Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cactus are like People

It happens every year. The beginning of December rolls around and suddenly I realize that winter is setting in, which can only mean one thing. I'm going to freeze. So, in a desperate attempt to survive the oncoming winter months I start cashing in frequent flyer miles for flights to warmer locations. This year, a friend and I decided that Phoenix, Arizona was the place to be.

So, here we are trying to take in all the area has to offer. The other day we decided to visit the Desert Botanical Garden. I must admit, I've never been a huge fan of cactus but I guess age has changed my perspective and now I find them to be quite fascinating. There is a certain allure to the desert that is unmatched in other areas of the country. I never cease to be amazed by the uniqueness and beauty of God's creation all over the world.

The other thing I noticed is that the cacti are as unique as people. I mean really, look around; you've got your tall, skinny people; short, squatty people; those with spikey hair, a variety of colors, etc. Cactus are the same way; short, tall, spikey, mulit-colored, and interesting.

This particular cactus is one of my favorites. They stand there tall and proud, like a soldier. Thier appendages give each one its own personality and make them look like they are waving, or holding up a road sign. (As you can see I sometimes have quite the imagination.)

The birds are obviously fond of the tall, statuesque cacti also. Personally, I can't imagine sitting on something so prickly but hey, I'm not a bird. Each of these cacti have an extensive water resevoir inside which may be what attracts the birds.

Just like people, sometimes you have to look very closely to find the beauty. In another couple of months I think this whole area is going to come alive with beautiful, blooming cacti. What a bummer I can't stay and watch it all unfold.

This cactus seems like the deserts answer to pumpkins. Though I doubt they'd be much fun to carve, I think they are just adorable. (Yes, I just called a pumpkin adorable.)

My friend, Debbie, tells me that my pictures made the desert look even better than it was in person. I don't know about that but I love the pinkish, purple color scattered about this cactus. Simply beautiful, in it's own crazy way.

These little guys remind me of sea urchins but don't be fooled; they won't close up when you touch them; most likely they'll leave you with a bloody finger.

To be honest, this cactus creeps me out a bit. It kind of reminds me of a bunch of snakes. Eww...let's move on.
The colors in the desert come alive as the sun sets. Simply amazing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

Did you know that January is National Organization Month? Who would have thought that I'd actually be on time for something? If you recall, my last blog was about organizing my kitchen cupboard, complete with labels. Just one cupboard, mind you, but it's a start. The other day, though, I was sort of forced into an "organizational spree."

I was attempting to complete some work on the computer when suddenly, and for no apparent reason, my internet completely quit working. This, of course, would never do. I tried all of the typical tricks; unplug the modem, unplug the wireless router, restart the computer, etc. Nothing worked. So, I called my internet service provider and told him everything I'd done, and then asked for his help. What did he say? "Ma'am, could you please unplug the power cord to the modem?" Really? Weren't you listening? Didn't I just tell you that I already did that? But, I obediently unplugged the modem - for the third time - with no change. So, the helper guy tells me that he'll need to send a technician to the house. Perfect, I can't wait to see him. (All implied sarcasm intended.)

As I hung up the phone I surveyed my office desk and realized that this would never do. It was a mess, beyond a mess really. I had avoided cleaning the plethora of papers off my desk for way too many months. I figured an hour or two would be needed to get it clean enough for me to avoid embarrassment when the technician showed up.

It's amazing what you can throw away if you wait long enough. I was surprised to discover that more papers were "filed" in the recycling bin than anywhere else. I was also surprised to find fourteen recipes on my desk; including the one I searched for at Christmas. Who put them there, I wonder?

Finally, after five, yes five hours of filing, throwing, and organizing, I picked up one of the last pieces of paper left on my desk. There was an email address written on it so I opened my email program to add said address to my contact list, thus allowing me to throw that last little post-it note away. And, what do you suppose happened? Sure enough, my email started receiving messages, which means, of course, that now my internet was working.

Are you kidding me? I cleaned that desk off for no good reason? The technician isn't coming? Apparently the modem, which sits on my desk behind the computer, has an issue with claustrophobia and needed some space. It's the only reasonable explanation. Either that or God knew I needed a little nudge to get this job done. He probably heard it was National Organization Month before I did.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Armed, but Not So Dangerous

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They just have way too much potential to make me feel like a failure. Last year I wrote a blog in January stating that instead of writing resolutions, I’d set goals. Somehow that seemed better. Everyone says that goals are good for us. I even read a Twitter post recently by psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud that said, “people who set goals are happier than those who don't.” After reading through the list of goals that I wrote down last January, I’m not convinced that his theory is correct.

