Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughts on Sir Isaac's Laws

Science has always fascinated me. Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to pursue a degree in Chemistry or Physics. I did end up with a minor in Biology, and my favorite times as a teacher always revolved around 5th grade Science classes. 5th grade allows us one of our last opportunities to keep things simple. Break things down, make them easier to comprehend.

I often wish I could turn off the thoughts in my mind. I practice every day. Some times I succeed, other times not so much. Veterans Day coming on the heels of the Ft. Hood tragedy has kept my mind busy. Yesterday, Sir Isaac Newton and his Laws of Motion came to mind. Ok, maybe not so much the 2nd law (because come on now, that 2nd one is not so easily simplified) but definitely numbers 1 and 3. Newton's first and third Laws of Motion are relatively easy to break down and comprehend. I'm guessing he probably didn't intend for his Laws of Motion to mill around in the mind of a woman who thinks too much. But, that's exactly what happened.

Newton's First Law:
A body persists in a state of rest or of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force.
I have sincere hope the events at Ft. Hood will serve as a force that changes the state of rest and uniform motion currently found within our country. As things are now, FBI officials conducting background checks for firearms are banned (by federal law) from sharing information about gun purchases with other departments...departments such as those dedicated to counteract terrorism. What?!? That's a problem.

In addition, the Army's uniform motion is most often a textbook case of "damned if you do, and damned if you don't". There were signs, clear signs, that the perpetrator was a threat. Complaints against this man were made by patients, parents of patients, and co-workers. He was simply waiting for opportunity to inflict his poison.

The Army would've been "damned because they did". Had the Army vigorously addressed the complaints, and taken action, what would your reaction have been? Chances are if you've laid blame for this merciless attack at the feet of the Army, you would've been just as quick to attack them for being anti-Muslim had they more assertively addressed the concerns. Thank you PC Police of the world. Apparently you've effectively tied the hands of many Army officials. Because of your tireless efforts, my husband and millions of others are now less safe. Because of you, one man was allowed to inflict his extremist wrath on innocent individuals...not only those who were physically harmed, but also their children, families, and an entire community. An extremist, a man who did not practice the religion he claimed but rather his twisted view of it, walked among us because the Army feared condemnation and accusations of prejudice. Thank you so much, PC Police of the world, for your compassion and concern.

The Army is now being "damned because they didn't" by many people. Let me be crystal clear: I fully believe something should have been done to prevent this. I am sick that such vile behavior was flaunted. And even with that flaunting, the behavior was shoved under the rug. But I will never "damn" anyone or anything. And, if the Army had taken action against this man, I certainly wouldn't have condemned them for being anti-Muslim, or anti anything for that matter. I would've been thankful for their courage in taking a stand against those whose only purpose in life is to destroy us, to frighten and do harm. The Army can no longer allow fear of "anti" labels to get in the way of protecting innocent soldiers and civilian employees.

I have a sincere, snark-free question: Why do we refuse holding individuals accountable for their actions...when those actions are monumental, horrific and in relation to this country? No, for some reason we choose to blame those type actions on everyone but the perpetrator. It baffles me because I (thankfully) don't see this level of acceptance and lack of accountability when acts of horror are exacted upon abused children or battered women. We want accountability for those actions, and rightfully so. But I have to wonder, what exactly do you think the children, wives, loved ones, and friends of the Ft. Hood victims feel? I'm guessing abused and battered might make the list.

We don't mind assigning blame when the actions of others are far less destructive. Someone cuts you off in traffic...your blood boils. A co-worker annoys're angered by the behavior. A well-meaning stranger, a family member or friend uses the wrong words when you are facing pain and're infuriated, you want to tell them how stupid and insensitive they are. Why are we so quick to think and feel the worst about decent people who cross our paths, our family members, and friends when they make mistakes? Or when they innocently choose the wrong words because they honestly have no idea what to say. We aren't too concerned with hurting the feelings of those we perceive have mistreated us. Too often we rush to put them in their place, or maybe we bitterly sulk, basking in our aggravation and anger.

But, an act of terror? We move around it, as if not calling it out somehow makes it nonexistent. It doesn't matter if you want to call it out or not, it happened. Terror? Oh no, we can't call it what it is. We might hurt someone's feelings. Frankly, I'm far more concerned with the hurt feelings of those who are suffering. Did the actions at Ft. Hood cause intense fear and anxiety? Because that's the definition of terror. How do you think 21 year old Francheska Velez felt in those moments? She had just recently returned from Iraq. She was pregnant, and her unborn child isn't even included in the number of casualties. Do not tell me the act at Ft. Hood was not one of terror. What must she have been feeling, this young woman carrying her child, during those moments? How about taking a little more time to consider people like Francheska, and her child?

Newton's Third Law:
To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The tragedy of Ft. Hood triggered an opposite reaction. In place of the cowardice shown by one man, we have seen the bravery and courage of countless others. In place of brutality and terror, we see expressions of sincere kindness and love.

Yesterday, all over this country, we stood together. People of every make and model, every religion, and people from all walks of life. We stood together, honoring those who have served and those who serve today. We sent a message to people like the Ft. Hood perpetrator. No matter the horror that you spread, we will be there with an opposite reaction. Count on it. And, our reaction will be just as merciful as your action was hateful. Our reaction will be just as peaceful as your action was violent. I felt blessed as I stood in a gymnasium packed with middle schoolers, teachers, Veterans, and their family members. There was a moment of silence offered for the community of Ft. Hood. I admit, given this was a middle school program, I was brought to tears as I looked at the faces of the children in that gym. They were so respectful, so full of sincerity. And, you could have heard a pin drop...literally. This behavior was displayed by the students throughout the entire hour long program. There is so much injustice, so much we can find wrong in this world. But, there is even more that is just, much more that is good. I was surrounded by goodness yesterday. I felt a renewed sense of hope.

I was especially touched by a father (a Vietnam veteran) and son (a veteran of the Iraq war) in attendance. The father spoke of his service during the Vietnam War. He said he rarely revisits that war, neither in his mind nor with his words. There is too much pain. The only story he told was of returning home, and his first stop was a California airport. He had to change out of his uniform before walking through the airport because of protesters waiting to cause pain and malign the service members. He told us his pain was finally healed as he watched our country's treatment of his son, and other soldiers. An equal and opposite reaction. As poorly as he was treated, the countless backs that turned on him...his son has received that much, if not more, support. He expressed gratitude that "our country has turned around on that one." I couldn't agree more.

External forces acting and, in doing so, bringing about change. Actions resulting in equal and opposite reactions. Sir Isaac's Laws of Motion are present, both inside and outside the science classroom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today, and every day, I remember. My sincere gratitude is extended to those who have sacrificed so much, expecting so little in return. Thank you!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"
Eve Merriam

Their life's work is our security and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- that is their legacy.
President Obama speaking at Ft. Hood Memorial Service

I remember. Always.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Heavy Heart

Today my thoughts and prayers remain with the families, friends, and loved ones of 13 who lost their lives and 30 wounded at the hands of calculated and deliberate violence. My heart goes out to the entire Ft. Hood community. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and respect for all those who responded quickly, without hesitation or thought for self, in the midst of such horror. Those responses most certainly kept the violence from becoming more widespread. I am in awe of unarmed soldiers who bravely took action, and in doing so saved many lives. Today I have a heavy heart. I am praying for the children who live in the Ft. Hood community. The children whose innocence has been wantonly stolen with vicious anger and cruelty. I pray all those facing this tragedy may somehow feel lifted, loved, and comforted.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Confessions on a Sunday

Last week in Target, I needed was obvious. Nothing major, I had simply misplaced my car keys. Two women walked past, looked at me, then turned away...pretending not to notice. It wasn't a big deal. I understand people are busy, and it was just car keys. I was appreciative when a lovely young lady walked up and asked if she could help. She was tattooed up one arm, down the other, and everywhere in between. She had streaks of bright green all throughout her jet black hair. Oh, and she had a nose ring too. As the young lady walked away, Princie said, "Mommy, she is so beautiful."
"Yes," I replied, "she certainly is so beautiful."

