I Don’t Dream ~ and I don’t cry

Emil Navor, WWII
Emil Michael Navor,  WWII, US Army, Pacific Arena

Yet, this morning I woke up dreaming about my dad’s memorial service, eighteen years ago, when I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t usually do either of those things: dream in my sleep that I can recall, or often cry.

That morning, the tears seemed to come up from my toes. I dremt an exact recall of how my BFF childhood girlfriend Christine Sloat White comforted me on the way out of the sanctuary. Christine died way too early of ovarian cancer, and as was her own personal style, carried herself with extreme dignity, right tot he end thinking of others.

 

Christine Sloat White

Christine Sloat White, Titusville, Fl

 

 

 

 

I only have one digital photo of my dad. So, I dragged out the two boxes of photos I have in my house in NYC, thinking I’d try to take a digital shot of an old snapshot. However, I couldn’t find any. Most of my photos (copious amounts of them) were shipped to Florida, as I’m in transition for a retirement move south. Likewise I only have one digital shot of Christine stored in my computer.

 

As I got out of bed this morning, I flashed to my father’s hospital bedside after the stroke that left him speechless in 1997. My dad had spent a lifetime angry at God over the very early death of his own father, which thrust his mother, sister, and himself into years of hardship. Using the GI Bill, he turned to education and philosophy for answers and obtained a college degree. Much later in life he added two masters degrees. He spoke three languages. None of this made him less angry with God. He spent the overwhelming portion of his adult life as a highly vocal agnostic. Honesty was his strong suit, and he freely admitted thinking about death made him very uneasy.

I visited my dad in the Catholic hospital in upstate New York, following his stroke. He couldn’t speak, but he had full use of his hands. A retired English high school teacher, speech teacher, debate coach, and high school senior play director, he had no trouble using words. He described on paper how he had been drawn to a particular statue of a baby, actually what appeared to be a Middle Eastern mother, father, and infant. He’d ask the nurses or aides to push his wheelchair into the waiting room where the wooden statue was displayed. He’d sit there gazing at it, he said, in a total peace he had never felt before. He wrote on his notepad, “Why do you think that is?”

I asked my dad, “Do you know who is depicted in that statue?” He didn’t know. So, I told him it was the Holy Family. The baby he was so drawn to, the one where gazing upon the infant carved in wood gave him such peace, was in fact, the baby Jesus. He was nonplussed. A shy smile crossed his face.

He also told me in writing how a particular nun who worked in the hospital would come to see him every day and something happened. She lit up the room. He couldn’t wait to see her. I later sought this nun out in her office to thank her for such kindness to my father. I was overwhelmed. I explained to her he’d been an agnostic most of his life and somehow he’d seen light in her. I told her how he had been drawn to the statue of the baby Jesus, and how I believed he’d had a profound experience of the Savior. For the first time in his life, he had experienced the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.

That little visit didn’t go well. She was shocked and horrified. I came to believe, she saw  a man who was going to hell if he didn’t get baptized, make his First Communion and get confirmed. Born again Christians might say she had a religious spirit. That’s a spirit of man-made religious stuff that’s not in the Bible. I’m not being antiCatholic. Christians have in the past, and some still do, make up all kinds of stuff that’s not in the Bible, such as you can’t dance or drink alcohol.

My Bible says Jesus turned water into wine for his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. I’ll bet there was plenty of dancing at that wedding. Jews always dance at weddings. I lived next to a religious Jewish family in Brooklyn for over 13 years. It would be quite usual on Friday evenings and on Saturday for friends to come over to celebrate the Sabbath. I’d often hear them laughing, singing, and feet-stompin’ dancing. And let’s not forget Jesus changed water into wine. That was after the guests at the wedding at Cana had consumed all the wine the host provided. The Bible says wine enough to fill six, large, stone purification water jars. These jars usually held 20 – 30 gallons. That’s a lot of wine. Some Christians insist the ‘wine’ they drank was really grape juice. I take my Bible literally. If it says wine, it means wine. It also says, the headwaiter told the bridegroom this last wine was the best. I’ve never been at any kind of social occasion where anyone has said, “This last grape juice was the best.” However, there have been endless hours spent talking about the merits of one particular wine vs. another.

But I digress. I believe, this precious nun was dismayed because she saw in my dad, a man going to hell. I was so grateful to her for being a representative of Jesus, walking into his room. I was grateful to the nurses and aides who pushed my dad’s wheelchair into the waiting room where he could spend time with the Holy Spirit who obviously did a work in him. I saw a man who had had an encounter with the living God who loved him, offered him peace, and extended an invitation to one day go to heaven.

 

Remembering Mom and Grandma ~ on Mother’s Day

Grandma, Grandpa, Family

I’ve got tons of snap shots of my mom, her mother, and my father’s mom, but nothing digital except this one. I wouldn’t have this photo if my cousin Bruce hadn’t sent it to me a few years ago.

My mom, Helen N. Navor, is the second from the left in the first row. My grandmother, Catherine Novogrodsky, naturally sits in the center.

Thinking of them all on Mother’s Day.

 

WHO/WHAT IS THIS INNER CRITIC? ~ the one pop-culture talks about

 

Depression memeSilence your inner critic, they say. These are the tapes from your past, the ones that seem to run on a loop. These tapes say, “There’s nothing special about you,” or “You’ve made too many mistakes to make anything of yourself now.” Many of these tapes have been passed down in families from generation to generation. “Your grandpa was a hard drinker, just like your dad. You probably will be too.” This type of negative prognosticating goes on in many families without much thought. It’s become a damaging habit that’s often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Words have power. If you say over-and-over, “Like the rest of my family, I’ll probably never amount to much,” you probably never will. These “internal tapes” can be seen as generational curses. What is a curse? It’s words…negative words pronounced over somebody or something. A generational curse is something negative that seems to travel in families and it’s accompanied by destructive words the family says about itself and others say about it.

What we want to strive to do is pronounce a positive and holy vision over our lives and bestow a blessing upon ourselves and others. Habakkuk 2:2 [ESV] ~ And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. I like to write Scripture out. When I see a Word for me in Scripture and I write it down, I’m the one who reads it, and I’m the one who runs with it.

It’s my belief that we Christians should speak about ourselves and see ourselves the way the Lord sees us. The Scripture says in Psalms 139: 3 – 14 [NASB] ~ 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

A lot of people like to say the Scripture aloud that pertains to their particular situation, and I do believe saying a Scripture out loud can stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks. This is what Jesus did when the devil tempted Him. If it worked for Him it will work for us.

 

What to Call a Young(ish) on-the-go Grandmother

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Right now this is the most important issue in my life. Somehow “Grandma” doesn’t do it for me. And I don’t want any of the boring aged-sounding ones like Granny.  And Grammy sounds like an award.

I found out east-coast Italian-American grandmothers are being called Me-Me, the French Canadians spell it Meme (pronounced with a long ‘e’). That has a certain elan to it. I’ve also heard southern grandmothers called that. Italian grandmothers are also called Nona. Oma and Opa is of German descent. Baba and Lala has Eastern European roots. Yaya is Greek. Mummers sounds oh, so British.

I’ve heard one little boy couldn’t pronounce ‘grandma’ and the family wound up with ‘Mega.’ I’ve also heard toddlers can spit it out as ‘Mawa’ or any way they want.

Then there’s Nonnie,  Nonny, or Nandy.

GRANDMAS STILL WANNA KICK UP THEIR HEELS AND MIX IT UP A BIT…

I think Mumzie is cute. Though I don’t think I could be  Mumzie. Could I? Maybe. It’s cute.

I’ve heard there’s a trend toward words: Happy, Huggy, Lovey, Peaches, Punky, and the like. Things they are a changing. At one time I might’ve been called ‘funky’. It had a whole different meaning waaay back then. It meant ‘cool’ or ‘admirable’. Trust me. It did. Could I be called ‘Punky’? That makes me think of Punk Rock. There’s a problem when words mean different things to the different generations.

Where would a list be without a few celebrity grandma names. Debby Reynolds: Aba Daba. Joan Rivers: Nana New Face (speaks for itself). Goldie Hawn: Glam-ma. I’ve heard Glamma (glamorous grandma) is popular in Hollywood.

Then there’s GG for “grace-filled grandma” or “groovy grandma” (my age is showing again) or”genius grandma” or “greatest grandma” or “gorgeous grandma” or “generous grandma”. That last one is what the grandchild will most likely say it stands for. I also like GG.

 

 

My 2016 Blessing Jar ~ quite a work this year

 

IMG_1850In the middle of last year I went blessing jar minimalist. I wanted to get the all mighty me out of the way. I took a pickle jar that struck my fancy and simplified the entire blessing jar phenomena. Slapped a label on it and took my list out of the old jar and rehoused it.

2016 is the third year I’m involved with a blessing jar. I say ‘involved with’ because to me a blessing jar is so much more than creating a jar reflecting one’s essence, or mood, or with ribbon in one’s favorite color.

A blessing jar is a spiritual adventure. The past two years, they have been my spiritual vision for the year in lieu of new years resolutions.

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This year it went further than that. I knew something was taking hold of me but didn’t quite know what. So, I went to Michael’s and bought some glass painting pens and painted a few flowers on my jar while I ruminated. I’m no artist but I think it’s kinda cute.

 

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Then the real deal took hold of me and I began writing out what would be inside my blessing jar. This year it was far more than a list of spiritual goals for the new year. It became a prayer of petition as I’d never done one before. You see, I had just come across Jerry Savelle’s teaching on The Prayer of Petition as a formal, written out spiritual document according to God’s will. So, I prayed about God’s will for me and sited Scripture for each point in the petition. This took the better part of January. Then I sewed a financial seed toward it, signed it, and took communion over it.

IMG_1866Like in past years, I folded it up and put it in my blessing jar. In past years it had been one sheet of paper with a list on it. This year it became a letter to God with a petition attached… three sheets, on both sides, because I sited Scripture for the points listed in my prayer…as to how my petition was according to God’s Word.

I’ve always kept my blessing jar near my computer and referred to it throughout the year. The document I write at the beginning of the year deals with my life for the upcoming year and my hopes and dreams for my loved ones. However, during the year, as I pray for others, I often write their names and the prayer down on a piece of paper, date it, and stick it in the blessing jar. Then from time-to-time I’ll open my blessing jar, refer to what I’ve written inside, and thank the Lord for everything He’s doing in my life and for the people I’m praying for.

Habakkuk 2: 2-4 [NASB] ~ Then the Lord answered me and said,“Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

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When the ‘Strong Ones’ Come to the End of Self ~ and let Jesus take over

Wonder Woman Doll

I think often its Christians who see themselves as the ‘strong ones’ who have the biggest problem surrendering totally to Jesus, and I include myself in that group. It’s not that we don’t believe, we do. It’s not that we don’t honor Him, we do. It’s not that we don’t see Him as Savior and Lord, we do. It’s that we have a human history of taking care of everyone’s mess that gets in the way of us giving it all to Him.

Here we are saved, in some cases saved for years, and the mess around us is getting worse and worse. Family members not only are not saved, they’ve had numerous sexual partners, are having abortions, getting arrested, drinking excessively or taking drugs. Our spouse just asked for a divorce. We have aging parents with encroaching dementia and since we’ve always been the ‘strong one’, the siblings have abdicated all responsibility…and we’re now at the point where our knees are bending under the weight. Or, we support not only ourselves, but also an out-of-work sibling and now we’ve had a job loss and the fear the bank will soon foreclose.

The so-called ‘strong ones’ have been running from pillar-to-post picking up the pieces, holding it all together, but now, after years of this, are literally shaking apart. We might even be developing mental health symptoms. We think, how can that be? I’ve been saved for years. As we sink to our knees in utter defeat, I kinda think God says, “Finally, you’re handing it to Me. I couldn’t do anything with what you were holding on to.”

I think sometimes we have a secret sin (missing the mark), which involves shame…shame for things we could not control. We could not control our mother’s or sister’s or daughter’s promiscuity. We could not handle, heal, or successfully hide our father’s, brother’s, son’s alcoholism or drug abuse. We could not have prevented our own sexual abuse as a child. Yet we are dying inside from shame. Literally dying. We developed agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some of us have cleaned and recleaned our homes until they sparkle. We’ve literally been on the verge of losing our minds. But how could that be when we are saved? And not only saved, we’ve always been the ‘strong ones’.

And Jesus says, “I’ve been waiting for you to hand it all to Me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we come to the end of our own strength and admit we do not in fact have the stamina or the wherewithal to fix everything, we can finally surrender to Him and begin to heal.

Frugal at Christmas ~ doesn’t mean you’re a Scrooge

Christmas candes

I’m a believer in God’s blessing. I believe He delights in blessing those who love and follow Him. That said, I also believe in good stewardship. And I don’t believe ‘frugal’ and ‘blessing’ are opposed to each other.

I’m also a list maker and one who always has Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

If statistics are correct, a great number of people, when the January bills came in last year, nearly had a stroke? Their Christmas spending literally wiped out their savings? It would be a good idea not to do that again this year. Proverbs 21:20 [The Living Bible] ~ The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

Tips For A Wonderful Christmas Than Won’t Break The Bank:

Tip #1: Decide what you can afford to spend…and then pay with cash. People who use cash spend less than those who pull out the plastic. Paying cash insures you won’t go into debt.

Tip #2: Make a list (not a naughty or nice one). Simply divide your budget by the number of people on it. You might have to make two lists, one for the people you’ll be giving more expensive gifts (loved ones), and one for associates you’d like to bless but you intend to spend less. With either list, if the ideal gift for one is less than you’re spending for others (but is still in the ball park and doesn’t look cheap), don’t try to compensate by throwing in a bunch of pointless do-dads that eat up money. If it looks cheap, then perhaps you should question if it’s ideal. Remember frugal doesn’t equal cheap.

Tip #3: Have your list in your hand when you shop for gifts (or for food, for that matter). Stores will have incredible Christmas sales and you’ll be tempted to overbuy. This is also where shopping with cash will help you. You can’t buy it if you can’t pay for it. Leave your credit cards home.

Tip #4: If you have an aging parent, get all the “kids” together to purchase one big, more expensive item mom or pop might be yearning for but can’t afford, rather than a bunch of smaller gifts.

Tip #5: Create a Christmas menu for your holiday dinner(s) and/or buffet(s). Make a list . Don’t wander around the super market picking up whatever catches your eye. If you do that, you’ll wind up with items you won’t use and have to come back for what you should’ve purchased the first time — a costly mistake.

Tip #6: If you shop with coupons (and that’s a real good idea) throw away those for items you don’t usually use. Don’t wait until you get into the store because you might succumb to the temptation to purchase those items because they’re a bargain…and honestly, you’ll be staring at them on your shelf for a long time until you finally throw them out.

Don’t forget to include in your budget a gift to whatever mission or charity your church is sponsoring this Christmas. Send a check to a TV or radio ministry you’ve watched for years but have never financially supported. Give to your local food bank. Whenever you see a Salvation Army worker ringing a bell, throw a dollar or two into the pot. A wonderful idea is to fill a shoebox and send it to Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child. Or you can fill a box online, or simply make a small contribution. While we’re cautious about spending, we can budget in ways that honor the Kingdom of God.

Nativity figures