Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aunt Jane

Well, after much thought and deliberation in deciding who I would write about this time, I decided to chose my dear, sweet, wonderful Aunt Jane. I realize that by choosing another family member for this blog, I risk being accused of nepotism but it's my blog and I get to choose whomever I want! Right? Can I help it if I come from an exceptionally inspirational family??

My Aunt Jane is one such inspirational family member. I have grown up watching her fulfill many roles with grace and elegance: wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She has set such a remarkable example for all these roles that they are pretty darned impossible to match. Everyone, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, adores my Aunt Jane.

Blessed with good health, Aunt Jane has led a very active life. However, the one subject she does not care to talk about is her age. She says that she really doesn't feel all that old until people start talking about how old she is. OK, makes sense. This has nothing to do with vanity…..she simply gets sick and tired of all the talk about her age! So….. let's just say that she is somewhere in her nineties. But she has such a delightful disposition and the most contagious giggle you've ever heard and an energy and a spring to her step that makes you just want to hang out with her all the time.

Aunt Jane is actually my great aunt, my grandmother's sister. But she has been as much a part of our lives (mom and me) as if she had been a second mother. I remember when I was very young, begging her to tell me the story of her life as I found it abso-LUTE-ly fascinating. Orphaned at a very young age, she and her brother and sister were separated and each raised by a different aunt in Claremore, Oklahoma. However, being part of a very close-knit family, the siblings were able to remain close and maintained an incomparable devotion to one other throughout their lives. Incidentally, it was about this very close family that their cousin, Lynn Riggs ,wrote his book "Green Grow the Lilacs", the rights of which were later bought by Rodgers and Hammerstein and developed into the musical "Oklahoma!" The play's main character, Laurey, was named after my great-grandmother, Aunt Jane's mother. Kinda makes us all famous, no? Probably not.

These days, Aunt Jane spends most of her leisure time either playing bridge (real-life AND computer!), participating in church activities, and……BOWLING! She has been bowling in the same league for over 50 years and considers it a bad day when she scores below 140! And, I might add, she is pret-ty competitive! (She reeeeeeeally likes to win.)

OK, so now you have an idea of why we all adore Aunt Jane so much. I have no doubt that you would adore her too, but if you ever have the privilege of meeting her, I wouldn't mention her age!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Jentry is the daughter I never had. I love her as if she's my own and I have the same hopes and dreams for her that I have for my own sons. I have had the privilege of watching her grow from a very quiet, slightly insecure little girl into a confident, outstanding young woman. Actually, it is as if I have witnessed a metamorphosis.

Born with profound hearing loss in both ears, Jentry was at a slight disadvantage for most of her childhood years. Through multiple hearing aids, FM transistors, and, finally, cochlear implants in both ears, she has been challenged all her life to listen and hear in a way that most of us cannot possibly comprehend.

Unfortunately, in our society, hearing loss isn't just a physical handicap but it has a way of becoming a social handicap as well. As a child, Jentry had to pay extremely close attention to her teachers and classmates to follow their conversations. Because she had to become adept at "piecing" together the words that she actually heard into the empty spaces she didn't quite hear, a lot of context and subtle meanings were missed. This can be a huge problem when you're a little girl on the playground trying your darnedest to keep up with what the other kids are saying. Or when you're at that very fragile age when acceptance by your peers is so very important. Tho she was never mistreated, she was often simply overlooked.

Let me just say that Jentry handled all of that beautifully. She had such a refreshing purity and innocence about her. Yes, there were some painful times like there are for all young girls hoping to be part of a "group". Fortunately for Jentry, her mom (my own personal bff!) was her very best friend and what a friend she was! I still remember the two of them staying home together most Friday nights to watch "Reba" (although "Gilmore Girls" was their very fave). Jentry had an amazing support system in her mother (again, MY bff!) that sustained her through the most challenging of times.

