Sunday, August 30, 2009

Remember the Scardey Lion?

I was thinking today about courage.

It occurred to me that it takes tremendous courage to fall asleep while surrounded by strangers. 

Think about this:  at the tender age of 16 a sweet girl decides to become an exchange student.  For her entire life she's been surrounded and supported by a mother, father, grandparents, and a sister.  She gets on a plane and leaves all that to go to a foreign land where no one speaks her language.  When she arrives, she's expected to eat, sleep, toilet, study... LIVE with strangers for a year. 

Our new "daughter" arrived today.  She started her journey more than twenty-four hours ago.  I knew I would be doing her no favors by letting her spend today sleeping, so we brought her to the Fair.  When we finally got in our car at four, I encouraged her to sleep.  She finally did.  When I saw her -- soundly sleeping in the backseat -- I wondered how it must feel to fall asleep among strangers while in possession of every important document and every dollar you possess in that moment.  Yikes.

What is it that makes courage?

When I was seventeen, I went to Germany with a bunch of other people.  I remember sitting on the plane at the airport and thinking "I can still get off the plane!"  I was scared to my core!  I didn't REALLY know any of the people who were going, I didn't REALLY know the language, and I was leaving everything I REALLY loved to go. 

I went anyway.

That's what I think courage really is.  It's doing something even though you're afraid and uncertain.

I'm so proud of Mari for having the courage to step out of her safe world and into an unknown and scary world, and I will do whatever I can to make sure her experience is the best it can be. 

Thanks be to God for Heros.  Mari's one of mine!

I Wonder...

I wonder about people.

I wonder what motivates them.

I wonder what makes them function.

I wonder what makes them get out of bed everyday.

I wonder what makes their prayers.

Adam and I spent the morning together. 

I was a little... hmmm...  FREAKED OUT that my darling new daughter could be "lost" in the world of transportation.

He was SO AMAZING.  He talked with me though being LOST on our way to the airport.

He helped me look for our student.

He stood beside me when I yelled AND when i cried.

And in the car on the way home, he took my hand and said, "Breathe.  Again.  Again."

I wonder who the woman is who deserves my boy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Queen of the Scathingly Brilliant Idea and Her Husband

Once upon a time, in a land not so far, far away, there lived the Queen of the Scathingly Brilliant Idea.

She never knew when the Brilliant Idea would strike.  In fact, she kept a notebook by her bed for many years.  In later life, she jumped the Technology Train and used a mini laptop.  When the Brilliant Idea struck at 2:30 in the morning, she made notes.  It wasn't enough to help her go back to sleep though; she often ended up running to the office at ungodly hours to test the Brilliant Idea.

Brilliant or not, some of the Ideas failed.  It's true.  Sad, but true.

Other Brilliant Ideas were lauded and honored with Oh-This-Is-Good status.

Now, the Queen had a husband.  He was Salt of the Earth.  Tied to the earth, he kept the Queen grounded.  Whenever she shared her Scathingly Brilliant Ideas with him, he was quick to spot the weaknesses and deficiencies of the Ideas.  She was Overwhelmingly Thankful for her husband.  He kept her from some wicked and embarrassing Fiascos.

The King grew wise over the years.  He was so wise, he was granted his own Special Staus.  He became King Joseph the Wise.  In honor of his new title, he took to riding camels and carrying gifts.

He learned when it was best to explore his Misgivings over one of the Ideas and when it was best to remain Silent.  See, he loved his Queen beyond imagining, and he wanted her to shine in all she did.  She recognized his value and honored him in all things.  They embodied Ying and Yang.

One day the Queen had an Idea King Wise found ridiculous.  She was going to send her subjects on a Quest for seventeen things.  Sir Wise felt his muscles tense and his throat constrict as he listened to her Idea.

He watched her.  He saw the light in her eyes and knew without a doubt that she believed in her Idea.  She believed her subjects would learn something new and they would grow in value in their own eyes when they achieved success on their Quest. 

He bit his lip and breathed deep.  This time he wouldn't say anything.  He'd watch and wait.

The subjects heard about the Quest. 

They groaned. 

They complained. 

They whined.

Still, they Quested.

