Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts and Prayers on the Eve of Daylight Saving Time

So it's the eve of another switch to Daylight Saving Time. I love having more daylight to enjoy after I get home from work but I hate how time changes like this always affect me and throw me off whatever rhythm I have established. Plus I miss that hour of sleep more and more as I grow older.

But really that's not what's on my mind. Yesterday it was all over the news about the 8.9 earthquake in Japan which was bad enough, but then it was followed by a terrifying and deadly tsunami that swallowed up whole villages and everything in its path... and all we could do was watch from the helicopter's point of view as the footage became available. Millions of people don't have power or water and now they are afraid one of the nuclear reactors will have a meltdown. They're even broadcasting a cartoon on Japanese TV that shows people what to wear to protect themselves from fallout. Unreal and hard to ignore.

And yet we go on with our lives as if everything was normal. Even the Santa Cruz Harbor sustained an estimated $14 million in damages. The surge was only 3 feet high but it did that much damage. That was a deadly earthquake and tsunami that reverberated across the Pacific Basin to Hawaii causing flooding in Maui and damage on other islands; then at speeds of over 500 mph it launched across to the west coast of the United States. Four people were washed out to sea because they were too close to the shore, ignoring the warnings of everyone in the emergency services and the police departments that told them not to go there. What is this morbid fascination we have with things like this?

Coverage of Santa Cruz Harbor damage was even nationwide as NBC Nightly News did a live report from there. Ironic thing is the reporter was a guy who used to work as a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Salinas, so he is familiar with the area.

I decided to take some time off from work to de-stress and I couldn't stop watching the news coverage all day yesterday. I don't have cable so I watched what I could online. There were a lot of live broadcasts to be found because of the sheer magnitude of the story. The death toll is already over 1000 and it will likely be much more when all is said and done... which will take a long time to sort out. It's overwhelming to me and I'm just an observer. I cannot begin to imagine what those people who have thus far survived
(I know that sounds weird but there will be more fatalities unfortunately) are feeling, thinking, wondering and all the trauma they are experiencing right this moment.

Thing is, how can anyone see all that this world is going through and not wonder about our own mortality? How can anyone not wonder what is really going on here? The Bible foretells of these things happening in the last days. The days before Jesus returns to the earth to take His bride off of this earth and up to His home and their home in heaven with Him. His bride consists of those who are His church, the ones who have put their faith in Him and believe in what He did on the cross at Calvary... that finished work that makes the believer in Jesus Christ fully pardoned from their sin.

Jesus is the answer to all that ails this world. Jesus is the answer for those people living in the uncertain aftermath of the devastation and terror of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan. Jesus is the answer for anyone who will honestly say that they are a sinner and in need of forgiveness by God. There is none righteous, not one, the Bible tells us. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. God loved us so much that He saw our condition in sin and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to live a sinless life and die in the place of every soul.

I can't help but think that God is trying to get our attention. My prayer tonight is that many will turn to Him and really seek Him while He may be found. And that we, His bride, will take our calling more seriously than ever before. These are perilous times. That's what Pastor Ted has been telling us at church for weeks. The time is short and the time is now.

It is hard for me to ignore these "birth pangs" that are happening all around us in the world. May the Lord, our God and Creator stir the hearts of all the people to look to Him. May He soften hearts that are hardened to their own sin and to their own need for His grace, His atonement and His love in their lives. I don't have the answers, but I know the One who does. Without Him, there is no hope.

May God have mercy on the weary souls who need His touch right now. May He make His love and His presence known to them even now. May the people turn to Him and bow their knees and hearts to the One who loves them more than they could ever imagine or hope to be loved.

None of us knows if we even have a tomorrow. Now is the time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand and join me in the singing of our National Anthem

Last night I watched the Opening Game of the 2010 NFL Season. There was all the accompanying hoopla and hype. There was also the singing of the National Anthem. The singer was Colbie Callait. I don't really keep up with the current contemporary music of the day so I am not familiar with her music. However, her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was painful to me. Too many times I have seen and heard our National Anthem torn to shreds by artists who put their own spin on it. I say enough is enough.

I am of the persuasion that our National Anthem should be sung as it was written to be sung. This is a tradition that should not be changed. Do you see any other countries changing how their anthems are sung or performed? I doubt it. There is a reason for that.

