Thursday, August 31, 2006

Farewell, Sweet Child...

Little Ian Rogers is finally at rest from the stage 4 Ganglioma he battled very bravely for so long... That's all I can say because- God, it just breaks my heart... You can see pictures of Ian, sign the guestbook and read more here:

A New Addition...

Okay, I've had big dogs all my life and I love them- really! After my beloved Lab mix, Timber died, I started doing breed research in hopes of narrowing it down to a breed from which to adopt a puppy. At first I was looking at Weimers, Boxers and Border Collies. However, during this time I absolutely fell in love with the dog at my Chiropractor's office. Her name was 'Angel'- she was the smartest, cutest, most adorable dog I had ever met. She was a black Toy Poodle who came bounding to the lobby to greet me when she heard my keys jingle. Angel fit perfectly in my lap and loved to be babied. Did you know Poodles rank #1 in many surveys on Canine intelligence? This non-shedding breed is easy to train and not likely to cause allergic reactions in people. I must admit, I never thought I would become the proud owner of a Poodle. Contrary to popular belief, the Poodle is not a yippy, nervous fru-fru dog- though poorly socialized Poodles can certainly be that way. The Poodle can be a pampered pet, but don't underestimate it's staying power. They originated as Gun Dogs retrieving game from frigid waters. They are hearty and loyal to their owners. Poodle are quite versitile, working as rescue dogs, therapy dogs and seeing-eye dogs. They compete successfully in everything from frisbee and flyball to agility.

Well, after several years of research, failed attempts to connect with breeders, being quoted ridiculously high prices, etc. I finally was able to find a breeder who is sweet, down-to-earth AND willing to sell me a puppy. Now that I am working more often, I can afford one. So yesterday, we drove over to the breeder and picked out a puppy. She is red like my hair. I got to meet the parents- both gorgeous, affectionate, healthy dogs with shining eyes. I am quite pleased! (Wish I could post a picture of her for you to see. Perhaps if I ever get the photo posting problem figured out I can share eventually.)

I like the portability of a small dog. I like the idea of having a dog that can cuddle on the couch & travel in the van without puncturing holes in the seat coverings. So, 'Rhett's Flaming Ember' or 'Ember' for short will be coming home with me sometime in mid-late October. I CAN'T WAIT!! :o)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Stirrings in the Heart...

So, in the midst of my struggle with depression, at the tail-end of an 10 year string of misfortune and overwhelming changes, during the most intense questioning phase I have ever gone through, I am affirmed that YES, I have done something right as a parent!! You see, my oldest daughter is asking her own questions now. This is good! At nearly 12, she is weighing things out for herself. Something is really working on her heart. She is asking, "How do I hear God?", "Does He really love me- even though I make mistakes?", "What happens if I die?". These may seem like simple questions, but to a 12 year old, these are consuming thoughts. I remember being 12 or 13, inching my way toward adulthood, asking the same and wondering how in the world I was going to make it through life with a shattered heart.
My daughter hasn't been shattered. She has never had to face the intense trials that I endured at her age. However, she wants to be right with us and with God. I keep telling her that she will find the answers she seeks, but some of the answers only come with time and experience.

When we see a billboard, or hear a commercial on television and she demonstrates objective reasoning toward it! YES- that's MY girl!!! I don't want my children spoonfed. Not raising them to interpret scripture as strictly as possible, or to rigidly uphold somebody's rhetoric. I don't want to bring up pew-warmers who know all the right catch phrases & proof texts. I'm raising them to be openhearted, loving individuals who live abundantly, reverence the Creator God and respect the preciousness of others. I want them to value all people. I want their focus not to be on changing others, but on allowing themselves to be changed into the likeness of Almighty God.

Lately, my oldest daughter comes to me with tears in her eyes at night when she should be in bed, just to hold my hand and thank me for being her Mom and for loving her. This means so much to me!!! So is this part of the reward for changing poopie diapers, staying up at night and getting puked on??

Around the age of 8, she got really interested in jewelry. Now, that is against the religion we were involved with and for many years I was quite strict on this issue- though NOBODY ever explained to me from scripture why it's a sin to wear jewelry. I wouldn't even allow her a doll if it had jewelry on. The church ladies said, "Don't let her have any of it, if you do, a seed of vanity will be planted- from which you will never break her free". Someone else told me, "Is this a hill worth dying on? Jewelry is nothing but stuff, let her have it and she will soon see that." After much prayer and consideration, I decided that in the end, it will be my daughter who must choose. We let her have it, but said wearing too much is gaudy and looks tacky. She has NEVER gone overboard with it. Today, I recommended a bead necklace for her outfit and she said, "No thanks, Mama- I don't want to look overdone." BRAVO!!

To those critical of our "liberal" methods, I would say, every time my daughter- of her own free will, comes tearfully confessing a wrong, God is lifting up my head- His way works. It's not about mind control, overly protecting, applying guilt-trips to manipulate behavior or planting a fear of Hell into a person in order to get them on the "path of righteousness". His way is LOVE, pure, simple, unadulterated kindness, acceptance and forgiveness. So many people have been turned against God by well-meaning people with BAD psychology and outreach methods. I've learned that sometimes, in order to hold on to our children, we must let go and let God. Hang around with kids from a rigid home- they are mirror images of their parents. Overly-cautious, highly opinionated and full of hateful criticism. Their worldview is narrow- like the man I described in my previous post. It breaks my heart! Hang around someone who dwells on the love of God and you find them warm, genuinely appealing. These children aren't mine, they are God's. I'm only someone to supervise their time here on earth. Yes, I need to provide structure and discipline, but I also need to allow the freedom for their mind to develop. I must accept them for who they are and WOW- I love who God is making them!!!

Philosophy of a "Genius"

I'm the kind of person who can strike up conversation with just about anyone. I was talking with a man recently who considers himself to be VERY wise. Some of his views I share, but many of his opinions made me feel ill inside. "All Muslims hate Americans. They have war in their blood and they will always do acts of violence" he said. "They are evil and they want us all dead". I told him that I have ethical, peace-loving Muslim friends and that I do not believe his philosophy. Yes, there are some extreme Islamic Terrorists, but there are many ethical, open-hearted Muslims out there who are seeking just like me. I love them. He then went on to say, "There is no salvation for those people". To which I said, "How can any of us judge?" God is love. That is what I know. He loves ALL people and He wants to give them peace in their hearts and a home in Paradise. God never stops inviting hearts to come to Him- even when man has given up on fellow man. This guy seemed to be very narrow-minded in his worldview. He doesn't have many friends for this reason and I felt very sad for him. He believes he will be in Heaven someday, but would he be happy in a place where love is the only rule? Gut check: would you or I??

Christian, let us not forget that we are sinners in need of Grace. Remember the Crusades of long ago? Who was the terrorist then?? The longer I live, I see the great wisdom in the words of Christ and a need for child-like humility and less finger-pointing. Put young children of all races & religious backgrounds on a playground and unless their heads are full of hateful agenda, they will play nicely together. You will see the little girls holding hands, you will see the Mexican high-5 with whites, Asians, African-americans. They are innocent and their worldview has not been distorted yet.
Jesus be-friended those people whom the religious of His day frowned upon. Remember the Samaritan woman, the Tax Collectors? Remember the Syro-phonecian lady? The (pagan) Roman centurion whose servant was dying? Think of the prostitute who fell under judgement at the feet of Jesus. He said, "The man who hasn't sinned can cast the first stone". Isn't it wonderful how the outcast women recognized the humble Christ. Those who reject the idea of a merciful God have not yet seen the depth of their own weakness.

