Author Archives: Andrea

Social Media During a Pandemic

Social Media Bullies.  You know them?  Are you one?  Have you been bullied?  Maybe some may not call it bullying.  I do.  If you think you know more than someone, and you are willing to call them out in social media, not personally or kindly, you are a bully.  Simple as that.

logosI am on various social media sites.  I am the most active on Facebook, but I also have a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, and an Instagram account that I have yet to figure out.  I have a purpose for being on these accounts.  Before I was retired, I loved being on LinkedIn.  My resume is on there, and I have had numerous recruiters call me because of that.  I also loved networking.  I loved learning from others.  I never want to be the smartest person in the room.  I also want to be resourceful to others with my knowledge base.  It’s all a two-way street.

My reasons for being on Facebook has a much different outlook.  I love the fact that over the years, I have reconnected with old friends, I have connected with family members I barely knew, and I have connected with new acquaintances who I got to know better through this medium.  I am on this site for connecting with all these folks, and for sharing my life as they share theirs.

I am very careful about what I post on my Facebook page.  Very seldom will you see anything, if at all, that might be political.  I have friends and family on the whole spectrum of the political thought.  They have a right to think and believe what they do when it comes to politics.  I may not agree with them, and I very much dislike political statements that are against a person, and jabs at their most disliked political person.  Share with me your positive thoughts on why you believe something, not on who you don’t agree with.  I find it distasteful, for me personally, to see disparaging comments about past and current politicians.  That being said, if they post it on their personal Facebook page, I am okay with that—just don’t post it on mine.  

I truly believe in the freedom of speech, so I don’t want anyone to think they cannot say what they believe.  I just don’t believe in tearing people down.  I definitely don’t believe anyone should ever put someone down for their beliefs.  

Yes, lately, I have been told that I have partaken in the Kool-Aid.  Wow!  Can you believe that someone would say that on your own Facebook page?  So, let me explain why that was said to me, because I do not post political things on my page.

I have a photo of me in a face mask.  And true to my nature, it is a fun cupcake mask!  This world has been hit with a mysterious virus, called Corona, and it is a bit scary.  It has definitely been politicized, by all parties, but that is not my purpose.  I am 71 years old.  By what I have heard and read, I am in the vulnerable group because of my age.  I don’t have any underlying medical conditions, that I am aware, but I know that I have mild sleep apnea, which means my lungs don’t work to full capacity while I am sleeping.  My husband definitely has respiratory issues, so he is even more vulnerable being 74 years old, and with underlying health conditions.  Does that mean we are in danger?  I don’t know.  There is so much going around about this virus, that I don’t have any definitive answers.

I do know personally of people who have gotten COVID-19.  Not just old people, I know of teenagers who, although healthy, had a really hard time recovering and have had ongoing issues since.  I have family members who know personally someone who has died from this virus.  I see no reason not to be careful.  It is like if I was going to a party and found out many people attending had the mumps, the flu, or some other contagious illness, I would probably excuse myself from the invitation.  Why would I take the chance to get the infection, and worst case scenario, spread it to someone else.  History will tell us if we over reacted or under reacted, but when one is in the middle of it all, I will make the decision to protect myself in whatever way I see fit.

Now, my postings on Facebook, in my opinion are not political.  I have posted facts from the news sources of the Navajo Nation, which comprises of parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.  They have been hard hit by this virus.  People in the midwest have told me that my posting was the first they heard about this.  Living in Arizona this winter had given me a lesson about the Indian Nations.  Per capita, they were hit harder than New York City.  Many homes in the Navajo Nation are scattered, but they are small and the families are large.  So, if one family member gets sick, it spreads quickly to the whole family.  The second problem they have is that only approximately 40% of the people living in Navajo Nation do not have running water.  The first thing we were told when this outbreak occurred was to wash our hands frequently.  What if you live in the desert and you don’t have running water?  