As they Quested, something miraculous happened. 

King Wise saw them growing in courage and strength.  He saw their confidence and wisdom increase.  He saw them becoming better neighbors and friends. 

King Wise was impressed and awed. 

He listened to the subjects talk about the experience in glowing terms.  "I didn't want to do this, and I grumbled," said one Faithful Subject, "but it was great.  I learned something new, tried to do things in different ways, shared my knowledge with others, and became a friend to someone new to the Kingdom.  This was a great, great day."

He was so proud of his Queen.

He sent the Queen a message.  It read:  "I thought you did a great job today.  I should never doubt how people will respond to your Ideas.  I love you."

And they all lived Happily Ever After.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Little Bit of Rant...

I've had enough of the oft-repeated phrase "corporate greed."

Corporations are not greedy.

People are.

Corporations are not inherently evil.

People can be.

Corporations are not destroying our environment, economy, or society.

People are.

My friend and president of his own corporation said it best this weekend:  "Where ever I am and whatever I do, I'm always thinking about my employees and how I can best protect their jobs.  They can go home at the end of the day and forget about their jobs and me, but they never leave my mind."

Corporate greed?


Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Will Be Here

I had a double header yesterday. 

Becca, Willson, Pat, Scott and I celebrated the funeral Mass of a member of St Henry's.  Later in the day Becca, Scott, and I made live music for a friend-of-a-friend's wedding.

I have been playing a variety of roles at weddings and funerals for a long time, and I never tire of either.

I rarely cry at funerals.  The beauty and timelessness of the Catholic funeral liturgy is so comforting and uplifting.  I love the timeless smell of incense, though it has made my eyes water so much I couldn't read the music.  When I listen to the friends and family members talk about the deceased, I often find myself wishing I had known the person better or at all.  I remember one eulogist who painted a beautiful picture of his mother arriving in heaven at the great banquet, greeting family members and friends.  During yesterday's funeral I found myself wanting to go hug the eulogist; he was so sad at the loss of his father.

I almost always cry at weddings.  This one was no exception.  The couple chose a beautiful reading from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4.  It says two are better than one; if one falls, the other is there to pick him up.  When two sleep together, they keep each other warm.  How does one stay warm alone? 

The pastor talked about the reading.  He advised this young couple to be each other's support and refuge, to keep each other warm.  He also told them keeping God present in their lives would make all the difference.

He was so right; I wonder if they heard what he said.

Between the reading and the pastor's comments, we sang a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, "I Will Be Here."  My favorite line in the song is in the second verse:  "I will be here and you can cry on my shoulder, when the mirror tells us we're older, I will hold you and I will be here to watch you grow in beauty and tell you all the things you are to me.  I will be here....."

I thought of all the times Joe's made me feel warm and safe, of all the ways he's loved me more as we grow old together, and of all the ways he's been here.

Joe said to me, "I will be here."  He said it nearly nineteen years ago.

Know what? 

I believe him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gum Snappin' as an Olympic Sport

I'm a gum snapper from way back.

My auntie, Zona, taught me how when we were on a bus trip to or from North Carolina.

She's an amazing gum snapper and could maybe beat me in the Olympic finals.

I can't stop the snappin'. Once I get the gum, it's a rhythmic tribute to my minor case of OCD. I snap evenly right and left sides.

I was even a snapper back in high school. I remember American Lit with Gene "Garm" Garman, one of my all-time favorite classes.

Garm was at the board on one of the rare occassions when he turned his back on the class. I was happily copying the notes in my notebook and snap-snap-snappin' away. All the sudden, Garm roars, "HOGLUNDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Garbage!!!!!!!!!!!! Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Crap. Had to spit out the gum. It was only one of the two times I was annoyed with Garm.

Know what else?

I can't stand listening to people snap their gum. I've made them spit it out at work.

What's good for the goose is not always good for the gander, I guess.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daniel Boone, Heartthrob

I had a crush.

I realize now my crush was History, but when I was eleven, I thought my crush was Daniel Boone.

There was a biography about Daniel in the Pinewood West Library. I think I was the only person who signed the card in that book all year long. I signed it more than once.

