Friday, December 30, 2011

Moving Rocks

Weary.  Bone weary.  Even worse, soul weary.

That’s where my prayer journey had taken me.

I was well over a year into my quest to become a prayer warrior and I was being beaten up.  Negative thoughts were battering my mind, convincing me I was unlovable, worthless and foolish.  My mind would be circling the drain before I even realized I was being pummeled.  Though I continued praying, my knees became a scary place.  An emotional place. A battleground. 

I’m not even exaggerating. 

Before I left to spend Christmas in Oregon I asked God to intervene…in a big way.  I knew I could not come home and continue interceding without having a complete meltdown or losing my sanity. 

It was pretty bad.  

It was so like God to meet my needs in an unlikely way.  

My daughter and her husband hosted a party Christmas Eve and I got to chatting with one of their friends.  He had come to Christ at the very beginning of a twelve year prison sentence; he’s been out for less than a year.  He spent those twelve years getting to know Jesus and sharing the gospel with others.  I asked him if we could talk about prayer and began to share what I was going through.  His insight was remarkable, his wisdom life changing. 

I hope it changes your life, too.

First, prayer is hard because it’s beyond our senses.  We typically don’t hear, see, taste, touch or smell anything in response to our prayers.  We are acting on faith that is beyond our senses as well.  Prayer is other-worldly, it’s outside of our realm and in God’s realm.  Realizing that has made a huge difference to me, it frees me from expecting it to be different.

When we pray for someone faithfully, we don’t just sympathize with them; we begin to empathize with them.  We actually begin to feel what they feel…fear, despair, sadness, confusion.  That’s where the emotion comes in.  I want to be empathetic, but I need to be aware and not let the emotion master me, not let it sink me.  It totally can so I need to be careful.

My new friend told me a story about a man who came across a huge boulder in the road.  God instructed him to push the boulder.  The man spent the first day pushing with all his might; at the end of the day his strength was utterly spent.  The next day God again told him to push the boulder and the next and the next.  Finally, in frustration and exhaustion the man yelled out, “God!!  When will I move this boulder?”  God replied, “I didn’t tell you to move it, my son.  I simply told you to push it.”

That’s what intercessory prayer is.  Pushing the boulder.  It’s God’s job to move it, not mine.

Ephesians 3:20 says God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  I believe that for those I pray for, but recently I’ve begun to realize I need to believe that for my heart, that he can do amazing things IN ME.   My friend assured me God will answer that prayer.  I began that night to open up some places in my heart I was holding back.  It hurts.  But I’m ready for healing.

I'm ready to keep pushing.       

And when the time is right, I'll be ready to watch the boulder move.



                 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peeking

I used to have a problem. 

It was an insidious little thing...it only showed up once a year.  It wasn't something diagnosable, no medication would fix it.  I suppose therapy could have helped...but I didn't want to tell anybody the symptoms I suffered.  So I kept my problem a secret and endured in silence, unable to share the pain and guilt that came from my clandestine behavior.

Sigh. 

I was a peekaholic.

I just couldn't stand the suspense of not knowing what I was getting for Christmas.  I'd shake and rattle each box, then, when no one was home, I'd find a sharp knife and carefully slit the tape.  I'd take a look inside and then tape things back up so well nobody ever knew. 

Or so I thought.  One year I figured out a way to open my new Barry Manilow album and keep it accessible; I could slide it out and play it whenever my mother left the house.  My sister and I knew all the songs by Christmas morning.  I remember coming up with some lame excuse why that was...but I'm not a very good liar.  Then or now.  Mom got suspicious.

The following Christmas I found three piles of presents hiding in my mom's closet.  None of them had nametags on them, but it was pretty easy to figure out which stack was mine.  By the time I was done I not only knew what I was getting but I knew what my siblings were getting, too. 

I know.  I was sick.

My mother used to say I was only hurting myself by peeking.  If that was the case, I was very willing to hurt myself.  It was far less painful than living with all of those mysteries under the Christmas tree.

The cure to my peekaholism seems to have been, surprisingly, age.  I remember some pretty significant peeking episodes when I was in my twenties, but things have settled down considerably.  I spent years coming up with splendid surprises for my kids.  That kept me distracted.

Yikes.  What if peekaholism is hereditary and they were faking their surprise all those years?

I suppose that would serve me right.

Now that my kids are grown, I find I'm very willing to relinquish my roll in their lives as the major Christmas surpriser.  I will gladly hand that off to their spouses.

And I'm no longer distracted.

And my friend just brought me a Christmas gift.  It's in my purse.

Wanna know what it is?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chivalry

I spend a lot of time with books.  It's my day job.

A few years ago there was a lot of fuss about a book called Twilight.  It looked teeny-bopperish and dumb.  Vampires?  Please.

I was heading home from someplace far away and realized I didn't have a book.  I caved at the airport bookstore and purchased a copy of Twilight. 

I can hear you scoffing.  But let me tell you something;  I couldn't put the dang thing down.  It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I inhaled it.  The author was no Jane Austin, but there was just something compelling about the story line.  I'll give you a quick synopsis...

Girl meets boy.  They are inexplicably attracted to each other, but he fights it knowing it's not what's best for her. Girl discovers boy is a vampire...a good vampire who only dines on animal blood.  Bad vampire tries to kill girl.  Good vampire risks everything to save her because she is his one true love.

Hey, it worked for me.

Next thing I knew, Twilight became a movie.  I convinced my girlfriend we needed to see it...I pretty much had to drag her there kicking and screaming.  At first the movie seemed dumb and I felt a little sheepish.  But then the story progressed and, well, eventually I leaned over to my friend and asked, "Is it hot in here?" 

By the time it was over, we were both scrunched down in our seats like a couple of junior highers.  We looked at each other and said, "Wow. That was really good!"

No, it wasn't because there were a bunch of inappropriate love scenes.  It was because there wasn't.  

I know there are millions of opinions out there about Twilight, and my intent is not to disrespect those with opposing views about the books or movies.  But I do want to say I get why they are so popular.

I totally get it.

I'm not sure there is a girl out there who hasn't dreamed of finding the one man, the only man who has waited for only her, who will love only her his entire life, who will protect her...and her virtue...with his life.

The chivalry is the main draw, folks.  Duh, it's fiction and it's not real.  But there are a bunch of girls out there who want to believe chivalry isn't dead. 

I'm one of them. 

And if my one true love shows up with ice cold skin and pointy teeth?

I'm thinking that would work for me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Studs

I didn't know much about cold weather when I moved to Alaska thirty years ago.

That's kind of an understatement.

One of my favorite family activities when I was growing up was driving "to the snow". We would leave our warm San Diego neighborhood and drive a couple of hours into the mountains.  When we came across a hill, we'd stop and slide down it.  We only went when it was sunny outside.  I don't remember ever owning any official snow gear; we wore jeans and gloves and tennis shoes.  And when we got cold, we went home.

