Friday, November 6, 2020

What I Am Reading Now

Hosea 6:6 captured my attention recently:

"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." 

I was reading the King James Version but my iPad let me quickly check a couple other versions:

The New International Version read "I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

The English Standard Version was "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

The marching orders throughout the Old and New Testaments speak to me that God prefers that his children show mercy and love rather than making a lot of public sacrifices. Throughout my life I have been surrounded by people who lavished mercy and love on me and others. 

With such a bounty of examples past and present, one would think an individual would be abundantly merciful and loving. But 
I felt that my opportunities for overt expressions of such diminished on Good Friday 2011. 

That was when a blood vessel popped in my brain right over where motor and sensory nerves bundled together before extending into the brain stem. Even hugging my children and grandchildren is a challenging process now. 

But God's work through our Savior Jesus Christ was not done with me. I finally realized that as long as my mind works, prayers and encouraging words are my route to showing mercy and love for dear ones near and far, as well as friends, neighbors, and strangers encountered. 

Sometimes I am privileged to learn of prayers answered. Even when I don’t learn of how my prayers are answered, I am certain that without fail one person benefits. 

That person is me. 

Praying for others has given me purpose and a sense of usefulness, thankfulness and peace. 

It has also resulted in the pleasure of becoming aware of and observing the strengths of character and the abilities of those I encounter.

May blessings abound in your life, too!



Saturday, September 12, 2020

Bridge Walking

Last year Hubby was helping me rebuild physical stamina through early morning walks on the high bridge over Biloxi Back Bay. 

Lovely views of the curved beach, beachfront homes and the yacht club with colorful sailboats spiced up what for me is a grueling uphill trek. 

Hubby made the trek doable by helping me go from the parking area up steps to the bridge and over to the concrete barrier that separates car traffic from walkers, joggers and cyclists. That barrier also helped me balance. I touched the top with my right hand as I walked.

Hubby walked beside me when I was feeling a bit off balance. And his conversation diverted my attention from the weakness that made me feel like I would never even make it to the one-tenth mile marker.

When I had gone as far as I felt I safe, he helped me cross over to the other side of the walkway. That side sports a metal bannister, perfect for holding onto. I could take bigger strides with more confidence as I headed back down the bridge.

In 2015, four years post-stroke, I had worked up to just past the seven-tenths mile marker. I was determined to make it all the way across and back, a 3.4 mile distance. But that same year 
I started falling. 

Physical therapy helped. Later that year I finally worked up enough gumption to try the bridge again. On my first attempt a brisk wind nearly toppled me. 

Fear reigned. It took awhile for me to move past that fear. Eventually Hubby and I started walking the bridge again, going a little farther each trip. 

On the days I felt steadier, I would release Hubby from nanny duty so he could enjoy the views or walk ahead. I knew he was always keeping an eye on me, though.
At some point I finally started making it past the three-tenths mile marker. It was slow but satisfying. 

Now, with an increase in the spasticity of my stroke-affected left leg and some other physical challenges, the bridge as a walking choice is on hold indefinitely. 

I am once again attempting to build up my stamina. Hubby is still getting me to other safe walking venues.

I am blessed with a spouse who thinks like a therapist and practices love in action.


Monday, August 31, 2020

Driving for Sanity

In late March, we packed a few diabetic-friendly snacks and went for an extended drive, the first of regular "sanity" drives. Even though things have opened up a bit in our community, the old normal is evidently long gone.

Travel, whether near or far, is essential to our well being, especially now.

Castle on the beach 

The exotic looking structure above was on a Gulf of Mexico beachfront just east of our town. My curiosity about the new structure, its owners and its story has yet to be satisfied. Don't you think it looks empty and a bit unloved?

Hubby relishes being behind the wheel and lately we both have enjoyed exploring roads that we never or rarely navigate in our usual routines. 

Rural roads and small communities north of our community are rich with satisfying experiences.

"Y'all" was a sure sign we were still in the Deep South. 

A lengthy drive down a rural road with few houses and lots of wooded acreage took us to a dead-end with a gated drive. A warning sign  imparted a clear message with a dash of humor.

That buzzard looks ready to feast on anyone who ignores that sign.

On one drive with snacks gone and appetites calling for lunch, we found a Taco Bell in a small town and joined the long line for drive-through orders. 

We retreated to a shady parking spot and chowed down on our fast-food feast. Ah . . . guilty pleasures.

Hubby and I enjoy Front Beach.

