Nov 17, 2012

Signs of the Times

Abigail and Dolley readers it is hard to believe this is the first blog post in over a month... Honestly, I just haven't had the heart to write.  A good friend of mine said the day after the election that she'd seen a Prius with an Obama sticker and wanted to run it over, that describes our shared frustration.  Alas, in times of trouble, we should take solace in our faith and the firm understanding that the Lord is in control.

Dad was an eschatology scholar (Biblical End Times Study) as such, I have studied and discussed End Times events with him many times over the years.  What has surprised me is the realization that the world would not stay as we knew it, our country may not continue to be great, and even our last days here would be full of strife and pain.  I had surmised that the fall of the United States would be because of the Rapture and the subsequent nuclear Holicaust, not because we had committed suicide.  I wept on election night and the following day; I mourned as if a loved one had died.

As the news unfolds in Israel, it indeed seems that the time of the end is truly upon us.  The Palestinians have fired 740 rockets into Israel yet the Yahoo and Google headlines read, "Israel destroys Hamas Headquarters".  Truth is found in select places but you must search for it and many of the lame and uninformed just accept the drivel that is fed to them by the left.  It is insidious. 

Of course, I have been saying that for a dozen years that the end is near.  I'd venture a guess that folks felt that way during the World Wars and the Great Depression.  Perhaps we have all been right but our human timing is quite different from the Lord's.  We can only pray for protection and provision in what is to come.

Oct 13, 2012

Rude!

Abigail and Dolley readers I live (and I honestly believe that Jesse Helms is rolling over in his grave) in a swing state.  A much sought after 15 electoral vote state, NC is being inundated with political ads and stump speeches.  The Dems are courting the NC vote, hoping to repeat the upset of 2008.  As such, they need to learn a bit about the folks here.

We've been raised with and value manners.  We do not take pleasure in rude, abrupt behavior.  We are not humored by rough speech or borish demeanor.  In the Southern mind, Joe Biden as the absolute epitome of a rude Yankee.  We don't like Yankees.

His adoption of a Southern Accent declaring to a largely black audience that we're going to put them back in chains was so outside of acceptable social and political behavior as to drew a collective gasp from the Southern voters. Interruption is not admired, we are taught to "wait your turn."  We will often defer, saying, "Please, you go ahead."  Speaking over someone that has the floor, whether you agree with them or not, is simply not done in polite society.  We are Christians, largely Baptists, and there are many who can quote chapter and verse as easy as a Yankee fanatic can roll off stats.  Thus, as I tried to watch the Vice Presidential debate, a Scripture kept rolling over and over again in my mind:
Joe Biden Rude Behavior

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

"There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."

The entirety of the South shakes their heads and declares, "Joe Biden, bless his heart."

Oct 6, 2012

Big Bird Gate and the Lunacy of the Left

Abigail and Dolley readers it is not surprising that the Left has seized upon a single item in the Romney debate and run with it.  Yes, I speak of Romney's insidious plans to cook and eat big bird.  That's right, you caught us.  We Righties want to destroy all that is good in this world and we are starting with Big Bird.  Now you've got to admit, the yellow dude has had it coming for a while now, I mean he teaches dirty little children to say their ABC's and we are against people learning to read.  We long for the day when only the elite had access to education and it was a crime to teach slaves to read....Yes, my friends we hate Big Bird and we are going to destroy him.

Big Bird on the Menu
Probably one of the best lines in the debate for O was when he asked if Romney was keeping his plans secret because they were so good.  In fact, this is EXACTLY why all conservatives running for office HAVE to keep their plans secret because the leftist media and politicians use every specific agenda item, turn it into a bludgeon, and beat candidates about the head and shoulders with it.  John Sunu put it well when he described this secrecy as a negotiation tactic for working with the other side of the aisle.  He then cleverly added that Obama had no clue about how to do that....

Finally, sitting on my couch watching the debate on Wednesday night, I kept looking at my husband with glee and saying, "Romney is kicking his ass!"  In retrospect, it would have been more apropos to say, "Obama is getting his goose cooked."  For most assurredly, it was Obama on the menu.  This is something we conservatives have been longing to see for five years.  Thanks, Mitt we look forward to calling you Mr. President.

Sep 8, 2012

The Fear of Hunger

Abigail and Dolley readers 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.  1.5 million middle class families have been added to the roles THIS year.  That is 1.5 million families who have previously been self sufficient who out of desperation, pain, and humiliation have had to seek assistance for FOOD.  Not vacations, not new cars - FOOD.  What does that do to a middle class family?  What does that do to a mother and a father, to have to seek government help to eat?

This Depression has been hard on us all and I understand what it is like to be afraid that there is not enough to feed your family.  Never mind the mortgage, the car payment, the electric bill - those will keep you awake at night but there is panic and a desperation that goes along with fear of hunger that is foreign to the middle class American spirit.

Look at their faces in Aldi, Walmart, and Dollar General - they are scared.  They have their cell phones set on the calculator and they are adding up the purchases that go in the buggy because there is $64 in the bank and they've somehow got to figure out how that is going to feed a family of four for a week.

Their husbands are out of work and they are making less than they made a decade ago.  Their 5 year old cars in the parking lot were once very nice but the gas tanks are on empty and those last few payments are falling behind.  The kids just think Mom hasn't gotten to the grocery store in the last few days and sigh as they eat ANOTHER peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  They don't have their friends over to eat at each other's houses anymore - everyone is just barely scraping by and it is indeed very scary. 

So forgive me if I don't think your $9/month birth control pills are a top priority.  Excuse me for being offended that killing babies on demand is your primary concern.  Pardon me if I get a little pissed when I hear from you that the middle class is doing fine.  Don't tell me there is a recovery when I know people who have been trying to find work for more than a year.  Sorry if I get a little testy when I realize that my family of three owes $150,000 toward the National Debt. 

Why don't you fly off on another tax payer financed vacation, give your political friends more billions to squander on fire fly electricity plants, but STOP telling me your way is going to fix this mess because from where I am sitting this is the worst shape my country has ever been in and you have been at the helm of its destruction.

Sep 3, 2012

Ode to a Friend - Tony McGee

Abigail and Dolley readers it is with great sadness that I learned the news of the passing of my friend, Anthony William McGee I.  Tony, as we all called him, was 48 years old and died unexpectedly of natural causes on 08/28/12.  Tony was the beloved brother of Pam and Donna, the son of Peggy and Junior from Pineville NC.  Tony is survived by his wife Lyn, his two daughters, Ashlyn and Amber, and his granddaughter, Layla.  Today he is reunited in Heaven with his cherished son, Will.  Tony will be missed greatly by all who loved him.

My story with Tony is an old one and a simple one, he was my first love.  It was the Summer of 1984, Tina Turner and Springsteen played on the radio, we wore parachute pants, and drove American muscle cars with racing stripes.  Older than I by four and a half years, we had never seen each other until that party at Kenneth Moore's.  Shortly after my Sweet 16, I was on a date with one of his friends.  Tony met me in a darkened hallway, I don't know if it was an accident or if he'd seen me go the restroom and was waiting for me.  It's more fun to think he was waiting on me....  He backed me up against the wall with his arms braced on either side of me, leaned down and asked me, "What's your name?"  I nearly kissed him in that moment.  The chemistry between us was amazing, not merely a spark, more like a lightening storm, beautiful, wild, and dangerous in its intensity.  I broke up with his friend that night on our ride home.

