Monthly Archives: July 2012

my friend Bo


Do people ever say to you,

“I know someone who looks just like you !”  I’m used to hearing that especially from people who I’ve just met.

I usually respond,

“Yeah, I guess I have a rather common face because I have heard that before.”

Many, many, many years ago one of my students said,

“Miss. Olson, you look just like that commercial of that person running down the beach with your whole head braided up…you know that girl who is kind of running in slow motion?”

He was referring to that model who was deemed a perfect 10.  I forget her name, but that was the first and last time I’ve ever been compared to her.

“Vinnie Samaritano I will love you to the day I die,” I thought.

Now at 56 turning 57 I would kiss the student that would say that I look like of kind of like their mother and not their grandmother !

But I still do get that comment quite often about the ‘familiar face’.  Lately, however, I try to see if it was indeed me that they had met before.  I’ve lived in the same community for thirty-five years, gone to the same church for thirty-five years, taught and coached in eight buildings in our large school district, taught childbirth classes, YMCA classes and classes at two local universities.  Suffice it to say, ‘I’ve been around the block’ meeting people.

Last week at the mall, I was walking out of Barnes and Noble with a pile of books that I was  trying to figure out where I should hide.  I had gone in for my husband’s birthday…not mine!  As I was walking down the aisle trying to remember where I parked (this happens often lately), a small red car with two twenty somethings rolled down their window.  The blonde driver strikes up a conversation like she totally knew me.

I thought, “I better play along, because perhaps I do know her.” (see prior list for reasons why I might have)

We talked for five minutes about the summer and what they were up to.  I am a great actress I think because at the end of the conversation the blonde said, “Great to see you again, Jamie!”

I wished she had said,

“You still look like a perfect ten!”  What is it about me that I want people to think that I do know them instead of just asking,

“Hey, have we met before?”

PS I just asked my husband the name of that girl on the beach, with the braids.  It took him all of two seconds to answer, “Oh, that was Bo Derick” 🙂 she is remembered very quickly by my man of 35 summers!

Costa Rica, Em, Sam and John part 1


My trip to Costa Rica was more than just new vistas.  I needed to hug my daughter, bond with my one year old grand-daughter and laugh with my amazing son-in-law.  The last six months my daughter has been crash studying at the Spanish Language Institute in preparation for the mission field in Ecuador.  As much as I want them to what God is calling them to do with their life, the process has been really hard.  It is hard to be so many miles away when you are a person who loves to hug and snuggle .  But we had our trip to look forward to…and it was quite a trip.

I had never traveled out of the states before.  My only spanish phrase is ‘silencio por favor’.  I had never experienced drivers, motorcycles and taxis that observe none of the safety rules we take for granted here in the states.  My digestive system might never be the same.  I didn’t know faucets in other countries didn’t come with hot water.  Did you know that some bugs are about two inches long? I’ve seen on the news, but now have seen people who live in shacks with only a rusty metal roof for rain protection.  I’ve never felt stared at because of my blonde hair before; now I know how uncomfortable that can feel.  I’ve never seen gates in front of houses with curling barbed wire on the top; but now I have.

On the other hand,

I have seen a volcano’s majesty as it peers out from behind the clouds. I have witnessed Samantha’s glee as she tries to touch a toucan and points to the magical hummingbird feeding off the nectar of brilliant blossoms.  I have worshiped and praised in another language, been moved, my heart softened once again in the presence of our magnificent God.

Last night we landed…

Today we begin planning and counting down to the next time we can hug our rosy haired hummingbird.



Our soaring temperatures and lack of rain is leaving us all breathless in the midwest.  Today as we limped through the garden I noticed the leaves on our baby Rosebud tree were wrinkled; tips facing the earth.  Dave, dripping with sweat, said that they were in need of a cooling rain, hopefully lasting two full days.  We can hope, but the outlook over the next five days says no to that wish.  We continue our walk looking at the state of all the perennials.  It’s morning and I don’t even hear our cardinals singing, not a bird at any of their feeders. Even the hearty blackbirds and our chunky squirrels are in hiding, fearing the soaring sun.

On our walk, I notice a plant here and there that is thriving despite their apparent lack of water and lack of shade.  They even look cheerful to me.  Their stalks are facing upward and they are full of life and vigor.

They have resilience, I thought.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.

I think about my daughter, Kelly, arriving with her brother at age 8 to a group home in our area.  How was she able to survive this group home to foster home system?  Her brother didn’t.

