The Power of Praying Aloud

Dear Reader:

Didn’t most of us grow up with at least one ” crazy” great-aunt who talked to herself? In my family it was Aunt Nora. If I was ever left alone with her for any amount of time ( which was rare) I would soon hear her busily bustling around the house doing chores ( while I played with Polly-my doll).

It was only a matter of time before I heard her talking. Initially I assumed someone else had come in and was too self-absorbed playing dolls to pick up on anything unusual. ( After all I was talking to my dolls too!)

When mother would pick me up she always asked if I had a good time and asked about Aunt Nora. I would nod ” yes” I did and mention that Aunt Nora talked to someone a lot when I was there but I never met her. Mother would just smile, knowingly, and hug me.

Then one day I went into Aunt Nora’s bedroom to ask if I could get a cookie. The door was shut but I could hear Aunt Nora talking. When I opened the door Aunt Nora looked startled and I asked her who she was talking to. ” God” she replied immediately.

Excitedly I walked farther into the room so I could finally meet God-but to my disappointment I saw no one. ” Where is He?”I asked Aunt Nora. Is He gone?”

” Oh no” … He’s right here… and pointed to her heart. As a small child… it all made sense to me and from that time on when mother asked what Aunt Nora was doing… (when she picked me up) …I promptly replied ” Talking to God.”

These days I find myself making oral lists as reminders to pick up items I need at certain locations. And yes, Aunt Nora was right… When I really need God’s advice I have discovered that praying aloud brings God’s Presence more fully into my being. The power of prayer is enhanced when spoken aloud.

So until tomorrow… When we hear our own prayers , in our own ears, as well as, our own hearts…our ” hidden wholeness” is revealed-and our prayers start defining ourselves, our futures, and dreams.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Love grasping my ” Holding Cross” when praying aloud

Eva Cate had her first tennis lesson Tuesday-was disappointed she couldn’t wear her new tennis skirt since it was pretty chilly-at 11 looking the part is just as important as ” performing.” 🤣 * Regardless she had a great start and loves her instructors.

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Once is Enough…

Dear Reader:

Have you ever contemplated what your response would be if you could repeat your life over-or perhaps just one particular stage… a chance to right the mistakes made along the way?

In one new daily insight journal ( Wisdom for the Way) a general observation was thrown out… citing that most parents would love to step into a time machine and would give anything to relive those years … correcting failures and mistakes committed the first time around with their children.

True confession time… I must not be ” most parents.” I have absolutely no desire to ” re-do” or relive rearing children years! Honestly that period of my life was so hard-it is still a blur-like we were all on the biggest and fastest roller coaster in existence…and we just held on for dear life!

That’s not to say…there weren’t beautiful moments and satisfying situations that I keep in my special treasure box (that can still bring tears to my eyes …even now.)

And that’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes … Oh I made plenty! It’s just that I did the best I could with what I had and now it seems nothing short of miraculous that we all survived it, even thrived in it and at the end three children got their college degrees and mom got her Masters.

God sent me the right people at the right time to keep us afloat and keep hope alive! I am glad that parenting only offers one round per child, one day at a time… never to be repeated. ( Instead if we are lucky we get grandchildren and therein lies another chance to mold and model another generation.)

So until tomorrow… ” Life is like a coin-you can spend it anyway you wish… but you can spend it only once.”

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

P. S. And actually watching adult ” children” keep learning and paying it forward-is the most satisfying gift of all for a parent! If one’s children are adults who give back to the world of their talents and treat others with kindness… you did something right!

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Simply Blessed

Dear Reader:

For the first time in awhile I have had several days in a row with no pressing appointments or deadlines … and it feels amazing … how simply freeing it all is!

Believe me… I know how blessed I am! With my recent few days …’ slow and easy’ … my thoughts have been allowed to wander into my past …making connections to my present everyday life. And what links to God’s love I have grasped through God’s grace!

For years, as a single mom teaching with three children… the budget was tight… sometimes to the point of almost asphyxiation… I couldn’t sleep at night worrying about what bills I could pay and which I could not, escalating credit debt, parent plus college loans, and wondering if I would ever be free of debt in my life time.

