Archive for October 2010

I can see clearly now….   Leave a comment

…. I bet you have that song in your head now, don’t you?  Sorry about that.

In our newly remodeled house we have new windows in our dining room.  They let in the eastern light; we love it.  On that side of the house there are two vine-y plants growing that have now twined together into one large mass.  One is a flowering vine that has orange blossoms all over it.  Very pretty, even if it has spread all over front back and side yards.  The other is a climbing, vine-y rose plant.  Also very pretty, with pink roses that smell nice. 

When these two plants grow to such a height that they start climbing on the house, open the window and tap you on your shoulder while you are sitting at the eating counter and ask what is for breakfast — I draw the line.  They must be cut back.  It has been a year since these plants have been hacked down to the fence line.  During that year they grew gradually and were trimmed regularly — except on top.  I’m short and can’t reach, and getting my tall nephew to do it is sometimes a challenge.

But all things came together yesterday and he was able to be coaxed into getting the ladder out and the industrial strength shears and doing the trimming on the top.  All of a sudden — we can see in the dining room again.  The light is coming through the windows whereas before the plant growth had blocked it out.

Hmmmm….. we need to dust.  And vacuum. But my point is (and yes, I do have a point) it got me thinking about what things I have let “grow” and “cover up” other things in my life.  What is in the dark in my life, that I am not even aware of?  That has gotten darker gradually and a little bit at a time, that I haven’t even noticed it?

And that leads to….. what is growing in my life that is making other things dark, that I need to cut back?  What needs to be trimmed?  Pruned?

John 15:1-2 says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it wil be even more fruitful.”  This shows that everyone —- every one of us — gets pruned.  Whether we ask for it, want it, are aware of it, or care.  We get pruned.  And the pruning doesn’t stop until we die.  I may not see clearly now what I have let grow too high and shed darkness where there should be light.  But I do know I will get pruned, and that eventually light will shine where it needs to.  Just as I need to shine where I need to.

Posted October 31, 2010 by Maureen in Christian, Musings

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Ocean Haiku   Leave a comment

A Haiku is a kind of poem.  It is three lines, unrhymed.  The first with five syllables, the second with seven, and the third with five.  The object is to evoke emotions, sights, smells, sounds with the few words you use, blending the syllables and words carefully to get your meaning across.

You can find lots of good Haiku on the web.  Many many people are good at it.  I am not.  But — sometimes I get inspired and they just flow.  So here are some Haikus I wrote about the ocean, a daily inspiration for me.

Good morning ocean
Crashing sparkling foaming waves
Blue green – I greet you

Morning sun on water
Dashing sparkling crashing sea
Pushing up on shore

Wind blows, waves toss, froth
High waves, foam froths hissing waves
Dark sand, grey sky, cold 

Waves on rock

Calm sea, grey above
Silent waves – calm before storm
Watch; wait; surfers bob 

Calm in the morning
My reflection in the water
Grey clouds filtered light

Joy in the morning
Seeing ocean waves and sand
Waves crashing on rocks

Sunlight thru the clouds
Piercing, lighting up water
All else is blue grey

Sun on waves and sand

Cold wet wind blowing
High waves frothy white on top
Surfers lined up, wait

Setting sun hits water
Wide column of red water
Goodbye day; night comes

Colors of ocean
Greens, blues, grey combinations
Every day different

My ocean colors
Always and never changing
Blue, green, grey; light, dark

Posted October 29, 2010 by Maureen in Poems

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Lessons from a 2 year old   1 comment

I have a great-nephew that is my joy.  He is so wonderful and cuddly and special and handsome and sweet and talented and smart and clever and fun. And I’m not just saying that because I’m his great-aunt.

It has been especially fun to watch him grow.  Everything is new.  There is so much to learn and do and see, and so much I’d like to teach him or see him learn.  And he does it all his way — with his own personality and through his own eyes.  It is truly a joy and privilege to watch and be a part of.

I was thinking this week of a couple of lessons I learned from him.  Sean likes to take a bath with foam letters his Grammie bought for him.  One night I volunteered to dry Sean off and get his clothes on after his bath while his dad cleaned up the bathroom.  Sean had a letter gripped tightly in each hand – the letter “K” (his favorite) is his left and the letter “W” (his next favorite) in his right.  He was tired and a bit fussy, so his Auntie tried to cheer him up and make him laugh.

