Scrolling Past It All: Intentionally Choosing To Be Missing Out

It’s 2016 and time to make those resolutions. Hmmm….which ones should I commit to this year? Which ones will I realistically keep? Don’t think too hard about the ones I might just fail miserably at.   Or just maybe—I may succeed?

I made a list of a few things I hope to accomplish this year, but all of them can be summed up by one desire:

To better live each day and moment with intentionality, purpose, and organization.

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in 2015 and have been dealing with some anxieties. The problem with anxiety is this; it’s like interest -– it compounds. The more you think about all that makes you anxious, the more your anxiety exponentially increases. Meanwhile, the law of entropy continues to thrive: Things fall apart—continually.  Everything decays as time passes.   Anxiety plus entropy is hard enough, but if you add procrastination to the mix?

Aye yi-yi. The triple threat of the unproductive life has arrived.

Because with each passing moment, our internal time clock knows we have one less minute to sort thru the complexities of life than we had a minute ago.

Are you stressed yet? If you’re still reading this, you’ve already lost one minute of your busy day.   You could’ve plowed thru an email or two, perhaps deleted 8 or 10 junk ones, but for whatever reason you’re still here. So I’ll try to cut to the chase.

I like to write. I’m also kinda-sorta trying to grow a photography business—I think. Or put it this way, my hobby is trying to stretch me in new directions that I’m trying to decide if I wish to pursue. While still homeschooling full-time. And working part-time, minimally, but responsibilities still beckon. Oh, and be available for a mom who is getting older. There’s also time allotted for church, scouts, sports, clubs, groups, and time invested still with grown children by attempting to know their busy schedules and still have time to hear their plans and dreams for the future.   There are chores, emails, voicemails, texts, bills, and requests. Then there are gadgets galore with menus, parts, batteries, and well….issues. It’s all too much.

I’ve been feeling this epiphany brewing in me for some time now:

I actually already know what I need to do. You probably know too.

We have to do less, in order to do more, or at least do better.

       But what to give up?

For me, I know that I know that I know: I absolutely am going to have to get off social media a lot more in 2016. I know people don’t really want, need or care to know my every whimsical thought, opinion about, or plans for “x”.   And though I love sharing so many photos, or even my writing, I have to brace myself with this fact:

       I’m overwhelmed with all that’s out there, you probably are too.

       So here we are. Three minutes gone for you, thirty for me. We have some decisions to make this year don’t we?   How now, do we spend this moment, this day that we’ve been given?

Sometimes we have to just scroll on by it all.   So much information is out there. But we have to just turn away and keep going, if we’re going to get anything done at all.   We have to not look sometimes, and do it fast.

A little less Facebook, Instagram, and Tweets? Oh well.

It’s okay if we don’t know it all. It’s not like we can fix it all anyway. It’s okay if we don’t respond to what all seems urgent. No comment does not equate to doesn’t care. It’s okay if we choose to “miss out” on the people’s news sometimes. The world isn’t going anywhere. And honestly, on some days I’d rather not know the news, be it world news or social news. I just want to live in the solitude of my cocoon for a day or so.

Call it weird. Call it antisocial. Call it worrisome. Call it intelligent. Call it rebellious.   I just call it the Liberation of Liz.

May 2016 find you at peace. Be well as you navigate your life this year and all its complex priorities.

F8th — Letting In The Right Light at the Proper Shutterspeed

1Our daily life paces at a break neck speed. Each task is like a large collection of pictures. By day’s end, our heads our spinning as we feel as though we’ve seen 5000 things. Each task, makes up the shutter speed of our life.  Each task is an allotment of our day.  Load the dishwasher, that’s 1/125th of the day.  Check a text, that’s 1/5000th.  Of course, we repeat this task a thousand times!   Got to work, now there’s a long-term exposure.  We stay busy doing many many things, all at different speeds.     We live our lives as if we are in high-speed continuous shooting mode.  But are we creating anything that lasts?

In photography when we shoot at 1/5000 of a second, not very much light comes in, even if we use a big f-stop or aperture–even with a premium lens.

So how do we accomplish all the tasks of the day with intentionality, purpose, and quality?
I suppose some of it depends on how we start and end our day, and more importantly how we transition from task to task through out:

  • Do we start each day with a quick prayer?
  • Lord, Jesus help me get thru this day.
  • Woof down our lunch and forget to pray?
  • Go to bed and rattle off our litany of prayer requests for ourselves, and then others if we have time? Perhaps an occasional utterance of gratitude?  Does this sound familiar? I know I am speaking to myself here on so many of my days.

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Living life this way is like going thru our day and taking a whole lot of pictures but not having enough time to edit them. We don’t have enough time to make them meaningful because we have too many to go through. Our clarity (perspective) on the totality of the sum total of all these tasks & images is hazy. When we have too much to do, our purpose for the whole batch seems to not make any sense. We’ve lost sight of the big picture, because of sheer volume of small pictures.

But there IS a better way:

LESS is MORE!!

This is our struggle: Like an over-bloated picture library, we have to DOWNSIZE the VOLUME of our tasks and then apply precision FOCUS and INTENTIONALITY to that which remains.

