Another anniversary will be here before I know it. Unless ones’ memory needs jogged for check writing, most people will see March 14th come and go without giving it a passing thought. For me, it is another reminder that something is missing. I still find myself shocked that Mom has been gone for four years. Given how many years she lived in our house, I still find it difficult to refer to her old room as the “orange” room since the paint job.

More than once I have raged that not much positive ever came out of our relationship. But, this past year I noticed a difference. The longer Mom has been gone, the easier it has become to let the anger go. I seem to have settled into a comfortable chair of peace and quiet. And, sometimes in that place, I discover deeply hidden and long suppressed memories I can only describe as little bits of joy. Words, touches and memories I had long ago forgotten, buried in harsh words and prolonged separations between two stubborn women. One of those memories even prompted me to get my first tattoo. My mother was not the “I love you” kind of person. But, when Mordecai came along, she revealed a side I somehow had forgotten. I believe God sent him to our family just for her and just when she needed him. She always changed in his presence, softened up I guess you’d say. Somehow, this year, I remembered that Mom always told him “I love you to the moon and back”. So, as a way of keeping her close…well, you get the picture. 20160304_215310

Anyway, this March 14th Mordecai will be visiting from Texas. Maybe his presence will help me get through the day with a smile and fewer tears. And, getting more comfortable in my chair,  I’ll allow myself to remember more pieces of laughter and joy. After all, you can’t be weighed down by long held bitterness if you plan to make it to the moon and back…!

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Thoughts on Your Birthday Mom!

Today marks the 80th anniversary of my mother’s birth. However, she is not here to celebrate having passed in 2012. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think of her more than I care to admit. Many who know me understand that we had a difficult relationship. I think it is more common between mothers and daughters than many care to admit.  My sister and I often joked that we absolutely hated Mother’s Day because Sandra Stidham did not fit any “traditional” card you might pick up in a store.  Nothing ever seemed suitable for a woman who could not be defined by a canned verse. I remember spending so much of my life angry that she was NOT the mother I thought I deserved. I honestly believed God had played such a dirty trick on my sisters and me giving us an asshole for a father and a cold woman for a mother.  I believed we hit snake eyes on the parent front if I’m being honest.  But, what the hell did I know.

In 2016, I will turn 60 years old and believe it or not, I have learned a great deal in those many years. Funny thing is much of what I learned I have to lay at the feet ofMom and I that cold-hearted woman I’m remembering today. I’ve come to understand that in her own way she was quite the teacher. She taught me that in spite of great odds, you can do anything… you can rise above the most difficult of situations and people in your life. She taught me that you can never look down on anyone else because you never know their story…you don’t know until you walk in their shoes she used to say. She taught me that someone always has less than you do and that it is so easy to share. And, as I was reminded today, she taught me that I was never lost, I just didn’t know where I was from time to time.  Well Mom, I am lost without you… but, thanks to you, I’ll find my way…TOMORROW.

As for today, I’ll just say thank you and I’m sorry I wasn’t the daughter you deserved. I pray you had a magnificent birthday. Until we talk again… all my love!

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Thoughts From the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit HoleEvents in my country these last days only reinforce my desire to leave. I haven’t a clue where in the world I would go. I’m not sure there is any place for someone as odd as myself. I only know I do not belong here in this place, in this time. Most would brand me unpatriotic. Okay, I’ve never been much of a flag waver so I guess I can live with the label. I am just so tired. I understand nothing and no one here down the rabbit hole.

Once again, I am reminded of conversations with my therapist where I share with her my belief that truly I am the crazy one walking around in this life. Others around me go about their business seeing the same things I do, hearing the same things I do, reading the same things I do; but apparently believing it normal or finding total agreement. I am out of sync with too much in this place.