I think it's okay to put a personal leaning on it, but not to the point where it is unrecognizable as our National Anthem. It is not just another song. It is a poem that was written by Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key from a British naval ship during the War of 1812, where he had been sent to secure the release of a Maryland doctor who was being held there. The British had captured Washington, DC and were marching toward Baltimore but had to go through Fort McHenry to do it.

His historic poem is actually a question to the listener, "Please tell me, can you still see our flag?" on the morning after the battle, which raged through the night. He heard bomb blast after bomb blast and saw the rockets racing through the sky, and was anxious to know if Fort McHenry had been able to hold off the British. When he saw the flag flying over the Fort, he was inspired and wrote his poem, which was set to music and eventually became our "Star Spangled Banner" National Anthem.

It is by and large one of the most difficult songs to sing and it takes a skilled singer to do it justice. I believe that is part of the reason why it should remain as it was originally penned and set to music. The challenge of the song is well befitting the challenge that faced those brave souls at Fort McHenry that night. And it is well befitting the challenges that faced our brave souls who have fought in the past and those who fight in the present and will fight in the future... to secure the blessings of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. My father, God rest his soul, served in the US Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. As an Army brat, I have been raised to respect and honor what our military has done and to be a patriot.

It is merely a song, yes. But it represents the core of bravery, courage under fire, heroism in the face of mortal danger... the core upon which this country was founded. It is a core that we must not forget.

Ultimately, that is why I believe the Star Spangled Banner should be regarded with honor and dignity, with all due respect to its originator and author... and why every effort should be made to preserve it intact. And I believe that as some have suggested, the National Anthem should be sung by all when it is sung at the opening of ball games across this country. We could all use practice and maybe, just maybe it will have the effect it was originally intended to have. One of pride and patriotism. One of stepping up to the plate. One of heroism in a day and age where fake heroes are made in Hollywood and the real ones live daily lives of anonymity.

The real heroes are on the battlefield. The real heroes are in our schools, still teaching our children when the odds are stacked against them. The real heroes are raising kids at home. The real heroes are serving others who need a helping hand. The real heroes are everyday people. The ones who show up day after day and do whatever it takes to keep their families fed, clothed, warm and dry. The real heroes are the ones who get kicked in the teeth and knocked off their feet but they get back up to fight another day. The real heroes are moms, dads, sisters, brothers... all the people that shape our lives so that we can become the best we can be.

Yes, our country has had its share of problems and some of its history is downright shameful. However, there is so much about this country's rich history that is good. I, for one, want to remember it and believe it is important to pass on from generation to generation. I think it is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water by just chucking it all for something new.

Some things are better left in their original state. Such is the Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.

God bless America.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Proud to be a Who Dat... even prouder of Sean Payton

I just finished reading Sean Payton's book "Home Team." It is not reaching to say that the book is both easy and satisfying to read... especially if you are a Who Dat.

We members of the Who Dat Nation are standing tall and proud because our beloved team has done what we have all dreamed they would do for as long as we have loved them. It has brought us to an even higher plane of our Who Dat-dom.

Once upon a time, we hoped against hope. We became accustomed to the usual letdown at the end of each season as we said to ourselves, "There's always next year." Not so anymore.

Sean Payton has captured the essence of his own personal journey from the beginning in 2005 when he was hired by Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson to be the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. The rookie head coach of a team whose future was marked with uncertainty and whose past had been plagued by great misfortune and disappointment.

As I turned the pages of this page-turner book of Payton's, it dawned on me that he was letting me in on some things that were so far on the inside of the Saints organization that I felt honored to be reading it all. I found Sean to be humorous and humble, yet confident and daring all at once. Nobody I have ever seen coach a professional football team has ever captivated me like Sean Payton. He's got moxy and style. He's got cajones... major ones. And he's got quiet strength that is overshadowed by the public persona that comes with being an NFL team coach, much less the Super Bowl Champions head coach. I like that he wants his book to be like a conversation he would have in an airport bar with someone, just one on one. That's the kind of personable guy he is. That makes me love him even more.

