"Positive energy"

Due to the influx of negatively oriented individuals I've been acquainted with over the years, "being positive" is now second nature to me. (Not to say I'm a bubbly person with no "down" moments; I just see the silver lining, etc.)

But lately I've begun to feel a noticeable energy drain from the positivity. I love that I'm not as pessimistic as I was when I was young. Sometimes, however, I wish I would have come about it honestly. That is, just matured into a well-adjusted adult instead of being forced into rose-colored glasses only to keep my sanity around "woe-is-me" roommates, co-workers, etc.

I now know that people who begin sentences with "I hate it when" or end them with "just my luck!" are undeniably self-centered. Not self-centered in the way of putting themselves above others (in fact, they often berate themselves and are willing to do a LOT for their friends). Self-centered in that what occupies 99% of their thoughts is THEM: "Why didn't he say 'hi' to me?" "Nobody ever remembers my name!" "...so of course my car broke down..." "My hair looks like crap, but thanks for lying" -- you get the idea.

For Christians, the problem runs even deeper than self-centeredness. It goes directly to lack of faith -- lacking faith that God made you the way you are so you have worth, that He wants good things for you and DOES bless you on a fairly consistent basis.

I have melancholy tendencies (just ask my fam). So the positive thing has been a conscious decision for me, almost like a survival tactic. And I love the results. I'm more content, less worrisome and have tapped farther into faith. It's become effortless. But when I'm face-to-face with the negativo types (as described above), I kick into over-drive, bending over backward to keep the glass half-full. And then it becomes not so effortless, which is when I feel the drain.

There's probably no real solution to this. I will keep "fighting the good fight" around those with furrowed brows ... or occasionally give in to the temporary mysery. But the truth of it is being negative zaps way more energy than choosing to be content.

What REALLY bugs me about Halloween

I have NOTHING against people who celebrate Halloween. My best friend did it all the way through childhood and my adorable nephew has gotten into costume each year of his young life. My family never recognized the holiday, primarily for religious reasons.

But there is one thing I truly hate about this time of year, apart from the dark history associated with it: scary movies. I hate that many cable channels, and even some network, insist on previewing the ickiest, most frightful flicks in the two weeks or so leading up to Oct. 31. They range from suspenseful to creepy to horrific. What's worse, when I'm flipping through the channels, I am blindsided with some disgusting image. OR, I stop on a show that looks semi-interesting only to be met with another sudden, distgusting image.

The worst of it, however, is that weird human response one has to see "what's going to happen." This feeling always gets me into trouble and I end up getting way more than I bargained for -- an image in my mind that's difficult to erase.

I know there's scary stuff on year-round. But in the month of October, it's a bombardment. The whole candy and cute costume thing, I get. But the need to scare the pants off people? Never.


Today the media front-paged a 2,000 milestone -- the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq. This number got me thinking...

About 4,500 soldiers died on D-Day alone in 1944.

Nearly 3,000 Americans (civilian, by and large) died on Sept. 11, 2001.
And how many more citizens have been killed on our soil by foriegn terrorists since?

I honor the memory of every solider who's paid the ultimate price. But again I'm drawn to the albeit uncemented conclusion that, at least in terms of the United States of America, this Iraq thing can't be a total disaster.

You know you've made it when...

...you're asked to judge a Dutch oven cook-off. It was a rough job, but someone had to do it :) I've never cooked anything in a Dutch oven, nor to my knowledge had a meal from one. But last night I got to sample more than 20 delectable dishes, from cinnamon rolls to pork crown roast to five-alarm chili.

Aside from being the type of people you'd want to have camping with you (for obvious reasons), the chefs seemed a very personable, down-home crowd you might expect. It's amazing what you can do with cast-iron and hot coals (check out some of these impressive recipes — http://papadutch.home.comcast.net/dutch-oven-recipes.htm).

The people were great, the food was delicious, and I didn't have to make my own dinner.

Forced liberation

My cell phone died last week (moment of silence).

And while most of my energy has been channeled into frustration over how many ways the phone company is trying to fleece me (not to mention any names ... but the site of Catherine Zeta Jones makes me red in the face), the whole situation's kind of had a liberating effect on me.

The voicemail at my number instructs callers to try my husband's cell if they need to get ahold of me. I don't know if I lost some popularity, or if people don't want to bug Superman, but I don't get many calls handed over. It's been kind of nice to have something "beyond my control" preventing me from answering my phone whenever it rings, or calling someone on a whim when I think of something. I can't, and that's OK.

Of course I crave the feeling of security (waiting for hubby to come home late last night without any phone was a little unnerving), but I can be patient ... until the next time I talk to the company again!

It is my unpleasant duty to inform...

Pretty much anyone who's acquainted with me knows I like all kinds of "girly stuff," a la Bath and Body Works. I'm not so into froo-froo dresses and painted nails, but I can't get enough of lotions, creams and things to make my bath time fabulous.

So the other day I wandered into the aforementioned store to see if any of their autumn home fragrance line was on sale. I was met with a barrage of Christmas decorations and products. I literally looked at my watch to check the date: Oct. 17. The saleslady come up to ask if I needed any assistance. You mean besides helping pick my jaw off the floor? I told her "no thanks, I actually came to find some more of your autumn products." "Oh, those were gone weeks ago," she replied.

I couldn't hide my surprise/disgust at the display before me. She tried to reassure me that retail is always two months ahead. Well, that's great ... "The only problem with that is that I, as a consumer, see the beautiful leaves on the ground and wonder what fun seasonal stuff I can find to make my house mimic the season." She didn't seem to have a good answer for this argument, simply repeating her original "two months" comment.

