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Rachel Ilene
Lifelong learner and observer of people.
Interests: writing, photography, sewing, crocheting, hanging out with my thirteen grandchildren, collector of cartoons.
Recent Activity
My Mother’s dementia was advanced at this point. Some days she was lively and engaged in conversation; this was not one of her best days. She sat there between us—expressionless and appeared oblivious of our presence. There was a slight pause in our lively discussion when she asked, “Am I a woman of influence?” Are you kidding me?! Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2021 at STRETCHMARKS
Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote, "The years teach much which the days never knew," has come alive for most of the world during the year 2020. There was considerable hype about the beginning of this year--fresh vision--2020 vision--fresh perspective. Little did we know what was to come in March when our world turned upside down because of a health pandemic. My brother-in-law was gravely ill and not expected to live so I flew to Missouri to be with the family. There were media reports of limited travel, healthcare facilities being shutdown as well as public schools. FEAR became the normal broadcast... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2020 at STRETCHMARKS
Have you ever been homesick? Most of us have longed for that place called home. The only cure for this malady is to go home once again, right? For several years my heart ached for Ireland—a country I had never visited. I cried when I heard Irish music or saw beautiful photos of this verdant island far, far away. I prayed for a miracle cure for my homesickness: I had to go home to Ireland. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2018 at STRETCHMARKS
Have you ever been invited to witness something so spectacular that it took your breath away? A friend messaged me recently that she believed there was a bald eagle in her locust grove; she thought I might want to come take a look and capture some photos. Seriously, yes! I made time to check it out. I walked quietly into the locust grove scanning the trees and suddenly, there it was—perched on a bare limb, making eye contact. Wowzer! This magnificent creature could rip me to shreds. Proceed with caution. Breathe. Don’t screw this up! The light wasn’t great but... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2017 at STRETCHMARKS
I have visited several countries and lived outside these boundaries and I can say with certainty: I am grateful to live in the United States of America—with all her flaws and strengths at this appointed time in history. Saint Paul wrote in Acts 17:26 these words: From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. Woodie Guthrie set these words to music: This land is your land, this land is my land, From California to the New York Island, From the redwood forest... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2016 at STRETCHMARKS
I looked for something to give as a White Elephant gift in my endless sentimental stash. There were some tins—AOL tins—the kind that were mailed to residents to market time on the internet. I looked for a date and discovered these were mailed in 2003. I couldn’t believe how archaic the whole idea seemed now. Next I read through a couple Christmas gift books I have had for years and was amused at some of the outdated suggestions for shopping. Add a new Christmas cassette or CD to your music collection each year. Some of us still have such relics!... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2014 at STRETCHMARKS
In celebration of my mother’s 93rd birthday this month, I am posting a story she wrote almost 50 years ago. She has written letters, newsletters, puns and stories that have been treasured by many. These have increased in value to all those who love her, because now she has dementia and her mind cannot recall things as before. She shared this precious moment with her youngest great-grandson, Hudson Joseph Blevins, who will know her best through stories told by family and friends. With her curious nature and his Papa's name, he will pick up his part in the family tale.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2014 at STRETCHMARKS
This has been a summer of ups and downs, much like childlike play on a see-saw. How is it possible to have so much angst and wonder in one soul? On the downside I watch as four women I know and love slowly decline with Alzheimer’s disease in varying forms. It’s ugly. Lively conversations no longer exist; dialogue consists of staccato questions and replies repeated too many times to count. It’s exhausting for everyone. Another friend is struggling with terminal cancer; our conversations become more intimate and real with each visit. Definition of what is most important in this life... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at STRETCHMARKS
“Catastrophic loss is like undergoing an amputation of our identity.” Jerry Sittser, author of A Grace Disguised, gives more explanation of such catastrophic loss in a chapter entitled: The Amputation of the Familiar Self. Five years ago I experienced such an amputation. Forty-one years of marriage was severed when my husband died: it left me wounded and identified as widow. I wasn’t sure I would survive the amputation; sometimes I didn’t want to survive to endure the raw, phantom pain. Family gatherings and places of worship evoked unbearable sorrow. I am thankful for precious souls who didn’t abandon me as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at STRETCHMARKS
Postcards were early versions of emails, twitter feeds and texting of decades past. I recently found a 1953 cigar box full of nostalgic tweets and texts. This antique box contained dozens of postcards and letters from family and friends written long ago—before electronic messaging was available. I use social media, but it can't replace perusing these photographs and wonderful handwritten notes. A sentimental journey noting changes and progress is good for the soul! My mother’s handwriting is still remarkable, even at age 92. Her postcards, mostly written while in Grand Cayman Island, are full of wit and descriptive tales of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2014 at STRETCHMARKS
It’s Christmas and parents have been shopping for the perfect gifts for their children. What do children really want these days? Electronic gadgets of every kind, I suppose, which seem to isolate family members. Is it possible for a family to be united in comfort and joy? It depends on who you ask! Family—it’s all about family. That’s what some say. Sticking to traditions adds another. Phrases like Oh, remember the time when… or I will never forget… jumpstart the reminiscing. I am a sentimental soul who likes to get things in writing so I looked through a holiday journal... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5 (NKJV) Did you ever threaten to leave home when you were a kid? Most of us tried it at least once. We felt brave until sunset and we got hungry. Our imaginations grew when we saw shadows or heard scary sounds coming from the bushes. If only… I wonder about brave men and women who left everything familiar and embraced adventure to find a new land. Their quest for freedom from enslavement of every kind must have outweighed fears. Their resources were stretched... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
