Kindness and compassion are natural talents which I do not possess. You either have them or you have to learn to the best of your ability, how to develop them. That is one lesson that I have never been successful at. There may be a few who would be kind and say I am nicer than I think. My type of kindness wouldn't be taught in any classroom but I am doing the best that I can.
Keaton, on the other hand, is a natural. He can't help it. He is very aware of his feelings. Friday, he was given the first citizenship award of the year by his third grade teacher. She caught on very quickly to what his kindergarten, first grade and second grade teachers have already honored him with - this is one nice kid.
It's like watching someone who has natural musical talent - you know you don't have it but being around those who do, makes things seem more possible. You see God in a different light and can appreciate it by living through someone else. It is a great lesson, in a positive way, that life is not fair.
I have said before and believe it even more now, I would rather he win the citizenship award than the academic award. Hands down - anyone can achieve the ABC's and 123's, if they want to put some effort into it. Me for example, I cheated in math all thru fifth grade because my math teacher was also the home economics teacher and he made killer brownies. The first seat and brownies were for the top scorer every week and I made sure I always had that first seat. So much for kindness and compassion.
We went to his assembly on Friday - our family took up a whole table. The fam is big on supporting the kids for just about anything. To be Loved is the greatest thing we can give our kids, whether big or small. The second half of my life has been to learn how to love and to do that, God has richly graced me with these wonderful people in my life who make it so easy to learn. Keaton, I love you more than you will ever know - thank you for teaching nana, to be soft. You are my Hero...
I finished my senior shoot out at their house today. It is a long ride out in the country so I grabbed my Billy Collins CD and headed out. For me, it really was quite an adventure but I wanted to enjoy the wide, open spaces and still not get lost. Miss J will have a nice selection of urban and country pics when we get done. She is a FABulous young lady. Most of the shots today will have her barefoot - a girl after my own heart.
Between setting up shots, the sunflowers are just so big and vibrant. I have loved sunflowers for as long as I can remember. Every year I tell myself, let's plant some and we have yet to do it. Today's sunflowers were the size of dinner plates. They almost look comical at their six foot height with a huge flower attached.
It was so quiet there. As the girls fiddled with hair, I just sat and drank it in. The only home Miss J has ever known, we talked about what it may feel like when she leaves. She thinks the city is exciting but realizes at some point, she is going to miss the wide, open spaces that seem like second nature to her but as with all seniors, she has to move toward the sunlight of Big Peoplehood.
I took in as much as I could. Hoarding quiet to take back home with me. I pulled away from the house wanting to warn them that if they ever saw someone just sitting on their porch, it would just be me. No need to come entertain me, I would bring my own drink and entertain myself. I would be in no need of nothing except lots of boundless space to sit and contemplate the meaning of life. I would imagine that it would be easier to think out there. Easier to figure out what is important and what is essential and definitely easier, to breath deep.
So we finished out session and with Billy Collins still reading poetry, I take the now familiar road back to my reality of subdivisions, mini malls and traffic. As I pull into my driveway and am home, I smile - I am happy. I have a picture of a sunflower, my computer and I am a blessed woman...
I am not a hugger if I don't know you. Don't touch me is my motto. Maybe it is my upbringing or fear of where we have gone as a people. If I know you, I am a hugging machine but a stranger...not so much.
I am not proud of my reaction. It reminds me that my cynicism is alive and well. As this video began, I found myself flinching - not able to even imagine holding that sign. Reminds me of when CCC started and PJ asked for help knocking on doors and handing out flyers for the church. Stats say most of us would rather die than do any kind of public speaking. Saying that, I believe that my reluctance and distrust is a serious roadblock in my spiritual life. I can't explain it but I know it to be true, just like I know that the sky is blue. Not talking about hugging every stranger that comes my way but the consideration of sharing the Love, I know to be true.
Ok, this is what I an going to do - if I see someone holding a Free Hugs sign - I will step up to the plate and hug away. Didn't check to see where these guys are and if they have a local chapter in my town. Great - I will probably wind up heading up the exploratory committee for Free Hugs/Idaho Style.
I had tears in my eyes as I finished the video. Funny what moves you. Anything that makes us a better people - count me in. I can sure use more than my fair share...
