1halffull's Blog


Wrigley Jagunic
January 27, 2011, 2:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday, a member of our family died.  He’d been with us since he was six weeks old – give or take a day.  Unbelievably, he was probably the smallest member, at least of our current family, all the while being the loudest. 

His name was Wrigley.  He was our cat.

Rachel and I picked Wrigley out of a full litter.  We knew he was meant to be ours because from the moment we walked in he began to meow.  Not precious, sweet little baby kitty meows.  Oh, no.  These meows were the loudest we’d ever heard coming out of a 10 day old kitten.  We knew he’d fit right into our clan. 

When the time came to bring him home he immediately adopted our dog, Cagney, as his new mother.  Cagney took a shine to him as well and raised him to behave like any other good dog would:  beg for food, jump up on the humans, figure out who disliked you the most then make them your very own chair. 

He and Cags were quite a pair.  One evening we had to go out immediately following dinner.  We’d had chicken so we just shoved the carcas back into the oven to await our return for clean up. 

Two hours later, we arrived back home to see the oven door open and the chicken pan completely clean!  We were more than astonished!  It was hard to believe that the the animals had done this!  How was it possible?

Amazingly, a short time later, some pizza was left in the oven.  I lay down on the couch for a nap.  Next thing I know, I saw Wrigley on top of the stove.  Cagney was standing in front of the oven door.  She grabbed the towel that was hanging over the handle and began to pull.  At the same time, Wrigley lent his weight to the top of the oven door, forcing it down as Cagney pulled on the towel.  Voila!  Entry to the oven was gained, and had I not been there watching the whole thing, the pizza would have been gone!

Another time I entered the kitchen just in time to see Wrigley trying to nudge a package of hamburg off the microwave and onto the floor at the feet of the waiting dog!  Yet another day, I watched from a hidden location as he picked up pieces of sponge cake and tossed them down to his adoptive momma then ate some himself.  He did love his sponge cake!

You know the saying ‘Dogs drool, cats rule’?  Well, I’m pretty sure it was written by him or at least about him. 

He did indeed rule, doing pretty much whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted – often when we didn’t want him to do it.  Like deciding that the time to spend quality time with me was just shortly after I’d gone to bed.  He’d jump up on the bed and try to settle on my chest, thereby impeding breathing.  Most often, if I did keep breathing, I’d shove him rudely to the floor.  He’d get back up on the bed but settle at the end on my side, so I couldn’t completely stretch out.  He showed me who was boss!

Periodically, he’d go chasing through the house like a whirling dervish, without apparent reason.  We determined he could see ghosts and was chasing them as they ran around the house.

His favorite place to sit was on the back of the couch that was in front of the window looking over the backyard.  He’d watch alertly as various neighborhood cats would slither onto the deck, not seeing him lurking.  He’d get so excited that he’d stand full length tall up against the window, throwing himself at it, hissing as if he thought he could scare the cats away.  Sometimes I’d let him out so he could.

He loved to wrestle with Mike who, like Cagney, treated him like any other dog and rough housed with him.  Sometimes Wrigley would pretend to get mad and walk away, but invariably, he’d search out Mike for round two, three and four.

He supposed himself a stalker and would weave his way into the leaves of the shrubs or plants, peering out with those green eyes, waiting to pounce.  Clearly for him, the wait was more the goal than the pouncing as he never caught anything and didn’t seem to care.  He did, however, get into a few rows along the way from which he’d bring back scratched face or bitten ear.

Then Cagney died leaving Wrigley all alone for the first time in his little life.  I remember how he sat in the window watching us bury his momma.  Later that night, he stood at the bottom of the stairs howling a keening wail over his loss.  I’d never heard anything quite like it before.

It was during that time that Dan traveled alot, leaving just me and Wrigley at home with each other.  Wrigley became my partner in crime.  I’d come home from work, fix something to eat, plop it on a TV tray and watch TV while I munched.  Wrigley would jump up on the stool next to me and wait for his fair share.  His very favorite food was chicken and if there was chicken on my plate, there better be a decent sized helping shared with him.  Like I said, Cagney raised him as a dog.

The most daring thing he ever did happened on a warm summer’s day.  All of us were upstairs in our rooms, Wrigley in ours.  Suddenly, he began to ricochet around the room, first bouncing off the door then flying across the room and bouncing off the screen in the window; around again door to screen.  Silence.  Where’d he go?  I yelled ‘The screen’s not in the window!’

