Appreciating My Dash


Shortly before my dad passed away, he said, “I never thought I’d be like this.” I watched as he struggled to breathe, even though oxygen aided him. With his zest for life used up like a holiday candle, and his wick of life all but gone, God continued to bless him. Not many men that work in a coal mine for over forty-years live well into their eighties. Dad was three month’s shy of his eighty-sixth birthday when he passed. In the days, and now years that follow, I’m still grateful for his life—the years on both sides of his dash. I pray that God bestows this same grace and longevity upon me.

At fifty-one-years-old, I feel blessed, being a half-century into my dash. Although I don’t like the signs of aging: joint pain, morning stiffness, gray hair, menopause, wrinkles, less-than-perfect eyesight, etc., they illustrate a rite of passage that leads me to the next stepping stone in life. Most folks know the idiom, “If I knew then what I knew now,”  what? You fill in the rest. For me, if I knew then what I knew now, would I have chosen a different path? Would I have made different decisions? Perhaps. But, I cannot go back. I can only go forward. So, with that said, I will strive and be the person that God wants.  My principles are solid. I have excellent mentors, namely my parents, who taught by example. Of course, none of us is perfect. But I can try, anyway. I will be kind to others when they are not kind to me. I will forgive when I do not want to. And, I will ask for forgiveness before it is too late. One of my favorite poems is The Dash by Linda Ellis. ( Thousands use her beloved poem to eulogize friends and family. I admire others’ gift of words, which causes me to ponder upon their meaning. Whenever I read The Dash, clarity emerges; not only from thinking about my dad’s life, but also my life. It encourages me to consider my life’s choices. All in all, I feel good about my life’s journey. God has been good to me and to my family, and I am truly blessed.

Dear God,

You promise never to forsake.

Even though you are always there, situations arise that cause fear and doubt.  

Thank you for guiding, leading, loving and forgiving me in my life’s beginning and in my life’s end;

and, especially, during the time in between. 



Celebrating Home With A Yellow Ribbon And A Mason Jar


Most folks regard “the short rows” as a task nearing completion.

Now that Mom seems content and happy in her new home, we celebrate “the short rows” with exhausted enthusiasm.

The daunting three month preparation of seeking her new home,

planning her move (what to take, what not to take), and

organizing and working her massive yard sale,

now affords us a rest, momentarily—the sale of her home lies in wait.

After the last yard sale patron drove away, I walked through the house.

Only the dust bunnies remain, but they will be gone soon enough.

My footfalls echoed throughout the empty shell, making me feel like an intruder on foreign ground.

This afternoon, while mulling over all the hard work, and the seemingly endless packing and unpacking of boxes that overwhelmed me a few weeks ago, relief enveloped me when I remembered something Mom said a few days ago.

 She said,

“I’m ready to go home.”

At that moment I realized she no longer acknowledged her and daddy’s home as her home. I said nothing, but allowed myself time to reflect on her words.

Today, while on my way to visit Mom, one of her canning jars from years ago, a reject from the yard sale, rolled around in my back seat.

 I stopped and bought Mom a colorful spring bouquet and a roll of coordinating yellow ribbon.

When I walked into her house, she said,

“What are you doing with those flowers?”

To which I proudly proclaimed,

“I’m celebrating, and I thought they’d be pretty on your table.”

“Celebrating what?” she asked.

“Celebrating  home,” I said, and then I filled the jar with water, arranged the flowers, attached the ribbon, and took a picture.


Dear God:

Today I celebrate home.

Thank you for showing me that a home means more than possessions.

Yes, memories are made there, but without a family to make the memories, a house is just an empty shell, a void to be filled.

Thank you, dear God, for my family, and especially for my mother. May she be blessed with happiness and good health, and may she enjoy her new home as much as I enjoy going home to see her.

Without the gift of your grace, I know that I would not have the blessed life that I enjoy.

I am truly humble and grateful.

Thank you.




Through my years of barbering, I’ve heard many confessions. I’ve commented and offered advice on some, while others, well, let me say that I could “write a book” and leave it at that.

Regardless of how trivial a confession seems, confessions are difficult, nonetheless.

For most, myself included, saying “I’m sorry” is difficult, but it can also be rewarding.

The other day I said something that I later regretted.

It was one of those occasions where you speak first and think later.

I guess we’ve all done that, right?

Jesus knows our burdens, and he knows how easy it is for us to stick our foot in our mouth, too.

I’m so thankful that I did not let my pride hold me back from doing the right thing –  confessing and apologizing.

The bible states:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

 (Proverbs 16:18)

I’m so thankful that I surrendered my pride, and I don’t ever want to fall because of a haughty spirit.

How about you?


