Monday, July 31, 2006

What's Been Happening...

3 of my 4 amazing kids were in a Musical Day Camp held by a local Baptist Church. My 2 oldest daughters auditioned for drama/singing parts and got them. The musical was called 'Donkey Tales'- it's all about donkeys in the Bible stories and what you can learn from them. It was a western theme- they wore jeans, red t-shirts and bandanas. The girls both nailed their solos, while my son preferred to stay in a more behind-the-scenes role doing puppets, stage work and group singing. I was very proud of them and of some other children we know who were also involved. They really did well. :o)

Last week I literally wore myself out at the YMCA. Taught a total of 12 classes- we need the money!! My feet were sore and though I hate to admit it, I majorly overdid it. Friday night it felt like I was coming down with something. Sure enough, woke up Sat. morning with a raging sore throat. NOT GOOD considering Jay & I had a full concert to do that evening, during which they were taking up a collection toward our CD. Being a stubburn (I mean determined) soul, I put off being sick until after we did the concert. Then I crashed & burned- totally exhausted! Got on a 'Z' pack right away and think I've kicked the Upper Respiratory part, now I'm simply tired. Gotta perk up though, because tonight is a photo shoot for MofM. My husband, (who is far less outgoing in life) has been begging for us to slow down. We've had planning meetings for this & that for several weeks now and barely an evening to ourselves just to chill out with the kids. It's taking a toll on all of us, so we're going to have to back off on our activity level. The hard part is deciding what to cut out, since we enjoy supporting numerous programs & organizations. Anyway, we're working on cutting back a bit. Had some company this weekend, friends came down for the concert & stayed overnight. Was really good to see them! Sorry I wasn't able to be a better hostess!!

This morning and the rest of the week I'm subbing for another instructors Dance Aerobics class. Thought I was well enough and could handle it okay this morning, so went in and gave it my best shot. However, because of how congested I am- even my ears- I was dizzy & felt weak after about 15 mins. I ended up standing off to the side calling out the steps instead of leading out. NOT good. One lady was so upset about having a sub. that she left before we even got started. Can't blame her. I don't like having sub instructors, so why should they? I'm going to do my best this week. I'm a good dancer, but when you have to get up there, do the dance and call out the steps ahead of time, it gets pretty hard. I'd rather teach Step-Aerobics anyday! I'll probably not excel at teaching this class, but I'm getting paid for it- gotta keep plugging away at it.

Right now, I wish I could just go curl up in my bed and SLEEP....

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Life Is...

Life is a gift. Not only for our own use, but also to be a blessing to others.

Life is an adventure. Sometimes life is like a picnic in the shade of towering pine trees on the bank of a gently flowing river. Or it may be like being on a boring treadmill. Other times it will be like a wild roller coaster ride.

Life is a mystery. We never know all of the answers. Trust God to do the right thing.

Life is a game. We win some and lose some. But things work out better when we know and follow the rules.

Life is a struggle. The going is not always easy, but God promises to be with us and gives the strength to carry on. Claim that promise.

Life is beauty. There is beauty all around us. Take time to enjoy and savor it.

Life is about loving. Honoring God. Accepting & developing ourselves. Investing in those around us.

Life is circumstances. We cannot change the circumstances, seasons, or the wind. But we can, by the choices we make, overcome adversity, and use it as a stepping stone instead of a stumbling block.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Guess Who Showed Up??

I have a little buddy up in Maryland named Ian. I've been writing to him and his parents for several months now. You see, he's 9 years old and suffering terribly after a mysterious growth formed on his brainstem. They went in and took it out, but apparently it's growing back now and he isn't doing very well at all... I went to school with Ian's Mom & Dad and we were very good friends.
They have now accumulated a HUGE amount in medical bills. Someone who cared organized a fundraiser. Each participant paid $20 to be involved. I'm happy to say my non-church-going brother rode in this charity drive. He told me all about it. Guess who showed up?? About 15 people from the local churches and hundreds of other people- yep- rough biker types in leather & chains. I'm NOT surprised. Don't let all that tough talk, leather & metal fool you, biker guys are really softies on the inside- especially when it comes to little kids. Do you know how much Beer $20 will buy? Yet they gladly spent that money on Ian because his family needs help. My brother said these hairy, pierced men & tattoed women stood in line in their leathers in the hot sun for hours just for a chance to meet Ian & say "hi" to his folks. My brother's voice cracked as he told me the story and I get choked up just thinking about it. They raised over $10,000 in one day! God bless them!!! My brother asked these guys how they found out about the ride and they said they saw posters in many of the local bars. Hmmm, someone was willing to go into forbidden territory to make an invitation. Good for them!! To visit Ian's web page & see some pictures of the ride visit the link below. Keep this little guy in your prayers:

