Sunday, May 24, 2009

Recipe for a Happy Memorial Day

Here's a quick reminder of what it takes to have a happy Memorial Day: THANKFULNESS! Without our soldiers, those that have paid the ultimate price and those that served both now and in the past, we would not have the freedom to celebrate Memorial Day the way most of us do: self indulgently.

I don't say that with a pointed finger. I say it to myself as much as anyone. It is so easy to plan fun for the family or work for the yard or whatever, and just be glad you have the day off to get it done! We don't have to fear arrest for doing what pleases us such as worshipping how we feel convicted, nor do we fear tyranny to work for the state or die. We can do pretty much anything that suits us 365 days a year in the U.S. of A.

Why can we go about our business independently absorbed in scrapbooking, blogging, weeding, swimming or whatever else we can find to pass the day? Because of a lot of brave men and women that have fought for the right to make it so. They have fought for the freedom of those that want to burn flags, spit on soldiers and force prayer from schools. Freedom to express our opinion, our outrage, our dreams, and our religion. Freedom to be individuals and yet part of the whole of America.

It is a thankless job in many ways. One taken for granted and way, way under appreciated. I cannot fill the void of favorable, well deserved public opinion in this one, little blog. But, I just want to remind those that may peruse my "two-cents worth" of advice to take a moment and say a prayer for those that have sacrificed so you can have this leisure time...and wonderful ownership of computers, cushioned chairs to view them on, and an air conditioned home to enjoy it all in...pray for the soldiers, the law enforcement and fire departments too. Most of all, notice how great you have it!

Notice your blessings, be thankful for this free country that God has blessed you with, be involved in keeping it that way, and thank those that have fought for your right to vote, to worship, to play! Remember that freedom isn't really free.

The recipe for having a happy day, any day, is always thankfulness! But on this Memorial Day I hope you will pause and really think that over and pray for those in our government, in civil service, and most of all those in harm's way (and behind the scenes too), all while you are deadheading those petunias or slapping on the SPF.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When I Grow Up...

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" That's a fairly common question when you are a child, or when you converse with a little one. My oldest daughter will be graduating from high school in just a few weeks and she is getting a bit tired of the question, "What are your plans after graduation?" Like me at that age, she wasn't so sure what she was going to do for certain after high school and that can leave one feeling a bit unsure; sort of like your letting circumstances dictate your life rather than having a decisive vision of your future.

Fortunately, she can now answer that question with relative confidence. She will be going into mission work; combining her love for the Lord with her love for horses in Wyoming. I couldn't be more thrilled for her to go out and fulfill the great commission and do something she loves! I wish I had more of a surety of God's direction at that age!

But, God is good and He is faithful and I just walked forward in the light I had at the time. Which is perfectly where God wanted me to be, though I didn't always know it. I haven't any doubt that I married the right man for me or in any way did any sort of disservice to the Lord by starting a family and being a stay at home mom. I regret none of that. I know the Lord was right there with me through all of that as we raised our children in a way that honors Him.

However, my youngest is now 10. I can see the end of the road as a home schooling mom. Seven more years and I am retired! Or, out of job...depends on how you look at it. Either way, that time is going to zoom by, just as it has with my oldest. Either way, I am going to be one bored individual if I don't have something on the horizon to do with myself!

Thankfully, being a mom stretches you in ways you never thought possible. Causes you to do things you never dreamed you would be doing (picking nits? playing in the rain? enduring someone learning an instrument? cleaning up--what is that? learning to bake homemade bread??? me???) yes me...and I would bet you too! It's all good, isn't it? But, then what? Sure are a lot of question marks in this paragraph...and often in my life.

During this time of stretching, one thing the kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing together is reading books (might I suggest the Gregor series?). That is, I read, they listen and beg for more. All of this to the peril of school work because I get into the books at least as much as they do! In fact, I have had so many ideas spring from books we have enjoyed and life's events that I have started to write books myself. I have discovered that I have a love for words, for writing, for story telling and also illustrating.

I have discovered what I want to be when I grow up! I want to be an author. Not bad after almost 40 years, eh? So, my plan is to take college classes, a few each year, over the next seven that are left with my youngest, and actually have something beyond being a Barrista at Starbucks as a career option for myself! This was a scary decision, in some ways to come to. Sort of late to do something like this, my fear-of-failure side would remind me.

