The Empty Pillow

Once upon a time, birds of the air, beasts of the Earth, creatures under the sea were created. God was pleased but not complete. Man was added to the masterpiece. Day after day, Man watched over the birds, beasts and sea creatures.

Night after night, Man slept alone and woke up to an “empty pillow”. All of the birds, beasts and sea creatures had companions. God with all His mercy and compassion realized that Man also needed and deserved a companion, so Woman was created. No more “empty pillow” for Man!

That is a very simplistic summary of how I believe we were created. It convinces me that we were not meant to live in solitude. Some people we meet along life’s pathway are friends. If we are blessed, we find a “significant other” who is our best friend and true love. Some of us bear a child or children who we love and nurture, and some of us have fur-babies we can love and cherish. Throughout our relationships, we share laughter, tears, fears and successes –but most of all, love.

In my short life, I’ve crossed paths with 1000’s of people and adopted eight fur-babies. Some people were placed in my path for a season, and I’m blessed with those who are life-long friends and family. The hardest lesson I’ve learned through all of my relationships is this: What do you do when you wake up in the morning only to find an “empty pillow” – an unexpected void in your life?

I’ve experienced and somehow endured many, many, many “empty pillows” — each heart-wrenching no matter how long the relationship lasted. But as I said good-bye to each “empty pillow”, whether they left planned or unplanned I managed to endure. As the song sings “only the strong survive”.

For me personally, God always provided a new opportunity. With each “empty pillow”, a new friend or family member or 4-legged rescue was placed in my life’s pathway. Each was an opportunity to fill my void with a new “pillow” at precisely the right time. These new “pillows” will never replace the “empty pillows”. However, I’ve learned that all my “empty pillows” have provided new life and love to another.

I, too, have been given a new beginning. At just the right time when God knew I was ready, He blessed me with not only a best friend but a true love. My husband and Frankie make sure I don’t wake up to an “empty pillow”. My husband is my life and gives me a reason to wake up each morning.

We never know how long our relationship will last before we wake up to yet another “empty pillow”. Despite the grief with each situation, I managed to “push through” and “keep on going on”. I learned that it doesn’t matter how long the relationship lasts, but the gift of spending time and love together is what is important. Experiencing and appreciating the special bond between me and my friends, family members, and pets – but most of all my husband, my life-partner – gives me lots of love and “pillow talk”!

Bea positive and embrace each day with thanksgiving and anticipation to love fiercely and whole-heartedly with heart and soul. Someone will cross your path who needs a “pillow” from you or maybe they will provide a much-needed “pillow” for you. Bea-lieve because it happened to me.

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The Water Woman by Wesley Cox

Life has a way of beating us down. Too many bad things happen to you in a short period of time. A loved one does, a special relationship ends . . . despite your best efforts to save it. You’ve been healthy all your life, but suddenly you have an array of maladies and injuries that are sapping what you thought was inner strength with endless supply. Instead, the physical and mental pain is dragging you down to a bottomless pit filled with depression and despair. Will you ever feel the warm, welcoming sun on your face or your back again?

Our own problems are always the worst. Our little world is crumbling around us, and we can’t stop the flood. We forget that our problems are but a grain of sand compared to the problems of the world. Life hurts and that is all you know and feel. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

When you come to this point in your miserable, wretched existence with pity party in full swing, you must remember the Water Woman. The Water Woman, you say? What in the world is this looney tune talking about?

Read on, my friend, and perhaps the parable will pull you out of that hold and restore your faith and strength. At this very moment, somewhere in some time, in some 3rd world village of some unknown village, a baby girl is being born. The essence of life and innocence is manifested in this child. Little does she know of the hand that she has been dealt. For she is the newest member of the Water Woman. Her lot in life will be to find water and carry it back to the village.

She will travel many paths and trails before her final day. Miles upon miles of danger are lurking everywhere including wild animals to maim, murder her. Diseases and infection are around every bend. Soldiers are all around to rape and pillage her and throw her into slavery.

For you see, you must understand that your special problems are minute in comparison to the life of a Water Woman. Your petty problems, your inconsequential foibles are but a passing breeze in the life of a Water Woman. . . what she would trade to have one day of your life. If I need water, I turn on the faucet. If I need food, I turn on the microwave. If I need a doctor, I go to the clinic.

So the next time you think of feeling sorry for yourself, remember, you could have been born a Water Woman, damned to an endless existence of trails and water holes. “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Give praise and thanks for your blessings as meager as they may seem to you. And give praise to the Water Women of the world; for without them, we would die of thirst.
Amen,
Wesley Cox

Bea-Day

My birthday is in mid-April and for many years coincides with Easter. This year was one of those. The past few years have been emotional and full of change. Why is it that years that end in 9 are the hardest? This year I turned 59, and it was a tough transition. It’s just a number, right?

For many years, we lived close enough to my parents to spend my birthday with them. Over the past 3-4 years, so many things happened personally that it wasn’t feasible to meet. However, this year was an exception, and we made plans to spend my birthday/Easter weekend with my parents.

We met halfway between FL and AL in Valdosta, GA in a pet-friendly hotel. My parents traveled with Princess, and we had Frankie. Conveniently we had adjoining rooms which turned out to be a blessing. Princess has serious separation anxiety, so Frankie was the perfect companion to keep her quiet and settled so we could enjoy dinner together.

The restaurant we chose was a short walk across the parking lot. We had a very pleasant waiter who looked like Wesley Snipes! He was so nice and took pictures of mama, daddy, me and Roger for special photo memories of our time together. We “messaged” the pictures to my sister, Beth. Her response was hilarious – “you must be at Olive Garden because the breadsticks gave it away!”

As we ordered our entrees, my father told “Wesley” that it was my birthday. After we finished our dinner, “Wesley” and two other waiters showed up at our table with two ice cream desserts. Well, to my embarrassment, they couldn’t just set the desserts on the table, they sang Happy Birthday to me!

We spent one more day together enjoying lunch and dinner as a family. On Tuesday morning we departed and went to our respective homes. Reflecting on the time we spent together, I realized how fortunate I was to spend my birthday once again with my parents and with my new husband. We all know we have fewer years ahead of us than behind us. Bea Positive that when you have the opportunity to spend time with your family – don’t let it slip away.

GivingTuesday God-Wink

Jesse and his helper arrived at 9:00 a.m. and rang the doorbell. I opened the door, and he stepped off the porch and told me they were here to install our fence. He said it would probably take two or three hours. I thanked him, and closed the door.

I watched out the back patio doors as they carried the materials to the back yard. They made several trips and brought their post-hole diggers on their last trip. They turned on some music, and they went to work.

Every now and then I would look out the doors to see the progress. As I do every day, I stepped out on the patio and spoke to John, hoping he was watching over me. Again, I asked him to speak to me somehow; let me know he hears me.

Jesse and his helper continued to work, never taking a break. By noon, it was obvious they would be there longer than three hours. They made several more trips back and forth to their trailer as they brought more materials to complete the fence.

For the last hour, I watched Jesse and his helper finish the fence. They even raked the dirt and grass along the fence, and I was grateful that I didn’t have to ask them. As I watched, I started getting glimpses in my mind of our other home projects and two major relocations.

  • We had our house painted in IL. John provided water and Gatorade to the painters, and even tipped them for a job well-done.
  • For our move from IL to NC, we had a great moving crew. John offered a grill and several pieces of furniture to the movers that we were going to donate anyway. When the truck arrived in NC, John provided water and Gatorade to the guys, and then tipped all three as a thank you for their help.
  • For our move from NC to FL, we had the same crew load in NC and unload in FL. John bought lunch for them, and gave all four envelopes with cash before they drove off. They had to drive around the neighborhood to head back out. As they drove by our house, the driver honked the horn and all of them waved with big grins on their faces.
  • We had our house in FL painted last year. One of the guys even offered to repaint our outdoor lights so that they were freshly painted along with the house. John gave each worker cash before they left our house.
  • In June this year, we had to replace our refrigerator. The two guys who delivered were terrific and even mopped the floor as they changed out the water line. John called the store manager to let him know what a great job the two young men had done with our delivery.

It was then that I knew John was speaking to me, touching my heart. I grabbed two bottles of water and some cash. It was after 1:00 p.m. when Jesse rang the doorbell. When I opened the door, he again stepped off the porch and let me know they had finished. I held out the two bottles of water and told him the fence looked great. He smiled and said, “oh, you already saw it.” Then, I handed him the cash and told him to go buy lunch for the two of them. He smiled even bigger, thanked me again and said God bless.

I closed the door and tears flowed. I thanked John for touching my heart, for giving me inspiration that I desperately need. It was another small God-Wink and so very appropriate and timely for “GivingTuesday”.

The Dance

Enjoying nature was one of many activities that John and I enjoyed sharing. We visited many botanical gardens, beaches and parks wherever we lived. On one of our first vacations together, we travelled to Fort Myers and stayed in a resort right on the beach. One of our days was spent on Sanibel Island, home of several wildlife refuges. We devoted an entire day at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

There is a four-mile scenic drive around Sanibel Island which is home to hundreds species of birds, reptiles, palms, seagrapes, myrtles and other native vegetation. John loved watching me enjoy my passion – photography. He drove along the dike so that I could snap away. Whenever we saw something that caught our attention, especially a flock of wading birds, we stopped to get a closer look.

As we drove slowly along the dike, I saw a lone Little Blue Heron off in the distance in the bay. He caught my eye, and I asked John to stop. We got out of the car and walked up to the edge of the water. The heron was the only bird in sight, but he put on what we later called a “happy dance” through the shallow water. We were thrilled to watch and I captured the show in several still, sequential photos.

The Little Blue Heron stood in the “knee-deep” bay, and my first photo was one where he appeared to be looking at himself in the water like it was a mirror. We imagined to ourselves that he wanted to make sure his feathers were all in place, and he looked handsome and presentable.

Gazing Into The Water

After a few seconds, all of a sudden he spread out his wings and stood on one leg. And then he started running through the water towards us. As he ran, he held his head high and held his wings out like angel wings.

Dancing Dancing

He glided across the shallow water flapping his wings up and then down and turned making a semi-circle wake in the water. Then, as suddenly as he had started his “dance”, he stopped. I caught him in this beautiful, graceful stance. His wings were held out as he stood on one leg, as if in a “Karate Kid” pose gazing into the water again.

Karate Kid Pose

He stood there staring into the water for several seconds, and we were sure he was pleased with what he saw. He stood up once more, raised his wings and continued sprinting and splashing back towards where he started.

