In Honor of Friends
So long since I've written anything. Not sure if I even know how to do this anymore -- bear with me...
I am back on the blog because my precious friend Mattie & her family have just moved to Abu Dhabi. That's right -- THAT Abu Dhabi -- the one that is 9 hrs time difference from here. I had the chance to have coffee with her a few days before she & the kids went to meet their husband/dad who's been there a couple of months already, and it was a perfect example of 'bittersweet.'
Mattie's the kind of person that you can feel at ease with. A 'come as you are' friend. Ours was a quick friendship. I vaguely remember when our paths crossed, actually not very long ago, and well, we just instantly had a connection. Regardless of whether it was months in between our talking or days, we just picked up where we left off. A natural-born encourager. Not a gushy-mushy encourager, but a strong, steadfast one. A person who speaks with authority and yet still a measure of tenderness.
So as we left our coffee date, each of us getting into our own cars and driving away, the flood gates opened. I had not cried prior to that, but when I saw her in my rearview mirror, I could no longer be stoic and stalwart. I am happy that she is at last joining her husband, and I know that they have wanted so badly to be 'sent' out into the world. No, my sadness was for myself mourning the physical relocation of a precious friend who has become so dear to me.
Anyway, that's my friend Mattie. I trust that since she will be online blogging that hopefully my getting back on will be a good way for us to keep tabs on one another. I am not worried about our friendship diminishing. It will change for obvious reasons, but no, I don't foresee it fading away. Mattie's not the sort of person that 'fades away.'
And I write this about my friend Mattie as I sit here and consider the going away party tomorrow for my best friend Marcelle. YES! Another friend preparing to move. Not around the world (thank goodness), but still 3.5 hrs away. Same time zone -- small blessing. I can scarce bear the thought of not running into her at drama rehearsal or between church services. My whole heart shuts down to think about her not being close by. In fact, I was leaving a message for a mutual close friend of ours today about her party tomorrow, and I don't think that I even was able to finish my sentence, even though it was not about anything particularly sad. It was merely the thought of a party to discuss her moving that I couldn't even wrap my brain around.
Yes, I want to be grown up about these sweet friends moving away. I want to trust that God knows something I don't, and that He's got it all worked out for 'good.' That being said, I'm not seeing anything good about it as it relates to me! I feel very sad and alone and vulnerable and wonder what in the world I am going to do without my girlfriends to be a compass in my oft times chaotic life. Who am I going to call when I go careening off the fairway and into the rough?
There's no closing here. I don't have some clever way to tie up the loose ends on this. I don't know what the answer is. This is more of a rant...a 'shouting at the darkness' type of post where I am just laying it out there to say that I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with such beautiful, amazing women as friends. And right now, I am not seeing the benefit of that because within a couple of weeks of one another, they are both leaving my immediate life. And I am sad. I am so sad.
I love you Mattie & Marcelle. I will miss you more than a blog post can say.
Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?
Yeah, the title is really a misnomer. I don't suppose the bloggers have gone anywhere...I am the one who strayed.
I don't really recall why I moved away from posting. Maybe I didn't feel like I had anything to say. Hmmm, scratch that. Thinking back to the time when I stopped writing, I actually had quite a bit to say. But it was all scribbled out in handwriting in my journal...going back through a lifetime of memories that I had never paid too much attention to.
I described it to a friend that it was as though my life was going 90 miles per hour and I slammed on the brakes. And all the crap in the backseat came flying into the front seat with me, and there I sat...covered in crap. So I had to make the decision to either keep driving, hoping that just like stopping brought everything forward, that going fast again would push it all back. OR, I could pull over to the side of the road and sift through the junk I had tossed behind me. Uh, well, I quickly realized that going fast didn't make things go away...it just meant I was going at full speed and still covered in crap! So I pulled over.
And my little rest stop turned in several months of just that...resting.
So much has happened that a) one post couldn't hold it all, and b) I've lost the right to be heard since I have not been an active part of the blogosphere, so who really cares anyway?