I did not get all this information from the media.  A friend from my Arizona church has a son who lives and ministers in the Navajo Nation.  He is married to a Navajo woman, and they have three beautiful children.  I spoke with him yesterday.  He is so busy passing out food and cleaning supplies to the people.  He stated that his job is to help the people physically and spiritually.  The health department has given him names of the most vulnerable.  He delivered a care package of food to a family who had not eaten for three days.  The hotels in his area are now COVID-19 hospitals.  Many have died and many are sick.  Do not tell him, or those he lives and works with that this is a nothingburger.  It is very real to them.  When we drove home from Arizona a few weeks ago, we stopped along the highway near Gallup, New Mexico to buy gas.  I commented to Dennis that everyone had on face masks, even outside while pumping their gas.  He looked at me and said, “We are in Navajo Nation.”  These people have good reason to attempt to be safe.  So, I posted on my Facebook page information about what is happing in Navajo Nation because  we need to be aware, and we need to be compassionate.  We need to help those in need, even if you have a problem with the origins of this virus.  Jesus calls us to be compassionate.  He never was afraid to say a hard truth, but he was always compassionate, especially to the sick.

IMG_3084

When “Corona” doesn’t let you celebrate with others!

Back to social media.  My posting about the virus is pretty much my humor plus my discomfort.  Don’t we tend to joke about that which we don’t understand.  I am not a big beer drinker, or any alcohol, for that matter.  I don’t find it that tasty.  Give me a good chocolate chip cookie instead!  On occasion, I will drink an alcoholic beverage.  When we arrived in Fulton last week, Dennis bought Corona beer. (That was his joke).  I do not like heavy beers.  If I drink a beer, it has to be pretty light.  He opened his bottle of Corona Extra, and it looked light, and I took a sip.  Not only was it light, it had no funky aftertaste.  On snoopyMemorial Day, I grilled some brats, and I posted this photo on Facebook stating, “When Corona doesn’t let you celebrate with others.”  It was a joke—a play on words because the virus has caused people to isolate.  Some people did not get the joke, but my friend who did, posted this one afterward.

I posted this photo of my husband.  Others have complained they haven’t had haircuts in months.  I, on the other hand, not being a licensed hairdresser, own a pair of hair cutting scissors, and I am not afraid to use them—just ask friends from my youth!  I have kept our hair trimmed.  Dennis, during this time has grown a beard, at my prompting.  So many men had quit shaving while they were sheltered-in-place, just as we women have stopped wearing a bra while sheltered in place!  Ha!  I let out the secret.  I think the hardest thing about women having to go back to work and into society is getting used to wearing that horribly uncomfortable contraption again!  In the posting of Dennis’ photo, I mentioned that I had been trimming our hair, and also his  “quarantine beard.”  That’s what I called it because he would have never grown a beard before, but was willing to do so as he sheltered-in-place—like who needs to shave if you aren’t going anywhere?  Once again, I was accused of being duped, I assume because I used the word “quarantine.”  

sadI don’t respond to those types of comments.  My first reaction is to write back.  I want to say that this person isn’t allowed to write negative comments on my Facebook thread.  They can write whatever they want on theirs.  But, I always stop myself.  I am not on Facebook to argue with someone.  Actually, I have always really liked this person.  These comments sent directly at me are hurtful.  If they are really inflammatory, I will delete it from the thread.  I can delete any statement someone makes on the my Facebook page.  I can also delete something I say on someone else’s.  So if you have accidentally, out of frustration, posted something you regret on someone’s thread, you can go delete your statement.  I have typed many responses, then read them, and then deleted them.  I am not on Facebook for political or any other arguments.  If you want to dialog with me, send me a private message.  I might respond to that.

the-cross-1-1536650Of all the subjects that one gets riled up on social media, the only one I will ever mention is the one about my faith.  Why?  Because my faith is the most single important thing to me.  What I will not do is give someone my faith opinion on their page, or argue with them.  I am a Christ follower.  I believe my faith in Christ has given me purpose and peace like nothing else in my life has done.  I am willing to share that with anyone — if they ask.  I will not argue my faith v. their faith on social media, or anywhere else.  I will share what I believe, and I will listen to what they believe.  I will love them regardless of what they believe, even if I don’t agree with them.  

Sometimes I think people make these angry responses on social media because they don’t know where to take their frustration.  I learned a long time ago in my 12-step group for codependency that I cannot change anyone.  It is also not my job to get in their face to change them.  Have you heard the phrase, “Let go, and let God”?  That is from 12-step groups.  When we try to fix others,  we only get frustrated and can easily fall back into our dysfunction (codependency, alcohol, drugs, eating disorder, or whatever the dysfunction).  Even a 12-step group knows that only God has the ability to change someone.  Not us.  So, stop trying to make yourself miserable trying to fix other people. 