Look At Me

All the while, he danced solo as if he was wooing a mate to join him in his tango, “look at me, look at me, I’m here waiting for you!” It was a lovely sight to behold; while we stood there, he never enticed a lady bird to join him.

We decided to return to the car and continue along the dike. Before John started the car, he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes. He told me how much he loved me, and I said the same back to him.  As we drove away, I told John, “that heron’s soul mate is just sitting back waiting for us to leave.  They just want some privacy.”  And we smiled . . .

John and I lived Richard Bach’s quote everyday: “Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.” We made each other’s life come to life; we were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime bond.  He didn’t have to dance to woo me; he had me at “hello”.

He Smiled At Me

The gymnasium was set up for a career fair at the high school for the Great American Teach-In. There were tables set up for participating companies, disciplines and even the U.S. Air Force from MacDill AF Base. I reluctantly signed up to help with the career fair since they said it would be 1-on-1 with students vs. classroom.

I don’t like crowds  and quickly became claustrophobic, especially with all of the chatter in the gym. Science/Technical isn’t a popular subject matter to the vast majority of students, so not many stopped by. Those who did were grabbed up by the other two at my table.  I sat quietly, tuned out the noise and watched the students mill about the gym. It was very apparent to me that the students were more interested in being out of the classroom than careers. Most students did “drive by’s” each table, picked up freebies, hung out with their friends until the bell rang.

Two and half hours was an eternity to me. A new group of students entered the gym. My two table-mates quickly found someone else to talk to. I saw the young man standing in front of our table. He was all alone and holding a U.S. history book almost as big as him. He looked uncomfortable and almost frozen in front of our table, unsure of what to do.

It pained me to see him all alone and uneasy. I saw his name tag, and said, “hello Michael”. He looked up, and said hello back, surprised that I spoke to him. I asked him how he was doing, and he said “ok”. I continued speaking and asked him if he was interested in the science/technical field. He told me he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. He told me he was a sophomore. He was shorter than me with a slight build; I surmised that he was one of the smaller boys, if not the smallest, in his class. I told him he has a lot of time to figure out what he wants to do.

Then I asked him if he liked history, and he nodded “yes” and relaxed a bit. So I asked him, “what are you studying?” to which he replied, “World War I”. I asked him to tell me what started the war, and he was eager to share. He told me that U.K., France and Russia opposed Germany and Austria-Hungary. I said that I didn’t remember the details but “why did the U.S. get involved?” He told me that we remained neutral until Germany invited Mexico to fight against the U.S. and would help them recover TX, NM and AZ.

Curious if he was abreast of current events, I asked him, “what do you think about what’s going in our world today?” He was very thoughtful and said that we need to look back on history and understand what lessons we learned. We need to think long-term and hopefully make a good decision for our country. I asked if World War II is next, and he told me the Great Depression is next. I told him, “as bad as our economy is now, it’s nothing compared to the Great Depression.”

Just then, the bell rang and it was time for him to return to class. I said, “you’re a very sharp young man. Thank you for talking to me and good luck to you.” And that’s when he broke into a full, tooth-filled smile. He held out his hand to me which I shook. He said, “thank you, thank you for coming today.”

It was an emotional drive home, mostly because I wouldn’t be able to share my experience with John. All afternoon, Michael’s smile kept coming back to my mind. Then, it dawned on me – John loved history, especially U.S. history. He always told me how he was a scrawny kid growing up, a loner, uncomfortable in crowds like me, like Michael. It was less than 10 minutes in the three hours I spent at the career fair, but it’s as if Michael stopped in front of me on purpose. He needed me to speak to him, and I needed to speak to him. It was as if John, my guardian angel, smiled at me through Michael’s smile, a tiny little God-wink for me.

An Unlikely Pair

To the casual observer, he and she were an unlikely pair.  But to those in close proximity of the two of them could feel the attraction.  He was the south end of a magnet and she the north end, forming a permanent magnetic field of closeness.  It was this closeness that was the foundation of their forever love.

He loved the wild, wild west, cowboys and Indians. She loved the tropics and Asian culture.

He wore starched shirts, perfectly-knotted ties, and cowboy boots. She wore silk, lace and high heels.

He never had a hair out of place. She let her hair flow long, sometimes with a forced wave.

He loved bluegrass and R&B. She loved 80’s and classic rock.

He was self-taught on the guitar. She was classically trained on the piano.

He drove an SUV. She drove a two-seater sports car.

He worked for the same company for over 30 years. She had already worked for three.

He had some college, military and lots of on-the-job training. She had two college degrees.

He was a fitness fanatic and weight lifter. She walked her dog for exercise.

He was a father with two children. She had no children, only a “fur-baby”.

He had lived in Florida all but four years of his life. She had not lived in one place more than four years.

He had family and friends all around him.  She had family and friends scattered across the country.

This unlikely pair was me and my husband. Our paths crossed in a meant-to-be-moment through Godwinks and guardian angels. Our differences were the lure which led us to discover shared dreams and wishes. We fell head-over-heels in love and nothing was going to keep us apart:

“Our soul mate is one who makes life come to life.” Richard Bach

We made each other’s life come to life.  From the beginning and all of our years together, we were blessed with love that strengthened and deepened into our Bea-utiful love story – an unlikely pair of hearts joined together forever.

Two Hearts

Remembering . . . Can Be Inspiring

Remembering is painful, it’s difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom.” ~Paul Greengrass

A friend of mine suffered what I believe is the absolute worst nightmare for a parent – losing your child. It’s been over 19 months for her, but her heartbreak and struggle continue even to this day. Three months ago, I, too, suffered a tragic loss; something that I never imagined.

Jean was the first person to reach out to me and provided the greatest gifts – a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy, the gift of her time. She invited me over for lunch. She let me cry on her shoulder without giving advice and instruction. She bought chicken soup over which we cried more and let grow cold. She disclosed that most friends and family eventually became weary of her grief funk and slowly distanced themselves from her. She confessed that she used to be “one of those people” – she avoided the griever because it was too uncomfortable — until it it happened to her.  Their tears continued, they didn’t smile even after months.  “Stop it already”, “be strong”, “get over it”, “get professional help” is all she could think.

She told me that well-meaning people want to fix you. Some will try to label your grief; after all, if it is correctly diagnosed, then there is a solution, right? Some psychiatrists and counselors have identified “stages of grief”; unfortunately, they aren’t linear. She told me you won’t move from one to the next in a nice step-by-step process. Or like C.S. Lewis describes “am I going in circles, or dare I hope that I’m on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down?”

She shared that the one and only thing she wants to do is talk about her son. She wants to tell everyone she meets about her son. She wants to remember all 28 years of his short life. Despite the pain that remembering brings, it provides comfort to share because she remembers the beautiful person he was while he was here. She told me that some choose to forget or not acknowledge because it’s less painful for them – “out of sight, out of mind”.

I am experiencing everything she shared with me like it’s a well-scripted play. Like her, remembering John is not an option; it’s a conscious choice. I remember my gorgeous husband, my friend, my companion and my soul mate. I remember because we were blessed with 20 wonderful years together; to not remember means these years didn’t exist. I remember the beautiful memories we created together which motivate me to write. I write because I promised to share our love story. Eventually, I will share our story because we want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make them reality.

My request, if you have read this post, is that you develop empathy, not unresponsiveness.  The greatest gifts you can provide to someone like me and my friend are a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy and the gift of your time.

You Said . . .

Sometimes tomorrow is too late.  Don’t promise something that you can’t fulfill.  Bea there when they need you, not when you can be there.

You said you would be there for us,

But you had an important meeting.

You said you would clear your calendar

And be there, you said, “I promise, you’ll see”.

You said you would see us next week

After all, the doctors said you’re doing better

“So we’ve got plenty of time

We’ll make plans soon and get together.”

You said you would be there for me

But I never called you to say when.

So I managed without you all this time,

“It’s ok, I’m ok, I’ll manage on my own again.”

You said you’d like to be there for me

But you said, “all we can do is pray”

After all, it’s been a few months now

Surely, God will provide a new way.”

You said we’ll try to be here for you

But my tears and sorrow were too much.

You stayed as long as you could stand

And then packed and drove away without a touch.

You said you are here to help me

But only for a couple of days.

You see, we have our own lives;

We cannot deal with your life’s crazy maze.

You said you would be there for me

But this weekend we’re going to the Keys

“We’ll see you when we return;

It’s not your time, you see.”

You said you would stay with me

So that I wouldn’t have to go it alone

But too many other things happened,

So once again I was alone.

You said you would be there for me

But now you have to go out of town.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bother;

I’ll be ok, I’ll survive, I promise I won’t drown.”

So what if you’re not here for me . . .

It’s no different than most of my life.

I only had one I could count on here

And now he has entered heaven, a life with no strife.

Kalik Konnection

My friend, Stacey, is helping me write a book about the love story between me and my husband.  One of the chapters in the book describes our all-expenses paid trip to the Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas.  An excerpt of the chapter is below.

We slept in late on our first morning, enjoying coffee and brunch.  As we did on most of our day trips and vacations, we kept the day low-key.  It was the two of us and my camera experiencing the beach surrounding The Atlantis.  It was overcast, so the sun wasn’t scorching.  We walked the beach hand-in-hand letting our feet be tickled by the waves.  We walked away from the hotel and found a private area with chairs and an umbrella.  We sat away from others, just listening to the waves roll onto the shore, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

We spent a few leisurely hours at the beach, and then headed back towards the hotel.  The Island Pool looked inviting.  We found a couple of lounge chairs and kicked back with a Kalik beer, the local favorite.  The pool was fairly quiet, however, you could hear the laughter and shouts coming from the Mayan Temple water slides.  John and I were perfectly content to sit in the corner taking pictures of each other and planning a romantic dinner for the evening.

A week prior to reading the chapter, Stacey had directed me to Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue to check out potential rescues.  There was a little yorkie who was looking for a home.  When John and I lived in North Carolina, I used to travel to Roanoke, VA on business, and he traveled with me.  Our all-time favorite steakhouse is Frankie Rowland’s in downtown Roanoke where we dined every time we traveled there.  It just so happened, the little yorkie looking for a home is named Frankie, spelled just like the steakhouse.  He’s now part of our family.

On the afternoon of 10/7, Stacey clicked on Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue’s facebook page.  There on the FB cover is a little dog sitting on the beach with a Kalik beer next to him.  Stacey had never heard of Kalik beer before reading our story.  As Stacey shared with me, “Tears in my eyes as I type this . . . I directed you toward lil Frankie at Nate’s Rescue . . . you adopt him . . . I read the story of your trip to the Bahamas . . . this picture shows up on Nate’s FB page.”

