>> Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My husband, John, is the one who taught me how to travel. And it seemed we did that often. He always came home with a baseball cap, t-shirt or sweatshirt displaying where that venture had taken us.

I would buy a bell.
As the trips piled up, I began to realize that when he wore an article of clothing from one of our travels, memories would come to mind. So that’s why he bought clothing from that place. I’m a slow learner. 

Next time we traveled, I bought more than a bell. I had this figured out. 

Now he’s no longer with me. But on a regular basis I’m transported to another place and time as I wear my souvenir. I bask in the warm memories.

In our lives, we have been places and done things that don’t have a souvenir piece of apparel to show for it. For some of those memories, we have buried them in the recesses of our minds and hope that no one ever knows we went there. 

What kind of souvenirs do you have?

“A good and honest life is a blessed memory; a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.” Proverbs 10:7 (MSG)



>> Sunday, August 20, 2017

Recently a very dear and trusted friend confronted me with their belief that I have never forgiven my mother for the way she raised me. I was shocked. I knew the time and place I forgave her. Thoughts tumbled in my head. Am I in denial? Blocking it? Covering it up? Because I know the ethics and morals of my friend, I understood it was said in sincerity and love.

Apparently I had a lot of work to do.

So over the past days I’ve spent a great deal of time in prayer, meditation and soul searching. I’ve tried to recall times I felt anger toward my mother. Can’t remember any. Any times I wished her ill.  Nope.  I do remember that over the years I have wondered what made her that way and felt sorry for her.

My mother was just not a nice person. That has been verified by several siblings. I even confronted two of them (separately) and asked if they thought mother loved me. After hemming and hawing, the answer was no.

I had accepted that and moved on.  Or so I thought. 

When my ex-husband left me I had worked on forgiving him. Even harder for me was forgiving his mother. She ruled the home. My ex father-in-law (our preacher) was such a nice man. Since I had no father, I accepted him as mine. But he was hen-pecked. I’ve been in their home when I heard her telling him what to preach the next Sunday. And he did. 

I moved from Nebraska to Idaho to start over as a single mom. I joined the singles group at our church. A national singles rally in Vail, CO was coming up. Several in our group wanted to attend. When I saw the title of one of the seminars, I was intrigued…Inner Healing. I had already been helping others who were going through divorce and thought I would like to see how the speaker approached the topic. And so I joined them.

Her name was Glaphre Gilliland. I can still see her in my mind. When she began her talk, she asked us to close our eyes. And then she walked us through being bound by ropes and chains. I thought it was a bunch of hogwash, but continued to go through the motions, thinking, “I will never use this”. After an hour of intense focus on the bruises and bleeding caused by our constraints, she said, “Okay, now turn around and see who it is that has you bound so tightly.”

I may have made an audible noise. It was my mother.

Immediately memories poured through my mind. Actions I had taken that were her actions. Words I had spoken that were her words. Beliefs I maintained because they were her beliefs. I was my mother.

It had never occurred to me to forgive her.

The next days and weeks were painful to me and confusing to my children. I would hear harsh words come out of my mouth and wonder what I really thought about that issue. I apologized and retracted on a daily basis. And as I faced each issue, I would give my attitude to God, praying for change in me and help to forgive my mother.

Forgiveness did not come easily. As I became aware of the damage she had done to me, I understood more fully exactly what I needed to forgive. She was in her 80’s and lived in Kansas. I pondered going to confront her. I felt that would do more harm than good. She did not comprehend how she had affected me. And so I wrote her a very lengthy letter. Then re-wrote it. And again. Each time I read it, I felt the need to add more.

Finally, I could read the epistle and feel satisfied. In my heart all was well between my mother and me. As I searched for something positive to think about her, I was aware of her strength and that she had passed that on to me. I could thank her for one thing.

I burned the letter. I had forgiven my mother.

But wait. There’s more. This is a two-part soul searching. Part two is grace. I believe this may be harder. Stay tuned.


My Family History 101

>> Thursday, August 17, 2017

Over the years I've been asked about my childhood. I've shared various bits and pieces with assorted people. I've tried to consolidate the facts here in one blog. 


It happened again. Yesterday, in talking with a friend, I tried to explain about my family of origin and how little I knew about them. It becomes quite evident that my situation is unusual. I was asked about my mother’s family….how she grew up.

I don’t know.

I can say she was from a family of 12. I have been told she moved to Kansas in a covered wagon. When I was born, both grandpas were dead and only one grandma remained. I saw her once before her death when I was nine.  I never met any of my mother’s brothers and sisters. I have cousins I’ve never even heard of.

I was born in 1942, back before the instant communication of today. Letters conveyed information. Rarely did an actual person come to the door to converse. I lived in an isolated universe.

