Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Boy K!

This handsome fellow turns 30 today!

K has been in our lives for about 6-ish years.  I forget exactly when he came into our lives, but S&K have been married for almost 5 years now. They were together at least a year before that wonderful day, but K fits so nicely into our family that I forget when he first joined.  And that's a good thing!  A very good thing indeed!  

We love you K!  Here are 5 things that you have taught me - and it's hard to choose only 5, since you have taught me quite a bit!

5 - Find the fun and humor in everything.  And I do mean everything.  

Whether that is recalling that Jacks in the Box are everywhere...

...or tending bar with a special panache and  flair...

4 - How to build a train.  Or at least how to build a cake that looks like a train.

That was such fun!  Here is a link to that progress story...good times!

3 - Remember the "good ol' days".

Trains.  Preserving military vehicles.  Restoring cars.  Old guns.  The list is way longer than phone booths.  History.  Remember it.

2 - When your wife needs a farmhouse table to seat "everyone", build it for her.

And # 1 - Teach.  K isn't "officially" a teacher of anyone or any subject.  Doesn't matter.  K is a natural.  And he is always teaching simply by living and sharing.  K has a love for learning that runs deep.  And it is contagious, because he makes learning FUN!  I have lost count of the number of times K has devoted free weekends to attending historical events, re-enactments, festivals and parades to share living history with anyone who will listen, learn and experience.  And I have no doubt that all who have taken the time to interact with K have gained much in knowledge and joy and fun.  And that - my friends - is the sign of a true teacher.

Yep, we love you K!  We hope you have a WONDERFUL birthday, and we look forward to sharing your 30's with you!  Happy!  Happy!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Endings and Beginnings

I have been writing the last few pages of a chapter in my life the last couple of weeks.  This has been a long chapter, lasting almost 18 years.  That's pretty much a lifetime - birth to graduating from high school type lifetime years.

As of about 3pm tomorrow, I will no longer be an employee of VJ.  I will be short of 18 years by 12 days when I walk out of the exit interview tomorrow. 

That has felt so surreal since I made the decision last Monday.

I have accepted a new position with a company I will heretofore call MP in Chesterfield to help them with their SAP implementation.  They are going live in January with the latest version of SAP, so this is a wonderful learning opportunity. 

It is also a scary opportunity.  It is a chance for me to spread my wings and take what I've learned at VJ and apply it someplace else. 

I may fly. 

I may flop.

But I won't know if I don't try.  And I don't want to get to the end of my career and look back and wonder if I could have done it.  So I'm trying to move past the fear - with God's help and the help of wonderful encouraging words from so many - and starting at a new company on Monday. 

This is good news!  I know it is good news! 

Yet at the same time... tears.  I was crying big time when I wrote out my letter of resignation.  I could not have spoken what I wanted to say to the two men who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself.  These two men changed my life, and the opportunity I have before me now would not be possible without the two of them.  Thinking of that now brings the tears again.  How do you thank people for changing your life for the good?  Somehow the coconut cream pie and pumpkin swirl cheesecake that I brought them as peace offerings just didn't seem to suffice.

And then I was fine with the tears. 

Until today.

When wonderful people surprised me with a "This Is Your VJ Life" party.

When I heard voices I hadn't heard in years.

When I heard stories of dead fish and emails and crashing the system and work associates who have become friends.

When I listened to words of appreciation from folks I've worked closely enough with that they know where the bodies are buried and could have told those stories but chose not to. 

When I hugged the receptionist that holds the building and all of us together and who may never decide to retire.

Yep, endings.  Closing a chapter.  Turning the page and starting to write a new one. 

I simply want to acknowledge this moment.  So many people have taught me so much as I wrote this last chapter.  More than I could ever thank, but to whom I will always be grateful. 

And who I will always treasure.

You know who you are.  Thank you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl Aunt FB!

This beautiful lady is celebrating her birthday today!

