Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Pointer Sister Christmas?

Families.  Gotta love ‘em.  From the itty bitty to the “you have how many kids?” I grew up in a rather large family.  I’m the youngest of 5.   Or, as I was often referred to as…..”the baby”  What can I say? God saved the best for last! Cream of the crop right here y’all! (I hope you all caught the sarcasm dripping off those two exclamation points!)  I can’t say we have a perfect family but, it’s good.  We are very blessed.   It’s true that while no family is perfect, if we’re being honest, some are a little less perfect than others. Some of you are probably saying, “She’s definitely talking about my family!”  Each person who reads this could likely name a few dysfunctional moments or even a few dysfunctional people in their family. If not, you may be the dysfunctional one.  I could post it as a contest and likely get a slew of entries.  “Dysfunction Family Junk-tion:  Tell Your Worst and Win”.  Only, while trying to win justification and maybe even sympathy…..what they win is a lifetime of bitterness and loneliness, drudging up these hurts over and over.  Therefore, in the Spirit of Christmas, I’d like to take a look at an aspect of family that often goes unspoken…..maybe because we’re unaware of it.  Let’s look at the non-family, family.   

Y’all know what I’m talking about.  It’s the people you do life with, whether they are related to you or not. The ones you can talk with about real stuff, the deep down kind of stuff that makes up who we are.  If you are fortunate as I have been, you have a close family that knows you well and puts up with all of your weirdness.  For example, my sister Marsha promptly told me I shouldn’t name our daughter Carrie when I was pregnant, as it was the name of my imaginary friend as a child and that was too creepy.  Much of the time, we can predict how one of our brood might react to something because we KNOW them.  They say love grows best in little houses….well….so do the stories that get told year to year!  So, coming from a large family, it was a nice feeling to come to the realization that people outside your immediate clan can become just as treasured to you as blood relatives.  Not that they replace them by any means….just that they become like family to you, whether you are aware of it or not.   I have learned a lot about that over the past 5 years.  Frankly, I was given a crash course over the last year or so since our move from Tennessee to Southern California.  You know what I’ve learned? Family struggles, strengths, and structures are the same all around the country. 

What’s more….when we remain open, there is endless potential for “family” to come together.  Besides parents, siblings, cousins, childhood friends, etc, there’s church family, work family, baseball family, soccer family, etc., etc.  Many of you likely have a cousin that is like a brother or a sister.  (Many of you likely also have a cousin that you’d rather not claim.)  Then there’s those you love but rarely get to see.   The point I’m making here is that just because you are family….it doesn’t mean you’re close.  It doesn’t mean you know each other all that well…..or even like each other for that matter.  This is where God ordains people to come along beside us and do life with us.  Again, they don’t replace our family, they expand our family. 

Now….take my word for it, It takes a while when moving to a completely different region with a different pace and culture.  It’s taken us a while to feel “at home” here, but we do now.  See, besides being close with my parents, siblings, and cousins, I was very close with my church family in Tennessee.   Very modest church in a rural area with about 80-100 in attendance.  Fast forward to our church outside of L.A. with multiple services just to accommodate everyone and talk about feeling like a face in the crowd. Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name.  And they’re always glad you came….sorry…couldn’t stop myself.  (If you are part of my blogging family, you’ve probably come to expect for me to break out either in song or movie/tv quotes!:)  ANYWAY – It took about a year but, it  recently dawned on me one Sunday when I went into church that as I walked through, I spoke with no less than 5 people who were genuinely happy to see me, and I them.  It felt familiar….what I had been missing….church family. 

Same goes for baseball family.  We had become really good friends with some families at the baseball park over the years in Tennessee.   I didn’t know a soul when the boys started playing ball here and now some of those moms are good friends of mine that I am doing life with and really….we’re raising our families together.  What can I say? God is good and I am very blessed. 

I understand some of you may be thinking, “Good for you….but I have NO ONE….no family, no friends, I’m alone!”  Well…I’ve got good news for you my friend.  In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus’ mother and brothers show up outside where he is teaching and someone tells him his mother and brothers are asking for him.  Jesus shocks everyone when he looks at his disciples and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Talk about a new spin on family!

