Don's blog

Real Life Situations

Her Mother Was The Problem

One day when she had stayed home to do some housework, she noticed Dr Joe Carr, who came to their parsonage to counsel Don, regarding his pastoral leadership at the Leeds Church. He came into the house dressed in the uniform of a National Basketball professional team.  Muff, asked Dr Car, why he came to the homes of his clients and did not have them come to his office and why he wore the basketball uniform. He told her that he came to his clients homes because he could learn more about them in their homes than when they came to his office and he wore the basketball uniform because he was employed as the coach counselor for an outstandingly talented national professional basketball team, which could not win without learning to relate to one another. Since Counseling was his profession, he wore the basketball uniform in order for clients to learn the importance of relationships. He also said that he liked to come to their parsonage because his mother was a pastor and he had lived in a parsonage. Joe also attended the Leeds Pastor Staff Parish Relations Committee with Don at the church and complimented Don and the committee’s productive conversation regarding their relationship with one another and the church. He called them a winning team.

That evening after Joe had gone home, and Muff and Don were talking, Muff wondered if Joe would talk with her about something that was bothering her. She knew that she was loved by her father, her grandmother and her grandfather and many friends, like she was loved by many current friends, but something was wrong with her and she didn’t know what it was. When Don asked her why she wanted to talk with Joe, she told him, “I am sure that he makes lots of money as a leading NBA basketball coach counselor and his wife is the warden of a Delaware woman’s detention center, so he has more than enough money to purchase a modern automobile, yet he drives a beat up old European car like detective Columbo’s. He impresses me because his clients are more important to him than his possessions. Consequently, she said that she trusts Joe and would like him to help her with a problem.”

The next time Joe came to the house, Don went outside and worked in the yard so Muff and Joe could talk privately. After Joe left, Don came back in, and Muff told him what she and Joe had talked about. “I told him that something was bothering me, but I didn’t know what it was. He asked me if I thought it was something that had happened to me recently or a long time ago, and I told him that I didn’t think it was recently, and it might’ve been a longtime ago. We talked about different things, but we didn’t strike any pay dirt.  Eventually, Joe asked me if I had any childhood photographs? I told him that since my father was a prolific photographer, I had boxes of them. He suggested that I get them out, sit down, look at them to see what happens to me. So after he left and before you came back inside I got them out, sat down and began to study them and I need to tell you what I discovered.” Don sat down next to her, remained quiet and listened as Muff explained.

“I noticed bright cheerful pictures of me smiling and happy as a little girl until I became six years of age and the pictures then showed me unhappy and frowning until I was seven. I remembered when I was six I became aware that my mother would not allow me to have my own mind about what to do or not to do. She told me how to dress and what to say or not say. Once when she was expressing her opinion about something and I chimed in with my own opinion. She slapped me so hard that my teeth rattled. Understandably, after that, when I was between six and seven years of age, I buried my own God given ability to think for myself deep down inside when I was around her. I have never mentioned the hurt and shame I felt by not having been able to speak for myself when around her, not even to you, except for one girlfriend who was my high school girlfriend. I told her at our twenty-fifth high school class reunion. Neither of us were able in our school days to talk about our mothers, and just now being able to talk with one another about my pain and shame of being unreasonably and dictatorially controlled by my mother is freeing. That is what made me so hurt and sad in my photos when I was between six and seven year old. Of course when I was seven the pictures of me indicated that I was happy again because I decided with my father and grandparent’s help and support to be myself regardless of my mother.”  Don and Muff put their arms around one another as they joyfully and gratefully hugged and kissed. As she remembered, the pent up tears of hurt and grief from long ago were released and rolled down her cheeks. 