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5

What does that mean?  Well, it’s so easy to see what others are doing wrong.  We want to point out their wrongdoings, and forget that we may not even have a “speck” in our eye, but a “log.”  Jesus says that criticizing others is hypocritical.  By the way, we all have a log in our eye.  None of us are perfect.  What right do we have to judge other people?  I do believe that we can have a conversation about what we believe, but to call people names, to diminish them as a person, is uncalled for.  Doing this will not win anyone over.  If so, it is done only out of fear—fear that they don’t want further criticism from the accuser, or fear that everyone thinks like this accuser.  People change only when they are uncomfortable.  They don’t change because they are told to change — and only God can move them to want to change.

I have only deleted a few “friends” on Facebook.  The people I deleted actually posted on their own page, but it was so hurtful, I chose not to be connected with them.  One posted that if you believed a certain way on a particular issue, you were a terrible person, and that they could not like you, or respect you, or want anything to do with with you.  Well, I happened to be one of those people who believed what they despised.  I unfriended them, because their acceptance of me felt hypocritical.  

This blog is my safe place to express my opinions.  It is not my Facebook page, which has every type of person and every belief of my friends and family.  I want to know what your kids and grandkids are doing.  I want to know how you celebrate life, and how you suffer through hardships.  I already know what I believe about my faith and about politics, so don’t try to convince me on social media.  You want to talk to me about a concern, then Talk. To. Me.  This can be in person, on the phone, email or text message.  In the meantime, let me find a fun photo to post to my friends on Facebook.

Wash hands

When the virus started in the U.S., we were told to wash our hands.  How long?  One source I read was the length of saying the Lord’s Prayer.  Because I find humor in things uncomfortable, I made this meme for my entertainment pleasure!

Home Sweet Other Home

We arrived in our Missouri home a week ago.  It took three hours to unload the travel trailer and find places to put all the groceries, clothes, and miscellaneous items we brought along for our “maybe” three months at this home.This house is our primary home until it has a completed closed sale.  We do have a contingent contract from a buyer who needs to sell their house first.  I haven’t heard how their sale is going, and I am just hoping and praying that they are doing all they can to sell their home.  In the meantime we are anchored in Missouri for the summer.  We have most of our belongings at our 2nd home in Arizona.  If the buyer sells their house quickly, or another buyer shows up for a quick sale, we can move out of this home within a week.  We have a plan.  If it happens before the summer is over, we will move our travel trailer near the St. Louis area, and stay there until summer’s end.

This house in Missouri has made a lot of good memories for me.  I met Dennis at the end of 2012.  He had been widowed, and I was single for many years.  We met on match.com.  I lived in St. Charles, MO at the time, and I had a 30 mile radius on my match account to meet people.  I met a lot of losers.  I mean a lot of losers.  I also met a lot of really nice men, but for one reason or another, they were not a suitable match, but some still remain my friend today.  As I would get bored with not meeting a great match, I would expand the radius of my searches.  That is when I saw Dennis.  I sent him a message telling him he had a great smile.  He wrote me back and informed me that he had a 93 year old mother, a 17 year old dog, and he lived 85 miles from me.  I thought those were really good reasons not wanting to meet me, and as I always did on this site, I moved on.  Two weeks later I received an email from Dennis and he asked what happened to me since I didn’t write back.  I told him that in his last reply, he gave me “47 reasons not to meet.”  He wrote back and said, “I can eliminate them all but three.”  I thought that was funny, since he had only give three in the first place, so we started corresponding.  Long story short, we were married the following August!

The first time I came to his house (now our Missouri home), I was struck by the uniqueness of the home.  I did not like the way it was painted or decorated, but the bones of the house were pretty amazing.  I am not a fan of pine, and this house is loaded with pine.  That being said, a house loaded with pine is perfect for the country setting where it sits.  It gives you a woodsy feeling when you are in this home.  It is the perfect finish for a home in this location.