Ironically… do you know what saved me? Breast cancer! God works in mysterious ways!!!

You heard me… out of my darkest hour came the brightest light. Because my diagnosis was so bleak… both my oncologist and surgeon signed my social security disabilities application and wrote beautiful personal notes added to it. My Ya friend, Libby, helped me write my story and prepared me for the telephone interview.

( For two years I didn’t even know I qualified for disability benefits or once I did…the haunting specter that hung over the challenging journey of information required to complete it)

On a cold Saturday morning, about this time of year… I went to my mailbox and one lone thin, brownish envelope was sitting there… I glanced at the return address-it said Social Security… inside was a check-retroactive back over three years when I was first diagnosed … my knees buckled under me and I just bawled in gratitude!

With that check… my house mortgage excluded… I was able to pay off all my credit cards, overdue bills, and miscellaneous household expenditures. I have never felt God’s Presence more than I did that Saturday morning sitting on the floor staring at the financially life- saving miracle.

And it didn’t stop there… with full retirement benefits from the state, monthly social security disability benefits for the first time in my life … I was pulling in more money monthly than I ever did teaching … even with administrative duties my last three years. Go figure!

Of course, realistically, that is still ” small potatoes ” in comparison to other careers… but then having state health benefits has been the biggest Godsend of all! My medical bills alone would have sent me to the poor house in a few months…instead I only have to pay a fraction of all my medical costs to date! Today… having good health insurance is better than any treasure!

***I just heard a pop and sure enough one of my recessed ceiling lights just went out. It is really a pain to replace. Jeff has to bring his tallest stepladder to reach the outlet. Just getting that long ladder in and out the door is a challenge.

But come to think of it everyday we breathe and live… there is a challenge.

So until tomorrow…There is a popular metaphor about the way we have structured our lives. It tells of how we spend our whole life climbing up the ladder of supposed success, when we get to the top of the ladder, we realize it is leaning against the wrong wall …and there was nothing at the top anyway! We had it all the time!

Today is my favorite day… Winnie the Pooh

I am grateful for everyday I wake up… simply wake up ! * And if I get a glimpse of “Sammy” it makes my day! ( Libby gave me a replica of Sammy to look at daily…regardless.)

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Have You Seen the Muffin Man?

Dear Reader:

I think I had a much needed epiphany the other day… when I came across an old muffin pan I had saved from some of mother’s kitchen utensils. Mom used to make cornbread muffins in the tins to go with hot soups on cold wintry days! ( These are the times when I especially miss mom-such aromatic memories.)

Making identical muffins has often been used as a metaphor for standardization and regimentation. Speaking for myself… ( and I feel sure many of my teaching colleagues) being forced to cover the same information and materials at the same time each day instead of letting teachers use their own individualized teaching strengths and creativity takes much of the joy of teaching away.

If students came to us in ” Stepford Wives” packages-trained to do what only the teacher said without questioning the learning process-standardized teaching might work. But each child that shows up in our rooms are unique individuals, molded by unique family units, cultures, behaviors, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. One style does not fit all.

Good teachers intuitively understand, it is in the diversified make-up of their classes that therein lies their greatest teaching tool. Each student has the opportunity to widen their peers perspective on acceptance and tolerance.

In Madeleine L’ Engle’s book – A Wrinkle in Time…Meg learns (in her search for her missing father) that accepting differences in many strange characters who cross her path, is scary and uncomfortable at first but soon realizes that fearing others’ differences is symptomatic of facing her own differences.

It is only when confronted with “IT” ( the darkness) that Meg and her fellow travelers finally understand that it is unity of differences that make them intolerable to the evil force that conquers worlds by offering security at the high price of conformity!

So on days when I wonder how to keep democracy (in America) alive when our differences seem bigger than our unity and acceptance of all people being equal… I realize that the even greater threat is no longer being allowed to express our varying opinions but becoming a world community of conformity at the high price of lost diversity and respect/ acceptance for individualism.

Conformity becomes the expected behavior-( at the risk of severe punishment for individual thoughts and opinions) . Think about it… in today’s world… there are many more ” Stepford Wives” countries-(dictatorships) than free countries. Our ancestors fought too hard to let it slip away now.

