2012…New or Nothing New Year?

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2012? Really? WAIT. I am not ready. I haven’t accomplished what I was supposed to do in 2011…or 2010; or ….get real time….I have not accomplished what I was supposed to do the whole previous decade. At least I am consistent in my lack of consistency.

I recently began sorting through the stuff I have stuffed into the storage room. I came across a box of mementos, including past journals. As I paged through them, I got a wonderful trip down memory lane. Nice trip. However, I came away distressed that my goals are exactly the same as the ones I wrote about in the year 2001. My intelligent mind tells me that this is a PROBLEM.  What the heck?  I obviously must want to make those changes if I write about them every year….you know WEIGHT, ATTITUDE…and all the other stuff that will make my life more pleasant. So what holds me back from following through and making those changes?

So…this year I have a plan. BLAH BLAH BLAH.  As I write about this I feel a little sick to my stomach. What is going to make this year any different?  HMMMMMM? TELL ME PLEASE!

I actually started walking and eating Lo-carb and still am…well kinda sorta. You would think that my kitchen would be filled with healthy items…like Kale. What the Kale?  NOOO. Out of my kitchen I have been producing the following:

Salted caramel, brownies, little miniature bundt cakes, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, rice krispy treats, home-made lollipops, cinnamon rolls, coffee-cake, cake-in-a-cup; berry cobbler…and the latest…butterscotch pie. (First time making butterscotch pie. I used Vanilla Wafers for the crust. It turned out fantastic and had me dreaming of all kinds of pies I can make. NOOOO!)

I am happy to report that these beautiful and wonderful treats were not made for myself. NO REALLY! Although, I do openly confess to having a serious weakness when it comes to salted caramel…it rates up there with some of life’s necessities…i.e. breathing, water, shelter, food, and sex. Yes, I said that.

Colleen & Gary Giordano

A dear friend is fighting for her life. The C-monster has not yet finished its harassing of my heart it appears. Colleen is trying to stay alive and she needed money to pay for cancer treatment that her insurance company would not pay for. Her friends got together and had a fund-raising garage sale to raise the cash. So I decided that I would do bake sale items….lots of them. My sister Teresa came over and we became baking fools. We even got the Cricut machine and glue gun out so that the packaging would be cute. I thought that this would be a good way to get baking out of my system. Truthfully, I thought it had worked. The sweet smell in the house took over and I did not even want to eat any of the goodies we produced. I was quite impressed with my self-control.

BTW…it was Lydia McIlhenney, a beautiful young lady from Camarillo, who decided that this event needed a Bake Sale and she also was a baking fool. She made great banana nut breads and cute bundts filled with raspberry and chocolate. Our bake sale looked great and we actually raised a lot of money. I just did it on Saturday, Lydia continued on Sunday and even baked more goodies Saturday night.  With the bake sale receipts and the garage sale money, Colleen is now getting the treatment she needed. YEAH!!!!  What a great bunch of friends we have. (I did not take photos…bad blogger.)

Ok…that excuses some of the baked goods, but not all. The other items were made for friends, hostess gifts and my share in family dinners. The things I should stay away from are the things I want to make the most. KALE soup…nope…I think ooey-gooey caramel, beautiful pies and …. oh oh oh…I could go on. PAULA DEEN get out of my head…Go Away.

2012. You are here. So am I. What will be, what will be? Stay tuned….goals are intact..oven is now cold…moving on. I am moving on.

Sermon to My Self

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(WARNING….this is a self-indulgent post and you may not want to read it. It will smack of self-awareness, positivity, and mushiness that some will find repulsive. Read at your own risk…you have been warned.)

I must admit that I have had a little difficulty (ok, a lot of difficulty) with the Shiny & Bright lately….as you can see from my last long-ago post. For a long time, I have been playing cheerleader for myself every morning to try to get myself up and going. I try to fix a smile on my face and act half-way decent. I hate to be the “Sad Girl”.  However…I had one of those “light-bulb” moments yesterday that made me open my eyes to some basic facts that I have been ignoring lately.

