Five Minute Friday — Crowd

Time for Five Minute Friday!

Five Minute Friday is an opportunity to focus on a prompt word for five minutes (more or less), write a pithy (or sometimes not so pithy) post, share it with others at Kate’s place on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com and sit back and enjoy other posts from other writers. It’s an exercise that keeps your mind sharp … and introduces you to a world of thought on the prompt from the other talented participants. It’s free. It’s easy (okay, not always). It’s addictive (in a good way). You should visit and check it out or — better yet — join in the fun of expressing yourself!

I’ve been using testimonials about the group and the exercise from other members as collected in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Flat. This week it’s CharlotteAmanda. I encourage you to listen to the words and visit Kate and her wonderful corps of writers … and maybe be inspired to join in!

“For me FMF is a way to write freely. to write openly and honestly. It gives me joy. It’s a highlight f my week. It makes me think, it stretches my imagination. It fills my heart with happiness. It gives me a chance to see the point of view of others. It gives me a chance to ‘meet’ like-minded writers. FMF is a wonderful outlet for creativity.”

This week’s prompt is CROWD. The timer is set, so let’s GO …

I’m not particularly fond of crowds. I’m more of a small group, intimate crowd guy.

I get turned off at big events — even fun events. The only exception might be a professional football game, but even then, I would be just as happy chugging my beer in front of the TV screen with a small group of friends.

Church is the same way. I’ve worshiped in cathedrals and with just five or six believers. I’ve been to revivals and men’s breakfasts. I’ve witnessed publicly and over a cup of coffee. I always prefer the latter.

I recognize we’re in a “numbers” driven society. It seems the more the better, more means “success.” Numbers are real and measurable. But I often wondered when a mega-preacher reports “276 souls were saved at tonight’s service,” how many of them were actually still “saved” tomorrow. How many got caught up in the euphoria of the moment? How many lives were actually changed?

I’m sure there were some, but small groups give a better opportunity to change lives, one at a time. … STOP

… There is a time and a place for both. I just prefer small groups rather than crowds.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Make people laugh whenever possible.

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Posted in communication, crowds, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, Holy Spirit, inspiration, invitation, Life, love, message, motivation, observations, relationships, revival, small groups, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Five Minute Friday – Rain

Happy Five Minute Saturday {Friday}!

The post is {as is usually my norm} a day late, but the rules remain the same. Ponder the weekly prompt. Nothing too pithy, just honest as the words flow from the brain through the fingers. Keep it limited to five minutes {or so} with limited editing. Link at Kate’s place on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com and sit back and enjoy other posts from other writers.

In fact, I’ve been using testimonials about the group and the exercise from other members as collected in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Flat. This week’s it’s from Joanne. I encourage you to listen to the words and visit Kate and her wonderful corps of writers … and maybe be inspired to join in!

“When I started participating in the FMF linkup, I was not sure what t o expect. The idea of writing for five minutes on the same one word was intriguing, in and of itself. But the community of women [and some men] soon became a place I looked forward to each week. The FMF community has come to mean connection, encouragement, warmth, and more. Often it is in this community that I have found confirmation of the very truth God has been whispering into my heart throughout the week. FMF has become an intersection of God’s Word and friendship over my morning coffee each Friday morning. I have not yet walked away disappointed.”

When I heard this week’s prompt — RAIN — I immediately thought of the many “rain” songs I might be hearing on the drive back to Maine following a dry week in New York. There were none. No Purple Rain. No Rainy Night in Georgia. No Rhythm of the Rain. No Have You Ever Seen the Rain. Not even Singing in the Rain. No Bring the Rain or Rain/Reign. So without the drippy backdrop, you’re stuck with just plain vanilla thoughts. Nonetheless, the timer is set so it’s time to GO…

I love rain. The patter of the drops on the windows or the roof. The blip sound in the puddles. I love the smell of fresh rain. It has a cleansing effect.

Of course, too much in a short time can be problematic, but a gentle rain soothes the soul — at least mine.

I like walking in the rain as well. I am mesmerized by the ripples in the puddles … especially if I’m the one making the ripples. It’s especially refreshing on a warm summer night or day. I love watching the splash as cars hit the water. It reminds me of the ebb and flow of the ocean.

Rain comes in its season — carefully designed by the Architect. It waters the plants; it brings green to a brown landscape; it grows the fruits and vegetables. It is a necessary aspect of life.

