm the daughter and granddaughter of Lutheran pastors.  My one grandmother was the church organist; my other grandmother was her church's choir director. I was baptised, confirmed, and married by my Lutheran pastor, my dad!   So, it's pretty safe to say I will be Lutheran til the day I die - and then I'll join all those others who have gone before me.

I was telling some friends yesterday that I remember when I was a kid and living in Cleveland that on Reformation Day afternoon we would go to the huge downtown convention center for a big celebratory  service with all Lutherans from northern Ohio.  We filled the place!  All the church choirs joined in to become one big choir - and the music was awesome - all the tradition Lutheran hymns were sung. Even as a youngster I knew it was a special event.

Oh!   I just used that word:  TRADITION!  As I have gotten older I find I love certain traditions that keep me connected with my memories.  I love hearing familiar uplifting music and liturgy I know.  It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.   I try and keep an open mind and except the new ideas with it.  Really, I do.  And some of the "new" is really nice.   Some of the "new"  (I won't say which ones exactly, but let's just say I'm not going to a movie theatre to worship) just doesn't do it for me.  But, that's fair.  I know some of my traditions don't do it for others.  

But, there's no doubt that Reformation Day is a day of tradition.  My ancestors came from Germany, the land of Martin Luther.  It's my heritage - it's in my blood.  Again, it's who I am!  

PS:  I have always said "I'm a German Lutheran and there's no changing it."   I use that line sometimes as an excuse, or to make light of why I sometimes do what I do.  Yes, Germans are stubborn people by nature.  Serious, and hard working.  And they are very proud people. 

Yesterday was a wonderful day for remembering.



 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daughters

This post is for all my friends who have daughters - and for MY daughters.

There has been much written throughout time about the bond between a mother and her daughters; poems have been written and mushy cards are out there. There are some great songs about daughters too.  I burned some country ones on a CD for each of my girls recently.

 So, what I'm going to say here is nothing new - but it's personal.  My story. 

I recently became a true "empty nester."  College days are over and both of my daughters have their own apartments and separate lives away from here.

I am blessed with these two amazing daughters.  I don't know "how" it happened that I got the ones I got. (I'm not talking about conception! ha)  I'm sure hubby will take credit for their personalities and intelligence. Oh, I guess his genes played into it some...but I like to think they are a good mix of the two of us. Somehow they got our good attributes. 

You know, when you are raising kids you just never really know how they are going to turn out.  I certainly had those moments.  I had times where I tried to steer them towards something, and away from other things.  But, sometimes parents with the best of intentions and parenting skills have a child go "astray" anyway.  Thank you God: I didn't.  Maybe I should count my blessings that hubby and I only had two, because perhaps the third child would have been the black sheep.  Ha!

I was fortunate to have two girls. I felt from the beginning that I could relate to them.  I knew I could understand their ups and downs of being female.  Hubby was working many hours while the girls were growing up so I was pleased to have children I could relate with.  I remembered the angst of school cliches when I grew up, and bad hair days, and body changes, and the list goes on and on. 

Hubby used to say during some of those times "you have a 24/7 job now but one day it will be done."  And now it is. Okay, okay - I know a parent is ALWAYS a parent and always there to offer advice (but only when it's asked for).  That's why I'm so glad I have my daughters.  Nothing against sons. But I think sons go off on their own even more then daughters.  They make their way in the world and become independant.  

I remember my mother so fondly.  Not the last third of her life when she was sick and disabled.  But I remember her when she was youthful, and beautiful, with her big smile, and I remember her being there for me whenever I needed her.  I was her spoiled baby.  The youngest of three.  It's a mother - daughter bond I will carry with me all my life.  And now, I have that same connection with my girls. 

You know, there are days when I stop and think "I'm how old now???"  How can that be!!!!  I went from being a daughter, to a young mother, and now a mother who's daughters are raised.    I really can't believe it!   

But it's all good.  Daughters are the best!  MY daughters are such a joy in my life!  

