Posted by: ritagone | January 15, 2020

Come On! Get Happy!

I watched the bio-pic movie “Judy” the other day.

It’s based on the life of Judy Garland.

It’s terribly depressing and very sad.

Don’t watch it unless you have something bright and cheery in your life to make you smile once you’ve finished with the movie, or you will be despondent for hours afterward.

I knew from past reading that Louis B. Mayer, part of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer name for MGM Studios back in the heyday of the big studio moguls, was not a nice man, to say the least.  He would have made the Weinsteins and Epsteins look like Boy Scouts, most likely.  But the abuse he handed out to teenaged Judy Garland was criminal: ordering her “handlers” to deprive her of food to keep her slim for the cameras, feeding her pills to allow her to sleep, pills to wake her up, which created her life-long addictions, keeping her from normal social interactions with her peers.  Because he saw her star power, that was all that mattered to him, and apparently her family, especially her star-struck mother, agreed totally with him.  How betrayed would a young girl feel if she knew in her soul that her mother wasn’t coming to her rescue at all?

Five marriages couldn’t rescue her.  The pills and alcohol didn’t help and eventually led to her early death at 47 from an overdose.  A tale heard all too often, but sad, sad, sad each time we hear it nevertheless.  And her talent so prodigious, that voice, those soulful eyes, made it all seem an even more tangible waste, because so many people around the world had attached themselves to her emotionally.

In the movie version of the part of her life beginning her descent to the end, Judy is in London doing a series of “Talk of the Town” live shows, but she is erratic and unprepared, and those who are working with her are frustrated and/or concerned almost all the time, if not always for her, certainly for themselves and their own jobs and positions which depend on her dependability.

Coming to the concerts regularly were a gay couple (and this is during an era in which gay couples were not particularly “out,” so they came inconspicuously together) who had been great fans of Judy Garland’s for many years.  They maintained that she and her music had gotten them through some rough patches in prior years, including a prison term for one of them for being caught as homosexual.   They meet Judy backstage, adoring and oblivious at first to the fact that she is in dire straits and lonely and alone.

They wind up bringing her to their flat to feed her, an honor which blows their minds!  The Great Judy Garland is in their apartment, is eating at their table, is talking to them!!  In reality, though, she is so happy to have someone to talk to, to share an evening with, that she is the one more blessed.  She sits at their tiny piano and begins to play and sing.  Now the look on their faces is beyond belief.  Judy Garland – the legend – is singing to them!!  The camera captures their astonishment, their joy, as if they could just die happily right at that moment.  She has made them happier than they could ever have expected or thought of.

And they have no idea that she would have gone back to an empty hotel room, alone, sad, depressed, so they had done something for her that was temporarily life-giving.

That scene in the movie, more than any other, captured for me the sadness of this person, Judy Garland, born Frances Gumm, beleaguered, abused emotionally and physically, mistreated, and yet held in high esteem, almost worshiped even to this day, by millions of fans and devotees around the world.  Looking for love in all the wrong places, as the cliché goes.

Her story is not unusual in show business, unfortunately, but the movie “Judy” and Renee Zellweger’s performance really made the reality it of come home to me.  I had a nice little stack of tissues beside me as the film ended.  And I just sat there; couldn’t move.

That’s my movie review: four tissues and temporary paralysis and emotional upheaval.

 

 

Posted by: ritagone | January 8, 2020

Get Me To a Cave!!

It’s a new year, and I wish

my computer (an iMac, not too new but not that old) would revamp itself.  I’m very sick of that multi-colored ball that keeps spinning and spinning, telling me that something is just not working right in Rita’s Apple-land. In fact, there are quite a few things around the house that we are wishing would start out the new year 2020 fixed and in better shape: the roof (which has a few leaks), the pool equipment (which was supposedly fixed and has now mysteriously stopped working yet again), and something else that I’m sure will break down by the time this is published.

I guess the option is to move into a cave where you own nothing, so, therefore, nothing is capable of breaking.  You then don’t have to call repairmen, you don’t have to sit waiting on your phone listening to Muzak for 45 minutes while you try to amuse yourself until someone answers.  You don’t have to figure out when is a good day – morning or afternoon – for someone to make an appearance on your doorstep to fix whatever it is that has broken.  Or worse, to set up the appointment and then not show at all.

Do I sound frustrated?

Because I am.  Definitely.

I know these are 1st world problems, as people like to tell us in order to…what?  Get us to stop complaining, because we have a roof over our heads and therefore we should be happy with our leaking?  Allow us to appreciate what we own that occupies so much of our waking hours because something always seems to be on the blink?

