Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spider Monkeys Can Jump?....

This afternoon I received one of those "forwarded" friendship emails from my dear friend Trek. I have talked about her quite a few times. Normally, those "friend" emails are cute and sweet, but you know, we have all read them a million times so we say "awe" and "Yeah I agree" at the appropriate times and then move on.
This email however was a bit different for me. It struck a funny bone and made me laugh so hard that the last statement of the email almost came true.

Here, hopefully you will get a good laugh too.


Are you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship.

  • When you are sad --I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey.
  • When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
  • When you smile -- I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
  • When you are scared -- we will high tail it out of here.
  • When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.
  • When you are confused -- I will use little words.
  • When you are sick --Stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
  • When you fall -- I will try to pick you up and dust you off.
  • This is my oath...I pledge it to the end. 'Why?' you may ask -- because you are my friend!
  • Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Lost in Translation....

Last night he came up to me and said, "Are you going tomorrow?"
"Yes", I replied. "I can give you a ride home if you need it."
"Cool!" he said. "Esta muy es bueno! Oh you probably don't understand Spanish. I told you that you sing like a beautiful bird with an amazing voice."


Ha! I haven't had Spanish classes since 7th grade but I know he only said "that is very good".
But of course the flattery does earn extra points.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What I Remember....

Memories resurface when we least expect them to. They can show up from a myriad of different tugs that instantly recall a scene. Triggers can come from smells and sounds, similar feelings and situations, and even things read and heard. The past couple of weeks for me has been an accumulation of all the above to bring back childhood memories, specifically visits with my grandmother.

My dear grandmother was my father's mother. Though I have mentioned Grandmother only once before here, she has always been close to me in my heart. Often times, I will look at situations and decisions that need to be made and without even realising it I will ask myself, "What would Grandmother do?"

I loved my childhood visits to Grandmother's house. It was like stepping into Mayberry. For a chunk of my childhood, we were stationed at an Air Force base a mere 8 hours away from Grandmother's home in the small backwoods of Chatham, Louisiana. It was such a different way of life and the experiences never became old. Our every day lives were pretty fast paced with school and both parents working. Not that that was a bad thing mind you. It is just that the gears would stop with every mile that we would get closer to that little town. Though I knew how long the drive would be, I would always ask, "Are we there yet? How much longer until we get there?" I knew those mile markers and I knew where all of the turns were. I even knew for a fact that the hands of time worked against me in making minutes slow down as we made each corner.

To this very day, I could take you there right now with my eyes closed.
Do you smell the wetness in the air? That is the lake. Do you hear the toads and crickets chirping their songs? Do you hear the rocks catching in the tire tread? Here comes the general store just before the flashing light. Boy, the town folk were sure proud to get that flashing yellow light. Over there are the railroad tracks. We will take a left there......bump bump bump. Now a right down Davis Street and to the end. Do feel the shade of the big trees as we drive under them? It is so cool and refreshing against the sweltering heat. To the left is Aunt Olie and Uncle Calvin's house. They will want us to pop in for some sun brewed ice tea when we are refreshed. There on the left, there is Grandmother coming out of her screened in front porch. She is wiping her hands on a kitchen towel because she was making some special vittles for us. "Traveling like that is sure to make a person hungry", she says as her hugs squeeze the breath out of our bodies.

I remember so much about Grandmother. She was firm and absolute in her resolve while her heart was molded with gold that shone so bright to everyone within her grasp. She had the resilient strength in character to raise 6 strapping boys and 3 grandchildren while her heart bore the grief of living through the deaths of 2 husbands, a baby girl, and 4 of her grown boys. A person never ever thought of answering Grandmother without ending their sentence with "Ma'am". I don't ever remember not saying "yes Ma'am" to Grandmother. Not because she demanded it, but because she was worthy of the respect. I remember early on, never wanting to do anything that would hurt Grandmother, simply because I loved her so.

Those short visits were filled with all sorts of memories; shucking corn and catching crawdads, softball games and my cousin's big old dog named Bear, family reunions, honey bees and Daddy Long legged spiders, learning to drive a riding lawn mower and shotgun target practice, Grandmother's special gumbo and her southern style biscuits. As I play every memory out they all circle back around to Grandmother.

