Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Daily Dose of Courage

It's here. The end of the school year, with its mad dash to cram in every activity, program, project and ceremony imaginable. My kids don't get out of school until June 19th, and we move the very next week. There is something requiring our attendance and/or attention almost every single day until then. I'm not gonna lie...I feel like I am scrambling to keep my head above water. No need to list everything because any of you reading this know exactly what I mean. Most people I know are busy and overwhelmed. Lately, I actually have to remind myself to breathe deeply and remain calm...it's as though I'm constantly on the verge of panic. I feel like I'm frantically bustling around all the time. It's not a pretty sight.

This has led me to think a lot about courage. Courage to face new chapters in life. To face the daily batterings of stress and tasks. Sometimes I wish courage came in pill form. I could take it each morning with my Synthroid. But then, I guess courage would lose some of its value if we could simply swallow it with water. Instead, I need to breathe slowly and deeply, spend more time on my knees, read my scriptures, and remember that everything will slow down soon enough. Maybe I can even enjoy this crazy chaos? Is that possible? I'm not sure, but I'll give it at try.

During the next few weeks, I won't be here in this spot as often as I'd like to be. I won't be leaving you as many comments as I wish I could. Can you forgive me? Thanks. Even though my time in blog world will be extremely limited, I'm always sending happy thoughts of love, peace, and hope your way! Don't forget that. And now, I leave you with some of my favorite courage quotes:

"Courage is to feel the daily daggers of relentless steel and keep on living." ~Douglas Malloch

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says: I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Ann Radmacher

"The most difficult of decisions are often not the ones in which we cannot determine the correct course, rather the ones in which we are certain of the path but fear the journey." ~The Locket, by Richard Paul Evans

Friday, May 22, 2009


It's hard to know what to make of "reality" television. I'll never believe people behave in front of cameras just as they would if no one was watching, taping, intruding. "Reality" t.v. is a fantastic distraction (as my last post clearly shows). But the truth is, it's not even close to reality.

I have a favor to ask. This Memorial Day weekend, as you enjoy activities with family and friends, could you please take some time to remember the reality of war? And I'm not talking about the politics of it all. I'm talking about something of far greater importance....the willingness of one human to sacrifice his/her life for another. If I could wish a dream of mine into reality, we would have no need for defense, no reason to send our men and women into harm's way. But not all wishes come true, do they?

I believe in God's word, the Bible. Through my scripture study, I have learned that true peace will come to this Earth only when Christ returns. The battles mortal men have fought for centuries will not be solved with weapons and armies. That's reality. But another part of reality is that we protect ourselves and those who are defenseless. We shouldn't allow innocent people to suffer at the hands of horrible dictators. We should offer protection from tyrants like Hitler. Offer the hope of freedom to those who are oppressed. Offer protection from those who thrive on enslaving their countrymen, if not with iron shackles, then with the figurative shackles of fear, hunger, poverty and lack of education. That is reality. I hate war. I wish that tyrants and genocidal maniacs could be "talked down". I wish we could help others without the price of pain or suffering. I wish that it could be done in a neat and tidy manner. But, that isn't the case. And I can't stomach thoughts of mankind sitting idly by while others are tormented and treated mercilessly.

I sincerely appreciate those who voluntarily serve their country. I admire their willingness to defend the defenseless. I am in awe of their ability to place others above themselves. It isn't my place to judge the reasons why a person joins the military. I am just thankful for the job they do. I'm disgusted by anyone who dares to cast stones at the men and women who serve this country so selflessly. These soldiers earned our respect the moment they signed up to do a job that most of us can't begin to fathom. Regardless of how you feel about war, the bottom line is, you can have an opinion about war because someone was willing to stand up for you.

Many people have forgotten what Memorial Day truly means. It's not about cook-outs and trips to the beach. It's not about the start of summer or a day off work. It's about the fact that we have opportunities to enjoy those things, thanks to the sacrifices of others. It's a day to show reverence and respect for those who have paid the ultimate price for us. We owe a debt of gratitude that can not be repaid. At the very least, we can take time this weekend to focus on reality, rather than the multitude of distractions posing as "reality".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Snarky Mama: EXPOSED!

Snarky Mama and I don't always agree. Are you shocked? It happens. There are times when you'd think the two of us come from entirely different universes. In fact, we've had heated conversations about a lot of things that really matter. Things like why I believe she should live on more than just water, Diet Coke and a few slices of bacon (yes TuTu's Bliss, you and Snarky Mama are both lovers of the bacon). We also really get into it when it comes to her undying loyalty to people who, quite frankly, treat her like crap more often than not. That's for another day. And, we don't always agree on religion even though we belong to the same church.

