See Me

Enough will never be enough.....

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

See me not as a stranger but as a potential gift to be opened.

Allow me to show you what beauty I hold inside, keeping in mind that maybe you might have to dig just blow the surface to find them.

Remember………..your best friend was once a stranger like me.

If you already know me and love me, don’t take me for granted.

Don’t skim over my words when I am talking like you can’t wait to interject your own. My words have value and when I share them it’s because I want to give you something of value, for it’s my love that’s behind them.

Listen to me…….Because someday you will only hear an echo where they once were.

There will be a time when you would sell all you have to see my face, hear my voice.

Imagine hearing from me again after I am in Heaven.

Pretend it’s that time the next time you call, or see my face and it’s like the most perfect summer day you ever spent.

Cherish me.

Here me now when I am right here beside you.

My words are some of the best advice you may ever get.

Don’t be too busy dismissing them because after all “it’s just me.”

See me as that new friend you are trying so hard to impress.

Remember all the years I have been here and all the rocky roads my feet have been on right beside you.

Remember me.

Don’t wait for the echo.

Image from Google

Sometimes it takes a Turkey

Tom Kettleman article

Tom Kettleman started showing up last Spring in my hometown of Lodi, California. No one seemed to know where he came from. People learned to watch out for him because he didn’t always use the cross walk, but sometimes he did. Wherever he was, he created a stir. Sometimes he would chase ambulances and patrol cars. I guess they didn’t know whose turf they were on. More often than not he could be found at one of his resting places, behind the parking lot of Lowe’s or hanging out at Panera’s strutting his stuff. Every now and then you could find him behind Wal-Mart. Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento road was where you could usually always see him.

People started looking for him and then posting their pictures of where he was that day. Kids and parents alike fell in love with Tom. He became a very popular guy. He never asked for the notoriety, he was just being himself. But something about Tom seemed to bring people of all different walks of life together. It was a curious phenomenon. People who might never have otherwise met started talking about Tom and where they saw him.

Then came the Facebook fan page which swelled to over 3000 members.

The usual trip to the store was somehow brightened by Tom’s antics, especially when he was show-boating, puffing all his feathers up in grand turkey style, it was really something to see.

People might wonder about how this could happen, but the reason is very simple. Tom gave people something to smile about. He gave me something to smile about all the way in Arizona. He gave a little bit of hope to a weary world. A world worn down by work, stress, horrific events in the news. Tom gave people something of a sense of community that is hard to find these days. I guess you could say that Tom was a little bit of an ambassador in that regard.

Sometimes I find that animals and babies have a way of being much more effective at building bridges between people of all faiths, colors, and economic statures.

Or course, there were the naysayers and the haters of Tom as well. There were cruel comments on Facebook, and those who felt that he was a nuisance, a danger to the community. Wherever good and innocence gather, the minions of negativity always seem to spring up as well. Human nature I suppose.

Now Tom is gone and people are saddened. Others don’t understand the sadness. He was just a turkey after all. But I can say that I will truly miss my brother’s pictures and texts about Tom and where he was that day. I will miss the idea of Tom and how he brought my hometown together. Growing up in Lodi was truly a blessing. We had community, we had closeness. It was a safe place where we could walk the streets at just about any time of day or night without fear.

And yet, this thing with Tom makes me realize that community still exists in Lodi. I can already see the good coming out of it on the Friends of Tom page on Facebook. (which is now open only to invitation from other members.)

You see, sometimes it takes something as silly as a turkey to make people believe in each other and their community again. To see something that was there all along. Sometimes God uses turkeys.

The spirit that brought people together while Tom was here has not left. Let it continue to inspire us all to do something good for each other today and everyday. We love and miss you Tom. Inspire on…….

Tom Kettleman, Ron

Leaving a legacy………..

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This was on our Intel news memorial page today: I didn’t know this gentleman but judging by the many kind comments, he was much-loved. What a wonderful legacy of kindness and character he left. This is what matters after we’re gone…………what kind of a legacy do you want to leave your family? Your friends?  Your community?

