Monday, November 30, 2009

Planned Obsolescence?

My son had a discussion with another guy in his Boy Scout troop last weekend. It was about Pandas. The other guy was talking about how wonderful they are. My son said, "they're doomed." The other boy smacked him. My son said, "they're dumb, slow and they haven't evolved an ability to reproduce regularly and haven't diversified their food. Doomed." The other kid smacked him again. This went on for a while with the other boy very agitated about him INSULTING the Pandas and continuing to smack my son. He was sitting at an angled table and couldn't get away from the other kid smacking him so finally, he reached across and punched the kid in the shoulder.

The other boys looked over at them, smiled, and looked away.

So is my son an herbivore or a carnivore?

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River hosts this meme. Can you tell a whole story in 140 characters or fewer? That 140 counts all punctuation and spaces. Here's the picture that your story should connect with. Join us! To learn more about microfiction, go to Susan's blog.

When Marv saw that after driving 283 miles backwards

the odometer hadn’t budged,

he knew his job as a luxury vehicle

exerciser was at an end.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Family Stories

Jenna stood in the shower and cried. It was the only place where her tears were unheard and unremarked upon. "Father, why don't they like me?" she sobbed. "What can I do or change?"

She had just endured yet another holiday meal with her husband's family. They weren't overtly critical or unkind. They just...withheld. They withheld information about what was going on in their lives, they withheld love and affection, they withheld the normal human interaction that Jenna had every day via her blog with people she'd never even met! And they did it in a faintly disapproving manner that inferred that whatever Jenna did would never be good enough.

When she and Dale moved back to the small town when he'd been hired as the manager at the local plant, she'd looked forward to getting the families together. She wanted to know her in-laws better. She had visions of the cousins playing games together in the yard while the brothers and their wives grilled on the barbecue. The families would attend each others' award ceremonies, recitals and opportunities to shine, and would grieve together when any one of them suffered loss or sadness.

Instead she found a closed corporation. When she offered to take her mother-in-law, Cynthia, out to the mall or grocery store or medical appointments, she'd been politely refused. Instead the other daughter-in-law, Tamara, took their mother-in-law everywhere she wanted to go. When she suggested casual get togethers for the kids to play, they always had other appointments or playdates. Instead of the children cheering each other on and supporting each other's ventures the atmosphere became one of tension.

Jenna had shrugged and gotten busy with her own kids' social and academic lives. They didn't see their grandmother or cousins often, but no one acted as if this was a big loss on any side of the divide. During seasons of illness when Cynthia's medical appointments really piled up, and she though Tamara would welcome a break from the day in, day out driving and waiting, she'd offered again, and again been refused.

Eleven months out of the year Jenna could bear the situation. But the twelfth month was excruciating. Just when Jenna wanted to be celebrating the holidays with a heart full of joy and peace, their very presence conspired to steal it. She never knew what gifts to buy for the nieces and nephews. Even though they lived in the same town she knew nothing about their interests. She'd asked Tamara, but she was always told, "oh they'll like anything." Having children of her own, Jenna knew that wasn't true, but she was always at a loss for what to get. More often than not, when she suggested a gift for their cousins to her own children, they'd answer, "they already have one of those." When she tried to do personal creations she realized she didn't know enough about them to even complete something personal. And when she asked for personal information on the kids so she could create personal gifts Tamara told her, "no thanks." Jenna realized that she knew more about missionary children half way around the world than her own family members in the same town.

And perhaps that was the crux of the matter. Jenna and her husband and children were practicing believers in Christ. The rest of the family looked upon it as foolishness, a crutch for those without enough gumption to live on their own two feet. And it hurt Jenna each year to lose the joy and wonder of the season of celebrating the birth of the Savior by spending even a moment with those whose lives were so hurtful to her.

Jenna's husband was supportive and understanding to a point. He really didn't understand why it mattered so much to Jenna, but he cared that it made her sad.

Stepping out of the shower and wrapping herself into a towel Jenna became philosophical about it. After she was dressed she walked down the hall to the computer and booked a flight to Hawaii for the next year's holiday celebration. And resolved to sing the Messiah for the next 30 days.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fun New Time Sink

I've discovered Wordle and what a huge time sink of fun this is! You put in the text, and it makes a picture. Here's the one I made a few minutes ago.

I must warn you, if you have anything else you need to accomplish today, don't start playing with this thing. It is utterly addictive.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Award

Okay, I have resisted the awards thing until now, but I surrender. This one is too cute! Thena very kindly posted me for this award, so I'll be grateful and post it! Thank you Thena!