Today, I'm going to share something big...I mean really big. A difference of opinion that could shake the very core of our relationship. American Idol. I'm okay with the outcome. Snarky Mama? Well, not so much.

From the beginning, my mom was as Adam Lambert fan. In the beginning, I was indifferent. But as time went on, the guy grew on me. He grew on me because I truly appreciate art as well as outstanding performers. Adam Lambert is by far the most amazing "artist" to ever step foot on the American Idol stage. I get it. But, I still wasn't a fan. (To tell you the truth, nobody this season really won me over, no one made me want to vote....not like Chris Daughtry did....oh Daughtry, those were the good 'ol days. The days when I would dial until my finger was numb.) I appreciate art, but that doesn't mean I'm drawn to all kinds.

Ok, back to this season. I liked Matt Giraud. Snarky Mama really couldn't stand the guy. She mentioned a mole or something ridiculous like that, I don't know...but good grief woman, how shallow can you be? Week after week she went on and on about this Lambert kid. She even resorted to incessantly emailing Eleven Year Old, in an effort to brainwash him. Bad, bad Nana.

Like I said, I know Adam Lambert is a gifted artist. The guy is an unbelievable performer. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him. But, I don't care for the scream, and I'm not in love with falsetto. Also, I don't like eyeliner on guys guyliner (even when my beloved Daughtry wears it, I don't like it). I find it distracting. It's just not my thing. Moles aren't really my thing either, but I (unlike Snarky Mama) am not shallow. Not liking someone because of a mole=shallow. Finding guyliner distracting=a simple observation.

But forget the cosmetics of it all, I actually prefer the voice of Matt Giraud (except for when he used his falsetto too much, and not very well). But, he sings and that's what American Idol is about. I know Adam Lambert is a fantastic performer, I just don't think his voice is as great as his stage skills are. And let's face it, when I play a song on my iPod, I'm not seeing the performance. It's all about how the notes hit my ears. And I prefer notes to be sung, not screamed at me. But Snarky Mama? Well, she's ALWAYS going to go with whoever has the best stage presence, outfits, hair, nails, and makeup...regardless of the talent. Ughhh, how can a person be so superficial? Especially my own mother! I thought I taught her better. This hurts, it really hurts.

I can only think of one way to help my mother. Today the truth must be revealed. Today, I expose the basis of my mother's Lambert obsession. It all boils down to one word: CHER. That's right, Snarky Mama loves Adam Lambert not for who he is, but for who she thinks he can become. You see, my mother's world will be rocked (and not in the good way) when Cher leaves this earth. Before this season of AI, if my mother had outlived Cher, it wouldn't have been pretty. But now she can sleep peacefully. Never fear because she's found Adam Lambert! I don't know if this means Cher is manly or Lambert is womanly, and I don't really care either. (But if you think about it, they are oddly similar. Really, go ahead. Think about it...because what else do you have to think about? This stuff matters people!)

Your dirty little secret is out Snarky Mama. You don't care about Adam. Stop masquerading as some lover of Adam Lambert. You don't love him for who he is. You love him for who you want him to become. You are a sad, sick little woman and I hope you get the help you need.

P. freakin S.
Oh I can't stand it when I have to come back and explain myself with a p.s. Since this post, and since Snarky Mama's scathing comment, she and I have talked. FOR THE RECORD...I am NOT judging Adam by his guyliner! I haven't judged the kid at all. Seriously, I respect that he took the show to a whole new level. I enjoyed watching as he did it! Also, I never said I thought Kris Allen was a better singer or performer. He's not, and I find his facial expressions absolutely painful to watch. I just said, while I appreciate Adam's gifted artistry, it doesn't draw me in as far as music goes. None of them really drew me in this season.

Snarky Mama wants me to be clear that she loves Adam for Adam, not for who he reminds her of. And look, I had no idea there was some WHACKED OUT "Christian movement" on behalf of Kris. I find that disgusting and just plain STUPID. I don't care if Adam is straight, gay, or goes both ways. I don't care is Kris is straight, gay, or goes both ways. I watch AI for entertainment purposes only. I don't watch in hopes of finding my kids' next role model. So, I'm sorry Snarky Mama if some people didn't vote for your precious Adam based on their self-righteous judgements. But, don't throw me in that camp. If I had known that was happening, I probably would've voted for him just to spite the "movement". So there. And get this, Snarky Mama says I'm in "Adam denial". What? She says I'm the one with the problem. I'm beginning to think we both need help!

