From the Author

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


There are many angels that we don't recognize as angels because they are sent to us to help us to grow spiritually.  Sometimes when we pray, God sends a human angel to answer our prayer. At some point, we have the opportunity to be someone else's angel. The key to recognizing this invitation is to keep our hearts and minds open to the needs of others 365 days if the year,  As we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holidays, we sometimes forget the meaning behind the celebrations. It is the little things that can make the difference in someone's life.  The phone calls to check to see how someone is, shoveling snow for elderly or disabled neighbors, active listening and observation to focus on stated and unstated needs, sending a get well, bereavement or thinking of you card, welcoming a lonely person to family gatherings, noticing if someone is not doing regular activities and finding out why,  donating food, clothing, toys to individuals you know or don't know, donating your time and talents to others, giving an encouraging smile and hug as needed or sharing your love.  There is often no money involved in these gifts but money given from the heart can bring hope to those struggling financially.

Sometimes angels come to us in "Sheep's clothing".  I asked God for patience and I became the caregiver for my mother.  I have learned never to be in a hurry, to walk slowly and to listen to repetitious stories.  It wasn't how I envisioned to learn patience but it has been effective to an extent.  I am still learning from my "angel".  Quote:  "Put up willingly with the faults of others if you want others to put up with yours".  --St. John Bosco     God has a wonderful sense of humor!

Gifts of the heart

I remember the Christmas when my 2 year old daughter gave me a present.  It was a white sheet of paper with four crayon lines  !! !! I couldn't imagine what it was so I had the presence of mind to ask her to "tell me about your present".  She was so excited when she told me it was a picture of me.  After I looked at it I realized what it was.  She was obviously short and from her vantage point, I was eye level for her at my legs.  She had drawn two legs!  I laughed and hugged her and thanked her for my portrait.  It was the best portrait I have ever had since it was drawn with love. It is fun to look at the world through the eyes of another.  Sometimes gifts of the heart are unusual or strange at first. If we take the time to look at the thought behind the gift, we can see the love there.  So much of life is not in the usual, orchestrated, planned, scripted occurrences, but instead in the spontaneous and unexpected gifts of the self.  Accepting the unusual gift may be a little difficult as it is unexpected, but if we can live in the moment and look into the eyes of the giver, we can see and feel the love which is the best gift of all.  I hope that you have many gifts of the heart this year.  They can't be bought, only felt!  

You can't pray and worry at the same time!

Quote from an NFL player.  "You can't pray and worry at the same time!".  So much of life's happiness hinges on "being present at the moment".  That may include listening with full attention to each other instead of trying to text and listen at the same time or catch up on facebook, twitter etc. as we are communicating with others.  We miss so much of what is happening now in our lives.  We miss the opportunity to grow intellectually, psychologically and spiritually because we are always afraid of what is in our future or struggling with the past.  Living in the moment allows us to appreciate our lives, our family, our friends, our job and our faith.  I saw the most beautiful sunset yesterday and I took time to explore its beauty and live in that moment of beauty and wonder.  My grandchildren were over to help trim my Christmas tree and they were creative, excited and willing to help.  I took the time to enjoy the moment as they are growing up and won't have the same type of joy they have for Christmas this year at any other time.  These moments are precious and fleeting.  We can spend so much time worrying about everything being perfect, finding the ideal presents, decorating beautifully, cooking deliciously, wrapping with creativity, etc. that we forget Christmas is about spending time with special people in our lives.  We never know if we or they will be present next year.  They are here with us now and we can celebrate unique and wondrous moments with family and friends. The other concerns will be forgotten but the interaction with our loved ones will be remembered and cherished.

Be present when you pray and your worries will become just fleeting memories.  Faith and trust will take over and fill your heart with peace and love.  What better way to spend the holidays!  Remember the lonely people who no longer have involved or existing family but will love to enjoy time with you!  Happy holidays to friends of all faiths!

Friday, November 20, 2015

gifts of the heart

It's almost time for Christmas and the thought of gifts come to mind.  I have often felt the joy of gifts from the heart that have no monetary value but enormous emotional benefits.  We can get so hung up with "buying" gifts that we forget that the best gifts don't have price tags.  I have received gifts that were created by family or friends that I have saved for many years.  They have "sentimental" value because the person thought about me and personalized a special gift just for me.