When my husband and I married, we were stationed just a few hours away from Grandmother. It was always s joy to get to have a three day weekend and spend it in her company.
I remember that it was because of Grandmother that everyone decided my husband was "alright" and accepted. See, no one in the family liked that this older man had swept young little me off my feet. But Grandmother declared, "In the short weekend of their first visit he was polite, changed my car oil and fixed my ceiling fan. To top it off, he makes our little Julie smile so what more could we ask for?" Then she rounded it off with, "Looking at them together, why they are just cuter than a speckled pup under a red wagon." That simple statement was all anyone needed.

Grandmother's house was my home away from home. When my husband was called away in the middle of the night to serve in Desert Shield, it was summer time and I was left with his two small children. Thoughts of re booking their plane tickets and sending them home early to their momma never even occurred to me. As they walked around the house in a daze, clutching their daddy's photo and wondering if they would see him again, my only thought was to take them to the place where I always had peace....Grandmother's house. There we were just a few hours later and there was Grandmother with her open arms full of acceptance and love. She helped wipe away the children's' tears and comforted me in all of her knowing ways.
The kids, now ages 25 and 28 years, still bring up those special days at Grandmother's house.

When I had my first baby, I couldn't wait to take her to see Grandmother. Though Grandmother had countless grandchildren and great grandchildren by that time, that didn't stop her from ooh-ahhing over my little girl and showing her off to everybody in town.

I hold dear all of our visits. We would often sit out on the screened in front porch early in the morning and talk about Bible and family, times past and times to come. Sometimes we would giggle and sometimes just breathe deeply and not say anything at all.

Sitting here now at my keyboard, I can still feel the slow sway of the porch swing and hear the creak of the chains going back and forth. I can see her smiling next to me with a little girl grin as we share a fresh batch of instant chocolate pudding. "I like it the best", she says, "when not all of the pudding mixes up with the milk. Then you get little clumps of powder in your spoon and it is like a secret treasure surprise."

Oh Grandmother you are our treasure and I love you so.
Thank you for blessing us all with the specialness of you over the years.


(David at Authorblog honored this post and my dear Grandmother with giving it a mention as post of the day. I am so grateful to share Grandmother with everyone.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Anniversary Blogger....

May 17th marks a special day for me. It is one year since I started my blogging experience. Here is my very first post. It was a scary venture to begin but after encouragement from a dear friend, I jumped. The result of that jump has been very eye opening for me.

Along the way, my focus has shifted a bit here and there as I entertained the basic questions....should I write humorously, sarcastically, write about heart matters and my family, what will make it me, who am I.... but I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be an outlet for my thoughts. I am the kind of person that slides into auto mode very easily and I often find that weeks go by before I give my own person needs and desires attention. Writing has been a way for me to air out my thoughts and begin to find myself.

These days I find that I can't get enough of it. I love to write. I crave to write. When I have gone a few days without putting my thoughts to a post, I find myself agitated and distracted. Writing calms my thoughts, puts focus where it needs to be, and helps me let go of everything else.

Because I tend to only think in the now, blogging has been a way for me to remember things that have happened; blessings and experiences, concerns and joys. These are things that I would always tell myself I would remember on my own but then find details gone from my mind in a short time. It has always baffled me how older generations could remember happenings, conversations, details of an event, even smells with accuracy. I have never been able to do that.

Another wonderful perk has been the people I have met around the world. Visiting Australia, England, France, Canada, and even different places in the USA has always been on my wish list. Now I feel privileged to have experienced a taste of those different destinations.
Then of course, there is the relationship aspect. Before becoming a blogger, I would ignorantly scoff at the idea of people building real relationships on the web. How could you really know a person by only their writing? Now, I cherish my fellow writing friends and look forward to our visits. I learn from them as they share their lives and I glean treasures from each one. Whether they are a passing visitor or one that I have developed a deeper relationship with, each one has made new memories in my heart.
With the aid and encouragement of my blogger friends over this last year I have walked through my thoughts on being a mom, daughter, wife, friend, and teacher. I have been able to share grief in death and joy in life. I have been able to unwind my millions of thoughts and learn that beyond those many hats I am my own person. Sometimes my discoveries have been an ugly look in the mirror and sometimes it has been a celebration. All in all, it has been for the good. That is what God promises....
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." Romans 8:28

Will I keep on blogging? Most definitely. I think all of these perks have tipped the scales in favor of a long future on the web.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Recent Signs of Spring....