Is this really what we've come to? Kids are out still picking their Halloween costumes and I can't find a friggin' pumpkin candle?

I left the store disgusted and determined not to return ... for at least a week.

The comeback

It's been one week since I last posted, but I had good excuses —— the aftermath of my dog's death, my little sister visiting, my grandparents' 60th anniversary and MY first wedding anniversary. Busy week, But I'm back.

And I have to say it feels good to proclaim, "I've been married for more than a year." And I've got a good man to boot! Our first year of marriage was definitelyy full of peaks and valleys, but we're stronger and it's nice to feel more comfortable every day.

Anyway ... so my random musing today is America's two-faced opinion of success. It always struck me funny that self-proclaimed "hard-core" music fans would abandon one of their favorite bands when it made the big time, labeling the members "sell-outs." Why? Because more people like them now so they're famous? Isn't that what anyone who does a good job at their art wants and, in some cases, deserves? Curious. And Capitalism teaches us to reach for the stars, expand your franchise and make more $$$. But then we the consumers all look at one another saying, "oh, I don't want to support a chain when I buy that DVD ... let's go to Uncle's Jim's Video Shack down the street because it's local."

I realize there are reasons for the opinions listed above. I just find it curious that WE would want to be the ones rocking out in front of thousands of fans or opening up coffee shops in a neighboring state; just don't call US sell-outs or chains when we do.

In memoriam

Yesterday was a sad day for the fam. Our beloved dog of 15 years, Ariel, finally passed.

It was harder than I thought it would be to say goodbye. We had her put down around 6 p.m. because she could no longer stand and wouldn't accept water. Afterward, my mom, my big sis, my brother and I took her out to a friend's farm and buried her. Before we did, we looked at her one last time, curled up and peaceful. I've always thought one of the eeriest and most frustrating parts about death (in man or beast) is that they all look like they're sleeping, like we should be able to rouse them.

But it's OK because it was Ariel's time. She was 150 years old, after all :) And what a great dog she was. You should check out girlfriday's blog (see right link) for a lovely "eulogy" of sorts. I don't think I can say anything better than what she or ihearttexas already did.

Girlfriday is right to assume that in C.S. Lewis' land of Narnia, Ariel certainly would have been a talking beast. She had amazing, knowing eyes that seemed as emotional and expressive as some humans I've encountered. Ariel was smart, friendly and always loyal. Whether spending my "recess" time with her as a homeschooled youngster, or just arriving on breaks from college, Ariel's face was a must-see in our corner of the world.

Losing a dog is nothing like losing a family member or friend, and I won't claim otherwise. But for those who say, "it's just a dog," I have one thought to share: You didn't know Ariel.

Enjoy heaven, our little lioness of God! We miss you already.


Sometimes, when reading the Bible, you're presented with two declarations that don't seem to add up. For instance, when I was younger, I remember hearing about the "imperishable crown" we as Christians were to strive for (1 Cor. 9:25), and about the rewards great saints received. But how can that be when God (not us) being glorified is the aim of essentially everything in the Bible?

Rev. 4:10 talks about the saints/elders casting their crowns before the throne of God. And every time, that's when it hits me: The perfect symbiosis of our life's rewards and God's glory.

Those who live a fruitful Christian life are rewarded according to those things. All believers get into heaven, but there are certain recognitions paid for kindness, compassion, leading others to truth, etc. That's nice. But it doesn't end there.

All of those wonderful things we've done, the sacrifices and extra efforts, become God's glory. We receive the honor and then cast it down before the One to whom its truly due. It's all about Him ... no matter what. And that's just awesome.

Sick leave

Well, I'm home sick today. Yuck. And you know what that means: No capacity for intelligent thought processes so I must resort to what my dad calls "silly stuff."
Can there be any doubt that "Gilmore Girls" is one of the best, if not the best, shows on television right now? It's so smart and so funny. And as my Superman keenly points out to testosterone-charged nay-sayers, "not as girly as you think." Some people don't dig the whole quick-as-lightning wit and think the dialogue moves too quickly, making it unrealistic. Ah, but that's the charm. The Gilmore girls talk the way we all wish we talked: clever, bright and no words wasted. It may not be true to life, but who watches television because it's a dead-on impression of their own world? The cool thing is that no matter how "unrealistic" the repartee is may be, there is, in every show, an authentic moment of humanity and emotion. Now that's good television.

That's just the way it is

It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing, but when U2's music comes unexpectedly drifting through the television set or the speakers in your car, it's awesome. Tonight a commercial came on for the new movie, "In Her Shoes," in which they play "Stuck In a Moment." Though I have never actually heard one (to my knowledge), I've always thought Bono's voice must resemble an angel's.

The season and happiness

This morning I got up for a brisk walk in a cloudy, early-autumn morning. The air smelled so clean and I couldn't help but smile when I saw that a small tree had already begun shedding many of its leaves. Earlier this week, the hubby and I ventured out into a local pumpkin patch with my brother, his wife and my near-perfect nephew. It was so pleasant and so like a scene from a movie :) We road out to the patch on a platform hitched to a tractor, picked a beautiful pumpkin, then came back to the farm to drink hot cider and watch my nephew play.

I don't think my husband has the same appreciation for times like that (actually, I'm fairly sure he doesn't), probably because he can't stop thinking of things he could be or he wants to be doing instead. At the risk of sounding condescending, I used to be more like that. I have a lot of flaws and he has a lot of strengths. There is, however, something I've started to come to terms with in this stage of my life: True joy can only come from God. But there is a kind of happiness (though temporal) that can be achieved simply by letting go and allowing yourself to be content in a given moment. And that's a very nice feeling :)