Monday, December 31, 2012


January through March [aka winter] is the most difficult time of the year for me.  I'm not a fan of cold weather.  I don't like the interruption to normal schedules that snow days can bring.  Sure, back when my kids were young and I didn't work full time, a snow day was a beautiful thing.  Now snowy days mean a bit of a treacherous drive to work and way too many people shopping at Kroger for white bread.

Partly to help me happily navigate the dark season [what I've labeled winter], and partly because I think it's an obviously good idea, I've broken down {resolutions/goals/things I wanna try to accomplish} by category and by month.  I'm reading The Happiness Project and though I've just completed a few chapters, I'm taking some leads from Gretchen Rubin and tweaking them to fit my life.

I've got some things at home that desperately need to be organized.  Perhaps not to the average visitor, but there are some projects that are calling, actually screaming my name, "Organize me, NOW!"  So, I've decided to pick one project a month.  I'm being kind to myself, in that I don't have to list out 12 projects today.  I'm sure some will come about during the year. far, I've got myself through winter, which is the focus time right now anyway:

recipe organization [my recipes are a mess, and that's no way to live]
kids' papers organization, as in all that stuff they bring home from school [yes, even into their senior year of HS]
craft supply organization [every couple of years I reorganize.....and alas, it's needed again]

I've decided to also pick one project a month.  I greatly enjoy these type of home projects and if I don't actually record a commitment to do them, years can go by with only good ideas and intentions.  So, here's my plan so far:

art for kids bathroom [the walls are pretty bare in there]
frame some of the pictures from the Renoir and van Gogh books I purchased at Half Price Books months ago for this purpose and hang in our kitchen
paint our inside doors that face out [this one will take some working up to, as it will take decision making on colors, and will be a rather bold statement for our home]
plant flowers in pots outside and make new front door wreath
create something to hang on wall in master bath

According to Brene Brown, we all need to take time for creativity.  Even those of us who don't label ourselves as creative.  I akin it to working out.  I am not an all-star athlete.  I don't expect to win any races this year or be drafted into the WNBA [does it still exist?], but I still should exercise.  Likewise, whether or not my artwork or crafts or photos or whatever are professional quality, the point is I need to use my creativity.  All too often, I've considered this type of activity as a luxury or something to do when all other tasks are complete.  Well, not in 2013.  Creating will become a regular part of my routine.

I also want to set some food goals/personal eating restrictions.  I won't bore you with those details, but I will say I'm tired of feeling guilty each time I indulge in bottled water [therefore I should stop] and I have not done well in avoiding processed foods.  I need to make my eating rules more of a priority, even if it means skipping eating at a restaurant that all the cool people are going to.

As far as other goals, I'm allowing myself to take it month by month.  I'm interested in human trafficking prevention, but am not sure how to get into it.  I'm interested in helping people who are not literate.  I'm interested in joining a book club.  But I realize I'm not going to have all of these ready to check off on Jan 1.  So......  I'll keep them on a list and see what comes about.  Oh, I'll pursue them, but not simply for the sake of accomplishment.

There are also the randoms:
  • visit the Cincinnati Museum of Art at least once [our fam typically does]
  • hike Red River Gorge [haven't done that in a while]
  • read back through my 2011 Fruit of the Spirit Journal entries
  • send more cards via the USPS [who doesn't like to receive mail?]
  • email my mother more [she likes this]
  • eat more raw foods
  • avoid Velveeta
  • spend a day at The Abbey of Gethsemani 
  • journal more
I'm looking forward to April and spring and getting my recipes organized.  If you have a good system, let me know, ASAP.

Resolutely yours,

P.S.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

{advent hope part 2} aka dueces.dos.deux

I am one of those people.......I have to hand make some of my Christmas gifts.  It's an oddity too difficult for some to understand.  Yet, it's me.  I generally make gifts for the grandparents, sometimes for my sister and family, and the last few years I've gotten into producing handcrafted items for my husband.  Much to his happiness, I have not taken up knitting [as of yet].  But I like the whole [let's paste some meaningful stuff on a canvas type idea]........

This year's theme is HOPE.

Actually, I've decided to make HOPE my word of the year for 2013.  I've come to the conclusion that we need more of it.  We, as in, all of us who are human.  And it hits home.  This year, within a football field's distance of my home:
  • a house burned down
  • a 19 year old was shot and killed
  • I've witnessed a woman in the act of solicitation [as in prostitution for the street naive] on a Saturday afternoon
  • a young man living across the street was arrested and hauled off in the back of a cop car
  • a second floor apartment where children live was barged into by armed, masked bad guys
  • more than a few drug deals have gone down
  • and just the day before ambulance, multiple firetrucks and a few police cars gathered down the street due to this lovely story
I'm HOPING for a less eventful 2013 on Loudon Avenue.  And I'm HOPING I am hopeful and not resigned to negativity.  It's easy to give up and wish for the next ticket out or up or through.

This might surprise my husband and kids, but 2012 was, perhaps, the best Christmas I can remember. Granted, my memory is pretty much shot.  But I can't recall a more peaceful, comfortable holiday.  Trust me, I've had some quite unpleasant ones.  And this one was far from it.  I guess the fact I was able to give my husband a toaster for Christmas says it all.  There was a day when I would have never taken the risk of giving kitchen appliances.  While he's probably the only one who'll grasp the concept, it's taken a long journey to get to the point where a toaster is acceptable and not a ridiculous thought.  But since our toaster oven doesn't adequately brown a slice of bread in a timely manner, we're giving the old fashioned Proctor Silex the old college try.

Which brings me full circle because my word for 2012 was RISK.  I'm not sure how much I participated in risky business this year.  Yet, I'm reminded the toaster was a risk.  As was the artwork. Going off the list, away from the norm, putting myself out there.  Even after 22.5 years of marriage, that can still be difficult.

So here's to hope and hoping and being hopeful.  That Loudon Avenue will not produce anymore felons.  That our toast will never burn.  That the University of Kentucky Museum of Art will contact me regarding a display of my work [not really, but I can dream....].

Happy {hopeful} advent and new year!  

Monday, December 24, 2012

{advent hope}

Sometimes things don't go as planned.  I'm sure that's an obvious fact to you, my blog reader.  But I'll give an example anyway.

I frequently place books on hold at the library.  A while back, I placed John Grisham's latest novel, The Racketer along with Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior.  I was number 1,023 [not really, I can't remember the exact number but it was in the 100s] on the Grisham wait list.  The Kingsolver number wasn't near as large.  I figured what are the chances they'll arrive at the same time?  Slim, very slim.  Meanwhile I was reading Anna Karenina on my Kindle [I got it for free, since it's a classic].  I wanted to finish reading it before I watch the movie that was just released.  But alas, Tolstoy [the author of AK] is anything but brief and I was about 45% through the novel when I got the library notice:

Flight Behavior is ready to be picked up.