I had to laugh at myself because I gave my sister two portraits of her and her husband made from the same photograph.  I forgot I had done the first painting years ago.  Fortunately it was the thought that counted!  She didn't make too much of my obviously bad memory and will have to suppress her laughter for many years to come.

Some gifts are hugs, telephone calls to check in or silly cards to make me laugh.  Sometimes it is a meal or leftovers so that I don't have to cook for one.  I know some folks give flowers or candy for every gift-giving opportunity. They are very wonderful for the person who enjoys flowers but not as appropriate for someone who loves a gift of time visiting, someone who takes time to fix something in the house or car, someone who is available when you need a friend to listen.  True gifts are voluntary and come from the heart.  Otherwise it is just "stuff".  I'm trying to downsize gifts that are not tailored to the needs of the recipient and make them more "user friendly".

If you don't have money for gifts, there are plenty of other ways to provide a unique and lovely gift of the heart!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Remember to gift the cooks for Thanksgiving with the clean-up crew!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A tribute to Evie

My granddaughter is 10 years old.  Her best friend Evie loved life, swim team, music, her family and her friends.  Evie also enjoyed overnights with her best friend and tackled life each day with fun and excitement.  Evie was with her family for 10 years and then she was gone.  She died suddenly with no warning or reason.  Evie was blessed with a deep faith, compassion for others, the love of a large family and many friends.  Although her life was short, she accomplished many things and affected many people. She had a huge impact on the world for someone so young.  I know that she will remain in the hearts of many people as they try to answer the question "Why?" I love my granddaughter and I am so sad that she has to deal with the death of her best friend, another child, at age 10.  Life is not predictable.  It is precious.  It is brief.  We have such a short time to have impact on those we love.

We don't always have tomorrow to say "I'm sorry" or "I love you".  We do have this moment in time to have positive, life-changing interactions with every person we come in contact with.  We can make a difference today as tomorrow is not promised.  The people in our lives are only lent to us by God and there are no guarantees how long we will have them.  It is enough that we have them now.  Don't wait to say "I love you" or "You are special to me" or "Thank you" or "I forgive you" or "You have made a difference in my life".  If someone dies, it is important to be able to have a good memory rather than that of an angry confrontation.  I think it would be wonderful if we remembered to forgive and move forward in a positive way as we all try to cope with the struggles in our lives.  No one is immune from life setbacks.  Everyone needs others for understanding, encouragement and help. We all need to have faith in God and each other.

Quote:  Fear is a pair of handcuffs on your soul.  Actress Fay Dunaway

I think there are many decisions governed first by fear and then eventually, hopefully, by common sense.  Fear is a natural response to a real threat to our lives, homes, jobs, and anything important to us. Fear can literally save our life or the life of our family or friends.  It can force us to leap forward to confront the impending disaster and find an escape route to minimize the threat or find a way to cope. It is nature's way to increase adrenaline to protect ourselves.

Fear can also be a response to an unknown, unidentified and terrifying specter of a perceived disastrous, impending doom.  The issue is that we are afraid of a concept that that is not real.  It takes common sense to investigate the fear and break it down into manageable facets that we can begin to determine if our initial response is based on reality.  Is it something we can deal with if we plan a coordinated systematic approach to minimize the impact of the possible disaster?  Is it, in fact, not a threat at all?  Is the adrenaline rush wasted and a detriment to our bodies and health?

Individuals can become overwhelmed with fears, real or imagined and become "paralyzed with fear" and have difficulty coping with daily life decisions.  Nations can become "paralyzed with fear" also and have difficulty coping with decision-making that can affect millions of people and multiple countries. 

We can become so fearful that we retreat from making decisions and allow the non-decision become the decision to let life make decisions for us.  We lose the control of our own destiny because we allow fear to keep us from trust and positive interactions.  Fear takes away our power to move forward and make awesome changes to make our personal world and THE world a better, more compassionate place.  

