The year is now 2020, a New Year (as well as a new decade) which frequently signifies the proverbial fresh start. This new beginning presents a chance to modify one’s behavior, an opportunity to “turn over a new leaf” or begin again (by establishing new habits, resolving to eat healthier, exercise more, reduce screen time, etc.). Many of us find we’re captive to at least one bad habit and we’re anxious to exchange that bad habit for a new – and preferable – habit, am I right?
In this New Year, there’s also a subtle reference to sight. Think about the common term for visual acuity – 20/20 – which widens the opportunity for reflection. In my view, 2020 is more than a particular year on our calendar; it’s an invitation to embrace the year ahead with clear-eyed thinking … and doing. Continue reading “New Year – New Me?”→
The dictionary uses evocative terms to define and describe the unique properties of Gold (chemical symbol Au): durable, malleable, resistant to corrosion. It is a precious metal, connoting beauty and elegance as well as great value.
These definitions may be applied to a 50-year marriage: durable, malleable, resistant to corrosion. Likewise, the long-lived marriage is precious, signifying beauty and elegance in addition to great value. Continue reading “Striking Gold”→
Wassailing … this traditional English practice of singing Christmas carols from house to house and door to door reflected the Joy of the season as expressed through song. Singers bade the hearers another year of good health. Hearers were equally festive, sharing a cup or two of spiced wine from their wassail bowls.
Lyrics of this old song repeat the words: “Love and joy come to you and … God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.” From our door to yours, from our house to yours, we greet you with warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas 2019 as well as good health and God’s blessings in 2020.
Our church today celebrated the second Sunday of Advent 2019 in a traditional way, lighting the Candle of Peace. Though there are different practices and traditions attached to celebrating Advent, this observation draws us to reflect on what’s truly important about Christmas (the birth of Christ).
Angels were the first heralds to announce “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.” (Luke 2:14) But peace often seems out of our grasp. I’m reminded of Longfellow’s 1863 poem “Christmas Bells.” Each stanza echoes the words peace on earth, good will to men while the sixth stanza derisively proclaims “there is no peace on earth.“
Ninety-seven years ago today, my daddy entered this world. As one might expect, he had a significant impact on my life and I’ve posted about him numerous times in this space. With the recent commemorations of D-Day, I’ve been thinking often about Norman Arthur Stricker whose Army Serial Number was 37 404 688.
In an interesting turn of events, I’m spending this day some 14 miles from the Florida condo he and my mother shared in the years before his 1994 death. I thought this would be an appropriate time to debut a new subsection of my blog devoted to my Stricker roots. It’s located here and if you’re related to the Stricker family in any measure, I hope you’ll enjoy this tribute to my dad.
The recent commemorations of D-Day have sparked my reflections. With this final day of June 2019, my thoughts center on my father-in-law (FIL) whose birthday it is. He was born in 1921. I’ve mentioned him in several previous posts, most recently here.
Born in Kansas, the second child of Fred and Georgia, Max learned early the importance of hard work, a way of life embedded deep in their German heritage. He often reminded his sons how his own father tied a block of wood to the child’s foot so he could reach the tractor’s gas pedal. Able-bodied children learned the value of work to help families survive.
This work ethic propelled young Max into adulthood. Ambition and aptitude directed him to Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Kansas State University) where he prepared for his future career as an engineer. As sometimes happens, these plans were interrupted by the shadow of war. Like many of his peers, this engineering student enlisted in the US Army.
When Max reported for active duty, he served with the Signal Corps stationed in the Philippines. His eldest son (also named Max) was born during this overseas deployment.
Following World War II, Max pursued various engineering and corporate positions that brought him success. He was wise and expert, an admirable man. He and his wife raised four sons, each of whom exhibits distinct character qualities (even facial expressions) learned from their father.
Looking back though, I’ve come to realize … to my regret … I didn’t know my FIL well. He was an imposing figure to me, tall and commanding as one might expect of a former Army officer. As his daughter-in-law, I found myself unable to establish a comfortable level of familiarity where I could characterize him as my friend. Though he was kind and cordial, he seemed a generally quiet man, sometimes prone to share stories, but usually content to observe the interactions and conversations of those around him.