Monday, May 18, 2009

She Wasn't Briefed on the Briefing

Poor wittle Nancy Wancy...did those big, bad, nasty CIA bullies mislead you?

Nancy, Nancy, Nancy, you don't read my blog do you? Months ago I mentioned you were going to have to stop whining and blaming. Learn to form coherent sentences besides your standards: "Bush lied." , "The Bush administration misled me.", etc. While those statements contain truth, when that's all you have to offer, you become less than credible...and you don't sound too smart either.

Look Nancy, I never wanted you to fail. I never wanted you to be such a colossal embarrassment. I simply wanted you to put your big girl panties on and get the job done. But repeatedly you do nothing more than point your finger at others, regurgitate your Bush-bashing rhetoric (which let's face it, takes little to no original thought), and stare blankly like Bambi in headlights.

Why didn't you take notes back in 2003? During those meetings, when you were so cruelly misled, it never crossed your mind to jot a few things down? Bummer for you, because the CIA did. Oopsy! I mean great, big oopsy! Big girls, in big girl panties,we know to always take notes! I don't make one phone call regarding my household without jotting down notes! You run the biggest House around, and you don't feel the need for notes? Interesting.

Big girls, in big girl panties, also know you might want to be careful when you say things like: "I knew about waterboarding in 2003." Ouch, how badly did that sting when it came back to bite you in the butt? If you felt so misled, why in the world didn't you mention that LAST week when you made the above remark? In your haste to attack the Bush administration and begin some torture investigation, you spouted off with: "I knew about waterboarding in 2003." Once you felt some heat, your handlers told you to come back with statements like: they misled, they lied, blah-blah-blah. So let me get this straight, it took you several days after admitting to knowledge of waterboarding before realizing you felt misled. Oh, okay.

Do you even have a spine? Stand up woman! You are infuriating me! At best, you are just another politician who makes horrifically misguided decisions. If you knew in 2003, I don't care how it was presented to you...you should have done some thinking. If you are that easily misled, you need a new job! Seriously, who takes anything that comes from any government agency at face value. And, if you do, I don't want you representing me in any position. Because that means you don't have what it takes to get the job done in a respectable manner.

Nancy, I'm disappointed. From your actions I gather you thought your gender alone would be all you needed to find success. Being the first woman Speaker and the first successful woman Speaker are NOT the same things. I know about fifty women who could do your job, and do it well. I don't give a sorry rat's rearend if the Speaker is a man or a woman, I just want the job done right! It's obvious from that vacant look in your eyes, you are so far outta your league, your head is spinning.

There's no way you can pedal fast enough to fix this one. But luckily, you have spin doctors surrounding you...they do incredible work, especially when it comes to the back-pedaling part. And once again, the politicians will come out smelling like roses, another government agency (one that isn't perfect, but does help keep us safe) takes the hits, and the people left screwed are (as always) the American people.

Way to go Nancy. What exactly have you done to improve anything? Apparently you are only adding to the multitude of problems we are facing. I have some big girl panties you can borrow. Holy crap...I just figured out why you wear pull-ups! It's easier to take the sting of things biting you in the butt through the padding of a pull-up. Problem is Nancy Wancy, you are an adult! You should be accountable. You should take the sting when it's yours. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't be Speaker of any House.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gettin' It Done

(Don't miss the video below this post.)

Often I become overwhelmed when thinking about all the problems in this great big world of ours. Because really, there are times when just getting through a "normal" day is all I can do. Add to that thoughts of genocide, people starving, children with no opportunities for education, and honestly, hiding in my bedroom for the rest of my earthly existence sounds inviting. There is so much to take in, so many hurting and hopeless. What could I possibly do to make this world better? Well for starters, I have to focus on my children. I have to raise functional, open-minded, compassionate, kind human beings. And, I want them to be "thinkers". Because all the "doers" in the world began as "thinkers". Rather than becoming completely overwhelmed by all that ails this world, I can get started in my little corner. Do all that I can right here, right now....one step at a time.

While I would love to hop on a plane, and find myself in one of our world's countless aching countries armed with hope and the resources to make a difference, it's not my time. But I pray, with every fiber of my being, that one day I will have the opportunity. For now, I'll prepare myself by being a "thinker". I'll open my eyes, mind, and heart more frequently. I'll educate myself on issues, even if I can't change things. When my time does come, I'll be ready.

