Renee Weatherbee
Writer

Renee's Ramblings


Posted:  January 30, 2012

 

Progress Update as of January 30, 2012


I like to keep track of the number of visits to this website and number of pages viewed and I am amazed by the progress that has been made since I started posting in May 2011. 

To date, I have had  547 unique visitors to this website and 1,033 visits, which means some people are coming back more than once.   My visitors have viewed  2,533 pages. 

July remains the record month for visits and page views with 109 unique visitors, 254 visitors and 585 page views.  January 2012 has been the second highest months for visits at 90 unique visitors, 167 visits and 428 page views.  It looks like 2012 is going to be a great year!

While I can’t tell if anyone is actually reading my posts from the reports I get from my web provider, I do get feedback in the form of email, signing of the guest book, phone calls and in person.  That feed back means the world to me.  It encourages me to keep going. 

I am impressed with the numbers, as I haven’t done any type of advertising.  Some of my friends and family have spread the word and I have added links to my website on facebook. 

I am thankful to those who read my postings.  I hope something from my words touches people every now and then.  Sometimes I struggle to know what to write about or wonder if I am being too personal, but I believe a good writer has to be able dig down to the core and not be afraid to write the truth.  It will always be my mission to either entertain, enlighten or educate with my postings.  I am especially tickled if I can make anyone laugh or humbled if my words cause someone to cry. 

I would like to do more sharing of other peoples writings, so on Thursday, February 2, I will be sharing a personal essay from my sister, Melinda Olson, who wrote, “Diary of a Chubby Christian.”  I think you’ll love her sense of humor and if you’ve ever struggled with weight, I am sure you’ll relate to her frustration and observations.  Her writing is open, creative and personal. 

If you have a personal essay or story you are willing to share with others on this site, please get in touch with me by filling out the Contact Form or signing the guest book.  I would love to add more of other peoples’ experiences and insights.  I am finally learning that it’s not always all about me. 

Thanks for visiting – please come back often! 

 

(If you enjoy reading any of my postings and you'd like to comment, you are invited to scroll to the end of the page and sign the guest book.  You don't have to fill-in all the information, if you don't want to.  Thank you for reading!)

 

 

 



Posted:  January 26, 2012

 

Answered Healing Prayers

This is a time when I just have to give credit where credit is due and thank the Lord for answering the prayers of many and putting his healing hands on the following people:

Marilyn Gartner – My aunt, Marilyn, from Interior, SD, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.  She was told that she would probably be facing chemotherapy and/or radiation as follow-up treatments, if cancer was found in the lymph node biopsies.  Marilyn received an enormous amount of support from friends and family via visits, phone calls, mail and via the Internet – people offering up prayers of healing and faith.    It was a long few weeks waiting for the test results, but thanks be to God, who heard everyone’s prayers, she does not need further treatment! 

Karen McCue – In January of 2011, my very good friend, Karen, found out that she had breast cancer and opted to have a double mastectomy, due to a family history of breast cancer.  I was with her in the room when the nurse told her the heartbreaking news that she was going to need to have extensive chemotherapy, probably up to 7-9 months.  The nurse stated that she had one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer and that without the chemo, the cancer would most likely spread to other organs.  As a custodian at the St. Joseph Catholic Church and School and as a member herself, there was an army of people gladly willing to send up prayers of healing for her, not to mention her many relatives and numerous friends.  Karen underwent the recommended treatment and one year later, she is cancer free, thanks be to God! 

Lawson William Randolph – This little guy is the grandson of my friend and former co-worker, Nancy Gunter.  Through the modern marvels of technology, the doctors knew before his birth that he was going to be born with congenital heart disease and require multiple surgeries to correct the problems.  He thus far has undergone several and right now needs everyone’s prayers as he is being cared for in the ICU.  In just a few short months, he has had to endure more than most people do in a lifetime, but he’s received an enormous amount of prayers for his healing and for strength for his parents and grandparents.  His parents have great faith in our Lord and trust in his goodness and wisdom.  Personally, this little guy, I’ve never even met, will be at the top of my prayer list each morning until he’s at home toddling around and getting into those things he shouldn’t.  Of note, this baby boy has been blessed with the greatest grandma you could possibly get in Nancy.  She just gave up her own career that she poured her heart and soul into to move in with her daughter and son-in-law out of state, to help care for Lawson, because of all his special needs.  Nancy’s husband, Skip, is a pretty special grandpa, too, for putting Lawson’s needs ahead of his own.  It means that he’ll only get to see his wife every six weeks or so, but for Lawson, there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do.  Dang, where’s the Kleenex when you need it? 