It was a classic summer romance, full of longing, passion, and fire.  I was giddy and spent every waking minute thinking of him, talking to him, or trying to figure out how I was going to get to him.  I wanted to crawl inside his skin.  He was funny and playful, full of life and love.  He laughed easy and loved to tease and tickle.  The only time he ever got mad at me was when I had a friend drop me off at Pineville Park to wait for him to get off work.  He was angry at me for being there at night, alone and made me promise I would never do that again.  Neither of us had a car, and come to think of it, Tony did not even have a license... he worked second shift and our time together was hard earned!

It was doomed from the start and in retrospect, he knew that long before me.  We came from two different worlds and our future paths did not run in parallel but our lives briefly intersected.  Love doesn't always make sense, it doesn't see the obstacles, and it believes it can defeat all. First love is powerful magic full of promise and a level of invincibility that is absent from any that should follow it. Alas, it is also a wicked double edged sword, I did not escape without scars.  In the weeks, months, and years that followed, I often wondered if it was worth it, the answer is most definitely, yes.  To have loved such a sweet soul is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

By late August, we were over and I found myself surrounded by dozens of partying friends at Myrtle Beach.  The boy I had broke up to go out with Tony was there and chased me around all weekend.  I was heart sick and simply wanted him to leave me alone.  After three days of forced revelry, I took a solitary walk down the beach.  I sat on a piece of driftwood and wept bitterly.  It is perhaps the hardest I have ever cried in my life.  An older lady came over, put her hand on my shoulder, and asked kindly, "Are you okay, Honey?" I looked up from my sobbing and told her, "I've lost someone that I love."

As the years went by, I would think of him and hope he was doing well. When he joined Facebook, I broke my "No Former Lovers as Friends" Rule and accepted his friend request.  I did it mainly because I had learned of his son's tragic death and I wanted to offer him my sincere sympathy.  I thought of him often and each time I would say a prayer for he and his family.  I was very careful not to open the Pandora's box of first love, I am a happily married woman, after all.  He respected that, but periodically would send me a short note or comment on a status with such sweetness that I realized that perhaps he too still felt a tenderness for me.

I have always been a writer and was working on my first novel the Summer we dated.  It is Tony who I use in my mind to bring that first love to the page.  It's his warm embrace and soft lips that I recall in the passages about young love.  That Summer of 1984, when we were separated by thousands of miles, we would walk outside and look at the stars.  We took comfort that we were at least looking into the same night sky and we talked to the wee hours of the morning.  I had forgotten that until he sent me a note last year and reminded me of it.  So tonight when I look at the stars, I will remember you, my friend, my dear first love - rest in peace Tony McGee, I'll see you soon enough.


Even before he died, I would hear these songs and think of him.  I'd like to think he did the same.

Sep 1, 2012

French Soldier's Take on the American Soldier

Abigail and Dolley readers this was written by a French Infantryman who served with our forces in Afghanistan.."We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while -they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with
them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo.  Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.  


Aug 25, 2012

Sacrifices

Abigail and Dolley readers I have been thinking a lot about my career lately.  Where I want to go from here and what I want to do.  I rose to the highest local position in my industry a scant eight years into my career and I never wanted much more than that, until now.  I realize that I have been somewhat stunted in my career because I have refused to relocate, I have refused to travel;  I have put my family above my career aspirations.

I meet others in my field who have risen well above me in positions of power and they have a couple of things in common - mainly, they have been in the vicinity of power throughout their careers AND they have been willing to move.  They have been willing to uproot and go from one assignment to the next, I have not.

I have begun to question whether this was indeed the right move and perhaps second guessing something I have been committed to my whole life.  Tonight, though, I hung out with my Mom and one of my Sisters and then came home to see my Son off to a Middle School Madness Kick off.  There he stood with his buddies, the same buddies he has had his whole life, his life long companions, these boys that have become part of our family, and I thought, "Money, Power, and Position can't buy this, you've made the right choice, Dolley."
Middle School Madness

Aug 23, 2012

The Exasperating Student


Hermione with her hand up

Abigail and Dolley readers patience is not something I was born with.... In the First Grade, my teacher sent home a note that read, "Dolley needs to learn patience with others."  This impatience is not accompanied by anger or malice but born of the fact that I am a quick study.  All of my teachers, after Mrs. Bowman, will attest to the fact that I can be an exasperating student, I ask questions well before the teacher has reached that point in the lesson.  Usually three steps ahead of the instruction and impatient to grasp the full concept and move on, I get bored waiting for others to catch up.
 
It has been many years since I was in a classroom but recently spent three weeks in intensive training.  To my surprise, I had more patience with others but was still three steps ahead of the teacher and still asked all the questions needed to fully understand the material.  I don't memorize, I learn and in that process probe and prod more information than a lesson plan calls for.  Alas, I'm not terribly popular with teachers.

I have to restrain myself from answering all of the questions that the teacher asks.  I try to be quiet and will always gauge my fellow students to insure that I have not become grating.  The majority of the time, my fellow students don't mind and some are even thankful for my questions.  I am sure others wish I would just be quiet.  A kindred spirit in the class is always a relief and I am more than willing to sit back and let them ask all the questions.

As I sat in my classroom recently, a scene from Harry Potter kept flashing through my mind and I endeavored to do my best, not to be Herminone.  I'm am relatively certain that I did not succeed in that regard but equally certain five years from now I will still remember the material.  In the weeks ahead, I hope MY students will appreciate the time, effort, and work I put into learning the material even if my teachers would have rather me sat quietly.


Aug 12, 2012

Throwing Us a Bone

Abigail and Dolley readers I have to say, I have never been a fan of Mitt Romney.  During the primary and debate season, I developed a distaste form him that was substantial.  The smarmy and dirty tactics he used to bury my candidate enraged me and I often proclaimed that I would never vote for the man, ever.  Alas, perhaps time heals all wounds and the specter of a Romney Presidency seems far less disastrous than four more years of Obama.  Add in the Tea Party favorite, Paul Ryan and all of a sudden pulling the lever for Romney in November seems a bit more palatable.  It is eerily like McCain/Palin... I voted for her, not him. 

Aug 4, 2012

Saturday Morning Reflections

Abigail and Dolley readers I was very blessed this week to spend time with my dearest friend.  It has been several years since we have seen each other and we sat and talked into the night about the details of our lives.  As we caught up, it was very apparent to both of us that God deals with those He loves in different ways.  We each struggle with an area of our lives that keep us on our knees.  I think if we didn't, we would never be obedient to do the good works He has laid up for us.

I have had an irrational fear that when I get to Heaven, the Lord will look at me and ask, "What did you do for me?"  The terror that strikes my heart is indescribably for I have never really done anything great for the Lord, in my own eyes.  I have never gone on a missions trip, I don't take food to the homeless, I don't minister to people in jail... but on further reflection, does this surprise God?  Does He expect that when I finally come home that my life will have not reflected His love?  Wouldn't a loving God put tasks in front of me that He knows I will do?  The Lord doesn't want me to fail, He doesn't want me to get to Heaven and have nothing stored up...

Now, I am not saying we earn our Salvation or that our motivation for doing good works should only be reward but let's get real here.  We work for pay, we don't work for altruistic reasons.  We are also tremendously short sighted and have no real understanding of eternity, so like a child He must move us along in this life insuring we are placed in situations where we can earn our rewards.

