Monday, November 30, 2009

So far, so good

I have been following Mrs. Flinger's blog for quite a while now, because I love the style in which she writes, and the stories are fascinating to me. This morning, when I was catching up on posts from the weekend, I ran across a recent post of hers that intrigues me. She is starting a writing group that once a week, will be given an idea to write a blog post about. The first one was for today, so let's see if I can give this a whirl.

Today's topic was to post about your most embarrasing moment. This is actually quite a difficult topic for me, because I have spent my entire life in a carefully orchestrated attempt to not stand out in a crowd. I don't embarrass easily, or rather, I DO embarrass quite easily, but I do everything in my power to avoid those situations to begin with. I attempt to fade into the woodwork when possible, I overplan events to make sure every tiny detail is in place, I try not to talk about a topic unless I know that my information is correct, etc.

Sure, I have embarrassing moments, like the rest of the world. I have tripped up stairs in high school, I have spilled food or drink on clothes at an important time. There was the time that I fell asleep in the chair in my boss' office while I waited for him to get off the phone. Life is full of small moments that make me blush, but I have been sitting here for almost an hour trying to come up with a "most" embarrassing moment, and the truth is, I just don't have one. So far, I have been successful in my ongoing crusade to avoid that kind of notice, I guess.

I just hope I can keep up the trend.

This post is part of the Write of Passage challenge. Please stop by and join the fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Naomi

So who is your Naomi?

Mike and I are currently studying the book of Ruth in our nightly Bible study. For those of you not familiar with the beginning of the story, it goes something like this.

Naomi moved to a foreign country with her husband and two sons. The two sons marry foreign wives. The husband and both sons die. Naomi prepares to go back to her home country, and she tells her daughter-in-laws that since they are young and in good health, they should return to their families and find themselves other husbands. One daughter-in-law goes back to her family. The other one, Ruth, refuses to leave Naomi, and insists on traveling with Naomi back to Israel. Her words to Naomi are commonly used in wedding ceremonies all the time now, the famous quote about "whereever you go, I will go, your people will be my people, and your God my God".

At the end of the study on the first night, it asked us the question "who is someone you can call your Naomi".

Who in your life can you make that kind of committment to?

Well obviously, my husband, first and foremost.

I have written volumes and volumes about how much I love my husband, and our marriage, but this post is actually about someone else.

This post is about my mother-in-law, Dee, my Naomi.

She is amazing in so many ways that I cannot even begin to explain to you.

My Naomi listens to what I say. Not just polite conversation, nodding her head to pretend that she is listening. She LISTENS. The first year that Mike and I were together, long before we were married, Thanksgiving was approaching and I was telling her about a funny story from my childhood. My mother made "Thanksgiving out of a box", as the kids called it. She made instant mashed potatoes, a turkey that had a pop up timer to tell you when it was done, cranberry sauce still shaped like a can, pumpkin pie that has "libby's, libby's, libby's, on the label, label, label", and Stove Top dressing. I was telling Dee about this, and about how the first year I was in college, I went to Thanksgiving with a friend, because I could not afford to fly home. My friend's mother made homemade stuffing, and I felt let down because I missed the Stove Top dressing from my childhood. It was a story that was meant to be funny, a brief poking fun at myself for being so tied to a box mix that I didn't appreciate the work that went into the homemade stuffing.

We all laughed and went about our business. Thanksgiving day arrived, and we went to the big family dinner. They bring out all the food, Dee brings out the big pan of homemade stuffing that she makes every year. And then (and I still get teared up at this memory), she brings out a little saucepan of Stove Top dressing that she made for me. She made that just for me. She heard what I said in my story, she remembered somehow that it mattered to me, and she went out of her way to make a dish that only I wanted. That is how much she cared.

My Naomi thinks about us. She is constantly coming home from Wal-Mart with some piece of clothing that was on sale and in my size that she picks up for me. She cuts out recipes that she thinks I might want to try. She calls our house to let us know when a tv show is on that she thinks Mike or I might want to watch.

My Naomi takes care of us. If one of us is sick, she brings food over to the house. We live in an apartment next door to their house, and share a laundry room with them. If she happens into the laundry room when we have clothes that need to be moved through the process, she takes care of them for us. I can't count the number of times I have gone to go put clothes in the dryer and instead found a folded stack of clean clothes waiting to be taken home.