I’m not quite seeing the benefit here of 1st world problems.  Again, that cave is sounding awfully good.  Just some nice dry walls and a few reeds to throw on the ground for sleeping.  A bunch of sticks for the fire that will heat the cave when necessary.  Oh, a grocery store needs to be somewhat close by, because this gal ain’t going hunting, but that’s not such a difficult thing to ask for, is it?

So if one more thing breaks or needs attention in my house in the month of January, 2020, I may be cave hunting.  You can count on it!!!

Posted by: ritagone | January 1, 2020

The Goodbye Barbecue (Christine Caine)

This is my first Rita’s Ramblings of 2020, and as I finished my devotional readings for last year, I was struck by the message on December 28 in “Unshakeable” by Christine Caine, a devotional book which I used in 2019 and was blessed by.  So I thought I’d start off the new year with her message called “The Goodbye Barbecue,” because not only did it speak to me about ending the last year properly, but it said a lot about beginning the new one on the right footing.  So think about Elisha and his new ministry as Elijah handed off authority and responsibility to him, ponder what God has in store for you this year, and get prepared as best you can for 2020!!!

 

The Goodbye Barbecue

 

Elisha took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them.  He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.  1 Kings 19:21

 

To get to your purpose, you’ll need to leave some things behind.  Once you feel the pull of the possibility of where you’re destined, you’ll never be satisfied with where you’ve been!

When the great prophet Elijah called young Elisha to his destiny, Elisha first kissed his family goodbye (v. 20).  Then he said goodbye to his livelihood: he broke up his plows, butchered and barbecued his oxen, and fed the people with the meat.  Then, he “set out to follow Elijah and became his servant” (v.21). There was no Plan B for Elisha! And there’s no Plan B for us when we set out to follow Jesus.

Are there some things or people you need to fondly kiss goodbye today in order to follow Christ? Do you need to bust up some plows and barbecue some cows?  Whether it’s a relationship, a habit, a sin, or even a redistribution of your time and resources, you will undoubtedly need to set some fires and give some goodbye kisses in order to set out after Jesus and become His servant.  Ask God today what you need to let go of, and for strength to light that match.

 

Lord God, I want to follow You without a contingency plan.  Show me what I need to say goodbye to today.

Posted by: ritagone | December 18, 2019

Merry Christmas!!!

I have nothing new and exciting to say today except to wish each one of you reading this

a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful celebration of the birth of Christ.  Enjoy family,

friends, gift-gifting and receiving, delicious food, community.  But most of all, forget

about all the strife and dissonance going on in the world (and in our country) at this time,

and just find things to be positive about at least for the next week.

That’s my Christmas wish for all of you!!!

Posted by: ritagone | December 11, 2019

Perspectives

I watched (for free, thanks to Michael’s Writer’s Guild screeners) Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” the other day, based on the true story of the man (Jewell) wrongly accused of planting the bomb at the 1996 Olympic park in Atlanta, killing 2 and injuring dozens of others.  Jewell was a security guard at the park that night who had had aspirations of becoming a police officer, and an ill-advised and overly ambitious newspaper reporter wound up naming him before the FBI and other authorities had any evidence at all against him.

It’s a chilling movie in many ways, least of which is how frightening it can be when the media and the government in the form of the FBI and other departments of the law are so eager to build a case that they create evidence where there is none, build a bank of accusations where none exist, and literally railroad an innocent man into a guilty position.

So in this movie, the print media in the form of the newspaper which jumped the gun and the FBI were the villains, and I could feel my blood boil as I watched them operate against this man who had done nothing criminally wrong.

And then I realized that if I were watching a different movie, there would be a different villain: perhaps the judiciary, or the police, or whatever.

Another perspective on perspective: watching a movie (I get a lot of my insights watching movies or tv shows, I realize) filmed in London, a dark and tense murder mystery, I noticed how the cinematography made that city look scary and off-putting.  I wondered that anyone would want to walk its streets or explore it, or even visit it on a vacation, given that it looked so bleak and foreboding.  Same thing with a different movie set in New York City: another crime drama, which necessitated lots of fog and dark scenes, and which meant that, if I were seeing the Big Apple through the eyes of this film and had never visited it, I would probably pick Des Moines as a travel destination instead.  However, pick another film that was a comedy set in New York, with lots of sunshine and great lighting, I’d be packing my bags to get to my holiday time near Times Square.

Perspective is everything.

