I and Thou: You Are Worthy!

You Are Worthy!

You are worthy of unconditional love.
You are worthy of self-identity.
You are worthy of self-esteem.
You are worthy of self-confidence.
You are worthy of clarity.
You are worthy of independence.
You are worthy of connection.
You are worthy of friendships.
You are worthy of parental love.
You are worthy of motherly love.
You are worthy of fatherly love.
You are worthy of spiritual love.
You are worthy of protection.
You are worthy to live in peace and not fear.
You are worthy of loving communication.
You are worthy of kind words.
You are worthy of unconditional love.
You are worthy of love from a child…

And so am I.

Image Credit: https://test.adultchildren.org/literature/aca-is/

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I and Thou: Guitars, Sand, Surf & Kids

Guitars, Sand, Surf

Nursery school, pre-school, kindergarten,
Playing dress-up, building blocks, and learning to read.
Kids Kamp, pre-cherub, t-ball,
Singing, crafting, and swinging a bat.
Mothers loving arms cradle.

First grade, second grade, third grade,
Reading, writing, and more writing.
Cub scouts, choir, Tai Kwon Do,
Pinewood derbies, musicals, and orange belts.
Mothers loving arms cuddle.

Fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade,
Science conventions, school plays, and cell phones.
Bike parades, circus tents, fireworks,
Summers swimming in lakes and pools.
Mothers loving arms snuggle.

Seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade,
Smart mouths spewing bratty words.
Clarinets, guitars, trombones,
Sitting on stage and playing so proudly.
Mothers loving arms grow weary.

Tenth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade,
Internalizing questions not ready to ask.
Tennis lessons, football, and lacrosse,
Scoring a touchdown, goal, or 15-love.
Mothers loving arms start separating.

Red robe, mortar, tassel,
Processing to pomp and circumstance.
Protecting, guiding, parental role,
Unfair situation hoisted upon.
Mothers loving arms feel empty.

Glimpses, shadows, silence,
Gradually disappearing from plain view.
Suitcase, car, gasoline,
Interstate highways across the country.
Mothers loving arms love from afar.

Apartment, condo, house,
No known address to be found.
Sand, pebbles, white beaches,
Relocation destination miles and miles due west.
…Mothers loving arms feel forgotten.

Surfing, kayaking, lifeguarding,
Commanding waters to abide.
Instructing, directing, tutoring,
Strategically working to earn a degree.
…Mothers loving arms feel so helpless.

Black robe, mortar, royal blue sash,
Graduating livestream with purple Lai.
Congratulating, celebrating, handshaking,
Proud parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Mothers loving arms clap so loudly.

Holidays, birthdays, special events,
A seat empty and waiting to be filled.
Cheering, shouting, echoing,
Come back, come back. We miss you so.
Mothers loving arms open wide.

Doors open, gifts waiting, keeping watch,
All hands-on deck for arrival.
Excitedly, gathering, anticipating,
Patiently waiting for return.
Mothers loving arms extend further.

Harry Potter, Pokemon, laser tag,
Birthdays celebrated in movie theaters and fun places.
Red belt, brown belt, black belt,
Memories of yesteryear.
…Mothers loving arms holding a camera to commemorate occasions.

Living, accepting, healing,
Life is rapidly speeding by.
Glorious, celebration, awaits,
Slaughter the chocolate-covered insects.
Mothers loving arms embrace once again.

Artist Credit: Lonely Guy on Sea Coast by Mykola Nisolovskyi (royalty-free)

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I and Thou – The Veggie Box

Logistics, Farmer’s Markets, Veggie Box

My younger son recently graduated from college and landed his first full-time job and apartment. Looking back, I wonder what role I played in his stick-to-itiveness attitude toward setting and, more importantly, achieving goals. It doesn’t really come as a surprise to me that he specializes in logistics. One of my favorite books was Cheaper by the Dozen, a tall telltale of time management. Time management and logistics? Hmm. I think these two are interdependent on one another. What do you think?

Goals are great if you can actually meet them. One of my goals is to eat healthily. Eating healthy has been a part of my life, except for the few years before and after college when I lived on fast food. In high school, I was on the track team. To keep up with all the practices and meets, my go-to smoothie was banana, orange juice, peanut butter, and a raw egg several times a week for an extra immune boost. I know, raw egg! I often wonder if this is why I am now allergic to eggs? My son likes to eat healthily now, too but did not when he would eat mostly macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, pizza, and cheese balls. 

Rural Arkansas taught me to appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables more than I already had. It was disappointing to peruse the local farmer’s market as they offered very little fruit or vegetables. Except, of course, at the peach festival in July, but only if they had a good yield. 

It was there, in rural Arkansas, in a large blue box store, that I saw for the very first time how customers placed their 12 packs of sodas and blue-colored electrolyte water bottles on the rim of their shopping carts. Mind you, most of these customers were overweight and had cookies, cakes, and lots of boxed foods in their carts. What happened to small-town good food? I was beginning to wonder. It just so happened I did survive living there, although I’m pretty sure it caused havoc on my digestive system; the mold, from a dining hall water leak, in my office wasn’t helping matters either. 