Like I said, I could go on for hours about all the wonderful ways that Dee has taken me in and made me one of her own. It was actually strange for me to type her name out during this post, and I only did it for clarification, because from the time I arrived here to be with Mike, she has made me a daughter. She is Mom to me. She took me under her wing, loved me, and been everything that a mother is supposed to be to me and Mike.

She is my Naomi.

But Ruth said,‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,if even death parts me from you!’ Ruth 1:16-17

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fed Up

You know what I am sick of? Liars. And the world is full of them.

I am so tired of being told what people think I want to hear in a grand effort to either be politically correct, or to avoid what they perceive as an upset person.

Case in point, the Doctor's Eye Clinic here in our town. We are waiting on the results of some tests that were taken last week. At the time of the testing, we were told by two different people that the doctor would review the results and would get them out in the mail by the end of the week. As today is Monday and we still have no results, we call them to find out what the deal is. Mike's first call is answered by woman #1 who tells him that "oh no, it can take the doctor two or three weeks to get those results back".

After Mike tells me about this, I decide that is an unacceptable response, and for probably one of the first times in my life, I call a doctor's office to file a formal complaint. The lady that I filed the complaint with (and believe me, we know her name) tells me that she saw the doctor working on the results Friday, and that he will be in the office tomorrow and she will make sure that he gets them out in the mail tomorrow if they aren't already.

So who is lying?

You know what? It doesn't matter. I am sick of it all.

And it isn't just this clinic that does it. People in our world lie all the time now. You call the phone company for repairs on your DSL line (another incident from this weekend) and for the six times I called, I got the same story only twice.


I called six times, and was told 5 different stories about when it would be fixed and we would be back online.

Why? I just don't understand it. I try to be honest with people. I try to deal in the truth, even if I KNOW it isn't what that person wants to hear.

I just don't understand the need that people feel to lie. Are they trying not to upset me by telling me what they think I want to hear? Are they making crap up so that they don't have to check their facts? Do they really not know, and are just too lazy to find out? Or are they just pathologically lying to me for no reason at all?

I cannot tell you the frustration that I am feeling right now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where does it all go?

The time, that is.

I love this time of year, because I love the holiday season. I live all year for this season, anticipating, planning, deciding on gifts for family and friends, and getting ready in my heart. But here is the secret that nobody tells you about...

The holiday season, when you are working in a church office, is mass chaos! Well, not so much chaos, because I can't function like that, but constantly on the go, constantly moving, planning the next special service, the next Christmas event.

Who is taking care of the live Nativity, and do they have it ready?
Do we have the labels to put on the stuff we are selling at the Christmas bazaar?
Have we ordered the books for advent?
Have we ordered the advent candles?

And the list goes on.

Now, don't get me wrong, I THRIVE on this kind of busyness, so I am not complaining. I just wanted to let you all know that if I am not commenting on your blogs, if my blogging gets a bit more sporadic, it is probably because I am somewhere in the church hanging up decorations or printing bulletins, or one of the myriad of other tasks that this season brings.

I am still here, I promise :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Letter to My Father on Veterans Day


I realized this week that for all my eloquent words about our military, for all my noble thoughts about how great and heroic those men and women are, for all that I respect them and honor them for what they have done and are doing for our country, for all the times that I have thanked a veteran, there is one veteran that I have never thanked. I have never told you, Dad. I am here today to change that.

Dad, thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to love our country. Thank you for instilling the knowledge in me that our country, sometimes in spite of its flaws and sometimes because of them, deserves my respect and my gratitude.

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me that freedom is worth the price that people are willing to pay. Thank you for teaching me to respect our military, to salute our flag, to place my hand over my heart during the anthem.

Thank you for living out an example of a man dedicated to the protection of his country, and all its citizens. Thank you for taking our family with you as you traveled around the globe. Thank you for allowing me the chance to live other cultures, and to arrive at the conclusion that America is this great nation.

Dad, thank you for your example of service. For getting up each morning, putting on your uniform, and heading out our doors to protect our country, to protect our family, to protect me.