Where is my perspective – and yours – in need of a tune-up?  Where do we need to see that how we look at things is often flexible and dependent on the lens through which we look?

The only reliable perspective we need is through the eyes of Jesus, who is always fair, kind, gracious, and righteous.

Posted by: ritagone | November 27, 2019

Thankful For…(Fill in the Blank)

I spent yesterday

morning at my grandchildrens’ school celebrating Grandparents’ Day, an annual occurrence where grandparents are invited and honored, served a light breakfast, spend about an hour watching and listening to a program that consists of very touching and endearing speeches and some amazing music – instrumental and vocal – to entertain

and amaze (with much of the vocal music put together by my talented son-in-law, Ed Rouse, I might proudly add).

Then, after lunch is served where you can eat with your grandkids (without their parents, which is a great deal of fun and not often occurring), you go off to classes with one or several of the kids, hoping that in your family you have enough grandparents to cover the grandkids. I got to see some dear friends, also there as grandparents to their own grandkids, catch up a bit with them, and enjoyed the day for that also.

At the end of the school day, I came away tired but entirely thrilled with my senior granddaughter Olivia’s classes, teachers, classmates (who politely looked me in the eye, introduced themselves to me and shook my hand, no less), and so proud of Olivia that had I had buttons on my blouse, they would have been bursting.

With Thanksgiving looming, it made me want to stop and give thanks to God for my four grandchildren, among so many other things that I know I often take for granted.  If ever there was a time that we can and should reflect on the blessings we have from God, it’s Thanksgiving.

So this is short and sweet: an admonishment to take time this Thanksgiving, if you’re cooking, setting the table, planning the games or festivities, whatever tasks loom before you in the next 48 hours, that you stop and take a minute or two to ponder the gifts in your life that God has given you, thank Him for them, and fill in the blank of the sentence in the title of this particular post:  I am thankful for …..

Posted by: ritagone | November 20, 2019

Time To Move On…

I remember in 2002 when Michael retired from the TV business.  It was a major change in our lives because, all of a sudden, he was around

the house.  We went from his being gone during the weekdays from morning till night to his being home — all the time!  I thought I would love having him home all the time.  I was wrong.

Because my life and my schedule stayed the same: I went to Bible studies, had lunch with friends, grocery shopped, etc., etc., etc.  So when he would look at me with doleful eyes and whine and say, “What are you doing for lunch?” I would reply, “I have plans.”  The inference was: “Make your own way.  You’re retired.  Get a life.”  Eventually he did.  He found plenty to do.  There IS life after retirement, no matter how busy and successful your career might have been.  And we adjusted very nicely to this new normal of his being around without a regular job to go to.  In fact, now it’s quite nice having him around all the time.

Now I’m facing a sort of retirement of my own.  At the end of this year, I will step down as Board Chair of Christian Associates/Communitas International, after over 20 years in that role.  This is happening for lots of good reasons, not the least of which is that I’m 75 years old now and slower, with less stamina than what I used to have for international travel, for thinking and working out problems, for dealing with “stuff” on an everyday basis.  It’s time for younger bodies and minds to take over.  I am not, alas, I have discovered, immortal or invincible.  I always said I wanted to leave before they were getting the hook and pulling me off the stage, so the time is now.

And it’s a good time to be leaving: we have a new President, a great guy, who I believe is going to revitalize the organization and take it further and higher than it has ever been before, following God’s leading into new projects and areas of the world and casting new vision.

We have a new, younger slanting board, with much enthusiasm and vitality, eager to bring new perspectives and energy to overseeing the organization.  And a new Board Chair, who has been with Communitas from the point of view of church planting in the south of France to acting as our Head of Recruiting for many years until he stepped into the secular world of business in Austin, Texas.  Now he combines business and ministry savvy and an enthusiasm for the job of leading a board and working closely with the President and other leaders to further what God has planned for this ministry.

Communitas is in my DNA and always will be.  I realize that when you quit a job or retire, your context changes, and the people you spent a lot of time with, talking on the phone, gathering together for meetings, shifts into new and unknown relationships, and that’s what I’m now preparing myself for.  I know it will be sad and bittersweet to not be in constant contact with the people who I have come to love and respect over the last two decades.

But I also know that this is definitely what I should be doing, so I’m trusting God to flesh out this new season in my life with something meaningful and exciting, whether it involves new people or those I already know, new ministries or something I’m already involved in.  Whatever my life entails, I look forward to it with relish, pressing on to what lies ahead but not forgetting for one second the blessings and the richness of relationships and experience that I have had the privilege to enjoy over the last years.

