Those Tumbled Down Days

Some days, life seems to take a tumble, a misstep, or when it feels as if something is just plain off.  Days when our energy is low, but our worry is high.  Frustration, sadness, and fatigue sink in, and we wonder why. 

Most of us want to go back to bed, cover our heads, and pray that tomorrow will be an ‘on’ day and our joy will return.  However, I believe we need those troubled days to recoup, rethink, and redo.  Perhaps they are given to us to settle ourselves, be alone, and even shed a few cathartic tears. 

It has been said that writers pen their best works during episodes of depression.  I’m not sure how that works when you are buried under the covers, but the idea is plausible.  Depression and art often go hand in hand.  From Van Gough to Hemingway, those tumbled down days gifted the rest of us with beautiful words and breathtaking paintings.  Their talent rose to the surface in the quiet moments of loneliness and disillusionment.

Turn an off day to “on”

Recently, I was experiencing an “off” Tuesday morning.  Too much to do, worry, and lack of sleep threw me for a loop.  I received an email from a gentleman after he read his newspaper earlier that same day.   He wrote, “Your column this morning is just what I needed to face a grueling day! Thank you.”

How funny that his note helped me face my own grueling morning with a new resolve.  And that, my friends, is how life works.  Life flows better when we realize we all need each other to survive our tumbled down days. 

While on vacation, my sweet friend fell and broke her foot.  This is not the first time she has broken a bone due to a tumble, so I knew she was frustrated.  When she sent a message to all her friends telling them of her accident, her phone lit up with good wishes!  By the time I talked to her, that little cheery, laughing- at- herself attitude was again in full bloom.  We definitely need one another to heal from all falls.

Humor heals

Years ago, before emails and cell phones, I wrote my mother a letter after a crazy day with my new baby and a mischievous toddler, who persisted in providing trouble.  I comically explained the entire day but ended it with the word, “HELP!”

Mom called me after receiving the letter a few days later. 

“Honey, I am sorry you had such a terrible day, but I laughed until I cried as I read your story.”

“Gee, thanks Mom, I am glad I made your day happier from my misery!”  I kidded.

Then she thoughtfully responded, “Lynn, you really can write, you know.”

 I replied, “Mom, now you are the comic!”

When I was going through Mother’s papers after her death in 2010, I found that old letter and, in my grief, a much-needed smile crossed my face.  She had helped me indeed.

Meaning found in darkness

When nothing is going our way, and when life seems complicated, and trouble lurks, it is usually a signal for growth.  In our solitude, we find we may need to reevaluate our priorities, pray a little more, or even pen a novel. 

It is a monumental struggle to find strength and meaning during our dark times, but it is worth a mighty try.  Perhaps, in the end, you could discover that your darkness created light for someone else.  And that, in turn, motivates us all.

One of the most significant faults human beings have is our inability to call for help.  Our pride gets in our way, and fear of what others think of us rises above what is best for us.  Here’s the deal, every single person on earth always and will forever need aid at one time or another.  No one is immune from downtimes and arduous journeys. 

The trick is how we manage them.  Do we go to bed and hide, or do we face struggles head-on and grow from our downtimes?  If you look straight into the eyes of God, He will tell you to get up and do no matter how you feel. Ask for His aid, call a friend, or seek wise counsel. Out of the darkness, Van Gough painted “A Starry Night.”  And, out of lonely silence, Hemingway wrote sentences that echoed around the globe.

Never fall from tumbled down days, but instead, see what beauty you can create from standing tall through them.  When you do, you just might help another not to tumble. 

Happy Trails to You

Dad held my hand as we strolled toward the mammoth beast he wanted me to ride.  Since I was only five, the horse resembled a dinosaur but didn’t appear as if he could spew fire. Dad hoisted me into the saddle as I realized horses are sure larger in real life instead of those on television.  I tried not to be frightened, but my heart pounded.

The horse must not have taken too kindly to the kid on his back because before we took one hoof-sized step, he bucked. The next thing I knew was I was lying in the dirt gasping for air.   Yep, either the fall knocked the breath out of me, or I decided to quit breathing so I wouldn’t have to ride that dinosaur!

Luckily, the only thing that was hurt was my dream of riding horses like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans do on TV.   I even had a cowgirl outfit and boots to play the role of their kid one day!  Now, my illusions were shattered because I concluded that there was no way anyone would put me back in a saddle again.

