Rainy Day Reflections

It feels like it’s been raining for days, and actually, it has been. If the proverbial April showers really bring May flowers, then next month should be overflowing with blooms; the courtyard azalea is already gorgeous.

Courtyard Azalea

   Being me, I looked for appropriate music to accompany this post. Gene Kelly sang and danced in the rain, Dylan and Waylon sang about women and rain. Electric Light Orchestra believed it was “raining all over the world,” and children sing about an old man snoring.

What do you do when it’s gloomy and wet, and you don’t belong outside, unless you’re a duck? I love storms, big weather, for certain, but this drip, drip, drip and grey skies? If you were my elder daughter, you’d go outside and dance in the rain in your underwear, and lock yourself out of the house in the process, creating a lifetime story 😊. I put on music and danced my way through the house, gotta get my steps in somehow.

There’s plenty to do; having finished unpacking after my move in March, there are two items yet to be found. I could continue the somewhat arduous process of handling every unpacked file, folder, and drawer, in search of precious and vital documents, along with a delicate, blue – glass wind-chime that carries a fair bit of sentimental value. I could continue messing with my fitness watch, trying to make it functional again; I’ve already tried multiple new batteries. It just might be more complex.

From my desk, I can see into the forest – lush, varying shades of green and the dark, almost black, appearance of sodden tree trunks. It is beautiful in its own way, just like each of us.  Really, comparing us to sodden tree trunks and wet leaves? You bet. As faithful daughters of the Creator King, we are, indeed, beautiful, reflecting the beauty and grace of our spirits to a world in need.

I’m thinking of ways to spread joy this morning. I’ve got it in me, regardless of what’s happening around me, joy that is independent of circumstances. Regular readers know the source of my joy, and that I believe it’s available to all. Even on this cloudy, gloomy day, I’ve got sunshine and smiles to spare. How about you?

I’ll be singing and dancing my way through this soggy day, and I’ll maybe even come across the missing items. These are my thoughts on a rainy day. Grace and peace, y’all!



Back in 2009, I wrote a post with this same title, borrowing from David Bowie’s classic song. This post will be different, because in 2019, a decade later, the changes are different. How do you handle change? Do you embrace it, roll with it, try to avoid it, perhaps ignore it? There are myriad ways human beings react to change. Some are healthy, others, less so. Regular readers know that my worldview is distinctly Christian. I believe the words written long ago, by King Solomon. In Ecclesiastes, chapter three, King Solomon wrote that there is a season for everything. We go through seasons of joy and seasons of mourning, times when we dance, and times we sit and ponder silently.

This is a new season for me. Having lived a half-mile from my Meghan Lee and her husband, Brian, for the last three years, since moving to South Carolina, 1300 miles now separate us – BIG changes. I knew it was part of the long-range plan when I moved here. But knowing something and living it out can be two distinctly different things. Their move to Texas resulted in me moving, too – from the townhome complex where I’d been, to a house, the house that Meghan bought when she was a twenty-something young woman, and in which Brian joined her after their marriage seven years ago.

They are off on a new adventure, one that could prove most interesting and rewarding. I’m in a new home, in a neighborhood, instead of a complex. Meghan returned from Texas for ten days to facilitate my move, and we’ve already received a dinner invitation from a neighbor.

I’m in the same community, still with access to 12 miles of paved trails through the forest, access to the community center with its varied programs and activities, even a book club. It’s a somewhat longer walk through the forest to get to the community center, but that’s a good thing – more steps three times a week when I usually go to the pool. There’s a new challenge in learning the route to the pool/community center from here. Twelve miles provides a lot of space in which to get turned around, so we’ve resolved to walk it repeatedly while Meghan is still here. I’ll get it, I have every confidence that I will adapt to the changes necessary to get where I want to be, without the security blanket of Meghan being nearby to receive an SOS text.

Ch-ch-ch-changes, part of life, providing new opportunity for personal/spiritual growth. I’ll be stretched, no doubt, but not fearful, never hopeless. A favorite old hymn says, “Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous seas.” I’ve got a Lifeguard who walks on water (not an original thought), so I’m facing the changes and claiming a new adventure for myself, as well. It might just be time to write that book I’ve had on hold for awhile now, time to get real serious about my physical rehab, and time to step out further and share more of the good news, the life-changing faith that gives me hope, joy, and the grace and peace I speak of often.

This is me embracing change, looking forward with hope and joy, for Meghan Lee and Brian on their new adventure, and for myself on mine. All is, and will continue to be, well. It can be for you, too, if you have the solid foundation on which to build. Any questions, please ask them; there is so much more to the story. Grace and peace, y’all!!