As our relationship got serious, we started talking about the house.  Dennis gave me an open slate when it came to redecorating.  I was very careful how I went about this task.  Dennis was a widower.  I didn’t want to walk in and wipe out his wife from this home.  I always asked his permission before I removed anything.  I know how hard it was for him to make these changes, and I sure didn’t want to make this any harder for him.  One issue I had was that this house had furniture in every square inch.  It was overwhelming to me.  I also had furniture in my St. Charles home.  It was fairly new furniture, and I would like some of the pieces, if not all, to be able to move to this home as we made it our home.  There was no room for anything more.  Dennis promptly starting clearing out IMG_2036furniture.  A lot of the furniture were pieces that came from his deceased wife’s family.  He contacted them and asked them if they would like it back.  He proceeded to donate furniture and collectables back to her family.  Of course, any items that his son wanted went to him first.  This was, after all, his mom’s things.  

The first thing we did was repaint the interior.  Dennis was pretty surprised when he discovered that I love painting walls, so he happily joined in, and did the cutting in at the ceiling in the living room.  Oh, I forgot to mention, the walls in the living room are 20’ high.  He had a large extension ladder, and climbed up with a paint bucket and brush while I stood at the bottom of the ladder having panic attacks.  I am deathly afraid of heights.  I worried the whole time of him falling.  I would be in tears until he came back down the ladder and I knew he was safe.  Today the joke is that I stood at the bottom of the ladder worried he would fall 20′ right on top of me, and it would be weeks before our kids would find us.  Fortunately, none of that happened.Living Room Before AfterDining room befoe after We also had the exterior painted, and changes made to the front porch that not only gave it a nicer look, but made the entrance more functional.  It was an amazing transformation. house before afterAll the upstairs bedrooms became guest rooms with two rooms having queen size beds and one room with a king size bed.  The master bedroom is on the main floor.  A couple years later we did an update on the kitchen.  This kitchen is a cook’s dream.  It has a 96” center island.  It is a great space for food prep, especially baking.  It is also a great island to use for pot luck parties in the summer as we hosted many pool parties.  We also hosted my son’s wedding reception out around the pool.  Originally the island had the cooktop in the middle.  When I cooked, I was staring at the refrigerator.  Moving the cooktop to the wall counter tops, I now had a view out the window of the beautiful back yard.  The pool deck was expanded to have more walking space, and tables and chaise lounge chairs were added around the perimeter.Kitchen before afterSwim Pool Befoe afterWhen I sold my St. Charles house and moved to Fulton, Missouri, my grandkids were sad.  They said they had so many good memories of playing at that home when they were little.  These kids spent their adolescent and teen years at this mid-Missouri home making a new set of memories—swimming in the pool, roasting hot dogs at the fire pit, and making many of their amazing videos that I will keep forever as amazing memories of my grandkids.IMG_2299People question why we would move from this almost 4,000 sq. ft. home in a gorgeous setting to just 1,600 sq. ft. Home in Arizona with no pool, and no one nearby.  My husband is now 74 years old.  When he turned 70, I told him “no more 20’ ladders.”  I wanted Dennis to take it easy and enjoy his retirement.  We wanted to move somewhere warm so we didn’t have to deal with cold weather and snow in the winter.  We chose Arizona, and found a home at the foot of the San Tan Mountains.  For Dennis that was paradise.  He loves hiking, and we couldn’t ask for a better place to hike.  Our home is on one level.  It is pretty much maintenance free.   We have been there for only two winters, and we are making memories with our children and grandchildren there.  Most of them have made it out there to visit, and it gives us a new set of memories.

It took Dennis and me almost six months to downsize from this large Missouri home to the smaller one in Arizona.  We started closet by closet.  We donated thousands of items, and as we continued, it got easier and easier.  It felt freeing not to have so much stuff.  Our kids had first pick of anything we chose to dispose of, and what they didn’t want, we donated.  I have just one piece of furniture that went to Arizona.  It was a rocking chair that has been in my family all my life.  No other furniture was moved.  When the sale on this house closes, we already know what furniture our kids want, and the rest will be donated.  It will be a much easier move.  All the stuff, like books, kitchen items, etc., were all moved to Arizona.  I had to bring a few kitchen items back for this summer.  I am hoping and praying this will be the last summer trip to this home.

