Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How they've changed.....

I came across some pictures of the kids on their first days of school while looking for a different picture for Summer's school project. It is amazing how much they've grown!!!

Summer through the years....

Summer's first day of 1st grade, 2004
6 years old

2nd grade, 2005
7 years old

3rd grade, 2006
8 years old

Lucas through the years....

Lucas' first day of preschool (1st year), 2004
3 years old
(Oh my gosh, he's just a baby!)

2nd year preschool, 2005
4 years old

Kindergarten! 2006
5 years old

"Welcome, welcome"

I can still hear Albert's great voice booming in my head, almost as if he was right here saying it to me now, "welcome, welcome". It's what he used to say to each of us as we walked down the path to church. He was the first one anyone saw coming into that great big yellow church, and he made sure that he made contact with everyone.

Albert passed away two nights ago in a motorcycle accident. Church will never be the same again.

Albert had a special place in his heart for young children, and mine were no exception. When we came to the Sunday service, he would make sure we left with the leftovers from that morning's breakfast. I think he worried about us since I was a single mother with two kids. And he made sure we were taken care of. He saw Lucas and the troubles he was going through in losing his dad in his life, and had several kind words of advice or scripture to share with me. He always pressed a piece of candy into each of my kids' hands. And he taught my kids the fine art of "the handshake". Occasionally, I'd lean in for a hug instead, and catch a whiff of the leather jacket he always wore.

Albert was suffering from his divorce and the sudden change in his life. But it never stopped him from greeting people with a smile in his voice. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, and the only reason I can think that God brought him home was because he served his purpose here on earth. At least, that't the way we're supposed to understand it. But it still stings to know that every time I walk down that path to church, there will not be this gruff man with a booming voice saying, "welcome, welcome". It hurts to think of the generations that were suddenly seperated from him: his three daughters and one son and their families, his multitude of grandkids, our church family that considered him our brother.

God bless you, Albert, for you blessed each and every one of us with your presence and your love for humanity and the Lord. We will meet again.

Monday, August 28, 2006


One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only the tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and tiny green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.

Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy.

Tangerine meditation
-- Thich Nhat Hanh (From Peace is every step)

What would happen if we slooooowed down? What if we saw this world, and every component of it, as the miracle it all is? After reading this, I couldn't help but revel in the simplistic beauty of the story.

And I dissected it a bit more.

Thich Nat Hanh is a very wise and spiritual man. And he is known for sharing his wisdom with the world. And his wisdom is praised worldwide, in all different religions groups (yes, even Christianity). He is an important man, and I'm sure he is surrounded by other very important people. And in this lesson of wisdom, who are his pupils?


I found it commendable that Thich Nat Hanh was sitting there with a bunch of children, teaching them something so profound as the miracle of a tangerine. But it goes even deeper than that. Those children represent some of the best pupils in the world, as only a child could truly comprehend the wonderment in that tangerine, understanding the miracle. For only children naturally study all things, slowing down to see the bug make it's way through the lawn, what happens when you throw a paper boat in a stream, how detailed an ant really is. I imagine those children understanding Thich Nat Hanh much better than any adult would in that same conversation, for they "play" that game every day. The world is new and exciting and full of life. And they see it for such, a place to explore and learn about.

How wonderful would it be if we could look at this world like a child, to see the miracle of it, I mean TRULY see it? There is so much we take for granted. There is so much that we hold in place to keep us separate from the world. The thing is, we are all connected.

Take a breath. Now exhale. That breath you just took? It's now traveling into the atmosphere. It is going into other people around you as they inhale. And then they are breathing it out. And so on. That single breath of yours is being broken into a million pieces, mixing up with other people's breath, and going in and out of all humans.

We are all connected.

Smile at someone. What does their face do? They can't help but smile back. And even if they don't, the connection is still there. They see you, they think about you. They are connected to you in that moment.

Run some water in the sink. Put your hand in it. Water does not create itself, it has been around for millions of years, since the beginning of this world. The water you are touching has been touched by someone else, has run through the fingers of another in another time. By famous, or not famous. By ordinary and extraordinary. By holy and evil. By our forefathers and our distant ancestors.

We are all connected.

And then there's the miracle of life. Thich Nat Hanh is quoted as saying, "People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes.

All is a miracle."

Take the tangerine. It was once a seed, taken from a mature tangerine. It was planted in the ground, watered, and cared for. And somewhere in that small seed, God put the ability to change, to grow and become something. And it did. It became a tree. And of that tree, God put the ability to change and grow more, to bear flowers and fruit. All from that tiny seed. And when we open that fruit, it would be mindful of us to see what makes up that fruit. The grocer who placed it on the shelf. The truck driver who shipped it to our area. The farmer who cared for it and aided its growth. The tree that held it as it grew. The flower it was before it changed. The bee that gathered the pollen. The sun, the rain, the air... The seed. And when we open it, we have the opportunity to become mindful of even more as the whole tangerine becomes apparent.