I'll think about who to pass it on to soon. I usually put the blogs I really enjoy on a link on my iTouch so I can just check on them anytime (Quilly, Thom, Susan, Momastery, 2nd Cup...) I guess I'm too much of a Luddite!

Happy Thanksgiving Folks! May your day be full of thanks and your hearts be full of giving.

Something New

Join the fun!

A new meme to participate in - some new friends to make. Thanks Quilly for inspiring me today.

This isn't a very silly Haiku, and it is poorly written, but it is sincere!

Interferes with parenting
Support Angel Tree

Please go to Angel Tree to help a child who may
not receive Christmas.
Angel Tree helps any prisoner who asks to be included --
they don't have to sign up for a church
or a service or anything.
Read more about it from my post yesterday, here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How Many is 50,000?

I guess if it's 50,000 grains of sand, it's not much. 50,000 insects in the Amazon? Not even an exhale's worth. 50,000 drops of water in the ocean? Insignificant.

How about if it's 50,000 kids who won't be receiving a Christmas present from their mom or dad because the parent is in prison?

Yeah, it stinks.

Right now there are 50,000 kids whose parents who have signed them up for the Angel Tree program through Prison Fellowship Ministries who are scheduled to get . . . NOTHING. For a lot of reasons, including the recession, churches have taken fewer angels to serve locally. This leaves Angel Tree with more unserved angels in past years.

Providentially, and in the way HE loves to do it, God has given Angel Tree a powerful tool this year to help those children. For the first time, this year through the gift of the internet, individuals (like you and me) can go directly to the Angel Tree website and sponsor a child or several children! You can choose a location, age, and gender. Angel Tree has partnered with an online specialty toys vendor and has preselected wholesome toys for all ages. Their website tool is so cool -- you can see exactly where the needs are and respond immediately! (And I love how God made the activation of this tool coincide with the year they would need it most. That just makes me smile!)

So what does Angel Tree ship to these children? An age-appropriate FUN toy, the Gospel message, and a personalized message from the incarcerated parent. If you doubt that can make a difference -- read some of the stories from the website. Here's one just to get you going: Tiffany's Story

Some of you, my bloggy friends, are unable to sponsor a child and THAT IS OKAY. But will you consider passing this message on? Can we figure out a way to make Angel Tree go viral? Even my bloggy friends who are in Europe -- you can pass this on to your American blog followers.

Folks, you know me. This is not a scam. I know some of the people who work for Prison Fellowship. None of them are getting wealthy doing this. It's a MINISTRY. They live this passage:

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Matthew 25:31-45

Blessings to all of you!

Not Alarmed at All

If an alarm makes no sound, is it still an alarm?

This morning I kept feeling that mental nudge that said, "it's too light for you to still be in bed." I finally gave in and grabbed the iTouch to see what time it was. AAAUUUUGGGGHHH! It was 6:05 and I was supposed to have been up at 5:15 to get daughter going for school.

Apparently the alarm was set, but I forgot to turn the VOLUME up! ARGH. I'm sure there's an APP I can download that will remind me in some way to turn the volume on.

So, we screamed through getting her prepped and I took her to a bus stop further along the way than ours. The bus was still there so I pulled in behind, flashed my lights and she ran out to catch it. It was dark and wet and my heart was in my mouth when he started to drive away without picking her up. Fortunately, a car on the other side honked at him. He (breaking the rules) stopped and picked her up. My heart slowed down and I drove back to the house to get the other child moving.

I think I'm going to bake the bus driver some cookies for her to give him tomorrow. I think I owe him some.


Randomly Thankful

I am thankful for Lidna at 2nd Cup of Coffee because she has introduced me, via this meme, to a great body of men and women who are caring and giving. Most of us don't know each other in person, but everyone is very kind and supportive. How cool is that? THANK YOU, LINDA and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?
The extended family members who join us for the meal are easily rattled, so we'll be traditional on Thursday. But on Friday or Saturday, I give my family a culinarily adventurous treat.

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.") My home and the people who live in it.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for. My Jesus.

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.

Forty-four years ago we didn't get to have Thanksgiving turkey with our mama or daddy because we got a much
better celebration. My dad was away with the army, and mama was in the hospital. She had promised that when she returned she would bring us a baby and because I was such a good helper, the baby would be mine
to help with. I had just turned four so I thought this was a reasonable request by her -- I thought I was certainly up to the challenge.

We met my baby brother on November 23, 1965. He was a lot bigger than I thought he'd be, but smaller as well. He wasn't quite ready to wear spurs and a hat and boots and play with me, but I knew there'd be time. Yesterday we celebrated the man he has become through our parents' love, God's grace, and DESPITE his two older sisters. I love you bro, and I'm sorry we didn't let you grow up until we left for college.

