Saturday, February 21, 2009

Moving Along

I want to say Thank You to everyone who has been reading my Blogger posts. Your encouragement is worth more than you will ever know. It has been a catalyst that helps me to realize that I have something of value to offer the world.

In my ongoing efforts to reinvent myself, I have made a decision to change the format of my posts a bit and move them to a new service. I invite you to check out and see the new blogs I am posting, and check out my newly designed site. Yep....did it all by myself.

Again, thank you for stopping by occasionally, and I look forward to seeing you at my new "home".

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Interview

The first time I saw a list of questions, it was almost annoying to me. Answering those things requires way too much thinking. However, this week it seems all I have done is answer questions about me, what I think, how I feel, my hangups, my dreams, etc. At this point, I figure I'm on a roll, so why stop now? Here goes: Another edition of The Interview.

If you had only one day to spend $20,000 (or else it would disappear!), what would you do with it? I think I would purchase 20 of those monster-sized oak trees from Holland Gardens and pay to have them planted on the farm. If there was anything left over, I would be tempted to plant a bumblebee and butterfly garden over there. Who says money can't buy happiness? An instant park could go a long ways toward making me smile.

What would you like to be written on your tombstone? I first wrote my epitaph last spring when I was taking a really neat class called 48 Days to the Work You Love. It's certainly been a lot longer than 48 Days, and I'm still not at the Work I Love, but I have a really cool epitaph. It says: Angie helped people to feel great about themselves and develop their talents and abilities. She gave others courage & confidence when they had none to give themselves. She gave them health and hope and the knowledge to change their own lives, and in doing so created a legacy of health, wealth, and love in her own family.

What advice would you give to yourself in 20 years? "Keep Your Mouth Shut and Opinions To YOURSELF!!! Doing otherwise has seldom landed you anywhere other than twelve inches deep in a nasty mess." Naaahhh....she needs to learn that one on her own. If I know her like I think I do, she isn't going to listen to me anyway.

How did you know that your husband was your soul mate? For starters, he represented everything I wasn't supposed to have, do, be, or experience, and as my parents will readily admit, that was an irresistable wide-open invitation to me. Actually, I didn't know for sure even as I walked down the aisle. I just knew that if I had to leave that place without him, I would die. I had left him behind for four and a half years, and I knew I could not do it even one more time. Of course, there was the Saturday afternoon not long after we were married when we went to Mom and Dad's to help replace a dishwasher. Here is this old pile of junk finally sitting out in the yard after years of doing it's daily duty. My dad immediately started trying to see if the pump could be salvaged. Then to my utter dismay, my husband began discussing possible uses for the top basket. I looked at my mom and said, "I got one just like my daddy!"

It has only been in the last year that I have begun to realize how we truly were meant for one another. Things he knew and understood 20 years ago are only now coming onto my radar. Kind of blows the mind, but it is really cool--the thoughts and ideas we are now able to share.

What’s your favorite “me time” activity? Why? That one entirely depends on the temperature and windspeed. Assuming an insanely gorgeous day, I want to be on the farm messing with the chickens, digging in the dirt, imagining my dream cabin, walking through the buffalo grass, and saying blessings over my little trees. Why? Because I love the freedom it represents to me. Cold and snowy lends itself to curling up for a nap in front of the wood burning stove. I love being snuggly warm on a cold and cloudy day.

Where has been your most favorite place to live, and why? I don't exactly have lots of experience living in different communities, but I have had the opportunity to live in some different houses within the community where I grew up. I guess my favorite is the fairytail farm. It was simply amazing. I was pretty little, living there from ages2-6 years. There were these two old houses. We lived in one and the landlord/lady lived in the the other one. The pasture went for what seemed like miles right out the front door. To the east were these huge cedar trees with asparagus growing like crazy under them. Then there was the pond. That was just the coolest thing on the planet, and I was heart-broken when the pond had to be allowed to dry up. We used to actually fish in that thing, I think. There were all kinds of fruit trees around the pond. Trees were everywhere. One of them is almost 100 years old and it would take three people to stretch arms around it. And the went up in the sky forever.

The landlady used to take me out to the horse barns where we had Peggy (the good horse, but a mare), Peanut (an obnoxious biting shetland pony), and a gelding named Booger. That last one should be self explanatory. The landlady was an amazing person. She has always held a bit of royal mystery to me. I truly wish now that I had found a way to spend time with her as I grew older. I always loved to see her. I'm thinking that's another blog post. Anyway, this place was like a princess castle grounds to the little girl I was.

I'll end this post with one last question.
What’s your favorite quote and why? You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To Change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. Buckminister Fuller I supposed this quote is my C4 for making things happen. So much of the time we try to modify the current standard to try and improve on it when it simply has nothing left to offer us. The only way to captivate the attention of the masses who resist even the smallest of change is to WOW them with some new amazing eye candy that can't be ignored. The other is left behind and forgotten and the new gains its foothold. Fighting the existing reality is quite exhausting and results in bloodshed. Creating something new is simply easier.

That's it for this edition of The Interview.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Living Contradictions

I have found a new blog site to follow. Actually I have discovered several in the last week, but I am really liking this one. It's kind of scary because it is almost as if this woman has climbed inside my head and is reading from the crevices of my brain.

