Great Idea! Virtual Photo Walks

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I discovered Virtual Photo Walks years ago and I have wanted to volunteer with them ever since. Now that I’m “retired” I’m going to do it! I’m so excited!

Virtual Photo Walks is where people volunteer to go on “walks” for people who can’t because of illness, being housebound, or whatever.

Using their smartphones and a video conferencing app the people who aren’t able to get out and about join a walk with the photographer. There have been walks to volcanoes, beaches, forest hikes, and I think I saw one from Venice.

Having been the primary caretaker for my sister and best friend, I can tell you that this is a WONDERFUL idea! I’ll put a few links on here so you can check it out.

If you know someone who is in hospital or housebound – and not just adults, but kids, too – share this with them!

Go HERE to watch a video about the founder and how he got the idea.

Look up the Virtual Photo Walk YouTube channel and watch some videos.

HERE‘s the link to the website.

You could volunteer to be a photographer, or donate to the program, but more importantly, spread the word. Share with people you know who are housebound or kids in hospital so they can enjoy this wonderful opportunity!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

The Big Squeeze

*I’m going to talk about how really absurd it is that we are expected to react in such a nonchalant way to freakish medical procedures. So, if you don’t want to read about my mammogram or hear me use really base words for body parts, then just skip this post and come back another day. Love, Jill 

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I put it off for 4 years. One, because I just forgot and two, because my friend died of breast cancer and having walked with her through it, well chalk it up to PTSD.

My other friend reacted to our friend’s diagnosis totally different: as soon as she found out our friend had cancer she ran to get a mammogram. Me, I ran the opposite direction. It’s bad, I know, early detection and all that. Call me chicken. It’s the truth.

So, plucking up my courage, sweaty palms, biting lip, I had the big squeeze done yesterday.

Before I went my husband, sweetly asked, “So, you’re going to have a mammogram today? It hurts doesn’t it?”

Me, my face freakishly changing like Bilbo Baggins when someone tries to take the Ring,

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“Imagine if I put your nuts between two plates of glass and squeezed as hard as I could and told you to not move!”

He took a few steps back in shock and replied calmly, “Ouch.”

I apologized and told him I was just nervous.

I got to the imaging center and everyone kindly asked me, “How are you?” And you know the reply they want is, “Fine, thank you.” But inside I’m screaming, “I’m scared out of my freaking mind!!” So, I just give them an awkward smile.

They take me back to a little, closet sized room that smells of B.O. (sweaty fear, as I call it) because we’re not allowed to wear deodorant, powder or lotion for this procedure. They tell me to undress from the waist up and put on the little spa-like robe.

So, I’m sitting in a waiting room with other women like me, bra-less in our little spa robes biting our nails, white-knuckling the belt on the robe and doing any other little nervous tick to give relief to our screaming nerves.

There’s always one woman who talks incessantly about people we don’t know and about stuff no one is interested in but that’s how she’s releasing the pressure inside her. Another woman gives her dirty looks as she absentmindedly flips through a magazine. Still another stares blankly at Oprah on the TV.

We do all this because it is not acceptable to express our fear publicly. And in this little room, a woman’s greatest fear could come upon her. Our lives could be changed in a moment. That is huge, that is giant, that is overwhelming. So, keep talking sister, keep cutting those looks, text til your fingers fall off honey! Do whatever it takes to keep it together!

They call me back to the Lemonade machine, I like to call it. I get the rundown, the head’s up. Then I have to literally embrace, hug, wrap my arms around this machine while the nurse carefully places my girls (how I lovingly refer to my boobs) on the glass plate.

Then she begins to crank. The plates squeeze the girls like she’s preparing a slide for microbiology class. 5 pounds of pressure, 10 pounds, 15 pounds of pressure! She tells me to hold my breath – no freaking problem! I want to raise my hand and say, “Excuse me but I don’t think you mean to squeeze me this tight! The girls are worried they might burst.” But I hold my breath and follow orders.

After a few poses, we’re done. I whisper, “Thank you for our special time together” to the machine with whom I have a very intimate relationship with now. In less than 10 minutes I’m out. I put the crying girls back into their familiar holder and I’m done. I walk back through the waiting room and I want to wave, say goodbye or something but no one looks me in the eye.

This is not my first mammogram, nor is it the first medical procedure I’ve had done. My mother, sister having terminal illnesses, I’m very familiar with the world of doctors and hospitals. However, it never ceases to amaze me how stoic and calm we are expected to be when we are faced with these sort of procedures and tests whose results could change our lives forever.

Such a weird thing to me.