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year?
One young guest will refuse to eat anything home made. He's 9. It floors my kids when they see him refuse what to them is normal food. But his mom doesn't cook and doesn't enforce the 'just try it' there you go.

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?
No, but as I do all the prep work chopping she gets to have leaves (parsley, celery, etc.) You should see her after she eats celery leaves. They're like budgie crack.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying? We pray, seated, and it's spontaneous. My husband prays. For our extended family that visits, these occasions are the only time they pray.

8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing? We don't eat until 3. And we don't have TV, so no, we don't watch football. But in the morning, while I finish up in the kitchen, the kids and dad are going for a spin on the lake in the canoe. I REALLY want them out from under my feet so this is a blessing!

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?
Nope. Cornbread and Sausage.

10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?
I've read a lot about the different view points, so yes, but I don't let it constrain or define our celebration.

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying? Pumpkin!

12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in
another Random Dozen!) Nah. Domestic turkeys are so dumb!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Truly Going Green

I recently read a post by Susan at Stony River, my bloggy friend who lives in Ireland. In it she described how her life is so very different than what most of us experience because they live in a place where "green" is more than an alternative lifestyle, but a requirement dictated by cost and law. It made me think about some things. I hope those of you who are science-y will chime in because I truly want to understand these things. (Sure, I can look them up on the internet, but who do you believe on the internet? I'd rather rely on my bloggy friends who are so well-informed and stay on top of these issues.) So here are some questions:

1. Would people give up their 2nd cars if fuel was so expensive that the inconvenience of having only one was outweighed by the cost?

2. If the government gave a tax credit for giving up a 2nd car rather than for buying a car, how much would it have to be to make it worth doing?

3. How bad does traffic congestion have to get before people decide the cost and inconvenience of public transportation is less than the aggravation of getting places in their own vehicles?

4. It doesn't make sense to have all those cars just sitting at all those workplaces all day. Why can't we develop a system to 'sublet' cars for people who live around that workplace to use during the day? Or maybe that's a bad idea because it justifies the second car... and adds to carbon emissions.

I know it IS possible to get around by public transportation in my area. It is also VERY inconvenient and VERY expensive. It adds hours to a work day. When we first lived in this area (Wash DC) 15 years ago my husband tried taking public transportation to and from work. We lived within 10 miles of his office. It added an hour each way to use the Metro, but if he jumped in his car he was usually there within 20 minutes and home in 30. Now we live further out in the burbs and to use a bus and then subway to his office would add about 60 to 90 minutes to his day each way.

That doesn't even start to address the cost of Metro. For him to go and return entirely by bus would be $14.00 per day and take an hour each way. To go and return via bus/metro would cost $8.00 per day and take the same amount of time assuming he hits every connection perfectly and that Metro isn't having track problems that day (the latter is a ridiculous assumption). Extrapolate either of those over a month and it's darn expensive. But alas, the time he has to be at work -- no later than 05:00 a.m. makes this impossible because the Metro system isn't even functioning in time for him to use it.

I suspect that he's not unusual.

Susan also grows a lot of her family's food. We live in such a heavily treed area that we don't get enough sun to grow grass, much less vegetables.
There are community gardens not too far from my house, but they have been so overworked that you can only grow what the 'garden' is good for. According to my former neighbor who grew things there for years, there's some kind of blight that interferes with growing cucumbers and other things. All he could get lots of was zucchini and eggplant. Frankly, that wouldn't be enough to get me to plant the first seed, even if I could carve eggplant-o'lanterns like these.

Pony and biomass -- well, we just don't have the land or the appropriate surroundings!

But I love what Susan and her family have done. They have thought through all of the permutations of what their choices will dictate and planned accordingly. It is what works best for them. Part of it is admittedly driven by the cost of doing something differently -- being less environmentally aware.

So, not wanting to earn any kinds of awards, I ask myself, what do we do to be green?

1. I drive a hybrid.
2. We increasingly remember to take our cloth bags into the grocery store.
3. We freecycle. (This the best -- the GOAL is to keep stuff out of landfills)
4. We recycle (um...they pick it up at our house. Not sure we'd be so diligent if they didn't)
5. We have switched about half of our bulbs to the kind that's making Susan go blind. ;-)

I can't think of many more at this moment...which doesn't say much for my level of commitment.

So I'm back to the question of how much does it have to cost to make us change our ways? And I can confidently say that if my husband reads this post today he's going to be wondering what kind of "new idea" I have this time. Don't worry honey, I haven't bought a pony . . . yet


Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River hosts a very cool meme on Mondays. She posts a photo and invites us to blog about it. In 140 characters or fewer. That 140 count includes all spaces, punctuation, etc

For someone like me, who has way more words inside her than most people ever want to hear, this is a difficult challenge. However, I find that having to hone what I want to express makes me much clearer and hopefully, makes me a better writer. That said, I have to admit that most of my words today are NOT original to me. Hee hee -- you'll see what I mean.

