Living the Wet Life

One of my favorite pastimes is swimming laps at our nearby community pool.  Early morning is my favorite and when possible bringing an inspirational book and a cup of coffee or water.

woman swimming

After swimming a few laps and treading water, as well as greeting other swimmers, relaxing in a comfortable lounge chair and reading is delightful.  Usually it is easy for me to shut out the activities and conversations of those around me. But not always.

Kids playing “Marco Polo” and other water games often get a bit rowdy until told by parents to “calm down”.  Conversations between youngsters and their siblings can be interesting, as are interactions between children and parents.  Most children especially enjoy playing in the water with their mom and dad.  Some children wistfully watch as parents of other kids join in the fun, while theirs do not.

After finding a set of 5 squirt guns on sale, I offered them to my granddaughters.  Three brothers arrived at the pool and noticed the squirt guns.  “Wow, first time I ever saw girls with so many squirt guns,” the oldest loudly said.  Soon all had one to use and they played well for a long time at the end of the pool.

kids at pool

One warm evening last summer, a large family including a mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins played energetic games of volleyball.  All the other swimmers at the pool were invited to join in. It was very inter-generational, as well as inclusive. Surprisingly, not even the oldest people at the pool complained.  It was refreshing to see such fun among several ages. It doesn’t happen often enough.

pool volleyball
I live two blocks from the beach and one block from our pool, and have found being near the water soothes my soul.  It is a good place to pray and think.

Jesus often walked along the Sea of Galilee as he taught his disciples. He even prepared a breakfast of fish and bread for them.

Once when His disciples thought they were lost in a sudden, strong storm, Jesus walked across the sea to help them.

Jesus taught us how to live ‘the wet life.

woman by ocean

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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

A Grandmother’s Perspective

Several times when my granddaughters were visiting me with their parents, I noticed a recognizable difference between parents and grandparents.  It had to do with the laughter coming from the bathtub when my two youngest granddaughters were supposed to be washing their hair and scrubbing their knees.

“How sweet,”  I thought, enjoying listening to their playful fun. But then. . .

“Girls, you are making too much noise.  I have a headache,” their dad called to them.

“Just get your hair washed and get in bed,” chimed in their mom.

Silence!

Then, rather sadly, I remembered times years ago when my own two little boys were having pillow fights in their bedroom, laughing instead of falling asleep.

pillowfight

”Boys, get to sleep now. It has been a very long day.  I am so tired.”  I would firmly call from my bedroom.  Usually I needed to repeat myself.

“But Mom, we are not tired.”

“Well, I am.”

Finally, silence!

Amazing how, now that I am much older, kids laughing in the evening is music to my ears.

I suspect I’m not alone in acquiring a fondness for children’s laughter later in life.

dm