Dan and I both ran over to the window and stuck our heads out, looking to see what happened to this crazy cat!  We looked down, and there, on top of the screen, in the middle of a bush, sat Wrigley who looked up at us and gave out the largest ‘MEOW’ he’d ever meowed.  Nothing broken, nothing hurt.

As he got older, he settled into a little more calm routine that included his morning treat and a little head scratching by Dan and a few meows as if to say, ‘Okay, time for my nap now.’

He was almost 16 when he went to take his final nap.  It’s awfully lonely here today without that insistent meow bellow.  We’re missing him, for sure.

I know it’s not very biblical, but I can’t help imagine him hooked up again with Cagney, getting into mischief, maybe even sharing one more chicken carcass.  I hope so.

Wrigley Jagunic April 4, 1995 - January 25, 2011

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Roe v. Wade: The Parking Lot is Too Late
January 23, 2011, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday was the 38th anniversary of the decision on Roe v. Wade.  In case you’re either very young or have been living without radio and TV, this was the Supreme Court Case that decided whether women, with respect to what trimester of pregnancy they were in, had the right to terminate a pregnancy privately.  It opened the doors to legal abortion clinics rather than backstreet hanger jobs.

The debate about whether women should be allowed to make this decision has gone on hot and heavy for those full 38 years.  In the mix are those who say that abortion is murder at any phase of a pregnancy.  On the other side are those who say that the fetus isn’t a human until it takes its first breath outside the womb.

The first group has run the gamut from trying to change the minds of women as they try to enter a legal abortion clinic to blowing up the clinics themselves.

The second group is nearly as zealous in their response to the first, protesting for women’s rights over their own bodies, getting into fights with the opponents and more.

I’m not here to debate the obvious – abortion or birth – although I will say that I bet if you’d ask my kids, they’re pretty happy that I decided to have them.

I am here to ask a couple questions and offer another point of view.

1.  Was abortion meant to become another, commonly practiced form of birth control?  It didn’t seem as though that’s what the ruling was saying.  It seemed more like the ruling was giving women, within a set of legal constraints, the right to determine what they were going to do about a very personal situation, thereby making it legal and no longer something a woman could be arrested for doing. 

2.  Should a woman consider abortion as her first line of defense in contraception, ignoring the hundreds of other preventative options that are available?  This one is a subjective answer.  For example, my belief is that there are enough options that any woman, or man for that matter, can pick up and use prior to engaging in sexual behaviors.  Both men and women need to take responsibility against unwanted pregnancies, not just the woman. 

Don’t even go there with your yak about – ‘well we were just ‘in the moment’ and got carried away!’  I said RESPONSIBLE behavior, people.  If your tendency is to get that carried away, keep the condoms in your back pocket ALL THE TIME so you’re prepared, or chose a method that you consume everyday.

3.  What about the uneducated, the indigent?  What if they don’t know anything about birth control?  If you’ve gone to school through about fourth grade these days or have a TV, you’ve heard about birth control.  Sorry, no excuse.

photo credit: Shepherds Arms Rescue

4.  Is abortion a woman’s only option for ridding herself of an unwanted child?  No.  It’s not.  There are thousands of couples who are desperate to have a baby but for one reason or another, cannot.  They are people who would give anything to help a woman grow and birth a child that could be handed over to them.  Their desire to have and hold your baby and make it their own takes away many reasons for a woman to use abortion as an out.

Moving on….

There are people who want to stop as many abortions as possible.  I think that’s admirable and I see nothing wrong with peaceably trying to dissuade someone from going through with it, given that there are other options that can relieve a woman of a child once it has arrived.

However, in my opinion, if these people really and truly want to prevent abortions, they would do better to start working with boys and girls, men and women, homed and homeless  long before the seed has fertilized an egg! 

Coming alongside a teen at risk or someone living on the street, or an overwhelmed woman who’s already a mom of many, before fertilized eggs begin to divide and develop, seems to me to be the more important act.  If you want to prevent an abortion, identify who is most at risk and create a mentor program that will provide individuals to care, and make a difference, through healthy personal interaction. 