Creator:I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Gen 9:13

Teary Eyes:Thank you

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Howling Distress

Not me, the dog that lives behind me. There are two dogs who, over the years they've lived there, have spent most of their lives outside. It is a big yard, but it is a yard. And they're out there all.the.time. Normally, they bark at anything that moves. In the summer when we have the windows open it gets really annoying. But people have talked to the owner and he just blows them off. (He's a really big scary-biker looking kind of guy).

Now one of the dogs has started howling. It is so pitiful. I am sitting in my office on the far side of the house. The windows are all closed (it's cold outside) and I can still hear it. Last night we had our home group meeting here and they could all hear it.

Now, because the owner is a big scary-biker looking kind of guy and police reports are public information and because I'm here alone at the house a lot, I feel somewhat intimidated about reporting this.

It makes me sad for the dogs that their human cares so little about their welfare. I mean really, why have the dogs if you're just going to leave them out back all day and into the night?

Anyone with ideas? LEGAL ideas? I need some help on this one!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three Word Thursday

It's time for stretching your brain, manipulating your neurons, getting your gray matter to ease its way around new words, and while you're at it, be entertained by fellow wordies. Quilly hosts Three Word Thursday. These words are obsolete unless we rescue them! If you want to participate in this 911 party for words, see Quilly!

The words this week: gardeviance, kexy, aretaloger

To catch up with the story, go back to here for the start, and then just follow 3WT.

Alice’s mom heard the car in the driveway, the slam of the front screen door, and the pounding of Alice’s feet up the stairs. She went up to see what was so urgent and found Alice on the floor next to an old gardeviance they used for storing family treasures. “What are you looking for, Alice?” she asked. “I need the rain stick, Mom!” “Oh, I donated that to the charity sale,” her mother replied. Alice sat back on her heels. “I didn’t think they’d want it because it was so kexy. I mean, how can a rain stick be a rain stick when all the beads inside have disappeared? But they were happy to take it.”

“MOM! I took the beads out because I put something else in there! I need to get it back! It’s the one thing, besides the dogs, that can help me locate Adam! Where do they store the things for the sale?” Alice demanded.

“Patricia Rock was the one who came by. You can call…” but Alice had already flown by to the phone. By the time her mom reached the base of the stairs, Alice was on the way out the front door, whistling to the big Newfies to come with her. To her credit, Alice’s mom didn’t try to slow her down for an explanation of how Adam was missing yet again. Being a mom, she focused on the practical things.

“Will you and Luke and Adam be back for dinner?” her mother called. Alice shot her a look full of exasperation. So much precious time had already been lost. “Probably not. Thanks mom.” “Why are you taking the dogs, Alice?” her mom asked as she approached the car. Cass and Cicero eagerly jumped into the back seat and took up their sentinel posts at each rear window. Alice paused, “Mom, I need to go see a bad guy about a bad plan he had. He’s such an aretaloger that he wastes a lot of time telling everyone how smart he is. I need the dogs to impress upon him the urgency of time. Don’t worry, no one will hurt these big babies!” Alice’s mom looked at her reproachfully. “Alice, my concern is for you and that little boy. Find him and get him to safety…and take care of the dogs too.” She kissed her daughter on the forehead and pushed her down into the driver’s seat. “And bring Luke with you!” she added quietly as her daughter zoomed down the road.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Is the Word

At 2nd Cup of Coffee, Linda asks provocative (but G-rated) questions...Join us! Thanks, Linda.

