Monday, December 26, 2011

Only the Beginning

My favorite part of Christmas is the afterglow.

I know folks who are anxious to take down their tree and put all the decorations away as soon as the last gift is unwrapped.   I prefer to linger among the ornaments and manger scenes as long as I can.  Once the hurry and scurry of the season are gone I often find myself sitting quietly with a cup of coffee and a leftover Christmas morsel in the glow of twinkle lights on a tree, listening to the familiar and beloved hymns of adoration. 

I pick up a treasured choir child figurine that belonged to my Grandmother.  She has rhinestone eyes, a perfectly shaped ‘oh’ mouth and a head that was glued back on 50 years ago. I cherish that figurine and the memories of Christmas cookies at Neenie’s table.

My eyes fall on the various ornaments that my children, stepchildren and grandchildren made and I stop to pray for them, asking God’s blessings upon them. 

I see a stray piece of wrapping paper that has not yet made it to the trash, and I am thankful for our abundance and the many gifts we receive that are not wrapped prettily with paper and ribbon. The intangible things of our lives.

I hold cards from friends and family who are scattered far and wide and I am in awe of such a wide range of people who are part of our lives. 

All these things and many more catch my attention.  But the one thing that I come back to again and again is the manger with the Babe of Bethlehem.  Placed intentionally where the shadow of a cross falls across it.  To remind me that the joy of His birth is only the beginning.  Lent is just around the corner…and Easter is coming!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Tale of Twenty

A twenty dollar bill.

Not a lot.

Not insignificant, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a lot of money.

That twenty dollar bill in my pocket was for my manicurist.  I have resolved several times this year to stop indulging in that particular luxury.  The money could be spent more effectively somewhere else, etc. etc. etc.  But I keep going back because over the course of the year, Lindsey has started talking to me.  For months, I could barely get her to look me in the eye.  She is painfully shy.  She is from Viet Nam and I occasionally have a difficult time understanding what she says to me.  The last time I thought I just was going to quit going back, she smiled at me and thanked me for being so nice to her. 

So I continue to go.  Really, it isn’t a huge sacrifice.  I enjoy the quiet conversation and getting to know her.  Her shy smile brightens my day and we have formed an odd friendship.  Many of the other clients are loud and boisterous when I’m in there, but Lindsey and I talk quietly and sometimes she will even stop her task and look me straight in the eye as she talks about something. 

The shop was very slow and quiet.  I asked if she’d been busy and she sighed and shook her head no.  Not busy.  She supposed that people were busy shopping for Christmas.  We carefully discussed a color choice and she said she was going to make sure my nails were extra pretty for Christmas.  She takes such care in her work.  I asked if she was ready for Christmas and she said no.  She said she was glad that Christmas was on Sunday this year, because she didn’t have to miss a day of work.  I’m sure she only gets paid for days that she is at work.  She had a worried, wistful look on her face.

She told me that she would go to Midnight Mass and how much she loved that service.  And that her family would all come to her apartment for Christmas dinner, but not a traditional American dinner.  Her eyes glowed as she told me how they celebrated ‘in my country’.  She said she misses her family back in Viet Nam during the holidays.

And so she finished the task and before I paid for the service, I slipped the  $20 from my pocket to her hand.  She burst into tears.  She hugged me and thanked me for being her friend.  She said I had no idea what that meant to her.

I paid my bill, wished her a Merry Christmas and slipped out into the parking lot that is full of evidence of the affluence that marks our side of town.  Tears ran down my cheek as I recalled a time…not so very long ago…when an unexpected $20 meant the world to me.  A time when I was a single mom, living paycheck to paycheck and not sure how I was going to afford Christmas for my children.

Oh, yes.  I remember. I don’t ever want to forget, because it is from that place that I grew empathy and learned to be mindful of those around me.  It was those days of nearly desperate need when I received such generous gifts that I learned what it truly meant to be grateful.  No,  I don’t ever want to forget those times. 

This past year has been one of uncertainty.  My Rocket Man lives and works in an industry that is quickly going out of business.  We stopped counting the number of friends who have been laid off.  I hear that 400 more jobs in our city will be cut after the first of the year.  The possibility of unemployment in today’s economy and in his line of work is like an uninvited guest in our home. My job at the Church House is  dependent upon the economy and the level at which people will continue to give.  It is always there.  Always considered in our decisions.  A fairly regular topic of conversation.

Through it all, we have been abundantly blessed.  However, I know that this Christmas may be the last that we are able to give at our current level. 

