What’s Next…Is Godzilla Going To Do a Flyover????.

IMG_0293.JPG

Anymore, life is getting pretty bizarre. Our thoughts and conversations are being inundated with haunting images and screaming headlines that vie for our attentions so much that we are becoming almost immune to the sensationalism.

IMG_0295.JPG

Being a self-admitted Conservative radio junkie, I wrestle with whether or not to tune out like everyone else so that I, too, can enjoy a childlike oblivion, or to keep myself informed in order that I might help to educate others. I have been using social media as a platform to keep my acquaintances apprised of what is going on. I post it, and they can choose whether or not to look at it or skip over it. At times, I try to entice them, or even total strangers for that matter, into conversation with a question about what is most likely the currently trending story on the internet. It isn’t that I like to incessantly hear about the declining state of our culture and country, but it feels like I’m watching a train wreck and I want others to know they might not want to step out on the track right now! I can’t pull myself away.

IMG_0307.JPG

Even if I want to enjoy a respite from radio and television, I feel surrounded by media of all sorts that broadcasts just how whacko things have become. My frequent comparison of our most recent culture is to the very popular dystopian novel The Hunger Games. Though it could just be in my imagination, I do congratulate Suzanne Collins and the movie’s producers on taming the gore down in the second film, Catching Fire, to suit a more diverse audience. Honestly, in the first movie, I could hardly shake the image of blood slinging at the camera as the District 2 tribute, Cato, used a machete to slash open the chest of his opponent. At that point in the movie, I remember questioning my judgement as a parent to have allowed my daughter to see it.

IMG_0296.JPG

Everywhere you turn these days, there are piercings and tattoos that must have cost a small fortune. Some of these people look like they can’t afford a meal, but their bodies are emblazoned with people’s and pet’s faces, names, and a plethora of other pictures or verses. Good thing they last a hundred years…at least they will get their money’s worth! Really, who wants earlobes with holes in them big enough to hold a roll of paper towels? Okay, I have to admit, there is some practicality in it. After all, who doesn’t hate using a public restroom, then washing ones hands, only to find an empty paper towel dispenser? I mean, it’s okay if you’re wearing jeans, but…

IMG_0300.JPG

I understand the desire for individuality, yet it has gotten so extreme that a little tattoo doesn’t cut it. People have to have their entire limbs done, their backs and necks, even resorting to their faces! People like this used to be a main event at the circus, and now it is no longer considered the fringe!

IMG_0297.JPG

Globally, our world is on fire. Christians in other countries are being persecuted and not a word in the Mainstream Media. In the Middle East, young Christian girls are being snatched from their families and being forced to convert to Muslim. Their families have no recourse, because Sharia Law overrules civil law in the land. Where is the outrage? Does anybody care? Can you imagine someone overtly abducting your own child and not being able to fight it?

Even if one isn’t interested in the images of barbaric decapitations, they are all over Facebook, Twitter, the nightly news and even casually mixed in with Southern Living and Good Housekeeping in the magazine rack at the grocery store. As one flips through the “Best Tailgate Recipes”, it is really hard to imagine the flavor or “Chipotle Sliders with Pepper Jack Cheese” when ones eyes are riveted toward the kneeling, shaved, handcuffed, helpless man in an orange jumpsuit and the terrifying black-robed executioner wielding a machete. It is everywhere. It feels surreal. It is horrific. But, to our “selfie” society, that was so last week.

Meanwhile, we have a former Vice President and celebrity protesters flying into New York to protest Global Warming on their private jets committing the unpardonable sin of spewing CO2 (just as did the flatulent cows they flew over that were grazing in the countless pastures 30,000 feet below them).

IMG_0314.JPG

Professional, paid protesters, consuming tons of diesel fuel, were bussed to New York City hailing cabs to transport them all over the city being led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who lives in fairyland surrounded by a number of other celebrities who believe in a Utopia that does not exist. The best part? How ironic that these tree huggers left the biggest mess of litter and debris in their wake!