(I can hear them now, reading this, perhaps rolling their eyes, saying "oh mom"....   but it's music to my ears!) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Favorite month? October perhaps

I am sitting here thinking about how gorgeous the weather has been the past few days and weeks.  Each morning has had a bit of a chill in the air, and by noon I'm opening up my windows to enjoy the fresh air in the house.  October is a month with really perfect weather.  The humidity is down and the days are still warm.  And because if it, the flowers are still blooming and the birds are still singing (although they may have already started their migration farther south.) 

October in South Carolina may just be one of my favorite months! 

Just saying (or typing) this is a big deal for me.  Really.  I used to have a very hard time appreciating this time of year.

I still don't like that I have to give up my shorts and flip-flops, and have to pull on tight jeans and squish my toes into closed shoes. It seems my body "relaxes" over the warm months and spreads a bit... and it fights going into tighter fitting clothes.  Did I gain weight or just get used to the loose fit of summer clothes?!

I still don't like the end of the floral growing season.  The beauty of my garden goes into hibernation for awhile.  There's not much to look at outside during the colder months, except a few winter pansies, or some decorative kale. 

And the holidays...what can I say?  I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Yes, I'm admitting it.  I love the family time, and I love taking time at Thanksgiving to thank God for all we have.  But, I head to the cold for a few days and it hits me like a mean slap in the face.  And, as for Christmas (a topic for at least another blog or two or three or more) has SO many awesome things about it...there's a long list.  Again, family, and celebrating Christ's birth.  Hello?  Remember THAT part of Christmas???     But, it also brings too much stress to me and people in general.  Deadlines, lots of shopping, cards, etc.

So, yes, October is a wonderful month!  The weather is lovely - and of course, there's football.  That's it.

Simple.  Lovely.

Mmmmmm.....    October.   : )

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Volunteering

I just read in this morning's newpaper about Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorthea opening a "pay only if you can" restaurant in New Jersey for low income families.  Patrons are served quality meals and envelopes are left on the table for money to be put in to pay for the meals only if the patrons can afford to pay.  There are no prices on the menu so people pay what they can afford.  Sometimes they can't pay anything, and that's okay.

Jon & Dorothea recognize the need for people, especially families, to enjoy a dinner out together.  Sometimes it may be there only real meal and sometimes it may be the only way a family can afford to go out together with little funds available.

BUT...  the restaurant has a second part to it. Patrons are strongly encouraged to "pay back" with volunteerism!  Jon, Dorothea and their charity (the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation) realize that many of those who can not find employment, and therefore need a good free meal sometimes, have able bodies and time to give back.  The restaurant serves as a clearinghouse for community projects in need of volunteers.   I think this is just AWESOME!!

I must admit that I sometimes look at the unemployed and wish they would "get off their lazy butts."  God forgive me.  I know it's a terrible stereotype and I am ashamed for feeling that way.  I think to myself "they suck off the system" - they make the employed pay for them through unemployment checks and food stamps.  In reality I know every single person unemployed has a reason, a story behind why they can't work or can't find work.  They might have physical limitations, or housing and transportation troubles, children to take care of, or countless other legitament reasons for not working.  Often pride plays a part in it too.

But, that's why I think the Bon Jovis have a wonderful model to follow.  They help those in need BUT they also encourage a way to contribute to the community. To give back! And, by giving back the volunteering person can gain confidence, perhaps some new skills, meet people, and also help others.  It's a win-win!

I have long thought that too many people look at volunteerism as something to do "oh, if I have the time"...or "if it serves me too."    That mindset needs to change.  Our Gospel lesson this coming Sunday includes the commandment "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU."    Just think how wonderful our country could be if we all could live by this golden rule?   Even President Kennedy said "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"    

So, kudos to Jon and Dorthea Bon Jovi for their "pay if you can" restaurant and volunteer program.   I hope other people follow the same concept in communities around the country.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween

I know I will upset some people with this post.  It's about Halloween, specifically Halloween costumes.  It's about what I think is acceptable and what I don't like. It's my blog, so it's my opinion.  Read on if you dare.