Most recently, I find myself profoundly saddened, disappointed and angered by the behavior of friends, family, potential and current leaders with regards to the plight of refugees. Okay, call me bipolar. I’m okay with that label too. But, explain to me how a country whose very existence is founded on the notion of people finding refuge in a new land can so easily turn a blind eye to the suffering of so many is beyond comprehension. I weep for the hardened heart we have developed out of a fear of others. I am confused by a people who choose to live their daily lives in fear of what “might” happen. For a country who calls itself “Christian”, it must be a case of amnesia to have forgotten so many scriptures calling us to be hospitable to strangers. Perhaps a refresher is in order:

  • Deuteronomy 10: 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
  • Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
  • Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.
  • Matthew 25:40 Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me.
  • Luke 10:27 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
  • Hebrews 13: 1 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
  • Colossians 3:11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
  • Matthew 25: 35 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
  • Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

There is such a feeding frenzy for revenge in our country that I find myself choking on the stench. It is my contention that bin Laden succeeded beyond his wildest imagination in changing the face of America on 9/11. We are certainly more divided, less trusting, less compassionate and hell bent on making someone pay. At the same time, we continue to fuel the fires with weapon sales to anyone with cash in hand. And, if you own stock in military “anything” you too are bipolar as your portfolio profits increase while reaping what you sow. When Armageddon arrives, I am convinced it will be stamped with Made in America.

This commentary is not a slam on those who choose to or have served in the military. I admire and respect your dedication and willingness to a cause. At the same time, I do question the causes that send men and women to places where it seems more about business than protecting freedoms back at home. We should do more to make fewer veterans in the first place, truly be more selective in picking our battles. What is it they say… “follow the money.”

It may be naïve on my part. Perhaps, I am just too stupid, too blind to understand the big picture. But, is it not enough to let your faith be better than your fear? Is it not enough to truly trust in a higher power if you call yourself a Christian nation? As I said, I would not call myself a patriotic person, but I do know the trappings. I know that our national anthem contains the words “home of the brave”. I find myself wondering exactly where those people have gone or did they ever really exist in the first place. If so, I miss them!

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A Letter to My Beauty

Moms. We ALL have them. And, we ALL love and hate them at the same time. Well, maybe ALL is a bit of an overstatement. Maybe, only I loved and hated my mother. Anyway, this is a note about mothers and daughters; particularly a note to my own daughter. I can’t get our phone conversation off my mind. I’m not quite sure that you actually “heard” what I was trying to tell you. So, here goes.

Don’t wait until you are in your 50s like I did to make peace with your mother. Please, let it go! Don’t stress with any long held feelings you may have that you did or did not get it right growing up. Or, that you are doing it right or wrong today. I want to be very clear, come clean, and make a confession. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing as your mother. It was my “first-time.” You were a glorious experiment and the truth is sometimes I failed miserably. I was not, am not and will never be perfect at being anything, including your mother. I have forgotten more mistakes than I can even begin to imagine. Guess what, you made and will continue to make mistakes too. That’s what makes us human. But, we are still here to live and tell others about them. Well, maybe not all of them. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know about all of them. And, anyway, let’s just say – we made it!

I love you and I’m pretty sure you love me too! What I want you to hear is that you are wonderfully made just the way you are. All I can ever ask of you as a daughter is to be happy. Be a happy woman. Be a happy mother. Be a happy wife. Just be happy in the life YOU have chosen for yourself. Don’t let anyone choose your life for you. That is a gift from God to you and you alone. Please don’t hang on to garbage that can drag you down. As the saying goes… garbage in – garbage out… don’t do it! Let’s not waste precious years dwelling on past mistakes we both made. Don’t follow my example of trying to please a mother who cannot be pleased. It is a wasted life; one I know all too well. Know that this advice is coming from a place of deep love and respect for the person you are in this world and in my life. I am in absolute awe of your strength and perseverance. You are braver than I could ever dream of being. I could not be more proud to call you daughter. So, once again, hear me now – loud and clear… live your life, love your life and know that you have no standards to reach but those you choose for yourself.

