Monthly Archives: January 2013

The lamp sellers… a story in 3 parts


sols_bluePart 1 Yesterday at the Manor

We walked into our favorite breakfast place, where literally ‘everyone knows your name’ after church.  Today as the hostess showed us to our cozy table by the windows, I noticed this sweet elderly couple cozily sitting side by side looking out happily at the restaurant, their backs facing towards the window, like teenagers on a date.

I did a double take as Dave, said “Hi  Norm and Chris”.  I really am in need of my glasses full-time, I guess, because I didn’t recognize them  They each had a giant waffle piled high with whip cream in front of each of them and told us that they were celebrating 70 years of marriage. Dave and Norm attend an early morning Bible study once a week.  I have met only met his wife, Chris, on several occasions, but her personality and joyful way of living each day of her life just bubbles over.  Norm is in his 90’s and Chris isn’t far behind him.  What has been their secret to this long and loving relationship?

Suddenly my mind drifts back in time, which sometimes is my custom.

The Lamp Sellers had the same secret and they told it to us 35 years ago.

            Part 2 Honeymoon from  _ _ _ _ !

We were on our honeymoon road trip.  Most of our friends, even back then, took honeymoons to the Dells, or Florida.  Not Dave and I, we went camping from Illinois to South Dakota,  to Wyoming, to Idaho to Colorado, to New Mexico and back home to Illinois.  We were virtually penniless, except for the wedding money that we used along the way.  I was in charge of purchasing our home away from home, a tent. I, of course, found the cheapest pup tent possible from Sport- Mart. It  literally snapped into two pieces one windy night near Mt. Rushmore. I felt  Dave’s quiet anger as he scooped up the tent and threw it in the trunk of his Dad’s car that we were borrowing for the trip.

He grumbled, “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you with our living quarters for this trip, geez, you are sooo cheap, Nancy.”  I remember thinking, I think I am just frugal and you are pretty lucky to have someone who is pretty frugal.

Later he fashioned a new tent pole out of a fallen tree limb and I smiled.  I’m so glad I married a handy person.  I was really pleased that we didn’t have to buy a whole new tent because, after all, we needed to get new brakes for Dave’s dad’s car in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   This gas station in this sleepy little ski town knew that they could charge us a pretty penny for new brakes to get over the mountains with. Note to self and Dave-  maybe he should have had his Dad’s car checked out before we took the biggest trip of our lives!

When we got to Yellowstone, Dave insisted that he could make this delicious meal for me, it was called ‘Red Flannel Hash’.  It really should have been called, Red Flannel Trash…because that is right where I put it after taking a bite.  We discovered many things about each other on this trip.

1.  I could not buy tents ever again…

2. Most of the time it would be imperative for me to be the head cook…

3.  And we should save some money occasionally, because emergencies happen !

The best one, though was this.  If you don’t have teaching jobs yet, you probably shouldn’t go on a month-long vacation during hiring season, because jobs are important so you can eat better than ‘Red Flannel Trash’.  When we got to New Mexico, Dave called back home to see if there were any calls for interviews while we were gone.  It was a miracle, three different district had called wanting interviews. So instead of turning south any further we decided to step on the gas and get home as soon as possible.

The night before we left we realized that we hadn’t gotten any souvenirs for anyone else or even ourselves.  Come to think of it though, we did have a new tent pole and new brakes,  but we decided to go to this mall in Santa Fe to see if we could find anything memorable.

Part 3 The Lamp Sellers Wisdom

That is where we met the Lamp Sellers. There was this craft fair, no offense, neither of us really have ever liked them, so we were pretty much moving quickly through the booths.  We stopped at only one booth.  Lights from these lamps that were made from logs were glowing in this booth.  Two elderly people sat, rocking in chairs facing each other.

The older man said, “Howdy, are you two newlyweds?”

We started laughing, “How could they tell, I wondered.”

Dave said, “Well, yes we are.”

The older lady said, well, I know you for sure don’t want any advice, but I’m going to tell you a secret.  You think you will never love each other more than you do on this day…right? ”

We nodded.

She said, but you will. You will love each other more and more each day for the rest of your lives.  That is our secret… but you will need to tell yourself that when the way is hard and when you need to forgive each other.

We did  buy a lamp fashioned out of a small log.  It was our remembrance of the beginning of our lives together.  Norm and Chris obviously also knew the lamp sellers secret, as they lovingly sat enjoying the day together.