So while I’m able, I’m enjoying every minute of giving away those bills.  Mindful of the cutting back we are going to be doing in the coming year.  Staring down uncertainty.  I am not going to let that uncertainty take away the joy we have in sharing today, this month and this season.  We aren’t going to hoard what we have…just in case.  Rather we are holding our riches in open hands, sharing from our abundance and grateful for the opportunity to share.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thinking about Valentine's Day

I know, I know.  Don't skip one holiday and hurry on to the next, right?

But I'm already thinking about Valentine's Day.

Hearts and L-O-V-E and such.

It all stems from rushing The Rocket Man to the ER with chest pains recently.
And getting the very good news that while we don't know exactly what caused those chest pains, we have ruled out any heart disease.  Which is good, because his family history of heart disease is simply dismal.

I saw the film from the heart cath.
I talked at length to the doctors and nurses who all concurred that this man of mine has a pretty strong and good lookin' heart.

All of which I already knew. 
Only I was thinking of the other heart.
The one that I fell in love with.
That heart that
offers grace
gives freely
loves joyfully

The heart that risked hurt by loving again after being quite battered and wounded.

It is a heart of faith.
A champion's heart.
The heart of my hero.
And THAT heart-
the one that I fell in love with-
well, there's nothing wrong with it.

The other one, the heart that  is defined by its arteries and muscles,
that one is doing just fine, too.

It beats a lovely lullaby to me at night as I fall asleep with my head on his chest.
Drumming a rhythm that offers comfort and security and shelter.

Both hearts combine make one giant of a man.
My Rocket Man
He's my gift.
And I am thankful.

So I'm really looking forward to Valentine's Day with the emphasis on hearts.
I am going to love the stuffin' out of some hearts in my house!
Both hearts, the anatomical heart and the heart/soul of my Rocket Man.
I'm going to celebrate those hearts in February
and I can't wait!!

Think I'll go ahead and get started.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is this place even on the map? {and do you know how to get there?}

I must make a confession.  You know when you are driving and you realize that you might be off course.  Perhaps even lost?  And typically the male of the species is the one who will refuse to stop and ask for directions? 

That isn't quite how things play out in MolliWorld.  Odd as it may seem, Rocket Man {the uber-male who isn't in touch with his feminine side unless he's touching me, because I AM his feminine side} is the one who is most eager to stop and ask for directions.  I am the one who thinks she can figure it out and get where we are going with no help from anyone.  Give me a map and a landmark and by golly! I think I can get anywhere. 

I don't know why I am that way.  I will say on my behalf that I am pretty good with a map.  I have a good sense of direction and it has served me well.  I learned quickly in heavy traffic in Germany when I was a young bride and a map was thrust in my lap with the loud command to 'figure out where we are and how to get where we are going!'  And all the roadsigns were in Deutsch, which was not a language I knew well enough in which to be even considered illiterate.  What a pickle to be in while going 100 mph down the autobahn. In heavy traffic. At night. 

Anyway, I learned then and there to read a map-regardless of the traffic, light source or ability to read the roadsigns. 

Back to the requesting directions thing.   I don't even like to find a store clerk and ask which aisle the popcorn is on. I'll spend many minutes walking up and down aisles looking for a thing before I'll find a clerk to ask for help.  Muttering to myself if the popcorn isn't where it seems to me to be the logical place to put it. The Rocket Man, on the other hand, will ask before he looks.  He says it is more efficient.  Efficient-schmefficient sez me! 

That would be one of the differences in us.  He's always looking for a more efficient way and I'm often just out there for the ride. I'm pretty certain I can figure it out and find where I'm going on my own. Which sounds mighty independent for someone who for years considered herself to be fairly dependent and has to work hard occasionally not to be co-dependent. 

For the past 12 days or so, I've sort of felt like I'm without a map, a flashlight or directions. In uncharted waters.  Wandering.  There isn't a trail of breadcrumbs. And it is somewhat scary.  But I'm not scared, if that makes any sense.

You see, the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, Rocket Man looked at me and said he wasn't feeling well and he thought he might need to go to the ER to get it checked out.  He had his right hand sort of held where his heart is and we headed out to the emergency room with chest pains. 

I blathered on and on for  the entire drive, trying to be careful in traffic, but driving as fast as I could.  Do you have shooting pains down your left arm?  Are you nauseous?  On a scale of 1-10 how bad does it hurt?  Do you feel pressure?  What sort of pain? Even that unspeakable phrase, Do you think you could be having a heart attack?  All questions that I probably heard on  Marcus Welby, M.D. as a child.  Because I surely am not a medical professional and while I know a little bit about heart disease, certainly not enough to diagnose a heart attack. 

