You Can Dance

I love how children are so adventurous and carefree!  They never seem to be afraid, at a 
certain stage of development, of spreading their wings and flying. They will jump off the bed, regardless of how far the fall is and dance in the middle of the rain. Their rain dance is done with their face upwards to the sky so they can be certain to taste and feel the raindrops on their face and get wet all over. There is no concern over wet clothes, a potential cold the next day or God forbid, hair gone bad in the rain! 

I remember when Lee Ann Womack’s song first came out, I Hope You Dance. It was played continually. The theme of wishing your child would never lose the ability to dream and live out those dreams is something all parents have in common. The fears that inhibit this are taught and learned through aging.  Some of it, indeed, is necessary for social etiquette and some type of conformity with laws. It is not safe for kids to dance in public streets. But why, in so many adults, is this childlike quality of letting go so hard?

Living your life without abandonment takes courage. To step outside the comfort zone of others and what is expected of you takes a leap in faith in your ability to listen to your inner instincts and just be true to who you are.  But, the pay-off is tremendous, it is very liberating.  

Knowing that you only have one life to live and it could be taken at any time, sometimes you need to just dance.  Stepping up to the mike to make a statement that is controversial may make enemies but if it is your opinion and something you are passionate about, express it if you want. Those that truly care about you will appreciate your honesty. Those that don’t will leave you standing alone or despise your honesty because it does not align with their beliefs.  If you hate your job and are only doing it because it is what others expect of you, make a plan to make a change. Do it sooner rather than later. Relate to that child’s voice inside of you who once believed you were worth stepping outside of the box. 

I believe far too many of us think our dreams are fantasies.  We also, on a daily basis, prevent ourselves from being just plain silly.  The thought pattern seems to be this is immature and as adults, the concern focuses more on others think than our own inner drive.  

Perhaps, for me, that is why I am relatable to children. I don’t do this as much these past few years, since my cancer diagnosis occurred.  Those that know me will attest I have no
problem with tapping into that part of my personality, the uninhibited side. I like children to think I am a safe haven and encourage self-expression.  This is the purest form of creativity and uniqueness.  Too many people grow older and let this quality die, choosing conformity in almost every area of their life.

Being the best is not necessary to do or try something.  People sing Karaoke that can’t carry a tune.  Be that person that lets down the walls and sets an example to others of living liberated. Give yourself permission to be you and don’t get hung up on the social norm, the politically correct all the time. There needs to be moments that you can literally let your hair down and be a child again. 

At the end of the day, no matter how grown up we feel, we always are and will remain God’s children.  Hence, you have the right to dance.

Video is attached with messages about making the most out of life. Pictures are mostly of my granddaughter thru her dancing years and a few other misc. friends!  
                     CLICK HERE TO ENJOY A CUTE VIDEO 


Camp Bluebird - Land of Oz You Don't Want to Leave

Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

This is a line from the classic song, Somewhere over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz. Interesting that this movie was chosen as the theme for Camp Bluebird’s latest cancer camp the weekend of April 17th-19th.  At first glance, one might think what these two have in common.  I would argue plenty!

At the most basic level, this story-line is about Dorothy forming friendships along the way to Oz. Camp Bluebird is all about the bonding of friends over the shared experience of battling cancer.  There is a commonality of having faced death and survived to live another day.  With it comes a deeper appreciation for life and a renewed sense of love for life.

With the appearance of the Evil Witch in the story-line, we see the forces of good and bad at work. There is nothing good about Cancer. But at a Camp that is all about relaxation and good times, campers are rewarded for being alive and having survived.  The good news is St. Thomas; the sponsor of the Camp feels this event is a good way to treat cancer survivors who have been dealt bad news at some point, having heard the dreaded C word.

Through the journey of going to Oz, Dorothy meets many folks all the way. At Camp
Bluebird, continually new people are hearing of the Camp and attending. In attendance each time, are so many campers it is next to impossible to get one on one time with everyone. Thus, the weekend is always an opportunity to meet new names, and faces and engage in conversations with new folks and reacquaint with old ones.  The joy in this experience feels like coming back to a second home.

At the conclusion of this movie, as much as Dorothy loves Oz, she is homesick, wanting to return to Kansas.  Just like Dorothy, campers love the hideaway weekend of Camp Bluebird but find, come Sunday, they too miss their families and their beds at home.  Campers know red shoes aren't needed either to get home, just a simple ride in a car. And yet, when they leave it feels bittersweet. The friends at Camp they have and made feel like part of an extended family. 