I know there are people who would snub the beautiful young lady who saved my day. There are those who would criticize me for encouraging Princie's opinion that this stranger was beautiful. You wonder what I'm teaching my daughter, how I'll feel if she's 17 and gets a tattoo. You think I should have responded to Princie's remark with something along the lines of: "Well yes dear, her helping us was beautiful, but she certainly wasn't dressed appropriately, and you know we shouldn't have tattoos. She acted beautifully, but we don't like those piercings." I confess. If you are one of those people, I judge you. You irritate me. I may even like or love you tons, but you irritate me. Yes, I clearly understand where our church stands. I also understand that most importantly, we are not to recognize a tattoo or nose ring. First and foremost, we are to recognize that the worth of souls is great.

I confess. I judge judgemental people. I'm highly critical of people who criticize others. I'm unbelievably aggravated by people who feel they are superior because of their religion or spirituality. I'm beyond annoyed by those who are so caught up in the letter of the law, they miss the boat completely when it comes to following the spirit of the law. And, I feel kinda bad about it. I'm going to work on this issue of mine. Because my behavior isn't helpful. And as I mentioned to a friend, I don't want to simply "tolerate" people. I want to find commonalities. I want to love those who are hard for me to love...the judgemental, holier-than-thou, critical, self-righteous...they are hard for me to love, but I desire to love them and I should. I want to fulfill God-given responsibilities that were placed upon me many years ago...that I "shall
not look upon the faults of mankind nor judge anyone", and that I "shall see in fellow beings that which is beautiful and pure".

Now don't get too excited. No matter what I do, or how hard I try, the snark can not be removed from me. Seriously, a girl can only handle so much. And there are times when OH. MY. GOSH., a person had better take a stand! But, the following article reminded me that I want no part in the rampant decline of civility in our societies.
(I must admit I was thrilled to see that "rigorous debate" gets a green long as it remains "rancor" free.)

SALT LAKE CITY 16 October 2009
The political world is astir. Economies are faltering. Public trust is waning. Individuals feel vulnerable. And social cohesion wears thin. Meanwhile, stories of rage and agitation fill our airwaves, streets and town halls. Where are the voices of balance and moderation in these extreme times? During a recent address given in an interfaith setting, Church President Thomas S. Monson declared: "When a spirit of goodwill prompts our thinking and when united effort goes to work on a common problem, the results can be most gratifying." Further, former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley once said that living “together in communities with respect and concern one for another” is “the hallmark of civilization.” That hallmark is under increasing threat.

So many of the habits and conventions of modern culture — ubiquitous media, anonymous and unsourced online participation, politicization of the routine, fractured community and family life — undermine the virtues and manners that make peaceful coexistence in a pluralist society possible.
The fabric of civil society tears when stretched thin by its extremities. Civility, then, becomes the measure of our collective and individual character as citizens of a democracy.

A healthy democracy maintains equilibrium through diverse means, including a patchwork of competing interests and an effective system of governmental checks. Nevertheless, this order ultimately relies on the integrity of the people. Speaking at general conference, a semiannual worldwide gathering of the Church, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asserted: “In the end, it is only an internal moral compass in each individual that can effectively deal with the root causes as well as the symptoms of societal decay.” Likewise, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton emphasized that the virtues of fidelity, charity, generosity, humility and responsibility “form the foundation of a Christian life and are the outward manifestation of the inner man.” Thus, moral virtues blend into civic virtues. The seriousness of our common challenges calls for an equally serious engagement with reasonable ideas and solutions.
What we need is rigorous debate, not rancorous altercations.

Civility is not only a matter of discourse. It is primarily a mode of engagement.
The technological interconnectedness of society has made isolation impossible. Of all the institutions in the modern world, religion has had perhaps the greatest difficulty adjusting to the reality of give and take with the public. Today, and throughout its history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continuously encounters the legitimate interests of various stakeholders in its interaction with the public. Rather than exempting itself from the rules of law and civility, the Church has sought the path of cooperative engagement and avoided the perils of acrimonious confrontation.

Echoing this mode of civil engagement, President Monson declared: “As a church we reach out not only to our own people but also to those people of goodwill throughout the world in that spirit of brotherhood which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Speaking of civility on a personal level, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught Latter-day Saints how to respond to criticism: “Some people mistakenly think responses such as silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are passive or weak. But, to ‘love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]’ (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.”

The moral basis of civility is the Golden Rule, taught by a broad range of cultures and individuals, perhaps most popularly by Jesus Christ: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). This ethic of reciprocity reminds us all of our responsibility toward one another and reinforces the communal nature of human life.

Similarly, the Book of Mormon tells a sober story of civilizational decline in which various peoples repeat the cycle of prosperity, pride and fall. In almost every case, the seeds of decay begin with the violation of the simple rules of civility. Cooperation, humility and empathy gradually give way to contention, strife and malice.

The need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics. As the Church operates in countries around the world, it embraces the richness of pluralism. Thus, the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement.
It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.

Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves. Only the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for the whole Church.

Latter-day Saint ethical life requires members to treat their neighbors with respect, regardless of the situation. Behavior in a religious setting should be consistent with behavior in a secular setting. The Church hopes that our democratic system will facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing. In his inaugural press conference President Monson emphasized the importance of cooperation in civic endeavors: “We have a responsibility to be active in the communities where we live, all Latter-day Saints, and to work cooperatively with other churches and organizations. My objective there is ... that we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute for it the strength of people working together.”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live and Let Live

I would be remiss if I failed to give a massive and sincere THANK YOU to Barbara. I love this woman. She understands that a person can be both snarky and compassionate, feisty and gentle, straightforward and kind. Many of our beliefs are polar opposites. In fact, she may cringe when she sees that I even referred to her in a post such as this, but that's kind of the point (not to make her cringe, but to share that even though what I believe might make her cringe, she never feels compelled to attack me or make me feel bad). She is my friend, we genuinely care about each other. She has taught me, and strengthened me often. I want to be more like her. It can be done in this world, seeing things differently, finding a common bond, not participating in stereotypes and generalizations, sharing with respect and can be done! Barbara is a "live and let live" kind of woman. And, she makes beautiful jewelry with more care than you can imagine! So really, what's not to love?

Sometimes it makes me sad that while I'm a "live and let live" woman, others refuse to afford me that same, simple courtesy. Politically, spiritually, religiously, socially...I do not give a rat's rear end how you choose to live your life as long as you leave me (and my family) alone. We don't bother a soul, we just go about minding our own business. We help people in need, with no expectation of thanks. We volunteer without being told to do so by our soon to be state-run media. We don't care what religion you are, what race you are, or how many tattoos you have. Why are you so concerned with changing us? I don't care if you eat meat or only things that never had a mother. Why do you care what I eat? I don't care if you hunt, as long as you aren't hunting me. I don't care if you smoke and choose to take years off your life, as long as I don't have to pay for it and you aren't blowing it in my face. I don't care what kind of lightbulbs you use. Why is my lightbulb choice so intriguing to you? I don't care if you use only the greenest of cleaners, so why do you care if I want to Clorox everything in my house? Just don't come visit.

Now there are some in my church and community, some holding similar political views, and they disagree with this philosophy of mine. Some people who are not members of my church, but who are also Christians, have a problem with this philosophy of mine. And of course there are people on every side of every ridiculous debate that will find something about how I live that bugs them. Their philosophy is not as much a "live and let live" line of thinking, but rather a "convince everyone else that we are right". I don't give a rat's rear end about that either. I'm beyond caring. I live my life in a way that inevitably brings about questions regarding my spiritual beliefs. My Christianity can not and will not be removed from the fiber of my being. It's who I am. Same goes for my social, political, and moral views. I don't want to push my beliefs and views on others. I also do not want others pushing their beliefs and views on me.

Having said all of that, I'm tired of feeling as though my beliefs are under attack. Every time I turn around, something I believe is being trashed. It's becoming quite disturbing actually. And all the while, Isaiah 5:20-21 keeps coming to mind.

My experience with creepy guy lit a fuse in the depths of my soul. I'm not a victim. I will never be someone's victim. Do not mess with me, got it? Again, as I said earlier, I don't bother anyone. I don't follow innocent people and intentionally scare them. I don't force anyone to come here and read my rants. I don't push my beliefs on others. But still I feel attacked, as do many others who share values and opinions similar to mine. Just don't be surprised when I respond to your attacks, when I stand with unrelenting determination to protect my family and those I love. I'm happy to forgive and forget. I'll even turn the other cheek. But just so you know, the cheek you'll be staring at isn't one of the two on my face. And I won't be turning any cheek until after I've let you know just what I think.

