Lincoln Said It Right!

At the end of the devastating Civil War, Lincoln called for a spirit of reconciliation and an end to animosity.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”                                   Second Inaugural Address (delivered March 4, 1865).

Hopefully, we as Americans can listen to his wise counsel and find ways to stop the violence.   Listening, learning and loving . . .may be good for starters.

 

When Things are Black and White.

It was a sunny Sunday in June, 1960, when 2 other youth workers and I left the Chicago area to spend a week at a Youth Leadership Training School at Wartburg Lutheran Seminary in Dubuque. Iowa.  Being the youngest and least experienced in youth work, I was eager to learn as much as possible to improve my skills so had a healthy sense of anticipation.   Never did I imagine the education that awaited me!

As we were getting close to the seminary, the thought of going somewhere enjoyable for lunch was uppermost in our minds. On a small hill, overlooking the road, an affordable but home-style oking restaurant caught our eye.  In fact, it had been recommended by others who had previously attended this Leadership Training School.  As we entered, we were greeted warmly by two tables of pastors and youth leaders who had arrived just minutes ahead of us.   The home cooking signs and delicious smelling aromas convinced us we were at the right place to satisfy our hunger pangs.

We seated ourselves near the others we knew and glanced at the menus in the napkin holders.  But the waitress curtly informed us we could not be served as “we do not serve people of color,” so one of us would have to leave. Shocked, we tried to convince the waitress we were all just fine but the manager then ushered us out.  The other two tables of friends immediately got up and also tried to convince the manager to let us stay.  He threatened to call the police so everyone left, at least a dozen hungry customers.  This was a dreadful situation and we all decided to eat at the seminary cafeteria. Neither Ruth or I knew what to say to Fannie.  We suspected this was not the first time she had been treated so unfairly and rudely.  But for me, it was my first experience with outright racial prejudice.  It affected me deeply.

When finally we found the seminary and the cafeteria, it was Fannie who helped get us back to our mood of anticipation.  Her delightful sense of humor had us laughing and we actually enjoyed the cafeteria food and our friends who also congregated there.  She did not want us to be so disturbed that a damper was put on the upcoming week.

During the week, Fannie had a significant role in the training.  For several years she had been serving as parish worker in a poor inner city church and was able to give her perspective on many aspects of reaching young people with the love of God.   Prior to attending this leadership school, I had driven carloads of youth from my church to activities at her church. We had brought food and pizza and helped paint and decorate their youth meeting room.  I knew it was a rough neighborhood and on one trip, my tire was slashed. Fannie had to be very careful never to walk home alone. Fannie’s youth group had previously come to meetings at our church as well. But obviously we had not walked in her footsteps.

Since this time, over 65 years ago, it has been my sincere desire to be aware and actively involved in interracial causes and activities.  I enjoyed teaching youth and serving on the church board of a church in Tampa that is predominantly black. Now, living back on Florida’s East Coast, I love attending a church that is an amazing mix of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and White.  Thank God, some things have improved but there is still much to do.

dm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Farm . . . Or A Winter Wonderland?

Living in the North Woods of Wisconsin was exciting, exhausting and challenging.  It was not easy with three youngsters who were absolutely full of energy and always ‘raring’ to go do something.  Especially during the cold, early winter months, before the snow falls.  We lived on a lake and once it was frozen the fun began.

Until then, however, we all suffered from cabin fever.  Our log home was rustic and not too big.  We played games, read books and did creative art projects. But my children all seemed to have very short attention spans.  Some days I felt like I was at my wit’s end, trying to entertain my family.

family projects
When Its Too Cold To Think Of Being Outside

One day, the wall phone rang and since this was before portable or cell phones, I had to answer it in the kitchen.  Although I did have a very long cord, my ability to watch what the children were doing was limited.  That call was important.  I was trying to listen and sound professional while worrying about what was going on in their play area.  Sure enough, the middle child, my most rambunctious one, had got into mischief.  As I hung up the phone to survey the damage, I muttered, “You guys are going to drive me to the funny farm.”