So I'm reading these posts looking for nuggets that I can add to my treasure trove of self discovery, and I come across one entitled You're a Mess of Contradictions. How Very Beautiful. Okay. I'll take the bait. I admit it. I am a Mess of Contradictions. Let me see just how far down this rabbit hole I can go by answering some of the questions she poses in the blog.

First one: When has someone said, “That really surprises me about you,” “I can’t believe you did that”? Okay, slight variation coming, but not really. I am so easily intimidated and extremely shy. There are people who can just enter my presence and I will almost crumble into a pile of mush on the floor. As for parties, no thanks. If I have to go, I want to be with someone around whose arm I can wrap my hands and cling for security. When I have shared this with others, they laugh as if I have lost my mind. Comments like, "You? Intimidated by anything or anyone? Shy? Gimme a break! You are the intimidator! There's not a shy bone in your body!" Ironic that someone who is apparently a bit intimidating is in fact extremely intimidated by others who are outspoken or in a position of authority. And as for the original blog's author, give me a stage and I'll perform, but send me into a group of people to be social, and dental work is more appealing.

Number two: Where do you feel the pull to compromise vs. rebel? I would have to say where my paycheck is concerned, apparently I will compromise. This became very evident about a year ago when I defended someone in a very public way only to experience the disapproval of my superiors who strongly disliked what I had done. I had done nothing illegal. I had done nothing unethical or immoral. I had taken a stand on a matter about which I felt strongly, but which could have potentially interfered with the quiet exit they had sought for the person I was defending. When it was suggested that my actions had jeopardized my job (which to this day I am not sure was even legal on their part), I quickly cowed to authority amidst a mild panic attack and a couple of weeks of significant stress. I'm still not sure I've forgiven myself for being such a spineless baby. Fear won that battle. Not something I am proud of.

Number three: Guilt can be a primo indicator for inner truth tugs. What are your guilty pleasures or indulgences? Kind of a toughy here. I can make myself feel guilty for lots of stuff and still indulge. I guess the most significant is spending money. I LOVE to spend money. I love to spend it for products and services that reveal to me more about who I am. I like self-help books, self-improvement websites, spiritual discovery information, etc. I feel a teensy bit guilty when I indulge in them, and you can bet that if anyone else in the family spent money on that type of stuff, I would be very annoyed with them. I also love sweets. As a kid, I could find a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips in the deep freeze and devour them in a very short time period. I tend to hoard when it comes to sweets. I know I shouldn't, but that's how it is. Then my hips bear the guilt.

Number four: What do you save for special occasions {from your dancin’ shoes to your verbal affection}? Hmm...gonna have to think about this one. I guess I'd have to say the lace tablecloth that was my grandmother's. It doesn't come out very often. My wedding ring is another one. I am madly in love with my husband of 20 years, but I do not like to wear my ring. He doesn't wear his either. It's just too...confining. Jewelry of any kind for that matter. There had better be royalty showing up to shake my hand for me to wear jewelry. "I love you's" are saved for very special occasions. I wish I would let those little words slip out more often, but they just don't roll off my tongue with any ease. This is probably because they are frequently tied to tears (see a couple of entries further down the post), and I don't do tears. Actually I DO do tears, but not by choice. It's a genetic defect. They come at the most inconvenient and inappropriate times. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

Number five: What would going “wild” look like for you? Gee whiz....that's kind of scary. Okay...warning. This part will not be G rated or even PG. Beware. You have been warned. Mom, Dad, children of mine, look away. I'll start with a gentle one. Going wild for me might mean getting drunk or high. I've been tipsy once, but never drunk and certainly never high. I'm too much of a control freak to let that happen. Going wild would be me buying two plane tickets to Paris (France, not Texas) for a weekend rendezvous with my amazing incredible hot husband. Wild for me would be me, him, trampoline, stars, no blanket, and me actually relaxing with four kids living at home. Use your imagination. See, I can't even come out and say it when I think certain people might read this. Going wild for me would be leaving the security of a monthly paycheck to live out my passions and dreams.

Number six: What do you deny yourself? Very little. Actually that's not true. I deny myself the right to cry when I want to. I hate crying in anyone else's presence. I just hate it. It's that control freak stuff rearing its head. I also deny myself the right to say what is really on my mind because I don't like hurting people or having them angry with me. I know. Hard to believe this one. Trust me. If I said what was really on my mind, I probably wouldn't have a friend left in the world and you would be picking up the tattered remnants of your shredded self-image.

Various other contradictions in my life: I am a pro-choice pro-lifer. I am a sarcastic, caring antagonist. I am probably a Christian Buddhist, and truth be known, I think Jesus was, too. I am a positive thinking worrier. I can be a very encouraging witch (....some of you will want to put the "b" in place of the "w", and I totally understand). I am a copy-machine-and-phone-system-challenged technology guru. I am a city-dwelling farm girl. Okay, that one is a stretch. I live inside the city limits of a town of 5000 people, but I am working my way to the outskirts of town where there is dirt and livestock and manure. I am a liberal republican and a conservative democrat, although Libertarian may be more accurate. I want to be in control, but I don't want to be in charge. And finally, I am a health, wellness, and fitness fanatic in an overweight middle-aged, need-to-exercise-more body. Kind of sad since that is my passion.