Today we celebrate Erin Lee, my elder daughter, born 34 years ago, just shy of midnight, changing my world forever. I knew she was going to be Erin Lee, no ultrasound needed. When I told my obstetrician that I was embroidering her Christmas stocking and already had her name across the top, he reminded me that the odds were 50/50. When I told him that I was working on her Christmas dress, he just shook his head. Then she was born, making a dramatic entrance in her own time – Erin Lee. I just knew. 

     She was tiny, five pounds, thirteen ounces, and I was smitten. I couldn’t possibly have known the depth of love that would overtake me instantly and forever. Though she lives far away in a city she loves, I believe we are close at heart, more alike than not, though she might not always agree :). Over the years I’ve had occasion to tell her that there is absolutely nothing on the face of this earth that could possibly change the fact of my unconditional love for her; she will always be my Erin Lee.

With her permission, I describe her as 120 pounds of pure spitfire. She’s an artist in personality and temperament, unlike myself; I’ve always been amazed at how she sees the world, from little on, with totally different eyes than mine. I’ve saved samples of her art over the years; a fascinating journey through the developing eye and mind of an artist’s view of her world, always a unique perspective. They will provide the back-story when she’s famous, having her first big show. In the meantime, three of her paintings hang in my home, and I keep a file of her work, updated often, on my phone and my PC.      

     An early reader, having completed the Laura Ingalls Wilder series by age six (a gift from her first-grade teacher during one of her many hospitalizations); she’s intelligent and articulate. I used to joke that all the time spent in an oxygen tent paid off beautifully, the silver lining to difficult days of chronic illness, first manifested when she was just five months old. Erin has a gift for languages hearkening back to her early days of imitating Pépé Le Pew. This was a little girl who let you know with a toss of her hair, that she was special. When Erin Lee laughs, everybody laughs, it’s positively contagious. She’s fiercely loyal with a wicked wit. If you’re close to her, she may challenge you in ways that test your soul, but the result is always worthwhile.

      Erin Lee loves to travel. In January of 2014, she took her first solo trip – to Iceland – looking for artistic inspiration. 2015 began with a trip to Hawaii and included the traditional Hawaiian pineapple tattoo. As the recipient of art grants, she has traveled to various locations to further her craft. Her newest venture is into the world of curating. She curates a monthly art pop-up in downtown Seattle, bringing together a variety of artists. She recently accepted an invitation to curate a gallery in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Her reputation is expanding and she would eventually like to become an artists’ representative.

       Erin Lee lives in a Seattle neighborhood with her dog, Andromeda (Andy) and three cats. She’s cultivated a tribe and enjoys meaningful relationships.  She gardens, battles invasive bamboo in her yard, and generally enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

     My firstborn child is 34 today, I am proud of the woman she is and I am a better person for being her Mumma Lee. To my partner en Français: Joyeux Anniversaire; je t’aime le plus chèrement! Join me, please, in celebrating my elder daughter, Erin Lee. (Enjoy the photos courtesy of Emily Eddy).













          G’mornin’ Friends. I wrote the original Happy Birthday post in 2011. Seven years later, it is definitely time for an update. Today, I am most happy to share my younger daughter, Meghan Lee Smith, with ya’ll.  

          Thirty-three years ago, this evening, I met Meghan Lee for the first time. Weighing in at just six pounds, she showed early signs of being her own person, struggling to be released from the hospital swaddling that her sister, a year earlier, had found so comforting. An early reader determined to keep up with her sister, she began calling me Mother. It was disconcerting at first, so formal, not just to my face, but in reference to me as well; very noticeable coming from this little person – Mother.  I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mom; (we had the series). 

     Being her mother, one might accuse me of bias, but I am so very proud of the woman she has become. I am blessed to be close to her, both in proximity, and in mind and heart, the places that matter. I have watched her grow over the years, overcoming challenges and learning to soar like an eagle!!

     Since I began the birthday post, each year has been one of continued growth in grace and beauty for Meghan Lee. She has grown from the young woman who began a tradition of wearing a tiara on her birthday, even on her motorcycle, to the young woman ready for a major life event – marriage to R. Brian Smith, known to me as FSIL, in 2012.

