But My Door Won’t Open

We’ve all heard the saying “when God closes one door He opens another.”

I believe it.

However, it has to be the right door. Not just any random door that comes your way.

We’ve all had it happen. A door closes, either suddenly or over time. We try to re-open it. We pull and pull on that doorknob to no avail. Then we think maybe we need to push instead. 

So we push and push. We bang our hands and even our shoulders against it, knowing that if we try long and hard enough, it’s going to open.

We get discouraged and stop trying and begin to walk away. Then someone else comes up to that same door and easily pushes it open. They walk through it and before you can get there to follow them in, it closes again!

Why? Why didn’t it open for you, and why did it open for them?

Did you ever stop to think that maybe it wasn’t your door?

Sometimes we think we know exactly what our next steps in life are supposed to be. We’re sure of it. Do sure that we work to make it happen. We work so hard sometimes that we lose sight of the fact that maybe we’re working TOO hard to make something happen.

And working too hard probably means it’s not supposed to be happening that way.

We’re all impatient at times, some of us more than others. We see other people getting the things we so desperately want, and wonder when it’ll be our turn? 

Their doors opened. Why didn’t ours?

Very simple. It’s not our turn yet. Our door hasn’t appeared because what’s behind it isn’t ready yet. It’s not time, as much as we want it to be.

Timing is everything as we’ve heard so often. It’s just not always our timing.

That door will be ready for you to open and it’ll be easy to open. No key needed. And when you step through it, you’ll know it’s yours, and you’ll know the wait was worth it!

If You Put Off Making A Decision

It’ll be made for you. 

And it might not be the one you would have made for yourself, except you hesitated. Didn’t want to deal with it.

But if you put off making a decision you really need to make, because you’re afraid to make the wrong decision, you’ll be stuck with a result that you’ll have to live with for a long time.

It may be a decision you’d have made much differently, but were hesitant to decide one way or another. 

So now you’re stuck with the consequences.

Consequences you caused because you wouldn’t make a decision. Isn’t it better to live with the consequences of a decision you made, instead of one you refused to have a say in?

The Sounds (and Sights) of Summer

Growing up in a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland had a lot of advantages I never really appreciated until I was older. A lot older, as you some of you may say.

But summer some 60 years ago took on a whole new meaning from today. It was less hectic, quieter, and more relaxed than it is today. (And not nearly as hot as this year.)

Because we lived just outside of the town limits, our house was surrounded by two small fields and a woods (which seemed really  big back then). There were fields across the road as well, and we watched the corn all summer as it grew and grew, eventually hiding the homes across the road, growing to reach its potential for the fall harvest. 

Just a quiet rural setting. No crime. No violence. No video games or cell phones.

Back then almost every summer evening was filled with the singing of crickets and frogs, and fireflies lighting up the night as soon as it started to get dark. We’d look forward to catching them and then seeing how many it took to light up the dark corners of our rooms. (Thank goodness my mom always came in and let them escape back outside after we were asleep.)

I remember many nights falling asleep on the glider in our big screened porch listening to the crickets and frogs serenading their friends as well as my mom and me. What wonderful sounds they made. Plus it was cooler out there since we had no air conditioning.

There were some nights during those summers that it was so hot we could look out in the distance from that wonderful porch and see what we called “heat lightning”…silent flashes of light in the distance with no cracks of lightning or thunder, or even any signs of rain.

And the air was so clean, so clear, we could gaze up into the night sky and pick out the constellations. Sometimes we’d even drive down to the bay and listen to the waves lapping against the small pier that was left over from a long ago storm. The sky there was even clearer and the stars easier to see. And when it happened to be a full moon, it was absolutely breathtaking.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days. Sure, we have our Jeremiah the bullfrog who likes to sing to us in the back yard after a summer rainstorm, but it’s just not the same. We haven’t been able to find him, or his wine we’ve heard that’s mighty fine, but we still get to listen to him, and he sure sounds happy.

What about the fireflies? I can’t remember the last time we saw any. Crickets? I haven’t heard them chirp in ages. And come to think of it, we see very few honeybees…and they used to fly all around in those distant summers, gorging themselves on all manner of blooms on bushes and flowers, and pollinating everything in our gardens. 

