All posts in friendship

A Letter to President Trump

Dear President Trump,

Today is a special day for you and for our nation. I cannot sit down and talk with you so I decided to write you a letter like we are best friends.

I don’t know you, but I am sure you are feeling the weight of the responsibility and great privilege you have been granted.

So like a letter to Santa, I’ll tell you my heart.

About immigration, that’s a hard one. On one hand we need to protect our country and we cannot financially support all the people who would love to live in the US. On the other hand, why were we born here instead of say, Somalia? Not because we were smarter or better, it is just the way it is.

So please be gracious and yet firm. I am asking (Because I wouldn’t dare to tell the President of the United States what to do) that you get a variety of wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22 states;

“Plans fail without advice, but with many counselors they are confirmed.”

For the sake of our country and your integrity invite people into your inner circle who are wise and willing to contradict you. That is wise.

Concerning finance and foreign policy. I’m not really good at balancing my checkbook, so I’m going to have to trust you on that. Foreign policy is tricky I suppose.  Often, things I think are affected by what I eat or if I’m happy, so it’s a good thing for me to be careful since just because I think it, doesn’t make it true.  I will pray that you will be wise in that area.

About welfare. My parents were Salvation Army officers so I was surrounded by all sorts of people. I remember clearly my mother praying before each time we gave away toys at Christmas, “But for the grace of God, go I.”

I believe that. Still, when I see someone on the side of the road with a sign stating “Out of work, need food.” I’m not sure what to do. I don’t always believe them. Sometimes, I’ve gone to a local place and given them money for those people. Other times I can’t make up my mind about that.

Good luck with that.

About morality. Wow. That’s hard. Everyone has a different opinion. I have mine and I think it is truth, but I believe love should be the plumb line on that. Love for all people.

1 Corinthians 13:13 states, “And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I couldn’t have said it better, that’s for sure.

America should be like a really big family. And as someone once said, “You can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.” So you are stuck with me, President Trump. Treat me like family. And the rest of the country, too.

It seems to me that you don’t care much what people think of you. I care too much. So over the next four years, each day I will pray this for you;

“He has shown you, O mortal what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

You really cannot go wrong with that and I cannot go wrong praying that for you.

So even though we’ve never met, or probably never will meet, you have someone who is praying for you just like I prayed for President Obama, and all the others.

Your friend,

Pauline (You already know my last name because we are friends.)

PS, I’ve never been to Washington so one day I am going to visit.

And I’d like to see the White House.

Is There Baseball in Heaven?

“Next year,” I remember hearing as a young girl. And I wondered about that.

Always this phrase came on family vacations while lounging around a campfire, perched on rickety lawn chairs, or makeshift  stools fashioned out of logs. I’d be sitting alongside my childhood friend, Jimmy Shiels, who was like the little brother I never wanted.

Our parents remained best friends throughout our childhood, so we vacationed together. We would either camp at a state park, or stay at a camp for our furlough from our parents’ ministry as Salvation Army Officers. Camp Lake, or Army Lake became our desired destination, both located near the Chicago area.

And I loved it.

Jim and Nel Shiels were my godparents and my favorite people over thirty.  They were very different from my parents. My father, Ray Wert, would rather fish or hunt or be outside while Jim Shiels would rather pick up a good book and tease his best friend, Ray. Mom came across as tribal leader but in real life, she followed my boisterous father along, listening and  occasionally adding her opinion. Aunt Nel could have taught camping. She cooked the best roast I think I’ve ever had, and she did it in a heavy pan, buried beneath the ground, covered with hot coals. I can still remember the taste.

So when I overheard snippets of conversation between the adults about the Cubbies, I took notice.

“The Cubbies aren’t doing so well this year, are they Raymie?” Uncle Jim would interject.

“Nope. Maybe they need to replace their manager,” my father would add.

“Or maybe the whole team,” Nel would add. And they’d all laugh. I’d laugh, too, although I didn’t understand it. I just knew the Cubs were as much a part of our family as my unwanted little brother.

Usually, while vacationing at an Army camp, we’d participate in a softball game. Or at least most of the Clan would. Jim held the prestigious position of commentator. He would position himself in a shady spot and advise Raymie on his batting stance, or how he should have swung at a high pitch.