Well, that was what I believed before Dad picked me up off the ground and put me back on the dinosaur as I screamed and kicked.  However, this time the horse didn’t buck.  A handler led the horse and me around the oval track while I begin to hum “Happy Trails to You” near the finish of my ride.  “Shoot, maybe I would be on the television with Roy and Dale by Saturday if I kept this up!” I imagined.

Find your Happy Trail

There were many times during my life when my dreams landed in the dirt.  Times when I felt nothing would make me believe I could put my shattered hopes back together.  Many of us have attempted to conquer fears, tame a beast, try and try, only to fail repeatedly.  When dad caused me to ride again so soon after I fell, he taught me that no matter what, if an attempt doesn’t kill you, just keep trying to find your Happy Trail.

My father often needed to push me.  From riding a bike to learning to drive a car to believe that I could do anything if I put my fear aside long enough to try.  Many times, I kicked and screamed through my panic.  I shook my head no and stomped my feet, but ultimately, I succumbed to his determination or mine.

Put fear aside and try

When the world began traveling by automobile, my grandmother decided car-driving was not for her.  She wanted someone else to drive her, or she would just walk to get what she needed.  She put her stubborn foot down and was unruffled by her husband’s attempts to plop her in the driver’s seat.

Granddaddy knew her reluctance was based on fear, but he finally coaxed her to get behind the wheel.  “Ok, but I am not learning to drive on the road!” Grandpa declared.  “Well, Nannie, where are you going to learn if not on the road?” He responded.

“In the front yard!”  She announced, putting that stubborn foot smackdown on the hardwood floor.

Granddaddy looked out the window noticing the yard was full of trees.  How was he going to keep her from running square into one?! 

She got in the old car with granddaddy by her side, while both feared for their lives.    She dodged trees, slammed on brakes, and swerved so hard she almost threw her husband out the passenger door. Yet, somehow in the tree-studded front yard, she miraculously conquered the beast.

When Grandpa was around age 95, her children finally took her little red Dodge away because of her worsening dementia.   When I visited her one day, I asked, “Grandpa, how are you feeling?”

“Shoot, I’d be fine if they would give me my Dodge Dart back!” She said as she stomped her foot on the tile floor.

Get back in the saddle

Sometimes when we conquer our fears to fulfill our dreams, we find complete joy like my grandmother did once she started putting the car on the road.  I assure you she never drove over 30 miles per hour, but that didn’t matter to her one bit.

There is not one day too late to put your worries aside and work a dream into reality.  Find the Happy Trail for you and remember to get back in the saddle if you fall.

Happy Trails to you, ‘till we meet again

Some trails are happy ones

Others are blue

It’s the way you ride the trail that counts

Here’s a happy one for you.

Dale Evans

The Green Hills of Heaven

“Grandpa! I had a funny dream last night!” I exclaimed while my grandmother prepared my breakfast. 

“What kind of dream did you have, sweetheart?” 

“I dreamed I was at the top of a hill where the grass was so thick and dark green it felt like plush carpet.  The sky was as blue as one could imagine, and just as I started to race down the hill in my bare feet, I grabbed your hand.  

Grandpa listened intently as I continued, “But, Grandpa, when I looked at you, you were my age!  Your hair was the color of amber, and your hands were youthful, showing no wrinkles or spots!” 

A wry smile illuminated my grandmother’s face as if she knew something I didn’t, and with a twinkle in her eyes, she explained.

“Sweetheart, you just were given a glimpse of Heaven.  And, one day after we leave this earth, I will meet you there, and we will race down that hill barefooted.”

Grandpa never lied

I was in my teens when I sat in Grandpa’s kitchen describing my dream.  And to this day, I believe with all my heart that I will see her again in a place where there are no weeds, no storm clouds, and no age. 

A man name Jesus suffered and died on a cross 2021 years ago.  He rose from the dead to tell the world there was a Heaven where sin is gone, and folks run down grassy slopes with no fear of falling.  And Grandpa and I believed Him.

Some pave the way for us to see a glimpse of Heaven.  Those precious family members, friends, and teachers take our tiny hands and guide us toward faith.  I was one of those who learned of Christ before I could write my name.  I had no doubt there was a God or a Heaven because I watched my family pray, read a Bible, and trust the Lord. They sent me to Sunday School and made me sit still in church.    I thank God every day for them and the grandmother who assured me I would see her again.  Grandpa never lied.