Jimmy Weatherbee – My husband’s son was healed after treatment for lymphoma back in 2008/09 and we feel that God answered our prayers and many others to bring about a full recovery.  We are so thankful that this young man is once again back to work, stronger and healthier than ever, living the life he is meant to be living and life that many would envy in New York City.  He took what he learned from his illness and being close to death and realized that life is too short not to do those things you want to be doing and relocated from the west coast to the east coast.  That takes courage and we are proud of him.

There are two young boys from the church we are attending that have brain tumors, unusual for such a small congregation of about 100 in attendance each week.  Their names are Jesse and Justice.  They have been in many people’s prayers and now we’ll be adding prayers for Beth’s husband, Bob.  She is the secretary of the church and her husband just found out he has cancer.  I will be praying for the same results as of those listed above along with many others who believe in healing prayers. 

I feel very blessed, because I know, without a doubt in my heart, that God answers prayer.  It’s a great feeling to be that sure of something and I will be forever thankful for these answered prayers and the many others he answered for me personally.  These are some of the big ones, but you can find answered prayers in the smallest of things, if you just look. 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Photo Below:  My brother-in-law, Brad Neuschwander.  I never thought I'd say this, but I miss him and his silly antics.  (The hat is his famous chicken hat...I miss that too!)



Posted:  January 23, 2012

 

I Miss

...Going to the German tent at the Central States Fair in Rapid City with my brother-in-law, Brad, and watching him do the chicken dance while wearing his chicken hat.

...Taking a drive through the Black Hills with Carrie and Brad in their Mustang convertible, especially when green beer is involved.

...Laying in bed with my three daughters beside me and having them crack up when I sing the last lines of Silent Night, because they think I’m singing about heavenly pee and not peace. 

...Being there in person when I say to my grandkids, “Grandma loooovvvvvveeeeeeees yyyyyyyyyyooooooooouuuuuuuu!”

...Watching Al’s eyes light up when we go to Kool Deadwood Nights and he sees all the hot rods lined up.

...Doing unexpected things like watching my sister, Carrie, and my husband, Al,go up on a stage and get hypnotized for a show and watching my brother-in-law crack up and feeling our cheeks burn from laughing so hard. 

...Watching my three daughters dance with their husbands on their wedding days while Brad, Carrie and Al were in the kitchen making sure everyone gets fed.    

...Hanging out on the causeway on the Missouri River in Pierre, where my family and I walked and rode bikes when they were little, where I would drive to sit and ponder when I needed to be alone and where my family and I would sometimes meet just to hang out together after the kids were grown and on their own.  (The causeway was permanently damaged in the flood of 2011.)

...When my girls were so little that they loved me singing to them and they weren’t yet old enough to complain about what an awful singer I am.  I especially miss singing, “This Land Is Your Land”  and “Mocking Bird” to them. 

...Sitting on our back patio at home and seeing the unexpected, “a colorful sunrise, a rafter of turkeys waddling by, an eagle appearing out of nowhere flying through the deep blue sky, and a fat field mice running between my legs, not all at once, of course.

...Getting a call from Brad and Carrie asking if we want to go to Big Time Pizza for dinner, as if they need to ask!  (See Favorite Pizza under Knocks My Socks Off Tab and Posting Titled, “Bigalicious Flavor at Big Time Pizza” – June 2011)

...Sitting around the Christmas tree after dinner at my mom’s house and listening to the whole family share fart stories.  Yes, those were the days.

Just reminiscing…I’m okay where I’m at.  We are going to create new memories wherever we are and treasure the old ones forever.

 

 

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Posted:  January 19, 2012

The following story was written for a writing prompt - one of those where you are given a list of words that must be in the story.  I don't have the original list of words, but this is the result.  Somehow, a moral may have just popped out of the story (be careful how you treat others or it might just bite you in the ass - no bun, I mean pun, intended), but really it was just written as a practice of writing dialogue and following a prompt.  It does make me chuckle.  What do you think?

