1halffull's Blog

Things that go bump in the night
August 25, 2009, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Boogey Man, God, Jesus, Storms

Remember when you were a kid? You’d lie in bed at night and, after all was quiet, hearboogeyman2 noises that you never heard during the day, especially if you lived in an older home. You might have let your mind run wild and think the Boogey Man was coming out from under the bed to get you! Or that the ghosts who lived in the closet were dancing on the ceiling.

If you were scared enough, you’d go flying into your parent’s room – sometimes much to their surprise – begging to get into bed with them and hide. Some of you were allowed into the family bed; others were escorted back to your own room where your parent showed you that there was nothing hiding under the bed or lurking in the closet. Well of course they didn’t see those things – they made sure parents never saw them!

Little did we know that this was just a precursor to the things we’d experience as adults where things don’t just go bump in the night but also go crash, bang, boom during the day!

When we become adults, often our bumps are much more hideous than any Boogey Man could ever be. There’s the cancer that just won’t go away or the accident that turns us into wheelchair bound vegetables where an athlete once stood. There’s job loss and spouse loss. There’s a child who commits murder and the aunt who was murdered and the moms who are left to deal with the aftermath.

As adults, where do we run when these trials come upon us?

Being a person of faith in God and His Son, Jesus, I run to them.

Oh, I’m no saint. I admit to being human just like everyone else. When the storm begins to rage, my stomach flips and my blood runs cold. My mind flies into a fit of ‘what ifs’, ‘I wonders’ and ‘how on earths’?

027mBut once the initial shock fades, the Lord comes in and reminds me of His past faithfulness in my life and I begin to think on those times and remind myself of the promises He’s made throughout the Bible. I know those to be true now and always and I find comfort there and strength to get through yet another storm.

I always go back to the place where it says ‘yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me.’ That word ‘through’ is huge! It means I won’t be left alone in the middle of the storm but I will go through – indicating from one side to the other. YEA!

Knowing Jesus doesn’t mean I’ll get to skip the storms. The storms still come; they rage on. The difference is that I have every hope that they will end and that God will have walked me through, never failing, just as He’s promised.


Who Decides?
August 22, 2009, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Art Critics, Designed to Sell, House Beautiful, Modern Art

When my kids were growing up, I tried really hard to expose them to a wide variety of cultural venues.  I left sports exposure to their dad.  He was more than successful.red circle

The first time that I took them to an art gallery proved interesting.  As we walked through the various halls, we’d comment about one piece or another, talking about what we liked or didn’t like.  Our first foray into a hall containing modern art was most telling.  My son, Mike, took one look at a painting that was nothing more than a white background with a red circle painted on it and asked, “Who decided this was art?  I could have done this.”  He was about 10 years old at the time.

He brought up a question that I’d had over the years:  Who does decide what really good art is and by what virtue do ‘they’ get to decide?

For my money, really good art is a piece that flawlessly looks like something or someone real.  Really good portraiture is amazing.  A painting that captures the vivid colors of a sunset or the motion of the sea or where you can see through the glass vase on the canvass, that’s art, that’s gifted talent.  A red circle on a white background is, in my opinion, made by someone who has no more talent than being able to draw a circle.  It’s not art.

Being a fair minded person, I do not limit my opinion about creativity to just the art world.  Oh, no!

I picked up the August, 2009 edition of “House Beautiful” from a pile of discarded magazines I found at work.  I’ve been looking for ideas that might inspire me toward doing some much needed home restyling.  I thought surely there would be some good ideas hiding in the pages of this famed magazine.

I should have known better just by looking at the front cover; it was ugly.  I thought maybe this was the before picture of some lovely makeover.  I was wrong.

When I opened the pages to the cover story, here’s what I read:  “This room is great because it’s by Bunny Williams” with this subtitle:  “American decorating at its best, by a master.  It’s a room we didn’t want you to miss.”

Once again I was faced with the question:  Who decided that this person is a ‘master’?  Other than the paint color, the room was just about as ugly as any room I’ve ever seen.  In fact, if Roger and Tanya from ‘Designed to Sell’ walked into the room, I’m convinced they’d start yanking things out and rearranging it immediately!  Yet, I’m sure there are people all over the country who picked up this magazine and immediately called their decorators asking to have a copy installed in their homes immediately, another nod to the gullibility of society.

Remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes?   The one where the emperor walked in the parade naked while everyone told him what beautiful garb he was wearing?  I think that’s what we have not only in the art world, but in many areas where creativity is subjective.  It’s where people who can’t do, decide to become the critics of those who can, or think they can.  In a bizarre little twist, those who catapult themselves into the critic’s seats decide to make fools of those of whom they are jealous, ridiculing real talent and elevating to art status those whose only talent is to be able to draw a circle.

Another possibility is that truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  With that in mind, I think there are some people who would fare better if they wore permanent blindfolds.

Am I happy?
August 14, 2009, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Happiness, Sadness

Probably not.  Happy that is.

But that’s not a bad thing.  No, really, it’s not.

If I was always happy, how would I know?  Generally, don’t we measure our happiness against the sadness we’ve known?  If we know no sadness, then how can we tell if we’re happy?

What is happiness anyway?  Is it when we’re laughing out loud, you know, from deep down in our bellies?  Is that happiness?

Or, is happiness more like when we’re all snuggled up on the couch on a cold winter’s night, touching toes with someone we love?

Maybe happiness is the way a really good chocolate cake with thick, sweet butter cream frosting melts away in your mouth from first bite to last.  Or the smell of new mown hay as you drive down a country road?  Or the peaceful, sleeping face of your newborn child in the first sweet hours after birth?

appleAdam and Eve knew perfect happiness when they roamed the Garden of Eden.  Of course they didn’t appreciate just what a happy time that was until they messed it up by taking the big bite that has been felt ever since.  Suddenly they knew what unhappiness was and regretted leaving that other, wonderful, happy place.

Scarlett O’Hara chased after happiness on Miss Mellie’s plantation instead of on Mr. Butler’s.  When she finally caught up with it, she realized she’d have been better off with Rhett.  By then Rhett Butler didn’t give a damn so all was lost to Miss Scarlett.

Then there’s Dorothy Gale who took an unlikely trip only to realize ‘there’s no place like home.’

So what is the key to finding and holding onto happiness?

The Bible tells us in the New Testament that we need to be content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.  While we don’t necessarily think of contentment as happiness, at http://www.dictionary.com we learn that one is a synonym for the other.

In our culture, we find very little contentment; in fact, we find a particular contempt for contentment.

Marketing tactics not only want us to be lured into keeping up with the Jones’s, but we should strive to surpass them in every way!  So, we get credit cards to purchase stuff with no waiting.  We move into houses that we can’t afford so we can have a three car garage to put our Beamer, our boat and our motor home into.  We work hard to try to pay for it all but we have no time to enjoy it.  Indeed, we find that there’s an inner restlessness, a kind of disturbance that repels the happiness we seek.

It’s not the stuff itself that brings on our malcontent.  It’s our faulty thinking that the stuff can give us what we long for:  love, peace, joy, satisfaction, contentment, happiness.

Stuff has no life of its own.  It gets its meaning from usefulness.  derek-jeter-autographed-baseball

Take an autographed baseball.  If my daughter and I went to a game and she caught the ball, then we got the player to sign it, when I die, she may want it because it’s attached to a great memory.  If I buy the ball on Ebay, it will hold no meaning for anyone and become nothing more than a yard sale item.  See what I mean?

So what am I saying here?  Go get stuff and if you use it you’ll be happy?  Nope that’s not it.

I think I’m saying that happiness becomes self-sustaining when you discover what is really meaningful and has value in your life.  Figure out what your purpose is and follow that road to something more eternal than stuff or careers.  Learn to stop measuring yourself against everyone else.  You are unlike anyone else so why measure apples to oranges?  Enjoy the person that God has created in you.  Find contentment where you are in each and every moment.

Along the way, your experience will still include sadness.

But your appreciation for the happiness will be all the more sweet because of it.

The turtle eventually wins?
August 13, 2009, 4:50 am
Filed under: Life, Turtles, Work

I read once that you’re only as happy as your saddest child.  As a  mom, I think that’s pretty true.

If she was alive, I wonder how happy Bernie Madoff’s mom would be?  Here’s a guy who knowingly bilked a few hundred people out of their life’s savings, bought himself a whole bunch of ‘stuff’, tried to protect his wife so she wouldn’t lose all their stuff and will probably get out of jail at some point to go back to his stuff and start a fresh life.

Maybe his mom would be happy.  After all, everyone makes mistakes.  Theoretically, Bernie will have done the time for his.  So his mom can be proud of that?

Since that’s the way it seems to happen more often than not for people at the top of the food chain, why don’t the same rules apply at the bottom?