We need Easter

This Easter, there are well over 2.5 million people who long to see the face of a loved one who succumbed to COVID.  Countless others left families because of age, disasters, other illnesses, suicide, and murders.  Hearts broke, tears fell, and the world’s people have suffered immeasurably since the spring of 2020.  If ever we all needed to fall to the feet of the risen Lord, it is now.   If ever we need to rely on our faith, it is today.  Now is not the time to turn away but to run to the open arms of God.  We desperately need Him to forgive us our selfishness, stubbornness and remind us that we are His children. 

Grandpa lived 97 years, and during those years, I did see her suffer, but she had no doubt that one day the pain would end and living would continue.

 When my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in his early fifties, he noticed my sad face one day and tried to cheer me. 

“Guess what, Lynn!” He said with that same wry smile our grandmother exhibited.  “I am going to Heaven before you and eat all of Grandpa’s biscuits and homemade jelly before you get there!”

Faith is a blessing

Today, when I think of my departed family, I imagine they are laughing around a breakfast table eating Grandpa’s amazing biscuits and jam along with Jesus, who would never miss such goodness.  This vision always makes me smile because I also notice there is an empty chair waiting for me.

Faith is the blessing the Cross left us.  We have a choice as to whether we pick it up and carry it forward or not.  If we want to really heal and help others along the way, it might be a good idea to embrace its power.  A belief in the Lord has encouraged me to climb from many valleys of despair and grief.  The hand of God has pulled me from many an abyss and given me hope and an unbridled determination to press forward.  

Just before my father died in 1999, I walked toward the head of his bed and whispered, “Dad, are you scared?”  Without missing a beat, he answered, “What is there to be afraid of?”  Then as if they heard him, the angels took him home without a shred of fear in his soul. 

That is what Easter gave my father.  Christ rising from death and walking among those who lived on earth assured us all that we will run on grassy hills with those we love once again if only we believe.

The Heart of a Scottish Ancestor

My father and I acquired a characteristic from a Scottish ancestor who, if I go to heaven, I am going to have choice words with.  Our inherited faces, eyes mainly, cannot hide our emotions. 

Mom always said, “No use for you or your Dad to lie because your faces tell the whole story!”  So, that means we never got away with anything.  That same relative of long ago also bequeathed us a big mouth to accompany our tell-all eyes.  What a combination! 

If I am unhappy, friends will say, “What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing, I am fine.” And they quickly respond, “No, you’re not, I can tell!” 

Then, of course, I will narrate the whole story of why I am sad in full detail, which is always too much information.  Mama learned not to ask when she did not want to know.  She was a wise woman.

Throw anger away

The other day I found myself a bit miffed about a silly benign minor incident involving a group of good friends.  A few others felt as I did, but of course, only I was the one who could not conceal my disappointment.  During our lunch gathering, I wrongfully perceived I did an outstanding job of not looking directly at others and hiding my feelings, but I failed because they all knew how I honestly felt.

However, I have found that when someone does upset me, it is usually better to talk it out and throw all the anger away afterward.  Therefore, bitterness and resentment do not settle in my soul. 

A few can successfully stifle emotion and not let it cause harm, but not many.   My father could voice his temper, but once it was over, it was gone.  He could be hurt, but once he healed, he held no resentment.  He was not afraid to show tears cascading down his cheeks when he was sad, nor share his joy with those who needed a laugh. 

Create calm or chaos?

When we harbor rage, resentment, and hatred, it becomes venom.  Depression, violence, addictions, and loss can occur.  When we don’t allow ourselves to cry or feel we cannot express ourselves without fear of retaliation, we exacerbate our distress.

Sometimes our inward hurts turn into outright physical pain. We know stress creates disease and death.  Often our worries carry such a burden within our souls, our frustration spills over, and we lash out.  We say things we do not mean and regret our actions.

In society today, our anxiety and anger have become so apparent, we must ask ourselves what we can do to create calm instead of chaos?  We can disagree about almost anything, and it is our right to voice our opinions, but not to the point where we cause harm to others.  Losing friends or families being torn apart because of differing views is simply tragic, and it speaks volumes as to what takes precedence in our lives.

From darkness to light

A lone man sat in a dank prison cell around 62 AD.  He was known to be a hateful, mean-spirited bully in his younger days who participated in torturing those who did not believe as he did.  He was bitter, and his rage turned poisonous to those who encountered him until Saul was blinded by a brilliant light.  After three days, his sight was restored, and he was changed forever because he met Jesus,  the one he had previously persecuted. 

