"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's What You Do

Laughter. I don't think there is anything that makes me laugh harder than when I see myself in certain situations and I can relate to the people involved.

I remember years ago watching a movie where the humor was so much like mine, I laughed through the entire 2 hours. Today, I don't even remember what movie it was. But I do remember the laughter. I had seen myself caught in the same situations as the heroin of the comedy over and over and over. Boy, could I relate.

Well I haven't laughed like that in some time. Until today. I was resting a while, not even paying that much attention to the television. I had actually dozed off. When I woke, I woke to the commercial in the video below. Though, I had seen other ads that were similar by the same company, it is the first time I had seen this one. I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

I am not promoting the product I simply hope it makes you laugh, too.

Here is to more laughter in 2016...especially when it is at ourselves.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Working at Grace - The Christmas Tree Saga

Oh Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches.  And it is time that you went up, once and for all! I mean it is the season, right?

I had been dropping hints to both my husband and my son, how I like to get the Christmas tree up early. And that I thought it was time to go get one. My hints fell on deaf ears.  They were both busy. My husband was having some difficulties with his hand and things simply didn’t seem to be working out.

I sought out my son’s help, texting him: “If we don’t get a tree pretty soon, I am not going to even want to put one up.” This was late for us; usually, we have our tree up the first few days in December. I hadn’t been feeling that well myself, and I was really feeling like putting a tree up was way too much work for only a couple weeks in advance. Truthfully, I didn’t really feel like having a tree at all, and I knew if we waited too long, it just wasn’t going to happen.

My son quickly texted back. “If you get the tree, I will help you put it up tonight when I get off shift.”
Alrighty then! I can do that. I had an appointment in the little town where we like to get our trees, anyway. I headed in early, so I could get everything done before my appointment; that way after, I could just head straight home before it got dark.

I also had several boxes in my car that I was planning on taking to Goodwill. It should work out perfectly. Take the boxes to Goodwill, go get the tree, and be just in time for my appointment. But we all know things, never work out perfectly. I arrived at Goodwill simply to find a sign that read: “Out to lunch. Be back at 2:00.” 
Ok, well that’s just a little bump. I will just go get the tree. Surely one will fit in the car if I move some of the boxes around. But we all know….

I started looking at the trees. They were beautiful this year. I found one that I really liked, perfectly shaped, but it was just a bit smaller than we usually get. I knew the guys liked the bigger trees.  So I looked a little further. And Bingo! I found the tree I couldn’t live without. It was beautiful!  A Grand Fir! And it was so fragrant the minute I pulled it up from its leaning position to get a better view I had no doubt that it was fresh. Ugh! But would it fit in my car? 
I went into the store to ask the clerk, if I could pay and then come back with a pickup. Could she set it aside for me for later? “No, we can’t do that”, she bluntly told me.

“Ok. Well then, can I see if I can fit it in my car before I pay for it?”
“Sure”, she kindly responded.  “This is a small town. We trust you. And all the proceeds go to our local food bank.”

Oh how I liked that. Now I realllllly wanted this tree. So I went back outside to look at it again. Yeah, it was perfect. I carefully drug it over to my car so as not to wreck any of the branches, and truthfully so as not to hurt my sore leg any further. There was no way, I could lift it. The next dilemma occurred to me as I opened up the back hatch of the car. How was I going to lift it in there?
That’s when I heard a voice behind me. “Would you like some help with that?” Much to my surprise, it was a woman; about my age. But I was smart enough to answer in the affirmative.  “Would you mind?” I quickly answered.

Then began the struggle. And oh what a struggle it was. I think the woman came to realize she was dealing with someone who was really quite daft. There was no way this tree was going to fit in this car. And when she saw all the boxes…Oh MY!!! But she had a spirit of determination, just like me. She was however, a little more worried about the tree then I was. She was not about to let any of those branches get bent. When I suggested we put the point forward so it would rest between the seats all the way through, she about had a heart attack…”But you will ruin all the branches when you pull it back out.”
I relented. And we turned it around the other way…but there was no way that was going to work…and it also became apparent that she was wrong. No matter which way we put the tree in, the branches would be bent the opposite way, either coming in or going out.

We pushed, we shoved, we pulled; we changed positions. We moved more stuff. It just wasn’t happening. Then she spotted a tarp that had never been out of the package on the floor of my car. “Can we use this?” she politely asked.
“Sure!” I enthusiastically responded. I immediately saw the benefit in what she was thinking. A little grace had just come our way.

“Now we just need something to tie the tarp to the tree,” she informed me. So I immediately started looking through the boxes that were going to Goodwill. I found some telephone cords that had never been out of the package. “Let’s use these!” I exclaimed.
So we busied ourselves with getting the tree tarped. Of course, the wind was gusting some pretty good gusts about this time. That’s how things go, you know. But we got it tarped. In the process, the window screen I had taken to have rescreened for my son’s new house, had gotten set out of the car until we could get the tree in, and the screen had been blown away never to be seen again. UGH!

But once tarped, the lady was comfortable with putting the tree in top-end first. It still required some repositioning of items, pushing, pulling, and shaking of heads. I finally remembered the back seats would lay down, and we could put the boxes on the seats when they were laid down. The head rests that had been so bothersome would then no longer be a problem. But I could only get one seat down. The other would not budge.
But one was enough. We pulled/pushed the tree the direction of that seat, and we finally had success. The tree was in!!

I thanked the lady (profusely), put the rest of the boxes back into the car and made my way back into the store to pay for the tree. As I headed into the store, I turned around to take another look at the lady and give her a wave good-bye. Oh my! If you could have only seen the expression on her face. It clearly read: “ARE YOU GOING IN TO PAY FOR THAT TREE??? YOU MEAN YOU HADN’T YET PAID FOR IT?  YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE THAT EXACT TREE?????  YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO PUT ME THROUGH THIS???” YOU, LADY ARE QUITE DAFT!!!!

