Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jesus surrounds ESU

My daughter Laurel graduated from high school, as Grad Images so kindly reminded me via the USPS recently with this opportunity to purchase these pictures in her cap and gown (as if I hadn't already filled all of the memory in my phone with pics of her at various graduation events).

I am excited about Laurel going to college this fall, especially since her brothers chose the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard. This will be my first time paging through the summer Bed Bath & Beyond circular and actually needing to purchase a cute shower caddy, XL twin sheets, and a turquoise trash can!

I have been concerned, though. I went to Tabor, a Christian college (which my husband, Dave, who also attended, often compares to a church camp, and in some aspects, he is right). She is going to Emporia State University, a secular school.

I want her to grow in her Christian walk, and I want her to be in the center of God's will.

At the last ESU campus visit day different clubs set up booths. I made sure we visited the Baptist Student Union booth. I met the director and was pleased he knew David Mitchell, our pastor. Since then I have learned that several of Emporia's BSU students are serving overseas on mission trips this summer, another plus in my book.

On our first visit our sophomore tour guide pointed out a house by campus that another Christian group uses every Friday to serve spaghetti lunches. She said she never missed, and it seemed to be a popular event.

So I was feeling a little better about sending my girl to live among the wolves (actually, hornets. "Stingers Up!").

Then one day a postcard from the university caught my eye. In big letters it said "ESU." E-S-U. Why did that sound so familiar?

It hit me. Put a "J" at thr beginning, add an "S" at the end. J-E-S-U-S. Jesus surrounds ESU.

Yes, God is everywhere. There is no place that we can run from his presence. Still, I made this sign to remind me that when my girl is away at ESU, Jesus will be all around her.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

River Fest Posters

Dave and I have gone to the Wichita River Festival since before we were married. I  love looking at the past festival posters lined up along Century II.

1988 was our first. It had a colorful bird-like design for the poster with a white background (I will have to check if they have earlier ones further around the building). I blew off studying for mynfinals at Tabor College and we spent the entire day sunning on the riverbank watching the bathtub races.

1991 was fun because I was married and working as a student in WSU'S University Relations department, and we were in charge of an event called Talentfest.

1993 was memorable because it had record-setting rainfall during the festival, and ironically, the theme was "Splish, splash, a springtime bath," or something like that and the poster featured puddles. Dave's grandpa was sick in the hospital during that time, but we were able to attend our favorite events, and the festival had wrapped up before he died on May 22 (that's when it was earlier).

In 1996 Dave, baby Caleb and I had a picnic on a hill in A. Price Woodard Park for my very first Mother's Day.

In 2005 we entered a float with our friends at the Twin River Club. The poster featured a mermaid, and Marcia Hatfield happened to have a mermaid costume that her daughter Emily had outgrown, so she offered it to Laurel. Why yes, she would love to be a mermaid in the Sundown Parade!

Thursday, May 31, 2018


I am a mother-in-law. I have been since February 15, and I am thrilled.

Harrison and Olivia started dating a few months before he left for the Coast Guard. They continued their relationship through AT&T, which required a hefty upgrade to our phone plan when he was stationed on a ship in international waters for three months.

In December, when Harrison learned he would be stationed in Astoria, Oregon for the next three years, he wanted her to join him, and she did.

My friend Barbara says her mother-in-law Lorie Rumsey always referred to her as her daughter-in-love. I love that! I am tempted to adopt that as well, especially since I knew and loved Lorie Rumsey as well, and would love to do that as a tribute to a truly great lady.

Still, I am reluctant to give up the "law" part of the title. I am happy that my son is so committed to caring for Olivia that he made it official. I am happy Olivia loves him so much she gladly took his name and followed him halfway across the country to share in this great adventure called marriage.

Whenever they post pictures of them on their frequent mountain hikes or seaside strolls, they have huge smiles on their faces. It makes me so happy to see them enjoying being together and taking advantage of living in such a cool place.

I love my son, but I know my love for him can't--and shouldn't--be central in his life. Suddenly the verse "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and the two shall become one flesh" makes even more sense seeing it from the other side.