From his jailed darkness, the converted Apostle Paul wrote letters to spread the light of Christ throughout the world.  In his epistle to the Ephesians, he wrote: Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry.  Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. * 

Paul knew if the Good Lord could forgive him, then mercy, love, kindness, humility, and faith were the only way to get out of our self-imposed jails.

That same old Scottish ancestor also blessed Dad and me with something more than our big mouths, freckles, and bad hair.  I was given a deep faith not only in God but in mankind.  I firmly believe if we try, we can always become a better version of who we were yesterday. 

If we are worried, find ourselves angrily irritated most of the time, frustrated, or resentful, there is only one antidote to this debilitating poison.   Place the anguish into the same hands that transformed persecuting, revengeful Saul into Saint Paul the Apostle.  We might as well because God knows by looking at us how we honestly feel.

*Ephesians 5:31

Run into the Arms of Tomorrow

As I sat in the lobby of a hotel recently while visiting my daughter and granddaughter in Florida, I had the pleasure of seeing a family reunited.

The grandmother was sitting near me when her three small grandchildren rushed through the lobby doors.  The little girls ran as fast as they could, jumped into her arms as tears formed in her eyes.  Her daughter followed the racing girls and embraced her mother for far more than seconds. 

Their happiness overwhelmed me, and I found myself smiling from ear to ear underneath my mask.  Who knows how long it had been since their last embrace, the last sound of children squealing as they ran to Grandma’s open arms?  However, as of that moment, the distance and longing for a family finally ended.

Sweet memory

I recall years ago when my now 16-year-old granddaughter was young and flew to Atlanta for visits, she would run as fast as she could into my arms.  There is no better feeling in the world than to know you are loved by an innocent child.  The exuberant affection little children proudly display is a beautiful moment in time that we all too often do not appreciate. 

Before we know it,  the grandchild is grown, and the grandmother is gone. What remains is the memory of a love that has left an indelible mark within our souls.  Perhaps, our COVID isolation taught us to be more thankful for our time together, our reunions, our hugs, laughter, and our loves.

The virus took away so much for so many.  I have always said when we go through challenging times in our lives, we come through hardship one of two ways.  Either we will be filled with resentment that we endured such pain, or we are filled with gratitude and relish the fact we survived

Our love is intensified when we choose to forge forward with hope.  Our faith becomes more crucial if we choose to see God in all things.  Living becomes more joyful if we choose to not succumb to bitterness.  We become like the child whose love is racing into open arms without fear of rejection.

The Gatekeepers

Those who put others first during this crisis instead of personal ideology teach others to persevere through adversity.  They are the ones who will lead us to a healthier tomorrow and put us in touch with our better selves.  These unselfish souls should be heralded as the light of the world, the gatekeepers, and torchbearers for our children.

I do not know about you, but I am tired of the anti-this and that, the egos, the selfishness, the fights, the nasty anger, and the hate.  What good is it to welcome a new day when we are still stuck in the anguish of yesterday?  What innocent child would rush to such behavior?

We, instead, must be grateful we are still here to savor a tomorrow.  There are 2.7 million people in our world who will never greet another day, yet only a year ago were embracing their families.   Instead of complaining about how horrible life is, maybe we should be applauding the ability to simply breathe.

A Grateful heart

As I drove home from Florida, tears welled in my eyes as they always do when I leave my family.   Since my children live in other states spread across the country, I often feel sorry for myself that I cannot see them more often.  While other grandparents complain about their children not coming for Sunday dinner, I just pray to soon see mine again on some unknown future day.  

After we traveled a few miles, the tears quickly dried.  This time I relished those moments with the 16-year-old who no longer runs into my arms and the daughter who is in the busy, difficult time of life caring for a teenager.   Before COVID, I would cry for a whole day; now, why spend a day in tears?  I would rather not waste any days.

I feel I owe it to those who do not have another day to make my days count for good.  It is better to choose a better tomorrow instead of a bitter tomorrow.  I will ask God to forgive my errors as I forgive others and pray for the guidance to forge a path for those who once ran into my arms.

Hugs, smiles, touches, family, and friends are the joy of my life, and how blessed I am to live another day to treasure them all.  After a year of difficulty, I choose to be like the child who runs with wild abandonment towards tomorrow with open arms.    

True Leaders Carry Worn Bibles

A giant soul fell into the arms of God last month.  His passing was a consequential loss, not only for those who knew him well but because a good, Godly man left this world.  We need all the kind, Godly people we can get around here.  When God chooses to take the righteous home, I always pray another will attempt to feel those shoes, walk an honorable path, and become a giant.

