Monday, March 31, 2008
As ladies tend to do, no one wanted to be the first to the table. Ladies think that it might insinuate that they are actually hungry or enjoy food a bit too much. Again the hostess made a table call. This time, Kelly Ann and I looked at one another with an expression of 'let's start a new trend'. We jumped up and started sampling everything as we hovered around the yummies proclaiming goodness all around.
That was how Kelly Ann and I met. Since that time we have often teased about being each other's 'eating buddy'. But really, she is so much more than that to me. Kelly has been a huge blessing in my life in the 6 and half years that we have known one another. Her insight, hugs, and great sense of humor always puts a smile on my face.
Now Kelly is starting a new venture...blogging! She is simply too wonderful to not share. So, drop by her place, appropriately titled Inside The Garden of my Heart, when you get opportunity. I guarantee you will be blessed.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
But the reality is .....it is not really reality.
Life doesn't really work out the way things get portrayed on the screen. In real life, the bad guy doesn't suddenly turn to a life of repentance after get cold cocked by people who won't stand for his dramas anymore.
That is what was running thru my mind last night as I was getting ready for bed from a day of Easter celebrations and being with my family.
Some of us are a tight knit group. We support, encourage, and cheer one another on in all things. Others spiral away from that closeness and seem to do everything in their ability to sabotage that beauty.
Yesterday was a classic example of such an occasion.
I spent a good part of last night putting out fires, soothing emotional hurts and injustifications. The "what happened" details don't matter. I am sure you could insert your own family experiences here because I think we all have those kinds of people in our lives.
The heart details that keep weighing on me though is a different matter entirely.
When people lash out to swipe and hurt others, no matter how unjustified, if I retaliate with indignant anger then it solves nothing. Sure, there is a moment of satisfaction as the jerk gets his "just due". But remember the cliche 'Two wrongs don't make a right'? There is great wisdom in that phrase. The aftershocks of a verbal or even a physical fight would have affected all 28 people present. The lasting scars that people would wear would be worse then the original problem. The original offender, would not have backed down and said "oh you are right. I am sorry I have been so mean." Instead he would have been justified in his own mind at being venomous and festered even more in the future.
"How can you not want to hit him? How do you turn the other cheek over and over again?"
Believe me, it can be so hard. I don't always want to and I have definitely been known to throw out my fair share of silver-tongued poison-filled statements. But when I get to that point, like last night, that soft voice in my heart says, "He wasn't always this way. Yes he is spiteful, ugly, hurtful, and arrogant at the expense of everyone else....but he has grown into that. He is filled with arrogant pride because he has no pride. Don't fight the obvious bravado in front of you but look for the roots in heart that started it all."
I am reminded that when I pray, I must not only pray for him, but I must pray for myself as well. I must pray that I remember to look beyond the obvious. Otherwise it would be all too easy for my heart to turn to vengeance and spite. If that became the case, then my heart would be no different than his. At the end of the day, I must be able to look in the mirror and know that I have tried my best. I am responsible for my actions and choices, no matter what is thrown my way.
I don't write and share these things to say "aren't I great?"
Please know that is as far from the truth as the east is from the west. I am not all knowing or perfect. No one is. I certainly mess up...a lot.
My purpose is only to:
#1 sort thru my own feelings as I commit them to writing.
#2 Maybe someone reading this might be struggling with the same sort of issue and in some way be helped by my experience.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
No matter. It is going to be a great day. My best-est friend is coming over this morning for a day of crafting and being silly. I am providing the lunch and she is bringing the fun junky stuff.
I jumped up this morning for my walk, so I could better justify the junk. It was a nippy 39 degrees but still the promise of a beautiful day was shining thru the skies. Thought you might like to see what I saw before I go have some fun.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Our youth snow day was a huge success!
At first, our plans were to hike out into a wilderness area with all of our tubing and heater equipment to in essence, carve out a name for ourselves. However, 24 hours prior to departure, we opted for one of the local recreational facilities. After all, why re-invent the wheel? I am so glad we chose Plan B.