If you read this post from June when my Aunt R had a birthday, you may recall two things:
  • We do not reveal a lady's age
  • I did the math to at least say that Aunt R was turning "something north of 70"
Now since Aunt FB is two years older than Aunt R, we can therefore say that Aunt FB is turning something north of 70 + 2.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Aunt FB is one of The Original Eight.  She is the lady standing third from the left, between my mother and Aunt R.  I miss the faces in this photo....
We had a GREAT visit with these two aunts and many of their kiddos and grand kiddos last month!  It was so good to see everyone and capture some of their stories. 
So today, I get to share with you 5 things that I have learned from Aunt FB.  I'm not sure that she will even know that I posted it to be able to read it, but hopefully someone will read it to her somewhere, someway, someday...
So here they are - 5 things that I have learned Aunt FB.
5) Embrace the nickname!  No shame!  Even if the nickname ceased to truly apply past toddlerhood. 

4) Oreos make the world go round.  Always have.  Always will.
(And if I recall correctly, I believe that Aunt FB has received at least one birthday "cake" made of Oreos similar to this pic.)
3) Create beauty.  My Aunt FB loves to create beauty wherever she can.  I’m not sure that she does this any longer, but when I was growing up, every family bride was given some painted china.  It might be a cup; it might be a plate or a saucer, but it was hand-painted by Aunt FB.  Each one individual.  Each one special.  Each one beautiful.  Each one fragile – not only because of the medium, but because of the time and creativity and love from the giver.  This cross was done by Aunt FB for my daughter, B.  One of a kind.
2) Write.  I think at least part of my love to write comes from my Aunt FB.  Tell stories.  Don’t worry about being “good enough.”  Just write.  The very, regular practice will make me better.  (And THAT’S the part I struggle with the most!  Sigh…)
1) Teach.  Share your knowledge and experience with others.  I’m not sure if she is still teaching every week or not, but I know she was teaching from the Bible every week (except vacations and illness) well into her “something north of 70 + 2”.  And teaching well.  Aunt FB has touched many lives through the years with her words of teaching, wisdom, love and compassion.  Her reward will be great in Heaven.
Happy!  Happy!  Aunt FB!!  We love you and hope you have had a wonderful birthday full of love and laughter and fun and Oreos!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl C!

It's C's birthday today - of C&D fame!  Happy!  Happy!

While I haven't known C all that long, I've learned at least these 5 things from her...hope these bring a smile, Miss C!
5) Sponge Bob.  Cause Sponge Bob.  I couldn't find a pic of the SB cake I made last year for B's 2nd birthday to show you here...too many changes with laptops and files and whatnot...but I've learned a bit about SB just from making him on a cake.
4) Live in pajamas every chance you get.  (I don’t get many chances, but when I do – like working from home on snow days – I get it.)

3) PBJ’s and chili go together like grilled cheese and tomato soup or hot dogs and mac & cheese.  I haven’t tried the PBJ-Chili combo platter yet, but C&D swear by it.  And they are apparently not alone if this blog is any indication… 

2) Love unconditionally.  It won’t always be reciprocated.  Love unconditionally anyway.

1) Motherhood is the most honorable profession and privilege, regardless of the circumstances.  Certain situations make it harder than others, but choosing to give the gift of life is always worth it.
Happy!  Happy!  C!  We hope you've had a wonderful birthday and that we get to see everyone again soon!

We love you!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl K!

It's K's birthday!!  Yep, the gorgeous lady in this pic is celebrating her birth today!!  Happy!  Happy!
So you know what that means!  Yep, I get to share 5 things that I have learned from K in hopes of bringing her a smile and reminding her how much we love her.  It didn't work out for us to hug her neck and have a good visit this year's birthday, but hopefully we will make that happen very soon.  We love you, K!
Alright, so here are 5 things I have learned from K...
5) Avocados make the world go round. 

E thinks that bacon makes the world go round.  So I suppose an avocado BLT is just about the perfect signature sandwich to represent their marriage.

If we could combine avocados, bacon and strawberry pie into one, that could be the signature food item to represent their family.  But that's another story for another blog post.

