Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Take it to the Grave


I had the privilege of taking my kids to Arlington National Cemetery last April and was able to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I witnessed this ceremony as a young child, but as an adult I have much more appreciation and a tremendous amount of respect for the honorable men and women of our Armed Forces that guard the Tomb 24/7, 365 days per year in extreme heat and cold, rain, sleet or snow.

As we walked through the cemetery I was awed by the rows and rows of meticulously placed white tombstones - markers for those who have served our country and are laid to rest there. As I took in the sight I thought about how each tombstone represents a man or woman and that some gave their life serving their country while others served their country and went on to live their lives. Some were farmers, and teachers, carpenters, businessmen and women, nurses, doctors, and clergymen and each had their own story. Then I began to wonder how many of those buried in Arlington died with 'unfinished business' in their hearts. Who died with anger or contempt towards a brother or neighbor, un-forgiveness or bitterness towards their mother or father, an ex-spouse or 'used-to-be' friend? Who had let these things destroy their life and take away any hope for real, true happiness or joy that they might have experienced in life?

The other day I was saddened as I read an article about a couple from Brooklyn who were murdered in their home this past summer. What really struck me was the title “Bitter to the End – and Beyond”. Apparently they detested many in life, mainly members of their immediate family, and when they wrote their will, they allowed all of their bitterness to spew forth and literally filled it with all the hatred they had stored up. Now the whole world has knowledge of this and most likely this couple will be remembered not for the good they may have done, but for the will they left behind laced with acerbic words for their family. How sad that they chose for their last words to be hurtful, hateful and vengeful instead of forgiving and healing.

I don’t think this couple is any different than me or you or millions of others in the world. They are just as human and prone to allowing past hurts and resentments quench the true joy and happiness we can experience in life. Un-forgiveness is a slow death, like strapping the person we have issues with to our back and carrying them around until we crumble under the weight. It’s giving others control and power over us. If I can forgive, I’m essentially taking them off my back, freeing myself of the burden and not allowing them to control my life any longer. We should take the saying 'get off my back' literally!

I know as a Christian that I am called to love. Not just those that I like and get along with, but those that I don't like or those that say things about me or persecute me. God makes that very clear when he tells us in Romans 10:12 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. If I have bitterness, anger or un-forgiveness in my heart how can I do what God tells me to do – which is love others? If I can't forgive how can God forgive me? Mark 11:25 -And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Living victoriously in Christ and loving others is dealing with our past hurts, anger and un-forgiving hearts and learning to love as Christ loves us. Its living Ephesians 4:31-3; Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It's easier to be un-forgiving than forgiving. But, I don't want to go to my grave and not have taken full advantage of living victoriously in Christ and receiving all of the hope and joy that He has for me in my life. That would be cheating myself out of some pretty cool things I know God has for me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The New Passion


So, my daughter has suddenly developed an intense passion for dirt biking and because she has inherited my ‘Ultimate Adventure Gene’ along with ‘The Faster the Better Gene’ I’m not too sure I’m thrilled about this. When she was ten, I bought a snowmobile and she took a liking to that because ‘Look mom, I can do over 50mph on this thing’, and she did. So when she tells me she’s going riding, I do the responsible mother thing and give her ‘the talk’ about being careful and smart and not doing dumb things, yada-yada, but I still send up a big ol’ prayer for her.

I must admit that is one of the things I really love about my daughter. She is crazy and ridiculously adventurous and not afraid of anything. She is willing to learn new things, so she is out in the garage with her step-dad changing spark plugs, oil and clutches (uh, don’t ask). And, I have a hard time not allowing her to do something that she is developing a passion for. I tried to limit her to riding in the back yard because that is oh-so-safe, but I realize I need to let her ride where there are no fences.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lovable vs Unlovable

My day started out today with the crushing realization, when I was moments from arriving at work that I left my brewed to perfection(yay Jon!) steaming hot to-go mug of coffee sitting on my kitchen counter. Since I refuse to do drugs, coffee is my addiction of choice and because I am obsessive compulsive about having my coffee in the mornings I had to make a pit-stop at Starbucks to get my fix. Isn't it funny how we let the small things like that rule us? So what happens when we let the big things rule us?

