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Capturing the Moments

We were getting ready to leave our daughter’s house after the holidays. I walked into the room as my daughter and husband were talking to each other. She was seated at the piano, and he was standing tall and lovingly beside her.  

Capturing The MomentsThe window light from behind them was soft and very complimentary. It was such an endearing scene, and I thought I would get one more great photo before we left.   

My husband started to walk away, and I said, “Stop, let me take a photo!” Each of them looked at me and, at the same time, said, “No more photos!!”

When the moment was over, I realized I had not captured this meaningful photograph on film, but more importantly, I had imposed on a special moment that did not need to be photographed, except in my mind.

When I open up Facebook, I see pictures of smiling faces, beautiful vacations, holiday photos, food, animals, and so on. Occasionally, I post pictures to share with friends and family that update and preserve these moments in our lives.

However, some of my most cherished photos are in my mind. I captured them when there was no camera available or Facebook to post them on.  

At any moment, I can recall the blush on my husband’s face when he led the congregation in a song at his church on our first date, the crook of my arm when the nurse placed our daughter, wrapped in a pink blanket carefully there and the moment when her eyes met mine.

I didn’t have a camera to photograph my middle son sitting in the sandy backyard with all his matchbox cars around him or his delight when I sat down in the dirt beside him. Or a cell phone when our youngest son was wearing his red coat zipping around the neighborhood on his bicycle waving at the neighbors.

We only have a few photos of our youngest daughter before she died, but in my mind and heart, I have so many captured moments in the 19 months she was with us. 

Many of my dearest photos cannot be framed and set on our mantle.

I love it when my husband, who does not usually have a phone or a camera in his hand, tells me of a time when he was on a hunting trip in Canada. He said that after seeing a bear, all he could do was stand mesmerized by the site and behold the moment.

Technically the reasons we take photos is to preserve our memories and remind us of our history long after it has passed. 

However, according to Linda Henkel, a psychology professor, taking photos isn’t always the best way to remember a moment. Henkel has studied how taking photos impacts experience and memory. 

The fact that we can take as many photos as we want at any given time we’re sometimes saying, ‘Okay, I don’t need to think about this moment any further. The camera’s captured the experience.’ 

Her research demonstrated that we don’t engage in any of the elaborative or emotional kinds of processing that really would help us remember those experiences, because we’ve outsourced it to our camera.

That’s where the word; “Behold” comes in. It is a Hebrew word used in the Bible 1298 times that suggest we stand still and gaze upon. It is a particle that suggests something like, “Well, will you look at that!” “Wow!” 

Some people love to take photos with their phones or cameras, and there are those, like my husband, who take pictures in their minds and enjoy sharing them with others.   

I was reminded of that when I stood next to a girl in Hyder, Alaska. We were standing on a bridge watching for the Grizzlies and their cubs to come out of the woods. 

Just like many others there, I had my camera ready. When the bears appeared and stepped into the salmon-filled creek below us, you could hear complaints from those who were not close enough and clicking from those that were ready. Flashes were going off, and we were all trying to get the perfect shot.

When it was all over with, I asked her if she got a good shot. She smiled and said, “No, I don’t take the photos, my husband does. I like to look at them. If I am trying to get the picture, I don’t get to enjoy them.” 

Capturing The Moments Camra

Sometimes we are torn between, “I’ve got to get this shot,” and “Wow, what a sight!” That’s how I felt seeing my husband and daughter that morning, a struggle between my heart’s desire to hold on to the moment and my head’s desire to capture it quickly on camera before the emotions disappeared.  

And both of those emotions are important. When I find a photo I haven’t seen in a while, it’s like reading a favorite story I’ve read before or remembering a special moment or reminding me of a joy, a love, or a strength I had forgotten. 

But if you are like me, you have more photos on your phone than you know what to do with, and some are not so good. We have to remember. It’s just as important to capture a moment in our hearts and mind rather than on camera.  
Maybe we all need to stop focusing so much on capturing the moment and just enjoy it instead. Be present. Live in it.

Laughter

My daughter reminded me one morning of the importance of laughter in our lives. She was sitting on the floor playing and laughing out loud with her six-month-old daughter.

Laughter NbI listened as her laughter and my granddaughter’s giggles filled all the space around me. She said she wanted to feel this kind of joy always and see the world through her child’s merry eyes.

We talked about the carefree laughter of childhood before we had bills to pay and so many responsibilities.

I asked my daughter, “So what makes you laugh when you get older, and the children are grown, and you no longer have to leave cookies out for Santa?”

“I don’t know, Mom, she said. That’s what I’m expecting you to show me.”

That’s the thing about children, just when you think they are grown, and you have set good examples for them they remind you that they’re still watching.

Our children grew up in a pastor’s home with many different kinds of people coming and going in their lives in many different places. Teaching our children to have a sense of humor was just as important as teaching them to have a strong prayer life.