I often wonder, what would Jesus be like if He showed up today? Would we recognize Him any better now than they did way back in history? Would He be all sqeaky clean in a 3 piece suit throwing around big theology and courting the wealthy? Doubt it. Bet He wouldn't be very popular in the church if He came today. He would probably go to some church services, but during the week He'd most likely be found hanging with the whinos, whores and druggies. He wouldn't be out handing them religious pamphlets either. He'd be handing out Filet 'o Fish sandwiches & bottled water to the homeless. He would sit there compassionately listening to their stories. I can picture Him watching over a Heroine addict lying in a daze on a back street. Maybe He would stop and usher stray dogs off the road. Perhaps as you pass the hospital room of an Aids victim, you might catch a glimpse of The Christ sitting on the edge of the bed speaking tender words of forgiveness to the dying. I imagine Jesus would offer His coat to the drunk who sits on the corner in the rain. If Jesus were here today, though I am poor, I know He would come to my house and have dinner with me. He would let me bathe His feet with my tears. You see, He loves "losers" the most. The ones who have been abused, cast out and walked all over. He loves the people who seem to have it together, but the ones who feel hopeless are the ones He runs to the most. (That's what that word downtrodden means in the Bible) Even though He would have the ability to work miracles, He wouldn't benefit Himself or promote a political agenda. He would simply be a nice guy who smiles at people, winks at children and embraces the hurting. The reckless, healing love of Christ sees past a rough exterior to the core of who we are. Maybe if He were here today he would ride a Harley...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cuts Both Ways...

I learned early on that there are two sides to every story. Living through my parents two painful divorces taught me there is never a human side that is 100% foolproof and 100% right. Perhaps God let it be this way lest we become arrogant? I have a deep ability to feel both sides of the same story. Life can be very painful living this way and the sorrow can be overwhelming at times. I have a hard time standing up for myself sometimes because I can see the other side of the issue. However, if I don't take a stand & draw healthy boundaries nobody else is going to stand up for me.

So here I am, a citizen of the United States. I was born here, my children were born here and I love my country. I love the freedoms, opportunities and values that are STILL present and upheld by a large population. (Contrary to all the BAD press the war in the Middle East has brought us- Americans are NOT the great Satan. I'll stand up to anyone who says we are.) So, yes, I am somewhat patriotic and not ashamed to admit it. I love our troops and I support their families who are living without them while they serve in the desert. For those who have never been able to visit, the US is a beautiful country full of diversity. Our highway system is amazing! The landscape is gorgeous with everything from barren deserts and cascading mountain ranges, to rolling hills, flowing praries and ocean views. I don't agree with everything my President does. I don't agree with all the political games and tactics used overseas. But I am American and will remain so until my dying day.

However, I also feel for those accused who sit hopelessly in Guantanamo Bay having been denied the right to due process judicially. I weep for the mothers who bury their children after rockets go astray and hit civilian dwellings. My heart aches for those living in the worst imagineable conditions because of war. If I could give blankets, shoes & rice to refugees, I most certainly would. However, I'm just barely able to feed my family. I wept for days after seeing a photo and reading the story of an Iraqi man who buried his entire family in one day. His parents, siblings, wife & 5 children. Does hearing of this not stir some kind of compassion in your heart as well? People are people. We may look different, we may worship in different ways, but pain is pain and our blood all runs the same color. Does an Afghan mother grieve any less intensely when her son is killed than the mother of a firefighter in New York? The knife cuts both ways- at times my heart trembles inside me.

I am a strong believer in ethics. I believe it is God who enables human compassion, mercy, and unity of heart & spirit. Jesus Christ was called "A Man of Sorrows'. Why? Because He loved ALL people and felt their pain, He humbled Himself and became of no reputation in order to reach the poor, heal the sick and befriend the outcasts. "Jesus wept" and I love Him for it. In a way, its a priviledge to hurt for the suffering of others. The Christ was no promoter of Religion as far as denomination goes. He was respectful of Jewish beliefs, but it was not His intention to preserve their religious culture with all it's exactings. His mission was not to make the Jews strong and prosperous conquerers over the Romans. He promoted something higher, better, something only God above can give... a humble heart that gives and loves with genuine concern- no strings attatched. This is the path I choose and I seek to learn how to live this better each day. There are those who stand opposed to my journey saying, "Do not try to think for yourself- it's dangerous and you will end up confused. Listen to us and we will rightly guide you." they say. But I have never been so clear in all my life! The Truth, The Way and The Life are found in God alone- not in any one organization. There has been an awakening in me that I cannot deny. It has been both devastating and liberating at the same time. Letting go of my confidence in an organization and putting myself in the hands of Almighty God is one of the scariest things I've ever done. If you take an old rusted out automobile and slap several coats of paint on it to make it look good, underneath it's still an old rusty car. I need to be re-made from the inside out. There are too many unloving, do-gooders. These are the kind who do kindness for recognition and feel justified in pointing fingers at others.

There are no perfect people. There is NO perfect country or government. There is no perfect church here on earth. In the end, I will not be judged on my citizenship or my church membership. I will be judged on how well I loved. Merciful God, help me on this journey!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fundamentalism Can Be Dangerous!

