Take Cover

On April 1st the impact of COVID 19 hit home. All my plays, classes and theater; placed on hold, my husband’s employment; terminated, my daughter; furloughed, my youngest; quarantined in Mexico. We could not see family and friends and there were so many conspiracy theories floating around it made my head spin.

And through it all I made a few discoveries about myself:

  1. I have anxiety over the small unknowns.
  2. I have peace over the big unknowns.
  3. When I am overwhelmed I lose myself in distractions.
  4. I am a rule follower but when the rules are not clear I am a mess!
  5. I question my ALL decisions ALL the time!
  6. Having more free time does not mean I will accomplish more.
  7. I spend hours IMAGINING myself writing .
  8. I REALLY like my man and my adult children.
  9. I do not need to be “great”
  10. I can make a difference on a small scale.

But more importantly than the things I discovered about myself were the things I rediscovered:

  1. Slowing Down leaves room for quality time
  2. Reading is for my soul.
  3. Girlfriends that want to learn, ponder and apply fill my soul.
  4. Learning, pondering, and applying creates an “overflow” from my soul.
  5. Giving out of the “overflow” brings peace and blessings.
  6. My written word matters.
  7. There is room for me, for my thoughts, for my ideas, for my talents.

During this time of discovering and rediscovering I returned to the assurance that I am covered!

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Each morning when I rise I will take cover….each evening when I lie … I will take cover…. and when I take cover my soul shall be at peace.

Strike That, Reverse it.

Up until March 11th 2020 my motto was “So much to do and so little time to do it.” I scurried and stressed, drank copious amounts of coffee and loaded myself with chocolate. Willy Wonka Jr. was opening in 7 days! Tech week was around the corner. I was directing 92 middle schoolers in 2 casts 6 shows, a large crew of volunteers and tech. The hard work, long hours, excitement was building …. then the world was put on hold…just like that. Even as I write this the Candy Man’s cart sits on a quiet stage full of chocolate. The kids cubbies still hold their dance shoes the prop table is laid out and the costumes are hanging in the green room… begging us to come and perform. I promised the kids the show would go on, we would preform after spring break, invite a small audience, pay a professional videographer, Facebook live stream. By April 1st school was cancelled until the end of the year, the governor asked us to “Shelter in Place”, we were social distancing. I was forced to accept the difficult truth; there would be no show with this cast. And now I found myself with “So much time and so little to do.”

I sunk into a sleeping, eating, puzzle doing, binge watching stupor. I had always dreamed of having more time to write and create. More time was forced upon me but I found myself wasting away and wasting time. I felt I was going through “busyness withdrawals.” One day I was essential to the Middle School theater program, the next day I was unemployed. One day I had set my theater season for From Page to Stage Productions and the next day I was cancelled. One day I was measuring my worth by all the “amazing” things I accomplished in a day and the next day I was having a difficult time getting dressed. If I wasn’t essential, if I could not create “amazing things”, what was my worth…

Strike That Reverse It!

After a few weeks into “Shelter in Place” I discovered my worth is not found in a completed to-do list but my worth is who I am. And when I am at peace with who I am, what I do is of worth.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

…and then there were none…

My nephew was married this past March to a beautiful Australian girl. A perfect excuse to travel Down Under! It was a beautiful wedding celebrating my nephew and his new bride. As at any wedding we made small talk with many of the guests. “How are you related to the bride/groom?” “What do you do for a living?” “How many children do you have?” As we were talking to an Aunt and Uncle of the bride I began talking about my daughter Maybaby and it came up that she has Down’s Syndrome. The aunt told me she worked as a teacher’s aide with the learning impaired and how she loved the Down’s population saying the typical… “they are such loving children.” She mentioned that there were many more children with Down’s Syndrome 20+ years ago than she works with in the schools today.  I told her I believed the reason was Australia had legalized abortions and  prenatal test have become quite accurate detecting Down’s Syndrome  many women choose to abort out of fear of the unknown. It was if a light bulb turned on for her. “I never thought of that, what a shame.”

