Friday, December 28, 2007

Life Goes On....

Christmas was wonderful! It was so good to be with family. My flight back from San Antonio came in just in time for me to drive up to my mom's for dinner. What a different atmosphere I sat in than what I had left behind just a few hours earlier. Ladies swapped recipes at the table, cousins sat around the karaoke machine, and children played with the four dogs that vied for attention. I simply sat in the corner and soaked it all in.

My husband surprised me with the navigator device that I had been hoping for. I was thinking I could get it after Christmas, but he surprised me with it all wrapped up in a bow. Wonderful! That will make my volunteer times so much easier.

Side note...I had a wonderful conversation with an elderly gentleman on the last part of my flight home. He too was flying from San Anantonio. He said that he was relocating to our part of the world so that he could live with his daughter and her family. Being on a fixed income was difficult and he wanted to use this time to make wonderful memories with his grandchildren. With excitement in his voice, he asked me question after question about the area...sight seeing to economy, mass transportation to housing development and fly fishing. He viewed the whole idea as a wonderful adventure. His thrill and excitement was infectious to me.

For a small moment I found myself wondering.....what will my father do when things settle down? ...............
Nah, the climate change alone would be too hard for his arthritic knees.

Well, we are off on a new excursion now. We will be spending New Years at the beach with friends. It is a new way of celebrating for me. I have always been around that family table...swapping those recipes with aunts and cousins.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Heart Journey....

Wednesday
Our flights were uneventful. LAX was super crowded and unorganized. (The most horrid thing I heard on the intercom was a ticket counter agent saying, "If you are in need of wheelchair assistance please come up to the counter.") My brother and I used our time making each other laugh. We also talked a lot about ways we could help the family in San Antonio while dealing with our own emotions at the same time.
Dad was waiting for us as we walked to the baggage claim area. We walked right up to him before he realized we were there. He had been zoning. Understandable considering he had just lost his wife of 23 years to long term cancer. He hugged us and cried.
All the way to the house, he talked as he drove.....about the final days. It was as if he had to get it out, sort it all out...for our sake and for his. Dad had never been much of a talker around me so I just let him talk...for my sake and for his.


Thursday
Family in and out. Hugs and tears. We all agree that it is good to see each other but are so sad for the circumstances.
We all became siblings as teenagers, his two to her three, when our parents married in 1985. My brother actually lived with them for a while but I only visited in the summer. We care about each other and have a few memories together, but really lead completely separate lives. Maybe it is just me, but at times I feel so alienated.
All the same, I am determined to be strength for my father.
The viewing was long....I felt at first that 4 hours would be too long. But as I watched people thru the evening I saw that they all needed that time. They needed the time to find the acceptance for closure with a woman that touched so many lives.
Over and over I saw young people embrace my father and call him "Grandpa". And as I have seen for years, my step-siblings lean on my father for support and give him all credit for being the only male figure in their lives that shaped and changed their lives for the good.
I find myself swimming in 2 thoughts simultaneously. I mourn that our relationship and that of my children looks nothing like theirs, but at the same time I feel pride in seeing how amazing and compassionately he has affected so many people.


Friday
Today was the funeral. Again and again I am told how grateful people are that my brother and I are here for our father. They tell us how happy it makes him. I find myself bracing with even more determination to be a quiet strength for my father.....to stay by his side so that in some way I can will comfort and peace into him.
It didn't work out that way though, at least not the way I had envisioned. My step-brother came over and asked my father to sit with them, her children, in the front row. That was a direction that I hadn't prepared for....not being able to be by his side. Intellectually, logically, compassionately...I knew that he had every right and reason to be there with them. He belonged there as the father figure and husband. He needed to be with the people that had walked through the whole long cancer battle with him...the people that would still be in his day to day life to pick up the pieces after I am not around.
But the little girl in me recoiled from the heart slap. I felt the rejection all over again. I wanted to cry out that it wasn't fair to be robbed of that too.
As I sat there listening to the chaplain, God was reminding me of the other times that I have been able to share with my father. HE reminded me of the amazing father figure I have in my mother's husband. Most importantly, HE reminded me that HE, My God, is my forever father that always understands the condition of my heart and never gets stretched thin in His love.
I got up and shared a memory of my father's wife. There were things I couldn't say and things I should have said but couldn't think of while standing there in front of everyone. But I did share about a conversation we had a couple of years ago that God orchestrated to assure me of her eternal peace.
After the service, my father introduced me to several people. Each time, I heard the pride in his voice and saw the gleam in his eyes that showed the devotion that he can never find the words for.
Now that the funeral is finished, tomorrow people will start the long task of rebuilding their lives. My brother and I will be looking for ways to help in the remaining two days that we have here.


Saturday
We sat around for a leisurely breakfast while talking and reminiscing. It was time for people to start heading back into their daily lives today. There was unspoken hesitation all around in not wanting to leave the safety umbrella where hearts and emotions had stopped the reality of time. From here on out, reality would create new memories, memories that don't include her. At times, that is too painful to grasp.
My father has been using today to gather up memorabilia that he has had marked for me for years...things that he just never got around to giving to me. One item is a cookbook that was created by my precious grandmother and her 3 sisters. In the inside cover, these ladies had written personal dedications to me when I was but barely a year old (December 1971). It touched me so greatly and oh how I cried.
My brother and I found various things to do around the house today that we hope will bless our father.
We spent the later evening with him eating pie, watching a movie, and joking around. It was good to just sit, with no agenda, and be ourselves.

Sunday
Again family hung around for a majority of the day today. Maybe they were around because of my brother and I, maybe they were there for my father, or maybe both. It doesn't matter the reason. It is all part of moving on.
My step-sister's dog died today. She wanted him to be buried in my father's back yard with the other loved animals. My brother graciously took on the burial task so that our father would not have the burden.
A cousin took us out to dinner this evening. She too said how wonderful it was for us to be here for our father and how things can only get better from here.
Dealing with the death of a loved one always makes people evaluate and adjust their priorities.

Monday
We will be flying out shortly for home. I find that there are so many things that have been left unsaid, but now is not the time. It was so hard to say goodbye to my father.
When will I see him again?
Does he truly understand what it took for me to make this trip in my heart?
Or is it even important for him to understand?

What matters is that I did make the trip......and I am glad that I did.
From here on out, it is all brand new.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Late At Night...

I am starting to get sleepy now. Everyone is sleeping, the laundry is finished, and I think I am all packed. Now I am sitting here with a bit more detail coming together in my mind and I feel overwhelmed at the amazing way things have transpired.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 37 years old. It is just a number to me. It is fun to have celebrations, no matter what the focus is. I just always love being able to share it all with my mom. I don't expect gifts...not that I am a perfect unselfish person....having a December birthday usually means that one's birthday gets lost in the Christmas festivities. Anyone that has a mid to late December birthday can testify that they receive birthday boxes wrapped in holiday Santa wrap or a Christmas box that is labeled "also birthday". Truly it is okay and funny. It is a great and humbling way to keep pride in tact. (giggle giggle)

Usually I can predict what is going to happen in the "surprise" catagory of my birthday. Yesterday was differnt though and so amazing. Spending the evening with my mom was too perfect already and I would have been blessedly content. However, when I came home, more was waiting for me.
Without my knowing, several people from my church had taken up a collection and blessed me with a new dishwasher. The one that came with my house had been broken and un-fixable for the past 3 years. (Now, washing dishes by hand is not a big deal. I promise I didn't complain.) Their goal was to collect enough funding to purchase and install a basic model while I was out for the evening and unaware. But oh how God worked. Such a collection was taken up that they purchased a deluxe model and still had a sizable amount of money left over. They all signed a beautiful card and placed the money inside with the statement that I could do whatever I saw fit with what was left.

I was so shocked and overwhelmed.....still am shocked and overwhelmed. I am sitting here thinking about how much I have wanted to be with my dad during this time and how perfectly God provided the means for me to get there. I know I mentioned something in the previous posting, but waves of comprehension are washing over me. The left over money was only $20 shy of a complete round trip ticket for me. It blows my mind.

A Few Seconds.....