Do you know how that applies to you? It means you NEVER have to be without family.  If you are a believer in Christ, then built into the fabric of the decision you made to follow Him is the privilege of never being alone.  Never being without a family.  Can I have a little tough love moment here?  Here’s the catch … must get over life’s disappointments and you must get over YOURSELF!!!! Newsflash:  The reason families aren’t perfect is because people aren’t perfect.   That extends most definitely to your church family and beyond.  You must get over what mama did or didn’t do… must get over the sibling who let you down……you must get over the poor, pitiful me….”life dealt me a bad hand” motto.  Because, if you don’t… won’t be able to truly open yourself up to the blessings God has for those who do the will of His Father.  They are too many to count, my friend and I guarantee you He does not intend for you to walk alone in this world.  Please note 2 things I believe are key to doing the will of the Father and combating isolation and loneliness:

A.       His Father does not keep record of wrong for those who have accepted and committed their lives to His Son.  Therefore, we shouldn’t carry that baggage around either.  Forgive.

B.      His Father knows about love and sacrifice and for our own good, requires us to think of others more than ourselves.  We wouldn’t have time to feel so sorry for ourselves if we didn’t spend so much time considering ourselves.  Are you feelin’ me here? Give.  Give of your time, your resources, etc.  Serve the family of God and the community He’s placed you in at this time.  It comes back 100 fold in ways you can’t imagine.

If that is you, may this Christmas bring about a change in your heart and life and may you find joy and peace in doing the will of the Father and reaping the benefits that come naturally with that. 

As for me….I will miss seeing my newfound friends and fam as we travel back to Tennessee over Christmas…BUT I can’t WAIT to be back with my chaotic, crazy, loving, original, perfectly imperfect family.  
With much love I wish each and every one of you who reads this a very Merry Christmas and a year full of His Best!!
Instead of a traditional Christmas verse….I have no choice but to leave you with this….as it is stuck in my head and will likely be there throughout all of Christmas break now!  You’re welcome. 
“We are family….I got all my sisters with me…..We are family……Get up everybody and sing.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Name That Tune

If we played the “Name That Tune” game, I imagine most of you would get this one right off the bat: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free”.  Particularly if you watched the Miss USA pageants in the 80’s. For those of you who don’t recognize this gem, it’s Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”.  And, if that's you.…please, google it or go to You Tube….I’ll feel better.  I think it is safe to say everyone in my family knows it because I played it only 5,000 times when I was growing up and rode my bike up and down the driveway about as many times singing it to the top of my lungs.  Many of the kids in my elementary school likely know the words if for no other reason than the fact that I sang on the swing sets almost every day (also to the top of my lungs) and this was one of my favorites.  Yes, I was country when country wasn’t cool.  Hey, I did mix in some occasional Cindy Lauper. 
So, today, on Veteran’s Day, just as it happens on all the other patriotic holidays…I have that song playing in my head again.  “From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee…Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea….From Detroit down to Houston, from New York to L.A., well there’s pride in every American heart….and it’s time we stand and say……” Having been born and raised in Tennessee and transplanted from the South to the South Bay of Southern California a little over year ago, I can attest that the American dream is alive and well throughout this great country. 

Only today, as I think of all the soldiers who have fought in years past and are still serving us around the world, “thankful” to be an American is the more appropriate word to describe the way I feel about our country….the land of the free….because of the brave.

1.        I’m thankful that I was able to freely pray to God and thank Him for the food I just finished with my 3 kids (who are out of school today because Veteran’s Day is a federal holiday), without fear of someone busting down my door and arresting me for it. 

2.       I’m thankful that if I choose to own a gun….or multiple guns…to defend myself from someone busting down my door, I have that right. 

3.       I’m thankful that I can freely voice my opinion on this blog without having to go underground.

4.       I’m thankful that I can vote my conscience for those who are vying for positions of government over me. 

5.       I’m thankful that I can raise my children the way I deem best for them, and as closely to the standard of the Bible as I know how and not be deemed a traitor. 

6.       I’m thankful that however flawed our judicial system may be, there is due process.  I can’t be just locked away never to be heard from again because I’m suspected of committing a crime or worse….simply because of a belief that I hold.  (That is the fear for Pastor Saeed Abedini….An American Pastor, arrested and sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison for being a Christian.  He had already received beatings and sustained serious injuries in the prison and recently, he was inexplicably moved to the worst prison in Iran….the prison where people go and are too often never heard from again.) That alone makes me want to sing “God Bless the USA”.

7.       I’m thankful that with hard work and a few lucky breaks, my children have the potential to enter whatever vocation they choose and pursue whatever dream they may have or whatever calling God may place on their lives.

8.       I’m thankful for the beauty of this land and the diversity of the people that occupy it.

9.       I’m thankful for all of the soldiers past, who volunteered to join the armed forces and put themselves in harm’s way to secure the freedoms that I’m so thankful to have today.

10.   I’m thankful for the men and women who still enlist to serve today and are currently serving, sacrificing time with their families and risking their own lives to ensure those freedoms…..and even to obtain those basic freedoms for others around the world. 