Fear can become the handcuffs on our collective souls.  Not if we don't let it.  Not if we trust God.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I recently was involved in a decision to have elective surgery for a hereditary condition.  It was difficult to think about having surgery at all. Surgery can have a negative or positive outcome depending on the circumstances.  Individuals may have reactions to anesthetic, develop infections, have significant pain, difficult recovery  and unknown issues that can even cause death.  However, it was a decision made to go forward without regret that included prayer and confidence in the physician.  I was blessed that the procedure and recovery are going well.  Facing surgery brings many emotions to the surface, fear, courage, despair, hope, vulnerability and faith in others, dependence on others and interdependence on internal strengths, inability to predict ability or inability to deal with pain.
I think of others who face many obstacles including multiple surgeries or uncomfortable medical interventions and I applaud their ongoing courage that occurs on a daily basis.  They are unsung heroes along with their devoted caregivers.  Life is never easy.  It can be totally overwhelming when we try to face challenges by ourselves.  Faith, Family and Friends are three of the greatest gifts that God gives us.  It is important that we look outside ourselves and notice the suffering of others.  I remember when I was a parent and I had four young children with chicken pox.  I happened to call a friend and she related her struggles when her six children had chicken pox.  I thought "If she could survive it, I could too".  No matter how difficult our lives are, there are others who are having a rougher time.  We can then put our issues in perspective and realize how blessed we are.  I am so appreciative of the help and support I have received.  I hope that in the future I can be available to help others.
For those experiencing grief especially during the holidays, you have my prayers and encouragement. I know that as God helps us in our daily lives, I know he is looking out for our deceased loved ones who are not physically here with us but remain buried deeply in our hearts and memories.
For service members away from family during the holidays, I thank you for your sacrifices and for your family and friends who share you with your country.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


I can't believe that life is so fragile and can change in an instant.  My sister called one morning and told me that Jeff had died suddenly during the night.  A husband of 40 years with four children and grandchildren died at age 61.  Jeff was a man who had boundless energy.  He was extremely intelligent and had a wonderful sense of humor.  He lived life to the fullest and had just recently gone on a wonderful vacation. Jeff traveled extensively with his job and with his wife Kathleen for vacations.  He has many friends everywhere he lived and traveled.  I think he will have wonderful discussions in Heaven!  Jeff liked to keep busy and would fix computers, a walker for my mother, anything that he could find that needed attention.  Life is just a short term gift that God has given us.  I think Jeff made the most of the time and talents he had.  I hope that the same thing will be said about me when I die.  I think most of us forget that we never know how long we have on this earth and that we need to make everyday count.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Politeness, the lost art

I am so excited when I meet individuals who have learned the art of weaving a peaceful balm of politeness and caring into their everyday lives.  Please, I'm sorry and thank you are very powerful when they are used sincerely and without expectations.  I am so grateful that my grandchildren have been taught to be kind, thoughtful and polite by my sons, daughters, and my daughters-in-law and sons-in-law.  When someone says please, I'm sorry and thank you, they are showing respect, acceptance and acknowledgement of the person they are addressing.  Politeness goes hand in hand with kindness and awareness of the needs of others.  It is also important to know how to say please and thank you to God everyday for the blessings we have, especially for all of those people in our lives who love and encourage us. Telling someone sincerely that "I am sorry" opens the door to dialog, healing and forgiveness. Children learn by example.  It our responsibility to live our lives as a teacher and model of the kind of person we want our children to become.  We can leave a legacy of peace, hope and love in a world that is confusing and often disturbing in its brutal, raw, enraged frustration. Our children see us struggle with life choices and when they have an opportunity to see us choose forgiveness over anger: kindness, integrity and caring over lying, cheating and profanity: they are inspired to better themselves. Anger is the absence of love.  Forgiveness is the  healing peace that enables us to embrace love.  Please find love in your heart, peace in your life, and don't be afraid to say I'm sorry!  And especially remember that God is always available.  He is our teacher and our refuge!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Present

This is a quote that I copied from somewhere.  I don't have the author's name.  

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow a mystery
Today is a gift
That's why it is called the present

It's important for all of us to realize that life can change in an instant.  We never know how much time we have.  The time we have now is precious.  What is it that we want to accomplish with our lives?  It is not something we can postpone forever because we don't have forever.  We do have today and the opportunity to make our lives count.  We can't take money and physical things with us when we die.  We can bring the love and respect of our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and those we meet on a daily basis.  We can leave ripples of love on the waters of our life.  It's our choice and our gift to have time that we experience as the present.