I am just grabbing a few seconds and making a mental note here. I haven't had opportunity to sit and organize my thoughts and it will be a few more days yet before I can weave something here.

Our birthday was so wonderful last night. My mom and I were like little girls enjoying all that The Melting Pot had to offer. It was such a dinning experience. The staff went out of their way to make sure we had a birthday celebration like none other.

This morning my father called from far away and said that my step mom lost her battle to cancer. Tomorrow morning, my brother and I are flying out for a few days to grieve and try to encourage. I am so grateful to have been blessed with a huge envelope of money just last night that almost perfectly covers the emmergency cost of my plane fare. God is so amazing. I wouldn't have been able to do this otherwise.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Decisions...Decisions....

The Christmas letters are ready to be sealed. I just want to put a little card into each envelope with our contact information on it....you know snail mail, current email, the phones.......
I am wrestling with putting this blog in that list as well.

Should it be such a big deal? I don't know. I have decided and undecided 20 times already. You must be wondering why it should even be a questionable thing. A blog is a easy way to keep everyone in the loop with daily happenings. Just a year ago, I thought blogging was a strange new fad and waste of valuable time for 21st century people. That was my opinion at least until my long time friend encouraged me to look bigger and not stifle the creativity. It certainly is fun to comment and visit. I am meeting people I never would have met otherwise and it is really great. I do love to check out how my blogger friends are doing and see what new things they have been inspired to create. I look forward to evenings when I can sit down and be creative myself. So why should I hesitate at throwing my blogger address out there to everyone when it already is available to the entire world?

I think it all has to do with the way I write. I started this site to give myself a small place to be me. Not that I am not me in every other place, mind you. It is simply a place where I can give myself the freedom to write for myself, to be creative and air out my thoughts....whatever they may be. I don't bash or degrade. I just breathe.

There are only a handful of people in my daily life that I have told about this place. Why? Because I have learned that for good and bad....I tend to be a people pleaser. I knew that if everyone knew, I would pressure myself to write with my "Childrens Pastor Hat" on or my "Teacher Hat", my "Mom Hat" or "Wife Hat" on....and so forth........
I felt that the pressure I put on myself would cramp my desire to write.

I know some people would visit and have fun with it while others would use it to degrade and pester. Do those opinions matter so much? No they don't. I am still me with or without those comments. (Funny how there has been discussion here about the idea of sharing comments and opinions.) Comments and opinions are encouraging, eye opening, and broadening. That isn't why I hold back now. I think I hold back because I am finding a small part of me and I don't want me (that pleaser me) to stifle me.

What to do? What to do?....................

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Can't Take It With You...

As I sat wrapping presents tonight, my mind was wandering to different areas of thought.

One thought was about the wonderful blessing we received in the mail yesterday....our end of year state "kicker" check. (for some reason I always find it really odd when the government gives money back) I had completely forgotten about this little perk. We already had the extra expenses of Christmas planned out and covered, so this blessing doesn't even have that "already accounted for" mark on it yet.

The other major thought riding tandem with this was about my dear friend that was robbed last week. She is a young and beautiful single mom succeeding at raising her daughter alone in a world of hardships. They were both safe and not around when the robbery happened. Many things were taken, including most of the presents under the tree. After the initial shock wore off, she stated over and over again, "It just doesn't matter. It is simply STUFF."

She is right you know. There I sat tonight trying to balance the scales in my mind. I am so happy that we are getting to a place where we can have the freedom to bless others with gifts. And yet, it is just stuff. I have to keep in the foremsot of my mind what my motive is. It is wonderful to bless and provide. But I must be so very careful to not fall prey to that "self" motivator that would want to label myself with pats on the back.

I don't know if I am explaining myself adequately or clear enough. It is just what is going on inside my head.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tit-For-Tat.....

Today Rosie was working on her Japanese word usage and decided to make her own flashcards with pictures. She snapped her camera with a few pictures of the fridge, milk jug, fish bowl, bed, and so on. Then she said, "Hey Pip, I need a picture that stands for "elder sister". Would you stand up, put your hands on your hips, and glare at me so I can take your picture?"

Train Tracks Are Gone....

Yesterday, my Rosie-girl had her braces removed. It has been almost 3 years since we started this song and dance waltz......
and 1 and 2 and brush again
and 1 and 2 and six week tightening
and 1 and 2 and nothing to eat that is sticky, gummy, or hard
and 1 and 2 and sore jaws
and 1 and 2 and rubberbands pop
and 1 and 2 and.....anyone who has had braces can fill in the blanks with all kinds of bothers.

Well they are now gone and she is so excited! She is blinding everyone with her smile.

Now Pippin will have to find a different way to lovingly torture her sister. She can't play the name calling game anymore. Names like.... train track face, metal mouth, brace face, reflecto head, radio head...or say things like, "Come over here so I can practice throwing my magnet darts." or "I need to hot-wire the radio, give me a smile would you?"

Yes, Rosie is super-uber pleased.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It Is That Time Of Year....

As I have said before in times past, this can be a pretty stressful time for me. As glorious as this season is, people can sure get ruffled the wrong way if they are not careful. I really am having fun though. As we wrap up these next couple of weeks of school, I have cool things in the works that will change things up.

Hmmm....."Change it up"...... That line always brings to my mind a scene from D2 Mighty Ducks where the teacher, Michele MacKay, is filling in as coach. She says to the team, "We look tired. We need to rearrange people."
A team player says, "Say Change it Up....no, yell it."
Michele yells, "Change It Up!", like nobody's business and everything and everyone miraculously falls into place with relief.

Falling into place.....along with school, working up the next batch of Sunday school lessons, and my other regular stuff; I am crafting gifts for a long list of treasured people. It is too much fun.

One of the best things though that I really get a kick out of before Christmas morning is planning a birthday....two birthdays as a matter of fact. Seven days before Christmas is a very special time for me because it is my mom's birthday.......and mine. Mother and daughter on the same day. No, it wasn't planned. It just happened that way. And if that wasn't cool enough, her father, my grandfather, also shared that exact same date of birth. When I was little, I remember we would always have a giant chocolate sheet cake with a fish for Grandpa, a rose for my mom, and a ballerina for me. As a child, I always thought I was cursed with a mom that had special ESP. I just knew she could read my mind and find things out BECAUSE we had the same birthday. Of course, now that I am the mom, I know the smarts comes from the fact that I can say, "Honey I been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt before it was even a nano thought in your mind."

So, I am planning our birthday date. Now that my husband is retired from active duty and we live back in our home stomping grounds, Mom and I spend the day together doing whatever we want. We eat and shop and giggle the day away. Every year, I have fun planning some new surprise for my mom that will beam a shinning example of how special she is to me. This year is no exception. I have special reservations made and everything. I am so excited. She is going to flip. I called that place over on......

Well now, I can't say, because that would ruin the surprise. Mom stops by this blog every now and again to visit. So, I will just have to keep it a secret.
Right about now, as she is reading this, she is mumbling something about me being a little (@#*) and then giggling about the apple not falling far from the tree.
See, along with our special day and my special planning, her special job is to try and trick me into divulging precious information that would give the secret away.

I'll just have to tell you about it AFTER it happens.

I love you Mom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laugh And The World Laughs With You.....

I have to laugh at myself. You know, it is mentally healthy to be able to laugh at one's self. I do it often. But why now? The answer to that question would be because of the see-saw thought process going on in my head like kids on the playground structure that won't stop.

See, I created a project/program/field (whatever you want to call it) a while back. Anyone who knows me, can vouch for the fact that I get my hands wrapped up in all kinds of stuff....even when it is not my responsibility. This was one of those times. I saw a situation and saw that it needed to be taken care of....so I created. I made guidelines and recruited. I shaped and researched. Then I delegated the whole basket to someone else as God was talking to me about those boundaries that get so fuzzy for me.

Recently though, I noticed that those guidelines and expectations I created (said in a scoffing tone directed at myself) have gotten a little askew. I find myself wondering if I should do anything about it. (Now wait a minute.....give me a break and let me finish explaining before you roll on the floor in laughter and point your finger in mock at the cyber image of me on your screen.)