I thank you for the fact that I get choked up every time I hear Taps being played. I thank you for the fact that I outright cry when I see the missing man formation being flown overhead. I thank you for every moment that I realized how incredibly blessed we are to live in this wonderful land.

I thank you for me knowing all the words to the patriotic songs. I thank you for making the 4th of July so much more to me than a day for fireworks. I thank you for teaching me the history of our country, for pointing out our strengths and our weaknesses.

There is so much you have taught me in life, Dad, but on this Veterans Day, I want to thank you for all you have done for me, for our family, and for our country.

I remember watching the movie "Man Without a Country" with you when I was young. The story was about a man who, during a court marshall in the Civil War years, wished that he had "never heard of America". The judge granted his wish, and placed him on a boat that was never allowed to land, and the people on board were never allowed to speak of America to him. At the end of the movie, he meets a young man who is disillusioned with America, and he speaks these words to him

..."For your country, boy," and the words rattled in his throat, "and for that flag," and he pointed to the ship, "never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or abuses you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men..., behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by her, boy, as you would stand by your mother...! Oh, if anybody had said so to me when I was your age!"

After the movie was over you turned to me and told me not to forget those words. To remember that our country is worth everything in life. It is worth living for, fighting for, even dying for.

Dad, don't worry. I won't forget those words. I won't forget them, because I saw them lived out every day of our lives. I saw them in the flesh, in the most important veteran in my life...

My father.

Happy Veterans Day, Daddy


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Strength

My heart is very heavy today. Not for anything of mine, personally, but for the struggle that I see in another.

There is a lady here at the church that I work at. She is a wonderful lady, a strong woman of God, an example to the rest of us. She is, in so many ways, what I long to be in life. I have truly come to love this woman.

She has seen so much in her life. She has so much wisdom and truth that she has shared with the people of our church, and especially with the young adults in our church.

And she is struggling now. Her husband is not doing well, health wise.

She puts a brave face on it, she has so much strength in this situation. But I see the sadness, I see the struggle.

Please keep this lovely lady and her husband in your thoughts and prayers right now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Day the Wall Fell

Twenty years ago....

Twenty years ago, I was the awkward, geeky 9th grade girl in this yearbook picture

Twenty years ago, my dad was stationed in Berlin, Germany, and we had been living there for about a year.

Twenty years ago, I was at home watching a movie with my family when the phone rang. It was Brandy, a friend of mine in high school. She was calling to say they were going to tear down the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years ago, I told Brandy she was full of it, and ended the phone conversation. I went back into our living room to tell my parents the crazy story that she had cooked up this time. (Brandy was famous for outlandish tales of how she was going to be in the Olympics, about the time she swam with the killer whales, about how rich her parents were, etc). We turned off the movie so my parents could check the news, and we saw the most amazing night of our lives begin to unfold.

I don't know if everyone was as surprised that night as I was, but as a 9th grader, I had no idea that the events were unfolding in that direction. As a military brat, you are pretty aware of world situations and things that can affect your family, your friends, and your country. I don't know if the whole world was as taken by surprise as I was. Sure, freedom was spreading in Eastern Europe at the time, but the Berlin Wall? That was a forever thing.

See, we had lived in Berlin for a year before this came about. We had learned to abide by the rules and regulations that living in those circumstances requires. West Berlin was called the Island of Freedom, because the city of Berlin sat smack dab in the middle of East Germany. To get to the next piece of "free land", we had to drive a 3 hour road called the Corridor. We had to sign out with the army in Berlin and drive one road until we reached West Germany, where we had to sign in again. You had a set amount of time to make the journey. If you took too long, they sent military troops in to find you. If you arrived too quickly, they would ticket you for speeding. If your car broke down, if you got a flat tire, if for some reason, you could go on no further, our instructions were to stay in our car with the doors locked and wait for the military to come get us.

I had seen first hand the difference between East and West Berlin. As Americans, we could receive special passes to go shopping and site seeing in East Berlin. "East Passes" as they were nicknamed, were a piece of paper with your picture, your vital information. When you drove through Checkpoint Charlie to get into East Berlin, you were to hold that pass up to the window of your car. Under no circumstances were you to give that paper to the Russian guards that were allowing you in. That paper was your proof that you were an American, that you were there with the permission and support of the American Military. I remember driving through the checkpoints and being amazed that two so different worlds could exist in the same city.