Leaders and youth alike had huge smiles on their faces throughout the whole day as they rode the tow rope up and slid all the way down. Friendly competition was the name of the game as each one tried a more zany way of tube riding form. The most sought after position was being able to ride "knee surfing" style with hands in the air. Wipe outs and giggles were inevitable. My brother had brought along a bag full of crazy hats and wigs to aid in the play. I must admit that at first I thought it sort of a silly idea. But here I am to admit I was completely wrong. The more goofy the youth could make their head gear the better. It became part of the sport to see if their ridiculous head dress could stay on their heads at higher speeds and bigger bumps. Then if it was lost on the course, the finder became the new victor.
Speaking of competition, I got out there quite a few times myself. I had been looking forward to the idea of snow play and figured that if I could do an 800 foot zip line then I could certainly handle the fun of snow tubes. Then the ever present voice of sacrificial motherhood started to creep into my head. I figured I would pay for my family to have fun and sacrifice my thrill for the sake of money. That was a short lived thought however when one 17 year old from our group said, "It's a good thing that they have heated tents out here because I just don't picture the grown ups being out in the snow very much."
Yeah...that was all it took for my stubborn self to over ride the mother martyr in me. As I rode the slopes, I laughed, giggled, bounced, and caught air with the best of them.
As I handled my 4WD back down the mountain, I looked in the rear view mirror at the 7 sleeping ones in my charge and thought this will definitely have to be a yearly trip.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I saw him looking my way with a smile and a hello ready to fall from his lips. "No way." I thought. "You are not going to sucker me into anything. I am stronger than that." I started my usual steering away process that had served me so well in times past.
He said, "Good afternoon. I was wondering if I could borrow a minute of your time and share something with you."
Not an unusual statement. It was polite and simple, but nothing amazing.
What grabbed my attention was his accent and voice. He spoke with a decidedly Hebrew accent, his voice soft but firm.
He wanted to show me wonderful products created with Dead Sea Minerals that would change my hands, nails, and life forever.
I could have walked away. I knew it was a sales pitch. But on that day I didn't walk away. I listened, I participated, and shamefully I purchased. I really did. I bought a kit for $25, a kit that contained mostly things I already owned.
Me, normally frugal and conservative, I don't even give my hands much thought, and here I was with a special kit.
How could I do such a thing? Was it the product? Not in the least. It was him.
He had asked if he could show me how the product worked. When I consented, he gently took my hand in his and slowly buffed, lotioned, and oiled the daily traumas out of my first nail. All the while that he performed his magic, his 6 foot 3 inch stature was positioned close to me so that he could speak softly into my ear, talking to me about the importance of caring for myself. He said I mattered and must remember to care for the inner and outer beauty that is me.
All the while this was happening, my brain was screaming at me on the inside, "You are being a Class A sucker! Walk away! It is a gimmick...a ploy! You are a smart girl and you certainly know better than this. He doesn't care about you. He cares about his sales. It probably isn't even a real accent....and WHY are you letting a stranger hold your hand you idiot!"
My emotions, caught up in the allure of the moment, betrayed me and refused to listen to the voice of reason. Even as I was agreeing with my mind and thoughts, my hand was reaching into my pruse to pay for my new products.
Every time I sit down to buff up my nails, I think about the above scenario. My thoughts vary from character learning to blushing to a bit of embarrassment to a small smile.
Okay, so I am out $25. At least I have great hands.
(note to self: Honorable mention of blog post of the day by David. Oh my goodness!)
Monday, March 10, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
With my window up and cars going by, I could not hear their conversation but they were a sight to watch. The three brunette boys were pretty purposeful in their gaze and direction. They only spoke to each other when it seemed truly necessary. Maybe the dread of the Friday spelling test was floating around in each of their heads.