I'm thinking of Chrissy today.  I miss her even though I didn't physically see her often, I always knew she was there by phone or other media.  She was a woman of faith and served her family, friends and neighbors.  I remember when she was dating her husband Jerry. Jerry is a real cowboy who lives a somewhat isolated lifestyle.  Chrissy loved people, city lifestyle of movies, parties, music, and comforts of technology.  When she and Jerry left for cowboy life, I couldn't imagine how she would survive.  Sometimes she lived without indoor plumbing, she was socially alone with neighbors who lived miles away and she was not fond of riding horses!  She and Jerry loved each other and were able to compromise during the first couple of rough years.  Because they had to depend on each other, their relationship became very close and they were truly a couple.  They also grew in faith while they raised their two sons.  Chrissy was able to take her love of photography to her cowboy life and left a wonderful record of photos to document a lifestyle that is slowly fading away.  Jerry was able to take her photos and make beautiful paintings and drawings.  They were a team.  They both had a deep love of their children and were involved in their community.  I know she is no longer alive except in the minds, spirit, and hearts of those who loved her.  I know that she is enjoying her pain-free lifestyle of our personal angel in heaven.  I love you Chrissy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

My small miracle

I was very stressed with grief as my sister was dying out of state and I was unable to be with her.  I had sent in my tax payment with a check but forgot to transfer funds from my savings to my checking account.  I had to pay another bill and decided to check my account balance.  I was shocked to find out it was 0.  I went to the bank immediately and worried about bounced check fees. The cashier informed me that there were no bounced checks and gave me a copy of my recent transactions.  I was shocked to see that the amount I previously had in my account was $229.79.  When I went to Krogers the day before I charged exactly $229.79 to my debit card.  What are the chances that I spent exactly the amount I had in my account to the penny?  I was so relieved that I didn't have to worry about the bank on top of everything else!  How many times do we all experience these miracles but don't recognize the hand of God in our lives!  It was comforting to me that God had my back!

Friday, July 31, 2015


My sister Chrissy, 48 years old, died on July 29, 2015.  I told her she was my hero because she had to endure so much pain without complaint.  She knew she was not well but chose to travel from Jackpot Nevada to Dayton Ohio to celebrate our mother's early birthday party.  She decided she would have pain whether she was at home, traveling or with us at the party.  She always had a deep faith but it was tested when the relentless pain increased.  Her husband Jerry and sons Cody and Clay were very attentive and supportive.  Regardless, the process of dying is something that no one else can do for us.  Chrissy faced her illness with courage and directness.  She knew the recent party for mom was her last chance to say goodbye to her family.  She would have such intense pain that she would curl up in a ball and rock back and forth.  She returned home after traveling with pain for an entire day. She continued to be positive, have a sense of humor and endeavored to make peace with everyone. Jerry was devastated but was totally present for his wife of over 20 years "in sickness and in health". I am so proud of the person of faith that Chrissy became and her willingness to share love in the midst of her pain.  I will always miss her until I see her again when I die.  I picture her with Dad, who died many years ago.  I am so happy she is no longer in pain but I am so sad she is no longer physically present.  I hope we all realize that God only lends our family and friends to us.  We don't know how long any of us will be alive.  I hope we learn to appreciate everyone we have contact with, treat them as we want to be treated and enjoy the time we have.  Hugs and encouragement have no price tag but they are priceless!  I love you Chrissy, Jerry, Cody and Clay.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Chrissy King

This post is dedicated to my sister Chrissy King, her husband Jerry and two sons.  I have worked with hospice and home care patients for many years but it is most difficult when it is a family member.  Chrissy has had multiple cysts, tumors, surgeries and is facing decisions that are significant about treatments within financial constraints.  She tackles everything head on with courage and dignity.  She has the support of faith, family, and friends but the decisions are hers to make.  She looks at life with humor and awareness as she carefully explores her options.  I told her that she is my hero because she makes the most of her life and has positively affected everyone she interacts with.  Life is never what we expect but life expects us to accept the unexpected.  Chrissy lifts our hearts and faith as she continues to take one minute at a time.  She has my prayers and my love.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life is a privilege

This is a quote from the newspaper from Dr. Oliver Sacks who recently revealed that he has only months to live due to liver cancer.  This knowledge, he reports, has enabled him to see his own life "as if from a a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of a connection of all its parts."  He states he is grateful to have loved and been loved.  "Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."  He said nothing about how much money he made or how many things he had acquired.