One of the most beautiful parts of Camp is best put by camper, Lisa Dammont; everyone meets each other right where they are at.” There is no pulling one another this way or that, no airs or subtle put-downs for what someone does for a living, how much they make, etc.  Each bluebird is equal, on solid ground and respects each other. 

As Dorothy listened well to her companions, everyone at Camp too exercises active listening skills and offers hugs to each other as a way of showing support.  Physical touching demonstrates “I got your back.” In a world where so many are concerned only for themselves, this camp is about what one can give to another.

The hot air balloon in the Wizard of Oz is used to try to fly Dorothy home.  Unfortunately, it takes off before she has a chance to get in the bucket. At Camp, bluebirds symbolize the campers, thus they are called bluebirds.  Bluebirds had cancer or are still battling it.  The belief is that with the strength of God powering their wings, they too can fly.  Faith moves mountains so why can’t it power lives?

The yellow brick road led away from Dorothy’s house to Oz. And yet, ironically, as soon as she got there, she wanted to return home.  When bluebirds get to Camp, they feel right at home.  A place that is so peaceful and full of friends that it is cherished and valued. So, I suppose the Wizard of Oz differs here because Bluebirds feel they leave their home to come to Camp and be with their extended family.  Ah, yes, our Camp is like an Oz we love as much as our home!

And as for the bluebirds that have passed away and left this earth, never returning to Camp, we know, as surely as this line,
      Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me. 
yes indeed, they are in heaven, gazing down at us flapping their white wings in the sky. 


You Can Still Make Me Smile

A man is defined in life by what other people say about him. That is the theme of The Christmas Carol. His self opinion matters not if noone likes his character and what he professes to say about himself has no merit.  A indelible impression a man leaves with those behind is not how he lives on this world but how he makes others feel about being here, about their choices, their opportunities or lack of.   Did he try to help other people during the time God gave him to do so?  Was he someone who gave others guidance or try to make the world a better place in some small way?

I met a man years ago with one of those beer belly laughs.  You didn't have to know what he was laughing about to find the joke funny.  As soon as you heard the laughter from
across the room within your earshot,  you were  laughing too.  His smile was from ear to ear and it lit up the room!  He enjoyed making everyone happy, sincerely loved it. He was one of those rare individuals who knows life is short lived, make the most of the time you have here.  His smile has taught those around him all they need to know about life. Enjoy it immensely!

Funny how some folks, on the service, seem like they don't take much of anything in life seriously.  This friend is one of them.  I suppose some people who haven't taken time to get to know him may take it for granted that he takes life very light-heartedly. But don’t be fooled by a  jovial spirit and carefree candor. Sometimes these people can be the ones God has created that are testing us all.

Yes, these are the few that inside the smiles and twinkles in their eyes have the hearts of gold, the spirits that are kind and forgiving and the ability to care unconditionally.   They can be the ones that can carry a cross, fall down with it and laugh getting back up.  Oh, can you  be in a crowd, and keep moving forward with a grin inspite of being in emotional or physical pain?  Many of us cannot, preferring to shy away from others and certainly not offer hope when we are hurting ourselves.  But not this man, he finds some source from within to offer something to others in pain regardless of his load in life. 

There is nothing wrong with pulling away from others when you are hurting and needing to to take care of yourself. But it can be done to an extreme where isolation occurs and that is not healthy either. It is important to know when to ask for help from others also. The strong man, of devout faith, knows when to do this. My friend does.  He knows also to first go to God. 

When others would sit in sorrow as not having the freedom to walk as they would like, the luxury of being self-sufficient, he will not succumb to a disease. No, he pushes with what strength he has, he is a living example of a man with determination.   A strong man does what he needs to do sometimes to show the world you can still get out and be human even if it means riding in a scooter or being wheeled in a cart. On a bad day, he will stay in and be sorrowful and on an okay day, he will get out and soak up some sun and listen to laughter and inspire some others.  Being a man is giving yourself the permission to have humility when you need it and allowing other people in your life to give you gifts of service. It is also giving those that care about you the joy of seeing you alive, even if it is not in the full range of motion you once were. 