This is how it happened:

I went to visit Dr. Walter Yury, http://ocpreventativemedicine.com/ in Anaheim, California seeking help in treating my wacky hormonal imbalance. (A large part of my problem.)  Yes, I know…but I truly am a hormonal mess, just ask Randy.  Years ago I was treated quite successfully by Dr. Yury and he maneuvered me into a hormonal balance that was blissful… but then I moved to Ventura…far, far away. I have tried other doctors, without much success. After years of ignoring my symptoms, out of desperation, I have returned to what I know works. Why not before now?  Because I am a dummy. Lifelong self sabotage. Anyway, that is a whole other blog for another day.

What happened to make my brain light up was a comment made by his assistant … she said: “You are always so happy.”  What?  Who?  Me?

Unbeknownst to me, I have been successful at creating a facade. Playing a role and projecting a persona of someone who has it together and is “HAPPY.”  Not to everyone, but people who do not know me well have fallen for this. I have a friend who gets angry when I say this…but I have become the Great Pretender.  So what is the light bulb realization?  This:

Yesterday, I forgot my gloom and doom and the happiness shined through and it was not fake. It was not a facade. I felt it. I am happy. I am a happy person. I have multitudes of reasons to be happy and I am. It is all attitude. It is all focus. It is where and what you shine the light on in your life. We all have reasons to be sad, depressed, anxiety-ridden and full of grief…and I have more than my share of those things in my life. HOWEVER…and it is a BIG however; I have so many more reasons to be happy. It is a choice. It is up to ME what emotion I will choose to let up front and center in my life.

I am not saying that we should stick our heads in the sand and not acknowledge the woes in our life. That is impossible to do. We are living in critical times hard to deal with, as Guillermo Gonzales quotes from the Bible constantly:

(2 Timothy 3:1-7) But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. 6 For from these arise those men who slyly work their way into households and lead as their captives weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, 7 always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.

So yes, life is hard. Face it…sometimes life sucks. It really, really does.  Yet, a whole lot of the time it is really, really good. Daily in fact.

See, I have a great gift, something that is the very core of my life, and something that I have not given due attention to…and that is my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Yes….I go through the motions and I worship as has been ingrained in me to do so for many, many years. I know that I worship in truth…but the truth is that I have not been worshipping in spirit. Especially not with a rejoicing spirit. And…that is what my God wants from me… to worship in spirit and truth.

(John 4:23-24) Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.

Yet, my light bulb moment, and a great conversation with my true blue advisor, Tammy Miller, made me contemplate just what that relationship has entailed over the years…all the prayers that have been uttered, all the questions that have been answered, all the support and the countless blessing from having a personal relationship with Jehovah….and all the HAPPINESS that comes with that. So while I worship in truth … no problem there … I need to work on the spirit part. Just as we hate to see our friends sad and in misery and letting that take over their lives, so too does our Father. It must get old for him too.

It is time to stop wallowing in self-pity, grief, anger and disappointment and start delighting in the fact that this gift I have in my life outweighs any of that other stuff. I have the best friends in the whole world and … throughout the whole world, because of the way that I worship my God. I have a hope that is sure and true.  I believe without any doubts that the promises that have been written in the Bible are solid and reliable and am so comforted knowing that Jehovah is yearning to fulfill them. So the reasons for my grief, my sorrow and my pain….will be corrected. He promised.  And while I will continue to carry those emotions because my heart has been damaged and is full of crackage, I can fill in the cracks with the joys I have in my service to Jehovah, the love of my family and the wonderful and beautiful spiritual family I am so very blessed to be a part of.

I am thankful….truly thankful for the privilege given to us to read the Bible and see how our God cares for us. I will not neglect this gift … and stop letting my Bible reading schedule be so spasmodic. I will address Jehovah with gratitude for a change instead of with inquiry and I will let his words bathe and sooth my soul instead of tormenting it with my own angst.

I will treasure my friendships and I will try to be a source of encouragement instead of the one that needs the comforting. I LOVE my God, my family and my friends…and I am thankful for their patience. THANK YOU. TRULY….THANK YOU.

So let it be declared and let it be true:

I am happy. I will be happy. And I want you to be happy too.

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Hurting Heart

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Today, over four months since my father died, grief raised its ugly hand and slapped me hard in the face…just to let me know that it is not done with me yet and affirming that it is still in control and will visit whenever it darn well wants too.