And I hadn't stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in quite some time, so that couldn't be it.

I mostly wanted to keep him talking to me.  Which was a good thing, it turns out, because when we got to the ER and they begin asking him all the same questions...he passed out.  The nurse immediatly hit him in the chest because he wasn't responding and she saw something on the EKG that was abnormal.. He opened his eyes and said {with attitude} 'What?'  Somebody called for a cardic alert and  brought a stretcher and people in scrubs were scurrying around me. 

I felt like they were moving at warp speed while I had slowed down to 33 rpm.  Someone said that his heart had stopped.  He was taken back to a room and outfitted with all sorts of wires, IVs in both hands, had blood drawn,was asked questions, monitors were read. Sort of like you see on TV, only without any commercial breaks. And with my Rocket Man as the star.  I didn't like it so much. I didn't like it at all.

I was right outside the room in the hallway, trying not to get in the way, with a clipboard full of papers they wanted filled out  I was feeling very, very alone.  And small.  Quite small.

I had already called my parents and asked them to pray.  I called my Annie to come get the Boys Fantastic who were at my house.  I texted my niece, Teri Lynne asking her to pray.  My phone rang immediately and it was Teri Lynne asking what was going on and about that time someone said to me, "he's having a heart attack" and Teri Lynne asked if I wanted her to come {she lives 85 miles away} and I said yes!  Come!  I called Rev. Boss and he said he was on the way.

All of the sudden, I was asking for directions to someplace I'd never been before.  It was like the part of my brain that thinks I'm big and I can do anything I want to do was in neutral and all that was engaged was my heart.  Let me assure you, my heart wanted directions and comfort and people who love us.

Within 40 minutes of the time he told me he wanted to go to the ER, Rocket Man was headed to the heart cath lab to find out what was going on under the capable hands of the cardiologist on-call.  And I was in the waiting room with Rev. Boss {who arrived just as they were rolling the bed out of Rocket Man's  room.  He asked if he could pray and the nurse said if he could pray and walk, because they weren't stopping!}.  Family and friends began to gather after they took him back and shortly the doctor came and got me to view the film.  The Rocket Man  had NOT had a heart attack {Thanks be to God}but they were going to keep him overnight after the procedure. 

By the time we could see the Rocket Man, the nurse commented that he must be very popular, there were so many people there.  He kept saying, 'that nurse punched me in the chest' until I told him he'd passed out.  He didn't quite remember that part.  He was perfectly willing to take my word for it.

We still don't know what happened.  We are in the process of seeing doctors and gathering information and taking it just a little bit easy.  You see, his father had his first heart attack before the age of 40 and died of heart disease at 62.  His grandfather died in his 40s of a heart attack.  So we take chest pains seriously. Thus far, we are finding out that the man is as healthy as can be.

As I sat beside his bed that night in the hospital, after everyone had left, I realized that I was in a place I always knew I could be...someplace I always knew I might have to go...I just didn't think I would be there that night.  And I looked at that face I love so dearly as he breathed in oxygen through the tube in his nostrils and was overcome with gratitude. I knew grace in that moment.  Grace so real I could almost touch it and gratitude flowed from my heart.

I am so thankful that he recognized that something was wrong and was willing to ask for directions.  Thankful that we got to the ER before he passed out.  Thankful that my heart-yearning to suround myself with people who loved and cared for us overcame my head's bent toward figuring it out myself.

Thankful that even though the circumstances were scary, I wasn't afraid.  I knew that this little lamb and my amazing Rocket Man were safe in the arms of the Good Shepard.

I've faced my own mortality and stared down some scary things in my life.  I live being 'off' and with whole systems in my body that continually stump the medical community.  I'm okay with that. That's me.

I haven't been quite so okay with the events of the past few weeks.  I'm getting there.  I understand that this is part of the journey of our lives.  This comes with being middle-aged and needing to know about heart disease and having affairs in order and asking people to make decisions for us if we are ever rendered incompetent to make them ourselves. 

All of that reeks of stopping at a gas station and asking for directions to me.  And I'm just not so good at that.  But I'm learning. 

So if you see me standing alone, looking lost and trying to figure something out...I might be getting ready to ask you for help.  And I'm getting more and more okay with that. 

Doesn't mean I'm going to give up my love of maps and figuring out which way to go.  Just means that I'm learning to have a head that matches up a little better with my heart.  Because it is just more effiecient and you might know how to get where I'm going.