It is a shame. The choices we make out of fear, misinformation and the unknown.

After the wedding MyMan and I traveled to Tasmania and stayed with an old fisherman and his wife. They took us around to their favorite places,  showed some of the “prison” history, and  proudly told us their family history which included ancestors that were “transported” from England— in other words they were prisoners sent to the island. MyMan and I spent a day at Port Arthur wandering in and out of old homes, jails, and churches. That evening when we returned to our fisherman’s “shack” (Tasmanian term for cabin by the sea) I asked our host how the Aboriginal population was on Tasmania. Casually he states “they are an extinct people.” He said they were hunted and killed because they created a problem for the settlers. I stood there shocked. Not because I didn’t understand the atrocities that man has inflicted upon man in the name of progress, I do… I just had never heard the term “extinct”  used to describe a group of people. I was stunned and heartbroken. That night as I lay in bed reflecting on all I had learned that day I recalled the conversation I had at my nephews wedding… “I don’t see many Down’s Syndrome children any more…” My heart began to hurt all over again … my daughter’s people could become extinct.

I have shared this story with several people and I have been planning to write it in a blog for some months—then articles with  titles such as “Iceland Under Fire for the Controversial Method of Nearly Eradicating Down’s Syndrome” and “FACT CHECK: Has Iceland Eliminated Down’s Syndrome through Abortion.” filled my Facebook feed. There it was… I had been pondering the possibility of extinction through abortion and here are  glaring facts. Countries with 98%, 94%, 90% —  of babies aborted that may have Down’s Syndrome.   I’m not a statistician … I’m a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct…  I am not taking sides … I am a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct… I am not condemning the choice of a frightened woman … I am a mother of a daughter whose collective people could become extinct…

…and the world will miss out on the beautiful smiles

…and the unconstrained joy

…and the inspiration

…and the love

…and a sister

…and a daughter…

Dona at airport

…and then there were none…

Falling From the Tree

I am a storyteller. I write them in my head, I write them when I’m awake, I write them in my sleep. I write them as I drive, cook, clean and most often when I walk the dog. Then when my mind is full of characters that are pounding on my frontal lobe to “get out” I write them down, usually in the form of a play, a blog, and occasionally a short story.

But I am not unique in my family— I remember my Grandma Hanes telling me how my Grandfather (whom I never met) would tell stories, sometimes writing them down for the children to read. I have found poems my Grandma Grayce wrote. But the most influential is my Father–a great storyteller. These past 10 years or so he has been writing his stories down. Just this Monday my mother sent us girls the follow memory our Father wrote.  It must be shared!

RISE AND SHINE

“Rise and shine, it’s a beautiful day in Oregon,”  BE QUIET DAD, I’M GETTING UP!!! Was usually the responds I got. Every morning when it was time for the girls to get up I would open the bedroom door and announce the commencement of a new day. Very seldom was this revelry met with a warm friendly response.

This tradition started in our family when our first child Cindy was born and she was at the age when she could get up on her own. Her usual responds to my invitation to getting up was her putting her head under her pillow and inviting me to “quiet” and depart her room. As each child came along they were all met with the same morning invitation.

My greeting would vary as I would be inspired with creative salutation at day break, i.e., “Rise and shine, it’s a beautiful day in Oregon (even when it was cloudy and rainy) the birds are singing, the flowers are flowering, We will face new and exciting challenges which with enthusiasm and determination we can overcome and change the world.” I very seldom got this far before my warm greeting was shouted down and something was thrown at me.

I don’t know if I ever repeated the same salutation, sometimes it was, “Rise and shine, my little cherubs, the opportunities that await us will mold us into beautiful people.”

“Rise and shine, my little chick-a-dees, what warm memories we will have at the day’s end of the exciting experience that awaits us,” I think you get the drift.