It's good to know there are people gettin' it done. "Doers" who most certainly began as "thinkers". My DSF (dear sister friend) Valsy introduced me to the story of some phenomenal high school students. I think you'll find Mallory and Meredith O'Malley, as well as their fellow classmates at Saint Pius X Catholic School (in Kansas City, Missouri), to be more than a little inspiring.

Did you know that Southern Sudan holds the world's largest displaced population? Due to the horrific effects of war and genocide, two generations of Southern Sudanese have no education, 85% of the population is illiterate. Currently, over 300 children do their learning under a tree in the village of Turalei. During the rainy season (May-October), there is no school. But one man would like to change all of that. Turalei is the home village of Manute Bol, a former NBA player. His goal is to build a primary school for the children of Turalei. The primary school will welcome Darfurian children and Southern Sudanese children, in an effort to show some sign of reconciliation for all of Sudan. This school will cost around $150,000 to build. Thankfully the O'Malley sisters and their classmates were up for a challenge.

Mallory and Meredith serve as co-presidents of the Letters of Compassion (L.O.C.) group at Saint Pius. The group was founded in hopes of raising awareness of world social issues such as genocide, human suffering, and poverty. In just 7 months, the L.O.C. group (with the help of their entire high school community) has raised over $8,000.00 for the Manute Bol School Project. The group has spearheaded various fundraisers such as Barnes & Noble Book Fair Partnerships, selling candy grams, student raffles, and a Spring Bazaar/Craft Fair just to name a few.

The efforts of Mallory, Meredith, and other students at Saint Pius are being recognized by
True Hero. True Hero is a non-profit organization granting cash awards to schools and youth groups that sponsor service trips and activities. These cash awards help schools continue their service programs. You can cast your vote for Saint Pius' Manute Bol School Project here. While it is true that each and every project listed is doing great good, I voted for the Saint Pius project. Kansas City, Missouri will always hold a piece of my heart. It was there that I was blessed to meet amazing "thinkers" and "doers". This is my chance to honor some that I didn't have the chance to meet. Not to mention, most of the other projects have been taken on by college groups...I'm a fan of high school kids.

There is already good news. Construction of the primary school has begun, with the first purchase of a new brick press. When the O'Malley sisters were asked why Saint Pius X students are so eager to be involved with this project, this was the response:

"...five days a week we are able to attend a school with four walls and a roof...we are offered endless amounts of opportunities to insure us bright futures, in Turalei, this is unfortunately not the case." (Mallory)

"Because we believe that education is the key to a prosperous and peaceful future, this is the most meaningful gift we can possibly help give to the children in the village of Turalei." (Meredith)

Well said girls, well said.

Wait. Before you leave, check out the video. Thanks.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miss Independent

Independent. That's the box you'll find checked on my voter registration card. Some believe that makes me a fence-sitter. Let me tell you, I am no fence-sitter. Name an issue, and you will find me on one side or the other. But, what I am is a big picture kind of girl. I don't see much of this world in black and white details. I prefer my big picture in vibrant color.

The thought of drawing a line in the sand, and having to stay on either the right or the left forever (regardless of what's happening on the other side) makes me more than a little uncomfortable. I won't do it. The line was drawn years before I even entered the game. At any given moment, the team captains on each side, are making decisions for me. I don't know who these people really are, what's at their core. And what about the others, the players? Don't really know them either. I only know what they shared when they were squealing like 5 year olds: "Ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me." Why would I choose one side to stand on, regarding every issue imaginable, when I don't even know the captains and players?

I checked the Independent box because, quite frankly, I think both the Republican and Democratic parties suck...BIG TIME. I checked the Independent box because when I look at politicians, I don't see one (I mean NOT ONE) person representative of what I believe.

I checked the Independent box because on some issues I'm conservative, and on some I'm more liberal. Because Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh don't speak for me. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Keith Olbermann, Sean Penn, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid don't speak for me. I speak for myself. Today I woke up aggravated by these people who somehow, in their self-inflated egomaniacal worlds, believe they speak for me. They don't. Too many politicians and entertainers see this world in only black, white (and of course the almighty green).

Depending on which side of the line a person stands, they will view me as either too liberal, or too conservative. Can't win 'em all, right? I thought I'd share some of my line-crossing ideas. (Why, oh why, do I do this to myself?? Am I some sort of masochist? This could be the end of my blog. After this, I will have made people on both sides angry. Snarky Mama, you won't leave me will you?!?)

Here goes.......