Coincidence?  Maybe . . .

Fluke?  Possibly . . .

A wink from God to connect me and John?  Positively . . . that’s what I Bea-lieve.

Instead of hawks or a beautiful rainbow, Stacey provided a connection to John through Frankie, named in honor of our favorite steakhouse, and Nate’s facebook cover page with a little dog enjoying the beach with a Kalik beer . . . thus, the Kalik Konnection.

Kalik Konnection

Spaghetti & Meatballs ?!?!?! Really?

Do you ever wonder why God places certain people in your path? I believe they are there when you need a sign that you are not alone. I believe they are they to provide a necessary connection to a loved one when you are too emotional to feel the tie you so desperately need.

Mary and Brian are two such people that have been placed in my life. John and I started attending Horizon Christian Church on Easter Sunday this year. We never met Mary and Brian, but they knew our beautiful story before they knew us. Since August, they are providing a much-needed connection between me and John without ever having met John themselves.

Over the last couple of months, I have been writing the beautiful love story between me and John. Mary is one of my “editors”. She is supposed to read as I write and provide feedback and input. However, as of last weekend, she hadn’t read a word that I sent her! She and Brian invited me over for dinner last Saturday, and I reluctantly accepted. She texted me that “they were going easy and having spaghetti and meatballs”.

We had dinner around 6:00 p.m. with their son and “Aunt” Connie. Mary had cooked spaghetti and meatballs and dinner included salad and bread. We enjoyed our meal and nice conversation. At some point, Mary asked me what I liked to eat? I said, “if you read our book, you would know the answer.” She rolled her eyes at me. Then she asked if I liked to drink wine. I said “yes” to which she asked, “what is your favorite?” Again, I said, “if you read our book, you would know the answer.  I’m not going to tell you.” At that point, she said, “ok, ok, I get it, I need to read your book!”

I don’t like driving in the dark by myself, so I left around 7:30 p.m. to go home. I thanked them for their kindness and meal. She packed me some pumpkin bread that she had bought for something sweet.

It was Sunday afternoon when I received a text message from Mary.  All it said was “started reading your book . . . spaghetti and meatballs?!?!?! Really? That blew my mind.”

You see, it blew her mind because she read it in our book after I left her house Saturday night.  Had she read the book ahead of time, she would have known that spaghetti and meatballs was one of John’s favorites.  The first Valentine’s lunch with John was at Olive Garden, and he ordered spaghetti and meatballs. On our day trip to Ybor City, we ate at Spaghetti Warehouse, and he ordered spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a meal he would order many more times over the years.

What Mary doesn’t know, because it’s not part of the book yet, is that pumpkin bread was our favorite that we enjoyed with our morning coffee. John always loaded up on canned pumpkin when it was in season, so that I could bake pumpkin bread and pumpkin bars throughout the year. I made sure I had a fresh loaf whenever Jeri came for Superbowl every year. How would she know that if John didn’t nudge her gently, speaking to her heart and soul, knowing I would be there with her?

So, why did God choose Mary and Brian to be my link to John?  I don’t know . . . I just share the story because it really happened.  I hope to provide inspiration to you, too.  Hopefully, I can help you Bea Positive that God’s ways are mysterious and inexplicable . . .you just have to Bea-lieve.

The Station

I can’t take credit for the story I am sharing tonight except for a few examples of why we yearn for the station and the closing. I received this in an e-mail 27 years ago from a friend of mine and found it a few weeks ago. I kept it all these years and realize it still applies.  Bea Positive and don’t worry about the station up ahead.

“Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows, we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering – waiting, waiting, waiting for the train station.

“When we reach the station, that will be it!” we cry.

When I graduate from college.

When I buy a new car.

When I make Vice President.

When I get married.

When I pay off the mortgage.

When I buy a bigger boat.

When I travel to Europe for a month.

When the kids move out of the house.

When I get well.

When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: “this is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.”

Instead, cherish every moment you have with your friends, your pets, your family, your wife or your husband. The station will come soon enough, and not when expected.

The Gray Cat With Blue Eyes

Wednesday nights, all of us place the trash and recycle bins on the curb. As I was rolling the trash can to the curb, I heard a “meow” from the garage. I went back for the recycle bin, and I saw the gray cat standing next to the car. I tried to call him out of the garage, but he kept walking towards the back door.

I crept down in the driveway and called to him again mainly because I didn’t want him to stay in the garage! He kept meowing and looking at the back door.  We’ve never been “cat people”; we have always rescued little dogs. I’m not really sure how to act around cats.  As I squatted in the driveway, I called to him.  He finally came over and gave me “cat kisses” on my hand and legs; he kept rubbing his neck and body against my legs. He put his head in my hand and wanted me to pet him and rub his head and back.

I started crying and talked to the cat through tears, and said “why are you here of all nights? I’ve been asking John to speak to me all day, and now it’s dark.” I have no idea how to take care of cats. I kept crying, petting him and letting him “kiss” my hand. Then I asked, “by chance, is your name John? Are you trying to tell me something?”

He kept returning to the garage and sitting in front of the door, and then he laid down in front of the car. At this point, I had to find a way to get him out so I could close the garage. I took the garage door opener out of the car and coaxed the cat outside again.  I started walking down the sidewalk. The cat followed me, and I closed the garage. He walked with me touching my leg as we walked.

I decided to try Mac and Bambi, hoping they would chase the cat away. I put Mac’s leash on, and he went crazy as soon as he saw the cat.  Mission accomplished — the cat ran away.  Mac and I went for a walk down the sidewalk about a block and then returned home. We went through the front door, and I tried to collect myself.

Now, Bambi was ready to go out, so I let her out the back door. As soon as I opened the back door, I heard the meowing. The cat had returned and was sitting on one of the patio chairs by the grill. About this time, my sister, Beth, called me. I told her about the strange encounter. Because she has had cats, I asked her what should I do?

I described the cat to Beth. He is mostly gray with white “boots” on each foot. He has white patches over his nose and white-striped “eye brows” that look painted on – three vertical stripes over the top of each eye. Across the bottom eyelids, it looked like white eyeshadow was painted across. Once Beth saw his picture, she said “I’ve never seen a cat with those kinds of markings.”

Beth said, “he might be hungry, but cats won’t eat dog food. Do you have any canned chicken?” I didn’t, but I decided to try Bambi’s nuggets. The cat ate every nugget in the bowl.

While Beth and I kept talking, I sat down on our glider. The cat crawled up on my lap and wanted me to pet him. She said, “cats don’t come up to people, especially ones they don’t know.” And then she asked, “what color are his eyes?” I know why she asked . . . John has blue eyes.

After a few minutes, the cat wanted to go back outside, so I let him out. And then Beth said the most beautiful thing to me.  Maybe the cat is a God-Wink and “maybe he knew you needed comfort and sought you out.”  She told me that cats don’t “kiss” people, but this one “kissed” me. She said cats rub against you because they want to be touched and loved, or maybe he knew I needed to touched and loved at that moment.

I haven’t seen the cat since he left the patio last night.  I believe Beth is right . . . the cat was a God-Wink sent to me last night.  I needed to know that my angel, John, is watching over me, he loves me, he misses me . . . as much as I love him and miss him.  Last night, I was blessed with a beautiful gray cat with blue eyes.

Elliott Was Right . . . It Didn’t Rain On Our Wedding Day

On Sunday afternoon, September 8, 1996, John and I visited Nancy’s Secret Garden in Key West.  It had been raining most of the day, but we managed to find a break in the weather early that afternoon. We parked and walked through a small alley and then through the gate.  We walked into a tropical heaven.

There was a lady, her hair in a long braid cast from back to front over her left shoulder.  She was talking to a beautiful white parrot inside a large bird cage.  Nancy introduced herself to us – Nancy of Nancy’s Secret Garden.  She seemed delighted we were there and gave us a personal tour of her garden.

Not far into our tour, the rain started up again, and Nancy invited us into her home.  Me, John, Nancy and Elliott (her companion) sat on their screened porch, and we listened to her story.  Nancy’s grandmother brought her family to Key West with a vision to start the garden and get away from the “concrete jungle”.  She mentioned that some people have weddings in their garden.  “In fact”, she said, “we have a wedding here tomorrow morning!”  John and I smiled; we were the couple getting married.  She and Elliott grinned from ear-to-ear.

I think Elliott could tell by the look on my face that I was distressed by the rain as it continued to fall.  Elliott looked at me and John and said, “Don’t worry about the rain.  It has never rained on a wedding yet.”

We stayed for a little while longer waiting for the rain to subside.  Nancy and Elliott said they couldn’t wait to see us tomorrow.  And again, Elliott reassured us, “it’s not going to rain on your wedding.”

Our beautiful wedding day is best described in John’s lovely poem.  And Elliott was right after all – it didn’t rain on our wedding.  Happy anniversary, my love, my angel.

“I awoke to the sound of rain.  Oh, Lord, please not today,

For I’ve finally found love; this is my wedding day.

I gently eased back a curtain.  The sky was but clouds and rain.

I saw the look on your face as your tears slowly came.

“Perhaps, it’s not meant to be” those words I heard you say.

“It’s very bad luck to have rain on your wedding day.”

“The rain will go away,” I said, “just you wait and see.”

“It’s only Angels crying, happy for you and me.”

We slowly got ready, remorsefully drive in the rain.

We even drank some wine to try and ease the pain.

But as we reached the Garden, the rains began to slow.

We started feeling hope, but, how long, we did not know.

I looked up above to see the clouds part

As if someone had cleared a spot to join these two hearts.

The bouquet in the cottage brought a smile and then a tear.

I knew from that moment that all would be well from here.

We said our wedding vows as the flowers glistened in the rain.

I gave my heart to you as we became one.

We walked among the flowers, you, the most radiant of all.

As the angels held the rain away for not a drop on us did fall.

I never thought about angels, but I know that day for sure

That we have one watching over us because our love is true and pure.

I ask our Angel every day to keep you safe for me.

To help you with all you do and try to be patient with me.

I ask our Angel to let you know how much you mean to me.

To tell you how much love I have to give to my “B”.

Our Rings

“You Spoke To Me Through Mary”

Every day I talk to you. As hard as I try to listen, but I can’t hear you speaking to me. Today was different, because you spoke to me through Mary.

The first time I met Mary was when she, Brian and Zack and eight others came over to clean our yard on August 15.  Today, Mary, Brian and Zack came back to help paint a few rooms.