Finally, I can’t help but wonder if the reason we only focus on stopping the woman going into the abortion clinic is because it’s much simpler and faster than getting involved one on one before she’s pregnant?  I mean, really, there’s less investment of time and energy.  It takes very little money to fund a few hours in the parking lot of the abortion clinic.   The 15 minute interaction is not as messy as say, a long-term relationship where you really get involved. 

After all, if we set ourselves up as saviors of the unborn, and the mother turns and walks away, then we can hug ourselves and say, ‘well, I did all I could to stop her; she made the choice.’   

In my opinion, those who sit outside abortion clinics aren’t doing society any big favors.  In reality, you’ve arrived at least nine and a half months too late and a dollar short.  Where your efforts might have really meant something was intervening long before that sperm and egg met. 

Today is Sanctity of Life Day.  Why not celebrate it by deciding to come alongside someone whose life you might influence before sperm and egg have met.  If you want to really do something to stop abortions, don’t wait to meet them till it’s already too late.



Life: Where are we headed?
January 22, 2011, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s hard to fathom that already we’re on January 22nd!  Seems like just yesterday we rang in the New Year.  As cold as it’s been here in Northeast Ohio, it seems more like we should be frozen in time rather than watching the days just run away from us!

Unbelievably, I find myself in the 32nd anniversary year of my 28th birthday (sorry, if you want to know how old I am, you’re going to have to do the math).  Frankly, I’ve told anyone who might care – all three of you – that there will be no more anniversary celebrations until I’m able to celebrate the 47th anniversary of my 28th birthday.  Following that one, I will celebrate every moment that I continue to breathe on my own!

Isn’t it funny how, right after we’re born, our parents mark each month, then half-year, then years when someone asks how old you are?  “Oh, she’s two months old; she’s 18 months old; she’s three and a half years old” all the way through 21 years old.

After 21, generally speaking, we take over our own age-telling.

‘Good grief, I’m going to be 30!’

“Oh, no!  I’m going to be 40”

“Me?  Why I’m only 28 this year!”

If we do manage to get to 75 or so, suddenly we find that we’re back to saying, “Me?  I’m 75 and three months!”  We continue to go with that as we almost breathlessly inch our way to one more year.

I look around me, then read some of the local obits, to see that I’m well past what would be considered a mid-point.  Really, I’m probably already more likely in the top 80 percentile in terms of time that may be left for me.  That seems very odd indeed!

It’s really hard to think of myself as a non-breather.  I look around at life and can’t imagine not being here, not doing what I’m doing, gone in a heartbeat.  If you think about it, we truly have an incredible capacity for viewing ourselves within this life.

We start out with this totally clean slate, not knowing what lies ahead.  As teens and young adults, we believe ourselves to be invincible.  Even when faced with the death of a cohort, it still doesn’t really sink in that one day, that will be our fate as well.

We stroll through life, doing and being and caring and giving to the point that we almost fool ourselves that this will go on forever.  We lose site of the fact that this life is finite; it has an end just as it had a beginning and we will not escape it.

I know one young man, who is among many, who seems to solidly believe that when he says goodbye, it will all be over; that we’re completely finite and death is the end.  Period.

Ouch!

Since we can’t see beyond this finite world, what he says could be true.

But I don’t experience it that way.

As crazy as some may think me, I do believe in God.  I believe He is the One who created everything.  I think science, rather than disprove Him, actually proves Him.  I think He has not only created this world and my life but has also created an eternity where we go once we leave here.  He makes it possible for us to meet Him there through His Son, Jesus Christ.  If we know Him, not just know about Him, we will also know God.

I believe that wholeheartedly.

Yet, once in a while, I think about what the young man has to say.  I examine his thoughts with my own, comparing what I know – or believe I know – with what he thinks he knows.  How can there be a God?  How are we so brash as to believe He exists?  Why shouldn’t death just be the end of us?

Where I always end up is this:  I facilitate a prayer chain.  Daily there are many requests that get forwarded to many people across the world.  Day after day, I am allowed to hear of how these requests get answered, sometimes in extremely amazing ways.  It is often awe striking and inspiring!

We’re praying to this God that so many don’t want to believe in and we witness way too many answers for me to be able to believe that it is all just coincidence or people getting ”just lucky’.

The magnitude, length and breadth of the strength of what happens because of prayer, not just ours, but those of many others, is too overwhelming for me to attribute to anything but a power greater than all of us – God.  Remembering this alone, will always end my joining in with the young man to deny that God exists and that there’s nothing more than this life.