4) Sparkles are not good.  Wait?  What?  Sparkles are not good?  Yep, that's right.  They aren't good.  They are DA BEST!!!  Decorate with them every chance you get whether that is in your home or on your person!!  (Even if you're an "old" person like me!)
3) Compliment.  Tell people - especially older women - that they look nice that day. (Even if there are things that they could have improved that day.) A kind, complimentary word does so much for the hearer's heart and soul.  And K is generous with compliments for me every time I see her.  It makes me want to see her even more!  <insert heart emojis here...>

2) Listen to little ones.  That usually means slowing down, giving them your full attention, and giving them the time they need to find their words.  But the end result is always worth it.  (And if Dad can toss in a funny face along with it, then everybody smiles and feels the love!)

1) When life doesn't quite turn out as planned, make a new plan.  K has experienced this often in her life.  I could list a few of these, but I don't want this to turn into a DDD (Deb Dissertation Downer).  I want to celebrate that K continues to find a new plan and embrace it despite how hard that might be.  I have a great deal of respect for that sort of fortitude and positivity.  I was so excited to see that this "little" announcement was made yesterday, because this is just another example of how K seeks God and makes a new plan when life doesn't turn out quite as originally planned.  We can't wait to meet this grandchild and cheer this plan on every step of the way!!!

Happy!  Happy!  We love you and hope your birthday has been totally wonderful K!  We hope to see you all very soon!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl Aunt R!

Ready for one more birthday post?  I promise I have plans to post something that isn't birthday next week, but this beautiful lady is having a birthday today! 

She has been my aunt my whole life, which means that she is turning something north of 70 today.  I am well aware that you are never supposed to say a woman's age, so I'm not going to commit that sin in this post.  While I know her age today, let's just simply say that I know my age, and Aunt R would have at least been older than 20 when I was born, so she must be something north of 70 but not quite 100 today.  Regardless of the actual number, she is worth celebrating plus she has taught me a few things through the years. 

Beyond that?  Aunt R is one of only two left from this generation of The Original Eight.

I'm not sure if anyone else in our family calls these particular eight individuals "The Original Eight," but this is my pet name for them.  You may not realize it, but this picture shows eight people from The Greatest Generation, so declared by Tom Brokaw.  To my knowledge, all four of the men above served overseas in World War II.  I believe all served in Europe rather than in the Pacific, but I can't guarantee that particular fact is accurate.  And I'm pretty sure that all four couples married either during or just after WWII ended.  Yep, these Original Eight gave birth to 17 Baby Boomers, 16 of whom lived to adulthood. 

Who are they?  Well the man on the left in red, is my Uncle L.  He was the oldest of my mother's siblings. The lady behind him was his wife, Aunt S.  Uncle L. only had sisters, so that makes the three ladies to her left my mother (2nd born), Aunt FB (which does NOT stand for "FaceBook", but her real birth certificate name combined with her nickname, the only name anyone in the family ever calls her), and finally our birthday girl, the baby of the family, Aunt R.  Since they were seated and standing as couples, that makes the man in front of my mother my father, followed by Uncle O and Uncle B.  The Original Eight.  And of those eight?  Only two are still around on this side of heaven - my Aunt FB and our lovely birthday girl, Aunt R.  Therefore, she gets a birthday post about 5 of things she has taught me!

But before I start with that, one more thing about that pic above.  It was taken at a family reunion in the Duncan Cabin at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Oklahoma in the early 1980's.  (I never knew anybody who ever called it anything other than "Falls Creek", but Google says it's full name is that mouthful I typed up there.)  This below pic was taken at that same reunion of the grandkids born at that time, and I am fairly certain almost all, if not all, are now parents themselves.  I think I can only name about six of these little guys, but I bet Aunt R can name all of them!

Time.  It marches. So feel free to take your best guess as to our birthday girl's age today, but this is more about remembering The Original Eight and the...

...5 things that Aunt R has taught me at one time or another.