Like editing pictures, we have to PRIORITIZE our tasks into CATEGORIES:

 Must Do

 Ought to Do

 Could Do

 Want to Do

 Definitely Don’t Do (Not worthy of my time , harmful, keeps me from God)

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But how do we get to this better way?  Faith or F8th!  Faith in Jesus who can supply all of our needs!

We must pray continuously as we start, move through out or day, and end it.

In photography, a good picture results when these three things work in harmony:  aperture (how much light comes in), shutterspeed (how fast or slow the light comes in), and ISO (your camera’s sensitivity to light).

We can use some of these same elements and improve our daily life:

Son and light – Spend enough “time value” with Jesus and FOCUS on what his words mean.  How can I apply his lessons, not just read words on a page?

Speed –  “Slow down, you move to fast” — Paul Simon -59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)   We all know we have to slow down.  The key is to do it.    Unplug from media.  Take in each moment.  Linger sometimes.  Listen more.  Be present.  Breathe.

Light Sensitivity – Cultivate a teachable spirit.  Pray often.  Ask for wisdom.  Ask for help in being kinder.  Appreciate this day we’ve been given.  Love well.  And ask for divine help when it’s hard to do so.

Transition between our tasks with a gratitude prayer. Let God’s light in. It’s like opening up the aperture to our heart.

Do these things and you may accomplish less, but live more.    You may find an inconvenient truth that even some photographers already know:  Not every moment was designed to be documented, but rather written in a permanent place in our heart and savored in that sacred place.

Life is magnificent, even during the mundane tasks and the overwhelming volume and pace we’ve grown accustomed to.

On your way out the door, look up.  Check the weather.  It’s a perfect day to shoot at F8th!

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Back To The Future and Back Again

Liz and Ferarri at 16 1981-2

1980 — Liz likes to time-travel in a  Ferarri 308 GTSi

      It’s Back to The Future Day today!!  And I am totally stoked!

For me, and many of my friends, we remember the genius of the sweet and laugh-out-loud funny 1985 movie classic “Back to the Future” starring Christopher Lloyd as the quirky, creative, hyper-active  mad-scientist inventor Doc Brown and of course Michael J. Fox as the adorably frustrated Marty McFly.  We remember, like it was yesterday how McFly and mad Doc Brown had to go backwards and forwards in time in their time-traveling DeLorean to save McFly’s parents George and Louise and orchestrate their meeting and eventual marriage, otherwise Marty would never have been born.

Oh how I love that movie!  We all intuitively knew back then, we were a generation sitting on the eve of one of the biggest technology booms in history! It was fun to imagine:

Just what will the world actually be like on October 21, 2015?

Lengthy BTF header

     Ah yes, 1985.  These were the  days before I forked over my quarterly savings for an over-priced brand-name  low-fat, extra-frothy latte.  They were the days of my first job at an electronics company where I was mesmerized by a friend who had started her own word-processing business on the side.  She had just purchased an Apple MacIntosh.  I still remember her plastic-encased off-white computer.  She showed me how you can insert graphic images and do all kinds of crazy things like change fonts and the structure of a document.  No more simplified block-style letters for her.  No, she was a mover and shaker and on her way to financial independence.  I had the opportunity to join her.  I declined.  No doubt, that was a Dipsy Doodle ding-dong move.  She probably moved on to Cupertino and changed her very life I’m sure.

1985 Apple

       Making multiple trips to see that great movie, little did my child-bride twenty-year old self know that someday I would no longer be struggling to thread camera film in total darkness onto a spiral wheel in order to see a picture come to life!  Only a couple years before the movie came out, I first learned about stop-baths and f-stops.  Every camera was a manual camera then.  Whatever picture you took, well it was going to be a surprise when you finally brought it to life in the magical red room of film photography.   While I was fumbling around with film canisters and  laughing with way-ward boys in the darkrooms of high school, young Michael J. Fox was most likely finding his way too on the lots of Hollywood as he perfected his skateboarding and his characterization of McFly.

          Yes, as my love of photography was blossoming, I remember how fun it was to bring twenty four, maybe even thirty-six half-way decent prints to life on a contact sheet.  Then you pick the best ones and print a handful.  In black and white.  Because that’s as far as I got in high school.  Who knew back then that thirty years later, we would all feel like master photographers as we post 24/7 not just twenty-four or  thirty-six, but unlimited amounts of  digital selfies?  Zillions and zillions of daily photographs of our vacations, meals, kids, kittens, and various other adventures are now sent (often unfiltered and uncensored by common sense) to all of our contacts,not  contact paper, to our magical, collective social diary known as Facebook. 

       Of course the secret to the time traveling DeLorean  in the movie,  was the pièce de résistance; the flux capacitor!  I worked at an electronics company in 1985.  We had large contracts with large defense contractors–names like Northrop-Gruman, Sandia Labs, and Lockheed Martin. I figured I must be important simply by job name-association.   At twenty I was learning the process of how to make memory boards that inserted into motherboards.  You add a fan, a power supply, and a floppy 5 1/4″ disk drive, and write some hexidecimal code and VOILA!  Magic!  You now have a computer.  And though I was only two decades past wearing diapers, I thought I was one rad chick.   Never mind the fact I wasn’t an engineer and didn’t even earn $10 an hour.  I was there man!  At the beginning of this magical world that was opening up and would forever change our future.