In January 2009 I wrote down 15 different goals; personal, spiritual, and work related. At least a few of them should have been pretty easy to accomplish. In other words, some of them were lame goals. But, how many did I accomplish? THREE! Do I feel happy now? No, as predicted I feel like a failure. I hate feeling like a failure. Dr. Cloud says that in order to reach our goals we need to commit to a process, not a set goal. In other words, if I want to write a book, I don’t put “write book” down as my goal. Instead I set my goal as “spend two days a week writing.” At least I think that’s what he means, but it still sounds like a set goal to me. And, by the way, I did set “process oriented goals” last year. It still didn’t work. Maybe my failure stemmed from not looking at my list of goals at least once a month. I don’t know. I think I need more information to make this work.

In light of my 2009 goal setting fiasco, I’ve decided to set only two goals this year. And, I’m happy to share them with you. I might need you to hold me accountable come August.

Goal #1: Never refuse free plane tickets. It’s a reasonable goal that shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish. The exception, of course, would be if someone I’ve never met offers to pay my way to India or something like that. Other than that, I think this is a goal I can easily achieve.

Goal #2 will be a little more challenging. I’ve mentioned before in my blog that there seems to be an organized person inside of me screaming to get out. This year, I’m going to give the girl a break and let her have a few days of my life. I’m tired of searching for things. The way I figure it, the old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place,” will be a lot easier to accomplish if there truly is a place for everything. After 34 years of keeping house, I’ve come to the conclusion that my biggest organizational issue is that when I don’t really know where something should go it just sits around on any flat surface I can find as it waits for a home. Flat surfaces are very dangerous!

My plan is to spend a little time each week systematically cleaning out cupboards, drawers, and closets. I’m going to be ruthless. The garbage man will notice heavier loads; the Goodwill man will know my name; my kids will be saying “please don’t send anything else home with us. We don’t want it!”

And, I’m armed. I have a label maker and I know how to use it. If you decide to get organized, a label maker really makes the whole process more fun. John will be lucky if I don’t start labeling his underwear!

I’ve already made some progress. The Christmas decorations are all labeled in their boxes and yesterday I cleaned out one kitchen cupboard. In said cupboard I found 2 jars of mayonnaise, three boxes of expired tapioca (which sadly I looked for at Christmas and couldn’t find even ONE), countless containers of sprinkles (do they get stale?), eight cans of soup (John feels more secure with soup in the cupboard), and a number of other items that were way past prime. I just know that you are dying to see my newly arranged cupboard. Sorry, I didn’t take before shots. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions and cans were already strewn about the kitchen before I even thought of a photo. Trust me, it was BAD!

So, we’ll see how the year goes. If I can see the top of my desk by the end of February, I’ll be thrilled. Baby steps . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dance, My Friend

A little over a year ago I wrote on my blog about my friend, Lacey, who, it appeared, was dying. Two weeks later though, she was healed and home again. Truly, it was a miracle. No one held out much hope for her healing, yet Lacey (and the antibiotics) fought the infection in her lungs and lived. She still had her cancer, however, so we continued to pray.

Lacey’s cancer spent the last year invading her entire body. Yet Lacey remained strong in her faith and belief that her earthly body would be healed. We all did. Despite our prayers and faith, on Wednesday, January 6, 2010, Lacey took her final breath on this earth and seconds later took a new, fresh, unencumbered breath on the shores of heaven.

There is really no way for those of us left behind to make sense of this great loss. I am not a great theologian, and truth be told, I’m pretty sure most of them struggle with these kinds of situations. They boggle our earthly minds. I have spent this past week pleading with God to miraculously heal Lacey. I know I wasn’t the only one praying that way. And, though some may call me crazy, I know that against all odds God could have done that. But He didn’t. And, I know that He has reasons that will one day make perfect sense to me. It just doesn’t make sense today.

Lacey was one of the strongest women I know. She fought her cancer with a determination that I’m fairly certain I could never muster. She always had the sweetest smile on her face and she rarely complained. But, besides her sweet smile and indomitable spirit, there is one thing about Lacey that I will never forget. One day, when I was talking to her she said, “I decided a long time ago that I can live like I’m gonna live, or live like I’m gonna die. I’m choosing to live like I’m gonna live.” Nothing says it better than that. I know healthy people who don’t “live like they're gonna live.” Some days I’m one of them.

Tuesday night when I was reading my Bible and praying for Lacey, there was a verse that stuck out to me. The end of Mark 5 tells the story of Jarius’ daughter who had been ill and even died. Jesus went to Jarius’ home and, despite the wailing of the mourners, went into the Jarius’ daughter's room and in verse 41 it says, “Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”

Oh, how I had hoped that is what Jesus had done in Lacey’s hospital room on Wednesday. In some ways, I’m sure He did. I can imagine Him saying to her, “Come on baby girl, get up, I’ve got something to show you that’ll blow you away.”

Sweet Lacey, you will be greatly missed but you dance, girlfriend, on those streets of gold.