1. If you could master one sport, what would it be? Rowing. I was on the crew team in high school but was never coordinated enough that it was easy or really fun.
2. When you make a major purchase, do you go with your gut instinct, or do you do research to make an informed decision? A little of each. My gut tells me the big picture, my research refines the hunt, and my gut tells me "TODAY!"
3. There is an old kids' game that says you can find out what your movie star name would be by using your middle name as your first name and the name of the street you grew up on as your last. What is your movie star name? Wow...since I moved a lot and it was mostly on army bases, there are some pretty dismal choices. How about Lynn 5th Artillery?
4. Would you rather give up your favorite music or your favorite food? Food.
5. There are two types of banana preferences. One is pristine yellow, almost to the point of being green; the other is spotty and more ripe. Which is your preference? I'm not a big banana fan. One too many during pregnancy, I think.
6. Your favorite tree is? I don't have a favorite, but I do have an UNfavorite -- tulip poplar. It's the kind that fell on our house when we lived in the next town over.
7. On a scale of 1-10, how tech savvy are you? About a 5...but just because I'm not particularly interested in a lot of the technology that is currently available. So much of it seems designed to tether me to a device. (SO get off the computer, right?)
8. Has H1N1 touched your family? No.
9. Are you an analytical person, or do you just accept things the way they are without questioning or scrutinizing? Very analytical...some might call me a wee bit OVER analytical.
10. Is your personality more like that of a dog, cat, or Koala? A dog -- I assume everyone I meet is a friend until they act otherwise, and even then, if they give me food or tell me I'm a good person, I'm pretty willing to give them a second chance.
11. Do you keep in touch with friends you made years ago? The ones that we connected at the heart, yes. But there aren't very many with that kind of connection.
12. You are checking out at a grocery store. In the express lane, there are more people than the regular lanes, but of course, their load is less than those in the regular lanes. Which lane do you choose (assuming you qualify for the express lane) and why? This is terrible but I choose my grocery store lane by who the cashier is. I know the ones at my local store and if one of the irritating ones is free, I'll still avoid that lane. Self-check is my new best friend at my local Giant.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Microfiction Monday

Microfiction Monday is hosted by Susan at Stony River who (I hope) is out enjoying celebrating her birthday.

This is an easy meme to participate in. Look at the photo or illustration. Write a story. LIMIT the story to 140 characters. Oh come on, I talk WAY more than you and I can limit myself to 140! Yes, it takes 2 or 3 tries, but I manage.

So, try it! And then link to Susan so everyone else can see how witty and wonderful you are.

“And that,” Susan exulted, “is how to throw a birthday bash, honey!" Honey mused, “I think we’re banned from yet another EC nation.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Note From A Friend

I stopped to get the mail at the top of the driveway yesterday. At this time of year the holiday come-ons far outnumber the legitimate items of mail so I did my customary desultory leaf through the pile...and then paused...

A letter. An actual hand-written letter. Addressed to me! I looked at the return address. I recognized the name, but this was a very strange address for this person!

I hesitated. I don't get many hand-written letters anymore so I wondered, "should I savor this?" "Should I wait until later this evening and read it a little at a time?" But I know something about return addresses, and this one was clearly not from within the U.S. In fact, it was from an APO (military) post office overseas! So, as with Christmas presents, I decided it was worth tearing open and plunging into whatever news would explain the strange return address.

When I last saw this friend in person, it was not too long after 9-11-2001. We had been in the Air Force together years earlier. Post 9-11 we were in very different places in our lives. I was a mom of two little kids. She was still single and working in various capacities for different employers.

We talked about what had happened on the day the terrorists marked our homeland. Our perspectives were somewhat different. My concern was for my husband, still active duty, and what this meant for him. It was also for my children, and what kind of world they would be growing up in. For my friend, it was a call back to duty. She was trying very hard to get back into the fray, to be part of turning back the tide. At that point we had both been out a number of years -- at least eight or so.

During the intervening years we had exchanged Christmas cards and after Hurricane Katrina I called all over everywhere trying to find her to make sure she was safe as I knew she had been working in Mississippi. But since Katrina, back to the Christmas cards.

And then, this letter.
"I'm lying on my tent floor in Afghanistan. I've found its better than trying to write on the bed."

She, somehow, managed to get to Afghanistan to help rebuild that country. Remember - she's an engineer. My friend is of an age now that she has every excuse to stay where it's comfortable and warm and you can get good Thai food. But she wants to make a difference. I know her well enough to know that if this wasn't a call from the Lord, she wouldn't have gone. But I also know her well enough to know also that she is living every minute to the fullest while she's there. Can I tell you how much I admire her perseverance to get there and to do something worth doing? To quote my teen daughter, Wow...just wow. prayers to K for her safety and for her to be able to complete all the missions she has been assigned, divine and human. Come see us when you're home. We want to hug a hero.

Love, Me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reflections On Yesterday

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Veterans are not content to do nothing. We may join the military because it provides a job, educational opportunities, or medical care. But we stay because we know we make a difference. We make a difference in the countries that we serve in. Not everyone there respects or admires or appreciates us -- but enough do that the values we hold as Americans, principles of free speech, free worship, free assembly and free press get planted in enough hearts that perhaps someday the citizens of those countries will embrace them as we do. The reason we don't expect respect or admiration by everyone in those countries is because we know we aren't respected or admired by everyone in our HOME country! But that's okay. We don't want you to pat us on the back one day a year and feel good about having loved a veteran that day.

