Sunday, November 30, 2008

Practical Living Is Like a Cake Mix

I started a discussion some time in the summer over at Christian Women Take Root in a group called Practical Christianity. Its been quite a discussion, with women coming in from time to time posting their thoughts. But I think of the topic in another sense, and that is what is practical living? Period.

An analogy would be something like this: We go to the store and buy a cake mix expecting to make the perfect, yummy cake. Opening the box we find most of the ingredients and hope we have the rest of them in the cupboard or refrigerator. Practical means we checked the box for needs before leaving the store. Unfortunately, some don't.

We send out kids to school and other types of training, then wonder why they still aren't able to do anything practical in life. Now I know this doesn't speak to all kids nor all people. But let's take it as a general statement. I know a lot of people who have gone to the universities through the land and still not able to think beyond the end of their nose, let alone finger tips. Yet they are really bright! Anybody else know what I'm talking about? So here is my definition for those who fall into this category:

I know three young men who earned full scholarships to college, and yet not one of them went. Instead of college they went into the fields that they enjoy--one is a carpenter turned home builder/developer; another had a football scholarship (4 yr) he now owns a franchise for a restaurant and runs it daily; the other works on airplanes--loves it.

Practical living means we find our place, do it well, and life is good. Forcing kids and people into improbable situations only makes for frustrated employees and employers, disgruntled families and lack of motivation for the common good of all society.

You're awesome--do something that creates a positive in your life!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Football for One?

What a day to be alive! Yes, today. Just think about what would not happen if your family or friends were not here, breathing and doing, and not doing? It isn't just the big things like corporate, major social events, or political. Consider this:

Who would you watch the football game with today? Would it you have the same fun experience without somebody to yell back and forth with over a touch down, or a missed catch?

  • A quiet house or a crazy house full of noise. As parents we think of the day when the noise will quiet down, then it does and we miss the noise
  • Without friends and family what would the holidays and events of your personal life be like? Would you still try to do some things out of tradition or say why bother?
  • The irritation that living with other people brings, aren't they really minor in the total scheme of things
  • Without friends and family you would be totally self absorbed and there really is only so much absorption one can handle
Family and friends is what was planned in the Garden of Eden--Sharing, caring, and encouraging each other to be the best, to try harder, and to be all that you can be.

Make a difference to those in your circle to today--they are their for your pleasure and enjoyment to encourage, to share, to care, and to cheer on your favorite team .. Have a fun day! It takes more than one.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I wish ...

Kids are getting their wish list together for the holidays. Some lists are longer than others, and of course, that depends upon their age. But this morning as I watch on Twitter the "140 characters" of bargains gained by early shoppers I decided I would put together my own wish list:

My wish list will depend on you and others to help me obtain the results. I know that eventually there will be "peace on earth" but I would like to know why we don't have more good will towards mankind.

I wish someone would explain:
  • Why the western media has to tell everything that is going to happen before or during a commando raid to evacuate hostages. Doesn't anybody think that the militants get information too?
  • Why governments and/or military tell anything that would give the other guys a "heads up". When I was growing up we found out after something happened--and we were usually on the winning side
  • Why with all the naval vessels and crews internationally the pirates in Somalia can hijack huge vessels without a problem or a shot being fired? Have our policies of everybody play nice gone too far?
  • Why can the government give away the bailout money without congressional oversight? If the congress can pass laws regarding taxes and the rights of the citizens, why aren't they involved in the bailout other than to say, yes go ahead and do what you want?
And here is a question that I have been pondering for a while:
  • After 40+ years why are we still giving the same information about how much the US has in coal fields and natural gas that could be used as alternatives to Middle East oil?
  • Is it because the governments knew we were slowly moving into a New World Order and that it wouldn't make any difference?
  • And when, as the UK and Russia has asked that the G20 look at a one world government in April 2009, does that mean that everybody put their goods into one basket and everybody share equally?
I don't know about you, but I wonder whose on first, whose on 2nd and whose the short stop. I suppose you could say the tax payers and the "common folk" are certainly the catchers.

Perhaps now would be a good time to let your country leadership know how you feel about a one world government, and ask them, how does that work?

Well, that's my list for today, instead of standing in lines waiting at WalMart, Penny's or a great gadget store---I'm cozy at home in front of my computer reading Twitter (SOMF smile on my face).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

#29

My youngest child, Allan turns 29 today. So to him this page is dedicated--the son, the soldier, the little boy who grew into quite a man, loving yet stubborn, and currently in the United States Air Force. That is a my son in a nutshell.

As a youngster he demonstrated quite interesting skills. He loved "camping" under my desk, and fascinated with electricity. We had to put every knife and screwdriver up and away. He dismantled anything with screws to see how the product or outlet was put together. I had a consulting business and worked from home. He decided he was going to be an entrepreneur. One day he went out to play. As little boys do, he was in and out of the house, but one time took his bucket outside. He was excited and really focused on whatever he was about.

"What are you doing?" I asked

"Wait till you see, but gotta go." He quickly ran back out.

A while later he came back in dusty, and that played hard look. It was time to get ready for his half day of school. After school he was back in the bathroom, washing rock in the tub. Not thinking anything about it, left him to his job and went back to mine.

Later that evening we had a loud knock on the door. There stood a gentleman with a very unpleasant look on his face, and his young son at his side. He wanted to see Allan. Sheepishly he came into the room. The father then told the story of how Allan had came around the neighborhood selling his beautiful rocks. His son had no money but decided instead to trade one of his airplanes. To Allan, sell made and all were happy. I might add, Allan has always loved airplanes as well.

Dear Allan got his first experience of "the customer is always right", except in this case, it was the dad of the customer. Rocks and airplane exchanged, Allan and I had a discussion about buying and selling--but I refused to stifle his ingenuity and sense of adventure into the world of possibilities.

It has been interesting to see him make decisions on his own--like joining the Air Force after 9/11--without even a consultation with any family member. Making things work, counting the costs, and going for his dreams. I guess you could say, he too, Rides the Comet (see the blog a few days ago).

Happy Birthday Allan, may your comet fly high, fly into the places designed for you and get your supply of all good things. I pray your safety and continued spirit for life as you travel back and forth to the "big sandbox", and live your life of fishing, hunting, and the forever cars and trucks that makes you a very special person.

Love ya,
Mom



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Army Cook Does Christmas

Getting ready for the holidays brings back lots of different memories. My second brother, Richard, loved to cook. So in keeping with the holiday festivity of cooking special delights, let me share one of the many holiday events. I'm still laughing after 40+ years.

My second brother, Richard, loved to decorate and cook. I always said he should have become a chef instead of business management. But Christmas was like a wonderland around our house. One particular year he decided that he was going to have an open house for work associates and neighbors. He had just returned from his six-months basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The army was so wise to realize Richard was not a person to hold a gun and do combat. He was, however, assigned to the hospital unit as a cook.

A few days before the event that would bring about 200 people to our house, Richard started cooking. Using some of the old time-honored recipes of our family, he also wanted to try out some of the Army fare, and put some other ingredients in them. All was going well, the house had the aroma of Christmas spices; our taste buds fully aware that satisfaction would soon be received.