But we tend to just eat it. We may notice the fragrance, the spray of mist as we open it, the taste on our tongue. But then we eat it and forget about it. We miss the miracle in the fruit.

When I hear the word "miracle", so many things come to mind. Turning water into wine. Parting the red sea. Things so huge and so wondrous that they are hard to comprehend. And I go about looking for miracles. "God, if this is the way I'm supposed to go, show me a sign." "God, if you could just change this, take it away, save me!" "If you're really there, prove it."

And all the while, the miracles are right there in front of me. All I'm asking for, and they are there. And they aren't there just for me, or to prove God's existence or his care, or to give glory to God for his creation of a life giving planet. It's all here for US. For all mankind. To use. To care for. To notice the miracle of. To see the fruit for the seed. And whether we praised God or not, whether we noticed the miracle or not, it would still be there just the same. Life. Growth. Suffering.

Our connection.

I am connected to you in this moment. As you read the words on this page, we share a connection. And that, that is a miracle.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Lucas is a big kindergartener!


Yesterday was the first day of school. And my son, Lucas, has been counting down the days until his first day of kindergarten. This is a huge step away from preschool, as most parents know who have 5 year olds. Preschool is a time of innocence and fun, when most of the day is spent in constructive play, but play nonetheless. Kindergarten, there is more structure.

I picked up Lucas yesterday after his first day. He saw me, and asked if he was riding the bus home. I told him no, as the kindergarteners do not get bus rides home. He immediately started to cry. And he found several more things to cry about. We got to the car, buckled up, and he hurt his finger and started to cry. I pulled over, as we were already moving, and opened his door. And I just gave him a huge hug and told him that everything was going to be ok. He was overwhelmed. He ended up falling asleep on the way home.

This morning, he woke up with a smile. "Today's the second day of kindergarten, Mom!" We got dressed, ate breakfast, packed lunches, and went to the bus stop. I met him at school again, as the teacher wants parents to help the kids the first week so they can get settled into a routine. Summer walked him to class, as will be this year's routine, and then went off to her class. Once again, Lucas was a basket-case. He wanted to play, but we had the usual morning routine to get through. After we got the routine done, the second bell rang, and Lucas did not have time to play. He wanted to continue to color when it was time to sit down. He wanted a drink of water. He wanted to play with the Legos. He did not want to cleanup and sit on the floor mat. He cried like his heart was broken. I held him, told him it was going to be ok. I commiserated that it must be hard, with so much responsibility as a big kindergartener. I finally got firm with him and told him that he had to put everything away and sit on the rug, for he needed to follow the school rules. He couldn't find a place on the rug, and was a little frantic, before finally settling in. When I waved goodbye, he hid his head so he couldn't see me.

I felt rotten.

I walked away from his class with dread in my step and my eyes misting up. Here he is, in a class full of strangers and a strange new routine. Yesterday had been so confusing to him: he didn't remember where his cubby was, he accidentally ate his lunch at snack time..... I'm sure that he felt a little lost today. And I felt lost having him in new surroundings, and I felt like I was abandoning him, even if kindergarten is a necessary stage in life. I wanted to protect my baby.

I got almost all the way to my car when I realized that I had forgotten my keys in the classroom. Shoot, he's going to see me walk in there, and start crying all over again. I trekked back over there and quietly opened the door. He saw me, but his focus was on the teacher and what she was doing. She was telling the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly. And he was actively participating by answering questions enthusiastically. I got my keys and headed for the door, spying on him the whole way. When I left, he hardly even noticed my presence. Not out of anger, but out of being too busy with his class.

It was exactly what I needed to be able to leave him with a lighter heart.

I really do believe that certain things happen on purpose, and for a reason, even small ones like forgetting keys. I always put my keys in my pocket. I had plenty of pockets to choose from, and my purse too. Instead, I laid them on the counter and left them. If I hadn't left them, I would have been sorrowful all day because of how I had originally left Lucas. I would have assumed that he would have been miserable all day.

I am still a little misty over Lucas being in such a new place. New places are no fun without someone familiar to hold our hand and let us know that at least one person is on our side. I know that he will probably be a little overwhelmed again today, but the routine will sink into place. I will be helping him every morning this week, beating the bus there and helping him to remember where to put his jacket and backpack, to put his lunch and snack in his cubby, and all the other things that he must do on his own in the morning. But this growth is good for the two of us. And it's survivable.

Monday, August 21, 2006



It's the crispness of a just ironed shirt
     and the smell of the starch that protects it.