Have had this conversation with myself and others for years. It never made sense that one could be happy all the time..and be real. If someone is happy all the time, I would imagine that state of denial they are living in comes with a zip code of CRAZY. Nor is it helpful to others to always be happy. Happy is an instantaneous, short lived state - almost anything can make happy go away as fast as it came.
Joy, on the other hand, seems more respectable, more balanced and more desired. To me, joy is a deep down reaction that stays no matter what the conditions. It doesn't mean you have a perpetual smile on your face or a unrealistic view of your life but that you know, it will be ok. Not unlike understanding that life is not fair. Once you wrap your head around that good and tight, there is more joy than happiness in your life.
Imagine my surprise when I looked up the definition of joy and happy and they found that referenced each other. NO, NO - my brain said.
Joy (joi) a feeling or state of great happiness.
Happy (hap'e) delighted, joyful over a particular thing.
Close but no enchilada. Even though they appear to have the same literal DNA, the difference while subtle, is profound. When one is feeling happy whne the thing is gone - the happy is gone. Short term, easily gone and if used correctly is a wonderful thing. There are times when happy is exactly what we need. Just like there are times we NEED Hostess Cup Cakes...but you wouldn't want a steady diet of them, for so many reasons.
Joy is great place to keep all your happiness. Joy loves to share the good times - no one likes a great party better than joy but at the end of the day, joy understands the Bigger Picture. Joy will sustain you, will continue to nourish you and is in it for the long haul. Me too. I am in it for the long haul.
Moment by Moment
Day by Day
For the Long Haul...
Three weeks of feeling not so great - time to go bye bye. Last week I broke my big toe and the one next to it as I walked in and fell into Walmart. Finally got that throbbing pain under control and only to have a sinus infection take its place. I have been miserable, to say the least. Yesterday I got out the vaporizer and we have been spending quality time together. Not such a dandy way to spend over 2 hours a day but thankfully, my Ipod has been keeping me company.
This might single-handly be the best invention ever. There is no other place where the music of your childhood can be right next to your current favorite song. You can be transported in an instant back to being a six year old or a freshman in high school. A song can take you where nothing else really can. It makes your memory work like perfectly well-oiled machine, remembering not only the words but where you were when you sang those words.
At midnight, I had my Vicks-covered face over the outgoing steam trying not to burn my eyes. I had it setting on my kitchen counter so I had about 35 minutes of standing time to look forward too. I grabbed the Ipod, put on my earphones and started to see how fast I could make that 35 minutes go by. By song 2, I was completely hooked. I completely lost myself in the music and God reminded me thru my sinus- infected brain that I was wonderfully made.
Chris Rice's, Come To Jesus, made me cry although you would never have known that with all the steam in my face. Immediately following him, Christina Agulera's, Pray, started and I had a hard time keeping my face in one place. Ok, I didn't. After giving in to a few dance moves, I remembered what I was suppose to be doing and returned to my stance, hovering right above the vaporizer - but not my spirit, it kept soaring.
I think everyone should have a Ipod. It is a small investment in restoring your sanity on days when nothing else will do. I have no idea how to help non-music liking people - you guys better Google for help but for those of you who are moved by the music or spoken word, do yourself a favor and make the investment.
Today is the annversary of the death of Gina's son from a skateboard accident. She has been in my heart all day. She is having people over today but is not playing the hostess. I have followed her courage thru this last year - she has shared the good and the bad. When Phil Wickham's, Grace, came on - I knew it was for her. It was number 133 on my pod. It came at the right time, for the right person. God uses everything including Ipods - that is why I love Him so...
From Rudy Giuliani's mouth to England's ear. I am thinking of the top 25 people from America that might be considered a big deal and Rudy's name just doesn't jump off the page to me. Madonna, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan. How about Micheal Jackson, Brad Pitt or Will Ferrell. Sounds like Rudy has been studying at the OJ Simpson School of Life Journalism.
In all fairness to Rudy, we all take turns thinking we are a big deal in some areas or times in our lives. There are times when we are good at Something that might translate into being a little proud of ourselves. Problems seem to come when we feel feel the need to boast about that certain Something.
But Rudy's biggest problem is not that he thinks he is a big deal in this country. One gets the impression that his family life is in shambles. You don't have much to brag about if your family life is in trouble. Anybody can be famous but it is a big deal when you are Something in your family. Be a big deal in your own family, then you have something to boast about.
