Sunday, November 25, 2007

ARK -- Acts of Random Kindness

According to God in Evan Almighty we need to have an ARK in our lives--not just once in a while, but everyday. Evan had wanted to "Change the World." It was his campaign promise. He asked God how he was going to be able to Change the World. God answered him, "Put an ARK in your life." Evan told him that he was doing that--he was building an ark. God told him not an ark, but an ARK, an Act of Random Kindness, built into your day, everyday.

The commercial that is for one of the insurance companies (I think) shows the perfect examples of ARK. The acts that people do, see and then do something for others is the wonderful way that God helps Evan learn how to change the world. We also could learn from these teachings. We don't have to be a community, city, county, state, nation of mean & rude, self-serving, unruly, unloving, greedy people. We should not expect everything to be given to us. We are reminded that those that originally came to this land had to work very hard just to stay alive--let alone to live either meagerly or prosperously. We have always been a nation that works and toils to receive and maintain the rights and freedoms that were so important to those first coming to this land. We should not expect our governments to do for us that that we will not do for ourselves.

We live in an area where Hurricane Katrina led many to the ARK way of life. However, in the process, some have become rude, selfish, and greedy, expecting people to give, give, give and not do anything to help do for themselves. They have become accustomed to the government paying for their housing, their food, and have not tried to achieve a livelihood that includes paying for their own home food, or anything else. They want everything handed to them from either a charitable organization, people that want to see them out of their plight or from the government. I wonder, are any of these people truly thankful for all they have received? Are they thankful for the help and kindnesses shown to them? Many I see that are working so hard to rise from the water and silt that still taints their lives are very thankful. Others though feel it is owed to them and are not at all thankful, but are still demanding more. How can these people be like this? Have we become so greedy and self-serving as a nation that there is no thankfulness left? I certainly hope not.

As part of the resolutions by President Lincoln and then President Roosevelt, we, as a nation, have set apart a day to be thankful for all of the ARKs in our lives, all the ARKs we can give to others, our families, our health, our careers, our friends, and any and everything else that we can be thankful for. We are the only nation (I think) that has a recognized national holiday where we should remember the things to be thankful for; as we have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

This last month has brought about ARKs and things for us to be thankful for in an unforseen manner. To begin with, today is November 25--so the first I will mention is that my son and his wife are celebrating their first anniversary. I don't hear from him, so I am hoping that this was a good year for the two of them.

I have already told about my daughter and her ARK--bringing home the kitten that had been dumped on her campus. Jaspar has been such a joy to watch as he grows and plays. We are very thankful for this ARK and I'm sure that Jaspar is also! After all, instead of foraging for scraps of food, left around campus by the students, he now has a home with other cats to play with and 2 dogs that not only tolerate him, but also will curl up with him to sleep and keep him warm.

The week before Thanksgiving we had a very sick cat, Oreo was taken to the vet and stayed for 2 days receiving IV treatments and being force fed. The doctor never could figure out what had made him so sick and dehydrated! However, we were very lucky that with the IVs and the feedings we were able to revive him back to his old playful self.

In the process, I had an ARK of my own. When I went to pick him up I saw in the cage next to Oreo's at the vet's office was this little, itty, bitty white and strawberry blonde kitten. The tag on the cage said, "One month old male, looking for a home." I told the vet, that if he was still there when we brought Oreo in for a recheck, I would probably take him home with me. Well the following week, I picked up Oreo and there was the little kitten, climbing the bars on the cage door. I just couldn't resist. This kitten had already had one ARK bestowed up on him--someone found him in a ditch alongside one of the busiest roads in town and brought him to the vet. Now we were going to take him home with us to give him a loving home to grow up in. To give you an idea of how tiny Mater is, the box (in the picture) he is laying in is a 6" square box! The vet was concerned that it would not work well with all of our other animals and him being so small. However, Gus and Jasmin (the two dogs) have been his protectors, he is small enough to get into places the two older kittens (Oreo and Jaspar) can't get into anymore, the two older cats (Donnie and Savannah) have taken to him quite well and the oldest cat (Junie) who stays outdoors has not had any contact with him as he stays inside. So we are thankful for our newest (and hopefully the last) 4 legged edition to the family and for all the other 4 legged family members as well.