Mind you, on these newly released bestsellers, you only get a 14 day window to read them.  I put AK aside, and started in on Flight Behavior.  Which I'm still reading.  Meantime, I received another notice:

 The Racketer is ready to be picked up.

Meanwhile [again.....], I like to read a non-fiction book while reading fiction.  It keeps me balanced.  I've been reading Outliers.  I'd put The Happiness Project on hold a while back [another huge wait list]. Well, it's now in my possession because it became available too.  Fortunately, it's not a 14 day-er, so I've got a good month to conquer it.

Lest you think I feel my library/reading issues are a big deal, I don't.  It's just an example of what seems to happen when I try to balance out an aspect of my life that really is out of my control.  I can't pick and choose when the library books become available.  Sure, I could  purchase all my reading material, but that would get mighty expensive.  I simply HOPE it all works out.

I believe most of us understand the concept of love.  You've heard it as many times as me....."the word LOVE is overused."  We love our spouses.  We love pizza.  We love San Diego.  We love all the merchandise sold by Anthropologie.  We love the ring inherited from Grandma.  And really there's absolutely no comparison because I'd give up pizza forever if my husband's welfare depended on it and though San Diego will always hold a sentimental place in my heart, I might never return.

We get faith too.  We understand there are some things we can count on.  I know for a fact my dad is there for me if I ever need ANYTHING (like money).  Unless he goes through a horrific brain shift, that's not going to change.  He will never willingly allow me to become homeless or destitute.  I know my husband will never, ever eat corn.  He had a bad experience with it once.  These are things that won't change.

But hope, hope is somewhere in between and I think somehow we've misplaced it.  We use the word a bunch, like we do love.

I hope I get an A.
I hope I receive a raise.
I hope it doesn't rain.
I hope my car doesn't run out of gas.
I hope I can sell my home.
I hope he calls.

But we also go out of our way and use preventive measures.

We study to get the A.
We work to get the raise.
We take an umbrella just in case and some of us even have cute rain boots.
We watch the gas meter and fill up before it becomes worrisome.
etc. etc. etc.

Yesterday my husband, daughter and I went to the discount theater and saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Again, things often don't go as planned.  I'd hoped for one of those teenage angst type films.  A few laughs, maybe a tear, and then we'd get on with the day.   I have to tell you, a movie has not affected me like that in years.  I'm a reflector.  I'm a processor.  And I, probably more so than most, think back to the past and sometimes unhealthily dwell there.  This movie took me back to 16 again.

Upon leaving the theater, I wanted to begin giving my daughter a speech.  Maybe I should write her a letter.  I just want to make sure she knows.  And I need to include my son, who didn't see the movie, but needs to know these things.....

Don't choose the punk over the kid who likes Hemingway.  Dreams of Cal Berkeley should always trump dreams of the US Marine Corp.  Because ex-Marines often end up fat and people who like Hemingway end up in cool places like the Pacific Northwest.
Don't choose the popular people over those who compliment you when you wear your aunt's old clothes from the 1960s you found in your grandma's garage.
Be yourself.  It's alright to dress up even if it seems the entire world is wearing jeans.  Befriend the people who are different because they're probably more interesting than those who aren't different. 
Be patient with the people who've been through much.  Not everyone has had the fortune you have.  And be patient with those who have never been through anything worse than a B- on a test.  They need love too.  Because hardship is relative.

And always, always hope.  Hope the world will change.  Hope we'll no longer need the US Marine Corp and no one will end up fat.  Hope someday we'll live in a world where Goodwill always trumps Abercrombie, because that's probably how it should be.  Don't conform.  Because conformists end up in the suburbs.  

I apologize for the scattered nature of this entry.  I've thought about [hope] for over a week, and just couldn't seem to write anything that measured up to my thoughts.  I've rambled.  I hopefully haven't offended you.  I do wish you a {hopeful} holiday and new year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

{adverse Advent}

I have multiple journals.

One is green and I carry it in my purse.  It's purpose is prayer and devotional thoughts.

One is small and brown and I also carry it with me.  I use it to jot down writing ideas, mainly for my blog.  It's also handy if I come across a good quote. 

I have a journal on my nightstand, in which I write the more diary type stuff:  personal rants, how I'm feeling, why I should be the first female president [not really].

Having multiple might seem odd to some, but I desire to keep things separate.  The nightstand journal absolutely could not travel around with me.  It's too private, and to be honest, I don't use very good penmanship in it.  The green journal is nice to have around, especially if I catch a spiritual thought while at work I want to jot down, or if I feel the need to write out a prayer.  The little brownie is not neat.  It's mainly used for brainstorming.  It gives me that Hemingway vibe.

Anyway, the point of all this......I looked in my green journal earlier this week and realized I haven't written anything in quite some time.  The last entry was a prayer I copied, most likely from Common Prayer:

Lord, you have brought them in safety to this new day.  Preserve them by your mighty power that they may not fall into sin nor be overcome by adversity and in all that they do, direct them to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Above the prayer, I'd written:
Prayer for husband and kids

My kids have not really faced extreme adversity; nothing life shattering has ever, thank goodness, happened to them.  But I'm a firm believer that much in life is relative to your circumstances, so when they do face what is difficult for them, it is, in reality, difficult.

It's easy to gloss over the adversity of the Christmas story.  Yet, so much of it is stark and not so pretty.  Yes, it's the most beautiful story ever.  But at the same time it's a young girl put in an unfamiliar, risky situation.  It's a young man trying to do the right thing even though it would be easier not to.  It's life in an occupied country, where the adversary is very real and powerful and dangerous.  When I imagine my young daughter put in the situation Mary was in, it's overwhelming to comprehend.

Our kids face decisions that have consequences.  Not just the drugs and sex and uber serious stuff.  But the "should I be in the percussion ensemble?" and "should I try out for the school play?" questions do have the ability to take one down a certain path.  And while they might not be life altering, even a little change during one's freshman year of high school can be BIG.

I'm finding one of the hardest aspects of parenting is helping our kids through their difficulties and decisions.  It's fairly easy to tell them what to do.  But letting them make the call.....  that can be hard.

Jean Vanier's quote was part of my morning devotional today:

"To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude:  'You are beautiful.  You are important.  I trust you.  You can trust yourself.' We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves.  To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them."