Oh yeah! Pretty sure that was what she was thinking. I paid for the tree, delivered the boxes to Goodwill, went to my physical therapy appointment; and was home before dark. But that is just the beginning of my Christmas tree saga.

Christmas Tree Saga - Part II

Once I got home, getting the tree out of my vehicle was the easy part. It came out the way, I knew it would braches, pushed up – the way they are supposed to be. And of course it had helped that we had tarped it…sort of tarped it, that is.
I carefully drug the tree to the porch. Not so much for the tree’s sake, but for my own. I didn’t want to un-do what the physical therapy had just done. And there it would stay until Matt got here to help me put it up.

I busied myself with preparing dinner. I was going to make one of Matt’s favorites – beef stroganoff. And I had stopped and picked up his favorite pie for desert. No, I didn’t have time to make a home-made pie today.
But then I waited.  And I waited and I waited; and I waited some more. No Matt. Finally, about 9:00 I gave up and went to bed. There would be no sparkling cider, apple pie and Christmas tree decorating tonight.

I had just gotten into bed, when his text came. “I’m sorry! Late call. I will come now.”
“No, you don’t have to.” I texted back. “It’s late and you will have to get up early for shift tomorrow.”

“I want to,” he responded. “I feel bad for letting you down.”
“No.” I gave him easy grace. “Dad will do it.” I lied. I knew better. Dad wasn’t going to do it. Because I wasn’t going to wait that long.

“But you can stop by and get the pie I bought for you, you so can have it for shift tomorrow.”
“Ok. See you in a bit.”

Grace is good. He got here about 10:00 pm with apologies on his lips and in his heart.
"Don’t worry” I told him. “I understand. Was it a bad call?”

And he proceeded to tell me what details he could without violating anything that he should not reveal.
Listening as he shared, my heart was warmed. This was worth it all to see my son so happy with his job and so rewarded by what he does.

It is going to take a special woman to be the wife of a firefighter or police officer. She is going to have to have a servant heart exactly like them. Because it is a servant heart that is the thing that is most required to do the job that these men and women do. Their spouse will have to understand that, and be patient. They will need the same giving, servant heart in order to survive any of it. There is no room for self, for those (as well as their families) in either of these occupations.
“I will do the tree, Mom. It’s too big for you to do.”

“No, it’s late and you have to get up early. You need your sleep,” I reassured him. I will always be mom, first.
“Thanks for the pie, Mama! Love you.”

Christmas Tree Saga - Part III

I woke early, just as I always do. Late hours, don’t prevent me from waking at my normal time. Bullet is in control of that. He wants breakfast and he wants to go out for potty. And he wants both, like right NOW!

So once the animals were all taken care of and after I had a few minutes with a cup of coffee and some reading, I knew exactly what I would do next.  I was going to tackle that tree.  Now I knew this was going to be no easy task. I remember trying to put our tree up alone once when Matthew was little. The most difficult part was sawing off that base, so that it would be open to receive water to keep it fresh. I remember being in tears before I finally got that stupid base sawed through. I must not have had a very good saw.

So, it was this time. Four saws and quite a few tears later, I had made it through that base. Don’t know why I can’t saw!  But I CAN’T saw!!! “Lord, PLEAAAAASE let me do something right just one time.”
Sshh sshh sshh sshh sshh sshh sshh. Bam, I was finally through and I have the little round disk to prove it. I had received some much needed grace.

Alrighty then, let’s get this bad boy into the house. That wasn’t easy either. But with the kind lady’s advice fresh on my mind, I was smart enough this time to be paying attention which way the branches would be going when I pulled it through the door. This time it was going to have to go in base first. UGH!!!
But I did it. I had already gotten the stand out of the garage and laid down some towels to protect the carpet, just in case any moisture would be leaked. I was going to water that tree DAILY one way or another. I wasn’t about to lose all the efforts of my sawing and have it all be for naught.

Next challenge…lifting the doggone thing into the stand. Shouldn’t be doing this! For sure! But sometimes, one just gets so fed up with not being able to do anything, the anger just pushes one through. Such was the case, this time. Thank God for my anger. That tree would still not be set up if not for my raging temper. I wasn’t about to have all my sawing go to waste. That tree was going to be in water within a half hour or I was going to die doing it. Somehow by the Grace of God, I did it…and didn’t die.
Grace is good.

And sometimes just every so often, so is a little anger. But of course the tree was crooked. And I was pretty sure there was no way I would ever be able to make it straight by myself. But at least it was in water.  I gave up.
It was time to get ready to meet my friend, anyway, for the Christmas shopping we had planned. That’s when the phone rang.

“Jan, I’m sorry!  I can’t go.”
Well then, now I have time on my hands and that crooked tree is dead center in front of my face for the whole rest of the day. I can’t live like that. This is where Matt says, I have too much of my dad in me. The perfectionist that can never wait.

I remember someone telling me once that I was a perfectionist.  “I can’t be!” I had exclaimed. “Nothing that I do is ever perfect.”
The person just walked away laughing. I don’t remember who that was. I remember I was confused. I didn’t “get it”.  I do now. Perfection doesn’t mean things are perfect or are ever going to be. It means a perfectionist just has to work a little harder at understanding grace.

But back to that tree. I had the whole day. I had to get it decorated now that I had the time, and that meant I would have to get it set straight in the stand…all by myself. That meant getting down on my hands and knees to adjust the screws. I can’t do that right now…get down. If I do, I might never get back up.  But there is that thing in me, that just won’t relent…that thing that is going to make a tree fit in a car whether it fits or not….yes…that thing!
So down I went. I unscrewed and screwed…I pushed and pulled and pulled and pushed some more. I stuck my bad leg out and then I pushed the other one out. My arms were holding on to the chair…somehow I had to get up. I pushed with my arms and somehow managed to get up off the ground. I looked at the tree. It was still crooked, but not nearly as bad.  I made my way down to the floor, once again. I screwed and unscrewed…pushed and pulled.