Dear God:

Thank you for allowing me to feel the effects of  a guilty conscious.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to right a wrong, and to say, “I’m sorry.” 

But above all, thank you for allowing me to be loved and forgiven.

I am truly blessed.


Counting Socks

A friend told me to “find humor” in my mom’s move.

I am happy to report that I found it, counting socks.


At least once a week Mom and I take things to her new home, unpack it, and reorganize it. It’s not only a physical workout, especially for me, but it’s also an adventure that we both seem to enjoy. The “adventure,” which I will lovingly call it, is sometimes found inside of a plastic garbage bag. On the other hand it is really more like a treasure hunt, rather than an adventure. Mom doesn’t use the packing boxes that I have provided; instead, she prefers garbage bags. Now while this is fine (I try not to sweat the small stuff, Lord knows there are plenty of other things that I’m sweating over these days) it does create questions when I start unpacking. Such as, “Where does this go, Mom,” or “What is in this, Mom?” to which she giggles and replies, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember. Just tear it open and dump it out,” so I do.

Recently on one of our  “adventurous treasure hunts,” I dumped out at least 30 pairs of socks. I’m not kidding!

We were in her bedroom. Mom was leaning against the door frame; I was on the floor on my knees. When I tore open one of the mystery bags, a bounty of colorful socks fell to the floor. They piled up, like manna from heaven, around me.

Mom said, “Oh, yeah, I forgot, that one has my socks in it.”

I looked up and said,

“Really, Mom, do you really need all of these? You can’t possibly wear or need all of these.”

“But I do,” she confirmed.

And then she pointed to a faded gray pair that stood out from the rest; different, yet familiar.

“Those were your daddy’s socks,” she said, matter-of-fact, “and I’m keeping them.”

I nodded and, without saying a word, gathered them in my arms and placed them in a very large, deep drawer.

You see, it was during this moment, this seemingly monotonous act, that I began to realize that it’s not my dad’s socks that Mom holds on to, but her memory of him wearing them.

As bitter sweet and as excruciatingly painful as our memories may be, when speaking of departed loved ones, sometimes they comfort. The memory of my dad wearing these socks comforts my mother. I saw that today.

 Memories are like socks, aren’t they? They add up quickly. Some we want to keep, and others we want to throw out.

Mom and I make memories each time we’re together. Today we made a new memory, while  remembering another. Today we counted socks, together. When tomorrow comes I want to remember the memory, but mostly l want to look back and remember my relationship with my beloved mother, my best friend.


Dear God:

When so many have a soiled relationship with their mother, I am grateful that the relationship I have with my mother is one others envy.

I am grateful for the laughter we’ve shared.

I am grateful for the tears we’ve shared.

I am grateful for the memories we’ve shared.

And, I am grateful for the memory we made . . . counting socks.


Celebrating Life


(Photo Credit: Laura Davis-Mullenix)

When my cousin Laura posted these flowers on social media she said, “I picked these from my yard yesterday. Thought I would post this to encourage everyone that “SPRING” still does exist. I’m glad I picked them as they would be gone now.”

While these daffodils are beautiful, it’s the vase that catches my attention.

You see, when I first glimpsed Laura’s post, I immediately thought of the three-in-one. You know, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Being the writer that I like to think that I am, my creativity rolled into overdrive with how I could expand her photo and message through my blog.

So, after musing over Laura’s caption and photo, a metaphor evolved through her words: “picked, encourage, exist, and gone.”

Still confused?

Bear with me . . .


Spring is wonderful, is it not?

It’s the time of year when all of God’s creation comes alive.The dreary darkness of winter fades into warm sunny days and clear blue skies. Even our mood toward each other and for each other metamorphoses into something beautiful, heaven sent.

For Christians, Easter evokes intense mourning coupled with triumphant victory, especially when referring to the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Certainly life in general is a joyous time for each of us, right?

But, have you ever thought about the one and only celebration of life that out shines and out lasts anything imaginable by man?

And, have you ever thought about the gift that was freely given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the gift of eternal life?

Jesus’ excruciatingly painful death on the cross was for us, you and me, and it can never be repaid or topped, or even redone.

 Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ existed in the flesh, as we do, suffered and died, as we will, and was separated from his father, as we, too, will be separated if we do not choose life.

Laura shared her beautiful flowers the same way our Heavenly Father shared his son Jesus. Laura saved the daffodils before they died. When we choose to follow Jesus, we can live a life as beautiful as Laura’s daffodils with one exception: When we die, we will rise again. The bible says that we will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus, isn’t that exciting! She said that had she not chosen them, they would surely die, or “be gone.” Likewise, had God the Father not chosen his son as our redeemer, we would die and “be gone,” too.

I am so very grateful, aren’t you, that our Heavenly Father “picked” us, saw us worthy to celebrate life – eternal life with him.