That's a great goal, to reveal the light that is shining in my kids.  I hope I'm getting there.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

{Advent renouncements}

The contrast between {being humble} and {being all you can be} is glaring.  I am reminded often [mostly by my sweet husband], that what I do, as in work, does not define who I am.  Last night I read a chapter of The Gifts of Imperfection and it again helped me see this.

I want to learn to renounce what the world says is important.  And though in some ways I'm there.....I get it and embrace it, in others I'm far away. 

As I transverse through the Advent season, I really want to focus on the simple, dirty, raw and real story of Christmas.  I want this to be my prayer:

Hound us, Lord, with affection and conviction until we renounce all lesser things to follow you. Help us see that in giving up the fool’s gold of the world, we open ourselves to heavenly treasure that lasts forever. 
Amen. [Common Prayer]

I like that....{fool's gold of the world}.

I recently read this:

Justin the Martyr wrote in the second century, “He called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call he has roused us all, and now we have renounced all the things the world offers, even unto death.”[Common Prayer]

That's pretty extreme.....{even unto death}.

I seriously doubt I'll ever face death because of what I've renounced.  But I do face death of self.....everyday.  And while it's a completely different thing, it is difficult to renounce what the world deems as success.  At the end of the day, I want to feel like I've accomplished something, and I confess, sometimes I wish I could accomplish something BIG.  Or what the world deems as big.  And that's simply {fool's gold of the world}.  My OT scripture reading for today is Isaiah 2:12-22.  It's a pretty good summation that the things of this world will pass away.  Especially the stuff that makes us proud and egotistical. 

It’s early December, God, the first excitement of calendars and wreaths is passing; we wonder if we’ll be able to keep up even our simplest daily discipline. The promise and danger of Advent is that it changes our habits, even for just a few weeks. Use this time to remake us, Lord, in the image of your Son. Amen.  
[A Homemade Prayer for Tuesday in Advent 1 by Josh Thomas]

Thursday, November 29, 2012

{merry Advent}

New year resolutions are generally made at the end of December/beginning of January.  I'm not sure why, but this year a bunch of {resolution} type thoughts hit me right after Thanksgiving.

It strikes me as odd I have come to think of the precursor to Easter season as important.  We have a name for it, Lent, and many of us give up something or make allowances during it.  Yet, what we've named the {holiday season} rolls around, and I don't change my lifestyle for the better.  On the contrary, I often stress out when faced with gifts to purchase, goodies to bake, and the general rush-about the holidays bring.

Lest you think I'm being a bah humbug........I'm really not.  I'm simply coming to realize this season, the supposedly happiest time of the year, has a name:


There's a formula to follow if one desires.  There are significant scripture verses to study.  There are definitely ideas to ponder.  And I'm hoping this year to make it important like I did Lent in February, March and April.  

I came across this prayer the other day:

Lord, just as your love knows no bounds and finds endless ways to reveal itself, so help us to express a gratitude too deep for words. Help us to learn to reveal our thanksgiving in the countless ways there are to love others, to provide for those in need, to serve where service is rare. Amen.

As I navigate between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to make this my daily prayer.   I want to meditate on these words.  I especially want to:

serve where service is rare.

Where is service rare?  Probably not too far away from where I'm at.  I'll let you know when I find it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

thanks and/or muchas gracias

I've noticed people on Facebook mentioning one thing each day they're thankful for.  It's a nice gesture and reminder.  It's the time of year when we focus on thankfulness.  I happen to prefer the Thanksgiving holiday over many of the others.  It's simple.  It revolves around a meal.  The color scheme is earthy.  What's not to like?

This year I'm trying to be less general with my thankfulness, and really focus.  In other words, I'm trying to not just list out names and things.
For example:  husband, kids, house, cars, food, job
Yes, I'm thankful for those things.  But why?
Sure, it's nice to have a husband.  But what about him am I particularly thankful for right now?
My kids, sure they're great.  But what hits me right now, today, about them that makes me grateful they're in my life?
Get the idea?

My husband
Chip has taken an extremely focused approach to helping our son pick out a college.  Chip has emailed university professors, attended open houses, and arranged his schedule in order to assist Jamie as much as possible.  Because Jamie's college major will be very specific, not every school offers what he needs.  Chip has investigated options and walked along with Jamie the whole way.  I'm glad they've had the experience together.  I'm glad Chip has kept up with it all.  It would probably be overwhelming for Jamie to do alone.  Tomorrow they head to the University of Louisville to meet with a classical guitar professor, as well as a jazz professor also.  No matter how it ends up, I'm so happy they will share the time.

My son
I'm thankful my son is who he is.  In other words, he's comfortable with himself and confident in his abilities.  There are people much older who are not.  They pretend to be something or someone they are not.  He is who he is.  He's not a faker.  He's his own person.  He has some interesting habits and points of view and ways of doing things. I'm thankful for his uniqueness.

My daughter
My daughter has the strongest will of anyone I've ever been close to.  And I wouldn't trade that quality in her.  She can take charge and she can get things done.  She is stubborn and unrelenting.  And I believe these qualities will take her far.  She might hack a few people off along the way, but she wants the world to be fair and don't we need more people like that?

I'm thankful for today because this is the last Thanksgiving before the homecomings begin.  Next year Jamie will return home for holidays.  The following year Allie hopes to be in England, where I doubt Thanksgiving is celebrated.  I'm thankful for a few days away with my husband and kids.  I'm thankful I'll get to see my grandmother, because she is 87 and has dementia and you never know when the end will come.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to visit with my mother and father, sister and family.  I'm thankful for time to read in the car, laugh at our beagle, and eat my mom's German chocolate pie.

I'm thankful that God is faithful.  It's one of my favorite characteristics of God.  Whether I have health insurance, whether I live on the south side of town or the north, whether I'm afraid or sad or happy, God is the same.  He's faithful and that's a pretty cool concept in a world where most things are 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doing the Right Thing

Last evening my husband Chip and I watched a movie, Nothing But the Truth.  It's the story of a female reporter who writes an article for the Washington DC newspaper she works for. When ordered by a judge to give up her source, she refused.  I won't give away all the details, but basically it came down to this:

She decided doing what she felt was right was the most important thing.

She ended up jeopardizing her relationship with her husband and son.  She stressed and inconvenienced others who fully supported her.  And in the end, she still adamantly held onto her belief that she should under no circumstances give up her source.  It was a really good movie.  I recommend it.

It left me wondering about Rachel's [the main character] reasoning and decisions.  How far should I take the right thing?  At what cost does one draw the line?  While I'll most likely never come across information pertinent to national security like she did, I have been involved in situations where I or we [as in our family] have given up instead of pushing for what some might construe as right.