I think a big thing that rules us is not liking and loving people and I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I know several people that I don't like and really don't want to love and my crummy, prideful humanness has made it easier to not love than to love. It's easy to make excuses as to why I can't or won't do the one massively huge, seemingly impossible thing God tells me to do (love the unlovable).

For whatever reason, other people can just be mean, ridiculous, hurtful, spiteful, irritating and unforgiving. I've known people who finger point at me while throwing out bible verses and 'f-bombs' and that's using God as a weapon(is that when you move out of the way for fear of lightning strikes?). I've used all those things and more as an excuse to not love others and I was totally convicted of it this morning when I was reading my devotion. One thing in particular that caught my attention was, "the person we dislike is still a soul for whom Christ died." That is a whoa statement if I ever read one. I have been the receiver of much more of God's grace than I deserve and so have the one's I don't want to put an effort into loving. But to do any less than give my best at that seemingly impossible task would be to minimize the grace I've so graciously received.

God didn't say we get to pick and choose who we love, he made it very clear that we are to love those we find easy to love as well as our enemies (UGH!) and the not-so-lovable.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer Camp


Summer camp for kids is in full swing. Whether it's through your church, parks and recreation or some other organization, 'Little Johnny and Suzy' are away enjoying all that campdom has to offer. And some parents are getting a much needed break (you know who you are). My son loves his week away at summer camp and I recently received this letter from him.

Dear Mom,

Scoutmaster Webb told us to write our parents in case you heard about the flood and got worried. We're all OK. Only one of our tents and two of our sleeping bags got washed away. Nobody drowned because we were all on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yeah, please call Chad's mother and tell her he's OK. He can't write her because of the cast on his arm.

I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps! It was neat! We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn't been for all the lightning.

Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire, so he probably didn't hear him.

Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? It was so cool! The wet wood still wouldn't burn, but one of our tents did, and some of our clothes. Boy, Johnny is going to look weird until his hair grows back!

We'll be home Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked when we left, but he said with a car that old you have to expect something to break down. That's probably why he can't get insurance. We think it's a neat car. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 15 people in the car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and yelled at him.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn't let me because I can't swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You still can see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn't crabby like some Scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about us leaving the life jackets behind. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car, so we're trying not to cause him any trouble.

Guess what? We passed our First Aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also, Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick like that with the food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our Scoutmaster. He said he figured out how to do things better while he was doing time.

I have to go now. We are going into town to mail this and buy some bullets and more gasoline. Don't worry about anything. We are doing just fine.

Love,
Your son


Seriously, my son had a great time at camp through Westside Church. It is encouraging to see two buses full of 64(!) middle-schoolers pull up to the church after a week away full of excitement about their time spent at camp. The volunteers who spend their time loving on our kids at camp have a special place in heaven no doubt. Thanks for making a difference in my son's life. You rock!

Friday, August 15, 2008

What The Heck is Wordle?




I answered that question when I found this really cool website - it's http://wordle.net . You can do all kinds of different designs with words(click on the images above for a bigger view). I am having a totally pissy day and had a much more sarcasticapalooza one but since I try to be family friendly, I just did all of the words from my blog. Much safer that way...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How About Booty Instead?

So I'm on my way to church this morning with my 12 year old son and we're having a nice chat about his upcoming first-ever deer hunt in which he can legally, because of his coming of age, slay his first deer should one happen to stand long enough in front of the oncoming arrow. Anyway, as I passed Alpenglow Cafe I noticed the reader board on the side of the building of what used to be the Elks Lodge. I'll admit that I was a little shocked to see "I See You Baby Shakin That Ass". Now I don't know if the act that is performing (based on the name, which I can't totally remember but I think it had the word Metal in it) is Metal, Rap, Stand-up, Donkey Basketball, whatever. And maybe that is one of their songs, or the title of the show - I have no idea. But isn't it a little crass to use the word ass on a reader board in downtown Bend? I'm just saying.