Did I mention that my niece, Teri Lynne, dropped everything and drove 170 miles to be with me because I said, 'Yes! Come!' which I would NEVER have said if I'd thought about it for 2 mintues.  Becaue her husband is a pastor and they have an 11 year old daughter and it was Saturday night for-goodness-sakes and I know how crazy Sundays can be.  If you aren't already subscribed to her amazing blog you should go there RIGHT NOW and check her out.  She has a precious heart and she puts her money where her mouth is concerning her faith and love!  I may or may not be somewhat biased.

Huge thanks, as well, to my daughter...Annie-with-the-million-watt-smile.  She made a bazillion trips back and forth from the hospital to the house to get important things like comfy clothes, makeup, iPad, phone charger, etc. etc. etc.  How wonderful to have grown-up children!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh Yeah! I'm Tired {5 Minute Friday}

Its Friday, and while I haven't done it in awhile, I think if I don't write today I might burst at the seams and all of my insides might come out.  It wouldn't be pretty.  So, I'm going to jump on and set my timer for 5 minutes and write for the pure joy of writing along with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama.  We write with no edits, from our hearts.  The prompt today is:  Tired:


I am so tired.  Weary.  Dog tired.  To my bones. Burdened.  Tired.

I remember when my daughter was a baby and her Dad was on a remote tour of duty in the Phillipines with the Air Force and she didn't sleep.  Ever. AT ALL. I'mnotkidding.  In her baby book, I marked at 8 months when she slept 3 hours straight. That was the first time she had ever slept 3 hours straight.  It was during the day and her 2 year old brother was wide awake and a handful.  {Her brother was sleeping 8-12 hours with one feeding when he was 10 days old. She was quite a surprise. In fact, she's 31 and still doesn't sleep well.}  That year, I thought I knew what tired was.

I was wrong.

Tired is having grown up children who live on the west coast while you are in the southeast and who need you...and all you can do is listen and cry with them and pray.  Because you know they were never yours to begin with.  Those preschool boo-boos and predicaments that I thought were nearly insurmountable...HA!  Those were the easy days.

Tired is deadlines looming on reports about numbers in the church that have nothing to do with the real work of the church. (I am the Clergy Admnistrator in a large church and its time for annual reports)  But the bureaucracy of the church and its hierarchy seem to be very concerned with the number of bottoms in the pew and the dollars in the plate...not how we ministered to those people.  How do you account for sitting and singing 'Jesus Loves Me' with a drug addict, wracked with pain and needing a fix, who came in looking for help?  How do you put a number or value to helping someone plan the funeral service of the one they love most dearly in all the earth?  What place in the database form asks for the hours you have knelt in prayer for and with people in need? The tissues handed across my desk.  The joy shared in good news?  The sharing of the Gospel of Christ?  There isn't a spot for that on the form.  But I better report carefully the name of the person who did the last audit on the property.  Oh, yes.  I'm tired. {and maybe have a less than sterling attitude}

Tired is sitting up all night long in a hospital room, watching the man to whom you have pledged your heart and life as he breaths in and out...IV tubes running out of both hands, oxygen going into his nostrils and a monitor by his side charting his heart.  Watching that precious man with whom I have built a life while he sleeps, wondering if this is what life will be now?  Being a place I thought would probably happen someday, but not today. {inserted Rocket Man did NOT have a heart attack, but we were in the ER on Saturday night with chest pains and he had a heart cath run.  We aren't sure yet what happened, and I solicit your prayers as we go down this path of finding out.  He is back at work today and we have follow up appointments to try to figure out what happened and how to prevent it in the future}

Oh, yeah.  I'm tired.  But I am also resting in the arms of God that held me long before I was even aware that He was holding me.  I know that I can't do any of this in my own strength, but that I can do ALL things through Him.  And I have peace.  And the coffee is still good.  And the sun is still shining.  And the deadlines will be met.  And sometime next week, I'll take the Autumn decorations down and drag out the Christmas decorations.  But today...right now...I'm really, really tired.


That was more than 5 minutes and I didn't mean to color outside of the lines.  But writing all of that certainly made me feel a bit better and my phone rang 4 times while I was trying to write.  Guess that is what I get for writing at work.  I did come in an hour early and will be here late, if that counts for anything.  Did I mention that I'm tired?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Sexiest Man Alive

I heard today that a popular magazine had named some celebrity The Sexiest Man Alive, as they do every year.  I had never, ever heard of this man.  I wouldn't know him if he walked into my office and handed me a dozen roses.

