Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday.....

Here it is, almost 8am on Black Friday, and I'm just sitting around, sipping my coffee.  After working in retail almost 11 years, requiring that I actually work on all the Black Fridays (except the one I missed thanks to the birth of my son), I just don't do Black Friday.  It's just not worth it to me, to fight the traffic on the roads and the crowds at the stores, to save a few bucks.

Last weekend was a blast - went to USC for the annual Alumni Band game.  It started off with a bang, or more like a crash - Friday I was getting ready to take the pups to be boarded, and they saw that I had packed a bag with their food and toys.  Needless to say, they were excited to know they were going somewhere, and when I sat on the bed to put on my shoes, Gabriel came rushing up on the bed and smashed his head into the back of mine.  I freaking saw stars!  Immediate tears, too!  He smacked into me so hard I thought he had busted my head open, but thankfully that wasn't the case.  Just a goose egg that is still here (smaller than last Friday, but still here), and a very sore scalp.

I also learned while at USC that the band hall is going to be named after the man that was band director when I was there - James K. Copenhaver.  That was exciting news.  Got to see Mr. Copenhaver at the end of the game, too.  And I never really realized just how big the dormitory was that I lived in for 3 years - but in riding around campus, you can see it above pretty much anything else, so yes, it was a tall building.

We took Momma Clydie to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 on Sunday.  I haven't seen any of the other movies, or read the books, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Also figured out that the head "bad vampire" was the guy that played Lucian in the Underworld movies.

Mom headed back to England Sunday afternoon - I really wish she could have stayed through Steven's bday on Wednesday and Thanksgiving.  She will be back in March and I can't wait to see her again!

Steven's bday was Wednesday - he had a couple of friends and his brother over to hang out, then we took them to Moe's for dinner.  I still cannot believe my son is 17 years old!!!!  Where does the time go????? 

We had a wonderful thanksgiving yesterday - Momma Clydie did 99% of the cooking - and it was yummy!!!  But apparently I suffered carb overload or something after we ate and slept away most of the afternoon and evening, and still managed to sleep through the night until someone's freaking cell phone alarm went off at 5am!!!  I am not mentioning any names but dammit man, WTH.  I am still not sure what happened to me - I didn't eat any more than I would at a normal meal, but I had that groggy, sluggish, drugged feeling I get sometimes, and it almost seems like my sugar is off balance or something.  I'm feeling a lot better today so far, and I plan to keep it that way.  I hate sleeping the day away like I did yesterday - glad we didn't have company over!  LOL

Well folks, time to wrap this up and grab me some breakfast.  Got a lot of stuff to do today and I wanna get going with it while I'm still feeling good.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and aren't going too nuts with the Black Friday shit!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful for the Thorns......

My annual Thanksgiving post......

Thankful for the Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against aNovember gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze.Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son.She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come.

What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer? "Had she lost a child? No - she has no idea what I'm feeling," Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? "Thankful for what?" she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

The flower shop clerk's approach startled her. "Sorry," said Jenny, "I just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you."

"I . . . . I need an arrangement."

"For Thanksgiving?" Sandra nodded."Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the "Thanksgiving Special."

Jenny saw Sandra's curiosity and continued, "I'm convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted. "Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has."

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

The door's small bell suddenly rang. "Barbara! Hi, "Jenny said. She politely excused herself form Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" Jenny asked.

Sandra watched for Barbara's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did.

"Yes, please. It's exquisite," said Barbara. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I'd not be so moved by its significance, but it's happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks."

Sandra stared. "Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?" she wondered.

"Ah, said Sandra, pointing. "That lady just left with, ah . . . ."


"Well, she had no flowers!"


"Off. Yep. That's the Special. I call it the "Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"But, why do people pay for that?" In spite of herself she chuckled.

"Do you rally want to know?"

"I couldn't leave this shop without knowing. I'd think about nothing else!"

"That might be good," said Jenny.

"Well," she continued, "Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery."

"Ouch!" said Sandra.

"That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"What did you do?"

"I learned to be thankful for thorns.

"Sandra's eyebrows lifted. "Thorns?"