They stopped at Panera Bread before coming over, and Mary asked me if I wanted breakfast. I asked for a breakfast sandwich of some kind, not picky. They arrived around 9:30 a.m., and we ate in our kitchen. As I was eating my egg and bacon sandwich, she handed me another bag. She said, “we decided to get you something sweet, so we got you a cinnamon bun.” I choked back the tears and told her that was our favorite pastry when we used to go to Panera.  Brian said, “See, John told us to get the cinnamon roll for you.”

Mary and I took a little break mid-morning.  She mentioned that she tried to find my “beapositive” blog. I asked her how she knew; she remembered from Pastor Dan’s message last week. I also asked her to read our book that I’ve started.

As Brian was cleaning up the paint brushes, trays, etc., she and I sat in the kitchen and talked. As the morning passed, she must have sensed that she needed to share something with me. She had a dream a few weeks before she met me.  A dear friend of hers went to heaven sometime in July. This is how I know that you spoke to me this morning.

Mary says she has very vivid dreams. In this particular dream, her friend whispered in her ear, so close that Mary could feel her breath. She said for whatever reason, she smelled some kind of mint. I believe it was wintergreen, the flavor of the Altoids we have in our car that we’d eat to cover up coffee-breath. She told Mary, “you are not going to believe this place when you get here. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine.”  Then her friend beckoned her and said, “I want to show you this house. Follow me.”

At the house, the first thing she saw was a waterfall.  Where the water spilled into the stones were black pebble stones. She said when I turned on the waterfall on August 15, the first thing she saw were the black pebble stones.  I remember when  you wanted to add black stones where the water fall, and we bought them at a local nursery.  You placed them with your hands at the bottom of the waterfall.  She immediately called Brian over and said, “look at the waterfall and the black pebble stones. . . just like in my dream.”

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

The second thing she saw in the dream were little elephant statuettes standing around her. She said it took her breath away this morning while we ate breakfast. Over in the corner on our kitchen counter she saw three elephant statuettes just like in her dream.

Elephant Statuettes

Elephant Statuettes

The third thing that convinced me you were speaking to me was the phrase she used to describe our love story. She said the way I have weaved our memories and your poetry is like a “word dance”. At that point, I took her into our music room and showed her the pictures on the wall. The first one is a couple dancing in the rain on the beach that we bought together.  I am the lady in red dancing with my Prince Charming. The other picture was a Christmas present to you from me, “Dance Me To The End of Love”.  We used to dance in our living room.  Although we can’t physically dance together right now, our story is our “word dance”, a beautiful love story with your poetry and my stories about our memories.  I know you gave her the phrase “word dance” to share with me.

Dancing

Dancing

IMG_20150829_171433252

I thank God that Mary, Brian and Zack are in our lives. Mary said, “I am your connection to John right now. He is speaking through me so that you know how much he loves you.  He is waiting for you.”

My heart aches beyond words can describe every minute that I’m awake. I only have peace when I write about us, so I continue to write our beautiful life. I love you and miss you more every day. But today . . . you spoke to me through Mary.

Let’s Have Coffee in the Morning . . . Just the Two of Us

One of the simple things we loved to share was coffee in the morning, just the two of us.

Some of the cooler mornings, we sat on the patio to listen to the birds. We were fortunate to have a blue bird family nest in one of the blue bird houses and have two clutches this year.  What a beautiful and peaceful sight to watch the mama and papa birds fly in and out to take care of the babies!

Some mornings, we watched “Good Morning Tampa Bay” to make us smile.

Some mornings, we had coffee with our favorite pumpkin bread. Our little “fur-babies” love pumpkin, too.

Most mornings, we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company, just happy to sit in the same room.

My morning coffee’s not as good when I don’t share it with you.

My day’s not as good when we don’t start with a walk through the morning dew.

Whatever we share is worth more than diamonds or gold.

If you are beside me, and I can take your hand to hold.

I pray each day to God above,

and thank him for bringing you to me and showing me true love.   ~ Your JB

Please cherish all the moments with your loved ones, no matter large or small, for you never know when one might be your last. Bea Positive every day . . . “rain or shine, it’s gonna be a great day.”

Circle of Friends

Back in February, I met a lady in the hospital. She and I shared a common fear – our husbands were in ICU not knowing what the next hour would bring let alone the next day. We were the only two who spent uncountable hours in the ICU waiting room. We were both afraid to leave but too tired to stay.

One day we spoke to each other. We shared our situations. We shared tears, and we shared prayer. We shared our greatest fears with each other – life without our husbands. We prayed fervent prayers to God for divine healing.

Fast forward six months . . . something told me to reach out to Lourdes three weeks ago. It was a strong feeling in my spirit. Lourdes lost Roger in February; he never left ICU. I was devastated for her, and I cried for her. I prayed for her not really knowing what she needed, not really knowing what she was feeling, not really knowing her loneliness.

Until now . . . now I know how she feels. Now I understand the depths of her pain, hurt, loneliness, heartbreak, gut-wrenching sick-to-your-stomach feeling . . . the indescribable hole you feel in your heart. Lourdes was the first person to reach out and ask to sit with me, cry with me, pray with me, experience the same pain with me, asking for nothing in return.

With experiences such as this, you find out who genuinely cares and doesn’t just say the words and phrases that are “a propos”. You find out who stands with you when you can’t find the words to describe how you feel, you can’t itemize what you need, you can’t stop the tears long enough to say hello, you can’t remember who is in the same room with you, you can’t remember if you’ve eaten today.

You find out who is willing to just sit with you while you cry, while you grieve.

You find out who will text you just to let you know they are thinking about you.

You find out who is willing to hold your hand, put an arm around your shoulder and sit in the same room and say nothing.

You find out who is willing to hear what they don’t want to hear.

You find out who is willing to understand that you can’t flip a switch and feel better.

You find out who is willing to provide their company and time vs. suggesting you need professional help.

You find out who is willing to be uncomfortable to provide just a little bit of comfort.

You find out who is willing to be there for the long haul, because it’s a long journey.

You find out that your circle of friends becomes very, very small.

I’m thankful for my very small circle of friends.

Love Letter from Heaven

To the love of my life,

I want you to know that it is beautiful here, and Jesus is even more magnificent that we ever imagined. The King of Kings welcomed me with open arms. He and I are holding you even though you cannot feel it physically. Let Him take your sorrow and pain; cast your cares on Him.

Always remember like I told you last week, I am blessed, we are blessed . . . We are blessed. Repeat those words over and over when you feel like you do right now. While you can’t hear me speak to you, you have my words all around you. Read them so you know how much I truly love you. Yes, I say love, in the present tense, because I will always love you. Don’t ever doubt that.

You’re like the lovely little lovebird that was in the cabin in Nancy’s Secret Garden on the day we married. She, too, lost her mate, and Nancy told us that she quit singing. I know you’re not singing any more . . .but you can write. We said we would write our story together. You have my written words in poetry. Now you need to fill in with your words as only you can write.

Share our Bea-utiful love story. Tell everyone how every day, hour, minute, second is precious and will never come around again. Bea my Bea . . . Bea Beautiful . . . Bea Positive.

I love you,

Your JB

A Book of Love Poems from John to Bea – Chapter 1

This was the 1st poem my beautiful, loving husband and soul-mate wrote for me 19 years ago.  He and I shared a special love that only comes once in a lifetime.  I was so fortunate to have him my life and blessed that we made so many wonderful memories together.  I hope can feel the love he had for me and can see that he is the inspiration for Bea Positive.

 

True Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Go Ahead, Make My Day”

Trish cleaned our room around 4:30 p.m. each afternoon. The first couple of times, she was pleasant, said hello and went about her cleaning, not a lot of conversation. Very meticulous, you could tell she takes pride in cleaning the room, bathroom and disinfecting all surfaces. After all, a sanitized environment is critical to the patient’s health and recovery. She spent about 15-20 minutes and then left to take care of the next room.

After a few days, John struck up a conversation with Trish. One of the many qualities that appealed to me was John’s desire to know a person, no matter what their responsibility may be. She takes her responsibility seriously but is a lovely, caring lady. Trish’s husband adores her, much like John adores me! She likes to do yoga on her days off to recharge and meditate. She takes an annual gambling trip with the girls which just so happened during his second week. If it was up to Trish, she’d have all of the floors stripped and waxed! Another example of her high expectation for cleanliness, patient comfort and satisfaction.

Within a couple of weeks as John’s hair thinned, she mentioned how he resembled Clint Eastwood especially when he furrows his brow, looking very serious. She’d say “make my day”, which would make John smile. Such a simple thing, but so delightful – something he anticipated to brighten his day. Needless to say, John’s nickname on the floor became “Clint”!  Each evening before she left, she would blow a kiss and say she would pray for us.

Over the next five months, John would leave and return three times. On each arrival, Trish was one of the first people we saw when we walked onto the 4th floor. Despite the circumstances, it was comforting to see her smile and hear her say, “there’s my cutie-pies”!

So, back again for a third and last time. Trish was the first person we saw as we walked onto the 4th floor. Her face lit up when she saw “Clint” and let us know she had cleaned the room prior to his check-in. Before clocking out, she made a point to say good night, and she would pray for us.

Tuesday, I stepped out of John’s room for a phone call to discuss the next step in his journey to healing. The reality of this finale is overwhelming, stirring up suppressed emotions while producing new ones. I took refuge in the handicap stall in the public restroom. I hadn’t been there more than a couple of minutes when I heard Trish call out, “Mrs. Boxx, are you in here?” I had lost track of time, and John’s procedure was just minutes away. Trish made sure to find me before he was transported away.

I can count the number of hours we’ve known Trish, but she’s as dear as my friends I’ve known for 30+ years. Trish didn’t have to befriend us.  Trish didn’t have to pray for us. Trish didn’t have to come find me because she had her own job to complete. Trish didn’t have to hug me to comfort me. Trish didn’t have to help wipe away my tears as her own eyes welled up. But in the famous words of Dirty Harry, “go ahead, make my day” is what Trish does daily.

Bea Positive and take time to make someone’s day!

Will You Be My Warrior?

It was mid-afternoon, sunny and breezy, a very nice May day. I sat on the metal bench waiting for the valet to fetch my car out of the parking garage. Since I like to people-watch, I sat, eyes behind my sunglasses, and watched. Some people dropped off their cars to be parked. Others, like me, waited for their cars to be retrieved from the garage.