The two blondes were a bit different. The older brother stood with purpose in his shoulders. He watched the tale tell signs that would let him know when the time would be to use the crosswalk. As the opposing light turned from green to yellow, he reached down to take his little sister's hand. She in turn....pulled away and gave him an obvious and defiant look of, "I am not a child. I know how to walk." He took his eyes away from the light and looked down at her, saying not a single word. Their eyes met, locked, and time ticked away. Then very slowly, the little girl put her hand back into his bigger one and she timidly leaned against his side as they prepared to cross the street.
Life and relationships are all around us. It is a continual blessing. All we have to do is take the time to look.
Hmmm, maybe sitting at the base of this tower made them really electric after all.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
This is the way I remember it........
When I was 13, my parents separated and then later divorced. I remember getting up to get ready for school one morning and my parents had my little brother and I sit down on the couch for a family talk. They said that Dad was moving out but that we didn't need to worry. He would still be around and we would be able to spend lots of time with him. Above all we were told to keep in mind that what was happening was not our fault and we were greatly loved.
Then they asked if we had any questions or had anything we wanted to say.
We didn't. My parents had always done a great job of protecting us from their frustrations and heart breaks, but we knew anyway. We just wanted them to be happy. And frankly, between Dad having to devote much of his time to work and the fact that he wasn't an emotionally expressive man....living at home with just mom didn't appear to look much different.
When school got out for the summer, my mom, brother, and I moved across the country to Oregon to live with and to care for my Nana. I started high school that year. (Ah, that time when all tweens and teens really struggle with their identity. Does anyone NOT look back and shudder at that time of their lives?)
Up until that point I had been an awkward freckle-faced red-head with glasses. Wearing thick glasses and dealing with a bit of childhood asthma left me with a huge sense of 'no coordination'. There was not a single sport that I could even pretend to do. Those kinds of circumstances just beg for name calling in the elementary school world. Most frequently, I was named Pippi Longstocking by my peers. Of course, the name was solely because of my red hair and not because of the strength and individuality that Pippi was known for.
Today I laugh and think it is so not a big deal, but as a budding adolesent, it was awful! So, I looked at the move as a new lease on life. No longer was I going to be around anyone that knew me as being backwards or dorky or un-cool.
I decided to do what society told me to do…..look like everyone else. I got my hair styled, I took full advantage of my Nana wanting to shower me with love by buying all new clothes, I learned how to wear makeup. and then I casually “lost” my glasses. I was so blind that I couldn’t see what I looked like without them, but I just knew that not having glasses was an important factor to really being liked and popular in high school.
I tried everything, and I really do mean everything, that I thought would make me popular and give me a new life. I soon learned though that a strategy like that will backfire in your face. I earned a reputation and that reputation grew bigger than me. Not only was I labeled for things that I had done but I was labeled for things that I had not done. You know, that is how things go. One person says something about someone else and pretty soon the talk of the town is larger than truth.
Halfway thru my 9th grade year, I figured I just didn’t even need to bother anymore. I had no goals, things weren’t working out the way I had wanted them to, I was always grounded, and I had a 1.57 accumulative GPA. I decided it would be easier to just stop living. I had thoughts like, “if I die then all the people who didn’t bother to care might care. Maybe if I could look down in the sky and see all the people at my funeral, that would bring me satisfaction."
I know, you are shocked at my thought process. There is no logic in it and revolves totally around my selfish moments...but that is where I was at. I was bored with myself and couldn't see past the end of my own nose.
So, one night before bed, I decided to swallow a whole bottle of Tylenol. Maybe you laugh at that, but I thought I was doing a brave thing. I awoke during the night to my mom and step-dad wanting to talk with me. She had found a letter that I had written to a friend and left on the bathroom counter. I had written it to be a suicide note, but I had worded it so vague that it sounded like I was just going away. Of course, my mom wanted to know where in the world I was going and talked to me thru half the night about getting my life straight. Didn't I know how much I was loved?