Inch by inch, breath by breath—mostly when we were unaware—the daily changes came between sunrise and sunset. Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
It’s Labor Day weekend in the USA, a holiday to celebrate the labor of millions of workers who keep our country moving. I thought about laborers as I started to bake some chocolate chip cookies for my grandchildren. I wonder…how much labor is involved in baking one batch of my favorite cookies? I started tracking cookies—not like the browser cookies on computers—but the real stuff. I assembled the ingredients: butter, egg, white & brown sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda, flour and chocolate chips. So far I have dairy farmers, egg farmers, cane sugar farmers, vanilla bean farmers, wheat farmers, cocoa... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
If I had known how hard being parents was going to be, I might have passed on the whole thing. This was part of a Mother’s Day note Joe wrote me in 2004. He said he looked for days for a suitable card but they were “just too pink” for me and didn’t say what he wanted to say. It was a tough year with lots of stretch marks. When I look at these three grown sons of a preacher man, I am amazed at their spheres of influence. They touch lives in ways their father could not. How blessed... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
“The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold.” ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh~ Anne penned these words in 1955 in Gift From The Sea, a compilation of meditations written during a seaside vacation. Wouldn’t she be astonished by the massive changes since then? In recent weeks the trending articles in media have captured our attention with reports of impending nuclear war, earthquakes, mass murders, bombings, bullying, and countless lies told by high profile personalities. It is all overwhelming. Anne continued “…Modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
My husband, Joe, believed that every house should have a front porch with a swing. In early evening he would beg, “Come sit with me in the swing, Sweetie!” We snuggled under heavy blankets in autumn and early spring and watched the glorious colors change the landscape. In summertime we sat together, drank iced tea and shared the events of the day. Summer thunderstorms sometimes caused power outages and the boys would join us to watch the lightning show and linger for lengthy conversations. Years later the grandchildren quickly learned to love porch swings--at our house or Aunt Lisa's. They... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2013 at STRETCHMARKS
“When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood.” Sam Ewing Have you noticed that many Family Trees no longer represent the Norman Rockwell paintings of family gatherings? Adoptions and inter-racial marriages have broadened and enriched the lineage of families to form strong hybrids, a factor that can add new expectations to family holiday celebrations. Traditions and cultural values can be tested and tried in preparation for the family feasts—much like testing involved in getting Grandma’s recipe just right—a pinch of this and that until it satisfies the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
Do you long to escape to the other side of the world—just because you’re certain life is better any place but where you are? You are not alone! I battle that gnawing hunger as well. I have never seen sugar maples in glorious autumn color in Vermont. Actually, I’ve never seen Vermont! Sometimes when I leave home to do some errands, I fight the urge to keep driving until I smell the ocean and hear the sound of waves lapping against the shoreline. I have a current passport that is blank after eight years; Lord willing, I hope to have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
Early in September my family gathered for our annual School Blessing and Prayers to launch the grandchildren into a successful school year. Four granddaughters returned to school as a senior, freshman and two middle school students. My grandson, Isaiah, began kindergarten and Isabella started pre-school. As I prayed for each grandchild, I wondered...will he dare to dream big dreams? Will she be confident in who God made her to be? Will my treasures bloom like colorful wildflowers? What will their futures be like? Way too much pondering... I caught a glimpse into the opposite end of the education spectrum when... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
My parents suspected early on that I had zero athletic ability. I proved them right. I prayed during recess for the Second Coming of Jesus. I avoided eye contact with team captains choosing players. Puhleeze—DO NOT pick me. I’ll keep score. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. PLEASE don’t pick me to play. I never did understand people who were traumatized because they didn’t make the team. However…I am competitive in other areas of life. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
I celebrated Christmas in July when I cleaned out my Pack Rat Storage unit. I found I am much like my father who saved lots of “stuff”. My brother and sister fall into the same category. When I told Mom I was ready to purge our shared storage unit she responded, “Just go ahead and pitch everything. None of it is good by now.” If Mom was in charge of the world there would be zero museums. My strong-armed son Ben helped me empty the unit; we asked a friend with a pickup truck to haul the last three items... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
I appreciate fathers who diligently work to provide for their families. Men are demeaned and mocked in our society through commercials, movies and television programs etc. Bravo to those who find courage to carry on! Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
I dreaded the often asked question: What’s for dinner? I didn’t like the groans or rolled eyes when I gave an unfavorable answer. Thankfully my children were never without something to eat. It doesn’t matter if dinner (or supper) consists of organic fruits and vegetables or packaged food…or whether it is served on fine china, paper plates or eaten out of hand…consumed outdoors or in a formal dining room. Shared stories, laughter and good food are staples on the menu of my favorite meals. I have great memories of “from scratch” meals served by my mother, grandmother and aunts. I... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS
My granddaughters and I visited Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio on a beautiful spring day. We admired the colorful tulips and trees in bloom and threw food to the ducks and peacocks gathered near the pond. Mycah watched the proud peacock spread his colorful plumage. "EEWWW! That creeps me out!" I asked, "Why? It's so beautiful." She explained, "It looks like hundreds of eyes looking at me!" Now that's a new perspective. In this era of social media, it seems like hundreds of eyes are looking at each of us at all times. Most of us are unaware of someone... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2012 at STRETCHMARKS