Jimmy Carter on Religio-political Fundamentalism:

"There is a remarkable trend toward fundamentalism in all religions- including the different denominations of Christianity as well as Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Increasingly, "true believers" are inclined to begin a process of deciding: 'Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail. Anyone who disagrees with me is inherently 'wrong'. The next step is to view others as 'inherently inferior'. The ultimate step is to consider others as 'subhuman', then their lives are not significant. That tendency has created, throughout the world, intense religious conflicts. Those Christians who resist the inclination toward fundamentalism and who truly follow the nature, actions, and words of Jesus Christ should encompass people who are different from us with care, generousity, forgiveness, compassion, and unselfish love. It is not easy to do this.

It is natural human inclination to encapsulate ourselves in a superior fashion with people who are just like us- and to assume that we are fulfilling the mandate of our lives if we just confine our love to our own family or to people who are similar and compatible. Breaking through this barrier and reaching out to others is what should personify a Christian and what emulates the perfect example that Christ set for us." - Excerpt from 'Our Endangered Values'

This passage comes from a Christian man with an amazing worldview who has often been misjudged and misunderstood. I highly respect former President Carter and agree with the point he's making here.

Viva Diversity!

"Diversity raises the intelligence of groups." - Nancy Kline
Have you ever noticed when people shut themselves away from mingling with others, they become narrow, rigid and judgemental? Classic example- religio/political conservatives who create communes or go off to live in remote areas. Remember Waco? Enough said! The purpose is to be shielded from interaction with anyone who thinks differently. This is based on a false assumption that they alone know the truest path in life and mingling with anyone else of another persuasion will somehow pollute them. (This is PRIDE under the guise of "righteous living", "caution" & "discernment".
I homeschooled my children for years- for the most part, I enjoyed it. Homeschool can be a VERY positive and bonding experience for families. But children need exposure to a variety of people & ways of thinking on a regular basis or their ideas & mannerisms become painfully inbred. I'm sure you've met naive, mal-adjusted children before. I've seen it first-hand many times. Parents wring their hands and weep, "We did everything right, where did we go wrong"? I feel for these people. (I was nearly convinced at one point to become a seclusionist) Often well-meaning parents who feel their views are far superior to anyone else's hide their kids away. Their children finally grow up and are able to get out on their own- but often CRACK under the pressure of facing society. They either go wild in rebellion or retreat back to their private, padded little worlds. Diversity & exposure to basic elements of life are important!
Consider the case of the germa-phobic parents who constantly disinfected everything from toys, doorknobs, hands- even the bottoms of their shoes. They wouldn't allow any pets for fear of contamination. The poor kids even had to wear masks when they were outside the sanitized household. They grew up to be sick all the time. Why? Their immune systems were under-developed. Having never dealt with germs that normal people face on a daily basis, they were simply weak. Overly sanitary living and shielding kids from every form of worldliness/temptation doesn't teach them how to make good choices. They must learn to choose rightly while still under the guidance of loving parents. This involves a little exposure and (scary as it is) it means encouraging the children to think for themselves. Pass on core values- yes! However, our duty as parents is not to make little carbon-copy replicas of ourselves that mirror all our exact preferences. We are to raise healthy, balanced, functional children who will enter society and make a difference.
A scientific example of the need for diversity is that of the purebred dog. Take a breed with good genetics overall, and over breed it with other dogs of similar genetic make-up- you end up with genetic disease & malformation. Some ethical breeders I know import dogs from overseas to keep canine bloodlines from becoming too inbred.
Long ago in the Hawaiian isles, people came from the same basic genetic pool. They had a beautiful culture, but realized outside "influences" were needed. History tells us that parents of young island girls would often try to arrange "encounters" with sailors, fishermen & missionaries who visited in order to ensure the propogation of a healthier lineage.
I'm going WAY against the grain in saying this, but I sure wonder what purpose religious denominations serve other than to divide us. Why didn't the Jews of old get along with Samaritans? Why can't Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans get along? Or Catholics and Adventists?? These are all Christian people, but when was the last time you saw them have a picnic together or join efforts for a good cause?? Why don't Shia & Sunni Muslims get along? It is the same God they worship.
Bottom line? We need each other. We need outside influences spiritually & culturally. Rather than dismiss anyone who doesn't think the way we do, perhaps we should carefully examine values, beliefs and practices of others. What is there to fear? What do we have to lose by doing so??

Friday, July 21, 2006

I Love Culture

Today I was introduced to Masala Bhangra. This is folk-dancing that originated in Punjab, Northern India. Bhangra began as a form of celebration for harvests, births and weddings. It's relatively easy to do and is a great workout. In the past, this dance was mainly performed by men, but now women participate as well . Sarina Jain is the fitness instructor who really popularized it as a workout here in the States. The music is bouncy, you can't listen to it and be still. There's nothing sexual about dancing this way. The official attire is colorful and modest- wearing Indian tunics with loose pants. I'm adding Bhangra to my list of cultural dances to learn. As I've mentioned in the past, I greatly enjoy Square Dancing- which is an American Folk Dance.

