Moments of Joy: December 2015

The Moment of Joy for last month described an impromptu lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and a mysterious jedi.  This month’s story involves super-thoughtful people and a hearty dose of Benadryl.

women sneezing into a tissue and boxes of tissue

Let me keep this month’s post simple and give you the highlights:

  • I’m “allergic to the world,” as I sometimes say (mainly perfumes and artificial fragrances).
  • My daughter’s best friend comes to stay the night.
  • The friend’s perfume sends me into a sneezing, itching fit; so I take a dose of Benadryl, turn on the bathroom exhaust fans to help pull out the smell, and shut myself into my bedroom.
  • While chatting to my mother in an email, she says, “Ask her to rewash her hair with your unscented shampoo.”
  • I finally give in and ask, and the friend happily agrees. (She is such a kind girl!)
  • More itching and yuck continues due to the fabric softener on the friend’s clothing.  (Our house is pretty well unscented these days: “natural” deodorants and shampoos, homemade laundry soap, no scented candles or air fresheners other than essential oils.)
  • My mother-in-law finds me in my bedroom and says the house has a very strong fragrance in the air.  After seeing me and my pile of tissues, she asks the friend to change into my daughter’s clothes (good thing they’re the same size!) and takes the clothes home to wash them.
  • My mother-in-law comes back with her large, expensive air filter and insists I run it in the bedroom to clear up my sinuses.  (See, those evil mother-in-law jokes are not always valid!  ha ha)
  • A couple of hours later — sweet relief!  I can breathe through my nose!
  • By that evening, the friend is back in her own clothes, and we all jump in the car to go watch the new Star Wars movie.  Hooray!  (The movie is great, by the way!)

To conclude:  Loving moms, sweet friends, and thoughtful in-laws are the best!  My life is full of blessings that keep me smiling, even from behind a crumpled tissue!

~~~~~~~

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve already written a year’s worth of these posts!  Looking back on these monthly posts from 2015, I guess I’d say the one that brings me the most joy is April’s post.  A three-generation “girl trip” is so special and fun.  Unfortunately, my mother did not get to experience that trip as she would have liked because she became very ill.  We figured out later it was mostly due to a concussion caused by a bad fall she had right before our trip.  I’m hoping we can go to Hot Springs, Arkansas, again this spring, with everyone feeling healthy enough to thoroughly enjoy it this time!

Thankful from the Top of my Head to the Tips of my Toes!

Have you ever been upset about a situation and had someone come up to you and say “Oh, don’t get all bent out of joint over it”?  Maybe not.  It’s a phrase I haven’t really heard since I was a child.

Well, yesterday I was literally “bent out of joint”!  At least, I think my toe was…

FRAGILE HANDLE WITH CARE, red and white label

Have you thought about how fragile we are?  While I was processing a deer with my family in the fall, I shuddered when I thought about how my bones, tendons, and muscles were no stronger than those we were quickly cutting into steaks and roasts.  I’m frequently reminded of my frailty because I bruise so easily — and because of the aches and pains I wake to more often these days.

How often do you feel grateful for your health?  Even if some parts of your body aren’t working so well, other parts are.  If nothing else, your brain is functioning well enough to read and understand a blog!  There are always aspects of health for which to be thankful.

That brings me back to my toe.  Yesterday when I awoke, the “pinkie” toe on my right foot was in terrible pain.

feet sticking out from under the covers in bed

“What?!” I thought. “I was sleeping! How could I have hurt myself sleeping?”

[To save your valuable time, I’ll fast-forward to the end of the story:]

We had plans for that evening (which I almost skipped), and my daughter and I decided to go out to eat first.  As I hobbled around the house getting ready and debating out loud whether we should go at all, my daughter shook her head and laughed,  “All this over a little baby toe?!”

He laughter abruptly stopped when she witnessed my inability to brake the car quickly (the fact that I was moaning out loud probably added to the effect).  I almost overshot the entrance to the restaurant, which was flanked on both sides by a narrow, deep ditch.

When she gave thanks before our meal, she included “and please keep us safe tonight and help us to get back home safely.”  This took me by surprise and elicited a snort of laughter that turned a few heads at the next table.  A little pinkie toe had my child fearing for her life!  Lol

We safely arrived back home that night, though pains were still shooting in my foot as I got out of the car.  When I stepped into the house, however, 90% of the pain suddenly vanished!  I was confused but very thankful that it felt much better for the rest of the evening.

This morning, I stretched slowly as I came out of sleep, but stopped short due to a jolt of pain.  My toe was hooked on the edge of a small fleece blanket I keep in the bed because I get so cold in the winter.  Aha, mystery solved!  I must have done the same thing the day before and popped my toe out of joint.  It must have popped back into place that evening, perhaps due to the sock or shoe I wore?