The ending

“Happy anniversary” we both said to our friends.  Generous Dave asked them if we could contribute to their celebration by picking up their check.  I chucked to myself, knowing that my frugality helps him to be able to make these loving moves.  Hopefully, we can continue to be this team – 35 more years, at least !

The lamp sellers were right !

Kiss, love and go…


sols_blueLast week Friday was a big event for me at school; it was the last day for me to do ‘Kiss and go’, as we fondly call it, at our school.  It was the last day this year that I would stand at the long, winding  curb, open car doors in the morning, greet the children and tell the parents, cheerfully to ‘have a great day’.  I know it is kind of crazy to say that I will miss this morning duty.  Getting out in the fresh, frosty air clears my head despite sometimes getting a bit upset if parents stop when they need to pull forward and when they arrive late and impatient.  The other day however I noticed something very unusual.

One of the dad’s, right after I opened the car door actually said, “Goodbye son, remember I love you.”  I closed the door, watched this young boy walk towards our school door, stop and turn around to make eye contact with his dad still in the car driving around our circle.  I watched  him as he blew  a kiss in his direction.  He demonstrated ‘Kiss and go’, a visual example.  This is not why I was awestruck.  I was awestruck because it is very unusual for me to hear the words, I love you,  as parents are leaving their children every morning.  And it makes me sad.

Maybe they have excuses, like- that lady is intruding on my personal time, or I’m late for work, or I can’t stand this traffic line I’m in every day at this school.  But on this day, at this moment, I worry about it.  How many of our children do not hear these words daily in their homes?

In the aftermath of disasters in our country do you ever feel that collective sigh of  the people?  Does even the traffic flow feel different to you?  I noticed more patience and consideration in lines in the flow of the every day, after Sandy Hook, after 9/11.  It is almost like the earth has stopped spinning and we walk in other peoples’ lives momentarily. But then it all goes back to the way it was, several weeks later.  What could our world become if we all just sat in ‘time out’  just a little longer?

Many, many years back a friend of mine had an older sister that was married.  Her husband tragically died in an accident at work.  My girlfriend told me that her sister would never be the same because of what she didn’t say the morning her husband left for work. I think you know the words.

In every conversation this year, in person or on the phone,my dad has said to me before he hangs up…”luv ya, luv ya! ” I was a child who grew up in the sixties.  Back then, we didn’t usually end our conversations like that, but my dad now has caught on.  At 87 he knows that he needs to tell me this every time as we say goodbye.  He laughs as he says it, but he knows I need to hear it.

I want to rename our morning duty KISS, LOVE AND GO .  I made a new poster in honor of the name change, again I’m going to put it right by my desk.  Sometimes a small change can make a big difference!

Let it flow through me, let it flow through me. (flow is my one word this year)






sols_blue1.  I finally learned how to spell it.  For many years I spelled it Ecquador and wondered why the red underline came on the computer screen.  I finally saw a sign in the airport and I said to myself, “My, that is a new way to spell it.!”  I kind of felt the way I did when I taught longitude and latitude wrong and got caught by a parent after I sent a final test home to be signed.  hmmm…

2.  It is a very sweaty country but I still loved to sit outside and sweat. hmmm …

3.  I think there were more grillos (crickets) that flew into Emily’s car port than the whole rest of the world.  Nope, I’m not making this up and  I will be a topic for at least one other post.  hmmm…

4.  Airport security was impressive and this time no one checked our brown sugar or suggested that we were smugglers.  I don’t know if you were aware that I was checked at the airport in Costa Rica for smuggling, dare I say it, powdered sugar!  hmmm…

5.  Sand is really important to eat if you are an industrious 18 month old.  Sammie has a passion for salt and at such an early age. hmmm…

6.  You can’t ever bring our family together for an extended amount of time, without at least one blow up that always, of course, is all my fault.  (don’t get me wrong, I love my family so much, almost in a suffocating way sometimes, but is it really always my fault?)  hmmm…

7.  Nodding and smiling in conversations where you can’t communicate is an excellent tactic.  You will feel understood and people will love you and still kiss you, probably because you didn’t utter even a phrase!  (Oh, by the way, I was extremely impressed by my daughter Emily and by the way she let the Ecuadorians also speak in the conversation.  My girl has been talking a mile a minute since she was toddler.   And I was astounded by her newly acquired language skills, even though I didn’t understand any words except ‘grillos’. )  hmmm…

