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


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 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."


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


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'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.