Jingyoo Choi was a loving and devoted husband and father. He enjoyed playing golf during his free time. He was a fighter when it came to playing golf. He beat one Intel friend seven straight times but always remembered to cheer his friend up after the game was over. Just last Monday he told this same friend that even with his illness and body condition, he would keep fighting. He never complained through all of his treatments and remained ever optimistic for the future.

He loved traveling the world with his family during his vacations. He had a beautiful voice and sang in the church choir. It was in the church choir in Korea that he met his future wife, Kim. On Sundays he could be heard down the church hallways during choir practice. He was a true friend to all who knew him, and he always had a smile.

After we’re gone the only thing we really leave is our legacy. What kind do we want to leave? What kind of living legacy are we sowing seeds for in the future right now? How would your family change if you weren’t there?
 
I don’t want people to be relieved when I’m gone.
 
We will all leave many things behind, but the things we try so hard to get like money, fame, beauty, recognition won’t matter. It’s the life and laughter we leave behind that will. It’s the time you spent with those you love, the things you did together; things that might have seemed small and everyday at the time, but added up, the effect on a life is monumental.
 
And the thing is, you can only borrow on someone else’s legacy so long, ultimately you have to build your own.
 
So, will you vanish like a vapor, leaving those around you untouched? Will you slip unnoticed through an opening in the hedge, only to have to close right over as if you were never there?
 
Or will there be a glaring absence……a tear in the universe where you once stood? At least to those who loved you and whom you loved in return.
 
Will they say things like:
 
She had the best laugh……..I could always count on her to help…….he was the kindest person I ever knew……she always took time for me…….he didn’t talk at me, he talked to me……she always made me feel important……she opened my eyes to the beauty around me………She took me camping……..he taught me about God.
 
This is what I think……the most powerful legacies left behind will be those who will inspire you to improve even long after they are gone. And the best thing is, it’s never too late to improve while we are still living and breathing.
 

What Matters Most

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How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away; therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:1-6

I was grieved by the news today. We’ve become a nation that now thinks it’s okay to openly negotiate with murders and cold-blooded killers. (I am speaking of the Taliban) Our government traded five notorious radicals that would think nothing of beheading your children, your elderly parents, your wife, your husband, your best friend, for a U.S. soldier who went missing as a deserter of his platoon. His own father uttered an Islamic greeting, referring to allah, during the press conference at the White House and he has also said he wants every detainee released from Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Pastor who converted to Christianity, is serving the first year of an 8 year prison term for working with the underground church in Iran and protecting Iranian Christians from persecution. He was also working to open orphanages in Iran. He has endured long stints in solitary confinement, according to his supporters, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates. For months, he has been “denied proper medical attention for his injuries, according to his family and attorneys.”

His wife has repeated appealed to congress and the President for his release with no response.

All this to say, that while events of this world and the news distress us, we shouldn’t be surprised by any of it. Jesus Himself said as such. Instead we need to be focused on keeping our eyes on the One who keeps us in His peace and holds us in His grace. While there is always much to worry and stress about in this life, there is more beauty still.

Lately, my prayer has been that I will wake up before it’s too late. I don’t want to live from weekend to weekend just getting by. Sometimes, those of us with particularly stressful jobs (and really, who doesn’t?) put ourselves on autopilot. When we do that, we fail to really see the people and situations around us.

There is so much to be thankful for every day. Time is flying by at warped speed and I don’t want to miss what God has for me. No matter what we might think about the current political climate, with eternity’s values in view, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is our relationship to our Father and to each other.

And love, love always matters most of all.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

 

When God sounds a lot like your Mom

 

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Fresh off a morning commute, shouldering my bag, my backpack, everything necessary to supply me with what I might need for a 12 hour day. Grumbling a bit in my head, wishing I were home to enjoy the beautiful morning from my patio instead of spending it in a room without windows. I heard it……it was the voice I always hear when I hear birds sing.