Next week when Joe came, Muff showed him the photographs and shared with him what she had hidden deep down inside of herself. He asked her to tell her story to him as he quietly and attentively listened and then after she stopped he repeated everything back to her and told her how pleased he was that she trusted him and shared this information with him. He then asked her if he had heard her correctly and was there anything else that she wanted to share. When she was satisfied that Joe had understood, accepted, appreciated, supported and respected what she had told him, he suggested that she confidentially tell others whom she trusted besides Don whom she told Joe that she had already told. “Otherwise’, he explained, ‘your grief will continue to pop-up anytime, any place and sometimes in embarrassing and inappropriate situations. So keep telling those whom you trust”. 

Joe also noted, “It was interesting that when you were a child you not only realized that you did not want to be dictatorially controlled by you mother, but you were obviously understood, accepted, appreciated and supported by your Father, Grandparents and younger Sister, who encouraged you to be your own charming God given true self. And not only that, but what I have learned from your parishioners that you are a fabulous mother, of your own children and have helped them and your neighbors and parishioners to be their own God given true selves, too!” He further affirmed Muff by saying, “Being a pastor’s spouse is probably the most difficult job in the church. Anyway, now that you have uncovered your vulnerability, you can continue to let your own God given true self, shine like a bright star in a night sky and Continue to be your own God given true self. You’re a fabulous person.” 

Then before leaving Joe asked this one last question. “Have you had a chance to think about the reason your mother tried to dictatorially control you?” Muff answered, “Yes, I’ve had a chance to think about this and I think that my mother’s parents spoiled her by allowing her get her own way in everything while she was growing up because of their fear of losing her like they had lost her older brother, who died as a little baby, two years before she was born. Consequently, she grew up to be a spoiled brat, getting whatever, whenever she wanted it by bossing me around. She was like a two year old that never grew out of everything in the world revolving around herself.  I don’t think she was intentionally or diabolically mean or a cruel. She just did the best she could as a mother raising me her first child. It was not easy for her and in those days, mothers and their children did not talk about their relationships openly even after the children were grown adults. I have forgiven her for what she was trying to do to me and why. I know that under the circumstances she did the best she could. Maybe it will be different in the world to come. When we meet, I’ll hug her, we might even laugh and shed some tears of remorse and enjoy genuine forgiveness together.”

Joe felt that his work with Muff was completed, but before leaving, he thanked and complimented both Muff and Don for being their own God given true selves and sharing their lives with him as well as with many other trusted friends. After a group hug, he was on his way.

Muff’s Recent picture

King Ranch Helps Provide Milk For The World

Viewing hills and valleys through which the Buck and Doe streams flow mesmerized the 44 Jenner’s Pond residents on a comfortable tour bus as they rode through the outstanding natural beauty of the King Ranch. A historian and her two cowboy friends whom they picked up to ride on the bus and guide them, intrigued and heightened their imagination as they rode along together. She explained how the King Ranch operation had been superbly organized by outstanding wealthy businessmen and their managers who employed  cowboys to herd cattle which were brought from drought ridden Texas pastures by train to Pennsylvania’s mid Chester County luscious green pastures to be fattened and sent to slaughter houses to feed residents of large east coast cities. The cowboys, their families and managers lived in yellow houses with green shutters provided by the King Ranch businessmen who occasionally came and rode horses with the cowboys to learn what could be done to improve the operation. 

As one of the Jenner’s Pond bus riders, I enjoyed learning about the businessmen who enabled the cattle business to flourish and the hilarious stories of the Pennsylvania cowboys. I also appreciated the manner in which the King Ranch cattle business was closed down with happy memories for everyone when it was purchased by an industrious land conservation group to preserve the phenomenal memories of the cattle operation and Pennsylvania cowboys. But I would be even happier if there had been mention of the current operation of transporting heifers from the surrounding Chester County and other productive farm areas to King Ranch in modern large two level tractor trailers to be unloaded and individually examined by veterinarians and given inoculations before they are hauled to the Seaport of Wilmington Delaware and placed on ocean going cargo ships to be carried to foreign countries over the world. This means that King Ranch had not only been active in the past but is currently active in a new and significant manner to help people around the world by providing them with pregnant heifers to become milk cows with calves. 