I worked…and I mean I worked at getting up off the ground again. I looked at the tree. And miraculously….I saw – Grace!
Let the decorating begin!



Saturday, December 5, 2015

At The End Of My Ride

The unusual evergreen was just a sapling when I used to look for it each time we drove to Spokane. Well, maybe it was a bit more than a sapling, but not by much.  It was just about the same size as my favorite maple tree that grew in the front yard of my childhood home in the 1960’s. I am not certain what species the little evergreen was that sat along the highway. I just called it a pine tree. In reality, I’m not sure it was a pine. But it was unusual and noticeable because it had a crook in the middle of the trunk about 4 feet from the ground. It almost looked like someone could sit there comfortably in that little crook.  And when we drove by, I always used to imagine there was indeed, someone sitting there.

When I was a kid in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the road we now call Seltice Way was then the main highway to Spokane. This little tree sat in the treed area (One can’t call it a median because it was a much larger area than that) between the east and west lanes of the highway. Yep, back then we just called it the highway – it was Highway 10.  Later we got the “freeway”. I believe construction of the freeway started in the late 60’s. I am not entirely sure. But I do know construction of the interstate from Wallace to Spokane was more than a decade long process, occurring from the late 50’s to 1970. It wasn’t until our little Coeur d’Alene community became much more “sophisticated” - probably in the 80’s or 90’s - that we started calling the freeway by its official name: “I-90”. Yeah right, it will always be “the freeway” to me.
But I digress. Back to my story of that little evergreen that grew by the “highway to Spokane” when I was a kid. As I said, every time we drove this highway, I would look for that tree with the crook in it. When I saw it, I pretended someone was sitting there, waiting for me. Sometimes he was there with his guitar. Sometimes he just sat there waving at us and smiling when he saw us approaching. But he was always there. Who was this faithful person always waiting there for me? Why, it was Rowdy Yates!! Oh, come on! You know Rowdy! Handsome, young ramrod from the hit television show Rawhide!  Clint Eastwood, in “real life”. Rawhide was a popular series that aired from 1959 to 1966. 

Rowdy Yates
I think I have written about Rowdy before. I probably had the worst crush a young girl could ever have on Rowdy Yates. When I was about 5, every time the show would begin I would wait for the credits to roll and they would show each of the stars' faces from this hit series. Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) the trail boss; Wishbone (Paul Brinegar) the cook; Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley) the singing scout who watched out for trouble; and of course Rowdy Yates, (Clint Eastwood) the ramrod…whatever that meant. I LOVED each of these actors (still do) but When Rowdy’s face appeared on the television screen, inevitably I would be there waiting to kiss that handsome man on the TV screen. YES! I am admitting that! Please remember I was 5. Later when I was a bit older, I would play in the yard, as well as Grandpa’s pasture, pretending Gil Favor was my dad, Pete Nolan was my Uncle Pete, and Wishbone was my grandpa! Of course Rowdy Yates was my husband! Together, we would drive those cows, then put our horses away and have a good meal at the end of the drive that Wishbone had prepared for us.

Rowdy Yates and Gil Favor
Anyway, I digress once again – back to the highway…and Rowdy Yates...with his guitar. Like I said, he was always there waiting for me. Well over the years, after I became an adult (sort of), every so often I had occasion to drive that old highway. That fond memory of course would come to my mind and I would look for that tree. But it had been so many years that things had changed; I couldn’t really remember the exact location. The trees and bushes had all grown up, dynamics changed. I never again found that young sapling with the crook in the trunk. I quit looking a long time ago. UNTIL YESTERDAY!!! I wasn't even looking for it, but all of a sudden I spotted that familiar, but unusual tree!

Pete Nolan and Wishbone
Driving back (heading east) from my husband’s doctor appointment the tree caught my eye! I wasn’t looking for it because I was convinced a long time ago that the crooked tree was long gone. But then, suddenly right  "out of the blue" there it was. The funny thing was, when I was a kid, I always found it driving west – on our way to Spokane! This time, after all the years of looking, I found the tree as we drove east.  It was of course much larger, having lived and grown more than 50 years. The crook was still there, but it had all grown together, much as an old man would garner a big, fat gut from all the years of eating improperly without enough exercise. There was no longer room there for anyone to ever find a seat to sit and wait for me. But OH! I was happy to have found that tree! And guess what???!!! Rowdy Yates was still there!! Standing this time, weathered a bit with age; but playing his guitar, smiling and singing as we drove by!  

"Cut 'em out, ride 'em in, ride 'em in, cut 'em out, cut 'em out, ride 'em  in, Rawhide!  My heart's calculatin', my true love will be waitin', be waitin' at the end of my ride."

by Ned Washington
Recorded in 1958 by Frankie Laine
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rawhide
Rollin' rollin' rollin', though the streams are swollen
keep them doggies rollin', Rawhide!
Through rain and wind and weather, sure bent for leather,
wishin' my gal was by my side.
All the things I'm missin', good viddies, love and kissin',
are waitin' at the end of my   ride.