IMG_0301.JPG

Hellur…why don’t they go protest on the streets of China, which is the largest consumer of energy in the world, or some other Communist country with whom they align their beliefs? Don’t have an affinity for hard labor camps??? I am sure they will be treated swimmingly just like the brilliant American who decided to fly to North Korea where he tore up his visa, shouting he wanted to seek asylum. Guess what? After being delivered a six-year sentence for “hostile acts” and being thrown into a hard labor camp, he has the audacity to be pleading with the U.S. to do something to go and save his little butt! Imagine that! How foolish!!

IMG_0309.JPG

Meanwhile, Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, an honorable, former Marine, having served two tours in Afghanistan and suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, easily made a wrong turn from San Diego, California into Mexico, and has, since March 31st, been imprisoned in El Hongo Prison, a Mexican penitentiary controlled by notorious drug lords. Pleas for his release, i.e. phone calls from his mother, petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of American citizens, requests from certain Congressmen, coverage on social media and the news, are falling on deaf ears in the State Department!

IMG_0311.JPG

Our country’s southern border is mostly wide open and, Lord only knows who/what is coming across. Some of these illegals crossing are possibly carrying diseases that aren’t indigenous to the U.S. so our immune systems aren’t used to fighting these maladies. Not only is our current administration not enforcing our borders, President Obama is transporting the illegals to various cities across our nation’s interior. As if that isn’t enough, Obama is giving the illegal children “HOMELESS” status which exempts them from the vaccinations that are required of other U.S. school children. I believe it is no small coincidence that a “strange and severe respiratory virus affecting children” has spread across two dozen states in recent weeks.

IMG_0308.JPG

My mother is coming to visit me soon, and she asked me if she should carry a mask and gloves to wear on the airplane. She lives a retired life with her husband and isn’t exposed to the petri dish environment that is the interior of a commercial airplane. She has always been healthy and she would like to keep it that way.

IMG_0302-0.PNG

We’ve all seen videos and photos in the news of Asian citizens that wear masks riding the subway system, walking in congested city streets, etcetera…”Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea”, I said. She nervously asked, “Do you think people will be staring at me?” She is of Hispanic descent and has almond-shaped eyes. I suggested that she put on some heavy eyeliner, wear her mask, and if someone tries to speak to her, she say, “Ni Hao!”

IMG_0312.JPG

The craziest yet, is that the United States has had some of her citizens being beheaded in recent weeks with threats of more bloodshed, Mexican drug cartels are threatening and warning American protesters of a bloodbath if they demonstrate against illegal immigration at the border, and President Obama engages our military men and women to go fight Ebola??????

IMG_0292.JPG

It has become as absurd as the old b-rated black and white horror film with masses of screaming people running from some unknown threat only to find out it is a huge, obviously fake reptile. Is that what we have been reduced to? Are we going to look up one day and see Godzilla flying overhead? Stop the insanity!

IMG_0289.JPG

Live Your Life…Like a Boss!

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” -Vincent “Vince” Lombardi

Every year, when my daughter starts school, I look for motivational quotes to write on her pencil box, planner or accordion file. For example, last year’s “It’s not how good you are that is important; it’s how good you want to be” was replaced with this year’s “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”-Vince Lombardi. I am not sure who said the first quote, but the second was spoken by a legendary and iconic coach who masterfully motivated his players to be “in it to win it” (source unknown;-)).

IMG_0285.JPG

In my search, I came across the aforementioned quote, “If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference” and thought, am I making an impact? In church the last three weeks, the theme has been titled “Like a Boss”. The pastor spoke of how our culture has gotten away from the idea of work being a good thing. He went as far as to quote a Gallup poll that was quite startling. He said, as recently as 2012, those polled here in the U.S. that were 18 and over and in the work force were either a.) 29% engaged, b.) 54% disengaged, or c.) 18% ACTIVELY DISENGAGED, meaning those actively disengaged actually work toward the demise of the company who employs them! What is the root of this malaise?