I want a new family to make memories here.  There is so much room for entertainment indoors and out.  I want to think about new kids splashing in the pool in the summer, barbecues in the summer, and hot dog roasts in the fall.  Then my “Home Sweet Other Home” will be just my “Home Sweet Home.”

IMG_0935IMG_2493IMG_0927

Traveling During COVID-19

I didn’t realize this was going to be so hard.  We have been planning to come to Missouri for a while.  We wondered how we were going to accomplish this task in the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic.  Restaurants are closed down, and we just didn’t feel comfortable getting food from places that were unfamiliar.  A couple months ago Dennis had a brilliant idea to purchase a travel trailer.  We could go from our home in Arizona to our home in Missouri without stopping anywhere other than to gas up the car.  It was a beautiful plan, and we accomplished the task with so much ease.IMG_0585

IMG_2872It is amazing how the terrain changed so quickly in Arizona.  We went from desert oasis of Saguaro cactus to climbing elevations and seeing fir trees instead.  The looks of the mountain from a desert mountain to a snow capped mountain was quite a change in only a few hours.

As we traveled east, we headed on I-40 toward New Mexico.  We were not too far into the state, and we stopped for gas.  I immediately noticed everyone, and I mean everyone, was coming in and out of the IMG_2886service station with face masks on.  They even had them on as they were pumping gas.  In the Phoenix area, it is about 50/50 of people wearing masks.  Most folks as they are outside, do not wear one.  That was not the case at this location.  I commented to Dennis that EVERYONE had on their masks.  He looked at me, and commented, “We are in Navajo Nation.”  Why of course.  Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the Corona Virus.  I have been following on Facebook and the news of their IMG_2900plight.  My heart breaks for these indigenous people.  Many don’t even have running water.  How can you continually wash your hands if you don’t have running water?  It was a good reminder for me that although I feel safe, not everyone is, and I at some time, might not be either.

Our travel trailer is small.  It is just the right size for two of us.  The small sofa folded down into a very comfortable queen size bed.  It has a small kitchen that consisted of a deep sink, 2 burner gas cooktop, microwave/convection oven, and a 6 cu. ft. refrigerator/freezer. We had a full bathroom with separate shower, and plenty of cabinets for storing food and clothes.

We stayed at three different RV parks on our way home—Albuquerque, New Mexico, Yukon, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Missouri.  When we arrived at our home in Missouri, it took three hours to unload and find a place for everything.  I took a shower and put in a couple loads of laundry before stopping for the day.

On our trips I take a lot of photos while traveling.  My photos are taken out of the car window, and I am always amazed with the photos my iPhone takes.  In Arizona, I was intrigued by the change in terrain from desert to mountains with fir trees, back to desert.  New Mexico is just plain fascinating.  The rock formations are amazing.  The windmill farms in New Mexico and Oklahoma dot the landscape, and the wind that was blowing very briskly had all these windmills doing their work.  Coming out of Oklahoma into Missouri, I was intrigued by the cloud formations—the fact that there were large white billowy clouds, and as we moved into Missouri these clouds were darkening into rain clouds.

Now we are at our home in Missouri.  I am hoping that the sale of this house will be soon.  We have a contingent contract.  Our buyer needs to sell her house first.  We are hoping this will happen quickly.  We want to be permanently settled in Arizona this winter.  I really feel at home there.  It has been tough being sheltered-in-place, not seeing friends and cousins, but our hiking trails and the mountains kept us busy—until we started hitting 100+ degree weather.IMG_3068

When we arrived at our Missouri home yesterday, I posted on Facebook that we had arrived with a photo of our home with the travel trailer in front.  My neighbors welcomed me back, and some relatives welcomed me back.  I was super excited.  I am down the road from our children . . . and, then I got the reminder . . . everyone is IMG_1985sheltered in place.  Coming back to Missouri did not change anything.  I was really sad last night.  In Arizona we are far away from our children, but now we are near and yet so far away. 