How about butterflies? I haven’t seen many of those recently either, and we have a lot of flowers and flowering bushes in our backyard. They used to fly around the yard all summer when we were growing up. 

Yes, I do miss those summers. And I actually appreciate the memories of them much more than I ever thought I would. Because it was an easier way of life, or it seemed to be, because we were still growing up, and still had our innocence and the belief that these little things would always be a part of our lives.

Now they are only memories in my mind’s eye, stored in a database of pictures only I can see. But they’re there, and I wish you could see them, too.

The sounds and sights of summers in times past….these are my memories. 

What are yours?

Let’s Try This!

We’ve all heard the expression about it being hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. 

Right now I think that might be true. Just walking outside from the house to the car is enough to give me trouble breathing, and I don’t normally have breathing problems.  

There’ve been stories about it being so hot a roof began to melt in China. And an airport runway in Europe had to be closed temporarily until it could be repaired.

There have even been reports of lakes drying up and people finding dead fish on the dried- up lakebed. Truth or myth? Not really sure, but as hot as it is, who knows?

Older people and those with breathing or other similar conditions are being warned to stay inside. Pregnant women and young kids are also being cautioned to be careful in all this heat because of the danger of heat stroke, heat exhaustion or dehydration.

And what about that old saying, “it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk!”

Well, it may almost be time to try it! What do you think?

So just in case you feel adventurous, I thought I’d come up with a recipe you can try! Or not…

Take one egg. Place a small square of cling wrap on the sidewalk

Crack the egg carefully onto the cling wrap. 

Check it every few minutes with a spatula (or your finger) to see how it’s coming along.

It’ll be cooked enough when the egg white is the opaque white color you’re used to. Take the spatula and carefully lift it up and slide it onto a small plate. 

Season or garnish as desired, and if you’re brave, try a bite. Then let us know how it turned out. 

Or let your dog sample it and he’ll let you know how it was!

(Header photo by Pockafwe on Flickr; center photo by Lori Greig on Flickr)

Empty Words

How often do we hear them? Words that sound good, but have no real meaning. Words that we really want to hear, but in the long run, really don’t mean a thing.

A friend, or so-called friend, says they’ll call us. They’ve been so busy, so tied up. They miss us so much, and yes, we’ll get together soon. “I’ll call you in a few days. I promise.”

Six months later, there’s still no call. Which they’ve promised over and over. Either they forgot, which means they only said that to try and make you think they really cared.  Or they never really planned on calling in the first place, and those empty words were said to make us feel like maybe they really did care, and didn’t want to tell us they had other things more important on their mind.

Maybe you run into that person unexpectedly. They act like they’re so excited to see you. Ask all kinds of questions, especially if they’re around other people. They introduce you as one of their best friends, and explain how they’ve known you forever. 

Or if they run into you by themselves, their first words are all about how they’ve been meaning to call but their lives are so hectic, but they swear to call next week and make plans to get together. Funny thing, they actually could make those plans then if they really wanted to.

And of course you never get a call. Why aren’t you trying? Because this has become a pattern that never seems to end. Why try?

Why try to stay friends with someone who obviously doesn’t care if they stay friends or not?

What about the person who continually tells you how much they love you on social media? But never try to get in touch in person? Why does “I love you” become just another phrase like “hello” or goodbye”? Why do those words sound so empty when they’re said to us by someone who doesn’t try to interact with us anymore?

When did those three words become so meaningless that we just use them to make ourselves sound like we care, when we really don’t?

I remember the very first time my now husband told me he loved me. It was a special moment. Those words meant something important. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

Now they’ve just become words. Often spoken so randomly that we’ve forgotten their meaning. Or the person saying them has lost their meaning. (Please note I’m not referring to my husband.)

Don’t get me wrong…when I tell my loved ones I love them, I mean it. 

But when I hear it from people I hardly ever see any more, I know they don’t mean it. It just sounds good to them. Or to anyone else who might overhear.

Then there’s the other phrase that’s so often a combination of empty words. “I’m sorry.”

Maybe you are, or maybe you’re saying it to stop an argument. Maybe you’re saying it because you’re forced to. Maybe you’re saying it because it sounds good at the time. Or maybe because you think you’re supposed to say it in order to make someone feel better. 

