Stuff Around the House

It’s that time of year at our house. The time of year when everything we own begins to fall apart. Yep. When it’s that time , there is no winning against home products. I have to admit this time has lasted a lot longer than previous eras.

Okay, so one day when everyone (read the whole world) was at my house, the Keurig coffee pot decided to quit making coffee. I have one of those small ones, red, if you please, not the full size Keurig. Our full size Keurig lasted about three years ,which is a record for me and a coffee pot. But, this little red Keurig I bought that day lasted only a couple of months. I would put the water and the coffee in the pot, turn on brew and nothing. I’d try again and it would brew. The next time, nothing, then, brew. This went on and on until I finally got an old fashioned (which not so long ago was the standard pot) coffee maker. Oh my! I was so spoiled by the Keurig. Perfect coffee everytime. Standard pot? Not so much. Either it was too strong (my husband loves strong coffee) or it wasn’t strong enough.  How did I ever survive with a Mr. Coffee pot? The world will never know, I’m afraid. At any rate, my Keurig finally just gave up the ghost. Or so I thought.

As I was preparing to write this  blog, I was looking for images of things that had broken around our house. I wanted this to be a pretty visual blog entry so everyone would know the chaos that has ensued at our house. What I found was a photo of a broken Keurig with someone sticking a paper clip in the orifice. I brought up the photo and there was, lo and  behold, an article about Keurigs you thought were dead. I read the article in hopes of reviving my poor little Keurig (and me). According to the article, I was to put said paper clip in the orifices and turn it round and round, thus dislodging any bits of coffee, debris, minerals from water, etc from the orifice. Then, I was to descale it with vinegar and water. I was somewhat sure nothing would help poor old Mr. Keurig, but to my surprise, when I put the water and vinegar in, it started  boiling the water straightaway. Previously, this step was skipped in the brewing process, and so no brewing took place. But, I had brewing going! Still skeptical, I let it brew with the water and vinegar, turned it off, poured out the vinegar water from the cup, filled up the Keurig and did it again. IT WORKED! But, I was still not convinced and ran it two more times before trying to brew a cup of coffee. The coffee was made and it was the perfect cup. Mind you, I’m still a bit skeptical that it is well and truly fixed. But, we’ll see with time.

So, my original blog post will stay in my head, but if you have a Keurig and you think it may be broken, get a paper clip, stick it in the orifice that punctures the coffee container, wash everything you can wash, use half water, half vinegar and wash that thing out!  For those who already knew that, no “i told you so’s please. I already feel kinda dumb that I didn’t know to do that, and kinda smart because I fixed it! I’m so excited.

Note to my husband: Honey, you make the best coffee when you know it’s for me, but when it’s for you, it’s just tooo strong for me. But, I love you!

 

 

An Interesting Week on the Jury

I have been so quiet lately because I’ve been so very busy these past couple of weeks. First, I had a book signing at Half Price Books in Rockwall, which went very well and the folks at Half Price Books treated me like a star or something. Many thanks to those who came out to see me. I had so much fun . One thing that was really cool was that a guy I played violin with in Junior High and High School Orchestra came out to see me! Thanks Steve, for doing that. It was so amazing to see him and he hasn’t changed a bit in the past 40 years! He looks just like he always did. Me? Well, I’ve changed quite a bit. For one thing, I was such a skinny little girl and teenager… really until I started taking meds for bipolar disorder. Now, I’m not… well, not so thin these days. But, I feel better! Anyway, I digress.

I got this jury summons about a month ago for this past week. I’ve never served on a jury and thought it might be interesting to serve on it. Well, I showed up Monday at 8:00, along with about 49 other people. I met five new friends who seemed like old friends after it was all over. Three of us got picked. The case started and although I can’t talk about it, suffice it to say it’s not as interesting as a murder case, but it is a bit interesting… in places. Usually , the afternoons are the best!  Can’t say anymore about it, but I’ll revisit this subject another day.

