Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Trip Home

Every so often we get to make trips home to Phoenix. I am preparing for one now, looking forward to seeing what happens and seeing family.. vacationing a bit with our kids.

I like trips home. It's fun to see family and friends, sad not to be more a part of their everyday lives, and this sad part is true, more sad about some than others. There are special people in my life that I never hear from or get to talk to as much as I would like, and it makes me sad... (perhaps they know who they are) ... but the world keeps turning and these trips do happen from time to time, and they are good for me.

Something happened recently to jostle my memories about one particular trip to Phoenix...about ten or eleven years ago now... It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing... an opportunity to take, and so I was able to. It was to be a ten day trip.

Margarita... (I like to say Margarita sometimes but it's actually Margaret,) was going to Arizona and suggested that we go together since she had family there and I had family there... and she said I could stay with her and life would be cool. So I did, and it was. You would have to know Margarita to know what I am talking about... exactly... I mean to know just how cool.

Well, here is an example of how cool...
We were driving through a BAD neighborhood and she is looking out the window commenting on how pretty everything is... or rather, the pretty things... never mind she did have sunglasses on and we were in an air-conditioned car, (which is a necessity in the AZ heat!) The cool thing about Maragrita is that God has given her permanent rose colored glasses that she wears all the time through which she views life, seeing the good and lovable in most everything... Did I meantion this was an ugly neighborhood and the heat was glaring and I did not have sunglasses on at the time... I made her take her sunglasses off and take a real look and do you know what? She still found joy in our surroundings. This... is just one example of "cool."


It was a bit of a drive everyday to see my mom, which is who I went to see mostly, but with the new freeway system that they had it only took about 20 minutes in my cool rental car. Jars of Clay became my carpool buddies and off I went each day to visit mom, who was living in a nursing home that she didn't like very much. Margaret would go and do whatever she did all day and I would go and do my thing and then we would recconect in the evenings and be off for another day.

The first day when I got there I went to see her and we had dinner and went for a walk. I pushed her in her wheelchair outside the nursing home and we talked. She seemed well, but on the second day when I arrived firetrucks and an ambulance was at the home.

Lo and behold, they were even in my mother's room. Off they went to the hospital, and I followed. They told me she had pneumonia.

Upon arrival at the hospital everything was a really big deal... tubes and nurses and doctors were everywhere, and they wanted to know if she was a DNR.


(Do Not Reccessitate) This means that if she were to die should they put her on life support or not... keep her alive, try to save her life.... that kind of thing.

My poor mother. Well, She was definitely a DRN... I had hear it all my life, I had had it drilled into me ... She was definitely a DNR.

She had been through so much in life, and had her share of physical ailments over the years and disabilities on top of it all. Now at 72 she was no, as she would say, "spring chicken." She was now living in a low income nursing home, frustrated with the state of affairs in the family, alienated from everything she loved, unable to do the things she wanted to do, stuck in a bed or wheelchair.... at the mercy of underpaid and overworked nursing home staff... on continual pain medication and now, is stricken with pnumonia... Funny thing was, we had as a family been down this road so many times before. It was nothing new.

Well, I called all my family members and told them the situation. I was ready for anything. Mostly I hoped she would get better and we could have some time together. This was not at all what I expected. I expected to be taking her to lunch today... or to visit family. Instead I got to sit in the waiting room of the County Hospital watching as people rushed to help someohne who came in with gunshot wounds.. crying babies.... people feeling sick... big city hospital stuff like that. I did meet one man, a Christian man in the waiting room that day and we talked about the Lord as we sat there together. THAT was encouraging to me.... Then I was able to go and see my mom.

Each day of my trip was a blurr after that... but each evening I would meet up with Margaret and tell her everything that transpired. God had obviously prepared this for me to walk though and here I was.. walking through it, amazed to see all the little things he did and cared about. Praying to be faithful to the call... and be there for my ailing mother.

For years I had been praying, asking God to send someone to share the gospel with my mom, not that I didn't already, not that she had never heard, but she had issues. She knew about God, she believed in God... but she didn;t know him or trust him, most of the time. Faith is always a struggle, but because of her illnesses and her life, she felt unlovable, like she was being punished for sin... getting what she deserved...stricken by God. I think suffering sometimes just amkes a person want to die... and often, she just wanted to die and hope for the best. Little did I know, god had this plan to send me.

The trip was a trip! It was ten days of being blown away by the power and expertise of a mighty God.

My mom was alert, but on morphine most the time. she was on oxygen and sheared a room with four other people. She would come in and out of sleep and consciousness, and when she did we would have a chance to talk.