I am torn because on the one hand, those guidelines were created with a huge purpose in peoples' safety. On the other hand, if the current head person wants to change things, that is their right and prerogative. But what if they either didn't realize the purpose of that guideline or aren't aware that all are not following it? Isn't that what administrator heads and friends do?.....help each other out? What is at the root of my motive?.....helpfulness or control? Ack! Not that word! I work so hard to run and hide in denial of that word!
Is it wrong to say anything or not say anything? If it doesn't get fixed, is it really a big deal? And if it is a big deal...to who or whom is it a big deal?.....the program or me.

See, I laugh and I drive myself crazy.......
Admitting it is at least a step.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Scrooge Here....

I have a sparkle in my eye and the beginnings of a song in my heart. I am so grateful.

Last year, Christmas found me in not a happy place. I was so stretched and allowed myself to get completely over worked and drained. This caused me to want to hide in the back corner of the closet and never come out again. I didn't send out cards to anyone. Harsh to say, but I didn't even care at that point if anyone would be offended. I baked only what was required and did a few gifts out of self guilt...knowing that if I didn't, I would hate myself later. The girls and my husband decorated the house. The only thing I participated in was picking out the tree, and though there was a factor of it being a family tradition, I must admit that it had a lot to do with control as well.

It is not that I wasn't honored to live in a place where I have the freedom to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is not even that I didn't want to bless people any longer. I was just so terribly tired.

This year is proving to be different. I have already started the shopping (Some would be shocked that I say starting but in my home and limited budget...that is simply the way it is for now.) I have almost perfected the Christmas letter and photo collage that will be sent out to everyone. We are talking about getting our tree in a few days and it doesn't make me shudder in horror. I began making gifts over the weekend in between TIP calls and didn't feel stress or pressure. I started playing Christmas music yesterday and even sat down to watch my most favorite Christmas movie of all time.

Here is a clip from the best part.....




(I know, that part has nothing to do with Christmas. It is just so romantic!)

So, I am asking myself, "Why the change this year?" I certainly don't sit around eating bonbons on the couch while the world spins by. School and administration still consumes my life. I guess over the last few months I have been learning fresh, what apparently is God's life long learning lesson for me, that I matter. My opinions, wants, and desires are valid and shouldn't be shoved aside and buried. That is what I attribute the change to. Though it is certainly not a new thought, it is amazing how thought perspectives can change the good fortune around us. It is taking months to whittle away at the protective wall I put around myself to survive, but there are cracks in the mortar now.

I feel a glimmer of my old self returning....remembering and taking joy in the fact that it is not about the 10 parties, the shopping list, the baking and crafting. It is about the memory making. All the other stuff is just icing.

Hmmm...now I hear Tiny Tim Cratchit smiling at Ole Mr. Scrooge and declaring in his sweet little voice, "God bless us everyone!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Dennis the Menace Christmas...

Pardon me here while I tote my proud auntie hat for a minute. The following video is of my husband's nephew in his breaking movie role. Maxwell Perry Cotton plays none other than little Dennis himself. I haven't seen the whole movie yet but I am sure it will be true to his cute real life self and a great addition to the family viedo collection.

Monday, November 19, 2007

He Is What He Is....

I've written brief segments about him before. Younger than me by 4 1/2 years, he has always been a light in my life. He has a positive outlook on things and always seeks to do right by people. Being the eternal optomist, people are basically good in his eyes at all times. It is a refreshing and encouraging attitude to be around.

As kids, I of course lorded over him with authority like every older sibling is prone to do. Still, he was always right there beside me, sometimes to encourage and sometimes to torture as only a little brother can do. On the whole though, I'd say we grew up close to each other. Sure there was the occasional, "geez would you shut up already!" but never the wordy violent dialog that Hollywood tends to portray in siblings.

Even as my little brother, he was my valiant protector. As young as 10 years old, it was normal to find his short, pudgy, frekle faced self scanning over my new boyfriends and pulling them aside to let them know he would break their kneecaps if they hurt me.

When I turned 18 and got married, he was the "DJ with the Most-est". For me he took off his giant golden chain with self made initals (didn't every boy on the 80s want to be a rapper?). He combed back his hair and even donned a tie for the occasion.
After that, we didn't see much of each other. The military sent me away to the far corners of the globe as the dotting and supportive wife while he plowed through all those rough teen years....junior high and high school and even gaining a good 12 inches in height before I next saw him. Adulthood found him in the military globe-trotting around and then settling down in Florida for a bit to figure out who he wanted to be (ah the age old question of all people).

About 4 or 5 years ago (gosh I can't remember) he and his blushing new bride moved up to our area from Florida. How excited we were to have them close by. It was new territory for he and I. We had all kinds of childhood memories to fall back on and were totally devoted to each other, but relating as adults in an everyday world was new ground.
Because of life, schedules, and responsibilities, we haven't been able to spend the amount of time together that we would love to do, but we are able to see each other at least once a month. Our visits always include sitting around Mom's table and laughing over the pun of the hour, or our own versions of name that tune, or discussing the latest movie in revue form as if Siskel and Ebert sought out our opinion.
During these times, I can always depend on certain things happening. Now that he towers over me, he always sweeps me off my feet with the huge bear hug that only his strong and protective arms can do and makes the rest of the world stop in time. He always keeps his eye out on every one in the packed house to make sure they all feel aknowledged and special. And he always eats up being The Uncle for my girls, becoming their personal cheerleader in their life adventures.

Last night, he and his wonderful wife blessed Rosie with her birthday present....accessories for her drum set. They made sure it was all in proper working order for her. Cords and adapters can make my head spin, but it was all a breeze for him. One quick discussion between my brother and my husband and it was all working to the desired goal. (Now she can play music from her mp3 player, and hear the drums and music in her headset. She can also record and use her stereo as an amplifier.)

I teared up watching him "work" last night.
We've come a long way. I don't have anything eloquent to say...no poetry or verse to explain what I am feeling.
I am just so grateful to have my brother.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Book By Its Cover....

Do you ever happen to notice my book list? I read more than some but less than others and thought that the some might find my Page Turners section mildly interesting.
If you didn't notice, that is okay.
If you did notice, you may be wondering about the newest one titled Captivating. There is an interesting story for me behind that book....and as usual.....a humbling piece of pie.

My dear, sweet, musical friend came to me a few weeks ago and said, "I am reading a book right now that you have GOT to read. It is totally changing my outlook on life. I wish I would have read this book when I was first married. As a matter of fact, I am going to get you the book and I won't take no for an answer. You must read it."

Emmediately the warning bells went off in my head. 'Ugh!' I thought. 'Another book that will condemn me and tell me about all of the things I am doing wrong as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Give me a break. I am happy that YOU like it but I don't have time to beat myself up anymore than I already do. Maybe she will just forget about it as time goes on.'
Yeah my red hair was flaring some internal attitude. Shame on me.
Friend, if you read this, again I am sorry.
Sunday she came up to me with a big smile and plopping book bag
in my hands said, "Here you go. Just read it and you will
understand."
Again shame on me for I mumbled attitude......apologized for
being an ungrateful jerk 10 minutes later......and then
brought the book home.

I let it stare at me all through the evening. Then the voice in my head rang out with reason. Quietly it said, 'You can't judge the book unless you at least open it. Afterall you DO trust your friends right?'

So here I am to say, I am just two chapters into it now and I really do like it. It is not a book that conveys the 10 steps of a happy marriage or how to measure up to the infamous Proverbs 31 woman. It is a no-condemnation book that speaks to the heart of women...what we think and feel...without the psychiatric couch feeling. I actually found myself at a 6th grade basketball game today wishing I could inconspicuously read more of it without hurting our young friend's feeling at her first game. I even scanned out the first chapter and emailed it to another friend.

What will I find as I go deeper into it? I don't know. For now, I am excited with what I am reading.....
and proud of myself for not judging a book by its cover.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Always For The Children....

This past Sunday was a new experience for me....a freedom which I had forgotten. Let me see if I can explain without tripping all over myself with well intentioned thoughts......

