“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.”

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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

Hope

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

Greatest Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day was always our favorite holiday of the year. My husband loved pampering me with gifts, flowers, romantic candle-lit dinners and always – cards. Some of my most cherished poems are written inside my Valentine’s Day cards. In one of our more penny-wise years, he hand-made a card out of a brown lunch bag – “love in a plain brown wrapper”.

I still have the first Valentine’s Day gifts and card he gave me – a coffee mug adorned with red hearts and “I Love You Today, Tomorrow, Forever” and a little cow that plays a lullaby. Some years he gave me tulips which we planted in our garden to enjoy each following spring. Some years I received roses or chocolates, and one year he surprised me with diamond earrings! But for every Valentine’s Day, he put so much thought into the cards, poems and gifts because he wanted to absolutely delight me.

Last March as we sat on our patio enjoying time together, he looked at me dismayed and very apologetically he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t have a romantic Valentine’s Day.” I told him it was the best ever, and I proceeded with the story.

I said, “I wore red, your favorite color for me, and the Three-Hearts brooch you gave me years ago. I sat at your bedside clinging to your hand and kept talking to let you know I was there. Around 11:00 a.m., Jeri stepped into the room, and your face lit up. At noon, two more visitors arrived. Despite the two-visitor limit for ICU, the nurses were compassionate and let all four of us stay in the room.”

I continued, “The other visitors were Pastor Dan and Elder Bob. Pastor Dan pastor pulled out a bottle of Zephyrhills pure spring water and proceeded to baptize you. Bob anointed you with frankincense oil, and we all joined hands and prayed for God’s merciful healing.”

At that point, tears were streaming down John’s face. He looked at me with his hands raised towards heaven and said, “Finally, I am a Child of the Most-high God!” You see, in all our years together, he had expressed his desire to be baptized. But like so many of us busy with life, we didn’t make it a priority.

Finally, last year on Valentine’s Day, John received the baptism he had always wanted. And even after our many romantic dinners, kisses, thoughtful presents, and cards, this turned  out to be the greatest gift either of us could have asked for – a gift that joined our souls even more completely than before.

[BF1]Add title in top right

“My Friend A Part Of Me”

Growing up in a military family, you move around every few years. While it’s exciting to experience new cities, states and even another country, it takes a toll on your relationships, especially friends. As young girls, my sister and I did our best to make new friends and adjust to our new location throughout our school years. As we grew older, it became more difficult emotionally when we had to move again and leave friends behind.

For four years, our family lived in a little town in central Illinois where my sister and I attended high school. I think from the first time I met Lori, we were friends. We took the same classes, even got sent to the principal’s office together. We spent countless hours together on weekends and during summer breaks. We played the piano together, baked chocolate chip cookies together, listened to “Dark Side Of The Moon” trying to figure out the meaning behind every song. We even got our driver’s licenses together.

Not long after high school graduation, our family moved once again. Even knowing that graduation sends you and your classmates in different directions, you hope to stay close enough to see each other every now and them. Some go off to college, some start careers, some start families. . . Despite your good intentions, it becomes harder to stay in touch. You become absorbed in climbing the corporate ladder, raising children, maybe raising grandchildren, and chasing your dreams. And yet, there are some people who stay with you throughout all of life’s changes and challenges.

Today, I found a book that Lori sent to me many, many years ago called “Flowers of Friendship”. There is a poem on page 67; she addressed it to me and signed it, “Your friend, Lori”. Despite all of my travels and life’s twists and turns, she has remained my friend, never judging me nor abandoning me. What a blessing for me to say that I have a life-long friend . . .

“I am a part of all whom I have met,”

So, friend of mine, you are a wholesome part;

Our precious visits, lingering with me yet,

Are flowers in the garden of my heart.

Your smiles like violets, sweet beyond compare,

Your words, carnations, cheering me on my way,

Your deeds like roses, rich with perfume rare,

Bring faith and hope and love every day.

So, friend of mine, thou’ you are far away,

Between us may stretch mountain, plain, or sea,

Yet by my side you walk and talk each day,

Because you are a precious part of me.

~Charles Elmer Chapler

This Gift I Give To You From Me

In this season where many spend countless hours trying to find that “perfect gift” for friends and loved ones, I want to share a beautiful gift that my dear husband shared with me. It wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper or a beautiful gift bag, but it was written from his heart and soul. It’s the reason for the season, love . . . true love. It’s the greatest gift you can give.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you share.

The presents are all opened from under the tree,

But there is still one more to you from me.

It can’t be wrapped with paper and bow

To hide its beauty so it won’t show.

For it shines brightly for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

I guess I should tell you in case you don’t know

That this gift is forever and each day it grows.

It grows bigger and stronger for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It’s like the bright sun at the breaking of day.

It guides my path as I search my way.

The direction it shows is plain to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It guides me to happiness, to love I’d never known.

It takes me to worlds I’d never before been shown.

What is this gift? I know you easily see,

This gift I give to you from me.

This gift is my LOVE, every ounce I have to give.

I pray that you will take it so that I may live.

My most precious possession, I hope you can see

Is this gift I give to you from me.

Please take my heart, my soul and my love.

Wrap them in your arms as gently as a dove.

Merry Christmas, my LADY, with true love from me.

This is the gift I give to you from me.

“Polar Bears Should Be Safe . . .”

Mary brought dinner and spent a few hours with me the other night. She handed me the pan, and said, “I’ve got one more thing in the car.” When she walked back in, I saw the red flowers, green pine needles and frosted pinecones, and choked back the tears. She told me, “I know you won’t put anything out, but I wanted you to have something for the season.” And then when she pulled it out of the box, I saw the polar bears.

We sat down and chatted for a while. I shared some of John’s poetry with her and more of our story. She remembered “My Precious Flower” from the memorial service. As she read the poems, she revealed her perspective to me and what she sees in his words.  She read a few lines from several poems out loud and urged me to listen, “I must have you by my side before I can be whole”, “nature’s picture of you and I, love’s bouquet ‘til time does end”, “let me love you for all time”, “arm-in-arm together for all eternity”.  She said, “don’t you see, you and John are one — forever.”

After a while, we decided to eat. As we walked into the kitchen, I said, “after we eat, I want to show you something.” She told me about how she and Zach rummaged through her pantry as they improvised the smoked turkey stuffed shells, making red sauce with diced tomatoes and pizza sauce! They were delicious and much appreciated.

After dinner, we returned to the great room. I went to the back bedroom and grabbed the polar bear. As soon as she saw it, she was completely dumbfounded. Again, I choked back tears. She told me about her trip to the florist shop. She said she was very deliberate and measured as she looked for a gift trying to avoid emotional triggers.

Mary told me how she didn’t want to get a “live” plant so there was no chance for it to wither and die. She steered away from angels, hawks, Christmas trees, little dogs, anything that she knew would probably evoke tearful memories. She picked up the polar bears and put them back down several times. She laughed and said the people in the shop probably thought she was nuts. After much hesitancy, she picked up the polar bears one last time. She thought to herself, “polar bears should be safe.”

John bought a little red rocking chair for the polar bear. We had it sitting in his office next to his desk. She apologized and then said, “for whatever reason, John chooses me to connect him with you.” She looked at me and added, “he even has a scarf around his neck.”

She stayed for a bit longer. Before leaving, she took a picture of the arrangement and my polar bear. Later that evening, she sent a text “love you . . . enjoy your arrangement from John!” She added that it “blew Zach’s mind” when she shared the picture and story.

Once again, John, my dearest angel, spoke to me through Mary . . . this time through little polar bears.

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