Today on the way to the Burbank Airport, to drop my Sister off so she could fly away to work, I got an unexpected call from Oregon. I saw the area code on my cell phone and briefly thought it might be my younger sister, which was surprising, since she very rarely, if ever, calls me. It was not my sister. I answered the phone to hear the voice of Carla, the Hospice Nurse, who had tenderly assisted my father in the days preceding his death and came to sit with us after Dad died. She was following up with us and asked how my Mother was doing and I reported my Mom’s move to Ventura and told her that Mom was excited about the move. She then asked in a caring tone how I was and I assured her that I was fine. I lied. After a few more pleasantries, we hung up….and then I lost it.

Grief has been my constant companion since May 17th. I would like to turn my back on grief and walk far away from it. But No…Not one day has passed that I have not felt it’s presence. Some days the happy memories I have of Dad play across my mind like a calming, peaceful breeze, alleviating the grief somewhat. Then there are the days when I wake in the morning and feel like I can’t surface through the pain that claws at my heart. Most often, the grief is like a stone that I carry…aware of the weight, but still able to push it into the background so that I can function and move onward. Then there are days like today…when out of the blue, the grief strikes cruelly hard, making me totter and fall flat on my face. Every crack in my heart has been re-opened and every fiber of my being is keenly aware that my Dad is gone and I am plagued with this horrible condition of the head and heart labelled grief. Today, the pain is intense, yet my screams are silent; after all, I must maintain control…but my throat and head are on fire, and the lump in my throat is threatening my airway.

I could call a friend…or burden my spouse with these feelings; instead, I blog. I give voice to this grief and hope that some of it will seep out through my fingers and go away. Wishful thinking. I seek not sympathy or condolences…I just want these heavy thoughts out of my head and out of my heart…so I type with hard strokes on the keyboard trying to exorcise them from my soul.

Whew…Breathe….Just Breathe.

In sticking to my resolve to be shiny and bright….here it is.

I would like to say that Hospice Nurses are amazing. They truly are. They are a special caliber of people with hearts of gold. The care and empathy they extended to my father and family were beyond my expectations and I am eternally grateful for their assistance. The ladies from Pacific Home Health And Hospice, from Coo’s Bay, Oregon are the best. So while their unexpected call played havoc on my emotions today…I am now revisiting the memory of their care and tenderness for my father and I feel gratitude. I also know that the good memories and the love I have for my amazing Dad will eventually conquer the pain.

Pastry Induced Pity-Party

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Lovers of justice cry out with me please as I lament over the sad fact that I was born with the wrong metabolism. Surely this was a case of mistaken identity…a tweak in my DNA that was not to have happened. It was a mismatch, because in my DNA I was granted the love of food, so surely I should have been blessed with the metabolism to burn off calories instead of having my body horde each one and save it in a vault of fat….COME ON!!!  Why give me this love and appreciation for all things culinary and then stick it to me by making me a lard butt? So, I am having a pity-party and you are all invited.

I am sure that if this were an actual event, there would be tons of
people, or people who weigh tons, in attendance…and that fact is lamentable in itself.  Like many others, I have been cursed with the metabolism of a flipping hippopotamus with thighs to match. That being the case, I have spent my life on the see-saw of weight gain and weight loss … and weight gain … and it sucks.

I know. I know. Yes, I really know! This is my fault and a product of living my life without proper discipline and not sticking to a healthful plan of eating and exercise.  I confess out loud; although my body does that for me every time I squeeze into a pair of jeans that are a little too tight, unkindly proclaiming with flashing neon lights: “Hey everybody, here comes Fat Butt.”  Hey … I said this is a pity party remember?

What brought on this pity party you may ask. The answer to that is Porto’s Bakery & Café http://portosbakery.com/, (Visit their website and see for yourself.)  It is a special place from heaven that is designed to tantalize and delight every sensory preceptor in a human body.  Up until two weeks ago, I had only heard about this wonderful place and was left to my imagination about what it must be like. (Like floating sugar clouds and harps playing sweet music, with chocolate rivers…true Willy Wonka-ish.) Then, a few weeks ago…I had to drive my Sister to the Burbank Airport, when I saw this line of people standing in front of this building on the corner of Magnolia and Hollywood Way…at Porto’s Bakery and Cafe. We passed by…but too late, the location had been indelibly marked in my psyche.