I LOVE to see children dressed in costumes! I remember as a kid having a special suitcase of my mother's old clothes (from when she was a teenager & young adult) and using the outfits to play "dress up" all the time, and using a few of the dresses in it for Halloween.  There was a *perfect* black dress that I think she wore to a college dance with my Dad once.  Somewhere there is a picture of her wearing it.  That dress made the basis of some great costumes.  I think both my sister and I used it to be a gypsy.  We added a bandana, lots of bangles and big earrings.   I don't ever remember spending money to buy a costume, but perhaps when we were really little we were allowed to pick out one from the store.  Remember?  They came in boxes with a piece of cheap cellaphane on top to look in and see the outfit.  It was usually a one-piece costume with a mask.

Growing up I do not ever remember dressing as a witch, or a scary goblin, or a creepy mummy.  Nothing with blood and gore on it. 

Halloween was a time to dress up as cowboys, or princesses, or doctors...  to pretend you were a grown-up! 

So, yes, it bothers me when I see young children wearing goulish costumes.  And, yes, I do know that Halloween started as a time for people to dress up to scare away evil spirits, or to keep bad ghosts from coming around before All Saints Day.   That's the history of it.

But now we live in a world where everything is so real looking - blood dripping, hatchets in heads, eyes popping out.  Children see it early and they think it's funny.   I don't.   I want children to dress up in something that looks cute, and that makes them and me smile.   Daughters 1 and 2 had some great costumes! I was looking at pictures of them just the other day (a very nostalgic moment for me.)  Some of them: a scarecrow, a cheerleader, Minnie Mouse, an angel, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, oh - one was a conehead one year!  No blood - no creepiness.   

Unfortunately, I don't get many trick-or-treaters where I live now, but if the doorbell rings this Halloween I hope I see some children dressed as a fairy or a fireman or a pilot. (No terrorists please.)    They will get lots of candy from me!!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Seasons

There's a chill in the morning air now.  It always happens this time of year.  I went out to get the newspaper at the end of the driveway a few minutes ago and had to grab a sweatshirt on my way out the door.

But by this afternoon it will be close to 80 degrees and beautiful.   It really is a lovely, lovely time of year!  Up north the leaves are turning amazing colors and it's an artist and photographer's perfect background.  I remember the gorgeous colors of the trees behind our house where we lived in Sparta, NJ.   Absolutely beautiful! No denying it!  Really, really beautiful!

Somewhere along the way, through the years, I discovered that after this awesome shock of reds, yellows, and oranges come the (long) months of grey.  Grey trees, grey skies, and grey snow (especially after it's been on the ground a few days. Actually, it turns black from car exhaust.  ugh!)  Is God teasing us?  Or, is He teaching us to take the vibrant with the blah?  To enjoy the beauty while you can and to cherish the special moments?   To know that everything changes?  

I have to remind myself about the CHANGE of seasons and the "Master's plan."  I tend to become abit of a Debbie Downer when the chill sets in, and the winter months quickly approach.   I am one of those people who thinks summer is never long enough.  

I have gotten better at handling the seasons since moving south.  The winters are not as long and not as extreme.  Spring and it's rebirth comes much earlier here than back in Jersey.   I can just throw on my sweaters and blazers during winter and never need a heavy coat.  No boots (unless it's a fashion statement.) And, the same with scarves. Pretty to wear but rarely needed for warmth.

Now, I know, there are people who love the cold and love the look of snow falling.  They like to "bundle up" and play outdoors in the winter months.  More power to 'em!   Go for it!  Ski and sled all you want!  I hear them talk and know they mean it, but I just don't feel the same - down deep in my core. 

So, for me, I am making a point to relish these October days and to still feel the afternoon warmth.  Aaaa! It really is lovely!   I know the seasons will change. 