What about you? Any contradictions in your life?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Voice From Beyond

Desperation sometimes lands me in unexpected places. Yesterday is a prime example of that. I was asked to sing for a funeral, not because I am a great singer, but because I CAN sing decently, and the church was desperate for another soprano. It was a little weird. I won't go into details as to why, but it was knee-quivering weird just being there.

Nevertheless, I was glad to be able to help out. The granddaughter of the deceased is a former classmate of mine, and I am grateful that I was given the privilege of honoring her grandmother with beautiful A Cappella hymns. I am also grateful to have been present to experience something that may forever be emblazened in my brain as a realization that I have evolved and continue to evolve to higher spiritual planes. That experience is the subject of this post.

We sang a few hymns as requested by the family. My uncle, who was also singing with us, then went to the front to read the obituary. That was followed by a recorded hymn which included four different solos. If you have never really listened to A Cappella music, it can be hauntingly beautiful. In this case, haunting and beautiful are both understatements.

The first solo was sung by Melody, a daughter of the deceased, who was most certainly prophetically named. She has such a rich, beautiful contralto voice. Goodness knows it would be almost impossible for a son or daughter to sing at their parent's funeral, but thanks to technology, everyone will remember her resonant, unquivering voice delivering its message of triumph for her mother.

The second and third solos were sung by two ladies, both dear friends of the first soloist and members of the same singing group. Again, their voices are simply beautiful, and their recorded solos resonated through the church auditorium with an almost indescribable richness.

Then came the fourth solo. I don't know that I would have reacted the same way had I heard the song in a different setting, yet because we were at a funeral, my reaction was one that will be remembered for a very long time. The fourth soloist was a tenor. His voice was sweet and familiar. The wife he had left behind was sitting on the pew beside me as the other "desperation soprano". You see, Deryl left us a few years back to go hang out with his Jesus. Cancer took him from this dimension at a very young age. Yet there he was, right in our midst. His voice was as alive and full of beauty as it had ever been. I struggled to hold it together. I was not ABOUT to cry. No sir. Not me. I sat as still as a rock, not even daring to breathe. I swallowed hard a couple of times. I cut my eyes sideways enough to notice his widow reach for a tissue and wipe her eyes.

Let's be clear...he was the auditorium...with us. It was like he was heaven's usher reaching his hand out to the spirit of the lady whose body lay in the casket, his pure sweet voice singing its song to guide her confidently to her eternal home and the arms of her Father. Shivers literally rocked my entire body. My throat gets tight and my eyes well up even now as I think about it. Yes, he was there. I could not see him, but I certainly felt him.

There are those who say the deceased cross over and never come back to us. They base this belief on the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus found in the New Testament. In that story, both the rich man and Lazarus die. Lazarus goes to paradise and the rich man finds himself in torment begging for a drink of water to cool his burning unquenchable thirst. When Abraham insists that Lazarus cannot and will not cross over to bring the rich man water, the rich man asks Abraham to let Lazarus go back to warn the rich man's brothers about the impending doom that awaits them. Again Abraham refuses to honor the request citing that it would do no good as they would not listen to a dead man's ghost anymore than they would listen to the prophets.

Many people for any number of reasons have their spiritual radar turned off. For them, as it was for the rich man's brothers, it would be a total waste of time for a spiritual being to attempt to communicate. They would reject the communication attempt as a figment of their imagination or attribute it to something they could easily explain away such as too much alcohol, fatigue, or being overly emotional and distraught.

Yet for those who are open and receptive, visits from the spiritual realm are a peaceful reminder that we are interconnected throughout eternity. Those of us who still possess a mortal body find comfort in knowing that even in passing, our loved ones are merely changed, not gone. They have been set free of the physical restrictions that the rest of us must still endure for awhile longer. Sometimes they find ways to let us know everything is okay. Other times, they provide us with a playful reminder of the things they loved.

Some Christians will see this description as contradictory to scripture. Others reading this will release a resounding AMEN and follow up with thanks for having the courage to put into words the things they have secretly felt for quite some time. Still others will simply say, "I never really thought about it like that. Maybe so, maybe not."

Jesus Christ came in part to enlighten us. A portion of his task was to lift our thinking and intentions to a higher plane--one on which we could fully communicate with him and with the Father. He told his disciples that's why he spoke in parables. The average person was incapable of understanding the spiritual message behind his stories. Yet his disciples, those whom he had chosen and those who had chosen him had been elevated to higher plane of enlightenment and understanding. They had the ability to "get it".

Saturday morning, when I realized what I was feeling as I heard the beautiful voice from beyond, I held a small celebration inside of my heart. I have come such a very long ways from where I once was. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to understand the many ways in which God communicates with his chosen ones. Some have the luxury of willingly choosing to communicate with God. Others like Saul of Tarsus and Angie of Texas had to be dropped square on their heads before they would or even could allow themselves to be lifted up to higher planes where communication with God is possible. I would suggest the need for aspirin, but the elevation and being in the presence of the Great Physician has done wonders for coping with the pain that I occasionally experience.

