|I wrote the Together With God column for Capper Magazine beginning in Feb 2001.
Together With God is a feature column for the magazine that boast a folksy look at life and ends with a prayer of thanks.
Below are just a few I chose to show off. Hope you enjoy. Thank you for stopping by and taking a moment to read my work.
UPDATE --- May 26, 2011
The last installment of the column has been printed.
I didn’t start the column, a lot of fine writers penned it before me. Capper’s Magazine is over a hundred years old and though I am not sure when the column first appeared in the magazine, I wrote it for the final ten years of the magazine. It has been a honor and a joy.
August 2001- Arts and crafts (being creative)
Don’t you just love watching a TV show or movie where the lead character proudly announces that they do not own or watch a TV? It always makes me feel like they are scolding me for watching. What else is there to do? Hopefully, we are learning that there is plenty to do in our lives. It seems that life follows in stages of activities as well as stages of growth. When we are in our thirties and forties we are working hard at careers, raising families and finding our way in the world. By the time we are retired we are playing bingo, doing ceramics or taking classes at the local college in painting or woodworking or how to use a computer.
Being creative is not limited to our abilities, or our time availability. Creativity is available to all of us and may be used more than we realize. When you open that refrigerator door to stare at left-overs wondering what you will feed the family tonight and somehow put three items together to form a casserole into a fresh new dinner—you just used your creativity bone. So often we tend to think that only writers, artists and singers are creative. Not true, we all are.
Creativity is born from a need to achieve a particular goal like fixing something for dinner, or finding a schedule that allows you pick up one child from soccer while taking the other to dance lessons. We creative solutions all day long in whatever endeavors we are working. We teach creativity to our children when we teach them too rationally problem solve and find a different route to the same conclusion. We can’t help it. We are creative beings.
Father, Thank you for all the details of our lives and for giving us the ability to creative solutions as well as new and different paths to take on our journey through life. Help us to enjoy the beauty created by you. May we always find a way to make our lives work well and still remain in your grace. Amen.
September- Activities With Grandkids
Summer is a wonderful time to spend with the grandkids, and grandparents know how to make the most of those warm, sunny days. We don’t have to spend the money to go to the theme park, or take them on a vacation—we are the vacation! An afternoon sitting on the porch coloring, reading a book, or maybe some time spent in the garden showing our little ones the magic of seeds growing; it is all a great day because it is time spent with our loved ones.
There are so many choices. We can turn on the sprinkler and enjoy chasing the kids and the dog through the cool water on a hot summer afternoon. We can give the kids a disposable camera and see what they develop as photos. We can sit quietly and flip through photos of their parents as children, or give them a magnifying glass to look at bugs on the sidewalk.
Seeing the world through their eyes is one of the greatest gifts of being a grandparent. How many times as a parent did you drive past the local fire station and think that little Johnny would love to see that, if only you had the time? Now you do. As a grandparent you can make that stop and impress the children with those big red shinning machines. And remember, at the end of the day when all the activities are done they go home with their parents and we get to take our naps.
Father, thank you for the blessings of grandchildren, may they grow strong and healthy and very happy. Give us all the days you can so that we may reveal in the joy of being with them. Bless them and keep them safe. Amen.
Oct. 2008 -- Fall/harvest celebrations
I entered fall festivals in the search engine on my internet and up popped thousands of opportunities for craft fairs, festivals and fairs. Not surprising, giving the time of year that provides the perfect weather conditions for a gathering. Frost on the pumpkins, leaves turning colors, and crisp cool days when we can wrap ourselves in cozy sweaters as we walk around sampling apple cider and inspecting the blooms on gorgeous chrysanthemums.
Harvest has always been a time to celebrate and it’s not just due to the fabulous weather. We celebrate the end of summer heat, the hard work of bringing in the bounty and the abundance of our blessings. We rejoice for life, dance in the street, reward the efforts of quality canning with bright blue ribbons and feast on bar-b-que pork. Work hard and celebrate life, that’s what a fall festival is all about. That’s what living is all about.