Every culture has it's own dance. This is a healthy bonding activity- although I was raised to believe that any and ALL forms of dancing are evil. One day I simply let go of my inhibitions and realized the body was created for dance. We have a built-in sense of rhythm. Instead of fearing and suppressing this ability, we should celebrate, develop and utilize it. Most of the people who condemn all forms of dance are paranoid of paganism and human sexuality. They overlook the health & community benefits of cultural dance. In the past, dancing was a strong part of community. I enjoyed participating in Native American dance at a Friendship Fire several years ago. No- they weren't worshipping Satan, they were dancing for The Creator. Dance weaves people together as they celebrate life. My eyes well up as I watch videos of smiling people being joyful. It's a beautiful thing!

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says, "There is a time for everything under the sun..... a time to dance and a time to mourn". To say that it is only figurative speech doesn't make any sense. Today many condemn dance, but certainly don't frown on people who cry when they are sad. So I dance before God, to worship, to grieve and to celebrate His goodness. I dance at the gym, I dance at weddings, I dance around the living room with my children. Something happens when I am in motion, my heart opens- I feel alive.

There is so much gloom in this world! I will dance in the face of sadness.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Winning Them Over!

I've been instructing at the YMCA since May. It's been challenging, but a lot of fun. My biggest challenge has been taking over 2 classes from a VERY popular instructor who moved away. Believe me, it's much easier to start a brand new class than to take over for someone else. Filling Beth's shoes has not been easy. For one, the girl was a machine!! She was in her early 40's and had longer to build back up after babies than me. So there's a small group of ladies (set in their ways) who constantly complain about my classes. The music is too loud- NO the music is too soft, I'm working them too hard- NO wait, I'm not challenging them enough. There's a happy medium. I don't get angry when people give me feedback. It's valuable to know where you stand, but it's frustrating to do your best to please them when they are never satisfied. One lady quit my Pilates class altogether. The rest have stuck with it and one by one I'm winning them over. Feels good! I just keep smiling, being pleasant and enjoying what I'm doing- this week I have gotten GREAT feedback from my boss. YEAH!! I am back in the groove now-feeling stronger and more confident. I love every person who comes through the doors of that gym- from the die-hards to the beginners.
Subbing has been tough as I go in and put a class through it's paces- often without prior time with them. I'm thankful for the well-rounded training I've had. Subbed for Muscle Conditioning class yesterday morning for one of the most kick-butt instructors. INTIMIDATING! I've taught strength classes before- no problem. However, during the entire hour, the class was very quiet. Usually, I get some who-hooos when they feel the burn, but I got nothing. Just kept leading out and sweating my tail off thinking, "Man, they're hatin' me", but after class 4 ladies came up and said, "Thanks- that was really awesome"! I was SO happy to hear that!! :o)

Tuesday after my Interval Cardio class a smiling older woman came up to me and said, "I really enjoyed your class. You got me sweatin' like crazy- my heart was really pounding. That was the most alive I have felt in the last 5 years since my husband died." She went on to tell me how her man Jackson died leaving her with 3 young boys to raise alone. I was able to listen, cry a little with her and encouraged her to come to class again. Sure enough, today Debbie was back! She's pretty rusty- her endurance level is low, but she works in the back with this big grin on her face the whole time.
Another client of interest is Gregory. He's such a great sport! You see, he lost a leg and walks with a prosthetic limb. He attends my Pilates class regularly to develop a stronger core and balance so he can get around better. THIS IS WHY I AM IN FITNESS. If I'm able- even in some small way to help someone live a better life, be healthier and know they are not alone, then my life is worth something...

(PS. Is anyone else having difficulty posting pictures to their blog? Can't seem to get any photos to display!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Words Are Not Enough...

Sometimes things just fall together in life. There are moments when I sense that everything is okay. At times I stand alone beneath the moonlight with an open soul and there is this 'knowing' as Divinity draws very near. When my heart feels overwhelmed with adoration for the Living God, words are simply not enough to say what I feel...

How can you express a hunger so great that it threatens to consume you? On the rare and wonderful occasion when two hearts connect in a very intimate way, when there are no barriers between two souls, physically or emotionally, words are unable to describe the elation of the moment... if only it happened more.... if only it could last...

How can you speak the feeling of satisfaction and pride experienced when holding a newborn baby, or after completing the building of your very own home? How do you verbalize the immense gratitude you feel when someone is good to you??

When it feels like the world is crashing down around my head, when I witness tragedy and feel the weight of devastation, when circumstances beyond my control break in and steal my joy there is no adequate way to say what the pain is like...

Life seems to be comprised in waves of joy and pain. Whether I experience feast or famine, miracle or desparation,
words are beautiful, words are harsh and words are never enough... this is when my heart speaks through laughter or tears.

Almighty God, let me feel Your great love. Bless me softly for a while, I am trying to learn Your wisdom. Let me dance before You and celebrate Your goodness. My words will always be inadequate.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Trailady Likes...

Okay, it's the Favs game & I've been tagged for this- actually found it fun!