 

Kissing Ass

 “Hey, Fishface,” Joey said to Zander, “Know what I’m thinking?”

“Don’t care,” Zander replied.

“Hear that, Rockboy? Fishface doesn’t care.  That really hurts my feelings.  Kiss my ass, Fishface.   We’ll go without you.”

Rockboy, known to others as Jackson, said to the boys, “Stop acting like candy asses.  This is our first day of summer vacation?”

“I’m heading to the swimming hole.  You whimps coming?  Fishface, you should have no problem, since you look like a fish.”

Zander retorted, “You’re jealous, because I got first place in the swim meet.  Who came in seventh, Joe Schmo?”

Joey grabbed Zander by the arm and spun him around, “Hey, Fisheyes, don’t ever forget this – I let you win.  You’d lost the last two meets, so I figured you needed your confidence built back up.”

Zander ran ahead then hollered back at Joey and Jackson.  “Joe Schmo can’t even dog paddle!”  He bolted up the trail.  Joey and Jackson pounded the path behind him.  Zander reached the water first.  He threw off his clothes and jumped into the refreshing water.  

Joey yelled, “Fishface, I’ll make you eat fisheggs!”  He jackknifed into the water creating a huge splash.

Jackson wasn’t sure he wanted to take off his clothes knowing Joey probably had some scheme of grabbing their clothes and leaving them behind butt-naked.  Joey was always pulling pranks on innocent victims.  Jackson and Zander had been the butt of his jokes too many times.  They hung out with him, because he was the coolest kid in school.  You didn’t want him for an enemy or life would be miserable.

Joey gave everyone nicknames.  Since Zander was a star-swimmer, Joey dubbed him Fishface.  Last year, Jackson was given the name Rockboy when he accidently flung a rock from his slingshot through a church window.  

“Come on, Rockboy, you pansy ass, get your butt in here!” shouted Joey as he dunked Zander underwater.

Jackson dove headfirst, grabbed Joey’s foot pulling him down.  The two struggled to get back up for air.  Jackson broke free first gasping for air as he hit the surface.  Joey sputtered, “You dumb ass, you should know better than to mess with me.”  He lunged toward Jackson dunking him underwater.  

“You’re gonna regret that!”  Jackson reciprocated holding Joey underwater until his struggles became more agitated. 

“You think you’re smarter than me, Rockboy?  Who’s the one who didn’t know how to use a sling slot?”

“That’s ancient history.  When you gonna let it go?” Jackson whined. 

Joey jabbed.  “Gee, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings.  Come over here and kiss my ass.”

Zander and Jackson ganged up on Joey.  With lightning speed, they dunked him.  He came up choking and sputtering.

“Sissies!” shouted Joey when Zander and Jackson got out of the water.  Joey swam around demonstrating to the boys how to do the breast stroke.  “Fisheyes, you might want to take lessons.”  

Zander replied, “If I had taken lessons from you, I’d have lost every race. ”

Jackson and Zander sat on a rock letting the sun soak into their skin.  Joey stayed in the water, lounging on a rock.  Suddenly, he let out a piercing scream, “Ahhh, eeeee, what the…! Shit, what is it?  Something bit me.  Owww! “  Scrambling to the bank, he twisted his head back to see what happened.  Jackson and Zander ran to his side as Joey turned and, simultaneously, they burst out laughing.  Stuck to his left butt cheek was a black, shiny leech. 

Jackson couldn’t resist, “That’s just terrible!  Who’s kissing who’s ass now?”

“Get it off me!  Now!  Owww!” 

The boys tried, but couldn’t pry the lecherous creature off Joey’s buttock.  It didn’t budge.  Their laughter didn’t either.  They figured Joey deserved this just a little – paybacks were hell. 

They helped him get dressed and walked him back to his house.  As the boys pulled down Joey’s shorts, his mother screamed, “Get that thing out of here!”  The boys laughed hysterically knowing they’d pay for it later, knowing it was worth it.   The slimy leech had grown two inches as it continued to kiss Joey’s ass, feeding on the succulent blood of their friend.

 

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On our 14th day of non-smoking, we got up early and went to watch the sun rise over the York River, then celebrated with a tastey breakfast.


Posted:  January 16, 2012 

 

I Am A Non-Smoker, Thanks Be To God!