But it had been a long day and he hadn’t had a nap and it was at the end of the day….. so he gripped his letters tightly and fussed and cried a bit and would not be cheered.  I dried him off, got his diaper on, and put his footie pajamas on.  Once his feet were in I stood him up and tried to put his arms in so I could zip him all up…… but he wouldn’t let go of his letters.  I knew if he just let me put his arms quickly into the sleeves, then he could be zipped up and be dry and comfy, and he could also hold his letters again.  He knew the process of putting his arms in sleeves and was getting quite good at it.  But he refused to let go.  I had to pull – hard – to get the letter “K” out of his hand.  While he wailed and cried,  I quickly stuffed his arm through the hole and pulled his hand out the other side, immediately putting his “K” back in his hand.  He calmed down. But he immediately set off again because Auntie took the letter “W” (yanked, is more like it) out of his hand to put his other arm in the sleeve.

Finally both arms were in, both letters were once again clutched tightly, he had dry diapers on and was all zipped into his footie PJs.  He got picked up by his Auntie and given kisses and hugs.

It made me think.  What was I holding onto so tightly that I was missing out on something really good that would be good for me and make me feel better?  What am I short-sighted on, holding on to, refusing to let go; where am I stuck in my ways —- that I am missing out on something better and greater?

Another thing Sean has discovered, is if you climb up on the chair at our computer table, lean over so your face is about 1 1/2″ from the screen and say over and over “Watch a duck!”  Eventually, if you just stay leaned over and repeat that phrase over and over without stopping, the screen clears of the wallpaper or screen saver that was there,



YouTube opens, and a Donald Duck cartoon that you have already viewed 2,338 times comes on.  You settle happily, smiling, as Donald and his nephews once again go through their hijinks. 

I thought to myself: what do I do over and over, repeating, because, eventually, a result will come about that I want?  As a single lady who has been looking and dating, I have seen this in the men I meet.  They follow the same path – use the same lines – take you to the same places and send you the same flowers.  And they move from women to women to women.  Some men like that — I’ve met them.  But some are puzzled by the whole process.  Some don’t get it.  They just keep repeating the same thing over and over because SOMETIMES — now and then — they get the response they want.

God save me from repeating the same mistakes.  God forbid that I will spend time repeating the same behaviors or saying the same thing because SOMETIMES I get a response I want.  God please give me discernment and wisdom to change my behaviors and words and actions so that I can get good results right away, and not just sometimes.  Help me recognize when I am holding too tightly onto something that, if I just let it go or even loosened my grip (I can probably get it back) I will get a blessing. 

Let it be for all of us.  Amen.

Posted October 26, 2010 by Maureen in Being Single, Musings

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Priorities   Leave a comment

This morning in church one of the things the Pastor said was something like this: “I let my priorities mold my identity”.

That has been bouncing around my brain cells all day.  Have I let my priorities mold me too much?  Have I been driven by/inspired by/molded by my priorities — instead of — what?  What is the alternative?

God?  My family?  My job?  My bucket list? (if I had one)  My friends?  My goals? 

What molds me?  What are my priorities? 

I try to be careful about my priorities — what takes my time, what I spend time on.  I try to not waste too much time.  Or spend it on unimportant things.  And by unimportant I mean things like watching TV while doing nothing else, perusing blog sites or web sites for hours when I could be talking to friends or family, working on projects around the house, and etc. etc. 

I think what molds me are the day-to-day experiences since I was born.  They have molded me and formed me, for good or bad, into the basic person I am today. Not that I can’t change or grow or not break out of any mold.  Those things are entirely possible.

I think it is a constant struggle; a constant push-pull.  A balancing act, even.  Not to get molded into something that doesn’t resemble me, or the kind of person I want to be, and who I think God wants me to be.  Not to let priorities in my life get out of wack or control me too much.  It is something I am aware of and do think about. 

I wonder ……. how have priorities molded me and I am not aware of it?

Posted October 25, 2010 by Maureen in Musings

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Zoya’s Hug   Leave a comment

I have been blessed to be able to go to Russia three times on missions trips with the same organization.  We visited orphanages and old folks homes outside the big city of Perm, which is about 1,000 miles east and a little north of Moscow, in western Russia.  All three trips were unique and wonderful experiences, and if I were to tell you all about it I could blog every day for a year and still not be done.

This is the true story of Zoya.  When we went to Zoya’s orphanage it was in a town about 2 hours from where we were staying.  As is the usual practice with this organization I was with, we met up with the local Pastor and talked to him about his ministry and work in the area.  Some Pastors we met with had never been to the orphanage(s) in their towns, and others had been once or twice, and sometimes (not often) we met Pastors who had regular visits scheduled and even people from the church giving Sunday School at the orphanage.