It doesn't work like that here in Alaska.  You don't play in the snow, and then go home and mow the yard.

I've learned a lot about living in the cold.  In celebration of the -2 degree temp I woke up to this morning, I've decided to share some cold wheather wisdom with you.  If you live in Alaska, you could probably add something to my list.  If you don't, I think you might learn a little something-something.

1.  Cars need to be plugged in when it's cold outside.  Those plug-ins hanging out of our hoods aren't just for looks.  They help our cars start.

2.  The best gloves are the ones you can find.  They don't need to match to keep your hands warm.

3.  If you walk outside and your snot freezes, it's below -10.

4.  Don't spit your gum out and throw it in the front yard.  If you do, it'll be there waiting for you in the spring.

5.  Flip flops really aren't the best choice of foot wear.

6.  It's a good idea to make sure your hair is dry before you go outside.

7.  It's best to unplug your car from the extension cord connected to your house before you drive away.

8.  No need to make room in the freezer for the Thanksgiving turkey.  Just set it on the back porch.

9.  Roads are much safer in -30 than they are in +30.

10.  A stud is not a 2x4 or a hot guy.  It's a little metal thing that sticks out of a snow tire.

I wasn't really prepared for winter this year, it kind of caught me by surprise.  I'm glad it was dark outside when I hiked through two feet of snow in my flannel pajamas and polar fleece robe to retrieve the snow shovel.  I wouldn't want the neighbors to see.

I'm glad it's dark now; I have to go outside in my pajamas to untangle my extension cord and plug my car in.

Obviously there's something I still have yet to learn about the cold.

It's best to prepare for it when it's warm.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scarred For Life

It looked so foreboding.

I stood on the sidewalk and tried to summon my courage. My big brother, several steps ahead, looked back and tried to goad me on.  I wanted to.  I had planned to.  

But I couldn't. I was terrified. 

It was the picture of innocence any other day of the year.  I played with the kids who lived inside almost daily.  Though their mom yelled a lot more than mine did, she was pretty normal.  Good grief, the house across the street was even pink.

How scary can a pink house be?

I timidly followed my brother up the driveway.  I could hear spooky sounds coming from the open door; I knew it was the sound track from Disney's Haunted Mansion, but it didn't matter.  It was the epitome of creepy.

Closer and closer we crept.  It was dark inside the house; I couldn't see anybody.  

Then I heard the clanking.  

She walked down the hallway toward the door.  She wore a loose white robe draped in chains; chains that kept her earth bound, unable to enter into eternal rest.  The nylon stocking over her head was needed to hold her decaying features to her face. She limped toward us, her eyes boring into my brain.

I screamed and ran.  I may have even wet my pants.  

No candy was worth it.  Mrs. Lloyd left me scarred for life.

When I was eleven or twelve, Mrs. Lloyd was asked to put together a haunted room for our elementary school carnival.  We neighbor kids were asked to participate.  One kid guarded the pot full of brains and eyeballs.  Another lifted a big lid from a table, exposing a decapitated head that was still alive.  My job was to sit in a chair with blood dripping all over me and look dead. 

I could hear people whisper as they walked by.  I thought I was pretty convincing until I heard a boy arguing with his mother.  "She's not dead, Mommy.  It's just pretend."  He got closer and closer...and then...and then...he touched me.

I screamed and ran.  I may have even wet my pants.

I bet he did, too.  

He's probably scarred for life.




 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Max

I'm kind of sheltered here in River City, Alaska.

I know there are people in our community who deal with difficult physical and mental challenges.  I also know there are those who struggle with substance abuse, addiction and homelessness.

But I don't see them very often.  Honestly, here in my little town, I'm not really sure where to find them.

It doesn't feel good to admit that.  I should know.

That changes whenever I visit The Big City.  It's a really big city, especially for a country girl.

I like the public transportation there, it's a tram called The Max.  It's affordable, user friendly and convenient.  It's great.  And it opens my eyes.

One night I was on The Max with a man whose body twitched uncontrollably.  He spent the entire ride talking to a passenger who wasn't there.

A lot of twitchy people ride The Max.

I once saw a little woman board with an impressive collection of plastic grocery bags tied to her walker.  She was wearing open shoes and had horribly deformed feet.

I've had strong, healthy men ask me if I can spare a dollar.  I've ridden near a group of ridiculous teenagers speaking an unintelligable gang language I could not understand. I saw one guy get arrested the minute he stepped off the tram.

Though some of these things have made me uncomfortable, the folks I find the scariest on The Max are those who never look around, never smile and never speak.  That's, like, everybody.  Even when scrunched together shoulder to shoulder, the overwhelming majority of riders never look up, never say anything...they never really acknowledge there's anybody else on the tram.

I always find myself wondering about these people.  Where have they come from, where are they going?  Do they have somebody waiting for them to get home?

Do they know Jesus?

Am I one of them?

Jesus was drawn to illness and instability.  He healed those with deformities, disease and demons.  He never turned them away.

And he had strong words for those who lacked compassion and understanding; who ignored the downtrodden.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start conversing with drug addicts and gang bangers the next time I ride The Max.  But what if I bury my head and choose not to interact with somebody who needs an encouraging word?  Is there anything wrong with making eye contact and sharing a smile?

Why am I asking these questions?

I should know.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cussing

I remember the days when my kids were little.  The "b" word was butt, the "s" word was shut up and the "f" word was fart.

Man, I miss those days.

Cussing.  I really, really hate it.  Always have.  I think it's irreverent, degrading and cheap.  I think it makes a man look weak and a woman look trashy.

Aren't you glad you asked me how I really feel?

There was a group of kids that hung around the entrance to our Safeway store.  They dressed in black, smoked cigarettes and cussed.   They were scary and everybody I knew hated walking through them just to buy groceries.  Lots of folks would go to a different store to avoid them, including my 17 year old daughter.  I didn't blame them, but it sure was inconvenient. 

I had complained several times to the management, but they said the cops were tired of coming around and unless this group of kids did more than loiter, they wouldn't come back.  I guess I can understand that from the cops' perspective.  It just seemed like the store should do something since it was their property and their business.  Ever heard of private security, Safeway?

Lame. 

Anyway...I'm not sure what the catalyst was, but one night I had just had enough.

I was braver back then.

I stormed into the group of kids and told them I did not appreciate their language.  There were little kids and older people within earshot of their filth every day.  Besides, a lot of other people - including me - just didn't like it.  I told them I suspected their mothers probably taught them better and they should be ashamed of themselves.

So there. 

I went into the store and immediately started shaking.  Was I nuts??  A sane person would have told them off right before she got into her car and drove away, not before she intended to shop for 45 minutes.  That gave them all kinds of time to plan my demise.

I exited the store with trepidation.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I hoped if they planned to kill me it would be quick.  I didn't want to feel any pain.  And I was glad I had recently purchased life insurance.

Sure enough, three kids broke off from the pack and followed me to my car.  "Ma'am?"  the ringleader said. 