     Six years later, they continue to grow closer and are, as I describe it, incredibly well matched. They’ve embarked on several major life changes. Together, they decided Meghan Lee should quit her job, and go back to school, which she did. In typical Meghan fashion, she excelled in the IT field, learning to code; now she is one of a growing number of women in IT, a field that until recently, was dominated by men. She’s become part of a group that mentors girls to enter the IT field, sharing her skills and talents. Taking that a step further, Meghan Lee began her own IT business – Meghan Smith Solutions. She has clients in several states, and her work includes developing and maintaining the website for our Harbison community.

     With things going well, they decided Brian should return to school. He completes his Physical Therapy program this December. With  license- to-practice in hand, he, too, will become self-employed. As co-owners and partners in two businesses based in Lubbock, TX, they have an adventurous future beginning in 2019, Life is good for Meghan Lee!

     My younger daughter turns 33 today and I couldn’t be more pleased to claim her, though I’ve learned to share her with Brian. She is intelligent, kind, loving, and generally an exceptional human being, grown now, with a family of her own – Meghan Lee, Brian, and four cats – the Smith family.

     I’m thanking the Lord for putting her in my arms and into my care – a gift to me beyond compare. Happy 33rd Birthday, Meghan Lee, je t’aime en bric broc, (our French slang for “I love you to pieces,” literally “I love you to bits and chunks,” which makes us giggle).  Enjoy the photos and join me, please, in wishing a most wonderful new year of life to Meghan Lee Smith!






                THEY ARE A TEAM




A Very Special Woman Would be 100 Today

   It’s been a few years since I wrote the first post celebrating an important woman in my life – my very special Auntie Arlene Buelow. I’ve updated the post over the years, noting birthdays and special occasions as they occurred. Today marks the second birthday without her physical presence in my world; she went home to Jesus on January 12, 2017. On this day, Auntie Arlene would be 100 years old, and the empty space is palpable,even a year-and-a-half later. 

     Auntie Arlene was unique on multiple levels. She was the daughter of a twin, and she married a twin, my dad’s brother, Elmer. She became the mother of twins, my cousins, Jane and Janice. Even more, she became the great grandmother of twins, which I always thought was fairly awesome! On another level, I saw her dressed in what she called her “barn clothes” complete with bandanna, overalls, and workboots because she worked the farm side-by-side with my my Uncle Elm. She maintained a “kitchen garden” as well as many of my grandmother’s plants. She’d come in from outside, get “washed up” and dress for company, putting on an apron to prepare plenty of food for a crowd. Auntie Arlene was a multi-faceted woman for sure.

     Why was she so special to me? It was through her that I was able to purchase the original Buelow homestead in rural Shawano county, which became my home for thirteen years. Living near her allowed our relationship to blossom and we spent a fair amount of time together, many meals shared at the table in her apartment in town, many heartfelt conversations. We talked about everything- especially family history, much of which was recorded in her Bible. We discussed religion – theology and doctrine – as well as politics, all those things one isn’t supposed to speak of  in polite company. We didn’t always agree, but we could say anything and even share a chuckle over our differences. She kept me informed about local events – people we knew and who knew our family. We discussed world and sociopolitical events as well. She kept her mind busy, and for a long time, was an avid Packers fan; she could tell you names and stats. 

     For me, the most treasured piece of our relationship was that she was always in my corner, my biggest encourager. When I was debating grad school and ministry, she advised my to go for it, an affirmation I received gladly and gratefully. When I got my first Master’s degree in Christian ministry:pastoral counseling, I took that diploma to her and we opened it together. It was huge, much larger than the bachelor’s diplomas and we had all kinds of fun with that. It was like a scroll; I said I felt like the mayor of Oz, which caused a fair amount of laughter. She held one corner and I unrolled that diploma while my cousin, Jane, took pictures and joined in the fun! When I received my Master of Divinity (Mdiv) diploma in May of last year, I spoke with Jane and we agreed that her mom/my aunt was indeed smiling at, and cheering for, me. And while I knew she was in a better place, I missed being able to take a diploma to her one more time.

     Auntie Arlene was my faithful encourager. When I was looking for confirmation of the path I had chosen, she reminded me why I was on it in the first place, another reason she was so special to me. I knew without a doubt that she was praying for me during my cancer battle and throughout my grad school journey; she told me so, regularly. She was a prayer warrior for her entire family, and I was blessed to be counted among them. 

     My Auntie Arlene was an influence from my youngest years. The Buelows were a large crew and on any given Sunday, any number of aunts and uncles with all the cousins would show up to share a meal and an afternoon of socializing. She had a beautiful, ready smile and everyone was welcome at her table. 