Ministry can come down to that.  What personal cost are you willing to pay in order to minister to others?  While something sounds biblical and appropriate to those wanting to uphold the gospel, I've found that often little long term change is made in other's lives, while meanwhile, one's family is left in a quagmire and/or mess.  I shutter to think at the number of people I've witnessed do this, in the name of ministry, and am grateful that although sometimes contrary to my ideals, my husband pushed to free our family from this lifestyle.

This national election period has brought to light how staunchly some support the idea of black and white, all in or all out way of seeing the world.  In many people's eyes, there seems to be a right way and a wrong, allowing no compromise or in-between.  Recently, our family's dinner conversation went to talk regarding pro life issues and various politicians' views on whether rape was a valid reason to acquire an abortion.  Mind you, I worked in pro life ministry for many years.  And I'd come to the conclusion that taking a life is wrong.

Yet, one's ideals can take on a different pattern when sitting across the table from your 14 year old daughter.  She didn't ask in so many words, but I know her thoughts were of this nature:

So, if I was raped and became impregnated, would you expect me to carry the baby?

Oh gosh!  That's horrible to even consider, and God help us if we ever have to.  But I had to explain that, though I've believed for years it's wrong to take a life, I could not possibly make her suffer in this way.  Not against her will or against what we might surmise would be best for her life as a whole.  I told her way more details than she probably cared to hear, about how the police handle such incidents and hospital visits and basically the nitty gritty of this type of situation.

I'm not a [Hey! Let's all take sin lightly] kind of person.  And I believe that Jesus is the way, truth and life.  But I've grown tired of people declaring the correct outcome of difficult circumstances, simply because it's their opinion, or they're in a place of leadership and believe they've been given the wisdom [by whom, I'm not sure] necessary to make sure declarations.  It seems these folks are often males speaking about female bodily processes or people who have financial resources beyond the average and have no clue or care of what it's like to live in financial struggle.

Someone reading this might come to the conclusion I've become a relativist.  My response would be that I don't think I have.  Or actually, it might be that really we all are to some extent.  Maybe?  Answers to impossibly difficult questions don't come as quickly when I'm considering the people I love with everything I've got.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear James on Senior Night

Dear James,
It's Senior Night for the marching band students.  I can hardly believe you're at this point.  When did you get to be so old?
It seems just yesterday you were the self assured eighth grader with a bunch of long haired friends.
Then you joined the marching band and I learned not to serve you oatmeal on contest days.  Especially the contests held at Papa John's Stadium.  Those can be stressful times.

After many.many.many hours of practicing on that crazy drum pad, you became a marching snare drummer.  I like to think of you as the quarterback of the band.  
  You drummers have your own lingo.  Thankfully, you have cell phones in which to communicate that special language.
I've watched you grow into a leader.  You've grown in many ways and you've been stretched beyond what's comfortable.  You've learned to lose with grace and you've learned how to relate to lots of different people.
And thankfully you know just enough Spanish to fall back on, just in case you get thrown in a Mexican jail by the federales while on a guitar tour of Latin America.

You've rehearsed and performed and rehearsed and performed and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments.   I hope you realize what a gifted musician you truly are.
 Your senior year has been especially great, seeing you perform not only on snare, but also on guitar.  Your solo was wonderful and again, I was so proud every time I saw the show.

Thanks for pouring into your sister, inspiring her to continue the fine Monck percussion tradition.  You are a patient teacher.

I know you'll be missed amongst the BSHS Marching Defenders.  Next year won't be the same.  [especially if there's no drum line]

I'm glad your future is in the guitar.  It's a much better solo instrument than the snare.  Nonetheless, as you walk on, into your musical future, I thank you for four [mostly] great years of marching band.  It's been an experience and you've hung in there.  I love you, James.  I couldn't ask for a better son.  Happy Senior Night!


Saturday, October 20, 2012


My daughter had an incident this week.  Actually it was more of an accident.  She fell, while in her school's auditorium and cut a gouge out of the bottom of her chin.  The wound required five stitches.  It also meant she missed a biology test and I missed an afternoon of work during a very busy week.  But, daughters come before work and school and all of the less important stuff, so I picked her up, took her to urgent care, and got her taken care of.  Afterwards, she returned to school for a 3 hour band rehearsal session.  I was proud of how she handled the entire incident, and she even told me thanks repeatedly for taking time out of my day to assist her.

Meanwhile, back at her school, it seems her band director decided to make some sort of odd remark about the incident, reminding the band students to be careful, because a female had been reckless and got hurt.  He was referring to my young female, who, according to her story, was not being reckless when the accident happened.  She simply tripped, fell, and gouged her chin on the floor.  She is not a reckless female.

I've pondered the comment sent Tuesday evening, wondering if I should address the director or ask my husband to.  I have done neither and most likely will ignore it.

Mainly because I keep thinking about Malala, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban because she insists on receiving an education.  Simply put, she goes to school so they shot her.  She's 15 and I imagine her parents are proud yet worried sick.  My daughter returned to school when done at urgent care, and faced no violence or persecution or scorn.  Just a smart mouthed instructor who didn't witness what happened.  We can ignore him or address him or report him to school administration.  Malala cannot ignore the Taliban.

My kids have recently expressed I complain a lot.  My husband has too.  My parents, in the past have voiced I haven't always been grateful.  When I think about my conversations with others, whether family, workmates or even strangers at the post office, I realize I do complain often.  I'm a grade A griper.  And I need to stop.

I follow A Couple Cooks and read their latest blog entry this morning: Gratitude.  I'm taking their idea, and modifying it for myself.  I'm self proclaiming November to be no.complain.november.  I pledge not to gripe, tweet irritating things, complain my workplace only has one restroom for 13 staff plus clients, and though I cannot guarantee I'll succeed, I pledge to not yell at irritating people while driving.   Whoo!  That last sentence was way too long.  But I'm not complaining.

It will be hard not to whine about my own misgivings.  I find I often self disrespect:  my hair's yucky, I need to take off a few pounds, I always burn toast, etc.   I have what I need and much more.  Plus I don't live in fear, which I am so thankful for.

I'm going to start practicing today, so hopefully I'll be more prepared come November 1.


Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thesalonians 5:16-18

Friday, October 12, 2012

a series of good-byes

I'd say I know a thing or two about parenting.  Not that I know it all because I don't.  But....I've been a parent for nearly 18 years and if I'd had one vocational job that long, I'd most likely be considered an expert in that particular field. 

If asked what parenting is all about, I think I'd answer it like this:

Parenting is a series of good-byes.  

There's the good-bye when you leave the hospital and realize you've been given charge of this newborn and things just might get dicey.