A small plate of the Army modified cookies was placed before me as the official taster. Graciously, I obliged his request. With my mouth full of raisins and spices, my eyes began to water in horror. Quickly spitting the remains in the garbage, I turned to see Richard take a bite of his own creation, and with a similar reaction. We started laughing hysterically.

Yes indeed he had cut all the ingredients of the recipe down to serve 300 instead of 3,000 except the salt. When the new batch came out, I had a new appreciation for the stories of "Army-Style Food". They were actually quite good.

Lesson learned: Write out the recipe when doubling or decreasing would save a lot of time and ones reputation. Have a great holiday, make some of your favorite family recipies, share them with others and give the gift of self--it never runs out of style or place.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dreams Are Never Far Away

When I wrote "Riding the Comet" the other day, I have had so many people write to me and say they too had dreams, some went out into the great beyond without being realized, but most wanted to reclaim them. What a great thought for the day!

We might not be able to bring the dream or vision to past as we had originally saw it. After all, we have changed and moved on. But it is exciting to take one of those old dreams and test the waters to see how much still flows in your veins.

Remember, our success is always under construction. Everything starts with one word and one step--point yours in the direction of success.

I challenge you today to make a list of the top three dreams that got away. Don't let present circumstances tell you "impossible". Write them down in the order of importance to you. Then what is necessary to get started? Does each one fit with the current vision?

The last one is important. I found that dreams I had as a youth and young adult still play right into the dreams and vision of today. In many ways they enhance today.

My dreams of writing, teaching, travel, philanthropy, making a difference--and yes, I also wanted to be a nurse all fit today. I'm not a nurse by the physical world terminology, but as a minister and life coach do get to help people overcome and heal those pesky internal and spiritual wounds.

What are your dreams that got away and you want them back? Go get em!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bathroom Minister Healed 2nd & 3rd Degree Burns

Ever hear a story that you thought, "wow", and then saw pictures to back it up and left you speechless? Listen to this story and then see the pictures and video. It centers around a man by the name of Donald Bogen, a COGIC minister, and a life challenging event in March 2007. (COGIC= Church In God In Christ)

Donald and some other men from his church were cutting down some trees and cleaning up the property of the church, while getting ready for an event. The pile of wood was made and he said, "Okay, let's burn them." An explosion occurred and as Donald says, "they never did find the gas can".

Because of his faith in Jesus Christ, he called for those with him to bring the oil, anoint him and start praying. All of this happened while the paramedics were working on him. Suffering from second and third degree burns on this face, right side and back, his first thoughts were on God. Many people ask why would God allow such a horrible thing to happen to somebody who really believes in Jesus Christ? He will tell you it has strengthened him even more.

After months of painful recovery, Donald now has videos on www.YouTube.com giving his testimony, sharing the gospel and the God that he knows brought him through. Below are two of his videos. The first is his personal testimony of the explosion and burns.

He is a member of www.livinginblackandwhite.ning.com where he continues to share his unique way of ministering. He is known as the "Bathroom Minister". Don't let the title fool you, he has a great message.

Leave us a message at the end of the post, would love to read what you think about this post and the "Bathroom Minister".





Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wet and Dry

This is indeed a beautiful day to know the Lord, to worship and adore Him, and to soak in His glory--the River. My personal Bible study has been in the Book of Joshua. When the children of Israel came to the Jordan River it was when the river was swollen to over flowing with bountiful water. The priests were sent into the water. Obedience to the Lord's command through Joshua brought a miracle--the water stopped flowing, the land became dry and the people were able to walk across for the second time in their history--on dry ground.

The thought occurred to me as I was teaching this that sometimes we think the dry ground we are walking on is a wilderness, when in fact it just might be God holding back the challenges and oppositions to your success so that you too can walk across the situation on dry ground. The key is for us to keep our focus on the Lord, on our purpose in the kingdom, and walking by faith and not by sight.

The next thing we should remember is that when we say we believe and submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior--don't look back to the old man--that old life style and things that we have given up except if you are witnessing to somebody about where the Lord has brought you. Hallelujah!

In Joshua 24:21-24,27 it states "Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord Our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. ... And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us, for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us" it shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us. It shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God."

The Word of God declares that if we do not glorify and worship the Lord, the rocks will cry out in our place. Take a moment and give God all the praise and worship you have in you--let Him know that you will cry out to Him and refuse to give your place to a rock. And remember whether you are on dry ground or in the River--you are safe in the arms of the Lord your God.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Riding the Comet

For some unknown reason my thoughts wandered to my dad this morning. It is highly unusual due to the chaotic life we had with each other. But even through the abusive, alcoholic ranting, there were slivers of time when he demonstrated a great teaching to us. One of the most profound is in the area of giving up on dreams.

He was a man 6' 3" tall, muscular and a hard worker. He was also known as a walking alcoholic. He could go to work in the steel mill having had his quota of straight-up whiskey, supervise a crew of men in the blast furnace and be extremely safety conscious. That takes skill. But the main thing I remember is that he had a great talent for playing baseball.

Hearing the stories from him and others about his fastball, pitching no hitter games and his passion was amazing. There was never another subject that would change his face and gestures while speaking except baseball. He was born in 1909 and by the 1930s was a recognized player not only by locals but the majors as well.

I can't remember if it was the White or Red Sox that offered him a contract to come play with them. He was thrilled! He had made it into the major leagues, his future set. There was only one problem--his wife. She was a hometown girl and wasn't about to take on the life of a baseball wife, traveling from city to city, or staying home alone. At the time there were no children in the family. The subject brought on more than a husband/wife argument.

Growing up in the environment of lost dreams and shattered lives, is not a healthy way to live. But it made an indelible print on me. He gave in to my mother, he stayed at the steel plant, and hated life and everything about it.

My lesson learned was simply this: To hold to the dream and vision, sometimes other things have to either go away completely or take a side seat. It is important to have those who value you and your dream in your circle of influence. Sometimes keeping the dream alive is lonely. Don't be afraid to tweak it. Dream followers live on the edge, you have to take chances.

So even through the very rough times, I took away a positive. He taught me to work hard and not stop. Get a plan, a dream, a vision--go for it. My two brothers didn't do that, they took the safe route and were miserable in the end, always looking for the tail of the comet instead of riding it through the universe of could be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What In The World Is Going On?

In this pivotal book by Dr. David Jeremiah concerning what would be considered by most of the world as the top "10 prophetic clues you cannon afford to ignore". This is not just a Christian book, but one that all diversity groups speak about. What In The World IS Going On? and how long has it been happening right under our noses?

Answers to questions such as are we moving into a New World Order, North American Union, Transcontinental Union with the European Union are answered. What countries really make up the army that comes against Israel--and why will Israel still stand? What is the biblical timetables for this battle. There is much talk today that Israel or the US should fire upon Iran soon. On the other hand, Iran says it is going annihilate the US and Israel; wipe both off the face of the earth. Many believe it is now and that brings us to the end of times.