Because of the pandemic, his funeral was held virtually.  I watched as the Methodist minister stepped up to the pulpit with a worn, broken Bible filled with letters and notes.  I recognized it immediately. 

The last time I visited my friend, Tom, and his wife, he was headed to Sunday school.  He walked into the kitchen carrying his pile of lessons and the old Bible secured against his chest with his left hand.  I could not help but notice it because it looked as if it might fall apart any second.   It resembled a file that held everything from envelopes to folded papers and possibly a cookie.  I never, for a moment, believed it would be the last time I had the honor of teasing him about hiding my pecan cookies that he always requested when I visited.

Perfect words

The minister carefully opened Tom’s Bible without disturbing its contents.  Before reading a scripture verse, he quoted a statement by the famed English Pastor, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, which is so profound, I wrote it down immediately. 

“A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who is not.”

The Godly giant who leads an exemplary life continuously seeks truth and wisdom from their leader.  A leader thus is the follower of a Mighty God.  These disciples know to bow, weep, and pray for others.  They are not boastful, proud, or use power to obtain fame.  For the true leaders of our world, understand glory belongs only to a heavenly King.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, one of his first acts was washing inmates’ feet at a youth detention center.  He became a leader yet understood he is merely a servant.  He learned his role from the words of Christ found in the Bible.

“Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28. 

Tom’s Bible a symbol

Tom’s worn Bible was a symbol of where his earthly life was centered and a bridge toward eternal living once it was over.  Here, his good life holds no candle to what awaited him because he believed in and trusted his Lord.

I recall years ago walking into a Krispy Kreme near my house to pick up hot donuts for my Sunday School class.  A man was standing beside me as the girl behind the counter loaded two dozen donuts into boxes.

“I’ll bet you are headed to church with your donuts.” He remarked as he watched.

“Yes, I am, are you headed that way too?” I replied.

“No, never.  The churches are full of Bible-toting hypocrites.”  He espoused as if his statement was a fact.

I am not sure if I came up with the response or a Krispy Kreme whispering angel was in line, but I immediately said, “Yep, you’re right.  But where else are we supposed to go to find redemption if not to God?” 

He looked at me for a long minute, and then he smiled, as did I before I walked away.  For some reason, that moment has stuck with me like glue. 

Serving our leader

The best way to serve God is to draw someone close to him by the example we set.  We are not meant to be just readers of the Good Book but to use it as a guide for living abundantly.  When we show love for one another, offer compassion, abhor hatred, and serve others’ kindness is how we introduce a stranger to our leader.

To think we know all the answers to life, quite frankly, is preposterous. We do not, and we never will.   Tom’s scribbled notes, folded up between the Bible’s pages, revealed his continuing search for truth, for the right way to be the best example of living a life of faith.

We become discombobulated when we assume we are no longer servants.  We lose our way when our pride and intelligence push us to believe in our rules more than God’s laws. That never goes well; thus, we find ourselves being corrected and humbled. 

Some of us stubborn souls need correction quite often.  Or could it be our Bibles are just not worn enough, like Tom’s?

In loving memory of Tom Mahaffey  1940-2021

Oh, What a Relief it Is!

My arm is sore, my fever finally broke, and my bottle of Advil is emptied.  However, yippee and Howdy Doody, I am vaccinated against the coronavirus!  Do you remember the Alka Seltzer commercial, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!?” If you do, then you know why I was qualified to receive the vaccine.  

 There is satisfaction in knowing I contributed to kicking the dickens out of COVID.  So, I endured a few days of discomfort to further the cause of healing a world, and I need a new bottle of Advil. So what? It was such a small price to pay!

 Our children desperately need to return to the classroom, so I will gladly do my part to see them get there.    When folks are begging for food, jobs, stability, and sanity, we all must do what we can to keep each other from falling through the cracks of a fractured world.

Ending a pandemic

I am unnerved by those healthy individuals who can be safely vaccinated but refuse to do so out of fear, misinformation, or political partisanship.” So upset, I am afraid I might poke them with my one functioning arm! How selfish we can become when we put our personal bias before other’s complete misery.  

Sure, we do not know with complete certainty the conclusive results of the COVID vaccines, but we are confident this pandemic will not end without them.  

My relatives succumbed to the Spanish Flu of 1918 in droves, and their ancestors died of Typhoid Fever in multitudes.  Polio ended my friend’s life and left others disabled.    Smallpox took out half a BILLION people between 1880 and 1980 before it was eradicated.  The smallpox vaccine is considered dangerous as well, but what if it never existed?  I doubt you would be alive to read this story today.