There's the good-bye when the parents and sister pull out of the drive way leaving you and your husband alone with an infant and you're not exactly sure what to do.

There's the good-bye that happens at daycare and/or the babysitter and/or the first day of preschool.

Then there's the monumental first day of kindergarten good-bye.  I still remember Jamie wearing an orange shirt [which he hated].  We went to Sonic for drinks after school.

Jamie's first day of kindergarten [August 2000]
There's the different sort of good-bye that occurs when you watch your child play catcher and you're confined to the bleachers.  You realize he's alone out there and he's touching every single pitch.  His role matters to the outcome of the game, and you won't converse until the game's over.  You hope an idiotic dad doesn't yell at him.

There's the good-bye when he or she enters the room at all district band try outs.  You have an idea about the level of ability your child possesses.  But, comparatively, when faced with competition and judges, you're just not sure.  You say a few words and the door closes for what seems like an hour even though it's only 5 minutes.

There's the middle school drop off good-bye, leaving you wondering what adolescent life will entail.

Then there's the biggie.  The good-bye on the first day of high school.  Cliques?  Bullies?  School cafeteria lunches?  A wave of fear as you remember the 1980s and high school and Madonna on MTV and drive in theaters and parties and how everything is so much worse now [although it's probably really not].

In between there's summer camps and times away at the grandparents' and band trips.  And a couple times a Haiti bound airport good-bye, wondering if he had a clue what he was in for.

While I realize there will always be good-byes, even way into my children's adulthood [holidays and summer visits and phone calls], there is one good-bye with some finality.  It's the one I remember distinctly from my youth.

The college good-bye.  

It's the bridge between childhood and grown up-ness.  It's a drop off with a realization that things will never ever be quite the same.  Sure, he might be back for the summer.  We'll see him in a month or at least at Thanksgiving.  But he's on his own from here on out.  Yes, we'll provide money and food and assistance.  But, at the end of the day, we are not there.

Saturday we attend our first college open house.  We'll say hello to the University of Louisville, realizing it could very well be, in less than a year, where we'll share that all important, life altering good-bye.  I'm not ready for this.  I don't know if I ever will be.  My first child off to college.  While I'm awfully proud of the young man he's become, I desperately miss that little blond kid in the orange shirt, happy to drink a giant Sonic drink. 

Our daughter, three years younger than her brother, wants to study abroad.  As in England.  She desires, quite seriously, to be a foreign exchange student her junior year of high school.  Another good-bye.  This time a longer distance and more than a short drive away.  I'm sure if she goes, she'll be ready.  Will I be....That's yet to be determined.  But knowing now she's independent enough to consider it, I feel like I'm in the midst of a job well done.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

think [beyond] pink

It's October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Lexington's Race for the Cure was yesterday.  Friday evening as I drove home through downtown, I noticed all the hoopla being set up for the festivities.

I realize breast cancer is a big deal.  First of all, I'm a middle aged female.  Second of all, I've had multiple mammograms.  Third of all, I've had to go the extra mile and have an ultrasound done on my breast, due to a large cyst.  While it wasn't cancerous, or even really that dangerous, it was a nerve wracking situation to deal with.  Plus it made my health insurance premiums go up.  While I haven't been diagnosed with breast cancer and haven't lost a close relation to it, I can relate.  I can understand the bleakness and trauma of the situation.  I comprehend the [sisterhood] and the [think pink] mentality that bands us together in a common cause.

Yet, earlier in the day Friday, before the Race for the Cure folks were busy downtown, I encountered a woman who faced other issues.  This woman lives 3.6 miles from me.  I met her Friday morning at a prayer walk.  She wasn't invited, though the group is certainly open.  She had never met any of us gathered there that morning.  Yet she saw us, parked her van on the street, and approached.  She wasn't even wearing shoes, despite the chilly morning.  She openly shared her concerns.

She lives in an unsafe apartment complex.  She's raising [I didn't catch the exact number], I believe 6 children as a single mom.  Because of recent violence in the complex, she doesn't allow her kids to play outside.  There were other situations- the typical single mom living in a rough neighborhood stuff I've heard over and over.  But this was the kicker.  This is what got me.  Whether she was exaggerating I don't know.  But I feel no compulsion to not believe her.  After all, I don't live in her complex.  I certainly cannot relate.  She said,
"I can't go to the complex laundromat at night, because I'll get raped." 
What in the world?  She has to arrange her laundry schedule in order to not get sexually assaulted?  A woman, living 3.6 miles from my home?  She's not in the Congo.  She's not in a village somewhere.  She's here in the city limits of a university town.

Fortunately, a friend/fellow female worker of mine was able to connect with her and get contact info.  We're hoping our workplace can help make a difference there.  Hopefully others will too.

I'm curious as to where the [sisterhood] is when women in our own community struggle like this.  Why are we über concerned about cancer, which yes, is horrible, but turn our heads when women fear getting raped when doing their everyday chores?  Isn't that also horrible?

What if today the NFL took all the money spent on [pink] uniforms and accessories and helped women in communities and situations like the lady I met on Friday?  I'm not saying don't support breast cancer research.  I'm not minimizing the grief and tragedy of a woman losing her life to a disease.  I'm just hoping we can expand our horizons and consider kids are getting shot, women are getting raped, and kids can't play outside, 3.6 miles away from our house.  Maybe even closer.  That's a cycle that needs to stop.  Why aren't we racing for a cure for women like I met Friday?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I like food.  I like cooking.  I like baking.  I like eating.  And I like following food blogs. But there are plenty of them out there.  Plus I don't have the patience to photograph every step involved in baking something.  I'd forget to photograph at least one step and I'd have to start over.  I just know it wouldn't work for me.  So I'll leave it to those who already do.  But I will give you a recipe, sans photos, for something delicious to bake this autumn:

Now, on to other topics.  Last evening, while helping my 14 year old daughter with some sewing alterations, she mentioned something out of the blue: 

"That awkward moment when Facebook recommends you "friend" Jaleel, yet he's dead."

Jaleel was shot and killed last week in our town.  He was 16.  Apparently my daughter has something like 32 Facebook friends in common with him.  

Not too many days before that, a friend of friends of my children's was killed in an ATV accident.  Around the same time, a cousin of family friends died suddenly in an accident at her home.  

And.......during the same time period, a high schooler took his life.

So, our city has lost 4 teenagers in the last few weeks.  A murder, two accidents and a suicide.  As a mother of a 14 and 17 year old, that shakes me up a bit.  As an employee of a non-profit organization that works with families, that rocks my world more than a little.  Four kids gone.  Four families whose futures are forever changed.  Countless friends and classmates left behind to wonder why this kind of thing happens, especially to those so young.   People looking for answers, and truthfully, there probably aren't that many.