Even though I know that my days here are numbered – could end today for all I know – I do believe that I will continue on in the presence of Christ and His Father, God, along with many others who have gone before me.

My prayer and hope  for 2011 is that everyone who I love makes this same discovery for themselves so that they, too, will have the comfort and assurance of what is to come when breath seeps away and hearts go silent.  Amen.

 

 



The ‘New Normal’: Living With Cancer
January 6, 2011, 1:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This morning I stood by the side of my friend’s bed trying to say something, anything, that would calm her fears, take her mind off the impending surgery.  It was to be a life changing surgery.  Of course, she already knew what they were going in for:  a four centimeter round shaped tumor, so they said.  Cancer.  Cancer that had come back for a second crack at her.

In the ten days that she had to wait for the surgery, she said she’d been looking for the ‘new normal’ of living with cancer.  New Normal.

As it turned out, the tumor was a golf ball size.  If only she could hit it into a water hazard and be done with it.  That would be a lovely new normal.

While I haven’t had cancer – yet – it’s not something that I haven’t thought about.  In fact, it’s something I almost expect to have at some point given the rise in cancers across the population and the further destruction of our ecology.  We’ve dumped so much into the ground, the water, the air, our free radicals are getting more and more screwed up to the point that cancer may become inevitable.

What isn’t so normal is that every case of cancer is unusual.  No, not because every cancer is different but because every person deals with their cancer individually.

My friend, for example, is looking at having it, as living with a ‘new normal’.  Others look at it as just one more thing to be dealt with and as quickly as possible.  Still others, in an odd kind of way, choose not to deal with it at all.  The doctor tells them what he’s going to do and they let him do it.  That’s scary.

One thing that comes across in each case is the strength of spirit that each person exhibits.  Today, when the surgery was over, my friend’s humor showed up.  And along with that a dose of ‘I’m going to give someone a piece of my mind about (something that had happened at the hospital prior to the surgery)’.  While the conversation flexed over the current condition, the spirit and heart brought forth the something good that was available because of what was happening.

I call it ‘finding the hope in the tiniest of places.’

Some would say, ‘well, this person is a woman of faith!  Of course she has hope!’

Well, yes, she does.

But sometimes, when you’re in the middle of the dark valley, and you’re looking at your body where a part has gone missing, the blaze of hope isn’t what you can grasp.  Sometimes, the hope you grab onto is something tangible, something small, something that at any other time, would seem completely insignificant but is, at this moment, the one thing that helps you see an idea for a future.  In that one small thing, you grasp a hint of the truth – that this valley does have another side and it’s just possible that you’ll reach it.

So my friend, when all’s you see is one small spark, grab a hold of it, let it kindle your hope, and get across that valley to where you can stand again in the land of good health.

 



2011: Time to Get Real About Cleveland Sports
January 4, 2011, 1:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Cleveland Sports Teams. 

Isn’t that an oxymoron?  I mean really, there appears to be nothing team-like about any of the Cleveland sports teams – again.  If you look at them all closely, there hasn’t been anything remotely team-like since the ’95 and ’97 Cleveland Indians. 

Oh Cavaliers fans, stop right there!  The last four years hasn’t been a team sport.  They were Lebron sports, made even more clear with the separation of the one who would be King from the other members of the Cavaliers, formerly known as ‘the team’ – or as I like to call them, the other 50%.  I never could figure out how one guy could provide 50% of the power while the other four couldn’t come up with their 50% among them.  They barely came up with 25% in most games.  While Lebron brought the Cavs to the brink of championships, as is the fashion in Cleveland, no one else wanted it bad enough to sink it!  Walking away empty handed is typical in Cleveland.

But I was talking about the Cleveland Indians of ’95 and ’97.  Now there was a real team.  At that point, they were just a bunch of guys who liked, no LOVED playing baseball together.  You could see it in the dugout.  They were relaxed, smiling, happy.  No big heads, no big egos.  Now there was a team!  They were so good in fact that they nearly brought home the championship not once, but twice!  (Big SIGH).  But they just couldn’t do it.  Were they afraid to succeed?  Or is there a big, black cloud that saps the will to win out of anyone who plays in Cleveland.  With a wild pitch, the Indians became just another Cleveland team who feared success so much to actually bring it home – twice.  (BIGGER sigh)

Today, of course, the big talk is about the Cleveland Browns.  Our true, beloved Browns won the championship in ’64 before there was ever a Super Bowl.  They made it into the playoffs regularly – of course they never again brought home ‘the big one’.  These were the guys that made my husband not leave the house on Sunday afternoons.  They were also the guys who were snatched from us by that dastardly do-wrong, Art Modell who carried them off to Baltimore leaving us footballless for three years. 