It's the sound of wood chimes in the breeze.

It's the color of everything pure.
Everything new.
Everything exposed.

It's you
  protecting me
     while I
        protect myself.

It's this flimsy attempt to
     expose my shame.

It's the disappointment of failure
     and the failure of feeling cherished.
It's me failing you.

It's the transparancy of a heart....


          ....and emptied.

It is everything
     and it is nothing.

It is scary.

It is my shaking hands
     my trembling legs
          my leaden feet.

It is the life which lays on my sleeve,
     and the guilt that seems to lay with it.

It's the color of my face without...
     ...and the fear of everything with.


It's the promise of tomorrow.
     It's the threat of today.
          It's the escape from yesterday.

It's everything pure.
And everything tarnished.

It's the hurt.
     Hurt I caused.
          Hurt you feel.
Hurt undeserved
     by someone so good.

It's the silence and how
     excrutiatingly loud
          it is.

It's selfless.
It's harsh.
It's empty and loaded.

It's you.
          And it's me.

It's the drama you might conclude from this,
and the harshness with which you might judge me.

It's the knowledge that you will read this
And the fact that you know why it's white
     and nobody else does.


It's innocence and innocence lost.

It's the dread
   I feel
     knowing that
            is no more.

And it's the hope
that the white
     that has been tarnished by white
will still shine as bright
as you were once sure it could.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good News, Cont.

If someone is saved, they have suddenly entered a new life with Jesus, and they now use this newfound understanding to tell their neighbor they are going to hell if they too don't come to the same understanding, is that good news?

If someone is saved, and they feel the love of God fill them with every breath, and they use that love to tell a sinner that God HATES their life, is that good news?

If at every turn, the world is seeing Christians as people with fingers pointed, and with condemnation in every message, and in turn the world HATES God for what they are perceiving, is that good news?

Is is good news when more people are rejecting God than accepting Him, and it is because of Christian extremists who are doing anything BUT showing the love and compassion of Jesus through their HATE?

"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, `Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, `I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.'" Matthew 7:21-23

Is it good news if it imprisons rather than saves?


The Good News cannot be force fed. If it is force fed, the receiver will end up despising it. My way of offering the good news is not through strong words, fire and brimstone, condemnation, pointing out the wrong in beliefs, insistence on changing ways, finding sin in every action of this world. My way of offering the good news is by making sure that my faith is strong, my ways filled with love and gentleness, my light shining bright. I have gotten into more talks about faith, not because I brought it up, but because God was shining through.

I was at odds in my faith for a long time, and certain things did not sit well with me. And it wasn't what was in the bible, it was how the bible was being read. The bible can be perceived many different ways. The bible was written in such a way, with so many metaphors, so that we may study it and apply it to our lives to the best of our understanding. I believe that the bible does not say things plainly. This is so that debate and study are neverending, so that the word is a river rather than a pond. It is easy to find just what you are looking for to make a point. It can be done with good intent, and it can be done as a weapon. And there are many points that have been diluted down and ignored, just like there are many points that have been overemphasized. Is not sin, sin? Dear reader, how many sins have you committed today? Did you kill anyone today? Did you engage in homosexual sex? How about, have you ever cut your hair, tattooed your body, pierced your ears? Have you refrained from cheating on your spouse, but found yourself lusting after another? Have you had any impure thoughts at all? Have you lied? Have you felt hatred towards your boss? Have you judged another, pointed your finger at another and their wrongs like YOU are God in Heaven?

If sin is sin, and Jesus paid the price for those sins so that we may be forgiven and our slates are wiped clean, how about we focus on the love of God? Without a relationship with God, how is forgiveness ever going to be sought? If someone is being told that God HATES the sinner (which is entirely NOT true), why would that person ever come to God on their own? Do we lead people to God through fear, or through love? Would you come running to your own father if you thought he would beat you? Or would it be because you expected to be embraced? Should someone believe in Jesus because they fear hell, or should they come to Jesus because they admire His life and want their life to be like His? Which one do you think God is going to accept? The one who came because they were afraid of what would happen if they didn't, or the one who came because they wanted to?

I have now come to terms with my faith, I am strong in how I believe, and I find that this has brought me closer to God, closer than ever before. I believe everyone's faith is different. Even a Christian can have a completely different walk than the Christian in the seat next to him. Our faith is between us and God. I have belief in Christ. But I see wisdom in every religion. It would be naive to think that Christianity is the only religion that has any bit of wisdom to it. All religions hold a common bond. The underlying message is one of love, of loving God and of loving our neighbor. And even in our religion, we speak of men being gods (Psalm 82:6, Matthew 10:34-38), and of reincarnation (Matthew 17:11-13). And in Matthew 10:34-38, if we are "gods", then doesn't the Father also reside in us and us in Him, and therefore, can't we see the god in everyone? The main point is, religion, all religion, can be linked in some way or another, linking all of us together. And all religion is important for the good of mankind, to keep the world from turning even more on itself. This war of who's right and who's wrong is hurting more than it is helping.

