Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learn, Live, Hope

How many of you were caught up in the “live, laugh, love” craze? Come on, raise your hands, don’t be shy. As with most popular trends I was a bit behind the curve on this one. It’s good advice for sure, simple and direct, and it has that alliteration thing going on. I just didn't get the memo from Kaptain Obvious on that one.

And then there’s the classic from my days in University:  “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” That was Mark Twain. You may have heard of him – he wrote about this kid named Tom Sawyer, and his buddy Huckleberry Finn.

Or the classic lines from Lee Ann Womack’s ballad “I Hope You Dance”:  “Living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking; lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth making”…. We’ve all heard it; most of us have probably belted it out in the car on more than one occasion.

Well, here’s a new one for you:  “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.” My good buddy Albert Einstein coined that one. He went on to say, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” As today draws to a close, and we finish celebrating “Always Live Better Than Yesterday Day,” it would behoove us to take a moment and really ponder what Al was trying to tell us. (By the way – behoove, fun word to say!)

Learn from yesterday. So you made a mistake; you hurt someone, you broke a promise, you forgot to do something important or did something stupid. Maybe you hit bottom. Learn from it and move on. If you drag that stuff into today, you may end up repeating them tomorrow.

Live for today. It’s all we have. We aren’t even promised we’ll have all of it. Take Brad Paisley’s advice and enjoy those little moments. “Well I’ll never forget the first time that I heard/That pretty mouth say that dirty word/And I can’t even remember now/What she backed my truck into/But she covered her mouth, and her face turned red/And she just looked so darn cute/That I couldn’t even act like I was mad/Yah I live for little moments like that”

Hope for tomorrow. I would add to that, pray for tomorrow. Hope is the emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. To hope for tomorrow is more than just wanting to have one; it’s about believing it will be better than today.

And finally, never stop questioning. A wise man can learn more from a stupid question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.

Monday, July 30, 2012

“America Again” (1995) Carman

“George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, First Chief Justice John Jay. Names synonymous with the spirit of our country, founding fathers of the U.S.A. Over 200 years ago they shook off the chains of tyranny from Great Britain by divine call. Citing 27 biblical violations, they wrote the Declaration of Independence, with liberty, and justice, for all. But something happened since Jefferson called the Bible the cornerstone for American liberty, then put it in our schools as a light. Or since ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ Patrick Henry said, ‘Our country was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’ We eliminated God from the equation of American life, thus eliminating the reason this Nation first began. From beyond the grave I hear the voices of our founding fathers plead, you need God in America, again. Of the 55 men who formed the Constitution, 52 were active members of their church. Founding fathers like Noah Webster, who wrote the first dictionary, could literally quote the Bible, chapter and verse.

“James Madison said, 'We've staked our future on our ability to follow the ten command- ments with all our heart.' These men believed you couldn't even call yourself an American if you subvert the Word of God. In his farewell address, Washington said, 'You can't have national morality apart from Religious principal,' and it's true. Cause right now we have nearly a hundred and fifty thousand kids carrying guns to these warzones we call public schools. In the 40s and 50s student problems were chewing gum and talking, in the 90s, rape and murder are the trend. The only way this nation can even hope to last this decade, is put God in America, again!” [Then the chorus, more spoken verses]

On this day in 1956, “In God we trust” became the official motto of the United States. A month later three high school students in Mansfield, Texas attempted to enter Mansfield High School and were met by over 300 angry whites, including the mayor and chief of police, refusing to let them pass.

Carman wrote and released this song in 1995, almost thirty years after we declared to the world as a nation “We trust in God.” What does that even mean? And how are we living it out, in our every day lives, at work or in school? Is it really a motto, or just something we stamp on our currency?

I can only speak for myself on this one. And I have to say that I don’t trust God very often. I love Him and want Him to be part of my life, but I’m selfish and sinful, and I end up doing things my own way. I know He’s always there for me when I need Him, but I really need to start trusting Him right now, in the moments that make up my day, before there’s a crisis I can’t handle. I don’t want to meet Him saying, “I guess I was just going through the motions….I’m sorry.”


I’ll be the first to admit, I was resistant to the whole texting revolution. I got my first cell phone after I moved into an apartment in Clarkston; my first time living on my own, I figured I might need it “just in case”. But no texting on my plan. In fact, it wasn’t until I’d had my second cell phone for almost two years before I broke down and added it. I even made sure I had the kind with a keyboard so it would be easier (I didn’t know about T9 then).

You see, I’ve never really liked talking on the phone, although when a friend calls I end up having a several hour conversation most of the time. I think there are two reasons for this:  I don’t like to make the call (I always feel like I’m interrupting, and I know some of my friends will answer even if they can’t talk); and I find myself unsure of when it’s my turn to talk, or I just don’t think about it and end up literally interrupting (in the middle of them saying something).

It didn’t take long for me to realize that texting is a great compromise. If they can’t talk, they can just ignore the text (for some reason this is easier than ignoring a ringing phone; personally, I have no problem hitting “ignore” when my phone rings!) or they can quickly respond with a text back. Now I make sure I have unlimited text on my plan, no matter how few the minutes may be. And I never come close to going over on talking, because I never really call anyone!

So the next hurdle for me to get over:  text code. That’s what I call it anyway. You know what I mean:  “ttyl” (talk to you later) or “lmao” (laughing my ass off). Or as Weird Al says in his parody song “White and Nerdy”:  “I can make you rotflol” (roll on the floor laughing out loud). It’s become too much to type thank you, so we text “ty,” or “yw” for you’re welcome. At first I flat refused to shorten any of my words – why pay extra for a keyboard if you’re only going to use a third of the letters? Eventually I found myself saying “lol” a lot, but that’s because something was really funny, and I literally “laughed out loud.” But I draw the line there.

Well, today is “Make Someone Laugh Day,” and it got me thinking about the things in life that make me laugh. I’ve been talking to a new friend online a lot this past month, who happens to be very funny, so I’ve been typing “lol” quite often. In fact, I find myself thinking it when I see or hear something funny, and I almost want to say “lol” out loud! (Could this be some kind of weird tropical disease??) This isn’t a bad thing, laughter is great! And when you laugh out loud, it usually gets other people to at least smile, if not laugh themselves (especially when you’re in a public place like Starbucks, which happens to me all the time!).

My list of things that make me laugh isn’t quite as long as my list of happy, and it’s difficult to share some of them here (length is always a concern, and some things you just wouldn’t find as amusing as I do). So I decided to share about my newest obsession (“lol”) and these photographs I found online:


They just look like they’re having so much fun! I can almost hear them giggling and it makes me – literally – laugh out loud. I hope you found something to laugh about today, and were able to share it with someone you love. If these photos don’t do it, try watching White and Nerdy and not laughing! Have fun my friends [smile]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

“So Yesterday” (2003) Hilary Duff

You can change your life – if you wanna
You can change your clothes – if you wanna
If you change your mind
Well, that’s the way it goes

But I’m gonna keep your jeans
And your old black hat – cause I wanna
They look good on me
You’re never gonna get them back

At least not today, not today, not today

If it’s over, let it go and
Come tomorrow it will seem
So yesterday, so yesterday
I’m just a bird that’s already flown away

So begins the first single off Hilary Duff’s second album Metamorphosis. It was officially released on July 29, 2003 to mixed reviews. I’ve listened to it a few times, it’s nothing spectacular. The music video, on the other hand, is pretty fun. She’s sitting on a bench at the beach watching her ex thru binoculars. When he takes off his shirt and puts on a wetsuit to go surfing, she steals it (it’s an orange-ish t-shirt that says “Everything is bigger in Texas”), and throughout the video takes pictures of random people wearing it. Then she mails him the pictures (he looks like around thinking he’ll see who sent them – idiot), and returns the shirt at the end.