5 - Think outside the box about home.  Or at least marry someone who does.  Aunt R and Uncle B had the coolest house in Duncan, OK, when I would get to visit as a kid.  It was a two-story that was not particularly fancy (except for the dining room and living room), but to a kid, it was fascinating!  For one thing, when you walked into the house from the car port, you entered the den.  (Do people still call rooms "dens" any more?)  To your right was the kitchen, and right in front of you was the everyday table.  And just beyond that was the TV.  Pretty normal stuff, right?  EXCEPT!  The TV was sorta magical, because it sat like "in" the wall - or really a cool hole in the wall between the den and Aunt R and Uncle B's bedroom.  Cause see...the TV was on rollers and could be turned around to be watched in either room!  How cool is that?  Keep in mind that this was back in the days when a TV was a piece of furniture, like a table, and people didn't necessarily have 7.35 TVs in their house as a common thing.

But as cool as the TV Hole was, you wanna know the coolest thing at that house?  Aunt R and Uncle B gave birth to three boys and one girl.  My cousin, B, the girl, had a pretty girl's room on the first floor.  But the boys had rooms upstairs.  And I'm not sure exactly which one of the boys was the train enthusiast, and I only saw this live and in person once or twice, but the model trains were setup in one of the boys' rooms upstairs.  Not necessarily a big deal, right?  EXCEPT!  The trains and tracks and village buildings were all set up on a large wood table without legs.  I don't know the exact size, but this train table looked to be almost the size of the entire room.  It hung from the ceiling and could be raised and lowered via a pulley system.  Genius, right?!  So yes, think outside the box about home.

4 - Use pecans.  Cause...pecans.  And if you coat them in butter and sugar, then really use them.

 3 - Love generously.  I have personally benefited from Aunt R's generosity more than once.  Aunt R seems to believe family people like me are worth it.

2 - Stay on mission.  Know your life's mission and stay on it, long after you may be something north of 70.

1 - Love your sister well.  Especially when she's the only one you may have left this side of heaven.

Happy!  Happy!  Aunt R!  Hope your birthday is wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing you and Aunt FB again very soon!!!  Love you!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Boy E!

Yep, it's another birthday boy!  (The big one in this pic, not the little one...)

Happy!  Happy! E!  Hope you're having a wonderful birthday! 
Here are 5 things E has taught me...
5 - Finance stuff.  E is one of those financial genius types.  He has a monthly newsletter on finance stuff, and I learn something from it most every month.
4 - Become a world traveler.  Especially if you can do it for free, from excelling at your career. That is the best way to be a world traveler.  See # 4 for further details.
3 - Ducks raise money to help kids.  Every year.  Those are some pretty talented ducks.  E’s finance genius skills even work for ducks.  Amazing.
2 - Green Eggs.  Not the Dr. Suess kind, but the Big bbq/smoking/grilling kind.  E is a serious Big Green Egg evangelist.  I may not have ever paid the tithe to become a believer yet, but E preaches a passionate sermon.
1 - Bacon is life.
Spice is life.
Combine bacon and spice, and life is full.
We love you, E!  Looks like you've had a good birthday with your family.  So glad!  Hope to see you soon again!  Happy!  Happy!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Boy D!

This guy is having a birthday today! 
Happy!  Happy!  Birthday boy D!  Hope you're having a great birthday!

Here are 5 things that D has taught me through the years as his mama:

5 - Txt lingo.  Idk it well, and most ppl I txt w/dont talk txt, but d does.  So he taut me it mor than anybdy else.

4 - Golf is life.  But then so is fishing.  And so is baseball.  I just need to keep up with which life is life at that moment.

3 - Despite what you may see above, there really is only one kind of pie.  Apple.  Ok, wait, maybe two.  Apple and cherry, but only if you’re taking them to small group to share with friends.

2 - C & I can beat D & G in the game of Sequence.  Not always, mind you.  But every once in a while we do, like this past weekend.
1 - Brothers need to throw balls to each other way more often than they do.  It wasn’t the same as when they were kiddos, but it did this mama’s heart good to see D and S tossing a ball back and forth Sunday evening in the backyard. 

