Friday, October 31, 2008

Lies, lies, lies

Yes, it's lying, er, election season. Thankfully all will be over soon, but until we wake up next Wednesday and prepare for life with Barack or John, we have to keep hearing more lies than a five-year-old can tell why he wasn't the one who robbed the cookie jar and played in the mud in his new clothes while eating those cookies and then tracked the mud and cookie crumbs in the house right into his bedroom.

While the evidence is obvious with sneaky five-year-olds, so too is the evidence of a sneaky former community organizer and his associations with left-wing hooligans. Funny how one person can tell bald face lies...and people believe him! Funny, too, how people will buy hook, line and sinker a politican's promises that he will give tax breaks to those making less than $250,000, or, sorry, $150,000, oops, less than $100,000, and smile, thanking the Messiah for the help. And what lies wouldn't be more attractive than FREE health care, FREE education, MORE teachers to provide that education, less taxes to pay for all this stuff and the promise of every chicken in a pot (oh, sorry, that was another liberal who said that).

Yes, I love election season; promises and bribes for votes. Don't get me wrong. I know my friends on the right are just as guilty. It's called vote-getting. But, I think when politicians pander to desperate people, focusing on current, but short-term difficulties while their real positions on welfare expansion, killing the unborn and increasing our government's power of intrusion in our lives gets ignored, it makes me really question the priorities of my countrymen.

Turning to the Bible, are we capable of selling out for a bowl of soup, like Esau? Are we willing to sell out for a leader who will take more, use his people and steal what's not his, like God warned what their king would be like when they demanded one instead of being ruled by God? I believe we are. We're no different than these.

We'll believe the lies if they make us feel better. But I have a sneaking suspicion that should those lies propel a certain Democrat into the White House, none of us will be feeling well in very short order. And then, like the Hebrews who sold out in the Wilderness, those who bought the lies will be screaming that they've been duped and they finally see the light. Too bad it will be too late.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Atypical Date

It was a spontaneous idea but that's what made it exciting and special. Bill had to make a trip down to Seattle and I decided I wanted to go along for the ride. We make good road trip pals and it's always good to get in some coupletime sans kids. So we pleaded with our friends to help out and, by 3:30 p.m. Bill and I were off.

We were on a mission, though. Terry, Bill’s boss, has had a relapse and now has end-stage leukemia. This also means he has to have a bone marrow transplant. At the stage he's in, the odds are not in his favor, but still, we know God can heal. At any rate, Bill was tasked with bringing fresh flowers and a care package filled with magazines, snacks, game books, and other things to help Terry, his wife and daughter, and other family caregivers pass the time more comfortably.

Terry is 55, is married to Beverly and has four grown children. He has been Bill’s immediate supervisor for about two years now, but he has worked with him teaching CPR for more than five. In fact, most of the material Bill presents in his classes he stole from Terry. I got my CPR card from Terry five years ago this fall. We have enjoyed many family meals or holiday meals at the office with Terry and other coworkers. We even spent Easter Sunday at his church this year with his family.

Bill and I arrived at the U of W Medical Center, where Terry's being treated via IV chemotherapy. It was Terry's daughter who greeted us and I hugged her gently. She is young, perhaps 20 or 21, and looks a lot like her dad. She informed us that Terry was a little feistier than usual, which makes him more aware of his pain, and might be testy and snappy with us. That would be his signal that he was done with the visit. Soon afterward Beverly, his wife came into the room, whom I hugged as well. It was my hope that my presence, another woman, would comfort them and help these brave ladies feel more at ease. I think it had the desired effect as they conversed freely with us.

He's in a lot of pain, deep in the large bones of the body, where the cancer cells are multiplying. It is amazing how rapidly this is happening. Just a month ago we were celebrating his remission. Terry does know the Lord, which is good. We just continue to trust Him for his healing, but if that's not what God will give, then we pray for comfort and courage for Terry and his family. Beverly handed us a written log of people's visits, a small beautifully designed booklet with the word Believe on the cover. Bill wrote first then I wrote of how blessed I have been that Terry has shared an office with Bill and, in made ways, has had his back. I wanted to be personal and I hope it has meaning for them.