Many weak-hearted people want to give up when the going gets tough.  Living life at half-mast, when your limbs are not working well,  and pain becomes an everyday occurrence is jolting.  How do you transition nicely into this?  My friend is a living breathing role model of a man who has done just this with strength of character, compassion for others and love of life.

When I see him, I still see the comedian there. He finds humor in little things every day. He

even laughs at himself, his own frailty. He doesn't ask, nor does he want any sympathy. He does want, I think, understanding so as to widen the knowledge base of the health condition for others and for his family.  But as for him, he takes the good moments when he can get them. He loves and soaks up positive energy from where he can obtain it and still manages to give it off in so many ways, it is simply astounding.

No longer does my friend stand up to tell a joke. No longer does he walk in circles nor talk loudly as his voice is weaker.  But the strength he possesses as a man has grown tenfold over the years.  He doesn't stand in the center of the circle when activities are going on these days, preferring to sit on the outskirts now and simply observe as if he is on the sidelines of a football game. It is definitely teaching a lesson to many around him that enjoyment out of life can be from sitting back and soaking it in, you do not have to be actively on center stage.  

Some days I worry that my friend sees himself as weak when he is so strong.  God is using him and he is walking through the plan prepared just for him.  I imagine he is getting high
praise for it as I write this because I see all the signs there.  Even on his darkest days, he has the ability to be caring and compassionate towards others.  What a gift.  True to the first time I met him, he has retained his unmistakable quick witted sense of humor that can take you by surprise and leave you with that what did you say look on your face!

He is easier to overlook in a group than before but I pity the fool that does so. Simply because a man can't stand or shout does not mean he doesn't posses the richest gift we can gain from this world. Have you figured out yet what that is?

The truest testimony to a man is the value people around him place on his friendship and life. My friend is treasured by his family and loved ones; it is in his daughter’s eyes when she looks at him.  So apparent, the love in her eyes.  Everyone that knows him well cares about him. His jokes and laughs use to light me up. Now I get that from just being near him or hearing he is having a good day. I am, like so many other lives he touched,  forever changed.  

Dedicated to my dear friend John Petty.


National Pet Day - Salute Charley!

It is National Pet Day today.  So how could the day go by without me talking about my dog Charley?  115 lbs. of love bomb in the house. And honestly, our home, with all its charm, d├ęcor and home furnishings, would just not be the same without good ole lovable Charley in it!  He is like the child that my husband Jim and I never had together.  He is the one teenager that never rejected our love and was not afraid to ever been seen with us.  He is the one who will never go away and always want to stay except when he jumps our fence.  Funny, never had that issue with the kids!  Oh well, dogs are different even if Charley does think he is a person.

Well let’s hit on Charley’s weight.  He actually had dropped to 107 lbs. this past summer.  That occurred due to his passion for swimming in our pool in the backyard, fondly called Charley’s pool.  When he is in it, due to his size, he dominates it.  This is the case because whoever is in it, he prefers making a bee line swimming right at you.

Now labs have large paws with sharp claws, even when their nails are cut. These nails do not feel wonderful on bare skin. Hence, when in the swimming pool having Charley coming at you wanting to place them on your shoulders for leverage to stand and lick your face, it can be painful. So, it is frequent that he swims alone in the pool.

Our goal, last year at this time, was to get him off the 125 lb mark of weight.  And we did! Our vet said he wanted, one day, for us to be walking Charley and someone to stop us on the street and say “Why don’t you feed that dog?”  To date, that has never happened. We are not holding our breath for it to happen either!  Our dog likes to eat too much, what the heck is that vet thinking of! Plus, our neighbors are too nice to ever say such a thing to us.

With a rugged winter this year, there were far too many handouts of treats to Charley.This is probably why he added back on some of those unwanted unneeded pounds.  Charley is weighing in currently at 115.  Unfortunately, as soon as the pool cover 
comes off, he will be on the low treat, swim team diet.

Some of the weight gain could be attributed to depression though.  We have recently redecorated our bedroom. This entailed moving our furniture around.  Charley made it quite apparent he found this upsetting. For an entire day, he refused to come out of the walk-in closet except to eat and go outside to pee, even when he was called out.