8.  It is hard to breathe in the Andes mountains, it’s hard to walk in the Andes mountains because it is hard to breathe.  A person probably should leave the Andes mountains because of both of these things.  Babies who can walk and run, but know how to cry shouldn’t probably go for a trip to the Andes mountains for a very, very long car ride, because it can be very sad for everyone else  that can hear.  hmmm…

9.  You can know and understand how it feels to be stared at for being different in Ecuador.  At 5 feet 10 inches I do look like a giant with ghost blonde hair.  I understand this completely because when I put my glasses on in the mornings lately, I scare myself.  hmmm…

10. To leave these loving and happy people is very difficult, and seriously we all do speak the language of love and these people have  it pouring from their souls.  We were welcomed graciously and felt like their family for the entire trip.

PS  My own family, and the wonder baby, Samantha, were difficult to let go of, again.  Oh, how I miss my sweet girls.  Here is a photo of  Dave and Sammie.  Thank the good Lord that I got to bring Dave home, what would I do without him?

Grandpa's favorite flower!

Grandpa’s favorite flower!

Just one?


sols_blueI hate when I miss important things.  I hate when I arrive late.  I hate when I can’t get to a key board in time.  We were in Ecuador for two weeks visiting my daughter, son-in-law and the most important eighteen month old in the universe, Sammie.  We traveled light for ourselves and heavy for them.  There are many things that they just can’t get, that they miss, and we brought them along in two very old and enormous suitcases.  So we  went pretty light and I was relegated to journaling long hand, while Dave kept his I-pad with his downloaded books close.  Mid-way through the trip, I started to crack.  I cried that I desperately needed to check in with my Slicing friends.

It was amazing reading about the concept of choosing a single word, for the year.  I poured over the Slices but couldn’t comment, because of the keypad on the I-Pad is so unlike my laptop that I have high anxiety when I try to use it for more than a few words.

So I gave up and started to think about my word…just one?  So for me I wanted it to be a big word that would have many definitions or a crazy enough word that I could even add to the definitions.  It would have to fit where I am at these days and where I’m going.  It needed to be relevant in my school context and personal life.  It needed to be God driven.

Drum roll…I’m singing it.

I love the sound of it….

My word is FLOW.

It ended up being a massive word.

That day I told my family about the ‘ one word thing’ and felt like I was talking to air.  The next day, however, my daughter asked about it at dinner and I felt brave enough to share my word.  I tried to put it into words, why I picked flow and I felt somewhat tongue tied and thought to myself, “I better write about this…even if it means… errr… long hand.”  Today, back at home, I opened my journal and read what I had written about in that spare bedroom that night in Ecuador.

Definition 1

Oh God, my God, earnestly I seek you.  My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1

I want this year to count for your kingdom, God. I want my life to about this word flow.  I want to be a stream of water that flows down, dripping of goodness and mercy.  I want to flow over the rocks, the hard places, with grace, fortitude and wisdom.  I want to go and flow out in a refreshing way, touching with cool puddles around the feet of the weary.  I want the flexibility of my flow to spring forth into immediate action as well as that patient flow, ever steady, winding down and meandering in the valley.

Thank you God for being ever-present in the flow, for bobbing up and down and backstroking down stream  covering me with your grace and love.

Let it flow through me… let it flow through me …

Definition 2

Simply put… ‘go with the flow’.  Stop trying to always dig your own stream bed.  Notice what is going on around you and fit in to worthy plans.  Stop trying to always make it your project, your big deal.  Encourage others in their dreams and see potential.  Compromise.

Thank you God for being ever-present in our flow in the midst of others teach me to talk less and listen harder.

Let it flow through me… let it flow through me …

Definition 3

Creative energy flow is a force that is meant to be shared with others.  Look for new ways to share your creative flowing spirit.  Take this risky business seriously and give way to the flow in all aspects of your life.  Learn to appreciate the up-side-down part of your personality.

Thank you God for creating my fingers, my toes, and help me to give thanks for making me and appreciating my creative voice.

Let it flow through me… let it flow through me …

I think I will enjoy this new experiment.  Thank you Ruth and Stacey  for suggesting that we try one word in 2013.