June 2009 archive

summer rain storm

I just wanted to share this photo. Last night we drove home in a monsoon-style rain storm. When we rounded the corner on our street we found a swimming hole right in the middle of the big city. So I did what any country girl would do…get out and take a dip, of course. That’s my little one front and center with the blonde pixie-tail in her hair.

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summer reading

MJFLast week I picked up the book “Always Looking Up” by Michael J. Fox. I read his first memoir “Lucky Man” and loved it and was really looking forward to reading this new book. But, I had committed to reading the Bible this summer. Dang, if Target didn’t have it for 30% off! I can’t resist a savings like that. So I bought it.

I immediately went home and dove into the book, starting in the middle, of course. I turned to the chapter of “Faith”.

“The purpose that you wish to find in life, like a cure you seek, is not going to fall from the sky… It requires the faith to take risks and a rejection of the bonds of fear. I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it’s not just divinely assigned.”

Well said, Michael.

This book is about more than his views on stem cell research, although he covers that thoroughly, it’s about perseverance, hope, life, and change.

Someday diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS, Diabetes, & spinal cord injuries will be a thing of the past. And it will be because everyday people like Michael J. Fox get up and fight for a cure. I pray for that day to come in my lifetime.

a lesson on “mean girls”

“Mean Girls”. I don’t have to tell you who they are or what they do that makes them so mean. You just know them when you see them. The unfortunate thing is the “mean girls” are getting younger and younger by the year. No longer reserved to the high schoolers with MySpace pages and a cell phone with texting options at their fingertips, no, this elite group is recruiting members as young as seven years old. Just imagine the movie “Mean Girls” but with pigtails, riding around on Hannah Montana scooters and packing High School Musical backpacks on their shoulders.

heathersMy daughter, Alex, has had the pleasure of dealing with her first “mean girls”. From here on out I’ll just refer to them as Heathers because they are the original “Mean Girls”. (All you 80s kids out there will appreciate the reference.) My daughter is 7 years old, the two Heathers are 7 and 10 years old and up until yesterday, she considered these girls as her friends.

The Heathers were playing the wonderful game straight out of the Mean Girl’s Handbook called, “Let’s ignore her and pretend we can have more fun playing without her” game. There is only one objective…to make the other girl cry.

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

Now being a victim of Heathers growing up I’ll be the first to admit that my perspective may be slightly tainted. Those days of the “ignore game” are all too familiar and I easily spotted it. My heart broke for my daughter when she walked back across the street with tears in her eyes. She had ran over to ask the girls, who were swinging on the porch swing, if she could play. She tells me they just laughed and ignored her.

Me: “Did you ask them if you could play again? Maybe they didn’t hear you.”

Alex: “I did, and they just ignored me again. They just keep laughing and not letting me on the swing!”

I tell her I will play with her. And to forget about them.

But we can’t “forget about them” because the game isn’t over. You don’t know how to play the rest of the game? Well, let me enlighten you. The Heathers then pretend to be having soooomuch fun playing together without you. They laugh loudly, purposely run in front of you giggling, there is even the huddled whispering within close ear shot of you to plan out their next big fake fun fest. The purpose is to make you feel like you’re nothing; to let you know that they don’t need you to have fun. To an adult who has long left our childhood years behind, this seems like the stupidist game ever. But to a 7 year old girl, it’s mental warfare.

I had two choices. I could go over there and grab those Heathers by the arms and shake some sense into them for treating my baby girl this way. Or, I could take this opportunity to give Alex the confidence and the tools to deal with what will never go away—mean people.

As I tried to get the vision of me shaking those girls senseless out of my head, I figured the second option would be a better choice. With my daughter fast approaching tween years, instilling important life skills and values would benefit her more; not to mention possibly keep me out of jail.

Like I said before, I was a victim of Heathers growing up, so I told her something I wish someone had told me back then.

  • Ask yourself this: “Do you really want friends that treat you like this?” Real friends wouldn’t ignore you when you asked them to play. They would include you in their game.
  • Don’t ever doubt that you are a great girl, who is funny, nice and deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. If these girls don’t want to be your friend then they should say so, not play cruel mind games. Never believe that you have to take the treatment that they are dishing out. That will only make you a doormat.
  • Stand up for yourself! Tell them how they hurt you and that it is unacceptable. Let them know that an apology is in order.
  • If they come knocking later with an apology, accept it as an honest apology. Sometimes friends make bad choices. You are still young and just learning your way in this world. You are still figuring out what kind of person you want to be. Accept that your friend made a mistake. However, make it clear that if it happens again you will not be their friend. And it will be time to “weed your garden”.

The question becomes: When do I as a parent draw the line at trying to protect my daughter and when do I let her work things out for herself? At some point life lessons must be learned on their own, however painful it may be to watch. Friendships don’t last forever. The friendship you have this year may be different next year based on your interests at the time. These girls attend different schools and have other friends outside their common circle. It’s only natural to have different friends for different stages of your life. My job as a parent is to give her the skills to navigate the complicated world of girl-friendships. It’s only going to get more complicated the older she gets. That, I am not looking forward too. I can only hope she found some wisdom in what I told her and that she finds her inner voice. We will see how this all plays out. Most likely by the weekend it will have blown over. It’s the ever-changing world of girls.

in memory of…

I finally finished Tom’s memory page. Glenn’s dad passed away in November 2008 but I have just had the inspiration to finish his page. I think Glenn will like the tribute to his dad.