Well, to answer that question, it doesn't matter who cares. The fact is that when we deal with our own stuff, it doesn't really matter who else knows or sees that we've tended to our own issues. That's the point of dealing with your own issues -- they're YOURS. (In this case, they're mine, but you know what I mean.) As an acquaintance of mine reminds me constantly...I can say what I want, and he will still sleep tonight. My guess is that if you were to read any of my musings, regardless of how 'insightful' or personal, that you, too, would sleep tonight.
So, where have all the bloggers gone? I am sorry to say that I don't know. But part of me selfishly hopes that they really haven't gone anywhere. But that if they do decide to step out and go somewhere that they might decide to drop by here on their way.
It's High Time for High Drama
I just got home from going with my daughter to a local theater to see a children's repertoire of Broadway selections. I know the director and her daughter, and I know some of the other parents and their kids, as well. My children had been in a musical earlier this year, so I recognized some of the cast members who were in this production, too.
Some of these kids are talented. One girl in particular had a good voice in the last play I saw her in, but tonight she was incredible. She is talented.
And there were some other kids who showed themselves to be amazing character actors.
There was no shortage of talent. But what floored me was the level of giftedness.
The most surprising point of the production was the song River in the Rain sung by a teenager and the piano player, and African American gentleman. As the teen began to sing (and this kid is gifted...not talented...he is g-i-f-t-e-d), tears started streaming down my face. It wasn't his singing voice that moved me, it was the heart with which he sang. It was this old soul in him that poured out through the music. And then as the piano player joined in, I could not stop the flood of tears. They weren't sad tears, they were tears of awe. The kind of tears that you shed when you know you are party to something amazingly unique, and special and wonderful. That you are watching someone operate completely in their area of giftedness. It was moving and inspiring. It was pure. I don't know how else to describe it except, just pure. No one was pressing to sing outside their range. No one was singing a song that was jarring for their age or ability. In fact, I tear up just thinking about it again, because it was just that special.
Alas, you are out in cyber space. You won't hear what I am speaking of, and of course, now just think I am one of those crazy old ladies who cries at movies and the telephone commercials where someone is reunited. No, that really isn't me at all. I wish I could share the experience with you, but that would take away from it, I think...if I were able to capture it completely.
So why in the world do I attempt to share it with you, full well knowing that I am not capable? Well, I do so hopefully to prompt you to think of one of those unparalleled moments in time. Not necessarily something so singular as a wedding or birth of a child...but just a random moment in time that captivated you. That bores through the crusty exterior to your very core and touches you.
I don't know what the performance dredged up in me, but I do know that I walked away envying that group of children. Yes, you heard it. I envy them because they are part of this incredible theater group. I know the director, and she pours her life into those kids. She encourages them; she teaches them; she makes them better actors, actresses, singers, dancers...and yes, better people. Those kids are learning lessons beyond 'stage left' and 'stage right'...
I didn't have that. I didn't have that opportunity to work on the craft of acting. I have always loved it, but didn't have that outlet. And I look back now and wonder 'what if?' Not 'what if' in the sense that there could have been a career. But 'what if' with regard to my self-esteem. With regard to understanding my talents. With regard to knowing where my strengths were. Learning them in your 30's is much better than never learning, but I am betting there wouldn't have been all those 'wasted' years of trying to figure it out.
So, tonight I encourage you. If there is a children's theater in your area, go support it. If you have children, and they show an interest in anything positive, support it. If you have friends whose children are in theater, go see them. If YOU have an interest in drama, find a place to exercise it...to explore it.
The stage is a wonderful place. And it can be just as fulfilling from the audience side as it is from the curtain side. Support the children in your area...you have no idea how valuable the experience is for them. And you may walk away being touched and blessed just by having gone.
Everything Old is New Again
YIKES! Has that much time passed by in my life that it is already November? I will have absolutely no archives for October. Six weeks have come and gone that I have not even been lurking on the blogs...I just haven't even touched them.