I do not condemn how others perceive their Christianity. I do not condemn the personal relationship between someone and God. That is not for me to get in between. It would be like me entering someone's marriage and telling them HOW to love their spouse. It is not my place. And with all due respect, I do not feel my faith in God is in the danger zone and needs tuning. I am comfortable in my relationship with God, and because of that, I am now eager to keep striving for more in my relationship with God. I am a truth seeker, and my faith is that I am on the right path.

And I also do not claim that sharing of God and Jesus is wrong. There are people out there who are in need of hope, and hope needs to be given to them. It is when some Christian leaders do so with a shove rather than a nudge, that's what I have a problem with. It is when hate and condemnation is the main way of leading people to the Lord. It is when someone does not need, when they make that clear, and they are being told insistently that they DO need. It is when it is not enough to believe, but to believe in the exact same way as another Christian. It is when it is apparent that the only reason we are "loving" is to get someone to God on our terms, and if they don't listen, we throw our hands up and want nothing more to do with them. It is when the need to believe becomes more about man and their ego than it does about God. It's that kind of agenda that promotes distrust, that adds fire to the convictions of those who DON'T believe. I don't think that is the agenda that Jesus had in mind.

I cannot offer a strong fight against those who disagree with me. Faith is a personal thing, and really does not need defending. One who defends their faith to try and get other's to see that they are right, is one who's faith is shaken and needs support that they are "right". My faith is not shaken, and I feel no desire to make others see my way. I couldn't anyways, and I do not pretend to be able to. I share my faith because I am saying something about ME. That is the purpose for this blog. If someone reads this and finds hope in it, I am glad. But I am not sharing my faith with the sole intent to change another's view. In the end, it is only my path that I am responsible for. And that is where my duty lies.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good News

Excerpt from Velvet Elvis,by Rob Bell.

Another truth about the church we're embracing is that the gospel is good news, especially for those who don't believe it.

Imagine an average street in an average city in an average country, if there is such a place. Let's imagine Person X lives in a house on this street. Next door is a Hindu, an on the other side is a Muslim. Across the street is an atheist, next door to them is an agnostic, and next door on the other side, someone from Ohio.

Imagine Person X becomes a Christian. Maybe she read something or had friends who inspired her to learn more, or maybe she had an addiction and through a recovery movement she surrendered her life to God. However it came to be, she became a follower of Jesus. Let's say she starts living out Jesus' teachings, actually taking him seriously that she can become a compelling force for good in the world. She is becoming more generous, more compassionate, more forgiving, more loving. Is she becoming a better or worse neighbor? If we are her neighbors, we're thrilled about her new faith. We find ourselves more and more grateful for a neighbor like this. We wish more people would be like this.

Let's make some observations about this street. The good news of Jesus is good news for Person X. It's good news for Person x's neighbors. It's good news for the whole street. It's good news for people who don't believe in Jesus. We have to be really clear about this. The good news for Person X is good news for the whole street. And if it's good news for the whole street, then it's good news for the world.

If the gospel isn't good news for everybody, then it isn't good news for anybody.

And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the "un" and "non", they work against Jesus' teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody (Jesus is actually giving commentary on Torah in his loving your neighbor command, specifically Leviticus 19). We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, "God shows no favoritism" (James 2:1-13). So we don't either.

Oftentimes the Christian community has sent the message that we love people and build relationships in order to convert them to the Christian faith. So there is an agenda. And when there is an agenda, it isn't really love, is it? It's something else. We have to rediscover love, period. Love that loves because it is what Jesus teaches us to do. We have to surrender our agendas. Because some people aren't going to become Christians like us no matter how hard we push. They just aren't. And at some point we have to commit them to God, trusting that God loves them more than we ever could. I obviously love to talk to people about Jesus and my faith. I'll take every opportunity I can get. But I have learned that when I toss out my agenda and simply love as Jesus teaches me to, I often end up learning more about God than I could have imagined.

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Taking God away from the world

"With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew."
--Bailey Smith, a founder of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, speaking during a Religious Roundtable briefing in Dallas, Texas, on June 26, 1994

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."
--Ann Coulter, Newspaper Column, September 2001.

"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we'll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed."
--Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, speaking of doctors who perform abortions, in an address to the U.S. Taxpayers Alliance, 8/08/95

"I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc. are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status."
--Jerry Falwell, USA Today. Quoted from: The Religious Freedom Coalition.