Though I was in the midst of my World War II phase, I took the time to read and re-read the story of Daniel and his most amazing wife, Sarah.

I could have been Sarah.

Or so I thought.

She was Pioneer Woman extraordinaire. She raised a brood while Daniel was off exploring and settling the west. She could do anything.

Of course, having had my wilderness experience in the BWCA, I must admit I'm no frontier woman.


I LOVED Daniel.

I might have hated the wilderness and not been so great at birthing babies, but I do love cooking over a campfire with my cast iron.

Sisterhood of the... Circling Wagons

I have the most amazing warrior woman friends.

Awhile ago there was an email forward I actually really liked. It was about people who enter your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I hardly ever actually read those emails; they're basically all the same thing with a little different packaging. I liked that one though.

Many people have entered my life for a reason or a season. It's fun to look at old picture albums and watch the parade of friends and observe what we were doing at the time.
Sometimes I feel a little nostalgic for this place or that person, but it's a sweet nostalgia. In retrospect, I can see why we crossed paths -- sometimes for something I needed, other times for something someone else needed, and many times for something we both needed.
I'm so thankful for each of those people.

Tonight I'm thinking about those who've come for a lifetime. Some friends are male, and each is valuable in unique ways.
Most of them are women though. And they are warriors.

I think of one who's hoping for a career change, another who's just moved cross country, and one who's struggling with an important friendship.

Then I consider one who successfully battled cancer and another who is embarking on a last journey with her terminally ill father; still another keeps climbing the corporate ladder as a single mother.

When I struggle with my demons, I feel this sisterhood link arms and circle the wagons around me.

I think they know I'm waiting here for each of them. I hope they'll take the opportunity to rest within the circle when they are most in need.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Dreamed a Feast

Almost four years ago Joe and I were moving from "winter" into "spring" in our marriage.

Anyone who's read Gary Chapman's The Four Seasons of Marriage understands the reference.

Anyone who's lived in Minnesota will too; we know the agonizing coldness and death each winter is and we know the joy with which we welcome the budding excitement of spring.

It was a good time in our marriage and lasted a couple years before we became complacent and experienced the cycle again last year.

Meanwhile, SALT ( was in it's second year of existence. We had just performed our Christmas concert, "Welcome Heaven's Light," for the first time. Shortly after the concert we started working with Mike Talbott. His goal was to help us find direction and plan a roadmap.

Somehow at that time we stopped performing. We were feeling out of sorts and unsure about how to manage the task in front of us. Becca, Willson, and I were talking about our shared dissatisfaction and unrest during Lent that year. We all agreed we needed an opportunity to perform, believing it would inject energy back into our practices and work.

I mentioned I had an idea and wondered if they'd trust me enough to agree to it without a lot of detail about what it was. They did.

That night I left practice with my laptop. I sat in bed near Joe and wrote the outline for our Feast. Then I wrote the dialogue, made a tentative list of songs we could use, and a created a chart of tasks we'd need to complete.

My idea was to create an evening of entertainment for married or engaged couples.

It would look and feel like a wedding reception, complete with a three-course dinner, wedding cake, and a "first" dance.

During the evening we would sing and tell stories -- ours and the guests'. We would share quotations, wisdom, and music. We would serve like Jesus taught us. We would offer our guests the opportunity to renew their marriage vows.

Mostly, our Feast would celebrate marriage and family, the very foundation of our society. Jesus himself thought marriage was important; his very first miracle was performed while taking time out of His very important ministry to share a wedding feast with an unnamed couple. The title for our show has been the Feast since the beginning.

I imagined, as I wrote, which SALT member would say each word, which SALT member would perform each action, which guest would most appreciate which comment. When I finally fell asleep -- curled between Joe and my laptop -- I dreamed a Feast.

SALT cooperated with every task offered, and some tasks (think recording videos) were incredibly difficult. As with everything we do, the final product is a marriage of opinions and thoughts and talents. It's not exactly as I wrote it, but it's exactly what I hoped it would be. I love each of those people for trusting me enough to step outside their comfort zones and give me the opportunity to do what I do better than play the piano -- organize and shape the world according to my vision.