In May, we got one more visit to our town's Front Beach beside the Mississippi Sound. It was just a few days before the mayor ordered the beaches closed. Beaches are back open now, but temperatures are soaring.

Mississippi heat and humidity are limiting our travel right now to destinations with air conditioning or locations at cooler elevations!


Friday, August 7, 2020

Time Flies

 Computer woes, travel, doctor's appointments: I have let anything and everything keep me away from blogging. 

What I thought would be a week or so has turned into months. I am using Hubby's new laptop for this post. After finally successfully navigating to Blogger, I just discovered that that, too, has changed. 

I have missed everyone and am both hopeful and fearful about  what has transpired in your lives during my weeks of MIA . 

As I attempt to catch up with everyone, I am comforted that there is no distance in prayer. That I can still do. No computer skills required! 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

My Source

For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. Psalm 33:21-22 (KJV) 

These verses remind me that I have a source of certainty that I can depend on in the midst of all the COVID-19 uncertainties.

What comfort that gives me. My prayer is that you experience that comfort, too.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Keep Going

As Hubby and I have aged our motto has become "Go as far as we can for as long as we can." 

Walking our community's beach walk or our neighboring city's fishing pier is one way Hubby and I keep moving amid the shutdown and stay-at-home recommendations.

Weather challenges our "going" plans.

As we drove across the bridge on our way to the fising pier, dark clouds had me questioning whether we should return home.  

Hubby reminded me, "Let's go as far as we can for as long as we can." 

So we did. 

The dark clouds stayed on the other side of the bridge we had just traveled. 

We enjoyed the sea breeze, sunshine, our walk and the view.

May you keep going and experience joyful moments.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Garden Oops!

Accidental leaf lettuce

Hubby says I like to grub in the dirt. He is right.

I enjoy puttering around with vegetable gardening. 

Although the first year in our new home was busy with settling in and traveling, I did manage to start a compost pile.

Our home in the woods has few sunny spots. It is also on sloping terrain that is not friendly for navigating with my rollator. 

But going on our fourth year in residence, and with the days of cool weather slipping away, I was determined to get at least some leaf lettuce seeds planted. 

No space prepared? No problem. Just drop a few seeds in the compost pile. 

I was sure I could do that with my rollator within reach if I needed help maintaining balance.

I found a packet of leaf lettuce seeds at Walmart.
Back home I cut the top off the seed packet. With my rollator locked and within reach, I bent over to sprinkle a few seeds in the shallow furrow I had made. 

A gentle shake and Arghhhhh! 

All the seeds dumped out, every one of them. They were so black I couldn't differenciate seeds from compost. I scratched around a bit hoping to spread them out.

I missed.

Even after my awkward mishap the lettuce finally appeared--a 3x6-inch patch of bright green leaves. Although those leaves did grow bigger, they still fell short of providing the quantity we consume in salads.

But their contribution was beyond nutritional. I had actually planted and harvested something. And even better was  laughter that erupted every time I glanced toward the little clump that was my "garden." 

I will soon be ordering Red Sails lettuce seeds. No more mystery seeds!

September or October at the latest I hope to be planting lettuce again. And Hubby has been busy preparing a larger space for veggies. 

I hope "grubbing in the dirt," even as I face challenges, will continue to be part of my life!


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mall Walking

Sculpture created out of wood salvaged from hurricane debris

Edgewater Mall in our region has reportedly reopened. Prior to COVID-19, Edgewater Mall was a great venue for Hubby and me to walk indoors for exercise. Whether weather was hot and humid or frigid, the mall was always a good temperature.

Our mall walking will probably get back on our agenda when soaring temperatures and blood-sucking insects make walking outside a challenge. 

Then we will enjoy the mall's mild temperatures and comfortable seating areas that offer rest stops when my energy runs out before we make the full circuit.

There is also the entertainment of people-watching and art and photo displays that feature people, places and businesses that are part of our coastal Mississippi history.

The stallion in the photo above was created with wood salvaged from mountains of debris left behind by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Katrina's winds and giant storm surge ripped structures apart and pushed the debris far from the original locations.

In earlier decades, a Friday jaunt to the mall was a treat for our family. These days we walk and occasionally shop at the mall. But most of our shopping now is online or at Walmart. 

I wonder if our mall will survive. There are already empty spaces, and the days are gone of shoppers young and old thronging the stores.

The only other indoor mall on the coast closed a number of years ago. One store remains in operation. That company was not a mall tenant. It owned its site. The rest of the mall structure was demolished. 

Were there ever any indoor malls in your area? If there is one still in operation, do you shop there?


