Thursday, December 8, 2011

Battling for the Christmas Spirit

It's that holly jolly time of year, so they say. But just thinking about all the preparations of Christmas stalls me in my tracks. The decorating, the baking, the shopping (ugh), the wrapping (oh my), the trying to make it a special time that the children will remember and cherish always bring me to my knees. It requires a lot of work, a lot of get up early mornings and late into the evenings and exhaustion etched in my face and body. And so Christmas- is not my favorite time of the year and it kills me to admit that.

So when my daughter, Chrissy said "Mom let's put the tree up!" on November 28th. I thought, in my head.... NO!!!! But outwardly I said... (Hmmm. I don't think I said anything.) I think I was hoping my silence would say it all. But she did not take silence for no, she took it instead as let's do it!  And she did. Starting with the first problem.  Problem #1- Move the couch upstairs. This first hurdle was worsened by the fact that- a) Jordan wasn't here; we were down in man power and b) Dad fell off his truck tire and onto the back of his truck while trying to get in the tool box and fractured some ribs- Two men down significantly hampers sofa moving... upstairs no less. But Chrissy- now adorned in her Santa hat was not deterred. She emboldened the rest of us that we could do this. She reminded me of how strong I was... (This was true- I didn't get the nickname Muscle Mama for nothing :) (Wait- I think that was a self proclaimed title... and it really didn't catch on as I recall- nonetheless- she was remembering now and I was heeding the call!) We moved that couch upstairs like it was only a hefty recliner instead of the lofty couch it was! And then Problem #2- it didn't fit upstairs- rearranging was needed. So we rotated the furniture once- nope it didn't fit- then twice- it just didn't feel right. Three times- a full rotation now everything had now been moved and as we set the couch down- a scratching sound was heard, even downstairs where Duane was and he came barreling up the stairs to see what was the matter. Unfortunately, my spatial skills never have been very good and they didn't decide now was their time to step up their performance. Thus the couch came down on my side against the stair railing and nicked and scratched the wood all the way down until the couch came to its resting spot. CRAP! But the good thing is if anyone else had done it, I would have had a flipping conniption, but since it was me I could only blame myself.  Dang it! I was done. Moving 2 couches 3 times was enough and now I had a permanent souvenir on my railing to remind me of this joyous occasion. Ugh Christmas!

But Chrissy went on. She got out the Christmas tree that already had the lights on it. So that was one less stress for me to handle since that was always my job. Problem #3 It didn't look right. She asked me to come see the tree. I told her in my exhausted state that it would be fine. She didn't relent. I crawled down the stairs. She was right. The tree was too small. It was a corner tree and we had just taken the sofa up leaving the entire window area open for the tree to be displayed. This was no good. We would have to pack out Big Bertha and put her up branch by stinkin branch.

And so Chrissy took down Scrawny and went back to the garage still humming a Christmas carol and dragged out the two tubs of Big Bertha and got little Cassidee to help her lay it out from largest to smallest to put it up. And so they did. Problem #4- Big Bertha did not earn that name by accident. She didn't fully fit in the tub and one lid was a skewed. The branches in that tree did not look right, neither did they smell right. There was massive dust balls gathered throughout the branches. A fainter heart would have shrunk at this point. But Chrissy got out the vacuum and sucked up all the dust and material matted on the branches and got the Christmas pine scented spray out and sprayed each branch and no one would have guessed their previous condition.

And now it was time for lights. I felt compelled to help now; she had been through so much without a word of complaint- still holly- still jolly. Problem #5- We need three strands of lights for Big Bertha and as we tested out the lights only 2 worked- of course. An idea emerged, take the lights off of Scrawny and put them on Big Bertha. So as I wound the first string of lights around the tree, Chrissy and Nick endeavored to take out Scrawny again-since she had already been put away and try to unravel a white set of lights off of her. There were white strands of lights mixed with red strands on Scrawny. It was another daunting task, but they prevailed. Once Chrissy got those lights untangled she held the lights for me as I weaved around the tree so they wouldn't get tangled. Putting up lights had never been easier!