One of my many favorite memories of laughing together as a pastor’s family was when a precious older member of our church, who was almost blind with cataracts, would prepare meals and bring them to us. She didn’t realize that she mixed all the food together on one big serving plate.

The fried fish was often on top of cottage cheese and pineapple with beans and slaw on top of that. The children wouldn’t eat the food and didn’t know what to say when she asked them at church how their dinner was.

A pastor friend suggested we name our garbage can “Spot.” So when the sweet lady asked the kids how was the food they would say, “It hit the spot!” Laughter always made our lives fun and helped us get through stressful times.

We need laughter in the good times and the bad. Laughter makes us feel good, releases pressure in a bad situation, gives us energy, and makes the most miserable situation bearable at times. In general, it gives us a sense of well-being and a sense of community.

Doctor Madan Kataria, author of the book, Laughter Yoga, said, “Children can laugh up to 400 times a day, but for adults, this frequency drops to barely 15 times a day.”

It may even be less this year with all the stress our country and families have been through.

In 1995 Dr. Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai, India, experimented with the therapeutic benefits of humor by approaching strangers in a park in Mumbai. He then invented a series of breathing and relaxation exercises that stimulate merriment for better health called Laughter Yoga.

Since then, thousands of social laughter clubs have been launched in 65 countries, including the United States.

There are physicians who prescribe laughter classes to the sick, elderly, young, and healthy for its stress-reducing effects because it is proven that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.

The physical benefits of laughter include reducing stress hormones, strengthening our immune system, cardiac conditioning, lower blood pressure, {especially in women), and it cleanses the lungs, which can aid in respiratory problems.

Good reason to add laughter to our lives daily, right?

When I added up the amount of laughter in my life, I found that most of the people I spend time with are people who like to laugh.

As inspiration, I look no further than my own friends and family. My neighbor and friend is one particular person who inspires me. She is engaged, curious, strong, beautiful, and fun at age 89 — exactly the kind of woman I’d love to be when I’m her age, should I have the good fortune to live that long in fine health.

Listening to her share funny stories of stressful times in her life growing up during the great depression reminds me that there is a funny side to every situation. Spending any time with her reinforces the idea that we need a sense of humor to make it through the tough times in life and gives me new energy and hope for the future.

My sisters, who were all more than ten years older than me, inspired me the same way. They knew how to use laughter as a healing agent. When we got together we talk about our life as children. There were sad and painful times for us, but we always managed to turn our shared stories and thoughts into laugher that brought tears to our eyes.

During the Covid-19 quarantine, I had an amazing friend who sent me videos of funny things and attitudes to cope with the quarantine. She says we need more comedy in our lives and she was right. The videos were respectfully humorous and they helped me laugh at myself.

Laughter doesn’t mean you can’t be serious or you are insensitive to the bad things that are happening in the world around us.

However, it can be the difference between a life of black-and-white and a life filled with color. Laughter may not add years to your life but it will add life to your years! It’s like a flower that blooms when it stretches towards the sun.

A wise person realizes eating right and exercise is the best way to stay healthy, and it is a wise person who learns the importance of laughter in their lives.

If we need a prescription for laughter it can be found in a book that has been around a long, long time. A Bible verse in Proverbs reminds us that joy is an important part of a healthy life. “A merry heart is good like a medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (17:22, NLT)

Laughing with our grandchildren is the most fun and we do it a lot. Sometimes when our grandchildren get into trouble we laugh and remind our children they did the same things when they were that age. But, for some reason, they don’t always think that’s funny.

However, being a role model for our adult children has meant demonstrating to them how to live well and happy in good times and bad. I hope that teaching them to always have a sense of humor and a strong prayer life will be their guide to setting the same example for their children.

Recovering Hope

For a moment it all came unbalanced. The sad and the angry became heavier than the happy and good, I gave in. The tears came, the anger raged and my heart pounded.

Recover Hope FbThen someone asked for my help. I heard them and moved dutifully toward them. They sounded anxious and I reached out to assure them.

With that gesture, I felt a shift in my heart. The sadness and anger lightened. The happy and good became stronger. The balance hesitated a moment and then it became equal.

In fact, by the time I finished talking to a friend who needed some encouragement I think the happy and the good may have tilted the scales.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in my lifetime. It is a lesson that I have learned and taught and yet, it still amazes me when it happens.

When we are so frustrated and angry reaching out to others promotes a rush of endorphins in the brain. It brings about a positive physiological change and helps us distract from our own problems.

It is an excellent way to lift the burden and worry from our hearts and minds. The simple joy of helping others reduces stress and boosts the immune system. It also flushes negative feelings like anger and aggression..

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Opening the door for someone, letting them go first in line, or sincerely asking someone if they are ok can shift a moment.

With everything going in our world it is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. I have friends who have told me they can’t sleep at night and are worried all the time.

Social distancing and wearing masks has isolated many people. It has made it harder to find balance, but we can find ways to deliberately shift our focus from the negative to the positive.

Recovering our hope, joy, and power in our lives takes action.