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Walking Songs #2--Acoustics

We are going on our fourth year in our downsized home.  

I love our acid-stained concrete floors. When we were planning our home, we knew the concrete floors and high ceilings would magnify sound. 

We proceeded anyway. 

We also knew that carpet or area rugs for sound aborption weren't an option with my walking challenges. 

We proceeded anyway.

Likewise we chose to limit window treatments, which also absorb sound, to our two bedrooms. We just liked letting the natural outside in through unobstructed views.

Friends and family suggested various sound absorption installations on the high wall that reaches up unadorned to our cathedral ceiling. 

But we had found the unbroken expanse soothing.

So we proceeded without changes anyway.

No surprise that the sound of my "walking hymns"  was magnified when I exercised with my rollator inside. 

I proceeded anyway.

I wasn't entirely heartless, though. When Hubby was inside, I did my joyful noise softly or silently in my head. 

He eventually developed a stealth strategy. He would get a cup of coffee and head outside with his laptop to one of our two porches. 

At first I was so focused on making sure I didn't drag my left foot and topple me and the rollator that I wouldn't even realize he was no longer inside.

Eventually I wised up. Now I check on his location. As I walk I can see him out there with his computer, a book or enjoying a snooze. He has the ceiling fan on in warm weather or is bundled in a blanket in cold weather. 

Seeing him on the porch is my go-ahead signal to unleash enthusiastic noise-making full blast.

I am thankful for Hubby's determination that nothing will discourage my efforts to maintain mobility. 

For now, that also means leaving the interior of our main living area as is, regardless of the acoustics. 

We continue to enjoy our "big room." It serves for food prep, dining, living well, and hanging out on window seats with our computers or watching birds and other wildlife. 

Right now weather is great for walking, so making my joyful noise outside is usually an option.

And since our home is nestled on 1.5 acres of wooded property, our neighbors' ears are safe, too!


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Staying Sane in a COVID-19 World

Staying sane in the COVID-19 world requires a bit of creativity. 

We are fortunate that our home and property offer soothing and interesting varieties of Mother Nature's handiwork. Sometimes, though, I just want to GO. And Hubby's itch to go is off the charts compared to mine.

I satisfy my itch to go with occasional Sunday drives with Hubby or accompanying him on runs to Walmart for fresh produce and whatever else we have on the want-to-buy list. 

I am in that group of elders labeled "at-risk," so we are extra careful. I wait in the van. He shops. My Kindle or iPad Mini keep me company. If he is a little longer than my attention span for reading, people watching offers a break.  

Pre-virus we had scheduled a departure date of April 29 for a driving trip out west. That date is long gone, and my love's patience has been wearing thin. 

Although his sense of humor is alive and well, he is occasionally emitting growls at the actions of the invisible virus and the limitations instituted as a result.

I'm not sure if the pix below is an example of staying sane or going looney. Hubby called me into the bathroom to share his re-creation of a meme that had made him laugh. 

That was during the week when toilet paper was flying off the shelves, and there were even reports of tussles over packs of toilet paper. 

Hubby's handiwork gave me a laugh. Of course I had to have a record of his efforts: 

Best wishes to all. Stay safe and stay sane.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Walking Songs #1

Since my physical therapist introduced me to using a rollator more than three years ago, walking with it has been my primary source of exercise.

It gave me more freedom and independence. But eventually my enthusiasm diminished. Unless we were traveling or walking the beach or some other area away from home, I was mostly bored. 

I had been counting my trips up and down the ramp from our entry-door landing to the end of the ramp and back again.

Or when weather was too cold, too hot or too rainy, it was around and around inside our downsized home. I also tried setting a timer. But eventually those strategies got toooo boring. 

My distance decreased as my enthusiasm and stamina waned. 

Then in a flash of brilliance--okay, it was really a spasm of frustration and desperation--I tried another strategy. 

I had been reacquainting myself with a couple of favorite hymns from my teen and early adult years. I had only relearned the first verses of a few, but I tried belting them out as I walked.  

Wow! Energizing! I added more songs. I have never been good at memorizing, but I persevered. 

Each additional song also upped my time and the distance walked. Now sometimes I even do two miles a day counting both rollator time of walking for exercise and rollator time doing regular activities like chores or, guilty sigh, getting snacks. 

The walking prepared me for a July 2019 camping trip where I even made it up to three miles in the campground one day. 

That has happened just once, though. I haven't hit even close to that target since then but that possibility is still calling. 