Move 'em on, head 'em up, head 'em up, move 'em on,
move 'em on, head 'em up, Rawhide!
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in, ride 'em in, cut 'em out,
cut 'em out,ride 'em  in, Rawhide!
Keep movin' movin' movin', though they are disapprovin'
keep them doggies movin', Rawhide!
Don't try to understand them, just rope, throw and brand 'em, 
soon we'll be livin' high and wide.
My heart's calculatin', my true love will be waitin',
be waitin' at the end of my  ride.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rawhide

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Deep Into The Soil - In Confidence

He plugged in the new CD for me as I sat shotgun waiting to hear. I don’t think it took more than two lines before I had tears springing to my eyes. It was Alan Jackson’s new CD and I had been anxious to hear it. My son, knowing that, had bought me one on his last trip to town.
Spread your wings, don't be afraid to try. The world can be hard, you gotta live a little 'fore you die. So open that door, step out in the bright sunshine Follow your heart, and remember any time You can always come home…
I knew in my heart immediately the story behind this song. This was something Alan Jackson’s Daddy Gene had told him, when he left home. Obviously, he had in turn told his own daughters when it came time and he was now sharing it with the world in song.
I wasn’t surprised at all when I later heard that is exactly the back story behind this song. That’s why I love country music and Alan Jackson – there is always a back story that in the end is simply about life.
I guess I was more sensitive to this song, as my own son was also leaving home. Oh, he had left home before for summers at a time. I had already felt a bit of the empty nest syndrome, but now he had bought his own house. It was permanent this time.
Then too, the line in the song’s title “You Can Always Come Home” is so contrary to today’s thinking. Most parents today, are glad to get their kids out of the house and they don’t want them to come back. “You can always come home” is contrary to Thomas Wolfe’s negative novel You Can Never Go Home Again that we were required to read in school. The world’s view! Certainly not my view and apparently not country music’s view.
So I relished in the words; taking them all in as I listened. It was so encouraging, so uplifting to hear something in support of the way that things should be. We want the best for our kids. We want to be there for them. But at the same time we should absolutely glory in the fact that they are capable and ready to leave home. We want them to spread their wings and fly. For then we have truly done our jobs well.
We have all heard the old quote:
There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other wings.
There are a few different versions of this quote, with no one being able to settle on the true source.  I don’t really care about that. I just believe deeply the truth in the thought that is taught here.
Good parents give their children roots and wings: roots to know where home is, and wings to fly off and practice what has been taught them.
I like the version below best, and it seems to be attributed to the original – printed in a newspaper without citing the source, but rather from an anonymous woman.
A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these she said is roots, the other, wings. And they can only be grown, these roots and these wings, in the home. We want our sons’ roots to go deep into the soil beneath them and into the past, not in arrogance but in confidence.
I love that!! "Our sons' roots to go deep...not in arrogance but in confidence." Of course, the same is (or should be) for our daughters as well, but I have a son, so this speaks to my heart.
The roots we have built for our sons life is of course as important as the wings we have given him. But it is simply time for the wings. And that is as it should be.
But my favorite part of the song, because I am a mom? 
You know that there's someone praying for you every day Even if you never find your way You'll never be alone, in your heart there's still a place No matter how right or wrong you've gone
You can always come home
"You Can Always Come Home"

Spread your wings, don't be afraid to try
The world can be hard, you gotta live a little 'fore you die
So open that door, step out in the bright sunshine
Follow your heart, and remember any time

 You can always come home
Wherever life's road leads, you can get back
To a love that's strong and free
You never be alone, in your heart there's still a place
No matter how right or wrong you've gone
You can always come home

 So pack your bags, smile and say goodbye
And chase those dreams, and when you lay down and die
You know that there's someone praying for you every day
Even if you never find your way
You can always come home

Wherever life's road leads, you can get back
To a love that's strong and free
You never be alone, in your heart there's still a place
No matter how right or wrong you've gone
You can always come home

 When I was young, my daddy said to me
The very same words and I took those words with me
When I was afraid, I'd pull them out and think
Just how much they mean to me
You can always come home

Wherever life's road leads, you can get back
To a love that's strong and free
You'll never be alone, in your heart there's still a place
No matter how right or wrong you've gone
You can always come home


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Out In It

We got our first snow, last night. Well not the very first, but the first that had any substance. I woke about 2:30 am or so, and it was coming down nicely. I knew we would have at least a couple inches by morning. There is something so calming about the first snow. It is so peaceful and so beautiful. I prayed for my son, knowing it would make his job more difficult. I asked that I might be able to just tuck in and stay home for the day. I never like to go anywhere the first snow. People need time to get their "sea legs"; to find out just how their cars are going to react. It is never a pretty sight. I just try to stay home.

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Shakespeare. I love that quote. I absolutely love it. I haven't been able to write lately. I'm sure no one wants to read the breathings of my heart, with the way I have been feeling. Ha! Or maybe they would and then use it against me. That's what it seems some people do, you know.

Everything is all covered in white. It is clean and pure and soft. Just like we are when Jesus changes us. So very beautiful, so very clean.

But today, the snow won't last for long. The rains are sure to come when the temperatures rise, as predicted. We are even supposed to have 60 to 70 mile per hour winds this afternoon. A sure force that will take away all the pretty white.

Winds strong and ferocious much like the gossip and tongue of those who think they know it all. Like those who preach forgiveness, but have none. That cast blame but with a log in their own eye. They huff and they puff and they try to blow the Christian away.

But the pureness and softness that Jesus brings cannot be blown away by the heartlessness of others; like the winds that can blow away a gentle snow.

Well there, now. There are the breathings of my heart - for this moment, anyway. Staying home and out of the way, until others find their sea legs and I get my bearings.

Continuing to pray for my son, as he is one that is out in it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life is Random

This post is just going to be random thoughts…well, because life is random.

I hate change. I always have and I suspect I always will. I don’t adapt well, I miss what is past. I don’t think I really fight it, I simply don’t like it. There are a whole lot of changes going on…I am not in my best element right now. And I’m holding on too tight. Maybe that is fighting it. But I believe it is only mentally that I fight.
There have been some beautiful sunrises this fall. Beautiful sunsets too. It seems autumn is the best time for beautiful skies. Autumn reminds me of our old neighbors and maple leaves. We have neither of them now.