East Berlin was gray. That is what I remember most. That, and the fact that people didn't smile on the streets. It was gray. It was somber. The buildings all looked the same, there were no advertisements anywhere. The Berlin Wall itself was gray. There was no graffiti on the East side of the Wall. To even approach the Wall from the East side was forbidden, and was a death warrant, carried out by the guards in the towers that were constantly overlooking.

Walking around in East Berlin was a lesson in world politics. East German and Russian military were all over the place, both in professional capacity and on their leisure time. The East Germans and the Russians were required by their own militarys to salute American soldiers that they saw in East Berlin. My father always wore his uniform when we went to the East, as a sign of who we were. At the same time, our government didn't acknowledge the validity of the Russians being in East Berlin. We didn't recognize the East German government as valid either. So my father's instructions? Ignore the salutes received from these soldiers. A salute is a sign of respect, and we don't respect their right to be here, so American soldiers did not salute in return.

There is so much history of the Wall itself that I won't go into here today, although I encourage everyone to read the stories of how people escaped over, under, and through the Wall over the years.

What I will tell you is that in my world, the Wall was a permanent structure. Did you know that the Wall itself surrounded West Berlin only? Did you know that it was built not to keep East Germans in East Berlin, but to keep them out of West Berlin? Did you know that WE were the ones that lived enclosed in a Wall? It was solid, it was menacing, it was forever.

Except.... it wasn't. In one stroke of a pen, in one night, in one official declaration, the Wall lost all its power.

We watched TV for hours that night. The flood of people didn't stop. The East Germans weren't really sure that the open borders would last, so they were pouring across into West Berlin, just in case. There were families that hadn't seen each other in almost 30 years that were reunited that night. There were children and teenagers that had never seen the flash and color of the Free West that learned that night.

I remember that we cried that night. We cried in joy for the people that were now free. We cried in relief that their struggle was coming to an end. We cried in pride that we had done our job.

We had held on. The Island of Freedom had stood strong for so many years. So many men and women from the US, British, and French military had been stationed over the years, each doing their part to stand strong and hold fast to that patch of land, that symbol of freedom surrounded by oppression. I remember the next day, or maybe the day after that, the West Berlin Newspaper ran a full page ad on the back of the paper. In English, French, and German, all it said was "Thank You".

I write these memories so that I may never forget the wonder that I saw that night. I write so that I may always keep that awkward 9th grade girl in my heart, and she may never let me forget. I write so that we can tell our kids what it was like before. I write so that people can know the struggle, the fight, the victory that took place in that city. I write because 20 years ago, I was privileged to sit in my living room, in Berlin, Germany, and watch history unfold before my very eyes. I write because I lived a piece of history.

I felt it, I saw it, I held it in my hands, 20 years ago.

20 years ago, today.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Story

I was reading over my blog list today, and catching up on new posts and entries, and it struck me for a moment how much more interesting all these stories are than the way that I perceive my own life. Do we each view our own story as the most mundane? Is this simply because we lived it, are living it, and we don't see the spectacular in the day to day?

I was thinking to myself as I read these blogs that I don't see what I have to offer that others would like to read about. I don't live on a farm, I don't have kids to post pictures of, I don't have a theme that people can universally relate to. For a moment, I sat there in self pity, wondering why I should blog, and then I remembered two very important facts.

1. I blog for me first and foremost. I blog because I have things to say. I blog because I need to sort my thoughts, I need to tell the story, I need to capture so that I can remember.

2. Nobody else has my story. That is what makes the world of blogs so fascinating to me. I can read about a journey to adoption, yet that is not my story. I can read about life on a ranch, yet that is not my story. I can read about your children, your families, your world, and yet, none of those are my story. But you know what? I can write MY story, and nobody else can.

~I can write about the life of a church secretary
~I can write about the perspective of an Army brat
~I can write about the life I have chosen
~I can write about the thoughts I have

And although each of those factors may be shared by other blogs, nobody has the story that I can share.

And nobody has the story that you share.

Blogging to me takes this huge world of nameless people and faces and gives them names. It fleshes out the people that walk down the street next to you each day. It shows how wonderfully unique each and every one of us are.