Father, Thank You for our harvest, for all that you put before us. Bless the land you provided for us and the farmers of our world who work so hard to grow our food. Thank you for the times of our life when we can celebrate the hard work and the joy of living. Amen.
April 2007- Easter
Easter has always meant a celbration of life to me. No matter how cold or snowy or long the winter has been we can look forward to Easter. Hope lingers closely below the snow ready to burst forth in the promise of life.
We celebrate spring with all the excitement of new life. We splash color on eggs and on ourselves, as we dress for a special church service in our best Easter hats and clothes. Nature celbrates, too, with the promise of warmer days, and bright flowers that break through the forzen ground to delight us with their beauty.
There was one Easter I'll never forget. It was the first pair of black patent leather shoes I ever owned. I spent hours shining them with a soft cloth just to make sure they were the best ones in church. I was so proud of those shoes. They made me feel rich, important and special. I thought that no matter how old my dress was, at least I had a beautiful new pair of shoes to boast about.
When we arrived at Sunday school my friends were exchanging oohs and ahhs over new hats, new dresses and the like. I waited patiently for them --someone-- to notice my new shoes and to tell me how wonderful they were. Instead, I was disappointed that no one mentioned their spectaular shine. How could this be? I stuck them out every chance I got, posing and shuffling my feet so someone would notice their polised beauty, yet no one mentioned them. Finally, at the end of church as we left I pulled a friend and aside and asked her if she had noticed my shoes.
"Oh, yes, everyone noticed the way you kept sticking them out there. Too bad they are no longer in style." With that huffy remark she strolled away leaving me feeling once again like a poor little girl unable to keep up with the times.
Father, thank you for your promise of life that is renewed each year in the celebration of Easter, and also in the visual signs of spring. Thank you for the beauty of this world. May we always appreciate the warmth and glory of your love. Help us to remember that being kind, caring for others feelings never goes out of style. Amen.
January 2007- Winter Memories
It seemed to snow more when I was a child. We had massive snowfalls then, enough to make tunnels through the mounds of cold from one snow fort to another. If the snowballs were pounding down on us, we could slip out of our fort, go through the tunnel and come up behind our attackers for a surprise.
We also had another snow pleasure that is rarer for us as adults: the snow day. A day at home just because it snowed. Ah, those were the days. It's funny, isn't it, how everything changes whether we want it to or not? That's life. That's what we live for - the change, the growth, the experiences, and the chance to do it better next time. Change is not limited to just the things around us; we also transform, we grow and learn, and hopefully we become better people.
Even the snow changes. Once, there was plenty to go around for snow forts and tunnels. Now, I'm lucky if there's enough snow to make an angel.
Father, thank you for the childhood memories of our lives that help us muddle through the changes of our lives. Help us to accept the changes, and guide us to the next change. Give us courage to meet life head on. Amen.
May 2007- Childhood Memories
When my two older brothers were teenagers in the 1950's, my parents would rent the Odd Fellow's Hall on Main Street for $10 and throw a sock hop for them and their friends. Ten dollars was a fortune at the time, but it was a sacrifice they gladly gave to provide a safe event for the teenagers.
I had the best time ever, even though I was only nine years old. We'd get there an hour before the party was schueduled to start so we could set up chairs and tables, decorate with streamers and prepare hot dogs and bottles of ice cold soda.
I enjoyed watching the girls arrive in their party dresses all poofed out like balloons from the layers of crinolines.
One of my brother's friends hadn't had his growth spurt yet, so he was the same height as me, and he often asked me to dance. It was magical for me. I felt so grown up dancing with a high-school boy.
Those dances at the Odd Fellow's Hall are some of my happiest memories.
Father, thank you for all those happy moments that give us memories to reflect on for the rest of our lives. May we always find joy in life's simple pleasures. And bless the parents who make scarifices for their children's happiness and safety. Amen.
TWG November 27, 2008
I have a twin brother, Stephen, and when we were in third grade the teachers persuaded my mother that the best thing for us would be to separate us. Suddenly, we were no longer in the same class, and at home he was moved upstairs, to the big boy's room.