When you Google “what is the most additive substance there is,” most experts list nicotine #1 on the list, above heroine, cocaine, meth amphetamine and others.  The experts state that 30% of the people who use tobacco products will become physically addicted to the nicotine.  That’s what happened to me and I have been an addict for over 37 years.  There were periods of smoking cessation in my life, but sooner or later, I always went back to this drug.  I am a nicotine junkie.  Just because nicotine is legal, doesn’t make it any less additive and destructive than the other drugs on the list. 

My husband is a nicotine addict as well.  Most of us smokers know it is bad for us.  We think about how stupid we are every time we light up, but are helpless to stop.  We think about all the money we are burning up not just in the cigarettes themselves, but in the damage to clothes and personal property, such as the insides of our vehicles.  We realize we are harming our own bodies and reluctantly admit we could be harming those around us, as well.  We feel like idiots as we stand by ourselves somewhere outside a building to where we have been banished to partake in our right to smoke.  We make promises to ourselves and others to stop and we mean it with all our heart, but then when it comes time, we fail miserably.  We try going cold turkey, we try other drugs such as antidepressants and nicotine replacement therapies.  We tell all our friends and family and join support groups.  We try these things numerous times and most of the time we fail over and over again.  But sometimes there are successes and we celebrate with those who have gone before us and hope that we can learn something from them to get us through our next attempt.

Here is our success story:  On January 1, 2012, Al, my husband, announced one hour before church that he was going to quit smoking.  He had been sitting with his phone in his hand and had calculated how much the two of us spend on our smoking habit.  It came to $300 a month.  He got up from the couch, grabbed his pack of cigs and walked over to the garbage can.  He crushed the pack in his hand.  “Are you with me?”  I was surprised that I said yes.  I had originally planned to try to stop smoking on this day as a resolution, but when the day drew closer, I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready yet.  So mentally, I was not prepared to start this endeavor.  However, I had been reading in the Bible and hearing from other spiritual leaders about how the wife should be submissive to her husband (I can’t believe I just typed that!  Submissive has never been in my vocabulary before – I hate that word when it comes to being submissive to a man – Ms. Woman’s Lib child of the seventies that I am.)  I had been praying about this issue and when Al said that, I felt lead to follow my husband’s prompting and do as he was suggesting I do.  Here is the key for me.  He wasn’t demanding that I quit with him, so I didn’t feel threatened by submitting to his wish that we stop.  I too, crushed my cigarettes. 

Al wrote in his notes about this day:  “On January 1, 2012 I stopped using cigarettes.  More appropriate, they stopped using me.  The decision was not a New Year’s resolution.  I had been thinking about “When do I quit?” and “How do I quit?” for some time.  Why New Year’s Day?  No particular reason.  I was sitting on the sofa.  I just had a cigarette.  Truth is, I knew I needed a haircut and needed some grocery items and had to put some money in the collection plate at church.  I only had a few bucks until pay day.  I started thinking about how much cigarettes were costing and I didn’t have enough money to do the other things I needed to do and buy a pack of smokes every day.  So, money is my biggest motivator; however, I also know that quitting is important to my health.  With my recent weight loss (95 lbs – inserted by Renee), I feel great.  I started thinking about how cigarettes might be holding me back from other things.  How did I expect to accomplish this?  Through the grace of God.  He promised He will always be there.  What more support do I need.”

After smashing up our cigs, we held hands, stood up and lifted our heads to God and prayed for Him to pull us through the next couple hours, one hour at a time.  We went to church.  It was Communion Day, which for me helped, because in the past after taking the blood and body of Jesus, I had smoked after leaving the church grounds and felt like I defiled Him.  This new day, we left church and didn’t smoke!  It felt great. 

Throughout the rest of the day, when the cravings and withdrawal would start to get the best of us, we would stand up, face each other, hold hands and pray, asking Jesus to please get us through another hour.  We made it through the next 24 hours this way, by the grace of Jesus.  I had gone cold turkey many times in the past and failed, but I never prayed to God for help.  I felt very little physical discomfort this first day.  I didn’t feel like I was going to crawl out of my skin.  I had a few waves of nausea that woke me up during the night, and a slight feeling of panic, but it was brief.  This attempt was going much better than previous attempts.  That first day, besides the praying, I drank lots of water with lemon juice in it.  This I dubbed my waterette.  I would drink my waterette through a straw inhaling the cool refreshing liquid, much like you do with a cigarette.  Every time a craving started, first prayer and then mentally telling myself to go have another waterette.  That’s how it went over the next two days.  Pray.  Waterette.  Sleep.  Pray.  Waterette.  Sleep.  I wasn’t very productive that first week and at times felt guilty, but I knew the most important thing was kicking this addiction, so I mentally gave myself a break. 