So until tomorrow…“Our diversity is an expression of God’s creativity ” -Mark Batterson

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Eva Cate and Jake found them a snowman-by going to Florida-Hollywood Studios!

I have decided that hard morning frosts ( like we keep having lately) is just as pretty as snow …but without the clean-up and depressing messiness of dirty snow! Mother Nature takes care of it each afternoon in time for the next morning’s frost! .

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An Icy Adventure

Anne’s Icy Pink Beauty

Dear Reader:

Friday night I went to bed hoping to be able to see at least a few snow flurries during the night or early morning-but that was not to be… instead we had frozen rain and sleet mixture.

Before going to bed I turned on the front yard outside flood lights so I could see the snow flurries if they came down-they never did… BUT…the strangest ” chunk formations” did!

Every other minute or so ( instead of vertical “slick sleet” ) -Try saying that five times-a fat icicle-looking piece fell-it appeared either like two pieces of ice clunked together or they were simply Siamese Twin ice “missiles” attached together. I literally fell asleep counting them.

When I woke up it was about 2:30 in the morning and my car was covered in ice-then suddenly I saw a red light blinking on and off behind the front wind shield? What was that? Never seen a light inside …on my dash board???

I tried to go back to sleep but the ” What if?” monsters stopped me? What if it is the engine or something else dire that needed attention. My next thought was… Did I close all the doors tightly? I had been to the store and remembered closing the rear door with my ” rear” … did I bump it hard enough.

I decided that scenario seemed more likely -so I threw on my overcoat over my pj’s and pulled on my boots and headed out with car keys in hand. I re-opened every door and slammed it again and started the engine-it started right up… but still that irritating red light in the dashboard kept blinking. I gave up-locked the car and came in. Was my car trying out for the lead in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?

Still wide awake … I googled my make and model car and described the annoying red light blinker. As far back as 7 or 8 years ago Hyundai Tucson owners had experienced something similar to me. Apparently the red blinking light is a protective mechanism in preventing thefts, etc. If nothing is wrong it eventually stops and by later this morning it had.

Much ado about nothing EXCEPT a good night’s sleep-will never know what triggered it but glad my car is fine and good to go.

My annoyance disappeared by mid-morning as I walked around taking in the beauty of ice on cars and nature.

So until tomorrow… I want to share an interesting tidbit of information with you. I was watching J Schwanke’s weekly show on PBS-Life in Bloom. He had just discovered that patients in hospitals (who receive flowers from family and/ or friends) recover faster than patients whose rooms don’t have flowers… AND… a bouquet of yellow flowers speeds recovery even faster than other color flower bouquets.

Now I know… yellow flowers for sick friends and loved ones in hospitals!

Guess what my Christmas gift was from Anne-so blessed to have so many talented friends!

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

*** See y’all tomorrow! Stay warm! I am overdue for an afternoon nap after my icy adventure!

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Aging is a Gift… if You Trust Your ” Gut”

2022… How Happy I am to See You!

Dear Reader:

When I think back to 2008… it no longer makes me nervously push back scary memories of solemn doctors’ faces, a lot of head shaking and scary medical terms I thought I would never hear-malignancy, breast cancer and in-curable. Instead, today, I am filled with smiles of hindsight at the realization …Life Pt 2 was just about to commence… the best was yet to be… in spite of living with on-going metastatic breast cancer.

Out of the ashes of challenging diagnoses I was witnessing myself growing braver by the day. After all… what did I have to lose?

Fourteen years later… my faith grows stronger with each passing trip around the sun, my 5 grandchildren ( of whom I had none in 2008) are flourishing, I am in a constant happy hunt for new stories (my personal building blocks) and I get to share my daily ordinary life with all of you… and that is still unbelievably extraordinary!)

Hoda and Jenna had a life coach on their show yesterday. I only caught part of the interview but it made me stop and reflect on the challenges I just listed and how my dreams turned to reality when I answered one simple question-” What brought me joy?” Immediately I knew… reading, writing, and sharing stories of every genre imaginable including true inspirational stories, like finding St Jude’s Chapel of Hope … that turned my life upside down.