Some of what he wrote did not come as a surprise because I had already seen it and heard it on (AKA, my beloved Saints fan website. That's pretty astonishing to me because I live far away from NOLA and the Saints stomping grounds. But because of the kindness and hard work of people like james_k_p, St.Chadwick, Kfran, mvtrucking and so many others on this wonderful forum, I got to stay very well-informed and I even got to see every single preseason game, every season game, tons of interviews and local news videos.... all this and so much more. How happy did that make me as a 28-year fan and member of the Who Dat Nation... someone who has never set foot in NOLA (yet) or been to the Superdome? Let me tell you, I have been floating on cloud 9 ever since I found this website and all the friendly Who Dats who are frequent fliers there!

Every week as our team played game after game, I had some great new photo(s) to put up on display in my office. Some of my favorites were the photoshops that somebody did of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick standing on the sidelines during their humiliating defeat on MNF at the Dome. The caption in the balloon above Brady's head read, "Maybe I'm not the best..." and above Belichick's another balloon read "Who Dat." And of course, who can forget the photoshop of a very angry Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith throwing his headset but you didn't see the headset hit the ground, you only saw Matt Ryan crawling on the ground under the raised hand of Smith, looking as if he was getting whipped by his own miserable, pathetic, anger-management-candidate coach. Brilliant stuff.

Every week I got to talk about the game with the guys at work and tell them things they did not know about the Saints and about the game they just played. It was awesome!

But, I digress... back to Payton's book. Tonight as I finished and read the team rosters of the 2006 Saints team and the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV Saints roster, I began to cry. My emotions surprised me as I looked at the names of each player from the 2006 season, who were not there for the Big Show in Miami... but who had been a part of the beginning stages of this incredible team. And my eyes filled with tears. I cannot tell you exactly why I was crying, or why I cry whenever I watch the games again that were so full of emotion.. the NFCCG against the Vikings and Hartley's winning FG that sent us to the Super Bowl... the QB sneak that Drew did in Miami followed by his great dunk over the crossbar of the goal post... Shockey's first TD catch against the Lions in week 1... Meachem's thievery of the previously-intercepted pass to run it back for a momentum-changing TD... so many incredible moments that take my breath away, make me so proud and bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Sean Payton did a great job with his book. It is definitely a must-read for all Who Dats. You must read this book.

So, I just finished it and was inspired to blog about it. I hope others do the same.

Here's to another magnificent season and run for the prize of another Lombardi for the Saints and NOLA!!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The River of Life

Sometimes life flows and you just go with it. Other times there's a bend in the river and you are taken off track from where you thought you were headed. And sometimes there is a sudden increase in speed and you find yourself breathless from trying to keep your head above the water. Every once in a while, there's a pool where you can just be calm and still.

No matter what the flow is like, even, twisting and turning, tumultuous or limpid, I find it changes me along with its changes. I can only but trust those changes are what have been divinely appointed for me.

For I have no control over the river of life. I know it begins, has a constant ebb and flow, sometimes floods and other times trickles, and still other times falls over the cliff in a waterfall deluge... all leading to the end.

What happens then I cannot but imagine. I only know that my God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I only know that He holds my times in His hands. I only know that He loves me with an everlasting love. This is enough for me.

What is past is past, what is present is present, what is to come is a mystery that thrills my soul to think about it. This life is not the end-all, be-all. It is only my soul's journey to my soul's destination: my home in heaven with my beloved Savior and Lord Jesus.

More and more I think about that place that He is preparing for me, and I yearn for it with earnest. I have been blessed with many things and much love in this life. But none of it compares to what I will be blessed with when I see my God face to face; when I will be like Him. Those who don't know Him or doubt Him or deny Him cannot understand this home of which I speak; this hope that carries me from day to day, this promise to one day be united with Him for all eternity. But that's alright.

Each one must come to terms with Jesus on their own and in their own time. But each one will, eventually. Each one will bow their knees and each one will verbally confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. It will happen. I only pray that they have come to know Him as the Lover and Redeemer of their souls and the Lord of their lives by that time.