Dr. Jeremiah gives amazing facts and information crossing the lines of:
  • Domestic
  • International
  • Political
  • Historical
  • Christian
  • Islamic
  • Industry
  • Trade - not just oil but all commerce changes
  • National Security - moving closer to NAU and NWO
  • Keys to National Collapse
He then speaks directly to what most people want to know--WHO is the Anti-Christ? Many have been called this despot over the decades, but none have come to pass-yet. Who is on the radar of scholars and prophetic interpreters? There are some surprising documentation in What In the World Is Going On?

Dr. Jeremiah puts the information in an easy to read format. Each chapter speaking to a specific topic. A must read for those who are curious, and those who want information.

Someone You Might Not Know

What an awesome day to be alive, and to know that each of us are leading somebody somewhere. Well, that might take the steam out of some agenda items today if you really knew who was watching you. My kids remind me often of small and seemingly insignificant details that are still in their memories that made a difference in how they live their lives.

Kids watch everything, even when we think they're playing or not paying attention--yes they are! The video below really just speaks so much more than mere words. A big thank you to the moms and dads, loving adults who do take a participant role in the life of kids, and many times not just their own. YOU do make a difference to somebody. Each success starts with one step and one word. Someone you might not know--is watching you and creating a future.




Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beyond Blackness

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Eccles 3:1

I pondered this scripture from the Old Testament this morning and realized that I'm in a new season of life. It is always amazing when we can actually identify beginnings and endings in our daily circumstances. This time it is just WHAM! Stop. And then pick up here. Do you ever have those times? What do you do about them?

This stop and start season reminds me of riding the subway in New York City. One time we had a spectacular blizzard, think it was 2003. For some strange reason I decided to go into Manhattan to my office. Yes, I'm a workaholic! Taking a taxi from my apartment to the transit station, I boarded the #4 then WHAM! all of a sudden the train stopped. Normally that wouldn't have been a problem except we were at one of the junctions under the East River. Oh, that was bad enough.

So here we are, my fellow passengers and me, just reading and doing what subway riders in New York City normally do, when another WHAM! all the lights went out. We were under the East River in complete darkness. A few moments passed and some of the most horrible odors started to seep into the cracks of the car we were in. Terrorists attack? It had only been two years since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. My own prayers began to go towards heaven.

I had on my sneakers (all New Yorkers know to wear flat shoes on subways for just a time as this), and I had my purse flashlight. If you've ever seen the darkness of the subway lines, you know is it beyond blackness. Its hard to estimate time in total darkness--have you ever noticed that? All you could hear was the muffled talk of the passengers; moms trying to calm kids, and the steady drip, drip, drip of water seeping into the tunnel.

After a while the train was gearing back up to move along. Emergency lights were flickering, ah relief. It was short lived and we stopped and started many times into Manhattan that day.

What does that have to do witha a time and a season under heaven? I learned that I can still become instantly concerned about being in complete darkness (LOL) and that I can sit calmly and wait for help, or make a plan out of any situation. The seasons of life are sandpaper to build a better tomorrow, and for that I am truly grateful.

Like many of you, I have had horrendous WHAM! Slams! in life, but always God has been there to help me pick up the pieces and move me on down the tracks of life.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Year It Wasn't Just a Tree

Heavenly lace decorated the evergreens in front of the house. Fresh snow, the magic of winter, shrouded the dismal thoughts of our first Christmas alone. Just five short months ago, we had been a group of six angry, frustrated, and disappointed people, now we were five. With hardly a whimper, I had become a single mom with four kids, expected to carry on the family traditions of happy fun-filled Christmas activities and gifts. I looked at the splendor of God's hand on the world, and in the deepest of those personal heart spaces prayed that he would bury me as well.

Jolting me back to reality, four little hands waving wildly as they ran into the room proudly displaying their Christmas decorations made at daycare. The two youngest were excited to have something to contribute to the decorations and festivity of the season.

"Mommy, mommy, we can hang these on our tree." My third daughter then aged four was so expectant.

"Treeeeeeee" squealed my son, aged 3. I wondered how he could even know about a Christmas tree.

"Mom, you should see Mrs. Oliver's Christmas Tree. Its beautiful." The eldest daughter and caretaker of the brood in my absence, loves Christmas trees. She asked many years just for a tree, no presents, no special gifts. For her it was the splendor of the fragrance of pine, and the twinkling lights. She had always understood it was temporary, but rather temporary than not at all.

My second daughter knew that a tree was going to be a hard sell this year. The older two girls and I looked at each other trying to hold back the tears each of us felt. Somehow the Christmas tree was a focal point that brought us all a moment of peace; a hope and promise that everything would somehow be all right.

Money was tight, no child support, my salary barely covered the day-to-day. Even though abuse was not part of our daily life any longer, the memories were more than enough to keep us under a cloud.

My oldest daughter had slipped out of the room and went to the storage area, lugging in box after box of decorations, she and her sister started to decorate the mantel with the elves and stockings, garlands around the doorways. My role was to make the hot chocolate while the two younger kids danced in the middle of the living room. It was starting to look a lot like Christmas past.

Watching the love and appreciation for what they had, knowing that it was going to be totally different, we made the best of what we could do. As evening began to turn into a silent night a soft knock was heard at the front door. A neighbor who didn't say much and waved occasionally stood covered in snow with a smile as big as summer.

"My wife and I thought you might be able to use this."

Tears could no longer be contained, nor the sobbing of my heart. This man, sent by God to answer the prayers of a desperate mom, carried into our home a fragrant evergreen that became a Christmas miracle, not just a tree.

As the holiday season begins, will you take a moment and see where you can make a difference to somebody in your own special way? Its not the amount or size, its the love with which it is delivered.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never Without Hope

I just felt like today should be one of Praise and Worship ... today be free! We are never alone and without hope.



Monday, November 17, 2008

365 Days Later

Last year at this time I was living in eastern Africa, thinking about being back in the States as people ere getting ready for holiday shopping, Thanksgiving dinner, and then Christmas. I wondered what it was going to be like in the rural areas where I was living, in a place that so far hadn't gotten excited even over the local holidays.

It was strange to find that even the national holidays were nothing of importance. I laughed at how many times the banks were closed because of "National Day". It seems that every person had a special holiday if they had been in office, but in a democracy of only 40-years or so that wasn't so hard to understand. But it was the special holidays of growing up that I took for granted to be internationally celebrated. So the anticipation started growing.

As the days passed, one morning I sat on my terrace looking out at the northern mountains that were always green and seemingly close enough to reach out and touch, the strange ridge of irregularly shaped trees breaking the horizon. Allowing my memories to flood into a bran that had purposefully trained to be focused and without attachment to too much of the past. I was, after all, living in a land where there were no old friends, old traditions, and certainly nothing that was tangible to my personal past.

My children as small youngsters came first, the delight of Christmas and helping fix the Thanksgiving dinner. Cleaning for days before all the extended family would arrive for a dinner in a house far too small to hold everybody, but somehow it all worked out. Carpets that had to be cleaned after the big dinner and before the tree was ceremoniously placed in the living room. It all seemed eons ago.