I wouldn’t recommend adding the song to any playlists; the music isn’t bad, and it has a good message, but it’s not anything special.

It gave me an idea, though. Well, the video did. (Sometimes the best ideas come to you in the shower, and sometimes they show up in the middle of the rabbit trail. You just gotta go with it, my friends.) A friend of mine had mentioned sending me a t-shirt for Oliver with the logo of her company on it. My idea is this:  if you send me something that either I can wear, or will fit Oliver, I will put it on and take a series of photos, and write a blog post about our adventure. Then I’ll send it back (if you want it) with a mini album for you to keep forever. It has to be appropriate for public photos but otherwise no restrictions. Let me know if you’re interested!

One last thought before we go:  it’s one of those fun little ironies in life that the term “so yesterday” is in fact itself, well, so yesterday….

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Count Your Blessings!

“If you would know the greatest sum in all addition, count your blessings.” That quote was on a poster that hung on the wall in my Algebra II class sophomore year. It wasn’t anything fancy, didn’t have some inspiring photograph or elaborate design. It was just thirteen words.

As far as I know, it was first spoken by one of the most famous people in the history of, well, history – Author Unknown. I don’t think anyone else has received more credit for some our most profound quotes and enduring works of literature. Except maybe Anonymous.

Its origin, however, is unimportant; its message is what we should focus on. It’s a truth so simple in its complexity that we often overlook the wisdom in taking action. Have you ever taken time to sit down and literally count your blessings? Have you ever considered what the word even means to you, personally? Serious moment now:  what is a “blessing”? How do you know which things in your life would be on that list, and which would be left off?

As a practicing logophile (don’t be concerned, it means “lover of words”), I looked up the definition in Webster’s (my favorite dictionary). Turns out it has several meanings:  “a wish or prayer for happiness or success; any cause of happiness; good wishes or approval; a grace said before or after eating.”

That last one makes me laugh. Brings back so many memories from childhood! Oh, the stories I could share….But another time; no rabbit trails. Except, I have to admit, I also looked up the word “blessing” in a search engine, just to see what I got, and among things, you can find Blessing at Half.com! (Laughing out loud!)

Anyway, given the context of this quote, I want to focus on the second definition provided by Mr. Webster, “any cause of happiness”. At first you may be thanking me for making this task of “count your blessings” a little easier; all you have to do is write down any cause of happiness in your life. Yes, that’s all you have to do. Here my friends, is where the complex simplicity of this truth hits you with full force:  are you letting that happiness in?

Having Asperger’s, I have trouble recognizing emotions when I experience them. I show them physically – I blush when I’m embarrassed, my eyes widen and I talk faster when I’m excited – but the part of my brain that kicks on and says “I feel embarrassment” or “I feel excited” doesn’t work properly. That’s where my friends come in; the more I’m made aware of it when it’s happening, the easier it is for me to say, “Oh, ok, so that’s what that feeling means!”

However, I do know when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. (Along the way I’ve also learned to recognize frustrated, mostly because my reflex reaction is to cry in about 2.5 seconds, and on a few occasions I’ve recognized anger.) So I can sit down and make a list of things that make me happy. In fact, I’ve done that several times, it’s quite relaxing and often helps me change my attitude about the day. But. I don’t always let that happiness take root and start to grow.

While you ponder this idea, and perhaps begin to make your “list of happy” (which I highly recommend everyone doing), I want you to consider something else:  today is National Accountant’s Day. I sent a well wish to my Uncle Rob, he’s a CPA in Seattle. It’s probably too late for you to do the same if you happen to know one. So instead, why not share a laugh with me. I found this joke online:  “An accountant was suffering from insomnia so he went to see his doctor. ‘Doctor,’ he began, ‘I am unable to sleep.’ ‘Well,’ the doctor replied, ‘Have you tried counting sheep?’ ‘That’s precisely the problem,’ the accountant admitted. ‘I make a mistake, and it takes me four hours to find the error!’”

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Does your life seem dull? Has all the shiny gone out of your days? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I’m so dull I couldn’t cut through water”? Well my friends, today was your day! (That's correct, I sad was. Because today is over for anyone not living in or West of the Pacific Time Zone.) It’s “Blunt Object Day”! I would have mentioned this sooner so you could celebrate with a rousing game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” – but that would only have added some excitement, and then you’d have no reason to celebrate.

That’s right, I did you a huge favor, no need to thank me. Unless you’re not a follower of my blog yet, and then you can thank me by becoming one. I have an odd number of followers, and I find odd numbers to be very disturbing. And since “Blunt Object Day” is nearly over (which means by the time you read this, it will be a new day, with some other obscure holiday to celebrate), you can start getting the dullness out of your life by reading my daily posts.

Wow. I just helped you out twice. Don’t look now, but I think I’m on a roll! And you know what they say about rolling rocks right? They gather no moss! So if you join me in this, not only will you be sufficiently celebrating “Blunt Object Day” by being one yourself, you’ll change that immediately by subscribing to my future blog posts, AND best of all, you won’t get mossy! This is a very special moment for you my friend! Let’s go celebrate! We can have sparkling cider and dinner rolls!!

I Speak to Me

This afternoon I decided to take a nap. I haven’t been taking many lately, which is a positive change, I have more energy and focus. But I’ve been feeling nauseous and tired for two days, so I opted for a nap. I woke up feeling even worse, with a headache on top of everything.

I took some Excedrin Migraine, put an ice pack on my neck (a cloth one filled with rice that Crystal made for me!), and settled in to get some work done. I waited about an hour to put my contacts back in, wearing my glasses for a while instead. I drank some water. When I started to feel overheated I turned on the fan.

Later in the evening I made dinner. I actually took some time to cook – ground turkey squished into a patty, baked red potato, steamed carrots with honey – and it was relaxing and tasted good. While I was sitting here eating my food and drinking my iced tea, I realized something, and I want to share it with you.

All of these things, on their own, are not significant steps. And all of these things, for most people, are just part of life every day, when you don’t feel well you take steps to feel better. But for me, today, it was more than that. What it was – it was me listening to myself. Listening to my body, and what it needs.

I’ve been extra emotional for the past few days, crying over almost every episode of The Practice (I’ve been watching it on Netflix) – and I don’t even like the show! Crying just at the thought of having to go back to the same school next year, knowing that not enough has changed to make it better, already starting to feel the weight of the stress crushing me. And crying because one of my best friends is pregnant, and doing so well, and I’m so proud of her!

During all of that emotion, all of that crying and feeling and not knowing what I was feeling, I was listening to my body. I know what’s causing it (my evil ovaries) and I’m doing what I need to so I’ll feel better – napping, drinking water, eating dinner, sitting by the fan, taking meds.

Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t just neglected myself for the past thirty plus years. But. What I realized, and what I want you to know, is that I’ve never been able to listen before. I’ve never had the clarity to recognize that what I was doing was listening to my body. This is a big step for me. Two steps forward again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll 1865

“‘Be what you would seem to be,’ – or if you’d like it put more simply, ‘Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.’”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, spoken by the Duchess, as the moral to Alice saying mustard is a vegetable, even though it doesn’t look like one. It doesn’t really summarize any great point from the story or have any special meaning; it’s just one of many random moments that made me laugh.

With this being a children’s story from the 19th century, we naturally expect there to be a moral. In fact, the Duchess also said, “Every thing’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” In the middle of the very first chapter, it appears that Carroll presents us with one when Alice finds a bottle with a label around it’s neck saying “DRINK ME”.