One of the cowboys sitting next to me on our tour bus told me that he had loaded 44 heifers onto a big dairy cow truck in 7 minutes and they had loaded enough heifers to supply 5 individual ocean going cargo ships last year with 2,700 heifers on each ship. Sounded to me like some King Ranch business men and cowboys are now helping to provide milk for the world.

The movie “Hidden Figures”

Tears of joy and wonder ran down viewer’s faces as Katherine Johnson played by Taraji P. Henson and her two women friends employed in 1961 by NASA in Hampton VA, broke barriers for being colored women applying their mathematical calculations to guide John Glenn’s Mercury Friendship 7 aeronautical space capsule four times around planet earth and safely parachuting it back to earth, outlasting Russia’s Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagaran, who circled only once.

Dramatically and engagingly written and portrayed, this non-fiction real life story convincingly portrays the gifted three women who strenuously exerted their intelligence and wholesome family and human relationships under excruciating bias circumstances to make an incredible difference in helping America accomplish it’s first great space endeavor.

Viewing the motion picture film,“Hidden Figures” during this time of American’s political unrest, moved Muff and me as well as many of our friends to do our best to collaborate with friends to encourage US citizens to move upward and forward. Kevin Costner, who played the part of Mr. Harrison, who directed the capsule’s flight plan asked Kathrine Johnson after John Glenn’s space capsule had miraculously landed, “Can we make it to the moon?” She responded by saying these three last words of the film, “We’re already there!” By helping one another maybe even with our biases, “We’re already there,” too!

This film helped Muff and me understand, accept, support and appreciate ourselves, one another, others and especially strangers in spite of, and maybe, even because of ours and others biases. And don’t think that those, who don’t believe they have biases, don’t. We all do. Sometimes our biases are hidden so well that we don’t even know we have them. Katherine Johnson and her two women cohorts inexpressibly and wonderfully inspire US and world viewers of “Hidden Figures” to become brave and effective activists for the betterment of all human kind and the world in which we live today. It’s an astounding film.

Your Kind Words and Thoughts for Debbie Are Appreciated

Debbie Taking A Nap

Debbie can’t talk, but she can sit, walk and with help feed herself. She makes a froggy sound when she is contented and slaps her head when she is discontented. No one knows how she learned to do it, but she began amusing her herself and accomplishing something extraordinary when she became a teenager by bouncing a ball for hours at a time with her middle right hand finger. This is still an exceptional feat for a 54 year old severely mentally challenged girl with an IQ of twenty. When she does this, she is apparently just being herself doing the one God gifted thing she can do. Incidentally, she doesn’t like too many people bothering her, but gladly welcomes some of her 24 X 7 care givers and seems to appreciate their love and attention where she is a resident at the Holly Center in Salisbury, MD.

After helping others with all sorts of problems, I was finally able after the first long seven years of Debbie’s life in which I never went into the house without changing her diapers. To receive help , Muff and I went with vital Marriage Communications friends to a Laboratory in Warwick NY which we were being trained to help other married couples. While there, I to stop denying and deal with my own grief over losing my dreams for our very special mentally challenged daughter, Debbie. 

My wife, our family and I are all so grateful for the 24 X 7 care and love Debbie then began receiving at The Rosewood Center in Owens Mills, MD where we enrolled her and now at The Holly Center, Salisbury, MD where we take turns visiting her to show the medical, psychological, social, educational and everyday care takers that we genuinely appreciate her care and treatment. The President of the United States of America could not be treated any better than where Debbie is treated. 

Hope you don’t mind my writing to tell you all of this, but she is precious to me and the rest of our family. She actually changed my life 47 years ago when I was finally able to share with trusted friends, my grief over Debbie’s inabilities.  I think I still need to occasionally share my story, and consequently my Don’s Bloggers are the “lucky ones” today. 

Incidentally, Debbie recently, had a cataract procedure to help her see better. She has so little in life, we are hoping and praying that this procedure continues to improve her eye sight. With God’s help everyone is doing his and her best to help Debbie and I might add us and especially me. 

