This really IS the view from my front porch. Sweet, huh?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

(Revised) This is not One Tree Hill – You are NOT Payton Sawyer

For those of you who have no idea what I am referring to I have included a definition:
One Tree Hill is a young adult television drama set in the fictional town Tree Hill in North Carolina and follows the lives of teen, now adult characters, including basketball drama in the early years and intertwined relationships, be it friendship or love.  Lucas and Peyton have been two of the main characters, as well as one of the central love stories, throughout the show.

Over the years the storyline has covered the issues of non-functional families, first loves, break-ups, divorce of parents, alcoholic parents, devious Fathers, murder, lies and deception, rivalry, pre-marital sex, teen pregnancy, the trials of marrying while still students, drug addictions, stalkers and hostage situations.  Sounds like your typical soap opera, right?

As a child I spent most of my early days at my grandparents while my parents worked.  Most days were spent lying on the living room floor under the quilting frame in front of the TV.  Grandma and Lucy Black, Aunt Jeffie Ashlock, Bessie Frost or another of the neighborhood ladies would gather round the frame and quilt while “The Days of Our Lives”, “The Doctors and “Another World” would play out a fictitious world before us.  My first memories of soap operas include “Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives” and a then sixteen year old Julie Horton (Williams) lying on the beach in a bikini.  Very risqué for television viewing in the 1960s.  Having grown up watching these “Soaps”, I didn’t see any harm in allowing my children to watch similar shows.  It is fiction and we all can tell the difference in real life and those of our fictional friends.  Most TV shows push the limits of reality and normal lives but we tell ourselves “it’s just a show.”  That’s all well and good until we can no longer tell the difference. 

 My line of work brings in clients who have tried to live lives very reflective of the fictional characters of One Tree Hill.  The only trouble is that at the end of the hour their problems have not been solved by a hero stepping in to make things right.  Every night in Tree Hill is exciting and fun but reality is that Clarksville is quaint and small town.  Some find this boring. While fun at the time, looking for excitement often has repercussions, some lasting a lifetime.  Our feel good, instant gratification society is reaping the consequences of our actions through fatherless children and welfare dependant families. Some are able to overcome these obstacles and better themselves.  Family support and other resources help them make the best of their situation and obtain an education while raising their family in semi-normal conditions.   But many end up in my office looking for the answer to all their problems.  They have discovered that the partner responsible for the making of their child does not possess the qualities needed to be a Father.  Others realize that their experimental use of drugs has resulted in a criminal background that now makes them ineligible for many of the support programs that they need to live independently.  And then there are some that are raising children with disabilities that are a direct result of substance use while pregnant.

None of these results of living life on the edge of excitement are insurmountable but most could have been avoided.  Needless life lessons are being lived out now because they wanted to experience the life of Payton Sawyer or her friend Brooke.  If you ask them later if it was worth it most will tell you that it looked much more fun in Tree Hill.  Most of these adventurists have managed to eventually get back on the right track but the burdens they have been dealing with bring on unnecessary depression along with physical ailments.  They are tired of fighting the fight and hope for the day their prince will rescue them just like in the fairytales of our childhood.  For some, the prince has yet to come and they see no way out.
The desire to be independent and live life the way “I” want to just because “I” can needs to be approached carefully.  This approach seems innocent but often leads to making choices that lead a person down paths that become one way streets without our realizing it.  The next turn –around spot is often much further down the road than we planned to go.  In many circumstances, by the time we reach a place to turn around, we’ve forgotten how we ended up there in the first place. 

It is easy for me to stand on this side of 40 and say these things because I’ve never faced many of the temptations and trials our younger generation is facing.  But I can offer these words as reminders of why it is easier in the long run to be content with normalcy over choosing excitement.  

 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (New International Version)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails
I feel certain that no soap opera relationship or fairy tale romance carries these traits but this is the definition of true love and it is something we all can have. 
Love, the real kind that lifts you up instead of dragging you down, is definitely worth waiting for.  To some it may seem as if it will never come.  They give up and settle for something less or think they are experiencing love but have nothing else to compare the real thing to.  Look at where this “fake” love has brought you.  No relationship is A+ all the time but ask yourself “Are you experiencing positive relationship moments most of the time? 
One last piece of advice I have to offer is…
Don't settle for the one you can live with, wait for the one you can't live without.  I did.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ole Glory

The City of Clarksville goes all out to add color and interest to the main drag through town.  For each holiday Main Street is decorated with related seasonal banners on the poles.  This looks especially festive in the fall months with orange, yellow and brown leaves dancing in the breeze.  Around Christmas and on into January there are white snowflakes on sky blue banners.  A few days each year American flags are proudly displayed. 
It is such a beautiful sight to enter town and see rows and rows of red, white and blue.  This happens every patriotic holiday and on the birthday of important people. 
 I can still remember when I was little I thought they put the flags out on June 14th each year for ME!!  I was certain that the only important thing about this day was that it was my birthday.
Some of you are still at a loss as to why American flags would be posted on this day.  June 14th is known throughout America as Flag Day.  The week of June 14th is designated as “National Flag Week.”  During National Flag Week, the president will issue a proclamation urging U. S. citizens to fly the American flag for the duration of that week.  President Barack Obama’s Flag Day proclamation states:
“When the American Flag soars, so too does our nation and the ideas it stands for.  We remain committed to defending the liberties and freedoms it represents. And we give special thanks to the members of the Armed Forces who wear our flag proudly.  On Flag Day, and during National Flag Week, we celebrate the powerful beacon of hope that our flag has become for us all, and for the people around the world.”
While my parents were quick to educate me about the history of Flag Day, they still allowed me to inwardly celebrate that the flags were on display for me just like they are to celebrate the birthday of
George Washington
 Abraham Lincoln.
I like that they wanted me to feel important.