This is really hard.  I didn’t realize that I would feel that divide like I did last night.  I was really good in Arizona because no one was close by.  But, we are close by, and not able to see and hug your loved ones is difficult.  Last night, Dennis reminded me that we can do things around the yard—get flowers planted, get the pool area cleaned up and all the furniture distributed on the pool deck.  The pool company is scheduled to open our pool in four days.  It might be a little too cool to swim—Missouri still has cool evenings, and the water cools off quickly at night.  But we can sit out on the screened in porch, eat meals out there, swim in the pool, and do all the same things we did in Arizona.  I will pretend my kids and grandkids are not just down the road.

Many folks are starting to get together.  I have a daughter-in-law who has immune issues.  I will not jeopardize her safety.  I have people telling me I am drinking the Koolaid, but I would rather be safe than take my chances on whether there is a real threat or not.  My stepson works in a hospital laboratory, so he is not one to be around either at this time.  My 18 year old grandson just sent me a text that he would be willing to come visit.  I know he has quarantined for weeks, so I would love to have him come visit.  We will work on future plans.

I will get through this just like I did in Arizona.  When we first started to shelter-in there, I was blue.  I couldn’t believe that there was this virus out there that was highly contagious, and so many people would get sick.  It made me exceedingly sad.  As time moved on, I got used to being in our home without friends.  I will take a deep breath, I will enjoy this home while we still own it.  I will pray that the house has a closing date sooner than later.  I will see my children and grandchildren again.  My concern is the 2nd round of the virus that will hit when people start assembling again.  It happened with the Spanish Flu, and it will happen with this one.  Although more people die of the flu, this virus is more highly contagious, and there is yet a vaccine for it.  Most people will survive this virus, but I am not going to be responsible to knowingly spread this virus.  I don’t know who would not survive this.  It could be me.  Or it could be you.

So, I will spend my time here in this house getting the yard ready for summer.  I will pray our buyer gets her house sold quickly.  We have a plan for a quick move out if closing happened sooner than later.  I will see my children and grandchildren soon. The time will be right when it happens. Prayer

“IN AWE” of John O’Leary

bookToday is a special day for my friend and author, John O’Leary.  His 2nd book, “In Awe” hits the bookstore shelves.  Well, okay, most bookstores are closed due to the Corona Virus Pandemic, but his book was released today and is available easily through Amazon. 

I met John ten years ago this spring.  He was speaking to a small group of business people, and I was among the approximately 30 folks there to hear him. I had never heard of John.  He had no books published, and he was just starting out speaking to groups.  This was a small one in comparison to what he does today.  After he spoke, I hung around and chatted with him.  His story touched my heart in many ways.  When he asked us who we would be “Jack” for, I knew immediately who I wanted to reach out to, even if it was just small things.  I had someone in mind who I knew was going through a struggle at the time.  (I will explain who “Jack” is below).

For those of you not familiar with John, I will give a very brief history of what I know.  When he was nine years old, one Saturday morning, while his mom and dad were out, and teenage brother and other siblings home, John decided to go into the garage and experiment with a piece of paper lit on fire and a five gallon container of gasoline.  To say the least, that is a bad combination.  He didn’t cause a little fire, he caused a major explosion, setting the house on fire, but worst of all, setting himself on fire.  He was burned so badly, he was not expected to live through that night.  He had a less than 1% chance.  Now, that’s some really bad odds.

John had come from a wonderful family, and the strength of his parents, and the kindness of strangers, especially Jack Buck, helped John to recover.  Jack Buck was the sportscaster for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.  His voice is well known over the radio broadcasting play by play, and John was no stranger to that voice.  Although, John was completely bandaged up in the burn unit of the hospital, he recognized that voice, and the encouragement that Jack Buck gave him.  

John did recover, but not without many surgeries and scars.  He spent five months in the hospital.  His family stayed elsewhere while their house had to be rebuilt.  John being in our presence is proof that there are still miracles among us.

Ten years ago, when he was starting out his speaking, he was also leading executive workshops.  I was invited to assist him in one of these workshops.  There were two things we did that really changed my direction in life.  The first was that John had us all write our “Ignition Statement” and our “Life Vision” which was actually writing our personal mission statement.  He shared his with us, and helped us all work through writing the thing that really sets us on fire.  Here is what I wrote that day, and still read it today:

My Ignition Statement:  I want to enjoy each day to the fullest, show love to others, be a light to those who want direction, accepting others where they are, being their cheerleader, showing passion, forgiveness, love and connection.