It was during one of these conversations that I asked her about her faith. She assured me that she was catholic. I said, I know Mom... but tell me, you know Jesus died for your sin... because God loves you... and because you believe in Jesus, when you die... you will go home to be with the Lord... in heaven.. forever?

She said, of course I believe in Jesus...

I tell you, one minute later a man came into the room. He barely looked up from a black book in his hands and but said, my mothers name s if asking if indeeed this person in the bed was she. I sid yes and he introduced himself as father so and so and said he was there to give her the last rites. Without even looking at us, he stood at the foot of the bed, ask my mother if she wanted to receive the last rites.. (of the Catholic Church) to which she said "yes" and proceeded to read something... from his book, make the sign of the cross over her bed and then saying good day, he turned and walked away.

That was it, the last rites. Although I know she had had "the last rites" more than once in her life.

It was quite a little ritual in my mind as I sat there, privy to it all, thinking in my head how glad I was that I had just had that conversation with her about Jesus, hearing her tell me that she believed Jesus died for her sin and she believed in Jesus... I kinda rejoiced in my heart, thankful that God was there BEFORE this man came in.

To this man I felt like my mom was just a name on a list and not really a person to visit and comfort. There was no real conversation. The man was a robot. He looked a little like Don Novello, but there was nothing amusing about the visit. There was no compassion. He didn't even touch her, or hold her hand or pray for her; he didn't ask her or me if we needed anything. There was no eye contact. He simply asked it she was the right person, said some words, asked her a question, and said some more words and left. It was as if he was going threough the motions, simply getting through a long list for the day. In a couple of minutes, he was off...

I wish I remember what-all he said. Whatever it was she agreed. In my mind, whatever it was didn't matter because one thing was certain... she believed in Jesus and believed she would go to be in heaven with the Lord when she died, not because of what she did or didn't do, not because she gave enough money at the church, not because she was good enough to escape the reality of hell... complete separation from God, but because God loved her and sent Jesus who being the exact representation of God, took her place in death. She believed on the one who God sent...

It was on Sunday that my mother died. I had gone to church, seeking some fellowship with Christians who could pray for me. I prayed with the pastor, Mark was his name... because I was a wee bit stressed out. I would be leaving in just a few days and concerned about leaving her in the hospital. (could I stay longer?) I wondered what that would be like and needed encouragement in trusting the Lord through all I foresaw as possibilities. I was thanking God for the many things I could see him doing in my life, in my family... and when I arrived back at the hospital, I entered the room and saw that she had died.

The woman in the bed across the room said no one had been in for a while and my mom was sleeping. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I perceived that she was dead. I just called the nurse.

We arranged a memorial service to which many family members came. Some of my mother's sister were there. My sister even made it. The fact that we had the memorial service before I felt was amazing too. An answer to prayer.

At a memorial service, people get up and say things...

Someone said it was a blessing that she died because now she would not suffer anymore. I got up and said that death was not the blessing, eternal life through faith in Christ was, despite death and suffering. I told of how blessed it was that my mom knew that she was going to heaven because of Jesus.

This was followed by a rebuttal from a catholic family member who was mad at me and insisted that my mother was Catholic, a good Catholic... and that she even prayed the rosary! I hope that means that Catholics believe in Jesus and will because of him will go to heaven when they die... but the rebuttal effect, the sharpness of the remark really made me wonder. (Even though I think I understand what "Catholics" believe, and this because I have read what the Catholic books and teachings say... at least in English.) The sharpness of the remark reminded me that this life is spiritual battle for the souls of men and women. In my mom's case, the matter is settled and quite frankly, I have to believe God won.

Did I mention that on our way to Phoenix the Airlines (Alaska Airlines) gave us a little card on our dining tray... It was the picture of a sunrise and it said, "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30." Margaret and I were pretty amazed. It was amazing to think that the Airlines would even distribute such a thing... but then this is America.... The little card e en says, "Alaska Airlines." But you know we were even more impressed that on the return flight home we got another card on our tray. This one was the picture of an evening sky and it read, " I will be glad and rejoice in you: I will sing praise to yourname, O most High. Psalm 9:2" I still have these little cards in my bible.

With all the adventures done Margarita and I headed home.. as scheduled... talking laughing rejoicing in what God had done and shown us on this trip, wishing life was always such an adventure.

Funny thing it is... we just often fail to realize the miracle of faith and the miracle of grace and JEsus... even this thing called life that we are living in.

Need those "rose colored" glasses, I guess...

Jesus.. that " sweet rose " of Sharon...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Video o' de Day

Lord, reign in me.

Four minute video posted by Michelle.