So thanks much for your love and your prayers. 

Ethically Challenged?

While changing my clothes at the YMCA to work out early in the morning, I overheard two men in the dressing room discussing the partially blocked parking lot out front. They finally concluded that they had talked with  employees and patrons that morning and no one seemed to know the reason why it was blocked off.

Their discussion apparently triggered the memory of one of the men in the dressing room, who began to tell a story of a friend who had developed a terrible distain for signs, lines or barricades. His reaction was so upsetting to him that he made a decision to not let it bother him. But what his friend really meant when he made that decision not to let it bother him, was to not  pay any attention to his disdains which became very obvious one day when he was riding in his car which he nonchalantly parked in a clearly designated handicapped parking space and energetically jumped out of his car.

A nearby elderly lady saw him do this and shouted at him for being inconsiderate of handicapped drivers, who might need the parking space. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she cried out! The man who was telling this story said that he shouted back at the elderly lady, “His friend couldn’t help it because he was ethically challenged.” Apologetically, the elderly lady then called back that she did not know, was sorry and hoped that his driving friend would forgive her.

I still think about the men changing clothes with me at the YMCA that morning, who gave me a laughing introduction to the term, “ethically challenged”.  I’ve thought about their joke many times, but never without wondering about the many times every day that I and probably many others have acted “ethically challenged.”

Incidentally, after I worked out, showered, dressed and walked past the portion of the parking lot closed off with wide yellow lines and orange safety cones, I noticed that workers were repairing the blacktop in that portion of the parking lot. I concluded, it was probably a good idea that I had obeyed the rules even though I hadn’t been previously able to  understand them.

Completely Uninformed About Lyme Disease

She and her husband did not know Chester County Pennsylvania is targeted as one of the major deer tick infested areas in the United States. They did not know that deer ticks, the size of a poppy seed, are difficult to see or feel. They did not know that a deer tick bite is not always followed by a skin rash or bulls-eye target. They did not know Lyme disease is hard to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other human ailments and tests are not always conclusive. They did not know that untreated infection caused by a deer tick bite can wreak irreparable havoc on the human body and mind.

For over one month she struggled with devastating ailments and eventually excruciating muscle pain, before she was finally treated for the following symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • She was fatigued
  • She had red eyes – thought it was caused by prescribed eye drops
  • She lost her appetite, lost weight and did not like or want anything to eat
  • She was sleep deprived – napped repeatedly but it did not help
  • She had painful swollen wrists and fingers – could not wear her rings and bracelets – thought it was arthritis
  • She had excruciating pain in the back of her neck muscles and each side of her back muscles which migrated randomly to other muscles – her pain was so severe that she could not move or bear her muscles touched

Normally, a very busy, healthy, appreciated and loved lady, who had been declared cancer free after five years from her breast procedure and treatment. She served many volunteer endeavors as well as looked after herself, her husband, grown children, grand children and many friends, and as a non-complaining retired nurse, kept thinking with medications and rest she’d feel better. When the painful muscles symptom occurred, her husband and a friend had to pick her up and carry her to use the bathroom, and because she was in such agony she could not decide what to do next. They took her to the Emergency Room of the Christiana Care Hospital. She was treated in the Emergency Room for 24 hours and then five more days in a hospital room. Six different doctors individually asked her if she had been in the woods, bitten by a tick or had a telltale rash or bulls-eye on her skin. She answered no. Pain medications which she desperately needed and appreciated were provided,  but they were unable to diagnose or treat her for an infection indicated by her blood tests. She was told what she did not have, but not what she did have while the excruciating muscle pain and other symptoms mercilessly persisted. The doctors and nurses tried to help her, but to no avail.