There was a “fingernail moon” last night. “Fingernail moons” will forever and always remind me of my son. I like that. The simplistic beauty of that makes sense.
Daddy celebrated 90 years. I don’t remember the last time I saw my folks so happy throughout the party bash we threw for him. I didn’t get any photos, but I will keep their smiles forever in my mind.

My husband sees everything much more bright and clear now. He is very happy with two cataract surgeries behind him.
The lady and longtime family friend that has cut my hair forever has been ill. So, I went to a new hair stylist for the second time in a row. She has succeeded in totally messing up what I have liked oh for 40 years now I would say. Yes, 40 years on and off I have kept my hair the same. I simply don’t like change.

Alan Jackson’s music is therapeutic to me. It always has been…apparently it is to someone else, as well. I saw this meme on Facebook and laughed right out loud. Somebody gets it. Now don’t take that too seriously. I know from Whom my real therapy should come.
Sure wish “I knew then what I know now.” I would have appreciated my youth more.

I have two friends that I can pick up with like we were never away. Got to visit with one just recently. It was like cheesecake and coffee. Couldn’t have been better. Proof that at least in part some things never change. We are all older and they both are still miles away.
My dog Bella loves me more than any individual ever has – ever! She is hilarious. When it is time for a love, she buries her face into me, like she will “never let go”. And if she senses me starting to pull away, she leans in harder letting me know she simply isn’t ready to stop the attention just yet. She just wants to hold on tight. Hmmmmm

One thing I know. There is only one Constant in life. There has always been only one Constant. One thing that never changes, never has changed and never will change. And that is our Lord Jesus. What would I do in a world without at least one thing that will never change? Flat out simple answer. I wouldn’t survive.
“I hate this!” I texted my son with the best way I knew to express my unwillingness for this change. “’You can always come home.’”

“'Time marches on,’” he replied.
We both got it and that is the fun part. And truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is what it is supposed to be. I guess it just seems random.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

That's My Boy!

He came around the corner from the elevator just as I expected him to come - smiling. His face was red, from exertion, but he was not breathing particularly hard. He had just finished the Firefighters Portland Stair Climb for Cystic Fibrosis and we had come to cheer him on.

The stair climbs are common throughout the nation to earn money for certain charities. In Portland, the firefighters climb for Cystic Fibrosis. They climb 40 flights of stairs (800 steps) in full turn out gear with their SCBA masks using their oxygen. The climbers are timed, start to finish, to encourage a spirit of competitiveness. They have already garnered financial support from friends and family who in their generosity are the ones that make this event possible.
This was Matt’s first stair climb, so none of us knew fully what to expect. He thought that we would be able to be on the stairs at certain levels to watch the firefighters as they climbed. We thought that we would at least be able to be on the final stair level as the climbers finished.

“There isn’t enough room up there”, the man had kindly told me, when I had asked. He had paused before he answered my question - like he didn’t want to disappoint me. I guessed what he was going to say before he said it.
“Or is there even a place for us to watch up there?” I helped him out with the words with which he didn’t want to disappoint. That’s when he gave us our solution and instead took me to the place where it would be best to watch as the climbers finished.

“They will finish their climb and there will be EMT’s to check them out to be sure they are ok and allow them to rest a bit before they take the elevator back down.” He was showing us a roped off area that I had seen earlier and now I understood why. "This is where they will come out of the elevator."
He continued, “They will come out here then go back through those outside doors that the ropes lead to; they will walk along the street which enables them to come back through the front doors where the crowd will be waiting for them. But if you wait here, this is where you can see him first.”

Kind man, indeed. I knew I had liked him when we first arrived and he had greeted Matt with a friendly hello and some light-hearted jokes to make Matt feel more comfortable with the whole situation that was obviously new to him.
He showed Matt where to get signed in and gave him a bit of the information he needed to know. In the hall, there were several tables set up with sponsors and information about the event. I noticed a couple tables of t-shirts and water bottles. Turns out all the participants earned a t-shirt for their efforts, and those that were in the top tier for donations, also earned a sweat shirt. Matt got both.

We hadn’t thought in a million years Matt would be among the top donors. It had been a struggle initially to even meet his goal. But towards the end of the period, donations came from the most heart-warming, but unexpected places, which helped him surpass his goal putting him at number 15. This gave him another incredible advantage. It placed him in "Battalion 1" -  those honored to make the first climb. There were 7 battalions in all of 30 firefighters each. Being in the first battalion, allowed Matt to get his climb over early and simply be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the event.

We had arrived early that morning because we simply did not know what to expect. They opened the doors at 7:00 am with the first climb scheduled for 9:00 am. As we waited, we learned a little of what would take place. The battalions would be lined up only as it was their time to climb. A bagpiper would begin playing and lead them down the long hall in a procession where guests and supporters would be lined up watching them to encourage and cheer them on. The procession would go out the front doors and along the side walk to the parking garage, where they would enter to get to the basement of the building. There they would wait in line until those timing the event were ready to begin. Each climber was given a stopwatch to wear on their wrist to tap on a cushioned wall at the beginning of their climb and again to shut it off at the end of their climb.
It was so organized and well-planned that we never saw a glitch throughout the entire day. It was simply a wonderful event. I couldn’t have been more pleased at the smoothness of the entire operation. I had worried for nothing. But I worried again, when we watched as EMT’s headed toward the elevators with their equipment.

“What’s that they are carrying?” I had asked Matt.
“That’s in case anyone vomits from exertion and their airwaves become clogged.”

My eyes got huge. Didn’t need to hear that.
Finally they were ready to begin the opening ceremony. They began with The Star-Spangled Banner sung by a firefighter quartet, who gave probably the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard. Next Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes. “Excuse me, ma’am” the bagpiper had softly said to me as he made his way to the front of the crowd to take his place where he would play. He certainly is calm, I thought to myself when he passed me on his way. He must have arrived just fine, because the beautiful hymn began right on cue.