Celebration!  The next morning after successfully making it through nearly 24 hours, while doing my usual morning routine of meditating and praying, I felt like God told me to celebrate by going to the Cheesecake Factory in Virginia Beach.  It was the day after New Year’s Day and a holiday for Al.  Logically, it didn’t make much sense to do such an expensive celebration for just 24 hours of success.  But I felt very strongly that God wanted me to do this.  So I told Al.  He may have thought I was nuts, but we got in the car and drove 49 miles to the Cheesecake Factory, my favorite restaurant on the East Coast!  I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy feat to make it there in the car.  First of all, we are both used to smoking in our vehicles and most especially when we are in heavy traffic to help calm our nerves.  Getting into our cars to drive the busiest road in the state probably didn’t make much sense either, because always Al and I end up snapping at each other under these conditions.  But we made it the 49 mile trek without any catastrophe.

Once there, we sat down and just breathed and relaxed and took our time reading the menu.  We didn’t care about the prices – we knew we’d be saving tons of money over the next month.  We congratulated each other for reaching our first major milestone and thanked God for getting us there.  We literally held hands and prayed in the restaurant.  This is something we’d never done on our own before, but it felt so right to give God the glory.  We made plans to celebrate again at 21 days (for they say it takes 21 days to break a habit) and then again on the 1st of the month for the rest of our lives.  We won’t always go to the Cheesecake Factory, but we are going to make it a priority to do something special to celebrate.

We are now on day 16.  I am not naïve enough to think there won’t be hard days ahead.  I just suffered through days 4, 10, 11 and 12.   Those days were extremely difficult for me.  We had to do a lot more praying and I slept a lot.  My oldest daughter, Amber, prayed for me out loud while we were on the phone during several of these near collapse situations and she did such a wonderful job that I thought she was a real preacher and it worked - her prayers got me through the moment that was a turning point - do I smoke or stick with it.  For me in the past, what always brought me back to cigarettes was a crisis or stress.  Now I am shouting out loud at least once a day, “I AM A NON-SMOKER, THANKS BE TO GOD!”   Other times, when I get to feeling blue because I don’t have my former “coping mechanism” I tell myself, “God is my anti-depressant!” and “God is my coping mechanism!” 

I can’t make anyone any promises about tomorrow, not even God.  All I can do is say without a doubt, today I am a non-smoker.  My advice for anyone trying to break a physical addiction:

  1. Lots of prayer not only praying for yourself, but asking others to pray
  2. Lots of water – in this case, I call it my waterette
  3. Lots of sleep at first and lots of forgiveness for yourself when you’re feeling unproductive
  4. Lots of exercise
  5. Celebrate each milestone
  6. Look for resources to help - for example, I found useful info on about.com

            http://quitsmoking.about.com/cs/afterquitting/a/after_quitting.htm

    7.    Remember:  God is an anti-depressant and

                                  God is a coping mechanism

One thing I did learn when reading about physical withdrawal is that it is over in three days, however, the psychological withdrawal that you continue to experience can cause the same physical symptoms.  Interesting, as I kept wondering why I felt so crappy, after the third day. 

God will give you the strength to do whatever you put your mind to do.  Just ask Him.

 

 

(If you enjoy reading any of my postings and you'd like to comment, you are invited to scroll to the end of the page and sign the guest book.  You don't have to fill-in all the information, if you don't want to.  Thank you for reading!)

 

 


January 12, 2012

 

Two Things To Change Winter Funk:  Exercise and Laughter

 The closest sidewalks or walking trails to our home here in Virginia are at least ten miles away, a fact that has been hard to get used to, as South Dakota has an abundance of sidewalks and many miles of walking trails. 

While winters in Virginia doesn’t compare in cold to those back home, it can still seem rather gloomy with gray skies and no leaves on the trees and the grass mostly brown.   So instead of hopping in the car and wasting gas to hunt down a sidewalk, Al and I make do with what we have.