There is strong opposition to Christianity in Russia from the Orthodox Church, so sometimes it is hard to do any real ministry except on a one-on-one basis.  That combined with the general Russian attitude of “Oh – the government looks after the orphans” and what you have are towns with 5-8,000 people in them, two orphanages, and no one from the town ever visits the orphans.  Not the Christians, not the Russian Orthodox church, not the Muslims – no one.

But I digress.  In that town there were two orphanages, and unusually they were close together.  We went to the first, and when we were done many of the kids ran ahead of us (5 minutes or so) to the next so they could see us all over again.  We did our “program” if you want to call it that.  When we were done singing and telling stories and giving a simple gospel message, our regular practice was to give every single person a hug.  Men and women workers, helpers, and every single child.  I could tell you story after story of the healing, awesome power of a simple hug given sincerely and firmly without reservation.  Grown men and women breaking down and sobbing.  The hardest child melting. 

At any rate, sometimes when we did this one child would ‘latch’ onto one of us.  It varied as to whom would get a child that was just drawn to them, but that child would hang around and keep their eyes on you and just not want to let you go.  Sometimes this would be a very emotional thing for the child (and the adult of course), with the child crying and clinging to you.  Those were very hard to deal with, as eventually it was time to go and you had to peel the child’s arms off you and leave.

When we did our ‘program’ at the second orphanage I noticed a little girl sitting in the front row, watching me and smiling at me.  She had reddish-brown hair, straight and fine.  She looked to be about 10 years old, but it was sometimes hard to tell with the orphans as they did not get good nutrition and were often smaller and skinnier than they would have been somewhere else.  She had soft brown freckles on her face and a very nice smile.

When it was time to give our hugs all the kids joined in enthusiastically and the Americans all made sure, as was our usual practice, that everyone in the room got at least one hug.  I suddenly found myself being hugged by this girl.  And she didn’t let go.  She didn’t sob or cling – she just stood there and hugged me firmly, resting her head on my chest.  And she wanted me to keep my arms around her.

Her friends were running around, posing for pictures, laughing, playing with the balloon animals we had made them.  Zoya and I just stood there in the middle of all that and we hugged.  Members of my group came by to check on us and I assured them we were just fine.  I knew enough Russian to ask her name and to tell her that Jesus loved her and that she was a beautiful girl.  I had one of my team take a picture of us.

The orphanage workers don’t like it when the kids cry or are not happy.  They want the Americans to see that the children are happy and well taken care of.  There is always the hope one of the kids will be adopted by one of us, or that we will go back and bring more Americans with us.  At one point an orphanage worker came up to us and berated Zoya.  I don’t know what was said because it was in rapid Russian, but it was quite obviously a severe scolding, and Zoya shrank against me.  I just turned my head and ignored the worker, pretending she wasn’t there.  When she left Zoya and I went back to just standing there and hugging.  I gave her a squeeze and rubbed her back and she squeezed me back.  I was praying for her, enjoying the feel of this little girls arms around me.  I felt very much that she was just looking for comfort and human contact, and for some reason she chose me for that.

Another worker came by later and scolded her again, and a couple of her friends stopped by and tried to get her to run and play, but Zoya just wanted to hug me.  So we stood there a long time in a firm embrace, and I loved every second of it.  Eventually, it was time to go and we went arm in arm down the stairs and out to the bus.   The kids were running and yelling and jumping and shouting, and Zoya and I walked up to the foot of the bus and I gave her one more squeeze and kissed her.  She stepped back and smiled and waved at me, and I got on the bus, and we left. 

The next trip I went on we went to that same city, but they had closed the orphanages and the Pastor did not know what happened to Zoya.  I do believe I will see her in heaven, though, and we will be able to hug again.  Until that day, I will keep telling the story of Zoya.

Posted October 23, 2010 by Maureen in Memories, Uncategorized

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Cold Bottom   Leave a comment

Living next to the ocean, I get to drive by it every day to and from work and errands.  I love seeing the ocean every day.  It is a huge blessing to me, and I never ever get tired of it.

With the ocean, at least in this area, comes surfers.  Surfers pulled over to the side of the highway, checking out the waves.  Surfers crossing the highway with their boards.  Surfers dressing and undressing in the parking lot at the beach.  When I was smaller and lived here before that used to be a big problem.  The surfers would just drop everything next to their car and stop traffic and cause accidents.  Nowadays they use towels.

Driving around town you see wet suits hanging outside and surfboards on top of cars and hanging in garages.  You see the wake boarders playing in the shallow surf, and the surfers sitting in the water, riding waves, and walking to and from the water.  You see those surfers who surf standing on the board with long paddles.  Is that called surfing or something else?