I wanted to share these things that have made me smile lately.
Come take a walk around my humble home.

These roses are from my hubby....just because.
I love how the color blends from white to delicate pink in the center.
God is such an amazing creator.
Okay, maybe not a sign of spring, but they made me smile all the same.
Hubby, Pippin, and Rosie added to my Willow Tree collection for Mother's Day.

Can you see the varigated color in these rose buds?
Each mom at church was given these for Mother's Day.
I have never seen such color in a rose before.

This tree brings me such joy every year. It is a Star Lilac.
At one time, the edges of each star was framed in white, making a 5 point star.
I think maybe I am missing some nutrients in our soil because that effect no longer happens.
Still the smell and beauty takes my breath away.

I am not skilled in growing all. But for some reason I am able to get these pretty babies to thrive in my kitchen.
They must love the sky light.
I am actually really gtreatful they are healthy and happy.
They are violets and some sort of greenery that were given to us when my father-in-law and my husband's youngest son passed away.

You might be wondering what that is in my kitchen that my pretty violets stand on.
This also brings a smile to my heart and I cherish it.

When my parents first married, my father was active duty Air Force and stationed in Japan. They lived in a tiny little apartment and furnished things as they went along.
This old fashioned ice box was the first piece of furniture that they purchased together.
My mom still laughs when she thinks about them arguing a fair price with the little Ojiisan (grandpa).

It has been in my family for a little over 38 years now.
I don't know how old it really is.
Maybe 7 years ago, I claimed it from my mom's garage, stripped and re-painted it
and now it sits in my kitchen filled with cookbooks and kitchen towels.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Am Breathing....

It seems that lately the time on the clock has been spinning more and more quickly around the dial. With end of year school projects, capstone presentations, volunteering, Sunday school lessons to plan, and all of the general things of family and head is now swirling even when my body stops moving. In between reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of The Monkeys at the same time ( so that I can know what I am actually teaching) and examining the finer points of Solving for Unknown with Multiplicative Inverse, I am making making a mental list of all the things that I normally do which I haven't had opportunity to do. You know, things like beading, card making, blog visiting, being with friends.

Soon the gears will slow down. That will be so good because I really don't like it when I get in this mode. It is a mode that spins so fast, I know I am not giving correct devotion to any one thing. I see the things that need to be done but I am going so fast that I find I don't want to do any of it. I stop wanting to care and end up sitting with a numb feeling coursing through me. Then the pressure builds, the not caring builds, the numbing is a vicious and unproductive circle.

The little white dog that was staying with us this past week went home yesterday. Okay go ahead and laugh at how silly I am. I miss her. After that first couple of days when I thought I could be capable of inflicting inhumane pain on an animal, she calmed down and became angelic, while I became a sucker. Sigh...... I missed taking her out this morning, missed her running up to me last night to say a happy hello, and more than once I thought she was bumping up against my leg to ask for attention.

Also, this week was scary for a young teen friend of ours. At the beginning of the week he was admitted to the university hospital here in the city after having a heart attack. It was crazy to say the least. He is a healthy young man and it came as a shock to us all. It turns out that he had somehow acquired an infection in his heart that was attacking and destroying all tissues in its path. He is on the mend now and in a couple of weeks we will be able to find out what kind of permanent damage there is.

Last but not least, yesterday was my last day for volunteering with TIP. I know I have pulled the "I quit" card before but this time I mean it. It is such a privilege and honor to be in a position to be with people and help them when a crisis hits. The fact that I have been able to give encouragement and love to them when their hearts are most exposed to pain, I cherish each time. But I must grip the fact that I cannot be all things to all people at all times. It could very well be an organization that I work with in the future, but now is not my season. I need to allow myself a small bit of breathing room in my days. I cannot take care of others if I do not take care of myself first.
(Honorable mention of poast of the day from David at Authorblog. I am once again humbled and I must giggle. I am still in the foggy run run mode and when I saw his mention, it didn't even click that it was me. I simply thought, "oh look someone else has my name."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

How Do We Let Them Go.....

