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.

I and Thou: Happy Passover!

Image credit: wearehebrew.com

     17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this… 47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  

Luke 22:17-23 & 47-49

Thought:  In this game-changer passage, Jesus takes the annual ritual of Passover and turns it upside down.  It is here in this story; we learn that the kiss of betrayal leads to the declaration that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of Passover.   Passover is a celebration of the Angel of Death, passing over the Israelites, who had placed the blood from a sacrificial lamb upon their doorways to keep their families safe.  It is about the plagues set upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

Exodus 12:12

In Exodus 12:14, this is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. In Luke, Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, prepare the Passover meal.  Christians call this the Last Supper.  It is here that Jesus blesses the elements of Passover and creates a new covenant, thus transitioning Passover to the Last Supper.  Jesus proclaims He is the Lamb, His body – the bread and His blood – the wine.  No longer will God’s chosen people have to sacrifice a lamb for the forgiveness of sins.  Right here, Jesus is announcing his death to come, and He is the lamb sacrifice for the sins of humanity.    Thanks be to God. Happy Passover!

I and Thou: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

So, what would you do if you found out you were Irish one day?

I grew up being told I was 1/2 Dutch and 1/2 English. Black and white – clear as glass. I also remember growing up sensing that our family didn’t have anything in common with Irish people (or other people who were not like my parents.)

I also think my parents placed people and groups into stereotypical buckets. And, sadly, I probably did it to in my growing up and young adult years. But that was eons ago, and that is just how some people felt in the early to mid- 1900’s. I don’t fault them at all – they were kind, loving people for the most part!

Recently, one of my brothers did a DNA test and found out we had some Irish – which is probably making my dad roll over in his grave.

So, what did I do when I found out I had a bit of Irish in me? My first instinct was to think, “Hmm, I wonder what else my parent’s didn’t tell me…How did they not know this?” After the initial shock, I thanked God for creating the universe with diversity, making people in all colors, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. And I thanked God for good old Irish Whiskey!

Enjoy your bangers with mash and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I and Thou: Be My Valentine

Valentine’s Day – Share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 
– 1 Thessalonians 4:9

Does this scripture remind you of Valentine’s Day?

What exactly are its origins?

Have you heard about the god of Lupercus?

Well, apparently, that is how it all started. According to americancatholic.org,

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on Feb. 15.  For 800 years, the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus.  On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.1

The Catholic Roots of Valentine’s Day

Sexual companionship for an entire year may sound appealing, especially during a pandemic; yet, what happens after the year is up?

Long-lasting relationships are built on love. Love is sharing simple things in life, such as walking in the park, cooking a meal, giggling while watching a comedy, or discussing life’s spiritual mysteriousness. And, when you find love, it is like winning a lottery – every day.

During the 18th Century in England, Valentine’s Day evolved into a card and flower-giving holiday celebrating love and romance.  Maybe this holiday is an opportunity to proclaim God’s love for humankind? 

Let’s think about spreading God’s love, not by participating in the billion-dollar holiday it has become but by simply loving others. Welcome God’s love and share it with others.  This special once-a-year day reminds us to show our appreciation for one another. For partners.  For family members. For church members. For Friends.  So, embrace love. Let Valentine’s Day become an opportunity to express your love, respect, and friendship to someone in your life.

  • Human connection – speaking your love language to your Valentine helps keep the spark alive.

Action:  Send Valentine Day wishes of love and laughter to all the special people in your life.

1Guest Author, The Catholic Roots of St. Valentine’s Day.  Retrieved on November 2, 2016. .https://www.franciscan media.org/ the-catholic-roots-of-st-valentines-day/

I and Thou: Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Japanese cranes by CheetahArt on DeviantArt

God of heaven and earth, hear our prayer…

Thank you for all the abundant blessings you bestow upon us…

Ability to gaze in the eyes of a newborn.

Majestic feeling of a dolphin jumping within arms reach.

Gracefulness of a crane walking nearby.

Muscles that kayak under tunnels of deep luscious green vines.

Active minds that enjoy playing games with family and friends.

Hands that built caves in Mesa Verde thousands of years ago.

Bountiful food prepared for family dinners.

Creativity expressed through birthday-themed celebrations.

Gentle breezes felt on a boat ride.

Feeling truly loved.

Instead of falling into the hype of the holiday season, what would it look like if you took a step back and pondered what really is essential to you? Is it to mend a relationship? To spend more time with your children? Your parents? Or is it to reach out to someone less fortunate who could really use a helping hand?

