Am I Worthy?

Did you know that Memorial Day is for the remembrance of those who have lost their lives in service to the country? Those who have given all, so to speak. Veteran’s Day is for all who have served and Armed Forces Day is for all who are currently serving.

I know! I just recently learned the differences myself. It really caused me to pause and ponder the intensity of this day. (I almost can’t call it a holiday.)

I’m sure we all have someone in our family history that sacrificed their life in a conflict or war. We can all relate to that loss in some way.

Why would a person do that? Sacrifice their life? For country? Maybe. For the service? Doubtful. For duty? No. I believe people are willing to throw themselves into harm’s way for love. For love of family, freedom, the person standing next to them and God.

I think love is the strongest emotion there is and can make a person act in amazing ways, even overcome their basic will to live. It can give us superhero strength, kittenlike gentleness, rocket speed, rubber band agility, a giving heart and the ability to sacrifice, up to and including one’s life.

And so we wish those lives were not sacrificed in vain, that nothing comes of their ultimate gift. What does that love gift of theirs then require of us now? Is our only debt to them to remember a day? Have a BBQ? Go to the lake? Get a tan?

I ask myself – am I worthy of their sacrifice? What would my ancestors ask of me? What is the price of their gift?

I think all our sacrificial kin expect and hope is for us to live our best lives, every day. We need to practice and live out the freedoms they ensured. We need to be active positive citizens in a country they helped keep open. We need to be good models and mentors of the love they died for.

In answer to my own question – am I worthy? My answer is “no, I am never worthy enough. I can always do better, be better. They gave their lives-their all-the ultimate. Of course, I’m not worthy” and yet my answer is also “yes, I’m worthy. I’m the heir of my lost one’s gift. The reason for his sacrifice. I must use the gift to the best of my ability. The world and I will be better for it.”

We must be worthy to the task of carrying on the gift of sacrificial love and passing it on generation to generation.

Everyday, not just Memorial Day!!!!

What A Quilt Can Do

Most people think a quilt is made as a utility item, usually to keep people warm. And that would be correct. in many cases. A quilt is very good at keeping people warm and cozy in bed. It has been doing that job well for centuries.

But I have seen quilts perform many other functions over the years as well. They are very versatile and multi-functional things.

For instance, a quilt can give a great big hug to a grandchild from a grandmother. Watch the child wrap the quilt around himself, close his eyes and spin around in the magic of grandma’s bear hug. It is mystical!

A quilt can say “thank you” to a veteran for his/her years of loyal service. I have seen grown men cry while humbly surrounded in the red, white and blue colors of their Quilt of Valor.

A small quilt given from a Police Officer can comfort a little child in a time of trauma. Nothing is more soothing than a soft cuddly quilt that can be squeezed and held tight while taken with the child on a tough journey.

A quilt, any quilt, can decorate a space. It can add color or design or a statement or whimsy to any room. Big or little, traditional or modern. two color or scrappy, every quilt has something to add to every domain in which it exists. It has a life – a reason to be.

A quilt can be an inspiration to others. It can encourage someone to try a color combination or a design or a new skill. Hanging in a Quilt Show, every quilt is a little beacon of light, begging to be copied or followed in some small way. Every quilt has something to give.

A quilt can teach – in fact, every quilt does. I learn something new from every quilt quilt I make, which makes me a better quilter. It may be something small or something really significant, but there’s always a lesson. A lot like life, right?

Every quilt is good practice for my skills. It keeps me honed and sharp. It’s like going to the gym or working out everyday – keeping the muscles in shape. Working on quilts keeps me in tip-top sewing shape.

Quilts bring joy. I would rather sew and quilt than almost anything else. Making them brings me joy. Seeing them brings me joy. Seeing other people’s quilts brings me joy. Knowing about brings me joy. Using them brings me joy.

Quilts make great gifts. They say “Happy Birthday”, “Happy Anniversary”, “Congratulations”, “Good Job” better than anything I know. Quilts practically jump out of the box on their own, they are so happy! They make people smile, laugh, cry and squeal.