If It’s Not Right… Go Left”

Author Kristen Glosserman, life coach, explains in her book that trusting in one’s gut is the most important catalyst in living the life we were meant to live. We should speak our dream out loud, give voice to it, and then write it out- turn dreams into active reality!

My best example for this process is my friend Anne! Since retiring from three decades of teaching, she has become a musician ( fiddle) and artist! Equally amazing at both and she brings such joy to both works of art with her own unique perspectives!

Earlier this week all her hard work paid off as an local art committee singled out Anne to display her pictures and crafts in our local gallery! In her own words:

” I am thrilled to have been accepted into the Carnes Crossroads Artist Cooperative-their gallery is housed at the Public Works Art Center on Richardson Avenue in downtown Summerville.

Here are some samples of Anne’s newest artistic endeavor-creating indigo designs on all kinds of cloth materials and clothing, ( Move over Eliza Lucas Pinckney-creator of the indigo trade in colonial South Carolina-Anne Peterson is moving in… making you proud! )

So until tomorrow… ” Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” Helen Keller

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

*** As children we were asked what we wanted to do when we grew up… now that we have ” done” what we did… don’t you think the more important question is ” Who do we want to BE!” No matter our age… it is never too late to find the answer in the mirror… “Who Am I?”

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We All Spill Soup

Dear Reader:

Today there are so many different brands of soup …but I stay faithful to my tried and true basic Campbell soups when eating at home. My childhood is so tied into these soups …representing comfort… yummy grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. My favorite meal as a child.

Then when I married into the Dingle family I discovered that the original Campbell kids logo soups featured the paper dolls from the 1920’s cut-outs of Dolly Dingle and Billy Bump… then the soups became even more endearing.

Only Mark Nepo could connect spilled soup with ” personalizing ” and ” projecting.”

Haven’t we all ” personalized” in different daily situations… it covers superstitions too.

Dolly Dingle

For example:

When Walsh was playing high school football he was a wide receiver… as I watched the football sail through the air towards him, I would cup my hands and blow into them three times with my eyes closed-since it seemed to work more times than not… I began to feel that somehow I could control the fate of the catch … not realizing what a burden I was putting on myself …mistakenly thinking I could control an universal outcome. .. not slightly related to football.

Projecting is the opposite… we attribute our fears and frustrations on others. For example if we grew up afraid of dogs we might overly protect our children from dogs by shielding them or chasing dogs away if they get too close. Unconsciously making the next generation afraid of dogs for a lifetime.

Most of us don’t even realize we are projecting or personalizing until it is brought to our attention, Nepo says:

” Humans have spilled soup for ages and made excuses for it … most of the excuses are rather ridiculous… so if we want to make a difference in this world… simply say ” I’m sorry I spilled the soup.”

So until tomorrow…We all need to own our humanness with self kindness and make amends as needed.

True confession-as I am typing this post I keep finding that red spot of tomato soup ( I had for lunch) on my sweatshirt! Not earth shattering but I am admitting my human folly so I can accept mistakes as stepping stones to deeper awareness and appreciation of a fulfilled life. 🤣

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Dolly Dingle-my numbered lineage doll
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Adult ” Freeze Tag” -When to Act and When to Freeze

Beautiful Frosty Morning

Dear Reader:

We might not be buried under inches and feet of snow but the early morning scenery in the empty lot next door gives credence to the beauty of frozen temperatures creating luscious frosty sparkling glitter in the Lowcountry.

For a few seconds each morning I thank God for the beauty of the earth and then think over any decisions that need to be made that day and I ask God to steer me in the right direction-act on it or wait on it.

Remember when Joshua asked God for a sign before attacking Midian. He even came up with him own test… he would leave some fleece out and if it was wet with dew ( the next morning) but the threshing floor around it dry, he would take it as a sign from God to attack.

Theologians symbolically take the dew as representing Divine Grace because dew is mysterious- it silently forms from no apparent source-yet it freshens leaves, blooms hanging in myriad drops- sparkling in gold and silver. It transforms old leaves into fresh life … brightening the humblest twig.