I hear it especially when I am feeling a bit of regret, or sadness, or feeling a bit sorry for myself. It was my Mom’s voice I heard. And it knocked me for a loop because I had always thought that voice was God’s, but that day, I clearly heard hers.

“But the birds are singing, Lori.” Just that one sentence. Because I know what it costs her to hear them no matter what. My Mom doesn’t have an easy chair life. I have covered that before here in this blog. Though she is 85 she is up with the chickens. Already serving, praying, looking to Him for strength.

It’s hard to imagine just how deep a Mom’s love can go, but I found out a little bit more when I was home last. She was cleaning out the cedar chest, and as each item was lifted out she told the story that went along with it. Among the old report cards and drawings there was a broom I had made out of pine-needles held together with masking tape. “To clean up our camp,” she said. She cradled each item like prized artifacts.

Then, she lifted up a summer jumpsuit in white. I had forgotten all about  it. I could hear her grief all over again as she said, “This is what you came home from Mexico in.” She paused. Where I had faced the biggest grief of my life and hers, for a child’s sorrow is double for the parent. “I had expected you to look half-dead and instead you looked like a beautiful angel.”

As I get older, I see more of her in me. There are things we do just alike. Shape meatloaf for one. We don’t just slap it in a pan, we mix it, and shape it and mold it. And when we look in a mirror, we arrange our faces just so.

And we have a built-in desire to set about making a place homey. She and I bring wineglasses throw-rugs and coffee makers to campsites.

The way we always try to deflect a compliment.

Most of all, what holds our days and our hearts together like a ribbon is prayer. She taught me that.

This day is a day to honor Mother’s everywhere, and I honor her. I thank God for her everyday, that I still have her. I am also aware that there are many for whom this day holds much sadness.

It’s a day they grieve what they never had, or what they had and lost. Mother’s Day was always hard for my Mom. Her Mom wasn’t ever able to give what she needed most. She withheld love and affection, and compliments, though she gave other things.

And today we will see Elaine’s Mom, and that will be hard. We may or may not take her out to lunch. We will see how it goes. With Alzheimer’s you have to be ready for anything.

Mother’s Day has always been fraught with difficulty for her too. Her Mom was never there as a Mom should be. The other day she held up a card at the store with a weight on her shoulders. “This day is always so difficult.” She picked up the one with puppies, “Yes,” we said, “puppies are safe.”

Sometimes Mother’s Day means losing the Mother you never had, and that’s like a double grief isn’t it? But even in that, there is redemption. Because when you allow God to fill you with His grace, you can then hand that out to others. Even others you never received it from.

Today, as I lift up thanks for my own Mom, I pray for all those for whom this day is hard. I pray that God will wash you in His grace and wrap you in His great love.

And listen………for when you hear the birds sing, it’s always God disguised as your Mom.

How to hope after the unthinkable happens

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I saw her as I strolled on the back-forty of my brothers yard a couple of weeks ago in the early morning light. A flash of orange, she (or he) landed first on the fence, then fluttered down to hop among the grass, probably looking for breakfast among the dew. A robin sighting is always hope for me. I snapped her several different times before Tyler managed to scare her away. I couldn’t blame him, his enthusiasm was infectious as he ran to and fro, nose to the ground, seeming to thank me with a glance and wag of his tail every now and then.

Sometimes we need to cling to signs of hope however small when news comes to rock our world. I believe God created birds with a special role, that of singing out hope even when ours has run dry.

I draw back a memory of a time when my world was painted black. The morning after the call came that pulled the curtain down on life as we all knew it, my Mom looked out to see a robin on the grass. He was her little thread of hope and she clung to it. She also remembers thinking that she couldn’t believe the birds were still singing. The audacity of it all. How could they?

The other day as I was praying in the car, a dove came to sit on the lip of my sunroof. He perched there looking at me for a moment, I think we both surprised one another…..then he flew off. I could tell you many more stories than this. Of other times God has sent birds.

