Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blessed Be His Name

My friend died today.

I'm not sure how it's possible to be grief-stricken and filled with praise and awe at the same time. But I am.

She leaves behind a husband, two small children, fabulous parents and loving in-laws, along with a sibling, her siblings-in-law, their spouses, numerous sorority sisters, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, neighbors, and a community that have all been blessed beyond belief with her presence on Earth.

I'm sure there was some part of her that wasn't a saint...I'm just not sure I saw it :)

She was brought home to her Father before any of us thought it was her time. It's hard to believe that I've come into an age where my friends and loved ones are going to pass away. It's hard to understand why God said her purpose was complete when we're left here to ponder why and how He chooses His way.

It's not reassuring to most, and it's the cliche to say that she's at peace now and she's no longer in pain. I know that's true. But selfishly, I wish that this hadn't been His plan for my friend.

However, I totally praise Him for the years I got to spend with her, for the lessons I learned this past year and almost a half through her about Him, and for the joy I feel knowing that she's there to greet me when my purpose has been met. How selfish is that?

I'm teased for saying that everything is fabulous and that "it's all good." I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my shock and my grief will heal. I have the promise and the faith defined in Hebrews that everything works to the greater good of God. I don't claim to always understand it, but I have it. He is good. And I will bless His name!

Blessed Be Your Name--Matt Redman

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Lyrics totally taken off the Internet...I freely confess to not getting any body's permission to post them...somehow, I think it's okay :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is embarrassing.

It has been eons since my last post.

I have missed blogging. There have been a million times I have wanted to race home and post something, but it obviously never happened. There are reasons...but they all come across like excuses. And I know/knew that once I begin posting again, it is a habit that will have to be fed. So it scares me to start again.

It also scares me, because what if nobody cares that I've off the blogosphere? And that in turn scares me as well, because then that means I may be posting for someone other than me...and that's not really the point either.

Finally, it scares me because I don't know where to begin. I think it's a little odd to go back to February--especially when that was so long ago that I don't remember everything that happened! Not that much has changed...although in a sense, everything has changed. Part of me thinks that this is supposed to be the here and now, and part me acknowledges that it is the past that creates the here and now.

Obviously I haven't become a better philosopher in the past 8 months.

While I haven't been posting myself, I have been lurking around other blogs. And that also didn't seem quite right. So I guess the fact that I keep thinking "I should really blog about this!" and "am I a Peeping Blogger?" have led me to conclude that it's time to return.

For one thing, it allowed me to keep my sanity many times. And these days, sanity is something that can't be overlooked.

So I'm (I think) back.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dead Lobster

This evening we met my parents and my baby brother in Santa Fe at a restaurant to introduce my brother to the baby. It should be noted here that my bro is completely petrified of babies. He seriously has some sort of repellent in him...I don't know what it is, but prior to tonight, the last time we handed a baby to Bro, he pushed the baby out at arms length and held the baby by the baby's armpits for about a nanosecond, and then asked us if we could take "it" back.

So my whole goal of the evening was to catch "Uncle" Bro holding the baby in a photograph. I figure he'll be able to avoid holding her forever after this, and we'll have proof to the baby that at some time, Uncle Bro did hold her. Good 'nuff, right?

Bro took the baby and actually cradled her in his arms. I'm not entirely sure what happened next, because I think the brain will actually sometimes prevent oneself from remembering exactly what happened before a crisis. I know the baby was making some movement, and we'd been cracking jokes, and laughing so hard that most of us were practically falling off our chairs. I looked at my father, who was trying to cough through his laughter, and realized he was really red. I asked Dad if he was ok, and he shook his head NO, right as he began to literally fall off his chair towards my mother.

My mother has arthritis, and my father is not a small man. Mom pushed him with one hand back towards his chair as Hubby leaped from his chair to try to catch Dad. I said in a loud firm voice (I don't think I yelled it...Mom said later it was "textbook") for someone to call 911, and somehow shoved the stroller out of the way and didn't knock over my brother or the baby as I raced around the table.

You know how time stands still? Everything slows down to such a non-existent pace that you just suddenly see everything around you? The whole room of the restaurant was slowed way down. Strangers were shoving back their chairs with horrified expressions on their faces, and a man was suddenly behind my father with me on the side. I was contemplating how to lower my father to the ground because there was no way I could get around him for the Heimlich maneuver and I really thought he was choking on a crouton or something.

And just like that, Dad started to breathe again.

I don't think my mother will ever be the same. I'm not sure Bro will ever be the same. I'm not sure about Hubby either. In retrospect, I've always known that God teaches us lessons at all sorts of opportunities, and I learned that as scared as I may be, I will not just sit still...

We also learned that God always surrounds us. A while later, the man that had magically appeared behind my father came up to us and told us that he was with Santa Fe Sheriff's Department and recently became a chaplain--he told us that he was really glad he didn't have to use his training to help Dad...and we're all grateful that we didn't need neither his first aid/CPR training nor his chaplain services.