Science saves lives

When I was a child, we formed school lines for vaccines and tests to be administered.   We were given no choice; we did so because it was better than the alternative.  Sometimes, the risk is worth it for the well-being of humankind.  Sure, something can go wrong in a horrible twist of fate.  However, how do you know it was not you or your child who would be lying in a grave today without a vaccination?

When the entire elementary school took their turns to be tested for tuberculosis in the early 1950s, I was the only child to test positive.   Luckily, in the end, I did not have the disease, but I do have a trail of mysterious scars on my lungs.  What if a TB test had not existed and I was positive? How many would have died from me being infected?

In the 20th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death due to its transmission rate.  Today, most cases are cured by proper diagnosis and the administering of antibiotic drugs for many months. However, in 2019, 1.4 million people worldwide still succumbed to TB.  How many more would there be without the invention of the antibiotic?

 How many lives have scientists saved?  Yet, we still often refuse to listen to medical science and advice.  

When I read an unproven theory about vaccines’ dangers, following the science, or folks pitting politics against medicine, I wonder how those who espouse such beliefs are even alive.  Did they not receive polio, smallpox, whooping cough, typhoid, or tetanus vaccines during their lifetime? Did a doctor or a politician administer them?

Dangerous distrust

 What do these dangerous folks gain by broadcasting skepticism over reason? Are we willing to pay the price if we listen or support them?

I believe the idea of promoting fear to gain recognition or a following is one of the vilest and most cruel acts we can possibly do today. I am ready to get a vaccine to eradicate such scrounge.

Cynicism and distrust should never overtake common sense.  Fear should never replace courage because when it does, it will kill us all.

The medical community of scientists, caregivers, and pharmacology can make mistakes, but how many times have they gotten it right?  How many lives have been saved by research and medical advances?  Probably, one of those or many saved yours.

  Oh, what a relief that is!

Leaving Age on the Curb

Before Christmas, 2018, a group of girlfriends headed to New York City to see the bright lights, the holiday decorations, and hopefully catch a snowflake or two.  Our spirits were high because our friend’s niece managed the production of a little play on Broadway called “Hamilton,” and we possessed priceless tickets.   When we stood on stage and mingled with the cast of the famed musical, we were beyond excited.

 We drooled as we gazed into the city’s elaborate store windows, waved our way through throngs of people, and relished each moment. It was the “girls” trip right out of a movie.  We never stopped whirling in the Big Apple until a group of young 20-something youngsters poured a bucket of sand in our boots.

We were about to step off a curb and cross the street toward a park when one young man hurriedly ran around us, cutting us off.  “Hey,” one of his buddies yelled, “Watch out for the old ladies!” 

Did he mean us?

Michele looked toward me, “Did he mean us?”  It pained me to tell her the truth, but since there were no other females of any age near us, I nodded to the affirmative.   Michele turned pale, and the rest of us suddenly felt the need of a boy scout to help us cross the street.   

In all the hustle and bustle of loving the city’s vibrancy, we forgot we were not those teenage girls starring in the movie and remembered we were all within a few years of reaching whatever age it is when youth is left way back yonder.

I love living in my own mind.  I never consider myself old until I try to apply makeup and need a magnifying mirror to do so.  Those lighted mirrors are evil! They also amplify those other travesties growing across your face that resembles a map with railroad crossings and warning signs.

It is funny how we view aging as if it is something worthwhile to notice.  So, perhaps we should not put so much effort into seeing it.  My dad always said, “The worst part of growing older is watching others who leave before they reach an older age.” He was right about that because it sure is tough saying goodbye.  For the ones who remain here longer, we should be celebrating each breath we take.

Keep looking for new adventures

Shoot, I began writing at age 68: a new career, a new adventure, new friends, new dreams, and new deadlines.  I am the new Grandma Moses, except I write instead of paint. And, of course, I am not famous.  But, shoot, I might be!  You just never know what is around the corner if you never give up trying and keep your spectacles on so you won’t hit a wall!

The world takes aging way too seriously, especially women.  We try to stop it, alter its looks, worry over it, and try to become who we once were in that old school photograph.  The truth is, we are basically the same person as we were in school.  The only thing that has changed is the photograph and, perhaps, our added wisdom.

“There is a fountain of youth. It is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life, and the lives of people you love.  When you learn to tap this source, you truly have defeated age.”  Sophia Loren

Words from a beautiful woman to those trying to turn back the clock when it is not time that ages us; it is our spirit. 