After spending more time at the hospital than we expected, which was good, we made our way home. We talked about our lives, mostly about Terry and his disease, but also about what we believe God has called us to. It has fallen to us quite often to minister to people in these kinds of dark and uncertain moments of their life. We stopped at a Subway for a hot sandwich, chips, cookies and soda. As we continued on home Bill asked me how I liked our ministry date. And, honestly, I would rather do this than see a movie or go out to dinner. Those things have their place, I am sure, but this is when Bill and I see each other's best selves, when we are about the Lord's business, and serving together.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Car Seat Guy

With the recent hubbub surrounding Joe the Plumber, I know that there are some stories that are, unfortunately, being relegated to the background. One such story being quite nearly as remarkable yet understated. It is a story that began not long ago and very close to home, actually, right in our home.

Bill the Car Seat Guy.

Yes, Bill has been working tirelessly right here helping kids get into car seats and parents comply with the law. He has sought support from such a wide variety of sources that his trip to Washington DC was inevitable. He is flying home from this venture as I write this.

He considered going for the conservative interest but realized that he might be selling himself short, so he pondered the liberal bleeding hearts, but even there he met with limitations. So, he decided to go where angels fear to tread: the middle ground. His strategy in this was ingenious.
He attended a dinner, a very special dinner, an exclusive event to be sure. Even the food was beyond anything his wife at home has ever attempted to create.

Then he simply introduced himself as Bill the Car Seat Guy to these fellows right here, and the rest is now history in the making. And, so far, his story checks out, his certification and income taxes are current and up to date!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gutless Wonder

Just look up wimp in Webster's Dictionary and you'll see my name as a reference. This isn't a statement of self-deprication, it's a wry reality.

The truth is, goodbyes just aren't good to me. The word hangs in the doorway like a cheap tattered grey shawl. Just skulking in the corner with a sardonic grin while I pry myself away from the window pane, and force my hand frozen in mid wave down to my side. It doesn't leave when I throw laundry into the washer. It loiters while I fix meals or sweep floors. Goodbye is the lingering reminder that someone is gone. It's here and present right now as I type.

Bill kissed and held me early this morning while most others would have only just yielded to a deep sleep. He was dressed and heading out the door to catch a shuttle to the airport. His carefully selected cologne hung in the air around me like a cloud lulling me back to sleep. When our boys came charging into the room several hours later the scent was gone but his goodbye had stayed behind. I am accustomed to Bill returning the blinking tots to their beds for another few moments of rest, but it was left to me to clumsily perform this unwelcome task. Mornings aren’t very cooperative with me, as it is, so I am often picking my battles with it.

And what a cowardly warrior I am.

Someday I might properly defy loneliness by increasing my productivity. That would, of course, take quite a domestic form such as mending clothes, small household repairs, and taking stock of food and sundry items. I would rally my troops – aka kiddos – and get out of the house, take walks, and explore the territory. Later in the day we would plot more effective strategies of combating boredom and avoid the obvious questions, “Where is Daddy?”, “When is Daddy coming home?”, or “Why isn’t Daddy here?” I would plant enticing diversions, videos, coloring books, and yummy snacks throwing off the scent of sighs, groans, and huffs. Then the goodbye brazenly draped at our home’s entrance wouldn’t even get a second glance.

But, oh no, I couldn’t be that brave, that stalwart, or heroic.

I had to succumb to online meanderings between guilt trips to the sink full of dishes. I sheepishly ducked behind my cup of Market Spice tea, Bill’s favorite, and sucked on a cinnamon candy. I have even left the family room in overwhelming disarray. But, most shameful of all my failed attempts, I surrendered to mail-order shopping with Yves Rocher. And I’m entirely convinced, now, that the goodbye has moved from the doorway and is holding the remote control.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Early Snowfall

This morning was chilly when I woke up. Our boys had already left their room so I turned on our furnace and let them huddle beside the warm register. When I opened the door to their room I just sighed deeply and blinked slowly. They have developed a new strategy of making me go out of my mind. I have no idea when they concocted this diabolical scheme of theirs but it seems to be working. Let's say it looked like they were in a giant snowglobe that had toys, clothes, and diapers instead of lovely white snowflakes...and someone shook it up really hard. I would get to it later, I decided.