I’ve been told the home I was born into housed my mother, several married sisters and the brother seven years older than I. We moved from that house when I was four. I barely remember the small apartment my mother, brother and I lived in for a few months. My memories of home life began when I was six and we moved across town to two rooms in the upstairs of a house. We had an outside stairway that connected to a screened-in porch. The two upstairs bedrooms of that home (still connected with an inside stairway) was my whole world. One bedroom was our living room/bedroom where I slept with my mother.  The other bedroom was our kitchen/dining area. No sink. My brother had a cot on the landing to the inside stairs.

That’s where life for me began.

I rarely saw most of my sisters. Two died before my birth. One I never met. One lived in the same town, but she died at the age of 42. My brothers were non-existent in my life…one married and living in another state and one who joined the Navy as soon as he could.

So my growing up years were just my mother and me. She was 45 when I was born, so by the time I was 15, she was 60. That’s when she told me the church had decided I would marry the preacher’s son. I never dated.

We had no car. No telephone. Certainly no TV. Any outside influence in my life came from school and church. At school I was to have no conversation with the other kids. They weren’t “one of us”.

I thought everyone lived that way. 

I was in Junior High before I realized I didn’t have a dad. Oh, I knew the fact, but the effect on me came to light when we were given the assignment to give a speech about our fathers.

I didn’t have one. 

He died within hours of my birth.  I’ve been told various stories of what disease caused his death.  I never saw a picture of him. Mother never mentioned him. He was non-existent. Listening as the other students told of trips with their dad, fishing with him, playing ball and generally having a good time, made me realize I was missing something.

I cried. The one and only time. I was different.

I walked to school. Came home for lunch. Walked back. No interaction with the other kids. They ate lunch together. Went to the Y after school. Went swimming at Lake Kahola on the weekends. Attended movies together. Went to the school dances. Went to movies. Bowling.

I had my mother. When that is all you know, you think it is normal.

I listened to sermons on the radio all day. The school kids heard the Beatles and Elvis Presley. When George Harrison died in 2001, I attended a Toastmaster’s meeting that morning. They were all talking about his death. I asked, “Who is he?” 

I had never heard of him.

I believe it is hard for others to understand just how isolated I grew up. 

Definition: having minimal contact or little in common with others

That says it all.


I'm Well Taken Care Of

>> Sunday, August 6, 2017

Daily the pain grew worse. Yet I ignored it. I knew if I went to a doctor, I would open a whole can of worms, probably blood work, MRI or CAT Scan. I just didn’t want to go there. And so the weeks and then months passed. 

I had a theory about what was causing the pain…and opted to not mention it.

You see, before John died he had a serious conversation with me about my car. His goal was that I be safe. Therefore, he wanted me to purchase an AWD car. He didn’t specify what kind. I promised I would buy one.

I called my automobile experts at Archibald’s, the dealership where we conducted our car business (except for John’s last purchase…a red Cadillac. But that’s another story.) Danny knows me well and knew what I would like. And so his hunt began. Soon I received a phone call.  He believed he had found my car in Seattle, a Lexus IS 350 Sport. It was AWD.

What’s not to like?

I bought it.  BIG SMILE.  I put a little tag in it that said, “I’m not speeding, I’m qualifying”. It was just what I wanted. Yet I began to have problems with getting in and out. Deep bucket seats. Steering wheel as high as it could go. I experimented and decided the best way to get in was butt first and then swing my legs around and in. To exit, I just reversed the procedure, swiveling in the seat, putting my legs out the door and then standing up.

Over the months I began to experience some leg pain. Perhaps it was from working in the yard. Or maybe I overdid during my exercise routine. Time passed. This past April the pain became much more noticeable. Sitting on a hard surface caused an inability to walk when I first stood up. I began to carry a pillow with me.  To church. To lunch at a restaurant. To work. I felt 100 years old.

I observed my driving habits and compared them to when the pain worsened. The day I ran errands for several hours, I finally had to resort to Advil. The next day I had trouble walking, the pain shooting down my leg. I was going to have to give in and go to the doctor.

After some questions, poking and prodding, the doctor (without any expensive tests) explained he believed I had an inflamed bursa. Then came the question. Did I have any idea what might be putting pressure on that exact spot? Yes, I did.

“I have a theory. I have deep bucket seats. When I push myself up to get out of the car, the lip of the bucket seat pushes right where it hurts.”

The doctor gave me a prescription for Prednisone and then told me “As long as you have that car, your pain will not improve, it will only worsen.”

Such a deal.

John's car
I drove from the doctor’s office to Archibald’s. They were in disbelief when I said I needed to change cars. You can tell good friends about the pain in your butt. Right? So the hunt for a different car began. I sat in car after car. The lip on the seat caused pain when I exited. I was ready to give up when Jordie said he had one more suggestion. As he pulled the car out of its space and headed toward me, I sucked in my breath.

It looked exactly like John’s car (previous to the said red Cadillac).

I climbed in and then out. No pain. I felt so strongly that John was right there telling me, “This is the car I want you to have.”

