Friday, June 29, 2012

Things I Can Admit

Editor's Note:   This is post 800 for me.

So today I am waxing nostalgic, thinking back to the beginning of this blog and how blind I was to the roller coaster ride life would become as I wrote.

What I know today is that I am as pleased as punch that I've documented life, in all its imperfections, beauty and places in-between.  I'm glad I've torn off the mask of who you might have THOUGHT I was to show you who I really am. 

In that vein, I wrote this a few weeks ago and saved it.  At the time it brought forth some scary feelings, so I decided not to publish it.  But, today, as I hit the button so you can see what I wrote, I feel confident that I am presenting truth.  And there is absolutely nothing scary about that.

This is who I am, a work in progress, 800 posts since I started....
I can admit that my Mom took one look at our current house and declared that it was too much to clean.  I can admit that I was mad at her for poo-pooing my adult decision to finally move.  More to the point, I can completely admit that she was absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, RIGHT.

I can admit that my Dad listened to my desire to go pre-law as an undergrad and told me that was a poor decision.  I can admit that I was furious that I didn't think he was being supportive.  Today, I can admit that he had more common sense than fifteen people combined on this point;  just because I liked to argue a point wouldn't have made me a good lawyer.  He was absolutely RIGHT.

I can admit that my brother probably has more sense than I do, even though I am older.  I can admit that, for all the trouble I got into in High School and college, I rarely was caught.  And I can admit that he was caught double the amount he deserved.  He may be a man of few words, but his actions prove that he is a man who knows right from wrong and isn't afraid to walk away from the latter.  Even if that latter, at some points in our lives, was sometimes his sister. 

I can admit that I have battled weight most of my life.  In times of happiness, I am smaller.  In times of weakness, sadness, guilt and the like I am bigger.  But, no matter what the scale says, I finally know that God loves me right where I am.  And, even if I don't like the person I see in the mirror, I am getting better in knowing that my size doesn't define, control, or stop me from being the person that God needs and wants me to be. 

The reason I can candidly admit these things is because I am 45.  Ten years ago I would have choked on these words.  Fifteen years ago I wouldn't have let the thoughts cross my mind.  Twenty years ago I was too stupid to even think much beyond the moment.

I honestly look forward to 50.  I'm not crazy about the wrinkles or the stretch marks or the chicken arms I've developed that have come with middle age, but I am happy to relax into the skin I'm in, as imperfect as it has become.

If the trade off for aging is gaining wisdom, I can admit I want to climb to the top of a very high mountain and scream "Bring it!" at life.

Care to join me? 

Cure yourself of the affliction of caring how you appear to others. Concern yourself only with how you appear before God, concern yourself only with the idea that God may have of you. --Miguel de Unamuno

Thursday, June 28, 2012

There is No Such Thing...

I was blessed to be under the tutelage of Mr. Charlie Brown at SFA.  Yes, THE Charlie Brown taught my intermediate Economics class.  God rest his soul.

Of all the things he taught me about supply and demand and resource allocation, I really remember two things about economics that have shaped who I am as a consumer and a voter:

1.  Basic economics assumes there is competition by many supplier and consumers.

Without this model in place, you have a monopoly.  You just need to visit the turn of the last century to see what monopolies look like;  they limit choice and freedom.

When you use the theory of many suppliers/consumers, allocation of resources is efficient.  Those who can afford the given resource buy it at a price that is set by the market, not by an artificial law or government.

There is no case where with only a single supplier or a small handful (~ 3 or less) that consumers get the best of anything (customer service, pricing, etc)

2.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Now, my children will argue this as a fallicy because they have had plenty of "free" lunches courtesy of their Mom and Dad.  HOWEVER, we quickly correct this mistake by asking WHY they are receiving a lunch, to which they are forced to reply that WE HAD TO PAY FOR IT FOR THEM.

In other words, someone behind the scenes is always paying.

So, to the issue of health care in America, I would say the following:
1.  This is quickly becoming, at best, an oligopoly (or, potentially, very worst case scenario, a monopoly), limiting the number of players in the market to very small numbers.  This kills competition, which limits choice, limits freedom, and creates backlogs.

If you don't believe me, take any government run program (Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the IRS) and look at the inefficiencies.

When competition is taken out of the equation, you get crap because you cease to have a free market run on the basic economic principle of competition by many suppliers.

2.  Before anyone gets all excited about their healthcare being covered, remember that someone has to pay for it. 

Who do you think that will be?

All of us.  This generation and the next and ten after them.  Poor, rich, in between.