I could go on and on about why I am thankful to live in the USA.  I will tell you though, at the risk of sounding like an ex-patriot (which I totally am not!), I’m a little hesitant to use the word “proud” these days. I think there’s more than enough pride to go around.  Pride sings a tune all its own. And it's quite catchy.  We ALL struggle with it in some form or another. 

Proverbs warns us that pride comes before a fall.  And let me tell you, when I look at the state of our country, we are definitely falling….and many don’t even realize the pit….correction….the abyss…. we’ve stepped off into.  Or, because of their great pride, they’ve led themselves to believe they’re soaring when they’re really free-falling.  Thus, I give you yet another list…….The 10 Things I Hate About Pride:

1.       Pride convinces husbands and wives every day, “He/she doesn’t deserve me.”

2.       Pride tells friends and family members, “You didn’t do anything wrong, why should you be the one to apologize?”….regardless of the pain they feel from being at odds with loved ones.

3.       Pride convinces young men and women, “You must have that house…that car”…regardless of the cost.

4.       Pride tells all of us (especially in America), “You have the right to be happy”…regardless of the cost to others. 

5.       Pride convinces us that, “You must be the best”. So much so that we can’t celebrate the achievements of others.  (Well, accept the makers of Apple products....they deserve extra blessings in my opinion.)

6.       Pride bullies teenage girls and boys saying, “Don’t be a loser….do whatever it takes to get them to like you.”

7.       Pride tells employees, “He’s not telling me what to do!”.....even as they are handed their termination letter. 

8.       Pride tells leaders, “You’re in charge….you do what you want.”

9.       Pride convinces the heart it is its own authority….at all times and at all costs. 

10.   (I should have listed this to say that this is the #1 reason I hate pride)  Pride would rather you fall flat on your face and hit rock bottom than see you admit you’re wrong….or heaven forbid…change your course.   

Let me give you a couple of scenarios to illustrate how pride might play itself out in the downfall of a nation.
Scenario A:  (Totally hypothetical)

There’s a young, smart, American woman on the path to greatness.  Really, doors are opening up left and right for her.  She’s the pride of her family and the top of her class.  She may very well be the first woman president.  She meets a nice young man, also on his way to the top. He definitely has husband to be potential…..The American Dream is playing in her head.  Now, she is a modern young woman….. smart…educated….takes care of herself….doesn’t need anyone telling her what she should or should not do.  When he wants to take the relationship to the next level….he doesn’t mean marriage….he means the bedroom.   Deep down she’s hesitant but pride tells her, “This is not the 1950’s.  Everyone else does it….What? Do you really still think it’s a SIN or something? This is YOUR body…..Who are they to throw stones? You are your own woman.” 

Well, we know how that story ends.  Only it doesn’t end there.  The smart, young, American woman on the path to greatness finds out she’s pregnant.  (Turns out, she’s not as smart as we thought.  Young people….no matter how smart….are usually not as smart as they think they are and do stupid things.) But, pride tells her, “You just made a mistake….you don’t have to pay for it the rest of your life.”  What’s funny is pride then begins to change its tune and tell her, “You can’t take care of a baby…’ll never have the time or the money….you can’t handle this.”  She’s now terrified and bullied into thinking she doesn’t even want her baby and then pride throws its final jab, “This is YOUR body….that child is not a child….I mean it can’t survive without you can it?  No one can tell you what to do. Who are they to throw stones? You are your own woman.”  So, instead of allowing the visions of the American Dream to end….she decides to end the life of the child she’s carrying.  Score one for evil…I mean…pride. 
Family sizes are smaller and you can never underestimate the power of instilling the love of self over all else.  It’s really more like a two for one! This would be where pride would say, "Booyah!"

 Case B: (Again…..totally hypothetical)

Meet a young, ambitious man who is full of ideas.  I mean….he has the answers.  Or at least, pride has convinced him he has the answers.  He knows how to make America an even greater nation.  But, in order to do that, first he needs a lot of power.  So, he makes a lot of promises to the people that can get him the power.  Now that he’s got it…..he’s going to need a few things to make sure his plans for America work out. (HIS plans for America).  Let’s see, he needs:

1.       The ability to watch people really closely…..’cause see….that’s the problem, nobody’s been keeping a close enough eye on the average Joe.  Joe can be dangerous.  Well…..dangerous to the America “I” want to build anyway.  It’s for Joe’s own good…..and obviously….I know best.

