Thursday, October 30, 2008

Call This My On-Line Wallet...

Please pardon the interruption in regular blogging as I share Kailey's portraits from last weekend....(thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hanging Out With The Scarecrow...

Are we off to see the wizard? Nah...just having a weekend fall-fest at Nana and Papa's house!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FDR Speaking to the Future From the Past

On any given day, this speech given by Franklin D. Roosevelt is a remarkable one. But in the present atmosphere of our nation, it is amazingly relevant. If only the lessons he said we needed to learn way back then had actually been absorbed for the long haul...

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Inaugural Address on March 4th, 1933:

"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.
Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States—a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.
In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933, (as published in Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume Two: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: Random House, 1938), 11–16.L) (Highlights chosen by yours truly.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

When You Send A Kid To School In Rural NC...

...he'll come home one day and use "ain't" in a sentence.

Five years of training undone on the playground.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For All of You Introverts Out There

As I am waging a war against a very angry cold and had to make it through a round of immunizations for Kailey today (hate. the. shots.), I don't have much energy left for thinking original thoughts. So it's the perfect time to share someone else's blog, which I happen to greatly enjoy...welcome to Shrinking Violet Promotions. It's a blog about navigating the world of marketing and writing as an introvert...and their current project is compiling an official Introvert's Bill of Rights. Awesome, right? I totally want to join the revolution...dare to be silent! Dare to be alone! Dare to wear iPods at social events! Woo! Fight for your right party!

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Columbus Day!

In spite of disputes concerning his actual accomplishments, most Americans still give Christopher Columbus credit for 'discovering' America. We all know that 'in the year of 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue'. Wikipedia offers more information on the man himself, but I'd like to take a moment to ponder the immense task the first explorers faced.

In this modern day of highways, countless signs, and GPS, I'm still directionally challenged. I usually figure out new places by getting lost in them...just a week ago, I had a good 10 minutes of sheer panic because a police officer made me detour around a street festival--which meant I had to veer from my carefully written down directions. So, for me, the thought of hopping onto a ship and sailing out into the middle of the ocean, with no real knowledge of what might happen next (without cell phones!) is unfathomable. The exploration of the 'new world' took spunk, my friends. Real heavy-duty spunk. I wish I had that kind of courage--because imagine the thrill of spotting a land you've never seen before after all of that time bobbing around in the Atlantic. Imagine leaving your own civilized, populated city and arriving at this spread of natural beauty, completely unmarred by the 'advancement' of man (because the Native Americans knew how to live with nature and didn't have to conquer it in order to make their place in the world). What a rush the entire experience must have been--the fear and exhaustion must have been worth the excitement of discovery.

Thanks to technology and all that we have learned over the past hundreds of years, there's little left unseen in this world...but the possibilities for personal discoveries are endless. This world has so much to offer...and I feel like I have so much left to experience. Have you seen 'the Bucket List' with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? If you haven't, you should. After I stopped crying, I really thought about that list we all have--those goals we'd like to accomplish in our lifetimes, the places we'd like to see, the experiences we'd like to have.

So, in honor of Columbus Day, try to explore something on your list. It can be challenging to try something new--we all have a million excuses to not do it--but let's think like explorers. Whether it's an idea, a place, other people, an activity...let's allow the thrill of discovery to displace our complacency and fear. It's been said a million times, but it's still sound advice and I think that Columbus would agree with the sentiment: carpe diem! Seize the day!

Friday, October 10, 2008

For Our Viewing Pleasure

At the end of a very long day(that isn't over yet), which concludes a very long week(that isn't over yet), I feel like stealing a minute to let's watch one of the classic moments from one of my all time favorite shows, the Cosby Show. Rudy's baaaaabyyyyyy never fails to make me smile! And, if you're so inclined, please dance and sing along.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Taking Time

"Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I'd look up into the sky--up--up--up--into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer." ~Anne of Green Gables

Today, I feel like Anne. I am longing to go out into the middle of a big field spotted with wildflowers or the quiet of the woods that somehow feels sacred and I've often thought that nature, that the world in itself, is the perfect sanctuary...the perfect tabernacle. Every element reflects the nature of God Himself--what better place to find His presence?

I wish for a time without the noise of the news or the nagging knowledge that the floor needs mopping or the clock's insistence on ticking its way to the next scheduled errand...I wish to sit and breathe, to wait on God, to listen for nothing but His small voice. There's such value in waiting sometimes...but in our lives, there's no room for waiting. Even if we're forced to do so, like in a school pick-up line or a doctor's office, we're multi-tasking away...talking on cell phones, texting, paying bills, listening to the iPod...I'm the worst for this. If I get a spare minute, I actually feel guilty if I don't 'use' it.

The only down time I feel okay about is that special time at the end of every day, when I'm tucking the kids into bed...telling them stories, listening to them talk about their day, listening to their prayers. In those moments, I feel the best connection with them, because it's dark and there are no distractions--it's just us, just our little family, really communicating.

And, today, I'm thinking to myself--wouldn't I feel so much better if I took this time out for God? He deserves that kind of devotion and I need that kind of true communion with Him, so that I can keep my peace in the day to day course of life that is so unpredictable. Logistically, I can't run away to do this. I can't find a tiny chapel in the Alps empty of everything but an altar, I can't sit alone on a beach, I can't venture into the woods for hours of meditation and meandering.