Maybe I could start a service in places where people get life changing news. I could set up a sound proof room for people like me who just need to go talk, scream, cry, lay on the floor and kick their feet, punch something or whatever they need to to express their fear and anxiety.

I could call it the Panic Room. Oh, that’s already taken, dang!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Prisoner of Hope

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”  ~Ezekiel 9:12

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I ran across this verse yesterday and it’s been rattling around in my heart ever since.

This verse comes from the prophet Ezekiel in the same passage where Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey is prophesied.

I’m captivated by that phrase, “Prisoners of hope.”

I find a kindred spirit in these words. I think I am, too, a prisoner of hope.

I can get down and depressed, in fact, I have been struggling with it recently. However, no matter how low I get and no matter how many thoughts of what a waste of time this life is, what a waste of breath I am, I am a prisoner of hope.

Hope pokes and shoves and relentlessly tells me “it WILL get better!”

Hope really is like my annoying optimistic friend – or prison guard to continue the metaphor.

Hope tells me in this verse in Ezekiel that whatever I have lost or had stolen, I will be restored twice as much.

I’ve lost a lot. It sounds too good to be true. Nah!

But I am a prisoner of hope! I have to believe it! I have to keep watching and waiting!

Hope, you annoy me but I am grateful!

Peace,

Jill

I Will Never ____________!

A truth universally known:

Whoever says, “I will never____________!” is doomed to do that very thing.

Confession:

I am living that statement right now.

I said that when I got older I would NEVER sit around and talk about my aches, pains and illnesses. I always thought it was morose and boring. I promised that I would never do it but I did just that yesterday with a clutch of people my age.

Why? Why did I break the promise to myself you ask? Because I didn’t know then what I know now!

Let me help you, all my young readers, to understand why old people talk about their aches and pains and illnesses…

We are shocked!

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We never imagined and cannot believe that just reaching across a desk to pick up a book could mess your back up so bad that you’re down for 2 weeks!!

We are freaking out because our bodies don’t work like they used to!

We still feel in our minds like we did when we were 18 but we’re living in these aging bodies and it’s freaking us out!

We’re a little worried about doing normal things because you just don’t know when your body will rebel and rise up against you. Like one day your knee may decide not to bear your weight. One day you’ll reach down to pick something up and your hip will “twang” and you’ll be limping for weeks.

When we talk about our aches and pains and stuff we’re not saying it to tell everyone in earshot, we’re saying it like, “Can you believe this crap? I was getting up out of the chair and my knee gave out and I can’t walk on it!! What the freak is going on here??

Not only do they not work like they used to, they don’t LOOK like they used to and we’re not sure how to dress it or deal with it. Let me tell you, young people, one day you’re going to look in the mirror and everything that was high and tight will be low and loose. Like in ONE DAY it will happen!

Let me also tell you, to be totally honest, hair will stop growing in places and then begin growing in places that you wished it wouldn’t. Wrinkles will appear on everything, like in one day! Age spots, gray hair will appear and you’ll say, “Who is this old person staring back at me in the mirror?”

I’m telling you, it’s a crazy experience! And we talk about it because we cannot believe it is happening and it’s so weird that our bodies don’t work like they used to. We can’t believe we are now the “old people.” It happened so fast and all we were doing was living.

I’m a grandmother! Totally freaking me out that I am that old and someone would call me their grandmother. Never, ever thought I’d be here, doing this.

It’s a crazy life.

Beware, never say never!

Peace,

Jill

 

When God Got His Hands Dirty

I’m doing a little shameless self-promotion today. I wrote this book a year ago after my best friend died of breast cancer. When I was speaking at a book signing not long after I wrote it, I said, “I wrote this book right after my best friend died and I published a play right after my sister died. I don’t know why. I guess in grief my guard was down, I’m wide open and figure that no amount of criticism can hurt anymore than how I hurt right now so why not put my heart out there?”

I sort of forgot about the book until my niece posted on facebook that she read it last year for Easter and loved it and is reading it again. That made me happy and I’d like to share more love with people.

So, I’m going to post a chapter from my book here for you, my dear readers/friends. If you like it and would like to read more, go to my page that says “Buy My Book” and buy it. It’s a short, easy read.

 

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When God Got His Hands Dirty

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” Genesis 2:7 NAS

Have you ever noticed that everything that was created was spoken into existence except for man and the garden? His omnipotent, creative, life-giving Word created it all: sun, moon, stars, galaxies, land, seas, beasts, birds, plants. He spoke and the atoms, molecules, elements and energy all fell in line. That was how He did it. Except when it came to man, why?