Flux capacitor

        I remember one particular endearing geeky programmer.  He was losing his hair though he was not yet thirty and had the palest skin I’d ever seen.  I don’t think he ever spent a single hour in the sunshine.  He always had a powdered doughnut and a coke in his hand.  He was so patient with me!  Trying to teach me how to speak binary.  Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing most of the time.  It didn’t matter.  I just kinda relished in all the geek-speak and tried to absorb what little bit I could.  I could feel it, just like  the Tom Petty song:  The Future is Wide Open! The sky really was the limit!

      I couldn’t have possibly imagined then the incredible journey of marriage, three kids, multiple jobs, pets, friends, locations, and vocations I’d experience over the next thirty years.   See back then, we lived in one time zone:  The Present

      Back then, before the future, I didn’t shoot a text to my friends.  I actually picked up a clunky plastic phone and dialed them.  Ok, I admit it.  I was rich kid.  My phone actually had push buttons.  But still, my mom could hear what I was talking about because I couldn’t even leave the kitchen in the 1980s.  Yes, we pitiful ‘80s kids had those spirally leashes that kept us attached to the wall within eaves-dropping range of our parents.  We couldn’t have known then that silly phone cord would eventually serve as inspiration to GE as they would find a way to  quintuple the price of an ordinary light bulb simply by making it take a bunch of hairpin turns.  Perhaps GE executives took Edward Hammer’s CFC lightbulb to the next level because they too were fans of Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

      So here we are.  Thirty years later.  The Chicago Cubs are doing pretty darn good!  Or at least they were until this past weekend.  Don’t know if their odds are actually 100 to 1 yet, but they’ve been living with those odds for a while anyway.  One can hope.  So I hope and pray, cross my fingers, and show kindness to goats whenever I see them, to lift the Cubs Curse, I pray that at least this remaining unfulfilled promise of Back to the Future may actually still happen.

       And here I sit too, at the half century mark.  I know longer feel young enough to actually call myself young.  After all, thirty-somethings now seem like kids to me.  But I don’t feel old enough to justify those damn annoying AARP cards that keep appearing in our mailbox.   I write this as I ponder the next thirty years:

  • Will the Cubs have a World Series win by then?
  • Will people still use Facebook or will we start relating again “old school” with actual face time?
  • What new technologies will be invented that can actually improve, not further clutter our lives?

And most importantly, who will I be?  What will I become?  If I could punch the date on a time-travel DeLorean thirty years forward, what will I see?   So as we get on our daily hoverboard of choice,  and continuously romance our phones, I pray I can live like McFly did.   I”ll get plugged in–plutonium amp like and become part of my experiences.  I won’t always pic and post it, I’ll actually live it.  

When seeing the future as a someday past, it makes me ponder what do I have to do now, to keep my family intact?  Most importantly with all this technology, how do I prioritize my time to live with purpose and have a meaningful life?  How do I live and love now in case one day, I too, get to go back to the future and see it all from a past perspective?     May we all choose wisely and not miss those moments of destiny where our past and futures collide.

Happy Back to The Future Day!!

Double Digit Man Builds an AM Radio

“Single digit years are for learning,

but the double digit years are for earning”….The Wisdom of Tyler at 10

Tyler radio

Double Digit Man and his AM radio

How’d we get here so fast? It seems like only yesterday, I was holding our little peanut, our tiny precious baby boy, this last precious child.  The weeks quickly turned to months, then years, and now here we are: The first decade is in the memory vault now.

Day One:

I still remember your birth like yesterday. You were born twenty minutes exactly after we got to the hospital. Yes, twenty minutes. You were almost born in the car, stuck in traffic between a State-Carolina game and NC fair traffic. Then we went to the wrong hospital entrance, the one for heart attacks, which your dad was about to have I believe.   When asked my name at the admissions desk for cardiac patients, I screamed, “THE….. BABY……. IS…… COMING…….. OUT!!!!”   No further questions were asked. I was wheeled faster than a NASCAR pace car across the hospital campus straight to maternity. I was stripped, pushed down, and not anesthetized. A few excruciating moments ensued. BOOM! You arrived.

We hit the ground running that day. We haven’t slowed since.

Mom and baby Tyler

Day Two:

But you started leaving me a little too. And every day forward, it’s been a little bit here, a little bit there, but always something each day slips away from those first moments we shared, never to return.

Year One through Five:

You changed completely. And then changed again.

You started out speechless, and pooped your pants a few thousand times those first few years. And though it felt like forever, finally, you reached hygienic independence once you saw your preschool peers do the same thing.   Those victories were so huge then. Still–we forget them.