Every day the world gets darker with violence and ungodly remedies for life. Every day the worst comes out in man. It is not anything new, it is just amplified by our technology and our culture. Our lifestyles smack of selfishness and greed. People are made homeless paupers by the greed of the rich who are insatiable in their quest for more riches. Nobody cares about God anymore. Not like before. It's different. They deny Him. They mock His people. They laugh to scorn anything having to do with Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. The One Who came so that they could be forgiven through His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary; shed blood and poured out life for the sins of the world; all because of His undying love for us.

But they are not interested in acknowledging their sin. They want their way. As we all did before we knew the truth of who we are (those of us who have believed on Jesus Christ to the saving of our souls). We are hopeless and eternally lost without Him. Because we always want our way. And our way is the way of death. There is no hope for the one who denies God. Even the demons know God is who He says He is... and they tremble.

The Bible is an amazing book... because it is the very Word of God. The letter written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit... which conveys who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. Anyone who reads it with an open heart, with a thirst for knowledge of the truth... they will find God. The One true living God. One who reads it any other way will not. They will find themselves growing angrier and angrier as they are faced with the truth of their own sin (because truth is truth), but they will not accept it. Their hearts will be hardened and grow cold to the point of no return. Those are the ones who have sealed their own fate. They do not choose freedom, truth, liberty, forgiveness and eternal life through the confession of their own sin and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior. They instead choose their own way. If one does not choose eternal life, then one chooses eternal judgment for their sins. The only way to escape that judgment is to admit that they are sinners, admit they need forgiveness and accept Jesus and His gift of eternal life. That's all they have to do.

But we are all stubborn, willful and prideful. We are lost in our own folly without the light of God in our lives. Thank God He is persistent and continues to beckon us and draw us to Him with cords of lovingkindness. Oh, that man would give thanks to God for His mercy endures forever!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am feeling the urge to write again after a long hiatus. Much in life has changed and I find myself wondering where it will all lead. The time of balancing the state budget is at hand and yet the status quo inexplicably continues despite the desperate economic and fiscal state of our state. Will they ever get their act together? Will they ever care how much each day they don't get their job done it hurts us (the people)? I doubt it. Yes, cynicism has set in and will not be easily assuaged. Ahh... such is the plight of the forlorn and demonized state worker. It's really not our fault you know.

I'm leaving for Washington to visit my daughter and granddaughter again. It's been 2 years and I can hardly believe it. It's time. Much to do and lots of hugs and kisses to be given my sweet girls!

Planning, packing, getting last minute errands done before I leave. It will be good to see them. More to come later...

That's all for now...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trip notes

Firstly, I must say that my visit with my daughter and her family was the best ever. Enjoyed spending time with them and just relaxing in a picturesque setting that was sun-drenched and delightfully warm, but not too warm for the most part. Hey, like my daughter said, "We love the sun in Washington, since we are so sun-deprived most of the year!" Everyone's doing well and I'm so glad I got to visit them.

My granddaughter is very musical and now has a harmonica to play (which she's picking up quite naturally, much to my delight!). I tried my best to take in and soak up every moment we spent together; she's growing up so quickly.
Now... on to some observations from my travels. I am a people-watcher. During my layovers I learned a few things about myself. I like my personal "space" and prefer to sit in less populated areas. I don't mind chatting with someone if I am in the mood, but travelling is wearying these days and I would much rather read my book or catch a bit of the news on tvs that are mounted here and there in the terminals.

Sometimes I just like to sit and stare. It can be very therapeutic when you're just tired. Try it sometime. Don't stare at anything in particular... just stare blankly, with no visual focal point; and just breathe deeply. It's relaxing on the eyes, body and nerves. It's like the stare that you get just before your eyelids close and you don't even know they've closed. That kind of stare.

And, no, I am not talking about going to your "happy place." This is simply staring for the sake of staring. Got it? I highly recommend it; especially after you've been cooped up in a plane and have 1 of 2 choices: stare at the back of the seat in front of you, or sleep. I guess you could read or listen to music or use some electronic device once the flight attendant gives you the "all clear." Okay, so there are more than 1 or 2 choices. My point is... what was my point (oh, the joys of getting older and short term memory loss)? Oh yeah, it just feels good to have my eyes look beyond the seatback in front of me, so that kind of staring is relaxing. But, I digress...