Often in religion, we become barricaded behind ethnicity or this church sign or that. We never mingle outside our own small bubble. So we also become narrow-minded. We then say things like, "All non-whateverurchurchis are in the dark. They are slackers and they are lost." I hear things like this nearly every time I go to church. (This is a VERY narrow religious view- one I held for many years- because that's what I was taught.) God is my teacher now. He is bigger than all of us. He loves His children intensely- yes, even those who seem hopelessly lost. Often by our words and actions, we paint the heart of God as being very small. I must ask both myself and my philosophical friend, "Is there room in God's kingdom for an arrogant person with such outspoken prejudice?" Just thinking outloud here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ten Things God Won't Ask...

...God won't ask what kind of car you drove, He'll ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation.

...He won't ask the square footage of your house, He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

...God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.

...He won't ask what your highest salary was, He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

...God won't ask what your job title was, He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

...He won't ask how many friends you had, He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

...God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.

...He won't ask about the color of your skin, He'll ask about the content of your character.

...God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation, He'll lovingly welcome you to Paradise.

...He won't ask how many facts you memorized and taught about the Bible, He'll ask how much your heart understood and applied it's principles to your own life.

...God won' ask what church you were a member of or how many times you sat in a pew on The Lord's Day, He'll want to know how many times you truly worshipped.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Totally Random Thoughts...

Looooong, exhausting weekend. Travelled to GA and AL to sing with the group. Our performances went pretty well. We ate at PF Changs Sat. night and had a good time. The food was great! I like all of the girls very much as people. They are funny, sweet and talented, we get along most of the time, but there's this wierd power struggle going on and the dynamics are so different now. I'm trying to roll with it, but it's tough. I enjoy travelling and performing, but I'm not going to beg for respect, nor will I demand it...

Always nice to come home to my family and my own bed. ahhhhh

Well BLOW me down!!!! What kind of guy confesses to a murder he didn't commit?! That really takes the cake! I guess they should just close the Jon Benet Ramsey case. The trail is so cold, I don't think they will ever find the real killer. :o(

I'm SO glad to have a produce stand near our home now. We get the best Florida-fresh fruits & veggies for really LOW prices and it's only about 3 miles from our house. Today I loaded up on oranges, peaches, bananas, grapefruits, tomatoes, nectarines, apples, avacados and squash. YUM!! Have not been very successful at gardening in the clay soil we have in Tennessee, so at least I can buy the foods I like without paying an arm and a leg. :o)

Hope each of you had a good weekend. :o)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Paying it Forward...

The movie 'Pay it Forward' made a very powerful statement. It's about a little boy (Haley Joel Osment) who comes up with the idea that when someone does something nice for you, you then do something really nice for someone else. When/if they say "thank you", reply "That's okay- pay it forward". Paying it forward isn't about easy things like using your manners, holding doors and smiling- those things are certainly important, but we're talking about stuff like paying to have someone's car fixed, covering a few dollars for someone who comes up short in the check-out line, or offering someone your umbrella on a rainy day- just because. I embrace this concept with all my heart. Try paying it forward sometime- it feels really good. Sometimes we all feel powerless in this world, this makes us angry & depressed. Often violence, addiction or illegal acts follow a feeling of desperation. Feel powerless? Think you don't matter?? Be pro-active about kindness it's very empowering!! (Just make sure to do these random acts of goodness with NO strings attached. If you don't get a "Thank you"- you can choose not to be offended. Maybe it's been so long or so rare a gift that some people have forgotten how to receive kindness graciously.)

Blessing people is about doing something nice, but allow them to keep their dignity. For example, when the YMCA bus used to come to the project to pick us up, they made us pay a dime to ride over to the 'Y' for supper and an evening of recreation. Some of us were so poor we literally "didn't have a dime". (pun intended) The old guy who drove the bus always wore a hip-pack. It had a bunch of dimes in it. When one of the kids had no dime, he would fish around in the hip-pack, "accidently" drop some dimes- which would roll down the steps and onto the pavement. He would ask the kid to pick them up for him. Then he would say, "All right, let's go!" The kid would say, "But I don't have a dime" to which he would reply, "You just handed me a whole bunch- now get in and have a seat". Such a simple thing to do, but it always made us smile and feel like we mattered. I don't remember what his name was, but this bus driver helped a lot of underpriviledged kids- including me- feel better about themselves. God bless him!!

The YMCA was my haven back then. This sporty little gal enjoyed playing b-ball and for a shorty-white girl, I was pretty good at it. I was a minority in "The Village" which was mostly home to Mexicans and African-Americans. I loved the mixed culture. Had a lot of great times on the court in the middle of the project. The guys were friendly and called me 'Sparks'. Then I don't know exactly what happened, but a bet was placed as to who would "bang the redhead" first. From that time on, I endured harrassment- eventually it wasn't safe for me to play the court anymore. After school, I walked home with my tough-as-nails friend/bodyguard Jennifer 'The Wolf' Fidelli. She was several grades ahead of me, but switched buses in order to watch out for me. Even the guys were scared to death of her! She was Italian and could definitely hold her own in a fight. 'Wolf' had a heart and underneath the tough act, she was really a sweet person who was searching for significance, just like me. We'd sit on the corner for a smoke, then she walked me home and I'd stay locked up in the apartment all evening. Hated it! Tuesday nights were a highlight for me, because I was SAFE at the 'Y'. I could get out on the court and have a great time. Guess I work at the YMCA in part, because I'm grateful and I WANT to pay it forward...

Most establishments cater to those with money. That's great and all, but the rich have plenty to feel good about, why not cater to the poor, treat them as if they were rich & influential and balance things out a little?? I feel this is what the 'Y' does through their scholarship & after school programs. I'm so glad to be a part of it!! Anyone is welcome at the 'YMCA'. Hey, that's my kind of place!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's A Crazy, Crazy Life!!

Our little old neighbor, Herman is gone to hospice now and won't be coming out. The cancer in his Femur moved into his spine. He rose from a chair and 3 vertebrae fractured! He fell to the floor in pain- nearly had a heart attack trying to crawl to the phone. Jay & I were both at work when this happened so there was nobody here to help him. Makes me feel so sad... Anyway, it's just a matter of time now... We will miss him!