Of course, I am discreet about where and when I belt out my songs. The same hemorrhagic stroke that zapped my left side also affected the muscles for breathing. In conversation my voice is acceptable . . . I think. 

A generous description of my singing, though, is "a joyful noise." In reality it is a disturbing croak. 

But issuing forth with that joyful croak has renewed my enthusiasm for my walking helper, christened Rolly the Rollator with the help of some fellow bloggers. 

Bye for now. I have to go make some noise.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Joy in a COVID-19 World 1

 We were well into the virus shutdown when the words of one of my "walking songs" struck me with this sentence:

"Ever singing, march we onward, 
Victors in the midst of strife."

Wow. I latched on to that expression of God's promise to his children in scary times. That entire hymn had already become one of my favorite hymns.

But the encouragement I found in the idea of "victory in the midst of strife" also ignited my curiosity and sent me to Wikipedia. The melody of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" is Beethoven's "Hymn to Joy." Lyrics are a poem penned by Henry Van Dyke in 1907. 

What a blessing the entire hymn is for me in the midst of our world's terrible COVID-19 news and political strife.

Our Lord and Savior cares for his children. He showers us with blessings, even when we haven't asked for them specifically and even when we fail to recognize and acknowledge his care.

May you experience joyful moments today.

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee*

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect thy rays.
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, shining sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother
All who live in love are thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began.
Father-love is reigning o'er us,
Brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife.
Joyful music leads us sunward**
In the triumph song of life.

*Some words differ in various hymnals. The verses above are from the 1975 Baptist Hymnal, Convention Press.

**I always mentally change "sunward" to "sonward." It  seems more worshipful to me.


Hiking Trail for Me

On the handicap trail near Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Smokies 

On a 2016 camping trip Hubby and I were determined to explore a handicap accessible trail that we had noticed before but never stopped. 

Usually we passed by because the limited parking spaces were taken or evening and darkness were approaching.

The paved pathway was perfect for my navigating with the help of a hiking stick. The trail was also long enough to be a challenge, but  also had strategically placed benches.

My biggest problem was keeping my balance when trying to get my nose close enough to read the signs about the plants and history of the area. 

Happy trails!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Keeping Sane--Or Not #1

A couple of snapshots taken during recent escapes from our house for a sanity-promoting drive:

Handicap humor--I have seen this vehicle a number of times. I'm not am not acquainted with the driver, but  kudos to him or her.

Fog enshrouded shrimp boats and pleasure craft, but no alligators in sight

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Sign of the Times

Evidence of the disappearing printed page.

On a 20-day October 2019 trip, I was momentarily transfixed when visiting a Walmart's book section. No books; just clothes and other items. Sigh.

After  my 2011 stroke a friend introduced me to Kindle. The challenge of holding a book, keeping my place and turning pages with one operable hand was no more. 

I was sold. Ever since then my reading has been mostly on digital devices. Yesterday evening, though, I decided to reread one of my "real" books that somehow survived my downsizing for the move to a smaller home. 

About 20 pages into a novel I had enjoyed pre-stroke, I was totally engrossed. I finally realized, though, that I was repeatedly attempting to turn the page by swiping! 

I momentarily mourned the change in my reading habits. But as usual when I am reading a good book and get interrupted, the story pulled me back into the fictional world a gifted author had created. 

Life is good!


Wednesday, April 22, 2020


I tried to schedule a post for May 5 because I will not be able to post that day. Instead it went up on my blog today! Have no idea what I did wrong. Grrr! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Smoky Mountain Selfie

Early in an October 2019 trip I alerted Hubby that when he takes selfies, his concentration is so intense that he frowns in nearly every picture.

"Please smile," I urged. His response was a series of exaggerated facial contortions. Camera-shaking laughter erupted from both of us. There were no award-winning selfies for our traditional sign photo and thankfully no frowns, either. 

Fun in the mountains


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Walking Bonus

Confederate jasmine

Walking with my rollator is my favorite form of exercise and springtime offers a bonus. The fragrant scent of Confederate jasmine in bloom greets me at the end of my descent from our home's entry door to the end of our concrete ramp. 

My happy view at the end of our walkway.
The vines of glossy green leaves and pinwheels of white blossoms twine over the pergola. They tickle my senses of sight and smell as I navigate turning around and heading back up the ramp.

I am thankful for a contractor who was all in for collaborating with Hubby and me on ways to make our home a source of accessibility and joy for me with my challenges and for both of us to age with a bit of grace. We are especially appreciative in this season of disruption of our regularly scheduled activities away from home.

Even with a few bouts of frustration, so far so good!