Thanks Queenie for the video - sure puts life into perspective and helps get one's head on straight...
Ronald MacDonald has big, big shoes. Not a common size or color for a man but Ronald MacDonald is not just any man. He and his shoes are known all over the world. I dare say he might be more popular than the Beatles or Jesus. When the kids take off their shoes to play at a MacDonalds, his shoes are staring them as they use the little shoe cubicles to store their footwear. Hard to miss.
Big shoes to fill. Big and bold. As I played with this picture, I thought about whose shoes get my attention. More a icon of one who has made an impression on my life. I am not big on heroes, most of my family were to be feared not emulated. I think those that have led everyday lives and did the best they could, wear the biggest shoes to me. My german grandma was one of those.
Oma wasn't big or bold. On the quiet side, she spent her time flying backa and forth from Germany to help her daughter raise her family. I'm sure she never imagined spending so much time in America but Somewhere all the line, decided she would help where she could. My dad and his family were not kind to her but most of the time, she said nothing. She took care of my sister and I the best she could. While her daughter had numerous mental problems, when she lost it - it always broke her heart. She would stand up to protect me and my sister but was not always successful. She died in Germany a few months after I got married, quietly accepting the cancer that would ravish her body.
It is not always a Big pair of shoes that we have to try to fill. Sometimes a little pair can be just as mighty. It is not about size its about heart...
Back in the 70, there was an annual Christmas dinner where Mr Simplot would come out and help serve all the employees and offer $200 to any one who would commit to stop smoking. It was a big thing with him and back then, $200 bucks was a lot of dough. It was a year long commitment with paperwork to be submitted to document a true change of heart. I remember seeing cigarette packages on tables of those brave enough to take on Mr S's challenge when they originally just came in for a turkey dinner. Food wasn't that big of a deal back then or maybe since he was one of the largest distributors of french fries in the world, it would have been a mute point.
Reward or punishment, which one do we respond to the most? It is an age old question in religious circles too. Do we find God more credible because of the threat of hell or because of the hope of heaven? Do we love Him because He loves us or do we love Him out of fear. I became a believer because someone promised me I would never have to see someone in heaven who had made my earthly life a living hell. I no longer believe that to be true, wish I did, and choose to believe anyway. Whatever I need to be in that situation Someday will be provided when I need it - my only responsibility now, is to trust.
If either of these worked well, it would be very obvious. I see no clear winner walking around own us. I think they are both short-term motivators with no real staying power. We do what works for us, regardless of what we say. If we see value, we will make a change and not until. Not long lasting change, the kind that we need to sustain us in this crazy world. Real change comes from deep down. It takes work and commitment - not swayed by what is going on around us. Corporate America, you've got your work cut out for you, best of luck...
I had to mull this family thing over for a second day. As I wrote yesterday's post, it didn't dawn on me until later in the day how powerful and long lasting those everyday family decisions we all make really are. It made me think back to when I was raising my girl - I wish I knew then what I know now.
On her blog today, P talked about the health crisis of her mother, how it made her realize that she wanted to finish her degree and how she wanted her mother to be at her graduation. She is following in her mom's footsteps - her mom is fine now but it made her aware that she doesn't have forever. She is registered to start school in January and finish what she started years ago.
Not all family stories have a happily ever after ending. I have thought alot about OJ Simpson's kids the last few days. They have been through more than any child should ever have to endure. What in the world would be your point of reference? What would security look like for someone like this? How would you find your way?
And yet, Jesus says that the family is second to Him. Sometimes that is tough to accept. When I look at my family, I can't imagine anyone loving them more than me but God isn't anyone and I will gladly come in second. All I need to worry about is they know they have all I have got and that God has so much more for them. Not a bad duo to have on your side...
They are saying goodbye to their oldest tomorrow morning. He is making his way to Seattle to find his fame and fortune. If one is going to seek fame and fortune, doing it while you are young is the best time to do it. It is one of the only times in your life when you are not yet burdened by what you know. Your experiences are few and if you come from a good family, they are mostly positive which give you a fighting chance. He is young, but he is smart. All the things that frighten his parents, have not crossed his mind yet. If he felt everything that they felt, he wouldn't even venture out. Ah...to be young and carefree again.
