Monday, December 26, 2011

Robert Fulghum

One of my favorite authors is Robert Fulghum,
                         All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Here are some reflections from 'the kindergarten man' ...
             things he learned after kindergarten:
- some teachers only appear later in life,
             when time and life experience make one receptive to the instruction
- there is no 'they', only 'us'
- you can get used to anything  
           (personal comment: sometimes that's good; sometimes it's not good; 
            much discernment needed)
- a well-lived life is always under construction
- what we have to say is less important than what we have to do
           "Be less concerned that your children do not do as you say;
             rather, be concerned that they are watching you ALL the time."
            (personal comment: not just our children are watching us all the time...
             so are our neighbors, our colleagues at work and in business, 
             the clerks and other customers at the store, etc. etc.)
- Never mind the credo, show me the life.

I find his stories and essays often humorous and usually thought provoking.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What If She's Right?

In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp suggests
" change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change." pg 61

What if the things we want changed in our lives, in the lives of others,
     can only come when we thank God for what is?
for His presence, for His provisions, for His peace, for His grace, for His love...

We pray the Lord's prayer,
....may Your will be done one earth as in heaven...
What if our prayers of thanks create pathways for heaven to come to earth?

Hmmmm....what if?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Transfomational Power of Thank You

I posted a version of this poem several months ago.
I am reposting an edited version because
    It's Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada.

I encourage you to make time at your family gatherings
to share things you are grateful for:
  - the obvious things
  - things we tend to take for granted
  - situations that beg us to grumble and complain ....
              find something in them to be grateful for
  - some situation or someone in your family heritage
  - etc. the options to be grateful are limitless,
               and might just change your life

       What If
by Charlotte Riegel   ©2011

What if life really is simple?
What if an attitude of gratitude
    Could totally change your life
 For the better?

What if saying ‘Thank You’
    For what you have
Led to pathways
    For things you need?

What if ‘Thank You’
    Is the key to unlock doors
        To a happier, healthier,
More satisfying life?

What if ‘Thank You’
    Is the tool to break chains
        That bind you?
Chains of depression
   Chains of addiction
      Chains of poverty
         Chains of grief

What if?
What have you to lose
   By saying ‘Thank You’?
What if it doesn’t change anything?
What if it changes everything?

Can you afford to take this risk?
Can you afford not to take this risk?

      “In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
                                                                                     1 Thessalonians 5:16

I would love to hear comments on how the family responded to the concept of
'radical gratitude',  on being grateful for things beyond the obvious.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Slime Bags

While walking to the mall today, I watched a slithery slime bag thrust his tentacles of abuse around a young lady. His vile venom repulsed me, even from a distance. My heart ached for her as she rushed past him and headed towards the bus stop. He sat against a fence enjoying the warmth of sunshine, chatting on a cell phone, and taking great delight in cutting the young lady who shared his home to emotional shreds.

She stopped at a bus shelter a few blocks away and I joined her to offer salve for her wounds. We were out of sight of the attacker and alone. Tears immediately flowed through nervous cigarette puffs and apologies for both.

"You do not deserve to be treated that way and you do not have to continue living in that abusive home.  There is help for you."  I continued to pour out healing ointments of encouragement and directed her to a hospital for the soul.

Please join me in praying she will seek the help she needs and be set free from the chains of abuse that enslave her.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Doing What I Can

I received a book from a friend recently.
She Did What She Could: Five Words of Jesus That Will Change Your Life  -     
        By: Elisa Morgan

After reading several chapters I needed to get on with the day and pondered, 'so what can I do?' while tackling household chores. Ah ha, I could walk to raise funds for a project in Nepal.

Though I cannot join my husband in his travels with a medical team ministering to disabled and disenfranchised/marginalized people in Asia, I can walk to raise funds for disabled and marginalized individuals in Nepal.

I will participate in a 5 km walk on Sept 24 in support of a building project sponsored by Samaritans Purse and Centre Street Church:

5 km may not seem like much but walking pain free is a blessing and a joy because 2 1/2 years ago I could not walk around the block without pain or without aides. This walk will also be a thank offering to God for restoring my ability to walk.

I would be delighted to have you sponsor me while I do what I can in support of people less fortunate than I.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When Someone You Love No Longer Remembers

When Someone You Love No Longer Remembers by Cecil Murphey, is a great source of encouragement to people watching and/or accompanying a loved one maneuvering the Alzheimer and Dementia trails.
The author shares a variety of experiences from families who have already walked this road. Their brief stories spotlight some of the bumps on that road, and ways around common pitfalls offering insights, encouragement and helps for those who love someone ‘who no longer remembers’.
Cec has included several aides for families and caregivers:
      • taking care of yourself
      • communicating with your loved one
      • exercise and activities for the afflicted
      • preparing for the unexpected ahead of time
      • helping visitors make their visit better for all
Illustrations by Michal Sparks enhance the message, making this small, hardcover gift book an easy choice for someone you know who could use encouragement for this difficult journey.