It was then that Chrissy took off the Santa hat and wrapped a Christmas ribbon around her head in warrior fashion (and truly she had earned Christmas Warrior status). And soon thereafter I felt a wrapping go around my head as she tied one on me and her little helper Cassidee. It was ornament time and all the family emerged for this. Many ornaments triggered memories of Christmas's past. There was Jordan in Kindergarten and then his latest ornament with his missionary picture. I shed a tear. This would be Jordan's last Christmas with us for the next couple of years. Then they handed me my Dad's remembrance ornament. "Man among Men" more tears. And home made crocheted ornaments from a neighbor growing up and all of Mom's Welcome to Christmas ornaments and the precious ones of baby Jesus that we tenderly placed in the center of our tree. The tree was full and so was my heart. It was the best trimming of the tree I could remember. I never yelled once or ended up decorating the tree by myself. We were all there. Kids decorating. Dad taking pics.

And we had found it... the Christmas spirit.... in full abundance. There was laughter in the air, there was Mom remember this one?..., there was crazy poses for pics and there was love all around. I looked at my Christmas warrior daughter, yes she had fought the good fight and she had won. I felt such gratitude that she had never lost the Christmas spirit during the whole ordeal and that she had helped us all to find it.

My wish to you dear ones-May you also find the Christmas spirit and when you do.... don't let it go. Keep fighting for it during shopping, baking, outside light hanging, wrapping and trying to make it a cherished Christmas for all! May you remember the one who slept in the manger and hangs in the center of the tree and loves and lives for us. He is the reason for the season. May we be like Him and look to make someone else's burden lighter. May we spread the joy around and hum a tune when things are tough. Battle on Christmas Warriors battle on!  For finding the spirit of Christ... is worth the battle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I didn't know... what I know now

It's been a year today that I lost my Dad. I don't think anyone could tell me how it would feel.  Before he died, he was in so much pain, I just wanted relief for him. But I didn't know I would miss him every day thereafter.  I didn't know that every thing he ever taught me would re-surface as I thought of him. I didn't know that every time I chopped a potato I would think of him and how I knew he would tell me there is a more efficient way to do it and then go to show me how and end up chopping rest of the potatoes for me. I can't pick up a knife and not think of him. I didn't know that I wouldn't be able to listen to the song "Home" by Michael Buble' without crying every time I heard it, no matter where I might be. I didn't know how much I would miss seeing his anticipated look when we finally arrived at his home and of course the welcoming hug. I didn't know how often I would look back and think of all the times I could have spent a minute longer with him and didn't.  He wasn't a big talker by trade, but in the last months he didn't want to be alone so he would always try to keep a conversation going. I wish I had spent more time.  It just felt like the end would never come. I always would have another chance... but those chances are gone. The end does come and so does regret.

I didn't know what greatness was. I thought it was doing big things, having a big stage, touching lots of lives. I found it was instead in the small things. It was taking care of your family and always being there for them. It was reaching out to your neighbor and lifting another's burden. It was letting others know you love them and backing up those words with action. I found it was doing your duty day in and day out, whether you wanted to or not because you fulfill your responsibilities and don't let others down. I found it was doing the right things whether anyone else saw or not. I found my Dad to be a man of profound greatness. I knew it before, but so much more now.

When I got the call that he was going downhill for the last time, I sped the 10 hours home to be with him. He was mostly unconscious when I got there. I got to see his last words spoken though. It was to his neighbors, the Knightons. When Dad saw them, an urgency came across his being, he had something important he must tell them. But Dave spoke first and told him, " Ford, we love you and we will take care of Dianne. You don't have to worry, we got her." When my Dad heard that, the urgency left, his last responsibility was going to be taken care of and he was at peace. He made out the words, I love you...and those were the last words he uttered. I wish there had been more. I wish we could have had a big family hugging party at the end with him and all said the words in our hearts, but if they hadn't been said earlier they were left unsaid... I hope he can hear them now. I didn't know that I would still pray for my Dad after he was gone. I just tell God how much I love him and miss him and to let him know that... ok? I didn't know that at every special occasion, his absence would be immensely felt, but also on the flip side I didn't know that at some very special moments I would get to feel him so close that I knew without doubt he was there.

