Monday, May 30, 2011

One Day Is Not Enough

( You paid the ultimate price.)

Did you think about your mother 
and all the love she'd shown
from the time she brought you into this world
til the day that you left home

Or did all the arguments with your dad
fill spaces in your mind
and did you finally realize
you were like him all the time

Did you long for just one more embrace
from the wife you loved so much
that pretty girl in the wedding dress
in the picture worn out from your touch

Were you angry or just full of hurt
because you were denied
the chance to see the unborn child
who filled your heart with pride

Did you hear angels singing
instead of screams of pain
as brothers fell around you
and bullets fell like rain

What was the last thing that you saw
as you left this world together
was it the blood of those who'd given all
to keep us free forever

Do you look down upon us now
hoping that we who live 
would understand you'd do it all again
if you had one more life to give

I know one holiday is not enough
to give honor and show appreciation
God reminds me with every sunrise
what you've done for our great nation

Written on the morning of Memorial Day, May 30, 2011

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Anyone you know?

I'm thinking that a person who feels the need to constantly criticize, make fun of, or put others down, really doesn't like himself/herself very much.  Combine that with any feelings they have of inferiority, guilt, resentment, regret, jealousy, envy, etc., and you will see a really unhappy and unpleasant person.  Not someone I'd want to spend a whole lot of time with; how about you, eh?  :)

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Lose You

It is "natural" and "normal" to want to love and be loved, but...

In your search for love, always remember to respect and love yourself.

In trying to satisfy your need for acceptance and belonging, remember who YOU are;
don't compromise your beliefs, values, and morals.

In loving someone and desiring to help them succeed, don't forget your own goals and dreams.

In your longing for peace, don't concede those things that are worth fighting for.

In your quest to make others happy, remember also those things that bring happiness to you.

In your desire to give all that you are and all that you have to another person, always preserve your that when you find yourself alone will remember who YOU are.

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Where's the Laughter?

I miss the sound of children playing together...laughing, sharing, even making up rules to the games they create.  I wonder what it would be like if, even for one day, everything digital or electronic would be turned off (including televisions, computers, video games, and telephones) and things like hula hoops, jump ropes, dress-up costumes, swings, sliding boards, balls, skates, bicycles, and fishing poles were made available to kids...and adults?  Would we hear the strange but pleasant sounds of silly giggles, cheerful chuckles, and  hilarious uncontrollable laughter?  Ah, I think so, and what good medicine it would be!

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Is This?!?

Suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning...they come.
Hot, wet, and salty, they flow freely and continually,
blurring my vision, making my eyes swollen and red,
causing my nose to drip profusely,
and producing a lump in my throat so large and painful that  I cannot swallow.
Uncontrollable sobs begin to shake my entire body
and I collapse onto the floor,
overcome with so much emotion
that my knees buckle and I cannot stand.
What is this?  I don't understand it!
I was fine a few moments ago,
going about my daily routine, 
not thinking about anyone or anything in particular....
and then a song comes on the radio
and its haunting melody and lyrics
bring me to this!
It forces me to face all of the things I have been keeping and hiding inside...
all the pain, the hurt, broken promises, shattered dreams...
I feel as if my heart has been ripped apart
and all that had been hidden away in the dark abyss of my soul
comes spilling out and is exposed to the light...
and within a few seconds, the truth of their effects on me has been revealed.
As difficult and painful as it is to experience,
it is in this moment I know that I am not dried up or dead...
my heart is still soft, 
and although it aches and bleeds, it still beats...
sometimes to the tune of a very sad song,
but beating and alive all the same,
with the hope of beating in time to a happier tune tomorrow.

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Path Taken

I wonder how many people have made personal life choices and decided the path their own life would take based on the misdirection and (dare I say it) lies of other people...

(© Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I've just been reviewing Randy Pausch's book, "The Last Lecture" (again) much truth and just good meaningful advice packed into a tiny book.  One thing that sticks in my mind today is his discussion about apologies.  He states that "half-hearted or insincere apologies are often worse than not apologizing at all because recipients find them insulting.  If you've done something wrong in your dealings with another person, it's as if there's an infection in your relationship.  A good apology is like an antibiotic; a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound."  

Description of two classic bad apologies: 
1)  "I'm sorry you feel hurt by what I've done."  
      Usually an insincere, feeble attempt!
2)  "I apologize for what I did, but you also need to apologize to me for what you've done."   
      You're really asking for an apology rather than giving one!

Then he goes on to say that proper apologies have three parts:  
1) "What I did was wrong."  
2) "I feel badly that I hurt you."  
3) "How do I make this better?"  

Who needs to receive a sincere, heartfelt apology from YOU today?

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

(Quotes from "The Last Lecture" by Randy Paush 2008, Hyperion, New York)

Friday, May 13, 2011


I usually relish peace and quiet...
but sometimes
is so deafening and painful
it overwhelms me...
and I stumble over
all the thoughts 
that are scattered in my weary brain...
and I cannot control 
all the feelings
that are churning inside my aching heart...