The striped red-black-white dress caught my eye, something that I would wear. The lady in the dress was an attractive tall, model-thin lady, and wore nice black-heeled sandals to match the dress. She held the tell-tale large brown envelope with x-rays. Beside her was her daughter, who looked to be 11-12 years old and was almost as tall as her mother and just as pretty! Another lady, who looked like her sister, also stood beside her as they waited for their car.

While the lady’s dress caught my eye, her lovely English accent caught my ear. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but they stood close enough that I could hear their conversation. She said, “you know, there are angels around us everywhere we go.” Through my sunglasses, I saw the tears rolling down the young girl’s face. This lovely lady, like all patients in this hospital, is here because this is the best chance to beat cancer.

I heard the young girl say “I’m so scared” as she sobbed. Her mother held her close and wiped her tears. She said, “It’s only four months, and it’s going to be alright.” Then she turned to her sister, touched her forearm, and asked, “will you be my warrior?” Her sister nodded yes. She turned back to her daughter and held her face in her hands and asked, “will you be my warrior? I need you to be strong for me.”

My car showed up as my own tears rolled down my face. The question haunted me for quite a while. To me, a warrior is someone who shows great vigor, courage, aggressiveness. There isn’t a cancer patient in this hospital who isn’t a warrior; they are fighting every day with courage and perseverance to endure tests, x-rays, treatment, biopsies, waiting, hoping. So why did this lady ask her daughter and sister to be a warrior? Can a loved one, friend, family member be a warrior, too?

Well, yes, because in any battle, there are “non-combat” warriors – advocates, guardians, supporters. These people provide strength, encouragement and care for the battle-worn . . . As I reflected, I realized our personal warriors . . .

  • Mow the grass, edge the sidewalks every week without being asked
  • Pick up the mail and watch the house
  • Show up on Saturday to clean out the refrigerator and kitchen
  • Bring a delicious chicken potpie and fresh fruit tart, just because you don’t have time to cook
  • Give you an “Angel of Prayer” to sit by your bedside
  • Provide company while I wait during the biopsy procedure
  • Bring “care packages” of fruit, snacks, hand-sanitizer, books, magazines
  • Spend Saturday mornings pulling weeds, trimming hedges, fertilizing the yard
  • Pray, have faith when we are weak

So, how will you respond if asked “will you be my warrior?”

“Will you be my warrior?  I need you to be strong and bea positive…”

My Name Is Juanita

In hospital waiting rooms, you do just that – wait. It can feel like an eternity. When a loved one is in ICU, you don’t want to leave for fear something might happen. God forbid something really dire happens, and you’re not there. You know that your body needs rest, but you can’t take a chance of missing a doctor or nurse who might have an updated status.

Lourdes never left the hospital while her husband was in ICU. In one corner of the ICU waiting room, she had taken up “residence” so that she could be close to her husband. There were several Publix shopping bags full of food, bottled water, travel bag and lots of coffee cups. A pillow and blanket was folded neatly on one of the sofas when she wasn’t using them.

Every evening a large group of family and friends came by. Kids under 12 aren’t allowed to visit patients, so the two that came romped around the waiting room while the adults took turns visiting their father/brother/friend. Cartoon Network blared on TV with no one really watching. For several hours, the waiting room was pretty chaotic, Fresh clothing, hot meals and more coffee were brought in for Lourdes. More importantly, love and support surrounded her.

One morning, it was fairly quiet and Lourdes had one visitor. They sat in the corner quietly, speaking Spanish to each other. On the other end of the waiting room in a corner, was another lady. She sat alone and every now and then looked at her phone and typed a few messages. In the chair next to her, she had a box of hospital-grade tissues, definitely not the soft branded-kind! She received a phone call.  As she talked on the phone, she wiped away tears with the tissues and piled up the used ones next to the tissue box.

After a few moments, Lourdes’s friend walked across the room to this lone lady. She spoke softly and placed her hand on the lady’s arm and said, “I saw you sitting alone, and saw you crying while on the phone. I don’t know you or your situation, but I know you are hurting. My name is Juanita, and sometimes people just need a hug. I just came over to give you a hug.”

I never saw Juanita again, but she made a lasting impression on me. Now, when I see someone alone, and especially obviously hurting, I just speak a few words. Sometimes it seems appropriate to touch them softly on the arm or give them a squeeze to one of their hands. The power of human touch and a few kind words don’t seem like much, do they, until you’re the one who needs it.

All I remember is her saying to me, “my name is Juanita, and I came to give you a hug.”  It was just what I needed that morning.

Hope Springs Eternal

Easter Lilly Bud

Hope Springs Eternal

 

While Easter 2015 was almost 10 days ago, I captured this Easter lily in my garden after a spring rain. It’s perfect and unopened with freshly fallen rain appearing like teardrops rolling down the bud. But instead of tears of mourning, these raindrops symbolize tears of joy for a beautiful bud which will soon fully blossom. The lovely Easter Lily symbolizes Life, Purity and HOPE.

Hope is a feeling of expectation, anticipation — an optimistic attitude of positive outcomes. While life can throw us unexpected curveballs, it’s important to never lose hope. Even when it seems impossible in the natural, God always has the last word. As St. Clement said,

“If you do not HOPE, you will not find what is beyond your HOPE.”

My wish for you is that these positive images, history and even mythology about the Easter Lily leave you with optimism and hope. What better time than the Easter Season to remind us that Jesus Christ offers us eternal HOPE!  We have a couple of lilies getting ready to bloom.  We will enjoy their beauty as well as the reminder to HOPE so that we will find what is beyond our HOPE.

  • Often called the “White Robed Apostles of Hope”, lilies were discovered in the Garden of Gethsamane. According to tradition Lilies grew up where Jesus Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in His final hours of sorrow and distress. No wonder that during Easter, these lilies signify the resurrection of Jesus and HOPE for eternal life!!
  • In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel offers the Virgin Mary pure white lilies announcing that she will be the mother of Jesus.
  • St. Joseph is depicted in some paintings holding a lily to his virgin wife, Mary.
  • Other paintings pictorialize saints bringing white lilies to Mary and Jesus after His birth.
  • According to legend, the white lilies were formed when Eve cried repentant tears upon leaving the Garden of Eden – symbolizing that true repentance leads to beauty.
  • Roman mythology links lilies to Juno, the queen of gods. While Juno was nursing her son, Hercules, excess milk fell from the skies. Part of the milk remained above the earth, forming a group of stars called the Milky Way. The remainder of the milk fell to the earth and sprung up as white lilies.

Always remember to Bea Positive and always remain full of HOPE!

Sources:

from http://extension-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/publications/lily/lily.html

“Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,” compiled by Ivor H Evans. Harper & Row, 1989, p. 663

It’s in the Valleys I Grow

Back in the early 2000’s, I was on a major roller-coaster of emotional turbulence.  My friend, Angie, gave me this poem, and I’ve kept it all these years.  It seems that just when things are going well, you get thrust into a valley.  So when you think you may be stuck in a rut — or in a very deep valley — pull out this poem.

I hope this poem gives you encouragement and strength to grow through whatever valley of life you have experienced or may be going through right now.  “Bea Positive” that any storm in your life has a purpose!

Growing in the valleys

The Old Man with the Umbrella

It was a rainy, cold January morning. My husband had a check-up with our primary care physician. We go with each other to keep each other company while waiting. Most of the time, we don’t even speak to each other, but we’re together. He usually reads a magazine, and I observe and listen to others waiting with us.

Our doctor’s specialty is rhematology so he cares for older patients – older than us, that is. This morning, it wasn’t very busy. An older gentleman came in a few minutes after we had been sitting. He was the only one who bothered to bring an umbrella with him. He signed in and then sat in a chair next to the water cooler. He placed the umbrella between his legs with both hands placed on top of the handle and watched the TV.

After a couple of minutes, the young office assistant behind the window called his name, Mr. Osborne. I could tell he was hard of hearing, and sitting next to the water cooler didn’t help him hear the young lady calling his name. She called him a couple of times, raising her voice each time. When he finally realized she was calling him, she asked him, “Mr. Osborne, I don’t have you down for an appointment today.” He shuffled over to the window.

She told him again that she didn’t show an appointment for him. He pulled his smartphone out of his pocket. The calendar on his smartphone showed an appointment for that day. He was a bit agitated, so she told him she would check with another assistant. He returned to his chair and propped his hands on the umbrella.

She came out to the waiting room several minutes later to speak to Mr. Osborne. She informed him again that he didn’t have an appointment that morning. She said that he had called the week before and changed the appointment for the first week in March. He looked at her and said, “now, why would I call you and do such a thing? I need to see the doctor today.” She told him she would see what she could do and returned to her desk.

Mr. Osborne continued to sit with his hands on the handle of the umbrella. He put his head back against the wall and appeared to fall asleep. Several minutes passed, and she called to him. Again, she called his name several times, and he finally woke up and heard her. She told him they would make sure he saw the doctor.

About that time, my husband came out and we walked towards the door. Mr. Osborne looked like he had started napping again. I’m not sure how long he had to wait, but when we left, he was still sitting with the umbrella propped up, hands on the handle, head propped up against the wall.

For some reason, Mr. Osborne made an enduring impression on me. As we drove home, I wondered out loud if he drove himself to the doctor’s office himself and hoped he would get home safely. It also said that a confused mind must be scary – since he didn’t remember calling and changing his own appointment. At a red light stoplight, I turned and looked at my husband. I told him that I am so thankful that neither one of us have to sit alone in a waiting room.

I hope you enjoy this Bea-utiful Christian song called “God Made You For Me” which I dedicate to my soul-mate and loving husband who always tells me “Bea Positive” through all of the ups and downs.

Candlemas

Candlemas is a Christian holiday also known as “The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin” and “The Presentation of Jesus”. Described in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22-40), Joseph and Mary presented baby Jesus at the Temple 40 days (inclusive) after his birth. On this event, Mary completed the ritual of purification after childbirth and performed redemption of the firstborn son, Jesus.

Why do I bring this up, you ask? I suspect you have a 2015 calendar which marks February 2 as Groundhog Day. The origin of this U.S. event was first documented in a diary entry by James Morris on February 4, 1841. In the diary reference, Mr. Morris pens “if the groundhog sees his shadow he pops back for another nap, but if the day remains cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.” (Source: History Society of Berks County, Reading, PA).  The date that the groundhog “peeped out” was February 2 – Candlemas!!