What does this say about me?  Obviously, I am not up on my pop culture, celebrity knowledge or who's who.  I think it could mean that I have squarely planted both feet in middle age.  I'm at that place where we used to say, 'if the music is too loud, you are too old.' 
Yep.  That's me.

I decided to pay tribute to my own selection of
The Sexiest Man Alive
MolliWorld style. 
And this year's
{and every year's}
 man is....
{drum roll, please}
...the amazing
Rocket Man

For myriad reasons...

...that winning smile...

...the look that accompanied the threat to disable the camera
on my phone if I took one more picture...only he didn't :)
...he bought me the camera, even though he doesn't like
having his picture taken...

...but was willing to ham for me when I'd had a full day of unpleasant
medical tests and was near tears....

...the man who displays patience with so many things...including launch delays...

...and this...THIS...sitting with me through thousands of miligrams of
solumedrol infusion, offering a smile, always watching over me...

...the way he loves our grandsons,
 not his by DNA, but his in love
and nurture...

...his varied interests, including old pocket and wrist watches...

...and Muscle Cars {he's inside the front of a
'65 Mustang that he is restoring}...

...who doesn't shave on vacation because he knows
I like the fuzzy look...

...the man of my dreams...

...who laughs with me and shares a thousand secrets...

...who genuinely loves spending time with my parents...

...who prays...

...who holds me...

...and lets me hold him...

...this man who said, 'I do' and he meant it...

...a man with deep faith, even though he doesn't always  express it in the same
ways as I express mine...

...this man, this Rocket Man who rocked my world...

...and after over a dozen years, still looks sat me with love...

This is the sexiest man alive!


Friday, November 11, 2011


A grateful thanks today, given with humble heart at the
sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces 

Today, I honor my family members who have served
To my Sweet Daddy, Bobbie Buster, who served in the Korean Conflict.
To my ex husband, Ken McFetridge who served in the Air Force over a span of 2 decades both on active duty and in the Air National Guard. Ken supported the no-fly zone over Bosnia as well as serving in dangerous durg interdiction in the continuing war against drugs. 
 To my son, J McFetridge, who served during the War in Iraq and is now a disabled vet. 
My brother, Terry Buster who served during Viet Nam. 
My brother, Rob Buster who saw action in Macedonia and who served as career soldier. 
To my former father-in-law, Jim Lambirth, who served in the Marine Corps during Korea. 
To my former father-in-law, H.D. McFetridge, who also served during Korea.

To my grandfather, Malcolm Younger, who served as a Chaplain in WWII.
To my cousin, Mike Spencer, who served in the USAF.
To my nephew, Sherman Buster, who also served during Iraq and lives with a disability.
My great-uncles, Bob and Gene Austin, who served in the Navy during WWII. 
To thier brother, my great-uncle, Charles Austin
who served in WWII and who served as a career sailor. 
To my,other great uncles; 
Uncle Dude, Uncle Ralph and Uncle Frank Younger
 all who served in WWI. 

To Rocket Man's grandfathers,
Robert L.Osteen and Ed Massey, Jr.
who served in WWII.
To his uncle, Jerry Massey, who served during Korea. 
To Annie Massey who served in the Navy. 

To all of these, my family members,
I am grateful for your service. 

Many are no longer with us,
but to those who are...a heartfelt thanks. 

From the bottom of my heart

Thank you for serving.
Thank you for leaving such an amazing legacy. 

It is my prayer that when the time comes,
The Boys Fantastic
will look back at your example
and be willing to serve
if our country needs their service.

To my many friends who have served,
thank you, as well.

It is a day to remember.
A day to be grateful.
And I am.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Some things just don't jive

I'm finding myself in a funky mood today.Out of sorts with so many things. Nothing seem to jive.  You know this feeling?

I could give you a million reasons excuses, explanations. I won't bore you with them. Perhaps I ought to just go in a closet and stay until I'm all better. Not really a viable option.  Besides, our closet space in Camelot is not sufficient for all the things stuffed into the closets and me, too. 

This morning I read (and cried through) several blog posts from Compassion International.  You see, there is a group of bloggers on a trip to Ecuador and they are writing about the poverty there.  The pictures of the children are heart wrenching.  In a way I didn't expect.  They have such hope in their eyes.   And it takes so little from our abundance to help them.  Compassion is doing such good work for the Kingdom, but there are so many children who are waiting to be sponsored.  And those pictures tug at my heart.