And, if you are sitting in a "higher" tax bracket thinking this will help the "lower" tax brackets, the joke is on you.  They'll be paying too.  They will be paying a percentage just like you will be.  Yes, they will be taxed for their healthcare;  they will pay for the privilege.  WE ALL WILL.

Economics works.  It has since the 1700's.
It doesn't play "fair", it just observes what makes a good society work well.

Yet, as a country, the loudest voices appear to want the government to take away our economic freedom in the interest of what we selfishly get "for free".  Or to "equalize" the system.  Or to do what is "fair".  

Yet trying to equalize the gaps in life out of "fairness" kills competition and hurts us all, from the ultra-poor to the mega-wealthy.

Where did we lose sight of the fact that our constitution didn't guarantee life would be fair in America?  The charge is to form a "more perfect union", not one that IS perfect (which doesn't exist).  The charge is to "secure...the Blessing of Liberty", not tamp it down with laws meant to equalize that which is not ever going to be equal.

Now, I could go off on other spending issues as well.  Let's face it:  our country has painted itself into a corner with huge social programs in the past that are currently biting us in the pocketbook.  But, rejoicing over the addition of another huge debt grind to our already troubled economy is simply backward.

If we don't have the money to pay for a large insurance blanket, we can't implement said blanket.  Period. Because, in economics, there is no such thing as a free lunch! 

We can continue ignoring basic economics.  We can continue spending like we can print more money and not face massive inflation issues.

But, eventually, and I think eventually means in the next 5-10 years if we don't right the ship, our society is going to be on the slippery slope that Europe currently is trying to curtail:  in debtor's prison, wondering how we got where we sit. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

How NOT to do a cleanse

Today's topic is not for the faint of heart.  It involves bodily processes and fluids that are, quite frankly, a bit on the gross side.

You are excused from reading today if you might faint and/or sue me for causing your gag reflex to act up.

BUT, if you venture further, rest-assured that I will have you laughing at me in .0002 seconds.

Parental guidance suggested.
So, I inadvertently did a really stupid thing last night.  Seems going out to a play with girlfriends with just a small slice of pizza in my system meant I was STARVING at 11pm.  And, with no one to police my eating, I grabbed the thick-cut potato chips and wiped out the leftover dip.

Now, most people would question my concern over doing this.  "It's called midnight snacking, honey", they'd say.  "No big deal."

But, the key piece to this puzzle is that the dip was JALAPENO yogurt.  Deemed a "mild, all natural" treat with "Strained Greek Probiotic Yogurt".

Yes, it sounds tame.  Yes, it is healthy (even low-cal, if I can tout its goodness a bit more).  It even sounds like it would balance out all the yuck in your intestinal tract.


Let me say that another way:  "Hell, NYET".

This stuff tore me another one.  Took me down faster than fresh jalapenos.  Made me wish I had eaten those chips plain.

As soon as the bathroom urge hit, I should have run.  Fast.  Olympic-style sprinting should have been the description of my exodus from the laundry room to the powder room.

But, NO.  I had yet to realize what nature intended to do.  So, I continued moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, ignoring the SIGNS.

Until it was too.late.

Yes, I am here to tell you, there was just no stopping what nature no longer wanted in me.

Once that disgusting incident was over, I had the presence of mind to head straight to the refrigerator for a probiotic pill.  I figured THAT would remedy any remaining issues.

At that point, I was craving a cup of coffee.  Thankfully I remembered that is a really good reason runners drink coffee before a race.  And a really good reason race sponsors put Portajohns at the start line.  There's more than number one going on before race time, people!

So, I opted for green tea.  Mistake number two of the day.

It seems the green tea I have in the house is "Dieter's Green", intended as an "herbal supplement while dieting".  It also, as the label professes, "helps promote cleansing".  I figured I already had HAD my cleanse, could use a nice cup of warmth, and herbal supplementation to boot.


I missed the point, under the Supplement Facts, that read in part (and was underlined):  "Do not use if you have or develop diarrhea, loose stools, or additional pain because senna leaf may worsen these conditions and be harmful to your health."

Yes, I brewed two bags in about 12 ounces of water.  And, upon returning from lunch, drank the whole batch over ice.  Before reading the entire label.  Which I read just before writing this.  And taking two more probiotic pills.

I've been on the toilet ever since.

Ya'll?  If stupid is as stupid does then I am double stupid today.  But, I'm dumb with a REALLY clean colon. 

I still pondering if a clean colon trumps the fact that I am flat stupid though....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Q: How Do You Get a New Vacuum Cleaner?