IMG_0286.JPG

My pastor went on to quote Scripture regarding mankind’s responsibility to work. The pastor said to work “like a boss”…at EVERYTHING you do… including resting on the Sabbath. His list included marriage, parenting, employment, employing, studying, cooking, serving others, et al. His messages the past three weeks have truly resonated with me. In my own journey of the Bible, through the book of Proverbs and now into Ecclesiastes, I feel like I have had an epiphany! It is ALL ABOUT WORK! God’s Word is directing us to work “LIKE A BOSS”! It is up to us to choose to do our very best in all things. We must be intentional in our life here on earth. Amazingly, I feel that the tasks that I have formerly found to be repetitious and mundane have somehow become less tedious or wearisome. I am consciously looking at ironing uniforms (yes, I really do iron), making breakfast, and packing lunch through a completely different lens. What a difference it makes!

IMG_0288.JPG

As my daughter’s crazy schedule is now in full swing, it is easy to get caught up in feeling like I am on a hamster wheel as I drive the same routes over and over to school, swimming, voice, piano, dance, and a plethora of other activities in which she participates. Obviously, Vince Lombardi is not with us any more, but his legacy and passion for pursuit of excellence is still very present and is oft-quoted to motivate us to our highest level of performance. I now realize it is all up to me to motivate myself! I am hoping to be more deliberate in living my life like a boss so that I leave an impactful example and legacy for my daughter to follow. I wonder how my husband is going to like it when I tell him, “Honey, there’s a new boss in town.”;-)

IMG_1015.JPG

Rose-Colored Gifts of The Good Ol’ Days

Having described myself as a night owl for years, I have never been a fan of mornings. Oddly enough, since my daughter has started back to school this year, I have awakened between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. without an alarm. When this had happened in the past, my usual choice had been to try to force myself back to sleep resulting in frustration if I was unsuccessful. If I was lucky enough to doze off, inevitably, I’d slip back into a near-comatose slumber. It seemed like mere seconds before the alarm jolted me back to life reminding me a little bit of defibrillator paddles. I would then experience a certain amount of sleep inertia and agonizing grogginess as I would grumblingly haul my body out of bed and heavily trudge my way to my work station in the kitchen. UGH!!!

IMG_0282.JPG

I have been opting, instead, to open my eyes and start allowing myself to go through a mental checklist about what I have on my agenda for the day. My mother and husband have both been on me for years to make a list. My response: “That’s not how I roll!” I now submit to the list! Though I see the merit in routine, I would never have described myself as being regimented. Just between you and me, I am enjoying going to the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee, and while it is gurgling, reading my daily devotional, two chapters in the Bible, and spending a little time with God.

IMG_0284.JPG

I once heard, that years ago, you weren’t considered educated if you hadn’t read the Bible. I thought, “I profess my Christianity, but how well do I know the Bible?” Soooo… I started with Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I have made it to Ecclesiastes which is believed to be written by the wise King Solomon as he gets into the twilight of his years and reflects upon human existence. This morning a particular verse gave me pause in which I, too, was reflective. ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions…When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about your future.’ Ecclesiastes 7:10,14

Wow. I thought about all the times recently that I find myself lamenting the current state of affairs in our world, and, even closer to home, our country. The verse’s associated devotional suggested that we look for today’s gifts instead of our very selective rose-colored memories of the past. In my close circle of influence, I recognize a multitude of gifts: my family and friends, my health, my faith, etc. Technology has bestowed upon us Skype and FaceTime with which we are able to see our loved ones in real time. We have portable all-in-one computer/camera/phones the size of a deck of cards that we can easily slip into our pockets. They store thousands of our favorite songs, photos, and videos that can be uploaded to FaceBook and a host of other social media websites to be instantly shared with family and friends, some of which we haven’t seen in 30-40 years. That is really cool stuff! I get that.