Tom

We had a mouse funeral last week. One of Alex’s pet mice, Miley, died. Alex was very upset, understandably. We chose to bury her in the back yard in the wild flower patch. We said a few nice words about her friend. I asked her if she wanted me to say a prayer. She said, “No.” But as I was walking away I caught Alex with her hand clasped saying a prayer.

Some people think that kids are too young to experience death or they feel they should “protect” them from it. I feel the opposite.

Death is a part of life.

It doesn’t make death any easier knowing that but it shouldn’t be a frightening unknown thing. We should be able to say “good-bye” and mourn, then rejoice the time we had with our loved one. I was 18 years old before I experienced death. It was my friend Jimmy who committed suicide. I didn’t know how to handle it. It was scary. Mainly because no one talked to me about it. No one told me what to expect when going to visitation. No one told me that I would see Jimmy laying in the casket; that is how I would always picture him.

When Grandpa Tom died I talked to Alex about the funeral. She is 7 years old and I told her what to expect and asked if she wanted to go. There wasn’t a traditional viewing. You could go if you liked but most of us just meet at the grave-site in Ft. Logan Cemetary and had the ceremony in a small gazebo like area next to a lake. They did the folding of the flag and the playing of “Taps” customary of a former serviceman. Then a friend of his sang “Amazing Grace.” It was a touching tribute to a great father and husband.

Alex chose not to go to the service. I personally felt she should have gone. Glenn felt otherwise. But ultimately I let Alex make that decision. I think giving her the facts and the freedom to choose will make it a little less scary when faced with death in the future.

the man does not make the church

There is a saying “the man (pastor) does not make the church”. The pastor is just using God’s church to teach His word until the day comes that God calls the pastor to do work elsewhere.

You know, when a pastor leaves his church there is a sort of mourning that takes place among its parishioners. It’s something like loosing a loved one. (Except without the actual death part.) First, when faced with the news that he is leaving, there is disbelief, shock, even denial. We ask ourselves, “how could he leave when we need him so much?” or, “what will we do without him?” We leave church that day trying to process it all in our head.

As the weeks go by and we sit in church Sunday mornings with the “fill-in” pastors, our shock turns to grief. Not an all-out-crying-in-my-pew-kind-of-grief. But there is grief all the same. Grief that we won’t hear that ‘ol familiar voice on Sunday mornings.

The final sermon comes from that pastor. He has come back one final time to say “good-bye”. You may send him a heart-felt letter of gratitude, thank him in person, or (as our church did) hold a celebratory picnic to bid farewell to your beloved pastor. That is letting go. Letting go so that he may continue God’s work.

Acceptance. The temporary pastor arrives at your church. Accept that he will be your pastor for the next month, two months, or however long it takes to find a permanant pastor.

That day came. Our pastor preached his last sermon last Sunday. He has left for another calling; to minister to other pastors.

I have learned many things from our pastor. Here is my top 5 things I’ve learned  from our Pastor:

  • Laugh at yourself and don’t be afraid to tell a few bad jokes. Which he did every Sunday.
  • No one is perfect.  God accepts you just the way you are.
  • How to apply God’s word in our everyday life.
  • Hold your anger before you destroy relationships with those you love.
  • There is great power in the name Jesus Christ.

Our old pastor announced the name of our temporary pastor this past Sunday.

Bond.

James Bond.

Actually, he goes by “Jim”. Presumably because he got tired of the 007 references. I don’t think that has stopped anyone though.

So, Sunday there will be embrace. Embrace the change and have faith in the Lord’s plan.

faith in creation.

leaf butterlfyThe Leaf Butterfly (also know as the Killima Butterfly) looks like a dead leaf when its wings are closed. The underside of its wings don’t just “resemble” a leaf, or kind-of-look-like-a-leaf; it really does looks like a dead leaf! This butterfly, found in South Asia and East Indies, is so convincing as a dead leaf, right down to the intricate veins in its wings, one wouldn’t even give it a second look if you walked by it hanging on a tree limb. And when the wind blows and the leaves on the tree rustle, so does the butterfly that has landed there. Now, I know this dead leaf act is partly due to the defense mechanism of the butterfly to protect itself from predators; however, it doesn’t always look like a dead leaf. The Leaf Butterfly also shows off its glorious colors of blue with orange in the dry season and violet with orange in the wet season.

Recently, during conversation among friends, the topic of creation vs evolution came up. It’s important to define what we are referring to when we say “creation” vs “evolution”. In regards to “evolution” we are talking about the theory that life arose from primitive organisms over thousands upon millions of years into the life forms we know today vs “creation” being “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Here is a butterfly that is so complex in design; how could it have evolved from primitive organisms? From what did it evolve and for what purpose?  It is more liking it adapted into this dead leaf disguise to suit its environment. I look around me and I see the complex working of living things on this earth and I just cannot wrap my brain around the theory of evolution. Here is where faith comes into play. Aren’t both basically based on faith?