OK…enough about the challenges and difficulties of being deaf. Let me tell you about our little girl now. Twenty-two years old and a senior at William Jewell College in Liberty, Kansas, Jentry is about to embark on an adventure and a journey that most people would shudder at. After first completing her internship this June at the Cochlear Institute of America, she will pack her duffle bag, grab her sunscreen and head south for the Peruvian Amazon. Let me say that again, people……THE AMAZON !!!!! I believe that there are man-eating piranhas and anacondas and giant hairy bugs big enough to bite off limbs and natives with poison darts and MAJOR HUMIDITY!! Not to mention no interior plumbing, hair dryers or Diet Cokes! I get the heeby-jeebies just thinking about it! AND not to mention the fact that Jentry is barely five feet tall and a hundred pounds soaking wet.

This is all happening because Jentry is one of fifteen students from across the United States selected to participate in an International Field Workshop sponsored by Phonak and Global Explorers called "Hear the World". It is part of a worldwide campaign aimed at bringing awareness and support to the importance of hearing. In addition to exploring the bio-diverse rainforests of THE AMAZON , Jentry and her group hope to work with the local communities to promote a greater understanding of both the challenges and solutions to deafness. She recently returned from a four-day conference in Estes Park, Colorado to meet with her co-volunteers and discuss strategies and activities for the trip.

So….in addition to now having an abundance of wonderful friends that love and adore her for who she is, Jentry has developed amazing photography and artistic skills and does a weekly editorial cartoon for her college newspaper. Like all normal college girls, she actively participates in all those friendly sorority competitions and skits that she may have missed out on in her younger years. I could go on and on but I have already exceeded my self-imposed limit on extensive verbage.

Do I sound like a proud mother? Heck, yah, I am! I have witnessed God's goodness, once again, in the life of someone I care very deeply about. There is just no telling where all this will lead in Jentry's life but you can be sure of one thing….she will enter into each new opportunity with the confidence and self-assuredness of the amazing young woman she has become. And she will be a true ambassador for Listening and Hearing in the 21st century. Mark my words…..she is going to do GREAT things. That's OUR girl!



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cathy Jo

(Can you see the aura?)

Have you ever known a person that glowed? I mean really glowed like a huge spotlight was shining down on them? A person that just radiated love and joy and peace and warmth? Well, if you haven't, you really need to meet Cathy Jo.

Cathy Jo is a teacher of the Bible. She knows the Bible like most people know their childrens' birthdays, social security numbers, telephone numbers and addresses. Ask her any question about the Bible…..I dare you. Yes, she has a special gift and she shares it with her "students" almost every day of her life. She takes no credit for this abundance of biblical knowledge but gives all the credit to God, referring to herself as only a vessel.

I was fortunate enough to meet Cathy Jo about ten years ago when we were going through a family crisis. I had finally run into something in my life that I couldn't fix on my own and it had taken me to my knees. I needed a power greater than myself and I didn't know where to turn. Gee. Well, some very devoted, caring and conniving friends of mine (you both know who you are) suggested we start a Bible Study. "Great", I thought, "like that was going to fix up my life and everything would be all hunky-dory again." Let's just say that my knowledge of the Bible was very limited and I had a very dim view of those that truly believed its every word and led their lives accordingly.

Enter Cathy Jo. I knew there was something special about her but I couldn't quite put my finger on it right away. So I attended the weekly meetings to show my dear, sweet friends how much I appreciated their love and support but I was very skeptical that a weekly Bible Study could "fix" anything in my life……W R O N G. Cathy Jo had this amazing knack of making the Bible come to life for me. I had never been able to make any sense of it before.

Well, needless to say, it wasn't Cathy Jo or the Bible Study that actually reversed the crisis and made things all better. But during this process, I finally learned to trust in God and put my life in His hands. Whew! That made all the difference in the world! News flash: I wasn't supposed to be the "fixer"! I NEVER WAS!!! What a relief! But it took a beautiful lady from Kansas with an amazing gift from God to help teach me this.

Cathy Jo has been teaching our little Bible Study for ten years now. And she teaches hundreds of others in Bible Studies throughout our city week after week. This is her calling. Not in Africa or China or some unknown village in South America but in good ol', mostly Republican, "Heartland of America" Oklahoma City. And, boy howdy, do we need her here! She has never married or had children of "her own" but she has an entire flock of little, wandering, often lost sheep that she can call Family. Matter of fact, she probably has the biggest Family of anyone I know.