A:  Disassemble the old one, in an attempt to fix it, and accidentally expose the motor, which is clearly overheated and cranky, and then try to fix what you just disassembled with no manual, no experience, and just a short period of time before you need to shower and be ready to go to a play with girlfriends.  Lose your patience with said "fixing" and call the repair shop that sold you the hunk of junk a few years prior and find out it will cost $50 to even look at the stupid thing.  Decide a dark purple, overheated, non-sucking, disassembled vacuum cleaner has but one home:  the garbage.  Recruit son to help carry pieces and dispose of properly, tamping down the urge to call the stupid thing names or beat it to a pulp with a baseball bat, just to give it the proper treatment it gave you over the years.

THAT is how you get a new vacuum cleaner.

Now, I just have to figure out how to find the money in the budget.....

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Scene:  at a stoplight in East Texas.
Time:  mid-day.

The Babe, looking out the window:  "That woman is smokin'! "

Me, looking at him the now-adjusted rear view mirror:  "What did you just say?"  *Undertone of "You didn't just say what I THINK you said, did you?"

The Babe:  "I meant she is smokin'.  Not like beautiful.  Like on a cigarette."

Me:  "Oh.  OK."

Then I launched into a diatribe about how I don't want to hear The Babe calling any woman "smokin', as in beautiful, hot or any of a handful of other adjectives, UNLESS he is married to her and it is in private.  Appropriate compliments are OK.  Distasteful, base commentary is NOT. 

Ugh.  Some days parenting is just a smokin' pile of whooey.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In My Seat

If you did an MRI on my brain right now, you'd see what looked like the bullet-riddled cranium of a gangster who narked on the Godfather.  Riddled with ADD.  Just flat riddled.  Focusing on one thing is asking WAY TOO LITTLE of my gray matter at the moment.

I have about three solid ideas for writing, but I just can't get the following video clip to leave my brain.  So, I'm going to intro it and let you chew on the contents of this project for a day or so while I try to figure out how to control the neuron paths in my brain.

Food for thought:
1.  "God causes" things to happen.
2.  "There is a time/place" for everything.
3.  We are a breath in the scope of God's eternity.
4.  Living today is so, very important.

FYI:  you are going to need kleenex and 16 minutes of uninterrupted time to view this.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Perfect Game

Have you ever had the fortune of picking the exact right movie at the exact right time?  That happened to me tonight.

I was browsing through Redbox, intending to get something for the boys to watch on our trip to East Texas, and I happened across a little movie titled "The Perfect Game".  Didn't remember it being in the theaters.  In fact, I didn't even recognize the cover of the movie or the description of it.  But, it promised to tell the story of a little league team from 1957.

Given that we are knee-deep in baseball for both Hoo and Babe right now, I thought this would be the perfect choice.  And, given that it was 50 cent weekend thanks to a Redbox email, I figured even if the movie was horrible with a capital H, there was no harm, no foul.  Pun intended.

Our day had been all about baseball, swimming, and finding out what happens when you light a small pile of dry sticks and leaves and a used Gatorade bottle on fire.  Yes, one of those seemingly doesn't belong, unless you are the mother of three active, curious boys.  In which case, you are shaking your head in agreement that these activities go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Our friend from Hoo's baseball team, one of the many sons I didn't give birth to but who fits our family like a glove, was over for the afternoon.  And when I mentioned the movie, his eyes lit up.  He was on fire to watch.  So we decided that the early Father's Day dinner of steak, potatoes, salad, broccoli and grapes should include some baseball and an extra plate.

Let's just say that this was a lesson on so many levels I am having a hard time encapsulating the best of the best:
1.  Faith is paramount.  All things are possible through Christ.
2.  Prayer should always precede anything.
3.  Racism is ugly.
4.  "White Only" signs in the fifties had a large range of colored skin in mind, not just black.
5.  Never, ever, ever give up.
6.  Quitting on your team is never an option.
7.  Never underestimate how much we Americans have in relation to the rest of the world.
8.  Never judge a book by its cover.
9.  The power of forgiveness is extraordinary.
10.  Big things can come from unknown places.
11.  Love blossoms in the strangest of circumstances.
12.  It is important to meet a girl's Daddy before you try to date the girl.
13.  Random acts of kindness are beautiful.
14.  Never take anything for granted.
15.  Family is the most important thing in life.

Ya'll.  Those are the few lessons I pulled out of my head and I could probably still be writing were I not pressed for time!  This movie exudes old-fashioned values, demonstrates Christian beliefs, values family, shows team work working, and causes you to remember how good people truly are.

There was not a single curse word in the movie.  There was no nudity.  There was no violence.

There were a few scenes of a father drinking to the point of drunkenness and the same for the coach of the team.  In the scheme of the movie, both made sense.  And, the Babe mentioned to all of us that drunkenness never makes you feel good or say nice things.  Lesson learned.