I am stoked to say that my good friend, Jackie Smith, is reading my new book , The Conservative Congregant. It is not finished yet, but she is helping me with it and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m excited to say she likes it!!! I’ll tell you more about it as time goes on, but I’m hoping to get it out in September. I’m super excited about it and hope you are, too.

Well, that’s all for now! Talk soon and have a safe Memorial Day weekend!xoxox

Pen Pals and Boyfriends

When I was in about fourth grade, we were strongly encouraged to find a penpal. I’m not sure how the penpals were chosen, but  being an Anglophile even at that early age, I wanted one from England. I chose a girl named Sheila Collis. She lived in Manchester, England and I couldn’t wait to get started. We wrote for several years and I learned that our English was not England’s English. Imagine my 4th grade amazement when Sheila would use words like skint, bonnet, petrol!  For the most part , I was left guessing what the words meant, but because the sentences in which they were used were so clear, I had no real problem sorting out the meaning. All those years we wrote each other, we dreamed of being able to meet one day. Alas, it was not to be. By the time I got to England for the first time, I’d lost touch with her and I wasn’t going to be anywhere near Manchester.I did, however, gain a new penpal from Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire named Mike Anthorp. He had the most adorable little girl named Toni. I had a daughter named Amanda who had stayed home with her granny while I went jetsetting. We wrote for a long, long time until I lost touch with him.

All this was but practice for the time I met my husband, Stephen, at Tom Thumb, the grocery store in which I worked. He was in the States to attend Southern Methodist University and they were on their Christmas break when he came into the store and asked for a “packet of Mahlboros, please.”  Here was my cue.

“Where are you from?”

“Scotland, originally, but I went to school in England,” he said

“Oh! I just came back from England. You HAVE to stay and go on break with me so I can talk to you about the places I went- nobody else knows where I’m talking about,” the words spilling out of my mouth as fast as they could as if the swift speech would deter him from declining.

“Allright then,” he said willingly.

I got my friend to cover the tobacco bar for me and we walked over to the deli and sat down. He asked me what made me go to overseas and I explained I had met a guy in Pizza Inn once who was over on business. We became pen pals (that pen pal thing really works for a person) and wrote for a few years. He invited me to visit and my best friend and I went .

“Where did you stay?” Stephen asked.

“Newport Pagnell,” I said proudly. I had so loved the little town and he was making fun of it.

“Newport Pagnell? Why would you stay there? It’s a petrol station and that’s it.

I laughed and flirted , “It is not!”

And with that, we started dating. So, I want to thank my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Dunn for giving us pen pals to write. I will never forget the anticipation I felt going to the mailbox hoping and praying it was the day I’d get a letter from Sheila and later on, Ron, then Mike Anthorp and Toni Anthorp and her little friend, Georgina Willis.

I just want to say to teachers everywhere- encourage your students to have pen pals. Not only do they learn a different culture, they make lifelong friends, memories and more.

airmail envelopes made the letters get there fast
airmail envelopes made the letters get there fast

Ringing in 2015

My visit with my daughter

Amanda.
Amanda.

came to an end in late 2014. Yesterday morning, as a matter of fact. We drove her to the airport a bit bleary eyed, but none the worse for wear. We all drug ourselves out of bed at 5 a.m.,tossed coffee down our throats and left for Dallas-Ft. Worth airport at 5.30. I had made an error when choosing her flight back home, thus making her have to leave at 7:05 a.m , arriving in New York for a three hour layover and then flying home to Michigan at 4. Bless her heart, she travelled all the live long day. I bet I’ll look more closely next time I make reservations. But, she was gracious and forgiving about it. It was a good visit with her and I hope it’s not a year til I see her again. We had a lot of fun and giggled quite a lot. She finally met her first and only niece and they look quite a bit alike! Pretty cool.