For the past 18 years, I have volunteered my time in varying degrees of childrens ministry. I've done everything a volunteer can do in the different classes that cater to children from birth to 12 years old. I've done story telling to craft preparation, diaper changing to salvation leading, parent counseling to playdough making. I could go on for pages, but I won't bore with a long list. Just know that I have learned over the years to become pretty versitile. As we branched off from our home church in September of 2001 to start a new church south of the metro area, I had stepped away from being a department administrator over the kindergarten classroom (it was a really big church). With no direction in mind but the adventure that lay ahead, I eagerly sought out what God would have me to do next. That question was soon answered with this thought....we needed a childrens ministry department in our new church. With a gleam in their eyes and complete support, PJ and Co. gave me full reign to create...inspire....minister...and bless.

To be the "buck stops here" person has been such a learning experience for me. Over the past six years I have trained some 60 teachers in varying degrees of function. The first 4 years, my office was in my dinning room. There were shelves and cabinets of supplies, props, and resources everywhere we turned. Sometimes help was scarce and sometimes eager hands were falling everywhere to lift me up and offer encouragement. After all of this time, I think I am finally starting to learn a glimmer of what it means to delegate responsibility. No, I don't have it all figured out, but I am learning. It's by me letting go and giving the freedom to someone else to be responsible that they can step into their giftings, talents, and callings.

A while back, I sat down with PJ and Co. and expressed confusion and fatigue on my behalf. I had been running around trying to be all things by filling in gaps. My thoughts were things like, "How could I know what a classroom needs if I am never in there to see?" or "How could I expect other to teach with eagerness and joy if I don't do it myself?" and "As a leader I should be leading by example, working just as hard as those around me." I was wearing myself out teaching and overseeing 4 classrooms all at the same time.
Wisely, PJ and Co. said, "Sweets you have to take care of yourself. You must duplicate yourself out of a job. We don't want you to burn out. No wonder you are so tired. You can't inspire and seek future ideas if you are running around in circles. We want you to be around for a long time so let's develop a new game plan for you."
You know, in retrospect, I might have even given that same advice to someone else if I were sitting on the cousel side of things. Why are the simplest things always the hardest for me to see?

So, I now have a wonderful person that makes sure the teachers have all of the special supplies they want each week and I am training the last set of teachers to replace me on the classroom schedules. There is a person that makes the reminder phone calls for me, one that brings snacks every week for the kids, and another that sets up the prize tables. That brings me to my beginning statement.....This past Sunday was a new experience for me....a freedom which I had forgotten. I now have a wonderful woman that has come along side me to alternate administration on Sundays so that I can sit in the service. This past Sunday I did just that for the first time in years. I parked in the front of the building (no supplies to unload), walked straight into the sanctuary (no classes to check on), and participated without counting childrens heads or watching the clock for the classroom release time.

It was new and freeing for me.....not that I regret or grudgingly do anything that I do. Simply, I am grateful for the help around me for many hands DO make light work.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just Because....

Last night I wrestled for hours over the idea of simply jumping out the bedroom window into the backyard and laying on the trampoline in the rain.......

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Murphy's Law and Faith...

I had just said to my mom a couple of nights ago, "My car is running great. We drove up and back from Orcas Island with no problems."
What is it about making a statement like that that causes the Murphy's Law gremlins to wreak havoc on the playground of my life?

That same night all I did was put my grocery list in my pocket,
stick the key in the ignition, and prepare for that familiar sound
of the engine turning over in smooth and systematic form.

Instead I heard...tink...clink...clang.... the sound of a single
metal piece falling and hitting other metal objects. I looked under the car and found this part laying on the ground (labeled B in the diagram).
I've had parts malfunction before on my car, spark plugs getting clogged, filters needing to be replaced, and hoses cracking. But I've never had a part literally fall out of the engine before.
Instantly I felt a combination of:
a) you've got to be kidding me, where is the Candid Camera
b) I'd better cancel the meetings and reschedule the birthday party
c) how much is this going to cost
d) can he fix it and will he be angry
e) "Pippin" better spend the night at "Harper's" place so she can get to school in the morning
f) seriously where is the camera cause this is funny
g) guess we will eat pbj sandwiches for dinner tonight
Then my mind wrapped it all up with: no matter what, God will take care of it like He does everything else.

Yes my husband grumbled and moaned when I called and told him. He had every right to for he had the same thoughts running through his head as those that were making circles in mine. Using my brilliant years of high school drama training, I had described in adequate fashion the sounds I heard. It led him to declare that the tensioner that holds the fan belt had fallen off my car engine.
Amazingly though, and complete credit to God for all that happened next.
the part:
1) didn't need to be torqued off with a super wrench...it was already on the ground
2) wasn't a dealer part so it didn't cost beaucoup money
3) the auto store had it in stock and was still open
4) ended up being a quicker fix that changing the oil in the car

What I thought was going to be a week long project only lasted a single evening.
God is so good!
It is no shock....in the battle of Faith vs. Murphy's Law...Faith wins again.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ice Show Tickets...

In the best New York accent I can muster, I say, "So, I know this guy....."
...
.....
........
There I was, ten minutes until it was time to leave for French class, when I got a phone call from this friend. He said, "Hey whatcha doing? 'Cause I wanna give you guys free tickets to the ice show at the Rose Garden tonight."

Back when my husband was a pencil pusher in the office, we had opportunity on several occasions to use the company suite to watch events. We have seen a handful of basketball games, a rodeo, a few concerts, and my favorite gory sport...ice hockey. But I cannot recall ever seeing an ice show. So what did I do? I encouraged my daughter to skip class with me and then loaded my family in the car.

Here is a secret.....I LOVE ice skating. I think it is the most beautiful and graceful type of dance a person can do. Even when it is shown on t.v., I sit mesmerized as I watch competitions of amateurs and experienced alike. Can I ice skate? Nope...I've never even stepped foot on an ice rink with those skinny blades strapped to my feet. I have heard it said that it is quite like roller skating, which I did frequently in junior high and the first year of high school. But, no....never on ice, never with blades.

So, there we sat, surrounded by hundreds of little girls and boys dressed up as Disney princesses and super heroes as we watched 2 hours of talent unfold in front of us. They did acrobatic feats and antics, drama and comedy, old tunes and new tunes. The whole time, I had a big Cheshire grin on my face and tears threatened to overflow onto my cheeks....despite my attempts to hide them. I cried at people sliding around on the ice in gigantic Disney character costumes because I thought it was beautiful! Dopey made me giggle with his silly ways. Sebastian took me instantly to the warm ocean waters and breezes as he sang my favorite, "Kiss The Girl". The romance of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White brought back memories of my mom and I watching these cartoons in my childhood.
Ahhh.....

It has been a long time since I have enjoyed myself like that.
I am so grateful for the evening and for our friend who took the time to share.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?...

We all know that as the elderly discuss times gone by, they comment at how quickly it all goes. I remember that my Grandmother Davis would occassionally do that as she told us the amazing stories of her life. At 36 years of age, I can feel on any given day that time is whirling past me at an alarming rate and I can lose track of it all together if I am not careful.

But do I really need media and propaganda to encourage that mental process?
My radio station is now playing continuous Christmas music!

It is still October 31st right?

Rosie-girl...

I heard this morning that today is National Knock-Knock-Joke Day. It also happens to be Halloween. Hmmm knock-knock jokes have never been quite my style. I am more of the pun in cheek type of gal. And while getting gobs of candy in my orange plastic bucket was a climactic event to look forward to as a kid, celebrating celtic emotionally unstable goddesses doesn't appeal to the adult days I live in.

Instead, I have something more important to celebrate. Today is my "Rosie's" 14th birthday. As I sit here this morning eating a warm cinnamon roll (a Rosie birthday tradition) and she is sleeping in (another tradition), I find myself thinking back to her entering our lives. Every parent does it. Every mom looks back to those precious babyhood times and thinks of the growing and nuturing that has taken place; the cute smiles, knowing glaces, and times shared. Dads too reel back and forth between memories of that tiny 8 pound creation fitting in the crook of his arm and seeing all too soon into the future of her dating, boys and men giving her a look over (and he knows exactly what they are thinking as he contemplates going to jail to protect her safety).