This article was inspired by Mom when she decided to post on face book.  “It’s a beautiful day in Oregon. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and God is good. Have a blessed day. ” Our granddaughter, Zoe, responded, “Rise and shine my little Cherubs!!  I can hear papa saying that to me when he wakes me up!!! All of it!”

Another family tradition gone in the past as I am now 81 and my daughters have had children and some of my grandchildren have had children.

Oh, what fun memories!

Dad, grandpa (Papa), great-grandpa (Poppy)

Geared For Fear

Being a mother is hard– concern, guilt and anxiety seem to be hiding just under the surface. My kiddos are now 29, 27and 22. But when my son was born I was afraid he would be cold–I bundled that kid up with so many layers  he broke out in a heat rash, at least that’s what the doctor said. When my Maybaby was born she would carry on hacking and coughing on breast milk. I thought for sure she was choking to death. She had low muscle tone, common in children diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome–at least that’s what the doctor said. And after Naomi, my angel-baby  was diagnosed, in utero, with anencephaly and she lived just 10 hours, I felt… afraid, broken, unable  to have healthy children.  Through prayer, a little faith and a very supportive husband I had one more –Jobird. I did not want her to be tainted by this cynical world so I held her close– at least that’s what my family said.

I don’t envy moms raising kids today  with information coming at them like a freight train.   How do they decide if the information they read is true, fake, harmful, a hoax? Will they be judged if they give their children gluten, non-organic applesauce, or high fructose corn syrup! Stop! Don’t eat that! Check the label! Has that popcorn been genetically modified? Immunizations? Don’t even go there! Everyone has an opinion and the louder, longer and angrier that opinion is stated the more likely it is perceived as truth and if you are brave enough to have an alternating view, hang on for you will be judged as inadequate and unfit to parent.

When my children were infants their father and I stood in front of our church and dedicated our babies to God stating that they were his and we would raise them to love  Him and his Word. As our children grew we taught them to  “trust in the Lord with all my heart,(Provebs 3:5)” “be anxious for nothing(Philippians 4:6) ,” “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. Psalm 118:6)” and to look both ways before crossing the street (Sesame Street 1966). And yet… we worried we wouldn’t get parenting right.

When my kiddos were 13, 11 and 6 my life took a sharp u-turn. Their father, my Randy, died suddenly. How could God let this happen? I had been faithful through the surprise birth of Maybaby and her diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome, I had held Naomi in my arms as she breathed her last breath, and now my husband, gone, just like that his heart stopped beating.  Oh, you can bet I grabbed on to my kiddos and declared “You can’t have these!” “You’ve taken enough!” “These three are mine!”

…….. and fear set in. If I was away from them very long, I would panic. I needed to get back to them and protect them. I was full of anxiety. I was on edge.  I worried how was I going to keep them safe.  The fear was like a weight on my chest getting heavier and heavier by the moment. Then one day, Myboy and I were out running errands and I had an anxiety attack. I had  to get back to the girls to make sure they were safe. I couldn’t get there fast enough. Speeding and weaving in an out of traffic,  I was breathing heavy and near tears when I pulled into the driveway only to find my girls happily watching a movie with their grandma. At that moment I knew I could not go on living in fear.

I went to my room alone and frightened crying out to God. “I cannot not live in fear! I cannot worry over my children day and night. I cannot protect them from every danger. I give them to you Lord, they are yours.”  There in my messy room I did  the most difficult yet freeing thing I have ever done, I gave my children back to God. “Whatever Lord, I will trust you. Whatever Lord, I will believe you. Whatever Lord, I will love you. I give my children back to you.” At that moment a ‘peace that transcends all understanding(Philippians 4:7)’ washed over me.

In the past 16 years all my children have traveled  all over the world. They have  seen and done amazing things without their Momma holding their hand.  This year MyMan and I traveled to Australia for 3 weeks leaving Maybaby and Jobird at home to fend for themselves, and bless their hearts the house was clean when we returned.

