Thursday, November 3, 2011

Christmas 2011 - Birth of a New Tradition!

THIS IS A GREAT IDEA! And wouldn’t it be great if everyone would participate?!

As the Christmas holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with humongous piles of cheaply produced goods... merchandise that has been produced at the expense of our very own American or Australian labor.
This year Christmas will be different around here - and I hope it will be different at your house too.

This year, Americans will be giving the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.
There is no longer an excuse that at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Because YES there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people.
Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone ~ and I mean EVERYONE gets their hair cut.
How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
How about massages or manicures?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages - and who isn't thinking about some
health improvement?

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates - and that helps keep our money in our local community.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamin's on a Chinese made flat-screen?
Perhaps that lucky/grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed...or lawn mowed for the summer... or their driveway plowed all winter... or maybe even a few games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants around your area ... most offering gift certificates or vouchers.
And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort of person, what about half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint?

Remember, folks this is NOT about helping your big National chains get richer -- this is about supporting your home town Americans.
Americans with their businesses, jobs and homes on the line... and when it comes right down to it, this simple little idea can help them keep their doors open... and so that they don't go under.

I mean, for Pete's sake.... how many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, one done at a local shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would probably LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW that I can find some young guy who's struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK... so you were looking for something a little more personal?
Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Check out the local craft markets/flea markets or market gardens.

Plan your holiday or family outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip.

And how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?
Do we really need to see "professional" actors, when it's even more fun watching the Bob the local butcher play Romeo... or the little girl down the street dancing to "The Nutcracker"?
And musicians need love too... so find a venue showcasing local bands, and rock the house down!

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house?
Sadly, when you buy a five dollar string of lights, only about fifty cents stays in the community. FIFTY CENTS!!
That's just beyond wrong!

Our parents and grandparents celebrated Christmas just fine without the lights and tawdry decorations and expensive gifts... so let's make this the year we get back to the REAL meaning of Christmas!
If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, at least please leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip in their Christmas card!

You see, Christmas should no longer about draining American pockets, so that China can build another glittering city.
Christmas is now about us caring about each other... and us encouraging our local American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams and keep this country strong!
When we care about other Americans, we care about our own communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't even begin to imagine.
This seriously needs to be the new American Christmas tradition.

So go ahead...Feel free to copy this and forward it to everyone on your mailing list
Post it to discussion groups.
Throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city.
Send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments.

This needs to be a revolution of caring about each other...
And after all, isn't that really what Christmas is about?
So c'mon people...let's start putting our own people first, and let's start thinking outside the square.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Until We Meet Again….

Sara went home to be with her Lord and Savior last Saturday night. Today, her family, her friends, her faithful and constant canine companion, and the world who knew her will officially say goodbye. Sara is gone from our immediate presence but her words and her work will live on and on. I have no doubt she will continue to minister to the chronically ill, those who suffer pain no one can understand, the weak in spirit, the lonely, the forgotten, and even the strong who simply want to share her joy and hope. Her words were prolific and always inspiring and will be a legacy she leaves behind to those of us who remain.

I wish I were able to be in Cedar Falls, Iowa this afternoon to attend her service in person. I can’t be. I feel a certain kindred connection to a town I’ve never been to because my parents were married there and my brother and sister were born there. Everyone moved west shortly thereafter and I am a born-and-bred California girl. But by the generosity of Sara and her family, her service will be shared through ustream. If you would like to attend, it begins shortly.

I would like to share a picture that I borrowed, without permission, from her dear and faithful friend, Shannon. Shannon talked to Sara every day via Skype or texting and, literally, took Sara with her everywhere via these devices. She traveled to meet her and this is a photo of the two of them with Shannon’s kids. It’s how I will always picture sweet Sara: enjoying every moment of joy that there was to be had. She knew how to wring out every last drop. Thank you, Shannon, for all you were to our sweet Sara and for all you’ve done with blogging in her absence and after her passing. I know, with your generosity of heart, you wouldn’t mind me sharing.

Sara and Shannon

Join the service here (click on “Athletes” or “Athletics” and follow the prompts):

SCCS Home Page | Siouxland Community Christian School

© Copyright 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Do You Say Goodbye?