I sat there on the floor, respectfully listening….because that is what I was taught to do. But inside I thought, why am I not dead? I had no stomach pains, no dizziness, nothing that I thought I should be doing after taking a bottle of pills. I thought, good grief! I am so pathetic! I can’t even do that right!
Little did I know how greatly God was watching over me, before I even paid Him any attention. Let’s jump forward for a minute to 13 years later and I'll explain why I say that........
I was sitting at home and talking on the phone trying to encourage a friend whose grand daughter was in ICU for taking too much Tylenol. I thought it was really an odd thing to be in ICU for. I mean, I should know right? So I asked her respectfully what the problem was. My friend said that though Tylenol can be a great thing for helping headaches and pains, if taken in too big of a dose, it makes the internal organs weep of blood. There are no holes for a doctors to plug. The person simply bleeds internally and the doctors can do nothing about it. They stand by helplessly watching and monitoring, hoping that the body can filter out the abundance of poison before it gives up.
So here I am trying to console my friend and pray with her because her grand daughter matters, while on the inside I am freaking out thinking, “I shouldn't be here right now! I could have never had my family, never been a mommy, never moved on and experienced all of the wonderful things that I have experienced! God I know you have always cared for me but I had no idea how you protected me when I didn’t even give you the time of day!”
At this point in my sharing, I branched off into some different things that flowed with the moment. But for your sake, I am sure you would like a bit more closure to this part of the story......
So back to me sitting there on the floor, absorbed in self and failure while listening to my mom. I sat there for so long that my legs had completely fallen asleep. I didn't say a word to my mom about the things going on in my head or what I had just done. Instead, I angelicly convinced her that I had indeed heard her words and needed to go to bed so I could be a good student at school the next day. She then gave up and consented for our talk to be finished.
As I was standing up, my sleeping legs failed me and I started to buckle to the floor. Instantly my mom and step-dad were at my side to catch me. Mom looked into my eyes, with tears falling down her face she said, "See, we are here for you. We always will be. You never have to feel like you are doing things alone."
Something clicked in my head and thought process after that. I couldn't tell you if it was that pivitol moment or a build up of a series of things. But, I slowly started thinking over time that if I couldn't do bad things well then I might as well try to do good things well.
I didn't get it all right emediately. Really, no one ever gets it ALL right ever. But here I am today so grateful that God had other plans for a selfish little girl.
Oh and that pathetic GPA my freshman year.....
I graduated high school with a scholarship for "Most Improved Student" with a 3.57 accumulative GPA.
If you are interested in what I shared last night, I can post it later this afternoon. Right now, we are getting ready to go to a job fair at the local college. I think it is time to expose our teens to that kind of a situation and possibly line themselves up for a summer job.
au revoir mon ami!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I am excited and nervous all at the same time.
By nature, I prefer not to be center of attention. Sure for the past 18 years I have taught kids classes and trained teachers. But that all seems different in my mind somehow.
A handful of years ago, I was the "cruise director" for a local steamboat that took tourists along the downtown waterfront.
(Yes I was daily thrown jokes about The Love Boat and where were Gopher, Doc, Isaac, and Captain Stubing.)
In doing that job, I did become more comfortable with those center of attention things like holding a microphone, making jokes, commanding an audience with visual ease....but it is still not my prefered spot.
But I keep reminding myself that I am not going to be sharing anything tonight that is world changing or debatable, rocket science and realative theory are not the topics of discussion. Instead, the focus will be my testimony of life and some of the things that I have learned as I have stumbled around.
It is my testimony, my life, and my experiences. I share pieces of me every day. That is easy.
I couldn't resist getting my little cell phone out to sieze some of the images into memory.
It is still winter here. The frost and chill of 35 degree weather was crisp in the morning breeze.
As I watched the veil of fog lift off the landscape, question in my mind begged for an answer.
How can anyone on Earth see the beauty and uniqueness of life, labeling it as chance evolution, and doubt the existence of a creator?