So now I have another daughter, which is a wonderful bonus because she and Laurel have become good friends. In fact, they both have two brothers, but no sisters, so they both gained the sister they never had.

I had a wonderful mother-in-law for what turned out to be 17 short years. When I think of Janet Franklin, I think of her unconditional love for her kids, her grandkids, and for me.

So to my new daughter-in-law, I want to be a mother-in-love. Not a mother-in-law who is legally bound to put up with her, but an extra mom who chooses to love her unconditionally.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"Where's My Bra?"or "How I Found My Bosom Buddy"

I signed up for our church's Women's Retreat in Estes Park, and I am really looking forward to it. I went two years ago and had a great time hiking up Flattop Mountain and even made it to Hallett's Peak. Here I am with our group. I was the only one crazy enough to wear shorts! (Yes, I was cold, but just when we were above the tree line).

The morning of our hike, I had a rocky start. We were all staying in bunkhouse-style rooms with several other women. Only one other woman in my room had signed up for my hike, which was leaving early in the morning. The night before, we gathered our hiking gear and everything we would need, so we wouldn't bother the others who were still sleeping.

When my alarm went off, I quietly got ready, but I couldn't find my running belt. I had planned to carry my camera phone in it because I didn't have a pocket. I frantically looked again at the place where I had piled my gear, but the belt wasn't there. Everyone else was ready and gathered in the lobby, but I went back to the room, grabbed my duffel bag, brought it out into the lighted hallway and pawed through all of my things. After double-and triple-checking everything, I finally found the black belt at the bottom of the black bag. Relieved, I tossed my bag back by my bunk bed and joined the group.

After returning from our hike, we took turns showering before our evening activities. As I was getting dressed, I couldn't find my bra. I looked through my bag again, but it wasn't in there. I looked around my area, under my bed. Nothing.

I knew I had brought it, because I had worn it on the drive up. I really didn't want to put my sweaty sports bra that I'd worn on the hike back on, but I was getting desperate. Finally I asked the other women getting ready, "Has anyone seen my bra?"

One woman (I'll call her Tina, because that's her name) got a funny look on her face. She looked through her suitcase and sure enough, she had my bra. She said that during the day she'd seen what she thought was her bra on the floor. She didn't know how it had gotten there, but she'd put it back with her things.

I was a little annoyed at having to look for my things twice in one day, and I was also embarrassed to be "that person" in the group that obviously didn't have her stuff together. I was also a little confused that Tina had gotten our bras mixed up, but then she showed me.

It was the same tan full coverage Victoria's Secret bra, with a little charm decoration and cutout. Same band size, same cup size. EXACTLY the same. What were the chances?

 And THAT is how I found my bosom buddy!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Come to the Table

This past Saturday night was a beautiful, magical night celebrating the graduation of Katherine Baldessari and several other of her Kapaun classmates at the Hand's home. We were honored to be invited, especially since the only family we knew was the Baldessaris.
The rain, which had earlier been predicted for the evening, held off.

I spent time in a deck chair enjoying the lights on the pool and listening to the mariachi band.
The kids had a good time hanging out. Here is Caleb and June with her sisters Genevieve and Katherine (the graduate) and Laurel.

I didn't get a good picture of Donna Baldessari, so here she is with her daughters at Bartlett Arboretum, when we celebrated Mother's Day with them last week. I have been wanting to write about when we first met them for a while now.

Caleb and June started dating in January. She told me that her mom was good at all things domestic. I was inclined to believe her, because Caleb was continually invited to large family dinners every Sunday evening, and he told tales of plentiful, amazing food.

My dad's cancer was progressing, and much of our attention in February and March was focusing on his illness and figuring how we could help Mom manage. We celebrated Easter in Hillsboro with my family on Saturday, when my sister and her family from South Dakota could be there.
My dad was so much worse we were realizing that hospice alone was not going to be enough for Mom, so my sister made the tough but in hindsight very good decision to stay, so her family went home without her.