But remember, this will only happen if you attack me. I will never start a fight or argument of any kind. But don't look at me all shocked and tormented if you bring it on and I respond with more than just walking away. I'm NOT criticizing people who choose to walk away. That's my whole do things your way, I do things mine. And YES I CAN be a woman full of compassion, tolerance, joy, virtue and all things lovely while also refusing to be pushed around! I'm just not the person who's going to sit by and pretend our world isn't falling apart. I'm more of an Ida B. Wells kind of girl.

I'm going to take a stand against my rights and my liberties being stolen. This country was founded on religious freedom, if you don't like it then go live somewhere else. If you want to live here, I fully expect you come here legally, and it wouldn't hurt if you made at least an attempt at speaking English. Why do I feel this way? NO, it's NOT because I hate immigrants. That's just ridiculous nonsense. (One day I'll tell you all about where my people came from and you'll be shocked.) It's about having a shred of decency, and a little respect for those who came before you, those who did the hard work and put forth the effort to do things the legal way! It's also about your children, and helping them have the best life possible. If you do things the legal way, and help them learn the language, you will be giving them endless opportunities. Now, if you don't live in this country, what do you care? I'm sure it's easy to pass judgement when you don't live here. It's always easy to have an idealistic picture of how things "should be" when your life is completely unaffected by the issues.

Back to religious freedoms. They are quickly becoming a thing of the past...well, if you're a Christian. But we know there will be times we are persecuted for our beliefs. So we can't be all that surprised. I stand firmly against abortion as a means of birth control or to "get rid of" an "unwanted"/"unexpected" pregnancy. Some say that means I am opposed to women's rights. (Excuse me while I go vomit.) I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. Some say that makes me cruel and mean. (Excuse me, I have to vomit again.) Frankly, I could not care less who you love, if you were born loving people of your same gender, or are choosing a certain lifestyle. But, I don't think that just because you have a particular lifestyle the definition of marriage should be forcibly reinvented. I also don't believe you should be ridiculed, beaten, tormented, etc. because of your lifestyle. And I ask that you refrain from ridiculing, beating, tormenting and defacing the property of people who believe as I believe, and live the lifestyle I live.

This road of tolerance, love, compassion and peace goes both ways. I'm tired of it being a one-way street. The only people expected to extend hands of mercy, peace, tolerance and grace are Christian, heterosexual, socially conservative, American whites.

Why do politicians and the media fuel the fire over race? I'm raising two boys...white boys to be exact. Let me tell you...I am sick and damn tired of my boys being made to feel as though they have to apologize for who they are. I'm not keeping my mouth shut on this one anymore! I have two very polite, open-minded, compassionate boys (this is what I hear from teachers, other parents, pretty much anyone who meets them). I will fight to the death making certain they are not demonized by the leftist liberal media, unions, and "social groups" in this country. I find it disgusting that they are pushed back in an effort to let others get ahead. You can push them down. You can withhold things from them. But you will never keep them down. They are good, smart, kind-hearted boys. You can't keep kids like that down! It's on socially liberal America. It. Is. On.

CNN and Rick Sanchez, you've heard from me more than once. You'll keep hearing from me again and again. Not that you'll listen, but at least I can say I tried. Your "Being Black in America" series as well as your "Being Latino in America" series made for a wonderful discussion in my home. Eleven Year Old wondered why you didn't have a series called "Being a White Boy in America"....he thought you could interview him on
how it felt when he blew the lid off his standardized tests in Maryland, but wasn't allowed to be acknowledged because he was white. Only minorities could be recognized. Doing his best was diminished because of his race. Yes, he understands we don't do our best for praise, etc. We do our best because that's a good way to live. But he also sees right through your ruse. You don't care about being black, white, or latino in America. You care about making sure the race fire is fueled. I guess I just can't understand why it always has to be about one group being perpetrators and another group being victims. Why can't we all help each other? Why this idea that for one person to succeed, another must be held back and kept from success? Why can't we just be people? People who aren't defined by race and religion? That's what I hope for, but until it happens I can't just sit by and allow my sons to be mistreated.

But, I can't and shouldn't blame CNN. Why didn't I pursue the issue last year? When my son was ignored because he's a white boy, I should have opened my mouth, loud and clear. But, I wanted to be a good Christian woman. I have a kind heart, and I'm not stupid. I know there are issues of great concern facing all people in this country. I didn't want anyone to think I don't care about the struggles of minorities, because I do care. I didn't want to cause a problem. What?!? The school district caused the problem. As an advocate for my child, I should have opened my mouth! Ida B. Wells would've been disappointed in me. She was an advocate for truth. She fought so that all people, regardless of color and gender could stand together. I don't believe she would be at all happy about what happened to my son. Ida Wells believed in equality for all, equality that shouldn't come at the expense of others. She once said, "One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap." Make no mistake, I will be neither dog nor trapped rat.

Oh my goodness, I feel much better now. I have to credit Em over at
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit for getting me fired up (in a good way). She is so smart, and her Friday's Food For Thought always gets me off my butt and ready to take on the world!
In a Live and Let Live kind of way, of course!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Road Less Traveled

Thursday afternoon I had a frightening experience. On my way home from a doctor visit, I was followed by a creepy stranger. At first he was in front of me, trying to get me to pull up to his car--jackass jerk didn't know I've read entirely too many Reader's Digest articles to fall for that trick! Then he sped up, slowed down, sped up, turned around, etc. until he ended up behind me. It's a long, icky story and to be honest, I don't want to revisit details. Thankfully, even though I was nervous, I kept my wits about me. I pulled into a fire station. The firemen were absolutely wonderful. In fact, creepy guy drove past the fire station twice while I was there, and I seriously thought one of the firemen was going to blow his top...he was so angry the idiot had scared me. And, I was scared. But, I was also angry. I loathe bullies and people who purposely intimidate others. The firemen suggested I stay at the station for a while just so we could make sure creepy guy didn't return.

When I left the station, I held it together until pulling safely into my garage. With all of my heart, I just wanted to call the Captain...everybody has a "go-to" person, and I just wanted to hear the voice of my go-to guy. The fact that I don't have that luxury right now was suddenly unbearable. I started crying, and by the time I made it into my living room I was sobbing. I was a crumpled heap on the floor, a crumpled, messy, wailing heap of a woman. No exaggeration, there was wailing. I was broken down. In fact, I haven't cried like that since my daughter died. And all those years ago, it never crossed my mind that I would cry like that ever again. But oh, I did on Friday afternoon.

If the wailing stopped for a moment or two, it was just so I could scream at the top of my lungs. "I can not do this. Do You hear me? I can not do this again. You better listen to me this time," I could hear myself bellowing. I was even pounding my fist on the floor. After 10 minutes or so, I just stopped. What exactly is the "this" that I can't do again, I wondered. No one's dying, I'm not preparing a funeral. What is the "this" that has shaken me to my core? I really didn't believe it was creepy guy following me that had pushed me to this point. But, I didn't have time for self-analysis right then. My 6th grader would be walking through the door at any moment, and this was not the picture he needed to see.

That night as I knelt beside my bed, I felt a wrestling match coming on, and I wanted no part of it. So, I simply stated: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for keeping me safe today, thanks for keeping my family safe. You and I both know I'm tired. I can't do this. Can't do any of it. Thank you for the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for all of my blessings. I can't do this, ok. I'm going to bed now. Amen." I slept a solid eight hours. I was shocked when I woke and realized it was the best sleep I've had in a long time.

My head was clear. My heart still felt a little shredded, but it was all coming together for me. No wrestling required. "This" was actually a number of things. None of which I cared for, and all of which began to flood my mind...vulnerability, weakness, lack of power, and the biggie: lack of control. When my daughter died, I had never felt so powerless. Never before, and never since--until now--have I had such a complete lack of control in my own life. There is nothing I can do to make "this" stop. My go-to guy will be gone for a year. I have no control, no say, no power in that. In my mind, vulnerability is neither impressive nor attractive, and vulnerable is just exactly how I was feeling.

I was still in bed as I pondered these things. The following thoughts flowed clearly through my mind: "You are exactly right. You can't do "this" again. What are you trying to prove? You've wrestled with God before, what did you learn? Why would you choose to wrestle that very same match again, when you don't have to?"