As Kenny Rogers sang-when it comes to decisions and choices-we really do need to know when ” to play, when to fold and when to walk away. ”

But no matter what we choose-act or wait… the most important thing, our decision must include God and a spirit of Union and surrender. If we trust God will make good out of it-then any wrong choice will right itself.

So until tomorrow…It is not about being correct; it is about being connected.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Look what treasure I found hiding in the grass after Mandy, Eva Cate and Jake helped me pick up branches, limbs, and twigs-Jeff will be so happy when he returns to do the yard-save him a lot of time! Thank you Turners!

My Easter Lily is returning…the one Kaitlyn and Tommy gave me last year
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Keep the Light Burning… Pay Stories Forward

Stories Found in Bottle Trees

Dear Reader:

Stories are found everywhere… like atoms they are part of our genetic universal make-up. Whether we recognize it or even admit it we tell our own unique story every day until we take our last breath.

I am so thankful that I have been able to tell my story through the StoryWorth project to pass down for generations. My favorite surprise to date, however, is seeing how stories have inter generationally woven themselves into all three children’s lives.

MANDY

Mandy grew up and became an art teacher-but she didn’t stop with just teaching art-she spent endless hours searching for stories on art and artists that would enhance her students’ love of art. She ” story told” art with relish.

WALSH

Walsh today works at Nucor-steel and yet he, too, has managed to share his love of storytelling through promotional and inspirational stories as a manager/ team leader over several workers. He likes to start each work shift with stories that uplift and motivate his team in sometimes difficult and trying conditions.

TOMMY

Tommy and his wife Kaitlyn are real estate lawyers … and they , too, know the importance of putting their clients at ease by sharing funny anecdotes of crazy closings that still turned out fine… letting Pip and Atticus ( dogs) come in and nap on the floor -making the office seem homier and not a cold, sterile workplace environment. They love listening to diversified storytelling podcasts daily in the car and especially on long trips.

Oh what a blessing… to see my storytelling passion being passed down. And now blessings on blessings I am seeing the love of stories and imagination developing in my grandchildren!

So until tomorrow… God I am overdue in sending you the biggest Thank You note for allowing me to live long enough to see glimpses of myself and my passions popping up in future generations-once again it proves that we don’t need to leave a legacy engraved in stone… just woven into our loved ones who follow us!

Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh

A Shout-out to my nephew Lee! It’s birthday time again and this year will certainly be a beautiful one with an addition to the family appearing in July, same birthday month as wife Vikki and granddad Ben! Much joy! The best birthday gift of all! Birthday wishes-past, present, future, and one to grow on!

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Simply Remembering People and Places-the Best Kind of Blessings

Dear Reader:

Whenever I get overwhelmed by the problems of our world and country, I remember the parable of the sparrow… ( No not that scriptural one) … this one!

One day there was a sparrow lying in the street with its legs straight up in the air, sweating a little under its feathery arms. A warhorse walks up to the bird and asks, ” What on earth are you doing?” The sparrow replies, ” I heard the sky was falling and I wanted to help.” The horse laughs a big, sneering horse laugh, and says, ” Do you really think you’re going to hold back the sky, with those scrawny little legs?” And the sparrow says, ” One does what one can.”

Mother Teresa said that none of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Anne Lamotte calls this kind of life … living “stitch by stitch.” If we try to fixate on the big picture, the massive uncontrollable global problems, the whole shebang… we miss the tiny stitching and suddenly everything around us begins to unravel. Instead we should pray to try to be good and kind to one another right where we are.

The best thing we can do for one another, as a blessing in disguise, is simply show up … for celebrations and tragedies, for recitals, sports games, illness and health, good times and bad.

Haven’t all of us felt lost at different stages in our lives? We feel like strangers in a strange land trying to figure out how to be human without losing sight of our real home… waiting for us at the end of our earthly visit.

And don’t we just want someone to share the path with us… to just be there if it looks like we are making a wrong detour and then to guide us home?

So until tomorrow…Father help us show up when most needed and be a companion and temporary guide to those who are lost!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Discover the BLESSINGS on your path!

I love this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr

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