That made me think about the child we sponsor in Kenya.  Our Grace who is 7 years old.  We received a letter from her yesterday and I was undone.  She thanked us for loving her.  For praying for her.  Asked that we pray she will do well in school and assured me that she is listening to her teachers.  She wants to be an accountant when she grows up.  Then she said she prays for us every day.  Imagine, a child named Grace in a village in Kenya praying for us. 

Then, I clicked on the news to see what was happening in the world.  And I saw one story marked urgent.  And it was a piece about whether or not a football coach at a university should resign now or retire at the end of the season. 

Seriously?  With children dying by the thousands daily around the world of diseases that are often preventable?  And this is the news piece marked URGENT!

I have a soundtrack which plays in my head. {You do that, too, don't you? Have a soundtrack and if you listen to it, you can figure out what sort of a mood you are in? Please don't tell me I'm the only one} After reading the blog posts and the news, I realized that my soundtrack was spinning away.  I was hearing a song from the 1960s, recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. 7:00 O'Clock News/ Silent Night.  It fits my mood today.

Do you know this piece?  I've linked it below.  Seems like it sort of fits the world today.  Protests, demonstrations, the world turned upside down...yet people going to help and live for a week among the poorest of the poor.  Bringing hope and stretching our ideas of love.

I pray that I never grow too content, too settled, too wrapped up in my own world that I fail to see what really matters. And I pray that these funky, unsettled moods prod me on to be open to giving to those in need. Whether it is a precious child in Kenya whose family needs our support just to exist, or a wealthy man who is in need of a smile. Everyone we meet has great and deep needs.  I pray that my notions of love never become rigid and unable to be stretched. 

I pray for grace.  And for Grace.  That, my friends...that jives!


Friday, October 28, 2011

I Will Never Forget

Rocket Man and Ares I-X, October 26, 2009
Two years ago, we were at Cape Canaveral for the launch of Ares I-X.
Rocket Man and his team had a part in that historic launch.  Walking that journey with him was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. 

Mission Patch

The year before the launch, while they were building the Roll Control System (RoCS), he worked about 5 months straight, taking off only Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  He worked long, long days and tossed and turned those short nights trying to solve problems.  I realized early on that if I wanted to see him, I needed to go to work with him on the weekends.

Thus began my involvement in the project.  Early every Saturday morning that fall, I got up and packed a bag of things to occupy myself and joined him as he headed toward the shop.  We'd stop for a biscuit and coffee on the way, and I would get my V-badge and settle into his office for the day.

I rearranged the pictures on the wall that fall.  I sorted through piles and piles of things. I walked the shop floor with him and learned to know the very talented machinists who actually made the parts that were going to fly.  They named me the shop mascot and were all so very kind to explain what they were doing and how the machines worked.  It was fascinating.

I suited up and followed him into the clean room to check progress.  I held pieces of history in my hand  I even handed over my debit card once so Rocket Man could order some bolts that needed to be shipped overnight.
 (come to think of it...I never got reimbursed for that. 
I had an investment of time and $100 in the project!)

In January of 2009, RoCS shipped to the Cape and Rocket Man went down to oversee the assembly of the unit to the rocket.  I felt like we'd sent a child off to college.

Then, the waiting began. 
 And the date slipped from spring to summer to fall. 
And we waited. 
And other projects were completed. 
And we waited.

Finally, the date of October 27 was set and we were going full-speed ahead.  Until I got the bad news that I needed to have surgery on my back.  You never saw anyone more determined to recover than I was.  4 weeks and 2 days post-surgery, I was on a flight headed to the Cape to meet up with Rocket Man for the launch.

Rocket Man waiting for the final countdown

It didn't launch on the 27th.  But, by golly...on October 28, 2009 at 11:30 in the morning, that rocket fired and launched!  She flew true.  Ares I-X did everything she was designed to do.  It was exhilirating and awesome.  As I write, remembering the emotion I felt, I'm in tears...again.

T minus four and holding

Two years later, we sit with a space program that seems to be lost.  The last Shuttle has been retired.  Constellation became Cancellation.  The current administration has put a choke hold on NASA and all the work that went into Ares I-X seems to be for naught. 

Receiving well-deserved thanks from very important people

 I am honored that the amazing Rocket Man has invited me to attend the Ares reunion with him today. Many of the team will assemble, raise their glasses in a toast to their accomplishment and talk about that glorious day that went mostly unnoticed by the general public.  That day when our pride exploded from the launch pad and flew high.  That day.  That glorious day.

I don't forget. 
I will never forget.
I will tell and retell to my children
and my nephews
and my nieces
 and my grandchildren.

