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I and Thou Reflections Blog

Image Credit: Alex Levich

Thanks for visiting the I and Thou Reflections Blog!

This is where you will find messages inspired by God for you. Go ahead and browse the archives. You will find inspirational words of wisdom from a mother’s heart.

Attitude | Belonging | Change | Children | Faith | Estrangement | Gifts & Talents | Hope | Joy | Light | Love | New Beginnings | Peace | Perspective | Purge | Self | Spirit | Traditions | Wisdom

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Jill’s Journey

Reflections on Love, Travel, Marriage & Separation

a 220-page book trekking with Jill and meeting angels along the way.

…Reflections on God, Scripture, & Human Relationships

This series of 10 short books is a cross between a self-help and a daily devotional on sacred traits related to relationships.

https://www.facebook.com/IandThouReflections/

First blog post

I and Thou: The Labor of a Shell

Do you ever wonder about seashells? How they form? How critical they are to our environment? After reading a few articles, seashells are very important. They are mostly calcium with a sprinkle of protein and form from mollusks. Who knew? In fact, they are so vital that it is against the law in some countries to remove them from the ocean. When I think of a seashell, I can imagine the length of refining it took for what it became rather than how it began. And that sure sounds like labor.

A friend recently posted on lifelong labor, retirement, and the meaning of life. It was a great post – so feel free to check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/robertmullinswrites

Photo Credit: Carol Leigh, “South African Turban Shell” fineartamerica.com

I commented “life is about finding meaning and the worth of existence. The word retirement needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with refocusment (I made the word up) or, perhaps even better, refinement?

Which got me thinking about what refinement might look like. Could it possibly be the process of discovering ourselves in the bigger scheme of existence in relationship to others? If we put others first, a basic tenet of Christianity, perhaps labor would feel less like labor.

As I muddled through life, I performed an array of odd “labor.” I cut lawns, lifeguarded, and babysat so I could pay college tuition. I worked at a sporting goods store for three years too. Then, I was lucky enough to earn a college degree and start my first full-time professional job. What they didn’t teach in college was that a degree in psychology and working in education would never afford you to have any real discretionary income. But it was enough to provide food and shelter. Then, I found my knight in shining armor, or so I thought.

I had been blessed as a stay-at-home mom for nearly ten years while I raised my two boys. Most honest parents will tell you that raising kids is no picnic. But not having to dress in a corporate suit and wear heels every day was lovely. Then, I hit a rough patch of another ten years where it seemed that working was all I was doing. It sure sounded like Joseph telling the Pharoah that seven years of famine would follow seven years of abundance. (Genesis 41). I worked at a grocery store and taught pre-school to pay bills and have food on the table. At the same time, I was trying to launch a consulting firm. I did manage (by the grace of God) to pick up a few consulting gigs at fascinating places – and the best part? I didn’t have to wear heels. And then the money started to flow. My college degrees were finally paying off. I can’t imagine people who have to work to survive over the long haul.

During this almost penniless, having three dollars and forty-three cents to my name timeframe, I had to work with little time to refine. Yet perhaps that whole time spent piecing together four part-time gigs was part of the refining process. I certainly would not be the person I am today; had I not had the experience of being thrown down into a deep dark tunnel only to climb myself out of it with the help of others. Not that I wish that experience on anyone, but it was undoubtedly a testimony to my grit.

It took a village to support and encourage me to take a leap of faith—a leap to Arkansas, where I found peace and my tribe. And, if you are being pulled in a specific direction – take the leap of faith! I miss my tribe dearly – but I know they are all within me and part of the refining process. Kind of like the shell, taking years to form from cells, calcium, and proteins floating in the ocean. Yes, it takes a village; sometimes, it is one person, and at other times, it may be many people. What does your village look like?

If you enjoyed this please remember to Share, Like, Follow, Subscribe. (This is my “call to action” I’m supposed to include in every post. Thanks so much for your support!)❤

I and Thou: Knock, Knock

Knock, Knock

Crying out to the Lord,
Where are you, Sir?