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Day Last Summer

I just posted about the hole in my favorite table cloth, caused by a fire which was started by a pitcher of water. Well, this reminded me of another story that took place this last summer in which I put out another fire on a table I was seated at. It was one of those situations that would have been a disaster, but thank God! It wasn't.

I was at the Red Lion Inn in downtown Spokane for a luncheon for the Union Gospel mission. The tables were all decorated with candles and ferny plants. The speaker was great (and so was lunch) and it was almost over. I glance at the candle burning on my table.

I hate candles. Well, they are pretty, but I never light them without watching them closely and a rarely even if ever do that. This is only because I know they are a fire hazard, so I guess it drew my attention for a moment there because I know that table decorations that are ferny and candles that are aflame are a recipe for fire.

In that one instant I looked at the candle on my table and thought, "It would be a bummer if the fern caught on fire." I looked away and moments later, (I was not even looking, but I saw it out of the corner of my eye...) to my surprise, a fern was sparking, sparlking and in the next moment, it was really, truly, on fire.

I must have seen it coming.

Well, being as I had had practice putting out table fires before, I sprung into action and extinguished it by smothering it and this with only a minor injury to myself. The fern was plastic and the hot plastic burned me when I smothered it. Unfortunately I used my lyphademic arm, as I am right handed, and so, it was an injury non the less... yet minor. The hot plastic from the plant made a little burn. Here is an incredible thing too. No one, no one but an older woman at my table saw it happen besides me. She sent me off to go and see if some cold water on it would help.

It was amazing. The whole table could have caught ablaze, which could have been quite a disaster if you ask me. I just happened to see it as it happened, and reacted. I kinda felt like Elasta-girl. Amazing.

If only I could always be so attentive.

How do you start a fire?

I was folding laundry a moment ago, one of my favorite tablecloths and I remebered something that I think is worth a blog.

One day, one summer day, I was having a patio lunch of sandwiches with friends Nancy and Steven on my new deck and we were using this particular tablecloth. We were talking, having a laugh or two after eating, George was meandering around the yard doing some things when he made himself conspecously noticed and said, "Who of you over there is smoking?"

We laughed some more.

None of us were even smokers. We had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

He said, "I saw some smoke and I was just wondering what it was."

It was kinda funny, until I looked down and realized the table was on fire. Right there, smack dab in the middle of the table! The tablecloth was on fire!"

Needless to say I put it out. It did leave a hole in my favorite tablecloth, a hole which is there until this day. But As I told you not of us were smoking. It was Steve and me and Nancy at the table, nothing but a plastic piture of water and the plates leftover from our food.

Upon further investigation we discovered that what must have happened was a magnification effect of the sunlight streaming through the piture of water, causing a point of light much like a magnifying lens would do. It was amazing to consider. I was glad I was there and had not left the pitcher sitting on the table and walked away.

Imagine if we had not known the table was on fire, or being the insurance agent that has to file a claim like that. We have a riddle of the sphynx kind now, it goes like this:

"How do you start a fire with water?"

You know the answer now.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And that reminds me of a story.....

One dayin the summer of 08, I was at home, minding my own business when my phone rang. It was a friend of mine who happened to be at the local mega store, mulling over the book section. Something unusual caught her eye; a series of books for children titled " African America Heroes: Barak Obama" She called me on her cell phone to tell me how strange she thought it was.

"Is he a hero?" she said. "What has he done to be called a hero?"

Well, he was a presidential candidate, Senator too, but hero?

I had to think of the definition...
1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is
regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
4. In Classical Mythology.
a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
(in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
(in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.

"Hmmm," was all I could say. I had to think about that one. Obama was not necessarily the principal character in America. I had never heard of him being in the military or saving someone from a burning building or something like that. It is only four letters long, but "Hero" was a pretty strong word.

Between the two of us, we couldn't think of anything specific we had ever heard of Obama ever having had done to be considered a "hero." with the publication date on the book being March 2008, we felt it was a little premature to rank him up there with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln... who often are though of as political heroes, but the man Obama, had not even been elected president yet.

I thought I'd see what the American Heroes book had to say about this "African-American Hero." the book review at says that first through third grade kids who read this book can read about Obama's "exotic pets and food delicacies that Obama encountered during his time in Indonesia" as well as, "his young struggles to embrace his biracial identity."

Hero? Hmmm... Well, It takes a lot of courage to run for president, but lots of men have run for president, they've not all been referred to as "heroes." Why him?

Before hanging up the phone we decided that it was quite a bit of propaganda being put on display at the store and also in the hands of little kids to call this man a "hero." After all, if you thought someone was a "hero" (or a demigod of special strength, courage, or ability,) wouldn't you want to vote for them? Lots of Senators could be role models... Do we see books that call them "heroes?'