Last night I was visiting with a friend who recently got married. We were talking about how special her puppy dog is to her and how her husband teases her about being so over protective of her if it were instead her child. She said to me, "I don't know how you Moms do it. How do you love something so much and are able to let them go? There are so many ways for them to get hurt." It was a statement of respect and awe.

I jokingly made reference to the idea that yes we love our kids and it is hard to let go, but as they go through their teenage things, there are days when when want to open the door for them and say 'buh-bye'. I said, "Maybe God helps us get in that frame of mind so we can let them go." We laughed and then moved on to other topics.

As I lay my head down on my pillow last night, I thought about it more...with seriousness instead of comedy. The question: How do we as parents let go? swirled in my head as I thought of past experiences. When it was time for the boys to leave, I even helped them to pack. No, we weren't in the midst of incredibly horrid times. I was just excited about the new chapters of their lives. They wanted to embark on life and they were each 18 years old so why not.

Maybe it was easier for me in those two situations because they are not my blood sons. I used to resent people making reference to the idea that my heart would not be attached the boys in the same way because I did not raise them until they were teenagers and they are not my blood sons. I thought that was the stupidest thing that could come out of any one's mouth. I bent over backwards for those boys, prayed for them, cried for them, guided them, and sacrificed for them. And yet, maybe there is a small bit of truth in that statement after all. I don't know.

When it is time for my girls to leave, how will I handle it? I don't know that it will be so easy to pack up their things.

How DO we let go?
As I lay there thinking, I realised that almost from the day they are born we let go a fraction more each day. Helpless at birth, children are given to us from God, not as a creation to be owned but instead as a creation to be nurtured and shaped.....for letting go.

As tiny infants, they need us for, care, food, shelter, and love. Then they develop their little muscles enough to start crawling around and exploring. That is when the letting go begins. (My realization is that it is oh so very soon. It doesn't happen when they are young adults, it happens when they are still babies.) As they crawl and explore, yes they need us to give them parameters, but within reason they begin to express their independence. As the days, weeks, and months fly by, each assertion of individuality causes us to have to let go a small bit more. In that letting go, we trust that they will attempt to choose right decisions and that the decisions they make, right and wrong, will help shape their character.

As I sit here with tears hitting my keyboard I see that we let go not out of any lack of care. It is not that it is all. Seeing them step into the world rips our hearts out. There are so many dangers waiting for them, so many unknowns. We let go because we care. It is because we love them with every fiber of our being that we willingly encourage them to step into the world and make their mark. Yes they will fall and yes they will hurt. But they will also do incredible and amazing things for the world.....because from Day 1, we have been their cheerleaders encouraging them to step into the unfamiliar and seek their destiny.

With God's grace and peace, I will be able to let go when the time comes. For now, I think I am going to be giving my girls some extra long hugs today.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Don't Open That Door.....

Have you seen the movie Daddy Day Care? Here is the movie trailer to refresh your memory...

Now that it is fresh in your mind, recall the one scene where the little boy comes out of the bathroom. Eddie Murphy peeks his head in to see what happened there and you see the different levels of horror and shock cross his face while the music from Psycho plays in the background.

That mental image will give you a pretty accurate idea of what the cute little dog did in the bathroom. We had put her in there while we went to the barn to muck the stall of the horse also belonging to our friends who are gone this week.

Yeah, after cleaning the stall of a strapping big horse, cleaning our bathroom from top to bottom, and then bathing the cute little dog that was covered in mess........what amount of money is worth all of that?

How Much is that Doggie in the Window.....

In thinking of a title for this post, I started to sing a song I played on my childhood record player over and over and over again. I can still hear it in my head...with scratchy sounds and all....

"How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggily tail.
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggies for sale.
Arff! Arff!"

Dogs....until recently, I have always owned a dog and I know that some day I will once again own a dog. Now that I am pretty regular with going out on walks, I have occasionally thought it would be nice to have a companion with me...a small bit of accountability to make sure I get out in the rays of sun. I have wondered if I will become lonely when the girls are off in school and I have time to figure out a bit of me with the unoccupied hours. Maybe it would then be time for a fuzz ball in the house.

I started doing a bit of research on the subject. We have always had whatever pooch landed on our doorstep, which is not a bad way to be. I just want to do things different this time. What kind of dog would suit my needs? I took an online profile, researched breeds and needs, temperaments and dispositions, do they dig, are they ornery, easy to train, eager to please, balanced between needing attention and being able to spend time alone. I even looked up breeders in the area and started estimating how long it would take me to be financially ready.