Fav. Dessert - Breyers Choco-mint Chip with magic shell on top
Fav. Treat - Gum, Skittles, Good-n-Plenty, Cheetos or anything from Smoothie King
Fav. Outfit - Jeans & button-down shirts with boots or flops, workout clothes
Fav. Shoes - Ryka sneakers, Ariat boots- which are just as comfortable as sneaks (hate high-heels!)
Fav. Wheels- Dodge trucks & I go through phases where I really want a motorcycle
Fav. Animal(s) - Dogs & Horses
Fav. Male Celeb - Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Matt McConaughey (cutest & most buff- great ABS!!)
Fav. Female Celeb - Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close
Fav. Vacation Spot(s) - Breckinridge, CO., Yellowstone National Park and Hayden Lake, Idaho
Fav. Places U Visited - Virginia City, Montana- a ghost town, San Antonio Texas
Places U Want 2 Visit - Hawaii, Italy, Austria, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Iraq
Fav. Job Ever- Working Christian Summer Camps in a variety of roles
Fav. Movie(s) - Forest Gump, Sound of Music, Anne of Green Gables, Man from Snowy River, LOTR's Trilogy
Fav. Music - I'm VERY eclectic! Techno, Hip-hop or Metal for workouts, Country. Christian, Folk, Classical
Fav. Band(s) - Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, U2, Chicago, Mr. Mister
Fav. Book(s) - Bible, Little House On the Prairie, Pilgrim's Progress and many more
Fav. Friend(s) - Not listing names- someone's bound to be left out. I love a lot of people!
Fav. Season - Fall & Spring- don't like Summer/Winter too extreme
Fav. Fantasy Character - I'm not sure- maybe Galadriel or Eowyn from LOTR's??
Fav. Color(s) - Periwinkle, Blues, Greens, Black
Fav. Day of the Week - Saturdays
Fav. Holiday(s) - Thanksgiving- it's not as commercialized as other holidays
Fav. Sport(s) 2 Play - Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Field Hockey
Fav. Sport(s) 2 Watch- Beach Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Equestrian Events
Fav. Position on the Field - Whatever keeps moving! I liked playing right half-back in soccer
Fav. Position in Bed - On my back with one leg out of the covers- I'm always hot at night
Fav. Jewelry - White Gold or Silver, petite and simple shell or pearl ornaments
Fav. Drink(s)- Aquafina, Half-n-half Iced Tea
Fav. Blog Buddies 2 Tag- Brian, Royce, Kristen, Jody or anyone else who wants to play?

Monday, July 17, 2006

What is Optimism Anyway??

I always regarded myself as an Optimist. Okay, don't laugh, but someone once told me that I could make gold out of a cowpie. I tend to look for the best in people and believe in their potential. I'm open-hearted and try to make the best of every situation. This has become harder to do in recent years. I still believe happiness is a choice, but what can you do when you are too weak & empty to choose it? I love nothing better than to laugh, love, dance and be joyful, but what do you do when life rarely presents such opportunities?? Through the many trials I've experienced, I always pushed through, remaining hopeful that if I just hang on a little longer, things will get better. Does God honor this perseverance?? I'm tempted to wonder, "what if things don't ever get better What then?? Do I have the endurance to keep smiling and moving forward anyway? Do I have the emotional/spiritual energy to keep investing in dead-end relationships and dreams that evade me"?

People say that an Optimist always sees the glass as half-full while a Pessimist sees the glass half-empty. A Realist looks at the water in the cup and says, "It is what it is". Being an Optimist doesn't mean you are immune to pain, it simply means you will not allow it to paralyze your heart. It means you will fight against emotional lock-down. I've always looked at the half-full glass wishing it could be fuller, knowing if the right opportunities came along, then perhaps things could be much better and the glass could display it's full potential. There's a lot to be said for those who make the best of their situation, but what of those (like me) who see what the situation COULD BE under the right circumstances, but isn't? I suppose at this point in my life I'm beginning to grieve what could've been. Don't want to surrender to discouragement, but I often feel like an untapped resource. Someone who had a lot of ideas, passion and raw potential that was barely utilized and never developed. Life has floored me, but I'm not the only person who has ever felt this. I believe it's called a mid-life crisis and yes women have them too.
Today I realized something about myself- as far back as I can remember, I have been trying to out-run who I am. Trying to rise above the meager family history and financial status I was born into. I've never been able to accept mediocrity and have strived for excellence- in school, fitness, music, or in giving to relationships. There's always been this underlying sense of inadequacy in me. Looking around at some of the people I knew, I remember feeling sad for them- wishing they could have better lives and I'd say to myself, "If I just try hard enough, that won't be me." Well, here I am in my 30's and rather than see things get better, it only seems to get worse on every front. The stakes are much higher now as there are 4 children who will suffer the result of my failures. I feel that because I've tried so hard to be something better, if I fall on my face there will be people who secretly delight in my brokenness. I've heard the bashing people receive for trying to rise above it all. Few are brave enough to try, but they will lash out at anyone who IS willing to take the risk.
I know the depth of my own weakness- it ain't pretty. Sometimes life is easier behind a mask- God knows there are plenty of plastic people to join in with. I have seen who I am and as painful as this reality is, I can't imagine going back into the matrix of self-delusion. You know, the kind that says, "I'm A-okay because I go to church every week, vote Republican and pay tithe."