So, on Monday, February 2, we will anxiously await to hear whether or not Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. We will also know the new reigning Super Bowl Champions. Now, you know that February 2 is Candlemas – 40 days after Christmas Day – the redemption of Jesus as Mary’s firstborn son and where Simeon prophesied the redemption of the world by our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Bea Positive and Bea Redeemed as we start a new week and new month.  Enjoy this Scottish poem about Candlemas, a forecast for the winter season:

If Candle-mas Day is bright and clear,

There’ll be two winters in the year.

If Candle-mas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candle-mas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day

Here’s to a Happy 2015!

With the new year just hours away, lots of people are trying to figure out their resolutions for the new year.  How about “let’s really have a happy new year”?

Here is a list of 9 things that Happy People tend NOT to do.  So, here’s to Bea-ing Positive and Happy in 2015!!

Happy people stay happy because they:

  1. don’t blame others for their problems.  So that means taking responsibility for your actions and your choices.
  2. don’t overact to the present moment.  Remember, “this too shall pass”!
  3. don’t use negative language.  Bea Positive!
  4. don’t feel trapped.  “There is a great future in front of you; you can leave your past behind.”  Joel Osteen
  5. don’t focus on a single passion or relationship.  Diversify and Bea Open to new things and people!
  6. don’t dwell on past failures.   As Joyce Meyer says “I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be”!
  7. don’t spend more time than necessary around unhappy people.  As they saying goes, “misery loves company”, which is truer than you might believe unless you’ve experienced it!
  8. don’t gossip.  Keep your word and confidentiality.
  9. don’t procrastinate.  “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”  William James

 

See http://goo.gl/6TJAET for the entire article “9 Things Happy People Don’t Do”

From our house to yours . . . Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Did you know?   (Source:  Wikipedia Thanksgiving)

  • In 1621, the Pilgrims with the help of Indians, survived their first bitter winter in America and yielded a bountiful harvest. They celebrated with three days of “thanksgiving” observance.
  • On November 26, 1789, President Washington proclaimed a nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.
  • In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated by all states on the same day, the last Thursday in November, to foster unity across the North and the South.
  • In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday to the fourth Thursday in November.

Historically, Thanksgiving has traditionally been a celebration of blessings of a bountiful harvest. Over the years, the holiday traditions have changed and been updated.  Of late, Thanksgiving Day is just another day off wedged between Halloween and Christmas.  I suspect if Jesse Watters did an interview for FOX’s “Watters World”, most people would probably say it’s “the day before Black Friday”.

In our house, Thanksgiving is still its own, special day.  We are fortunate to be able to spend another year with family and friends, celebrate and enjoy our blessings and share our bounty and blessings with others.

So, here’s to enjoying turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Le Seur peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, football, naps, left-overs and wishing we hadn’t eaten that last bite!

But, most of all, Bea Positive, Bea Thankful and Bea Blessed!

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Here is a story about an inspiring student, RT. Recently, I had the honor of teaching the last class in his 18-month Medical Assistant associate degree – college mathematics.  From the first day of class, RT admitted that math wasn’t his strongest subject but was bound and determined to learn and master math! Everyday, he would say “we gotta work our brains like we work our muscles!”

So what makes RT so inspiring?

  • RT is 47 years old and decided 18 months ago that he wanted to provide a better opportunity for himself and his family, so he went back to school.
  • He’s a divorced father with four children.
  • He worked 12-hour shifts, 7:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m., three days a week while coming to my class.
  • When he wasn’t working shift work, he was doing lawn jobs to make ends meet.
  • He also worked with a Care Giver service helping transport the elderly to and from physical therapy and hospital care.
  • RT is a certified fitness trainer and works out intensely. He plans to work-out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next summer during football training camp.
  • He never missed a day of class and came in every morning with a smile on his face.

When RT took the final exam, he was the last one to leave. He made the highest grade on the final exam, and he finished with the best overall grade in both math classes I taught that term.  Not bad for someone who was a bit apprehensive and anxious when he started math class.

RT is working on his externship now which is the last requirement before receiving his diploma. His dream is to have his own business using the Medical Assistant degree, fitness training and his own heart of gold. His goal is to help people recovering from surgery, sports injury, accidents or other physical limitations to have a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

I have no doubt that RT will be successful and will touch a lot of lives positively. And who knows . . . we could see the oldest walk-on player for the Tampa Bay Bucs next year!

Bea positive . . . because where there’s a will, there’s a way! Just look at RT!

It’s only superstitious if you don’t win!

The lucky penny

The lucky penny

Ahhhh …. Saturday college football and there were so many key SEC team match-ups. Thursday night, Oregon Ducks lost to Arizona in a major college football upset. Saturday afternoon when we left home, #12 Mississippi State was beating up on #6 Texas A&M. Alabama and Ole Miss were playing at 3:30 EST. Being the die-hard Auburn fan that I am, it’s so hard for me to pull for Bama – Go Rebels! Auburn had a legitimate chance to move up in the polls!!

I was dressed in my Auburn orange t-shirt from the 2010 National Football Championship and my lucky AU earrings. We had to run a few errands Saturday afternoon but would be back for the 7:00 p.m. EST kick-off between #5 Auburn and #15 LSU. As I stepped out of the car, I saw a shiny penny on the pavement. What the heck – it’s only superstitious if you don’t win!

Well, as the evening wore on, #4 Oklahoma Sooners lost to unranked TCU. Not long after the Auburn vs. LSU game started, I watched Ole Miss beat Bama and the Auburn crowd went wild!!! Auburn played their best game of the season (in my opinion) and beat LSU by a commanding 41-7 score.

So, I will continue my game day ritual and wear my lucky AU earrings, my orange and blue bracelet, and wear t-shirts that have only experienced Auburn football wins. The lucky penny . . . well, in my mind, that helped Ole Miss beat Bama!

Have a terrific week and remember to Bea Positive and War Eagle!!!

“I just want to grow old with you”

My husband wrote this beautiful poem not long after we were married 18 years ago.  For anyone who has found their soul-mate, I hope you enjoy and share the same sentiment.

 

“I just want to grow old with you

Walking through the sands of time.

Our footprints left side by side

With your hand held tightly in mine.

I want to watch you grow more beautiful

In the ways only you can do.

And be with you every minute I can.

I just want to grow old with you.

I want to make lots of memories

That bring a smile as they cross your mind.

I want to weave a spell over your heart

That will last ‘til the end of time.

I want to cherish each passing day

And share each moment with you.

And I want to love you forever and ever,

I just want to grow old with you.”

~ John Boxx

An Angel Named “Angel”

Friday afternoon, and we were trying to get our errands completed in order to avoid the back-to-school weekend shoppers. We completed our first errand and decided to grab a late lunch. Back in our old Trailblazer, I started the engine and shifted into Reverse. The gear shifter moved but wouldn’t Reverse. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t connect with any gear.
John tried and same result.  Slightly panic-stricken and frustrated, I started to cry. Stuck in Tampa, car un-driveable, hungry, and I wasn’t going to make my 4:00 appointment. John went back into the building, and asked to use their phone. In addition to the “dead car”, his cell phone died, too. Thankfully, we have AAA, and they sent a tow truck to take the Trailblazer to the “auto hospital”.
I collected my emotions, used my cell phone and called Enterprise rental car.  You know, “Pick Enterprise. We’ll pick you up.”  Within 30 minutes, I was picked up, driven to Enterprise, rented a car and headed back to meet John. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the tow truck leaving empty. Then John drove up next to me, and said “let’s go eat!”
We got to Mott & Hester Deli, ordered, and sat at a window-side table. That’s when John told me, “I’ve got a Bea Positive story for you.” Do you know the Bible verse about how God will give you double blessings for your trouble? Well, please read on.

The tow truck pulled up, and the driver asked John what was wrong. John told him about gear shifter sliding back and forth without engaging in a gear. The driver asked if he could take a look. He got in the car, tried the gear shifter, turned it off and crawled under the car. He was under the car for a minute or so, then crawled out from under saying “I’m getting too old for this.” He put the Trailblazer in gear and pulled it up to the tow truck.

John watched, and he assumed he was getting ready to load the car and tow away. The driver pulled the front wheels onto the bed of the tow truck, and used a chain and trailer to lift our car. Once the car was a few feet off the ground, he got back under worked a few more minutes. He got a screw driver out of the cab of his truck and what looked like a tube of super glue.

He looked at John and said, “I might be able to save you a couple hundred dollars” and got back under the car. He worked a few more minutes, crawled out and said, “we need to let it dry”. After a few minutes of chit-chat, the driver said, let me check it out. He crawled back under our car, came out, and said “I think you’re good to go.”
He lowered the Trailblazer off the tow truck, unhooked the chain, and backed it away from the truck. He told John, “there you go. Have a nice day.” There was no paperwork to sign. Very appreciative, John handed him a nice tip and that’s when he saw the driver’s name on his shirt:  A – N – G – E – L.

Talk about being blessed by an angel . . . this time by a tow truck driver named Angel.

Pint-Sized Hero

the daisy project

Do you remember playing “He loves me, he loves me not” when you were younger? In high school, my sister and girlfriends would pick a daisy, or some other flower with multiple petals to help determine whether or not the boy we had a crush returned the crush. We’d pluck each petal one-by-one and say “he loves me, he loves me not” hoping that the last petal was “he loves me”!

There is a young lady in the Tampa Bay area who took this little daisy game and made it into a wonderful charity giving back to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. She was touched by her friend who was receiving treatment for cancer. She lost her hair and like many kids in the hospital, can’t leave for weeks and months. Our little pint-sized hero wanted to find a way to help her friend as well as the other kids in the hospital.

Chloe, a 7 year old, collects toys, books, craft items, coloring books, anything to help the kids keep their minds off treatment.  She delivers the donations to the hospital. Her mission is to spread blessings from kids to kids and hopefully provide smiles and distractions from their treatment even for a few minutes. Most of all, she wants to remind them that no matter what “God loves them and will ALWAYS love them”.

In December 2013 and February 2014, our local Tampa Bay Fox affiliate recognized Chloe in their segment called “What’s Right with Tampa Bay”. Most recently, Chloe was chosen as a Top 10 Hero by BayCare Health Services “Kids Are Heroes” program. For more information on The Daisy Project, please “like” us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/thedaisyprojectblessings/
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/24770423/2014/02/19/the-daisy-project-aims-to-brighten-lives-of-hospitalized-kids

“Bea Positive” that at any age, you can have a positive impact on others. Seven year-old Chloe is our pint-sized hero in Tampa Bay. How about you . . . don’t you want to spread some blessings, too?