“It was all very well to say, ‘Drink me,’ but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. ‘No, I’ll look first,’ she said, ‘and see whether it’s marked “poison” or not’; for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them, such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long, and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’, it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”

As you can see, if you read closely, Carroll is using irony and understatement to mock the stories with lessons for children. Especially that last line (makes me laugh out loud). The irony continues when Alice goes ahead and drinks it after not finding it marked “poison,” and she shrinks!

By the end of the story it’s clear that Alice was in fact the most sane and sensible character in all of Wonderland, and it was the adults who were out of their minds. And then she wakes up, to find that it was all a dream. She shares the dream with her sister, who sends her off for tea, and then takes a moment to imagine Alice as a grown woman, still holding onto her childhood innocence and sharing the stories of Wonderland with her own children and grandchildren.

Perhaps the moral of the story is, that life doesn’t always need a moral, and we should hold onto the magic of childhood as long as possible….

This story was written down after being told to three sisters as a way to pass time on a boat ride. It’s part of the “literary nonsense” genre – that says it all right there. Playing with logic and subverting expectations are fun in small doses, but reading this story, you really do feel as though you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Brain Twister

Are you ready for this? The fourth and final of today’s special holidays? Yes, it’s a little late to celebrate, but I had a lot of homework to do, and this last one is kind of a strange one, so the odds of you actually celebrating are pretty slim. Today is also “Day Out of Time Day.”

See? Weird. But I can explain. Someone told me recently that I’m good at explaining things. So there’s this thing called the 13 Moon Calendar. It’s not set up the same as the typical Gregorian calendar that we all use. And here’s the cool part:  on their calendar, today isn’t a day. The year ends on July 24th and the next begins on July 26th. I can't explain that part. I have no idea why. Something about the mathematics of the original Mayan calendar and dreams.

It’s supposed to be a day to celebrate time as art, and to embrace peace in the world. I’m not sure that’s what I would want to do if I had a whole day every year that didn’t count against me. Although to be honest, I can’t say for sure what I would do. I already have too much free time. What would you do?

Thread the Needle

Another holiday for today is a double entendre:  it’s “Thread the Needle Day.” My first thought was sewing, which is something I enjoy and don’t do often enough. Turns out it also means to walk a delicate line between two things, or more precisely, to find a path thru opposing views.

Now, if I was in more of a literally creative mood (or more honestly if my craft area was set up) I would come up with some awesome project that tied the two ideas together. But alas, it’s not, and I’m already behind on a few other projects. So I’m going to leave you with this image.

a memory

Let’s take a walk down this path together, remember a memory of something fine and strong….and if you feel so compelled, share.

Kiss the Cook

Living alone, I cook for myself most of the time, which means if I don’t really feel like eating I probably won’t. But. I love cooking. It’s interesting and relaxing, and no matter how tired or restless or just bleh I feel, eating a meal that I’ve taken time to prepare always makes me feel a little better.

So today, in honor of “Culinarians Day,” (and my younger brother Noah, who is a cook on Navy subs), I’m going to share with you a link I found to the Top Ten Most Difficult Recipes to Make. If you happen to try any of them, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know how it turned out!

Also, I would like to share with you a poem about cooking something other than food, “A Recipe for Friendship.”

A Recipe For Friendship

Take a cup of understanding,
Add a smile that’s warm and true;
Then some sunshine, tears of course
(A dab of these will do.)

Mix in some specially happy times
And secrets shared together,
Then strengthen with real loyalty
Thru fair and stormy weather.

Blend in deeds of thoughtfulness,
A way of being nice;
Warm with generosity
And top with good advice.

Serve with cool remembrance
Of joys that know no end,
And you’ll taste the sweetness others find
Who have you for a friend!

Round and Round We Go

Some of my favorite memories from childhood involve the Looff Carousel in Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Each of its 58 pieces were hand-carved by Charles I.D. Looff, including 54 horses, 1giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 chariots. He gave it to his daughter and son-in-law, Emma and Louis Vogel, who owned Natatorium Park in Spokane. The park closed in 1968, and the carousel was moved to Riverfront Park in 1975. I was born in 1980, and have been enjoying it most of my life.

looff carousel 2    looff carousel 1

I’m sure I have photos somewhere of me riding the horses around and around; I found these online. The one on the left is a shot of the outside of the building from the other side of the Spokane River. On the right is the inside, probably while it’s moving. While it turns an old circus song is playing. It still has its original 1900 Ruth & Sohn Organ that Looff had sent over from Germany, but the rollers are deteriorated so much that a digitized recording is what we hear now.

Probably one of the best things about the ride is finding a seat on the outside row so you can grab a ring and toss it into the clown’s mouth. For those of you who haven't been there, they have a brass “arm” that extends out with plastic rings in it, and as you go by you’re supposed to grab one, then halfway around toss it into the mouth of a giant clown head. I always kept my rings, for two reasons:  I liked them (we put them through our shoe laces), and clowns are disturbing.

It would be negligent of me not to mention playground merry-go-rounds, since today is Merry-Go-Round Day after all. These are wooden or metal wheels, some with bars to hold onto, others with seats, that children climb on and spin around in playgrounds. I have to be honest – I get motion sick.

Ministry Team on go-round

Here’s a good example of one. This is one of my favorite shots of the Ministry Team from Camp Pinewood, summer 1996. This is most of us; Matt, Pastor Andrew, and Theresa were elsewhere. Not only is this a great view of a merry-go-round, but I think this would be an awesome album cover, yah?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Am A Writer

We’ve all had those moments, when you’re reading a book or watching a movie, and it hits you – “it,” an emotional response, you laugh out loud or you start crying and can’t stop. Because it spoke to you on some deep level. We always carry that place with us; but it takes something special to remind us it’s there.

I want that. I want people to have those moments when they read my story. I want them to laugh at the craziness of Jordan. I want them to jump up and down and do a happy dance when the two (I won’t say which two) finally kiss. When someone dies I want them to cry. I want to reach that place in my readers.

And when they walk away from it, when they close the book for the last time and the story is over, I want them to feel a sense of satisfaction, completion, hope. I want them to know that they were part of something bigger than themselves, something that changed them, even just a little bit.

You see, I don’t write about aliens or monsters, I don’t write about worlds that will never exist. I don’t know how. All I know is what I see around me, this reality that I live every day. And that’s what I write about. I take pieces of myself and mix them with pieces of who I want to be.

I don’t write because I have a story to tell. I write because I feel like I’m suffocating when I don’t. I write because God gave me a special gift and not using it would be a great dishonor to all that He is to me. I write because I have to. I don’t know if I’m any good. I don’t know if anyone will ever read my book. But I’m writing it.

Paradise Cubed

In September 1976, Stevie Wonder released his eighteenth album titled Songs in the Key of Life. It included seventeen songs, running for almost 90 minutes, among them being one of my favorites “Isn’t She Lovely”. Another one of the songs he recorded was called “Pastime Paradise,” and it talked about those who waste their lives in the past. At the end he calls for us to “start living our lives, living for the future paradise,” one of hope and equality.

Thirty years later, artist Coolio released a song called “Gangsta’s Paradise,” in which he reworked the music a little, and sang about life in the gang world. In the bridge to the chorus he says “Tell me why are we, so blind to see/That the ones we hurt, are you and me”. This song was featured in a 1995 film starring Michelle Pfeiffer called Dangerous Minds. She also makes an appearance in the music video, along with clips from the movie.

The following year, parody artist “Weird” Al Yankovic did his own rendition of the song called “Amish Paradise.” In the same manner that Coolio laments his gangster way of life, Weird Al celebrates being “plain and simple guys/Living in an Amish paradise.” I can’t speak for Stevie Wonder or Coolio, but it seems to me that having Weird Al make a parody of one of my songs would be a great honor. He may be whacked, but the man’s a lyrical genius!