When I remember him, I think about those who didn't ever get to know my Dad and how they missed out. I guess they will have to get to know him through those whom he left behind. I think I can only honor him now by my life. Try to live the way he did. Be kind, be compassionate, have time for others, never leave a conflict without the other person knowing that I still love them, be generous, if someone else lacks and I have... to give- let it be theirs. I will never be the amazing person he was, but I will try to reflect what he taught me, so others can know my Dad. I can't help but think of the Savior when I think of him. He mirrored the Savior in so many ways. I know Christ must have meant so much to him because of how hard my Dad tried to live like Him. I can only try to do the same.
Dad- thanks for your example. Today I join with all the others to pay my respects and express my gratitude for having had you in my life. You made a profound difference and I will always remember and never forget.  I hope you know it.
Love always- your daughter Tina

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apples, Apples and more apples

If I had to describe my summer in one word it'd be... apples. This crazy little thing happened in the Spring- the thinning chemicals didn't work and we were left with a lot of self thinning on our hands.
One would think thinning apples would be an easy job. But it was hard to me because I felt I was determining the fate of each apple. With the snip of my clippers, they either lived on or died- never able to develop into their full potential. I realize most (maybe ALL other apple thinners in the world) do not feel this dilemma. But most days, I felt this conflict and the only way that I could come to terms with their fate is that my job was simply to cut the smallest so that the tree could give more of its nutrients to the ones that were big and growing. If they weren't cut, the tree would be overloaded, branches would break, most of the apples would be small because the tree was stressed and the market value on small apples surprisingly is small as well. It was that simple they had to be cut for the good of the whole. So I tried not to personalize it because if I were an apple, I would be a small one and meet the fate of the clippers and never have the chance to see what my full potential looked like.
This is our growing season. Don't waste it away. I can tell you this about apples. The ones that grew big- received nutrients and were in a position to receive more light and they were not hanging on a stressed out tree. So look at yourself today- Are you growing? Are you taking care of yourself making healthy lifestyle choices? Exercise, healthy food, self-discipline, overcoming addictions. Are you putting yourself in places where you can receive more light? On your knees, in the scriptures, at church, in the temple. Are you stressed? Turn it over to the Lord. Trust that He can make all things work for your good. I can't help but think if we follow the pattern of apples, we too will grow and one day realize our full potential.
And all of this from thinning apples.... who knew? :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Letting Go

The day had come- the one you knew would,

since the day they entered kindergarten. Graduation. The night before I was unable to sleep. My baby boy graduates in the morning, then he'll work all summer, off to college in the fall and gone for 2 years on a mission. In essence, this was the beginning of good-bye. What could I do to make these last moments special. I decided to wake up early and decorate his car and make him breakfast.

At 6:30, I am outside with school color blue marker in hand writing how much we loved him and to Honk for the new graduate! Then I blow up balloons-4 blue and 1 big yellow one. On Big Yellow, I carefully write, "You are Our Sunshine"- That was the song we sang to him when he was little. I tied them all up on the passenger side. I looked at the decked out car and felt a masterpiece stood before me. It was done. Now for breakfast.

I'm off making waffles and homemade blueberry topping with sausage and bacon and I hear the graduate steps coming down the stairs with gown in hand- Can you iron this? Of course I can. I go to take it. He goes to walk back up the stairs when I hear a change of plans and the front door opens instead. He must have noticed my handiwork through the window. A second later the door closes again and back up the stairs he goes with no comments, like WOW! You got up in the wee hours of the morning and did this for me! Thanks Mom. OR Man! What great penmanship! or Those hearts were so artistically pleasing! Or Hey! that message on the balloon touched me right here as he points to his heart. No. Just a door close and pounding of footsteps back up the stairs.

He rushes back down after showering and finds Grandma had finished ironing his gown while I finished making breakfast. He sits to eat a few bites and declares it's time to go. The next thing I hear is the door opening and a loud "pop" and then he's back in the house with balloons in hand which he had cut off and threw on the ground and a defiant declaration- "Just so you know, the yellow one is popped." and off he went.

My heart felt just like that big yellow balloon. I was crushed. I wanted to cry. I thought I can't be mad- we have to go to graduation and if I'm mad then I'll ruin the mood for everyone else. So I tried to think happy thoughts. Duane also tried to offer me consolatory words. "It was your gift to him and he received it, maybe not the way you wanted him to, but it was his gift and he could do with it what he wanted."

"OK, I can let this go."

Letting go. That's what I was really doing wasn't it? Trying to find a way to let go of the baby who was now a young man and taking off. I reasoned with myself, keeping him home wouldn't be any good. I mean I would know he was safe and cared for, but he wouldn't progress, he wouldn't be tested and come to know himself and his strengths and abilities and he wouldn't become what he was meant to become. So I had to let him go. As these thoughts lingered, the parallels of eternal truths impressed upon me. And thus we had to come to earth to get a body and have this mortal experience so we could be tested and progress and become what we were meant to become. This graduation was but a dress rehearsal of life and our purpose here.