.2 PDSCF2657_035

Many sleepless nights were then followed by you learning to walk, and talk, and then talk back. You also learned to count, say your ABCs, read, write, build, create, and understand.   Like the caterpillars we ‘re currently watching transform into butterflies, how quickly our baby transformed into a little boy.

Punk Rock Tyler DSCF8697

 Years Six through Ten: You became even more of you:

You became my creator extraordinaire.   Somewhere between your starter set of Duplo blocks and your attic room’s current infestation of countless Lego kits, you changed. No longer content to just build a Lego kit, you now can design a Lego Masterpiece from scratch, or take a kit and rebuild it into something extraordinary, functional, and new that is NOT in the instructions either. You do this and don’t even have any pieces left over.

You’re a stroke of genius, and sometimes madness. You are our pint-sized genius who sometimes struggles to write legibly and “stay focused” on school work; yet somehow manage the most complex concepts. As a toddler you didn’t speak until two and a half, and then you went from barely babbling to a string of sentences literally in a matter of a few days. There were few first words, only big ideas.

You memorized complex lyrics to the Phantom of the Opera by age four. You can tell me now who produced or starred in every Batman movie ever, and what year it was made, where it was filmed or who produced it, etc. You’re the king of trivia and Monopoly, but can’t seem to quit using your fingers to do basic math.   Despite ten thousand requests, you still forget to wash your hands after a bathroom break!

Queen Skelly

You are my Doctor Doolittle. You are the sensitive lover of animals who helps me bury and pray for the souls of the severed remains of every creature killed by our Lion King-like cat Toby the Hunter. You have begged (successfully, I might add) to keep all the strays we’ve ever found.   After all, four pets is NOT too many, right? Then there’s the rescued birds, bug collections, and caterpillar hatcheries.  With our four-footed friends, we both giggle and squeal over what we call “cuteness attacks”. You tell me you feel like your heart might explode from happiness when you watch our cats cuddle together, or the dog sneaks a kiss with Toby. I feel the same way when I watch the joy on your face.

IMG_7721    IMG_9815

You are my Mr. Business. You are my competitive child who is determined to get Boardwalk & Park Place first in Monopoly. You understand money, and amazingly, how to leverage OPM (other peoples money).   You actually think of things like propositioning your parents to buy raffle tickets for your unwanted toys in order to buy more toys. You beg me to show you how to sell stuff on eBay, and have asked me to teach you how to monetize your own YouTube channel. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know yet how to do these things, never mind the time, you’re willing to wait, or better yet– pester me until I find myself doing that which I really don’t even want to do. I watch you “take over” when in a group of kids, immediately assigning the tasks of the playground, and wonder how do you even do that? Charm and confidence will surely compensate for any lack of knowledge or skill sets,  I have no doubt.

You are My Connoisseur of Culture: You’re my partner in a shared love of history,art,  science, drama, and music. It delights me to no end that you appreciate going to museums and enjoying visual or performance arts with me.   And in our first year homeschooling this year, I like it when we work together—the blissful moments where the whole house is quiet, even the dog and cats are asleep and then our little one room school magically fills with the sounds of opera. Or U2.   Or Vivaldi. Or Lindsey Stirling—YOU introduced me to the music of this amazing violinist. How did you know? You just do this all the time. Telling me things I don’t even know. Wonderchild. That’s what you are.

Forest Tyler

You are the best little brother and grandson ever.  Though you’re growing up mostly as an only child, you are all over the big brother and sister who helped me when you were a baby and who now laugh and revel in your presence when ever they visit home. You’ve found a way to worm your way into their hearts too.  They are like hip parent substitutes around you, alternating playing Santa to your childhood desires and being dutifully annoyed by the little brother who took over one room and then another, claiming more house real estate then they were ever privy to.    You bring them so much joy and laughter, just like us.  You are also the delight of your grandmothers and other relatives.   You are a baby with extra time and toy benefits with them.  You have kept their hearts young with your exuberance for discovery.  Nothing beats seeing life the second and third time around through the lens  of a child.

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Fast Forward to Now — The Birthday:

For your birthday all you wanted was a Play Station 3. You said you’d rather have that than then a party. I acquiesced, as after having choreographed thirty-four kids birthday parties for you and your siblings before this one, I woke up this year and realized: I’m toast.

I gladly “traded” a high-value gift for a high-chaos party. We were both happy. You got your Play Station. But you also received a microscope and a Snap Circuit electronics kit.  After eating cake,  instead of zooming to your highly coveted video game system, you did something that surprised us. First you got out your microscope. Then you built an AM radio. By yourself. By following directions with your Snap Circuits. Yes, follow directions.  Those two little words I often say, as though I’m a foreigner from a strange continent, speaking to someone with selective hearing loss.  But these things you’re interested in?   You’re laser-focused and assembled the radio independently like you’ve been doing it forever.

These are the moments where it’s so COOL to be a parent. The ones where your kid just totally surprises you. So hours after the family birthday dinner ended, Daddy and I, couched and tired, watched you create your radio. In a matter of minutes, we were listening to the static-laden AM broadcasts of war in the Middle East that was immediately followed by the soft sounds of 70s singers Olivia Newton John and Kenny Rogers.