I look forward to the celebration, don’t you?


Dear God:

I have no words this Easter to express my sorrow for the way you had to die, and for me.

I have no words this Easter to express the sheer joy I feel, knowing that you conquered death; the tomb could not hold you captive.

I have no words this Easter, except to say,

I am and will forever be your unworthy, but grateful servant.


Waiting And Anticipating


It’s finally here! The time of year most, if not all, of us have waited for  –  spring! That is, according to the calendar. It’s been a long, cold winter, too, hasn’t it? Even the folks who are not accustomed to the bitting effects of old man winter donned a heavier coat and scarf this year. It’s definitely been one for the record books, regardless of where you live. But it’s over! It’s over! It’s over! We can rejoice and be glad as we wait with anticipation for the sun’s rays to pink our cheeks and tan our toes.

But, how good are we really when it comes to waiting?

Having to wait for something we want is nothing new for us; in fact, it’s something that we’ve wrestled with since biblical times.

Remember how the Israelites complained and grew impatient when they began their pilgrimage to the Promise Land? (Exodus 16)

And what about Abraham and Sarah? They are old, and Sarah is past child bearing years. She laughs when she over hears that she will have a child, and yet God promises and delivers to them the greatest of blessings! (Genesis 18)

Today while we wait and anticipate warmer weather, we must also wait and anticipate the arrival of Easter.

As Christians, Easter is our joy, our victory over death. Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are the recipients of eternal life!

I don’t know about you, but I believe that if we can have an eternal life with Jesus, it will be worth the wait. For now, though, I am content to anticipate such a life with the Son of God!

How about you?


Dear God:

I am waiting and anticipating.

I am a sinner, unworthy of your sacrifice, and humble, too, because you chose life for me.

I have no words.

I am, and always will be, forever grateful.


Sensing Loss


(Photo Credit: Permission granted by Cynthia Angeles)

(“Grief” oil painting by Cynthia Angeles.

The past few weeks I have seen things that I have not seen in years, and I mean years. For instance, Mom and I opened the cedar chest last week. She wanted to see if there was anything in it that I wanted to keep. The chest holds memories from my childhood, which contains everything from diaper pins, who remembers using these instead of Pampers, to my dad’s honorable discharge from the United States Navy. I held the yellowed-paper in my hand the whole time we plundered through every piece of precious memorabilia. Somehow scouring through the past evoked a sense of loss for me. Maybe it’s God’s way of speaking to me and saying that it’s okay to let go. That we all must let go, sooner or later.


Dear God:

It’s done. The papers are signed, and the rent is paid. I, on the other hand, am trying to keep the faith that what is happening is a good thing, the right thing. Mom seems ready, and she talks about her new home with childlike excitement.

God, while this is wonderful, I can’t help but feel distressed?

I can’t, for the life of me, understand why I go to bed thinking about her move and wake up thinking about it.

Why am I wearing myself out over something that, I truly believe, will make her happy?

But . . . I can’t help thinking . . .

What if Mom, after the new wears off, hates her new home?

What then?

What will I do to make it better?

What if – what if – what if?

At times, I simply do not know what to do next. Downsizing a home with over thirty years of stuff is no easy task, especially when Mom looks to me as her go-to person whenever she has questions.

Most days I’m running on pure adrenaline. I’m anxious all the time, but I think I hide it well. And at the the end of the day, I’m too exhausted to sleep, which makes the next day harder to get through. Today I feel overwhelmed. I’ve been weepy all day, too. Ask me, “why,” and I’ll say, “I don’t know. I simply don’t know.” I can’t help it, or stop it, either. I feel foolish.

Today I gave my Dad’s beloved little Boston Terriers to a friend. Mom cannot take them where she is going. Daddy adored them, he loved all animals. He spent, according to Mom, “a fortune” feeding the birds and squirrels. It was bitter-sweet watching my friend and her husband carry them in their arms and place them in their truck. I gave them the doghouse, new bedding and a large bag of food. Somehow I thought that would ease my conscious, but the guilt of not being able to bring them home myself overwhelmed me. My tears flowed like blood from an open wound. Mom tried to comfort me. She couldn’t, because she cried, too. The “girls,” as my dad called them, are next to the last connection that I have to my dad. After his and Mom’s house is sold, the material connection will be lost.

 My dad will always live in my heart, but to let go of the things that he loved crushes my spirit.

Today, God, I need you.

Today I need to feel you moving in me and through me.

Today I need strength to move forward.

Today I am sensing loss – the loss of my dad, his “girls,” and his guidance.

Help me to be a better person, a stronger person.

Help me to help Mom with her life-changing transition.

For it is because of your love and your sacrifice and the relationship that I have with you that I feel confidant in asking these things.