Monday, July 27, 2009

On The Other Side of Today

Sunlight streaks across a morning landscape swathed

in greens and blues and hints of brown.

A splash of orange and pink add a flourish

to the masterpiece that is the morning.

Red, white and blue faithfully stand guard

just beyond my window at the entrance of the day,

a subtle reminder of those I do not know or see

who faithfully offer the valuable moments of their lives

in exchange for mine.

I'm greeted by a gentle morning; a calm scene,

sparkling with wonder and promise. Palm fronds shimmer,

hibiscus leaves hold the shadows and patterns

of what lies in the path between them and the new day's glowing plan.

The grass is a canvas of light and dark;

long shadows dwindle as the moments tick by...

Dew sparkles like discarded gems on blades of green,

or as if they've been lost by a youthful morning

as it rushes by on its way to another grown up day.

The brilliance of the moment,

like gleaming treasures in hand, beg to be spent.

The day hasn't made up its mind what it wants to become,

and I watch as it hems and haws from one moment

to the next trying to decide its course.

The pigeons wonder too as they survey the morning

from their lofty vantage point set against a page of blue.

While this sweet-tempered morning fresh with new energy

offers me a palette of colors, plans and choices,

a full-fledged day is well-underway

on the opposite side of my world.

On that face of the globe,

soft sunrise moments have aged into edgy afternoons

shouting their harsh demands.

Adrenaline and strain take their toll;

plans and decisions already unfolded are spent,

wrinkled and caked with the outcome of the hour.

The rising sun creates a halo around the stars and stripes,

reminding me to pray for God's strength and courage

for those living a parallel moment, cultures away.

Kim's son, Doug, on base in Afghanistan

The clouds have wandered off now

and they seem to have left space enough

to write innumerable possibilities on the open sky;

it's a blank and colorful page.

If I could, I'd scribble a handwritten message there in broad strokes

for someone on the other side of this backdrop...

...for one who might be looking up at the same expanse,

wondering if anyone knows or cares

that they are serving faithfully under that sweeping stretch of blue.

I'd sign with my heart and remind them we are only out of sight,

but not too far from their prayers or the power

of God's love to reach beyond the gap.

Then I'd close my eyes and thank Him

that they made it through another day

beneath that common fold.

A goodnight wish seals the ending of my day,

a prayer that they will sleep soundly

under God's ever-watchful care.

Even so, the flag beyond my window moves and waves,

to honor those whose unwavering service lies beyond my sights...

... on the other side of today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

For a Little Inspiration...

If you don't know about it yet, Pat has begun a blog for the Military Prayer Group she established in Texas. 

Pat has a tender heart and is keeping our men and their families wrapped in prayer. If you need some words to calm your wayward thoughts or something insightful or inspirational to challenge your perspective and brighten your outlook, click here and you'll be transported to a place where life slows down and a sense of calm pervades.  

You are bound to step away with a little more hope in your heart after visiting. Enjoy!

There is a link to her blog (for future reference) down on the right sidebar here, along with the other blogs that Semper Gumby is keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It Would Take a Miracle...

A young man at the intersection of youth and adulthood; a mother with a firm grasp of the car keys - I'll admit, I was clinging...for dear life. 

Two generations were about to collide.

When I was a kid, a Driver’s Education class was prerequisite to driving solo. The course came complete with gruesome accident footage and scare tactics that to this day are still on the job.

They’ve hung out stubbornly in the back seat for over 30 years shouting warnings and whispering cautious reminders to keep me in line. Back then, we were required to log time behind the wheel, and training came within a closed course, behind a tall chain link fence and a gate we had to personally shut before we began. 

When we finally ventured into unwitting neighborhoods, we drove slowly under the watchful eye of an instructor whose quick reflexes brought his right foot down hard and fast on that ingenious (and often-used) passenger-side brake pedal. Only after we’d proven ourselves would that incredibly cool sidekick known as Driving Freedom call us by name to sink into the coveted seat behind the wheel. It took years to develop a know-it-all invincibility.