And, I know it won't be long til spring will arrive again. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The word "occupy" vs. "camping"

Lately in the news we are seeing groups of people gathering & camping out to make a statement on their disgust with our government and with Wall Street.  It started in NYC and has spread to other major (and now some minor) cities.  The protestors seem to have a varied agenda and therefore it seems to be confusing to us watching it on TV.  Best I can tell it's mostly a bunch of disgruntled citizens thinking this is a way to get some media exposure.  I'm hearing that they are OCCUPY-ers.  They are in the parks and streets to occupy that space to make a statement. 

It's a flashback to the 60's for those who remember that far back.  But, then it was a "sit in".   College students took over outdoor space, or doorways into administration buildings and the such, and sat down to protest the Vietnam war.  They sat - for a specific cause.  It was also called a "peace rally."

I'm wondering why the media decided to use the word "occupy" this time.  Why not "campers" or "park protesters" or "street citizens"?    Am I the only one who immediately thought about WW II and the German occupation?    I know they are occupying space - in the park, on the street. I get that. But, it seems to me a reactionary word and something better should be used.

I applaud those who feel strongly about their issue, whatever it may be, to go camp out for days. I could NEVER do it.  (I didn't like camping as a child. I prefer hotels as a grown-up! Sleeping out in the elements in a tent?  Noooo, thank you!)    

But, I wonder how long the people will "occupy" the space?  How long til they get tired?  How long will it be in the news?   The media will get bored with the story soon and move on - unless something bad or different happens in the park or street...    and I hope people don't resort to that kind of action to stay in the news. 

Free speech and the right to peacefully assemble is a freedom here.   So, more power to them!  Whoever they are ! Whatever makes them upset! 

I'm wondering....   can we call them "disgruntled campers" or something else tho? 

What do you think? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

"This is Country Music"

Brad Paisley has a song called "This is Country Music" that describes how country music words don't hold anything back.  Paisley's song acknowledges that country music lyrics deal with everything from cancer, to "telling your boss to shove it", to the loss of a brother, to patriotism, and of course love (when it's good AND when it's gone bad.) 

It's true.  Some people make fun of this fact -  that in country nothing is NOT okay to sing about. Some people think it's goofy and hokey.  I understand.  For years I didn't give country music a chance. For many years I lived in parts of the country where it was hard to hear it performed live, or to find a country music station on the radio.

We all go through life stages.  Since I moved south I "discovered" country music.  I heard a Tim McGraw song one day that I liked and decided to buy his album to give it a listen ( it was really a CD, and that's a topic for another blog - I miss album covers!!).  Then I picked up a few more - and then I found a couple of country music radio stations, and set my car radio to them.  

For those who don't know my background, I worked in radio, including rock radio, for some years, took piano as a kid and I have played flute all my life. I appreciate ALL types of music. Really I do!  In fact, I think music truly makes the world go round! I know just enough about reading music and performing it to know just how talented some musicians are. I'm in awe of them!

Thinking back, I went with a girlfriend my senior year in high school to a "fiddle convention" in Baltimore and absolutely loved it.  And, even during my rock & roll days I preferred the California sound at the time of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, etc.   I asked my best friend Sue to sing  "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg at my wedding.

There's nothing truer than a singer and his guitar.  Basic and sincere.

So, looking back, I've always been on the border of what I consider country music. I have always liked songs where I could  love the music AND understand the lyrics.  The words meant something.  I also like music where I hear the musician's TALENT on his or her instrument.  I like music that is not fabricated in a recording studio.  Country music has that too.  

So, yes - I proudly say I'm a HUGE country music fan! 

Country music can make you feel great and get you up and dance, but it can also bring you to tears.  

As Brad Paisley also sings about in the song, there is connection country music listeners have.  It's not for just one artist - it's for the genre.  Fans understand the same feeling, and respect each other.

Have I made you want to listen a little?  

Paisley's song:   "So....   turn it on! Turn it up!   This is COUNTRY MUSIC!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Getting older

Today is hubby's birthday.  He still keeps it together pretty darn well...considering, he's getting older!

Remember how we would say "I'm not going to talk about my aches and pains when I get old like my parents do?"   HA!!!  Hubby and I are at that age now where the temptation is to start a conversation with news of our digestive system or how the bum knee is aching, or just wishing we could lose that extra 10 pounds (we say that every day!) 