So, I proceeded to make oatmeal for breakfast and thought that today would be a good soup day. As I stirred up the oatmeal I wondered if our little girl would be eating any. She's been sick for the past four days with a fever and upset tummy. I called the girls down for breakfast and my intuition was correct. Having one less eater in the morning meant that I had leftover oatmeal. Reheated porridge sounds hardly appetizing so I thought it'd be a good idea to make bread with it.

Before I started on making the bread the idea of salty clear broth over gently yielding noodles wrapped my thoughts in warmth and comfort. That's when I decided to make homemade chicken noodle soup. I pulled out my family cookbook, the one with my grandma's heritage recipes. I took poultry scraps out of the freezer, placed them in our biggest pot and poured water over to almost full. My teaball that I use for the bouquet garni was missing its bottom half so I managed to put the ginger, star anise, cloves, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a coffee filter and secured it with a twist tie.

Then I made the bread. I know this recipe by heart but it's a little tricky using leftover oatmeal like this. I have to reduce the liquid by whatever amount of cooked oatmeal I have on hand. The boys watched as I mixed in the flour until I had a dough that was soft yet manageable. They love to "help" by pretending to dust flour onto the table as I knead the dough until it's just right. I don't mind their little flour-laden fingers too much.

This conjured up my inner Proverbs 31 woman-meets-Betty Crocker and I felt quite good about my productive morning. So, when all was done, the dough rising and the soup stock cooking, I sat down and started to watch the latest Saturday Night Live skit of the Obama - McCain debate. I was a few minutes into it when I thought I'd fetch my tea. When I walked into the kitchen I was stopped abruptly in my tracks like an Arctic blast of icy wind. What I saw made me want to laugh, cry, and start a rousing chorus of "Dashing through the snow..." all at once. I didn't laugh, though, or cry. I don't recall saying a word as I walked into our office, retrieved our camera, and snapped this photo. Not exactly lovely white snowflakes but my snowglobe certainly got shook up really good, this morning:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thrift Store Rainbows

Maybe it’s because I was raised on handed down clothing that I enjoy thrift stores. As a young girl I would be overjoyed when a bag of clothes, shoes, and other items would arrive to our house. My sisters and I would gather around to see what we could find and we were always thrilled to find additional things like scarves, purses, jewelry and other accessories.

Having four children, now, I am learning how to navigate thrift stores quite well. I try to steer clear of sales gimmicks like “50% off Blue Tagged Items” or tables featuring cowboy boots of all sizes, styles, and colors. Our family has a rule we strive to follow: get only what you came for. Most of the time we’re really good at complying with that rule, though there are exceptions.

Yesterday we went in with the purpose of buying church shoes for our 5 year old daughter. Given the Fall season our teen wanted to look for costume items for the upcoming Harvest Party at our church while our boys sat happily in the cart playing with toy emergency vehicles. I found two pairs of shoes; one pair looked hardly worn while the other needed a little repair. We bought both of them, along with a few other items – the exceptions.

After I finished fixing the strap on one pair, this morning, our little girl brought me the other and said, “Look, Mommy, there’s rainbows in these shoes!” There was a shiny insole that held an iridescent sheen when turned this way and that. I smiled and nodded as she went her way. I didn’t really think about what she said until a moment ago. But the profound has away of landing gently in our thoughts.

Rainbows are Gods promise to us to never again flood the Earth. It is a symbol of God’s covenant of peace with us. Raising a family can be a frightening undertaking and worry comes in like a flood, sometimes. But when I remember God’s promises to us that we will not be consumed I can walk in His peace. Like our daughter, I can wear my rainbow shoes with the unwavering confidence that God cares for me.

Guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:79