An AWD RX 350.

I pondered it overnight. But each time I thought of it, I knew deep inside that I would get it, for a lot of reasons. Very safe. AWD. Just like the one John had and he felt safe in. But most of all, I felt John’s presence in that vehicle. I remember he used to correct me when I called it a car. It’s an SUV.

Joy's car

I never wanted an SUV.

My little sporty car had been just what I wanted. Yet I let go of it without any sadness. I have no regret that it’s gone. I have exactly the right vehicle for me. I named it BABE.

Throughout the whole journey, I had people looking out for me. My doctor who cut right to the chase. Archibald’s who understood my issue and worked hard to find the right solution. John, watching over me from heaven. And God, who cares about me. 

It’s been two weeks. The pain is gone. I am well taken care of.


I'm Stuck

>> Saturday, July 29, 2017

July 29, 2017 – Thoughts on a warm summer afternoon sitting in my swing on my patio.

I need help. I’m stuck. I survived three years of my husband’s cancers and two years of grief over his death. Where do I go now? I desire to be a positive influence in this world.

How do I do that?

I reflect on my relationships. I am blessed to have a village. My children go out of their way to care for me. Close friends would come to my aid if I asked. I have enough money to take care of my needs…and lately my wants.  Twice I’ve walked where Jesus walked. How very memorable that was. I live my days thanking God for His presence, for His protection, for His outpouring of love. I sleep soundly at night.

So is that enough? Not for me. I want to make a difference. And so I’m back to how. Each time I ask myself that question; the answer in my head is my writing.

That’s where I’m stuck.

Right now I have a blog I’d like to write. Yet instead here I sit on the patio. Thoughts collide. I’ve had no training. Would my words really help someone? My life is such an example of overcoming obstacles, if I write it is it bragging?

So instead of writing, I eat. My religious upbringing told me drugs, smoking, drinking and gambling were all sins, but overeating was okay. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t now. Overeating does damage to my body. But it’s my comfort. I enjoy it.

That brings me back to being stuck.

And so I think of blogging this…being totally vulnerable to you. But see, if I let you read this, then you will feel obligated to tell me wonderful things about me so I’ll feel better. That’s not what this is about. This is a sincere longing deep within me to make a difference in another person’s life. I can name the ones who did that for me. They opened my mind and poured in a new way of thinking.

No, I’m not depressed. No, I’m not lonely. No, I’m not asking for advice. I’m trying to empty myself on paper in hopes of uncovering the answer that’s buried deep within me. And yes, I’ve prayed about it repeatedly. And yes, I’ve asked for God’s guidance repeatedly. Today’s guidance was to put my thoughts on paper so I could see them.

So here we are. Am I afraid of failure? What exactly would that look like to me? No one buys my book? Is it pride holding me back? If I can’t be really good then why try?

Right now I want to go eat something.

Do I believe God gave me this talent? If so, then by not writing am I throwing it back in His face? I have a sign on my desk that says:

Here am I
Write through me

How can He if I avoid sitting down to write?

See, I’m stuck.

I copied this page from the book Savor by Shauna Niequist and have it on the front of my refrigerator.

“Every once in a while, when I write, I feel that feeling of a thousand slender threads coming together, strands of who I’ve been and who I’m becoming, the long moments at the computer and the tiny bits of courage, the middle of the night prayers and the exact way God made me, not wrong or right, just me.

I feel like I’m doing what I came to do.”

See…her words help me. That’s what I long to do for someone else.

And so this blog is a request for your prayers.



>> Wednesday, July 19, 2017

She never raised her voice. But the tone and diction she used told me I was not to argue. She said, “jump” and I asked “how high?” 

I was afraid of my mother. 

They spoke softly and with a smile. I felt loved in their presence. The situation presented a conundrum. I desired to be around them, but mother declared they were going to hell.

I longed to be near my Catholic neighbors.

Oh the stories they told, punctuated with gestures and laughter. When I was with them I felt safe and secure.

My brothers sought to protect me, even though it was long distance.

I’ve been yelled at…mocked…criticized…and berated with words to cut me down. And it worked. I had no value. When I breathed, I was using air someone else needed.

Manipulation by others kept me in my corner; head bowed and as invisible as I could be.

Quietly he communicated his concept of God’s love. I sat spellbound. His words quenched a thirst within me of which I had been unaware.

That day I learned of a God quite different from the one my mother had described.

We have all had voices in our lives…some good…some bad. But what have we done with the consequences of hearing those voices? I chose to re-program the bad…which was not an easy task.

But my question today is not about the voices that spoke to us, but about the voice we are using in speaking to others.

Recently I witnessed a young mother interacting with her small daughter. What I heard in the mother’s voice was anger, resentment and weariness. What did her little girl hear?

What is my voice telling others when I speak? How about yours?

“Words are powerful; take them seriously.” Matthew 12:36 (MSG)


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