Rainy Days and Mondays — they don’t get me down. They buoy me up.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Everyone has to start somewhere. Wherever you start, give 110%.

 

Posted in attitude, communication, entertainment, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Life, love, Maine, mobility, Music, New York, observations, rain, relationships, songs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Christopher Robin

What separates Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl from Puff the Magic Dragon?

The first eight found Christopher Robin but Jackie Paper just grew up.

Actually, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) grew up, too, but Pooh (Jim Cummings, voice),  Tigger (Jim Cummings, voice), Eeyore (Brad Garrett, voice) and Piglet (Nick Mohammed, voice) went on a journey to find their childhood friend (Orten O’Brien as the young Christopher) — all the way from the Hundred Acre Wood to downtown London, where an adult-sized Christopher apparently forgot his child-sized roots and has become immersed in his work trying to pare the books and save Winslow Luggage.

Pooh — out of honey and unable to find any of his woodland friends — is the first to go through the magical door in the beech wood tree, the place he last saw Christopher Robin. He ends up in a park and lays down for a nap. Christopher Robin conveniently sits on a bench behind him pondering his workload and bemoaning the fact he had to forego a pre-planned country weekend with his wife and daughter to work on thee work project. He hears Pooh’s voice and voila, the two are re-united.

“What to do, what to do, what to do?” says Christopher Robin.

All of a sudden he hears a voice, “What to do, indeed.”

As Christopher Robin looks behind the bench and sees Pooh, he asks, “Pooh?”

Pooh responds, “Christopher Robin!”

“NO! No, no, no, no, no! This can’t be happening! It’s stress.”

“It’s not stress, it’s Pooh.”

“Pooh. How are you here?”

“Oh, well, I went through the door through which Christopher Robin is known to appear, and now … I’m here!”

“The tree I remember was behind the cottage in the countryside, not here in London!”

“I suppose it’s where it needs to be.”

“Well, that’s a silly explanation.”

And as only Pooh can say, “Why, thank you!”

Of course, the reunion is predictable … but lovable like the characters created by a.A. Milne. Christopher Robin skirts Pooh to his flat, where Pooh discovers some honey — with some hilarious results.

As Christopher Robins tries to figure out Pooh’s problems, he remains centered on his company’s problem. But he agrees to accompany Pooh back to the Hundred Acre Wood and help him find his friends, his notes in tow.

And, of course, he does, although he finds the doorway a little more snug than he remembers.

The wildlife — Rabbit (Peter Capaldi, voice), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo, voice), Roo (Sara Sheen, voice) and Owl (Toby Jones,voice) — welcomes Christopher Robin back, although initially they think he is a dreaded Heffalump or Woozle, despite Christopher Robin’s protestation. It’s only after he “saves” them do they recognize who he is … their old friend Christopher Robin.

Eeyore is my favorite character and one exchange with Christopher Robin stands out as Eeyore is floating under a bridge with Christopher Robin watching. “Just my luck … a Heffalump … leering at his lunch.”

“Eeyore, I’m not a Heffalump.”

“Doesn’t matter, anyway. Headed for the waterfall; I’ll be gone soon.”

Christopher Robin rushes to the riverbank by the waterfall. “Oh no, not the waterfall! Swim!”

“Not that anyone will notice.”

“Swim, swim, swim!”

Eeyore crashes into a rock. “Just have to go with the — ow — flow.”

“Don’t worry.”

“I’m not. Can’t change the inevitable.”

Christopher Robin drops his briefcase and takes off his jacket. “You mustn’t give up, Eeyore, I’ll save you!”

“We’ll see.”

Christopher Robin holds his nose and jumps into the river as if to really swim underwater, although he is in only knee-deep water. “Oh yes, of course I’ve grown up one bit. Oh, Eeyore!”

As he is carried out of the water, Eeyore quips, “Laughing at my misfortune, just like a Heffalump.”

“Hello, Eeyore!”

“Hello, Heffalump.”

“I’m not a Heffalump, I’m Christopher Robin. Do you remember I used to try to cheer you up?”

“I don’t remember being cheery.”

I don’t want to spoil the plot too much. Suffice it to say, through a series of misadventures, Pooh meets Christopher Robin’s daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), who recognizes him from a drawing made by Christopher when he was young. She returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with him, and, along with Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet, embark on an expedition to save Christopher Robin by returning his “important papers” and save him from a “Woozle” (actually Winslow) who will eat him if he doesn’t turn them in.