Too liberal: I have been the target of religious discrimination. So I say, no prayer in school....unless we ALL get to pray. That's right. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, whatever. Some will say I'm too "tolerant", too "accepting". I've had my prayers judged by Southern Baptists my entire life. It's humiliating, and infuriating as well. I guarantee that some Southern Baptists in Mississippi would have a huge problem with prayer in school...if that prayer was being offered by a Mormon. I can make that guarantee because it's happened. I will never be a member of the self-righteous prayer police. I will never be on the side of the line that pushes for prayer in schools, but only if those prayers fit their ideas of what prayer should be. One of the most beautiful things about this nation is that it was founded on religious freedom. Our forefathers left their mother country, left all that was familiar to them, for a new start. A new start for everyone. Granted, EVERY religion has extremists and zealots. But, I don't believe those people are the majority. The LDS church has 13 Articles of Faith. One that holds great significance in my life is number 11: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." In my life, it is a privilege to be a Christian. But, given Christ's belief in free will, how can I take the privilege of worship from someone else, just because they do it differently than I do? Or just because they have a different understanding than I do? I won't be that person. Too many hard-core Republicans are that person.

Too conservative: Our welfare system is a complete and utter disaster. It is massively flawed, and we encourage people to be dependent upon this flawed system. We do not teach skills. We don't reward hard work. We just hand out checks. It's interesting to me that the Democratic party is all about "hope", and yet I don't see evidence showing they really believe in anyone. If you believe in someone, you don't just throw money and ineffective programs at them. You teach them, you mentor them. You remind them that hard work pays off, not always immediately, but is does eventually pay. If you have hope in a person, you don't assume they can't make it without you. Instead, you teach them how to fish, and let them feed themselves. You get in there, and get your hands dirty. You don't create another ridiculous program that will be inefficiently/ineffectively run. Blindly throwing money at problems, especially when it's taxpayers and not your own, doesn't solve much. But, if you add hard work and effort to that money, you can solve a lot. Our current system sends the message that we don't believe people are smart enough, resourceful enough, or responsible enough to ever fish and feed themselves. Where is the dignity?

Too liberal/conservative: I do not believe Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. But, that belief shouldn't be misinterpreted as an endorsement of abortion. Partial-birth abortion will never be okay with me, it disgusts me. Everything about the abortion issue makes my heart break.

Too conservative/liberal: I, like Congress, believed going into Iraq was the right thing to do. NOT because I enjoy war, NOT because I want to wreak havoc, but because I believe in helping those who need help. Defending the defenseless. If we have the resources to bring members of our human family out from under the wrath of a dictator, I believe we should help. If genocide is taking place, if innocent lives are being lost and we can help, we should. That doesn't mean I'm a warmonger. I can promise you, there isn't a damn thing in Iraq that I want. And there are countless Americans who feel just as I do. The majority of us are not so Americentric as to believe we can fix all that ails the world. What we hope to do is help others who may not have the resources to help themselves. It brings tears to my eyes and makes me ill when I think that some people have a desire to, and do, profit from war. It's sickening. I also believe that when our efforts are not creating the peace we had hoped for, or when we have done all that we can do, it's time to go. Enough.

Too liberal: I am thoroughly disgusted by "old, white guys" who have cheated their way to the top, causing great misfortune to those they trampled in the process.

Too conservative: I really don't like the phrase "old, white guys" because I know more than a few. And they are some of the most charitable, compassionate, honorable men on this earth.

Too conservative: Capitalism in not the problem. GREED is the problem.

So there you have it.
I am guessing this post just confirmed what you already thought: "She really is crazy." Oh well, you were going to figure it out sooner or later. I was just hoping it would be later!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cosmic Theater

Brewing thoughts in my head, but not enough time this morning to get it all down.
So for now, I leave you with this (from Richard Paul Evans' book, Timepiece):

"There are moments, it would seem, that were created in cosmic theater where we are given strange and fantastic tests. In these times, we do not show who we are to God (for surely He must already know) but rather to ourselves."

"There is an oft-misunderstood statement: 'Misery loves company.' To some, it implies that the miserable seek to make others like unto themselves. But it is not the meaning, rather there is a universality in grief, a family of sorrow clinging to each other on the brink of the abbyss of despair....I once heard it preached that pain is the currency of salvation. If it is so, surely we have bought heaven."

Regardless of the cause(s) of your pain, know that you have company here in this spot. You can find me here...cheering you on, believing in your ability to survive, loving you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ta Dah!

So, here it is! What do you think?
I think my Fairy BlogMother, better known as Danielle, is
FANfreakinTASTIC! Thank you so much Danielle. I can't believe your abundance of patience with me, as well as your kindness. You never made me feel as techno-challenged as I really am!

Alright people, away we go.................

(Oh, and don't forget to snag my button.)