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers."
--Jerry Falwell

"God Hates Fags!"
--Rev. Fred Phelps

The name of Jesus has been misused enough. I am tired of it. There are people in this country who are being damned to hell by "Christians" for their religions (and judged by how extremists have misused these other religions), for their alternate lifestyles, for anything that is deemed WRONG in "Christian" eyes. As an active follower of Christ (Note: I am no longer comfortable saying Christian, as Christianity has become anything but following the ways of Christ), I wish to speak on behalf of those of us who do NOT hate, and do NOT think everyone who is different than some people's conception of the sinless man is destined for damnation.

It is not Christian to hate people of other faiths, and let no one tell you otherwise. It is not Christian to hate people of other races or nationalities. It is not Christian to hate people for having alternate lifestyles.

Religion has become an evil thing, a way to judge others and not look at self. We are not gods, we have no power to damn. If Jesus were around today, he would NOT be a Christian. Furthermore, God is love. If God is love, shouldn't we be sharing God by loving, rather than evangelizing by pointing out sins and destiny for hell? Can't we take a moment to recognize the similarities between all religions, how culture has molded many of these religions as a way to reach God, so each of us can understand God through a recognizable path? Can't we understand that none of are completely right, and none of us are completely wrong? Can't we understand that by condemning, we are driving people further and further away from God? If we deny someone the chance to know God, we are in fact, damning ourselves.

I am sorry for the hate that the religious group I have identified with most has bestowed on other religions and lifestyles. I am sorry for the condemnation and murders "in the name of God" that has been a part of my religious group's whole history. I am sorry that my religion, like other religions, has claimed to be the only one and true religion, like other people are stupid and naive, and couldn't possibly know anything about God. I believe in Jesus, I want my life to look like his. I believe He sacrificed for the good of MANKIND, and I honor that sacrifice. I breathe in the love that he shared with others, especially the people that had been deemed sinners, and were considered repulsive. Jesus loved on them, he did not damn them. I identify God through Jesus. I also believe there is truth in what others have experienced through their spirituality, even when it differs from my experience.

I believe that extremists have done a wonderful job of turning people against God. God has been misrepresented long enough. God does not hate. No religious group owns the corner market on God, sending everyone else to hell. Those that spew hate at people in hopes of "saving" them, DO NOT KNOW GOD. It is love that saves, it is hate that kills.

"No one has ever seen God; if we love one another,
God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
1 John 4:12, English Standard Version

Saturday, August 12, 2006

High School Reunion

My 10 year high school reunion is tonight. I've dusted off my feather boa, shined up the sequins on my really short dress, and added another two inches to my heels. But then my daughter said I looked like something from a 90's movie based on the 80's, so I settled on a more demure outfit.

Truth is, I am a bit nervous about this reunion. Why? Well, not for any real good reason. But high school brings up a lot of feelings about judgments placed on others, and while I believe I don't care what anyone thinks, I do. And 10 years is just not enough distance to put in between now and then. And also, I am not exactly where I'd like to be (living situation, job, money), though I am much farther than I was had I still continued in my old life. I've been divorced, while many of my peers are just starting their marriages, and families.

But while those feelings are in me, they are not comsuming me. I AM happy with my life as it is, and where I know I'm leading it. I have a great family, two beautiful kids, a wonderful boyfriend who will be at my side. I have a good career and a promising life ahead of me, and I'm much more sure of myself now then I ever was in high school.

In 10 years, I've gone through so many changes and trials. I am hardly the person I was then, yet I am still the person I was then. I expect the same is true for many of my classmates. We'll see how it goes....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Dad

~My Father~

The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

~Yehuda Amichai~


My dad's 60th birthday is in 2 days, and I have been wracking my brain with something to give him to show him just how much he means to me. What do you give the guy who laid his life down for the sake of his family, who has sacrificed all and given all for all of our benefit? I just don't think a Starbucks card says it all.

My dad worked a lot. A lot. And now that it is years later, he tells me how much he regrets that, how much he feels he missed out on in our lives. The thing is, I don't quite remember it that way. First of all, my dad's office was as my grandma's house. So all of us kids would pile into Dad's car and go to Grandma's house with him, and even get to help him paste pictures on his Appraisal reports. When my dad had to travel the county for work, he would take all of us with him. I always loved it, seeing other people's homes that I never would have seen before. My favorite was when he took us to Sonoma. I always looked at it that we got to go to the park and feed the ducks, have a picnic with food from the Sonoma Cheese Factory, and play on the playground. I did not realize that my dad missed us so much that he would drive us to Sonoma where he was working, do his job, then come back to the park to be with us.