I wondered what we would be eating for Thanksgiving, and then found there was no Thanksgiving holiday. Bummer! But then no turkey either and the chickens were so small that even stewed there was more bone than meat. Mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, and all the good stuff were basically non-existent. I could have koo-koo (chicken) breast with a small wing deep fried, served with ugali (white coarn meal made intoa real grits type for), I had mine with soft french fries.

While I sat in the restuarant with my deep fried chicken, fries, Coca-Cola and fresh fruit plate, I watched the people down in the turn-about on the street below. My mind and heart began to reflect on life in general and the awesome opportunities that I had been allowed to experience.

I have learned not to take life for granted, nor the things that are so abundantly given to us. To my friends in east Africa, a big pot of ugali and greens was a blessing. To have beans and/or rice was being rich. My friends thought it strange that I chose to walk to town on most days, walking with the villagers and neighbors instead of taking a matatu (van). It was important to get the whole experience. Coming back to the States, it is difficult to see food thrown away because somebody doesn't like it, 57-brands of chewing gum, and several colors of a handbag, dresses, and other commodities.

This year as I reflect on what last year was like and the lessons learned, I am thankful this year that I can know that the source of all things is a loving God who knows the beginning from the end. That I have had the wonderful experiences of living with other cultures and becoming part of them--as one race-humankind.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Veterans: The Electronic Engineers Who Design the Weapons

Memories this week have been fun and at times very heart wrenching, thinking about those who have served in the military, family and friends, and yes, even those not known by name but certainly by story and struggle. Today, I think about my eldest brother Dennis. He was an absolute genius when it came to any kind of higher math. He had trouble with English classes, and I had trouble with Algebra--we made a good team. Dennis was nine years older than me and a year older than "the middle child" Richard.

Dennis graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Electronic Engineering. Then he joined the US Army. By physical description everybody said he could have gone to Hollywood and been a double for James Garner. To me, he was just Dennis.

After boot camp in California, he came home and said he had been asked to go to Officers Training but declined. That wasn't his goal. So he instead joined a group of high specialized electronic engineers. During his military experience I loved to hear his stories and kept them near to my heart. Near the end of his life, he allowed me to ask things that he would never tell me before. And some secrets he really did take to his grave.

His security clearance was high enough that even as a teenager, the government began a file on everybody in the family, interviewed all our neighbors, my school teachers, anybody we dealt with basically. I thought at the time it was so thrilling--and mysterious. As I became an adult and we would talk, I asked him once, what in the world did you get yourself involved with!!

Teaching electronics to the Turkish military; he loved not only the work that he did, but the places he was sent to. Over the years I have thought it so strange that he brought back a beautiful Koran, in Arabic which he couldn't read.

He was on alert for the Bag of Pigs Invasion, as he had been training with special forces and Green Beret. He loved going out in the Arizona and New Mexico deserts on trials of new weapons. Trained in New Jersey where he had to memorize everything, nothing written; no paper or pens allowed in the classroom.

Stealth technology, weapons being designed during the Vietnam war that were used in the Gulf War of the 90s. Of course one of my questions that received silence from him was if he had ever worked in Area 51? At least I got him to admit that we had indeed worked on flying saucers. And that's another reason I take all the sightings with a grain of salt (or sand). Worked on Star Wars technology before it was made public and other "future" gadgets.

The interesting thing in all of his training and work--he was the most humble and loving person you would ever want to meet. Shy and unassuming, avid reader, Boy Scout leader for life which his wife and kids all got involved with, and loved God. Dedicated to whatever he believed in--and would have gladly died for any cause that involved the pursuit of life and liberty.

I miss our talks. When we got our heads together everybody left us alone, we had such similar passions of politics, military weaponry, world events, and religion. Such a mixture--but it all worked for us.

So to those in the military who work on defense systems and the future "gadgets" Thanks--You are definitely not acknowledge too much but I for one know how much you have to give to do what you do. I learned not to take for granted that we just "had the equipment". Somebody had to design and help produce the perfection of the weaponry.

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/22/documents
/starwars.speech/
http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/sc19may99_1.htm


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fort McClellan--Wash Rack, Salute, and a Hug

Fort McClellan, Alabama in the summer time for boot camp was not just hot by the temperature but also in finding that the recruiter wasn't quite honest about what to expect at least in the mind of the recruit. What they left out was how they were going to look like the videos. Well, let me restate that, the recruiter showed great pictures and gave wonderful testimonials, just not the more difficult challenges that would be experienced.

Back in the day (about 35-years ago), a young woman sat in the recruiters office and was shown videos of the soldiers in crisp uniforms, women sitting in make-up classes learning techniques. Then there were the brochures and more pictures of traveling the world, sightseeing and being part of the bigger picture. What young woman wouldn't want to take part in THAT? Especially when the place you currently reside, a city that was THE place to live was now all but dead. Yeah, sign me up.

This is the true story of a friend who proudly signed up to be a U S Soldier. This is just one of the many funny stories of interpretation and what truth really became. You heard a little bit about her in a previous blog, but today I focus on Sargent Worthey's first weeks in basic training at Fort McClellan.

Coming from a line of African-American soldiers--both Air Force and Army, she joined the ranks. With the last name starting with a "W" she was last in line for most things, and at 5' 3"
by the time she got to the quartermaster to receive her uniforms and boots, most of the small sizes for women were gone. She got the fatigues okay, but the boots were a bit too large, so they put her in the men's shoes to try to get a better fit.

"They didn't tell us that those nice, crisp looking uniforms we saw, that we were going to have to iron and starch them to have that crease and stand up look".

"If you really wanted to have the bed that you could bounce a quarter off on, you just didn't sleep in the bed."

"And that makeup class, not even close. They had little classes sponsored by one of the major makeup companies, but not the type of let's do hair and makeup we were expecting."

"After make-up class they sent us to the gas chambers. What a sense of humor, we go from putting on makeup and looking really nice, to choking and gagging, our mascare running."

One day she said she had enough and wanted out. Her unit had a short break and she went immediately to a pay phone way at the other end of the yard. She was talking to the now retired Command Sargent Major of the post, better known to her and the family as "Uncle Ray". And as he was giving her a "hang in there", Worthey turned around to see her own sargent walking towards her. The result was not pretty.

A few weeks later Worthey was taken by some soldiers and told her she was to report to the wash rack. It was one of those places you didn't want to report to. Oneof the worst places you could be assigned! Thinking that talking on the pay phone couldn't have been that bad, but here she was and with an escort. She just followed orders. Behind the buildings, in a back lot was a car and as she approached her escort stopped and she continued on--out stepped "Uncle Ray".

What a difference a salute and then a hug can make to a homesick soldier. She didn't only make it through basic training but went on to be come a top sargent.

Moral of the story? We can all be in a challenging condition. Maybe its not one that we considered could happen because it wasn't what we expected--we might even had hoped for something a bit different. But what a difference one person can make to help us change our attitude and direction.