2.       The ability to bring repercussions on those that he finds don’t like his plans for my America.  He’ll hit them where it hurts…..their wallet.  Pride has told him he’s the one with the power and there’s nothing they can do about it. 

3.       He needs a lot of fools…..I mean…..dedicated idealists surrounding him.  Even pride knows he’ll need someone to blame things on if they go wrong.   

4.       He really, really would like it if we could give a new boost to the whole “Anti-God” thing. We already took bibles and prayer out of schools…that was a massive blow but pride tells him its not enough.  “See….the military has too much freedom.  We don’t need the ones with the guns listening to God and looking to Jesus….you are the law of the land.” 

5.       Pride goes on to tell him, “And oh yea…..about the guns…..I don’t think people that you are trying to govern should be able to raise a gun to you.”  So, every chance he gets, he throws up stories of gun violence to instill fear in the hearts of mothers and constituents everywhere and get more and more lawmakers to back him on this. 

6.       Pride also tells him that since people who disagree with him are ignorant fools, they could be dangerous to him and his America, they should be labeled as terrorists….or at the very least….targeted for extra scrutiny. 

7.       Yes, he has all the answers.  He intends to see them come to light.  People can get on board or pay the price.  However, if the plans he implements go downhill, he will seek wisdom from those who opposed them from the start and immediately take steps to correct the situation for the good of his country.  Won’t he?  Pride laughs and says, “Yea, right! In your antiquated, American dreams baby!”  

Good thing those scenarios are hypothetical.  Can you imagine where those attitudes would lead a country? I guess that’s why God hates pride.   It insists on its way.  It makes fools of the wise.  It answers to no one.  It seeks to cut Him out of the picture.  It comes before a fall. 

See, I love our country and the people in it.  I am so thankful to be an American and profoundly thankful for all who have fought and continue to serve in our nation’s military to protect our precious, God-given freedoms.  However flawed we may be….they still protect us….even when they don’t agree with us….even when we don’t acknowledge them.  Talk about laying your pride aside and serving the greater good! Yes, I think God can relate to the soldiers. He saves us from ourselves when we are so undeserving of His devotion.....and refuse to acknowledge Him.  I have to say, with the absolute foolishness that is seeded in the hearts of so many today, the travesties that we have made law of the land, and the increasing threats to the freedoms we hold dear…..I am more thankful than ever that my citizenship is in heaven.   

So, until Jesus returns or calls me home….”God Bless the USA” will not simply be something I attempt to  belt out in song….but something I will continue to whisper in prayer.  Who knows.....maybe He'll change our tune. 

Happy Veteran’s Day.  May God bless each and every one. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Magic Shoes

I don't know what's happened.  The purpose of my little blog was to record a little life and maybe some life lessons along the way. Lately, though, there's been so much life that I haven't had time to record it.  Know what I'm sayin?? That's what I thought.  I know you're feelin' my pain. 

Speaking of pain....let me tell you about my latest bright idea and addition to my to-do list: Running. 

I've always thought I would enjoy running. My boys run at school and enjoy it. They can run a 5K without batting an eye, really. I have the visions of the happy mother and her boys bonding as they go for a lovely run along the coast on a beautiful, crisp morning.  They do mention me going walking with them on occasion.  Granted, it's while they're walking the dogs and they probably want me to go so they can put me in charge of the poop patrol.  I had been thinking a while about giving it a whirl (the running....not the poop patrol) because they want to run and I won't let them go far just the two of them yet.  (Yes, they are taller than me and yes, they are smart boys. But, I don't fully trust the judgment of a 12 yr old boy just yet and frankly, I'm too leary of the whole stranger danger thing. So, it's not happenin'.)  

 Running has been something that just keeps coming back up to me as, "you should do this."  I guess it's partly because true runners make it look so appealing.
I've always thought, "There has to be something about it that gets people out of the bed early on a beautiful Saturday morning to pull these hills in Southern California." What are they smoking? I mean.....they appear to enjoy it. They can't all be like, "Oh, I'm doing this for my heart!"  "Yes....but what about your legs and everything else??" They certainly make it seem therapeutic.  Well.....after a little over a week of training to run I've determined.........they are definitely high on something! I mean....there's gotta be something more than "heart health". Judging by the way I feel pulling the slightest of inclines, I'm inclined to agree with Weezer in Steel Magnolias, "The sooner my body gives out, the better off I'll be....can't get enough grease into my diet." Not exactly the therapeutic feel I was going for. 