Oh son. Life is more like this AM radio world then you know.   We’re nestled inside our cozy little home, but just beyond our walls, lies a darker world of death, destruction, and a multitude of wars for our very lives and souls.  I want to shield you forever from evil, and fear, and anxiety, and worry, and stress and hurt and just blanket you with Olivia and Kenny or musical theater. I want to lay out a blanket of furry critters for you to always be able to cuddle with. I want to spread overhead a sky full of rainbows and eclipsing moons and falling stars.

I want you to grow up, but not at the expense of losing the magic.

I want you to experience all the triumphs and love of being an adult outside the limits of this family, but wish I could spare you the pain too.

I won’t be able to stop it. Loss and hurt and hard are as much a part of life as discovery and wonder and amazement are.

All I wish today is for you to stay awhile. Stay a child a little bit longer.

I kiss you goodnight, and as this decade closes, I silently thank our God for being so gracious. This beautiful baby boy born in the autumn of my mothering years—I am blessed by your presence in our lives, beyond what I ever could have dreamed.  I love you!

Happy 10th birthday. Love, Mom

Cuteness attack

This is what a cuteness attack looks like! 

Tyler IMG_4516IMG_5002 Tyler IMG_4518

Unsustainable Inspiration: Narcissism on Parade

Trump New York Magazine Bobby Doherty

Photo Credit: Bobby Doherty – New York Magazine 09/21/2015

I admit it. I was dazzled by Trump. For about 24 hours. I even liked his Facebook Page and posted a few complimentary things on it, shortly after he announced.  But it wasn’t long before the elephant in the living room (that everyone IS talking about), grew so tremendous, I began to wonder if there was even room for me in here anymore.

Like a rabid sports fan, I anticipated the first debate like it was the Super Bowl. Then the moment of what I call The Big Letdown occurred: Trump opened his mouth. Yes, Trump spoke.   I felt (and still do) like I am watching a slo-mo implosion of epic proportions. It just hasn’t quite happened yet.

He made it clear from the first question, he was a “My way or the Highway” kind of guy. Either America will be smart enough to vote for him, but on the off-chance they’re not (remember Iowa — how stupid are the people of Iowa?), and thus too stupid to realize he should be number one, then he couldn’t (at that time) with absolute certainty promise that he would eventually pledge to support the Republican nominee.

Brilliant move, Mr. Trump, brilliant. By assuming we’d be too scared to have to go with yet another establishment Republican that would say only what’s necessary to get elected, and then do little to no more, many of us flocked to you with ears burning to be ticked with what you said. In so doing, we assured your skyrocket to the top, as long as you kept repeating what’s bothering us.   I give you credit for that: Successfully nailing our frustrations. 

Oh sure, you’ve said the things that frustrated Conservatives like me agree with: Our borders are weak, our economy is a mess with a debt approaching infinity, we’re making deals with countries with horrible human rights issues that think it’s totally copasetic to stone women for charges (even if not proven) for adultery, or people that are homosexual.  We are saddened that the country is actually divided over something as small as and yet profound as the right to and sanctity of a human life.

You’ve resonated with a huge portion of America because you’ve correctly voiced our analysis of what’s wrong with America very succinctly, even if bombastically. However, lately I’ve had a hard time recalling exactly what you said the solutions are. Trump, you say you’ll make America Great Again. But the clear assumption is, “ONLY IF I WIN!”

And there in lies the problem. Trump can’t be the solution, anymore than Obama can be. Nor can any of the other candidates of either party be the entire solution to what’s ailing America.

You see, Mr. Trump, that’s our job! This is our country! You, if elected, as a temporary member of the Executive Branch, along with the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch, are supposed to work for us–We The People.   You can’t make America great, nor should you. But we can.   If elected, we don’t work for you, as your apprentice. You work for us, as our President. 

Your job is to uphold and defend the Constitution, and swear to protect us. Neither of which I’m confident you will. I’m afraid, if the Constitution makes you mad one day, you may just rip it to shreds and say, “Screw this!   You’re fired! Hey, this document is ancient anyway.  Worthless garbage, I’ll show you. I CAN write a better one!”

And God help us (and the world) is someone else pisses you off; and I’m sure in short order they will! We both agree there are some really evil people out there.   Still, America is war-weary after years of unclearly defined and ever-changing definitions of who our enemy is, why we’re fighting, what constitutes a win, and perpetually wonder when will our brave loved ones who serve get to come home.  Many have already given their all and more,  and for what exactly? We absolutely don’t want to send more of them because someone gets your boxers (or briefs) in a twist.

I don’t want you to tell us what or how to think (specifically, how great you are, and as a result, that is why America is great). No, I want you to inspire us, and remind us that we are great, because of who we already are, and more importantly, as a team, what we could accomplish and who we could all be if we stand united.  

Because no matter how accurate some of your assessments may be of what’s wrong with America, I pray that the vast Americans are more intellectually smart than sufficiently hypnotized by the cult of personality, although lately I wonder. I’d hate to think that you (or anyone) could win by employing the tactics of personal denigration as a means of taking down the other opponent.