See, in the process of moving things around, his doggie bed was moved to a new location.
No longer was it placed next to his daddy’s side of the bed or near the window where he could be like a real dog and watch the world and keep guard of the house. Now it resides at the foot of the bed, which to him, implies, he has moved down the totem pole and is a mere dog in the house.  And it does not offer nearly as good a view of the front yard which is inconceivable to him why we would mess with a good thing.

Charley use to love to jump up on our bed and spend hours on end lounging on it.   Most nights, he would sleep in bed, towards the base of the mattress. Because he has gotten older, he needs to take more of a running start to jump up and he had used steps made to get down to help lessen the blow to his legs. With the new room transition, the runway has been shortened. 

Somehow we overlooked Charley’s need for a running leap onto our bed and thus, he now finds himself often times, not even able to make it onto the bed. There is nowhere to put the steps anymore either. Thus, our beloved pet is found with his face smashed down on his doggie bed, where he feels he doesn't belong, pouting.   It is as if, in his old age, he is reverting back to childhood. And the sad part, at 115 lbs. he is too big to pick up and place on the bed also so that option is out!

We really have found Charley one of the best experiences we have had together as a couple. He has provided so many laughs. His lack of coordination has caused him to run
head on into walls, kids, our legs, and God knows what else.  We have seen Charley get kicked off of dog training classes for being so distracting when he acts up.  He has gotten me in trouble for sniffing too many other dogs’ butts.  Charley, at one time, jumped our fence and ran away so many times, the neighbors two blocks away across a busy street knew him by name.  It is as if Charley was a walking ball of drama but a story, a chapter in our life that we wouldn't trade for anything.

And perhaps that is why everyone today says Happy National Pet Day because pets truly are a joy.  If given love, discipline and respect, they are loyal, loving and friendly.  Hug your pet today, and every day!


Healthcare Providers Phone Etiquette

There seems to be a lapse in customer service these days in healthcare providers. Often times, it is not with the doctors.  I have been hearing more friends complain about office staff than physicians’ bedside manner. Infact my last experience on the phone finally gave me an insight as to why so many feel that frustration.

After following up on a visit with a provider after close to week, I had spoken with front desk personnel. I hate bothering the nursing staff if not necessary as the backlog of calls they have to handle is immense on a daily basis. If it is not health-related, I have learned it is best not to bog them down with one more call!

My question as to why I had not received a callback after close to a week.  After asking what the call was concerning, I had told her I was waiting on an appointment with a specialist they were setting up. She informed me that the delay was probably due to trying to fit me in the specialist’s schedule.

Now, as a cancer survivor who has seen countless specialists 9 surgeries on my breast and many medical conditions due to chemo side effects on my body, I am well educated on scheduling appointments with specialists, unfortunately. It is imperative to get on their schedule quickly. Doctors can get appointments into specialists quicker than lay people. And if the appointment was made and they were merely trying to get a better date, why was I not informed of, at least, the initial date the appointment was made for?

I went on to explain I needed to see this specialist timely as I was going in for a consultation.  In May I was seeing my current specialist and felt it was only fair to give a window to a new doctor before seeing my current one in case I wanted to make a switch.  She then told me very matter-of-factly that won’t happen. It takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks to see a specialist.   

At this point, I was agitated. I told her that my friend that had relayed to me following up to find out when an appointment was scheduled. I let it go thinking it was a minor issue. And then I was pretty certain she had gotten in to see the specialist quicker than 4-6 weeks. In addition, if they were waiting to call the specialist any longer, the wait would be 4-6 weeks more. Of course, she was still not admitting to the fact a call had not been placed to the specialist sticking to the original they were probably working on getting me scheduled and then going on again to tell me my expectations are unreal.

I asked her then that I was confused as to why this physician had not told me this during our visit when I had made it apparent I needed in timely and why. No response to this statement was given. I suggested she tell the doctor so as he knew since he had given me false hope.   

The receptionist proceeded to tell me with a patronizing tone that everyone knows that it takes that long to get in to see specialists. I detest the word everyone as it is not definitive in business and is a cope out.  I told her normally when a doctor schedules appointments with a specialist; it takes less time which is why they schedule the appointments. If there is that long of a lag, patients schedule the visits themselves. In those times, I would agree with her statement in general, many times.  By now, though, I am wondering if she realizes how often I deal with healthcare providers or that my son is a doctor and my daughter a Nurse Practioner. I did not just walk down the hillside from my hut.