How do we accept our own futility and still find the strength to keep going??? Here's a video from one of my favorite bands. I have played this song repeatedly in recent weeks- GOOD STUFF:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My "Interesting" Life!!

Last Sunday I got stopped by a policeman for the first time EVER. I was watching a guy ahead of me on a sweet bike and wasn't watching my speed. Uh- the cop nailed me going 62 in a 45. (Had no idea what the speed limit was on this country road!) When the flashing lights came up behind me, I pulled over right away. He walked up, told me he needed to see my license, vehicle registration & proof of insurance. I said, "Officer, I've never been pulled over, so just tell me what to do and I'll do it." I gave him my license, and started digging through the glove box to find what he needed. When he came back, I was sweating bullets & handed him what I thought was registration/proof of insurance. He kind of chuckled and said, "Ma'am, this is a nice van and all, but you don't have to give it to me." Guess I looked confused. He said, "This is your title- it shouldn't even be in your glove box." (Well, I didn't put it in there! Boy did I feel DUMB!!) I asked if I could call my husband to find out where the requested items were. He said, "Look, we can do this one of two ways. 1) I can write you a fine for $150 or 2) You can flash me those big baby blues one more time, promise to drive safe and I'll let you go. Well, I looked him right in the eye, smiled really big and promised I'd be good. He told me to have a nice day and to drive safer from now on so he wouldn't have to scrape me up off the pavement. Can you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?!
Had the van looked at again and everything seems to be okay now. An uptake valve was jammed and caused the engine to cut out on me while I was going downhill on the highway. For what seemed like a very long moment, the steering column and the brakes locked up while the engine revved like nobody's business & the RPM's were outta sight! I was able to kick it back into reality and get off the side of the road. My hands were trembling- I was really shaken up! Was able to make it home again going under 20 mph with hazards on. A good friend had to come pick me up, drive me to MofM practice. Later in the week he & his wife gave us some money toward getting the van fixed- nice people! Monday, a mechanic removed the gunk that was causing the malfunction and sent me on my way. He told me it would cost $350 to replace the part, but that if I would take it easy on the engine, it shouldn't be any problem now... guess we'll see... needless to say I won't be gunning the engine!

We drove up to Lake Tansi this weekend to see my step-sister and her husband. They were staying in a timeshare condo this week and were kind enough to invite us up for a day. We arrived Sat. evening, ate supper, stayed overnight, then spent a day swimming/boating. It was nice and the kids were so cute to watch! My husband slept the entire time we were out on the boat. (Not sure if he was bored or just plain exhausted. Sometimes I worry about his health, he sure does sleep a lot when he should be enjoying us and having fun! At times I'm insecure- is he so unhappy with the life he has with me that he is escaping? The thought is painful- I try to dismiss it, but one has to wonder sometimes...)
The kids had a great time jumping in and fishing off the pontoon- didn't catch anything, but enjoyed trying. Couldn't have asked for better weather- not too hot or humid. It was PERFECT!! Made everybody pancake & eggs breakfast and did clean-up this morning. Did my best to connect & make conversation. Not only are we step-siblings 8 years apart in age, we are very different personalities. She was nice and accommodating, but after a while I started to realize I'm the one making most of the effort for conversation and I was running out of things to say- then there's this awkward silence... Oh well, as long as the kids had a nice time- that's all that matters I guess. Enjoyed a beautiful drive through the mountains up and back. Made me long for a motorcycle...

My man got a $3 raise! Yep, you read it right- after a week of being on the job, his boss noticed what a skilled worker he is and bumped him up. I'm proud of him! After 10 yrs of working a desk job, Jay is simply not used to the exertion. They start work at 6:30am and get off at 3:00pm. My man heads home & crashes on the couch for several hours at a time. Guess his body will get used to it eventually.

Put the kids to bed early tonight. They are participating in music day camp all next week & performing in a musical next weekend. Our 2 oldest daughters auditioned for drama/singing parts and got them, so they'll be working hard. Can't wait to see the performance. I love performing arts and they seem to have a passion for it as well. My littlest daughter will be tagging along with me again- poor girl is just not old enough to do what the others do yet.

Well, that's it. I'm headed to bed. Hope you had a good weekend! :o)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gonna Take That Mountain!

Who exactly is Trailady?? Since I stand accused of being a manic and pathetic whiner- here you go- a snapshot of my overall attitude in life- it's gotten me this far...

Yeah, I'm sorting things out right now. Yes, I feel pain and loneliness- it shakes me down to the core sometimes, and yes I'm comfortable expressing myself when I'm happy OR hurting- there's NO sin in that. I really enjoy this video and as you watch it, you'll see why Trailady has back/neck problems. Oh yes, I've done my share of flying through the air like the cowgirl in this video. I am no longer reckless since another injury like I had back in 1997 would be devastating- not only to me, but to my family as well.