I’m so sorry to all of you who may have stopped by to check on me and wondered if I fell off the face of the earth. Basically, the answer is, “Yes.” I have written the blog post about all of it 100 times in my head and still can’t find a way to write it on the page. I’m still limited in my sitting – in hard chairs and the chair at THIS desk. I have a laptop that is ancient but will allow me to sit sideways on the couch. However, it doesn’t even have Word on it. And I lose a portion of my day each day to recovery and pain management so what’s left over is taken up with schooling my son and feeding people around here, and occasionally hosing out the house.

But today, I MUST MUST MUST write this particular blog. It has been on my mind to do for far longer than my current issues even existed, and there’s no more time to waste. I’m sure you know what I mean (for those of you who blog). Have you thought of things you wanted to share and one little thing or another got in the way and you just put it off? That is this post.

I have a beautiful blogging friend, Sara, who goes by “Gitz” at Gitzen Girl Blog and she has been a source of amazing inspiration, laughs, and get-er-done practicality. She was diagnosed years ago with a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a severe type of arthritis. She has been majorly affected, including her lungs, and has been unable to even venture outside for the last few years. Only in her 30’s, she has lived a house-bound life with her precious little dog, Riley – her near and dear constant companion. Family and friends come to her, even blogging friends have made the trek to see her in Iowa. I always wished I could have met her in person. She inspires greatly and I think it would have been awesome to share person-to-person.

She is a gifted artist. Even though she has been greatly affected, occasionally her body would let her paint and she would make these beautiful paintings with sayings on them. I won one during a contest she had and then I bought one. They hang to my left at this desk. I see them each time I pass by or sit here and I think of her. I have wanted to share them with you for a long time because they are so meaningful to me. The first, this one….


…..I bought because I WANT to be that person. You KNOW I love to laugh and make others laugh. It brings me enormous joy. The reality is, I probably worry about my own happiness more than I do others. Do I really spend each day trying to bring happiness or do my own wants and desires loom larger? Do I “me first!” or “you first?” I can tell you Sara’s all about “you first.” She looks for ways to enrich everyone who crosses her path. Even when she doesn’t have it in her she finds something encouraging to say. Her motto is “Choose Joy!” Pretty hard when your body is wracked with pain, you can only gaze at the world through glass, and there’s no hope of rejoining the world most of us take for granted every day. She definitely CREATES joy.  I also loved this canvas for the colors. All of them right up my alley. And color helps me feel happy. My personal motto is: “Life is too short for beige.”

This canvas I won in her contest and I’ve pondered its meaning dozens of times when I’ve looked at it. It can mean so many different things depending on what I’ve been going through and where I am in my life. Right now, when I think of her, it’s especially poignant. I’m not sure Sara has ever met a stumbling block and every stone in her path she has decided to use as a stepping stone. And she always encouraged us to do the same. Right now, she’s one stepping stone away from the arms of Christ.


You see, Sara is losing her battle with AS. It happened pretty suddenly (my sweet friend Vicky, with her own serious battle – see my last post - sent me a note) and, last week, her body said “No more.” She is young, in her late 30’s, but the body can only withstand so much and hers has been through a war. However, her spirit is healthy and strong and soaring, even as she is confined to her bed, attended by loving family, saying her last goodbyes. She is traveling the path we will all travel at some point and the family says she is resting easy….something she’s been unable to do. She was put on hospice last week and we are helping to pray her through, and to pray her home, on her journey. Barring a complete miracle, we will not have our dear, dear Sara anymore on this earth. I’m crying now just writing that sentence. But Sara will be more alive than ever. Soon she will run outdoors in the most beautiful place in all creation. She will breathe deeply. She will be reunited with her father who she lost suddenly, and very unexpectedly, last year. She will see Jesus. She is breaths away from total joy and freedom.

Sara, I now have to say this to you. I don’t know if you’ll ever hear these words but I’ll say them anyway and tell you how sorry I am I didn’t say them sooner. Do you realize how many lives you’ve touched? How many lives you will continue to affect through your exquisite writing? Pain is often a lonely path. Even those closest to us cannot share it. Many have no one – no one – to understand, to validate, to encourage, to pray for them, to offer hope, to even once make them laugh and feel seen. You did all that. You led by example but even more, you let each one travel their own path, in their own way. And you were there for them. Anyone struggling with the loneliness and isolation of debilitating pain and/or disease could travel to your blog and find a sister-of-the-heart in you. Do you realize you were all some people had? You may have made the difference between life and death for some who were desperate and thought no one understood. You did understand and you pointed them to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. You encouraged them to “choose joy” and to look for anything, even the smallest of things, to be thankful for, while at the same time comprehending the abject battle fatigue that is chronic pain. Through three years of knowing you I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of comments from those so deeply moved by your words. I’ve been among them. You privately emailed how many? Thousands and thousands, I have no doubt. What an immense work you did in this blogging world. What an incomprehensible difference you made.