Let me explain what I mean when I say I've been training for a little over a week. See, when I decided to give running a try, I didn't google any running programs. I didn't download the couch to 5k plan (which I attempted before but only got through week 2 or 3). Those would have been logical things to do. No....what do I do? I sign up to run a marathon. Yes, you read that right. The Asics LA Marathon March 2014. All 26.2 miles of it.  Makes perfect sense, right? One day I'm thinking of taking up running and googling shin splint remedies, the next, I sign up to run 26.2 miles in under 8 hours. Sounds about right to me.  In my defense, I made a B in my logic class in college. 
I know what you're thinking. "Wh-wh-whaaa H-h-how did you......"
To answer those questions, please see my previous statement of defense. 

No, in all seriousness, I recently had one of those urges hit me to take up running and one Saturday I spent some time looking up shin splint remedies and I thought maybe I could make it work....."One day" I would give it a try. 
The next day at church, we had a guest speaker instead of our regular pastors. He was from World Vision and preached a very motivating and convicting message on running our race. Come to find out, he was signing people up after church for the LA Marathon, all money raised to go to support clean water systems in Africa, specifically the Congo. Little bells went off as Water For Life  has been a mission on my heart for quite some time.  I heard a phrase at a mom's meeting that I couldn't get out of my head: "I can't imagine holding my child and helplessly watching him die from something as simple as diarrhea. Not being able to give him the water he needs to rehydrate. Especially since  it was the water that made him sick in the first place."  I just think how I hover over mine with bottled water and Gatorade when they're sick.  I simply can't imagine it and I haven't been able to say, "Oh how sad!" and then go on about my business as I typically do.  I had even shared with my husband that desire to get involved and being the generous soul that he is, he has been thinking about it and tossing around ways for us to support that particular mission. 
As you may have guessed, I heard that little voice again saying, "You should do this." The surprising thing is, this time I didn't reply with a "I'll think about it" or "I'd love to but these shin splints just won't allow me to", as my boys have often heard me say. After we were dismissed we stood up and I looked at my husband with I'm sure a strange expression that coveyed the strange notion and he knowingly said, "You're going to go sign up aren't you?" 

So, long story short....I'm in "pre-training" mode right now. I have to train for marathon training. Which basically means I have to spend 6 or 8 weeks learning to run and building up some stamina to even attempt marathon training.  My first week consisted of two days of walking for 30 minutes and 3 days of running for 20 minutes (just to be's alternating running 2 mins and walking 1 min....if I ran for 20 minutes solid....well, lets just say it ain't happenin' at this point).  At the end of every week, we meet and run as a team and that's also the most vigorous work out day as extra time is added on that day to push us. Fortunately Sunday is a day of rest. Praise The Lord!!! 
Because, my poor husband who thought he was going to have to work this past Saturday and was happy to have a change of plans and be home with the fam had to hang out with this monstrosity: 

He's worked so many weekends lately, I'd hate for him to have to deal with that ALL weekend long. He already has to deal with the Icy-hot smell at bedtime almost every night anyway. 

Now, I should explain the get up in this pic: 
The shoes automatically brought the line from Forrest Gump to mind, "My mama said they was magic shoes." See, if you intend to run any mileage at all, you have to have the right shoes. I went to an awesome little running store near the beach and they checked my gait and my foot shape and told me what kind of shoe to get. So, I tried on that type of shoe in every brand. The Mizunos were the winner! Not quite magic shoes but they are pretty sweet!! The only problem with the shoes was the color options. But, I was going for comfort and health, not necessarily you may have guessed by looking at the lovely socks I'm sporting.   

A little word on the socks.....Don't be hatin'!! Let me tell you my friends, they are not only stylish but practical, too. Well, that's not entirely true. They are outrageously expensive, kind of difficult to get on and off, and....draw lots of odd looks from passers by. Just so you know, if you see me out in them, I'm not trying to make a fashion statement or draw attention to myself people. You think I want you to see me sweating bullets and puffing along all red-faced?  I'm simply trying to keep my legs from feeling like they are about to fall off during training.  
They are compression socks and let me tell you, they are a God-send. After my first two days of running and one walking....I could hardly walk that Wednesday morning my shins and tops of my ankles hurt so bad. I was thinking of going and buying ace wraps when, on day 3, I had to go to the running store again and happened upon these puppies. They are not a cure all but I am in nowhere near the pain I was before I started wearing them. It was immediate relief.  Can you tell I'm thrilled with the socks? I'm thrilled with the socks. It makes me think of another scene from Forrest Gump when Lt. Dan walks up on his prosthetic legs:
Forrest: "You got legs." (Looking @ Jenny) "New legs."
Lt Dan: "Yep. Titanium alloy. Just like the use on the space shuttle."
Forrest: (amazed) "Magic legs". 