Jul 29, 2012

My Take on the Olympics

Kerri Strug Vault
Abigail and Dolley readers for what it's worth, I don't watch the Olympics.  The last time I sat glued to the TV over an Olympic event was the ladies gymnastics thriller in Atlanta.  You may recall the 1996 games, where a badly hurt Kerri Strug needed to land a vault to bring home USA Women's Gold.  My husband and I sat glued to the TV while the drama played out... well past Midnight on a weekday.  I remember being exhausted but exhilarated the next day, only to find out the event was on a tape delay and NBC had played us.

I believe I have over the years tried to watch certain events, only to be turned off by the incessant human interest coverage and very little sports coverage.  If the USA did not win an event, it would not be shown.  The time delays are another factor, in this digital world to have the news media report the outcome of an event six hours before NBC airs the event is laughable.  The melodrama they infuse into every segment in unnecessary.  We do not need to be told of the struggle, we don't have to be coaxed into excitement, the athletes do that on their own, it is the nature of sports.

NBC's reality show packaging of one of the purest of human endeavors is insulting.  To them I say, you lost me in '96 NBC, you lost me in '96. 

Jul 20, 2012

Hickory NC Roads From Hell

Abigail and Dolley readers I believe there is a special place in Hell reserved for the city planners of Hickory NC.  They will spend eternity in a car with a broken air conditioner and a GPS, trying to find an address, all of eternity will be spent aimlessly lost.  It is their just punishment for the countless hours that have been wasted in the labyrinth that is Hickory NC.

If you are on 11 Ave SE and head NW you will not end up on 11 Ave NW... no the street will dead end into 11 Ave SE Place Drive which will dead end into 15 Street SW Place Circle which is of course nowhere near 14 Street SW Place Circle...

I work with a lady whose husband is from Hickory and has lived on 22nd Ave three times in his life and never on the same street.  Someone sent me a facebook comment that their GPS had actually exclaimed, "What the hell?"  There are some seriously demented folks who planed this city.  What about Oak Street for goodness sake!  That's a good name and how about this novel idea only allow one of them... No, in Hickory you have Oak St NWSE which is no where near Oak St SENW.... then we'd have Oak Drive Street and Oak Road NE and Oak Blvd Street...

Behold the beauty of trying to find an address off of 11 Ave NE, folks I can't make this stuff up.

Hickory NC Map - 11 Ave NE
If the city has aspirations to grow, I say rename the darn streets so people who are coming to your city to do business can FIND your resident businesses... Geez!

Jul 19, 2012

You Didn't Build That!

Abigail and Dolley readers I try to stay out of the headline of the day, minutia of the news cycle.  To be involved in the daily grind of outrage, death, and destruction is ultimately unhealthy.  There is nothing edifying about it.  Paul knew what he was talking about when he said, Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. There is very little about the news cycle that fits that criteria. 

That being said, I just can't seem to let Obama's speech in Roanoke pass without comment, as the wife of a struggling entrepreneur, I have to chime in.   "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen."

Marinate on that for a moment, that is flat out Communism.  It's code for, you have no right to the fruit of your labor - collectively, we get it.  I have intimated in my writings for the last few years of the struggle my family and I have gone through, much of it to do with the sacrifices we have chosen to make in pursuit of our own business.

I invented a revolutionary product in the sweltering heat of July in 2010.  For the last 24 months, my husband has worked to bring that product to market.  By doing so, we have sacrificed an income, spent all of our savings, and struggled with the overwhelming stress of economic uncertainty; in pursuit of the dream.  We have done it with no loans, no money, and no help from anyone.

Our story is not unique, it is the story of small business, it is the story of the origins of big business, and the story of America.  It is not surprising that Barack Obama has this view because this is HIS life experience.  The evidence to support this statement is abundant, one must simply look at his legislative record as a State Senator and a US Senator - there is no accomplishment in his WORK to justify his current position.  Hell, he's the most do nothing President we've ever had.  He's golfed more, vacationed more, and worked less than any President in modern times.  His Oval Office work ethic is said to be atrocious, arriving, if at all, after 10am and doing very little.  Why do you think he has all those "czars"?  They do the job that HE is supposed to do.

"You didn't build that, somebody else made that happen."
 
That is not an American worldview.  That is not a Capitalist mentality.  Once again, the Emperor Has No Clothes.

Jul 10, 2012

A Bee in a Bottle

Abigail and Dolley readers this is one of those personal blog posts.  I hesitate to write them but feel compelled to share my trials.  In many ways, this blog is my legacy and life isn't always peaches and cream.  In this season of my life, times are tough and they have been for longer than I'd like.  I struggle mightily to stay positive, focused on Christ, and in good spirits.  Some days are easier than others; today was one of the hard ones.  Around lunch time, I went into the prayer closet.  It took a long time to settle my mind and honestly, I don't know if I ever really did.  In spite of my prayer, I emerged troubled and stumbled through the rest of the day.

As I was sitting there, I envisioned myself as a bee in a glass jar; frantically banging up against the sides, trying to escape.  Bees are busy and made for work.  I've never thought of myself as a bee but I guess I am.  I prayed, "Lord, I keep hitting the sides of this jar desperately trying to break out.  I have fallen to the bottom of the jar, exhausted and panting.  I can not seem to make any progress no matter how hard I try."
Bee in a Bottle
Misery, fear, and hopelessness filled my soul and I sobbed, "Lord, I have to move forward.  There are bad things in this jar coming to consume me.  Please, let me out."  He didn't audibly speak to me, but the thought occurred to me that I did not know what was outside of the jar.  What if the jar was not a prison but protection?  I scoffed at the thought, and reasserted that disaster was at hand.  We were quiet for a while.  He then told me to look down.  What I had perceived as inside the jar was actually on the other side of the glass.  The swirling mass of scary blackness that was about to devour me was barred from touching me.  I was safe in this glass jar.

Am I comfortable?  Um, NO.  Am I happy to be here?  NOT!  Would I embrace a change?  You can bet your sweet "patootie" I would.  In the mean time, writing this blog has been helpful and I'm coming to the realization that I AM protected and I AM cherished.  Maybe I simply need to catch my breath, stop banging myself silly, and recognize that I am not out of this jar because I haven't tried hard enough.  I'm not stuck in this jar because there is sin in my life, the jar is not punishment.

We strive on this Earth, in this body, always looking up.  I think the lid is translucent and we see Heaven's light above us.  We don't recognize it as Heaven, we think it is a place we are going to get to on this Earth, in this life.  We think that if HE would just let us out, we would fly right into it and everything will be better.  I don't think such a place exists here.  Some days are sunny, the darkness held at bay.  Even then, there is always something lurking, some turd in the punch bowl.  This life is not Heaven and we aren't made to feel at home here.

I hope that if you are reading this and feel battered against the glass walls of your bottle, you will take heart that you are not alone.  We all go through these times, take a rest, the Lord is in charge.  I'm chillin' out down here at the bottom of my jar, my antennae are all crooked, one wing is jacked up, and that last crack to the head is making me sleepy.  I am going to rest knowing that He neither slumbers nor sleeps and he's watching out for me tonight.


Jun 28, 2012

The Personal Destruction of the Great Recession

Abigail and Dolley readers as these terrible economic times enter their fourth year this month, I have to contemplate the human cost that has been extracted from Americans.  As a wife and a mother, I must consider the devastating impact on the family as a whole but would also like to expound upon the individual consequences.  For this recession is more than numbers on a TV screen, they are people and they have been grievously wounded.