We are thankful and proud that our daughters are part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College--Perkinston Pride of the South Band and will be traveling with the football team to Dallas for a bowl game. The team is undeafted and is the state champion for the junior/community colleges.

We are thankful for our family, wherever they are located, and that they are healthy and living life the way that they are wanting/wishing/felt led to/or how they should or need to at this point in time in their life. We are thankful for the men and women serving their country for the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy in the United States. We all know that freedom is not free and that it is with the blood of all those past and present that have bought and paid for the freedoms originally fought for over 200 years ago by the founding fathers (and brothers, sisters, mothers, wives, etc.) of our beautiful country. Whether any of us, now or those in the distant past, agree with the skirmishes, battles, or wars that are fought, there are always those that are proud of our service men, stand behind them no matter what our personal feelings are toward the ensuing battles, and forever thankful that they continue to fight for our freedoms. I am proud to say that our family is part of that population--and several of our family members have been apart of those serving our country to keep our rights and freedoms for us.

Those of us either attending or working at school, are thankful for this time of vacation. We were all in need of this brief vacation time to spend time preparing for Thanksgiving and the over done, over advertised, over zealous, over commercialized portion of this next 4 weeks of waiting. These 4 weeks of Advent are when we should be most thankful for the season of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

What ARK can you do today? What are you thankful today?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

So Much to Say, but Can't Seem to Say It!

Have you ever felt like you just couldn't get out of your head what you need to say? You know that somewhere and sometime it will all come spilling out and not be able to stop it. You know that when it does, things will be said--that you know you will mean, you know will hurt someone, you know that it is something that NEEDS to be said, but you possibley could (no you know you could) and probably should have said it differently. But no matter what you say or how you say it--it doesn't feel right that you said it--or worse, you feel right about it but you have made enemies for life of someone (and you don't care).

It is very seldom that I am speechless and unable to say what I want to. The weekend we went to Florida for the death of my father-in-law, was a weekend that I would like to erase from memory--and things that have since commenced have not made that weekend any better. Things were said that should have been said by someone other than me 20+ years ago--but weren't then, and I blurted them out. Things got said that now others are holding against not only me, but my family. And if that is the case, so be it. I said NOTHING that was not truthful. I have been accused of not having any restraint--I beg to differ with them. I've held my tongue for over two years--hoping someone else would say them. I held my tongue until the day before we left--and by the point I couldn't handle it anymore, I wanted the person to know exactly how she made not only me but also my husband FEEL. And I have to say, that for someone that accuses me of attacking her verbally--she has no room to speak as she attacked me even more so at the time and has since then said that "we are through, done, finished." She told me she'd deny that she ever said anything to me if I told my husband--how can she deny it when she puts the message on a recorded voicemail that is easy to play back and listen to?

Now I know that through all of this it has to do with the perception of the speaker and the one hearing--I won't say listening. The person listening has the perception of being attacked and that I had "no right" to say anything and my husband should have "spoken up to stop me." My husband had the perception that he was allowing me to say what he has kept bottled up for 20+ years and he was unable to say any of it. I had (and still have) the perception that if my husband is being hurt emotionally that I can only take it so long before I "defend" him.

Was I right or wrong? Was she right or wrong? Was he right or wrong? At this point I believe the correct answer would be that in all, all three of us were both right and wrong. So I am in the quandry of having an "olive branch" supposedly put out and I am "supposed" to take it. The problem is, I don't know if, at this time, I can do that. I am still extremely ticked off about it all and it is taking a toll on both my husband and I (as he had problems accepting the olive branch as well). I can't just say, "I'm sorry" as I am NOT sorry for finally bringing to light the way she has made my husband feel for years. I am NOT sorry for expressing the way she and two other women made my husband and me feel the entire time we were there.