Released in July 2011, this Harvest House Publication is available at,, Chapters, and Blessings.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dumb or Boundary Pushing?

As I left the building from a meeting mid afternoon today, a glance at the sky put my feet into high gear. Two blocks on foot to catch a bus and a white wall slowly moving my direction from the east. Could I out walk that column of rain (my running days are history) and stay dry? It was much cooler than when I left the house several hours earlier so a brisk walk would not only hopefully keep me ahead of the downpour but also warmer.

When I left the house mid morning I debated about wearing a jacket and taking an umbrella, but decided on neither. The sun felt warm enough without a jacket and the weather forecasters often predict bad weather to err on the side of caution and then have everyone singing their praises when the day turns out much better than foretold. I was banking on it today. Alas, I was wrong.

A few minutes later I ducked into the bus shelter as the heavy, bloated clouds began to leak in spits. The clouds were moving very slowly so I remained dry even after disembarking public transit to pick up mail and do some banking. However, before catching the next bus home, the heavens opened, or tore, or tipped or whatever they do in such circumstances and, well, I was grateful to be inside a building, warm and dry. Fortunately, there was a fast food establishment in this little business complex and, since I had not eaten lunch, I decided to wait out the drenching storm.

Lunch done, downpour still down pouring...what to do? I slipped into the next door grocery store, grabbed a coffee and a newspaper to relax in their cafe area. The usual 1/2 hour summer storm dragged on and on and on. Plan B = call my son to come get me.

Perhaps next time I'll take a jacket and umbrella, or, maybe not.  Boundary pushing is interesting, challenging, sometimes dangerous, sometimes a lot of fun, and sometimes just plain stupid. For now, I'm grateful my son was available to help out in my time of need.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wedding Gifts

This is so well stated and reflects my thoughts quite well so I am reposting.  All credits are due to Robert Fulgham, my current favorite author.

It’s June and wedding time.
Weddings seldom match the realities of marriage.
Wedding presents usually don’t either.
Fine china, fragile crystal, and expensive silver are mostly useless.
And the high-tech kitchen gadgets don’t really work well or long.
If you get sucked into the bridal registry scam and go to the retail stores where the bride has picked her stuff, your reaction will likely be:
What is she thinking?
The groom doesn’t get to have a registry open at a hardware store, but a good set of basic household tools would make sense.
As a public service I propose a more practical and useful wedding gift package for the bride and groom. Things that will come in handy in times of need. Their parents have these things. But while a couple may acquire them over time, they will not have them handy the first time they need them.
These items will not be on the bridal registry.
And it may take awhile for the happy couple to fully appreciate the gifts.
But they will.
Note that each item on the list has both practical and symbolic value:
1. A bulk stack of all-purpose brown bath towels - not for the bathroom - but to mop up unexpected appearances of flowing water in your house.
There will be leaks - under sinks, around refrigerators and toilets and tubs, and around small children. You don’t want to use the good stuff you got for your wedding.
And there will be leaks in all your good intentions expressed at the wedding..
2. A high quality toilet plunger. Stoppages will occur. A coat hanger or a broom handle won’t help. First the plunger, then the brown towels.
Shit happens. Don’t ignore it. Deal with it.
3. A roll of duct tape. Things that should hold together will come apart. And if you use it right, what is fixed with duct tape will last so long and serve so well you won’t bother to get restorative repair or buy a new whatnot.
What works, works.
4. A 6-pack of tubes of Super Glue. Things break. And can be mended.
Like hearts.
5. A big bottle of Tabasco Sauce and a big bottle of Tums - solutions for any meal gone wrong. You can eat it and survive.
Mistakes are part of the learning curve.
6. A Whoopee Cushion - not to put under the seat of whoever gets angry over small stuff, but to put under your own butt and sit down on - hard.
Anger is hard to sustain in the face of a good, loud fart.
Laughter is the one tool essential to living well with another person.
7. A Swiss Army knife - a big one - to fix any small mechanical problem. Along with an ice pick, some clothes pins, and a hammer.
Most vexing annoyances can be addressed with the simplest tools, determination, and imagination.
8. A box of mixed band aids - you’ll never have them when you need them, though duct tape and Super Glue will also work. But only for guys.
There will be wounds. Bind them. Kiss them and make it well.
9. A serious flashlight. Unexpected darkness will happen.
The light of goodwill shined in the right places will scare away demons.
10. A bag of jelly beans, Hershey’s chocolate kisses, and a bottle of good wine, and a red rubber nose.
Foolish gestures of affection can fix what practical tools cannot.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it is my opinion that you can run a marriage without an electric fondue pot with a remote control and built-in music program.
But not without a toilet plunger.
The bride and groom will need and use this package of gifts, and bless your name when the occasion arises.
Weddings are fantasy-land.
Marriage is the real world.
Get real.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Snow - Bah Hum Bug