So, I pick up a lot by osmosis about surfing.  But — the basic premise of sitting on your butt in really cold water, legs dangling in said cold water, for long periods of time — I don’t get that.  Is that fun?  How could you be so cold for so long and think that was fun?  And this is what I REALLY don’t get.  How do surfers know when to go in the water?

I have driven by the beach and the water was filled with surfers.  I look at the waves — they are gently lapping on the beach.  Looks like the tide is in.  No wind.  No whitecaps.  Yet, there are at least 50 surfers, sitting on their butts on their boards in the cold, cold water.  Just sitting.  I do my errands and return that way about 2 hours later.  Yup – looks like every last mother’s son of them is still sitting there.  Why? 

And then there are other days when the wind is blowing, the white caps are showing on the waves, and the tide is in.  Not a single surfer is in the water.  None.  Other times there seems to be good wave action, without the strong wind or white caps, and again — no surfers.  But, sometimes I DO see surfers in the water when there seems to be good wave action going on.  Why?? 

I have been walking along the beach and suddenly realize most if not all of the surfers are making their way out of the water and going back to their cars.  Did a bell go off and I didn’t hear it?  Was there some hand signal passed among them and I missed it?  It usually happens when the tide is going out, so does that have something to do with it?  I don’t get it.  I just don’t get it.

One thing I DO like about surfing.  I have seen just about every kind of surfer going into or getting out of the water.  Young.  Younger.  20something.  Middleaged.  Older than I.  Much older than I.  So much older than I are you KIDDing me??  Male.  Female.  All races, though white does dominate.  That is what I like about surfing.  The universal appeal.  And one more thing — the surfers getting into and out of the water?  They look happy and content.  So, I will never understand why someone wants to sit on their butt in the cold cold water for hours at a time…… but there must be something that is enjoyable about it.  And that’s what really matters.

Posted October 22, 2010 by Maureen in Randomness

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Can you see this?   Leave a comment

I live on the coast, so we have fog.  I lived inland for many years and rarely got fog, and I missed it the whole time.  I love all the different kinds of fog.  I love fog in the morning; I love fog in the evening.  I grew up with fog every day so I am used to it, and it is nice to be back to it. 

Sometimes I am inspired to write poems.  Don’t expect much!  I am not a good poet, but when one comes it usually just flows right out with few edits, and when that happens I just go with it, rather than worry too much how ‘good’ it is.  So here are two for you.  The second is a haiku, which I just started writing about a year ago.


The fog lies softly
Floating over the water
long, thin, stretched.
The hills peep from behind
the water shimmers below
The fog hovers, keeping
hills and water separate
Softly it floats
with white wisps it hovers
pleasing the eye with mystery


Grey on grey fog creeps
Concrete and mists swirl and eddy
Parking in BART today

Posted October 20, 2010 by Maureen in Poems

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Communication   1 comment

I’ve been thinking of communication lately.  Mostly, the lack thereof between people.  Any people:  Men and women.  Women and women.  Adults and children.  Adults and teens.  Bosses and subordinates.  Brothers.  Sisters.  Politicians and ….. the rest of us. 

I have a girlfriend who has had some communication problems with her boyfriend.  She sent me an email thread……. that showed they were both talking AT each other, not TO.  And neither was communicating.

Am I any better?  Hardly!  We recently had a “Living Single in a Married Worried” short seminar at our church.  The teaching was good but it wasn’t really directly specifically at singles.  What I liked about the speaker is he reminded me of the basic differences between men and women…. and their underlying motivations.

Women need to feel needed and safe and attractive and cared for.  All women feel this (I think I can safely say that for all women of the world) to some degree or another.  And it drives our communication.  It is the foundation of everything we say and how we think and feel. 

If we say, “You aren’t listening to me!” what we mean is that we are not feeling safe or needed or cared for.  No matter what else is going on — that’s what is going on.  I had an email “discussion” with my former boyfriend recently.  You could not call it an argument because that takes two people and he was already disengaging from our relationship.  What I told him after his curt response was what I was really wanting, which was not what we were “discussing”. 

There are all sorts of other reasons we say what we say and not mean what we really mean.  Our past colors everything in our world.  External pressures and peer pressure and fear are all reasons we mis-communicate with each other.  Our busy lives, mostly filled with cacophony, makes it hard to listen.