Other than that one minor criticism, which I view as a very teachable moment very well handled by the writers and director, get ready to laugh, cry, and cheer on this little team that could.  And, stay tuned until the bitter end for black stills of the kids in action.  This is one of the most charming points of the entire movie, in my mind.  Seeing what happened to the kids and the coach was breathtaking.

In a year where both our baseball teams have been led by Godly, inspiring men, this movie was just the cherry on top.  We've been fortunate to witness our boys and their teams growing exponentially under their leadership.  We probably won't ever take a team to Pennsylvania for the "big" game, but we already feel like we've won a championship having such great people leading our sons. Thanks, Coach Klie and Coach Hendricks!

Now, go grab some peanuts, a hot dog, and a cold drink and plug in "The Perfect Game".  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tiny House

If you have spent any quality time talking with me over what my biggest desires in life might be, you would have gotten an earful about having a piece of property in the country. Depending on the day of the week, I might tell you I want a lake house only to oscillate and get all misty-eyed about a large tract of wooded land.

As long as I can remember this has been a dream of mine.  And, as long as I can remember, every time Mike and I have headed out to East Texas, I've kept my eyes open for that "diamond in the rough".

Now, mind you, I don't aspire to live permanently in the country.  I just want to visit there on occasion.  So, that solidly puts my want in the category of "toy" or "luxury".  And, as of this moment,

When I saw this story, I was mesmerized.  I started to tear up.  "This", I thought, "is exactly what I want for my family."

I love the "can do" attitude of this couple.  They aren't sitting around crying foul about losing their house, they are taking control of their future and thumbing their noses at the past.  They've changed everything about how they live, what they do, and how they are raising their kids as the result of what some would call a financial disaster in their lives.  Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!!! 

What do you think?  Would close quarters be the beginning of a new adventure or the beginning of someone turning homicidal?  Would you embrace the concept of growing all your fruits and veggies or wish there was a local store to purchase them in?  What would you do with an excess $3K per month?  Or with the freedom to choose the career that you REALLY wanted to pursue?

There's no right answer here, just a whole lot of food for thought.


Thursday, June 7, 2012


Rarely do you hear stories of forgiveness and grace in action, but today I did.

One of my best friends was put in the position of having to decide, quite literally, the fate of a man.  And she erred on the side of what she hopes Christ will do for her when she is standing in front of Him in Heaven, longing for grace and mercy and love.

Seems downtown Dallas has, once again, become a hotbed for those who are disadvantaged.  Earlier this week, my friend was working downtown and a gentleman, who just was released from jail, was among those prowling the city, near to the place my friend works.  He was, apparently, testing car doors to find one open.  Not looking to break a window or jimmy a lock, just looking for an opportunity created by carelessness. And, as luck would have it (or, in my mind, God would orchestrate), my friend had run down to her car to pull something out and forgotten to lock the doors.

That's when God and opportunity came together, with my friend squarely in the center.

When the police officer entered the building looking for someone owning a car of the same make and model as my friend's, she was understandably sick.  Upon exiting the building, she saw a handcuffed man and some of the contents of her car, very practical items her husband had given her for emergency use.  When the officer asked her if she could identify the items as hers, my friend responded affirmatively.

That's when this whole thing turned on a dime.  The officer proceeded to ask my friend to step away from the handcuffed man and told her the following:  this man was just released from jail and is trying to get back to out-of-town family.  Given that we know he stole from you, the officer continued, you have to decide if you are going to have me arrest him or not.


She knew exactly what to do in that moment, as if God was directing this little drama from the curb.  She asked the officer to join her and the gentleman and she told him she was going to let him go, but with one condition.

That was when he started in on the excuses.  But my friend cut him off.   She didn't want to hear any of it, she just wanted to pray over him.  And, could she put her hand on his shoulder?

Of course, he responded.  He was a Jesus-fearing man, after all.

And when the words started coming out of her mouth, the blessings on him for employment and support of family and a life of honesty and no more stealing, she said they weren't her own.  They just flowed out of her effortlessly.

And then she forgave him.

And the officer said "Whoa."

And the suspect started to cry.

And THAT, people, was JESUS working through my dear friend.

Yes, that one little act of kindness impacted three people for the rest of their lives.

My friend was Jesus to a man who probably didn't deserve it, but who was given a second chance AND a blessing, all at once. 

She showed grace in the face of sin to an officer who probably expected negativity, anger, and a spirit of revenge, but who saw goodness in action.

And my friend is a forever changed woman.  She knows the power of prayer flowing THROUGH her.  She knows of the Holy Spirit speaking words that poured out of her mouth.  She extended grace and forgiveness and mercy and can now speak of those firsthand.