So while the restaurant had a family joke name before, it's a little too close to home now. And I'm pretty sure it'll be a long time before we enter its doors.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why I love to Travel--Cruising Addition

**So I totally wrote this eons ago, and never posted it! Sorry I'm so slow to post!**

When you get to be a certain age, there's something very comforting about unpacking in one place and having your hotel move to different locations rather than you doing the moving. There's something magical about having someone make your bed up for you in the morning, just to turn it down at night. And at any age, it's too good to be true when other people will not just cook for you, but serve you as much food as you can gorge on.

Last year I took a cruise with a bunch of women I didn't know and Kristin (see sidebar for blogs because I can't remember how to link things!). I survived the high seas, and told Hubby that rather than going to Disney World to have breakfast with Winnie the Pooh for my 30th birthday, we should take a cruise. The cruise was actually cheaper than Disney World (before the airfare to Puerto Rico and back), and we know we'll be taking a little one to Disney World for breakfast with Pooh soon enough. Hubby had never taken a cruise, and as last year was his first year seeing an ocean, this was a huge chance.

We thought about abandoning the cruise as we are hoping to have a little one come into the world and come home with us in a couple of weeks, but really, the chance to have one last blow out for the two of us, and one final kiss goodbye to the joyful days of my youth, was much more fun. So we left Thanksgiving Day for the big city to spend the night and catch the plane.

I've already droned on about the plane, so let's get to the airport in Puerto Rico. We landed after 10 pm their time (6 pm in Podunk) and discovered that the government must run the taxis in PR, as there is the tourism department that meets you at the airport and assigns the fare to you--no taxi meters. So we raced around Puerto Rico in the dark, noting everything listed in Spanish, and my trying to remember those many years suffering through Spanish class in high school. While they are a US territory, Spanish is primary, and most people spoke English, but there were a couple of times where someone translated for us to be sure we were going to get where we were supposed to get via the taxis. Anyway, we had a balcony view that we were not impressed with at midnight, and we fought to go to sleep.

The next morning, Hubby stepped out onto the balcony and discovered that we were with a block of pristine white beach and beautiful Atlantic Ocean, so we raced out to hit the beach. I, of course, didn't think we'd be out there that long--we were burned in no time. Go figure. So then we hit the ship.

The ship we were on was 13 decks, and held about 2300 travelers, plus I believe a crew of 900. We were assigned to the early seating, and our table mates were a fun couple from B.C., Canada celebrating their honeymoon, and another nice couple from Israel celebrating 25 years of marriage. We had 5 stops back to back and then a day at sea. Our first stop was St. Thomas, where we overslept that morning (thanks to the time difference!), but were fortunate enough to have the tourism department dude guide us to a lovely beach. We spent the day in the water and just loving the sand! St. Thomas was beautiful--definitely some place we'd like to go back, and would recommend.

The next day was St. Martin, and my celebration of another decade completed on the Earth. It was a traumatic day for several reasons. As you may have noticed, I was not excited about turning 30. I really had a ton of plans of things to accomplish in life before I turned THAT old, and I didn't do one doggone thing. So as we prepared to hit the streets of St. Martin, I was putting on makeup and checking for new wrinkles, when I found THEM. Nope, not new wrinkles--apparently gravity was being nice to my face that morning--but rather two very obvious, long, waving in the wind, white hairs right along my part. Are you kidding me? Was there not another day that these could have been found? So the day started off on a very sad note.

Immediately after taking the water taxi downtown, we were attacked by very pushy sales people for some resort community. Hubby and I have attended many speeches, and no, we don't have a time share any where, but I think we were so sleep deprived and sunned (not to mentioned stunned by the white hair!) that we didn't know what was happening, and we went...of course, the $250 offer for simply listening to the talk was promising, and the ones we've attended in the past actually did pay up what was promised. So we wasted a couple of hours walking around a timeshare and politely assured the salespeople that the place was lovely, and while we make an obscene amount of money, we spend an even more obscene amount, and couldn't afford it. They handed us a voucher for $250 towards jewelry that wasn't that nice and was WAY overpriced (as in, the cheapest thing there was like $600 so they'd make their money back because the piece was worth maybe $100). We did our mandatory souvenir shopping, and just went back to the boat.

The next day brought us to Antigua. We decided that rather than deal with pushy people, we'd just catch a taxi to a beach again. However, no taxi driver would take us without "a tour of the island" and the tourism lady chewed our rears for not wanting a tour because "everybody thinks only about the beaches and there is much more to the island." So we agreed to pay sixty bucks and take "a tour" of the island with a couple hours on the beach. The taxi driver was a very angry woman, and she was screaming into her cell phone as she led us and another nice couple from Canada to her taxi. She continued to bark things into her cell phone, and despite her heavy accent, we're not totally dumb, and could hear statements like "will this get me what I need? How much do you need? I'll give you $600--will that get it to me? Where should I meet you?" and then we pulled over in what was not the wealthiest part of Antigua and watched her hand a wad of cash to a male who pulled up in a dark SUV with tinted windows and she again asked if that would get her what she needed. We raced off to a beach and once we were on secure land, the Canadians and Hubby and I looked at each other and agreed that in our countries, this would have been considered a drug deal. That night we attended a mystery dinner on the ship, and were telling our dinner companions about the experience, and were assured by one that he had been offered drugs as soon as he was off the ship, and decided Antigua was not the place for him to go wandering. So, while Antigua was beautiful (once we got out of the "slums" from her arrangement with the man), we are a little jaded.