My Life Vision:  To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value and worth and a voice.  I want to be surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.

The other thing that John encouraged us to do at this workshop was to set up a Personal Board of Directors.  Wow!  What a crazy idea.  He suggested we find folks we like and respect and ask them to sit on our board, so they we are accountable for the bigger life we wanted to lead.  He said not to be afraid to ask people, even busy people.  I made my list of some personal friends, some close business colleagues, and I added John.  He kindly accepted, and he along with five other folks received a weekly email from me.  The email stated my Ignition Statement and Life Vision at the top.  Then for almost two years I wrote and shared what I was doing that week to live these statements to John and five other of my personal board of directors.  I still have those emails, and I still have the email replies from John who was always encouraging me to keep going and meet the challenges I set before me.  I just took a look, and saw one I wrote shortly after my sister died from a short and fast battle with cancer.  Today as I read John response, it brought tears to my eyes.  John always responded to my board reports, and I am so grateful for almost two years he took the time to read and respond.

Fast forward a few years.  John has written a book about the day he was burned and his recovery.  I was so happy for John that he was able to put this amazing book together.  I had preordered the book and it arrived in our mailbox as we were pulling out of the driveway and driving into St. Louis.  I started reading the book out loud to Dennis as we were driving down the interstate.  I don’t remember the exact part, but early in the book, you see the strength and determination of John’s mother in his recovery.  I am reading this passage to Dennis, but am having trouble because I am crying, and I turn to tell Dennis that I’m sorry I am having trouble getting the words out.  There was my sweet husband driving down the road, with big alligator tears coming down also.  I then realized that we would read the book when his driving abilities were not needed.  We attended John’s book launch party in March of 2016.

Today, John’s 2nd book has come out.  It is trending on Amazon.  I was privileged to be an “In Awe Ambassador” and received an advance copy of the book.  The last few weeks we had Facebook Live meetings with John discussing the book, and our last meeting was a Zoom meeting where we could see the other “in Awe Ambassadors.”  This book is a gem.  If you want to feel hope, there is no better time than during this pandemic to read In Awe.”  We were in awe as children, and then as we grew older, we just totally forget how to be in awe of the life we were given and those around us.  John reminds us all that we can still be in awe of life.  His book is filled with stories from his life where he has learned to be in awe.  His four beautiful children have reminded him and us of all we can be grateful for, and knowing that “the best is yet to come.” 

Today the book launched quietly, or so John thought.  Then he went outside his office, and there was all his staff (safely distanced) with a champagne party and these adorable “In Awe” cookies!

Please click here to order your copy of In Awe” or your copy of “On Fire.”  

John O’Leary, I am so glad I got to meet you in that small little meeting on the campus of Lindenwood University.  I am grateful for the friendship we have had over the years, and how you have continued inspired me.  

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

As I am getting notices of blogs, and as I am looking over my social media, one thing is prevalent — talking about COVID19, Corona Virus, Pandemic, Sheltering-In-Place, Quarantining.  Oh my goodness, what will we talk about when this is over?  Do we even remember what we talked about before the middle of March?

old ladyThese weeks have been a blur.  I have to look at a calendar to remember how long it has been.  I remember when we were first told to shelter-in-place, especially those over 65 or those with underlying medical issues.  Well, I am 71 years old.  I never thought of myself as old, or as vulnerable, and now my outlook seems to gone down some.  I am those old people of whom others are referring.  Do you know how weird that sounds to me?  Probably not, unless you are also over 65, and especially in your 70’s.  I always say that I was young until one day I wasn’t.  Thanks to this pandemic, the world has reminded me that I am not young.  That is the downside for me of this pandemic.  I agree, I am grateful that this is my downside, because far too many people have had a much different downside, like being ill, losing loved ones, losing jobs, living alone and dealing with loneliness, having to figure out how to teach your child at home (which was why you chose not to home school in the first place).  