Yesterday, I talked with the neighbor lady who said she & her husband had been robbed this week! During the night, a bandit came and stole the trailer they have for the 4-wheeler. He also went into her mother's trailer, stood over her menacingly and asked if she was afraid. She said, "I'm terrified" to which he replied, "Good- that's what I'm goin' for". He didn't do anything to her, but it's still scary. We decided to lock our vehicles at night and all the doors to our house... Last night at 1:30, we heard a blood-curdling cry coming from our daughter's room. She was yelling, "They're scratching me!" We thought she was just dreaming, but upon getting to the door of her room, we saw there were two strange dogs laying on her bed!!! Jay grabbed one, I grabbed the other and we put them outside- "Shooo- go HOME!" We calmed our daughter down and went back to bed. 20 minutes later she was screaming again. We rushed to her room to find the same 2 dogs laying on her bed! They had scratched her arm a little. Then we figured out they were coming in the cat door. (A raunchy old tomcat broke the flap off the door trying to get at our cat food, so it's just an open hole in the door now, but very small.) We barricaded the door and went back to bed. All was quiet until 4:30 when our poor little girl came crying to our bedroom door saying, "The puppies are baaaaaack". Sure enough, one was in again. Jay put it out. We put our daughter in the top bunk with her sister and went to bed. When I woke the kids up this morning, lo and behold, the little dog was STILL in our house!!! When I got off work this afternoon we found her owner who lives a mile away. He was glad to see his little Jasmine- she and the other dog ran away during a storm last weekend. He was very thankful. :o) Happy to help. If I had a $ for every lost pet I've returned, I'd be RICH!

Needless to say, I'm VERY tired!! Glad tomorrow is Friday. Been working hard all week. Tuesday is my last day of training. Jay gets up early and goes to bed early. We are trying to roll with the changes to our lifestyle, but I'm really tired of not getting to see my man! My foot is better. :o) When I got out of bed the past 2 days- no longer feels like stepping on shards of glass. I'm supposed to sub an aerobics class Monday- first since the injury. Hope it goes well.

And now a disclaimer for the male blog friends who dropped off the face of the earth. It's safe to visit and comment here. I wrote to one guy recently asking how he was doing and saying I hoped I hadn't offended him in some way. Got a message back saying, "Sorry, but I'm busy and not in the habit of corresponding with married women- especially when I don't really even know them". Ouch- that was AWKWARD! I thought this guy & I were pals, then he got all wierd on me!! So that's life, I guess, but now I'm paranoid. I'm friendly, but I'm NOT a flirt looking for an affair. I was a tomboy growing up- it's still not out of my system. I believe you can be married and still have friends of the opposite sex without being inappropriate. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I feel...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Short Films...

I really enjoy short films! In my opinion, they take a lot more genius to make than a full-length feature, because they are only 30-45 minutes (or less) in length. The script and plot is very precise and the acting superb. Every expression, every word spoken has to count for something to get the over-all message across. Films of this nature are incredibly artistic and generally pack a real punch- bearing a social statement or an observation about the way we live our lives. They can be intense, sad or entertaining, but all of them encourage you to think. Here are some short films I reccomend:

'Taking the Wheel'- a comedy about growing old with John Cleese
'The Last Farm'- an elderly man parts with all he holds dear
'Tama Tu'- young men coping with the stress of battle
'Victoria Para Chino'- about the suffering of Mexican immigrants

Some short films address religion. I am a writer who is somewhat philosophical. Someday, I would like to try my hand at creating short-film scripts. I have a lot of ideas...

If YOU could make a short film, what would the title be? What would your movie be about? Who would star in it??

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Survey Says?

Instructor evaluations were submitted for 3 weeks in July. Wasn't sure what to expect, since I had a rough start taking over one of the most popular fitness classes from one of the most popular instructors. Talk about intimidating!! Beth had built quite a loyal following- which is great- except she moved away. I came in to fill the spot. I am trained in Classical Mat Pilates while she was into the Pilates Fusion classes, so our approaches are a little different. I do some fusion & ball work, but with more of a stretching emphasis than she did. Anyway, complaints abounded when I first started: "Music is too loud", "The class is different than Beth's", "The new instructor doesn't use the same terminology", etc. There were days when I felt VERY discouraged. 2 ladies didn't even give me a chance, they just quit. They have the right, but it makes me feel like I have failed them somewhat...

Anyway, I was sweatin' these evaluations! However, PTL the results turned out to be positive. Every instructor is ranked a 1-5 in several areas: Starts & ends class on time, Music Volume, Class Format, Challenge Level, Instructor inspires you to be your best, etc. A "1" being the lowest. I received 22 sheets that gave me high rankings as an instructor. The other 4 were VERY negative. Mainly complaining about music volume being too soft or too loud. One lady said the class "isn't challenging enough for her". Hmmm, guess she's super fit then!? Another person wrote "Instructor is too cheezy". I wasn't sure what to make of that since I don't cut jokes or be stupid in class. The other 2 surveys, it seemed clear to me the ladies simply wanted to trash me. They ranked me all #1's. I have never started or ended class late, and always introduce myself, so they could definitely have ranked me higher on those things. Obviously either a slam session or they got confused and thought #1 was the best ranking? Hey- maybe they just DON'T like petite, redheaded instructors. LOL I can't please everyone, but I try.

Today, one of the die-hards who dropped out of my class during the changeover showed up! Yeah!! Maybe she'll give me a chance to prove myself? She appeared to have enjoyed the class. My boss sat in for half of the class to observe. Aside from a few small suggestions, she said she is quite happy with my instruction and that she continues to get good feedback from members. The floor is packed, so it's going well! I'm lovin' it!! :o)

(Sorry, but I still can't get blogger to post pictures! This is disappointing 'cause my blog could be so much better with pics. It used to work just fine- go figure?)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Manic Monday!

My Dad & Stepmom were here to visit over the weekend. We had a good time. The kids really enjoyed spending time with Grandma and Grandpa. Always nice to have visitors. :o) We went to the IMAX theatre and watched 'Deep Blue Sea'- narrated by Johnny Depp & Kate Winslet. It was very good and felt as if we were diving. NEAT! Had a nice supper together at the Olive Garden. (My favorite place to eat) Why do I always feel a little drained after visitors leave?

WOW- today was "interesting"! Got up extra early to see my parents off. Got my children off to school. Drove to pick up little Emma. She is SO cute!! Got back to the house and received a phone call from a friend stating that an appointment was actually 2 hrs earlier than I had planned. I adjusted my schedule accordingly. Then the school called to advise me that I had committed a 'Felony'. You see, my son has allergic rhinitis (Hay Fever) Late Summer/Early Fall his eyes start watering and itching, he sneezes a lot. So, I sent some of his medicine in a sealed envelope with the name of the school nurse and instructions written. Well, little did I know that policies have changed recently- that is now ILLEGAL! Oh boy!! They were really nice about it, but boy did I feel DUMB!

Loaded up Emma and my two homeschoolers and headed out the door. On the way to my appointment to do voice work at the church, I got a call from the YMCA asking if I could cover 2 hrs in the afternoon? "I'm sorry, but I'm already booked up for today". They were understanding. Arrived at the church where a friend with sound equipment was waiting. Read my scripts while the girls played with Emma, then loaded up and headed to the elementary school to pick up my other 2 kids. Went back to the church to do 3 1/2 hrs of recording with 'The Mercy Kids'- on a song I wrote for their CD. Emma played with the kids until she was exhausted, then fell asleep. We had to record in a pipin' HOT room. The kids were miserable! I was sweating buckets, but acted energetic, gave inspirational speeches and tried hard for the sound we wanted out of them. Finally ran out of time. What we recorded will have to stand. Met Emma's Mom and sent her home for the evening. Then came home to ice my foot and try to unwind. Tomorrow the circus starts all over again. THANK GOD my Interval Cardio class is over until September!! Hope I will be ready by then. My left heel & arch still burns like fire when I stand on it.