My friend did this by closing her Facebook account for a while. “The anger and bitterness I see among friends and family is causing me so much stress,’ she said. There are so many opinions posted each day of our current world situations, I can’t even hear my own thoughts.”

She isn’t the only one who has said those words to me.

Recently, I took a few days off to join my friend at the beach. When I left my house I felt heavy-hearted and stressed with all the bad news of a deadly virus, protestors, and hateful political divide constantly being transmitted into our home through the TV.

While I was away I didn’t look at the news. I walked on a beach and watched the sunrise and listened to the sound of waves and felt the wind blowing against my skin. I took photos of jellyfish, birds, crabs, shells, and flowers. I rode a bike and felt the sun on my back. The sound of the ocean and children laughing filled my heart and being with peace.

My friend and I even discovered an alligator in the pond behind the condo where we were staying, took photos, and marveled at the wonder and goodness of God’s creation. It revived my tired soul and lifted my faith in God.

Of course, I couldn’t stay at the beach forever, but when I got home I purposed in my heart to turn off the news, take more walks outside and enjoy the people I meet along the way.

This morning in church the pastor reminded us that the peace of God is found in His creation in Philipines 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

We have to remember that whatever happens in this world does not define who we are or the joy or strength of our souls. What defines us is what we believe in, what we stand up for, and how we treat ourselves and others.

Turn on the light

My nine-year-old grandson understands what the Coronavirus Pandemic is, where it started and how it has affected his world.  Recently when we had our Zoom visit, he said that most of the people dying from the virus are older people. I remembered once when he asked me if his Papa and I were old. So, I thought I’d find a way to assure him that we are OK.

Turn On The Light Nb

“I’m writing a story on how light helps us to see better in the dark,” I told him. “Are you afraid of the dark?”

“Sometimes, when I think I see something scary in the dark,” he said.

“What do you do when you think you see scary things in the dark,” I asked him. “I turn the light on,” he said.

“Sometimes what we don’t know can be scary, too, I explained.  That is why it is important to ask questions.”

And then I explained to him that most of the older people getting the coronavirus were already very sick and most of them survived.

“Papa and  I are not sick.  We are well, and doing all the things we need to do to be safe.” I could see a change in his face, kind of like a light that went on in his head.

Children, as well as some adults, don’t often know how to express their fears and ask the right questions.

As we slowly emerge from the darkness of the Coronavirus Pandemic, getting the facts is essential so that we can turn the light back on in our lives and stop being afraid.

The Covid-19 pandemic is tragic, but it has been especially sad happening during a presidential election year.  The American people might have been treated with more respect and given more accurate information if the politicians and mainstream media were not working more for themselves than the people who pay for good leadership and unbiased reporting.

Recently, after three months of giving people a choice of wearing a mask, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, decided to make it mandatory to wear a mask into public indoor areas.

Unfortunately, the news shows the governor on a beach the weekend before giving that order taking very close selfies with people all around him without any apparent social distancing.

The sad and confusing thing about this mandate is that his actions speak louder than his words, and it is difficult for people to take him seriously. Therefore, we have a right to ask questions.

There have been mixed messages about wearing masks to prevent the spread of this coronavirus. Still, there has never been any confusion about hand washing and social distancing in the presence of a contagious virus.

According to the CDC, experts didn’t know in the beginning that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus before symptoms appeared. Nor was it known that some people have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to others. 

That’s why they say masks help inside a building.

Another question about the governor’s mandate is that the southwest, Virginia is not like Northern Virginia.  We have experienced very few positive Covid-19 cases as compared to Northern Virginia, where our daughter lives in Fairfax county.

My daughter said, “Mom, it’s a lot different here.  We’ve had over 10,000 cases and almost a 1000 deaths.  For us wearing a mask is no different than the no shoes, no shirt, no service businesses require to enter their building.  It’s just that right now that includes no masks.”

Many people in our town have said they will take their business elsewhere before they would wear a mask into every public indoor area.

However, I love our town and the people who are part of our life here.  I don’t want our businesses to fail, and I don’t want to offend others who are afraid of not wearing masks.

Wearing masks while into public indoor areas is not only a law in Virginia, but also in other states.

Recently,  I realized something when I  saw an older friend, wearing a mask, walking toward me.  When she saw me, her eyes lit up.  But then I saw a little fear because I didn’t have on a mask and a light went on in my heart.

There is a scripture lesson I learned as a young person in I Corinthians 8:9.  “But take care that this right of your does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”

I am not saying that everyone who wears a mask is weak. I am saying that I don’t want to the cause of someone being afraid.  I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

My husband has serious health issues, and last week he became very sick.  On my way to the hospital, I prayed he had not contracted the coronavirus.  Thank God, he had not, but it changed my perspective.

I remember when the no-smoking signs appeared in restaurants in 2006.  I was so grateful, because secondary smoke makes me very sick, especially since I was a child that inhaled secondary smoke my entire young life.