Live every moment

Our spirits have all suffered this past year, no matter what age we are. It is not our government or a vaccine that will pull us out of our battered souls, but up to each person to utilize every moment.

Staring at that mirror, or wishing for yesterday, or aimlessly worrying over tomorrow will age you faster than laying in the sun slathered in baby oil.  There is so much more to life than fretting over something you cannot control no matter how much money you spend trying.  Instead, take charge of making the world a kinder, less selfish place, creating warmth, bridging gaps, causing someone to smile, and suddenly age will be put in its place…… forgotten.

Take care of the body you have so that you can enjoy living in it.  Your life is not over until they call your name from way up yonder.  Did the good Lord tell you to sit down or stop? No.  So, keep vibrantly moving and pour sand into the boots of those who try stepping in front of you. 

Live boldly, benevolently, and with God every hour of each day until you fly away.  

Meet God’s Soldier with a Mission

When I moved to LaGrange, Georgia, from Tennessee as a fifteen-year-old, my first Georgia beau was Dan Larry Payne.  I possess an old photo showing Dan, sporting a profoundly serious expression, standing beside me.  I was wearing a wrist corsage, a pretty yellow dance dress, and a smile across my face.  

Our teen romance lasted about two weeks, which was typical for that age, but we remained loyal friends.  He married one of my dearest pals, Jo, soon after high school, with the rest of our classmates questioning, “Wonder how long that will last?”

Mr. and Mrs. Payne were members of our wedding party a bit later.  And while their marriage still is intact, mine ended years ago.  So, our question is answered, “It lasted forever.”

 Dan’s rich heritage included generations of Payne’s serving America during the Revolutionary War to the one that was currently raging in Viet Nam.  Dan kept the family history alive by joining the Army Infantry in 1969 after graduating from college. He attended Officers Candidate School, completed his military obligation, and returned home to work in the private sector.  Of course, he thought his service was concluded; however, God intervened and whispered, “No, Dan, it is not.”

“I’m called to preach!”

When Dan accepted the Lord into his life, I doubt he had any idea where that new friendship would lead him.  I have learned that whatever God tells you to do, you might as well just go with the flow because there is a purpose for the direction you are to follow.

“Jo, I am being called to preach!”  His wife, being the sweet, Christian person she is, responded, “Ok, if that is what the Lord is saying, then I am with you. “

After Dan earned a Master of Divinity degree in Baptist Seminary, the ordained young minister with a growing family was spiritually motivated again.  “Jo,  I would like to rejoin the Army!”  This time, neither Jo nor Dan realized his service was only beginning.

Just before he reached the age that would not permit him to reenlist, he worked his way back into the military and to active duty.  The former OCS Tactical Officer was now a Chaplain in the United States Army, where he remained in service to our nation for 26 years.

The path God laid

By the time 2005 rolled around, Chaplain Dan Payne’s country had placed him from Ft. Fort Benning, Georgia, into nine more military bases across our land.  He crossed oceans to help his fellow comrades in various Korean assignments, then to Kuwait as the Command Chaplain for Camp Doha.  For his faithful service in aiding so many during Desert Storm/Shield, he was presented the Bronze Star personally by Major General Barry McCaffrey.

   By the time his military career ended, he had accumulated more medals than I can list in this story, including the Legion of Merit.  However, it was not the shiny awards that told of his bravery; it was his courage to follow the path God laid before him, no matter what.

When he was recently nominated and accepted into the US Army Officers Candidate School Hall of Fame, the accolades read, in part, “a fabulous listener, a gifted speaker, a compassionate soul, admired, loved, dedicated, blessed with God-given talent, plus, ready and willing to serve others.” 

 After retiring from military duty, he worked with the US National Park Service, where he served to maintain and protect our parks’ beauty from Alaska to Georgia.  Jo and Dan continue volunteering to aid veterans, youth, and those needing any assistance throughout America.

The epitome of an American

Chaplain Dan Larry Payne, the boy with the serious face, grew to be an exemplary leader among men and a humble missionary for God.  Perhaps,  greatness is found in the one who most unselfishly serves.  He is the epitome of the American soldier and citizen. 

  Dan’s patriotism cannot be told by mere words but by those soldiers who share their stories of this unsung American hero.  His words, devotion, love for Jo, and fellowmen from all walks of life are reminders of what a lifetime of honor is.  It is not in the fuss we make or the screams we shout, but instead in the quiet listening of God’s direction and the joy one finds in following it.  