Big mistake!  Not recommended positive reinforcement.

“Can I go with?  Please?”  My middle son kept begging for a very long time.

“Me, too, me too,” sobbed his younger brother, while their older sister looked confused.    It took much too long to explain. I doubt they ever realized it was just a silly comment.

Finally, a few days later, it began snowing and soon we were  snowed in.  Now we were in a winter wonderland and the fun began.  There was lots to do and the price was right!

man ice fishing

We ice fished for supper and enjoyed healthy hot cocoa out on the lake.  One has to drink it rather fast, of course, before it froze right before our eyes.

young boy ice fishig

Kids Hot Cocoa

So much fun in the snow.  My daughter spent hours building sturdy igloos.  One day I was pulling my young sons on a toboggan across the lake and met another woman walking over to my side. We became lifelong friends.

Then came the day when I suffered from frost bitten toes. Really suffered when I got stuck driving on a stretch of road the snowplow had neglected to clear.  It wasn’t long before Florida began sounding wonderful.  I have been here now 30 years and it is wonderful.

Those memorable days in a winter wonderland are permanently etched in my heart.  My daughter and her family spend a lot of time snowmobiling in Wisconsin and sometimes send me photos.  I enjoy seeing them all bundled up when i am relaxing on the beach or at the pool.

dm

The Right Power

I always look forward to those fun summer times when I am blessed to have a grandchild or two spend a week with me.  I try to stock up on ice cream, frozen pizzas, and apples to eat at our community pool.

One year stands out, though, as especially memorable.  The Sunday afternoon, just before my two preteen grandchildren and their one year old sister arrived, my lights went out.  No power, meaning no lights, air conditioning, refrigeration or television.  After checking my fuse box several times, I called Florida Power and Light.  They assured me it was not their problem. . .  it had to be mine.   But no one could identify what was my problem and our fun time was here.  Deciding to make the best of it, we went to the pool.  We ate up all the ice cream that evening.  The next day we again went to the pool, with  apples, chips and water.  We enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and crackers.  Several times that day I also called FPL but they continued to insist it was not their problem,

Vacation Bible School began at five that Monday evening.  I was a member of a very new congregation, and our church council had decided to offer a free cookout each evening, inviting families in the neighborhood to attend and meet our members.  It worked great for us as it solved our ‘no power to cook’ problem.  The food was great and all seemed to have a nice time.

The theme for their first ever week long evening Vacation Bible School was “Wonder Working Power.”  That touched home to us, for sure.  (Of course, we all sang the song, ‘Power in the Name of Jesus’, which included the words “Wonder Working Power” enthusiastically, but it meant even more to us that week.)  So every afternoon that week, we showered up with cool water after a fun day at the pool and enjoyed a cookout at Church before an exciting Vacation Bible School class.

Friday evening, my son and daughter-in-law came to watch the final program, and took my grandchildren home.   As I drove home alone, a feeling of relief overcame my loneliness, now that the grand kids were back home.  The week had gone very well.  But it was now time to face reality. Something had to be done about my electric power.

As I pulled into my subdivision, our security guard said, “There are three FPL trucks behind your house.  Evidently several of their lines broke into the wooded common grounds there.”  Finally, they realized it was their problem, not mine!  By the time I walked into my house, lights were back on, refrigerator chilling and ceiling fans cooling..

Although the children and I had a wonderful week together, it would have been nice to have our air conditioning working.  As I let the air out of the air mattresses we had used to sleep outside on the screened porch (to get a few cool breezes), I found myself singing. “There is power, power, wonder working power, in the precious blood of the Lord.”  (The kids and I had sang that catchy, peppy song all week and it was stuck in my mind.)

By now, I was really tired but very grateful the week had been fun and no one got hurt. As I climbed into bed, I thanked God for providing His mighty power in the midst of our outage.