Well, they may not be magic legs but I CAN honestly identify with Jude's sentiments when she put on her compression sleeve that she got at the Dodgers game: "This is the best thing I've ever put on my arm!" 
Because....these are truly the best things I've ever put on my legs. I wear them during my runs and during my "recovery period". Which, basically means I wear them most of the time! 
I know....enough about the socks. If you want to know more, feel free to message me. 

Oh! I went on my first mother-son run this week. However, Peter effortlessly running way ahead of me while I'm huffing and puffing and sweating bullets was not quite the bonding experience I'd imagined. But, it's early yet. One of these days I'm going to smoke him! (Though, I guess that's not the bonding experience I should be dreaming up either! Lol) All kidding aside, I will definitely enjoy running with my crew one of these days. It was great. 

Running is great for that matter. I mean....not while I'm actually running. But, I've done all I can do to prevent as much pain and injury as possible. I've got my magic shoes and magic legs; I'm drinking water and liking it (a miracle all it's own); I'm doing strengthening exercises for my shins; I'm warming up properly; I'm sticking to the training plan; I'm stretching and cooling down as recommended; and...... I'm leaving the rest up to God. 
And ya know? When I'm finished with each run and can breathe again, I see what makes the runners come back for more. Those endorphins kick in and I experience that "runner's high". Not only do my calves and shins not hurt, I can barely feel them. My thighs are a different story. (I may need a full body compression stocking.  Don't laugh, they make them!) But, it's still a great feeling.  AND.... each time I have shaved a few seconds off of my average pace. I needed to be under 14 minutes per mile to theoretically finish the marathon in time.  I started a little over a week ago at 14:50/mile and now I'm at 13:06
If that weren't enough, the little reassurances the Lord has given me this last week that He's in this with me have been so timely and specific that they're undeniable. And as you've heard me say when quoting Beth Moore before, "Ain't no high like the Most High!" 
Hope y'all get to experience a little of Him in whatever you're doing this week! Run friends, run!! 

If any of you would like to get involved, there is a link here to donate. I have a fund raising goal of $1,310. I believe that's $50 per mile as, on average, the cost of clean water systems is typically $50/person.  That's clean water for life.  It may not sound like a big impact, but just imagine the impact that's felt by those individuals and communities who receive it. However, if you'd rather wait until I'm further along in training to make sure I don't hurt myself....I understand!! I will repost the link periodically up until Marathon day!:)
Team World Vision Personal Page


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Mother Ship

For some strange reason, I thought once the boys got out of school for the summer, I’d have all this time in the mornings to read, study, write, etc.  Mmmmm…..Not sure where I got that impression.  So, while I had big plans about summer projects and blogging.. it has now been a month since my last post.  Obviously, things haven’t gone according to plan.  It’s all good, though! A lot of life happens in such a short time and we’ve just been rolling with it.......

The Mother Land

The kids and I haven’t been home long from a 2 ½ week trip to the mother ship….. I mean…..Tennessee.  Don’t get me wrong, we SO enjoyed spending time with our family and friends and just being back in the country.  I have to admit, though, I said it was like the mother ship because after living and operating in the Los Angeles area for a year now…..going home this time was like entering another world.  Not that either is really good or bad…..but, “different” doesn’t adequately describe the two worlds.  I’ll just have to paint the picture for you….

The difference in the airport experiences alone are quite a contrast.  LAX could be considered a world of its own.  It was apparent the moment we stepped off the plane and left our gate in Nashville… can’t help but notice all the boots and cowboy hats! When not on the people, there’s plenty for sale in the airport stores. Hence, it is often affectionately referred to as NashVegas!  When we stepped outside to go from the terminal to the parking garage, I was almost taken aback.  You simply walk across the crosswalk and IF cars are coming, they are coming slowly and they politely stop and let you cross.  Not the case at LAX.  You only do that there if you happen to be suicidal.  No, at LAX….you wait on the traffic light to turn red and the little white “walk” man to light up before you cross.  Yes…..there are 6 lanes, complete with traffic lights…. and traffic jams for that matter, throughout the terminals at LAX.  Fortunately, Southwest is the first terminal when picking up and dropping off.  Consider this a public service announcement:
My brother, Johnny, made a surprise visit to see me off from the airport in NashVegas
If you’re flying Delta, American, etc…. allow plenty of time to get through the terminal traffic when catching your flight home.  If you don’t, you could very well be staying on with us a little longer!:) So, do yourself a favor and fly Southwest when visiting LA.  If you need another reason other than relatively affordable airfare and time saved at the airport….I, for one, enjoy their sarcastic sense of humor on the plane…..”You are scheduled to arrive in LA in approximately 4 hours.  Please do not ask, “Are we there yet?”  We will ignore you.  That said….enjoy your flight.”