The movie was a fun way to illustrate how we all get sidetracked sometimes, leaving our childhood in the rear view mirror as we age. It’s a lesson about remembering those memories and sharing them with our children so they can share our joy. Or as Christopher Robin’s wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) states, “We don’t care [about the future]. We want you.”

In addition, the Tigger Song was a highlight. “The wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things! / Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs! / They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun fun fun fun fun! / But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is, I’m the only one!”

And there are the comfy quotes from Pooh. “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.” “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” “What day is it?” and when Christopher Robin replies, “It’s today,” Pooh responds “My favorite day.”

It’s worth the admission … and it’s family friendly.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Read people’s name tags (even at fast food restaurants) and call people by name.

Posted in attitude, balance, children, communication, companionship, encouragement, entertainment, family, Friends, growing up, Laughter, Life, love, Memories, Movies, relationships, Review, review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Rush

Ready for this week’s Five Minute Friday adventure?

I know it’s being posted just after midnight Saturday, but the exercise was actually tackled Friday. But I had an anniversary message to attend to and I don’t like more than one post per day. I also knew I would be on the road Saturday, so writing it in Friday and holding it until the wee hours of Saturday seemed like a reasonable compromise.

Five Minute Friday is, of course, and exercise where about 100 of us in the FMF community come together to independently write on a one-word prompt — this week RUSH — post it, link it at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com then gather round to encourage and support our fellow Christian writers, each writing in their own unique style and genrs.

I’ve also been including snippets from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Cheryl, who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, encourage you to try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on the website.

“FMF has been a source of encouragement for me. I have looked forward to Thursday nights and finding out the word for the day. [It’s released on the Five Minute Friday website and at a special #fmfparty Twitter party.] Once I have the word, I mull it iver thinking about what I could possibly write. More often than not, the word has been a per3spective changer giving me a chance to think bigger abut life and my current circumstances. Not only have I been encouraged by the words of the many other FMF writers as they comment on my writing. FMF is not just about linking my posts but about being part of something much bigger.”

Well, it time to start the timer, so let’s GO …

What’s your rush?

As we wander down the path of life, we often travel at breakneck speed. Everyone seems to be in a rush. We don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses — or talk to our neighbors — or just take time for ourselves. It’s go, go, go.

Rushing isn’t going to get us at our destination any faster. In fact, often rushing makes us later because we miss cues along the way.

Our daily lives need movement. We can’t stand still. But we don’t have to rush things. Everything has an appointed time and all is received in due time. I have an Expert’s word for it.

So again, I ask, what’s your rush?

And I answer, stop and smell the roses — take time to talk to your neighbors — take time for yourself.

When you look back, times rushes by faster than you think. At some point, all you will have is the memories. It would be a shame if you missed out on them because you rushed by them.

What’s your rush? … STOP

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You’re God’s favorite.

Posted in balance, Blink of an Eye, communication, encouragement, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, Life, love, Memories, relationships, rush, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Anniversary Dreams

Almost to the moment, 50 years ago I gazed down the cavernous St. John the Baptist Cathedral aisle in Paterson, NJ, and watched a vision glide toward me. Forty years and 27 days later, I gazed down at a battered and bruised woman and watched her embark on her journey into eternity.

I’ve been pondering how I would deal with this anniversary — what would have been our 50th, our golden. While I celebrate the 40 years we had together, I am saddened by the almost 10 years I’ve had to navigate without Karen at my side. It’s been oh so bittersweet these past few months. I can’t help but reflect on the milestones we missed together — the graduations and weddings, the birth of three grandchildren and three great-granddaughters, the move to Maine, my retirement and publishing Heaven Shining Through. I’ve muddled through, but it’s just not the same.

Each year at this time I’ve shared anecdotes about our life together and the quality and value of that life, the ups and downs that spanned four decades in five states, the life we built together. But as I thought about something original to post this time around, the mind went blank. I’m spent. I can’t reach back and say anything new, anything at all. I can only stare at the bronze urn with you patiently waiting for me. There are some tears in my eyes — happy tears for the memories and sad tears for the separation.

I did, however, uncover a post from 2014 that probably serves more as a lesson. As I read it, the sequence of dreams vividly resurfaced. I remember them as if they were last night. With your permission {I’m going to do it anyway} I would like to share it with you again.

“We have to talk.”

Those are four words that bring sheer fear to every male on the planet — from the days of Adam, I suspect — to the present day. Even in a dream, those words bring chills to a sleepy spine.