So I thought I would jump back on tonight and see how everyone is doing. And I was vividly educated on how quickly things can change. I visited my "friends'" blogs only to realize that I have been gone so long that I am not part of the conversation. I have no idea what the point of reference is. I would read one thing and then realize that I needed to go further back, and it just made me sad and frustrated.
I think of friends in my life right now where I have lost touch. (You see, it is not only blogosphere where I have checked out -- I have not been available to most anyone these past several weeks.) And now I am painfully aware that there is probably so much that I have missed with the friends with whom I do life. I am going to have to relearn what is happening. I am going to have to invest some time and energy to reconnect. And to be patient while others weave me back into their lives.
I am realizing what I love about people. Their characteristics that endeared me to them in the first place that I began to just see as 'them' and not 'uniquely them.'
Being away has been hard. Reconnecting will take time and patience. But the beauty in finding the joy in things that were once old but are new once again is a blessing tied to something that I thought nothing good could come of.
In the event of an emergency...
Is it just me, or does it seem like there is one catastrophe after another on the news?
We've had Katrina, the levees breaking, the JetBlue landing gear incident, earthquakes in SoCal and now Rita on its way. That doesn't even tap into the state and local news in everyone's area that is filled with ghastly horror both man-made and nature-made.
We sat down tonight and wrote out a list of supplies to go get at the store tomorrow so that we are prepared for the storms that are headed our way this weekend as Rita moves inland. We're not in danger of our life or limb -- our supplies will be more along the lines of creature comforts and sustenance until the power is restored should it be knocked out.
Ironically, I was talking to a newscaster in LA the other day during the course of my day, and he asked if we were evacuating. I laughed, saying that the only reason we'd evacuate here in DFW is if the air conditioner went out in our office building. Little did I know that we may experience a Cat 1 this weekend!
Regardless, because I have had a unique insight into how deeply affected even this area has been as a result of Katrina three weeks ago, I can't begin to fathom what kind of impact this storm may have that may actually arrive here! Katrina has affected media, pastors, energy companies, communications, civic and school...that's the short list. And that is just what was affected by being 'responders.' Now, in addition to the evacuees we are still hosting from Katrina, we are now being joined by the evacuees from the Southern part of our state, continuing to respond to the needs of those in Louisiana, and now bracing to take care of possible damage in our own backyards. I can't imagine how deeply that will further impact our community.
Not a complaint, not a whine. Just an observation that I don't think that we often have the opportunity to see the depth of effort that goes into preparing for and responding to something like this.
Now, back to my list. In putting it together, my husband and I realized how many areas of our household could be affected by damaged water lines or downed power lines. It made me realize how much 'automation' we take for granted. I realized how deeply ingrained modern conveniences are in our culture -- they are in our DNA! Our grocery list was struck to some pretty simple basics when we realized how much we rely on refrigeration and the microwave...so we switched modes to think "camping...what would we take camping."
I have no idea where I'm going with this. But rest assured, we are not freaked out. We're not terrified. We're not in a panic.
We lived in LA when the Northridge earthquake hit in 1994. Thank goodness we were prepared. Of course, there were days we felt foolish carrying walking shoes in the trunk, and bottled water. And of course all my friends from here thought I was crazy because of how I organized my dishes in the cabinets -- with all platewear on the wider, bottom shelves and plastic & pans on top. (But I'll tell you that I didn't lose one dish during that earthquake -- all my tupperware was scattered on the floor...but not a dish broken.)
Alright, that's the physical stuff. It's easy to make a 'to-do' list or pull one from the internet and check it off.
Now I need to think about my mental preparedness...
Am I ready for an earthquake?
Am I ready to be on a plane with faulty landing gear?
Am I ready?
I'm A Platinum Blonde
Ok -- I did something that probably qualifies as the craziest thing I have ever done.
I signed up for the American Airlines platinum challenge on June 15th -- the challenge being that if you can accrue 10K points in 90 days, they bump you to Platinum.