We love you, D!  Hope you are smiling!  Happy!  Happy!  It was great to see you, C and B-man this weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why I Believe…Every Atheist Will be a Theist…


Yep, that’s a crazy bold statement, especially in this day and age of political correctness and “tolerance” for all beliefs.  And I don’t mean anything disrespectful to any atheist who may read that statement; it is simply what I believe.  And I would like to explain why.
First off, this isn’t an original statement to me.  I heard it first this past Sunday morning, and it stuck with me.  So I thought I would blog about it.  Nor is this a blog full of cute pics of little ones to bring a smile.  This is much closer to a Deb Dissertation – words that I hope are laid out in a somewhat logical sequence.
Because I tend to be a word geek who makes a point of defining terms when I do any sort of training, I would like to define three primary terms.  These aren’t my definitions; they come from
·         Atheist - a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings
·         Theist -  a person who believes in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation

·         Christian - a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity
So this DD is about why I believe that every atheist – one who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being – will one day be a theist – one who believes in one God as the creator and ruler.  But a theist does not necessarily equal a Christian, as a Christian is one who believes Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and who recognizes their need for a Savior and trusts in Jesus as the One who saves.
Let me begin by saying that I’m not trying to take on atheism.  I’m not.  Many people have reached the choice to be atheist from a multitude of angles.  I’m not qualified to argue all of those angles.  I’m not arguing against that choice or position.  I’m simply offering another perspective of what will be true if atheism is a false logical conclusion and Christianity is true. 
See, if atheism is right – that there is no God, there is no life after this life, there is no higher purpose to life – then no one really has anything to lose.  This life is it, followed by oblivion.  Granted we Christians would lose all that we’d hoped for in this life; but once we were in oblivion, it wouldn’t matter anyway.  Since, by definition, oblivion is a state without awareness or thought of any kind.
But if Christianity is true – there is a God, there is life or awareness after this life, and there is a higher purpose to this life – then there is no such thing as oblivion.  There would instead, by virtue of the premise that Christianity is true, be life – or really LIFE! – and the contrast thereof, or awareness in a reality absent of LIFE.  For Christianity clearly teaches both.  There may be a variety of interpretations of what awareness after this life may look like, but the teaching is clear from Christianity.  This life isn’t it.  This life points to something after this life.  Or really Christianity points to Some One after this life.
I’ve read a book twice recently simply called Imagine Heaven by John Burke.  It was the first book in a long time that when I finished it, I turned right back to the beginning and started reading it all over again.  This book is a collection of near-death experiences (NDE’s) from all over the world.  People from many cultures and belief systems are clinically dead but come back to life with a story to tell of what they experienced while dead.  What is fascinating to me about these stories is how many of them have such common elements, not the least of which is being aware – AWARE of a reality that is more REAL than this life.  I get how impossible that is to believe.  I can’t imagine something more real than what I know now.  But nor can something two-dimensional imagine a third dimension.  So I allow for more dimensions than I may know here as a viable possibility that I could experience in another realm. 
This book describes more than simply being drawn to The Light.  It describes color and beauty that we don’t have words for here.  Even people who are profoundly blind from birth – and still blind after they come back to this life – describe seeing sights that they cannot see here.  People talk about seeing lush plants and trees and flowers that are so full of life and energy and color that if they pick one, a new one grows right behind it, since there is no death in this place. 
Another common element to NDE’s is a life review, seeing their life events from a different perspective – yet remarkably without judgment.  They are instead, surrounded by love and compassion.  Because they know they are experiencing this life review with Jesus, the very embodiment of Love Incarnate.  Keep in mind that these are people and children who may not know the Name of Jesus from any sort of teaching or belief system prior to their NDE, yet they know they are talking with Jesus and being loved by Him. 