And make do, we do!  Without speaking a word, one of us will jump up and turn on either the stereo, the mini juke box or turn the TV to the Party Favorites music channel.  I set the alarm on my cell phone, turn off all the lights in the house, pull out my flashlight pen and we start boogie dancing all through the house going from the living room, TV room and into the kitchen.  We know that we look silly and it makes us laugh.  All boredom is gone.  We wonder what the neighbors would think if they knew what we were doing in here.  All I have to do is watch Al, so serious in his facial expressions and his tongue hanging out to one side, trying to keep to the beat of the music, and it cracks me up.  He laughs at my big butt gyrating around the room, barely missing knocking things over in its path. 

I’ve got to remember to purchase some glow sticks and some of those neon necklaces.  I think having those will add to our silly, crazy dancing experiences.  Al’s worried that someone is going to call in a burglary, if they see our flash lights roaming around the inside of the dark house.  We chuckle at the thought of having to explain what we are doing to a police officer.  The officer will probably just tell us to turn the music down.  Boy, do we crank it up!

There is no better mood altering experience than dancing and laughing and you don’t have to be intoxicated to do it.  We dance around for thirty minutes and then we feel good about the fact that we got up from sitting around watching TV and sweated off some calories.  

I used to do this with my daughters when they were growing up.  They loved to run to the toy room and throw on their dress-up garments and high heels and dance around.  They always laughed at their dad and I jitterbugging around the dining room.  These were some of the best memories of our family times together. 

Funk and dance just don’t go together unless, of course, you’re funky dancing.   So get up off your couch and MOVE!

 

(If you enjoy reading any of my postings and you'd like to comment, you are invited to scroll to the end of the page and sign the guest book.  You don't have to fill-in all the information, if you don't want to.  Thank you for reading!)

 

 


Posted:  January 9, 2012

 

Ringing the Bell for The Salvation Army

From our association through the church we are attending, Bobby Scarborough, asked if we would be willing to ring the bell for The Salvation Army sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Bobby is in charge of volunteer recruitment for one of the highest fund raising locations in Gloucester County, the ABC Store at York Crossing.   Not only does he recruit, he and his wife, Julia, have volunteered as a bell ringers, also. 

I am ashamed to admit that I had no idea that from past experiences of seeing people ringing the little red bell, standing near the red kettle wearing the red vest with The Salvation Army logo printed on it were volunteers.  I always assumed that they either were paid workers for the organization or were people who received some of the services offered by the programs through The Salvation Army.  I had no idea that the bell ringers were just willing volunteers, not necessarily tied to the organization, giving up a little bit of their own personal time, in an attempt to help raise funds for an organization that does so much for the communities they are serving. 

The Salvation Army collects funds to help provide Christmas presents for children and families without the current means.  They provide heating assistance, food and shelter.  They are a Christian based organization with service as their business.  In 2011, the Gloucester County Salvation Army had to deal with disaster relief due to the effects of a tornado, so they had an especially busy year, coupled with the economy causing stress on many families. 

At first my husband and I weren’t the most willing volunteers unsure of what it would entail, so without Bobby requesting our assistance, we wouldn’t have experienced this opportunity to volunteer and serve others.  I put our names in one of the blocks the weekend after Thanksgiving, knowing that we wouldn’t be traveling and that others might not be available due to family plans.  We showed up at our appointed time and location for our two hour bell ringing session.  To be honest, we were dragging our feet a bit at the prospect of standing outside for the purpose of raising money.  Not that it wasn’t a wonderful cause, just that we were not sure what to expect. 

I adjusted my attitude of one where I was ringing the bell for Jesus.  That’s the only way I felt I could get through this, not being blessed with a very outgoing personality.  My husband, Al, wasn’t as concerned about this part as I was.  Mainly, he was just going with the flow.  I signed us up.  He was just a willing participant, as usual. 