From a Husband's perspective, the loss of income, the loss of house, and the long term inability to find a job is a recipe for destruction.  Most men are hardwired to provide for their families.  The first jobs to go were men's, the companies that went down early largely employed men, and those jobs still have not returned.  The hopelessness that comes with unemployment and the feelings of failure and unworthiness permeate today's struggling man.  Individually, this is tough but for a family the pain is compounded exponentially. 

From a Wife's perspective, the loss of security goes to the heart of her psyche.  Women need safety, they need to know that the house payment is made and there is still enough money left over to buy food.  Millions of Mother's have lost their homes, millions more have had to seek Food Stamps to pay for the basic necessities in life.  There is no work for their husband's and they desperately try to keep him optimistic, hide their fear from their children, and go to bed with a nerve shaking despair about how they are going to make it through.  Look in their faces at the store, they are weary.

From a Child's perspective, they know something is wrong.  Younger children may not know anything other than this Great Recession.  Older children may long for the days when there was vacations, new clothes, and a lot of food in the house.  They may carry with them a security worry that they should never bear.  Most devastating of all is that they may begin to believe their Father is a failure.  Almost nothing on this Earth is more destructive to a child than that, nothing.

These families are everywhere and as much as Obama whines about it being Bush's fault, the fact of the matter remains that these families had houses, food, and jobs with W was President.  The private sector is not doing just fine, Mr. President these are Dark Days, Dark Days Indeed.

Jun 14, 2012

Conservatives and Liberals - Common Ground

Abigail and Dolley readers it may surprise you to know but I find that there are certain things I can agree with the liberals.  In this swirling stew of social and economic upheaval that is 2012 America, common ground may be hard to come by but I will endeavor to make a few proposals.  For if we can find issues of agreement perhaps we can find ways of working together to accomplish these goals.

The fundamental challenge facing liberals and conservatives is not what we can agree on but our worldviews and the appropriate mechanism for solving these problems.  I have expounded on worldview exhaustively in this blog over the years and find that this is not a post to rehash all that I have written before.  I have also written extensively about the flaws in the reasoning and worldview on the topics that I find I have more common ground with the Liberals than I previously considered.

Care for the Environment:  We can agree that no one wants to live on a polluted Earth.  As a Christian, I take very seriously the admonition to be a good steward of the Earth and the possessions that the Lord has given me.  I was at Earth Fare the other day and handed the cashier my well used brown paper bags.  I commented that a client was teasing me about having them in my trunk and the cashier answered, "Well it shows you care about the environment."  I thought about it for a moment and said, "That's not really my motivation, to not reuse them is wasteful.  I believe in being a good steward."  I could tell the cashier was a bit taken aback but in the end had to agree with my sentiment.  Same result, different motivations, and different worldview but something we can agree upon.

Crony Capitalism is bad:  Once again, the solutions and the worldview are very different but we can  agree trillions of dollars to Solyndra, Archer Daniels Midlan, ConAgra, GE ect is crooked and serves the greed of politicians and business people alike.

Organic Food and Farming:  It tastes better, it is more nutritious, and it is healthier for the people and the land.  Big Ag and Genetically Modified food, animals, and seeds carry risks that I am not willing to take with my health or my family.

Newt Gingrich was very articulate on building bridges and understanding this concept.  His infamous Nancy Pelosi commercial was intended to demonstrate that we can indeed find common ground.  Perhaps as well, I have learned to look around the worldview difference to determine that as Americans there are many things we have in common.

Jun 3, 2012

Beer and Beads

Abigail and Dolley readers as I have previously written, I have a new hobby:  Jewelry Making.  Since it has been such a fun activity for my Mom, my Sister, and me, I decided to invite others over to join in the fun.  It was last minute so only one good friend could join but we had a blast.  I have decided to call the evenings, "Beer and Beads" and plan on hosting them on a regular basis.


Red Lamp Work Beads with Memory Wire Bracelet and Earrings

There are many cool things about jewelry making but the fellowship is my favorite part.  It's very communal: we share ideas, supplies, tools, and beads.  Pooling means that the individual outlay can be concentrated on the fun stuff instead of the supplies!  It also means that anyone can join with just a couple strands of beads and a bag of chips.

Beaded Ring
I have often lamented over the years of the lack of parties and get togethers, perhaps this is the avenue I can use.  I enjoyed the company and the sharing of the evening as much as the pretty bracelet I ended up with at the end of the night.  With each project, I learn a little more.  With each piece I define my own style and craft.  Our friend last night commented that she did not have a lot of jewelry because she could never find anything she really liked.  She left with a gorgeous chocker necklace and a matching pair of earrings, they were stunning and entirely her creation.  We have a new bead friend! 


"The Red" Collection
Thanks for stopping by Friend.  May you have a wonderful blessed week full of beauty and fun.  God Bless!

May 20, 2012

Pretty Pictures from the Garden

Abigail and Dolley readers I love to dig in the dirt and enjoy documenting the years.  Here are some favorites.


Summer Colors


Freedom Hedge Rose Baked in the Summer Sun


Hydragea


Over a hundred degrees in the Garden


Black Eyed Susan


Summer Garden in July


Sometimes you just have to look up!


Me Beads!

My regular readers may notice that the meta-description of Abigail and Dolley has changed.  I believe it more accurately reflects the evolution of this little slice of the internet.  To celebrate the true liberation of this blog from a political forum to a life's journey, I give you BEADS!  Family time, art, creativity, and jewelry - how can a girl go wrong?

Beach Blue Collection
The blog title comes from a cute family story.  Mom first discovered beading as something she could do with her four year old Granddaughter.  What she did not count on is that her two year old Granddaughter would feel a bit hurt and disenfranchised by Nanna's new hobby with her sister.  She came up to Mom one afternoon and in a very hurt voice said, "Me Beads!"  Needless to say, Nanna was heart broken and the next visit there were plenty of beads for all.
Memory Wire Triple Strand Bracelet in Blue

In typical Dolley style, I am enchanted and of course reading, researching, and learning as much as I can.  One of my favorite resources is Off the Beaded Path; Kelly Dale is a brilliant designer and teacher.  My other new fun thing has been Pinterest, which is full of all kinds of wonderful images and ideas.  There are plenty of bead ideas and the possibilities are endless.   

I have also discovered something; my personal style is really quite funky and a little off beat.  Now don't get me wrong; I wear a French Manicure, have subtle highlights in my hair (no purple streaks), and there is not a dog collar in my jewelry repertoire - but I crinkle me nose at preppy and I am too voluptuous for elegant!  Thus, creating my own bling opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
  
Funky Blue Bracelet - Mixed Beads on Memory Wire

Beaded Ring - Design by Kelly Dale from Off the Beaded Path
Memory Wire Necklace, Bracelet, Ring, and Hoop Earrings - Beaded Earrings from a Bead Starter Kit

May 17, 2012

Honor, Oh Honor Where Have You Gone?

Abigail and Dolley readers it has occurred to me recently that we are genuinely lacking in honor.  Honor is no longer taught as a virtue or touted as a worthy attribute; only in the military cultures does it remain.  Woe to us if that were to ever change.  Our lack of honor and the loss thereof is clearly demonstrated in the character of the two men that will vie for the Presidency this year; neither has enough honor to fill a thimble.