Let the legacy of failure and inadequacy end here, in this moment. Let’s begin a legacy of forgiveness, healthy living and a lifetime of mother-daughter respect and love!

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My Dear Sweet Mordecai

We have just returned from a two week road trip to Maine. What was planned as an opportunity to share another part of the country with you became a going away party that I don’t want to happen. We managed to travel through a dozen states, cover 4500 miles and see some amazing places together.

I will never forget how you helped me at Niagara Falls when I was sure I could not make it another step. And, the fact that you believed Chocolate World was “heaven” still brings a smile to my face. I appreciated that you humored Papaw with his journey to Ellis and Liberty Islands even though it was the last place you wanted to be in the world. However, I know a little secret. I know that you enjoyed it more than you let on as evidenced by the look on your face as you looked at the Statue of Liberty. And, I know you were in awe as you saw the New York skyline for the first time.

Then it was off to Maine for a week of relaxation. I hope someday you find a way to give seafood a try, particularly lobster, scallops or crab. You are missing out on one of life’s little pleasures. You were fearless in the cold waters and tackled kayaking like a champ. I know your Papaw will treasure those moments with you. And, let’s not forget that we taught you one of GaGa’s favorite games – Yahtzee… yes, I know, you and Papaw belong to the two Yahtzee club and I don’t! Finally, while we were disappointed that our whale watching trip was cancelled, it turned into a blessing because our alternate plan led you to finding your favorite place in Maine. You were so happy jumping around those rocks on the coastline.

Too quickly, it was time to head home. But, we still had two more stops to make. First, we traveled to Philadelphia and a meeting with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. You would not be moved from the video telling the story of the bell. I was so proud of you. We ended our journey in Gettysburg with Jim, our battlefield guide. I know it was not what you wanted to do that day. But, in the end, you came away able to share some information about those three days in July. You saw a bit of history that quite possibly changed the course of your country.

On this trip, I was moved by your compassion and consideration for others as you opened doors for the elderly at Bob Evans and snapped multiple family photos for others in Philadelphia. You have such a beautiful heart.

Then, too quickly, we hit the road for the final push home. You were ready. You told me, “I want to get my family back together”. Me, I wanted to keep you to myself a little longer. I confess I am not ready to let you go.

But, here we are, it’s time to do just that – time for you to head for Texas. And, much like watching your mother drive away, I am at a loss how I am supposed to tell you good-bye. You have been a constant presence in my life since the day you were born.  I have cried for you many times. I have worried about you many times. I have laughed with you many times. I have enjoyed your company more times than I can count. You are my JOY Mordecai! I will pray for you always. I will love you forever. I will be your Diva for eternity. Don’t forget your promises:

  • Call or Skype at least twice/week.
  • Get out of the house and exercise. Don’t get fat like me!
  • Make at least one new friend.
  • Try to find a sport at school, the Y or somewhere in the community and participate.

Never forget or doubt that if you ever need me, I will drop everything and I’m there. You only have to ASK.  I will ALWAYS have your back…FOREVER!

To the Moon and Back


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Our current military should indeed serve to “defend the United States”. That means keep ‘em home and defend our cities, our borders and our infrastructure. How about we stay the hell out of other people’s business. Maybe, just maybe, then they will choose to leave us the hell alone too!

Better yet, how about we simply shut down that military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. Certainly you remember General Eisenhower. In his farewell address on 17 January 1961, while acknowledging the need for such tools, his words should ring through each and every statehouse as well as the halls of Congress once again. “…we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

My personal fear is that far too many of us have relinquished our rights to the government out of fear of the “other” and/or out of some sense of patriotism that only leaves us wrapped up in a flag and leaving the option of peaceful methods in its’ wake.

That military industrial complex is now so entrenched in each and every corner of the country that no politician dares to touch it for fear of being branded anti-military and unpatriotic. And, in spreading its’ tentacles into each state, politicians fear for their jobs if bases and/or projects are closed in their district.

