I love it when children misspeak or mispronounce words and thus provide an opportunity to add a new word to our vocabulary. My daughter was a toddler when she referred to a magazine as a ‘mazagine,’ and my husband and I still use that word.

My younger brother Steven, who has Down syndrome, gave us the word ‘ploblem’ – so our problems haven’t been much of a problem over the years – just ploblems. My daughter’s family has a little dog named Max, but he answers to ‘Manny,’ because that is what Steven calls him when they play together. And my granddaughter Paisley is called ‘Paylay’ when Steven is around.

The inside jokes and unique words are one of a few things that makes us family or is proof of a long-lasting friendship. Years or decades of being together may make us realize little things like understanding our own family language – is one of the fun things that gives us a sense of belonging.

So when I had the thought on my mind the other day that I needed to cross my eyes and dot my teas – I chuckled to myself when I realized I had turned the phrase around.

Crossing my eyes is easy – but how would I dot my teas? I have always wanted to be a tea kind of lady and since learning of the health benefits of organic herbal teas – I will probably always work on acquiring a taste for it.

Proactive wellness is a topic that I love to study, and in fact I lead a group at my church by that name – Proactive Wellness Discussion Group. We meet twice monthly. And we discuss. We have evolved into our own little think tank.

There are a number of reasons why I lead the group – a few being that I am the queen of wellness-related saved articles, I have overcome a few health issues including insomnia, and I worked for many years as an RN in Home Health and Hospice.

Several years back – I stepped away from the field of nursing when a friend asked me if I would like to work as a rep for a credit card processing company. So off I went to learn that industry – and it has been a fun venture. I am still employed as a sales and service independent contractor in merchant credit card processing.

I have a continued interest in health and wellness. Somewhere in the early months of 2013, I stumbled into what I now refer to as the ‘natural world.’ In the middle of the night. When I couldn’t sleep. I began by studying the reasons why people cannot go to sleep. And why we can’t stay asleep.

You have to do something quiet in the middle of the night. So studying it was.

Now I sleep by night and research by day. Anybody who knows me, knows that all I want to do is study and read articles, journals, and books about natural ways to prevent illness and especially how to recover from whatever ails us.  And I find myself tip-toeing into the world of writing my own articles about proactive wellness.

When I was a young girl in the seventies, my family always referred to three of our neighbor ladies as the ‘Gabriel girls.’ The Gabriel girls were sisters, and they lived in two homes just east of my parents’ home.

Verna Gabriel had never been married, and she lived in a house just two doors down from the home that I was growing up in. On the other side of Verna’s home, her sisters – Betty and Norma – had built a pretty brick house – with light blue trim.  And the inside of their home was painted a colonial blue.

The Gabriel girls – in my mind – were the ultimate tea ladies. They were very proper ladies. Both of their homes had a lot of charm – with built-in shelves that housed many hard-bound books. And the Gabriel girls were patrons of the local library.  

Most of the items in their homes were family treasures. They would sometimes tell me the story behind the things in their homes – like what a Hummel figurine was and who bought it for them. It seemed to me that all you had to do was live a long time – and your treasures would become antiques right along with you.  

Verna’s cat, Pansy, fit right into her quaint little home. And I learned that you can be a bird-watcher from the comfort of your home with no need for binoculars. Verna would watch the birds at the birdfeeder through her picture window which was right beside her cushioned seat at her wooden dining room table.

And the Gabriel girls knew how to tend to beautiful perennials in their landscaping and gardens.  

Verna had a typewriter. And she put colored ribbon in it to type poems. She sent birthday cards to me. I just knew that certainly when I grew up – I too would have a typewriter, and I would put colored ribbon in it, so the children in my life would receive a card with colored words. And they would love the poems.

That never happened. The children in my life have grown up, and they have not received any cards or poems from me. My nieces and nephews went and grew up. And now we are watching the great nieces and nephews grow quickly. Have any of them received a card or poem with colored lettering from me? No.

Kids these days. All they are receiving are text messages.

But I still have the notes and birthday cards that I had received from Verna. One of the cards has a drawing of a little lady sitting at her dining room table. Her cat is present. Her hair is up in a bun. Glasses on. Red sweater. A plaid apron tied at the waist. The table in front of her has a birthday cake with one candle and a vase with a single yellow rose. And most importantly, a gentle smile on her face.

It makes me wonder if Verna knew – when she chose the card – that the picture of the little woman on the front of the card was indeed a caricature of herself. And Pansy her cat. Would she have known I was going to save the cards she had sent to me – and I would take into adulthood the sweet memories of times we had spent together.   

The Gabriel girls were 80 years old when they were making a difference in the lives of the children who lived in their neighborhood.  

Someone recently used the term ‘kindred spirit’ in conversation with me. And although I knew he was stating the words as a compliment, I couldn’t help but go home and look up the online meaning of kindred spirit – and make sure it meant what I thought it meant.

And certainly the Gabriel girls were kindred spirits to those who had a love for culture, reading, and nature. Their willingness to welcome the neighborhood children into their home for short visits was inspiring, and obviously I felt that I would grow up and live my life somewhat like they lived their lives.

All of us know that children need adults – young and old – who are willing to nurture and mentor them in ways that leave them not only with fond memories – but with real-life skills, with talents, and with a love for learning.

Many of today’s children desperately need to turn off their electronics and learn some life skills. But the picturesque times of the seventies when we could freely open our front doors may just be something from the past, and we must find safe ways to mentor our children. Possibly it is through formal programs in our churches and civic or educational programs that we can share our skills and talents.

Those of us who know how to build a birdfeeder, how to grow an organic garden and preserve the produce, how to catch a fish, how to change a tire, how to read a book, how to pray, how to tend to flowers, how to make and send a greeting card must find ways to pass it on.

When someone asks us what the greatest blessing was from our childhood, I would venture to say most of us would talk about an adult in our life and agree that the gift of time they gave to us was better than any material item we could have received.

Verna passed away in 1980 – right when I was starting life as an adult.

The only material items I received from Verna were birthday cards and her type-written poems. She and I shared December birthdays, and now I realize how much her life touched my life. She was the first person in my life who was an ‘older’ kindred spirit to me.

In recent years, I have been so fascinated and in awe of the new world I have discovered, that I find myself praying I grow in to the truth that I am to do everything to the glory of God.

I’m not a bible scholar. But I know bible scholars. I’m not a biochemist. But I know biochemists. There are times I am over-whelmed by the bible. And the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the human body should rightfully leave us in awe.

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are God’s masterpiece. And in Psalm 111:2 – Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.

The Gabriel girls taught me that you never stop learning, and you never stop giving. As adults, we may just need to nurture our own love for learning. There are many willing and capable teachers around us, and a book in our hand is a very good thing. 

A great way to start our morning studies is with Lamentations 3:22-24 where we are reminded that God’s mercies begin new each day and our hope is in Him:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”



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