There are many sounds and noises to be heard while one is sitting and staring blankly at the airport on layovers. The constant drone of people walking past, the boarding announcements over the intercoms, the at first startling and then annoying cries of overtired children who cannot nap or run amok as they would love to because their beleaguered parents are just doing their darndest to make it through the next leg of their flight. The children only know they are not happy (miserable) and their parents only know they must reach their destination without doing something horridly embarrassing in public they might regret (yes, parents are only human). Oh, I do not miss those days. I never took my children on any flights (lucky me). Just road trips... but that's another blog subject for another day.

The most annoying sound I heard was the incessant beep, beep, beep of the trams they use to transport folks who need a break from walking (physically challenged, parents of small children or many children, etc.) and have a substantial distance to get to their next departure gate. I did finally get used to the beeping, but then one lady driving a tram decided to honk her horn as well; while she serpentined her tram behind, bulldozed her way through and left behind the unsuspecting pedestrians she honked at, barely easing up on the accelerator to allow room for said pedestrians to move out of her way. So it was beep, beep, beep, honk-honk, beep, honk-honk-honk, beep, beep as she approached, and so on until she was out of earshot! That's enough to make someone go over the edge.

The most memorable part of my travel was on the 2nd leg of my flight, from Seattle to LAX. The plane was piloted by a father/son team. The pilot (father) was flying his last flight and then retiring. He gave us a very smooth flight and even made a turn around Mt. St. Helens so that both sides of the plane could catch a glimpse as we flew over.

As we were preparing to land at LAX, the flight attendant announced that upon landing the plane would be hosed off with water by a couple of LAX fire engines; but that there was no cause for concern: we weren't on fire. It was just a tradition for pilots on their last flight to have their plane hosed off on the runway as they taxied to the gate on their final landing. Needless to say, there was much excitement and applause by the passengers as we received our official "hosing down" there on the tarmac.

I was quite amused by the woman sitting in front of me as she was having a great time during the flight, chatting it up loudly with the man sitting on the end of her row (they were separated by a seat). She had imbibed at least 2 Screwdrivers and became louder and more animated and boisterous as the flight progressed. When the announcement was made about the "hosing" tradition, she yelled, "Hey everyone, we're history!" I'm sure she meant we were taking part in something historic, but those were her words nonetheless.

She then said, "Isn't it a tradition to kiss the pilot on his last flight?" As she got up from her seat after the flight, she said, "I'm going for it!" She nearly ran down the aisle to where the pilot was standing at the door and repeated, "I think it's a tradition to kiss the pilot on his last flight!" as her lips met the lips of the willing and smiling pilot; then dashed off just as fast as she'd arrived. He was still grinning ear to ear as I wished him a happy retirement shortly after his traditional retirement kiss. All in all, a very unusal but enjoyable and entertaining experience. Historic, in fact.

That's all for now...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation = Great; Travel = Not so much

I am preparing for vacation at my daughter's in Washington near the US/Canadian border. While I look forward to my visit with her and my granddaughter, I am dreading the flights and the process that entails.

Don't get me wrong--I am happy to be able to travel what with all the skyrocketing fuel costs and such. I planned this trip back in March and it has paid off in grand fashion. It couldn't be a better time to not be at work. The weather's getting hotter and I returned to my office after a lovely 3-day holiday weekend to discover that the air conditioning is malfunctioning. In my office and the offices adjacent to mine, it is hot and stuffy and I find the fan is my very best friend on this typically Monday-ish Monday.

But, all one has to do is open my office door and the refreshing air conditioning in the hallway is reminiscent of the old York Peppermint Patty commercials that depicted people being hit by a refreshing cold blast of arctic air as they savored their dark chocolate covered peppermint candy. Yum, that sounds good right now... but I digress.

The engineer from the maintenance department tells me the climate control computer and probably a motor and/or a fan belt are likely the culprits in our sweaty situation. Suffice it to say that my nickname for our building seems more apropos than ever: shake and bake. It's either too cold or too hot depending on where your office is. Yes, I am glad to leave that stuffy, sweaty office behind for a few days.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: it will be well worth it when I see my daughter and granddaughter at the airport in Bellingham, WA and my real vacation begins!

Think I'll take a good friend's advice and bring a good book to read during my long layovers!

That's all for now....