We want what every American wants. We want to raise our families in peace and security. We want to be paid an amount of money that is sufficient for our needs with just a little bit more in order to be able to take care of our families should something happen to us. We want to have adequate health care. We want respect for our choice of profession. We don't join the all-volunteer military because we don't have other choices. We want you to pray for our safety and our mission to succeed. The sooner it does, the sooner we get to be back home with our families.

If someone were to quantify the help and love expressed by US Servicemen and Women throughout the world in terms of helping orphanages, villages, towns, infrastructures, and individual people regain their self-worth, the cost benefit to mankind would be ENORMOUS. Those who see American servicemen as enemies simply do not know their hearts. They are the most compassionate and loving people that some of the tribesmen in Afghanistan and Iraq have ever met. They give and give and give and give again, texting their loved ones back home to send more (toys, clothes, warm things) for them to give away. Rather than expecting a payback from people they give to, they just give. People in many parts of the world do not understand this. They are too used to always looking for a quid pro quo because it is their way of life.

I am so incredibly proud of our servicemen and women. They exemplify the best of what is the American character -- compassion, warmth, mercy, and a hatred for corruption and exploitation of the weak. Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters presently and formerly in uniform. You make my day!

And, from an e-mail that was forwarded to me:

conversation overheard on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai .
The conversation went like this...
Iranian Air Defense Radar: 'Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.'
Aircraft: 'This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.'
Air Defense Radar: 'You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!'
Aircraft: 'This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send 'em up, I'll wait!'
Air Defense Radar: (no response .... total silence)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Dozen

Questions from Linda at 2nd Cup once more. Either I'm more tired today or these are harder than before!

1. What was the last song you listened to? Yesterday evening I was at a meeting at our Rec Center. Outside the meeting room our community Chorale members were rehearsing for a Christmas concert. This full-voiced, professional chorus delighted us with "Hark of the Bells", "White Christmas" and others. I could have sat there all night.

2. Have you ever had “buyer’s remorse” over anything? Yes, which is why I keep receipts.

3. What is something in your life that you are thankful for now that you didn’t think you would be at the time of the event? (Something that seemed ill-timed, inconvenient or hurtful which turned out to be a good thing) When my son had an anaphylatic reaction to nuts at age 3. It was scary and presaged what I thought would be a huge burden on his life. Yet, now I am thankful because it keeps a lot of junk food out of our home and thus, our lives.

4. Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade every year? If so, do you have a favorite float or balloon? No.

5. Share a quote, scripture, poem or lyric which has been an inspiration to you lately. Rev 22:17
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."
We're working on an advent devotion tentatively titled, "Come, Lord Jesus"...

6. This is meant to be a fun question, and this is a G-rated blog, but please share a “guilty pleasure,” something that you enjoy that’s probably not the most edifying, time-worthy or healthy thing you could be indulging in. Did I mention this blog is rated G? Researching genealogy. I mean, it doesn't really matter because these people are dead. But it's a puzzle and I like to put puzzles together.

7. What Thanksgiving food are you looking forward to? Brined turkey.

8. What is your favorite book to read to children, or what was your favorite childhood book? We read "The Chronicles of Narnia" aloud as a family when our children were very small. Although they started out a bit squirmy, by the time we really got going in the story, they were captivated. They will always have those memories and the story deep inside them.

9. Do you collect anything? (Feel free to post a photo.) I have a collection of nativity scenes that has grown over the years. They're from all over, and made of all kinds of stuff. I don't buy them -- people have given them to me. But, lest I start treating them like idols, I was reminded by loss. I had one that was handed down in my husband's family that was an original Hummel set. It was stolen in our last move and we didn't figure it out until the following December when we went to put up the Christmas decorations. (We moved in January). So, oh well and lesson learned.

10. Gift bags or wrapping paper? Some things just don't lend themselves to neat wrapping -- for them, gift bags. Others are satisfying to fold into some lovely paper -- books, DVDs, etc.

11. Share an after-school memory from when you were younger. What was your routine like on an average day? When we lived in Japan my best friend's mom was Japanese so they lived off base way out in the country. As often as I could after school I went home with Pam and we roamed the small villages and towns around her house. It was the 'real' Japan rather than the area around the military base and I loved it. My regular routine was to get home, have a snack, and go out to play. I rarely had homework and we didn't have American TV so there was no point in staying inside.

12. True story: Once, in a job interview, I was asked this question and told there would be no clarifying; I simply had to answer the question: “When you’re fishing, do you feel for the fish?” So what about you? Do you feel for the fish?? A little. Same with all food-animals. But I can practice stewardship and live with it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Can You Figure These Out?