Those were the words that literally haunted me after a dream about a month ago. I know they certainly contributed to my melancholic mood over the past few weeks.

It wasn’t a long dream. And, has generally been the case since Karen died, she was not visible. But her voice was very much there.

The scene unfolded in my parents’ home, which is odd because Karen and I never lived at my parents’ home. But I readily recognized the brocade styled beige carpet, the sectional and the louvered closet doors {although they were in the bedroom, not the living room … but, hey, it was a dream}.

All of a sudden, Karen’s voice clearly stated THE question. “We have to talk.”

With that I woke up, totally confused even after then nearly six years of widowerhood. It wasn’t a comment that came up often during our 40 years of marriage {although it did come up … generating the same sense of trepidation}.

Why after all these years did Karen utter these words? What was on her {my?} mind?

I immediately thought of the thousands of times I might have let her down during our marriage. I thought of the hurts and slights I can never make up for. And it weighed on my psyche.

What was even more disturbing was the abruptness of the dream. It came out of nowhere and it just ended without resolution. I just knew Karen and I had “to talk.”

A couple of weeks later, I had a series of subsequent dreams … each picking up where the last one left off. They were equally vivid … with the bonus of my dear wife appearing and interacting in dreamlife.

She was standing at the closet as she uttered her words again, “We have to talk.” She was dressed in camel brown slacks with stirrups and a pink and white check shirt as she reached into the closet. “Are you okay with this?”

“Of course,” I answered as the doorbell rang.

An unseen “counselor” stepped in and the three of us sat down, Karen and I on the couch and the counselor on the straight chair. She grabbed my hand as the counselor asked why he was here. Karen answered, “We just need to reconnect and I thought an outsider could help us.” I looked at her and shook my head in agreement.

“Okay, your assignment is to remember why you first fell in love.”

I woke up for a midnight run to the bathroom, but as I drifted back asleep we — the counselor, Karen and I — were sitting at the big, round wooden dining room table. I was the only one who spoke.

“I fell in love with you because you made me feel safe in a hostile world. I knew I could tell you anything and you weren’t going to judge me. You are beautiful, witty and wise. You are my life. I may not show it all the time but my world revolves around you. I would do anything for you.”

Karen broke into tears as the counselor interjected, “Good. Next assignment is to go out together, just the two of you, and just listen to each other. Karen, open your heart. Joe, open you heart. What has made you happy? What has bothered you? What are your dreams?”

And, I woke up.

Some people think marriage
is outmoded now,
And they don’t want to make
the commitments and vows.

The next night as I drifted to sleep, we were sitting at a table in a public place. I was holding her hand as she talked, but was more focused on her black cocktail dress, her sparkling brown eyes, the red highlights shining in her hair as the light hit it and the quirky expressions on her face as she spoke.

She asked me if I was listening. “Of course. You said you wanted to feel safe and you wanted me to listen to what you say. You wanted to feel important. You wanted to be loved, not taken advantage of. And you know I do love and respect you and your opinions.”

I woke up but thought to myself, “Nailed it!” Hey, it’s my dream.

The next night we were at dinner at a five-star restaurant. Our assignment was to order dinner for each other. Although I wanted to order Chateaubriand for Two, I ordered Karen an unending plate of Alaskan King Crab, then worried if I made the right decision since she was wearing a yellow sequined top and long black skirt — you know, butter splash. She ordered me a Prime Rib End Cut.

And I awoke, with the taste of that beef in my mouth.

But I just can’t see
 from their point of view,
And I know it’s because
of how much I love you —

A couple of nights later, it was back to dreamland. This time, we were talking to our counselor back at the house. He said to us, “You didn’t need me. You needed each other. You needed to remember why you fell in love. You needed to remember to take time for each other. You needed to remember how much you complemented each other, how your individual strengths helped your spouse’s weaknesses, how your vulnerabilities were covered by your spouse. You needed to get back to basics.”

With the strains of an instrumental version of I’ve Got You Under My Skin wafting into my consciousness, I awoke … and realized the dream sequences were a reflection of our life together. It’s bittersweet. This was supposed to be our time. The closest I am going to come to visiting with Karen is in my dreams.

I cherish each promise
that holds us together,
For you’re my life’s joy,
and you will be forever.

But at the same time, we enjoyed the time we had. We each gave 100% … and that’s what it takes. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, it’s 100-100 with some extra thrown in. It’s hard work but we survived … because “we had to talk!”

What Is Marriage?