A Mother’s Prayer for Closure

 

This is not my usual post but a prayerful request asking for your help for a dear friend’s plea for closure and justice.  We continue to pray that someone will step forward with information on an untimely death of a young man. Please read and forward on to your network . . . Rob wasn’t alone when he went missing.  If you have any information or leads on the incident leading up to Robert Medley’s disappearance, please contact Tampa or St. Petersburg police departments.

Robert Medley - Unexplained Death

Robert Medley – Unexplained Death

I met “Mamma Jean” 6 years ago through Lost Angels Animal Rescue. We had adopted Yogi from Lost Angels Animal Rescue and reached out to find Yogi a companion. Mamma Jean had a little female Yorkie, Bambi, who was rescued from a puppy mill.

We adopted Bambi on a Sunday afternoon in July. Of course, Yogi went with us to make sure he “approved”. Yogi was a chow hound. As soon as he saw the stainless-steel refrigerator in the kitchen, he started “talking” and let Mamma Jean know that he wanted in the door.

Rob, Jean’s son, came downstairs and sat in the kitchen. He got the biggest hoot watching Yogi claw at the refrigerator and “talk” to us. Rob was a handsome guy and had a beautiful tan, muscled body — evidence of his love to work out.  His smile lit up the room.  He was also an animal-lover.  He loved the beach and loved to fish.

Fast-forward 6 years . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2014, concern started when she didn’t hear from her son. He was out with friends that night at The Getaway bar in Tampa, FL. He was last seen running down the beach away from the bar. Days went by with the anxiety and fear intensifying. Five days later, the nightmare became reality. Robert Medley was found dead in the waters off Gandy Blvd.

Another Sunday, this time, April 13, a “Celebration of Life” was held for Rob. The number of friends and family who attended were so many that an adjacent room was open to accommodate everyone. The stories and memories shared by friends and family confirmed the love and heartache of losing Rob — the loving man with a huge heart.

There have been no answers to the cause of his death. There are suspicious facts surrounding his disappearance and death. The Medical Examiner ruled Rob’s death as undetermined. There is an open investigation in progress in Tampa, FL

June 30, 2014, there are still no definitive leads on what happened. Every time I hear John Legend’s “All of Me”, I think about Mamma Jean, Morgan, the rest of his family and friends who still grieve. Rob was only 28 years old. His family, and especially his mother, need closure. They want to know that they have done everything to find out what happened to him on March 30, 2014.

 

Love With No Strings Attached!

It’s so common these days to hear about people and families struggling financially. Recently, a friend of mine experienced a financial set-back due to no fault of her own. She shared her recent experience because she said it was a perfect “Bea Positive”!  The story follows and shows that while pinching pennies herself, she shared a small token that will return many blessings to her and her husband — I Bea-lieve!

She shops at Sav-A-Lot to save a few pennies on her weekly grocery shopping trips. Her husband is working overtime trying to earn extra money. Not sure if any of you are familiar with Sav-a-Lot, but you bag your own groceries to help them provide lower prices.  So she had her bags with her.

While checking out, the cashier asked if she would like to have help bagging her groceries from two young boys at the end of the check-out. The boys had paper bags already set up waiting. Thinking they might be Boy Scouts trying to make some money, she let the boys bag her groceries.  While she had already decided to tip the boys, she noticed one of the boys was wearing a church T-shirt.  When she reached into her wallet, all she had were a couple of One’s and the next was a $10.00 dollar bill. The thoughts that came immediately to mind: “my husband will think I’m nuts”, “we don’t have much money and are having to start over” . . .  Despite the thoughts, she handed them the $10 dollars and asked the boys if they could split between them. Their eyes lit up like they were getting gold!

When she got home, she realized they actually packed the groceries quite well. And then at the bottom of the bag she found a little card:

“We hope this small gift brightens your day. It’s a simple way of saying that God loves you – no strings attached.”

God loves you -- no strings attached!

God loves you — no strings attached!

There are some people you know that even after many years have passed, love you for you . . . no strings attached.  “Bea Positive” that even a small gesture or token can impact someone’s life forever!

The Wonder and Beauty of Nature!

“He who shall hurt the little wren shall never be beloved by men.” ~William Blake
I witnessed the most awe-inspiring lifecycle of a little Carolina Wren family. The wren chose our begonia flower pot just outside our back lanai. I first noticed the nest when I was watering the flowers. There were already 5 speckled eggs waiting for “mama wren” to return!

Carolina Wren Nest & Eggs

Carolina Wren Nest & Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was fortunate to video the first little wren, two little wrens waiting on “mama” and the last fledgling before he/she took flight!

Bea-utiful and definitely a Bea Positive worth sharing!  I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Possible!

My self-proclaimed motto for life is “Bea Positive”!  Throughout my personal and professional career, I have overcome and experienced many wonders that most people considered impossible.  In fairy tales, there are fairy godmothers.  In life, there is the Trinity with whom “all things are possible”.

There is a cute little song written by Rodgers & Hammerstein from “Cinderella” called “Impossible”.  If you know the story about “Cinderella”, she was ostracized by her step- sisters, and laughed at for her “silly dreams” about living as a princess.  I sing this little song to remind me that  Impossible things are happening every day! Just Bea Positive and Bea-lieve! 

I hope you enjoy!

Lyrics from Rodgers & Hammerstein “Impossible”

It’s Possible! For a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage!

It’s Possible! For a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage!

And four white mice are easily turned to horses!

Such fol-der-ol and fid-dle-dy dee of course, is quite Possible! It’s possible!

For the world is full of zanies and fools Who don’t believe in sensible rules

And won’t believe what sensible people say

And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up Impossible hopes

Impossible things are happening every day! It’s Possible!

Share a Little Bit of Love Everyday

We worry so about the big things as we make our way through life.
We fill our cup with ambitions ’til it overflows with strife.

Our sights are set on lofty goals. We’re told we must aim high,
and all the while we’re chasing life, it just passes us by.

You see, it’s all the little bits that quietly make up the whole,
all the little unnoticed pieces that fit together to become our soul.

But you have to seek the little bits, and they’re not that hard to find.
They’re as simple as a friendly smile or a warm word that’s kind.

So don’t forget to take the time to pick this fruit each day,
’cause just a little bit of love goes a long, long way.

~John Boxx

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana

Tomorrow we remember June 6, 1944 and the significance of this day in World War II history.  I share this because . . . Nazis existed, the Holocaust was real, we helped set free a suffering humanity, I pray there is not another World War.  I’ve included General Eisenhower’s D-Day order and President Roosevelt’s prayer to the American people.  Both are chilling and sobering to read 70 years later and realize the price paid by our American soldiers and the debt we owe them for our freedom.

~General Dwight D. Eisenhower giving the D-Day order on June 6, 1944:

“You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely….The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

~Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944 prayer to the American people:

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.  And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.  Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogance. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the scheming of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

 

“Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side”

“Spreading sunshine” are random acts of kindness, increased community involvement, starting or growing your tithes, spending more time in your Christian Walk, being a loving person. “Stormy experiences” are financial set-backs, physical manifestations, emotional upsets, and worst-case, soul-destroying experiences.  I’ve realized “spreading sunshine” and blessings in other people’s lives, “storms” come fast and furious.

We have recently increased our volunteering and assistance to several organizations which is very fulfilling to us. Last week, for vacation, we planned to spend time with good friends and attend an inspirational seminar.  Well, Thankfully, what we experienced on vacation are manageable “storms” and not “full blown disasters”.  I thought I would share a few:

  • Highly sensitive to soaps, cleaners, etc. I travel with my own soap, towel, pillowcase. Day 2, my face started to break out. Day 3, the hives spread to my chest, abdomen and back! Despite the lavender, baking soda and lotions, I wanted to crawl out of my skin from the itching!
  • We travel with our 3 “fur babies”. Less than an hour from the hotel, Matthew started whining which means “I need outside — NOW!! An exit was 1 mile away and seemed like an eternity! Matthew tried really hard to hold it but spit up on his blanket, so it was a short stop.
  • Back in the car, headed to the hotel . . . realizing too late, I missed I-85 and ended up on I-285. Within a couple of miles, the interstate became a parking lot! I maneuvered off the interstate, used back routes adding an extra hour to our trip.
  • Finally at the hotel, we settled in and tried to “chill” for a while. John realized that his glasses weren’t on his face, and they weren’t in the car. Well, we only made 1 stop.  Apparently during the mayhem of Matthew’s emergency stop, John lost his pricy prescription glasses.
  • Friday night at dinner, my throat was scratchy. By Saturday morning, it spread to sinus congestion and nagging cough on top of the hives. Between the nose-blowing, croupy cough and itchy hives I wore myself out and missed the seminar.
  • Sunday, after driving 7 hours, we arrived home to a flooded pool, dead pine tree limbs that filled 2 garbage bags, grass a foot high – a result of real thunderstorms in Tampa.
  • Today was trash day and yard waste day. While the tree limbs were collected, the new energy-efficient “claw” trash truck managed to only pick up half the trash bags.
  • And to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet with the Christian cross from my very dear friend snapped and broke. I gathered all of the beads and placed it in my wallet. If I can’t wear it, I’ll carry it!
and to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet snapped and broke!

and to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet snapped and broke!

So the “fur babies” are back to their routine, we drained the pool, John’s eye appointment is next week to get new glasses, we’ll have to smell the stinky trash for another few days, my hives are finally calming down, and I will fix the bracelet and wear again soon!

Moral of this story:  “Bea Positive”! There will always be storms, but God will send a rainbow and sunshine afterwards, so “keep on the sunny side of life”!

The 50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

50¢ Hat that brought a Million Dollar Smile

We had our annual community garage sale last week. The little gray-haired lady pulled up in our driveway in a car that could use servicing. She could be anyone’s grandmother. She was dressed modestly with a white sweater, bright aqua skirt, white ankle socks with brown sandals.

She smiled and walked towards us.  She said “good morning, isn’t it a gorgeous day!”  She was out for a “shopping spree”, and we were her first stop. She lives alone and is on a fixed income. She likes to shop at garage sales because “you never know when you’ll find a hidden treasure”.   There wasn’t much that interested her until she saw the hat rack with hats.  The kind-of-beige-black plaid hat with a large black bow caught her eye. It was one of my favorites for a long time.

While she considered it, she asked “does the bow go in the back?” I said yes and helped her put it on her head. “How do I look? You know I have a round face, and I don’t want it to make my face look fat.” I told her she looked very stylish, and the hat was perfect for her.  She was tickled but had to see for herself. We had a very large mirror leaning against the garage door that had not sold in 2 days. She stood in front of it and turned her head from side-to-side, then smiled some more. If I didn’t know better, I would say she blushed when John told her the hat was made for her!