On Sunday morning, Easter morning, we were back in Wichita. We went to church, but we were depleted. Our hearts were heavy with thoughts of my dad. We had no plans. Except for Caleb, who was having lunch with the Baldessari's. When we were walking out of church at 12:10 p.m., we noticed several urgent texts from Caleb. We had been invited for Easter dinner as well, eating at 12:30 p.m. He sent their College Hill address. We had seconds to decide. We'd been wanting to meet June's parents, and although we weren't sure we felt like socializing, we went, showing up empty-handed.

So we met June's parents, John and Donna, who immediately made us feel at ease with their welcoming and engaging conversation. We also met their oldest daughter Marie's boyfriend's parents, who were from Omaha, a city we used to love visiting when my sister Lois and her family lived there.

Donna had put two dining room tables together and covered both with white cloths. One table was oval, so she made sure her youngest daughter, Genevieve, and John sat on the awkward cracks. All 13 people had a place at the table, and we passed the large platters and bowls of food around, family-style.

(I found out later she had borrowed the table from neighbors who were out of town, neighbors who had left in a rush due to a family emergency of their own. When she called to ask permission to use the table, they said sure, but she would need to clear it, because the dishes from their last interrupted meal were still on it. So she did.)

The food was wonderful. Twice-smoked ham from someone in their parish who knows how to do it. A leafy spinach salad with fresh strawberries, a sweet potato casserole brought by the Omaha mom.  Incredible homemade blueberry cake with lemon frosting for June's birthday, which was coming up on Tuesday. The conversation flowed easily, and John invited all of us to come along on the various camping and hiking trips he was planning for the summer.
 Usually we host for Easter, inviting Dave's extended family and my parents. But this wasn't a usual Easter, and about a week earlier Dave had texted his family that we weren't able to do it. Attending a gathering where we had contributed nothing and had nothing to control was a different experience.
Sitting on the receiving end of such generous hospitality was humbling and healing. A welcome respite for our weary souls.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Girl Power

Franklin Lawn Service has a returning employee! We are happy to have a skilled worker, and I am thrilled because I will have Mondays off. Yeah for Mom!

Three years ago our daughter, Laurel, worked with Dave and me in our business. At that time our son, Harrison, was also on the crew. I can't even remember how much she worked, I think we had sort of a staggered schedule. Our oldest son, Caleb, was in tech school. She did a good job.

However, when she became old enough to lifeguard (15), she followed the siren song of the water and spent the next two summers at the Twin River Club. She enjoyed teaching swimming lessons and directing the synchronized swimming show.

But college is looming (Emporia State, planning to major in pre-art therapy) and so are the bills, so she made the smart decision to earn as much as possible this summer. She has to put up with working all day with her parents, but hey, a job is a job.

I appreciate having a female around, especially when things like flying tennis balls hit me in tender places (see previous blog). Dave, on the mower, was unaware that anything even happened, but Laurel came over to me and said, "Mom, are you all right? Why don't you just take a minute? I'll finish trimming this yard."

It's going to be a great summer!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Job hazards, or, "Tennis, anyone?"

Working in lawn care has its hazards. Yesterday I was trimming in an overgrown back yard and someone (my husband, Dave) was using the ZTR riding mower.
All of a sudden I felt something slam into my left breast. I doubled over and nearly got the wind knocked out of me as I gasped from surprise and a sharp pain. Dave's open chute lawn mower had propelled a tennis ball 20 feet before I stopped it with my mammary gland.
You can see the mark it left on my grimy t-shirt, right on the "ice" in "Service," which is what I needed to put on it once I got home. I am waiting for a purple bruise (but don't wait for THOSE photos, sorry).
I see that Serena Williams can serve a tennis ball at 130 mph on a good day. I am wondering how fast the ZTR mower served it to me. Surely people have inadvertently gotten in the way of a serve before. I guess I need to toughen up.


About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I also work full time with our business, Franklin Lawn Service. My husband, David, and I met as students at Tabor College and we have been married for almost 20 years. We have three great kids, Caleb, Harrison, and Laurel.