So after picking my Sister up from the airport on the following Sunday morning and thoroughly tempting her with breakfast at Porto’s, we found ourselves in the Sweet Nirvana of Porto’s Bakery. As soon as the car was parked and we exited, the wonderful scent of sugar lifted us off our feet and floated us through the doors of the bakery. We got in line and ordered sensibly…no really! Our plan was to have breakfast and then being fully satiated, we would then be more reasonable when it came to ordering a box of delicacies to take home.  So we ordered cappuccino and Cuban breakfast sandwiches, with Chorizo and egg, and the thinnest plantain chips…Yum. Yum I say!!!  The sandwiches were huge, so we had to get boxes to take the remainder home.

Then we were ready. I could feel my heart start to beat faster as we stood in line to pick from all the beautiful pastries.  There was a separate line for people picking up cakes. Everyone in front of us was walking out with four and five boxes each.  My plan of action was to have my Sister (the skinny one) and Mother (also thin) choose the pastries … less responsibility on my shoulders, as if that
would some way negate any of the calories associated with those choices. Yeah Right. The choices were unbelievably beautiful. How she managed to pick from all of the pastries was beyond me. I would have said, “One of each, please. Oh pretty please?”

Somehow, my Sister came away with just one box.  People looked at us strangely. I guess there is an unwritten law that you never leave Porto’s with just one box.  At the check-out register we were shocked with delight at how inexpensive our box was. How could it be that such heavenly treats cost so little? Now I understand the multiple boxes that were carried out per customer.

I am so thankful that I do not live anywhere near a Porto’s, since I have already proven that I do not have the ability to police the cravings that control me. There are just some smells that act like hooks and drag you toward the diet downfalls and insist that you partake.  Porto’s is one of those places.  If I lived nearby, I know it would be a constant battle to try to stay away.

I am happy to say that I did exercise constraint when it came to that box of edible happiness. I did not sneak it into a closet or hide it from my family. We shared and we all enjoyed every morsel of the buttery pastries filled with the lightest custard we ever tasted.  When I saw that my Mother had taken the last pastry to enjoy with her morning coffee two days later, I was filled with relief that I could now walk into the kitchen without having to struggle with the  magnetic pull of that box. The diet downfall had disappeared and life could return to normal. No more pastries in my kitchen. Yay I say with a tinge of regret.

So… it just happens that my Sister, who has recently moved into the area, is a frequent flier and I, as her sister, just happen to be the one who is her designated chauffeur to and from her airport of choice … Burbank. Yep, the same one that is down the street from Porto’s Bakery, the source of my latest pity party. Why oh why can’t I be one of those women who stay slim and svelte and still eat anything their hearts desire?  Why could I have not been programmed with the gene that would make me an exercise fanatic who enjoy running and sweating, so that anything I ate would just fuel me instead of bloat me? Why me? Why me?  Is that pathetic enough? After all, a pity party should have just enough pathetic blubbering to make it pitiable, right?

Okay… onward. I am not thoroughly without common sense. I hate the guilt that is associated with self-sabotage and I refuse to let Porto’s tasty treats take up permanent residence on my thighs. So I have a plan of action.  Tonight, I have to once again go to the Burbank Airport to pick up my Sister… but this time, I have laid out an alternative route that bypasses Porto’s. This new route does not go anywhere near the boundaries of that sweet smell. There will be no pastries in pretty boxes in my car tonight. Even if my skinny Sis requests that we make a stop at Porto’s … the answer will be an emphatic NO WAY for the sake of my DNA.

So despite the resolve to be all shiny and bright, I believe that today’s party is warranted. No more Porto’s is reason enough to have a pity party — sans the pastries please.

Switch Wish

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In jest…I think that God should have installed several ON-OFF switches in our bodies that we could control at will and here is where I want mine:

1. Starting at the top….Slap one right up against the side of my head. One that controls my thoughts. (I will hide it under my hair.) I want to be able to turn OFF the thoughts that do acrobatics and Zumba in my brain in the middle of the night and keep me awake trying to solve problems that have no answer, that keep me worrying about issues that do not belong to me, that keep me requesting things from God that He won’t give me yet and that make fitful sleep an impossibility. I want to sleep. I need to sleep. Please let me sleep.