I recently wrote an entry about suicide, and since hearing about the young man who recently took his own life, I've thought about him everyday.  His father wrote:  Father hopes teen parents will learn...... This is what gets me:

"There was no indication whatsoever that he was depressed or feeling depressed," he (the father) said. 

Obviously, we will never know all the details and what this young man was thinking before he took his own life.  He might have been facing a myriad of issues.  Yet his own father says there was no indication.  

One of my fav organizations, To Write Love on Her Arms, posted this yesterday:  [Suicide is Now the Leading Cause of Injury Related Death]

It is now more common for a teenager to commit suicide than for a teenager to perish in an automobile accident.  I'm not sure that's reason to tout the safety of modern cars.   It's a lot to take in, really.  

When my husband was a teenager, he attempted suicide.  Obviously, it was an attempt and not a successful one.  And for that I'm extremely thankful. It sets me on edge though.  It's there.  The [why?] question.  The [how did it come to that?] question.  Will I know if something is not right?  Am I   It makes me want to hound my kids, constantly trying to figure out if they're really okay.  Sure, they seem fine, most of the time.  They say they're fine.  Their grades indicate they're fine.  Reports from their teachers do the same.  

Please don't think I lie awake at night, fearing for their safety.  It's not that extreme.  Yet, I'm coming to realize more and more that what goes on in their minds, their moldable, not fully developed teenage minds, can wreck havoc if we're not careful.  Golly, my mind is not that of a teenager's and it can get a little crazy, what with doubts, fears, interpreted expectations of others, pressure we put upon ourselves to succeed, etc.

It's hard to be a person.  That sounds trite, but it is.  Despite the age we are, it's not easy.  So much can happen, sometimes suddenly, often through no fault of our own.  

This is a difficult entry to wrap up.  There's really nothing witty to write, so I won't try.  I'm simply sad that sometimes life ends suddenly and shockingly. 

    j  h
more here:

Monday, September 24, 2012

loafin' around

In case you haven't heard, loafers are in this fall.  And that's especially good news for me, because I already had a pair.  Honestly I can't remember when I bought them, but it's been years ago, most likely when they were in once upon a time way back in the past.  IMO, they never really go out, because they're a classic.  And I like classics.

A truly classic Audrey Hepburn wearing loafers.  And a turtleneck, which is also apparently very fashionable this season.
My loafers could use a bit of shoe polish, and I'll be getting to that soon.  Most likely after I fold some laundry and research as to whether we'll get the new season of Downton Abbey on our local PBS channel.

Since it's only September, I'd probably still be wearing sandals if it wasn't for my feet.  My left foot especially has been in pain nearly the entire summer.  Part of it's due to running, I'm sure, and a case of plantar fasciitis.  The other issue is my wearing of flip-flops and other non-supportive shoes.  But I've pledged to stop this irrational behavior and wear better shoes.  Mainly so I'll stop limping around.  And because I really like to walk whenever I can.  I'm a big fan of walking.

Speaking of shoes, I recently read a passage in Passport Through Darkness that was illuminating.  The author, Kimberly Smith, while working in Africa, gave her shoes to a native woman.

Our eyes locked, and immediately I loved this woman.  The woman who I could've been.  The woman who could've been me.  The woman who certainly suffered hunger, war, rape, death of husband and children, simply because of the color of her skin, the spot on the planet she happened to fill, and the fact that she was a woman.

She pointed to my boots.  Unsure as to why, I put my hands out in a confused gesture.  Continuing to smile, she bent down and pulled gently at my boot strings.  She wanted my boots.

Kimberly Smith

Kimberly [looking fashionable, yet not wearing loafers] with her husband
I want to be a shoe giving kind of woman.  But here's the thing:  A little later in Passport Through Darkness, Kimberly watched as a group of male soldiers loaded the plane she was about to board.  The group, whom Kimberly and her fellow travelers called the "Flip-Flop Patrol" because of the shoes they wore, were all wearing their normal shoes, except one.  One soldier was wearing the pair of shoes Kimberly had given the African woman.

As I wrestled with what to do, it occurred to me that this man could be the woman's husband, or maybe she bartered with the boots for food for her family.  In the end, I would never know.  I'd done what I did in an act extending myself.  I chose an act of faith and love.  I decided to leave it at that.

Gosh, if that's not a hard thing.  To leave it at that.  If you've worked with poor and homeless and people who need a lot of help for very long, you've most likely been taught there are rules you need to follow.  Don't give them _________.  Don't allow _________ to happen.  Be careful about _______.  There are workshops and trainings and even degrees offered on how to help people.  But doesn't it all come down to:  Choosing an act of faith and love?

I seriously doubt anyone I'll come across anytime soon will want or need my loafers. Yet I hope I hope I'm ready if they do.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I have a rather small journal in which I log writing ideas.  That way, if a thought hits me, I'm prepared to record it.  Well, my bag is currently so large and so full of crapola, that yesterday, I couldn't locate the mini journal inside it.  I decided I can't tolerate it anymore.  I absolutely must clean out the bag.  Besides, it's time to move from the summer bag to the fall.

These are some of the items I've come across when I've taken the time to clean out the bag:
  • a bag of tortilla chips
  • dirty dishes [leftover containers from lunch]
  • my Kindle
  • my iTouch  that hasn't been charged in a month
  • a Centre College open house invitation addressed to my son
  • a partially eaten Pound Plus Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar
  • chords for every piece of technology I own
  • a page from the Lexington Herald Leader [now a couple weeks old]
  • a Michael's store ad, in which I've already used the coupon, rendering the ad useless unless I need to start a fire
  • a bag of trail mix with only peanuts and raisins left 
  • a full size purse [yes, inside my other bag]
  • a grocery bag [you know, the kind used so you don't waste a plastic?]
  • a Galaxy tablet [provided by my workplace; yet to be used for work]
  • jewelry supplies purchased at Michael's 
  • hair accessories
  • a bottle of Aleve I enjoy selling at $1/pill [not really, but they are the strongest OTC med I've come across and I love them when I need them]
  • a regular size journal I prefer to keep in my bag [different from the mini]
  • assorted pens, lip glosses, feminine hygiene products and granola bar crumbs
My bag can be heavy and can actually make my shoulder hurt.  It can be quite awkward and cause me, at 5'1, to be off balance.  Sometimes I'd like to just chuck it into the river.  But......there's no river in my city.  So I keep carrying it.

I long to be one of those people who carries a tiny little bag that loops around the arm.  Like one of those wallet on a string sort of things. But alas, I realize I can't carry my Pound Plus of dark chocolate in a wallet.  Nor a Kindle or journal or grocery bag.  Any of which I just might need.