I then ask her how she knows all this for sure as she is speaking for everyone.  To my surprise, she proceeds to me the names of two of the specialists she sees, complete with the doctors names and how long it took her to see both of them. Okay, now, on my call to find out why I have not received a call back nor an appointment yet for my specialist after a day shy of a week, it has digressed to me getting the name of two specialists of the receptionist’s, doctors I don’t know, don’t care to know, and whom validate to her that all specialists require a 4-6 week minimum waiting period to get in to see them. And through this all, she has copped and attitude and mine matches her.

It becomes obvious, by now, this is not a match made in heaven.  I tell her that perhaps I have picked the wrong healthcare provider and should make a switch. She says nothing back.  I tell her to cancel the appointment they had currently set with the specialist, giving her and the office the benefit of the doubt. I said I want her to sit on my records and as soon as I pick a new healthcare provider I will give her the name to forward my records to.  I then ask for the doctor’s email so I can send him a letter of explanation.

The next response is her telling me that information needs to go through the nurses. Apparently I am not allowed to deliver this to the doctor.  As I am explaining to her I would rather talk or message the doctor directly and why, in mid-sentence, she transfers the call. No explanation, no forewarning the call is being transferred just click - I am on the transfer line.  Realizing my health is now on hold, I recognize my wait of one week to call delayed my own health needs. I now feel the fool for waiting and leaving my other healthcare provider for this new physician. I also recognize what some friends have told me, stress can be brought on by office staff.

When I get the voice mail of the nurse, I am choking back tears of frustration. I left my message saying no appointment was needed since the delay would be too long. I also stated I would eventually move my records to another doctor’s office. I apologized to the doctor for he probably was excellent but I can’t deal with the stress of staff patronizing me and pretending to know more than I about scheduling appointments. Once I hung up, my migraine only picked up in intensity.

Later that same day, I did receive a phone call back from the office. It was from a nurse, not the doctor’s nurse though. No mention of my voice message. She simply told me an appointment time and date for the specialist. I took it down and she said nothing more, nor did I. At this point, I just decided I got the appointment and will consider seeing him but will have to keep the appointment with my current one also as it is less than a week later.

However, I followed up the very next day by calling the specialist’s office.  I asked to be placed on a call back list for any cancellations.  They, in comparison, were extremely nice on the telephone.  I then found out they keep records of when doctor’s offices call in to place appointment requests. Guess?  Yep, the doctor’s office I had been dealing with called after I had placed my call to the receptionist! After I placed the call to the original doctor’s office!

Doctors need to remember to talk to their staff, as my son does, about the importance of the person on the other end of the phone.  You have no idea what is going on with them, what degree of pain they are in and remember they are ‘your customer’.  They are the doctor’s livelihood and without them, the doctor loses business and the office workers are out of job. 

Having worked at all levels, a Director at the American Cancer Society to a sales clerk at Belks I respect all positions in an organization.  Having had cancer, also learned each role is so important. While vomiting a janitor can get you a trash can quicker than a physician so has all the power! The person answering the phone is the gate-keeper for healthcare providers and can make or break the impression created for a patient.

My thoughts are as follows:

  • ·        No one has the right to be patronizing over the telephone
  • ·        Give or get  answers when requested if a reasonable time period has lapsed
  • ·        There is no excuse for poor follow-up
  • ·        Apologize for errors and move on to rectify them
  • ·        Do not get argumentative with someone on the phone to diffuse a situation
  • ·        Maintain a positive upbeat attitude regardless of patient’s demeanor
  • ·        Be compassionate, you have no idea of the pain level of patient on the phone or conversation between physician and patient
  • ·        If unclear of proper response, take a message and don’t argue
  • ·        Don’t be rude and transfer calls without telling the caller first you are doing so
  • ·        Try to retain clients for the Doctor by satisfying their needs


I would love to hear others feedback on this topic. Feel free to make comments here or on my google+ account.


Pace Yourself

Life comes at you with rapid speed.  And it is constantly changing not allowing you the freedom easily to reflect on the decision-making process. But many of us know quick decisions are often the worst ones we make.  Impulsivity can lead to rapid fire choices with dire consequences.  Society is full of them, people that pay for not taking a few extra moments of time to think before reacting.