*If you want to check out the videos on Youtube here are some links:
”Pastime Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H3Sv2zad6s
”Gangsta’s Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFK6H_CcuX8
”Amish Paradise” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOfZLb33uCg

A Legend Is Born

If people lived forever, Amelia Earhart would be celebrating her 115th birthday today. As it turns out, she will be forever 39. Her life was filled with adventure and accomplishment, and her death is surrounded by mystery and speculation; this is the stuff legends are made of my friends.

Rabbit trail:  this reminds me of “The Hero’s Journey,” a cycle developed by Joseph Campbell that he says explains a pattern found in heroes of mythology. (He called it monomyth.) The hero starts out in the “ordinary world,” receiving a call to adventure in the supernatural world. Here he continues alone, or is met by a “supernatural aid” of some kind, who assists him with a “severe challenge”. If he survives he receives a special gift, and must choose whether to return to the “ordinary,” where this gift may be used to improve the world. Campbell actually identified 17 steps, though not every myth contains all of them. [End rabbit trail.]

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator and author who pioneered many firsts for women in the world of aviation. She received awards from several countries for solo flights across the Atlantic and the continental United States, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. She is believed to have died, along with co-pilot Fred Noonan, when her plane disappeared about 1,700 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu on July 2, 1937, on the final leg of a circumnavigational trip around the Earth.

The uncertainty surrounding her death always seems to overshadow the  great things she accomplished with her life. She was a daughter, sister, wife, and step-mother of two. She was a nurse in Toronto during World War I and the first President-elect of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female pilots. She was instrumental in the separation of men’s and women’s aviation records, and flew in several races in the U.S. (She took third place in her first race because she stopped to help a friend.)

Interesting fact:  Amelia Earhart married George P. Putnam after he divorced Dorothy Binney, whose father’s company Binney & Smith invented Crayola crayons. No kidding! (Just for the record, I had no idea this connection existed when I decided to write about crayons OR Amelia Earhart)

One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Rich Mullins, once said that “If my life is motivated by an ambition to leave a legacy, what I would probably leave is a legacy of ambition. But, if my life is motivated by the power of God’s Spirit in me and the awareness of the indwelling Christ, if I allow His presence to guide my motives, that’s the only time I think we really leave a great legacy.” And he did. Amelia Earhart left a legacy of courage and strength. What will yours be?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Built Ford Tough

So I’m reading a book called “American Road,” by Pete Davies. It’s about a trans-continental road trip taken in 1919. Paved roads were a luxury back then, one of the reasons for the trip. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m done. Today I want to talk about one of the car companies.

Ford. Founded in 1903 by Henry Ford, its first car was sold on this day that same year, for a base price of $750. It was named simply the Ford Model A.


It came as a two seat runabout, or a four seat tonneau (that’s a hard or soft cover) with the option for a few other accessories. They were all painted red at the factory; some were repainted after. It was advertised to be “the most reliable car in the world,” although it had many troubles common to cars of that era, such as overheating and slipping transmission bands. Finally, despite the fact that its direct competitor was only $600, it turned a profit, Mr. Ford’s first successful business.

“To be, or not to be….”

This is one of the most famous (and probably misused) quotes from all of Shakespeare’s plays. Do you know who said it? Hamlet, the protagonist and namesake of the story. Most of you probably got that one. But. Do you know what he meant, or why he said it? You may not use it again once you do.

Here’s why I think it’s oft misquoted:  he was contemplating suicide. He had returned home after the death of his father (the King) to find that his Uncle had married his mother and taken the throne. Then his father’s ghost appears to him and says he was murdered by Uncle Claudius.

The culture of his time dictated that he should avenge his father’s death. However, his Christian beliefs clearly stated that murder was wrong, no matter what the reason. So he considered ending his life. “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” It’s the beginning of a soliloquy, or monologue, as he goes for a walk. He ponders which would be the better choice – to live and avenge his father’s murder by committing one of his own, or take his own life and face whatever lays beyond.

This is just one of the many opposites in the play, something I find interesting. Hamlet and the King are another great example:  Claudius is the Machiavellian villain, he justifies his actions by glorifying the ends they will achieve. Since he knows he’s doomed to Hell, he therefore lives as selfishly as possible to retain all that he has gained in life. Hamlet on the other hand, is paralyzed by fear at just the thought of murder, no matter what the ends may achieve.

It’s been said by many that Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays, in fact has been called “the perfect play.” It was poetic, full of pensive musings about life and death, eternity, relationships, hypocrisy, truth, God, family – it’s all in there. And for the audiences of that time, it had the bloody battles that they craved and cheered.

The duality of Hamlet’s life reminds me of a typical teenager:  he has moments when he’s sensitive, poetic, loving, and yet he’s a criminal who stabs a friend in the back, is cruel to his girlfriend, and shows no regret for deliberately killing her father, an “unseen good old man.”

This play is one of my favorites. The one performance I went to was put on by a Shakespeare Company from Ashland, OR, and included “Hamlet in 10 Minutes,” and a version of the play backwards, among others. I’m writing about it today because it was on this day in 1995 that “Hamlet” closed at the Belasco Theater in New York City after 121 shows, and I wanted to share my thoughts on what makes it interesting. Also, did you know that most of you have seen a version of this play several times without even realizing it? Disney’s “The Lion King” is a modern-day story of Hamlet. Next time you watch it, think about this post, and then come back and share your thoughts.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All Dressed In White

There is a tradition practiced in the Unification Church known as the Blessing Ceremony. On July 22, 1982, it’s founder Sun Myung Moon performed this ceremony in Madison Square Garden, New York City. It’s a rededication ceremony given to married and engaged couples, not a legal marriage.

They believe that “through this ceremony the couple is removed from the lineage of sinful humanity and engrafted into God’s sinless lineage. As a result, the couple’s marital relationship – and any children born after the Blessing – exist free from the consequences of original sin.” I don’t agree with these beliefs. I believe that we are born sinful, and the price to pay for that is death. I also believe that Jesus paid that price for us and by accepting Him as my substitute I am forgiven.

Now. The reason I’m sharing this as my “today in history” event is because I want to share something with all of you. A few weeks ago something happened that I honestly believed never would:  I decided that I might actually want to wear a dress at my wedding – not just a simple sundress, an actual wedding dress.

I know! I was shocked, too! I have no idea what happened to cause this. I was thrift store shopping with my friend Crystal and her cousin Kara, and there were some dresses hanging in the window….and I don’t know. I just all of a sudden wanted to look at them, and touch them, and could almost picture myself wearing one.

I kept this to myself at first, because I have no idea how or why it happened, or if it’s a permanent change of mind. But then last night I got a phone call from someone very special to me, and we were talking about wedding dresses (she said hers looks like the one Taylor Swift wears in the “Love Story” video). So I told her about my new realization. And now that she knows, I felt it was ok to share with the rest of you. So there it is. I might wear a wedding dress at my wedding.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tai!

Instead of researching a world event for my “today in history” post, I’d like to dedicate this one to my friend Tai. Today is her birthday (I won’t say which one, it’s rude to ask that of a lady), and I wrote a birthday poem a while back that I would like to share. (Just a quick note:  It has a very specific form, called sestina [with a slight variation at the end], so it’s a little odd; you may need to read it a few times before you can really appreciate it, and even then may think I’m nuts!)

Today Is Your Birthday
for Tai

Today is a celebration of time,
A collection of moments to reflect on the knowledge
That has rained over your life in love,
In loss, in goals attained, in unreachable plans
To alter your place in eternity,
A day that will leave you wanting to be

That long past girl you never knew you were,
Who could look at her life and fall in love
With the great expanse of unwritten dreams,
Who wasn’t afraid to step out on the sands of eternity,
To leave a legacy of life strung together by days,
Hours, minutes, moments. Today, the unknown

Calls to your sojourner’s heart, covering schedules
And options with a blackness as thick as forever
And as promising as that very first moment
When you learned to celebrate wisdom
As something more precious than wanting to be better,
And more fragile than first love.