I know someone right now who went through a very rough time.  In the process the person pretty much lost financial well being, lost logic, lost self.  This person has struggled to regain life, logic, employment, self.  At every turn, the big bad wolf has been waiting to bite once more.  First unemployment hit, then a minimum wage job.  Then a good job came along followed by major surgery followed by being let go by the good job.  Several minute jobs later, some paper routes, some doing whatever it takes to try to keep a roof over the head and finally another good job offer.  Hooray!

Don’t Hooray so fast.  The big bad wolf lurks.  At the last minute, as the moving truck was on its way to the door, there was a notice that said, ‘oh, sorry.  We’ve changed our minds because we don’t like your fiscal past.’

Back to square one.

In the spirit of things, diligence remains and another job comes along with bizarre hours, even more bizarre people to care for and now there are bruises, both physically and emotionally.  As though there hasn’t been enough.

I need to have the question answered:  Why do some people go merrily along through life while others face one mountain after another with very little respite in between?

While some people skip through life, do their time and come out on the other side, filling their pockets yet again with riches as though all has been forgotten, the pasts of others, who didn’t hurt anyone but themselves, seem to follow them all the days of their lives.  They never get a break, even after they’ve turned things around.

The amazing thing is the fact that these people still manage to pick themselves up after each fall, determined to try again, make a go of it.  Shouldn’t credit be given for that stamina and stick-to-itiveness?

In my book it should and it does.

All that I can hope for is that, like the turtle in the race with the rabbit, the diligence and stamina will pay off in the long run.

Without a vision the people perish
August 7, 2009, 3:14 am
Filed under: decorating, House Beautiful, Humor, painting

Some days it’s interesting for me to open up this blog.  I feel like I want to write something, but haven’t a clue what that something is.  Like now.

How about this:  We’ve lived in our house for 22 years.  When we first moved in, it was filled with rooms full of very ugly wallpaper.  The one that was in our bedroom would have scared any normal person into a catatonic state.  I’m not normal so I just disliked it then painted over it when it refused to come off the wall.  That is, until the paint hit then it wanted to fall off the wall.  Stupid wallpaper.

We invited our nephews to join us in the first week of our move.  They, along with our two kids, had a ball peeling off wallpaper in many of the rooms, without getting into trouble for doing it.  They also slid down the stairs, pulling the bright orange carpet away from the steps. We were glad to be rid of it.

While it was all pretty ugly, I had a vision for how to change it, make it nice, just short of “House Beautiful”.  That was 20 years ago.

About six months ago, I was walking down the front hallway when it hit me that the hand painted pictures lining the wall had been there for 20 years.  Then I looked into the living room and said ‘Good grief! That is the same stuff I put in there 20 years ago!”

I began yelling for Dan:  “Dan!  Oh DAN!”

“What?” he yelled back.  “Our house is outdated,” I shouted.  There was no response.

A few weeks went by.  One day, walking through the house, I heard Dan call out to me, “Hey, you know what?  We need to do something about the inside of this house.  It’s looking old.”  “Really?” I replied

So now, we’re finally on the same page about this subject.  However, in my head and heart, doing something means I don’t just want some new paint on the walls; I want furniture and carpet, too.  We could truly use new windows to stop the winds that blow through in winter and I really wish I could tear out the current fire place, make a large opening between the family room and the living room to create a ‘great’ room and….you get my drift.

But right now, for a number of reasons that we can’t control, we have no money to do much more than paint.  There is no vision for painting a room filled with the same old stuff.  It will just look like the same old room, just a different color.  Why bother?

What I do envision is another 10 years going by, walking through the hallway one day and not saying anything at all.  You get used to anything, even murder, if you’re around it long enough.  I’ll get used to this, too.

It’s 5 o’clock
August 5, 2009, 9:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Do you know where your sleep has gone?

coffee cupI love Panera.  It’s coffee doesn’t like me. 

This evening, while spending the evening with a friend, we blasted through some dinner, then some dessert and along the way, probably three cups of delicious hazelnut coffee.  We always manage to close the place down and tonight was no different.

As we headed to our cars, the Panera man (he’s the guy who drives the double tractor trailer filled with Panera yummies that he takes to all the other Panera stores) called out across the parking lot “Is this car one of yours?”  Yippee for me, it was my car and not my friend’s.  “You have a flat tire here,” he said. 

What a fitting end to an ugly day.  Mr. Panera was quite helpful in his next suggestions – he thought it looked like I had enough air to get to the Sheetz down the street.  He even told me about their air machine, how to operate it, what the blinking lights would mean.  My friend queried, “Do you want me to follow you?”  Mr. Panera man answered for me: “Yes, that’s a good idea.  If you don’t make any really sharp turns, you should be alright.”

