The Wonder Of Imagination

If my mother were still on earth, she would be celebrating her 117th birthday on October 1st.

She was the first person to read to me.  She not only showed me the pictures, she also showed me how those letters on the page came together to make words.  She showed me how those words came together to make sentences, paragraphs and whole chapters and books.

And then she showed me how I could make those letters.  She showed me how to combine those letters into words, sentences, paragraphs and more.

More than that, both of my parents gave me two other important gifts.

They and my relatives were great story tellers.  They remembered their childhoods, youth, young adult life and more.  

Through their stories I got to know grandparents and great grandparents I had never met.  I got transported back through time and walked where they walked.

My parents also gave me the gift of imagination.  My father wondered about things out loud.  If I did not know the answer to his very random wondering, he would laugh and say, “Don’t you have any curiosity?”

My mother would read me stories, but stop in the middle.  When I would beg her to keep reading, she would say, “What do you think happened next?  You finish the story.”  

When I would imagine the most outrageous things, she would laugh and try to top it.  We passed many a summer afternoon lost in the joy of imagination.

When I was in high school, my best friend and I would write partial stories and then pass them to each other under the desk for the other one to write some more on the story before passing it back.

I loved being in drama class.  In real life, I was the shy, studious kid.  But through acting, I was freed to express myself in many different ways.  

Not only that, I found I could bring out emotions in others.  They would smile, laugh and sometimes cry in response to my character.

And so it came to be that God brought all those times of preparation together.  I wrote a play.  My drama teacher was so impressed she entered it in the state literary competition.

My classmates performed it at the state festival.  I sat in that darkened theater in wonder as what had begun in my mind came to life.  It won the top award for the state!

Even today when I am enjoying a good movie or tv show, I remember it is the writers who really birthed it.

Stay tuned for my next post on where writing led me.  It involves Jay, a bet, and almost getting fired because The National Enquirer took an interest in what I wrote! 😱

Christmas of Discovery — Audio Version Coming Soon!

I love to read, but I have often thought how neat it would be to hear the writer speak the words that first came to life in their head.

We can read a simple sentence in multiple ways and get a different meaning each time.

So it was very exciting when audio books came along and I could actually hear the author speak the words they penned.

Jay and I published our first book in 2012.  Christmas Of Discovery is a Christmas devotional book with reflective questions at the end of each chapter.

It has 31 chapters, so if you chose to, you can read one chapter a day in December and end with the last chapter on New Year’s Day.

This year we have taken it up a notch.  We can offer it in audio!  We have spent the last month recording in our home audio studio, and it is almost ready.

We hope to post it soon on my blog site and follow with posting it on our You Tube channel.  

We will be posting it early so you and others can sample it (or listen to all) and decide if you would like to share it with others as a pre-Christmas gift.  It’s free!

In past years, families, friends, small groups, and churches have used the book as conversation starters and ways to bring Christmas back to a time of true sharing.

So stay tuned for the reveal of Christmas of Discovery — the audio version!  And be thinking of how to share it with your family, friends and church.

The Wedding (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

e Wedding (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

My Father’s Blessing

My parents would have had plenty of reasons to say “I told you so” about various choices I made in my young adult life.  But they never did.  They simply loved me and never stopped believing and praying for me.

It was such a blessing that they were there in the garden for our wedding.  As my father took my hand to begin the garden walk, he looked directly into my eyes and said, “You picked the right one this time.”  Jay was a member of the family at that second.

The Garden’s Not Completely Perfect Location

We were so impressed with the beauty of the garden that we sort of overlooked how close it was to three major medical centers.

As the ceremony began, the birds sang sweetly in the trees and the harpist played a gentle lilting melody.  Everyone emerged from their perfectly choreographed spots and went where they were supposed to go.  

The minister began in appropriately solemn tones.

However, his voice was quickly drowned out by the sound of a helicopter overhead.  The medical chopper headed to U.K. was apparently delayed in its landing and circled over the garden.  

It was like the beginning of an episode of MASH.  If someone had yelled, “Incoming!” half of our guests would have hit the ground!

The minister talked louder, adjusting his voice with each circle of the helicopter.  He seemed relieved, as it was finally cleared to land at the med center.

However, his relief was soon overshadowed by another sound.  An ambulance with sirens blasting made its way up Nicholasville Road.  