The truth is we’ve all been well educated on how to avoid contracting this virus and how not to transmit it to others.  It is our responsibility to use common sense, take the necessary precautions, and do what is best for ourselves, our families and those around us. 

And that’s my point.  It isn’t just about my rights and comfort.  It’s also about those around us.

As far as this governor and all the other elected politicians in this country, we have every right to question their motives, behavior, and decisions.  In fact, we should question them.  And then we should vote them out of office if we are not satisfied with their answers!

Eye Contact

My friend laughed when I told her how persistent my dad was about making eye contact when speaking to or listening to someone.

Eye Contact Nb

I hated it when he would say, “Look at me when I’m speaking to you.” The rule wasn’t just when he needed my attention. It was when anyone was talking to me.

“You know, Deana, when babies are born, making eye contact with them is their first connection with the people who love them.”

She’s right. Eye gaze is one of the most exciting milestones babies achieve! I remember the first time I saw my baby’s eyes recognized me–her mom.

During the Covid-19 quarantine, it has felt odd since social distancing and wearing masks have become a part of everyday life.  I didn’t realize how many visual cues I took for granted before the lockdown started.

“I miss seeing people’s smiles and the lines around their mouths,” I told her. “I notice that some people turn away when you walk by, while others seem to be afraid to make eye contact.” She said she noticed that, too.

Eye contact and listening with our ears is probably the most powerful way we communicate. A single fleeting look from across a room or the change or hesitation in someone’s voice can speak volumes.

About 80% of the information we receive from the environment comes to us through our vision. Like it or not, our eyes are also involved in telegraphing cues to others about our emotions, health status, social attractions, and behavioral intentions.

A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American poet and philosopher, said, “An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun, or can insult like hissing and kicking; or in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, make the heart dance with joy.”

Wow! What a powerful statement of how important our eyes are in our communication with others.

Maybe that’s why there are so many songs written about the eyes. Songs about Lyin’ Eyes, Crying Eyes, Cheating Eyes, and Loving Eyes tell stories.

Think about all the emotions and messages conveyed through our eyes; the love in our partner’s eyes, the trust in the eyes of a friend, the truth you see or not see when dealing with the world, and the joy when a child can see the pride in their parent’s eyes.

Keeping eye contact with the person you are talking to is also respectful. It indicates that you are focused and paying attention. It means that you’re essential to them.

My friend continued to say, “As we get older, we stop looking into the eyes of those we love, and sometimes that’s why relationships begin to fail.”

With computers and phones becoming our constant companions and social partners, we are having more conversations without actually hearing or seeing each other.

It is easy to feel like an intruder who should come back later when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone looking at their phone instead of you.

Shakespeare said, “The eyes are the windows to our soul.” Maybe that is why we don’t know what’s going in our children’s lives or our partner’s hearts. If we are not looking at each other, we may be missing something.

In matters of the heart, if we look closely into the eyes of those we know, we can sometimes see feelings they have no words for, like pain, fear, anger, despair, or intent.

Our eyes also reflect integrity, sincerity, and comfort when communicating with others. They tell us if the conversation is going well, and when the conversation is not going well.

When I was dating my husband, he looked at me one day and said, “You have the most beautiful brown eyes.” I moved away and said, “My eyes are green.”

He blushed and said, “I’m sorry; I’m color blind.” That is the day I knew he loved me. I saw it in his eyes. It also explained why his clothes never matched.

My dad could tell how much it irritated me by the way I rolled my eyes when he was trying to teach me this communication skill. But it was some of the best advice he gave me.

I understand the social distancing that is necessary during the COVID-19 quarantining, but I hope it doesn’t become the “new normal,” because we need to see each other.

It will be beautiful when our world opens up again, we can say what Katherine Mansfield wrote in her 1888 poem: “Ah, what happiness it is to be with people who are all happy, to press hands, press cheeks, and smile into another’s eyes.”

Happy Mother’s Day Rosie

Rosie knelt down, felt the pecans in the grass, and then crawled around on the ground collecting them and depositing them in her bucket.

Happy Mothers Day Fb

She is legally blind, and couldn’t see the nuts when she was standing. Her vision, which had been damaged by scar tissue as a child, was clear enough to make out objects, but she had to get very close to see the details.

When she held the pecans in her hand, she used her sense of touch to tell the difference between the good ones and the bad ones.

She could feel if there was a tiny insect hole or if they were too light, indicating decay inside.

There were usually two buckets beside her: one for the Western Scheleys and the other for the Stuart Papershell variety that fell from the 11 pecan trees in our backyard.

When we came home from school, we all pitched in to help her. It was an important time of the year for us because the money made from late October to December harvesting pecans bought Christmas presents for us.

Rosie is my sister-in-law. She and my oldest brother opened their home for my younger brother and me after our mother died.

She was 26 and I was 13. She had three children ages 5 and under.

The first meal I had in her home was beef stew, macaroni and cheese with homemade biscuits and banana pudding with sweet tea.