This book was strange if you ask me, and it seemed like political propaganda, packaged so as to o help get the man elected by calling him a "hero." It's almost like by saying something over and over, people will actually begin to believe it, if they hear it often enough. So now we apparently all think he is a "hero" and the "hero" was awarded the Noble Peace Prize last week. Now the whole world is feeling a little bit like I did when my friend told me about that book; people everywhere are wondering what the Prize was given to him for and no one knows.

All they know is that he offers hope to the world.. he must be a god or some kind of "hero." Too bad no one knows what heroic things BArak Obama did.

Wow. There seems to be a trend.


Well, you just never know what a day will bring... I am having one of those four season days... lot's going on. Beside the usual busyness, I just read the news...

Did you know, it's only nine months into his presidency and Barak Obama is the man best serving the world? ( not just the US mind you.) I just read that he is now the proud recipient of a little bundle of joy... the Nobel Peace Prize!

The whole world was basically surprised when Barak Obama, President of the USA, was given the Nobel Peace Prize...recently, or is that the "noble peace prize"... or maybe the, "no-bell, piece price..." I just wish it were the no-bull peace prize!

Well, whatever it is, I feel a little bit sorry for the man OBAMA. Apparently there are people who think they can pull strings with this man, in this case by flattery and making him feel "special," to the world. If the Peace Prize doesn't make a man like Obama feel special, or make him feel like he is "doing good," with all of his programs and czar appointees over our nation, what will?

It's remarkable that he has gotten this award, which also comes complete with a cash award of 1.4 million dollars or so. I do not think the money will be given to the US treasury though, although it would be a nice addition, help pay for some of those programs, or maybe a new White House lawn. Obama says he will give the money to "charity."

Isn't that noble?

(I wonder what charities he likes the best.)

So I think now how it is that this bunch of wealthy and seemingly important "worldly" individuals who award a prestigious sounding award, (the Nobel Peace Prize) to our US President, and wonder what exactly Obama did.... and I wonder who the other, some 197, other nominees were and if any of them were really deserving of the prize , and I think, " Wow. Our US president is now right up there with some very famous people...

...really BIG names like Mother Teresa.. the Dali Lama.. Mikhail Gorbechev ...Martin Luither King Jr, not to mention, Al Gore... Albert Einstien.. Anwar al-Sadat,and Menachem Begin (the two opposing ideologies who were awarded together, mind you... have won this prestigious recognition of their work. We all know what Yasser Arafat, who was award the Noble Peace Prize, did for peace, (we do?) but what about Barak Obama?
hmmmm {see:} AND BE SURE TO CLICK ON THE NAMES TO SEE MORE OF WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE) I cannot help but wonder if Obama has to appease the group, since he accepted the fame and fortune, after all, they could easily change their minds about what an awesome man he is if he didn't live up to this peaceful reputation.

Yes, if you are awarded such a prestigious award, allowed to join the ranks of such a fine and famous class of world citizenry, as other winners of the prize, you would think that you had done something to be recognized for... but I am only one of millions of people around the world wondering, trying to figure out the awarding committee’s rationale. It's all over the papers... people are asking what it is that Obama has done in his short lifetime to earn such praise.

It's odd. Mr. OBAMA himself, CNN NEWS, the Associate Press and even most Americans, do not even know what exactly Obama did to deserve such a thing.

Truth is, most of us do not know whether to laugh or applaud. And we wonder if the purpose of the award was to manipulate OBAMA, manipulate his Presidential actions and decisions, or perhaps manipulate the minds of those who see this OBAMA "the great man of peace" receive such a dignified honor... after all, not everyone gets a prize like this one.

(What a hero.)

And as for manipulation. not only that, but president OBAMA, is right in the middle of making some serious decisions relating to war.... lives of people.

What would you do?

Cease fire?

Remove troops?

Call more troops to war?

Oi vey... it would be so confusing...

Do you war with Afghanistan when you just received the PEACE PRIZE, (???) which is... an internationally recognized prize awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses."

Seriously, what would you do?

Well, since I had no idea WHAT exactly Obama was awarded the Peace Prize for, I looked for and answer to my curiousity as to what the award was for. The Norwegian Nobel Committee (who gave the award) said that it was for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." They also said, "Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

Now granted, Obama is a rather gregarious fellow, and was seen campaigning for the presidency in Germany and Kenya, befriending some of the most notorious heads of state too, since he has been in office representing America. It's almost as if he would happily give them the time-of-day, or something.

As for me and my house, we will spend the rest of today, considering who in the world has ever (to the same extent as Mr. Obama,) "captured the world's attention and given people of the world a hope for a better future."

The only person I can think of really, at least in a positive sense, is Jesus.