So with all this traveling I've been doing, it shouldn't have been a problem -- except I came up 85 points short! 85 points! And the deadline is tomorrow to get over that 10K mark.
Well, what did I do? Glad you asked.
I booked an AASuperSaver ticket to Atlanta and back. Got on an airplane at 1pm - flew to Atlanta. Got off the plane and saw that my return flight was leaving from the exact same gate -- heck, it was the same plane and crew! So I exited the plane and walked to the gate counter, got my boarding pass, took a trip to the loo, and got back on the plane and came home. Home by dinner, in fact.
It turned out to be a good thing actually. I took my laptop and went through emails and documents and got a lot of administrativia taken care of that just doesn't happen when I am at my desk constantly being interrupted.
Of course, my husband thinks it is hysterical. My friends figure it is something that only I would do. And my co-workers are excited for me because they don't have to hear me checking on my platinum status anymore after each trip!
I considered finding a platinum blonde wig to wear to work tomorrow to symbolize my new status. But alas, I'm suffering from a bit of jet lag and will just have to go in with my natural dirty dishwater blonde hair. :)
For anyone who stops in -- I would love to hear of something crazy and spontaneous you have done.
Faith-Based –vs- Faith-Placed
I took my daughter to Six Flags last night for the very first time. I remember being about her age (8, turning 15) and not imagining that anything bad could ever happen at a place filled with so much fun and laughter.
But as a parent last night, I found myself checking the structures as though I were a certified civil engineer, and assessing the maturity and abilities of the teenage ride operators as my little girl was strapped into pieces of metal and fabric and plastic that would soon rip her upward 250 feet into the air at 50 mph. And yet, all of us parents (the ones on the ground who didn’t accompany our children) did just that. We placed our faith in the talents of the designers of those rides, the builders of those rides, and the operators of those rides.
Well, of course, who wouldn’t trust the famed and noted designer…hmmm, WHO exactly DID design that ride? Well, no matter, the company who built the ride is of elite stature and no one would dare question the precision of...oh my, I have NO CLUE who actually constructed this monstrous piece of steel. That's okay, though, these ride operators are trained professionals who do this as a personal calling in line with their God-given talents...AFTER THEY GET OUT OF THEIR HIGH SCHOOL GYM CLASS!
Oh my goodness. It dawned on me that I have fewer reservations about strapping my daughter into an amusement ride and demonstrate more certain faith in people whom I can't even name and know nothing about than I do in trusting her with the Designer of an entire universe, Builder of mountains and trees and all living creatures, and Operator of hearts and souls.
Regardless of what you may believe about the existence or the nature of God, we at least have a 'biography' of Him in the Bible. If I have questions about strapping my daughter into His care, and I have a concern about His credentials, I can at least turn to any one of the books of the Bible and find an answer as to His experience and His skillset.
But I am guessing that if I were to ask the Ride Operator at Six Flag for references and a dossier that they would tell me to take a hike -- ride or go away. How dare I question their professionalism or ethics or skill set, even though I am about to put my precious baby girl in their care. And yet, God reveals Himself so fully to us so that should we have any questions at all about His intents or abilities or nature or desires, it is there for us to discover with the turn of a page. And yet, we continue to argue and question and doubt and use our 'lack of surety' to deny Him control of the spiritual well-being of our lives. But we have no qualms about trusting a string of strangers at an amusement park with our physical well-being.
Well, all this to say that I thought of the phrase 'faith-based' as it applies to programs in society. "Faith-based" implies that the faith is rooted, based, stems from something that is set, steady and immutable. But I honestly think that we tend to be 'faith-placed' in many instances -- we place our faith in others -- be it individuals, agencies, programs or institutions -- that have in no way personally demonstrated that they are worthy of our faith.
So, I am really looking inward on this one. If someone looked at my life, would they consider me to be a 'faith-based' person? Or would they see that I tend to act more like a 'faith-placed' person?