2 Moving a little lower, for the sake of my family, my friends, and for the benefit of the world in general…put a little-bitty switch (not too visible) to control my mouth. For two reasons…my sons say I need a V-chip to filter and I would like it also to prevent the intake of excess calories. Just imagine how nice it would be…but then I’d want the switch to be set for ON, with the ability to override it…just in case I do not want to filter. Sometimes things just need to be said. After all, I really prefer that people be up front and honest…truthful and still nice. I hate it when people dance around about how they really feel. Don’t you?

3 Okay…moving on (and I am sure I am missing some key places). I would like one right over my heart. It too should be automatically ON, but with the ability to turn OFF some emotions. I want a respite from grief and sorrow…and from regret, depression, and sadness. I guess that the switch on the side of my head should control those feelings, because you cannot have an emotion without first having a thought….but just in case it doesn’t work, an extra switch would be nice. Double the protection. I know. Feeling pain is supposed to be good, a sign of life. How about a little more life without the pain? Let the good things flow, the love, the happiness, the gratitude, and the joy….make me laugh dang it…a full on belly splitting laugh. (Remember, this is being written after having a night of tossing and turning and very little sleeping, so forgive the ramble.)

4 Just two more….I know there are a lot of other places that need switches…but I don’t want to be too greedy (or explicit). Moving on….help me here with the placement…I’m not too sure where to put this one now that things have been ripped out of my body, leaving more room for fat to collect. I want a permanent OFF switch that controls Menopause. TURN IT OFF! Be gone hot flashes! Be gone skin dryness! Be gone weight gain! Be gone wacky emotions! BE GONE. BE GONE. BE GONE… I’ve clicked my heels three times. Does it matter that I am not wearing ruby-red shiny shoes?

5 Last one and then I will shut up (here is where the first two switches could easily come into play)…I want a dual-purpose switch on my big toe. Maybe I could use switches like the ones that are on my coffee maker, flat and sensitive to touch, that way they won’t be bulky and uncomfortable when I am wearing shoes. First…the switch is to be set ON so that I will start walking like I need to, to help, maybe even eliminate the need for switches 1-4. Imagine, just getting up and walking everyday like I’ve said I was going to do every day for the past (oh I don’t know) five years?….Okay the other purpose would be to control the release valve that would siphon the fat out of my system in case my walking switch never engages. I don’t even care if it hurt … just get rid of the excess fat right through my big toe. (Yuck…that is a really bad visual.)  That way I would not need all the other switches after all.

I KNOW. Okay….I know! I get it. I need to walk. Forget the dang switches. Even though there are a few people who would agree that the switches would be an easy out. I will put on my ugly walking shoes and get my butt off this chair and I will walk. I will. (Now I kinda have to, don’t I?)

I still want the fat release switch. I really, really do. Ohh and by the way … I don’t want to look like or be R.O.S.I.E.  But I would like someone to send me a Rosie Robot…she could be quite helpful around here. Maybe she could push me out the door and nag me to walk. Just saying.

Precious Smiles

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This pretty woman is my 80 year old mother, smiling as she is raking up leaves in her new yard in Ventura. Inside, her home is in the process of being renovated and beautified in preparation for her move-in date, hopefully really soon.

Following the death of my father, I wondered if that smile would return. It has. Not the same exact smile, for now there is a sadness in her eyes that lingers in the background…yet the smile we see is so very precious and I plan on banking each one and treasuring them all.

My Mother and Sister Teresa….not the Catholic one…but somewhat saintly with a halo, albeit a crooked and dented one, are now in my town. I am thrilled that I do not have to wonder how Mom is adjusting, I will only have to drive six miles to find out for myself. It is a relief to know that she is well cared for and secure…and smiling.

