One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

For Grandma Betty

To Whom It May Concern: (an open letter from my husband, Luke)

Not being the crazy socialite that many of my friends and family members are, I don't tend to share intimate details of my life with the cloud.  However, yesterday morning my grandma Betty passed away in her home in Stanfield, Oregon after a long battle with cancer.  My mom and her sisters have spent the last few weeks at my grandma's side, taking care of her right up to the end.  I ask for your thoughts and prayers for my family as we learn to live in a world without my grandmother in it. 

We have so much to be thankful for; if there is any doubt, ask sometime about my cousin Wyatt's life flight from Baker to Boise a couple nights ago.  God has blessed our family and I am thankful for the chance to know my grandma as well as I do . . . (I guess that is, now, did).  Being one of the many grandkids who lived with Grandma and Grandpa for several years, I know first hand her love and her sense of humor.  Then of course, there was her saltshaker action (again, ask about it sometime). 

We will remember her for Friday nights around the piano, for her poetry, and for her gravelly voiced rendition of "Have you ever wondered when the hearse goes by..." Now that I think about it, I think Grandma may have been a little morbid to sing us that tune when I was the ripe old age of seven or eight.  And thinking about it more, many of her favorites were pretty morbid, just ask Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout!

Moving on...  For many people, their grandparents exist as a pleasant week or two in the summer and a few presents at Christmas and birthdays.  I have been blessed to have grandparents actively involved in my life and in shaping who I am today.  My grandfather taught me how to work, to pay attention to the details and to not give up when things get tough.  He also taught me that life isn’t fair: picture an elementary school kid playing him basketball or searching for an egg mounted inside a fence post.  Grandma taught me how to live.  She taught me to be honest and courteous.  She taught me how to laugh, to sing and to not take things at face value.   She tried to teach me about heartbreak when I was beginning one specific relationship, warning me “It isn’t just little girls that get hurt; little boys get hurt too.”  Unfortunately that one I had to learn first hand.  I said she taught, I didn’t say I listened. J

So this is the end…  Dramatic huh?  Don’t worry; it is just the end of this letter.  As a Christian, I feel the loss of a loved one as acutely as anyone else.  The difference comes in the form of hope and faith.  “Hope” that death has been defeated by Jesus and that what we call death is really only the beginning.  “Faith” that it is true.  This world is a darker place without my grandma’s light, but I know I will see her again.

Thank you Grandma Betty.  All my love, your grandson, --Luke

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paying it Forward

Perhaps I'm the only one out there a little miffed by the drive-thru-pay-it-forward kindness going on. Yes, I don't doubt it gives people a wonderful feeling inside when they pay for the order of the driver behind them. I don't doubt that the receiver of the gift feels happy and surprised. But I feel irksome when it happens at places like, say, Starbucks, because everyone is there getting pricey beverages or pastries. They must be able to afford it or they wouldn't be in line. It's almost a luxury, don't you think? And if everybody just keeps paying for everybody, well, why is it frowned upon when someone suddenly just accepts the gift?

I debated for a few months whether to even write about this, because I don't want to judge the people dining at Starbucks. I especially don't want to look down my nose at the person who maybe shouldn't spend her last two pennies on a frappuchino, because, really, we all deserve a little treat now and then. And the last thing I really want to do is criticize or judge how people choose to give.

Ah, but that is what I am doing.

Here's what got me all worked up. I read a news article about a particular Starbucks that had pay it forward going all day one day, resulting in I don't remember how many hundred orders paid for by the drivers in front. It came to an end when someone decided to accept the gift but not pay for the driver behind him or her. What did the barista do? He (or she) told the driver about the chain of kindness and asked if the driver wanted to keep it going. The driver did not. Then the barista said, quoted in the article, that he (or she) didn't think the last person really understood the concept of pay it forward.

I say maybe the person really did understand. Maybe the person thought that pay it forward wasn't about free fluffy drinks or making the news by setting some kind of record for a business. Maybe pay it forward to that driver was all about reaching out a helping hand to someone in need. Heck, I don't know, maybe that driver was the person spending his or her last two pennies on a drink. Suddenly having those pennies probably felt really great.

So I was pretty worked up over this issue, thinking over what pay it forward meant to me, when Luke and I became the recipients of a random act of kindness while visiting a Starbucks. I was first fuming about the truck in front of us with the four wheelers and elk head strapped to the back. I was going off about why people wanted to cut off animal heads and put them on their walls (I'll save that rant in the depths of my brain), when the truck left and Luke pulled up to the window. The barista told us our drinks were paid for and would we like to pay for the ones behind. I won't tell you what we decided to do, but I will admit I felt a little bad for thinking such evil thoughts about the people in the truck.

What spurred the person ahead of us to pay for our drinks? I don't know. I can't question his motives. I do hope it was in the spirit of spontaneous giving, or if not spontaneous at least not because he felt guilted into it. It was nice.