It was very frightening to suddenly be on my own. Fear came in the form of shadows that invaded my room at night. Lying in bed I could imagine all sorts of monsters, and the more I worried about those shadows turning into monsters, the more fearful I became.
My mother knew. She would sit with me in the dark, explaining every shadow, every noise, and every flash of headlights on my walls from passing cars. She stayed with me for weeks, until I was no longer afraid of the shadows. And as she explained away every shadow, she also explained to me that I need never fear because God was always with me.
At a time when fear seems to grow, remember that God is always there and pull those monsters from their shadows.
Psalm 118:5-6 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
Father, Thank You for caring for us, and for keeping us in Your care. Help us through the fearful times of our lives that we may always know Your strength is with us. Help those who still search for Your light that they too may feel the joy of being with You. Amen.
May 2008--Mother's Day
The skeptics argue that holidays are created by the card companies to increase their sales ratios but I believe that a need created mother's day. I remember as a child how exciting it was to have that special day to give something to her. That wonderful lady who took care of me every single day would soon receive a gift from me to tell her thank you and how much I loved her.
Mother's Day was usually filled with fear for me. How could I possible find a gift that expressed how much I loved her? Did such a gift exist? I doubted it. I usually picked out something that was very colorful and if feathers or beads were attached I was convinced it was worth far more than Rohr's Five and Dime would charge. Oh, the treasures I bestowed upon her throughout the years.
By the time I was a teenager I was trying the breakfast in bed routine, which is a nice sentiment if you can actually cook and burden on mom if you can't.
Mother's Day has always been a struggle for me trying to find the gift that would make her heart melt. I needed a special gift that would help her to see how much I loved and respected her. I haven't found the proper gift yet. I've written her poetry and drawn pictures but nothing touched the depths of love she gave me. Like the night she sat by my side because my nose wouldn't stop bleeding. Every time I turned she was still there, her gaze filled with concern and with a light touch she patted me back to sleep.
Have I ever accomplished my task? Will she ever know how much I love her and need her? I thank God every day that she remains on this earth and a vital part of my life.
Father, Thank You for mothers. Thank you for their comforting touches and encouraging words. Help us find the words to tell our mothers how important they are and how much we love them. And, Father, it couldn't hurt if you could whisper to her that I love her. Amen
February 2008--- Growing Up
Of course raising children today is completely different then when we were children, it's a different world. With each generation the world stops and a new one begins. I am from the beginning of the television era, my children were part of the Satellite generation and their children are in the technology revolution. Our world continues to advance further and further forward in knowledge and abilities. Teaching techniques as well as discipline change with each generation.
What I find amazing is that the core remains the same strong message it was when Jesus walked with us. Even if we are raised differently from generation to generation we are all taught the same quality message. Be kind to one another, love, believe, have faith and all will come your way eventually, and the most important message of all-we are not alone in our struggles.
It is sad that my grandchildren will not experience the awe that I experienced while lying on my back, on a summer's eve looking up at the stars, but then they wonder how it is that I have trouble understanding that a Blackberry is not necessarily a fruit. So, even with the differences and the feeling that one generation is missing the same childhood experiences from the other generation, I think we are doing well in our efforts to keep the message of God's promise alive.
Father, Thank you for our time in this world that we may witness the changes of each generation, and help us to keep Your message growing. Guide us with the nurturing of our children in this ever changing world. May we always feel your presence and strength in our lives. Amen.
July 2008-- Independence Day celebrations
Happy 4th of July! What a great holiday this is. Not only do we get to shoot off fireworks to celebrate being a united nation but we get a backyard bar-b-que, parades, and if you're lucky enough to live in the right place-a pie eating contest. I love the 4th of July and I love being born here than anywhere else in the world. I know I am very blessed to be an American.
When I was a little girl I would take off my shoes to run barefoot in the grass and my mother would caution me to watch out for the yellow-jackets. I want to go to a town picnic and eat a slice of watermelon so juicy it drips down my chin and gets sticky in my neck line. I want it to be warm enough that the afternoon baseball game bleachers are full but a soft breeze blows to cool the sweat.