I think part of the problem is that we are so much alike in so many ways--especially personality wise. We are both, as she calls herself, the "alpha bitch" in each of our respective families. And when you get two alphas together, you know that there is bound to be a blow up sometime in the relationship. Now will the relationship ever return to the one that we shared before the blowup between us? I don't know. Am I supposed to just go "running back to her" and just apologize until I can no longer speak? I don't think so--although that is what she is expecting and what my husband sort of wants me to do. As he said, he wants me to do what I can, must, should, will--but he doesn't want it to take away from the person he married. I can't cower and take being made to feel worthless and a nothing any longer--I was made to feel that way for way too many years.

So how do I go about taking a step towards the "olive branch" and meeting in the middle? And for that matter, if she IS holding out the olive branch and saying that we should meet in the middle, why didn't she say it to me? Why did she call him and say we need to work this out and not call and leave the same message on my phone--she usually calls both phones and leaves a message on both if we are unable to answer phones at the time. So is she only extending the olive branch towards him or both of us?

OK, so for my title to be "So Much to Say, but Can't Seem to Say It!" I seem to have had a lot to say here. But the ability to say what all needs to be said to her eludes me in a way that won't make matters worse. What was said then, in my perception, is still true, is still there, is still in tact. Yet her perspective of it is totally different.

She says, "you weren't here" and "you don't know what actually went on" Well that is true--for everything she has told my husband and I was totally opposite of what we are now finding out was "true." But then, what is truth? Is truth reliant on someone's perspective? Is what is true to me in all actuality not truth? Is it only truth to the one that sees it or tells it? Isn't that why people claim that someone is "living in a fantasy world" when they say things that they believe is truth and everyone else sees it as fantasy?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cats & Dogs---family or just 4 legged pets?

Many people think that our family is a little strange--after all we have 5+1 cats and 2 dogs (Gus and Jasmine); oh and let's not forget the 4 turtles that we have named (Yertle, Scooter, Billy Bob, and Fred--in order of when they've shown up) and fed for the last few years that come every few days to eat with the two outside cats. I even had someone have the nerve to ask me if we really like animals or did we just have them around the house and couldn't get rid of them.--I can't imagine having the animals we have and NOT wanting them! I say 5+1 because 5 of them (Junie, Donnie, Savannah, Oreo and our newsest addition, Jaspar--in order of age) are really our cats, the +1 is a cat that I don't remember being in the area before Hurricane Katrina, but he comes to eat with our outdoor cat every morning and every afternoon. He doesn't allow us to pet him--although we have snuck up on him and done so once or twice. But he knows us and knows the name that we call him--whatever his name is by either his current owners or the owners he used to have we don't know. But he knows that for us, he is known as Snowball.

One of these animals is very sick--Oreo has lost major weight in less than 3 days--he's gone from a nice sized cat to a cat that we can now feel his ribs and can even feel the locator chip in his shoulder (which we've never felt before). Last night we held him and loved on him and cried over him--afraid that we were going to lose him. We still don't know what has caused the major weight loss, the total appetite loss--he won't eat or drink anything. He won't play or pounce with/at the other animals in the house--his usual. He won't have much to do with either of the "real" humans--all of our animals think they are humans, they just have 4 legs instead of 2--in the house. He is currently spending the night in the vet's office with an IV in him to try to rehydrate him. He was so dehydrated that his blood was clotting almost before the vet could get it drawn for the blood tests. They are having to put intraveneous fluids and nutrients into him to even be able to run any further tests.

So the question has been posed to me, "Do you really think of your animals as pets or family?" Well, to me that is a "well, duh" answer ready and waiting. How could these 4 legged critters that sleep at our feet, in between us, on top of us, and roam between our bed and the bed of which child is actually home at the time. It is rare when we don't have 2 dogs and at least 3 cats on the bed at the same time. I guess it's a really good thing that we have a queen sized bed--we wouldn't have any room for us otherwise.