There are few people I know who have been blessed as I have been to be in the role of Board Chair of an organization like Communitas, especially, I might add, few women.  I don’t ever take it lightly. I never will.

Posted by: ritagone | November 13, 2019

Creatures of Habit

For their entire lives (almost 10 years and soon to be eight) our two dogs, Sherlock and Watson (please don’t laugh – we thought we were pretty clever at the time that we named them!) have slept on our California king bed with us, Sherlock tucked between our heads with his own head on part of the king-sized pillow, Watson at our feet, rotating back and forth as one of us moved or rolled over (because we seemed to be disturbing her).

Now, as they are “getting on” in dog years, we’ve noticed some mobility issues (with the dogs, I mean), some back leg problems, mostly as a result of jumping off the bed when they want to get down.  Getting up on the bed is easy: we have a set of stairs and a wooden chest in which we store blankets and other things we haven’t looked at since 1994 at the foot of the bed.  They climb up easily onto the bed via that route.  But when they want down, they have never gone down that same pathway.  They just jump off either side of the bed onto the floor.

Which, as we all know, is fine when you’re a pup, but not so good as you age into maturity.  Like humans, tendons, muscles and cartilage tend to deteriorate, and injuries can more easily be sustained, especially from jumping.  These are small dogs, 15-19 pounds (Sherlock being the lighter dog), but the trip to the ground is relatively long consistent with their weight and age.

So our vet – who has taken care of both of them since their births – suggested getting them to sleep off of the bed from now on.

Easier said than done.

Also like humans, dogs are creatures of habit, and so, when we removed the stairs and the chest from the bed and set up two very comfortable beds for them on the floor this past week, this was caninely – should I say doggedly —  unacceptable.

At the end of our bed we saw two heads looking at us with questions and concern.  They were both up on hind legs staring down at us, or up at us, as the case might be. And, I might add, a bit of “Oh no, you don’t!!” on their faces.  Yes, there was whining.  Lots of whining.

I confess our determination to keep the dogs off the bed lasted a very short time.  Okay, not even half an hour.  (See photo of smug Sherlock staring at camera in victory, while Watson is the black blob sound asleep already.)

Raising children was easier than dealing with dogs.  Children can sometimes listen to reason.  Dogs are too much creatures of habit; they want what they want, what they have always had, and reason plays no part at all.  But then, when they’re up on the bed with you and they look at you with those soulful brown eyes and lick your hand, who can resist?

Obviously not Michael and me!

Posted by: ritagone | November 6, 2019

Annoyed

Another person whose blogs I read with interest and stimulation is Seth Godin, whose pithy writing gets right to the point.  He’s not a follower of Jesus, but it just proves that truth is truth, whoever speaks it.  I like the fact that he writes short and terse, readable in a few minutes but applicable to what’s going on in my life.

Hope you enjoy this post of his, which I found brought a smile to my face and made me think.  Who could ask more of a blog?

 

 

 

 

Annoyed

Does being annoyed serve any useful purpose?

If it does, are there classes you can take or experiences you can pay for that help you become annoyed? We have gyms to get fit and mindfulness exercises to get calm, but I’m not sure I’m seeing a widespread movement toward seeking annoyance.

So, if being annoyed is simply a side effect of something else we do, and it’s not actually useful, why do we work so hard to amplify the annoyance we feel? Why create a narrative, push hard against the powerless bureaucrat or the stuck pickle jar simply to make ourselves even more annoyed?

The only person who is getting taught a lesson is us.

 

Posted by: ritagone | October 30, 2019

My Head is Spinning!!!

Sometimes there’s just too much information and emotion coming in, and my head literally feels like it’s spinning and going to careen off my neck and into a wall.

Over-stimulated.

It must be what a person with ADD or ADHD (what’s the difference between the two? I’ve never understood that) feels like all the time, and it’s not pleasant.  Too much TV, too many thoughts going round in my head, studying to teach on Thursday morning, which means the book of Ephesians is percolating constantly (pretty heady stuff in itself), the news and the fires and the winds and is the world coming to an end?

And then I read a poem by Mary Oliver, one of my favorites, and I’ll share it with you because it settled my spirits and my spinning head faster than anything.  It’s called “I Worried,” and it goes like this:

 

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers

Flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not, how shall

I correct it?

 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?

 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,

hopeless.

 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And gave it up. And took my old body

and went out into the morning,

and sang.

 

Poetry is God’s gift to us to make our head stop spinning.

Try it some time.

 

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