As a parent now, I understand better their reasoning.  We want our children to be self confident and know that they carry the necessary traits to be great things, even become a president.  If it were up to us parents a flag would fly on each of their special days.

My children have heard this story and love reminding
me that the flags were out just for me today.  Thanks
girls for keeping the memory alive.  May we make
many more special memories in the years to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Phone In The Fridge = Time To Slow Down

5:30 am  Alarm goes off.  Let the dogs out.  Feed the dogs. Feed the bird.  Do the chores.  Hurry to get ready for work.  Rush around and leave for work.  Work, work, work.
12:00 pm  Go to lunch with my husband.  No – show an apartment to prospective tenant’s family. 
12:30 pm  Now rush to lunch with my husband.  Rush back to office to leave for a meeting with Congressman, Steve Womack.
1:00 pm  Hurry to 1:15 meeting.  Wait for 1:15 meeting that doesn’t start until after 1:30.  Great meeting.  Hurry back to the office.  Work, work, work. 
4:30 pm  Rush home.  Exhausted but much that needs to be done.  Rush, hurry, rush…
8:45 pm  Go to the truck to look for phone that I must have left there after lunch with husband because I’ve not seen it since.  Think, think, think …
9:00 pm  Rush back to the office.  Open fridge where lunch leftovers were placed.  Remove phone from on top of takeout box.  Rush home.

Do you ever wonder where everyone is going in such a hurry?  A few weeks ago I was pulled over for going too fast.  I didn’t even realize that I was speeding.  (Why in the world they feel the need for 40 mph there is beyond me.)  I was just going on auto pilot at the normal speed of my day.  Too fast!  Every day now when I reach that same spot I slow down but the people behind me, who obviously have never been stopped for speeding through there, ride my bumper and/or pass me, desperately in a hurry to get to something that must be very important. 

I am reminded of a young child anxiously requesting that her Daddy “Come here, Quick!!”  The parent told her, “Just a minute, Honey.”  The child responded “You’re gonna miss it.”  Joining the child, he experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets he had ever seen.   Some things in life are worth rushing for but how do we know when it’s time to rush and when it’s time to slow down?   Only you can know what is worth the anxiety that rushing causes.
 Are you in a hurry to nowhere?  What are you going to do when you get there?  Does all the rushing to get there make you too tired to enjoy the event itself?  I don’t have the answers to these questions.
The next time you feel the need to rush off to do something, ask yourself “What will I miss by being late?”  “What will I gain by rushing?”  In the case of the Daddy and daughter above, the time spent with the child is worth it all, even if the sky had not been brilliantly painted.  In the case of my being stopped for speeding, it could have cost me a lot.  To the nice officer I say “Thanks”!
Now that I’ve found my phone, I can finish this blog, rush to do the laundry, pick up around the house and hurry off to bed.  Did I not learn anything today???

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.
This is a statement that has come up in conversation with friends after the recent tornado that came through our neighborhood nine days ago. 
It is unimaginable the amount of work to be done in the clean-up process.  Where does one begin? What is to be done first? The task as a whole may seem too big to swallow (the elephant), but taken one bite at a time it can be worked through until the whole thing is gone.
The view from my front porch has changed recently, not only pictorially but philosophically.  I’ve seen how in an instant our priorities can change.  What seemed important to us yesterday is now irrelevant.  The needs of others takes precedence over our own needs.

While the tragedy of a fatality in our area is one of the results of damage done by a mighty wind, good can be found in everything.  Neighbors who barely took the time to speak when passing before this event were working side by side that night towards a common goal.   Word of others hurt and in need of help sparked energy and efforts to clear a path through hundreds of fallen trees so that their needs could be met. 

Both at work and in my home neighborhood, I saw people who just wanted to help others - in any way that they could.  And even the smallest gestures of kindness were greatly appreciated.
We spent five days without electricity, hot water and microwave and 9 days without cell phone, landline phone, TV and internet.  But life goes on and we managed quite well.  We worked during the daylight hours ‘til our bones were weary and after dark we spent time as a family sitting on our front porch visiting with each other.  We laughed and shared stories and made memories that will grow a little wilder each time they are recited.  It felt good – it felt right.
Each of us will at some point in our lives face a storm.  Whether it is an act of nature or self-inflicted, there are still tragedies that evolve as a result.  But life goes on and we must pick up the pieces, one by one, until some semblance of order is found.  Thank goodness for true friends that are there to help us.  Maybe we are unable to see for ourselves the damage this storm has caused.  But others are there to help us design a plan enabling us to carry on.  We have gained new respect for these storms and the damage they can cause.  We’ve devised a plan to take cover when immediate danger is near.  Riding out these storms can be scary at times but the journey will make us stronger in the end. 
That night, shortly after destruction came in the form of eerie, green skies and funnel clouds, we looked upward to see a clear, star laden sky sparkling like a sea of diamonds.  The awesomeness of God’s creation and power was unmistakable. Just like the rainbow, it reminded me of one of God’s promises to us.  He will never give us more than we can handle.  So when you feel as if you are eating an elephant,pour on the seasons as best as you can and go at it one bite at a time, enduring until the end.