In desperation, her husband called their daughter, a knowledgeable Registered Nurse with credible hospital, home health care, hospice and medical insurance company experience. When asked what her mother’s symptoms were, he told her, and she said, “Dad, Mom has Lyme disease”. He quickly relayed this information to her hospitalist physician, who ordered a Western Blog for Lyme disease, but which is often the case, her’s did not test positively. Her husband then phoned her primary physician, told him the symptoms, and he agreed to meet her at the skilled nursing unit where they live at Jenner’s Pond PA. Her primary physician came on a Sunday morning, noted that her face showed that she was going through terrible pain, reviewed her symptoms, examined her and prescribed doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat the infection caused by Lyme disease. Since that day although she has not gotten completely better yet, she continues to improve. Her quick wit and smile, as you can see in the attached picture which was taken before this ordeal, is beginning to return.

She may still have to deal with some long-term effects of the Lyme infection, we’re not sure, but if needed there are other antibiotics which can be used to complement doxycycline. Her primary doctor will be following her progress until she’s safely over Lyme disease. Patients sometimes even have to take low dosages of antibiotics for the rest of their life when the Lyme infection keeps recurring in what appears as a facial stroke or loss of mental abilities. We’re hoping and praying for her complete recovery without any debilitating or lasting effects.

Her Lyme symptoms were made public in this post because, without wearing long lasting protection spray, a deer tick may bite anyone, anytime almost anywhere out-of-doors in Chester County Pennsylvania or in the surrounding geographic areas of Delaware or the Eastern Shore of Maryland. And even though this information is limited to only one deer tick harmed lady and each deer tick bitten person is uniquely affected and will have different symptoms, it may help other unsuspecting deer tick bitten persons to understand the need to be alert, look for Lyme disease symptoms and find a medical doctor, who will knowledgeably, willingly, quickly, and courageously provide a timely Lyme disease treatment.

A Christmas Wonder

Not a car or person stirring in The Y or the huge shopping center parking lots near us on this Christmas morning.  Only three individuals walking their dogs, and no cars moving on the streets running through the Jenner’s Pond Continuing Care Community in which we live. Everything and every household at least on the outside was unbelievably quiet where we live. Stopped my car and started walking to safely contemplate even more quietly alone on the banks of a creek in the woods in back of where we live.

Along the way, I paused to enjoy a look at a picturesque pond where I saw less than twelve feet away from where I was standing, silhouetted by brush on the edge of the pond – the most picture perfect scene of a Gray Heron I had ever been privileged to see, frozen in place to not give itself away. Slowly, but evidently not slow enough, I reached into my pocket to get out my smart phone to take a picture, but it detected my move and quickly flew to the safety of the other side of the pond and slowly landed to stand in the water. The picture in this post is obviously not the one I missed.

Mesmerized, I quietly sat down on a nearby bench and contemplated the wonder of the heron which had statuesquely retained it’s delicate, graceful upright pose. Perhaps it conveyed a message to me to keep the many ungainly parts of my own person in perspective by timely observing all that’s around me and when all else failed, fly safely from who or whatever might hurt or harm me. I thanked the heron for it’s undeniably wonderful sponsor free message by which I had been connected to nature on this Christmas morning. I hoped and prayed that the heron might remain safe and unharmed, so that we humans who are supposedly tending the earth for it and all other creatures, might continue to learn from it and all other forms which watch out for and help us. We’re all connected.

This was a God gift which I received on a wonderful 2015 Christmas morning.  Couldn’t help sharing it.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, this was the first Christmas morning my wife,  Muff and I spent with just the two of us alone together for the 58 years of our marriage. After I observed the Gray Heron, I spent a delightful time with her in our apartment, looking at pictures and  remembering our Christmas mornings together with our parents, children, grandchildren and their significant others. Tomorrow, after many afternoon happy phone calls with our family, we all gather together at one of their homes for our Family Christmas celebration.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

This morning I read for the second time an article clipped from the Wall Street Journal and given to me by a friend, who serves on our Jenner’s Pond library book selection committee. She wrote on a note attached to a book review, “thought of you when I read this.” It was a review titled, Where Earth and Water Parted authored by Gerald Helderich in reference to Aaron Hirsh’s new book, Telling Our Way To The Sea.