 Right now, Twitter is a buzz with the case of the officer in South Carolina who got trigger happy.  He took a man’s life, callously and quickly.  He was trying to arrest a man and it seems apparent, because the man attempted to run and was black, the officer pulled his gun and shot him multiple times in the back, killing him.  Right there, in the field, the man lie dying from an impulsive act with no forethought for a man’s life.  Now that officer will pay with his.

 Impulse buying is another one of those knee-jerk decisions. If it is in the store, chances are it will be there the next day or something similar. But, so many shoppers simply can’t pass it up.  In 2014, there were over 43% of American households carrying credit card debt. The average debt was $7,200.According to a report on CBSNews.com; credit card debt will hit $60 billion this year. So, the good news, I suppose is, if you are spontaneously buying things, you are not alone!

 People who suffer from ADHD, both children and adults, have issues with impulsive actions. Perhaps it is from the overall anxiety levels they experience but it is much harder for them to hold back their enthusiasm.  Children tend to be disruptive in class with sudden outbursts without thinking of others or get into trouble for talking. The adults with ADHA are impulsive as well with their emotions and with creating relationships and can cross boundary lines easier and sometimes prematurely.  These individuals don’t always realize they needed to exercise better control and pull back the reins so to speak.

 When you look at a portrait that is truly beautiful, you know the masterpiece was created over some period of time, not on a dime.  When someone whispers and sings a love song to you, that song was written by someone who took a few moments to think up a melody, a lyric and put it all together. Smelling the sounds of nature is experiencing the growth cycle of our ecosystem. Season by season, the plant system rejuvenates itself so that we might experience it again and again. 

 Most things in life that are treasured are like that, experiences and items that took more than a second in time.  In a fast paced world, it is so easy to get carried with the current!  And then, when you do, the world doesn't ever really let you know you are losing your life to quantity of decisions and not quality. The officer Michael Thomas Slager may not see the light of day again except behind prison bars in South Carolina. He may not ever hold his upcoming baby as his wife is 8 months pregnant. Was it worth it? In shooting a man in cold blood with no provocation taking no time to think, he stole 4 children’s father, Walter Scott from the earth. What was he thinking?  Was he thinking? 
There are no do-overs.  If your impulsive actions are hurtful to others, stop. 

Don’t get caught up in the pace. Your life is worth more. 


Faith Moved Full Circle in Our Family

Religion was something that was not a big part of my upbringing. But the idea of God was.  I remember as a small child seeing a picture hanging in the bedroom of a little girl praying with the prayer that began like this:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days, 
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

Because that image seemed so real, I believed there was a God. When I was born, my parents were Catholic. Dad was Italian and I was told my mother converted but it seems hard to believe. She is not what I would call the religious time, by any stretch, then or now. I assumed she did it to please my dad and to raise us in his church.

My older sister, by two and a half years, was baptized Catholic and had her first communion.  I was baptized in New York at the Catholic Church they attended in Long Island, St. Joseph’s, but never made my First Communion. By then, they had split up and Mom was out of the picture.  Our father had custody of us and we were living back in Dayton, Ohio.  My dad was disillusioned with the Catholic Church for the shoddy annulment process which was really more of a payoff procedure than one in allowing Christians forgiveness for making mistakes. He never went back to participating as a member as to do so apparently entailed paying a huge sum of money for them to look the other way. It seemed to fall in line with the times of the Church in those days.  The process is unforgiving and highly judgmental.

Upon my father’s remarriage, our new step-mother was insistent my sister Terri and I reconnect with a church. I think I recall us being considered heathens if we didn’t have any proper church upbringing or understanding of God and religion. Hence, we were dutifully dropped off every Sunday at a church, possibly a Presbyterian church in an older neighborhood not all that far from where we lived. It was odd though because there was no one there we knew, none of our school friends or neighbors so we were surrounded by strangers.  We would be in our Sunday dresses and our Dad would drop us off at the corner of the street. We would get out of the car door, walking to the building where classes were held for classes on Bible studies.  It always felt strange walking in there because so many people were streaming in there as families and here we were, just two girls walking in by ourselves.  Sometimes we caught people looking at us like we were social misfits with no parents. Or worse, they gave us looks like they should feel sorry for us and we didn't want anyone’s pity. My sister just stuck her head up higher and told me not to pay any attention.