I was reminded of Jacob, when he was asked: "What is thy name?" He was forced to remember his name, who he was, and how he got to that place. It was as though God was whispering to me, "Child, why are you forgetting that you already know your name? I've taught you so much about the woman you are. Can't you remember? I've already blessed you with the tools for "this"? You've already wrestled this match."

At that moment I had a choice to make. 13 years ago, I responded as Jacob did. "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name." (Genesis 32:29) Do I take that road again, or instead do I rely upon the answers and tools I've already been given? And so, Friday morning, I knelt beside my bed, just as I had the previous night. But, my prayer was not the same. "Dear Heavenly Father, You and I both know that I can't do "this". You don't want me to, and neither do I. We both remember I did "this" alone--by choice--many years ago. I'm not taking that road again. I know my name. I don't have to ask for Your name again, I already know it too. I'd like to take a different road, one I haven't traveled much."

A road that is about acceptance as opposed to wrestling with things I can't change. I don't so much like it when people flippantly throw around the phrase "Let Go and Let God". Having wrestled once, and coming so close to wrestling again, I understand there is nothing flippant about letting go. But if you can actually do it, the payoff is amazing.

I feel a renewed sense of peace. I am not powerless or weak. I may not have control of all things, such is life. But, in the past God allowed me to earn many tools, and I'm in full control of how I use those tools. I have the power to use those God-given blessings and tools, ones I wrestled and fought to receive, as I travel a new road.

It may seem unfitting to end with a quote from reality tv, but I've sunk to much lower levels before. The Biggest Loser is my newest reality series addiction. In the past, I haven't watched because I wasn't fond of Jillian Michaels. I thought she was too hard on the contestants. I have a friend who suggested I watch it anyway. Oh my goodness, I love it! The contestants are dedicated, open, and honest...with the exception of one whack-job, but there's one in every bunch, right? A few have even sacrificed their spot on the show so another can stay. These people are truly inspiring to me. And, Jillian cares about them. No doubt--she's cocky, and super tough on them, but she genuinely wants them to succeed. Last week, she was training a contestant who was scared and feeling defeated. Jillian's response to the woman made me pause the show. I had to rewind it until I could get the whole quote jotted down correctly.

Jillian: "You just don't want to let go of the story. That's why you're afraid. And until you're ready to step into a new life, and write a new story, you're just wasting your life. And your life's not going to change."

I'm writing a new story when it comes to "this". I don't have to prove anything to anyone, including myself. I'm becoming ok with not having all the control. I'm understanding that letting go and catching some of what life throws in your face (without fighting it off) doesn't mean you are weak and powerless. Sometimes we've already learned the lesson. Sometimes, instead of wrestling another match, it's preferable to use the tools we have...step into a new life, and walk a road we haven't traveled much. I won't waste another minute of my life on "this".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blessings and a "Hilarious" Girl

Please tell me I'm not alone on this one. I miss my kids while they're at school. Can't wait for them to get home so I can gush their cheeks. But, oh! my! gosh! 4-6p.m. kicks my tail. No matter how much I plan, prepare, gear up for it, know it's about to happen---those two hours still manage to waylay me. I stand in awe of 4-6p.m. Such power, such fierce determination to transform me into a beast.

Yesterday at 5:00, I was feeling frazzled and nowhere near on schedule with dinner. That's just about the time my neighbor showed up with dinner. She didn't ask if we needed anything, didn't ask if we liked what she was making, if it was ok if she dropped by with food. Nope. She just showed up, handed me the meal, and left. Left me standing on the porch with a hot casserole and mouth agape. That was the best dinner I've had in a long time.

This morning as I was cleaning toilets, the doorbell rang. This time it was a lady from church. I've spoken with her exactly three times. "Sorry to just drop in," she said, "but you've been on my mind." She handed me a bouquet of beautiful, bright yellow Spider Mums (a favorite of mine, but she didn't know that).

The blessings of strength and comfort I'm receiving can not be denied. I know people are praying for my family, and we can feel it. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and good vibes. Every bit is appreciated!
Last night Princie was reciting lines from the new Barbie and the 3 Musketeers movie. Things like "don't mess with the dress" and such. She was successful in her attempts at making us laugh. It wasn't over the top funny. Well to us it was, but you know how it is. Some things are only that funny to the people you share your home with. We were asking Princie to repeat this little "booty dance" (sorry Snarky Mama, but that's what it is) she was doing. When she tired of our requests, she flopped onto the floor with a big smile.

Princie: "Mommy, I'm pretty hilarious, huh?"

Me: "You sure are Princie."

Princie: "I mean really MamaMia, did you ever even dream you could have such a hilarious girl."

Me: "Actually, yes, you are exactly the girl I dreamed of."

Princie: "Oh that's good. I'm happy I made your hilarious dream come true."
I have a confession to make. My profile picture is old. Like, oh, 20 pounds ago old. But, I leave it up to remind me of my goal...lose the 20 and be able to see my eyes when I'm smiling. As of now, my cheeks tend to cover my eyeballs when I smile.

I needed a new dress for Eight Year Old's baptism. I took Princie shopping with me. I tried on dress after dress with her narrating in the background. "That's a thumb's up," or "That's a thumb down," she'd say.

Me: "I don't know, I think this one makes me look a little chubby. See how my back bulges in the back?"

Princie: "What do you mean? Like where it's all squishy sticking out?"

Me: "*heavy sigh*---yes honey, that's what I mean."

Princie: "No, you aren't chubby. I think you are just only beautiful. You aren't fat either. Just beautiful."

Me: "Oh my goodness little peanut, thank you."

Hours later, at home, she comes into the living room crying hysterically.

Princie: "Mommy, this is so bad. So, so, so, so, so bad."

Me: "What's wrong baby?"

Princie: "I told a lie, and I know telling a lie is so, so, so, so bad. I'm sorry I told a lie."

Me: "Ok, well let's talk about it, and you can make it better. No worries."

Princie: "I lied when I told you that you aren't fat. You are actually (insert image of Princie squinting her eyes while pinching her thumb and index finger together) a little bit fat. I'm sorry I lied to you."

(Me to Myself---I'm just sorry Princie's decided to go all Honest Abe on me.)

Me: "Ok then, you said sorry, I forgive you for telling a lie. Now, how 'bout you bring Mommy two three or ten Reese's PB cups to make it all better."

Friday, October 9, 2009


disclaimer #1: I feel some rambling brewing. I've got a lot rushing through my brain and little time to make sense of it all...equaling a messy post that's entirely too lengthy. Hope you're comfy.
disclaimer #2: This post is not open for debate. You believe what you believe, and have every right to do do I. I've decided I don't blog to educate, change opinions, open minds, etc. If you don't like what I write, go get your own blog. All rude, ugly, nasty, etc. comments will be trashed, flushed, promptly sent into oblivion. Normally I don't moderate comments, but even I have my limits. In addition, I will find sheer pleasure in doing away with anonymous comments. If you don't have the guts to stand behind your nastiness, you don't deserve the privilege of being heard.

I found this little gem on one of my favorite blogs called
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit...

No surprise it spoke directly to my soul. (And not just because the three colors used are my favorites.) No, it spoke to me because that's exactly how I feel. A person can speak their mind passionately while also treasuring peace, kindness, and compassion. Thanks
Em, you know I think you're a rock star!

Along this line of thought, my favorite Dr.Seuss quote: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(From The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost)

I've always found this poem intriguing. While the poem is often used to teach and preach the wonders of nonconformity, I see something else. Frost writes he will tell the tale at some point in the future. At this point, it's impossible to know if the sigh will be a peaceful kind associated with "the good ol days", the sigh of exhaustion, or even possibly the sigh of regret.

And what about "the difference"?
It's still too soon to know if the difference will be for better or worse.

I can't say that the Captain and I have always taken the road less traveled, but we've frequented that route more than once or twice. At this point, 16 years and 3 months into our lifetime together, I am telling this with a "sigh". It is a sigh of peace mingled with exhaustion, but zero regret. And, it has most certainly "made all the difference".

It wasn't love at first sight, more like love at second week. But, the day I met him, I believed we would become the very best of friends. I was right. We were engaged within 4 weeks....he only waited that long to propose so people wouldn't doubt our sanity. Funny, huh? Pretty safe to say we were taking our own road from the very beginning.