Now 'Anonymous' I'm really a lover, not a fighter, and I said you don't deserve a response, but you have insulted not only me, but my family during a time of mourning. I can TAKE you, sweetie if you want to bring it! (Oops, just remember I work in a gym while you are working your "real" job.) How's that optimism for ya?! Here's another spunky redhead sayin' it like it is in one of my favorite songs ever:

Passing Away...

Today my grandfather George Campbell was taken off life support. Both of his lungs are full of fluid now, so it's only a matter of minutes, hours or days.... I have written about this man in the past, so I won't go on and on. I am German/Irish on my father's side and Scotch/Irish on my mothers. I am from the Scotland clan known as the 'Fighting Campbells'- meaning my people long ago were warriors who defended their loved ones and territory with fierce passion. Some people mock me for being so interested in my heritage, but it's important to know who/where you came from. The past affects the future- whether we like it or not. The name Campbell means 'crooked mouth'- which refers to the slight pouty shape of our mouths as the corners of our mouth turn down. Both Grandpa & Great Grandpa had the tempers our family was so famous for, but they could also be quite warm and entertaining at times.

I have witnessed death & dying many times. I've experienced loss on many levels but I NEVER get used to it. Dying is part of life on this earth- but how it mocks us, pulling loved ones from our grasp. It's a difficult and helpless feeling to know that a part of you is dying and you are helpless to turn back the clock or change the eternal destination of a loved one. I do not understand my own sentimentalism. My sadness goes beyond the mere human level of feeling sorry because he is suffering and gasping for breath. I only knew my grandfather for 3 yrs, beyond that he was never in touch so why does it hurt so much? I loved him and in a way I'm proud to be part of him. Every time I look in the mirror, I see his big blue/gray eyes staring back at me. Grandpa George truly lived up to his heritage- he is a fighter. The last 20 yrs have plagued him with health problems. He was on the edge of death many times and we were afraid for him, but he pulled through. He is 86 and his passion for living is now overwhelmed by a tired mind and worn body. He is the last remaining blood Grandparent I have.
The most valuable lesson he modeled for me is to delight in simple things. He was a quiet, rugged man- a loner, with a simple house and farm in the country. He loved to fish, hunt and play pranks. Grandpa, I am thinking of you today. I hope to see you again in the Great Somewhere. May God, in His mercy, ease your passing...

George Eldon Campbell
Sept. 4, 1920 - July 12, 2006
WWII Veteran, served in France, England, Germany
Medal of honor and Purple Heart recipient
Second son of George Walter Campbell & Lily A. Cowell
He was preceded in death by his parents. Also by his first wife, Verlene 1916-1961 who died of a massive stroke at the age of 47, and by older brother Cloyde and older sister Loretta.
He is survived by sister Margeret 90, brother Royce 84, 3 daughters, 4 step-children and numerous grandchildren & great grandchildren.
He passed away this afternoon while several members of his family surrounded his bed singing hymns.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wow- I Couldn't Agree More!

Let it Go... by T. D. Jakes

There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk. Don't try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean mourn the loss, move on and invest yourself in new relationships. When people can walk away from you- let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that leaves you behind. People leave you because they are no longer joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay. Let them go. And it doesn't mean they are bad people, it just means that their part in your story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead. You've got to know when it's over.
Let me tell you something. I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-byes. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give to me. I'm not ashamed to invest in relationships, but if it takes too much sweat you don't need it. Stop begging people to stay. Let them go!!!
If you are holding on to someone or something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to ... LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to grudges ... LET IT GO!!!
If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth... LET IT GO!!!
If someone has angered you ... LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to thoughts of revenge ... LET IT GO!!!
If you are involved in a toxic relationship or harmful addiction ... LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or develops your talents ... LET IT GO!!!
If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better... LET IT GO!!!
If you're stuck in the past ... LET IT GO!!!
If you have gone the extra mile to heal a broken relationship with no results... LET IT GO!
If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves... LET IT GO!!!
If you're feeling stressed, find a way to .... LET IT GO!!!
If there's a particular situation that you are used to handling yourself and God is saying "take your hands off of it," then you need to... LET IT GO!!!
Let the past be the past. Forget the former things. Do a new thing for you!!! LET IT GO!!! Think about it, feel the pain, learn the lesson then LET IT GO!!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Love- No Strings Attached

