Game, Set, Match.

Game, Set, Match.

I’ve heard it said that friendship is a lot like playing ball; kind of like tennis. It takes two to volley, and the longer the volley, the more the fun. The back and forth of the tennis ball is like the conversations and fun we have in friendships. You both take turns and you can’t play by yourself!  You have to volley the ball back and forth in each other’s court to play; much like the back and forth interaction we have in friendships. I have fond memories of my first friends:

Annette 

Annette was cute and bubbly, the same age as me, and full of mischief! She lived in our neighborhood for a pretty short time; I was so sad when she moved away!  My funniest memory of us was when she convinced me that it’d be fun to put apples in our shirts and then go show her mom. I remember thinking it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I was right; her mom wasn’t too happy with us and I was so embarrassed! And what made it worse, I think Annette told her mom it was my idea! Ha! 

Lynn

Lynn was also a neighbor; she lived two doors down from our house and although Lynn was a couple of years younger than me, we got along well. Her house was warm and inviting, filled with antiques and the tick-tick of an old clock. We almost always played indoors so I guess that’s why I remember her house so much. Lynn was quiet and small for her age and she was super sweet. I remember her mom telling me that Lynn was fragile and couldn’t play outdoors or as often as I wanted to play. As life would have it, and I guess because of our age difference, we didn’t play together much past those initial couple of years. Years later, I was sad to hear she had passed away in the prime of her life.

Carla

Carla and I met in 3rd grade; she was a beautiful girl with a sweet personality. She had the prettiest smile and a flawless tan complexion. Most of my memories of us consisted of playing Barbie dolls together. She moved away sometime during grade school then moved back to town during our high school years, but so many years had passed, we barely seemed to know each other.

Judi

Judi lived next to the grade school and I thought that was so cool! Ha! She was creative, fun to be around, and we had a common love, as so many others girls in 1964: The Beetles! We used to practice cheers, play Four-Square, teatherball, and her mom would drop us off to go shopping downtown Indianapolis, all by ourselves! I felt so grown up! I think we were only 10 or 11 years old at the time and I guess it was considered safe back then! I remember going with her family on a trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. I thought that was the coolest place in the world!  We lost touch after 6th grade when we went to different junior high schools for 7th – 9th grade. We ended up going to the same high school but it wasn’t until the end of our sophomore year that I realized who she was! She had grown about 6 inches taller than me and I hadn’t even recognized her. It was sad though, because we both acted like we didn’t even know each other anymore. Four years had passed and I think I was afraid to talk to her; we weren’t little girls anymore.

Donita

I met Donita in 7th grade junior high and we were fast friends! We’d talk on the phone for hours and hours! I remember my dad getting so annoyed because I would be on the phone almost every night with Donita.  This was back when we only had home phones, and they were attached to the wall!  I would lay on the floor in the living room and stretch the cord out of shape, and my dad would complain that nobody could get through to us because I was always on the phone!  Eventually I got a phone installed in my room (which I painted bright orange!) but we still only had one line.  Donita and I loved hanging out together; our common interest was talking about boys. Some of my favorite memories include just spending the nights over at each other’s house and when she went with us on a family vacation to Indiana Beach:

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Then one day Donita told me that they had to move to Georgia because her dad was being transferred.  We cried for hours – both on and off the phone! We kept in touch by writing letters for the first few years of years (which I still have) and when I graduated from high school, I flew down to Florida and met her in Atlanta on a one hour stopover at the airport. As the years went by we lost touch. I thought of her often, and then a few years ago I remembered a picture that she had sent me of her baby girl with her name written on the back of it. I did a Facebook search and found her daughter, who then gave me her email address.  We connected up again and I got to visit with her, again in Atlanta, but this time we met for lunch. It was good to see her and to be back in contact after all those years. That’s one of my favorite reasons I like Facebook. It helps connect you and keep you in contact with old friends!