But you’re not thinking about what those two words really mean to the person you say them to.

Empty words. Words said with no feeling. No meaning. No thought behind what you’re saying.

All of us are guilty of this to a degree. But some much more than others.

Words do matter. 

Especially empty ones, because they speak a far greater truth than you can imagine.

So does silence.

50 Years is a Long Time

Last Friday the Supreme Court overturned a ruling made in 1973 that made it legal for women to have the right to an abortion. I remember when that original decision was handed down. With a lot of protests from both sides of the issue, just as we’re seeing now.

During the years preceding the original Roe decision there were countless protests in the country for the same reasons we are having them now. Two very different and angry sides on this opinion that now, after another set of judges interpreting the same document, have decided that this medical procedure is not protected under the Constitution. 

Can someone please explain how fifty years ago the justices decided the law one way, and how suddenly those other justices were wrong and THIS is the way it’s supposed to be? And will another set of justices change it again in another fifty years? Do we have to wait that long?

Now the individual states are again free to enact any laws they wish restricting this medical procedure, up to the point of criminal charges against both the woman and her doctor for performing an abortion.

Some are even suggesting the death penalty being a possibility for being found guilty. You say that couldn’t happen? There will most likely be instances in which it is tried. Which will take us back to the Supreme Court once again, and who knows how they would rule now?!

Now don’t get me wrong with what I am about to say. Although I’m sure many people will. I do not like abortion except in certain instances such as rape or incest, where the life of the mother is at stake, or where the fetus is not viable.

But…and this is where it gets sticky, I do NOT believe that the government has a right to enact laws which prevent a woman making a decision about her own body and how she deals with this situation. This should be a decision made between the woman, her doctor, and her faith/beliefs. And we cannot legislate those beliefs. We cannot legislate morality, or should I say our version of morality.

It should not be the governments’ authority to decide what a woman can do, or not do, with her own body.

I’ve heard all of the cheers of joy from the religious community, about how no one can kill innocent babies any more, etc. But this opens a bigger can of worms. 

What about the women forced to carry a pregnancy which for their very personal and private reasons they just don’t feel they can do? Are they now relegated to being citizens with limited rights as opposed to men? What if these women have no health insurance? Who takes care of their prenatal care? The actual delivery? What if they cannot afford that baby, or the care it requires? What if they just aren’t a woman who wants to become a mother, but contraception failed, and here they are….

Adoption, they say. That’s the answer! More babies to adopt! That’s not as easy as it sounds, however, and adoption laws are also tightly regulated by the states. Years ago after my husband and I failed to be able to have a second child we tried to adopt a baby, and were turned down every step of the way. We’d each been divorced previously; we already had a natural child. We were too old. We both worked full time. The list went on and on. And the costs? They were crazy.

So…if there are so many laws restricting adoption, why do some of the states feel they have the right to force a woman to bear a child when she may not fit the criteria of adopting one?

I personally know at least one woman who had an abortion. She said it was one of the most difficult decisions of her life. And yes, she still thinks about it and wonders…but she also knows it was the right decision for her at the time. Yes, she’s a friend of mine, and I support the decision she made because it was her personal decision. 

And it should be a personal decision for every woman, whether I agree with them or not. It’s not my place to judge someone.

It is also not up to the government to make laws that are based on religious principles and Christian faith, because not everyone in this country believes the same way. And I find it difficult to believe that the judges’ personal beliefs did not enter into this ruling in any way. How could it not?

I believe that we should have the right over our own bodies to do what we believe is right for us. 

And yes, I am a Christian. But many of you reading this will probably say I cannot be a believer because I don’t think the right way. Which is judging me.

Yes, you are entitled to your opinion. And so am I. But you are not entitled to tell me what mine should be and berate me for not agreeing with you. Nor can I berate you for your opinion.

Now before you tell me I’m in support of murdering babies, let’s stop right here. As I said, this is a sticky situation. Yes, I believe life begins at conception. I also know it’s almost impossible for a woman to know immediately when she conceives. Sometimes she doesn’t know for several weeks. And some of the potential laws I’m hearing rumors about go as far as making it a crime for a woman to endanger her pregnancy even before she actually knows she’s pregnant. 