I think I know why. My father-in-law is a craftsman. He works with wood. He makes chairs and spoons and bowls among other things. I like to watch his hands when he works. He touches the wood like he’s communicating with it. He feels the grain. He feels the hardness or softness of the wood. As he’s working with it, he’s constantly feeling to determine if it’s becoming what he envisions. Touching is necessary and significant. That’s why a handcrafted item is more valuable that a machine-made item. It’s more personal. The maker envisions it, handles it, and is right there through the process of creation to final product.

After I gave birth to my children I wanted to touch them. I smelled them. I listened to them. I had to feel them in my arms. I had to have my hands on them as much as possible. It gave me joy. I traced my daughter’s face with my finger. I caressed my son’s beautiful hands and soft ears. Even as adults I just can help touching them, hugging them, walking arm in arm with them where ever we go.

God is a craftsman and a father. The word “formed” in Hebrew describes a potter molding a vessel. God could have spoken man into existence like He did everything else. But man, this creation, needed special attention. God, like a craftsman, had a vision and nothing would do but that He gathered the dust in His own hands and did it Himself. Like a CEO rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands into the work he usually delegates, God became intimately involved in the creation of man. Dust is on the ground. Dust is dirty. God knelt down and got His hands dirty to make man. And then He breathed His own life into the man. The breath of God, imagine that.

After God made man I’m sure He couldn’t keep His hands off of him. God is a father after all. God probably brushed man’s hair out of his eyes and wiped dirt off his cheek. I’m sure there was hugging and laughing and slapping each other on the back. Then after he made the man, like a true Father, God modeled for man what He wanted him to do. God planted a garden. Again, God got His hands dirty. He dug holes and took the plants and seeds and put them in the ground. He taught the man how to do it because that’s what man was going to do: tend the garden. Isn’t that wonderful? The first job that God gave man to do was tend a garden. Tend the garden that God planted. His job wasn’t to start businesses, build cities, conquer lands or wage wars. (I know there were no other people at the time, just roll with me.) He simply had to take care of what God had made. And it was in this garden where God and man would walk and talk in the cool of the evening.  That lovely place they shared. God and man, Father and child, Creator and creation.

Then man broke God’s heart. They were separated. No more walks. No more talks. No more hugs and slaps on the back. No more digging in the dirt together. Adam wept. God wept.

(by Jill Libramento copyright 2016)

Peace,

Jill

Family Ties

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I was born and grew up 350 miles north of where I live now. After I got married we lived a few places and then settled here.

The weird thing is my parents were born and grew up here. Their families have been here since before the Civil War. I never really knew my extended family and so when I moved to this area it wasn’t for family reasons. We moved here as part of a church planting team.

It’s such a strange feeling to drive to Chick-Fil-A and pass my grandparent’s graves. I’m just a stone’s throw from my other set of grandparents and great-grandparents. I never knew any of them.

In my genealogy research I found that my great- grandfather lived in the same town I live in now. My great- uncle had a store in town. I feel so detached because this is just the place where I’ve lived as an adult yet there are really real ties to this place. This could be my hometown if my parent’s hadn’t moved.

My family owned land and started churches and raised their kids here just like I have and I didn’t even know it until recently.

Family connections are all around me waiting to be discovered. Let me tell you about one such connection.

I’ll tell you about individual threads, then I will weave them together for you.

My son had a high school Literature teacher that he really loved.

My son went to college in Mississippi and met a girl there who ended up marrying a Japanese classmate.

My son brought his Japanese classmate to spend the weekend with us. He was a super nice guy.

The girl who married the Japanese guy went to church with my son’s high school Literature teacher. He was the youth pastor of her church.

I ended up teaching with the high school Literature teacher, became friends and he became pastor of the church where the girl who ended up marrying the Japanese guy went.

So, for many, many years I knew of the girl, the Japanese guy and the church that my friend and co-teacher ended up pastoring.

Recently, I started attending the church that my friend and co-teacher pastors.

I met the parents of the girl who married the Japanese guy.

The mother of the girl who married the Japanese guy, her sister-in-law and I went out to lunch.

They began to talk about a class on genealogy that they were taking.

I shared that I was interested in genealogy, too and we began to share stories.

I shared about my great-grandfather who was taken as prisoner in the Battle of Atlanta to a prison camp in Ohio and after the war he walked all the way home.

The mother of the girl who married the Japanese guy was stunned. She had a relative with the same story.

We’re cousins.

I love telling that story. I think it’s so cool.

I walk around here in my town and wonder if any of the people I see are related to me. They really might be.

Are we related?

Peace,

Jill