Next, there were a couple speakers. The first I believe was a fire chief in charge of the event. And the other, was a woman that spoke to us about the difficulties of this disease. I looked at all those standing in front of me that were about to make the climb. I could only see their backs, but it seemed like I could feel their hearts. “Climbing for Keri” some of their t-shirts read. "Bay City, Fire" “Silverton Fire”, “Portland Fire”. “Breathe” was on the back of Matt’s shirt and it had much more meaning after hearing the woman speak. She told them that when they got to the 10th floor and they were wondering if they would ever even make it to the 40th that they should think of those that suffer with this disease and remind themselves that this is how those with CF feel every day of their life.
The ceremony was heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time.

Cameras just seem to find him
“Gear up”, the instructions came when the ceremony was over. And I could feel the excitement and anticipation. A news camera caught Matt as he put on his gear. They stopped him for an interview and seemed to talk with him at length. I wanted to hear what was being said, but I could only watch.

As they lined up, the firefighter in front of him told him he didn’t need to wear his gloves if he didn’t want to. Matt appreciated any helpful info he could get and handed me his gloves. I could tell this fighter had done this a time or two. It didn’t surprise me when he was first at the end of the climb for Battalion 1.
As they began the procession, and the bagpipes played and the crowd cheered, of course I cried. It was so doggone meaningful and that was my boy! I watched as each firefighter passed me, some trying to look stoic; others with grins from ear to ear; some had a serious look on their face initially, but at the cheers of the crowd, couldn’t help but break into a smile. Because he was toward the front of the line, I forgot to look at Matt’s face. I only watched his back as he headed on his way, then I directed my attention to the others that followed. Watching the faces of each individual as they marched was, for me, the best moment of the entire event.

Top Fundraisers
“Come on”, my husband nudged me. “Let’s go follow them to the basement.” He led me to another door that allowed us to catch up with those who were first in the procession. There, a woman asked them if they would stand for a picture. She told them they were the top 30 fundraisers out of 210 or so, and she wanted a photo of them. Of course, I grabbed the opportunity and took a picture too.
They then lined up again, and from here we were able to wait until Matt tapped his wrist and began his race to the top. Once he tapped, my husband also set his watch. We headed to the spot where the kind man told us they would finish. Matt told me it would probably be about 10 minutes. This helpful man had told Matt that he could wait at the top and rest up before coming down. “But!” he had warned him, “If you don’t take that elevator when it gets to the top, it is a long wait before it comes around again.” I knew then, Matthew wouldn’t wait.

As we waited at our spot at the ropes, Rick got a text on his phone. “Done” it had simply said. Rick figured Matt's time to be about 12 minutes. He knew it would only be an estimate. I was simply relieved to know he had finished and wasn’t puking on the stairs and choking.
We watched and waited. There came the first two finishers. A few minutes later, there was Matthew, smiling from ear to ear and posing for my camera, at my request.

After our welcome, and our photo op, Matt had to continue out the doors for his walk outside to come back through the front doors where the crowd would be waiting. We rushed over where we would greet him officially. My husband could not have been more proud and hugged both Matt and the other climber that came through the front door with him. I stood out of the way.

There would be snacks and an award ceremony at 1:00 pm at a local pub called Kell’s which was a land mark of the city, – a nice Irish place which was in a beautiful old building. This time frame gave us plenty of time to have a nice brunch at the restaurant on the 30th floor while we waited for the rest of the climbers. We were able to enjoy a leisurely meal and the magnificent view. We got to talk about the times and the climb and all the details we wanted to know. Matt said no one was passing each other on the stairs - at least in his group. They were spaced evenly between climbs which left them on the stairs to set their own pace. Now, there actually were times a climber would get passed, but it was not something he had to deal with. Everything went as smooth as glass, he told us. He was encouraged and he wanted to do it again improving his time next year.
It turned out his time was 9:51. “What was the discrepancy between your time and Dad’s time of 12 minutes?” I had asked.

“Oh,” he had replied, “I had to help someone get his coat off. He was heating up too much and they couldn’t seem to get it off to help cool him down. I texted Dad after that.”

Firefighter/EMT first. That's who these people are! And that’s my boy.”
The National Anthem

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

He's Got This You, Lamebrain Need a Sign Mama

Matthew has bluebirds at his new home…Mountains!