The Lord of the universe,
Hello, anybody out there?

Crying out again to the Lord,
Why must I suffer this profound loss?

Bowing head in reverence,
Asking to change hearts and minds.

The Lord of the universe,
Where are you, Sir?

Are you listening?
Can you hear me screaming?

Anguish, hallow, pit,
Drip, drip, drip.

Insides swirling and twirling,
Lamenting, questioning – a crisis of faith
.

Don’t you care?
Where are you, Sir?

My child, you are most precious to me,
I am right here, beside you.

Go ahead and put your head on my shoulder,
It is okay to cry and be heartbroken.

And, in all of this deep despair,
A gentle voice whispers, “I love you.”

Graphic Credit: The Perseus Galaxy Cluster greatbigcanvas.com

I and Thou: Keep it Short

Short & Pithy
Let it go.
Work at it.
Establish boundaries.
Keep it light.
Have fun.
Talk it out.
Be there.
Provide space.
Stay connected.
Together is better.

Let it go…

can you really let it go? I’m not sure. We can strive to let it go, and maybe asking God for help isn’t such a bad idea.

Work at it…

to me, anything worthwhile must be earned. For two people to have a relationship, work needs to be done. Whether the person is your Team Leader at work or your spouse. All relationships require work by two people.

Establish boundaries…

you hear about boundaries quite a bit. It seems to be a buzzword of the past few decades. For instance, the Boundaries book by Dr. Townsend & Dr. Cloud. The woman takes on so many church responsibilities that she is drowning because she doesn’t know how to say “no.” It is vital to one’s sanity to establish boundaries. I don’t think anyone would argue this point. Yet, setting limits to protect oneself and not thinking of the other person’s perspective doesn’t seem right to me.

Keep it light…

life is short, and I think I am way too serious, but it is my nature, and I have to work at having fun and keeping it light. For those who have the gift of being able to keep it light – what is your secret? I’d love to know.

Have fun…

to me, this is like keeping it light. To have fun, I try to surround myself with fun people. I find that fun people tend to spread the fun. I need to find more fun people!

Talk it out…

ah! This one is good. I love to talk, and I value communication. Communication is one of my strengths, so it is second nature for me to engage in a conversation unless a conflict is mixed in because that causes me to freeze up and shut down. I feel offended and sad when someone doesn’t want to talk to me. So, now that I know this about myself, I am responsible for letting those who love me understand this. Therefore, partners need to find out how important communication is and by what means it is most valued. Since I had spent so much of my work life on the phone, the phone is not my favorite. Text messages and short emails work best for me. What works best for you?

Be there…

just showing up is essential. Either in person, through a gift, or an email. Partners need to be there. Make time. Figure out your love languages and go from there. We all communicate differently. Find out what works for you and your partner. Being there…also reminds me of having someone’s back. This “have your back” is far more critical than I had ever realized. I’m glad I know how this feels.

Provide space…

who doesn’t need space? Provide space to develop separately, as a couple, or as a work team. The tricky part is knowing when to ebb and flow. Once you find people who know how to ebb and flow with and around you, you have a great circle of friends.

Stay connected…

it really doesn’t take much to stay in touch, especially in this day in age of social media. I’m not suggesting being online eight hours a day. Perhaps treating your family, friends, and coworkers as a garden that needs watering every so often might be nice. I promise you will reap rewards that you can’t even imagine. I met a colleague who told me she reaches out to five people on LinkedIn weekly. That is what works for her.

Together is better…

in most cases, I wholeheartedly agree! Together is better when two people wish to get to know each other and want the other person in their lives. Without grievous infractions, miscommunications can be resolved through authentic introspection and the willingness to accept different thoughts from yours. People create walls around themselves and find it challenging to peek through the cracks. But, once they do, I think they will be surprised by how much love they will receive. After all, love is everything – isn’t it?