I will tell the story to anyone who will listen.
It may never be more than a sentence in a book
 that someone writes
and a few read
 about space history.

To me, to many of us, it was a day that we experienced something
 larger than life
something bigger than any one person.
Something that was fashoned from a dream,
 designed, engineered, built, tested, assembled and finally launched.

And it worked!
I held the hand of one who helped make it possible.
And joined hands with many who were involved.

Sunset on that glorious day

The memories have become bittersweet, but I will not forget.
I will never forget.


You can see the post I wrote the night before the launch here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lift. Tone. Burn.

You remember I told you about my Pure Barre class? 
The one without the tutu?
Yeah, that one!


It is kicking my butt. 
 Big time.

And to add insult to injury...
yesterday, the 8 1/2 months pregnant woman in class was doing better than I was.

But I was there. 
That has to count for something. 
Especially since the class started at 6 a.m.
Before I had coffee.


I'm going back today after work. 
That ought to be a whole different experience. 
Wide awake and taking the class. 


In all  fairness, I am asking my muscles to do things they have not done--possibly ever. 
And I notice that Sally O'Slim and Fitness Barbie are leaving the classes winded as well. 

It is an intense workout.

Here is how I feel while I'm doing it.

Who knew that holding your leg in an unnatural position while on your tippy-toes and squeezing a hateful red ball high up between your thighs for {just} 20 more seconds could be such torture?

I didn't know before, but I sure do know now!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

You had me at Hershey Bar

Long ago and what now seems like in a galaxy far, far away…this man and I were sort of flirting with possibilities. A skittish friendship had evolved into long, soulful talks and clever emails. He was my Sunday School teacher in the Singles Class. He had been single again much longer than I, and our friendship began with his listening ear and calm encouragement.

His workplace was just across the street from mine and if we each looked out our windows, we could see the very same fountain. The Braves {his team} and The Cardinals {my team] were in the playoffs and there was much playful banter between us {Braves won that year, only to lose in the World Series}.

On Halloween, he sent me an email invitation to come and help hand out candy to the neighborhood children with him. 

I replied that I would be glad to…but only if he had good candy. He immediately responded that he had Twix, Reese’s Cups and Snickers.  My answer was mighty cheeky, for someone who thought she *might* actually be developing a crush. I reckoned that was sorta-kinda good candy.  If he wasn't going to have Hershey Bars with Almonds.

We agreed upon a time and I told him I would walk over to his house, which was about 5 blocks from mine. He met me at the door with a huge grin and one hand behind his back. He pulled that hand out and placed in my hand a Hershey Bar.

Then, he offered an apology. He had stopped several places on his way home and NONE of them had Hershey Bars with Almonds. Would a plain Hershey Bar do?

Do? Would it do?  I’ll say! Oh, yes sir!  It would do!

He had gone to remarkable effort to get me what I said I liked and then apologized that he had come up short. The rest of the night is somewhat of a blur.

I recall that I helped his 7 year old remove her costume makeup and she sat in my lap as we went through her stash of candy. I remember that ‘Rocky Horror’ was playing on the Comedy Channel {and I’d never seen it…quite the first movie to watch together with a 7 year old sitting in between you}.

I remember that his parents came in from Memphis about the time he put his girls to bed, so we had a different generation of chaperons. I think that they were very surprised to find a woman sitting on the couch with their firstborn. Who had said, by the way, that he would rather eat dirt than ever to be married again. Often and loudly, from what I am told.

I remember that at about 10:00 o’clock, he told his folks that he was going to drive me home and we sat on my front porch until 1:00 am, just talking. About all sorts of things. And nothing. Just talking.

When I told my best friend that I thought I could be falling in love…she cautioned me against falling for something as small as a candy bar. I think she said I ought to hold out for more. She was going through a nasty divorce and was perhaps a wee bit cynical.
Fast forward a decade and a half. That 7 year old is now in her 20s and is my hairdresser. The Candy Bar Man {aka Rocket Man} and I have been married for 13 years. And recently…he came in the house and handed me a plain Hershey Bar.
Which, he said, he had bought from a man who was selling them to try to have enough money to keep from being evicted.  The man had lost his job and was desperately trying to raise some funds to pay his rent. He’d bought a box of the chocolate bars and was asking for donations in exchange for a bar. My Rocket Man gave the man the $5 he had in his pocket and prayed for the man and brought me the sweetest Hershey Bar I have ever had.
You see, Rocket Man’s generosity to me in the form of a candy bar was just the tip of the ice burg. He is as frugal as anyone I have ever met {except maybe his mother} but he is generous and giving beyond belief. He is industrious and good at what he does in his Rocket World and he is compensated well for that. But he lives his life with eyes wide open to see the needs of others and is always willing to help. Always.
And while he had me and my heart at Hershey Bar…he continues to hold my heart with his amazing generosity of love, life, family, laughter, tears, trust, loyalty and yes…even the occasional Hershey Bar. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Dream Come True...sort of

When I was a little girl, wanted to be a ballerina.
Or at least wear the leotard, tights and oh! my! A tutu.