On the weekends, my dad took us to the dumps every now and then. I know, the dumps is not exactly the place for fun. But there was something about it. Here's this huge cliff that looks down into a mountain of garbage. It was fascinating! There are seagulls flying all around, garbage everywhere. There's this huge tractor moving things around. I don't remember if it smelled bad, I imagine that it did. It was awesome. It was time with my dad, doing things outside the norm for a daughter.

Then there were the races. My dad took us to Sears Raceway a couple times. We had this van, it was called the "Leisure Van". It was called that because "Leisure Van" was written over a brown stripe on each side. It was pretty retro. I imagine in it's day, it was the next best thing to having an RV. It used to have a sink in it, though I don't remember it ever having running water. And it had plugs in it that we could plug stuff into it, like a radio. It also had a great roof on it with a ladder leading up to it. It was perfect for sitting upon for lounging on (I guess you could say we were "liesuring", to add a Crissi-ism), such as watching races at the racetrack. And if we didn't stand, it barely creaked or dented. My dad would let us all climb on top and watch the races from up there.

There was this one time that our whole family was at my house for some get together. Some of my family live far away, so it was a big deal when all of us could get together. My dad wanted to get a picture of all us cousins. And the sun was fading fast. I wanted to go inside to get a sweater, and my dad wouldn't let me because any minute it would have been too dark to take a good picture. He had all of us stand in a line, from tallest to shortest. And we were instructed to smile. I wouldn't. My dad yelled at me to get a smile on my face or he would give me something to cry about. So I smiled. But right before the picture was taken, I put that frown back on my face to teach him a lesson. Thanks to digital cameras not being invented yet, they didn't discover my frowny face until they had the film developed. Oh man, did I catch hell for that one!

When I got to high school, I was a difficult teenager, to say the least. My dad and I clashed on more than one occasion. Much more than one. But in those years, I also developed an appreciation for coffee. And I began to get up early in the morning to enjoy a good cup with the morning paper. My dad was an early riser, too. This became our time. And some of our best talks came out of this time. It was when we connected in a time when we barely could connect.

Later on, I did the whole move out, move in, move out, move in, etc. game. Each time, my parents welcomed me in. The first time, I came home pregnant. My dad couldn't speak to me for several days. But through time, he let me know how much he loved me, and cared for me. Each time I messed up, his love shone along with his disappointment. I later came to understand that he wasn't so much disappointed in who I was being, but in who I WASN'T being.

There's this scripture (Mt. 14:28-31) that talks about Jesus walking on the water. Peter jumped out of the boat, because he wants to be like Jesus. But his faithlessness causes him to start to sink, and he cries out to Jesus. 'Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"' (Mt. 14:31) Jesus saw his potential. He calls him on his faithlessness, not because Peter failed at the action, but because Peter failed to see his own full potential.

My dad was like this. He knew I was more than how I was living.

This last time I moved back home, I did not ask to come home. I already knew that my dad had done so much for me, because of the mistakes I had brought upon myself. I could not ask him to bail me out one more time. But I was miserable. I was desperately in need. And my dad saw this. And he saw me weakly holding onto my pride. Over coffee one morning, he told me that if I ever needed to come home, to let him know and it would be done. His words were, "Just tell me when the light is green, and we'll go". I called him later that afternoon, and was back home, for good, that same week.

My dad calls me his prodigal daughter (Luke 15:11-32). The story of the prodigal son has become my favorite. I was once lost, and then I was found. And when I came home, rather than hold my sins against me, I was cherished and celebrated. I was loved. During that time, while I mourned my old life and prepared for the new, my dad became my children's surrogate dad. All the things he used to do with me, he now did with my own children. He took them under his wing and loved them as he loved us kids.

My dad has sacrificed for all of us. It means so much to me to know that my dad has dedicated his life so willingly and lovingly for me, for his family, for my family. He has taught me so many life skills in my life, and it has finally sunk in these last two years I have been under his wing. He's always available for a heart to heart. He lives his life according to "what Jesus would do". His life speaks more volume than any church I've ever stepped inside.

So what do you give a man who has given so much? I don't have enough to show my love and appreciation. All I have are my words, given from the heart. So this post is my small way of saying, I love you Dad. You are my example of a true man. It is because of you that I am who I am today.

And alright, I'm throwing in a coffee date, too.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


"How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalm 119:103

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

"Let's go and see everybody," said Pooh. "Because when you've been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody's house, and he says, 'Hallo, Pooh, you're just in time for a little smackerel of something,' and you are, then it's what I call a Friendly Day."
Winnie the Pooh


Honey is sweet. It does not spoil. It is pure, with nothing artificial added to make it so sweet.

Imagine if we allowed ourselves to be honey. How would our actions be, our homes look, how would our souls spread?