Deep Thought for the Day: "Make sure you wear really GOOD shoes when you workout, because a damaged ligament in your foot is NO fun!" LOL

Finally got home and collapsed on the couch. My man felt sorry for me, so he made an emergency run for Ice Cream! How sweet!! :o)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Living, Breathing Ironies...

Every life is a miracle! The fact that any of us have breath or move is amazing. When one studies the body and how it functions, it is truly wonderful. I remember as a small child, lying in my bed with my arms reaching toward the ceiling and marveling at the many ways I could move my hands. Incredible! Consider the intellect and the ability to laugh, cry, dream, reproduce. We are magnificent.... yet, ironically we are nothing... ask the one trapped in subzero weather during the Iditarod how strong he is. Ask the one standing in the middle of a war-torn land how strong she is. We are born into this world naked and helpless. We live as best we can, then we die. In between, we should make the most of every day realizing that tomorrow isn't guaranteed...

Take away our fast cars, hot clothes, cell phones, iPod's, fancy houses, washing machines, running water and air-conditioning and we soon find how fragile we really are. Oh, it doesn't take much to shake us up. You would think it's a major crisis when some people have to live without cable TV for a week.

Take any hot-shot and dump them in the middle of the desert, he/she will soon feel the weakness of humanity. Put any one person in the middle of a heated conflict and ask them to solve the problem- they will soon feel the strength of hatred against the limited power of one mind. Yet, one man or woman CAN make a difference. Jesus Christ, Mohammad, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr.

We tend to get lethargic- wrapped up in our own lives. If we are highly priviledged, we tend to forget about those who are less fortunate. When we are comfortable, we tend to forget about the comfort of others. Strip all these comforts away and suddenly we are more willing to see the other side of things...

I want eyes to see beyond my own life, to share the pain of others, to make a difference in some way.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Wise Saying...

"Peace is much more precious than a piece of land."

Anwar al- Sadat

Friday, August 18, 2006

Coming Out of the Dark!

It's been a looong week. Worked my tail off, but I'm lovin' it! Trained in for Front Desk at the YMCA this week. It's been hectic, but fun. Other employees have a good time picking on me. For example, Kelly- the one training me kept playing jokes on me. Part of my job at Front Desk is to answer the phone and page staff. Well, I still don't know the names of all the staff, and we are supposed to page people by first & last names. I'd answer the phone, then have to ask Kelly, "What's so & so's last name?" before paging them. She kept telling me the wrong last names or mispronouncing them and I'd page over the entire building with the wrong name. HA HA- the staff kept coming by the desk and kindly correcting me on how to pronounce their names. OOPS! Two of the guys from the maintenance staff actually switched name tags. Not an easy thing to do since we all wear photo ID's. They somehow stuck their pictures on the other guys name tags, then as they passed the front desk, I would give them their messages and they would say, "That's nice, but I'm not Bill, I'm Jack". OKAY, by the end of yesterday I figured I could have a little fun too, so I pulled my hair into a tacky side ponytail, had the other girl from the front desk make me a new ID badge. Anyway, I crossed my eyes and bucked out my teeth for the picture- looks REALLY geeky! Then we picked the name 'Greta Goolahee' and put that on my new badge. Today, I will wear my new ID and see if anyone notices- if they try to call me by my real name, I'm not going to answer. LOL I'm SO glad I'm on staff there. :o) I'm glad today is Friday. My Dad & Stepmom are coming to visit this weekend.

The depression continues to lift! My man and I had some talks about our relationship recently and identified things that need to change in order for our marriage to thrive. I've been open & honest as to the effects his distant behavior has had on me- it contributed greatly to my depression. All his sleeping, the workaholism, the sudden bursts of anger, his lack of direction or enthusiasm have caused me to feel lonely & insignificant. (Worst of all, I have nobody to talk to about this.) Being married to a "Nice guy" is tough, because people just assume if there are problems, it must be my fault or that I'm just too hard to please. Anyway, we tried to go to bed early last night- we are both exhausted, but ended up having a really good, much-needed talk. I felt a lot more connected and hopeful after that. He admits that he's also been depressed and agreed to seek help somehow or to try and follow my lead to bust out of the rut. Basically, I'm tired of doing a song & dance trying to get his attention. He says his lack of motivation for romance or relationship with me is due to the fact that he doesn't love himself. He said he has never known who he is or what he wants from life. Getting fired from LifeTalk didn't help that any- as it was pretty much his whole identity. Our energy levels don't match. I'm a dreamer with ambition and he's content to sit back and let the world pass him by. We both agree that we got married too young (I was only 19) and had a family too soon. But here we are with 4 beautiful kids and we're trying. He is apologetic and is asking me to understand while he works through his identity crisis. I'm trying to be patient- waited 13 yrs for him to decide he really does love me. Marriage is a two-way street and he's been supportive of me as I've worked through my issues- holding me when I have nightmares and wiping my tears. He wants to go camping by himself to see if he can figure out who he is and what he wants. I think this is a great idea. He doesn't process things as easily or as quickly as I do. I just hope it doesn't take forever for us to get things figured out. Life is too short to spin your wheels! I don't want to wait till we're old and shriveled to get it together, I want to be connected while we're still young and energetic so we can experience the fullness of relationship- in every aspect. Also, it would be nice to get it together while the kids are still around... this is a matter that weighs heavily on me and most of my prayer life is asking God to make me a better person. I feel my own inadequacy very deeply...

The kids' first week at school has gone really well. They come home with smiles on their faces every afternoon. This makes me feel good! They are bright, well-behaved children who warm my heart. :o) My schedule has been such that I can be here when they get off the bus. God, thank you for giving me a full life! Work, kids, fitness, music and organizations to be involved with. Enough joys to keep me going, enough challenges to keep me growing...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's About Time!

After 10 long years of heartache, mystery and suspicion, the killer of Jon Benet Ramsey has finally been found. Little Jon Benet was found dead in the basement of her home with evidence of being beaten and strangled. No one was ever convicted for the crime. Her parents and older brother were held suspect for years. Her mother, Patsy was especially scrutinized as she was a former beauty pageant winner who enjoyed entering Jon Benet in Beautiful Baby and various adolescent pageants. People thought she was jealous or obsessive and killed her daughter in a rage.

I have followed this case over the years, praying that somehow there would be justice for the beautiful little blonde whose life ended far too soon. I felt sorry for the parents who had to try and move on raising their son under an 'Umbrella of Suspicion'. The sorrow of losing a child and the stress of being a suspect must have been overwhelming. Ironically, Patsy Ramsey died of Ovarian Cancer on my birthday this year, June 24. Although she knew a serious suspect had been identified, she did not live to see her family vindicated. It turns out the man who killed Jon Benet was a male school teacher who had been involved in child pornography. grrrrrrr He was arrested in Thailand.

The Jon Benet case really turned me against the tabloid papers who have used this story to sell their magazine for a decade and often pointed a finger at the family- despite a lack of solid evidence. Shame on them! We'll see if they even mention this new development. I certainly didn't see them do any write-up about Patsy's untimely death.