Watching my surviving parent age and seeing my own aging in the mirror every morning is disconcerting, especially when Alzheimer’s looms on the horizon. Mom is aware that her memory is not what it was and that, like her mother before her, she is facing a time when she will not recognize her own children anymore. I pray that day is a long time from now. Come on someone…surely there must be a cure for the dreaded memory stealer. I wonder if and when it will prey on my sisters and me.

For the time being, mom remains alert and vibrant. She has been more engaged since she left Oregon and is making plans, choosing her decor and going through her days with purpose…and wearing a smile. A very precious smile indeed.

The smile you see above is now safely documented and stored in my heart. I have room for any and all smiles this wonderful lady decides to bestow. And….I am willing and proud to share them.

Summer, Where Art Thou?

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Summer is my favorite season.

I love the sunshine, the warmth, the smell of suntan lotion, the sounds of the pounding waves on the beach and children laughing. I love walking thru downtown Ventura and weaving my way through all the tourists. I love sitting at Palermo’s Coffee Shop and watching excited children walk by with their cups of gelato eager to taste their yummy selection of shiny, sweet, heaven-sent goodness.

Illegal bonfires on the beach even make me feel good. I know it’s not allowed, but there is something about that smell that brings back great memories of our teen years and all the great times we had with friends after a long day at the beach, skin singed by the sun, sitting around the fire, singing, laughing, being young and relatively care-free.

Summer represents family and fun. It is the time for beach combing, reading novels on the beach and drinking umbrella-drinks, barbeque, road-trips, camping, rafting down the river, visiting family, watching kids run through sprinklers, picking berries, good cold beer, outdoor concerts, and savoring the sweet gifts of nature…and scores of other activities too numerous to list.

Yep.. Summer is the best.

SO…that being said. I WANT A REPEAT. Wind back time and give me back this summer!!! This one went way too fast. School has started again….the stores are already displaying Halloween and Christmas junk. STOP!!!!  I want Summer back.

Okay, I said I was not going to complain in this blog…I promised to be all Shiny and Bright…. but….I feel cheated!

This summer was jammed packed and busy. Grief over the loss of my father, the loss of my Aunt, and helping my Mother and Sister prepare and then move from Oregon to Ventura … all took my cherished summer and turned it into just plain days that passed by without the joyous delight that Summer Days hold.  I know, it is my fault for not stopping to breathe and notice…but dang it…I WANT A REPEAT NOW…I don’t want to wait for the next one.

Okay, that’s my gripe…and now back to SHINY AND BRIGHT..

Mom and Teresa are here now. We have a few more weeks of non-stop work as we prepare their new place for habitation and then…we will stop and savor. Savor how great it is to be so close together after all these years with Mom up in Oregon and Teresa on the other side of the States, in Florida. We are enjoying each others company and are constantly finding things to giggle over even though we are all exhausted from all the work of moving and getting settled.

Watch out October…we are ready for some fun and we got some plans to make sure that Shiny and Bright prevails despite our lost summer.

Back To Shiny & Bright

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Wow, my last post was as far from shiny and bright as you can get…so flip the page and let’s get back on the right path here.

I am back at my parent’s home in Oregon. I flew in Friday and was picked up at the  airport by my sister, Teresa, and my Mom. We then went and had dinner in Eugene with my youngest sister, Marta and her family. We had a pleasant evening and then made our way over to the Coast to my parent’s home.

I steeled myself for my reaction to walking into the house for the first time since my father died, back in May. There are no words to describe the condition of my heart since then…I wonder if fractured hearts show up different on x-rays.

Mom and Teresa have been having Estate Sales in preparation for their move. They have gone through the house and put stickers on everything that is for sale. I had already prepped myself to be struck with sadness and melancholy when I stepped into the house…what I wasn’t prepared for was the disconnect I felt.  The house did not look the same…furniture had already been sold, pictures were off the wall, everything personal was put away and it was NOT my Dad’s place. Now before you think “How Sad”, I am telling you … I was so relieved.

The next day, we got up bright and early and prepared for the lookie-loos. The lookie-loos were out in full force, but there were also people with pennies in their pockets, eager to score a treasure or two. We met some really nice people passing through.  Sure, certain items brought back memories, but they were all good ones, some even comical.