Ah, but a different day had dawned; I had a son now. My 15 year old was still clutching his learner’s permit and he let me know that the driving habits of my past were just a testimony to the inferior hand/eye coordination of a pre-video game generation.  He was The Driving Master - so he boasted. That was... until he drove up the driveway, through the closed garage door, crashing to a halt halfway through his bedroom wall.  

I was riding shotgun that afternoon when the house unexpectedly approached at Mach II. The G-force plastered my head back and peeled my eyes wide, as the door, the wall and everything in-between went by in a blur, then crumbled around us. A prolonged and piercing scream (which I usually reserve for monster roller coaster rides) accompanied me as we were propelled through a barrier we hadn't intended to break. Thankfully, the only injuries sustained were to my son’s delusions of grandeur. 

In the wake of 4 crushed bicycles, downed shelving and the lifetime contents of his closet strewn across the bedroom... a head-in-hands humility emerged from my young driver.  Small consolation, but I found it an odd comfort as I sat in shock surrounded by rubble.  


It was a somehow reverent moment. I knew I might just be witnessing history. I paused to drink it in. Then I squeezed it tightly and shoved it deep into my heart as if to ensure its memory for all time. That moment spent reflecting on my son's humility was tainted by only a few lingering nervous twitches. It turns out though that those twitches have understandably dogged me all these years, and more so with each trip home from the DMV as successive siblings earned similar degrees in driving freedom.  

Watching humility do it’s hard work on my son’s heart was sweet, but it didn't change the fact that I was up to my windshield in garage door and parked in the bedroom closet. It took weeks to dislodge my heart from my throat and months to clear the ruins, but darned if within days the “I know everything about driving” attitude hadn’t raised its teenage head again! Oh boy, opportunities for disaster loomed as near as his 16th birthday. There were miles to go before I’d sleep.  

A generation had passed since my own rite of passage had set me free, and now it was calling again. The garbage collectors had barely cleared the debris when Freedom arrived for my son. It pulled into the driveway, knocked on the door and handed me a bundle of motherly fears to lie awake with at night. My firstborn had made it to his 16th birthday, scored an impressive driver’s license photo and was to be unleashed solo upon an unsuspecting public with a sometimes confused and often heavy right foot. To his credit, he’d logged his miles, made mistakes, endured my driving scrutiny and lectures galore; he was ready, even if I wasn’t. Still, valuable advice poured from my lips like premium from the pump.  

I was standing between my son and a huge milestone on the road to adulthood, and I was about to bite my nails to the nubs. There were dangers ahead. Worst-case scenarios tempted me to cringe and throw his life into park, but I knew there would be other defining moments ahead (would there ever!) and I had to let him head out and meet them. Besides, if I stood in his way, I stood only to gain a really big guy in the passenger seat for the rest of my life, switching radio stations like a man on a couch wields a remote. Better let him go.

So I relaxed my grip to hand over the keys. I masked the shaking in my hand by jingling the keys and beaming my best June Cleaver smile, an anxious-reality hidden just beneath the surface. This was a big day, one of us letting go and cringing inside, the other excitedly embracing a wide-open future. Protective instincts hovered, but the greater mission to empower my son as a responsible and independent young man steadied my hand. 

As the keys changed hands in a ceremonial rite of passage, I waved goodbye, and he drove away to do the first thing any 16 year old with a new license should do... an errand for his mother. Flanked by parental pride to my left and maternal caution to my right, I kept both eyes fixed on the white Honda Civic as it distanced itself from the safety of home. He pulled up to the stop sign at the end of the block to make the left turn. He stopped fully and used his turn signal... I was so proud. Freedom took my oldest out of earshot and my line of sight.

I went to my room to pray.

If you’ve ever seen the classic film, the Princess Bride, you might remember the two elderly and eccentric characters, Miracle Max and Valerie.  They’d created a miracle pill to help the battered and mostly-dead Wesley, the leading man, save Buttercup, the Princess Bride, from the despicable Prince Humperdink.  The couple bids farewell to Wesley and his companions as they stumble off against unlikely odds to battle the forces of evil, overcome the enemy and win Buttercup's freedom.  