"I'm a Christian, Sandra. I've always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit. Did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers' of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra gasped. "A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God." She started to ask Jenny to "go on" when the door's bell diverted their attention.

"Hey, Phil!" shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra's arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. "I'm here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!" Phil laughed, heartily.

"I figured as much," said Jenny. "I've got them ready." She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement form the refrigerated cabinet.

"Beautiful," said Phil. "My wife will love them."

Sandra could not resist asking, "These are for your wife?"

Phil saw that Sandra's curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. "Do you mind me asking, 'Why thorns?"

"IN fact, I'm glad you asked, "He said. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage - our love, really. Last year, at Thanksgiving, I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems --- stems! --- As a reminder of what she learned from 'thorny' times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems, My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I'm pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition."

Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life, "Sandra said to Jenny.

"Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please."

"I hoped you would, " Jenny said. "I'll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." Jenny handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you'd like to read it first. Go ahead, read it."

My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorns! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow. George Matheson

I have reposted this every year since I received it a few years back. It's not something I ever thought of before - why in the world would I want to thank God for all the "thorns" in my life that have caused me so much grief, pain, aggravation and disappointments?  I have learned a lot over the last decade or two, and it has taken great pain, suffering, aggravation and disappointment for me to reach the point in my life where I am now.  We don't truly learn about life and about ourselves until we have suffered in some fashion - God gives us the opportunity to learn and grow through the trials and tribulations that we experience.  Many times, we can't make sense of it or find a purpose in it as we are experiencing the difficult times, but eventually, through God's grace, we figure it out and find meaning in it.  Maybe not today, maybe not next week or even next year - but He always guides us through and shows us the way.

I'm not a particularly religious person, I find myself questioning some things at times and I just kinda work things out with what makes the most sense to me.  But - I do believe we are given the "thorns" in our lives for a reason.  So - remember to be thankful for not only the good things in life, but also for those "thorns" that you are pricked with on occasion, for they do serve a purpose in our lives.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What I'm Thankful for.....

I see a lot of folks doing the 30 days of thankfulness for November and the month of Thanksgiving.  I'm not gonna participate - there are just so many things I am thankful for, 30 days just isn't enough!  But, to scratch the surface, here are some of the many people and things I am very thankful for, in no particular order:

*my son - I have learned so much from him, and have been able to teach him so much as well.  It has been such a pleasure and joy to watch him grow up and become a young man.  I think he is a well-balanced, well-rounded person, and he can argue the blue off a wall.

*my mom - while she is so far away most of the year in England, she is always there for me in some fashion.  I can depend on her to vent to, cry to, or just gossip and chat with.  She and I have always been close, and this distance is very difficult at times, but that just means we have to make the most of the times she's at home.

*my mother-in-law - she is such a wonderful person - she came into our home at a time when I really  needed someone to be there with me, in a physical presence.  She kept me from hiding away in the darkness of my room every night, suffering silently in loneliness and depression, taking my mind off of missing my husband and the stress of dealing with life while he was deployed.  She's also been like a mom to me, and oh how I appreciate that with my mother being gone most of the year.  I don't know what I would have done without her these last 8 or so months!

*my husband - never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would find a man that would love me in the way that he does - he accepts me, all of me, flaws, bitchiness and all.  Even across the distance that we faced over his deployment, he was there for me as much as he could be, if not via phone or Skype, then in spirit.  He knows just how to pick me up when I'm feeling down, and what to say when I'm hating life for one reason or another.

*my job - I am very thankful in this economy, to be employed. 

*our dogs - yes, they are a pain in the ass sometimes, but they are so much company and comfort at times and are such loving creatures.  They also provide a lot of entertainment, as they know how to entertain themselves wrestling and playing chase.

*my health - I'm not in perfect health, but I'm relatively healthy.  I am able to go and do pretty much whatever I want to, and there are far too many people in the world who cannot.

I feel so blessed to know the people that I know, and to have the opportunities in life that I have earned and those I have been given.  I hope you all have enough to live, to be happy, and to grow in your lives.