I know that in the summer at any given time there are approximately 89,347 tourists visiting our lovely town. Approximately two-thirds of those are children and probably 50% of them were eating breakfast at Alpenglow Cafe this morning(that place is always jammin' when I drive by on Sunday's - they must be serving up some mean grub). And, I don't know if that reader board is really a great way of promoting our downtown. As a side note, my PC disclaimer is, I have never been to that place and I have no opinion whatsoever of the food, entertainment, management and I am not knocking this place. I'm just making an observation about the sign.

I was thinking that maybe for the sake of classing up the sign you could replace ass with booty(I never thought I'd use class and booty in the same sentence). When I think of booty I usually have an image of some black rappers who are surrounded by scantily clad women with large posteriors and are dancing around 'shakin' their thang'. If that is not the type of act that will be performing perhaps you could make an exception just this once and make booty work.

I was going to include a picture of the sign but thought that would be too much sensationalism and give them more attention than I'm already giving them. And maybe I'm the only one that was slightly taken aback by this, but my votes for booty.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sunset...

I thought I'd set my sarcasim aside today and share some pictures I took of a most incredible sunset last night from my deck. It's like God's version of a big bowl of rocky road ice cream with real marshmallows and not marshmallow cream before bed. Yay God!!





Friday, August 8, 2008

Dang, I Met The TooTightyWhitey Blogger

There are some ridiculous people out there. Seriously, I encountered the tootightywhitey blogger. I mean this guy needs to switch to boxers or something. I'm just saying.

What is it with bloggers who can't handle a comment that doesn't necessarily agree with their anti-whatever rants? I make one little comment based totally on fact to repute what he has to say and he responds with a rant that is obscenity laced, factless and he has to make sure and tell me what a 'B' word I am just to make his point. Dude, you are so lucky that you have no idea just how much of a 'B' word I can be (yeah, just ask my husband..wink, wink.)

Get a handle on it. You're ridiculous.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Stepfamilies Can Be Ridiculous

Being in a stepfamily is tough. I mean marriage between two people is hard enough, but when you add kids-of-the-bride and kids-of-the-groom to the mix, you don't necessarily get a lovely shaken-not-stirred watermelon martini with a twist of orange. If all stepfamilies were such a thing, something like 78% of the US would be happily drunk on blended-familydom. Rather, it's more like we're nursing a horrendous hangover from drinking one too many Schlitz-the-most-disgusting-excuse-for-beer-ever-made Malt Liquors (yes, I'm a beer snob).

There are a gazillion specialists out there who have written books, blogs and articles about the stepfamily myths and what in fact is reality (reality for whom?). I have looked at some of the myths floating around in cyber-space and while it looks good in writing, it is very ridiculous in reality. I'm going to take a few of the 'realities' and tell you what I have found to be, well, actual reality.

1. Successful stepfamilies will become integrated over time.
Now I can't predict the future or what will happen when all of the kids finally become mature adults (we hope), but given the track record of the past three years, I don't see the 'big-happy-Waltons family happening at our house. There may at some point be a roomful of maturity big enough to put differences and pasts aside and get along just for the sake of getting along, but I'm not going to lose sleep over something I can't control. I'm just saying.

2. Stepmothers can be wicked.
Now this depends on your definition of wicked. At times, yes, I have been the wicked (unpleasant) stepmother who has had catastrophically progressive melt-downs because of issues with my stepkids or failed to hide my radically intense irritation with them. I have also tried to do some things to help foster a relationship with them and that is wicked cool.

3. Two-thirds of children adjust in time and are satisfied with their new families.
I don't know who came up with this percentage, but personally, I think some stepfamily guru probably pulled this out of the air to lend some positive fluffage to stepfamily reality. From the blended families I know (mine included), and from the blogs, comments and articles I've read, actual percentage of kids satisfied with their new family is significantly lower.

These are just a few of the myths I've debunked and I'm not saying it's all doom and gloom. We seem to have found some semblance of balance in the house - not that it runs perfectly- but for the most part, we have learned to just hum along. Do I wish we were the Walton's? Sometimes. For now we just do the best we can with what we have. I think I hear a watermelon martini calling my name and that is wicked cool.