I hate it when people call me ma'am.  But considering the words I had heard out of the mouths of these kids, ma'am seemed like a step in the right direction.

I turned around and faced them.  "Yes?"

"We would like to apologize.  You're right; our mothers did teach us better than this...at least mine did.   I'm really sorry."

We stood there for 30 minutes and had a nice chat.  I was able to to admire their tatoos and piercings up close.  And I'm pretty sure my ice cream melted.

So, if that was your kid, thank you for teaching him better.

You may be surprised, but he really was listening.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In The Dark

Let’s face it; being from Alaska is a novelty.  I doubt whether people from Nevada or Kansas or even Maine get asked some of the ridiculous questions we Alaskans do when we travel. 

Alaska, huh?  Do you live in an igloo?”

“You’re from Alaska?  Do you eat whale blubber?”

Alaska?  Wow!  Do they have roads up there?”

I mean, seriously. 

As amusing (or insulting) as these questions can be, my least favorite is, “Isn’t it, like, dark 24 hours a day up there in the winter?”

I think that ridiculous question bugs me because it’s kind of true.

There are locations in Alaska where it does stay dark in the winter pretty much all day.  Thankfully, I don’t live there.  In the dead of winter where I live, it gets light about 10 am and dark around 3:30 or 4:00 pm.  I don’t have a window in my office, so if I don’t leave the building for lunch, I don’t see any daylight. 

I always leave the building for lunch.

It’s an interesting thing, learning to deal with so much darkness. The biggest adjustment is realizing the sounds that go bump in the dark night are the same sounds that go bump in the light night.

I’m not afraid of the dark.  But I do like to see what is making scary noises.

I had a girlfriend once who would not come over to my house at night in the winter because I didn’t have blinds on all my windows.  It didn’t matter that my living room was on the second floor on a hill and faced a swamp where nobody would ever go.  She was scared.  And I thought she was silly.

I’m not sure I think that any more.

A couple of years ago somebody knocked on my door at 10:30 pm.  I was just about to head to bed and it really startled me.  I clicked on the front porch light and there stood a strange man.  He was disheveled, unkempt.  Because I’m brilliant, I opened the door.

I know, right?

He told me this story about his sister and how she sent him to borrow some items a man would never ask for.  I told him I couldn't help him, then closed the door and locked it.  He hollered at me for awhile, then left.

By the time I found my neighbor’s phone number he had already been to her door.  We decided to call the police because it was just too weird.  They drove around our neighborhood, but didn’t see him. 

I was surprised my neighbor opened her door to this creepy dude.  What was she thinking?  She had little kids..and besides, she's smarter than me. Then I found out she answered her door brandishing a gun. 

What a woman. 

Now when I hear bumps in the night, I just click a button on my phone.

I have her on speed dial.




Friday, October 7, 2011

Disconnected

I had a life altering experience last Friday night.

I lost my phone.

I mean, I really lost my phone.  Like, it was gone.  Nowhere to be found.  

You may wonder how I knew it was nowhere to be found.  Well, I have two cell phones; one is my personal phone and the other is my business phone.  When my brilliant son-in-law suggested getting another line, I ran to AT&T as fast as my Toyota could carry me.  It made sense to have a line dedicated only to business, but, more importantly, I knew I'd have a way to call myself when I couldn't find my phone.

I called myself Friday night and nobody answered.

I remember talking to a friend on my way to the store, so I knew it had to be there.  HAD TO BE.  I called the customer service desk.  They didn't have it, and they were getting ready to close.  No time to send a search party.

That's when I panicked.  

WHAT IF SOMEBODY NEEDED TO GET AHOLD OF ME????

I texted the bad news to both my kids from my business phone.

I immediately received a text back from my daughter.  It said, "Who is this??"  

My son didn't recognize the number either.  

See why my other phone is so important????

The next morning I called the store again.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  I was beginning to feel lost, disconnected, estranged.  The truth is, I know very few of my friend's phone numbers.  My phone, on the other hand, knows all of them.  

It's a sad state of things, but it's the truth.

About noon I decided to go search the store myself.  I had been trying on jackets and sweaters, so I checked every pocket of every jacket and sweater in my size.  No phone.  I called my number thinking maybe I would hear it, but it went directly to voice mail.  Nuts!  The battery was probably dead.

As a last ditch effort, I checked with the customer service desk.  I had little hope; I had already talked to them that morning.

The clerk opened her drawer and there was my phone.  

Somebody had turned if off, so I waited anxiously while it came to life.  Just as I feared, I had missed something important.  Lots of somethings important.  I had twelve missed calls.  TWELVE!!!

Every one of them was from me.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Date

I went on a date a couple of weeks ago.

Oh, stop.  It's rude to look so shocked.

Nope, I'm not telling you who it was with.  That would be too personal, and I try not to share anything personal on this blog.

Right.

So...it's an interesting thing, going on a date with somebody you don't really know.  All day long I kept telling myself it was just dinner, and everybody has to eat. Then I would think about how embarrassed I would be if I got home and found spinach in my teeth, or enchilada sauce on my blouse.

That didn't happen, by the way.

I handled the day pretty well, but when I got off work I had two hours to kill.  I didn't want to sit around making myself nervous, so I started to clean the house.

I had it completely spotless in an hour and a half.

Then I attempted to get cute...but not too cute.  A girl never wants to look like she's trying too hard, but she doesn't want to look frumpy either.

It's kind of complicated.

I left my house...then decided I didn't want to be too early.  But I didn't want to be late either.

I took the back road to the restaurant.  It worked, I got there one minute early.

He was already there, and I was glad.  Being there first would have looked desperate.

Hey, I may be a lot of things, but desperate isn't one of them.

I sat down and we started to chat.  I was the picture of poise, I was a natural.  I could do this thing.

Then out of the blue he asked me the most random question.

"Were you nervous about tonight?" he asked.

"Hmmm...."  I responded.  I was thinking fast. "Not really.  It's just dinner and everybody has to eat, right?  Why do you ask?"

"I had a friend whose neck used to get really red when she was nervous.  And yours is really red right now."

Dang, I forgot about my traitorous neck!

"Yeah, well, okay, I may have been a tad nervous,"  I stammered.  "But just because I've lived here for 30 years and I know somebody will see me and give me a hard time tomorrow."

We had a nice time, we did.  And I may decide to try this date thing again sometime.

And if you see me, be sure to say hello.

I'll be the girl in the scarf.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Four Eyes

When I was a kid, Friday nights were TV nights.  The Brady Bunch came first, followed by the Partridge Family.  My siblings and I had our own designated seating assignments.  I used to lay on the floor about four feet away from the television.

I didn't get glasses until I was 12.  But I suspect I may have needed them before that.

I've always hated wearing glasses.

Within months, I lost my first pair.  I remember trying to convince my mom they had to have fallen out of my pocket and down into the storm drain below our street. That was the only explanation because I had looked EVERYWHERE.  I never did get those glasses back;  she never allowed me to climb down there and look for them. They're probably still there.