I am beyond words for this story.  I am in awe.

And, I am impacted by her story in a way that makes me incredibly thankful for my Christ, who knows of what He speaks when he says "Forgive them Father."

If life boils down to one thing, this is it:  forgiveness produces love.  It is immensely powerful.  It is the ultimate witness to Christ.  It is the best we have to give.

Bless you, friend.  You did an awesome thing this week.  What a privilege it is to be your sister in Christ.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Used to Rock

I'm back.
In black.
I hit the sack.
I've been too long I'm glad to be back.

Did you get your lighter out and fire that bad boy up or WHAT?

Or did you not recognize AC/DC?  Which effectively blew out one of my parents speakers in the living room when I was in High School (sorry Dad.  no supervision of a young teen just spells trouble.)

Yes, I'm a child of the crap-decade, the 80's.  Where we learned that "greed is good", blatant sexuality is cool, and music lyrics could glorify sex, drugs, suicide and torture and STILL sell tons of records/tapes.

Yeah, it was a decidedly crap decade, followed by its big brother, the 90's, which was even crappier.  Which wasn't the word I wanted to use to describe the 90's, thanks to the advent of Marilyn Manson and increasing popularity of Nine Inch Nails, but I'm trying to keep it PG-13 or less.

And it all built to the crescendo of "Basic Instinct" in 1992, where we learned it was totally cool to be sexually uninhibited, do blow, drill holes in our sexual partners with an ice pick, be bi-sexual, drive way too fast, and be way too rich for our own good.

And we LOVED this movie, making it one of the highest grossing movies of the 90's.  I even owned it for a couple of years.  I thought Sharon Stone was all that.

So, I admit to being dumb and dumber.  Stupid and stupider.  Blind and blinder.  And, as a result of my own mistakes, I have taken a pretty hard line when it comes to what my kids hear and watch;  I'll be doggoned if I am going to let our kids rock out to trash in a movie.

Yes, I'm pretty much a mini-Hitler when it comes to music and movies.  We scan lyrics for EVERY SONG that makes the cut for the ITouch/Ipod.  We talk about the lyrics, sometimes taking us into foreign, slightly uncomfortable territory.  We consult PluggedInOnline regularly.

But, the good news is that now my kids police their OWN lyrics and plots.  And they can listen to a song and determine if they should even bother to ask to have it downloaded OR if the station should be changed should said song happen to come on.

So, when Mike and I first saw the trailer for the musical cum summer blockbuster-in-waiting, "Rock of Ages", I had very, very, very mixed feelings.  We're talking Styx and Journey and Damn Yankees (drool).

But, we're also talking about a musical not recommended for kids under 14.  And, if you know anything about the Canadian Rating System (which is mighty liberal compared to us in the States), you know when THEY raise an eyebrow about the content, this movie is skating an extremely thin line between PG-13 and R.

Now, some of you are shaking your head and just thinking I've lost my ever-lovin' mind.  Your reasoning goes like this:
1.  It's a trip down memory lane.  Live a little!  It's all the music you used to love.
2.  You are an adult and entitled to watch an rating of movie you like.

Yes, but I would also point out that taking my brain back to the 80's pickles it in Diet Coke and booze. 

And, I have watched NR-17 movies using the "adult entitlement theory" and have SCALDED synapses to prove it.  Some junk just can't be scrubbed out.

Plus, I have little eyes and ears that ask what movie Mom and Dad are going to see or check what station on the radio we listen to.  And they know what ratings are for.  And they increasingly understand why songs/movies are good vs. bad.  I am the example and, as such, I have to be careful about what I listen to and watch so my kids will be careful about what they choose to do later.

And, further, I took one look at Catherine Zeta-Jones' character and realized "Holy Cow.  She's me." (Or, I'm her.  Or whatever.)  I've become Tipper Gore.  And, retrospectively, I HATE how that poor woman was treated for standing her ground. 

But today?  I'M GLAD I can compare myself to someone who understood junk when she heard it! I think it is high time someone reign in the filth.  Say "no" to junk music and movies.  Really LISTEN to what is coming through the speakers and on the screen.

And, since I don't have a national platform, just a small sphere of influence, I'm going to use what I've been given for good. 

After all:  Junk in, junk out.

So, I will pass on "Rock of Ages", much to many of my friends chagrin.  Not just for myself, but for my kids.

Call me crazy, but I've learned my limits the hard way.  And I'm raising a generation of boys who will be given the benefit of limits early, so they can make decisions on their own later on.

Just do me a favor?  If you go see "Rock of Ages", please raise your lighter for this.