Friday I waved goodbye to my hero. Do you think he is leaving his family for the deserts of Iraq because he is a warmonger, because he likes to fight, or because he believes the ways of his country are superior to the ways of others? Wrong, wrong, wrong. If that's what you think, you couldn't be more wrong.

He is leaving because it's his duty. He is leaving because the United States Army paid for the Captain to attend medical school. Our family has a debt to pay. Before med school, he went to Chiropractic school. We owned a practice for a while and quickly learned some tough life lessons. In a nutshell, we lost everything....except each other, our integrity, and our families. After more prayer and fasting than I ever imagined, it was clear that med school was next on our road. This man heals, it's what he does. (If you could hear the tone of respect and appreciation in the voices of his patients and coworkers, you'd understand.) There was really only one way to make it happen---an Army scholarship. So, in 2000, that was the road we took.

It became our choice because we didn't have many other options from which to choose. He had the grades, the MCAT scores, and knocked the interview outta the park. But truth be told, because of where we lived, our options were limited. Had he been a female and/or an ethnicity other than Caucasian, our choices would have been numerous. Well, that's what he was told by the head of admissions. Along with, if you wait just one year, we can accept you. Meaning: we've already accepted all the white males we can this year, you're a little late this year because we have to meet some numbers, which I can't say anything else about or I'll be in trouble. (Some of you may not want to hear that, but truth is matters little whether you like the way it sounds or not.)

There was a time when that truth didn't sit well with me. That truth and I were not friends. Now I know that I've been blessed with too much good, too much beauty and kindness in my life to be bitter. Our road has made me laugh, cry, smile, cuss like a sailor, wail, and the list goes on. But Friday, as I waved goodbye to my hero I was proud. Not all pride is arrogant or haughty. I felt proud just to know this man. And as I looked into those beautiful blue eyes, I couldn't have been more thankful for the road we have traveled together.

The Captain knows I've felt for a very long time that our men and women should just come home already. He knows I felt this way loooooong before it affected our family so directly. The people our soldiers are putting their lives on the line for...those people have been fighting since time began, and they will be fighting when time ends. Their oceans of differences are just too vast. Maybe in the beginning they wanted change, but I don't think they want that now. Because now they see more clearly that change, peace and freedom, those things are costly. It would be lovely wouldn't it? If freedom and peace could just be handed to us, wrapped up all neat and tidy in a pretty little box. Peace can't always be delivered that way. We can pray, hope, and hold hands singing "We Are the World" until the end of this earth...but people continue to make their own choices. And reality is that peace sometimes requires work and sacrifice. Sadly, work and sacrifice are sometimes a far cry from neat and tidy. (If you've ever grieved you know what I mean.) The irony of peace is that you often have to walk through hell to get there.
I don't really see the Iraqi and Afghan governments ready to take that walk. I saw them more willing when very little was asked of them. If they aren't willing to fix their corrupt governments, and fight the Taliban so they can live more peacefully...just let them be. Reality is often a tough pill to swallow. We are not the saviors of this world! Let them do their thing, and we can get back to the business of our own country. Because goodness knows we have plenty of our own corruption, education issues, oppression, and domestic violence to face right here at home! I'm pretty much over the whole "we want you here, but we don't, but we do" mentality. I'd like us to try and clean up our own back yard before addressing everyone else's.

Of course I had to mention all of the above to the Captain one more time before he left. His response? "What we think doesn't really matter does it? I took an oath. I made a promise to fulfill responsibilities. It's my turn to take care of those soldiers who are also fulfilling their responsibilities. The soldiers I will be caring for are trying desperately to help others have a better life. Bad people and unfortunately some very innocent people are hurt in the process. But those soldiers put themselves in danger, trying to help others have peace in their communities. And I'm going to care for our soldiers."

The Captain was right...what we think about how this country ended up over there, what we think about decisions that have been made since 2001, the feelings we have toward the Congress that voted to send us there, feelings we have toward a Congress that now fails to support those who sacrifice life and limb to fulfill duties, feelings I have toward an administration that clearly does not respect those who serve this country...none of it matters, none of what we think or feel matters to the people calling the shots. But, we won't stop thinking and feeling.

And I will stand firm and proud of my hero. He is humble and kind. He is loyal and paying a debt to the Army that funded his med school. He cares about the soldiers who risk their health and even life. I wonder if the attack on our country had happened in 2000, instead of 2001, would we have taken the same road? I'm embarrassed to admit I think I would've been too scared.

*sigh* All I know for certain is that two roads diverged. The one we choose has made all the difference. And I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm more than ok.


Do you know who Denis Mukwege is? He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserved the award. So, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Dr. Denis Mukwege. I'm sincerely embarrassed that the President of the United States won this award over you, and I wish he would give it to you. Since we all know that won't happen, I'm giving Dr. Mukwege the Snarky Belle Peace Prize. (Which if you ask me is now worth just as much as the Nobel Peace Prize...minus the cash of course...since the once prestigious award has now been made a complete joke of because for the first time in history it's been given based on aspirations rather than actions.)

Dr. Mukwege heals torn bodies, broken hearts, and shredded souls. He does those things literally, not with eloquent words spoken from a podium while reading a fancy teleprompter. He is actually in the trenches fighting a war against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Did you know (as of fall 2008, according to CBS news) more people have died in that war than Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur combined? Dr. Mukwege is a true advocate for Peace. He doesn't even waste time talking, he just acts. PLEASE learn more about the doctor. (I couldn't get the video to post here.) Truly, you will be doing yourself a great injustice if you don't take time to honor this hero. A champion for bruised and battered women. Thank you Dr. Mukwege, and again I'm sorry you haven't been properly honored. But then, I'm guessing that's not why you do it anyway.


Why Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize:

1.) He is not George Bush...and I'm not sayin' that's a bad thing.

2.) It was strictly political. How does a Peace Prize winner send more troops into Afghanistan? Joke's on you Mr. President. Your award comes with strings attached, and they look very much like the kind that dangle from a puppet.


Little Jill had me laughing with this one...and I laugh so as not to cry, because I'm convinced this world is spinning out of control. I've posted her reaction in its entirety because maybe you wouldn't click on one more link, and then you'd be missing out:

On my trip to Target this morning for diaper rash cream. I heard the news on NPR.

And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to . . .

Barack Obama

To which I responded out loud to no one:
He's done nothing. NOTHING.

They played the audio at the press conference. Audible gasps are heard after the announcement. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought he was undeserving.

Even the expert they were interviewing said "He has done nothing to merit this award"
Apparently, because you're THE OBAMA you get all sorts of accolades you don't deserve.

The expert noted that Europeans LOVE the Obama, but Middle America, not so much.

We all know why. Because in Middle America, you earn your rewards. You don't get International awards because of your "ideas". You have to prove yourself, and that he has not done. Even the expert said it. In fact she said the deadline for the nominations was 12 days after he was elected. 12 DAYS.

She went on to say that it is all about his Vision of Hope and Change, and that he can lead the international community to come together for peace. Let me reiterate. He had done nothing. But he "can" in theory.


So scoot over Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa. What did you guys ever do for Peace?

You could have saved yourselves a lot of work and time by just talking about change.

That is what we want to teach American kids. You don't have to do anything, and you can get a highly prestigious award (or what used to be).

Next up: Obama get's MTV's artist of the year award for singing along in the presidential limo. (question is will Kanye cry foul and take away his moment? hmmmmm)


One little funny to wrap up this rambling post. Yesterday Eight Year Old walked into my room. He had a grin that was ear-to-ear, accompanied by the twinkle in his eye that melts hearts.

Eight Year Old: Hey mommy, I came up with a great idea. A reeeeealy great idea, you won't believe it.

Me: Cool, what is it?

Eight Year Old: I figured out how we can get rich.

Me: That sounds fantastic, tell me. How?

Eight Year Old: So we just get our money and make copies of it. Just start making our own money on the color printer. It's a good printer. That way, we can do whatever we want. We never run out, and if other people need some we can give them some too.

Me: Well, that would be perfect except for one small's illegal.

Eight Year Old: No way.

Me: Ummm, yep. People go to jail for that sort of thing.

Eight Year Old: Well isn't that what the government does? Just make more so they can spend more.

Oh yeahhhh, that's my boy!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gasp! Oh My! What The?!?