So I let the pain of popped balloons float off to oblivion and headed to graduation with a different attitude of letting go- this was just a step on his journey. Not the end and thanks to his antics, I was finding it easier to let go... the little scamp! :)

But once seated in the stadium next to the loud speakers blaring good bye songs and seeing the array of blue robed graduates entering the field- the tears came, dripping down my face like a leaky faucet. I needed to see my boy. Everything was a blur. I called out frantically to Duane, "Help me find Jordan!" He enlisted the kids' help and within seconds we spotted our sunshine amidst the sea of blue. Tufts of blond hair sticking out from his cap and with his laid back walking style like he was headed to McDonald's instead of on one of the momentous walks of his life. He jumped up and high fived his walking mate and then later receiving his diploma, did a signature move of brushing off his shoulder- like no sweat! The graduates were then moved out to the field with beach balls bouncing up in the air and tassels being switched to the right side and caps being flung into the air with gusto and whoops of elation exploding the arena. They had done it!

We rushed the field to find our boy and congratulate him. The darn tears were escaping again as my boy came into view. I reached the one who allots me only one brief hug a day at bed time and if it lasts any longer than a second, a push away is quickly applied. Surprisingly, he relented his one second hug rule, maybe it was the throngs of witnesses there, or he was in a nostalgic haze, or maybe he just had compassion on his emotional mommy who longed to hug her boy. Whatever the judgement call, he let me in and I laid my head on his chest and tried to hold back the wave of emotions ready to crest. I reminded myself, "Tina, we are taking pictures after this, do you want a mascara stained face looking back at you for years to come?" Well, that little self-chat did the job and I reined the tears back in and just held my boy. Yeah, this was the moment I would remember for years to come, when my boy let me hold him... without letting go.

Congratulations Graduates of 2011! You did it! And hugs to all the Moms out there- who are letting them go.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Committed to love and cherish

I watched the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, not live of course, that would be um.... early here in the Pacific time zone. But thankfully- later it was broadcast with 4 minutes of footage followed by 4 minutes of commercials. What was probably a 20 minute event took 1 1/2 hours to get through, but I had a mountain of clothes to fold- so I had the time to persevere through it. (I guess that reveals I'm not a DVR person.:)

Anyway- As I watched this couple make their vows and look lovingly into each other's eyes, it stirred something within me. They vowed to love and to cherish each other all the day's of their lives. They vowed devotion to each other- to have and to hold.... I heard from the commentators of the wedding that Prince William had already stated that "This is it." He and Kate will never divorce, they will weather the ups and downs of marriage together.

It reminded me of the conversation I had with my Dad when I was 19 and days away from being married. "Tina, do you know what you are getting into?" He questioned.

I said "Dad, I know this... I'm committed."

At 19 years old, I understood what the word committed meant, but I had not been tested in the storms of life. We hadn't had children, long work hours, consuming church callings, financial concerns, sickness and distress, exhaustion, tragedies, death and uncertain times. We were like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden just starting out on the journey with this word commitment in our hearts. I wonder how we would have fared without having that mindset? Having that perspective from the get go has probably made all the difference.

Then there was that promise in the ceremony to love and cherish each other. Those words echoed above the others. Did I promise that? I examined how I was doing on treating my beloved. Love (yep, I still love him... check) Cherish (uh? Cherish- What does that look like?- When we cherish something, we treat it in the most kind manner. We value it and take care of it. No doubt about it, I was falling short in the cherish department. I found many days, I treated my beloved the way I felt I was being treated by him or by the mood I was in. I didn't let the promise to love and cherish govern my daily actions.

Someone reminded me what we were like in the beginning of marriage- we just longed to please each other and take care of each other and then as time went on.. it changed. We stopped looking at what we could do to help the other and started looking at what THEY could do to help us. We started noticing all the things that we did and THEY didn't. And suddenly love was in the balance being weighed and found wanting. Don't let it be found wanting... Be the one who remembers your vows to love and cherish daily and put them into action. Who knows that one little act... may make all the difference.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Life savers

I made a terrible mistake tonight and decided to watch "The Last Song" - you know the movie with Miley Cyrus in it. I read the summary- Rebellious piano prodigy goes to live with her Dad for the summer and it changes her life. It was the only PG rated movie that we saw as we cruised through on the Netflix list. It sounded like a good lesson learner for my kids to see a rebellious teenager change her attitude. Little did I know her Dad was going to die from lung cancer. As I watched them portray her dad dying, I relived my own Father's last days. I didn't know how to stop the faucet once it started. The suffering, the pain, the regrets...It was all there. I guess it always will be. I miss him.