My Rosie....she has always been a blessing. From the moment she was created, we knew she was strong and had purpose. The small tropical island we lived on at the time made for many issues during my pregnancy. Storm watches, typhoons, and atmospheric pressure created a need for lots of doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and belly shaking to make sure she was alive and thriving. Once she was born, we learned quickly her character style that would make an impression on everyone around her. She adored her older siblings and followed them everywhere, but at the same time wanted to make sure she could prove herself and do things her own way. From the beginning we could see that her mind thought literally, systematically, creatively, and with compassion for all things.

Now at 14 years old, her paintings line our walls. She has learned to generate a cash flow for herself by selling her prints. Her self inspired music vibrates through our home as she creates new beats on her drum and sound combinations on the electric piano. Her clothing even reflects her individual style as she puts outfits together that totally work for her and no one else. At 14 years old, she and I are experiencing that new growth in our relationship that happens as children mature. We are able to discuss things spiritual, political, and personal that happen around us and I find is incredibly exciting.

She looks at the world with excitement and eyes of adventure. As we were shopping last night for birthday outfits she said, "Tomorrow is going to be so cool Mom. With the youth group costume party and everything else...it is like the whole world is celebrating my birthday!"

Though I see her giftings, talents, and abilities are starting to really poke through, I don't know where she will be yet in the next 6 years. I do know though....with motherly pride completely in front of me.....she will put 100% into whatever she does. She will seek God's purpose in her life and will bless everyone around her.

I thank God for the joy and experience of being her Mom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Orcas Island...

I have said it so many times over the last few years and I will probably say it a million more times in my life... I LOVE having a membership in WorldMark Windham! We would never go on vacations, or even go to cool places without it.
This last weekend was no exception.

Thursday morning, my husband and I loaded up our bags and headed to Orcas Island to celebrate our 18th anniversary. As the ferry pulled away from Anacortez, we watched the water roll out from under us as it carried us away from the hussle and bustle of every day life.



We were amazed at the simple beauty as we drove to our resort getaway. The resort itself was quaint and perfect for us. The individual cottages were set on a hillside so we could each get an eye opening view of the marina. To make it even more amazing, each private deck was all set up with a hot tub! Here is the view I got to see every day and night as I let jet bubbles work out tired muscles.



As we explored the island locale, we ended up at a little wine tasting shop. I never thought to ask this gentleman his name, but he sure made it a fun and enlightening experience for us. Neither my husband nor myself are very versed in the delicate art of wine making and tasting. This man was a wealth of knowledge and easy going comedy as we sampled whites and reds, spiced and sweets, sparkling wines and thick ports.





No mater where we turned, there was an amazing view to take in. Here on the left is a view from Vern's Bayside in Eastsound where we ate a couple of times. (Look carefully & you can see the reflection of the ketchup bottle in the lower left corner.) Of course, with my meal including a hand-dipped, old-fashioned, super-thick chocolate milk shake, which view is better?



Though Orcas Island is small in size, there is plenty to do for the nature lover in everyone. We hiked around a handful of waterfalls that simply took my breath away. I love waterfalls and make it a point to visit the ones in our local area. However, I can't ever get as close to them as I did here. This specific one is called Rustic Falls and is located just south of Mt. Constitution.






One of the highlights in our sightseeing adventure was hiking to the top of Mt. Constitution. At just a little over 2,000 feet, it is not the giant type of mountains that we are used to, but the rewards were well worth it. This tower is the old lookout point that was built during the depresssion era.







From our vantage point, we could see the Canadian Cascade Range...









and view the other islands in the Sound. I just couldn't get enough of it.





It was so hard to load up in the car to leave this beautiful place. As our ferry pulled away to bring us back to reality, we vowed that this little out of the way place has to be a "must return" for us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Directions Are Challenging.....

He sat directly behind me as I drove him home tonight.

"Yeah just go straight through here," he said. "Now turn that way."

"Which way is that way," I asked. "do you mean left?"

"Oh yeah, I do mean left. I am just so bad with all that numbers stuff."

I thought my girls were going to bust a gut as they laughed at the cute mis-use of his wordage.

Pippin exclaimed, "Oh that is so rich and classic! mom you have got to write about this one!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Work-itis...

Tonight, my brother declared, "I think I should call in sick tomorrow at work. I'll tell them that I am temporarily blind and can't see myself going into work for the day."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rain.....

It is Saturday evening and it already feels like a LONG weekend....

By spiritual and original design, man was first created to be in a flawless image. But, temptations came and free will brought about a change to imperfection. That imperfection caused a need for us all to learn (and keep on learning) about unconditional love in relationships. Throughout the pages of history, many have tried to model that unconditional love but only one man succeeded in providing a real and true example.

That is the dilemma I find myself in right now. Relationships can be so very hard and complicated. I believe we all truly desire to exhibit forgiveness and grace, but then that 'centered on self nature' battles away.

I find myself wondering this weekend, why I allow myself in these kinds of relationships? Why do I find myself in places where I must summon up the strength to speak up for myself or to leave all in battered misjudgement? Is it a driving force of acceptance that brings it all around me?
Or is it that I am the one being conditional and need to beg forgiveness?....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Somebody Stop The Puns.....

Last night at a meeting, we were discussing the big upcoming event....a harvest party for the youth group.

He said: Hey, let's do a "bob for ears of corn" area instead of "bob for apples".

I said: Cool! But let's make it like plastic ears instead of ears of corn."

He looked at me with a combination of smile and perplexity until I dropped the punchline.....

Me: That way we can make sure it is a really corny game.

okay let the groans roll.................

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Gears Are Turning...

I have had two major things doing circular cycles (hmmm that is redundant) in my head today. Sometimes old truths can be learned fresh and applied in our lives. Today has been one of those days. Here are 2 truths that I learned fresh on this day.

1) I spoke with a friend this evening that I hadn't had the pleasure of connecting with in a few months. Through our "catching up and re-connecting", I found that his life and the lives of those around him had not been going in the direction I had pictured all this time. The things I had learned were shocking and eye opening and grieved me that I had been so disconnected.
Truth: assumptions almost always mis-guide my perceptions.

2) Yesterday at a monthly leadership meeting, we discussed the guidelines for being an effective team. One point that was highlighted was the importance of being led by joy. We have all heard that we choose our emotions. We choose to be joyful or bitter. No one points a gun to our head and says, "You MUST be joyful/angry now!" It has been a rule that I have tried to live by for so long.....move on from a situation and don't dwell on it. Girl, choose to not let it rule you and be joyful in the moment.

The funny thing is that over time, some people have "counseled" me and said I am not being truthful to myself when I do that. Instead I must embrace hurt and pain for what it is and live in it for a bit. That has always felt uncomfortable to me...like a bad shoe. Why stop time and wallow in ick?

Instead of walking through that thought though, silly me, I would over-analyze myself. Am I fake? Why do I want to be happy? Am I not emotionally stable because I rob myself of holding onto junk? (I know, it is insane the conversations I get into in my head)
Truth: Don't let other people set my joy thermostat.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chose Not To Be Alone.....



* please note that you might have to refresh this page a time or two to get the video to load completely. Don't be frustrated though. It is well worth the extra few seconds.

I have watched this video 6 times now and I still can't get over how it grips my heart.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What Feelings They Are....

This is a picture of Jonathan Michael.
He is the new baby boy of our 19 year old foster son. He is so beautiful and at 6 days old, he already has the exact expressions of his father.

I was able to hold him, Jonathan, for a couple of hours on Sunday. I saw, felt, and thought so many things while I sat there staring into his sweet sleeping face.

My feelings are all over the place. We had opportunity to be in the young father's life for a time....and yet not be a lifetime parent. We had a window to speak wisdom and destiny into being but not a lifetime of cousel and relationship.

What is in store for this innocent little child? God knows and for that I am grateful.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another Point for the Winning Team....

It has been quite an interesting weekend to say the least. I could itemize all of the trauma and drama of the weekend, but that would be boring for anyone who happens to stumble across this blog. Not knowing the people makes the stories have only minimal meaning. I could write all the suspence and tension down for my own well being. After all, I started this blog to make it a place to collect my own thoughts and not be swayed by trying to please anyone else.