While my son dodges tornadoes in Tennessee,
we shovel snow
in April, May, June, July??
and dodge unexperienced or careless drivers
on snow packed, or slushy, or icy roads.

While people in Japan
dig through rubble, mud and debris
looking for lost loved ones, and begin to rebuild
their earthquake and tsunami ravaged lives,
we shovel snow.

While people in many countries
dodge bullets and grenades,
or flee their homes
because of rocket and rebel attacks,
we shovel snow.

The white stuff looks rather pretty today.
If I wait long enough,
it will melt from the sun's warmth
and I won't have to shovel snow.

I miss the spring flowers, the greenery on trees,
the spiritual lift that comes from new life in nature;
but today, I'll watch the snow melt,
say prayers for many who battle larger life issues than snow in spring,
and choose joy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today I am grateful for:
-         Some sunshine
-         Snow stopped falling
-         Robin song
-         People who shovel their sidewalks
      making an afternoon walk more pleasant
-         Ability and privilege of listening to an excellent essayist/story teller while walking, thereby challenging my mind for the stories and essays I determine to write
-         The reminders and challenges of the Easter story powerfully presented by the Worship and Arts community of our church, with their usual commitment to excellence
-         Hearing about God at work in Nepal and being given an opportunity to partner with a project that will empower disabled people in that country to reach their nation with the gospel; and, hearing amazing stories of how God continues to work through ‘the least of these’.
-    hearing how two medical professionals invested their lives in Nepal, planting seeds of hope, yet not seeing the fruit of their labors until now, many many years later. A lesson in perseverence.
-         Discovering why one of my ‘to do’ projects of the past week met obstacle upon obstacle and remained frustratingly undone…some of the material I needed for said project were delivered to me today, though the person doing the delivery knew nothing of all this.
     An 'ah ha' moment for me.

And the day is not yet over J

Monday, April 11, 2011


Recently, while out on errands, I passed a Starbucks and thought,
"hmmm, a coffee about now would be nice".
Then I remembered I had chosen to go off coffee
while seeking God's guidance in a particular matter. 
The designated time of my fast had not yet been fulfilled.
I passed Starbucks, with a longing sigh.

I'm not addicted to coffee; however,
this incident made me acutely aware
how easy it is to slip into Starbucks,
Tim Horton's, or some other coffee shop,
for an emotional fix...
something I've been doing with increasing regularity.

It also made me wonder if I slip into God's presence
for a spiritual fix
as easily as I slip into a coffee shop.

My original fast period has now expired
but I've decided to continue denying myself
the comfort of coffee through Lent
as a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made
when He willingly chose self denial of heaven
and all it's comforts, luxuries, and glories,
to share a season of His existence with us,
so we might might one day share with Him
in the joys of Heaven.

My temporary self denial of coffee
seems pretty insignificant in comparison.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Elusive Mate

You created me to fulfill him, to be his partner,
to encourage and support him.
I despaired when I couldn't find him.
"Is there no one for me?" I asked.
"I will be enough," You said. "Trust Me."
"Live for Me. Love Me as your mate."
A hard concept when I wanted someone with flesh,
with Your characteristics.
I stopped searching for him.
I relaxed, choosing to live a single life, cheerfully.
In time, I stopped longing for him.
I focused on You.
Then, You surprised me, with him, a man who trusts You,
a man who loves You, and me, unconditionally.
Thank You for this life lesson about attitude, focus, and trust.
It has served me well in other circumstances too.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


They did nothing to deserve being orphans.
They did nothing to deserve the love and lavish lifestyle
they now enjoy. 

My son and his wife adopted two little girls from Asia,
adding to their very busy household of 4 children.
Now they have six children.
Some questioned their sanity.

When I see the love they have for all their children,
it humbles me.
They are demonstrating to the world
what God's love is like
for those who are non Jewish,
adopted into the Kingdom of God.

We have done nothing to deserve this
yet we benefit from being part of God's family.
We enjoy His love, His provisions, His grace,
His mercy, His guidance, His comfort,
His wisdom, His protection, His inheritance...

I am grateful for adoption.