People we went to eat with the other night were talking about their pets that weren't allowed in their bedroom and others that said their animals weren't allowed in their house at all. So many that I know don't allow their pets to get on beds, couches, chairs, any furniture, any carpeting, and etc. Personally, I can't imagine animals in that way. If we have animals--they become family--and most of them have taken us over or have us curled around their tail, paw, claw or however you want to think of it within the first hour. These animals are in no way JUST PETS!!! They are 100% family! And when we lose one of our animals, the pain is the same as losing a family member.

So, it has been very hard on my husband and I for the last day or two. I can't even imagine how I will have a normal night's sleep without Oreo curled up either on me or in between my husband and I tonight. I only pray that whatever bug, virus, or whatever this is that has gotten a very strong hold on him now will let loose and he will be back up to his perky, lively, playful self very, very soon.

Friday, November 2, 2007

When Did It Become "Our" Job?

For as long as I can remember, it was tradition that men did all the "outside" work and women always did the "inside" work. Of course, my family had made that a pact long before I was born. For that matter I had never even touched a lawn mower before my first husband and I divorced except maybe to walk by it or move it from one side of the garage to the other! However, after the divorce, I found myself doing more and more of the lawn work--to the point that my second husband calls me "She-rah". I swear though that before my husband left on his last deployment he told me that if I took care of the yard while he was gone, he'd be the one to do it from the time he retired from the service on! So much for that.

I came home today and decided that the yard needed to be mowed! And it really did need to be mowed--or maybe just the leaves and a few of the weeds taken care of. I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone--and actually I did, but I must be crazy for taking on that project. I used the bagger so that it would "vacuum" the yard as well! LOL There was some method to my madness though. Ever since Katrina and then a leak in the plumbing, we have a corner of the back yard that is now much lower than the rest of the yard, becomes a pond in heavy rains, and the yard is becoming lower than where the fence meets the ground--not good with 2 dogs in the back yard! So every bag that I collected got dumped in what seems to be a gradual sink hole! After 4 or 5 bags (filled to the rim and overflowing the bagger) the yard is almost up to the first of several different levels in the back yard. We'll see how that works (at least until the first good thunderstorm)!

Those of you that have green thumbs--as opposed to the brown or black thumb that I seemingly have--what is happening to my plants. In general, I do very little to/with my plants as I feel God is the best Gardener of them all. I figure He knows when they need water and when they don't. After all, he's been in the business of making the Earth green and fruitful for MANY years! So I don't put on all the extra fertilizers, weed & feed, change the soil, or give extra water to them unless we haven't had rain for a LONG time. And until the last few months, we've had beautiful plants along the front of my house. Now???? They are all either being eaten up with something that looks like coffee grounds or look like they've been burnt by a drought (from the bottom leaves and inner most leaves out to the outside or top leaves). It's really weird looking. One of the plants that had sat in a pot for seemingly forever and was doing beautifully, started dieing as soon as I planted it. I figured it would have thrived now that it had room for its root system instead of being strangled and getting root rot in the pot. I had a camilia bush that bloomed all summer long (July through mid October)--and none of the other plants did--but the camilia normally blooms in the spring, not summer. What is going on with my plants? Any ideas?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saints' Day--How Appropriate!!!

All Saints' Day: Do you know what All Saints' Day is? I've heard all different things about it and different things that you need to do on this day. But I had never really thought about what it really is--although I knew that Halloween was All Hallows Eve. I know that in the United Methodist Church I attend, it is often referred to as the day that all of the saints --and I don't mean the ones like St. Thomas, St. Francis, etc., I am speaking of those Christians that are now sitting with God--that have gone on before us are remembered and celebrated. Several of my good friends go to the gravesites of their departed loved ones and make sure the gravesite is cleaned, flowers are placed, prayers are said, and in general--remembering them. Other friends go to special services to remember those that have passed on before us. And some don't recognize it at all. According to this is what the origin and meaning of All Saints' Day. You can go to their site to see extended information.