So tell me your story, and I will tell you mine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood

I don't know that I have words to explain what I am feeling about the incident at Fort Hood yesterday, but I have to try.

~Regarding the shooter. I KNOW I don't have words to describe this waste of a human being. It is a matter of taking the already horrific event of turning a gun on innocent people, compounded by the fact that those innocent people are the very ones that will give their lives to defend this country, and exponentially increased by the fact that the shooting was done in a place that these brave defenders are supposed to be able to relax and feel safe. He didn't just kill people. He killed people that had devoted their lives to protecting HIS freedom. He killed people that were in that room either getting ready to go serve their country abroad, or returning from a tour of service. He killed people that had families at home that were relaxed in their worry. The families didn't have to worry, their loved ones were on US soil, in a safe place, the time for worry had not yet arrived. The shooter is among the lowest form of human life. I am a kind person for the most part, but I have to admit that I was really disappointed to hear that he had survived and was still alive. I honestly, truly, deeply, wish that they would have killed him at the scene.

~Regarding the victims. There are not enough words in this world to explain how I feel about the men and women that serve in our military. As a child of a career Army man, I saw firsthand the love that these people have for their country. They don't enlist to get good healthcare, or free college, those are just the perks. They enlist because they believe with their whole being that our country is a place worth fighting for, that our freedom is a thing worth dying for. The ultimate goal is to serve honorably, faithfully, steadfastly, and for them to know that because of their actions, their families back home go to bed each night in safety and freedom. The men and women in that room yesterday were no less of heroes in my eyes. They were men and women who were prepared to give their life for the country, and instead had it stolen away by a mad gunman. They have all my respect, all my honor, all my love. My hand is over my heart for them. I salute the flag for them. I tear up at Taps for them. They are my heroes.

~Regarding the families. There are no words that can comfort. Please know that your country is behind you. Your country grieves with you.

~Regarding Fort Hood. The odd thing is that we used to live there. When I was in middle school, my family lived on Fort Hood for about 18 months. I know the buildings they were talking about. I drove by that main gate. I know that place. It was a place of security. I never had to worry about my dad going to work there because we were in the States. We were on American soil, we were safe. My heart goes out to all the families there now that can no longer live with that sense of security.

I don't have any witty way to wrap this post up. I will just close by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those hurt and killed yesterday at Fort Hood.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tis the Season

I saw the first Christmas decoration up in town yesterday, and it made me smile. I love love LOVE Christmas and all that it brings with it. The chance to buy the perfect present for the people you care about, the family, the times of togetherness, the songs, the decorations, the food, the warmth. Everything about the season is warm to me. Even living here in Southeast Texas, where the weather is NOT cold outside, the time of Christmas is still a time of "emotional snuggling under the blanket".

I am also really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year again. Mike's side of the family is having a family get together, and I always love those. I don't know the people there really well, even after the years that we have been together, but it is always a time of family that I love to be a part of. Even the ones that don't know me really well are always so nice to me, or they pick on me and tease me, as the occasion calls for. And the food... oh my, the food.

So what is your favorite part of the upcoming holidays? What makes your heart smile?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Visit NaBloPoMo

So I joined up for NaBloPoMo, otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month. It is an ongoing challenge to post once (at least) each day for a full calendar month. Now, I missed out on November, but I signed up anyhow, and I plan to try to fulfill this challenge in December.

The difference from IComLeavWe is that this one holds no obligation to posting comments on other blogs. This committment is to myself, a challenge to me to see if I can discipline myself into writing something EVERY day, even on weekends. So I look forward to this challenge.

And yes, it does add the blog to a blogroll so that people can visit and read if they choose to, but there are no obligations, and I like that.

This made me smile


I will freely admit that I have neglected my blog for a while now. There have been reasons, and one reason has merged smoothly into the next, and then the next, and so it goes.

I was sick for a few days, I fought demons of lethargy and apathy for a day, I took time away to be with the man I love.

I have things building up inside my head that need to be said, and I will write about them soon. They are building up like water behind a very shaky dam, and they will be released as soon as I can line them up in a steady stream. I have to hold on to the dam of my thoughts for a bit longer, or you will be lost in the flood of thoughts and observations that will gush out.

All that to say: I am sorry I have been away, I will be back soon, I have things to say.

Thanks for sticking in there, my friends!