We see the lack of honor in sports, from the pee-wee level to the professional arena, winning trumps honor at every turn.  Cheating, spying, and dirty play are only thought evil if they are caught.  The man who stands up for honor is shouted down, ridiculed, and despised.  The coach who calls a foul is aggressively and openly  challenged by the cheater, for the cheater feels it is his right to cheat if that is what it takes to win.

We see the lack of honor in our marriages through infidelity, pornography, neglect and abuse.  It is present in men and women equally, we no longer condemn adulterers.  We attend wedding celebrations of people who have left their spouses and their children for an adulterous relationship and wish the new couple well.  The culture spits venom and bile at those who believe and vote for traditional definitions of marriage and you won't win a lot of friends pointing out the general lack of honor.

Children break the 5th Commandment everyday, there is no honor of Mother and Father.  Many parents cry themselves to sleep at night fretting over their young adult children.  Who despite their best efforts are morally reprehensible vermin with no sense of responsibility, work ethic, or respect.

In life, we do not have a choice where we are born or who we are born to.  We have no choice in our natural beauty or intelligence.  We do have a choice in what kind of people we will be, sadly most do not choose the honorable life.

The primary ways that honor has been taught in our society is through the father and the church.  The father is gone and church attendance is at its lowest levels in American history.  Alas, honor was one of the first to pack its bags and leave for a virtue, like our Lord, never stays where it is not wanted.

May 4, 2012

American Tea Partier like the Highland Scot?

Abigail and Dolley readers while I have had to withdraw from politics for my own self preservation, I have to note the death of the Tea Party.  With the withdrawal of Newt Gingrich from the Presidential race, we say good bye to the once mighty Tea Party.  Granted, we are still here, but are defeated once again.  Betrayed by the leaders we have elected and outspent by the mega rich, we are the Highland Scots of America.  Much maligned, misunderstood - considered barbarians and the unwashed masses.  Were we living in 18th century England, the world might watch in horror as we were slaughtered without quarter on the bloody field of Culloden Moor.

Ironically, much of the South, are direct descendants of those displaced Highland Scots.  It seems it is in our blood to fight against an oppressive government and to loose.  I am thoroughly demoralized by the victory of Willard "Mitt" Romney, a Lowland pretender if there ever was one.  I think the word of the Lord to the Laodician Church sums up my feelings about Mitt Romney quite accurately:

15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Even worse than Romney, who at least for this analogy is a Scot, a Lowlander, but still a Scot.  We have Obama in Washington and he is truly equivalent to the (German) Hannover King - not American by birth or heritage, he was installed by the power brokers to keep control and was just as abhorrent to the 18th Century Highland Scots as Obama is to us conservatives in the 21st Century.

If you know your Highland Scot history, (which being a Romance Novel junkie, I do), you may know that while the defeat in 1715 and 1745 were devastating, it was the subsequent years that were the final blow to the Highland Scots.  Their leaders were stripped of power, their way of life destroyed, they were displaced and deported.  It is estimated that only 10% of the inhabitants of the Highlands today are actually of Highland blood descent.  They were wiped out.

Only the Lord knows what the future holds for us modern day Highlanders aka Tea Partiers but from where I am sitting folks, we are in deep shit.

Apr 6, 2012

The Perfect Boiled Egg

Abigail and Dolley readers it is Easter!  I love the Holiday for it is indeed the highest of Christian Holidays.  We have a tradition in my family of making pickled eggs and beets and we have a couple of favorite tales that go along with them that we tell every year.  While pickled eggs might not be your thing, almost everyone loves a wonderful, perfect, hard boiled egg.

There is actually a bit of a trick to achieving the perfect egg.

Dozen Organic Cage Free Eggs (yes, readers I am going all Granola on you here...)
Pot of Water

Put the eggs in cool water, just enough to cover the tops.  Bring water to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.  Drain hot water and fill the pot with cold.  Crack the eggs and peel under the water. 

Fabulous - every time!

Mar 25, 2012

Frugal Tips for the Great Recession

Abigail and Dolley readers so many folks are hurting these days, it hardly merits a mention.  Part of me would love to go into a hell fire and brimstone "sermon" regarding the policies and circumstances that have gotten us in this mess but alas, in large part I would be yelling down a well.  If you care to understand, you know.

As such, many find they are doing more with less and my household is no different.  We have all, no doubt, become more frugal and this not necessarily a bad thing.  Here are some of the ways we have tightened our belts:

Personal Care:


Home Hair Color - the secret to a professional and or natural look is to select a color that is flattering to your complexion.  The most important trick, Ladies, is to put the color on your roots, let sit for about 20 minutes, and then with a pick or a wide toothed comb, comb out the color to the ends.  Let it process another 5 minutes or so.  This creates wonderful highlights and lowlights and you avoid that all over monochromatic look that screams, "Bad Dye Job, right out of the box!"

Cornstarch - I have to admit I discovered this one out of near penury... I ran out of my oh so wonderful, Bare Minerals Mineral Veil and was in dire need of some powder.  I dusted on some Johnson's Baby Cornstarch with my powder brush and low and behold I did not shine for 12 hours.  I now use it over my moisturizer every day and the oil and shine control rock.

Food


Groceries are on the rise and one of the biggest ways I have combated a run away grocery bill is by shopping at Aldi.  The prices are good, the quality is great, and the savings really add up.

Turkey - I love turkey lunch meat and I know I am not alone in that regard.  It is the number one selling lunch meat in America.  The processed stuff is vile and the high end stuff will run you as much at 9.99/lb.  Trader Joe's sells Kosher, vegetarian feed, split turkey breast with bone and skin on.  I roast one every Sunday afternoon and we have great turkey for the week.  At $3.99/lb its a cost savings and a quality bonanza.

So there are the Abigail and Dolley frugal tips of the day.  Thanks for reading!

Mar 22, 2012

Tropical Spinach

Abigail and Dolley readers I have been reading about the wonders of Coconut Oil .  So in an effort to clean up my diet and get healthy, I bought some at Trader Joe's this weekend. I also bought some organic baby spinach. Tonight, I decided to combine these two and a few other powerhouse foods and the result was great.

1 tbsp Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
1 lemon - zested and juiced
Grated Ginger root
Pinch of red pepper
Salt and Pepper
1 bag of fresh organic Spinach

Combine all of the ingredients except the spinach in a large skillet or chef's pan.  Cook over medium heat until the content becomes aromatic.  Add the spinach and toss - don't overcook, this should take about a minute or two.  Enjoy!

Mar 10, 2012

Insulin Resistance is My Enemy

Abigail and Dolley readers I have insulin resistance.  As such, I am in the company of roughly 1/4 of the adult population.  This number is even higher in adults over 50, one study showed that 47% had some level of insulin resistance.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS/Insulin resistance.  I tell my story in this blog post called Redistributing the Weight .  I am sad to say, that I have gained back 30 pounds of the original 45 pounds I lost in 2008.  It came back slowly, it took four years, but at about a half a pound per month here we are again.

Now this is not for lack of trying, this is not for lack of noticing, this has not come as a shock to me.  To my utter discouragement and dismay, I have not been able to turn the weight loss engine back on.  Near starvation and tremendous exercise have not kick started the engine.  All of the things I did last time have not worked for me.  I have thrown up my hands in disgust and in many ways had given up.