It made me remember an Easter Eve many years ago when I was only 10 years old. I was rushed to the emergency room with soaring fevers and a swollen arm- later diagnosed as ostiomilitus. I remember them jabbing needles all over me as soon as they closed the emergency room door and my mom was on the other side, unable to help. I was alone with all these medical personnel taking blood samples and trying to find a place for an i.v. I remember they took blood from the veins on the top of my feet, I guess I was so dehydrated, that my vein options were limited. I was so scared. What was going on? And then they wheeled me out in a hospital bed and my mom was gone and there was my Dad. My mom had just taken her mom to the airport to go to the Bahamas for last chance cancer treatments. Then she came home to me with uncontrollable fevers and she was a wreck. Dad sent her home. I remember the ceiling lights being so bright as they wheeled me down the hospital halls, they hurt my eyes. I told my Dad and he covered my eyes with his hand to protect me.
So there I was on the night before Easter, strapped in a hospital bed, naked with cold cloths being placed on me intermittently all night, trying to get my fevers under control until they could get me in for an emergency surgery. That whole situation was awkward for both of us. I remember asking the nurse if I could just slide some underclothes on and she smilingly said no. My Dad, I'm sure was so worried about me, but he saw my embarrassment and tried to keep a comfortable distance so I didn't feel exposed. I so appreciated that. I remember the doctor came in and told me they were prepping me for emergency surgery. I told him, "Hey, it's Easter in a few hours, can I just go home and get the stuff from the Easter Bunny and I'll be back tomorrow and we can do this surgery thing then." He patted my hand and shook his head no and left the room. I kind of thought he was the most heartless man alive. He was obviously an Easter Bunny hater or he had forgotten what it meant to be a kid on Easter morning. I was devastated and worried the Easter Bunny wouldn't find me, so I prayed really hard that night that He would. Then the next thing I remember is waking up the next day and seeing an Easter basket beside my bed. I guess the Lord hears prayers.

My Dad got me through that horrible night. He gave me a blessing that I would be completely healed. I was. He was my lifesaver as I lay near death- (I found that part out later.) The heartless Arabian doctor came back when I was nearing the end of my hospital stay to remind me of that first night. He said, "Remember when you wanted to go home? You were very sick little girl. If I would have let you go home, you wouldn't be here now." (I guess he wasn't so heartless after all.) I guess I misjudged him a bit. :)

And then 6 months ago, role reversal, I sat by my Dad's side as he laid dying. I found sitting by the bedside to be so much worse. I saw him take his last breath and felt my world crumble. My Daddy was gone.

But today is Easter and I know that Christ atoned for my sins and broke the bands of death and He lives. HE LIVES and because of his sacrifice for us, we will too and I'll see my Dad again.

P.S. I went to bed after writing the previous thoughts and then I dreamed of my Dad. He came to give me a big hug. (I guess he saw the mess I made of myself after watching that darn movie.) He's still my lifesaver. What joy we will have when we meet again. Today I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for the sacrifice of His son- He being the one who had to painstakingly watch from the sidelines. And to his Son-my Savior and Redeemer who paid the price willingly, lovingly- to make a way back for all of us. I will always be in debt. Today I give thanks for all the lifesavers. Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Break