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Penny

Penny and I met in Junior High and our common interest was shopping, Janis Joplin. rock bands, and boys. We had lots of fun together and I don’t know how, but somehow we managed not to get into too much trouble!  One night we took her brothers car out for a drive (she drove, not me!) and we were probably only 14 or so.  We went to parties together and we loved to dance. We’d dance at the Sherwood Country Club for hours and thought we were so cool because we made friends with some of the band members. We went to rock concerts like Three Dog Night, Chicago, and Iron Butterfly. Here’s we are in 1969 with my brother who had just graduated from Navel training:

Me, Ron and Penny 1969

And some pictures of us at Indiana Beach:

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Me and Penny 1969

I remember Penny always had a beautiful tan (even in the winter!) and I tried so hard to get as tan as her. One day, after laying out for several days in the summer sun, her mom told me, with a serious face, “Elaine, you should get out in the sun more.” 😁 Ha!

1969 Penny and me

Here we are at our 40th high school reunion in 2012:

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The first time I read this verse, I assumed that it referred to friends:

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24b

Later in life, I learned and realized that the “friend” in this verse is referring to Jesus. He, in fact, is my closest friend, far and above all others.

Then, in the late 1980’s I remember hearing this next verse in a sermon and it really caught my attention. It’s funny how you can hear or read a Bible verse several times and then, all of a sudden, it’s as if it’s the first time you’re hearing it. Interestingly, it’s the first half of Proverbs 18:24:

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly,”  Proverbs 18:24a

I’ve thought about that verse a lot over the years, yet throughout most of my adult life, I’ve found it difficult to allow myself the luxury of taking time for friends. First of all, I think it’s easy for us to get “out of the practice” of friendship. We get busy with kids, work, and just the busyness of life.  And second, for as long as I can remember, I always felt different from everybody else; like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.  So for me, it was a lot easier to do “things” rather than “friendships.”  I have no problem with being friendly but I do shy away from making friends.  Even today, I know that my friends are all by the grace of God, and I’m thankful for each one, but I still have a tendency to put family, work, church and simple everyday obligations ahead of friendships.

But, if my older self could go back and talk to my younger self, my best advise would be this:

  • Make time for friends; step out of your comfort zone.
  •  It’s ok to take time to cultivate and maintain friendships; “things” can wait.  
  • Don’t be such a loner; everyone needs a friend.  
  • Don’t be afraid people won’t like you; nobody is perfect.  
  • And most of all, get in the practice of friendship; don’t get so used to being alone that it’s too hard to change.  

So this blog is both about me and for me. I need to be continually reminded to stay in the game; not to drop the ball or quit; to serve; and to return the ball whenever it lands in my court!  But it’s also for anyone who finds themselves described anywhere in this blog.  I’ll close with this quote from C. S. Lewis:

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

 

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He “Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”

He “Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”

 

 

🎼 “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” by Barbara Mandrell, was a popular song in 1981. I wasn’t much of a country music fan but this song caught my attention; the lyrics made me think about my dad. He had passed away in 1978.

He was a good dad in many ways. He loved his kids, he loved my mom. We lived in a nice home in a nice neighborhood, always had good food (my mom was a good cook!) and plenty of clothes. We had lots of great Christmas memories and he always made sure we went on vacation every summer; I think my love for travel came from my dad and all of our fun vacation memories.

He was also a sentimental man; tears would come to his eyes whenever he talked about his mom who died when he was only 9 years old. He suffered from polio in the 1950’s and as a result had one weak arm and one weak leg that caused him to be frail and walk with a limp. But he never let his disability keep him from working and living life. In fact, while I was growing up, he always had two jobs; working for White Castle on the weekdays and playing guitar at night on the weekends. He worked during the day because he had 6 kids to feed; he played guitar at night because he loved country music and playing the guitar.

He taught himself how to play guitar when he was in high school; he played by ear and was pretty good at it. I remember he told me that the principal at his high school used to ask him to play his guitar for impromptu convocations. Here’s a photo of him, I think in 1938, with his guitar and wearing his Cloverdale High School letter sweater that he earned playing basketball:

Dad 1

Later, he made a couple of records (45 LPM) and played in various bands over the years including “The Hoosiers” and “Boomer and the Boomertones.”‘ He played on a local TV station in Indianapolis on a show called Mid-Western Hayride in the 1950’s and worked nights at local taverns playing country music throughout most of my childhood.