Now realizing his vocal range was going to be required again, he rose to the occasion … or should I say, his vocals cords came to full thrust!

He was quoting The Love Verses of First Corinthians at the time.  As the ambulance got closer and closer, he yelled louder and louder.  

As soon as the ambulance cleared the Nicholasville Road light, they killed the siren, leaving our minister red faced and screaming into the silence, “Love is not easily angered!”  

At this point, the guests were beginning to snicker.

He, once again, adjusted his voice, but for the remainder of the ceremony, looked on guard!

He continued with the ceremony, but was momentarily distracted by a new sound.  There was a peculiar whining sound that began in the garden.  

This was followed by the sound of off key harp notes.  The gentle breeze had picked up and changed into a wind, that caused the harp strings to begin a tune of their own.  

They were quickly captured by our harpist … but not before …

Our minister forgot that Jay had not said his part about accepting his ring.  

As the minister forged ahead, the groomsmen tried to cue him, without success.  Finally they were yelling, “Let Jay do the ring!”

This, of course, confused him because he knew Jay already had the ring!  But after he realized Jay had not officially received it yet, he got back on track and the ceremony proceeded.

However, the next sound was what sounded like an 18 wheeler backing into the garden.  No one was sure what it was, but at this point, we all just desperately wanted to get this thing done!

The minister nearing the end of the ceremony, launched into The Blessing, saying, “Love life, so that Love will life you!”  

The groomsmen lost it.  They cracked up in belly laughs, and our guests, even those who had tried to remain serious, laughed.

The minister tried to finish the “sending forth,” but paused too long, at one point, making the harpist believe he was done.  

So she started to play the recessional and the minister returned to yelling … and she stopped playing … leaving him once again yelling his parting blessing into silence!

The sound of laughter was covered over by the return of the sound of the truck.  

As our guests stood up, they felt the wind at their backs, as several large men, grabbed their chairs, folded them up and threw (yes, threw!) them into the back of the truck.

We rented those chairs, so our best speculation is they were being rushed to the next event!

We all moved on to the party room of our apartment for the reception.  When Jay and I ceremonially departed, we didn’t go far.  

We drove around the block, went up the back steps, and went to our apartment.  We sat and watched our guests through the window … and realized we had done it!  We were married!

And we wondered what life would be like in 40 or 50 years.  And that, as they say … is the rest of the story!

Thank you for letting us celebrate our Anniversary with you.  We are blessed!

Planning The Perfect Wedding (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

Planning The Perfect Wedding (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

The Place
We decided we wanted to get married outside. We chose a beautiful garden owned by The University of Kentucky. It was called The Landscape Garden.

(Sadly it no longer exists. Without even consulting us, UK chopped down our tree and others and put a big building there some years later!)

We asked the groundskeeper if it was ok to get married in the garden. He said he didn’t care, but he would have to ask his boss. 

His boss said he didn’t care, but he’d have to ask his boss … and so it went until our request reached the desk of The President of The University Of Kentucky.

He said he didn’t care, but they probably should have a policy.

It’s a good thing we started working on this in the spring, because it took them awhile to gather a committee to write and get a policy approved for events in the garden.

Basically it came down to we could not exclude anyone from visiting the garden. We didn’t care. The more the merrier!

I was very certain I wanted chairs for each guest. Jay said it would be too expensive to rent chairs and everyone could stand. 

The minister tried to broker a compromise by suggesting chairs for only the family. I was horrified. That sounded like a funeral. All we needed was a tent! 😱

The minister noted a tent might be good in case of rain! 😱😱

Since Jay already had witnessed my “delicate emotional side” at the jewelry store, he countered with we could have all the chairs I wanted.

Jay went to the garden the morning of the wedding and received and set up all the chairs. This was a reassurance I really did pick the right sweetheart!

Aw-w-w, but stay tuned for the wedding finale … where the chairs figured prominently!

Historical Event
My parents were in their early 70s at the time. They had never flown on an airplane. My brother talked them into flying.

My uncle said when he heard that I was getting married, he wasn’t surprised. But when he heard my parents were going to fly, he said it was epic news!

They were determined to contribute to the reception, so my mother baked cookies, which they brought with them in carry on luggage. The only problem was that the handle broke on the bag. 