Mostly, what I know of the man is what I’ve seen reflected in my Beloved. The second child of a second child, my Beloved mirrors his father’s disposition as a generally quiet man. Observing my Beloved’s love for me and for his children and grandchildren, I’m grateful to his father for being a good dad and provider.
Perhaps more than anything else, I realize my FIL passed on to my Beloved a precious spirit of play. Pictured at right in the final years of his life, Max displays the winning hand in a monumental match of Texas Hold’em. To start, there may have been eight or ten competitors sitting at that roundtable contest. One by one, they went down in defeat to the most seasoned (and senior) card player at the table. Even as a man in his 80s, Max delighted in being champion of all.
We don’t have much occasion to break out the cards these days, but whenever my Beloved splashes his grand-twins in their mini-pool or welcomes the grandchildren to hop on top his truck for a raucous ride around the lawn, I’m gratified by his joyous spirit of playfulness … and how Scripture – once again – demonstrates its essential Truth to our everyday lives.
Memorial Day. A designated Federal holiday, the name signifies a specific day set aside annually to memorialize and honor those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Earliest observances of the day pre-date the Civil War.
In my younger years, I recall hearing the day referred to as “Decoration Day.” That was understood to mean my relatives were headed to the cemetery to decorate graves with flowers and flags … and occasionally, a sprinkling of tears. I don’t recall the decorations being placed exclusively on graves of military deceased, though I admit, I probably wasn’t paying close attention.
The yearly observance of Father’s Day has become a curious phenomena of late. Verbiage including phrases like “toxic masculinity” and the dreaded “male privilege” are bandied about, calculated to make all of us squirm. The always-reliable satire of The Babylon Bee makes this point with its June 15th story: Father’s Day Updated To ‘Toxic Masculinity Awareness Day.’ While I appreciate their ironic take, I prefer the sentiment expressed on the chalkboard below.
A brain tumor took my daddy out of this world in 1994. He wasn’t perfect, but how I loved him! From a very early age, I learned from him what qualities to value most when choosing my future husband. I posted about my dad’s struggle and death several years back. Since his passing, not a day has gone by that I don’t think about him and the impact he had on me and so many others. Continue reading “Father’s Day Blessings”→
No matter how often I’ve seen it, this 2017 Progressive Insurance commercial always makes me laugh. I’m reminded what the commercial says about human nature. More to the point, it demonstrates the human propensity to ignore the old adage: speak less, listen hard. When someone mentions taking the kids to soccer practice and you’re willing and ready to jump the cactus, there’s a definite failure to communicate.
This week’s news didn’t highlight the failure to communicate, but it did cause people to re-think their understanding about what it means “to hear.” Yes, I’m referring to the Laurel/Yanny debate initiated by a Reddit user posing a simple question: what do you hear?Continue reading “Jumping the Cactus”→
With her 92nd birthday approaching (the end of August), my mother Ruthe must contemplate the final days (or years, we hope) of her incredible life on this planet. I’ve shared her stories more than a dozen times in this space, among them Everybody’s Fine, The Tale of Bobbie Pringle (in 2 parts), and Safe In His Arms. I’ve also posted poems where she was my subject: Mother of Mine, Touchstone. Along life’s journey, she has embraced numerous adventures, taken surprising risks and absorbed monumental losses. What a blessing she has been to me (and her other offspring)!
The photo above was taken a couple weeks ago. She needed groceries and I was in town, so we drove to the nearby SuperCenter. Because she lacks the stamina she once had, I suggested she try the motorized shopping cart. I’ve never used one of these devices … nor had she until that day! (Keep in mind, she’s almost totally blind, with only a sliver of cloudy light squeezing into the uppermost corner of her left eye.) Still, I figured the electric cart was worth trying, since I worried her knees might give way during our trek through the massive store.
As things turned out, we managed to collect her groceries without inflicting excess damage to the cart or any merchandise lining the aisles … and thankfully, no customers were permanently injured during this endeavor! When she first grasped the forward/reverse lever, the cart unexpectedly shot forward, leaving me far behind. I caught up quickly and decided to set my hand to the “wheel” to control the cart’s speed and direction. It was my chance to walk beside her, guiding her to the k-cups, the oatmeal and her other important purchases. Making our way (slowly) around the store, she depended on my guidance, but strange as it might seem, she was leading the way … as she always has! Continue reading “Leading The Way”→