Dad

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He recorded hours and hours of his music, first on Reel-to-Reel tapes, then on cassettes. Our garage and our basement were like recording studios. I have lots of childhood memories of all sorts of musicians coming over to our house to play music. When they played in the basement, it would be full of laughter, cigarette smoke, long neck bottles and loud country music. When I was in my teens, he tried and tried to teach me how to play but I’d complain that the guitar strings hurt my fingers. That was my excuse (although true), but in reality I just didn’t think country music or playing the guitar was very “cool” back then.  Somehow, I was unimpressed by all of it.

Inescapably and as life would have it, the good times were mixed with the bad. Actually my dad’s preferred mix was Seagram’s 7 and 7UP. Nearly every night he would drink 7&7’s. He’d even have me make it for him if I was nearby. He was quiet and kind during the day and then he’d be argumentative at night. It was literally like night and day. I remember thinking everybody’s dad drank 7&7 every night because that’s what mine did. I think it could be best be described as controlled chaos; it would be crazy at times then everything would be fine the next day. Then one tragic day in 1963 my oldest brother died in a car wreck and our whole family was devastated. My dad had such a hard time coping and was in so much pain. We all were in pain really. During the following 2 or 3 years I witnessed him attempt suicide on two occasions. It’s hard to explain my feelings through the eyes of 9, 10 or 11 year old, but I mostly remember feeling so sorry for my dad but not knowing how to help him – mixed with some anger because it was just so hard to process. Those years were hard; it was a hard time in all of our lives back then. A few years later in 1973, I did what we all do when we grow up; I moved out to live on my own.

In 1978 I moved back home right around the same time that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He passed away within 6 months of his diagnosis. I remember the night my (future) husband carried him from the house to the car to take him to the hospital where he went into a coma and then passed away two weeks later.  Here’s a photo of us together at a family picnic a couple of months before he passed away:

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Cancer is a horrible disease and I hate it, but at the same time, I believe it’s a hidden blessing to have the time between the diagnosis of cancer and the time of passing: time to collect your thoughts; time to heal relationships and; time with God. I believe it was God’s providence that drew me back home during that time. I got to spend those last few months living with my dad and my mom while he was going through cancer treatments. It was then and there that I saw my dad read his bible and pray. He talked about God and I saw his bible study notes. He had both old and new notes in his bible. I also learned that he was a Christian long before I was even born. That surprised me because I thought that Christians were supposed to be “perfect” and that they didn’t have any problems. In reality I believe my dad struggled with many real life problems – losing his mom at such a young age, the polio, the alcohol, the death of my brother, etc., each that turned into heavy burdens in his life. In fact, Christians aren’t immune from problems; God uses them to get our attention and ultimately to draw us closer to Him.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Now at this time in my own life, my walk with God wasn’t very close – I was keeping Him at a distance. Even still, I believe God’s grace was at work in my life and that this period of my dad’s passing and me being present in his life during this time was all part of His plan in both of our lives.

And looking back, I realize I was not as close to my dad while I was growing up as I wish I could have been. I think I kept him somewhat at a distance as well.  While my love for my dad has always been there and I never doubted that he loved me, somehow my feelings and compassion for him have actually grown since his passing.  And, if he were here today I would tell him how much I love him and that I now understand that life is not perfect; people are not perfect; Christians are not perfect; difficult things happen in life; and that we all make choices in life that we may later regret. Jesus is the only One who has led a perfect life. If my dad were here today, I’d tell him I’m sorry I didn’t let him teach me how to play the guitar. I’d tell him that his guitar and his country music were “cool.” Most of all, I’d tell him that he was in fact, very “cool.”

“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

 