Marriage is the beautiful blending
Of two lives, two loves
and two hearts —
It’s the wonderful, magical moment
When a beautiful love story starts.

Marriage is caring and sharing
From the moment you first say, “I do” —
It’s learning of life’s little troubles
And all of its happiness, too.

Marriage is respect for each other,
It’s a bond made in heaven above,
it’s finding the world
in each other —
It’s laughter …
it’s joy … it’s love.
G.W. Douglas

Happy Anniversary
With All My Love
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Forever

annivrsaryTHOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Live a life that ripples. Leave a positive piece of yourself with everyone you touch.

 

Posted in anniversary, blessings, Blink of an Eye, celebration, communication, companionship, Faith, family, joy, Karen, Life, love, marriage, Memories, relationships, support, talk, wife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meet and Greet

I have a doctor’s appointment next Wednesday in New York. It’s no big deal … just a routine visit with my primary care physician. However, since it is a 588 mile one-way trip, I really didn’t want it to be a quick trip with a quick turnaround. I’ll head out Saturday and return home next Friday.

I normally try to squeeze in some family time when I travel — and this won’t be any different. I’ll be staying with my daughter, significant other and grandson and plan some face time with the other four grandchildren still in the Empire State. And I hope to see some friends as well.

But there is also some business to tend to. As a published author, I am going to carve out some time meeting and greeting at three formal events. The first is Sunday where I will join the 9:30 a.m. worship at Christ Episcopal Church, Willard, followed by fellowship. Tuesday I will be featured at a Meet & Greet Evening at the home of Don & Kathy Peters in Waterloo at 7 p.m. The third is next Thursday at noon at the Gould Hotel, Seneca Falls, addressing the Kiwanis Club.  In addition to meeting and greeting, I plan on catching up and talking about my book, Heaven Shining Through, and the publishing process, maybe sign and/or sell a few books and bring guests up to date with projects planned. Yes, there are projects planned — and those groups will find out about it first!

I am also planning a couple of smaller groups with friends. One of the best parts of publishing is I have met so many new and old friends and have had so many great conversations.

I could probably squeeze in additional gatherings. Just let me know.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t try to be the cool mom or dad. It’s embarrassing.

Posted in book, communication, entertainment, Faith, family, Friends, Heaven Shining Through, invitation, Life, love, meet and greet, New York, relationships, Seneca County, travel, visit, worship, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Great Day

I woke up to some great news today … I mean, truly great news! I am now a great-grandfather for the third time. My grandson Zack and his wife Khristine welcomed Harper Jean to the world officially at 11:37 p.m., 5 pounds 14 ounces and 18 inches long. In addition to mom and day, she joins sister Addison in the Kohlhofer family.

Little Miss Harper is God’s latest gift to me. He has blessed Karen and I with five children, who in turn have blessed us with 18 grandchildren and now three great-granddaughters. I cherish each and every one in the quiver.

I think it’s amazing. I was an only child and Karen only had one sister.  My only regret is Karen isn’t here to experience this with me.

I look at babies as God’s promise He is still with us. They are a peek at the future, a look at the present and a connection to the past. They link us.

I’m still not sure I’m ready for the “great” part. I always envisioned great-grandparents as, well, old. I suppose I am old but I don’t feel “great” old, just “grand” old. And, of course, this is my third shot at “great”-ness

Harper’s birth was a reminder I’m in another season in my life, my very blessed life. I’ve managed to grow up {okay, maybe in years, anyway} and watch my children and grandchildren grow up. Hopefully, I’ll get to witness at least some of my great-grandchildren’s lives … and still remember and appreciate it.

I immediately thought of the presentation scene in The Lion King where Simba was lifted toward the heavens. I symbolically lift Harper toward the heavens, not for the oohs and aahs in this realm, but in appreciation of her Creator.

All I can do is pray for her — as I do for her parents and their parents’ parents. It’s a simple prayer. Lord, keep them close.

To Harper I utter the same prayer I’ve prayed so many times over the years.

Lord, I thank you for this gift. Give my grandchildren the same strength and wisdom You blessed me and my children with to raise her as Your special child, with potential and possibilities way beyond their belief. They will not be perfect and neither were we. She will not be perfect and neither were we. But, let us all remember whose child she is … Yours. May Harper grow as a reflection of the One who made her all the days of her life.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Play games with your kids.

Posted in Babies, blessings, celebration, children, communication, Faith, family, gift, God, joy, Life, love, parenting, prayer, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment