Category Archives: Relationships
I stared at the certificate. A certificate for tandem skydiving. It was a gift for my fortieth birthday from my husband. Good grief. Jumping out of a plane and parachuting to the ground?
We lived in southeastern Washington state at the time, and from a private airport nearby our family orchard, a guy offered tandem skydiving. I don’t remember the guy’s name. What do I remember? Entering a small airport facility and obligingly watching a safety video. Then, scrawling my name on scores of papers to sign off any future liability claims on the guy and his small business. I admit, I didn’t read the paperwork, too impressed with the reality that this gift indeed came with risks.
I remember donning a one-piece suit, very lightweight and colorful. I wore my farm boots and mittens, knowing it would be colder higher in the air. We walked to a personal aircraft and the guy humfed-phoofed open a door. He attached a halter to his upper body then attached a halter to my upper body.
One last click and we were securely attached together. The guy directly behind me. We slid in and sat on the floor of the plane. No seats.
Through anxious eyes, I noticed the pilot was sitting on an upturned bucket. The question came to mind of, a bit rinky-dink don’t you think, Cheryl? But on the farm, rinky-dink was common especially when something broke and a job needed to get done ASAP.
The motor revved. Blades twirled. The plane moved forward and lifted off the ground. The pilot knew what he was doing.
As the plane gained altitude and circled, my heartrate increased. Paralysis set in.
The guy behind periodically looked at his watch, which included an altimeter. I could see the watch because we were attached and when he stuck his arm out, the watch was inches from my face.
A couple of times, he said, “It’s okay if you want to back down now. Say the word and we will go down.”
I almost did say, go down, but later figured that the paralysis that kept me from speaking was more my desire to accept this gift despite the risks.
Then he said, “I’ll open the door and count out loud. On three, jump and arch your back.”
My brain could not process his words along with my desires and fears and wonderings about the children’s piano lessons later. My mind, however, stopped listening to the “me” brain. I had to obey the immediate need so kept repeating as a reminder: On three, jump and arch my back. On three, jump and arch my back. On three, jump and arch my back.
The door went open. I gasped. But on three, jumped and arched my back.
Motor noise was replaced with strong wind. I couldn’t breathe. Air would not go in or out of my nose or mouth. I held my mittened hand in front of my face to block the wind force. Allowing me to breathe.
I looked around. Held my arms out. Completely unaware of the guy attached to me behind.
I listened to beyond the wind. Unseen air currents spoke. Ah-ha, thank you for supporting me, I thought. Then I recalled the guy behind me. He knew how to work with the unseen force, without trying to control it.
A parachute whooshed open. Silence.
I identified an existence intact with the vast landscape of sky, farms, houses, trees, and roads. It countered, no, it encompassed, my familiar yet limited picture of our home community, of which for decades, I’d only absorbed from the ground or inside a plane. This new picture showed the possibility of more. More wholeness.
Soon, we landed in a circle marked out on the ground, within walking distance to the airport, where my husband and two daughters waited to take home a shaky, giddy wife and mother.
I was exhausted for two days. Pretty sure I used a year worth of adrenaline that early clear morning when I accepted a gift that came with risks, kind of like accepting the unseen yet powerful gift of forgiveness for being hurt or hurting others while working to meet the immediate need.
During my college years, I met my future husband. He wasn’t perfect but neither was I. We wed after my graduation, and June 25, 2020 celebrated our thirty-seventh anniversary. Explaining the heartfelt love and truth shown me through our relationship is slippery, like soaping up in the shower with the intent to become squeaky clean, but as the warm water flows, in a blink, I’m fumbling and grasping air in vain because the slick soap escaped my hands to crash to the floor.
Oh sure, I’ve managed to get through a shower without dropping the soap, but no matter what I write, words and human analogies are slippery. They can’t define the love and truth that give meaning to life. Neither can marriage.
Unmarried people also experience the same love and truth that gives meaning to being.
Whether married or not, a relationship is a commitment and the commitment to discover love and truth wins the day.
Not expect. Not demand. Not think, that love and truth, at any point in human life was found or lost in any sense of being complete.
Yes, I feel more complete with my husband and the family we’ve grown, rather than without. And as much as I love, trust, and rely on him, I must, every minute, commit to discovering love and truth, rather than look to see if he took out the garbage, otherwise life becomes empty and love and truth seem to slip away.
But it’s me who slipped. So I re-commit to discovering more of the love and truth that ever belonged and continues to embolden, enrich, and embrace me, my husband, and you.
Ps. 66:5-10–Modern English Version
Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doings toward mankind.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they crossed the river on foot;
there we rejoiced in Him.
7 He rules by His power forever;
His eyes keep watch on the nations;
do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Oh, bless our God, you people,
and make the voice of His praise to be heard,
9 who keeps our soul among the living,
and does not allow our feet to slip.
10 For You, O God, have proved us;
You have refined us, as silver is refined.
Yesterday, I met a woman who recently moved to the Village of Florida. From Alaska. Next to my staying home, her action was avantgarde. But come to think of it, I also know of a young family who moved from New York City to Ireland. And two days ago, an acquaintance told me she’s moving to Hawaii. Well, well, a pretty much global shutdown means we can still be safe and move.
The movees have one thing in common. Downsizing. They happily left behind “stuff” to take on new adventures, new positions in life.
Twelve years ago, my husband, Doug, and I prepared to move from Washington state to New York. Exactly this time of the year. At the beginning of “garage sale” season.
“Hey, Cheryl, the neighbor is having a garage sale today. He said we could put some of our stuff on his lawn,” Doug told me, as I sat in my pjs, sipping from a coffee cup.
Doug took a few nick knacks from shelves and sauntered out the door to the neighbors. He returned for items from the kitchen, then stayed at the neighbors to help with his sale. While I finished breakfast and got dressed.
Soon, Doug dashed back into our house and said, “Wow, it’s busy at the neighbors. So many buyers. Come on, help me carry our sofa outside. We can just put it in our own lawn. The buyers will come over here.”
“Um, are you over doing it?” I asked as I reluctantly carried my end of our sofa outside. “Don’t we want a sofa in New York?”
After plopping the sofa down, I noticed the people. Garage sale lovers, galore. Wandering over the dewy lawn, searching and calculating and deliberating.
Doug and I hauled a few more things outside as requests shouted through the air, “Got some tools? How about an extra pair of boots? My kid needs a bike.” It got to the point where I just brought serious buyers into the house. One savvy lady, looked in on my unmade bed and said, “I’ll buy that bed and let you use it until the day you move before picking it up.”
Needless to say, the three-thousand-mile move to New York occurred with a lot less burden.
In the twelve years since, we haven’t missed a thing. Except. Except, I’ve thought a few times about one picture. It was only a print but worth a lot in sentiment. It’s an image of Daniel standing serenely upright in a lion’s den. Each lion represents a character, of say, hate, fear, envy, revenge, vanity, cowardice, but all unable to move Daniel who is standing still, yet moving in a mind of a humble powerful truth of life, indescribable yet real.
That image shouldered me through a deeply troubling time of self-doubt and loneliness. I was going to bring the picture to New York.
But at the garage sale, I’d taken a woman into the house to show her a dresser. “Follow me, the dresser is in the back room. Sorry for the mess,” blah, blah, I blathered. Until I noticed that she had stopped in front of the picture of Daniel, hanging on the wall in the hall. I stopped. My mouth closed. I observed.
As she began deciphering the many meanings brought about through the image, her face showed a mixture of near-tears relief and recognition of a hope possibly regained after believing it lost.
“Would you sell this?” she asked solemnly.
“To you, yes, five bucks,” I said.
“I’ll pay your more,” she said.
“No. Our deal is to remember we’re not alone and we’re always loved.”
In 1995, Dad died. I still hear him encouraging me to till the ground, plant, grow, and harvest. I have no problem remembering him on Father’s Day.
A good man, not always easy to get along with, Dad taught me how to identify plants and hoe weeds out of potato fields. I couldn’t help but wonder why sometimes, the same plant could be a weed in a potato field and a flower in a garden.
Morning Glory competes for nutrients in a potato field but provides vibrant delight in a garden.
That knowledge, of course, can be observed and applied. Everyday.
Dad didn’t compete for nutrients during my childhood but provided nourishment. I was raised on a steady diet of healthy food, work, and the constant nudging to complete jobs that need to be done and to correct my mistakes.
When I follow through on the nudging, vibrant delight.
After I got married and had two children, we started fostering children. The first child that came to live with us, Junior, had his second birthday during his stay. Junior was afraid of men. Afraid of most everything; vacuum cleaner, Shep the dog, the farm four-wheeler.
The job that needed to be done was introducing Junior to confident courage. I stopped vacuuming the house, just kidding, but vacuumed when Junior was in the other room. I also asked Shep to lay down and wait for Junior to come and pet him. Shep obliged many times over.
As for men, one day, my backup babysitter backed out and I needed childcare. Mom volunteered. Super grateful, I took our girls and Junior to Mom and Dad’s house before going to my appointment.
A few hours later, I returned to Mom and Dad’s house. I walked into the mudroom and was quietly astounded to see Dad, squatting on the floor with a knee up. Junior was perched on his knee, looking at a tool Dad had. Dad carefully put Junior on the ground to stand. Junior stood tall and held Dad’s hand as they went off to fix, nothing. With Dad’s guidance, Junior plied that tool to the air or maybe an engine in his mind’s eye, with sheer delight.
Christian Science Review, Part 7
Question: What is substance?
Answer: Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of disorder and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance as Scriptures use this word in Hebrews: “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Spirit, the synonym of Mind or God, is the only real substance. The spiritual universe, including individual persons, is a united idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit.
Think on this:
Because it’s difficult to wrap our heads around the substance of Spirit, we take it a step at a time. Or, I should say, we take it a thought at a time!
When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts of substance would be my bed and the sunlight. After a few minutes, I may think hunger is substance.
But after eating breakfast, hunger is gone, and satisfaction feels substantial.
By then, I’ve fed and cuddled my cats.
When I sit for a few minutes of quiet time, I realize that all those thoughts are similar, not really new or different from one another. I wait for another thought.
A thought of Spirit.
As for my morning, I separate the thoughts of rest, satisfied desire (hunger), and love, from bed, food, and my cats. This doesn’t mean my bed, appetite, and cats are forgotten.
I take the thoughts of rest, satisfied desire, and love and attach them to God, Spirit. To give Spirit substance. And because God created everything, even if I don’t completely understand all that God created, I’m then able to circle around and apply the rest, satisfied desire, and love to not only the bed, appetite, and cats, but also the rest of my day involving my job, expectations, and family.
 Heb. 11:1 (NKJV)
A chapter from my book, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter
Keeping It Straight
The farmer’s market got a reputation. Officials from other markets, including from the Seattle Pike’s Place Market, visited Pasco to watch its operation. I’d give them tours and answered questions. They took notes. The standard comment to me was, “I can’t believe you don’t have theft problems.”
The comment tempted me to pat myself on the back. I diligently prayed for honesty and believed my prayers had positive effects. Cash was the main currency. In the crowded hubbub, purses were opened and closed. Pants pockets were dug through for money and dollar bills were handed to farmers, who threw the money in shoeboxes and crates.
In an apron tied around my waist, I carried thousands of dollars from paid vendor fees, even serving as the local bank for change. Theft was only mentioned once.
A vendor noticed a pair of handcrafted wooden earrings missing from his rack. Two weeks later he told me, almost incredulously, “Cheryl, those earrings reappeared on the table.”
My prayer for honesty was fine and good, but I knew the people and atmosphere had a lot to do with it. The customers genuinely appreciated the fresh produce, handed to them by the very people who put their hearts and souls into the products. The vendors were from family farms, not corporations. There was no middleman to dilute the authenticity. The good outweighed the bad.
Not that it was all hunky-dory. Irritation, jealousy, and plain old weariness crept in periodically to throw us off guard. Fortunately, we’d help one another get back on track quickly, even when we didn’t know it. Like the time a woman helped me correct myself.
It was a scorching August day when more than seventy vendors showed up. I wiped salty perspiration from my eyes and was menstruating, not always a trouble-free task for me. I moved cautiously so blood wouldn’t start rolling down between my legs. People kept asking me for help, keeping me from walking across the street to where the bathroom was located.
I watched three vendors walk up to me at once, all talking, or rather complaining. When they were standing within an arm’s reach in front of me, I held up my hand, palm out as a stop sign. They stopped and quieted. I pointed to the person I figured would be the quickest to deal with. “I need change for this $50,” he said. I made the change.
I pointed to the second person, who said, “I need plastic bags.”
“You can buy some bags at stall three,” I answered, and then looked at the woman who stood with an agitated, indignant expression on her face.
“You told me to sell from stall fifteen and there is no way I can get in that stall. Do you see all these people? I have a truckload of peppers and tomatoes and need to get them out of the sun. It’s impossible to get in stall fifteen. I’ve tried. There’s no way.”