But I can breathe in this gorgeous October weather as the kids play outside. I can put aside Fox News while I fold laundry and focus instead on His face...I can allow His presence to infiltrate all of the facets of my life. I just need to remember that my time is made up of what I put into even if I can't run away from all obligation to sit at His feet, He will dwell within me. Nature reflects His glory, but our bodies and minds were created to contain His glory.

So while I'm hanging out here, longing to spend time with Him, He's right outside--waiting to be invited in.

Here's a reminder for me and for you--don't forget to open the door. Our great big field of peace can be in the front seat of the car, the den, know. Just wherever we are.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I've had another short story accepted and you can find, at Perpetual Magazine. It's called "The Duck Hunter's Wife" and I'm so glad it has found a home!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Brand New Masterpiece

My little kindergartner's latest work of art...I believe the title is officially something like "Ladybug Carried by a Turtle". I'm a big fan of the artist!

Recent Moments That Have Stopped Me in My Tracks

Sean started kindergarten. Which is wonderful, weird, and scary all at the same time...he loves it. From day one, he has been excited to share all of the new things he's learning and doing, from Art class to centers to 'chasing dragons' on the playground with new friends. The weird and scary mostly apply to me. It's so strange to see him developing this new part of his life...he's creating his own independent world, apart from me. It's good for him, but it's been hard letting go of the 'control' over his days that I've had until this point. He's picking up new phrases, he knows people I don't know, he's learning things I'm not teaching him....he's becoming his own person. I'm incredibly proud of him...I just have to pray every day that God will protect him out there in that big world and that he'll have good experiences in this foundation of his education. (Also, there was that 'yikes' moment of realizing that I'm old enough to have a kid in school...wowsers.)

My sister graduated from nursing school and then passed her license test. She's a for real nurse. She can stick people with needles and stuff. Congrats, Mandy! I couldn't be prouder of you...

My in-laws are moving to a different state...they'll still only be a few hours away, so it's not as bad as it could be....but that leaves us here without any family around. Which is daunting. My parents-in-law have been incredible to me for as long as I've known them and they're definitely my go-to people...I've always been able to depend on them whenever I've needed an extra hand (which, with three kids, can be often!). Plus, the kids are accustomed to seeing them on a really regular basis, so I know it'll be an adjustment for them to not have their Papaw and Mimi around...but it's a good move for them, and I have to look at the bright side here. I'll learn lots of lessons in total self-reliance, which is good for me. Right? Right???? (Big, loooong sigh.)

Ahmadinejad, dictator of Iran, attending an 'international dialogue' dinner in New York and showing up as a guest on Larry King Live. Dude. This guy, by his own testimony, hates America and Israel. In fact, he was just gloating about the fact that the American empire was crumbling...and we, in turn, open a welcoming door to him. I can understand tolerance. I can understand being gracious to our enemies, to a certain extent. But inviting them in, letting them spew their hatred on our own soil, on our own networks--that, I cannot understand.

Oh, the election. I'm fascinated with the passion that has caught our nation up in this year's race, and I'm glad that there's a political discussion going on....but I'm irritated with negativity for negativity's sake. Spotlighting negative attributes that are based on facts, however...that's also called education. That's called knowing the candidate. I'm also irritated with certain media groups for being so blatantly unbiased that it's passed ridiculous...and when you expect your own opinions to be heard, people, you have to listen to the opinions of others. It's fair. The conservative party is constantly accused of being closed-minded, but it's a condition that is on both sides of the line. Do your research. Know the facts. And, of course, vote.

I sold a short story! Woo to the hoo! I'll link here on the ol' blog to the magazine's website when the story is up, which should be closer to the end of the month.

With the rest of the county, I've been watching the economic crisis with a scared, slightly confused, sense of foreboding. I have all these images of the Great Depression in my head, which include this movie my family used to own that came from Feature Films for Family...this really spoiled girl hits her head and goes back in time and experiences that period of time (which, of course, cures her of the brattiness and shallow attitude)'s odd, but when I picture the Great Depression, I see everything in this sort of brown and grey color the country was so poor that we didn't even have color anymore. Anyway, I think of the stock market crashing and suicides and hungry families...unemployment...nothing good comes to mind. The threat of an economic breakdown in our country is scary, no doubt. Even thinking of it makes me want to plant a garden, buy a cow, and stock up on toilet paper. But the key, I think, is to not panic. I, of course, have no idea how to solve the problem, but I am hoping that our leaders can figure it out before we all get a metaphorical hit on the head and have to learn some needed lessons the really, really hard way. Unlike the lucky girl in the aforementioned movie, we don't have the option of waking up to a restored present and apologizing to our grandparents for our selfish candy-bar business and questionable fashion sense.

And, in hopes of ending this session of blogettes on a positive note, I'll say that every day with my family stops me in my tracks with thankfulness. Because, even with the turmoil this crazy world is in, at the end of the day...I have a happy, healthy family and lots of love to fuel our future. We have to all remember that hope--and action to back up that hope--has gotten this country of ours through many, many, many uncertain times...and I believe that it will again. So let's all let our little whistles ring out loud and strong...(okay, I can't actually physically whistle--I never have been able to get the hang of it--but I'll hum, if that counts. Or sing. Or play Sean's Kazoo.)

Counting Down

Have you registered to vote yet? There are only a few days left....make your voice heard!