High school brought on contact lense angst.

Remember those hard contacts people had back in the day?  I could never wear those.  My best friend could pop hers out, stick it in her mouth to rinse it off, then pop it back in without needing a mirror.

I was so jealous.

When soft contacts became popular, I was first in line.  I had several years of success wearing them.  But for some reason after my son was born, I could no longer wear them.  I have no idea why, but I totally blame him.  Every couple of years I try them again, and every time I end up miserable and am reminded what tremendous sacrifices I've made as a mother.

I guess it was worth it.

You'd think after so many years of wearing glasses, I wouldn't have any problems.  But I do.  The older I get, the harder it is for me to get used to a new pair.  It's torture.

My insurance pays for new glasses every two years, but about a year ago I was having a hard time seeing my computer.  I needed new glasses, and I had to pay for them 100%.  I wear transition lenses, and let me tell you, they ain't cheap.

I liked the ones I bought, but I couldn't get used to them.  No matter how many times I had them adjusted, it felt like they were squeezing my head.  They came with a warranty, so I exchanged them for the lightest pair available.  The lady at the eye doctor said I would have absolutely no problem with these...and I payed an additional $200.  Ouch.

She's right, they are light.

And, after a year of suffering, I'm finally used to them.

But my computer is looking kind of fuzzy...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stress

This has been quite a day.  Actually, the last couple of weeks have pretty much eaten my lunch.

Unfortunately that's not quite true.  I tend to eat more lunch when I'm stressed.  And more breakfast and dinner.  Know what I mean?

This chain of misfortune started with my car.  It had two leaky seals.  I saw the boxes my new seals came in; they were about the size of canning jar lids.  Too bad I couldn't pop my car into a pressure cooker and seal the leaks, it would have been much cheaper.

You know, I always wonder if the guys who work on my car really work on my car.  I had my transmission flushed once; my car looked exactly the same when I picked it up as it did when I dropped it off.  It ran the same too.  How do you men know?  Maybe it's a testosterone thing that this estrogen laden woman will never understand.

And I am okay with that.

Then my hot water heater died.  It was a slow, painful death...I'd known it was coming.  Water kept raining down on the pilot light; I was getting used to lighting it in the morning and waiting for 30 minutes before I took a shower.  Finally, it gave up.  Kaput.

I mourned.

A few days later, The Beast (my quilt machine) refused to go sideways.  Funny thing...I found this random part under the table a few weeks ago; for the life of me I couldn't figure out where it came from.  It seemed to work fine without it...until it didn't.

That part made it go sideways.  Who knew?  Well, the repair man knew, but that's beside the point.

Things come in threes, right?  Wrongo.

Saturday morning I booted up the computer on The Beast and the screen went black.

I've never had a computer crash before.  It's not very fun.

My brilliant (and patient) son-in-law spent two hours on the other side of a webcam trying to get me up and running again.  We thought we had it, but when I heard him say, "Uh oh.  That's not good," I knew it was over.

I ordered a new computer yesterday.

As fun as it would be to feel sorry for myself, I simply can't.  God won't let me.  In retrospect, I can see the places he's stretched my faith, and then provided...stretched my faith, and then provided, sometimes in truly humbling and miraculous ways.

I think I'm getting it.

I suspect he's getting ready to move on, to deal with something else in my character.

I bet it will have something to do with eating my lunch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

About Prayer...the Sequel

Today is a very important anniversary in my life.

One year ago today, I began my prayer journey.

If you've recently joined this wild ride with me, here's my original post about it. http://shelikesskirts.blogspot.com/2011/03/about-prayer.html

I know this may sound terrible, but I'm relieved to have this year over.  I met my goal; I prayed consistently every single day for an entire year.  The pressure is off and now I can relax and let somebody else pray for a change.

Right?

Ah....no.  Wrong.  Very, very wrong.

I had some preconceived ideas about what being a prayer warrior would be like.  They were all way off the mark.  Like, way.

Prayer continues to be hard work for me.  At the beginning, I hoped it would get easier, but it never has.  I've decided that's because prayer isn't about me at all.  It's about God and about others...and for some reason when something isn't all about me, it's harder.  I hope I'm not the only person in the world with this flaw...but there it is.

I can be really selfish.

Prayer is also hard work because it can be very emotional.  As hard as I try, I can rarely keep from getting teary while I pray.  There always seems to be one request every day that just gets to me.  

I've learned to put my eye makeup on each morning after I've finished praying.

I used to think consistent prayer warriors must experience a special connection with God...some ethereal peace that prayer-challenged people like me don't have.  Maybe there are those that do, but I don't.  I am seldom drawn to my knees in the morning because I can hardly wait to talk to God.  I don't often get warm fuzzies from prayer.  Prayer for me is a choice, it is an act of my will that I have to make happen.   I'm accountable to no one...except God.  And as incredulous as it sounds, I can pretty easily tune him out.  The best way for me not to is to make sure I'm reading the Bible every day.

That's something else I've done every day for an entire year.  I've learned prayer and scripture reading go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Like chips and salsa.  Like milk and cookies.

You just can't have one without the other.  Having both every single day has changed my life.

How?  Good question.

First, I think less of myself and more of others.  God has grown a new level of compassion in my heart.

I don't know how to explain it.  I care more.  And I don't have to think about it more, it just happens.  And I really, really like it.

Second, I love God more.  I've asked him to help me fall more in love with Jesus Christ, and he is answering that prayer.  It didn't come over night, he had to root out some wrong thinking in my life first.  But it's happening.  I want more of Jesus, and I'm not just saying that because Jesus is always the right answer.  I really long for deeper knowledge of my Savior.

Lord, give me more of Jesus.

You may want to know if God has answered my prayers.  I can honestly say he absolutely has.

He said yes to some.  My mother's health has improved tremendously. My son got a great job.

He said no to others.  My friend's dear son-in-law died.  An important relationship has not been restored.

To many, many other prayers he has said wait.  And keep praying.

I used to wonder if it was okay to ask God for the same thing over and over again,  but for me, that's what being a prayer warrior is.  And the more I pray, even though it's hard, the more I'm convinced that God really can do more than we can ever ask or imagine.  That faith didn't come naturally from my sad, sinful little heart. It came as a gift from Almighty God.

The one who invites me into his throne room every day.

The one who rewards me with far more than my simple attempt at devotion will ever deserve.

Come on, join me.










Saturday, August 27, 2011

Being Okay

Gate E6 is down two flights of stairs.  It kind of feels like its own little airport.

You can't get away from people at gate E6.  There's no Starbucks to disappear in.  It's just a bunch of chairs and a door that leads outside to the plane.

I sat across from them; a dad and his two kids.  He wore a weight lifting t-shirt and an arrogant expression.

I didn't like him.