I shudder to think what my children’s life would look like if I chose to live in worry and fear. Their lives would be small, dependent and unhappy.  I shutter to think who I would be today if I chose to live in fear.

If I can leave you with anything I leave you with this:

“Cast your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.(Psalm 55:22)”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving It Up

Lent was a foreign concept to me growing up in a non-catholic fundamental evangelical home. We were free from “rituals” but boy did we live by the “law”. When I was in grade school our neighbors across Everett Street were Catholics and the first time I remember Lent being mentioned was the mom had given up chocolate for Lent.

“Boy”, I thought, “Is that all there is to Lent? Giving up chocolate makes God happy?”

I would happily give up chocolate for 6 weeks that seemed like an easy sacrifice compared to  sitting in Sunday Evening Service  and missing every episode of The  Wonderful World of Disney..which my Catholic friends got to watch each week.

My next encounter with Lent was working at a Lutheran Nursing Home while I was attending college in Minnesota. One evening I went to help Carmen, who happened to be one of the few Catholics at the home,  get ready for bed.

“Carmen, you have a smudge right here between your eyes,” I said “Here I’ll get that for you.”

As I took a washcloth to clean her forehead, I received a thorough tongue-lashing concerning the sacred ritual of Ash Wednesday. Needless to say, I never question black smudges this time of year.

Several years ago I came to the realization that Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday. It is the day to “super-size” our sins before we confess them on Ash Wednesday and  give up something for Lent.  This idea I formed just made me dislike the practice of Lent even more.

These three incidences had been my entire education regarding Lent. I had no interest or understanding of it.

Then I heard Father Barron of “Word of Fire Catholic Ministries,” compare Lent to Spring Training.  The baseball player knows how to play baseball, he is passionate about the game, it is his livelihood and yet each spring he leaves the comforts of his home and goes back to the basics to become a better player. He refreshes his skills, renews his strength, and gains new insight in how to play better.

Lent is my Spring Training, I am getting back to the basics, I am giving up something I enjoy to focus on time spent in prayer, Bible reading, reflection and giving of my time and resources to others. Each year I spend in the practice of Lent, my relationship with Jesus deepens, my knowledge of the Bible becomes clearer and I’ve drawn closer to people because I have prayed for them and made a tangible difference in the world because I have given of my love, my time and my resources.

I will carry these renewed habits long past the celebration of Easter and I will be better for having given up something small for the gain of something meaningful.

 

 

 

 

This Makes Me Smile

A brand new box of crayons
A bouquet of yellow newly sharpened Ticonderoga #2s
An analog clock
Fresh chalk on a clean blackboard
Postcards
Wonderful names like Sadie Lawless, Will Slicker and Joe Natie
An old tree trunk feeding new life
Ears
The moment a child understands
A new word
A well told story
Children who believe I lived with Gypsies

Simply Musing

I have named my blog “Momma C’s Pearls” Simply Musing. Hmmm this title implies I have words of wisdom, that is a tall order to live up to.

I have been questioning myself, the past six months; “Who am I to think I have something to wise to say?”  “What if others find my words offense?” “What if I’m proved wrong?” “There is so much to read, how can there be room for one more blog?”

…but I can’t stop pondering on my quiet walks, sitting at my kitchen table, in the shower; I keep thinking, comprising, wondering,….musing….

        MUS-ING
       ˈmyo͞oziNG
             noun
                    1.  a period of reflection or thought, contemplation
I have several “periods” through out the day when I am musing, then I am interrupted by real life and responsibilities. The “pearl” has gone missing , no where to be found, lost in the gray matter.
…and I think…  that “pearl” may have touched, moved or inspired someone.
…it’s safe for me to  think I could have inspired someone when I can’t remember what the inspiration was.
I am off the hook.
I do not have to share.
and yet…
I feel a void, a restlessness that those musings should have been shared, if for no other reason than to cause another to muse, pondering or think.
 … oh what a crazy set of  pearls I string.
MUS-ING
ˈmyo͞oziNG
     adjective:
           1.  to gaze thoughtfully, meditatively or wonderingly

…as I sit here…umm musing over the  definition in adjective form, I think back to my high school  years, when between classes I would hear the calls of “Spaaaccce Ghooossst” floating through the air in my direction.