This is a great country we live in. We do so because of all the men and women who serve this country. They won't have their backyard grills going, or taking a dip in a pool. Yet, it is their sacrifice that gives us such a glorious holiday.
Father, Thank you for this opportunity to celebrate our freedom and the pride we feel in being Americans. Thank you for blessing us with this great country. Be with our soldiers; give them hope during their darkest moments and joy in their victories. Protect them and bring them home to us that we may all celebrate together. Amen.
March 2009-- Surviving natural disasters
There are plenty of natural disasters occurring in the world today. It could be that the statement is true to more occurrences in today’s world, or it could be that our advanced technology allows us to be more aware of those that do occur. At any rate it can cause fear of the unknown, especially since there are plenty of explanations. Turn on the TV and you will see many documentaries on the occurrences and the speculations as to the end of the world. But remember, God has provided us a plan of action.
We have options for our preparations of any disaster that befalls our world. We pray. We protect ourselves as best we can from the floods, tornadoes, storms and destruction and then we pray. We pray for ourselves, our families and even for those we do not know that are caught in the path. Once the skies clear, we go out and help in any way we can. We roll up our sleeves and pull away the debris so that we can rebuild. We do that because we believe in the hope of a better tomorrow. We do it because we believe in the power of love for our fellow man.
I do not know why the world has turned violent but I do know that we have the power of God’s love to overcome any misfortune. We fight for our right to survive and we help others in their struggle. That’s what it is all about. Loving each other and reaching out to help. With that love we can survive all. It is His promise.
Father, Thank you for loving us and providing us with Your promise of love. May it always give us strength, courage and hope for the future. Give those that have been injured Your blessing. Help us to help others through the fear and discouragement of disasters that they may know of Your love and power. Amen.
April 2010- Volunteering
I suffer from mountainitis, a condition of being overwhelmed when staring at the mountain in front of me. I have found that if I do not seek to see the top of the mountain, nor think about the climb to get there that I fair better during the struggle. There’s an old saying that it is not the journey that wears on us but the grain of sand in our shoe; so true, if we allow it to be so. That’s why volunteering is so important in our world, helping others is really a solution to helping ourselves. We strengthen ourselves by helping others, enriching not only their situation but enriching our own.
I marvel at the reports of the youth of our world reaching out to help others. There’s a young girl in the mid-west that makes teddy bears for children hospitals so that sick children can find comfort. There’s a group of senior ladies who make quilts for the homeless so that they won’t freeze to death overnight. Everyone has a talent and an ability to help others. For all of you standing on the top of the mountain I ask that you reach out and help the fellow just below you. Pull them up; it is one of the greatest joys we share with each other.
Father, Thank you for the caring and loving volunteers of our world, please bless them with your strength and courage to continue their work. May their hope spread throughout this world until we are all cured of mountainitis. Help those who feel lost and alone know that we are all in this struggle together and there is hope. Amen.
May:2009-- Graduation Day
They call it ‘bitter sweet’ on graduation days all across America. It doesn’t matter if you are graduating from high school, college, boot camp, or summer camp, the experience is the same mixture of happiness at the completion of a difficult task, and the sadness that the people who have shared this experience with you will not go further into the future with you. Change is a hard task of life.
We get accustomed to our favorite TV program only to have it end. Neighbors that became friends still move. Change is part of our lives and the best we can do for ourselves is to learn to accept it and change along with it. When you are faced with an enormous change in your life remember the good times but let go, embrace the change and grow from the challenge.
Fear is the biggest stimulus against change especially when it comes to a graduation. Moving to the next level in life is a scary prospect. In high school you knew where to go, what to do, even who to be. Now everything is different and the uncertainty causes anxiety over the future. Now is when you need to draw on your faith. Trust that you have reached that point in your life when you are ready for the next step. Believe that you have received the instructions of how to be successful in life from your parents, your church and your school, take a deep breathe and step forward. The world is waiting on you.
Father, Thank You for helping us to achieve the milestones of our lives. Give us courage to embrace change as the natural next step in our growth. Help us keep You in our hearts with each step and remind us that fear can never own us, unless we accept it. Amen.