That experience lead us to agree that while we wanted to not spend oodles of money, and had therefore avoided the excursions through the ship, we needed something for St. Lucia. We booked a historical tour of St. Lucia, and the morning we docked there, St. Lucia instantly felt welcoming, warm, and friendly. We took the tour, and saw most of the island, as well got to attend a silk screening factory. I would totally go back to St. Lucia in a heart beat.

Our last stop was Barbados, and we booked a swim with sea turtles, snorkeling, and beach trip. Barbados was incredibly beautiful. We'd never been snorkeling before, and I ended up with nosefuls of salt water despite the mask, and the feeling that I was going to drown--weird, because I've been in oceans before, and I can swim, so I don't know what my problem was--so I only swam with the turtles for like 10 minutes. Hubby loved it. He swam with the turtles, he touched the turtles, he went to the "ship wreck" (barges that had sunk) and the reef...I think Hubby would have stayed forever if possible. It was very cool. We ended with a stay on the beach right next to the resort that Tiger Woods rented out to get married...and if I had Tiger Woods' money, I would so be there all the time.

We had a day at sea, and then returned to Puerto Rico. We planned to tour old San Juan and to see the forts, and to really make the most out of our time in Puerto Rico. Of course, I woke up sick that morning, and stumbled to breakfast so that I could say goodbye to the couple from B.C., Canada. They had made dinners such fun! I met up with them and a nice couple from New Jersey that were seated with Hubby, and the nice lady from New Jersey asked me when the baby was due. Now, keep in mind I'm sick, so the first thing I think about is that Hubby told them that we were waiting for the birth of our daughter the end of December. I had no idea why he would have told complete strangers about the adoption, but hey--we're excited, and we were on vacation. Nope, it turns out that because I'm FAT, and Hubby told the others I was having a slow morning because I wasn't feeling well, she assumed I'm pregnant. She recovered quickly, and I was so sick that I didn't even catch on to this until after we were off the ship and at the hotel. So instead of touring San Juan, we spent our last day of vacation with me wishing to die on a couch and then a bed at the hotel.

While we most likely will not cruise with this cruise line again (lots of hidden charges, not as inclusive as we'd been led to believe, and surprisingly, the food was no where near what I thought it should be--it didn't come close to the other cruise line for last year's cruise), we will definitely be cruising again in our future. For one thing, I'm getting too old to not be cruising :) For another, I like being catered to and to having a new port of adventure just around the corner. Of course, with a new baby, the next time I'm cruising will be for my 50th birthday...and I'm sure I'll then be looking for brown hair to surprise me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why I Love to Travel--Flying Addition

*The friendly skies
Complete with the "we're saving money so there's not even peanuts available on a 5.5 hour flight" and the "we may charge you for baggage...but there's not not enough room on the plane to actually carry on more than your purse."
Extends to the crying children that the parents forgot to drug, and the obnoxious people that inevitably sit in front of all 6'4 of Hubby and then lay their chairs back with a surprising bang. You know, Hubby and I don't lay our seats back...and the last time I thought about it, I checked to see who was behind me before I did in case they were tall.

*The incredible magic shrinking chairs.
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the expanding size of my rear end...especially after a 7 night/8 day cruise where I ate non-stop.

*Airport Security.
I'm sure I'm more secure now that my luggage has been checked by USDA--but not the open bag nor the purse I could have carried something in. I'm also sure I'm more secure now that I've shown my ID to one person and then my boarding pass to the guard less than 10 feet away and to another guard less than 5 feet from the last guard that is immediately in front of the xray machine and then finally to the guard on the other side of the metal detector. Seriously, this was the way we got through the airport in San Juan to come home. I also got to do the walk with my pants around my ankles because my metal belt set off the alarm--but Hubby's belt did not. And the buckles are the same size.

*In Flight Movies.
Is there anything better than watching CBS Eye on America on __________ before and after a seriously cheesy movie? I think not. I have now seen all the shows I have avoided and learned that there was a good reason I avoided them. Anybody out there seen "The Big Bang?" Enough said.

*The Delay Announcement
"We're delayed here folks due to a mechanical error. Once we figure it out, we'll get you on your way." Great. We'll locate the problem and then we'll ship you out of here on the same plane. It took an hour to locate the problem, and only 10 minutes to check the problem. So I could have sworn I heard every little bump, squeak, squeal, moan, etc. that plane made as we taxied down the runway and lifted off.

Have I mentioned I'm sure I'm going to die in a plane crash?

We obviously survived the flights to and from San Juan. Lots more to come about the cruise and how I woke up after 30 years on this Earth and was still alive! Some highlights to come include the birthday morning surprise, drug dealing Caribbean style, animals both on sea and...well, technically on sea again, and how to enjoy all of this while burnt to a crisp!