How would our words sound?

Speaking of which, there's something about the honey of kind words. They put a wind beneath my feet, allowing me to move a little lighter than usual. A welcoming home has this effect. Being welcomed into one's home with open arms and a wide smile, with kind words and warmness, it allows me a "Friendly Day". When compliments are readily given, when efforts are acknowledged, when smiles are abundant, more of what needs to be accomplished is done.

But what about when those kind words are absent? My feet are filled with lead. My attitude sours. What's the point? If my efforts aren't noticed, why bother? I tend to have a "who gives" attitude when all I hear are negativity when it comes to my efforts and what I may have failed to do, or what I am lacking in, or how I'm not giving enough.

By the way, I live with my mother.

One of my favorite scriptures is: "Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 This is one scripture I must remember in times like these, when words are not honey and my feet turn to lead. I've used this scripture many times in another lifetime, when the only kind words were from God. And it was my strength. But since then, this scripture has been brushed under the bed and forgotten, along with the mess that awaits me. Now it is time for me to pull it out.

But times like these also are my wisdom. With my daughter, do I encourage her through recognition? Am I praising her, or am I giving her more salt then honey? What of others, how do I treat them? Am I opening myself up to create "home" in that moment? Do I give others a "Friendly Day"?

My goals for the future are to have a home that anyone could stop by without notice, and still be embraced. I want a home that invites others in, that allows others to leave with more than they came with. My hope for now is that I am honey to others, that I may add to other people's souls, filling my own even more as I do. My hope is that my words are more honey than salt, and to be aware of what they are in every instance. My plan is to pay attention, and make sure that my children are encouraged more than they are reprimended.

And now? When words of salt are thrown at me, how do I react? Do I give back honey? No. I don't. And I admit that the salt I throw back can be rocks. And my chores? Unfinished.

I think it's time to start processing that honey of mine, with all my heart.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Musca domestica

I know. I'm sorry. I understand that this blog is directed mainly at people of faith, and not those interested in fly porno. But if I have to see it, so do you.

I have come to the conclusion, again, that kids and closed doors do not mix. There is something inside a child's brain that prohibits them from keeping the doors closed. And when you live in a house that is surrounded by pasture and horses, and the doors are repeatedly left wide open, there is bound to be some unwelcome guests moving in and making themselves quite comfortable. Let's just say that even after years of experiencing this, I am still quite offended when I am attempting to enjoy my morning paper and coffee over two flies "getting it on". And apparently they are into voyeurism, because all their friends and family are flying around, and then they, too, take part in their own little acts of copulation. Some of it is quite violent. All of it is quite disgusting.

I'm sorry, I'm just not that into it. It's not me, it's them. Nothing turns me off more than repeatedly waving my arms around to defend myself while little fly orgies take place on the same area that I eat my breakfast and type up my work. I'm starting to think that outside there are less flies. And there just isn't enough rolled up newspaper to take care of them all.

I tried to employ my daughter into going around the house and sending all the flies to Fly Heaven. It worked for maybe 5 minutes. And then she gave up. I don't think she killed a single fly. And then she went outside and invited 3 more flies in.

The scientific name for a fly is musca domestica. If Summer let 3 more flies enter the house, and each are capable of laying 100 eggs at a time (usually flies lay 500 eggs in a lifetime), and the eggs hatch after ONE DAY, allowing little larvae to come crawling out, and after several molts, the larvae transform into a pupae, and when the metamorphosis is complete, the adult fly emerges from the pupae, and the adult fly tends to live about a month to a month and a half, and then it mates with multiple partners, thus creating more and more eggs, how many flies will you have drinking your morning coffee when YOU aren't? Mucho musca domestica. Furthermore, if flies are capable of carrying 100 pathogens, such as typhoid, cholera, salmonella, bacillary dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax ophthalmia, and parasitic worms, and they taste their food by rapidly throwing up and then sucking it back in ON TOP of whatever food they are tasting, how many of these pathogens are you possibly drinking in when you sip off your coffee again? Plentious illness raunchiness.

I really, really, really hate flies.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lazy Sunday

What I'm supposed to be doing....

What I'm really doing....

What I wish I were doing....

Friday, August 04, 2006


Did you know that when a crow sees danger, it will let out three consecutive "caws" to warn other birds? I remembered this little bit of trivia when I was taking a break from work to enjoy the newspaper on my back patio. A crow let out its call, three caws, at a startlingly loud volume. I looked up, trying to see if I could see where it was, and if I could see what it was warning about. I saw neither. But it got me thinking. What if there are things in our lives that are calling out DANGER to us, and we are ignoring the call? And of course, I saw a good blog entry out of it....