Carrying a heavy burden brings these verses to mind:

  Matthew 11:28-30

Here it is in The Message (MSG):
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Isn't that really cool?  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I would describe my {rhythms of grace} as fairly forced.

It's hard to accept the "I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you," though.  Right now I can think of a few situations I'm in that I could describe as ill-fitting.  Maybe that's just my interpretation.  And it's difficult to discern who laid them on me.  There are consequences and results of behavior.  Then there are things that happen; things we didn't choose.  I mean, gosh, Jesus is the one who told the disciples to go into all the world........That's heavy.  He had dinner with them one night, died the next day, all the while asking that they be of good cheer.  That's heavy.  So, while Jesus is beautiful and sweet and friendly, it's sometimes hard to imagine how [light] He is.  But maybe I'm living it wrong.  Maybe I make it hard. Maybe I just need to start at the beginning of the passage.

And just keep trying.  I think as a symbolic gesture, I will actually begin making myself carry a smaller bag.  I'm going to go into my closet {my fav hiding spot}, clean out my big bag, ceremoniously throw away the trash and throw up a few prayers, and start Autumn {which begins tomorrow} off without a heavy load.  Sounds easy, right?

I've got a reminder song, though, to keep me in line and help me live in the unforced rhythm of grace.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


My husband recently said I'm in a "museum phase".  What he means by that is I'm currently fascinated with art and museums and art heists and paintings stolen by the Nazis in the 1940s and people who buy pictures at flee markets because they like the frame the picture is in, only to have the picture appraised and find out it's a Renoir.

Can you honestly think of much more exciting than that?  Thinking you've got a frame worth 30 bucks, only to find the painting it's holding is worth thousands?  And I have to say, if I ran into that issue, I absolutely could not sell the painting.  Because I'm in a museum phase.

The truth is I do follow the Guggenheim on twitter as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum.  My daughter spent part of her birthday at the latter this summer.  It's free.  As in no charge.  And they have some pretty decent stuff there.

Cincinnati Art Museum
If I recall correctly, my husband said the "museum phase" comment while I was looking at Architectural Digest magazine.  Which I do like to look at periodically.  Because it's a periodical.  [a bit of library humor there]

Anyway.......I believe working at an art museum would be a lot of fun.  And interesting.  I remember the art history class I took in college.  I actually enjoyed it. I've always wanted to be a good artist.  Like as in able to draw or paint at a whim and it look nice.  And I've always enjoyed making things; crafty things like jewelry and greeting cards and wreaths.

For quite some time, I think I tried to suppress that part of me, at least partially.  I told myself it was much more important to spend my time [doing good] and [helping others] than creating pretty things [or, my interpretation of pretty things].  So, I placed some guilt on my conscious, and maybe even tried to be a version of myself I'm not.  

But lately I've come to realize it's okay to be crafty.  It's okay to create.  It's even okay if the only person who likes what I create is me.  And it's also okay if I'm able to sell some of my creations at The Bazzaar or on Etsy or someplace else.  It doesn't mean I'm into stuff that doesn't matter.

I've liked Psalm 90:17 for some time.  A few years back I framed it along with some local postcards [yes, I was being artsy].  But I came across a different version of the scripture this week:

 May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us: prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.
Prosper our handiwork.  I like that.   It's like a little confirmation from God that what I design.craft.create can be a blessing.

I'm über [can I get away with using that word?] excited that this Friday night is Gallery Hop here in our city.  My husband and I are going. So, I'll be mostly surrounded by folks who are also either in a museum phase, or are permanently immersed in artsi-ness.  [yay!]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


My mother emailed today and told me a movie is being filmed in their Oklahoma town.  It is based on the play, August: Osage County.  I decided to read the play, and have reserved it at the library.

Interestingly, I've recently thought a book based on my great grandmother's life would make for an exciting read.  She was born in 1904 Oklahoma, when it was still Indian Territory. She was married at 16.  She was 1/2 Delaware Indian + 1/2 Caucasian [mainly German].  That's quite a combo.

I entered an essay about her in a contest, Women of Valor.  Unfortunately, Granny and I did not win.  I have decided to post the essay on my blog anyway, calling today [], because, hey, it's my blog.  So, here's to people from the land of   Cowboys and Indians and Oil and Lots of Wind.......

Lena Mae Ketchum Slocter, Woman of Valor

A yearly childhood highlight for my sister and I was our family’s annual trek from our hometown of Yuma, Arizona, to Phoenix each summer.  In early June, our great grandmother would fly from Tulsa to Sky Harbor International Airport where we’d pick her up for a four week visit.  The three hour drive to Phoenix was marked with excitement, as we planned visits to the big city restaurants, maybe a mall, and exploring the vast (to us) Sky Harbor.  In the 1970s, you could wait for your arriving family members at the gate, and we joyfully watched for Granny to walk into the airport.  I can still remember her voice, and the way she said “you-uns” instead of “you guys” or “ya’ll”.  My sister and I loved the month she spent with us, playing Crazy 8s, teaching us to make beaded necklaces, and watching Richard Simmons.

My great grandmother, Lena Mae Ketchum Slocter, was born in 1904.  She lived her entire life in one county in Oklahoma, close to the center of our country.  Her paternal grandfather’s name was Ta We Lah Len and he was a full blooded Delaware Indian.  Her mother, Hattie Pitsenbarger, was a descendant of Abraham Pitsenbarger, a German immigrant who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Her father, John Redman Ketchum, was a full blooded Native American.  All of this is interesting to me, not just because it’s a part of my history, but because Lena Mae’s make-up was fairly diverse, at a time when diversity most likely wasn’t touted like it is today.

Lena Mae married at 16, and became a grandmother at 35.  I was her first great grandchild, born five days after she turned sixty-four.   She was a strong influence in my father’s raising, as his mother was a single mom for ten plus years, at again, a time when single mothering wasn’t the norm.  Lena Mae was widowed when she was sixty-two, and lived nearly thirty years after my great grandfather passed. 

In my mind, female independence is a modern concept, something that came about in the 1960s in a generation of career minded, success focused women.   By the time the 60s rolled in, my great grandmother had already faced so much that required self-reliance or failure.  There wasn’t really a choice for her.  She’d lost a child when he was two years old.  She’d sent a son to war and another overseas to a dangerous career, supported a daughter through a failed marriage, and helped to raise not only her own children, but grandchildren, nephews and nieces and friends’ children.  She opened her home to those who needed shelter.  She befriended other women who needed support.  And she faithfully attended a country church.