We got in our vehicles and, without any sharp turns, slowly made our way the two blocks to the Sheetz where I turned in and began driving around, and around again, looking for the air machine.  A young couple noticed my predicament as I covered the lot and came running to tell me I had a flat tire.  Then the gentleman came alongside to tell me where the air machine was, saying he’d be glad to put air in my tire for me.  I thanked him, saying that was okay, I could do it myself.  But he insisted, his girlfriend telling me that he likes to do good deeds.  Sweet.

He came to the bad tire and finally got the air machine to cooperate by allowing air to go into my tire, no easy feat!  In the process he located my problem, a screw in the tire, while his girlfiriendflat_tire proceeded to instruct me on how to find the problem using soapy water.  A very pleasant and helpful young couple.  We decided there was enough air for me to get home, so off we all went in our separate directions.

By now my mind was really wound up figuring out just what I would have to do to get to work:  park the car outside, go to bed, get up and call AAA to come change the tire (Dan’s away, of course), call my boss to say I’d be late getting in because of the flat tire, hope that my donut tire is usable, take the deflated tire to our mechanic on the way to work, decide whether to order the two new tires we need anyway or just wait.  By the time I got home, I was totally and completely wide awake!

I played with the dog, watched two taped shows and one regular TV show then thought maybe I should go up to bed – it was 2 a.m.  After tossing and turning for an hour – 3 a.m. – I came downstairs, opened up the computer, updated my Sorority Life while watching numerous episodes of ‘Roseanne’; played an untold number of games of Farkle; listened to our chime clock bong away the hours until it is now 5:13 a.m.  And here I am, still wide awake thanks to either the Panera coffee, the moaning of my hors (short for hormones but I like to think of them as whores because they’re so bad in how they treat me), or the fact of my out of control mind that is hopped up on Panera caffeine and the worries of the present day.

No matter what the reason, I’m much less than two hours away from needing to be in the shower getting ready to head off to work, tired in thinking about how ridiculous it’s going to be trying to stay awake for my 9 hour work shift, when, I’m sure you can understand, I’ll be ready to sleep.

Maybe I’ll go make some coffee.  It’s kept me up this long, maybe it can keep me up another 12 hours.  Wish me luck and pray for everyone who has to deal with me today!  LOL

Three Things
August 4, 2009, 2:02 am
Filed under: Love

Don’t give up.

Everyone wants to be understood.

You are loved.

I flipped on the TV tonight to hear and see a very lively Josh Groban, rushing across the stage in a very large venue, singing those words to the crowd.  They were cheering for him, reaching up to him; he reached back, touching hands, encouraging them, his own face, radiant with the belief to back up his words.

I thought about how we each need to hear those words.

Don’t give up.  In this world, every day is a battle against evil, sickness, depression, thoughtlessness, work stress, family issues, road rage, bone tiredness, financial discord, worries of small and great magnitude.  Some days, we wonder how we can not give up.

And yet, the sun sets and rises again and we get up once more to give it another try.

Everyone wants to be understood.  Heck, most of us just want to be heard, really listened to by someone, anyone.  Most of us are too busy thinking of how to respond to what we’re hearing to actually hear.  Instead of really concentrating on each word, hearing it for what it is, catching the feeling, the emotion behind it, we miss it because we allow our selves to supersede that of the other person.  If only we could put ourselves aside in that moment, look into the other person’s eyes, see their heart, focus on someone else, then we might understand.hearts%20logo

You are loved.  And yet you rarely feel that way.  Why?

I think we rarely feel that way because we constantly measure ourselves against others and rarely find ourselves measuring up.  When we feel that way, it is hard to believe that we are love-worthy.  Then there are the ‘love, buts….’

Human love is so volatile and most often, even unwittingly and subtly predicated on what you do for me.  It’s an ugly battle.  Listen to your own conversation sometime and hear yourself as you say to the object of your affection:  You know I love you, but….

I love you should never come with a ‘but’ attached.  I love you should always come with a ‘because’.  I love you because God made you with such a soft heart.  I love you because I see your kindness in the midst of a doubtful situation.  I love you because I have watched you grow through difficult times and still you persevere.  I love you because you are, period.

When Josh Groban told his audience “You are loved” everyone wanted to believe him.  Unfortunately, just saying it doesn’t mean we can believe it.  For many, it takes more than just being told.  It takes a ‘because’, it takes a demonstration.