~~~~~~~

The bible compares the church to a body and describes how each small part (each tiny toe!) contributes to the whole body.  If one part is “out of joint,” the whole body is affected.

Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

~  Ephesians 5:23

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable

God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

~ 1 Corinthians 12:12, 21-26,

The scriptures also compare Christ’s body (the church) to being a family, with God as the Father.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

~ 1 John 3:1

The truth I’ve been reminded of this week, by my painful little toe, is that everyone is important and valuable.  Another person’s joy or grief should touch me personally, as we go along life’s path together.

Whether you are spending this holiday season with physical family or spiritual family (church members/friends/loved-ones), I hope you will treat each person around you with respect and love and that they will do the same in return.

 Wishing you happy holidays and a bright new year,

Merry Hearts Medicine watermark. MerryHeartsMedicine.wordpress.com

winter scene Happy Holidays

Childhood Misadventures Put to Verse

Here are a couple of the more lighthearted poems by my neighbors that I promised to share.  I hope you enjoy a chuckle from them!

I told my daughter “These are the kinds of things kids did to entertain themselves before they had all the screens and electronics.”

Bill

by Betty Ferguson

There’s a story that’s told
About a boy named Bill,
Who stuck his finger in a hole
In a tractor wheel.

old red Massey Ferguson Deluxe Tractor sitting in a field

To his dismay
When he tried to pull it out,
Oh no! I’m stuck tight
To little brother he did shout.

You see, Bill was always curious
And it would get him in trouble.
Then he would holler for little brother
To come running on the double.

But this time little brother said,
I’m tired; I think I’ll go home.
Bill began to plead and cry,
Please don’t leave me alone.

Now, little brother laughed,
He thought it would be such fun,
To leave Bill stuck tight,
Until the set of sun.

But along came Dad
With a special tool,
By a few quick turns
He released the fool.

Now the moral of this story,
And I’m sure of that.
It was curiosity,
That killed the cat.

 

Reminisce

by Billy Ferguson

Sometimes when I do reminisce
Of some of the days gone by.
About the things that happened then
That make me laugh or cry.
About the time I was herding the cows
My little brother and me
I thought to myself how to have some fun
With his little red wagon you see.

Jersey cow wearing a bell and walking down a dirt road

So I tied it secure to old jersey’s tail
And turned her loose to run.
Little brother hanging with all his might,
Boy was I having some fun.
But then she turned and to the highway went
As cars hit the ditch on both sides.
Little brother hanging for the ride of his life,
While laughter was splitting my sides.

Then about this time over it went
As he plowed up the street with his nose
I rushed to his side and I helped him get up.
He was bloody from his head to his toes.
When we finally got home with explaining to do
My story Mom wouldn’t buy.
I found it much better to tell her the truth
Not cover it up with a lie.

To this very day when I think of the time
When little brother took his most famous ride
His face and his nose were both busted indeed
But from the backside Mom took off my hide.

 

Time and Attention

Everyone grieves differently. One person might look at a friend’s grief and think, “It’s been a year, why hasn’t she moved on with her life yet?”