It was interesting to watch every man who came to the sale walk over to the old rusty Ford truck and check it out. We had put a sold sign on it. One older man asked me how much we sold it for. When I told him it had belonged to my father and was sold for $1 he almost had a coronary. I told him the story of my dad and my son Chris making a deal back when Chris was a wee lad around five-years-old. Chris liked the truck and Dad was teasing him and said he could buy it if he had any money. Chris just happened to have a wadded up dollar in his jeans. When he gave it to Dad…Dad accepted it and told him he had a deal. So finally after all these years, the Ford will be delivered to Chris in the next few weeks. The man actually got tears in his eyes. He said that was such a great story and he was happy for my son. So am I.

We have one more sale scheduled for this weekend…then anything left will be picked up by a charity. Most everything is packed for the move and we will be on our way.

So what is my shiny and bright? I feel blessed to have all the memories I have of this place where my parents have lived together. I am grateful that my mother seems to be finding joy despite the biggest loss of her life and I am thrilled to be able to help her and my sister as they move to California, where we will be living so close together. I wish that this move had never become necessary. I wish with all my might that Dad was sitting in the living-room working on a crossword puzzle right now. He isn’t, but our Dad will never be dead in our hearts. He is so very present in so many ways. He has influenced every fiber of our lives and his words will always play on in our memory, guiding us, comforting us, reprimanding us, and I’m sure, amusing us. It is good for me to remember that I can still see shiny and bright and even though my heart still aches and probably alway will, I can feel joy. I do feel joy.

There Is No God So Shouts the One Who Doesn’t Know Poop

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I got to thinking….

Atheism is on the rise, so says the news….and now atheists are going to the sides of buses to spread their anti-God message  http://www.eurweb.com/?p=122078.

Adherents of non-belief blare that the only reasons people believe in God is fear, lack of education….and other reasons that would capture…”weak minded” people. There are certain comedians whom wear the atheist label on their lapels, sit amongst their peers debating intellectual topics, sneering down upon and making Christians the butt of their jokes…and who can blame them when so much of what is done in the name of God by so-called “Christian” religions is so lame and laughable. Religions today are easy prey due to their own posturing in politics and world affairs. Yet, just because a group is deemed to be religious, does that make them true followers of God, guarantee that they are proponents of truth, or even approved by the God they claim to worship? The Bible does say that God must be worshipped in spirit and truth. You cannot mix falsehood with the truth. Is it possible that there is only one true religion?

Atheists love to spout off about how ridiculous the Bible is and deny the existence of God, Adam & Eve, Christ as the son of God, the Miracles….and anything else that might be constituted as something that requires faith. “Don’t See IT…the Don’t Believe it” mentality is seen as the wisdom of this world. Yet, what does Atheism teach?

I remember reading the Life of Pi and laughing at this insightful passage:  “It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them – and then they leap. I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while.    … To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
—      Yann Martel      (Life of Pi)

Of course, the reporter who wrote the article Atheist Campaign Against God Ads in the above mentioned link, also reports that Christians are upset by the bus ads saying, “If they don’t want to believe in God then they should just be quiet about it,” an Anaheim resident, Melinda Holt, was quoted as saying. “Why do they have to buy a poster and put it in public view? I’m a Christian and to see the Holy Bible in an ad that questions its worth – that’s just not OK.”

Come on. Really?  Atheists can have their opinion, they can joke about God, the Bible, religion… and anything else. They can plaster their opinions on buses, write it in the sky, discuss it on their talk shows… or heaven forbid … go door to door and preach their version of the anti-gospel.  After all, we do have freedom of speech…and as a Christian, I am thankful for that. Hey, that freedom of speech is very helpful if you plan on fulfilling your commission as a follower of Christ….Matthew 28:19-20. The Bible says that God let Satan speak in front of an entire assembly of all the angels…so why should the Atheist’s not have their say? Yet they should probably be 100% sure there is no God…otherwise…they are in deep doo-doo.

Am I offended by these new bus posters? Do the comedians offend me? Do the  ridiculous antics of so-called “Christians” offend me?  Am I offended by the religions that do idiotic and cruel things in the name of God? Are you offended? More importantly, Is God Offended?

These are just some things to ponder.