I have now put all of my information on the back burner. "Pippin" is puppy sitting this week for a friend and it has thrown my world into a spin to have a canine in our house again. She is a cute little thing and we have known her since she was a pup. But the things to think about when having a pet to be responsible for....well I guess I had forgotten.

It is like having a baby again. Is she hungry? Is she thirsty? Is she lonely? Does she need to go outside? Have we been away from home for too long? Would somebody please tell me why she is whining non stop!

Yes, I know that one day I will have a pup of my very own to go on walks with me, be my friend with deep knowing eyes and ears that always listen, and keep my feet warm as I curl up on the couch. But for now, I am definitely not ready. As a matter of fact, I think it will be completely healthy for me to be alone when the girls go to school.
(David at Authorblog made this an honorable mention for post of the day. I am humbled with the honor.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Confessions of a Stupidly Proud Heart....

I was 18 years old at the time and dating a 33 year old man (my future husband). At the time of this specific story, we were already pretty serious in our relationship. Because of that, I would routinely drive him to work so that he could do a few hours of needed calls and paperwork while I was left in charge of his personal car...and his little baby boy.

On one of these days, I decided to drop into the office for a surprise visit. His office was located in the upper level of the local mall (where he was on special assignment as an active duty Air Force recruiter) so parking proved to be a bit of a challenge at times.

Being just 18 years old (and only having my license for maybe 6 months) I hadn't quite mastered all of those tight parking techniques yet, but I had the youthful thought process to think that I could conquer anything and there happened to be an open space in between 2 other government cars. About a thousand times before that moment, I had seen my boyfriend whip around and back his 1985 Pontiac Firebird into a parking space. I figured it couldn't be all that difficult and I ought to be able to do the same.

I turned, positioned, angled, checked my mirrors and then went for it. Ever so softly I heard a scrape/rubbing sound. Shock and doubt filled my mind. Those feelings were followed by a million other thoughts.

- I can't believe I just messed up!
- I just wrecked the car with THE BABY!
- This is his car...his other BABY!
- I scraped a government car....the military can't touch me but they can make life hard for him!
- I have put a huge black mark of shame in his career record!
- I have ruined his life!

With all of those thoughts swirling through my mind, I did what any sensible 18 year old girl would do.......I parked the car in a different spot, grabbed the baby, and went up to the office with a "nope nothing happened today" smile on my face.

To make matters worse, the army recruiter saw me pull away and told the navy recruiter. It was the navy car that I had scuffed. The navy officer marched out there with a tape measure and everything to compare paint scuff marks and bumpers. As sweetly and determined as she was to get the truth out of you know I played the dumbfounded/denial card to the very end?! Yep I lied. I lied profoundly, absolutely, and stupidly. I looked her right in the eyes and said, "Gosh those are interesting clues to your case but it wasn't me." All I could think of were those thoughts swirling around in my head and I was not about to own up to anything.

It was not until just a couple of years ago that I confessed the truth to my husband.
He was shocked and then we had a good laugh about it.


I was out driving yesterday, all the usual errands, when that whole scene jumped back into my mind. (Do you ever find yourself with that memory lane stupidity hitting you smack in the face when you least expect it?) Ugh! It is so embarrassing! I hope that as I have gained years and experience since that time, I am not as prone to such dumb moments. But then again, it is not 100% likely. Sure it is funny to laugh at and it really wasn't a big deal. Nothing ever happened. The scuff buffed right out. But it makes me cringe all the same.


I think because it is a pointed landmark story in my life that illustrates all of the many times that I have so adamantly and without wisdom clung to an empty and futile thought process. Call it haughtiness, arrogance, egoism, narcissism, pride, or self really all means the same thing. I think everyone can testify to at least one deed sort of similar to this in their past. It is, after all, human instinct to be driven by self. We all have done it, are doing it, and will do it in the future. It is why we need a Savior...not only to ensure where we spend our eternity, but also how we live day to day in the now time.

I know that for me, it is only because of Jesus in my life today that I can even attempt to make a more wise decision in my days than what wants to rise up from inside me. As they say, "But for the grace of God, there go I."

Proverbs 3:5-6
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.