She listened to my problems, helped me with my homework, helped me overcome my shyness, and bought me new dresses to wear to school.

I was the typical teenager who didn’t help out enough around the house, but I helped her see.

When someone spoke or waved to us from a distance, I would say, “Rosie, wave, it’s Mr. or Ms. whoever.” She would throw up her hand, look in the direction of the voice, and wave as though she could see them.

I learned to make cakes in her oven, remodeled an upstairs room for a home economics project, and graduated from high school with her and my brother proudly standing close by.

When I had a problem I talked it over with her. When my brother picked out her gifts, I made sure he knew what she was hoping for.

She could have just been a sister-in-law tolerating her husband’s siblings for the sake of their marriage, but she was a friend and treated me as though I was a daughter.

She understood why I cried on Mother’s Day and couldn’t help read the Mother’s Day cards she picked out for her own mother.

When it came time for my wedding, she and my brother applied for their first credit card so they could pay the expenses.

When we moved away and had our first child she comforted my husband on the phone during the long labor.

Today her vision is much worse. She lives alone in the same big old southern plantation home that she and my brother bought when they first got married. He died a number of years ago.

For a long time after her husband died she continued to get on her hands and knees to pick up pecans in the fall.

She would use the money to buy Christmas presents for the grandchildren and to keep the house fixed up.

I look for a special Mother’s Day card with large dark letters every year–one that she can use her magnifying glass to see, one that says thank you for being there for me, for helping me to grow up, and for loving me when I needed a mom and a friend.

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. PresidentMy husband is a quiet man, the kind that when the storms come, outside or inside, he’s steady as a rock. While I am trying to figure out how to fix everything and everyone he usually has three things to say. Deana, leave it alone, this to will pass, there’s a reason why things happen or what are you going to do about it?

I think the quarantining is getting to him and like everyone else he is ready for it to end. He sometimes edits my columns, checks my grammar, and reminds me to check the facts.

However, I think he may be stressing out a little because recently he handed me a column he wrote and I think some people can relate to it.

Dear Mr. President, you keep telling us to social distance, wash our hands, and keep our hands away from our face to avoid the coronavirus.

Mr. President! Social distancing is most painful. I have friends I can’t visit and neighbors in the hospital. I call them on my new phone, which had state of the art space-age video so that I see my family, I laugh with my family. I share all kinds of experiences with my family and friends. But Mr. President, I can’t touch them.

It is day 38 of this dang quarantine. I am emotionally depleted. I am physically and sensually deprived. I am ready to tell the governor to take his “stay in house” order and shove it. I am going out and touch someone. As much as a drug addict needs a fix or an alcoholic needs a drink I need to touch someone. I need to hug someone. I need a fix.

Every time I walk into the kitchen I am confronted with, “Have you washed your hands?” I turn the news channel on and again I hear, “Wash your hands.”

Mr. President, I now have dishwater hands. I don’t have wrinkles; I have mountains and valleys on my hands. I have swamp creature hands. Speaking of social media or distancing, when people see my hands they turn and run the other direction. They don’t make a hand cream that can erase the ridges in my hands.

Mr. President, it is almost a reflex to bring our hands to our faces. However, there are untold numbers of video showing our esteemed government officials touching their face to scratch an itch or rub their chin, all the while exhorting us not to touch our face.

Why, just the other day I had to sneeze. I looked for tissue to no avail. I looked for a napkin, all the while my nose was running away. I looked for a paper towel but no paper towels. I ran to the bathroom to get some toilet paper. Agast! No toilet paper.

What is a man/ woman to do? My nose is running across my mouth down to the front of my shirt. What am I to do” I know? I’ll do what my mother always did. When there were no tissues available, no napkins, no paper towels–the tail of my shirt would do, or the crook of my arm.

Mr. President, I was horrified yesterday. I am a gardener and when I work in the garden I drink a lot of water. To my astonishment I could not taste or smell the water. I begin to hyperventilate. I thought I may have gotten the coronavirus. I was terrified. I couldn’t smell, taste, or breathe.

My wife, who is a retired nurse, told me to calm down. “You need to recall your high school chemistry, she said. Pure water does not have an odor or taste.”

Where is the Kool-Aid, tea, Cola, orange juice? Anything with the taste or odor?

After I read his story, I said, “Honey, this is going to be over soon. You know everything happens for a reason. This pandemic is going to make us stronger, more conscientious, and hopefully, kinder to each other.

And there’s only one thing we can do about it and that is taking care of ourselves, follow the guidelines for not spreading the virus, and pray for our country, our family, and those who are hurting.

He’s fine now. He just needed to be reminded.

COVID-19 pandemic is changing education

My daughter asked me if I wanted to participate in our grandson’s Zoom Video classroom assignment. I said, “Yes, but what can I do?”

Covid 19 Pandemic Is Changing Education At 10:AM each morning he participates with his classmates and teacher in their online classes.