Somewhere we have a picture of my parents getting off the plane with my father carrying the precious cargo in his arms!

My brother traveled frequently by air, but says he had never experienced what they experienced on the way home. The plane was struck by lightening. 

He said it was as if the plane had slammed into a wall! My father slept through it and my mother said she thought that might just be the way planes worked. She had no frame of reference!

It was outside. We considered a “boom box.” But back then battery life was limited and of course outside, there was nowhere to plug in.

Jay said he didn’t know why we really needed music anyway. (Remember this is the guy who didn’t want chairs!). 

But somewhere in the music discussion, someone told us about a wonderful harpist (Elaine Humphries). She agreed to play and it was beautiful! 

However, stay tuned to hear about her challenge the day of the wedding. (Hint: Think wind and its effect on delicate strings!)

Besides the harpist’s challenges, there were other issues.  

To give you a hint, there was 

a circling helicopter (think opening scene of the tv show, MASH),

an ambulance siren, 

a screaming minister, 

a minister who reversed the words in a sentence, 

two groomsmen so overcome with laughter they could hardly stand up

and for the grand finale … a fast paced game of not so musical chairs!

The Non-Proposal (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

The Non-Proposal (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

Jay said he was gun shy of marriage because he had witnessed the traumatic breakup of some of his friends’ marriages.

I was terrified of marriage, having had an unsuccessful marriage before.  I never wanted to be married again.  

Jay knew marriage was a delicate issue.

So, over the course of two years, he first said a sentence with

“If I ever got married …”

Time passed.  Then one day, he said,

“When I get married …”

Time passed.  Then one day, he said,

“If we ever got married …”

Time passed.  And then the day came when he said,

“When we get married …”

Since I had grown accustomed to all the other versions, this one almost slid by me.  And then I realized what he had just said.

With a kind of a deer in the headlight look, I said, “I didn’t know we were getting married.”

He looked puzzled.  Then he said, “Well, I thought we would!”

I was frozen or at least I thought I wanted to be.  All the “todays” of being with him had been the highlight of my life.  But would all that change … would he change … if I was “just a wife” instead of the girlfriend, who could run away if she felt insecure?

And yet, the very real possibility that he would move on with someone else, who was more secure, frightened me.  

I pictured my world without him.  Him driving away with no hope of return.  The smell of his aftershave eventually gone.  No phone calls.  No more smiles or laughs or snuggling or …

In a rush of words, I said, “Of course, we will.  Let’s pick a date and I’ll throw something together.”

He said, “Well, I want to get you a ring. I’ve got one picked out at the store.”  

Now that was truly amazing.  Jay had never been one to plan … and yet he had dared to dream that he would be able to buy that ring and put it on my finger.

But there was one more hurdle to get over before I would wear that ring.  We went to the store for me to see it and get it sized.

I had what I can only describe as a “post traumatic stress panic attack.”  I thought of how horribly all had crashed and burned in that first marriage.

My hands started shaking.  I threw the ring on the counter and said, “I’m sorry.  I love you, but I can’t do this.”  I then ran from the store.

He found me crying in the parking lot.  He didn’t say anything.  He just held me.

Eventually I spoke.

“If we get married, will you still be you?  Will I still be me?  Will we be us?  Can I trust you?  Can I trust me not to want to run away?”

He said, “That’s easy.  The answer to all those questions is yes.”

I said, “Why do you want to marry me?”

He said, ” I found the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with.  That’s you.  And I’m hoping you will want to spend the rest of your life with me.”

I said, “So is this a proposal?”

He laughed.  “Well, before we get married, I would like to get you a ring.  But I’m hungry now.  Wanna go to McDonalds and try for it again tomorrow?”

And so we did … go to McDonalds.

And we did … go back the next day and get a ring.

And we did … start planning a wedding for September 25, 1977.

And what a wacky wedding it was!


Cinderella was a little off balanced without her slipper … but she knew she had found her prince … and he knew not to give up on making her his bride.

(And to this day, Jay still calls me his bride!😍)

Buying A Parkway (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

Buying a Parkway (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)
So Jay moved to Etown for two years. I got my own apartment in Lexington. I got a car.