Tomorrow brings with it the threat of never ending
And the possibility of never beginning, while today
Is filled with the luxury of being anything we want it to be.
A typical story of sacrifice and devotion,
An ironic tale of perpetual misunderstanding,
Or even a testament to Divine designs,

An intricate web entangling your love
Of childhood games and grown-up desires.
Tomorrow’s the day you will finally grasp
The mysteries of lost time
And the freedoms of changed plans -
But tomorrow is swallowed in always and never,

When everything you think you know
Becomes something that you wanted to do,
And the road to forever
Is blocked off by waiting and wishing
For change to bring you acceptance
And time to grant you one more day.

So forget tomorrow, and it’s longing to be
Your link to all things eternal;
Throw away your carefully laid plans,
Look to right now for love,
And you’ll finally come to understand
This great significance:  today is your birthday.

Not Such A Small World After All

Anais Nin once said that, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Seems like a lot of pressure to put on a new friendship, creating a whole new world within a world; but what a magnificent blessing those worlds become!

I don't know much about Anais Nin, other than she was a French-Cuban writer who published her journals spanning more than sixty years of her life. (If I were to publish my journals, anyone who read them would get so lost on the rabbit trails they’d never make it back!) However, I do know that she was right about this one thing at least – that each friend represents a world in us. I am blessed with many worlds myself. So let’s explore this concept together, shall we?

Think about it this way:  how many of you have your “work friends” and then your “church friends”? Or if you don’t have a job yet, your “school friends”? Don't go to church, then perhaps your "weekend friends." You have old friends and new friends, friends from college, and friends that come in pairs (you and your spouse are friends with him/her and spouse). Some worlds never cross, other times worlds collide. Once in a while one explodes. Some people have so many they command their own solar system.

It's a complex system we create for ourselves. Add to that the varying degrees of friendship:  acquaintance, friend, close friend, best friend….“just” friend. Wouldn’t you agree that something as unique as a snowflake and as complicated as a junior high romance definitely qualifies as having its own “world”?

This idea is nothing new. From the first, God designed us to be social: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” Genesis 2:18. And so the first world within a world was created. English poet John Donne said that “No man is an island,” referring to the absolute truth that humans are not created for isolation. Now we have social media sites and text messaging to keep us in touch with those worlds in a matter of seconds.

As I began to reflect on the worlds that make up my own (in preparation for writing a special “happy birthday blog” for a friend), I couldn’t help but see the concept of “world” in a new way. In fact, several of my favorite quotes are now even more profound. For instance, Winston Churchill noted that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” [italics mine]. Or the Dalai Lama saying, “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” This is true not only of the world within us, but all the worlds born from our meeting new friends.

So I will leave you with one of my favorites, a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

What If Your Blessings Come Thru Raindrops?

“When a shower brings a rainbow, we hardly remember getting wet.”

rain storm 5

When you allow the rain to become the backdrop rather than the storm, you step into your own world for a little while. The smell of earth relaxes your muscles. You get to hear the secrets of the sky whispered to the leaves....and the flowers....and the grass. Lines are blurred and everything becomes the same soothing shade of gray.


Just don’t forget to take a minute to focus on the drops; zoom in and capture them as individual thoughts, letting them run together and roll to the ground.

*if you want to listen to rain and some classical music, check out www.rainymood.com

First Martian was a Viking

mars landing

Following this theme of space travel, we now jump ahead seven years to 1976, where we find the Viking I probe has just landed on the surface of Mars after a ten month cruise. It took about three hours for the Lander to touch down after separating from the Orbiter portion and flying through Mars' thin atmosphere. This photo is the first of its transmissions back to Earth (sent 25 seconds after landing and taking approximately 4 minutes to reach us), which continued for another 6 years, 116 days before being terminated. The overall mission for Viking I began with its launch on August 20, 1975 and ended on November 13, 1982.

The original plan was to have the Viking I land on July 4, 1976, America’s 200th birthday (great present, right?), but imaging of the primary landing site showed it to be too rocky, and it took another sixteen days to find a safer location. This was the United States first attempt at landing on Mars.

mars sunset

The amazing shot above is a martian sunset over Chryse Planitia (Golden Plain in Greek). Chryse Planitia is a circular plain in the northern equatorial region of Mars, thought to be an ancient impact basin. There is evidence of water erosion in the past, as this is the bottom end for many outflow channels. This basin is one of the lowest regions on Mars (2-3 km or 6,562-9,843 ft below mean surface elevation). In fact, the Viking program (consisting of this and one other probe) provided strong evidence for a great deal of running water on the surface of the planet after discovering several ancient river valleys.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, an average of 225 million km from Earth. I say average because the orbital path of Mars around the Sun is elliptical rather than circular; this means that the Sun isn’t at the center of the orbital path, it’s at one end. An easy way to understand this is to draw an egg shape on a piece of paper. This represents the path Mars travels around the Sun. Now put a dot at one end of the egg; that’s the Sun. So there are times when Mars is close to the Sun, and times when it’s far away, just like Earth. In theory, Mars is closest to Earth when it’s closest to the Sun, and Earth is at its farthest point from the Sun.

Ok, that’s enough of the complex scientific stuff. Here are some more Mars facts that you may find interesting. A year is how we measure the number of days it takes to orbit the Sun once right? Well for Mars it takes 687 Earth days, not quite twice as long. To put this in perspective, here’s a bit of math for you:  including today, I am 11,534 days old (about 31.6 years). If I were living on Mars, I would only be about 16.8 years old. (To find your own approx. Mars age, multiply your age in years, plus months since your last birthday, by 365, then divide by 687. Or, send me a message with your date of birth and I’ll figure it out for you.)

Also, Mars is about half the diameter of Earth, with a surface area slightly less than the total of Earth’s dry land. It has a terrestrial surface like ours, with a thin atmosphere, and surface features similar to the Moon and Earth’s polar ice caps. Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, and the Sun are the only “heavenly bodies” brighter than Mars, which can be seen with the naked eye. Finally, Mars has two small moons, named Phobos and Deimos, which are irregularly shaped.

One Small Step for Man….

apollo 11

On July 20, 1969 at 8:18 pm Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the surface of the Moon. The “space race” officially ended and America was declared the winner. More importantly, a new age of exploration and discovery took a giant step forward.

This patch was the official insignia for the mission, designed by the third member of the Apollo 11 Crew, Michael Collins. (He remained in the shuttle while the others took the Lunar Module to the surface.) He chose an eagle to represent America (our National Bird), and to represent peace put an olive branch in its beak; it was moved to the talons after government officials decided they looked too “warlike” empty. The surface of the Moon is in the foreground, with the Earth in the distance, and the name of the mission across the top. The astronauts chose to leave their own names off so it would represent “everyone” who played a part in making this accomplishment possible.

In the early hours of July 21, Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon, where he spoke his now famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin soon joined him, describing the view as “Magnificent devastation.”

I’ve been fascinated by space for as long as I can remember. When I was in fifth grade I wrote a letter to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, telling them of my interest, and they sent me an envelope full of photos taken of various planets, with information about each on the back. These were full-color, 8x10 photos; I wish I could say I still had them, but they were lost at some point, probably during one of my moves after high school. But trust me, they were amazing!

Now I want you to take a minute and close your eyes (after you finish reading this part, of course, or you won’t know what you’re supposed to be picturing); if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it difficult to imagine how beyond words awe inspiring it would be to stand on the Moon and see Earth hanging in the background. Wow. Just thinking about it inspires me to write a poem or something. In fact, I think I will, and I’ll call it “Magnificent Devastation.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Love My Tongue!

