Archives for June 2017

My Left Leg (Part 1)

It was June 9th, T-7 days until our big out-of-state move as I played what would become my final Friday tennis match at my favorite sport spot on earth, the club two blocks from our home, just hours before my going-away luncheon with my precious peeps. Corinne and I were holding our own against a badass doubles duo and I wasn’t going to let a point get away on my watch. I hate losing. And I didn’t want to let Corinne down; she’s the kind of gal who makes you want to fight to the finish. I planned to leave it all on the court that morning…

Suddenly and unexpectedly, two sets in as I went for a ball, I fell to the ground. It was as if time were suspended as I watched (and felt, very clearly) in slow-mo as the full weight of ‘me’ came crashing down upon my right foot. The first thought that entered my mind was that 4-letter word itself…M-O-V-E. Ugh. Bad timing.

All the mothering instincts of 11 women on three adjacent courts converged around me in a mili-second with offers to wrap, wince, ice, massage, give Advil, advice, rub Icey-hot, commiserate, and drive me to the nearest Urgent Care. I writhed in pain like a wounded animal, uttering guttural sounds and clearly instructing them not to even think about touching me. I knew it was only a bad sprain (call me Dr. Denise) and, once the intensity subsided, I insisted on dramatic photo-ops and a “YES! the party WILL GO ON! Don’t even consider taking me to ER!”








Thus began my truly bittersweet journey on one leg, as I hopped, groaned, iced, cried and crutched my way up and down stairs, through hallways and into the dark recesses of my mind, at moments entering into brief mental madness over my suddenly out-of-control impending move, continuing to ‘sort of’ attempt to pack up the house and deal with my new status of handicapped. My husband assured me I had a full week to recover, no worries, I’d be good-to-go!
I didn’t believe it for a minute; my body was telling me an entirely different story. And this time, I was right.

Two bones were broken and this gal – the indefatigable, ever-productive, constantly thinking, doing, moving, and yes, a little ‘loco-in-motion,’ obsessive compulsive, over-achieving ‘can-do’ chick got sat down on her butt until further notice.

My left leg soon became my best friend, and my M.O. was abruptly adjusted.
And next time, I’mma share some nuggets of gold I’m mining during this awkward season. Stay tuned and along the way, please chime in about YOUR difficult journey – I’d love to hear from YOU! (Click here for the next installment, Prisoner In a Minute)


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Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

The Florida Gators and Louisiana Tigers will be battling it out tonight at TD Ameritrade Park stadium for what could be the final game of the College World Series (click HERE for the latest updates!).

If you’re an avid baseball fan, chances are you’ve heard of the CWS. It’s been a highlight every summer in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, as far back as I can remember and just keeps growing, set to break the 2015 attendance records of over 353K this season. It’s baseball at it’s very best…and it also happens to be an especially fond memory for Yours Truly.

Funny how life plays out. Each year a drawing was held in the Omaha area for young men to serve as batboys for the participating college teams. Suddenly in 1972, the contest opened up to girls and I won the drawing. We received all sorts of goodies and our pictures were in the newspaper. It was pretty exciting for a 12 year-old girl, even though I didn’t know much about baseball. I did play softball in 6th grade for a team called the Penguins. Yep, that was the name. We never won a single game. I told them I didn’t want to be called the Penguins, but no one would listen. I’m sure we’d have won if we’d been called the Lazers, or Aces or Pit Bulls, but Penguins? Sheesh.

As fate would have it, I was randomly assigned to the University of Southern California Trojans. I had the time of my young life. Hanging out in the dugout at the iconic ole Rosenblatt Stadium most every day during the Series, watching all the activity behind the scenes, (hearing new and exciting words every single day LOL), and having a close-up view to all the action was a pretty big deal. 

I took a bag of 100 pieces of bubble gum with me each time I showed for batgirl duty and immediately became quite popular. 🙂  I nixed the formal white, stuffy polyester uniform I was provided and embroidered TroGans in gold on the back pocket of my maroon cut-off shorts to wear, instead. Yep, I spelled it wrong. Totally embarrassing.

And when it was all said and done, the Trojans won the whole series. I even got to attend the celebratory party. I thought I was famous. ☺ Several of the players and staff became my pen pals for awhile.

One of the pitchers, Pete Redfern (click here to read about Pete!) , gave me his game hat. That was a serious gift. I kept it safe and hauled it all over the country for over 3 decades in a box of memorabilia.

Then one day, it occurred to me that perhaps he had kids of his own who would like to have it. It might mean a lot to him to have it back. It’s one thing to give your championship hat away when you’re young and single, but as a potential father, well, he might be kicking himself that he handed it off to me so many years ago.

I had my tech-saavy girls search for him on the internet. We found him and I sent it off after taking one more picture, now as a grandmother, wearing it.