I dated other people, but no one could ever touch that place in my heart that Jay did. He was the only one I didn’t want to leave at the end of an evening.

He was the only one who could prompt such giddy, ecstatic joy when I saw him … and such emptiness when he left.

And on the other end of the Parkway? 

Well, Jay’s mother told me some years later that “from the time Jay first said the name, ‘Carolyn’, we never heard him say any other girl’s name!” 

And she said, “We didn’t know if he would stay. As soon as he got back from Lexington, he’d start talking about going back!”

And so began a long distance courtship. I frequently went to Etown and Jay frequently came to Lexington. 

The Bluegrass Parkway was a toll road with toll to be paid at three places along the way.

We felt we bought a good chunk of the road and some small piece of it should have our names on it!

But something subtly happened as one “today” joined with another “today.”

 We were cautious about commitment, but other people saw us as committed to each other.  I was somewhat surprised when one of Jay’s friends introduced me as Jay’s girlfriend.

I paused to think about that.  Was I?

The Arrangement (Continuation Of This Is Us Story)

The Arrangement
In the mid 70s, I was living in an “efficiency apartment” with a roommate. Every time she had a date, I either took a long walk (I had no car.) or I sat in the bathtub and read.

I was grateful to have housing, but the arrangement got old quickly. 

Jay lived down the street. After we had our interesting meeting, we would talk, as I made my walks out on the street. (And yeah — I’ll admit I tried to take my walks when I could see him arriving home from work.)

After hearing my sad story of hoping to have enough money soon to get a place of my own, he made a generous offer.

He worked for an ambulance service as an EMT. He worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off. He offered me his apartment for the 24 hours he was at work. He said nothing about the time he would be home.

I took the generous offer. However, God was about to deal with refining both of us. 

In a world that had gone out of control for me, I spent a lot of time organizing the small world I had left. 

Jay, it turned out, was “unstructured!” One look at his habitat … and I almost went back to the bathtub at my roommate’s apartment.

But Jay was so generous, I stayed for the 24 he worked … and often hung around while he slept when he came home. I learned not to wake him up. He was not nearly as charming when awakened out of a sound sleep.

And I learned not to try to organize his stuff. (He said it was organized!)

And when he was awake, he cooked for me before I took my “go bag” and went back up the street.

Then we talked for hours on the phone.

Then the day came when he broke the news … and broke my heart. There had been no promises, so none broken. 

Everything had been for “today.” And now it was turning into tomorrow. Jay announced he was moving to Etown, a city about two hours away.

I thought “it”, whatever “it” was, was over.

Enjoy each moment.

Don’t try to write the story. Live the story, as it comes.

Sometimes when you think your carriage has turned into a pumpkin again, it turns out the prince really likes pumpkins and comes looking for them.

It ain’t over until it’s over … and sometimes it ain’t over!

The Way Of The Cross Leads Home!

Did Jesus carry His Own Cross?  Many pictures and stories seem to indicate He did.

So I was surprised to discover that only one of the four gospels actually says He did.  That was John.

The other three detail the important role of a man named Simon of Cyrene.

Simon was pressed into service to carry Jesus’ cross right after Jesus was condemned.

 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

As the soldiers led Him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:24-26

Many theologians have puzzled over why Simon would have been told to carry Jesus’ Cross.  Their speculations are interesting.

One notes Jesus may have been beaten so badly they were concerned He might die on the way to the crucifixion site.  They did not want that.  They wanted the people to get the satisfaction of seeing Him crucified.

We may never know if Jesus carried His Cross at all, or if so, how far.  But it is important to try to understand the real life parable that was played out the day Jesus was crucified.

Jesus had said earlier,  “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23

Perhaps Simon is a part of the story to give us a picture of ourselves, very human people, weighed down by the sins and troubles of this world, but still following Jesus into an unknown future.

We don’t know what Simon thought.  We don’t even know if he knew Jesus.  But I suspect he may have had the same thought we do when burdened with a heavy load.

Why me?

We do know he was following behind Jesus.

Perhaps when they reached Golgotha, and the cross was lifted from Simon’s shoulders, he would have had a chance to ask Jesus, “Why me, Lord?”

And Jesus might have said, “In this world you will have troubles, but I still want you to follow Me.  This is not the end for you or Me.  It’s a new beginning.”