Pregnancy is also not an easy condition to go through. For every beautiful picture you see of a woman with that “pregnant glow” and growing belly, there’s a pregnant woman who is sick as she can be from that pregnancy. My daughter is one of those; she has the same problem with each pregnancy that Kate Middleton had, which is hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes severe vomiting during the entire pregnancy, often resulting in dehydration and sometimes hospital stays. It’s certainly not fun, and not easy to go through. But she chose these pregnancies, and we are thrilled that she did!

There are also other serious pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and placenta prévia, all of which are potentially life threatening to both mother and child. The daughter of a friend of ours has all three of these conditions with her pregnancy, as she did with three others, and is on permanent bed rest until the baby can be safely delivered. However, these girls made a choice to have their babies knowing the risks of such complications. Does the government have the authority to force a woman to endure all of that if her pregnancy is that difficult? Could that be construed as a form of cruel and unusual punishment?

There’s also been talk about looking at new regulations regarding contraception; as it relates to women, of course, since men can’t conceive and have children. Wonder how that would work if men could conceive!

Where is all of this going to end?

I have no good answers. But I am deeply concerned about what has just happened in our country. I am far beyond the age of being able to get pregnant, as are the majority of my friends, but I worry for our daughters and granddaughters, as to their reproductive futures, as well as what other restrictive laws may be enacted that will restrict our individual rights even further.

More thoughts on that at a later date. This is enough to handle for now.

Cherish Every Day

Because one day all you’ll have are the memories.

You’ll not be able to go visit them or take them to lunch.

You won’t be able to pick up the phone and hear their voice.

You’ll not be able to spend holidays with them.

You’ll see an item in the store that you know they’d love, but there’s no need to buy it because they’re not around to open any gifts.

You’ll still have lots pictures of them, if you’re lucky, but you can’t hug them or kiss them anymore.

Cherish every day. Because you don’t know how many days are left. 

Father’s Day Memories

Father’s Day has always been a difficult day for me. And for good reason.

Because my father died when I was only 8 years old. I don’t have a lot of memories of him. I really can’t remember celebrating Fathers Day with him, or Christmas, or my birthday. I was just too young, unfortunately. to have very many memories of him. 

What I do remember are bits and pieces. And why these particular memories stick with me I have no idea…except for the last one.

Like the time I heard him calling to my mom from our little chicken house in the back yard, “Rachel (my mom’s name), bring me my gun and bring it now! Don’t ask why!” I had no idea what was going on, even when I heard a loud shot. I found out later he’d gone out to the feed area to get the chicken feed for our little flock and a copperhead snake had lunged at him! Fortunately it missed him. And he took care of the snake so it wouldn’t ever be a threat to me or my mom.

I remember going out on the river in our hometown with him, just my dad and me, and going through a bunch of water lilies. They were so pretty. My mom didn’t go with us because she didn’t like going on boats. It was our time…my daddy and me. I had no idea at the time, and neither did he, that there weren’t going to be any more times like that.

I remember watching him in our garage when he was actually building his own boat. I wanted to help, but I was too little. But I watched him as often as I could, because I was fascinated with his woodworking. 

My dad was a talented carpenter who made some beautiful pieces of furniture for my mom, and a very special canopy doll bed that he had just finished and gave me for the last Christmas he was with us. I still have it, and soon I’ll be handling it down to our granddaughters; I’ve waited til they’re old enough to take care of it.

I also remember the last time I saw him. He’d been admitted to John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because of excruciating headaches, and they were running tests on him to see what was wrong. My uncle drove my mom and me up to see him, and they doctors let him come down to the lobby to see us and visit. I remember him standing there in his yellow robe, and him telling me they were trying to make him better so he could get back home. I still remember talking to him and hugging him goodbye. 

Two days later my mom got a call in the middle of the night that they were going to do surgery on him, and she needed to be there. My uncle took her up there while my aunt took care of me.

The next thing I remember was seeing my mom walking up to the house with my uncle holding on to her. She was crying. And I’ll never forget her words to me: ”Your dad isn’t coming home anymore.”