I was there cleaning last night, as he was finishing up some painting. We had the sliding glass door open as it was such a beautiful evening and I suppose to help alleviate paint fumes.
I had stopped working, and was watching my son finish the last touches of the “Warm Summer” yellow, he was applying to his dining room walls. A flutter from the slider caught my eye; a splash of blue.
“You have bluebirds!” I exclaimed as I stepped outside to look. I looked toward the sky, hoping to see what I thought I had seen. There at the top of one of the majestic pines in his yard sat the bird. But only for a moment. It just as quickly flew west as I watched, which enabled the light to be just right for me to better see. It was a Mountain Bluebird and it took my breath away.
The way it had acted, I almost felt like it may have had a nest somewhere near the house. But it is the wrong time of year for that. They are simply making their final farewells, before they head south for the winter.
I could not have been more excited.
“I will have to put up a couple boxes, this spring,” my son commented as he worked.
I continued to search the sky. I was rewarded. I saw a couple of the beautiful “bluebirds of happiness” dart through the pines.
Now don’t laugh at me. The reason I love them so much is because of my youth. They were very prevalent in our neighborhood when I was growing up. I hadn’t seen any in years, but when we moved to our home in the country almost 12 years ago, our yard was full of them. It simply made me so happy!! I felt like they were a gift from God. Even a sign to assure us we were in the right place.
For some of you this will get corny. But I am a sincere believer that God uses nature, (the sky, the weather, animals) as messages to us; or “signs” for us to interpret. Since my initial visit with the bluebirds in our own yard, there have been several instances where I believe God has used a bluebird to show me His love for me. It doesn’t mean it will be the same for you, but that is what I believe He uses for me.
Now the move for my son into his own home has been somewhat difficult. It is a beautiful home on acreage, which is something he has always wanted. It is a perfect place to raise kids, being on a dead-end street where there will be little traffic. And it is away from all the distractions of the world and city life. It has all the things he had in mind as he selected the home he had always hoped to purchase.
For me, I couldn’t have been happier for him or more pleased with the home he chose. I saw the wisdom in his decision to own rather than rent which would cost almost the same amount of money with no return. With his desire to always have a horse, I understood exactly why he wanted acreage. I could NOT be more proud that at 22 he was not only able to do this, but smart enough as well.
BUT!! He is leaving home! When I think of MYSELF, I am almost mortified! Heartbroken! You know that feeling where you are just on the edge of tears, and your face gets tight and you feel the pressure in your sinuses, because the tears are ready to fall! Yes, that feeling! I am not able to explain it or describe it well, but if you have ever been on the edge of tears, you know what I am talking about. That is how I have been walking around…for days!!! I’m going to be an empty nester! And yes, this IS all about me! ;-) (Just kidding!)
Then, too, it has been a difficult time for my son. Other things in his life have been there to steal his joy from all that he believed to be right. Conflict has been there to rob him of something that should be one of the happiest and proudest moments he will ever experience – the purchase of one’s first home. Still, he has remained steadfast and committed to the decision he made for his someday family. I have watched for years as he worked step-by-step to fulfill that end. He has diligently sought God first in what he believed was the career God planned for his life – a selfless life of giving, but one also that would make a decent living for his family. I don’t mean to sound like I am bragging or building my son up, by saying: “a selfless life of giving”. It is the truth; but it also exactly what my son needs in order to be happy. He simply is not content unless he is doing something for others. He has always been that way. I can’t explain it. It is simply the way God created him. God has His ways for putting men and women in place for the missions He has in mind.
But we are human and sometimes we let doubt get in our way. At least, I do. I think Matt is better at hearing and trusting God than I am. He is unwavering, and I am proud of him for that.
So the truth is, that little bluebird (and a Mountain at that) was put there for me last night. It was my sign – and actually the Bible says it is the weak that require a sign – was given to me by God as an assurance that He’s got this. He has Matthew where He wants him. We don’t always understand, but God never leaves us defenseless or alone. That little bluebird lifted my heart one more time when I once again needed a heart-lift.
I watched my son as he meticulously and carefully applied the final touch to the edge of the wall where the different colors would meet. He wasn’t aware of what I was feeling – “a mama who is only as happy as her saddest child” as the saying goes. But while watching his perfection, and contemplating the “sign” I had just been given, I realized this man his dad and I have raised is firm in his decisions because of the One in whom he trusts. He’s got this…him and God.
I prayed over the house right then. “Lord, please bring many days of happiness here. Keep the wolves at bay and your protection over all. Most of all protect this man’s heart and keep it wholly and solely preserved for You and all that is Your will for his life. Keep him strong and committed and protected...a little joy would go a long way, too. In Your time, bring…
And thank You for Your patience with his lamebrain, “need a sign” mama.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Political Junkie

The second Republican Presidential debate was held last night. Because I am somewhat of a "political junkie", I was really looking forward to watching it. But then, I realized it was on CNN and I don’t get CNN with my television package.

I knew I could watch the debate on-line, but I don’t have unlimited data, and I knew a 3 hour debate would take a pretty big chunk out of what data I have available. Before the month was over, I would end up going over my limit by quite a bit and get charged substantially more.
I was frustrated that I couldn’t watch. I busied myself about the garden and then the kitchen, thinking I would side-track my disappointment. Finally about an hour and a half later, I gave in and turned on the computer to see if I could find the debate streaming live. Of course, CNN had it available. I set the computer to full screen and sat down to watch. I had only missed an hour and 15 minutes of a 3 hour debate.

I am not sorry I watched. I love getting to know these candidates better. And I love seeing how they interact with each other and how they handle sticky situations. Certainly, I love to hear their answers regarding foreign and domestic policy. Truthfully, the whole thing invokes a great deal of pride in me. Pride for these men and women who are so adept and skilled in their answers. Pride in a nation that affords their citizens the opportunity to be so active in the politics of our nation; and pride that we have men and women who actually believe they can do something great for America, the land that we love.

I woke up this morning and the debate was still on my mind. I kept running through my thoughts different statements by the candidates and things that took place. It was early, still dark outside, and an hour earlier than I normally get up. I usually at least wait for the first light before I rise, but I couldn’t shut my mind off to go back to sleep…”Oh-oh! I feel a blog post coming on”, I told myself. I got up to write.
Obviously no one wants to read about a 3 hour debate, so I thought I would just touch on some of the highlights and hopefully make it entertaining enough that someone will want to read it.

Nothing that I write about is in any particular order, but rather just as it comes to mind as I type.

One of my favorite moments was toward the end of the debate when the moderator told us he was going to now ask a couple "light- hearted" questions. He asked the candidates, if they could replace Hamilton who is on the ten dollar bill, with a woman, who would they put on this piece of currency.

There were some good answers. I think it was Ted Cruz that said he wouldn’t change the ten dollar bill because Hamilton was a Founding Father. Rather he would change the 20.00 bill who had Jackson on it and he would put Rosa Parks on it, instead. I wasn’t real impressed with that…I think he was invoking a name he thought would get him votes. But then, I guess that is what they are supposed to do - get votes.