What I am wondering about in my reflection? Are my memories rose-colored and selective? In the “good ol’ days”, our music was less vulgar and more discreet in its sexual innuendoes. For example, “Mama’s got her squeezebox, Daddy never sleeps at night” were lyrics of implied sexuality but it wasn’t as in your face as are the licentious lyrics of many contemporary artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and even some Katy Perry. Thank heavens for a little Taylor Swift for our kids to listen to! I fondly recall Motown, Barry Manilow, Glenn Campbell, Disco, The Bay City Rollers, The Little River Band, Lynard Skynard, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Classic Rock, Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Toto…am I wrongly remembering a time of better melodies with acceptable lyrics? Popular music has devolved into harsh rhythms and gutter-speak that comes with a warning about explicit content. Where is the musical quality?

Years ago, I purchased a CD by Outkast that had a song “Hey Ya”…”Shake it like a polaroid picture”. Driving in my convertible, I was listening to the rest of the CD. I was sitting at a traffic light next to a minivan with its windows open that was loaded with children. The lyrics got so vile, I turned it off! What is the purpose? I haven’t listened to it since. Songs by Eminem, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, include lyrics that are overtly sexual or openly dropping the “F” bomb! Is it really music or is it profanity accompanied by an overzealous mixer that has a fondness for a heart-pounding, thundering subwoofer? Is it a contest to see how repugnant one can get?

When I was young, our sitcoms included The Andy Griffin Show, Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes, McCale’s Navy, Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, and Growing Pains. The shows were decent, AND some had parents, and even grandparents, around giving the children guidance. Today’s sitcoms such as iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Victorious and Sam and Cat either have no parents on the show and they are being raised and influenced by peers, or the mother wears the pants in the family and the father is a blundering boob.

Who doesn’t prefer the nostalgic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy or…wait for it…The Year Without a Santa Claus…”I’m Mr. Heat Miser! I’m Mr. Hundred-and-One!”?

IMG_0280.PNG

Even though we have the movies in DVD, I still look for these classics in the newspaper to find their showtimes. Only now, I have to search amongst a calendar starting Thanksgiving week that has 30 days of Christmas shows that are shown and repeated over the month. Nope…it isn’t as special as it was back in the “good ol’ days”, because then, we were only able to see them one time every December. In recent years, we have a twenty-four hour marathon of A Christmas Story ¬†on TBS on Christmas Day. Who doesn’t love it when Ralphie escapes getting his eye shot out with the BB gun only because he is wearing glasses? Will we eventually be subjected to twenty-four hours of Shrek the Halls???

IMG_0283.JPG

Recently, my mom recommended that I get my daughter to come up with one meal per week: I will get the ingredients, and then she will cook it. We have now done it three times. It takes a lot of patience on my part, because I want to get it done as quickly as possible. Growing up, I remember my mom appointing me as her personal sous chef, so it is only fitting, that I have my own. I must say, she LOVES it. She enjoys taking ownership and is learning that the food doesn’t just show up on the plate. The memories that I have spending that time in the kitchen sure beat going to a restaurant or drive-thru which seems to be the preference these days. I even think some people that eat out all the time have adapted palates that would rather have a Chipotle Burrito then home cooking…not me! It is a labor of love that makes the house smell like a home. I think spending time as a family in preparing the meal is something that is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Perhaps, traditions are part of those rose-colored memories. Aren’t they what make us who we are? With the holidays quickly approaching, most of us look forward to rekindling those time-honored rituals that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Every year over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom, daughter and I ice gingerbread cookies and take them to the firefighters and/or policemen to show our gratitude to those who are working over the holiday weekend. Due to the gift of technology, I greatly appreciate that I will be able to have a face-to-face conversation with my brother and sister-in-law on Thanksgiving Day! Better yet, standing in the kitchen slicing and dicing, basting and tasting alongside my mom and daughter will be most assuredly a timeless joy…just like “the good ol’ days”!