I believe Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) summed it up best when he said,

  • “We have countries that depend on our technology and our defense suppliers and contractors.”
  • “We have to keep that business going.”

Is this really what our men and women in uniform have been reduced to…keeping defense suppliers in business. I propose we get about the business of shutting down as many overseas bases as possible. Bring ‘em all home.

And, for people who are fond of saying we should “listen to the generals”, how about we give that a try. God knows they have attempted to say we have enough “stuff”. They have lobbied Congress to spend money elsewhere…

  • The Army told Congress “no more tanks” – did they listen? Hell no.
  • The Navy’s wanted to retire several cruisers. Did Congress listen? Hell no.
  • And, the Air Force; they have several aircraft they no longer need and it has fallen on deaf ears where Congress is concerned.

Peter Schweizer, with the Government Accountability Institute responded to Congressman Harris by saying “the defense budget should be about protecting our national security and serving the interests of our fighting men and women.  It shouldn’t be about providing money to politically connected corporations in some Congressman’s district.”

But, no… we live and breathe that America is “exceptional” and heaven help us if we provide any assistance to “those people over there”. Being “exceptional” should make us want to do the “exceptional”, i.e., share more. But, hey, that one penny out of every dollar of the federal budget that actually goes to foreign aid is eating into the tin foil budget isn’t it. And, then there are those “pull yourself up by the bootstrap” people who are quite comfortable saving money on the backs of children who, through no fault of their own, go to bed hungry.

For many who are so fond of quoting from the Bible, I am reminded of a story. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.’

If you believe in a CREATOR, a GOD, I have serious doubts that HE/SHE will ask for your passport in order to determine which heavenly benefits you are entitled. And, I am absolutely positive that God will not care how many fuckin’ BASES, GUNS, TANKS, PLANES, SHIPS or ARMYS you command. But, hey – HOORAH!

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War on Christmas

This week, Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ into the world. Once again we are invited to see The Christ join us in the mud and the muck of the human world we live. And, every year I find myself asking the same question. Why bother with us? Do we really honor His birth? Do we really honor His life? Do we really celebrate His message?

I find myself laughing when people complain about a “war on Christmas”. The only people who have declared war are those who have forgotten the true meaning of the holiday. How many of us cringe at the thought of spending time with family we cannot stand any other day of the year. Where is the forgiveness Jesus offered others? Just as Christ is turned away year after year at the inn on the very night of his birth, how many of us turn our backs on the homeless in our midst. Just how much do we spend on gifts for family and friends during this holiday season? Exactly, how many ties, socks, shirts and tech games do we really “need” when so many in our own world go to bed without a meal. How many malls and online stores do we aimlessly wander hoping to find “just the right item” for someone when so many in our world do not have access to clean drinking water? Jesus offered a message of simplicity that depended on the generosity and hospitality of others as He traveled. We show up for the beautiful candlelight services at local churches and toss a few coins into the red kettles. But, if we are being honest, doesn’t it end there. After Christmas, far too many of us go back to our lives of disinterest in the lives of others believing they should “pick themselves up” or “it’s their own fault” or “I did it, why can’t they?” or “I’ve done my fair share already” attitudes. We seem to have forgotten that EVERYTHING we have is a blessing from God.

So, I suppose there is a war alright. But, it’s not the one I hear about on television or in the papers. It is a war within ourselves because we know we are falling short of what Christ called us to do. We all, writer included, can do more to celebrate and honor Christmas. Christ did “more” in His time as one of us. He healed. He associated. He clothed. He fed. He wept. He consoled. He loved. He forgave. He died. Maybe in 2015, we (I) can do better to remember Christmas the other 364 days; I’ll try!