A few things have happened in the last few months, first I discovered that I do not have PCOS, I am just plain old insulin resistant.  Now that may not seem like a big deal but it actually is because PCOS is out of my control but insulin resistance is not.  Second, none of my clothes fit.  Third, we have engaged a personal trainer.

We've been working out a week and I have been trying to watch what I eat on my own.  I lost a whopping 1 pound... yeah!  ( I am being sarcastic here...)  So I challenged myself and my trainer to design a diet and exercise regime that is going to turn on the weight loss engine and get my body and my health back.  We've come up with a tough program of whole foods, lean grilled protein, lots of veggies, and low sugar fruits.  No white flour, corn, rice, potatoes, cake, cookies, ice cream, chocolate... I have to eat 6 times a day and will ration out my metformin from twice a day to four times a day right before meals.

I will let you know how things are going as time moves forward. Wish me luck kind readers, I hope over the course of the next few months I am sharing my success with you.

If you think you may have this condition, I encourage you to do the research, get to your doctor and get this monster under control.   This YouTube Channel has a ton of great information insulin resistance.

Feb 19, 2012

The Face of Jesus

Abigail and Dolley readers about three years ago I was doodling around on the internet and came across a web site on The Shroud of Turin.  The site led to another, which led to another, and as I recall I spent most of that weekend finding out everything that I could about it.  It is a fascinating study where science and history collide in a manner that is not mutually exclusive.  Occasionally, I will Google Search the Shroud of Turin to see if there is anything new and recently came across the six part History Channel special on recreating a 3D face out of the data extrapolated from the Shroud.  I was enthralled, I love this stuff, you know?
(My nine year old said, "That's not Jesus, that's Desmond!")
I watched all six parts, I wanted to savor the journey.  I wanted to make the discoveries on the way with the film makers.  The film itself is basic facts and history, sort of a Shroud 101 but the purpose is not a new analysis of the cloth, it is about trying to build the face of the Lord.  I enjoyed it tremendously.

I will not post a spoiler face as I encourage you to take the journey yourself.  For me, a few things emerged, that I would like to share.  First of all, the Jesus is a Jewish man.  Now I knew this intellectually but for some reason the mental image I had in my head was the Hollywood version of Christ.  Second, was that when they revealed him at the end of the film my breath was taken away and my first thought was, "I know you!"  I knew him on an elemental level that is beyond description.  I knew him in my Soul.

Feb 18, 2012

The World's Greatest Pancakes

Abigail and Dolley readers I wish to share with you the ultimate pancake recipe.  Developed over the years, I would put these wonderful little cakes of deliciousness up against any and all comers.  I have to admit that my pancakes were not always spectacular.  Actually, my first solo attempt has become a family legend, told and retold by my Dad, who was the victim of the first disaster.

It was the Spring of 1977 and I was 8 years old.  My Mom and Sister were out of town and Dad and I were flying solo for a week.  I was excited to have him all to myself and was determined to impress him with my new found culinary skills.  I got up early that first Monday morning and decided to make pancakes for breakfast.  I believe the batter was just right but I erred on the cooking technique.  The pancakes all ran together and formed a giant skillet size cake about 2 inches thick.  Flipping it was a bit of a task but I managed.

I proudly presented a black on one side (which I plated face down...) monstrosity for his eating pleasure.  He smiled encouragingly and accepted the syrup I offered him.  His smile turned to a grimace through the first bite which we discovered was raw... I don't know how he did it but he ate a respectable amount before we left for work and school.  In the car, he casually suggested we eat cereal for the rest of the week until Mom got home, I agreed.

As the weeks went on, he began to tease me about my pancakes.  The pancake grew to epic proportions of awfulness, it was ribbing done in good fun, tempered with love, and it never hurt my feelings.  Over the years, at any mention of pancakes, he would give me a look, crack a joke, or generally razz me about my first real culinary debacle.  Perhaps I developed this recipe over the years out of some deep psychological need to make my Dad proud of me or perhaps, and more likely, I did it because I really love pancakes...

Flap Jacks

1 c of Regular Bisquick or Jiffy Baking Mix
1 c of Gluten Free Bisquick
3 tbl of Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 2/3 c of Milk
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tbl of Lemon Juice

Vegetable or Corn Oil and Butter - for cooking (don't mix in batter)

Mix all dry ingredients together, hollow out a "lake" for the wet ingredients.  Stir a few times, just enough to incorporate everything.  Batter will be relatively thin and lumpy - don't over mix.  Depending on the humidity the batter might need a little more Bisquick or a little more milk, I just can't teach or write that, it becomes something you know.  In a large skillet, over medium heat, combine oil and butter on a one to one ratio.  Ladle about a quarter cup for each pancake.  Flip when the edges look dry.

Top with syrup and enjoy.  Serve with bacon or sausage to prevent a diabetic coma.

This recipe makes about 20 pancakes and the left overs can be refrigerated or frozen for a quick breakfast on the run.  

Enjoy, my friends!

Feb 14, 2012

Bestest Buddies - Forever

Abigail and Dolley readers I read recently that many scientist believe that our most painful memories are stored in one spot in the brain.  It's a dark corner, with a closed door, bolted shut and rarely, if ever, accessed.  That is until something happens that needs to go into that spot.  For me, the death of my Dad has slung the door wide open.  Anguish long forgiven and forgotten is as real to me as it was when I was 12 years old.  Perhaps only children of divorce can understand how painful those memories can be, but this is not a blog about pain.  Nor is it one about divorce or grieving, this is a story about friendship.  I'd like to share with you an extraordinary tale of God's wisdom, mercy, and care and how He looked down on two of His daughters and blessed them with each other.

It was the late Spring 1981, my world was a disaster and my family was in shambles.  All hope of reconciliation between my parents was gone and without going into the gory details, it was ugly.  Uprooted, heart broken, and completely friendless I found myself in a new city, a new house, and a new school.  I was 13, which is a horrible age to be a girl under normal circumstances, let alone the ones that were facing me.

I'd been there about two weeks, rattling around and moping.  My Mom asked the neighbor if her daughter would come introduce herself because, in her words, "All Dolley is doing is cooking, and eating, and getting fat!"  One day, the doorbell rang and there she stood, "Hey, I'm Abigail, I live next door.  Do you want to come over and listen to some records or something?"  She teases now, that I beat her over to her house.

Over the Summer, Abigail and I bonded stronger than any two friends, ever.  She was a year older than me and a couple years further down the divorce road.  Our situations were eerily similar and in a world of uncertainty, in a world of abandonment and pain, we became each others strength.  We didn't talk much about how we felt, we were kids, we did not have the intellectual or emotional capacity to deal with what was swirling around us.

Ironically, if I had to describe the Summer of 1981 with one word it would be laughter. We laughed every day, all day.  We made up our own language, we went to the mall specifically to laugh at the people.  We listened to Bill Cosby's "Noah" album until every word was memorized.  We told each other stories and we would fall out in fits of hysterical laughter constantly.

We settled into a routine that had us together from morning until the wee hours.  We loved each other best in the world, we knew we were never going to let each other down, we knew we could count on one another.  Abigail is fierce and feisty, Dolley was not.  She fought for me, she stood up for me, she protected me from the other hateful teenage girls in the neighborhood.  No friend had ever done that for me before, ever.