Standing together in the doorway, the old couple, enthusiastically wave their goodbyes as they parlay hope and confidence, calling out: “Have fun stormin’ the castle!”  Without missing a beat,  and through still smiling lips, Valerie says in a voice only Max can hear; “Think it’ll work?”, “to which he knowingly replies, “It would take a miracle.” They continue to smile and wave with fervor, and the heroes, bolstered by the couple’s “show” of faith, make their way through the darkness toward their feat of bravery and ultimately victory.   

Like the old couple, we wave from the doorway as our teenagers drive away, and in our case, as our young Marines stand in formation ready to deploy, separated from us and beyond our protective care, facing the unimaginable. We offer our most confident smiles, but our hearts are in a knot, and we’re praying for miracles. 

Be they first time drivers or first time warriors, new challenges they've never imagined await our children. Danger and battle scars are possible beyond deployment day, but they are possible just beyond the driveway as well. The world is no safe haven and thankfully our Marines are willing to do something about it. 

We stand alongside every mother and father who must let go, and in a way, we stand alone and apart because we watch our young men go to battle. That raises the stakes for us and raises the miracle factor. We’ve done our part though, and now we must let our sons, husbands and the Marine Corps do theirs. They are well-trained and they are strong. And as C.S. Lewis implied in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", God may not be safe, but he is good. And just as I did the day my son drove out of sight and alone for the first time, I must continue to do the only valuable thing I can do for him... go to that good God and pray.

With a smile on their lips and a prayer in their heart, they too will one day stand in the doorway, take a deep breath and wave as their own child steps out to face the world, just as we have.  

And the miracle will go on...

"Course he isn't safe, but he is good. He's the King I tell you."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We, The Brave?

Back in 2003 our family watched the movie, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, on DVD after having seen it much earlier at the theater when it was released. 

I was trying to live an impossible scenario at the time, and it was beyond my ability with which to cope or even to drag my feet through some days. As Sam and Froto struggled through their mission, they looked like I felt. Things seemed hopeless, and they were sinking into despair. Boy, could I relate. 

It had been a long haul, and although tempted to turn back, they kept on. Theirs were scary times. They were left doubting their strength to keep up the fight against a barrage of danger, struggle and deathly fear. I realized as this scene unfolded, that like them, I must and could keep on. Maybe God was trying, once again through the movies, to tell me something I would hear no other way.

Like the characters in the movie, it's easy to become overwhelmed by a dark and dangerous mission which I don't always see a way through, and of which I rarely feel worthy. Yet this scene marked a turning point for me, and I wrote about it at the time, watching the scene again and again so I could handwrite the words line by line (pre-youtube) to keep as a reminder. 

We can be just as easily overwhelmed by the mission of our Marines because of our personal and emotional ties... because of the reality of the stand they've chosen to take. Theirs is a mission set against a backdrop of danger and evil, where their strength, courage and love for liberty and the desire to protect it are tested in more ways than we can fathom. 

The story line unfolding seems frightening and overwhelming to us because our lives are intertwined with theirs in inexplicable ways of the heart. But as Sam says in that scene, "There's some good in this world, Mr. Froto, and it's worth fightin' for...". 

And our Marines know the good in this world, and it is something they are "fightin' for".

As the scene comes to a close, Froto notes something significant... (not shown in the video clip): 

"Froto wouldn't have got far without Sam, the brave.", he says.

And our men, our Marines, can and will not get far without us, the brave. We are in this together. Let's remember our part in their mission and take Sam's (and Froto's) words to heart.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Little Bird Told Me

Here is something I wrote about almost exactly 5 years ago to this day. It reminds me of the thoughts many of us seem to be fighting these days, and for what seems to be good reason. I found out otherwise. Thought I'd share it. Maybe you will relate.

I'd been keeping regular company with a whole host of real and potential predicaments. There was plenty to dread going on in my world, and I managed to dread every last sliver of it with amazing flare, and quite on schedule. My thoughts hadn't been the best of company, but "bad company" isn't that easy to dodge once you take up with it. It was 12:30 a.m. when out of sheer exhaustion from worry and fear about the "what-ifs and when's" of the days to come that I gave up my attempt to read and called it a night. 