     My precious Auntie Arlene would be 100 today. Enjoy the photos; I have so many it’s hard to choose. We took a selfie every week when I visited. Our system was that I’d focus my phone camera and hold it, while she reached up and pushed the button. Below  is one of my all-time favorite photos, Auntie Arlene and me, approximately 1959, on the front steps of the Buelow homestead. We re-staged that photo in August, 2011, without me sitting on her lap, of course. As you see, there was lots of love and laughter shared that day! Thank you for allowing me to reminisce  Grace and peace, y’all!! 



Happy summer solstice!!

Today is the first day of summer, 2018. I’m singing one of three favorite summer songs. Summertime was composed by American icon, George Gershwin, in 1934. It’s supposedly been covered multiple thousands of times – everyone from Billie Holiday (1936), to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1958), even Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1968.  

     This is the season of fresh food – luscious tomatoes, corn-on-the-cob, peas in the pod, with brats and burgers, coleslaw and potato salad, gardens coming into their full beauty, as well as perfect beach days, awesome summer night skies, and big, booming thunderstorms! King Solomon wrote that there is a season for everything, (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and this is, with all its glorious 90° days, a season to celebrate!! Grace and peace, y’all.




     Today’s brief post is to honor my dad on this 2018 Father’s Day. Regular readers know my father is a a pastor, who has been ministering for nearly 63 years. I am the oldest and only female of his four children. My father is a wordsmith (wordie); I might well have inherited my love of languages and books from him. The photo below of my dad, Leonard P. Buelow, and me, was taken over a half-century ago, on the farm where he grew up,and on which I lived for 13 years. Dad inspired me in numerous ways, and I love that when I, his only daughter, was in the seminary, he mentored and assisted, More than once I called him “saying, Dad, I need a verse.” And I got a verse. I raided his extensive religion/theology library, and bounced questions and ideas off him regularly during the seminary years. Happy Father’s Day, I love you!!

     That completes this brief celebratory post. Enjoy the treasured photo :

 LeeAnn and Dad at the Farm, circa 1958.



Happy 64th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!

     Regular readers know I celebrate special days. A week ago today, June 5, 2018, the special day was my mom’s 87th birthday. Today’s feature is both my parents as they celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary.

     One week after my mom’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, a not-yet-ordained minister, married in Rhode Island, a long way from a farm in Shawano County, WI. After a honeymoon in Washington, D.C., they traveled to Wisconsin and spent the summer at The Farm with my grandma, aunt and uncle and their three children. The city girl was visiting the country for the second time; in her absence Grandma Buelow had hired a contractor to install indoor plumbing – for Mom, a most welcome addition. They came from different backgrounds, but shared similar values: faith and family. Dad was one of ten children born and raised on that wonderful old place I used to call home. Mom was an only child from the East, a city girl. Their love and commitment have sustained them all these years.

     After their Wisconsin summer, they set sail for Germany and grad school for my dad. Now expecting me, they packed everything they needed to set up housekeeping in a foreign country for one year with a baby on the way. I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the plan. They went by ship with all their belongings in two steamer trunks, one of which is a treasured possession of mine.  In a day without Internet, cell phones or digital devices, they set off, leaving home and families behind. I believe news of my birth was telegraphed to family in WI and Rhode Island. They laid a foundation that has held firm for 64 years through all the trials and tribulations common to humankind.

     When their year in Germany came to a close, they flew to Paris for a few days. Mom says, precocious baby that I was, the time in Paris might have been when I developed my love of all things French :).  An interesting side note: I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it reverted to commercial flights following World War II; it even made the papers! And in those days all three of us traveled on one passport – my dad’s. They settled in Shawano, WI, where my dad was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.

     They had three more children, all boys, then Dad accepted an invitation (known as a Call) to serve in another church, and our family moved to Green Bay in 1965, where Mom and Dad remain to this day.  Once the nest was empty, they built a custom home with a music room for Mom and a study for Dad. Faith and church are still central in their lives. They work together, Mom serving alongside Dad in the church they planted in 2013. They have a piece of woods on their property and an added four-seasons room, where they share their meals, morning devotions, host family gatherings, and enjoy great views of wildlife and changing seasons outside their windows.

     They’re a team – when Mom teaches late, Dad prepares dinner, sets the table for two, and they eat together when she’s through. When Dad has a meeting, Mom prepares; together they clean up.  It’s actually amusing to spend time there; after meals, I have learned to just get out of the way and not interrupt their routine and rhythm. Breakfast is a treat – Dad makes my egg, slices my grapefruit into sections and I’m privileged to share their post-breakfast devotions and prayers. That’s how they begin every day. Several years ago, faced with extensive repairs on Mom’s vehicle, they spent a few days away at a favorite place and on their return, purchased a new Buick, having decided to become a one-car couple, and it’s working well. They are truly a team.