“I would like for you to have a 25-minute class at 9:30 AM to prepare him for his school morning,” she said.

I thought for a moment and she continued. “The children usually have guidance counselors in their schools but they are not a part of the online class.”

Elementary guidance counselors are responsible for providing social, emotional, behavioral, and academic treatments and guide the school students. “It could just be a “Nana” class and you can discuss what you want,” she said.

I decided to teach him a character education lesson about the different characteristics of love, using I Corinthians: 13:4-8 to demonstrate what love looks like in action.

My grandson is an enthusiastic hockey player so I decided to use this to aid in our discussion.

I asked if he would go out on the hockey rink with his teammates without his hockey stick. “Of course not,” he said.

Then we discussed how his hockey stick demonstrated that he is part of a hockey team and compared that to being part of a member of his family.

We broke down the three parts of his hockey stick; the handle to place his hand for stability, the shaft to control the movement and the blade (including the heel and toe) which come in contact with the puck.

Loving our family requires more than words, it requires action and good behaviors. Just like he needed to understand each part of his hockey stick to become a good hockey player, he also needed to understand each characteristic of love to be a caring member of his family, which includes the following lesson plan.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. Love does not Delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Our first lesson was fun and productive while learning the ways and reasons we should be patient, not only at school, with his teammates and with his family.

I am very excited to be able to have 25 minutes each morning to teach my grandson a lesson or just to talk and tell jokes with each other.

I miss our grandchildren and am grateful to be able to stay connected with them. I don’t have memories of grandparents. They were gone before I was born but I do know what it feels to be a grandparent. It is deep because it is like looking through the soul of the child your love so much and seeing another part of them.

We have 10 grandchildren and we see them pretty often even though they live hours away from us and I am blessed to have a loving husband to be quarantined with these last whatever number of days.

But I think of parents and grandparents who are in their homes alone and how important those phone calls and video chats from family and friends are right now. The world outside our window is beautiful, but it does not compare to the faces and voices of our children or grandchildren.

Recently, I mentioned to our children that I knew they were safe because they were all together. But then I hesitated to say, “It’s just that your dad and I are here and we miss seeing and talking to you all.”

A few days later my son set up a Zoom Meeting so we could see and talk with them.  After that our daughter invited us to help teach one of the lessons each school day in our 9-year-old Zoom classroom.

Families who are dealing with homeschooling, online jobs, refereeing their children, and the stress of finances don’t always have time to know what grandparents may need or have in their hearts. That’s why, in times like these, we need to ask.

When I send our son a note to see how they are doing I usually get a wonderful FaceTime chat with our granddaughters. When they call I walk around the house and yard and show them things so they can feel like they are visiting.

COVID-19 pandemic is quickly changing our world and the way families are communicating. But the important thing is that we are communicating.

In times like these, where there may be tension, lack of privacy and space in the home for parents and children, the lesson plan I’m teaching my grandson may remind us all that love and respect is what holds families together. 

 

 

How Not To Pick Your Nose During the Coronavirus

An entire country has been shut down for almost two months because of a virus that is transmitted through the very things mothers have been trying to teach their children for centuries: Wash your hands, keep your social distance and for goodness sake(a southern term), get your thumb out of your mouth and stop picking your nose!

How Not To Pick Your Nose During The CoronavirusThe nagging that made our children roll their eyes in the past may not be necessary in the future, especially if parents are talking to their children about how and why this virus, and all viruses, spread so fast.

Think about it. Viral infections have always spread the same way the coronavirus is spreading and killing people during this epidemic.

Through the air as small droplets or tiny aerosol particles, which is why we should stay home when we are sick so as not to expose others.

Using our unwashed hands to touch our eyes, nose and mouth.

Dr. Oz says the issue is less about touching your nose and more about keeping your hands clean. “If someone sneezed on this chair two hours ago, maybe even six hours ago, the viruses on there could still be alive,” he says. “So if I were to touch that chair and then go to my nose, my nose is a petri dish. It has nice, moist mucous membranes. And then we begin to colonize viruses.”

And the ways not to get sick has always been the same: Wash your hands a lot (although mine are beginning to look like corn husk), keep your hands away from your face and when you or someone else is sick with a contagious illness–keep your distance.

My first break after beginning nursing school, I came home and sanitized our entire house. I drove my family crazy telling them to wash their hands, but I was learning how people became ill and how I could help them avoid getting sick.

However, there is something about putting your hands to your face that brings comfort, whether it be to put your head in your hands because you have a headache, to wipe the tears from your eyes, or putting your hand over your mouth to keep from saying what you’re really thinking.

Picking your nose, however, is not only unhealthy, but is considered a private act (such as burping, farting, urinating, and defecating). I know what you’re thinking, but it had to be said to finish the story.

Have you ever stopped at a red light and glanced over at the car next to you and saw someone picking their nose with one hand on the steering while the other is in their nose? Awkward! I usually turn away quickly.