What we were both blown away by during this process of working three sessions, was the generosity of the people.  We witnessed people giving whatever they could find for cash in the pockets as they strolled past on the way to the store inside or coming back out.  Not only that, we witnessed several different times, people who weren’t even stopping at the store, drive up, get out of their vehicles and drop money into the red bucket.  We witnessed people apologizing that they didn’t have any cash on them, as they used the debit cards mostly.  We received many verbal blessings and Merry Christmas wishes from people.  We received many thanks from people walking by for volunteering.  We met others who came by and told us of their experiences as volunteer bell ringers.  We got more out of it than we gave in our time, that is for certain.  It was a humbling experience, a test of will power (it isn’t easy to ring a bell continuously for two hours, while standing on a cold cement sidewalk).  Most of all, it was an uplifting, positive experience and a great way to celebrate the Christmas season.  And it was so wonderful to know the pot was filling up with cash to help people, partly because by ringing the red bell, we were calling attention to a need and giving people were willing to fill that need. 

While we were blessed to contribute a few hours of time, we know a man and his wife who volunteer for a session a day for the whole fundraising time period during the holidays.  Homer Bolton and his wife, Ginny, have been named Volunteers of the Year in the past and more than likely will earn the title again, but that’s not why they do it.  They do it, because they are needed, it is the right thing to do and they enjoy being a part helping others in this way.  They have fun with it, most of all.  They bring along their music box, adorn themselves with elf or Santa regalia and play Christmas carols and sing and dance.  They don’t just ring the bells, they entertain. 

And as we stood in front of the ABC store and saw other locations where The Salvation Army was stationed throughout the community, I realized store owners and managers deserved a big thank you, as well, for allowing The Salvation Army to set up outside their place of business, which can be a little disruptive to the business itself.  It can disrupt the flow of foot traffic.  I am sure that some customers are annoyed by the whole set up.  Fortunately, some businesses in the community are willing to overlook that for the greater good and valuable service The Salvation Army provides to those who need it in the community. 

To learn more about The Salvation Army nationally, please click on the following link:

http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf

 

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Posted:  January 5, 2012

 

She’s Back

On January 1, Oprah began airing her new show, “Oprah’s Next Chapter” on her OWN network.  I’ve got to say that I love this new format even more than I loved the Oprah Winfrey Show, which I watched for most of the past 25 years of my life. 

Her interview with Steven Tyler was enlightening, personal, and candid, so candid, in fact, that she reminded me of Barbara Walters.  It was great to get a glimpse into Steven’s private life and to learn about his success and failures and his beliefs.  Who would have thought that a rock star such as he, who’s done it all, would be so tied to such a beautiful, spirit-filled place, like his lakeside home in New Hampshire, near where he grew up.  What surprised me the most is that his home wasn’t glitzy and glamorous or way far out there.  It looked more like a lodge and appeared homey, cozy and warm.  It looked like a place where I’d feel comfortable. 

I’m not really one who spends a lot of time thinking about stars and their lifestyles, but I enjoyed the insights of this interview and watching the relationship between Oprah and Steven grow into mutual respect and admiration. 

What I think I admire most about Steven is how he handled Oprah’s very blunt questions about how he failed his children by not being there for them.  He didn’t try making excuses or deny the mistakes he made.  He owned up to them.  That takes character and maturity.  As a former free spirit from the 70s and huge fan of Aerosmith (I was lucky enough to see them in concert), I can relate to Steven’s lifestyle, but I lost track of that and him in the 80s, as I began raising my own family.  He tried to have a family life and a rock star career, but in the end, the rock star won out.  But all in all, in spite of his repeated drug use, he now seems pretty grounded and down to earth, but with a wacky far-out side.  You gotta love him.

I can hardly wait to watch her interview with Joel Osteen next week.  He is my favorite TV minister. I know many have tried to put him down, but after watching him for over a year, I cannot see where he’s said anything that would not match what the Bible says.  Sometimes he puts a unique spin on things, but he’s always got a perspective that seems to make sense to me. 

And I’ve been thinking about Oprah and why I’ve always loved her.  Here’s my list:

1.  She believes in God and isn’t afraid to speak out about her beliefs and share them with the rest of the world.  While I don’t always agree with everything she says and does in this area, I admire her for standing up for what she believes to be true and I think she does that out of a genuine caring for her fellow womankind. 

2.  On her shows, she seems to treat everyone the same from her audience members, to her staff, to her guests, except for maybe Tom Cruise and John Travolta – they get a lot of extra praise and attention. 

3.  With Oprah’s Book Club, I was encouraged to get back into reading and for a year, I tried to make it my goal to read every book on her entire list.  I didn’t make it, but I read more that year than I had in many years.  This brought back my lost love of reading and out of the 20 books or so that I read from her list, I loved each and every one of them. 