You make a difference to somebody--make a difference today. Somebody might be in a place of saying I've had enough--are they waiting to hear from you with a word of encouragement?

I'm going to have to tell you about "Uncle Ray" ... I adopted him as somebody I look up to and have a picture of him in his uniform on my desk. A soldier's soldier that never said "quit".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thanks to Navy, Marines, Coast Guard Veterans Week













Thanks to everyone who has visited during my tribute to Veterans. It has been an exciting and interesting week for me. I found some facts I didn't know, and great discussions with friends, some of whom are currently serving around the world and others who recall their days of active service. Today, however, my thank you goes to the Navy and Coast Guard through all the wartime and peacetime surveillance of the waters of the world. Talk about having no place to run when you're in a battle.

Fleet Week in New York City is always a fun week. Going down to the harbor and Museums is a great get-away if you're a tourist or a local.

Now we know that many battles raged on the seas and the loss of lives have been many. We look at the Pearl Harbor Memorial as a tribute to WWII and being caught unawares. Those more recently on the USS Cole in the Middle East. The awesome place of PT boats during WWII and victories at sea. If there was one thing I would love to see is getting youth interested in history.

So to the men and women present and past of the Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Navy Seals (you guys have my attention!) you have my Thank You today and always, along with the whole military.

Freedom isn't won in an armchair watching. It starts with people in leadership who hopefully has the right intelligence briefings to make the right decisions. War is costly in terms of body counts, shattered lives, grieving, and character. I wonder what would have happened if the soldiers who came home from WWI and WWII, even Korea would have told what really happened to them, what the real "on the ground" fighting and their experiences--would we, as a world society, allowed leadership to behave in the manner it has with the lives of our citizens?

Would we or our previous generations simply given a silent approval to the things that have now shaped our today society? Will we the current world population, go quietly into the next long night silent? Or will we speak as our Generations XYZ, have now begun to do for change and better yet, what is the change we are now headed into? Will it result into a long dark night or a brightness we cannot comprehend? Something to think about as we make decisions daily--not just for ourselves but for our neighbors and our generations.







Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuskegee Airmen


I first learned of these awesome men of color from a friend of mine whose uncle just happened to be one of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. The stories are phenomenal. He requested his name and situation not be used. The historians have been trying to get him to give his history, so far he has refused. But let me just say, "Uncle" became the first African American--that's person of color to fly a commercial airliner in the United States.




Those who flew in the same unit during World War II have a great website at http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/Tuskegee_Airmen_History.html

On 2 July 1943, 99th Fighter Squadron pilots escorted B-25 medium bombers in
an attack on Castelvetrano, Italy. Enemy FW-190 fighters rose to intercept the bombers, and the Tuskegee P-40s intervened. On that day Lt. Charles B. Hall scored the squadron’s first aerial victory. Never before had an African-American fighter pilot in the U.S. armed forces shot down an enemy aircraft.3

On June 9, 1944, Col. Davis led 332d Fighter Group as it escorted bombers of the
304th Bombardment Wing on a raid to Munich, Germany. Over the Udine area of
northeastern Italy, up to 20 enemy fighters challenged the formations, and a series of dogfights ensued. Four of the Tuskegee Airmen shot down five ME-109s that day.
Success was dampened by the fact that one of the Tuskegee flyers failed to return. 332d Fighter Group commander Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism that day.12

The combat record of the Tuskegee Airmen
speaks for itself:

. Over 15,000 combat sorties (including 6000+ for the 99th prior to July '44)
· 111 German airplanes destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground
· 950 railcars, trucks, and other motor vehicles destroyed
· 1 destroyer sunk by P-47 machine gun fire (Lt. Pierson's flight)
· Sixty-six pilots killed in action or accidents
· Thirty-two pilots downed and captured, POWs
· A nearly perfect record of not losing U.S. bombers, a unique achievement
· 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses earned
· 744 Air Medals
· 8 Purple Hearts
· 14 Bronze Stars
These are just a few of the excerpts from the wonderful historical website. Please take some time and read the histories and amazing statistics of these pilots who made a difference to the war effort and international freedom.

War doesn't have a color, race, or personal identification--it is a nation and an ideology /Susan Storm Smith

I hope you have enjyed our historical visit today with a great bunch of guys that made a difference! Be sureto visit the website and let some young folks know some other parts of history that they won't find in their history books.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vietnam War From A New Perspective


Growing up during the 60s was an interesting time. As youth we were moving from respecting our parents to we're going to do it our way. We had become intolerant and stubborn. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War was also going on and we didn't know quite how to filter that through the lens of duty to country and patriotism. Our graduating class was the largest in history at the school. By our senior year, with the war going full strength by 1965-1967 we had many who got married, left the country heading to Canada and those who went to serve their country; some returned alive, while others did not. Then there were the rest of us.

Some went about life as usual pretending life was beautiful. Others protested the war with great outbursts of emotions and marches. The Vietnam Era was really an "Era of Mass Confusion". President Kennedy had been assassinated, President Johnson thought he knew how to get a victory, Robert McNamara was running the show. Johnson knew he wasn't going to win and left the White House instead of running for a full term. You know its bad when even the government that is supposed to running things and telling you all is well bails out.

In retrospect, we were at a point in life of just falling apart socially and literally. Our moral values were being shredded with the hippy scenes of Haight-Ashbury and the Jesus Freaks in their vans. Music of Bob Marley, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, Grateful Dead were some of the hot groups of the era. And then there was this war that was in the way of avoiding the new roll-out of our generation. What we have come to realize--the Vietnam War helped define our generation. We were not Generation X, Y or Z ... we were the Vietnam/Hippy Generation.

Television played out the war for us every night on the television. The continual lines of body bags with young men and women forever silenced. Film in military hangers with flag-draped coffins of these same soldiers now back on US or their country's soil. It is painful to remember how so many hated the war and put the hate towards those who were fighting. We hated the government, we hated those fighting the war, we hated our parents, and we hated society that was trying to keep us in line. The 60s was a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; finding Jesus through tie-dyed guru's, and hating the world in general. We were extreme brats as a generation, generally speaking.

Laughing through a smile when kids in school come and ask me, what it was like living through that old war, you know, Vietnam, I realize that life has come full circle. Telling the stories of hero's that stood in the jungles of Southeast Asia, booby-traps to kill wonderful people, horrible disease brought on by Agent Orange that men had to suffer for decades with upon return. And then tell them that this is the price for freedom. Then I tell them of the Vietnamese neighbors I had as an adult, one man had been a military leader, tortured just before he and his family escaped on one of the last military flights from Saigon.

When we sit and discuss the current war in Afghanistan and say the same things, "we shouldn't be there". All I have to do is look at the people who made it out at a time when their life was truly about to be taken from them and ask myself, "What is the role of mankind, if not to help others?" Does war help? Such a personal question and as many people that respond, I'm sure there are as many answers.