Her family moved to a new house about 10 miles away, but that did not stop us.  She would just ride the bus home to my neighborhood and spend the weekend.  I don't remember, but our Mothers must have decided they were going to accommodate us and they did. Since she was a year older than me, she went to the High School and I to the Middle School, this was tough.

This part is hard to write, after 30 years I can still feel the pain.  Toward the end of the Summer in 1982, my folks decided it would be best if I left Houston and moved back to Charlotte to live with my Dad.  I fought them with everything that was in me.  I had made a life, I had settled in, I made new friends, and I had Abigail.  Nothing I said or did would change their minds.

On top of loosing my family, on top of having my life torn asunder, not once but twice, I was being forced to leave.  To go back to a school where everyone remembered me as a bit of a geek, not the cool kid I was in Houston, where my friends had turned on me over and over again, and where Abigail would not be beside me ready to knock someone's block off.  I was going to loose the person I loved most in the world, my Bestest Buddy.

I had a week, one last week.  It was like being in the hospital with a critically ill loved one.  I moved like I was in a daze.  When we weren't together, we were on the phone - crying and promising that we wouldn't let 1100 miles get between us.  The picture was taken the last day I lived in Houston, there is a sadness about our eyes that defies words.  The back of the photo reads, Bestest Buddies - Forever.

In the weeks after, my Dad would find me crying in my room.  He told me I would have friends come and go in my life and that in a few years we probably wouldn't even talk.  I sobbed that he was wrong and that he just did not understand; I know now that he couldn't have possibly understood.

In spite of all odds, in spite of long distance phone calls costing a fortune (and boy did we get in trouble for those calls), in spite of the distance, we stayed friends.  We would live for the times when I would visit my Mom, I think I looked more forward to being with Abigail.

As we grew up, our lives paralleled in many ways.  The major one was that we both rededicated our lives to the Lord in 1998.  At a time where none of my other friends understood the new rebirth and the passionate love for Jesus that you feel as a new Born Again Christian, Abigail understood.  We shared that with each other along with marriage and children.

31 years later, we are still Bestest Buddies.  She called me the morning my Dad died and prayed with me on the phone as I drove to the hospital.  She called me today, to check up on me and to tell me she was sorry I was grieving my Dad and wished she was here to hug my neck.  At her wedding, I smiled at her Mother and asked her if she thought that after all the years that we would still be friends, she smiled brightly and said, "You two are soul sisters, Dolley.  It doesn't surprise me a bit."

Jan 29, 2012

What I Have Learned About Life While Running

Abigail and Dolley readers I am not a natural runner, I am a natural cookie baker and couch snuggler.  I have a love/hate relationship with exercise... I never WANT to do it but usually makes me feel good afterward and I am vain enough to realize that if I want to stay in a reasonable dress size, I have to do it.  I try to motivate myself with cute running clothes, new iPod music, and a heart rate monitor that measures my performance.

I decided last May that I was going to learn to run and believe me, I use the term run very loosely.  When I run, I look like a defensive lineman that suddenly finds himself holding the ball and needs to run down the field for a touchdown, it is not pretty.  I have done the research (of course I have) and intellectually know all about Good Form Running, Chi Running, and 180 footfalls per minute running.  I know how to do it, I just suck at it.

Some days I go out and it is like I am running through jello.  I can't breathe, my heart rate goes through the roof, and my body feels like I weigh 300 pounds.  Other days, I am stronger and every once in a while I can catch a rhythm.  All in all, I am really slow and it is embarrassing how long it takes me to pass a walker.  Inevitably, I have to speed up so much, to not look like a dork, that once I pass the walker, I can no longer breathe and end up walking a few steps just so I don't pass out....

I went out today, to my favorite spot.  I run 4 miles or shall I say I jog, walk, run 4 miles.  It was a beautiful day and I hit the trail.  I am always quite optimistic when I start, the first mile will usually determine if its going to be a good one or a jello one.  It was a decent one.  As I was finishing the last half mile, I knew I wasn't going to beat my record but I had a shot at a respectable time and I started thinking about all I had learned about myself and about life through running.  In no particular order, these are some:

  1. You can not cry and run at the same time.  I learned that the day my Grandma died.
  2. You can intellectually know how to do something but still not do it well.
  3. Progress is slow.
  4. Some days everything is going for you and your performance sucks.
  5. Other days, you head out hurting and in a rotten mood and beat your best time.
  6. You can go farther and work harder than you think you can.
  7. You can take way more pain than you ever thought possible.
  8. Cute running outfits don't improve performance but new shoes do.
  9. Always go to the bathroom before you get out on the trail.
  10. It is easier running in cool weather but the trail is prettier when it is hot and muggy.
  11. It doesn't matter how hard you are breathing, everybody has in headphones.
  12. If one part of the trail is flooded, there is a good chance that so are others - turn around!
  13. God hangs out on the jogging trail, he'll run beside you if you let Him.
So I keep at it and I hope one day to actually be good at it but I am not holding my breath.

Jan 28, 2012

GOP Media Betrayal

Abigail and Dolley have you ever seen such a spectacle as we have witnessed in the past month?  Tried and true, trusted media outlets, commentators, and institutions have betrayed the faith we have placed in them.  It is baffling and disconcerting to realize that there is almost no one left to turn for news that is not propaganda force fed to us by a GOP establishment bent on their own power and control.  No where is this more evident than at Fox News; with the exception of Greta, Hannity, and Brett who are still playing it straight.

Rush has said for years, the reason he lives in Florida and not NYC or DC is that being human, you want to hang out in your social group.  You want to be liked and respected, you want to be invited to the right parties, you can not help it you are human.  What is the best way to fit in?  You must conform to the crowd, you remember high school?  Well, we don't change that much.

The truly shocking thing to me is the vitriol directed at Newt, as if he was the enemy.  Really?  When did a Conservative Icon become the enemy?  When did one of the greatest idea man of our age become worse than BHO?  I just shake my head and say that we are indeed living in strange times.

There are several that have struck a deep chord in me and my trust and respect in them is gone forever:  Beck, Coulter, Hume, and Drudge.  Thank God for Rush and Brietbart...

Jan 18, 2012

Mourning My Dad

Mourning my Dad is hard work.  Being who I am, ya'll know I have done my research on grief.  I do not expect that I will go through all the stages in perfect order, nor do I think there will be a timetable.  I merely wanted to understand what was coming my way.  I'm still in the shock and disbelief stage right now, it is hard for me to fathom a world where Jack Robinson is not here.

The grief comes in waves and I am comforted by talking about him, comforted by writing about him.  Nobody is sick of me yet, so I am taking advantage of their sympathetic ears while they are willing to listen to me.  I am in regular contact with all of my family, even my extended family is feeling the loss of such a good man.

In the days leading up to the funeral, I had to think about what I was going to say.  Each Daughter had a minute or two to say something about him and I struggled with what I could possibly convey in such a short period of time.  The night before the funeral, I was talking with some of the family and feel like the Lord laid on my heart that I should tell folks how Dad mirrored God the Father.  This is what I said:

"When I was four years old, someone pointed to picture of a man I did not know and asked who he was.  The answer was "The best man at Jack and Pat's wedding".  I was appalled and quickly spoke up saying, "MY Daddy was the Best Man at that wedding!"  I believe I speak for all of us girls, when I say we all felt the same way.  Dad was one of the rare people in this life that preached the Gospel without saying a word.  He modeled Godly behavior to all of us and especially showed us what a loving Father was like.  As a result, I have a wonderful relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I understand the reverential fear that the Proverbs speak of.  I understand the protectiveness and intense love that He feels for me and how no matter how bad I screw up, I can never loose his love.  I understand loving discipline and even at my age Dad would come and talk to me if he did not agree with something I was doing.  I carry with me a fierce desire to make Him proud of me.