Hey Deryl, thanks for stopping by. It's been way too long. Let's do it again some time. Maybe next time a few more of your friends will get to experience your presence. 'Til then........

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My "One Thing"

I found a blog post this week that was entitled "What is the One Thing in Your Life?". The author was making reference to the movie "City Slickers" where Jack Palance tells Billy Crystal that the secret to life is One Thing, and he (Billy Crystal's character) has to figure it out for himself. Like the author of the post, I remember being struck by the profoundness of that statement, and to this day, City Slickers remains one of my all time favorite movies.

After reading Mary Jaksch's post, I again returned to that question. What is the one thing in my life that makes me me? Like her, there are several areas about which I am passionate. I am passionate about my amazingly wonderful husband. I am passionate about how much I love my kids yet want them to grow up and leave home. I am passionate about teaching others what I know about health and wellness. I am passionate about wanting to feel in control of my health and wellness. Maybe passion is my one thing? Or maybe not.

I am finding that my passions change as I grow older. When I was 18 years old, I was passionate about getting off the farm and having a real life. As I got a bit older and snagged one of my passions (the one that hasn't changed to whom I am very happily married), I wanted my kids to have neighbors they could easily visit. I wanted cable TV. I wanted newer vehicles. I wanted a big, nice house. I wanted to be free from mice and rattlesnakes, passionately.I wanted a job that paid decent and provided a long vacation. So I became a teacher.

Time rolled on, and I quickly discovered that I was NOT passionate about least not teaching children. I became passionate about computers, which is really ironic since only a few years earlier I professed my total disdain for the horrid beasts. Now I find that my passion for computers, or at least my desire to work with them and with people as they relate to computers, is gone. Not just sort of gone, but majorly gone. Outa here. See ya. Adios! I did learn from the experience that I need to be needed. I enjoy being appreciated. I get a kick out of helping people who truly desire my help and who strive to improve themselves as a result of my assistance. That's pretty amazing stuff. Probably better than any drug I could get off of one of the town dealers. I have also discovered that I am passionate about getting back to the farm...sort of. Maybe back to the land is more accurate. I want to be self-sustaining as much as possible. I want smaller, not bigger. I think I could really enjoy a little cabin in the woods or an RV on the ocean's edge at this stage of my life.

If my passions can change so easily, then PASSION must not be my One Thing. It can't be. The One Thing is a constant, right?

I'm sure there are plenty of well meaning Christians out there who would suggest that if Jesus were my one thing, I would have total peace and love life no matter what comes my way. Well....I hate to disappoint, but Jesus is NOT my one thing. I mean I like him and all that, but he simply is not what rocks my world. He is not the butter on my hot biscuit. He is definitely the jelly, but not the butter. Jelly is good. Jelly is good alot. Yet I can eat biscuits without jelly, but I just can't quite get them down without butter. Yep, Jesus is my jelly, but not my butter.

Then it hit me. There is one thing that keeps me going. There is one thing that I scratch and claw to recover when it seems lost. There is one thing that if you take it from me will instantly turn me against you for life. It is the one thing that I most resent losing.

For me, the One Thing is FREEDOM.

I need freedom. I want to be free to choose my life's destiny. I need to be free to choose what is best for my family and myself. I passionately desire freedom from government regulation. I desperately want freedom from the energy grid. I ache for freedom from status quo. I must feel the wind in my hair while being free from time. I long to experience the smell of an Hawaiian hibiscus flower without ever once thinking about how much the motel room is costing me. I want to walk hand in hand with my husband through the Alaskan wilderness as we gaze at some of the most pristene and awesome beauty on our planet without a moment's thought about restrictions. I want to be free from stuff. I want to be free from banks and creditors and regulators. I want to freely choose how to educate my kids. I want to choose who I help and when. I want to live and work on a piece of land without fear of the government taking it away because I didn't contribute to their ludicrously stupid corporate welfare programs. I want essentially what George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry wanted.

The irony of freedom is it comes at high costs. The pendulum swings to the extreme because humans seem unable or unwilling to strike a balance. We desired absolute freedom from disease and death, and so we have become slaves to the pharmaceutical companies. We desired freedom from crime, and now we risk losing our right to own a gun with which to defend and protect ourselves. We chose freedom from terrorism, and now we are slaves of the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. We wanted freedom from labor intensive small farms, and now we are slaves to a paycheck. We wanted freedom from processing and storing our own food, and now we are slaves to processed foods and the Food Industry giants. We wanted freedom from darkness, and now we suffer from sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue syndrome while our kids develop autism from mercury poisoning at an alarming rate. It's quite an ironic twist.

Nevertheless, my One Thing remains Freedom. People died for it. People have died to keep it. Unfortunately people will probably have to die to get it back.

For now, I will point my life in a direction that will provide as much traditional freedom as I can achieve. I am coming the my Mother health and wellness.

How about you? What is your One Thing?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Peak at the Plan

This universal power, this force of nature, this entity many of us call God is absolutely the coolest, most amazing, and totally awesome force in the universe.