I wasn't sure how my husband would feel about putting ME through college when we have a bunch of kids that are likely headed that way; but he was wonderfully supportive. I told him I was having a special kind of mid-life crisis-- a loss of identity sort of thing-- when I view my future as an empty-nester, and he totally understood. He was a bit disappointed, I think, with me not being a Barrista and all; he was hoping for some free coffee.

Okay, so, how about you? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Is it too late to contemplate that question? I think not. It is never too late. Perhaps in another blog I will explain how I probably have no business teaching ballet because I didn't begin dancing until I was an adult. Yet I am really enjoying using this gift to teach kids to worship.When I look at someone like Helen Keller and see all that someone with her challenges was able to achieve, I have to chide myself for being a big lazy scared-y cat! Get a hold of a biography of her and then see if you don't believe that God has gifted you with many things to accomplish. I am not just referring to career-oriented gifts; we can all use our talents in many ways, we just must submit them to the Lord, in all of our ways "acknowledge Him", and see where he takes us as we mature.

I once heard a preacher say, "pray you grow up, before you grow old." How true that is on so many levels. When I heard that, I thought I was grown up (all of 18 years old that I was). Now, I really can appreciate how long that process takes. It has taken my kids growing up, physically at least, to make me take a hard look at what God wants me to do as a grown up walking in a new phase of life. Where is He leading you?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rain, the Underappreciated Weather

Today is a deliciously rainy day. Just sort of a slow, steady drizzle, wrapped in fog and tucking me nicely into my armchair at Starbucks. I sit here, computer on my lap, coffee (really good coffee!) at my side and my "Portland, Oregon" shirt proudly displayed. If you don't know me well, you probably think I am sitting in Portland, in a Starbucks, looking at the Pacific Northwest Rain, perhaps a bit delusional.

Ahhh, descriptions can be deceiving. Though I wish that were the case; in actuality I am sitting in Fort Worth, Texas. Yes, it is certainly a Portland sort of day here, however, and I am basking in it! It is May, just 65 degrees and all around me are groups of people talking, nay- fellowshipping, whilst jazz plays and mist shrouds and softens the mood. Mmmm.

Being that I was raised in Portland, I can get really revved up (in a weird, mellow sort of way) on a day such as this! I want to bake cookies, read a good book to my kids and, well, drink really good coffee. I know; sounds like a recipe for laziness and adding mucho poundage to my backside. Could be. I'll never know since there aren't a lot of these sort of days here in Texas, especially in May. Hence, I tend to romanticize this weather and feel a calling to help others see what they are missing in the midst (or is it "mist"?) of it. No surprise, then, that on the first day of Autumn, I throw a party (soup and baked goods included) to celebrate the survival of another Texas summer and the arrival of cooler weather.

I just don't understand why the average person dislikes the rain so? What's up with the suicide rate climbing in areas that get a lot of precipitation? That's a tragedy in any climate but why is rain to blame? It seems to be that there's a lot of brainwashed people out there! The weatherman is the pied-piper of badmouthing wet weather and most people just mindlessly agree. Tragic, absolutely tragic. Rain is every one's pessimistic scapegoat.

Have you noticed the way the local meteorologist will furrow their brow and shake their head in disapproval while grumbling, "We've got an 80% chance of rain today. I'm afraid this soggy, nasty weather will continue for at least the next few days. It is not until the end of the week that we'll finally get a break and see the sunshine." Come on, is 95 degrees in the shade really something to look forward to?

Why not rephrase that and say, "Good news! There is just a 20% chance of sunshine. If we are lucky, this rain will stay with us for awhile, giving us some lovely cool weather and giving our flowers a long slow drink. Make some soup, bake some cookies and enjoy some family time while it lasts!" Now, wouldn't that make people respond a bit differently to the mood of the day? If you had heard this in the weather report all of your life, I bet you would party in the wet weather as well!

Yes, people, I think you have been duped! Here me now! I am like a voice, calling out in the wilderness, calling out from the marvelous mist and the resplendent rain. I want you to see that when it is raining, the glass really is half full!

OK, half full of rain water, you say?

Good point.

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.