Hug somebody today, especially a veteran. Tell them thanks for fighting a war when maybe not a lot of people thought it was correct to do so. Write to a veteran or active military person, let them know you care and are thinking about them and the sacrifice they are giving to you and to me.

"All we need is love. la la la la la All we need is love la la la all we need is love, love.... all we need is love."

Let's get the right kind of loving moving on this planet before we kill it and ourselves.





Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day 2008 A Nation Says Thank You


Today is Veterans Day here in America, and I especially want to thank the veterans of foreign wars which gave their lives--literally and figuratively. Our hearts are turned towards Arlington Cemetery where the wreath to the Unknown Soldier is laid against the tomb representing so many who have fallen in the supreme sacrifice to our country. I think of those who fought both the war against a foreign enemy and those who have fought against their comrades for equality during WWII in which they were all fighting.

During Vietnam, so many of my friends in high school didn't live long enough to have a one-year anniversary of their graduation, but died on the battlefield. And those who came home but were never the same. My heart goes out to those who are suffering so much from post traumatic stress syndrome of the current Iraq/Afghanistan Wars. To some of them and their families, it is like not making it completely off the plane. Some of us do understand and pray for your lives to become whole. To those who are deployed--we love you!

I'm also old enough to remember as a child my uncle coming to say goodby on his way to the Korean War. I was too young to understand, only that he might die and not be back. My grandmother had just died so it was very scary. He did come back and for that I am very grateful. He didn't laugh and play like he had before--even as a child I knew war changed people.

My father worked in a steel plant during WWII and was drafted. He and his brother went to the enlistment center together. My uncle was taken immediately, and my father instructed to go back to the steel plant. That was more important to the war effort than him to carry a rifle. My uncle went to Camp Williams Training Grounds, trained with a wooden stick, and never shot a bullet until he was on foreign lands fighting for his life. He died there. The military didn't have enough equipment to supply the troops for training so they sent men to fight without real training. That was WWII -- we have equipment now, but wonder if the troops have enough on the foreign lands to keep them safe?

To all the moms, dads, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters, wives and husbands who are currently serving my heart goes out to you. If you see my son and his buddies, give them a high-five from mom. For my friends whose sons and daughters are currently deployed--I cry with you and I'm proud of them along with the nation.

If you would like to do something nice for somebody--think of a service person today, write a letter and tell them thank you. Join with the groups of us who write, send packages through organizations and by all means, give some encouragement to those who are waiting at home. Its tough for the family on both sides of the uniform.

Pray for the leadership of the country, the military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff that their decisions will be in the best interest of not only the country's safety but our family members as well. We know that we are on the edge of expanded military actions around the world. We pray that sane and level headed leaders prevail.

And no matter what the leaders do to our money --- for me it shall always be
'IN GOD I TRUST!"



Monday, November 10, 2008

Salute To Veterans Week - Leaders Don't Hesitate


This is a week I would like to spend some time Celebrating the Military Veterans and a big thank you!

For those of you with military experience may have had some of these experiences. I have a minister in our organization that was in the National Guard for about 15-years. She is 5' 3" and one of the "baddest Sargents" they had. She entered the military at a time when most African American women from this area did not. I love to hear the stories of her military experiences. Her medical training and driving a duce and a half fully operational medical clinic, which came in handy when deployed during the many snow blizzards in Buffalo, New York. But today, I want to take you on a journey when she had been selected for Officers Training School.

Running the obstacle course she was fast and accurate. She was competing with men much taller and stronger, but she held her own. She was coming down the wall and headed towards a 2x4 piece of wood that stretched across a deep gully. Leaders were not supposed to have any hesitation--in anything. Approaching the small board, she hesitated., a split second thought of her fear of heights. The sargent called her over and said, "Worthey, you've got great skills, leadership ability, and you hesitated. I saw it. Now go back and do it again." She did. He later explained why gettting over the 2x4 without hestiation was so important.

She further explained to me that leaders who hesitate on the battlefield sometimes end up in "friendly fire" because one person can mean the difference between everybody getting killed or making it out a extreme danger alive. It made me think of the corporate boardrooms I have been in, as well as other leadership roles and venues. And the ones that were easy to follow and those I had to move away from.

Currently she is a corporate trainer for an international corporation. And our ministry's International Director of Youth Development and Biblical Financial Literacy Programs, and board member. We have been doing ministry together for almost 15-years and I cannot tell you how valuable her experiences have been in our development. The military trained her in skills that continually serve the world for the glory of God.

As a leader in the military you cannot show any hesitation. You are responsible for the men and women under your command. If they see any weakness in you, means their life is in danger. What an imporant lesson we could all learn from that as we go throughour life experiences.

As parents, corporate leaders, and mnisters--do we flinch and show hesitation in the important decisions. Do those under us sense our fear or hesitation? How do they respond? Have you taken inventory of it until now?

Our journey and thought today is that everybody is a leader because somebody is watching you and your reactions--you lead somebody somewhere whether you know it or not. Do you hesitate or move boldly in your decisions after careful consideration? Where in your experiences do you still have a deep gully with a 2x4 as the route across?

To all the men and women who are currently serving in the military, and to all of those who have proudly worn the uniforms of their country we add our biggest THANK YOU. Without you we would not be blogging and having the right to write our hearts thoughts on the pads of cyberspace, printing them in newspapers, and speaking them on the street.

Let us never forget that those who help keep us free, are the ones allowing us to blog--many of our counterparts in other countries are killed or imprisoned for the freedom we have to speak.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bearskins and Ribbons


My son was about five years old and he wanted to do boy/guy stuff. Well, with three sisters and a mom that was a bit hard to find. So I had some friends who were willing to let us join some of the guy stuff they did. I am so glad that I spent the summer with the girls and my son, playing in the mountains and forest meadows. We learned what it was like to be "Mountain Men".

Coming from Pioneer heritage, it wasn't hard to invision what my great grandparents went through traveling from the east coast to Utah. Some went in wagon trains and others pushed/pulled handcarts. That summer I made us matching clothes. The girls and I had ribbon dresses, and my son, of course, the matching ribbon shirt.

We stayed with "Uncle Jack and Aunt Carol". They had one of the best camps in the greater camp. Sleeping in a lodge pole tepee, large enough to hold the four of us, a couple of other friends, and five of their own family. We had a small fire pit in the middle, and lots of bear skins, and blankets to keep us warm on those chilly nights.

To be in the camp, there could not be anything, including plastic bags, if it wasn't in the old west days; it couldn't be in the camp. So no nice patio chairs, or cooking pots. The men would dig a big pit to put the meat in and cook it all day. Women cooked the other food over an open fire. The kids and I would go find firewood, and help with the preparation.

Afternoons and evenings were especially fun. Because we had such a mixture of people from all cultures and many nations at the rendevouz, some were dressed in Native American clothing, others buckskins. We danced to the sound of the drums, braided our hair (if it was long enough), wore ribbons and beaded clips in our hair. My son was adopted by some of the men and allowed to go with them to watch the bow and arrow target shoots, black powder rifle contests. And yes, there was even a black powder rifle contest for the women. Surprise of surprises, I actually won a contest.