Tsk, tsk, tsk...listen up IOC, you really need to go back and read the memo.
The memo explained, in great detail, all about The Chicago 3. Seriously, the guy is a god. And those two women? Well they are total goddesses. The 3 of them are worshipped. Why are you not worshipping at their feet like the other intelligent, morally superior people of this world? How could you not understand The Chicago 3 believed just showing up, just gracing you with their collective presence would seal the deal!

You didn't get the memo? Well, I don't know how you could have missed it.

I'm worried about you IOC.
You have not bent to kiss the arses of Their Holiness, The Chicago 3.
Do you know what happens when you do not bend to kiss those arses? It gets ugly, there are consequences. You may be called racist, opposed to reform, bitter, greedy old white men, ignorant, irrelevant...shall I continue? Nahhh, I'll stop there, surely you get my point. Oh wait, one more consequence I should warn you of...if any twisted wingnut does something completely stupid or unconscionable, it will be your fault. Why? I don't know exactly. I'm just telling you what the big news gods said.

I don't know if the egos of The Chicago 3 will be able to stand this. IOC, apparently you don't understand the gravity of this situation. This could be devastating to their delusions of grandeur. They feed upon the praises of their followers. Have you not noticed they walk with their noses in a completely different atmosphere? I mean, they got swagger. And all good followers know you don't mess with their swagger.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Thank you sweet Carly. I don't really have adequate words, but I want those who read this to know what you did. Carly gave me a Recognition of Life certificate for my daughter. You can read here to understand why this gift is so valuable...priceless.Thank you again for your thoughtfulness Sarah.
And, thank you Barb for you.

I'm not the smartest or most articulate, not the skinniest, prettiest, the coolest, or the wealthiest...definitely not the wittiest, I'm not a world traveler or a rock star. But let me tell you what I am. I'm honest. Because of that, you can trust me. And today I'm making a promise to those of you currently in the throes of grief, sorrow or disappointment.

I promise the anniversaries that are now greeting you with despair and hurt...those anniversaries will not always come barging in with such ferocity. Someday they will knock gently, and with a little more compassion. They will kindly wait for you to open the door of your heart. While the longing and sadness never completely leave you, and at times memories, smells or sounds will unexpectedly flood your mind and heart, thus taking your breath away...there will also be peace.

Happy 13th Birthday to my firstborn child. You are being loved and remembered by so many today, people all over this world. Amazing. I want to thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty of written words. It's one of many gifts you have given me. Even as a child I loved to read, but your influence has taught me to cherish the art of words.

From The Looking Glass, by Richard Paul Evans:
"I consider with wonderment the path which has led me to this place of tranquility. Though one does not forget the wounds of the past, scars can bring gratitude if we will consider the healer. There is not a day that I do not think of her. Though I have peace in my heart, it only makes my longing for her more clear."

From The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran:
"And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again into your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you may say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable."

©2003 Susan Noyes Anderson, His Children, Vantage Point Press
We make of Life an enemy or friend,

depending on our hospitality...
our choice to welcome Her or let Her be,
our right to denigrate or to defend.

Her face is ever changing as the moon,
yet She is fixed and forthright as the stars.
Her gifts are wisdom, joy and battle scars;
and all must dance, unbidden, to Her tune.

Life comes to us unbridled; shall we hide?
Or will we, through the pleasure and the pain,
embrace the greatest heights we can attain
and smile upon the world with hearts flung wide?

I am learning to smile upon the world with my heart flung wide. I promise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thanks for the Smile

Rainbow Daisy
Yesterday my cousin called. She told me she's ordered flowers for Friday, and she'll take them to the cemetary. A bouquet of rainbow daisies tied with a bright lime green ribbon...because she thought maybe that's what a teenage girl would like (my girl would be 13 on Friday). I couldn't agree more. And the whole thing just made me smile.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Lifeline

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Breather

I'm officially stepping away from the computer for a while. My heart and my brain aren't so much feeling this spot right now. And, for some reason that makes me feel guilty. Each day that passes without finding the time to read your blogs, comment, etc. leaves me feeling like a "bad" blogging friend. That's why I'm making it maybe I won't feel guilty.

We laugh a lot in this house. I count that laughter as one of my greatest blessings. Lately, I just want to hunker down with my people and enjoy life. In the not too distant future, the Captain will be deployed. When? All we know is that it will be much sooner rather than later. So I say, commence the enjoying of life and laughter.

I am feeling the need to build up my reserves of energy, positive thinking, strength and faith in my own abilities. I want to reignite passions that don't revolve around the woes of the world, politics, czars with creepy beliefs (such as compulsory control of family size and allowing animals to sue us in court) and obsessively checking others' blogs (if you people weren't so funny, talented, creative, wise, etc. I wouldn't have this obsessive need to check your blogs!!)... things like reading, music, teaching, and seeing the beauty in mankind. Those are passions I once felt deeply, but in the past year have allowed to dwindle.

My recent epiphany helped me remember so much about who I really am. I'm working on getting those thoughts together. When I get those formed coherently, I'll post and then promptly return to my hunkering down. Now the mother hen in me is a bit nervous about stepping away, so may I ask one small favor? If you have some monumental news (or even small news), please let me know! It's not like I want to be banished to a deserted island, I'm just taking a breather!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mmmmm, Kool Aid Tastes Goooood

Thank you Sue for sharing the following video and giving me a laugh today!
Sue rocks.

Thank you Fiauna for your most recent post.
You have done a great service by raising awareness.
I agree that helping others is exactly what we should be doing; however, pledging to be a servant of a man is not something that makes me fact, I find it beyond creepy. No one should misconstrue this and insinuate that I am opposed to lifting and helping others. I'm just not a fan of celebrity ramblings and I find it sadly amusing that none of these people thought service was important before November 2008. I'm also concerned so many have forgotten that our elected officials work for the American people, not the other way around. I respect that Fiauna mentions not rushing "headlong into a political debate". I appreciate the thoughts she shared! Please read Fiauna's post. It's full of sincerity and common sense.
Can't beat that!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And So It Begins.....

Did you know that having an epiphany can wear you slap out? I've had a few in my life, but this most recent one? H.U.G.E. I mean really huge. And, I'm tired now. Haven't even had the energy to tell my precious husband or SnarkyMama about it. Haven't had the energy to write about it, but it's coming...soon. I've heard people say maybe the reason for a tragedy or heartbreak is so that we can help others in their times of sorrow. I will never believe that. In fact, I don't find that the slightest bit comforting. What I do believe is that when you survive heartbreak you can choose to turn it around. You have the power to lift, comfort and guide others. Blessings and miracles will manifest themselves through others who have walked the path you face. There is an amazing woman I've met through blogging and she has taught me things I never knew about myself. I'll write about it when I can find the words and energy.

September is so predictable. Every year it begins, bringing along the familiar sounds and smells and cool air. All of which transport me right back to 1996. I haven't really "recycled" posts before, but today I make an exception. I wrote the following close to one year ago. It's true, some things never change.

~September 14, 2008
It's almost too much to process, the changing of seasons coupled with my oldest child's upcoming birth/death day (September 25). I walked outside this morning and felt the crisp fall air settling in on my world. In one moment I feel both freedom and suffocation. It is so strange, and no number of years will change that.

I wrote this poem a few years ago. It still holds true today.

I guess it always will.

How did I get here?
In this raging sea, and I can't swim.
Do I fight the suffocating darkness,
Or just let go?
I am alone now.

I am fighting to live, but only because everyone is calling my name.
I am growing tired, too tired to fight.
Darkness is my day,
Cold is my embrace.
I'm breathing, but I am not alive.

Outstretched hands all around me,
But none to pull me out.
I can't find the surface.
I give in to the pain,
Darkness is comfortable.

And yet, somewhere in my mind,
I know that my soul will never let me go.
My soul offers hope.
And with hope, a gentle voice whispers air into my lungs.
I have strength.
Strength to touch the One hand that can guide me to the surface.

I am free.
I am alive.
Light is my day.
Warmth is my embrace.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Defensive....Who Me?

Lately I've had a hard time quieting my mind. My thoughts are playing MarioKart in my head. (You totally understand what I mean, if you play MarioKart like I do...which is mostly crashing into everyone else, getting turned around/driving backwards on the course, and knocking into every roadblock there is.) Pretty much a jumbled, chaotic mess of thoughts bouncing and bashing into one another: making sense of this new chapter in my life, finding my niche, Army life, politics, war, stillbirth, faith, hope, poverty, elitists, and the list goes on and on.