Jude waiting on a taxi @ LAX
There were so many things I had simply not considered after living in town for a year.  See….showing my Tennessee roots already.  When someone moved from the country to say….Jackson, TN….population 55,000 or so….we’d say they “moved to town”.  Actually, there were so many things I had simply forgotten after moving to “the city”.  If I had to guess, I’d say there are 55,000 people through LAX on a given day.

Another Southwest shot:)

Anywho… I could go on and on about all the things that are a world different than city life here in the South Bay.  But, I’ll just list a few experiences that struck me, at times, as though I was in a whole other world and other times, as just getting back to my country roots:

Roads Less Traveled

We started off with my sister in law and niece coming to pick us up at the airport in Nashville and they had a good friend in tow as a surprise!  Home folks!! Needless to say, the ride home was a hoot in and of itself. We pretty much just picked up where we left off and made fun of one another most of the way of the 2+ hour drive home!:)  It was nice to be amongst close friends and family and well….grown-ups again. Though, I use the term “grown-ups” loosely! It was refreshing to see that some things were exactly as I remembered them.
Taking Interstate 40 home from the airport was almost shocking.  It was after 7pm. So, most of the traffic starts to die down by then……So much so that with the lack of cars and no lights along the road, you occasionally need to use your bright lights.  On the interstate.  I remember thinking, “I don’t remember the last time I needed my brights!”  A few other differences stuck out along the interstate trip like big thickets of trees lining the roads and the cashier at Wendy’s with the thick country accent.  The boys got such a kick out of that.  Good stuff!
Most everything was the way I remembered it in Tennessee.  I just didn’t remember everything. Winding down the dark highway and back road to my parent’s house was a blast from the past…..I was scared to death I was going to hit a deer in the borrowed Tundra that my sweet brotha-in-law let me use.  I always wanted a big truck that I had to climb up in.  The first few days I was home, I found myself rather unnecessarily trying to step up into my Mountaineer and feeling disappointed that I didn’t have to.  When we finally arrived  at my parents’ that night and I slid out of the truck into my parents’ drive, the sounds of the country……crickets and bullfrogs…..just bombarded me.  Always loved their “music”.  Now, on the flip side, I soon found out that coyotes hollering in the wee hours of the morning  STILL freak me out as much as they did when I was a kid. 
(I’ve posted the pitch black video so you can hear the sounds. Turns out the iphone does have limitations.  It does not video or photograph well in the dark. Go figure.)

The stars at night were a sight for sore eyes.  Not that I can’t see the stars here in the South Bay but, I definitely can’t see that many and certainly not that clearly.  One night I guess I went way back to my roots and piled up in the bed of my borrowed truck with a blanket and a pillow to lay up under what truly seemed like a blanket of stars.  Hey...don't knock it til you try it.  It was a nice night and there was a meteor shower going on for Pete's sake!  So, Daisy, our old sweet dog my folks inherited in the move, and I took in the sights.  I only saw one that night because I didn’t tarry long.  Besides being tired, there was a mosquito driving me absolutely nuts and totally detracting from my whole “blanket of stars” experience. Those blood sucking critters are one of the few things I didn't miss about Tennessee.  The thick humidity was the other.  However, the hot, humid air does make for some awesome storms.  I’ve always been a skywatcher.  So, I was so indescribably happy that it stormed while I was there.  I even got to wake up one morning to rolling thunder and doze back off to sleep listening to it because my parents were there to take care of Jude who is quite the early bird some days.  So many times along the trip, I thought, “Now that alone was worth the trip home.”  Dozing in a thunderstorm was definitely one of those times.  
Another time I thought, "That was worth the trip", was when I walked into a public bathroom and saw this sign:  

