Monday, May 23, 2011

How can this be?

I was born 64 years ago today. That doesn’t sound so bad.

I am, as of today, 64 years old. That sounds bad. That sounds terrible. That feels terrible. To be 64 years old, an age that at one time, I thought was old. Okay, I thought it was VERY old. That was when I was 40, maybe.

So, it sounds terrible, and it feels terrible to have to realize I am 64. But, truth is, I don’t feel terrible. I am shocked (to realize my age), but I feel quite wonderful, thank you very much.
Do I experience any of the “pains” of being 64—of “aging" – oh, yes. Many things are different today than when I was 40, some good, some so NOT. Some day I may write a book on “Aging Gracefully.” I said SOME DAY, meaning, after I figure out how to do it. In that book, I would begin with a list (a long list) of all the things that change with time. Don’t even get me started on that list, today! But that hypothetical book would need to end with how to handle those changes gracefully. Nope. Not there yet.

No, I don’t have it figured out yet—I haven’t arrived at that “place” of being content to sit and smile with all my unspoken wisdom gained by successfully conquering this aging thing. Maybe that will be the topic of my blog on May 23, 2021, when I’m 74. Maybe.

But for now, I will sit and smile as I think about these things, on the day I turn *gasp* 64:

I have 64 years worth of blessings for which to be thankful. And I am.

Thank you, Lord for:
~giving me 64 years on this earth, a place not my final home, but a place I have enjoyed visiting for this many years so far!
~giving me the understanding and the heart that allowed me, as a child, to accept the gift of salvation, offered by You through the sacrifice of your Only Son, to pay the price for my sin;
~blessing me with parents who loved me, a father who was willing to admit his weaknesses and become your servant for most of my growing-up years (oh, yes, I do thank God for allowing me to be a Preacher’s Kid!), a mother who taught me how to be a wife and mother;
~blessing me with siblings who are my best friends and who are always there for me, and with whom I love to spend time and share life;
~blessing me with the gift of music, for my own enjoyment, a gift that can never be taken away; and for allowing me to use that gift in His service for so many years;
~blessing me with the love of my life, my husband who has been my only love since I was 12 (really!) and who continues to take care of me and love me as an “aging” woman, even more than he cared for and loved me as a young (very young!) woman (that is so amazing to me!);
~blessing me with the gift of teaching, and allowing me to share that gift with so many students who have come through my life through all these years;
~blessing me with the two most wonderful children any mother could have, each with his/her own characteristics that endear them to me and make me so thankful that God allowed me to bring them into the world and “mother” them for 39 and 40 years, so far!
~blessing me with four very special grandchildren, each of whom shows me God’s greatness, each time I see them, or even think about them; being a grandmother may truly be the greatest blessing any woman can experience, and one that, by the way, requires the passage of time!
~blessing me with good health and the strength to make wise choices that have contributed to my health and well-being;
~reminding me that while I am certainly getting older, You are not finished molding and making me to be more like you; help me to be that “sweet old woman” that I desire to be…

Well, I find that my list almost has no end. I could go on and on with the list of my blessings. Now, what does that say about those 64 years? It says that they have been wonderful years. It says that if BEING 64 YEARS OLD means having had these wonderful blessings, I’ll take it. I’ll not only take it, I’ll thank God for it.

So, yes, Happy Birthday to Me. It IS a happy birthday, but all because of God and the relationship I have with his Son, Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, for my birthday, and for using it to remind me of all YOU have done for me, so undeserving.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Siblings and Friends

It's just very special when your siblings are also your best friends, and that is the case with my brother Keith, my sister Janene, and myself. The older we get, the more we treasure our times together.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Conner's Pops Concert

Among the songs that Conner participated in were "Eye of the Tiger" and "Celebration."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Alyssa's Spring Concert

Alyssa is in three select choirs in Ozark High School. At the spring concert, the Women's Choir and the Chorale (which includes all members of the Varsity Singers, her third choir) performed, and it was an incredibly awesome concert. We were pleased to be able to be there. Alyssa's family attending: Mamo and Grandad (Russell and me), Mom (Sharida), brother (Dawson), Dad (James), and Grandma (Sharon). Alyssa is very serious about her music and is thinking about majoring in music education in college (currently finishing her junior year).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Such a Blessed Mom

IMG_1528 Dawson, Me, Sharida, AlyssaIMG_1540 Conner, Mark, Me, ToryIMG_1544Cards are always so special for me.
Yes, that’s me. Such a blessed mom. Every Mother’s Day I get to see and/or hear from both my children (and their families). This year was special because during this weekend, I was able to be with both my children and their families.

Friday night we drove to southwest Missouri to attend our granddaughter’s vocal concert (blog post/pictures coming shortly). Saturday morning we met for breakfast and some rare “visiting” time.

All Sundays are special for me, because I get to be in my son’s church and be blessed by his music and preaching. Today’s sermon made me feel especially honored as he said some wonderful things about his mom, as a part of a fantastic sermon about Super Moms in the Bible. During the message, he read the poem that my daughter wrote for me, on my 50th birthday. Tears flowed (and not just from me).

Dinner at our son’s home, to honor his wife and mom, was so fun—moms not allowed to lift a finger. How awesome is that! He grilled delicious fresh tilapia. Cardinals game topped off a special day.