My biggest complaint about the whole communication thing is: people aren’t taught how to communciate.  Not really.  Have YOU ever gotten training on how best to communicate, and how to recognize body signals and tone of voice?  Everyone who gets a 2 or 4 year degree has to take a “Speech” class — where they don’t teach how to communicate!  (By the way, I loved that class, and the teacher was really cute!)  They really need to teach this stuff in High School.  Better yet – teach it in Junior High AND High School.  Communication 101 and 102. 

Heck, if my former Speech teacher taught it I’d pay for that class!

Posted October 20, 2010 by Maureen in Being Single, Musings

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Endings…. and Beginnings   Leave a comment

I am at another ending. Sigh. I have ended it with the man I was dating.  Once again I picked someone who was not ready for a relationship. 

Oh, it seemed as if he was ready.  But he was a catch-and-release kind of guy.  He loved the chasing and catching.  But after that he started to lose interest….. and drifted…… right out of my life.  It probably didn’t help that I did not let him get away with his blame-shifting and justification and false fronts and the avoidance techniques he used.  Darn me – I just insisted on honesty and communication.  For someone who lives out of state is it unreasonable to want to talk to that person on the phone at least three times a week?  Am I just a clingy wacko to think that is a reasonable request?  Am I totally off my rocker to expect, sometime in the next three months, HE come visit ME?  Am I too desperate if I did want to spend face-t0-face time with him?

Apparently that was asking too much.  Who knew?  And yet I was told I wasn’t independent enough.  Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!  If that did not illustrate the point that he hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know me, then nothing else did.  An intelligent man like that, and he couldn’t come up with anything better than a lame “you aren’t independent enough for me”.  Of course, I called him on THAT, too.  What he wanted was someone with their own house or apartment so he could pack his few meager belongings and just slide right into a place already set up and waiting.  Get his own apartment for a few months?  Get a job and spend time dating face-to-face (rather than long distance) for a few months?  Nope, not for him.  Too much work.

He was a rolling stone and ……. he moved on immediately to the next girl.  I pray for her, I really do.  The thing is, after my initial hurt and few tears and asking “was it me?” I feel happier and better without him then I ever did with him.  He lost out – big time. 

So, I am at an ending.  But I am looking forward to other beginnings.  My face and heart are turned forward, looking ahead, and I’m not going to stay and wallow or chase after him.  Sometimes endings are hard. Beginnings can be hard, too.  But the important thing is you need to keep moving forward.

Posted October 18, 2010 by Maureen in Being Single

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Being Used   Leave a comment

I’ve been drifting for two years.  Spinning, floating, wafting, letting currents carry me, on a flimsy raft like Tom Hanks in “Castaway”.  There have been various reasons for this, and also various reasons why I allowed myself to be adrift. 

But that has changed now.  I don’t need to be adrift anymore.  I am ready to come to shore and set off through the jungles and deserts and valleys and meadows, searching and ready for adventure and what life can bring. 

Being a Christian, my desire is to seek God, to know God, and to be used by God.  This means that I want to use the gifts and talents God has given me, to bring glory to His name.  By my thoughts and words and actions.  By talking to people about my faith.  Or just being silent.  By inviting people to church, or just finding ways to talk about my church without pressure or being intimidating. 

One of the very core, deep down things that motivates me and pulls me and allows me to continue on from day to day is ——- to help.  To make a difference by my very existence.  If you say “Can you help?” to me I will 99 times out of 100 say “Yes”.  I can’t help it.  It is part of my character, part of what drives me.  Almost everything in my life can be traced back to that — I started out by helping someone.  Or I thought I could make a difference to some one or some thing.

And so I am ready to be used by God.  To perhaps get out of my comfort zone.  Gulp.  To do things or go places or be with people who are outside my experience.  Big gulp.  I have been thinking about this and praying about it and I have been searching.  What organizations can I join?  How can I use my gifts and talents to help someone?  What do I like to do, and is there an organization that does that? 

I am already a volunteer at the local Humane Society.  I have wanted to do this since I was a teenager.  I didn’t know if I would like it, I didn’t know what it would be like when I first joined.  Would it be the same as I thought it would when I was a teenager?  It has been two months now and I really do like it.  I may only spend a little time with the animals, and I don’t get to take them out of their cages and hold them, but I know that the little time I spend makes a difference to them.  I do what I can, because I can.  Because I am able.  It may be a drop in the ocean, but you just never know what a difference a drop can make.  That is where the “make a difference” motivation coming into play.

I’m ready to be used by God.  To make a difference. To help.  Stay tuned for more volunteer stories.

Posted October 16, 2010 by Maureen in Christian, Musings

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