Today is “Stick Out Your Tongue Day”! I would like to celebrate this fun occasion by sharing some of my favorite photos of my tongue.

Mellena's tongue  christmas close-up

On the left is a photo I shared in the post “Two Is Better Than One”. It was taken in the summer of 2006 at Camp Pinewood in McCall, Idaho. I was part of the Children’s Ministry Team for a week. On the right is a “roommate” photo we tried to take at Lake Waha outside Lewiston, Idaho on Christmas Day. I forgot to zoom back out before taking the picture, so this is what we got. Of course, after I realized what happened, I took one that has all three of us in it.

Spoon and Swings  july 11 3

This next photo was taken while I was in University, and it’s a variation on the theme. I had a spoon “representing” my tongue. Mixing it up, you know? Gotta keep it real. And finally, a classic:  sunglasses on my head, tongue hanging out. This was last summer in my apartment. Look how I chubby I still was!

On a more serious note:  respect your tongue, my friend. Don’t pierce it (Anne), or eat really spicy foods. Brush it on occasion. It can do a great many things for you!

Will the REAL Mellena Mae Please Stand Up?

I’ve really enjoyed writing posts every day. I’ve learned a lot of interesting things, practiced my craft regularly, and opened doors to several great conversations with my friends and family. Today I wanted to write about one of my favorite topics – my tongue. But first, I have something I need to process.

I’m the kind of person who processes things by talking about them. This can be done in several ways – phone calls, texting, chatting on Facebook or some other instant messaging program, and of course face to face. However, those all involve other people, and I often find myself alone. So I write.

I want you to know who I am, and I want to be accepted for it – the good, the bad, and the in-between. I am a child of God, a daughter of the King of Kings – that makes me a Princess, right? I am a writer, a teacher, a sister, and a friend. I am an artist. I am a genius. And I am autistic.

Those are the good things. But I am also a liar, a cheater, a manipulator. I’m lazy. I’m scared. I hurt people’s feelings. I don’t always follow thru on my commitments. I don’t always try my hardest. I don’t live up to my potential. I push people away. I’m not perfect. And I am alone.

I know that if we’re honest with ourselves, we can all make lists like these. We all have attributes and attitudes we don’t particularly like about ourselves, things we’d like to change. Some of these things are choices; other things we’re born into, and we have to choose to accept them, learn how to integrate them into our lives.

For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been learning to do this myself, to identify which parts of me are choices that I can change, and which I need to accept and learn to live with. Yesterday I saw, for the first time since leaving that cave, how hurtful one of my choices could be, so I changed it; I chose instead to walk the other way.

At the time, I thought it would be enough. But I was wrong. It was a great step in the right direction, one I neither regret nor intend to abandon. I will continue moving forward in this new direction, and it will make me stronger. God will make me stronger. However, the damage was done; I hurt someone, and I can’t take it back.

There are two things I’ve learned from the loss of this new friendship, and I want to share them with you. First, I learned that lies are like a disease; once you infect someone, breaking their trust, you hurt them deeply and it takes time and patience for that wound to heal. Even when it does, you may not be allowed back in.

Second, I learned that I’ve let loneliness create a giant hole in my heart, and I’ve been trying to fill it with the wrong things. I want so badly to feel a connection to other people that I’ve focused my time, thoughts, and energy on friendships. Meanwhile, God is standing next to me saying, “What about Me?”

I’m not saying I should give up on my friends, ignore everyone I know, and become a hermit. I’m saying I need to find my strength and peace in my relationship with God, let His supernatural presence and love fill that hole. Only then will the friends He brings into my life be a blessing.

So when I feel overwhelmed with loneliness and it fills me with anger, instead of turning to Facebook or my phone to ease that pain….I want to go to God.

A Friendship As Old As A T-Shirt (and just as comfy!)

July 19, 1992
                       July 19, 2012

Yes. This is me. On the left, I had just bought my first camp shirt, on Sunday, July 19, 1992. That’s right my friends, exactly twenty years ago. And I can still wear it! In fact, I’m wearing it today! The photo on the right was taken this morning, on Thursday, July 19, 2012. LOL

While it wouldn’t be at all unusual or uninteresting for me to write an entire blog post devoted to this one t-shirt….that’s not what this is about. That’s just a bonus! (Although I will say that at first it was like a dress on me; for a few years it was a tad small and I didn’t wear it in public; and now it fits great, just a little baggy)

Today I would like to tell you about a special friendship of mine; it’s as old as this t-shirt, and getting stronger all the time. I make up one half of it, and Crystal makes up the other! I met her the same day I bought that shirt; in fact, I was probably wearing it. I wore it a lot that week….with that stupid Odyssey of the Mind hat!

Anyway, back to Crystal. As you might imagine, a LOT has changed in both of our lives since that day. We both graduated from high school, have had dozens of jobs between us, lived in different places (I moved a total of 18 times just in the past 13 years!), and had many friends come and go.

If you read the post “My Wellness Journey,” then you know I was stuck in a deep well when we met. Crystal saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself, and she spent a great deal of time and energy over the next two decades trying to help me see it, too. Last year, when I finally told her I had Asperger’s, she read about it online to help her understand me better. We’ve also had several conversations about my little quirks and how to adjust to them [smile].

I’m still not an easy person to be around, especially when I stay the night. I can only handle so much time away from my routine and familiar surroundings, and being alone most of the time makes it difficult to be around people for more than a few hours. Yet she has brought to our friendship a great deal of patience and understanding. As individuals, we have become stronger, more confident versions of ourselves….and as friends, we have become sisters.

beast 3

This is her with Wyatt a few years ago, who has since passed on (I affectionately called him Beast because he was HUGE). That was his Halloween costume. She is among my favorite blessings, a gift from God, and I look forward to the next twenty years of being her friend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear My Love

Hello again my friends. I would like you to meet someone. This is the newest member of my family. His name is MyLo.


MyLo is a new friend of mine. No, I haven’t replaced Oliver or Donovan; just added to them. That journal he’s holding is one I started writing in on July 1, 2007. And it was the inspiration for this cute bear, and for his name. You see, the journal contains letters to My Love. (Are you following? MyLo?)

I don’t know who or where he is right now, but I know he’s out there somewhere. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that God will bring him to me. For the past couple of years I’ve been hiding behind something that isn’t real because I thought it would help me feel better, but it’s only made me lonelier. So I bought MyLo. He sits on my bed with his brothers and when I need a tangible reminder that I won’t always be alone, I go talk to him, or give him a squeeze. Isn’t he sweet?

Color Me crEAtivE

My love affair with crayons has been going strong since I was very young. I once gave a “message” at church (women didn’t give “sermons”) about my summer camp ministry, and mentioned this obsession. The next week, a nice lady gave me a BRAND NEW box of 120 Crayola’s!

Of course, the first thing I do when I get them home is open the box, and dump out all of the crayons. I have to rearrange them before I can put them back in. I start at the top left, as if I were reading a book, with the pinks. Those flow into reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, browns, and I end with black, white, and metallics. Some boxes have special crayons, and I group them together in their own section, same color order, at the bottom right.

This particular box of 120 had sixteen neon colors. Well, on this date in 1994, Crayola released a box of 30 scented crayons! They smelled so delicious and real that the next year, a few of them were changed so as not to seem edible by young children (including chocolate, cherry, and blueberry).