Where am you going with this?  Deb, have you lost track of your original thesis? 
No, I haven’t lost track of what I started out saying.  Hang with me a moment longer.  For see, there are also stories of people who don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God who meet him in an NDE.  For example, Mr. Burke shares one story of a lady who has been Jewish her entire life.  She dies, and experiences a life review with Jesus.  She felt His love and compassion, and yet after coming back to this life, she says that she still does not believe that He is The Christ, The Messiah, since her life-long Jewish teaching tells her that Jesus is not Messiah.  In other words, this woman would be a theist but not a Christian. 
The book also shares a few stories describing a place that is full of darkness and fear and taunting criticism.  This is also a reality that is more real than this life, yet most unpleasant.  These darker stories also come from all over the world, from people with many belief systems yet share striking similarities, like those stories that are full of Light and Love.  In essence – an awareness of being in a place, yet in a place that is not this earth and in a form that is not this body.
How could people from so many diverse backgrounds experience events so similar and so vividly REAL?  It seems harder to me to believe that there isn’t life after this life than to believe that there is.  Beyond that, to believe so gives this life infinitely more meaning and purpose and hope than to not believe such.
Which brings me back to my opening statement – that all atheists will be theists.  Someday.   Not that all atheists will someday be Christians.   But I believe they will realize that God is. REAL.  Jesus is.  REAL.  More Real than today’s reality.  It may not be a change of philosophy experienced this side of the grave, but what is so compelling about the NDE stories is that there is life and awareness after this life.  We don’t die to simple oblivion.  We merely pass through a veil to Something else…to Some One else.
One of the writers of The New Testament even talks about this Someday – that every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.  And I happen to believe that “every knee” will include every atheist who has ever lived, famous ones such as Stephen Hawking, and less famous ones who have chosen to conclude that God is not.  
Atheism is a choice that I respect even though I cannot embrace it intellectually.  I find it more forced to deny so much evidence FOR God’s existence than to simply accept how much He has revealed about himself in so many places: creation, our conscience and innate sense of right and wrong, Scripture, how we define time, etc. But I don’t speak for everyone.  I speak for me only.  In addition, I am not trying to say all of this from a “we win in the end” viewpoint.  That is not my intent here.  I’m merely articulating in a quiet way why I believe there is Something … Someone…Someplace…beyond this life we know here and now.  While I have not studied every belief system out there, Christian teaching of grace and mercy and love and communion with God provided by the sacrifice of Jesus is so outrageous and scandalous yet evidential, that nothing else comes close to being able to replace what I’ve believed since I was 9 years old.  And if I believe Christianity is true, which I do, then a reasonable conclusion of that view is that someday, whether here or there, all people, including atheists, will recognize God as not only Real but Supreme, the essence of being a theist. 
Do I think that writing this will change anyone’s mind?  Nope, that isn’t my intent either.  This blog isn’t about being famous or making money or gaining internet fame.  This blog is a means of communicating with a few family members and friends, so they have a record of some of the things I did and how I did them, plus how I thought – perhaps a glimpse into my heart and mind – as long as the internet is around and after I’m not.  So this is simply one more glimpse into my heart and my approach to faith in God. 
Thanks for reading if you’re still with me.  If not, that’s cool.  Maybe you will enjoy the next post better!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Boy A-Man!

I don’t normally post one of these “5 Things Taught” DD’s for the grandkids, but this guy is now 8 years old, which let’s face it, is half-way to driving.  (Yes,  I do believe that I just gave his parents a heart attack with that line.)  Besides that, he taught me these 5 things this past weekend, so it seems as though a post is due. 


Happy!  Happy!  Birthday, A-man!  Here are 5 things you’ve taught me.. 

5 – The Wipe-Out bike beats the Rock-It.  Trust us on this.  It just does.

4 – Grandpa G & Grandma Deb need to see a baseball game soon.  A-man likes to hit a ball.  Far.  And hard.  We need to see this live and in person.