Later on, my husband- Stephen and I , watched a movie . He fell asleep. Today, he played Yahtzee with me- a big deal because he hates games. We then went to the store, bought  Lobster Bisque soup, sandwich stuff, pate and other things people only eat during special occassions. We then began to watch a movie and I fell asleep! I liked the movie- I just feel so tired. We have had a whole day and a half together and it has been bliss.

I hope you and yours have had a grand celebration of the new year- no matter how you may have celebrated. I have no idea how this year is going to pan out, but I’m hoping for a peaceful one for all. I am waiting for the day we all decide we have had too much violence and end it. I’m sure I’m dreaming, but wouldn’t it be nice? If it can’t be peaceful in the world, I’m going to do my best to make sure it’s peaceful in my neck of the woods. How bout you?

Happy New Year to all and to all a good night!

Not in Control

“He’s just going to die- there’s no cure,” a doctor told , explaining my son has cystic fibrosis.Imagine someone saying that after giving birth 9 weeks prior. Not just anyone,either, but a doctor – one who is used to delivering this kind of news and apparently finds it an easy task after all these years diagnosing children. Perhaps he had become immune. I don’t know.

Thus began my journey to keep my son from dying. Never stopped

Micah today- doing well and happily married .
Micah today- doing well and happily married .

to think it was not in my power to keep Micah from dying. It was God’s deal. Why did he choose me? Why did he choose Micah? Why did I wonder that? I was so angry with God. So angry that any child would be diagnosed with any disease and the parents having to hear what the doctor god had to say- hearing the death sentence pronounced on a helpless, innocent baby.

I call him the doctor god because he came across as if he knew everything about everything. He made pronouncements about our baby- about other’s babies. Condemning them to death, perhaps  because he really felt helpless to do anything for him. But, it was never his deal. It was God’s deal. It still is.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a disease of the lung and endocrine system . The mucous found in all of our bodies are usually thin and slippery. In a child with CF, this mucous is thick, sticky and loves hanging out in the lungs of these kids. Pneumonia is rampant and scar tissue forms. The pancreas, seemingly lazy, is just really not equipped to digests fats in the diet and digestive enzymes are needed to digest food. Breathing treatments must be employed to keep the lungs clear and mucous free. Some kids have low lung function, making it difficult to breathe and sometimes gasping instead.

My baby boy was very sick the first year of his life. I was told on his birthday the first year the doctors had not thought he would live that long. Not even a year! The life span used to be 10 years old. Then 16. Now, the life span of a child with CF may be over 35 years. I knew a man who was about 80 when he passed away. He had not been diagnosed with the disease until he was in his 30’s. CF is unpredictable. Some kids may not live long at all, some may live a long, almost symptom-free life. It’s still God’s deal.

I began to explore my thoughts about why God allows these things to happen. I believe things happen for a reason. For me, I came to the conclusion this baby was sent to teach me how to take the the spotlight off me because it’s not all about Paula. He was sent to teach me patience and acceptance and love – real, unconditional, frightening, risky love. Risky. The risk of losing my boy was all too real. I knew that the love would never be lost even though I was afraid to put my heart on the line for him. How could I not love him- he drew me in- and I couldn’t help but love him .

I am grateful God sent me this amazing young man. It’s been hard at times, but my son has lived and thrived when they said he wouldn’t.  He graduated elementary, jr. high and then high school. He’s funny and smart and funny some more. He’s taught me to loosen up, lighten up and enjoy every minute of life. Most of the time now, I can do that. I did not do that before him.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- God puts people in our lives – loans them to us- to teach us things we may not otherwise bother to learn. Sometimes, it takes dire circumstances to learn the things we must, the things we should . It was so for me.

Thank you God for giving me a sweet reminder of You in my son, Micah.

Learning Church Without Walls- Come and See Weekend

Our flight into Philly landed about 3 in the afternoon -Friday. After obtaining a rental car, we were off to the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. We started out about 3.30 p.m and reached our destination through many neighborhoods, roads -twists and turns via Lyn’s telephone GPS. Why the GPS didn’t lead us through the main thoroughfares, no one knows. It led us off the highway and into the abyss that are the streets of Philly. Tourists with no idea where we were going. A true adventure , if I ever saw one. Frustration mounted as the GPS led us from one turn to another. Something was said, someone cried. Everyone tired.