Everyday, when I pray the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father" carries with it all the warmth and love that it is supposed to and I have my Daddy to thank for that."

In the days that have passed, I realized that my relationship with the Lord has been primarily with Jesus.  My prayers, my conversations, my images - they were all about and to Jesus.  The other night as I was praying, I felt a strong presence of God the Father and was comforted beyond measure.  When I was feeling bruised and battered and buffeted by guilt and regret, I felt the protective hand of the Father on my behalf and I was safe.  I will trust in this process, I will thank God for his provision, and I will rest while He keeps watch.

Jan 8, 2012

Jack Robinson - A Tribute

Abigail and Dolley readers my Dad, Jack Robinson went to be with the Lord on Friday, January 6, 2012.  He leaves behind a powerful legacy and he was an exemplary man who deserves a tribute.  I figured in the trillions of pieces of data on the internet, such a fine man deserves a few, so I will endeavor to do him justice.  For the purpose of this blog, I will not attempt to write a biography but instead I'd like to pay tribute to his life from a daughter's perspective.

Jack Robinson and Family
Dad was one of those rare men who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ without speaking a word, he lived it.  The Holy Spirit resided quietly behind his kind brown eyes.  He was a church going man but was never "religious".  He dragged me out of bed every Sunday for the entire 18 years I lived under his roof and believe me I complained almost every Sunday.  He never wavered.  His favorite Scripture was Rev 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  He realized that salvation was each individual's choice and he loved the below picture and would always point out that Jesus did not have a door knob on his side of the door.


He was honest and demonstrated it to me one Christmas when a store clerk gave him too much change.  Times were lean that winter and he loaded me back up in the van and drove back to the crowded mall to return the extra cash.  I groused about going back and told him he should just keep the money since it had not been his fault.  He shrugged and said, "That would be stealing.  How is it different than if I would have gone in and taken it from the register?"  Several months ago, I was faced with the same situation and after an internal struggle handed the extra money back to the surprised cashier who commented on my honesty.  I just smiled and said, "I was raised that way."

Jack Robinson was a smart guy and well respected in the field of mechanical engineering.  His name is on several pattens and a report he did was presented before Congress but you would never know it by talking to him.  He was quite humble and always praised others intelligence while never bragging on himself.  My 10 year old son commented the other day that his Grandpa Jack had known how to do all kinds of stuff but he never bragged.  That is indeed some of the highest praise a boy can give a man.

When I was 12, my Sunday School Class needed a teacher so I volunteered him.  He taught for most of the next 31 years.  Dad opened the Bible to dozens of students, young and old, who gained an understanding and appreciation for God's Word in ways that they never would have without him.  He took his role as a teacher seriously and would make time during the week to prepare and plan his lesson for the following Sunday.  One of his concerns after his heart attack was that somebody needed to take care of his class.  He was especially intrigued and interested in eschatology and my husband and I both share a wonderful memory of the day he came over with his charts and bible verses and explained the sequence of events in End Times Prophecy.
Dad and me with his Mom and Dad

We shared a love of science and the study of God's world.  We could talk for hours about the proofs for a young Earth and a Creator.  While he was in the hospital, we spoke of the marvels of the human body and its intricacies. We were blessed with several hours to just sit and talk, we enjoyed each other.  I know there will be many times over the course of the rest of my life that I will wish my Dad was around to talk about some interesting fact or another.

The Original Captain Jack
Dad was great with kids, his own of course, but also with our friends.  When I was really young, the neighborhood children would hear the rumble of his Dark Green GTO coming down the street and greet him with cries for him to play "Monster".  He'd laugh, his brown eyes sparkling, and give the kids what they were clamoring for by sticking out his long pointed tongue, dragging a leg behind him with arms flalling, all the while growling, "I'm gonna get you kids... Raaaahhhhh!"  Screams of delight mixed with a touch of childish fear filled the neighborhood as the children ran for cover.  The kids loved him.  There was one boy, who had lost his Father in Vietnam, that would come over and ask if "Jack could come out and play?"

Dad was rough and tumble with his girls.  My earliest memory of him is playing, running from him.  If he caught you, you knew you were getting tickled and he was a great tickler.  He wasn't too rough and he didn't hurt you when he tickled you.  I guess he had a lot of practice on his two younger siblings and his four daughters.  He called it "The Claw" and depending on where he was tickling you it changed names, my particular spot was the "Knee Claw".  It would send me into near apoplectic fits of laughter.  He had a weakness though, if you could get to his feet he'd throw all us kids off and run away.  He was so very ticklish on the bottom of his feet.

He was quite gracious and would never mean to hurt your feelings.  He'd praise the worst drawing or eat the worlds most horrible pancakes with a smile.  Jack Robinson took the words, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" to heart and you rarely would hear him speak ill of someone else.  He never engaged in gossip and did not want any part of folks who did.
Daddy's Girl

Dad was a handsome man and the first love of all us girls.  I remember being quite devastated to learn that I would not be allowed to marry him when I grew up.  We adored him and I believe it could be said that we were all "Daddy's Girls".  Many a boy tried but few ever managed to live up to our Dad's example.  He became the model for Manhood but also the living example of our loving Father in Heaven.  I relate to God the Father in a way that would not be possible had my Dad not demonstrated his strong, protective, and fearful love to me. 

He put his family first, always.  He drove older cars so he could afford Christian Schools for us girls.  He faithfully made generous child support payments for many years.  In spite of a divorce, he never abdicated his role as Father in our lives.  He left a job of many years to avoid going overseas.  He demoted himself when he realized the job he had grown into was going to take too much time away from his family.  Engineering changed over the years and he commuted long distances and worked long hours when he had to do so.  He wasn't happy about it but he was a man of honor and he did what he had to do to provide for his family.

God gave Dad four girls and he raised us to be "tough".  We were all athletic, we all played and excelled at sports and he was always there to watch and to teach.  He had a great jump shot and I do not know if I ever won a game of Horse or Cat with him, I don't know if anyone ever did.  He taught me to play softball and must have thrown the softball to me and with me several thousand hours.  He did the same for all of us girls and in later years he got to with my son.

In Canada with his Grandson
One of the greatest honors of my life was to share my precious son with him.  He was Grandpa Jack's boy and quite proud of it.  They got to fish, sharpen knives, build bird houses, and drive the tractor.  They hiked to the Indian Rock and flew through the air on the zip line, then they'd pile up in the man cave upstairs and laugh at the Three Stooges.  There was always a swagger in my son's steps after he spent a few hours with my Dad, he would come home with a confidence and a reassurance of his manhood.  I regret that they will have no more time, but I praise God for the time they had together.  I think all who knew him and loved him are feeling that way.

As he passed away, I was overwhelmed with peace and comfort that he was not dead but alive in Christ.  The blessed assurance of salvation and the peace that surpasses all understanding has sustained me through these difficult days.  I know that he lives in all of us who he loved and loved him back.  His wit, his humor, his intelligence, his faith, and his spirit survive in us.  I will endeavor to do my part in living up to that legacy and honor his memory with my life.
Jack Randall Robinson
  May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.