Our family learned to eat antelope stew, venison, and other great treats that we would never would have even tried in our own kitchen. The air was wonderful, friends magnificent, and the memories unforgetable. When I tell most people that I used to take my kids to play mountain men and indians for the summer, they look at me and laugh. But true enough. I did and recommend it for anyone with a sense of adventure.

We met attorneys from Los Angeles, writers and mechanics. There were housewives that lived for the rendevouz season just to travel in their trucks and trailers, spend the night under the stars telling stories, eating good food, and having a change of pace. It is also the time when I tried rattle snake for the one and only time. I didn't eat chicken for months after that little snack. I'd rather shoot em than eat em!

I always regretted not making it to Kalispell, Monana for nationals that year. But for you dear traveler, who has journeyed into the wild flat lands and high mountains, dressed in clothes of a by-gone era, check out the many reenactments for the Civil War, Revoluntionary War, and of course, my favorite--Mountain Men! Go on Google for a site near you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thank God For Mr. Snake


This is a true story that happened in July 1999 ... Driving from Denver, Colorado to New Mexico and making a detour through Texas on God's Highway!

I was on my way to New Mexico to begin a new pastorate position. The journey was usually only about 14-hours from Denver to southeastern New Mexico, but with my car fully loaded the Holy Spirit advised that I take another route.

Gladly going south, east, and then west through Colorado and New Mexico, I saw a great deal of the country; majestic mountains, desert and wilderness. The opportunity to stop and speak with different people is something that always makes these trips pleasant. Sunday morning, July 4th, I thought of my own new independence and what was awaiting me at the end of this journey.

Day 3--Headed out of New Mexico and into Texas—man, this was a long trip! Almost to Lubbock before turning west back into New Mexico, driving about 75 miles per hour in the hot desert sun, I stopped for gas and something cold to drink. I came out of the deli to see my left front tire flat. Upon closer inspection by a young Mexican man who spoke very limited English and me who spoke no Spanish, we put air in the tire, noticed the tread almost off and everything around us closed for the holiday.

July 4th, 5 PM on a Sunday, tire that was going no further and no cash on me to buy a new tire. What a place to be! The young man drew me a map that directed me to a tire shop about 10 blocks away. I pulled in to Mr. Snake’s Tire Shop. It was a place out of an old movie. The guys sitting around smoking, used tires stacked up and weeds were competing for space.

A gentleman came and asked me what I needed and then looked down at my quickly deflating tire. “Oh, you’ve got a big problem here,” he pointed out. He looked at the other tires and informed me that not only was the left gone but the right as well. “How far have you gone like this?” he questioned. I told him the short version of the story. He then told me that by the look of the tires, I shouldn’t have gotten out of Denver.

God knew the predicament that I was going to face and knew that I would have been on the open road with no help had I gone the other direction. He had the ram in the bush and I left Mr. Snake’s Tire Shop with two new balanced tires on the front of my car. They were paid with a Colorado check (didn’t take credit cards and no ATM in the area), Arizona identification, in Texas and on my way to New Mexico. Lucky you say—I call it a God encounter.

They now knew I was a “preacher” on my way to another place—and God opened the door to deliver an impromptu deliverance service on the oil and grease stage of a tire shop. God doesn't wait for a formal church setting or meeting to address the needs of mankind--He comes suddenly when called upon any place, any time, any circumstance. Attired in my jeans and t-shirt, we had church and the Holy Spirit delivered! He didn't wait for me to put on my formal attire and look like "church."

He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our circumstance may seem overwhelming, but today everything can change, just ask Him in.

You never know where you're going to be, in what circumstance you need some help, and I have met some great people from Lubbock, including an old boss! I heard about a month ago that Mr. Snake's Tire Shop is still in business in Lubbock, anybody from there--give em a big hug for me and tell em I'm still telling the story.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Diversity Isn't Just For People--Check These Places Out

Even looking at the pictures of Arches and Zions National Parks in Southern Utah get me excited and wish I was closer. If you want solitude, gorgeous natural scenes within walking distance, then this is the place to visit.

My first experience with natural rock formations and feeding chipmunks was about the age of five. I was enthralled with the sounds and smells of nature. And it was a pleasure to take my own children to visit years later.

A place not too far away is a large desert floor that you drive through for hours. Red rocks and dirt for as far as one could see, then all of a sudden rising from the desert floor are huge rock formations like dough dropped from the hand of God onto the flat surface. At night, driving through Castle Valley, the moon gives its own special effects.

My very favorite place in Southern Utah however, is Zions National Park. Caution! Do not visit during the early spring when the floods come down out of the canyons. There is a beautiful lodge and wonderfully maintained camp grounds all over the park. Behind the lodge is a natural formation called "The Narrows". During the spring, many the hiker has found themselves in trouble with the water rushes down without warning. For those who are able to make it through this "very narrow" place, the view of a large valley of tall grasses, and multicolored field flowers is worth the hike in.

On the other side of this area are natural rock formations that look like checkerboards, and other fun and unique handiwork's of nature. Many tourists fly in to St. George, Utah and rent a car to drive the short distance to the Park. St. George was originally a Mormon settlement that has developed into a thriving city, a cross-roads between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, in northern Utah.

Now headed back towards Salt Lake City, THE cross-roads of the west. The pioneers both of the Mormons and those who went further into California for the gold rush, it is a diverse city but still holds to the old values and thinking. On the national registrars it is noted to be one of the top places to raise a family and good income. I will leave that to those who take the polls (smile).

To the west of the city is the Great Salt Lake, which was formed from Lake Bonneville thousands of years ago. When I was a child, we would go and bounce in the water. The water was so salty that you couldn't sink, you just floated. Of course you also smelled afterward because of the brine fish. Yuck! But fun, nonetheless. It used to be as salty as the Dead Sea. As the water has been receding, there are enormous salt flats.

Speed trials for formula cars and motorcycles, rocket cars--the all make it to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Daredevil speeds and daredevil drivers; its all part of the history and excitement of living in the area of such diversity.

This is the portion of the United States that I explored as a child, and many more times as an adult. Rich in diversity, challenges, and abundant wealth of memories that I love to share with you and others.

If you haven't been to the Southern Utah National Parks, I would encourage you to take at least a week and see them. They are God at some of his most unusual and artistic best. Get away from the city and become one with nature. What a stress reducer.

Thanks for taking a look back with me, and perhaps finding something invite into your future to make a memory for yourself and loved ones. Check back tomorrow for another fun and not too distant place on the plane of memories. Thanks for sharing these with me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Water Sand and Flip-FLops


I have had a lot of requests for this one, and hope that it will be a pleasant journey today. It is a rather refreshing place to be. So get a big towel and beach umbrella, slip on the flip-flops, shorts and let's go spend the day at the beaches of my childhood and more recent adventures near the water.