Justice has finally come. Rest in peace, Beloved...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Art of Customer Service

WOW- things have been BUSY! Yesterday I headed to Nashville to work on the songs for the musical 'Eyewitness' with a good friend of mine. (See the link in my side column- 'Sitler-Strong Productions') We worked for hours to get it done, but it was fun & we work really well together. I ended up leaving Nashville pretty late though. Driving solo- blah! On my way out of town, I had dash lights for 'Oil' & 'Check Engine'. Figured I'd better stop before I got too far and broke down by the side of the road. My friend, Brian came and checked the oil and poured a bottle of it under the hood for me. Thankfully, the dash lights went out and stayed out. I played really loud music and did pretty well until the last 60 miles. Started getting REALLY sleepy, so had to pull over to rest. Slept about 20 minutes, then woke up and kept haulin'. Went about 20 miles more and had to stop again. I'm getting too old for this. LOL Needless to say, I made it home at 5:30am & crashed into bed. NOT enough rest, but I'm doing okay and will go to bed early tonight. :o)

This week I'm training for the Front Desk at the YMCA- lovin' it. I'm such a people person! Not only was today my first day training, I was called upon- last minute to give a presentation to our staff for the 'United Way' fundraising campaign we are currently doing. Being the up-front person that I am, I did my best. Think it went over okay...

Anyway, aside from the fundraising, the main topic for staff-meeting was customer service. There is a new health club moving into our area called 'The Rush'. Oh yeah- I've been to this place and they are really sharp! The 'YMCA' knows they are going to have some heavy-duty competition now, so we are boning up on our skills. Knowing how to serve people is SO important in life! One of the stats they gave us is that a satisfied customer tends to tell 4 people. An unsatisfied person will tell 10 others- that's more than double the influence.

I've had good service and bad. I think 'The Olive Garden' offers some of the best around. I have a love/hate relationship with Fast Food service these days. YES, it's supposed to be fast, but hey- you can still smile and be pleasant, still get the filet o'fish centered in the bun and look people in the eye when you're shoving their food out the drive-thru window- telling them to "have a nice day". If you have a Mcjob, look alive and know about your business! Few things are more annoying than being in a hurry- asking a question and none of the employees know the answer. Then waiting for the Manager to break free and come answer for them.

I believe in taking pride in the work that we do. Scripture says "Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might". I take this seriously. There's a warm feeling that comes with serving others. I love to make people smile. I feel important when I see someone coming along with a downcast face and I'm able to say or do something nice for them. Good customer service seems to be a dying art, but we can keep it alive. You don't even have to be older to know how to serve. I've had young people as waiters before who carried themselves well and demonstrated good manners. Made me want to examine my social skills and see where I may be able to improve. Great job!!

I find, for the most part, people are loyal- if you treat them well & appreciate them, they will stick around. As our Pastor said recently, "You can't keep slapping someone in the face or turn your back on them and expect to keep them as a friend."

I want to serve well...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

'Need You 2 Love Me'

This video is awesome! It's often tough to ask for or accept love, because we feel we don't deserve it. It's hard to let someone else love us when/if we don't love ourselves. Newsflash: The chains are breaking. I've been to the bottom of my life- I know what it feels like. I have looked the boogeyman of depression full in the face and I am staring him down. I'm not afraid anymore, I want to enter into a better and higher place. Are you brave enough to face your pain and join me- in a place of healing?

Face Yourself...

The late, great guitarist Michael Hedges recorded a song called 'Face Yourself'. The song amazes me:

Now or never, face yourself
no one else will do
face your weakness, face your past
let your scars show through
It's now or never, don't look back
just say, you're gone
gone away, drawn away.......
Binary numbers, media mass (the memories)
I let my mind thumb through
off on, I'm off on- sitcom
my cathode eyes obey
zero one zero, 1984
Just say, I'm gone
I'm gone away, drawn away.....

Face yourself,
Face yourself,
Face yourself
ahhhh, face yourself

I have a lover who drew me up (for me, this is Jesus Christ)
out of my little world
we talk together and we touch our souls (prayer)
we share a common ground (suffering)
So if you see Sonya or any glitter girls
just say I'm gone
I'm gone away,
drawn away......


Deep expressions from a man who wrestled with himself. Interestingly enough, he mentions 1984- one of the worst years of my life... parents fighting, big changes, poverty, grades fell, sexual abuse, intense fear, Scarlet Fever, suicidal thoughts, shame, no one to turn to, living a big lie, going through the motions, fragile shell of a person... Passages written into my life story that I didn't ask for, but must deal with. Coping mechanisms kicked in, blocking out the reality of what was happening to me. As my firstborn reached the age I was during the year from hell, I started having nightmares- memories resurface. I have a vivid memory. To the amazement of my family, I can recall what I got for Christmas when I was 2. In therapy years ago, I couldn't recall ages 10 & 11- it was like they were largely erased. All I have is flash memories of things that happened- ugly snapshots in my head. (Can't afford counseling now, don't feel friends/family can handle listening... I have a life to live & so do they, so this journal is where I'm working it out, while my family sleeps- I lay it out for examination- without going into graphic detail.)

My posts the last few months have been quite Melancholy. In order to breakthrough to the other side of this emotional hurdle, it's a MUST to face the past, then let it go. It's also a vital step to build a gameplan for a better future. I don't want to run all my life or bury myself under some addiction in order to avoid dealing with things. There is SO MUCH beauty to be felt- experienced in this life! We often miss out on the many blessings because we're afraid to deal with our baggage. To feel sadness doesn't mean we're less of a person or that our faith is weak. Pain is real, but so is healing. Depression steals away the ability to enjoy life as we should. Some weep, others sleep... but I'm a fighter and WILL bust out of this rut! It's been tough, but I'm glad to be sorting things out now- life is too short to linger here... I'm not the first person to go through this- why does it feel so lonely?

God, show me who I am, then cover me with Who You are...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Random Thoughts...

Glad a terror plot was foiled. What a big mess!! The next time 'Message of Mercy' flies anywhere, it's going to be VERY interesting to say the least. No liquids, no toiletries- YIKES!
Fuel is around $3.00 here- and according to a friend who was in Texas recently, it's $3.67 down there. Is there no mercy- even for your fellow Texans? Mr. Bush PLEASE put a cap on the gas prices! Just over two years ago it cost me around $28 to fill my van, now it's $60. My uncle once worked in the oil fields of Alaska and he said we have more crude than we know what to do with. Awwww, shucks, how 'bout we rustle up a few barrels of OUR OWN oil and lower the prices- eh? Funny coincidence that the pipes in Alaska have mysteriously corroded. I hate to be suspicious, but it's starting to look like all those accusations about you making decisions that benefit you and your oil buddies are true? With all due respect, have a heart, Mr. Bush and cut us all a break.