We both had blood taken recently and just yesterday we compared our results.  Hmmm.  My cholestral is a bit higher than his. Glucose is ok. But we are borderline on some other levels.  Oh my!   I never concerned myself with any of this before.  Oh, and did I tell you I have osteoporosis?  What!!!  

This getting older thing is not fun. But, like the saying: "it's better than the alternative."   A weird saying really.  As a Christian "the alternative" is everlasting life... with NO pain. In fact:  NO body!
Think about that.  What will we talk about in heaven?? 

I digress...

I can't promise I'll never blog again about getting older and the physical issues that come with it. I'll try not to.  

So, let me just get it out now:  I need to get my hair colored, I need to watch my fat intake, I need to exercise (cardio and weight-bearing) every day.  I need to slather on the lotion. I need to stay out of the sun (never happen), and I need to RELAX.  Stress is the number one reason we show our age. 

oh my!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

birthdays

Tomorrow is my hubby's birthday.  If I do the calculations right I have known him over half his life now. And, we've have been married almost all of those years - we dated & married rather quickly.  No need to say we have celebrated a bunch of our birthdays together.

I don't know about you all, but after a while it gets hard to come up with something fun and different to make the celebration "unique" and enjoyable.  I remember one year we surprised him with a meatloaf birthday cake when he was on the Atkins diet, and we have gotten him various games to play. Big boys are still boys and they always like their games and toys! No matter the age!

 Tomorrow he will be in another state due to his business.  So, we will push back "his day" til Friday.  We plan to drive up to Charlotte and go see Toby Keith in concert.  Toby is one of hubby's favorite country singers.  I'm looking forward to it. Hubby and I have both gotten into country music the last couple of years - it's something we share together.

We are lucky that over the years we have had a couple of "similiar interests" or hobbies. I really think that's what keeps couples together.  For us, it's golf, and watching football, our pets, enjoying dining out, warm weather, and country music.   (Oh -and our daughters too.  That goes without saying! We plan on having a birthday lunch with them on Saturday.)

So, another birthday is almost here.  Another celebration!   Gift giving can sometimes be challenging.  But, I guess what's best is to remember that the REAL GIFT is having the person in your life! 

H A P P Y     B I R T H D A Y   ! ! !

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life can change in a second

It's October 1st and it's the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  So, I met a few of my church friends this morning and we joined with about 1200 others from the community and walked in an "Awareness Walk".

It was a gorgeous sunny Carolina morning - with a blue blue sky and slight breeze.  It was a wonderful "feel good" morning.  We were all together in a sea of pink t-shirts as we walked through Murrells Inlet and across the Marsh Walk.   Some of the women walking wore pink beads to symbolize the number of years as a breast cancer survivor.  In New Orleans during Mardi Gras, women collect bead necklaces by lifting their shirts to show off their breasts.  Today's beads represented HAVING had breast cancer - and survived. 

Today was a celebration for sure.  Some doctors were there, the survivors, and the families - and others, like me, in the community.   We all took a little time this morning to remember that this beautiful life we have can change in a second.  A medical test can turn a person's world upside down.

I'm thinking of a friend from church who had this happen just a few weeks ago.  Not breast cancer. But cancer... discovered in her uterus, her gall bladder, her liver, and colon.  She's already had surgery and she needs more.  She has already contracted an infection too.  Life can change in a second!  

I don't mean for this post to be a downer.  I pray my friend will make it through - and will feel everyone's love.  I have several others friends who have recently finished cancer treatments and it's amazing how joyful it is!  We just had a "finished chemo" party for one of them.  I haven't seen the new movie out now called "50 - 50" but it shows how laughter can help a person get through the news of cancer, and the treatments and side effects.  

Why this post?   To stop for a second, and remind myself and you: LIFE CAN CHANGE IN A SECOND!  

We must enjoy each day and each moment.  We must stop and smell those roses, and not sweat the small stuff, and "live like you were dying"!