I think he will miss them more than they miss him. I don't expect him to admit it but in a few weeks when the newness wears off, the small apartment with a roommate might have him dreaming of his old bedroom and his big basement playground. After all. that is all he knows.
Family teaches us what is normal. I am not saying that what they teach us is right but it is the standard that we judge everyone else by. If you come from a dysfunctional home. it it the only normal you ever know - until you get out in the Real World. If you have somewhat normal parents, the transition doesn't have the same contrast and learning curve. When you leave your family of origin and start your own life, those life lessons go with you and either you weave them into your new life or you start over, and make new ones. It is just the way it is. Family can give you a FABulous head start, as J has. He has all the love and support of his family and he KNOWS he always will. That is quite a thing to have. Pack that in your backpack, J and take it with you wherever you go - it will make all the difference. Be safe and know there is alot of love back home for you. You are already a lucky guy...
We all go thru dry periods for an array of reasons, sometimes physical and sometimes, it seems just because. It feels like you are standing still which feels well, wrong. In our world, it seems that if we are not going forward, we must be going backwards. It it the same thing in the our God life, the perception that if we are not actively moving ahead, we are definitely headed downhill.
I believe there are times of standing still. Not moving in any direction. In a trance like state that gives us some room to just be. I remember all along time ago being told by a pastor not to fear these times. Just hold on to what you know, he said.
I heard some writer this week say they had found some journal letters that belonged to Mother Teresa whether she expressed severe doubt in the truth of the existence of God. I will rest in the belief that while she was having these very human doubts, she held on to what she knew to be true. Maybe she felt the weight of the world on her. Maybe she was tired. In a strange way, I am comforted by her weariness. Makes her more human which we all need to remember about ourselves and each other...
Emily's had a blog entry this week that caught me a bit off guard. Her church plant is coming up on their one year anniversary and while her enthusiasm is contagious, her words are haunting...
If you're a God-follower and you're not going to church or don't like your church, GET IN THE GAME! You are needed. Time is short. Church is NOT about you. The church is the only organization that exists for the benefits of its NON-MEMBERS!
I believe she has Something. I think that church should exist for non-members. I think that we have forgotten that and have turned inward. While I believe that church is not limited to any physical building, we have a responsibility to be connected to a body of people. I am not there now, for many different reasons but her reminder is circling my little brain on how that translates to me.
I am still hanging in there with the TV show, Saving Grace. Each week as I watch this woman continue to run from God , the circurmstances of her life weave a vicious web which seems to grab her and hold on. Three steps forward and two back. She is fighting tooth and nail, at every turn. This week, there was a shoot out - Grace was brought back to life, one of the other officers was not so lucky. As she prepared to attend his funeral, she asked Earl the Angel, How is he doing? And Earl says, He is like a six year old on Christmas morning. I can not imagine a better definition of heaven. I will forever have the vision of a six year old on Christmas morning with me, at every funeral I attend from here out.
I don't know what Getting in the game is going to look like but I'm open to find out. Maybe I have been hearing, Whish you were here, being whispered in my ear. All those years of loud music have taken their toll and of course, a little stubborn streak never helps. Get in the game - count me in...
Keaton is two and because it was a Tuesday, Grandma Sue has him for the day. With Brandi working 70 hours a week and because Steve had got home from a late work run about 5AM, it was a rare moment for us to sleep in. The phone rang shortly after 9AM - and a friend asks me if I know what is going on. I hang up, turn on the TV and see the WTC just after the first plane had hit the tower...
For as long as I live, there will be national recognition on this day. For all who remember, there will always be program long events. Tomorrow, the Today show is rerunning that morning's show and I plan to watch it. By the time Keaton's generation hits their 20's, with no active memories of the day, I wonder how or if it will be recognized. What I really wonder is what his generation's 911 will be? What event will remind them in an instant, where they were and what they were doing?
I think the assassination of President Kennedy was a POR for the generation before mine. While our experiences are and will be different, the intensity will be the same for each of us. A state of complete shock and the thought that life will never be the same, it sets the pace for the rest of the days of our lives and that commemorative date every year, gives us permission to revisit that pace.
So, whatever the day brings for you, I hope you have some time to reflect. Some time to maybe, take a look at your pace. A time to look at your own journey, see where you are and where you are headed. Not a bad way to spend any day...