I was your typical 1980’s airhead, so  it seemed, but now I know I was a  muser (that would be the noun for someone who muses)! It was more than daydreaming, or spacing off; it  was “gazing thoughtfully, wonderingly, meditatively”.

..but alas it was my blurting out of those ideas or the question I pondered silently that suddenly would burst forth before I could sensor and determine ‘that one should be left unspoken’ that secured my nick-name of Space Ghost all through high school.

…or was it…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f10/45277963/files/2015/01/img_1897.jpg  Bigfork Eagle 1980

the add my parents placed in the local newspaper…

Whatever the case may be, I am empowered  by the word musing.

I can once again speak the questions that have remained silent, search for thoughts that have been hidden in my mind and restringing my pearls of wisdom, so they may have the freedom to touch, move and inspire those who may stumble across my musings.

The Price of a Word

My Dad and I were playing the “quote ” game. I would say a quote and he would guess who said it.

“Four score and seven years ago our Father’s set forth a new nation” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address–of course.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!” Scarlett O’Hara,  Gone With the Wind…one of my all time favorite movies!

“God helps those who helps themselves. ”  I thought I’d get him on this one! He knows it’s not in the Bible, it’s in Poor Richard’s Almanac, coined by Benjamin Franklin.  My Dad  is a tough one to trick!

Ok Dad how about this one, “Words are free but they can cost you everything.” hmmm, he had to think, “I don’t know, but who ever said that is wise.”

I beamed! It was my quote. I coined it. I said it one night after dinner.

In a moment where wisdom was lacking.

It had been one of those conversations, it could go either way. Everyone could leave the table happy, feeling appreciated, loved, important or angry, hurt, unappreciated, wishing they were somewhere else. That night, the word cost a lovely evening. Each left the table to hide out in their own space, find comfort in their music, movie, or computer because there would be no comfort found in each other, I sat contemplating what the thoughtless word had cost.

The price was too high. It cost an evening with my husband, a hug from my Dona May, a heart to heart with my JoBird. The price was lonely  hours of regret. The thoughtless word,  could not be taken back,  the minutes could not be gained. As time was fleeting and  lost, the word hung in the room as if it were humidity, unseen but thick and sticky and miserable.

As the time ticked by and thought was put into a kind word, a loving apology, a heartfelt acknowledgement, love was restored, but time was not regained.

 

An unkind word, a careless comment, a thoughtless phrase, the need to make a point,  the need to be right, the need for them to be wrong, the need to look good, the need to avoid looking bad….. That’s the price, it’s not worth the cost.

 

I have my quote.

I whisper it to myself often.

I repeat it to my husband.

I mention it to my children.

I share it with my friends.

I slow down a bit when I answer.

I weigh the cost of my comment.

I breath gentleness in my reply.

The next word will be priceless.

 

 

 

 

Best Thank you Card Ever!

Best Thank-you Card Ever

After a visit to see my family I received this from my 5 year old Great Nephew:

I’m Isaiah,

To Aunt Cerie the bomb.

I love you Aunt Cerie.

Can I come to your house soon.

I had fun with you.

I liked Toy Story  two and going on walks with you.

My favorite walk was when we went to our Secret Garden in the compost.

I had fun sleeping with you.

I liked the puppy pop up book, the froggy pop up book and the peeking under the bushes book.

I feel bad that I left you. I love you again.

I had fun with you at my house.

bye Aunt Cerie I am hanging up now.

Love Isaiah

to: Aunt Cerie

PS You have a nice name.

Best Thank-you Card Ever