The Feast is my tribute to my husband, who is much better at forgiveness and unconditional love than I am. Twice Joe and I have experienced winter in our marriage. After the first winter, I wrote the Feast with a heart full of thankfulness for our season of renewal and rebirth. During the second winter, it took performing a Feast to move out of the troubled season.

Joe and I were at odds, largely thanks to my own troubled situation with my parents. It had been a year since SALT last performed the show. My memory of the actual dialogue and the impact of our videos had dimmed. I'd even forgotten my video. I cried this time when I watched it and remembered how it felt to be in that first season of renewal. During the vow renewal I took Joe's hands and felt him hold mine with such strength and conviction. I felt hope unfurl in the darkest corners of my heart. We held each other's gaze as we admitted having been through troubled times and then reaffirmed our commitment to each other and our family as we resaid our vows.

I trust completely that Joe means it when he says he will be here all the days of my life.

Someday I'm sure we'll wander again through winter. My prayer is that we recognize it quickly and sprint back to spring.

What Lies Beyond...

My parents are divorcing.

As a daughter I'm sad for the loss of home, even though I have a home of my own.

As a witness of the internal workings of the marriage, I'm relieved for both of them. Perhaps this is a chance for them to find peace and happiness.

As an employee of the corporation they own I'm smack dab in the middle of something I didn't choose, couldn't stop, and have to apologize for incessantly to employees and vendors and customers.

Along the way, I've finally been able to separate myself from the daughter I was to the person I'm becoming. For the first time in my life I've set and honored my own limits and boundaries. I've learned what it means to be independent. Finally. When I'm nearly 40.

My mother's antics, largely driven by her addictions, have humiliated and hurt me. The vicious lies she's told about things I've supposedly done, like stealing money from her and taking her things, are ludicrous. Her latest accusation is that I have a drug problem. Of course anyone who knows me realizes the drug problem I have is refusing to take them until I'm so sick I have no other option.

Dad is... dad. He has no patience for or understanding of this divorce process he never expected to have to understand or experience.

This week I completed the last of the work I need to do for CPAs and business evaluators in order for the divorce to proceed. With that massive task off my shoulders, I have the opportunity to be just an adult daughter with my own life.

My parents and their divorce will leave lasting scars on me just like their marriage did. The good news is that eventually they'll be divorced.

The bad news is mom will always be mom. I suspect she's not finished punishing me for what she sees as my defection. While I have no fear for the future -- after all today's worries are sufficient for today -- I do wonder what lies beyond...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yay for Me!!!!

Hey! Guys! Guess what? I got fuel!!!! Woot, woot!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Worst Habit Ever

I've traumatized Haleigh, put Matt's life at risk, and been the butt of many a joke. Still, here I sit figuring how many trips to and from work before I have to fuel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sometimes When We Touch....

I cannot stop thinking about the old song, "Sometimes When We Touch."

I have it on iTunes and it popped up a BUNCH of times in the last week. It's not a great song, but I love it so I actually Googled it. I really want to understand why it resonates with me.

The song was first recorded and written by Dan Hill.

You ask me if I love you and I choke on my reply
I'd rather hurt you honestly than mislead you with a lie
And who am I to judge you and what you say or do
I'm only just beginning to see the real you

Romance and all its strategy leaves me battling with my pride
But through the insecurity some tenderness survives
I'm just another writer still trapped within my truth
A hesitant prize fighter still trapped within my youth

I'm not really sure about the "hesitant prize fighter" part, but I guess they needed a rhyme. It makes the most sense as a duet.

At times I'd like to break you and drag you to your knees
At times I'd like to break through and hold you endlessly

This part, I GET! I can love like this. Sometimes I want to stand in the background and... well, be the "wind beneath their wings." Other times, I'd like to smack 'em. I'm talking about the people I love.

At times I understand you and I know how hard you've tried
I've watched while love commands you and I've watched love pass you by

At times I think we're drifters still searching for the dream
A brother or a sister, but then the passion flairs again

Still, the best part is the refrain. Listen to it. Feel it. Love it.

And sometimes when we touch the honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide.
I wanna hold ya till I die -- 'til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides.

May God bless songwriters. :o)