There are literally dozens of uses for crayons. Here are three photos of drawings I made about a dozen years ago in University:

a prayer    broken promises  meet the Lord

Nothing fancy. The first is a prayer that says, “When I eat alone, help me pray for those who have nothing to eat; when I walk the streets alone, help me remember those who do not have the strength to walk; when I feel on the outside of every conversation, help me to see the nameless people to whom no one pays attention; when I speak and am ignored, help me hear those whose voices fall on deaf ears; and whenever my circumstances are devoid of familiar voices may I always be able to hear the voice of the Listener.”

The middle one says, “A broken promise can separate friends,” and I used a rainbow because that represents God’s promises to us. The last one simply says “Meet God every morning.” I’ve never been much for drawing, but I’ve always preferred crayons when I need to color something.

Speaking of coloring – I LOVE color books! I have several, and sometimes when I need to center myself or feel restless, I’ll take one out, grab a box of Crayola’s (I still have several!) and color a few pages. (A fun gift idea for young kids might be to color one side throughout the book, and let them color the other!)

Another great thing about crayons, especially fancy ones like the scented set, is being able to melt the wax. I found this photo on Pinterest:

melted crayons

When you have a few extra dollars, why not go out and buy a box of brand new crayons; bring them home, dump them out, sort them – and let your imagination carry you back to the simple trees and flowers of your childhood. (Remember when we drew a strip of blue for sky, and green for grass? Love it!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Hero!

Spiderman is lame. He got bitten by a spider and suddenly thought he could save the world? Not so much. I agree with Uncle Ben when he said “With great power comes great responsibility,” but I don’t see Spiderman as a REAL superhero. But he’s not just a “hero” either, because he had superpowers.

No, Superman is my favorite superhero. He was born with his superpowers, although they didn’t become super or powers until he landed on Earth as an infant....But. If you’re going to have true superpowers, they have to be something you’re born with. Plus he could fly. And breathe in space. Also, Batman is my favorite hero. He didn’t have superpowers, yet he was able to do all kinds of crazy things, and he drove a sweet car, and his office was in a cave. Enough said.

I’ll save Batman for another day. Today we’re going to Broadway, the Alvin Theater to be precise, on this date in 1966. The closing day of the (admittedly kind of lame) musical “It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman.” It ran for just under four months, with 129 performances. There have been a few off-Broadway performances since, including this mini musical put on by some students at San Mateo High School in 2005 (it’s really pretty funny):

The Dallas Theater Center also did a version of the musical for about five weeks in the summer of 2010, with Matt Cavenaugh playing the dual role of Superman/Clark Kent. I looked him up on Google, he’s pretty cute. Although not quite as cute as Cheyenne Jackson (yes that’s a man) who played the same role in May 2007.

It’s been said that all good things must come to an end; well, thanks to Kaptain Obvious, we know the same is true for all bad things. Having never seen it myself, I can’t say this for sure, but I have a feeling there’s a good reason audiences failed to support this musical’s run on Broadway. Just saying.

In conclusion, I would like to re-emphasize my support of Superman for greatest ever Superhero by sharing a photo of a very special friend (and true hero) of mine:


Was Zeus a Pirates Fan?

There are no weather reports for March 4, 1884, but I have a feeling storms were in the forecast for Arnot, Pennsylvania. I know what you’re thinking:  “So what? That was over a hundred years ago.” Well, as it turns out, that was the time and place future major leaguer John Joseph “Red” Murray came into the world. And it was on today’s date in 1914 that he made the game-winning catch in the top of the 21st inning at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

Now, there are several reasons this game stands out in the history of Major League Baseball. The improbable number of innings alone sets a National League record. On top of that, both starting pitchers – Babe Adams of the Pirates and Rube Marquard of the Giants – pitched complete games, Adams allowing NO WALKS. If you know anything about baseball, you understand what a great feat that was! Also, Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner was ejected from the game in the sixth inning after a bizarre play:  he tried to conceal the ball in his armpit while running the bases. I would have enjoyed seeing that one!

Any of these facts alone would make for an incredible game. For all of them to happen in the same game is even more amazing. But wait until you hear how it ended. The New York Giants pulled ahead in the bottom of the 20th with a 2-run homerun by Larry Doyle. The Pirates came up to bat in the top of the 21st. Two out, batter up; Red Murray is a right fielder, the ball comes flying at him – and he makes the game-winning catch…. immediately followed by a lightning strike, knocking him unconscious. I heard once that a person’s odds of winning the lottery are about equal to a submarine being struck by lightning. Guess Red won the jackpot that day.

Swimming in the Rain

Smethport PAIt was a cool Friday night in Smethport, Pennsylvania. Storms were rolling in as the townsfolk got ready for bed that night in 1942. The forecast called for a high chance of rain, possibly a thunderstorm or two. I have to wonder how many of them sat on their front porches watching the skies darken prematurely, enjoying the smell and cool relief of a summer storm. How many lay awake that night listening to the tap dance of nature on their roofs?

This night was unlike any other in history. In the short span of just 4.5 hours, 30.8” of rain feel on this small Northern PA town; before all was said and done, a record 34.5” fell in twelve hours, causing major flooding and the deaths of fifteen. This is the greatest amount of rainfall in a 24-hr. period worldwide outside of a rain forest.

Allow me to put this in perspective for you. In the time it takes to travel across the State of Washington (Spokane to Seattle) the rain got about as high as a typical two-year-old boy (about two and a half feet). That’s a serious downpour! And the resulting flood was devastating.

Still. I love rain. Especially in the summer, at night, when it drops the temperature about 15 degrees and everything smells fresh and clean. Two of my favorite quotes involve rain:  “All girls looks forward to their first kiss in the rain” (from a Peanuts cartoon), and “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” (Vivian Greene). I wonder….do you think Luke Bryan would still sing “Rain Is A Good Thing” if he had lived through that storm?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Catcher In the Rye, J.D. Salinger 1951

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.”

When his ten-year-old sister Phoebe asked Holden Caulfield what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said the catcher in the rye. He had this idealistic view of the innocence of children, and desperately wanted to save them from the harsh realities of adulthood:  hypocrisy, deceit, pain.

This story is told from the perspective of a quirky young man struggling to find his place in a society more apt to reward conformity and condemn individuality. We see that he is both intelligent and expressive, and yet he fails to apply himself, getting kicked out of school after school. He begins the narrative by looking back, to a day when he tried to feel “some kind of a good-bye”. We soon realize that he is on the edge of that cliff himself, about to fall from the innocence of childhood into the ugliness of the real world. He wants so badly to fit in somewhere, to make friends and be part of something wonderful, and yet when he gets close to finding that he pushes everyone away.

Soon after it was released by Little, Brown and Company (on this date in 1951), it generated a lot of criticism for it’s profanity and discussions of sexuality. J.D. Salinger intended it to be a novel for adults, and yet it has profoundly impacted adolescents, and influenced several other works of fiction.

This notion of losing the innocence of childhood reminded me of a little known movie (one of my all-time favorites) called Wide Awake* (1998). It was actually written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, although it’s nothing like the movies he’s most famous for (The Sixth Sense being another favorite of mine). Instead, it’s a coming-of-age story, about a young boy in Catholic school who is trying to find a way to talk to God; he wants to ask how his grandfather is doing.

In one of my favorite scenes, near the end, he reads a speech he’s written. It sums up the movie in a profound yet adorable way. “Fifth grade is the most rigorous and toughest year yet. Before this year, everything was Batman action figures and Ninja Turtle cartoons. Now there’s family, friends, and – girls. Before this year, bullies were just bullies for no reason, weirdoes were just weird, and daredevils weren’t afraid of anything. Before this year, people I loved lived forever. I spent this year looking for something, and wound up seeing everything around me. It’s like I was asleep before, and I finally woke up. Know what? I’m wide awake now.”