But no. Why make it a point to remember all of the junk? Instead, let's go for a "dance in the rain" (as my blog caption suggests) and look at the outcomes of catastrophes.

* My step-daughter and her serious boyfriend came down for the weekend to visit. Being a step-mom has always been emotionally hard for me....hard to explain...hard to do. I do it all with a smile and the best of intentions and heart, but inside I am a wreck. Why? I could spend hours trying to analyze why I am such a way, but I wouldn't solve anything. After all, I have been trying to figure that book out for 18 years now. It seems though that these last several visits have been getting easier and easier on me. We are communicating and making progress. Progress that is breaking through my tension and barriers. They just spent the last two hours looking at homes to buy down the road from us so that they could move here next spring.

* My "Rosie-girl" has recently set her heart on wanting to learn to play the drums. Doing all of the research has been hard...figuring out what is good, what is cost effective, how much debt it will set us back....ugh. However, this weekend a friend said, "hey, I heard about your dilema and want to help. I have one of these taking up space in my garage and it is bugging me. How about if you store it for me at your place for as long as you want so I don't have to rent a storage facility?" (okay, I really don't think it is that specific model....but you get the idea)

*Lately I have had a desire to get a new bed.....a top quality bed that would help me with back issues and sleeping issues. Again....dollar signs float through my head. I didn't even dare bring it up to my husband for fear of the cost. Just a few days ago, I received contact from a friend who said, "Hey I have one of these that is two years old and I want to give it to you." After it was all set up in our room last night, I had the best sleep I can recall in quite a long time......several months ago at least.

*And most importantly of all.....the vehicle that my step-daughter and her boyfriend drove down here in....was totaled yesterday along with the other car involved. By miracle only....everyone walked away completely unharmed.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Song By Any Other Name......

Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head. For example, having pina coladas in the rain was all I could think about for a good week after reading this post.

I am never good at remembering titles or even all of the words to a song. But boy I can do well at keeping one or two lines of a chorus circling through my head for days at a time. Other people I know do very well at recalling songs. My pina colada friend seems to always end his posts with some whitty song passage or verse of poetry. How does he do it?
My brother was a dj for quite a number of years at Skybar in Destin, Florida. He is fantastic at playing Name That Tune. He is versed in every genre known...and knows them well. I am envious.

Me, I am plagued with having a small snippet go through my mind for days on end...usually with the words botched up. Currently, can you guess what is in my head after reading this post?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Alisa and Asami.....


Last spring when we decided to be a short term host home for Japanese students that would be visiting Pippin's school, we didn't know what the experience would be like. Though our home is small, we asked for 2 girls to be placed with us in hopes that having someone familiar in our home would help them to adjust.
....
We prepared as best as we could....cleaned the house, pumped up the air mattresses, stocked the kitchen with extra food, and tried to brush up on the little Japanese that we know. Still, questions nagged at me. Would we provide a good experience for them? Would the food I make be pleasing to them? Would they like us? Would I be able to comfort them when they miss home and family? Would we bridge the barrier of being acquaintances and become friends?
....
Finally the day came when we would meet "our girls". We prepared welcome signs (Rosie wrote "youkoso" in Hiragana which means "Welcome! Nice to see you."), and we bought balloons and tied them to little stuffed animals. With gifts in hand, we walked into the school ready for a new adventure. As soon as I met Alisa and Asami, I knew I had worried for nothing. As they introduced themselves to us with english phrases that they had been practicing all day, I realized that they must have been having much of the same worries that I had.
....
Now a week has gone by and I must take them to the airport tomorrow. As I look back over this week, I find that it has been quite an educational experience. We had a great time introducing our girls to life in America. We visited the horses at the barn and played games around the dining room table. We explored the different falls along the old highway and crafted memory bracelets at my mom's house. We walked every inch of the mall, ate at the local pizza buffet, and ventured through the wonders of the supermarket. We even learned to joke with each other as we tried to wrap our brains around the language barrier and trip over words.
....
Even more than all of the fun experiences I just mentioned, it has been a heart experience for us all. Both Alisa and Asami have been so courageous to go on this adventure across the ocean and we feel honored to have played a part in their memories. After only a week, I feel such a loss that they are leaving. Their smiles, sincerity, and compassion have blessed me. Yesterday I finally asked them if it would be okay for me to hug them. Alisa and Asami both blessed my heart with claps and big smiles as they jumped on each side of me in a sandwich hug full of giggles.
....
Tonight, we had a farewell dinner at the school and the 27 students all shared with their host families some Japanese culture. We were able to look at childrens books, play games, we learned to write some hiragana and katakana, and did origami. The students closed the evening by singing to us a song in Japanese. Yes, I cried. I couldn't help feeling a bit like a proud mom as I stood up and took pictures.
....
As they head back to Japan, their families, and their futures, I pray that in some way, this trip will always bring smiles to their faces as they look back on it all. I know it will always hold a spot in my heart for me.

What's In a Name.....

I heard on the radio this morning that today is "Name Your Car Day". Hmmm..... it doesn't sound like nearly as much fun as taking down notes .

At one point in our lives, we owned a huge red suburban that the kids called Big Red. My husband used to own a red firebird that he would affectionately call KIT as he talked into the imaginary watch on his arm.

I know a family that named their minivan the Slipstream in honor of this tv sci-fi show. And if you look around here, you will find this friend of mine refers to his family minivan as the TeamGo van.

My current car has no name. Actually, the car manufacturing company named it a Ford Explorer, but we haven't given it a welcome to the family name of any kind. Should I name it? Would it perform better because of a sense of belonging?

Have you named your mode of transportation?

Monday, October 1, 2007

I Haven't Found It Yet....



Nope, I haven't found my brain yet.

This morning I went to make my cup of Tazo Refresh tea. I opened my tea bag and placed it in my cup. Then I opened my single pink sugar packet......poured the sugar in the trash and placed the pink wrapper in my cup.


I hope this isn't an indication of what is to come today......



Friday, September 28, 2007

Where Is My Brain....

This morning I had stopped at the grocery store to pick up more bread and milk. As I walked out in the parking lot with my two bags of groceries and came close to the car, I hit the unlock button on the key chain remote. I heard the "beep-beep" sound that had become familiar to my ears and went to grab the handle on the back door. It was still locked. "Hmmm....that is odd" I thought. "It must be time to replace the battery."

I hit the buttons again, this time locking first and then unlocking. My reasoning was that at closer range the system would be able to cycle through and perform to the complete function it was designed for. I noticed that the familiar "beep-beep" sound seemed far away. "Strange..."

I grabbed the handle again. It still didn't work. Because my mind tracks ahead 100 miles an hour forward in time to a million hypothetical things, I began thinking about all of the situations that could happen if I could not actually get in the car and drive home.
-the milk would spoil
-my math students would be waiting for me
-"Pippin" would get no lunch today since it was in my hand
-I would be stuck in the rain
-who would pick the kids up from school
-now I can't work at the office this afternoon

*Notice my brain went so far ahead that I never thought about the obvious.

Instead, I tried the button cycle one more time. ( no really I did ) There was the "beep-beep" so far away again. Slowly recognition crept across my mind and then my face. If only someone would have had a camera fixed on me at that moment, we could have tried out for that funny home video show on tv. I slapped my knee and blushed as I hit the button again to follow the sound to MY car.

My excuse? Everyone has an excuse, so here is mine.....
It is my mom's car. We have been hosting Japanesse exchange students this week. My mom and I traded cars to give me the seating capacity I needed ( my parents are the best! ). So, in the suburban area I live in, those big white Ford Expeditions are everywhere.

Bonjour......

Last night my "Pippin" and I had our first French class at the college. We aren't taking a college level credit type class, but a continuing educations class. (It is more cost effective to start out that way. Hmmm.... $62 or $300).

Since my father made the military his career for 26 years and my mother grew up in theWestern Pacific Rim and Hawaii, I am pretty familiar with the asian and polynesian cultures. However, I have always been attracted and curious about the french. It is such a beautiful language and an expressively passionate culture.

I am really excited to try and do this class. I know it is alot to bite off with my schedule and season of life, but I think I can accomplish something this term. "Pippin" and I will be able to study together and that should made learning a bit more easy.