DM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Case For Being “Pollyanna-ish”

Yes, it is in the dictionary; defined as being unreasonably or illogically optimistic. And, again yes, there are times when excessive optimism can be annoying and even inappropriate.  When someone has suffered a serious loss of a limb or a loved one, a comment that is extremely optimistic may be hurtful.

Books helped me survive a difficult childhood, especially when I was bedridden for many months without access to television.  It was at that time I was given a copy of the classic book by Eleanor H. Porter.  At a time when I felt ”hopeless,” the story of Pollyanna was a great inspiration.  Although I certainly never succeeded in following in her footsteps,  her glad game did motivate me to become optimistic rather than pessimistic.  For those who are not familiar with her character trait, just before Pollyanna’s dad died, he taught her the glad game.  He believed that no matter what happens, there is always something to be glad about.  (Years later, I learned how this notion is similar to those scriptures in the Bible where we are taught to praise God in every situation).

Although some consider a “Pollyanna” attitude to be unrealistic and foolish, many times adopting an attitude to see the good in most situations contributes to a much happier life than one who is determined to focus on the downside of things and assumes a more negative attitude.

One thing I know for sure:  whenever I have intentionally decided to look for the good in every situation, my life has been far more enjoyable than times when I allow myself to become hopelessly pessimistic.   Pollyanna gave me hope for a better life when I was a sick child and that hope has never abandoned me.

dm

 

When the Fireworks Are Out of Sight

It was evening on July 4th several years ago.  My delightful 90 year old friend, Dorothy, had invited me to come watch fireworks from her balcony overlooking the Halifax River.  I knew she wanted company but I was taking care of my young granddaughter and had promised to take her to watch our community fireworks display.

So I asked Emily, who was five years old, if she cared if we went to be with Miss Dorothy instead of going to the big park to watch the display.  Emily liked Miss Dorothy, so agreed to go to be with her.  We all enjoyed a strawberry ice cream bar, then went out to the 5th floor deck to get ready and comfortable to watch the fireworks.

Soon we heard the sounds of fireworks, and exclamations of delight from the crowd.  But we were unable to see a thing.  We were confused because Miss Dorothy kept saying,  “I don’t understand.  We used to see them perfectly.”

It turned out that she had not watched them for several years, since her husband died.  A new building had been put up since then, that robbed the people living in the center building of their once perfect view.

As I tried to decide if there was enough time to go downstairs and walk around the south building,  Miss Dorothy told us to go ahead but she wasn’t up to going.  Then sweet Emily said, “Oh, no!  We are not going without you.”  She ran over and hugged our elderly hostess.  I was so relieved and proud of young Emily.

So we went indoors and watched Macy’s fireworks on television.  And we enjoyed a second strawberry ice cream bar with a glass of apple juice.

The next year, Emily and her baby sister went with their mom and dad to the community display.  They arrived early to get a great view.  I went to spend the evening with Miss Dorothy.  We again watched the Macy’s fireworks display.  But that year we had vanilla ice cream bars (instead of strawberry) with our apple juice.

I was reminded how we all have times when things do not go as we planned.  But time often gives us a second chance.  As has been said in Israel, “Maybe next year.”

dm

 

The Deep, Emotional Pain of Being Misunderstood

It happens to most of us, from time to time.  The older we get, the quicker we recover, usually.   Yet, it kinda takes the wind out of us for a while, especially if we have no way of proving we meant well or did what we hoped was the right thing to do.

The secret of “getting over” such situations is to forgive ourselves for not being a mind reader and forgive our accuser for misunderstanding our good intentions.  No one said that would be easy.  It isn’t easy!  Yet, with the help of our Heavenly Father, it is possible!

If anyone suffered greatly because many misunderstood him, it was Jesus Christ.  There are no Scripture verses that discuss His hurt feelings or His being resentful. He spent much time in prayer and received power from His Father.  We are offered the same option.  It isn’t always a “quick fix,” but give it a little time and it works well.