This morning I read a BYU commencement speech that was recently given by Elder M. Russell Ballard. As I read, it became clear that I often live my life on the "defensive", "waiting for the other shoe to drop", etc. While Elder Ballard's speech was directly related to my particular church, it struck many other chords with me. His wisdom can be applied to practically every aspect of my life. I defend my faith (to Christians I'm defending with things like: YES, Mormons ARE Christians. NO, I do not believe that I can buy my way into heaven with good works. YES, I do believe in grace. To atheists, agnostics, etc. I defend my belief in Jesus Christ with things like: No, I am NOT judging you. No I am not being nice so that later I can attempt to convert you...I just kinda liked you and thought we might be friends), I defend the longing I feel for my stillborn daughter, I defend my love of Dr.Pepper (the non diet, and completely caffeinated kind), I defend my conservative values, my sometimes liberal values, defend my passion for politics, defend my love of being in bed by 9 p.m., defend my snarkiness...defend, defend, defend. And frankly, it's exhausting!

In an effort to turn over a new leaf and begin "engaging" rather than "defending", I have a few posts brewing. For now, I leave you with a portion of Elder Ballard's speech. Again, it deals directly with life as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But, I'm guessing a little less defense (in all areas of my life) might help with the MarioKart in my head.

"In our interactions with others are we expecting always to have to defend ourselves? If so, I think we need to make a course correction.” Elder Ballard said. “It is inconsistent with where we are today as a Church and as a great body of followers of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Ballard referred to recent research that suggested Mormons can sometimes appear defensive to those who are not members of the Church. The study said that when Mormons are explaining their beliefs, they couch their language in terms that suggest they are expecting criticism.
Among the reasons for this type of reaction is the long history of persecution that Mormons faced during the early days of the Church, which included an extermination order from the governor of Missouri in the 19th century.
“That is now an indelible part of history. You have heard the stories of hardship and sacrifice since you were a small child. And yet this isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore. Could part of the defensiveness that others sometimes see in us suggest that we still expect to be treated as a disliked minority, forced to flee to the West?”
According to Elder Ballard, the growth of the Church is increasing its prominence and bringing public attention. He noted the Church is now the fourth largest church in the United States and that Mormons are found in nearly every community.
“This prominence alone ensures that the Church is going to be talked about more and more, and that Latter-day Saints are going to find themselves in more and more gospel discussions,” he said.
In suggesting the tone Mormons might adopt in responding to criticism, Elder Ballard referred to the Church’s response to a cable network airing a dramatization of its sacred temple ceremonies earlier this year. The statement explained, “As Catholics, Jews, and Muslims have known for centuries, such attention is inevitable once an institution or faith group reaches a size or prominence sufficient to attract notice.”
He also explained that too often Mormons allow others to set the conversational agenda, and subjects such as the long-discontinued practice of polygamy become the focus.
“Whenever you are having a conversation about the Church, you should try to make this a point. We follow Jesus Christ. We try to live as He taught. That’s the basis of our faith and our lives. This is the strongest non-defensive position you can take. You don’t have to defend or justify anything when you are basing your position on the teachings of the Son of God, and the fact that you are doing your best to keep His commandments,” he said.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And It Makes Me Wonder

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by men, or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more than what happened in congresses?"
~Neal A. Maxwell

Friday, August 21, 2009

Partisan Politics...Clear as Mud

Healthcare is a "right", but life isn't?
You can go ahead and file this entire debate under: Things that make me go hmmmmm?!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lost, Found, and Failing

My energy and drive to unpack boxes.
A sad little puppy, lost & roaming around the house because she doesn't know what to do with herself. (Ok fine, so I'm the "sad little puppy"....I miss my kids. I want summer back! And sending your "baby" to Kindergarten, thus giving you loads of alone time, is HIGHLY overrated!)
I stink at sending kids back to school, especially Princie the Kindergarten girl.
I stink at being home alone.
I should be unpacking boxes, but I move around the house like a zombie, just waiting for my people to get home.

My desire to create a separate blog for political rants and ramblings.
A renewed sense of "If you don't like my thoughts, go somewhere else, bite me, etc." A push to keep standing and one way of doing that will be staying right here in MY spot. My time away has put things back in their correct perspective. I made this spot, I come here to feel free, and I'll be darned if anyone is going to make me uncomfortable in my own spot! So, please forgive my temporary insanity.
My commenting on others' blogs is tremendously lacking right now, and I apologize. My goal is to be fully back in action next week!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Today my little friend passed away. When death rears its ugly head, I'm quickly reminded of just how selfish I can be. He is okay now. I know it. He's no longer in pain, no longer suffering. And for that, I am grateful. But, I'm devastated. I'm hurt and disappointed. My heart breaks for all of us who are left behind, who no longer have the pleasure of being graced by his presence on this Earth. I do not worry and fret over what happens after this life. I am not afraid of death. I'm afraid of the pain it leaves in its wake...the feeling that your chest has been ripped open and your heart shredded.

And most importantly, what about his parents and two sisters? I feel physically ill as I think of the days that await them. I don't even have words for the aching I feel for them.

Do you think maybe my Victoria was one of many awaiting this precious little guy's return? Is it possible that they could share a hug, and know of my love for them? I believe so.

There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not a mark of weakness,
but of power.
They speak more eloquently
than 10,000 tongues.
They are the messengers
of overwhelming grief,
of deep contrition,
and of unspeakable love.

-Washington Irving

Friday, August 7, 2009


Well I've finally made it home. I am looking forward to getting caught up on all of your blogging goods. And, I have tons of pictures & stories to tell. But, today is not the day.

Today, I am pleading for your prayers on behalf of my little boyfriend and his family. The little guy is not doing well. My heart is too heavy for words to express it. He should be starting kindergarten this month, not lying in a hospital bed with erratic vitals and unresponsiveness. This child is one who laughs and loves freely. He is the happiest kid I've ever known, and in the past weeks has reminded his family to "smile even though our hearts are hurting". Truly an amazing child. And I will be forever honored to know I was his first crush. Funny isn't such silly, trivial things like being a five year old's first crush or remembering a smile and wave nonchalantly shared in a preschool hallway can suddenly become the very things we cling to in times of heartache and sadness. The tiny things that I never would've imagined I'd someday be thanking God for...but today, that's just what I'm doing.

Please pray for him. Pray for his sisters as they are beginning to fully realize the severity of this situation. Please pray for his doctors. And, of course for his parents. They are facing heartwrenching decisions. Decisions that no parents should have to make. Many of you are all too familiar with the pain they are facing now and will face very soon....if they do not get their miracle. The Sliker family needs peace and comfort, please pray they can feel both. Thank you! Sincerely.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can't Quite Catch Up

Maybe I just forgot how long it takes to unpack a house and family? I believed I would be closer to truly "settled" by now. But, not so much.

It's Tuesday, and I'm just getting around to posting the poem Sue wrote for The Captain. It's Tuesday, and I haven't checked in with any of you...or left comments, which is one of my favorite things to do. It's Tuesday, and the kids and I are headed to Mississippi (hard to believe I haven't been there in two years) tomorrow morning...early...I need to go to bed. It's Tuesday, and that means in just a few days, I'll be 5th row, in Memphis, at the AMERICAN IDOL CONCERT!!! WOO HOO! Snarky Mama is performing the ultimate sacrifice and giving me her ticket. I can't believe it. This means it's true...she loves her daughter more than she loves her some Adam Lambert! UNfreakinBELIEVABLE! I will most definitely share some pictures from this blessed event!

Now for the poem.You may not "get it" because Sue was A-MAZ-ING with how she added personal touches and incorporated the "inside" family jokes. But, this made us laugh, and cry, and laugh some more. Happy 40th Captain, and Happy 16th Anniversary! I love you "most and best"!

A Birthday Tribute to Jared on the occasion of his 40th birthday

There couldn’t be a better day
to celebrate the birth
of Jared, the most perfect and
good-looking man on earth.

This view includes no bias, for
as all can plainly see,
J-Rad makes Pitt look like the pits
and shames McConaughey.

And yet he’s modest to a fault,
despite his many skills.
This guy does more than look good,
he dispenses shots and pills!