My first experience near an ocean was in Long Beach, California. We had gone to this very pleasant place to visit my Aunt Sonie and Uncle Chester. You can read about my famous auntie the China Painter on my weekly article Differences Encouraged at www.takerootandwrite.com One day they took us to the beach. The seals were sunning themselves on the rocks in the harbor and it was really fun to see the huge naval ships. I had never been that close to any of this before. My eldest brother had a very strange sense of humor. While my other brother and I walked and played in the surf, my eldest brother yelled that he had lost his pen from his pocket. Like a kid had no common sense to say "so what, do you think we can find it?" We started to up and down the surf looking for his pen. Then I turned around to see him laughing hilariously at our frantic efforts. We were absolutely soaked from head to toe. All-in-all, it was a fun time. I still remember it with fondness, now having lost both of them. It was about the only time that the three of us had a time of lightness and laughter together. Of course, we were also on our way to have dinner, and that was not fun in dripping wet clothes, even if it was an outside restaurant!

We lived near a large lake and as a teenager one particular cousin and I loved to race cars on the beach and on the straight roads leading to the lake. In that era, it was not fashionable for girls to have their heads under the hood of a car, let alone race them. But then, perhaps I was a "maverick" before it became popular. In the winter, when I was younger my dad would take me down to the lake and sit on the beach building a bonfire while I went ice-skating. We were both freezing, but it didn't matter--we were outside enjoying life. My love of speed let me daydream about being in the olympics as a speed skater, my mom and dad desired me to be a lady and do figure 8s and skate to beautiful music. We couldn't come to a compromise, so I hung up the skates.

People have invited me to come visit the islands in the Caribbean, which I would love to do. But the closest I have gotten is spending hot sunny days on Manhattan Beach in New York City. Now that's a place for awesome crabs and lobster, any shellfish, and big tubs of butter. Sitting outside watching passenger ships out on the horizon moving towards some exotic place. Or cross-Atlantic voyages. That is something you will not ever hear of me doing. The thought of getting on a cruise ship and going out onto the ocean is not even a blip on the travel map. Any of you ever feel that way? Or have you had great trips?

Anyhoo, the sand is hot, the water refreshing and in spring and fall wonderful to experience. Coney Island is around the corner from the beach, but that's another story. Oh, I wish I was closer, my flip-flops, paper and pen would be sitting right on the beach soaking it all in...ahhhhh

An interesting experience on a beach actually happened in Kenya, East Africa. Lake Victoria has made international headlines since it has been drying up and the "weeds" that have taken over. Introduction of exotic fish, over fishing, and pollution have all helped to deplete oxygen in the lake, causing a disaster to certain areas of the lake. The particular beach we started at was in Kissumu. As we walked down a main street towards the lake, on the left was blue water and very inviting; in front was a green carpet of weeds.

Sitting on a hill which was once a boat ramp you looked down at huts and people that had made their homes and businesses on the lake bed. We prayed for God to change the texture of the lake to its original status. When I told that to a couple of the minsters from the area they were very mad. I asked them why they would not want the water to be returned and the fish healthy again? The local people had learned to use the weeds to make purses and sell them. It was a much better industry, they thought, than fishing.

Going to the other side of Kissumu the beaches and water were delightful and worth the trip! Three countries use the lake: Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The water draines eventually into the Nile River of Egypt. Talipia and Nile Perch keep the fishermen busy. But rain is so badly needed. If you make it to east Africa, you must get to Mombasa and the beautiful resorts on the white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean. I didn't make it there because of the riots but during peaceful times--cheap air fares, tourist packages that are out of site easy! Tell them I sent you.

There are a lot of other beaches to travel, but maybe this has got you wanting to explore some beaches close to home. There are all kinds of places to explore close to home. I have lived near caves, beaches, mountains, and the hot desert. Hey maybe tomorrow we'll explore the "hot" spots. Below are some tourist links to Kenya. Thanks for visiting with me and check out what's hot tomorrow.

Links to Lake Victoria
http://www.ilec.or.jp/database/afr/afr-05.html
http://gorp.away.com/gorp/location/africa/kenya/ke_lkvic.htm



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Eagles and Hawks Fly Free


I remember the first time I was in Idaho headed towards Yellowstone National Park, all I knew was we were going to go where the bears and other wild animals could come right up to the car. I had never seen pictures or told anything else about this very strange place. Of course, this was back in about 1959 and my dad had just bought a new Ford. This was the long distance test. So it was really neat in a lot of ways.

My brothers were not joining us and my mother just "knew" I needed a little friend to come with me. Oh joy, it was going to be a cousin who had never been away from home, a year older than me, and she didn't want to come. Unfortunately, between her mother and mine, she was literally packed up and forced into the car for her "fun" vacation away from home. Has anybody else had to go on a trip with relatives and you just didn't want to go?

It only took us one day to get into Yellowstone from Utah. It was beautiful on the west gate, tall pines and flat land. We drove in to the area around Old Faithful where my parents had rented us a cabin close to the main visitors plaza. I don't like to camp, so this was going to be an real event.

My cousin and I slept in the same bed and she cried every night. She stopped when my mom promised her we would only stay three days and then take her home. So we made the most of seeing the paint pots, Old Faithful, bears and more bears on the road. What I really like though were the wood paths that you could walk on over the hot pots. Boiling water and the only thing keeping you from being boiled were the planks and a rope you held on to with both hands. I liked it even better because neither my parents nor cousin would venture out on the planks. I felt like a survivor on a fiery island. Yes, my imagination was alive and well even at that tender age.

So the one trip that was just totally cool as a child abruptly ended and we took my cousin home. When she got there she was all smiles and her mom couldn't believe she had such a bad time of it. After that, my mom realized I didn't need a companion to keep me company. So we made a return trip a couple of years later.

But this time we went in through the east gate. The most majestic views one could imagine of colorful mountains, huge acres of grasses, wild flowers and some of the best fishing a fisherman could hope for--Cold water trout fishing. Paradise.

The Grand Teton Mountain Range has three peaks called "The Three Graces". Indian legend has it that there are dinosaurs in the lake, much like Nessie in Scotland, and of course, there are a thousand other myths that go with that one. Once you get to know the locals you understand it was a way to keep people out of their land and keep it in the preserved state it is now.

We drove up through Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Now this is a place you can take your shoes off, sit back in a chair and just relax! This is God's country pure and simple. In the summer there is the symphony that plays. Imagine, in the middle of the quiet darkness of a mountain pass, the most beautiful music like angels rocketing through the heavens, illuminating the heart like stars against the velvet sky.

The best trout fishing in the land by day, hiking the mountains, walking through wonderful trails, and soaring on the currents of air with music at night. If you haven't been to Jackson Hole, Wyoming it is one of those ya gotta go experiences.

http://www.jacksonhole.com/mtn.gallery.asp This is a link to more information on Jackson Hole and pictures of the various areas
http://www.nps.gov/yell/ Information on Yellowstone National Park

Well that was a brief visit. I especially like the memories of mountains, crisp air, the quiet solitude under the expanse of sky uninterrupted except by hawks and eagles, and the animals grazing ... all the world at peace with each other, and I get to be part of it for a day or a week.

Come back tomorrow and I have a special treat for you.