Faith.

Faith in what you are reading in science books as truth. Having faith in the scientist who report their theory of evolution as fact. Versus faith in a higher power that created all the animals, plants and humans on this planet. Looking at this butterfly and its glorious design, there is no doubt in my mind that all of us were created.

The word Kallima derives from the Greek word meaning beautiful. And there is a lot of beautiful in the world God created…

Leaf Butterfly-color

summer reading list.

IMG_2183Today I took the girls to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. With the suggested summer reading list for 2nd graders in hand, we searched for 1 book off that list. The deal I made with Alex was she could pick as many books as she wanted but at least one has to be a Reader on her level to keep her reading up to par through the summer break. She chose 7 books! The only book on my summer reading list is the Bible. Okay, I actually started it in February but, it’s a long book, ya know. So, how far have I gotten, you ask? Well, I am skipping around; reading what may be speaking to me at the time.

I read Matthew, Mark and Luke in honor of Easter. Luke really spoke to me. Ecclesiastes is another favorite.

“We all come to the end of our lives naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.” Ecclesiastes 5:15 NLT

Ain’t that the truth.

So far, I have read 7 books of the Bible and even bought a study guide called “Contagious Joy” (Women of Faith Series). I am down-right inspired!

What have I learned thus far…We are not perfect. We will never live up to God’s standard. God delivers, if only you ask. Anyone can be in God’s grace, again, you must ask. I will never fully understand God’s plan. I can only trust that He does have a plan. Be in the Word, it will give you wisdom.

“The words of the wise are like cattle prods–painful but helpful.” Ecclesiastes 12:11NLT

a little trust to grow on.

I did something crazy last night. I left my 7 year old daughter home alone–on purpose. Before you call social services, let me explain. She was playing in the front yard with an older friend. I needed to walk the dog. She didn’t want to go. So, my husband, Parker, the dog and I headed out for a walk without her. Yep, we left her and her friend in the front yard…alone! Of course, I explained that she was to stay in the front yard or the house, period. We were gone 15, maybe 20 minutes, tops.

I put a little trust in her and gave her an opportunity to have a little independence. Some might say (like my “helicopter mom” friend across the street) that I was crazy to do so. After all, the world is a scary place and “bad, bad things” could happen at any given moment. There is a lot of danger out there…lead is poisoning our children’s toys, toxic plastic baby bottles are making our babies sick and a child predator is lurking at every corner just waiting for me to let my guard down. Or could it be that the media leads us to believe that there is danger everywhere we turn? I can let my child ride her bike to the park, only if I send a security detail along with her. I’d be a bad mother if I didn’t, right?  Or maybe it is because I grew up in the country, a far cry from the “evil” big city. I spent my summer days running through the woods, playing in the creek and climbing trees; (dare I say it) all without adult supervision.

Is it really that much more dangerous today than when I grew up? Statistics show that is not the case. In fact, there is evidence that says our kids are safer today than kids growing up in the 70s and 80s. You wouldn’t know it by watching the nightly news.

We came back from our walk to find our daughter safety sitting on the front porch swing. She was more un-nerved by her first taste of freedom than we were. She had to give us the run-down of what exactly she did in those 15 minutes. Not that I will be leaving her alone while I run to the store or anything like that but I think I like living in reality rather than living in fear. And sometimes a little trust goes a long way so that we can both grow up.

finding joy in simple things.

There is a pile of laundry to be folded, hung and put away with three more loads to be washed; the toilet hasn’t seen a cleaning wand in three weeks; and I just stepped in something sticky on the kitchen floor. “Mommy, the ice cream truck! I hear the ice cream truck! Can we pleeeeaaase get some ice cream?” My seven year old daughter comes bouncing in the door from outside. I have my leg hiked up in the kitchen sink attempting to wash that mystery sticky stuff from between my toes. “What? No! Can’t you see I am busy?” I shout. “You promised that next time we hear the ice cream truck we can get ice cream!” She stomps off down the porch stairs. You got me there, kid. I did promise.

Some days I feel as though everything around me has been heaped on my shoulders and I may be crushed from it all. I can see the headline now: “Woman crushed to death by a load of dirty laundry all because she couldn’t she the joy right in front of her eyes. (She also had a strange sticky material stuck to her foot.)” It happens to the best of us mothers. We forget to stop and take joy in our own lives.

I got my leg out of the sink and dug a few dollars worth of change from the change jar and was able to catch the ice cream truck just before it rounded the block. Watching my two girls taking simple pleasure in that ice cream was a joyous moment for me. That’s the thing about kids, they have no problem whatsoever stopping what they were doing and enjoying the moment. They live in that moment. Nothing else matters when they are in the moment. That’s the problem with adults, we grow up and forget how to stop and live in the moment. Joy is where you find it. It may not be a huge monumental event with balloons and streamers; it may just be something as simple as ice cream.

 Joy is ours if we just open our eyes to it.