Let’s focus on more simple ways of celebrating the holidays in this season of Thanksgiving. Shall we?

I and Thou: Divine Valentine

Is Valentine’s Day your favorite holiday?

It is mine!

Much of it has to do with the gratitude I have in my heart for life itself and where I am today. It is the realization that this love comes from God. Agape love is divine love – a pure love between humans and their Creator. A Christ-like love can only exist within the context of faith. An illustration of agape love is in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16
It is this agape love that lives within each of us. And, it is up to us to know what to do with it. We show others this love through simple actions. A warm smile. A hug. A thank you. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to think of how you can offer your love to others each and every day.

Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a holiday for lovers. It is so much more than that. In my mid-twenties, I was not in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day; so, my friend Wendy and I decided to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. Wendy had a friend who had a condo in Brigantine, actually an island, the city right over Atlantic City’s breezeway. The closest casino at the time was Trump’s Castle. So, off we went. I remember the inside of the casino looking majestic and castle-like. It was quite stunning. The point in this story is that Wendy and I had a great time. It was a time and place where I realized that I didn’t have to be in a romantic relationship to enjoy the love in the air on Valentine’s Day. So, for this Valentine’s Day in 2021, I wish all of you agape love. The love that will never fail. The love of our divine Creator.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I and Thou – Memorial Day

 

Today is Memorial Day. A day to remember people who have lost their lives for the sake of freedom. Yet today is different. Something seems radically different. A renewed sense of hope is emerging as the country slowly begins to open back up from the ravages of the global pandemic. Be cautious. Life is short. Every day is precious.IMG_0528

  • Take time to reflect. Pay homage to veterans. Mourn with the families of nearly 100,000 who have lost loved ones over the past few months.
  • Take time to connect. Reach out to family and loved ones with a phone call.
  • Order a surprise gift by mail. Write and send off a letter. Most of us have had our lives turned upside down.
  • Take time to enjoy. Stop and smell the flowers. Notice how many shades of yellow are in a daffodil. Count how many different trees you see in a park.
  • Take time to listen; hear the birds chirp and frogs croak. What types of sounds do you hear in the morning? Or, at night? Hear the fire snap in the fire pit. Listen to the owl hoot far off in the distance.
  • Take time to see. Watch the clouds glide by. See the stars and the leaves sway back and forth.

We mourn together as a nation. Lay aside political views. Honor those who have lost their lives in service to our county.  Let’s learn from past mistakes, so we can move forward together toward a new normal.

I and Thou – New Year…New Path

The Bible isBlog_Pic49 a living document that speaks to each person in their own unique way. It is the Holy Spirit dwelling within you who discerns the word of God. The words of God that are in your heart and mind need to direct your path. These words can profoundly influence each decision that you make in your life. For each choice, there is a wide path and a narrow path. God walks beside you on either one. You choose one over the other for many different reasons. Some go back and change their minds. Others realize the wrong path and then have to live that path until another way becomes available. God does walk alongside; yet, some do not know. Many seek God in deep distress. And that is okay. When you surrender and ask God to participate in all your decisions, life becomes more bearable, and your path will become more evident. When you stick to the principles that God has outlined in scripture, you will prosper. And, in so doing, you will experience God’s love where you are. Where ever that may be. The place that God has led you to. For now.  Wishing you a new path, full of joy and love for 2020.

Photo Credit:  Dominic Martinelli

I and Thou – New Year’s ABC’s

Happy New Year!

Blog_Pic48

Artwork Credit: David Baruch Wolk
Title: Holy Alphabet

In with the new and out with the old.

In with…

Affirmation and out with rejection.

Blessing and out with condemnation.

Calmness and out with turbulence.

Delight and out with discontent.

Endearment and out with alienation.

Friendship and out with aloofness.

Gratitude and out with thanklessness.

Harmony and out with discord.

Kindness and out with selfishness.

Improvement and out with stagnation.

Justice and out with falsehood.

Love and out with hatred.

Magnificent and out with ordinary.

Navigate and out with ignore.

Optimism and out with hopelessness.

Passion and out with indifference.

Quirky and out with conventional.

Relationship and out with estrangement.

Self-reflection and out with self-absorption

Tranquility and out with upheaval.

Understanding and out with unfeeling.

Value and out with worthlessness.

Warmth and out with coldness.

X-traordinary and out with the standard.

Yet and out with but.

Zip and out with inactivity.

In with the new and out with the old.