I have spent the last few weeks visualizing my business future. After all, if you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it. A key chunk of that visualization was the recognition that one of the old buildings downtown is part the destiny of my business. It is terribly run down and in need of much work, but it is 5000 sq feet and two stories of space for my Wellness Center.

The building has been for sale, but I really didn't realize it until earlier this week. Last Sunday morning, Hubby and I were feeding the critters on the farm when I decided to tell him about my feelings about the building. Imagine my surprise when he told me he had wanted to buy that building 20+ years ago to live in it. How awesome is it that we both had an interest in the building? I have been saying for quite some time that he and I are truly soul mates, yet I have been about 20 years behind him in acquiring some spiritual elements that he mastered long ago. I'm catching up.

Anyway, I decided to contact the realtor about the building. I knew we were not in a position to make another purchase of that magnitude, even though the building is a steal at $30K. I just wanted to put out there that we had a vision for the building and maybe find out what was going on with it. I had already made up my mind that God would find a way for that building to land in our laps without us having to expend a lot of money to make it happen. How wasn't clear, but I felt like that was what was/is supposed to happen.

The realtor emailed me back with the news. They are closing on the building on Friday, which I presume is today. For a split second my hopes were dashed, then as I kept reading, and re-reading, and re-re-reading, I realized what he was saying. The new owners would be glad to show us the building and they are interested in ideas about what to do with it.

Did I understand that right? They bought the building not sure of what they would do with it, and here I was with oodles of ideas for it? Could that really be right? I quickly wrote all of my ideas in an email to the realtor. He probably thinks I'm totally nuts. Maybe not. I didn't tell him all of what had been going on in my head, so maybe I'm sort of safe.

Then I called Eric, and a wave of emotion and awe came over me like a tsunami. How is this possible? It was as if my vision were coming to pass. A way is being made to realize my dream. (Did I mention that the realtor included the line about being in the dream making business in his email?) All of this had been put into motion long before I caught the vision of using that building or having someone else funding it. I was overwhelmed with love and admiration for the Master of the Universe.

Some would be tempted to enter a realm of shock and disbelief. Not me. This is one more piece of evidence I continue to need to know for certain that I am on track to fulfill God's plan for me. I am taking what many would consider a huge risk in leaving a stable and comfortable job to enter the unknown. Yet it isn't unknown for me. God continues to remind me that what appears to be shaky, unstable ground under my feet is in fact solid because he is removing everything that is unstable. He told me I would walk on water with him. I believe it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Oldest Superstar

My oldest had the honor of playing in the Golden Spread All Star Volleyball tournament this weekend on the South team. The cool part is that the volunteer who coached her team is a Tulia native. Here are some pictures my dad made. We're gonna make a professional vb photographer out of him yet.

Erika goes up for the kill.

And another smash.

That's what I call gettin' some air time!

Going up for the block.

The Wall of Women--Impenetrable.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What'll It Be?

There are some other blogs out there that I enjoy reading, and occasionally I find myself forced into posting a response on one. This week, I read Trey Morgan's post about being tired of hearing everyone whine about the economy. Me being me, I agreed with him and posted some comments about how watching the play by play on the news actually attracts more bad economic results whereas turning it off and realizing that we have the most powerful force in the universe on our side would improve things.

One of his other readers posted a touching story about her father losing his job and not being able to find another one. It was one of those "be careful what you say unless you are living the hell" sorts of things. She made a very valid point. It is easy for me to advocate thinking positive as the cure for all that ails us as long as my paycheck is there every month on time and in the amount I expect to receive.

Yet someone on the blog went on to talk about God needing some people to be financially poor so we could relate to and reach the lost who are poor, even suggesting that some of us are supposed to be poor because that's what God wants for our lives.

Sorry folks. I just can't go there. This is the fatalistic flaw in so many Christian beliefs. How DARE we suggest for even one second that God would decide I get to be rich, but your destiny is to reach the poor who are lost, so you have to live in poverty like they do. That would be akin to my husband saying to two of my daughters, "Here you go,'s the deed to the house, your college paid for, a new car for each of you, and an oil well (or wind turbine) just for grins." He then would turn to the other two and say, "Okay, you two ....well...gee whiz, just can't handle money, so I'm not going to allow you to have a dime. Besides, you have poor friends and they might feel alienated if I allow you to be wealthy."

What earthly father would treat his children with such favoritism and unfairness? We all know what we would think of such a father. "....If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11.

All my life, I have been preached to about how God only gives us what we can handle and no more. That has been stretched and applied to so many areas of our lives in such inappropriate ways. Why is Solomon any more worthy of riches than I am? Did God love him more than he loves me? Am I somehow unworthy or too stupid to handle wealth at the level that Solomon had (adjusted for inflation by today's standards, of course)?