Those were the best times of my young life.

Fast forward a few decades. Instead of Mom and Dad lounging in lawn chairs, they rested in the matching lift chairs that adorned my living room. The Cubs game blared on their outdated TV set while I cooked or cleaned up after dinner. Eventually, I joined them not only in the living room, but as a bonafide baseball fan. Then Tom began to join us. First, we cheered for the Cubs, and when Joe Maddon joined the Rays, we cheered for both. The Shiels lived hundreds of miles away and the Clan could no longer vacation together, so the Werts had to “settle” for watching the game with the Hyltons.

Aunt Nel joined the heavenly choir first, followed by my father. Uncle Jim was promoted to glory after having to listen to the Cubbies game rather than watch it since in his last years, he lost his eyesight.

Only mom remained. When she turned 95 last September, we had hope that “next year” for the Cubbies would be “this year.” 

But it wasn’t in the baseball cards.

Mom died in my arms on March 22nd of this year, during spring training.

I mourned the loss not only of my parents and godparents, but of a simpler time. A time when baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet were all we needed. A time before “selfies” and social media. Before cell phones and reality TV.

Remembering those happy times, I wonder if there is baseball in heaven. Are Jim and Nel and Ray and Pauline sitting around a heavenly campfire commentating on the game? I hope so.

In fact, I’ll cast my vote for baseball in heaven.

Watching the World Series is impossible for Tom and me since we no longer have a TV. So each evening, we listen to the Series on Tom’s iPad while lounging on our couch. And Joe Maddon as the Cubs manager ? Now there’s Divine Intervention for you. It’s a match made in heaven.

And who knows? Next year may be this year.

Amen. So be it.

 

Good Friends, Great Time

The recommended pizza place with our “dear friends.”

Middle-aged people should frequent middle-aged vacation spots and middle-aged lodgings.

We batted 1000. Meeting our Florida friends in Florida wasn’t even on our radar a few weeks ago. But unused vacation points beckoned the Gordons who beckoned us. We couldn’t turn down a free stay in Ormond Beach, Florida. Since becoming farmers, we’d hardly taken a day off, much less six.

We packed up, tucked Mom in with competent caregivers and hit the road. I’d never traveled to that part of the state so I googled it.

“Tom, it says the city is a great quiet place for middle-aged couples.”

“What?” Tom asked.

Arriving at the beachfront hotel, our friends hovered over the balcony. A smile spread across my worn face.

“We’re in luck, they have shuffleboard!” Michael grinned.

I felt as if I’d been in a dessert and reached an oasis. An oasis of friends and memories and fellowship. We walked the beach and talked. We ate “Sticky Burgers” that combined a hamburger, peanut butter, bacon and cheese on a bun at a local hangout and watched college football.

The next day, our other friends, the Brinkers, made the three-hour trek to visit for a few hours. We crowded into the apartment and laughed, snacked, and reveled in just being together. Priceless.

Tom and I haven’t made much money over the last 18 months, but I feel rich. Those friendships didn’t bloom overnight. They took years of cultivation and feeding and pruning. Now we have a beautiful strong friendship that’s endured storms and even neglect–because like a magnificent tree, it’s rooted and established.

On Monday the four of us traveled to St. Augustine.

“Oldest city in the country. How appropriate.” Tom said.

Overwhelmed with touristy venues and parking, we stopped a mailman to get a quick restaurant review.

Without hesitation he said, “To be honest, all the places around here are overpriced and the food is (expletive).”

“Gee, tell us how you really feel,” Diane added.

We ended up at a pizza place he recommended. It was near the chocolate factory we toured earlier in the day. Lots of “early birders” there, too.

The Gordons left yesterday and Tom and I spent the evening alone last night. That part is a secret.

Today we see our son and his wife at their apartment. We also meet the Grand dog, Kratos. Tomorrow we head home.

I don’t miss Florida. I miss walks on the beach, sure. Mostly, I miss my friends. I’m making new friends in North Carolina, but friendships take time.

For now, I’ll remember great times with good friends.

If I can remember.