3 – Kissing scenes in movies are bad.  Like gross bad.  Like really yucky bad.  I wish you could have seen his face when he’s teaching me this, because my words can’t do it justice.  (Hide your eyes!!!)
(But I think this kissing scene is still ok!)
2 – Rat Bat.  He’s one of the Decepticon Transformers, and he has “bat” mode and “flight” mode (or something like that).  Anyway Rat Bat can transform like the best of ‘em.  And then he can fight the bad guys.  I’m still learning who the bad guys are.  The bad guys may be Pokemon with water energy and fire energy and hyper power that Rat Bat is fighting while also keeping the Beyblades at bay (did you catch that pun there?)  Oh, and Chewbacca (not the now famous mask, but the “real” Chewbacca) fights for the good guys, too, so I think he and Rat Bat are friends.  I’m sure that I have this story right, right?  I still have a lot to learn about Rat Bat.

1 – Courage comes in many shapes and sizes, even relatively small sizes.  Whether that shows up as being the only boy to sing with a group of girls or sharing his faith in Jesus, A-man is one courageous fellow.  I’m pretty sure that if you looked up “child-like faith” in the dictionary, no words are necessary.  They just show A-man’s picture.
Happy!  Happy!  Hope your birthday has been wonderful, A-man!  We love you!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl S!

This beautiful daughter, mother, teacher, student, manager and lady celebrated her birthday today!!! 
 (I chose this one 'cause she be holdin' two of our grand babies here!)

It is late in the day, but I hope it's not too late to share with you 5 things that I appreciate that S has taught me....

5 - Family pics matter.  I haven't always been good about this, but S always has been good about this.  And hopefully I'm learning. 

4 - Excel.  My work world is all SAP now, so I don't use Excel as much as I once did.  So when (note I did not use the word "if" but WHEN) I get stuck and want a new formula in Excel, S is one of my go-to ladies for this sort of thing.  She's as good as any Excel Google answer you'll get anywhere!
3 - A renewed appreciation for tea.  For ladies' teas.  For gloves and special treats and simply taking a bit of time to appreciate each other and catching up over a cuppa...
2 - A renewed appreciation for SAP.  I've been going through a bit of "empty nesters' syndrome" of late, because S has truly, completely flown the coup in recent months.  She found herself a new job, and is doing wonderfully at it.  But the place she is working doesn't run SAP.  Yet.  They probably will in the next few years, because their parent company runs it, but today, this shop doesn't.  And she has said to me more than once how much she can appreciate all that a system like SAP brings to an organization.
1 - Juggling motherhood and work and school and teaching are not easy, but they are fulfilling and worthy pursuits.  And S does it with many smiles and good humor and grace and balance.  She doesn't expect any of them to be perfect (as much as she might like each thing to be!), but she takes each moment as it comes...even when those moments may include broken bones of little ones...and keeps moving forward.  All part of what makes me so proud of her. 
Happy!  Happy!  Birthday to you, S!  I hope it has been truly wonderful, full of love and laughter and joy and memories.  I love you!!
Mama Mia Quesadilla

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Inspirational Leadership

This quote appears on the walls at one of the buildings where I work.  Its intent is to inspire.  It was chosen, because by itself it does – or at least should – inspire.  Inspire the hearer to lead a life that draws out dreaming and learning and doing and becoming in others, for the observers of our lives will see those same traits in us.

John Quincy Adams had another quote that fits hand in glove with what has been on my mind as I read the first quote from President Adams above:

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

For the first time in a long time that I can recall, I have personally heard more friends and acquaintances say that they really didn’t know what to do in yesterday’s Missouri presidential primary.  Should they vote for someone they want?  Should they vote for the one who stands the best chance of elect-ability?  Should they vote the opposite party to block the one they perceive as the worst?  It was remarkable to me how often I heard that.  Remarkable enough, I suppose, that I am blogging about it.

And why is that?  Why do so many people feel this same conflict?  Voting is never easy, and we cannot expect to agree with any candidate on 100% of the issues or expect them to always do or say or act in the way we think that they should.  If that is what we expect, we might as well give up now. 