You got it; he’s a bona fide
D.O., a woman’s dream.
Okay, he has one weakness…
He’s a sucker for ice cream.

And chocolate chippers dipped in milk…
with crushed red pepper, please!
(Some oddities are not offset
by medical degrees.)

Some oddities are not offset
at all…Take the remote.
JJ has two speeds only: warp
and slow as an old goat.

But no one wants to get his goat
on this, his birthing day.
And strange or not, his family seems
to love him anyway!

They love his crazy dancing, and
his cardigan so blue.
They even love it when he says,
“Let’s make a plan.” It’s true!

They like it very much. They do!
“Are we a team, or not?”
They even like his “Popeye legs,”
“steamroller,” and what-not.

His stubbornness? Okay, it’s cool.
His watch obsession? Sure.
The Andersons are loving folk,
who patiently endure.

More than endure…They’re proud of him.
Of course they are! Just think.
If he inhaled a case of Mountain Dew,
they wouldn’t blink...

Because they know if it were bad
for them, he wouldn’t try it.
Besides, he’d never drink the regular…
only the diet!...

The same is true with Cinnabon,
a problem in the past.
These days, he says “Can’t eat that!”
Which means, “Go and buy one, fast!”

Oh yeah, you bet. They know the code.
His family “hears him” well.
That’s why they are “survivors”, who
turn basement lights off well.

They always pay attention to
this man they idolize.
They give him gifts so they can see
crazed glee in his blue eyes.

(Well, not just for that reason, for
they’re givers…to a fault.)
There’s nothing they won’t do for him.
Of their earth, he’s the salt.

A stubborn and sarcastic guy,
who’ll tease you to a fit,
old Jarrell’s still the best around…
and that includes his wit.

It’s dry as dry can be, and honey,
that’s the way we love it!
Sure, he’s a Kansas City fan,
but he can rise above it.

Or not. In Jared, those poor Chiefs
have found a faithful man.
Their losing’s taught him what it means
to be a loyal fan.

And he is ever grateful!
Well, okay then, maybe not.
(At least he’s learned good coping skills,
and those are worth a lot.)

When Natta Splatta’s mad at him,
he handles it with grace.
He whistles loud as loud can be
to find his “happy place.”

He also seeks his happy place
in movies, golf, and running.
He finds Braveheart, The Patriot,
and Gladiator stunning.

On TV, he likes basketball…
(That’s college ball, not pro.)
Chris Farley or The Office seems
to be his favorite show.

He checks out Bernie Mac re-runs
as well…These make him laugh.
His loftier self likes sculpting
to indulge his artsy half.

Oh by the way, this artsy self
IN NO WAY is involved
with “wrestlemania,” an issue
yet to be resolved.

But let’s stick to the pleasant things
like Chloe’s “true love’s kiss”
and Cole’s painful encounter with
the pitch that couldn’t miss!

Hey, ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.
Cole and his dad are a’ight.
(And so are Cade and Dad, who love
to banter day and night.)

Speaking of banter, have you heard
how J-Rad wooed his bride?
Apparently, he made quite sure
that she’d be by his side.

She’d only been in Provo for
a day or two, at most,
when she encountered Jared, in
his role as flirty host.

Church had been canceled due to snow,
so Natalie’s good bud
led her to an apartment filled
with cute guys, not one dud!

The place was packed, but J-Rad said,
“Sit by me; I don’t bite.”
She took it as a challenge and
did not put up a fight.

In fact, she didn’t fight at all…
Four weeks, and she was dust!
In love…engaged…embarrassed, too…
she broke her homegirls’ trust.

She’d promised them she wouldn’t wed,
but Jared had his ways.
It wasn’t love at first sight, though…
just love at fourteen days.

He lied to her right off the bat.
(This truth is sad to say.)
He fed her Olive Garden food,
a fact he’d not convey.

Instead he said he’d done it all…
cooked every single thing.
Did he ‘fess up? Of course! Once she
said yes and wore his ring.

But all was quite forgiven when
he made sure to agree
that, like Natalie’s folks, they’d wed
in Washington D.C.

He wanted his wife happy, and
he gladly paid the price
in cost and inconvenience. Sigh.
J-Rad is really nice.

He is. Why not admit it, with
all kidding said and done?
At church, home, work, or anywhere…
his rep is number one.

He knows that love, not money, is
the gift that makes hearts sing…
and yet to meet his family’s needs,
he’d give up everything.

He’s cradled babies in his arms,
rocked them to sleep, and fed them.
He dearly loves his children and
has kindly, gently led them.

He’s been an anchor for his wife,
a loving friend and teacher.
He’s always by her side and goes
where others cannot reach her.

This poem is getting personal,
so let’s change points of view,
exchanging “he,” “she,” “they” and “them”
for “I,” “me,” “us” and “you.”

Henceforth, the poet hands this poem
into Natalie’s care.
Her voice is needed to explain
the things she wants to share.

Thanks, bard. Okay, I’m taking over.
This should not surprise.
I’ve never been a shrinking violet,
and that still applies!

It’s all about us, Jared.
Start to finish, you and me.
In those first days at BYU,
we sealed our destiny.

A chiropractor you were first,
but finances were tough.
You feared that, as our family grew,
we might not have enough.

And so you took a leap for us
by entering med school.
You took on stress beyond belief
and never blew your cool.

What’s more, you never blew us off
as husband or as dad.
However sleep deprived, you never
yelled or made us sad.

In fact, you made us happy!
Family first has been your creed.
Bedtime stories, hugs, and board games…
You met every need.

You always have; you always will,
in good times or in sorrow.
No matter what goes wrong, your hope
is for a bright tomorrow.

We’ve felt the soaring joy in life.
We’ve borne the sinking pain.
We’ve walked through days so dark it seemed
we’d never smile again.

When we lost our Victoria,
your heart was broken, too.
How did your know the words to say?
The loving things to do?

That day I knew she’d leave us,
just before she left my womb,
you came and knelt beside me, in
the shelter of our room.

You took my hand and held it tightly.
Safety filled my soul.
You helped me tell our little girl
that one day, she’d be whole.

We told her she had changed our lives.
We told her of our love…
We promised her eternity,
united up above.

And then, we sat in silence, but
my heart could not be still.
I wanted, just once more, to feel
her move, to know the thrill…

of her sweet life inside me, ebbing
now. You bowed your head,
and placed it on my stomach as,
together, prayers were said.

We fervently poured out our hearts,
pleading for one last sign
of all she was and is to us,
and of God’s hand divine.

We prayed and then we waited, but
we didn’t wait for long.
Our little daughter said farewell
with one last kick, so strong…

that your head bounced. A miracle!
Pure light engulfed your face.
We’ll not forget the blessing of
that sacred time and place.

Our joy is in the journey now;
we take nothing for granted.
Your life and mine grew richer with
each seed of sorrow planted.

Today our lives are rich indeed.
In you, my soul finds peace…
and warmth and hope and laughter,
wrapped in love that will not cease.

Sometimes I think of half a dollar bill
in one, small casket.
I wait to hear a question and
the dear voice that will ask it.

“Do you still have your half a dollar,
Daddy?” she will say.
I know you’ll answer, “Yes,” because
you carry it each day.

And you will share that ice cream that
you promised her, together,
as all of us look on. One family,
sealed in love forever.

You are my very dearest friend.
I trust you with my heart.
You’re with me when I’m in your arms
or when we’re far apart.

I love you when you’re tough and strong
and when you’re soft and sweet.
I love it when you cook for me.
(Best food I’ll ever eat!)

I love you when I’m Snarky, and
I love you when I’m Belle.
I even love your singing in the shower.
Can’t you tell?

I love you when it’s easy, and
I love you when it’s hard.
(But if you ball my covers up,
you’d better be on guard!)

You are the Captain of our ship.
That’s why we’ve made a fuss.
We hope this poem has let you know
how much you mean to us.

So Happy Birthday, soldier…
40 years, and going great.
It’s time to get your party on.
Hey y’all, let’s celebrate!

This poem presented to Captain J-Rad
on the occasion of his 40th birthday

With love from Chloe, Cole, Cade, Victoria
and Natalie…Your crew.

May every dream you dream be yours
And every wish come true!

Thank you Sue, for your role in giving Jared this priceless gift!