Carly Fiorina’s face, yeah, that whole deal. “Who’d vote for that face?” thus sayeth the Trump. Really, Mr. Trump??   You insult us yet again.     The average second grader knows that is so not nice, and God help us all, if the country doesn’t figure out that is NOT presidential.   You’ve compared yourself to Reagan, but  instead you sometimes act like a guest on the Jerry Springer show.   I know one thing; Carly’s “face” speaks truth, with laser-precision accuracy when questioned on economics or foreign policy. She can answer questions without raising her voice or her eyebrows. Can you?

And then there’s Mr. Carson. He’s a just “OK” doctor you guess, you grudgingly shrug in acknowledgement. He, is just like every other contender, of course, and has “no chance” of being President according to you. Like Jeb and the rest of the gang, he lacks “energy” (Trump translation: balls) or a plan ( Trump translation: yours) you remind us time and again. After all, you are Number One in the polls.

Angry Trump

News Flash:  Narcissism on parade is an unsustainable source of inspiration.

You’re a powerful man.   Many even see you as a respectable man.   Your hard work ethic has the potential to be inspiring, but gets lost in translation by the arrogance of you always being right, without fault.   You may be Mr. Big in New York,  but when the word that echoes most loudly is “I, I, I”, you become smaller and smaller on the list of worthy contenders.

And lately the repeated negative slams against others, from your opponents to those in the media say less about who they are, but speak volumes of who you are.

There’s a slow train looming just beyond the bend. It seems far off, but intuitively I believe it’s gathering steam.  And I have a weird feeling you know it too. It’s the assurance of what can’t quite yet be seen, but the slow tremors are starting to be felt.  It seems to be in the infancy of gathering momentum.  Have you experienced this yet?  Pride going before a fall?  If not, you may be overdue.  We all get humbled sometimes.

I’m not sure those that fully rely on being powerful, can ever understand the mighty power of the meek, those of us who are both conservative and prayerful.

See we’re not pinning our hopes on Number One. We who pray don’t want a win by any means necessary, but a win by changing the hearts and minds of those who don’t always agree with us.   We want someone who can inspire ALL of us.

We prayerful want someone who can speak truth to power, including the man (or woman) in the mirror.    We especially expect you to speak honest truth to us. We want someone who can effectively articulate not just why, but show how conservatism and capitalism and compassion can work together to lift people out of poverty.  

Issues like substance and mental health issues, fatherless homes, and generational government dependency in neighborhoods where quality schools and jobs don’t exist, coupled with infestations of drugs and gangs leave an entire segment of citizens that feel voiceless. Perhaps you could gain the support of some of these citizens if you presented specific plans of real hope, and real change. Would you be willing to leave behind the marble waterfalls of Trump Towers as your backdrop to really connect to those less fortunate and offer encouragement and inspiration?  Inspiration may start with the letter “I”, but it should never start with the concept of “I”.  Good leadership with real power to inspire, always centers around the word WE.

There is a golden opportunity here to connect with those most hurt by the exponentially expensive and decades-lost (by government) war on poverty.   You squander away immense opportunity when you don’t reach out to the hearts and minds of those that feel forgotten or that they have no voice or that there is not equal justice under the law.  It takes courage to see things differently, to vote differently, but it’s hard to offer a relatable message when you’re too busy hurling insults or bragging on your endless accomplishments. They are impressive indeed–unless you’re too busy trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from.

Most of all,  we prayerful want someone who values life –ALL lives, despite all of our differences. We want someone who is up for the challenge of seeking ways to help us as citizens feel united despite differences of opinion, or political persuasion.   What does it really mean to “Make America Great Again”?  Does it start with you or with us?

So we prayerful do what we do best.  We wait.  We wait for the debates and we wait and watch all that you and the other candidates say and do, as we draw closer to making up our minds for sure a year from now.  We pray for our future president, not our king.

But know this:  We prayerful don’t put our hopes in the person who is most powerful. We put our hope and trust in God, who is all-powerful. News flash: That’s not you Mr. Trump. So look out for Number Two. Or perhaps Number Three or even Number Seven.

So keep going and tooting your horn Mr. Trump. We’re all going to be okay.   But you may want to keep one eye on the rear view.

Elephants in Rearview

Liz’s favorite quotes on Trump:

“You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book, he couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.   And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible.   But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”– Bobby Jindal 09/10/15 https://www.bobbyjindal.com/jindal-speech-on-donald-trump/

Donald Trump Compares Himself to Billy Graham; Says ‘My Favorite Book Is the Bible’Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/donald-trump-compares-himself-to-billy-graham-says-my-favorite-book-is-the-bible-143450/#LqCubBHf0E0tF4xc.99 Christian Post 08/23/2015

Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/

Before My Mother Named Me

Early September:

I remember the night you met my father. You were tipsy and he was flirting with you at a frat party your senior year at Berkeley. My soul felt the way your heart skipped a beat when he ran his fingers through his tousled hair. I was outside of you then; but I was hovering oh so near. I was drawing closer later that evening while I watched the cup of his hand slide over your hip, and even further still.