I and Thou: A Parent’s Prayer




A Parent’s Prayer

Our Creator who art above the firmament,
hallow our inner spirit.
Thy wisdom come.
Thy will be done,
on the path we walk each day.
Give peace to our sons and daughters,
and forgive us for what we did not know,
as we forgive them for what they did not know,
and lead us not into a dark tunnel of gloom,
but deliver us from the stronghold of estrangement.
For you are the Creator of all wisdom, forgiveness, love,
and acceptance forever and ever. Amen

– Ruth E. Walton

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Image Credit: Pray for You: Found on Pinterest – Artist Unknown

I and Thou: A Father’s Day Tribute

Father’s Day Tribute

Caption:  Even though I grew up with the expectation that I would have to fend for myself, I saw a rare moment when my Dad was a bit sad at letting go of his youngest little girl.

Photo Credit: Lucinda Photography

Because there are gaps in the ages of my siblings, we each have very different memories of our parents.

Dad – The Music Man

The fondest memories I have of my dad involved his love of music. He sang in the church choir for decades. Even sang solos! He also played several instruments. The sweetest picture I have embedded in my mind is him playing his mandolin for my almost 1-year-old son. My son’s face shone as he lovingly looked at his grandfather, and my dad was beaming as he played. My dad played by ear. He played the piano. The organ. The banjo. The harmonica. And the mandolin. I’m pretty sure he passed on his good singing and music talent genes to both of my sons. My oldest played trombone, and my youngest played saxophone. Each also sang in the church children’s choir for many years.

My Dad taught me some people have the gift and talent of music, and some do not.

Although I love to sing – I have been told I am in the “not gifted and talented” camp. Oh well, I still sing loudly and proudly and off-key.

Dad – The Putterer (Is that even a word?)

My father was a putterer. He puttered around the house most of the time. Except in the evenings, he would sit on the floor, lean against the couch, and watch animal shows or the World Series. He was not much of a sports guy, yet he enjoyed watching baseball and would root for the team that played the best. It was never a “this team” or “that team” sort of thing. It was what team was the most strategic and played well.

I learned from my Dad that playing the game is more important than winning or losing.

Dad – The Master Camper

Camping was my dad’s favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. It still gives me the willies. I don’t care for bugs, dirt, being dirty, or not having a bathroom nearby. Camping was not my thing. Growing up, we all endured week-long camping adventures each year. We usually didn’t go too far – my dad wanted to escape from the smog and sounds of everyday life in suburban New Jersey. So, our usual jaunts were New York state and Pennsylvania.

Before “aging” out of this family ritual, our last adventures were in a campground named Scot Run in PA. A few years ago, I visited the campground, and even though it was now a “members only” sort of place, the kind lady allowed me to drive around for posterity’s sake.

My Dad taught me how camping is for some people, not others, and definitely not for me!

Dad – The Peacemaker

Peace, at all costs, was the name of the game growing up. If we were mad or angry, we had to keep it to ourselves. No loud voices, no yelling, no calling names. Simple rules. Maybe not so simple. In adulthood, I learned that sweeping emotions under the rug is not the way to go.

Growing up in this peace-at-all-cost mentality did not prepare me for real people who get angry and yell.

It took me years to figure out that conflict can be helpful. Who knew?

Dad – The Chef

Last month, I promised to fill you in on my dad’s role as Chef when he retired. When he retired, he took over the meal prep and execution and was surprisingly creative. He would go into the cupboards, see what was there and work with whatever he could find. Rice Krispies? Sure – he would throw them in a stew or use them as batter for fish. Nuts? Sure – we can throw them in too! Cheerios? Sure – Mash them with potatoes. Spices? If he didn’t know which one – he would use them all. Most of the time, the meals were tasty and colorful, unlike my mom’s typically gray and overcooked meals.

My Dad’s culinary skills brushed off on me and he taught me to experiment and not be afraid of mixing odd ingredients.

In my cooking, I try to balance the plate through color. For example, orange, green, blue, and red would be sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, apples, and fish or chicken. Just the other day, I used cornflakes as a batter for fish.