Artwork: Apples by Bob Orsillo

It is now my son’s turn to live in a rural town and find foods that make him sparkle. Recently, he discovered the veggie box! He drives once a week to a farm and picks up a box of assorted veggies. The mystery of not knowing what is in the box makes it fun! I absolutely love when he calls to tell me about his box. The best part? We chat about what meal options he can create with said veggies. Sometimes, he takes me to the grocery store (by phone). The funniest part? He’ll ask me where an item might be, and I’ll say – it’s next to so and so – and there it will be and says to me, “How did you know that?”

Because sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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I and Thou: Forgive Me

Art Credit: A Forgiving Heart by Fania Simon

Forgive Me

Forgive my crushed spirit.
Forgive my loving eyes.
Forgive my hurtful words.
Forgive my lack of attention.
Forgive my different wavelengths.
Forgive my trivial treasures.
Forgive my unmet expectations.
Forgive my passing judgments.
Forgive my lengthy inaction.
Forgive my jealous thoughts.
Forgive my coveting of others.
Forgive my impatience.
Forgive my open wounds.
Forgive my sweet gaze.

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?

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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 Mother’s Day Tribute

Mother’s Day Tribute

Photo Credit: Bob Walton

Caption: My Mother and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but every once in a while, we did!

Because there are gaps in the ages of my siblings, we each have very different memories of our parents – especially our mother!

The fondest memories of my mom were the daily emails through AOL Prodigy (way before social media), in the middle of the night in my early thirties, after giving birth to my first newborn son. My mother was right on the other side of the computer or the phone. As a new mom, I had loads of questions, and I just needed someone to talk to. Any time.

Night or Day.

Faithful.

Loyal.

Kind.

Loving.

I used to keep those emails in a big black binder. I sure wish I had them now.

My mom taught me the importance of two-way communication.

Growing up, my mother happily went along with whatever “career” I was pursuing at the time. She did not lead me in any one direction – in fact, I felt like a fish out of water several times. I wanted to be a missionary. Then, an accountant, physical therapist, public relations specialist, and then a human resources administrator. My mother accepted me for who I was, except, of course, my hair. She did not like how I did my hair – no matter how I styled it. But that was okay – I learned to ignore it.

My mom taught me to love myself and my hair no matter what people say. (Especially her!)


I also remember not-so-great things. One time, Mom said I could not have a Jewish person for my best friend. That was when I was five years old. Then, a few years later, maybe 10 years old, she said I could not have a Catholic girl for my best friend. At the time, I couldn’t really argue with her, but something inside of me thought it was pretty odd.

My mom taught me that her Christianity was flawed. Love one another, but only those who look like us and believe like us – I didn’t buy it.


I began to realize then that religion and faith were very different. Were we really reading the same Bible? Were we really attending the same Church? It was so strange that my family seemed so different from the other families who attended our non-denominational Church. Anyway, I am grateful that my mother raised me in faith and supported my faith walk even though she always tried to convert me to her way of thinking. Toward the end of her life, she became more accepting and even supported my nieces who had gay friends. That was an enormous change in mindset for my mom, and for that, I am grateful.

My mom taught me that wisdom is truly gained as we age.


My mother and father dragged us to Church, kicking and screaming each Sunday. It was miserable. But, sometimes, I actually liked going to Church. I remember in 7th grade getting up at 6 a.m. in the morning to attend a bible study at 7:00 a.m. in the summer. My parents supported anything “Christian,” except a car ride at 7:00 a.m., so – off I went and rode my bike to Church.

My mom taught me perseverance.


Growing up – our meals were primarily gray. My mother was the type of mother who tried to cook but wasn’t any good at it. She seemed to love using a pressure cooker where the round steel top would blow off every once in a while, causing quite an explosion. Once my dad retired, he because the Chef of the house – and boy, was he ever creative! I laughed. It was funny. (I promise to fill you in next month for Father’s Day.)

My mother’s hatred of cooking taught me to fall in love with it and led me to experiment and be colorful and creative when cooking.


Another virtue that I admired in my mother was her encouragement of my physical activity. It would seem quite normal for most people, but you didn’t know my mom. She hated physical activity. She once told me how she hated the gym when she went to high school. I loved it.

I’m really grateful that my mom supported my running track in high school and my first two years in college.

Ah, high school. My mother did not really push me at all academically. In fact, she didn’t want me to work as hard as my older sister did. In a weird way, I felt as though she favored my sister over me. Again, mothers are not perfect. I could never compete with my sister, who seemed to be the most intelligent person in the whole wide world, and that was okay. God makes us all different and unique.

I learned that I had to work really hard to earn my grades. It did not come naturally to me at all. My mom taught me how to motivate myself.

I remember riding my bike everywhere. Even on Route 46 from Clifton to Totowa. Looking back, I was quite a risk-taker. Danger didn’t compute with me at all – probably because I had a deep faith realizing that when my ticket was up – it was up – no matter what I did or didn’t do. I learned to trust God and PRAY when crossing significant highways on a purple bicycle I bought myself.

Mother’s Day is a day to honor all the moms who have nurtured a child or spent time trying their darndest.

Moms are not perfect.

Not my mom.

Not her mom.

And, certainly not ME!

Today, I honor my mom. The mother of four children – each child seemingly having a different mother. She was by no means perfect. And I know she did the best she could and made the best decisions for her and her family at the time. She was a constant in my life. The good and the bad. She was my confidant. She was the one I called at 2:00 a.m. when I just felt overwhelmed as a new mom myself.

So, go ahead. Call YOUR mother and wish her a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

One day, she might not be on this earth to answer your call.

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