I missed out on so many wonderful times we could’ve had, but so did my dad. He missed birthdays, Christmases, dance recitals, piano recitals. He missed teaching me to drive, my high school and college graduations. He missed out on walking me down the aisle, and probably would have kept me from making the first two wedding mistakes. He missed meeting his granddaughter Ashley, who he would have adored as much as my mother did.

My mother missed out on so much as well, being left to raise me by herself, while working full time and even going back to college without the help of her husband.  But she did it on her own, and I am still so very proud of her for it. 

She missed so many years of marriage with the only man she’d ever loved. And I missed out on having two parents who adored me. And in that time, some 60+ years ago, that was very unusual.

My uncle stepped in and acted as a surrogate father, and I loved him dearly, but he couldn’t totally take the place of my own daddy.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to remind all of you to cherish your dad, and your granddad, if you’re lucky enough to have him as well. Love them, celebrate them, and be thankful for them. Life is short, and tomorrow is not promised 

I know I will see my dad again one day, and I’ll share those moments with him that we missed, although my mom has most likely already filled him in.

Daddy, I love you, and I’ll miss you forever…until we meet again.

Happy Father’s Day!

What Chapter Are You In?

I read this several months ago, and it really touched my heart:

“Life is like a book with many different chapters. Some tell of tragedy, others of triumph. Some chapters are dull and ordinary, other intense and exciting. The key to being a success in life is to never stop on a difficult page, to never quit on a tough chapter.”

~Unknown

As an author who published her first book of over 20 chapters several years ago, I started thinking about those chapters. Some encompassed a brief few hours of time; some spanned over several years. But each represented an important and vital part of the story. Most were extremely difficult to write, but vitally important to the entire story.

Every book has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each book starts out with a premise, an idea, or perhaps a dream. Each book ends with either the fulfillment of the dream, the culmination of an idea, or the result of believing in the premise of your life goal.

But does our life ever turn out like we think it will? Do our plans and goals ever turn out like we want them to; like we planned them to? Or does something happen along the way to change them, re-route them, or perhaps totally derail them and force us to start over again with a blank page?

It happens all the time. You’re going along in an easy chapter, with everything going for you, everything going right. And then, bam! A job ends. A marriage ends. There’s an unexpected serious illness. A death in the family.

And a new and most likely difficult chapter begins. One that’s not easy to write, because there are so many unexpected turns and twists.

There’s one big difference between real life and a book. Real life doesn’t always have a happily ever after. We want it to be so. And we work hard to make it happen.

But we also have to remember that if we followed the characters in that book into real life, that happily ever after has just as many ups and downs as in our real life. Because a book has a set ending. It’s not real life. Our lives end when the Lord says our time is up, and the final chapter is written.

So what chapter are you in? And how do you want to try to write the ones you have left?

Think About Taking That Chance

Because most likely it won’t come around again. At least not in the same form.

Some things only happen once. If you don’t reach out and grab it, most likely it’s gone forever.

And you’ll be left always asking yourself…”what if…?”

And that’s a question none of us can really truly answer. Because we can’t know what we have no way of knowing.

If You Could Rewrite One Chapter of Your Life…

What would it be? 

All of us have felt that way, many, many times, I’m sure.

I know I have. I sometimes even fantasize about that, and re-write in my head the way I wish a particular chapter had ended. Because the read ending was far, far too painful.

But life doesn’t work like that. 

If it did, though, we think it would be so perfect. But the steps we take after those unhappy endings almost always lead to another story that does have a happy ending, although we don’t see it that way at the time.

Like the woman who finally escapes a disastrous marriage. She looks back and wonders what would have happened if she’d left earlier, or even better, if she’d never married the man. She imagines herself in a whole other scenario in which she’d have been happier. 

Then she thinks about her three beautiful children who are the light of her life. The children she’d never have had if she hadn’t been married to the man she now wishes she’d never met.

Does she still want a do-over? Would she give up her children to start over?

He had wanted to marry his high school sweetheart desperately. He’d even bought the ring and was ready to propose on graduation night. He knew she was the only one for him. 

But she said no and left town. “You’ll never amount to anything,” she said. “I want adventure, fame, and money. You can’t give that to me. You’ll never be anyone important.” He was devastated.