Dad – The Pie Maker

Now onto pie-making. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, and lemon meringue pie. Since my dad was the baker of the house, the holidays were filled with various yummy homemade pies, and he also would make the obligatory Fruit Cake each year. Seriously – my dad was a great pie maker. Fruit cake? Not so much! I learned that pie-making requires a skill set that I don’t have. Baking neither. And that’s okay – I’ll stick to gourmet cooking! By the way, Sprouts has the best vegan cupcakes!

Dad – The Tool Man

Dad had an elaborate workbench and toolset in the basement. He could bend the aluminum. Use a vice, cut wood with an electric sander, paint a door on horses, and use his power tools, including a drill press. He seemed to have lots of tools and knew how to use them for odd jobs around the house. He was the consummate jack of all trades – handyman and overall jerry rigger. Why spend money on a specific item for a particular purpose when you can make one yourself and have to go buy parts that were more expensive than the item you needed anyway?

Growing up with a fixer Dad, I learned to hire professionals who are experts in their field.

Dad – The Consummate Driver

Drive to the comfort of your passenger was my father’s mantra. When he was driving, which was most of the time, he would routinely ask if you were comfortable. Which seems to be a bit comical because we didn’t have air conditioning, and he didn’t like the windows opened because he might get a draft leading to a stiff neck. Hmm.

Like my Dad, I ask my passengers if they are comfortable as well. 

Speaking of driving, I remember my sister driving (my dad’s car) and hitting a guard rail in a rainstorm because the tires were threadbare. This incident taught me to maintain my vehicle regularly by scheduling maintenance visits with the car dealer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations because they are the experts!

When driving, if my dad saw a person he knew walking on the street, he would pull over, roll down his window, and ask if they would like a ride. He would say,

 “God gave me this car, and I need to offer rides to others who don’t have one.” It was a nice gesture. I’m not sure if anyone ever took him up on his offers.

Dad – The Christian Guy

My dad had quite a black-and-white view of Christianity. You were either “in” or “out.” There was no room for any gray areas. He grew up Presbyterian and somewhere along the way figured out it was not “Christian enough.” In his early years of marriage, he, my mom, and my older brother attended a church, and when they moved, they attended another similar “fire and brimstone” church. The second minister seemed to have filled their minds with an orthodox type of belief. No playing cards. No dancing. No make-up. No alcohol. If you did not believe 100% the way they did – you were not worthy and doomed to hell. When my brother was a teenager, he started attending a non-denominational church with much more lenient views much closer to home. That very same non-denominational church is the church I grew up in.

A sandwich, an apple, and a bible in a lunchbox. This is what he brought to work each day. He used his lunch hour for a “devotion” time where he would read and pray. He believed the bible’s every word as gospel, even the parts that make no logical sense. It certainly would have been interesting to witness his life at the turn of the new century. He left this earth in 1994. His steadfastness is what impacted me the most.

I learned that faith is an everyday affair, and I am truly grateful for the love of God that my Dad instilled in me.

Dad – The Blue-Collar Worker

My father was a typical father of the ’60s and ’70s. He was a blue-collar worker and worked hard for an honest day’s pay. He had quirky theology both about religion and labor unions. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense to me since he was never a member of anything. He would probably say he was a member of God’s army. And that was all. He was not an official church member – although he attended more regularly than any member ever could. He would not join the labor union, the Masons, or any other organized structure. Not sure where any of this thinking came from – I’m assuming God, of course! I also believe he would have been much happier being a priest or a monk. 

Father’s Day is a day to honor all the dads who worked hard to support their families, trying their darndest.

Dads are not perfect.

Not my dad.

Not his dad.

And certainly not my children’s dad.

Today, I honor my dad. The father of four children – each one with significantly different perspectives.

(or, maybe not so much?)

He was by no means perfect. He was not the warm and fuzzy type. And I know he did the best he could and made the best decisions for himself and his family at the time. I wish I had been closer to my dad even though we were cut from different cloths.

So, go ahead. Call YOUR father and wish him a

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

One day, he might not be on this earth to pick up the phone.

Call to Action: Share, Like, Follow, Comment. I would love to know what you learned from your father.