"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe

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Palm Sunday 4/14/2019

A simple palm.

It’s not an object I think about much, but when this day rolls around each year, I have vivid and specific memories:

the man walking away in New Mexico last year, his back pocket filled with them…

the time several years ago my daughter quietly fashioned crosses out of them in the back pew of a church, to the delight of several people around her…

the reverent way my mom made sure every crucifix in the house was adorned with them…

…and today, my two granddaughters waving them at me as they greeted me at Mass. I was thinking I might hear en guard at any moment, but the novelty wore off quickly.

Small moments that last in the mind’s eye.

The realization that the small moments carry the sweetest stories.

There were successive small sweet moments at Mass today:

A slow hymn played and Emma began whimpering. She feels the music. She and her sister always have. This truth gives me insight into the kind of people they will grow to be…caring, aware, attuned.

Sofia spotted her beloved “Aunt Betty” on the way to communion and stopped to let her know. To greet her, smile at her, visibly be thrilled to see her. Then, tears when we were back in our seats…that last few minutes until she could see her again feeling like an eternity.

To love, to feel love like that. That.

Emma, age 2 1/2, leading me by the hand to light a candle. Waving to Jesus on the way, holding the long match and patiently (as possible…she’s 2) waiting for the flicker to become a flame. Sofia, 3 1/2, arrives just in time to assist.

Lots to think about on this day. It’s a day of anniversaries as well. My own life re-started thanks to skilled doctors and blood donors 28 years ago. I’ve witnessed an extra lifetime of small moments that I said thank you for again today. And… because life is this two sided coin… a life taken 7 years ago: my best friend lost to me and so many who loved her because a drunk made a terrible choice to get behind the wheel of a car and drive.

So, a Palm Sunday candle is flickering in a century old church tonight with prayers of thanksgiving for a life spared and prayers of not knowing what words to say when a life is taken, so a tiny flame takes the place of the words.

I don’t have to have the words. Like two little girls remind me, my feelings are enough.

Sometimes, like the people in the Gospel narrative today, we are witnesses. Seeing all the things. Storing them in our hearts. Knowing that we each have a role to play on and off the page.

We enter Holy Week today…a week that I hope to continue some Lenten promises, spend some extra time in silence, and reflect on a lot of things. And hopefully, learn from the small moments and little children that the smallest acts of love and presence still matter the most.

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Lent//Sunday 3//Free Pass Day

I’m still marveling that Sundays are “freebie” days during Lent. Ha.

Today I heard the hymn Lift High the Cross. It’s a favorite. Lit a candle with my grandchildren. Said a prayer. Several prayers.

Later, I ran into a former coworker while grocery shopping. We shared a strong bond for nine years, and today we share some of the same truths: we are both widows, both grandmothers, both loving our families and friends.

We didn’t see our path outlined, of course. We could not have predicted the dark days we’d see, or the luminous ones that came, too. But today, she stood in a grocery aisle, elegant as always and steadfast.

We caught each other up, and of course the main topic was family and friends.

And I thought I’m so glad I know this woman. I’m so glad there are people like her caring about others.

God gives us so many opportunities every single day to love one another. Even on freebie Lenten Sundays, He reminds me that some of His gifts (like friendship) continue for years and years. And, on this free pass day, I got to spend a few sweet minutes telling her I am thankful for her life.

I know this: I’m grateful every day, for every gift. Sunday included. ☺️

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Sunday’s Song: A Sentence and a Step

Week 5 of Lent. Easter is not far away, and my Lenten promises have pretty much gone by the wayside. But… a sweet surprise came along and helped me see that when we strive to follow a better path, things do indeed work out, and sometimes we don’t have to follow through on this plan or that goal…we just have to be the real me or you and walk on.

I met a new friend this week, one who knows me from what she saw me post on social media. We were at a mutual friend’s party and were introduced there. You may not remember this but you defended your religion awhile back. She went on to say what I’d written and the one part that stood out for her: You ended with Peace be with you and I thought wow. Yes. That.

Turns out this new friend has a Catholic upbringing. Thinks about coming back. Attends Mass when she’s visiting her mom.

She is also a cancer warrior, and has just spent several months recovering from treatments.

She’s seen a lot, been through a lot. Walked some dark roads like others have. Is still working things out. Thinking things through.

But she stood there and talked to me about one little sentence I posted months ago…maybe even a year or more ago. And she remembered that. Not because of the theology. Because of the grace. The kindness. The “no matter what you think, I hope you find peace on your way” which is how I strive to live.