That was long before there was a dance studio on every corner and it was considered a right...the same sort of right as public schooling and use of the highways...for every little girl to take dance.

I don't believe I knew a single, solitary person who 'took' dance when I was growing up.

That wasn't the point. I had paper dolls who had ballet costumes and I spent hours and hours and hours folding the paper tabs down to hold a Swan Lake costume that my mother had meticulously cut out onto this or that paper doll.
I loved my paper dolls and I played with them a lot.

I wanted to be as beautiful as those one dimensional, cardboard figures.
And graceful.
And wear a tutu.

Didn't happen.

 By the time I lived where dance lessons were possible, I was also the mother of two. And my daughter didn't care for the dance lessons I signed her up for. We only did that one semester. She tapped to "The Good Ship Lollipop" in her tap shoes, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. And she didn't really like it. She was much more into playing softball. *sigh*

While there are dance studios in my town that offer adult dance lessons, that dream has sort of faded over the years. I'm not the disciplined type. I'm short. I have a bad back. And, let's face it...I'm on the heavyweight side of chubby. And I'm not necessarily graceful.

However, this morning, I'm going to take my first class at Pure Barre. This is an exercise class that combines elements of ballet, yoga and pilates. I'm told it is very good for developing and strengthening core muscles. It is low impact (good for my back). I'm praying that it will help relieve some of the chronic back issues that I have been experiencing. Fervently praying.
Because one of the options on the table is spinal fusion
and I just don't want to go there.

So, I'm readying myself to go across the street and join a class (I'm not a joiner) where I will be in a mirrored room, holding onto a barre.
I'm sure I will be inflicting pain on my well rested muscles Although I walk 3 times a week, I doubt that my abs are aware that I consider this to be substantial exercise.

Unfortunately...there isn't a tutu involved.


I finished the class and am proud to say that I tried to do everything they asked.  It was upbeat and INTENSE!  I'm talking major kicking of my butt.  And I'm going to go back.  However, I need to go back with the disclaimer that some of the muscles they wanted me to use left the premises back in...oh...1978 or so!  I think you can see pictures of those muscles on the back of milk cartons. 


Friday, October 7, 2011


Its Friday and one of my favorite things in the blogosphere...5 Minute Friday over at The Gypsy Mama.  Where we set a timer, write for 5 minutes on a specific topic with no rewrites, no edits.  Just words pouring from our hearts through our fingers onto the screen.  Sometimes its raw, oftentimes poignant, always a good exercise. 

The prompt:  Ordinary
Timer set...Start!

Ordinary.  How I love it.  Those things that are so familiar and worn that they exude comfort...those ordinary things:  The flannel sheets {coming to our bed this weekend}, a favorite towel, Rocket Man's shirt that I bought for him before we got married {and it is so ratty looking} that he loves to wear...and his smile when he puts it on and still thanks me several times a year for buying it for him.  My grandmother's dishes.  A beloved recipe. 

A Hershey bar, pulled out of Rocket Man's backpack last night and handed to me with that smile and a wink.  All these years and he remembers.  Still winks.  Still pulls me to him and says words that he says over and over, 'How's my pretty girl?' 

The old quilt. The passing of the seasons, one into the other.  The prayers said over and over again for those who mean so much to us. Ordinary, everyday things that I cherish.  But somehow, the more I cherish them, the more they become extraordinary. 

Our life is certainly not one of glamour, fame or fortune.  But in our ordinary life, doing our ordinary things, we serve an extraordinary God and even the ordinary can become an act of worship.

Ordinary tasks like laundry, dish washing, sweeping, walking the dogs, making the bed, etc. become acts of praise and worship when given to God and done with praise on our lips and gratitude in our hearts.

Oh, how I love the ordinary we live in.  And the God who takes our ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

{confession...over 5 minutes today, but I had a spell (long story, goofy medical condition) in the middle and lost myself.  I guess I lose a letter grade for going over???  Is there grace for such?}