Within a week, he’d written me the kindest note. As we were looking for him online, we found he’d had a tragic diving accident in the middle of his professional baseball career and was now paralyzed. He had a grown son, who’d also played baseball. He’s also got a strong faith in God and included a Bible verse in his card to me.

I guess this qualifies as ‘a story most people wouldn’t know about me.’ We all have some of those, don’t we?

(Fun Fact: shortly after my hubby and I were married in the early 80s, he sang the national anthem at the CWS. He’s always had a singing voice that could melt butter.)


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Breaking the Rules on Sunday Morning: A Soul Set Free

My tasks are lighter and accomplished with more grace and laughter when I listen to an audio book. But today I’m not laughing. I’m listening and re-listening to the same passage because it’s scrubbing my soul as I’m scouring my tub.

I grab and suds the sponge again, press, press, pressing with a fervor over every inch of the soiled surfaces, up the sides of the shower walls, in the crevices, repeat, as I listen yet again to the story of the invalid lying helpless on the ground at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem in John chapter 5. I’ve read it almost as many times as I’ve cleaned this tired ole tub and yet, I hear it this time for the first time, fresh.

And I relate.

I relate to this poor, broken, lame guy lying helpless and humiliated on the ground for 38 long years, trying to find a way to be fixed, to walk, to leap, to run absolutely free for EVER. And all the other worn out, over-taxed, underpaid imperfect sad souls who long to be free of his or her encumbrances, dark thoughts and regrets, mistakes, bad moves, oblivious moves call them what you like they just sort of linger and throb as they multiply over time. That marriage, that divorce, that wayward child, that business deal gone wrong, that purchase, that bill, that bankruptcy, that relational breakdown, that hashtag fail.
All the drinks he’s poured which filled the void for a moment but didn’t quench his real thirst. All the tries that hit that cold hard wall of life. Sigh. I feel his pain at this particular moment in time.

And I ponder my own weaknesses and needs and brokenness and long to be fixed, too. Don’t we all, in the dark of night, staring at the ceiling, asking God, try try trying so hard but seemingly stuck, sometimes, in ways that torture us?

Jesus asks him if he wants to be made well and he doesn’t just give a straight answer, but he endeavors to paint the picture of his sincere attempts to get healed….and his weary spirit speaks for the whole of the human race.

“I HAVE DONE ALL I CAN DO AND IT’S NOT WORKING. Do I want to be healed? Hell, yes, I want to be healed and where have YOU been hiding through all my pain, my humiliations, my poverty, my struggle????? You are omniscient omnipresent OMNI EVERYTHING SO WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME SUCH A RIDICULOUS QUESTION???? S.O.S. like times a million, is that enough to convince you? YES! YES! YES! today would be a nice day for it. I’m IN!”

Squeeze, suds, scrub scrub scrub….sometimes we can’t get the surface clean enough or is it just therapeutic repetition?! Rinse, polish. Sigh. Glistening. Welcoming the next patron at the Mira B & B.

I move on to the floor, sweeping and washing, on hands and kneepads, pondering how so much of life is quiet, humble, low, exhausting toil for the joy set before us. And when I exit, admiring my beautifully rolled TJ Maxx fingertip cloths and freshly laundered towels and rugs, I smile inside with a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Hard work is good.

And it was a Sabbath that day and Jesus wasn’t supposed to be working on the Sabbath but he healed him anyway, told him to pick up and carry his mat and “go” and he took crap for it because he broke the religious rules yet again, one more reason I love Him…and as I clean on this Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. when all my adult life since the age of 17 on pretty much every Sunday morning of my existence I would normally be planning and prepping and primping for church meetings, lists of responsibilities in hand, nursery workers phoned, corralling my five sons into the van to get the buildings unlocked early and tidied for the crowd about to converge…

But on this modern ‘Sabbath Day’ instead of preparing communion trays for crowds, I’m breaking the rules and communing with Him, alone, as I prepare for one special guest so dear to my heart to arrive; instead of washing feet at an altar in a building called ‘church,’ I’m washing toilets and sinks and sheets and in my heart I know it is every bit as holy as my former Sunday morning activities.

I’ve heard his voice and I pick up my mat and I go, changed yet again, more whole and more free.

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Don’t (entirely) Waste Your Summer.

When I was raising my kids, it was important to me to be intentional and aware of how our days were spent, even on summer break. That didn’t mean Sargeant Slaughter woke up the crew with a whistle at 6 a.m. on those Dog Days of Summer, but it did mean generally evaluating what we were doing with our time.