What got me thinking about this was an email I received from a friend tonight. I do not know the originator of the story…and I am not claiming it as my own. Like the story above…I find it interesting…. and amusing… but also very, very sad.

AN ATHEIST AND A LITTLE GIRL ON A PLANE

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk?  Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist.  “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.

“OK,” she said.  “Those could be interesting topics, but let me ask you a question first.  A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same grass. Yet deer excrete little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps.  Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death, when you don’t know crap?”

And then she went back to reading her book.

The end.

So what do you thinK?

Family Fun at VC Fair

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Saturday, August 6th, we joined our son, Christopher, his wife, Liz and their children, Michael, Chris, and Conner at the fair. We thought that it would be extremely crowded being that it was the weekend…and it was crowded, but not too bad.

We met up with the kids in the food court, where they were just finishing up their lunch. The boys were super excited and of course could not wait to get to the rides…so we headed that way.

Baby Conner, who was a year old on May 10th, was intrigued by all the people, colors and music. He kept pointing which way he wanted to go. Randy (Pops) took him on the Carousel, while the two older boys went on their first of many rides. Conner thought the horse was ok and he was full of smiles…but once the loud music started and he kept going round and round in circles, he and Pops had enough and wanted off. Pops does not do well on rides that go round and round. Teacups at Disneyland are on a NEVER AGAIN list for him. It looks like Conner might have inherited that disease too, but he didn’t cry, he just closed his eyes.

We joined with the rest of the family and headed over to the Ferris Wheel. I stayed with the stroller and watched the family go up, up and up. The views from the top are amazing, you can see downtown Ventura, up the hills and then on the other side you see the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands…but the family reported that Conner buried his head and became comatose. My boys both did that when they were little whenever they got in our boat…They would hide their heads in my chest until we stopped…never crying, just comatose.

Insanity then struck Chris and I…we handed over tickets and climbed up into this contraption that was designed to terrify and torment. We had watched it for a while and knew what it would do, but somehow all reasoning ability flew out of our head and was replaced with some kind of stupid bravado. Was I trying to recapture my youth? I don’t know…but I tell you what, I probably aged at least 20 years due to that temporary insanity…today I saw some grey hairs that were not there before the fair.

You would think we learned our lesson….NO NOT US. Liz joined us in our insanity for another ride that was a demonstration of our lack of judgement. We were twisted, flung, flipped, hung upside down and then jerked back upright, before repeating the whole sick process all over again. Just when I thought it was over and salvation was near, it began going faster. I laughed so hard and screamed so much that my vocal cords are still sore two days later. All in the name of fun?

Well, the day was wonderful. They boys used up all the tickets and never stopped smiling. There was not one whine out of anyone, except me on that stupid ride..”I want my momma.”  Yep, I am embarrassed to admit that actually came out of my mouth. Pops won Conner a cute little giraffe by throwing darts. Liz joined the boys sliding down the great big slide and giggled all the way down. So we all went on rides…which I am now suffering from…my whole body feels like I was in an accident.  And…it was totally worth it.

We dined on the finest food the fair offered (Randy and I shared a Corn on the Cob, Pork Chop on a Stick, and Indian Fry Bread Tacos)  and drank some pretty good beer).  Chris and Liz chose some more tempting delicacies like funnel cakes, cotton candy, and Kettle Korn. We listened to the bands, watched the silly bungee jumpers and danced with our Grandchildren to the music blaring in the game alley.

We walked through the Vendor Buildings, looking at all the stuff that we were supposed to buy to make our lives complete. We exercised restraint and came away with “A Touch of Purple”, a cleaner that I had bought before and love for cleaning jewlery…and of course a chocolate covered apple..the best!!! I did tell Liz we need to go back without the men so we can buy the things we want; which Chris said was fine as long as I paid for it. Hmmm.

I loved watching my husband cart around Conner and point at all the cool stuff. I loved watching the boys run from ride to ride and come off of them all exhilarated and happy. Liz and Chris were glowing, having as much fun as the little ones. I am a happy Gamie!

Yep it was a wonderful day.

Now…I get to go again with my son Dustin and his wife Kate!  I am truly not a fair fanatic…I just promised my Mom that I would bring her a chocolate covered apple…

No, Really…I am telling the truth.

 

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