His son was probably 12. His father spoke to him like he should know everything about air travel.  The boy looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders...he looked scared.  They were traveling alone to Houston, which, I surmised, was home, and where their mother lived.

The little girl was about eight.  She was crying and clinging to her dad.  Every now and then he would reach down and wipe away the tears that were falling on his arm, like they were a bug.  Occasionally he would pat her awkwardly and tell her she would be okay.

I was tempted to argue with him.

I was in first grade, so I was probably six.  My parents divorced when I was five and my dad had moved to San Francisco.  Compared to my home in L.A., San Francisco was cold.  When my brother and I flew up for a weekend visit, my mom sent me with my bright orange fake fur coat.

Do you ever wonder if you remember actual events, or if what you remember came from looking at pictures?

Besides that coat, what I remember is a horrible, panicky feeling.  My six year old brain was convinced my mom would not be safe without me.  I was terrified that something would happen to her and my baby sister while I was away.

I remember crying.   A lot.  I also remember trying really hard not to cry because I didn't want my dad to feel bad. But I couldn't help it.

I didn't see much of my dad while I was growing up.  We moved to San Diego and he moved to L.A., but we only saw him on an occasional weekend.  He always took us to the zoo and to a Mexican restaurant where he drank margaritas.

Eventually our relationship became a Christmas card and sometimes a birthday card.

He died this year on New Year's day.  Though I had recently tried to be more communicative, I hadn't seen him in years.

Didn't matter.  His death crushed me.

Like God, I hate divorce, but it is prevalent in my extended family. With one exception, everyone in my extended family has been divorced.  I don't know all of the reasons, and I can't judge.  But I had hoped that family legacy would end with me.  It didn't and my kids have had to go through some of the same emotions I did as a child.  At times, that haunts me.

But I know the family legacy will end with my children.  Their marriages are based on a foundation that will never move.

Hallelujah.

Shortly before we boarded our flight, that little girl pushed her way onto her dad's lap.  She gripped his neck and cried buckets.

He was embarrassed, the big jerk.  I had to give up my seat and stand as far away as I could to keep from smacking him.  Or at least giving him a really dirty look.

I know normal people don't get married with the goal of getting divorced.  And I suppose countless parents have patted their children as they cry in airports and told them they will be okay.

But, I have a question.

Compared to what?





Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Airport

Airports are fascinating places; there is so much to entertain.   Truthfully, a traveler might experience sensory overload before ever stepping foot on a plane. 

“Huh?” you ask. 

‘Tis true.

For example….

At this moment, Carrie Underwood is singing about smashing out her boyfriend’s taillights with a Louisville Slugger over the intercom. 

I was just at McDonald’s where I heard several Asian employees speaking an Asian language really, really fast. 

The little Hispanic girl working the counter looked completely lost.

I stood in line behind two twenty-somethings that smelled like they hadn’t had a shower since they were twelve. 

I’ll never understand why people don’t shower before they get on a plane. I mean, seriously.  It’s a given that people will smell you in planes and elevators. 

Somebody should make a public service TV commercial to enlighten the masses.

I’m in the B concourse, never been here before.  I think they collected the oldest seats in the state to furnish this place.  The seat next to me has a huge hole in it; it’s swallowed my power cord.  And the seat I’m in?  I’m feeling no padding at all.

Though not fan of these seats, I kind of like the freaky wooden birds scattered about this concourse.  They’re huge and funky. 

And Alaskan.

I’ve saved the best for last.  There is SO much to see. 

I saw a young teenage girl wearing the tightest jeans in the history of the world.  I wondered how her mother ever let her out of the house, and then I saw her mother.  Now I understand.

I saw a nice looking young man in shorts, a nice jacket, a visor and nice sandals.  He was somewhat unremarkable until I noticed the bright purple nail polish he’s wearing on his toes.

I’ve seen Amish folks, Muslim folks, and Russian folks.  I’m sitting across from a woman with very long, very grey braids, and a woman with pink and purple hair.

There are lots of average folks too.

One lady I saw was really interesting.  She looked like she got up early to clean, worked all day and then drove to Anchorage. She had her friend cut and color her hair (she's trying to hide the grey from her kids), had a gluten free energy bar for dinner, then a McDonald’s ice cream cone.  She looks like she really needs a nap.

Wait…I didn’t see her in the terminal. 

I saw her in the mirror.  

She definitely overloaded my senses.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lunch

Last week I had lunch with a couple of my girlfriends.

I do that a lot.  I like my girlfriends and I like lunch, so it's a win/win situation.

Before I grabbed the last chip out of the basket and rushed back to the office, one of my friends asked how she could pray for me.  We had discussed the ins and outs of our lives while we ate, so I listed a couple of things for her to pray for.  Okay, I listed a lot of things.  She looked me in the eye, grinned and said, "Okay.  I'll just ask God to give you everything you want."

Wow.

That made me think.  And I'm still at it.

I wonder what my life would be like if God gave me everything I've ever asked him for.

I wonder who I would be.

Our pastor preached on Psalm 139 last Sunday.  I know that psalm well; I memorized it with my 5th grade Sunday school students many years ago.  I often think about how God knows every single thing about me.  He knows my thoughts, he knows what I'm going to say, he knows why I'm going to say it.  He knows my motivations.  He knows where my heart hurts and why.  He knows my greatest joys and why.

He knows much more about me than I do.

Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't seem to answer some of my prayer requests.  They make sense to me...right now.  I've prayed for things in the past that made sense...back then.  Today I can see why God said no, why he left certain doors shut.

And I'm grateful.  Really, really grateful.

I suspect my friend didn't listen to me.  I suspect she prayed, instead, that God would give me the wisdom to see he knows the difference between what I want and what's best for me.

I'll have to ask her.

Because out of all the things I listed, that's the prayer he answered.





Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chat Room

"skirt-girl has exited the room."

She didn't just exit...she ran.

I'd never been in a chat room before, but about a month ago I found myself in one.  It was an over fifties chat room for Christian singles.  

Man, that sounds desperate.  I'm not, I was just curious.  Seemed like an innocent enough venue.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for...meaningful conversation?  Didn't happen. They were all giggling, using lots of smiley face icons and abbreviations I couldn't figure out. One guy was spouting out cheesy pick-up lines.  I took a deep breath, then made a wise crack about how ridiculous he sounded.  He used the "whisper" feature (I guess that means he was talking only to me) and said that I'm funny.

If he ever whispers to me again, he'll see how funny I can be.  

(I hope that sounded threatening.)

Besides being a little creepy, the experience left me somewhat incredulous.  It felt like I had entered a time warp and ended up back in junior high, except everybody now has grey hair and can spell better.

Complexions are probably much better, too.

I wasn't too crazy about junior high the first time around, I'm not going to volunteer to take a second spin.

I've been reading through Proverbs and I ran across one the other day that says gray hair is the splendor of the old because with it comes experience and wisdom.

Obviously, Solomon never spent time in an over fifties chat room.

And the next time I get curious?  