Query Me Quirky  “Even the hairs of your head…” Matthew 10:30 

Query Me Quirky  “Even the hairs of your head…” Matthew 10:30 

🌸   When I was a little girl back in the 1960’s, I wanted to look like, no – I wanted to be Elly May Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies. It was her long blonde hair and her down-to-earth personality that impressed me, and also because I probably spent too much time watching TV back then. 📺 My mom used to tell me that God made me special just the way I was and to be happy with who I was. I was a pale, dark-haired little girl who, in my young life, had already experienced both trauma and happiness. I didn’t believe her at the time and secretly devised that I would bleach my hair blonde as soon as I reached the age of 18! Fortunately by the time I’d turned 18, I’d grown out of my Elly May Clampett stage and resolved to live with my natural dark brown hair.
🌸   I was also a Tom-Boy. I used to play soldier and dress up in my brother’s army outfit, crawl on my belly in the woods behind our house, complete with a toy rifle strapped to my back and a toy knife in my mouth. Vic Morrow from Combat TV show 📺 was my inspiration. My family name was Query and I used to be a little embarrassed by it, especially when people pronounced it with a long “e” sound.  I used to feel different and was pretty much a loner. I was uncomfortable being around people. But in reality, it wasn’t my name that made me feel that way. Unfortunately I fell in the 1 in 5 category of percentage of young girls who are sexually abused while growing up.  For me, it was around ages 6,7 and 8. Fortunately, God protected me and hid the memories in the back of my mind until I was mature enough to deal with it, and ready to forgive my abusers. Now I still have times when I feel different and feel like a loner but I prefer to say it’s because I’m just a little quirky – but in a good way!
🌸   When I first started driving, I had a car with no “Park” and no emergency brake. 🚙 😬 I carried a wood wedge that I would throw out under the tire to keep the car from rolling. Sometimes I missed and I had get out and hope the car wouldn’t roll before I could get the wedge under the tire! And I used to run out of gas all the time because I REALLY didn’t like spending money on something I couldn’t wear or eat. I just had a hard time justifying putting money in a gas tank. ⛽️🤓
🌸   Back in the 70’s, I graduated from high school and voted for the first time – for Richard Nixon no less. I used to get lost while driving somewhere new and felt like crying (sometimes I did!😢)  I remember thinking how cool it would be if the radio could tell me where I was and how to get to where I was going. I was on the edge of brilliance (?!) but somehow fell short of inventing the GPS.
🌸   When I was in my 20’s, I used to arm wrestle – and win. 💪🏻  I got married 💙, became a step-mom 💖💙, traveled to London, Paris and Rome and got sea-sick on my first cruise across the English Channel. I gave birth to our first daughter.💖
🌸   When I was in my 30’s, I gave birth to our second daughter. 💖  I came dangerously close to alligators while floating down Ichetucknee Springs (Florida) in an inner tube. I moved to Florida from Indiana and traveled to Waikiki Beach Honolulu and West Edmonton, Canada.
🌸   When I was in my 40’s, I gave birth to our third daughter. 💖  I hid in the curtains at JCPenney, wearing a disguise, while playing “Where’s Waldo?” at the mall. I worked nights and was constantly sleep deprived!  I moved from Florida to California and then back to Florida, then to Texas!  My travels included Tokyo, Japan, 🇯🇵 Montego Bay, Jamaica🇯🇲, Honolulu and Frankfurt, Germany.🇩🇪
🌸   While in my 50’s, I slept on the street in downtown LA, with 2 of my daughters and several strangers, while waiting in line for The Price is Right TV game show. 📺 The police jokingly gave us our wake up call by megaphone! 📣 A year earlier, I was called from the audience of this same game show to, “Come on down!” to be a contestant. Fun times! 😀  I traveled to Lake Tahoe, Mt Rushmore and to the local maze where was I the first and only one in our family to finish all 4 mazes! I traveled to Times Square and the Empire State Building 🗽 in NYC and stood on the Willis Skydeck in Chicago. I also traveled to Moscow, St Petersburg and Yaroslavl Russia 🇷🇺 on my first mission trip – and to Toronto, Canada 🇨🇦 on a second mission trip.
🌸   Now since turning 60, I’ve been indoor skydiving, walked across the Grand Canyon on a glass skywalk, and took my first Caribbean cruise! 🚢 I enjoy travel, seeing new sights and experiencing new adventures! My love for travel is only superseded by my love for my family. I am the proud Maw-Maw of 10 grandkids (5 step) 💙💖💖💙💙💙💙💙💖💙 ! God has blessed me beyond measure.
🌸   Which brings me to why I decided to start a blog. I’d like to share how God has protected and provided for me throughout my entire life. My life has been a weaving of good and bad, quirky and unique, fun and sad. Through it all, I’ve learned and I know, without a doubt, that God has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens in life and that

“in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

and I’ve learned how His plans are infinitely better than our plans! Even minor and insignificant things like the color of our hair!