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Most of the people who knew her saw her as a quiet, good person who lived a simple life.  She was that, but so much more.  Having known her, spent time with her, and interacted with her on many occasions and under a variety of circumstances, I really came to know her very well.

She grew up in a large family in rural West Virginia.  Her family didn't have a lot of money, and she helped her parents in many ways to care for and provide for her siblings, the house, and the farm.  She was only able to finish the eighth grade in school, and this was something she always resented her parents for.  If she hadn't had to help them, she thought she would have liked to finish school and go on to become a teacher.  She knew she was smart enough.

A local man who towered over her and who was a few years older than she swept her off her feet and they were married.  It was during a difficult time when our country was at war and he was called to serve in the Navy.  She was soon left alone to care for a baby girl.  She quickly felt "trapped" again by her husband's siblings, none of whom were married, but who felt they knew what was best for her and often tried to make decisions for her.

When her husband was discharged from the service, it was another period of adjustment as she stepped back from being the decision maker and he and his brother and sisters seemed to have her and her family's lives planned out, without her having much to say about it.  Her husband got a job that was over an hour's commute each way, and she was left to care for their farm and, eventually, their four children.  Over the course of several years, she had also suffered two miscarriages that no one ever talked much about, making her surviving children's ages widespread.

Each day she was up long before dawn to begin her chores on the farm, to get her husband off to work, and her children up and ready for school.  She kept them all fed and in clean clothes that she would often mend on her treadle sewing machine or by hand, and nursed them back to health when they were sick.  She took care of the animals, the garden, and canned and prepared their food to freeze for the winter.  She had supper prepared every evening when her husband got home from work, and she kept the children quiet and entertained while he relaxed and watched a ballgame or news on television and then he went early to bed.

When her husband passed away, she felt as if her own life would end.  She was so used to him making all the financial decisions, her health seemed to be failing, and she still had a lively 16 year-old daughter at home.  But with the help of family and friends, she survived and became more independent and stronger than she had felt in years.  She was torn and tormented about having her older daughter now take in and care for her "baby", but she knew it was the best decision...she didn't want her to feel  "trapped" or deprived of opportunities in any way like she had felt throughout her life.  She got acquainted with a new physician who got her on the road to better physical health.  She was now well past 50 years old and she learned to drive for the first time so she could become more independent and self-sufficient.  

She loved her children and grandchildren, was proud of them but was never outwardly boastful or prideful.  My sons had the wonderful privilege of spending a great deal of time with her, especially during their early years.  She enjoyed having everyone come to visit and just talk while sitting around the kitchen table and eating the simple meals and desserts she had prepared.  We would often joke or laugh about what kind of food to expect, but we truly loved it and knew it would be consistently delicious, comforting, and satisfying.  Her chocolate chip cookies, raisin-filled cookies, and apple cakes are especially memorable.  I will never forget the very first time I walked into her house at about 10:30 p.m.and she greeted me warmly with a smile and a hug and a large can of her chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk.  I could tell immediately, though, that she was "sizing me up" to see if I was good enough for her baby boy.

Her love of God was quiet, steadfast, and sure, and she wanted to convey that to each one of her children.  She taught them right from wrong and stressed the values of good morals, character, reputation, and Christian principles.  She took them to church regularly and was a Sunday School teacher herself for awhile.  She read extensively and could have debated and answered most any question on biblical history, ancient archeology, and the teachings of Jesus.  I don't recall her ever missing a Bible-related question while watching and competing with the contestants on Jeopardy!

She never had the opportunity to travel far from home and, although she had many chances and invitations to travel later in her life, she refused to take advantage of them, preferring to remain close to home and the people and things that were familiar to her.  Her curiosity of faraway places and people seemed to be satisfied through reading magazines, books, and watching special television programs.

Her body language and other forms of communication often said so much more than the few words she spoke.  I quickly learned what each specific "look", tilted head, pursed lips, tensed jaw, crossed arms, muttered sounds, non-whistled whistle, and quiet rustle of a Pop-Tart or Little Debbie wrapper meant.  It seemed much easier for her to express her love and feelings in a personal card or letter than face-to-face.  She remembered birthdays and anniversaries with cards and sometimes small gifts.

It was difficult to watch this unique lady slowly fade away as poor physical health, mental decline and dementia finally began to rapidly take its toll and she could no longer care for herself or relate to those who loved her.  Some of the words that came out of her mouth were a little beyond the little four-letter "sh_ _" we were accustomed to hearing her mutter when she was really frustrated or exasperated.  We knew she couldn't help it when she didn't recognize us, but it hurt deeply.  She had run the race and fought a good fight, and we knew life with her as we knew it would soon come to an end, yet we just were not prepared at all when it happened.

Yes, Irene was a quiet, good person who lived a simple life.  But she was also intelligent, curious, quick-witted, hard-working, conservative, frugal, God-fearing, stubborn, honest, resilient, resourceful, loving, loyal, and devoted.  I learned a lot from her during the 30 years that I had the privilege of knowing her as my mother-in-law and my friend and I just wanted to take these few moments, during the month of the anniversary of her birth to say, "I love you...I miss you...and you made a difference in my life, Mom".