This Father to whom many of us have abdicated all responsibility for our success is the same Father who designed the most amazing garden imaginable for two most precious beings. That amazing garden met all of their needs. Oh yeah...right....they sinned and got kicked out, so now he plays favorites with the rest of us and only the chosen ones get to be wealthy and well-fed. I'm not buying it! "...there is no favoritism with Him." Eph. 6:9

Jesus Christ may have come to be the ultimate perfect sacrifice for our sins, but he also came to deliver a message that God's chosen had somehow missed over the years. He came to tell us that we can have anything we want if only we will ask for it, then truly believe we are already in possession of it. He did not include exceptions in that message. He did not say, "....If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, your Father in heaven will give good gifts to those he thinks can handle them, but some of you have to remain poor or we can't reach the lost."

Jesus made believers out of poor people by showing them amazing things....miracles that exceeded anything they ever imagined possible. He produced thousands of dollars in food out of a couple of scrawny fish and a few biscuits. He did not walk around the crowd and offer the food to those who could handle it while withholding it from those who needed to remain hungry. All were deserving of his gift. As a matter of fact, he produced and offered 12 full baskets more than they could handle.

He was placed on a cross because he was a threat to the status quo. The wealthy were scared to death of how he was empowering the poor. The poor were afraid of having to take responsibility for their own quality of life. We, too, are doing this same thing today. Our churches teach the ask, seek, knock principles, yet the moment someone takes that concept to a level that elevates their life circumstances a little more than what the rest of us can handle, we start looking for the evil in their lives. We claim they are into New Age or Eastern religions. We suggest that they are elevating themselves to the level of God Almighty and then proceed to find ways to persecute them.

But wait. Are we not made in the image of God? Is not Christ our brother? Are there not references in the Inspired Word of God to the Son of Man? The Word? The Light of the World? That's just too New Age. How dare I.

And so I digress. My point in this spiritual rant is that I take issue with the notion that a loving, fair, just God chooses some of his children to be financially blessed and others to be destitute. How dare we assign responsibility to God for such situations. And don't even suggest that they are Satan's doing. It also has nothing to do with our parents, although parents can leave us with some pretty bizarre beliefs about money and wealth. Country of origin can certainly complicate things, yet God moved Abraham and made him filthy rich, so I'm not buying that one either.

There is only one place to assign responsibility for our personal level of financial achievement or lack thereof, and that is squarely on our own shoulders. Yes folks, it is time to quit the whining about how bad things are and begin asking, seeking, and knocking, all the while fully expecting and visualizing having it all. The Father, your Father, wants you to swim in it, sleep in it, eat from it, dance in it, and most importantly share it. God is not the one who determines whether you can handle it or not. You are!
Your choices and your decisions in life have placed you exactly where you have landed, yet God is more than willing to pick you up and deliver you to a new level if you truly desire the change.

He's waiting to take your order. Is that language too strong for some of you? Okay then, he's waiting for you to ask him. He's wrapped around your little finger just like my man is wrapped around the little fingers of me and four beautiful girls. He loves you so much that he'll give you your heart's desire. What'll it be? What will you have? As for me and my house, there's no holding back. We'll take the whole enchilada with grateful hearts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's DAAANNNGGGG Good!!!!!

In an effort to keep everyone up on the career side of my blog, I thought I would share God's latest effort to let me know everything is on the right track.

My oldest has decided she wants to play club volleyball this spring, so away she went on Saturday to club tryouts. Saturday night when we were all back together, she let us know that she was the ONLY 18 year old to show up for tryouts. I'm thinking, "This can't be very good. How's it going to work out?" So I decided to go with her on Sunday for part two of tryouts. I had thought about calling the director and asking if we even needed to bother to show up, but I didn't. We just went.

Sure enough, we got there and she was still the only 18. We had to provide some paperwork, so as I handed it to the director, I asked if she even wanted it. She took it and said, "We have a plan."

Hmmmm.....I thought. Wonder what this could be? Combine Erika with a younger group and make them all play up? There I was trying to help God get things figured out. When will I learn?

About halfway through tryouts, this really nice looking dark headed guy showed up. He looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place him. I wondered what he was there for? Could he be one of the coaches evaluating players? A little while later, I looked up and he appeared to be walking toward me. It was a bit intimidating. I looked around to see if there was anyone else in the vicinity toward whom he could possibly be walking. Nope. I was it. Just me. So I put on my most cordial face, stuck out my hand for the manliest handshake I could muster, and met his greeting.

It seems he was from another volleyball club in town. He and "our director" are friends, so she very graciously called him to come watch Erika and possibly give her a spot on one of his teams. He was to call us back and let us know how it would all work out. He did, and Erika has a team tryout with them this week.

Last night while freezing my fingers off feeding and watering my plethera of livestock, I received a phone call from the other half of our "new" volleyball club. In the process of that conversation about Erika's participation on one of their teams, I revealed my current endeavor of attending massage therapy school. Ten minutes later, he called back, this time to offer to let me schedule massage sessions during team practices since many parents and other family members are often stuck at their gym for several hours.

I was floored in my awe. I cannot charge for massages that I give while in school, yet I have to get some "practicum" massages done outside of class. By taking advantage of his offer, I can create a clientele in the Amarillo area. Also, some of their players are traveling all the way from Lubbock to play with them, so there is also a possibility of establishing a clientele in Lubbock as well. My speciality is sports massage, so what a great opportunity to get to the heart of my desired clientele. The club director gets a bonus in that he can offer his parents some value added for their choice to participate in his program. It's a classic Steven Covey Win-Win for everyone.