It felt like the deepest part of my sleep when I first awoke to the fray outside the window. It was a friendly chatter, but completely out of the ordinary, and the little feathered ones carried on as if it were perfectly normal for birds to sing and play at such an hour. I was puzzled... maybe they'd been thrown off schedule, or was I that out of it? Darkness CAN play tricks. 

But no, it was still nighttime, or rather early morning, almost 3:00.  What could have them celebrating at such an odd time? Was it some joyful event in their little fluttery world? Didn't they know that darkness is an occasion when worry owns the wind and finds its well-worn way to the hearts of mothers everywhere?  It's all I seemed to know anyway. 

Even by the next morning as a new day began to sneak past the blinds into the living room, shining little horizontal strips of gold onto the wall, they were still out there, holding their own singing just outside my window.

Somewhere during the party that lasted the night, a sweet little solo artist had stolen the show, and the chatter became a solitary song of one gifted bird serenading me in my half-dream state.  Usually to awaken at such a point would mean certain, daunting thoughts would crawl up and whisper in my ear,  proceeding to hover like something from an ominous movie. After all, nighttime is Worry's very finest hour. Once it makes its cunning move and has me, I am consumed. My mind is easily hijacked during the powerful nighttime quiet that transforms truth into an eerie fiction set before the backdrop of darkness. 

But not this time. This time, my little sentinel kept me company instead. Sweet simple melodies came in through the cracks where the windows won't quite close.  She sang as if perched close enough to calm waking thoughts she knew would be perched at the brink of one of the gut wrenching turmoils I wrestle so well. 

She sang so as to send me a message that sounded something like this:

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly father feeds them... Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

... Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  (Matthew 6:26, 27 & 34)

And the magic of her music brought a calm to a heart well-practiced in the art of fear. So I lie in the dark and listened as if lying back on the lawn at an outdoor concert, lost in the sheer joy of the spectacular moment. I trusted those notes that spoke of my Heavenly Father's love, a love that stopped by in the dark to remind me I am not alone. 

And with that song in the night, I was lulled into a rare and peaceful sleep.

The worries of my day, my fears for the next, and a whole host of possible scenarios that I normally tend to rehearse as if I might (heaven forbid) forget them, were not mine to hold onto after all. 

I know... because a little bird told me.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Just for Fun: A Great American Day - 7-11

Well, it's that glorious time of year... kind of like Christmas in July!



On July 11th (Saturday), 7-11 gives away free sample sized slurpees to celebrate their birthday. 
Count us in again this year.

It'll be our 4th year running.

In the summer of 2006, my son called from college to tell us about this important National Holiday he had discovered...
 so the girls and I took off to 7-11, 
and we've been making the free slurpee trek every year since.

Don't miss out! 
They're good and they're free.

Last year we hit two stores (shhhhh... don't tell!)
One of them even had free birthday cake!
This was our first stop.



God and Country Fly Over Denied

Click on the link for the story. 

Warning: One use of profanity in this article, however I didn't read the comments, so I can't advise there. The "rest of the story" link has the full article from which this was taken.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We all have a lot on our minds lately. We worry, pray and take on a whole host of fears. I doubt that's gonna change anytime soon, so I suggest a short break to do something simply mindless to get us back on an even keel.

Click the photo and you will be directed to Pac Man. I stink at it, but for some reason, I keep trying. I'll post my high score. No doubt someone will easily put me to shame. But let the games begin...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Liberty Enlightening the World

You can read about the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty by 

clicking here

 . There are more photos in the article and a video you can watch that shows what it's like going up inside.

I myself have not been on the island, but back in January 2001, we took the ferry out at around midnight (quite an adventure that would take pages to describe) and saw it, as well as the New York skyline, all lit up. It was an incredible sight. 

An amazing amount of symbolism is represented in the Statue of Liberty, and I love that it's official title is... Liberty Enlightening the World. 

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Greatest Play in Baseball - Rick Monday Saves US Flag

Baseball fan or not... this is a great story:

On April 25, 1976 at Dodger Stadium, Rick Monday of the Chicago Cubs, grabbed and secured the American flag from two protesters attempting to burn our flag in the middle of the playing field. It was an outstanding display of American Patriotism.