The last gift my husband gave me before he got fired was an Ipod. I am SO enjoying it! I like how it plugs directly into the CD player in my van- SWEET! I have a ton of great music. Some of it reflects where I've been. Other songs describe where I am, while my favorite songs are about who & where I want to be someday. Music has always been a powerful tool in my life, but WOW, it has really been making a difference for me lately. I enjoy writing music, but sometimes I just want to hear what someone else has to say:

Music from the past: I've been listening to tons of older stuff- reconnecting with who I was and what I felt when I was younger and happier. Mr. Mister's 'Broken Wings' and 'Kyrie', Kenny Loggins 'I'm Free', Michael W. Smith 'On The Othe Side', ''Secret Ambition', 'Place in this World'
Music for today: Evanescence 'Wake Me Up Inside', Giant 'I'm A Believer', Switchfoot 'Meant to Live', Roberta Flack 'People on A String', Simply Red 'If You Don't Know Me By Now', Bryan Adams 'Nothing I've Ever Known', Amy Grant 'What About the Love', Steven Curtis Chapman 'Be Still', Lyle Lovett 'Smile', Barlow Girl 'Never Alone', Moya Brennan's 'Two Horizons' project.
Music to shape my future: Switchfoot 'Dare You to Move', Amy Grant 'Lead Me On', Moya Brennan's 'Two Horizons' project, Leann Womack 'I Hope You Dance'. Garth Brooks 'Sail My Vessel'. Okay, it's probably going to sound really cheesy, but 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music keeps going through my head these days... it's all good! :o)
(You can hear samples and purchase any of the songs I've listed here on iTunes)
Yes, I listed Moya twice. She's the older sister of Enya. They are both fantastic Irish musicians. To me, there's no language more beautiful than Gaelic. (Their names are actually spelled Maire and Eithne, but few knew how to pronounce, so they ended up changing them to more simple English forms.) Moya is a talented harpist. When I listen to her music, somehow I feel connected to something and I bask in my heritage.

I've learned a lesson. You cannot depend on anyone to make you happy. Not your spouse, your friends, not your church- each brings it's share of joy & frustration. Nobody can pull you out of depression. It's my problem, I take responsibility for finding a solution. I am determined NOT to let it have it's way with me. We have to learn how to connect with happiness by choosing to dwell on God's love. Whether you believe in Him or not, there is a force for good out there- I feel it. As Switchfoot so accurately says, "The shadow proves the sunshine".

For those concerned that I'm trying to start a rebellion against church and all things decent by writing this blog: I in NO way intend to set myself up as an example to follow. I'm simply recording thoughts, opinions and experiences- trying to make sense of my journey, feelings, needs and what I see going on around me- for what it's worth. I may not think like you- that's okay, because I allow you the right to think the way you do- we can agree to disagree. :o)
Well, it's after midnight- I need to get to bed. Now that my mind is settling down a bit, hope I can get my body back on a normal sleep schedule. Some really exciting things are happening in the near future- I am looking forward. Don't want to speak too soon, but I think I'm experiencing a miracle of healing in my heart. I'm holding onto hope!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Well, it's another one of those days where I feel pretty good! These are happening more and more frequently- think I just may be coming out of depression. :o) Still reeling from recent changes, but I'm finding myself again and gradually parting ways with the stranger I've been for the last 8 years.

Today I had an interview at the YMCA and was hired on in a new capacity. The interview took over an hour, as it seemed they just wanted to chat with me. Regrettably, they have no Full or Part Time positions available at this time, but I am now officially a 'Fitness Floater'. This is a new nitch in the industry for people like me who are qualified to work in more than one area. You are called in to sub on a regular basis and today I got worked in as a Floater for the Front Desk. The schedule is flexible and constantly changing. It will keep me on my toes! This works well for me as I am easily bored and love to work with a variety of people. (I can do routines, but not ruts.) My earning potential has just majorly gone up and I'm still in charge- kind of like an independant contractor. When they need a sub, they call me, I check my family/performance schedule and decide if I can do it or not. I start my training next week. :o) After a decade of being a full-time housewife, doing odd & end jobs for pocket change, it feels good to get a regular paycheck.

I've had Plantar Faciitis for the past 2 wks. Never happened before, so wasn't sure why I had such terrible heel pain- especially in the mornings. Anyway, I have really high arches and teaching 15 classes in one week on the hardwood floor in bad shoes stressed a ligament on the bottom of my foot. My boss was distraught when I told her about my foot, because she felt responsible for having me teach that many times in one week. She said it will never happen again. I've been resting/icing it and backed it down a little as far as my activitiy level and now I'm doing MUCH better. Should be back to normal for next week. From now on, while I blog I'll be rolling a cold pop bottle under my foot. (Feels good- you should try it.)

2 of my kids start school on Monday. Hard to believe! Summer has gone by SO fast! They are growing like weeds!! The other 2 (Oldest & youngest) are doing homeschool. This will probably be my last year of homeschooling, but I'm determined to teach my baby how to read before sending her off to school.

I drove home listening to great music. The sun is out, the clouds are fluffy against a blue sky, the grass is green and I feel so alive. Yep, it's a great day!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Beautiful Story...

(Author Unknown)

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30a.m.,the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice,wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute, please", answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress, gloves and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware."Would you kindly carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness."It's nothing", I told her. "I believe in treating my passengers the way I'd want my mother treated"."Oh, you're such a good boy", she said smiling.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice". I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I have no family, and little time left," she continued. I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she went dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now." We drove in silence to the address she gave me. It was a low, gray building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway passing under a small portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." I squeezed her hand, and walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of a life closing. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have ever done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider insignificant.


What is Love?

Love is a theme often contemplated. I believe it is the savor of life. I know it's not limited to a feeling, sometimes it boils down to a choice and sometimes that choice isn't easy to make.

If any of us were to experience real Love what would it be like? What does Love with hands & feet look like- how does it feel? Is Love so rare or is it simply hard to recognize & comprehend? Sometimes I feel it so strongly- when I hold a baby, see a little old man, or connect with someone. There is this beautiful energy inside me that I cannot explain, but it is powerful- there are moments when it nearly overwhelms me. I guess that's what the tears are for- to express what words cannot...

Scripture gives us beautiful guidelines about Love in 1 Corinthians 13. Patient, kind, understanding, optimistic, longsuffering, not prideful or self-serving.... Beautiful words about what love is like, but have we ever experienced this kind of Love? Are we able to offer it??

What I do know with all my heart is that Love is not distant, it should be intimate. Love is expressed in words, touch and actions. Love is fierce, yet fragile. It takes time and must be nurtured consistently or it fades like an unwatered rose.

The older I get, the more I begin to realize that Love is not a warm, flushed, fluttery feeling- although that can be a result of Love. I guess the die-hard romantic in me is gradually getting a more practical view of what it means to Love and be loved. It means doing things you don't feel like doing. It means providing for the needs of others. It means looking beyond faults and choosing to focus on strengths. It is forgiveness time and time again. It is setting aside your own desires in order to meet the needs of someone else. Love is not as exciting as I once thought it to be, but it is steady...

God, I want to love and be loved. Teach me how.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

As for Me and My House...