For some, their quilt is their home, They live on it, sleep on it and eat on it. Their quilts are sturdy, well made, hard working items, meant to stand hardship and tough use. We make them at our church and send them mostly to India with lots of hope and prayers.

But the best thing EVERY quilt can do – convey love!!! All quilts are made with large doses of love sewn right into them, so they carry that love wherever they go. You can feel it the instant you touch it.

Whether you are a newborn baby or an elder on Hospice Care, the love is there for you. Whether the occasion is funny, intense, happy, sad or proud, the quilt brings just what is needed and just the right touch of care. Whether the recipient is a stranger or the closest loved one, the quilt is always appropriate and always gathered up in loving arms.

Quilts are meant to used and loved.

I know I love mine – and I believe they love me back.

What I’ve Learned About Love While Watching Outlander

So I have been bingeing on “Outlander” the last few months – all five seasons. Yes, I have become enthralled with it. What a magnificent love story!!

And this is what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t be afraid to love. Give your heart willingly and completely. Risk loss and heartache. Be brave.
  • Give words to your love. Say all the things you feel. Even it seems corny, say it to the one you love.
  • Give action to your love. Do the small things as well as the big things. Be helpful. Be kind. Be thoughtful.
  • Fight for your love. Make the effort. Put in the time and energy. Make your love feel important.
  • Tell others of your love. Be proud. Speak positively about your love.
  • Be true to your love. Don’t stray. Don’t lie. Don’t let someone or something come between you.
  • Don’t keep secrets from your love. Be honest. Be forthcoming. Be your true self.
  • Have fun with your love. Laugh. Be spontaneous. See the humor in everyday things.
  • Be strong for your love. Hold tight. Be present. Cry with them in the sad times. Don’t quit.
  • Be willing to share your love. Include children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all the family you can find. And friends. Love shared is love multiplied.
  • Spend time with your love. Be willing to listen, watch and share. Your time is your greatest gift.
  • Allow your loved one to be their best self. Support their passions, hobbies and skills. Share their joys. Applaud their growth.
  • Be lovingly physical. Make love. Hold hands. Kiss often. Stroke arms. Sit close. Rub backs. Touch feet.
  • Protect your love. Don’t let interlopers in. Don’t let love die from lack of attention. Keep watch. Stay alert.

And so love is not a casual accidental thing. It is intentional. It takes time and work. It is not just a noun. It is also a verb. It is a full-time job for the rest of your life.

And it is so worth it!!!!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.

Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

A Good Movie Plot

My mother was born in a hospital in a small town in South Dakota. She was the youngest of all girls.

My dad was born in the same hospital four days later. He was the youngest of all boys.

My two grandmothers met each other in the hospital, of course and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different sex child in the family. That did not happen!

But the two children grew up knowing each other from day one. My mother recalled, in kindergarten, that my father brought cupcakes in for his birthday four days after she had brought cupcakes in for her birthday. She wasn’t impressed at the time.

I’d say she wasn’t much impressed with my dad for most of the years they were in school. He was pretty wild for his time and she was very shy.

In high school, they dated some. My dad was a cheerleader. I still have a hard time imagining that but it was an activity with some status. He was part of the group of kids that went to mom’s house often.

I think he began to fall in love with her in those years. She was very cute and lots of fun.

During WWII, they both joined the military. My dad went into the CB’s and mother became a Marine. I don’t think they saw each much during those years but they exchanged letters a lot.

It was always expected that mother would marry another boy from home. But somewhere in there Daddy proposed to her. I believe they were both on leave at the time.

Mother said she was on a train coming home, having to decide which man to marry, when a vision of her deceased mother appeared to her. The vision told her it was alright to marry my dad.

Mother always said she knew in her heart that was the right choice for her and had no second thoughts from that moment on.

They were married in the small town in South Dakota with both families in attendance. Myself and my two brothers arrived not long after. A family was born.

I’ve always thought that my parents’ story would make the best plot for a movie. I’m thinking Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed would play my parents. In fact they even look a bit like my folks. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful tribute?