With that said, we all do it. Maybe not while our car is stopped at a red light, but we do it. People pick their nose for different reasons. Sometimes the nose is dry or overly moist and may be irritating. Picking them can relieve the discomfort. Others pick their nose out of boredom or a nervous habit.

There is a saying, “You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” I don’t know exactly what that means except maybe that you can pick your friends and you can make your own decisions, but you can’t make your friends’ decisions for them.

So that makes us responsible for taking care of ourselves while being careful not to harm others during this trying time of social distancing.

Here are some tips that can help you or be used to teach your children how to break the habit of picking their nose or constantly touching their face or even nail-biting.

A lot of times people pick at their nose because it is dry. A quick spritz with saline spray may help restore moisture and prevent dry snot and boogers. Keeping a few clean tissues in your pocket keeps your hands away from your nose.

Keeping your hands busy can help with nose-picking, nail-biting and touching your face. It can be done with a stress ball, a rubber band wrapped around your wrist, sewing, putting puzzles together or learning a new craft.

A young mother told me how she helped her children to stop picking their nose. Every time she saw them picking their nose they had to go wash their hands for 20 seconds. “It worked,” she said.

When our grandchildren visit I always have fragrant smelling liquid soap, so I know they have washed their hands when they come out of the bathroom or into the kitchen to help.

I believe our children may have healthier habits in the future because of the Coronavirus epidemic. What they’ve learned about not transmitting illness in this pandemic can turn into a new normal of practicing good hygiene in their lives and in how they teach their own children to stay well.

And if they need to be reminded, they can point back this moment in history and say, “Remember the 2020 Pandemic. Wash your hands, stop touching your face and keep your distance. You never know who’s got what!

Everything is Going to Be Alright

It’s Palm Sunday as I write this story and my husband walks in the room and says, “Hey, aren’t we going to church,”  I look up at him for a moment and he says, “Oh, right, I forgot.”

Everything Is Going To Be AlrightHe is a retired minister and always goes to church even if we are on vacation.  He believes it is important to visit the house of God on Sundays, but our churches are closed today as we practice social distancing due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

He goes into the kitchen and turns on gospel music to its highest volume and starts to cook breakfast.  I don’t know why but it made me cry, and I got up and walked outside with my coffee.

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week.  It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as Savior and King.

As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus the royal treatment and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Little did they know that when Good Friday arrived in five days he would be hanging on a cross.  Things can change very quickly.

While watching the birds flitter around the feeders I looked down and noticed a piece of broken pottery that my oldest son made for me when he was in Elementary school.  It has his little fingerprints pressed into the clay around the edges. It broke a few months ago and I have been trying to figure out how to fix it.

But the sad thing is I can’t remember the moment he gave it to me.

In times like these, I am reminded that life is made up of moments, not days, or years.  I wish I could go back and feel the moment he placed this beautiful creation in my hands, but I can’t.  There are a lot of moments like that.

It is hard right now being quarantined, not seeing our children and grandchildren, not going to church and not laughing with our friends, but this moment will be something we looked back on one day. I know we will remember how painful and hard it was but I want to create some moments that I will cherish and be proud of, as well.

While walking on the Riverwalk this week I met a man climbing up the bank holding his fishing pole. “Did you catch anything?” I asked him. “No, I just wasted an hour of my time and didn’t catch a thing.”

“Do you like to fish?” I asked. “Yeah, I do,” he replied. “Then why do you feel it was a waste of your time?” I asked him.

He just smiled impatiently, shrugged and walked away.  I know he may be worried or hurting because of this battle our country is fighting now, but I wanted to tell him that everything was going to be alright and he wasn’t wasting time doing something he loved for an hour.

My husband had an app on his computer once where a voice announced every so often, “Pay attention, now!” I don’t remember why he had it there, but it always made us smile and stop and think about what we were doing.

We have that voice in our heads and our hearts too, but so often it is blocked by all the other voices in our lives.

Recently, I watched a young mother on the playground across the street from where I live. She had two beautiful energetic children playing all around her, calling out her name as they swung on the swing set and slid down the slide, but she never looked up. She was looking down at her cell phone.

As a mother, a grandmother and a woman who lost a child before she had time to grow up, I wanted to be that voice in this mom’s head that said, “Hey, pay attention now.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love technology.  It is an excellent tool and a way of keeping close to our family and friends, but too much technology can be one of those voices that claim our attention and cheat us out of a moment we will never get back.

My husband finished making breakfast and called me in.  He saw my tears and wrapped his arms around me and prayed for our children, our grandchildren, our healthcare workers, leaders, truckers, friends, and neighbors, our world and then looked down at me and said, “Everything is going to alright, honey.”

I know he is right.  This is Holy Week.  Remember, the day that Jesus was crucified is called Good Friday because we know how it ends.  His death led to the Resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of our Christian celebrations.

My hope for you this week is that you will pay attention and cherish your moments and believe in the future because we know that everything is going to be alright, but if it isn’t–we’ll make it through it.