Carly Fiorina - the only woman on the stage - said she would not change history at all by replacing anyone on any bill with a woman. Being I am so firm on keeping history intact, I liked that. I thought that was the best answer. It was especially interesting coming from the only woman.
But I loved Ben Carson’s answer the best when he said he would put his mom on the bill. When he gave his testimony regarding the person his mother was, it brought tears to my eyes. I know his story well, having read all of his books. But the passion with which he talked about his mom was very moving. Equally moving is the miracle that his life is, especially after understanding what his mom was up against. It was incredibly inspiring. I love Ben Carson and I always have, but he is a bit too liberal for me on certain issues. However, a part of me would love to see someone like him - a black, Christian man who has no experience in the political realm - win the election just to see what would happen. But the Presidency is not a social experiment, and the wiser part of me opts for someone with experience. I do believe Carson would pick a good team and follow their advice when it came down to running his office, though.

One of the funniest moments of the debate, I thought was when the moderator gave his second light hearted question. He asked the candidates, what he thought they would like their secret service names to be if they were elected President. Each President is given a name by secret service as code. It was interesting to hear their responses, but the funniest by far was Jeb Bush when he said “Eveready”. He has been attacked mercilessly by Donald Trump, for his lack of energy. Jeb got one on the Donald with that answer. The crowd roared with laughter.
And doggone! I hate to say it, but Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey just continues to impress me. I haven’t really cared for Christie up until these debates, feeling he is too liberal on too many issues. But holy cow, does he nail the foreign policy questions and national defense every time he has to answer. His passion and experience with 9/11 make his reasoning very compelling. I have always thought that way, anyway, I just didn’t know he did. He also schooled Trump and Fiorina on their back and forth bickering about the successes and failures of their careers. “No one cares!” Christie chastised. “You’re both rich and famous! Congratulations! But let’s talk about the 55 year old brick layer trying to make a living.” That’s a paraphrase, but you get the idea. Honestly, I thought that was very appropriate and put what I was feeling into words. Let’s get off the attacks of one another and get on with substance.

Ted Cruz, one of my leading candidates had an awesome closing statement, touching on everything that is my heart. I get tired of the drama in Ted’s voice, but if I had to choose today, he is probably who I would vote for.
I am still undecided, though. I have long loved Huckabee and would not hesitate a bit to cast my vote for him. He didn’t seem to have any break out moments last night, unless it was in the first part of the debate that I missed. But he stands on principle and has always been true to his convictions. He definitely has the experience.

There are two candidates should they receive the nomination that I would have trouble voting for. Trump and Rand Paul. Of course, I would vote for whomever the Republican candidate is, because I believe so firmly that we MUST get the Democrats out of control. But  truthfully those are the two I would prefer go no further.
Trump is not Presidential material, in my opinion, with his rude comments and attacks of others always being at the forefront of his lips. And too, he has changed too many of his positions so that he can now run on the Republican ticket. He has always been too liberal in the past. I don’t know how that is possible coming from a man that has the success he has had using the Capitalism most Democrats disdain, but liberal he was.

And Rand Paul…oh my goodness where do I begin. I can write pages about him!! Suffice it to say, he had the low point in the debate, when trying to defend the legalization of marijuana. He called out someone on the stage for being a hypocrite, because that person now opposed the legalization of marijuana, but had smoked it in high school! What a foolish thing to say! Paul isn’t even smart enough to see that just because someone smoked dope as a youth, doesn’t make them a hypocrite because they grew up, learned their lessons, and changed their position. That isn't hypocrisy! That's wisdom!! Paul wasted so much time on foolish arguments regarding the legalization of this dangerous drug, that I could have slapped him into next week. Of course, he used the phony premise that this is all about medical marijuana. Several of the candidates called him on that. And Jeb, handling the awkward moment very well, fessed up that it was he that Paul was referring to, and then he perfectly explained his current position. Paul simply isn't smart enough to figure out, he isn't going to win a Republican debate, by advocating for the legalization of marijuana! For me that's a huge problem.
And of course Paul is always proud of his isolationist/pacifist position regarding foreign policy. He simply isn’t smart enough to see that is not what American needs, nor is that who we are. Continually blasting conservative Republicans as RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) he is the real RINO. He is nothing more than a libertarian aligned more closely to the Democrat’s ideals than he ever will be Republican. I can’t stand the man.

Also, Paul has a new thing he loves to do now that really fires me up. He loves to say, “If you want a war-mongering President, you have 10 of them on this stage, I am not your candidate if that is what you want.” And then he aligns these "war-mongering candidates" with Hilary and the Democrats, saying they are alike in that regard. This could not be further from the truth. There is a reason he is doing it, however. He has been exposed for who he really is over the years; and that is someone who is left of Obama and the Democrats on foreign policy. It has been the main criticism he has received and it is the truth. Had he been elected President in 2008 and 2012, we would be experiencing the exact same result we have experienced with Obama. And that is a downgrading of our military and losing all that was accomplished in Iraq because of Obama’s foolish and early withdrawal of troops. Paul would have done the exact same thing Obama did, with the exact same results.
But Paul has to counter that problem critique of his positions…that “he is left of Obama.” Anyone can figure out that statement is a problem for someone running on the Republican ticket. So Paul simply lies, by equating Democrats and Republicans as people that would get us into every war, every chance they get. It is a falsehood and he is the one that is more aligned with the Democrats in his positions regarding war and the downgrading of the military. Finally, this is getting long, so I won’t even go into Paul’s position on Israel. But that is most important of all. Suffice it to say, he is no different than Obama on his support of Israel.

There is one thing Trump had correct, though I didn’t like it when Trump said it, “Paul [didn’t] belong on that stage.”
Well anyway, I got that out of my system now. There were a lot of other things that I could write about regarding the debate, but no sense in boring my readers. I’m sure I already pushed the envelope in that regard.
Instead, I’m going to go see if I can find the first hour and 15 minutes of the debate on line, so I can watch what I missed…YES! I AM a political Junkie.