But why is the privilege of voting such a burden these days?

Part of me wants to say that it goes back to these two JQA quotes.  For the first, we have a real leadership gap in this world today.  Whatever happened to candidates that sounded like reasonable fellows – someone you could have a brew with and a reasonable debate about ideas?  When did we become a nation that prizes bombastic celebrities or idealizes government as the means to take care of everyone or ignores law and deceit and lies in the name of “progress” to have a woman president?  Now I realize I probably just offended a whole bunch of people, including family with that question, but who in the list of remaining presidential candidates truly epitomizes JQA’s idea of living a life that inspires others to “dream more, learn more, do more or become more”? 

Bombastic rhetoric that rouses a crowd but doesn’t have real substance behind it doesn’t inspire me.

Condescending insults to my intelligence espousing ideas of the government providing for all of my needs doesn’t inspire me.

And “what difference does it make anyway?!” definitely doesn’t inspire me.

How many leaders these days live the kind of life that demonstrates dreaming big dreams, learning what works and what doesn’t work, doing more with less and becoming a better friend, confidant, worker, person, spouse or parent?  If there were more, it might inspire me to vote with more energy and belief.

Which brings me to the second JQA quote – “vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”  While I love the ideal expressed herein, I can’t help but feel the angst of the need to vote to “win” despite principle.  Those of us who identify as republicans can feel this quandary particularly sharply after the last two presidential losses, but I don’t believe that this is unique to republicans.  Regardless the political party affiliation, we all want to win, and we all hate the sting of defeat.  And JQA’s sentiment about cherishing “the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost”, doesn’t really feel like that. It feels like your vote is lost – that one vote does not really matter…or that the whole system is so rigged and crooked it doesn’t matter.

But that line of thinking is a dead-end street.  And is the antithesis of what JQA expressed in the quote that appears on the walls of one building I frequent. 

So herein is where I will conclude.  My vote may not matter in the grand scheme of things.  I may cast a vote that isn’t for principle, but that will not have been how I want to remember my voting experiences.  I will instead do my best to vote and vote well.  I may not brag on it, but I will trust that my voting – no matter how pointless it may feel at times – may, just may, inspire someone else to dream more, learn more, do more, become more and vote more.  I may not be a “leader” in title or celebrity or media or power, but I hope I live a life of leadership of the kind that ol’ John Quincy Adams had in mind. 

That goal – in and of itself – will not have been a waste.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl MJ!

My kiddo's Mama J is having a birthday today!

The day is almost over, so I hope Mama J has had a really nice one, but I still thought I'd surprise her with a little note of appreciation for who this lady is to me and my kiddos.

Mama J - here are 5 things I appreciate that you taught me.  Hope this brings a smile!

5 - Beer bread - Mama J was the first one who ever introduced me to this little genius baking trick.  Back in the day when we would get together more often, the kids and I would go see Mama J and Papa S for a meal, and she would treat us to this little wonder lots of times.  Good stuff - and EASY!

4 - Let your talents bless others.  Mama J has been sharing her piano and organ talents for as long as I have known her, and I'm sure she has been sharing them much longer than that.  Playing at church on most Sundays and holidays, teaching countless students and even selling lots of instruments to many.  Yep, Mama J has brought the joy and love of music to many people.

3 - Laugh easily and often.  Mama J has an easy smile and laugh and finds the humor in life easily.  It's all part of what makes # 1 below true.

2 - Take pictures.  Take lots of pictures.  Mama J has some of the cutest pics of my little ones.  I am still learning this picture taking trick, but Mama J is an old pro at capturing cute moments.

1 - Be a fun grandma.  My kiddos have often spoken of how much they enjoy spending time with MJ and PS.  I often think of Mama J's gifts and easy spirit with my kiddos all these years, and I want to be that kind of Grandma/Mimi.

We love you, Mama J!  I hope this gives you a small glimpse of knowing that you are loved and appreciated.  We need to figure out how to make getting together more often happen!

Happy!  Happy!