Go on to your great reward, sweet girl. It’s all waiting for you; joy we can only imagine here on earth. We will feel your loss deeply and profoundly but you deserve all that is yours through Christ. I look forward to seeing you there one day where all the former tears and pain will be wiped away. Dance, sing with your oh-so-lovely voice, and be happy. You chose joy here on this earth, Sara. Now, it’s choosing you. I love you.


Sara and Riley Sara and Riley


©Copyright 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PLEASE VISIT ME! Pretty Please????

I know I've been gone for eons. I have written my returning post a hundred times in my head but it always ended up with you throwing up and that didn't seem like a good way to begin again. Then, there was the chicken aspect - me being chicken to trail out the crazy/horrible/private/weird details of my malady that won't let me sit down in my computer chair long enough to write anything worth reading. But all that can wait. (And the choir sang, Praise the LORD!)

Then something happened. I got a quick note from a blogging friend and it made me miss her and think about her all over again. It wasn't anything wordy or informative; just a line. I had long ago given up trying to visit blogs because all I have to use is an Ipod and, if you have one, you know how desperately slow it loads web pages. By the time I would get in and read, of COURSE I'd want to comment because I'm not known for not having an opinion (something very grammatically incorrect with that sentence but, who cares? It's my blog....gosh, I miss this heady freedom!). And so I would wax humorous, eloquent, loquacious, entertaining, (or more likely serious, feeble, tongue-tied, and boring but let's not nit-pick) and then it would ask me to sign in.

I would…..

……through a very long, involved process. Ten minutes later, I was in and my comments were gone. I'm slow, but it didn't take me long to figure out this was a rapid slide into insanity. I ride too close to the edge as it is. I can't afford that kind of risk. So I bailed. I checked email and Facebook and let that connect me to the world. I have kissed my Ipod even though it is limited. At least it's a window! But it's not blogging. And it's not visiting your blogs. And so, I walked on the wild side and dropped into Vicky's blog, via my Ipod. Something about what she wrote made me go.

And this is what I found out........

My sweet blogging friend has cancer. Not just any cancer, either. She had to be an overachiever. She has stage IV breast cancer. She just found out about two weeks ago. One day, life was cooking along and she was just another hockey mom cheering on her two sons who are in second and fourth grade, doing the things moms/women/wives do. She was also recovering from the loss of her VERY dear father several months back, and, as if that wasn't enough....wham. A lump she found seemed out of the ordinary. She'd had two before and they were benign. This one was different. She followed up. And she found out - quickly. It seems there is also a spot on her liver, and spine. She is headed right into an experimental treatment and she has the attitude of a prize fighter. In fact, her home-girls have showered her with gifts and get-togethers and she has signs and gifts that say, "Fight like a girl!" One of her hockey mom friends has made bracelets out of darling hockey laces and is selling them for $5.00 each - through Vicky's blog - to raise money to help her.


I'm buying mine tonight. It has a clasp and I'll wear it for Vicky and for all my friends and family who have battled this disease. There are more than there should be - seven at last count. If your life, or the life of someone you love, has ever been touched by this disease, would you please visit Vicky's blog and buy one? It is unique and isn't just another plastic bracelet. It's lovely and looks like jewelry.

This is the link:

And you'll love Vicky. She is so real. She wrote to me in my early blogging days and encouraged me about some difficult things as only she could. And she's funny and upbeat and looks for every bright spot God ever created. She's looking to Him for healing, guidance, abundance, and the ability to put one foot in front of the other. You will be encouraged when you’re there. Let's stand together and ALL fight like girls - yes, even you GUYS.....if you can take the punch. :)

Please pray and please consider blogging about this yourself, if breast cancer has impacted your life in some way. Thank you, all my patient and loving friends.

With Love,


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Need a Voice

....and a venue, and a place to vent, and spill, and dish, and discuss, and tell it like it is. I've been in a rat race and so far, the rats are way ahead and all I see are rat tails and droppings. (Insert photo here - well, in your mind anyway.) Boy, I miss all of you and this and the outlet that writing is for me. I know I've also missed a lot in your lives and I'm so sorry. The good news is (well, not for my enemies), the family has not had me put to sleep yet. You have no idea what restraint they've shown.