Once the classes were over, she would meet me out front and we would go to the church next door. When church let out, we would walk outside church and go wait on the corner until our Dad arrived to pick us back up. We did this week in and week out. As we stood out there on the corner, we would watch all the families leaving church together and feel kind of sad that we were there on the corner all by ourselves.  But, the lessons we were learning by being there made it worthwhile.  Gaining an understanding of God’s love, its unending power to heal and his ability to give us strength through everything in our lives.

At some point, those church visits stopped. I can’t recall why but I missed going.  I did not miss the awkwardness though of being there alone without family or the stares from other people.  Sometimes I went to Catholic Mass with my friend Claire down the street but that service was just plain foreign to me. But it had its good points. I always learned something just by being there.

 I got another opportunity to attend church routinely when I was in fifth grade and we were living in Westerville, Ohio.  I had a friend named Susan who religiously went to church every week. So thus began my attending church regularly with her family. I would either stay overnight at her house and go with them or they would pick me up to attend.  I don’t remember their religion but it was not either of the two previous religions but it didn't matter to me, it was still God’s house and I loved being there.  I felt like I was part of a loving family where I was 100% accepted and worshiping with people who believed in God even if not exactly like me. I could tell sometimes my parents didn't think I was getting the message quite right by their comments when I would leave for church or come home but I didn't care. I still enjoyed going and kept up the routine.  God was going to remain important in my life forever.

When we moved back to Dayton two years later, I began going to church with another friend, Roseanne Moore.  When I wasn't going with her, I was attending with a friend, Cindy Thomas, or a friend Eileen. I seemed to always have a friend that I could attend church with.  It seemed to be Baptist churches, evangelists I heard speak and loved, Protestants, it really didn't matter. In some ways, I saw them all the same. I just wanted to go there, be there. I knew I had sins that needed forgiven. I knew God loved me and I wanted to feel it more intently.  Church was where that feeling came over me.  I also wanted to grow in understanding and felt like I was more in his presence sitting in a holy house.

When I found myself young, married and pregnant with baby number two, I took Catechumenate classes. Being married to a catholic, I was committed to raising our children in that faith.  I wanted to understand the faith my children were going to participate in and I did not want my children to have that experience I had of walking into a faith community alone. Thus I began the classes in the fall of 1980.  Within months, I made the decision to convert and by Easter 1981, I was confirmed catholic at the Easter Vigil Mass.

Since that day, I have never looked back or regretted my decision to become fully committed to a church. I honored my commitment to my children’s father and to the priest that baptized them and raised them in the Catholic Church throughout their childhood so they both had a foundation of faith to build a future upon.

There are many gifts you can bestow on a child.  Your love is supremely important. Education, in today’s world can make or break financial success often times. But in my mind, faith can move mountains. Belief in God can instill hope in a better tomorrow. It can make today, no matter what befalls you, grateful you are here, even if it is to feel the rain on your face, receive communion, grab or hold a loved one for that last hug. 

Seeing my son and his family evolve on their faith journey ensures my own faith journey was steps towards the path God chose for me.  It shows me the destination was pre-planned, needed and that I was walking the right way. 

Yesterday, on Easter, I once again, attended my son’s church, Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. Hearing their preacher speak, Jacob Armstrong; I was awestruck, as I am every time I hear him speak. He has the ability to cut through the stress of the day, the turmoil that certainly must be on the minds and hearts of those in attendance and seize the congregation’s attention.  He literally is one of the best speakers I have heard of late in a holy place. His passion shows in his manner, his enthusiasm for preaching is non-verbally apparent to all and his message is always powerfully delivered. It is just the right mix of scripture, knowledge and down to earth food for thought to take and incorporate into your lives to become better servants of God.

Reflecting on this later, watching my son, my daughter-in-law and my three grandchildren, I could not help but remember my years as a child in the church, what it meant to me.  Yes, as Pastor Jacob said, "years go by quickly." Then, in a blink of an eye, I was a mom, and then my son was here and I was mentoring his faith, forcing him to go to church all the while he was resistant to attend.  My goal was to give him a true understanding of God, faith and appreciate God’s unending love.  And now, at all of my son’s 36 years, to see him and his wife giving this to his children, wow!  God is perfect, He has made the circle complete. I am so humbled and thankful to The Father for making me that child who always pursued walking into churches just to sit in His house and hear His word. 

My video is actually more of a celebration of the theme of Easter of my son’s family and also dedicated to the Autism Awareness Month April 2015  Click Here to View