Yes, I am so blessed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Facebook Follies: Fun and Fear (an opinion piece)

     Since my blog is a safe place for ME to record MY feelings, I am going to actually “blog” my thoughts on some observations that have rather slapped me in the face recently. I do not like the conclusions I have been forced to draw, but the thought process that led me to the conclusions has been healthy and has made me realize that facebook CAN have some major “pros” as well as cons. By witnessing an extreme case in the negative, the contrast between that and “the norm” has made me realize that facebook is not “bad” for everyone. 
     However, I have seen evidence that it is indeed possibly not only bad, but dangerous, for some. I’m not talking about the “duh” cases that we all know about--the stories of marriage break-ups, stalking, libel suits, and so on. But the observation I have made is about a phenomenon much less commonly known (certainly not often discussed).
     For now, I am a facebook “user.” [See Comments.] I control my facebook with very tight settings—not just for security. I decide not only whose feeds I will see, but also, who sees mine—I even prevent some of my “friends” from seeing my posts (*gasp*) for various reasons. But only as a facebook consumer would I have been able to see what I have recently seen. In a way, I wish I had not. But in a deeper way, I am glad I know. 
     While there are some things about facebook that I do not like and believe to be inherently evil, I also believe that for some people (and maybe the majority of healthy adults) it can be a good thing—a fun and interesting way to connect with and stay connected with real-life friends and family, a place to chit-chat about the important and the non-important in a friendly environment. Here’s an example of the good: a married couple, both on facebook, with each other listed as spouse, with many mutual friends who are also real-life friends and with whom they have real relationships, have facebook up, on their computers lots of the hours they are together in their home. The fun of facebook is a part of their time spent together, and is just one of many fun things they do together. The husband and wife in that example had a healthy and normal psyche and healthy and normal interpersonal relationships BEFORE facebook, and being on facebook does not change that, and in fact may well strengthen those areas.
     I’m reminded of my husband’s take on those who came back from serving in Viet Nam “all messed up.” When asked about that, he always replies, “The ones I know about were ‘all messed up’ before they went to Viet Nam.” 
     That ties in with my conclusion:
Facebook + social maladjustment = Dangerous Volatility
     That’s the brief version—the extended version would be this: Social networking in the hands of someone who is socially maladjusted and may also have jealousy, control and anger issues is, frankly, dangerous, especially for that person. It prevents their getting better; it stands in the way of social adjustment and healing. It stands in the way of nurturing relationships and in fact may lead them to alienate those who care the most about them. I believe this applies to very few people, so I would not jump to the conclusion that facebook is bad for all, or even for most. But it is bad for a person such as one who fits the description just given.
     Further indicators of the kind of person in whose hands social networking can be a dangerous thing:
1) They have very few real-life friends. They may have hundreds of facebook “friends.”
2) Their posts are almost 100% selfish or self-centered or materialistic, and if anyone else posts something “altruistic” or (heaven forbid) “spiritual,” the maladjusted individual often has derogatory comments.
3) Their posts almost all seem to be an attempt to get others to “want” their life. They make obvious their jealousy by attempting to invoke jealousy. They may even go so far as to post photos of “things” that are not theirs (cars, motor homes, land, home construction), with no explanation as to the real owner. When someone comments on the photo (maybe “is that yours?”), there is no response.
4) It sometimes (maybe most of the time) seems that person does things, goes places, or buys things SO THAT they can post it on facebook (see #3). This is absolutely true and absolutely dangerous.
     The reason I believe it is harmful to that individual to interact in a social network environment is this: Instead of helping them adjust, it fuels their maladjustment. They “live” in the facebook world, and by definition, that is not the real world. They spend their time in a fantasy world, NOT learning how to interact with real people. They may even become confused about who they are in real-life, because they begin to see themselves as the person they have “presented” to the facebook world (someone they would much rather be). That is why that person may have fewer and fewer real-world relationships. Real-world relationships require real-life interactions, and this person finds that increasingly difficult. And so, the social networking environment becomes their life and can be caustic to real relationships. (Note: I do not believe facebook is a fantasy world for most healthy adults.)
     In their own facebook world, they are the RULER. They get to say whatever they want (don’t dare disagree in a comment that follows), make themselves appear to be whomever they want, and this is the kicker: because it is THEIR world, they get to throw out all the “rules” that socially well-adjusted people adhere to—rules like be polite, don’t be rude, respect your elders, respect others’ opinions, don’t put others down, and on and on. Of course, anyone who is on facebook has those same “rights.” But, socially well-adjusted people do not break those rules. Or if they do let a conversation get out of hand, they apologize, maybe even remove the post that they realize makes THEM look bad, rather than just going deeper and deeper into their own cycle of appearing to prove their ignorance.
     When conversations “hosted” by a socially maladjusted person get out of hand, that person doesn’t know when to stop. They keep on until every reasonable person who was a part of the conversation eventually drops it, realizing that this person is not capable of sound reasoning, or at least obviously has chosen not to use it.
     People who care about an individual like this can do their part by not contributing to the festering maladjustment. That may mean not commenting (since any comment other than a total agreement may evoke anger and rage). If you are a person like myself, who cannot keep from commenting on a post that is 100% off-base (not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of fact), then the best course of action, for yourself, but mainly for the other individual, is to remove that person from your friend list. It is one thing to stand by and watch someone you care about self-destruct. It is another to be a part of it. This is particularly a good course of action if you also believe the other person should not see your posts (for example, if seeing good things about your life contributes to their dissatisfaction with their own). 

     Of course, the very best thing would have been not to have accepted the friend request in the first place. But, to reiterate, it was in the ongoing participation in facebook interaction that my observations have been made and conclusions drawn. 
     It is my hope that individuals such as those described here (thankfully, the exception rather than the rule) will find ways to heal. For that person, it seems crystal clear to me that non-stop facebook does not help. For that person, Facebook is a Folly, and one that should be Feared.