It's nice to have something lighthearted to read today.
Our bases in the US are supposed to be places
of refuge in between deployments,
places to restore, retrain, reunite, relax.
Our prayers are with the Ft. Hood families.

Some of these are very clever.
And I think one is absolutely brilliant!
Guess which one that is...

MUTT DOC A veterinarian
FEARLES (this on a mini-cooper) Fearless
IRSH AYS (For you, Susan!) Irish Eyes
ROVNRN (A visiting nurse?)
MNYHAHA (From the shores of Minnetonka...)
WTITIS What it is...
KDBOX (a Honda Element) Kid Box
4R3 XYZ For Our Three Boys (get it? Boys are xy)
ITLG8 I tailgate (!)
MEOWX2 Someone loves cats
FB4 EVR (Virginia Tech Plate) Football For Ever (either that or facebook)

E-mail me the answers! I'll post what I think on Monday so when
I can't figure out Quilly's pun I'll still feel pretty smart. Grin.

My favorite is the 4R3 XYZ -- it is just so clever!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Word Thursday

This week Quilly asks us to go back through the October word list and use three. It's almost like revisting old friends...who seem like the ones you used to know but who aren't quite the way you remember them! Thanks Quilly!

Alice stood to face Judge Hanson. “May it please the court,” she began, “my client respectfully requests a recess for three days to examine the evidence and prepare a defense.”

The judge looked over her glasses at the assistant D.A. sitting there. “Any objections?” she asked. The fresh-from law school young man stood, banging his knees on the table and causing the laptop to rock precariously. “No, your honor,” he managed to get out.

Alice stifled a smile. She remembered when she had experienced that kind of xenization in a courtroom. “Granted,” said the judge. “We will reconvene on Thursday at which time I will expect to proceed through the entire body of evidence. You are lucky we’ve had a plea on a trial that was scheduled to begin that morning.” Alice nodded, “Yes, your honor.”

“Okay, we’re adjourned,” the judge said. “Alice, come see me in chambers please.”

Alice looked up, startled, and then answered, “Yes, your honor.” She gathered her materials and instructed her client to go track down that “miracle witness who would exonerate him”. She also told him to shower before he returned to court and to wear a shirt with a collar. Finally, Alice made her way back to the judge’s private area.

“Come in,” Judge Hanson called in response to her knock. “We need to talk about Adam Tradoch. Just listen – don’t answer. Alice, you’re sailing very close to the wind on this one, and you could lose your boat over it.” The judge was an avid sailor and most of her warnings had to do with high seas and strong winds. “I’ve just had a call from Ben Carmody. Adam has run away from school and disappeared. You’re the one who got him out of the woods and into the situation he’s in now, and while my first priority is Adam’s welfare, I am also concerned about your bar license. His father is rich and can go after you in a way that even if unsuccessful in the end, can destroy your reputation and practice. More importantly, this little boy is running all of the adults in this case around like he’s the puppet master. None of this is good and I really don’t like it occurring in my jurisdiction. Now go do something about it.”

Alice started to reply but the look in the Judge’s eye changed her, “But…” to a “Yes ma’am,” and she turned to leave. “Oh, and one more thing,” said the judge. Alice turned back with her eyebrows raised questioningly. The judge’s face relaxed into a tenellous smile. “It’s good to see you and Luke working things out.”

Alice’s jaw dropped. Judge Hanson had been one of the few people who had scrupulously avoided comment as the drama of Luke and Alice’s first go-round had unfolded. She winked at Alice and said, “now go find that boy.”

Alice’s thoughts were in a whirl as she walked to her car. She lifted her suffarcinated briefcase into the back seat. As she slid into the driver’s seat, she mused. “Adam…where could you be? Why are you running?” Her mind ranged back over all the events of the last three weeks, probing into all the non-verbal messages she had received from Adam along the way. Body language, avoiding her eyes, and intonation when he did speak all gave a subtext to the events. "C'mon Alice, you've had special training in this so you can pick juries. Use it here," she whispered to herself.

The pieces started to come together. Then, all of a sudden, Alice knew exactly where to go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Morphing Christmas Event

So, about a month ago the women's ministry at my church asked if I'd be the Queen of the annual Cookie event. For the last several years we've chosen a Friday night and invited all the women of the church to come bake cookies. We choose 2-3 recipes and have all the stuff there with several stations with mixers, etc.