The truth is that when someone suffers a great loss, the hurt doesn’t go away in a month or two, even though the cards and visitors usually do.  Even the most sympathetic ear and the warmest hugs are gone within a few short weeks as friends and neighbors get wrapped back up into their busy lives.

~~~~~~~

I’d like to introduce you to my neighbor, Mr. Ferguson.  What a character he is!  In his long life, I think he’s never met a stranger.  The moment you encounter him, you are accosted with a barrage of good-natured jokes and gibes.  With a sprightly twinkle in his eye, he weaves tales that make you wonder at first what kind of crazy guy you’ve encountered!  Then, with a hearty laugh, he dismisses the stories:  “Ha ha!  I’m just teasing you!”  You never know what he’s going to say next.

That was the Mr. Ferguson I met several years ago when he and his wife moved into the house across the street.  Today, if you were to stop by to share a laugh, you’d look into eyes that, rather than twinkling in delight, appear red-rimmed and tired.  His jokes are now a rare treat, rather than a regular occurrence, because he carries the burden of the loss of his loving wife.

When we talk to him these days, the sorrow in his eyes tears at my heart.  Though we do what we can to help lift his burden (and though his family takes great care of him, too), we know it is still exclusively his to carry.  We do things like visiting him for a quick chat, taking him food, etc.  From his recliner, he can see our carport through his front window; so whenever we come home in the evenings and the bright motion light clicks on, our family lines up and waves to him, or bows, or dances a little jig.  These small gestures entertain him and distract him for a moment from his long days.

Though I’ve always highly valued our privacy and safety and never could stand to leave the drapes open after dark, we have gotten in a habit of leaving our living room curtain open in the evenings, just to keep a better eye on him.  He noticed and said it makes him feel less lonely.  He said he particularly likes it when he sees that we are still awake when he gets up to get ready for bed.  “I don’t know why.  It just makes me feel safer, and not so alone, I guess,” he told me one day.

I’m ashamed to say that our visits to his house have become less frequent over the last five months, but we make sure to sit down with him once or twice per week.  A surprise I’ve discovered over these months is that the visits are not just for him.  Spending time with him warms my heart.  It makes me count my blessings, let little things go, and hold my loved ones tighter.

Last week when I knocked on the door and entered his living room, his eyes were particularly bleary and red.  “What have you been up to today?” I asked.

“I’ve been sitting here crying,” he answered with his head bowed.  Then, he shared with me a thin, spiral-bound booklet his wife had made several years ago.  He said she had copies printed for all their friends and family, but that this was the only copy he had left.  He handled it delicately, and his eyes glowed with love as he looked down at the booklet.

“It’s all true, and it’s all straight from her heart,” he said as he extended it toward me.  I was almost afraid to touch his treasure when he asked me to take it home and look through it.

It was a sweet, thoughtful, and entertaining book, chronicling their family history and the loss of their adult son to cancer.   It also contained a variety of family photos, stories, poems, and anecdotes.

With Mr. Ferguson’s permission, I’d like to share one of her poems with you:

 

My Garden

by Betty Ferguson

I looked at my garden;
It was in need of repair.
I asked the master gardener
To help me with its care.

He said in place of complaining
Plant seeds of daily prayer.
Then take words of kindness
And sow them everywhere.

Where once there was doubt
Let faith take its place.
Sprinkle that with hope
And lots and lots of grace.

Charity is a must,
Meeting people’s needs.
Now fill these places with joy,
And edge it with good deeds.

My garden now is blooming.
Its fragrance fills the air.
To reap a bountiful harvest,
I must tend it with care.

~~~~~~~

There are a couple of funny poems in the book, as well, about Mr. Ferguson’s childhood misadventures.  I think I’ll borrow the book again and share those with you later.

One last note: Please, today, look around you more carefully than usual, find someone who is hurting, and share your time and attention with them.  You may make their burdens a little easier to bear for a moment, and you will be blessed as well.  This world is full of too much “ME” and not enough “WE.”

share time and attention

Delicious Deviled Eggs Perfected With Paprika, Not Pickles

Can you say the title of this post five times fast without tripping over your tongue?  It may be a tongue twister, but it’s true in my opinion.  I’ve heard multiple discussions over whether to add sweet or dill pickles to deviled eggs.  I say forget them altogether, and make sure you don’t leave off the paprika!

Paprika is often a overlooked spice: people usually use it as more of a decoration than as a spice.  Actually paprika can nice flavor to dishes such as chili, spaghetti sauce, or anything that would benefit from a mild bell pepper flavor.  A generous sprinkle of this spice on top of deviled eggs can change them from flat to fabulous.

six deviled eggs covered in paprika sitting in a plastic dish

These go so fast at our house that I had to hurry to get this photo.  By lunchtime tomorrow, they will be gone!

On Thanksgiving, I shared my mother-in-law’s mouth-watering recipe for cornbread dressing.  For the Christmas season, I was granted permission to share another of my family’s favorite dishes:  my mom’s deviled eggs.

These are so tasty that pretty much any person who has ever tried them has asked my mother for the recipe.

“Delicious Deviled Eggs”

12 hard-boiled eggs (Place eggs in cool water & bring to a very gentle boil. Cook 12-15 minutes, cool, & peel.)
5 Tbs. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 1/2 Tbs. regular mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
paprika

In a bowl combine mayo, mustard, salt, & pepper; mix well. Cut eggs in 1/2 lengthwise & remove yolks. Add yolks to mixture in bowl & blend well with a fork. Stuff mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle tops of yolk mixture with paprika.