I'll hang out with Solomon instead.  At least he's wise enough to act his age.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wild Things

One of girls who works in my building found a baby vole on the ground the other day.  It had been abandoned and she was looking for someone to raise it.  She said it was really cute.

In case you're wondering what a baby vole looks like, here's a picture.

Seriously?

There is nothing cute about a baby vole.  There is nothing cute about a baby rodent.  Period.

I don't have a problem with bugs...I can kill a spider with my fist, no problem.  I can deal with birds, and even snakes.  But rodents?

They slay me.

During an especially stressful time at work, a kind friend bought me a little Zen garden to place on my desk.  I liked making designs in the sand with the tiny rake...it worked.  It was relaxing. 

I wonder how much work I got done.

One morning I discovered more than sand in my Zen garden.  There was evidence of a rodent.

I got really stressed really fast.

We couldn't quite figure out where the intruder came from, though we suspected there was a hole in the wall behind a heavy filing cabinet.  We set a few traps in my office, but caught nothing.  We started noticing signs of it in other parts of our building; it seemed to have a nightly route scoped out.  Since it was frequenting the tops of desks, we surmised it must be pretty big.  Like, huge.

Double ugh.

Another coworker and I became obsessed with catching this monster.  First we tried humane traps, but it would eat the cheese or peanut butter and evade capture.  Finally, we set every type of trap we could find all over the office, including a sticky one behind my phone.

There was a long weekend.

I sat down at my desk on Monday morning and reached for my phone.  I'm pretty sure I was through dialing before I noticed the huge dead mouse stuck in the sticky trap behind it.  Even the memory makes me shudder. 

There was significant evidence to suggest it had been there most of the weekend...if you know what I mean.  I ran to the building next door to hide until my coworker arrived.

I wasn't touching that thing.

He finally came to my rescue, and just as I was showing him where the mouse was, it moved.

I screamed like a girl. 

He was very brave and took it outside.  What I didn't know is that he put it right next to my car door and when I left for lunch, it was waiting for me.

You've heard of the fight or flight response, right?  It is possible to do both at one time.

My evil coworker deserved what he got.

I guess it took awhile for the scratches and claw marks to heal.

I hear he likes his new job.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Look



Every girl should feel like a princess on her wedding day.

The dress, the hair, the veil, the flowers. It should all work together to make her feel she is the most beautiful girl in the world.




She always is.






But there's something else, something beyond the physicality of the day that can add to the feeling of immeasurable beauty.









It's the way the groom looks at her.  













I've seen it over and over again; grooms that spend their wedding day emotionally overwhelmed at the reality.








The reality is...they get to spend the rest of their life with this girl.


This girl.  She chose him, and she is more than...more than...

She is more.

And he is simply overcome.              


That look, the one her groom wears?

















             
















It's her true reflection.
And it tells the bride more than a mirror ever could.



.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Marathon

Life is filled with crises of many kinds.

Some happen quickly.  An unexpected death, perhaps.

Some happen over the long haul.  The death of a marriage.  

My family suffered the long haul type of crisis.  It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't easy.  And it was a very long haul.

My kids found themselves with an absent father and a mom who was wounded and scared.  So many things were redefined.

But they were surrounded by many who loved.

It wasn't the type of love that calls, then hangs up and forgets.  It was the type of love that shows up in person, over and over again, and never forgets.

It was marathon love.  And they flourished.

At 14 and 12, the girls are reeling. Their mother abandoned the family and moved in with another man.  My daughter is there; she listens, she comforts, she tells them sin makes people stupid.  She tells them they are important, that she knows they can make godly choices.  

She shows up.  She spends time.  She takes dinner.

He was hired to be the new worship leader and youth pastor.  

My pastor son.

His budget allowed him to buy new Bibles.  He spent three hours pouring over his choices and making his selections.

He sent me a text; he's so excited about the opportunity.  He's so excited about the journey he's begun.

They are the product of marathon love. 

Thank you.  Thank you to those who loved so long and hard.  

Your love has crossed the finish line.  You won.

Your prize?

They are adults.  And they have chosen to join the race.






Monday, July 25, 2011

Patriotism

We had a special speaker at church last Sunday. He is a retired three star army general that served 38 years in the military.  He was involved in every military battle since Vietnam.  His main message was clear: As Christians we have a responsibility to get involved in our government. 

Got it.  And I agree.

During his talk, he said something that really appalled my mom, who was visiting.  He told about students at a rather famous American high school who chose not to show respect and support for their country at an assembly. 

I've really been thinking about that and have decided it is appalling, but not surprising.  And I would like to suggest the students are not the guilty ones here.

Think back to the last presidential election.  What kind of information are we...and our kids...exposed to?  Basically, it's candidate bashing.  Over and over again, on TV, radio and online, one side is claiming the other side is incompetent, dishonest and will do a lousy job if elected. 

Somebody has to lose.  What are we left to believe about the winner?

That tactic trickles down through every type of election held in America. 

Let's take things a step further, shall we?

As adults, when our candidate doesn't win, what do we say to our kids?  What kind of rhetoric do they hear?

A.  "Well, okay, America has spoken.  So-and-so is our new president.  Let's thank God for him and do all we can to support him."

or

B.  "Terrific.  I can't believe America elected such an imbecile.  The election must have been rigged.  This guy will be the beginning of the end of our country.  And those idiots in congress, they'll go along with everything he wants.  Besides, they're all dishonest.  Look at what _____________ (fill in the blank) did, none of them can be trusted.  What is this country coming to?"

You know what?  I'm guilty of some variation of letter B. 

What about you?

Let's not pick on the teenagers of today for our own shortcomings.  They "ape" their parents whether they want to admit it or not.  If we are continually berating our government in front of our kids over everything from taxes to same-sex marriage to abortion to global warming, and that's all they hear, how can we expect them to respect our country?  Why would they feel the need to show patriotism if we haven't taught it to them?  And I don't think putting our hand over our heart when the flag goes by in a parade is enough.  We need to SPEAK it.  Over and over.

Hey, I'm preaching to myself here.  I have decisive opinions about many hot topics and I've made sure my kids know how I feel.  But have I mixed in enough positive information about being an American to insure that they know how fortunate they are to live in this country?

Have I taught them to be thankful?

I hope so.  I hope you have, too. 

And hey, I know we can blame our schools.  Call me naive, but I really do think parents have more say in a child's life than a school does.  At least an involved parent does.

It's a powerful thing for a child to watch a parent respectfully express their convictions to those who run the school.

Watching a parent act like a big jerk is a powerful thing, too.

Let's determine to have a better attitude, a respectful attitude, toward the country we live in and those who govern it. 

We have the freedom to say what we want; we also have the freedom to choose how we say it.

Our kids, even the big ones, are watching.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tourist Season

I live in River City, Alaska.  (For safety purposes my daughter prohibits me from posting the real name of my town.)