Last night my son-in-law was ill and passed out.  He hit his head but was not injured seriously.  It takes only an instant to change a life simply or drastically.  In the news there has been many deaths from earthquakes, storms, and other natural calamities.  We never know when it is our time to die.  It is so important to live each day with meaningful, loving and caring interactions with our families, friends, neighbors, countries, environment, animals and life itself. By living with faith, integrity, love and kindness, we have a wonderful landscape of our life to behold as we face death.  We are proud of who we are and what we have accomplished in our life as we positively interacted with our world and other life travelers.  Life is a privilege and it is important that we use every moment to remember why we are here and find what we have to offer to God and others.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


My sister has a tumor and has surgery soon. For over a year she experienced excruciating pain but testing did not find the cause. Many times she was refused pain medications because doctors thought she was an addict and seeking drugs. She felt abandoned by God and became angry.  Why was this happening to her? She continued to experience pain until a doctor decided to pursue all avenues until he found the reason for her discomfort.  After many tests, finally the tumor was located.  At least my sister was now able to get pain medications. It took about 5 weeks to schedule her surgery because it requires two surgeons and many hours of delicate surgery.  So many times doctors encounter patients who fake illness to get pain medications.  However, there are many patients who have an unusual diagnosis and there are no particular known tests to identify their issues. It has to be difficult for a doctor to decide how to treat patients who have no insurance, no verification of diagnosis to explain pain origin, and science has no known way to determine validity of pain.  Please keep her in your prayers!


I used to hate having curly hair.  In high school I used big cans on my shoulder length hair at night to keep it straight.  I didn't sleep well but my hair was straighter in the morning.  As soon as I walked out the door, my hair would hit moisture and would become frizzy and curly.  It was a losing battle! After years of trying everything including ironing my hair (and burning it and experiencing a horrible smell), I decided to embrace my curls.  I had my hair cut short and in layers. The curls burst out in all of their glory. It was finally easier to get ready for the world when I washed my hair, let it dry. brushed it and began my day.  I learned that I am who I am.  I learned also what I am not.  I do not have long, straight hair, a beautiful figure and I am not graceful.  I do have curly hair, a kind smile, a clean body and a good attitude.  God must have made me this way for a reason!  Life is never what we want or expect it to be.  It is a continuous surprise.  It is better or worse than we expected many times. Sometimes it is repetitious and seems that we are making no progress.  If we can learn to accept what we have been given, enjoy the moments and people we encounter, and embrace God's will for us, we can then feel more peace. Anxiety about the things we cannot change will no longer have power over our happiness. Our first priority is to put God first and let him handle the major challenges of our lives.

Monday, March 30, 2015


My mother is 89 and recently fractured her hip after a fall.  It is amazing that she survived surgery and rehab. It is amazing that I survived her.  She was understandably scared, depressed, overwhelmed and did not adjust well to her loss of independence.  Fortunately she was eventually willing to keep working on her rehabilitation exercises with encouragement.  She was in two different rehabs and had a couple of visits to her apartment. I visited her at least every other day for months and was exhausted with continuing to be her support system.  I assisted when she returned to her apartment.  She had caregivers but I was involved with all decision-making, her insurance paperwork, updating reports for family and communication with agencies involved with her care.  I is difficult to imagine being responsible for someone else 24 hours a day.  It is a thankless, unpaid position that has very good and very difficult moments from day to day.  I have learned to be more compassionate, more patient, more caring, and more aware of my own eventual need to have caregivers.  I hope that I will appreciate any caregivers that I need to take care of me in the future.  I hope I will not be too demanding and will be a better patient because I have experience as a caregiver.  For all caregivers--I appreciate everything that you do!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life can change in an instant

A friend of mine couldn't believe it when her mother-in-law in her 70's who went into the hospital for a bladder infection and dehydration, was suddenly in a life-threatening situation.  She was given an IV and antibiotics.  Suddenly she went into a seizure and her heart stopped beating.  She was resuscitated and went into a coma.  In 24 hours she was dead.  It is always a shock when someone dies but it is especially difficult when it is totally unexpected. Life is not promised to be easy or predictable. None of us know when we will die.  Recently a 3 week old baby died in a fire. It doesn't make sense except that God has a plan and we need to have faith that he will take care of us and our loved ones and friends.  We must live our lives as if today is the last day because it may be!  Remember that God loves us!