I had mentioned in earlier posts here and here how God has revealed to me through a series of dreams that He is removing everything that seems to be shaky ground about my transitioning into a new career. I stand in total awe of His amazing ability to do exactly what He said He would do. I know He has a plan for the next phase of my life and that I can relax and enjoy the ride into that next chapter. When the time is perfect, He will reveal to me each part, each phase, each doorway through which I get to walk. How cool!!!

Now, God, I'm ready for you to reveal to us exactly how we are going to pay for Erika to participate in the club ball. It ain't cheap! And yet, I know this is from you, and I know you have a plan. I'll be waiting to see what you reveal to us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sports Parents and School Administrators

This is probably going to be one of the touchiest blog posts I've written so far. When it comes to youth and teenage sports, most of the adults involved are overly sensitive. Parents expect their children to be given a fair shake and a certain level of protection. School administrators want everyone to be nice and cheer but not gripe. Officials want to call the game, get their paycheck, and get out the door without being lynched. Everyone has a legitimate reason to be on high alert in the youth sports environment.

Our local parents and school administration are no exception, and if anything, we may be in a heightened state of alert because of the investment of time and energy some of our families have put into their respective sports. As with any difficult situation, there are ALWAYS two sides. Sometimes the sides are unable or unwilling to see things from the other point of view. My intention is to provide some perspective as to what I see as being both sides of the local sports parent issue. I'm probably also subjecting myself to some type of self-correction by writing this since we tend to see the faults in others that are most glaring in our own lives.

Back in the day (1983), a teenage girl hit the basketball court and played hard for four quarters. Her greatest concern for her personal safety was a bad landing following a rebound that resulted in a sprained ankle, someone's boney rear end blocking her out a little too efficiently, or the rare but not unheard of blown knee, which was usually the result of a pivot gone bad rather than the modern day football tackle seen on basketball courts across America. Physical contact wasn't tolerated by refs. There was no grabbing of the shirt, no reaching to knock the ball out of your opponent's hands, and even the cleanest of blocked shots was probably going to land you a foul. Basketball was basically a non-contact sport.

At that time, the majority of parents didn't feel qualified, nor did they feel the need to coach from the bleachers or scream obscenities at the refs. Don't get me wrong. There were some, and I could probably name names from the mid 1980's of our local poster parents for bad sports fan behavior. However, those were few and farther between than they are today.

My parents were great, and yet I didn't realize how great they were until I started noticing how I was acting toward my daughter. My parents only came to home games. It was rare that they traveled to an out of town game unless it was some place within a 30 minute drive. During the game, I never heard my parents yell or try to tell me what I should be doing. They clapped when something went well, and for the most part, I think they sat quietly and observed during the less than pleasant times. After the game, they would comment on the things I did right. I don't remember a single time that negative feedback was given about my performance. The closest thing to a negative was an occasional, "It was a tough game, wasn't it?"

That kind of parent behavior is rare today. Most parents have invested extraordinary amounts of time, money, and emotion into their kids' sports talents. In a few cases, they may know more about that sport than the person the school hired to coach their child. They are passionate about their kids, passionate about the sport, and their pride is wrapped up in that child's performance for better or worse.

Add to that parent passion the evolving world of sports where keeping the game moving, keeping it exciting, and making sure we stay on schedule has become the driving force for many referees. No referee wants to be known for making a JV game last two hours because s/he called a foul every time a player breathed in another player's direction. Basketball has turned into a full contact sport in many cases, and it is rare that a game goes by that someone doesn't sustain some type of injury. Few things bother a parent more than feeling like the adult in charge is turning a blind eye to their child's need for protection. Mama and Papa Bear instincts are strong, and if the designated adult won't do the job, right or wrong, the Bears feel like they need to step in and fulfill their God-given obligation to protect their offspring.

Recently, all of our local basketball parents received a letter from the athletic director reminding us of UIL rules regarding appropriate fan behavior and the consequences for inappropriate behavior. It was a blanket generic letter. There was no mention of specific incidents or examples of inappropriate behavior on the part of local parents, however, I suspect that a series of highly emotional ball games in which girls were injured and officials were seen as not doing their job adequately was the catalyst. I have missed most of these games because of my school schedule, thus most of my information is second hand from others who were in attendance.

I have been in attendance at a few games this year, and almost every game last year. I have to admit to being uncomfortable with some of the comments coming out of parents' mouths. One recent example was a parent who didn't like the way the referees were calling, so she proceeded to target a player on the other team (calling out her number) and told the girl she had just better watch it. I believe the opponent was assigned to guard her daughter. Her actions as a fan were totally out of line and inappropriate. There is absolutely no excuse for a parents to direct a verbal attack at the other teams' players. I was annoyed with myself for not having the courage to confront her about her actions.