So I've really been struggling with anger over my husband being fired after 11 years of faithful service to a ministry. I've been praying an awful lot lately. I'm not the kind who holds grudges and I don't like what toxic emotions do when retained in the heart. So I kept saying, "God, I'm angry, please take this anger and help me forgive". And I was still angry. So then I tried praying "God, why am I so angry? Why can't I let this go??". The answer came to me today as I was driving. There were strings attached to our service. At least on my part. Yes, we really believed in what we were doing, yes we worked for the greater good, but underneath there were little threads of expectation. You see, whenever we give of our time and energy expecting something in return it's like high stakes gambling. Let's say I pour my heart and soul into someone and they turn on me. What is my reaction? I tend to wallow in self-pity saying, "After ALL I did for them and look how they've treated me!" So, here's the question: why was I being nice? So I could pat myself on the back and think I was a good person?? Did I give so others would think I'm nice, or so I could convince myself I'm wonderful??? This is where I feel we humans often fall short. God loves because that's what He does. We tend to love because we want something out of it- at the very least some thanks and warm fuzzies. Brutal honesty here- I have bent over backwards in the past to please people and to win approval. If I tried my best and didn't get what I wanted in return, then I felt justified in turning my back. I've also had people invest in me for a time, but if they were disappointed in me they would move on. This is a fine example of selfishness. Now, I'm not saying we should stick around and let people be abusive or be co-dependant- that's a different story... But seriously, when was the last time you did something totally selfless?? Invite the neighbors over for a bar-b-que- even if they may never return the favor or mow their grass while they're on vacation- just because.
As I contemplated all this, I realized I was angry because our time at LifeTalk hadn't turned out the way we had hoped. Our ambitions were never realized and my feelings of disappointment were overwhelming. Now, I am strongly impressed to let it go. We gave ourselves in service mainly because we cared and wanted to make a difference- it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. So what! It doesn't cancel out everything we did or mean it was all a big waste of time. We grew through the experience. Humans give and expect a response or some kind of reward. Sometimes the response isn't what we want, so we pout like children. How much better would it be just to do what is good and leave the results up to God?
I'm trying to apply this knowledge to my life and it brings me such peace. I am cutting the strings. I want to love for the sake of loving, serve for the sake of serving. Give without expecting thanks- simply because it's good for us to be kind.

Acts 20:35 Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Successful Living...

"To live successfully, you have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."

- Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Wonder of It All...

Womanhood has been somewhat awkward for me- I've learned to accept it over time. (As a girl, I had some miserable role-models who made womanhood seem like a drudgery and something to be ashamed of.) Episodes of sexual abuse made me afraid of my body. For years, I tried hard to be good in sports, to walk & talk more like a guy. I wore baggy, frumpy clothes to hide my shape and starved myself for months on end in order to keep a boyish figure. I soon realized Mother Nature had other things in mind and there wasn't much I could do about it...

Then, when I was about ready to give up on love, I met a guy who latched on to my heart and took time to get to know my soul. Now God has blessed us with a son and three beautiful daughters. Between my own babies and those I've helped deliver over the years, I see how different most men & women are from the very start. My son was stronger- even while I carried him. His kicks & punches were vigorous- as I drew near to term with him, it became downright uncomfortable! From the moment he was born, he was masculine- both in his cry and in the way he held his head up, looking around as if he was ready to conquer the world. When he learned to walk, he was like a bull in a China shop. When he fell hard, he would grunt, get up and keep going. The girls were softer, sweeter and more cautious... 4 times life has come into this world through me- amazing! My children have taught me to accept the beauty of womanhood and that it's okay to be feminine.

Male & female. How I marvel at the way our bodies are designed and how they compliment each other. Man is stronger, more muscular, his skin & hair are more course. Every so often, I have this re-occurring nightmare and wake up trembling & feeling a terror that defies description. There's nothing more comforting than feeling the strong arms of my man wrap me up and hold me close. Woman is mighty in different ways. She is made to comfort and nurture, to receive a man and bear his children. Her heart is tender and she cries- not only for herself, but for the pain of others. She is soft in all the right places so it's comfortable to embrace her.

One of my favorite movies is 'The Legend of Johnny Lingo'- a sweet little story about an unwanted boy and a girl who is scorned for her unfavorable looks. As they grow, love develops between them. The boy soon leaves to try and find a better future for them both, promising he'll return. To make a long story short, he ends up giving 10 cows (the dowry for a princess) in order to marry the "ugliest girl in the village". Everyone thinks he's a fool, but years later when they see Mahana, she is beautiful and walks with purpose. She has lived up to the potential Johnny saw in her. The Evil One doesn't want any woman to feel beautiful or to understand her real worth. Someone took a chance on me and now I am able to feel valuable.

There are many women worthy of admiration- they aren't crude, prissy, awkward, snobby, petty, frumpy, timid or unsure of themselves. They aren't striving to fit anyone's stereotype either- they simply are who they are and have this graceful dignity in the way they carry themselves. I'm still learning what it means to be a lady, but I believe the power of a woman is not in trying to make herself like a man, or in being equal to him in every way, but in being all we were created to be. We are tender. Man should find comfort in us and in return we need his honor & protection. We carry & bear children, we nourish them. We hold them close when they fall, teach them the ways to live and finally, (against our better judgement) we let them go out into the big world knowing we'll always be there for them. If this isn't strength, I don't know what is!!! At long last, I am proud to be a woman. :o)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Good Quote...

"Often a mighty man is the humblest of creatures and a humble man is the mightiest of creatures."

Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Harithi al-Baghdadi al-Mufid