She asked “how much?” and was so excited to hear it was 50¢ She handed me two quarters and kept admiring herself in the mirror. She said “you’re right! It doesn’t make my face look fat. I’m going to wear it the rest of the day”. She chatted a few more minutes, and then got in her car to “shop” the rest of the neighborhood.

Some people shop at garage sales for the “thrill of the barter”. Most of those who stopped by our house last weekend can’t afford to shop anywhere else like this little lady. She looked so cute walking up the neighbor’s driveway in her new hat, and I couldn’t resist taking a picture. “Bea Positive” was blessed to see her million-dollar smile.

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names . . .”???

All of you have probably heard and recited the rhyme “sticks and stones may break by bones, but names will never hurt me”.  It sounds good and you think by saying it, it’s true.  There have been several instances in national news lately.  Here in FL, a young lady committed suicide because of the constant name-calling and bullying from classmates.  Most recently, we hear about an NFL football player who left the team because of the hurtful, shameful insults and verbal abuse.

I’ve been called many names growing up and in my adult life, and they have all hurt.  The emotional trauma and breaking of your spirit can’t be explained only experienced.  Thankfully, my experiences never drove me to suicide but the depths of depression were real and seemed permanent.  The good news that I want to share is that you can endure and will overcome.

I have a beautiful Japanese mother and dad who is a southern gentleman from Alabama.  As you might imagine, growing up was a bit of a challenge in school.  When I reflect now, I realize that the name-calling and being singled out enabled me to grow thicker skin with each experience.

I went to school in the 70’s.  Some of the names I remember include “half-breed”, “Chink”, “Jap”, “Nip”.  I don’t remember the year, but when “Tora, Tora, Tora” came out, the name-calling was relentless.  Yeah, the kids were mean and cruel, and I certainly didn’t understand why they picked on me.  I just remember the taunts in the hallway and notes being passed to me in class.

So now, here we are in 2013.  Some kids are still mean and cruel.  Unfortunately, they don’t just name-call to your face but “share” on facebook, twitter, text messages, etc.  My frustration and anger is that there is no intervention until tragedy happens.  The “mess in Miami”, as it’s now called, is an example where name-calling, insults, etc. came from an adult.  The young man who is the “bully target” checked into a hospital because of emotional trauma and left the football team.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  No matter how many times you say it out-loud or to yourself, trust me, NAMES HURT down to the soul.

I don’t know how to stop mean people.  I share my story because I choose to “Bea Positive” and keep a good attitude no matter the circumstance.

So my question to all of you . . .

  • What do you do when you suspect or see someone being bullied?
  • Do you stop it or do you tolerate it?

Angry Irma

Roger and I had planned this vacation/honeymoon for weeks. We planned to leave on Friday, 9/15 to head to the Smoky Mountains. While we started preparing our trip, the news was dominated by a strong, angry Hurricane named Irma.

Over a week before the hurricane hit FL, the warnings began. The governor declared a state of emergency in advance. We ventured out the day after Labor Day to stock up on water, batteries and charcoal. The local Home Depot was already wiped out — every generator had been sold, no charcoal, no D batteries, no water. As we drove home, I called two Publix grocery stores and Family Dollar – no water.

The next day I went out to find gas, water and batteries while Roger mowed grass and readied the property. The very large, very busy Shell station was completely out of gas. I stopped at a small Citgo station (yes, I was desperate) and managed to find enough to fill up the Jeep and gas can. While filling up, I tried 5 more stores and still couldn’t find water, so I drove home.

Once at home, I told Roger what was going on. We decided then that we needed to leave because evacuation orders were mandated in south FL. I started making phone calls. Jim at Sleeping Dog Cabins had no tenants in the cabin we were renting and allowed us to arrive a week early. I called 6 hotels in south GA only to hear “we’re totally sold out”. I moved north on I-75 until I found a vacant room in Tifton. They weren’t pet-friendly but due to the mass exodus from FL, they waived the pet policy.

morning, I packed while Roger battened down the porch, patio and deck. We planned to leave around 1:00 which would give us plenty of time to drive to Tifton in daylight. We took all of the meat and veggies from the refrigerator and freezer in case we lost power. We packed the Jeep, loaded Frankie and Teddy and headed north.

made great time on U.S. 98 and kept saying we’d probably pick up some traffic when I-75 and the FL Turnpike merged. WRONG!!!!! As soon as we approached I-75, we saw the slow-moving cars and trucks. For the next 200+ miles, Roger used the brake more than the gas pedal! Multiple gas stations were out of gas or had cars snaked around for blocks as far north as Gainesville. Rest areas had signs “at capacity” with cars parked along the rest area entrance and interstate as families tried to stretch their legs and relieve their full bladders.

Nine hours later, we arrived at our hotel normally a five hour drive. We were frazzled to say the least putting up with stop and go traffic for 297 miles, a sick Teddy throwing up and accidentally pooping on his pillow. (It’s in a trash can somewhere along I-75.)

We got dinner to go and decided to leave early in the morning to get ahead of the rest of FL’s evacuees. Thankfully, no gas shortage in Tifton, so we filled up and hit I-75. For the first 10 miles or so, I actually drove the speed limit. Unfortunately, it was very short-lived and we saw the sea of red tail lights ahead of us. We experienced stop and go traffic all the way through north Atlanta. AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

After another nine hour day, we finally arrived to The Wildflower. We unpacked the car and let Frankie and Teddy run around the yard. As we enjoyed the outside bar, Roger said “listen”. It was perfectly tranquil, birds chirping, no honking horns, no sirens, no 18-wheelers and no interstate hum below our seats. Let vacation begin . . .

The Sunflowers

She comes out every morning with her coffee and sits on the deck. Her husband built the deck just for her because he knows how much she loves to watch and listen to the birds and other wildlife. She has always loved nature and her backyard provides solace and serenity every day.

She planted me and my 14 other buddies from seed back in May. We basked in the warm sun and drank in the daily rainfall. Each day she watched us grow taller and stronger. And then one morning just a few weeks ago, she walked out on the deck with her coffee and we surprised her! The night before, we all opened up in full glory and faced the sun as it rose in the east.

As she listened to the cardinals, blue jays, titmice, house finches, woodpeckers and Carolina wrens, she turned and looked our way. She saw me and my fellow sunflowers in full bloom! With help from the morning breeze, we swayed gently waving “good morning” to our lady friend. Then a beautiful smile came across her face as she gazed at our bright yellow “faces”. Our purpose has been fulfilled. All is well . . . let another beautiful day begin.

“We Are That Bread”

Two years ago we lost a great friend, father, grandfather, brother and husband. I didn’t think it was possible to move on and push through the darkness, but I did. In fact, God was merciful and helped me find a new love and be able to write a new chapter and book for my life. In the meantime, I wanted to share an impactful message from JB.

On August 22, 2015 what would have been our 20th wedding anniversary was instead a Memorial Service. John’s son, Jeri, shared a short but very moving memory of his dad.

JB spent over 30 years of his life working for Publix Supermarkets. Even after retiring, he was always excited to walk through the grocery store looking for new items and shopping for groceries! It was heaven for me because I despise shopping and especially shopping for groceries!

A special memory from Jeri was working with his dad in the grocery store. On one particular day, they walked the bread aisle where his father taught him one of his greatest lessons. Walking through the bread aisle, JB noted that there was one loaf of bread left on the shelf. He told Jeri, “if there was one loaf of bread left in the aisle, you know you had enough. If there wasn’t any, you don’t know how many people went without.”

It’s taken two years for me to come to terms with this, but as Jeri said, “we are that bread.” Those of us who were fortunate to know JB realize what those four words mean. He left enough “bread on the shelf so that you know you had enough.” His smile, kindness, compassion, love, and especially his wit provided enough. We who had the opportunity to know him and love him are enough. On August 1, 2015, he had done enough. His job was done . . . he can rest in peace. All of us who knew JB for a few moments, days, months, years, know that “we are that bread”. We will continue his legacy and make sure “no one goes without.”

“That’s Why They Call It Fishin’ and not Catchin’”

Finally, we had time to take a much needed honeymoon/vacation. It was Valentine’s Day week and our first together. We headed south to Ft. Pierce and the Atlantic Ocean for sun, waves and fishing!
On Valentine’s Day, we headed out early to the pier right outside our room. It was the first time Roger had been fishing in almost 7 years – something that he loves to do. He had his Shakespeare fishing pole that I gave to him for Christmas. I had my bright Jewel pink, LED blinking girlie fishing pole. We stopped at Capt. Joe’s bait and tackle shop and got shrimp bait. We also got a couple of ball caps to shade our faces from the sun!
So, I had practiced casting in our backyard, so I felt ready. The only problem – I was not touching a live shrimp to place on my hook! Roger helped me out, and we casted out waiting with baited breath for the big catch!
For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a patient person. I didn’t expect to cast my hook and bait to just sit there and bob with the waves while I stared at the pole to see if it was moving. It didn’t take long for me to get bored. Roger was a bit perturbed and told me to pick up my camera and he would man my pole. So I did . . . .
I managed to bring in probably a pound of seaweed, two pieces of coral reef and I was done. Roger kept casting all the while feeding the savvy fish in the ocean with our live shrimp. And then it happened . . . Roger saw a major tug on his pole. He said, “baby, I’ve got a fish!”. I had my camera and phone ready for the big catch. About 20 feet from the pier, we saw the prize – but it wasn’t a fish but an octopus! (see photo)
The following day was almost a repeat of the first. However, I have to admit that I managed to catch something. Roger had gone back to the room for sweatshirts. I decided to surprise him and cast out and try my luck. As I flung the pole back to cast, it stopped short. I turned around only to find my hook caught on the pier rail. I frantically tried to remove the hook all the while looking around hoping no one saw me. And just as I got the hook free, Roger said, “honey, it looks like you caught a really nice rail fish”. Ha! Ha! Ha! I was mortified, but he got the biggest laugh of the day!
Well, I sent photos back and forth to my sister, mom and dad and facebook friends. In response to my coral and seaweed “catches”, my witty sister exclaimed, “well, that’s why they call it fishin’ and not catchin’”.
It was our first fishing excursion together. Afterwards, Roger threatened to never take me fishing again. We’ll see. . . I can be very relentless and persistent. The best part of the whole experience is that I was able to spend quality time with my new husband with his life-long passion – fishing!

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