You have to understand, contrary to popular opinion, these signs aren’t up everywhere in the South.  Nor are they even remotely needed.  I was at the racetracks with, oddly enough, the two crazy women who picked me up at the airport....and their families (See pic of Felicia and Angie at the side).  A dirt race track.  I had never been before, but just so happened that my friend Angie, who’s husband is a sawmill owner by trade but a race car owner at heart, (And somehow a distant cousin) had a relatively local race that we could go to and see what it was all about.   We had a ball.  But, I'll just say that as the night wore on, I came to understand the need for the sign.  Now, Angie had informed us to wear a cap or something because it was a dirt track and gets dusty out there. Boy did it.  When the cars came flying around the corner, dirt went everywhere...... And I do mean everywhere! I don’t remember ever being that dirty.  Not even when I was a little country bumpkin kid and played  with dirt clods and made rock soup.  The next morning I had to wear something other than what I had planned to wear to church because I had worn the white bra I needed to wear up under it the night before to the race......and it was full of dirt! All kidding aside, Felicia and I thoroughly enjoyed the racetrack.  Felicia got the FULL racing experience when my brotha-in-law won her 6 private laps around the track with one of the drivers during the charity auction.  6 nearly full speed laps might I add! "Weee-doggie!" She got to check one thing off of her bucket list and I got the pics to prove it!  The sign, the dirt, the noise, the friends.....that was bucket list enough for me:)

I guess you could say we ALL broadened our cultural experience on this trip.  The boys kicked off their vacation the 2nd day there with a trip to Shiloh National Military Park, a civil war battlefield and cemetery, courtesy of another brotha-in-law, who then carried them on to a Slugburger eating contest in Corinth, Mississippi.  See, competitive eating champ and world record setter, Joey Chestnut was in town.  In case you're like me and don't follow competitive eating.....Joey Chestnut ate a record 69 hotdogs in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July contest. Buns and all.  Can I just pause a moment and say.....bluuuuggghhh!!? Well, Joey was competing against an arch rival, Matt Stonie who held the record for Slugburgers at 30 in ten minutes.  Long story short, Stonie defended his title and beat his own record by eating 31 slugburgers in 10 minutes.  Now, there's some culture for ya right there. Thanks, Uncle Greg!!:)

Sorry Joey, maybe next time!

For so many reasons, we were all thoroughly blessed on this trip to the mother ship.  I enjoyed the simple things like spending some relaxed time just chatting with my parents every day in the house where I grew up, catching up with my mother in law, hugging on my sweet great nephew, meals with family, dinner and shopping with sisters and good friends.....just to name a few.  The kids got a LOOOOT of doting from their grandparents.  I lost count of the number of ice cream cones my mom fixed Jude after about the 2nd day.  None of us went without for that matter!  The boys were able to catch up with their old buddies and all of their cousins.  Lots of people cleared schedules, opened up their homes (and pools), hauled us around, fed us and just totally went out of their way to welcome us back and we were blessed beyond words. 
Well, that's probably not entirely know me.....I'm super wordy.  I really don't know how to explain it, though, so I will just say this is what I took from our trip:
A lot of life happens in the span of 2 1/2 weeks. It dawned on me during this trip that, all too often, like the pesky mosquito that sent me inside on a beautiful starry night, I let little things suck the life out of me and deter me from the good stuff.  That realization just makes me wonder how many shooting stars I missed that night......and how many blessings I've missed along the way. Granted, sometimes it's no small's not always something we can swat away or ignore that's eating at us. But, often, it is just that....a daily annoyance.  Can I just is such a gift in and of itself simply to be aware of your blessings....aware of God's presence in and upon your life.  Like the stars, there are too many indicators to count.  I know not everyone has a big family or a faithful circle of friends, but everyone has a sky.....and a God.... above.  When we feel the life being sucked out of us, for whatever reason, if we could just recall that there are so many things that He wants to use to refresh breath life back into us, and if we could just make time for those things and for HIM, our enemy would have a hard time deterring us in our purpose in this life. Sunsets, starry skies, friends to discuss life with, and sweet family reunions.....quite the mosquito repellant.  I'm so thankful He opened my eyes to enjoy what was true and real.  I left Tennessee not just feeling blessed......but favored. 
Back in California, I've found that, though we don't have that sea of family and friends around us, I brought that awareness and feeling with me. In Tennessee, He used a great many people to bless me and show me His favor. Here, it may only be a handful of people He uses. But He has reaffirmed one thing for me, He is with me wherever I go .....from the mothership to another world and everywhere in between. (Plus, there are no mosquitos here.  Bonus points for Southern Cal!)  Now...if I could just round up the money and then figure out a way to justify purchasing a big ole truck....Talk about two worlds colliding!

 More Pictures to Add to the Picture:)

Jude and Lily totally dug the truck, too! Jude asked if we could drive it back to California.  Lily was dying to go for a ride in the back.  Don't worry....though I rode in my share of them growing up, we didn't let her. 
Jude and Daisy

Hudson's 1st birthday.....I wanted to bring him home with me!

Volley ball with cousins in the country.  Use to love that myself! 
Uncle Matt (another brother in law....we have a huge family) bush hogging his pasture.  Or playing on the big orange tractor......Not sure.


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