Describing Hirsh’s pictorial writing of his personal explorations of the Sea of Cortez and information from John Steinbeck Sea of Cortez adventures, Helderich makes a perfect pitch for persons to read Telling Our Way To The Sea.

I was grateful for my Jenner’s Pond friend cutting out and giving me this book review not only because I have taken people sailing on The Sea of Cortez but also because it reminded me of an important author’s practice of making reference to those who have gone before us in creative ways.

In this review the author makes use of Hirsh’s reference to Steinbeck before him. It helps me as an author to remember and practice this in creative ways not only because Hirsh does this in his book but because memorable practitioners including John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham and Jesus, the Christ, have done so. However, so far as we know, Jesus did not write it down, just filed it in his memory, and pulled it out and used it when ever necessary by mentioning the laws and prophecies before him, whenever and wherever he could use it to help him to give credence and persuasion to his presentation. He noted that he was then not only able to fulfill the law and the prophets but expand and enlarge interest and engage the people with whom he was talking in their own vernacular. Our memorable great presidents did the same thing. John Kennedy reminded the American people to not ask what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country, a saying that originated many years before in ancient Greece.

It’s a practice, my friend reminded me of by reading the article second time which she had given to me with her note. She helped me to practice my own deliveries in talking as a pastor and writing as an author by including the gifts of those who have ventured before me in their exploration, understanding and projection of the subjects I wish to talk and write about. Thanks to my friend, Mary Jane Hofmann.

Another way of looking at this wrinkle which needs to be ironed out whenever talking or writing is what Robert Schuller has said in reference to speaking and writing when he instructed us to give credit to those from whom we have received information or an idea. Claiming credit for something we’ve said or written without giving credit to those from whom we received it, is termed plagiarism. The truth of the matter is that most of us have few if any completely new ideas or understanding. We simply continue to learn from others mistakes and successes as well as our own and we build on them. It behoves us and whatever or whoever we’re talking or writing about to give credit where credit is due.

Frankly, I am humbled to learn that my thoughts and feelings have been thought and felt long before I ever experienced them. Fortunately, I can then enjoy expressing what they said or have written in new significant and hopefully life changing and interesting ways.

Once again thanks for your note, Mary Jane

A Native Eastern Shore of Maryland Author

His gripping  LIVING IN HARMONY: an Eastern Shore village redeems discord stories are all true, and happened in the village of Harmony where he grew up.

The author, is a Western Kentucky University and Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. graduate. After six more years of Princeton’s Laboratory Training Network and Schuller’s Church Growth training at Garden Grove, CA, he specialized in counseling and church growth during the 45 years he pastored United Methodist Churches in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He also guided foreign tours and took people sailing over the world for recreation and to provide expansive experiences while pastoring before he began writing about his home village of Harmony which strives to live up to the meaning of its name.

Filled with heart-warming childhood, family, friends, Native Indian, pastoral and sailing stories, he avoids the trap of simply listing chronological events of his life by weaving together personal memories with Maryland’s Eastern Shore history. He includes a gun dual, the murder of a young girl, and other atrocities, such as bigotry and slavery in which patriotic heroes and others stepped up to create harmony, when discord tried to reign. He highlights his family and friends, who helped shape his life and development as a pastor and sailor, and guid him as he built healthy faith communities throughout his career and gathered sailing friends to find peace and wonder in families, churches, communities and the beauty of nature. No matter where or when readers were born and reared, his stories inspire readers to think of how their childhood history and environment may play a significant role in developing harmony in life.

His book published by Authorhouse.com, is also available at Amazon.com, and BN.com or packing and postage free for $19.95 mailed with your address to Harmony Hurst Books, 3202 Greenbriar Lane, West Grove PA 19390 or at book signings, where he is appearing at Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania book stores, news centers, libraries, schools, businesses, history societies, county summer festivals, school reunions, churches, conferences and family events.  For confidentiality readers may use dhurst30@me.com.

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