The moment he became part of you, that magical moment that eclipses as two bodies become one entity, one passionate living breathing being, there was this moment in time. It was the moment that only comes once in all eternity for each of us.  It is the moment that changes everything!

 Before you named me, you and my daddy helped create me. I heard your giggles when you admitted you weren’t the kind of girl who normally did this sort of thing. The eyes of my spirit saw how Daddy looked into your eyes and just sighed. Did you know you meant more to him than just this moment? He felt future, not just fun, more than the immediacy of mere satisfaction. His external confidence is big, but his internal longings have quiet deep roots that hide beneath the surface of things.

Late September:

Before you gave me a name, God was stitching me together. He was sewing up my neural tube that would eventually grow my brain so smart, that it would give me the capacity to cure cancer in the distant future. Can you believe it Mom? Yes, I will be the one that unlocks this genomic mystery. But not quite yet, give me time.

My heart is being formed too. It’s the one that’s going to break so bad when I’m six because my new kitten will get hit by a car. Your loving arms and Daddy’s warm chest will sop up my tears on that dreadful day. They are the only things that will comfort me. I wish I didn’t have to endure this.   You will remind me that this is not the end.

Thirty years later, cats and dogs of all varieties and all levels of unwantedness and unloveliness will be saved and adopted because of that little one that died so young—all because my heart will demand it. You know early on, that I knowall life is precious.

 Time will pass. Because of my unique heart I will play “vet” my whole childhood to all these beloved pets. That’s because I’m practicing for my real mission of curing cancer someday.

Baby at 4 weeks

Late October:

While my urinary tract and kidneys have been congealing and forming, you have been moody of late. You felt dizzy all day in class today. Something is amiss. Daddy senses you’re changing. He’s been distracted as of late too. In his Infrastructural Architectural class, a young Norwegian girl who is studying abroad finds him attractive.   He feels conflicted. The stress between you and him is palpable at night.

You both had a terrible argument last night. I heard raised voices and sensed the tiny splash of tears when they hit the floor. Were you thinking of me during this moment?

I need to know my name. Please! Don’t fight. It’s going to be okay. I want to meet you both soon.

 I want to love you!

“I can’t do this anymore!” I hear you shout. “I’m pregnant” you finish, barely a whisper.

You could have heard a pin drop. Yet only silence prevailed. The invisible bomb of shock that explodes when two people realize the gravity of a decision that has arisen out a moment that seemed like no decision about anything, other than this moment, this feeling, was required.

Do you love me? I felt each of you wonder about the other.

Do you love me? My spirit wonders too. Do I exist in your mind yet? Am I even real?  

My cells are exploding exponentially, even more quickly then your questions that are also multiplying. Both of your heads are spinning. You can’t grasp this whole future thing. Eternity. It’s too much. Being sure of anything, much less the future has always been impossible. Predictability has always been a temporal illusion.

Things happen for a reason. Your grandma used to tell you this. Do you remember?

As I’m forming, and moving beyond dividing cells I’m becoming more fully human, your own world is unraveling.

I’m so sorry mommy. I’m sorry daddy.

Baby at 8 weeks

 November 1st:

I know Daddy said something that hurt your feelings. The moment you slapped his face, I felt my own wrist bend for the first time. I’m floating and suspended. I’m in a dark place.  I know you are in your own dark place too. I want to tell you it will be okay. But I can’t speak yet. I will with all of my spirit for you to hear me. I don’t know if it does.

I taste things a bit now. It’s salty here. Did your tears find their way down here? My little webbed feet are starting to elongate. They won’t look like this much longer.

The days keep passing and I know you are so stressed.   You have such big dreams. You are so close to graduating.   I feel your hurried movements as you go to and fro chasing a future that seems so close, and yet so far away. Everything in your head is jumbled. Your jeans are too tight, your bra is too small, and I still don’t have a name.

Late November:

It’s been twelve weeks since the party. I haven’t heard my Daddy’s voice for a third of my entire life now. I sense all is not well with us mom. What can I do to help? Again, my spirit tries to send you this message, but can you hear me? How can the helpless help anyone anyway?

 I’m curled up in a ball now. My eyes have moved to where they need to be. I don’t look like an alien anymore. My spirit eyes saw how you looked with equal fascination and an odd repulsion at the screen as you Googled baby development one night. Human shrimp. I saw you think that. But you said human in your mind first. I may be shrimp-like because I am small. But if you wait and see, I have the potential to influence presidents, and save hundreds of thousands in third world nations.

But I still don’t have a name Mom. I only have a brain, even though it has unlimited capacity. I have eyes as blue as a sky. I have small hands, but they will knit for hours someday. I have, little pink lips that kiss kittens, and a little girl laugh that I never outgrow. Just like you mom. I am your daughter.

I long to be bundled in a blanket and feel your warm breasts filling with milk as you gaze down at me with the most incredible love you’ve ever known for anyone—anything!

Baby at 12 weeks

December 1st:

 I need you more than I’ve ever needed anyone. Especially at this moment. This hour of decision. This moment in time, a blip in the span of eternity, but the one that changes everything.  