All Saints' Day, feast of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, and day on
which churches glorify God for all God's saints, known and unknown. It is
celebrated on Nov. 1 in the West, since Pope Gregory IV ordered its church-wide
observance in 837. Its origin lies earlier in the common commemorations of
martyrs who died in groups or whose names were unknown, which were held on
various days in different parts of the Church; over time these celebrations came
to include not only the martyrs but all saints. During the Reformation the
Protestant churches understood “saints” in its New Testament usage as including
all believers and reinterpreted the feast of All Saints as a celebration of the
unity of the entire Church. In medieval England the festival was known as All
Hallows, hence the name Halloween [=All
Hallows' eve] for the preceding evening.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. Found at:

Now that we have discussed what All Saints' Day is; the following information that I found on one of my feeds really makes this event happening on All Saints' Day so appropriate. Now my question is--Did God plan it this way? Did Michelangelo plan it this way? I highly doubt that one--as he was no longer in the best condition by the time he finished it. He was almost blind from all the paint and oils that fell into his face/eyes while lying on his back painting. But he may have planned it that way--making the finishing touches "drag out" so that it would be finished on November 1st. At any rate, read on... compliments of The Free Dictionary.

This Day in History: Ceiling of Sistine Chapel Completed (1512)In 1508, Pope
Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The work was completed in 1512 and features over 300 biblical figures and nine
episodes from the Book of Genesis. Below these scenes are the statuesque figures
of prophets and sibyls, with episodes from the Old Testament in the spandrels.
The last great work Michelangelo executed in the chapel was The Last Judgment.
Where in the chapel did he paint it? More...
This Day in History provided by The Free Dictionary

If you have never seen the Sistine Chapel, you have missed the site of a life time. When I was a sophomore in high school, I went with people from the base chapel where we lived in Germany. My mother and I took a week-long tour of Rome--sponsored by the Catholic priest stationed at the base--as the other Protestant chaplain that was stationed there was on the tour with us, Dad could not go on the tour with us. We visited the catacombs and saw so much of Rome outside of the Vatican.

But the best part of the tour really was getting to go to the Vatican and tour the Sistine Chapel. In addition, we were invited to take part in a mass inside the Vatican, with 3 of our group chosen as acolytes. While there we also were able to sit in the front row of one of the open mass with Pope John (whatever number he was--I can't ever remember--if it helps you, this would have been in late 1976 or early 1977). As exciting as it was to be present at a mass presided over by the Pope, it still did not live up to the solemnity, reverence, beauty, spirituality, and so many more adjectives that I could add, of the Sistine Chapel.

Obviously, as long ago as that was, it was LONG before the restoration project. Yet it was beautiful. I think we could have spent hours and hours in there and I never would have seen as much of it as I would have liked. My husband went to Rome while he was deployed a few years ago. He saw it after it had been restored and like me, could not say enough about it. Of course, he was with a group of sailors that didn't exactly have the time to stop and look for too long. But all of them agreed that it was the highlight of their trip.

Amidst all of the controversy about the body parts that were later "covered" by another artist who was dubbed as the "breeches painter" because he clothed many of the males genitilia; Amidst all of the controversy about the restoration; Amidst all of the controversy about the varnish, electric lighting, candles and natural lighting---the Sistine Chapel remains one of the most well known pieces of art, one of the largest pieces of artwork, one of the most beautiful pieces of art, one of the most controversial pieces of art, and one of the most spiritual pieces of art.

I truly believe that Michelangelo was given the talent and the vision for the artistry in that chapel by God himself--of course the talent was given to him by God; but not all would agree that his vision was given by God. So in honor of all of the saints that have gone before us and in honor of Michaelangelo's finishing the work, I hope that this All Saints' Day has been one of reverence, rememberance, and prayers for those that have gone before as well as for those who are still among us that may precede us or may follow us to our place next to God. May God be with each and all of you today and always.