     They travel frequently, taking a major road trip at least once a year, along with frequent trips to visit family in Kentucky, as well as whatever other opportunities present themselves. Mom schedules and books the trips, on which, Dad drives and Mom navigates. They play together, sharing an enjoyment of miniature golf, theater, and fine dining. In a few weeks, they will do an overnight trip to Milwaukee, for a Brewers’ (baseball) game, something they do annually.

     They shop together on their travels, often coming home with new suits for Dad, complete with great shirts and ties, ensembles for Mom, along with gifts for family that they discover along the way. My dad has a penchant for choosing absolutely beautiful cards, which Mom treasures; she says the cards, themselves, are gifts. They’re patient with one another and at 87 and nearly 93, they have spent considerably more than half their lives together.  In February, ’17, Meghan Lee, Brian, and I met them in Atlanta where we walked the entire Atlanta Aquarium, billed as the world’s largest indoor aquarium. I walked behind them for the fun of watching them wander hand-in-hand; always connected, a photo of which is below, also. The last photo shows my folks at home, earlier this year. That wraps this celebratory post, which I am thrilled to share with y’all!     


Leonard & Carola Lovin’ Life Together!


Navigating life hand-in-hand



Folks at Home 2018



          Today’s post is about a special person, my mom. On this day, Carola Esther Buelow (CEB), is 87 years old. As you can see from the photo below, she looks fabulous. I believe that’s because she is active, vibrant, and completely engaged in life, doing the things about which she is most passionate. Mom teaches piano nearly full-time, as she has since I was young, interacting with, and impacting, multiple families each week. She also works side-by-side and hand-in-hand with my dad in the church they planted in 2013.

          I called Mom to get some background for the original birthday post in 2012; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts. I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman, graduating summa cum laude from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953. That was also the day on which she became engaged to my dad. I have a harder time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi.  Among my daughters, Mom, and me, there’s a joke that back in the day “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors.” I share this joke with her permission; it makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, trips that hold many special memories. Just look at her photo below, see the twinkle in her eyes.

          This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, any number of them multigenerational.  She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended.

     This is a woman ahead of her time.  After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the Buelow family farm (Her Father’s Homestead), a place dear to my heart, as many of you know. It was her second visit to The Farm, as my family called it.  As a wedding gift, Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing. The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead, filled with family, for three months before traveling by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and transoceanic travel were not common, leaving her family on the East Coast.  In Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, in an era when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room, though she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language.

     I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock.  Writing these words gives new meaning to that picture.  My mom, known as Gma to my daughters is as hardy as the best of them.  I am most happy to share her with you.  Joyeux Anniversaire, ma mére.  I love YOU! 

      A vibrant woman!





     Yes, indeed, I am one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Twelve years ago, Easter Sunday was April 16. Visiting daughters tricked me (they lied, actually) into my truck and drove to the small local hospital. After a CT scan, the emergency room doctor delivered the findings, prefaced by the words “I cannot believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupting everybody’s Easter dinners. Two days later, Tuesday, April 18, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and a scalpel to my brain. Later he delivered the news that the tumor they had removed was malignant and I had a fairly virulent form of brain cancer. 

     Waiting daughters, family, and friends had already been given the information. The stats were fairly grim; conventional medical prognosis for that cancer is 12-18 months to live. In my worldview, the clinical folks leave out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His book, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

     Those plans included handling that tumor and twelve years later, despite enormous odds and severe statistics, I surely do have hope and a future and I am on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  This is also a bittersweet day because I’ve lost two friends to the same disease, one in the last three years and the other six years ago, the day after my  survival anniversary. Yet here I am alive and well, and most content.

     I wondered, sometimes aloud, during my friends’ ordeals, asking the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? What is the plan? Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but in my heart of hearts, I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first talked about twelve years ago when I was diagnosed.  

     My friends are gone, their families grieved, each in their own way and time. Yet I know, on this beautiful  April morning in South Carolina, that my Heavenly Father has the plan firmly in hand.  I will celebrate that I am here, that for whatever reason, God has still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be alive, to have family and friends with whom to share this post, and I will continue to move forward and play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

     As I say repeatedly in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you. Share with me, please, my joy that twelve years later I am alive and well!  Thank you for joining me in in giving thanks and celebration; be blessed