Eventually, we got to the Best Western where Lyn and Tom checked in and then by 6 o’clock to the Seminary for the conference on serving an unhoused and housed communities. Some people may call the population we serve homeless. They may be without houses, but they always have a home within the church and with God.

The first night of the “come and see” was a time of getting to know the others, finding out where in the United States they were from and what their ministry entailed and dinner. Oh my. Dinner. Real Philly Cheesesteaks, Real Philly pizza, Real Philly pretzels. I was in heaven and had not even died yet! A glass of wine to top it off and I was set to go. It was a wonderful evening, but I was exhausted. Knowing how difficult it is for me to be civil while exhausted, I went to my room and got ready for bed- hung out -being mostly quiet- well, except for calling my husband and daughter.

It was a very quiet night for me – no howling coyotes, no howling, barking dogs , braying donkeys-the music  of my soul-nothing but quiet. I had to get out of bed , turn on the music and begin walking in place and then around the room for a few  minutes. I read my facebook and email and finally fell asleep.

Saturday morning, we had interesting  and challenging sessions with topics such as focusing on criminal justice, social enterprise, trauma and the subject of racism, homophobia and sexism in our congregations. A key to being able to serve your congregation in a way that benefits them best is to know them. Know who they are, what they have been through and then you can sort out how best to help them.

It’s Sunday now and today, we will go to the parkway in Philadelphia at 3 and worship with the people of the Welcome Church. I know it will be a great experience and I can’t wait. I have found a passion in this ministry such as I have never had before for or in church. I guess I have just found my niche.

In the next post, I will be writing about the service and the plane ride home! Have a mahvelous day!10359221_10203767165234526_5540952237518008767_n (1)1779976_10203767164954519_1900002060732461418_n

seeing Philly from the car.
seeing Philly from the car.

What About My Life?

Question-Mark-Photos

Steven Farquharson, one of the bloggers I follow, wrote in “Design Your Days to Design Your Life” he didn’t know where his life was going. I got to thinking about that and I wonder if any of us really ever know. As Steven states, he “has goals, plans, but no way to know whether any of them will work out. ”  I felt I had to write about this because I never knew what my life was going to be about, what I was going to do with it, but that I wanted to make some kind of mark while I’m here. The problem was – I never really believed I would live past 30 anyway to plan any kind of life. I thought I would have killed myself long before I was 30. A diagnosis of bipolar is not really a happy-let’s-plan-my-life-now kind of diagnosis. Life is uncertain at best- unpredictable, but with bipolar- even more so. Now, don’t misunderstand- I’m not whining and I will eventually get to my point.

There was a time- in the 70’s when I wanted to be a medical technologist, then a radio news personality. I worked in grocery stores, baby stores, I worked for a time at Raytheon as a person who obtained clearances for others. I’ve done alot. I thought -in my teens- that I wanted to be some kind of missionary- was sure God had called me to help out somewhere with someone. I thought that meant I would go to some kind of foreign country. In fact, what it meant was that I was to meet and marry a man from Scotland! Also what it meant, was I was to work with others who had autism, or the aged, or the homeless, or my own children.

When I look back on my life, I feel like I am a sort of Jack -of -all-trades -master of nothing. There are so many things I love doing, now that I have lived a good 27 more years than I thought I would. I love painting, art, crafting, writing, learning, riding my horse, loving my animals, being silly and loving passionately those I can help and those who will let me love them and help them.

So, we can plan our lives- we can say we are going to be this or that. It might work out- it might not. What is important – at least to me- is that I live right, according to my belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that I do right by my fellow man and that I “love my neighbor as myself.” That’s a successful life in my eyes. Great post,Steven.