Ok, so it was Spring Break and I took a personal break from my daily life and became entrenched in trying to find entertainment on a budget for 6 kids varying from ages 3 to 18. You can guess that was a project in itself. The first day I suggested various fun options. No response. So day 1- we cleaned the house. Second day, I once more suggest more fun ideas- it was raining all day. I went to the library with a couple of takers and got books for everyone, whether they wanted one or not- I left the library with 21 books precariously balanced under my chin. Day 3- Raining again. Suggest more fun possibilites - silence, so we cleaned the house and I later noticed those who had not wanted any library books were in fact reading them. (Whose glad I got those books now?:) Day 4- Epiphany... whatever I suggest will not be fun. I step down as fun finder and turn the fun over to them. They each now have a partner and a day assigned to produce some family fun. They made up minute to win it games and we played izzy dizzy and fell on the ground doubled over laughing at each other trying to get up. Day 5- We go to the park. Not everyone wants to go. One brings a book and stays in the car. I knew the park wasn't appealing to the older kids, but it was chosen and we went. And to be honest, I was going to go running while they played in the park. But as soon as we got out of the car, my little 3 year old sees a big tree and says, "Long tree" with awestruck wide opened eyes. I couldn't help, but look up at the tree too. "Wow" it was big. Then it began, I forgot myself and my plans and entered into his world. I wanted to experience with him what he was seeing for the first time. There were slides galore and a climbing rock wall and swings and a big play apparatus. And amidst all of those fun things, he liked the Big fish that didn't do anything. He wanted to ride on his back. So I hefted him up there and he acted like he was riding a bull, laying back into it with one arm swinging in the air. Then I took him down to the river. "Look" I say, pointing to the ducks. He looks, he's seen ducks before- not that exciting, but throwing handfuls of pebbles into the river is! He throws a handful in, then pauses and looks at me and tells me it's my turn. I follow suit. His eyes sparkle as the water droplets dance in the air. It was magical. Why hadn't I noticed before? Then my other kids (you know the older ones who didn't want to come) they started an all out war tag! We were diving under slides, hiding behind trees, using unknown kids as blocks, climbing rock walls for lookout and safety. I discovered too late, I could not climb that rock wall, so I found I had to run.... a lot! What a work out! Who knew? We ended the day with ice cream cones while rehashing the hide and tag moments. Boy, did that ice cream taste good! Everything that day was good. So... take a break once in awhile. Let the responsibilities and routines go and re-enter that world that you left behind. You know the one where everything is an adventure waiting to happen, and games begin spontaneously and that all elusive fun... is everywhere. If you haven't been there in awhile... it's time for a visit. Go. Your kids are waiting for you.... :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yeah... I've been a fool

He saw me after Christmas break when I had chipped my tooth out and had a softball size hickey on my chin from a practical joke played on me by my brother. I looked like a fool.

He saw me for the first time after we had been apart over the summer and I stepped off the train with permed- gone- wrong hair (which he had strongly encouraged me not to do and I did anyway) and I sported a new air cast leg, because I fell off the fireplace hearth where I was doing step-ups. (Apparently, the hearth is not as good of an apparatus as the step box that they advertised on t.v.) and oh yeah, one more thing, my eye was oozing pus from having undergone eye surgery the day before to remove a chalazion. Ummm... I worried that with one glance at me, he would reconsider that marriage proposal. I looked like such a fool.

Then we were married- 18 years in. I had been sick with a fever. I woke up and looked in the mirror and saw my hair dripping wet and matted to my face with bags under my eyes, adorned in my mixed and matched p.j. set and he looked over at me, as I analyzed the damage. I wanted to run back to bed and bury myself under the covers. I looked like such a fool.

But he looked at me with the same tenderness he had when I was 19 with the tooth chipped/hickey combo package. It was that same look that greeted me when I stepped off the train- disheveled like a train wreck. He just said with love in his voice, "Tina, you're beautiful." And I'm thinking... "Duane.. you're a fool!" (or blind). I don't know how to tell him he has vision problems. But he does. He doesn't see like rest of the world. He must have missed that course on how the world values you by your looks. The advertising for wrinkle cream, body sculpting, botox, and plastic surgery is a total waste of money on him. He just doesn't see it. His vision bypasses the outer shell and looks directly into your eyes and sees your soul and all the good you can do. I hope his vision problems rub off on me.

Go on and be a fool today- look past the outer layers and look inside another's heart. I hear it's beautiful there.

( Just having another day to test my character :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just an old pencil

It's just another morning of picking up what the kids left behind before they dashed off to school. I noticed an old pencil on the floor, the one that has no eraser unless you bite the end to plump it up and it was half the size of the usual variety so I knew it had been used a few times. So I figured it had done its work and threw it in the trash and went on with life... for about 5 seconds. I kept thinking about that darn pencil in the trash. It must stem from my pioneer ancestry of waste not- want not. I can't stand to waste anything, not even a half used up pencil. The part I couldn't get past is that it was still useful. The tip wasn't broken, nor dulled down all the way. The thoughts of the pencil got the better of me and I found myself back to the kitchen trash digging through bits of discarded food and wrappers to retrieve it.