 I know you know the truth. You’ve seen the news. You’ve watched the videos. You’ve tried to tell yourself you don’t feel anything at all. I know you do. You can lie to the whole world, but you can’t fool yourself.

You’ve played this most important moment over and over and over in your head before even one second of it has come to be yet. You’ve lived the nightmare-to-be in your imagination a thousand times:

Fear. Cold steel. Shame. Tools. Tubes. Suction. Tears. Isolation. Parts. Sold. Over. Nightmares. Longing. Regret. Relief. Regret. Relief? Regret. Regret. Regret.  Don’t think about it. Secrecy. Forever.

You’re in limbo. I know. I am too.

Baby at 16 weeks

December – Forever:

We could love each other you know. The future could just be bright.

God already knows the day and time I’m coming home forever.

Heaven.

For He knows my name. Do you?

**All baby in utero pictures above are from the site baby2see.com

Picture 138

CHOOSE LIFE.  IT’S WORTH THE STRUGGLE.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

(Photo: My life at 40.  NOW: the best time to stand up for and choose life!)

The Poker Game of a Lifetime

PHO-10Nov01-264854

I had a thought tonight while pondering mid-life as my family has faced quite the challenges of late:

If life were a poker game, what card would I love to trade?

I can just see it now.  All my 40-50ish (and beyond) aged friends would be sitting around a round table.  Some of us would be drinking mojitos. Others would be drinking Ginger ale on ice.  Some of would be smokers, the others vegans.  Fat ones and skinny ones.  All are welcome here!  Some would be staunch conservatives, and others would be die-hard liberals.  Some of would be married, some widowed, some never married.  Perhaps some would be “questioning” all that.

We’d swap stories of our current status in life, trade success and horror stories of our marriages, our kids, our parents, our careers, our faith, or lack there of (any of the above).  And we’d talk about our health.  The entree to the former appetizers we’d linger on now for a while.

It’d be like a poker game for the post-menopausal mid-life crisis club.  Except that for us it’s not a crisis.  It’s standard fair for this stage of the game.  Mid-life.  Not young anymore.  But young enough to really want to LIVE still.  Tender enough to still cry.  Strong enough to perservere when we’re done.

We’ve seen some tragedies.  Some have lost parents.  Or breasts.  Or ovaries.  Or our homes.  Our marriage.  Our jobs.  Our sanity on occasion…sometimes we simply lose “it”!  In spectacular fashion even (the icing on the cake!)  Because it’s all just so much to keep up with:

Jobs, responsibilities, family members with issues, trials, health, chores, endless ways to communicate, finances, weight, and the ever-present thought:

My TIME is running out.  Not yet God.  Not yet.

So we’ll sit around the table and play a little game of poker, trading stories:

“Oh, I can top that!  I tell you what, I’ll trade you my leaky silicone tatas for your surgically stolen ones thanks to your BRACA results!”

“Ummm, no I think I’ll trade w/Sue over here because she said she’d give me her perky pets if I’d take her husband with the wandering eye and since I don’t need a man, that’s fine with me.”

“Oh yeah,” says Emmy who lost her husband at 47 to a sudden heart.  “No, I’ll give you my somewhat deflated tatas AND I’ll raise you one and give you my nice house that is paid for free and clear from the insurance settlement.  I miss Fred so much, so very very much.”

“Are you kidding?” Jane pops in who at 57 is back to where she was fresh out of college, renting an apartment after her husband became disabled and couldn’t afford to support the family after 30 years of valiant efforts.  A stay-at-home mom all these years, she now finds herself working at Target, grateful, that she is able to help out at all.  She is so tired, but doing the best she can.  “I’d give up my tatas to have a home, and especially to just rest some times.  I’m so tired!”

“Um…I don’t know”  Linda says.  “That might be a bad deal!”  She’s thinking she could trade her paid for home, and may consider consider trading her husband, okay only for a moment.  After all, Phil drinks way too much, has a red hot temper and at least Jane’s man is so loving, so kind to her all the time.

Round and round we’d all go.  Sometimes pining for the good graces we weren’t privileged to receive. Grateful for the trials we were spared.  But at the end of the night, there’d be no winners.  No losers.  We’d simply fold.  Together.    

We’d be the way we were when we first sat down to play this game.  All those years ago.  Before the botox.  Before the bankruptcy.  Before the cancer.  Before the addiction.  Before the coffins and the good-byes that came too soon…parents, spouses…..a child.  That one trumped everything.

And yet we are all still here.  The fortunate ones, anyway.  The blessed ones already left us.  And they are waiting.  Smiling.  Willing us to go on one more day.  Endure one more trial.  Wait patiently on that which you can not possibly know, see, much less understand.  Consider the joy set BEFORE us as we suffer.  And trust.  God has us!  He is for us!  Oh, how we get to practice that, lest we lose our minds totally.

And keep on loving our families, each other and counting so many blessings as we bet our chips on the tales from our lips.   With dignity, grace, and strength, we keep on keeping on at Poker Game of Lifetime!

Deal me in!