His only plans after high school involved her. He had no idea what to do with himself. So he decided to leave town as well, away from the memories of her. He joined the Navy, wanting to see the world. And to forget.

He rose in the ranks and became an officer, and was well respected by everyone. He finally met a woman he fell in love with and married. She was a huge support to him, and loved him unconditionally. They had two children, a comfortable home, and he had a challenging but rewarding career.

One day he got an announcement about his high school class reunion coming up. He’d never been to one, and really wanted to forget his high school days and the huge embarrassment when the love of his life turned him down.

Then the phone call came from their former class president asking him if he was coming. And if he’d give the keynote speech at the reunion dinner. “The whole town has followed your career. You’ve made a real name for yourself, and we want to honor you.”

Wow! His first thought was I can’t believe this. And his second…would SHE be there, and what would she think of him now? Would she rush to him, tell her how sorry she was for turning him down? Ask for another chance?

Did he actually want that? He was happily married with a great family, but he’d always wondered….

The weeks flew by. He wrote and rewrote his speech, wanting to make it just right. And secretly wondering how SHE would take it. Try as he would, he just couldn’t get her out of his mind.

When he and his wife arrived at the reunion dinner his old friends were all happy to see him, peppering him with all kinds of questions. His wife fit in beautifully with all of them. 

But he kept looking around, wondering where his ex-girlfriend was, and really hoping she’d show up.

When he started his speech, he still hadn’t seen her and was actually disappointed. Once again, she’d turned her back on him.

Then he noticed a woman in the back. She looked much older than the others there. Had she been in their class? Or was she in the wrong gathering? 

Then she came up to him. She congratulated him on his speech. He still wasn’t sure who she was. Then she said…”I guess I should have accepted your proposal. You’ve done so well. Me? Not at all. Four divorces. Two failed careers. You have it all. I have nothing.” And she walked away.

Who wants a do-over now? Certainly not the man who secretly wished things had been different on that graduation night.

What would you like to do over in your life?

And would you really want to do it over, knowing what you’d give up that you have now?

Maybe. Maybe not.

A Memorial Day for the Fallen

Today is Memorial Day. A day set aside to honor those who have given their lives for this country. In countless wars and overseas conflicts. Brave men and women who gave their all.

They gave their lives to protect our freedoms. They went where our country sent them, and did what they needed to do. 

Did they question their reasons for going? I’m sure many did. But they went. Some returned and some didn’t. Today we honor those that didn’t return.

But I cannot help but ask us all to add another couple of categories of our citizens to remember and pay our respects to on this Memorial Day. Citizens who left home one day as usual and never returned.

Let’s remember the hundreds of first responders, police and firefighters as well as EMT’s who have also given their lives to save others. Oh, I know right now the police are under attack again for not doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s become a o popular sport in this country, unfortunately. And there will always be those officers who are in the wrong, but the majority are good people, who’ve dedicated themselves to such service, and those of them who’ve given their lives in the line of duty should be honored as well. It’s a job I wouldn’t want to do, and I am thankful for each and every one of them that have chosen to do it.

But I want us to also remember another group of people…innocent people who’ve been senselessly murdered by cowardly people with guns, out to spread their hatred and violence for whatever twisted and deranged parts of their minds that were urging them forward.

Innocent children. Worshippers in their chosen houses of God. Innocent shoppers in malls and grocery stores. Innocent concert goers who were enjoying a night of music. 

They unwillingly gave their lives because someone they didn’t even know decided they didn’t deserve to live.

And we continue on with our lives, thankful it wasn’t us.  

But such violence touches all of us in some way. It forever changes a part of us, and sometimes we don’t even realize it.

The awfulness of the last few days in this country will eventually be forgotten by the majority of the country, but never by the families and communities which have been devastated by the tragedy. Just like the families of our servicemen and women who were lost in combat, they will NEVER forget. Not a day will go by without a memory sneaking into their mind, and those memories are all they have left.

Today as most of us gather together with friends and family for picnics and parties, or go out to grab up the best Memorial Day sales, let’s take the time to remember those families who are grieving over their loved ones who will never attend such events again.

Remember the fallen, because they deserve never, ever to be forgotten. And remember the families who will also never forget.