Lazy worship. This is my danger call. Do I thank God enough? Do I do enough for His creation, giving back all I've recieved? No. Not even close to my capability. Sure, I have the argument that I am a nice person and all. Being nice is a way to show God. But it's been awhile since I stepped out of my comfort zone. I do not count my blessings nearly enough, and have been known to lately lament over what I need vs. what I have.

Danger. My faith is much more than it's ever been, but it's also the most comfortable it's ever been. That spells danger to me. Reaching God is a never-ending process of reach, and here I am, poised on step #3 of a million step staircase. "I think this is far enough." Never! I'm happy with where this staircase is heading, but there is so much more to learn, to strive for, to gain wisdom that I want to enlighten myself with, and those around me.

Is your faith in danger zone? Are you comfortable in your spirituality? Have you reached as far as you think you can? This is your danger call. Take it and keep moving.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Sometime life is unfair.

Suffering seems to be all around.

I look at this world, and sometimes I wonder what the point of all of it is. Sometimes it's easier to tune out the world's suffering. Sometimes it's easier to focus on what's right in front of us, and forget all the rest of the world. There's war going on all over the world. There's a comic strip in the newspaper that is joking about advertising the wars as WW III. It's point is, isn't that what's going on anyways? The not so funny truth to it is, yes. And it's easy to just say, yeah, a war is going on. It's hard to think of all the suffering that's going on because of it. There are families that are too poor to get out of harm's way, and are probably going to die because of that. There are families that are suddenly being ripped apart by death for the sins of those in charge. It's heartbreaking.

Close to home, there's more war. I went to our county's fair last night. I was dismayed at what I saw, and am willing to skip the fair from here on out. By 5 pm, the fair was crawling with people who were up to no good. My kids and I were standing in line for the Ferris Wheel when two dipshits broke through the line, swinging punches at each other with no regard for those around them. They physically shoved their way through the line, not caring if anyone was hurt in the process. And in the process, they ran over an innocent toddler who was standing in line, and she fell to the ground right in the danger of their fight. I grabbed my two kids close to me as her parents ran to save her. And still these guys continued to fight while their "posse" surrounded them to see the "excitement". The rest of us backed way up to get out of the way, in case anything more stupid were to happen, such as weapons being pulled. I yelled out that their were kids around. I was fuming. How could a human being be so callous as to be unaware of those around him? The funny thing is, I got such a rage in me that I wanted to get in that fight and do some damage to them for putting all of us in danger, and endangering our children. The mama bear came out in me, but I held her back. And afterwards, I was left with this sense of hopelessness of where the world is heading if it is consumed by these gangs and people who idolize them.

Even closer to home....

This morning a mother deer was seen on our street, limping on three legs while she dragged her fourth (front) leg. Her fawn trotted alongside her. The deer had been hit by a car, and was suffering. The saddest part was her fawn, who no doubt would be raising itself in a matter of days. The deer limped her way to the fig tree behind our house to finally rest, her fawn ever at her side. And we stood by helpless. A call to Animal Rescue let us know that the best course was to leave the deer alone, and let nature take its course. Basically that meant that the deer would die, and the fawn, during the last few days, would get a head start on learning how to care for itself. A call to Animal Control brought them out here to put her out of her suffering before that could even take place. And all us bystanders can do is hope that this little deer is an old enough fawn to have already received the skills to care for itself.

And over a deer and its baby, I felt extreme sadness, a sum up of all I've been feeling over the unfairness of life at times.

Unfortunately, such is life. It's not meant to be fair. It's not like that news makes it any better. But it's the truth. But the unfairness of life also gives us strength. With my own personal struggles, I know I have gained strength. That fawn, he will learn how to care for himself, early, yes, but nonetheless, he has no choice. Suffering helps us to cope with life. To make do for ourselves. To right the wrongs that we can, and cope with those that we can't.

I do not have the answers for all suffering. Nobody here on earth does. I do not know the "greater good" for the war, whether gang or world. I am pissed off that this is how people choose to "solve" their problems. I do know that what we witnessed at the fair gave me a great opportunity to talk to the kids about the stupidity of these "men", and how much danger they put others around them in. But I also know that I'd rather have this conversation with them without the visual example.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: "All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen." God knows. It doesn't change the despair I feel over the destruction of this world. But it gives me a glimmer of hope to know that someone is in charge, and knows WHY. It gives me relief that it is not my duty to worry myself senseless about the state of the world, that someone else is handling it. The only thing I can do is worry about me, be Jesus' example, live my life according to how I want to see the world. Share my hope and love. Spread God through my life. Understand that the world is one circle of life, a life-death-life cycle that will continue to the end of days. All I can do is love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind, and love my neighbor as myself. (Luke 10:27) The rest? God's in charge.