I guess the truth was I saw myself in that pencil. I'm no longer the newly bought yellow #2 pencil fresh out of the box. I have been ahere long enough to have a child graduating from high school this year. I will be celebrating two decades of marriage as well. These are time markers causing me to pause for self reflection. Have I put my life to good use? Am I still?

If not, today is a new day. Though I may be a half used pencil, I still have lead and I can still write. Write in your book today. Let the Lord use you to help others. We're all in this together. Let's end this life as nubs of a pencil- used down to the last inch... (and if need be we'll get eraser replacement surgery and buy one of those bright colorful eraser caps to keep us going.) We'll be useful to the end. Let's go NUBS! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Basketball with the Big boys

So it's the first warmish day of March and I hear a basketball bouncing in the driveway. Could that be one of my kids? I love basketball. And it seems that if I love something... everyone else in the family must go against it. I don't know why. My husband points to my poor losing abilities and equally annoying my- in- your- face winning stylistics. Honestly, I don't see it. I do see that I am an "in- the- moment- type girl- who-expresses- herself-openly but, I'm learning to hold it in more, so others will want to play with me. I heard the ball and remembered that if I want people (aka my family) to play with me, I need to approach this possible ball playing opportunity just right. So I walk out there, grab a ball (not theirs) and start shooting around with them. It's my 16 yr old 6+ footer who's throwing the ball, I mention how good he's getting and how about a little game of P-I-G. He thinks about it. I see he is weighing what the outcome will look like. I immediately see I need to push the balance in my favor. I mention that it's just for fun- I continue to show that I am not in a competitive mood- just shooting around. He agrees. I try to hide that my heart beat just picked up the pace. Yes.. I have a player! So we start out, I'm rusty. I hit the rim time and again. But so did he. So no stress. Then I get one in and of course he matches it. Other kids hear the ball bouncing and come out to see what's going on. I say casually, "Hey after this game why don't we play a real game of 2 on 2. Kids versus parents." (Kids hardly can withstand such a challenge- stuffing it in your parents' face without punishment- I knew this would be hard to pass up.) The oldest- 18 and almost 6 feet tall- also rolls it over- I can tell he is thinking of past experiences and wondering if this will be worth it. But then he did something new... He looked at me from top to bottom and realized 5 ft. 3- was his competition. He had grown. We were no longer the same height as a couple of summers ago (when he probably last agreed to play). I saw him nod his head yes that he was in. This was no small undertaking my friends. I only had one more person to convince- my soul mate, my team mate- my husband. So I run in the house to inform him that we have game takers. I also let him know that our children were leaving us and we should act on every opportunity to make memories with them. He did the roll your eyes look. I'm used to that. I said, "It will be fun... I will be good." He did the "Are-you-sure-about-that look?" I shook my head emphatically yes. "Honey, we must act quickly before they change their minds." The wind was kickin' up a little more, the sun was going down. The time to act was now. He stretched his aching joints. (He is in his 40's now.) He finally relented and headed outside to the court turning his baseball cap around on backwards, signifying that the game was on. I would like to say, we beat those boys. But we didn't. But we did hang until the last hoop. I'd like to say I didn't trash talk. But I did. I remember saying something like "Yeah... your mama got back." (Which in slang terms... I don't even know what that means.) I just always say something about their Mama and how she still gots it. But I did learn a few things. 1- I learned that bigger is better (at least in basketball). Gees, I couldn't see around them, I couldn't see over them. The only way I had any chance on that driveway court was to move quickly. Any amount of hesitation and they were all over me and I lost the ball. 2- I realized that is how it is in life- too often we hesitate/procrastinate on the things we are supposed to do and then more likely than not the opportunity passes by. We missed it. Don't miss whatever opportunity is out there today. Listen to that voice inside that tells you to call someone or let that car in or read that bedtime story. Make time in your busy schedule to be And 3- the last thing I learned-Congratulate their win. Everyone needs to know they did well when they did. It shows respect and good sportsmanship and maybe keeps the door open to them playing with you again...someday. Good Job Boys... You got game! And who taught you how to play like that...your Mama? ( Still working on getting myself out of the highlight reel.... just another day in the test of my character. :)