For now, I will bid you au re voir.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

See You At The Pole....


Today is: "See You at the Pole" day.

When I first heard of this day, it brought images to my mind of voting and filling out ballots. However, this day is actually about something entirely different. It is not political, but a matter of the heart.

What It Is: This is a time where youth who have a heart for Jesus Christ are encouraged to meet around their school flagpole before morning classes begin.

The Goal: to metaphorically (and physically if they want to) link arms together in encouragement to
1) pray for their school and classmates
2) pray for their teachers
3) pray for their city
4) pray for the nation
5) pray for each other

My daughter, Pippin, asked me to stay this morning and take pictures of the event. It was so encouraging for me to watch these kids, I counted 15 of them, stand up for their belief system. (I never had courage to do such a thing when I was that age.)
They sang songs of praise to God, shared their favorite Bible passages, told inspiring stories, and prayed.

Thank you Lord God.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Your Choice?....

As we were driving in the countryside today, we saw a sign posted by the road that begged to be read. Simply, it said......

Asphalt or Apples?

As my brain was running sluggish, it took me a few minutes to figure out what the motive would be of such a sign. For the longest time, all I could picture was an elderly couple in their Ford Taurus carrying on this conversation.....

him: "Well Mother, what'll it be today? I could sure use a fresh pie after supper tonight to set on my plate with the churned ice cream on the back porch."

her: "Now Daddy, you know that last barrel of apples we bought had soft spots the size of Kansas. Ain't you gonna be needing some of that there asphalt pretty soon for the pothole by the barn?"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Counting Blessings...

Nothing I write here this evening would make anyone say......
"Shazam and Great Scott! What an amazing post! I must share this with all of my friends and keep them in the know."

Instead this is simply for my own purpose. Several sweet and encouraging blessings have happened over the weekend and I don't want them erased from my mind by the ravages of the continued ticking clock of life.

1) I have now made it through the first week and a half of school. I think we might actually be having some fun too. Seriously, all of the students are doing great and trying to comprehend the new concepts I throw their way. There are only minor groans as I hand out assignments of essays to be written and algebra to be learned.

2) Our Saturday youth fun event was a success. I was really starting to worry by Friday night. It was my job to organize the long sought after Capture the Flag event. Even though I heard all summer long from the youth as to how desperate they were to play it, I couldn't get any commitments out of them for who would actually attend. This made planning carpools and food quite a headache for me and I feared the game would be a flop. Ultimately that little voice in my head was saying it would flop because of me. Why do I ever give that little voice the time of day? We had a turn out of 26 youth all decked out in camo gear and recon equipment. It was a huge success and today they showed off their blackberry bush battle wounds proudly as if they were golden medals of pride and honor.

3) The person who encouraged me to get involved with TIP asked me today how things were going. He was such an encouragement and wanted me to tell all the details of my calls so I could feel proud. When he asked me if I had any frustrations at all, I confessed that it is the driving to a destination that turns my nerves into a jumble. Don't get me wrong....maps are easy and I can read them no problem. It is just the idea of figuring out a super quick route from point A to B and arrive to any given place in the WHOLE Portland-metro area within 20 minutes that freaks me out and makes my nerves a wreck. And yes I must obey ALL traffic laws.
He asked if I had thought about an after market navigation system. Yes definately I have been thinking about it but as with most everyone else raising a family, finances are tight right now. so, he blew me away by telling me this....
"You do the research, talk to your husband, and let me know what you come up with and I promise I will pay for at least half of it."

Boy that came out of left field for me. Who does things like that?

4) Destiny's grandma came up to me today with tears of gratitude for making childrens classes happen at church. She said that it is such an encouragement to her to know that when she can only bring Destiny to church sometimes once in a month.......that Destiny is learning about the Real God of Realationships of Heart and Grace. That blessed me so greatly. Sometimes I get tired and my discouragement questions why I put all of the energy into it when I can't see emmediate results before my eyes.

After teaching a room full of energized 10 year old boys.....I needed to hear that today.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

New Experiences.....

A couple of months ago, our oldest daughter and her boy friend gave us a gift certificate to The Melting Pot. Last night we made reservations and decided to check it all out. Here is a sample of our third course.....




What a different and fun expereince we had. Definately "out of the box" for us. I will be recommending this to everyone.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tick-Tock Tick-Tock....

Today is THE DAY. It is my first on call shift. I have been up and ready for the past few hours now and for the next 10 hours....I will be ready. Ready to run out the door as soon as my dispatcher says there is a need.

Due to current laws of protection with people privacy (and rightly so) I cannot ever discuss specific details of cases. but I can say this.....
I have mixed emotions about it all. My 60 hours of training tells me that I can handle whatever comes along. But, what if I forget something important?.....ugh... I am after all human. I am excited to complete my "first mission". But then that means that something bad has happened to someone else.
I have been having dreams about it all for the last week. Dreams of the phone ringing, dreams of being in certain situations, dreams that I can't even remember but I wake up feeling the surge of adrenaline and anxiety of the unknown.

Surely I will feel better once I actually DO something.

You'll Find It At Fred Meyers.....

I had stepped into the women's restroom to freshen up after a long day of teaching and school shopping. What I heard in there brought a myriad of different emotions to my mind.

There was a woman in one of the stalls crying. At first I thought she might be on the phone. (I don't understand how people can have phone conversations in a public bathroom but it happens all the time.) I did what most anyone else would do in that situation....I cleared my throat so that she would know she was not alone in the room anymore. My actions though did not achieve a usual reation. Instead, her crying became sobbing. Her sobbing then became humming, mubling, and escalating to singing. She was not on a phone. She was in her own world of pain.

Her statements and song words revolved around a broken heart. "Don't leave me alone," she said. "You love me and I love you." This was repeatedly followed by, "Please don't do this to me." Her words became a chant and rhythm. Though I could not see her behind her closed door, I could easily imagine her swaying back and forth in time to the beat her current world
surrounded her in.

I thought so many things in the few minutes I was in there.
Do I ask her if she is okay? No of course she is not okay. I thought about my current skills as a emergency services volunteer. But then I realized I would be in way over my head. I get dispatch calls only after the police deam a situation safe. Who knows what this poor woman would be driven to do. Would my reaching out to her be her last straw of sanity? Would her hurt and pain be unleashed on me? Whatever the circumstances were that brought her to have no qualms about this current semi display in such a public atmosphere....could they cause her to do something to hurt herself in that stall?

So, I chose to leave the room and notify management.
I don't know what the final outcome was....can there truly be a final outcome in the midst of so much pain?
I just know it has been haunting me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Can You Eat Just One?.....


I drive by Krispy Kreme so many times during the week and can almost always say no to that big round red light shining it's temptations.

Then there are other days....maybe a half dozen in this last year.....when I take on the challenge that becons my senses and weakens my will. I tell myself, "I'll just go in for the free doughnut. They give them away and don't demand that a person buys more. I can be strong."

But see, that is the ploy. Everytime I tell myself I can be just strong enough, that hot fresh doughnut melts in my mouth. They bank on it and that is why they run business the way they do. They count on people like myself to fall prey....a victim of sensory blissful overload.

"I'll take a dozen please", I say as I wipe the remnants of warm and gooey icing from the edges of my lips.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Household Shiftings....

Today was the day......
I had a 10am appointment at OHS to put our border collie and lab up for adoption.

My husband and I both grew up in our perspective homes with dogs as a part of the inner household workings. So when we got married, it was natural for us to always have 1 to 3 dogs running around our home. I never questioned it.....it was simply a fact in our minds that dogs made for a happier and livelier abode.

However, over the past few years, I have felt a rising guilt towards those furry family members as our daily lives have become more and more stretched.....schooling, community centers, meetings, volunteering, and of course the general social lives of the 4-7 people that live here at any given time. That guilt and subsiquent conviction, I have tried...unsuccessfully...to communicate with my family.

Over the past few months, I have seen small falterings in their (the dogs) obedience levels as they have learned the classic adage that acting out and misbehaving brings about attention - and bad attention is better than no attention at all.
.....
.....
.....