 

Our family and social distancing

Our children live in three different states and we are hours away from each of them. This week our youngest son needed some medical supplies and we offered to drive them to him.

Our Family And Social DistancingHe was worried about our travel and being in contact with us because he is still working around a lot of people.

After a lot of conversation we finally decided to meet halfway because he knew if we drove to his city that I would need to see our grandchildren and like other grandparents right now, we are not doing that during this time of social distancing.

On the way down he called on the car phone to check our meeting point and while on the phone he talked about his feelings during this very difficult time, while I listened.

“You know, Dad, he said. As a pastor’s family we learned to smile during difficult times so we could be of help and bring joy to others. “

“I think we learned to overcome our fears and not suppress the pain, but to fight it. As an adult, this has served me well because I can get through hard times.”

His next sentence was a little harder to say because he was choked up with tears and he said, “But dad I can’t hug you when we see each other today, because I’ve been everywhere and I don’t want to cause you any harm.”

At that point, he cried and so did my husband. But I was surprised when my husband answered him.

“Hey, son, in Vietnam I had a job to do. We had to stay fit and alert. There was always the possibility that a rocket was going to blow me away, and so be it.”

“That’s what I mean, Dad. I’m not going to put my dad in danger by hugging a man who made it through Vietnam,” our son said.

My husband replied, “Let me tell you something, son. Once when we were being fired upon by the enemy and I looked around to see my buddy was on his knees praying. I said to him, get up, Dillon. The time for praying is over. Now is the time to trust God and act on those prayers!”

He went on to say, “We have to remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. The power comes in when we know the facts, the sound mind reminds us to use sound judgment and personal discipline to take care of ourselves during this pandemic of the Coronavirus, and the spirit of love allows us to reach out to others. “

By this time we were near the rendezvous point and my husband said, “Son, what matters most to me today is that I see my children and when I get there I’m going to hug you because you need it.”

And when we stopped at our destination my husband got out of the car, walked over to our son’s car and opened the door for him. Our son stepped out and my husband gave him the package we had for him and then hugged him.

They both cried and I did too, watching a grown man hug his grown son and trusting God that they would be OK.  And then I gave each of them a squirt of hand sanitizer.

I am not advocating banishing social distancing. I know this story resonates in the heart of so many families: the need to be near each other and the anguish of not being able to share our lives right now.

It is a time to do what is best to protect ourselves and others against this hidden enemy and it is a time to trust God.

Uniting against the Coronavirus

“It’s time to shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit,” said Miguel de Unamuno in the poem, Throw Yourself Like a Seed.

These may be the words we need right now to stop analyzing whether it’s true or not, stop complaining about our discomfort and come together as a family, as neighbors, as communities and as a nation to get through a difficult time in our world.

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This morning I listened to sermons all over the country being streamed live to lift up and encourage us, and it didn’t feel bad at all not to be in church. In fact, it felt like people reaching out to people in a good way.

I have seen so many amazing things that people are doing to help, to pull together these last few weeks and I find myself praying for truck drivers, and families and older people I don’t know.

Yes, I have seen the madness and meanness too, but I believe the good in people now outweigh the bad choices others are making.

We may feel that our country is overreacting during this time but in the long run, won’t it be better than underreacting?

I read about a place that I am very familiar with in Georgia. People are experiencing pain and grief because a choir member infected with the Coronavirus, came to church and as a result 41 church members have tested positive for the COVID-19. Four are in critical condition and one person has died.

People are dying and in some cases, struggling to make ends meet and some suffering for more reasons than being sick.

A young college friend I know wrote that she was not doing well right now because she has worked hard and prepared for the last year to be a part of a recital that would allow her to play in a chamber orchestra and now it is cancelled. It may not be a big deal for someone else but it is for her.

We’re all in this together fighting one enemy that is faceless, raceless, sexless, nondenominational, bipartisan and if we work together, we can beat it.

Most places are not really shut down. Behind the scenes people are helping people, whether it be churches and organizations delivering food, medical people saving lives, families reconnecting through phone calls or people encouraging others. We are not shut down, our lives have just been redirected. We will get through this and we will be stronger, wiser and better, if we choose to be.

In this time of slowing down and being quarantined, I find myself picking up books from my shelves and reading more and watching TV less.

The poem I quoted in the beginning of this story is about work. Unamuno was saying that work was the greatest offering in life and we can choose to throw ourselves, like seeds, into what we believe in or sit on the sidelines and feel sorry for ourselves and miss the opportunity to do what we can do to make a difference.

It is time to shake off this sadness, and recover our spirit each morning as we wake up and can choose to be part of the working people’s solution.


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Throw Yourself Like Seed
by Miguel de Unamuno

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;
Sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
That brushes your heel as it turns going by,
The man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.

Now you are only giving food to that final pain
Which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,
But to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts
Is the work; start there, turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,
Don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death,
And do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,
For life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;
From your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.