God has blessed Cathy Jo with an amazing gift. She's very humble and refuses to take any of the credit, but, I swear to you, she actually glows. God bless her heart.



Wednesday, May 5, 2010


(She loves her puppies but I am STILL #1 !! )

In this Mother's Day season, how could I possibly start my blogging "career" about people that have inspired me with anyone but my very own Mother? After all, if anyone has inspired me more than any one else, it is" her". Or is it "she"? Oh well.

I guess you could say that she is the reason that I am who I am today. Bless her heart. Yes, there have been many other human and environmental factors responsible for this lump of protoplasm I call "me" but she is the one person that, I have to say, has been the largest influence in my life and is the most inspiring person I know.

First of all, let me say that we had nothing….and I mean nothing but each other. She usually worked a minimum of two jobs during most of my school years and I even remember her taking on a third job when I was in high school just to be able to buy my prom dress.

I have never known anyone that is a more outstanding example of Unconditional Love (with a capital U and capital L). Throughout my entire life she has truly believed that I am the smartest, prettiest, most talented, most capable, funniest girl in the world….even in those horrible teenager years! In her eyes, I can do no wrong. Boy, do I have her fooled! We all know that just is not true. However, when you have a personal cheerleader like that in your corner all of your child and adult life, it has a way of making you feel like you are capable of doing anything. She gets all the credit for my confidence and positive belief system because I have always known that there is someone in this world who truly believes that I am perfect. Everyone should have someone like that in their life…..and we could all climb mountains!

Now this Unconditional Love doesn't stop with me although I am her "reason for living" (aka "Only Child Syndrome.") My mom has this amazing knack for finding something good in everyone she meets. While some of us have to look really hard for the good in some people, she spots it immediately and has a friend for life.

This is a woman who makes people smile (or laugh out loud) with just the mention of her name. More than likely because of her ab-so-LUTE-ly hilarious sense of humor, her ability to get away with telling the dirtiest of jokes (she has made me want to slide under a table many times), or simply because of her kindness and compassion for everyone she meets.

My mom could never pass High School Algebra and my poor grandfather had to beg the principal to let her graduate with her class but she has a wisdom and a capacity for understanding and loving people that surpasses all understanding.

If only more of us could be just like her, this world would be a much better place. I aspire to be more like her every day of my life.

I love you, Momma, Happy Mother's Day,


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Who Really Cares?

It's official. By unanimous decision amongst my family members, I am a blog-o-holic. I do love to read them all…..gardening blogs, cooking blogs, decorating blogs, political blogs, you name it. They're the first things I read in the morning and the last things I read at night. So, what's my point, you might ask? Well, since I've been feeling rather lazy and unproductive lately, I thought I'd have a go at blogging, myself (not blogging myself). "Who really cares," you ask? Well, I'm guessing nobody. But I don't think true bloggers are supposed to care about that. I believe it is supposed to be more for personal edification…..yeah right.

Sooooooo, what to blog about? Hmmmmm, that is a bit of a dilemma because I am certainly no expert on ANYTHING! I'm a mediocre cook, a fair-weather gardener, a copycat decorator, I have no strong political views, AND I have no writing skills whatsoever! (As you may have already noted.) I am an amateur knitter and I thought I was fluent in French until I visited France and couldn't understand a word those people were saying! Ok, there must be something………..


So this is what I came up with. I pride myself in being an excellent judge of character. And I have had the good luck and talent of surrounding myself with some really wonderful, and INSPIRING people. Not famous people, mind you, just everyday good old "salt of the earth" kind of people. The kind that do amazing, wonderful things and rarely get recognized or appreciated…… not that they would want that or anything.

So even if nobody but me reads this silly thing, I will have at least put down in writing how much I respect and admire these extraordinary people that I have been blessed to have in my life….kind of like a personal journal, but somewhere out there n the "ether".

So stay tuned for Amazing Person in my Life #1 to follow. And I'll try to not start every paragraph with the word "so" and I'll try not to start all my sentences with the word "and". English teachers beware!



News Flash: I just showed this first post to my husband and he doesn't quite see how this could be considered "productive". He'll be sorry when I am a famous Blogger someday.