After I prayed about it, and gulped nervously, I said yes. Then all the obstacles started popping up. For example, two of my friends who would be mainstays for helping have kids' events that night. For example, we have only one oven at the church, so the cookies had to meet the following criteria:

  • drop cookies only
  • no chilling
  • must bake at same temperature
Well, I got through that one by looking at a zillion recipes and deciding that cookie #3 would be a prebaked Gingerbread man that the youth girls can help the little girls decorate. Then I found 2 recipes I thought we could manage. And the one oven meant that some people would take home dough to bake later. And another glitch -- the people working in the kitchen and doing most of the prep have ended up with NO cookies at the end of the evening on occasion. So I contemplated a 'limit', i.e. "2 dozen of each OR dough to bake 2 dozen at home." The whole thing got more and more complicated.

And through it all I kept feeling more and more like the GRINCH!

Then on Sunday I talked to the person who purchases the supplies and asked how to quantify what I needed. She said, "you know, we're not supposed to be preparing anything here at the church. We don't have fire marshal approval." Another gulp.

But here's the cool thing. Parallel with this planning, God had been nudging me about making it more about His gift and less about how many cookies everyone gets to take home. Last year in early December we had a 1 morning retreat focusing on worship and praise and it REALLY set the holiday season in proper perspective. I was trying to figure out how those two things could go together. And now I had an obstacle that I could not overcome without ignoring the law, which is for our own safety. (The kitchen part of our church was originally part of a 50+ year old house which makes ignoring fire code regulations more risky than for many -- never mind the whole "respect authority" argument!)

BUT GOD...(don't you LOVE that phrase?) had a very different plan.

I asked the lady who put the retreat on last year (it was solely a prompting from the Lord that made her do so) to pray about how we could do something that encompasses both. She said she would, and called me back almost immediately.

What she suggested, and what I believe God is calling us to do, is to have a women's only Evensong time of worship with the prophetic passages interspersed with music, and then a small cookie fellowship (every one brings their 'best' Christmas cookie or candy). And, all of a sudden, I'm getting volunteers to help...

So...thank you God for helping me keep this in perspective! Bloggy friends, I ask you to pray for this event. It is an outreach for our non-Christian neighbors who see Christmas as the commercial event it has become and associate it with Christians.

And . . . suggestions welcome, too!

Random Second Cup!

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee hosts this lovely meme each Wednesday. Very thought provoking questions, and many fun people with good senses of humor answer! Feel free to play along by clicking on the link to Linda's site!
This Week's Random Dozen
1. It's early morning, about 2:00AM, and you're driving home. You come to a red light and sit there. There is no one in sight for miles around. Do you wait it out or run the light? I am so rules-oriented, I wait...and I'm so self-righteous that I probably judge the guy next to me who doesn't...(Forgive me Lord for judging)
2. If you had the chance to re-do the last 24 hours, would you change anything?
Yes, I would start nagging my son about writing his thank-you notes YESTERDAY instead of today. (Forgive me Lord for not being able to discern the difference between nagging and persevering)
3. When you reply to someone's comment on your blog, do you reply in your comments or go to her blog and comment? (Or email her)
All three, depending on the situation. (Thank you Lord for giving me so many options)
4. Your favorite Disney movie is:
Mary Poppins (Thank you Lord for wholesome movies I could cheerfully share with my children when they were young)
5. Do you recycle?
Yes, most of the time, most of the stuff. (Thank you Lord for the recycling company making it easy to practice this kind of stewardship)
6. Games of strategy or games of chance?
Strategy (Forgive me Lord for thinking I'm in control!)
7. Do you have any recurring dreams?
Not any more (Thank you Lord for peaceful sleep)
8. What did you learn from your first real job?
That the world of rock-n-roll was a seedy place. I worked at a radio station on the request line. (Thank you Lord for forgiving me for the sins I committed in those dark days)
9. Do you buy or borrow most books?
Borrow from the library. I work the huge used book sales at our library and I can't stand the thought of paying more than $3 for any hardback book now. (Thank you Lord for your abundant provision!)
10. What fashion trend of the past did you say you'd never wear again but did?
I don't have an answer for this. I am so anti-trend that I can't even think of any! (Thank you Lord for memory loss!)
11. When do you start Christmas shopping?
When I remember I'm running out of time. (Thank you Lord for helping me focus on the celebration of love that Christmas is)
12. Have you ever been so happy that you literally jumped up and down for a few seconds? If so, what was the occasion?
Yes, when the test strip showed a line meaning "yes". And then I got in the car and went over to where my husband had gone for a haircut and tracked him down so I could tell him he was going to be a daddy. (Thank you Lord for those memories that make me smile!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River hosts this. Look at the illustration. Write a story. Limit it to 140 characters. Link back to her.

Mama brushed Baby’s belly, preparing him for the holiday feast.

Papa didn’t like fiber in his meals.


She tried to eat right and feed the baby the right foods. But everytime that

artist showed up his sketches added on 15 lbs! Damn Picasso.