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Spare Me the Fake Outrage

Okay, I can’t help myself any longer. This domestic violence business with the NFL has me pissed off. I grew up in a house where slapping the woman around was the norm and no one, I mean no one gave a rats ass, including the police. And, to hear the NFL expressing their “grave” concern about how woman are treated and how they truly respect women is laughable. It’s not like Ray Rice was the first man in the NFL to hit his girlfriend…Commissioner Please! Remind me again how women are respected when I no longer see prancing women on the sidelines in “barely there” costuming  or when punishments for smoking a joint is “really” less severe than knocking a woman unconscious.

And spare me the fake outrage I have seen in social media considering so much is coming from the same people who think nothing of throwing up a photo of a barely dressed woman and commenting on her ass and/or her boobs in terms clearly “not of endearment”.

I don’t want to leave out the “disrespect women in chief” – a$$hat Rush Limbaugh, who shares with his audience that “no means yes if you know how to spot it”.  He couldn’t spot his way out of Palm Beach without his “prescription meds”.

We certainly can’t forget all of the attempts, far too many successful, around the country questioning the minds of women when it comes to choosing abortion or their method of birth control. After all, none of us are capable of thinking for ourselves (wink-wink).

Which brings me to our “there’s no war on women” Senate Republicans who, on Monday, unanimously voted down the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Yeah, women are truly well respected in America. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out we no longer have the right to vote any day now. Wake me up when we actually achieve equality with individuals in this country who appear to only be thinking with their wallets or their di*k$.

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Amen and Amen

The World is Coming to an End (a video I do not want to forget)

Click on the word “post”

Post by Prince Ea.

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And, the Winner Is…

As I mentioned in a previous post, my Pastor and I have been exploring films with spiritual leanings this summer during our Bible time together at work. It has been an amazing journey. Anyway, the Hubs and I just finished watching the last movie of the summer – a 1986 piece called The Mission with Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Aidan Quinn and Liam Neeson. Slow to start, but ultimately a very good piece. Anyway, there was a line in the movie that grabbed my attention and best describes my personal thoughts regarding the violence in our hearts, our homes, our communities and in our world.

First, a brief synopsis: The film takes place in 1758 and tells the story of Spanish Jesuits as they try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.

Love Your Enemies

If you want to see what other movies we’ve watched and discussed this summer, click on the picture. FYI: I would highly recommend The Book of Life and The Sunset Limited

Gabriel, played by Jeremy Irons (the main priest) is speaking to Rodrigo played by Robert De Niro a fairly new priest; one with a shady past. With their Mission threatened by the current powers, Rodrigo is prepared to abandon his priestly duties and defend the area and its’ people meeting violence with violence. Gabriel’s response is what most would be considered naïve and quite simple-minded.  His response caught me off guard, yet summed up so much of my thinking that I felt the need to share it here. Gabriel says “if might is right, then love has no place in the world”.  At the same time, the statement begs the question; can “might” and “love” coexist in the world?

For those of us who believe in the Christ, nonviolence is most certainly a basic tenet of the faith. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those whose persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Matthew 5.43-46. I love this piece of scripture. It is so easy to love those who love you. But, to love those who hate you or hurt you… now, that’s certainly a horse of a different color.  But, we are called to do just that and it seems unfair to make this request. The path this movie took made me angry too. I understood Rodrigo and his desire to stop the enemy before the enemy could hurt anyone he had come to care so deeply about. But, how many times have we found ourselves in the position of having to do the difficult thing knowing it was the right thing.

My most consistent prayer, as many of my Bible study friends will tell you is a short and simple one. I simply ask for “peace”. Peace in my life and peace in our world. I know it’s an awfully BIG request. But, for people who believe in a BIG God, I hold out hope that one day my prayer will be answered.

So, I don’t know if “might” and “love” can coexist in the world. I guess time will ultimately answer that question. I only know that I prefer a world of love. You’ll have to decide the answer to that question for yourself. But, I love you for thinking about the question at all! That’s how we’ll get where we want to go – one person at a time – thinking about the possibilities of a world of love. As someone (thank you John) in a song once said, “I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And, the world will live as one.”

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