I’m curious about resiliency …I know it has been studied.  So I googled and found some reasons that my sweet Kelly has survived.

To summarize some of my favorite quotes in the article:

                   When adversity is relieved and basic human needs are restored, then resilience has a chance to emerge. (Maston, 1994)

                   Kids can walk around trouble, if there is some place to walk to, and someone to walk with” (McLaughlin et al, 1994)

Just like our growing plants in the yard need Bumper Crop, insecticide, water and sun to grow; our children at home and at our schools basic needs are important.  Food, shelter, clothing, and above all…love.  Love means walking through a storm or drought with a child. Sometimes it even means absorbing some of that loss yourself.  It could mean finding a friend for a child, making a phone call when abuse is suspected, writing a cheery note and sneaking it into their school desk when they are at lunch.  It may mean considering sponsoring a child in a third world country , working at a food pantry or inviting one of your young neighbors over to make chocolate chip cookies and lemonade on a hot summer day.

Notice those children that are withering in the hot sun.

Take a risk…be that place to walk to.

The Book Thief


Three summers ago, I watched my husband devour this book on our my mom’s cottage, my favorite place in all of the world.  We were up for a few short days and he just couldn’t put it down.  I asked him about it and he said that he hadn’t been moved by a young adult novel this much in a very long time.  My husband was a former media center director at our local high school and he often took a book or two to preview for the coming year.  This particular book was a first for Marcus Zusak.  Many perhaps have read this book by this young author, but I want to tell you why it took me three years to have enough courage to read this book.  

Here is how Zusak starts The Book Thief

                    *** HERE IS A SMALL FACT***

                           You are going to die….

                       ***REACTION TO THE***

                             AFOREMENTIONED FACT

                         Does this worry you?

                              I urge you — don’t be afraid.

                              I’m nothing if not fair.

I read that lead after Dave finished the book and gasped.  A novel told from Death’s point of view?  No thank you, I wanted no one interrupting my sweet sunny day.  That day, I wanted to just chill, that day I wanted a beach novel and to ruminate on that fact that my daughter had just moved two states away, getting married in two weeks and my life would be forever changed without ‘my girl’ who taught with me in our district, who had coached with her dad and who would always cook up some new creative project or idea in her class of third graders. So no, I didn’t need the death thing, even if this novel is set in Germany during World War 2  and the main character is a foster child.  Normally, stories told about foster kids intrigue me since Kelly came into our lives six years earlier.  So three years ago, I said no thank you.

Well, I finally finished this fabulous book that had this amazing host of characters today, just two days before the anniversary of my heart attack three summers ago.

Back to the book…

…Yes, all the characters in the book do die…Death is true to his word.  And it is very strange that I picked this book up, just a few days ago and started reading it in Michigan the exact place I was three years ago.  I believe that sooner or later most human beings will wrestle with the whole notion of death at some point in their lives.

Oops, back to the book again…

This book brought me to tears in several places.  Can you remember the last time that you just outright cried at a line in a book?  For me it comes on and I’m not usually aware that it is even coming.  The part of the book that I connected with was Liesel’s foster-father and their relationship.  She calls him ‘Papa’.  He is tender with her from the beginning of the book.  He realizes that because of her mother abandoning her, she could potentially be buried for life.  He brings purpose to her life and teaches her to read.  Reading brings all of us life.

My husband Dave, from the moment, he brought Kelly to live with us knew that it was a lifetime committment.  This summer they are reading a book on leadership and discussing it together.  So when I got to this scene in the book where they are watching the Jewish people marching to their death, I was moved by this very simple sentence… Hans Huberman is such a humanitarian and he reminds me of my husband.  Here is the short scene before my eruption.  The Jewish people are marching to their death camp.

                                               Just give him five more minutes and he would surely fall into

                                              the German gutter and die.  They would all let him, and they would

                                              all watch.

                                                                                          Then,  one human.

                                                                                                 Hans Huberman.

Words, they have the power to change lives, reading them, writing them.

I am grateful to God each and every day that I learned how to read.  I am grateful that today that I’m healthy…that I have been able to see all three of my children grow into strong and healthy adults.  Thank you God, that you know I still have work to do before the sun sets on my life.

Snip snap snout, this very unusual book review is almost told out.

PS  If you haven’t read it…please give it a whirl.  I’m getting his latest book for my trip to Costa Rica to see Samantha, my first grandbaby.

And death is the ultimate equalizer…isn’t it?