On the way to River City you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  Our area is home to crystal clear lakes and rivers, huge snow capped mountains and an abundance of wildlife.  You will definitely see more than one eagle.  You will probably see more than one moose.  You might even see a bear.  And if you're very fortunate, you may catch a monster fish.

You won't even have to exaggerate your fish story.

If you come in July, which is a smart time to come, you will also see a zillion tourists.  They are easy to spot in the grocery store; they are the ones wearing hip waders and brand new camo gear.  Or they're wearing shorts, a polar fleece jacket, and sporting a bad sunburn on their nose.

I get it.  I do.  If I didn't live here I would want to visit. too.  Especially if I could escape scorching temperatures and bask in the beauty of 60 ish degrees.

Yes, in July.  It feels so good.

Truth is, we need the tourists.  Our economy depends on them.  And there is plenty of beauty and fish to go around.

Having said that, there are a few things I would like to tell our seasonal visitors.  If you would pass on my message, I would appreciate it.

I realize you may have to be a jerk driver where you come from, but you don't have to be here.  We're nice.  If we see someone in the ditch during the winter, we stop to make sure they are okay, and if we are able, we'll pull them out and get them on the road again.  If you're patient, we'll let you out of the parking lot.  We will.

Please don't act like we owe you something.  You're visiting for a short time, we live here all year long.  That person you edged out of line at the grocery store is probably trying to get her kid to soccer practice on time, or trying to get home from work so he can mow the lawn before dinner.  Be fair.

Getting a picture of a moose isn't worth your life or mine.  Please don't slam your brakes on in the middle of the highway.  I want to live.

I have some special requests of those who are on a mancation.

You might want to sit down.

Maybe you and your buddies have talked about taking a fishing trip to Alaska your whole lives, and you are finally here.  Good for you. You may have left your families behind, but we haven't.  Our little ones hear the filth you use when talking to each other.  Would you use that kind of language around your eight year old?  No?  Didn't think so.  Don't use it around ours.

And if you're surprised your wife knows about your trip to the local strip club during your fishing vacation,  you'll know I'm the one who told her.  It will mean I've finally figured out a legal way to identify you through your license plate.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Okay, I'm done now.

So...if you are a tourist, or if you know one, welcome to our state.  We hope you enjoy yourself.  I'd like to invite you to church, River City Bible Chapel starts at 9:30.

I sit on the right side of the church.  I'll even save you a seat.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Water Pressure

My house has a long, colorful history.  Someday I'll write all about it, but for now all you need to know is I've always loved it, and it had lots of issues when we bought it 17 years ago.

Like, lots.

When we moved in, the upstairs shower dripped into the kitchen sink.  One of the first things we did was gut the upstairs bathroom.  Unfortunately, the plumbing wasn't redone quite right and the shower has super wimpy water pressure.  When that became apparent to the part of "we" that isn't me, he got frustrated and said to just forget it.

And he did.

My daughter was the only one who used that bathroom for years, I guess the issues were tolerable because she had her own space.  Then last summer I decided using the downstairs bathroom all the time was just ridiculous.  My son had been working for the borough maintenance department for several summers; I decided between the two of us we could get that bathroom up and running.

And we did.

We took out the sink and toilet, put in a new floor, then reinstalled the sink and toilet...adding a new faucet along the way.  With a little help we sheetrocked one wall, then taped, textured and painted everything.  We put a door on the closet and my son hung new trim.  We added a new light fixture.  It looks great.

But the shower is still really wimpy.  You kind of have to run around to get wet.

Several  people have looked at it over the years.  There's tons of water pressure to the sink, but somewhere in the pipe that leads to the shower head is a blockage. And the pipe is in the wall.

An older gentleman from church came to look at it once.  He took the shower handle off, expecting there to be no pressure there.  He was standing in front of it when he signalled one of the kids to turn the water back on; it came out so hard it plastered him to the back of the shower.

I really did try hard not to laugh.  He didn't end up fixing it.

Maybe I should have tried harder.

I hope I don't come across as a whiner, I don't mean to be.  I'm not attempting to hint that I want somebody to come fix it either; though if it does get fixed someday I won't complain.  I kind of figure it's that way for a reason.  The only way to get to the problem is to cut out the wall in the bedroom next to it...and what a mess that will make.

It's a perfect picture of people, you know?  We can look great on the outside, but have a blockage somewhere in our hearts.  It often takes a big mess before the issue is dealt with and things work better.

I know, it's a lot of philosophy derived from a shower. 

But I've got a lot of time to think while I'm waiting to get wet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Mountaintop

I committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was 12 years old.  New neighbors had moved into the house next door; they told me I could have a personal relationship with the God of the universe and I believed them.  I went into my room, got on my knees at the side of my bed, told God I was a sinner who needed forgiveness and asked him to come into my life.

He did.

I grew up on Ann-O-Reno Lane in a little town 30 miles north of San Diego. 

Well, it was a little town back when I was eight. 

There was an Egg-O-Mat down the road; when you dropped your change in the slot a little door would open to reveal a dozen fresh, refrigerated eggs ready to take home.  The Red Bird Tavern was the next right after our street. Besides that, we were surrounded by fields.

Not anymore.  There are freeways and malls and a Walmart.

If you turned left at the top of Ann-O-Reno Lane you would be on Sam-O-Reno Road. And at the end of that short little street was a trail that lead through a field, up to a big rock.  It jutted out over the field and provided a nice view. 

That rock was mine.  It was my mountaintop. 

It was where I went to pour out my heart to God.

I wonder if anybody saw me; if anybody questioned why a 13 or 14 year old girl was riding her ten-speed into a field to sit on a rock.  I wonder if anybody heard me praying out loud...if there was someone, other than God, listening as I voiced the secrets hidden in my mind and heart.  Did someone see tears every now and then?  Did anybody notice the big, green book I carried, a Bible called The Way?

Eventually the field was developed and the rock went away.  Eventually my family moved. 

Eventually, I grew up.

I like to think I returned from those little treks with a look of serenity on my face.  I felt it in my heart. 

Meeting with God does that.

I was surprised to see that look on my face in the mirror the other day.

It's nice to know you don't need a field or a big rock to have a mountaintop experience with God.

It can happen in a living room at sea level.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Missing

There are certain things that chronically disappear around my house.  Sometimes I seriously think they move themselves, because I find them in places I would never put them.

That's really the only option.  I'm the only person who lives here.

It takes two remotes to operate my television; three if I want to watch a movie.  At any given time at least one of them is missing.  Know why?

 Three is a crowd.  I don't think they get along.

My calculator loves to hide.  So do tape and scissors.  No matter where they are, they are never convenient to reach.

It's nothing more than a well executed conspiracy.

But my ultimate nemesis is my set of keys.

It usually takes a while to realize they are missing.  I find myself grabbing the spare set in a hurry, figuring my main set will show up eventually.  If I'm still using the spare set two days later, I know I'm in trouble.