Look, you cannot change people. You cannot force anyone to do this or be that, but you can wish them well. And mean it.

And while I am not the best Catholic in a lot of ways, that day she saw me as one who brought her a step closer to coming back to church. So, I am grateful to know. I am grateful to see a God who works through every person in every way…simple people like me and simple things like comments on a public post.

Grateful because I ask God routinely to help me lead others to Him…and to look for Him in them.

And this week, He said yes to all of that. And that meeting, that reminder, beats any list of things I could hope to do. So, keep on living your best day to day, not just during Lent, but any day. And God will use you if you ask Him to…and likely even if you don’t.

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Friday’s Five: December

Today I left the house wearing a Santa hat. Last minute decision, but it is December and it was a bone chilling 27 degrees.

I think it changed my interactions with people because after all… red velvet with huge white pompom is a distraction.

I was able to continue a gift giving tradition Sam started years ago. Today wasn’t the day I planned to do it, but the opportunity came and I was quite happy knowing this took place with me wearing Santa gear. People were inconvenienced for a moment because this impromptu event took place on a country road and cars were delayed momentarily, but not one person honked. And the recipient…delighted. Hat, perhaps??

Onward to a rosary group. Lots of prayers said for lots of people with women who are deeply different but connected in prayer. While there, cardinals kept coming to the feeder. Brilliant reds.

Then, a low tire pressure stop at a garage. The attendant wished me Merry Christmas as I left…I am positive it was the hat. Positive. Makes people feel happier. Joyful. Merry. Isn’t that a great word?

The lights of the season are everywhere. Store windows, interstate tree groupings, hotel reception areas. So welcoming.

The little things that invite us to be better versions of ourselves. December, you delight.

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Friday’s Five

A friend bearing freshly caught fish (to stock my freezer) who drops in and doesn’t care that I have laundry in piles on the sofa. She sits admidst t-shirts and towels and socks and talks and laughs.

A friend who has been on her first plane flight and first travel abroad adventure. We meet to catch up, look at her travel photos, revel in the enlightenment that travel brings. 

A friend who finally allows me to help her with a small request next week. The grace of that. 

A friend who is suffering from the physical pain cancer inflicts. Knowing I can do nothing but pray. Knowing that’s all she wants from me. 

A friend who asks me to share what I know about journal keeping to a group of writers/teachers. Sharing with them and watching the light bulb come on for them. 

Tonight’s five: friendship.

I’m only skimming the surface here, but these women have added a depth to my life that I treasure. Sometimes, like tonight, I think about friendship and how it starts, how it evolves. How it surprises and awes and  touches us. How when we make efforts to maintain relationships,  amazing gifts come forth. 

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Friday’s Five

Five good things from the past week, dear readers:

Snow in the forecast–that always brings a smile, even though it’s unlikely that it will amount to much this go round…

Good folks–Lisa was a great tech last summer, and she is now an RN. She saw us in the hospital hallway and came by to visit Sam, then made arrangements to be his discharge nurse…because there are good people the world…

Texts and messages and photos this week, from people who matter greatly to me. Hearts of gold…

Laughter before surgery, as Sam relates how he came to choose a password during pre-op. Inside jokes are precious these days…

Going through the new Bass Pro shop on the way to Little Rock. We have watched it being built for months on our travels back and forth, and just decided on a whim to stop in. Santa was making his appearance, another sweet memory to share…

This was the week Sam had three surgeries in one day. We probably would not go with that decision a second time, but it’s a little late now. These are the days of decisions and we just do the best we can and keep going.

A sixth “blessing” tonight…an Aristotle quotation that keeps coming to mind:
A friend to all is a friend to none. I’m reevaluating what that word “friend” means in the context of my life today. It’s going to take me awhile to work it all out, and that’s ok too. I’m past the days of people pleasing. Real people make real decisions and keep or leave behind what is necessary in order to be at peace. There’s a gift in that.
Choose wisely.

Sometimes the blessing is just realizing it’s ok to take care of you.
God bless…


Sunday’s Song: In Remembrance

Today I devote this blog to my friend.
Her name was Waydean.
A funny name. It fit her.

She died a year ago today.

It matters that she walked upon this earth.

It matters to her sons, to her daughters-in-law, to her sister, to many relatives and friends.

A drunk driver killed her.
It still makes me mad.

In memory of Waydean Launius Waller:
April 27, 1954-April 14, 2012.
Rest in God’s perfect peace.