Our nation is a bit topsy-turvy today.  However, like Chaplain Dan, our American narrative lies in those who serve both God and country with integrity, selflessness, and heart. 

The Chaplain is battling cancer, and his future is uncertain.  Rest assured, however, his earthly glory is no match for what awaits him when he meets his Commander in heaven. 

I salute you, my friend; you bless our country with your dedication and wear the armor of God valiantly. 

WELCOME!

Welcome to my new site! Here you will find stories, both old favorites and new ones which I will change often. I will also write a post when something strikes me or I need to share important news.

You can send me a note, a question, or a request. I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, keep reading, be inspiring, and change the world with kindness.

Blessings,

Lynn

THE HEALING POWER OF A HOMEMADE PIE

Comic strips often entertain us with not only a funny moment but occasionally the cartoonist will introduce a bit of insight within their colorful panels. Such was the case when Jan Eliot provided such wisdom in her comic strip called, “Stone Soup.”

One of the characters is Alix, a nine-year-old precocious girl who is sitting at the kitchen table watching her Grandmother rolling the dough for a homemade pie.

Alix asks, “Gramma, why do you like to make pies so much?”

Her Gramma explains that when she was a young mother, they did not have much money, but she and her husband had an orchard abundant with pears, apples, and peaches. So, when they could afford only rice and beans for dinner, what lifted the spirits of her family, was a delicious homemade pie for dessert.

After hearing her Gramma’s explanation, Alix replies, “In other words… before Prozac, there was pie.”

Gramma ends the story with this statement, “That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!!”

Growing up, I recall my Grandmother making pies to deliver to folks who were physically ailing or mentally going through a difficult time. She regularly baked my brother his favorite chocolate pie and would always make a blackberry cobbler for my mother when the berries were in season. I don’t think I ever visited her when she didn’t bake a pie out of love or compassion for someone.

I remember one summer day, my grandmother’s friend, Mrs. Harris, was ill. First thing on a Saturday morning, we visited Mrs. Harris bearing an apple pie full of concern and affection. Before we left, Mrs. Harris was giggling with her friend before hugging me goodbye.

The tradition of pie giving was passed down from those ancestors who resided in the Southern hills to hearts who needed a pie’s restorative power. Aunts, mothers. grandmothers, a few uncles, and even some grandpas inherited the gift of producing a mouthful of joy. My Granddaddy couldn’t make a pie, but he sure could mend a mortal soul with his homemade peanut brittle.

My mom could roll out the best pie crust on the planet. Plus, she had the artistic talent to create the perfect lattice top over her delicious fruit pies. She would serve them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Mom could dry tears and melt hearts with her delicious creations. I once dubbed her the “Queen of Pies,” and to this day, I believe she undoubtedly was.

Friends and family frequently question me, “Lynn, why do you insist on baking homemade desserts? You can go to Publix and get a great pie or cake and not have to go through the trouble!”

My answer is the same, “It’s not the same!”

Generosity, compassion, and joy are only found in the work you go through to create them. Not everyone knows how to bake a pie, but they sure know how to gather flowers, write a sweet note, or hold a hand. When we use extra energy to lift another’s spirit, whether it is through baking a pie or going for a visit, we deliver healing. When we go to the trouble to love, we give hate trouble.

Our world is a busy place where texting emoji hearts, sad or smiling faces, makes it simple to share our emotions. We are “convenient” happy. Whatever makes our lives easier is becoming the norm. However, our days will become more comfortable only when our society becomes a less hateful place.

A peaceful world can exist only through loving each other enough to create a pie made of sincere compassion, prayer, and understanding. Comforting another is not about easy, it is about sacrifice and empathy. There is no emoji in the technological world that shows the recipe for genuine kindness.

“Before Prozac, there was pie,” Alix declared. I suffer from clinical depression, and I understand needing medications for this illness. However, if my family and friends had been too busy to hug me, pray with me, or cook my kids’ dinner through some of those wicked dark hours, would I have made it? When those compassionate souls took the time to physically aid me, they helped me see a sunny day was on the horizon.

“That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!” Gramma happily tells her grandchildren as she holds her beautiful baked pie above her head. What if we brought a homemade pie of kindness to the table of hate and calmed anger with a dose of warmed goodness?

Then our Grandchildren would learn just like I did from my Grandmother; when we take the time to create love, we might just witness healing our hurts one pie at a time.