So it is done.....they are now in a position to receive better care and love than we had the energy to give.
My family is adjusting. They seem to all understand that this is the right course of action. My "Rosie-girl" has been having the hardest time. Silent crocodille tears ran down her almost 14 year old face as I drove away this morning. It took her a couple of hours after I came home to let me hug her without being rigid. Later in the day I asked her if she'd like to go get that new haircut she had been hoping for before school starts. That perked her up and made a huge difference in her demeanor. No, she is not so shallow that she can be bought and bribed by a haircut. I think it simply helped her to see beyond the moment that was swirling in front of her eyes.

Tonight, my husband took me out to dinner at my favorite place. When our waitress came to take our order, he said, "Hon, get you something you will really like to help you relax." Are you shocked and amazed that I/he/we would do such a thing? If so, I am so sorry.
No, I don't turn to substance crutches to get over my life humps. It was the second strawberry margareta I have had in my entire life. And hey, how can I refuse when he itemizes all that has been swirling around me the past few weeks and what lies ahead?

Oh, it tasted good.
I am purposefully focusing on letting it pierce the rock hard tension that has taken residence in the muscles around my shoulders and neck that ibuprophen makes only a mockery dent in.

Maybe in a few years when the girls have flown the nest, I will find a yearning for a furry companion. For now, I am just grateful.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Amazing...

Even after all of this time, I find it totally and completely amazing when God makes something happen that I dare not even expect or see as a remote possibility. It is humbling and brings hope when I fear of being at the point of hoping never more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Soaking Wet and Not Moving...

I am sitting here today looking at my blog picture of the young girl inspiring the world to look up and be refreshed in the rains of life...........
Normally I feel a focusing and surge when I set my eyes on that picture....but not today.

Today is a hard day.

No, nothing super horrid has happened. No one has died. Our home is still standing. Nothing that would make the world gasp and cringe in compassionate despair has fallen into my world.

It is just all of those things...those bits of straw....that pile up until one can't see over the haystack any longer. The metaphorical "breaking of the camel's back".

sigh........

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It Is Finished...

I stayed up until midnight last night so I could finish reading Uncle Tom's Cabin.....

The deep portrayal of human characteristics and tendencies, the unbending faith and testimony, the mirrors of truth in human emotion that bridge the gap between time and race...........


It was an amazing read. I am so touched I don't even know what to say.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Yes We Really Did Volunteer....

Friday morning found the girls and I wearing our "race official" bright yellow t-shirts and getting syched out for a new adventure. Somehow, we had gotten ourselves sucked into volunteering for the 2007 Hood-2-Coast race. How did we get involved at all? Well, my husband, oldest daughter, son, and brother-in-law were all on a team together.

I must say it was an interesting experience. We worked section 2 just east of Rhodedendron where runner 2 hands off to runner 3. We worked the first 5 hours of the race so we were able to experience the very beginnings of the thrill and excitement. As we directed traffic and parking on highway 26 and tried to keep runners safe, we came across so many different kinds of people. There were the amatures who were pumped on the idea that they were actually doing it and there were the pros who expected everyone to get out of their royal way. There were people from other countries who didn't understand when I said, "get out off the highway and back on the shoulder before you become road kill". A few teams were upset that we would have the audacity to tell them where to park, but most people were grateful for our help....telling us thank you for putting up with all of the crazy people and even giving us little gifts.

I think the part that I had the hardest time with though were the people in charge of our section. One bragged to us about all of the cool stuff he was given as a high ranking responsible volunteer. We heard about everything from the clothing to the rental car, the food perks and the room at the beach, the parties and the elbow rubbing. Even with all of that "look at me" praise going on, he became suddenly scarce when it was time to give out our job descriptions and actually be in charge of things. There was a lot of back stabbing and slander going on with the "big guys" and obvious times of "passing the buck".

From it all I learned.....
- people are people but I am always responsible for my own actions
- I can yell at anybody and say anything as long as I wear an offical shirt and do it with a smile
- guys don't like for a girl to direct their vehicle anywhere
- cutie pie teeny-bopper girls can't direct traffic .... AT ALL

Friday, August 24, 2007

What You Can Find At Walmart....


Found:
One green army soldier standing at attention on a garbage can by the store entrance.
If he belongs to you, contact the Walmart just down the street.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drum Roll Please...

You haven't met her yet, but I am sure that it won't take long for your heart to fall in love with my amazing friend. I can tell you from experience, she is all her profile states and more. Now, amongst all of the other great things that she puts her mind to doing, she is taking a spin on the tracks of world wide blogging. Put your hands together real big and loud and give it up for Trek4Fun!

Its A Bird, Its A Plane....

I was sitting at the light by my house this afternoon waiting for my turn to go. To the right of me, I noticed a man walking along the side of the street in my direction. At roughly 6' tall, he was easy to notice amidst the afternoon traffic. Munching on some sort of oreo style cookie as he marched along, he had a happy and carefree purpose in his stride. It didn't seem to bother him to be careful that cookie bits did not get locked into his full growth of long facial hair. Ah to be so happy and content.

The thing that really made me take notice of him however was this bright and colorful shirt. Since the clothing we choose to wear is a shining neon sign statement of our personality, I had to wonder to myself......
Is his statement one of comedy or of belief.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Your 16th Birthday....

To my daughter......

August 14, 1991, found me so excited…and yet so scared. I had been anxiously awaiting your arrival. The baby room was decorated, the furniture was all in place, tiny baby clothes were washed and placed on itty-bitty hangars and drawer liners. There was nothing left to do and yet, when the doctor said that this was going to be the day and time….I froze and felt panic rise in my stomach. Why? I could look back at virtually any point in my life and see children around me. Whether babysitting or teaching, they were always there. And I always knew I wanted children of my own. Now that time had come….
Me at 20 years old, I was about to be a mommy! But how would I know what to do? Being a parent is a huge responsibility. There are so many unknowns to figure out as one bumps along. What if I make wrong decisions? How will I know if Baby is hungry, sleepy, or just wants to be fed? Do I lay Baby down on tummy, side, or back? How long do I let Baby sleep? How long do I let Baby cry? What is the better way to discipline? The “how’s” and “what if’s” swirled around in my head…..until I looked into your eyes. Then it just didn’t matter anymore as my heart jumped into the loving depths of parenthood.


It seems like only yesterday when you were born…and yet so much time has past.

As your father and I look back, we can see that little toddler girl in coveralls exploring the yard with eagerness for adventure. We see a 4 year old thrilled at the prospect and responsibility of being a big sister. We see a 7 year old stretching her horizons with ballet, gymnastics, tai kwon do, and horse riding. We see a 12 year old dedicating her heart to the softness that one can only find with having a personal relationship with God.

Now at 16, you are growing into such an amazing young lady…full of strength, heart, compassion, and wisdom. Your truth and honesty lets everyone around you know that you are to be trusted. Your wit and charm brings a smile to the lowliest of times. How blessed we are to be woven so intricately into the fabric of your life.

Today, your father and I give you this ring as a renewing symbol of the promises we made 16 years ago.

The gold represents us as your parents. Gold is refined in fire over and over again to bring out the impurities that mingle with it. The fire brings it to a state of bendable softness that shines true and remains strong. The same is true in being parents. No matter what bumps come along, we are always here for you…dependable….your cheerleaders in life, being proud of you and supporting your decisions.

The silver is a representation of you. Silver by nature comes from gold ore. As gold ore is processed, the silver separates and comes forth from it to take on its own traits and brilliant characteristics. It too is refined and purified in fire to bring out its strengths and resilience, to shine and hold value all on its own.

The diamonds stand for your future and the promises that you have made to live your life in a godly way. Diamonds are nature’s truest and hardest substance. Nothing on earth is strong enough to damage a diamond except another diamond. This same concept stands true for you. The beliefs and promises that you are building under your feet will hold you strong and sure. The only way to sabotage your footing is to lose faith in these beliefs and promises.

Just as we have been woven together in life and cherished relationship, these three precious and valuable earthen materials have been wound together as a gift for you.

Even now, after all that I have written, it doesn’t seem adequate in words to explain just how much we feel and how very proud we are of you. Simply, all that we can say is “we love you”.

Happy birthday.
Love, Mom and Dad