Rather than judging everyone or picking apart how they share money or gifts with others I really need to look in my own heart. What good is it to go around telling myself, Well, I'm not going to pay for that person's coffee because he shouldn't be drinking it anyway. (Hey, I'm not a hypocrite; I never said I drink coffee at Starbucks). It goes back to what I said about action compassion. I need to live with a spirit of giving that puts callouses on my hands. Not so I can show them to everyone and brag about what I've done, but so that I am not just talking and talking and talking about doing kindness but actually doing it.

I can't say I suddenly feel great about all this pay it forward in the media (I do like good news stories for a change, but . . . ), yet I will say that I hope my grumbling turns into active ways I can pay it forward out there.

And thank you to the hunter who paid for our drinks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bathroom Humor

Over the last month and a half we've been plunging into the world of bathroom remodeling. This means covering the upstairs in a fine layer of sawdust, adding more white hairs to our heads from splattering paint, hearing dear Luke hurl a curse word out the window, watching sweet Annie break down over obnoxious blue painters tape, being thankful for that emergency fund that Dave Ramsey told us to save up, and teaching stubborn Geddy to love taking a bath in the stall shower downstairs.

It all started with carpet around the tub. We never liked it there but we tolerated it. Then we realized that it wasn't meant to be a seashell pink but a stark white. The mold had to go! My naive belief was that we—and of course by we I meant Luke—would take out the carpet, lay down some new vinyl, and yea! Job done. Luke was all hands on and ready to finish the job in a week, then he came to the yucky orange vinyl under the carpet. After slicing, ripping, melting, and pulling out that hideous number he got to dig into damaged and crumbling underlayment. Finally he got to the beautiful subfloor. But this was only in the toilet and shower area of our two-part bathroom. We knew we had to go all the way. 

If there had been nothing on the floor the job might have been a little shorter, but naturally the toilet had to be removed. When Luke took out the toilet we decided the back deck would be the least confusing place to keep it. Geddy likes to play in the backyard. He found the toilet quite the neat attraction. As I kept trying to keep him away from the toilet while I cleaned it I thought, Huh, would it be too redneck to start potty training Geddy right there? He could run around without a diaper and if he had any accidents we could just let the neighborhood cat bury them. If he wanted to use the potty we wouldn't have to race him inside to the bathroom first!

Well Geddy decided against the potty training on the back porch, but I had trouble remembering where to use the facilities. One night I woke up with a great urge to pee, stumbled into the bathroom, and then thought to myself, Huh, when did we get one of those European toilets? The next morning I hoped it was only a dream that I had crouched over the hole in the night.

Along with the toilet, Luke had to remove our two pedestal sinks. That started a leetle leak. Geddy’s talking in his sleep woke me at four one morning. After checking on him and going back to bed I realized I heard a drip, drip, drip drip, sploop. Drip. Drip drip drip. Odd, I thought. I didn't hear that when I went to bed. Then it hit me. OH NO! The leaking from one of the sink faucets had caused the small dish we put down to overflow. I raced in there to find exactly what I feared: Our exposed subfloor was soaked. "We are going to have to cut part of it out!" I screamed in my head as I put a trashcan under the drip and used a towel to soak up the water. Luke never woke up during my frenzy. Fortunately, later in the morning he looked at it and said it would be fine. It just needed to dry. 

Well, two guys named Chip and Dale (I think those were their names) came to put the new floor in because Luke decided he wanted the floor so well done we wouldn't have to replace it in a few weeks. He still took on the plumbing and reinstalled the toilet and sinks. I ended up painting the walls with some late-night help from Luke the night before the new floor came. Of course we ran out of paint, but I won't go into that here. It was all starting to come together. Then I couldn't get the stinking sticky blue tape off from around two door frames that we had decided to leave on. So while I was crying and fuming over all the additional work, Luke took off the molding and a little bit of paint and wall with it. More crying and fuming. Then I spent a lovely afternoon scraping paint off the molding. Lesson learned: take everything off the walls to begin with and avoid the blue tape.

It was time to put the sinks back. I won't even list all the trips to Home Depot, but my wonderful husband made for a pretty hot plumber and the sinks were in solid without leaks. Then he called down the stairs to ask me to get a paper towel ready. What gross thing was he going to come hand me? I wondered. He appeared in the kitchen with white gunk on his fingers. Caulk. As I helped him wipe it off I asked him, Why didn't you wear gloves? He just smiled at me and didn't say a word.

If only this were the end of the story but I haven't much mentioned the bathtub. Right now it's nearing hour seventy-two of paint curing. Shouldn't we have painted it before the new floor went in? We don't do easy like that. Once that touch up project is over, Luke gets to caulk again and reinstall the fixtures for the shower. We did buy a new shower head, so that's fun. I do like to walk into our bathroom now and just admire it and ignore my painting mistakes. I'm thinking of permanently roping it off and making it into our museum feature. Every house should have one of those rooms, right? I can't stand the thought of something else going wrong and needing replacing so perhaps we'll just keep using the downstairs bathroom. As long as I don't head through the wrong door in the night when I need to pee, I think it will work out fine!