Taking pity on us, the NFL allowed us to once again claim the name and the Browns rose from the ashes as an expansion team.  My husband was not impressed.  And well he shouldn’t have been.  They almost managed to pique his interest in 2002 when they made a run for the playoffs; of course that was short lived – they’re from Cleveland after all.

Year after year, not only have they not seemed to want a playoff berth, they don’t even seem to want to win many games!  Is there money in losing? 

Periodically I’d comment about this losing attitude.  My husband would respond, ‘hey, they’re an expansion team. You have to give them time.’  During the sixth year, I pointed out this was no longer an excuse that could hold water. 

Administration for the Browns appears to be running some kind of con game if you ask me.  It’s called hire a coach/fire a coach.  The theory is that if you don’t really want to own a winning team, but you do want to keep your fan base taking out loans every year just to buy your tickets, you hire then fire your coach so you can claim you’re in a rebuilding year.  You promise the fans and the media a better year next year with the new coach, who will rebuild your team into lethal football giants. 

I’m not sure how that gets done when you haven’t fired and hired all new players?  What’s that little saying:  if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had.  In this case, losers.

Face it, even if the Browns got a coach who stayed longer than it takes to cook 25,000 hotdogs on a Sunday afternoon, it wouldn’t really matter.  Cleveland teams, even if they do almost behave like they want a championship, will still never get one.  Their fear of success is just more frightening than their fear of facing their fans with another losing season.



2011: New Year, New Opportunities
January 3, 2011, 1:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Welcome to 2011!

from Thyme Restaurant

In various parts of the state, country and world, there are  traditions that are meant to greet the new year and inbue a certain sense of ‘luck’ upon the partakers.

Here in NE Ohio, for example, eating pork and sauerkraut – cooked of course – on the first day of the year is supposed to bring you luck.  I’m not sure that really works; it does serve to give some of us a lot of gas, however.

One thing that does ‘really work’ is prayer.  Rather, it’s not actually the prayer itself that ‘works’.  It is the God to whom we pray who is faithful to hear each and every prayer said; it is He who responds to those prayers.  The Bible says that where there are two or more gathered together, Jesus is in the midst of them.  We are not alone in our expressions; He is with us, even as we pray.

A friend and I have prayed together for 10 years now.  We notice that the more people who join their hearts together, unified in a particular prayer effort, the greater the exponential effect seems to be.  It’s God’s response that we are always amazed by, for He never fails.

Don’t get me wrong:  we have not always received what we prayed for!  But we are of an understanding that what we think we need for ourselves or someone else, is not necessarily what God knows we actually ‘need’.  We also understand that sometimes, if nothing seems to happen, it can mean either it’s not time yet or ‘no, this isn’t what I (God) intend’.

God is not the great Santa Claus of the universe.  He’s not in the business of granting childish wishes.  He is, however, the One who knows our end from our beginning.  He knows where we are on the road of our journey with Him.  He sees and knows when we are ready to receive what He’s prepared for us and when we’re not.  He knows if we need to grow more, learn more of His ways before going to the next step.  He is our awesome God!

With the New Year fully under way, I’d like to share this prayer with you.  Let us join our hearts together, in Jesus’ name, knowing that He hears and responds according to what is best for us and those we love.

Prayer for the New Year
O God of new beginnings and wonderful surprises, thank you for the gift of a new year.  May it be a time of grace for me, a time to grow in faith and love, a time to renew my commitment to following Your Son, Jesus.  May it be a year of blessing for me, a time to cherish my family and friends, a time to renew my efforts at work, a time to embrace my faith more fully.  Walk with me, please, in every day and every hour of this new year, that the light of Christ might shine through me, in spite of my weaknesses and failings.  Above all, may I remember this year that I am a pilgrim on the sacred path to You. Amen

~ Sent to me by Kathy Machingo