Another incident I witnessed was almost humorous in retrospect, but really ignorant on the part of us parents. I say us, because I was probably involved in it, too. Same ballgame....we all looked up and there were six players on the court for the opposing team. All of the parents start yelling at the refs about the six players. If we had kept our mouths shut and let the ball be thrown in bounds, the other team would have received a technical foul and we would have had a chance to score two free throws. As it happened, our fans drew attention to the problem and the other team was able to remedy the situation before we got to benefit from it. Aren't we brilliant?!

Apparently there have been a number of other situations recently where local parents felt a strong need to help the refs control the game, or help the coach tell the girls what to do. This has earned us a bit of a reputation with other schools, which is sadly a poor reflection on our community. Such reputations make hiring quality coaches difficult and best and impossible at worst. No one in their right mind wants to work in a community where the parents run the show or even attempt to do so.

We all need to work on remembering that our job is to be our kid's cheerleader. Leave the yelling to the coach. If my kid needs to be yelled at, I can personally guarantee the coach will do it. My girl doesn't need me doing it, too. I need to be there to make everything okay. Too many of us have gotten our roles confused. It used to be that the coach did the tail chewing and parents picked up the emotional pieces. Today it seems as if many parents are doing the tail chewing and the coaches are trying to keep the emotional stability of each girl intact in spite of Mom and Dad. I for one have enough on my plate without adding coach and official to my job description. I think the same probably holds true for most everyone else.

With that said, it is time for me to turn the tables a bit. Remember, when it comes to yelling at the refs, that behavior is often triggered by a perception that the adult in charge isn't doing their job and Mama and Papa Bear need to protect their offspring. In most of the games where I have witnessed parents becoming highly vocal toward referees, there was a significant concern for the safety and well-being of the girls.

Parents sign a waiver to allow their child to participate in sports. While injury risk is an accepted part of participation, parents still have a right to expect a reasonable level of adult control. Allowing obviously dangerous and aggressive behaviors to go repeatedly uncalled on the court is not acceptable. Expecting parents to sit quietly while watching such negligence on the part of officials is equally unacceptable. Unfortunately we have entered an era when work ethic is sorely lacking in all career fields. Officiating is no exception. I have seen refs that take their job seriously, work hard four full quarters of a game, control the game, keep kids reasonably safe, and walk away with my praise and admiration. I have also seen refs who showed up, moved as little as possible while on the court, let all sorts of junk slide by unchecked, and then take their full pay for doing a half-bleep job.

I believe it is the obligation of school officials to notice when tensions are beginning to rise and take appropriate action to calm the concerns. If parents are that upset, then school officials should find out why and address the situation. If the game is being poorly controlled, parents have a right to expect school officials to take reasonable action to correct the situation. By the same token, parents need to seek out school officials and calmly address their concerns one-on-one rather than repeatedly screaming across a gym at the refs. If parents feel they can trust school officials to act in the best interest of their children, I believe most incidents of inappropriate fan behavior can be prevented.

It boils down to this: All parties are responsible for ensuring an enjoyable competition. No one group should be held totally accountable for all instances of misbehavior unless the incident is an isolated one. Yes, there is an occasional nutcase in the stands who needs to be shown the way out the door. For the most part, however, anytime there is group frustration, there is reason to look for the catalyst.

Parents, shut up. Show up to cheer on your kid, but quit trying to play coach and referee. If you want those jobs, apply and get hired. Our kids are literally laughing at our behaviors because we are absolutely absurd. Think I'm joking? Ask them. We are an embarrassment to them. Other parents need to buck up and start self-policing. If you see someone acting inappropriately at a game, have the courage to speak with them privately (not in the middle of the stands or in front of their kid) about your concerns. Part of the problem is we are laughing at and accepting each other's stupid behaviors instead of alienating that which is inappropriate.

Coaches, talk to your team parents. We are sometimes too dense to know what you've got going on. Should you have to tell us? Probably not, but we want to be involved, so get us on your side by keeping us in the loop. We've spent years being very instrumental in their sports career. It's hard for us to suddenly cease being in the know. We are the WHY generation, and we want and need to know why we should buy in to your way of doing things. Let us get inside your head just a bit. It makes it easier to walk a mile in your moccasins when things aren't going our way. Who are the parents who've got your back when things are a little rough? They are the ones you've been talking to on a regular basis.

Officials, do your job and do it well every single time. Police yourselves, and get rid of slackers. They give you a bad name. Yes, I know there is a shortage of willing officials, but there wouldn't be if everyone did the job fair and right. We are trusting our kids futures to your decision-making ability and willingness to control chaos. You would want nothing less for your own child. Keep the game in check and reasonably safe for our kids. And another thing....focus on the game and not on the stands. That's what our kids and coaches have to do. Be like a duck and let it roll off. You look just as stupid as the irrational fan when you engage them.

School Administrators, don't be afraid to find out why people are upset before you throw them out of a game. Communication is a good thing. We would like to feel we can trust you with the safety and best interest of our kids, so prove to us that you are worthy. Again, we are the WHY generation. "...because I know best..." doesn't fly with us. You have to honor that if you desire our respect. If you do not, we probably will not be pleasant people to deal with. Remember, they are OUR kids, not yours. We have entrusted them to you. Their presence improves your bottom line in most cases, and we do have choices.

Now, everybody shake hands and be nice.