I have to admit, I cry every time I watch it. It has some really funny scenes, does an excellent job of illustrating life lessons, and really makes you stop and think about losing the “magic” of childhood. I recommend it with 4/4 stars. And as for The Catcher in the Rye, if you can get past the profanity, I would say 2.5/4.

*this link will take you to the IMDb page where you can watch the trailer http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120510/

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Don’t Have a Cow!

Today was the 8th annual Cow Appreciation Day. I am proud to say that in honor of these special creatures, I had chicken nuggets for lunch. I also took a few minutes to do some research, and find a few fun photographs to share. For instance, did you know that humans are more likely to be attacked by a cow than a shark?

cow appreciation

Also, cows are considered the foster mothers of the human race because they produce most of the milk we drink. The first American cow arrived in Jamestown in 1611. And did you know that a cow must have a calf before she can produce milk? So it should come as no surprise that 99% of all dairy farms are family-owned.

There are six breeds of dairy cows in America. Each has 32 teeth, drinks the equivalent of a bathtub full of water daily, and eats around 40 lbs of food. Holsteins are the black and white cows, and (I found this interesting) each has its own unique pattern. They are like snowflakes and children:  no two are exactly alike.

cow 1

And now I will leave you with this one parting thought:  if you really want to save a cow – eat a vegetarian my friend!

Nothing Happens “Just Because”

On January 22, 2004, I had the privilege of leading a Bible study for an EWU Campus Crusade for Christ group. As I studied, God spoke to me through the book of Joshua. I began to see parallels to my own life and walk with God. I outlined the major points, and made a “wall of Jericho” where I began to place my experiences on the bricks. I ended up with a great visual of God’s continued Presence in my life. (I’d love to send you a blank copy) I often look at it when I need encouragement. I haven’t reached “The Promised Land” yet, but have come to many smaller versions (my own personal “promised lands” of peace and rest), and continue to conquer the enemies that threaten to overwhelm me on my journey.

Conversion:  “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders’….(Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua)” Numbers 13:1-2, 16b. All children of God have a “conversion experience,” when we accept the free gift of forgiveness leading to salvation, and step out of our old selves, being born into new life. I shared in “Sixteen Words Eighteen Years Ago”* that mine was at Cocolalla Lake Bible Camp. For Joshua, I decided to use the day Moses chose him as leader of his tribe and sent him to explore the Promised Land. He was also given a new name, Joshua, which means “God saves”.

Commission and Command:  “‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them….As I was with Moses so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them’” Joshua 1:2, 5b-6.

As we learn to recognize His voice, we begin to hear a “commission and command” from God. For Joshua, it was to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. For me, it is to teach, in elementary Special Education. This may not have been the conclusion I reached when I first studied this, but looking back from right now I know it’s true. That brings me a great deal of encouragement since that’s the job I now have, and the job I’m working toward as I finish up my Master of Education in Special Education, and get certified to teach K-12 Special Ed.

Contacts:  “‘Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you’” Joshua 2:12.

God created us to be in relationships with others. They may take on many forms, and have varying levels of impact, but each is important and unique. Our walk with God is no exception. He will bring people into our lives at different times for different reasons; some will become a permanent fixture, others will only stay for a moment. We don’t always get to see at the time the impact they will have on us, or the role they will play in our faith journey. Rahab was a stranger to the spies Joshua sent into Jericho, but she had heard of the mighty power of God and decided to risk her life to help them. As a result of her kindness, her life was spared, and she became part of the great story of God’s salvation of man (she became Ruth’s second mother-in-law). In my own life there have been many amazing people come and go, too many for me to mention here, but I remember each one and count them as a blessing.

Crossing the Jordan:  “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away….And the priests came up out of the river…No sooner had they set their feet on dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before” Joshua 3:15-16a, 4:18. I encourage you to read the whole story of the river crossing in Joshua 3-4; I only shared a few  verses to illustrate my point. For the Israelites, this crossing was a literal one, the only way for them to reach the land God was giving them; however, it was also a step of faith in God’s promise. They couldn’t just cross it and settle down, living happily ever after. Once there, they were faced with adversity from the people living there, fighting battles from all sides. I believe the “crossing” for us is when we reach a place of spiritual maturity when God asks us to consecrate ourselves, allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and lead our actions, so we can enter into spiritual warfare and claim the promises God has for our lives.

Construction of memorials:  “‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight’” Joshua 4:2-3.

Now we’ve come to the “altar stones” I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts. God commanded Joshua to have one man from each tribe pick up a stone (probably more like a large rock) from the middle of the dry riverbed. On the side of the Jordan where they would conquer the land, he built a memorial to serve as a reminder of God’s deliverance and guidance. When I read this, I decided to start collecting “stones” of my own, small tokens of the times I obeyed God and was blessed. For now, I keep them in a shoebox, and I can pull them out when I need to remember.

Conditioned for Conquest:  “All the people that came out [of Egypt] had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not” Joshua 5:5. Circumcision is how God designed the Israelites to show their commitment to Him, a covenant in the flesh, beginning with Abraham. When they crossed the Jordan, He had the men and boys circumcised to renew that covenant before going into battle. Today we find our own unique ways to renew our commitment; being a literal person, I tend to find something tangible, like a promise ring.

Campaigns of Conquest:  “‘[A]s commander of the army of the LORD I have now come….Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy’” Joshua 5:14-15.

These were originally divided into three sections:  the center of the land attacked (focusing on the battle at Jericho), the campaign in the south, and the campaign in the north. In the book of Joshua these were literally battles fought by the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land. In my own life, I see a more figurative conquest:  the heart, the body, and the mind. It began with my heart; I had to believe that God loves me before anything else could happen. Then my body, which is an ongoing battle, one I wrote about in “My Wellness Journey,”** and will continue to write about now and then. Once that was underway He began working on my mind, helping me to change my thoughts (thinking errors) and learn to dwell on Him more consistently.

That’s it. After the campaign in the north, the tribes divided up the land and settled down. I’m still conquering my own Promised Land. What about you?

*read this at http://www.mellenasmind.blogspot.com/2012/07/sixteen-words-eighteen-years-ago.html
**read this at http://www.mellenasmind.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-wellness-journey.html

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Martian with a Wild Heart

Exploring the Universe has always been of interest to me. God shows off His creative side in the different colors, sizes, and atmospheres of each planet. It’s like a great dance the way all of them move around each other, and around the sun, keeping everything in balance.

Mars is one of my favorite planets for two reasons:  it’s red (my second favorite color), and it’s the fourth planet from the Sun (my favorite number). I know, terribly scientific of me; I’ll try to keep things more simplistic from now on. Earthlings got to see Mars for the first time on this date in 1965, when the Mariner 4 transmitted photos almost eight months after being launched on a flyby mission. Two years later on December 21 (also my birthday), communications were terminated.

When I hear the name Mars, I think of the popular book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, by John Gray. It became one of the top non-fiction books of the 90’s. Since I began that decade finishing third grade, and ended it starting University, I didn’t feel the need to read it. Plus, I’m often very literal. However, I understand this as metaphor, and in my research I discovered that his basic premise is simple:  men and women are as different as beings from different planets.

His basic assumption is true, and I’m sure he made many great points about relationships. I imagine he chose these two planets because Mars was the Roman god of War, and Venus the Roman goddess of love and sexuality. However, there is another book I’ve actually read, dealing with the differences between men and women, that I found to be more interesting. It’s called Wild At Heart, written by John Eldredge, describing how men and women are created in the image of God.

In his book he presented this familiar concept in a different way. Eldredge says, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. That is how he bears the image of God; that is what God made him to be.” These are also important characteristics of God. Complimentary to this is Eldredge's assertion that women reflect similar aspects of God’s heart:  we want to be fought for, to join in the adventure, and to unveil our beauty.