4.  I admire her work ethic.  She stated on one of her last Oprah Winfrey shows that she never missed a day of work in 25 years.  She dedicated herself to the show and to her audience. 

5.  She is probably the most successful woman in the world and yet she still seems grounded.  I imagine it would be very hard to keep your ego in check if you had her money, her influence and fame.  But she appears to be doing a great job of “not getting too big for her britches” as my Dad used to say. 

6.  I’ve learned a lot from watching her shows in the past.  For example, that is where I first heard about postpartum depression, a condition that I suffered through after the birth of my youngest daughter, but did not know what it was until a few years later.  While it didn’t change anything I went through, it helped to learn that it was a condition and not just me going crazy.  Fortunately, even though for me, the postpartum was left undiagnosed and untreated, no physical harm was done to my children or myself, but I did experience some very strange thoughts and mild hallucinations, which as suddenly as they came on, suddenly disappeared never to bother me again.  I at least had the personal knowledge to be able to share this information with other friends and my daughters and without Oprah’s show, I wouldn’t have known what to call it, that it was fairly common and that I wasn’t alone. 

Thanks, Oprah, I will continue to enjoy you and your shows!

 

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Posted:  January 2, 2012

 

Positive Word of the Day – Empathy

Empathy

  1.  Understanding of another’s feelings
  2. Attribution of feelings to an object
    1. The transfer of somebody’s own feelings and emotions to an object such as a painting

Source:  Encarta Dictionary:  English (North American)

Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.– Oprah Winfrey

"The state of empathy, or being empathic, is to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person." – Carl Rogers, psychologist

“Anyone who has experienced a certain amount of loss in their life has empathy for those who have experienced loss.” -  Anderson Cooper

A few days before Christmas, I was sitting in my car in a parking lot at a strip mall, minding my own business and eating a breakfast sandwich.  I had purposefully pulled to the far corner of the parking lot where I could eat in peace, not wanting to be bothered by incoming traffic.  My mission was to eat and complete my Christmas shopping.

Before I hardly got in two bites, a lady pulled up in the space beside me.  I noticed her window was down.  She waved.  I waved back, but to be honest, I was a little perturbed that she picked the spot right next to me out of all the open area I was in.  She waved again.  I waved back again.  Then she motioned for me to roll down my window.  Inwardly, I groaned, but I rolled it down.  She asked me if I was from Rapid City, having noticed my South Dakota license plates.  She informed me she lived there in the 70’s.  We talked about how much Rapid City has grown since then, while my sandwich was getting cold.  There was a lull in the conversation, so I thought, maybe she’ll be on her way now.  She continued to talk.

She continued on talking about some very personal things that happened in her life.  In a short amount of time, she revealed stuff that most probably wouldn’t tell a stranger.  Some of the things she said, sounded a little bit far-fetched, but I didn’t question her.  I saw a nicely dressed, well-groomed lady, who obviously had some issues in her life.  Mostly she appeared lonely.  She described her life as being one train wreck after another.  I ended up inviting her to Christmas dinner at our house and I also invited her to come to Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church.  She didn’t show up to either.  Before she drove off, she got out of her car and handed me a candle that she had made.  She said she gave it to me, because I was so nice.  I thanked her and she went on her way. 

I had mixed emotions about the experience.  I wondered if I should have been so bold as to invite her to my house, a complete stranger who might have issues I know nothing about, but the reason I did it was because of a sermon from the church about treating people we come across with love and compassion, as you never know, they might be Jesus or an angel of God. 

I am ashamed to admit that I felt a little relieved that she didn’t show up for Christmas dinner.  Then I felt guilty that I didn’t try to show more empathy toward her and her situation.  Maybe this whole experience was a test from God to see if I could handle reaching out and helping others.  I have experienced a few train wrecks in my own life.  I have felt despair and loneliness more than I care to admit.  I may have missed an opportunity to build a new friendship.  I do know for certain that I judged her without knowing her and that I need to ask God for forgiveness on that.  I am certain this is so, as the message on Joel Osteen’s broadcast this morning was about not judging others and about putting yourself in other people’s shoes.  The good news is, I got the message loud and clear.  Thank you, Lord!

 

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