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It's four in the morning.  I've been up for awhile and  I'm sitting in my living room, savoring a cup of hot coffee and the total silence and peaceful stillness of the hour.  My time.  No noise, no chores, no errands, no running, no one pulling me in ten different directions at once.   Oh, how I cherish these moments of just BEING, and not doing....I know I am still alive...and I know the chaos will begin again much too soon...

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day ~ May 8, 2011

On this day devoted to mothers
I always feel so inadequate -
questioning myself 
and my "skills" at mothering.

I remember the times I was impatient,
the times I cried,
the times I raised my voice,
the times I didn't seem to have enough time.

Did I make you feel loved?
Did I tell you often enough that I love you?
Did I hug you and show you enough physical affection?
Did I give enough comfort and reassurance when it was needed?

Did I teach you enough "survival" skills?
Was I clear in my instructions on how to stay healthy,
how to treat yourself when sick or injured,
how to keep yourself, your environment, your clothes clean?

Did I listen enough
when you had questions 
or were confused
or didn't understand?

Was I successful in teaching you
that people and relationships
are much more important than material things,
and that love is the greatest force on earth?

Did I stress often enough 
that no one person is better or worse than another,
and it's okay to hate behaviors and actions
but not people?

Was I clear enough in telling you
the importance of being friendly towards everyone,
but that you need to choose wisely
those who will be your close friends and companions?

Did I teach you enough about the value and importance
of being honest and truthful,
kind and considerate,
and respectful and helpful to others?

Do you know that I love you unconditionally,
would do anything to help and protect you,
I would defend you against all
and even give my own life for you?

Do you fully understand what I've told you before - 
The things I want most for you is to be healthy and happy,
to be successful at whatever you choose to do,
and find someone who will love, honor, and cherish you?

But most of all, I pray that through my example,
and by taking you with me to Sunday School and church,
you know that there is only One who loves you more than I
and your life is complete when you follow Him.

I love you, my sons!  I am very proud of  you and I do thank God that He chose me to be your Mom!  

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Morning Prayer...

(I snapped this photo as I was going down the interstate at 70 mph)

Lord,  you are not some god I keep in my pocket
to touch for good luck
and speak to only when I need help in times of trouble
or bring out to try to convince myself that I am better than others.

You are my constant companion
day and night,
during good times and bad,
in times of celebration or mourning.

Through our daily conversations
and times of quiet reflection,
we have become so close
I can't even begin to imagine my life without You.

You are so many things to me -
My Savior, My Lord, My Father,
My King, My Rock, My Shelter,
My Strength, My Hope, My Healer. 

I am amazed by You
and the way my eyes have become Your eyes,
seeing the world you created
and all people in a whole new way.

The way you have taken my thoughts
and replaced them with Yours
is something I don't understand
but am so thankful for.

I could never have imagined
how you could take my heart
and fill it with so much love, mercy and compassion
that there would be no room for hatred, bitterness, or unforgiveness.

When others say to me
"I don't know how you do it."
I'm truly sincere when I tell them that
the words and responses are not my own, but Yours.

You've brought peace
during turbulent times in my life,
Light when there was darkness,
and Hope when all hope seemed lost.

I believe You
when you say You will never leave me nor forsake me,
and I know that as long as I walk and talk with You
I have nothing and no one to fear.

You are the Beginning and the End!
There is no other like you.
I love You, I adore You, I worship You, I praise You
for Who You Are.

Let my life be Yours.
May I see with Your eyes and hear with Your ears,
walk with Your feet, work with Your hands,
and let my voice be Your voice.

When others see me,
cover and hide my faults and imperfections
and everything that is not of You,
and just let them see You, Jesus!

All glory and honor and praise be to You, my Lord!  Amen.

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who Would Know? (for "S")

Who would know?
She, the one who always seems to be smiling...
the one whose hearty laugh is so infectious...
the one always offering others a shoulder to lean on...

Who would know?
She, who has kept so much pain buried deep inside...
early memories of feeling "never good enough"...
the object of cruelty and harsh words...

Who would know?
She would be so close to the mom and dad
whose expectations she felt she could never meet...
caring for and loving them both to their last breath on earth...

Who would know?
She, who thought she had found the love of her life...
after 30 years of dreaming, building, and living as a couple...
would be betrayed by that one person she thought she could always trust...

Who would know?
Only those who really know her...
Who catch a glimpse of a tear or the pain in her eyes...
would know that all the wounds are very slowly healing...

Who would know?
She, after all that she has gone through...
is even stronger, more confident, more loving,
and always ready to lend a hand or defend another...

Who would know?
Shelia, who is always smiling, laughing, and participating in life...
who has more friends than she's ever had before...
She knows...that with family, friends, and God, she's doing better than ever...

And she knows...she's going to make it!

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)


Regardless of the circumstances and yesterday's events, 

Today ~
     The world turns
          The sun rises
               The birds sing
                    A new day is born
     And life...

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)