A few days ago a 12 year old who lives near our home in Missouri, has passed away from a brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG), which is all for a fancy wyattword for a malignant tumor at the brain stem.  Look it up — I had to.  The prognosis for this type of cancer is very bleak.  I have been following Wyatt’s support Facebook page since it was established, which I think has only been a little over a year ago.  I tried to check that but there are so many postings on it, that it would take hours to scroll through them to find the first posting.  I think it was February of 2019.  His death hit me hard for a few reasons.  The first being, of course, it seems so sad that a young person (or any person) has to struggle with disease and pass away.  I also got to know this child through these postings.  His mom is very a good friend with my friend and audiologist, Amy.  My friend and next door neighbor in Missouri, Cassie, lost her son, Sam, at age six from cancer.  She and her husband are the founders of the Super Sam Foundation, which is a non-profit that supports the fight of childhood cancer, and also provides comfort packs for the child, the siblings, and parents (a wish that Sam had for “all the kids”).  They also fund childhood cancer research.  I have been supporting that organization since its beginning, and they have been in there with this struggle for Wyatt.  I was so sad that Wyatt’s parents cannot get together with family and friends to grieve the loss of their beloved son, and get strength to help their other son deal with this tragedy.  Social distancing stinks at a time like this.  

Gatherings of all types are shut down.  Churches are finding new ways to minister and connect virtually.  Last night I was on a Zoom meeting with the pastors of our church in Missouri as they shared the new ways they are connecting and the work it takes.  This church has three services on Sunday, the auditorium holds 1,500 people, and sometimes they have to use overflow rooms to stream the service because more than 1,500 have shown up.  They have been streaming their services online since I have been attending which has been almost 7 years.  Now, they say, they have gotten more sophisticated in how they do the streaming.  They realized that when previously streaming the live services you could see the stage and the congregation, and it felt like you were there, but now it’s a big empty room.  They are using less people on their musical team during to conform to social distancing.  So not to get the stage to look overwhelming, they actually use effects to lessen the look of spaciousness.  They also set up a flat screen television next to IMG_2747where the pastor gives his sermon, not using the giant screens on each side of the auditorium.  This they claim also made the feeling of being in the room with them and not overwhelmingly empty.  I realized as they shared this, that when I streamed their services, it felt so close to home, so to speak, than the services streamed at our smaller church in Arizona which looks less comfortable, making myself more easily distracted.  The most interesting part was that their music is not being streamed from the speakers in the auditorium but directly to the sound boards which is streaming with the video, so the sound quality it amazing.  Good for them to have the talent and ability to make these changes to help us feel as connected as we can in this tough time.  

I really hope my pandemic blogs are nearing an end.  I see there is a small light at the end of the tunnel as businesses are starting come up with a way to reopen.

IMG_0964Large venues will have a struggle with this as social distancing is still being recommended.  In fact, in this church meeting, the pastors commented that they are working on how they will be able to open if social distancing is still required.  Remember I said their auditorium holds 1,500 people in theater seating—can’t move those seats around.  When will we see professional baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and other sports?  When will your kids get to play contact sports again?  

There are a lot of questions.  No one has all the answers.  This is new to everyone.  This is a major reason why I don’t criticize any of the politicians, scientists, business owners, schools, entertainment venues, etc., working on the solutions.  Everyone is doing their best job for what they know.  It is confusing, and they are trying to keep us protected, and yet give us the freedoms we so love and desire.

We will come out of this, just like the world has come out of these plagues since the days of the Israelites in the Old Testament, to the black plague in the 16th century, and to the Spanish Flu last century.  We need to remember the lessons that we are being taught.  We need to remember that while we are in crisis and as we call out to God, not to forget to bookcall out to him also in good times.  Most of all, right now, just count your blessings—there are many good things that are happening—from people generously making face masks, providing food, or just something as simple as eating with your family without having to rush out the door for another meeting or sports practice.  It is all good.  We are survivors!

Next week my friend John O’Leary’s book, In Awe, will be released.  John was burned 99% of his body at age 9, and he was not expected to live through the night.  His story is shared in his book, On Fire, and also talked about in this new book.  This new book has perfect timing.  It is about how we find awe and joy in living when things around us are tough.  We as adults get so wrapped up in our careers and other responsibilities that many times we lose the joy of life that we had as a child.  Let’s not forget that there is still joy, peace, and contentment to be found even during scary times.

Prayer

« Older Entries Recent Entries »