Yesterday I got a call that something unthinkable had happened to a family member. From then on my day kind of went on pause mode. I hadn’t seen them in years but we all grew up together as kids. It’s a bond forged by memories and stories and for many years our lives intertwined and we were close. My heart breaks for them, but they’ve always been a strong family. Even now, their house is filled and they are surrounded on all sides with love. For that I am grateful.

There is nothing I could tell them right now that could take away the awful sorrow, and I wouldn’t even pretend to try. If I could I would hold them close and share their tears. I called and left a message on their phone and for the longest time the beep didn’t come to leave a message, so I started talking anyway.

I don’t even remember what I said, I just wanted them to know that they were in my heart. Later, I got a text message from him thanking me for thinking of them. Something he said in his message makes me wonder how it’s possible for someone to not know they are loved despite all the evidence surrounding them? How can we be assured that they know it, and that they love themselves enough to accept it?

And today, when I got up, the doves were cooing, and the birds were singing again, just as if they didn’t know what was going on. They can’t help it, they know the way out of sorrow is to keep singing no matter what, it’s what God created them to do. They know that there is something still worth singing about even if we don’t.

In my heart is a prayer that they will get through this even stronger and that once again hope will be theirs; that they will find a way out of the sorrow with the love they have for one another.

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For Life

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We admire the doves because they mate for life……..as do the albatross, the wolf, the puffin, the penguin, the beaver, the swan, as well as the symbol of our nation, the bald eagle. I have seen their nests, they are incredible……..as big as my volkswagen.

In many of these species, the Dad takes an active role in child rearing, egg hatching and food gathering. The Dads are needed as well as the Moms, as an intergral part of the perfect equation.
 
I look at my Mom and Dad, still together after 60 plus years. In them and so many of their generation, I see the beauty of staying together over the long haul. Most of the time they can still laugh at each other and themselves. They get mad at each other, sometimes really mad, yet through the years they have discovered the beauty of compromise, while somehow managing to keep the integrity of their individuality intact.
  
Now, I hear so many talk of divorce, even in front of the kids. Before they walk down the aisle it’s already a lurking threat, an unspoken presence in the relationship; a reality looming in the minds and hearts of both parties. If it doesn’t work I’ll just bail out.
If they don’t make me happy, I’m outta there.
If I see someone better, younger, fitter…….I’m gone.
Even if It’s not said out loud, it’s a reality just the same. But do we enter a race without first mentally and physically preparing to win?
 
Do we do the same with our careers? Our kids? Even our homes? We worked hard for that degree so we stick out the first year or two of being the low person on the totem pole; we stick with that tough adolescent and love them through to the other side, long enough that we don’t want to strangle them anymore; and we take care of our home in hopes of paying off the mortgage someday.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that there is never an option for divorce. There is abuse, both physical and emotional…….and unfaithfulness, it happens. Or maybe you didn’t even want a divorce, for you it was forever, but it wasn’t for them. And now you are in a living nightmare you never asked for.
  
I don’t know much but I do know a few things about God. I know He’s just and He’s true. And I also know that He would never bless something and call it good without giving us the means to do it successfully for life.
Wisdom begins when we start to see things as God sees them and when we realize we have no hope of carrying if our successfully without His help. 
And when a society as a whole reduces the physical relationship that should be part of marriage between a woman and a man to nothing more than a physical act, perfectly permissible between anyone, at any time; something to laugh at, joke about, even brag about, that society begins to cave in from the inside out.
And the end result for the individual and for the society as a whole will be despair, emptiness, and a longing for something which can never be satisfied, only perpetuated until someone breaks the pattern.
If you are married today, consider it a gift. If you are single, consider that a gift as well. You can have the assurance of knowing that God will supply you with whatever you need to enjoy whatever state you are in.
 
Lastly and most importantly, we all live in the state of His grace. If you are suffering through a divorce, or a broken relationship, or the loss of a loved one; if you’re tired of being single, tired of being married, the way of help is always through Jesus. He always stands ready to give you a new start, a new season of hope.
 
There is always time for a second chance, a new start for each and every season.