Lena Mae influenced me to take up jewelry making, showing me how to bead.  She wholeheartedly supported my piano playing in church, even insisting that I play offertories at her church when our family visited.  She was faithful to write back if I sent her a letter, and for a woman born in Oklahoma before it was granted statehood, traveled around the country fairly uninhibited. 

Lena Mae was a woman of valor.  She never worked a job outside the home, but she trained up many children, enabling them to do so.  My mother inherited a grandma via marriage and my great grandma passed wisdom down to her, not in a begrudging way, but as a supportive, older woman, who wanted our family to succeed.  Thankfully, my mom loved her and gleaned from the support. 

Lena Mae was fun as well as fun loving.  She definitely didn’t become a crotchety old lady.  I wish she could have met my children.  I wish they could have known her.  She would have loved going to their sporting events and music concerts.  I think she’d be proud of where my life has taken me, even if I don’t attend a Baptist church, like the one she faithfully attended year after year after year.

Proverbs 31 states, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed.”  What a beautiful description of my precious great grandmother. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

sardonically [safe]

I prepared a blog post earlier this week and ended up accidentally deleting it.  After much time trying to recover it, I realized it is in a realm of cyber space I cannot enter.  At least without ample assistance. 

I've kept the same title, but revamped what I originally wrote.  It wasn't that great anyway.  And my memory isn't that great either.  So, on I go.........

I'm often glad my son doesn't play football.  Not because I'm against football.  I'm not.  I grew up in the home of a coach and I'm alright with sports. But I've seen kids taken off the field in ambulances.  I've witnessed the heartache when an injury changes one's future:  scholarships gone, money gone, life changed.  On the other side, I realize the advantages to a boy playing.  The work effort instilled.  The camaraderie of being on a team.  And sure, I agree. 

But football is not the path my son has taken.  Sure, he played pee-wee as a child, along with baseball and soccer and basketball.  I have lovely athletic memories as a sideline parent.  Yet he emerged into adolescence as a musician.  And he's about to head to college to prepare to be a professional in the field of music.

Aside from carpal tunnel and the likelihood of arthritis in one's golden years, there isn't a huge physical risk in being a guitarist, percussionist and pianist.  I suppose one could drop an amp on one's foot or experience hearing loss after too many hours playing the snare drum.  But I've yet to hear of a musician being sidelined due to being tackled.

This week a realization hit me, though.  The life of a musician is not a safe path.  Many.many.many artists are plagued by mental issues.  I'm not sure why.  I have my theories and I could research it extensively and sometime I might.  We've all heard the stories.  The ups and downs of the creative mind.  The angst.  The passion.  Often the substance abuse. 

Two things bring this issue to mind this week:
  • It's National Suicide Prevention Week.  I'm overcome by how many people suffer from mental illness.  And I'm overcome by how society judges those who suffer in this way.
  • With a bit of internet research, I've come to understand a guy I attended high school with most likely killed himself.  It happened this summer.  He wasn't someone I was ever close to.  Yet he was a musician, so it hits home.  And once upon a time he sat near me in civics class. 
I've done a lot to protect my son over the years.  The things a mother is supposed to.  Seat belts, doctor check ups, healthy meals.  Yet, I wonder, as he's headed down the road of artistic hopefulness, if I've instilled in him how to care for himself if darkness permeates his mind.  Or if he has doubts beyond reason.  Or if he just can't get out of a slump.  He can cook and does well handling money.  But does he know how to deal with complete aloneness or loneliness or fear?

I've at times been an actress.  Not on a stage but in life.  I've pretended that all was well and acted a role.  Will he learn to do that too?  Does he already?  When he's away at college, how will I know he's really, truly alright?

I've prayed for years for my family's safety. That God would protect us from accidents and diseases and violence at school.  But I've failed to pray for mental stability until very recently.  I've failed to pray protection for the illnesses that plague the mind.  And lately I've come to realize that despite our best intentions and our belief in an all powerful God, these ailments are as real as cancer and heart attacks.  And sometimes people do really odd and peculiar things, not because they want to, but because something is not quite right upstairs. 

Yes, I have a daughter also.  Please know I have concerns about her well being too.  It's just that the news of a once handsome, talented, well dressed and well liked boy who played the drums being gone too soon can set the mom of a handsome, talented, well dressed and well liked boy who plays the drums a bit on edge.  I am not immune. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

the weather

I titled my blog, "Once Upon a Sunny Day".  There's a reason for that, and honestly it doesn't have that much to do with weather.  It's another story.  For another day.  Maybe. 

But today, I want to write about the weather.  The weather can be a royal pain.  Like this crazy hurricane named Isaac.  Isaac has ruined our family's Labor Day weekend camping plans.  And not to be petty, Isaac has done much, much worse to others along the Gulf Shore, flooding homes and bringing destruction.  We'll most likely have a fine weekend.  Many people won't, due to the storm.

I came across this today:

which is kind of like the title of my blog.

The truth is you can't change the weather.  Sure, some of you reading this will think, "Oh, but you can pray, and God has the power to change it."  And I'd reply back, "Sure.  He can change the weather.  But while you're praying the rain stops, a farmer might be praying the rain continues.  Or vise versa."  There is nothing I can do in my own power to change the weather.  Absolutely nothing.  The remains of Hurricane Isaac are coming whether I like it or not.  I can literally see the clouds out the window.

There are times when I know a rainy day is coming.  I can see the clouds, feel the humidity.  It works in the figurative as well.  Sometimes I get down.  Sometimes I don't know why; sometimes I do know why. 

I'm guessing we all have loved ones and friends and co-workers and neighbors and people we come across at Kroger who struggle with feeling down and depressed and anxious and countless other things, not just because [they haven't handed it over, so to speak] but because they're ill.  They simply can't help it.  Just like I can't help the monthly migraine I seem to now get.  I can medicate.  I can up the caffeine intake.  But,, the migraine is still there, ever so present.  I can only hope to mask it; I can dull the pain, but not eliminate the source.

I'm coming to realize more and more some people can't just [suck it up and move on].  I used to be a [get over it, man!] kind of girl.  Now I realize many have burdens to bear that won't be lifted today.  It doesn't mean God can't.  It doesn't mean God won't.  But, like I can't control the weather, I can't control God.  He's not a pill to take when my head hurts.  And that's hard to grasp and hard to understand.  Yet, in a way it's really not.

I'm sad that our camping trip won't happen.  I'm sad that:
check out the link

Especially when the people are people I love and care for.  So, no camping this weekend.  I suppose I'll stay home and make some jewelry and hang up the curtains my mom sewed for me, and read the issue of House Beautiful magazine that I can't remember if I've read before.  Soon the weather will be sunny again.