That's when the search begins in earnest.  It's pretty benign at first, you know, just moving papers around and doing a general clean up of stuff.  Sometimes they'll show up under groceries I haven't put away yet or mail that's landed on the table.  Jacket pockets are a great place for keys to hide...and I have lots of jackets.

I should count them some day...you'd be shocked.

After that, it's time to panic.  And there's reason to panic.  It costs major dollars to replace a couple of my keys, and besides, I need to check the mail.

That's when I start looking in stupid places...places they would never be.  Like, in the refrigerator or under the bed.  I might tear the couch apart or start cleaning out cupboards.  Then I start jiggling trash bags.

Have you ever thrown your keys away?  Me neither.

When I realize I've escalated to manic-level, I usually attempt to calm down and refocus.  I remind myself that keys are an inanimate object that cannot cause all of this angst on purpose.  It's at this point I remember to pray.  And then out of the blue I'll remember something or think of a place I've been...

And there are my keys.

Today they were sitting on the bench on my front porch.  You probably think I set them there when I watered the flowers, right?

No way.

They decided to torment me and step outside for a little fresh air.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cool Factor

My son emailed this to me yesterday....



(We have a long history with CSI Miami and Horatio Caine.)

Horatio, if you're reading this, please post a comment.  It would increase my cool factor.  And the next time you talk to my son? 

Let him know I'm glad he follows my blog.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kodiak Girl

My daughter's best childhood friend is getting married today and I've got a house full of company.  My daughter and son-in-law are here;  I'm also keeping a couple of friends of the bride.  Well, not really.  One of the girls is the girlfriend of one of the groomsman.  He's from Massachusetts; that's where they met, but she is from Kodiak, Alaska.

Did you get all that?

The bottom line is she doesn't know anybody but him.  I think it was very brave of her to come.

I was in charge of the rehearsal dinner Thursday night and I cut myself short in the help department. Like, really short. I had one kind friend who pitched in to help with prep, but even two sets of hands isn't quite enough to cook for forty people.  Everybody else involved in the wedding was needed at the rehearsal.  Not sure what I was thinking...

Enter Kodiak Girl.  She saved my bacon.

She took over all room prep.  She ironed all the tablecloths, set the tables, figured out center pieces and made sure everything looked pretty.  She helped plate the salads and serve the food.

When the guests arrived, she sat down and had dinner with her boyfriend.  She hadn't spent any time with him that day and I was glad she was finally with somebody she knew and away from my manic-ness.

Is that a word?

As things started to wind down, I started to clean up.  In came Kodiak Girl; before I could say anything she was elbow deep in dishwater washing pots and pans.

She didn't have to be.  There were others around to help at that point and no time crunch.  But she did it anyway.

I'm not sure there is anything more gratifying to a parent than watching their child behave in the way they always hoped they would.

I need to let Kodiak Girl's mom know how her daughter blessed me.

And that I'm cooking another rehearsal dinner at the end of the month.

And to be expecting adoption papers in the mail.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Inside Out

We all know there are cultural differences between nations.  Many of us realize there are cultural differences between areas in our own country.  For example, my friends from Wisconsin call Pepsi “soda”.  I grew up in California and we always called it “pop”.  My friend from Minnesota calls the evening meal "supper", I call it "dinner."

You say tomato, I say tomahto.  Go ahead, sing along.

My kids now live in Oregon, but they are true born and bred Alaskans.  The reason I know this is because they have both, at different times, expressed amazement at the bathrooms found at roadside rest stops in Oregon

They were impressed enough to call home about them.  

The bathrooms down there have flushing toilets, running water, toilet paper and paper towels.  I know they aren’t making this phenomena up because I had the privilege of experiencing one last summer.

It’s true.  And it's quite a culture shock.

Our roadside bathrooms in Alaska aren’t quite like that.  They are, very simply put, outhouses.  They smell bad.  If you’re lucky, they have toilet paper.  (It’s always a good idea to go in prepared in case they don’t.)  Our outhouses don’t even have lights.  That’s not a problem in the summer, but in the winter you’d better park your car where your headlights can illuminate what you’re doing. 

You definitely don’t want to be stumbling around in there.

There is another option, you know.

One sunny weekend about twenty years ago, my little family had the opportunity to go camping across the bay.  The boat ride over was going to take a while, so I insisted my six year old daughter use the bathroom at the boat dock. 

I figured her little brother would be okay if he had to go.

When we opened the outhouse door, I knew I was in trouble.  It was really, really bad.  My little girl refused to use the “icky potty.”  I honestly couldn’t blame her, but it was our only option.  After much cajoling, pleading, begging and threatening, she finally broke down and went potty. 

I didn’t.  I knew I could hold it.

When we reached our destination a couple of hours later,  she informed me that she had to go potty again.  So, I grabbed a roll of toilet paper and we headed out to find a good spot in the woods. 

She didn’t get it at first.  She kept asking me where the potty was.  When she finally understood what was expected of her, she started crying and wailed, "Mommy!  I want to go back to the icky potty by the boats!”

Know what?  I did too.

Maybe some things defy culture and speak to personal preference. 

I prefer to be inside the outhouse.













Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Programming

Interviewing for jobs is so not fun.  I’ve been the interviewee and the interviewer, and I don’t like either roll. 

I remember my interview for my current position.  I had to prove I could carry fifty pounds of books between two buildings, which I did no problem.  I sailed through the typing test with flying colors.  Then they put me down in front of a computer and asked me to create an Excel spread sheet. 

I warned them that I couldn’t do it, but they wanted me to try. 

I couldn’t do it.

Thankfully I got the job anyway.  Maybe that's because in nine years on the job I’ve never had to create an Excel spread sheet. 

But I’m not going to lie; the first couple of months were hard.  I had to learn to use several computer programs that were new to me.  I’m pretty sure I drove my predecessor nuts with my questions and my confusion.  I’m sure she was grateful when I finally got the hang of things and stopped being so needy.

The funny thing is, I still do most of the things I learned back then every single, dingle day.  Actually, I do WAY more now than I did back then.  And I could probably do it with my eyes closed.

I’m programmed.

I once learned that the brain deletes neurons that are undeveloped or unused.  Like, if you don’t stimulate them by the time you’re eleven, the brain decides they are unneeded baggage and dumps them.  That’s why little kids can learn a foreign language easier and faster than adults.  My kids are great at jigsaw puzzles, but I’m not.  You see, my jigsaw puzzle neurons weren’t stimulated before I was eleven so my brain deleted them.

At least that’s what I’ve always told my kids.

I’m trying to learn a new computer program right now; it runs the beast in my living room.  My mind is having such a hard time remembering which button to push in which sequence, what information to input and what not to….ugh….it’s so frustrating!!  It's driving me absolutey bonkers to be so stinkin' needy.

But I suppose there is hope.  I suspect if I do it long enough the whole thing will become natural.

Right??

In the meantime, if you see any neurons running around with my name on them, would you let me know?

I want them back.