In the middle of her verbal explosion, I saw a thought pass through my head that harkened unmistakably: Women like you are why we are considered the weaker, dumber sex.
Though feeling annoyed, I said to her, “Please take me to your truck and I will help you.” I followed and asked her if it’d be okay if I backed her truck into stall fifteen. She gave me her keys and within two minutes she was selling her produce, relieved and happy.
Oddly, I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt a bit chastened.
When walking to the bathroom. I quickly realized I’d judged the woman alongside the thought that some women feed male chauvinism. I’d spent my life dodging male chauvinism because plenty of men treated me with prejudice, as if I was weak and dumb. So, why would I entertain what amounted to a male chauvinist thought?
Later in the day, I took the time to answer that question the best I could. It dawned on me chauvinism wasn’t gender specific. It was simply narrow-mindedness, a laziness that doesn’t help others. I would be adding to it if I accepted that thought about the woman that had passed through my head earlier. I mentally re-routed my thinking to admit it was chauvinism that annoyed me, not the woman. I affirmed that I didn’t help the woman because she was daft, but because I could help her in a way she understood. We were equals.
It was an exercise in breaking apart thoughts and reconnecting useful thoughts to get a more inclusive picture. The exercise helped me later when reading the Bible at home.
I read the story about Elisha who met a distraught mother in debt. She was about to lose her sons as payment for the debt. Elisha asked, “What do you have in your house?”
The mother had some oil.
Elisha instructed her to borrow a bunch of jars. When she poured her little bit of oil in the jars the oil multiplied miraculously. She sold the oil and paid off the debt.
It was the question, “what’s in your house,” that shifted my mental strategy. Instead of thinking and acting from the premise that I lack, why not ask what I have?
I had food, shelter. I even had stuff in storage, nearly forgotten. We certainly had family love. And then whomp, the thought to foster children landed in my creaked-open mind. I needed to share family love.
I went to the phone and called the State Social Services Department. A social worker came to our house to start the process of licensing me and Doug as foster parents. She examined our house, nodding in approval. Where I saw puny, she saw modest. Where I saw ugly, she saw practical. Where I saw cheap, she saw affordable and clean. Within a few weeks, 2-year-old Junior came to live with us.
Leah and Carly didn’t mind a stitch when we moved their clothes dresser out of their bedroom into the kitchen so we could fit a crib next to their bunk bed. The girls had fun showing Junior the swing set and forts.
Unexcitable by physical color, shape, or size, Junior ambled as fast as his chubby legs could carry him to keep up with the girls. He adored hugs and book reading time.
Junior helped solidify in my mind the concept of a Father-Mother God that cares for us all. With a divine Parent, the temptation to condemn his human parents died off.
We continued fostering children for the next fifteen years.
I learned that I never lost what I didn’t have. I learned that I can increase what I have.
“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.”
Mark 3:27 provides a basis for separating the person from the evil. The “strong man” is the devil, a demon, and Christ Jesus cast out demons or evil spirits, leaving behind healed individuals.
The “goods” of evil are depression, jealousy, fear, for examples. Christ is my authority to bound evil and plunder those goods. To bound evil is to immobilize jealousy, fear, and self-doubt. This weakens the devil and strengthens us to clean out our house and experience a freer consciousness.
Just before Easter, you can find that special gift for others or yourself at two Springtime Craft Shows:
Saturday, March 24th, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Binghamton University in New York
Sunday, March 25th, from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. at Wayne Valley High School in New Jersey
Stop by my vendor booth and check out the books I’ve written. Good reads about relationships, mindfulness, an Easter dog, family, women progressing along with men.
Divine love can’t be interrupted.
The continuity of God’s love persists through time and change.
Here is an example:
Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with a friend I hadn’t talked to in two years. We both are busy in life, yet we think of one another often with thoughts of joy and compassion. Those memories and expectations are what keep love continuous.
The second we connected on the phone, our conversation was serious and happy. There was no discussion about weather, politics, or trivial tidbits. She told me about her niece, who is living with her and her husband now because the niece’s mother just never adapted to motherhood and moved to Mexico.
The niece had fallen back two grades before moving in with my friend and her husband. She is in sixth grade now and doing well in school. And playing the flute in band.
Love is magnified with gratitude.
Even though we don’t talk with one another often, our love stays uninterrupted, unbroken, and only gets stronger and clearer.