I am a spiritual person, not so much religious. Been there, done that and have the T-shirt. Oh yes, I've done the denominational banner waving thing before. It turns into a one-up deal. MY church is better than yours. MY church has the truth and yours doesn't. It turns into something that quite closely resembles the old "My Dad is bigger than your Dad" argument I used to see on the playground. We recently attended a big crusade in Chattanooga. It's like watching the world series and it's our team against everyone else. Should've heard the AMENS when the speaker shared truths that are peculiar to our denomination. However, on the one night that we heard the speaker focus on the Gospel, the amens were few & far between. Something's WRONG with the picture when we are more excited about 29 doctrines than about Jesus Christ!
That's NOT where it's at- we need to get over it! People are drawn to loving kindness and totally turned off by know-it-alls. Knowing religion was not enough to change my heart. Yes, I studied my Bible and all the other "recommended reading" until I was VERY wise in my own eyes and ready to go around setting others straight on their theology, but inside- I was still totally messed up. 'Inheritor of Heaven' shared some wisdom gained at a recent conference: (my own thoughts in parentheses)

• There has been a lack of spiritually OBEDIENT leaders and teaching in much of the institutional church.
(By the way, we OBEY by first surrendering to and the accepting of the love of God for us)
• Jesus must be the object of our affection and be the center of our churches, seminars, and families.
(Hardly heard about Jesus growing up- it was all doctrine. Hope that is changing now...)
Kingdom membership should replace “church”/denomination membership.
(It's BIGGER than all of us put together! Sorry, but NO church is perfect or holds the monopoly on truth)
The kingdom of God is MUCH greater than the kingdom of darkness (even though to our natural vision it may not seem so).
• The existence of the church is to make disciples of Christ not members in a club. (Amen!)
• Being yoked with Christ is not so much like two similar sized oxen being yoked together, but rather like an ant being yoked to an elephant. We need the ants faith in the elephants faithfulness. (So true!)
• We are not called to leadership, but to “followership”. (Awww shucks, you mean I don't get to set myself up as the one to follow anymore?!)

WOW! So true!!

Here's a link to an interview with Billy Graham. I have heard the arrogant criticize him for years as being "too watered down" and a "compromiser of truth". However, I have always viewed him as a humble teacher of the Gospel. He's done what he was called to do- that was to introduce sinners to a Savior and hurting people to Hope. Billy Graham is the first to admit he's made a few mistakes, but he has been faithful to his calling. The older he gets, the more I like his philosophy. I don't think the church is called to be all hard-hitting and politically involved. Jesus never went out lecturing on the wickedness of Rome or trying to get votes for leadership in the Jewish realm. Jesus loved! He healed people. He fed the hungry. He taught and modeled humility, forgiveness and tolerance. So for me to go around as if I've got it all together is a fallacy- at best. We are ALL still learning- including Billy Graham. I was blessed by some of the insights Rev. Graham shared in this recent interview:

As for me and my house, we want something real to hold onto... something that will satisfy, something that will last...

Monday, August 07, 2006


There is something positive to be said about purposefully simplifying our lives. This takes discipline- especially for a sociable person like me. I LOVE people and thrive on activity. Perhaps that's why God paired me with a man who is content to be alone and prefers a quiet life? (Sometimes I get really bored, but he has a point.) There have been times in my life where I had so much going on, I could no longer listen to the Voice that speaks inside of me. Too many other voices were calling my name and I was running my head off trying to appease them all. In a sense, my activities had become gods. Any time activity replaces relationship, there is something MAJORLY wrong with the picture- the issue needs to be addressed. Frantic activity helps people avoid facing reality or the gravity of their situation. Other times, keeping busy is a coping mechanism- making up for the void in a marriage. If your life has gotten out of control, take a time-out and ask "why". Life is too short to go around masking our problems. We need to square our shoulders and turn to face them head on.

Recently, my husband informed me that he cannot and will not continue to live at the pace we've been living for the last couple of years. He firmly planted his foot on this. Out of respect to him, I agreed to drop an activity we've been involved in. Difficult? Yes, but mostly due to the fact that I feel like I'm letting somebody down. Also turned down the opportunity to hold a responsibility I really would've enjoyed. They were pretty understanding about it. Can't do everything- especially with 4 kids and a reluctant husband in tow. So, I'm learning how to simplify and I think it's healthy. (Still don't understand why I always felt the need to strive to go above and beyond the call of duty- that's another post...)

Contentment is something I struggle with. I am a dreamer, an adventurer. Yet I can see how the richest man is NOT the one with the most toys, but the one who is content with the simplest life. When I look around at the many struggles and tragedies people endure in this life, it makes me grateful for who I know and what I have. I don't want to take anything for granted, because it can all be taken away in a heartbeat. I'm learning to accept my own limitations. Truth is, I don't have boundless energy, lots of free time or unlimited resources, so I must manage what I do have wisely.

Here are ways I can simplify:

1) Scale down wardrobes- a majority of my housework is managing clothes. Okay fine- I'll never fit my body into a size 5 again- time to get rid of those clothes that take up closet space!
2) Ditch all yard sale fodder, etc. that accumulates around the house. Less to dust/look after.
3) Be involved with no more than 2 activities outside the family. Plan for down-time.
4) Stay on top of things and be organized.
5) Screen phone calls & trash junk mail/e-mail- not obligated to read every forward I receive!
6) Stop investing time/energy pursuing toxic/dead-end relationships.
7) LEARN HOW TO SAY NO- people may seem to resent this, but secretly they will respect you

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The World is Bigger...

Sooner or later we all reach a point when we realize the world is not all about us, that it doesn't revolve around our wants & wishes. This is a bittersweet realization and one that many people choose to deny, preferring to cater to themselves and content to have others do so as well. To move beyond this is a mark of maturity. To have healthy relationships, we must learn to invest in others more instead of only seeking people who will invest in us and give us what we want.

Spiritually speaking, it is the same principle. Many of us want to be counted as righteous based on the good that we do, the faith we know or the sacrifices we make in the name of God. But it's all about us this way- what we do or don't do. This leads to self-righteousness and an innaccurate picture of who we are. We become self-deceived into thinking we are saints who stand several rungs above others on the social/spiritual ladder. I'm learning to accept the truth about myself. I am a sinner. I am NO better than anyone else. First & foremost I have desires, weaknesses and unmet expectations. I can either throw my hands up in despair and surrender or I can ask God to give me strength to cope, to overcome. Too many are content with self-sufficient Religion instead of seeking relationship with God. We are afraid to let go of rhetoric and simply love. We are terrified of our own neediness.

I don't want to have an inflated view of myself, nor do I want to view myself as inferior to others. To be honest with myself is to say, "I am human like everyone else. I am weak, but learning how to be better every day. The world is bigger than me. There is more to living than my thoughts, my opinions, my needs, my culture."

The world is bigger and Truth is larger than any of us. How can anyone claim to know all there is to know about God? Can the human mind even grasp Divinity in all it's fullness??