And then Simon might have said, “Why You, Lord?”

Jesus answered, “For you, Simon.  So you won’t ever have to carry that cross again.”

The gospel writers do not tell us what happened.  But I like to imagine what happened next.

As the cross was lifted from Simon and transferred to Jesus, Simon felt as the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders.

The soldiers told him he was free to go.  But Simon didn’t go.  He stayed through it all.  He stayed and heard every word Jesus said.

He stayed long after everyone had left.  He clung to the foot of the cross, trying to make sense out of what had been the strangest day in his life.

He heard the soldiers coming to take the bodies down.  He felt the urge to cry out, “No, don’t take Him.”

It was then Simon felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned around and saw Jesus standing there.  He said, “Let’s go, Simon.  Follow Me.  We’ve got work to do.”

So it was that Simon left unnoticed, following One only seen to him.  This time it was Simon’s choice.  He took the first steps on a road that would ultimately lead him Home.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, The Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith.

For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of The Throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said.

Matthew 4:19

Love At First Slice

September 25 is our 46th anniversary.  Some of you have read our This Is Us story before.  But for those who don’t mind reading wacky love stories multiple times, I will post it again over the next few days.

The Meeting

She was on a locked psychiatric unit.  He was delivering pizza.  Now for the rest of the story …

I was a nurse on a locked psychiatric unit.  My co-worker and I were hungry.  

She said, “I know this guy who lives down the street from me.  If he’s home, he might go get us a pizza.”  Those were the days before pizza delivery.

That guy was Jay.  He was home.  He had mercy on us and got us a pizza.  The first time Jay and I saw each other was through the thick glass of the locked door to the psych unit.

I really was looking more at the pizza than him.  

But after a few minutes conversation, he asked my friend and me if we’d like to go out for a drink after we got off work.

We agreed.  

And thus began the love story of Carolyn and Jay.  (Don’t worry — this isn’t going to be sappy, mushy, all hearts and flowers stuff.)

Lesson:  When God brings Love into your life, He will do it creatively.  He is The Creator!

Sometimes you think you are hungry for something when actually you are hungry for something else.

No act of kindness and mercy is ever wasted.

No friendship is ever forgotten.  We cherish Jane Pappas, the friend who brought us together.

And we smile at the name our daughter gave to our interesting meeting — Love at First Slice!

I Can Only Imagine!

I have an active imagination.  It has been a real plus to me as a writer.

However it is difficult to turn off my imagination.  I frequently rewrite stories on tv.  

It drives my husband crazy that I comment on the story lines.  I recognize stories that are “going nowhere,” are “not believable,” “repetitious,” “disjointed,” etc.

I always have ideas about what would make a more interesting story.

Unfortunately my out of control imagination extends to life.  When God writes the story, I know I should recognize He is The Master Writer.  However, there are times when I would like to re-write what He seems to have written.

However, there is one who is worse than me in imaging a different ending from what God has written.  Satan.

And he can’t keep his mouth shut about it.  He constantly intrudes into our thoughts and whispers, “You know this isn’t the way it should be.  You can do better than God.  Let me show you how it’s done.”

He tempts us into his world of imagination.  We may be temporarily exhilarated by the climb upwards before we realize we are on a roller coaster ride.

The drop downward will be terrifying.  Someone said it all when they said “worry is imagination gone wrong.”

Worry turns into anxiety and nightmares that last all day.  We imagine gloom and doom and stories that end with “and then they crashed and burned.”

What can we do?  Paul told us.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exults itself against The Knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

We have flesh and bones, but victory and defeat are carried out in our minds.

Satan gets to us through strongholds.  He knows our weak spots and he will hit us there again and again.

We need to be smarter than he is and know where our weak spots are.  We need to meet him at the door, where he will try to come in.

We need to know in advance what God says.  We need to have Knowledge of God.  If the thought we have does not line up with God’s Word, we need to capture that thought and eliminate it.

How do we eliminate it?  Reject it.  But never leave a vacuum for satan to try to fill with something else.  Fill that space with The Word of God.

Quote His Word again and again.  Say it out loud.  Be prepared for the next battle.  

Use your imagination to reflect on what God is preparing for you.  But remember that whatever you imagine, God is going to top it!

“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us, to Him be Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21