I’m a paper-list person so I kept a simple, cheap spiral notebook handy and I would make brief notes each day of what had taken place so I could scan and review and adjust if I felt we needed more balance. Nothing fancy, just for instance: June 20, 1996 boys helped me make a big breakfast – boys changed their sheets – boys wrote thank-you notes to grandparents – boys read for an hour after lunch – at the pool with the Smiths all afternoon – movie and popcorn – Daddy read Little House on the Prairie to us at bedtime etc. I’m also a save-that-memory freak, so I still have those journals. Hashtag paper tiger. 🙂

With a houseful of busy boys I wanted to be sure I wasn’t wasting our entire summer break frittering away the days zoning out on movies, video games, laziness of mind, body and spirit. I believe those blocks of ‘wasting time’ are valuable alternated with more thoughtful productive periods. Life is a constant learning process, whether the kids are watching a hummingbird for 10 minutes, building Legos, sweeping floors, chopping onions, swimming or digging tunnels out back with friends. I was never big on endless video game time; in my mind it was much more enjoyable and effective as a measured activity.

All that to say reading was always a key part of our lives. Reading all sorts of content; history, biographies, nature articles, animal stories, fiction, historical fiction, comedy stories were a constant in our boys’ growing up years and most always a habit first thing in the morning for a few minutes and after lunch so everyone could have some quiet time, thus Mom could also have some alone time.

I credit the habit of reading as a key ingredient in the building of the Mira boys and developing our family culture. Reading served us well and still does.

I recently began reading our 7 year-old granddaughter a favorite series of her father, the Exitorn Adventures, book 1 Brill and the Dragators by Peggy Downing. Once we began, she begged me to read another chapter each day and I love that! It will prove to be a pause of very special time for us throughout the summer and fall. 

Do YOU read?? What solid, valuable, real books are you reading? R-e-a-d seems to be a four-letter word that incites yaawwwwwwwwns because of either bad experiences or ignorance about what is available to the reader and HOW MUCH FREAKING ENJOYMENT IT BRINGS when you find the right book. If you’ve found reading to be a big fat bore, please don’t give up, please don’t settle for your past experience of reading. Much of what the world offers is CRAP. Yep. (And, P.S., audio books are changing my life by the way!)

This one (pictured at the top) The Wright Brothers,  the story of two American brothers, Orville and Wilbur, inventors and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful airplane (on a dime btw), is my current fav. It’s blowing my mind, changing my life, lifting me higher, fixing my gaze, teaching me more than I can comprehend, entertaining me to the point of outrageous LOUD laughter, carrying me on my bicycle rides throughout the city with joviality and, yes, tears all at the same time – the neighbors could be calling the cops as I fly by bahahahaha…David McCullough is a history author with no equal and I only wish he could live to be 1000 so that we could continue to expect his brilliant volumes to be released, for he is what I consider an expert and epic ‘documentor of history’ rather than a re-writer with a slanted view of history. He happens to be the narrator of this particular volume on the audio version of The Wright Brothers, and that makes this story even more precious! (My wholehearted secret wish would be for him to write the story of the Transcontinental Railroad that stretched from both my hometowns of Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California)….happy summer reading to you and yours!

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    We Were Made to Dream

    I’m dreaming again. (It seems I’ve always got a dream in the hopper.)

    We all have dreams, and dreams are worth the investment it takes to get us there. If the dream is in your heart, you will find the time and the resources necessary, somehow, some way to move yourself forward to the goal.

    I didn’t say we all have ‘wishes’ because wishes aren’t necessarily the same as dreams. Wishes can be fleeting fits of fancy…”oh, I wish I had an In ‘n Out burger, oh, I wish I were sitting on a beach, oh, I wish I had more money,” but a DREAM is seeded deeply within your heart and gut and spirit, driving you daily, driving you CRAZY until you achieve it, compelling you to choose between this or that, urging you forward to make the sacrifice, do the research, find the money, skip the excessive Facebook time, turn off the phone, sweat, and give yourself to it, whatever it takes.

    I’ve been digging through and organizing boxes full of files. I’m a save-that-memory freak, and as I bump into particular documents and photos, I’m reminded of my journey, my race, my battle to WIN the past three-plus decades! I’m reminded of the dreams, the sacrifices, the commitments that were worth every ounce of my strength and every hour of my day to get me and my family where I saw us going.

    What I’ve found to be true, is this…

    When you’re in the process of pursuit, you don’t often have the benefit of personal trainers, life coaches, money rolling in or fans cheering you on. You may not even have goosebumps.

    It is mostly just YOU.

    Your quiet faith.

    Your silent, burning, dream. And if you’re lucky, someone walking with you who shares your dream.

    Just because you walk alone, doesn’t mean your dream is not legitimate or worthwhile. Your dream is your dream, after all.
    Don’t stop dreaming.
    Dream big, but start small.

    [Oh, and don’t forget the jeering voices of doubt. Silent, imagined, or real. They will always be there if you have a worthy dream.]

    Until next time, keep the dream alive!

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