Dare to expand your horizons. Ask questions, why blindly float along with the current, or the majority? What is most important in life? What do you know in your heart to be true? Are you big enough to face yourself and examine your life?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Practical Jokes

I like to play jokes. Always liked the show 'Candid Camera', now there is 'Skunked TV'. I laugh till my sides ache! It's good not to take ourselves too seriously. In one prank, someone hides in a hole and they cover him with fishing net & trash. They scatter bottles and scrap metal on the beach, then recruit people to clean up the mess. A hidden camera captures the surprise as they go pick up trash around the net and something grabs them. Another prank is two people posing as officials giving out speeding tickets in a parking garage. Okay, people are driving very slowly in there, but who cares, they get a violation anyway. Even make one up, like 'Speedbump Clearance Violations'.
- One night I crawled under my roomates bed. She came in and when she sat down, I reached out & grabbed her by the ankles while growling. She screamed bloody murder and jumped around for about 5 minutes- really creeped her out! Hilarious!! (You DON'T even want to know what she did to me.)
- I was hall monitor with 3 other ladies in the dorm. The girls were being little Divas- ohhh the drama we put up with AND they would do stuff like steal our phones or hide in each others rooms so we had to do count several times before going off duty. One Sat. nite the Dean was gone, we informed the Assistent Dean of our plan. During late-night room check we put vasoline on their inside doorknobs- slicked 'em up real good! Then set off the fire alarms. 3 floors of half-asleep, panicky girls tried to open slick doors with no luck. We let them yell for about 5 mins., turned off the alarms, announcing on the PA "false alarm, go back to sleep".
- I often made treats for neighbors. Once I made cookies with lots of baking soda in them. Delivered them myself and sat there waiting for them to try the fresh cookies. They were eager at first, then tried to be polite- even though the salty/bitter taste was overwhelming. I encouraged them to eat that batch and call me as soon as they were gone so I could bring more. After a while, I called to ask how they liked the cookies. I said, "Hey, you never called, but I figured you were out by now, so I made you 2 dozen more of the same recipe." She stammered, trying to come up with a legit reason NOT to bring them over.
- A joke in our family was decorating the deer-head trophy in Grandpa's house with Grandma's big jewelry. Oh YES, the deer looked really sweet in big clip-on earrings, rings on it's antlers, a frilly scark around it's neck and a rose in it's mouth.

Things to consider when playing pranks:
1) Consider age, health & sense of humor of intended targets. Generally NOT a good idea to scare the elderly or mess with really serious people. Not a good idea to play a joke on your new boss. Never, never in church.
2) Make sure your joke won't seriously hurt any person or animal, or make someone sick.
3) Have a camcorder or camera on hand to capture the fun.
4) Don't pull pranks that will obviously hurt someone's feelings. Example, I never joke around with my Bubba teeth if someone present has bad teeth.
5) Use evenings or weekends- people are relaxed and have time to clean-up if it's messy. If you dump a bucket of water on your secretary, she's going to have to sit at her desk with bad hair and wet clothes all day- unless she has the best sense of humor ever- she will probably hate you.
6) A prank should stir somebody up- fluster them, but don't be cruel. Telling a mother her kids are missing or injured is NOT funny! Don't do anything with real body fluids- gross!!
7) Don't permanently damage property- clothing, car or home. Friends quickly turn into enemies this way.
8) Safest bets are wild scenarios, making mystery sounds, funny smells that will go away and bad tastes.
9) Pick someone to prank who isn't obviously in a hurry- they get ticked off easily.
10) Don't take it too far! If it's obvious the target of your humor is seriously upset, admit it's a joke & apologize.
11) If you play a joke on someone, they may play one on you. Be a good sport. Don't dish it out if you can't take it.
12) Whenever possible, make a fool of yourself, instead of someone else. I do this well & enjoy the reactions I get.

What was your best prank ever? Was a joke ever played on you?? :o)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Things that Cannot be Taken...

This unpredictable world can take a lot of things away. My family, happiness, job, health, youth - even my life.
Nothing lasts here. The material goods that we often neglect our family for and work so hard to possess don't last. Cars break down, animals die, clothing wears out, houses burn, fame is fleeting and relationships can fade away.
There are two things that nobody can take away. Our faith and remembrances. People of great passion went to the lions and into the flames with their faith still intact. I've seen elderly people smiling and peaceful on their deathbeds because of the wonderful memories they have made- with so few regrets.

So I'm taking time to build my faith and make great memories. I leave a little bit of me for my children via this journal and the book of quotes, poetry & sayings I have been writing for them since they were babies. I want them to know about my journey in life- how I felt about things, the struggles I faced, and what my dreams were. Life has always been precious to me. I savor it- both the tears and the laughter. What a gift it is to exist, to have a heart that is able to experience, to FEEL... At times this passion in me is overwhelming- as if it will consume me- it is a flame that rises again and again from the ashes of disappointment. There is so much love in my heart...

We all share a common thread in that we only have 12 active hours in each day to manage. I want to use them wisely- to claim at least a little bit of each day for myself in which to exercise, pray and reflect upon my goals. I want to invest in someone else with some of each day and work toward making their lives better and helping their dreams come true. I want to give generously to my children. When comes my time to die, I hope to have lived in such a way as to be remembered. Not worshipped, but missed. I guess my biggest fear has always been that my passing will barely be noticed. I believe that time is still far off, but one can never be sure... few things are certain.

Some of my best memories are riding my bike, playing on the farm and in the creek as a child. Riding horses on beautiful mountain trails. Sitting up all night by a campfire with my best friend- just because. Attending music festivals, the fluttery feeling of falling in love, getting my first puppy, dancing alone in the moonlight, seeing my children's faces for the very first time. I miss the laughter I knew before life became so heavy. Early on I thought some of my light-heartedness would wear off on my man, instead I find I have become much too serious. After a decade of being tucked quietly away from society, ignored, forgotten and doing the same chores day after day- I lost myself. Every so often, for just a moment- a little of my former self emerges again- then I play a prank on someone or throw my head back and laugh till it hurtsl!!! :o)

All my life I've had a list of things I want to do. Every year the list grows smaller. This is a great blessing- I am grateful because it means many of my goals have been met. There are still several things left. For one, I would like to travel the world, to see and embrace cultures that I've only ever read about. I wish to record some of the music Jay & I have written. I want to learn how to be content with what I have, who I know and where I am and yet, there is always this strong desire for something more... a deeper connection with God and those around me. God, help me invest myself in things that cannot be taken...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ode to Color...

My favorite color is Blue!
Cornflowers grow beside the road in Periwinkle hues
I love the cool-blue of my Daddy's eyes
The deep, rich color of Summer blueberries
The silvery gray-blue of Winter skies.
I love the aqua-blue of the sea, blue-violet meadows, the bold look of navy,
People of any race seem to look good in shades of Blue.
Blue can be mellow, Blue can be bold.
It bring feelings of warmth or the sensation of cold.
God created us under a canopy of blue.

I enjoy the color Green!
Soothes my soul with it's very presence
in pastures lush and mountain evergreens
Green can be bright & energetic, but when soft, fills me with peace
Nothing is as elegant to me as Jade, Emerald is a deeper shade
Green causes me to reflect on the good in my life, to unwind
it's the color of compromise- a blending of blue and yellow
So pleasant, inspires me to forgive when others are unkind
Reminds me of Spring & harvest time, makes me feel serene
God made us to stand upon a carpet of green.

I can identify with the color Red!
It's richness lends the Rose her beauty
Red is bold, defiant, vibrant and
stirs great passion for love and duty
It is often the grand finale of a sunset
Red sparks the inner courage, it inspires
It is the color of power and of passage,
staining the rites of birth and death.
As innocent as the Apple, as tempting as desire
God gave us the color red to reflect our inner fire

What if we could only see in black & white- how boring that would be!
Color is more than just shades of paint. Enjoy a variety of people & cultures.
This builds & enhances character. Different experiences enhance different elements of personality.
Sometimes, this is pleasant, sometimes challenging, but always worthwhile. To live is like developing fine art.
Each person you encounter adds something. Color your life!!!!!